Review: Heart Bones by Colleen Hoover

Heart Bones by Colleen Hoover
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: August 19th 2020
Links: EbookPaperback • Goodreads
Source: I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review

Life and a dismal last name are the only two things Beyah Grim’s parents ever gave her. After carving her path all on her own, Beyah is well on her way to bigger and better things, thanks to no one but herself.

With only two short months separating her from the future she’s built and the past she desperately wants to leave behind, an unexpected death leaves Beyah with no place to go during the interim. Forced to reach out to her last resort, Beyah has to spend the remainder of her summer on a peninsula in Texas with a father she barely knows. Beyah’s plan is to keep her head down and let the summer slip by seamlessly, but her new neighbor Samson throws a wrench in that plan.

Samson and Beyah have nothing in common on the surface.

She comes from a life of poverty and neglect; he comes from a family of wealth and privilege. But one thing they do have in common is that they’re both drawn to sad things. Which means they’re drawn to each other. With an almost immediate connection too intense for them to continue denying, Beyah and Samson agree to stay in the shallow end of a summer fling. What Beyah doesn’t realize is that a rip current is coming, and it’s about to drag her heart out to sea.

Heart Bones is essentially a beach read, Colleen Hoover style, which means it’s heartbreaking and intense. And since the only requirement I have for beach reads is that it takes place on the beach, this book worked for me! And even though I just said it was heartbreaking, Heart Bones was surprisingly an easy, enjoyable read. It didn’t hit quite as emotional as I’m used to from this author but it does have a twist towards the end in classic CoHo style. I wish it could’ve been longer because there was so much to explore near the end but I did like the unique storyline and the heroine’s journey in discovering love and family.

Beyah grew up in poverty with her single, drug-addicted mother. Food was never a guarantee for her and she was left to fend for herself way too young. Now, at 19, she has a volleyball scholarship waiting for her in Pennsylvania, but with her mother dying of an overdose and nowhere to go, she’s forced to live with her estranged father. So she joins her father and her new stepmother and stepsister to a beach house on a Texas peninsula. Her next door neighbor is rich boy Samson, who hides behind his camera with his secrets and mysteries. And it’s on the beach that Beyah learns what it’s like to trust, to love, and be loved, not just with Samson, but with a family she never expected.

As with all of Colleen Hoover’s books, the writing is solid. I always enjoy the way she builds her characters. Beyah is broken from her traumatic past but has an inner strength I admired. Her new family is wonderful – I genuinely loved that she forms a friendship with her stepsister, who is so kind and endearing. Samson’s character wasn’t as compelling as I hoped it would be. I was curious about his secrets and absolutely didn’t expect the twist towards the end with his character, but he’s definitely not a new favorite Colleen Hoover hero for me.

Still, I really enjoyed the story overall, though I wish it was longer. What Beyah and Samson go through will have your heart hurting. It’s almost a tragic kind of love between two broken souls (but there is an HEA, I promise!) with their romance having an end date once summer ends, though you can’t help but root for them anyway. If you love your beach reads on the sad, more emotional side, Heart Bones is pretty much perfect for you!


lacey


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Review: A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire by Jennifer L. Armentrout

A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Blood and Ash #2 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: September 1st 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review

Is Love Stronger Than Vengeance?

A Betrayal…

Everything Poppy has ever believed in is a lie, including the man she was falling in love with. Thrust among those who see her as a symbol of a monstrous kingdom, she barely knows who she is without the veil of the Maiden. But what she does know is that nothing is as dangerous to her as him. The Dark One. The Prince of Atlantia. He wants her to fight him, and that’s one order she’s more than happy to obey. He may have taken her, but he will never have her.

A Choice….

Casteel Da’Neer is known by many names and many faces. His lies are as seductive as his touch. His truths as sensual as his bite. Poppy knows better than to trust him. He needs her alive, healthy, and whole to achieve his goals. But he’s the only way for her to get what she wants—to find her brother Ian and see for herself if he has become a soulless Ascended. Working with Casteel instead of against him presents its own risks. He still tempts her with every breath, offering up all she’s ever wanted. Casteel has plans for her. Ones that could expose her to unimaginable pleasure and unfathomable pain. Plans that will force her to look beyond everything she thought she knew about herself—about him. Plans that could bind their lives together in unexpected ways that neither kingdom is prepared for. And she’s far too reckless, too hungry, to resist the temptation.

A Secret…

But unrest has grown in Atlantia as they await the return of their Prince. Whispers of war have become stronger, and Poppy is at the very heart of it all. The King wants to use her to send a message. The Descenters want her dead. The wolven are growing more unpredictable. And as her abilities to feel pain and emotion begin to grow and strengthen, the Atlantians start to fear her. Dark secrets are at play, ones steeped in the blood-drenched sins of two kingdoms that would do anything to keep the truth hidden. But when the earth begins to shake, and the skies start to bleed, it may already be too late.

Ever since I finished From Blood and Ash, A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire shot up to the top of my most anticipated sequels of 2020. FBAA is one of my favorite books this year and the ending absolutely killed me. I NEEDED to read more of Poppy, Cas, and this epic fantasy world full of gods, magic, and vampires! Thankfully, this much-awaited sequel did not disappoint. I loved being back with our main characters, who have such great banter and chemistry together, and learning more about this new world Poppy is discovering.

AKOFAF literally picks up right where FBAA left off, with the wildest proposal ever. Poppy is rightfully hurt and angry at Casteel for his lies and betrayal, so their relationship, or what’s left of it, is on thin ice. Now to add in a marriage? It’s crazy – but it just might work. They both have something at stake and will do anything, even marry each other, to reach their goals. And in the midst of this marriage of convenience(!), Poppy also has to deal with being an outsider and despised by the Atlantians for being the former Maiden.

I was expecting a ton of angst and tension after what happened in FBAA and JLA dishes all of that out SO well. I was feeling so much for Poppy and Cas – they don’t want to want each other, but the lust and chemistry that developed while they were Poppy and Hawke is still there and only gets stronger the more time they spend together. JLA nails the push and pull of the romance, the longing, the heartache, and the love. Poppy and Casteel are both fantastic characters and there was never a time I didn’t root for them or want them to get their HEA. And I just gotta say, our vampire prince hero is even hotter this second time around! I loved him as Hawke but he’s way more compelling as Casteel.

We do get much more of the world-building, as expected in a fantasy sequel. There isn’t as much action and the pacing of AKOFAF is definitely slower, as it focuses more on fleshing out this fantasy world and developing Poppy and Cas’s relationship. But one of the things I love about JLA is that her writing is so easy to read. I never felt like there was too much info-dumping and despite how much more detailed and in-depth we get into the Atlantian world, I never felt like I was lost reading it all.

AKOFAF is a fantastic follow-up to one of my favorite reads of the year. Poppy is more of her badass self, the romance is steamyyy (I am HERE for all the hot fantasy romances!), and I just love this world JLA has created so much. If you thought the FBAA ending was awful (in the best way), prepare for AKOFAF’s! The cliffhanger will have you screaming!


lacey


Reading Order: Blood and Ash series

#1 ~ From Blood and Ash: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#2 ~ A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads


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Review: From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout

From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Blood and Ash #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: March 30th 2020
Links: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
Source: I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review

A Maiden…

Chosen from birth to usher in a new era, Poppy’s life has never been her own. The life of the Maiden is solitary. Never to be touched. Never to be looked upon. Never to be spoken to. Never to experience pleasure. Waiting for the day of her Ascension, she would rather be with the guards, fighting back the evil that took her family, than preparing to be found worthy by the gods. But the choice has never been hers.

A Duty…

The entire kingdom’s future rests on Poppy’s shoulders, something she’s not even quite sure she wants for herself. Because a Maiden has a heart. And a soul. And longing. And when Hawke, a golden-eyed guard honor bound to ensure her Ascension, enters her life, destiny and duty become tangled with desire and need. He incites her anger, makes her question everything she believes in, and tempts her with the forbidden.

A Kingdom…

Forsaken by the gods and feared by mortals, a fallen kingdom is rising once more, determined to take back what they believe is theirs through violence and vengeance. And as the shadow of those cursed draws closer, the line between what is forbidden and what is right becomes blurred. Poppy is not only on the verge of losing her heart and being found unworthy by the gods, but also her life when every blood-soaked thread that holds her world together begins to unravel.

Oh. My. Gosh.

What was that ending????

I need book two STAT.

WOW. What an incredible read. I’ve been a fan of JLA since Obsidian, but From Blood and Ash without a doubt is her best work to date. This new adult fantasy romance was absolutely incredible. The world-building is fantastic and not at all too much info dumping. I loved our main characters Poppy and Hawke. To be honest, about 80% of the book was a solid 4 star read for me, until the last 20% blew everything out of the water. The last hundred pages is truly EPIC. I could not put this book down and would highly recommend it for anyone who loves fantasy romance or wants to get in to the subgenre!

Poppy is known as the Maiden. She’s basically the “chosen one,” waiting for the day of her Ascension, where humans ascend to become immortal and powerful. Since losing her parents, she’s been kept under lock and key, unable to communicate with anyone other than her guardians and bodyguards. Her life is… not her own. But when she gets a new bodyguard after the tragic death of her last one, her life starts to get turned upside down, no thanks to Hawke.

I won’t get too much into the details of this book, because I truly believe it’s so much better to experience the story if you go into it blind. The twists and turns that happen in the last 100 pages are jaw-dropping. I’m in awe of how JLA was able to blow my mind away! Poppy made a kickass heroine, so headstrong, intelligent, and caring. I loved how she knew how to defend herself and would kill to protect those she loved. Hawke is a bit of a mystery, gorgeous and alpha and so intrigued by Poppy. They made a fantastic couple together with lots of great banter.

I am now currently dying to get my hands on the sequel. JLA really did us dirty with that cliffhanger. Just kidding, I still love her. FBAA is now one of my favorite reads of 2020 and I can’t wait to see what else JLA has in store for us in this world!


lacey


Reading Order: Blood and Ash series

#1 ~ From Blood and Ash: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#2 ~ A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire: EbookPaperbackGoodreads (Sept. 1, 2020)


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Review: Angry God by L.J. Shen

Angry God by L.J. Shen
Series: All Saints High #3 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: February 18th 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

Vaughn Spencer.
They call him an angry god.
To me, he is nothing but a heartless prince.
His parents rule this town, its police, every citizen and boutique on Main Street.
All I own is a nice, juicy grudge against him for that time he almost killed me.
Between hooking up with a different girl every weekend, breaking hearts, noses and rules, Vaughn also finds the time to bully little ole’ me.
I fight back, tooth and nail, never expecting him to chase me across the ocean after we graduate high school.
But here he is, living with me in a dark, looming castle on the outskirts of London.
A fellow intern. A prodigal sculptor. A bloody genius.
They say this place is haunted, and it is.
Carlisle Castle hides two of our most awful secrets.
Vaughn thinks he can kill the ghosts of his past, but what he doesn’t know? It’s my heart he’s slaying.

I wish I could say this was everything that I’d hoped Vaughn’s book would be, but it was a disappointment more than anything. I genuinely enjoyed the first two books in the All Saints High series, despite not really being into romances set in high school anymore, but I put my trust in LJ Shen knowing she could deliver fantastic writing, characters, angst, and steam. While PR and BK had all of that, Angry God in comparison fell flat. I’d been so hyped from the Vaughn/Lenny scenes we got in BK – their chemistry in that book was on fire! Their banter was so much fun! But sadly, I didn’t feel the romance, didn’t BELIEVE in their romance. It was just a fucked-up sociopath on a warpath for revenge, and he didn’t care who he had to hurt or use in order to do it.

At the end of BK, we knew Lenny and Vaughn had gone to England for an art program. Going into AG, I was expecting it to start off around that time. Instead, we get a good third of the book set during their final year of high school… and it felt like nothing was happening. The story moved so slowly I felt bored along with frustrated. Vaughn would be unbelievably cruel to Lenny (and his classmates) but also follow her around like a lost puppy, Lenny would try to act cool and collected but still get bullied by Vaughn and the mean girls. Rinse and repeat all this drama, until they finally left for England. I actually did like whenever Lenny stood up for herself – I NEED these NA heroines in bully romances to stand up to their bullies if I’m going to enjoy the story. But then any time Vaughn doled out scraps of his affection and attention, Lenny would soak it up like she’d been living in a desert, despite how horribly he treated her the other 90% of the time.

Vaughn’s quest for revenge is a mystery to everyone, but it’s fairly predictable to the reader. Something awful happened to him as a young boy, which is why he’s the sociopath that he is. While I sympathized with his tragic past, I never really grew to care for Vaughn… like, at all. He had SO MUCH POTENTIAL, but it all got squandered away by his endless BJs and melodramatic thoughts. I didn’t hate him, I didn’t like him either. LJ Shen has written some fabulous alpha-holes in the past, but sadly Vaughn is on the lower end of the spectrum. All I could think about was that he really needed to see a therapist.

The parts I did enjoy? The scenes with Vaughn’s parents. I can’t say that I loved Vicious in his own book, but anytime he shows up in any of the author’s other books, he shines. I loved seeing him as a husband and father. I loved his love for his wife and son. It’s hard not to compare father and son but Vaughn didn’t make an impression on me as much as Vicious did. Also, Vicious gave some GOOD grovel, whereas Vaughn did not.

I’ll be honest, I’m a little wary of anything else LJ Shen has in store for us now. I gave her latest two book 2 stars, which is so disappointing when I used to give her 4’s and 5’s. I’m not giving up on her just yet, but I’m reaaally hoping we get back that spark that made me love her books.

I also gotta give a trigger warning despite it being slightly spoilery, or at least it makes it easier to connect the dots: child rape/abuse


lacey

Reading Order: All Saints High series

#1 ~ Pretty Reckless: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#2 ~ Broken Knight: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ Angry God: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads


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Review: Whatever It Takes by Krista & Becca Ritchie

Whatever It Takes by Krista & Becca Ritchie
Series: Bad Reputation Duet #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: January 21st 2020
Links: EbookPaperback • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

​I HAVE A BAD REPUTATION.

Call me what you want: Bad Boy Next Door. Trouble. That Kid Who Can’t Do Anything Right.

When Willow moves into my neighborhood, nothing should have happened. She’s geeky. Shy. A true wallflower.

Willow is a good girl.
Too good for me.

And how the hell was I supposed to know that she’s related to Loren Hale—yeah, that douchebag celebrity that lives on my street. The same guy I’ve been pranking by spray painting vulgar words on his mailbox and worse. Much worse.

Don’t ask me why I do the things I do.
Don’t ask me why it had to be her.

I’m cursed. Simple as that. But here’s the thing about people who are cursed—they break everything they touch.

And yet. . .I still want to touch her. ​

I truly never thought I’d see the day where we finally get Willow and Garrison’s much-awaited full story!!! I am beyond happy and grateful Krista & Becca Ritchie have finally given it to us – at least the first part. Luckily, book two of the Bad Reputation Duet is out only a week after Whatever It Takes! This is a new adult romance that’s a spinoff of the Addicted series, though you don’t have to read the original to understand this duet. But if you are a fan of the Addicted world and all its fantastic characters, you’ll want to get your hands on WIT immediately!

Originally, Willow and Garrison’s beginning was released on Wattpad, and it was such an adorable, wholesome new adult romance. We have two complete opposites who connect over their loneliness and bond over all things nerdy like comic books. In Whatever It Takes, we do get to see those original chapters again. The book is told in past and present POVs, so the past chapters are mainly made up of what we’d read on Wattpad, which I honestly didn’t mind reading again. We get to see how Willow and Garrison first meet alongside their present-day, long-distance relationship and how they deal with living across an ocean from each other. It was an interesting contrast to read about their relationship at two different points – one being sweet, slow, romantic, and the other full of longing and little bit of heartbreak.

I loved being back in this world. I enjoyed Garrison and Willow’s story so much, but I LOVED seeing the Calloways, Hales, Cobalts, and Meadows again. Seeing the Core 6 in their element made my heart sing. But don’t worry, if you haven’t read any of the original books, I don’t think you’ll feel lost. It’s just an amazing cast of secondary characters 😉

If you enjoy NA romances, WIT is a must read. There are parts that are set in college, a first love between a bad boy and a good girl, and a little bit of angst. It was just a great first book in this duet and I’m dying to get my hands on Wherever You Are!


Reading Order: Bad Reputation Duet

#1 ~ Whatever It Takes: EbookPaperback • Goodreads
#2 ~ Wherever You Are: EbookGoodreads (Jan. 28, 2020)

The Bad Reputation Duet is the spinoff of the Addicted & Calloway Sisters series! However, you don’t need to read the original series to understand the Bad Reputation Duet.

Reading Order: Addicted/Calloway Sisters series

Addicted to You by Krista & Becca Ritchie Ricochet by Krista & Becca Ritchie Addicted for Now by Krista & Becca Ritchie Kiss the Sky by Krista & Becca Ritchie Hothouse Flower by Krista & Becca Ritchie
Thrive by Krista & Becca Ritchie Addicted After All by Krista & Becca Ritchie Fuel the Fire by Krista & Becca Ritchie Long Way Down by Krista & Becca Ritchie Some Kind of Perfect by Krista & Becca Ritchie

#1 ~ Addicted to You: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
#1.5 ~ Ricochet: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
#2 ~ Addicted for Now: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
#2.1 (Calloway Sisters #1) ~ Kiss the Sky: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
#2.2 (Calloway Sisters #2) ~ Hothouse Flower: Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
#2.5 ~ Thrive: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
#3 ~ Addicted After All: EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads
#3.1 (Calloway Sisters #3) ~ Fuel the Fire: My Review • EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads
#3.2 (Calloway Sisters #4) ~ Long Way Down: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#3.5 (Calloway Sisters #4.5) ~ Some Kind of Perfect: My Review • EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads

The Like Us series is the spinoff series of the Addicted & Calloway Sisters series.

Reading Order: Like Us series

 

#1 ~ Damaged Like Us: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#2 ~ Lovers Like Us: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ Alphas Like Us: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#4 ~ Tangled Like Us: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#5 ~ Sinful Like Us: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#6 ~ Headstrong Like Us: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#7 ~ Charming Like Us: EbookGoodreads (June 23, 2020)
#8 ~ Wild Like Us: Goodreads (2020)


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