Tag: Holly’s Reviews

Review: The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen

Posted July 13, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. JensenReviewer: Holly
The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen
Narrator: Lauren Fortgang, James Patrick Cronin
Series: The Bridge Kingdom #1
Also in this series: The Bridge Kingdom, The Traitor Queen
Publisher: Self-Published, Audible Original
Publication Date: August 13, 2019
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Audible Escape, Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 356
Length: 11 hours and 52 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

What if you fell in love with the one person you'd sworn to destroy?

Lara has only one thought for her husband on their wedding day: I will bring your kingdom to its knees. A princess trained from childhood to be a lethal spy, Lara knows that the Bridge Kingdom represents both legendary evil - and legendary promise. The only route through a storm-ravaged world, the Bridge Kingdom controls all trade and travel between lands, allowing its ruler to enrich himself and deprive his enemies, including Lara's homeland. So when she is sent as a bride under the guise of fulfilling a treaty of peace, Lara is prepared to do whatever it takes to fracture the defenses of the impenetrable Bridge Kingdom.

But as she infiltrates her new home - a lush paradise surrounded by tempest seas - and comes to know her new husband, Aren, Lara begins to question where the true evil resides. Around her, she sees a kingdom fighting for survival, and in Aren, a man fiercely protective of his people. As her mission drives her to deeper understanding of the fight to possess the bridge, Lara finds the simmering attraction between her and Aren impossible to ignore. Her goal nearly within reach, Lara will have to decide her own fate: Will she be the destroyer of a king or the savior of her people?

This popped up as a recommended read in Audible Escape. The blurb was intriguing so I decided to give it a try. I really enjoyed both narrators. From the very first I was pulled into this novel. I ended up purchasing the ebook so I could read when I wasn’t able to listen.

Lara and her half-sisters were raised in a desert compound for one purpose – to take down The Bridge Kingdom from the inside. As part of a 15 year treaty, one of them must marry the King of Ithicana (the Bridge Kingdom). Lara isn’t the chosen one, but she betrays her sisters to take her place as Queen in order to save their lives. Her goal is simple; Learn as much about the country and the Bridge as possible, so her father and his forces can take it over. Ithicana and her new husband are nothing like she thought they’d be, and it isn’t long before she begins questioning everything.

This was such a stellar story. I was sucked in from the very first page. Lara was such a multi-faceted character. Her whole life she’s been told Ithicana and her King are the reason so many in her country are starving. Although she doesn’t have a lot of love for her father, she does want better for her people. I completely understood why she made the choices she did. From beginning to end, I felt her struggle and determination to do what was right. My heart broke for her at the end, even as I wanted to rage at her. There never came a point when I didn’t understand her plight or her reasons for doing the things she did.

Aren wasn’t as complex of a character. He wanted what was best for his country, and he hoped for a true alliance with Lara’s father, though of course he was wary of ever getting it. Of the two, he was more open and sweet. He just wanted to be able to allow his country men and women to leave, or pursue other dreams, rather than become soldiers. I liked him, but I didn’t feel the same connection to him that I did Lara.

This book ended in a cliffhanger and I immediately dove into the second book.

The politics and intrigue, the personal relationships and Lara’s struggle to do what she was trained to do when her heart was telling her otherwise was very well done. I highly recommend this series.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

The Bridge Kingdom

four-half-stars


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Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Posted July 10, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. MaasReviewer: Holly
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Narrator: Jennifer Ikeda
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #1
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: May 5, 2015
Format: eBook, Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult
Pages: 419
Length: 16 hours and 7 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 New to Me Challenge, New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Feyre's survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price ...

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre's presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas is the first book in the Court of Thorns and Roses series. I’ve had this book in my TBR pile for years. Recently I requested a good Paranormal/Fantasy series on Twitter, and this was one of the top recs, so I dug it out. I had the Kindle version with the audio add-on, so I read and listened. The narrator was good. I really enjoyed the writing and the world-building, but I found the story moved slow at times and I had a hard time focusing on it. The second half picked up, however, and I was fully invested in Feyre and her journey.

For hundreds of years the Faeries and Humans have been bound by a treaty that keeps the Faeries from killing humans and/or keeping them as slaves. Feyre and her family live near the wall that separates the two lands, in abject poverty. While she’s out hunting, she kills a wolf that turns out to be faerie and forfeits her life in return. Rather than killing her, Tamlin, the faerie who comes for her, tells her she must come and live with him over the wall in Prythian. Once she arrives in the Spring Court, she’s surprised to learn she won’t be a prisoner, but rather a permanent guest. Her whole life she’s grown up hating the faeries for how they treat humans. As she spends time with Tamlin and the other faeries at the Spring Court, she comes to realize there’s more to the story than she ever knew..and not all faeries are bad.

At the beginning of the novel, Feyre was a hard character to like. Her vain, shallow mother has died, and her father has lost their fortune and retreated into himself, leaving Feyre to care for him and her two self-absorbed sisters. She’s had to teach herself to hunt, how to barter for what they need and how to survive in a world so unlike the one she was meant to inhabit. This has made her hard and a little jaded, not to mention focused solely on herself and her own needs (or those of her family). It’s not that I blamed her, as I understand what poverty can do to a person, but it didn’t make her very likable in the beginning. As she settles into life in Prythian and relaxes her guard, I came to enjoy her more. The novel spans several months, which gives us an opportunity to watch her grow and blossom away from the oppressing burdens of her human life. This is the Feyre she was meant to be, but with a core of steel she may have never grown otherwise.

I never really warmed up to Tamlin. He was different than I expected from the way he burst into Feyre’s home and forced her home with him; a bit old fashioned, but very sweet. He encouraged her to find herself and rediscover her love for painting, explore the area and make herself at home. Tamlin had his own agenda. Though he was kind to Feyre, it was obvious he was waiting on something from her. There were also several instances where he came off as very weak, not a warrior, for all his “I kill the bad things” vibes. I didn’t dislike him, necessarily, but I didn’t really like him, either.

Around the 70% mark, Feyre is forced to go Under the Mountain (another Court in Prythian, ruled by an evil faerie) to save Tamlin. This is where the novel really picked up. I loved watching Feyre use her wits and strength to survive and overcome. Still, it was hard to read, because while Feyre survived, parts of her were broken in the process. The latter part of the book was focused pretty much solely on Feyre. She was doing what she was doing for Tamlin, but he wasn’t really involved.

Having said that, I loved how Feyre changed and grew over the course of the book, and I was invested in her romance with Tamlin and her life in Prythian. The world-building and court politics and intrigues were very well done. I loved learning about the different Courts, being introduced to all the Faeries and coming to understand the truth behind Tamlin’s actions. Though this wasn’t a perfect read, I was invested in Feyre and her journey enough to continue reading, even through the slow parts. While it doesn’t necessarily end in a cliffhanger, I did immediately pick up the second book because I needed to see where Feyre’s story headed next.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

A Court of Thorns and Roses

three-half-stars


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Review: When He’s Dark by Suzanne Wright

Posted July 8, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: When He’s Dark by Suzanne WrightWhen He’s Dark by Suzanne Wright
Series: The Olympus Pride #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: April 7, 2020
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 334
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Cat shifter Bree Dwyer doesn't fear much. Ironically, what she fears most is the person who was put on the Earth just for her. Your true mate wasn't supposed to be cruel and twisted; wasn't supposed to be someone who’d never love or want to claim you. The rumors that her true mate is dead bring her only relief. Bree's intent on moving forward with her life and building a future with someone else. Sadly, the male she wants most is one she can never have—a hot-as-sin wolverine shifter who happens to be her boss … and the cousin of her predestined mate.

Aleksandr “Alex” Devereaux detests being bullshitted, but he’s been lying to himself for years—pretending he thinks of Bree as extended family; that he doesn't want her so bad he aches with it; that he can't feel himself weakening against her pull. The night they spend together changes everything. He's done fighting himself on what he wants. Someone isn't happy about that. Possibly the same 'someone' who's playing mind games with Bree, trying to scare her. They're succeeding, because too many leads point to the possibility that the culprit could be the one person that she's determined to believe is dead.

I was sad to see the end of the Phoenix Pack and Mercury Pack series, so I’m really glad Wright is doing this off-shoot. We were introduced to characters from the Olympus Pride in previous books, but this book stands alone well.

Bree is a pretty strong Omega, which means she can help others control their emotions. There are several Omegas in the Pride, but though she isn’t Primary, she is the strongest. She’s also the one least likely to put up with other people’s crap, or sugar coat things. As a result, she and the Primary Omega butt heads. Bree knows she’ll either have to take over as Primary or leave, so she’s planning to leave.

Alex Devereaux has other ideas. He’s wanted Bree for years, but he didn’t think she was ready for him. Now it doesn’t matter, he’s determined to make her his. When strange things begin to happen to Bree and she’s almost kidnapped, Alex knows he’s made the right choice. She needs him in all the ways.

I really liked Alex and Bree. They had a fun romance. I didn’t love the external plot. These are always pretty predicable for me and I had everything figured out early on. Still, I liked the romance and the characters enough that it didn’t bother me too much.

3.5 out of 5

Olympus Pride

three-half-stars


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Joint Review: Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews

Posted June 24, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Joint Review: Magic Breaks by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Holly and Rowena
Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #7
Also in this series: Magic Shifts, Magic Shifts, Magic Binds, Magic Bites, Magic Strikes, Iron and Magic, Magic Triumphs, Magic Bites, Magic Bleeds , Magic Burns, Magic Strikes , Magic Slays , Gunmetal Magic , Magic Rises , Magic Strikes, Magic Mourns, Magic Bleeds, Magic Dreams, Magic Slays, Gunmetal Magic, Magic Gifts, Magic Rises, Magic Tests, Magic Stars, Magic Shifts, Magic Steals, Magic Breaks
Publisher: Ace
Publication Date: July 29, 2014
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 402
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
five-stars
Series Rating: four-half-stars

No matter how much the paranormal politics of Atlanta change, one thing always remains the same: if there’s trouble, Kate Daniels will be in the middle of it…

As the mate of the Beast Lord, Curran, former mercenary Kate Daniels has more responsibilities than it seems possible to juggle. Not only is she still struggling to keep her investigative business afloat, she must now deal with the affairs of the pack, including preparing her people for attack from Roland, a cruel ancient being with god-like powers. Since Kate’s connection to Roland has come out into the open, no one is safe—especially those closest to Kate.

As Roland’s long shadow looms ever nearer, Kate is called to attend the Conclave, a gathering of the leaders from the various supernatural factions in Atlanta. When one of the Masters of the Dead is found murdered there, apparently at the hands of a shapeshifter, Kate is given only twenty-four hours to hunt down the killer. And this time, if she fails, she’ll find herself embroiled in a war which could destroy everything she holds dear…

Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews is the 7th book in the Kate Daniels series. Kate has more responsibilities than ever now that she’s mated to the Beast Lord of Atlanta. While Curran is away Kate has to play Beast Lady to the Pack and deal with all their nonsense, plus keep her PI business afloat and prepare for dear old dad to come calling. Things are never dull in Kate’s world….

Holly: I’ve been dying for you to finally make your way to this book. Magic Breaks is my favorite book of the series. It’s so awesome.

Did you love it? Let’s discuss.

Rowena: For some reason, my favorite book remains Magic Strikes. That book was just so much fun for me and even though Kate and her gang were going through some pretty stressful shit, I freaking loved the entire book. That’s not to say that I didn’t love the crap out of this book too. I love seeing Kate really come into her powers more and more with each passing book. Kate was put in a really tough spot with the pack while Curran was gone but just like I knew she would, she handled her shit and kept her wits about her to take care of everything, and everyone.

Holly: I love Magic Strikes, too, but man did my heart hurt reading it. This was focused more on the action, I think. It was interesting how Curran was gone for most of the book. They’re a great team, but I like that Kate handles things without him, too.

Rowena: I could feel how anxious she was trying to find Curran but holy shit, at the end??? When she goes to claim Robert and Christopher? I about jumped up and did a happy dance twerk for her at 2 in the morning. I freaking loved it! Kate Daniels is a freaking dawg and good luck to anyone trying to cross her…including her Dad. Man, this was a damn good book.

Holly: The way she rescued Robert and Christopher had me jumping up and down. She’s such a badass.

Rowena: Yeah, when Curran finally gets back, it felt like that scene in Lord of the Rings where Gandalf rides to the rescue with his army to save the day…only Kate didn’t really need him to save the day but boy did I feel the relief from her when she sees him and is so damn glad that he’s safe and alive. This book was filled to the brim with action, with emotion and just everything that I’ve come to love in a Kate Daniels book. Ilona Andrews is my favorite.

Holly: Yeah, her relief was palpable, but she absolutely did not need to be rescued. I love that theirs is a true partnership. They’re equals. They support each other and help each other problem solve, but never does it feel like they’re anything but true partners.

Rowena: I do agree that Curran and Kate have a true partnership because they get on each other’s nerves and I love that we see them bicker and fight with each other. Their relationship is far from perfect but they still love the hell out of each other.

Holly: I love how nuanced all these characters are. Take Jennifer, for example. She’s the alpha of Clan Wolf, and she’s a shithead. She does everything she can to make Kate’s life hell. But she’s also a grieving widow and sister, so while I never liked her or forgave her, she had more depth than some cardboard villain.

Rowena: Same. There are characters that I absolutely adore but there are also characters that I tolerate and Jennifer is one of them. Her character does have depth and I certainly appreciate Andrews efforts in writing each of their characters because they all have a certain level of depth to them whether they’ve been on the scene since the beginning or the newer characters. I just enjoy the hell out of this series as a whole and this book was fantastic. I am so looking forward to seeing what’s next for Kate Daniels and her crew but I am not looking forward to finishing this series. I’m not ready to say goodbye to any of them.

Holly: This is such a great book because it clears up a lot of little threads from previous books, but it also opened up more for the future. I’m really excited for you to continue on.

Rowena: From beginning to end, this book wrapped me up tight and didn’t let go and even though there were times when I was annoyed with the pack, with what was thrown at Kate at every turn, I still enjoyed the hell out of this one and definitely recommend. This one gets 4.75 out of 5 stars from me. What about you?

Holly: I was definitely invested in this book. It gets better every single time I read it. I love Kate, Curran and all their friends and family. I give it 4.75 out of 5.

Final Grades

Holly: 4.75 out of 5
Rowena: 4.75 out of 5

Kate Daniels

five-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: When Marrying a Scoundrel by Kathryn Smith

Posted June 18, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: When Marrying a Scoundrel by Kathryn SmithReviewer: Holly
When Marrying a Scoundrel by Kathryn Smith
Series: Victorian Soap Opera #2
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: May 25, 2010
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 385
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

A lady must be prepared for anything . . . when marrying a scoundrel.

Sadie Moon once thought she was in love. Then her dashing husband left her to seek his fortune, and she had no choice but to transform herself from a heartbroken waif into London Society's favorite fortune-teller. But even she could not have foreseen Jack's return—until their paths cross in the last place either would have expected: London's most exclusive house of pleasure.

Now wealthy and successful, Jack Friday has everything he'd ever dreamed of . . . except Sadie. He swears he will never trust the woman who broke her promise to wait for him, though his passion for her burns as hotly as ever before. But love, like the past, comes back to haunt them—drawing them into a web of intrigue and betrayal that could save or destroy them both.

*** Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy! ***

This review was originally posted on June 18, 2010.

Kathryn Smith is hit or miss for me. I’m never sure which way a novel is going to go for me with her. Some are fabulous and others leave much to be desired. This one falls under the “hit” umbrella.

I really like the “reunited lovers” plot device, and I think Smith did a good job with it here. It was easy to see why both parties felt they were the ones who got abandoned. I really liked that Jack never stopped loving Sadie, and had no problem admitting it. He no longer trusted her, but he still loved her. I really loved that though Jack and Sadie had issues with each other, they were able to set them aside to help one another when they needed it. They were very adult about their relationship, which was refreshing.

Jack frustrated me at times because he refused to believe in Sadie, especially early in the book. When he called her a fraud my heart broke along with hers. My frustration didn’t last long, though, because Sadie kept belaboring the point, ad nauseum.

I know why Sadie felt so angry toward Jack, and he toward her, but I found myself getting frustrated with Sadie as the novel progressed. Her reasons for pushing him away seemed contrived and silly. She didn’t think she was good enough for him or the class he belonged to, but that didn’t hold water since she’d already married him once. I also had an issue with the way she kept the nature of her relationship with Jack a secret from Mason, the man who was courting her. They had no formal arrangement or agreement, but it was obvious they both thought it could go somewhere. Sadie owed him more than lies, IMO.

I was able to let it go, however, since she realized the problem was hers and made it right.

Though I had issues with both main protagonists, they weren’t enough to detract from my overall enjoyment. Yes, I became frustrated by their actions at times. But more, I was swept up in their rekindled romance, waiting to see when they’d finally realize what we as the reader knew all along – they were meant to be together.

4 out of 5

Victorian Soap Opera

four-stars


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