Geo-Drifting in the Arkane World

One of the ways that the Arkane world differs from our world, is the main method of travel. Everyone in the Arkane world, Elentori and Arkane alike, are able to Geo-Drift. Geo-drifting isn’t a new concept, it’s just a new name for teleportation. Using a system of naturally occurring portals, the members of the Arkane world can seamlessly and quickly travel from any place on the planet and appear seconds later in another part of the world.

It takes a lot of training to learn how to properly use the portals, you cannot go somewhere that you cannot picture clearly, and doing so usually ends badly. Though not difficult to master once you’re taught, it usually takes a few tries with a guide before you’re able to get it right. They can take the form of naturally occurring circles in the woods, tunnels, some doorways, pools of water, alley’s are popular spots in larger cities. Any sort of liminal space can house a portal. Learning how to identify one is sometimes the hardest part. A Karhu can walk right through and never know, but a member of the Arkane world will always know.

It isn’t uncommon for Elentori (human passing mythological races; example: vampires, shifters, selfies, sirens, etc.) or Arkane (humans born with the ability to manipulate one of the six naturally occurring elements) to end up married to a Karhu (regular person), so there are ways to drift without being born into one of these two circles. There are several characters that I have written who Drift by means of a “Drift Ring”. These rings are specially designed by the Arkane peoples and contain at least one representative of each element. Common substances include, a gemstone of some kind, meteorite, opal, metal, and antler or bone. Abalone shells are also common.

Each element must be involved in some way in the construction of the ring, and then the finished product is spelled to ensure its usefulness. These Drift Rings can only be given out by the crone of whatever territory you happen to live in. The entire application process isn’t difficult, though it does take a lot of time, except in a few rare cases. Usually a couple will apply for their rings before departing for their honeymoon and often they are ready when they get back.

No one is quite certain when the portals started appearing, but the best information says somewhere around the sixth century. According to legend, until the seventeenth century, some portals led to other dimensions, though that is no longer possible, and there are not many left who know why. If there are, they usually refuse to speak on it, as it has been so long ago that their memories cannot be trusted.

I sort of wish that I could Drift, or that this was a real form of travel. I have friends in all corners of the United States and it would be great to be able to visit them as quick as nothing. It would be a lot cheaper and I wouldn’t miss so much of my California kids lives.

Well, that’s it for today. You guys have a great one and I’ll talk to you later. As always, behave.

Book Review – Suddenly Dirty by J A Low

This is another one brought to me by the Book of Faces. Seriously you guys, they’re starting to figure me out! There’s so many things on my TBR list right now! I think I just added fifteen new books last week. It’s a lot, but I’m not worried. It’s a lot of reading for me this fall.

So, Suddenly Dirty, you guys, this book was awesome. This is one of those rockstar trope, “forbidden” love type of stories. It has a HEA ending, of course, because it’s a romance novel. Sienna Hayes is one of the main characters and after a really rough vacation, she takes a job with her best friend as the stylist for the band Dirty Texas. Through a drunken mishap, she ends up in bed with Evan Wyld, one of the members of the band who has promised her best friend, the band’s publicist, that he won’t go after her. Sienna has been declared off limits, but Evan can’t seem to stay away from her. Nor can she stay away from him. It’s a really cute story with a lot of ups and downs and drama but the steamy scenes are just that….steamy and spicy AF! It’s a great read.

Book Club for Complicated House Plants

Did the book strike you as original?
Yes. I really enjoyed this book, and for all of the contrived, tropey stuff I’ve read before, this still managed to feel original. I really liked the world this author dunked me into with this story.

Which character did you feel the most sympathy for?
Sienna. I’ve been through some of the same relationship struggles that she has so I empathize pretty hard with her. There were a few times I just wanted to hug her.

Did you like the “heat” level of the book?
I did. At first I wasn’t sure, starting with the first time Evan and Sienna were together, it seemed a bit much a bit quickly, but after I got further into the story, it made a little more sense. I did really like how spicy it was.

If it’s part of a series, did this book compel you to read the next one?
Yes. I actually know who the next book is about, and I can’t wait to read it. It’s kind of been hell only reading so many first books in a series as I have been, I have A LOT of series to finish and I’m really excited about it. This one in particular actually. I can’t wait for the next story.

How did the setting impact the story?
I think that with part of the story taking place while they’re on tour, it definately makes for a different setting all the time. But with that always changing, it keeps the characters on their toes and keeps them from settling, which may be part of the problem actually. Once they get back from tour and can settle, it changes the dynamic. So yeah, the setting greatly impacts this story in a fun and dynamic way.

What was your favorite part of the book?
There is a moment, when they’re on tour, that Evan tries to make one of Sienna’s dreams come true. I love it. It’s sweet. I won’t go into too many details because it’s kind of sweet and I don’t want too many spoilers.

Which scene has stuck with you the most?
There is an argument that Evan and Sienna have, and it’s pretty intense. I think about that scene a lot. Both as a reader and as a writer. It was dynamic and so well written that I felt the intensity of the moment. It was difficult to say the least, and admirable as well. I want to emulate that kind of response in my own readers. It was powerful.

What surprised you most about the book?
How much I liked it. Like I said, that first scene between Evan and Sienna, it was a tiny bit off-putting, but not enough for me to put down the story. It was more like, how do we come back from that? I needed to know. I mean, it was what drew me to the book in the first place. It was part of that scene that was on the book of faces that drew me to it. I didn’t expect it to happen quite so quickly, and that took me by surprise. I’m glad I stuck with it though, because it was totally worth it.

How did your opinion of the book change as you read it?
Like I said, the first steamy interaction between Sienna and Evan had me a little confused as to what kind of book I was going to be reading, but it surprised me after that. It was good. I’m glad that I stuck with it, I really am. I liked it enough from what I read on the book of faces, and then I loved the beginning and was excited, I was a little hesitant when it came to the scene and it’s placement, as I’ve already stated. As the story progressed, it got better and I found myself wanting desperately to finish the page I was on so I could turn it and found out what happened next. By the end, I was excited for the extra content because I kept wanting to know what happened next.

Is this book overrated or underrated?
Personally, underrated. It does not get as much attention as it should. This author is amazing and I highly recommend them to everyone who likes a good dirty love story.

Ratings

Overall

This book deserved the five stars, even though it was a bit frustrating at times, it was totally worth it. It earned these stars. With every page.

Heat Level

This totally earned the heat level I gave it. It was amazing. Super amazing. And I loved every thigh clenching moment of it.

I really enjoyed this book, and if you like rockstar romance with a dirty twist, you will too. Check it out, you shouldn’t be disappointed. It’s good. That’s all from me this time, check it out, or anything else by this author, it’s worth your time, I promise. You will never see me promote something that isn’t four stars or more. Ever. Alright, I’m out. Have a great day my friends!

Book Review – Cheeky Royal by Nana Malone

This was another Book of Faces rec. I swear they target me so well, and I can’t even be mad anymore. Most of my ads are about books and coffee. It’s like they’ve finally figured me out. So I downloaded this book, the first in a six book series, on Kindle and I guess I should have paid more attention because this book was sooo good that as soon as I was done, I went looking for the next one, only to discover that she’d put only the first book on Kindle Unlimited, the rest were only available in physical copies and audiobook. You bet your ass I ordered that second book.

When searching for the cover for this book for the review, I found out I’m a little late to the party, I mean there’s six books in the series, I’m not surprised, but hey, there used to be different covers for this series, the old cover looked like this.

I honestly can’t tell you which one I prefer. So here’s what I understand about this series. There are two books per character. This one, and the next in the series, Cheeky King, are about Prince Sebastian. It’s a really good story. Which, after reading the Amazon reviews, I was worried I wouldn’t like the writing style. Then again, most of the reviews are people mad because it’s a “story ripped in half” like yeah…. it says Book One on the front of it, on both covers. That usually indicates to me that it’s part of a series, otherwise why include it? Others were mad that it ended on a cliffhanger and felt they should have been warned. I personally hate it if I’m warned of a cliffhanger. Don’t tell me that. Cliffhangers are powerful tools. Kind of like putting the first book on KU and then making me buy the rest. I’m gonna do it, but that was smart from the author perspective.

So, with those mixed reviews on Amazon, and knowing it’s a cliffhanger, and part of a series, here’s what I think.

Penny is a Royal Guard, just like the rest of her family, but it’s not where he passion lies. Her passion is in art. As a Royal Guard, she’s too clumsy, and she doesn’t have a very good opinion of herself. Prince Sebastian, the heir, has been “missing” for six months. No one is quite sure where he really is because he’s employed body doubles, who look enough like him to fool people, to travel the globe and keep up the drinking and womanizing that his reputation expects, only he isn’t going to do those things. He’s looking for his long lost brother. A brother he didn’t even know he had.

King Cassius assigns Penelope a special job, to go undercover, pose as Sebastian’s neighbor and convince him to come home before his birthday in six weeks. Penelope initially turns down the job, thinking she’s not the best one for it. After talking to her best friend, Ariel, and an argument with her boyfriend, she decides to take the assignment after all, if for no other reason than a change in scenery. The plan is simple, her and Ariel form a two man team to watch the Prince, keep him safe, and Penelope has to convince him to come home, all without him realizing who she is. She goes by the name Len, something her parents used to call her when she was young, and moves in next door.

It’s a romance, so hijinks ensue and there’s a lot of ups and downs. They’re both trying to resist the romance of it all for their own reasons. Sebastian is trying to track down his brother and convince him to come back to the Winston Isles. Penelope is a Royal Guard, even though she breaks up with her boyfriend (for a scandalous reason i might add!), she can’t let herself get close to the Prince for obvious reasons. It was good. Really good. I highly recommend, but do yourself a favor, order the second book before you start the first otherwise you’ll be stuck in limbo while you wait for it!

Book Club for Complicated House Plants

Did you think think the first sentence of the book was effective?
Oh yeah. It sets us up perfectly. In one sentence, we understand a little bit about the relationship she has with her parents, and how other people see her. It sets us up to understand her low self-confidence.

How do you feel about the books pacing?
The pacing was good. I felt like it went at the speed it was supposed to go at.

Did you feel the narrator of this book was reliable?
I really liked the dual POV. I think that Sebastian and Penelope were able to give us the reality as they saw it, and that was helpful so that the reader understood what was going on.

Was there a moment when you disagreed with the protagonist’s decisions?
Yes. It’s toward the end of the book, and they both decide they have to tell each other the truth. But they keep letting themselves put it off. They should have had the difficult conversation, even if they didn’t want to.

Did you guess the ending of the book?
I did not see that coming. If you guessed it, you’re a wizard, because I didn’t see it coming at all.

Did you race to the end or was it more of a slow burn?
I’m not gonna lie. I raced there. It was so good I didn’t want to put it down. I kept wanting to know what happened next.

Which character did you like best?
If I’m being completely honest, as much as I loved the two main characters, Sebastian more than Penelope but only a little bit, my favorite character was Ariel. She’s such a great friend. She’s always got Penelope’s back. She’s amazing in her own right as well and that makes me super happy.

Are there any characters you’d like to deliver a lecture to?
Yes. Penelope’s brother Michael and his best friend Robert. They need a very stern talking too, starting with HOW DARE YOU! on so many counts.

Did you like the “heat” level of the book?
Please excuse me while I pull out a fan because damn. It was good. I liked it, and it didn’t feel forced or put in for shock value or anything else. It was good for the story. Especially given what the characters were feeling.

Was the couple’s connection believable?
Yes. On a number of levels. It’s cute that they both remember one another from childhood, even if it’s vaguely. Then to have the relationship they do later on in the book. I love that they start as friends, they encourage each other in their passions, it’s simple. Easy. Without the other titles hanging over their heads. I hope that they remember that after their secrets are revealed.

Well, that’s all I’ve got this time around folks. Trust me, after I get the second book, I’ll let you know how that one was too. I can’t wait. I’m sure this is a series that I will read every book for. I hope you enjoyed this review. Tune in next week for another. Have a fantastic day my dears!

Book Review – Firefighter Griffin by Zoe Chant

This is another one of those books that I saw on the book of faces and just had to read. Normally, I don’t read anything in the middle of a series if I know it’s the middle of a series, but this one I made an exception for. I got drawn in by the little boy turning into a lion, climbing a tree, and getting stuck and the poor mom freaking out. So, I sought out the third book in the Fire and Rescue Shifter’s series by Zoe Chant and I’m so glad that I did. It was awesome.

Griff MacCormick is a Scottish shifter who can’t shift. He decides to check out the “prank call” his coworker thinks is just kids messing around. Griff knows better. He had been part of Team Alpha, a fire and rescue squad made entirely of shifters, until something happened to his leg and he couldn’t do it anymore. He can still hear other shifters in his head, and see them, but he can’t shift himself, which is a disappointment.

But, he shows up at Hayley Parker’s house anyway after his shift, which is just after the call comes in, and gets her son Danny down out of the tree. Hayley is NOT a shifter, didn’t even know they were a thing! When Griff tells her that he’s happy she’s moved to the UK from California, since US based Shifters aren’t well protected but the Royal Family make certain that shifters in the UK have some protections. I think the best line I read in the early part of this book is about the Royal family itself, who apparently have been Dragon shifters since the War of the Roses. I loved that. It was an interesting bit of world building that I found humorous.

Griff helps Hayley with Danny. He helps Danny understand what’s happening to him, and how to shift back and forth. He isn’t sure what to do about the fact that Hayley is his mate but there’s something wrong with him, he cannot have her. It’s stressful for both of them. It’s a great book though, filled with lots of colorful characters. It was a thrill to read and I really want to read the rest of the series now. Maybe this winter I will.

Book Club for Complicated House Plants

Did you decide right away if you liked or disliked the book?
Based on the little bit I had read in the preview on the book of faces, I knew I was going to like this. I was so right. From the very beginning it was amazing and everything I could have hoped for. It was sooo good.

What drew you in?
It was the idea that there were shifters and no one knew about them. I’m a sucker for shifters and vampires and paranormal of any kind. I mean I write it so clearly I enjoy it, but I am a sucker for that kind of thing specifically. I loved the idea that someone who was falling apart, was willing to give of themselves to help someone else. I love that.

Who was your favorite character?
John Doe. Hands down. He’s not even a main character but our introduction to him in this book, is him washing dishes while also cooking because he works with water. He hates the voice of the dishwasher and prefers to ask the water nicely for help. I love that. Keep in mind that I haven’t read the rest of the series, just this book, and I loved that that was my first glimpse of him. He’s a fantastic friend to Griff and I just love him okay?

Who was your least favorite character?
Reiner Ljonsson. He could have had a happy relationship with his son, and I’m all for people coming back later to try to have something to do with their kids as long as it’s for the right reasons. His reasoning was flawed and I hated that. It wasn’t okay.

Could you relate to any of the character?
Hayley was extremely relatable. As the mother of six kids, I can’t imagine what my reaction would be to finding out they could shift. And the way she tackles the whole new world that she’s exposed to, that’s goals right there. I loved it. She was awesome, strong, brave, and level headed. It gave me a sort of in to this world that I knew nothing about.

Did you have a favorite line or chapter?
The first time John Doe meets Hayley, it’s kind of a tense situation as everyone from Team Alpha is there and something is wrong with Griff. Hayley is appropriately freaked out. Then John comes in the door, and he is freaking HUGE. He’s a sea dragon in human form. He’s not small. But he’s the epitome of teddy bear. This is what he says when he first encounters her.

He Sank gracefully to one knee in front of her, bowing his head. “My Lady. I am the Walker-Above-Wave, Knight-Poet of the First Water, Guardian of the Pearl Throne, Seeker of the Emperor-in-Absence, Firefighter of the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, and Griffin’s sworn Oath-Brother. If by my life or my death I can serve you, I will.”

John Doe, Firefighter Griffin by Zoe Chant.

I remember calling a friend and being like YOU HAVE TO HEAR THIS! If this was not the best character introduction I have ever heard, I don’t know what to tell you.

Did you think the couple in the book were a good match?
I did. I love the “true mates/soulmates” trope. I use it in my own writing sometimes. And I love that. In addition to the one perfect mate thing, Griff and Hayley got along well. They wanted similar things and it was easy to see why they would be compatible. As a single mom, I loved that Griff took a shine to Danny immediately and wanted what was best for him, even if he didn’t like it personally.

What was the saddest part of the book?
The fight for dominance between Reiner and Griffin. It was heart breaking because it put Griff into an impossible situation where he knew he would fail, but he had to do it. It hurt my heart so much.

If you could ask the author a question, what would it be?
All of my questions would be John Doe based. How did she create him? How did she decide on his titles? He’s my favorite and this isn’t even his book.

How did you feel about the ending?
The ending fit the book. I saw it coming, but anyone who knows anything about mythology probably would. It was predictable in the best possible way and I loved it! I wouldn’t trade it for something else. It was perfect for the story.

Ratings

Overall Rating

I gave this book five stars. It lived up to every single expectation that I had after reading the preview. It was amazing and I’m so glad that the book of faces recommended it.

Heat Level

I gave this four flames for the heat level. It wasn’t that the heat wasn’t there, it’s just that there wasn’t a lot of it. There are so many other things going on in this book that the steamy romance part got put on the back burner somewhat for the characters. They are dealing with a lot. Though the sexual tension between them is insane and when they do give in, it’s hawt! Very much so. But that’s why there’s only four flames. It was good though.

Well, that’s all for me this week folks. Check out the Fire and Rescue Shifter’s series. Trust me. It’s amazing. I have the next book on my list soon, it’s about John Doe after all, so you know I have to read it. 🙂

Book Review – Curvy Girls Can’t Date Quarterbacks by Kelsie Stelting

I really enjoyed this book. It was the first YA book I’ve read in months, and it felt like it, but it was really really good. Then again, when you read a YA book after reading several romance novels that border on erotica, some dark romance, and write steamy paranormal…. reading any YA is gonna be noticeable.
The main characters are all plus size girls and it’s just as much about empowerment as it is the relationship between the main characters, Aurora “Rory” Hutton and Beckett Langley. It also actively tackles the experience of being diagnosed with PCOS, which I feel is SUPER important.
For those of you who don’t already know, PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and has a lot of side effects that women in general find difficult to live with. For a teenager with a super health-conscious mother who obsesses about their weight, I can’t imagine the stress of that. But that’s exactly what Rory deals with on a regular basis. Plus the bullying at school for not being model thin. Let’s be real, High School sucks!

I did really enjoy this book. I loved watching a character who was so frustrated and lonely, gain some understanding of what was happening with her body, and make some great friends who really did love her for who she was. People who saw past what other people critiqued and saw it as simply being human. She finds a romance that we all would have wished for in high school, someone who can see the real you, and embraces that, no matter what anyone else thinks.

Book Club for Complicated House Plants

Curvy Girls Can’t Date Quarterbacks is one of the best books I’ve read recently. I read it on my Kindle as part of the Kindle Unlimited, and it’s the first in a series, of which I intend to read a few more. I recommend them for anyone that wants a fairy tale story with real life elements that include “real” people and “real” problems.

Did you decide right away if you liked or disliked the book?
It took a little bit for me to decide actually. I didn’t immediately hate it, but I didn’t have a strong opinion either way for the first couple of chapters. Which I guess is normal for me, I try to refrain judgement before the world building is set up. I did really like it though, read it rather quickly.

What drew you in?
It was the real life approach very quickly. The beginning was horrifying from the MC’s perspective and I had to keep reading to see what the hell was going on. The immediate addition of complicated real world issues, like PCOS, and the mother’s reaction to finding out, was good. It kept me going.

Who was your favorite character?
Honestly? Beckett Langley. He saw Rory before the bet happened. So for him, everything was real, and important. There were no high stakes for him, just a girl he liked and he went for it. That was it.

Who was your least favorite character?
Oh do I have words for the mother. I mean, she eventually pulls her head out of her ass, but forcing your kid to do a pregnancy test just because they’ve gained a little weight? Especially when they don’t have a lot of friends, let alone guys that they spend time with outside of family…. You’re killing me. You’re doing irreversible harm. And then you sent her to the doctor ALONE to have the testing done? Then you kept harping on her weight like it was the most important thing on the planet? Seriously? You’re a high school teacher, you KNOW how mean kids are, and you acted like that at home too? Ugh. Just ugh. I mean, I think the mom did more emotional damage to Rory than the school bullies did, it’s almost expected of the popular snotty girls, you know the ones, but from your own mom? That was probably a harder pill to swallow.

Did you have a favorite line or chapter?
Not so much a favorite line as a part of the book. After the interaction with the mean girls in health class, where Rory sticks up for herself and anyone else in class like her that is too afraid to speak, the other girls pull her into the AV room, which is amazing. She starts this awesome friendship with these people who are grateful to her for sticking up for them, and they want to help her win this stupid bet. It’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship. All of their antics and hangouts were my favorite. Everyone should have a best friend.

Did any part of the book elicit a strong emotional reaction?
Dude yes. There is this part, after Rory and Beckett start hanging out more, and he invites her to sit with him at lunch, and she does. Except, she used to eat lunch every day in the AV room with her friends. So there‘s this rift that starts growing within the friend group because Rory has Beckett and the friends think she doesn’t need them anymore, and she thinks that their friendship was too good to be true and now that they’ve achieved the goal they set out for, the friendship is over. I felt so sad at that part. I was happy it got worked out, but oh, that part was sad AF to me.

What was your least favorite part of the book?
An honest to goodness tie between the first couple pages and the big reveal by the mean girls of the bet that started everything. It was well written, the issue was more second hand embarrassment. Totally warranted for the storyline though.

Did you find the plot predictable?
Only as predictable as a romance goes. I write them, so I’m familiar with the formula that all romance stories follow, even sort of loosely. It did surprise me along the way though. I knew what was coming according to the standard of the genre, but the way it was written was fresh to me. It didn’t feel like I’d read six or seven harlequin novels in a row. I can’t do that because they get too predictable.

Would you recommend this book to anyone?
Everyone. Especially high schoolers. Read it. Read the series, I’m going to.

How did you feel about the ending?
I loved it. I felt like it fit the story well. It made me want to read the rest of the series. 🙂 For an author I’d never read before, I was an instant fan.

Rating:

I gave this book 5 stars. It was exactly what I expected and I loved it. I read it rather quickly, and at no point did I have to put it down and give myself some space due to writing style, content, any of it. I loved that the characters felt real and not flat, which sometimes happens with secondary characters. It was nice that they all felt like they wanted me to think they were the main character. I loved that.

Well, I’m out for now. I’ll see you next Thursday for the next review! Stay awesome my loves!

Book Review – Shattered Altar by Nicole Fox

Book Cover for Shattered Altar by Nicole Fox

I have never been so angry to have read something on my Kindle app rather than in a physical book before. When I tell you that I wanted so badly to throw my phone when I got to the cliffhanger ending of this book….I yelled in frustration, making the baby in the apartment above me start crying. And all I could think was “same baby, same.”

This book was fantastic. Shattered Altar by Nicole Fox, I have never clicked on a sequel so fast in my life. Just when you think everything might be okay, boom! Nope. So, I’m going to recommend this book, and trust me, it’s gonna end up in time out. I highly recommend getting a physical copy of it just to be able to put it in book time out. I swear.

Shattered Altar is about a young woman, Olivia, who’s on her way home from New York to see her family for the holidays. Well, as in usual fashion, her flight gets delayed and she goes off in search of coffee. A stranger sits down next to her at the cafe in the airport and they get to talking. Dude is sexy and she starts thinking that it might not be so bad to live a little like her sister Mia urges her to do. Aleksandr, or Aleks as he prefers to be called, takes her to find good coffee in the airport since they’re on the same delayed flight. Though I wasn’t sure how 5 hours passed so quickly, the sexual tension between Olivia and Aleks was obvious. As soon as we got to his POV, I knew he couldn’t be trusted, he stated as much, but as the reader, I didn’t know why.

This book is filled with ups and downs and twists and turns and the frustration on both Aleks and Olivia’s parts that comes with falling for someone you shouldn’t. There’s forced marriage, blackmail, intrigue, missing persons who aren’t actually missing, and possibly an accidental pregnancy. It’s so good. You have to go read it.

Book Club for Complicated House Plants

What was your favorite part of the book?
My favorite part of the book was the beginning and the meet-cute. It was so surreal and for a moment I thought we were edging into the way I had originally written the beginning of Blood Song, so it was a bit trippy for me. It changed quickly after that so there wasn’t any chance of it being anywhere close to the same story, but I was drawn right in. I also really enjoyed the scenes at the lake.

Did you race to the end or was it a slow burn?
I read this book in just a couple of days. I could have finished it last night but I watched a couple episodes of a show with my kids instead. This book sucks you in and keeps you reading to find out what will happen next.

Would you want to read another book by this author?
I have already downloaded the sequel and want to type this as quickly as possible so I can get back to it. Nicole Fox seems to have quite the backlist going and I want to devour them all. Especially if they are as good as this one.

How does the book title work in relation to the books contents?
At first I was confused at how the title related to the story, but now that I’ve finished the book, it makes so much sense, and I already know how the second one will relate to the story I’m imagining. I cannot wait, I don’t think I’ve mentioned yet how much I want to read the sequel…and it’s not on the summer reading list you guys!

Who do you most want to read this book?
Stephanie of course. She would love this. Otherwise, anyone who loves the mafia don trope, you will love this. If you’re afraid of the steamy or the spice, stay away, but if not, read this. Please. Add it to your summer reading list. I promise you won’t regret it.

Are there lingering questions from the book you’re still thinking about?
So many. What will Aleks reaction be to finding out that Olivia is gone? What new challenges will Olivia face now that she’s been taken somewhere “Safe”? What is going to happen to the person that helped Olivia escape? Are Olivia’s suspicions confirmed? Will Aleks and Olivia admit their true feelings for one another? As you can see, I have a lot of questions.

Which characters did you like best?
I absolutely love Olivia and Aleks. I love watching them try to fight what’s right in front of them for obvious and logical reasons. Too bad love doesn’t care about logic. I also really enjoyed Olivia’s sister Mia and Aleks best friend, Demyen. I think he’s the perfect foil for Aleks. He calls him on his bull and isn’t afraid of him, though he respects him not only as the Bratva Don he is, but as a friend and that is much more important in that line of work, one would think.

Did you like the heat level of this book?
Dude yes. I loved it. My favorite part of it, nothing was forced or coerced. It was all done willingly. There was no fraud involved in the spicy scenes. The heat level was fabulous.

Was the couple’s connection believable? If so, at what point did they click for you?
Okay, I was a sucker for them in the beginning, and fell head long into their connection. There was obvious chemistry happening between them. After the startling turn of events, I liked that they both fought that obvious chemistry and that Aleks never used his position of power over Olivia to get anything sexual from her, not even a kiss. I liked that the internal struggle of falling for someone you had no business falling for was present and that they fought it. I like the inclusion of shame for Olivia that came with every time she gave in just a little bit, or thought about it. It made it more real. More believable. I also liked that every time they fought, a little more of their true feelings came to the surface.

What do you think happens to the leads after the ending?
I think that after Aleks finds out that Olivia is gone, heads will roll, literally and figuratively. Especially after he finds out where she ended up. I think that Olivia is going to quickly realize that Aleks was telling the truth when he said he was trying to keep her safe and that running was probably the worst idea she’s ever had.

Ratings

I gave this book 5 stars because obviously I wanted to throw it at the awall and it needed a book time out so often. The writing was great, I enjoyed the story, and very mjuch look forward to reading more of Nicole Fox’s work.

Five Stars

This book got a 5 flame heat rating. The spice was on point, just enough detail to really make it believable, but not too much graphic descirption to cross over into erotica areas. Also, it was never coerced or forced and that made all the difference for me. Despite everything, if it ever had been, that would have crossed too many lines for Aleks to be a redeemable character in my book.

Five Flames

Okay, so that’s the review for Shattered Altar. Read it. Enjoy it. Be prepared to throw it at the end. Seriously. Do yourself a favor, get the second book as well, because you’re going to want to tstart that one as soon as you’re done with the first one. I’m out for today, as always my beautiful people, be safe, drink your water, don’t eat yellow snow, and have an adventure, even if it’s just on the pages of a book while you enjoy the nice weather.

Bye Bye Butterfly

Book Review – Vipers and Virtuosos by Sav. R. Miller

Vipers and Virtuosos Aesthetic

So I wanted to read Promises and Pomegranates by Sav R Miller, because I love all things Hades and Persephone. I’m super behind on Lore Olympus right now (And if you haven’t checked that out on WebToon then you should. Rachel Smythe is amazing you guys. It’s also available on Amazon in paperback and hardback.) Anyway, so I wanted to read that. I’d seen it on BookTok, and pretty much everywhere in the reading groups I’m part of on the book of faces. However, because I’m sometimes every bit the blonde I was born, despite my current hair color, I downloaded Vipers and Virtuosos before I downloaded the right one. In my defense, I was looking at like seven different books at the time. I still haven’t read Promises and Pomegranates yet, but it is on my list.

Vipers and Virtuosos is a modern retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice. I’ll be completely honest, as much as I love mythology from every culture, this was not a story I remembered a lot of. I honestly remembered only one or two facts, but they didn’t make a whole lot of sense. I knew Orpheus went to get Eurydice from the Underworld and he failed because he looked back, but that was it. I couldn’t remember why he went or why he wasn’t supposed to look back. So, I looked up the myth, this morning, after finishing the book, and before writing this. So, to sum it up quickly, I’ll tell you the myth so you don’t have to look.

Essentially, Orpheus is believed to be the son of Apollo and the Muse Calliope. He’s extremely gifted with music, mastering the Lyre at a very young age. One day he’s playing near a river and a crowd gathers to hear him. Among the crowd is a wood nymph named Eurydice. The two fall in love, and hardly spend a day apart. Eventually they decide to get married. Hymenaios, the god of marriage, presides over the vows and everyone celebrates until it starts getting dark. As the couple leaves the feast, they are set upon by Aristaeus, a Shepard who had wanted to claim Eurydice for his own. His plan was to kill Orpheus and then take the girl (which in my opinion is just piss poor planning on his part). Anyway, Orpheus and Eurydice run away from him, though eventually she trips and when Orpheus looks back he notices two things. The first, that Aristaeus is no long following them and second, that Eurydice looks almost gray. She’d accidentally stepped into a vipers nest as they ran and was bitten. Aristaeus saw it happen and gave up, cursing his luck and Orpheus.

Orpheus is so distraught when his wife dies that he decides he’s going to go to the Underworld and plead his case to get Hades to give her back. So, armed with his Lyre and his voice (and his father convincing Hades to at least hear him out), he heads into the Underworld to find Hades and Persephone. After explaining the situation to them, Hades openly weeps, Persephone’s heart melts, even Cerberus isn’t unaffected. Hades agrees that he can have Eurydice back. All Orpheus has to do is to leave the Underworld and she will follow him. Hades warns him not to look back until she reaches the light, or all will be lost. Orpheus, despite hearing his wife’s footsteps behind him and his overwhelming desire to see her, manages to make it to the light. However, when he looks back to hug his wife, she is still in the shadow and is pulled back to the Underworld.

When Orpheus tries to go and speak with Hades a second time, his path is blocked by Hermes, who was sent by Zeus to deny him entry. Orpheus wanders around singing terribly sad songs after that and basically not talking to anyone. He refuses the advances of other women, and only finds peace while he rests on a rock. One day, he’s resting on a rock when he’s set upon by a group of scorned women who are upset with him for not accepting their advances. They chop him into little pieces and toss him and his lyre into the river. His head and his lyre make it to Lesvos where he is given a proper burial by the Muses who reside there. His spirit however, is reunited with Eurydice in the Underworld.

Orpheus and Eurydice (1830), oil on canvas by Carl Andrea’s August Goos

Not exactly the happy ending he had in mind I think. So, armed with that knowledge, let’s get into Vipers and Virtuosos shall we? Look, be warned of spoilers and such going forward, like always, but this time there are Trigger Warnings for this book as well. As much as I loved it, there are people out there who will most likely have some triggering moments and I would hate for that to happen because I recommended a book without telling you. So, best I can figure, these are the Trigger Warnings you need to watch out for: Kidnapping, Stalking, Brutal attacks, Sexual Assault (though only accused and in vague details, everything that happens on screen (so to speak) is consensual).

Book Cover for Vipers and Virtuosos by Sav R. Miller

Aiden James is hailed as the “Modern Day Orpheus”. The son of a washed up pop star and a record executive, he started playing guitar at a young age and is quite popular. At a gala event, he bids on Riley Kelley, though he doesn’t know her name.

Riley Kelley was brutally attacked, and she doesn’t remember much about it, but the scars that she still bears because of it. Her mother died that night, and her older brother Boyd is the one who takes her in. Two years after the attack, she goes to New York with her school and ends up attending a live auction gala with her roommates. She didn’t want to go, but somehow manages to catch the attention of Aiden, who buys her for the rest of the night.

Instead of the night he’d planned, Aiden and Riley spend time together hanging out. He’s quickly growing attached to her, and she to him. They end up at a tattoo parlor, and though Riley won’t tell him her real name, they both end up with tattoos that represent the nickname he’s given her. Riley’s gets the word “Angel” on her thigh near her scar, and he gets a halo on his thumb. Though Aiden is covered in tattoos, this is Riley’s first. After the tattoos are finished, Aiden and Riley end up dipping their toes into a sexual relationship, though they do not go too far and Riley runs away afterward. She’s freaked out because of past trauma that she can’t remember.

Aiden is hopeful he can find her the next day, and Riley takes off back home to Maine. Both find out that day that Aiden has been accused of sexually assaulting Riley, though it wasn’t Riley that made the accusation. Riley wants to come forward to clear Aiden’s name, but her brother warns her that should she do that, she could draw the attention of the people that attacked her two years prior. She’s bound to her silence, even though it will ruin Aiden’s life. Eventually, she fakes her death and runs away.

Three years later, Aiden catches up to her in the small town in Colorado where she’s been hiding out from her past. He intends to make her pay for ruining his life, and part of her knows she deserves it, though she didn’t make the initial accusation, and no one can figure out who did. Though his intent is to stalk her and ruin her, Aiden doesn’t count on falling in love with her, or she for him and that changes everything.

Orpheus and Eurydice Aesthetic Collage (credit unknown)

Book Club for Complicated House Plants

Is this genre (Dark Romance) something you read a lot?
Not often, but I don’t mind it. I actually enjoy it from time to time and this book is a wonderful example of the genre.

What did you think about the modern retelling of the myth?
Not knowing much about the myth while I read, kept me wondering what was going to happen in the story. I was curious how everything would pan out. After reading the myth, I’m glad that both have a happy ending, even if they end a different way from one another. I love it. I think that Aiden definitely embodied Orpheus and his and Riley’s feelings for one another definitely resemble the all consuming obsessive love that Orpheus and Eurydice shared.

What was your favorite part of the book?
I love the initial meeting of Aiden and Riley. It’s the perfect meet-cute and sets up the rest of the story wonderfully. I love that they both seem to come alive in one another’s presence. They both have their demons but somehow those burdens seem lighter when they’re together. As a fangirl, it’s every fan fiction my teenage self ever wrote. The idea that you could meet your celebrity crush and have an amazing time with them. Ugh, swoon worthy. Which makes everything afterward so much more tragic.

Did you race to the end or was it more of a slowburn?
I raced to the end. I finished this book in three days. I loved it. I kept checking the page count to see how much room was left to solve the riddles and problems that kept creeping up. I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next and see how the relationship between Aiden and Riley would progress. There were other relationships I wanted to see develop as well, but that was the main draw.

How does the books title work in relation to the books contents?
I love the combination of the original myth (vipers) and the story now. It worked so well. It was catchy, and maybe that’s why I chose it by mistake, the title was intriguing. What did the two have in common? Titling a book is hard, it worked through probably four or five different working titles before settling on the title of my first book, so I get it. I loved it. And it works so well with the other titles in the series.

How did the story impact you? Do you think you’ll remember it in a few months or years?
I think I will. I love mythology, though I’m more familiar with Celtic and Norse mythology these days, I did start with Greek and Roman myths. I also love retellings, of anything. A couple of weeks ago I did a review of Thorns and Roses, which is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast (one of my favorites) and it was great. On my TBR list, is a retelling of Peter Pan. So yeah, I love them. I think that I will remember this one. For quite awhile. I plan to buy this entire series in paperback because the covers are so beautiful and I think one of my eldest daughters (who is almost 18) would love this series. Just maybe not for a couple more years. This is one that I will be recommending to people.

What are your thoughts on the books structure? Did it serve the story well or did it hinder it?
The structure worked perfectly. You start during the attack on Riley, so while she doesn’t remember it, the reader has an idea at least of what happened and why she’s so skittish of everything. The back and forth chapters from Riley and Aiden’s perspective also help a lot. You get to see into his head, and hers, throughout everything and watch as their emotions and feelings change and how they mentally overcome their demons, or embrace them, as the situations occur. I think that if it was set up differently, something would be lost.

Did you like the “Heat” level of this book?
This is a dark romance, but the heat level, my god. It was burning and I loved it. As someone who enjoys erotica from time to time, it bordered that line very closely at certain parts, but the detail was perfect for the scenes. It worked so well, and was so steamy, that sometimes I put it down if I was in public. I read the most eroticly explicit fan fiction in public without batting an eye, but there were a few times that I switched to playing a game on my phone instead while I was reading this, but I couldn’t wait to pick it back up.

Did this book compel you to read the others in the series?
Most certainly. There are currently four books and while they are all standalone, I loved it. I want more of this. And apparently there are three other books that aren’t part of the Monsters and Muses series and I can’t wait to read those as well. That’s six books added to the TBR pile that’s constantly growing. I’m pretty sure I caught glimpses of the “Hades” character in this book and now I want to go read that to see if I’m right.

Is the couple’s connection believable? At what point did they click for you?
I think it is. Now if this situation happened in real life and not fiction, there would be so many red flags, however in a fictional situation, it was amazing. I also love that therapy is mentioned more than once and is something that Riley gets. It helps that mental health is portrayed in a good light as much as her and Aiden accept their demons. I love that trend that I’m starting to see in modern fiction, as someone who sees a therapist regularly, I’m happy to see that. So yes, in a fictional world, they click immediately and their relationship works. Now, again, Riley isn’t guilty of what Aiden thinks she is, so as that realization sets in, his original plans are abandoned, though she’s content to let him ruin her in ways she can’t even fathom. And maybe in the end he does, just not the way he intended.

Graphic Designer Unknown.

Ratings

Five star rating

I gave this book 5 stars. I cannot find anything wrong with it at all. The story was interesting and kept my attention well. It was a quick read, or at least I devoured it because it was well written. The structure works, and the author doesn’t sugar coat the bad traits these characters have. They aptly see themselves as monsters and know that these desires aren’t normal. I love that. It added just enough realism to make this story believable. I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys Dark Romance and Retellings of Myths. I now want to read everything from this author.

Five Flame Heat Rating

This book gets the highest heat level available to me. As I previously stated, the heat level in this book is off the charts. So hot, and so well written. Again, the believability of these characters and their situations is amazing. I love how well this was done. The intimate scenes didn’t detract from the story in any way, in fact I feel like they enhanced them. They added something more to the dynamic as things progressed between them. It was easy to believe that if the characters could just get beyond the past hurts they both carried that they’d make a very happy couple.

Vipers and Virtuosos Aesthetic Picture from Pinterest

Okay this has been quite a long review, I’m not sorry for that. I highly recommend it! You guys, if the trigger warnings are something you can handle, and you like Dark Romance, and a little bit of enemies to lovers, my god, do yourself a favor and read this. At the time of writing this, it’s available on Kindle Unlimited, which is where I read it, and also in other formats. I will be ordering it and the others in the series to sit on my shelf and be beautiful and so I can hand it out to people that need to read it. Okay, I’m out of here, enjoy your Thursday. As always, be safe, drink your water, don’t eat yellow snow, and have lots of adventures!

Bye Bye Butterfly

Book Review – The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Book Cover: A Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

I was challenged by Stephanie, my cohort in the Book Club for Complicated House Plants, to read her favorite book and then we’d watch the movie together. Then my daughter Xe (pronounced: zay) came to stay with me for a few months. Upon learning I was reading The Glass Castle, she got really really excited because it is also one of her favorite books. She was unaware there was a movie, so we invited her along to be part of this adventure with us.

Movie Poster for the feature film based off of the book A Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

The Glass Castle is a memoir by Jeannette Walls that details her life growing up with her siblings, Brian, Lori, & Maureen and her parents Rose Mary and Rex Walls. It tells the story of their life growing up in the deserts of California, Arizona, and Texas before moving East to West Virginia. With parents who are always a little out of touch with reality, the kids grow up a little out of the normal parameters that we think of today. Struggling to make ends meet and almost consistently wondering where their next meal will come from, it takes a toll on the children.

An excerpt from the book A Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.

Book Club for Complicated House Plants

Book Club for Complicated House Plants

Rex and Rose Mary Walls were unconventional parents, but were they abusive? Why or why not?
S: Does it have to be a yes or no question? Can it be both? Were they abusive? I would say no. They never struck their children, but did they put them in situations that required them to find different solutions? Yes. They taught them to fend for themselves; survival of the fittest. But are they also traumatized from their childhood? Yes, there’s some PTSD going on. But all in all it made them stronger adults.
A: Yes. Mostly because they were neglectful at the very least. They wanted what was best for their kids, but refused to do anything that would actually better them. Always on the road toward the next adventure, regardless of whether or not the kids had exactly what they needed. Though the kids were smart, they lacked the basic necessities on regular occasions.
X: Oh, yes. There’s not even a question about that cause how do you let your child burn making hot dogs when they’re three? Your three year old shouldn’t be anywhere near the stove. And when they’re visiting Rex’s mom, the scene with the brother [Brian] there was certainly some abuse there. He let his kids stay with her?

Why does Jeannette see more ambiguity in her upbringing than her siblings do?
S: I think because she had the closest relationship with their Dad. Seeing all the things he did and loving him through his addiction, and wanting to do better in her adult life. But even as an adult she still didn’t know how to do that.
A: I think it’s because she tried to see the best in her parents, instead of focusing solely on what they lacked. It gave her a bit more perspective when it came to her parents, but I agree, she struggled with that into adulthood.
X: She was very close with her dad, she saw more of the good side of him than her siblings did. Her relationship with her mom wasn’t as close as the one with her dad, but even then I think she was very understanding when her parents did do stuff wrong.

Many children grow up in poverty and have parents that abuse substances. Why were the Walls children able to rise out of their circumstances?
S: Because living through situations like that as a child teaches you how not to be. It makes you want to better your life so you don’t have to live the same way or you don’t have to put your children through the things that you encountered.
A: I think they saw their parents as a beautiful example of what not to do. That’s how I did it when it came to my dad’s drinking.
X: I think they were able to rise out of their circumstances because they saw their dad drinking a lot and didn’t like it. So they knew what not to do when they got older. They always stuck together too.

How do you think you would have reacted to being raised like a Walls? How would it change your perspective or approach to life?
S: I don’t think it would change so much seeing as how I grew up similarly to them. I wasn’t as nomadic, but at the same time to be on the poverty level that they were on, it makes me a little more grateful for the things that I have today.
A: I think I’d value things like running water, food whenever I wanted it, and a comfortable bed a lot more. Especially indoor plumbing. I think the reaction of Lori and Jeannette when they first get the apartment in New York is perfectly described as a paradise to them where as we might see it as sub-par from our own perspectives.
X: I don’t even know. I can’t imagine if my life had been like that. I probably would have felt bad about myself, even if that was selfish. I would definitely appreciate things more because I feel like I take a lot of things for granted.

Why did the parents follow their children to New York? Why did the children keep seeing them?
S: Because they’re a family and families stick together no matter how messed up they may be. Rex and Rose Mary love their kids and wanted to know that they were okay as adults as well.
A: I think that they just wanted to be with their kids. I agree that they’re a family, and family sticks together. Once all the kids were in New York, it was only a matter of time before they burned out their connections in Welch and joined them in New York.
X: I feel like just as much as the kids needed them when they were younger, they needed them as well. They obviously love their kids, and even though they abused them when they were younger, a parent loves their kids. I think that they wanted to support their kids.

Discuss Rose Mary Walls. What did you think about her description of herself as an “excitement addict”?
S: I don’t think she’s so much an excitement addict as she was selfish with her own wants. And that did portray her as an adventurous person, but I feel like that adventure was forced by Rex not keeping a job and her not working and them being forced to Skedaddle all the time.
A: I don’t think that she was an excitement addict so much as she loved her husband. It was one of those things she told herself so that she could continue being positive.
X: I think it’s not as much excitement, as she liked the adrenaline. You could see it when her and Rex would get into these big arguments that right after they’d be in love again.

How did the new scenes of Jeannette as an adult square with your read of her from the book?
S: Her portrayal between the book and the movie was not equal in any way. I think she was more sheltered and reluctant and not as eager to claim her parents as hers. I think in the movie maybe the people she was around influenced her feelings about her parents than in the book.
A: I felt like they were slightly disjointed. Like they didn’t quite fit. Like the target version of something versus the Walmart version. You have to look closely to find the difference but it’s there. She was quieter in the book, kept her head down and worked her way out of her situation through the determination of sheer will.
X: In the book I feel like she’s not as outgoing as the movie makes it out. I feel like she’s a little more reserved. And I think in the book it shows when she first sees her mom digging in the dumpster that she’s embarrassed of her parents.

How did the scenes of Jeannette as an adult change your perspective of her or her relationship with her family? Did it work for you? Why or why not?
S: It did to a certain extent. I feel like in the book her and her siblings were a lot closer than they were in the movie. They at least communicated more than they appeared to in the movie.
A: The movie made her seem a little more stuck up than in the book. You could see she felt affection toward her family, but the book explains it so much better. It was different.
X: Like Steph said, they were definitely a lot closer in the book and you saw how their relationship from childhood to adult hood grew and it was probably even bigger because they share that trauma. I feel like the movie showed them as separated and they hardly saw each other. I wish they had showed the relationship with the kids more than the relationship with the dad because the relationship with her siblings was a lot bigger.

The movie centers on Jeannette’s relationship with her father in particular. Why did they have a special relationship?
S: I feel like because she was the only one out of the kids that he gave a Nickname too they were closer and being a middle child, she definitely understood his addictions. She believed in him, and the glass castle, longer than everyone else.
A: He was closer to her than to her siblings. I think he loved them all equally, but if he had a favorite, it was Jeannette and her relationship with her father shaped her entire life.
X: I think the question he asked a lot throughout both the book and movie was “do you still believe in your dad” and she always said yes when he asked. They had more intimate conversations than he did with the other siblings.

How did Naomi Watts’ version of Rose Mary compare with Rose Mary in the book? Was she abused by Rex? Was she as good a parent as Rex?
S: I think they were equally shitty parents. I feel like she was portrayed in the book as a slightly more caring parent than in the movie. Only because in the book her and the children had more meaningful conversations about Rex’s addiction. I don’t feel like he technically abused her, because she knew about the situation at hand and did nothing to better herself or her children even though she had several opportunities to do so.
A: I felt like they left too much out of the movie for the character to pop. She came off more like someone who didn’t care in the movie, where as in the book we see that she does care about her children a lot, she’s just not a great mother. She’s the kind of person who would make an interesting friend, but not a good mother. The movie also didn’t show too much about how she struggled with depression and wrestled with doing the right thing.
X: I feel like they romanticized her as a mother more in the movie. In the books you could see she was as equally neglectful as Rex. When you watch the movie you think she’s just stuck but really she kept herself there. Naomi Watts’ version was terrible. I feel like they should have shown more interactions between the parents because they put a lot more in the book that showed Rex’s more abusive side.

What was your favorite part?
S: My favorite part of the movie was Christmas when they had nothing to give the children, and Rex took them out and gave them each a star (or planet if you’ll have it) because that’s something that couldn’t be taken away from them. And he was actually a smart man, so he was informative in telling them about the star or planet they chose.
A: When he gifted the kids the stars. That was smart, they may not have had much, but he gave them something that no one could take, and that was something they remembered fondly about their dad. He encouraged their adventures and reading. That was the greatest part. Despite everything they tried to teach the kids and they were all very intelligent, which probably made everything so much worse somehow.
X: My favorite part, which they didn’t add in the movie, was the tinker bell doll, because when she was trying to see her pretty face in the fire she melted. And even though her doll melted, she still loved it.

Any last comments about the book or movie?
S: Hands down best book I’ve read, I’ve related to it more than any book I’ve ever read.
A: It was a good book, I enjoyed it a lot. I can see why it’s Steph and Xe’s favorite book.
X: Pretty much what Steph said, it’s the best book ever, it’s my favorite book. The movie was nice but it did not stand to my expectations.

The Walls family

Ratings:

Stephanie: Five stars for the book hands down. Five stars for Woody Harrelson playing Rex Walls in the movie. And 2.5 stars, 3 if you’re lucky, because it was considerably inconsistent with the book.

Stephanie’s Rating: 5 Stars

Amber: I gave the book four stars, because it was really really good. I would actually give it 4.5, but I didn’t make graphics for half stars. Sorry. It was a good read, I don’t read memoirs often, and this kept me intrigued. I can see why Steph liked it, and Xe also. I loved it and I would read it again. The movie get’s three stars. Maybe. Woody Harrelson get’s five stars.

Amber’s Rating: 4.5 Stars

Xe: The book is five stars, immaculate, a masterpiece, the holy grail. But for the movie, I’ll give it a three. It’s only at a three because of Woody Harrelson’s immaculate portrayal of Rex.

Xe’s Rating: 5 stars

Well, that’s it for now. This is the first non-fiction book for the Book Club, so let us know what you think. What’s your favorite book? Alright my friends, I’m off. Be safe, drink your water, don’t eat yellow snow, and have an adventure.

Xe: Woody Harrelson should have played all the characters.
Steph: I concur. Except for Jeannette, who the child actor was Mountain Goat all the way.
Amber: *Shakes head fondly*

Bye Bye Butterfly

The Arkane World

Okay folks, it’s occurred to me that though I am now working on the third book for the Bluebird Chronicles, and I’ve told you quite a bit about different settings and characters, I haven’t told you much about the Arkane world. Even the setting for Port Shadeau (My Short Story Saturday series) is in the Arkane world and the rules aren’t exactly explained. I aim to rectify that in the future. Not only am I running out of settings that I can tell you about, not settings that exist mind you, but settings that I can reveal right now, but I want to start letting you in on more of the Arkane world than I can conceivably convey in just one series.

The Arkane world is vast. Made up of six Arkane Alliances that span several countries and continents, sometimes completely ignoring the boundary lines that we know on our own maps. The Alliances are made up of Territories, each of which is ruled over by the Crone of that Territory. There are thirty-three Crones in all, throughout the entire world. Serving under the Crones, and charged with keeping the peace between the Elentori (Magical Creatures like Vampires, Werewolves, etc.), the Arkane (Humans with abilities that pertain to one of the six elements), and the Karhu (Non-magical humans) are the sixty-six Sages, and the sixty-six Lords or Ladies. There are two of each per Territory. The Sages are primarily in charge of the Elentori population, where as the Lords and Ladies are in charge of the Arkane population within their specific Territory.

For example, Baxter Vartlett is the Crone in charge of Territory Three of the North American Arkane Alliance (NAAA). Working for him are the Sages, Atlas Rivers (Eldritch Demon), and Ivy Herrick (Vampire). They are in charge of the entire Elentori population residing within the borders of the Midwest Territory. Velvela Dewbrook and Antonella Havendale are the Ladies in charge of the Arkane population. The Karhu are regulated by their own governmental bodies.

If the Crones are equivalent to the President, the Sages and Lords/Ladies are the governors. It helps keep crime to a minimum, and peace between the three groups of people. There are members of the Karhu governments that do know about the Arkane world, though the number is limited.

The Arkane world boasts sixty-six schools designed to teach the Arkane children. They don’t start school until they turn sixteen and do not finish until they are twenty or twenty-one, depending on where their birthday falls. Some schools are smaller, but there are several larger ones that teach speciality information that isn’t as common. Arkane schools teach the Arkane children how to control their abilities as they correspond to the six elements: Earth, Air, Water, Fire, Metal, and Wood. As Arkane children hit puberty, their abilities start to manifest. They can be as mundane as helping plants to grow, like Cedar Wolfendale, or manifesting and controlling air currents in small areas, like Izara Sutton, who regularly floats six inches off the floor while wearing ballet Pointe shoes because she can. Then there are people like Keita Hayes, who when upset can burn the surrounding flora in a one-hundred foot radius from the inside out, or Rowan Alderton, who can manipulate emotions. There are also some abilities that are completely useless, and others that are dangerous, so training is very important.

In addition to the Elentori and Arkane populations, there are also magical creatures and other such things that exist as part of the Arkane world. I plan to get into all of them a little more deeply as the weeks go on, because explaining the Arkane world, that took me over a decade to create, with quite a bit of help, cannot be summed up in one blog post. This is just the introduction to a very long series. Come along for a ride and learn about the world that The Bluebird Chronicles and the next couple of series are based in. I can’t wait to show you everything.

Jackelope’s are just one of the many magical creatures that exist in the Arkane World.

So my friends, thanks for reading thus far. As always, be safe, drink your water, don’t eat yellow snow, and have a wonderful adventure this weekend my loves. Ta ta!

Bye Bye Butterfly!

Book Review – A Ruin of Roses by KF Breene

Still from Disney’s Animated Beauty and the Beast

Do I really have to tell you guys how much I love beauty and the beast? Like every single version of it. All the time. Beauty and the Beast is amazing to me. Like almost every girl I know, it was the library for me.

Anyway, so when I ran across A Ruin of Roses and heard that it was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast…but with dragons. You guys, I jumped over to Amazon and downloaded it onto my Kindle app really quick. I had to finish a couple of other stories before I could read it, but I was so excited. (And now that I’m done, I’ve downloaded the second one and you guys, can I just tell you how excited I am?) So, without further ado, let’s get into it shall we?

A Ruin of Roses by K.F. Breene cover

So like in the version of Beauty and the Beast that we all know and love, this story has a tragic sort of backstory, this one makes about as much sense as the one in the movie too. So, the kingdom is split into different parts based on the type of shifter that you are. Though by the time we get to the story, no one has that ability anymore and the entire kingdom is closed off and we’ll get to why in a second. So the Prince of the Dragon Shifter portion of the kingdom is rumored to have been married off to someone in one of the neighboring kingdom, and has been gone for years. The Queen died a long time ago, and the King makes a deal with the Demon King and a curse falls over the kingdom. The castle is surrounded by a creepy forest, you can’t travel out of town anymore, it’s all a big mess.

Fast forward a decade or so and we catch up with Finley who is attempting to take care of her family after her mother gets sick and dies and her father is now sick. So, she’s a bit busy. Part of what is causing everyone to get sick is a side effect of this curse that’s been handed down by the Demon King. The only thing that helps them is a drink made from the leaves from a very specific plant that is only found in the forest. (Of course it is….) So Finley sneaks into the woods, past the briars and heedless of the beasts that roam the forest at night and have already killed more than one villager.

She is successful the first time she goes into the woods, but the next time she goes back, after an interaction with our Gaston type character, and she actually gets caught, and it isn’t pretty. It’s the “Beast” that catches her and after an interaction he drags her back to the castle to be his prisoner and we walk into a whole world of crazy. Seriously, I cannot even tell how much I wasn’t prepared for what happens.

NOT FOR PEARL CLUTCHERS. Look, if you don’t like a lot of raunchy sex (for seemingly no reason), though this is a series and it did set the stage for some interesting developments. It’s an enemies to lovers, raunchy, story that is good. I loved it, I did.

Book Club for Complicated House Plants

What genre is this book?
This book, while a re-telling of a fairy tale, is labeled as the following genres: Fantasy Fiction, Erotic literature, Romantic fantasy, Paranormal fiction.

Did you race to the end or did it take you a little while?
I really wanted to race through this book, but I had to put it down quite a bit. The writing style was a little off my taste but I was able to put it aside and make it work. The story is good, if you can get past the readability of it. That was the biggest challenge I had, which happens sometimes.

Are there lingering questions from the book you’re still thinking about?
It ends on a cliffhanger, so I have some questions about that. Meaning that I’ll probably read the next one just to figure out what happens next. That’s usually why I keep reading something, unanswered questions, and if the storytelling is good. I’m a sucker for a good story. I also want to know about the rest of the kingdom, what happened exactly and how did we get to this point?

Which characters did you like best?
I actually rather like Nyfain. And Finley’s older brother, Hannon. I felt he had a firm grip on their reality and was doing the best he could do since he was in charge of their family now that their father was sick. Nyfain was a great representation of the beast. He’s got a lot of layers and he truly seemed to care for Finley. I’m interested to see what happens next.

Did the plot proceed in a way that felt natural? Or did you feel manipulated by the storyline?
I felt like I knew where it was going, at least on some level because it was a re-telling. However, I was always relatively surprised when something new happened. I thought there were places where the storyline seemed a little contrived and that there were movements where things seemed gratuitous. They didn’t need to be there and the story would have been the same, and yet, they were there anyway, maybe for shock value, who knows?

Would you fall for either of the leads?
Honestly, no. I don’t think that I would. Which is weird for a romance novel. I mean, I want to see them together, and I want them to be able to fix the kingdom, no matter what it costs, but I personally wouldn’t be attracted to either of them. Now, Finley’s brother Hannon, a man who stands up and takes responsibility for his family no matter the personal cost, that’s a guy I could fall for. Maybe because I’m older, I don’t know.

If it’s part of a series, did this book compel you to read the next one?
I do want to read the next one. I want to know what happens to Nyfain. I want to know what Finley is going to do to help. I want to know how they’re going to fix the kingdom, which I said already I know, but I need to know what happened. Contrived as some of this book may be, I will most likely finish the series because I want to know what happened. The cliffhanger at the end serves it’s purpose perfectly. It’s not exactly a happy for now end, and certainly not a happily ever after ending, but I need to know what’s going on.

Did you like the heat level of this book?
Though at times unnecessary, I did actually enjoy the heat level of this one. But it was more the connection between Nyfain and Finley. The growing heat between them as they progress, was fantastic. I enjoyed it.

Was the couple’s connection believable?
I think so. It’s clear that there is something there, on a soul level that they’re both drawn to, but I like that they don’t just give in to it and allow it to dictate their actions. Instead the relationship between Finley and Nyfain grows because they want it to, not because of whatever cosmic connection they have. In fact Finley actively tries to avoid it. I love that aspect of their relationship.

Did the book strike you as original?
I think that knowing it was a re-telling of something else before you read it, you’d be likely to think it wouldn’t be original. Despite the mixed reviews of the way it was written, or what you think of the amount of sex and the language used, the concept for this story is amazing. It’s an original idea that follows the framework for a tale as old as time. And I loved the idea of that concept before I even read it. It’s easy to forget it’s a retelling of a favorite story if you let yourself get lost in it.

A Ruin of Roses Aesthetic

Rating

Four Stars

I gave this story four stars. I liked the story, I was able to overlook the writing style, which again is just a personal thing. I did like this story a lot more than it probably sounds like I did. That said, dealing with the writing style, the parts that just seemed unnecessary, caused me to rate it below a five. (I’ve never said this, but if anything ever gets a 3.5 or lower, I just won’t review it here. As a writer, I know how much negative reviews can kill the motivation and muse, so I won’t review anything lower than a 3.5)

Four Flames

This book got a four on the heat level again, simply because I feel like the use of smut or scenes that depict intimate relationships should be done so with a mind to the needs of the story. I have written everything from closed door/fade to black to incredibly detailed erotica. I use whichever would be best for the story at the time. I think that on certain occasions, this heat didn’t fit what the story needed. Again though, the heat was good so I didn’t knock it down any farther than four flames.

So, that’s all for today’s review. If you like this kind of story, go read it. You’ll either love it or hate it, but you won’t forget it. I’m out for now. As always, be safe, drink your water, don’t eat yellow snow, and have an amazing adventure!

Bye Bye Butterfly