Secondborn (Secondborn #1) by Amy A. Bartol – Five Stars!

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Nine Fates of the Republic rule: The Fate of Virtues, Fate of Swords, Fate of Stars, Fate of Atoms, Fate of Suns, Fate of Diamonds, Fate of Moons, Fate of Seas, and Fate of Stones.

The Virtues rule over all. Swords = military and might. Stars = technology. Atoms = medical. Diamonds = entertainment and journalism. Stones = service-oriented. (I’m not sure that the book goes into what the others specialize in.) This book focuses mainly on the Swords.

The Fates are ruled by firstborns. Procreation is only allowed among firstborns and they can only have two children. The secondborn goes through a Transition, where he or she leaves his family and life to go into a type of job, like being a soldier, nurse, scientist, or if they are lucky, an assistant to a firstborn.

Once the secondborn transitions, they are treated as basically servants or slaves, make very little money (most goes to their firstborn sibling or parents), are not allowed to have relationships or children, and in the case of Swords, live communally in barracks.

This is about a secondborn named Roselle St. Sismode. Her mother is the Clarity of the Fate of Swords, a very powerful leader and politician. When she Transitions, she goes to a military base, where she is not expected to live long. The public has watched her grow up, but the foot soldiers think she is spoiled and not one of them.

The good thing is, she was trained her whole life to prepare for war by a kick-ass warrior named Dune, and isn’t so easy to kill. She finds new friends and of course gets wrapped up in a rebellion.

I LOVED this! I love dystopians, so may be a bit biased, but this is a perfect offering for the genre. Yes, it does possibly have similarities to other famous dystopians, but that doesn’t bother me a bit. It’s a little bit Mockingjay (this is more sci-fi with flying ships and technology).

The Census is another part of this twisted world. Those who work in it search for thirdborns and kill them (and the mother)! They also work to uncover traitors and anyone breaking laws. The are basically unpoliced. Crow is one of them who has his twisted eyes on Roselle.

I think this would make a great movie too!

Other reasons I liked this:

1. Roselle is a good female lead!
2. I liked the romantic interest.
3. I loved Crow, the villain. Love to hate, I should say.
4. I loved Clifton, the wealthy firstborn playboy, who is probably evil, but acts good – for now.
5. I LOVED Flannigan, the best minor character ever.
6. I devoured this in one day.
7. Roselle’s mother, Othala needs to be taken down! I hope she gets what is coming to her!
8. I loved the ragtag crew Roselle befriends – Edgerton and Hammon (Gilad, not sure about him).
9. The cyborg wolfhounds were cool!
10. No annoying angst or drama!

The follow up comes out in April 2018 and is on Netgalley!

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Rules of Engagement by Lily White

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Unfortunately this wasn’t as dark as I thought it would be. It involved stalking, but half of the time that part of the story was shoved in the background. Both of the main characters had tragic things in their pasts, but neither of those things were as screwed up as I thought they’d be based on each of their unusual responses to their pasts.

Mia got a pink slip. She had no resources to fall back on aside from going to her parents whom made her miserable. A website dark realities popped up on her computer. It offered to make all kinds of dark fantasies become true. Since she was in desperate need of cash, she signed up to be stalked. The stalking did get creepy at times, as expected. It irritated me that Mia seemed so shocked at what was happening to her. Obviously she didn’t take the warnings on the website seriously or until that point in her life she had been seriously disillusioned as to what stalking really was like.

Donovan was the love interest. He was a reclusive rich guy who was mute by choice. I never liked him. He was meant to be an asshole in the beginning, but I never warmed to him like I was clearly supposed to. Although he improved by the end, the pushy asshole side of him remained too strong for my liking. Honestly I spent half of the book wondering why she didn’t tell him to get lost.

The suspense part of the story was okay. The mystery was who was behind the stalking. It appeared to be one character for most of the book. At the same time, it seemed way too obvious. I never figured out precisely who it was, but this book only had 5 characters. One was Mia and the other her friend. Clearly it wasn’t either of them, leaving only 3 possibilities. The end was okay, but I didn’t love it.

Thanks to Netgalley for giving me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

My rating ★★★

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Dual Reviews: Heart on Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles #3)

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Shelly’s Review:

This is the final book in the Kingmaker Chronicles trilogy (well, I suspect there will be more books set in the same world, but it concludes the three-book arc). The book begins with a shocking betrayal before Cat and Griffin head off to find a potion to help her unlock her powers, since they haven’t been reliable.

I’m not quite sure how to even properly write this review because I love the world Amanda Bouchet created and using Greek/Roman gods and mythological creatures was fantastic! I love Griffin, Carver, Kato, and Flynn. I love Lycheron, the alpha centaur. I feel like the supporting characters didn’t have much to do in this one. It’s mainly Cat and Griffin.

We spend a LOT of time in Cat’s head, and to be honest, it took a lot away from my reading experience. Cat still has so many doubts, she blames herself for everything, she angsts, she doesn’t trust, she doesn’t believe in herself, etc. etc. And we hear about it. A LOT.

It felt like there was SO MUCH talking. There would be an awesome action scene and then twenty pages of talking. I felt like there were really only about three main scenes in the whole book, a couple love scenes, and the rest was talking.

The scenes with Cat’s mother, the mega villain, were great. But, on the other hand, the ending felt… anti-climactic. I suppose it was fitting, in its own way, but there was no epic battle. The previous books felt to me like there was going to be an epic battle.

“Little Bean” is Cat’s nickname for her unborn baby. I really appreciated that Cat wasn’t “benched” during the book because she was pregnant. She still fought and was in the thick of it all. So that was excellent. What I didn’t like is just that it was used SO MUCH (87 times, I checked).

Overall, I would still recommend this trilogy. Griffin is one of my favorite male leads in romantasy. There are still plenty of stories that could be told in this world – and I would read them! Personally, and unfortunately, I just didn’t love this final installment.

One other thing I would say is that the second love scene was very well done. It was sexy, yet intensely emotional and intimate. I would imagine it’s difficult to capture that balance between alpha and sensitive husband without making it seem cheesy.

My review for A Promise of Fire.★★★★★

My review for Breath of Fire.★★★★

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Kira’s Review:

Once again I have mixed feelings. Some things were so good. I love Cat, Griffin, and their friends and family. They didn’t get enough page time together, so it wasn’t as humorous as the other books. Lots of page time was spent in Cat’s head while she wallowed in endless self pity and tried to figure things out. In a way it’s a good thing that Cat doubts her worth because I’d probably hate her if she were the arrogant type. There was a little too much of it. How many amazing things did she have to do before beginning to realize her worth?

To wrap things up Cat had to spend time with some new characters or see old ones in a new way. I desperately missed Beta Team. They were there, but it wasn’t the same. It wasn’t really a group effort to do things; it was all about Cat. The good thing was she was making better decisions and wasn’t as reckless. The character growth was needed, some of which came from her interactions with different characters.

I adore Griffin. The guy is almost perfect, but therein lies the problem. Perfection isn’t always interesting and can be predictable. Griffin is a great character, an excellent book boyfriend, but it was so easy to figure out what he’d do next. He strove to do what was right and fair. That part of him being perfect I liked. It was his constant support of Cat that got on my nerves. When she did really stupid things I wish he wouldn’t have forgiven her so quickly. Sometimes someone other than Cat needed to call her out on her own bullshit.

I didn’t care much about Ianthe or Bellanca. They both popped up towards the end of the last book. Neither of them got enough page time for me to get an attachment to them. Neither of them played much of a pivotal role in the story either. It was weird to me how attached all of the characters were to these two. It made sense that Cat cared for Ianthe since she was her sister, but none of the other bonds seemed realistic.

Little Bean are two words I’d be happy to never hear again. Was it really necessary for a baby the size of a bean to be mentioned so much? The way the baby reacted to things was unusual. The baby didn’t do anything, but still had a strong presence. It was weird.

The end had no big surprises. There were a few bumps in the road on the way to getting there. There were some surprises but none of them feel truly shocking. They didn’t drastically alter what was already known. It’s the characters that made this series, which more than made up for the other areas where it was lacking. Overall, I’d definitely recommend reading this series.

My review for A Promise of Fire ★★★★★

My review for Breath of Fire ★★★★

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The Magpie Lord (A Charm of Magpies #1)

This is my first review in 2018! It was a buddy read with my MacHalo ladies (surprise surprise). This year, we are doing themes for our books of the month and January was paranormal romance. The Magpie Lord was the winner.

This book also fits one of the challenges in the 2018 Madcap MacHalo Fantabulous Bookish Challenge Extravaganza (MMFBCE™): Mystery and Mischief. One down, eleven to go!

The Magpie Lord is a paranormal mystery with romance. It’s about a man named Crane (or Lord Crane, as he has recently inherited an earldom) and a justiciar named Stephen Day, who is basically a magician or mage or whatever you would like to call it.

Someone is trying to kill Crane and they are using magic to do it. Dirty, dark magic. Warlocks.

The story is about Crane and Day trying to figure out who is doing it and why and during the investigation, sparks fly. The romance is a rather slow burn, but there is a steamy scene towards the end! But it works quite well because who needs all that angst and lovey-dovey stuff, anyway?!

The writing is great and set in a sort of slightly reimagined Victorian times, I believe. There are trains and such, but candles are still used for lighting.

This isn’t a very complex mystery, but I did enjoy the rather satanic warlocks and their grotesque methods of magicking. (What can I say, I like dark stuff.) I’d like to find out more world-building about the ether and how the magic in this world works, but this was solid start to a series (and actually much better than a lot of “first book in series” books).

Crane and Day are a great couple and complement each other well. They are very different, yet enough alike to be intriguing and sexy.

I’m in for book two for sure!

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Freaky Friday: Old St. Nick’s Gender Swap Trick

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So around this time last year, I was reading a Christmas erotica called Old St. Nick’s Gender Swap Trick (Gender Swap Feminization Menage Santa Claus Krampus Christmas Festive Holiday Erotica). Wow, that is some title, huh? I like to read this silly stuff every once in awhile, and since it’s that time of year, I thought I would share part of my review. I won’t include it in its entirety here, but if you’d like to read the full review, it’s at Goodreads.

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So in this one, we have Santa who is preparing for Christmas, when he receives some homemade cookies from, who else, Krampus. Silly Santa shoves one in his piehole before his elf advisors can tell him that is probably not a good idea, and what happens?

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Santa turns into a sexy female! A sexy, horny female. It’s time for a jolly old gangbang!

This story had a good dose of the funneh, which is important to me when we’re dealing with over the top ridiculous porn/smut. There were LOTS of fluids. No hole is safe.

Miraculously, the tiny elves have huge peens.

“Nine inches long and nearly as girthy as a canned Christmas ham”

The “elf chowder” (bonus for coming up with that one) tasted like liquid candy cane, which is always a nice touch to add in Christmas porn.

Exclamations that should be used more often:

“Jingle Bells!” and “Sweet Baby Rudolph!”

The only downside is that even though Santa was kind of “tricked” into eating the cookies and becoming a woman, he was still married and therefore cheated on Mrs. Claus. According to this short story, their marriage was ruined because Mrs. Claus had surveillance set up previously in the room where the sex went down.

They ended up selling the sex tape as Holly Jolly XXXmas and it became the top-selling porn of all time.

I mean, I thought it was funny.

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Well, that’s it for this time. Stay Freaky and have a happy Christmas and merry New Year and all that.

We’ll be doing some yearly wrap ups soon and blog about our favorite books and movies, etc. Hard to believe 2017 is almost over! It flew by!

Laters!

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The Vixen’s Lead (Kit Davenport #1) by Tate James – Four Stars!

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WARNING: Over the top, silly, fun, sexy brain candy ahead! The author’s debut, The Vixen’s Lead, is about Kit Davenport, an 18-year-old thief. She grew up in an abusive foster home before being adopted by a secretive “Daddy Warbucks” type (see, I told you it was over the top). She goes to a sort of posh high school with her best friend, Lucy (who grew up with her in the foster home). Lucy is a genius hacker type who assists Kit (known as “The Fox” when she is thieving).

Kit gets introduced to some smoking hot, tattooed, ripped guys who are investigating The Fox. Things get complicated and sexy. This is a true reverse harem for adults. It reads as urban fantasy/paranormal romance with a few smutty scenes. Fun!

I am a little on the fence about Kit. In a way, she does TSTL stuff, is your typical chick-lit female (there is a brief “fat-shaming” scene towards the beginning and Kit spends a lot of time thinking about guys and shoes). She has a complicated past (and there may be sexual triggers for some during a couple scenes since sexual violence is a part of her past and the plot), but she doesn’t seem to be affected much by it.

I think the character could be fleshed-out a bit more and given more depth, but since I had fun reading the book, I won’t judge too harshly. A couple times, Kit runs off stupidly by herself (which is a pet peeve), but it isn’t dragged out and she realizes quickly she was dumb to do it.

The guys are SUPER hot and sexy. My favorite is Cole, the huge, muscly, caveman MMA fighter guy with tats. Next, even those he’s such an asshole, I really like Austin. I am ready for some hate sex! River, the group’s leader, with a British accent who wears expensive suits and drives expensive cars is pretty sexy. Then, there is Caleb (Austin’s twin) and Wesley, the cute, geeky hacker.

Kit also has some “special” abilities: speed, strength, and healing, and part of the book deals with her trying to figure out what she is.

Not a perfect book, but fun escapism! I enjoyed it enough to jump right into book two!

Buddy read with my reverse-harem-loving MacHalos!

“Academy of Assassins” by Stacey Brutger – 4 stars

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Morgan has no memory of her life before 10 years of age. She was found and raised by a powerful man named The Macgregor, leader of a coven of witches. The witches tortured and bullied Morgan because she has no magic, only she really does. It’s leashed by a magical torque she wears around her neck and she has no idea how she got it or what it’s true purpose is.

The Macgregor taught her to hunt and she is spectacular at it. She calls herself a mutt, but she is faster, stronger, than humans, and can heal. So she is something more, but we don’t know for most of the book.

Morgan finds herself at an academy, where she will train with other hunters. Since she trained so hard for so many years, it’s not surprising she finds herself on an elite team. Ryder, the shifter. Kincade, the leader, who is something unusual and smells of stone. Draven, the siren. Atlas, the fae.

There is someone else named Ascher too, but I won’t go into him because spoilers.

This reads like an urban fantasy with romance. It’s described as a slow burn reverse harem and that is accurate. There is bonding and kissing, but no sex. I really like all Morgan’s guys.

The world is interesting. The witches view everyone else as “less” and beneath them. They are the ones who can open and close portals and must be protected by the hunters. They get to “claim” shifters, who are treated as second-class citizens.

In this one, there is a murder mystery. Someone is killing women and carving runes onto their bodies, trying to perform a ritual, but failing. Part of the reason Morgan goes to the academy is to find out who the killer is. She ends up finally finding a place where she belongs.

There is a lot going on in this book and it could use a better editing job. But I liked the story and characters enough that the errors didn’t bother me.

I thought even though Morgan did some dumb things, it was acceptable because of her background. She has to learn to rely on other people and work as a team and trust does not come easy to her for good reason. But there is a lot of growth and I liked her.

I liked the supporting characters and even though the villains ended up being a bit predictable, I still thought this was a very solid and enjoyable first book in a series. I can’t wait to read the next one and see what happens with Morgan and her guys!

Buddy read with my reverse-harem-loving MacHalo girls!