Source: Purchased

Review: A Heart of Blood and Ashes by Milla Vane

Posted September 14, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: A Heart of Blood and Ashes by Milla VaneReviewer: Holly
A Heart of Blood and Ashes by Milla Vane
Narrator: Nicole Poole
Series: A Gathering of Dragons #1
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: February 4, 2020
Format: eARC, Audiobook
Source: NetGalley, Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 555
Length: 15 hours and 16 minutes
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Reading Challenges: Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Reading Challenge
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

A generation past, the western realms were embroiled in endless war. Then the Destroyer came. From the blood and ashes he left behind, a tenuous alliance rose between the barbarian riders of Parsathe and the walled kingdoms of the south. That alliance is all that stands against the return of an ancient evil - until the barbarian king and queen are slain in an act of bloody betrayal.

Though forbidden by the alliance council to kill the corrupt king responsible for his parents’ murders, Maddek vows to avenge them, even if it costs him the Parsathean crown. But when he learns it was the king’s daughter who lured his parents to their deaths, the barbarian warrior is determined to make her pay.

Yet the woman Maddek captures is not what he expected. Though the last in a line of legendary warrior-queens, Yvenne is small and weak, and the sharpest weapons she wields are her mind and her tongue. Even more surprising is the marriage she proposes to unite them in their goals and to claim their thrones—because her desire for vengeance against her father burns even hotter than his own…

I’ve been waiting for Milla Vane (aka Meljean Brook) to return to writing for years. When this book popped up on NetGalley, I actually squee’d out loud. Then I started it and…wasn’t in the mood. It had nothing to do with the book, I just wasn’t feeling a dark epic fantasy at that time. Fast forward to this month; I saw the audiobook and decided to purchase it. I’m really glad I did. I ended up loving the narrator.

Maddek is determined to avenge the death of his parents at the hands of a neighboring kingdom. When the traditional path is closed to him because of the alliance, he decides to take his revenge in another way…by killing the heir to their thrown. The problem? Yvenne is nothing like he expected. She’s small, weak and nothing like the warrior queen he expected. She’s also just as determined to bring her father down as Maddek is. Though he trusts her not at all, he agrees to take her as his wife if it means being able to kill her father and brothers.

The overall theme of this novel is very dark, and so are the actions of both characters. Maddek was bent on revenge and could see nothing else. Yvenne was determined to kill her father and claim her kingdom. She was also determined to make Maddek into a king, whether he wanted it or not. Yvenne was fierce, for all her physical frailty. I loved how she stood up for herself, and wielded her tongue like a weapon. I liked their dynamic, though his vow that he would rip her tongue out if she spoke of his mother was frustrating. I understood Maddek’s need for vengeance, but I didn’t love the way he treated Yvenne. I wish he’d have wised up a little sooner. In the end, I forgave him because Yvenne did.

I did think it moved a bit slow in parts and the world-building took some time, but I enjoyed the book as a whole.

3.75 out of 5

A Gathering of Dragons

four-stars


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Review: Mist’s Edge by T.A. White

Posted September 11, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Mist’s Edge by T.A. WhiteReviewer: Holly
Mist's Edge by T.A. White
Series: The Broken Lands #2
Also in this series: Pathfinder's Way
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: November 28, 2017
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 330
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Reading Challenge
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

The pathfinder, Shea, has chosen to make a place for herself among her former captors, leaving behind her people and the life she once knew. However, not all welcome this outsider in their midst. Shea will find that surviving alone in the wilderness is child’s play next to navigating the politics that come with her new position. Especially when it becomes evident that there are those out for her blood.

As a new danger looms on the horizon, Shea and her warlord will need all the allies they can find. Because something is stirring in the barren lands from which all beasts are born. Something old and not seen since the last cataclysm.

Can Shea protect her people from this new threat or will it be the dangers from within her own inner circle that destroy her?

Mist’s Edge, the second book in T.A. White‘s The Broken Lands series, picks up where Patherfinder’s Way left off. Shea and Fallon have committed to one another and she’s agreed to become his Telroi, but now she’s feeling displaced and unsure of herself or her place in the clan. It doesn’t help that Fallon is overbearing and expects all his orders to be followed without question. Especially since more often than not those orders include her sitting around doing nothing. But when the Mist comes into the lowlands for the first time in centuries, and unimaginable Beasts start targeting the clan, Shea knows they need answers. Convincing Fallon is another thing entirely…

I really struggled with the first half of this book. Shea and Fallon have a hard time communicating with each other, which resulted in a lot of them having arguments then ignoring each other for days on end. I understand their relationship is very new, and that means they’re still figuring each other out. I even like that things weren’t all sunshine and rainbows since they committed to one another so late in the previous book. But I still struggled with how immature the two of them acted. Shea’s need to pull away and shut down, along with Fallon’s go-to Neanderthal “you will do what I say” responses, mean nothing really felt resolved between them. They would argue about something, she would freeze him out after he tried to dictate to her, then they would just let it go. I really wish they had talked more, and worked out their problems like adults.

Having said that, I don’t dislike them as a couple. I think they work very well together. I just wish they would have mature conversations about things and try to find workable compromises instead of argue, ignore, brush aside, repeat.

The second half of the book is better. Fallon is still overprotective, but Shea was in her element leading them and that made for a more enjoyable reading experience. I really love this world and the secondary characters. The clan, the landscape and the interpersonal relationships are very well done. Everything comes to life so I feel like I’m there with them as I read.

I wouldn’t call this a placeholder novel, exactly, but a lot of it did feel unnecessary and repetitive. The second half was better than the first, but I didn’t love this one as much as the first.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The Broken Lands

three-half-stars


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Review: Pathfinder’s Way by T.A. White

Posted September 9, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Pathfinder’s Way by T.A. WhiteReviewer: Holly
Pathfinder's Way by T.A. White
Series: The Broken Lands #1
Also in this series: Mist's Edge
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: October 12, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 396
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 New to Me Challenge, Holly's 2020 Reading Challenge, New to Me Challenge
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

The Trateri are about to learn a vital lesson of the Broken Lands. Deep in the remote expanse where anything can happen, it pays to be on a pathfinder’s good side.

Nobody ventures beyond their village. Nobody sane that is. Monstrous creatures and deadly mysteries wait out here. Lucky for the people she serves, Shea’s not exactly sane. As a pathfinder, it’s her job to face what others fear and find the safest route through the wilderness. It’s not an easy job, but she’s the best at what she does.

When the people she serves betray her into servitude to the Trateri, a barbarian horde sweeping through the Lowlands intent on conquest, Shea relies on her wits and skill to escape, disguising herself as a boy to hide from the Warlord, a man as dangerous as he is compelling.

After being mistaken as a Trateri scout during her escape, Shea finds herself forced to choose between the life she led and the possibilities of a new one. Her decision might mean the difference between life or death. For danger looms on the horizon and a partnership with the Warlord may be the only thing preventing the destruction of everything she holds dear.

I asked for Fantasy/UF/PNR recs on Twitter a few months ago and Angela James suggested this author. I tried starting this back in June, but I wasn’t in the mood so I set it aside until this weekend. I had to push myself through the first few pages (my reading mood, not the book), but I ended up easily falling into the story.

The world-building is superb. Shea’s strength and ingenuity as she led a rescue party for some of the villagers really pulled me in. I loved how she brushed off criticisms and just did what needed to be done. I also liked the way her friendship developed with her traveling companions.

This is a sweeping tale that stretches across quite a bit of time and distance. I liked seeing the various landscapes and watching Shea overcome obstacles.

I was frustrated with the turn things took at about the 80% mark. Up until then, I really loved Shea. She was resourceful, independent and more than capable, if a little closed off to others. After that, she was kind of swept to the side because of her relationship with Fallon. I didn’t love how she seemed to fade as they grew closer. I’m hoping for a better resolution to that part of the story in later books.

Rating: 4 out of 5

The Broken Lands

four-stars


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Review: Creed by Kristen Ashley

Posted September 4, 2020 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Creed by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Casee
Creed by Kristen Ashley
Series: Unfinished Hero #2
Also in this series: Knight
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: April 15, 2013
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 360
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Way too young, eleven year old Tucker Creed and his six year old neighbor, Sylvie Bissenette, find they have something awful in common. Creed then decides he’s going to do everything in his limited power to shield his Sylvie from her ordeal. So he does and Creed and Sylvie form a bond that grows and blossoms with their ages.
They plot to leave their lives behind, the town they live in that will hold them down and the histories they share that, unless they break free, will bury them. Sylvie goes to their special place, Creed never shows and she doesn’t see him again until it’s too late.
With Creed gone, Sylvie is forced to endure a nightmare and do the unspeakable to end it. To deal, she develops a hard shell with sharp edges that very few can break through. So when Creed again finds his Sylvie, he discovers the girl he loved is locked away and he has to find his way back into her heart without getting shredded in the process.

Creed is book two in Ashley’s Unfinished Hero series.

“Born to love you, baby… Die lovin’ you, my Sylvie.”

Tucker Creed never expected that Sylvie Bissenette would come back into his life. When he is reunited with her, Sylvie is not the girl that he remembers. He knows she’s changed and he also knows that it’s his fault. Creed and Sylvie have known each other since they were kids. Brought together by violence that touched both of their lives, they made a pact to leave their town behind as soon as Sylvie turns eighteen. Then something terrible happens and Creed is forced to leave Sylvie behind, never knowing that by trying to protect her, he was actually going to be responsible for one of the worst atrocities against her.

Sylvie is a survivor. She survived when Creed broke his promise to take her away from their town. She survived when her father sold her to the town pimp. She survived being pimped out. Then she survived by killing her pimp in self-defense. Now she works for Knight Sebring. Sylvie knows what Knight does and why he does it. Her job is to protect the girls. When someone roughs up one of Knight’s girls, Sylvie is the one that takes care of it.

Through Knight, Sylvie and Creed are thrown back into each others lives. Creed doesn’t recognize the woman that his Sylvie has become. Sylvie doesn’t give two craps about what Creed thinks. He broke his promise to her all those years ago and then disappeared from her life.

To be honest, I didn’t love this book at first. I felt that Sylvie was overbearing and trying too hard to be a man. The flashbacks were a nice touch. They really told of Sylvie’s journey from an innocent six year old girl to a brokenhearted eighteen year old girl to where she is now. That’s the Sylvie that I fell in love with. As with most Ashley books, there is a lot of filler here, but I really enjoyed it. The conflict in their relationship was resolved quite quickly so there were a lot of pages to fill. I devoured this book and ended up really liking it.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Unfinished Hero

four-stars


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Review: Knight by Kristen Ashley

Posted September 2, 2020 by Casee in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Knight by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Casee
Knight by Kristen Ashley
Series: Unfinished Hero #1
Also in this series: Creed
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: April 15, 2013
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First Person
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Erotica
Pages: 280
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Anya Gage has learned that to get anything good in life, you have to work for it. She has no expectations, no dreams.
Then she finds herself at a party where she doesn’t want to be and she meets Knight.
Knight Sebring knows who he is, what he wants and what he likes. And he gets it. But he never expected something as sweet as Anya Gage to wander into his bedroom during a party he did not expect to be having to borrow his phone.
Knight tries to leave Anya to the life she deserves of white picket fences and a man who watches football on Sundays – good, normal and clean. But when Anya comes to his nightclub and finds herself in a situation, he knows someone has to look after her, he can’t fight it anymore and he decides that man will be him.
Knight teaches Anya that, just as with the bad, in life you should also expect the good. And he teaches her this by giving it to her.
But Knight has a dark past and just as he desires Anya for exactly who she is, he fears when she finds out exactly the man he has become and always intends to be, she’ll leave him for good, normal and clean.

I loved this book when I didn’t really expect to. How could I not love it?

“Wars fought over a face like this. A man would work himself into the ground for it, go down to his knees to beg to keep it, endure torture to protect it, take a bullet for it. Poison his brother to possess a face like this.”

When Anya Gage is invited to a party with a friend, she tags along not knowing that her entire world is about to be turned upside down. Finding that the party is not for her, Anya goes searching for her coat. In Knight Sebring’s room. Sheltered she may be, even Anya knows Knight Sebring. He runs the hottest club in town. Even she had been there. Knowing all she knows about Knight (which isn’t much), she’s hardly prepared for her first meeting with him. Or each subsequent meeting.

Knight can’t believe his brother would throw a party at his place without clearing it with him first. Then he believes it because his brother is a total loser. He doesn’t expect to run into someone as young and fresh as Anya. Knight can see immediately that she’s innocent, something that definitely calls to him. Still, the innocent and Knight don’t go together very well.

From their first meeting, Knight and Anya are fire. Their attraction is pretty much instantaneous. Knight is the kind of person that takes what he wants. What he wants is Anya, in his bed and in his life. But he knows that she’s too good for him. She’s light and he lives in the darkness. He tries to let her go, but he just can’t give her up. He wants to take care of her. He wants to make her life easier, make her happy in bed and out. He just wants Anya.

This book won’t be for everyone. It’s definitely more of an erotic romance rather than contemporary. Contemporary erotica is what I would call it. Knight is the quintessential alpha anti-hero. At first there doesn’t seem to be much to like about him. He’s overbearing and a little too protective. He gives Anya orders and expects her to obey. He takes over her life (for her safety of course). View Spoiler » Even with all that, he’s surprisingly likable. I couldn’t help but fall in love with both Anya and Knight. I ended up loving how Knight took care of Anya. She’s worked so hard her entire life and he wants to help her so she can actually live her life. Preferably with him.

There were some really annoying things about Knight though. One of the biggest ones is that he won’t marry Anya. If he had a reasonable explanation for not wanting to marry her, I could possibly get on board. But he doesn’t. That doesn’t end up mattering in the end because the love these two have is epic. Once in a lifetime. So the whole marriage thing didn’t matter in the end. It was just annoying at first.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5.

Unfinished Hero

four-stars


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