Friday, August 31, 2018

It's official: I loathe August. Not only is it back-to-school crunch-time for the kiddo -- and I'm probably more nervous for her than she is -- but it was just an all around awful month. Car accident. Fraud on my bank account. Higher stress than usual because of work. And that was only the first half of the month. BUT. could always be worse, right?

At any rate, I wasn't very good at keeping up with my reading this month because there was so much going on. Not that I wasn't reading, but I was in an epic slump for a week or so, picking up several different books and quite a few audiobooks and just not clicking with anything. And though I remember the titles of what I read, I might have trouble recalling details since I wasn't updating this post or Goodreads like I usually do. Oops. However, I did reach my Goodreads goal as of the end of this month, so there's that. :D And I'm still on track to read a book a day (365 for the year), which was my unofficial goal for 2018.

And without further ado, here's what I've been reading lately...

(More on why I've gone to this format here in lieu of traditional reviews for each.)

Y O U N G   A D U L T

Legendary* - The second half of this story really made this book. I gasped. I smirked. My eyes got misty. But now I am on tenterhooks, waiting for the next installment. Full review coming soon. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Catastrophic History of You and Me - This was probably the first contemporary-ish novel I picked up when I first started blogging. Not my first ever but definitely the first that made me see the genre differently. Maybe because it's more like speculative fiction or magical realism. Either way, it still holds a special place in my heart. And it was still pretty adorable upon re-reading. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

First & Then - Pride and Prejudice and football? Yes, please! I've been in a mood and I've also been missing football and a re-read of this book was just the thing to pull me out of the doldrums. And it's still so stinkin' cute! I see many more re-reads involving high school football in my near future. :P 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Keeping the Castle - An unexpectedly charming novel, but it definitely could've been longer to flesh out the characters and develop the relationships further. It definitely had the Jane Austen flair I've favored of late, drawing from both Emma and Pride and Prejudice with Althea's efforts to match-make and her antagonistic relationship with one Mr. Fredericks. This book was a delight, and though it doesn't number among my favorite Austen reimaginings, it definitely aided in pulling me out of my reading slump. 🌟🌟🌟

Interference - Told you there'd be more high school football-centric reads in my future. :P And it's another re-read and also a Jane Austen retelling. What can I say? I like what I like. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

9 Days and 9 Nights - This was everything I've come to expect from a Katie Cotugno book: gritty, genuine, and full of awful truths. The situations are awkward and uncomfortable but they make you think and consider how you'd react. The characters are real and the story is honest, and even when it's depressing, it's still oddly hopeful. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

All the Truth That's in Me - I first read this last summer after seeing a friend on GR gush about it, and I ended up loving it to pieces. And it's still just as amazing upon re-read. And now I have my bestie listening to it because what kind of friend would I be if I didn't force her to experience this amazing story, too? 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Bring Me Their Hearts - This book was such a disappointment, and I'm not even sure I can put my finger on what exactly it was that bothered me so much. Beyond the use of such modern language for a fantasy novel. That definitely grated on me, though I could have overlooked it had other aspects aligned more with my expectations. I think I was hoping for something more akin to To Kill a Kingdom with a fierce heroine and witty banter and all I got was some milquetoast waif who couldn't hold up her end of the bargain. I wanted a monster girl, full of darkness and secrets, and though there were brief flashes of that, there was more romance than anything else. Which would be fine if it had been a good romance but it just felt choppy and rushed and I couldn't get on board with it. 🌟🌟

Finding Audrey - So, I ended up on a fairly awesome Sophie Kinsella binge this month. I don't know how I've avoided reading her books all this time when they're actually ridiculously cute. Except this one. This one was thoughtful and thought-provoking, and it was equal parts sad and hopeful. I think this is the author's first YA? I'm not sure and I don't feel like researching. I definitely prefer her less serious adult contemporaries, but it was nice to throw this one into the mix. 🌟🌟🌟

13 to Life series (books #1-3, anyway) - Okay, so I'm definitely a different reader than I was back in 2011 when I first read this book/series. It's not as good as I remember, but I'm trying to divest my shelves of books I'm unlikely to read again or encourage my tween to read, so I thought I'd give the series one more go before eliminating it completely from my stacks. Also, I apparently never read the 5th and final book? That wasn't really my MO back then, but it's been the case in recent years, an issue I'm trying to rectify using my "so I can finish the series" shelf for re-reads and final books. And yet I still couldn't bring myself to read past the 3rd book. :( It's weird coming back to this series and realizing just how much I'd forgotten past book one and then remembering it and putting all the pieces back together. I still didn't love it as much as I remembered, but it's still kind of a fun guilty pleasure and I like how the author pokes fun at herself throughout, something I doubt I noticed upon my initial read. Also, my copies of the 3rd and 4th books are signed, and now that I think about it, I remember meeting her at ALA Midwinter back when I first got into the series, so despite my love for these books being less than what it once was, I still don't think I can part with them. And, hey, maybe my daughter will have as much fun reading them as I did the first go-round. :D 🌟🌟🌟

*ARC received from publisher for review purposes. This does not affect my review in any way.


The Anatomist's Wife - I've had this book on my shelf for ages -- I think the publisher sent it to me unsolicited? -- and it managed to make it into the donation pile without having been read. BUT, then I saw a Goodreads friend tearing through the whole series, and my curiosity was piqued. I went the audiobook route because, well, that's what I do, but I was excited when I saw that Heather Wilds was narrating. She's great at accents and since this story is set in Scotland, I knew she'd do a great job with the Scottish brogue. There wasn't much of that, to be honest, but there was plenty of mystery and red herrings and ominous foreshadowing, and I was very intrigued. If you're a fan of Deanna Raybourn or the Lady Sherlock books by Sherry Thomas, I think this series is a must-read. And I've only read the first book! But I've already got the next one downloaded because I can't wait to see what's in store for Kiera and Gage. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Mortal Arts - This is definitely a series that I'll be sticking out, if only in hopes of seeing Kiera and Gage make it to the altar one day. :D I love their banter and how protective Gage is and how Kiera still won't let that stop her from solving the mystery at hand. She's plucky and courageous and one day, I'm sure she'll get that gun she's been meaning to purchase. ;) Lord knows she's gonna need it if she keeps on her current path. I do wish there was more of an on-going mystery and not just a new case with each book, especially as the cases thus far have been a tad predictable, but even so, I still find these books suspenseful and captivating. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Claimed by Gods - I wasn't entirely sure what to expect with this RH story featuring Thor, Loki, Odin, et al. Would it be steeped in Norse mythology or based on the characters we know and love from the Marvel Universe? Eh. A little from column A and a little from column B. Or maybe the Marvel comparisons were simply my mind's own doing? Either way it was fun and that's my #1 prerequisite for a reverse harem story. But despite the humor and antics of the gods, this one still felt rather surface level. Sure, there's some bonding between the valkyrie and her cohort, but I just never felt connected to them or really their connection to each other. I'm hoping that the sequel really delves deeper because I'm not ready to give up on these characters yet...especially after that ending! 🌟🌟🌟

Scandal's Daughter - So, even though I figured out everything by the 25% mark on this book, I still enjoyed it. Even if it did remind me of one of my favorite Lisa Kleypas books -- or rather, the book that leads into my favorite. Or maybe because of that? It made me want to go back and read all the Wallflowers books, anyway. I actually had planned on reading book 4 in this series first because I saw a review on GR that claimed my interest, but then I also saw that the hero in book 4 was the villain of book 3, and I decided I had to meet him as the antihero first. It was a good call because I also really liked the main couple in book 3. I liked the case of mistaken/stolen identity, how the scandal fell about them, and what it all meant for their relationship. But I also can't wait to see what happens to Beau...the real one. :) 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Suddenly You - This definitely wasn't my favorite Lisa Kleypas book, but it wasn't altogether unenjoyable. Though the hero and heroine both are completely pig-headed at times and made me want to bash their heads together, I enjoyed their interactions when they were bantering playfully, but it was hard to digest the lies and omissions of hard truths. It just irks me to no end when separation or betrayal could have been avoided by the characters having a simple conversation instead of making assumptions about each other. To that end, I didn't love this one, but it's still got publishing as a backstory and Jack has swagger for dayyyysss, so it was still a fun enough read. 🌟🌟🌟

The Winter Duchess - Total snoozefest. It was too short for anything to really happen, but that's partially my fault for not noticing this was a novella instead of a full-length novel. But seriously, nothing happens. Girl marries Duke out of obligation. Duke marries girl so that he'll never fall in love and turn into his father. They end up snowed in at the Duke's country estate and well, you can probably guess the rest. 🌟🌟

Consort of Secrets - I think that maybe Eva Chase isn't the RH author for me. This is the second novel of hers that I've read, but again I just felt like there wasn't enough meat to the story, no real building of the bond between all of the mates, or in this case, consorts. No connection to the characters and their relationships means that I'm just not invested in the story. And though this one had witchy goodness and the other had Norse gods, that's not enough to save the story for me. 🌟🌟

The Hating Game - Whenever I'm in a slump, it's The Hating Game to the rescue. No book puts a smile on my face like this one. I mean, after listening to it for the 5th or 6th time, I wanted to immediately start the audio over again. That's kind of magical. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Elements of Chemistry series - This series was fun. Frustrating...but fun. Kaitlyn reminded me a lot of Janie from the first Knitting in the City book, and I kind of adored her even when she was annoyingly naive. Martin was a textbook bad boy but also a real softie when it came to Kaitlyn. For the most part. I understood his frustration with Kaitlyn and it lessened the sting to some extent. I love Penny Reid's books and how genuine they are but also how inherently readable they are. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Viscount Who Loved Me - I was looking for a reformed rake type of story, and this popped up under that category in the Audible Romance Package, though it actually wasn't the type of story I was looking for at all. I've read Julia Quinn before and I didn't hate it, but she's also not a favorite author. Her books and characters are just...meh. I found the same to be true of this set of characters, though I did enjoy the pall-mall game during the novel and again in the epilogue. The hero was just so back-and-forth and too unwilling to put his heart on the line and it was endlessly frustrating. I probably would've used the "mallet of death" on him myself. ;) 🌟🌟

Heartstone - As I explained above, I've been on a bit of a Pride & Prejudice kick this month. I usually resort to some P&P when I'm feeling sorry for myself. It never fails to pull me out of a funk, but when you add wyverns and lindworms and a warrior for Mr. Darcy, well, I'm feeling more and more like myself as I think about it. :D 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Stranger in My Arms - I liked the premise of this story, as well as the execution, though I still found it predictable after the initial meeting of the separated spouses. But the fact that I still found it engaging is a true compliment to Kleypas' writing. I've pretty much always found that to be true of her books, though: it can still be a lesser story compared to others of hers that I've read, and yet it's still leagues better than others in the genre. I'll admit that her backlist, including this one and the one I read earlier this week, are more comparable to other historical romance, past and present. The hero is to sigh for, yet the heroine makes all kinds of questionable decisions, leaving me to bang my head against the desk. The plot is kind of ridiculous, delightfully so, but the one true bright spot was Johnny. I'm definitely more forgiving of this book because of that orphan...also, probably because I listened to it and Rosalyn Landor is a favorite narrator. 🌟🌟🌟

Bet Me - I enjoyed this book so much that I went on Audible and downloaded all they had available in the ARP because this story just left me with that giddy, happy feeling I've been missing in my life lately. Maybe I've developed a sudden taste for chick lit. Maybe they're not all as good as Bet Me. I don't care. As long as they keep me from feeling funky -- in the bad way -- I'll happily read all of Jennifer Crusie's books. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Strange Bedpersons - Cute and funny with an opposites attract vibe and the second chances trope, which isn't my favorite but really works here. Predictable but still sweet. I liked the subplot, though I guessed how that would turn out, but I really loved Nick and Tess together. I could give two figs about Park and Gina, but it wasn't really about them anyway. 🌟🌟🌟

What the Lady Wants - This one was funny in a weirdly off-putting way. The premise was just...strange...and unbelievable in a it could happen but would it really way. But I liked the characters. And I liked the cameo of the couple from Strange Bedpersons, though the narrator for this one went a little overboard with the voice for Tess. 🌟🌟🌟

Getting Rid of Bradley - Again, not super plausible but also not completely out of the realm of possibility. I'm gathering that Jennifer Crusie's books would make for great made-for-tv movies, a la The Hallmark Channel. Assuming they haven't been already. I know I saw a Debbie Macomber book I read made into one around the holidays. ;) The main character was charming and quirky and the hero was rough around the edges in a sort of devil-may-care way. Cute and funny but weird seems to be Crusie's MO, not that I'm really complaining. 🌟🌟🌟

Charlie All Night - So, this is the Jennifer Crusie book I considered borrowing from the ARP while I debated whether to purchase Bet Me -- before it was part of a sale for $5. For some reason, I assumed the love interest was going to be younger than the MC, which put me off. But that's because I think of DJs in the present: as young people mixing music on laptops. Not the disc jockeys of before, what I think of now as radio show hosts. At any rate, I was wrong, and I ended up adoring this one. Especially how everyone took care of Samson, the puppy whose mother abandoned it. Also, this was written before the gay best friend was a thing and it includes a great one. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Cinderella Deal - If Bet Me is my favorite Jennifer Crusie novel, this is my least favorite. The characters were annoying throughout the novel and never endeared themselves to me...not once. Linc was so overbearing and Daisy was just bland, so very bland, no matter how the author tried to dress her up or make her quirky. And the whole fake relationship/marriage just really didn't work for me in this case. I needed there to be more substance to their relationship and it never developed. 🌟🌟

My (Not So) Perfect Life - My first Sophie Kinsella novel and it was just as I expected: cute and quirky and a bit awkward. I liked the reversal of fortune in this story, along with the idea that not everything is as it appears and that we all put on a front for the world. And I adored Katie and her attraction to Alex and her weird relationship with her boss -- not to mention her dad and stepmom -- plus the whole glamping business. It was cute. A little cheesy. But really cute. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

I've Got Your Number - So far, this one is my favorite of Sophie Kinsella's, and I say that after having read five of them. The story's a stretch but not that big of one, and I loved the sharing a phone aspect. Oh, and everything being flipped upside down, there at the end...definitely loved that. But it was also just really sweet seeing these two people from different walks of life coming together to help one another, though they were veritable strangers before the phone incident. Equal parts comical and sweet, this one definitely left me with a smile on my face. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Can You Keep a Secret? - At times, I adored this story and the characters, and at others, I was livid with them. And it started out so well! I mean, I still enjoyed it in the end but all of those trust issues -- well-earned, I might add -- and the secrecy, it made me reluctant to even like the love interest, despite my initial feelings toward him. Plus, it seemed rushed...their whole relationship. And I think I almost died of embarrassment on behalf of the main character. I don't know how she showed her face after that. She was definitely made of stronger stuff, that's for sure. 🌟🌟🌟

Wedding Night - This is by far my least favorite Sophie Kinsella novel but it still wasn't half bad. It was zany, awkward, and totally off-the-wall. I preferred the less crazy relationship that was developing between Fliss and Lorkin over the rushed thing that was Ben and Lottie, but I think that's the point. You're not supposed to like Ben and Lottie because Lottie belongs with Richard and Ben is just...not ready for that kind of commitment. Fliss and Lorkin are control freaks in their own right -- I can relate -- and they bond over their shared intentions to keep Ben and Lottie from the altar. Meanwhile, Ben and Lottie bond over their teenage fling from 15 years ago. I deeply appreciate Arthur's -- he's not important except as a wise naysayer -- sentiment that first loves should live in different places. You should never run into a first love because it won't be like you remembered it. So. Yeah... 🌟🌟🌟

Remember Me? - A fluffy, frivolous Sophie Kinsella novel this is not. It's got the trademark quirky heroine who's easy to relate to and someone you'd probably definitely want as a friend. But the amnesia plotline itself was frustrating and heartbreaking and just plain sad. The romantic aspect is a little off-putting, with the main character having married sometime during the three-year period she can't remember, which means she doesn't even know her husband...or the other guy who's claiming they're lovers. And then there's the whole thing with her job and how she'd alienated all of her friends when she became boss lady. But regardless of all that, I liked this story. I liked the more thoughtful and thought-provoking side of Kinsella's writing. I could've used an epilogue because this one was a little open-ended, but I've got a pretty good imagination. :P 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Have you read any of these? What did you think? Find any new titles to check out? ;0)

Until next time! Happy reading!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

So, I got sucked into a bit of a reverse harem vortex there at the end of June into the first half of July...erm, and further. I don't regret it, but I definitely should have stopped while I was ahead. It's a relatively new subgenre and there's just not a whole lot of good out there yet. And reading the YA versions made me feel a little squicky at times. Why did I keep reading them, then? Because with love triangles, you have to pick a side or a team, if you will, but with reverse harem, everyone gets a happy ending!

Okay, okay. But honestly, I read some real stinkers this month. More than I've read in awhile...or at least it feels like that. But thanks to my bestie, I did take a bit of a hiatus from reading for a few days to binge Younger, a fact that I don't regret in the slightest, especially since it made me want to get back to reading. But that's a post for another day. ;) I did a lot of re-reading again this month, too. Did those old favorites hold up? Read on to find out! :D

And without further ado, here's what I've been reading lately...

(More on why I've gone to this format here in lieu of traditional reviews for each.)

Y O U N G   A D U L T

CURSE OF THE GODS series - Honestly, I hesitated which section to put this series under. It starts off as young adult but veers off into new adult territory as things heat up in the third book, and it is a reverse harem fantasy. But the language is modern -- other than a few changes to "add" to the world-building -- and the characters, at least the human ones, are around 18. And they act like 18 year-olds, so I guess what I'm saying is read at your own caution.

Trickery - I seriously almost DNF'd this book. The main character was so annoying, so clumsy, so grating at first, that I just didn't think I could do it. I don't know that she actually changed much, at least not till much later in this book, but she definitely grew on me. And then there were the brothers and the curse and while it wasn't quite what I was expecting, it was actually pretty funny at times, which I really wasn't expecting. I'm glad I took a chance on this one.  πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ

Persuasion - This second book is where all the gods stuff really comes into play. And the world-building is less basic because there's more mythology to instill in the story. Also, the bond between the brothers and Willa really starts to intensify, which causes some problems but also means more of the humor from the first book. Also, there are five brothers and it was a little harder to keep them straight before, but this book helped with that. πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ

Seduction - This is why I should really do my research before just downloading a book to my Kindle Unlimited library. If I'd done that, I'd have known this was an unfinished series and I would have waited on the off chance that I'd enjoy it and want to binge it. Which I do but that also means the agony of waiting for the next book. In this case, that's only till the end of the month, and it's not like book 3 ended on a major cliffhanger. But still. There's going to be more than four more waiting. The reverse harem aspect was on full display in this installment, to which I say FINALLY. But also, I was happy to wait. I liked the bond that was developing between Willa and her Abcurse brothers, and it had to be just right before anything further happened between any of them or it would have just felt wrong. As it is, I really, really like the note this book left off on, and I can't wait to read the next one. πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ

Strength - Gawd, this series is just so compulsively readable. And fun. And sexy. I think it's the humor that keeps me coming back, though. I've laughed a lot while reading these books. I do wish there'd been a little more recap in the beginning of this installment since there was a bit of time between finishing the third book at the beginning of the month and reading the 4th book which released late in the month, but it came back to me quickly enough. Now, I'm just waiting to see when my favorite Abcurse will get his time to shine. ;) 🌟🌟🌟🌟

SERAPH BLACK series - This one is definitely more YA, with god-like gifts being bestowed upon mere mortals. It's not really mythology-based, but the Zev society hidden among humans does have its own mythology, if that makes sense. The summaries for these books just do not do them justice. They are a thing unto themselves and it only gets crazier as the series progresses.

Charcoal Tears - So, after trying several reverse harem stories and ultimately being disappointed by each, I wasn't expecting much from this book. Especially since it was considered young adult and I was searching for something more akin to the Alex Lidell series I read last month. But Charcoal Tears was really quite good! The characterization, the plotting, the pace, the lingering questions...all were fantastic and kept me captivated. I wasn't even through with this first book before I was downloading the rest of the series on Kindle Unlimited. Truthfully, I read these books back-to-back-to-back over the course of the weekend, so I can't really differentiate between them at this point, but they're good, really good: humorous while also tackling some really awful truths, well-written, and super-intriguing.  🌟🌟🌟🌟

Watercolor Smile - I think I suspected who the Messenger was in the first book, but this book cemented it for me. However, that made the creepy rhymes and cruel deaths no less sinister. The Messenger's efforts did manage to push Seraph and her bondmates closer together, though, and this is how I want to see this type of romance play out: getting to know one another, forming connections, and then moving on to the physical stuff. But it's been pretty tame so far, which I appreciate because YAY the tight-knit closeness of this group but which I also loathe because FOUR BROTHERS. Ahem. πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ

Lead Heart - In this third installment, you could just feel Seph's solace, the sense of betrayal and her inability to trust pretty much anyone. It just leaks off the pages. But you can't blame her, considering everything she's been through. I think Lead Heart is a very apropos title. Big changes in this book, but it's late in the series and I feel like anything I say might be spoilery. Just...if you've made it this far, you've got to read the final book. πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ

A Portrait of Pain - I am so, SO glad this was a completed series when I stumbled upon it. The only ones I've seemed to enjoy lately are those that are unfinished series and it's driving me crazy. Constant book hangover is no way to live one's life. Anyway...this final book was a big ole box of WTFs. The reveals! The sexy times! The near-constant refrain of how is this even going to work?!? I read it in one sitting, as soon as I finished Lead Heart and though I think the author maybe jumped the shark a bit here in this final book, I still maintain that it was a pretty great series on the whole. I did think it was odd that the author chose to showcase the mates voices in this last book, though. It was the first time you got to read from their perspectives, if I remember correctly, but it felt almost unnecessary at this point. The author did such a great job of introducing each Atma (mate) from the beginning and it felt understood how each would be feeling in the moment, so close were their bonds to Seph. Oh, and also, #TeamMiro. :D (I can't be the only one who likes the responsible leader. It always feels like that guy gets the shaft (ha!) because he's always putting duty above everything else.) 🌟🌟🌟🌟

MY PACK series - YA reverse harem series about wolf shifters that transitions heavily into new adult in the second book.

Finding My Pack - I took a chance on these books, even knowing the third one wasn't out and there's no fixed release date for it yet. That said, the main character's naïveté nearly made me give up in the beginning. A girl abandoned in a dumpster as a baby would likely be hardened by her circumstances, but apparently the wolf pack needed the innocence rolling off her in waves, so it is what it is. There are eight, YES EIGHT, potential mates in this series, and you would think that would get a little messy and hard to keep track of. And it was at first, but surprisingly, each guy really was his own character. I will say that the cliffhanger ending was completely unnecessary, especially having read the sequel and finding that there was an absolutely perfect spot to end at after only about a few chapters in. I almost didn't even read the second installment because it's been pretty predictable thus far...and yet, I let my curiosity get the better of me once again. 🌟🌟🌟

Keeping My Pack - As I said, the beginning of this book should have been the ending to the first, though I get that the author wanted to hook readers. There wasn't a whole lot of action to this second installment, but there was a whole lot of naughtiness. With eight mates, it was difficult to remember who got what and when, but it was pretty hawt most of the time. This might have been the single-most sexy book I've ever read...meaning there was so much of it and with so many different partners. But that's really all this book was, aside from another sorta kinda cliffhanger. I'm not even sure I care now if that third book ever releases... 🌟🌟🌟

SCARLET series - Re-read of a favorite that truly holds up to the test of time. πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe* - I've been waiting for this book for ages because it sounds amazing, but apparently I'm just not in the mood for it. Stopping at 16% and hoping to pick it up some other time. It's just not captivating me at the moment. I believe I started the audio on Friday before leaving work and I was just never compelled to pick it up again that weekend. Or since. So I'm saving myself the heartache of not loving it right now and putting it aside. DNF To Come Back To

A Dance With Darkness - Meh. About par for the YA reverse harem novels I've read thus far but definitely nothing to be impressed by. Really was just interested in it because fae stories are my forte. :P Undecided if I'll continue the series. 🌟🌟

THE REMNANT CHRONICLES series - Re-read so that I can re-familiarize myself with the world before diving into Dance of Thieves.  πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ

THE IRON FEY series - I re-read this series on audio because I was bored...and I didn't have any other audio to listen to at the time because I was paused in my buddy-read/listen of Legendary. Plus, it was available as part of the Audible Romance Package, so I didn't have to pay for it. =) Well, apart from the monthly fee. ;) At any rate, I always wondered why I never picked up the companion series, which features the main character's little brother, and now I have my answer. I just really lost interest over the course of the series, and it didn't hold up with a re-read, despite the fact that I remembered really enjoying this series initially. Oh, least now I know I can cull these books from my shelves to make room for others. :D 🌟🌟🌟

*ARC received from publisher for review purposes. This does not affect my review in any way.


The Demon Lover - I've never been a fan of Justine Eyre so I don't know why I thought I could handle her narration here. But even if the narrator had been different, I'm certainI would have still disliked this story. The main character was so dumb, so wishy-washy, and I pretty much loathed her from the beginning. The other characters were all so one-sided and transparent, which made the story even more predictable. I'd had this book on my Kindle for years and never got to it, so I thought maybe the audio would be the best way to finally get to it. Now I just want my money back. 🌟🌟

Stroke the Flame - So, apparently now I'm into reverse harem stories. Oops, how did that happen? This is only the second series I've started featuring that setup, but it's definitely my least favorite so far. When I'm reading a book about dragons, I expect there to be some Ye Olde language, some tie to a fantasy world. But the dialogue in this story was very much like you or I would speak today, and it only served to pull me out of the story more times than I can count. Also -- and I know I'm saying this as a newbie to this, erm, genre -- but I think I already prefer it when the harem members are already aware of each other and don't come off as stiff, unfeeling asses like those in this story because they can't get along. It also didn't help that there was such a lack of chemistry between the heroine and her would-be mates. At this point, I'm not sure if I'll continue the series. 🌟🌟

Hunted - This was so cringeworthy and awful and I don't know how I finished it. I think it's only because I didn't have another book already lined up that I did. It's supposed to be a fairy-tale retelling, but there's no world-building, no character growth, no romance. Just sex for the sake of mating, no bond or reason behind it except for an animal drive. And it was kind of gross. This is one series of stand-alone retellings that I will not be continuing. πŸŒŸ

The Sacrifice - There was nothing inherently bad about this book, but I just didn't connect with the story. Not with the characters and not with their supposed bond. It was just so much sex and so little getting to know the actual characters and it fell flat. I need a character-driven story, especially with a story like this where there are so many major characters, so that I understand their motivations and desires. I did appreciate that this was a fantasy story and the world-building was decent and that the language wasn't so modern as some of the recent "fantasy" stories I've read. But I don't think I'll be picking up the next book...unless I can't find anything else that strikes my fancy in the next little bit.  🌟🌟🌟

Shadow Kissed - Another foray into reverse harem but this time with much better results. If you like Supernatural but wish there was just a teensy bit more romance, this series is for you. One witch and five, yes FIVE, hot males all hailing from different aspects of the magical realm: a demon, a vampire, a wolf shifter, another demon, and oh, why don't we throw Death in there for good measure? Oh, and hunters -- not the badass kind like Sam and Dean but seriously sadistic dickwads -- are after all of witchkind. The main character has hidden her magic away after a tragedy nearly a decade ago, but it's time for her to come fully into her power and put an end to those arseholes. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Darkness Bound - This sequel was just as good as the first book, introducing a few new characters and giving some much-needed insight into others. It really ramps up the Supernatural-vibe, too. And the steaminess. *fans self* Neither aspect is too terribly graphic, though. At least, not in comparison to other things I've read, lol. And it definitely left me wanting more...I can't wait until the next book releases in September! 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Briar - This was not very good. I didn't expect much going into it, but still. Not. Very. Good. Nothing really even happens except that the female at the center of the harem -- who has an allergy to the sun -- discovers that her four new boyfriends are, gasp, vampires. The story was boring and cheesy and read like YA even though the main character is 22 and in grad school. But if you're thinking this means that I wouldn't be listening to the second book, you'd be wrong. Because I'm the moron who didn't have another audiobook queued up and didn't have time to search for one. πŸ˜­  🌟

Shadow of Thorns - At least this sequel was hotter? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  Um, there's a evil villain guy who gets a lot of play in this installment, and a lot of the vampire boyfriends' past is unearthed, but I'm still just not invested in these characters or this story in general. I don't read reverse harem just for the sexy times. I read for a deeper emotional connection. I want to see the bond and understand why it makes sense for them all to be together and for them to prove that it can be done without getting weird. And, like, none of that was really accomplished with this book. Needless to say, I'm done with this series. For real this time. 🌟🌟

The Hollow of Fear - Immaculate. The story. The characters. The mystery. All the threads, neatly woven and utterly unpredictable. Every bit of it was immaculate and perfection and ugh, I want the next book in my hands already! πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ

Heart of the Fae - Oh, this was a lovely BatB retelling. Just lovely. Except that when I downloaded the audio, I didn't think to check if the second book was available in this format. D'oh! So, now I have to buy the ebook of Veins of Magic and read it to myself. But I will because I'm 100% invested in this story. It was unique and full of Irish mythology, in addition to the Beauty and the Beast aspect, but was a bit more adult and feminist-minded than most BatB retellings tend to be. Not that I'm complaining. Actually, I should be thanking Goodreads users because this just popped up in my feed one day and I couldn't stop thinking about it, so I bought a copy on Audible. And though it appears that the second installment is the end to the BatB retelling, there are other companion retellings in the series...and now I want to read them all! 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Have you read any of these? What did you think? Find any new titles to check out? ;0)

Until next time! Happy reading!

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