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TBalla04

99 problems, and a book ain't one

Hello. My name is Tricia, and I have an addiction, an addiction to fiction. Fellow addicts, I welcome you with open arms. Blogger over @ bookwormcoalition.wordpress.com

YOU ARE NOT ALONE BY GREER HENDRICKS & SARAH PEKKANEN

You Are Not Alone  - Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen

I was excited to get an arc of this book. I've read this dynamic duo's previous two books, Anonymous Girl & The Wife Between Us, and really enjoyed them. You Are Not Alone was very on brand for them. If you enjoyed one or both of their previous titles I'm confident this is right up your alley too.

 

I've learned to go into these stories suspicious of everyone, trying to eye details that might be telling later, hoping to get a jump on at least one of the inevitable twists. Try as I might they still manage to surprise me and I love that about these authors! You may figure out a few things on your own along the way but they seem to always have at least one ace up their sleeve that will rock you.

 

I read most of this book in one sitting. It is so absorbing. You can't help but keep breezing through the pages eager to find out what will happen next. I don't want to give any spoilery details, which is especially hard to do with this one. I will say I extra loved the darker undercurrent that connected all these ladies. I look forward to whatever these two come up with next!

 

I received an ARC of this book from St. Martin's Press and this is my honest review.

WICKED AS YOU WISH BY RIN CHUPECO

Wicked As You Wish - Rin Chupeco

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I had really high hopes for this one. The description sounded great and I previously read and really enjoyed The Girl From the Well books by Chupeco. I wish I could say I enjoyed Wicked As You Wish but it just never really grabbed me and if I'm being completely honest it ended up feeling like a chore to finish it. This is one of those times that I wish I was more of the DNF camp because it would have saved me weeks of dragging my heels through this book.

 


I'm trying to think of way to adequately describe what this story felt like, and the best I can come up with is it reminded me of leftover surprise. You know that ramshackle meal you throw together when you really need to go shopping or you're feeling kinda lazy and you just grab a bunch of random ingredients that are still good and you have on hand and throw them in a pot with broth or a casserole and call it dinner. This book was like that to me. Insert a handful of fairytale characters, a dash of legends and mythology, a pinch of hot topic social issues, a sprinkle of different cultures, and a side of LGBTQ. Voila, dinner is served! All of these on their own are wonderful ingredients, brought together they can make one incredibly tasty dish, but in this case it just didn't work for me as a cohesive recipe. Nothing quite married or really brought it all together.

 


It ended up feeling like instead of bringing these elements together in a new exciting way pieces of them were just mashed together but never quite fit as a whole. Getting thrown into the fantasy world blind at the beginning was jarring, which could have been ok for me if I understood it more as we went on, but honestly even after the end I'm still confused by it.

 


When the fantasy end falls short a reader can sometimes turn to the characters to carry them through, some cool peeps to get behind, or someone to root for. When I inevitably turned there I also felt like something was lacking. None of these characters were stand out for me.

 

 

Maybe the most interesting to me was 'the Scourge of Buyan' which seemed unfortunately used more to try and make Tala somewhat interesting rather than an intriguing character on its own. Ryker maybe being a younger version of that could have been something but we really didn't see much of him, especially not much beyond the surface level of his high school crushiness that dominated the beginning.


All in all this was just not for me, as much as I wish that wasn't the case. Definitely not something I'd be interested in continuing as a series.

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I received an ARC of this book from SOURCEBOOKS FIRE via Netgalley and this is my honest review.

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BLOG TOUR + REVIEW: HER HOMECOMING WISH BY JO MCNALLY

Her Homecoming Wish  - Jo McNally

 

About The Book:

 

 

She’s ready to shed her good-girl ways…

“You’re all about following the rules now?
“Pity.”
Mackenzie Wallace hopes there’s still some bad boy lurking beneath single father Danny Adams’s upright exterior. Being the proverbial good girl left her brokenhearted and alone in the past. Now she’s back in town and wants excitement with her high school crush—not love. Dan knows their connection runs deep, despite Mackenzie’s protests. But will their new personas work together—especially when Dan’s secret is exposed?

About The Author:

 

 

Jo McNally lives in upstate New York with 100 pounds of dog and 200 pounds of husband – her slice of the bed is very small. When she's not writing or reading romance novels (or clinging to the edge of the bed...), she can often be found on the back porch sipping wine with friends, listening to an eclectic playlist. If the weather is perfect, she might join her husband on the golf course, where she always feels far more competitive than her actual skill-level would suggest.

 

My Review:

 

3.5 stars

 

This book was like a warm (kinda shmexy) hug and exactly what I needed at the time. There's something about a swoon-worthy romance that is so light and invigorating that you can't help but fly right through the pages.

 

I loved the characters, and this definitely read like it was a standalone but also part of a wider series with these characters in the town all coming together, which I adore. I look forward to reading more of Gallant Lake's inhabitants in the future! Mack was fun and I thought it was awesome she was throwing caution to the wind and living life for herself, trying new things and not worrying what everyone else thought about it. Deputy Dan totally sounded like a cartoon character cutout at first but I loved that he had a kinda sketchy past but grew up and became a family man and hometown hero. It was interesting to see his struggles with that too. They made a really sweet pair.

 

Honestly the only thing I didn't quite love was when Dan dismissed what Mack told him about someone who was acting shady. It makes sense in a way being that it was someone he knew for so long and it was easier to dismiss it I guess than look critically at that person. I just couldn't help but to feel a little let down about how dismissive he instantly was about it though and wonder if it had came from another cop buddy or one of his homeboys if he would have not dismissed it all so quickly? It was truly a little detail but it just rubbed me the wrong way. I liked the drama at the end and I really liked that it wasn't over the top. It felt more realistic to me that way.

 

Dan's daughter was too freaking cute and totally deserves a shout out. I also thought it was awesome how Dan and the his ex had a close relationship and went extra lengths to keep a smooth thing going for their kid as a team, even with new spouses entering the picture. As a parent in a situation like that, it is something that's always been important to me and something I've strived for as well. I'd love to see that represented more! All in all a fun, light read that any romance lover would enjoy.

 

I received an ARC of this book from HARLEQUIN Romance via Netgalley and this is my honest review.  

 

THE DEMIGOD COMPLEX BY: ABIGAIL OWEN

The Demigod Complex - Abigail Owen

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This was such a fun quick read! Loved the characters and the fantasy element was top notch. I love mythology, especially greek mythology and it is really fun to see it in a contemporary setting. The romance was well done, lots of delicious tension and buildup, which I find can be hard to not feel a bit rushed in novellas, but it was perfectly done here in my opinion. I was able to read it all in one sitting and I can't wait for more Brimstone INC tales in the future!

 

I received an ARC of this book from Entangled Publishing via Netgalley and this is my honest review.

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RUTHLESS GODS BY: EMILY A. DUNCAN

Ruthless Gods - Emily A. Duncan

Wow. This book was a Godsdamned JOURNEY. The ending. Oh my gods THAT ENDING.

 

 

There were times when I wasn't sure we'd make it there, time would drag and then it would speed up and go by in a blink. If Malachiasz is chaos then this book is like living in his mind. It is chaotic and pointed at the same time. Those points are sharp though and they will exact their pound of flesh. I feel like I could read this book thousands of times and still not fully grasp everything, which can be maddening at times, but is weirdly quite fitting for this story.

 

 

This was probably even more dark and gritty and twisty than I expected. I honestly have no clue how all of this will end but I'm dying to see what happens next! I definitely need to follow this one up with something light and fluffy. Give me comfort because I'm shook.

 

 

I received an ARC of this book from St. Martin's Press / Wednesday Books via Netgalley and this is my honest review.

PROTECT THE PRINCE BY: JENNIFER ESTEP

Protect the Prince (Crown of Shards #2) - Jennifer Estep

I am so glad that this sequel was nearly as fun as the first book. Admittedly I was a little like Paloma in that I missed the gladiator life a bit in this one, but it was understandably absent and it had more than enough court drama and assassination attempts to keep you flying through the pages. There were some surprises along the way and some things that were fairly easy to see coming but were entertaining none the less. I'm really glad there isn't much wait for the next book to come out because I'm super excited to see what happens next! Also, kinda hoping Estep was setting some groundwork here for a potential spinoff later with a certain young girl and her loyal gargoyle. Seriously I'm down for more Grimley and Gemma down the line! 

KILL THE QUEEN BY: JENNIFER ESTEP

Kill the Queen - Jennifer Estep

I read this one in day. It pretty much sucked me right in and I didn't want to put it down once I got going. I wish they'd be more careful with tag lines for books sometimes, 'Gladiator meets Game of Thrones' was very ambitious and while I can see some elements here, basically court politics and gladiator fighting, it puts a lot of pressure on a story to be a lot more intricate than it is, or has to be, I think.

 

I liked pretty much all of the characters, Evie's journey was interesting and entertaining and I love that this was only the beginning of it really. I was quite surprised to find out Evie was 28 years old. This felt much more like a YA coming of age journey to me than an adult story. Which was totally fine by me, I love that type of thing. I'm thinking the next book might kick it up a few notches from occasional swearing and one frank sex thought lol. The scenery changes were perfect, I loved discovering each new place, even if it was just different sects within the kingdom and out of the palace. I extra loved the idea of the ultimate people pleaser finally getting to find a kind of freedom and ultimately a better version of herself in doing things for her own pleasure for a change.

 

Honestly this felt like a lighter fun fantasy that had some heavier more complex stuff going on for sure but it never felt heavy to me. I'm really looking forward to seeing how the story progresses in the next book!

FOUL IS FAIR BY HANNAH CAPIN

Foul is Fair - Hannah Capin

This is not a book for the faint of heart. This one is all sharp edges. The pages are blades and the words are poison. It is a blood soaked revenge tale that is relentless, uncomfortable at times (most of the times) but also shamefully entertaining. It can read a little disjointed but I think it was purposefully done that way. Definitely feeling those Shakespearean vibes and a more contemporary Heathers/Cruel Intentions (on steroids...and maybe like bath salts too lol). It's amped up and bloodthirsty and venomous. Maybe a bit too over the top but mostly in an enjoyable way. I'd like to read more by this author in the future.

 

I received an ARC of this book from St. Martin's Press / Wednesday Books via Netgalley and this is my honest review.

RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE BY: CASEY McQUISTON

Red, White & Royal Blue - Casey McQuiston

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I've seen so many people gush over Alex and Henry for months and months now, and I totally get the hype. One thing I have yet to see gushed about though that spoke to my little news geek heart was all the political goodness in there too! I can't think of a better time in our current political atmosphere to have a book like this come out. It really ignites that hope you have inside, with it being so close and also so far away from what we live now, that if Alex and Henry and all the inhabitants of their little world can get there maybe we can as well, before too long.

 

This story managed to be painfully beautifully real and also somehow still kind of magical at the same time. I read it all in two sittings and if I'm being honest the only reason it was two was because I had responsibilities I couldn't shirk. I really look forward to seeing what this author comes out with next!

REVERIE BY: RYAN LA SALA

Reverie - Ryan La Sala

I was so excited about the premise of this book, and with a tag line like "Inception meets The Magicians" I was like I NEED THIS NOW. I was pumped to receive an ARC from Netgalley. While I did overall enjoy this book, it ended up being more of a mixed bag for me.

 

I really loved the idea of the reveries! Definitely a very cool, imaginative idea. They were often vivid and beautifully described. On the flip side I thought there were some aspects of them I wish was a little more fleshed out as I felt like the concept of them was an idea that was brought to life only 85% conceived. I'm not quite sure if this was intended as a standalone book or part of a series where it is intended to expand on the idea more thoroughly in the future.

 

The characters are another element that I really liked in a lot of way but felt like something was missing. They were 100% fabulous but I also found myself struggling to connect with them. Like a beautiful painting that's just a smidge too far away to fully appreciate. I loved the idea of them having powers too and how this ragtag team of wildly different people shared one important thing in common, being misunderstood and not really knowing where they fit in this world. I only wish that would have been expanded on more as the thing that brought them together. It felt like maybe the author was unsure on how to make that happen more organically and so it is just stated vaguely later that their powers were magically bestowed to them without them really understanding why or how. I think doing this another way could have helped connect me to them more. I wanted to see how they became a team, see the struggle to adjust to this wild thing happening to them and all around them, and see those connections and bonds being forged rather than just being told it was so because...magic.

 

All in all I think this is a unique imaginative story that is a lot of fun but missing a few pieces that would have really made it amazing.

 

I received an ARC of this book from Sourcebooks Fire via Netgalley and this is my honest review.

THE ENFORCER BY ABIGAIL OWEN

The Enforcer  - Abigail Owen

So earlier this year I was lucky enough to get an arc of the first book in the Inferno Rising series, The Rogue King by Abigail Owen. I was over the moon for this rich world of dragon shifters and the building dragonian political uprising all alongside a good slow-burn (pun definitely intended) romance. I was so excited to see another dragon book from Abigail Owen coming that I automatically requested it. In my haste I didn't realize this was actually the third book in her Fire's Edge series. I'm relieved to say that I had no trouble following along as this book actually appears to tie in with the Inferno Rising series and on the flip side could be read as a standalone novel. Although I highly recommend checking the other books out, I know I certainly intend on devouring the rest of the Fire's Edge books now.

 

 

This is such a vast interesting world. I loved getting a peek at another faction of it here. The brooding moody Drake and the strong spitfire Cami were great leading characters. The thing I really like about all of these books I've read thus far is that even the secondary characters are crucial to the plot and they are equally as entertaining! *Rune and Lyndi I'm looking at you specifically* I'm consistently left wanting to get to know them more. Give me books for all them please! I can't wait to read the Fire's Edge books that preceded this one! I'm officially a fan.

 

 

I received an ARC of this book from Entangled Publishing via Netgalley and this is my honest review.

THE GOD GAME BY: DANNY TOBEY

The God Game - Danny Tobey

 

The God Game takes technology turning against us to that even scarier level, because really it's US turning against each other and ourselves. Technology is the glorious monster we have created, and we merrily revel in it, ensnared by its siren song. Give us connection, show me people like me, curious, hopeful, shy, angry, secretive...wanting. Pretty it up with smiles and items I need. Sell me the life, the look, the power, the status, the praise, the community, the voice, the escape, the very thing I so desperately desire. The thing we don't always like to ask is what's the cost? There's an insideousnesss to it, the very thing that makes us feel so connected is the thing that can most disconnect us from vital components, consequences, shame, our surroundings, the people sitting right next to us. I absolutely love when these things are explored like they were in this novel. It can be kinda dark and twisty but it never seems all that outlandish, and the best part to me is that it says more about the human condition than it does the technological boogeyman (that's already in the house *gasp*) in so many delicious ways.

 

 

It felt very fitting to have this being explored with teenagers especially, I think. The generation that has had this modern marvel at their fingertips their entire lives. I thought maybe it was possible that the darkness of the novel would be toned down to suit the YA genre, but it wasn't and I love that. Also, I think the age of the characters helped in a way bring a lightness to the story that ended up being a wonderful balance. There's an earnestness and innocence in kids that age, but also a naivety and malleability that can be dangerous in certain situations. Tobey truly gave us a superb little band of misfits we could root for.

 

 

I honestly had a hard time putting this book down each time I picked it up, which was typically late at night when tasks were finished and all was quiet. 3 sittings was all it took and it would have been less had I not started each time at 11pm. This author tells one hell of a story and he does so well. The God Game is a page turner that keeps you on the edge of your seat until the very satisfying conclusion. I'll be looking for more from Danny Tobey.

 

I received an ARC of this book from St. Martin's Press and this is my honest review.

SAWKILL GIRLS BY CLAIRE LEGRAND

Sawkill Girls - Claire Legrand

YA Feminist Horror with a wide range of sexual/racial/body type representation...can this please be a new fad because I LOVE IT.

 

This story was beautifully written. Every element of it. It was atmospheric, lyrical, thoughtful, edgy, bloody, and chillingly evocative. I can honestly say I've never read anything quite like it. Sawkill Girls covered so many things but I never once felt stretched thin by it. Legrand weaved this tale seamlessly together, much like a spider weaves a beautiful dew kissed web in the breaking light of day. It ensnares you and you can't help but admire the sheer beauty of it even as you're trapped in its sticky thrall awaiting inevitable doom.

 

I first found Legrand when I read Furyborn (book 1 of the Empirium trilogy) which I also loved. I had high hopes for this book when I picked it up, but I had no idea how vastly different they would ultimately be from one another, in the best possible way. There was an unexpected range to Legrand's storytelling I was not aware of before this. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next! Whatever it may be will be an auto-buy for me right off the jump. I don't even need a description, I'm officially a super fan and can't wait to be wowed again and again.

BAD NIGHT STAND BY: ELISE FABER

Bad Night Stand  - Elise Faber

This was a pretty quick paced engrossing read. There were a few dips at the beginning that had me questioning the characters, but they (mainly Jordan tbh) grew on me as the story continued and more was revealed. Funny enough, one thing I especially appreciated was how *searches for the right word...* unfulfilling/awkward/truly bad that stand was. Sometimes it's fun to be dreamily swept away by a fluff romance where everything is perfection, abs have their own set of abs, and orgasms come in the dozens every time. But sometimes I really enjoy a little more REAL and a little less fluff. I liked that Abby and Jordan took awhile to find their groove. I also found that this story felt less romance formulaic to me. Of course there were ups and downs, but it never truly fit into that pattern of when and where many do, which was nice. I think it added to the initial beginning dips, but I found I liked it more as I continued. I liked being kept on my toes not knowing what was coming next.  I look forward to reading more of this series, I hope to see some of the side characters step into the limelight, cause they were all pretty great.

THE BLACKSMITH QUEEN BY: G.A. AIKEN

The Blacksmith Queen (The Scarred Earth Saga #1) - G.A. Aiken

 

This story snuck up on me. At first I wasn't sure if I was going to love it. I don't want to say it felt simple, because that isn't quite right, but maybe as if it was kind of immature. In a sense some of it is a bit immature, with the constantly bickering sisters especially, but honestly it ended up just being so much fun! The plot was interesting, the action was an ever flowing gift from the gods, and the characters and their banter were wildly entertaining.

 

 

Can we also just talk about how freaking awesome it is to have kickass heroines that aren't stunningly beautiful without knowing it?! A big-burly-hammer-toting-foul-mouthed-warrior-blacksmith-queen....YAAASSSS.

 

 

That alone really sets this one apart from many others in this genre and I'm so here for it. I mean how could you not love Keely extra hard? That girl has a heart of gold and a fierce unrelenting spirit. The whole Smythe clan was a riot, not to mention the myriad of magical/mmythical beings they befriend along the way. Even the animals were captivating! Long live the demon dogs!

 

* "THEY ARE WOLVES" Caid adamantly reminds *

 

 

 

This book was full of little surprises like that. I also wasn't expecting it to be as brutal as it was in the fighting scenes either, but it was, in the best possible way. I love that this author doesn't shy away from things, she goes for it...with gusto. Whether it be bloodshed, swearing, or even just traversing a giant willful family dynamic. It also managed to feel very light to me even though there was so much destruction and danger. The banter and camaraderie kind of helped give it this awesome balance. I really appreciated that.

 

 

This was a bolder book in a lot of little ways like that and it made the journey incredibly entertaining and just so darn fun! I see this author has other books out and I can't wait to read more by her.

 
 
I received an ARC of this book from Kensington Books via Netgalley and this is my honest review.

 

HEXEN'S BINDING BY J. KOWALLIS

Hexen's Binding  - J. Kowallis

 

In Hexen's Cross Taran was impressive in so many ways but she seemed to be lacking in the practice of the Hexen craft and it was clear that she would need to bolster that moving forward. I couldn't imagine just how exactly that would come about in Hexen's Binding and I was truly surprised how it did in the best way. Some say the pen is mightier than the sword and that has maybe never been as true as it is for Taran, especially when that pen is building a magical arsenal of knowledge into her own grimoire.

 

 

I also have to say I really appreciated the strong family dynamic elements in this one. A lot of this story is getting to know ones roots, whether it be on the magical side of things, family, or even feelings. In all of those scenarios one thing rings true, it isn't easy to dig in deep and it is not always pretty what you find along the way, but in the end real strength will be found and built upon piece by piece. The Grims and the Donovans are like any other family in a lot of ways, they have their fractures and their failings but they also have immense strength and in the end a willingness to put differences aside and stand together when it counts.

 

 

While I wouldn't go as far to say that Hexen's Binding was the calm before the storm, because there was enough struggle to keep you glued to the pages, I did feel like it was building to a grand crescendo coming about in the next book. This ending satisfies just enough but will have you on the edge of your seat desperately awaiting the next installment.

 

 

I received an ARC of this book from the author and this is my honest review.