Category: Reviews

Review: Shield-Maiden: Under the Hunter’s Moon by Melanie Karsak

Posted April 21, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Shield-Maiden: Under the Hunter’s Moon by Melanie KarsakReviewer: Holly
Shield Maiden Under the Hunter's Moon by Melanie Karsak
Series: The Road to Valhalla #2
Also in this series: Shield Maiden Under the Howling Moon
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: May 21, 2020
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 460
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

When the gods play in mortals’ lives, the only certain outcome is uncertainty. Especially when that god is Loki.

In the course of a night, I found out my entire life was a lie. Now, Yrsa, Eydis, and I will set off to recover Tyrfing. I must leave Dalr—and the dream I’d shared with Hofund—behind. Eydis is sure the gods have plans for me. I hope she’s right. For on the distant island of Bolmsö, the last of my father’s line is besieged by enemies, and only the blood of a berserker can make things right again.

Hervor has been treated poorly by her grandfather the jarl her entire life. Now she has finally learned the truth of her parentage and sets off to seek Tyrfing, a dwarven blade that will prove her lineage. Masquerading as Hervarth, a young male, she and Yrsa, her mother-not-mother, travel to the island of Bolmso, where Hervor meets her family and tries to earn her place with them. There she learns what it means to be a family, and how healthy a clan can be under the right kind of leadership.

The first 1/4 or so of this book was pretty slow for me. I had a hard time staying focused on the story. Around the 30% mark things picked up, but there was still a lot of unnecessary filler in the novel. I really enjoyed the people of Bolmso, the wolves, the magic of the Isle and the way the Gods talk to Hervor. As a whole, I enjoyed the story and I really like Hervor. I did have a hard time with how she was determined to find the sword no matter what. Even when warned against it, she was set on her course and that was that. Still, I like her. I was glad to see her change and grow under her grandfather. I was also happy to see Leif and Hofund return.

I am enjoying Hervor’s journey, and I can’t wait to see where things go next.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

The Road to Valhalla

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Review: Come to Me Quietly by A.L. Jackson

Posted April 19, 2021 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Come to Me Quietly by A.L. JacksonReviewer: Casee
Come to Me Quietly by A. L. Jackson
Series: Closer to You #1
Publisher: NAL
Publication Date: January 7, 2014
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

Aleena Moore is content with her life. She has goals and dreams and an easy smile. She also has a secret she holds locked inside.

Jared Holt believes he doesn’t deserve to love or be loved. He destroys everything he touches. Haunted by the mistake that shattered his life, he’s fled from the memory of that pain.

Jared doesn’t know why he’s compelled to return, but finds himself drawn back to the place where it all began. The exact place where it ended. When he runs into his childhood best friend, Aleena’s older brother Christopher, he agrees to share Christopher and Aleena’s apartment while he looks for a place of his own.

Aleena is no longer the little girl Jared remembers from his past and evokes feelings in him he never wanted to feel again. Terrified of destroying her, he fights to keep her away. But her touch is something he can’t resist—the touch that sealed his fate.

Their pasts are intertwined and their futures uncertain. The only truths they know are the secrets they whisper in the night.

Jared Holt believes that he doesn’t deserve anything good in his life. Jared goes through the motions, but he’s been dead inside since the day he lost his mother. When he runs into Christopher Moore, his best friend while growing up, he can’t turn down his offer to stay with him and his sister. Jared doesn’t know why he’s come back to the place that haunts him. Then he sees her. Aleena Moore. Aly. The little girl that followed him around and he protected when she was younger is all grown up. Jared knows that it’s wrong to feel any attraction toward his best friend’s sister, but he can’t stop. Especially when they start meeting up in her room in the middle of the night just to talk.

Aly has always loved Jared. He left town when she was just fourteen, but she had loved him longer than that. Aly has loved Jared her entire life. She never expected to see him again, so when he turns up at the apartment she shares with her brother, she looks at it like it’s a gift. Until she starts getting to know him again, Aly doesn’t realize how scarred and tortured Jared is from the inside out. He blames himself for his mother’s death and has told himself that he doesn’t get to be happy. On the contrary, he needs to honor his mom the only way he knows how. By punishing himself. Night after night as they lay in her bed talking, Aly tries to get Jared to open up about that day so long ago.

As Jared and Aly become closer day-by-day, Jared realizes that he can never have what he wants. He can never have Aly. All he’s earned is a lifetime of misery. Aly makes him want to believe, but he knows he has to do his penance. Jared doesn’t get Aly and it kills him that he never will. When he leaves her, he expects to feel righteous for doing the right thing. What he comes to find out about himself is that he can’t give Aly up even if it means dishonoring his mom’s memory.

Oh my heart. It hurt while I was reading this book. Jared is one of the most tortured heroes I have read. He blames himself for something that happened when he was sixteen and has never recovered. He’s been in jail, lost his father, mother, and sister and if he doesn’t get his shit together, he will lose Aly. This book was so angsty. If you don’t like angst, I highly suggest passing this book up. I could only read for ten minutes at a time because this book was so incredibly emotional. A.L. Jackson has surpassed all my expectations, only getting better with each book I read.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5.

Closer to You

four-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Throwback Thursday Review: Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart by Sarah McLean

Posted April 15, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 4 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart by Sarah McLeanReviewer: Holly
Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart (Love By Numbers, #3) by Sarah MacLean
Series: Love by Numbers #3
Also in this series: Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord (Love By Numbers, #2), Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord (Love By Numbers, #2), Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart (Love By Numbers, #3), Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart (Love By Numbers, #3), Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (Love By Numbers, #1)
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: April 26th 2011
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

She lives for passion.
Bold, impulsive, and a magnet for trouble, Juliana Fiori is no simpering English miss. She refuses to play by society's rules: she speaks her mind, cares nothing for the approval of the ton, and can throw a punch with remarkable accuracy. Her scandalous nature makes her a favorite subject of London's most practiced gossips . . . and precisely the kind of woman The Duke of Leighton wants far far away from him.
He swears by reputation.
Scandal is the last thing Simon Pearson has room for in his well-ordered world. The Duke of Disdain is too focused on keeping his title untainted and his secrets unknown. But when he discovers Juliana hiding in his carriage late one evening—risking everything he holds dear—he swears to teach the reckless beauty a lesson in propriety. She has other plans, however; she wants two weeks to prove that even an unflappable duke is not above passion.

This review was originally posted on April 27, 2011.

I was somewhat disappointed with the 2nd book in this series, Ten Ways to be Adored When Landing a Lord, but this was much more on par with MacLean’s first release, Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake. I really enjoyed it. The characters came across well and the storyline was lively and fun.

Juliana has been feeling like an outcast since she left Italy to live with her brothers in England. The English are so reserved, so passionless. She longs for the day when she can leave and go back to Italy. Except..she can’t quite get over this small attraction she has to Simon Pearson, The Duke of Leighton. She shouldn’t be interested in him, he’s haughty and cold..except when he’s not. She wants to break through that icy exterior to find the heat beneath.

Simon is in a desperate rush to save his family reputation. Thanks to a reckless act by his sister, he must marry as quickly as possible – to someone with unimpeachable character. The frustrating Juliana Fiori is about as far as he can get from propriety. But when she stows-away in his carriage he has a hard time resisting temptation. Especially once she throws down a challenge – daring him to unleash the passion inside him. But Juliana doesn’t understand what’s at stake – passion could ruin his entire family.

Simon and Juliana have been dancing around each other since the first book. It seemed there was more to him than The Duke of Disdain, but he proved us wrong in the second book with his actions toward his sister. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this novel. While there were times I wanted to kosh him over the head with a chamberpot, I eventually came to love him just as much as Juliana did. The weight of his responsibilities sat very heavily on him, which made him a more likable character.

With Juliana, I was worried she’d be one of the harebrained women who acted first and thought later..but that wasn’t really the case. Yes, she wanted passion, but she wasn’t reckless. And most of the scandals she found herself wrapped up in – or almost scandals – were not of her making. Her attraction to Simon frustrated her, but she wasn’t afraid to confront him about it. I think that’s what I loved best about her..she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, or tell others what she wanted. Simon might have been a stick-in-the-mud, but Juliana called him on it.

They had chemistry in spades, but as we all know, chemistry isn’t enough. I think MacLean did a good job of showcasing that for us here. Yes, they were attracted to each other, but duty and honor played a large part in their actions. So did friendship and mutual respect. They really came to rely on one another, which was touching.

I’m disappointed that MacLean didn’t tie up all the loose ends. Since this is to be the end of the series I expected everything would be cleared up. Why did she bother to introduce Juliana’s mother into the story if she was going to leave it unresolved?

Despite a few issues, overall this was a fun, sexy read. I found the story engrossing and the characters flawed but lovable.

4.5 out of 5

Love By Numbers

four-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Review: Shield-Maiden: Under the Howling Moon by Melanie Karsak

Posted April 14, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Shield-Maiden: Under the Howling Moon by Melanie KarsakReviewer: Holly
Shield Maiden Under the Howling Moon by Melanie Karsak
Series: The Road to Valhalla #1
Also in this series: Shield Maiden Under the Hunter's Moon
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: February 25, 2020
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 272
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Chosen by Odin. Destined for Valhalla.
In my dreams, Odin whispers to me.
He tells me I’m destined to wield a legendary sword.
He tells me my road will bring me to Valhalla.

But when I wake, I’m only Hervor. Fatherless. Unloved. Unwanted. Jarl Bjartmar, my grandfather, calls me cursed. My mother, her memories stolen by the gods, has forgotten me. Everyone tells me I should have been left to the wolves, but no one will tell me why.

None but Eydis, a thrall with völva magic, believes I’m meant for a greater destiny. Yet who can believe a devotee of Loki?

When the king and his son arrive for the holy blót, the runes begin to fall in my favor. A way forward may lie in the handsome Viking set on winning my heart, but only if I unravel the mystery hanging over me first.

Fans of Vikings, The Last Kingdom, and The Mists of Avalon will relish Shield Maiden: Under the Howling Moon. This sweeping Viking Historical Fantasy retells the Norse Hervarar Saga, depicting the life of the shieldmaiden Hervor, the inspiration for J. R. R. Tolkien’s Éowyn.

I fell in love with Lagertha, a character in the History Channel’s show Vikings. The description of this book made it sound like the MC was a young Lagertha, which really appealed to me. I found that to be pretty accurate.

Hervor is an outcast, unwanted and unloved by almost all. In her dreams Odin tells her she is destined for great things, but she can’t believe it. Not when things are so bleak while she’s awake. When the King and his son come to their village, Hervor wants more than anything to accept the destiny she’s always dreamed of, but her grandfather the jarl has other plans for her.

I’ve read a few of Karsak’s steampunk novellas and enjoyed them, but not as much as this full-length novel. The writing is engaging and I really came to love Hervor, her companion Eydis, and others from her clan. Hervor is a fierce warrior, loyal and protective. Karsak really brought her to life. I also enjoyed the world-building and mythology. It did drag a bit in the middle, but overall it was a lovely read. I’m looking forward to continuing the series.

Rating: 4 out of 5

The Road to Valhalla

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Review: Monster by Jessica Gadziala

Posted April 12, 2021 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Monster by Jessica GadzialaReviewer: Casee
Monster by Jessica Gadziala
Series: Savages #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: December 2, 2015
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 316
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2021 Goodreads Challenge, Casee's 2021 New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

Alex has had one mission since she was sixteen: destroy the man who destroyed her life. And all was going to plan until one night, a huge mammoth of a man breaks into her apartment and kidnaps her,holding her hostage for the very man she was bent on bringing down.

Breaker has one rule: he doesn't deal in women. But when he's conned into a job for the city's most ruthlesscrime lord, he finds himself in charge of a fiery-temperedhacker who he can't seem to keep his hands off of.

When passions ignite and feelings emerge, will Breaker beable to reconcile his loyalties before it is too late or will their shaky foundation of trust start crumbling beneaththeir feet?

This is a stand alone with a HEA.

* This book may not be "Safety Gang" safe. There is no cheating/ abuse/ triangle triggers, but there is a "bad guy" who is a known rapist (though the rape is not expressly detailed and does NOT happen to the h).

I’ve been really into MC romances recently. My quest to find a new MC series to start led me to Jessica Gadziala. This isn’t an MC romance, but there are connected characters and this book came out before the MC series started. Or that’s what I think, anyway.

Breaker is someone who gets things done for people. For a price. Certain things he has done aren’t exactly legal. He has always had one rule: no women. He doesn’t deal with women at all. He doesn’t consider them fair game like he considers men. He’s forced to take a job that he doesn’t want, but to turn it down could mean he dies. So he takes what he hopes will be the only job for this particular crime lord. It seems like an easy job. Pick up some hacker named Alex and hold him until Lex (crime lord) is ready to take him off Breaker’s hands. Unfortunately nothing goes according to plan.

Breaker is furious when he realizes that Alex is a woman, not a man. It’s well known through the crime world that Breaker doesn’t deal in women. Sadly for Breaker, he has no choice but to kidnap Alex. Now he is waiting to hear his instructions from Lex, hoping they are the last instructions that he ever receives from him. As if things weren’t bad enough what with Alex being a woman, she’s also a pain in the ass. Alex has no fear, so it’s hard to play the badass with her.

Alex knew there would be a reckoning with Lex. She also knew that it would likely end up with her death. She doesn’t care. She wants Lex to pay for destroying her mother decades before. Alex has been working to take down Lex’s network for years. As a hacker she has many skills. She can syphon money out of his accounts amount other things. Alex just wants to bring him down, no matter the cost to her personally.

Of course Breaker and Alex fall in love. It was almost cringeworthy to be honest. I liked these two characters as individuals, but as a couple they didn’t make sense. I really wanted to like them, but it just didn’t happen. I even tried to give them the benefit of the doubt; together they were thrown in a dangerous situation and all they could count on was each other. So I really tried to disconnect my mind and just roll with it, but it was hard. I did love Shooter who was Breaker’s best friend. I am planning on reading his book.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Savages

three-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,