ARC Review: Demon Dialysis by Jennifer Siddoway

Demon Dialysis - Book OneGoodreads/Amazon

synInspired by the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale, Wynnona Hendricks finds herself caught between the realms of Heaven, Hell, and Earth, fighting for her right to live.

The Demon Lord, Aidan, has activated her latent powers carefully hidden behind a mortal facade and now, she must conquer the Seven Deadly Sins or be sent to Hell herself as one of his minions. The only one who seems to believe in her is Caleb, the angel who chose to spare her life rather than risk the shedding of innocent blood, but by doing so, may have started a war between the factions, throwing the Mortal Realm into mayhem.

Follow Wynn as she fights to protect her family from being ripped apart, including her mother, who isn’t what she seems.

review3.5/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via the author  

Here’s What I Liked:

  • Flawed characters who struggle with temptation, morality, and recognize that good and evil reside in all of us. The fight against their inner demons against all-too-real demonic forces is an uphill battle. Wynn makes mistakes, she fights hard, and is not always successful, that makes her relatable and easy to sympathize with. 
  • The premise is tried and true, but has a special twist. It’s taken a step further than your traditional Heaven vs. Hell trope, adding on a whole world of other paranormal creatures and complexities that blend well in both the para and human worlds. 
  • Aidan is a brilliant take on Lucifer. He’s playful, seductive, and yet, surprisingly helpful. It almost seems like he has a heart buried somewhere deep and dark in his chest. The interactions with Wynn were dangerous, foreboding, and amusing, despite the sense that something terrible would happen. Aidan makes good on horrific threats one second and is sweet the next. You’ll never know if you can trust him. Delightfully complex. 
  • The ending. Epic, in your face, violent and sudden. Seriously brutal. You won’t see it coming and it’s so quick it hits harder. Emotional turmoil extreme. This made me, more than anything else, hunger for the next book. 
  • The deadly sin trials were creative and graphic. You’ll be able to picture everything and they really helped Wynn to grow. 
  • Cover love.

Here’s What I Disliked:

  • The pace. After the initial meeting with Caleb and Aidan, it’s achingly slow at times. The space between the first few chapters, the trials, and that explosive ending drag and you’ll wonder what actually happened in those pages. 
  • Instalove. Wynn’s attraction to Caleb is automatic and understandable. He’s super cute and a sweetheart. Plus, the way he vouches for her, serious knight in shining armor. After that scene and the verdict (purposely vaguebooking to prevent spoilers), they don’t have much interaction and what interaction they do have (up until almost the end of the book with the roof scene) feels like nostalgia or a flashback. It’s a lot of telling, not enough showing. I didn’t experience and live through Wynn’s character because there wasn’t the opportunity, at least romantically. There was more lead up to a romance with Aidan. On top of that, Wynn makes offhand comments about how close she and Caleb are that almost feel like a lie because their interactions weren’t that memorable, were far apart, and short. 
  • At the circle ruling where Wynn meets all the paranormal entities, it’s a rush of information that suckerpunches. All of these details at once were a little overwhelming. There’s one description after another of each of these people without names and then they come in and have names and it’s hard to keep track. The world building is also jam-packed in this tiny section. It would have functioned a bit better and been less intense if it had been more spaced out. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Pleasant reading, 

Jordan

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ARC Review: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Rebel of the SandsGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

syn

She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him…or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

review

3/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via Penguin FirstToRead

I wanted to love this book so hard. That cover. I mean, come on. The storyline. EPIC. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this story because it was so unlike anything I’ve read. And then, I started and there were times where I fell, I slipped into this magical, dusty reality with djinn and folklore, with a feisty heroine and a playful trickster, when kisses could set the pages on fire. Other times, I struggled not to DNF it. It’s crazy difficult to write this review because there are so many things going for this story, so many wonderful, exciting, powerful things, and then…it kind of flat lines. 

PROS:

  • Amani is a determined and pretty badass character. She’s fierce and brave, and doesn’t shy away from danger. She gets up in the chaos and yes, sometimes she nearly dies, but the adrenaline rush, the fear, the drama, it’s all worth it. The initial shooting contest is EDGE OF YOUR SEAT AMAZING. It truly feels like the Old West meets Middle Eastern mystery. She calls people out on their bluffs. She’s definitely interesting and keeps you wanting more of her edgy personality. All she wants is freedom and she’ll do anything to get it. 
  • While many characters fizzled out, Jin stuck. He’s playful, flirtatious without being too aggressive. He’s heroic and a little silly. He loves to tease and he’s incredibly courageous. A total man of mystery and crazy swoon worthy. He keeps Amani on her toes and is the perfect companion for adventure. 
  • There are a ton of twists and turns that will keep you guessing. There’s a subtle hint of darkness and mystery, of magic and wonder that add flair to the story. The creatures are mesmerizing. The folklore/stories bewitching. You’ll want to find out more. 

CONS:

  • There’s a massive amount of stuff going on. Threads upon threads of storyline and tons of description. While normally this is a pro, it felt excessive and confusing. Too much. The story behind the death of Amani’s parents, the subplots all seems to merge together in a blob that jumps from one thing to another without letting the story develop. Just when I’d get hooked, when stories about the djinn or the First Beings would come up, it would leap to something else, and I wanted to throw my hands up in frustration. 
  • The world building was overwhelming. There is an issue with overabundance. There are several locations and cultures, ways of life, and stories that all come up to the point where it feels a little like a history textbook. There were whole sections that I skimmed because they went on forever. Tolkien level description. While this is awesome, it made you forget about the main characters.
  • The story lacked focus. You think it’s about one thing and then it goes to another. Direction. There’s a bunch of build up about the Rebel Prince and the traitor’s supposed crimes and nothing. A wild goose chase yes, but the Rebel Prince’s actual face time, like a scene. The punch wasn’t there.

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Magical reading, 

Jordan

Review: An Ember in the Ashes-Sabaa Tahir

an-ember-in-the-ashes-by-sabaa-tahirGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

Created of sinless, smokeless fire. They rode the winds and read the stars, and their beauty was the beauty of wild places.

***

‘There are two kinds of guilt,’ I say softly. ‘The kind that’s a burden and the kind that gives you purpose. Let your guilt be your fuel. Let it remind you of who you want to be. Draw a line in your mind. Never cross it again. You have a soul. It’s damaged, but it’s there. Don’t let them take it from you, Elias.’

***

‘Fear can be good, Laia. It can keep you alive. But don’t let it control you. Don’t let it sow doubts within you. When the fear takes over, use the only thing more powerful, more indestructible, to fight it: your spirit. Your heart.’

cooltext1889161239 copyLaia is a slave.

Elias is a soldier.

Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

cooltext1889171582 copy3.5/5 Stars

+++Contains triggers: Graphic violence, abuse.

An Ember in the Ashes is a dark and brilliant tale of passion and perseverance. An intricate world of military aggression, scholarly downfall, and rebellion mixed with creatures of legend, there’s something for everyone. 

PROS:

  • The Masks and the Commandant are sadistic, despicable entities. They torture and revel in pain. Some parts are extremely graphic and gruesome. Blood and gore, danger, fear are all heady and dizzying realities. The slaves live in a perpetual state of uncertainty and hopelessness. The military state is oppressive and violent. They take and deal out pain on whim and don’t flinch when taking lives. People are worthless to them, especially Scholars. They’re to be used and discarded without thought. 
  • The An Ember in the Ashes world is complex and gritty. Torn between duty and survival, characters vary between brainwashed to vigilante. The life of a slave girl is worlds away from the grueling trials Masks suffer, and yet none have freedom, none have escaped pain, torment, and loss. Everyone has the weight of the Empire on their soul. 
  • Magic and mystery add another dimension to the plot. The Augers, the startling truth of the Scholar downfall, and the resurgence of mystical creatures adds a smoky, sinister mood to the story, one that brings foreboding, mischief, and dire circumstances. The creatures in the Trials are beings of myth and fairy tales. It’s kind of ironic that in order to prevail, the Masks, who have discarded the Tribal folks and the Scholars must rely on the swirling words of legend to survive. 
  • Laia is a frightened little bird who shoulders the greatness of her parents without hope of ever living up to their bravery. Laia doubts herself. Living in the shadows of her parents memory, the prowess of her brother, and the gentle hands of her grandparents, Laia can’t fathom coming close to their courage. They’d risked everything, suffered months of torture for a cause that Laia in unworthy (in her eyes) to be a part of. Laia has never had to make life or death decisions and when it counts, her failure cripples her. Laia grows and learns that she is enough. Listening to her brother’s voice in her head, Laia finds the fire within herself to fight, to sacrifice, and to risk, consequences be damned. Laia’s bravery is long coming and fierce. She prevails where others cannot. 
  • Elias hates his life. He’s too aware of the injustices of the Masks and the whole Empire. He can’t live with the notion of hurting others, of being so careless with lives just because he’s skilled with a sword. All Elias wants is to escape his heritage and his fate but his choices are robbed from him. Elias feels lost and lonely. His soul is in jeopardy. Elias is powerful, sexy, and compassionate. Where others resign themselves to the cruelty of the world, Elias interferes. He loves and he hurts along with those who suffer. His heart, his ability to feel so deeply are his burden to bear. 
  • The romance is compelling, eye-opening, and raw. Each pairing has something tragic and beautiful about it. The heat is slow simmering, bold and honest. 

CONS:

  • After the initial brutally graphic and horrific raid scene, the story takes a while to pick up. The danger is hot and heavy, but some scenes, particularly Elias’ parts at Blackcliff were hard to get through. 
  • Laia’s trust in the Rebellion group is hard to understand. It’s dire and out of necessity, however, she barely questions and puts faith in the very group that got her family slaughtered. Furthermore, when things start to get extremely suspicious, she brushes it off, only half-heartedly asking questions once or twice. Laia is hardly a pushover, she grows exponentially throughout the story, she’s insanely brave and yet, when it comes down to asking the hard questions, she’s a little oblivious and cowardly. 
  • Big, intense truths were revealed one after the other near the end of the story. On top of the precarious situations and adrenaline rush of the trials, these snippets of story are sucker punches. They hit hard and are a bit overwhelming. The shock is there, full throttle.

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this;

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Keep reading, 

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Review: Coven-Lacey Weatherford

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00033]Goodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks/Smashwords

cooltext1889161239 copyKenna Mangum was born a witch. She’s always known it -her family has always known it – from the moment she burst into flames in her father’s arms after she was born.

Denied interaction with regular society while she was coached into controlling her powers, Kenna has always felt a longing to join the rest of the world and get to experience a “normal” life.

Now her wish is about to be granted.

But when Kenna walks into public school for the first time, she immediately locks eyes with Jett Blackstone and realizes all chances of “normal” just disappeared.

cooltext1889171582 copy3/5 Stars

PROS:

  • Kenna is fiery (literally). She’s spirited, confident, she’s unafraid to speak her mind and challenge others. Totally BA, she will not back down from a fight, preferring to take things head on. Kenna is definitely the firecracker Vance lovingly nicknamed her as. Kenna is fierce in mind and body. Her words pack a powerful punch, as do her fists. A passionate dancer, Kenna wants to experience life to its fullest and let her heart run free. Kenna firmly believes that women are just as deadly as men and takes opportunities to prove it; she refuses to let people diminish her because of her sex. In that way, Kenna is a role model for honing in on talents, believing that women are capable of achieving anything they set their minds to, and being assertive. Despite her confidence, Kenna is confused, scared, and lays her heart on the line. She doesn’t know what to do, she makes mistakes, and though she’s magical, her challenges make her human and relatable.
  • A love triangle of epic proportions. Drama, drama, drama. Kenna feels drawn to both guys-one, the sexy bad boy, the other, the sweetheart that will do anything for her. The chemistry is off the charts hot. The tension radiates off the page so consuming that you kind of feel bad for Kenna but I mean, what a lovely dilemma and so much fun. Both guys have things going for them, neither is perfect and just when you think there’s an obvious choice, their actions will surprise you. It’s messy, emotional, and causes chaos for Kenna but the friendship between this trio is natural, exhilarating and together, they make each other better, more than they were and their magic grows exponentially. 
  • Vance is as dark and playful as ever. It’s adorable seeing his love and adoration for Kenna. She’s his baby and their connection is comical. Being able to read his sexy thoughts about her mother is way awkward but hilarious and you can feel their bond, it glows and builds as the story progresses. 
  • Jett is the redeemable bad boy. He’s sarcastic, aggressive, assertive, and full of innuendo that is occasionally blatant vulgarity. His dominant vibe draws Kenna like a moth to flame, no matter how hard she resists, the temptation is still there. Jett is not wholly wicked, he has a big heart and is willing to be the caring charmer underneath all the baggage of his demonic coven. For Kenna, he’s willing to do anything and everything to win her affection. 
  • Seth is confident but down to Earth. Full of chivalry and good intention, his dimples and honesty make him insanely attractive. He goes out of his way to make Kenna feel comfortable and welcome, their make out scenes are sinfully sexy. Seth is not perfect. He gets carried away and has made mistakes in love in the past but he’s open and never denies Kenna the truth, even if it makes him look bad.

 

CONS:

  • I spent most of the book waiting for a climax. The story trickled along as the love triangle grew steadily stronger but outside of the relationship drama, not much else happened up until the last two chapters of the book.
  • Secondary characters fell into the background and simply fizzled out. What could have been as interesting friendship with Stephanie or animosity with Megan faded away as all emphasis was placed on the main trio. Even Portia fell into the blank space, her personality flickering in and out of the story.
  • Parts of the story felt disconnected almost as if this were two separate books. Vance and Portia’s drama played a large secondary role. Their struggles to reclaim Portia’s lost magic and references to the Of Witches and Warlocks series were big chunks of summary and a whole bunch of information if you don’t know Portia and Vance’s whole history. It was a bit overwhelming, even for me, and I’ve read the entire series.
  • Kenna’s relationship with Seth and Jett made me uncomfortable. The weird ménage aspect felt too adult and somewhat creepy. There’s a particular scene after they make their big decision that made me pause and question their feelings towards each other.

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

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Magical reading,

cooltext1915142005 copy

Review: The Dark Rising-Lacey Weatherford

3/5 Stars

The Dark Rising (Of Witches and Warlocks, #4)-Lacey Weatherford

11013328

“Well, then something is going wrong with our little experiment because I just served myself up to him like a rare steak on a demon dinner platter!”

+++

He pulled our bodies tighter together, and I felt myself turning to molten liquid in his embrace, my emotions coursing through me while our mouths moved in perfect unison.

WARNING: DOES CONTAIN SPOILERS if you haven’t read books 1-3.

Plot: After the devastating death of her soul mate, Vance, Portia is hardly able to function. They’d faced the darkest evils and their own demons to be together and a tragic battle left Portia husbandless and alone. Portia feels as though her life has ended, she doesn’t know how to survive in a Vance-less world even with the love and support of her coven, she feels shell-shocked. Inconsolable after looking at their wedding pictures, Portia speeds off into the night to visit Vance’s resting place only to discover a dark figure lurking near his grave. Vance is alive, in perfect health, and sexier than ever, the only problem is, he’s got a serious case of amnesia. As Portia fights to gain her Vance back, something dark and sinister is happening out in the witching world, a horrible vengeance plot designed to destroy Portia’s and Vance’s love once and for all. Will Portia’s love be enough to bring Vance out of the depths of his demonic blood lust and back to the light?

Additonally. here is the Goodreads summary:

When Portia Mullins discovers the love of her life is still alive her heart soars. But reality sets in immediately causing it to plummet when she realizes he doesn’t remember his past life with her. Unwilling to give up, she embarks on a loving quest to restore his life to him.
Vance Mangum sees the beautiful girl claiming to be his wife, and while he can’t remember her, he can’t deny the intense pull he feels between them. Not knowing where else to turn, he agrees to give her the time she’s asked for and to assist her in the effort to recover his memories.
The two quickly reconnect, but dark surprises are lurking in the wings when Vance discovers a desperate longing for something he feels he can’t withstand. Will he be able to resist? Or will evil raise its head in a new form, leaving Portia as the prey of the very man her heart desires?
Darkness reigns supreme in this haunting tale of love and desperation, Of Witches and Warlocks, The Dark Rising.

PROS:

  • Portia is a remarkably brave and hopeful as she is infuriatingly naïve. She sacrifices herself, risks her life and her future to be with Vance when he doesn’t even remember her. It’s heartbreaking and transcending, their love is worth fighting for but a tad abusive and reckless. Portia gives in to temptation, embraces her inner vixen and finally decides to get a handle on her powers not connected to Vance. Portia empowers herself and becomes a stronger, solid character because of it. Despite Vance’s neglect, his hurtful vicious temper and blood lust Portia allows her heart to rule her actions and doesn’t really learn from her mistakes but continues to put herself into dire situations.
  •  The torture scene, the violence, and general wicked actions were boldly described and really captured the emotional turmoil that Portia suffered throughout the book.
  • Mayla. As a wicked, temptress of a Hoodoo coven she is fantastically evil. Her threats, her creepy presence and her vicious planning make her really terrifying.
  • New Vance is a bit of a mystery. He has some of old Vance’s personality but is really torn between the demonic and the light. It’s hard to grasp if he’s really in love with Portia or using her emotions as a tool. The uncertainty about Vance’s character is wonderfully written. You will be guessing his next move from one page to the next. His emotions and actions are so up and down that it’s impossible to know when he’ll transform from a loving, caring husband into a ravenous, blood-craving demon.

CONS:

  • The plot was a little slow and kind of random, things didn’t really link up well and felt forced.
  • The introduction of the jinn was just so out there. The fact that the guy just happens to randomly live out in the woods as an outcast is also another one of those things that felt like a plot filler.
  • The Hoodoo coven wasn’t emphasized and there wasn’t enough of them to fully picture them as the evil antagonist or as a truly serious threat.
  • Chemistry between Vance and Portia was fleeting and nowhere near as strong as in the previous book. This is somewhat understandable because Vance lost his memories but the connection, the fire was muted.

If you liked any of the following, you’d probably enjoy this:

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Pleasant reading,

-BB