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
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.
Kian’s Focus by Misty Walker
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!
Lore by Alexandra Bracken
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. 🙂
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
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!
It’s Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake by Claire Christian
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.
Den of Vipers by K.A. Knight
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)
Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning
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.