Posted in Book Blog, Book Reviews

eARC Review: The Tangleroot Palace – Marjorie M. Liu

Rating: 5/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Fantasy, Horror, PNR

Release Date: 05 Apr 2022

Review:

I came across this book on NetGalley and the title – “The Tangleroot Palace” was the first thing to intrigue me. I’m so glad I requested it and was lucky enough to get approved for it. From the first page, the author’s words caught my attention and held it, refusing to let go.

The Tangleroot Palace is a collection of 7 short stories and usually, for this type of novel, I’d review the book as a whole. But there was such depth and individuality to each story that it’s only fair to review each one.

1 – Sympathy For The Bones
This was such a creepy little story and bloody fantastic in its creepiness about fairness and justice and the difference between helping someone out of the kindness of your heart and helping only to keep someone beholden to you. A lesson the young girl forced into apprenticeship to a Blair-type witch learned in time to save as much of her soul as she could. Is there forgiveness and redemption for acts committed when you had no other choice to try to save your soul? I want to think so, at least for this young girl who should have had people to love and care for her.

2 – The Briar and The Rose
Stuck in your own body, helpless to do anything but watch and scream inside. And the desperation of one who would do anything to release that imprisoned soul. It was heartbreaking to see the struggle and the pain. I wanted more details on the conclusion but it was an apt ending so it didn’t disappoint.

3 – The Light and The Fury
There’s nothing pretty about war – no dignity, no honor. One woman alone, longing for peace but burdened with saving her people. Another intriguing plot-line, centering around crystal skulls, which can be fascinating but personally, I find kind of creepy at the same time.

4 – The Last Dignity of Man
I found this one to be a heartbreaking story despite the creepy element – the hopeless, never-ending search for a cherished wish and the desperate struggle to find a way to get past the heartbreak of knowing that wish would never come true. The ending hit me totally out of the blue, I did not see that coming but it stayed with me for a long time.

5 – Where The Heart Lives
Oh, this is definitely one of my favorites in this collection. I have a soft spot for paranormal romance and I loved the main characters. You couldn’t help but love Lucy and Barnabus. And the romance between them was intense yet sweet at the same time.

6 – After The Blood
Ah, this collection wouldn’t be complete without at least one vampire story with an apocalyptic bend to it, and tragedy and heartbreak. I loved Amanda and you can’t help but empathize with her and Henry, our tortured vampire.

7 – The Tangleroot Palace
One last story to round off the collection and leave you with smiles. I loved Salinda and Mickel and the plot-line was predictable but not without its charm.

For a collection of short stories, the 7 stories did not feel like short stories. They left a hell of an impact on me and with a wish for more. The author’s writing was a pleasure to read and I am definitely getting The Tangleroot Palace in hardback for my collection.

A big thanks to NetGalley & Titan Books for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Stay tuned.

∼Lyn

Synopsis:
New York Times bestseller and Hugo, British Fantasy, Romantic Times, and Eisner award-winning author of the graphic novel, Monstress, Marjorie Liu leads you deep into the heart of the tangled woods. In her long-awaited debut story collection, dark, lush, and spellbinding short fiction you will find unexpected detours, dangerous magic, and even more dangerous women.
Briar, bodyguard for a body-stealing sorceress, discovers her love for Rose, whose true soul emerges only once a week. An apprentice witch seeks her freedom through betrayal, the bones of the innocent, and a meticulously-plotted spell. In a world powered by crystal skulls, a warrior returns to save China from invasion by her jealous ex. A princess runs away from an arranged marriage, finding family in a strange troupe of traveling actors at the border of the kingdom’s deep, dark woods.
Concluding with a gorgeous full-length novella, Marjorie Liu’s first short fiction collection is an unflinching sojourn into her thorny tales of love, revenge, and new beginnings.
Posted in Book Blog, Book Reviews

Book Review: Vespertine – Margaret Rogerson

Rating: 3/5 🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Paranormal, Magic, Ghosts

Review:

I’ve been a big fan of Margaret Rogerson since I read A Sorcery of Thorns and An Enchantment of Ravens. So I was super excited for Vespertine. I buddy-read it with my bestie and the first three-quarters of the book were pretty terrific.

I have to admit I didn’t connect with Artemisia at first – she seemed insignificant, almost like a minor character. But I found myself invested in her and ended up loving her. The thing is. the author did a fantastic job of eking out little bits of her that kept you wanting to know more. I also loved the way the author disclosed vital revelations at significant times that made a huge impact on the main characters and the story as a whole.

The revenant was fascinating and I loved the snarky interactions between it and Artemisia. I definitely want to know more about it. Another character I loved a lot – the white raven – he was such a funny little tyke. The plot-line was pretty great with surprising friendships though the character that I think is supposed to be the main love interest was kind of disappointing.

The ending unfortunately tanked for me. It felt unfinished. I get that Vespertine is the first in a new series but the ending didn’t have the impact of a cliffhanger which would have been epic. I hope the second book won’t disappoint.

Stay tuned.

∼Lyn

Synopsis:
The dead of Loraille do not rest.
Artemisia is training to be a Gray Sister, a nun who cleanses the bodies of the deceased so that their souls can pass on; otherwise, they will rise as spirits with a ravenous hunger for the living. She would rather deal with the dead than the living, who trade whispers about her scarred hands and troubled past.
When her convent is attacked by possessed soldiers, Artemisia defends it by awakening an ancient spirit bound to a saint’s relic. It is a revenant, a malevolent being that threatens to possess her the moment she drops her guard. Wielding its extraordinary power almost consumes her—but death has come to Loraille, and only a vespertine, a priestess trained to wield a high relic, has any chance of stopping it. With all knowledge of vespertines lost to time, Artemisia turns to the last remaining expert for help: the revenant itself.
As she unravels a sinister mystery of saints, secrets, and dark magic, her bond with the revenant grows. And when a hidden evil begins to surface, she discovers that facing this enemy might require her to betray everything she has been taught to believe—if the revenant doesn’t betray her first.

 

Posted in Book Blog, Book Reviews

Book Review: 10 Blind Dates (Messina Family #1) – Ashley Elston

Rating: 5/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Review:

10 Blind Dates is one of the books from my backlist that I finally got around to reading. Doesn’t the title itself intrigue you?

Blind dates are already anxiety-ridden experiences, and family being how they are – some relatives good, some bad, and some just plain mental, but in a cool way – now imagine being set up by those family members. These blind dates definitely promise to be interesting, if not unforgettable.

I started 10 Blind Dates without any idea what I was in for and don’t worry, not in a bad way. I think I read the first few pages without much enthusiasm but the second I met Sophie’s Nonna and the cousins and the rest of the extended family, I was hooked. Those first few pages made me think Sophie was a studious, average 16yo. But there was so much more to her and as I read on, I came to know her better and I gotta say the now-ex boyfriend, Griffin was an idiot to want a break from her.

I loved Sophie’s Nonna and the cousins! Charlie and Olivia and the rest of the family were such a hoot. They made me laugh so much with all their antics that it was hard to put down the book. Sophie got through some epiphanies and we all know how epiphanies can hurt like hell.

The author’s writing style was a pleasure to read and if you know me, you know I don’t say that about a lot of authors. What I loved most about this book was the sense of family and friendship. The tight-knit connection you can make with the good apples in your family. And that last date? It was the best ever.

That ending scene with Nonna was both touching and fantastic. One thing I can say about Nonna is she does things with panache. I can’t help but hope that when I’m her age I have even an ounce of her style.

This book left me in smiles long after I finished it. Actually, I read the ebook and ended up buying the hardback edition because I know I’m definitely reading this one again.

Readers, I do hope you give this one a try. Stay tuned.

∼Lyn 

Synopsis:
Sophie wants one thing for Christmas-a little freedom from her overprotective parents. So when they decide to spend Christmas in South Louisiana with her very pregnant older sister, Sophie is looking forward to some much needed private (read: make-out) time with her long-term boyfriend, Griffin. Except it turns out that Griffin wants a little freedom from their relationship. Cue devastation.
Heartbroken, Sophie flees to her grandparents’ house, where the rest of her boisterous extended family is gathered for the holiday. That’s when her nonna devises a (not so) brilliant plan: Over the next ten days, Sophie will be set up on ten different blind dates by different family members. Like her sweet cousin Sara, who sets her up with a hot guy at an exclusive underground party. Or her crazy aunt Patrice, who signs Sophie up for a lead role in a living nativity. With a boy who barely reaches her shoulder. And a screaming baby.
When Griffin turns up unexpectedly and begs for a second chance, Sophie feels more confused than ever. Because maybe, just maybe, she’s started to have feelings for someone else . . . Someone who is definitely not available.
This is going to be the worst Christmas break ever… or is it?
Posted in Book Blog, Book Reviews

Book Review: Abandoned in Death (In Death #54) – J.D. Robb

Rating: 3/5 🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Review:

The best thing about February is always a new In Death book. This time we’ve got number 54 in the series – Abandoned In Death. Eve’s latest case is a race against time to find the killer while a hostage’s life hangs in the balance.

This latest case wasn’t as gripping as I’d expected. The storyline dragged a bit and was kind of repetitive. I missed having that feeling of depth to a great story.

J.D. Robb did this story a tad different, writing it in two time periods, the past and the present, merging together at the end. This difference added value to the whole story, including that incredible twist about who the killer was. I did not see that one coming.

Though I love the In Death series, the newer books after the first 46 books haven’t had the same greatness as the earlier ones. Some have been more misses than hits. Others like Faithless In Death were pretty amazing additions to the series.

That said, I still enjoyed getting my much-needed dose of Eve and Roarke along with all my favorite secondary characters. And who can regret some Bella and Mavis time, right?

Stay tuned.

∼Lyn

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

Synopsis:
Homicide detective Eve Dallas must untangle a twisted family history while a hostage’s life hangs in the balance—in the new In Death novel by #1 New York Times bestselling J. D. Robb.
The woman’s body was found on a bench in a New York City playground. She was clean, her hair neatly arranged, her makeup carefully applied. But other things were very wrong—like the tattoo and piercings, clearly new. The clothes, decades out of date. The fatal wound hidden beneath a ribbon around her neck. And the note: Bad Mommy, written in crayon as if by a child.
It seems clear the killer’s childhood was traumatic—a situation Eve is all too familiar with herself. Yet the clues point to a perpetrator who’d be around sixty, and there are no records of old crimes with a similar MO. What was the trigger that apparently reopened such an old wound and sent someone over the edge? When Eve learns that other young women have recently vanished, the case grows even more urgent—and to solve it she’ll need to find her way into a hidden place of dim light and concrete, into the distant past, and into the depths of a shattered mind.

 

Posted in Book Blog, Book Reviews

Book Review: Fated Blades (Kinsmen #3) – Ilona Andrews

Rating: 5/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Sci-fi

Review:

Another delightful Kinsmen novella from Ilona Andrews! First of all, let’s have a big round of applause for that beautiful cover, shall we? It’s gorgeous and fits the characters to a T.

Ramona and Matias are the heads of their respective warring families and both are stuck in a marriage of convenience with people they don’t love. When they are both betrayed, they have no choice but to work together to protect their families from humiliation and the huge blow to their reputation.

Ramona was an amazing woman, strong yet not cold. There was a warmth to her that made her so much more than just a ruthless leader. I loved her integrity and her sense of fairness.

Ah, Matias! Of course, we needed a sexy counterpart who would value Ramona and see how priceless she was. Their interactions left me in smiles.

The plot-line was excellent as we’ve come to expect from Ilona Andrews’ stories and that world-building left me with vivid visuals. This might be a novella but it had all the depth of a full novel. Fated Blades was excellent and that ending scene wasn’t just fantastic, it was perfect.

Stay tuned.

∼Lyn

Synopsis:
An uneasy alliance between warring families gets heated in this otherworldly novella from bestselling author Ilona Andrews.
At first glance, the planet Rada seems like a lush paradise. But the ruling families, all boasting genetically enhanced abilities, are in constant competition for power―and none more so than the Adlers and the Baenas. For generations, the powerful families have pushed and pulled each other in a dance for dominance.
Until a catastrophic betrayal from within changes everything.
Now, deadly, disciplined, and solitary leaders Ramona Adler and Matias Baena must put aside their enmity and work together in secret to prevent sinister forces from exploiting universe-altering technology. Expecting to suffer through their uneasy alliance, Ramona and Matias instead discover that they understand each other as no one in their families can―and that their combined skills may eclipse the risks of their forbidden alliance.
As the two warriors risk their lives to save their families, they must decide whether to resist or embrace the passion simmering between them. For now, the dance between their families continues―but just one misstep could spell the end of them both.

 

Posted in Book Blog, Book Reviews

Book Review: The Becoming (The Dragon Heart Legacy #2) – Nora Roberts

Rating: 4/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Fantasy

Review:

I’m a big fan of Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb but I almost didn’t read this book. The first book in the trilogy, The Awakening, was such a big disappointment and I hated how the people in Talamh, except for Breen’s grandmother, the friends who supposedly cared about Breen treated her, how they pressured her when they should have supported her. The Awakening had so much potential but the lack of connection and blame-the-victim trend in it made me hate it. So I wasn’t too keen about trying The Becoming. But Nora Roberts’ stories were a lifesaver to me during times when I wasn’t okay so I decided to read it. I’m glad I did.

The first book definitely sucked but the second book, The Becoming made up for it. I still had issues with the love interest, Keegan, but I loved Marco. He’s the epitome of everything a best friend should be and I was happy at how his life progressed in this book. He was amazing.

I enjoyed the other supernatural beings in the book which added value to the story. I also feel like the people who treated Breen badly in the first book redeemed themselves a bit though it still pisses me off when I think of it. The plot-line was a bit predictive, I suspected what was going to happen next so the events weren’t as surprising as they could have been. But the ending provided me with some of that deep connection – what I call Nora Roberts’ signature trait – that was missing in the first book and The Becoming ended up being a good book.

∼Lyn

Synopsis: The world of magick and the world of man have long been estranged from one another. But some can walk between the two–including Breen Siobhan Kelly. She has just returned to Talamh, with her friend, Marco, who’s dazzled and disoriented by this realm–a place filled with dragons and faeries and mermaids (but no WiFi, to his chagrin). In Talamh, Breen is not the ordinary young schoolteacher he knew her as. Here she is learning to embrace the powers of her true identity. Marco is welcomed kindly by her people–and by Keegan, leader of the Fey. Keegan has trained Breen as a warrior, and his yearning for her has grown along with his admiration of her strength and skills. But one member of Breen’s bloodline is not there to embrace her. Her grandfather, the outcast god Odran, plots to destroy Talamh–and now all must unite to defeat his dark forces. There will be losses and sorrows, betrayal and bloodshed. But through it, Breen Siobhan Kelly will take the next step on the journey to becoming all that she was born to be.

 

Posted in Book Blog, Book Reviews

Book Review: Dark Tarot (Dark #31) – Christine Feehan

Rating: 4/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Review:

Ever since Christine Feehan introduced the Ancients back in Dark Promises, I’ve been anticipating their stories with bated breath. Though some of the newer stories had more of an erotic tendency, she never failed with her fantastic storylines. You’d think that after 34 books in the Dark series with one of the major plot-lines concluded in book 20, Dark Slayer, she’d run out of new plots. But not so. Once again she amazes me with the start of a new storyline that brings new villains to be fought in the Carpathian world. 

Dark Tarot is the ancient, Sandu and his lifemate, Adalasia’s story. As an ancient Sandu has lost all hope of ever finding his lifemate until a voice reaches out to him and floods his senses with colors and emotions. Of course, life is never so easy as to just hand you your happiness on a platter. No, blood and sweat are always involved. Complication upon complication awaited. And an underlying mystery that led back to Sandu and his connection to his lifemate. 

I liked Adalasia so much. She was quite fierce and protective of her family’s legacy. Ah, the marvelous tarot cards! I’ve always been fascinated by tarot cards but Christine Feehan wove a whole new deck with fantastic descriptions that made them so real to me. I was amazed by Adalasia’s mastery of her magical tarot deck.

The best things about this book were the fun interactions between Adalasia and the other ancients, Sandu’s ‘brothers’, seeing all my favorite characters again, and all the potential of a new storyline that brought forth new lifemates for the ancients and the unmated Carpathians that we’re still hoping find their happy-ever-after and of course, evil antagonists that need to be slain. I can’t wait for the new stories!

∼Lyn

Synopsis: Sandu Berdardi continues to exist only to protect his people. An ancient Carpathian, his entire long life has been dedicated to honor above all else. He knows his time has passed, especially since he has not been able to find his lifemate — the anchor to keep him sane in a world he no longer understands. But just as he truly starts to give up hope, a voice reaches out to him in the night and his world explodes into color. Adalasia enters Sandu’s mind seamlessly, as if she has been a part of him forever. While she can see the shape of things to come in her deck of cards, her gift is both a blessing and a curse. The true course of Sandu’s quest remains unclear, with danger waiting at every turn. She cannot see everything the future holds, but she does know it is a journey they will take together.

 

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.