Friday, February 17, 2017

Title: The Valiant
Author: Lesley Livingston
Series: The Valiant, book #1
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: February 14, 2017
Source: ARC received from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

Add to Goodreads
Lost to history, the story of the female gladiator has never been told. Until now.

Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king and the younger sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha. When Fallon was just a child, Sorcha was killed while defending their home from the armies of Julius Caesar.

On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is excited to follow in her sister's footsteps and earn her place in her father's war band. She never gets the chance.

Fallon is captured by ruthless brigands who sell her to an elite training school for female gladiators owned by none other than Julius Caesar himself. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon's family might be her only hope of survival.

Now, Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries, deadly fights in and out of the arena, and perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier and her sworn enemy.

A richly imagined fantasy for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Cinda Williams Chima, "The Valiant recounts Fallon's gripping journey from fierce Celtic princess to legendary gladiator and darling of the Roman empire."

The words "female gladiator" were the only ones I needed to read to know that this was going to be my kind of book. Also, just the fact that it's such an utterly different setting than I've seen in most YA of late made me that much more eager to read it.

The Valiant is full of fierce friendships and bitter rivalries and brutal battle scenes and it was LIFE. Guys always get to have the epic battles in books and movies, while the females usually have to sit on the sidelines and pray for their safe return. So, it was delightful to see the tables turned in this story. And the author described the fighting with such precision and imagery that it felt like I was right in the thick of things, like I was the one holding the weapon, waiting to meet my fellow gladiatrix in battle.

Despite how awesome the fight scenes were, I found the romance to be very...meh. Very take it or leave it, if you will. I wasn't really here for that, though. There was a sweet, new love that died a swift death when Fallon was picked up by slavers, but I found that one more believable than the relationship she develops with the Roman soldier who should, by all accounts, be her sworn enemy. I just felt like this pair never spent enough time together to develop the kind of longing and devotion that they seemed to have toward one another. Not when there were so many more epic things happening around them...and to them.

My only real qualm with this novel, though, was how predictable I found it. And that's probably my own fault, as I read quite a bit more than the average reader and it's made me a lot more observant. Also, I think it's hereditary. My mom can watch the first five or ten minutes of a show and tell you what's going to happen for the rest of the episode...and she's almost always right. You can imagine how much fun it was watching television with her growing up. :P

I can't believe this was my first Lesley Livingston novel! It surely won't be my last. I've had her backlist novels on my TBR forever, but I'm going to make a point to check them all out very soon after reading The Valiant. I've always loved Roman history. I even loved when we were forced to read Julius Caesar in AP English. So, I am here for more of Fallon and her gladiatrix pals. And yes, obviously to find out what Caesar's plans for her are.


GIF it to me straight:

About the author:

LESLEY LIVINGSTON is a writer living in Toronto, Canada. She is the author of twelve books to date. Her first novel, WONDROUS STRANGE, was winner of the CLA Young Adult Book of the Year 2010, a White Pine Honour Book, shortlisted for the Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Speculative Fiction, and in 2015 was named one of CBC’s “100 YA Books That Make You Proud To Be Canadian”. DARKLIGHT, the second book in this series was a finalist for the Indigo Teen Read Awards. The concluding volume in the trilogy, TEMPESTUOUS, was a finalist for the Monica Hughes Award. These books have sold to more than ten countries to date, and WONDROUS STRANGE has been optioned for film/TV by Shaftesbury Films. Her other trilogies have both won the Copper Cylinder award for Young Adult fiction.

In addition to her books for teen readers, Lesley is also co-author of a Middle Grade series with Jonathan Llyr called THE WIGGINS WEIRD. The first book, HOW TO CURSE IN HIEROGLYPHICS was shortlisted for the CLA Book of the Year for Children Award and was longlisted for the Canadian Booksellers Association’s Young Readers Book of the Year award. It was also chosen as one of the selections for the 2016 First Book Canada All-Star Reading Challenge.

Lesley’s newest novel is a YA historical epic, THE VALIANT, which will be published in February 2017 by Penguin Razorbill (US) and HarperCollins (CAN) and tells the story of a 17-year-old girl’s journey from fierce Celtic princess to female gladiator and the darling of the Roman Empire.

For almost three years, Lesley hosted weekly late-night movie marathons on the nationally broadcast television show, SPACEBAR, as the Waitron-9000, a sparkly holographic waitress with an encyclopedic knowledge of obscure B-movie trivia. For almost two decades, she was a principal performer with Tempest Theatre Group, a Toronto-based Shakespearean theatre company.

Find Lesley:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Friday, February 10, 2017

What I've Been Reading Lately {2.10.17}

Friday, February 10, 2017 with 1 comment

I'm still tending more toward adult novels these days -- especially as my library tends to take their sweet time uploading new YA audiobook titles -- though I have actually managed to read (and review - gasp!) a few YA copies received for promotional purposes recently. I've just been pickier with those of late. But it's really worked in my favor because the ones I have read have been pretty phenomenal, including Wintersong and Daughter of the Pirate King.

And without further ado, here's what I've been reading lately...

Y O U N G   A D U L T

RoseBloodThe Replacement CrushLips Touch: Three TimesBloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy (Bloody Jack, #1)

RoseBlood - Well, that was mildly disappointing. After loving everything I've previously read of Anita's, I fully expected to love this one, too. Especially since it's a Phantom of the Opera retelling. But alas, it was too slow and long and drawn out and I was just boredboredbored. Also, I think that having read her new adult historical romance, I was ready for the need to fan myself when it came to the romance but was left unsatisfied by a couple who were more adorable than steamy when they got together. It was creative and beautifully written but it just never captured my attention the way I'd expected it to. 🌟🌟🌟

The Replacement Crush - I really, really wanted to like this one. The premise sounded so perfect for me. But the main character kind of ruined it for me. She even refers to herself as TSTL (too stupid to live) and writes a note to her blog readers about how she's the idiot girl you're always screaming at "to stop the crazy." Sure, the book had its moments, but those were far and few between. And I kept having to check when this story was written because the text speak and phrasing made it feel OLD. Plus, I didn't like the subtle digs at reviewers who aren't "nice" when they don't like a book. 🌟🌟

Lips Touch Three Times - I've had this book on my shelf for ages and with Laini Taylor's newest book coming out soon, I wanted to get to it sooner rather than later. So, instead of reading the gorgeous signed -- by both the author and her husband/illustrator -- I grabbed the audiobook. And it was divine. I love stories about goblins luring beautiful maidens away with their fruit, so I do wish that story had been longer, but they were all three such lovely tales of woe...and kissing. Lovely, doomed kissing. =) 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Bloody Jack - After reading Daughter of the Pirate King, I was in the mood for more high seas adventure. Featuring a cross-dressing girl trying to escape a life on the streets by getting hired on as a ship boy on a royal vessel, Bloody Jack definitely fit the bill. But it was funny, too. I about died when Jacky thought she had contracted some plague and was going to die a horrible death because she didn't know what her monthlies were. Bahaha. Yeah, it starts out young, but by the end of the book she's about 15, so I know future books in the series will likely be less on the middle-grade side. Though, I did enjoy her child-like demeanor and the levity it brought. Oh, and Katherine Kellgren as narrator was perfection. 🌟🌟🌟

R E - R E A D S

The Hating GameCaraval (Caraval, #1)

The Hating Game - This is my third re-read/listen and it won't be my last. Probably not even my last for the first half of this year. Dark times call for happy reading and this book sparks ALL THE HAPPY FEELINGS. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Caraval - I read this WAY early and never reviewed it. And I still don't think I can. The story was just as fabulous and mysterious -- I forgot some things even though this was my second "reading" -- as it was upon my initial reading, though I'm not sure about the choice in narrator. I love Rebecca Soler's narration of The Lunar Chronicles. But her voice just didn't fit what I had in mind for Scarlett. Anyway, even after a second reading, I still want to visit Caraval and uncover all of its secrets. I'm still madly in love with this story and it will undoubtedly go down as one of my top ten reads this year. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


Marrying Winterborne (The Ravenels, #2)Act Like It (London Celebrities, #1)Dying for YouAlwaysThe Switch

Marrying Winterborne - I'd been on the holds list for this one at the library for over a month and a half...ever since I finished Cold-Hearted Rake. And it was definitely worth the wait, though I do think I preferred the first book just a bit more. Maybe because this romance just seemed so easy, whereas most in this genre are so fraught with tension (sexual and otherwise) and Helen and Winterborne just came together so easily. I am looking forward to the next book, though I'm starting to wonder if I need to read her other series (plural?) to know the characters and whence they come from? πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ

Act Like It - Oh, this was fun! I love the fake relationship trope almost as much as I love the hate-to-love trope, and this book features both! The banter is amazing. And the swoons...the swoons! I loved how the relationship progressed, how they hit bumps in the road but it never truly derailed them...that they acted like adults. Most of the time. Oh, and it's set in the West End so I got to use my gawd-awful British accent while reading. Like I said...FUN! =) 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Dying for You - I borrowed this audio anthology from the library because a friend lent me her bind-up of the first four Betsy the Vampire Queen books and I wanted to get a feel for the author's work before starting that massive thing. It's funny. Kinda quirky. I may like the longer series. But I didn't care over much for this series of short stories based in worlds she's previously written in. I liked the amorous ghost. The psychic story kinda left me scratching my head. The witch/witch-hunter story was my least favorite and just bleh. And the werewolf/vampire story I listened to while distracted but I know it wasn't a favorite either. Ugh. I hate when someone foists a book on me like this because then I feel obligated to read it. And that thing is a flippin' doorstop. And unfortunately, my library doesn't have the audio. Waaaahhh. πŸŒŸπŸŒŸ

Always - This is one of those stories where you're just sitting there, screaming at the characters to effing communicate because that would solve all their problems. That, and the hero not acting like a jealous arse the entire time because his previous betrothed couldn't remain faithful. Also, I knew who the culprit was almost from the start. I hate that. πŸŒŸπŸŒŸ

The Switch - Yay for gender-bending and cross-dressing and twins switching places! This story was so fun and I honestly don't think I've read anything like it. I preferred Charlie, the twin who was more adept at playing the brother -- and the one who got herself into predicament after predicament. And, sure, it would have been easier -- and more realistic -- had they simply informed Lord Radcliffe of their situation, but it would not have been nearly as hilarious. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Countess (Madison Sisters #1)Austenland (Austenland, #1)A Good Debutante's Guide to Ruin (The Debutante Files, #1)All the Ways to Ruin a Rogue (The Debutante Files, #2)

The Countess - Apparently, I'm on a Lynsay Sands kick. I tend to do that with this genre, especially once I find an author I really enjoy. And for once, I started with the first book in a series! Go me! And while I do usually love series that focus on a particular family and all of their romantic dealings, I feel like I already know where this series is going. Who's going to end up with whom, what troubles will plague them, etc. It's fine to allude to it, but it's so clearly obvious from this first book. That said, I'm still here for all the trials and tribulations along the way to the alter because it's all just so amusing. 🌟🌟🌟

Austenland - I've seen this movie a few times and quite adored it. And I've kind of been itching to watch it again but just haven't gotten around to it, so while I was between audiobooks, I thought I'd check this one out. The movie doesn't alter too much from the original book, which is pretty great since the book is kind of adorable. I could seriously identify with Jane's obsession with Pride & Prejudice and all things Mr. Darcy. And the actual romance is kind of perfect for her. But I'm still so happy with how things turn out for Jane that I don't think I need to pick up the companion novel. 🌟🌟🌟

A Good Debutante's Guide to Ruin - I've only read one of Sophie Jordan's YA novels before, though I've heard her romance novels are better. And I'm inclined to agree. This story was fun and decadent and forbidden. As all good romance novels ought to be. :) I know some feel squicky about step-sibling romances, but I'm not one of them. There is some icky business in this story that did turn my stomach, though. So, be forewarned. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

All the Ways to Ruin a Rogue - As soon as I finished the first book, I started on this one. As I've stated many times, I love a good hate-to-love romance, and you could see the blossoming of one for this couple in the previous book. Though the hate is all a matter of misunderstanding and circumstance - which I tend to loathe - it all outs, though that only complicates matters. I did hate that it took this rogue soooo long to realize what I knew from the very beginning, which made me like it a little less than the first book. 🌟🌟🌟

Have you read any of these? What did you think? Find any new titles to check out? ;0)

(More on why I've gone to this format here.)

Until next time! Happy reading!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Title: Daughter of the Pirate King
Author: Tricia Levenseller
Series: Daughter of the Pirate King, book #1
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: February 28, 2017
Source: ARC received from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Add to Goodreads
A 17-year-old pirate captain intentionally allows herself to get captured by enemy pirates in this thrilling YA adventure.

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

Debut author Tricia Levenseller blends action, adventure, romance, and a little bit of magic into a thrilling YA pirate tale.

I am always on board for more pirate stories. (Heh.) But all of the books I've read recently that were supposed to be about pirates...weren't. Not really. Not even the one called Lady Pirate. These books all featured pirate ships on the covers and sounded like they'd be a welcome romp on the high seas, but none of them could hold a candle to Daughter of the Pirate King.

First and foremost, I think you should know that I wouldn't consider this YA, except for the age of the main characters and that very middle-grade-looking cover. Oh, and the fact that there's no actual sex, though I've read plenty of adult novels that don't include that either, so that's not actually all that telling. Daughter of the Pirate King is violent and brutal and bloody and clever AF. And it deserves a better cover, in my opinion. I know the publisher gave it an "upgrade", but all that did was add a few more spots of blood and give boobs to the main character. It needs a cover more representative of how badass this book is.

But I digress. This book was everything I'd hoped for in a pirate book. For one, the plot actually occurs at sea, rather than on land. There's thieving and treasure and all manner of fighting. A lot of death, too. Some random. Some unnecessary. And some just outright vengeful. And I don't know what this says about me, but I loved every second of it.

Oh, and the magical aspect is just brilliant. I didn't know it was happening until it was happening, and then I was like, damn, son. I was blind-sided by a few aspects of this novel, and I couldn't be happier. But then Alosa would point something out as she narrated and seemed relatively oblivious as to why she'd noticed in the first place, and then I felt like I had one up on her. Even though she was the master of surprises herself.

And now we come to the part where I discuss the romance, which was just UNGH. I. Love. Banter. And these two pirates are relentless with it. He's cocky and arrogant and I can't help but feel it's all a facade. Alosa is...the same, but not. Her secrets mean she keeps most at arm's length, but little by little, she lets him in. And the teasing, will-they-won't-they just about drove me nuts. I am SO on board for this ship.

I pretty much loved everything about this book. Daughter of the Pirate King was so good. So good. And then it just...ended. I was like, wait, where's the final chapter? It wasn't a cliffhanger. Nothing like that. But I think I still had all that battle lust going on and then it was just over and I just had all these feelings left over. Which means a very torturous wait for the next installment, but at least I know it'll be worth it.

GIF it to me straight:

About the author:

Tricia Levenseller writes historical fantasies for young adult readers. Her debut, DAUGHTER OF THE PIRATE KING, is set to release Feb. 2017 from Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of Macmillan Publishers.

Initially from a small town in Oregon, Tricia now lives next to the Rocky Mountains with her bossy dog, Rosy. She received her degree in English Language and editing and is thrilled that she never has to read a textbook again. When she’s not writing or reading, Tricia enjoys putting together jigsaw puzzles, playing volleyball, and watching shows while eating extra-buttered popcorn.

Find Tricia:

Website | BlogTwitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Pinterest

Monday, February 6, 2017

Title: Wintersong
Author: S. Jae-Jones
Series: Wintersong, book #1
Publisher: Thomas Dunne
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Source: ARC received from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Add to Goodreads
Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister KΓ€the is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let KΓ€the go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

I'm going to keep this review short and sweet because (Sorry, I tried.) I feel like if you already love the movie Labyrinth, you'll really enjoy this book, which is semi-based on it. Maybe. Probably. I did. But I've seen others struggle with it. Mostly because of length and how long it takes for the plot to really get going. And it does.'s also totally worth it?

I really wish I'd written this review immediately after I finished reading the book back in October. I had such eloquent and though-provoking things to say about it then. They would undoubtedly be no less true now, but I can't remember them. Probably should have re-read the book first. But time is of the essence and I have oh-so-little of it as it is. I will definitely re-read this story in the future, especially if it becomes available on audio -- oh, please, please let that become a thing because I can only imagine how enticing the Goblin King would sound -- and as the release of the second book nears.

I still remember my older sister coming home from the video store with a copy of Labyrinth on VHS when I was just a youngling. And I remember the intense and immediate love I felt for Sarah and her plight...and Jareth, the Goblin King. I was raised a David Bowie fan from the cradle, and so seeing him in this role was tantamount to all of my wildest dreams coming true. And then to find out recently that an author was furthering my dreams by writing a story set in that world? Be. Still. My. Heart.

It was difficult, at first, not to picture Jareth as Jones' Goblin King. But she does a great job of reminding the reader what he looks like, how different he is from that other character, and how very nameless he is, and it works well to help you separate the two entities. Yes, the same magnetism exists between Liesl and the Goblin King, but in this story, he's actually able to reach the heroine in a way that Jareth never was able to.

I went into this story expecting it to be heavy on the romance. But it doesn't really start out that way. In fact, it takes a very long while to reach that point. Instead, I felt that the story was more heavily influenced by music and sacrifice...and how inexorable sacrifice seems when love is involved.

I've discussed this book at great lengths with friends, and whatever issues they've had, I've been able to overcome them. I don't know if it's my loyalty to the original story or just that I absolutely loved the writing and atmosphere of this book -- probably a little from Column A and a little from Column B, if I had to guess -- but I found this novel exquisitely lovely. So much so that I was inspired to create a t-shirt based on it, when given the opportunity.


GIF it to me straight:

About the author:

S. Jae-Jones, called JJ, is a voracious and indiscriminate reader, an avid traveller, and something of an adrenaline junkie.

Born and raised in sunny Los Angeles, she lived in New York City for 10 years before relocating down to Dixie, where she is comfortably growing fat on grits and barbecue. When not writing, she can be find rock-climbing, skydiving, taking photographs, drawing pictures, and dragging her dog on ridiculously long hikes.

Find JJ:

Website | BlogTwitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Pinterest | Tumblr

So, in my review, I alluded to a t-shirt design inspired by Labyrinth. And you got a peek of it in my Instagram pic above. The wonderful people at UberPrints offered to collaborate with me on a custom t-shirt of my own design, and this was the result:

I absolutely love my Labyrinth-inspired tee! It's so soft and comfy and the design came out exactly as I pictured it! And the best part was how easy it was to navigate their site to design it myself. I definitely anticipate using their service again. I've already got so many ideas for more bookish tees!

Check out UberPrints and design something awesome for yourself: Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook. They have a wide array of shirt styles, sizes, and colors, so you're sure to find something to fit your needs!

Happy reading...and designing! :D

Thursday, January 26, 2017

What I've Been Reading Lately {1.26.17}

Thursday, January 26, 2017 with 3 comments

My first mini-review post of the year, and I've got some good -- and not-so-good -- stuff to share with you. I wasn't going to post this today, but if I don't, I'll just keep adding to it and then it'll be this behemoth of a post that no one wants to read.

The young adult titles I've been reading recently just haven't been cutting it for me for the most part, so I've been making my way through some historical romance by way of the Maiden Lane series. It's been fun. And steamy. :) What's weird to me, though, is that I only did one re-read this month. But I've been eyeing the Rephaim series again by Paula Weston, so I'm sure that'll change soon. =)

More on why I've gone to this format here. And without further ado, here's what I've been reading lately...

Y O U N G   A D U L T

Bad Blood (The Naturals, #4)Air Awakens (Air Awakens, #1)Ever the Hunted (Clash of Kingdoms, #1)Fire Falling (Air Awakens, #2)

Bad Blood - What a fantastic, edge of your seat ride this series has been! So many twists and turns and life-altering developments leading up to that insane ending. I just love how everything tied together, interwoven these characters' lives are and what it means for all of them. I'm sad that it's over, but I am sooo glad I picked up that ARC of The Naturals a few years ago. This is by far one of my favorite series. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Air Awakens - I am most undoubtedly in the minority on this one, which leads me to believe I read a completely different book than everyone else because WHAT IS THAT WRITING?!? And yet. And yet...I feel compelled to continue the series. I imagine this can only end in pain and suffering, and yet I am already completely addicted. Hoping the subsequent books succumbed to a bit more editing and that the plot overcomes most of the writing issues, but I'm not holding my breath. 🌟🌟

Ever the Hunted - I read an ARC of this one last summer and promptly forgot to review it. I obviously didn't have much to say at that point because it seemed a very middle of the barrel YA fantasy. After re-reading via audio, I think I found it even less thrilling than on my first read. There's nothing essentially wrong with it; it's just predictable and brings nothing new to the table. And though the romance was solid throughout this first book, I feel like the thing that happened at the end is going to cause waves and force the romance onto less stable ground in the sequel. 🌟🌟🌟

Fire Falling - You can't hear me, but I'm currently cursing the author. I was prepared to finish this one and leave the series behind. I just had to make it to the end. That was going to be my penance for putting the entire series on hold at the library before I'd even read the first book. But now, NOW I may have to find out what happens after that ending. This is a form of cruel and unusual punishment. Because the writing is horrendous. And yet the plot has potential. I could see this being a pretty decent tv series. I could even see enjoying audiobooks if they existed because then the writing and editing mistakes wouldn't be so glaringly obvious. Gah, why did I do this to myself?!? (ETA: I changed my mind. Other - better - books are calling to me.) 🌟🌟🌟

By Your SideResisting the RebelDoon (Doon, #1)

By Your Side - This was kind of freaking adorable. Maybe not as substantial as I'd have liked but definitely better than I'd expected based on a few reviews from trusted friends/Kasie West fans. And being a fan myself, I wanted to love this. Trapped in a library with a total hottie? I couldn't have dreamed a more perfect escape. Dax is not a bad boy, just a misunderstood one. And I loved how much Autumn wanted to understand him, to be his friend. Even when it made her question her feelings for the boy she thought she should be with. This isn't a love triangle, though, because she and the should-be guy have only flirted off and on up to the point that Autumn "meets" Dax. It's not nearly as messy as it could have been, but it's not perfect either. Which is how I like my Kasie West romances, tbh. And the way anxiety is handled...maybe not perfect, either, but it felt authentic. I have mild anxiety and I could relate. I'm glad it was addressed and how it was tackled, though there was definitely room for improvement. Another cute Kasie West novel to add to the collection. And I am amassing QUITE the collection because hers are some of my favorite fluffy books to decompress with. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Resisting the Rebel - This was cuter in some parts than in others, but overall, it was a fun read. I definitely preferred the banter between Disco and the demon when it was just them and no one else was around. ;0) Plus, all of those almost-kisses were pretty dang hot. And the friendships in this book made the story...I might not have liked Mandy at all, if not for them. And while I've always loved the fake boyfriend trope, I might like it even more because of Caleb. =) 🌟🌟🌟

Doon - Hmmm. I'm going to have to re-think my strategy of downloading an entire series from the library in hopes that when I inevitably love the first book, I don't have to wait ages for holds to come in on subsequent books. Because the last two times I've done that -- with this series and with Air Awakens -- it's totally backfired on me. Doon wasn't terrible, per se, but it wasn't great either. Also, I did not realize it was Christian fiction. I liked the premise. I liked the setting. But maybe all of my recent forays into a more adult Scotland made this one seem a little...tame? Also, it was entirely too predictable. Perhaps if I'd read this when it first released, I'd have enjoyed it more, but as it stands, I've read too many much more awesome fantasy series to give this one any more of my time. 🌟🌟

R E - R E A D S

A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell, #1)

A Curious Beginning - I've been eagerly anticipating the sequel to this lovely, forthright novel since I finished it last year. And now that the release of A Perilous Undertaking is upon us, I had to re-read this first installment in preparation. I must admit that I was slightly less taken with the novel the second time around, but that's because the mystery is not so mysterious for me anymore. That's the way with these types of novels, I suppose. But I loved Veronica and Stoker just as much and I cannot wait to see what's to come of them in the next book. Which I will be reading know, as soon as my library gets a copy. ;0) 🌟🌟🌟🌟


Lady PirateBreath of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles #2)The Highlander Takes a Bride (Highlanders, #3)The Bear and the NightingaleThe Fate of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #3)

Lady Pirate - So, I didn't like this one quite as much as An English Bride in Scotland, but it was still fun, if not a bit long-winded for all the loose ends that needed tying up.Speaking of being tied up, the sex scenes aren't intensely graphic as they are often wont to be in this type of story, but they still manage to be steamy. I enjoyed the romantic pairing in this novel, most especially because their situations were so were their personalities. I'm definitely going to continue perusing Lynsay Sands' backlist, though I can't promise I'll venture into her vampire stories. πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ

Breath of Fire - I think I enjoyed this sequel slightly less than A Promise of Fire. Like 4 1/2 stars versus a full five stars for APoF. There was just too little banter and not nearly enough antagonism between Cat and Griffin. Cat wasn't nearly as snarky and self-assured as she was in the previous book. And I missed the sense of camaraderie among Beta Team. The only thing there was more of in this sequel was sex, and even that got to be a little much. I think the first book just had a better balance. However, this book had an awesome Odyssey-like quest, a gladiator-style battle royale and some serious swoons to boot. So, my overall enjoyment was pretty similar to how I felt at the end of the previous installment, only now I have to wait forever for the next book, whereas I only had to wait a month or so after reading A Promise of Fire to continue the story. *cries* πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ

The Highlander Takes a Bride - Since I liked An English Bride in Scotland so much, I decided to give another one of Lynsay Sands' Highlander books a try. When I checked this audio out from the library, I wasn't aware it was actually a part of the series, and that AEBiS was the first book and that I'd totally skipped the second one. But it didn't hinder my reading experience any. I think what I probably like best about these books is that it doesn't take most of the book for the couple to fall for each other. That might be because they tend to marry early in the book for one reason or another, but I like that rather than spending time ignoring their feelings or trying to win each other's hearts, they are together from almost the beginning and instead work toward some other common goal or solving some mystery or some such thing. There was a yucky occurrence at the beginning of this story that could have kept me from enjoying it as much, but times being what they were, and the hero being who he was, I'm glad I kept reading. I think it was pretty obvious from the moment Greer met Saidh that he would be having no more dalliances with lightskirts. And Saidh, being who she was, would have handed his arse to him had he chanced it. :) 🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Bear and the Nightingale - This fairy tale-esque story set in medieval Russia was just lovely, possibly more so because of the gorgeous audiobook. I wish it hadn't been nearly 80 degrees outside while I was reading it because it's one of those comfy stories best read near a fire. It's also one of those rare books that doesn't really have a place: not YA but not wholly adult either. In fact, it felt very reminiscent of Naomi Novik's Uprooted in that respect. But I couldn't care less because it was so atmospheric and magical and the perfect read for this time of year...assuming you live in a place that has an actual winter. *sighs* πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ

The Fate of the Tearling - I think I really should have done a re-read before picking this one up. Even though I felt like I really remembered the important aspects of both the previous books, I just felt...lost. I didn't connect with Kelsea at all in this book, which was hard because I liked her character immensely in the previous books. After the overlap of two worlds in the second book, I guess I should have expected the turn the story took in this final book, but I didn't. And I really, really could never have predicted that ending. 🌟🌟🌟

Wicked Intentions (Maiden Lane, #1)Notorious Pleasures (Maiden Lane, #2)Scandalous Desires (Maiden Lane, #3)Thief of Shadows (Maiden Lane, #4)Lord of Darkness (Maiden Lane, #5)
Duke of Midnight (Maiden Lane, #6)Darling Beast (Maiden Lane, #7)Dearest Rogue (Maiden Lane, #8)Sweetest Scoundrel (Maiden Lane, #9)

Maiden Lane series (books 1-9, at least)

Wicked Intentions - I erroneously read Lord of Darkness, the 5th book in the Maiden Lane series, first not knowing it was part of a series. It didn't impede my enjoyment any, though. On the contrary, it only caused me to want to read the rest of the books even more. So, here I am, starting at the beginning. And what a sensual, exciting beginning it was! I had no idea the entire series would revolve - at least loosely - around the Ghost of St. Giles, but I am immensely pleased that it does, especially knowing what I do about some of these characters from later in the series, thanks to my untimely reading of book five. I tittered delightfully when one of the characters suggests that it might be impossible for a certain character to be in the same place as the Ghost at the same time. :) Lord Caire and Temperance were lovely characters who became a balm to the other's tortured soul, but I have to admit, I can't wait to see how Silence, Winter, and Hero fare in the coming books. I'd include Godric in that list, but well, I already know his sad tale... 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Notorious Pleasures - I just love a good rake. Or a bad one, if you know what I mean. ;) And I adore them even more when they find themselves falling for paragons of virtue. I loved the glimpses of the Ghost of St. Giles and I love what I already know about said Ghost. Almost as much as I love the Ghost and what he means for St. Giles, I love how this series focuses around that darling Home for Foundlings. I'm also super glad I already had the next book downloaded when I finished this one so that I wouldn't have to wait to see more of Charming Mickey, as well, though that's another matter altogether. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Scandalous Desires - Oh, Charming Mickey lived up to his reputation in this one...and then some. Talk about swooning! I was glad to finally have Silence's story, as hers has seemed the most sad of the St. Giles characters...and also maybe the most hinted at. But I also love how previous characters make cameos and how all of their stories tie together. And though I knew who the Ghost was a long time ago, I was still excited to get that peek there at the end of this installment. Eep! Now I'm even more excited to get to the fourth book...and the only one remaining before book five, which is the one I read first and out of turn. Oops. :P πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ

Thief of Shadows - Finally, FINALLY we get Winter's story. And it was oh-so-delicious. Especially one particular detail that I would not have guessed, though maybe I should have. ;0) I was here for Winter Makepeace and only Winter Makepeace, so maybe that's why I didn't particularly love his love interest in this book. I didn't dislike her and she had an interesting enough backstory on her own, but like I said: here for Winter and that is all. I liked seeing him embrace his feelings, come out from behind the mask (hehe) and live a little. But now that I finally have the reserved Winter's story, I find myself needing another Makepeace brother's tale...specifically, the dodgy Asa Makepeace. Unfortunately, that story is still a few books out. Guess it's a good thing I'm making excellent time working my way through this series! :D

Lord of Darkness - book #5 previously read out of turn, you can check out that review here

Duke of Midnight - Please tell me it ain't so. The Ghosts of St. Giles have all gone legit, and so where does that leave me with the masked man love interest in this series?!? And to end it with Maximus, who was probably my least favorite of the masked vigilantes. Sigh. He was just so pompous and arrogant and sooo unwilling to change for his lady love. Until it was nearly the end of them. And Artemis...she went into this knowing what it would cost her, bravely faced that and him, and yet she wasn't my favorite heroine either. I enjoyed this installment, but it was probably my least favorite in the series so far. 🌟🌟🌟

Darling Beast - I liked Artemis' brother Apollo's story more than I enjoyed her own, unfortunately. I enjoyed the mystery of it. And the fact that he was so aware of what he wanted and what he could lose, should he be caught and sent back to Bedlam. The fact that he cared naught for his aristocratic standing and only for his lady love, well...he may not have been the prettiest of the Maiden Lane heroes, but he stole my heart. I also appreciated his love interest's back story and what she'd sacrificed. It was kind of a whirlwind Beauty and the Beast story and I enjoyed it immensely. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Dearest Rogue - Oh, gosh, I've just loved Captain Trevillion from the first, even when he was just a hard-assed dragoon in search of the Ghost of St. Giles. But he's an ex-soldier besotted with his young charge and that is way more fun. And poor Phoebe, struggling with adversity and the kid gloves everyone treats her with -- everyone but her bodyguard, that is. I didn't expect this pairing, but I kind of loved it. And now I'm more curious about the villain in this story because I vaguely remember looking ahead to other installments in this series and I believe he's a love interest at some point? Very curious... 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Sweetest Scoundrel - I've been waiting pretty much since the beginning of the series to get Asa Makepeace's story, and now that I've read it, I'm a tiny bit disappointed. He was always the outcast brother who only showed up when things really got hairy for his family - namely his sisters - but now I know that that was partially his own doing, that they never pushed him away, and that makes me all the more sad. And even angrier at the way he treated Eve when they first met. Basically, he never gave anyone a chance to be on his side, he's kind of a jackass, and it takes nearly till the end of this book for that to change. Winter shall remain my favorite of the Makepeace brothers. I found Eve just meh as a love interest, but I like that her character introduced us to the Lords of Chaos because it was getting kind of boring without any pirates or Ghosts of St. Giles around. ;) 🌟🌟🌟

Have you read any of these? What did you think? Find any new titles to check out? ;0)

Until next time! Happy reading!

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