Rating: 3.5 Stars
How I got this book: Bought - Fairyloot
Sinister sorcery. Gallows humor. A queer romance so glorious it could be right out of fae legend itself. Master of One is a fantasy unlike any other.
Rags is a thief—an excellent one. He's stolen into noble's coffers, picked soldier's pockets, and even liberated a ring or two off the fingers of passersby. Until he's caught by the Queensguard and forced to find an ancient fae relic for a sadistic royal sorcerer.
But Rags could never have guessed this "relic" would actually be a fae himself—a distractingly handsome, annoyingly perfect, ancient fae prince called Shining Talon. Good thing Rags can think on his toes, because things just get stranger from there...
With the heist and intrigue of Six of Crows and the dark fairy tale feel of The Cruel Prince, this young adult fantasy debut will have readers rooting for a pair of reluctant heroes as they take on a world-ending fae prophecy, a malicious royal plot, and, most dangerously of all, their feelings for each other.
I have so many mixed feelings about this book, and I've been torn over how to rate it. So, I'm going to start at the beginning.
I've been excited to read this book ever since I first heard of it, and so I jumped at FairyLoot's December box once I knew it was inside. I imagined The Cruel Prince meets Six of Crows, which just sounded fantastic.
I started reading with high expectations. I loved the idea of a heist-style plot and the unexpected LGBT romance, and that a queer couple wrote it was really exciting.
In the beginning, I was not at all disappointed. The prologue was unexpectedly brutal, but it was incredibly gripping and had me hooked immediately.
Then, in chapter one, we meet Rags. He's a cocky, sarcastic thief from the slums who's found himself on the end of a job gone wrong, bruised and battered in the royal dungeon, trying to plot his escape.
I love Rags. He's the perfect incarnation of the loveable rogue. A sweet-heart with a rough, sardonic exterior and I instantly wanted the best for him.
"Daring a ravens, rich as magpies."
As Rags sets off on his journey, I flew through the pages. The pace was brilliant, the deception and trickery gripping, and that puzzles and challenges that Rags has to face are really interesting.
I was convinced that this book was going to be a 5* read for me.
The next character we meet is Tal, affectionately referred to by Rags as Shiny and, even though something between them felt a little 'off' for a while, I grew to enjoy their connection and the scenes they shared.
However, shortly after this point, the narrative completely changed and split into multiple POV's. After 20 chapters of focusing solely on Rag's perspective, it felt really jarring to suddenly have POV chapters from completely new characters.
The pacing also took a bit of a nosedive from here and I sped through to find Rag's chapters, which were easily the ones I enjoyed the most.
A couple of the characters, to me, felt a little stiff and lacking depth and it took a while for me to settle back into the story.
Saying that though, as I neared the end of the story, the pace, the danger and the intrigue picked up again to where, upon finishing the book, I'm back to feeling how I did at the beginning and really wanting to read the next book (although it hasn't been confirmed yet) to find out what happens next and how it all plays out. (Read: I really want Rags to get the happily ever after he deserves.)
Can you see what I meant now about not knowing how to rate this one?
So, I've decided to go for 3.5 stars because I loved Rags and enjoyed the plot itself but just felt that the pace took a nosedive once the additional POV's were introduced.
What do you think? Agree or disagree? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Genre: Contemporary YA
How I got this book: ARC via NetGalley and UCLan Publishing
When his dad moves out, Jamie tries to fill his shoes. He needs to become head of the household – right? With his mum dealing with the aftermath of toxic masculinity at its finest, and his little sister Bex struggling to understand what’s going on, Jamie has to navigate the choppy waters of what he thinks it means to be a man.
Having learned that the best way to deal with feelings is to push them down as far as they’ll go, he finds help from an unlikely source. Drinking makes him feel invincible – Super Jim can take on anything – and anyone… But how long will it be before this particular well of wisdom runs dry? And what will it take for Jamie to realise that help was at hand all along?
From the author of the Geekhood series, the first of which was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Award, comes Smashed by Andy Robb. Funny, touching, with a narrator readers’ will instantly love, Smashed is a rollercoaster exploration of young masculinity. The story would appeal to fans of Me Mam, Me Dad, Me and Noah Can’t Even.
TW: domestic violence, emotional abuse, manipulation, blackmail, kidnapping, depression, teen alcoholism, sexism.
The main reason I was drawn to this book was that it was recommended to fans of Noah Can't Even, which I adored.
It becomes very clear, very quickly, that this book centres around domestic violence. Jamie is struggling to cope after The Night Everything Went Weird when his mum got The Rainbow Eye and his dad started sleeping downstairs. He now finds himself as 'man' of the house, responsibilities stacking up as he has to mediate his mum and dad's relationship, take care of his younger sister and bear the 'Weight of Manhood'.
I really liked Jamie at first, he's a compelling character, with an inner voice that draws you in and makes you hope everything will work out for the best.
Just thinking of Bex saying those words is enough for the recently installed radiator in my throat to get hot and my eyes to blur with the sting of salty tears.
But, there came a point where his inner voice stopped being an almost 16-year-old boy and instead took the tone of a grown man trying far too hard to be funny and falling completely short (to put it simply, the voice of the author overtook Jamie's voice, and it wasn't enjoyable). When he describes his English teacher's breasts as 'pendulous milk tanks' I almost threw up, threw the book, and stopped reading.
The writing reeks of sexism, even though the supposed point is to make a stand against toxic masculinity.
So, I was at the point where I felt convinced I wouldn’t finish this book. The choice of language, the toxic masculinity and the blatant sexism annoyed and disgusted me, but something was compelling about Jamie and his plight that almost forced me to keep reading.
I blink twice, before smearing on the smile I rehearsed in the mirror. "Oh, you know me, Becky" I nod. "I'm fine."
Jamie finds that the 'Weight of Manhood' becomes harder and harder to carry, but he's got no choice. His mum needs him, his little sister needs him, and he doesn't know how he feels about his dad. Add to this a girlfriend he feels is smothering him, Jamie needs an escape, and his mum's drinks cabinet is right there...ready for the taking.
There were a few things in this book that made me cringe. If it hadn't been for the sexist language (I mean, for god's sake, he literally gives a girl the nickname 'nipples' at one point), the almost forgiveness for unforgivable acts and some really stupid decisions that would NEVER EVER HAPPEN.
At no point would you EVER freely allow your young child to go off with a man that a.) hit you, b.) stole from you, c.) basically kidnapped your child, d.) has previously used said child to manipulate/blackmail you and the child in question.
You'd literally call the police and keep the man as far away from your children as possible.
The secondary characters do add a lot to the story. Jamie's best friend is a great character, and I'd actually love for him to have his own story. His girlfriend is sweet and his little sister is both adorable and heart-breaking as she struggles to understand what's happening at home.
One thing I can say for Andy Robb is that he can write a villain with scary accuracy. I held my breath through the entirety of Chapter 30 and wanted nothing more than to see Jamie's dad behind bars.
The pacing also is fantastic. It keeps you on the edge of your seat, watching with wide eyes as Jamie's life crashes and burns around him.
Overall, Smashed is a heart-breaking journey of a young boy who spirals out of control as he attempts to deal with the aftermath of domestic violence and to come to terms with what it truly means to be a man.
I can't deny that it was compelling, but I think that some language choices and messages left a lot to be desired.
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Standalone/Series: Devil's Rock #4
How I got this book: Bought
From the wrong side of the tracks and with most of her family in jail or dead, Piper Walsh is used to everyone in town thinking the worst about her. It doesn’t seem to matter that she’s worked hard to build a good life for herself. So she isn’t surprised that when she comes into contact with Sweet Hill’s wildly irresistible, arrogant sheriff, Hale Walters, they’re instant adversaries. Piper has nothing in common with the town golden-boy-turned-lawman—and she refuses to be a notch on his bedpost.
Despite rumors, Hale avoids fooling around with the women of Sweet Hill, many of whom are hoping to get him to the altar. But staying out of Piper’s path is proving near impossible. The infuriating troublemaker clearly has no respect for his badge. As she continues to push his buttons, it becomes clear to Hale that he must either arrest Piper—or claim her as his own.
TW: Rape, Drugging, Abuse, Predators.
So, it seems that I subconsciously decided to binge read this entire series. I'm going to blame that decision on the crappy, cold British weather we're having right now and my longing for a bit of heat.
I wasn't disappointed. The fourth book in the Devil's Rock series focuses on Hale (Sweet Hill's Sheriff and all around golden boy) and Piper (the girl from the wrong side of the tracks with a dark secret) - tale as old as time, right?
Truthfully, I didn't expect too much from this book but it pleasantly surprised me. Aside from the dialogue which felt a little stiff and unrealistic in places, the chemistry between Hale and Piper was great, especially as Hale is revealed to be a little more of a 'bad boy' than he first appears.
Piper is funny, strong and confident and was the key to how invested I was in the outcome of this story.
This book is a romance, can be read as a stand-alone (although I recommend that you do check out the rest of the series) and features a sweet HEA. As with the other books in this series the author does deal with some pretty dark themes and there are references to rape, abuse, murder and predatory behaviour.
This is meant to be a dark and gritty romance series so bear that in mind if you do decide to give it a try.
I loved the tension that was built between the two characters in this book and I devoured the whole thing in a couple of hours.
If you're looking for a book to keep you warm on these cold autumn nights, the sizzling chemistry between Hale and Piper will certainly do the trick.
Rating: 3.5 STARS
Series/Standalone: Soulbound #1
How I got this book: Bought
When the gods come calling, you don’t get to say no.
Patrick Collins is three years into a career as a special agent for the Supernatural Operations Agency when the gods come calling to collect a soul debt he owes them. An immortal has gone missing in New York City and bodies are showing up in the wake of demon-led ritual killings that Patrick recognizes all too easily from his nightmares.
Unable to walk away, Patrick finds himself once again facing off against mercenary magic users belonging to the Dominion Sect. Standing his ground alone has never been a winning option in Patrick’s experience, but it’s been years since he’s had a partner he could trust.
Looking for allies in all the wrong places, Patrick discovers the Dominion Sect’s next target is the same werewolf the Fates themselves have thrown into his path. Patrick has been inexplicably attracted to the man from their first meeting, but desire has no place in war. That doesn’t stop Patrick from wanting what he shouldn’t have. Jonothon de Vere is gorgeous, dangerous, and nothing but trouble—to the case, to the fight against every hell, and ultimately, to Patrick’s heart and soul.
In the end, all debts must be paid, and Patrick can only do what he does best—cheat death.
Okay so lately, I'm starting to wonder if the problem is less with what I'm reading and more with me because I'm starting these books and enjoying them and then somewhere along the line, something stops connecting.
I mean, the premise of this book sounds amazing - it's why I chose to read it and I loved the main character. Patrick is gritty, his past is dark and painful and yet he's struggled to keep going, against really sh***y odds.
I loved this book for quite a while, the characters are varied, unique and fun. There are vampires, werewolves, mages, witches, demons, Greek gods and so much danger and action that I couldn't get enough. Hell, here was my tweet about the book when I was around 30-50% of the way through it:
Really enjoying my current read, I'd love to see a movie of this book, lots of action, demons, gods and other fun stuff!
Jono was a slightly less interesting character with an interesting 'secret' but even though I did feel that their relationship was a little too forced and somewhat rushed, I enjoyed the development.
So, what went wrong? The truth is, I don't really know and I know from the Goodreads reviews that I'm in the minority here with my lower than 4-star review. I guess at one point I started to notice the descriptive writing a little too much and it sort of rubbed me up the wrong way at how certain (completely insignificant things) were overly described.
As mentioned above, I also felt that the relationship was a little forced but then that's sort of part of the plot so maybe it was intentional, either way, it just didn't work that well for me personally (I guess I'm more of a slow burn kinda gal than insta lust).
I loved the action but felt that it was dampened a little in parts by too much description.
Overall, I really liked the characters, enjoyed the action and all of the paranormal elements whilst the pace and relationship let it down for me.
I probably won't continue with this particular series but never say never.
What do you think? Have you read A Ferry of Bones & Gold, do you agree or disagree with my review? I'd love to know your opinion in the comments below!
Rating: 3.5/4 STARS
Series/Standalone: At First Sight #1
How I got this book: Bought via Audible
Do you believe in love at first sight?
Paul Auster doesn't. Paul doesn't believe in much at all. He’s thirty, slightly overweight, and his best features are his acerbic wit and the color commentary he provides as life passes him by. His closest friends are a two-legged dog named Wheels and a quasibipolar drag queen named Helena Handbasket. He works a dead-end job in a soul-sucking cubicle, and if his grandmother's homophobic parrot insults him one more time, Paul is going to wring its stupid neck.
Enter Vince Taylor.
Vince is everything Paul isn’t: sexy, confident, and dumber than the proverbial box of rocks. And for some reason, Vince pursues Paul relentlessly. Vince must be messing with him, because there is no way Vince could want someone like Paul.
But when Paul hits Vince with his car—in a completely unintentional if-he-died-it'd-only-be-manslaughter kind of way—he's forced to see Vince in a whole new light. The only thing stopping Paul from believing in Vince is himself—and that is one obstacle Paul can’t quite seem to overcome. But when tragedy strikes Vince's family, Paul must put aside any notions he has about himself and stand next to the man who thinks he's perfect the way he is.
Trigger Warnings: Loss/grief and some homophobia.
I listened to an excerpt of this book on Audible and instantly fell in love with Michael Lesley's narration, in particular, his voices for Paul, Vince and Helena.
Over the past few months, I've fallen head-over-heels for TJ's work. His characters are fantastic - I love Paul's self-deprecating humour, Vince's sweet, persistent nature and Helena's fierce, no-nonsense attitude.
Tell Me It's Real starts off very lighthearted and funny but grows into an emotional, touching story with an unexpected element of tragedy and grief.
Paul's family are perfect! They're hilarious, accepting and truly loving whilst Vince's father is the complete opposite.
Paul and Vince's relationship is swift but no less beautiful and meaningful.
"Take that homophobes!"
TJ's immersive writing style and Michael Lesley's wonderful narration thrust me into this story and easily brought to the life realistic and relatable (even if they are a bit ridiculous and OTT at times) characters.
This is the sixth book that I've read by TJ Klune and it's completely unlike any of the others. I can't seem to get enough of his books right now and I love that he writes across so many different genres. Some of his characters share similarities i.e. Sam (Tales from Verania) reminds me a lot of Paul (Tell Me It's Real) whilst Helena (Tell Me It's Real) is very reminiscent of Gary (Tales from Verania) and yet they surprise me, make me laugh, and give me the feels each time I pick up a new book!
So, if you're in the mood for a very sweet, contemporary m/m romance that guarantees that you'll be laughing out loud alongside moments of sadness and heartache, 'Tell Me It's Real' is the book for you!
Rating: 3.5 STARS
Series/Standalone: Standalone (Collection)
How I got this book: Bought
Slow burn romance that quickens the heart. From sweet & light-hearted to raw and emotional - this collection contains eight contemporary gay romance novellas previously published individually between 2013 and 2016.
“Noticed Me Yet?”
“The Douglas Fir”
"It Could Be You"
"Bird Meets Cage"
You can catch my separate mini review of DJ Dangerfield here.
The stories in this book are short and sweet, perfect if you're looking for something to read before going to sleep.
I won't talk about every single story, because I don't have a huge amount to say about some of them. They were nice, sweet stories that delivered the promised HEA.
I'm going to talk about my favourite story first, which was 500 kisses. This is a very fun friends-to-enemies-to-lovers romance that I couldn't stop smiling over. The two characters are fun, witty and their verbal sparring sessions are perfect. Add to the mix several amusing teenage campers, a very risque bet and some drama from their past, this story was easily my favourite of the whole collection.
The Douglas Fir was another sweet story which took a rather unexpected turn. I'm not going to give too much away here but I did enjoy the plot twist. This isn't your typical romance, but it was nice, sweet and very tender. A great story for Christmas.
Bird Meets Cage was a much heavier story than the others. It features a slight age difference between the two lead characters and lots of emotional drama. What I loved the most though were the secondary relationships from family members and friends which added a lot more depth to the story.
If you haven't yet read anything else by Anyta Sunday but you're thinking of trying out her work, this collection of novella's is a great place to start!
Rating: 3.5 STARS
Genre: Dark Romance
Standalone/Series: Tales of Love & Woe #1
How I got this book: ARC from the author
Put away your magic wands and pumpkins.
These are not sweet, tender fairy tales.
Four flawed heroines.
Four classic tales of love and woe retold for modern times...
Because there’s never been an easy road to happily ever after.
The Lonely Crow—Surrounded by coyotes and unexpected magic, a heartbroken ornithologist becomes the target of a park ranger's aggressive affection. To survive, she must trust the instincts that failed her so completely once already.
Goose—After a one-night-stand leaves her belly swollen and reputation in tatters, an unemployed gas-station clerk finds herself at the mercy of her lover’s mother. But if her own troubled childhood taught her anything, it’s that she’ll fight to the death to protect her baby, and that love never comes the way we expect.
Rosie Waking—Following her father’s disappearance, a small-town waitress lives wedged under her boss’s thumb until a stranger forces her to view her life through a different lens. Can she decide, once and for all, where loyalty stops and subservience begins?
De Rege’s Laundry—When a mob boss’s desperate daughter makes a deal with the devil, she doesn’t expect a handsome ex-soldier to muck it all up. Suddenly, the woman who'd sworn to sacrifice anything for freedom must choose between escape and losing the one person who cares about her happiness.
Beautiful and atmospheric, Tales of Love & Woe is 110k word collection exploring modern womanhood through twisted retellings of The Little Mermaid, The Golden Goose and The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg, Snow White & Rose Red, and The Twelve Dancing Princesses. While love and kindness are major themes in these stories, the darker sides of human nature are, too. As such, this collection is intended only for a mature audience. After all ... fairy tales were meant to be grim.
I decided to read this collection of dark fairy tales over Halloween and 'dark' is almost the wrong word, these stories are heavy and come with a ton of trigger warnings i.e sexual, physical and mental abuse.
I haven't yet read anything else by this author but I really enjoyed her writing style and found myself hooked within just a few pages of the first story.
I actually hadn't read the full synopsis before reading the book, and so I wasn't sure which story was connected to which particular fairytale. It turns out that the only story I was already really familiar with was The Little Mermaid and so I picked up on that one immediately whilst reading The Lonely Crow.
The heroines in these stories are almost impossibly strong in spite of the suffering, pain and misery they've experienced, and the villains are truly horrifying.
Goose was probably my least favourite story from this collection and that's only because the theme of the book resonated too much with me. We all have our fears and I've had more than enough nightmares surrounding someone or something taking my child from me, so whilst I can appreciate the story, it was almost too painful to read at times.
I think my favourite story was Rosie Waking, which I actually thought was a Beauty and the Beast retelling, but I guess that wasn't the case. For me, this story was the strongest, and also the most magical. I loved Rosie's story, painful and sinister as it was.
The romance in these novels are almost a sub-plot in comparison to the trials and tribulations faced by the heroines, and a lot of the romances were surprising and definitely not what I expected.
So, if you're looking for a collection of modern-day fairy tales that are sure to give you chills, make your skin crawl and have you gripping your book in terror, The Tales of Love and Woe novella collection is the one for you!
Today is my stop on the Carols and Chaos blog tour! This book is so Christmassy and so, despite it being Halloween today, I just feel like curling up in front of the fire with a giant mug of hot chocolate.
Rating: 3.5 STARS
How I got this book: ARC from Xpresso Book Tours
A lady's maid and a valet become entangled in a yuletide counterfeiting scheme in this romantic Christmas YA adventure.
1817. The happy chaos of the Yuletide season has descended upon the country estate of Shackleford Park in full force, but lady's maid Kate Darby barely has the time to notice. Between her household duties, caring for her ailing mother, and saving up money to someday own a dress shop, her hands are quite full. Matt Harlow is also rather busy. He's performing double-duty, acting as valet for both of the Steeple brothers, two of the estate's holiday guests.
Falling in love would be a disaster for either of them. But staving off their feelings for each other becomes the least of their problems when a devious counterfeiting scheme reaches the gates of Shackleford Park, and Kate and Matt are unwittingly swept up in the intrigue.
Reading this book immediately took me back to all of those hours binge-watching Downton Abbey (gah, I loved that show), I love the upstairs/downstairs drama. At the same time, it reminded me of Pride and Prejudice, specifically the Austen-era, which I also love and so I quickly became engrossed in this sweet story.
The characters are varied and fantastic. Kate is strong-willed, determined and unperturbed by most of the things thrown her way and Matt is the epitome of a true English gentleman.
Their fast-paced romance is full of fun and flirtation but entangled with elements of drama and danger that keep the plot intriguing and moving forward.
Carols and Chaos is a sweet, lighthearted Christmas read that is perfect for fans of Downton Abbey and Austen novels.
As an aside: After reading this book I noticed that it's a spin-off from one of the author's other books, Suitors and Sabotage, but I didn't at any point feel as though I'd missed anything by not reading it, so I'm happy to say that this can be read as a standalone.
Click the cover photo above to add the book to your Goodreads TBR and enter below for your chance to win a signed copy of Carols and Chaos. The giveaway is open internationally and is hosted by Xpresso Book Tours.
Don't forget to click the banner at the top to follow the rest of the tour and feel free to leave your comments below :)
Rating: 3.5 STARS
How I got this book: Bought
Justin knows three things for sure about DJ Dangerfield:
He has some questionable taste in music.
He always provokes Justin into ringing in.
And he might just be his favorite weekly distraction.
But who is this DJ Dangerfield in Real Life? And will Justin like him in the flesh as much as on the air?
This was a really short read, I think I read it in less than an hour. It's an M/M college novella and it was seriously cute.
I love Anyta Sunday's writing. She creates believable, adorable characters and her chemistry sizzles off the page.
DJ Dangerfield was such a fun book and did exactly what I wanted by taking my mind off reality and cheering me up after a pretty bad day.
3.5 HEA-guaranteed stars from me!
Welcome to my stop on The Soul Keepers blog tour!!
Big thanks to Xpresso Book Tours for allowing me to participate, I really enjoyed reading this book and I'm excited to share my review with you all.
Rating: 3.5 STARS
How I got this book: ARC from Xpresso Book Tours
Death is just the beginning.
After dying in a terrible car accident, Rhett awakens in the afterlife and is recruited to join the crew of the Harbinger, a colossal seafaring vessel tasked with ferrying the souls of the dead. To where exactly, no one knows. But the crew must get the souls there, and along the way protect them from vicious soul-eating monsters that will stop at nothing to take the ship and all of its occupants.
Rhett and his new friends have a hard enough time fighting back the monsters that grow bolder and more ferocious every day. But then a new threat emerges, a demon who wants something that Rhett has. And if she gets it, it could mean the end of everything... for both the living and the dead.
This book took me COMPLETELY by surprise!
I admit that I struggled a little to get into it at the beginning but I quickly got caught up in the fantastic mythology.
To sum it up, this book felt like a mixture of Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean and a modern spin on Greek mythology.
I loved the writing style, particularly when it came to the action scenes which were fantastic, and also the plot twists which were extremely unexpected.
The characters were varied and interesting, keeping me engaged throughout and the mythology is fascinating, especially the ship itself, and its changing nature.
My only complaint with this book was the ending, I just felt that it left so many unanswered questions. However, I still thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend The Soul Keepers to mythology and YA fantasy lovers in general.
You can click the cover photo above to add the book to your Goodreads TBR and enter below for your chance to win a print copy of The Soul Keepers (US/CAN only - giveaway hosted by Xpresso Book Tours).
Finally, you can click the banner at the top to follow the rest of the tour and feel free to leave your comments below :)
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About Kayleigh (She/Her)
Book addict, film mad, music lover, business owner, writer and mum (not necessarily in that order), living in the UK.
About Sophie (She/Her)
Sophie loves books (obviously). She has a passion for photography and spotting wildlife, and is interested in anything made with passion and creativity.
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5 Stars - AMAZING!!
4.5 Stars - Almost perfect!
4 Stars - I really loved it
3.5 Stars - I liked it alot
3 Stars - I liked it
(I don't typically review books that I rate below 3 stars)
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