Book Review – Unbound by Holly Huntress – 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.

I was super excited to read this and that feeling carried on through the book. 

Milah is given a mission by the king to infiltrate a neighbouring kingdom to learn about their weaknesses. But Milah has her own mission to find her parents’ killer. Once there, she learns not all is as it seems. 

What I liked…

Not particularly important, but I loved how the title and cover made sense from the beginning. 

I also love the time jump from Milah losing her parents to when she goes on her mission. It gives her time for the shock to wear off and lean to live with the grief but still have it meaningful in the present because of the way they died. 

I loved not knowing who to trust. Don’t worry, not spoilers on specifics, but the whole book had me wondering who was genuine and who had an agenda and who was out to get Milah for their own reasons. 

Romance was fun to read. Definitely YA romance, but on the upper end.

I love the word building with the book, the magical creatures and the magical powers. 

What I didn’t like…

I thought Milah was too forgiving to a couple of people she should have been angry at. Sure, she can forgive them eventually, but it was a little too quick for my liking. 

Final thoughts…

If you like fantasy espionage, revenge, romance, found family, and badass female MCs, then you should try this book.

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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 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. 

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.

Book Review – Viscous Fae – Ruthless Boys of the Zodiac book 3 – 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.

Oh, wow. I didn’t think this series could get steamier. I was wrong. Also, Elise makes strides in getting closer to Gareth’s killer. Big changes for Elise and her kings in this book which are both fun and surprising. 

I keep flipping back to ZA to work out who Elise is mated to or married to. A few of the spouses aren’t given names, so I’m trying to figure it out.

What I liked…

LANCE ORION – If you haven’t read Zodiac Academy yet, then he won’t mean anything. But OMFG I loved him in this. There were a few things that made me laugh about him like the fact that he refuses alcohol. Also, I’m impressed that Elise held her own against him since ZA readers will know how powerful he is.

The Heirs from ZA – This was really funny to read. They’re not so different from in ZA but it was fun to see Darius meet Dante for the first time. As for Celeb… purely a thought, but I wonder if he’s Elise’s half brother. Elise mentions in book 1 that her father was important and left her mother. I know Caleb’s mother is the councilor, but his father might have grown up in similar circles so… 

Eugine Dipper – Poor guy. I feel so bad for him and his constant bad luck. I hope Elise helps boost his confidence a bit.

Elise and her kings – They just get steamier with each book. And this has a very unexpected scene.

I love how we’re moving closer to finding Gareth’s killer. I have my suspicions over who it is, but I don’t want to risk spoiling it.

What I didn’t like…

Nothing stuck out in this book.

Final thoughts…

Things are moving along nicely, and by the end of this book, things go off the rails in so many senses. Love it. 

Book Review – Savage Fae – Ruthless Boys of the Zodiac book 2 – By Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti – 5 stars

Warning: Contains very minor and vague spoilers and for Zodiac Academy, but opening comments are spoiler-free. Check out my Reading Ranting page for more.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The twisted sisters were probably due a 4 star from me just so it doesn’t look like I’m completely obsessed. But I’m still obsessed with the Zodiac books. 

I didn’t get as lost in this book and book 1, but I still really enjoyed it. 

What I liked…

Elise – I like how she doesn’t get away with everything in this book, and somebody actually finds out some of her secrets. 

Gabriel – He’s a lot more interesting in this book, and I keep jumping to Zodiac Academy to work out if his wife is Elise or not. I wondered why they never actually said her name, and it would spoil this series if we knew for a fact if she married Gabriel. 🤷 I still don’t know but I have my suspicions.

Dante and Leon – Woah. Just… Spice is too mild a word for what these boys do for pleasure. 

Ryder – I like his softer side around Elise. 

Leon – I love his Mindys. I wonder if it’s a play on minions since that’s basically what they are. 

Gareth – I completely forgot this in my previous review but I love the flashbacks. They hi t at things that Elise is about to find or clarify something she already suspected without spoiling things. 

Profesor King – Interesting. I’m sure she had something to do with Gareth’s death, and that’s my suspicion based in this book so not a spoiler.

What I didn’t like…

Elise doesn’t make much progress in finding her brother’s killer in this book. She’s a little easily distracted for my liking sometimes, and it weakens her a bit as a character.

Final thoughts…

If you love curious characters, mysteries, fun magic, and top tier spice, and reverse harems then this is definitely a good read. 

Writing Ranting – How Realistic Are Your Characters? Part 2

Warning: Spoilers of Zodiac Academy, A Court of Thorns and Roses, and The Dark Artifices ahead.

Disclaimer: I don’t read a lot of LGBTQ+ books purely because I don’t come across that many recommendations from the sources I find new books from. That being said, quite a few books in my preferred genre include LGBTQ+ content either through 1 of many POVs or a character close to the MC. 

We’re in Pride Month, so I thought I’d share some of my favourite LGBTQ+ romances. 

  • Mark and Kieran from The Dark Artifices. This is established pretty early on in thestory so not much of a spoiler. I just adore these two and how they found comfort in one another. The mentions of them cozying up to each other after hunting the skies just warms my heart. 
  • Seth and Caleb from Zodiac Academy. In a series with a lot of enemies to lovers, this friends to lovers is refreshing. It’s also so freaking hot how they tease one another since Caleb is supposedly straight until we start seeing hints of his feelings for Seth. Also, his reasons for holding back don’t come across as “Wait? I’m gay?” it’s more like “He’s my best friend and I’m scared of ruining that.” I just love how it plays out.  
  • Mor and Emerie from ACOTAR. I had very mixed feelings towards Mor in the original ACOTAR trilogy and the way she treated Cass and Az. But now I’m over it, and have read A Court of Silver Flames, I want to see things happen in the next book. 

As a writer, I believe it’s important to be inclusive without forcing characters for the sake of it. However, I have a few characters whose sexual orientation works for their character and the story, not that working for the story is more important. It just comes across as more relevant and realistic based on similar relationships I’ve read in other books. Yes, below is including minor spoilers from various WIPs, but nothing significant story-wise.

  • Cleopatra ends up being torn between the boy she’s grown to love and the girl who holds answers to her past.
  • Marina has a tragic love story when she crosses worlds to be with the girl she loves only to find her gone.
  • Drystan is open to anything in bed but will ultimately choose a woman for a relationship.
  • Esme is occasionally physically attracted to men, but only loves one woman.
  • Killian and Nolan are more than happy to be intimate with each other if a woman is involved. 

Like many aspects of my characters, things with their personalities and preferences evolved with the story and just felt right. 

Book Review – Cursed Fates – Zodiac Academy Book 5 – 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.

If you haven’t read book 4, then this review contains major spoilers.

I want to cry for these girls all the time. They never get a break for more than 5 minutes before it all goes wrong again. And if I hear one more person blame Tory for being star-crossed, then I’m going to lay the smack down on them.

What I liked…

I wanted Tory to say yes at the end of the previous book, but totally support her decision to say no in that moment. And now I love her constant questioning her decision and if she should have chosen differently.

I love more of the girls getting their own back on people who hurt them. 

In between the bad stuff, there are some cute and funny moments. I just love the fluff. 

I hate (but secretly love) more hardships for both girls. No spoilers on that, but it’s obvious at this point that things never go right for long.

More sibling tension between Darcy and Tory, which makes their relationship more realistic. 

Darcy. Honestly, I don’t feel overly strongly about Darcy most of the time compared to the others. I like her, but she’s not my favourite. But I feel so bad for her in this book. 

Tory. One of my all-time favourite characters now. Perfect balance of sass and sarcasm. Sometimes she gets a little too self-loathing for my liking, but that’s just her character. 

Caleb. No spoilers, but he does a few very nice things in this book for various people, and I think he’s becoming a good friend to Tory. Sure, he gets something out of it when he gives her an amazing surprise (probably my favourite scene in the whole book, maybe the whole series), but he’d probably do it for her anyway. And what’s brewing with him and a certain other person? I’m hoping that plays out in their favour. 

Darius. He knows he fucked up, and I like reading him stew in what he did to Tory and why she said no. I still hope they fix it, but he needed an emotional slap in the face to spur him into action.

Orion. Not impressed dude. You fudged up royally. Still love you. 

Spice. Woah. Spice is twice as nice when there’s 3 😏. I wasn’t sure I was going to like the dynamics when I realised what was about to happen, but it totally worked. 

I just love how the Vegas and the Heirs are finally on the same side with more playful rivalry mostly (emphasis on mostly). I think it started with the snowball fight at the end of book 4. I loved that scene. 

What I didn’t like…

I still don’t like Max, Seth and Xavier’s POVs. They’re fun characters but their POVs are… meh. But that’s mostly because I’m more invested in the other POVs, even Caleb. 

Final thoughts…

At this point, I can’t fault anything to the point I would take stars away. I’m invested in the story and the twins, Orion, and Darius, and even a few of the other characters as things blossom between them. Each book is an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish, and I freaking love it. 

Monthly TBR Update – May 2022

I’ve always loved shifters, and my recent reads prove it. See my Reading Ranting page for the reviews of May’s books. Also, most of these are audiobooks, so I tend to get through those really quickly. 

In May I read…

  • Zodiac Academy book 1, Awakening by Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti, 5 stars.
  • Zodiac Academy book 2, Ruthless Fae, 5 stars.
  • Zodiac Academy book 3, The Reckoning, 5 stars.
  • Mystic Bayou book 3, Selkies are a Girl’s Best Friend by Molly Harper, 5 stars.
  • Mystic Bayou book 4, Always Be My Banshee, 5 stars
  • Mystic Bayou book 4.5, One Fine Fae, 4 stars. (review pending)
  • Mystic Bayou book 5, Shifters in the Night, 5 stars
  • Mystic Bayou book 6, A Farewell to Charms, 5 stars. (review pending)
  • Sands of Arawiya book 2, We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal, 3 stars.
  • Halven Rising book 2, Fates Entwined by Jules Barnard, 4.5 stars.
  • Guinevere, The Bear’s Heart by Fil Reid, 4.5 stars.

See below for links to the reviews.

Mystic Bayou is an adult urban fantasy and romance set in a realistic town that just happens to have some unrealistic shenanigans. The locals are a mix of humans and shifters or other various magical folk, including fae and banshees. It also has dragons. 😍 It has 2 joint protagonists, different in each book and a bigger plot we follow throughout the series. I love the idea of different protagonists in a series to give the reader a different perspective or focus.. 

Zodiac Academy (NA) follows 2 twins from the human world who discover they’re fae and get sent to a magical college. Imagine Harry Potter on crack. 🤣 More fae and shifters, including vampires, werewolves, sirens, and dragons. OMG more dragon shifters. This is full-on smut and an insane amount of jerkfaces. Just when you think things are going well, the twins face a ton of shit that mess everything up again. 

We Free The Stars is part 2 of Sands of Arawiya duology after We Hunt the Flame. This Arabian inspired YA adventure follows a huntress and prince who are brought together to free magic in the land. I loved book 1, but wasn’t as thrilled with book 2. The romance is annoying and it was too slow in places, but I still enjoyed it.

Halven Rising is another series about fae where college students discover they are part fae (halven) and have magic. They travel to the fae realm where kings and queens battle to rule. I’ve read books 1 and 2, and book 3 is on my tbr. Each book has different protagonists, which makes it more interesting in my opinion. 

In June I plan to read…

  • 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
  • Zodiac Academy book 1.5, Awakening, as Told by the Boys
  • The Never King by Nikki St. Crowe
  • Ruin & Roses by Deanna Ortega
  • Halven Rising book 3, Fates Fulfilled

I’m so excited to get read more of Zodiac Academy. I’m currently at the end of book 4 so that review might be up later or next Saturday. As for The Never King and Ruin & Roses, they have good reviews and lots of support on bookish social media so I decided to check out the blurb and though they looked good. And I want to finish the Halven rising series.

Check back in at the end of June to see how I went with my June TBR.