Unlike most semesters, I found time to read during the mid-semester crunch, and so I took full advantage of it. Between reading and obsessively trying for 100% achievement completion in Banished I don’t have time for individual reviews, so instead I’m giving a brief summation of my impressions for each book. Titles include:
Romance – Barbarian’s Redemption, Fire in His Blood, Collide, Apricot Kisses, seven books from the Morna’s Legacy series, Scandalous Desires, and It’s Complicated.
Fantasy – Only the Stones Survive, The Graveyard Book, Collide (heavy genre overlap), A Darker Shade of Magic, and A Gathering of Shadows.
Reviews are in order of date read. (My star ratings are explained here.)
Only the Stones Survive by Morgan Llywelyn
It took me two weeks to finish this book, and then only because I brought it as my only form of entertainment (by that point, nearly halfway through it) on a trip with a four hour layover followed by a four hour flight. I’m still not quite sure what this story was about. The characters were forgettable and far too numerous for the book’s length and the plot dragged. Every time it finally would get interesting, the viewpoint would shift. I give the story one star for its world-building and a half star for being readable (even if it was boring). If you’re into Irish mythology the book may intrigue you, otherwise I’d give it a pass.
Barbarian’s Redemption by Ruby Dixon
The 13th book in Dixon’s Ice Planet Barbarian‘s series unites Bek with his human mate, who isn’t too pleased to meet the brash hunter. If you haven’t read the series before but are in the mood for some hot sex, a unique setting, and a great supporting cast, these books are a must.
Bonus: the entire series is available free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.
Fire in His Blood by Ruby Dixon
This entry book into Dixon’s newest series (also available on Kindle Unlimited) features post-apocalyptic life following some unknown event that caused entities from a world of dragons to be sucked into Earth. Humans are reduced to desperate acts to survive and our leading lady is stranded as a sacrifice to appease a local dragon in hopes that it will protect their town. She does—the dragon is quite thrilled he has a new mate. There’s a bit too much unanswered, but knowing Dixon’s writing, future installments will address details. The world-building needs work, but the romance is hot, the sex hotter, and dragons hottest of all.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
I don’t commonly follow-up reading a romance with a children’s book, but this was an assigned title for my Children’s Literature class. 😉 It tells the story of Bod, a child growing up in a graveyard, raised by ghosts following the murder of his family. With the killer’s task unfulfilled the boy remains in danger, but his guardian Silas protects and guides him as the mystery unfolds. The book is a quick, enjoyable read. I handed it off to my 12-year-old afterward who enjoyed it as well. It’s also available in graphic novel format.
Collide by Michelle Madow
I came across this while browsing newer Kindle Unlimited titles and found the premise (and cover art) fascinating—especially since I wrote a short story last fall with a similar death/alternate world vibe. We meet Anna briefly before her death, which somehow propels her backward one week in a parallel universe where her mother is still alive but her life choices are quite different. Though the identity of the killer was easy to deduce (in my opinion, but keep in mind this is a Teen/YA book), how Anna and her friends work through tackling the mystery is compelling. I dropped a star from my rating for the romance, which had too much emphasis yet left much to be desired.
Apricot Kisses by Claudia Winter
I finished this book two weeks ago but was unimpressed with its slow pacing and convoluted plot. A food blogger rates a restaurant poorly and the grandmother of its owner dies after reading the review. The blogger goes to apologize, makes some weird deal to stay for a couple weeks to see if it changes her mind, and both her and the owner fall in love. There’s also a bunch of other stuff: a jerkoff brother, a missing recipe, a stipulation of marriage, yadda yadda. It’s free on Kindle Unlimited, but not one I’d recommend if you have to pay for it.
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
This book was my second Brilliant Books Monthly offering and I looked forward to the moment it entered my hands. It did not disappoint; I consumed it in a day. The characters were well-written, the alternate Londons and their variations fascinating, and the magic—while vital to the worlds—had an important role in the plot without being a crutch. The first entry of the Shades of Magic trilogy is fast-paced and a must-read for fantasy fans. You’ll want to read more about Kell and Lila at its end (I ordered book 2 immediately), but there’s no cliffhanger.
Morna’s Legacy (series) by Bethany Claire
I read book 6 in this series last July after snagging it for $0.99 in a BookBub deal. A set of four books followed after another BookBub deal (also $0.99!), but they languished in my backlog until this month, when I binged my way through book 7. The series follows the romances of modern ladies (and a gent) who time travel (thanks to a witch named Morna) back to 1600s Scotland and meet their true love. Some stories and characters are better than others, but they’re all quick, enjoyable reads. Each book is a standalone with a HEA.
- Love Beyond Time (#1):
- Love Beyond Reason (#2):
- A Conall Christmas (#2.5):
- Love Beyond Hope (#3):
- Love Beyond Measure (#4):
- In Due Time (#4.5):
- Love Beyond Compare (#5):
- Love Beyond Dreams (#6):
- Love Beyond Belief (#7):
A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
It was time for more fantasy following my romance binge, so I dove into the second Darker Shades of Magic book. A few months have passed since book 1 and Red London is preparing for the Element Games (where the best magic users compete). Kell and Lila make a return, with a heavier focus on Lila and her amazing adaptation to the world of Red London. We also get more from Prince Rhy’s perspective and Captain Alucard makes a great new addition to the cast. Old friends from unwelcome places lead to a huge cliffhanger. The book isn’t quite as good as the first, but it’s still a riveting read. Since I wanted to complete my paperback set I ordered book 3, A Conjuring of Light, from the UK (it likely won’t be available in the US until late this year), so I’m still impatiently awaiting its arrival.
Scandalous Desires by Elizabeth Hoyt
Scandalous Desires (book #3) is the last of the titles I skipped during my initial foray into Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series. Though not quite the caliber of my favorite books in this series, it’s far better than my last catch-up read of Wicked Intentions. Widowed Silence Hollingbrook clashes with pirate Mickey O’Connor, both evolving by leaps as they leave a lasting impression on one another. An enemy from Mickey’s past puts those he loves in peril and Silence must learn to survive in this dangerous new world. Unlike most of Hoyt’s books, the culmination of this romance is slower to peak, but the pacing fits character development. (Now I can finally move on to the most recent release!)
It’s Complicated by Julia Kent
…or more aptly titled: It’s Too Long. This was a sad end to my month of reading, but I picked it up last week as a free deal, thinking the synopsis sounded hot. It was, but it wasn’t. The two main characters certainly had sexual chemistry, but I’m unconvinced they ever bonded enough for a true romance. Add in the problem of too much time spent on repetitive internal musings and suddenly the book just drags. Once I started skimming over those parts it became bearable to finish, but the plot isn’t worth the time investment.
Coming up in April:
- reading Maniac Magee, Esperanza Rising, and Children of the Dust Bowl for my Children’s Literature class
- finishing the second half of Sanderson’s Arcanum Unbounded collection
- reviewing a late April release, Making Waves, for Netgalley
- other reading group challenge titles: Haunted on Bourbon Street, How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days, and The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland
- …and hopefully more! 🙂