Book Reviews

First Comes Like (Modern Love #3)

First Comes Like (Modern Love #3)

By:

Alisha Rai

Blurb:

Beauty expert and influencer Jia Ahmed has her eye on the prize: conquering the internet today, the entire makeup industry tomorrow, and finally, finally proving herself to her big opinionated family. She has little time for love, and even less time for the men in her private messages—until the day a certain international superstar slides into her DMs, and she falls hard and fast.

There’s just one wrinkle: he has no idea who she is.

The son of a powerful Bollywood family, soap opera star Dev Dixit is used to drama, but a strange woman who accuses him of wooing her online, well, that’s a new one. As much as he’d like to focus on his Hollywood fresh start, he can’t get Jia out of his head. Especially once he starts to suspect who might have used his famous name to catfish her…

When paparazzi blast their private business into the public eye, Dev is happy to engage in some friendly fake dating to calm the gossips and to dazzle her family. But as the whole world swoons over their relationship, Jia can’t help but wonder: Can an online romance-turned-offline-fauxmance ever become love in real life?

Review:

First Comes Life is the third book in the Modern Love series, and the books have remained consistent. I wouldn’t say I love the series, but I do like it. The problem I have is with the endings. They don’t fulfill the need I have with these kinds of books, though, First Comes Like did better than Girl Gone Viral. I wasn’t missing out on revenge; I missed out on what comes after the happy ending.

Jia is an influencer, a career that a lot of people get flack for. Some of them rightfully so, but I feel the career as a whole is panned because it’s a female-led industry. Women make up most influencers, and they’re often made fun of for being vapid and manipulative, among other things. Jia is older at twenty-nine, and her popularity is starting to decline.

Meanwhile, Dev is trying to make the move from Bollywood to Hollywood. He’s suffered two losses in his life when family members he has complicated relationships died. He’s now raising his niece and doing everything he can to be a good parent. He’s sweet if not kind of boring.

The catfishing only plays the part of getting the couple together and starting the fake dating relationship. It’s clear from the beginning, though, that it’s not really fake. They’re both attracted to each other, but lack of clear communication and understanding has things taking a little longer. Jia often acts younger than she is, in my opinion. She’s never had a romantic relationship, so I guess I should give her a pass, but it was sometimes hard to remember that she was almost thirty.

Their relationship developed quickly, quicker than most books, but it never progressed to anything physical until the end. They didn’t even kiss, which was a bit too chaste for me, but understandable considering Jia’s religious beliefs and Dev’s general conservativeness.

There were parts of First Comes Like that I enjoyed and parts I didn’t. It was a solid three-star book. If there’s another installment in the series, I’ll read it, but I’ll stick with getting it from the library.

3/5

Night Shit Dragons (DFZ #3)

Night Shit Dragons (DFZ #3)

By:

Rachel Aaron

Blurb:

They say family always sticks together, but when you’re your dad’s only lifeline and the whole world—humans, dragons, and gods—wants you dead, “family bonding” takes on a whole new meaning.

My name is Opal Yong-ae, and I’m in way over my head. I thought getting rid of my dad’s bad luck curse would put things back to normal. Instead, I’m stuck playing caretaker to the Great Dragon of Korea. That wouldn’t be so bad if he wasn’t such a jerk, or if every dragon on the planet wasn’t out to kill him, or if he was my only problem.

Turns out, things can always get worse in the DFZ. When a rival spirit attacks my god/boss with the aim of turning the famously safety-optional city into a literal death arena with Nik as his bloody champion, I’m thrust onto the front lines and way out of my comfort zone. When gods fight, mortals don’t usually survive, but I’m not alone this time. Even proud old dragons can learn new tricks, and with everything I love falling to pieces, the father I’ve always run from might just be the only force in the universe stubborn enough to pull us back together.

Review:

Night Shift Dragons is the conclusion of the DFZ trilogy. We get a resolution to everything, which was exactly what I wanted. The ending was properly climactic as well. I was happy with this story.

So, when last we saw Opal, she had saved her father and been eaten by the DFZ. When we join her, it’s been two months, and during that time she’s been training to be a shaman while her father remains unconscious. She’s afraid to make herself a target, so she’s let the DMZ hide her, which means Nik has no idea where she is or if she’s safe. I wasn’t a fan of that. It came off as very selfish on her part, making her feelings for him seem less.

Like the previous book, I felt for Nik. He made a really bad decision based on his infatuation for Opal and ended up paying a huge price. However, I like that this story revolved around Opal saving him. He finally got the attention he deserved from her.

Opal’s relationship with her father has been a significant driver of the series, and we finally get a resolution. I loved how this was worked out. These are two incredibly stubborn characters, and neither was able to see things from the others side. I thought how Aaron resolved things worked beautifully.

My only complaint is that I wish the series was longer. I wanted more. I was delighted to read the author’s note at the end that said Aaron would be writing more books set in that universe. I have no idea when the next one will come out, but I’m looking forward to it.

4/5

Part-Time Gods (DFZ #2)

Part-Time Gods (DFZ #2)

By: Rachel Adam

Blurb:

Life in the magical mess of the Detroit Free Zone is never easy. When you’re laboring under the curse of a certain prideful, overbearing dragon, it can be down right impossible.

My name is Opal Yong-ae, and I’m a Cleaner. At least, I used to be. Thanks to the supernatural bad luck that turns everything I do against me, these days I’m more of a walking disaster. Getting rid of this curse is the only way to get my life back. Unfortunately, dragon magic is every bit as sneaky and deadly the monsters behind it, and just as hard to beat.

But I’ve never been one to take her doom at face value. Cornered doesn’t mean defeated, and in an awakened city that rules herself, dragons are no longer the biggest powers around.

Review:

We learned more about Opal and her relationship with her family in Part-Time Gods. We also got to see the relationship between her and Nik develop. His devotion to her is so sweet and obvious. However, there was a conversation at the end that made him almost seem obsessed.

Opal is figuring out a way to work around her father’s curse. There’s a lot of trial and error and, of course, a gunfight because nothing can be easy for her. I’m curious if that’s curse-related or just because of her. Maybe we’ll find out in the next book.

For whatever reason, everyone wants to take Opal’s freedom away. Her father, in a way Nick, and now the spirit of the DFZ. None of them think about it that way, but it’s almost identical in the case of her father and the spirit of the DFZ. It’s kind of weird, and I have no problems seeing her side of things. I do feel some sympathy for Nik, we learn more about his life, and it’s easy to see why he feels the way he does. It doesn’t make it right, though.

The next book is the last in the series, and there are a couple of things I want a resolution on. I have faith that Aaron will be able to deliver, though. Heartstrikers had even more threads to tie up, and she handled that well.

3.5/5

Minimum Wage Magic (DFZ #1)

Minimum Wage Magic (DFZ #1)

By: Rachel Aaron

Blurb:

Making a living is hard. In a lawless city where gods are real, dragons are traffic hazards, and buildings move around on their own, it can feel downright impossible.

Good thing freelance mage Opal Yong-ae has never let little things like impossibility stop her. She’s found a way to put her overpriced magical art history degree to use as a Cleaner: a contract municipal employee who empties out abandoned apartments and resells the unusual treasures she finds inside for a profit. It’s not a pretty job, or a safe one–there’s a reason she wears bite-proof gloves–but when you’re neck-deep in debt to a very magical, very nasty individual, you can’t be picky about where the money comes from.

But even Opal’s low standards are put to the test when the only thing of value in her latest apartment is the body of the previous tenant. Dealing with the dead isn’t technically part of her job, but this mage died hiding a secret that could be worth a lot of money, and Opal’s the only one who knows. With debts she can’t pay due at the end of the week, this could be the big break she’s been waiting for, but in a city of runaway magic where getting in over your head generally means losing it, the cost of chasing this opportunity might be more than Opal can survive.

AUTHOR’S NOTE:
This is the first in a new series set in the same universe as my Heartstrikers books, but you don’t need to have read those stories to enjoy this one. MINIMUM WAGE MAGIC was written to stand by itself, so if you haven’t read the others, don’t worry! I wrote this book with you in mind. Thank you so much for reading! 

Review:

I’ve had Minimum Wage Magic on my kindle for quite a while at this point. I really liked Aaron’s Heartstriker series, so when this popped up on my radar, I bought it. One thing led to another, and I ended up forgetting about it. Now, for the first time in seemingly forever, I don’t have any library books. So I surfed through my kindle, re-read a few favorites, and then decided to read this.

Minimum Wage Magic is set in the same universe as the Heartstrikers series in the city of the DFZ, Detroit Free Zone. It’s a fascinating city, and I was thrilled to see more of it. Also, since Opal isn’t a dragon, we got to see a new side of things. Her relationship with dragons is completely different from the previous series, and I loved the contrast. It was seeing things from the other side, basically.

Opal is reckless. When she reveals things about her past, she seems more calculating but considering she’s had months of bad luck, that may have a part to play. When someone is backed into a corner, they aren’t always logical. She is fighting for her freedom and is willing to do just about anything to get it. Except, she doesn’t. She has a line, and even when on the other side is the answer to everything, she doesn’t take it. That’s a character quality that I love, possibly because I’m not sure I could do the same.

A potential romantic interest is introduced in the form of another Cleaner named Nic. He’s part machine, and Opal is a bit afraid of him. But he saves her and will probably wind up being a cinnamon roll—another favorite trope.

I liked Minimum Wage Magic, and as soon as I was finished, I jumped into Part-Time Gods. It’s a short series with only three books, but I hope it’s not the last series we see in this universe. Really, Aaron has spent so much time fleshing out this universe, and it’s incredibly interesting. I could read more set here. I love the idea of a universe with books from all kinds of genres being written in it. Not sure if that would actually work, but at the very least, I’d love more books like this one.

4/5

Enjoy the View

Enjoy the View (Moose Springs, Alaska #3)

By:

Sarah Morgenthaler

Blurb:

River Lane’s acting career is tanking fast. Determined to start a new career behind the camera, she’ll will take whatever job she can get, including filming a documentary about the picturesque town of Moose Springs.

When mountaineer and Moose Springs local Easton Lockett sees a woman walking down the road looking lost, of course he offers to help. The last thing he expects is to interrupt a film shoot and earn River’s wrath. But Easton has an idea to make it up to her: he can take River’s crew up the local hidden gem, Mount Veil. When bad weather strikes, putting the film crew at risk, it takes all of Easton’s skill to get them back down safely…and to keep River in his arms.

Review:

So the Moose Springs, Alaska series is one of my favorite series of the last year. It’s hilarious and sweet. I devoured the first and second books and fought to put off reading the third. Each time I worry that I won’t enjoy the new book as much as the last, and each time I’m given a story as good as the previous.

Enjoy the View is about Easton, the gentle giant of Moose Springs. He’s a mountain climber and tracker. River Lane is a thirty-year-old actress that is trying to make the move to directing. They’re an unlikely pair, but the chemistry is instant.

Initially, River is trying to make a documentary of the town, but we now know the townspeople do not like outsiders. Since her documentary is for the Alaskan Tourism Board, they’re even less welcoming. So she decides to change her focus to the nearby mountain. She loves climbing, so it’s a natural choice.

The closest I’ve come to climbing a mountain is walking up Clingmans Dome in the Smokey Mountains. It is not a passion of mine or anything I ever have any desire to do. Enjoy the View further cemented my opinion of mountain climbing. It sounded beautiful, but there were moments where I was scared for the characters.

You’d think it would be hard to write a romance where the two characters spend most of their time bundled in thick layers of clothing, but it’s a testament to the chemistry between them that they had no problem on that front. I don’t mean they had sex on the mountain. That would be unrealistic. I actually appreciated that Morgenthaler didn’t go that route. I mean that their banter and longing looks were so well presented that it was clear how they felt about each other.

As always, at this point, I’m looking forward to the next story in the Moose Springs, Alaska series.

5/5