J.A. Belfield

Author of the Holloway Pack Stories and other tales ...

Breaking Butterflies

I didn’t totally know what to expect from Breaking Butterflies by M. Angelais before I headed in. I mean, the blurb I happened to read for it was pretty vague—not that I pay much attention to them anyway—and the concept behind the cover isn’t truly clear until one gets to know the story/characters a little. So I went in with a broad mind and hoped for the best.

Well, turned out, the best is very nearly what I got.

 

In Breaking Butterflies, we meet Sphinx, a young teenager, as impressionable as her mother with a friendship she can’t say no to, and a connection she *almost* can’t control.

 

And the other half of this friendship? Cadence. Indifference personified to Sphinx’s eagerness. The moon to Sphinx’s moth tendencies. And quite possibly one of the creepiest characters I’ve ever seen written so subtly—so subtly, in fact, that even the reader can be left wondering if their doubts about him are imagined.

 

Enhancing this subtle writing is the voice of Sphinx as narrator. Because the detached way in which she relays the story to the reader is almost masterful. Almost as though looking back in a whimsical sense, a hint of disbelief in her tone at what, exactly, she endured, how they even got there, and what the outcome could have been had she not found the strength within herself to make it different. Also, I have great appreciation for this detachment extending to her recounts of Cadence’s behaviour. Whilst her actual descriptions of the character himself were glowing and vibrant and made you believe the yearning he instilled inside her, made him believable as a pariah, even, the clinical descriptions of everything that occurred between them gave the impression of mental and emotion scarring—the kind that resides within a person’s subconscious as a permanent tenant. It makes such a refreshing change for the ‘damaged’ character to not be romanticised, and Sphinx’s storytelling ensured a disconnection from him for the reader—rightly so—which helped take the story to a whole other level. And, although Sphinx’s voice sounded older in wisdom, it never once strayed from her age, giving such an authentic tone to the overall telling of the story and heightening the believability of what most would find incredible unless they have experienced such a relationship themselves.

 

I don’t really want to go into too much depth for fear of ruining the story for others. But this tale is about so much more than the blurb I read suggests. It tells tales of how parent actions can affect the offspring, of childhood friendships built on need, of bonds and family and sickness—both mental and physical—and strengths and weaknesses, of manipulation, and (perhaps the strongest elemental of all in here) how history certainly can have a habit of repeating itself—in a terrifying way.

 

I saw this in another review: “It’s like watching a car accident happen in front of your eyes. You want to look away but can’t because you need to know what happens next.” <<THIS (in a review by Kirsty of Overflowing Library) is about as perfect a description as I’ve seen.

 

So … love dark and twisted and foreboding tales that are so subtly creepy you’re not even aware that it’s sending shivers down your spine until it’s too late and you’re hooked? Then, you definitely want to check out Breaking Butterflies, for sure.

White Hot Kiss

So, I hear about a completely new series from Jennifer L. Armentrout, and then hear it contains gargoyles O_O, and think, aye, I can get down with that. Needless to say, by the time I got my hands on a copy of White Hot Kiss, I was pretty excited. I mean, I’d read Bitter Sweet Love and gotten a glimpse at what/who it would be about, so I headed in with expectations of hotness and bada$$ery.

 

In a pretty big dose, the hotness and bada$$ery were definitely present. Let me explain why.

 

Hotness: we have Zayne. He’s a gargoyle. He’s buff. He’s golden. He’s gorgeous. Hell, JLA even makes it sound like his impenetrable and un-malleable black gargoyle skin is something you’d wanna smooth your palms over. Dig me? But that’s not all. Because we also have Roth. Dark to Zayne’s light, bad to Zayne’s good, but equally as buff and lickable, this dude of a demon will have you wondering which side of the field you want to bat on.

 

Bada$$ery: Zayne is a defender of Earth from all that is evil. Booyah! Sign me up for a piece o’ that. AND Roth is a self-made permanent defender of MC Layla. Trillingling!

 

No wonder the poor chick don’t know whether she’s coming or going. Because, as a teen just coming into her own, she full on has all the confusions facing a regular teen to deal with, and then some. Boyfriend issues? Check. She’s had The Biggest Crush on Zayne for as long as she can remember, except she figured it to be unreciprocated, and so wallowed over said attraction in silence. And then she gets shown some interest from another corner and the girl just cannae help but feel a little wooed when those hormones of hers decide to go haywire—even if she isn’t sure how genuine the interest is. The real kicker here, though? The reason she’d never even contemplate going for it with Zayne and the exact reason she never entertained the idea he might be interested in her? Her ability (or curse?) to suck out a person’s soul with a single kiss—whether she really wants to, or not.

 

Man, there are so many intricacies to this three-way relationship, it would take me a couple K of words to explain, and I don’t really want to dish out any more than I already have on this area due to spoilers and parts of the book the reader should experience for themselves.

 

For those of you, though, who shy away from a love triangle, don’t run for the hills just yet. Pick up the book and stick around long enough to get to know the characters, because it’s far from a love triangle at this point. Though, I’d be lying if I say I don’t see the high potential for it to lead that way in the next book(s). But you should still pick it up and check it out, anyway, because 1) the plot is decent, 2) there is great character development, as well as great characterisations that will leave you guessing about different character motivations, 3) the dudes are HOT!, 3) the twists and turns are pretty neat, 4) the descriptions are great, and the sarcastic banter isn’t at the point of too much where readers are beginning to tire of its overuse in books, but is at a steady easily-digestible level.

 

The only downside to the book is the MC. I didn’t like her very much. Like, at all! I found her whiny, and juvenile and selfish, and inconsiderate, and sometimes pretty stupid. And even at the end, when she has the opportunity to be ‘something’, I found it too smooth and easily accepted by her, and the adoption of it too unbelievably addressed.

 

That being said, the minor issue I had with it is, by no means, a good enough reason not to pick up this book, because 1) Zayne and Roth are reason enough!!!!, and 2) there is massive room for some growth from young Layla, and I intend to ‘Watch this Space’ for when it happens.

Read on!

Dead Silent

I headed into Dead Silent completely unaware that it was the second book in a series, but the initial set-up was done in a way that meant I didn't actually realise I was reading a second book until I spotted its listing on Goodreads. On top of that, the relationships were solidly displayed to begin, leading to no confusion on that front.

 

However, I still ended up putting this title aside at 69%, when I realised I didn't actually care enough about the characters to find out how their story played out. I tried to figure out when, exactly, in the book this lack of connection began to kick in, but couldn't quite pinpoint it. Nor could I totally identify what it was that had caused my loss of interest. Because, to begin, I really enjoyed the fairly eccentric relationship between Poppy and Michael—until it began to seem inconsistently portrayed between their inner feelings and outward behaviour. Not to mention Poppy’s ridiculously stupid behaviour, often showing total lack of consideration for others—which only made her less and less likeable as the story went on.

 

There were a couple of other niggles, too—like her dad cussing the way he did, when he hadn't cussed at any other time and was supposed to be a man of God … and the constant use of OK over okay through dialogue and narration, which grated on me more and more each time I read it.

 

And then there were the students of the university, with their extreme attitudes and behaviour, and I couldn't help but think how terribly stereotypical it had all been made, to the point of losing any authenticity that could’ve helped hold this story together.

 

However, all of those complaints aside, I did read to 69%, so Dead Silent obviously must have some redeeming qualities, as it held enough intrigue for me to reach there. So, will I pick it up at another time and try to finish? Maybe. Maybe not. But don’t let my views deter you, because this story might turn out to be right up your alley, even if it wasn’t up mine.

Bitter Sweet Love

Seeing as I had a pre-order for White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout, it seemed only natural to nab the prequel, Bitter Sweet Love. However, this novella didn’t grip me quite as much as I’d hoped it would. Even with a short work or a prequel, I kind of prefer some kind of resolution to any issues that happen within—or at the very least, a story where at least one of the elements is wrapped up. In Bitter Sweet Love, however, none of them were, and there were quite a few. We had most of the focus on MCs Jasmine and Dez, whose childhood connection had blossomed to love. Except, Dez left without explanation right after Jasmine’s father declared them to be paired, and Jasmine had a hard time forgiving him when he suddenly returns to claim her. This I can understand. And I did kind of like the beginning when this was the main focus. Sadly, this soon fizzles out to make way for other issues, using an agreement the duo comes to for them to spend together as a catalyst for placing them where the other issues are. In here, we also meet MC of White Hot Kiss, Layla and are given the head’s up from Jasmine’s POV that she has a ‘thing’ for Zayne—also in White Hoss Kiss—as well as the hint right at the very end that there might be a spanner in the works to provide a potential upcoming love triangle. Around these, demons were fought and world building was minorly established. So, in short, I think the biggest issue was that there was too much thrown at the reading with no ends tied for any of it. That being said, I did kind of enjoy it, and I did want to still reading—but mostly only up until the point when I realised it wasn’t really going anywhere. Still looking forward to White Hot Kiss, though.‚Äč

 

Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott

Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott arrived in my reading pile during somewhat of a reading slump I was experiencing, as in it was taking me a week-ish to get through a single title (sometimes more). But when I picked up Fire & Flood and started reading, I very much didn’t want to stop. So, immediately, I was excited, because it’s been a while since a book has made me feel this way.

 

Now, if I’m honest, to begin, I kept comparing it to other titles in its genres: The Hunger GamesDivergent (though not for long), as well as titles in the sci-fi crossover like Maze Runner and the like. However, the more I read on, the more it came into its own and, by the end, I realised just how much of its place it deserved amongst these other great titles, because despite the similarities,Fire & Flood is still unique.

 

Onto the characters, we first have main character Tella. To begin, she comes off as quite self-centred, though if the reader is paying enough attention, they will see the peeks at how she truly feels about her family beneath the attitude—and even more so when she races off to an event she knows zero about for the mere chance of saving her sick brother. From there, her character development only goes up in the reader’s estimation. From start to finish, I connected with this well-developed and authentically-voiced teen.

 

Next to her was Guy. Le sigh. From the off, this dude had my attention, despite him coming off as a bit of a tool. However, I didn’t let his initial impression cloud my judgement, but trusted the author to show me what he was really all about beneath the brood and brawn. And I loved how we weren’t slapped upside the head with it. How his need to protect combined with his unwillingness to divulge meant we got drip-fed his story, and even then didn’t grasp the full extent of it until right at the very end.

 

These two combined, with what Guy has planned? The next books are gonna be formidable.

 

And around this duo is the rest of the cast. From irritating and self-obsessed bully, to tough girl, more mature-in-age contender, young and seemingly too naïve to be there young guy, and very likeable twins in the first round. Not to mention the new additions—and new revelations—in round 2, on both sides of the playing field. Because I very much liked the twist on a certain one of the characters, even if I did have my suspicions on that front from very early on.

 

Plus, on top of the cast, we have to mention the Pandora’s. I loved these. Loved what they added to the story. Loved how one that seemed almost faulty surprised everyone with its kick-a$$ery. More so, though, I loved how they each had special traits that didn’t necessarily tally with what they were on the outside, and how they surprised me each time we discovered a new ‘skill’ from them.

 

So, yeah, great plot, great storytelling, and great characterisations—all from an author who’s not afraid to kill people off. Now, ring the bell for round 2 (or 3, to be pedantic) already! Because I am definitely ready to head in.

Gretel and the Dark by Eliza Ganville

You would be forgiven, I think, for believing Gretel and the Dark by Eliza Granville to be a new kind of fairytale retelling. After all, the title and cover combined could most certainly give that kind of impression—and, indeed, had convinced me I was heading into this aware of its content.

 

Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Because what I actually found was not a simple fairytale at all, but a multi-faceted story within a story within a story, which was so dark and full of intrigue, I spent the ENTIRE book trying to figure out how everything tied in together. In fact, to begin, it was almost like I’d headed into a bookish yet expertly crafted version of Donnie Darko/The Butterfly Effect—you know those kinds of films that make you consider them long after you’ve finished watching them because they have the possibility of being interpreted differently be each individual viewer—except the closer I crept to the end, the less I believed this evaluation to be correct. And then when I actually did reach the end, only to discover I had absolutely NONE of it right ... it was, with all the pieces in place, heartbreaking.

 

That said, it doesn’t take long for the reader to become aware that this isn’t what they’re expecting, and the tone alone will warn of the dark and twisted content you will be subjected to quite early on. However, the actual telling of the story combined with excellently portrayed characters will entrance and lure and INSIST that you read on, no matter how much your mind is asking if that’s wise.

 

Told from multiple POV’s, which hop from timeline to timeline, Gretel and the Dark is one of the best-woven tales I have read in a long time—possibly ever! With the different characters, their backgrounds, circumstance, actions—everything—you will spend the entire book trying to piece together what, at first glance, appears to be one huge jigsaw puzzle of a tale; one of a blackened night sky, where the only variations to shade are the miniscule wisps of cloud, ones that shift and change with the breeze so that, just when you think you’ve grasped it, the tendril is suddenly out of reach again. Am I even making sense? Or maybe my words are intended to advise of the cleverness disguised beneath convolution that is this book. I’m afraid you’ll have to make up your own minds, as I refuse to delve into the who, why, where and how of what happens between its pages, because to do so would ruin absolutely everything there is to love about this one for each individual reader, and I shan’t be held accountable for that.

 

All you need to know is what I’ve already stated, and that this, my friends, is storytelling at the MUCH finer end of the scale. Because the wordsmithery (it’s a word!) within these pages is nothing short of brilliance made beautiful.

 

P.S. You will need tissues for the ending, because when your mind finally becomes filled with clarity, and you reflect upon the sadness, the conquers, the sheer content of this one, and then are hit with that heartbreaking final page or two, you … will … cry! So, off you go, grab your own copy, weave your way along these shadowed and twisted paths … but be sure to take tissues, because you’re going to need them.

Debt Collector Season One by Susan Kaye Quinn (audiobook review)

I was gifted a copy of Debt Collector Season 1 by Susan Kaye Quinn in exchange for an honest review. Seeing as I own every episode in Kindle format, and also the entire Season 1 in print, I think we can safely assume I was already familiar with the story. However, the audiobook brought something new to the table. Because I had a HUGE crush on Lirium whilst I originally followed him in his antics, and having a male narrator put vocals to Lirium’s story took the experience to a whole new level … or so I hoped.

 

In all honesty, I wasn’t sure whether I would enjoy listening to the audiobook. I don’t own any other audiobooks, which is due to the fact that, whenever I’ve tried out the samples, the narrating voices have always sounded too mechanical for my liking. However, Max Miller, narrator of Debt Collector, seems pretty adept at almost all vocal tones, making this one enjoyable experience. Female … male … he did a decent job of them all. As for Lirium’s voice? Oh, yeah, I was more than happy to listen to him for the entire 12-ish hours of Lirium heaven.

 

Anyone who has read my reviews for all of the Debt Collector Season 1 episodes will know how wowed I was by the world building and storytelling, and how wooed I was by this tortured and (naively) heroic MC. So, I really have little more to add on that front, other than to say whatever the format I’ve tried for this story, I have had hours of great entertainment and virtual/fictional company. The only minus that goes in the audio versus print/e-book match is the difference in time length it took for absorbing the tale. I can be a fairly fast reader, and listening to someone else tell you the story can be quite a bit slower than ploughing through paragraphs for yourself. That being said, it was also pretty awesome to be able to stick on my headphones, sink into my pillow in the dark, and allow Lirium’s masculine tones drift me into blissful relaxation.

 

Camp Christmas by J.K. Rock

I’d been looking forward to Camp Christmas by J.K. Rock for two reasons. One: because I’d had a taste of this dynamic duos writing before and trusted them to entertain. And two: because nothing quite beats Christmas reading like a Christmas themed story with snowy setting at Christmas.

Admittedly, this one didn’t feel quite as alluring as Camp Kiss and Camp Boyfriend, the prequel and first book in the series. I’m not quite sure if it’s because we switched to new MC’s and so had to start afresh with caring about new characters, or because this one didn’t seem to hold *quite* as much attention to detail as I’m used to from J.K. Rock, which almost made it feel as though we don’t get so much for our wordage in this one. However, regardless of this, or the reasons, I *did* enjoy this short novella.

Hannah took a little while to like, I’m afraid. Even though we’re given a hint that she doesn’t like how she or her friends behave, she still does it, and grasping a connection with a character who’s acting like a complete cow isn’t easy.

Luckily, this story has an ace up its sleeve, in the form of ‘King of Nerd’ Julian. From the off, we’re given a reason to like this dude. He’s friendly. He’s willing to see the best in people. He’s unselfish. He’s unafraid to be himself. And he’s (hats off to him) persistent.

Sure, I might’ve spent some of the novella hoping that Hannah doesn’t grow some balls and give him the time of day just to give him a reality call, as well as a narrow escape. However, the more we read on, the more we uncover the depths of Hannah (though I still don’t believe this condones her behaviour or attitude), and her character grows enough that we start to hope there might be some spark of something happening between them.

Going back to my earlier reference to this novella not seeming to hold as ‘much’ (not as much as Camp Kiss did, anyway)—I’m not sure if it was actually that this was the case, or just that it felt like there was so much more to be told. So, hoping it’s the latter (which it probably is), I would really like one of the future books to be an expansion of their story, because I really feel as though we need to know what we didn’t (or can’t yet) see.

If you’re a fan of clean YA with great values and underlying messages, then you should check out the Camp Boyfriend series, for sure.

Beasts of Burdin by Alexander Nader

Beasts of Burdin by Alex Nader is one of those surprise reads. A debut author with a tale about a demon hunter turned P.I.? One has to expect dry humour, a bit of sleaze on the lady front, and more personal demons of his own than he’s probably hunted his entire life. Right?

 

Well, okay, maybe Beasts of Burdin is a little like that, but it’s also a whole lot more.

It’s unusual for a book that isn’t by any means romance to make me have a massive soft spot for the MC, but Ty Burdin is one of those types who, despite all of his flaws and issues and attitude, you just can’t seem to help but love the dude. I’m guessing this is mostly to do with his sense of humour. Sarcasm and sardonic retorts are a major part of my family household, so I could 100% appreciate the tone of this book. But more than that, I loved his reluctance over everything; the way his brother was the one who dragged him into the mess of the plot, but then ended up being the one who was tagging along in support; the entire world building with the agency; the imagination of the demons and the execution of such; the plot itself; and even Ty’s aforementioned brother is a bit of smooth eye candy to Ty’s rough. On top of all these was Ty’s trusty and loyal secretary, writer-wannabe with a very realistic bent, Nora. She’s so vibrant and an overall great addition to this already colourful cast—and I couldn’t help but hope for a little spark between her and Ty. Maybe in a future book? I hope so, because they’re so good together, the relationship between them and the subtle chemistry are so natural, it would be insane not to.

In short, Beasts of Burdin is a fun read, with a great cast of characters, a decent plot, and will definitely keep the urban fantasy readers out there, who appreciate a bit of humour, entertained. Check it out.

UnnRDBB

UNNATURAL RELEASES TODAY!

 

Here's a hint at how I feel about this:

:D

Check out the goods:

Unnatural

Unnatural. One word to sum up werewolf Kyle Larsen—his mood swings, abnormal body, and choice of female.

The first two, he blames on the vampire venom. The third, though? No, feline shifter Brook Nicholls was all his doing—a female of whom the pack will never approve. As part of the Coalition, an organisation with even stricter rules than the pack and a rigidly warped sense of responsibility, Brook comes with a whole lot of opposition of her own. No wonder the two of them keep their relationship secret for as long as they can. Now, distanced from his family by his own indiscretions, Kyle’s left to fight battles he’s unsure how to win—some of them even against his own pack. Is one woman really so important that he’s willing to defy his Alpha for her? If his heart has any say in the matter, the answer will be yes.

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To celebrate Unnatural's release, CAGED, Holloway Pack 3 is on SALE!

 

The UNNATURAL Blog Tour begins tomorrow, and throughout the duration of the tour, CAGED will be available for just 99c.

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Giveaway is open Internationally.

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Christmas has come and gone and I always feel slightly deflated in January once the initial excitement of the pressies has died down.

So, I figured a good way to help conquer this would be to run a giveaway.

Yippee!

So, what’s the prize, you all ask?

Well, due to mood I’m in, I thought I’d pop out THREE prizes!

Below:

First prize

ANY ONE of the Holloway Pack titles in PRINT to ONE winner

Choose from any of those below

 

Darkness & Light by J.A. BelfieldBlueMoonResonanceCaged-Paperback-FinalDraftInstinct: Holloway Pack 0Eternal: Holloway Pack 0.5

Second Prize

ANY ONE of the Holloway Pack titles in EBOOK to ONE winner

Choose from any of those below

Darkness & LightBlueMoonResonanceCaged-Paperback-FinalDraftInstinct: Holloway Pack 0Eternal: Holloway Pack 0.5

Third Prize

ONE ebook copy of BOTH of the Holloway Pack Prequels: Instinct + Eternal to ONE WINNER

Instinct: Holloway Pack 0Eternal: Holloway Pack 0.5

Link to the Rafflecopter Form and entry options is below.

Commenting is not necessary, but, ya know, I loves me comments so feel free.

This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL!

Please take a moment to read the terms and conditions.

Hop across to ENTER!

Ends midnight January 26th, 2014

~~~~~

T&G for this giveaway can be found at the original post here: http://jabelfield.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/in-the-mood-for-a-giveaway/ 

 

SPOILER ALERT!

Waterfell

Waterfell (The Aquarathi - Book 1) - Amalie Howard

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected my opinion of the book.

Amalie Howard’s Waterfell is a unique tale with great world building that expertly blends elements from both supernatural and sci-fi. However, I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I should have, and I think that has an awful lot to do with the MC.

Because whilst the world building was clear, concise, and well thought out, and the writing is undoubtedly very good, Nerissa is an extremely hard character to connect with. And I’m going to try and explain why I didn’t like her very much.

- she’s so full of selfishness and haughtiness and, even brought up as the royalty she is, it just wasn’t a strong enough reason for her behaviour and attitude to be acceptable. Royalty can still be a strong leader without being an a$$ about it, and considering it sounds as though this is exactly the kind of example her father, the king, showed her, she still behaves like an a$$. Even when she’s feeling remorseful and worrying her father might not be proud of her, she still somehow manages to behave like an a$$. She treats her friends and what family (legal guardians) she has like poo, she treats Lo like poo … in fact, the only person she doesn’t treat like poo is her best pal Jenna. Fortunately, this singular believable, relatable, and redeemable relationship kept me turning the pages.

- there are also times in this book where she acts incredibly stupid. I’m not just talking about the times when her actions also seem to be driven by combined selfishness and lack of regard for anyone else’s feelings, because there are other times of stupid in there, too. One of the biggest ones, which I considered to be a BIG issue with regards to how the reader will view Nerissa’s intelligence, is [spoiler alert] when she first sees Lo at school outside Cano’s office, and he remains outside whilst she heads in … and her mobile beeps with a text … from him … and she wonders for a moment where he got her number from …. And this is the end of even thinking about something she *should* have been highly suspicious about. Even when she leaves Cano’s office, she doesn’t question where he got her number. Nor any of the other billion times they talk throughout the rest of the book. Unfortunately, this happened VERY early on in the story, which meant I spent quite a long time wondering a) when she was going to call him on it, b) why she hadn’t called him on it, c) how can she be so neglectful when she’s supposed to have her guard up, d) why has this been overlooked—to the point it refused to leave my head for the entire rest of the read, which was somewhat annoying.[end spoiler]

- the fact that, in her narration, she constantly reminds the reader in some way or another of her royal status, or her heir to the throne status, or I am a royal princess and all status … and I couldn’t decide if it was there for clarification purposes, but it almost came off with the vibe of ‘I’m royalty, readers, and y’all hadn’t better forget it’, which only seemed to enhance that haughtiness of hers, but it was like she was being haughty with me as well as her pals and family. Ridiculous? Mebbe. But I’m just saying how I felt.

- her redemption. Well, I guess after my griping, you might be wondering if Nerissa actually had any redeeming features, eh? Actually, she does redeem herself. However, it isn’t until right at the very end, after she’s wondered why one of her buddies has betrayed her (this is after she spent most of the book being a prized B**** to him), that she steps up to the mark—and I couldn’t help feel as though maybe it was too little too late.

Okay, not related to Nerissa’s character flaws that made me dislike her is another bugbear of mine.[spoiler alert] The book spends so long—and I mean right from the very beginning long—ensuring the reader is suspicious of Lo. When this happens, I want it to be wrong. I want the book to have convinced me to be so focused on the red herring that when the real ‘bad guy’ pops out of the woodwork I can be, like, ‘didn’t see that one coming, dude. However, the entire book we are led (with a collar around our throats and a vice grip on our chins) to focus our suspicions on Lo, only for Lo to be as dodgy as we’ve played him up to be in our minds. And because I’d got my sights pegged on Lo, I’d pretty much unravelled the entire ‘who’s behind the scenes’ of it all before we were even hit with it, too.[end spoiler]Which is a real shame, because there’s nothing I like more when I’m reading than to be surprised. There’s no chance of that in Waterfell, whatsoever. I mean, I’m all for a bit of foreshadowing sticking doubts in my head, but this was a smack up the face with what was to come right from the very beginning. Let me just say, though, that this didn’t retract from how much I liked Lo—because Lo is adorable, for sure.

So, now I guess you’re wondering why I continued reading to the end, and how I’ve brought myself to rate this one a 3 with all of my moaning. Well, for all its faults, Waterfell is a decent read. Ms Howard’s descriptions are TOP NOTCH. There was not a single scene within this book that my brain couldn’t conjure imagery for. From the ocean scenes, to the sea creature descriptions, to the action scenes—I knew exactly what was happening every step of the way. On top of that, despite the totally predicted (from me) reveal, the ending of this one with regards to the romance was unpredictable. And, although I quit reading the excerpt of book two I spotted in the back pretty sharpish, I saw enough in the tiny amount I did read to understand that I’m going to want to read on. Because somehow, despite severely disliking Nerissa for a VERY long time, I still managed to become invested in the characters. So, yep, I’m going to be continuing on their journey. If only for more of Lo’s adorableness.

Oaths of Blood

Oaths of Blood (The Ascension Series) - SM Reine

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this title from the author in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected my opinion of the book.

Okay, so I only just this minute finished reading S.M. Reine’s Oaths of Blood—the second title in herAscension series—so please be forgiving if my words sound like waffle.

Okay, before I was asked to review the first Ascension title, Sacrificed in Shadow, I’d only read the very first Seasons of the Moon book, Six Moon Summer, so I was jumping way ahead when I headed intoSacrificed in Shadow. However, I was very pleasantly surprised to find characters—majorly evolved characters—from that very first tale involved, and more so, I was happy to see Seth.

He may have been very mysterious and almost evasive in Six Moon Summer, but I still liked him a lot, and I liked him even more as his slightly older self. Which means, when I realised I’d be getting a decent amount of Seth time—and Seth’s POV—in Oaths of Blood, I was smiling, for sure.

However, I wasn’t smiling for long. Because Seth is so freaking sad, and it is very strongly portrayed inOaths of Blood, that the dude broke my heart. I spent most of my read pretty much focused on him, and willing him to make the right decisions, willing him to be okay.

Only to have my heart broken all over again—thanks to circumstances he’s drawn into by his lingering love for Riley. I’m not going to say any more than that on the matter because of spoilers, but this book has left me very sad with its (in my opinion) catastrophic ending.

Oaths of Blood, though, no matter how much Seth dominated it for me, wasn’t all about Seth. This book is almost busting at the seams with the size of its plot, and the expansive mystery to unravel, and the action and the darkness, and everything else it has going on. And not in a bad way. Because from start to finish, there is constantly something going on to hold the reader’s attention. Something intriguing and mystifying—that the reader really can’t help but read on. Even better? These books don’t rely on sex to hold the reader’s interest—they don’t need it, because the plot alone does a decent enough job of that. Plus, I love Ms Reine’s ability to world build. In Six Moon Summer, I loved the simplicity of her built world and the very understated tone to her ‘voice’. Seeing how much those abilities have grown from there to here is truly amazing. Ms Reine also knows how to weave a damn fine tale of what could easily be a convoluted mess into an easily conceivable piece of art. Sure, I noticed POV breaches in here—the fact they didn’t set my eyes twitches into motion says a LOT about how much the story drew me in—but Ms Reine’s books are, without doubt, some of the best-written self published titles out there. Thanks goodness I have the next title, Ruled by Steel, to read on.

Sentinel

Sentinel - Jennifer L. Armentrout

Trying to write my review directly after finishing Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Sentinel is probably not the wisest idea, but I wanted to get my thoughts, however random and convoluted, down whilst they’re still fresh in my mind.

I always worry about series’ I’ve followed. Especially if the series has been a consistent 4/5 star rating for each book as I’ve gone along. Often, with a series, the ratings usually start off lower and the last couple of books blow me away after watching the development of the author’s writing and plot-weaving abilities, and I tend to get nervous when the 5 star ratings come early on in the series, because I wonder where the books can go from there. They surely can’t go up. They’re already at the top. So then I can only worry about them going down. And when you’ve invested your time, heart and emotions in the first four books (+ novellas) of a 5 book series, it is majorly important to the reader for that final book to beright. To leave you feeling as though the closure is there, but without depressing or angering you on the inside. To be able to walk away with reassurance that everything is going to be okay for the characters without it feeling contrite.

Well, I’m actually kind of wowed by how fulfillingly Sentinel ticked all the boxes for me.

From the moment I opened the first page, to the very end, I was riveted. Yes, I read the book slowly and took my time. It was a personal order to myself; because at the very end of a series, whilst you might be eager to see how it all comes to together, you’re also not quite ready to part with the people inside the story that has managed to capture your attention for so long. Yet, not once did I feel bored or disconnected from the story, or … okay, let’s just cut to the quick here and say I truly don’t think I have a negative comment to add to this review anywhere. So, I shall just concentrate on the good.

Alex. I never disliked her from the off. I know a lot of readers can get majorly irked by attitudal up-‘emselves characters, but I didn’t feel that way with Alex. She has been a GREAT leading lady from the very beginning, and she remains that way until the very end.

Aiden. He’s just Aiden, and I’m not sure I can, or even need to, expand on that. Sure, sometimes his love and devotion to Alex might seem saccharine sweet, but for some reason it suited him rather than makes the reader want to barf. Because he’s just Aiden. And possibly the first guy with an inane sweetness v fierceness about him to this level that I’ve still managed to adore.

Seth. *insert big grinny face* I loved Seth from the off. I LOVED Seth in Pure. I Got irked at him in Deity. I wanted to punch his lights out by the time we got to Apollyon. Yet the entire time my feelings toward him altered, I still argued with the Seth-haters that Seth is redeemable, and that I hoped he would prove himself in the end. [warning: spoiler about to follow] Well, he does. And not just on the level we’re watching unfold, but he redeems himself when needed, and THEN SOME! Still, thanks to all the naysayers, and to my overly-suspicious mind wondering how he could be so freaking altered from one book to the next (despite his explanation and remorse shown over what happened to Alex), I spent almost the entire leading-up-to-the-finale time disbelieving he would ‘behave’. So, as you can imagine, I had a mighty big grin on my face when he did what had to be done and I pretty much fell for my Sethy-baby all over again.[spoiler end]

Now, I’m not going to go on a big ramble about every other character in the book, because I’ve covered the most important ones. Though, I will just quickly slip in how much I love Apollo in this book, and how much I’ve adored him throughout the series. But, anyway, some quick words on the plot, hopefully with as few spoilers as possible. The plot in this one is awesome. It’s pretty much what we’ve all been waiting for. It’s the stuff we’ve all be anticipating, and hoping it will be as epic as our minds have already played it up to be before we’ve even got there. And it was epic. Jennifer L. Armentrout definitely delivers.

There is interest and intrigue and excitement and GREAT action and mystery and worries and emotions running high enough to have the reader in tears, and amongst all of those—or maybe driving all of those—are deaths both the characters and readers have to come to terms with, some unexpected and awesomely entertaining additions to the book, battles and fights of the mind, heart and body, redemption, love, amazing character development … and that ending.

Because everyone knows we can’t just go through that epic battle and everyone jumps up and shouts ‘Ta-da! The end!’ Every reader who’s been following this series knows what the outcome is supposed to be for the God Killer. Right? So, I headed through this book dreading that moment. Because my thoughts were spiralling: if JLA goes through with this, then we’re going to end up with dead people we don’t want to be dead; if she doesn’t go through with this, the reader is going to be mad about the contriteness of making it not so—talk about convenient!; aaaaaaaaaaargh, how the hell can this end, other than badly?; ooooh, maybe this’ll happen, maybe she’ll play it this way, maybe, maybe, maybe … so, as you can tell, I pretty much drove myself nuts. Because the closer the reader gets to this point, the more the outcome begins to look pretty bleak.

Well, I’m not stating in my review what does actually happen. Or how Jen actually ends it. However, I willsay that I kind of hit the nail on the head with one of my musings, but at the same time, I was also very wrong. Sure, the ending is somewhat bittersweet, but it’s definitely more sweet than bitter and it definitely left me crying over those last 30 pages, but despite those tears, it definitely left me with a big smile on my face.

To sum up: Sentinel is a phenomenal closure to the Covenant series that will grab you by the coattails and not let you go until you’ve reached the very end, where it will spit you out the other side feeling wholesome enough to drown out the sadness you know you’re going to feel at having to walk away from characters you love. Though, I doubt I’ve said my goodbyes forever, as this is definitely a series I’d be happy to pick back up time and again.

Kudos, Ms Armentrout. Kudos.

Neighbors

Neighbors - L.S. Murphy

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected my opinion of the book.

One of the first things I noticed about L.S. Murphy’s Neighbors was how fulfilling a story it was for only a novella; it didn’t read for a minute as something only 65 pages long.

Rena is a great MC. She’s a little feisty from the off, a no-nonsense kind of gal, but not without her vulnerabilities, self-uncertainties, and on top of that she has a caring attitude and a great personality.

Living on the other side of the hall is new neighbour Riker—a marine. With physical flaws that contribute to his personality flaws, he’s also extremely likeable from the off, with the way he hops from the moving van with the obvious intent of firing Rena up. And from thereon out, the attraction is—infuriatingly, for Rena—set in motion.

I really enjoyed watching the developments between these two. Especially Rena’s character development we got to see with regards to her drive and business and yearning to succeed, which is worthy of respect. And Riker’s softer side we see when he allows his tough façade to slip is what will have readers wanting him to find happiness.

As to whether or not either of these find happiness? Well, you’ll going to have to find that out for yourself. And as this book takes less than a couple hours to read, it’s a great lunchtime filler, which leaves you all with no excuse. So, if you’re looking for some decent company to spend your break with, you could do a lot worse than Rena and Riker and this heart warming tale. Grab it, read it, enjoy it.

That is all.

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