Forbidden by Haru Ichiban

Summary

A promise of unbound carnal delights. That’s what her sultry, proud classmate Lei is to Sween. However, only known to her, much more than just lust binds her to this man.

Despite competing against a love rival which holds the upper hand, her carefree college days are full of laughter, but they hide a sinister reality: if Sween succeded in making his heart hers, being branded a criminal and relentlessly chased down by angels would only be the beginning of her problems. However, if only Lei loved her back, she would not mind breaking every law for him. No matter the consequences. Even if it meant living a forbidden love with a dubious future as she defied everyone and everything in Heaven… and everything she once stood for.

Forbidden is the first book in a long saga of romance full of sweetness and erotism, plots with substance, smart heroines, manly and sensitive heroes, morally ambiguous main characters, a mysterious supernatural world, detectives and lots of humor.

Amazon

Characters

This book is written like steaming consciousnesses every thought is on page. I could not for the life of me like Sween for most of the book. I found her over the top, obsessive, and obnoxious. I actually thought she was a very ugly person. Although later on I felt there was a clear issues with the contradiction/dichotomy between the virgin and the whore—a concept that could have been really powerful. Lei was a little easier to like because you understood he was ‘controlled’ by a demon. So his behavior, although ridiculous and cruel at times, was easier to swallow. I cannot say I liked Sween by the end of the book but I no longer disliked her as much either. There are a few supporting characters but they mostly seem to come and go.

Plot

Sween wants Lei. Wants to kill the demon controlling him and be with him. That much was easy to see. Think high school angst with mature content and a paranormal flare (interesting take on angels and demons). It felt like reading an over the top anime or manga. Sween and Lei are attending police academy and there were some very interesting facts there—almost felt out of place with the story at times, but well done there.

Overall

This book needs an editor—badly (just look at the two spelling errors in the summary above taken directly from Amazon). I rarely post this unless it is painfully apparent or detracts from the story and in this case it does. The first 20% of the book could be significantly reduced because I felt like I was stuck in a unexplained and unclear loop. Same information, actions, and no furtherance of a story. That being said—I noticed a significant shift after a scene were Lei drives her and a group (about 20% of the way in). It was the first crystal clear scene that actually sucked me in—like those bloody Buggypop were a hoot. Some of the nonsense was great and some of it was just…well nonsense. The sexy parts were decent but I had a hard time just because it felt like a fantasy (as in so far outside reality) so I ended up laughing instead.

The biggest redeeming factor for me was I could feel how much the author loves to write. I have a distinct feeling the author sees each character clearly in their mind and each scene is no doubt like a movie. There in lies an issue—the author assumes you can see what they can see. Which we, of course, cannot. It leaves a lot of context and description out. And just like that driving scene, there were some amazing concepts and ideas that really showed potential!

Rating

2 stars

Great concepts, specially on the paranormal side, so others may enjoy it but it was too unpolished for me.

Where did I get a copy?

Author provided me a copy. This review is voluntary.

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No Songs are Sung (A Mercenary of Palladia #1) by Justin Bohardt

Summary

What Profit is There in Saving the World?

A professional hired soldier who bears the scars and cynicism of his trade, Geraghty Milliner has love for few things in the world: a bottle to numb the pain, a lady to make him feel alive, and the gold that can buy both.

After his most recent business venture lands him in prison, Geragthy sees potential profit in helping a lord’s wayward mistress named Chiara escape from her cell. Once sprung from jail by his partner-in-crime Vrodath, they escort Chiara to the sprawling city of Aethene to collect a reward large enough to keep them in riches for a lifetime.

However, when beasts from a forgotten realm, demonic creations of overthrown gods, are sent pouring forth from a tear in the fabric of reality, the length of a lifetime threatens to grow perilously short, and Geraghty plans to do the only sensible thing available: get the hell out of there. Not immune to making some gold even amidst an apocalypse, he agrees to escort Chiara, her noble lover, and Princess Emilia, seventh in line to the throne of Palladia and a powerful wielder of magic, out of the city even as they are hounded by every beast freed from perdition.

What Geraghty does not know is that an ancient enemy of the free peoples of Geoserra, one thought defeated millennia ago, has reawakened, and it is Princess Emilia alone who can assure its destruction. Geraghty will need to make the choice between saving himself and saving the world, and the right choice seems obvious. What profit is there in saving the world?

Amazon

Characters

Geraghty is nothing if not consistent. He has a noble…kinda noble…somewhat noble streak. He is in a word—bad*ss. A mercenary who loves money, loose but fiery women, and strong alcohol. He is a mans…man? Lots of races in the book—most of which reminded me more of animals. With supporting characters like Vrodoath his equally interesting partner and Chiara a kept woman that is more then meets the eye. Rounding out the secondary support is Emilia, a very strong princess and mage. A great cast of characters—it is one of the biggest strengths of the book. The biggest issues I have, besides the ‘strong’ women being objectified, is the constant head hopping. There is no rhyme or reason, it just jumps around from person to person, even in the middle of chapters, which causes a lot of confusion at time. Thankfully most of the book follows Geraghty, but when it does switch points of view, it is often jarring and confusing, so be warned.

Plot

The world is ending. A big baddie thought long dead has returned. A hero…mercenary…on a quest to stop it. Nothing new about this kind of story, but the author weaves together an interesting tale that causes the characters to sling shot around. The real piece that sets it apart is Geraghty. Mini missions and mischief abound. This has an excellent, vivid kingdom based world with a medieval/feudal feel to it. Downside, you have to survive the first few chapters of info dumping, while the author buries you under an avalanche of information. Yes, it gets better but it continues. Also yes, it is worth getting through to enjoy the rest of the story. There were a lot of interesting themes throughout as well that feed into a bigger plot.

Overall

Lots of action—almost non-stop—this book is gritty. There is also some humor, most of which hit its mark. It doesn’t play safe so don’t get too attached to any characters…you’ll never know which one will just up and die unexpectedly. Halfway through was a real turning point for me in the novel because after then it started to flow and I got into a groove. The second half of the book was much more of a page turner, so trust me the rocky start is worth sticking around for.

I don’t want to give anything away but the reason this book went from a 3 star review to a 4 star review was purely because of the ending. Instead of everything just wrapping up, Geraghty had to deal with the fallout. Emotional, physical, of what he’d survived. It brought another dimension to the book and character, which sealed by desire to pick up book two and see where Geraghty’s next adventure took him.

Rating

4 stars

A cast of interesting characters, in a rich fantasy world, with almost non-stop action and an ending that left me wanting to read the next book. It is a mans-man book for sure, so keep that in mind. If you like DnD or fantasy video games, this will be worth a try.

Where did I get a copy?

I was gifted a copy. This is a voluntary review.

Solar Scavengers by Barry L. Marshall

Summary:

He just wanted to be a pilot, and then the scavengers attacked…

Solar Scavengers are considered a security threat to the Commonwealth. StarSec has hunted them for years, but the balance of power shifts when alien technology abandoned on Mars is discovered by a faction of the scavs.

This technology could benefit humanity, but unfortunately, it falls into the hands of a tyrant named Feng who plans to use it against the Commonwealth. The solar system is plunged into war, and now, the future of the human race depends on a young man drawn into the situation by a mysterious girl…

Amazon Link

Characters:

I struggled with the characters throughout this book. Stormy was probably my favorite, but even she didn’t stand out. Cody was written like the unintended hero. I never really connected with him. Cris was a good balance when he was added. I actually really loved the idea of a handicapped main character, I only wished it had lasted longer. There were a wide cast of supporting characters. Most of the characters seemed to instantly trust everyone…which made for unrealistic circumstances.

Plot:

The winning part of this book was this books twists and turns. Honestly it lulls you into a state of predictability and then throws a curve ball. I fell for it, missed the hint earlier on about what was coming. Despite that the plot was a bit all over the place. Sometimes it felt like it was caught in a feedback loop—trust, clever idea, successfully outwit…repeat.

Excellent and very detailed action scenes. It was the winning part of the book. I could envision each moment in my mind. They were vivid and excellent science fiction scenes.

Overall:

This is a Young Adult novel to the max. Over the top villains, too trusting main character that gets everything (nearly) right. So much teenage angst! Not to mention that everyone just seemed to connect instantly. This book has a tendency to tell rather than show.

The characters were a major failing of the book but they did improve by the end of the book. The plot was much more interesting but punctuated by more than a few surprises. The dialogue is clumsy and choppy—stilted in parts. There was a lot of potential in this book but just as much wrong with it. A good start that could easily be refined.

Rating:

2.5 stars (rounded up)

A YA novel with a Sci-fi backdrop. There is as much that I liked about this book that I didn’t. That being said there is more good than bad.

Where did I get a copy?

Author provided a copy. This is a voluntary review.

The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski

Summary

Geralt of Rivia is a witcher. A cunning sorcerer. A merciless assassin. And a cold-blooded killer. His sole purpose: to destroy the monsters that plague the world. But not everything monstrous-looking is evil and not everything fair is good… and in every fairy tale there is a grain of truth.

Characters

Geralt is kind of a jerk. However, he is a clever jerk with a moral code. He is tough and unforgiving. I adore him. Even when he is being…frustrating. Yennifer and Dandelion are both excellent secondary character. I know they will be reoccurring characters. Dandelion is hilarious and is such a contrast to Geralt that they make an excellent team.

Plot

As a series of anthologies they are stories—reminiscent of twisted fairy tales. Ones like Beauty and the Beast for example but with a different take. Where the focus is on the monsters and are changed in very distinct ways. They are all moving towards the crowning story at the end.

Overall

It was a very good fantasy anthology. The author has a tendency to info dump. It isn’t so bad if you’ve played the video games but if you come in it is likely overwhelming. It has gritty feel that is refreshing. The action scenes are well done and easy to follow. There were a few places where the stories lulled but overall were very enjoyable. I would say I enjoyed more stories than I didn’t.

Rating

4 stars

Very enjoyable fantasy anthology with a striking main character. I am looking forward to reading the next anthology!

Where did I get it?

I bought a paperback.

Lady of Justice by Cyana Scriptora

Summary

Anna can’t stop thinking about Prince Audax. She feels like she knows him in a way that no one else does. She spends way too much time staring at his portrait and she’s even read his most intimate thoughts.
No, Anna isn’t a creepy stalker.
She’s a historian and her future career depends on discovering the truth. Her best friend Liz is convinced that Anna has brought her obsession to an unhealthy level, but she refuses to give up. She is convinced that the answers to the mystery of Audax’s death are still out there, and the clues lie somewhere in that dusty room.
Anna is willing to do just about anything to understand what happened, but to solve this enigma she will have to travel a lot further than just her university library.
As she delves deeper into the past, the twisted plot is unraveled and it’s worse than anyone ever thought.

Characters

Anna is a wide-eyed, hopeful. She feels more comfortable with a picture of a long dead prince, Audax, and stacks of old books than with people. Liz is trying to push her friend ahead, to finish her dissertation, and join their (her and Alex’s) teaching ranks. I feel like Liz did some growing in this book but she needed more. I was starting to get impatient with her and Alex’s relationship. While Anna grew in confidence. Audex on the other hand finally was drug out of his shell. Anna and Audex were a good match actually, and that helped. The supporting characters were all great and the ‘darker’ entities were portrayed in a gripping manner. Very little head hopping but there were at least two chapters where I had to go back because halfway through the POV shifted. There was also a ‘love triangle’ but it was very one sided and, therefore, palatable.

Plot

This story followed two main veins: Anna being sucked back into time to try and stop the death of Prince Audax and Liz working to find out what happened to Anna with Alex in the ‘present time.’ Liz and Alex searching for Anna took its own twists, but I felt that the characters in both timelines came to conclusions that were accurate too easily. Their leaps into the unknown were just too convenient.

I didn’t like the fact that the author had created this whole big world, but didn’t take the time to make the modern ‘Terra‘ any different than Earth. I assume this was because the author wanted to potentially drawn a parallel between the pieces of Terra being another dimension of Earth. It wasn’t clear if this was the intent and so the present time period world was disappointing. However, the world building in the past Terra was expertly done.

Overall

Despite Anna being in her 20s, this felt like a YA novel. Not all of the scenes and themes were but overall that was the feel. The flow of this book was consistent. It was easy to get wrapped up in and turn chapter after chapter. This was the author’s greatest strength. The book never really lulled, even with the occasional info dumping. The writing was straight forward and easy to read. The story engaging. The one thing this book sorely needed was transitions—between chapters when they jumped between time and breaks when there were changes within a chapter. It was the only hiccup in the writing. The flow was easy and the climax was created to no doubt flow right into the second book.

There are multiple pieces moving. It took me until about halfway through before I put it all together. Usually I figure it out faster, so this was excellently done. Putting the pieces, and there were many, together into a big woven web. I don’t want to say much more for fear to giving anything away.

Rating

4.5 stars (rounded down)

What an enjoyable fantasy read. If you like YA fantasy reads with time travel, romance,  and interesting twists and turns, this is a must read.

Where did I get it?

I received a copy from the author for a review. This is a voluntary review.

Logres (The Future King #1) by M.L. Mackworth-Praed

Summary

Britain, 2052. In a world of war, disease and hunger the UK stands alone as a beacon of prosperity under an all-powerful ruling party. Life at new school Logres seems promising for fifteen-year-old Gwenhwyfar, and quickly she falls for the school’s handsome catch, Arthur. When Arthur’s rival, Lancelot, returns after a suspension, her heart is soon divided. Realising that behind the UK’s prosperity lies unspeakable cruelty, Gwenhwyfar sets off on a path to dismantle everything the government stands for. Suspenseful, raw and awash in a dystopian setting, The Future King: Logres is a story of identity and discovery against this backdrop, the second coming of the Arthurian legends.

Characters

I had a really hard time connecting with Gwen. I think if I was a teenager this might have been easier but I am not. There is a lot of teenage angst in this book. Trouble and high emotions. The two love interests of Gwen aren’t that much better—Arthur is self-righteous and Lancelot overly jerkish. However, they both have redeeming qualities, just like Gwen. There are a lot of supporting characters but the author does an excellent job not overburdening the reader right at the beginning and doesn’t make every character super cookie cutter. There was some head hoping throughout the book – so be warned.

Plot

This is where a lot of my dislike but also like, comes in. I disliked all of the high school nonsense. Some was good, like a spoonful of sugar, but this was chock full of it. I believe it was more to develop the characters than the plot which caused drag in more than a few areas. Not to mention the sheer length of the book. However, that was broken up by the dystopian aspect of the novel which was the real winner. Especially how the author pulled in aspects that are truly happening today and warping them into the darker side of what our nations can become. Thought provoking for sure! Then of course there was the overshadowing of the Arthur/Gwen/Lancelot story. I’m going to be honest that I actually really dislike the original King Arthur stories and there are very few remakes that are good. This one was a little more on the nose than was necessary. I would have enjoyed it more if it had been more subtle.

Overall

This book was longer than it needed to be. There were some interesting conflicts and points of excitement but there was a lot of hum-drum high school days that left this adult wanting. Just when those began to drone on too far, there was a moment of action or some more world building on the dystopian side that sucked me back in. It was even worse because there is a huge cliffhanger ending.

This is for sure a YA novel. There is way too much teenage angst for it to be anything else. However, I do see high schoolers who enjoy King Arthur stories and dystopian novels, gobbling this up. This is for a specific target audience, but those that love teenage dystopian’s should still give this a shot. One big win in my book for Gwen was that even though there was the predictable love triangle, she so far hasn’t given in…but this is only book 1…

Rating

3 Stars

This is a dark read that reveals a future that could be – drawing from what is currently happening. I appreciated that message. If you love all the drama of high school, plus the overshadowing of a dystopian setting, this novel is a must read. It just wasn’t for me.

Where did I get it?

I received a copy from the author. This is a voluntary review.

The Nowhere Gate – Cover Reveal

Hello everyone! Here is the cover reveal of The Nowhere Gate – book 2 of the The Gate Trilogy. I am so excited to share this with you and announce that The Nowhere Gate will be released one month from now – on August 8th. Keep an eye open, I’ll be putting it on pre-order a few weeks before the release.

Here is a glimpse at the back of the book:

The interplanetary gates originated from somewhere and nowhere.

Ki is lost on an unknown planet with no memories or body. Worse, an entity came through with him, something dark. It can’t hurt him, but no one else is safe. He doesn’t know how they arrived, but he knows one thing for certain—they don’t belong.

Elisabeth isn’t willing to leave a man behind, even if that man is lost among infinite possibilities. When Morhaven holds the answers to rescuing Ki, she takes Nanette with her to serve her term in the Netherworld. In turn Nanette must take a chance and trust a man she barely knows. 

How far is Elisabeth prepared to go to save Ki?

What do you think of the cover? Are you excited to find out the next step in Elisabeth and Ki’s story?

To celebrate this day, The Sixth Gate is #free on Amazon! Make sure to check it out: The Sixth Gate on Amazon.