Posted in Book Blog, Book Reviews

Book Review: Shadows in Death (In Death #51) – J.D. Robb

Rating: 3/5 🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Futuristic

Review:

This is another review that I haven’t been too keen to write. It’s not that I didn’t like the book but it wasn’t the dynamic, mastermind of a story I’d expected it to be with a nefarious part of Roarke’s mysterious and dangerous past rearing its ugly head. I remember how excited I was about this book but it pretty much tanked for me.

Shadows In Death started out well but Eve’s opponent this time, a blast from Roarke’s past, turned out to be a disappointment instead of a cunning criminal. I mean, Eve’s previous cases had criminals who escaped the law through convoluted, clever plans and Eve and Roarke still bested them. But here comes this low-life crook who only has luck on his side and everyone’s stumped? This was disbelieving to me on so many levels.

Other than that, I enjoyed the solidarity and loyalty of all the cops of the homicide division. The show of integrity made the book worth reading but if I wasn’t such a die-hard fan of the In Death series and I didn’t know the characters, my rating would have been less.

∼Lyn

Synopsis: Lt. Eve Dallas is about to walk into the shadows of her husband’s dangerous past. As it often did since he’d married a cop, murder interrupted more pleasant activities. Then again, Roarke supposed, the woman lying in a pool of her own blood a few steps inside the arch in Washington Square Park had a heftier complaint. When a night out at the theatre is interrupted by the murder of a young woman in Washington Square Park, it seems like an ordinary case for Detective Eve Dallas and her team. But when Roarke spots a shadow from his past in the crowd, Eve realises that this case is far from business as usual. Eve has two complex cases on her hands – the shocking murder of this wealthy young mother and tracking down the shadow before he can strike again, this time much closer to home. Eve is well used to being the hunter, but how will she cope when the tables are turned? As Eve and the team follow leads to Roarke’s hometown in Ireland, the race is on to stop the shadow making his next move . . .
Posted in Book Blog, Book Reviews

Book Review: The Awakening (The Dragon Heart Legacy #1) – Nora Roberts

Rating: 1/5 🌟

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Romance

Review:

Has a book ever broken you, not because it was so amazing but because it was so freaking disappointing? I have dreaded writing the review of this book since I started reading it and this dread, I believe now, is what caused my longest reading slump to date. Nora Roberts is one of my favorite authors and her stories have always given me strength to deal with my own life so it really hurts when one of her books leave me feeling so slumped and disappointed.

The Awakening started out so well, with such promise. I was first lured by that fantastic cover. I enjoyed the overall plot of it and I loved Breen. I empathized with her and understood what she went through and the strength it took to become who she wanted to be.

I loved Marco. He and Sally were my favorite characters. Breen’s friendship with Marco, that deep connection—Nora Roberts did a great job here because I could feel that depth of feeling.

I’ve always loved Nora Roberts’ books because of the values in them, the connection between people, the consideration and understanding between the main characters, that depth of feeling between them, the freedom of will—I hate that these were missing from the book.

When you’ve been pushed into a certain mold, and it takes Herculean strength to hammer and build yourself up, it sucks when the people who should understand that, who are supposed to be your friends are the ones who get mad when you don’t let yourself be pushed around. Breen didn’t deserve that. This and the lack of depth of feeling between the main characters (except for Breen and Marco) were a big disappointment for me.

I know The Awakening is just the first book in a trilogy but even as a first book, the rich story-telling that is Nora Roberts’ signature would have made this story absolutely gripping to me. It’s a shame because this book did have all the potential of an epic story but it saddens me that not even the cliffhanger moved me.

∼Lyn

 

Synopsis: In the realm of Talamh, a teenage warrior named Keegan emerges from a lake holding a sword—representing both power and the terrifying responsibility to protect the Fey. In another realm known as Philadelphia, a young woman has just discovered she possesses a treasure of her own… When Breen Kelly was a girl, her father would tell her stories of magical places. Now she’s an anxious twentysomething mired in student debt and working a job she hates. But one day she stumbles upon a shocking discovery: her mother has been hiding an investment account in her name. It has been funded by her long-lost father—and it’s worth nearly four million dollars. This newfound fortune would be life-changing for anyone. But little does Breen know that when she uses some of the money to journey to Ireland, it will unlock mysteries she couldn’t have imagined. Here, she will begin to understand why she kept seeing that silver-haired, elusive man, why she imagined his voice in her head saying Come home, Breen Siobhan. It’s time you came home. Why she dreamed of dragons. And where her true destiny lies—through a portal in Galway that takes her to a land of faeries and mermaids, to a man named Keegan, and to the courage in her own heart that will guide her through a powerful, dangerous destiny…
Posted in Book Blog, Book Reviews

Book Review: Faithless in Death (In Death #52) – J.D. Robb

Rating: 5/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Futuristic

Review:

From the first time I read Naked In Death, I was hooked. To say that the In Death series is one of my favorite series is like saying water’s wet. This series became close to my heart, a part of me. Eve and Roarke’s story changed my life for the better, made me stronger.

The previous installment to the series, Shadows In Death was a disappointment when I had so much expectation over it and it left me with a worry that the newer installments would be equally as disappointing but I need not have worried.

I’ve followed Eve and Roarke’s journey from the first book to this latest addition, Faithless in Death, which I just read for the second time. It’s that good.

Eve’s latest case started out as a usual murder only to branch out in twisting, convoluted paths. I have to say that this is the kind of case that suits Eve Dallas and not the one in Shadows In Death.

I loved seeing my favorite characters in Faithless In Death and the interactions alone made this book priceless to me. I enjoyed the fantastic surprise, but no worries, I’m not giving away any spoilers.

As the case progressed, my heart went out to the victims. I couldn’t help but empathize with them over everything they suffered. I was right there with Eve & Roarke, all the cops in the homicide division, with all my favorite characters as they sought justice for the innocents who couldn’t protect themselves.

The ending chapters, that fantastic scene between Eve and Roarke delighted me. Faithless In Death showed all the values throughout the entire series—the integrity, loyalty, love, strength, the fight for justice—and was an absolute pleasure to read.

Faithless In Death was released on February 9th 2021.

∼Lyn

Synopsis: In the new Eve Dallas police thriller from #1 New York Times-bestselling author J. D. Robb, what looked like a lover’s quarrel turned fatal has larger–and more terrifying–motives behind it… The scene in the West Village studio appears to be classic crime-of-passion: two wine glasses by the bed, music playing, and a young sculptor named Ariel Byrd with the back of her head bashed in. But when Dallas tracks down the wealthy Upper East Side woman who called 911, the details don’t add up. Gwen Huffman is wealthy, elegant, comforted by her handsome fiancé as she sheds tears over the trauma of finding the body–but why did it take an hour to report it? And why is she lying about little things? As Eve and her team look into Gwen, her past, and the people around her, they find that the lies are about more than murder. As with sculpture, they need to chip away at the layers of deception to find the shape within–and soon they’re getting the FBI involved in a case that involves a sinister, fanatical group and a stunning criminal conspiracy.
Posted in Book Blog, Book Reviews, Netgalley

Book Review: Quiet No More – Nikki Barthelmess

Rating: 4/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Review:

Life after surviving sexual assault. How do you do it? How do you pick up the pieces and get on with your life? Is that what you’re supposed to do? Can you? That is what Victoria strives to figure out after surviving sexual assault by her father and the hardship of foster care.

Victoria’s now in college, trying to get through her classes while inside her emotions are all messed-up. Her father’s sentencing looms ahead and she’s stuck in a love-and-hate tug of war for him, trying to grasp the right thing to do.

I empathized with Victoria over what she was undergoing and the author did a good job showing her doubts, confusion, her pain, her struggle not to let what happened to her drown her.

Right and wrong have always been pretty black and white for me. So I wanted Victoria to see her father for what he was, and I wanted her to make the right decisions but it’s hard to do that when you’ve been pushed into a certain mold.

What her so-called friend did was horrible and a breach of trust and friendship. I don’t condone that. Quiet No More is a book worth reading, providing awareness on what victims and survivors of abuse face from friends and family, strangers and society in general.

Synopsis: College freshman Victoria Parker is trying to move on with her life after surviving sexual assault by her father and six months in foster care. She’s focusing on the positives–attending college, living on her own, repairing old relationships and making new ones, and getting involved with an abuse survivors activist group on campus. But everything’s thrown into disarray when a strange woman shows up, claiming to be Victoria’s aunt and asking Victoria to lie about what happened to her. With her father’s sentencing in a few months, she’s nervous about having to share the truth of what happened with a judge. She’s not even sure if she has the strength to go through with it. But when her fellow club members begin pressuring her to speak out, Victoria has to decide how to share her story while remaining true to herself.
Posted in ARC Reviews, Book Blog, Book Reviews, Netgalley

ARC Review: Fable (Fable #1) by Adrienne Young

Rating: 5/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Pub Date: 01 Sep 2020

Review:

One fateful night leaves Fable without a mother and abandoned on an island where she has to fend for herself until the day she finds passage off it with the help of a young trader, West. And so begins the start of unlikely alliances as they strive to navigate peril and keep their head above water.

Fable’s story, how she had to strive to live, to survive, broke my heart. I felt so much pain for this young girl, left to fend alone, having to stay on guard all the time. I wanted to hug her and make her life better. Give her food, shelter, protect her. The author wove such a heartbreaking character with a core of steel that you couldn’t help but feel for her.

As for West? He was an enigma, layers and layers of complications and secrets. I wanted to know everything about him, and finding those answers, getting to know him better – drew me in deeper. The ending chapters? Oh, I tipped over the edge and fell for him.

The side-characters, the crew of the Marigold—each one with their unique voices, charmed and endeared me to their plights. As secrets are revealed and pacts made, this story grabs you and hooks you in to the last page.

The world-building and descriptions were excellent. The author’s writing was a pleasure to read and the cliffhanger left me in high anticipation for more. This was my first book by Adrienne Young, and I have to say she completely won me over. I cannot wait to read the next book.

*Thanks to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.⁣

Synopsis: As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home seventeen-year-old Fable has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father. But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive. Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men.
Posted in Book Blog, Book Reviews, Edelweiss

Book Review: Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas #1) – Zoraida Córdova

Rating: 3/5 🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Review:

I remember wanting to read this book when it first came out. But as you know with us book dragons, we’re like magpies and we get distracted by newer, shinier things, aka newer books. When I saw it was available for request on Edelweiss and that the third book in the trilogy will be released soon, I had to request it. Plus, how cool is this new cover? I love it better than the original – this new cover with the possibility of a whole other realm behind those doors.

Alejandra (Alex) is a bruja who’s scared of her magic and wishes she could get rid of it. So, on her Deathday celebration, she does a spell to banish her powers and of course things don’t go as planned and the spell causes her family to disappear. Alex is stuck with Nova, another bruja and he’s her only chance to try to get them back.

The few chapters were good and I really liked Alex. I understood her reasons for not wanting her magic. Her few, bad experiences with it had left her with mistrust and fear. But the way she didn’t take responsibility for her actions made me start to dislike her. At every point, her outlook and thoughts disappointed me.

That said, I found the plot-line, world-building, the portrayal of the brujas, and their magic, excellent. If not for the main character falling out of favor with me, I would have loved this story. Even the love triangle, the impact of which was quite mild, wouldn’t have been such a pet peeve to me like it usually is. It’s hard for me to love a story if I don’t like the main characters. I did like the ending chapters, the climax and that cliffhanger though.

*Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher, Sourcebooks Fire for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: Alex is a bruja and the most powerful witch in her family. But she’s hated magic ever since it made her father disappear into thin air. So while most girls celebrate their Quinceañera, Alex prepares for Death Day—the most important day in a bruja’s life and her only opportunity to rid herself of magic. But the curse she performs during the ceremony backfires, and her family vanishes, forcing Alex to absorb all of the magic from her family line. Left alone, Alex seeks help from Nova, a brujo with ambitions of his own. To get her family back they must travel to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…
Posted in ARC Reviews, Book Blog, Book Reviews, Edelweiss

ARC Review: Once in a Blue Moon (Blessings, Georgia #10) – Sharon Sala

Rating: 3/5 🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: 25 August 2020

Review:

After a tumultuous marriage and acrimonious divorce, Cathy fled her ex-husband to try to find a peaceful life for herself. That’s where the small town of Blessings and the super-cute, super-nice rancher, Duke Talbot come in. As the newcomer in Blessings, Cathy is reluctant to make new ties. When Duke comes to the rescue after Cathy has a bad fall, it pushes her into instant ties with the town denizens, filling her life with new possibilities and new chances.

I liked Cathy. Her decisions left me in awe. To leave everything behind, venture out in the unknown without knowing what you’ll encounter takes a lot of courage and I admired her for it. She was a good fit for Duke, a man who shouldered responsibility and strove to do what was right. Duke was so endearing, he charmed me straight away. I loved his relationship with his brother, Jake and sister-in-law, Hope.

My only complaint with this story is that it veered away too much from the romance between Cathy and Duke to focus instead on the lives of the townspeople. I would have enjoyed the story more if the focus had been on Cathy and Duke. I did love the addition of little 8-year-old Melvin Lee though, which enhanced Cathy and Duke’s relationship. He was a sweet little tyke and his manner of speaking was so cute you couldn’t help but love him and feel for his situation.

It’s been a long time since I last read a Sharon Sala book but I still enjoy her writing and the dashes of humor always leave me smiling. This book is part of a series but can also be read as stand-alone.

*Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: Sharon Sala’s Blessings, GA series immerses the reader in a world where bad things may happen, but good people always come out ahead. Supremely satisfying, Sala’s contemporary romances bring out the best in people! Rancher Duke Talbot meets Cathy Terry in Blessings by chance. She’s new to town, and so grateful to be there—Blessings feels like a safe haven. As their relationship grows and Cathy sees Duke’s feelings for her are real, she confesses she’s on the run from an abusive ex-husband. Now she’s fallen in love with Blessings and with Duke, and Cathy doesn’t want to run anymore.
Posted in ARC Reviews, Book Blog, Book Reviews, Netgalley

ARC Review: The Siren and the Deep Blue Sea (Embraced by Magic #2) by Kerrelyn Sparks

Rating: 4/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Rom-Com

Release Date: 25 Aug 2020

Review:

When two months go by without word from the shape-shifter spy, Brody, no one seems perturbed—except for Maeve, the youngest of the five embraced sisters who always had a special bond with him. Maeve goes in search of him, unaware that this course of action will lead Brody and her into a world of peril and painful secrets.

Side-note – Although this appears to be book 2 in a new series, it’s actually a continuation of the series before it called, Embraced. But all the books in these two series can also be read as stand-alones as the author’s segue is easy to follow.

I have to say upfront, I loved the plot-line of this story. So many secrets and conflicts had me turning the page and unwilling to stop reading. Kerrelyn Sparks crafted a compelling story with dashes of humor that made it a boatload of fun to read. I only read one book in this series but the author’s segue was easy to follow and her writing style a pleasure to read.

The main characters each had complicated back-stories and secrets hiding in their pasts, waiting to blow in their faces. The romance was in equal parts sizzling & funny. The side-characters were hilarious, making me laugh out loud numerous times from their witty comments.

After I finished How To Love Your Elf, I thought for sure Kerrelyn Sparks couldn’t possibly top it but I was wrong. The Siren And The Deep Blue Sea was a delightful read with side-characters that left me grinning and satisfactory resolutions to all the stories in the Embraced and Embraced by Magic series.

*Thanks to the publisher, Kensington Books and NetGalley for the ARC.

Synopsis: Four sisters have become queens, rulers of all that Aerthlan’s two moons embrace. The last sister will forge her own path . . . Signs and Seals Raised on the magic-seeped Isle of Moon, Maeve is used to unusual powers–and the way they fuel the politics of her world. But when she discovers an ability to shape-shift at will, she knows who she wants to share it with first. Brody, the enigmatic, infuriating shifter-spy has always made time for Maeve. But it’s been almost two months since she’s seen him. And though no one else believes Brody is in danger, Maeve is more than ready to rescue him herself. The rumors Brody’s investigating are terrifying: a secret army of magic-users, in the service of the cruel Circle of Five. But when he uncovers the identity of one of the Five, the mission becomes personal. Cursed as a boy by the Sea Witch, Brody can spend only two hours a day in his human form, a restriction that limits his future and muzzles his heart. Plus Maeve teases him for being such a pretty doggy instead of appreciating his manly charms. To win his freedom, he must take on a terrible disguise. And when Maeve finds out, she’ll unleash a tempest like no other . . .
Posted in Book Blog, Book Reviews

Book Review: How to Love Your Elf (Embraced by Magic #1) by Kerrelyn Sparks

Rating: 4/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Rom-Com

Review:

When Sorcha and her friend, Aleksi get kidnapped by elves, a.k.a “arrogant, two-faced bastards” in an ambush meant for her sister, she’s determined to escape and save the both of them. Then a mysterious stranger called the Woodsman shows up in the nick of time to help them escape. Before she knows it, Sorcha’s embroiled in elf politics and falling for the Woodsman.

Side-note – Although this appears to be book 1 in a new series, it’s actually a continuation of the series before it called, Embraced. But all the books in these two series can also be read as stand-alones as the author’s segue is easy to follow.

This was my first book by Kerrelyn Sparks so I didn’t really know what to expect going in. But from the first page, the author’s writing drew me in and I was invested in the world she had created and its happenings. The main characters were unique with the side-characters adding much value and comic relief.

Sorcha was easy to like but I have to say it’s the Woodsman I liked more. I found myself with stars in my eyes, devouring every new information about him. I love how Sorcha baffled and exasperated him, making him lose that tranquil zen state of his. And I found myself laughing out loud at so many of their interactions, especially that hilarious picnic scene that I won’t be forgetting for a long, long time.

The additional budding romance of two of the side-characters was quite endearing. I enjoyed this book a lot and Kerrelyn Sparks’ writing left me in smiles long after I turned the last page.

Synopsis: Raised in isolation on the magic-shrouded Isle of the Moon, five girls became five sisters. Now women, they are ready to claim their places in the world—and perhaps change it forever . . . FLAME AND FORTUNE Sorcha knew the mission was dangerous. Leaving the safe grounds of her brother’s kingdom and parlaying with the elves across their border . . . well, treachery seemed at least as likely as true peace. But to support her sister, Sorcha would brave far more than the underhanded ways of the elves. Or so she thought, before she was taken hostage. Of course, her captors didn’t count on her particular abilities—or on the help of the Woodsman, the mysterious thief who made his home in the forest. He saw the battle from the trees, saw the soldier attacking against incredible odds to save a comrade—and then saw the valiant fighter revealed as Princess Sorcha of Norveshka. He can’t tell if he wants to kidnap her or kiss her. But despite Sorcha’s stubbornness, his inconvenient honor, and a rebellion on the cusp of full war, something burns between them that neither can let go . . .
Posted in ARC Reviews, AudioBook Reviews, Book Blog, Book Reviews, Graphic Novel Reviews, Kdrama Reviews, Manga Reviews, Movie Reviews

How To Review 101

Hola, Book Dragons. Today I’m playing Yoda to your Luke Skywalker. Okay, okay, I don’t claim to be a Jedi Master expert at reviewing but I do have a basic blueprint for review of different categories of media, which I use to plan a review. It’s come to my rescue even when I got stuck with reviewer writer’s block. I’m sharing my secrets with you guys today. 😉

Books
As a die-hard bibliophile, books are my favorite things in the world. So many times, they’ve helped me cope with depression, unhappiness and so many bad things that dragged me down. But I digress. This is my list of how I review books:
1 – Book Cover
2 – Main Characters and Side-Characters
3 – Plot-Line/Story
4 – World-building/Descriptions
5 – Author’s writing
Book covers are work of arts and I think they deserve recognition too, don’t you? So when doing a review, I do an analysis of Story development, Plotline/Storyline, Character growth, Writing Style and World-building, depending on their relevance to the story.

Graphic Novels/Comic Books/Mangas
Graphic Novels and Mangas are so much fun and they are fast reads. If you haven’t read them before, you really should give them a try.
1 – Book Cover
2 – Quality of drawings
3 – Storyline
4 – Dialogues
Graphic novels and mangas are more of a visual medium rather than imagining the scenes in your head like with the written word, so the quality of drawings is a deal breaker for me. Witty dialogues are the icing on the cake, but if the illustrations are poorly-done, they ruin a good story.

AudioBooks
Audiobooks are a recent venture for me. I prefer the written word but audiobooks have their own charm. Especially when you’re stuck with chores (which I hate).
1 – Narrators
2 – Main Characters
3 – Plot-Line/Story
4 – World-building/Descriptions
For audiobooks, narrators are the deal-breaker for me. Their voice and narrating style are what make the choice for me if I want to listen to the book or not. A good narrator can make me enjoy even the most boring story but if I don’t like the narrator, it can ruin the story for me. In cases like that, I usually give the story a second chance by reading it.

Movies/TV Shows/Kdramas
Like books, I’m pretty eclectic in my choice of movies, TV shows and Kdramas. I enjoy action where things blow up, superheroes, special effects, romance, comedies. 
1 – Storyline
2 – Characters
3 – Dialogues
4 – Action
5 – Special Effects
For Kdramas, I need my element of comedy in them and rom-coms are the best kinds.

Music
1 – Melody
2 – Lyrics
Do I need to elaborate this one? 😉 A good song can reach inside you with its melody, its lyrics and shake your heart.

Like your choice of books, your review is also subjective. Your emotions are your own, and your reviews reflect how something you read, watch and listen to will affect you. That said, the one rule of thumb I always try to stick to, is NO SPOILERS. There’s nothing like a spoiler to ruin an amazing experience for someone else.

Oh, I also try to take notes when I read or listen to audiobooks. It helps me get my thoughts in line for my review.

Well, guys, this my review process. It’s not a comprehensive list and not all the points in each list will be relevant for a review.

What about you, what’s your review process?

∼Lyn