The Big Alpha in Town by Eve Langlais, Milly Taiden, and Kate Baxter

The Big Alpha in Town

4 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin

Date of publication: May 15th, 2018

Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal

Where you can find The Big Alpha in Town: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

Three hot stories about three sexy shifters from a trio of today’s hottest paranormal romance authors, headlined by bestselling authors Eve Langlais and Milly Taiden!

Bearing His Name
Meeting his mate should have been cause for celebration. There’s just one teeny tiny problem. Jade thinks Ark might have impregnated her sister. He didn’t, but convincing Jade is going to take a bit of honey.

Owned by the Lion
Keir’s been told to stop playing the field and settle down—difficult advice for a hard and hot man with a lion’s heart to follow. But his sights have always been set on Ally. She’s his mate, plain and simple. With her sweet and delicious curves, she’s nothing but sugar and trouble all rolled into one. But he’s known her and sparred with her for years. She’s his best friend’s little sister, and it’s going to take a whole new level of convincing that he’s the mate for her.

No Need Fur Love
Moving with his pack to the tiny town of Stanley, Idaho has Owen Courtney a little on edge. With literally no women in sight, Owen will be lucky to find a date, let alone his true mate. But you know the saying about a werewolf walking into a bar…
Gorgeous wood nymph Mia Oliver is on a mission: Find a suitable male to get her good ‘n pregnant and provide her with an heir. But when Mia decides to pick up a gorgeous and oh-so willing werewolf at the bar, she realizes she might be in over her head. …

My review:

I have gotten a little bored with shifter romances. They all seemed to follow the same storyline. So when the publishers approached me to review The Big Alpha in Town, I hesitated. I almost declined. But, since I like reviewing for this publisher, I gave this book a try. I am glad that I did because these stories were great!! Only one followed the typical storyline but it was written in such a way that I couldn’t help but like it.

Seeing that this book is made up of 3 full-length books, I am going to give a short review of the stories instead of my usual review. If I did this review my usual way, y’all would be sitting at your computers/phones for a while. So here goes nothing:

Bearing His Name:

I started off the book not liking it. I thought that Ark was stuck in the Stone Age with his attitude towards women. I couldn’t believe that he kept saying “Well I’m Greek“. Like that is supposed to excuse it. Jade was a raging witch with a B. I mean, she threw things when mad. Hello, can we say toddler? I also thought the storyline was a bit too much. But the more I read the book, the more I could see the snarky humor behind the characters. Ark’s obsession with food and honey was an underlying theme in the book. All that man wanted to do is eat….and not all of it was food. Speaking of that, the sex was great. Explicit but great. I loved the end of the book. Everyone got their happy ending.

Owned by the Lion:

I thought that this was a sweet book. Keir was a manwhore who was told by his father to settle down and marry. His mate? A prickly woman named Ally that he has known for years. The spark between Keir and Ally was red hot. I liked that the author kept if sparked through the book. Even after they had sex for the first time. Ally, I wasn’t a fan of. I could understand why she was so reluctant to give Keir a chance, but really? She took witchiness with a b to new heights. Of course, Keir having so many exes’s didn’t help. I would have had little faith in my man if his ex’s kept popping out of the woodwork. The end of the book was great. I love happy endings!!

No Need Fur Love:

I adored this book. Mia knew what she wanted when she went to town. She wanted a baby daddy and Owen was her top choice. I didn’t like the Instalove on Owen’s end. He came across as needy and stalkerish. Other than that, I loved the book. I thought the end of the book was fantastic. I also thought that Mia’s father got what he deserved. Just saying.

What I liked about all 3 books:

A) the humor in Bearing His Name

B) Keir’s sweetness to Ally in Owned by the Lion

C) Mia in No Need Fur Love. She was not someone you wanted to mess with.

What I disliked about all 3 books:

A) Ark’s chauvinism

B) Ally’s attitude towards Keir at the beginning of the book

C) Owen coming across as too needy

I would give The Big Alpha in Town an Adult rating. There is graphic (often inventive) sex. There is language. There is mild violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

There are no trigger warnings in The Big Alpha in Town.

I would recommend The Big Alpha in Town to family and friends. I would reread this book.

I would like to thank St. Martin’s Griffin, St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review The Big Alpha in Town.

All opinions stated in this review of A Big Alpha in Town are mine.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**

The Hidden Face (Fifth Unmasking: Book 1) by S.C. Flynn

The Hidden Face (Fifth Unmasking #1)

5 Stars

Publisher: The Hive

Date of publication: November 25th, 2017

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Fifth Unmasking

The Hidden Face – Book 1

Blood Riddle – Book 2 (expected publication date: June 30th, 2018)

Sands of Karna – Book 3 (expected publication date: February 23rd, 2019)

Where you can find The Hidden Face: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

A face without a face – an unmasking that leaves the mask.

Once every few hundred years the sun god, the Akhen, takes on human form and descends to earth. Each Unmasking of the Face of the Akhen ends one era and begins another; the last one created the Faustian Empire. Where and when will the Face next appear, and who will he – or she – be?

Dayraven, son of a great hero, returns to Faustia after years as a hostage of their rivals, the Magians. Those years have changed him, but Faustia has changed as well; the emperor Calvo now seems eccentric and is controlled by one of Dayraven’s old enemies. Following the brutal murder of his old teacher, Dayraven is drawn, together with a female warrior named Sunniva, into the search for an ancient secret that would change the fate of empires.

The Hidden Face is an epic fantasy novel drenched in the atmosphere of the early Middle Ages and in Kabbalistic riddles and is the first book in the Fifth Unmasking series.

My Review:

I don’t even know where to begin with this review of The Hidden Face. The book is that good. What caught my attention when I was approached to review the book was the blurb. I didn’t even have to think about it. I wanted to read The Hidden Face. I need to read it. I am so glad I made the decision to accept the review request. This has to be one of the best fantasy books that I have read in a while.

The plotlines were great. A god that takes human form every 500 years and no one knows who it is until he/she is Unmasked? Yes!! That Unmasking starts ends the current era and starts a new one? Double yes. A hero who is trying to piece together clues left by his former mentor? Love it. A woman pretending to be a man so she can search for her father? Love it. An insane hunchback who might or might not be the bad guy (definitely a gray area there)? Yup. A priest, a beautiful woman and the king of a rival kingdom coming together to make sure that the prophecy goes in their favor? Definitely yes.

The characters, main and secondary, were all well written. They all had layers. For a secondary character to have layers is rare. In my experience, they are usually fillers between the scenes that feature the main characters. For the author to build up the secondary characters like that, I loved it. It made the book have more depth and be more realistic in my eyes.

The main characters were also all well-rounded and layered. Take, for instance, Perin the hunchback. At the beginning of the book, he is portrayed as nothing more than a killer working for Astolf, the High Priest. As the book went on, it is revealed that he is being used by Astolf. He became a tortured man who was firmly in a gray area. He killed, yes but he also protected. Once something about him was revealed, another layer appeared. It was that attention to detail that made this book so enjoyable for me to read.

I liked how the author kept the identity of who the Face was until the end of the book. Not only was who it was but where this person was living. Of course, the Face’s parentage was revealed. I wasn’t surprised at who the parents were. I do wonder how those people are going to figure into everything in the next book.

I liked Dayraven. I did think that he was the Face for 90% of the book. All the riddles that he solved seemed to point to it. When the real identity of the Face was revealed, I couldn’t help but wonder how he was going to factor into that person’s Unmasking.

I wonder the same thing about Sunniva. She was on her own personal quest to find out what happened to her father. When she found out, I wonder what will happen to her in book 2. I also wonder how she is going to factor into the Unmasking.

Astolf left me feeling unclean. I wanted to take a shower after reading his scenes. He was such an evil person. What he did to Emperor Calvo, Perin and countless others were awful. So I didn’t feel bad when what happened to him happened. I felt vindicated.

Dagon and Malombra were a couple made in Hell. Malombra was reportedly a beautiful woman who killed anyone who saw her face. She was also very talented with herbs and poisons. Dagon was the head of the Clovian Dynasty. He was a nasty man who wanted to destroy Emperor Calvo in the worse way. So when those two hooked up, I was disgusted. The things that they did to Sunniva and Dayraven were disgusting. But, I am curious to see what happens to them in book 2.

The end of The Hidden Face was fantastic. The author did a great job at ending some storylines. Other’s were left open to be pursued in book 2. The slight cliffhanger was perfect for the book. It was enough for me to want to read book 2.

What I liked about The Hidden Face:

A) Excellent world building

B) Excellent storylines

C) Excellent world building

What I disliked about The Hidden Face:

A) Astolf. He made me feel dirty

B) Dagon and Malombra. The power couple from Hell.

C) Perin. I disliked how he was treated throughout the book.

I would give The Hidden Face a rating of Older Teen. There is sex but it is not graphic. It is vague but you know what is going on. There is violence. Not so much graphic but the author got creative with how he killed off characters. The whole beehive scene made me shudder. There is no language. I would recommend that no one under the age of 16 read this book.

There are no trigger warnings in The Hidden Face.

I would recommend The Hidden Face to family and friends. This is a book that I will be rereading. I will also be reading the other books in the series when they come out.

I would like to thank S.C. Flynn for allowing me to read and review The Hidden Face.

All opinions stated in this review of The Hidden Face are mine.

**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**

 

Raiden Out the Storm (An-Off-the-Rails Ice Era Chronicle: 2:15 a.m.) by C.M. Moore

Raiden Out the Storm (An Off-The-Rails Ice Era Chronicle: 2:15 a.m.)

3 Stars

Publisher: Troll River Publications

Date of publication: April 10th, 2018

Genre: dystopia, LGBTQIA, fantasy

Series: An-Off-the-Rails Ice Era Chronicle: 2:15 a.m.

1:05 a.m. – Book 1

2:05 a.m. – Book 2

Raiden Out the Storm – Book 3

Grinding My Gears – Book 4

Trigger Warning: Rape (M/M), talk of past rape, and talk of past domestic violence

Where you can find Raiden Out the Storm: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

In the kind of rough and tumble life they lead, Raiden knows there is no place for love…

Raiden refuses his connection to Ash Winsor. She’s mean. She insults him. And she carries a big gun. He won’t have her. He should get away from her, but how? As soon as they can find the man who tied their heartstrings together, they’ll go their separate ways. All they have to do is get to H.S.P.C. headquarters building and pay him off. Raiden hopes that once he’s free, he’ll be able to go back to trekking on the surface of the planet and sending money home to his dad. He should be able to forget all about Ash and her handsome shadow.

Love has kept Stone as Ash Winsor’s shadow for two years. He can’t bring himself to leave her even though the relationship is painful and going in circles. When he finds out that Ash is now tied to another man, Stone wants nothing more than to see Raiden gone. Together they will both follow King Winsor from train to train. Stone is hoping against hope that the rough and troubled harvester will one day choose him, and Raiden will no longer be at their side.

Lying has become as natural to Ashley Winsor as breathing. Ash had made sure Stone thinks she’s a man. She has also made sure Raiden doesn’t know how much she needs him. If Ash can just make the trek to the headquarters building, she will be free of the two men who want her more than anything. The only problem is, the closer she gets to her goal, the more she wonders if she wants them gone.

My Review:

When Troll River Publishing approached me to review Raiden Out The Storm, I almost said no. At the time, I was 10 books behind for writing reviews and I was beginning to feel burnt out by writing reviews. I decided to accept the request when I saw the cover. For some odd reason, I liked it. It called to me. Fortunately for me, a small mini-vacation happened where I caught up on my reviews. I also restructured my review schedule so I wouldn’t fall behind.

What I didn’t know when I accepted was that Raiden Out The Storm was book 3 in a series. Each book is the same storyline but told from different perspectives. So, you can’t pick this book up and start reading it. You need to read the first two books to find out exactly what is going on. I was a bit lost reading. There were references to the other characters and situations that I didn’t get. It did take away from me enjoying the book.

Ash interested me. She was tough on the outside but sweet on the inside. When it was revealed why she had to become so tough, my heart broke. It was that incident that shaped her into becoming the unofficial leader of the harvesters. I thought her masquerading as a man interesting. She knew that she wouldn’t get the respect from the men she “ruled” over so she became a man. A man would be respected. A man would be feared.

I was surprised that she got away with being a man for as long as she did. If people had doubts, her guns and toughness silenced them. Only a select few people knew that she was a woman. Understandably, she was reluctant to let Raiden know her secret. Besides having magic connecting them, I was surprised that she revealed that she was a woman to him. Then slept with him almost right afterward.

Stone annoyed me. Mainly because he lived with Ash and didn’t pick up on the clues that she was a woman. She didn’t grow facial hair and her voice didn’t change. He was in love with Ash. But he was in love with King Windsor, the man. Not Ash the woman. I kind of wanted to smack him upside the head for not paying attention enough. Also, I didn’t like how he treated Raiden at first. Raiden was bound to Ash, against his will. He had no control over what was going to happen. Which made me aggravated because Stone acted like a jealous twit for most of the book.

I thought Raiden was a pushover. He did show some spirit at the beginning of the book but it kind of fizzled. When his ex-person (I don’t know how to classify that person) started bullying him, he stood there and took it. He didn’t attempt to fight that person even when they dropped him out in the woods, naked. He didn’t defend himself against Stone either. He acted like a doormat. Then, at the end of the book, he did a 180. I sat there and thought to myself “Where the hell did this come from“.

With all the faults of the book (because I didn’t read the first two), I would have been fine with Raiden Out The Storm. I liked the plotline and, for the most part, the characters. But, then I read the rape scene. Since I read books that are a little more gritty, I wasn’t that shocked about it. It was the after the rape that left a bad taste in my mouth. While the rapist expressed remorse, the victim kept saying it wasn’t rape, I wanted it. I got mad when I read that. That person said no quite a few times and the rapist ignored him. I agreed with Ash’s reaction when she found out. But then, everything was alright between the rapist and the victim. Even more sexual encounters. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. It was like it never happened. It is that reason why I rated the book the way I did. Other than that, like I said above, I liked it.

The end of Raiden Out The Storm was different. The author did a great job of resolving the important storylines but he left the smaller ones open. The epilogue was good but I did wonder how Ash was going to do it and keep up her façade as a man.

What I liked about Raiden Out The Storm:

A) Intriguing storyline

B) Complex characters

C) Great world building

What I disliked about Raiden Out The Storm:

A) Not a standalone book. You need to read the other books before you read this one

B) Ash’s men. They annoyed me. She had more balls than they did.

C) The rape storyline. I don’t think that it needed to be in the book. It added nothing to it.

I would give Raiden Out The Storm an Adult rating. This is a book that I would recommend no one under the age of 21 read. There are explicit sex scenes. There is an explicit rape scene. There is explicit violence. There is explicit language.

There are triggers in Raiden Out The Storm. They would be: rape (M/M), talk of past rape, and talk of past domestic violence. If you are triggered by any of these, I suggest that you do not read this book.

I am on the fence about if I would recommend Raiden Out The Storm to family and friends. A warning about the triggers would be included if I did. I am on the fence if I would reread this book. But, I would read the other books in the series. I would also be open to reading anything else by the author.

Do you like to read books that have graphic scenes in them? Why or why not?

Picking up books mid-series? Like it or not?

I would like to thank Troll River Publication for allowing me to read and review Raiden Out The Storm.

All opinions stated in this review of Troll River Publication are mine.

**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**

When a Stranger Comes by Karen S. Bell

When a Stranger Comes...: A gripping psychological thriller

3 Stars

Publisher:

Date of publication: September 13th, 2017

Genre: Fantasy, Suspense, Paranormal

Where you can find When a Stranger Comes: Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

A GRIPPING PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER FOR FANS OF KING AND KOONTZ! 

Would you be willing to make a deal with the devil to have your hopes and dreams come true? 

Witnessing a lightening bolt on a sunny day, author Alexa Wainwright doesn’t realize she’s been transported to an alternate universe. Here, she meets media mogul and publisher King Blakemore who offers her a lucrative book contract that will guarantee her comeback. 

This publisher seems odd. This book deal is too good. Suddenly, the contract’s been signed. Now what can she do? 

Desperate to get her life back, Alexa devises schemes to untether herself from this hellish existence but to no avail. Can Alexa find her way out of this nightmare? 

Buy this book if you’re a reader who loves a page-turning, heart-stopping, psychological thriller with some magical realism thrown in. 

My review:

I like a book that gets under my skin. So when I read the blurb for When a Stranger Comes…, I was intrigued. Unfortunately, When a Stranger Comes… didn’t get under my skin. If anything, I was left confused by the end of the book. I was also left dissatisfied that the book didn’t get under my skin. A psychological thriller should do that to you. It didn’t for me.

I thought the plotline for When a Stranger Comes… was great. A writer is transported to an alternate realm without her knowledge. There, she achieves the fame and fortune that she wants, but for a price. When she realizes that she made a deal with the Devil, it is almost too late. She needs to find a way to get out of this nightmare. The whole making a deal with the Devil plotline is overused but the author put a fresh spin on it. It wasn’t until the end of the book that the plot started to go all over the place. It was almost like the author had a timeline and rushed through the ending.

I didn’t like Alexa. She rubbed me the wrong way. She overreacted to everything. She made up excuses about why she didn’t keep people close. She treated her assistant horribly. There were scenes where I was eyerolling so hard that I thought my eyes were going to get stuck. She did change, somewhat, during the last part of the book. But that did nothing to change my perception of her.

As weird as this is going to sound, I thought the Devil was a well-written character. He didn’t attempt to hide who he was or what he was doing. I wouldn’t go as far to say that I liked him but he was an enjoyable character to read.

It was the last part of the book that went off track for me.  If the author introduced the alternate universe and angel storyline sooner that I wouldn’t have been as confused.

The end of the book was interesting. I liked that the author chose to do what she did with Alexa. It made for some thinking after I was done with the book.

What I liked about When a Stranger Comes…:

A) Good storyline

B) the Devil

C) the end of the book

What I disliked about When a Stranger Comes…:

A) Left feeling confused by the end of the book

B) Book didn’t get under my skin

C) Alexa

I would give When a Stranger Comes…an Adult rating. There is sex. It is not explicit but Alexa has a lot of it. There is violence. There is language.

There are no trigger warnings with When a Stranger Comes

I am on the fence if I would read this book again. I am also on the fence if I would recommend this book to family and friends. I am open to reading other books by the author.

I would like to thank the publishers for allowing me to read and review When a Stranger Comes…

All opinions stated in this review of When a Stranger Comes…are mine.

**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**

Song of Blood & Stone (Earthsinger Chronicles: Book 1) by L. Penelope

Song of Blood & Stone (Earthsinger Chronicles, #1)

3 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of publication: May 1st, 2018

Genre: Romance, Fantasy

Series: Earthsinger Chronicles

Song of Blood & Stone – Book 1

Whispers of Shadow & Flame – Book 2

Cry of Metal & Bone – Book 3

Where you can find Song of Blood & Stone: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

A treacherous, thrilling, epic fantasy about an outcast drawn into a war between two powerful rulers. 

Orphaned and alone, Jasminda lives in a land where cold whispers of invasion and war linger on the wind. Jasminda herself is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where her gift of Earthsong is feared. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive–an injured spy who threatens to steal her heart. 

Jack’s mission behind enemy lines to prove that the Mantle between Elsira and Lagamiri is about to fall nearly cost him his life, but he is saved by the healing Song of a mysterious young woman. Now he must do whatever it takes to save Elsira and it’s people from the True Father and he needs Jasminda’s Earthsong to do it. They escape their ruthless captors and together they embark on a perilous journey to save Elsira and to uncover the secrets of The Queen Who Sleeps. 

Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation. 

The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.

My Review:

I like fantasy. I like New Adult/Young Adult fantasy. I like romance. Why is it so hard to find a book that can focus on all three of those genres equally? I have had issues with books that combine the three genres together. I can’t find a book that competently blends all 3 of those genres. Don’t get me wrong, Song of Blood & Stone does a great job at attempting to combine them. But it didn’t click for me.

I thought that Song of Blood & Stone got off to a fantastic start. The author set the tone for the entire book perfectly. But, by the middle of the book, when Jasminda was in Elsira’s capital, the book started to falter. By the end of the book, I wasn’t engaged with the characters anymore and the storyline annoyed me. I am hoping that the second book will draw me back in because this book had so much potential.

I thought that Jasminda got the raw end of the deal. She was hated by the village because of her Earthsong.  Her maternal grandfather wanted her to disown her family if she wanted help. To top it off, she ends up getting put in the middle of a looming war. A war that Jack tried to stop but didn’t succeed. Hatred of her other heritage, the Lagamiri ran deep in Elsira. Even in the castle, Jasminda wasn’t exempt from the hatred of the Elsiran people. I felt awful for her. It was a wonder that she didn’t crack sooner.

Jack got under my skin. I did think he was going to be a temporary character, at first. So when the twist in his storyline came, I was not ready for it. The author did a great job of portraying him as a tortured man. He was torn between the love of his country and the love for a woman that was half of the enemy. I couldn’t even begin to imagine the stress he was under. But, saying that, I found his actions later in the book awful. He did not stand up for Jasminda. He wanted to hide what they had. He did what he thought was right at the time (even though I thought it was wrong, wrong, wrong). Not going to say what it was but if I was Jasminda, I would have told him to take a hike or punched him in the face. Probably both.

The storyline of the Earthbenders of old was fascinating. This is one part of the book that I correctly guessed at what was going to happen who those people ended up being. It was still a surprise when it came out at the end of the book.

The storyline of the refugees touched my heart. I did liken it in ways to the waves of people coming out of Syria. People displaced because of who they are. They can’t go back because they will be put in harm’s way or killed. And they can’t stay where they are because people don’t understand and fear them.

There was chemistry between Jack and Jasminda. From the minute they met each other, sparks flew. The author kept those sparks keep fanning until they did the deed. Then I felt that the relationship went flat. But, considering what was going on at the time, I now wonder if that was the author’s plan. If it was, it was ingenious of her to do that.

What I didn’t like was that there were a couple of dropped storylines. The one that sticks out in my mind was the man who gave Jack the cornerstone that he thought was a map. It was speculated who he was. Then the storyline was dropped. Also, the mystery woman who the guard was talking to in Jasminda’s cottage. She was mentioned once in the book and then that was it.

The end of Song of Blood & Stone felt a bit anticlimactic. I kept waiting to see if there was anything more to Jack and Jasminda’s storyline once the Queen said what she said. I did like the small twist at the end considering how the True Father and The Queen Who Sleeps looked like. I laughed at that because those bigoted, ignorant people were fools. It was the end of the book that made me want to read the second book. I need to see where this story is going. And I am hoping that it will be better than this book.

What I liked about Song of Blood & Stone:

A) Great world building

B) Interesting storyline in the beginning

C) 3D characters

What I disliked about Song of Blood & Stone:

A) Storyline faltered towards the middle of the book

B) Jack’s treatment of Jasminda towards the end of the book

C) Dropped storylines

I would give Song of Blood & Stone a rating of Older Teen. There is violence. There are sexual situations and sex. The sex is not graphic and actually seemed rushed through. No language. I would recommend that no one under the age of 16 read this book.

There are trigger warnings in Song of Blood & Stone. They are: extreme racial prejudice and talk of rape.

I am on the fence about recommending Song of Blood & Stone to family and friends. If I did, I would include a warning of the triggers. While I would not reread this book, I am open to reading other books by the author.

I would like to thank St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review Song of Blood & Stone.

All opinions stated in this review of Song of Blood & Stone are mine.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**

The Wizard of Tut-Tut-Bun by John McCarrick

Becoming The Wizard of Tut-Tut-Bun (The Wizard of Tut-Tut-Bun, #0)

3.5 Stars (rounded up to 4 stars for all sites that use a star system)

Publisher:

Date of publication: April 28th, 2018

Genre: Children, Fantasy

Where you can find The Wizard of Tut-Tut-Bun: Amazon

Book Synopsis (from Amazon):

Far away in a country you don’t know there’s a valley where magic happens. Some of the magic is good but much of it is evil. At the center of the war between good and evil is Billy Bottom. He lives in the woods in the hills overlooking the village of Tut Tut Bun — and is a good wizard. His closest friends are the trees and the creatures of the woods. 

Start your adventure alongside the children of Tut Tut Bun as they first get to know Billy Bottom. Then join them in their quest to rid the valley of evil. 

This fantasy adventure story is for children who want to engage with the conflicts in the world today. Issues such as child labor, pollution and deforestation come up in Billy Bottom’s campaign against wicked forces. Can good overcome evil?

Join the Wizard of Tut Tut Bun and his friends to find out!

My Review:

I didn’t read anything to do with children’s books until after my oldest daughter was born. Then I started hoarding children’s books. By the time my son was born, 2 years later, she had a pretty sizable collection. As they grew older, I started to realize that there weren’t any good fantasy books for kids between the ages of 3-6. I never stopped searching and after my youngest was born, actually stepped it up. So when I was approached to review The Wizard of Tut-Tut-Bun, my first response was no. Then I thought about it and decided to give this book a try. I am glad I did because I enjoyed this book a lot.

The Wizard of Tut-Tut-Bun is a collection of stories about Billy Bottom, a wizard who lives in the woods above the town of Tut-Tut-Bun. 20 years before, the mayor of the town banned the children from climbing up Near Hill, claiming it was dangerous. That all changed when 3 children drew the short straws and began their climb up Near Hill. Instead of finding a desolate forest, they find Billy and his magical companions.  But there is evil that lurks near Tut-Tut-Bun. It is up to Billy and his friends to find ways of getting rid of the bad elements that keep popping up.

I thought that Billy Bottom was a great character. Here was a wizard living above a town and he does everything to protect it. He teaches the children valuable lessons about teamwork. He always was there for the children, even when the adults weren’t.

I liked the children too. They were resourceful and thought outside the box the few times that Billy wasn’t around to save them. They learned their lessons from Billy too. I liked that compassion and teamwork was stressed.

I did feel that there needed to be more world building in the book. What the author has is great but it could be expanded on. Same goes for the characters. I felt that I only got to know a small part of Billy Bottom and the children. If the author could put more detail into them and their background, this book would shine.

The writing style did take a little while to get used to. It was very stilted. But once I got used to the writing style, the book flowed for me. I also kept in the back of my mind that this book was written off of stories that the author told his grandchildren. It might not flow the way us as readers are used to. It flows like someone telling a story and pausing every so often to take a breath or a sip of a drink.

The end of Tut-Tut-Bun was a surprise. The twist that the author threw in did surprise me. I kinda saw it coming but at the same time, I didn’t see it coming. I hope that the author does continue writing about the world of Tut-Tut-Bun. There are more stories to be gotten out of it.

What I liked about The Wizard of Tut-Tut-Bun:

A) Likable characters

B) Could be read to younger children

C) Great lessons and morals woven into the story

What I disliked about The Wizard of Tut-Tut-Bun:

A) Book needs more world building

B) Characters need more detail

C) The writing style was hard to get used to

I would give The Wizard of Tut-Tut-Bun a rating of Child. I would use discretion about reading to children under the age of 5. There are some scenes that could be scary to younger children. There is some mild violence. There is no sexual situations or language.

There are triggers in The Wizard of Tut-Tut-Bun. They are kidnapping and child enslavement. If those trigger you or the child you are reading the book to/with, do not read the book.

I am on the fence about recommending  The Wizard of Tut-Tut-Bun to family and friends. If I did recommend, I would include a warning about the triggers. I am also on the fence about rereading this book. But I am open to reading anything else the author decides to put out.

I would like to thank for allowing me to read and review The Wizard of Tut-Tut-Bun.

All opinions stated in this review of The Wizard of Tut-Tut-Bun are mine.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**

Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming (The Muse Chronicles: Book 2) by Sara Crawford

Hurry Up, We're Dreaming (The Muse Chronicles, #2)

5 Stars

Publishers: 

Date of publication: November 30th, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Series: The Muse Chronicles

We Own the Sky – Book 1 (review here)

Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming – Book 2

Where you can find Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming: Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

To find her Muse, she must first find herself. 

Sylvia Baker used to live for music: constantly listening to artists like M83 and Moonlight Bride, writing songs, and playing drums in a band. But now, the soundtrack of her life is silence. If she lets the music back in, she’s worried she will return to her delusions about the Muses–the mystical beings who inspire artists to create art. She’s worried she’ll have to face the wounds of losing Vincent, her Muse, her love. 

She tries to move on, immersing herself in the real world–working at the grocery store, mending her relationships with her friends and her father, and developing a new love for hiking. But in her dreams, she is forced to face the questions growing in her heart.

What if they never were delusions? What if a vicious battle between the traditional Greek Muses and modern Earthly Muses tore her from the world of the Muses? What if she never lost Vincent at all? And what if he’s the one who needs to be saved?

My review:

In my experience, books that come 2nd in a series usually fall short of my expectations. But, there are those rare books that live up to the first book. Sometimes, they even exceed it. This is the case with Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.

I couldn’t read this book fast enough. I was caught up in Sylvia’s struggle to keep her mental health. I was caught up in the Muses’ issues. I was plain caught up in the book. It was that good.

I want to say that the author had a note at the beginning of the book and I loved that she included it. She said that you can find playlists for the songs in the book on Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon Music. So, do what I did. Make a list of artists/songs and make a playlist. I wish I had read the book while listening to it.

Hurry Up. We’re Dreaming was not like We Own the Sky. This book focused on Sylvia and her struggle to keep up her mental health. Vincent and the Muses’ issues were there but the majority of the book was about Sylvia.

The music is gone from Sylvia’s life. Since she has gotten home from Riverview, she has not listened to music, discussed music or played music. My heart broke for her. She was not the vibrant person that I loved in the last book. She was flat, almost dull. I didn’t think that she would ever come out of it. When she did, I wanted to cheer. Actually, I think I might have whispered “Yes” because I was reading in bed.

I loved how the book focused on her fractured relationships and how she repaired them. The one that got to me the most was her relationship with her father. He was hurting because she was hurting and he didn’t know how to reach or comfort her. The breakdown he had towards the end of the book made me cry. As a parent, I related to what he said. I didn’t relate to how he handled it, though.

Her relationships with her friends were more difficult to repair. Trust had been broken and Sylvia had to build up trust again. I liked how the author took the quietest person in Sylvia’s group and started the friendship rebuilding there. The one friend that I felt Sylvia shouldn’t have let back in was Bianca. Bianca rubbed me the wrong way most of the book. She was self-absorbed and I didn’t feel that she added anything to the story.

I thought that the Muses’ storyline was excellent also. Like I stated in my last review, I get where Clio is coming from. If I had woken up from a 500-year sleep to see what she saw, I would have taken action too. I wouldn’t have gone the way she did but she did think she was doing good. I did get a Hunger Games type vibe when they got the Earth Muses from NYC together. Well, an artsy Hunger Games type vibe.

I thought that Vann made the perfect villain. He was a disturbed person before he was turned in Book 1. In Book 2, he became even more unhinged. I was not surprised when he did what he did. It went perfectly with his personality. I am surprised that he gave up on the search for Sylvia so quickly and easily, though. But considering what happened in NYC and what happened after NYC, I got it. He had bigger fish to fry.

Vincent drove me nuts. He seesawed between wanting to see Sylvia and keeping away from her. At one point, I was like “Make up your mind!!!“. I still loved him but man, he needed to stick to a plan. In the end, though, it was Vincent that helped Sylvia remember who she was. When they finally got back together, my heart went all mushy.

The end of the book was a huge surprise. HUGE. While I saw some things coming, I most definitely see what happened coming. I cannot wait to read book 3!! I need to find out what happens!!!

What I liked about Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming:

A) Strong storylines

B) Relatable characters

C) Excellent world and character building

What I disliked about Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming:

A) How Sylvia’s father handled her issues after she got out of Riverview.

B) Bianca. She drove me nuts.

C). Vincent seesawing back and forth between not seeing Sylvia and seeing her.

I would give Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming a rating of Older Teen. There is no sex. There is kissing but nothing else. There is mild violence. There is language. I would recommend that no one under the age of 16 read this book.

There are triggers in this book. They are: mention of past drug use, alcoholism, mental illness, and bullying. If you are triggered by any of these, I suggest not to read the book.

This is a book that I would recommend to family and friends. I would give them a heads up about the triggers. I would definitely reread this book.

I would like to thank Sara Crawford for allowing me to read and review Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.

All opinions stated in this review of Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming are mine.

**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**