Book Review

March Book Reviews

Yall. I set a goal of only 30 books this year because I wanted to really focus on my writing. I’m already up to 20 and it’s only April!! Anyways, on to what I read in March!

Ten Steps to Hero: How to Craft a Kickass Protagonist by Sacha Black

Are you fed up of one-dimensional heroes? Frustrated with creating clones? Does your protagonist fail to capture your reader’s heart?
In 10 Steps To Hero, you’ll discover:
How to develop a killer character arc
A step-by-step guide to creating your hero from initial concept to final page
Why the web of story connectivity is essential to crafting a hero that will hook readers
The four major pitfalls to avoid as well as the tropes your story needs
Finally, there is a comprehensive writing guide to help you create your perfect protagonist. Whether you’re writing your first story or you’re a professional writer, this book will help supercharge your hero and give them that extra edge.
These lessons will help you master your charming knights, navigate your way to the perfect balance of flaws and traits, as well as strengthen your hero to give your story the conflict and punch it needs.
First, there were villains, now there are heroes. If you like dark humor, learning through examples,and want to create the best hero you can, then you’ll love Sacha Black’s guide to crafting heroes.

Seriously, y’all, I cannot get enough of Sacha Black’s craft books.

First, I read the Anatomy of Prose, which I loved. Then, I read her Villians book which helped me figure out my villian issues. And now I’ve read her Heroes book.

Overall, it was a great book with a lot of really good insight and tips for how to craft a well rounded hero. While I didn’t read this because I needed the help, I fully intend on reading every one of her craft books time and time again.

I honestly don’t have much more to say that I haven’t already in my reviews of her other two. If you’re looking for kickass craft books, please check out Sacha Black.

She. is. awesome.

I’ve also just recently started listening to her Rebel Author podcast, and I am learning lots of little tips and tricks.

Enjoy!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Kian’s Focus by Misty Walker

I lost my boyfriend on the night I had planned to propose.
It was a horrific accident that was all my fault.
I gave up and resigned myself into a life of obscurity.
Until I got a call that my sister, Sara, needed me.
It gave me purpose and I ran to her rescue.
Because that’s what I’ve done our whole lives.
That’s how I ended up in Brigs Ferry Bay.
But when I showed up, things were so much worse than I thought.
She was sullen, fragile, and sinking into a depression I didn’t know how I’d get her out of.
Together, we were drowning.
Until I met Kian.
He’s everything I’m not.
Bouncy, bubbly, full of life, and an innate ability to make everything better.
He makes me believe I can be happy again.
Now the unthinkable has happened and Sara is on the verge of losing her life.
Once again, it’s all my fault.
Kian had clouded my vision with promises of hope and forever.
I was so stupid to believe I could be happy again.
I try push him away.
To shove him out of the darkness that follows me.
I don’t want him to suffer the future fate had secured me to.
But Kian’s focus is on me
And he’s used to getting what he wants.

I won an ARC (Advanced Reader’s Copy) of Kian’s Focus from Misty on TikTok!

First off, let me just say, she is super sweet and super insightful about indie publishing, especially when it comes to publishing romances.

On to the review! The only other M/M romance I have read is Red, White & Royal Blue, so I was really excited to dive into the world Misty created. From the get-go, the story was engaging and the characters were interesting.

Archer is a little down on his luck. Who wouldn’t be after the person they planned to spend the rest of their life with died in a tragic accident? The story starts about a year later, when he’s moved to live with his sister and help her out with her children. That always endears me to character. I love slightly clueless men who have hearts of gold.

Kian is confident, kind, and has his own issues, but he genuinely cares about every single soul that enters his life–or his bar/club.

When the two of them meet, there’s an instant spark and an undeniable chemistry. Even though Archer doesn’t think he deserves to get out there again, he takes a chance, and that’s one thing that I always love in a story.

I love how Misty captured that small town feel. I grew up in a small town in southern Louisiana, where everybody knows everybody’s business. It was fun to relive that in a different setting, and to watch love blossom between the two main characters. It was a genuine, heartfelt story of two men who each have their own shit, but somehow defy the odds and make it work.

I think the thing that I loved the most is how realistic it was. This story didn’t involve tons of over the top drama, but what it did was incredibly realistic.

Archer’s sister Sara is struggling with some major issues with her mental health, and I really appreciated that Misty didn’t shy away from that. When people get uncomfortable, sometimes they walk around real issues, but she did not. All in all, I really enjoyed this story. If you’re looking for a M/M romance, definitely check Misty out!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Lore by Alexandra Bracken

Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality.
Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world in the wake of her family’s sadistic murder by a rival line, turning her back on the hunt’s promises of eternal glory. For years she’s pushed away any thought of revenge against the man–now a god–responsible for their deaths.
Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek out her help: Castor, a childhood friend of Lore believed long dead, and a gravely wounded Athena, among the last of the original gods.

The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and, at last, a way for Lore to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore’s decision to bind her fate to Athena’s and rejoin the hunt will come at a deadly cost–and still may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees..

If you know me at all, you know I am a total fangirl for Alexandra Bracken. I own a copy of literally every book she’s ever published. I’m even lucky enough to have signed and personalized books by her.

I. Am. A. Fan.

So, it’s been a while since she’s released anything new. I’ve been following her on social media, and when she started talking about Lore a couple of years ago, I was really excited. Greek Gods. Urban fantasy. That is totally my jam.

The book released in January and I had every intention of reading it when it first came out. But, life.

As a side note, I like to read hard copies of books in conjunction with the ebook. If the ebook takes a while to come available, I’ll delay reading it. That was part of why it took me so long.

So. Yet again. Alex Bracken. I adore her.

While I’ve been trying to venture out of the YA genre a little bit more because my own books have more adult themes, I will always come back for one of her books. Alex has this way of making characters intriguing, but not giving anything away until it’s absolutely necessary, so it keeps you hooked.

I also loved that as time has gone on, Alex has grown as a writer and includes more obvious diverse representation. She is an amazing person, and I genuinely would love to be her best friend.

BUT since that won’t happen. If you like Greek Gods, magic, mysteries, and smoking hot god-like mystery boys, please check this out. You will NOT be disappointed. While I wasn’t hooked in the first chapter, the second one definitely sucked me in and I finished the book within a few days. I would love to see if Alex returns to this world, but based on the way the story ended, I don’t think she will. Either way, I’ll always be waiting for her next project. 🙂

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.
In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.
And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.
Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.
When one of the strangers–beautiful, haunted Akiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

A while back, I asked some of my author friends for suggestions of Fantasy Romance stories like From Blood and Ash and A Court of Mists and Fury. While the person who suggested this one admitted to not having read those two, they suggested this book.

When I researched it, I realized it didn’t quite fit the genre that I was looking for, but I was running a little low on other things so I decided to check it out from the library.

I was so pleasantly surprised. Not only is the writing amazing (and makes me want to go to Prague ASAP), but the story is intriguing. I’d heard that stories about angels were definitely not selling in the traditional market, so I was completely into it when I found a traditionally published story that was.

Overall, I enjoyed the first half more than the second half. The second half was a collection of memories, and while they were good, I don’t really like a giant info dump like that.

To put my thoughts simply: this is the first book in what is obviously a series, but it didn’t quite have the arc of a story that’s the first in a series. I almost felt like this should have been a prequel.

Parts of it were a little predictable, and the insta-love wasn’t my favorite (though it was explained and I was less salty about it after that).

Now, obviously, the ending left me a little dissatisfied, so I’m going to continue the series, but I’ll probably wait a while before I picked up the second one. This didn’t quite fit the recommendation I asked for, but I was very pleasantly surprised. I would have liked to see this in the Adult genre rather than the YA genre. I have a feeling Laini Taylor may take it there. If you’re looking for a good YA fantasy, definitely check it out!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

It’s Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake by Claire Christian

A sparkling, feel-good tale about starting over, for anyone who’s spent too much of their own life making other people happy.

What if you made yourself your number one priority?


Of all the women and men Noni Blake has pleased in her life, there’s one she’s often overlooked—herself. After the end of a decade-long relationship, Noni decides it’s time for that to change. She’s finally going to prioritize her wants and desires and only do things (and people) that feel good in the moment.

As she embarks on a pleasure-seeking quest that takes her halfway around the world, she discovers that maybe she can have everything, and everyone, she’s ever wanted.

Effortlessly hilarious and relatable, Claire Christian spins a fresh, uplifting story about starting over as a thirtysomething woman who’s been living life for everyone else. A story of self-discovery for the ages, Noni’s journey serves as a reminder that life is what we make of it—so why not enjoy it?

A friend of mine on social media posting a rave review of this book, and I knew I had to read it. It had all of the things I wanted:

Plus size Protagonist? Check!

Bisexual Representation? Check!

Early-Mid-Life Crisis? Check!

I wasn’t sure of the exact genre, but I quickly discovered that this was a women’s fiction novel.

One thing that I absolutely loved is that it starts showing the main character waking up after a night of drunken sex with someone she doesn’t know, and it’s a female firefighter.

Not long after, something sparks a fire in Noni and she decides to go to Europe. She wants to check off as many names on the “Should Have Banged” list, and she gets started on it before she ever leaves Australia.

What followed was a whimsical, silly, and sometimes just plain ridiculous (in a funny way) story of a woman in her mid-thirties trying to figure out exactly what she wants out of life. I really enjoyed it. It was hilarious and relatable (who hasn’t woken up one day and looked at themselves and said…wtf am I doing?)

I related to Noni on such a deep level. I think as women we often fall prey to living for others instead of living for ourselves. I know I did, until I went to therapy.

Overall, I really enjoyed the story. I almost wish it would have been a romance because y’all. There is a Viking in this story. He is big, beautiful, and a tattoo artist, and I wanted to see some heat between them. It wasn’t completely lacking, but it definitely wasn’t on par with some of the other stories I’ve been reading lately.

If you’re looking for a story that’s light, uplifting, will make you laugh and also dream of running off to Europe to find yourself, definitely check this one out.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Den of Vipers by K.A. Knight

Ryder, Garrett, Kenzo, and Diesel—The Vipers.
They run this town and everyone in it. Their deals are as sordid as their business, and their reputation is enough to bring a grown man to his knees, forcing him to beg for mercy. They are not people you mess with, yet my dad did. The old man ran up a debt with them and then sold me to cover his losses.
Yes, sold me.
They own me now.
I’m theirs in every sense of the word. But I’ve never been meek and compliant. These men, they look at me with longing. Their scarred, blood-stained hands holding me tight. They want everything I am, everything I have to give, and won’t stop until they get just that. They can own my body, but they will never have my heart.
The Vipers? I’m going to make them regret the day they took me.
This girl? She bites too.

I’m not giving this book another second of my time, so here’s the review I posted on Goodreads and Amazon: I wanted to like this book. I’ve heard rave reviews all over the place. The first two hundred or so pages were full of consent issues, but I was willing to suspend my belief a little extra as this is an indie author. But then Diesel stuck something that doesnt go in a body in an exit and I was immediately cold.

The problem in reverse harems is that there can’t quite be chemistry with all of them. Three of the relationships felt forced AF. Carve out Garrett’s story from the rest and I would have liked this. As it is, there is NO talk about consent. I’m not here to kink shame, so please don’t mistake my feelings for this. My understanding in the kink community is that consent and comfort is a HUGE thing. Safe words, conversations about limits, how to do things SANITARILY… all big things. This book was one big, fucked up orgy.

The content itself is a nightmare, but that’s not all.

I found so many little errors in formatting, grammar, and spelling. The first page of each chapter was hard to read and the author left randomly hanging sentences all over the place. There were even sections where a few words were repeated. I wonder if they even had someone proofread the work before publication. With such a strong, beautiful cover, I thought for sure the author would have invested in the content the same way. In the later chapters, instead of each chapter equaling one character, the author starts head hopping without any rhyme or reason. If the specific scenes were actually connected, sure, but they weren’t.

I skimmed the last 30 pages because I was done. This book is trash, the writing is trash, and I just don’t get the hype. (0/5 Stars)

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning

MacKayla Lane’s life is good. She has great friends, a decent job, and a car that breaks down only every other week or so. In other words, she’s your perfectly ordinary twenty-first-century woman. Or so she thinks . . . until something extraordinary happens.
When her sister is murdered, leaving a single clue to her death–a cryptic message on Mac’s cell phone—Mac journeys to Ireland in search of answers. The quest to find her sister’s killer draws her into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems, where good and evil wear the same treacherously seductive mask. She is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn how to handle a power she had no idea she possessed—a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae. . . .
As Mac delves deeper into the mystery of her sister’s death, her every move is shadowed by the dark, mysterious Jericho, a man with no past and only mockery for a future. As she begins to close in on the truth, the ruthless Vlane—an alpha Fae who makes sex an addiction for human women–closes in on her. And as the boundary between worlds begins to crumble, Mac’s true mission becomes clear: find the elusive Sinsar Dubh before someone else claims the all-powerful Dark Book—because whoever gets to it first holds nothing less than complete control of the very fabric of both worlds in their hands. . . .

This is another novel someone suggested in response to my call for Adult Fantasy books. Again, not quite what I was asking for, but…it’s fine.

This is apparently a very popular series. I’d never heard of it before, so I wasn’t sure what I was getting into.

Clearly, it’s not a high fantasy story. Instead, it’s a paranormal romance novel.

It’s soooo slow to start. The story takes forever to build up even though the hook is interesting–the main character’s sister is in Ireland and she’s dead! But once the MC gets to Ireland, there’s all of this secrecy and creepy shit. And a weird 30 something bookseller who acts like he’s about 54, yet he’s oddly sexy and rich as hell.

I’m a little salty about this book because I don’t appreciate it when an author insults my entire generation based on a stereotype. Especially whenever the audience you’re writing for IS that generation. I even looked up to see and, YEP, she’s a Boomer, but whatever. Go ahead and talk about how self involved we are and how the MC is just not because she doesn’t get wrapped up in her cell phone and the like. Please. Based on this alone, I wouldn’t read another of her books.

That said. The story itself is boring. The author spends so much time telling us about conversations that happen in between the scenes she actually shows us. And they’re important damn scenes too.

There really wasn’t an ending to the story. It really felt like everything was happening to the main character instead of her actively making decisions to engage in the world around her.

It was better than Den of Vipers, at least there wasn’t anything going where it shouldn’t. But…no. I just didn’t like it. I won’t read another one because by the time I reached halfway, I was just over it and reading it to finish since someone did suggest this to me.

If any of you have read this series, please let me know if you disagree with me. I just was not engaged in this story at all.

Rating: 2 out of 5.