Review: Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven

, by Kt Clapsadl

Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven
Fallen Empire #1

A woman with power over fire and illusion and an enslaved son of a chieftain battle a corrupt empire in this powerful and deeply emotional romantic fantasy from the USA Today bestselling author of Radiance.

Every year, each village is required to send a young woman to the Empire's capital--her fate to be burned alive for the entertainment of the masses. For the last five years, one small village's tithe has been the same woman. Gilene's sacrifice protects all the other young women of her village, and her secret to staying alive lies with the magic only she possesses.

But this year is different.

Azarion, the Empire's most famous gladiator, has somehow seen through her illusion--and is set on blackmailing Gilene into using her abilities to help him escape his life of slavery. And unknown to Gilene, he also wants to reclaim the birthright of his clan.
To protect her family and village, she will risk everything to return to the Empire--and burn once more.

PHOENIX UNBOUND was such a rich and enjoyable story! It had such a great premise and incredible characters that I was hooked from the first page. Sometimes full fantasy worlds can take me a bit to get into due to all of the necessary world-building set up that can sometimes slow the early pacing. However, this was not the case in this book. There was no sacrifices made anywhere in this book, the pacing was executed flawlessly without sacrificing anything. The world, the plot, the characters, the conflict, all wrapped together perfectly making for one heck of an enjoyable read. I felt like I was experiencing things right alongside the characters.

Onto the romance: that it centered around my all time favorite trope of enemies to lovers, only sweetened the read for me. Azarion and Gilene start out as utter enemies in the truest of sense. Gilene couldn't possibly hate him as her captor any more than she does. And yet, slowly throughout the book she starts to see him in a new light. I know some would say Stockholm, but it didn't really have that vibe throughout. Yes he kidnapped her, and yes he's using her for his own gain, but it just worked for me. The progression of the romance is slow, but believable considering the circumstance, and I loved every minute of it.

After finishing this book, all I can say is that I'm so glad this is to be a series, because I can't wait to read more in this incredible world! PHOENIX UNBOUND is an incredibly enjoyable read that you won't want to miss!

(Received a copy from the publisher)

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Other Reviews:
     Between Dreams and Reality
     All Things Urban Fantasy
     Gizmo's Reviews


Review: The Antidote by Shelley Sackier

, by Kt Clapsadl

The Antidote by Shelley Sackier

Magic is not allowed, under any circumstances — even if it could save someone’s life. Instead, there are herbal remedies and traditional techniques that have been painstakingly recorded in lieu of using the mystical arts. Fee knows this, so she keeps her magic a secret.

Except her best friend, Xavi, is deathly ill. He’s also the crown prince. Saving him is important, not only for her, but for the entire kingdom.

Fee’s desperation to save her friend means she can barely contain the magic inside her. And after the tiniest of slips, Fee is thrust into a dark and secretive world that is as alluring as it is dangerous.

If she gives in, it could mean she can save Xavi. But it also means that those who wish to snuff out magic might just snuff her out in the process.

I really wanted to love THE ANTIDOTE, but I had really a hard time staying interested while reading. The premise in the blurb fascinated me and there was a lot of potential, but the actual execution just failed to keep my attention. There were an incredible amount of twists and turns throughout, but I always felt like something was missing, some vital bits of information withheld that would have assuaged some of my confusion and better hooked me into the story. This just made the twists and turns feel a bit forced and over the top as if they were thrown in there to keep interest rather than any true reveal or substance.

Unfortunately, in the end the entire book was a large disconnect for me. I continued reading as the characters and the potential kept me hoping for a pay off in the end. But alas, even after finishing, I'm still left scratching my head at a few things as while the descriptions of things were extensive and almost flowery, they weren't ever actually made clear. Granted I'm not a huge fan of lyrical prose, instead preferring strong character driven plots, and a structured action-packed plot. So all in all, THE ANTIDOTE wasn't my cup of tea, but may be the perfect read for more whimsical and lyrical driven readers.

(Received a copy from the publisher)

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Other Reviews:
     Between Dreams and Reality
     Gizmo's Reviews
     Mel to the Any

Review: Vengeance Road by Christine Feehan

, by Kt Clapsadl

Vengeance Road by Christine Feehan
Torpedo Ink #2

Breezy Simmons was born into a ruthless motorcycle club—and now that she’s out, she’s never going to be that girl again. But when her past catches up with her, Breezy must go to Sea Haven to seek out the man who almost destroyed her. The man who chose his club over her and left her feeling used and alone.

As vice president of Torpedo Ink, Steele is ride or die for the brothers he lived through hell with. He never thought he’d find something as pure as his feelings for Breezy, or that keeping her safe would mean driving her away with cruel words that turned her love for him to ash.

Now, Steele won’t let her walk away twice. He’ll do whatever it takes to make Breezy his woman again—especially when he learns the real reason she came to him for help, and that the stakes are higher than he ever could have imagined…


Despite Christine Feehan being a huge name in the paranormal romance genre, I had never read one of her books. There's just too many books to read and too little time! However, the blurb for VENGEANCE ROAD sounded really interesting, so I figured no time like the present to try this new to me author that everyone else already knows. After reading this book, I have to say that I really enjoyed Christine's writing style and the rich depth of the story. It's a hefty book, and definitely feels fuller than most romances. I will say that I was surprised at how light the paranormal aspects of the book were. Think more light paranormal-esque rather than full PNR. But I didn't feel it detracted from the story at all, it just wasn't what I expected.

Onto the romance; I have to admit, the hero was just a bit too much for me in VENGEANCE ROAD, and because of that I had a hard time connecting to the romance. Don't get me wrong, I like a uber strong and protective alpha hero just as much as the next gal, but Steele, he's a whole another level of control freak. His past is explained throughout the book and the reasons for his almost insane need to keep Breezy in sights at all times made some logical sense. However, there were many times while reading this book that his action and behavior were just too much, and frankly made me feel uncomfortable. It's written in a way to try and paint it with Breezy being the perfect match for him and not caring about that level of control. And yet... I felt like screaming through the pages at her to RUN away as fast as she could it was just that intense. This unfortunately is just not a normal reaction while reading a romance novel, even when you love fierce and damaged alpha heros as much as I do. Steele was just too much for this romance lovers heart to overlook.

All in all, while I enjoyed the storytelling and the writing style of my first Christine Feehan read, I couldn't really connect to the story due to the hero and his all but abusive level of control. I'll definitely try other books from this author in the future as I felt like there was great potential while reading this book, but VENGEANCE ROAD itself just didn't work for me.

(Received a copy from the publisher)

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Other Reviews:
     Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews
     Romance Reader

Previous Books:
     1. Judgement Road
   

Early Review: Summoned to Thirteenth Grave by Darynda Jones

, by Kt Clapsadl

Summoned to Thirteenth Grave by Darynda Jones
Charlie Davidson #13

Charley Davidson, Grim Reaper extraordinaire, is pissed. She’s been kicked off the earthly plain for eternity – which is the appropriate amount of time to make a person starkraving mad. But someone’s looking out for her, and she’s allowed to return after a mere hundred years in exile. Is it too much to hope for that not much has changed? Apparently it is. Bummer.

She’s missed Reyes and her daughter, Beep, but now that she’s back on earth, it’s time to put to rest burning questions that need answers. What happened to her mother? How did she really die? Who killed her? And are cupcakes or coffee the best medicine? It all comes to a head in an epic showdown between good and evil in this final smart and hilarious novel.




As a long time Charlie fan, I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book after the killer cliffhanger of the previous installment. SUMMONED TO THIRTEENTH GRAVE, picks up right where things left off, and it's no time at all until Charlie is up to her usual shenanigans. This time around is a doozy and I really enjoyed getting to see Charlie and co unravel the latest mess. I truly enjoy seeing this motley crew in action, and this book didn't disappoint.

Now onto the biggest question whenever closing out a much loved series, was the ending everything long term readers would hope for. In SUMMONED TO THIRTEENTH GRAVE'S part, the answer is yes and no as it's more than a little complicated. Was it a fitting ending? Yes. Was it the one I had hoped for, or could have predicted, absolutely not. Without spoiling things, I will say that it's more than a little bittersweet and while satisfying it's just not in the way one would think. It left a complex mix of happiness and yet strange sadness at the end that left me feeling all sorts of confused, but in a good way. It's hard to explain

I truly will miss Charlie and all of her fabulously hilarious and inappropriate quips. I hope there will be a spin off for Beep's story as there's so much room for more in this fantastic world. All in all, SUMMONED TO THIRTEENTH GRAVE was a fantastic read that I couldn't put down. Fans of the series will be more than pleased!

(Received a copy from the publisher)

Rating:





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Other Reviews:
     Gizmo's Reviews
     Silence is Read
     Stephanie's Novel Fiction

Previous Books:
     1. First Grave on the Right
     2. Second Grave on the Left
     3. Third Grade Dead Ahead
     4. Fourth Grave Beneath My Feat
     5. Fifth Grave Past the Light
     6. Sixth Grave on the Edge
     7. Seventh Grave and No Body
     8. Eighth Grave After Dark
     9. The Dirt on Ninth Grave
     10. The Curse of Tenth Grave
     11. Eleventh Grave in Moonlight
     12. The Trouble with Twelfth Grave

Review: Evermore by Sara Holland

, by Kt Clapsadl

Evermore by Sara Holland
Everless #2

Jules Ember was raised hearing legends of the ancient magic of the wicked Alchemist and the good Sorceress. But she has just learned the truth: not only are the stories true, but she herself is the Alchemist, and Caro—a woman who single-handedly murdered the Queen and Jules’s first love, Roan, in cold blood—is the Sorceress.

The whole kingdom believes that Jules is responsible for the murders, and a hefty bounty has been placed on her head. And Caro is intent on destroying Jules, who stole her heart twelve lifetimes ago. Jules must delve into the stories that she now recognizes are accounts of her own past. For it is only by piecing together the mysteries of her lives that Jules will be able to save the person who has captured her own heart in this one.



I really enjoyed the first book in this series, Everless. The premise, characters, and twisty-turns were all spot on. Considering it ended in a cliffhanger, I couldn't wait to get my hands on EVERMORE to see what happened next. Unfortunately my patience wasn't really rewarded in this case. EVERMORE felt like a completely different style of book, leaving me rather disappointed. There was little focus this time around on concept of blood time as currency, which I had found to be one of the most intriguing parts of the first book. This time around things focused almost entirely on Jules' plight to take down the sorceress. Unfortunately that led to a very meandering plot that lacked the pacing and momentum to keep my attention. I found myself skimming more often than not which is unfortunate. Also, there were a lot of vision sequences to the past that really bogged down the pacing. Some of the information/events they showed added to the story, but the pacing and execution just didn't work overall.

Unfortunately it also didn't help things in that I had no attachment to the budding romance. Something about the pairing just didn't work for me, and just felt forced. Don't get me wrong, I'm a sucker for enemies to lovers romances, but in this case, it just didn't work for me at all with Jules and Liam. Separately I like the characters a great deal (although Jules and her ridiculous impulsively bad decisions drove me batty), but together, they just didn't mesh in my opinion.

All in all, unfortunately EVERMORE just didn't work for me. I do think the author is very talented as evidenced by the first book, and I'll be eager to try new books from her in the future for a fresh start.

(Received a copy from the publisher)

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Other Reviews:
     The Book Prescription
     Her Bookish Things
     Gizmo's Reviews

Previous Books:
     1. Everless


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