ARC Review: Criminal Intentions: “It’s Witchcraft” (Season 1, Episode 5) by Cole McCade

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Author: Cole McCade
Publication Date: November 10, 2018
Format: ARC
Page Length: 205 pages
My Rating: 3 / 5 stars

Amazon | Goodreads

SYNOPSIS

An eerie ritualistic murder sends Malcolm and Seong-Jae down a bizarre path of the occult to find a killer–but when it comes to witchcraft, the suspect’s not the only one casting a spell. With Seong-Jae haunting his dreams, Malcolm is practically bewitched, his trust in Seong-Jae growing deeper and deeper as both men learn to rely on each other.

But when the murder triggers memories from both Seong-Jae’s and Malcolm’s shadowed pasts, will the secrets they share bring them closer…or drive them further apart?

I thought this book is better than book four. But just by a little bit. Seong-Jae and Mal have more scenes together compared to the last book, so I would say there’s definitely more tender moments between the two in this story. I’m a little iffy on the crime-solving portion of the story though. These books don’t seem to have a very good balance between the two. It just seems like everything got solved very quickly, very conveniently, and there was no real closure.

And I don’t know if it’s because this is one of those stories that’s just a little bit short compared to books I’ve read or listened to lately (all in the 400-1000 page range), so a book around 200 pages might not be enough for me. Yes, this is part of what will ultimately be a very long series, but when the mystery aspect is divided up in chunks like this, it’s harder to stay engaged compared to longer books in a shortened series.

The start of all these books are from the victim’s perspective and some are more gruesome than others, but this one takes the cake. I winded up skimming through it. You don’t have to read the first chapter, because the rest of the book will give you enough context as to what happened. This crime is particularly disgusting. and the truth behind it even more disturbing.

Note: The author has a very detailed content warning at the start of each book, and I would highly recommend reading them before starting the story.

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November 2018 Wrap-Up

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Hello, lovelies! Can you guys believe it’s already December? So, I had been contemplating doing NaNoWriMo this year, but turns out, I didn’t make enough time to do that at all and I’ve mostly been taking time relaxing in November because work has been super busy. I’m pretty much late with everything lately. So, belatedly, here’s my November wrap-up post! I did get to go to The Origin Event (a smaller, sister event to Apollycon) and had a great time meeting lots of romance authors! It was a lovely time, and everything felt very organized. I hope to go to another romance author signing, since I it’s easier to go to yearly YA author signings. ❤ Do you guys get to go to any signings? If so, which one(s)?

GOODREADS 2018 CHALLENGE UPDATE

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(Contains Spoilers) Audiobook Review: Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass #7) by Sarah J. Maas

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Author: Sarah J. Maas
Narrator: Elizabeth Evans
Publication Date: October 23, 2018
Format: Audiobook
Audiobook Length: 33 hours and 11 minutes
Page Length: 992 pages
My Rating: 2 / 5 stars

Amazon | AudibleBarnes and Noble | Goodreads | iBooksKobo

SYNOPSIS

Aelin has risked everything to save her people―but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. Aware that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, though her resolve begins to unravel with each passing day…

With Aelin captured, Aedion and Lysandra remain the last line of defense to protect Terrasen from utter destruction. Yet they soon realize that the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save them. Scattered across the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian are forced to forge their own paths to meet their fates. Hanging in the balance is any hope of salvation―and a better world.

And across the sea, his companions unwavering beside him, Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen―before she is lost to him forever.

As the threads of fate weave together at last, all must fight, if they are to have a chance at a future. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever in the explosive final chapter of the Throne of Glass series.

This is it. The finale. All the books have been leading up to THIS MOMENT.

Please note that this review DOES contain spoilers, so please only continue reading if you’re already read all the Throne of Glass books (including Kingdom of Ash), or if you just don’t care about reading spoilers. ❤

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Review: Where Death Meets the Devil (Death and the Devil #1) by L.J. Hayward

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Author: L.J. Hayward
Publication Date: February 26, 2018
Format: E-Book
Page Length: 394 pages
My Rating: 5 / 5 stars

Amazon | Barnes and NobleGoodreads | iBooks | Kobo

Coda: Smashwords (free)

SYNOPSIS

Jack Reardon, former SAS soldier and current Australian Meta-State asset, has seen some messy battles. But “messy” takes on a whole new meaning when he finds himself tied to a chair in a torture shack, his cover blown wide open, all thanks to notorious killer-for-hire Ethan Blade.

Blade is everything Jack doesn’t believe in: remorseless, detached, lawless. Yet, Jack’s only chance to survive is to strike a bargain with the devil and join forces with Blade. As they trek across a hostile desert, Jack learns that Blade is much more than a dead-eyed killer—and harder to resist than he should be.

A year later, Jack is home and finally getting his life on track. Then Ethan Blade reappears and throws it all into chaos once more. It’s impossible to trust the assassin, especially when his presence casts doubts on Jack’s loyalty to his country, but Jack cannot ignore what Blade’s return means: the mess that brought them together is far from over, and Ethan might just bring back the piece of Jack’s soul he thought he’d lost forever.

I love this book so much. This book is absolutely brilliant and I don’t think I appreciated the story as much the first time I read this. The story is told from one POV, but in alternating chapters of “Now” and “Then”. The two timelines are only a year apart, so there is a sense that everything’s going to turn out okay eventually when you’re reading the chapters set in the past, but there’s a thrilling mystery that makes you question HOW. This book is full of intrigue and murder, love and betrayal. There are luxury cars, a camel named Sheila, a half-Indian MC, and a cinnamon roll assassin. WHAT MORE COULD YOU WANT.

Trigger warnings for violence, mentions of sex trafficking, mentions of child abuse, mentions of drug use, and a fight scene where dingoes are shot and killed.

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ARC Review: The Cowboy (King Family #4) by Molly O’Keefe

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Author: Molly O’Keefe
Publication Date: November 16, 2018
Format: ARC
Page Length: 211 pages
My Rating: 5 / 5 stars

Amazon | Goodreads

SYNOPSIS

CODY

We have three rules:

We never see each other’s faces. We don’t know each other’s names. We don’t say a word.

But at dawn when she steps out onto her private balcony over my work site, we show each other… everything.

She’s My Morning Girl and the rules keep both of us safe.

BEA

Yeah, Cody’s got a lot of rules and I have a few of my own. But the minute Cody walked into the bar where I work – I knew I’d break every last one of them. That’s why I can’t tell him I’m his Morning Girl. I’m head over heels for that broken-down cowboy and he only wants one version of me.

I take what I can get from him: scraps of friendship and his eyes on me every morning, but soon the secrets and lies grow out of control and the only thing I know for sure is I love him.

And when he finds out the truth, I’ll lose him for good.

I love this book so much. I think this is the most enjoyable book of the series. I’ve been waiting for Bea’s story since The Tycoon, and this book did not disappoint. So, I haven’t read many books with cowboy MCs, but this book makes me want to read alllllll the cowboy romance books if they’re anything like Cody. He is absolutely darling.  I think this story could be read as a standalone, but you’ll definitely miss out on the background behind Bea and her siblings if you don’t read the other books first.

Do note that the series epilogue is currently part of a newsletter sign-up with Bad Boy Romance Lovers Book Club.

Bea is the third child in the King family of four. She is closest to Veronica, known as “Ronnie,” and has always relied on her Ronnie bailing her out of bad situations. Bea always has the best intentions, but always seem to let people down and she’s tired of it all. She may be wealthy now, but for fear of screwing up yet again, she doesn’t touch any of the money in her inheritance and works during the weekday lunch and happy hour shifts at the local bar as a bartender. And she meets Cody in a very unexpected way.

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Review: Check, Please! (#Hockey Vol. 1) by Ngozi Ukazu

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Author: Ngozi Ukazu
Publication Date: September 18, 2018
Format: Paperback
Page Length: 288 pages
My Rating: 5 / 5 stars

Amazon | Barnes and NobleGoodreads | iBooksKobo

SYNOPSIS

Helloooo, Internet Land. Bitty here!

Y’all… I might not be ready for this. I may be a former junior figure skating champion, vlogger extraordinaire, and very talented amateur pâtissier, but being a freshman on the Samwell University hockey team is a whole new challenge. It’s nothing like co-ed club hockey back in Georgia! First of all? There’s checking. And then, there is Jack—our very attractive but moody captain.

A collection of the first half of the megapopular webcomic series of the same name, Check, Please!: #Hockey is the first book of a hilarious and stirring two-volume coming-of-age story about hockey, bros, and trying to find yourself during the best four years of your life.

THIS IS THE CUTEST BOOK. It took a little while to get into the story, but then I found myself laughing and tearing up for no reason. I never read this while it was ongoing as a webcomic (and is still ongoing on the creator’s website), so the first chance I heard about it was through everyone’s IG stories and their packages from the publisher. I thought this story was for kids, so imagine my shock when I read this and it was very clearly for an older audience (at least teens, I think).

The main character, Eric Bittle, better known as “Bitty,” is starting his freshman year in college and has made the leap from being a juniors figure skater to a university hockey player. The only problem is…he’s scared of getting checked on the ice. As I understand it, that’s where players inevitably wind up hitting you on the ice to get the puck.

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Review: Fixed on You (Fixed #1) by Laurelin Paige

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Author: Laurelin Paige
Publication Date: June 22, 2013
Format: E-Book
Page Length: 231 pages
My Rating: 4 / 5 stars

Amazon | Barnes and NobleGoodreads | iBooks | Kobo

SYNOPSIS

Fixed on You is the first book in a trilogy but ends without a cliffhanger. Due to mature material, it is recommended for ages 17+.

Stalking and restraining orders are a thing of Alayna Wither’s past. With her MBA newly in hand, she has her future figured out –move up at the nightclub she works at and stay away from any guy who might trigger her obsessive love disorder. A perfect plan. But what Alayna didn’t figure on is Hudson Pierce, the new owner of the nightclub. He’s smart, rich, and gorgeous –the kind of guy Alayna knows to stay away from if she wants to keep her past tendencies in check.

Except, Hudson’s fixed his sights on her. He wants her in his bed and makes no secret of it. Avoiding him isn’t an option after he offers a business proposition she can’t turn down and she’s drawn further into his universe, unable to resist his gravitational pull.

When she learns Hudson has a dark history of his own, she realizes too late that she’s fallen for the worst man she could possibly get involved with. Or maybe their less than ideal pasts give them an opportunity to heal each other and finally find the love their lives have been missing.

It’s kind of shocking I picked up another book by this author after my very strong feelings on of her more recent books – Dirty Filthy Rich Men. But I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I did find the relationship in this book a little iffy. Do I support them? Is this a healthy relationship? In the end, I guess I’m okay with them together. I don’t hate them and I kinda like the love interest.

The key difference in this book that’s different from DFRM and even the spin-off duet books is that this story is told entirely from the heroine’s POV. I’m not sure if I just don’t like the author’s male POV’s and find them too…creepy, but I guess we’ll see because the author did wind up writing a book from the hero’s POV later in this series.

Alayna is a bartender at a club that’s trying to find a way to attract more clientele. She keeps her relationships on the safe side these days but picking men she won’t get attached to, and that’s fine with her. She’s had problems in the past where she would stalk her ex-boyfriends, or even her one night stands. She has restraining orders against her, but she’s worked hard to work through her obsessive disorder and she’s very aware now of what she does at all times.

Well, enter Hudson Pierce. She’s the new owner at the club she works at and Alayna finds herself dangerously attracted to the man. Little does he know that he feels the same way about her.

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Audiobook Review: Pretty Pretty Boys (Hazard and Somerset #1) by Gregory Ashe

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Author: Gregory Ashe
Narrator: Tristan James
Publication Date: November 17, 2017
Format: Audiobook
Audiobook Length: 12 hours and 58 minutes
Page Length: 541 pages
My Rating: 2 / 5 stars

Amazon | AudibleBarnes and NobleGoodreads | iBooks | Kobo

SYNOPSIS

After Emery Hazard loses his job as a detective in Saint Louis, he heads back to his hometown–and to the local police force there. Home, though, brings no happy memories, and the ghosts of old pain are very much alive in Wahredua. Hazard’s new partner, John-Henry Somerset, had been one of the worst tormentors, and Hazard still wonders what Somerset’s role was in the death of Jeff Langham, Hazard’s first boyfriend.

When a severely burned body is discovered, Hazard finds himself drawn deeper into the case than he expects. Determining the identity of the dead man proves impossible, and solving the murder grows more and more unlikely. But as the city’s only gay police officer, Hazard is placed at the center of a growing battle between powerful political forces. To his surprise, Hazard finds an unlikely ally in his partner, the former bully. And as they spend more time together, something starts to happen between them, something that Hazard can’t–and doesn’t want–to explain.

The discovery of a second mutilated corpse, though, reveals clues that the two murders are linked, and as Hazard gets closer to answers, he uncovers a conspiracy of murder and betrayal that goes deeper–and closer to home–than he could ever expect.

So. This book. I shelved this book into my DNF pile the first time I tried to read it. Later, I saw that Tristan James did the narration (he also narrates Layla Reyne’s Agents Irish and Whiskey books) and since I’m a sucker for m/m romantic suspense books, I decided to give this one another shot.

And then I remembered all the reasons WHY I shelved this away in the first place.

I will admit that the story between Hazard and Somers does get slightly better after reading the entire book, but it is a long and painful journey where I’m not sure the payoff is worth it at the moment. If ever there were books that needed content warnings, it would be Gregory Ashe’s books. I mentioned this before with Mr. Big Empty (which is a book I LOVED) and I’ll say it again here. These books appear to be self-published and there is zero reason why there can’t be a content warnings page at the start of the book and/or the author’s website.

Trigger warnings include (might not be all, but what I remember): bullying (using knife to carve into skin and pushing a teen down a flight of stairs), mentions of suicide, sexual assault, mentions of rape, racism, antisemitism, homomisia, transmisia, self-hate, mentions of drug use, alcoholism, and violent murders. There’s also cheating, but not between the main characters.

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Review: Save of the Game (Scoring Chances #2) by Avon Gale

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Author: Avon Gale
Publication Date: January 29, 2016
Format: E-Book
Page Length: 200 pages
My Rating: 3 / 5 stars

Amazon | Barnes and NobleGoodreads | iBooks | Kobo

SYNOPSIS

After last season’s heartbreaking loss to his hockey team’s archrival, Jacksonville Sea Storm goalie Riley Hunter is ready to let go of the past and focus on a winning season. His new roommate, Ethan Kennedy, is a loud New Yorker with a passion for social justice that matches his role as the team’s enforcer. The quieter Riley is attracted to Ethan and has no idea what to do about it.

Ethan has no hesitations. As fearless as his position demands, he rushes into things without much thought for the consequences.Though they eventually warm to their passionate new bond, it doesn’t come without complications. While trying to financially help Ethan, Riley must hide his family’s wealth so as not to hurt Ethan’s immense pride. For their relationship to work, Ethan will need to learn when to keep the gloves on and let someone help him—and Riley will have to learn it’s okay to let someone past his defenses.

I thought this book was…okay? I do like it more than Breakaway. There wasn’t anything in particular that I would say that I loved about the story or the characters, but I didn’t hate it? It wasn’t particularly heavy on angst, even though it could have gone in that direction, and there wasn’t all that much hockey for a hockey romance. Soooo this was just an okay book for me.

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October 2018 Wrap-Up

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Hello, lovelies! Happy Halloween! It’s also the eve of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)! Are you guys ready? I’m not ready. At all. We’ll see how November goes. It’s been a very, VERY busy month, so I’m surprised I read anything at all? I got to attend Texas Teen Book Fest, TweensRead, Texas Renaissance Festival, Texas Book Festival, and got to see Wicked (again) this month! But forget being prepared for NaNo this year. How has your month been?

GOODREADS 2018 CHALLENGE UPDATE

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