Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones was an unsatisfying read.

24763621Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

I want to start my review with what I loved about this story, which was the writing. It was beautiful, intentional and lovely. Jae-Jones painted pretty pictures and the musical theme throughout the story made for gorgeous metaphors. The writing really fit the ethereal, fairy-tale feel of the story. It was strange and mesmerizing.

As someone who loves music, I could relate to the language, and I loved the way she tied music with the passion between Liesl and the Goblin King.

I was wound tighter than a violin string, pitched too sharp, and I urged his rough, callused fingertips lower, loosening me, tuning me to the right key.

The story fell short because of the disappointing ending, and not just how the story ended, but the way the story was meant to be wrapped up. I understood what the author was trying to do with the themes of love, but it made for a really unsatisfying story. For example, a major plot twist related to the ability of one character to live by the love of another, but it’s never resolved in the end. I was left confused and I regret reading the story at all.

STARS: 2.5 out of 5

Twist by Kylie Scott

I freakin’ love Kylie Scott, so I was ecstatic to get my paws on Twist, the second novel in her Dive Bar series.

28220678When his younger brother loses interest in online dating, hot, bearded, bartender extraordinaire, Joe Collins, only intends to log into his account and shut it down. Until he reads about her.

Alex Parks is funny, friendly, and pretty much everything he’s been looking for in a woman. And in no time at all they’re emailing up a storm, telling each other their deepest darkest secrets… apart from the one that really matters.

And when it comes to love, serving it straight up works better than with a twist.

 

This story jumps right into the first meeting between Alex and the man she thinks she’s been talking to online for months. The scene where she meets the younger brother– the one in the pictures — was hilarious, but the confrontation with Joe, the man behind the emails, was super entertaining. And the entertainment didn’t stop throughout the story.  I loved getting to see pieces of their email correspondence with each chapter, giving the reader a glimpse of what came before. The book takes place over a short period of time, but it was well-paced.

I loved watching Alex get over her perception of the “perfect man” and fall for the bearded and rugged Joe, who is hot in a totally different way. They each had issues to overcome and it was beautiful to watch them break down each other’s barriers. Also, the steamy scenes were the best kind — HOT and moved the story forward. Each touch and caress loaded with meaning and plot development.

My favorite secondary character was Alex’s best friend and transwoman. I hope we get to see more of her in books to come. It was also great to see Nell and her story progress. However, I feel like A LOT happened and I wish I got to see it from her perspective. I’m wanting to hear Nell’s story STAT!

My biggest issue with the book was the ending. Joe is such a loyal, supportive guy, and his behavior at the end didn’t match the ethics of his character. Even though everything works out in the end, I thought his actions were unwarranted and unnecessary. Because of that, I couldn’t give this story 5 stars.

With that said, I still love Kylie Scott. I was totally enraptured with her writing and storytelling, and she’ll always be an auto-buy author for me.

STARS: 4 out of 5

The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

*deep breath*

Guys, I have too many feels about this series.

22698569.jpgIn less than a year, Kelsea Glynn has grown from an awkward teenager into a powerful monarch and a visionary leader.

And as she has come into her own as the Queen of the Tearling, she has transformed her realm. But in her quest to end corruption and restore justice, she has made many enemies – chief among them the evil and feared Red Queen, who ordered the armies of Mortmesne to march against the Tear and crush them.

To protect her people from such a devastating invasion, Kelsea did the unthinkable – naming the Mace, the trusted head of her personal guards, Regent in her place, she surrendered herself and her magical sapphires to her enemy. But the Mace will not rest until he and his men rescue their sovereign from her prison in Mortmesne.

So, the endgame has begun and the fate of Queen Kelsea – and the Tearling itself – will be revealed…

With The Fate of the Tearling, Erika Johansen draws her unforgettable story full of magic and adventure to a thrilling close.

When Queen of Tearling first came on the scene, I avoided it after reading reviews that pointed out it didn’t really have a romance, and I like stories with a romance somewhere in the narrative. Time passed, and when I heard that they’re making a movie, starring Emma Watson (who’s my homegirl), my interest piqued and I took the time to read it.

I LOVED Queen of Tearling. It was engaging and exciting, and had just enough Game of Thrones feel to raise my bloodlust. It was a heart-stopping and literal death-defying adventure for our young heroine.

Then book two happened. The Invasion of the Tearling was great, but it felt like the story suffered from split personality disorder. I loved reading about Kelsea and her world, with the historic feel as she fights for her Kingdom. I enjoyed Lily’s story as a woman living in a dystopian future. I did not like them together. Of course, the back and forth had a point and played a huge part in the story but I was in the mood for sword-fights and political maneuvering of kings and queens NOT survival in an oppressive society.

For book three, I had high hopes. The Fate of the Tearling was going to have all the answers, and it did. I was a little disappointed with who her father was, but I enjoyed the progression of some of the secondary characters like Father Tyler and Andalie’s daughter. However, there was ANOTHER type of split personality disorder, where Kelsea sees, yet again, into the past and it takes up half the novel. I was split between wanting to know what would befall the fate of Kelsea and her guards, and not caring AT ALL what happened in the past. Granted, the past and the future collided in the present with an epic ending, but I hated it so much that maybe there’s a sick part of me that actually loved it.

The ending left me bereft, adrift, and unsatisfied. I know the author was making a point and I understand it, but when it comes to entertainment value, I was left wanting. It made my heart hurt for the heroine. The ending was no ending at all but like being dropped open-ended into the abyss with no closure. And to top it all off, there really was zero romance in this series. There are pops of love interests but nothing ever comes to fruition in a satisfying way. Kelsea is as lonely in the beginning as she is in the end and it’s heartbreaking.

To be perfectly honest, there is a part of me that wishes I had never read this series because it makes me feel so bad. Granted, any book that can make me feel THIS MUCH certainly has an impact that most novels don’t have. I may grow to love it after much retrospection, but for now my opinion is solidly set in the disgruntled and dissatisfied reader territory. Read this series at your own risk.

 

The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

When I finished the Queen of Tearling by Erika Johansen, I couldn’t believe how long I waited to read it. It was so awesome and epic; it blew my mind. So I quickly picked up the sequel, The Invasion of the Tearling, expecting to devour a book equal in greatness. It was still awesome, but there was one particular element of the story that left a bad taste in my mouth.

22698568.jpgKelsea Glynn is the Queen of the Tearling. Despite her youth, she has quickly asserted herself as a fair, just and powerful ruler.

However, power is a double-edged sword, and small actions can have grave consequences. In trying to do what is right – stopping a vile trade in humankind – Kelsea has crossed the Red Queen, a ruthless monarch whose rule is bound with dark magic and the spilling of blood. The Red Queen’s armies are poised to invade the Tearling, and it seems nothing can stop them.

Yet there was a time before the Crossing, and there Kelsea finds a strange and possibly dangerous ally, someone who might hold the key to the fate of the Tearling, and indeed to Kelsea’s own soul. But time is running out…

Erika Johansen’s fierce and unforgettable young heroine returns in this dazzling new novel of magic and adventure, set in the beguiling world of the Tearling.

Unexpectedly, The Invasion of the Tearling is two books in one. Very early in the story, the main character Kelsea starts to have visions of the past (or what readers would consider a dystopian future). It was interesting to see how the world as we know it translated into the historical-feel of Kelsea’s time, but I hated switching back and forth. It was two completely different genres mashed into one story. I knew the past scenes had an impact and importance on Kelsea’s present, but I didn’t care to go back. It distracted me from Kelsea’s story, and to be perfectly honest, I was in the mood for a historical fantasy not a dystopian apocalypse and it made me frustrated as I read.

Another frustration I had was Kelsea’s character growth, or lack there of. To put it simply, Kelsea turned into a bit of a bitch with no remnant of the girl she used to be, the one I fell in love with, the one that saved her people from slavery because it was the right thing to do. Granted, the author may have done this on purpose to show later growth in Kelsea’s character, but I found it disheartening rather than endearing.

Now, this book wasn’t all bad. In fact, I can see where most readers would love the back and forth technique used in this novel. It was unique and different. I still love Kelsea and her guards. I want her to succeed and she kind of turned into a badass by the end of the book. At this point, I’m dying to know who her father is.

Overall with the series, the first book was awesome, the second book was so-so, but I’ll definitely be reading the third book to determine how I feel about this series.

STARS: 3.5 out of 5

Monthly Recap and Book of the Month

I’m finally back into the swing of things since I’m got my new house mostly in order.

635922832360675432-1763852986_leslie knope organized.gif

 Book of the Month*

28481104

Torn by Carian Cole- 5 star review

I love Carian Cole’s stories. I’m always hungry for more and I can’t wait until she puts out her next one.

*based on books reviewed this month

March Reviews (Total-6)

Rule by Jay Crownover

Bellevue Bullies series by Toni Aleo

Inherit the Stars by Tessa Elwood

The Mighty Storm by Samantha Towle

Fake Fiancee by Ilsa Madden-Mills

Other Posts

That time I crawled out from under a rock

 2017 Reading Challenge Progress

badge-home-2d9db8a46455f8f5ba6fb30fbe7c637f

I have read 19 out of 100 books. (Read 7 books this month.)

Currently Reading

27827203

Frostblood by Elly Blake

I’m only past the first chapter and I’m hooked!

Next on my TBR

33328586

I loved the first book in this trilogy, and the author is a friend of mine. Can’t wait to read this one!

What I’m Watching

16917305_900x1200

I just want to say that I cried like a baby during the final season finale. I’m going to miss this show.

au_rich_large_beautyandthebeast_payoff_4bfd4fa0.jpeg

I got to see Beauty and the Beast this month and it was amazing! Totally worth going to see in theaters. I must confess that I cried during this movie as well. Is there anything more heart-breaking than people turning into inanimate objects?

What I’m Listening To

9d87abf66835582680a63b5e7939d7b6.960x960x1.png

I have eclectic taste in music, but I’ve been rocking out to I Prevail’s Lifelines album recently.

What I’m writing

giphy (3).gif

I’ve been super motivated lately and I’m on the home stretch on my second work in progress. Once I’m finished with that, I’ll go back to my first novel for a third round of edits. It’s a lot of work, but I’m feeling accomplished.

What else?

33846206

Another writer friend released her debut novel this month and I’m so proud of her. I helped beta-read for her and I was honored (and ecstatic) to be mentioned in her acknowledgements page. I always hoped I’d make it there someday, so it was a bit surreal for me.

The Bellevue Bullies Series Review by Toni Aleo

I’ve been on a hockey sports fiction kick lately and the Bellevue Bullies series was something I stumbled upon and I’m so glad I did. I read the first three books back-to-back. Each book follows one of the Sinclair brothers as they attend Bellevue University playing for the Bullies hockey team in pursuit of a career in the NHL.

Boarded By Love by Toni Aleo (Bellevue Bullies #1)

17448422“Jude Sinclair here, hockey player for the Bellevue Bullies and lover of all ladies. Hockey’s in my blood, and not to sound full of myself, but

I’m good at it…really good. The draft is within my reach—it’s mine to take—but that’s not the only reason people know my name. They know me because of my way with women. They know the score, and I aim to please. I just tend to stay away from repeat performances. In other words, I don’t do relationships beyond my family and friends. I’m happy with life. However, I should warn you that my story and how I see it playing out is about to change due to a certain redhead on campus.

She’s beautiful. Stunning. Breathtaking.

She’s my game changer.”

“He’s trouble from the moment I see him. I don’t know what I’m thinking, but from the moment I meet his gaze, I’m his. It’s a scary feeling.

I’ve never trusted anyone outside my aunt and uncle—and even that took months. I didn’t have it easy growing up. My mom was usually strung out, and she didn’t give me a second thought. Drugs and the men who paid her were more important to her. It was horrible, but I’m stronger today. Because of my past, security is what I need most. Money assures me that I can take care of myself today, tomorrow, and next month. I don’t want to ever be hungry or go without again, so I work hard for every penny.

Oh, by the way, I’m Claire Anderson. I’m a hard-studying sophomore at the University of Bellevue, dancer for the school dance team, and a burlesque dancer at a club, but that’s my secret.
You may think you know how our story ends, but you have no clue. It’s not easy falling in love… or living happily ever after. At first it may seem so, but when is anything worth having ever won without a fight?

Especially when you’re boarded by love.”

In Boarded by Love, the first book in the Bellevue Bullies series, the oldest brother, Jude, falls for a girl with a scarred childhood who has a secret. I loved how Claire was super independent and obsessive about supporting herself based on her past. Jude was such an arrogant but charming alpha male with a real tender side.

After reading all three books, it’s evident that the Sinclair boys are obsessed with themselves, their looks, their hockey skills, but it’s all in an endearing way that makes the reader swoon. Their love story was tumultuous and passionate. I enjoyed the hockey scenes and Claire’s dancing. This first novel was a good foundation for the rest of the series, introducing the secondary characters and setting up family drama that continues throughout the series.

Clipped By Love by Toni Aleo (Bellevue Bullies #2)

23172090Things are heating up for the Sinclair boys! With one already in the NHL, Jayden Sinclair is hoping to be next!

This has been the toughest year of my life. I watched my brother go into the draft without me, my mom got divorced, and the weight of my family’s issues is heavy on my shoulders. I feel like it’s my job to fix everything while working my butt off in school and trying to make my game better. I have to go into the draft. It will give my family the support they need, and it will prove that I’m good enough. But to get there, I have to show I can be the best captain for the Bellevue Bullies. The spot is mine—no one can take it. First though, Jude is making me go on a brother’s weekend. Innocent enough, I guess…until I see her. She’s the biggest competitor I’ve ever faced. Not only for my spot but also my heart. It’s hard to ignore someone like Baylor Moore.

I don’t lose. I can’t. My dad has bred me to be the best in anything I do. I am driven, I am smart, and I am going to be the first woman in the National Hockey League. No two ways about it. I’ve worked too hard. I’ve been through too much not to have what I want. I know I can do it. I will make my dad proud, and no one will stand in the way of that. That is, until I let him in. He scares me. He makes me feel. And he could very well be the one person who can make me want more than just to win.

We both have the same goal. Victory. But how do you compete against the person you want to win? It’s not easy. Love isn’t something you can control. It isn’t like a puck that can be handled by a stick. No, it has a mind of its own and does what it wants.

Neither of us saw it coming, and we really don’t know if there is a way to score, especially when you’re being Clipped by Love.

Clipped By Love is my favorite of the three books. Jayden meets a hot girl on vacation that plays a mean game of hockey. Unfortunately, their one night together goes awry and they separate to their own part of the world never to see each other again. Or do they?

Jayden is set to be picked first in the NHL draft and Baylor has her sights set on becoming the first female hockey player in the NHL. I loved their story. Jadyen and Baylor were so perfect for each other but one fateful night creates a storm between them filled with pain, misunderstanding and an unbelievable amount of tension. I liked how Jayden was more invested in Baylor, and as the most sensitive of the three brothers, my heart was breaking for him as they both struggle to keep their relationship together despite the many challenges.

There was a lot of girl power and knight-in-shining-armor moments as Baylor works to succeed in a male-dominated sport. It was sweet. It was hard to read. It was gritty, but real.

This story had a very happy ever after and I was swooning a majority of the time.

Hooked by Love by Toni Aleo (Bellevue Bullies #3)

23172091Things are out of control for the Sinclair boys! With two already in the NHL, Jace Sinclair is ready to follow in his brothers’ HUGE skates in the last Bellevue Bullies novel…

Jace Sinclair here, and I’m amazing. There is no other way to describe me. I am the leading scorer for the Bellevue Bullies, I’m the captain, and people love me: my family, my teammates, my coach, and the NHL. I already have one foot in the draft and I’m ready. This is my last year in college–it’s basically a conditioning year to get me ready for the NHL, to further my game, and I have to be focused. But then, it’s also my last year to have fun and not give a damn before my life really starts. Which means I’m gonna run through every girl I meet. That’s my plan. Because my one and only love is hockey. It keeps me warm even when it’s freezing. It’s always there when nothing else is. And it pushes me to be the best I can be. It’s my love.

That is, until I see her against a tree with a guitar.

Avery.

The last thing I wanted was to meet anyone. My heart is on the bench because I’ve watched my mom get broken by the person I call my father, and I don’t want that for myself. I don’t want to be hurt by anyone. I can’t give them that power.

But my heart is begging for ice time, and I can’t control it around her.

* * *

I’ve always been in the background. No one has ever had time for me and that’s fine; I’ve learned to cope. Coming from a family where hockey is life, the last thing I want is some big, burly hockey player charging at me. I don’t have time for it, but Jace Sinclair isn’t one to be deked around. The thing is, I came to the University of Bellevue for one reason and one reason only. To make my dreams of being a singer/songwriter come true. To work in the industry and pay my dues. Become who I really want to be.

I didn’t want to meet anyone. I didn’t want to end up freezing the puck with him. It’s not what I want.

I have demons.

I have issues.

Living in the shadows, no one even knew until it was too late. But Jace wants to know.

He wants me.

And that scares me the living hell out of me.

We were so worried about what would happen if we fell, but we never thought what could happen in the process of falling. We never saw it coming. But it’s here, and the repercussions are not pretty. We should have known that there is no way out of the zone when you are being Hooked by Love.

The third book in the series follows the youngest brother Jace as he tries to finish his last year of college as a self-proclaimed manwhore, enjoying the fruits that college has to offer. Then he meets Avery and he’s down for the count.

I appreciated this novel because of the raw subject matter. Jace struggles with his daddy issues and Avery struggles with depression and anxiety, and the pain of her past. Their relationship was fragile but lovely, and I was rooting for them the whole time.

It was bittersweet once I finished all three brothers’ stories because I was definitely hooked. Plus, I freaking loved the rest of their family. Thankfully, their sister gets her own novel in the Assassins series, Rushing the Goal.

I really enjoyed these stories and I’m now a huge fan of Toni Aleo. If you’re in the mood for a sports romance, give Toni a try. You won’t regret it.

STARS: 5 out of 5

Monthly Update, AKA I’m finally crawling out from the rock I’ve been under

The whole month of February flew by and I totally dropped the ball on my blog. I haven’t posted in a while, but I have a perfectly legitimate excuse. I moved, as in, my entire existence had to be boxed up and moved 12 miles down the road to my dream house in the country. Totally worth it; super inconvenient. I haven’t been able to blog or write, but I always make time to read and I’ve devoured some pretty good reads as of late.

where-have-you-been

Currently Reading

22698568

The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

I finally read The Queen of the Tearling since they are making a movie and Emma Watson (who’s, like, my absolute fav) is starring in it. I totally get it now. This series is awesomesauce and I can’t wait to devour the entire trilogy.

Next on my TBR

17410991

I recently started another highly-recommended series, the Elemental Trilogy, and it’s very, very good. Looking forward to reading this last installment.

What I’m Watching

riverdale

With Vampire Diaries in its last season, I need another CW guilty pleasure to hold me over. Riverdale hits the spot.

What I’m Writing

giphy (2).gif

I haven’t had a chance to get my butt in the chair and write (mostly because said chair was packed and moved), but I have been using the monotonous unpacking time to plot for my current work in progress. Here’s hoping I can translate the plan to the page.

What else? 

tumblr_ni847qbiwv1s9dqc1o1_500

It was my birthday! You know what that means? Books. The top item on my wish list every year. It was nice to add them to the growing stacks that I had to pack up. In fact, I was curious how many books I had in my shelves, so I counted as I packed thinking I had maybe 200 or so. I had 622 books! And yes, it was exhausting to pack them all, not to mention it took forever since I had to reminisce with each one before carefully packing it away.