Book Review: Bittersweet by Sabrina Bowen

Bittersweet by Sabrina Bowen

Series: True North #1

Published: June 14, 2016

Rating: 3/5

Romanceopoly 2020: Farmers Market

Goodreads

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the orchard.

The last person Griffin Shipley expects to find stuck in a ditch on his Vermont country road is his ex-hookup. Five years ago they’d shared a couple of steamy nights together. But that was a lifetime ago.

At twenty-seven, Griff is now the accidental patriarch of his family farm. Even his enormous shoulders feel the strain of supporting his mother, three siblings and a dotty grandfather. He doesn’t have time for the sorority girl who’s shown up expecting to buy his harvest at half price.

Vermont was never in Audrey Kidder’s travel plans. Neither was Griff Shipley. But she needs a second chance with the restaurant conglomerate employing her. Okay—a fifth chance. And no self-righteous lumbersexual farmer will stand in her way.

They’re adversaries. They want entirely different things from life. Too bad their sexual chemistry is as hot as Audrey’s top secret enchilada sauce, and then some.

I first came upon Sabrina Bowen last year when I fell in love with the Him series she cowrote with Elle Kennedy. Because Farmer romances aren’t my normal reading fare and I needed to meet the requirement for my romanceopoly pick, I felt that Bittersweet was the perfect introduction into her other works.

While there were aspects about this book that I really liked, the main character wasn’t one of them. Audrey seemed very out there (who goes to a farm dressed in heels and a mini skirt multiple times before trying to get more suited clothing?!?!) I appreciated that she was driven and wanted to achieve her goals of one day being a chef/owner of her own restaurant. However, we never get to see those goals come to fruition in this installment (it is a series, so perhaps there are glimpses later on when exploring the other characters). While Griff seemed very willing to support her and compromise on traveling etc. to see her, she didn’t seem as willing to compromise for him – but maybe I’m reading too far into it, because Griff isn’t a perfect decision maker either.

Griffin is definitely a hotty though, and one that is willing to do anything to put his family first, even put his own happiness on the line. He was the one that I felt the most for emotionally throughout the whole book, and was one hot farmer hero.

When reading the synopsis of the book, it can be assumed that a large part of the tension going into this relationship is a “love lost” kind of story, with the characters previously knowing each other from college. I felt that this was kind of underdeveloped as its only mentioned a handful of times, plus how can there be loads of tension when you only know a person in the biblical sense?

While most of the conflict was resolved by the end of the book, I still felt there was something lacking from giving me a satisfying ending. I’m not sure if I would like to continue the series, but I suppose that time will tell if I pick up the next one, following a side character in this novel.

Book Review: Trickery by Jaymin Eve and Jane Washington

Trickery by Jaymin Eve and Jane Washington

Series: Curse of the Gods #1

Published: Febraury 28, 2017

Rating: 3/5

Willa Knight: Dweller. Slave. Non-magical being.

In Minatsol, being a dweller means that you are literally no better than dirt. In fact, dirt might actually be more useful than Willa. Her life will be one of servitude to the sols, the magic-blessed beings who could one day be chosen to become gods.

At least her outer village is far removed from the cities of the sols, and she won’t ever be forced to present herself to them… Until one small mistake changes everything, and Willa is awarded a position to serve at Blesswood, the top sol academy in the world—a position that she definitely did not earn.

Under the sudden, watchful eye of the gods, she will be tasked to serve the Abcurse brothers, five sols built of arrogance, perfection and power. They are almost gods themselves, and under their service she is either going to end up sentenced to death, or else they are going to ruin her so badly that she will wish for it.

Either way, she is in trouble.

My first thought upon finishing this book was: what the hell did I just read? It’s been a while since I had this feeling – probably not since I read a more copious amount of 0.99 kindle romances in high school, which makes sense considering this book was free with kindle unlimited. (Not that I am disparaging the quality of kindle unlimited books because some of them are NYT worthy in my opinion.)

I read this book because it popped up on my goodreads suggested and I was intrigued by the idea of a reverse harem. I feel like this is a bit mismarketed for that reason because while there is hints of the romance that may come in later books, it reads mainly like a young adult novel with a really ditzy heroine who is experiencing sexual urges.

The world of sols and gods and dwellers is something straight out of any fantasy novel I’d love to read, but the heroine kind of took away some of my interest in the world and in my novel.

Willa is a bit of a Mary Sue, constantly getting into strange predicaments and being obscenely “clumsy” (you know, the trip-over-a-flat surface type). Somehow, despite putting herself in constant danger she is able to draw the attention of the hottest brothers around who decide she is under their protection. This seems like the perfect romantic setup, but…nothing really happens in this book. Willa constantly finds herself in “naked situations” where she somehow ends up undressed and oh god she wants to kiss them, but nothing ever comes of it. In fact, in reading the reviews and synopses for the other books in the series, it seems nothing really begins to happen romantically until book 3.

While I did rate this book 3 stars – mainly for the Abcurse brothers who made this story actually interesting – I do need to note that I had to DNF the second book in this series because it is just. so. freaking. stupid. Willa makes some really, really idiotic decisions and has such a whiney voice I just could not force myself to continue. It was a shame because the world that the authors built was really interesting and had a lot of promise.

Normally this is where I’d add an addendum of “if I was younger I’d like this,” but I honestly don’t think I would have then either. The tone of the book is just such a strange mix of explicit sexuality and young foolishness. If you’re looking for a quick and addicting ya-feeling-(is it even a) romance read that is free with kindle unlimited, you may enjoy this, but I can’t say I recommend anyone spends money on this series.

Book Review: On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves

On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves

Published: June 7, 2012

Rating: 4/5

Anna Emerson is a thirty-year-old English teacher desperately in need of adventure. Worn down by the cold Chicago winters and a relationship that’s going nowhere, she jumps at the chance to spend the summer on a tropical island tutoring sixteen-year-old T.J.

T.J. Callahan has no desire to go anywhere. His cancer is in remission and he wants to get back to his normal life. But his parents are insisting he spend the summer in the Maldives catching up on all the school he missed last year.

Anna and T.J. board a private plane headed to the Callahan’s summer home, and as they fly over the Maldives’ twelve hundred islands, the unthinkable happens. Their plane crashes in shark-infested waters. They make it to shore, but soon discover that they’re stranded on an uninhabited island.

At first, their only thought is survival. But as the days turn to weeks, and then months, the castaways encounter plenty of other obstacles, including violent tropical storms, the many dangers lurking in the sea, and the possibility that T.J.’s cancer could return. As T.J. celebrates yet another birthday on the island, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man.

This book first came on my radar because of a post on bookstagram. Admittedly, its not one that I would typically pick up for myself as I’m not a huge fan of reading age gap romances, but I am glad I did. I felt that this romance was very well done, with a lot of the emphasis on survival at first and a romance that develops naturally.

I believed the development of both characters was believable, and that both of them were likeable and made understandable decisions. This may sound like I’m setting the bar pretty low, but I’ve had some…interesting last couple of reads.

The romance is sweet and takes time to develop, and the sex scenes aren’t overwhelming or over-the-top. The only thing that really had me raising my eyebrows in this book was the fact that they were able to survive so long on a tiny island with limited resources. The protagonists were a little more than lucky more than a few times, so if you’re looking for realistic survival tips mixed in with your romance look elsewhere.

This book was actually going to be my first read for #Romanceopoly 2020 (and still is going to be, I guess I just started a bit early lol). I picked it up to read the first few pages and see if its something I would actually enjoy, and ended up finishing it in one afternoon. So I would say it is definitely un-putdownable and would recommend it to anyone looking for a quick read!

Review: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

Series: All Souls Trilogy #2

Rating: 3/5

Goodreads

***Spoilers ahead for Book 1, A Discovery of Witches ***

Diana and Matthew time-travel to Elizabethan London and are plunged into a world of spies, magic, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the School of Night. As the search for Ashmole 782 deepens and Diana searches for a witch to tutor her in magic, the net of Matthew’s past tightens around them, and they embark on a very different—and vastly more dangerous—journey.

This book, above all other things, reads as the author’s love letter to Elizabethean Europe.

While it was truly interesting learning about a lot of these places in this time period, I’m the type of person that has to stop and google any names that seem significant to find out why they’re important. I will say this contributed to my learning a lot more about Elizabethean figures and politics than I knew before, but it also probably tripled the amount of time it took to read the book. For this reason, I often found my attention drifting when sitting down to read and I had to take a break after getting about 1/3 of the way in because I just had no desire to continue. Ultimately, I am glad that I picked it back up.

This book is more…steamy than book 1, but a lot of the sex scenes have some hella awkward dialogue in them that had my snapchatting my buddy-reader to share secondhand embarrassment. There were some touching moments as well which gave a glimpse of what the future holds for Diana and Matthew. Matthew’s controlling tendencies are in full blast during the events of this novel. I’m more inclined to go along with the fantasy setting and fantasy man (cause Lord knows I would never put up with this type of behavior in real life), but it does get on some peoples nerves i.e. my aforementioned buddy reader.

Despite the length of this book (nearly 600 pages) I feel like nothing SIGNIFICANT really happened. Yes, there were some big lifestyle changes for the main characters, but no major revelations with Ashmole 782 or the origin of supernatural species occurred that justified the length to me.

I’m still holding out hope that the conclusion of the series will draw me in like A Discovery of Witches, but some of the review I’ve read are making me a little hesitant to start it.

Book Review: Soul in Darkness by Wendy Higgins

Soul in Darkness by Wendy Higgins

Published: February 12, 2019

Rating: 3/5

Goodreads

People travel from afar to the small isle in the Aegean Sea hoping for a single glimpse of Princess Psyche. Their adoration for the mortal woman is so all-consuming that citizens begin to shower her with the very gifts and offerings they once left at the alter of Venus, goddess of love and beauty.

But gods are known for their jealousy.

Cupid, the god of love, takes pleasure in causing strife and mischief in the lives of humans. He uses love as a weapon, humoring in the weakness of people at the whims of their feelings. When his mother Venus approaches him about punishing the human girl who dares to steal her offerings and affections from the people, Cupid gladly accepts.

Even though I consider myself a fan of Greek mythology, I was previously unaware of Cupid and Psyche’s myth or its relationship to the story East of the Sun and West of the Moon.

The author stated the book was initially meant as a YA crossover before she chose to make it an adult romance, and it was apparent throughout the novel. This was part of the reason that I ended up finding the explicit sex scenes throughout a bit jarring at times.

Pieces of it read very much YA, with Psyche acting like a typical 17/18 year old young adult novel protagonist which caused a bit of a clash with Cupid’s character. Cupid is often portrayed as overtly sexual, sometimes coercing affection out of Psyche at the beginning of their relationship. This makes the beginning of their “love” story seem a bit one sided, although they do reconcile and seem a good fit by the end.

The beginning half of the book is focused on the building relationship between Cupid and Psyche. This drags on for just a bit too long, causing a bit of a slump around the middle. I considered putting it down around this point, but am ultimately glad I continued because the pace picks up in the latter half of the book.

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Check out the book on Goodreads.

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.

I’m so glad that Book of the Month introduced me to this great book! I probably would never have picked it up on my own – and I’m so glad that I did!

Gods of Jade and Shadow reads like a myth in the best way – introducing the reader to a timeless story full of mini parables and insights. I loved that this book read like a living myth. I can see how the writing style is not for everyone – like many myths it can seem a little disjointed at times, however this just added to the story for me.

Although this book is marketed as a 1920’s Mexican Cinderella, I feel that the overall story is timeless. Learning about some Mayan mythology was very interesting as they aren’t stories that I have lots of exposure to.

The main character, Cassiopeia went through a lot of growth throughout the story and it was so wonderful seeing her evolve and change. She can be a little dry at times but neither one of the characters got on my nerves which is something I can’t say about a lot of books I’ve been reading lately. Hun Kame of course helped her along her journey, and he was just the type of brooding hunky guy that gets my heart racing.

Overall a very enjoyable book, possibly one of my favorites of the year!

Rating: 5/5

Review: The Burning Shadow

The Burning Shadow by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Series: Origin #2

Published: October 8, 2019

Summary: When Evelyn Dasher crossed paths with Luc, she was thrown headfirst into the world of the Lux—only to discover that she was already far more involved in their world than she ever suspected…

I’m a huge fan of the Lux series, so it should be no surprise that love has transferred to the spin-off.

The Burning Shadow picks up right where The Darkest Star left off, with Evie still processing the attack by an origin and the shake up of her world. The beginning of this one was a little slow for me. It picks up right where The Darkest Star left off, and the first 40% is mainly spent with Evie ruminating in self doubt about her identity. It’s not until this mark that the main “conflict” of this book is revealed, but after it is it’s nearly impossible to put down!

This books is pretty graphic and bloody and I loved every second of it. I feel like Armentrout knew that many of the readers would be original readers of the Lux series and aged up the content to match more of a New Adult audience. There were some pretty shocking deaths and revelations (hello, massive cliff hanger!) and I’m excited to see how the story will change because of them. I read somewhere that this series is projected to go on for about five books and I’m not entirely sure how thats going to happen with the current storyline – unless we get a Lux series 2.0 situation with the end of the world.

Definitely a book and series that I recommend – although some of the reunions and world-building will be better understood if you read the Lux series first! I’ll be anxiously awaiting the next installment!

Rating: 4/5 Dark Stars ****