BOOK REVIEW ~ BEAUTIFUL CREATURES BY KAMI GARCIA & MARGARET STOHL

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.
Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. WhenLena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.
In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

This is another one of those cases where watching the movie motivated me to read the book. I loved that this book didn’t have the typical paranormal creature (vampire, werewolf, etc…) and I was even more intrigued by the deep family and town history that played a huge role in the story, so needless to say I had to read this one. Overall, I enjoyed this book immensely, and I found the two main characters to be endearing, down-to-earth teenagers just trying to find their way. The pace of the book is pretty slow, but does move at a steady pace and since I’m a reader who appreciates it when historical elements are weaved into the story, I didn’t find the book to be boring or the tone monotonous at all.

The book is told almost entirely in the hero Ethan Wate’s POV, and from the beginning it’s known he’s plagued by dreams of a mysterious girl and an ominous, foreboding song that only he seems to hear. And in his small hometown of Gatlin where secrets become common knowledge and unspoken agreements become law, Ethan wants nothing more than to escape this stifling place and explore the world.
When he returns to his high school, he and everyone else is shocked to hear that there’s a new student, and the new kid is none other than Lena Duchannes, the niece of the town’s most abhorred resident and rumored ‘devil-worshipper.’ And even though he knows he shouldn’t, Ethan is hopelessly drawn to Lena and her to him. What ensues is a tentative friendship turned relationship where the romance is pure and heartfelt.
But what they soon learn about each other is that they really can’t be together without facing the dozens of obstacles in their way. Lena’s a Caster, a dignified term for witch, and on her 16th birthday will either be Claimed by the Light or the Dark based on her true nature. With Ethan being mortal and not knowing how to break the spell before Lena’s sixteen, conflict and danger are constantly threatening to separate the two, along with both of their families not approving of their relationship and of course, time.
This book was such a delight to read. I think this is one of the very few PNR books I’ve read where an action-packed plot isn’t the main thing driving the book. It’s very character-driven, and the pace is slower than expected but not to the point of boredom, at least not for me. There is sarcasm and dry humor sprinkled among the pages, and with some Civil War history and family dynamics in the background, this book engaged both my mind and my heart. The only reason why I didn’t give it 5 stars is because it did take some time for the book to really grab me and wasn’t unputdownable, plus I feel like this first book only gave me a taste of what could be a magnificent PNR series. I have a feeling that the following books will be just as good or even better than this first one.
Beautiful Creatures is the first book in this YA paranormal series and while it’s designed to have the story continue on in the next few books, it technically can be read as a standalone. The ending is not a cliffhanger and concludes on a high note.
Rating: 4 stars!!

BOOK REVIEW ~ THE KING BY TIFFANY REISZ

Cunning. Sex. Pure nerve. Only this potent threesome can raise him to his rightful place as ruler of Manhattan’s kink kingdom.  Bouncing from bed to bed on the Upper East Side—handsomely paid in both bills and blackmail fodder—Kingsley Edge is brilliant, beautiful and utterly debauched. No carnal act or chemical compound can relieve his self-destructive apathy—only Søren, the one person he loves without limit or regret. A man he can never have, but in whose hands Kingsley is reborn to attain even greater heights of sin. He plans to open the ultimate BDSM club­: a dungeon playground for New York’s A-list that’ll change the scene forever.  The club becomes Kingsley’s obsession—and he’s enlisted some tough-as-nails help. His new assistant Sam is smart, secretive and totally immune to seduction (by men, at least). She and Kingsley make a wicked team. Still, their combined—and considerable—expertise in domination can’t subdue the man who would kill their dream. The enigmatic Reverend Fuller won’t rest until King’s dream is destroyed. It’s one man’s sacred mission against another’s….

Having read the first five books and never giving much of a second thought to Kingsley, I was surprised but happy to finish this book thinking that he just might be my favorite out of the Sinners group. This book is all about Kingsley, his beginnings, his experiences, and how his kingdom, the Eight Circle, all began. I loved how dynamic his character was, and he’s so charming, playful, and witty and while crude and often times dismissive, he has so much love for the people he cares about. Though the book unfolds in the form of a story Kingsley tells to a side character, the plot didn’t feel narrative at all and I very much felt like I was physically in the book, on the outside looking in like a third wheel.
“Twenty years ago…it feels like yesterday. Yesterday and a lifetime.”
In present time, Kingsley is on a journey and his first stop is with Zach and Grace (first introduced in book 1), where he basically tells Grace his life story from his twenties and beyond. In the beginning, it’s revealed that he’s a lost soul. Damaged from war. Dying slowly bereft of the one man he loves. Living without a purpose. He drinks, he fucks, and he repeats the cycle. As destiny would have it, an incident involving a young Nora places Soren in King’s path again and like moths drawn to flame, he feels alive and invigorated to do what he was always meant to do: build his one-of-a-kind BDSM club for others that take pleasure from pain.
“A promise made long ago…A promise he would keep. A king must have a kingdom after all.”
With Soren back in his life, it was equally heartbreaking and heartwarming to see King’s interactions with him. There are just so many barriers preventing them from ever being together, and deep down I know Soren belongs with Nora, but sometimes I can’t help but want there to be a decisive, clean-cut way for Soren and King to be together. Just them.
I have to say though, this book and the rest of the series is probably the closest I’ll ever get to reading M/M. Not that I have anything against it, but it’s just not something that appeals to me for the time being so any erotic scenes with the two of them together I pretty much put on my big girl panties. They were hot. They were sensual. And the love and their ‘BDSM chemistry’ was 100% undeniable.
“You beat me this early before.
I was attempting to wake you up.
With your alarm cock?”
Though I didn’t expect to, I fell irrevocably in love with his character, every bit of him. He’s too irresistible, one minute charmingly witty and the next deadly serious. He’s such a people-person and no matter what side character that comes into contact with him, it’s always a joy to read, especially his banter with his assistant Sam (only briefly mentioned in previous books).
“Party time. Have fun fucking half your guests.
What are you going to do?
Fuck the other half.”
Just like the other books, this book will always be hardcore erotica first as the main genre with a very unconventional romance hidden within. While I do think some scenes were dragged out a little and towards the end the book lost a little momentum, nevertheless, this is a story that grabbed me from the beginning. And I mean the very first line. Tiffany Reisz’s writing is a true wonder and evokes so much emotion whether it’s laughter, pain, sadness, or love.
“…his confession hadn’t been to a priest but about a priest, the priest he loved not despite all the sins they’d committed against each other but because of them, because the sins were what bound them together. And the love. Of course the love. Always the love.”
One of my very best book decisions was choosing to read this series a year ago. Erotica has never been the same for me and any and all erotica books I read I hold to the standard of this series. Excellent, phenomenal writing became synonymous with Tiffany Reisz’s writing. And top-notch storybuilding will always be compared with the intricate plotline of this series. Reading these books truly make me feel like I’m coming home, and no matter what, I can always trust and count on Tiffany Reisz’s stories to be winners for me again and again.
The King is the 6th book in The Original Sinner series, 2nd book in the White Years quartet within the overall series. This is not a standalone and must be read after the first 5 books in the following order: The Siren, The Angel,The Prince,The Mistress, and The Saint.
ARC provided by Harlequin via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Please note that all quotes are from an advanced copy and subject to change in the final edition.

BOOK REVIEW ~ THE WEIGHT OF DESTINY BY NYRAE DAWN

When “crazy” runs in your family and your namesake is known for walking into a river with a pocket full of rocks, a girl kind of wants to avoid tempting fate at all costs. For Virginia Nichols, the only way to dodge that bullet is to be perfect at everything: school, student council, life. Too bad it’s all a lie, and underneath the perfection…Virginia is lost.
Ryder Blackstock knows a thing or two about being born into fate. The talents passed down from his father aren’t exactly normal; instead of learning how to throw a fastball, he was taught to hot-wire a car like a pro and pick any pocket in sight. He’s got criminal blood, just like his old man. And as soon as he turns eighteen, he’ll be living life on the run with his dad.
When Ryder and Virginia meet on the beach, it seems they couldn’t be more different. Soon they discover they’re both trapped in their lives—Virginia denying her fate, Ryder embracing his. Like the rocks in Virginia Woolf’s pockets, the weight of their destinies will pull them under. But being together brings out pieces of themselves they didn’t know existed—pieces that make them want to take fate into their own hands and rewrite their destinies…if it’s not too late.

4-4.5 stars!!
What a beautifully written YA romance. About a month ago I saw the blurb for this one and preordered it immediately because, well, I’m a sucker for bad boys. The real bad ones. And the hero in this one (even though he’s a teen) is pretty bad: he’s a criminal. The premise is one that’s overused but never fails to grab me. I love it when you have two characters from different social standings and they fall in love and tackle obstacles standing in their way. While this story was on the sweet and predictable side, nevertheless, the writing was beautiful and compelling enough to hold my attention throughout the entire book and the romance was dreamy to make any romantic sigh and aww over.
On the surface, Virginia Nichols is perfect and has the perfect life: she’s a straight A-student destined for greatness and comes from a wealthy background. Except she has a mother with DID (dissociative identity disorder) and when the other ‘personalities’ surface, Virginia is always the one there taking the brunt of her mother’s actions. On a day where things go too far, she becomes a daredevil and drives far away from her house to the beach to de-stress and contemplate her life, which is where she meets the hero Ryder.
Groomed into the role of an expert thief, Ryder Blackstock has never known love or kindness aside from his close group of friends. His dad’s a wanted criminal who loved that he could pickpocket or hotwire a car, not necessarily him, and his older brother left him behind and thinks little of him. When others see him, they don’t see a regular teenage boy just trying to fit in. They see a bad boy, a criminal, and automatically think the worse of him without really getting to know him. On the night he meets Virginia, he’s intrigued by her because she’s different in personality, life goals, and family background and though he knows a relationship between them isn’t the wisest idea, there is just a special something they see in each other they just can’t forget about and they both seek each other out. A tentative friendship blooms. Then a pure, tender romance develops.
I was surprised (but ecstatic) at how fast I fell for both of these characters. Virginia is a girl I can 100% relate to because when I was her age, I could be her replica. She’s a bit uptight and a total control freak but at the same time, when she lets loose, she’s wild and free. As for Ryder, well he’s a jerk, through and through. I would’ve liked to see more of his criminal side as that was the main reason I decided to pick this book up, but soon his soft and sweet side won me over. When bad boys have that heart of gold and are possessive and protective of their girl, it gives my heart a squeeze or two, and Ryder is the epitome of this kind of guy. But more importantly, I loved these characters because of how much they loved each other. They accept each other’s quirks and oddities and want to be together regardless of outside opinion.
As much as this story warmed my heart and gave me the case of the sniffles, there was one main thing that bothered me. I am a very logical reader despite loving being emotionally overwhelmed by stories and there was a character aspect that didn’t quite add up: Virginia’s mom’s DID. I feel like Virginia not knowing and not even bothering to look up DID in more depth until the very end when she needed to was weird, uncaring, and dismissive. For a girl who excels in her academics and always knows what’s going on and what to do, being ignorant of the basic aspects of DID (especially since her mother has the disorder) really bothered me.
Aside from that one aspect, the rest of the book was a winner for me. It’s a sweet, heartwarming book with two very relatable, likable characters and features strong, supporting side characters who I can’t wait to read more about.
The Weight of Destiny is the first book and a standalone in the Misfits series. It’s a YA romance so very low steam level but that was fine with me since any intimacy in the story had an emotional impact.
Rating: 4-4.5 stars!!