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. 

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 – Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas – 4 stars

Warning: Some reviews contain spoilers. Check out my Reading Ranting page for more.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

There are some dark themes, on page torture, flashbacks to abuse, and mentions of sexual abuse, so a trigger warning is required.

I’m going to start with non-spoiler thoughts on the entire series then dip into each book. Generally, I loved the series, mainly following the characters’ journeys and their highs and lows. Lots of lows, but the highs were just as good. I cried a few times. One scene especially (no spoilers but it wasn’t one of Celeana’s) in the final book hit me hard. I don’t often cry in books and haven’t with any of her others, so this said something about how much I’d invested emotionally. I also loved how things pieced together over the series as more characters filled in gaps and joined the story. 

But… I found the latter books a bit slow. The scenes dragged way longer than I had the patience for by that point. I get the idea was to build tension, and it did, but then I just got bored and wanted to skip, which ruined the tension building. I think there were too many POVs by the end that overloaded me and sometimes confused me as to whose POV we were in. Some could be cut and told to a POV character and some could be easily shifted to another. 

Either way, I loved this series and would recommend it to anyone who likes big adventures and emotional journeys but be prepared for an epic ending and the words to go with it.

Throne of Glass 4 stars

This book revolved around a competition where Celeana, an assassin who was captured and enslaved in a mine for a year, could win her freedom. But she has to face the man responsible for her parents’ deaths along with present deaths that create problems for her during the tournament.

This book didn’t grab me in the earlier pages. It’s a mixed pace, which I tend to prefer, but not when the start is so slow. It was worth it when the bigger story began and we started to see the beginnings of a mystery.

What I liked…

I love Celeana. She’s a feisty character with a complicated history. She’s a little prickly but after what she’s been through, but she has reason to me. 

The two male leads Chaol and Dorian are an unlikely pair for friends but make for an interesting dynamic. Chaol is all about duty while Dorian will do anything to avoid it, including sneak about with an assassin.

Celeana starts off pretty pathetic on the physical abilities front and has to train a lot with Chaol to help her win the tournament. I love seeing the change and I love how realistic it all is, including days when she’s unwell because of her period. It doesn’t get more relatable for female readers. 

What I didn’t like…

I think there are too many coincidences that make no sense. I’m on board with a fake reason for now, or the characters musing about plausible reasons that end up being wrong, but I get annoyed when things magically happen. 

Celeana discovers a lot that just creates more questions, and the one person who can answer is super shifty. Again, as a reader, I needed something to work with on that front even if it’s a lie or the shifty character is spelled not to give specifics. 

Final thoughts…

Despite the dark themes sprinkled about, the story is a fun read with interesting characters, an exciting plot, and lots of mysteries for us to unravel.

Crown of Midnight 4 stars

Celaena won the tournament to become the King’s Champion and is back to being the assassin she was before she was enslaved. But just when she thinks she can get on with her life, at least for now, more dark and twisted magic starts causing havoc in the castle.

What I liked…

More magic creeping about. We thought it was over, but the wyrd marks are just the beginning.

I loved the new characters to spice up the story and create tension and distrust while encouraging the existing characters to question their true loyalties.

The tension between Chaol, Dorian, and Celaena was fun to read. I don’t mind love triangles if they’re written well. 

I love that the characters are forced to make hard decisions and sacrifice to spare others. And not a significant spoiler, but Chaol’s personal sacrifice to keep Celeana safe was especially meaningful. 

What I didn’t like…

I did NOT like when I found out Celaena’s big secret. It was super vaguely hinted at once or twice, but 2 whole books??? Sorry, but I hate when characters keep secrets from the reader. A short time is fine for a bit of suspense, but almost 2 books, and we had no idea.

I honestly think books 1 and 2 could have been combined with some minor sacrifices. I read a lot of long books, but this didn’t quite feel like I got my time’s worth in that sense.

Final thoughts…

Settle in for the long, long, long haul, but it’s worth it for the characters. Their personal journeys are too much fun to give up on, and I couldn’t wait to see what Celeana does next.

Heir of Fire 3 stars

I felt like this was where the real story began, and books 1 and 2 were more like build-up. At the time, it didn’t feel that way so they were worth reading. But now Celaena is out of the king’s grasp and can do whatever she wants. So she gets drunk and eats garlic bread on a roof. Sounds like a plan.

Incoming old AF broody fae male to bring some real badass magic to the mix and make Celeane feel even more guilty for the past ten years. 

What I liked…

I loved that it wasn’t easy for her to tap into her powers. We followed her struggles both magically and emotionally as she faced pieces of her past to keep her promises.

Rowan was definitely a nice addition to spice things up with Celaena, not romantically, but he challenges her at every turn. I love that since she can be a little bratty. I’m okay with a little brattiness after all she’s been through.

Manon. I loved her. She’s my favourite character in the series, and I found myself more interested in her story and loving Abraxos. He’s like a big scaly cat.

I like following more of Dorian and Chaol without Celaena. They feel more like independent characters in this book. And their ending… super tragic.

I also love how Celaena’s cousin is now in the story and discovering what he’s been up to in the ten years since Celeana’s parents died. 

What I didn’t like…

Again, I feel like some bits were a slog. Character-wise, they were interesting, but they were too often and made the story feel slow.

Her discoveries felt too random for my liking, and I would have preferred some connection at least even if it was unclear. I don’t know. Just… puzzles are fun, but when you can’t see pieces with at least the same colours, you begin to lose interest. 

Final thoughts…

As far as characters and fun goings-on, this is another great instalment in the series. But be prepared to wait for it all to make sense. Long haul, remember. 

Queen of Shadows 5 stars

Having mostly mastered her fire and the shift, Celeana is now going by her real name, Aelin. She’s back in RIfthold and meeting up with Chaol who now knows who she really is.

What I liked…

Things start to make more sense now as characters meet up again. I love the reunions, some emotional, some crazy, some full of resentment. Lots of character dynamics to process.

Manon starts showing her soft side with a new character, and I love their story along with Kaltain’s. It’s all so interesting to read about characters from book 1 or characters from Celaena’s past that we haven’t met before.

Everything moved nicely in this book and felt more satisfying in plot/character/worldbuilding balance.

What I didn’t like…

Nothing jumped out at me in this book. 

Final thoughts…

Definitely the best so far and worth the wait to get into the real grit of the bigger story.

Empire of Storms 5 stars

All the characters have their goals and they all end up with Aelin, but she’d feel the pressure. She faces threats from all sides, including from people she thought she could trust. Plus, she makes some pretty harsh discoveries that blow up all her other plans.

What I liked…

Everything in this one. 

Character dynamics and their individual conflicts. 

Plot movement that keeps me on my toes.

Tension is really good in this one. I nice balance of buildup and execution.

What I didn’t like…

In this one, nothing leaps out.

Final thoughts…

Another fantastic instalment in the series. I feel way more immersed in it now.

Tower of Dawn

I skipped it. Sorry, not sorry. 

I’d just finished Empire of Storm when Kingdom of Ash was released, so I jumped straight to that. Everything I’d missed made sense as and when it needed to in the final book, so if you’re desperate to read that, then don’t worry about skipping this. You’ll catch up.

I did however feel bad about missing out on new relationships and new characters, but again, I figured it out quite easily in the final book.

Kingdom of Ash 3 stars

I’m not sure where to start with this book. It had a satisfactory ending but dragged a lot. I found myself getting bored of the extended scenes and long descriptions. It was kind of a letdown compared to Queen of Shadows and Empire of Storms. But I still enjoyed it for the most part.

What I liked…

Finally, everything comes together and makes a nice little bow.

The emotional aspects really hit me in this book, especially taking down one of the witch towers. No specifics to avoid spoilers, but I cried at that whole scene.

All the characters joining forces was so much fun to read. They all brought their own pieces to complete the massive puzzle which was super satisfying after such a long series and so many groups of people.

What I didn’t like…

Aelin’s attempt to put the wyrd stones back. I honestly didn’t see the point of that part at all. I understood the backstory of it and why she was supposed to do it, but it did nothing for the plot other than have all this build-up to… very little. 

The later battle scenes dragged a lot. They were slow and boring and I wanted to skim. 

Aelin keeping secrets from the reader… again. This is a huge pet peeve for me, so the constant surprises were more annoying than anything. We’re in her head, so why is she keeping secrets from us? I’m on board with secrets for a couple of scenes, but not for multiple books or chapters like Aelin seemed to do throughout the whole series.

Final thoughts…

Overall, this series was amazing with characters and worldbuilding, but it lacked good pacing at times and satisfactory reasoning for me as a reader. I’m definitely glad I read this and found myself loving the characters’ personal journeys more than the bigger story.

Book Review. Gods and Monsters by Shelby Mahurin. 4 stars.

Warning: Contains minor spoilers.

Another amazing book from Shelby Mahurin and another amazing series that left me sad that it was over. I can’t live like this… great stories just ending, 😭😭😭

Let’s start with what I liked…

Nicolina’s POV was a nice treat. We get another perspective on everything plus her own past and more about the wraiths. That made for another curious addition and how Lou got trapped inside Nicolina.

Lou’s POV from inside Nicilina was another good perspective. Her struggle to get free brought painful memories to the surface for both Lou and Nicolina, and I think that made me sympathise more with Nicolina.

Revelations on Coco’s family (I’ll spare you specifics here) made me so happy since that’s my favourite kind of magical being. It also expanded the world and allowed for more fun with gathering allies.

The epilogue. No spoilers but… I cried. I actually cried. 

What I did/didn’t like…

I both liked and didn’t like Lou and Reed having such a brief moment as themselves before it got take from them again. It felt like I didn’t get a chance to love them together again after their issues in book 2. I needed at least a chapter of normalcy between them before things changed. 

What I didn’t like…

Reid is still too bratty for my liking. 

Final thoughts…

After finishing this book, I felt satisfied enough over the story’s ending, but a sort of emptiness over leaving the characters. It’s a love story with a ton of magic and amazing characters along with a beautiful French influence.