Posted in book review

The Calm Before the Storm

Title: The Calm Before the Storm

Author(s): Danielle L Jensen

Genre: Fantasy

Format: Ebook

Would I Recommend? Yes!

Book Rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Spice Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Synopsis

You have just saved Ithicana from the wrath of your father. He manipulated you, destroyed your trust in people, and endangered all you hold dear. Unfortunately, due to the doomed circumstances of your father’s actions, you are now attempting to rebuild the trust of the Ithicanian people. There are numerous roadblocks in the way; one, in particular, is that you have been stuck in bed for that last month healing from your injuries. Therefore, you must navigate a new set of obstacles that involve winning over the court, discovering marital incompatibility, and being recognized as the Ithicanian queen.

Good Luck.

This novella takes place following The Traitor Queen and The Inadequate Heir.


Thoughts?

Following the near-death experiences of Lara, Aren and Lara have a lot of emotions and sexual tension. The easiest way to relieve that sexual tension is, of course, to have sex; however, Aren’s grandma gave strict orders for Lara to rest. Obviously over-rated. This novella has more sexual scenes and energy than any of the other books in the series, but it also has less plot/details needed.

While the sex scenes were well written, my favorite part in this novella was not the sex. It is the scene when Lara is finally able to leave her bed and starts to walk towards the main room, where the country’s meeting is occurring. Lara’s strength, determination, and vulnerability as a character were relatable and intriguing.

Even though these six chapters were unnecessary, I am glad they exist. They show a rebuilding and rekindling of the relationship that Aren and Lara were working with in the previous books.

I genuinely look forward to seeing what else happens throughout the rest of the series.

Final Review

Do I think this is a good book?

Yes.

Did it add anything to the story , or was it just extra and irrelevant?

This one is a little tough to answer because we do not know what follows The Inadequate Heir. If Danielle L Jensen decides to incorporate several of the story aspects in the next book, then it was probably something just to bid the time between the next release. But, if these points are not added, then it was a great addition and something I am glad exists.

Would I recommend this to anyone and everyone?

Absolutely!

The Bridge Kingdom series is ideal for anyone who loves fantasy, fae, spice, enemies-to-lovers, and wonderful world-building. When I started this series, I did not know what to expect; but now that I am here, it has turned into one of my favorites.


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Posted in book review

The Never King

Title: The Never King

Author(s): Nikki St Crowe

Genre: Fantasy/Romance

Format: Audiobook

Would I Recommend? Yes!

Book Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Spice Rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Synopsis

You know the story of Peter Pan, right? Peter meets Wendy, they go back to Neverland, have a jolly old time, and never want to grow up… Well, if that is what you were hoping for from this story, stop reading now and continue on with your day. I hope it’s wonderful.

Now, for those of you who stuck around, this is a dark and sexy version of Peter Pan. Instead of Peter and Hook being enemies, it is the Darling women. How does he remedy that problem? Naturally he kidnaps them on their 18th birthday, brings them to Neverland, and hopes to hell that she can accomplish his much needed task. To find his secret.

This Darling daughter, Winnie, is unlike the others. She grew up with a messed up mom who was always trying the prevent Pan from taking her daughter. She turned into Winnie the Whore way before Pan arrived. Not only that, but she is constantly struggling through life. So, when Pan comes to get her, neither of them are ready for what is about to happen.

Directly quoted from the Goodreads synopsis, because I don’t think I could have summed it up better myself.

“If you like your enemies to lovers romance with hot, ruthless, morally gray love interests, you’ll enjoy The Never King and the Lost Boys. You can expect hate kissing, fighting, bickering, and ‘touch her and I’ll unalive you’ vibes. ”


Thoughts?

When I tell you I have never screamed “Damn-it” so loud while driving, immediately pulled over to see if book 2 had been published, so fast in my book loving time, I don’t know what else to tell ya. Okay, maybe that is a little dramatic, but I did do one of those two things.

Needless to say I was hooked from the start.

I will say that this audiobook is only 4 hours and 35 minutes, so there is not necessarily a whole lot of character building or world building happening. That being said, I don’t think there will be too many people reading this book because of the unique and crafty description of Neverland (spoilers, there really isn’t one).

At the start of the story, you are introduced to Winnie in her shining moment, having some type of disappointing sex. You learn that her life hasn’t been all rainbows and butterflies. It has sucked because of this “stupid imaginary” man named Pan that her mom is terrified of. Little does she realize, Pan does exist and everything her mom told her had truth to it.

When the narrator for Pan entered the story with his deep and husky voice. I was sold. It took away any notion of the Peter Pan story I knew growing up and introduced me to a whole new world. I loved it! The other narrators for Kas, Vane, Cherry, and Bash were great too, but you knew there was going to be trouble with Pan just by his voice.

Now let’s talk about sex. Technically, this story would be classified as a reverse harem. If you aren’t sure what a reverse harem is I will go into more detail with the Zodiac Queen series, but basically it is one girl, 3+ guys, and she really doesn’t get a say in who she gets (though there is still the option of consent). Because of its reverse harem status, I will typically give a rating of 4.5 as a minimum. Not necessarily because the sex is extra spicy, but reverse harems can be a kink for some people. There are two main sex scenes in this story which happen in the middle of the book, relatively close together. Expect to see 2-on-1, rough sex, and definitely some after care.

Aside from all that, keep in mind that this is a dark retelling so thing can get a little violent. Not with Winnie involved, but with some of the other characters.

The big downside…she left it on a cliff hanger.

Final Review

Do I think this is a good book?

Yes.

Would I have physically read the book?

I’m sure I would have, but when Audible is having their summer sale and the book is only $3, you really can’t go wrong.

Would I recommend this to anyone and everyone?

Absolutely not! But if you are one of my spicy reader friends, then maybe.

This book is not like any other Peter Pan retelling that I have come across…so far (Hooked by Emily McIntire is on the TBR list). I would add TRIGGER WARNINGS for dark content, violence, references to schizophrenia, rough sex, and references to prostitution. That being said, I am interested to see where this series goes. It is not for the faint of heart, but if you are okay with something a little dark then this might interest you.


Posted in book review

One of Those Flings

Title: One of Those Flings

Author(s): Lauren Blakely

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: Audiobook

Would I Recommend? Nope

Book Rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Spice Rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Synopsis

You had a horrible break up. You are starting to give up on love. So, what do you decide to do instead? Swear off men for a year and then celebrate your celibate year by going on vacation. Which means its time to celebrate your year of man cleanse with a solo tropical vacation.

Skyler has decided to do all the tourist things with a local tourist company. Snorkling, sightseeing, zip lining, the works. And who is the leader of this local tourist company? A super hot, charming and exciting man, Caleb.

Should she maintain her cleanse or dive into the deep end with Caleb?


Thoughts?

I know reading and listening to summery books is stereotypical, but sometimes it can’t be helped. I am a mood reader so when the shoe fits…. You get the gist.

This was a multi-narrator production. The narrators did a good job getting into character and bringing the story to fruition.

In movies, some people will say that if a cast is given bad writing, they have to make the best of what they have. While I don’t think that Lauren Blakely’s short story wasn’t horrible, it wasn’t her best work either.

The premise is not something that I found appealing. I get it when we break-up with someone that we truly care about we need time to recover. For some people that means bettering themselves, for others it means finding the nearest person to have sex with, while other sit, cry, and wish the pain would go away. To be honest sometimes we do all three. With that being said, Skyler wrote off men for a year for a “man cleanse”, then celebrated it by breaking her initial goal the second she found someone attract. Then after 3 days of knowing each other they were ready to dive all in and make this long distance thing work. I am all for happy endings, truly I am. But when they aren’t smutty romances I hope that it is a little more realistic or plausible. Not only that, but the way the two main characters process this future potential relationship is a bit cringe.

It just wasn’t for me.

Final Review

Do I think this is a good audio short story?

Ugh…No.

What was really wrong with it?

A man cleanse? I get needing to recover and find yourself, but the number of times they reference man cleanse was unnecessary. Not only that but for a short story, it was super predicatable.

Would I recommend this to anyone and everyone?

No, but I am sure it is for someone.

This short story audiobook is a palette cleanser in a sense. Its short, to the point, and predicatable. Personally, it had points and developments that drove me insane, but since it is only 2 hours, I didn’t waste too much time.


Posted in book review

Artemis

Title: Artemis

Author(s): Andy Weir

Genre: Sci-fi

Format: Audiobook

Would I Recommend? No

Book Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Spice Rating:

Rating: 0 out of 5.

Synopsis

Life on the moon sounds amazing! Well, sort of?

Artemis is the first city and establishment on the moon. While it has been there for decades it is still a work in progress. If you are not a billionaire or a tourist you are likely still struggling to get by. Which is why theft and smuggling become a full time operation for some. For this story, that description is set aside for Jazz Bashara.

Jazz has a lot of debts to pay, but she might get lucky and have them removed if she can finish a jon for an eccentric billionaire. It is going to take smarts, plannings, and stealth like maneuvers, but she should be able to do it. Right?

Honestly, if I give you any more details I basically tell you enough of the story that you can piece together what happens on your own. That wouldn’t exactly be ideal would it?


Thoughts?

If you are expecting The Martian or Project Hail Mary then you need to stop and reconsider if this is the book you want to read. I think that a lot of the negative reviews come from the quality and content of his other books rather than taking this book in as it is.

With that being said, I still think this was a decent book. Was it my favorite? No. Did I hate myself for reading it. Also no. It’s just different.

Taking place on the moon in “Artemis” named after the Greek goddess we meet Jazz. A smuggler with a moral compass and smarts. She manages to get herself into some bargain of a lifetime that as you would expect goes south quickly. She is sassy and sarcastic which makes the dialogue interesting. As a Canadian, many of the Canadian comments and references were wonderful.

There is still a lot of science based material as you would expect from his books, but it was easier to understand and follow.

Final Review

Do I think this is a good book?

It was okay

Would I have physically read the book?

Nope. I wouldn’t have made it past the first few chapters.

Would I recommend this to anyone and everyone?

No. Probably not.

The thing is that I think Andy Weir has other books that are much better that I would likely recommend first. While I don’t think it was a bad book, I just don’t think it was the best one he has written.

Ultimately this book is a space heist/undercover mission/under dog story. Add in a little diversity since her family is originally from Saudi Arabia. Sprinkle in some sarcasm and wittiness. You’ve basically summed up this book.


Posted in book review

The Summer Melt

Title: The Summer Melt

Author(s): Emily March

Genre: Romance

Format: Audiobook

Would I Recommend? Meh

Book Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Spice Rating:

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

Synopsis

Small town romance story? Sure why not. Sexy Scottish accents? I am not opposed. A little competition? It couldn’t hurt. Something short and sweet (under 3 hours)? Perfect for a trip.

Dana Delaney runs and owns her ice cream parlor, Scoops. During peak summer tourist season, Dana is staying busy. When her friend from the pool suggests an employee switch, Dana isn’t sure how it will play out; but she is convinced that it will increase sales. And she’s right.

But when her star player falls sick, its time to call in the big leagues. Enter Cal Buchanan. Visiting Eternity Springs as an A-list sport agent on a mission to help a client with a surprise proposal. Even if he does get a little distracted by the beautiful Dana Delaney. It can still all work out, right?


Thoughts?

It’s an audio-novella, which means its short and not a whole lot has to happen. The premise is super cute and I think works really well for a sweet summer romance. The narrators did an excellent job with their characters. The Scotttish accent wasn’t too bad, though I will say I am not sure I understand the attraction to accents.

So far its all only good things; why the three star rating? It was super cute and for a quick summer romance listen it fit the bill, but honestly, I was just glad to be done with it. As I mentioned, audio novellas are short and sweet, but this one had some plot points that happened SUPER fast. It seemed super unrealistic. I was also a little concerned at the start when one of the characters was still in high school and the older characters hadn’t been introduced yet. Don’t worry there is no age gap or sketchy things in this novella.

Overall, the premise was interesting and I remember some of the things about it, but it wasn’t something I personally would get excited about.

Final Review

Will you re-listen to it?

No, probably not. While it was cute, it wasn’t anything spectacular for me. It met me needs and then I was able to move on.

Does it meet the classification of a Summer Read (or listen)?

Absolutely! Its a perfectly cute summer time romance listen.

Would I recommend this to anyone and everyone?

If they asked about it, sure!

For anyone, like myself, who likes finding summer reads because trying to read about summer in the middle of winter is a struggle, then this would fit the bill. Its cute and summery. The romance is just the right about of flirtation to make you want to swoon. Honestly, its a quick listen, so even if it is not your usually option, its worth a shot at least.


Posted in book review

The Umbrella Academy Series

  1. Volume 1: The Apocalypse Suite
  2. Volume 2: Dallas
  3. Volume 3: Hotel Oblivion

Volume 1: The Apocalypse Suite

Title: The Apocalypse Suite

Author(s): Gerard Way

Genre: Graphic Novel

Format: Ebook

Would I Recommend? Yeah, probably…

Book Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Spice Rating:

Rating: 0 out of 5.

Synopsis

What happens when seven “adopted” children with super powers grow up under a strick asshole and a monkey with the ultimate goal of “saving the world?” You get the Umbrella Academy.

On one strange day forty seven women who were not previously pregnant gave birth to a child. Odd right? It gets weirder. These children (in theory) are all born with special abilities. Of course there is always that one person, in this case Reginald Hargreeves (AKA the Monocule), who wants to figure out what happened. What does he do next? He adopts seven children and explores what makes them unique.

Number 1 (Space): Half gorilla, half human. Has lived in space on a mission for a hot minute. He is strong and the leader of the group.

Number 2 (Kraken): He throws knives, and throws them well!

Number 3 (The Rumor): “I heard a rumor….” and whatever she says goes. She is also dealing with a divorce and has a daughter. Also her relationship with number 1 is different.

Number 4 (Seance): He sees the dead, deals with the otherside, and floats.

Number 5 (The Boy): His time traveling power got him into some trouble when he travelled too far forward and couldn’t return. Now his concern is aging or un-aging.

Number 6: Is dead.

Number 7 (Vanya): She doesn’t have a cool name because she is believed to not have a power. She is just really good at playing the violin.


Thoughts?

When the TV show was released on Netflix, I fell in love with this story. It was intricate, it was different, and I loved all the sass from these characters. Naturally after completing season 3 I became intrigud by the idea of reading the graphic novels.

The first thing I noticed was the interesting cover. I understood where it came from because of the show, but I wasn’t entirely sure where it played into the graphic novel. But once I started the book, I was not really enjoying it. The artwork was a little too chaotic for me. Not only that but the initial storyline was a tad confusing. I did not really understand the premise of the characters or their powers.

With all that being said, while I knew the tv show and the comics would be different, I did not fully comprehend why. The main difference that I noticed is that in the tv show, you are able to learn more about the characters, the backstory, and sprinkled in is the superhero action. The comic book, just dives right into the action with a sprinkle of character development.

Both are good for their own purposes, but I wasn’t as excited to finish the graphic novel. That being said, I will likely still finish the series.

Final Review

Did you like the artwork?

Not particularly, but I can appreciate it. Just because it wasn’t for me, doesn’t mean it isn’t still good.

Which was better the tv show or the graphic novel?

Personally, I liked the tv show better. I was able to understand the characters and the storyline easier. I also think that based on the graphic novel, Netflix did an excellent job with the casting,

Would I recommend this to anyone and everyone?

Probably. If you like Gerard Way, the origins of tv shows/movies, superheros, and unique stories then you might enjoy this. I will say that it is likely for an older audience (older high school plus).


Volume 2: Dallas

Title: Dallas

Author(s): Gerard Way

Genre: Graphic Novel

Format: Ebook

Would I Recommend?

Book Rating:

Rating: 0 out of 5.

Spice Rating:

Rating: 0 out of 5.

Reading In Progress…


Volume 3: Hotel Oblivion

Title: Hotel Oblivion

Author(s): Gerard Way

Genre: Graphic Novel

Format: Ebook

Would I Recommend?

Book Rating:

Rating: 0 out of 5.

Spice Rating

Rating: 0 out of 5.

Reading In Progress…


Posted in book review

Shutter Island

Title: Shutter Island

Author(s): Dennis Lehane

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Format: Physical Read

Would I recommend it? Yes!

Book Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Spice Rating:

Rating: 0 out of 5.

Synopsis

Let’s take a step back in time to 1954. Picture this. You are on a boat headed towards an island. It’s not time for your tropical vacation. Instead, you are headed to the place where the worst of the worst are rumored to be. This includes both a legal and a mental perspective on being the worst. Your job is to find out what is happening on this island. Not just what you are told, but what is actually happening.

U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule arrived at Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane (AKA Shutter Island) to find the missing patient, Rachel Solando. She has been missing for approximately 24 hours, but no one knows how she actually escaped. Shutter Island should have top-notch security protocols…or at least that’s what we thought.

While they are constantly given the run around by every employee, doctor, and warden in this place, Teddy knows something isn’t right. Once the hurricane comes in and destroys buildings, fences, and security, it is time for the real investigation to take place.

Sorry! That is all I can tell you without spoiling it.


Thoughts?

I love listening to mystery/thriller audiobooks. With a good narrator, any story can be a good one, well at least decent enough to get through. Why is this relevant though; I thought you said that you physically read this book? I did, but it is also the first mystery/thriller book that I have completely finished as a physical read.

Up until this point, I have tried to physically read mystery/thrillers but can never finish them. I start reading and then lose interest. By that point, I just switch over to the audiobook and listen to what is happening. It’s really an effective system. I want to read the book, but can’t get through it, so I move on. It’s a win-win…well kind of. For the longest time, I wondered why I could never finish one. Then I talked with one of my managers at work. When I told him that I have never finished physically reading a mystery/thriller book; he took that as a challenge. He wanted to know why? Was it the slow starts? The writing style? The topics? The type: mystery or thriller?

My response was, “I don’t really know. I don’t usually like slow-build books, but if I can’t make a connection or empathize with the characters, I switch. I am sure there are loads of great mystery/thriller books that do this, but I just haven’t found it yet.” Two seconds later he walks over with the book “Shutter Island.” I read the first few pages, and I was hooked. Maybe it was the psychological aspects of it. Maybe there was something I wanted to know more about Teddy. I’m not really sure, but I am glad I read it.

The chapters were a little longer than I was used to, but it worked because it added enough detail to the setting, characters, and situation without dragging it down. I also really enjoyed the dynamic between Chuck and Teddy. Obviously, something felt off, but I couldn’t figure out what. This was one of the only books I have read (or listened to) where I attempted to figure out this mystery. I tried solving each of the clues and codes as Teddy did. I was constantly wondering when they would be caught and the entire mission would be thrown out the window.

By the time I got to chapter 15 (about halfway through the book), I had a hard time putting it down. And that ending…oh my goodness. Not what I expected, but I loved the twist. It was different than anything else I have ever read.

If there was one thing that I had to get used to in this book, it was that the author used a lot of the terminology, history, and experiences that would have occurred in the 1950s; not only related to race and gender, but also psychology. I am not sure why it took me a while to put myself into that specific time period for context purposes, but it did. I don’t usually have this problem since historical fiction is one of my favorite genres.

Final Review

Do I think this is a good book?

Yes.

Have I watched the movie?

Nope! I honestly didn’t even know that this movie or book existed until a few weeks ago. I hope that the movie is as good as the book, but I don’t hold my breath on that one anymore.

Would I recommend this to anyone and everyone?

Maybe… If you enjoy psychological thrillers then likely you will like this one, but as I have learned from my own experiences, it takes some time to figure out what you like and don’t like.

Overall, I think that Dennis Lehane did a great job developing the story. I was able to invest in the characters and had a pretty good understanding of their past. While there were obviously some parts where I wish I could just get to the good stuff, it didn’t deter me from completing the book. So, I would call that one a win.


Posted in book review

Back in the Burbs

Title: Back in the Burbs

Author(s): Tracy Wolff & Avery Flynn

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: Audiobook

Would I Recommend? Yes, but only to a specific reader

Book Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Spice Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Synopsis

Sometimes life sucks. Sometimes, you get stuck in stupid relationships and situations. Sometimes you don’t believe in yourself or have the confidence to succeed. Sometimes you don’t trust anyone.

Meet Mallory. A thirty-something female who can’t seem to get a win. She caught her husband cheating, her favorite Aunt Maggie died, her family can be opinionated, and Aunt Maggie left her a house. A house in need of a lot of work and money put into it. The term “hot mess” could not describe Mallory or her situation any better.

When she arrives at the house, she learns that Aunt Maggie had her own problems. She may have seemed okay and invincible, but things aren’t always as they appear. Not only that, but she just moved in next door to Nick. He may be hot, but his first impressions were not great. Mallory has a lot on her plate; connecting with old high school classmates, meeting new people, lawyering up against her cheating soon-to-be ex-husband, oh yeah, and repairing a house with little to no money or time…yikes.

So…how does all of this turn into a romance situation? When life gives you wine, Youtube, and the hotties in the neighborhood, there is a lot that can happen.


Thoughts?

Listen, when I first read the synopsis of this book, I was not interested. I thought, “ugh…another 30-year-old navigating life and talking about the struggles of being an adult.” I am an adult, and I know the struggles that it has. I read to get away from that, not to immerse myself in it again! Honestly, it sounded boring and not my cup of tea.

No joke, I told my co-worker a week before how bad I thought the book would be. However, I listen to books and needed something to listen to. This one was free, so I figured what the heck.

This was not what I was expecting.

When you first start the book, Mallory comes across as whiny and helpless. But if you have ever been cheated on, caught them in the act, and have it be a completely toxic relationship, then you kind of get it. Have I been in that situation? Yup! Did I probably have a very similar monologue? Yeah, probably. Once you get past that first little bit of monologue and struggles, the “whininess” slows.

Throughout this story Mallory is starting to rediscover herself, what she wants, and “retrain” herself from what she was programmed to do. I really did enjoy seeing the character during this transition and how she morphed into something a little healthier. Not only that but the sass and independence she is striving for was wonderful.

I think what I enjoyed the most was that I related to the character. While I did not go through the same situation as Mallory, that transition and finding someone and yourself was relatable. I also really enjoyed Nick and his process of dealing with someone who is going through ALOT!

There were two scenes in this book that I loved!

  1. The first sex scene. Mallory is super insecure with how she looks. She lacks all confidence and realizes that her last relationship was horrible (especially with sex). Something with Nick brought her to life and it was something I wasn’t expecting.
  2. The final dinner scene. I don’t want to spoil it, but if you have a “Lord of the Rings” movie situation, then you’ll appreciate it. Nick’s dad, clueless as can be, but it adds so much humor to it.

Final Review

Do I think this is a good book?

Yes.

Would I have physically read the book?

Likely not. The narrator did an excellent job bringing the characters to life. I think that the first little bit of the story would have deterred me from finishing it.

Would I recommend this to anyone and everyone?

Absolutely not!

If you have ever been insecure about yourself, gone through shit, and struggled with past relationships….then this will likely bring a little humor to your life. There is not a lot of sex, but there is a lot of growth within Mallory (and Nick). It was refreshing to see things from a different perspective, yet one that I could seriously connect to. I don’t know what that says about me, but that’s okay!


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