Book Reviews, Products I love!!

Book Review: The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni

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Overall: ***

Romance: **

Reading Rate: ***

Pages: 416

Publisher: HMH Books

Recommend if you liked: Fallen Kingdoms

I was very excited to read this story after seeing the synopsis, and this cover is absolutely gorgeous! I love trials and the idea of the prison healer was something unique but overall it fell short for me.

What I liked:

– I enjoyed the characters and the build out of their personalities even through the hardships they experienced.

– There was a lot of mystery about the world and the characters that carried through the story that I enjoyed.

What I struggled with:

– There is an epidemic within the prison that is a large part of the story. I don’t feel that it is very well timed and should be mentioned in the synopsis. I also didn’t feel it added more than filler to the story and would have enjoyed the book much more if it had been removed or reworked.

– While the story was not slow, it started to drag with a lot of repetitive scenes. I think the story could have been much shorter without losing any of the enjoyable and building elements.

– While I tend to enjoy darker books personally there are a lot if trigger warnings in this book especially for a young reader including rape, torture, self harm and the epidemic within the prison.

Without spoilers I felt the way the book ended really ruined a lot of the things that I had come to enjoy within the story. I understand it was done to create a bit of a cliffhanger and more story to have in the sequel, but for me it took the direction of the story in a direction I did not care for and I most likely will not be picking up the next book.

Synopsis:

When the Rebel Queen is captured, Kiva is charged with keeping the terminally ill woman alive long enough for her to undergo the Trial by Ordeal: a series of elemental challenges against the torments of air, fire, water, and earth, assigned to only the most dangerous of criminals.
 
Then a coded message from Kiva’s family arrives, containing a single order: “Don’t let her die. We are coming.” Aware that the Trials will kill the sickly queen, Kiva risks her own life to volunteer in her place. If she succeeds, both she and the queen will be granted their freedom.
 
But no one has ever survived.
 
With an incurable plague sweeping Zalindov, a mysterious new inmate fighting for Kiva’s heart, and a prison rebellion brewing, Kiva can’t escape the terrible feeling that her trials have only just begun.

Thank you to NetGalley and HMH Books for a copy of The Prison Healer in exchange for my honest review.

Book Reviews, Products I love!!

BLOG TOUR: THESE FEATHERED FLAMES by Alexandra Overy

On Sale: April 20, 2021

INKYARD PRESS

YOUNG ADULT FICTION/Fantasy/ Epic/Fairy Tales & Folklore/ Adaptations/Family/Siblings/Romance/LGBTQ+

About the Book

Three Dark Crowns meets Wicked Saints in this queer #ownvoices retelling of “The Firebird,” a Russian folktale, by debut author Alexandra Overy.

When twin heirs are born in Tourin, their fates are decided at a young age. While Izaveta remained at court to learn the skills she’d need as the future queen, Asya was taken away to train with her aunt, the mysterious Firebird, who ensured magic remained balanced in the realm.

But before Asya’s training is completed, the ancient power blooms inside her, which can mean only one thing: the queen is dead, and a new ruler must be crowned.

As the princesses come to understand everything their roles entail, they’ll discover who they can trust, who they can love—and who killed their mother.

About the Author

ALEXANDRA OVERY was born in London, England. Ever since she was little she has loved being able to escape into another world through books. She currently lives in Los Angeles, and is completing her MFA in Screenwriting at UCLA. When she’s not working on a new manuscript or procrastinating on doing homework, she can be found obsessing over Netflix shows, or eating all the ice cream she can.

Excerpted from These Feathered Flames by Alexandra Overy © 2021, used with permission from Inkyard Press/HarperCollins.

Chapter One

The prey wasn’t meant to be a child.

When Asya had smelled the sharp tang of magic—strong even before she emerged from the tree line—that possibil­ity hadn’t so much as fluttered across her mind. It was never meant to be a child.

But the scent of magic was undeniable. That indistinguish­able combination of damp overturned earth and the metallic copper of blood, cut through with the acrid burn of power. It was overlaid with the cloying sweetness of waterose, as if someone had tried to mask it.

A futile attempt.

And Asya was sure this time. The person they were look­ing for had to be here.

The comfort of the forest stood at her back, the dark can­opy of trees stretching behind her in every direction. The fading sunlight could not break through the writhing tan­gle of branches, so in the shadow of the trunks, it was dark as twilight.

Most people feared the forest. Stories of monsters that lurked in its depths, witches who lured unsuspecting children in and tore out their hearts. But to Asya it had always felt safe, the gnarled trunks and rustling leaves were like old friends.

“This is it,” Asya said, inclining her head toward the clear­ing in front of them.

A slight smile tugged at her lips. Two years ago, when her great-aunt had first deemed her ready to try tracking herself—to follow the magic with only her mortal senses once they were close enough to the source—she’d found it impossible. More often than not, she just led them in circles until Tarya gave up on her. But today, Asya had managed it.

She might not be as unwavering as her aunt, as strong or as dutiful, but at least Asya had succeeded in this.

She glanced over at Tarya, waiting for her reaction. But her aunt stood stiller than the trees, an immovable presence in their midst. The shadowed light filtering through the leaves cast her face in stark relief, carving deep hollows into her snow-white cheeks and emphasizing the wrinkles at her brow. She could have been a painting—one of the old oil portraits of the gods, soft brushstrokes of light adding an ethereal glow to her stern face.

It made her look otherworldly. Inhuman.

Which she was. One of the creatures that prowled these trees.

While Asya, or any other mortal, could smell the resid­ual magic, her aunt could feel it. No amount of waterose or burned sage—or any of the other tricks people tried—could hide magic from Tarya.

Her dark eyes flickered to Asya. “Correct,” her aunt mur­mured, a hint of satisfaction in her soft voice.

In front of them, the comforting trees gave way to an open paddock. It had been allowed to run wild, chamomile glint­ing yellow in the long grass, like sun spots on water. Pur­ple-capped mushrooms pushed their way through the weeds, intertwining with the soft lilac of scattered crocuses.

The tinge of pride in Asya’s chest melted away, replaced by a thrumming anticipation. The paddock could have been beautiful, she supposed. But the cold apprehension burning in her stomach overshadowed it, darkening the flowers to poisonous thorns and muting the colors like fog. It was al­ways like this. Ever since the first time Tarya had taken her on a hunt. Once she was left without a task to complete—a distraction—Asya couldn’t pretend to forget what came next. She’d hoped it would get better, but she still couldn’t shake the lingering fear.

She shifted her feet, trying to ignore the erratic rhythm of her heart. She hated waiting. Each frantic beat stretching out into an eternity.

She just wanted this to be over.

After all, her sister had always been the brave one.

But that was why Asya was here. Why she had to follow this path, no matter how she wavered. She owed it to her sister. They were the two sides of a coin, and if Asya failed, then her sister would too.

Tarya’s words—the words Asya had to live by—pounded through her. This is our duty. Not a question of right or wrong, but balance.

Her aunt stepped forward. She moved silently, slipping like a shadow untethered from its owner, from the gnarled trees and out into the overgrown paddock beyond. She didn’t speak—she rarely did when she felt a Calling—but Asya knew she was meant to follow.

Asya took a shaky breath, touching one finger to the wooden icon around her neck. An unspoken prayer. She could do this.

Far less quietly, she followed Tarya into the uneven grass, wincing at the snapping twigs beneath her boots.

The paddock led to a small cottage, surrounded by more soft crocuses. Their purple seeped out from the house like a bruise. The building’s thatched roof had clearly been recently repaired, and the gray stone was all but consumed by creeping moss. The stench of magic grew with each step Asya took. Wateroses lay scattered on the ground, interspersed with dried rosemary sprigs. The too-sweet scent, cut through with the burn of magic, made her stomach turn.

Tarya stopped by the wooden door. Marks of various saints had been daubed across it in stark black paint, uneven and still wet. Acts of desperation. They felt out of place in the idyllic scene. The sight sent a prickle of unease through Asya’s gut.

“Your weapon,” Tarya prompted, her voice as low as the rustle of grass behind them.

Asya’s fingers jumped to the curved bronze shashka at her waist. A careless mistake. She should have drawn the short blade long before. She couldn’t let the apprehension clawing at the edge of her mind overwhelm her. Not this time.

She had to be sure. Uncompromising. She had to be like Tarya.

Asya unsheathed the weapon, the bronze glinting in the fading light, and forced her hand to steady.

Her aunt gave her a long look, one that said she knew just how Asya’s heart roiled beneath the surface. But Tarya just nodded, turning back to the freshly marked door. Sparks al­ready danced behind her eyes—deep red and burnished-gold flames swallowing her dark irises. It transformed her from ethereal into something powerful.

Monstrous.

Asya swallowed, pushing that thought away. Her aunt wasn’t a monster.

Tarya reached out and pressed her palm to the wood. Heat rolled from her in a great wave, making Asya’s eyes water. A low splintering noise fractured the air, followed by the snap of the metal bolt. The door swung open. All that was left of the painted sigils was a scorched handprint. Asya’s mouth went dry. She couldn’t help but feel that breaking the saints’ signs was violating some ancient covenant.

But Tarya just stepped inside. Asya tightened her grip on the blade, trying to shake off the sense of foreboding nipping at her heels, and followed.

The cottage was comprised of a single small room. Heavy fabric hung over the windows, leaving them half in shadow. As Asya’s vision adjusted, she took in the shapes of furniture—all overturned or smashed against the cracked walls. Clothes were strewn across the floor in a whirl, along with a few shat­tered plates and even a broken viila, its strings snapped and useless. A statue of Saint Meshnik lay on its side, their head several paces from their armored body. The room looked like it had been ransacked, perhaps set upon by thieves.

Or like someone wanted it to seem that way.

Tarya turned slowly, her sparking eyes taking in the room. Then her gaze fixed on a spot to her left, and flames reared across her irises again. Asya couldn’t see anything. But she knew her aunt was not really looking at the wall, she was feeling—reaching for those intangible threads that bound the world and using them to narrow in on her prey.

Asya waited, her breath caught in her chest.

Tarya moved in a flash, as though Vetviya herself had looked down and granted her secret passage through the In-Between. One moment beside Asya, the next in front of the wall. Flames, as golden and bright as sunlight, sputtered from her wrists, licking along her forearms. She put her hands on the wall, and the flames eagerly reached out to devour.

They burned away what must have been a false panel, re­vealing a tight crevice behind. Three faces stared out, eyes wide and afraid. Two children, a boy and a girl, clutching onto a man with ash-white hair, now covered in a faint sheen of soot.

“Oryaze,” he breathed, terror rising on his face like waves over a hapless ship. Firebird.

Bile burned in Asya’s throat. She took a halting step back, staring at the huddled family. It’s the man, she told herself. It had to be. The thought murmured through her, a desperate prayer to any god or saint who might be listening.

The man leaped forward, spreading his arms as though hid­ing the children from view might protect them. As though anything he did would make a difference. “I won’t let you touch her!” he cried, grabbing one of the broken chair legs and brandishing it like a sword.

Asya clenched her teeth, a sharp jab of pity shooting through her. It would be no use. Nothing would.

The flames coiled lazily around Tarya’s wrists as she watched the man with a detached curiosity. “The price must be paid.”

He let out a low sob, the chair leg clattering uselessly to the ground as he clasped his hands together as if in prayer. “Please, take it from me. She didn’t know what she was doing.”

The room was too hot, the flames scorching the very air in Asya’s lungs. This is what has to be done, she intoned. This is our duty. The same words her aunt had hammered into her. Asya’s knuckles shone white on the hilt of her shashka, the cool metal tethering her to the ground, to this moment, and not the rising guilt in the back of her mind. A panic that threatened to crush her.

“I cannot,” Tarya said, her voice hollow. “The price must be taken from the one who cast the spell.” With a casual flick of her wrist, a burst of fire sprang at the man. He dived aside, toppling into an overturned table.

The little boy was crying now, soft whimpers barely louder than the spitting flames. But the girl did not cry, even as Tarya wrapped an elegant hand around her arm and dragged her forward.

Asya saw the stratsviye clearly against the milk-white skin of the girl’s wrist. A mass of black lines that coalesced to form a burning feather, seared into her flesh like a brand. The mark of the Firebird. The mark that meant a debt had to be paid.

“Please,” the man said again, pulling himself from the col­lapsed table. “Please, she didn’t mean to—”

“Asya,” her aunt said, without looking up from the mark.

Asya knew what she was meant to do, but her legs took a moment to obey. Muscles protesting though her mind could not. But she moved forward anyway, placing herself between the man and the little girl, shashka raised in warning.

No one could interfere with the price.

The man scrambled for the chair leg again, leveling it at Asya with trembling hands. “She only did it to save her brother,” he pleaded, emotion cracking through his voice like summer ice. “He was sick. She didn’t know the conse­quences.”

Asya’s gaze slid to the little girl. To the determined set of her jaw, her defiantly dry eyes. That look wrenched something in Asya’s chest. The resolve she’d so carefully built crumbled around her. She knew what is was like to have a sibling you would do anything—risk anything—for.

But Tarya was unmoved. “Now she will know—magic always comes with a price.”

He lunged. He was clumsy, fueled by fear and desperation. Asya should have been able to stop him easily, but she hesi­tated. A single thought caught in her mind: Is it so wrong of him to want to protect his daughter?

That one, faltering breath cost her. The man swung the chair leg at her, catching the side of her head. Bright lights danced in front of her eyes. She stumbled into the wall as the man let out a fractured cry and threw himself toward Tarya.

Tarya did not hesitate.

Another tongue of flame reared from her, forcing the man back. This one was more than a warning. The acrid smell of burnt flesh sliced through the scent of magic. A low, broken sob trembled in the air as the man clutched his now-scorched left side.

Tarya’s head snapped to Asya, flames flashing bloodred.

Ignoring the throbbing pain in her head, Asya darted for­ward. She grabbed the man’s arm and twisted, sending the chair leg tumbling to the ground again. It was painfully easy. The injury made his attempt to swing back at her fly wide, and her hands fastened on him again. She spun him, one arm wrapping around him, the other holding the shashka to his throat. Her chest heaved, and her head reeled. But she didn’t move.

He let out a low whimper, still trying to struggle free. Asya pressed the blade deeper, almost wincing as a trickle of blood ran down his throat. “Don’t,” she said, half command, half plea. “You’ll just make it worse.”

Tarya had already turned back to her prey. Her gleaming eyes, still threaded with flame, stared down at the girl. There was no malice on her face, just a cold emptiness. Asya wasn’t sure if that made it better or worse.

“You must understand, child,” Tarya said. “The price has to be paid.”

And in a breath, she transformed.

Flames devoured her eyes, spreading from the pupils until they were no more than luminous orbs. Twin suns, captured in a face. But the fire did not end there. It rose up out of her like a living thing. Glinting golds and burnt oranges twisted with deepest crimson to form hooked wings, spread behind her like a blazing cape. Another head loomed above her own, a vicious, living mask. It formed a sharp beak, feathered flames rising from it to forge the great bird’s plumage. They arched up into an expression of cruel indifference, mirroring the human features below. The very walls of the cottage trembled.

The Firebird.

Asya felt her hand go slack. A deep, instinctual fear sank into her bones. She had seen her aunt transform before, more times than she could count. But that primal fear never went away. The mortal instinct that she should run from this crea­ture.

She was eleven when she’d first seen her aunt exact a price. Asya had been naive and desperate to shirk her new respon­sibility, to run back to her sister. Tarya had brought her on a hunt to see—to truly understand—the weight of this re­sponsibility.

It had terrified Asya then. It still terrified her now, six years later.

Everything about the flaming creature exuded power. Not the simple spells mortals toyed with, but the kind of power drawn from the depths of the earth, ancient and deadly.

The girl could not hide her fear now. It shone in her dark eyes like a beacon as she tried to back away, but Tarya’s curled fingers held her tight. The boy was screaming. The sound rose in Asya’s ears to a high keening, writhing through her insides.

The creature—Tarya—looked down at the girl, head cocked to one side. Considering.

Asya wanted to close her eyes. To pretend she was some­where far away, safe beneath a canopy of trees. But she couldn’t.

She had to do this. This was the duty the gods had chosen her for. The burden she had accepted.

And looking away would feel like abandoning the little girl.

Asya tried to take a breath to steady her whirling thoughts, but the very air was bitter and scorched. Please be something small, she thought. Not her heart.

She couldn’t stand back and watch that. Or, perhaps, she didn’t want to believe that she would just stand aside as this monster tore the girl’s heart from her body.

Because Asya knew she would. Knew she had to. That was her price.

The flames spread down Tarya’s left arm, coiling like a great serpent as they bridged across her fingers to the girl. A cry tore through the air, raw and achingly human. The greedy, blazing tendrils wrapped around the girl’s arm, as un­moved by the screams as their master. They consumed the flesh as if it were nothing more than parchment.

In only a few frantic beats of Asya’s heart, the girl’s left arm was gone. Not just burned, but gone. No trace of it remained. No charred bone, not even a scattering of ashes.

The price had been paid.

The flames receded, the creature folding back in on itself until it was no more than a spark in Tarya’s eyes. All that was left was a heavy smoke in the air, thick and choking.

Asya let her hand holding the shashka fall. The man threw himself forward—though Asya had a feeling he would have moved even if her blade had still been at his throat—and clutched the little girl, who was still half-frozen in shock. The boy flung himself at his sister too, his screams reduced to gasping cries.

Asya’s stomach curled as she stared down at the huddled family, enclosed in a grief she had helped cause.

She backed away. It was suddenly all too much. The suf­focating smoke. The man’s ragged sobs. The blistered stump that had been the girl’s arm. Her aunt’s impassive face, as empty as the carved saint’s head on the ground.

Asya whirled around, pushing back through the broken door. She doubled over as she stumbled across the threshold, leaning a hand against the moss-eaten stone to keep upright. Bile rose in her throat.

It had never been a child before. Despite all the hunts Tarya had taken her on, all the training lessons, Asya hadn’t thought of that possibility—that it could be a little girl desperate to save her brother.

Something wet trickled from the wound on Asya’s head, but she barely felt it. Her insides had been hollowed out.

All she could see were the little girl’s eyes. The ghastly re­flection of the Firebird in them, looming and monstrous. A creature of legend.

A creature that, one day, Asya would become.

Book Reviews, Products I love!!

Book Review: Haven by Mary Lindsey

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Overall ****

Reading Rate: ****

Romance: ****

Recommend if you liked: Crave series, Shiver, Shadowhunters

This was a dark yet fun and fast paced YA paranormal story with a pretty decent amount of romance.

What I liked:

  • I enjoyed the characters and the darkness of the world. The kids deal with difficult and heartbreaking situations and the story even got a little creepy reading at times at night.
  • Unique magic system
  • It was really fun for me that the story is based in Texas since that is where I am from

What I struggled with:

  • Similar to issues in the Shadowhunters books there is a lot of people stuck in their old ways and a large lack of communication.

While the ending did wrap up nicely it left things open for more story, I was ready to learn more about the world and see what mayhem the characters encountered next.

Thank you to Mary Lindsey and Entangled Teen for a copy of Haven in exchanged for my honest opinion.

Synopsis: We all hold a beast inside. The only difference is what form it takes when freed.

Rain Ryland has never belonged anywhere, He’s used to people judging him for his rough background, his intimidating size, and now, his orphan status. He’s always been on the outside, looking in, and he’s fine with that. Until he moves to New Wurzburg and meets Friederike Burkhart.

Freddie isn’t like normal teen girls, though. And someone wants her dead for it. Freddie warns he’d better stay far away if he wants to stay alive, but Rain’s never been good at running from trouble. For the first time, Rain has something worth fighting for, worth living for. Worth dying for.

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Book Review: Covet by Tracey Wolff

Covet by Tracey Wolff Book Review, Book 3 in the Crave series 

53426743Overall: ***

Romance: ***

Reading Rate: *****

Publisher: Entangled Teen 

Recommend if you liked: Vampire Academy, Shadowhunters, Jennifer L Armentrout works

Spoiler for the prior books in the series Crave and Crush, but you can check out my spoiler free review of Book 1, Crave here

I was so so so excited for this book release. I very rarely read books as they come out but I could not help myself in needing to know what happened next after the way Tracey ended Crush. Overall this was another fast paced and fun book that I devoured in about two days. While overall the story was still fun, it took on more serious notes that the prior books and even had me tearing up a few times.

What I liked:

  • I loved that I was not sure what was going to happen, while I jumped ship to #teamhudson towards the end of Crush I still had no idea which guy Grace was going to end up with.
  • The crew got out of the school even more in book and we got to see a lot of new places and meet new characters/creatures.
  • While the whole love triangle is going on there is still this whole other in depth story line that is still being built, the romance does not steal or stop the show.

What I struggled with:

  • Some things were a bit repetitive with school activities and interactions between characters.
  • While the characters make some rash and not well thought out decisions I have to keep in mind that most of the characters even with being supernatural are still only in High School.

Needless to say I cannot wait for the final book Crowned to release in September to find out how Tracey ends this story…. And to put me out of my misery (JK, JK).

Synopsis:

I may have reached my breaking point. As if trying to graduate from a school for supernaturals isn’t stressful enough, my relationship status has gone from complicated to a straight-up dumpster fire.

Oh, and the Bloodletter has decided to drop a bomb of epic proportions on us all…

Then again, when has anything at Katmere Academy not been intense?

And the hits just keep coming. Jaxon’s turned colder than an Alaskan winter. The Circle is splintered over my upcoming coronation. As if things couldn’t get worse, now there’s an arrest warrant for Hudson’s and my supposed crimes—which apparently means a lifetime prison sentence with a deadly unbreakable curse.

Choices will have to be made…and I fear not everyone will survive.

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Book Review: Crown of Bones by A.K Wilder

Crown of Bones (Amassia #1) by A.K. Wilder

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  • Overall: *****
  • Reading Rate: *****
  • Romance: ***
  • Pages: 490
  • Publisher: Entangled Teen
  • Recommend if you liked: Throne of Glass or Dark Shores

This was my second read of the year and my second 5 star read in a row! I admit I read the synopsis and while I was intrigued I didn’t think I was going to love this story…. boy was I wrong! The story dives right into the action from the very beginning and does not stop until the very last page. In the world of Amassia there are gifted being with magic that arises in a form referred to as a Phantom which can be animal, human or even beast form. The story follows Marcus the Heir of Baiseen, his best friend and scribe Ash, and a band of other savants as they make the treacherous journey to a legendary island where the Prince must complete his training to keep his crown and possibly keep the world from war.

What I liked:

  • This book has ALL the YA Fantasy elements! Magic, magical creatures, harrowing journeys, adventures on the high seas, trails and even a little bit of romance.
  • The character building and the world building is wonderful, I felt like I learned about each person and each place they stopped.
  • This story never had a lull, there was always something going on and everything that happened was relevant to the story.

What I struggled with:

  • Honestly guys I really don’t have anything bad to say about this book. The only thing that got me was that it ends on a massive cliffhanger and I cannot wait for book 2 to release!!!

Thank you to Entangled Teen and A.K. Wilder for a copy of Crown of Bones in exchange for my honest opinion.

Synopsis:

Raise. Your. Phantom 

For fans of epic fantasies and sweeping adventures, this ensemble cast will immerse you in a world of unique magic, breathtaking action and unforgettable characters.

In a world on the brink of the next Great Dying, no amount of training can prepare us for what is to come …

A young heir will raise the most powerful phantom in all of Baiseen.

A dangerous High Savant will do anything to control the nine realms.

A mysterious and deadly Mar race will steal children into the sea.

And a handsome guide with far too many secrets will make me fall in love.

My name is Ash. A lowly scribe meant to observe and record. And yet I think I’m destined to surprise us all.

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Book Review: Corrupt by Penelope Douglas

Corrupt (Devil’s Night #1) by Penelope Douglas 

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  • Overall: ****
  • Reading Rate: ****
  • Romance: ****
  • Pages: 461
  • Recommend if you liked: Den of Vipers, Unsainted other Penelope Douglas works

*Multiple potential triggers are present in this book

After I finished reading the first book in Douglas’ Bully series I was looking for something a little more adult so was recommended trying out her Devils Night Series…. So glad I did guys. 

This book follows the stories of Michael and Erika as their worlds collide again after a fateful night in High School. But things are different now because Michael and his friends are out for revenge and Erika is enemy #1. 

What I liked:

  • This is marketed as romantic suspense  or dark romance and my goodness I was on the edge of my seat for the entire book
  • It is dark and twisty and you really have no idea if the story is going end on a high note or crash and burn. I had to know what happened next but didn’t want it to end
  • It was quite “steamy” (that will be funnier after you read) and the romance and sex are on the darker side which I really enjoyed.

What I struggled with:

  • I personally do not have a lot of triggers but acknowledge that this book is not for everyone and could be very triggering. The books is 100% adult and has mature themes throughout even though it bounces back and forth from high school to college.
  • The thing that kept me from giving the books five stars was that as the reader seeing both sides of the story we were clearly able to see the major flaw with the revenge plot line of the book. Its a personal pet peeve of mine where issues are created in a book solely because characters fail to communicate but without that element there would be no story so I am only a tiny bit mad at it. 

P.S. The entire series is available on Kindle Unlimited for ebooks and Scribd for audiobooks!

Synopsis:

Erika
I was told that dreams were our heart’s desires. My nightmares, however, became my obsession.

His name is Michael Crist.

My boyfriend’s older brother is like that scary movie that you peek through your hand to watch. He’s handsome, strong, and completely terrifying. The star of his college’s basketball team and now gone pro, he’s more concerned with the dirt on his shoe than me.

But I noticed him.

I saw him. I heard him. The things that he did, and the deeds that he hid… For years, I bit my nails, unable to look away.

Now, I’ve graduated high school and moved on to college, but I haven’t stopped watching Michael. He’s bad, and the dirt I’ve seen isn’t content to stay in my head anymore.

Because he’s finally noticed me.

Michael
Her name is Erika Fane, but everyone calls her Rika.

My brother’s girlfriend grew up hanging around my house and is always at our dinner table. She looks down when I enter a room and stills when I am close. I can always feel the fear rolling off of her, and while I haven’t had her body, I know that I have her mind. That’s all I really want anyway.

Until my brother leaves for the military, and I find Rika alone at college.

In my city.

Unprotected.

The opportunity is too good to be true, as well as the timing. Because you see, three years ago she put a few of my high school friends in prison, and now they’re out.

We’ve waited. We’ve been patient. And now every last one of her nightmares will come true.

 

Have you read Corrupt? What did you think? Any other books like this one you think I should read?

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Book Review: Hollow Heathens by Nicole Fiorina

Hollow Heathens (The Tales of Weeping Hollow #1) by Nicole Fiorina 

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  • Overall: *****
  • Romance: ****
  • Reading Rate: *****
  • Pages: 571
  • Recommend if you like: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Punk 57, Shadowhunters

Guys you know I do not give out 5 star ratings lightly so was so pleasantly surprised when this book just blew me away. I have been on a huge dark romance kick and basically reading anything recommend by @ashhob1229 on Instagram. After hearing her rave about Hollow Heathens and Fallon and Julian I had to give it a shot.

I was also super excited to get back to some paranormal with my dark romance. The story starts out with Fallon driving to the mysterious town of Weeping Hollow to take care of her ailing Grandfather. Fallon’s Nanny had told her bedtime stories about the town but she wrote them off as pure fantasy and soon discovers there may be more to the stories than she thought as she tries to settle in amongst the strange residents and the Heathens.

What I loved:

  • I love the creepy aesthetic of the whole town and the world building
  • The mystery and the angst are so so good!
  • The characters, I love that Fallon is unusual… I mean she is a mortician! Please don’t get me started on Julian
  • The romance! While the characters are adults there is a lot of innocence about them so it reads more like a YA story with some adult content.

What I struggled with:

  • I did not struggle but I think some folks could struggle with the lack of information you have throughout the book. It is so so worth it so push through!

Guys I could not put this book down! I was terrified about how the story was going to end and just knew I was going to be totally crushed!!! While this book can be read a a standalone Fiorina will be writing more stories in the same world. In the meantime I am going to go read everything else she has written to try and cure my hangover.

Synopsis:

A forbidden, timeless, and haunting love story.

Once upon a time, there lived a girl named Fallon who was taken far away from home shortly after she was born.

A home that held more than strange traditions and bizarre superstitions.

Twenty-four years later, she returned to Weeping Hollow, a town she’d only heard about in stories during restless nights under a marble moon, in the middle of the night to take care of her last living relative.

They called the nosy mortician a freakshow–a ghastly thing.

They said I couldn’t go near her.

Still, there was this aching pull to Fallon Grimaldi that I couldn’t escape.

A nostalgic pull as if we’d been here before.

Once upon a time, there lived a mysterious boy named Julian with a curse as old as centuries wrapped around his soul.

He was one of the four Hollow Heathens, the very dark creatures who caused the town’s people to live in fear.

And the Blackwell name was stained with darkness and death.

They called him a monster. Cold and hollow.

They said I shouldn’t go near him.

Still, there was this aching pull to Julian Blackwell that I couldn’t escape.

A nostalgic pull as if we’d been here before.

 

Have you read any books by Nicole Fiorina? If so, what did you think?

Book Reviews, Products I love!!

BOOK REVIEW: Lux Beginnings by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Lux Beginnings is the first two books in the Lux series. Onyx and Opal
  • Overall rating: ****
  • Reading rate: *****
  • Romance: ****
  • Recommended if you liked: Other JLA Works

I am a pretty big JLA fan so I cannot believe that it took my so long to get to her LUX series. I read the first two books in just about 2 days and was so bummed when I realized I had the 5th book and not the 3rd like I thought. An urgent Amazon order had to be placed!

I dont read a whole lot of sci-fi but it was really neat to read an Alien book in a style of writing I really enjoy.

What I liked:

  • I loved that the female MC is a bookworm and book blogger. 
  • Fast paced and sucks you right in, you just have to keep reading to find out what happens next!
  • In typical JLA fashion you are on a total romance roller coaster screaming at the characters to give in already!! Sounds negative but it makes the book so much more exciting and I could not put the story down!

What I struggled with:

  • There is a bit of bullying in the beginning and for me that is super frustrating, but it more than makes up for it as the book goes on. 
  • I feel like some of the major reveals were predictable but there were still some curve balls thrown at you so the story was still overall very enjoyable. 
Book Reviews, Products I love!!

Book Review: Greythorne by Crystal Smith

Greythorne (Bloodleaf #2) by Crystal Smith

Overall: ***

Romance: **

Reading Rate: ****

Publisher: HMH Books

Release Date: September 1, 2020

Pages: 352

Recommend if you liked: The Remnant Chronicles

After the ending of Bloodleaf I was ready to dive right into Greythorne to find out what happened next with Aurelia and Zan!  I was very surprised to see that Smith took the storyline in a very different direction for this book so I struggled in the beginning with the shock of the character changes.

What I enjoyed:

  • New magic systems elements presented
  • As the story progressed and we learned more about the new characters I found myself getting sucked in again and enjoying the new twists.

What I struggled with:

  • While I enjoyed the overall story line, I struggled with the use of Spectral Travel and Time Travel to explain a large amount of the happenings in the story. I felt the use of these elements really did more to undo to story than to wrap it up.
  • The time travel gaps along with the recurring theme of people dying and coming back caused this book to fall short of its predecessor for me.

I also have to admit that I am sad about the cover change, the originals were some of my favorites.

Synopsis:

Princess Aurelia’s life is turned upside down when the kingdom she thought she saved turns to ruin, a loved one is tragically killed in a shipwreck, and her home country refuses to respect her brother’s legitimate claim to the throne. With no place left to call her own, Aurelia returns to Greythorne Manor—her best friend’s family mansion—only to get swept up in a coup d’état on the night of her brother’s coronation.

With everyone turned against her and enemies closing in on all sides, Aurelia has nothing left to lose in a mad fight to protect the only people she has left—her family. But in her darkest moments when all seems grim, will Aurelia find a spark of hope from a love she thought long lost?

Thank you to NetGalley and HMH Books for the opportunity to read Greythorne in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Reviews

Blog Tour: These Vengeful Hearts by Katherine Laurin

I am thrilled to be a part of the Inkyard Press Blog Tour for These Vengeful Hearts by Katherine Laurin. Guys this book sounds so so good!

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Mean Girls meets Siobhan Vivian’s The List in THESE VENGEFUL HEARTS, an utterly addictive standalone YA debut that follows 16-year-old Ember Williams as she seeks revenge against the Red Court, a secret organization of Heller High’s most elite female students that specializes in granting and requesting favors—and which is responsible for the accident that left her older sister paralyzed.

A thrilling novel about a secret society and the dangers that lie in wait for anyone brave enough to join—perfect for fans of Karen M. McManus, Kara Thomas, and Maureen Johnson.

Whenever something scandalous happens at Heller High, the Red Court is the name on everyone’s lips. Its members deal out social ruin and favors in equal measure, their true identities known only by their leader: the Queen of Hearts.

Ember Williams has seen firsthand the damage the Red Court can do. Now, she’s determined to hold the organization accountable by taking it down from the inside. But will the cost of revenge be more than she’s willing to sacrifice?

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Katherine Laurin lives in Colorado with her husband, two sons, and tiny dog. When she’s not writing, Katherine enjoys reading, traveling, hiking, and listening to true crime podcasts. These Vengeful Hearts is her first young adult novel.

 

PRAISE:

“Ember draws readers into the drama of finding the members of the Red Court… Recommend this to fans of E. Lockhart’s The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks and Daisy Whitney’s The Mockingbirds.” –School Library Journal

“Laurin’s novel tackles the destructive power of high school bullying through characters who are compelling in their complexity.” –Kirkus Reviews

 

EXCERPT

 

chapter one

Of the ways I’d want to start a Monday, finding a car cov­ered in blood was not one of them. The murmurs began just after first period, and fragments of muted conversation led me out to the Heller High parking lot. I was curious to see the spectacle drawing so much attention.

The crush of students flowing out of the school buoyed me along in a tide of bodies. Between gaps in the crowd, I caught glimpses of the word smeared across the car’s wind­shield in blood red relief.

LIAR

Gray clouds hung low, casting the macabre tableau in wa­tery light. The chill that slithered up my spine had nothing to do with the brisk October morning. I skirted a group of girls in front of me, recognizing familiar faces from my ge­ometry class, and found myself staring down at the thick crimson streaks. The letters looked nearly dry, and I couldn’t fight the morbid impulse to touch them. A distinct tackiness remained. Was it corn syrup or actual blood? I didn’t care to investigate further.

There was no proof that the infamous secret organization made up of Heller High’s elite even existed, but this exhibi­tion had all the makings of a Red Court takedown. Whis­pers from the ring of students surrounding the car reached me and I stepped backward, edging away from notice until I was part of the throng gathered to witness the scene. It didn’t seem like anyone was paying attention to plain old jeans-and-a-tee-every-day Ember Williams. Good.

Other words, some so ugly I couldn’t look at them for more than a moment, marred the rest of the car’s windowed sur­faces. My eyes skipped to the girl huddled beside a tree next to the parking lot. Tears stained with mascara ran in inky rivulets down her cheeks. Two of her friends rallied around her, whispering softly.

No amount of consolation was going to wash away the stain from this one. More than a few heads from the crowd were turned in her direction. I didn’t know her name, but I had a feeling she’d be remembered as that girl, the one whose car was vandalized with blood. She’d been marked by the words we’d all seen: liar, cheater, tramp.

Why did the Red Court target her? Who wanted this girl humiliated—to be brought so low in front of the whole school? Or had she been reckless enough to throw in with them and ask for a favor she couldn’t repay? No. The vulner­ability in her expression was too raw to fake. This girl was a pawn in the Red Court’s game. The pull to learn more about the group known for dealing out ruin and favors in equal measure went beyond cursory interest. I needed to know more.

My stomach gave an uncomfortable tug, as if my body was eager to put distance between me and the girl now that I’d seen the damage. A sob shuddered through her, and I tore my gaze away, shifting my feet and noticing a stickiness below my sneakers. A thick coat of red clung to the bottom of my shoes, marking me too. Ugh. I must have stepped in a pool of the blood. I told myself it was fake blood because I couldn’t stomach the alternative. I’d have to go change into my run­ning shoes before next period.

“Everyone back inside,” a teacher called from the main doors. His tone left no room for argument.

The mass of students quickly dissolved, moving back into the school. The whispers rose to chatter as theories were passed around like mono on prom night. I trailed behind a couple holding hands as they maneuvered through the crowd.

“This is the worst one so far,” the girl said.

Her boyfriend scoffed. “Worse than the video of Brett Shultz’s keg stand? No way. He got kicked off the football team for that. Brett had Division I schools scouting him, too.”

A rogue Facebook account cropped up just after the school year began with some incriminating footage of the varsity running back at a party in a stunning display of upper body strength and chugging technique. The video made it all the way to Principal McGovern, who reluctantly had him re­moved from the team, along with the school’s shot at a state title.

“Do you really think she cheated on her boyfriend?” some­one behind me asked.

“Does it matter?” his friend responded.

I shook my head in silent reply. It didn’t matter. That was the power of the Red Court; gossip and innuendo were all it took for a star student to fall from grace after accusations of cheating.

As I passed a small cluster of teachers just inside the doors, I stepped nearer to catch the edges of their hushed exchange.

“—needs to do something.”

“The district’s policy on bullying—”

“I know the policy, but this is beyond ‘bullying.’ It’s the third time since the school year began.”

This may have been the third public display of destruc­tion in the last six weeks, but it was hardly the third time the Red Court had struck. Their takedowns were legendary and highly visible to ensure maximum exposure, but they also excelled in the small things no one would notice unless they were looking for anomalies. My eyes were wide open.

For as long as anyone could remember, there have been ru­mors that the mysterious Red Court was pulling the strings behind the scenes at Heller High School. Its ranks were shrouded in mystery, but its influence was undeniable. Rigged Student Council elections, changed grades, and ruined repu­tations were all in their repertoire.

Half of the school treated them like the Boogeyman, the near mythical thing that was out to get you. It was easier to deny their existence than to acknowledge the specter of their presence. Takedowns like the one outside were as likely to be attributed to the Red Court as they were to be pinned on anonymous wannabes posing as the Red Court to allay sus­picion. It seemed like the other half of the over two thou­sand students at Heller made a sport of trying to guess which members of the prom court were legitimate and which ones owed their wins to the Red Court.

But I knew the truth.

The Red Court was real, and I needed in.

I pushed my way through the crowded halls to get to my locker. All around me a chorus of voices carried the news of the Red Court’s latest victim, the story spreading faster than I could move.

My phone buzzed in my pocket. It was probably my best friend. I ducked into an alcove to check my texts.

Gideon: Did you hear?

Me: I saw, actually

Gideon: And?

Me: It was probably them. Who else would mess around with that much blood?

Gideon: Ew. Was it real blood?

I thought of my shoes again and shuddered.

Me: Who cares? The car looked like the prom scene from Carrie. They got their point across.

Gideon: I saw Mrs. Martin leading the girl into her office.

If something like that ever happened to me, I’d want to be put in the hands of the nicest—and most capable—guid­ance counselor, too.

Me: Yeah, I saw her outside.

Gideon: It’s too bad. She looked wrecked.

We were reaching the point in the conversation at which I was supposed to condemn the monsters who did this. I wasn’t ready to go there with Gideon. Revealing the true depth of my disgust at everything the Red Court stood for was not something I could do over text. Truthfully, my feelings about the Red Court were this gnarled mass inside of me, too big to start talking about at all.

Me: I gotta run. Lit is calling.

Gideon: Ok, see you after.

Before I’d made it halfway across the school, the warning bell rang. I gave up the attempt to change my shoes and turned to book it upstairs so I could suffer through American Lit with a room full of disenchanted sophomores. Oh joy. On an ordi­nary day, class was a chore to get through. On a day like today, with my mind busy dissecting the latest Red Court takedown, it seemed like my school would live up to its nickname after all. Welcome to Hell High.

“Ember?” Mr. Carson called my name like a question.

Crap. I must have missed something. I couldn’t seem to concentrate on Mr. Carson’s analysis of Leaves of Grass, which was a shame. Whitman had some serious 19th century game going on. “I sing the body electric” gave me chills the first time I read it.

“Yes, Mr. Carson?”

He sighed impatiently. Or perhaps disappointedly. “Do you have any thoughts on the final section?”

I glanced at my notes from the night before to read the scribbles aloud, but a mocking voice cut in.

“Whitman’s talking about the physicality of the body and how it is part of the soul or is the soul. Like it’s just as impor­tant as the soul, which at the time was elevated above a per­son’s body in significance.”

I threw a baleful look toward Chase Merriman—insuffer­able know-it-all—and was given a smug half-smile in return. He just loved to one-up me. Mr. Carson turned his gaze to me for more input, but my premeditated discussion points wouldn’t add anything to the dialogue. I gave my Lit teacher as unaffected a shrug as I could manage even though a sharp retort branded with Chase’s name tried to claw its way out of my throat. I pushed it down, not deigning to give Chase the satisfaction of knowing he got under my skin.

Mr. Carson continued droning on, asking for our “thoughts” and “feelings” about the poem. Poor guy didn’t seem to un­derstand his audience. Disengaged was our default setting. It really took some doing to rouse us. Though Whitman’s work was taboo back in the day, most of the students here had prob­ably seen something more risqué in their Instagram feeds over breakfast this morning.

The bell rang and Mr. Carson’s shoulders slumped. Another day of not making a difference. I almost felt bad for him, but this was his chosen career path. He had to know what he was getting into when he signed up to teach freak­ing poetry at a public school.

“Could you hang back a minute, Ember?” Mr. Carson’s words caught me six inches from the door and freedom.

I smiled tightly. The next period was my off-hour, but Gideon would be waiting. Every moment I wasted in the classroom diminished the chances of running out for my caf­feine fix, which were already slim since I had to trek back across the school to change my sneakers first. I would not spend a moment longer than necessary in these shoes.

“What’s up, Carson?” He was one of those teachers who thought using “Mr.” in his title meant he was uncool, so I dropped it whenever I needed extra brownie points. Not that my brownie point bank account was in that much need.

“It’s unlike you to space out during an epic poetry discus­sion. Everything ok?”

Mr. Carson was probably my favorite teacher, and we had a strong rapport, but I couldn’t tell if his use of “epic” was sincere. I hoped for his sake he was being cheeky.

“Just having one of those days, you know?” Vague, Ember, be vague. “I’m sure I’ll be back to contributing the only mean­ingful insight tomorrow,” I added with a rueful smile, which he returned.

“Sounds like a plan. So you know, I’m always here if you need an ear.” He shut his copy of Leaves of Grass with a snap, effectively ending our conversation.

“Thanks!” I bolted out the door as fast as I could without seeming rude.

Running down the steps two at a time, I nearly crashed into Gideon as he waited at the foot of the stairs near the school’s main entry.

“What’s the rush, Em?” His words came out in a whoosh as he caught me.

“I need to stop by my locker before we get coffee. Let’s go!”

“Seriously? There isn’t time for a detour if we’re going to make it back before the hour is up. Let’s just hit the library instead.”

He was right of course, but I was in desperate need of a large Americano. I wanted to argue, but once Gideon made a decision, there was no way he’d change his mind. If only there was someone as bullheaded as him on the debate team with me.

Gideon broke down what he’d heard about the takedown this morning as we walked through the halls. I was too busy sulking to add to the commentary. I spun the combination on my locker, wondering how in the world I could explain the bloody shoes to my mom. The door swung open, and I tossed my bag to the ground. I was already toeing off my sneakers when a flash of red caught my eye.

The Queen of Hearts sat alone on the top shelf of my locker, the coy smile on her face said she knew something I didn’t. If the rumors were to be believed, she did. A Queen of Hearts was the eponymous calling card of the Red Court’s leader, and its presence could only mean one thing: my invi­tation had finally come.

 

Excerpted from These Vengeful Hearts by Katherine Laurin, Copyright © 2020 by Katherine Laurin. Published by Inkyard Press.

SOCIAL LINKS:

Twitter: @writerkatherine

Instagram: @kl_writer

Author Website: https://katherinelaurin.com/

 

BUY LINKS:

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Indie Bound