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Review – The Goblins of Bellwater by Molly Ringle

The Goblins of Bellwater

By Molly Ringle

SummaryA contemporary romance inspired by Christina Rossetti’s eerie, sensual poem, “Goblin Market.” Four neighbors encounter sinister enchantments and a magical path to love in a small, modern-day Puget Sound town, where a fae realm hides in the woods and waters…

Most people have no idea goblins live in the woods around the small town of Bellwater, Washington. But some are about to find out. 

Skye, a young barista and artist, falls victim to a goblin curse in the forest one winter night, rendering her depressed and silenced, unable to speak of what happened. Her older sister, Livy, is at wit’s end trying to understand what’s wrong with her. Local mechanic Kit would know, but he doesn’t talk of such things: he’s the human liaison for the goblin tribe, a job he keeps secret and never wanted, thrust on him by an ancient family contract.

Unaware of what’s happened to Skye, Kit starts dating Livy, trying to keep it casual to protect her from the attention of the goblins. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Kit, Skye draws his cousin Grady into the spell through an enchanted kiss in the woods, dooming Grady and Skye both to become goblins and disappear from humankind forever.

It’s a midwinter night’s enchantment as Livy, the only one untainted by a spell, sets out to save them on a dangerous magical path of her own.

Source: I purchased a paperback

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Review:

I picked up The Goblins of Bellwater on a whim while book shopping. I was drawn to the cover and the fact that it’s set near where I’m currently living. I love the idea of goblins in the woods and have enjoyed every goblin/faery story with that plot/backdrop, so I felt like this was a great pick for me.

Unfortunately, I didn’t think the book was as gorgeous as the cover. I don’t know what I expected, but I think what ultimately failed for me was the execution. I knew going into it that was more of an urban fantasy/new adult romance and that was fine, but i think I expected a bit more magic and even the sensual aspects, since it was based off of the poem, to be higher and more ramped up. Skye lingered in the forests and was drawn to the spell of the goblins, but I didn’t FEEL it. When she was quiet and cursed, I didn’t feel the longing that way I expected. Instead, the POV switched over to the sister and became more of an ordinary small town romance. I wish I wouldn’t been more connected to the characters.

In the end, the book felt more like a contemporary romance that you’d find for 2 bucks on Amazon and I don’t mean that in a good way. It was forgettable and not as enchanting as the synopsis or cover suggested. It was frustrating because there was so much potential for the story to be amazing and it just didn’t fit together in a way that grabbed me. 

Star 2

 

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Review – Until It Fades by K.A. Tucker

 

Until It Fades

By K.A. Tucker

Summary: “Tucker is adept at spinning stories with hot romance, unexpected twists and turns, and a strong, independent female lead who is not afraid to take charge, who is not perfect—which is why she feels so real.” —Toronto Star

Twenty-four-year-old truck stop waitress and single mother Catherine Wright has simple goals: to give her five-year-old daughter a happy life and to never again be the talk of the town in Balsam, Pennsylvania (population three thousand outside of tourist season). And then one foggy night, on a lonely road back from another failed date, Catherine saves a man’s life. It isn’t until after the police have arrived that Catherine realizes exactly who it is she has rescued: Brett Madden, hockey icon and media darling.
Catherine has already had her fifteen minutes of fame and the last thing she wants is to have her past dragged back into the spotlight, only this time on a national stage. So she hides her identity. It works. For a time. But when she finds the man she saved standing on her doorstep, desperate to thank her, all that changes. There’s an immediate connection, and it’s more electric than the bond of two people who endured a traumatic event. It’s something neither of them expected. Something that Catherine isn’t sure she can handle; something she is afraid to trust.
Because how long can an extraordinary man like Brett be interested in an ordinary woman like Catherine…before the spark fades?

Source: I preordered a Kindle copy

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Review:

K.A. Tucker is one of my favorite contemporary romance authors, so of course I was eagerly awaiting her latest novel. I wasn’t as big of a fan of her last book, He Will Be My Ruin, mostly because it’s hard to bridge the gap between romance and thrillers when I read both and have really high expectations. But Until It Fades was firmly in romance territory, complete with the conflicted heroine with a tough past. Tucker always does an amazing job at creating characters and giving them conflicts and backstories that complicate things in a believable way. Until It Fades was no exception. It was great!

I didn’t read the synopsis because Tucker is an auto-buy author of mine, so I started the book feeling a little hesitant. If there’s one thing I really can’t stand, it’s teacher-student relationships (but I do excuse a few books from this issue because they are so good.) My stomach dropped in the beginning because I really wasn’t in the mood, but fortunately, it wasn’t one of those books. While Catherine’s past did impact her future, the book was not about that particular relationship and was instead focused on her overcoming and finding her place in her judgmental town years after the affair.

I love K.A. Tucker. She creates such amazing characters. This book could’ve totally been another awful NA romance with some hunky sports player with bigger muscles than brains and a heroine falling all over herself over someone famous, but it was nowhere near being one of those novels. Every time I read one of Tucker’s books, I can’t help but want to jump up and down and scream, THIS IS WHAT I WANT IN A NEW ADULT NOVEL! It’s not afraid to talk about the adult things, but it’s not smutty and ridiculous. Her books have depth to them even if hinted romance in the synopsis sounds like it could be a trope filled novel. 

While Catherine had somewhat of a broken past, I have to admit, Until It Fades was definitely one of her “fluffier” books. There wasn’t any of that darkness that Ten Tiny Breaths and the Burying Water series both have. But for the New Adult category, it’s not at all fluffy. 

I highly recommend Until It Fades. I flew through the book and I enjoyed every minute!

Star 4

Review – Till Death by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Till Death

By Jennifer L. Armentrout

SummaryIn New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout’s gripping new novel, a young woman comes home to reclaim her life—even as a murderer plots to end it. . . 

 It’s been ten years since Sasha Keaton left her West Virginia hometown . . . since she escaped the twisted serial killer known as the Groom. Returning to help run her family inn means being whole again, except for one missing piece. The piece that falls into place when Sasha’s threatened—and FBI agent Cole Landis vows to protect her the way he couldn’t a decade ago.

 First one woman disappears; then another, and all the while, disturbing calling cards are left for the sole survivor of the Groom’s reign of terror. Cole’s never forgiven himself for not being there when Sasha was taken, but he intends to make up for it now . . . because under the quirky sexiness Cole first fell for is a steely strength that only makes him love Sasha more.

But someone is watching. Waiting. And Sasha’s first mistake could be her last.

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Source: I purchased a kindle copy.

Review:

This is going to be an unpopular opinion and one that I hate to give considering how much I typically love JLA books, but Till Death was awful. Maybe it’s just that I do enjoy mysteries and thrillers and have a pretty high expectation for the writing, but the book was seriously lacking in just about every way. 

The writing felt very juvenile, which I never really notice in her YA books or NA romances. I typically like the quirky and funny characters and writing, but it was out of place in romantic suspense. It felt like in order to tone the quirkiness down, the author decided to make the main character very soft spoken and similar to a doormat to convey the serious nature and the fact that she was damaged. But seeing “…” in literally every line of her dialogue just made me want to throw the book.

I figured out who the killer was at the very beginning because, unlike the main character, I wasn’t completely naive or blind to the world around me.

The romance was perhaps the best part because that’s what JLA is good at, but I was already over the main character to appreciate any of it. I would expect an FBI agent to have a higher bar set for his love interest and just don’t understand what the appeal of a cowering and stammering girl could possibly be. I just feel like she reminded me of a deer caught in headlights, all wide eyed and unable to figure out how to move in life. 

I can’t say I’d recommend the book at all. I think there other New Adult and romance authors who tackle mystery and suspense much better. As a lover of thrillers, this book just made me roll my eyes. It wasn’t suspenseful or thrilling at all, but perhaps if you’re used to reading nothing but new adult romances, then it might seem better.

Star 2

 

Review – A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) by Sarah J. Maas

 

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)

By Sarah J Maas

SummaryLooming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places. 

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

Source: I purchased a hardcover

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Review:

I absolutely love this series. And Sarah J. Maas. This was another brilliant five star book that had me twisted into a ball of emotions the whole time. I was on the edge of my seat with so much hanging in the balance. There were alliances, court scheming, plots, betrayals, quests, romance, adventure. I think ACOWAR is even more complex than the second book with the political plots and bargains and favors. 

I love how Maas creates characters that end up growing and changing. Comparing ANY of the characters in ACOTAR to the ones in ACOWAR would show just how much they’ve all been affected by the events of the world. Feyre did a lot of her growth in ACOMAF, but in ACOWAR, we got to see her strut her stuff as High Lady of the Night Court and truly flaunt her power. I will always love the romance between her and Rhys because they just believe in each other, lean on each other in times of need, and never let their worry stop them from letting each other do what needs to be done. I love villainous and terrifying love interests, but I melt even more when they treat their romantic leads as equals and believe in them. And it really doesn’t happen as often as it should in romance, so I can’t get enough of Rhys and Feyre. They are both so full of compassion and yet rippling with terrifying power. 

But while ACOMAF was more focused on the romantic tension between Rhys and Feyre to some degree, ACOWAR was definitely more about introducing more of the rest of the characters and their stories along with the threat of war, and so there was a lot going on. For anyone who was sticking through it just to get more romance, while I think ACOWAR has a lot of great romantic moments, it definitely wasn’t quite the same kind of story. This book wasn’t just the two of them soaring through the night and stealing moments, but of them covered in blood and sweat and leaning on each other because they just couldn’t stomach the battle without each other. Which was better to me, but might not satisfy people who crave romantic tension. 

I don’t know what to say without spoiling the many twists and turns in the plot. The story started in such a different place than it ended, with a host of various schemes and problems along the way. But I LOVE this series so much. It brings real fantasy elements and real character growth to YA that I just don’t see often enough in other books. It is rare that books touch upon the strength it takes to recover from traumatic events, the love that is real and makes us better people, the friendship between people who are good to each other, and the complexities of the Fae world. There are layers upon layers to everything in the series and none of it feels contrived or lazy or predictable. The characters are amazing and I just loved every second. 

I can’t wait to see where the series will go after this, but I’m also glad to get some closure, too, which is what I have not yet gotten from the Throne of Glass series. 

I highly recommend the series and this book was as good, if not better, than the second in the series, so it did not disappoint. I truly cannot comprehend anyone not loving this series if they are into fantasy and Fae lore at all, unless it has to do with the more mature violence and romance being off putting for people who stick to YA for the cleanliness. This series is definitely mature, but not quite as graphic as adult romance. I highly recommend it.

Star 5

Review – Scorched (Frigid #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

 

Scorched (Frigid #2) 

By Jennifer L. Armentrout

SummaryJennifer L. Armentrout (also known as J. Lynn), New York Times bestselling author of the Wait for You series, presents her latest book, Scorched.

Sometimes life leaves a mark…

Most days, Andrea doesn’t know whether she wants to kiss Tanner or punch him in the gut. He is seriously hot, with legit bedroom eyes and that firefighter body of his, but he’s a major player, and they can’t get along for more than a handful of minutes. Until now.

Tanner knows he and Andrea have had an epic love/hate relationship for as long as he can remember, but he wants more love than hate from her. He wants her. Now. Tomorrow. But the more he gets to know her, the more it becomes obvious that Andrea has a problem. She’s teetering on the edge, and every time he tries to catch her, she slips through his fingers.

Andrea’s life is spiraling out of control, and it doesn’t matter that Tanner wants to save her, because when everything falls apart and she’s speeding toward rock-bottom, only she can save herself.

Sometimes life makes you work for that happily ever after…

Source: I purchased a kindle copy. 

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Review:

Scorched is the second in the Frigid series, but more of a standalone since it involves the side characters from Frigid and their own romance story. I read Frigid, but I didn’t really remember much about it, but that didn’t have any effect on how much I enjoyed Scorched.

Andrea was a fierce and wild character who challenged Tanner. Her best friend found her soulmate, but it came with the baggage of his best friend, Tanner, so the four of them found themselves together a lot. It wasn’t that she didn’t like Tanner. She was aware of him all too much. And while she fought with him and it was sort of a game, she was really more sensitive about how he treated her than she appeared to be. For Tanner, he couldn’t get enough of Andrea, but was always afraid to go there because he kind of sensed it couldn’t just be a one time thing. He had no idea she wasn’t the fierce and party going person he thought she was and that she really was more sensitive. 

I enjoyed watching their relationship change and grow in the book. I love that the author chose to portray someone who was tough and confident on the outside, but struggled very much on the inside and suffered from panic attacks and anxiety. Andrea coped in a way that wasn’t working for her, but was sensitive to being judged and it was a constant cycle. 

I was rooting for Tanner and Andrea to finally use all that energy they spent fighting with each other on something more productive, so it was definitely entertaining to see them finally admit that they had a thing for each other. I also loved that Tanner realized she was a little more fragile than he thought and I liked seeing how he chose to handle that. 

Scorched was a quick read, a gooey romance, and a book that tackled some issues in a positive way. It was kind of perfect for a rainy afternoon and I’m glad I picked it up! My only real criticism is that I didn’t remember much of Sydney and Kyler and I wish the author did a better job of making me like that again. They seemed kind of dull as side characters and I’m not even sure I like either of them, but I’m sure I remember loving them in the first book. I wish their personalities were stronger, I guess. 

Star 4

Torn (Wicked Saga #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

 

Torn (Wicked Saga #2)

By Jennifer L. Armentrout

Summary: Torn between duty and survival, nothing can be the same. 

Everything Ivy Morgan thought she knew has been turned on its head. After being betrayed and then nearly killed by the Prince of the Fae, she’s left bruised and devastated—and with an earth-shattering secret that she must keep at all costs. And if the Order finds out her secret, they’ll kill her. 

Then there’s Ren Owens, the sexy, tattooed Elite member of the Order who has been sharing Ivy’s bed and claiming her heart. Their chemistry is smoking hot, but Ivy knows that Ren has always valued his duty to the Order above all else—he could never touch her if he knew the truth. That is, if he let her live at all. Yet how can she live with herself if she lies to him? 
But as the Fae Prince begins to close in, intent on permanently opening the gates to the Otherworld, Ivy is running out of options. If she doesn’t figure out who she can trust—and fast—it’s not only her heart that will be torn apart, but civilization itself.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy.

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Review:

I’m really not sure why I bought the sequel when I didn’t like the first book that much, but I forgot and One Clicked the book as soon as it came out because I thought it was one of the series I loved. Some of the author’s series are TO DIE FOR and some of them fail to impress me, but she has so many different series and books going on that sometimes I can’t remember which ones I love and which ones are just kind of meh. Anyway, I made an error and purchased Torn, but dug in and finished it fairly quickly. 

The issue with this series is that it is so unbelievably predictable and I don’t like Ivy at all. The best thing about the series is Tink, but even that got old fairly quickly. It is fun to read and it’s certainly short and sweet, but I don’t think there’s anything about the series that has hooked me like her other books. The good thing is that it’s short and I didn’t feel like I wasted too much time reading and it was entertaining, at least.

If you enjoyed Wicked, then Torn is a sequel that you’ll also enjoy. The stakes are higher as Ivy finally figured out what she is and actively fought against fulfilling prophecies related to what she is. Obviously there was conflict with Ren, since his whole job is to find Ivy without realizing that Ivy is what he’s looking for. Tink was still Amazon prime shopping like crazy, but he actually had a bit more of a role in this book, in my opinion, and that was perhaps the coolest part of the book.

However, if you were only mildly interested in Wicked, I don’t think Torn really changed the game or made the series worth reading. It’s not The Dark Elements series by any means and I’m just not nearly as invested in it as I want to be.

Star 2

Restless Waters (Left Drowning #2) by Jessica Park

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Restless Waters (Left Drowning #2)

by Jessica Park

Summary: A storm is coming, and with storms come restless waters.
Pulled from the depths of catastrophe and depression, Blythe McGuire has learned to escape from her past while embracing the future. A future now entwined with the Shepherd siblings.
With Chris, she shares a staggering romance that kicks heartbreak’s ass.
With Sabin, she shares an intense friendship, one that’s becoming more complicated than either had expected. A friendship now being put to the test because Sabin’s brutal past still haunts him. Because trauma is the gift that keeps on giving without mercy.
Now Sabin is the one left drowning and struggling to breathe, and his turmoil threatens to send all three into dark currents they cannot escape. Even after going through her own hell, saving Sabin will take much more than Blythe had anticipated. Their connection and their love could help, but getting him to reach for her hand could be Blythe’s biggest challenge ever.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy.

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Review:

I loved Left Drowning, so I figured I’d pick up Restless Waters since it was the sequel. I was more than ready for the author to blow me away like she did with the first book.Restless Waters took place after the events in Left Drowning. Sabin, who struggled with alcohol abuse in book one, wasn’t healing as well as everyone else in the sequel. He had a close relationship with Blythe, but even she didn’t seem to be able to help him.

So here’s the thing. I feel like this book just shouldn’t exist. I loved Left Drowning and this book just seems to take a perfectly good story and make me regret liking the characters. I remember feeling a bit odd about Blythe’s relationship with Sabin.. and Restless Waters gave me good reason to feel so odd. When I saw that this was Sabin’s story, I suppose I assumed it would take the normal contemporary route and give him a relationship, which is something I would have enjoyed reading about.

Spoilers ahead….

Basically, Sabin was jealous of Blythe and Chris and acted out. Blythe found herself jealous that Sabin was having one night stands, so they had a moment where they further explored the depth of their friendship only to come clean to Chris, who acted like it was no big deal and got them to work it out that they were close, but not actually in love with each other. I could have done without that whole storyline. Blythe literally ignored Chris when she discovered an old wedding invitation for his previous wedding in his wallet, but she runs off and kisses his brother?

End of spoilers.

I wish Left Drowning was a standalone.

Star 2