AUDIOBOOK: You – Caroline Kepnes

This book is suitable for 18+ due to mature content.

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AUDIOBOOK: You – Caroline Kepnes

“[A] beautifully crafted thriller that will give you chills.” (People magazine)

From debut author Caroline Kepnes comes You, one of Suspense Magazine’s Best Books of 2014, and a brilliant and terrifying novel for the social media age.

When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

A terrifying exploration of how vulnerable we all are to stalking and manipulation, debut author Caroline Kepnes delivers a razor-sharp novel for our hyper-connected digital age. You is a compulsively readable page-turner that’s being compared to Gone Girl, American Psycho, and Stephen King’s Misery.

You by Caroline Kepnes
Series: You #1
four-half-stars
Genres: Thriller
Format: Audiobook
Length: 11 hours and 8 minutes
Narrator: Santino Fontana

When I first read about You, it was when the trailer for the TV show on Lifetime first premiered. Now, I just so happen to be a pretty big fan of Penn Badgley, so I was immediately excited to see he was acting again and knew I wanted to watch it, regardless of the premise. Then I watched the trailer, and whoo, boy, I knew I needed to watch this show. Then to discover it was based on a book? Sign me up, dude.

This book is so far beyond what I normally read, it’s not even funny. In fact, I never really used to read thrillers until I started proofreading for a woman who writes suspense/thriller romance novels (shout out to Jane Blythe!) and I realized I actually quite like the thriller genre.

Now, with that said, You is not a romance. It has romantic elements and sexual themes, but it is not a romance novel. There’s nothing romantic about a psycho stalking you and willing to kill for you because he’s “in love with you.” The only book that comes close to these themes while retaining the romantic relationship is Notice by K. Webster, but it’s no less dark and definitely not for the faint of heart. (K. has also stated she’s a big fan of this book, so I can’t help but wonder if Notice was partly inspired by this book. Hmmm … 😉 )

Anyway, back to this review …

In some ways, this book reminded me of Misery except, to be honest, I was much more riveted to this book. A lot of it had to do with the amazing way Santino Fontana presented this text while he read. He not only read the book, but he was Joe. I don’t think I’ve ever been that involved in an audiobook where I felt like I was actually listening to the character himself recount his story. It was incredible. On a scale of 1-5 for Santino, I would easily put him at a 7. He was so dang good. If I’d had any doubts about the story itself, I would’ve kept listening just to hear him read it. His voice is perfect and his inflections were perfect. I’m now a fan and can’t wait to listen to him on other audios (especially the sequel, squee!!).

Beck is extremely self-centered and insecure–two very volatile qualities to have. She seems to think the whole world should revolve around her, to the point that she ignores all the warning signs emitting from Joe and their strange relationship–until it’s too late, of course. Gah. Beck. Girl. What on earth were you thinking?!

And Joe … ugh, Joe. I hate that I find Joe–the closeted, completely unhinged psychopath–so freaking attractive. Seriously, it’s all kinds of messed up. He seems so deep–haha, just you wait–and sensitive and he’s smart. Holy crap, is he smart. And he loves books! And not only does he love them, but he loves talking about them. On the surface, Joe is exactly what any young woman who wants an intelligent, easygoing, kind, selfless boyfriend to be. And then, the longer you listen–or read–the more unsettling his narrative becomes. And the thing is, Joe flat out says the world is backward for assuming that he would be the bad guy, simply because he follows Beck everywhere and watches her through her windows.

*random vent sesh alert* Oh, and the effing windows. Who the hell has giant windows–in freaking New York, no less–WITH NO CURTAINS?!?! Does this girl want to be murdered? Does it just not bother her in the least that the whole freaking city can watch her get naked in front of her big ass windows and doing God knows what else? Is she that much of an attention whore that she doesn’t care that some creeper could be watching her–and does–constantly, as long as she feels like she’s the center of attention? Beck, honey. Put your clothes on and get yourself some curtains, girl.

Ahem. Sorry.

I was blown away by the writing style. It’s written in the first person from Joe’s perspective and I’ve never read anything quite like this. It’s different and intriguing and I was hooked by the first chapter. I rushed out to buy the TV series tie-in copy of the book (I mean, Penn Badgley, am I right??) and I know I’ll be reading this book again. It’s too good not to. And if you’re like me and interested in psychology in any way at all, it’s a bonus to get inside the mind of the psycho and try and figure out the way he ticks.

 

In any event, kudos to Caroline Kepnes for writing such a phenomenal story that gets inside your head and makes you paranoid and intrigued and leaves you wanting, all at once–or is that just me? I honestly have no idea how I went this long without reading [read: listening] it, but I’m glad I finally did. I can’t wait to see how the rest of the TV show plays out! So far, they’ve done a great job and I have high hopes for the rest of the season.

If my review sounds the least bit interesting, then please give this book a read and then come back and tell me what you thought of it!

 

         

four-half-stars

The Spirit Breather – R.J. Harris

I received an advanced/review copy of this book. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content and honesty of my review.

The Spirit Breather – R.J. Harris

According to the prophecy, only Emily Morrow can destroy the Raven Mockers, the shape-shifting witches who feed on human souls. Now, seventeen years after her birth, Joseph Stomper, a spirit warrior of the Nunnehi immortals, must fulfill the blood vow he made to protect her. Trained to follow orders at any cost, Joseph must prepare Emily for the battle ahead. But the closer he gets to her, the more he questions the laws of his people…

Emily Morrow’s summer goal is to forget the assault that nearly claimed her life. But her plans for a relaxing, post-grad camping trip quickly fall apart. When her best friend, Kadie, is snatched by the dark creatures nesting in the mountains of Cherokee, North Carolina, Emily discovers the dark truth behind her tragic past.

Together, with Joseph Stomper, Emily must embrace her role in a centuries-old prophecy and learn to harness a dangerous gift before she loses everyone she loves. But in a place where rules dictate action, there are consequences for those who follow their hearts.

The Spirit Breather by R.J. Harris
Series: Native Guardians #1
five-stars
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Format: ARC

Ho-lee crap.

This freaking book was so dang good.

I have no idea how I’ve never heard of this book or this author before now because her writing–and this story–is phenomenal. I know I say this a lot in my reviews, but I honestly couldn’t put this book down once I started it.

Ironically enough, this is the second book in a row where the heart of the story is based on Native American folklore and I’m loving it. I’ve always been fascinated by the Native American culture and reading paranormal stories based on this folklore is awesome. I might just be living under a rock, but I haven’t read many paranormal books based on this folklore and reading something other than the stereotypical vampires, werewolves, and witches (oh my!) is pretty neat. Don’t get me wrong; I love pretty much everything paranormal, so I’ll read it all, but taking something unique that you don’t see often and writing about it garners huge points in my book. I mean, this book has raven mockers!! I’m a major Mountain Monsters fan, so I kind of flipped when I read the blurb. There was a nice bit of creep factor added with these things, too. Normally, I’m not big on the creepiness, but I liked that little bit of chill running up my spine while reading this one. It was mild, but enough to make a point.

I don’t want to say a whole lot about this book for fear of spoilers, but I honestly loved everything about this book. The character development was beautifully done; the paranormal creatures featured in this book were so clever and wonderfully well-written; the back story of the heroine and what she went through almost a year prior was compelling and heartwrenching and she was both vulnerable and strong. She wasn’t annoying, either, which was a huge plus. Her love interest is so friggin’ dreamy and I have a huge book crush on him *heart eyes*

Also, this may be neither here nor there for you guys, but this book is written in the third person and normally, I’m not a big fan of that narrative, but I found myself so immersed in this story that it didn’t even matter. I was completely hooked and felt like I could actually visualize everything that was happening.

 

So, at the end of the day, this book is unequivocally one of my favorite reads of the year. I was completely enamored with the story and I’ll recommend it to anyone who likes young adult paranormal because this is like finding a hidden gem. I’m so excited to get my hands on the next book and I’m hoping this author writes some more books because she has an incredible talent–I’m definitely filing her under my new favorite authors.

Please, do yourself a favor and go read this book!!

 

         

five-stars

Rose Petal Graves – Olivia Wildenstein

I received an advanced/review copy of this book. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content and honesty of my review.

Rose Petal Graves – Olivia Wildenstein

ANCIENT SECRETS CANNOT REMAIN BURIED FOREVER.

Founded two centuries ago by a powerful tribe of Gottwa Indians, Rowan was a quiet town, so quiet that I fled after graduation. Staying away was the plan, but Mom died suddenly.

Dad said she suffered a stroke after she dug up one of the ancient graves in our backyard, which happens to be the town cemetery. Creepy, I know. Creepier still, there was no corpse inside the old coffin, only fresh rose petals.

As we made preparations for Mom’s burial, new people began arriving in Rowan, unnervingly handsome and odd people. I begged them to leave, but they stayed, because their enemies—my ancestors—were beginning to awaken.

Rose Petal Graves by Olivia Wildenstein
Series: The Lost Clan #1
three-half-stars
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
Format: Review Copy

This was an interesting read. I enjoyed it, but it was also extremely difficult for me to get through. The heartache is real in this book, man. It was bad enough reading about the main character dealing with her mom’s death, but when View Spoiler »I almost had to walk away. In fact, I set the book aside for the rest of the day and didn’t get back to reading it until later that evening. That absolutely broke my heart and almost destroyed the whole book for me. View Spoiler »

Somebody on GoodReads made the comparison to Twilight, and I have to say I can kind of see the parallels. There’s the somewhat reckless girl who makes some questionable choices and the two supernatural beings who are pining for her. Cat–short for Catori, which means “spirit” in Hopi–is torn between Cruz and Kajika, which becomes more apparent later on in the story. She’s impeccably drawn to Cruz–which causes a whole mess of problems with a dear friendship she has as well as with Cruz’s fiancee (whom he’s supposed to marry for political fae reasons)–and later on, she’s drawn to Kajika, who is pretty much Cruz’s opposite in every way. Honestly, I won’t lie; I was kind of hoping this would go in the RH direction because I loved these guys and couldn’t tell you who my favorite is. However, I know this isn’t an RH story, lol, so I know it’s going to be both interesting and devastating to follow the love story as she has to make a choice between the two.

Okay, so now that that’s out of the way …

The story was a good one. I quite enjoyed how the author mixed Native American folklore with fae mythology. It was a fascinating mix and one I wouldn’t have necessarily put together prior to reading this book, so I liked the bit of surprise in that. Now, I will say, the particular Native American tribe that the heroine is from was made up by the author. In the back of the book, she states that she didn’t want to offend the culture in any way by getting something wrong, so she made up a separate one instead. While a part of me thinks it would have been neat to build off the culture of an actual Native American culture, I enjoyed the made up one and thought it was clever.

Also, I just want to say, as a Michigan native, it was suuuper cool to read a story that takes place in Michigan. I loved having a general idea of the locations referenced and there’s also a solid Native American history in Michigan, so it was neat that that was brought to life in a new and different way. That was just a fun addition to an already well-written novel that I truly enjoyed 🙂

At the end of the day, I did enjoy this book, and I won’t lie–I’m dying to get my hands on the next one. I’m just hoping my poor little heart will be able to take it because if the first book was any indication, the next one is going to be just as heartwrenching. Agh.

I definitely recommend this book if you were a fan of the Twilight series or if you like the paranormal/fantasy genre–especially pertaining to faes.

 

 

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three-half-stars

The Connelly Boys – Lily Velez

I received an advanced/review copy of this book. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content and honesty of my review.

The Connelly Boys – Lily Velez

The Connelly boys are practically royalty at St. Andrew’s Prep. Popular, wealthy, and devastatingly beautiful, the four brothers have long cast a spell over their classmates and over the sleepy seaport town of Rosalyn Bay, Ireland.

There’s just one problem: they’re also cursed.

...Or so the rumors say.

Seventeen-year-old newcomer Scarlet Monroe has never been one for rumors, but when she inadvertently banishes a demon while trying to help eldest brother Jack Connelly, the most breathtaking of the boys and the one to whom she feels inexplicably drawn, she quickly discovers there may be more to the local superstitions and folklore than she originally thought.

Before long, the Connellys pull her into a dark and mysterious world filled with ancient magic, powerful spells, kidnapped souls, and deadly enemies. But none of it compares to Scarlet discovering the truth of who she really is...or what she’ll have to become to defeat a rising evil older than humankind itself before she loses everyone she loves—that is, of course, if she can survive the world of the Connellys long enough.

Don’t miss this first installment in the new dark fantasy series by Lily Velez, which features Irish folklore, Celtic mythology, mystery and light romance, and an engrossing world of witches and magic that will keep you reading long into the night!

The Connelly Boys by Lily Velez
Series: Celtic Witches #1
five-stars
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Format: ARC, eBook
Goodreads

There are some books you read the ARC of that you enjoy but aren’t immersed in the story or the “world” or the characters enough to warrant the subsequent book hangover.

Then there are books like The Connelly Boys. Once I started reading this book, I couldn’t stop. From the first chapter, I was hooked. It helps tremendously that it’s based on Irish mythology and folklore; I have strong Irish roots, so any time I see anything with Ireland or Irish topics as the subject matter, I jump on it. I’m beyond thankful I had the opportunity to read this one!

As you all know, I’m a huge romance junkie, so usually, any book I enjoy has to have at least some sort of romantic aspect to it. This book fits in the young adult range and there’s just a small hint of romance–which I loved and am sort of hoping the author expounds on that a bit in the next book(s)–and there was a perfect amount of mystery and action that kept the story rolling. There were also so many twists in this book that I honestly gasped out loud several times while reading. The secrets are vast and the reveals are shocking, to say the least.

I felt like the heroine, Scarlet, was relatable and fun to get to know throughout the story. She didn’t annoy me and I thought her grief over her mother’s death was written so beautifully (while simultaneously being heartbreaking). She’s a sweet character, but she’s also sassy and multidimensional. I truly enjoyed reading from her perspective 🙂

Then there’re the Connelly boys themselves …

Each Connelly has a unique personality and quality that makes them lovable. Even grumpy, pessimistic Connor is lovable in his own way–especially by the book’s end. They’re each so fascinating and while Jack is probably my favorite, it’s hard to pick between the others. There wasn’t anything I really disliked about them except for Connor being a jerk at first–but, like I said, he kind of redeems himself by the end.

And the paranormal aspect … Aaaggghhhhh. So. Good. I loved the incorporation of the folklore. While I had heard of them, I had never read a book with these certain kinds of supernaturals (I don’t want to say what they are so as not to spoil finding that out for yourself) and it was so, so good to read about unique paranormal creatures.

 

In short, I loveloveloved this book. I loved it so much that despite having the ARC already, I bought it and pre-ordered the next one. It’s just that good. I highly recommend this one; especially if you like young adult and/or paranormal!

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five-stars

The Stardust Series Box Set – Autumn Reed and Julia Clarke

Fan of contemporary RH or The Stardust Series? The Stardust Box Set is now available. Grab your copy of the complete series plus exclusive bonus scenes here –mybook.to/StardustBoxSet

Haley’s life may be at risk, but the bigger threat is to her heart.

After a lifetime spent in hiding, all Haley Jones wants for her eighteenth birthday is answers. But she gets more than she bargained for when Knox, Ethan, Chase, Theo, Jackson, and Liam show up instead, turning her world upside down. Though the team of six dangerously appealing guys vows to protect her, she can’t help but wonder whose side they’re really on.

When things heat up with the team, Haley finds herself in uncharted territory, torn between attraction and frustration. Will her growing connection with each of the guys ultimately lead to happiness, or will it all end in heartbreak?

**This box set contains the complete Stardust Series, as well as several exclusive bonus scenes. Stardust is a reverse harem romance.**

(copied from Julia Clarke)
You. Guys.
This is one of my favorite series ever. I’ve been anxiously awaiting this box set (exclusive bonus scenes!!) and now that it’s on my kindle, I’m gonna have to start a[nother] re-read!
Seriously–if you haven’t read this series, pick it up or download from KU. <3
Click here for my review of Polaris, the last book in the series <3

Congrats, Autumn and Julia!!

 

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Wolf Bound – Holly Hook

I received an advanced/review copy of this book. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content and honesty of my review.

Wolf Bound – Holly Hook

Loner, misfit, wild. Everything about the new guy at school, Cayden, should push me away. And when the wolves appear in the woods around town, one of them shares Cayden's dark hair, red highlights, and his wild, noble eyes. Deep down, I know the explanation for his amazing hearing, graceful walk, and his ability to fight off guys twice his size.

I should fear him, but he draws me in. I'm alone, too, having lost parents at a young age. Only Cayden understands what it's like to be different. But Cayden warns me off as his eyes yearn for me.

Turns out he's right to. Other werewolves exist, savage ones who hate human life and noble Wolves like Cayden. They'll attack anyone who dares enter his life. And now they're settling in my hometown. It won't be long before they destroy my home.

Staying away from Cayden is the safe thing to do. But without me, he'll go up against the savage werewolves alone.

And I can't let him do that.

Wolf Bound by Holly Hook
Series: The Alpha Legacy #1
three-stars
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Format: ARC

This was a quick, fun read. In some ways, it was your stereotypical teen drama (albeit with a paranormal twist) with unrequited crushes, mean girls, and your usual cattiness involved in high school. In other ways, it was an entertaining read that kept my interest.

Cayden is dark and mysterious and instantly draws Brie’s–and everyone else’s–eye. While Cayden is aloof at best and cold at worst, Brie can’t help but feel drawn to him, despite his less than stellar personality. Once they get to know each other, Cayden sends Brie reeling with his hot and cold mood swings and she never knows what to expect from him. While he argues the logical–and right–thing to do would be to stay away from her, he can’t seem to leave her alone.

What follows is Brie’s journey into an unknown world where she has more than the drama club’s resident mean girl as an enemy. She finds herself right in the middle of a supernatural battle for territory where the loser pays in blood and you can’t always be too sure who your true enemy is. Secrets are kept and then revealed, and suddenly, Brie realizes the problems she was facing in school are nothing compared to what she has to deal with now.

Honestly, I felt like this book was kind of like a Blood and Chocolate/The Vampire Diaries/Teen Wolf/Twilight hybridIt also ends on a cliffhanger and it’s kind of a toss-up whether I’ll read the next book or not. I enjoyed reading it and I got through it fast, but I’m not sure if I feel invested enough in the story to continue reading. This could also just be my current mood and I’ll decide I want to read the next book ASAP when it comes out, who knows. In the end, I would rate this one a solid 3 stars.

In any event, if this book sounds interesting or like something you would enjoy reading, I definitely encourage you to check it out and decide for yourself 🙂 It releases on October 15th.

 

 

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three-stars

Ravenite – Alicia Rades

I received an advanced/review copy of this book. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content and honesty of my review.

Ravenite – Alicia Rades

Eight years ago, the first vampire escaped from his supernatural prison, unleashing magic into the world.

I'm Rachel Collins, low witch and raven shifter in hiding. At age eighteen, I spend my days tending the cash register at a local magic shop and my nights patrolling the streets for vampires with a death wish. Until the night I spot the mark of the Soulless on some lowly vampire's wrist.

The Soulless answer to Valkas, the original vampire and the most ruthless of them all. They’re the same bastards who murdered my parents and kidnapped my sister. I want answers—and maybe a little revenge.

Along comes Venn, a sweet, handsome wolf shifter who takes my breath away. We're both after the same guy, and as much as it kills me to ask for help, I kind of need it.

Heaven help me. I've just started down a dark, dangerous road that will either free my sister or get me killed.

Ravenite by Alicia Rades
Series: Vengeance and Vampires #1
four-stars
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Format: ARC

This was such an engrossing read for me. It had just enough depth that made it interesting, and the heroine was quippy and sardonic, which is just how I like them 😉

Rachel Collins is a low-level witch on a mission to find and save her sister from the vampires who murdered her parents. While she’s interrogating a vampire one day, her path crosses that of a very handsome and surprisingly kind wolf shifter named Venn. It turns out he and his friends are also looking for someone connected to the vampires and Venn agrees to help Rachel–nicknamed Rae–find her sister, but to get to the point where they can go looking for Rae’s sister, they first have to retrieve something in relation to Venn’s missing friend.

As they work together, Venn and Rae can’t deny their growing attraction to each other or the way they feel pulled to be together. Rae is also finding an unlikely home amidst these ragtag bunch of misfits, and for someone who has depended solely on herself for a long time, the idea of having a family to rely on is not only intimidating but can also feel quite terrifying.

Ravenite was a fun read. Once I started reading, I felt like I couldn’t stop, and I absolutely loved the chemistry and tension between Rae and Venn. They were like two magnets drawn to each other by an unseen force. Rae fought against it out of fear of getting hurt and/or hurting him by being involved in such dangerous territories, but no matter how hard either one resisted, they just kept coming back to the other.

There was a nice flow to the story and plenty of action to keep me glued to the pages. I also enjoyed each character individually, which is somewhat of a feat in itself considering I almost always have that one character that drives me nuts–but I felt like each character was an interesting contribution to the group’s dynamic. All the different shifters were fun to read about, too. It isn’t the first time I’ve read about them, but it’s still nice to get something a little different here and there.

All in all, I enjoyed this one. It ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, so I’m anxious and excited to sink my teeth into the next one (see what I did there?). If you’re a fan of the young adult and paranormal genres, give this one a shot! Coming out on the 25th of this month 🙂

 

 

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four-stars

Allison’s Adventures in Underland – C. M. Stunich

This book is suitable for 18+ due to mature content.
Allison’s Adventures in Underland – C. M. Stunich

Um. Um. Um. Are you reading this? If you are, I need your help.

I was at a party; I was running; I fell. And get this—this is the part you'll never believe—I fell down a rabbit hole. Like Alice in those old books.

Except in those books, there wasn't blood everywhere. In those books, the characters weren't all male, attractive, and interested in me. Forget everything you know about the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, the March Hare …

This isn't Wonderland; this is Underland. Violence, sex, drugs, and magic … that's all there is in this place. There's me, Allison, and there are the men that want me, the enemies that hunt me, and the darkness that's quickly rolling in.

And only I can stop it. So if you're reading this, will you help me? Please. I just want to escape this place and go … home.

ALLISON'S ADVENTURES IN UNDERLAND (Book 1 of 3 in the "Harem of Hearts" series) -- is a full-length reverse harem/new adult/dark romance novel, a gritty retelling of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland". Don't expect a children's tale; these characters are nothing like their more innocent counterparts. This book contains: drugs, cursing, violence, sex ... and love found in the darkest shadows.

Allison's Adventures in Underland by C.M. Stunich
Series: Harem of Hearts #1
four-half-stars
Genres: Dark, Fantasy, New Adult, Paranormal, Reverse Harem, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: eBook

This is one of the weirdest books I’ve ever read in the best way possible. I enjoyed the heck out of it. I’ve been hearing about this story for a while (considering it’s been out since last year) and just didn’t get to reading it until recently. Honestly, I wish I had read it earlier just so I could’ve gotten in on the hype sooner, but then again, would I have blogged about it at that point? Possibly not. And this is definitely a good one to blog about.

I’ve always been a big Alice in Wonderland fan, and that includes several of its many adaptations. I’m also a huuuge fan of C.M. Stunich. In fact, her Rock Hard Beautiful series was my first ever reverse harem read, and in my opinion, she pretty much sets the bar for a good reverse harem story. So, with that said, here’re my thoughts on Allison’s Adventures in Underland 

First off, Allison is a snarky, sarcastic, somewhat tomboyish young adult who I immediately related to. I may not be quite as outspoken, but I definitely found a bit of a kindred spirit in Allison, lol. Part of what I loved about her is that she questions things that normal heroines readily accept in most romance novels. She’s not a pushover and just because she’s told something is acceptable doesn’t mean she’s on board with it, and no one is making her do something she doesn’t want to do. Also, she’s constantly wondering what Dee is talking about, which are some of the funniest interactions in this story. Case in point:

“That’s the problem with assumptions,” Dee says, whistling as he starts off down the path. “They make an ass out of you and shins—two of which we all have.” He pauses for a second before turning around to look at me. “Unless of course you’re an amputee which then you could have one shin or none shin and then the only person that’s an ass is you.” I just stare at him because, like, what the fuck is he saying?

Allison discovers she’s the Alice–something pertaining to a prophecy that you either believe or you don’t, though considering she actually makes it to Underland (formally Wonderland), then you better start believing. In short, the Alice is supposed to save Underland and restore it to its former glory. Where Wonderland was bright and beautiful, Underland is dark and full of drugs, sex, backstabbing, and murder. This certainly isn’t a book for the faint of heart, and the characters are definitely not the ones we all grew up with.

There are assassins, a shapeshifting jabbberwock, a shapeshifting bandersnatch, a perpetually high butterfly, and many other odd characters that take the originals and twist them into some very intriguing concepts.

I don’t want to say too much about this book because I essentially went in blind and I feel like that’s probably the best way to read it. There were so many clever twists added to this story, as well as some great sexual tension and chemistry. So far, Tee and Dee are my favorites, but I’m excited to get to know the other characters more in the next book (due out this year! Yay!).

Just like most of her other novels, I adored this book. It’s different and it’s raw and gritty and definitely won’t be liked by everyone, but if you have a bit of an open mind and aren’t afraid to try something new, give this strange story a shot. You just might enjoy it!

 

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four-half-stars

The Confectioner’s Guild – Claire Luana

I received an advanced/review copy of this book. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content and honesty of my review.

The Confectioner’s Guild – Claire Luana

A magic cupcake. A culinary killer. The perfect recipe for murder.
Wren knew her sweet treats could work wonders, but she never knew they could work magic. She barely has time to wrap her head around the stunning revelation when the head of the prestigious Confectioner’s Guild falls down dead before her. Poisoned by her cupcake.

Now facing murder charges in a magical world she doesn’t understand, Wren must discover who framed her or face the headsman’s axe. With the help of a handsome inspector and several new friends, Wren just might manage to learn the ropes, master her new powers, and find out who framed her. But when their search for clues leads to a deep-rooted conspiracy that goes all the way to the top, she realizes that the guild master isn’t the only one at risk of death by chocolate.

If Wren can’t bring the powerful culprit to justice, she and her friends will meet a bittersweet end.

The Confectioner’s Guild is a delicious YA fantasy mystery. If you like spunky chefs and twisty mysteries with a drizzle of romance, then you’ll love Claire Luana’s scrumptious tale that’s sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Buy The Confectioner’s Guild to conquer your cravings with a magical mystery today!

The Confectioner's Guild by Claire Luana
Series: The Confectioner Chronicles #1
five-stars
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 395
Format: ARC
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

Let me just preface this by saying, as a teenager, young adult fantasy was my jam. J. K. Rowling, Holly Black, Stephenie Meyer, Cornelia Funke, Libba Bray (and so on and so forth) … if the book said it was fantasy, I snatched it up and read it–usually in one sitting.

Thing is, though; I never grew out of my love of young adult fantasy. Add a bit of romance in there, and that’s just a bonus. So when the opportunity to review this book by an author I hadn’t read before, I knew I wanted to expand my horizons, so to speak, and take a chance on her. The things I noticed first were the cover and the title–I mean, seriously, The Confectioner’s Guild? If you’re a fan of fantasy and that title doesn’t intrigue you, either you’re lying to yourself or just don’t want to take a chance on a unique story–and then there’s that blurb. My little inner fifteen-year-old self jumped for joy.

The last young adult fantasy I read a review copy for didn’t work out so well (for me), so I had slight trepidation, but I just couldn’t pass up a story that sounded so unlike anything I had ever read before.

So, without further adieu …

This book starts right out with the action. I think it’s just the second chapter when Wren is accused of murdering the guild master–whom she just met mere minutes prior–or maybe it was the third. In any event, Wren is working in a bakery at the book’s opening when in walks the surly right-hand man to the guild master, taking her away to the guild where she learns that magic is not only real, but she has a powerful form of it that manifests in her baking.

Wren is left reeling in a state of shock. She explores her new living quarters, then decides to go back to the guild master to try to talk a little more about her abilities and everything that’s entailed, only to find him foaming at the mouth and choking. Several men surround him, attempting to help him, but it’s of no use; he dies with Wren watching in horror. Immediately, fingers are pointed at her as the killer–after all, it was her cupcake he had last eaten before he died–and until proven innocent, she is viewed as 100% guilty. This makes her life at the guild hall absolutely miserable and she’s filled with a renewed sense of urgency to prove her innocence.

So enter a few new friends who believe her plight and vow to help her, along with the handsome inquisitor who vouches for her innocence, and they begin their own investigation.

I tell you what–this book had me guessing right up to the very end. Right when you think you know without a doubt who the killer is, the evidence points in another direction. There was a nice balance of mystery and romance, as well as just being a wholesome coming of age story where you’re rooting for the heroine every step of the way. Wren is strong and clever and watching her character grow throughout the book was so fun.

Those authors I mentioned at the beginning of my post? Ms. Luana has fully cemented herself in that group, as far as I’m concerned. I was glued to this book in a way I haven’t been with any other young adult fantasy in a very long time. I absolutely cannot wait for the next book in this series!

If you’re a fan of young adult and fantasy, do yourself a favor and read this book when it comes out in October. You won’t regret it. 🙂

 

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five-stars

Rock F*ck Club 3 – Michelle Mankin

I received an advanced/review copy of this book. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content and honesty of my review.

This book is suitable for 18+ due to mature content.
Rock F*ck Club 3 – Michelle Mankin

The Gods of Rock Tour.
4 summer concert venues. 10 famous rock stars to f*ck.
Two at a time. Maybe even three.
I know what I like and how to get it.
I’m Marsha West. Raven Winter’s best friend. A sidekick no longer, I’m in the starring role.
I’m going to f*ck whoever I want. However I want. Whenever I want. I have my reasons for being the way I am and doing the things I do. I’ve warned WMO they might have to stretch the rules to keep their TV-MA rating for me.
It’s Rock F*ck Club. Season Two.
What could go wrong?

Rock F*ck Club 3 by Michelle Mankin
Series: Rock F*ck Club #3
four-stars
Genres: Romance, New Adult
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

 

Whew, man.

This one was hard to read, I’m not gonna lie. If you think Raven’s book was angsty, it ain’t nothin’ compared to Marsha’s.

Also, my first impression of Marsha was way off and somewhat unfair. I’ll be honest with you; I didn’t much care for her character in the first book. I loved the friendship she and Raven shared, but other than that, I didn’t really care much for her. She was too reckless, too much of a party girl, and she hooked up with more guys than Raven did. I just didn’t care for her personality type. So when I realized this was her story, to say I felt a little apprehensive to read it is quite the understatement. Honestly, I kind of dreaded reading it, even while I was reading the first few chapters. Her personality just grated on me and I didn’t expect to feel anything else.

Hoo boy, was I in for a treat!

The turning point for me came when View Spoiler »

(For those who don’t want a spoiler: basically, she and Raven get into a fight that lasts for pretty much the entirety of the book. Marsha finds herself alone and without the solid presence of her best friend. She’s mourning Raven’s absence and attempting to deal with other issues that she hasn’t gotten over yet, and as a result, she makes a few bad choices and begins to question pretty much every decision she makes. I’m not describing this well, but hopefully, you get the idea.)

I was so unbelievably annoyed with Raven–something I never thought I would say–and felt terrible for Marsha. Here’s the thing–Marsha does screw up. She isn’t perfect by any means, but she’s also not 100% to blame for all of these mistakes either. And I’m not saying she didn’t deserve a little slap in the face to wake up and stop drowning her sorrows in alcohol, but I do think Raven did her a little dirty and should have at least attempted to communicate with her before deciding to practically write her off.

Anyway. Kudos to Michelle Mankin for bringing this couple together. I didn’t see Ivan and Marsha reuniting at all. Marsha seemed to hate him, and really, the feelings seemed mutual–until the whole truth starts coming out. Their beginning was heartbreaking. They were over before they could even begin, and then he started dating Marsha’s best friend. He knew their relationship was wrong, but he stayed because Raven was hurting after her brother’s death and he didn’t feel like it would be right to break up with her on top of that.

I was beyond shocked to discover the feelings Ivan had been harboring for Marsha. And even though she didn’t want to admit it, the feelings Marsha had for Ivan were nowhere near dormant. She’s inexplicably drawn to him, but she feels like she can’t make a move because of Raven and the RFC. She’s contractually obligated to have sex with ten rock stars and she knows Raven would be hurt if they were together. What is she supposed to do?

This doesn’t stop Ivan, however. He relentlessly pursues her all throughout the book. She’s bullheaded and doesn’t make it easy, but when they’re together, their relationship is so sensual and easygoing, it’s easy to root for this couple–despite their past together and his past with her best friend. It’s clear they love each other and it’s frustrating when you can see it but they’re just so hardheaded about putting labels on anything–especially Marsha.

Honestly? I liked this book better than the first one, and no one is more surprised about that admission than I am. I thought for sure I wouldn’t much care for Marsha, but the more I got to know her, the more I understand her personality and why she makes the choices she does. I empathized with her and felt a connection with her, despite never having gone through what she has.

I also loved the addition of Barbara. She’s such a cool person and I love the friendship she and Mars develop. I’m hoping we’re going to see some more of her in the future 🙂

OH, and how could I forget?! I’m dying for more interaction between Rocky and Sky. Their chemistry is just explosive and with her unique personality, I think they would make such an amazing couple. It’s clear they’re in love with each other; they’re just too damn stubborn to do anything about it. I’m crossing my fingers for those two!

In my opinion, this is the best book of the series so far and I’m excited for the next one to come out 🙂 If you end up reading these books, please let me know! I would love to hear what you think.

My review for book one: Rock F*ck Club

My review for book two: Rock F*ck Club 2

 

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four-stars