Book Review | Truth or Dare by Ariana Nash

America. The land of the free. Unless you’re a latent.

Kage is missing. Alexander Kempthorne would prefer he stay that way. Life at the new-look Kempthorne & Co agency is difficult enough without adding a missing American to the mix. But John “Dom” Domenici won’t abandon someone who was once their friend, even if Kage is “technically” an enemy.

But as the team investigate Kage’s disappearance, a traumatic, hidden past comes to light. And a missing person case soon turns into a fight for survival for Dom and Kempthorne, in a land not-so-free.

***

Breathless action, suspenseful mystery, and steamy romance combine in the fast-paced gay adventure series from the author acclaimed for their enemies-to-lovers, epic twists, and morally conflicted characters.

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How was it?

A missing ex-lover, a dangerous country for latents, and two lovers smack in the middle of it. That’s how the Shadows of London fourth entry starts and it’s quite the ride.

When Kempthorne became a bigger focus in Trial by Fire it came as breath of fresh air, because Dom’s poor decision making skills was starting to be grating. Here it rears it’s ugly head again to the point where I was tempted to skip paragraphs and chapters whenever Dom acted like an idiot. Even the will they? Won’t they things was back.

But fear not, this entry gets increasingly better and captivating. Taking place in the united states seem to give the story a new edge, well a different edge. Alex and Dom are challenged in new and interesting ways. We learn a lot about Kage – some of which surprised me -, we also get to see Alexander and John as a couple. It’s a lot of unsaid, which can be frustrating, but then it gets amazing between them. The fact that it happens in book four is a tad annoying but I loved it so who cares.

Out of all the previous books, this entry is the one I had the most trouble putting down, the action is gripping and nicely paced. I love how the characters are evolving, even though some aspects about their personality still annoys me. It’s a great read, I might dive back in before the audio version is out.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Truth or Dare is available on Amazon (Kindle, and Paperback).

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I received an advanced copy of this book and this is my fair and unbiased review.

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October readings | Dragons, Mysteries and Dead Things

Title: Dead Until Dark
Series: Sookie Stackhouse book 1
Author: Charlaine Harris
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Supernatural, Horror, Fantasy, Mystery
Page count: 292 pages
Published: 1 May 2001

My review | Book | Audiobook

Title: One Of Us Is Lying
Author: Karen M. McManus
Genre(s): Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Crime, Fiction
Page count: 360 pages
Published: 30 May 2017

My review | Book | Audiobook

Title: Origin
Series: Scales’N’Spells 1
Author: A.J. Sherwood, Jocelynn Drake
Genre(s): Contemporary, Fantasy
Page count: 392 pages
Published: 1 October 2020

My review | Book | Audiobook

Title: Silk & Steel
Series: Silk & Steel #1
Author: Ariana Nash, Pippa DaCosta
Genre(s): Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, MM
Page count: 380 pages
Published: 18 January 2019

My review | Book | Audiobook

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An Echo in the Sorrow | Hailey Turner

An Echo in the Sorrow (Soulbound VI) Hailey Turner published 1 March 2021

Patrick Collins has spent years handling cases as a special agent for the Supernatural Operations Agency, even as his secret standing in the preternatural community has changed. He should have confessed to his role as co-leader of the New York City god pack when he and Jonothon de Vere took up the mantle months ago, but he didn’t. Now that split loyalty will cost him at a time when he can least afford it.
 
Outmaneuvered, framed for murder, and targeted by the Dominion Sect, Patrick has to face a past full of lies to regain his freedom. Revealing the truth means he’ll need to give up the life that has defined him. Everything he’s fought to build with his pack is at stake, and losing them isn’t a price Patrick is willing to pay, but some choices aren’t his to make.
 
Jono knows they can’t cede any more territory if they want to win the god pack civil war spilling into the streets of New York City. But the souls of werecreatures are free for the taking when demons come to town and angels sing a warning no one can ignore. When Jono’s worst fear comes to life, and he loses the one person he can’t live without, the only option left is to fight.
 
Facing down the demons of their past and the ones in their present, Patrick and Jono will learn the hard way that some sins never wash away clean.
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How was it?

I was eager to read this book, I read and re-read On The Wings of War multiple times with a sense of foreboding when the next book was concerned. The title itself, An Echo in the Sorrow, worried me. So it was with a lot of apprehension that I started reading it.

We’re definitely not easing back in, we’re thrown right in the thick of it. Patrick and Jono are backed into a corner, attacked on all fronts, and the secrets they keep will cost them at a time when they can least afford it. For a story that spans several books the quality hasn’t waned. The plot is really well thought-out, putting Jono and Patrick in the tightest spot they’ve been so far. The risk for their lives and livelihoods is felt, almost tangible. The legal ramifications they face feels all too real, so my anxiety levels were through the roof but Hailey Turner, the author, kept it interesting and exciting. I’m once again in awe of her talent.

I was so engrossed by the story that at some point I was shocked when I realized I was about to half way through. The way this whole world is set up, with pack law, god packs and the mundane human laws mixed in, made Estelle and Youssef legit threats, and you can see that in this book more than ever. In fact her vilains, likes Estelle and Youssef, Ethan or any God allied with the Hells are just as multidimensional as the main characters. They are witty and dangerous in the most delicious way, it’s a joy to read.

And when you think the story couldn’t expand anymore she weaves in more legends, lore and myths, giving an even bigger scale to the war at hand, broadening her readers’ knowledge while entertaining them. In Soulbound 6 as in the previous one, more allies and enemies are revealed, bonds reinforced or broken, making each side clearer. The story doesn’t feel as contained to a “smaller” mission but upgraded to the wider conflict we always knew was brewing.

An Echo In The Sorrow is action-packed with a pace that might give you whiplash. A lot of twists and turns – maybe one to many for some – but undeniably a great read. I am now waiting for Gary Furlong to finish recording the audiobook so I can enjoy this book in a whole new way. The next and final book, whose title was announced to be A Veilled & Hallowed Eve is already in my most anticipated list. I’m waiting.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

My ARC copy of the book was provided by the authors in exchange for a fair, unbiased review and will be *FREE* with Kindle Unlimited membership on March 1, 2021.


Upcomming books in the series:

Soulbound VII
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Previous books in the series:

Soulbound I
Review | Book | Audiobook
Soulbound II
Review | Book | Audiobook
Soulbound III
Review | Book | Audiobook
Soulbound IV
Review | Book | Audiobook
Soulbound V
Review | Book | Audiobook
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The Border | A.H. Lee

The Border (The Knight and the Necromancer #2) by A.H. Lee published 23 March 2020

Roland and Sairis have escaped from a traumatic assassination attempt, solved the mystery of their attacker, and enjoyed plenty of heavy petting along the way. Roland knows that it’s too soon for love, but he feels like he’s falling head over heels.

However, in the final moments when their attacker is revealed, Sairis does something unthinkable. He transfers a brutal spell to Roland, nearly killing him, and disappears.

Roland is left reeling, struggling to cope with his injuries, and wondering whether everything Sairis said and did was a lie. Did Sairis seduce Roland only to use him as a hostage? And if not, what has happened to Sairis?

How was it?

At cliffhanger that The Capital ended in, the beginning of part two, I was surprised at how quick some characters were ready to suspect and dismiss others, who I think showed enough of goodwill to earn some trust.

But as the story continues to unfold you quickly get to see that it’s how these characters are. They operate from a place of distrust, fear with a narrow view of their world. The world building does a good job laying out what lead them to be how they are and see their world the way they do. Where part one told us how things are, here questions are answered, secrets are revealed, and minds are broadened.

Most of the protagonists seem to be in the grey, neither good or bad, and very much capable of both. It adds some tension because like the main characters you never really know who you can trust, you just have to have faith. It also makes for well rounded characters all around.

As for the relationship between Roland and Sairis, they’ve past the attraction phase, and are deepening their connection despite the weight of the baggage they carry. It’s realistic and sweet.

The Border is engaging, with just the right amount of drama and angst not to annoy, and enough action and surprises to entertain.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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Shadow and Bone | Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo published 12 June 2012

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

How was it?

Something very strange happened with this book. I’ve seldom had reading experiences like this one. I zombie read* a lot of it, so much so that I had to go back several times to find whichever passages I remembered last. I was interested in the plot but I wasn’t engaged. Maybe the complex names dulled my concentration – I doubt it – or was it Alina’s near obsession with looks that did me in? – maybe. I can’t quite put my finger on it but it almost felt like I was at risk of not going back to the book if I even glanced at another one.

It may sound like I didn’t like the book or that it’s barely average but paradoxically I enjoyed it. There are a lot of elements that I like, the world building, Alina, the way the Darkling was portrayed, and how everything was set up for Alina not to be a Mary Sue later on. But it’s only three quarters into the story that it really picked up for me.

Before that I was going along to get along but every time I thought “OK nothing is happening, the story is in a bit of a rut, in a routine.” something would come up to revive my interest a bit before depleting again. So there was quite a bit of that, it wasn’t ups and downs per say but a slow and steady disinterest before a surge of captivated reading.

Shadow and Bone is unique, you might like it right away or squint at it trying to figure out why you’re still reading.

*Zombie reading: reading something without really processing any of the words on the pages. One often wonders how they got a particular section, with little to no recollection of what came before, after zombie reading.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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The Trilogy

White Trash Warlock | David R. Slayton

White Trash Warlock (The Adam Binder Novels #1) by David R. Slayton published 13 October 2020

Guthrie was a good place to be from, but it wasn’t a great place to live, not when you were like Adam, in all the ways Adam was like Adam.

Adam Binder hasn’t spoken to his brother in years, not since Bobby had him committed to a psych ward for hearing voices. When a murderous spirit possesses Bobby’s wife and disrupts the perfect life he’s built away from Oklahoma, he’s forced to ask for his little brother’s help. Adam is happy to escape the trailer park and get the chance to say I told you so, but he arrives in Denver to find the local magicians dead.

It isn’t long before Adam is the spirit’s next target. To survive the confrontation, he’ll have to risk bargaining with powers he’d rather avoid, including his first love, the elf who broke his heart.

The Binder brothers don’t realize that they’re unwitting pawns in a game played by immortals. Death herself wants the spirit’s head, and she’s willing to destroy their family to reap it.

How was it?

This book could almost be a mental health story within a family. There’re a lot of real down to earth elements that makes it grounded enough that the fantasy elements could be believed to be dreamt or imagined by the main character, Adam. In fact, removing all the paranormal elements of the story would have still make it an interesting one. The family history, the fraught relationships are just as interesting as the fantasy world that Adam can see.
But does the fantasy and the reality mix together well? Kind of, for a good chunk of the story I was ready for it to be the musings of a mentally ill patient. It attest to the how this world and its none believer characters feel like everyday people, like your average Joe would react to someone discussing magic and such. I liked it the book, it’s a good start to the Adam Binder Novels.

White Trash Warlock gets more intriguing the more you read it. Adam’s back story is tragic but captivating in its complexity.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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Shadow of Night | Deborah Harkness

Shadow of Night (All Souls #2) by Deborah Harkness published 10 July 2012

Picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night takes Diana and Matthew on a trip through time to Elizabethan London, where they are plunged into a world of spies, magic, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the School of Night. As the search for Ashmole 782 deepens and Diana seeks out a witch to tutor her in magic, the net of Matthew’s past tightens around them, and they embark on a very different—and vastly more dangerous—journey.

How was it?

The historical contextualization is still present, just like many of the less desirable aspects of the previous entry. Reading A Discovery of Witches was a bit of a chore, in particular when there’s a trimmed, dare I say better, televised version. I don’t know if it’s because I got used to Harkness’ “style,” maybe it’s Stockholm syndrome – the first book is long enough to induce the condition. Or is it because I know the TV series will cut through the fluff? But I enjoyed “Shadow of Night” more than the previous book.

The authors didn’t disregard how out of place Diana would be in the 1590s. Her speech, customs, and manners do not blend with the era she’s now in. So she has to adapt and in this series it means we’ll be right there with her for every step on the way. Harkness paints a detailed picture of the 16th century and again goes overboard. I found a way to tolerate and almost appreciate it, but the knowledge that a lot of it does nothing to push the story forward is grading. There are whole sections that I knew to be filler and managed not to skim through them.

To achieve even one of the objectives that brought them to 16th century England takes so much time that it often feels like they forgot why they were there in the first place. I can admit that life doesn’t always go according to plan, that some curve balls Matthew and Diana had to deal with were thrown, however they often took the looong way around to do most things. Mirroring the writing, the main characters are not very efficient, but Diana manages not to be a whimpering mess and start to show promise.

So how could it better than book one? At its core, Shadow of Night is interesting, each parts bestowing some kind of wisdom wrapped in a thick layer of filler. The book is exciting and/or frustrating at times, one just has to sieve.

There is a death that comes in out of nowhere towards the end that I worried I was zombie reading* when it happened but I was too lazy to look back and check since I’m pretty sure I didn’t zombie read that book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

*Zombie reading: reading something without really processing any of the words on the page. One often wonders how they got a particular section, with little to no recollection of what came before, after zombie reading.

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