Fantasy, New Adult Romance, Paranormal

My Review: Zodiac Academy – The Reckoning (Supernatural Beasts and Bullies #3): by Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti

**Kindle Edition**
Publish Date: October 4th, 2019
Number of Pages: 612 Pages
Publisher: Kindle
Genre(s): New Adult Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal

***Warning! This review contains spoilers from this book and previous books in the series, so continue reading at your own risk! You’ve officially been warned!***

To see my review of book #1 – Zodiac Academy: The Awakening – Click HERE

To see my review of book #2 – Zodiac Academy: Ruthless Fae – Click HERE

To see my Fancast/Dreamcast for the series so far – Click HERE

Total Star Rating: 4.25 Stars

She wasn’t just a girl though. Not to me. She was the one girl I shouldn’t want, the one I couldn’t have, the one I didn’t need. And yet I did. And everything in my life could be damaged so badly by that need that I#d fought it tooth and claw up until this point.

– Caroline Peckham & Susanne Valenti, “Zodiac Academy: The Reckoning”

What It’s About:

The official blurb:

The answer to your question will be revealed on the Lunar Eclipse.But when finding the truth, don’t let the shadows take you.

The week of The Reckoning has begun. And senior students have been tasked with making the freshmen’s lives pure hell as they prepare to take their fateful assessment.

With the Lunar Eclipse on the horizon, Tory and Darcy have more to worry about than just passing their exams. A dark plot is unfolding and the shadows are drawing closer…

~~~

Okay, by this point when I was reading these books, my entire life outside of work and sleeping and bathing revolved around having my eyes glued to the screen of my kindle reading these books. The romance is really starting to heat up and there’s more danger and excitement and I was just so completely sucked in….

Once again I will say it’s not the heaviest material or really even the greatest written story, although I feel like now that I’m more familiar with all the characters it does feel like the writing has gotten better, but what really keeps me going are all the characters and their relationships amongst each other and the absolutely delicious way the co-authors have weaved them all together: the twins, the heirs, the twins with the heirs, Tory and Darius, Tory and Caleb, Darius and Xavier, Darius and Xavier, Seth and Darcy, Darcy and Orion, Darius and Orion. I’m telling you, the characters and these intertwining relationships are what will absorb all your attention and make you obsessed. At least that’s how it’s been for me!

You start this book immediately after the crazy events of how book #2 ended with that battle in the Pitball stadium with the Nymph’s. Tragedy and violence strikes, but everyone is expected to just quickly move past it and all the trauma associated because they are Fae and they can’t show weakness. It’s easier for some rather than others, but everyone also gets caught up in the major event called The Reckoning. It’s like a big exam/competition to weed out students who aren’t strong enough to stay at Zodiac Academy, and there’s a dangerous task for each element that the students must pass at depending what they are (of course, that means the twins have to do four tasks since they have all four elemental abilities). AND they have to deal with the horrendous week leading up these tasks from the upperclassmen bullying all the freshmen (it’s literally called “Hell Week”).

Like I said, the relationships are really the big highlight of these books for me by this point, and of course I go into more detail further down in my review!

What I Liked:

  1. The Sexual Tension Between Darius and Tory! These two have got to have the slowest burn of a romance that I’ve ever freakin’ read because were three books in and these two haven’t even had a first kiss yet, but oh man, has it gotten scorching between these two! There’s still plenty of banter—both playful and sexy—but there are softer moments between these two that truly prove that they are endgame in this series. Their feelings are so mixed and complex with their obvious mutual attraction but sprinkled with hatred because they’re enemies, and of course the web gets even more intricate with how Caleb and Tory are still FWB’s on the side too…which I’m starting to get over. I like Caleb a lot, but he’s just a big hill to climb over at this point, and I need more romance with Darius and Tory. I loved the race scene, the scene where Tory goes back with Darius to see Xavier, and them on the beach before everything goes to hell!
  2. You Find Out The Twins’ Orders! Obviously I won’t spoil it, but it’s nice to have at least one mystery solved with all the questions that raised about the past and everything surrounding the twins.
  3. Darcy and Orion’s Romance! While Darius and Tory are edging each other on, Orion and Darcy’s romance is in full swing and I love it. I really am a sucker for the assholes who secretly get soft for the one they have feelings for, and I get that in Orion, because he is still such an asshole in public, but flips it off when it’s just him and Darcy. And that smut that I’ve been told I need to wait for?…Let’s just say things are finally getting pretty spicy!
  4. The Bromance Between Darius and Orion! Another interesting relationship that really has nothing to do with Romance, but more platonic male friendship! You honestly don’t see it a whole lot in books nowadays, at least with what I’ve read, and I like their bond a lot. It’s a strange guardian bond that Darius’s father cursed them with, but I love how they make the best of it and even tease each other about when the bond has them embrace or spoon in bed together….yes, these are two straight fae men, one vampire and another dragon-shifter, but they at least can make the best of a bad situation!

~~~

‘Hungover, Miss Vega?’ he growled and she sighed, realising her mistake.

‘Yes, sir. If you fancy sending any of your healing magic this way, that would be swell.

Orion gave her one of his darkest smiles that said he definitely wasn’t her friend right then. ‘Oh I won’t be doing that. If you turn up to my class hungover you can deal with the consequences.’ He shot to her side at a fierce speed and bellowed, ‘CAN’T YOU?!’ in her ear. It even made me flinch, but Tory winced with pure pain.

– Caroline Peckham & Susanne Valenti, “Zodiac Academy: The Reckoning”

~~~

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. Orion’s Jealous Moment…While I do love their romance and what they’ve gone through, there’s the one scene with Orion at the circus that really had me shaking my head like “WTF?!” I can’t explain it for spoilers really, but it seemed really over dramatic and maybe a little manipulative, but then again, it is the fae with these books, and it does match some of the extremities that these characters face at this magical school, much like how the teachers and faculty turn the other way with all the bullying and power-play constantly occurring.
  2. Still Not A Fan of Seth…By now, some people like him, but I still am not a fan of how back and forth he is. With his pack and the other heirs, he’s the sweetest and kindest of them all and just wants everyone to be friends and get along. He’s like a literal human golden retriever, which of course makes sense considering he’s a werewolf. But it just completely flips whenever he’s involved with the twins and suddenly he’s so cruel and calculating and just mean, and this constant 180 with him really rubs me the wrong way…

Conclusion:

Overall, book #3 has to be my favorite by this point with how the relationships have developed by this point in and how the romance has really kicked it up a notch by this point. Both twins have their forbidden romances developing at different speeds, and I’m loving both of them for different reasons, but both make this series so intoxicating and binge-worthy. I know I probably said that in the previous review, but it’s seriously so true!

I’m starting to notice how the co-authors really love to have these books end on really juicy cliffhangers, which I both love and hate at the same time, but either way that means you know I immediately go into the next book after I finished this, with hardly even a bathroom break in between.

Thanks for Reading!

– Nick Goodsell

New Adult Romance, Paranormal, Romance, YA Fantasy, YA romance

My Review: Kingdom of the Wicked (Kingdom of the Wicked #1): by Kerri Maniscalco

Publish Date: October 27th, 2020
Number of Pages: 372 Pages
Publisher: JIMMY Patterson
Genre(s): YA Fantasy, New Adult Romance, YA Romance, Paranormal Romance

Total Star Rating: 3.75 Pages

There are victors and victims. Decide who you want to be. Or the choice will be made for you, witch. And I doubt you’ll like it.

I threw my head back and groaned. ‘It’s a game of scopa, not a battle between life and death. Are you always this dramatic?'”

– Kerri Maniscalco, “Kingdom of the Wicked”

Kingdom of the Wicked was a slow burn of a book for me; the beginning started off like any other YA Fantasy title, but once you get further into the story and discover more and more myth and lore in the world that the author of the Stalking Jack The Ripper series has created, I can really say that the book takes off with a jolt in some witchy delight!

This is actually my first novel by Kerri Maniscalco, and after reading it I can say I’m definitely more and more interested in reading her other series I mentioned above because there are still some familiar themes of murder, mystery, romance, and historical settings to make the reader engaged and wanting to stay up late to see what happens next. What I’m noticing with this newer series, however, is that the author seems to have more room for fun and creativity to take her story even further!

The romance was a huge draw for me, and for the most part, it certainly didn’t disappoint! I easily got into the chemistry that oozed between the two main characters, Emilia and Wrath, and loved their whole dynamic; I never get tired of an enemies-to-lovers dynamic. While both characters weren’t anything brand new or entirely unique to the genre, I can say they’re still fun to read as they argue and (attempt) to ignore their growing attractions for each other as they work together to solve a murder mystery.

It wasn’t a perfect read; The the overall pacing with the chapters and how they’re set up was a little strange for my liking, and some of the ending needs to be clarified for me—or I need to go back and reread it for myself and make sure I pay more attention!

What It’s About:

The official blurb:

Two sisters…

One brutal murder…

A quest for vengeance that will unleash Hell itself…

And an intoxicating romance…

Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria are streghe—witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Vittoria misses dinner service at the family’s renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin… desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to find her sister’s killer and to seek vengeance at any cost—even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.

Then Emilia meets Wrath, one of the Wicked Princes of Hell that she has been warned against in tales since she was a child. Wrath claims to be on Emilia’s side, tasked by his master with solving the series of women’s murders on the island. But when it comes to the Wicked, nothing is as it seems…

‘One day you might beg me to kiss you.’ He stepped close enough for me to stab him.”

– Kerri Maniscalco, “Kingdom of the Wicked”

What I Liked:

  1. The Many Food Descriptions! Several other reviewers pointed this one out, but there are some seriously delicious italian dishes that get mentioned in this book since the main character’s family owns and operates a restaurant. Cannoli’s are amazing, and I had some major cravings for some once I arrived to that part within the story…yum!
  2. The Romance Between Wrath and Emilia! This book is a great addition to the enemies-to-lovers romance trope as Wrath and Emilia have some immediate sexual tension that builds and builds between them as they reluctantly work together to solve the murder of her twin sister. They irritate each other and start verbal lashings from each other, but underneath it all is an obvious attraction that neither can ignore the closer they become. Their dynamic also grew rather realistically as they slowly begin to trust each other—at least until certain things happen—and rely on each other’s strength into a begrudging respect for one another.
  3. The Worldbuilding! I actually liked the class systems of demons the author presented us, there are also the seven demon princes of hell representing the seven deadly sins, the witches living amongst the normal folks and the witch hunters who are secretly members of the church, even werewolves; it’s all mixed together to create an interesting world that may or make this series an incredibly memorable one!
  4. The “Whodunnit” Murder Mystery! I always love a good mystery where the main character is on the hunt for a killer who leaves a bloody trail of bodies behind.

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. The Beginning Felt Very Generic…This book was pretty boring at first and felt like any general YA Fantasy title out there, but once Emilia and Wrath run into each other and meet for the first time, that was when things really begin to take off!
  2. Not Enough Steam…I know this is a YA Fantasy book so the sexual content (a.k.a. smut) is supposed to be very limited, but really do feel like this story would be even better if there were more steamy scenes. I mean like let’s see truly how “wicked” Prince Wrath can be *wink*wink.* Maybe there’ll be more scenes like this in later books, but again, I know it can only go so far within the YA reading level.
  3. The Ending…Okay, so this one may be on me because I maybe wasn’t fully paying close enough attention and missed something, but part of the ending kind of went over my head. For most of the book, it felt like a pretty light read that didn’t require my entire attention, but then all of a sudden SO MUCH was happening at the end and I blinked and missed some vital information I think…if someone sees this review and wants to message me to fully explain it all to me, you’d officially be my favorite person!!
  4. The Short Chapters…Some chapters were only like a page and a half long, and I was wondering to myself why a single conversation was sometimes three whole chapters when it could’ve been just one? It was weird pacing to me and kind of annoying at times…

Conclusion:

This is my first Kerri Maniscalco novel, and this book really does make me interested in reading her Stalking Jack The Ripper series that put her name on the map!

Like the romance between the two main characters in this book, the story was a slow burn that definitely left me interested to keep reading on once the next book arrives later on! It wasn’t the next binge-worthy series for me to become obsessed with, but this book shows that the series has a whole lot of potential to become a huge fan favorite among the many other incredibly popular YA Fantasy series most of us readers know and love!

A reckoning awoke in me. The more I gave, the more he returned. We traded kisses like blows. And if this were a fight, I wouldn’t know who was winning. I understood why some thought kissing one of the Wicked was addictive. Each time his tongue touched mine, it felt as if the ground beneath me quaked. Like we were a cataclysmic event that shouldn’t be.”

– Kerri Maniscalco, “Kingdom of the Wicked”

I recommend this book to those that really enjoyed other titles like Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin or the Folk of the Air trilogy by Holly Black; the dynamic between Wrath and Emilia for sure gave me some impressions of Jude and Cardan with the whole enemies-to-lovers, then back to enemies dynamic!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Fantasy, New Adult Romance, Paranormal, Romance

My Review: A Kingdom of Shadow and Light (Fever #11): by Karen Marie Moning

Publish Date: February 23rd, 2021
Number of Pages: 496 Pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre(s): Fantasy, Paranormal Romance

***WARNING: This review contains spoilers of previous books in the series, so continue reading at your own risk! You’ve officially been warned!***

To see my review of book #1 – Darkfever – Click HERE

To see my review of book #2 – Bloodfever – Click HERE

To see my review of book #3 – Faefever – Click HERE

To see my review of book #4 – Dreamfever – Click HERE

To see my review of book #5 – Shadowfever – Click HERE

To see my review of book #6 – Iced – Click HERE

To see my review of book #7 – Burned – Click HERE

To see my review of book #8 – Feverborn – Click HERE

To see my review of book #9 – Feversong – Click HERE

To see my review of book #10 – High Voltage – Click HERE

To see my Fancast/Dreamcast for the whole series – Click HERE

Total Star Rating: 3.5 Stars

It’s always such a bittersweet moment when you get to the end of a book series that means a whole lot to you and one that you’ve been a big fan of ever since you started it. I haven’t been a fan of the Fever series for as long as some members of the fandom, but I can say that I know that pain that it’s all over; that feeling off being lost and like there’s no longer a presence in your life that you’ve grown used to. What do you do next? What do you read next? Is it better to reread the whole series again or to just begin a new one? This is what some may call a book hangover, and they’re just about as bad as an alcohol-infused one too.

A Kingdom of Shadow and Light was one of my most anticipated books of 2021 (the only others belong to Jennifer L. Armentrout and Sarah J. Maas), and I couldn’t wait to see how Karen Marie Moning was going to end her amazing series! As I kept with the books until the very end, all that’s happened in the story has come back into my mind of when I started book #1, Darkfever: Mac moving to Dublin, meeting Barrons, Darroc, The O’Bannion brothers, Fiona, The Shades, Dreamy Eyed Guy, The Gray Man and Woman, Rowena, the Sinsar-Dubh, the walls coming down, Mallucé, Dancer, the Nine, to Alina coming back to life, to Mac being possessed by the Sinsar-Dubh and eating Jo, and meeting the endgame characters like Dani, Christian, V’lane/Cruce, Ryodan, The Unseelie King, and of course Jericho Barrons. SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED. And now we’re here, it’s the final book….ugh, so many feels!

Upon reading it, either my excitement was getting the best of me or maybe it just wasn’t up to my expectations, but I found myself kind of bored with this book. All the chapters were delving into the minds of whoever’s chapter it was, but by the time I’d reached past page 100, and it felt like hardly anything actually happened… like their chapters were only their inner thoughts filled with recaps and all the questions they had of what was going on, or about sex. They all think about sex a lot, but I’m not really complaining about that since that’s kind of been the tone of the series for quite some time.

Honestly, there’s not a whole lot of things that happened within this book that I was looking forward to, but I go more into all that later on in my review, so I won’t bore you into reading it all twice. What I will show you is my final thoughts on some of the major characters throughout the whole series below:

Mackayla Lane:

What a character… I find it so funny when people gave up on the series too early because they read the first few chapters and decide they can’t stand her and don’t wish to keep reading on. I mean, how do you explain that the Mac at the very beginning and all that she goes through, how much she changes and how much she grows? You can’t, that person just really needs to keep reading and see all that happens for yourself. I see it though, Mackayla Lane wasn’t a great character in the beginning: imagine that stereotypical blonde, bubbly, Elle Woods-esque party girl and that’s all who she was. She’d never really faced any hardships and everything was mindless and easy for her, then the news of her sister’s death rocks her and her family’s whole world apart, but the thing that immediately makes her interesting is the dark vengeance she seeks while her parents stay broken and deep in grief. She’s been through the wringer, I loved how outspoken and strong she became when she (and us readers) got frustrated with V’Lane and Barrons both tugging her along and not sharing any information with her, her relationship with Dani, to her becoming the new Seelie Queen…She’s definitely up there with a lot of the great female heroines of these kinds of stories!

Jericho Barrons:

Karen Moning’s post on the “Moning’s Maniac’s” Facebook page really goes in depth with him as a character, probably more so than anyone else would possibly be able to, but it definitely sheds a whole lot of light of who he is as a character and where he comes from in his personality and overall demeanor when you first meet him. Like Mac, he felt like an incredibly cliché character: the tall, dark, handsome, and brooding masculine figure who’s a potential love interest for the main protagonist. He’s cynical and moody, a textbook example of an Alphahole, and others would say he was even somewhat abusive towards Mac with the mind games he played and the jealousy he showed with Mac and the potential with V’Lane, and he’s most likely someone who has a tragic backstory that left him believing he was too dark to ever find love again…While after reading this series and knowing that it’s kind of true, that doesn’t mean there’s not more to him. As you slowly learn more about him and his past, he becomes so much more fleshed out and three-dimensional. One good thing about him is that he never lost his edge, even as his relationship with Mac changes over the course of the story. He never becomes the dotting, weeping, soft and confessing his love kind of guy to Mac—not that there’s anything wrong with those guys—that’s not who Barrons is. He shows his true feelings through actions and gestures and letting Mac go off and make her own choices while still protecting her when absolutely necessary. He allows her to become a better version of herself, and (eventually) doesn’t alter situations to his liking. They aren’t the perfect couple, but they bring out the best in each other, they know how they both operate, and while it’s not the most romantic love story out in the world, there’s no denying that they’re kind of perfect for each other. I suspected he was the Unseelie King so many times throughout this series too, KMM does totally play with the idea several times, but part of me was still a little put down about the eventual reveal of what kind of creature he is exactly… I was just hoping for something more? Love the character Barrons: he’s a much more complex character than some give him credit for!

Ryodan:

I liked the mystery around Ryodan as we first met him in these books. He was one of the numbers Mac was to call if she was ever alone and in extreme danger, and just like Barrons, he was a total Alphahole. It’s weird, but I hate those kinds of characters and kind of love them at the same time? It’s complicated… but part of me really liked how much of an asshole this guy was at the beginning. I think it’s the antihero character trope that I like surrounding his arc, but he’s incredibly far from our typical Superman-like heroes. Despite their animosity towards each other for most of the books if not all, I really enjoyed the banter between him and Mac. Of course, she gets another alpha male who keeps her out of the loop, reminds her of the danger she’s in, while he’s secretly wondering what Barrons sees in her—c’mon, you know it’s true, especially when they first meet!) His relationship with Dani over the course of the series is… interesting to say the least. It’s certainly not the most orthodox love story in the world of literature, and it was funny/strange/curious to see how torn the fandom was about it ever since the potential for them to end up together started in book #6, Iced. Some would call it disturbing because an ancient being is lusting after and grooming a 14-year-old girl, but their story goes through so many twists and turns that you eventually get used to it? There’s a lot of factors that come into play with it, but what I can say is that once they ended up together I exhaled a deep sigh of relief and uttered “Finally…” I will say, it felt like he was a much different character in book #10, High Voltage, and it wasn’t necessarily a good thing. He felt so much more angsty and pining and moody than he usually is, and even listens to “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus with Dani in the car…there’s more than just that, but it just didn’t feel like a believable shift for him as a character, but that book is so random in general. No worries though, still like him as a character, and his conclusion in this final book is incredibly fitting ac

Dani O’Malley:

I did not really care for her for a good chunk of the series, specifically the first few books. A lot of other fans seemed to be so “TeamDani” or “TeamMega” and I was just not seeing it. To me she was just a bratty teenager who was the Robin to Mac’s Batman, but I will say when we make the startling discovery of her involvement of the murder of Mac’s sister in Shadowfever, I’ll admit that was when my interest began to pique. I was still not sold on her in Iced—the first book that focuses on her as the main protagonist—but she was still continuing to grow on me, but I began to like her once the whole storyline with her and her Jada alter ego came into play. I liked her a whole lot more towards the end of the Fever series, but based on my observation of her two books being my least favorite, I can also say that in my opinion, Dani was not meant to lead these books, that’s Mac. I say it would’ve been better off possibly to make a whole new series revolving around her, but the books work as a unit either way! I can say I didn’t see how Dani’s arc was going to end, I think the whole thing with the hunters is so random, but I like that she eventually ended up with Ryodan, even if the whole journey there was all over the place…

V’Lane/Cruce:

I knew there was something off about V’Lane from the very beginning… I didn’t know what exactly it was, but I knew his loyalty and what side he was on was definitely called into question ever since we met him in the very beginning. He was definitely a more well developed villain than most in a fantasy series, and KMM managed to add some real depth to him as the books still were being published by making him a character with deep daddy issues with the Unseelie King, yet ultimately turning him into a mirror copy of him too. The road to vengeance usually never ends well for the one to travel down its dark path, but Cruce kind of lost himself along the way and became the very thing he hates most in his existence, and that of course is his father. I’ll admit it was the most fun with him when he was still under the disguise of V’lane and there was some mind games/potential love interest with Mac in the first five books with Barrons as his competition. He was fun even past that phase of the whole series, and his mind games became even more sinister and insidious as he visited his enemies/victims in their dreams and delighted in their torment. Overall, he was a fun villain for the series, and it was great to see how he outsmarted Mac and the others over the course of the eleven books!

Christian Mackeltar:

I felt so bad for Christian throughout the whole series, he always seemed to get the short end of the stick with a lot of situations… not having a chance with Mac, getting sucked into another dimension, getting turned into an Unseelie Prince by Mac (on accident), plus probably more but those were the big ones. I understood his anger towards Mac and Barrons and his need to exact his form of justice, but I’m also relieved he didn’t go fully dark on us too and remained a good guy despite being turned into a bad guy’s body…I’m not sure if that makes sense, but I’m rolling with it! I liked him a lot, and I’m glad he gets his own HEA moment in this final book, LORD knows he deserves it!

Lor:

Once he became a more prominent character in book #7, Burned, I quickly grew to like him! Sure, he was a total manwhore, but at least he was upfront about it. Him and Jo had a rather nice dynamic when they were hooking up and I thought they’d make it until the very end, but then Mac freakin’ ate her! I hate when that happens… I wish Lor stayed more prominent in the series, but once his relationship with Jo met a brutal end, he kind of went back into the background, which is disappointing. I really hope KMM considers making a spinoff series with the Nine and he’s right at the forefront where he belongs!

Dancer:

He’s a really conflicting character because I really do like him, but if I can be an asshole for a second, this boy was kind of plot convenience for Dani and her eventual storyline with Ryodan. He was the younger love interest for Dani when she was 14 and Ryodan was wayyyyyyyyyyyy too old for her, and we met him in book #6, Iced, when Dani has distanced herself from Mac but still hunts unseelie fae to protect Dublin. He was adorable and kind of dorky, but him and Dani had a really cute dynamic. Part of me felt bad for him because lets be honest, Dani and Ryodan were obvious endgame since the idea was introduced to us, but so then the question was raised about what would happen to Dancer? Truth hit hard, because once his heart condition was revealed later, I knew he was a goner. I didn’t know when exactly, but no writer reveals a character has a serious medical condition like that and NOT kill them off at some point, but of course it’s after him and Dani make love for the first time…heartbreaking, absolutely heartbreaking. I liked him as a character, but I can’t ignore how his death was a catalyst to help push Dani and Ryodan to be together.

Kat McLaughlin:

I hate to say it, but I just don’t really have an opinion on her. She’s tough, she’s brave, but so are so many other characters… I just didn’t really see much from her that really set her apart other than how she was a great choice to become the new leader of the Sidhe-Seers once Rowena was gone. I found myself really bored with her chapters…

Rowena:

That bitch can choke.

What It’s About:

The official blurb:

MacKayla Lane faces the ultimate threat when war breaks out between the kingdoms of shadow and light, as the #1 New York Times bestselling Fever series races to an explosive revelation.

From the moment MacKayla Lane arrived in Dublin to hunt her sister’s murderer, she’s had to fight one dangerous battle after the next: to survive, to secure power, to keep her city safe, to protect the people she loves.

The matter of who’s good and who’s evil can be decided by the answer to a single question: Whose side are you on?

Now, as High Queen of the Fae, Mac faces her greatest challenge yet: ruling the very race she was born to hunt and kill – a race that wants her dead yesterday, so they can put a pure-blooded Fae queen on the throne.

But challenges with her subjects are the least of her concerns when an ancient, deadly foe resurfaces, changing not only the rules of the game but the very game itself, initiating a catastrophic sequence of events that have devastating consequences and leave Mac questioning everything she’s ever learned and everyone she’s ever loved. Now begins an epic battle between Mortal and Fae, Seelie and Unseelie, would-be kings and would-be queens, with possession of the Unseelie King’s virtually unlimited power and the fate of humanity at stake.

From the exquisite, deadly gardens of the High Queen’s court, to long-forgotten truths found in the Sacred Grove of Creation, from the erotic bed of her enigmatic, powerful lover to the darkest, seductive reaches of the Unseelie kingdom, Mac’s final journey takes her places no human has been before, and only one human could possibly survive…One who’s willing to sacrifice everything.

What I Liked:

  1. Christian Gets A Love Interest! First thing I can say about this is FINALLY! After getting the short end of the stick for basically the entire series, KMM finally threw him a freakin’ bone and allowed him a little bit of happiness to put an end to his whole overall story arc.
  2. Someone Becomes The New Unseelie King! Yes, the floating Shades-like power of the Unseelie King finally makes a decision on who is the best choice to take over, and when you find out it’s such a Duh! moment, like once it happens it’s like such an obvious choice; how did I never even think of that?! As long as you’ve known them in the series, they showed they are more than up to the task!
  3. More Mac & Barrons Romance! So RyodanxDani fans will be disappointed, but once again MacxBarrons are put in the center of this book’s plot even though KMM said their storyline is basically done—yeah, and this series was supposed to end on two separate occasions too—but honestly I’m not complaining because I really enjoy them and their dynamic. It’s changed dramatically since the earliest books and now Barrons even sits back and allows Mac to make her own major decisions and offers his reassurance whenever she needs it, plus reminds her that no matter what choices she makes, he’ll be by her side no matter what. It’s weird because I don’t think he actually ever says the words “I love you” out loud and in that order, but his own words and actions prove it and makes their relationship more deep and meaningful than most of the other relationships I’ve ever read!

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. The Attention on the Seelie Ice Princess… At this point in the series with it being book #11 and the final final book, why would there be so much emphasis on a character like this? I wasn’t sold on it unless KMM plans to maybe have it be a potential new spinoff series she’d work on in the future. She wasn’t a bad character by any means, but why should I care about her and the other Seelie Court royalty and not address other things that have been around in the books for much longer?
  2. Lacking Action… The first chunk of this book was boring. Just being blunt, but too much of it was just all about the introspective mindsets of most of the main characters, and by page 100 I’m like: “…Nothing has actually happened. All they’re doing is recapping everything that’s happened already…” I don’t like it when authors excessively do this… some people like in case it’s been awhile since they’ve read the books, but I know that most readers also usually do rereads before the new book releases, so a little recap is fine, but trust your readers have a better memory than what you’re giving them credit for.
  3. Where were the Old Earth Gods?… Literally nonexistent in this book…So what was the point of bringing them into the series in the previous book? Sure, the big baddie Balor was defeated and killed by Dani, but what about AOZ or the others? They were technically still alive to my knowledge, but just never showed up again? Really disappointed they didn’t make an appearance and have a badass battle amongst the Fae, who are their sworn enemies.
  4. Dani Captured… to add further disappointment to those who are really big fans of this relationship, Dani is captured and is basically separated from the whole group for the whole book! It becomes more significant when you realize why later on in the book, but this also made it so KMM didn’t give us some much needed interactions between her and Lor, her and Ryodan and Shazam, or even her and Kat, and I just find it disappointing we didn’t get these interactions in the book at all.

Conclusion:

Overall, It was a nice way to wrap up the whole dang series, but I feel like the author didn’t put attention in some the right storylines in order to make this book “great” instead of just “good.” I enjoyed the book, especially towards the end, but there was quite a few things left out that I can’t help but be disappointed that it didn’t happen. I kind of want to compare this book to Holly Black’s The Queen of Nothing from her The Folk of the Air trilogy because it has some similar issues: the romance between the two main characters is great and goes incredibly far, the heroine’s relationship with the villain is addressed and shows complexity from it’s timeline through the whole series, but a lot of the interesting side storylines just get pushed to the background or ignored entirely. Not enough factors made it into the final draft in order to make this book as satisfying as we wanted it to be.

I’m someone who only just recently got into this series, at least I got into it a lot later back in December 2019 when this series has been around since, like, 2006? I hope the readers that have been with these books since the very beginning fully enjoyed this final installment.

I can still say this is has been one of my favorite book series in recent memory; the first five books were the major highlight for me for their twisted ways of revealing backstory and lore, and how they’re more cohesive and jump off each other as a stronger unit than the books afterwards. They were more tightly packed and exciting, where the later books up until book #9, Feversong, felt like the author played around with her worldbuilding but couldn’t gain as good of a footing with the plot/major conflict of them as a whole. They’re still worth checking out, but I can’t deny it that there was something magical about the first five books.

Yet another series draws to a close, I’m a mix of emotions as these books have been a large part of my thoughts and interest ever since I started them. They’re for sure going to be taking up room on my personal shelf for quite some time, and I plan to do a huge reread sometime in the future, and I hope you readers have enjoyed the journey along with me and got plenty of entertainment with reading along with me & reading my emotionally driven reviews of each book along the way too.

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Fantasy, New Adult Romance, Paranormal, Romance

My Review: High Voltage (Fever #10): by Karen Marie Moning

***Warning! This review contains spoilers to previous books in the series, so continue reading at your own risk! You’ve officially been warned!***

To see my review of book #1 – Darkfever – Click HERE

To see my review of book #2 – Bloodfever – Click HERE

To see my review of book #3 – Faefever – Click HERE

To see my review of book #4 – Dreamfever – Click HERE

To see my review of book #5 – Shadowfever – Click HERE

To see my review of book #6 – Iced – Click HERE

To see my review of book #7 – Burned – Click HERE

To see my review of book #8 – Feverborn – Click HERE

To see my review of book #9 – Feversong – Click HERE

To see my Fancast/Dreamcast of the series up to this point – Click HERE

Total Star Rating: 3.5 Stars

Yet another crazy installment to what has very quickly been a favorite series of mine, I’m a little bummed that my reaction to it is…less than enthusiastic as it has been with the other books. This was a potential fear of mine going in since I had similar feelings about the other book that had Dani as the main protagonist: Iced. Like that book earlier down the line, I just thought this book wasn’t as exciting and was honestly just a lot more random and weird. I like Dani enough, she’s really grown into a strong character after everything she’s endured, but I guess I’m still just not the biggest fan of her taking center-stage in these books. There are other qualms I had with this book too, but don’t you worry, I have those further down in this review.

I’m not surprised but still disappointed about my fears becoming true with this book, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad book by any means! It still had its high moments, mainly with how her relationship with Ryodan continues to develop and how this series is continuing overall because it’s always hard to say goodbye to a world and cast of characters you care so much for, even if it seems like this series could’ve ended twice now in both Shadowfever and Feversong. I’m still all for the next book: A Kingdom of Shadow and Light and know that Karen Marie Moning won’t let her fans down and that it will be an exhilarating conclusion to these books that have been going on for like 15 years now.

I would say this book’s biggest downfall was that it all mostly felt like setup for that final book to come. It had a lot more filler and hints at the final war several times while giving you just enough to keep you interested in reading on, but I still felt like more could’ve happened to help make this book feel more exciting in itself. You get to see just about every major character at least once in this book, some have bigger storylines going on than others like usual, but this brings me back to my comment about it all just being setup. With the exception of Dani and Ryodan, there wasn’t a whole lot of conclusions or wrap-ups for anyone else, so I’m to expect that all in the eleventh book itself.

What It’s About:

The official blurb:

There is no action without consequence…

Dani O’Malley was nine years old when the delusional, sadistic Rowena transformed her into a ruthless killer. Years later, she’s tough, hardened, yet achingly vulnerable and fiercely compassionate, living alone by her own exacting code. Despite the scars on her body, driven by deeper ones carved into her soul, no one is more committed to protecting Dublin. By day, she ensures the safety of those she rescues, by night she hunts evil, dispensing justice swiftly and without mercy, determined to give those she cares for the peace she has never known.

There is no power without price…

When the Faerie Queen used the dangerously powerful Song of Making to heal the world from the damage done by the Hoar Frost King, catastrophic magic seeped deep into the earth, giving rise to horrifying, unforeseen consequences–and now deadly enemies plot in the darkness, preparing to enslave the human race and unleash an ancient reign of hell on Earth.

There is no future without sacrifice…

With the lethal, immortal Ryodan at her side, armed with the epic Sword of Light, Dani once again battles to save the world but her past comes back to haunt her with a vengeance, demanding an unspeakable price for the power she needs to save the human race and no one—not even Ryodan who’d move the very stars for her—can save her this time… 

What I Liked:

  1. More Mythology Explored! I was curious to see how this book was going to keep the series alive because let’s be honest, KMM could’ve (and kind of did) end this series twice now! It felt like she’s ended the books at both Shadowfever and Feversong (the blurb in the book even said it’s the final installment I’m sure), so what else could possibly happen?! I’ll tell you what: more Irish Mythology, that’s what! KMM has used small chunks of certain stories within as inspiration to her own world-building and adding her own twists to it, and this time she uses another race of beings to stir the pot and add more tension! I won’t go into details past that, you have to read to see what I mean.
  2. Dani and Ryodan’s Relationship! First thing I can say is FIN-AL-LY! These two have been so back and forth in revealing their feelings for each other and all that’s gone down, I’ve been to the point of wanting to shake them and be like “JUST F*CK ALREADY!” (They could both literally kill me in the worst ways if I ever did that, and I can say I was like this once Burned happened for statutory reasons). I’m just happy they can finally, like, be together because talk about being drawn out longer than needed…Sure, I did feel like there wasn’t nearly as much sexual tension as there has been in the previous books; the scene in a previous book where he’s tattooing her and licks her had more heat than anything that happens in this book, but I liked them finally being together at the very least!
  3. Dancer’s Letter! Holy Crap…somehow our lovable little boy genius can take our hearts away even post death because that letter he ended up leaving for Dani HURT. Like, ouch that ached like a mofo right in the chest! Without saying all that it reveals, it certainly shows everyone including Dani herself, not only how much Dancer cared about her but Ryodan too! Man, oh man…read it yourself and try not to get even a little teary eyed afterwards.
  4. Shazam’s Random Twist! Okay to be honest, I’m actually pretty torn about this whole development…I wouldn’t say I love it but I don’t hate it either, the whole thing is just so super random! It’s like, what was the point of all this?…Maybe it was all a part of KMM’s plan to help Dani and Ryodan stay together forever so they can be immortal together too? I really don’t know…
  5. There’s A Lemur! A random little tidbit really, but Mac conjures up one to hang out around one in the bookstore as part of her training to work on her magical abilities, and seeing how pissy Barrons gets about the creature making a mess in the store was just such a random delight!

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. The Writing Style Just Felt Different…Something honestly just felt off about this book, kind of like how I felt about Iced since that’s the other book that centers around Dani more. I don’t know if it’s because I don’t like how KMM tries to sound like a 14 year old in that one then a 22 year old in this one, but it felt a little out of place when compared to the other books with Mac on the forefront. There did seem to be a lot more pop culture references than usual, and maybe that’s the author’s way of being in Dani’s head? Maybe it’s just how with Iced and Burned the overall series plot became more muddled? I’m honestly not sure…
  2. First Chunk Missing Major Characters…Right off the bat it’s revealed that pretty much all the main characters whom anyone who’s stayed with this series up to this point loves by now: Mac, Barrons, Lor and the rest of The Nine, Kat, and even Ryodan all leave and are off to do other things. They all just leave Dani in Dublin, and having that happen right away in the beginning was a major turnoff for me…It’s like when you’re out with your friend group at the bars, and suddenly they all get up to go to the bathroom together, and you’re stuck there alone with one of their random significant others whom you’ve never interacted with up until that point! I like Dani, don’t get me wrong, but she certainly can’t carry my interest through the whole book by herself. This made it hard to want to keep reading on, especially as I’m in a major book slump at the time I’m typing this.
  3. The Plot Is Overall Slower…Like with how the writing just felt off about this book, the plot felt so much slower too. Everyone leaves Dublin to do other things and tasks, and once we even get a sliver of something interesting with a new villain emerging from the shadows, there’s only one scene with them and then that’s it! The boss villain who they work for also didn’t really appear all that much either, and I think this book could’ve been a lot more exciting in that regards.
  4. Ryodan Felt Off…There was so much angst rolling off his wide and sexy shoulders, his time away from Dani in the beginning felt like he’d transformed into a lovesick emo kid who listens to Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” too much in his freetime. Sure, he finally just grows a pair and reveals how deep his feelings for Dani really go, but I felt like the cool, calm, and collected asshole nightclub owner shifted and became a much different character. I’m all for growth and development of a character through a series, this is why I freakin’ love Barrons, but this development for him felt like it wasn’t as successful. His new nickname for her: “Stardust” also felt a little cheesy for me, but I did like the image of him, Dani, and Shazam frollicking around on other planets together in their beast modes. It was still very cheesy, but also at least got a chuckle out of me.
  5. Random Character Death…While I’m glad he’s gone, I thought even this character deserved a bigger death than what he got. He’s able to spread out with thousands of little bodies to spy on whomever he pleases, but having his death only mentioned by a different character in the end felt really anticlimactic…

Conclusion:

Well there’s one more addition to this series, and I gotta say that it’s quite a random addition too. It’s still good, it’s still enjoyable, but it feels like it’s reaching a little bit further by this point in order to stay alive and interesting. Most fans seem to enjoy it, but I’m wondering to myself why I consider it one of the weaker books in the whole series, the other one being Iced? Maybe I’m not as big of a fan of Dani as I like to try and convince myself I am, because those are her two books!

They’re still enjoyable to read, and I am in a bit of a self-diagnosed reading slump at this moment in time in the middle of a really (really) cold winter and still being in a pandemic along with the usual issues with anxiety and depression…but besides all that, I wasn’t up late into the night wanting to see what happens next. I got a glimmer of excite when another race of beings were reawakened with the Song of Making in Feversong and their feud with the Tuathe de Danann (the Fae) is adding fuel to the war that’s to come in the next and final book of the whole series, but it wasn’t explored enough as I’d hoped. It was merely hinted at and was set up for all that’s to come in The Kingdom of Shadow and Light, which I’m glad to say is coming out in just over a week from the date I’m typing this.

I feel like this series has been with me for so much longer than just a little over a year now, but maybe that’s because so much happens and the characters have gone through so much and have grown all alongside it all. I can’t imagine how some fans must feel that the series is drawing to a close after 15 years of being a part of it all! While my reaction to this book was lukewarm, that certainly doesn’t deteriorate my excitement for the next and final book! I will definitely be going to my local B&N to grab a hardcover copy to add to my shelf once I read it.

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Fantasy, New Adult Romance, Paranormal, Romance

My Review: Rhapsodic (The Bargainer #1): by Laura Thalassa

Publish Date: November 15th, 2016

Number of Pages: 326 Pages

Publisher: Lavabrook Publishing Group

Genre(s): Fantasy, Paranormal, New Adult Romance

Total Star Rating: 3.5 Stars

Having the Bargainer’s full attention is like catching a tiger’s eye. All you wanted to do was pet the creature, but as soon as it turns its gaze on you, you realize it’s simply going to tear you apart.”

– Laura Thalassa, “Rhapsodic”

If you’re someone who really enjoys the whole romantic dynamic of stories based on the classical Greek Mythology tale of Hades and Persephone, this is a series you may want to look into! It’s the story of a sweet, bright, innocent, pure young woman who finds herself in an unorthodox romantic story with the Lord/Ruler of a Dark Underworld. Opposites attract, and passions ignite when the lines are tested between what is right and wrong and the big questions are usually “Is the love for real? Will she allow this love to corrupt her and taint her?” It’s a romantic concept that I’ve seen in several other works of fiction:

  • Feyre Archeron & Rhysand in Sarah J Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses series
  • Jenny & Julian in L.J. Smith’s The Forbidden Game series
  • Alina Starkov & The Darkling in Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow & Bone trilogy
  • Bella Swan & Edward Cullen in Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series
  • Isobel & Prince Rook in Margaret Rogerson’s An Enchantment of Ravens (standalone)
  • Poppy Balfour & Casteel Da’Neer in Jennifer Armentrout’s From Blood and Ash series

Heck, you could even say Beauty and the Beast is a retelling of Hades and Persephone! It’s a dynamic a lot of readers like myself never get tired of; it may be done quite a bit, but I will never ever really consider it an annoying cliché.

This book was kind of a highly anticipated read for me after plowing through Jennifer Armentrout’s first two books in her From Blood and Ash series (seriously recommend it if you haven’t read it yet!), and this book was constantly being mentioned across the Facebook groups I’m a part of for JLA’s books, and also for a Sarah J. Maas group too. If two groups are telling me to read this book, odds are I better do it!

After completing this book, I can say I enjoyed it for the most part; it wasn’t as spectacular as I was hoping it’d be, but it was still quite enjoyable to say the least! The writing wasn’t the greatest, it felt very amateurish at times to be completely honest, but that didn’t detract from the story too much. I do wish the author gave other plot aspects other than just the romance more attention, like the world-building and the mystery that’s supposed to drive the plot. However, the romance has to be my favorite part of all, and I’d say Desmond Flynn, a.k.a. “The Bargainer,” is a great choice for you to add to your “Book Boyfriend” list.

The romance that built up between the Desmond and our other main character, Callypso Lillis (Callie for short), developed through two timelines that ran parallel most of the first half of the story, one being in present time while the other took place in the past and shows you key moments between them and their developing relationship. Callie isn’t afraid to say what’s on her mind when she’s older, and isn’t afraid to use her sexuality to get what she wants. Desmond starts off arrogant, crude, cheeky and sarcastic, but as he reveals more and more to Callie as you read further on, you will definitely fall for him like any other tortured dark ruler character; his admission to Callie was by far the strongest scene in the whole book!

And the mountains may rise and fall, and the sun might wither away, and the sea may claim the land and swallow the sky. But you will always be mine. And the stars might fall from the heavens, and night might cloak the earth, but until darkness dies, I will always be yours.”

– Laura Thalassa, “Rhapsodic”

(Yes, slight spoiler, but it makes an even bigger impact when it’s read in full context in the story!)

What It’s About:

The Official Blurb:

Callypso Lillis is a siren with a very big problem, one that stretches up her arm and far into her past. For the last seven years she’s been collecting a bracelet of black beads up her wrist, magical IOUs for favors she’s received. Only death or repayment will fulfill the obligations. Only then will the beads disappear.

Everyone knows that if you need a favor, you go to the Bargainer to make it happen. He’s a man who can get you anything you want… at a price. And everyone knows that sooner or later he always collects.

But for one of his clients, he’s never asked for repayment. Not until now. When Callie finds the fae king of the night in her room, a grin on his lips and a twinkle in his eye, she knows things are about to change. At first it’s just a chaste kiss—a single bead’s worth—and a promise for more.

For the Bargainer, it’s more than just a matter of rekindling an old romance. Something is happening in the Otherworld. Fae warriors are going missing one by one. Only the women are returned, each in a glass casket, a child clutched to their breast. And then there are the whispers among the slaves, whispers of an evil that’s been awoken.

If the Bargainer has any hope to save his people, he’ll need the help of the siren he spurned long ago. Only, his foe has a taste for exotic creatures, and Callie just happens to be one.

What I Liked:

  1. Callie and Des’s Dynamic! Throughout this story, the two main characters/love interests have a really well done relationship that goes through much development in both the scenes in the past and in present time, and it’s very similar to the dynamics of other relationships in literature like Feyre and Rhysand through most of A Court of Mist and Fury and even Poppy and Cas in A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire. There’s some initial distrust because the male has done wrong to the girl, but as they work together and travel together, they grow closer and eventually give into their feelings for each other, but (yay), there’s plenty of snappy and sexy banter along the way too!
  2. The Whole “Bargain” Concept! I did find this whole concept to be more interesting than a lot of the rest of it. Over time, Callie has an arm long bracelet that has over 300 beads of all the deals she owes The Bargainer at some point. The author could’ve played with the idea more and had more wicked fun with Des teasing her or making her do some pretty risque actions or even confess some more juicy secrets, but I feel like that would also reach into him compelling her against her will, which I bet wouldn’t sit well with a lot of readers, so there’s that…I’m not sure this concept will really carry over as much into the next books based on how this one developed, but we’ll see!
  3. The Romance Development! It’s what got the most attention from the author, so at least it’s safe to say that it was probably the best part of the whole book! It developed with The Bargainer being summoned by her when she’s a teenager, to when she’s a young woman in college, and to now when she’s a PI in Los Angeles. He sees her in all the biggest parts of her life: the young/naive victim, the angsty young woman, and the brash and courageous siren she becomes later on. As they grow closer, the chemistry boils over and they can’t help but act upon their hidden fantasies, and without spoiling it, the scene where they confess their true feelings will definitely tug at your heartstrings!

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. The Writing Style…I’m not gonna lie, the writing felt quite amateurish throughout this book. A lot of adverbs were used that bothered even me, and that was the main thing that stuck out, but it felt like I was reading someone’s ACOTAR fanfic off AO3 that somehow got published.
  2. The Mystery Felt Underdeveloped…The big inciting incident is Callie discovering that in Des’s world, bodies of women are being returned in glass coffins and in comas with a child cuddled up next to them, and that there’s a mysterious, shadowy figure who may or may not be on the hunt for her, but I feel like this whole mystery was really not given all that much attention to the actual plot. The author made it way too easy to figure out and didn’t really excite me all that much or keep me guessing, too much focus was on the romance.
  3. The Worldbuilding Is Also Lacking…During one of Des’s and Callie’s conversations, he talks in detail about the world of the Fae, which to give the author credit, sounds actually pretty intriguing with some more original sounding courts! Unfortunately, That’s about it as far as how much you actually see of it. Take this with a grain of salt though, A Court of Thorns and Roses was the exact same way where there was a LOT more world-building in the second book!
  4. Where Did The Sidekick Go?…Callie has a BFF/business partner named Temper, who’s an incredibly powerful witch. First, she’s the typical POC sidekick we’ve seen so many times before. Second, she’s only in the book, like, twice it feels like and shows up more often in the form of a phone call whenever Callie needs advice or just to vent to someone. Third, the author constantly mentions how powerful and how dangerous she is, but we never actually see her doing anything! Wasted opportunity there, I seriously hope she becomes more prominent in the next books.

Conclusion:

Overall, I by no means think this is a perfect book, but it’s definitely a great addition for anyone to consider adding it to their “To Read” shelf if they love the concept of what I recognize as the Hades/Persephone love story dynamic. It’s seen in a lot of Fantasy and Paranormal Romance stories: my examples once again are Feyre and Rhysand from Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses series, Casteel and Poppy from Jennifer L. Armentrout’s newest series, From Blood and Ash, and even a little similar to Mac and Barrons from Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series. If you’re a fan of any of those titles, this book will definitely appeal to you!

The romance is purely the only thing keeping me interested in going on with these books, so my fingers are crossed that the author gives more attention to OTHER aspects of her story that she didn’t this first time around: the world-building, her minor characters, and even adding more to the main conflict.

I for sure plan on reading the next books down the line, but I wouldn’t say I’m salivating over how soon I can get my hands on the next title either, I’d say I’m lukewarm-on-the-verge of being curious. There wasn’t too much of a cliffhanger ending—thank god—so I’ll probably be exploring other stories before I choose to get into the second book of The Bargainer series, but be on the lookout for my review of that to pop up on here soon!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell