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

Posted in Book Blog, Book Reviews, Graphic Novel Reviews, Graphic Novels

Comics Book Review: Fangs – Sarah Andersen

Rating: 3/5 🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Graphic novels, Comics

Review:

Fangs illustrates the story of a feisty vampire called, Vamp (Ikr! lol), who during her long life hasn’t met anyone whom she could call a soulmate, until one night at a bar, she comes across a werewolf who captures her attention. From their first encounter, both of them find a kinship with each other and so starts their hilarious relationship.

If I had to describe this book in two words, it would be “cute” and “sweet”. Funny as well, yes, but there was a sweetness to the scenes that charmed and endeared. The drawings were excellent, with fantastic facial expressions. The witty dialogues had me cracking up. I found myself chuckling and laughing out loud at some of the scenes.

This book didn’t have a long or complicated plot-line and it was quite a humorous and enjoyable read. It’s a short read but watching the vamp and werewolf fall for each other will leave you in smiles.⁣

I thought a #bookstagram photo in full sunshine with bright yellow flowers provided quite a load of irony for Fangs. Just my little joke. 😉⁣

*Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher, Andrews McMeel Publishing for a free copy of the book.

IMG_20200723_203033_133.jpg
Synopsis: A new gothic romance story from the creator of the enormously popular Sarah’s Scribbles comics. Vamp is three hundred years old but in all that time, she has never met her match. This all changes one night in a bar when she meets a charming werewolf. FANGS chronicles the humor, sweetness, and awkwardness of meeting someone perfectly suited to you but also vastly different.

Posted in Book Blog, Book Reviews

Book Review: The Happy Ever After Playlist (The Friend Zone #2) – Abby Jimenez

Rating: 4/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Rom-Com

Review:

From the moment I finished The Friend Zone, I wanted Sloan’s story. After what she went through, I wanted a happy ending for her. Losing her fiancé as she did, only days before her wedding, it rips at the heart. How do you deal with grief like that? Sloan couldn’t. Until a mischievous dog crossed her path and forced her to live again, not just survive.

There was only one little hiccup. The dog belonged to someone else, one Jason Larsen who had no idea his beloved dog was missing. And so starts a hilarious bid to get his dog back, only Sloan no longer wants to give him back.

Sloan’s grief, how she tried to get through it, was heart-wrenching to watch. I can’t imagine the courage it took to let Jason in, to give herself a second chance to love, to have a relationship after what she lost. I loved what great friends Kristen and Josh were to her, how they supported her and tried to be there for her during her grief.

I loved how Sloan and Jason got to know each other. All the meaningful texts and phone calls, conversations—deep and frivolous, all the references that felt like fate was pushing them together and it was no wonder Jason fell for her. I have to say upfront, I loved Jason. I loved how he was with Sloan, everything he did for her. Yes, he fell fast, but sometimes, love works like that. I love how he put her first. And that climactic scene? Holy cow, talk about grand gestures!

The only issue I had was the name-dropping of famous real life actors or singers in the story. That felt off to me but it was more like a pet peeve rather than an actual problem with the story. The Happy Ever After Playlist was a wonderful story about getting through the grief of losing a loved one, trying to live again and saying yes to second chances.

IMG_20200718_181225_392.jpg
Synopsis: Two years after losing her fiancé, Sloan Monroe still can’t seem to get her life back on track. But one trouble-making pup with a “take me home” look in his eyes is about to change everything. With her new pet by her side, Sloan finally starts to feel more like herself. Then, after weeks of unanswered texts, Tucker’s owner reaches out. He’s a musician on tour in Australia. And bottom line: He wants Tucker back. Well, Sloan’s not about to give up her dog without a fight. But what if this Jason guy really loves Tucker? As their flirty texts turn into long calls, Sloan can’t deny a connection. Jason is hot and nice and funny. There’s no telling what could happen when they meet in person. The question is: With his music career on the rise, how long will Jason really stick around? And is it possible for Sloan to survive another heartbreak?

Posted in Book Blog, Book Reviews

Book Review: Undercover Bromance (Bromance Book Club #2) – Lyssa Kay Adams

Rating: 4/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Rom-Com

Review:

Undercover Bromance is the story of the man who started it all, Braden Mack. We first meet him and the feisty Liv Papandreas in The Bromance Book Club, where they clash over Chinese food, which results in Liv disliking him. Then as life often tends to do with people you don’t want to meet but who end up on your path just to annoy you, Mack and Liv meet again, in a situation that ends up with Liv catching her boss red-handed in sexual harassment and losing her job. Continue reading “Book Review: Undercover Bromance (Bromance Book Club #2) – Lyssa Kay Adams”