Book Review: A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire (Blood and Ash #2) by Jennifer L Armentrout

a kingdom of flesh and fire

“You stabbed Casteel?” Jasper repeated. “In the heart? With bloodstone. And you thought it would kill him?”
“In my defense, I felt bad afterward.”
“She did cry,” Casteel remarked.
I was going to stab him again.

What’s this about?

A proposal. A journey. Secret’s unveiled. Biting smut. (Let’s be real, we are are just in this for the biting smut 😏).

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Review:

Oh wow.

I enjoyed FROM BLOOD AND ASH but I seriously wasn’t expecting to love this book as much as I do!!!

I was not expecting this to be one of my favorite JLA books to date.

This book had great banter. Amazing sexual tension. Great sex scenes. A fun plot. And it makes me super super excited for the next book in the series!!

Like all JLA books, the ‘twists’ you can see coming a mile away, but that doesn’t make them any less enjoyable! I also like how this plot seemed more cohesive than the first book. I felt like FBAA was two books smooshed into one.

While I do like this story, JLA relies pretty heavily on Poppy asking a million and one questions to do her worldbuilding. Which at times I enjoyed because it helped to break up long portions of info dump, but at other times it was infuriating. I can see why Kieran sometimes hates her lol 😂

Also this book is 100% a filler. It’s mostly used to enhance the worldbuilding, set up the next book, and further develop Cas/Poppy’s relationship. I still found it fun as hell, even as a filler! It’s just a bit slower than the first book.

I really think JLA should just stick to writing NA books instead of YA since clearly this is where her talent lies. I know her YA SFF definitely tends to lean towards upper YA and be steamy-ish (nowhere near ACOTAR level), but this was just *chef’s kiss*. And this was wayyy steamier and the sex scenes wayyyy better than those in her Titans series (her other NA series). Or maybe JLA should just stick to writing sexual tension filled, trope-y af vampire inspired NA books. Because that shit was 💯

Also…..is anyone really hoping the Joining happens in the next book or is that just me….😏💦🥵

I mean that scene where Cas bit Poppy and grinded on her while smooshing Kieran against the wall making a hot Poppy sandwich was…..🥵

Also Cas/Poppy whole ‘let’s just pretend’ thing they have going on has such Jude/Cardan ‘I want to tell you so many lies’ energy and I am so here for it.

I want to tell people that Poppy/Cas have a pretty physically violent relationship (Poppy towards Cas) but he is super turned on by it so it’s chill. Their violence seems consensual so have at it lol. (I know some will be bothered by it, but if it’s consensual I don’t see the big deal tbh)

This isn’t the first time that JLA has tried to have some political allegories in her work (the Origin series is probably the most obvious to-date), but usually while I see what she’s trying to get at, her execution ends up a bit flawed because she oversimplifies the problems/solutions. I feel like the political allegories that she writes about in this book are handled so much better than her other books have.

Basically in this book Poppy recognizes that she was complicit in an environment that hurt innocent people. And that while she was also a victim/product of that environment, she still has to take responsibility for how she enabled it to still occur.

“But you know what else is true? Right now, you are destroying an intricate section of the system that has chained an entire kingdom for hundreds of years,” he added. “You should never forget that you were once an accessory, but you also shouldn’t forget what you are now a part of.”

It was really cool and I thought handled pretty well. I really wasn’t expecting JLA to have the range to pull off the imagery but she does. I also love how there was zero victim blaming of what Poppy suffered through and what Cas suffered through.

I also think the book handled really well what it’s like to have someone be your first everything when you aren’t their first anything (not their first love nor kiss nor sex nor anything). Her acceptance. Her insecurities. It was all handled super well. I’m so glad Poppy didn’t act like an over jealous YA heroine. Poppy was so chill about all of it.

I really enjoyed the character growth in this book. The ending was a tad….odd? But would it be a JLA book if it didn’t end on a cliffhanger?!?!?!?!?!

All in all this series definitely going to be one of my go to rereads when I’m in a book slump.

It’s streamy. It’s fun. It’s so fucking trope-y in the best possible way.

Would totally recommend.

I am, and forever will be, JLA trash.

Content Warnings: mentions of rape, gore, violence, murder, alcohol consumption, abuse, mentions of suicide

Book Review: From Blood and Ash (Blood and Ash #1) by Jennifer L Armentrout

from blood and ash

“No one is here.” He glanced around the hall. “Unless you see people I can’t.”
“Yes, I see the spirits of those who’ve made bad life choices,” I replied dryly

What’s this about?

Poppy is the Maiden. Essentially her job is to not talk to anyone, remain a virgin, do as she is told, and one day get called upon by the Queen. Hawke is a body guard who’s job is to…well…guard Poppy’s body. Unfortunately for him, Poppy isn’t a very good Maiden. She sneaks out. She talks back. She’s feisty. Trouble is coming…but from whom?

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

My Review:

I loved this book.

I won’t lie, it definitely has a slow start and it needed a tad more world-building, but it was so fun I don’t even care. Yeah it was a bit trope-y, but in a good way. I don’t mind reading cliched books where I can guess all of the twists and long as I’m having fun while I’m reading it. And this was fun! Plus that ended was so good I’m legit mad the sequel isn’t already out.

I’ve been a JLA stan for years, ever since I first read the Lux series way back in 2012. It’s actually the series that made me want to be a book blogger (even though it took me years to finally work up the courage to actually be one). I’ve read every JLA series she’s written (besides her contemporary stuff). Every single one of those books I’ve read multiple times. So reading this book for me was…weird.

Not because it’s her first attempt at writing high fantasy, but because it’s the first time since 2014 I haven’t read something of hers that either a). I had already read before or b). was a spin-off of a series of hers I had already read before. Her books, while don’t always have the best representation (especially her earlier series), always feel like coming home. Most book bloggers have Harry Potter while I have JLA. So this was weird because it’s the first book of hers I’ve read in a long time that took place in a world I wasn’t familiar with and with characters I hadn’t already met before. I didn’t know how it would work.

And while it doesn’t feel like home yet, it definitely seems like it will. (Especially because I’m a slut for the last four chapters. As soon as I finished the book I had to go and read them again.) I found the book to be immensely enjoyable. I can’t wait to reread it again in a few weeks.

At times the book was a tad odd because it will take common names like Penelope and Melissa and then ‘fantasy-ize’ them to be Penellaphe and Malessa. She did the same thing with some town names and god names too. I don’t have a problem with it, but I think it was the features like that that made the book not feel as high fantasy as other high fantasy books do. This isn’t a bad thing (I’m actually getting a little tired of high fantasy as of late). And she puts her own twist on other modern urban fantasy genre staples which also made it feel less high fantasy and more urban (even though the technology and clothing is typical of high fantasy books). Again, I liked these features.

I don’t recall ever reading a JLA book where I didn’t see the ‘main’ plot twist coming. But I’m beginning to think that’s actually a tool of her craft. It feels like she’s waving the most obvious flag saying ‘Over here! I’m right here!’ to the point that you end up not noticing other little things that sneak up on you. Same thing happened to me with this book. All of her ‘main’ plot twists I saw coming very early on, but all of the little twists I didn’t. This happens to me in each of her books. It’s actually kind of smart in a way? Because instead of one huge twist I’m hit with all these little ones.

I do want to say that I’ve seen a lot of people shelve this book on here as YA and this book is about as YA as ACOTAR is. There are multiple graphic sex scenes in it (shout out to any gender being able to take a contraceptive potion!), so if reading that makes you uncomfortable then don’t.

I also want to point out how much growth JLA has done as an author. I love her earlier books, but they are full of slut-shaming and gay stereotypes and barely any people of color. But she’s evolved. A huge part of this plot is Poppy’s virginity. It’s held up on a pedestal, but always questioned and challenged by Poppy. JLA also has gotten so much better with describing skin tones in her books, by doing so with both white and POC characters. I think it’s important to show when authors grow. I do want to mention that Poppy’s best friend, Tawny, who is a WOC is essentially in a servant role (she is Poppy’s maid/companion which is the norm for every second child in this world regardless of race/gender). This aspect of the story may be upsetting to some, even though Poppy views Tawny as a friend rather than a servant.

Basically I really enjoyed this book and I can’t mention my favorite parts because those are all spoilers. I know JLA mentioned in her author’s note that she started writing this back in November and thought of self-publishing to get it out to all of us sooner, so I am crossing my fingers that she won’t do what regular publishers do nowadays which is to publish only one book in a series a year (times were different back in the Lux days) and we can get the sequel this year because that cliffhanger has me dead. I legit SCREAMED when I read the last sentence of the book.

Content Warnings and Trigger Warnings: drug use (poppy, alcohol), physical abuse (including alluded spousal abuse), kiss that occurs while person think it is someone else, on-page sexual assault, implied rape, mind control, slavery, violence, gore, parental death, grief, imprisonment, self-loathing of scars (not from self-harm), bullying/body shaming of scars

Book Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

the invisible life of addie laure

The evening is quiet, and she is alone, but for once it is not the same as being lonely.

What’s this about?

Addie made a deal with the devil to live forever. However, our girl forgot to read the fine print. In exchange for eternity (or rather, until she is done with her life), she is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she ever meets. She can never leave her mark. Not with words or email or pictures or memory. Until one day she meets a man at a bookshop who does.

My Rating: 1.5/5 stars

My Review:

No one is more surprised than me that I am giving a VE Schwab book less than four stars…

Let me start off with the good:

* I love how this book is super queer: Addie is bisexual and Henry is pansexual. Both are narrators of the book!

* I enjoyed the writing style (most of the time)! A lot of the quotes you’ve seen floating around on reviews are many of my favorite lines from this book! The writing style is atmospheric.

* I can relate to both characters: Like Addie, I don’t want to be tied to a person or place (but unlike Addie, I would actually love living where everyone forgot who I am). I relate to Henry because I also have depression and anxiety and over think everything I say (hence why I would love ppl to just forget me as soon as I leave so I won’t stress over what I’ve said lol) and struggle with never feeling enough. Also what Henry’s thoughts were on college I felt pretty deeply: college was fun for me when I was learning a little of everything but when I had to pick a major I hated it.

* The whole book really felt like a love letter to the arts which was cool. You don’t see enough art appreciation today.

* I like that Henry and Addie are both super messy characters who make questionable choices. Who can be selfish. Who aren’t perfect. Who have numerous flaws but both care about each other in spite of them.

* The ending was super meta and I actually kind of dig it even though I rolled my eyes a bit at it too?!? lol.

Now the bad:

* The book was super repetitive. I get it was for the Aesthetic™, but it got annoying. There is no need to make the same fucking point over and over and over and over and over again.

* The book was all fucking tell and no show. It glossed over everything way too quickly. We barley got to actually see Addie throughout the years or how she grew as a person or lost her ability to feel/relate to humans. We didn’t see her visit anywhere but Europe/America. We never really saw how cruel history can be beyond a brief mention of the world wars/french revolution. For a character who sounded like she thought she was straight for a long time we never saw her realize that she wasn’t. We never got to see how her thoughts change as feminism did or as people got more empathetic and less racist or any other thought patterns that have changed across centuries or decades. It felt like the only attempt V tried at addressing any of the atrocities that occurred in that 300 year window was Luc condemning nazis. Literally if I hadn’t gotten years on the flashback chapters I never would’ve known they took place in the past. It didn’t feel like snap shots of history because they all centered around her hometown or Estelle or Luc. I didn’t feel like I travelled 300 years with Addie. I felt like I travelled through 20 different dinner sets though. Hell, even the present chapters were spread out across 6 months but felt like a week because we saw zero character development or growth plot. Because of this, I never got attached to any of the characters. Never could figure out why every artist was drawn to Addie. I wasn’t attached to the plot or the time or the theme and I expected a girl who was 323 to have more personality and be more interesting beyond ‘bisexual, has lots of sex with artists, is a muse, shows up hidden in art, and knows 20 languages.’ Sorry, but she was kinda boring?

* Maybe I’m just reading into it too much, but the whole Addie dressing as a dude and then looking in the mirror and commenting on how everyone can still tell that she is just a woman in man’s clothes felt…if not transphobic than at least insensitive to the trans community. I wish that Addie was genderfluid or something instead of cross dressing (which many trans people have mentioned is hurtful trope in fantasy) but if you’re going to include it then don’t have fucking pages and pages of internal monologue mentioning how everyone knows she’s just a woman in man’s clothing. Idk those scenes kinda bothered me. Am I reading into it? Idk. I haven’t seen (openly) trans people comment on it though….?

* I hated all of the ‘she didn’t know then, but ten years later she would…’ or ‘the next time she would visit XYZ would be…’ or ‘give it fifty years and then…’ and it was just SO ANNOYING. we get it. you’re old. but I don’t give a fuck what you’re doing ten years from now, I care about what is happening in this moment.

* The only interesting section of the book was Part Six. The only truly interesting character was Luc. Like Henry is cool and all and Addie is neat, but I like villains and morally grey characters not depressed twenty-somethings (or depressed three hundred and twenty-somethings) who just want to leave a mark or be loved. (Although I wish we had gotten more flashbacks of Luc/Addie so we can see how their relationship grew from hate to something else.) Honestly based on how the book ended, if it ever got a sequel then that is the book I would be interested in, not this. Idk it felt like it was trying too hard to be the second half of the first season of Russian Doll but fell short.

* The book was slow. Nothing really happened. It was just people having existential crises and finding a person who you can leave your mark with and the pleasures of finding the blips of joy in a life full of bad. There was zero plot. The whole book felt like a series of shorts sewn together haphazardly.

TL;DR:

All in all, I get why people love this book. I just found it horribly boring. I would rather see a movie about it than read it (but honestly I would probably find the movie boring too). The book gave off award season movie vibes that somehow wins an Oscar for Best Picture even though it’s incredibly slow and boring and not a movie you want to ever rewatch? I would rather read a book about what happens after the end of this one than have suffered through this 🙄

Maybe I went into this with too high of expectations? V has been talking about Addie since I started reading her books five years ago. Actually, she’s probably been talking about Addie even longer than that. I’ve followed her writing process for years about how she let the idea of Addie stew for a long time before she even started writing it. I followed her journey writing this book and then editing this book and then promoting this book. I saw so many five star reviews for Addie. I followed Addie from the time it was a seed of an idea to a fully fledged book. I was so excited to read this book. But ultimately…it fell flat. And now I’m just left with disappointment.

Content Warnings: suicidal thoughts/ideation, emesis, sexual assault, dubcon, alcohol consumption, drug use, drugging a person without their consent, mind control, starvation, self-harm, addiction, depression, anxiety attack

Five Early YA Plotlines That Probably Wouldn’t Be Published Today

Grossed Out Face GIFs

Early YA was a wild ride. Many of the books were a product of their time full of slut shaming, stalker boyfriends (because apparently how well he can stalk you directly correlates to how much he loves you), melodramatic love triangles, and guys who think “no” means “yes” (and apparently that’s “sexy”). As YA has grown and evolved (especially after the #MeToo and #WeNeedDiverseBooks movements), sometimes revisiting older books makes me realize just how dated they truly were. I’m glad YA is changing as we as a culture progress to be a more accepting and consciences society. So here are five YA plotlines that are so wild they could only exist in early YA books.

City of Bones (2007): Pseudo-incest

Image of Jace from TMI movie with caption: Friendzoned? That's cute, try being brotherzoned.

This book. Luckily I was one of the people who didn’t start reading TMI until after the first few books were released so I could google and find out that they weren’t actually related. But the whole, ‘we think we are brother and sister but are going to make out anyways’ was such a weird fucking take. I get the appeal of a ‘forbidden love story’ (although this is too forbidden for my taste), but this is a YA novel, not fanfiction or some taboo erotica. And then no one ever really addresses the fact that for like a year, they thought they were related and still tried to bone. Everyone just moved on sooooo quickly. And Clary also still kissed her bio brother at one point. So….awkward all around. Nowadays, I think an editor would be quick to cut out an incest plotline in a YA book unless it was an issues book that involved grooming/sexual assault or something of that sort.

Vampire Academy (2007): Student-Teacher relationship

Dimitri: It's one thing if I were 36 and you were 28, or me 28 and you 20. 

Rose: that's a whole lot of math for someone who's not interested.

Ahhhhh. The 2000s. A simpler time where YA authors thought it was appropriate for students to date their teachers. Yuck. What adds to the creep factor of this book is that the author was a former teacher herself…. Vampire Academy is one of my guilty pleasure reads, but still….Rose and Dimitri’s relationship is messed up. He is her instructor. He is 7-8 years older than her. She is a minor. She is his student. I know that JLA’s The Covenant series has a similar student/instructor relationship, but that one has a 2 year age gap (I think?), and they both went to school together. In that series, Aiden is more like a tutor than an instructor. It’s significantly less creepy. Plus Dimitri always is going on about how immature Rose is and belittling her. Like no shit dude, she’s 17 of course she’s going to be immature and jealous and impulsive. Just like you’re going to be creepy for wanting to date her. Also no one thought their dynamic was weird. It was….gross. Plus idk why all of Rose’s love interest were significantly older than her. Because Adrian being 21 and wanting to date a 17 year old is also pretty weird. If a similar plotline existed today, the editor would probably have Dimitri be aged down to 19 to make it less creepy. Or if it was a New Adult book, then age up Rose to be 21 or something and keep Dimitri the same age.

Chosen (2008): Student-Teacher relationship

Butterfly Meme: Zoey's Friends. Zoey "Dating" Her Teacher. Is This A Healthy Relationship?

And we have another student teacher relationship. This series is also written by a former high school teacher…so….there’s that. This one is extra gross because Zoey is literally groomed by her teacher, is then victim blamed by her boyfriend who basically calls her a lying whore after he walks in on them after they had sex (they imprinted which makes you have a lust craze, so she was like magically drugged or whatnot), and when her friends find out none of them find it odd that she is “dating” her poetry teacher because he’s hawt. If you’re going to include a grooming storyline in your book do it right or don’t do it at all. It’s been a decade since I read these, but I don’t recall their relationship ever being condemned. Later it turns out he was told by the bad chick (who’s name I forget) to seduce Zoey and isolate her from her friends. Which is fucked up. And makes for a great villain storyline. But the book looked at it as that being the same level of bas as if she was seduced by a peer rather than an authority figure. It was a bad take that probably wouldn’t exist today unless that grooming aspect was further explored.

Breaking Dawn (2008): Jacob Imprints on Infant

Still of Jacob, Edward, and Bella with caption: So the only reason Jacob was attached to Bella was the tiny half-embryo of Renesmee calling out to him, right? SO why wasn't the other half of Renesmee calling out to him from Edward's ballsack?

I don’t think words can express how freaking weird this choice was and how much fanfiction it spun off. Not only Jacob/Nessie’s relationship fanfics, but other shifter imprint storylines of meeting their ‘soulmate’ and then having to wait until she came of age to be with her. These were seen as romantic that he waited for her to be legal but in reality that’s just gross and feels very groom-y. The imprint makes them have a pull to this child and the child to them, so the kid dosen’t even have free will to date and explore anyone else at any point in their lives. Pretty fucked up imo. And how the fuck will Jacob explain to Nessie: yeah, so I made out with your mom once but it was only because I imprinted on her unfertilized egg, so it meant nothing. I don’t think YA today would allow something quite so weird just for shock value.

Falling Kingdoms (2012): Pseudo-Incest

I am once again asking characters to stop wanting to bone their sisters

Again with the incest! In this book (because I only read the first book in this series) Magnus has a crush on a girl he was raised with at birth that he believed was his biological sister. He tried to kiss her once and she is totally repulsed (for good reason). Then they find out she was actually adopted and he is like ‘sweet we can be together’ and his sister is like ‘uhhhhh no’. He is devastated, and pissed that she doesn’t like him the same way and she feels violated after the incident. If I recall correctly, the book writes him so he is the hero of the story too? It is a very odd narrative choice. This is one of the most recent books on the list, but I haven’t really seen (pseudo)incest YA plotlines since then.

Honorable Mentions:

Sweet Evil (2012): I don’t recall exactly which book in the series this was, but in one of them you find out Kaiden (under direct order of his demon dad) used his ability to “seduce” (and I cringe even writing that word, but basically his power makes you horny and think you want sex) to “train” children (I think as young as like 11) to be sex trafficked. And….it was never fully addressed? Other demon off-spring under orders from their parents would seduce married men to cheat while they were underaged. The series had some interesting themes, but the whole ‘yeah my boyfriend raped children because his daddy told him to’ part was a tad much. I get that he is a victim of abuse in that scenario too, but he didn’t really have any mental health complications from it. I think if a book was written today with this same content, they would have further explored the sex trafficking, and what’s it’s like to be forced to commit a horrible crime you didn’t want to do.

Legend (2011): This is another series that I haven’t read in a super long time so I don’t recall exactly which book this occurs with in the series. But in the books June is 15. She is super smart so she always was several years ahead of her peers academically. In the books, she has a 20 year old romantically interested in her because she’s “mature” and “beautiful”. (She’s booksmart and has never dated.) To make things creepier, he comments on how much she always impressed him in classes. They graduate when they are 18 or something, so that means he was 18 and “super fascinated” by a freaking 13 year old. CREEPY. Also in the book Day was 12 when he kissed a 16 year old girl so she wouldn’t rat him out for stealing. This was supposed to be a funny/charming antedote, but it is super creepy instead. Why are so many people interested in children in this series!?! I think if the books were published today, they wouldn’t have made the age gaps quite so predatory.

Have you read any of these books?

Do you agree that these plotlines wouldn’t be included if the novels were published today, or do you think some still would?

What other older YA books have you read where they had some plotlines that you think wouldn’t be included if they were published today?

ARC Review: Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

“Villain,” he mouthed, liking the sound of it, the weight of the word on his bloodied lip. If protecting his crows made him a villain, then a villain he would be.

What’s this about?

Several stories converge around the day of black sun: the man who was once a boy told he would become a god, a disgraced Teek captain entrusted with a precious cargo, a sun priest who wants to bring change, and a young man who is mourning the loss of his mother.

Eh, the less you know going into this book the better. I promise.

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Review:

Holy.
Fucking.
Shit.

THIS BOOK WAS SO GOOD!

Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Black Sun has officially restored my love in the fantasy genre.

We are blessed with four POVs:

Serapio: When he was just a small boy, his mother told him he would become a god. I fucking love this guy. He’s all mysterious. He can control crows. He has secrets. And I have questions.

Xiala: She is a captain who has a slight alcohol problem. But unlike “Captain” Jack Sparrow, our girl is actually really good at her job. Plus she’s bisexual (or pan, maybe?). And she can influence people and the sea with her song. She is cool af. And kinda like a siren?

Naranpa: She is the sun priest. Basically everyone wants her dead. So that sucks. She started off as one of my least favorite POVs, but ohhhhh boyyyyyy did her storyline get interesting the farther you go into the book. I couldn’t tell if I wanted to give her a hug or sip some tea while watching all the drama unfold.

Okoa: He’s pretty much only here because someone died. Eh, sorry not sorry that’s the truth. He has a small role, but I can see how it’s going to be bigger in book two.

I loved the chemistry between Serapio and Xiala. I love how queer the book is: we have at least one bi POV and multiple non-binary side characters. It’s just so casually queer and I love it. I loved the religious worldbuilding too.

I can’t wait for the book to be released so I can actually see what the map looks like!

This book is all set up. I am really looking forward to seeing where Rebecca takes it. I do wish the book was longer. I wanted some more worldbuilding about the other cultures. This book felt very epic, in the style of Stormlight Archive, which was why I think a longer novel (in the 700-1000 page range) would’ve suited it better. The book was great, I just wanted a tad more about the world in this book. I’m sure we will get more exposure as the series goes on! I already feel like I need to reread the book because I missed things or later in the book was like OH! XYZ make so much more sense now!

If you like books with cults, religions, birds, queer characters, cool worldbuilding, strong female characters, birds (I’m adding it twice because birds), and an epic ending, then you’ll like this book!

Content Warnings and Trigger Warnings: emesis, homophobia, drug use, forced prostitution, child sex trafficking, child abuse, self-harm, alcohol consumption, alcoholism, violence, gore, murder

Book Review: Hear No Evil (The Society #2) by Ivy Fox

The Society

“Sometimes you just have to play the part of a villain in one life, to become the hero of someone else’s.”

So What’s This About?

The Society had their fun with Finn. Now it’s Easton’s turn. His task: corrupt the uncorruptable. The thing is, the good girl he is sent to take to take to sin, might not be as good as everyone thinks…

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Review:

Holy crap this was sooooo much better than See No Evil. We finally start to get some flashbacks as to what really happened that night. A few hints as to who The Society is and what they do. AND THAT FUCKING ENDING!?!?! Jeez, the last scene of the last chapter + the epilogue had my jaw dropping.

I feel like Ivy took notes, and edited this book down. It didn’t feel repetitive nor did it drag on like the first book. And the sex scenes weren’t repetitive. Also this book made me feel like an asshole for giving Rose shit for not letting Jack on the door since Easton clearly had a thoughtful response.

I loved how this book ended up not being a cliché!?! It could’ve been one so easily. It could’ve been a stereotypical bully-nerdy romance or a bad boy-preacher’s kid story. But NOPE! Freaking Scarlet had depth. She owned her sexuality. Easton wasn’t as much of a prick as he originally seemed. Their snide remarks was their version of foreplay. I loved it. I really wasn’t expecting the book to go the route it did. (Although he is way too jealous of a prick sometimes.)

Ugh part one: Kennedy. I loved her in book one, but book two she is turning into the type of character I hate. I don’t like it when one chick comes between family. I can’t understand what is so damn special about her that makes Lincoln and his dead brother and Colt all be in love/obsessed with her!?! I liked the whole Lincoln/Kennedy love each other from afar in book one, but hated it in this book just because it seems like she is going to date is whole family before him? I don’t want to slut shame, I just think it’s weird to date the brother of the guy you’re in love with. And to have maybe also had a thing with his cousin? It’s odd. Plus Kennedy sounds a tad unstable. Is she part of The Society!?! Idk.

Ugh part two: I get the vibe that Colt’s book will be next and his task will involve the ethic’s professor who failed him when he took her course. I really hope this is not the case because it is super unethical to sleep with your student and as an ethics teacher I would hope she knows better. (I don’t think he is in her class anymore, but still). But I sense that is the direction the next book will be heading. Booooooooo. Especially because she could literally lose her job over this.

Ugh part three: the author does not know how to use the word deadpan correctly and it drove me crazy.

This book finally is starting to weave a twisted web. I loved learning a bit about Scarlet and her tasks. I don’t want to spoil anything but the web has been spun and I cannot wait to see where it goes! I have soooooooo many theories.

Also why each book in this series follows a different couple, they are not standalones. You really need to read them in order or you might be a tad lost.

Content Warnings and Trigger Warnings: mentions of rape/child as result from rape, stalking, revenge porn, watching people have sex without their consent, mentions of overdose/potential suicide, murder

September Wrap-Up

September Wrap-Up

Hi all. Last month I did my first Monthly Wrap-Up Post and I had so much fun I decided to do it again! I didn’t review every book on this list, but most of the links on here will take you to my reviews either here or on Goodreads. (I usually put my reviews up on Goodreads first and then post here, so if you want to stay up-to-date with my reviews then friend/follow me on there!) If I didn’t write a review for the book, then the link will take you to the Goodreads description!

5/5 Stars: A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire by Jennifer L Armentrout

This is the second book in the Blood and Ash series and whooooaaaaaa boyyyyy is it good. It is funny. It is steamy. And I want that joining to happen ASAP!!! I loved this one more than the first book. I will admit though, that much of the worldbuilding occurs via Q&A sessions which got annoying after awhile, but at least JLA tried to be creative with her info dumps lol.

4.5/5: Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon

This was such a funny rom-com. It has hints of workplace romance. Hints of second chance romance. Hints of enemies-to-lovers. It’s steamy. It’s geeky. It’s funny af. I loved it. Highly recommend to fans of The Hating Game.

4/5 Stars: Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews

I wasn’t planning on rereading the whole book before reading Emerald Blaze, but when I was skimming to refresh my memory I got sucked in again! This was fun and just as enjoyable the second time around!

4/5: The Roommate by Rosie Danan

I really enjoyed this book! I know in my review I list several issues I had with the book , but overall I enjoyed it. The book is funny, steamy, and all about that female O. If you want to read my review where you can hide the spoilers, then read it on Goodreads. Basically I thought it was a funny romcom, but I wish some topics were handled differently overall. One thing I didn’t mention in my review, but just thought of is that the book is pretty binary and straight. It it’s quest for the female orgasm it ignores trans people and non-straight pairings.

4/5: Looking For It by Allyson Lindt

This book is a poly romance (MMF) that was actually super sweet! It has a girl joining a pre-existing MM relationship. The author managed to actually make me feel the love between all of the characters in this novella-sized book. Which is pretty impressive, since I’ve read 350+ page long romances that can’t convince me. While I loved this book, I probably won’t read the sequels. It looks like all of the women in the friend group are going to end up in poly relationships, and I hate book series that go that direction where an entire group of friends all decide to be in unconventional relationships (looking at you Tara Crescent). While I’m sure some friend groups IRL end up this way, it just feels unrealistic. Sorry, maybe that comes across as rude. I also hate books where all of one group of friends end up with the entire guy group of friends (looking at you Kendall Ryan) because that too feels unrealistic.

3.5/5: The Electric Heir by Victoria Lee

This is the second and final book in The Fever King series. I loved the first book so so much. And I loved the first half of this book. I loved how Victoria included such complexities around how both Noam and Dara were treated and how their abuse started. I cried the first few scenes with them together. Then the second half of the book got weird?!?! With a random war scene thrown in that I am still confused about!?! And the world’s most unclear ambiguous ending. Really I’m just pissed about the ending. This was the last book I read in September and it put me in a 5 day slump because of that ending.

3/5: Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews

I was super disappointed by this sequel to Sapphire Flames. I found the characters to have completely changed in the sixth month gap, plus it had too many plot holes. This wasn’t the standard I’m used to with this author duo. My review explains it better lol.

???: Beautiful Scars by Ariana Black

Not sure how to rate this one. Because on one hand, this is one of the funniest dark romances I have ever read. I was laughing out loud at times. Can we get more funny dark romances? Please and thank you. But on the other hand, it had some sideplots about very triggering topics that I don’t think were handled well. At all. Regarding rape, forced adoption, PTSD, deteriorating mental health, and setting up for the H of the next book to be the same guy who raped women in this book. I love dark romance, but I have limits. And those limits are for them to not actually have the H rape anyone in the book. Dubcon and CNC are fine. I just felt like they took a note from Shantel’s Slaughter by adding such gratuitous violence towards the h that it made the book less enjoyable to me. I know this is dark romance, but there is such a thing as dark romance that is, well, too, dark. For me at least.

???: Playing with Fire by LJ Shen

Gahhh. This is another book that I’m not sure how to rate!!! This book was a very different vibe from LJ’s usual stuff. I liked the romance. Overall it was a sweet small town, bad boy, hate-to-friends-to-lovers romance. I didn’t like how some aspects of the book went as far as what West’s secret was. I was hoping it was something different. But oh well. The book was really focused on healing of the mind which I thought was sweet.

2/5: Her Cocky Doctors by Tara Crescent

I’ve come to the realization that Tara likes to write the same book seven different times. I mean the sex scenes always nearly stay the same. The characters’ personalities stay the same. The only thing that changes is jobs and locations. They are decent, but kinda bland. Like oatmeal. This was one of her earlier works and it shows.

1.5/5: Grave by Shantel Tessier

Just click the link to read my review otherwise I’ll end up typing up a ten page rant lol. Basically the book had poorly handled addiction, sexual assault, and suicide. Plus weird plotlines that just show up only when convenient. Books like this make we wonder where the heck the editor was!?! Because it had the potential to be SO GOOD. But it failed. Epically.

All in all I had way more success reading good book in September than I did in August. I managed to not DNF any books this month! YAY! I’m impressed with myself lol. What good books did you read in September?

Have you read any of the books I did this month? Did you like them?

What was the best and worst book you read in September?

What books did you DNF in September?

Book Review: Looking For It by Allyson Lindt

Looking for It

Synopsis:

Hooking up with my brother’s two best friends was a bad idea.

But when the guy I’ve crushed on for ages stumbles on my stash of battery-operated toys, and offers to teach me how much fun they are with a partner, there’s no way I’m saying no.

Especially when his boyfriend wants to watch.

It’s just a one-time thing, though. Which is good, because I need headspace to focus on the Hollywood costume designer who’s trying to scam me and other cosplay designers like me out of our hard-earned money. She’s making my life a living hell for exposing her to the internet.

Jax and Grayson offer a tempting distraction by exposing me. In my bedroom. At a company holiday party…

If I can’t unravel how I feel about them, and sift through the Hollywood-style legal trouble we’ve brought crashing down around us, the only things I’ll be getting for Christmas are a broken career and a shattered heart. 

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Review:

I got this book because it was free on Amazon for a bit and it ended up being a sweet and fun and slightly steamy poly romance!

I loved how this book is super geeky. It captures pretty well what being a famous YouTuber is like, including all of the unsavory parts (like creeps giving you rape threats because they don’t like what you posted). It also explored how people take advantage of and try to exploit young creators.

I think it’s wild that in such a short book the author managed to actually make me feel the love between the three characters. I’ve read numerous 300+ page romance books that haven’t convinced me anyone actually loves each other.

I also love that the author had the h join a pre-existing couple. Usually when I read poly books, everyone starts dating at the same time.

I do wish the book was a tad longer. And that I got more concrete answers on what happened with the court case.

If you like books with hints of second chance romance, hints of ‘brother’s best friend’ trope, a couple steamy scenes, nerdy gaming talk, and a sweet HEA then you’ll probably enjoy this book! 

ARC Review: Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon

Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon

“My car can only fit four, so would you and Hudson mind riding together?”
“Of course not!” Hudson replied heartily, from behind Annika. How had he caught up with her so fast?
She turned to him, trying not to glare. “I can drive myself, thanks.”
“Annika,” Hudson said, sounding shocked, though his eyes were twinkling. “Think of the environment.”
She glanced at June, who shrugged, as if to say, He does have a point. “I have a hybrid,” she said, eyeing him haughtily. “The environment will be fine.”

What’s this about?

Annika made an app known as the “Google translate for failing relationships.” Hudson made an app known as the “Uber for break ups.” This wouldn’t be such a huge deal if they had gone their separate ways after their summer fling. But now Hudson is everywhere: in magazines, interviews, and most recently….her office building. To make matters worse, he is entered in the same prestigious EPIC competition Annika is to get start up funding. But as the two battle it out in the app world, will they be able to fight off their sparks too?!

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

My Review:

Omg this book is so funny I literally laughed out loud multiple times. Netflix please, please, please make this a movie!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for an arc in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this book! It’s one of the funniest rom-coms I’ve read. It had the same type of energy as The Hating Game. Only in this book we get great interactions with side characters too! I love it when romance books include interactions with people outside of the main couple. In here we get interaction with friends and family!

Usually I don’t like romance novels when they are told in third person, but this is one of the few exceptions. I enjoyed the narration style a lot.

When Lily/Sandhya said this would be steamy…..it definitely has steam 😏😏😏

I love rom-coms, but when those rom-coms are steamy then I love them even more!!!

I do wish we had another chapter or some epilogue set a few months down the road. I’ve come to realize that an ending like this I would 100% love in a movie, but for some reason I need a tad more with books?!?! No idea why. Also I’m wishing a couple of the sideplots introduced were further explored.

All in all this book is hilarious, steamy, has great enemies-to-lovers vibes mixed in with a smidge of second chance romance (does it count as second chance if it was only a fling? idk), boss bitches, unapologetically super nerdy side character, hilarious inner monologue (did I mention this book is funny? because it’s funny), A+ banter, and that Sexual Tension™.

You’re going to want to preorder this one!

Content Warnings: alcohol consumption, mentions of marijuana use, death of a parent (prior to novel’s start, cancer), car crash