Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Blog Tour Double Review: Collateral & Damage by Natasha Knight


Happy Tuesday! Today is the publication date of Damage by Natasha Knight, the second and final novel in the Collateral Damage duology. I'm sharing my review of both Collateral and Damage. I hope you enjoy!


Review of Damage:


Damage by Natasha Knight
Book Two of the Collateral Damage series
Publication Date: October 15, 2019
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC sent by the publicist

Official Summary:

We’re a match made in hell, Stefan and I.

He took me to exact his revenge. I went from being a pawn to my father to being a pawn to Stefan. The only difference is I have a ring the size of a boulder on my finger and a husband I don’t want.

And the hardest part is I thought he was different. I thought I was falling in love.

I guess my father was right. I’m not a very smart girl.

Stefan is a powerful man. He doesn’t play nice, not if you’re his enemy. But I’ve learned one thing about my husband.

He takes care of what’s his.

And I am his.

His enemies have become my enemies, but he’ll never let anyone hurt me. He’s fiercely protective. It’s the predator inside that scares me.

What I Liked:

I'll keep this review somewhat short, since this is a conclusion novel and I want to avoid spoilers. We met Stefan and Gabriela in Collateral, and what a dynamic, passionate, intense couple they are. Their love story is incredibly dark, and not your typical romance. There is push and pull, give and take. Their relationship is incredibly difficult, heartbreaking, and angst-ridden.

This book picks up pretty much where Collateral left off. Things are in motion from the start, and the action doesn't slow down until the very last page. I really don't want to spoil anything for anyone, so I won't say any specifics. But I will say that Stefan and Gabriela clash and collide very soon after this book starts, in a sweet and powerful way.

The romance in general is not sweet. It's not a cute, slow-burn romance. It's a slow-burn romance that is filled with pain, passion, and tug-of-way. I didn't always like Stefan's actions; I didn't always like Gabriela's compromises. But I did like how they slowly found their way into their relationship, together.

There is no love triangle in this book! One thing that I truly liked was how the two main characters were together, whether they liked it or not, from the start, and never strayed from their engagement (or marriage).

This book ends with a bang - but also a HEA! And that is all I will say. I enjoyed this novel, and I definitely enjoyed the ending. 

What I Did Not Like:

I will say that I did not always like Stefan's actions. I understand his mind, and his regret, but I didn't like how he conducted himself at times. 

I also wanted a little more development of their relationship at the very end. The author seemed to want to put a neat bow on the ending, and tie everything up quickly. But Stefan and Gabriela's relationship issues couldn't just be fixed so quickly, with one or two hurdles out of the way. I wanted to see a little more development. But on the other hand, I was really happy about the HEA!

Would I Recommend It:

If you like dark romances, then this is a good one. It is not sweet - it is intense and dark and not super romantic. But I liked the painful, tortured level of the romance. It's definitely not for everyone though. I am so glad that an author friend recommended Collateral to me - I loved this series!

Rating: 

4 stars. I am pretty pleased with this duology and so glad I gave it a chance. I'll definitely be on the lookout for new books by this author!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!



Review of Collateral:

Collateral

Collateral by Natasha Knight
Book One of the Collateral Damage series
Publication Date: September 23, 2019
Source: Purchased ebook copy

Summary (from Goodreads):

Gabriela

Stefan Sabbioni showed up uninvited in my bedroom on my sixteenth birthday. He stood in the shadows smelling of whiskey and death and wrapped a broken, blood-crusted necklace around my neck. I thought he'd strangle me with it.

That night, he left a message for my father. He said he'd be back to take something precious.

I never delivered that message, though. I wonder if things would be different if I had because now, two years later, he's back. And he's not hiding in any shadows.

He's come to make good on his promise.

He's back to take that something precious.

Me.

Stefan

Marchese is the manipulator of my family's tragedy. I won't just bring him to his knees. I'll bury him for what he did.

Taking his daughter is only the beginning. I'll do it knowing I'm starting a war. I'll do it knowing my enemies will become his allies. They'll stop at nothing to destroy me and he'll stop at nothing to get her back.

I've never shied away from war, though. I'm not one to play nice and I don't share my toys. I'll demolish you if you touch what's mine.

And she is most definitely mine.

What I Liked:

I started reading this book on a complete whim. A friend on social media shared one of the author's promotional posts, on the publication day, and it piqued my interest. This friend has had excellent recommendations so I decided to check out the book. I picked it up... and two hours later I found myself at the end. When was the last time that happened? I cannot remember the last time I read a book in one sitting. I was hooked from page one. Realistically, I was hooked from the premise!

This is a dark mafia romance story, featuring Stefan, the heir of the Sabbioni mafia family, and Gabriela, the heir of the Marchese mafia family. Stefan is out for blood, after his brother Antonio is brutally murdered. He has good reason to believe that the Marchese family was behind the murder. Two years after the murder, he comes after the Marchese family by blackmailing Gabriela's father into signing her into a marriage contract with him (Stefan). Gabriela knows nothing of Antonio's murder, or her father's mafia dealings. She was a pawn of her father and she is now a pawn of Stefan. But Stefan is more than the cold man that he appears, and her father isn't all that he appears.

I love mafia romances. One of my favorite romance novels is The Marriage Contract by Katee Robert. All of the books in that series are fantastic, but that one in particular is my favorite. So when I saw this book, also featuring an arranged marriage, and hate-to-love romance (and slow-burn, at that), I figured I would love this. And I did!

Gabriela seems like a spoiled brat at first, but she isn't. She is a pawn, always used by someone. She has lived her life surrounded by bloodshed and violence - it's no wonder she hates Stefan Sabbioni on the spot. From one dangerous man to another - she knows she is powerless in any situation. But she's the type that won't go down without a fight. She fought her father constantly and was punished every time. When Stefan takes her away, she doesn't allow him to bully her. (Or she tries!) Her situation is so heartbreaking all around, but she is so tough and resilient.

Stefan appears a cold, heartless man. He forces Gabriela to become engaged to him, and to marry him within a month. He has rules for her and he expects her to follow them without question. He's a hard, clever, alpha male, which should have made me dislike (and I did at first). But the author digs deep into his character and slowly shows layers of him. I warmed up to him after a little. He didn't have any patience with Gabriela at first, and I hated him for that, but I started to understand him and see him differently as the book went on - especially when he himself started to soften and change.

For a romance novel, this book was actually sparse on the romance, in a way. There's very little physical romance in this book, and the softer feelings aren't totally developed. But the tension was so well-written. The tension and chemistry between Stefan and Gabriela is thick enough to slice with a knife. They have volatile, passionate chemistry, and I have no doubt that there will be some heavy, complex, intense scenes in the next book. I actually really like how this is set up. The author split the story into two books, and did not rush the romance OR the chemistry. The chemistry is built up slowly but very surely, and the romance (the emotional side) starts in this book but there are no declarations of love (heck, I don't think these two characters love each other - yet).

Stefan and Gabriela do not have an easy journey, and their relationship is nothing but difficult. They don't trust each other, they have their own baggage, and they don't get along. But you can see things changing as the book goes on. I really like the how the author paced this story. I am so vexed that I have to wait for another book BUT it appears to be very much worth it. Please don't disappoint, Damage!

The ending is a cliffhanger, beware! Book two (the final book) publishes in two weeks, so the wait isn't too bad, but the cliffhanger is a lot to handle! Just keep that in mind.

I really liked this book. I am hoping that Damage will be even better, especially with so much unresolved between Stefan and Gabriela (gah! I need more kissing!), and so much about her father that needs to be uncovered... I'm ready!

What I Did Not Like:

There is a scene, in the beginning of the book, that I did not like. It bothered me when I initially read it, and know that I've finished the book, it's still bothering me. Now that I've finished the book, I can look at the entire story, and that scene almost seems out of place in the story. I can't say what the scene is, but it was something involving Stefan and Gabriela, early on. Stefan had no patience with her at first,and I'm not excusing his initial behavior. This is a dark romance novel, and neither of them saw each other as human beings at first, but this scene stuck out to me. That's my own notable negative about this book. It probably wouldn't even bother most people!

That, and Clara. An unnecessary relative. Very unnecessary.

Would I Recommend It:

If you like dark romances, or mafia romances, then this is a great book for you! Note that the romance isn't fully fleshed out in this book, so there aren't many physical romance scenes, but I expect Damage will be different. Plus, the tension is fantastic, and the pacing is really well-written. It's a slow-burn romance story, and very worth it!

Rating: 

4.5 stars -> rounded down to 4 stars. I read this book in one sitting and was a tiny bit disappointed when I realized I couldn't one-click book two and start reading! But two weeks is not too long to wait. I'm excited!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!


About the Author:

USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance, Natasha Knight specializes in dark, tortured heroes. Happily-Ever-Afters are guaranteed, but she likes to put her characters through hell to get them there. She’s evil like that. 


Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Cover Reveal: Damage by Natasha Knight


Hello and happy Tuesday! I'm so excited to help reveal the cover of Damage, the second and final book of the Collateral Damage series. I just read Collateral last week and I LOVED it. Book two (Damage) is publishing in two weeks - get ready! If you liked Katee Robert's The Marriage Contract, you won't want to miss this series!


Here's the cover of Damage!


Damage by Natasha Knight
Book Two of the Collateral Damage duology
Publication Date: October 15, 2019

Official Summary:

We’re a match made in hell, Stefan and I.

He took me to exact his revenge. I went from being a pawn to my father to being a pawn to Stefan. The only difference is I have a ring the size of a boulder on my finger and a husband I don’t want.

And the hardest part is I thought he was different. I thought I was falling in love.

I guess my father was right. I’m not a very smart girl.

Stefan is a powerful man. He doesn’t play nice, not if you’re his enemy. But I’ve learned one thing about my husband.

He takes care of what’s his.

And I am his.

His enemies have become my enemies, but he’ll never let anyone hurt me. He’s fiercely protective. It’s the predator inside that scares me.



About the Author:

USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance, Natasha Knight specializes in dark, tortured heroes. Happily-Ever-Afters are guaranteed, but she likes to put her characters through hell to get them there. She’s evil like that. 




You can read my review of Collateral on Goodreads. I'll be posting it on my blog in two weeks, with my review of Damage. Get excited!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Blog Tour and Giveaway: The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh

Welcome to the blog tour for The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh! I'm thrilled and honored to be a part of this wonderful promotion! Check out my interview with Renée below - and be sure to come back to my blog on October 4th for a huge giveaway!

Meet Renée!
(I have, in person, twice. She's amazing!)

Renée Ahdieh
(Image from Goodreads)

Alyssa: Arjun Desai" is an Indian name (represent!). Was there a specific inspiration for the name?

Renée: One of my closest friends from college is originally from Mumbai, and my husband and I have visited him four times since we graduated. His name is not Arjun, but so much of Arjun’s character is informed by these amazing experiences we got to share with his family in his world. I chose “Arjun” for this character’s names because it means “bright, shining,” and I think this word most aptly describes his personality. He is often a light in the darkness.

Alyssa: What was something about Arjun that you struggled to write or come up with?

Renée: Arjun was a character that came to mind almost fully formed, which is such a rare treat for me as a writer. I think it was because I channeled so many of my own experiences with our close friend, as well as understanding what Arjun wanted and needed early on in the story.

Alyssa: What is a quality or trait or Arjun that you also share?

Renée: This is a bit of a spoiler for later, as it’s not immediately apparent in The Beautiful, but Arjun loves to cook. He’s also a vegetarian, and his passion for the cuisine of his country will become much more obvious in subsequent books.

Alyssa: What is one message or truth that Arjun would want everyone to know?

Renée: Arjun is a character with a lot of anger in his family, and it taught him at an early age how destructive anger can be, especially with those to whom you are closest.

Alyssa: What would Arjun's favorite Bollywood movie be?

Renée: Arjun is both a softie and a lover of good comedy, so either "Devdas" or "Dostana"! But he also enjoys a good cricket match, so perhaps even "Lagaan"? There are too many to choose from!

Alyssa: Excellent choices. Thanks so much, Renée! I'll see you in D.C. in a few weeks!


About the Author:

Renée Ahdieh is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling The Wrath and the Dawn and The Rose and the Dagger. In her spare time, she likes to dance salsa and collect shoes. She is passionate about all kinds of curry, rescue dogs, and college basketball. The first few years of her life were spent in a high-rise in South Korea; consequently, Renée enjoys having her head in the clouds. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband and their tiny overlord of a dog.



About the Book:


The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh
Book One of The Beautiful series
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 8, 2019

Summary (from Goodreads):

New York Times bestselling author Renée Ahdieh returns with a sumptuous, sultry and romantic new series set in 19th century New Orleans where vampires hide in plain sight.

In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she's forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city's glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group's leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien's guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.

At once a sultry romance and a thrilling murder mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet: The Beautiful.



Are you excited about Renée's new book? How about vampires making a comeback? What is something you hope to see Renée write in the future?

Be sure to stop by on October 4th to enter a very cool giveaway related to The Beautiful! Right now, you can enter to win one of five ARCs of The Beautiful!

Monday, June 17, 2019

Blog Tour: Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Good morning and happy Monday, book fans! I'm dusting off my blog to share my love for Sorcery of Thorns, Margaret Rogerson's latest novel with Simon & Schuster. I adored this book and hope you all will too!


About the Book:


Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: June 4, 2019
Rating: 5 stars
Source: ARC provided by the publisher

Official Summary:

From the New York Times bestselling author of An Enchantment of Ravens comes an imaginative fantasy about an apprentice at a magical library who must battle a powerful sorcerer to save her kingdom.

All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.

What I Liked:

Sorcery of Thorns is one of those books that has just as beautiful a story as its cover. I remember seeing the cover reveal post and thinking, wow, I'm entranced already. I loved Rogerson's debut novel, a standalone called An Enchantment of Ravens, so I had high expectations for this new standalone. I'm so happy to say that I loved this book!

The story follows Elisabeth, an orphan raised in one of the many Great Libraries, surrounded by grimoires and librarians. She has always known that she wanted to be among books for the rest of her life. But a curious and deadly set of events leads to her being thrown out of the Library and running for her life. She finds herself working together with a sorcerer, Nathaniel Thorn, in order to expose a powerful sorcerer who is behind the sabotage, the destruction of grimoires, and impending end of the human world. 

One of the strongest aspects of this book is the writing style. I love Rogerson's writing. She has amazing prose and lovely descriptions, but she also sets the scene beautifully. She has a way of wrapping the story and the world-building around the reader, so you're immersed without consciously realizing it. I hadn't picked up a book in months, and wasn't quite in the mood for reading, but when I started reading this one, I didn't realize just how drawn in I was. I couldn't stop reading.

And of course, that's also attributed to the story itself. This book is about 500 pages but it doesn't feel like that, because the story is so intriguing. Once events start rolling, the action never stops. Get past the first two or three chapters and you'll be hooked (if you weren't already, from page one). 

Elisabeth is an easy character to love. She's quiet and inquisitive, but also fiery and decisive. She is an intelligent and has good instincts. Her foil is Nathaniel, who is charming and good-natured, with a sense of humor that hide great pain. I loved Nathaniel, for her charm, his selflessness, and his strength. And then there's Silas, a demon that has served Nathaniel and his family for years. Silas is a an interesting character; he is the family's demon, but he is Nathaniel's friend nonetheless. He is loyal and as kind as a demon could possibly be. I liked Silas and honestly could not see the story without him in it.

There's a little romance! No love triangle. Nathaniel and Elisabeth are an adorable pair that have a hard-earned, slow-burn romance. I am a fan!

This is a lovely fantasy standalone novel that I will definitely be reading again. It is one of the few books I've read this year, and it makes sense why it captured my attention. It's so well-written and a joy to read. There are high stakes but there are fun times, great characters, and a wonderful ending.

What I Did Not Like:

I can't think of anything specific that I didn't like. I really enjoyed this book!

Would I Recommend It:

If you love fantasy, and/or if you love standalone novels, this is one you should try. I am a huge fan of standalone novels because of the low commitment and less waiting (I'm terrible with series), so I will recommend standalones nine times out of ten. This is a really good one - and there's a HEA!

Rating: 

5 stars. I loved Sorcery of Thorns! I can't wait to see what Margaret Rogerson comes up with next. Hopefully another beautiful fantasy standalone with a gorgeous illustrated cover. I will freely admit that illustrated covers are an easy way to my heart!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!


About the Author:


Margaret Rogerson is the author of the New York Times bestseller An Enchantment of Ravens and Sorcery of Thorns. She has a bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology from Miami University. When not reading or writing she enjoys sketching, gaming, making pudding, and watching more documentaries than is socially acceptable (according to some). She lives near Cincinnati, Ohio, beside a garden full of hummingbirds and roses. Visit her at MargaretRogerson.com.



Mood Board:



Blog Tour Schedule:

Monday, May 27 – Alexa Loves Books
Tuesday, May 28 – The Novel Knight
Wednesday, May 29 – Adventures of a Book Junkie
Thursday, May 30 – Awkwordly Emma
Friday, May 31 – Mel to the Any
Monday, June 3 – The Fox’s Hideaway
Tuesday, June 4 – The Starry-Eyed Revue
Wednesday, June 5 – The Bookish Beagle
Thursday, June 6 – Super Space Chick
Friday, June 7 – Flying Paperbacks
Monday, June 10 – Bookshelves & Paperbacks
Tuesday, June 11 – Nightly Reading
Wednesday, June 12 – Novel Heartbeat
Thursday, June 13 – Hammock of Books
Friday, June 14 – The Everlasting Library
Monday, June 17 – The Eater of Books!
Tuesday, June 18 – Beware of the Reader
Wednesday, June 19 – This Dark Material
Thursday, June 20 – That Artsy Reader Girl
Friday, June 21 – SimplyAlly Tea

Monday, April 15, 2019

Mini Reviews: Contemporary Romance Edition

Happy Monday, book lovers! Today I'm posting REVIEWS! It has certainly been a while since I've reviewed anything. That being said, I'm writing three reviews in this post, so they're going to be shorter than my norm. The good thing is, I loved all of these books and could gush for days!


99 Percent Mine
99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: January 29, 2019
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss

Summary (from Goodreads):

Crush: a strong and often short-lived infatuation, particularly for someone beyond your reach…

Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend. Despite Darcy’s best efforts, Tom’s off limits and loyal to her brother, 99%. That’s the problem with finding her dream man at age eight and peaking in her photography career at age twenty—ever since, she’s had to learn to settle for good enough.

When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon as the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade.

Suddenly Darcy’s considering sticking around to make sure her twin doesn’t ruin the cottage’s inherent magic with his penchant for grey and chrome. She’s definitely not staying because of her new business partner’s tight t-shirts, or that perfect face that's inspiring her to pick up her camera again. Soon sparks are flying—and it’s not the faulty wiring. It turns out one percent of Tom’s heart might not be enough for Darcy anymore. This time around, she’s switching things up. She’s going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers.

My Review:

I really enjoyed this book! It was my first read by Sally Thorne - I still haven't read The Hating Game - and I liked it a lot. I thought I wouldn't like Darcy because I'd heard from other bloggers and reviewers that she was not easy to like. But I adored her! She's prickly and tough, sometimes blunt and rude, but very much "real" and very strong. She's probably classified as an unlikable heroine, though I could be wrong. But I liked her. She had hard edges and many imperfections, but she was very honest and straightforward, even when she was hiding vulnerabilities. I also wasn't sure if I'd like this best-friends-turned-lovers story, because there seemed to be a good deal of emotional baggage involved in this friendship, but I enjoyed the progression of the romance! Tom is very dreamy, and very much a good idea. He and Darcy are complete opposites, but they work well as a pair. The progression of the romance is fairly slow, but very sizzling. I read this one very quickly, on a 2+ hour flight to Florida. It was enjoyable, funny, sweet, angsty, and it had a great HEA. I highly recommend the book to readers of adult contemporary romance, and you best believe I will be reading The Hating Game! (It's unrelated to this book, and published several years ago.)


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!


Pan (Neverland, #1)
Pan by Gina L. Maxwell
Book One of the Neverland series
Publication: January 22, 2019
Rating: 5 stars
Source: eARC sent by the author

Summary (from Goodreads):


From NYT and USA Today bestselling author, Gina L. Maxwell, comes a brand new series with a fresh twist on an old classic.


Once upon a time, in Neverland, North Carolina--I fell in love.

I was twelve when Peter first climbed up to my balcony.
Thirteen when I sneaked out to see him at the School for Lost Boys.
Seventeen when his touch made me fly,
And eighteen when his words made me cry.

We were magnetic, drawn to each other from that very first night, and what I thought would be forever. But when it came time for me to leave, he wouldn't come with, so I left town with a map for my future and a shattered heart.

Ten years later, I've returned to Neverland, hoping to find a man in place of the boy.

Peter was partially right, growing up is no fun. After quitting my fancy career that sucked the magic out of life, I'm now organizing the fundraiser of the year. In a move that could make or break the event and my new company, I've hired Peter, master mechanic and owner of LB Automotive, to help me pull this off--trusting him to rebuild a classic car for the auction that could help hundreds of foster kids in need.

I thought I was prepared, but the boy who refused to leave is now a man hell-bent on getting me to stay, and as sparks fly between us, that undeniable fire flares back to life, deeper and hotter than ever.

But that ripped body doesn't mean Peter's matured enough to make us or this event work, and not everyone in Neverland is happy about my return.

Not every wound heals.
Not every heart can be fixed.
Not every boy grows up.

And after all this time, the love we found might be lost to us again...this time, forever.

My Review:

I've never read or watched Peter Pan, but I know of the story vaguely, so I was pretty excited to hear about this modern-day contemporary romance retelling of the story. I've read books by Gina L. Maxwell and I've enjoyed them - always steamy, heartwarming, and fun. Did I mention steamy? This book was NO different. Peter and Wendy were scorching together! Usually I'm not big on second-chance romances, but I liked this one a lot. They had some really great chemistry and no heavy baggage between them. This was a fun and sweet second-chance romance to follow. Peter is a hard, tough guy with a soft heart, and Wendy is a soft, sweet girl with a strong heart. They are such a cute pair - you all know how much of a sucker I am for the "bad-boy-and-innocent-girl" trope. (Yes, I know, I am so outdated with that trope.) I don't know the specifics of Peter Pan but the parallels are very clear, from the supporting cast (Tink! Captain Hook! Lost Boys!) to parts of the plot. This book was so much fun to read, and very steamy. It's a M/F romance. I highly recommend it! This was my read on a 2+ hour flight and the pages zipped by!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!



Team Player by Julianna Keyes
Book One of the Charleston Thrashers series
Publication: March 28, 2019
Rating: 5 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

Summary (from Goodreads):
Don’t hate the player…


BOTTOM NINE
Gwen Scott wants to love her job with the Charleston Thrashers, the MLB team she’s worshiped since she was a kid, but she can’t. Hateful colleagues and mind-numbing work make her days unbearable—until her head for baseball gets her exclusive access to the Thrashers’ clubhouse and she comes face-to-face with Tyler Ashe, the team’s sexy shortstop and baseball’s most ineligible bachelor.

BASES LOADED
Ty has sworn off relationships in order to focus on his all-star career, but with his best friend gone, his team struggling, and the press blaming him for every loss, the most recognizable man in the majors is in a slump. Until he starts spending his time off the field with a stern blonde who recites baseball stats for kicks and sees through his arrogant façade.

TWO OUT
As the Thrashers’ season gets into full swing and Gwen adjusts to her new job, their fun banter and friendly teasing turns into stolen kisses and countless steamy nights. The team’s strict policy against player-staff relationships throws a curve ball into the mix, but they can’t hide from their feelings any more than the most famous man in baseball can hide from the spotlight…

My Review:

This was the first book I read in about two months. 2019 has been off to a rough start for me for personal reasons, so I haven't been feeling like reading. I had no idea that Julianna Keyes had written and was publishing a new book, so when I saw promo for this book, I felt lost! I am a HUGE fan of Keyes' books since Time Served, and I've loved her books since that one. Team Player came out at a good time for me honest - I was in such a reading slump, and this book pulled me right out. I LOVED the book. I'm not a huge baseball fan, but this is the type of book that would make you want to be a fan. Tyler Ashe is all kiiiiiinds of swoony, but adorable too. He's hot but also occasionally a little nervous around Gwen which is adorable. Gwen is a hard-worker and very smart especially when it comes to the Thrashers, and she knows better than to dally with one of the players. But she and Ty have this instant connection that Keyes writes so well. Ty and Gwen's chemistry just clicks, and it gets better and better as the story progresses. I love how their relationship grew, how the tension built, and I especially love the forbidden romance aspect.This book is fun, sweet, scorching, and it has a lovely HEA. Regardless of if you're a baseball fan, or even a sports romance fan, you should pick up Team Player! I can't wait for the next book in this series. Trust me, you'll fall in love with the entire team by the end of the book, and you'll be wanting more too!


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Friday, March 29, 2019

Blog Tour: Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan


Happy Friday! Today I'm participating in the blog tour for Wicked Saints, debut novel by Emily A. Duncan. You'll find an excerpt at the bottom of this post!


About the Book:


Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan
Book One of the Something Dark and Holy series
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: April 2, 2019

Summary (from Goodreads):

A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings. 

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy.



About the Author:


EMILY A. DUNCAN works as a youth services librarian. She received a Master’s degree in library science from Kent State University, which mostly taught her how to find obscure Slavic folklore texts through interlibrary loan systems. When not reading or writing, she enjoys playing copious amounts of video games and dungeons and dragons. Wicked Saints is her first book. She lives in Ohio.



The Excerpt:

N A D E Z H D A
L A P T E V A 

Horz stole the stars and the heavens out from underneath Myesta’s control, and for that she has never forgiven him. For where can the moons rest if not the heavens?

—Codex of the Divine, 5:26

“It’s certainly not my fault you chose a child who sleeps so deeply. If she dies it will very much be your fault, not mine.”

Startled by bickering gods was not Nadya’s preferred method of being woken up. She rolled to her feet in the dark, moving automatically. It took her eyes a few seconds to catch up with the rest of her body.

Shut up!

It wasn’t wise to tell the gods to shut up, but it was too late now. A feeling of amused disdain flowed through her, but neither of the gods spoke again. She realized it was Horz, the god of the heavens and the stars, who had woken her. He had a tendency to be obnoxious but generally left Nadya alone, as a rule.

Usually only a single god communed with their chosen cleric. There once had been a cleric named Kseniya Mirokhina who was gifted with unnatural marksmanship by Devonya, the goddess of the hunt. And Veceslav had chosen a cleric of his own, long ago, but their name was lost to history, and he re- fused to talk about them. The recorded histories never spoke of clerics who could hear more than one god. That Nadya communed with the entire pantheon was a rarity the priests who trained her could not explain.

There was a chance older, more primordial gods existed, ones that had long since given up watch of the world and left it in the care of the others. But no one knew for sure. Of the twenty known gods, however, carvings and paintings depicted their human forms, though no one knew what they actually looked like. No cleric throughout history had ever looked upon the faces of the gods. No saint, nor priest.

Each had their own power and magic they could bestow upon Nadya, and while some were forthcoming, others were not. She had never spoken to the goddess of the moons, Myesta. She wasn’t even sure what manner of power the goddess would give, if she so chose.

And though she could commune with many gods, it was impossible to forget just who had chosen her for this fate: Marzenya, the goddess of death and magic, who expected complete dedication.

Indistinct voices murmured in the dark. She and Anna had found a secluded place within a copse of thick pine trees to set up their tent, but it no longer felt safe. Nadya slid a voryen from underneath her bedroll and nudged Anna awake.

She moved to the mouth of the tent, grasping at her beads, a prayer already forming on her lips, smoky symbols trailing from her mouth. She could see the blurry impressions of figures in the darkness, far off in the distance. It was hard to judge the number, two? Five? Ten? Her heart sped at the possibility that a company of Tranavians were already on her trail.

Anna drew up beside her. Nadya’s grip on her voryen tightened, but she kept still. If they hadn’t seen their tent yet, she could keep them from noticing it entirely.

But Anna’s hand clasped her forearm.

“Wait,” she whispered, her breath frosting out before her in the cold. She pointed to a dark spot just off to the side of the group.

Nadya pressed her thumb against Bozidarka’s bead and her eyesight sharpened until she could see as clearly as if it were day. It took effort to shove aside the immediate, paralyzing fear as her suspicions were confirmed and Tranavian uniforms be- came clear. It wasn’t a full company. In fact, they looked rather ragged. Perhaps they had split off and lost their way.

More interesting, though, was the boy with a crossbow silently aiming into the heart of the group.

“We can get away before they notice,” Anna said.

Nadya almost agreed, almost slipped her voryen back into its sheath, but just then, the boy fired and the trees erupted into chaos. Nadya wasn’t willing to use an innocent’s life as a distraction for her own cowardice. Not again.

Even as Anna protested, Nadya let a prayer form fully in her mind, hand clutching at Horz’s bead on her necklace and its constellation of stars. Symbols fell from her lips like glowing glimmers of smoke and every star in the sky winked out.
Well, that was more extreme than I intended, Nadya thought with a wince. I should’ve known better than to ask Horz for anything.
 
She could hear cursing as the world plunged into darkness. Anna sighed in exasperation beside her.

“Just stay back,” she hissed as she moved confidently through the dark.

“Nadya . . .” Anna’s groan was soft.

It took more focus to send a third prayer to Bozetjeh. It was hard to catch Bozetjeh on a good day; the god of speed was notoriously slow to answer prayers. But she managed to snag his attention and received a spell allowing her to move as fast as the vicious Kalyazin wind.

Her initial count had been wrong; there were six Tranavians now scattering into the forest. The boy dropped his crossbow with a bewildered look up into the sky, startling when Nadya touched his shoulder.

There was no way he could see in this darkness, but she could. When he whirled, a curved sword in his hand, Nadya sidestepped. His swing went wide and she shoved him in the direction of a fleeing Tranavian, anticipating their collision.

“Find the rest,” Marzenya hissed. “Kill them all.” 

Complete and total dedication.

She caught up to one of the figures, stabbing her voryen into his skull just underneath his ear.

Not so difficult this time, she thought. But the knowledge was a distant thing.

Blood sprayed, splattering a second Tranavian, who cried out in alarm. Before the second man could figure out what had happened to his companion, she lashed out her heel, catching him squarely on the jaw and knocking him off his feet. She slit his throat.

Three more. They couldn’t have moved far. Nadya took up Bozidarka’s bead again. The goddess of vision revealed where the last Tranavians were located. The boy with the sword had managed to kill two in the dark. Nadya couldn’t actually see the last one, just felt him nearby, very much alive.

Something slammed into Nadya’s back and suddenly the chilling bite of a blade was pressed against her throat. The boy appeared in front of her, his crossbow back in his hands, thank- fully not pointed at Nadya. It was clear he could only barely see her. He wasn’t Kalyazi, but Akolan.

A fair number of Akolans had taken advantage of the war between their neighbors, hiring out their swords for profit on both sides. They were known for favoring Tranavia simply because of the warmer climate. It was rare to find a creature of the desert willingly stumbling through Kalyazin’s snow.

He spoke a fluid string of words she didn’t understand. His posture was languid, as if he hadn’t nearly been torn to pieces by blood mages. The blade against Nadya’s throat pressed harder. A colder voice responded to him, the foreign language scratched uncomfortably at her ears.

Nadya only knew the three primary languages of Kalyazin and passing Tranavian. If she wasn’t going to be able to communicate with them . . .

The boy said something else and Nadya heard the girl sigh before she felt the blade slip away. “What’s a little Kalyazi assassin doing out in the middle of the mountains?” he asked, switching to perfect Kalyazi.

Nadya was very aware of the boy’s friend at her back. “I could ask the same of you.”

She shifted Bozidarka’s spell, sharpening her vision further. The boy had skin like molten bronze and long hair with gold chains threaded through his loose curls.

He grinned.


What do you think? Be sure to check out this book on April 2nd!