Redemption by R.K. Ryals

Rating: 4 stars

Series: Redemption #1

Dayton Blainey experienced the loss of her parents when she was young. Afterwards she and her sister Amber lived with their aunt in an abbey. Dayton had a difficult time living there because her aunt was cold and distant and her sister tended to side with her aunt. She depended on her friends to have any real sense of family.

When her parents died, Dayton began having bizarre dreams that involved her father. She could never interpret their meaning. She also had the feeling that she was being watched. Around the time of her 17th birthday, her aunt began to take interest in her, and it made her suspicious. Plus her friends who had their own supernatural abilities warned her to stay away from the abbey. They didn’t know what would happen but knew it would be bad. Of course Dayton didn’t listen to this advice and her was permanently altered.

Although this was YA, it didn’t feel like it in many ways. The characters were mature for teenagers. Dayton swore a lot, which I enjoyed. She never held back from telling people how she felt. She was tough and stood up for what she thought was right. The best part was she managed to be this way without being bitchy or rude unless the situation warranted it.

I did get annoyed during the first half of the novel because Dayton had many warnings that something bad would happen to her and she ignored all of them. To be fair it made sense for her to ignore them because although she felt alone at the abbey it was her home and it was where her family was. Her family didn’t always treat her right but to some degree she trusted them.

The second half of the book was excellent. A whole new world opened up to Dayton. She learned a lot about herself and about the people in her family. She found out who she could trust and who she couldn’t. This part of the book took a drastic turn because Dayton’s life was in danger. Although a fair amount of information was revealed, it didn’t deter me from immediately wanting to read the next one. Enough was left unresolved to keep interest in the series.

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The Shadow Revolution by Clay and Susan Griffith

Rating: 4 stars

Series: Crown & Key #1

Something strange was going on. Simon Archer and his friend Nick Barker discovered a werewolf causing problems in London. Both of them had powerful magic but could barely escape from the werewolves clutches. In the process of hunting the werewolf, Simon was introduced to Kate Anstruther. Family problems of her own caused her to work with Simon to figure out what was going on in London. Malcolm MacFarlane the werewolf hunter assisted them in their fight against a common enemy.

My favorite part of this was the banter. Everyone spoke in a manner that seemed appropriate for high society people, which is something a lot of authors don’t get right. Many of the characters especially Simon were witty. Simon was quite funny at times. I laughed out loud several times, which was not something I was expecting.

There is some romance in the story, but it is not the type with strong declarations of love and lusty thoughts. It was nice for a change to read about characters who were attracted to each other without endless paragraphs about how stunning the characters looked. The romance was the slow burning type, which is preferable. I was afraid from the synopsis of the book that there was going to be a love triangle but luckily that was not the case.

Most of the time the first book in a series is weak, but this wasn’t. Enough was explained that the world building was not confusing, but there was enough left unexplained that makes me want to read the next one. There were some steampunk elements, but I’d say this was more a blend of fantasy and steampunk. The Shadow Revolution was a great start to a new series!

Thank you netgalley for giving me this ARC in exchange for an honest review!!!

Eighth Grave After Dark by Darynda Jones

Rating: 2 stars

Series: Charley Davidson #8

I loved the first 5 Charley Davidson books, but they have gone progressively downhill since. This series used to be UF/PNR. Now it’s practically a fucking cozy mystery with a paranormal twist because Charley doesn’t do shit and figures everything out by talking to people. Except she doesn’t talk to anyone she really needs to and winds up in trouble because she thinks she knows best. The thing this book needed most was a plot. Almost nothing happened. The only reason I finished the book was because I heard the end was surprising, which it was. But was it good? That’s debatable. Where is the series headed? It’s gone off in an odd direction.

I desperately miss the old Reyes. He was a bad ass and was edgy and unpredictable. He used to live by his own rules and didn’t listen to anyone else. Now he doesn’t do anything but protect Charley. Every move he makes is so obvious because it’s all about Charley. He’s the son of Satan FFS! Do something that is mildly interesting. Wow me with your awesomeness. On the bright side he’s still sexy (yes I am being sarcastic). Charley and every other woman in the book noticed constantly. Apparently being the most gorgeous man alive is supposed to make me forget that he’s gotten soft.

Some long awaited questions were finally answered and were a big letdown. What Charley is was revealed, which didn’t add much to the story. It’s already been said that she’s all powerful, which is fucking lame anyway. What is exciting about a character that can’t be bested and has no limitations? Nothing. Frankly she isn’t deserving of being special. She’s not dumb but lacks forethought. How many times can she put her life in danger without any serious consequences? Shouldn’t someone with her powers be able to think ahead and do what is best for the long run instead of what is best for right now? If she keeps going at this rate, she’ll end up destroying the universe out of some misguided attempt to save one person. And if she really cares so much about people, then why doesn’t she actively seek out people to help instead of only helping when she’s asked?

I expected to be blown away when Mr. Wong’s identity was revealed. I was sorely disappointed there. I hadn’t figured out who he was but thought after all of this build up that it would have been epic. His general role in the series was what I expected it to be, but why and how he got there wasn’t.

The prophecy is focusing more on the daughter than Charley and Reyes now. Is a big time jump coming where she is grown up? It appears the story may shift in that direction although I could be completely wrong about that. As creepy as it is, there are hints the baby may have a love interest already, which is really gross. It is not appealing for a grown man to watch a child grow up and fall in love with her as an adult.

The end definitely changed things. Based on the problems Charley was facing, it seems like the simple solution would be to tell her her real name in the next book. Of course it won’t play out like that because there wouldn’t be any point to the next book. It’s sad to say but I’m no longer interested in the overarching storyline. This series took a wrong turn with Charley being a mother.

In the Land of Tea and Ravens by R.K. Ryals

Rating: 4 stars

In the Land of Tea and Ravens was beautiful. Lyric and Grayson were sad, broken characters. Neither of them were bad people but had tragic pasts that would haunt them for the rest of their lives. The story wasn’t depressing; it was about hope and acceptance although there was a pervasive feeling of melancholy throughout.

Grayson and Lyric were both outcasts. Many people did not like Grayson for what happened in his past, but it was his family that had the strongest resentment towards him. Lyric was accepted by her family because they knew her secrets, but the rest of society abhorred her. Rumors about Lyric’s family indicated that the women were crazy and managed to taint the men in their lives with their insanity.

No surprises were in store in regards to the romance. It was fairly predictable, but the story excelled in other areas. The realistic setting with a touch of fantasy enhanced the story because the fantasy elements were original. The plot was interesting because it emphasized how deeply people can be impacted by the actions of others. Truly it was the writing that made it stand out. It was eloquent and beautiful without being overly complex or hard to understand.

The Gypsy Brothers Series by Lili St. Germain

seven sons

The whole series is 7 novellas. I love and hate this series all at the same time. The best way to describe the series is like driving by the scene of an accident: you know it’s bad but you can’t look away. Parts of it were really bad, but I liked it at the same time. I couldn’t put them down.

2

Juliette grew up around a biker gang since her dad was in one. When she was 15, she was gang raped by her dad’s best friend and his sons. The same people killed her dad. They thought she was dead, so she went into hiding. Six years later she had a plan to get her revenge that involved infiltrating the Gypsy Brothers.

3

The idea behind the story was great. I love the thought of getting revenge on the assholes who raped her. They guy who orchestrated the gang rape was the Dornan Ross who was her dad’s friend. He had seven sons. The youngest one Jase was the only one who didn’t rape her. He and Juliette had been in love. He was the only person in the Ross family she didn’t want to kill.

4

Juliette went to extreme lengths to hide her identity. She had plastic surgery to drastically alter her appearance. Aside from that her plans were shoddy. There wasn’t any kind of detailed plan aside from get close to them and kill them. She didn’t know how she was going to do it without implicating herself. She had six years to think about this and walked in to see Dornan with some half assed ideas. Juliette was impulsive and never knew when to keep her mouth shut. By the end of the second book, I was wondering why she wasn’t dead considering she had made so many stupid decisions.

5

The main thing that was a big turn off for me was when she willingly slept with Dornan to infiltrate the gang. She became his girlfriend, and they had sex a lot. WTF? She could have gone after them in many other ways. Sleeping with your rapist even if it is for the purpose of revenge is fucked up and twisted. Her reasons for doing it made sense, but IDK how a piece of her didn’t die each time he touched her. It was even more twisted considering she was in love with Jase and saw him all the time while she was at the biker club house. The two of them grew close, but she had to hide her true identity from him. If the truth would be revealed who could reasonably expect him to forgive her for all of the crazy shit she was doing?

6

I can let some of the craziness go because it wasn’t the most realistic story ever. It was worth it to read just for Jase. He was the most decent and level headed person in the whole series. He wasn’t an innocent by any means; he was involved in crime and had killed before. He was a nice bad boy.

7

I’d rate the entire series as 3 ½ stars. The novellas got better as the series went on because more secrets were revealed and more screwed up things kept happening. These were very entertaining. If you like dark romances, I’d definitely recommend it.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Rating: 1.5 stars

From the synopsis, I thought this was going to have a stronger romantic element. When in reality it focused on saving the country from the woods, which is an evil, magical forest. This delved more into fantasy than PNR, which was fine; I just hadn’t been expecting it. The world building was the best part of the book. I loved the woods. They were creepy, dangerous, and mysterious. The story failed in other areas like plot and character development. The first half where I was learning about the world was entertaining. Then the setting changed, and the story began to drag on and on. By the last 150 pages or so, I felt like it needed to get to the point already.

One teenage girl from the village was selected to live with the Dragon every ten years, and he chose Agnieszka. He was not a real dragon BTW; he’s just a wizard named Dragon. I was seriously disappointed the story didn’t have an actual dragon in it. He required the servitude of these young women for an unspecified purpose, but people went along with it because he protected the towns from the woods. No one seemed deeply concerned about the fates of these young girls. He could have been cruel, abusive, or a rapist. I guess no one cares when it’s not happening to them.

Agnieszka quickly figured out she had magical powers. Unfortunately this had the trope of her being special and practically all powerful. She can do what no one else does. Her powers made the story dull. It was obvious early on in the book that she was going to find a magical fix for any problem that popped up. She never had to follow magical rules, so she just pulled some crazy trick out of her ass every time there was a problem. It wasn’t exciting to read when it was obvious she would never truly be in danger because of her abilities.

I couldn’t connect with any of the characters. Agnieszka was too much of a Mary Sue. Not that it matters but I hate her name. How the hell do you pronounce it anyway? The Dragon was a jerk most of the time. He didn’t change much over the course of the book. I never warmed to him, so the romance wasn’t all that entertaining. There were a few other characters, but I just didn’t care about them. Whenever a character was killed, it had no emotional impact at all although I’m sure it was supposed to.

The ending was lackluster in more ways than one. Once things were revealed, it seemed too simplistic or maybe I was so insanely bored by then that I was left thinking that’s it!?. The woods was an evil force to be reckoned with, but the cause of it being evil didn’t satisfactorily explain the depths of the depravity the woods caused. I had been expecting something deeper and darker. Parts of the end were confusing as hell and made no sense at all even after rereading them. The conclusion to the romance if you can even call it that was less than satisfactory. I didn’t grasp why she cared about Dragon. IMO he wasn’t anything to write home about. The premise was great, but the execution of it wasn’t. Apparently this is another one of those novels everyone loves but me.

I was provided with this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.