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review 2020-03-31 07:00
Review: The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller
The Shadows Between Us - Tricia Levenseller

This book was so much fun! I have never read the author before but I enjoyed her style very much, so I think I might pick up some of her other books after this one. This one had a bit more romance than I expected but it had a lot of adventure and twists and turns that kept me entertained.

 

Alessandra is delightfully scandalous. She is witty and funny but also slightly sociopathic. She delights in using men and bucking the patriarchal system she lives in. She figures that if men can have a thousand lovers then the women must not be being very chaste either so why not. She killed the first boy who broke her heart and is determined to not make herself vulnerable ever again. Instead she has a mission to seduce the king and then kill him and take over his kingdom. She finally sees her opportunity with the engagement of her older sister, since she was not allowed to attend court until that time. She catches the Shadow King’s eye immediately and away we go.

 

I fully expected for the plot of the story to be a romance. I knew going in that Alessandra would fall in love with the king, and he with her, and she would no longer want to go through with her plan. So, I didn’t really mind when the story started taking me that way. Especially since the romance was handled with a lot of snark and lots of nefarious plotting and teasing. There was so much sexual tension in this book and it was delicious. Kallias set my heart pitter pattering and I hoped beyond hope that he was getting through to Alessandra too. He’s just so delightfully bad!

 

The only downside I had with this book was that I found the rules of the world building to be a tad inconsistent. We are told from the outset that this is a very Victorian world. Women are expected to be demure, chaste, and never be found in a compromising situation that could ruin their opportunities for a good marriage. Women cannot go to court to attempt to woo a husband until all of their older sisters are married off. The males of the family make the marriage arrangements. All of this is extremely typical. But then, it’s also okay for the nobles to be engaged in homosexual or bisexual relationships. Openly and at court. That certainly does not fit with the world you have built. At all. I am okay with either world. I am okay with a very straitlaced Victorian world. And I am okay with a slightly more liberal world encompassing people of all sexualities. But the two things don’t work well together.

 

This small gripe aside, I loved this book. It was wonderfully wicked and very sexy. I was sad it was over.

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review 2020-03-11 16:41
ARC Review: How to Love Your Elf (Embraced by Magic #1) by Kerrelyn Sparks
How to Love Your Elf - Kerrelyn Sparks
How to Love Your Elf
Embraced by Magic #1
Kerrelyn Sparks
Paranormal Romance
Kensington
February 25, 2020
eBook
336
NetGalley

 

Raised in isolation on the magic-shrouded Isle of the Moon, five girls became five sisters. Now women, they are ready to claim their places in the world—and perhaps change it forever . . .

 

FLAME AND FORTUNE

 

Sorcha knew the mission was dangerous. Leaving the safe grounds of her brother’s kingdom and parlaying with the elves across their border . . . well, treachery seemed at least as likely as true peace. But to support her sister, Sorcha would brave far more than the underhanded ways of the elves. Or so she thought, before she was taken hostage.

 

Of course, her captors didn’t count on her particular abilities—or on the help of the Woodsman, the mysterious thief who made his home in the forest. He saw the battle from the trees, saw the soldier attacking against incredible odds to save a comrade—and then saw the valiant fighter revealed as Princess Sorcha of Norveshka. He can’t tell if he wants to kidnap her or kiss her. But despite Sorcha’s stubbornness, his inconvenient honor, and a rebellion on the cusp of full war, something burns between them that neither can let go . . .

 

Goodreads

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

 

 

How to Love Your Elf is book four in The Embraced series by Kerrelyn Sparks. 

 

I’m not sure why the author or publisher decided to label this novel as Embraced by Magic series when it’s part of The Embraced series. It’s not a title that can be read as a first in a series. How to Love Your Elf needs to be read after Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon.

 

I’ve loved the previous titles in The Embraced series, but unfortunately this one feel off the mark.

 

If you’ve been following the series, Sorcha, is a princess and ‘Embraced’. She was featured throughout the series as a women with a fiery personality, but we soon learning that that’s just a front. She’s scared to love to the point that she makes herself physically ill. I was very disappointed to learn that Sorcha wasn’t the go getter she was portrayed. She lacked confidence in everything she did, even her Embraced gift is next to nothing. She was dull and spent the novel pining and obsessing over the Woodsman.

 

The Woodsman had a sexy appeal. I liked his confidence and strong personality. He was the only thing I liked about this novel. 

 

The store progressed at a snails pace. I was not invested in the characters or plot. The main plot focused on the angst caused by the romance between these two. We also don’t spend any time dealing with who the Woodsman is and his history. As for the ending it happens fast and things are put to rest way to easily.

 

You might be wondering why I read this one. Well I loved the previous novels, I also wanted to get the full picture on the Embraced prophecy; which is the secondary plot featured throughout this series, and to also get those surprise tidbits offered up in the novel.

 

How to Love Your Elf was not the book for me. It’s my least favorite and I was sadly disappointed. If the blurb intrigues you, I urge you to give it a shot. Just because it did not work for me does not mean it won’t for you. 

 

Rated: 2 Stars

 

*Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy provided by Kensington via NetGalley with the sole purpose of an honest review. All thoughts, comments and ratings are my own.

 

Was this review helpful? If so, please consider liking it on Goodreads (Angela)!

 

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I was born and raised in Northern Indiana. I’m an outdoor sun loving reader living near San Fransisco. I’m a mother, wife, dog owner, animal, and book lover. I’m the owner, reviewer, and mind behind Angel’s Guilty Pleasures. My favorite animals are horses & dogs. As for reading I love all things paranormal & urban fantasy. My favorite shifters are dragons!

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Source: angelsguiltypleasures.com/2020/03/arc-review-how-to-love-your-elf-embraced-by-magic-1-by-kerrelyn-sparks
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review 2020-01-24 16:10
Sweep With Me
Sweep with Me - Ilona Andrews

This was a novella and I wish that it had been fleshed out more to make it a longer story. I think that Dina's quickness of reconnecting with Gertrude Stein was way too fast considering how much of the story had her full of angst because she can tell that she and the inn were not synched up like they were before her sacrifice in "One Fell Sweep." I loved the story-line though with a whole new powerful entity out there. I hope we get to see the new characters introduced in this one again in future stories.

 

"Sweep With Me" takes place during the same time period of "Sweep of the Blade." Dina is still recovering with her sacrifice when she connected with a seed before it would become an inn. She also feels afraid that Sean, her boyfriend, and werewolf, may get hurt and she will be left alone again. I loved that we get to see a tradition of the inn's on Earth during "Treaty Day" where they have to allow anyone who wants to stay at the inn, to stay as a visitor. Due to this, Dina has agreed to host three special people/groups who may cause her trouble with the Assembly. 

 

I loved that we get to see a new species in this one called the Drifen. They sound like superheroes or gods practically. I would love a new spin-off focusing on them and the leader that we get to meet in this one who had shades of Kate Daniels, though sadder somehow.


We also get Dina and Sean hosting galactic chickens. I maybe died at the illustration that was included.

And lastly we have Dina and Sean hosting a Medamoth. Sean's adventure with the Medamoth and Orro was the freaking best and I laughed for a long time. I wouldn't mind a POV.

 

I definitely cannot wait for a longer novel. 

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review 2020-01-22 03:29
Alice in the Country of Hearts: Love Labyrinth of Thorns (manga) story by QuinRose, art by Aoi Kurihara, translated by Angela Liu
Alice in the Country of Hearts: Love Labyrinth of Thorns - QuinRose

Upon ending up in Wonderland, Alice managed to convince Julius to allow her to stay with him at the Clock Tower. Julius gripes about Alice getting underfoot but doesn't put any effort into making her leave. Alice makes him coffee and gets irritated when he says he doesn't like it, but despite his complaints, he always drinks it, even if it's become stone cold. However, something suddenly changes between them. For some reason Julius begins avoiding Alice and acting cold and distant towards her. When she confronts him about it, he tells her to leave, so she does. Nightmare decides to step in and put both of their feelings to the test.

If Alice were a real person and I was asked to pair her up with someone in this series, I'd probably pair her up with Julius. He may not be the most exciting guy in the franchise, but he's generally emotionally stable and considerably less violent than most of the Wonderland guys. He's also the least likely to try to force her into anything.

In this one-shot, Julius knows that Alice has another world she calls home and worries the he'll get too attached to her and then she'll leave him. Alice, meanwhile, thinks that Julius considers her to be little more than an annoyance. Ace, who loves both of them, is on the sidelines trying to figure out how to get them to actually talk to each other about how they feel and what they're thinking. I have to say, I'm a big fan of Ace in caring and friendly mode. And hey, I'd be more on board with a threesome involving Alice, Julius, and Ace than Alice, Dee, and Dum.

Nightmare's solution to Alice and Julius's communication problem struck me as being a bit melodramatic and cheesy. There was a tower with a stairway blocked by thorny roses and everything. Julius had to act like some sort of fairy tale prince. I outright groaned when Nightmare explained what the thorns were and why they suddenly disappeared and were replaced by rose petals.

The overall pacing was good, and the story was nicely focused - no attempts to cram more franchise lore into the volume than there was time to handle. For example, Alice's unrequited feelings for her sister's fiance were only briefly referenced.

Aoi Kurihara's artwork was nice, but still nowhere near as appealing to me as Mamenosuke Fujimaru's, although Kurihara seemed to be better at drawing guns. Fujimaru's guns are laughably bad. As far as Alice x Julius volumes go, though, I think I prefer Alice in the Country of Hearts: The Clockmaker's Story over this. I recall the romance being more appealing, and it managed to work in more of Julius's backstory. Still, Love Labyrinth of Thorns wasn't bad.

Extras:

Two full-color pages, a two-page (or two single page?) humorous bonus comic (Ace is adorable), an artist afterword in comic form, and an 11-page preview of Devils and Realist.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2020-01-21 01:31
Alice in the Country of Clover: Bloody Twins (manga) story by QuinRose, art by Mamenosuke Fujimaru, translated by Angela Liu
Alice in the Country of Clover: Bloody Twins - Mamenosuke Fujimaru,QuinRose

Wonderland is a strange place where nothing works the way it does in our world. People have clocks for hearts, day and night happen at random, only a select few people have faces, and nearly everyone is armed to the teeth. Alice has become accustomed to it, for the most part, but she's still surprised to wake up and discover that the Country of Hearts has somehow moved and become the Country of Clover. She's relieved that the twins, Dee and Dum, are still around and as happy to spend time with her as ever, but a new ability they've acquired since moving to Clover leaves her feeling disconcerted: they can now instantly transform their kid selves into adults and back again.

Alice felt comfortable around them when they were children. Being around them when they're adults feels weird. She finds herself feeling emotions she doesn't want to, which brings her face to face with her secret fear, that the twins will find someone else they like more and abandon her.

This was similar enough to what I remembered of Alice in the Country of Clover: Twin Lovers that I initially thought I'd read it before. This is part of the reason why I write reviews - I was able to confirm that what I was remembering was a completely different volume and that, yes, their overall storylines were incredibly similar. In both volumes, Alice was embarrassed by her attraction to the twins in their adult forms and worried that they'd ask her to choose between them. If I remember right, Twin Lovers was more focused on the twins vying for Alice's affections. In Bloody Twins, the primary focus was on Alice's internal conflict and the twins were more instantly willing to share Alice.

I'm just not that wild about Dee and Dum as romantic partners for Alice. Yes, they're hot, but they're very childish, and the whole "twins in love with the same person and willing to share" thing is a bit squicky for me. Also, they're not terribly interesting as characters, either on their own or in terms of what they bring out in Alice. I can't imagine Alice choosing between them because there's nothing that sets Dee apart from Dum, aside from their hairstyles when they're in adult form.

Still, there wasn't anything really bad about this, and Fujimaru's artwork was attractive. I love the slightly metallic cover art - the colors look fabulous. Story-wise, I particularly liked the scene where Alice tried to put a stop to the twins' teasing by turning the tables and becoming the more sexually aggressive one for once (as expected, this backfired on her, although the twins' briefly flustered reactions were great).

I was somewhat disappointed and confused when I reached the last third of this volume and the story switched from Alice, Dee, and Dum to four different very short stories featuring Alice and other Wonderland characters. They weren't even all in the Country of Clover.

The first, "I Love You," was set back in the Country of Hearts and featured Alice fretting over Gowland and whether he really saw her and loved her as she was. The second, "Where Are You Going?," was back in Clover and starred Boris and Alice. Boris wanted to live together with Alice, while Alice resisted out of worry that he'd leave her if he really got to know her for who she was (Alice's fear of abandonment and worry that others wouldn't love her if they really knew her crops up a lot in the series). Of all of these shorts, this one was probably my most favorite. Boris was a sweetheart. The third, "Twilight," starred Alice and Vivaldi and was as yuri as this series ever gets, with Alice worrying about Vivaldi and feeling jealous of her king. It's too bad that there are no longer storylines devoted to an Alice x Vivaldi pairing. The fourth, "Egoism," starred Alice and Blood. Blood was his usual heavily flirty self.

All in all, the explanations about how the Country of Hearts and the Country of Clover work would make this a decent starting point for anyone wanting to try a Country of Clover title (if you're entirely new to this franchise, I highly recommend reading Yen Press's Alice in the Country of Hearts omnibus volumes first), and Dee and Dum lovers should definitely check it out, but it's not the best Country of Clover title out there.

Extras:

Four full-color pages at the start of the volume, two one-page bonus comics, an Alice in the County of Clover "fun facts" page that includes some extra info about the characters in Clover, and an 11-page preview of Young Miss Holmes. Also, the back of the volume includes a 4-panel comic.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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