Book Review | The Best Men by Sarina Bowen & Lauren Blakely

In my defense, I was left alone with a bottle of single-malt and a life-long penchant for protecting my baby sister. Still, that’s no excuse to send ten drunk-texts on why her hasty marriage would be a mistake.

If only I had just texted my sister. But nope. I accidentally sent the message to her, her groom, and his super hot wingman.

I also used the phrase “super hot wingman,” so I’d like to die now.

Instead, I have to plan a wedding with the aforementioned hottie and share a too-small guesthouse in steamy Miami.

Three days in the sun with the cocky, charming former athlete who likes to push my buttons? Fine, two can play at that let’s-infuriate-each-other game.

Until Asher ups the stakes with one wildly sexy suggestion. A no-strings fling, then I go back to my single dad life in New York, and he returns to his star-studded one.

Sign me up.

But the more nights I spend with the other best man, the more I want days too, and that just can’t happen. Especially when I find out the real reason why…

Contents Include: First times, a secret to-do list, champion-level flirting, fast cars, #eggplants, and two men who look good in formal wear. 

Buy links:

How was it?

I’ve read Sarina Bowen‘s work before (Him series with Elle Kennedy) and I’ve like it enough that they are among the books I own in audiobook versions as well. So Lauren Blakely was the unknown variable to me.

This book has a cute predictable story with a lot of warmth and heart. It’s surprisingly low angst even if the dual P.O.V. from Mark and Asher gives us a lot of pinning on both sides. It almost gets to the point where I was like “you’re grown men! Talk to each!” but the authors limited this kind of childish behavior even if Asher and Mark’s history could explain why they were hesitant to ask for what they wanted.

There’s also some attempt at humor that didn’t always work but weren’t bad enough to warrant an eyeroll or lower my enjoyment of this bit of cheesy fluff. My favorite thing about the story is a bit of a spoiler but I’ll stay vague, I like that one of them didn’t abandon their dream for the other.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Best Men is available on The Book Depository, Amazon, Audible and other book retailers near you.

Kindle Unlimited Membership Plans

November readings | Adventures on Land and Sea

Title: The Eye of the World
Series: The Wheel of Time #1
Author: Robert Jordan
Genre(s): Epic, High Fantasy, Adventure
Page count: 814 pages
Published: 15 November 1990

My review | Book | Audiobook

Title: Fable
Series: Fable #1
Author: Adrienne Young
Genre(s): YA, Adventure, Romance, Fantasy
Page count: 357 pages
Published: 1 September 2020

My review | Book | Audiobook

These books are also available on The Book Depository, or you can get them from the links above at no extra cost to you

Book Review: Fable by Adrienne Young

For seventeen-year-old Fable, the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home she has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one, and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father, and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him, and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive.

Buy links:

How was it? Well it took me a little over a year to finish this book. I know that sounds bad but some books are like that, they take me months to finish them. I read half of it in one sitting and was enveloped in the world building but just has everything was set up – because that the first half is mostly that – I stopped reading.

As much as I ended up liking this book, it has some aspects that are eye roll worthy, bringing the quality down. I paused right in the middle of an action sequence, which is odd for me, but the book was getting to a point where I felt that most of the world building was done. The setting of this book is one of the best thing about it. I loved learning about it, the different places, what made up the crew of a ship, the trade guild or the idea of Gem Sages, the author does a great job at laying all that out. It’s not too complicated and it feels real.

However, when the focus was shifting more to other characters and tried to move the plot forward, the story lost its shine a bit. The problem is part of the plot is vague and the other is predictable; as for the other characters – mainly the crew of the Marygold – the further you got from West, the less you knew about them. I can barely remember their names and am not sure how many of them there were. Also as charming as these characters were, they’re not believable as the crew of a ship. Their young age might make them seem like underdogs compared to the other ships but given how these other crews are described it’s a wonder that they’re still alive and retained their ship.

There’s also some romance in this book, thank goodness it’s doesn’t take much space but it’s USELESS. It seemed liked an obligatory added on thing, as if it can only be a YA novel if someone catches feelings. I don’t mind romance, in fact I read a lot of it but it was unnecessary here.

Besides the world building, the other aspect of the book that I liked is Fable. She’s driven, brave and a great character to follow. I may not have liked all of her choices but I enjoyed going on this adventure with her.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Fable is available on The Book Depository, Amazon, Audible and other book retailers near you.

Kindle Unlimited Membership Plans

Book Review: The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and pass. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

When The Two Rivers is attacked by Trollocs-a savage tribe of half-men, half-beasts- five villagers flee that night into a world they barely imagined, with new dangers waiting in the shadows and in the light.

Buy links:

How was it?

I don’t know how this book got on my list but the upcoming Amazon Prime Video adaptation hastened my reading it. I’ve never read the Lord of ring or the Shannara Chronicles but I’ve respectively seen the movies and TV show. The Eye of the World very much falls into the same category as these stories, it’s an epic high fantasy with a dark twist to it.

The story’s influence is quite clear – it’s Tolkien – but I didn’t see Eye of the World as a rip-off. It’s more in the same vein with similar plot points and more women involved. The story does takes a while to get going but once it does it’s interesting. However the déjà-vu, cliché aspects of the plot often make it seem slow, because you’ve got a clear idea of where the story’s going – at the very least when it’s regarding the hero.

I also kind of got fed up with pretending we didn’t know who from the Two Rivers crew was the “chosen one.” So by the end when we’re supposed to be surprised by the reveal I rolled my eyes a bit.

Oddly enough, I enjoyed more some of what happened to the others in the group, in particular who turned out to be a Wolfbrother. But even with them it was easy to figure out who was going to be a problem (i.e. The who took the jeweled dagger).

Overall the story is interesting if a bit cliché. If you read a lot of fantasy, or summarize the main plot points, you’ll see what I’m talking about. It’s also and overly detailed but it has enough charm to overlook some of that.

The only made me curious to see how the screen adaptation turns out. The trailers look good and the casting seems on point.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Eye of the World is available on The Book Depository, Amazon, Audible and other book retailers near you.

Kindle Unlimited Membership Plans

February readings | Shifters, Magic, and Mysteries

Title: Red Notice
Series: Tom Buckingham #1
Author: Andy McNab
Genre(s): Mystery, Action, Thriller, Military Fiction
Page count: 416 pages
Published: 5 November 2012

My review | Book | Audiobook

Title: Shadow and Bone
Series: Shadow and Bone #1
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre(s): High Fantasy, Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Page count: 358 pages
Published: 5 June 2012

My review | Book | Audiobook

Title: Face Offs & Cheap Shots
Series: CU Hockey #2
Author:Eden Finley, Saxon James
Genre(s): Contemporary, Sports, Romance, MM
Page count: 302 pages (ebook)
Published: 5 October 2020

My review |
Book | Audiobook

Title: Jon’s Spooky Corpse Conundrum
Series: Jon’s Mysteries case 3
Author: A.J. Sherwood
Genre(s): Paranormal, MM Romance, Mystery
Page count: 207 pages
Published: 2 August 2019

My review (soon) | Book | Audiobook

Title: The Capital
Series: The Knight and The Necromancer #1
Author: A.H. Lee
Genre(s): Fantasy, Historical, Romance, LGBT
Page count: 222 pages (ebook)
Published: 23 March 2020

My review | Book | Audiobook

Title: Captivate Mate
Series: Mismatched Mates #2
Author: Eliot Grayson
Genre(s): Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Romance, LGBT
Page count: 207 pages (ebook)
Published: 15 August 2020

My review (soon) |
Book | Audiobook

Title: The Border
Series: The Knight and The Necromancer #2
Author: A.H. Lee
Genre(s): Fantasy, Historical, Romance, LGBT
Page count: 228 pages (ebook)
Published: 23rd March 2020

My review | Book | Audiobook

Title: The Sea
Series: The Knight and The Necromancer #3
Author: A.H. Lee
Genre(s): Fantasy, Historical, Romance, LGBT
Page count: 180 pages (ebook)
Published: 23 March 2020

My review | Book | Audiobook

Title: Putting the Romance in Necromancy
Series: The Knight and The Necromancer #0.5
Author: A.H. Lee
Genre(s): Fantasy, Historical, Romance, LGBT
Page count: 17 pages (ebook)
Published: 23rd March 2020

My review | Book | Audiobook

If you’re interested in any of these, help us by getting them from the links above at no extra cost to you

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.

If you’re interested by this book, help us by getting – at no extra cost to you – it using the links below:

The Trilogy

Calamity | Brandon Sanderson

Calamity (The Reckoners #3) by Brandon Sanderson published 16th February 2016

When Calamity lit up the sky, the Epics were born. David’s fate has been tied to their villainy ever since that historic night. Steelheart killed his father. Firefight stole his heart. And now Regalia has turned his closest ally into a dangerous enemy.
David knew Prof’s secret, and kept it even when the Reckoners’ leader struggled to control the effects of his Epic powers. But facing Obliteration in Babilar was too much. Prof has now embraced his Epic destiny. He’s disappeared into those murky shadows of menace Epics are infamous for the world over, and everyone knows there’s no turning back. . . .
But everyone is wrong. Redemption is possible for Epics—Megan proved it. They’re not lost. Not completely. And David is just about crazy enough to face down the most powerful High Epic of all to get his friend back. Or die trying.

Buy links:

How was it?

Firefight was a turning point in The Reckoners’ series, it felt more and more like a transition but it didn’t really explored what that transition, that transformation would be, Calamity does.

The series took a serious turn in this book, it’s familiar but feels and sounds different, and that wouldn’t be such a bad thing if it didn’t seem so abstract. The fact that the main characters are just as clueless as where are for a good chunk of the story gives the impression that Sanderson didn’t fully think through the trilogy. Calamity seemed so haphazardly stitch together at times that Megan became a convenient solution for every corner the author painted himself in. She became some sort of MacGuffin, the solution for every or any problems.

David is another “problem” unlike his weird expressions and metaphors David being reckless is not cute and yet it keeps being rewarded for it. In this book more than the others, his reckless behavior has no consequences. In the previous stories it at least seemed like he got lucky, there’s a sense of danger, impeding doom but with “don’t worry I got everything you need” Megan that just vanished.

As bad as it may sound, Calamity has its moments. Parts of the story, scenes that are engaging and really entertaining to read with a fair share of plot twists. However the book still left me with a weird aftertaste. Something or some things are missing. It’s unclear. Sanderson didn’t just leave a door open to eventually come back to the series, he delivered a “I need to get this done” book instead of a “I did it 😀.” but it’s impressive to see that even when it doesn’t look like he tried hard enough, it’s still good.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Calamity is available on The Book Depository, Amazon, Audible and other book retailers near you.

About the series:
I appreciated that the Epics, in all the levels strength and powers they possess, are still subject to time, decay, and sickness. In the series we see the ordinary humans fear and/or revere them as deities. But they are riddled with issues that you wouldn’t expect in such powerful beings to have.

More in the series:

The Reckoners 1
Review | Book | Audiobook
The Reckoners 1.5
Review | Book | Audiobook
The Reckoners 2
Review | Book | Audiobook