Book Review – Haunting Adeline by H.D. Carlton – 4.5 stars

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

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

This is very dark, with a dash of mystery, psychological thriller, and some spooky goings on. I enjoyed this book far more that I expected to since it’s not my usual genre, but I read a lot of dark fantasy so it wasn’t too much of a leap.

Trigger Warning: This book has a lot of triggering content in relation to non-consensual acts, graphic sex and graphic violence and child abuse. It was probably darker than I was prepared for.

What I liked…

Adeline isn’t some weak-minded MC who needs a man, but she’s also realistic that she wants one.

Zade is… a psychopath. Like, hardcore psycho. But that’s what makes him interesting from a literary perspective. His reasoning for what he does to Addie, effed up as it is, makes a twisted sort of sense.

Both MCs have particularly interesting inner conflict over their actions compared to what is appropriate or “normal” behaviour. I’m conflicted myself over how much I liked this book.

I listened to this on audible, and when we were in Addie’s POV, any male voices were done by the male narrator and vice versa. 

I love the snippets from Gigi’s diary and how history is repeating itself with Addie, but in a much darker and twisted way.

Random thoughts…

It did baffle me how Addie’s friend reacted to what was going on with Addie and Zade. If I found out some guy had done things like that to my friend, I’d be dragging her to as far away as possible. 

The police sucked too. I get that they can’t do everything, especially when someone’s tampering with their system, but they were just so… unbothered on Addie’s behalf.

What I didn’t like…

I can’t really complain about this since it’s a huge warning, but… some moments in this were too much and I found myself skipping. The number of times I had to remind myself it was just fiction…

Final thoughts…

I definitely wouldn’t recommend this to just anyone. If you’re into dark and twisted minds playing fucked up games with each other, with a dash of spooky and history repeating itself, then I might recommend it to you if you can handle this.

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Book Review – The Awakening, as Told By the Boys by Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti – 5 stars, obviously

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

Rating: 5 out of 5.

We all know the Heirs are jerks to the twins in book 1 of Zodiac Academy, but why? Why did they go so far? We get our answers from Darius and Orion, with sprinklings of Seth, Caleb, and Max.

What I liked…

I already loved this book and series, but going back and seeing the Heirs’ reasoning makes me love them even more. 

What I didn’t like…

There wasn’t much of Max. I moaned about his random POVs in the later books, but I expected more in this one. 

Final thoughts…

I don’t recommend reading this unless you’re on at least book 4 or 5 of ZA. It doesn’t exactly spoil things, but there are some fun moments that make more sense. 

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.

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. 

Book Review – Dark Fae – Ruthless Boys of the Zodiac book 1 – By Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti – 4.5 stars

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

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I loved this book and the characters. It’s set in a mirror world to our own, but Fae live there in place of humans. They have the power of the elements plus a magical creature form. Dragons, vampires, basilisks, and harpies are just a few of the amazingly fun creatures along with lion shifters and werewolves. The list goes on…

Elise starts off with a mission to find her brother’s killer and fakes her way into Aurora Academy. Her grief and need for vengeance drive her on her solo mission until she realises she might just need a friend or two to get her through it all. Or she’ll end up on the wrong side of a gang fight. 

What I liked…

Elise – I love female characters who don’t take shit from people around them. At the same time, she needs friends after losing her brother, and is open to it with the right people.

Dante – Love the name. Love dragon shifters. Live storm dragons. So he was an instant 😍 for me. Also, a fun balance of friendly and “not to be messed with”

Leon the lion 🤣 – He’s very much the tame one compared to the other guys, but he’s also what Elise needs to lighten her mood. We get to see hints of his beast so he’s not always the oversized purring kitty cat. 

Ryder – Interesting character with a seriously underappreciated creature for his shifter form. His past trauma that explains his current behaviour though he lets others believe differently. He has feelings that he can’t bear others seeing. And he has awesome hypnosis powers.

What I didn’t like…

Gabriel – Honestly, I don’t feel much of anything for him. Sure, he’s one of the good ones… mostly, but he’s not particularly interesting as a character considering his role in this story. He’s also kinda annoying with Elise even though we kinda get his reasoning. Not cool to play hot and cold then blame her for it.

Final thoughts…

Definitely a good read if you like questionable characters, badass magical powers, countless mythological creatures, and murder mysteries. Also, if you’ve read Zodiac Academy then you’ll love this. It’s less chaotic in all the crazy things that happen, but still exciting to read. And if you haven’t read ZA, then I suggest you do after this. Some characters overlap, which is always fun with series set in the same world.

Monthly TBR Update – June 2022

Oops. Sorry it’s late. I meant to post this last weekend but… tired.

I read some looooong books this month, so didn’t get through that many. But I did finish book 7 of Zodiac Academy. I don’t think I’ll survive until the next one in December, so I’ll probably read the novellas some point over the summer.

Books I read this month…
  • Zodiac Academy book 4, Shadow Princess by Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti 
  • Zodiac Academy book 5, Cursed Fates
  • Zodiac Academy book 6, Fated Throne
  • Zodiac Academy book 7, Heartless Sky
Mini non-spoiler reviews…

Wild. Just freaking wild. So many things go wrong and only half go right. All the books are hilarious, heart-wrenching, steamy, and outrageously addictive. It is very immature at times, so I wouldn’t recommend it for people who like “serious” characters. But they have serious moments that just draw on so many emotions that I’m left flailing after. See my reading ranting page for full reviews.

Books I’m going to read next month… 

It’s going to be a demanding month at work with the summer camp, so I’m sticking purely to audiobooks. 

  • Ruthless Boys of the Zodiac book 1 – Dark Fae by Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti 
  • RBotZ book 2
  • Book 4
  • Book 5

Books I’m putting on hold until August…

  • The Never King by Nikki St. Crowe
  • Ruin & Roses by Deanna Ortega
  • Halven Rising book 3, Fates Fulfilled

Book Review – Heartless Sky – Zodiac Academy Book 6 – By Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti – 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.

The Twisted Sisters never fail to make me laugh and cry throughout every one of these books. Just… 😭😭😭

So things seemed a bit too random for a while until it all clicked, so bear that in mind when going into this book. But if you liked the spice in previous books, prepared to have your mind blown in this one. War can make people realise how precious things are, so everyone is humping like rabbits as if the world is ending. I freaking love it when it’s meaningful. 

What I liked…

Darius – Oh, Darius. You break my heart every time you break Tory’s. But in this one, he’s mostly behaving himself when it comes to not being an alphahole. I’d love him anyway because it’s only fiction, but seeing him be nice and truly escape his father’s hold over him is really satisfying. 

Tory – I like how she lets Darius get away with some of his shit because he lets her get away with hers, but she makes the point that he’s pushing it. She’s always fun and badass and stubborn. 

Darcy and Orion dial back the personal drama, even though Seth adds a little awkwardness. 

Xavier – He’s finally able to explore what he wants. Also, his timing is hilarious when he… no spoilers… He’s just really funny in this.  

Seth and Caleb – No spoilers, but seriously, these two are adorable and steamy with the flirting and build up to the “when will they finally admit their feelings?” that started a couple of books ago. I’m like… grrrr, just do it already. 

Curses and fates – Again, no spoilers, but there’s just so much for the Vegas and Heirs to overcome when it comes to this. I love the idea of invisible or distant enemies that aren’t so easy to fight. 

What I didn’t like…

Lionel POV – As Tory would say “no thanks.” But I kinda get why the twisted sisters put in in there.

Random POVS – Again, just… not feeling Geraldine, Max, or Gabriel in this one. Plus we get a random Catalina POV that didn’t feel right to me. 

Final thoughts…

I don’t know what to do with my life until the next book is out. I saw somewhere it was in December. Thank f**k for the novellas and retelling of book 1 from the Heirs’ POVs to help me get through the next 6 months until the final book comes out. I hope it gets published sooner.

Book Review – Finale by Stephanie Garber – 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.

An amazing almost ending, and an even better true ending. This was one of the best series I’ve read in a good while. Definitely worth the hype on booktok and bookstagram. I got an Alice in Wonderland feeling from this whole series along with The Colour of Magic, Sorcery of Thorns, and The Greatest Showman vibes. 

Legend’s identity was revealed in the previous book (no spoilers on that here), and he’s playing a much bigger game than Tella and Scarlett are prepared for. The sisters are playing their own games with the men who hurt them and have to deal with the Fates on top of everything.

What I liked…

It’s just so eclectic and full of quirky magical things that I kept getting swept away in this book and the whole series.

This felt more balanced in tone with both sisters compared to book 2. 

I liked how it got a little racy in the romance department at times but still kept within the tone of the book. I liked how each sister got carried away with the idea of romance but struggled to figure out who they really wanted. Scarlett had her heart set on the Count before the game started, so I can understand how she might reconsider him after Julian’s recent behaviour. 

Tella’s choice of men was also fun to read about. Jacks and Dante were quite similar at times. Immortal, morally grey, unreadable. I honestly couldn’t tell who was going to prove themselves less a villain and more a hero until the very end.

I liked how Scarlett figured everything out with her mother in a way that made sense. We already knew that the mother had the cards that held the Fates, but nothing about how she came to have them. This all gets explained as both sisters follow their own investigations. 

The ending with the letter. No spoilers on specifics, but the whole story began with letters, so it made sense to finish with one. 

What I didn’t like…

I wasn’t thrilled with Scarlett turning her engagement into a competition since she barely knew the Count. But she did realise it later, so I supposed it was a temporary dislike.

Super small thing… No spoilers on who died, but the death scenes were a little rushed. I mean the actual dying. It was… stab… last breath… dead. Not much show the death from an emotional perspective until after. 

Final thoughts…

Wow. Just wow. This whole series swept me up in the game, the sisters’ stories, and crazy romances they both have with unlikely prospects. If you’re having a rough week or just like books that take you out of yourself, this is an ideal series. 

Book Review – Legendary by Stephanie Garber – 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.

Once again, the Dragna sisters are playing a bigger game than everyone else, but Tella is playing this time, and she’s adamant that it’s not real. It’s like Alice in Wonderland meets The Greatest Showman, and I got dragged down the rabbit hole right along with Tella. Everything was so imaginative and incredible and quirky. 

As the epilogue in Caraval’s book 1 suggests, we now switch to Tella’s POV and her search for her mother. Now free from their abusive father, Tella and Scarlett follow Julian and the other Caraval performers to a very special game, where Tella ends up playing to win the one thing she needs to free her mother.

Mid book theory (not telling you if I was right or not so it’s not a spoiler) – There is no Legend. The performers run Caraval together and create rumours about Legend. They take it in turns to play him from a distance so nobody ever sees him properly.

What I liked…

More secrets. Tella reveals her secrets gradually and made me suspicious about Scarlett.

We meet some new characters and get more insight into existing characters via Tella.

I loved the romance in this book. It was a little fiercer even though Tella is younger than Scarlett. She’s also more passionate and willing to take risks which makes her POV that bit more interesting.

What I didn’t like…

Despite loving Tella, it took me a while to get into her POV. I think it was because I was too invested in Scarlett’s story from book 1 and I needed time to let that go. 

This felt very imbalanced in tone. Some moments were on the very young side of YA compare to Scarlett’s POV. Then it flipped to the more mature end with some racy romantic moments.

Final thoughts…

Despite being just a bit too young in tone for me at times, I loved the story and all its adventures and surprises. It’s the perfect book and series to get lost in.

Book Review – Caraval by Stephanie Garber – 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.

Wow. This book swept me far, far away just like Legend’s game. It has a circus feel to it with quirky characters and strange goings-on that remind me a little of Sorcery of Thorns and The Discworld series. 

Following Scarlett’s journey from her simple and planned-out life to being thrown into the most challenging game of her life was so much fun. Every chapter has something exciting and surprising to keep me on my toes, and the romance was nicely done. 

What I liked…

Everything.

The writing was fabulous, so creative and captivating. I couldn’t put this book down.

I loved the quirky magic in the game and fancy clothes that changed colours with Scarlett’s mood.

All the characters were suspicious in their own way, and knowing who to trust was super hard.

Julian had me constantly second-guessing his role in the game as well in Scarlett’s life.

 I didn’t even care how young the characters were because it’s hardly mentioned, and Scarlett begins the story engaged, so I genuinely thought the characters were older.

What I didn’t like…

Nothing worth mentioning. 

Final thoughts…

If you like games with cryptic clues, mysterious characters, and unique magic, then this book is for you.