Unwrapped by Erin McCarthy, Donna Kauffman & Kate Angell

Overview

Title: Unwrapped
Author: Erin McCarthy, Donna Kauffman & Kate Angell
In: Unwrapped (Erin McCarthy, Donna Kauffman & Kate Angell)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect
My Bookshelves: Christmas, Contemporary, Contemporary romanceShort story collections
Pace: Medium
Format: Anthology, eBook
Year: 2011

Thoughts

This was a fantastic anthology of cutsie Christmas romances. All three novellas were fun and adorable, incredibly fun and ridiculously yummy. I loved the winter feeling of each of the stories and the imagery of snow falling around.

Each of these novellas were fun and light, with just enough drama to make them interesting. Plus, each and every one had a great little happy ending. One that left me with a happy smile on my face.

What a great collection of authors, old and new. I love a good Christmas romance, and the length of these novellas made it perfect to read just before bed without keeping me up too late.

<- Snow AngelBlue Christmas ->

Image source: Amazon

Reading Update

I’ve been a bit delayed scheduling the new reviews, and even with my reading I’ve been a bit behind. Mostly because I’m still full-time parenting, but I’ve added working part time to my plate. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. But it does make some of the other extra-curriculars difficult.

Graphic novels

Series

Standalones – Novels

Standalones – Short stories

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Overview

Title: Every Heart a Doorway
Author: Seanan McGuire
Series: Wayward Children #1
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: FaeFantasy, Mystery, Young adult
Pace: Fast
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2016

Thoughts

This story was absolutely nothing like what I was expecting. It was kind of dark and twisty, without all of the feel good that I’ve been reading a bit much of in some of my young adult books. Plus, this was actually and truly about misfits. There are way too many YA stories which feature a “misfit” who is actually seriously cool. These kids aren’t. For that, I love them.

I’m always diving into tales of the fae. Tales that are a little bit uncomfortable and sweep you away to some incredibly unexpected places. What I loved about this is that a whole variety of alternate lands are featured. There’s not one doorway to go through, but a whole range. A different land for a different kind of person to fit in. It was nice that each of the characters in this story found their own lands to fit into. Their own places to experience a happily ever after.

This is a great reminder that we all fear death. And fear makes people do stupid things. Nancy may have come from a land of the Dead. But that doesn’t mean she causes death, or even desires it. I love how she is immediately looked upon with suspicion amongst people who know, themselves, what it is like to be a misfit. It’s a reminder that human nature tends to ostracise others, regardless of how we may have been ostracised ourselves. Particularly in instances when there is a whole heap of fear running rampant.

I was completely not expecting the ending of this story. It had such a wonderful Frankenstein, Dracula, Wuthering Heights feel. I might kind of hate Wuthering Heights, but I loved the other two, so it was a good feeling. A good feeling in a bad way…

<- More Seanan McGuireDown Among the Sticks and Bones ->

Image source: Kobo

Doomsday Can Wait by Lori Handeland

Overview

Title: Doomsday Can Wait
Author: Lori Handeland
Series: Phoenix Chronicles #2
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: AngelsDemonsFae, Paranormal fantasy, Urban fantasy
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Year: 2009

Thoughts

It’s been a long while since I read Any Given Doomsday. So it did take a little time to get into this… mostly because I kept forgetting what had happened in the past book. But, once I got my head back into the world building… I was hooked.

One of the things I still find weird about this series is the whole sexual empath thing. Its certainly enjoyably unique, but I’ve been mainlining contemporary romances lately. And this really doesn’t fit the bill. Again, something that took me a little while to get my head around. But, I am looking forward to seeing how that will evolve in the following book.

I liked the idea of Liz and Jimmy reuniting in Any Given Doomsday. But the more I got to know Sawyer in this, the more I enjoyed their dynamic. The complexities of the relationships in this world got very heavy very quickly in Doomsday Can Wait. I can’t wait to see how they will develop further into the series.

I was completely taken by the relationship complexities in this novel. But there was a lot of action as well. Liz’s desire to win the day, no matter the cost and the fight between good and evil was pretty intense. It added a brilliant and much needed element of darkness to this fantastic story.

<- Any Given DoomsdayApocalypse Happens ->

Image source: Goodreads

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

Overview

Title: Wicked Saints
Author: Emily A. Duncan
Series: Something Dark and Holy #1
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Gothic, Magic, Young adult
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Year: 2019

Thoughts

I started trying to read this book last year at some point. And I remember liking it, but not really getting into it. Picking it up again… I’m REALLY not sure why I couldn’t get into it. I mean, this book is fantastic. I honestly couldn’t put it down. Again, not entirely sure what it was that made me put this aside last year. Because WOW.

To start off with, I loved the twist at the end of this. It was horrifying, and you thought that there might be something horrible. And then the horrible thing happens and you were just… gobsmacked. I mean, what a damn betrayal! And what a way to make me thirst for the next book in the series… like seriously, and desperately thirst for it. I just can’t even believe the power that this book holds over you, long after you turn that final page. Even now, when I’m finally getting to sit down and write a review of it… I’m still completely enthralled and gobsmacked.

I’ve read a lot of stories which are based on historical Europe, but not Slavic Europe. It did take me a little to get my head around the character names. And I am 100% certain that the way I say them in my head is completely incorrect. Which is fine, because no one else is inside my head. Partner that with the holy war that is going on… and although there was a slight sense of familiarity due to the European aspect to it, this felt like a whole new world. One that I seriously can’t wait to get back to… I mean, it is dark and twisted. And, for someone who is a little freaked out by anything with religious connotations, impossible to not want to dive straight back into.

Duncan’s world building is insane and intense. She is able to construct a world that you can’t turn away from. And although a lot is revealed in this novel, there is a lot more to the world and the conspiracies than is imparted in one novel. Which, again, is what makes me want to dive into Ruthless Gods so badly. I mean, the world building and the politics are phenomenal. And even with the betrayal that I didn’t see coming, there is a whole slew of other aspects to this storyline that need answers. Relationships that may become more and more complex…

<- More Emily A. DuncanRuthless Gods ->

Image source: Goodreads

Touchstone by Karen Stivali

Overview

Title: Touchstone
Author: Karen Stivali, Heart Eyes Press
Series: Speakeasy Taproom #1
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Pace: Medium
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2021

Thoughts

I have to admit, having Sam as the male lead was incredibly yummy. And I’m not normally all that interested in reading about hipsters. Or just hipsters in general. But, he’s Wiccan, so the hipster thing was forgiven, and I actually enjoyed getting to know this so very yummy man a little bit better… there’s just something about not only his characterisation, but also the gorgeous relationship he has with his grandmother and great-aunt that had me smiling and digging further and further into this story.

Although I’ve been reading a lot of contemporary romances lately, I actually haven’t read many that feature the internet. I love that this tale actually uses the internet and our current obsession with memes to drive the storyline. It’s kind of a cruel beginning – memes drive a woman out of her life and thrust her into a whole new one. But I do love that it is something that generally happens these days. Plus, I seriously can’t get the idea of Phoebe with a huge hunk of meat flung over her shoulder, righteously marching off.

I’ve never been to America, let alone Vermont (where I think this is set). But I love the feeling of this setting. It actually kind of made me think of the tiny towns scattered throughout the Adelaide Hills. That sense of greenery and seclusion is so peaceful as you’re travelling through the region. It’s certainly the feeling that I get when I’m journeying into this tiny town. A feeling that I look forward to returning to with the reading of Heartwood.

Not only did I really enjoy both Phoebe and Sam independently and together, I also really loved all of the cooking and food throughout. I’m definitely developing an obsession with any kind of romance that features food and cooking. It’s just too delicious and… yummmm. So I had multiple reasons to drool while reading this fantastic romance.

<- More Karen StivaliHeartwood ->

Image source: Goodreads

The Silver Gryphon by Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon

Overview

Title: The Silver Gryphon
Author: Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon
Series: The Mage Wars #3, Valdemar #3
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Fantasy, Mages, Magic, Medieval fantasy
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Year: 1996

Thoughts

I found this whole Valdemar trilogy a bit of a hard whack. I just didn’t feel emotionally connected with the characters like the other books. And it was even harder with this novel, because it was about the children of the main characters.

In fact, I found this book almost impossible to get through. The leads were kind of whiney and annoying. I mean, I’ve read a lot of stories which feature the children of those famous, and often they complain about the exact same things. But for some reason I found these guys SO MUCH MORE irritating.

I always find it hard to write reviews about books that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy. And, like my enjoyment, they tend to be a bit shorter. Mostly because I still try to focus on what I liked. And whilst I didn’t hate this book, there’s much I can recall that I actually LIKED.

<- The White GryphonMagic’s Pawn ->

Image source: Kobo

One Boy, No Water by Lehua Parker

Overview

Title: One Boy, No Water
Author: Lehua Parker
Series: Nihui Shark Saga #1
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Fantasy, Mythology, Young adult
Pace: Medium
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2012

Thoughts

I really loved the island-life feel. It had this breezy, relaxed, surfer kind of vibe, that felt kind of familiar to my surfy cousins. There was such a lovely, breezy feeling to this story and I most definitely want to revisit this world. Aside from the vibe in this story, I loved that there was a lot of cultural information and aspects to the story that made me more and more fascinated by the Hawaiian life.

Then there was the fantastic language used throughout. Not just the language and tone of the story, but also the island slang throughout. Each chapter starts with the meaning of one piece of slang. Then, there’s bits and pieces that you have to put together yourself. I love this pidgeon form of English and Hawaiian that is used throughout. It may actually be the aspect of this story that I love the most – learning new slang that I will probably never use.

I loved how although this story is very much around a mythology and fantasy and powers, at it’s heart it is a coming of age story. One where a boy discovers who he is and that, like all of us, he has his own powers. It’s been a while since I’ve so thoroughly enjoyed a coming of age story. So it was nice to read this one. And, as I previously mentioned, definitely a world and journey that I will return to.

Zader is an incredibly fun lead. He is obviously kind of awkward and a fish out of water. Which, I always connect best to these types of characters – I’ve always felt like a bit of a fish out of water myself. I enjoyed how as his story unfolds, a bit more of his background and the secrets of his past. It made it incredibly difficult to put down this fantastic book.

<- More Lehua ParkerOne Shark, No Swim ->

Image source: Booktopia

Shotgun Angels by Jay Demarcus

Overview

Title: Shotgun Angels: My Story of Broken Roads and Unshakeable Hope
Author: Jay Demarcus
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Biographies, Memoirs, Music
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Year: 2019

Thoughts

I absolutely love the music by Rascal Flatts. So I was excited to know a little bit more about their history and the journey to becoming a band. This really wasn’t about that. It was more about Demarcus’ faith. Which is fine, but definitely not my cup of tea.

I’m really funny about anything that is a little too Bible heavy. Again, just not my cup of tea. And although this was a sweet journey, it is incredibly obvious that this is a HUGE aspect of Demarcus’ life. It literally permeates everything in this story. And whilst I can see how a lot of people would find this incredibly uplifting, I just felt incredibly uncomfortable.

Because I did enjoy this, but also felt uncomfortable, I’m going to write a short review here. This was good and interesting. Definitely not too pushy with the belief. But also, not what I was expecting, anticipating and looking forward to reading.

<- Mao’s Last DancerThe Happiest Refugee ->

Image source: HarperCollins Australia

Mad About Ewe by Susannah Nix

Overview

Title: Mad About Ewe
Author: Susannah Nix, SmartyPants Romance
Series: Common Threads #1
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Year: 2021

Thoughts

I really like reading romances that feature an older couple. It definitely seems that the older I get, the older I want my protagonists to be (which makes total sense). Dawn and Mike might be a little bit older than I had kind of anticipated / desired, but they still fit that happy space in which I had older protagonists that made me happy. Plus, Dawn literally opens her own yarn store… something that I most definitely can see myself doing later in life.

There are a number of quite intense themes of moments throughout this novel. Starting with Dawn’s health scare and the crisis that she deals with. She may not have the best of responses to making sure that she gives those around her the benefit of the doubt, but I can also completely understand where she’s coming from. Spun throughout the romance that builds between her and Mike, it gives a far more realistic backdrop to the ways in which we have to negotiate romance in adulthood. Although, that may just be because health scares seem to be a fairly common occurrence within my life.

Mike is a pretty good lead. There is something to be said about people moving on from the past. High school is a weird time that seems to stick with all of us. But for some, it’s a time that they never move on from. I love how all throughout, Mike is kind of ashamed of who he was in high school (as I think we all are to some degree). But, the fact that he was a jock and popular doesn’t make him feel like revisiting his heyday. In fact, his past with Dawn is something that he actively regrets. It made me love him all that much more.

This is my second Susannah Nix book, and I must say, I am most definitely in love. Her characters are wonderfully relatable, and the story line just way too lovely and relatable. That, and the fact that the protagonists in this aren’t quite what fits the normal mould for romantic comedies that I’m used to. I’ll definitely continue to fill my shelves with her works, and keep smiling my goofy smile as I devour them…

<- More Smartypants RomanceGive Love a Chai ->

Image source: Goodreads