Book Reviews

The Awakening

The Awakening (The Dragon Heart Legacy #1)

By: Nora Roberts

Blurb:

In the realm of Talamh, a teenage warrior named Keegan emerges from a lake holding a sword—representing both power and the terrifying responsibility to protect the Fey. In another realm known as Philadelphia, a young woman has just discovered she possesses a treasure of her own…

When Breen Kelly was a girl, her father would tell her stories of magical places. Now she’s an anxious twentysomething mired in student debt and working a job she hates. But one day she stumbles upon a shocking discovery: her mother has been hiding an investment account in her name. It has been funded by her long-lost father—and it’s worth nearly four million dollars.

This newfound fortune would be life-changing for anyone. But little does Breen know that when she uses some of the money to journey to Ireland, it will unlock mysteries she couldn’t have imagined. Here, she will begin to understand why she kept seeing that silver-haired, elusive man, why she imagined his voice in her head saying Come home, Breen Siobhan. It’s time you came home. Why she dreamed of dragons. And where her true destiny lies—through a portal in Galway that takes her to a land of faeries and mermaids, to a man named Keegan, and to the courage in her own heart that will guide her through a powerful, dangerous destiny…

Review:

As soon as I started reading The Awakening, I struggled to put it down. I wasn’t able to focus on anything once I started. I was surprised by that because I expected this story to be like Robert’s The One Chronicles. It was very light on romance, like that series, but The Awakening was nowhere near as dark. It was almost like reading a wish-fulfillment book. The main character was miserable in her life, though she had a found family that she loved completely. She finds out that her mother has been hiding a fortune from her and can then live the life she’s always wanted. She goes to Ireland, something I’ve always wanted to do. She starts writing a book and ends up being very good at it, something I’ve tried to do with varying levels of success. She then finds out that there’s a multiverse, and she’s got powers, something I think everyone has wanted at some point in their lives.

Even with how much I loved The Awakening, I did have a couple of complaints. Well, not complaints exactly, but things I wasn’t all on board with. The biggest one being the relationship between the main character and what will inevitably be her love interest. He was a bully while training her and gruff and rude while not, but I was supposed to believe that she was attracted to him. Their “relationship” would have seemed to come out of nowhere if I wasn’t used to these types of books. It was seriously lacking in any kind of attraction or build up.

I also wish it hadn’t ended on a cliffhanger. That’s only a complaint because it was so good I want to read the next book NOW. The next book doesn’t come out till November, so I’ve got a wait ahead. Considering how long I had to wait for this book from the library, I might pre-order the sequel.

Besides all the wish-fulfillment going on with The Awakening, I loved the world that was created. It’s not one I necessarily think I could live in, I love technology too much for that, but it sounded beautiful. More than a few times, I set aside the book and searched for cottages in Ireland. The descriptions were gorgeous. I also loved that all these fairy tale creatures were able to live together in harmony. The world sounded like a utopia, except for the whole fact that a demon god was trying to destroy it and everything else.

The Awakening was an excellent read, and even though it wasn’t like Nora Robert’s books of old, it was one I’m incredibly excited to keep reading. It’s the middle of January, and I’ve already read one of my favorite books of the year. It’s crazy.

5/5

In a Holidaze

In a Holidaze

By: Christina Lauren

Blurb:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.

But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.

The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.

Jam-packed with yuletide cheer, an unforgettable cast of characters, and Christina Lauren’s trademark “downright hilarious” (Helen Hoang, author of The Bride Test) hijinks, this swoon-worthy romantic read will make you believe in the power of wishes and the magic of the holidays.

Review:

In a Holidaze is a Christmas Groundhogs day story, two things that I love, so I was particularly excited to read it. I was hoping for a bit more Groundhogs day than I got, unfortunately.

Maelyn does her best not to make waves. She wants to make sure everyone else is comfortable, sometimes at her own expense. She’s also a stickler for tradition. When everything seems to go wrong at her usual family Christmas vacation, she finds herself reliving the entire trip. It wasn’t until she decided to say f-it, I’m going to do what I want when things started to go right. I was actually a bit disappointed by that. I wanted more times through, but at the same time, I was annoyed at how obvious what she needed to do was.

Andrew, Maelyn’s love interest, seemed like a good guy. She’d had a crush on him for half of her life, but he had her firmly in the little sister category. Things, of course, changed in that department. Their intimate scenes were closer to fade to black than explicit, which was fine.

In a Holidaze was a fine book. It just needed to be punched up in a couple of plot areas. There was a large cast of characters, and they didn’t all get the time they deserved. They seemed interesting and were fleshed out, but several didn’t contribute much to the story. I was also disappointed in the handling of Andrew’s brother, Theo.

It was a cute holiday book and, with the right expectations, enjoyable.

3/5

Witchmark

Witchmark (The Kingston Cycle #1)

By: C.L. Polk

Blurb:

In an original world reminiscent of Edwardian England in the shadow of a World War, cabals of noble families use their unique magical gifts to control the fates of nations, while one young man seeks only to live a life of his own.

Magic marked Miles Singer for suffering the day he was born, doomed either to be enslaved to his family’s interest or to be committed to a witches’ asylum. He went to war to escape his destiny and came home a different man, but he couldn’t leave his past behind. The war between Aeland and Laneer leaves men changed, strangers to their friends and family, but even after faking his own death and reinventing himself as a doctor at a cash-strapped veterans’ hospital, Miles can’t hide what he truly is.

When a fatally poisoned patient exposes Miles’ healing gift and his witchmark, he must put his anonymity and freedom at risk to investigate his patient’s murder. To find the truth he’ll need to rely on the family he despises, and on the kindness of the most gorgeous man he’s ever seen.

Review:

It took me a couple of weeks to get into Witchmark. Not because there’s anything wrong with the book; I just wasn’t in a reading mood. Once I did, though I was all in, telling my kids to leave mommy alone so she can read.

Miles Singer was born with the ability to heal. The only power valued in his country is the ability to control storms. Since he doesn’t have that power and is part of one of the country’s wealthiest families, his choice is to forever bond with a storm mage so that they can basically use him as a battery. For obvious reasons, he’s not a fan of that, however if the general public find out that he’s a witch he’ll be locked away in an asylum. So he runs away as a young man.

We meet him years later after he’s served in a war and become a shadow of himself. His desire to heal is constantly warring with his desire not to be found and brought back to his family. Things change, and I’m reminded why life as a kind person who cares about others above all is filled with constant disappointment.

Anyway, Miles is pulled into a mystery that has implications across his entire country. He’s also dealing with the mystery of what’s happening to the men coming back from war. It’s a tangled web that I wasn’t able to figure out until the end. Bits and pieces were obvious, and I still don’t trust his sister, but the big reveal wasn’t what I thought it would be.

Witchmark was a great story, and I’m so glad that The Midnight Bargain wasn’t a fluke. I really like C.L. Polk, and I’m excited to read the next books in the Kingston Cycle.

4.5/5

Snapped (Playbook #4)

Snapped (Playbook #4)

By: Alexa Martin

Blurb:

With the stakes this high, it’s no longer just a game for the quarterback in this romance by the author of Blitzed.

Elliot Reed is living her best life—or pretending to. She owes it to her dad’s memory to be happy and make the most of her new job as Strategic Communications Manager for the Denver Mustangs. Things are going well until star quarterback Quinton Howard Jr. decides to use the field as his stage and becomes the first player to take a knee during the national anthem.

As the son of a former professional athlete, Quinton knows the good, the bad, and the ugly about football. He’s worked his entire life to gain recognition in the sport, and now that he has it, he’s not about to waste his chance to change the league for better. Not even the brilliant but infuriating Elliot, who the Mustangs assign to manage him, will get Quinton back in line.

A rocky initial meeting only leads to more tension between Quinton and Elliot. But as her new job forces them to spend time together, she realizes they may have more in common than she could’ve ever imagined. With her job and his integrity on the line, this is one coin toss that nobody can win.

Review:

I seriously thought I’d already written and posted this review. The holiday season has me all messed up.

Snapped was the book I most expected from a series based on football players, but also the one I feared the most. There is so much going on in the real world, and it could have so easily been done poorly. I think that Martin did the best job a romance book could accomplish. I was impressed.

Elliot has suffered a significant loss with the death of her only parent. She struggles to cope with that almost a year later and has buried herself in her job. She is biracial and has felt torn in two her entire life. One of her defenses is ignoring certain things.

Quinton is living his own nightmare but refuses to back down. He’s got a platform, and he’s going to use it to the best of his ability. He’s a pretty great hero. He’s not pushy, he knows his own mind, and he doesn’t want Elliot to change. He just needs her to stop ignoring certain things.

They worked well together. Their romance was subtle at first, considering Elliot didn’t think he liked her. Once it got going, it was full-on because, at that point, they’d become friends. I like friends to lovers, so I enjoyed that a lot.

I’m not sure if there’s going to be a book after this one. There isn’t any unmarried person in the book that stood out as a possibility for another story. However, one couple is experiencing issues that I would love to see a story about. A short story, at least. If that doesn’t happen, Snapped was an excellent book to go out on.

4/5

Love is a Rogue (Wallflowers vs. Rogues #1)

Love is a Rogue (Wallflowers vs. Rogues #1)

By: Lenora Bell

Blurb:

They call her Beastly Beatrice.

Wallflower Lady Beatrice Bentley longs to remain in the wilds of Cornwall to complete her etymological dictionary. Too bad her brother’s Gothic mansion is under renovation. How can she work with an annoyingly arrogant and too-handsome rogue swinging a hammer nearby?

Rogue. Scoundrel. Call him anything you like as long as you pay him.

Navy man Stamford Wright is leaving England soon, and renovating Thornhill House is just a job. It’s not about the duke’s bookish sister or her fiery copper hair. Or the etymology lessons the prim-yet-alluring lady insists on giving him. Or the forbidden things he’d love to teach her.

They say never mix business with pleasure. But when Beatrice and Ford aren’t arguing, they’re kissing.

Sometimes, temptation proves too strong to resist…even if the cost is a heart.

Review:

For some reason, I was hesitant to read Love is a Rogue once I’d checked it out from the library. It’s got a premise I like. I think my concern was that Beatrice would end up being too passive. I don’t need my heroines to be strong and stubborn, but I don’t like them to be doormats. I don’t like it when an alpha hero comes in and steamrolls over her. Thankfully, none of that happened, and once I got into the story, I had fun.

Beatrice doesn’t want to get married. She wants to live in the country and work on her dictionary. Sadly, a perfect manly specimen is remodeling her brother’s house and makes it impossible for her. This whole part of the story is over pretty fast, and they’ve quickly moved to London, where the fun begins.

Wright is a Navy carpenter that has no desire to spend his life taking orders from the gentry. His father has worked as a duke’s carpenter (cause apparently that’s a thing), and Wright has no desire to do that. Unfortunately for him, the woman of his dreams keeps watching him build, and he can’t stop himself from trying to impress her.

Their relationship is cute with lots of verbal foreplay. It was fun to read them together. The weakest part of Love is a Rogue, for me, was the ending. I thought that her mother needed a really good telling off, and so did his grandfather. Instead, they went the route of forgiving everyone for being superficial, arrogant, disgusting assholes. I’m not forgiving. Of either of them, though the grandfather is a bigger ass.

The way the book referenced other characters, I think there’s probably another series that this is a spin-off of, but it didn’t impact my ability to understand the story. I don’t usually read regency romances where there isn’t a form of nobility involved, so that was nice. All of that being said, I still have this feeling like I don’t want to continue with the series. Ultimately, it will depend on the story that follows, and if I enjoy any other novels by Bell.

3/5