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Unseelie by Ivelisse Housman

Genre: Fantasy, Teens & YA

Publication Date: January 3, 2023

NetGalley Blurb:
The start of a swoony, high-energy duology that Emily Lloyd-Jones, author of The Bone Houses, calls “reminiscent of classic fairytales yet brimming with a charm all its own.”

“A world of glimmering fae that sparkles with mystery, adventure, and enchantment.” —Andrew Joseph White, New York Times bestselling author of Hell Followed with Us

Iselia “Seelie” Graygrove looks just like her twin, Isolde…but as an autistic changeling left in the human world by the fae as an infant, she has always known she is different. Seelie’s unpredictable magic makes it hard for her to fit in—and draws her and Isolde into the hunt for a fabled treasure. In a heist gone wrong, the sisters make some unexpected allies and find themselves unraveling a mystery that has its roots in the history of humans and fae alike.

Both sisters soon discover that the secrets of the faeries may be more valuable than any pile of gold and jewels. But can Seelie harness her magic in time to protect her sister and herself?

“Housman’s stunning debut is the sort of love letter only an autistic author could write. Fae canon has been waiting for this one.” —H.E. Edgmon, author of The Witch King

What I liked about the book:

1. I was definitely drawn in by the cover! The colors, the sisterly bond, the badass stances. It all screamed “PICK ME UP AND DEVOUR ME!”

2. I’m a sucker for a good ragtag group trying to solve problems and overthrow the government/monarchy, which this book definitely had in spades. I also liked that the characters were strategic and good at their own things, but they ALSO got their asses handed to them plenty of times. They weren’t all invincible and time and time again it showed with the circumstances they ended up in.

3. I liked the characters for the most part, though I felt they were rather surface-level except Seelie.

Seelie is the underdog main character for sure. She has been misunderstood and a misfit her whole life because of being a changeling and because of being on the spectrum. I loved how the author was able to show little signs of Seelie being autistic without ever addressing it directly; being an autistic writer, she definitely knew what she was doing when she showed us rather than told us. It was creatively and wonderfully done. My problems with Seelie came down to she was boring and a bit selfish at times. This for the main character along with some pacing issues we’ll talk about in a bit, left a lot to be desired for me.

Isolde reminds me so much of my best friend, Michelle. She is fierce, she is patient, and she is a little ruffian! I wish we got more insight into her character, as I felt she was always being overshadowed by Seelie.  

Olani was just flat-out a badass. I loved seeing her militant fighting style, but then also seeing her tenderly heal others. It was such a good juxtaposition for her character and I wanted more! I also have this really BIG need for her and Isolde to end up together!!! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!!! Again, I felt we only scratched the surface of her character unfortunately.

Finally, I liked that Raze, who I can only assume is going to be Seelie’s love interest in book 2, was not the “typical” hulking hero. Yes, the boy was strong, but he was also a little round and had stark red hair…so basically I pictured a less insufferable Ron Weasley the whole time. This, along with his humor and grin, had me loving him for Seelie instantly!

What could have been better:

1. As mentioned previously, I felt none of the characters were dove into satisfactorily, except Seelie who was almost unbearable for me at times.

2. “The start of a swoony, high-energy duology”…I call bullshit on this one. There was no swoon because there was no confirmed love interests. This was also definitely not high-energy. The pacing at times left me fighting the urge to skim or left me rereading several paragraphs I zoned out during. Never a good sign, but especially bad when you advertise as “high-energy”.

3. Sisters in a strange, magical world where everything and everyone isn’t as it/they seem? I feel like I’ve read this book before…there was nothing really original about the plot and there are so many other books in this arena that are breathtakingly done that it’s unfair to compare…but someone has to!

Final Thoughts:

Heavy YA, heavy fantasy. Read if you enjoyed The Cruel Prince by Holly Black.

Final Rating: 3 stars!

Thank you to NetGalley, Inkyard Press, and Ivelisse Housman for the free copy of this e-ARC. I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.

How the Grump Saved Christmas by Claire Kingsley

Hello Babblers!

We are now officially in my favorite part of the year! The stretch between fall and winter has always been my favorite, being the introverted bookworm I am. Give me a cup of spiked eggnog, a roaring fire, a good throw blanket, and a couple dozen books and I’m perfectly fine ignoring the outside world until January 2nd.

It’s also one of my favorite times of the year, because fantastic authors like Claire Kingsley deliver lovey-dovey holiday stories that us devoted readers can gobble up!

This year, Claire allowed us to travel back into Tilikum (home of the Bailey brothers and the Haven heathens) with How the Grump Saved Christmas. Once I saw that red, snow-covered truck with the Bailey Brothers logo I was a goner! I knew I had to get my hands on this small-town romance.

Genre: Romance

Publication Date: November 17, 2022

Reading Source: Kindle Unlimited

Goodreads Blurb:
Hardworking Isabelle Cook has a serious problem. Her family farm, site of Tilikum’s Christmas Village, is in trouble. Big trouble. And worst of all? The man trying to buy it is none other than the grumpiest, grinchiest man of them all—Elias Stoneheart.

That’s a big nope. She’s not letting him get involved. Not with his heart made of coal.

Elias Stoneheart is in the business of making money, not friends. Especially when his boss is promising a long-awaited promotion. All he has to do is convince one struggling family to sell their farm.

The problem? It’s Cook Family Farm. And Isabelle Cook is his ex.

He might have history with Isabelle, but this is just business. A Christmas-loving farm girl is not going to come between him and his ambition.

And Christmas? He hates it. Christmas Village needs to go.

But as Elias spends time in the small town, holiday spirit—and Isabelle—get under his skin. And she might be the only one who can melt the ice around his heart.

Author’s Note: a sassy farm girl takes on a grumpy businessman in this stand-alone, snowy, small-town Christmas romance. Saucy banter, a guard donkey, plenty of holiday cheer, and a heartwarming happily ever after that will make you believe in the magic of Christmas.

What I liked about the book:

1. Let’s start with the obvious, this setting is to die for! I love Tilikum and I love holidays with snow, so this was a slam dunk for me!

2. I love Grinchy holiday romances! I love watching the person that hates Christmas end up having the best Christmas of all and spreading all kinds of holiday cheer as they save the day. Elias’s transition was so fun to watch, from his care for his assistant’s daughter with cerebral palsy down to his little lumberjack outfits!

3. I liked the MCs enough. I loved that this was a second chance romance and this couple definitely had hard history together.

Isabelle is hardheaded and throws herself into work, to the detriment of the rest of her life. I liked her determination and I liked her rationale for doing this once we found out what it was, but I also thought she was too hardheaded at times when it came to Elias. One moment she was too hard on him and the next she was falling into old habits. I get it, she was conflicted, but it was a little annoying the way it played out at times.

Elias was fun to watch transition from grump with nothing to jolly guy with it all. He was definitely sarcastic and an ass at times, but he had a great heart when he it let it shine. He was good, but he doesn’t have anything on those Baileys!

4. I really liked Elias’s assistant Alice and her daughter Maddie. For me, they really made this story glow. I loved how Alice was one of the only ones Elias would let in, how she gave him shit, but still did a killer job not only in the office but as a single mom to Maddie. Honestly, I wanted so bad to see her end up with a Haven. But that other guy is cool I guess…

Maddie was probably one of my favorite Claire Kingsley characters to date. A little girl full of joy with cerebral palsy that she didn’t let get her down and the brain of a thirty-year-old; it doesn’t get much better than that!

5. The thing I loved the most about this story was how Claire overlapped the timeline with her last book in the Bailey Brothers series Rewriting the Stars. So many of the conversations, events, and moments from Rewriting the Stars were given a new viewpoint and twist in this story, and I loved watching them match up!

What could have been better:

1. This was not spicy at all! Claire doesn’t usually go crazy with graphic sexual situations, but I was expecting something at least! The “spicy” scenes left a lot to be desired, especially for a second chance romance.

Final Thoughts:

It’s fun, it’s festive, and it has a lot of heart, just like all other books by Claire.   

Final Rating: 4 grumpy stars!

Love & Panic by Raina Ash

Hello Babblers!

Happy Saturday! It’s my favorite time of the year and I’m beyond blissed out right now with all the amazing ARCs I’ve been getting. A great thank you to all the wonderful authors, publishers, and the couple of people that find my reviews funny enough to keep letting me read in exchange for my dad jokes.

This last week, I was awarded a copy of Love and Panic by Raina Ash. This is my second run-in with Ash, and I absolutely loved her first book I read, Nonverbal, so I had high hopes for this one. Needless to say, it didn’t disappoint!

Let’s get into the specifics!  

Genre: Romance

Publication Date: November 17, 2022

Trigger Warnings: Suicide

BookSirens Blurb:
She saved his life. It’s only fair he helps her live hers…

Being a shut-in is not your average lifestyle. But after losing her parents, suffering several car accidents, and experiencing crippling anxiety and OCD, Natalie is done with the outside world. And with friends ghosting.

In her apartment, she’s safe. Protected.

Achingly alone.

Sure, her cat provides decent company, but when Natalie wakes with a pounding heart and calls 9-1-1—certain she’s dying but really having a panic attack—she realizes a little human contact might be nice. Especially the kind that comes from the cute firefighter in her apartment building. He asks her on a date. The problem is, to go out with Mr. Cute Firefighter, she actually has to go out…

Enter Dean.

Former pediatric surgeon. Alcoholic by choice. Massive grump. Ever since a family tragedy left him divorced and shattered, Dean is more than happy to spend his days drinking and racing toward death. Until he passes out in the snow in front of Natalie’s building, minutes from getting flattened by a bus, changing both of their fates forever.

Their agreement is simple: She’ll give him a safe place to drink during the holidays. He’ll be her guide to the outside world.

As their unlikely friendship leads to unexpected feelings, both must face hard truths about themselves and how they live. Have they found in each other what they’ve needed most? Or a heartbreak that will push them both over the edge?

What I liked about the book:

1. I love grumpy/sunshine romances and this one was so good! I love watching a real grump fall to his/her knees for the Golden Retriever equivalents of the human world, and that is exactly what we got with Natalie and Dean.

With her positive vibes, endless supply of Christmas movies, and her ability to be snarky right back, him and his Grinch complex really had no shot in hell at not falling for her.

(insert cute picture of dog because I can)

Similarly, his ability to protect her on such a basic level because of his medical background and his patience (that somehow, he was able to scrounge up for her alone), made him such an obvious choice for her. The moment these two met, it clicked for me how perfect ending up with a doctor would be for her and I loved it!

2. Raina Ash writes neurodivergent characters well! I loved seeing someone with OCD and panic attacks realistically depicted and still shown as loveable. As someone who has managed OCD my entire life, I received a lot of validation and hope from this book. There were so many times where Raina described an episode or a thought process of Natalie’s and I felt completely seen.

As someone who has had the same whirlwind, paralyzing thoughts as Natalie, THANK YOU FOR THE REPRESENTATION OF MY PEOPLE AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER.

3. I loved how imperfect both of our MCs were and that they both had to struggle with their own problems together and apart. It was so realistic and definitely didn’t feel like Dean just rode in as the Knight in Shining Armor to save the little OCD girl.   

I’ve been around my fair share of alcoholics and showing Dean as two people/personalities was perfect! Loved his kind, gentle side he showed for Natalie and Oliver, but also loved how realistic his drunk, dark side was. The switch Raina was able to flip on his personality really sold me on she knows what she is writing about.

The ways they were able to be there for each other were great, but I honestly loved seeing the growth they each had when they stepped apart. It shows that you really have to work on yourself, no one can “fix” you but you.

4. Obviously, I loved the holiday setting and all the snow. This was the perfect time for Raina to release this book and I thoroughly enjoyed it kicking off my holiday reading!

What could have been better:

1. With as much as these people pined for each other, I was expecting more in the spice department. I mean, she had handcuffs for god’s sake and not once was someone restrained for kink! (Isn’t that a rule where you can’t show a gun and then not have it go off? The same should be said for bedroom restraints!) I also was expecting more growls from Dean and dirty talk, neither of which were present, sadly.

Final Thoughts:

Raina Ash is a godsdamn treasure and we need to keep her writing.  

Final Rating: 4 drunk on love stars!

Thank you to Booksirens and Raina Ash for the free copy of this book. I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.

Want to check out what else our girl Raina is working on? Hop on over to her social media accounts using the below:

Goodreads | Instagram | Website

While you’re at it, let’s be antisocial together!

Goodreads | Instagram | Gmail

War of Shadows by Emma V.R. Noyes

Hello Babblers!

I hope everyone’s week is off to a great start!

I’ve highlighted this excellent person trait (read as: flaw, if you must) of mine before, but I am nothing if not a completionist. That’s why when Emma V.R. Noyes posted on her Instagram that she was offering ARC copies of War of Shadows (the third and final installment of The Sunken City trilogy), I immediately raised my hand to contribute! I loved Emma’s first two books in this series, as well as all of her hilarious Instagram posts, so of course I wanted to sign up to highlight this phenomenal author again….plus, I’ve bought all her books in paperback after reading the e-ARCs, but I really wasn’t looking forward to waiting until December to read this final installment, so I’m also being a tad bit selfish, BUT MOSTLY THE HIGHLIGHTING AUTHORS THING!

Looking back, I rated The Sunken City (book 1) 5 stars for the perfection that it was and marked it as my favorite fantasy book during my 2022 mid-year check in. I also rated The Fallen Witch (book 2) 4.5 stars, with my biggest gripe being the flippancy of the love triangle.

So, going into book 3, I was fully expecting to have another fiver on my hands. What I was not expecting was to not like this book! I still love Emma and I’m going to be as delicate as I can, but yeah, not my favorite.  

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Publication Date: December 6, 2022

Goodreads Blurb:

The Fallen Witch has risen, bringing chaos back with her. The Ten Kingdoms have splintered. Amare and her friends are on the run. Tectixa is dead set on raising the oceans, wiping out all of humanity in the process. And, as if that weren’t enough, Lukas’s first love is back from the dead.

Before Amare can ask what this means for their relationship, Lukas and Phoebe are stolen away, sending her into a magic-fueled rage. Now, if she wants to save the man she loves and protect the Ten Kingdoms from all-out war, she’ll have to go undercover, pretending to get close to the witch she despises most of all.

Alliances will be formed, trust will be broken, and true love will be the final test.

What I liked about the book:

1. I liked how much page time Tectixa actually got in this book. Typically, we don’t get to see too much of the main baddie except in times of fighting, but I really liked the approach Emma took with allowing her to seem like an ally at times.

2. The perfections that are Lukas Mason and Maoke kept my heart fluttering right to the end. I would read a spin off on either of their backstories in a heartbeat!

3. I like being right! Now, I’m not going to spoil anything by telling you which of my predictions were correct from books 1 and 2, but let’s just say it was quite a huge percentage.

What could have been better:

1. I hate being right! I love when a book keeps me on my toes and goes a completely different route than I think it’s going to! Unfortunately, Emma and I must be on the same wavelength about where this story was going to go, which made it really hard for me to keep reading at times.

2. I really did not like the first third or so of the book. It was supposed to be a lot of backstabbing and strategies within strategies, but it just wasn’t cohesive to me. That mixed with a lot of new characters made it hard for me to get invested in this one. Plus, Lukas wasn’t even really there for the first third so…

3. Speaking of cohesive, one of my bigger gripes with this book was it felt like there were a lot of little bits just thrown together around the overarching plot. Like the author was trying to patch together enough words to make a third story, and by doing that, the story had a lot of pacing issues for me. I would much rather this have been a duology with each book having a slightly larger page count, but with better flow from start to finish.

4. Besides Lukas and Maoke, I really didn’t like anyone by the end of the story, which is crazy because I loved nearly everyone at one point!

Tectixa? – I did not buy her motivations and her feelings changing the way they did. There was so much potential for her to be such a badass villain and to cause a lot of big problems, but then it just fell flat and resolved itself in the most Hallmark-esque way I’ve ever seen. Needless to say, I didn’t care for it.  

Mira? – so forgetful and kinda boring. During one chapter her name was mentioned again and I was like “Who the fuck is Mira?”. This is not the reaction I should have had to this character with how big of a deal she was supposed to be.

Finn? – where the hell was he most of this book?

Shoa? – where the hell was she most of this book?

Cora? – for the love of God, stop being so judgy!

Phoebe? – I have less opinions on her now than when she was dead.

Amare? – She was by far the largest disappointment of this series. She went from a total badass who was going to be a Queen Pirate Witch, to a whiny middle school girl with minimal strategy skills and a wicked jealousy streak. My respect for Amare slowly sank with each installment of this series and was nonexistent at the end.

Final Thoughts:

Overall, the series was still good, but after the perfection that was book 1 and near perfection that was book 2, I was expecting a lot more from this story’s ending. The end results were right, but the execution was where the story lost me.

Final Rating: 3 sunken stars

Thank you to Emma V.R. Noyes for the free copy of this book. I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.

Want to follow Emma and check out her next projects? Check out her social media below.

Goodreads | Instagram | Website

While you’re at it, let’s be antisocial together!

Goodreads | Instagram | Gmail

Fighting for King by Gillian Archer

Hello Babblers!

Hope your weekend is going well!

I, myself, am getting a little sentimental. We’re coming up on the one-year mark of having my own blog (which is completely unbelievable to me!), but I also got an ARC for the second book in the Star Studded series by Gillian Archer, Fighting for King. The first book in the series, Falling for Rome, was posted the first day I started my blog and a quote of mine was even featured on the author’s website, so this series holds a special place in my heart.

With my review of Falling for Rome (whoops, how did this review of book 1 get here?: Falling for Rome). I put my money on King being my favorite. So how did he stack up? I fell for Rome, but would I fight for King? Let’s find out!

Genre: Romance

Publication Date: November 17, 2022

NetGalley Blurb:

The Nanny Factor! Is there something more going on between Actor Kingston Grier and his new nanny? Stay tuned…

Kingston: Who knew it would be such a challenge finding a nanny who could focus on my daughter without getting sidetracked by trying to get into my bed? I can’t even make eye contact without them thinking I’m flirting. I’m not.

Until Briar arrives, and finally we have a nanny who’s there for Zoe. But why does this Mary Poppins have to be so damn hot?

Briar: My divorce left me with more than my share of trust issues. Not that I’m looking at my new boss that way. Kingston might be a Hollywood hunk, but the guy has the personality of a potato. His daughter couldn’t be more different. One look into her doe eyes, and I am in love.

Somehow Kingston and I go from barely speaking to talking all night long. And our attraction becomes impossible to deny. Just when everything’s finally going right, intimate pictures of us are leaked and the fallout is insane. When I signed up for this job, I knew I’d do anything to protect Zoe—I just never expected how much I’d want to fight for King.

What I liked about the book:

1. Similar to book one, this sequel had fantastic writing. Gillian Archer is a pro at creating genuine and lovable heroines you want to be BFFs with and flawed heroes you can’t help but want more of.

Briar had all of my love from the beginning with her sad backstory. This woman had went through two things I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, and yet still maintained kindness and a hopeful attitude. I also loved that she was a divorced, older (as in, not nineteen) nanny.

We’ll get to King in a bit, but he was not the main man for me in this one. I mean, obviously, yes, he was the MMC, but he is not the one who stood out and made me want more. That honor goes to…NIX! I know, I can’t believe it either after the hate I had for him in book 1! With him finally being clean, him helping to mend the battles in their family, and his “help” to Briar , he had me seeing him in a new light. Dare I say, I think he’ll be my favorite Grier brother? UGGGHHHH, no matter how hard I try these bad boys just keep finding me! 😉

2. It’s a guilty pleasure of mine, but I really like the nanny/employer trope and this one was done well.

I liked how Briar was actually competent at her job because of her background in teaching. I also liked that the couple wasn’t thrown together 24/7 like a lot of less-preferable nanny/employer trope books I’ve read. And, of course, there’s the perk of an adorable child! Though, I did like that the book definitely didn’t shy away from the struggles of watching a toddler all day, because let’s be real, it’s not all giggles and rainbows.

3. I liked the additional people we met in this one so much that I wasn’t even that mad that Rome and Sophia weren’t in it much.

Briar’s parents are hilarious, especially with King being one of her mom’s celebrity hall passes…AWKWARD! But hilarious!

Mak is the strong, silent type buddy you know has a lot going on under the surface. He definitely served as the swift kick in the ass to the couple everyone needs every once in a while.

And lastly, I actually liked Joyce (King’s mom). She was understanding, warm, and seemed to be the only one that could keep Nix in line. Despite her history, I couldn’t help but trust her this time around.

4. King is supposed to be the actor who plays Captain America, so of course I immediately think of my future baby daddy Chris Evans. Point? That cover is spot on! Great job whoever decided on that cover because you nailed the sexiest man alive look. Seriously, am I the only one that wants to trace his beard lines with my tongue? Just me? Alright…

What could have been better:

1. I was a little underwhelmed with King, but I think that’s because of my high hopes going into the sequel. Don’t get me wrong, he was great once he wasn’t so prickly. Unfortunately, I think the best term to describe him for the first half of the book is off-putting, which is not a glowing recommendation. I’m all for the grumpy x sunshine trope, but that wasn’t really what happened in this book either. He was just…off-putting.

2. I feel like another thing the books in this series have in common so far are shit best friends. I didn’t care for Molly in book 1, and I definitely didn’t care for Lyla in this one. I feel with how genuine the FMCs are in this series they deserve better.  

Final Thoughts:

I would verbally spar, for King; I would fight for Briar.

Final Rating: 4 don’t sleep on this beauty stars!

Thank you to NetGalley and Gillian Archer for the free copy of this book. I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.

The Lost Warrior by Atley Wykes

Hello Babblers!

Been a while…apparently November 15 is the new October 15 in the tax worldIYKYK. BUT I’ve got a great book recommendation for you as an I-missed-you gift!

The Lost Warrior, book 3 (and the last full-length book) of the Inkwater series by Atley Wykes, was the one I was waiting for the most! As a curvy, redhead (it still counts if it’s dyed!) with many insecurities, I have been in TOTAL love with Halana since the very beginning! I couldn’t wait to dive into her story and watch her make Cianan earn her.

Without further ado, let’s get to the review!

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal Romance

Publication Date: November 8, 2022

Booksprout Blurb:

“Your heart drips with shadows. You don’t know how to love.”

Cianán can do nothing right when it comes to Halana. From their constant bickering to his failed attempts to seduce her in the Inkwater swamp, he’s always screwing things up. By the time he realized the headstrong half-fae warrior had feelings for him, he’d ruined it. She dismisses his many attempts to win her affection as he follows her mad dash across the countryside. But now that she’s been abducted…

Nothing will stop him from finding her.

Halana—left reeling after her twin brother’s death—fled Frosthold for a life of danger. She tries to outrun her grief and the dominating, yet sensual shadow fae tracking her every step, but she can’t run forever. Soon she’s captured by witches, bound on a ship to Adria and an unknown fate.

If only she’d trusted the shadow fae…

Cianán is determined to rescue Halana and prove that he can be more than a rake, even if he’s the last person she wants to see. However, unbeknownst to either of them, war is on the horizon and Halana’s abduction is only a piece of the larger puzzle. Stielor is under attack and they have to work together to prevent their homeland’s destruction. Can they put aside their fiery tempers to protect their home?

Or will their love scorch them both?

~Don’t mind me, shameless self-promotion of my reviews of the first two books~

What I liked about the book:

1. Halana has been my girl since book one, so of course I was going to love a book full of her! What I did not expect was to like Cianan so much! By nature, he is very hesitant and always thinking through plans, as opposed to Halana who jumps all in without thinking a lot of the time. Even though he is a playboy (my own personal kryptonite) I thought that would mean he would be kinda, sorta a dud MMC. Fortunately, that could not be further from the truth!

He is a planner which really just means he’s smart AF and has connections, he’s an outcast of both his “societies” (I fucking love my underdogs!), and he’s a man with more than one thing to prove.

Honestly, I think he had the biggest opportunity for a complex backstory of all the MMCs in this series and I wanted to take a sexy little stroll with him through the shadow realm. Speaking of, his dirty talk was straight up delicious and the man had wings! That’s one of those things I always forget I really, really like in a MMC…moving on.

2. Something Atley Wykes does very well, and was present in this book, is she layers in new characters seamlessly. She doesn’t throw too many new characters at us that we feel we’re drowning to keep up, but she keeps it interesting with just enough new people to root for. In this book, I just adored Marcus and his family! I would read a Marcus and Mera prequel for sure!

3. WATCH OUT! Ithric was a total badass in this one! Seriously, he may not have a heart for war, but he saved all these fools!

4. I loved that we got a good amount of Ithric and Destrian, especially since they have the next (albeit, novella-length) book in the series. I’m shipping them so hard!

5. I loved how Baelin’s memory was honored throughout the book through both Halana and Ithric. The emotions were very grounded in reality and it heavily emphasized to me that you don’t truly lose someone the way you often feel you do. I thought this was a lovely touch for the series and I about lost my shit when Halana did…well done, Wykes.   

6. Some of my favorite quotes/scenes:

She’d spent most of her life proving to men that she was a threat. That this one realized it early without her having to beat it into him spoke to his intelligence.

QUEEN!

——

“Fiery and passionate, with a tongue like a whip.”

“That’s her.”

“You know what they say about women like that here?” he asked with a sly look.

“No. What?”

“Marry them.” He grinned at Cianan’s sour expression. “Hot tempers make hot bedsheets.”

Marcus knows what’s up!

—-

Part of her had wanted him to kiss her, to shut her up, and the other craved to fight him until they were rolling in the dirt.

Keep the sex dirty and the fights clean 😉

—-

“If you love this woman, then you must accept all of her. Not just her beauty and fire, but her insecurities and hurt. It falls to you to provide her stability until she can work through those things on her own, or with your help. That is what it means to take care of a woman.”

Another great insight from Marcus. God, I just want to adopt him as my grandfather or something.  

—-

“Look at me, Lana.” He demanded, pulling her hair and forcing her eyes to meet his. “This is the only cock you’ll ever take between your lips.” He thrust into her mouth until he bumped the back of her throat before retreating. “I’ll kill any man who tries to fuck this sweet mouth. Because you’re mine.” His eyes glowed silver, molten, and piercing, his voice guttural. “This ‘practice’ will only be you learning how to suck me off because I’ll never give you up.”

– Oh lord, I would be sportin’ knee bruises for the rest of my life with that kind of talk

What could have been better:

1. For how much Halana told Mardella she was being dumb in book one for her relationship decisions, she made a lot of dumb decisions herself. Like, I get it being a curvier, redhead with insecurities and a love for playboys, but still…GIRL! Stop overthinking this when you take all other parts of life by the balls! You were supposed to be too much for him to handle and he would have to grow as a man to keep you!

2. The shadow realm in general was not explored to my satisfaction. I wanted more shadow realm background and a whole new world for us to understand, I wanted more shit to actually go down in the shadow realm, and I wanted to find out that Cianan was supposed to be King of this world and Halana his Queen, or something equally as bizarre because GODSDAMN IT THEY DESERVED IT! It just left me wanting more that will go unanswered given this is the last full-length book in the series.

3. I’m mad that after all this buildup Ithric and Destrian are only getting a novella. I’m seriously pouting like a three-year-old. That is all.

Final Thoughts:

Read it. Read them all.

Final Rating: 4.5 lost-and-found stars!

Thank you to Booksprout, the publisher, and Atley Wykes for the free copy of this book. I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.

Check out Atley’s social media at the links below.

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Frost Claim by Elle Beaumont and Candace Robinson

Hello Babblers!

Happy October 19th, hereby known as “the day I can finally breathe again after tax season”. And boy was this a rough one! Good thing Elle Beaumont and Candace Robinson had my back this week with their ARC of Frost Claim, book 1 in the Demons of Frosteria series!

I was first introduced to this world when I was gifted the ARC of the prequel novella Frost Mate last December, and I couldn’t wait to return for Aeryx’s story!

Let’s reminisce a bit first with my review of Frost Mate.

*Frost Mate*

Genre: Romance, Fantasy

Publication Date: December 22, 2021

Rating: 4 frosty stars!

Goodreads Blurb:

He’s the captain, and she’s the trainee. Will a mission get in the way of their fated bond?

Captain Korreth spends his days training Morozko’s Army, wanting nothing more than to quash the Changelings as they wreak havoc on Frosteria. But when a new trainee enters the barracks, he feels an inexplicable pull.

New recruit Zira has one thing on her mind, and it’s taking out the Changelings that slaughtered her family. She’s full of vengeance, but she can’t deny how difficult it is to focus in the presence of the captain.

With tensions rising in Frosteria and the mortal world, Korreth and Zira must work together, however, it will take the strongest of wills to ignore the call of a mate bond. That is, if they even wish to.

Frost Mate is a whole new, sexy, and action-packed retelling of Krampus! This novella will surely satisfy lovers of spicy monster romances, while still bringing the reader on a journey into an epic world.

What I liked about the book:

1. This was such a quick, interesting read, involving all the great elements of fantasy, romance, and a fictional war. I’m a sucker for quick but interesting reads. Seriously, I gobble that sh*t up

JoeyChestnut


2. Korreth is what all alphas should be. He’s fierce, protective, gruff, but he’s also sweet and sensual when he finds his perfect mate. Never have I had the urge to use this term, but he may have just became “daddy”. Well earned, sir.

Current commentary for this old review: AHHHH THIS WAS THE START! You never forget your first daddy 😉

3. Aeryx is just the cutest little demon I’ve ever seen! What a strong, helpful, little soldier at such a young age. BUUUUUT, he TOTALLY didn’t wipe that human girl’s mind. MARK MY WORDS!!! There is another story there waiting to unfold. As soon as a guy mentions a girl’s hair, that’s it, they’re fated!

Dr.StrangeFate


Why it didn’t get 5 stars:
1. Because it was short, I felt there was so much background I still wanted to know on these main characters. I want to know more about each of their pasts and possibly get throwback chapters about them. Will we get to know more later?

2. I didn’t really connect with Zira. She had so much potential to be a badass, and I just felt like it fell flat for me. She was fine, but not greater than life.

Alright, now that you’re caught up, let’s proceed!

*Frost Claim*

Genre: Romance, Fantasy

Publication Date: October 25, 2022

Rating: 4 my, what long horns you have stars!

Goodreads Blurb:

Sometimes, the beauty does claim a beast.

Aeryx is a warrior in Morozko’s army, yearning to destroy those who brought ruin to his home. But when duty brings him to the human world, he encounters a problem. An intoxicating problem he wants nothing to do with.

A problem he can’t resist.

Noel has rebelled for most of her life, and college is doing nothing to change that fact. Until one sorority night, when she witnesses the unthinkable and stumbles upon a monster from another realm. A monster who makes her question everything.

Including her desire for the beast.

Perfect for fans of Elizabeth Briggs, C.N. Crawford, Laura Thalassa, and Beauty and the Beast. Frost Claim is inspired by Krampus and book one in this fantasy romance series with forced proximity, plenty of banter, heavy steam, and sexy monsters you won’t be able to resist.

What I liked about the book:

1. I don’t know why, but this world just sucks me in. It’s not that it’s terribly fleshed out or earth shatteringly original, but something about it makes me want to visit and find my own Krampi warrior mate. It sounds absolutely beautiful and I love the various wars going on within the world.

2. I like when I’m proven right. That’s all I’ll say about that.

3. I liked the characters. Noel was much more tolerable than Zira was in the prequel, and she was hilarious. I loved her back and forth with her best friend Ivy and their shared interest in old movies. I also loved Aeryx, but I wasn’t surprised by that. He had all the good qualities of his dad, but was also a bit more easygoing, which is a definite plus!

4. The steam was good. Not A+, but good enough to get you through.

5. I’m a sucker for anything that has references to Beauty and the Beast. So we basically have Disney to thank for my love of rough/beastly men…

Why it didn’t get 5 stars:

1. Again, there is nothing new or original about the plot. It’s your run-of-the-mill fantasy/romance story. But I enjoyed it nonetheless.

2. I did not love that surprise twist for Noel. For once I just wanted a normal character, so here’s hoping book 2 delivers on that front!

3. Getting picky, that cover is NOT doing it for me! The cover for Frost Mate was ridiculously attractive (seriously, go take another look at that bad boy), but this one sparks thoughts of a really bad shifter romance. I’m fairly certain I passed this by when it first made it to Booksirens because that’s exactly what I thought it was. I guess that teaches me to not judge a book by its cover!

Thank you to Booksirens, the publishers, and Elle Beaumont and Candace Robinson for the copy of this book. The opinions expressed above are my own.

PUB DAY: Last of the Talons

Happy Pub Day to Last of the Talons by Sophie Kim! If you haven’t checked out this beauty, now’s your chance!

My full review is available at this link: Check it out!

Don’t have time to read all my words of wisdom? I got you boo. Here’s a teaser of what to expect!

Interested in following Sophie Kim for updates on our favorite assassin and other cool books? Check out her profiles below:

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While you’re at it, let’s be antisocial together!

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A Guide to Being Just Friends by Sophie Sullivan

Hello Babblers!

Happy Tuesday! It’s been raining where I’m at, which I absolutely love! I know when it rains, I love nothing more than curling up with a cup of cocoa, a warm blanket (or three), and a good book, and then finally ending the night with a viewing of When Harry Met Sally (one of my all-time favorites!)

As a lover of rom coms, especially those where our MCs go from friends to lovers, I was super excited for A Guide to Being Just Friends. I mean, the blurb freaking references When Harry Met Sally AND 500 Days of Summer. How could that not be my jam???

Well, I’ll tell you…

Genre: Romance  

Publication Date: January 17, 2023

NetGalley Blurb:

When Harry Met Sally meets 500 Days of Summer in A Guide to Being Just Friends, a playful and emotional romantic comedy from the author of Ten Rules for Faking It.

“Sophie Sullivan’s writing feels like a warm hug.” —Rachel Lynn Solomon, bestselling author of The Ex Talk

Hailey Sharp has a one-track mind. Get By the Cup salad shop off the ground. Do literally everything possible to make it a success. Repeat. With a head full of entrepreneurial ideas and a bad ex in her rearview, her one and only focus is living life the way she wants to. No distractions.

Wes Jansen never did understand the fuss about relationships. With a string of lackluster first dates and the pain from his parents’ angry divorce following him around, he’d much rather find someone who he likes, but won’t love. Companionship, not passion, is the name of the game.

When Hailey and Wes find each other in a disastrous meet cute that wasn’t even intended for them, they embarrassingly go their separate ways. But when Wes finds Hailey to apologize for his behavior, they strike a friendship. Because that’s all this can be. Hailey doesn’t want any distractions. Wes doesn’t want to fall in love.

What could possibly go wrong?

“A joyful, swoony romance full of heart and humor!” —Sarah Adams, author of The Cheat Sheet

What I liked about the book:

1. Of course, the idea was cute to me.

2. My favorite characters were the side characters who worked in Hailey’s shop. They probably had the most personality in my opinion and I wanted more for them. The only way I would read another book in this series is if it was about Leo…

What could have been better:

1. This whole story just felt really stiff and I didn’t really feel a connection to anyone. There were hints to backstories, but no real depth to the characters, which was a big miss in my mind.

When I requested this book, I had no clue this was book 3 in the series (though, this can be read as a standalone). So perhaps I’m missing a lot of the background for Wes in books 1 and 2, but I know I’m not missing anything for Hailey, so there is no excuse there for poor characterization.

2. These characters were too boring to have this much drama! I was legit pissed how many times the “big fight” happened between our MCs. It was like as soon as it was solved, there was something else. Between Hailey never being able to accept help and Wes being a total idiot when it came to wanting her for the rest of his life, but not, like, loving her (what the fuck was that shit?!?), this whole story was a test of my patience.

3. This was too suggestive to be clean, but too clean to be anything other than YA-level dirty. Just pick a lane, don’t tease us.  

4. This “guide” was mentioned, but never really fleshed out. I wanted a freaking contract like in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Not a passing nod reference to the goddamn title of the book….

Final Thoughts:

I’m sure this would be great for some, but just wasn’t for me. It was too much of a cookie-cutter, clean romance with characters that just didn’t appeal to me.  

Final Rating: 2.5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press, and Sophie Sullivan for this book in exchange for my honest review!

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Illuminations by Alan Moore

Hello Babblers!

Question for you: what was the first graphic novel or comic book you read?

Mine, fortunately or unfortunately depending on the way you look at it, was Watchmen. I remember sitting in my high school boyfriend’s bedroom, perusing his bookshelf, when something about that bloody smiley face just called to me. Jumping from that to V for Vendetta and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, it was established: I was a complete and total Moore Whore.

That’s why I completely freaked out when I got my newest ARC from the man, the mystical, the legend!  

*My review below is based on the first 7 books in this collection

Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Adult Fiction

Publication Date: October 11, 2022

NetGalley Blurb:

From New York Times bestselling author Alan Moore-one of the most influential writers in the history of comics-“a wonderful collection, brilliant and often moving” (Neil Gaiman) which takes us to the fantastical underside of reality.

In his first-ever short story collection, which spans forty years of work, Alan Moore presents a series of wildly different and equally unforgettable characters who discover–and in some cases even make and unmake–the various uncharted parts of existence.

In “A Hypothetical Lizard,” two concubines in a brothel of fantastical specialists fall in love with tragic ramifications. In “Not Even Legend,” a paranormal study group is infiltrated by one of the otherworldly beings they seek to investigate. In “Illuminations,” a nostalgic older man decides to visit a seaside resort from his youth and finds the past all too close at hand. And in the monumental novella “What We Can Know About Thunderman,” which charts the surreal and Kafkaesque history of the comics industry’s major players over the last seventy-five years, Moore reveals the dark, beating heart of the superhero business.

From ghosts and otherworldly creatures to theoretical Boltzmann brains fashioning the universe at the big bang, Illuminations is exactly that–a series of bright, startling tales from a contemporary legend that reveal the full power of imagination and magic.

Hypothetical Lizard (46 pages) – 4 stars

Alan Moore has a way of weaving medical horrors grounded in Sci-Fi into everyday life in a way that is disturbing and completely unforgettable.

In Hypothetical Lizard, we meet our FMC, Som-Som, who is a Whore of Sorcerers at the House Without Clocks, which is basically a brothel dealing with exceptional requests. Som-Som was brought to the brothel and sold by her mother before having undergone a procedure where the connection between the two hemispheres of her brain were severed. A mask was placed over half her face, and a thick glove was installed on her hand. All of this acted to destroy the connections between her ability to intake things and output others in response (her thoughts and actions do not matchup). Essentially, she can see and hear, but any response is a non sequitur. This makes her perfect to be the Whore of Sorcerers, who apparently can’t be trusted to keep their mouths’ quiet during the act…

While this background is given, the story really focuses on Som-Som’s transexual friend Rawra Chin and her abusive partner Foral Yatt. We watch Rawra go from this courageous individual who leaves the House Without Clocks seeking (and finding) success, only to come back for love and be reminded of why no one can be trusted, especially with a smile like his.

Side note: I just read Moore’s Fashion Beast and I definitely got the feeling these were written around the same time in his career. If you enjoyed the overall feel of that one, you’ll love this one!

Not Even Legend (15 pages) – 3 stars

This short was obviously more current than the last, given there was the reference to COVID, but also because of Moore’s more modern style of writing. While this story still had his elements of sci-fi and general what-the-fuck-is-going-on -ness, it was definitely less chaotic and intellectual than his normal writing style. I loved the ideas of what was happening in this story (different alien lifeforms and whatnot), but I’m not sure I loved it as a Moore story. I also felt this should have been much longer. I would read more of this though, as I feel it has potential (uuugggghhhhh and now I just feel pretentious saying that about Alan Fucking Moore! Who SAYS that!?!?)

Location, Location, Location (35 pages) –  5 stars

Jesus is inheriting the family business and it’s fantastic! I loved this one the most given it was quick, it was cerebral, and it brought that beautiful sexual undertone that Moore has to the surface, complete with a cinnamon-roll Jez.  

This one had me feeling all kinds of things (I should mention that my sexual awakening came from the hands of Alan Moore in the form of Black Dossier, because, you know, I’m not a big enough nerd as it is…). I loved the ending, where, if I’m interpreting correctly, she was led into the Garden of Eden hungry. I do not know why this spelled out the perfect set up for reverse harem Jesus-Devil-Angie scenario, but now I, someone who does not like sharing, need this devil’s threeway in my life!!!

Cold Reading (17 pages) – 5 stars

An “opportunistic” medium gets more than he bargained for in this ghastly tale!

This was witty, character-driven, and a sure start to a horror novel that I would push everything in my life away to read.

Moore’s ability to take common, reality-based fears and turn them into something disconcerting is one of my favorite talents of his. For real though, what’s scarier than something that could happen? Ghosts, aliens, and unknowns? Something about these subjects gets me a little more on the edge of my seat than the definite non-realities of zombies, vampires, etc. And, boy, does he craft them well.

Also, his ability to develop a character and his/her traits within minutes of reading is so good and probably the reason I refuse to like stories with characters reminiscent of cardboard. I’ve been spoiled as a Moore Whore, thus I have standards…

The Improbably Complex High-Energy State (37 pages) – 5 stars

I found this story to be peak Moore: full of scientific processes that tickle your cerebral cortex while normalizing sex.

The best way to describe this one is the evolution of a being, starting from nothing and eventually falling into the normal pitfalls of arrogance, judgment, and yearning for omnipotence. Definitely not lite reading, but definitely interesting.    

Illuminations (17 pages) – 2 stars

The titular short left a lot to be desired for me. I can’t even fully articulate what the hell this was about, other than a man having a mid-life crisis and never coming back from it. This draaaagged hardcore for me.

What We Can Know About Thunderman (241 pages) – 4 stars

This story, which takes up a majority of the total page count, shows an interesting set of interconnected lives belonging to persons in the comic industry.

I liked the shifting of timelines and perspectives in this. It definitely had a very Pulp Fiction feel to me, which is always a plus.

It had death, murder, pornography, Americana, and pop culture. This definitely also had Moore’s feelings towards movies never being able to live up to the comic books they try to recreate expressed, which was cool to see.

Overall, I feel I would have enjoyed this better if I had any idea who these people were supposed to represent or knew more about the comic book industry itself, but it was still a fun, easy read.

Final (Average) Rating: 4 stars!

Thank you to NetGalley, Bloomsbury Publishing, and Alan Moore for this book in exchange for my honest review!

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