Book Review – Warrior Fae – Ruthless Boys of the Zodiac 5 by Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti – 5 stars

Warning: May contain minor spoilers, but opening comments are spoiler-free. Check out my Reading Ranting page for more.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The final installment of Ruthless Boys is one of the best finale’s I’ve ever read. I had my suspicions on a lot of things, especially King’s identity. No spoilers, but I was right. Also, If you’ve read Zodiac Academy, then you will love finding out some fun things about the overlapping characters. 

Lots of emotional moments both happy, sad, exciting. It all comes together for the reader.

I still love how there’s a lot of real world sub-plots in here. It’s a murder mystery, with clashing gangs, a dangerous drug, and basically a cult. 

What I liked…

Spice. Lots of steamy, smutty spice. I swear, these books get raunchier. 

The character development in this was just what I’d expect in a finale with people coming to terms with the truth and adjusting to their relationships. 

All questions are answered, which is really satisfying.

We got not one by two climactic moments, both had me on the edge of my seat.

What I didn’t like…

The ending dragged for me after the final climax. There were quite a lot of scenes to show what happened in the following years. I knew some of it based on ZA, and a couple of extras were interesting, but then I lost interest. But, this is after the ending of the main story, so you could just stop reading. 

Final thoughts…

This whole series has been amazing to read. If you liked ZA, then you’ll love this, and if you didn’t, then this is still worth a try because it’s less about the magic and more about Elise’s journey to find her brother’s killer. 

Reading Ranting – Don’t Have Time to Read?

Disclaimer: The product recommendations mentioned below are based on my personal experience. Also, I have no affiliation with them.

Do you have time to read? Me neither. I also find it super hard to focus on written words after a long or busy day, especially on Kindle because I only have my phone for digital books. My mind races at a million miles per hour, and I struggle to pay attention to just one thing. Ironically, I’m a slow reader, too, so it’s extra difficult for me to sit down with a book no matter how good the story is. 

However, audiobooks have changed my reading habits, and I now read/listen to a book in about a week as opposed to a month. I listen during my drive to work, when I’m washing up, when I go for a walk, or sometimes in the shower. And I definitely find it helpful to wind down at the end of the day and listen in bed. 

But audiobooks are expensive, right?

Yes. They can be, but an Amazon Audible subscription is about the same price as a book, and you get 1 credit for any book, plus a selection of books included like Kindle Unlimited. I’ve read some really good books on their subscription. If you want to buy and keep more books, they’re a lot cheaper as a member, so it really doesn’t cost that much. 

Alexa will read Kindle books aloud and is quite natural. I sometimes switch from UK to US or Australian English, so each book sounds different. I needed a better speaker to connect to my phone because my Wi-Fi doesn’t reach my kitchen where I like to listen to music or my ebooks. When I saw how cheap the basic Alexa Echo was, I bought that instead, and it connects to my Wi-Fi just outside my kitchen. I just tell it to read my book, and it does. It’s also fun for music, information, and connecting to my smart plugs, so it has infinite uses beyond a speaker.

I also get a few ebooks as ARCs or beta copies and I use Google Books for those. Google uses its own voice to read those aloud or I can use FB reader’s premium version with Google voices. Personally, I prefer FB reader because it shows the play and pause options in my phone’s notification section, so it’s easier to control. 

Thanks to these fun apps and devices, my reading has become so much easier and more enjoyable.

Also, not long after I bought my Alexa, my internet service provider gave me a media assistant and a shiny new Samsung A6 tablet. Thank you, Movistar. Now I have a bigger device to read ebooks and the assistant acts like another speaker that I put in my bathroom, which is the opposite end of my flat to my Echo and I can connect the two. So many connections to make life easier 😍😍😍

My new media assistant and my new tablet.

Reading Ranting – Writing Helpful Reviews

Note: This post is based on readers’ personal tastes as opposed to content that may be offensive or triggering. Also, this is about reviews on public websites such as Amazon or Goodreads.

Firstly, I can’t stand reviews that rant about every single thing wrong with a book. Make a YouTube video for your rant and leave the short version on Goodreads. I don’t have time to read that nonsense. And I definitely can’t stand reviews that go off on personal rants about the author. I’m not looking to be besties with the author. I’m looking to be besties with the MC. But I do like to follow authors on social media if they post interesting content. 

Secondly, let’s establish that reviews are meant for potential readers who are looking for their next adventure. 

Thirdly, you can give a book one star and still be polite about why. It’s not complicated, folks.

So, how do you write a helpful and respectful review? 

Everyone will tell you something different, I’m sure, but being polite and respectful shouldn’t need to be pointed out, but I guess some people don’t get that. I’m going to explain my structure based on what I think is helpful. I break up my review into a disclaimer and four parts.

Disclaimer – I always avoid major spoilers because… why would I mention them for readers who haven’t read the book yet? But I sometimes vaguely mention minor spoilers, so I put a warning on that just in case.

Part 1 – Summary. I write two or three lines to summarise the book in my own words. It’s not really a blurb because that’s meant to sell the book, but I like to get creative with it.

Part 2 – What I liked. Three or more things I liked about the book. I mention something about the characters, plot, and world-building. I can get very carried away here, especially if I get attached to multiple characters or unique world-building.

Part 3 – What I didn’t like. I limit this to three things. Now, this is the tricky part, because no book is perfect, so there’s always something I don’t like. It’s up to me whether something is worth mentioning or not based on how it affected my enjoyment or how often it happened. Readers can tell from the rating how bad these things were. If it’s a low rating, then they were clearly important things, but if it’s a high rating, then obviously they weren’t too bad. I also keep this short and concise so as not to be disrespectful to the author. What I don’t like is my personal taste others may like or at least overlook in a good story and vice versa. 

Part 4 – Final thoughts. Two or three lines on why I would recommend this book and who to. Certain things spring to mind when I’m reading that a book would be perfect for, like shorter books being pallet cleansers between books in a series, Or a certain book would be ideal to follow another book based oon similar tropes. 

So there you have it. My review structure. I hope this helps anyone who struggles to write reviews, but mostly, I hope it helps readers be more respectful of authors and their books even if they didn’t like them. Your one star might be somebody else’s five star. 

And in case you’re wondering what prompted this rant, here’s my video.

@lovefantasynovels

Sorry, not sorry for the rant. I’m tired of unhelpful reviews that turn into personal ranting about authors. Unless the author is a genuinely bad or offensive person, they have no place in the review. #lightlark #alexaster #bookreviews #rantingreview #unhelpfulreview #unhelpful #booktok

♬ original sound – Emilia Dashfire 🧚‍♂️🖋️👸😻

Book Review – The Never King by Nikki St. Crowe – 4 stars

Warning: May contain spoilers, but opening comments are spoiler-free. Check out my Reading Ranting page for more.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Firstly, TikTok made me buy it and I’m glad. 

Secondly, this has adult content, including graphic sex scenes and violence.

Thirdly, this is a fun but way-too-short story. 

Winnie has spent her whole life being dragged around by her mentally unstable mother to escape a family curse. Every time a Darling girl turns 18, Pan takes them away, and they return traumatized and unable to remember much, hence her mother’s instability.

When Pan comes for Winnie, she’s lonely, unsatisfied with life, and wants to find out what broke her mother’s mind. The answers lie in Neverland where Winnie meets the lost boys and finds herself the key to saving Pan’s dying lands.

What I liked…

I really love how Winnie’s character, background, and personal needs are established very early on, so we understand why she reacts the way she does ongoing.

I don’t know how I end up reading polyamorous books, but I really like them as long as the characters have fun too. This one is particularly fun since Winnie has been unsatisfied previously. 

I loved the plot and why Pan keeps taking the Darling women. 

I loved the POVs. We don’t just get Winnie and Pan. We get some lost boys too. And a sneak peak into another character. 

What I didn’t like…

This is where it loses a star – Character relationships were too rushed for my liking. I prefer to see a gradual progression to make the relationships feel more natural and more meaningful. 

Final thoughts…

If you like shorter novels with extreme spice, polyamory, exciting reveals, and magical lands, then this is for you. It’s also a great story of found family and belonging. 

Monthly TBR Update – August 2022

I don’t know what happened in August. I had all month off and read 2 books. Oh well. I enjoyed them, so who cares, right? They’re both TikTok recs which I only buy if I genuinely like the sound of the book based on blurbs and trusted reviews. And these 2 were definitely successes.

Books I read this month…
  • Ruin and Roses by Deanna Ortega – 5 stars
  • The Book of Azrael by Amber Nicole – 5 stars
Mini non-spoiler reviews…

Ruin and Roses did not disappoint. It delivers spice, treason, questionable characters, and lots of secrets.

The Book of Azrael. Wow. This is definitely top level reading in every sense. The writing was excellent. The characters were amazingly well-written, and the worldbuilding was both exciting but easy to follow. I love the enemies to lovers trope, especially when they’re mortal enemies. 

Let’s see if I can stick to my TBR next month. Oh well. I get to the book eventually. 

Books I’m going to read next month…
  • The Never King by Nikki St. Crowe (I already finished this since it’s super short for a fantasy)
  • Warrior Fae by Caroline Pecham and Sussanne Valenti (I just started)
  • Glow by Raven Kennedy – I was too wrapped up in the Zodiac books that I delayed starting this one.
  • Halven Rising book 3, Fates Fulfilled

Book Review – The Book of Azrael by Amber Nicole – 5 stars

Warning: May contain spoilers, but opening comments are spoiler-free. Check out my Reading Ranting page for more.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I don’t know where to start because there were so many amazing things about this book. Let’s just skip to what I liked.

What I liked…

I love how we get straight into Diana’s situation with the deal she made with her maker to save her sister. It makes everything she does make sense from the start.

Also, I love this trope. Diana does bad things to protect the one she loves. It’s perfect and justifies so many things from Diana’s perspective. 

I love how Liam has a complicated background too and that he needs Diana to teach him about the modern world.

I love the idea of two people saving each other from their difficult or lonely lives rather than one saving the other.

What I didn’t like…

Nothing. 

Final thoughts…

Another TikTok recommendation success. Vampires, gods, spicy romance and betrayal. Love it. 

Book Review – Ruin and Roses by Deanna Ortega – 5 stars

Warning: May contain spoilers, but opening comments are spoiler-free. Check out my Reading Ranting page for more.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Firstly, TikTok will never force me to buy a read a book just because it keeps popping up, but when people I follow recommend a book, I’m gonna check it out. I decided to read this based on proper reviews and the blurb, and I’m glad I did. 

Our MC, Jane, is playing a dangerous game of spy and princess, while trying to avoid her ex, Liam. Neither are easy, especially when he keeps showing up. One minute he’s supposedly protecting her, and the next he’s walking away like nothing happened. And since we only get Jane’s POV in this, we have no idea what Liam is really thinking. Love it. There’s also the problem of her arranged marriage and too many people finding out what she’s really up to.

What I liked…

The writing was easy-going and not too intense, but got across the characters really well. 

The “I trusted you,” trope is one of my favourites. No spoilers beyond that, but the betrayal is top-notch. 

The MC struggles with the clash of emotions and logic, which I think really works in her situation.

Spiciness was also top-notch. Again, I don’t want to spoil things, but there’s a very fun surprise for Jane in this sense. 

I love how confusing Liam is. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that he has his reasons for being confusing, but as a reader, I love and hate that I don’t know. 

What I didn’t like…

My only quibble is that some settings were unclear in a new scene and I wasn’t sure where they were or who was there until someone started talking as if they’d they’d beent here the whole time. But that’s because I’m a strong visual reader, so I need a top notch scene setting. 

Final thoughts…

If you like princesses playing spies, confusing love interests, treason, shady monarchs, mentors with secret motives, and discovering truths about siblings, then this is the perfect book for you.

The Fourth Wall – An Out of Ashes Short Story

Leading up to the release of my debut novel, OUT OF ASHES, this autumn (date pending) I’ll be sharing teasers both on here and my social media.

Trigger and content warning: This book contains both adult content and potentially triggering content. On page sex, violence, death, alcoholism, abuse, suicide. Mentions of sexual assault.

You can read a teaser short story below set before the beginning of the main book or you can download the ebook here or add it to your favourites on Wattpad

Disclaimer – All art and editing for this short story is done by me. The full book will be edited by a professional, and the official cover will be revealed closer to the publication date.

I hope you enjoy this brief insight into Clair.

CLAIR

I dream of burning skies and raging waves crashing against unforgiving rocks. They roil within me, but I lock them away, for no good can come of their freedom. It would mean sacrificing my own.

It’s barely six, and my body is already close to toppling over. My feet ache, and my hands sting from the constant damp then dryness as well as the vegetable juice irritating my cracked skin. If it weren’t for my cousin’s violin practice, I think I might feign illness and stay in bed.

Her music floats into the kitchen, and I find myself swaying to the soothing melody. I dabbled in the violin occasionally, but when my cousin got impatient with my slow progress, she insisted on solo classes, and the tutor didn’t have the time to teach me. 

The cook’s assistant is sick with an unseasonal influenza, so I’m cooking on top of caring for my ailing uncle. Lucky me. Steam from the stew I’ve been preparing drifts under my nose, and I check the clock. Almost six and time for supper. The cook pulls several bread rolls from the stove and leaves them to cool on the central table, along with the roast dinner for the family.

My uncle needs more specific nutrition, so I fill the stew with vegetables, potatoes, lentils, and diced beef to make it easier to digest. His age and illness drain his energy, and the easier I can make it for him, the better. 

I assist the cook in serving the family in the dining room, my uncle shuffling into the chair at the head of the table. Edward, his eldest son, takes a seat next to him along with his wife and four adolescent children, two boys and twin girls. Elise, the eldest sister, sits opposite him with her husband and two girls. 

Pushing my serving trolley towards my uncle, I nod to Elise. She is the only one who gave me the time of day, but being several years older with her own family, she has little time for me now. She returns the gesture before a chair slaps on the floor, her youngest giggling as she bounces on it. 

The sound judders through me, and I drop the bread I was about to place on my uncle’s side plate. My uncle places a hand around mine as if he knows the horror that attacks my mind sometimes. The furniture tumbling over, the flames engulfing my home, the frigid air hitting me as I fled.

“It’s all right, Clair,” he says as I pick up the fallen bread roll and place it on one of the lower shelves of the trolley. 

“Apologies,” I say hurriedly to Edward more than my uncle as he glares at me.

“Clumsy witch,” Edward mutters, and Elise clears her throat in some semblance of my defence. Fat lot of good it does.

“How many times do I have to tell you?” my uncle says, wheezing through his voice. “We do not speak like that in this house, especially about family.”

Edward’s glare blazes at me as he scoffs and curls his upper lip. “Isn’t it time she left us, Father? Having a witch in our house has done us no favours. Besides, she’s old enough to marry and has her trust fund for her husband. I have little doubt there would be men-.”

“No,” Uncle says. He told me of the promise he made to my father to raise me as his own should anything happen to him. “Not unless she wishes it, and she is family and welcome here as long as she wants.”

Although I call him Uncle, he and my father were distantly related. My father’s great grandfather travelled the world and married a French witch who didn’t take the Knightflame name. My mother was a Starfall, another founding family, and when my father sought out his English kin, my uncle welcomed him into the family. Not long after, he met my mother, and they fell in love. The rest… is a much longer story.

My uncle sighs. Edward hasn’t brought that up for a while, so I was probably due the reminder of how my kind is considered lower class citizens. And I am yet to find a man to prove he might marry me for more than my money.

Once everyone is served, the cook stays in the dining room should the family want something more, while I eat alone in the kitchen. My uncle has always allowed me to dine with the family, but Edward takes every opportunity to belittle me, and I have no patience for him today.

I eat a portion of the stew I cooked for my uncle and set the kettle to boil. As I drop the tea leaves into my cup, a rush of icy wind makes me shudder.

“This stupid L key,” an ethereal female voice says from above me. 

I launch to my feet, heart in my throat as I stare up. The ceiling ripples with odd light, and I squint to get a better look. “Hello? Are you all right?” I call out, musing over what magic someone might be having trouble with. It is not uncommon for spells to go awry. 

“What?” the voice asks. 

I frown and cross my arms, craning my neck as green eyes come into view, framed by deep brown hair. “Are you watching me?”

The eyes widen and pink lips part as the woman gapes for a moment. “Holy fudge,” she says, leaning closer and almost passing through the light, but she remains an image on the ceiling.

“I beg your pardon?” I shriek. “If you do not leave this instant, I’ll…” I scramble for the secret pouch of protection dust I keep in my pocket. I may not have magic, but I know a very feisty witch who helps me with discrete items. I toss the dust upwards, but nothing happens save for it falling back in my eyes. 

“Blazing fires,” I curse, blinking through the sting.

“Clair?” the woman says. “Is that you?”

“Yes,” I say. “Who are you?”

She spills what I suspect are curses, but I’ve never heard such language. “You can actually hear me?”

“Yes,” I say, losing my patience over the mystery woman. “Now tell me who you are and why you’re stuck in the kitchen ceiling.”

She chuckles and covers her mouth with her hand. “Oh my God,” she screams. “You’re actually talking to me.”

“Obviously,” I say, still utterly confused as to who she is and why she’s hovering in the ceiling like some spectre. “Are you trapped somewhere between worlds?” I ask. It’s the only thing that comes to mind, though I’ve never heard of my kind conversing with a spectre, only sensing them and maybe some emotions if they’re strong.

“No,” she says. “I’m your writer.”

“My what?”

“Your writer. I wrote you and this world you’re in.”

“Poppycock,” I huff, glowering at the smiling woman, but I take in her features once more. She has my blue-reen eyes with flecks of gold, my wavy dark hair with an auburn tint to some strands. Her skin is the same pale tone as mine, her cheeks with a natural blemish.

“It’s true,” she says. “I can prove it.”

Rapid tapping sounds come from beyond the woman, and I reach for the kettle on the stove without meaning to. 

“What is this?” I shriek, my hand gripping the handle and pouring the hot water over my tea leaves. My muscles fight the action to no avail.

“I just made you do that,” the woman says. “I wrote it, and you did it.”

“God,” I breathe, staring at my tea, my limbs now my own again.

“I suppose I am like the god of your world.” Her chuckle echoes about the kitchen, and I look up.

“What’s your name?” 

“Emilia,” she says.

I smile at the unfamiliar name. “It’s pretty,” I say.

“Thank you. So is your name.”

I laugh. “Glad you think so, since I assume you named me.”

“I did.” Silence lingers a moment before she continues. “I’m sorry.”

My lips purse at that. “What for?”

“For your story, both past and future.”

Another moment of silence passes as I took that in and pondered what in all things windy and wavy she could mean. “You wrote my story?” I ask.

“Yes. In a way, it’s mine too.”

“Are you a witch like me?”

A snort of laughter came from the rippling light, her image fading and coming back into view. “No, but I’ve been called a word that rhymes with it.”

I laugh and shrug. “So how are our stories the same?”

“You’ll find out soon enough. And maybe we’ll meet again when you can forgive me for it.”

“I—” 

The image fades, and the light winks out. My insides turn to ice at Emilia’s words. 

“When you can forgive me for it.”

I want it over already. 

A scream comes from the dining room, and I run to find Elise leaning over my fallen uncle. His limbs shake, and his unseeing gaze darts around as if chasing something the rest of us cannot see.

“Call for the doctor,” Elise shouts to the cook still by the edge of the room. 

She nods and hurries out as the others stare down wide-eyed.

“I know a healer,” I say and turn to leave.

“No.” Edward’s voice halts me. “I’ll not have magic in this house.”

I spin to face him, panic making my breaths shallow. “He could die.”

“So he’ll die,” Edward says as if talking about the chances of rain. 

I stumble back, clutching my chest as dread consumes me. Something in me knows this is just the beginning and that another loss is about to break me all over again.

THANK YOU FOR READING

Here’s the blurb for the main story.

Monthly TBR Update – July 2022

I’ve done well on my TBR this month. I swapped 1 long book on my list for 2 shorter ones, which I was glad for. I needed a break from the Zodiac world. 

Books I read this month…
  • Ruthless Boys of the Zodiac book 1 – Dark Fae by Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti 
  • Book 2 Savage Fae
  • Book 3 Vicious Fae
  • Book 4 Broken Fae
  • Searching for Sadie
  • Shadow of the Shapeshifter
Mini non-spoiler reviews…

I still have one book left in the Ruthless Boys of the Zodiac series but decided to tackle some other books on my TBR. So far, I loved the series. Book 4 ends on a cliffhanger, so I’m excited to get back to it. 

Searching for Sadie is a tame romance where a woman ventures to Alaska to escape her grief and shock over a recent tragedy. I really enjoyed it considering I haven’t read a non-fantasy book in a good while. This was a great choice.

Shadow of the Shapeshifter is super fun, and I read it in 2 days. This fantasy mystery has some quirkiness of the Terry Pratchett Discworld books. Definitely a great choice for anyone who prefers shorter fantasy novels or wants a quick palette cleanser between longer novels or series. 

Books I’m going to read next month…
  • Ruin and Roses by Deanna Ortega – I already started.
  • Glow by Raven Kennedy – I was too wrapped up in the Zodiac books that I delayed starting this one. 
  • The Never King by Nikki St. Crowe
  • Halven Rising book 3, Fates Fulfilled

Book Review – Searching for Sadie by Grace – 5 stars

Warning: May contain spoilers, but opening comments are spoiler-free. Check out my Reading Ranting page for more.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I loved this book as a mix of serious and light reading. Sadie’s had a rough year and needs to escape, so she heads out to Alaska not far from where her dad lives. She has to adjust to life in her secluded cabin with no electricity or hot water. Sounds insane, right? Trust me, she has her reasons.

What I liked…

I liked how Sadie starts off a little prickly partly because she’s nervous over her decision to go off the grid but mostly because of the shock she had not long ago. I think it really works to see her struggling at first.

I love how Sadie is honest about being attracted to a couple of men, but not being interested beyond that. She needs time alone, but she’s also a woman with eyes so…

I especially love how she’s realistic about what she’s capable of living on her own. She took survival training to help, which she mentions, so it’s not like she just went out to a random island with no preparation. My only question is, how did she access her money? 🤣

What I didn’t like…

While I liked Flip, he came across as a little bland at times. I’m putting this down to personal taste rather than an issue with the book. But if you’re like me, and you prefer male characters with a little (emphasis on little) bite to them, then you’ll probably feel the same.

Final thoughts…

Definitely a self-discovery novel as the title suggests. It’s both light and serious and inspiring.