Review: With Everything I Am (The Three, #2), by Kristen Ashley

With Everything I Am (The Three, #2)With Everything I Am by Kristen Ashley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The second book in Kristen Ashley’s ‘The Three’ series, ‘With Everything I Am’ tells the story of Callum and Sonia. Callum, the King of Werewolves, meets his mate when she is a young girl. Although their initial interaction was brief, Callum was never far from Sonia’s mind.

Since she was a young girl, Sonia has dreamed about the wolf she “adopted” as a young girl. After the death of her parents, she is taken in by a family friend. Eventually her family’s cabin and “her wolf” remain only in her dreams.

When Sonia is attacked, Callum is forced to claim his mate earlier than he had intended. The threat to her safety has made it imperative that Callum step in. He no longer has time for the prolonged “human” courtship that he had planned for Sonia.

Unaware of the existence of supernatural beings, Sonia dismisses everything Callum does as the actions of a madman. Clearly, he is unhinged and completely delusional. Initially thinking that she’s been kidnapped for ransom, she soon decides that Callum is the leader of some fanatical cult instead. This made for some pretty comical situations as Callum tries to win Sonia over.

As Sonia comes to terms with the existence of werewolves and other supernatural beings, she slowly comes to question her own special abilities. Sonia has always had extremely heightened senses, but never knew the cause. Furthermore, she suffers from a debilitating illness that she must take daily injections to manage or risk suffering tremendously.

This book was definitely a slow-burn, as is typical of a Kristen Ashley book. At times, I found myself wondering if the storyline would ever progress. Similar to the first book, Callum was not upfront with Sonia about the prophecy and what she meant to him.

Eventually, everything between Callum and Sonia works itself out. Now two of the three prophesied couples have connected. Things are heating up and it is clear that war is on the horizon.

After finishing ‘With Everything I Am’, I was anxious to meet the third couple and see what Ms. Ashley has in store for these supernatural warriors. I am sure that the third book will prove to be much more action-oriented and dangerous. I cannot wait for Lucien’s father to get what he has coming.

Overall, this was a great story. It was a little slow at times, but the characters and storyline were well-developed and engaging. I enjoyed Sonia’s quirky personality and sense of humor quite a bit. I will definitely be continuing this series.

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Review: Until the Sun Falls from the Sky (The Three, #1), by Kristen Ashley

Until the Sun Falls from the Sky (The Three, #1)Until the Sun Falls from the Sky by Kristen Ashley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It has been a while since I read a vampire story, but ‘Until the Sun Falls from the Sky’ was just what I needed. This story puts a different spin on the “vampire and human fall in love” trope. This one took a little time to warm up to, but in the end it was well worth it.

In Kristen Ashley’s ‘The Three’ series, human and supernatural beings have coexisted for centuries. A war fought centuries earlier resulted in some rules to keep vampires in check and to keep both species alive. This has helped to maintain the balance of power and to keep vampires from hunting the humans to extinction.

Willing families have served as “concubines” for the vampires. When the children of the concubines come of age, they attend a gathering known as the Selection, where they are selected by a vampire to serve on a contractual basis. While serving their vampire, they are receive lavish gifts and attention. Even after their time of service is finished, the vampire continues to provide for their former concubine for the entirety of their life. The concubine provides sustenance to the vampire and companionship.

Leah Buchanan was born into a family of concubines. Her lineage included some of the most desired concubines in history. She was raised to believe that service to the vampire race is to be honored and even enjoyed, but Leah has no interest in ever fulfilling her predestined concubine role.

When Leah is finally unable to avoid attending a Selection, she goes begrudgingly. Whispers of a powerful vampire, Lucien, make her nervous. It seems that the mysterious Lucien has been waiting for Leah. She doesn’t know anything about Lucien, except she senses that he is a vampire that even other vampires fear.

As expected, Leah is selected by Lucien. Right from the start, he commandeers Leah’s life. The contract is altered and Leah is not offered the opportunity to decline to be Lucien’s concubine. It is clear that Lucien is willing to do anything to have Leah as his and is willing to break any rule to have her. She doesn’t stand a chance.

With every opportunity that she has, Leah defies Lucien. She is unaccustomed to the highhanded, domineering ways of this powerful vampire. Although he tries to be patient with Leah, his actions proved to be incredibly frustrating on more than one occasion. Lucien was definitely not an easy character to like. He had as much to learn about human ways as Leah did about the vampire world.

Eventually, Leah and Lucien manage to get on the same page. However, insecurities plague Leah and Lucien unwittingly adds to her insecurities with his reckless actions. Every time that I thought they were going to get things straightened out, something else would happen.

Meanwhile, there is war brewing in the background. It is clear that Lucien is getting ready to lead some sort of rebellion and that he is tired of abiding by the rules that were set in place following the last war. Leah’s role in this rebellion is largely unclear, but what is known is that she will be an integral player.

This is the first book in “The Three” series and I will definitely be continuing on to the next books. The following books are expected to focus on two other couples with different paranormal abilities. I am very interested to see where this will lead.

If you enjoy paranormal romances with over-the-top Alpha males, then this is a good choice. If you can’t tolerate a leading male that is a huge jerk for much of the story, acting in a callous and dominating manner, then this will not be a good choice. Personally, I have a weak spot for a$$holes, so this worked out splendidly for me. However, Lucien is a character that will make many readers cringe and want to throw their book/Kindle against a wall.

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Review: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1), by Amie Kaufman

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)Illuminae by Amie Kaufman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow! This book certainly took me by surprise. I’m still digesting exactly what transpired in this book.

‘Illuminae’ was unlike anything that I’ve read before. For starters, I’m not a big Science Fiction fan. However, this story had a strong romance element and so it managed to draw me in and hold my attention. That being said, I was definitely stepping out of my comfort zone with this book.

The writing style was also very unique. The story is told through the transcripts of recordings, e-mails and other communications between various characters. Admittedly, this style took me quite a while to get used to. Yet, once I adjusted to this unique perspective, I was completely hooked on this story.

‘Illuminae’ tells the story of battling mega-corporations in the future. They are fighting over a speck of a planet at the edge of the universe, with little regard for the lives of the people that are caught in the crosshairs.

Kady Grant and Ezra Mason are two of those people. High school sweethearts, the two had just broken up the morning that their worlds would be turned upside down. They find themselves under attack and fighting for survival.

In the wake of the attack, the world that they knew is changed irrevocably. A virus has broken out amongst the survivors, turning friends and neighbors into murdering zombies. Kady and Ezra are separated, but work together to try and save everyone.

As the story progressed, there were plenty of twists and turns. Every time that I thought I had everything figured out, the story would turn in a completely different direction. It definitely kept me on the edge of my seat.

It did take me a little longer to get into this story, but once I did, it had me completely focused. I even found myself liking AIDAN, the ship’s artificial intelligence that was arguably a “bad guy” for much of the book. This book ended up being surprisingly good for me.

I listened to the Audible edition and I have to give kudos to the narrators. They did a fantastic job of keeping this story engaging and keeping the multiple characters straight. This was a great audiobook selection.

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Review: Caraval (Caraval, #1), by Stephanie Garber

Caraval (Caraval, #1)Caraval by Stephanie Garber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a surprisingly captivating world Stephanie Garber has created in ‘Caraval’! I listened to the Audible version of this book and I was mesmerized by the beautiful and vivid imagery that ‘Caraval’ contained. I was drawn in by the world that Ms. Garber created and it held my attention right to the very end.

Every once in a while, I love a great paranormal romance. I love to leave reality behind and take off on a journey to a place where magic and fairytales exist. This was the perfect story to do just that.

Scarlett, aka “Crimson”, and her sister Tella have lived under the oppressive rule of their father. His cruelty seems to know no bounds and he takes satisfaction in tormenting his daughters. Knowing how close the girls are to one another, he uses their love against them. When one of his daughters breaks a rule, it is the other one that will receive the punishment.

Awaiting her arranged marriage to a Count that she’s never met before, Scarlett is just biding her time until she can get away from her sadistic father. She’s literally counting down the weeks until she will be married and can take her sister with her to her new home. Unlike Scarlett, Tella is skeptical of the mysterious fiancé that seems to say all of the right things but whose identity remains shrouded in mystery.

Before Scarlett can be married off, she receives an invitation from Legend, the famous mastermind behind the Caraval. Despite writing to Legend ever since she was a young child, Scarlett has never received a response before. Now, with the clock counting down to her wedding, it seems like fate that she would receive her first ever response and an invitation to participate in the Caraval.

With the support of her sister, Scarlett sets off for the mysterious island where Legend has indicated that the Caraval is taking place. Along with Tella, she sets sail with Julian, a young sailor, to participate in the forbidden game. Both sisters know that they are risking their lives by sneaking off against their father’s wishes. However, they are willing to take their chances in order to seize a once in a lifetime opportunity.

From that point forward, the girls are caught up in a magical and dangerous world. Appearances are not what they seem and even time moves differently in this new world. Caraval is a game where the stakes are very high and not everyone will come out alive or unscathed.

I don’t want to give anything away or ruin the surprise for others. There were many twists and turns that I didn’t see coming while listening to this story. Just when I thought I had everything figured out, something else would happen that made me question everything again. This story held my attention and kept me guessing right to the very end.

If you like adventure/fantasy/paranormal stories with plenty of twists and turns, this is a great choice. There is some romance, but it took a back seat to the magical world of Caraval. For me, the adventure and mystery of Caraval reigned supreme. Of course, there is a love story weaved into this fantastical story as well. Just, don’t plan on a super-smutty type of story where the focus on the romance is paramount.

All in all, I thought that this was a wonderful story. I was enchanted by the world that Ms. Garber created and cannot wait to read the next installment. This book filled my head with some beautiful and vibrant imagery that will hang with me for quite some time. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a paranormal/fantasy/adventure to read. It was fantastic!

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Review: Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4), by Sarah J. Maas

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4)Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

With every one of these books, I’ve been amazed with the evolution of the characters and storyline. ‘Queen of Shadows’ has upped the ante for this already incredible series. While the third book in the ‘Throne of Glass’ series might have had Celaena tentatively exploring her royal heritage, this fourth book has her finally embracing her queenly role. She doesn’t do anything small, and the same can be said for her transformation from assassin to long-lost Queen Aelin.

However, Celaena isn’t the only character that undergoes a drastic transformation. Chaol morphs into a completely different person, becoming mostly despicable for the greater part of this story. Dorian is also fighting against the demon within him, becoming a bystander to his body’s own actions. Celaena’s childhood rival, Lysaendra, also proves to be an unexpected ally. It seems that everyone is changing.

This book shows major shifts in power and foretells of the great war to come. Supernatural beings return to the forefront. A great king’s dynasty falls. Past wrongs are avenged.

With everything going on, Aelin still has time to find a new love interest. As much as I love this story, I have to admit that this is my biggest gripe. She changes her men out more often than she changes her underwear! After a while, it becomes hard to believe that any of her romantic entanglements are sincere. There’s already been Sam, Dorian, Chaol and now Rowan…and the series isn’t finished yet!

Despite her rapidly changing love interests, I still am completely enthralled with this story. It is far heavier on the action/adventure side than my usual reads, but I’m enjoying the change of pace. I am completely hooked on this series and cannot wait to see where the next installment will take me.

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Review: Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass, #3), by Sarah J. Maas

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass, #3)Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just love this series! Each book proves to be better than the last. This book was packed with action and adventure. There is never a dull moment while reading this story!

More so than the earlier books, this one focuses on Celaena’s story. She is forced to face the past that has haunted her for years and the magic within herself that she fears. There is no hiding from who she is any longer.

Along the way, she forms new friendships and comes to terms with her destiny. No longer content to hide from her true self, she prepares to take a stand. Finally, her people have their queen back.

I cannot wait to see what the next book in this series has in store for me! I am completely addicted to this saga. With each chapter, the story grows more complex, but I cannot get enough! Love it!

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Review: Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2), by Sarah J. Maas

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2)Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Like the first book, ‘Crown of Midnight’ proves to be an action-packed, addicting, thrill ride. Having won the king’s competition, our favorite femme fatale has begun her work as the king’s assassin. However, she’s got a trick or two up her sleeve.

As this story progresses, Celaena delves deeper into the forbidden histories of the people that the king has conquered. Knowledge is power and she intends to get to the bottom of the bizarre, magical happenings around the castle. She discovers timeless secrets and underground alliances working to win freedom for the thousands of oppressed people under the king’s rule.

Meanwhile, relationships are changed drastically. Distancing herself from Dorian, Celaena and Chaol grow closer. A series of betrayals rocks Celaena to her core and causes her to doubt everything and everyone.

More truths are revealed, as Caelena digs deeper into the mysteries around the palace. Supernatural forces come to light. Celaena and Dorian each have powers that are revealed. The truth about Celaena’s heritage is also shared at last, greatly changing the dynamics of this story.

Overall, I loved this story. It continues to hold my attention and keep me on the edge of my seat. I will definitely be continuing this series.

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Review: Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1), by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I listened to the Audible version of this book and it was fantastic! I loved every minute! Take a badass femme fatale, add in a brutal competition, and you’ve got a gripping story. On top of that, our heroine has two powerful, sexy men enamored with her.

The first book in the series, ‘Throne of Glass’ definitely pulls you in and leaves you wanting more. So much remains a mystery, despite the revelations that were made. I am hoping that this series will show an end to the King’s tyrannical reign and further exploration of the paranormal elements.

I am definitely intrigued and have already started the second book in this series. Sarah J. Maas has gained another fan!

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Review: The Assassin’s Blade (Throne of Glass, #0.1 – 0.5), by Sarah J. Maas

The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass, #0.1-0.5)The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I absolutely loved these prequels to the ‘Throne of Glass’ series. Taking place during Celaena’s years as an elite assassin working for her master, Arobynn, this grouping of prequels sheds a lot of light on the events that molded Celaena into the woman we met in ‘Throne of Glass’. It is no wonder that she avoids relationships and entanglements. Her story was heartbreaking!

Celaena spends her time trying to run from a past that haunts her, while simultaneously trying to gain the love and approval she lost when her parents were brutally murdered. Yet, despite her desperate need to feel loved, she is uncompromising in her values and sense of morality. This is probably my favorite thing about Celaena. She stands up for what she believes is right.

Perhaps it is fitting, then, that it is her steely resolve that brings about her downfall. When she goes against her master, refusing to participate in his slave trade dealings, she sets off a chain of events that will bring her to her knees. Her brave actions may have solidified her unlikely alliance with Sam, a fellow assassin, but those same actions sealed her fate. By the time this chapter of her story unfolds, she will have lost the man she loved and her freedom.

While I knew how this chapter of her story would end up, it was worth experiencing. Background information was shared that she’d new light on some of the events in the ‘Throne of Glass’ books. I read the first two books in the series before going back and reading these prequels. I’m glad that I did before I started the third book. I think this information will continue to be helpful to understand this complex, rapidly evolving series.

I loved every minute of ‘The Assassin’s Blade’. I highly recommend this set of prequels if you’re a fan of the ‘Throne of Glass’ series. I can’t get enough of this badass female assassin!

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Review: A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2), by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I finished ‘A Court Of Thorns And Roses’ I knew exactly what I wanted to see happen…or so I thought. In this follow-up book, I can honestly say that Ms. Maas gave me absolutely nothing that I expected, but everything that I didn’t know I needed. I loved the way things played out in this book!

In most cases, I don’t do well with my main characters changing love interests. However, even though I didn’t see it coming at the end of the first book, it worked for me. Why? Maybe because the characters had grown up some and grown apart in the process. Maybe because Tamlin morphed into an unrecognizable douche. Maybe because Rhysand was just impossible not to love. Regardless of the reasons, I was never so happy to embrace an “out with the old, in with the new” attitude.

With that being said, a part of my heart still holds a spot for the Tamlin I fell in love with in the first book. Lucius too, for that matter. With the exception of Feyre, all of my favorite characters seem to have lost themselves in this book. As a result, the story turned in an entirely new direction, with a new cast of supporting characters.

However, I loved the direction this story went. The new cast of characters were fantastic. Feyre really shined in this book, as she came into her own as a powerful immortal. Tamlin may have broken my heart, but Rhysand mended it.

Overall, I loved it! It does end with another twist, so I’ll be anxiously awaiting the arrival of the next book. I’m sure Tamlin will try to redeem himself, so it’s bound to be interesting. I can’t wait!

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