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Monday, August 21, 2023

Book Review: Hard Limit By Sybil Bartel

Hard Limit
(Alpha Antihero #1)
By Sybil Bartel

One f*cking breath.

That's all I needed.

Air in my lungs so I could exhale through the pain.

My ribs broken, my face in the mud, one leg useless, I tried and failed to lift my head. Mosquitoes swarmed, and the sun dropped. I wasn't gonna die out here. No f*cking way. I was Tarquin Scott, and that was a hard limit. One arm crawl after another, I needed to man up.

I wasn't dead yet.

But then I heard her voice, angel soft and breathless, and I wondered if I'd been kidding myself. I didn't have time to figure it out. A small hand landed on my back and I fisted my bloody knife.

I wasn't gonna die tonight. But someone else was.

*HARD LIMIT is the first book in the Alpha Antihero Series.

The Alpha Antihero Series

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Check Out The Other Books In This Series:
(Linked to my review)

My Review:

* This book is part of the Wanted: An Outlaw Anthology along with 19 other full novels that were released January 8th, 2019 as a boxset for charity. It has been released on its own as of December 20th, 2019

Anti-heroes aren't something that I look forward to reading about. Especially considering the part Candle AKA Tarquin plays in a few other novels in this author's other series. His redemption ARC started quite a few books ago and I'm not sure how to feel about him as a character.

I was glad that this series picks up right after the cult leaves him for dead. So he technically hasn't done anything bad to anyone, in this particular time and place. I wonder what happens from now on that makes him end up in a place where the events of the Uncompromising Series takes place.
**End Of Spoilers**

Tarquin (who eventually becomes Candle) is different than I imagined him to be with all his future appearances in the other series. He may not be evil, as of yet, but he's not candy canes and gumdrops either. There's a balancing act that the author is trying to hold and I can't say I hate it.

Shaila was sassy and had a backbone when things needed to get done. I imagine she's going to be quite a match for Tarquin in the future. Though why she saved a dying man on her so-called father's land is still beyond me.

With all that being said, this still felt like half a story and not in a good way. The way it ended to give room for a cliffhanger felt way too abrupt and almost panicked. I understand this is going to be a trilogy but there had to be a better for-now ending other than where the author left off. 

My Rating:

Monday, August 14, 2023

Audio Book Review: Stealing Embers By Julie Hall

Stealing Embers
(Fallen Legacies #1)
By Julie Hall 

Narrators: Vanessa Moyen & Adam Gold
Length: 9 hours and 19 minutes

A realm of monsters. A world of lies. She belongs to both.

My name is Emberly, and everything I’ve ever been told is a lie.

Monsters don’t exist. Wrong.
The nightmarish spectrum world is just my imagination. Wrong.
In a few months, I’ll finally be free. Wrong.

It takes being dragged to a secret training academy in the mountains to unravel the truth. My captors--an elite race of angel-born warriors called Nephilim.

The deadliest of them all is an arrogant shape shifter, Steel. He’s gorgeous, lethal, hot-headed . . . and convinced I’ll be the death of them all.

Maybe he’s right. As soon as I show up, the monsters that have haunted me my entire life breach the academy walls. My only hope of saving my new friends is learning how to control my powers, but when a stunning betrayal hurts someone I care about, I have an impossible choice.

Stay and fight for a place to belong . . . or decide once and for all that I’m better off alone.

Enter the spectrum world, a realm in-between worlds where shadow beasts draw blood, reality is a maze of twisted lights and sounds, and life goals are whittled down to just one: survive.

Fans of Jennifer L. Armentrout and Cassandra Clare will love this Crescent City meets Crave mash up!
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My Review:
I wasn't expecting to like this book as much as I did from the beginning! Most angel stories have been a huge miss for me for the last few years, so I was glad that this one ended up being an exception. Though that did change somewhat by the end.

Emberly started off as a strong and sympathetic character. She was in a rough situation due to other circumstances. She was taking life one day at a time while dealing with something that was clearly out of her control. I liked how she took a little while to warm up to the characters that ended up "taking her in". She was ready to leave at the drop of a hat while still trying to make the best out of what she was being offered.

Steel was very standoffish throughout the entire book. There were moments when a little bit of emotion would seep through but those were far and few between. I wish that hadn't been the case. By the second half of the novel things seem to have progressed with him but right away he goes back to his hot and cold thing. I was starting to like him but then he went off on his own. It left a sour taste in my mouth.

The ending had me slightly angry. Steel is going off on his "mission" and Emberly still knows almost nothing of actual substance about what she is. Everything is being put on a gamble and relies on finding someone else to varify the information. If that someone else can even be found at this point. I think I just wanted more information on what Emberly is, how she fits into the world the author created, and who Steel will eventually end up being to her. Turns out I just wanted more answers, plain and simple.
The Audio Book:

The narration was great! There were quite a few laugh-out-loud moments and the narration just enhanced that. All the characters were distinguishable from each other and there were no weird noises in the background.

My Rating:

Monday, August 7, 2023

Audio Book Review: Hissy Fit By Lani Lynn Vale

Hissy Fit
(The Southern Gentleman #1)
By Lani Lynn Vale

Narrator: Ava Erickson & Jacob Morgan
Length: 6 hours and 4 minutes

He is the one that never looks her way.
He is handsome and strong.
He is rough around the edges and mean.
He is everything she’s ever wanted.
He doesn’t even know she exists.
Her life is a joke.

She doesn’t step on cracks in the sidewalk.
She laughs at inappropriate times.
She talks when she shouldn’t.
She is clumsy and trips on air.
She is finally on his radar.
God help her now.
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My Review:

This author's books are usually a hit or miss for me. I've read a few sample previews on amazon on her past few books and most don't keep my attention after the synopsis grabbed my eye. Though I think I finally figured out a workaround: listening to the audio book. If you've been here for any length of time you've probably seen me rant about how impatient I am and some writing styles tend to bring out the worst of it. If I choose to listen to the audio book that's no longer a problem because I can't skim read ahead and ruin the experience for myself.

Let's not kid ourselves and call Raleigh a realistic portrayal of a clumsy person but it did make for hilarious and improbable situations. As clumsy and accident-prone as I am I seem to have only scratched the surface where Raleigh is concerned. She was a sweet person who liked to take other people under her wing. I'm glad she finally got her dream guy!

Erza was kind of blind when it came to Raleigh. He never really noticed her before even though they went to the same school. Though to be fair it was probably a big school and it's impossible to know everyone. The amazing thing is that it was one of Raleigh's clumsy moments that finally made Erza see her as a person and want to get to know her.

The ending was interesting, to say the least! Who knew glow-in-the-dark clothes could be accident inducing. I'll be looking forward to future audio books by this author because this one proved to be great!

The Audio Book:

The narration was great! Everyone had a relatively distinct voice and I never got lost in any conversations between characters.

My Rating:

Monday, July 31, 2023

Audio Book Review: Fallen Academy: Year One By Leia Stone

Fallen Academy:
Year One
(Fallen Academy #1)
By Leia Stone

Narrator: Vanessa Moyen
Length: 7 hours and 19 minutes

Brielle Atwater isn't sure of much, but she knows a few things:

1. Having black wings is not normal. 
2. Selling her soul to the demons was a mistake. 
3. Lincoln Grey is the biggest *** she's ever met … but not falling in love with him might prove impossible. 

When angels fell from the sky to war with the demons that ravaged Earth, their combined powers infected humanity. Now, the humans are assigned one of two fates, being either demon gifted or angel blessed.

After wings sprout from Brielle's back at her awakening ceremony, she's sure she's an angel blessed celestial. It's not until she sees black wings that she realizes something is terribly wrong.

Having sold her contract at a young age to save her father's life means she should be bound for Tainted Academy. That is, until a fallen angel unexpectedly fights for her to be accepted into Fallen Academy, the elite school for those that inhabit Angel City.

She's immediately matched with her impossibly handsome celestial teacher, Lincoln Grey. Laying eyes on him, her first thought is that her time at the academy might actually be fun, but this theory quickly fades when she and Lincoln clash on day one. To further prove her admission into Fallen Academy is cursed, the entire school is thrown into chaos when an Abrus demon reveals that he knows Brielle's secret. Now, above all else, Lincoln must fight to protect her.

To his surprise, the only thing more difficult than trying to save her … is trying not to fall for her.
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My Review:

This book proved to be very entertaining in a train-wreck sort of way. The concept for the world the author created with all the different creatures, powers, and hierarchy was awesome. It's what kept me invested in this book in the first place. The characters made it lose a little bit of its shine by the end though.

Brielle was something alright. I liked that she was stubborn, loyal, and sassy to a fault but her repetitive inner monologues got annoying the longer it progressed. I disliked that she was this special never-before-seen being and how everything came SO easy to her. I would have liked to see her struggle to control her powers or maybe even *gasp* lose a battle here and there and make it so it had real-world consequences.

I didn't see the appeal Lincoln had. He's bossy and knows how to sass her back but that's about it. He's interesting and all but I just don't see or feel the chemistry he supposedly has with Brielle.

I will say that even though things didn't happen one after another in the story, because there were time passes mentioned in between, it did feel back-to-back in a rushed, coincidental, and not-good sort of way.

This novel felt like it was missing something crucial for me to fully be submerged in it. It felt like everything was go-go-go all the time that the characters never took a breath and that ended up affecting my reading experience in a not-so-positive way.

The Audio Book:

The narration was great! I could tell all the characters apart while 3 or more were having a conversation. Though I would've liked to see more of a variety in male voices/tones.

My Rating:

Monday, July 24, 2023

Book Review: Bartered To The Fae Lord By Rylee Winters

Bartered To The Fae Lord
(Fated Mates #1)
By Rylee Winters

Elise’s life sucked; she was stuck in a dead-end job as a check-out girl at the local grocery store, she didn’t have enough money to go to college to better her life, and her father who’d abandoned her and her mother when she was only a small child keeps reappearing in her life to screw it over.

But now things have just fallen to a whole new level of crappiness even she couldn’t imagine!

Her dead-beat father has struck a bargain with a Fae lord and offered her up as his bride to save his own worthless skin.

Unfortunately, she discovers once a deal is struck with one of the immortal folk, there’s no way out…

Callum, the mysterious Fae lord, comes for her personally, spiriting her away to his cold, wintry realm. She’s given no choice but to marry him and remain his captive. But Elise isn’t about to give up––she’s concocting a plan to escape. Only she’s in danger of losing herself heart, body and soul, to this brooding, chiselled, Fae warrior before she can realize her plan.

Meanwhile, war is brewing in the Kingdom, and Callum has been ordered to ready the army of troops in his garrison to march for battle.

There are enemies in the shadows and conspiracies happening behind closed doors, and he and Elise will find themselves caught in the crossfire. Will Elise be able to find out Callum is her fated mate before war erupts around them and tears them apart? Or will she abandon him in his greatest moment of need, when she’s unexpectedly given a chance to return home?

*Bartered to the Fae Lord is a standalone steamy paranormal romance with a HEA. Each book in the Fated Mates series will feature a different couple with a complete story.*
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My Review:

This book had a lot of potential but it didn't manage to blow everything out of the water. Another round of two of editing would have also done this book a lot of good. One thing that I hadn't come across in books that I figured out with this one that bothers me to no end is consistent exclamation points in inner monologues. Is the person supposed to be screaming in their own head? That doesn't sound fun. Also ending a sentence with an ellipsis has become a grammar pet peeve of mine from this book forward.

Elise started off like a character who was going to wreak havoc on the prince but that never came to fruition. Instead, she ended up liking where she was at and falling for him after a few days of stewing in her anger at the situation. Personally, I found it strange how she never inquired about visiting her mom (who had done nothing wrong and only tried her best to help her) or having her mom visit her. She was just forgotten in the story.

Callum got off to a very villain-esk start. Let's call what he did what it actually was: kidnapping. It was all due to Elise's father throwing her under the bus but we find out a bit of titillating information (which is a spoiler I won't be mentioning here) and it kind of put him in an icky light if you ask me. Their chemistry didn't come off correctly through the writing. It was just something that one day wasn't there and then *boom* there it goes.

The ending was a little too rushed. I would have loved to have been present when Elise went to the king and the conversation they had. I also would have liked a little more motive for the villain (whose name escapes me now) to have done what he ended up doing. There was one interaction that was creepy and everyone on edge and then *boom* everyone is proved right. I would have liked more of a lead up to it, is what I'm trying to say. Overall, it was an enjoyable book! Though, I think this author and her writing have great potential it's just not there yet for me.

My Favorite Quotes:

"Bad things can happen unexpectedly - it's a part of life."

"You don't need to feel guilty or ashamed for pursuing something you are passionate about - even if others may not understand; if it brings you joy, you should do it. "

My Rating:

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