Book Review. A Strange Hymm, The Bargainer #2 by Laura Thalassa, 4 stars.

Warning: Some reviews contain minor spoilers, but I keep the best parts vague. Check out my Reading Ranting page for more reviews and thoughts on reading.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I was so excited to read book 2 of the The Bargainer series after I loved the 1st book so much. This didn’t disappoint.

Callie has to deal with her changes in magic, the permanent wings and scales that make it near impossible to go back to the human world. But she has Des, The Bargainer, Night King, and mate. I thought I’d get sick of the mate trope, but this is done a little differently since they have a history. 

I almost miss the flashbacks to when she first knew Des before he left her for seven years. Even though we got the explanation for that, I think forcing that separation made it more acceptable, at least from a fantasy fiction perspective. What’s a few hundred years in age when you’re practically immortal? 

I also love how we see more of the Otherworld in this book. I love fantastical worlds, and since Callie’s from Earth, albeit an alternative one, she’s seeing the Otherworld for the 1st time along with me, which adds to the wonder.

And I love the mystery. Sometimes, I thought surely Callie would have figured it out sooner with her being a PI, but… makes for better suspense as a reader.

Des and Callie are one steamy couple. Despite the massive age gap, she’s an experienced adult that knows what she’s getting into with him. Also, the balance of their magic fits, his darkness, her shiny siren. I love sirens.

What I liked…

  • I like how Callie is realistically traumatised from her experience with the King of Fauna, but she stays pretty strong considering.
  • I love how her wings are feathered while Des’ are webbed. I just love wings.
  • I liked how Callie dealt with her wings and scales. She could have outright hated them all the time, or slowly accepted them. The latter was done nicely since Des’ love of them helped her accept them. 
  • I liked how they knew things weren’t over with the Theif of Souls since none of the sleeping women were waking up. 
  • Callie’s dreams were also a good way to keep the bigger story in the forefront of the reader’s mind while having some good character developmental scenes.

What I didn’t like… again not much here.

  • Temper’s dramatic appearance felt a smidge overdone and not foreshadowed as well as it could have been
  • Again, writing could have been better. Lots of repetitive wording and structures that could have easily been avoided with the right editor.

I loved this book all the way through. If you like faeries with wings, an Earth and high fantasy world combo, sexy men with wings, sirens, lots of smut, and fun times mixed into a bigger plot, then you’ll love this book. 

Stay tuned for the final book, Dark Harmony. And I’ll get to Emperor of Evening Stars at some point.

Book Review. The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen. 4.5 Stars

Warning: Some reviews contain spoilers. Check out my Reading Ranting page for more.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I got serious Pirates of the Caribbean vibes in most of this book, but a completely different story. It’s low fantasy in that it’s a completely imaginary world, but there’s no magic. 

I loved how Lara started off in this book. She has a plan to take down a kingdom in order to save her own. She goes from the dry desert to a stormy group of islands to marry a King she’s never met. 

I also live how we get Aren’s POV too and see how he needs the alliance with Lara to bring trade to his people. Mostly, I love how we instantly see that he’s not what she was expecting and we just have to watch while she works that out.

The details of how Lara adjusts to the weather really brings the world to life. And her slow realization is nicely done. She’s been lied to all her life, and her only purpose is ruining Aren’s kingdom. 

It’s also fun that he learns that she’s a spy and Falls for her anyway, makes the betrayal that much sweeter. 

Art by theclever.crow

Things I liked…

  • Lara and Aren were fun to read as they slowly fall for each other.
  • The love scenes were nicely written. A perfect balance of emotion and explicitly.
  • The world was fantastic with the bridge and islands and swashbuckling theme.
  • Lara was likable despite being pretty cold from the start. She has her reasons.

What I didn’t like…

  • I’m being super picky with this, but some small technical things in the writing bugged me. But not really enough to bring down my rating. 
  • Despite really enjoying the book, it didn’t 100% captivate me, but that’s a personal thing that I can’t really explain, hence the 4.5 stars and not a full 5. 

I definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes low fantasy and romance with kingdom politics and trained assassins.

Book Review. Rhapsodic, The Bargainer #1 by Laura Thalassa, 5 Stars

Warning: Some reviews contain minor spoilers, but I keep the best parts vague. Check out my Reading Ranting page for more reviews and thoughts on reading.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

You can never tell if you’re going to devour a book or if the book is going to devour you. For me, this book falls into the latter. It just hooked me from page 1 and made me love everything about it all the way through. 

What I liked…

EVERYTHING! But I’ll be specific.

  • I love the unusual relationship between Callie and Des. It’s a friends to lovers and enemies to lovers combo. They were once friends, but for… reasons, they didn’t see each other for 7 years, and Callie is pissed when Des drops himself back into her life. Love the complexity.
  • I love the magic. It’s fun but uncomplicated. 
  • Wings 🥰❤😊 I can’t tell you how much I love fictional characters with wings. I’ve written many.
  • The Bargainer is… not dark haired and dark eyed like so many morally grey characters. But he’s got his lovely darkness to him.
  • I love how Callie sees a unique side to this supposedly dark character from the beginning. I like a rumoured bad character proving himself, but this take is refreshing. She gets to know him as a friend at first rather than being forced into a situation with him. That comes later, but since Des is also the infamous Bargainer, Callie owes him for past favours. So she got herself into the situation by choice.
  • I absolutely love the flashbacks to when she first met him, so we get a full picture without boring info dumps. So nicely done, Laura.
  • The love scenes are my kind of style. Not unnecessarily explicit but not too delicate and vague either. A wonderful balance of emotional and physical.
  • Sirens. Like winged characters, love sirens and love reading and writing about them. 
  • This is a mostly character-driven plot, but it has bigger things going on which make it an all-round great plot and story. 
Meet Des and Callie. Such a lovely and unique couple. Find the image here.

What I didn’t like…

  • I was conflicted over how Des behaved with Callie sometimes when she was 16. I can adapt my brain to fantasy worlds, and he mostly kept some distance between them and stuck to friendly stuff, but it didn’t sit right that an ancient fae king was hanging out with a teenager. We find out more later, but still… super inappropriate.
  • I’m being completely picky here, but the writing had some technical issues that go against the grain for me. Lots of filtering, incorrect use of lay/lie, and too many begin/began to… It let the book down in my opinion. But like I said, I was being picky with this.

Despite the occasional wording issue, I adored this book from start to finish. It doesn’t happen very often that I fall in love with a book or series, so when it happens, I can’t help but rave bout it.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy world meets real world and characters who have fun magic.

Book Review. A Touch of Ruin by Scarlett St. Clair. 2 Stars.

Warning: Some reviews contain minor spoilers, but I keep the best parts vague. Check out my Reading Ranting page for more reviews and thoughts on reading.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

What I liked…

  • Persephone’s inner conflict and how it manifested in her magic. I like how she struggles to control it when she’s angry or upset.
  • I like how she stands up to her mother. She couldn’t before, because she didn’t know what she was missing out on. Being in the real world and making friends with humans and fellow gods clearly made her realise what real freedom is. 
  • I like the writing. It’s emotional and engaging.
I’m not sure if this image is fan art for this series or a random Hades and Persephone image, but it’s fitting. Also, I just freaking love it. Find it here.

What I didn’t like…

  • There was too much conflict between Hades and Persephone for my liking. Some conflict is good and makes the story interesting, but they were constantly arguing and making up and it was usually Persephone overreacting.
  • Punishing her with sex? Sorry, but that doesn’t sit right with me. I can adapt my personal opinions to overlook a lot in fantasy when males get overly dominant, but this is too much.
  • Her reaction to the backlash after writing another article on a god was even more unrealistic than in the 1st book. Why didn’t she see that coming?
  • And why is it that after millennia of the gods being this way, Persephone not only convinces Hades to become a better person, but Apollo as well? She’s got that unrealistic specialness that feels forced to make the story work. But it just annoys me.
  • Trying to save her friend’s life when she could see her in the Underworld still didn’t make enough sense for her to go to all that trouble. And yeah, it was kind of disrespectful to Hades after he’d explained why he couldn’t do anything and that she shouldn’t either. She felt very selfish and bratty over this. 
  • Basically, she overreacts at every little thing, which took away from the things I though she had a right to react to. Her reaction to Hades having past lovers was overdone. I can get on board with some inner annoyance and jealousy about that, but not using it against Hades. He’s thousands of years old, so yeah, she wasn’t his first. 

Unfortunately, after a great book 1, book 2 let me down. I’m not sure if I’m going to continue with this series or not. I’ve since started reading another series, so we’ll see if I feel like reading A Touch of Malice after my current book.

Book Review. A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair. 3.5 Stars.

Warning: Some reviews contain minor spoilers, but I keep the best parts vague. Check out my Reading Ranting page for more reviews and thoughts on reading.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I love all things mythological, so this was a fun book to read. However, I found that for everything I liked in general, there was a huge exception that put me on the fence with this book. I would have given it 2.5 stars based on that, but it had a certain… “je ne sai quoi,” to it, so it got an extra star for that. 

What I liked…

  • I love how the mythological gods were brought to life in the modern world very much how the myths depicted. 
  • I liked how Scarlett played on Persephone’s sexual inexperience without making her sound naive or like she has no idea what to do. It was a great balance in that respect.
  • I like how Persephone was conflicted over Hades based on her mother’s warnings and the stories of impossible bargains. 
  • I like the god of the underworld trying to maintain his reputation as the bad guy until Persephone comes along and makes him want to look like the good guy. 

Image here… Hades-and-Persephone-by-Procastle

What I didn’t like… which were exceptions to what I did like…

  • The contract??? It was too unclear for my liking, and I couldn work out how a card game lead to Persephone being tied to a contract with Hades. I mean, they agreed to terms of the card game, but then suddenly, it becomes a whole contract. Maybe it was me.
  • Persephone felt too naive when it came to everyday things. I get why some things were confusing to her because she’d been kept away from people until a few years ago. But it’s been a few years. Sure she’s figured things out by this point.
  • Her surprise over the backlash of her article seemed unrealistic. She’s a journalist who’s probably seen it happen to other writers. Again, might just be me.
  • The prose was a little… ho hum for my liking. It felt like a newer writer’s prose rather than a bestselling author’s. 
  • The love scenes fell short for me. All the actions were there along with some thoughts, but they felt rushed and lacked the physical sensations to complete and well-rounded emotional moment.

Like I said, I generally liked a lot about this book, but some of the issues made it less enjoyable than it could have been. Still, I read it and have just finished book 2, so it was worth the read.

Book Review. A Court of Silver Flames. 5 Stars

Warning: Some reviews contain minor spoilers, but I keep the best parts vague. Check out my Reading Ranting page for more reviews and thoughts on reading.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What I liked…

So much, so these are just the top ones…

  • Nesta’s PTSD. The fire, the darkness, the fear, the flashbacks, the alcoholism. All incredibly well done on my opinion.
  • The fact that her first real friend that doesn’t judge her is a house.
  • Cassian 😍😍😍 He’s not as possessive as Rhys, which I found a little much in previous books. But Cassian still has his moments that feel more like realistic bursts of testosterone that’s more swoon-worthy.
  • Cassian and Nesta are one steaming hot couple. 🔥
  • Wings. I love wings. 😍
  • The stairs and what they represent to Nesta. 
  • I loved getting Nesta’s full perspective on the past as well as recent events. If I’d read this book first I’d think the others were complete jerks for what they do to Nesta at the beginning of the book.
  • I like how she feels like she’s a piece of shit because others have made her feel that way.
Find this and more images at  Society6 by Dominique Wesson 

What I didn’t like…

  • I didn’t like how Cassian could cut the ribbon. I would have loved for him to almost do it, but not properly so the women could have a real win.

That’s it for the dislike list.

A Court of Frost a d Starlight paved the way for more perspectives in this series. The first three definitely suited Feyre with the odd hop to Rhys, but I’m glad it’s branched out. I think we needed a new protagonist to spice things up in the series.

If you like bigger picture plot movement, this isn’t going to be your thing. There is a bigger plot going on, and things get interesting all around but ACoSF is more character-driven, which I personally love when done right. This doesn’t disappoint.

Book Review. Eversong by Donna Grant. 3.5 Stars

Warning: Some reviews contain minor spoilers, but I keep the best parts vague. Check out my Reading Ranting page for more reviews and thoughts on reading.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

What I liked…

  • Multiple POVs. I love 2 to 4 or even 5 POVs in my reading as well as my writing. I enjoyed the various perspectives  and where each character and group of people were coming from.
  • I liked the romance and the lack of unnecessary drama for the sake of building some tension like some romance tropes. 
  • The characters were nicely done with clear wants and needs.
  • I loved the love scenes.

What I didn’t like…

  • Without spoiling things, I think one of the earlier POVs could be cut since it doesn’t continue later in the book, and there’s another character that could convey the same thing.
  • Also, a couple of new POVs came in pretty late (half-way) for my liking. Personally, I feel that POVs should be established in the first act of a novel. 
  • The prose was a bit simple. It conveyed the right things, but was low on the creative side for my liking. 
  • The love scenes were a bit too explicit for YA in my opinion. I don’t mean for them to be fade-to-black, just a smidge more delicate for the age category.

If you like witches and witch-hunters out for revenge, then this should be on your TBR list. Just to warn you, the other books in the series each have their own set of main characters, so if you’re looking for a series to get addicted to for its characters, this isn’t going to be your thing.

Book Review. Once and Future Witches. 5 Stars.

Warning: Some reviews contain minor spoilers, but I keep the best parts vague. Check out my Reading Ranting page for more reviews and thoughts on reading.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

So many things to love about this book that I’ve probably missed things.

What I liked…

  • The writing style was an entertaining combination of eclectic and straightforward. I can’t pinpoint anything in particular, but I just love the tone of the POVs.
  • And OMG, I love the spells as epigraphs and the alternative fairytale interludes. They make for such a unique read in modern literature.
  • I love the casual slip into backstory that feel so perfectly place that it doesn’t even feel like backstory. It feels more like justification, which is exactly what I feel like backstory should be.
  • The characters were so wonderfully different but all ended up wanting the same thing. 
  • It’s a strong character-driven story, but the characterisation didn’t feel slow or boring like in some books. It grounded me in each of the sisters’ mindset so I understood their motives.
  • I really liked how it tied into real history with equality. I like real world issues in fantasy. It keeps it relatable to our own world and gives it more meaning and relevance.

 What I didn’t like…

  • Nothing worth mentioning. 

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who loves great characters, real issues, and a little magic to make it fun.

Book to Movie Review. Wicked by Jennifer L. Armentrout 4 stars

Warning: Some reviews contain minor spoilers, but I keep the best parts vague. Check out my Reading Ranting page for more reviews and thoughts on reading.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I know I had a lot of negative things to say about Jennifer’s Blood and Ash series, but her Wicked series was a true favourite of mine. I recently read book 3 after a million years since I read book 2. But I decided to refresh my memory with the movie on Passionflix. Book-to-movie adaptations are so rarely what the original author intended, so I always go in with an open mind. This adaptation was produced by Jennifer herself, so I’m sure she had a huge say in her movie baby.

Anyway, onto what I liked…

  • The characters were pretty much how I envisioned them. Maybe Ivy’s hair was tidier than the book implied, but her character felt as close as a real person could get to a fictional character. Same with Ren. Unfortunately, my memory of the others are a bit vague.
  • I loved the on screen chemistry between Ivy and Ren. Just like the book.
  • The locations were spot on from what I’d imagined based on the book’s descriptions. It really was fun to see the words come to life.

What I didn’t like… One thing I didn’t like. That’s all.

  • I think the quality of the production let the film down compared to its possibilities with a bigger production company. I saw the trailer and was prepared for it. Then again, without Passionflix, it wouldn’t have been made. So it was a small sacrifice to see a great story come to life.

Generally, I really liked it. It was so incredibly like the book and a fun movie to watch.

Passionflix is available through most web browsers, Android, and various other devices, including my LG smart TV. Also, if you like romance novels, you’ll find many other titles on there turned into movies. Personally, I’m not a fan of romance novels unless they have a heavy dose of fantasy and sci-fi, but I’ll happily watch a cheesy film. Try “Dirty, Sexy Saint” for a fun film.

Book Review. The Kingdom of Flesh and Fire, and Crown of Guilded Bones by Jennifer L. Armentrout. 2 stars.

Warning: Some reviews contain minor spoilers, but I keep the best parts vague. Check out my Reading Ranting page for more reviews and thoughts on reading.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Disclosure: I didn’t finish book 3 because I just gave up. Also, this is a pretty negative review. I liked book 1 for the most part, but the series went downhill from there, and I’m truly sorry to Jennifer since I loved her Wicked and Titan series a lot. Also, I purposely put books 2 and 3 from the Blood and Ash series together because I had the same feeling during both books.

What I liked…

I liked Poppy’s gradual transition from innocent, naive, and sheltered Maiden to someone who sees and accepts the realities of the conflicts around her. 

I also liked her realistic sense of inner conflict over everything she thought she knew compared to everything she’s learning. That’s not easy to flip beliefs like that, so her processing and continuous questioning of the truth felt pretty satisfying.

Poppy’s growth of magic. I had issues with explanations of this (see below for what I didn’t like) but I loved how her powers grew and evolved in stages.

What I didn’t like…

So many bad sex scenes. 

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. I love a good love scene, but i don’t like over descriptions or dragging scenes. Also, I thought this series was YA with the MC being 18. That doesn’t mean to say the book can’t have sex scenes. Teenagers have sex whether others approve or not. But the frequency and narration and over description of the sex scenes did not fit my idea of a YA love scene. And I’ve ead some really good sex scene from YA authors that are obvious as to what’s going on without going into detail on… plunging. Like… sounds painful.

The inappropriate timing of sex scenes was insane. Like in book 2, just after Poppy kills a significant character, she and Cas get hot and steamy in the carriage that brought said victim to their location. And in book 3, just before she meets with someone important for the first time in ages, the conversation during that love scene was seriously off base. Also, the scenes just dragged with long conversations before and after. Ugh, not sexy or romantic IMO.

Overdone character traits…

Poppy has questions… Obviously, because she’s been sheltered all her life and knows nothing about the big wide world and the people thought to be extinct.

Cas always accuses her of being violent after some very acceptable violence in very limited and warranted situations against people who genuinely hurt her in very deep ways. 

As for the big wide world… why are we just learning about everything that should have been hinted at sooner through Poppy’s curiosity or Casteels’ loooooong explantations about stuff. This is mainly a book 3 issue, but I feel so much was left out that it’s all just being dropped on the reader as it happens. This just feels more convenient for the author rather than building up to major things with mentions here and there that make sense when they need to.

Poppy’s powers… I know I said I liked them, and I did, but her sudden ability to control said powers was unrealistic. I can understand a one-off because of emotional desperation, but this seems to just happen without a struggle.

Willamina Collins’ diary. This is a saucy journal that Poppy found in book 1, but Cas (when he went by Hawke) discovered her stealing the book from the library and just won’t let it go even though he’s the one who brought it on the trip and keeps going on about it. It also seems to be a source of sex education via Cas, I mean, Poppy’s worked out a lot from the book, so why Cas needs to give more explanation is beyond me.

After everything Poppy’s done with Casteel, I find it ridiculous that she still gets squeamish over his mention of the book or anything sexual. I totally get some uncontrollable blushing because some people genuinely can’t help that, but the outright protesting and constant defensiveness was way overdone on multiple occasions when she’s actually up for it when the the moment happens. That needed levelling out a lot.

Overall, I was disappointed with both books, and don’t plan to finish book 3 any time soon or read book 4. Jennifer should stick to the more modern/urban fantasy like Wicked, which I finally read. I’ll definitely have a more positive review of this book along with the movie of book 1 on Passionflix.