Tag Archives: fantasy

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Book Review: The Librarian and the Orc, by Finley Fenn

I picked up a freebie copy of Finley Fenn‘s The Librarian and the Orc after seeing the series recommended on Tiktok. It’s third in the Orc Sworn series, but I was assured it could be read as a stand alone.

the librarian and the orc cover

He’s a fierce, ferocious, death-dealing beast. And he’s reading a book in her library…

In a world of recently warring orcs and men, Rosa Rolfe leads a quiet, scholarly life as an impoverished librarian — until the day she finds an orc. In her library. Reading a book.

He’s rude, aggressive, and deeply terrifying, with his huge muscled form, sharp black claws, and cold, dismissive commands. But he doesn’t seem truly dangerous… at least, until night falls. And he makes Rosa a shocking, scandalous offer…

Her books, for her surrender.
Her ecstasy.
Her enlightenment…

Rosa’s no fool, and she knows she can’t possibly risk her precious library for this brazen, belligerent orc. Even if he is surprisingly well-read. Even if he smells like sweet, heated honey. Even if he makes Rosa’s heart race with fear, and ignites all her deepest, darkest cravings at once…

But surrender demands a dangerous, devastating price. A bond that can’t easily be broken. And a breakneck journey to the fearsome, forbidding Orc Mountain, where a curious, clever librarian might be just what’s needed to stop another war…

my review

I am in a really odd place in reviewing this book. I liked the writing and the premise. I think the series seems interesting (in a totally over the top ridiculous sort of way) and I’m interested in reading more of it. But I didn’t like this book. But Sadie, why would you want more then? I don’t, not more of the same anyway. But one would presume every book in the series can’t be exactly the same.

What I disliked about this book was the characters. I thought he was an alpha a-hole for far too long. So, by the time he stopped and showed his softer side, it was too late. (Even if I appreciated that he valued her intellect as much as her deep throat.) I never could come around to like him. And I thought she was a limp dishrag and a doormat. Yes, I saw that Fenn was allowing them to both have been crafted by their past traumas. Yes, I saw that Fenn was allowing for flawed characterization (saying cruel things you don’t really mean, when angry, for example). Yes, I saw that Fenn was allowing their broken pieces to fit together in to a stronger whole. I saw it. But I didn’t enjoy it.

I feel like Rosa’s scrabbling, scrambling, desperate need to please her master just felt like an abused woman keeping her abuser happy as a means of self-protection (which she’d done her whole life, yes). But I felt like there was no growth past this. Instead it was just eroticized and John took advantage of it for his own gain. Yes, yes, I know that’s not how Fenn meant it. But the librarian and the orc photothat’s how it felt to me and I didn’t enjoy reading it. I almost DNFed more times than I can count.

So, I’ll probably give another book in the series a try. But this particular one was a failure for me. (I much preferred The Sorceress’s Orc.) It did stand alone though. I read it without having read any of the previous books and the only confusion I had was the fact that orcs only bare sons and I didn’t know why. I just had to accept it as the way of things.


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Book Review: Of Visions & Secrets, by Kathryn Ann Kingsley

I saw Kathryn Ann Kingsley‘s Of Visions & Secrets recommended over on Tiktok. So, I went to drop it on my Amazon wish list and happened to notice it was free that day. So, I nabbed a copy instead.
of visions and secrets cover

The darkness took Emma’s brother. Now it yearns to claim her.

When Emma Mather’s twin brother, Elliot, goes missing from Arnsmouth University, she is determined to stop at nothing to find him. Yet as she follows the clues left behind, she learns that there are far more sinister monstrosities lurking in the shadows of her city than she could have ever imagined.

Elliot’s former teacher, Professor Raphael Saltonstall, may be Emma’s only hope in finding her brother. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for Emma to realize Rafe is hiding secrets of his own. Despite the sizzling attraction between them, Emma isn’t entirely sure if Rafe is a friend or foe.

As two opposing cults hunt her down for their own twisted agendas, Emma finds tendrils of darkness closing in from all around. Pulsating Things live in the darkness…wriggling in eager anticipation to take her.

If they have their way, they’ll consume her mind, soul…and body.

This was a surprise winner for me. I enjoyed the heck out of it. I loved how up front and ready Emma was. She put her authentic self right out there for the world to see and I appreciated it. I thought the world Interesting and characters engaging. They’re all so marvelously morally grey. The writing is clean and easy to read and I’m invested in what happens next.

I did wish for a little more certainty on the fate of the brother…and admittedly more tentacle action than we were given. The story really is a little slow to get going and I thought Emma lost a little of her assertive spark as soon as the romance started to build. But I will certainly be continuing the series.

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Book review: Red, by S.J. Sanders

I saw S.J. SandersRed recommended on Tiktok and purchased a copy for myself.
red cover

There were certain truths everyone knew. Never wear red or any other bright color. Make as little sound as possible if one had to be outside the protection of the sanctuary settlements. And never, ever, go out in the wild places alone. The Ragoru, an alien species set down to live among them, dwell within the forests and everyone knows that they crave all things red.

Arie’s life has always been one of playing by the rules. She doesn’t draw attention to herself. She doesn’t leave her home without her hood that conceals her bright red hair. It is a secret from everyone, and her hood protects her secret so that she may continue to live safely within the village until one day that secret comes to light. Absconding into the woods soon becomes her only safety, and she will risk her very life into the care of the very dreaded beings that all people fear, the Ragoru, in hope of making it to her grandmother’s house in the citadel at the other side of the great forest.

When circumstances reveal them to not be the monsters of human imagination, but that they stir the ravenous beast within her, Arie finds that she is willing to risk far more to find a way to be with them forever. Even if that means severing ties with her grandmother, rejecting the human comforts of the citadel, and facing the horror of the Order of the Huntsmen.

my review

Meh. I actually really enjoyed the first half of this book. It is super formulaic and predictable. (I mean if, before reading the book, someone had asked me to write a generic outline based on this book’s blurb, I would have succeeded with 100% success.) There are NO surprises and NOTHING that you’re used to seeing in the genre is left out. Even the seemingly random events are just section 2, part b, subsection iii of the most commonly utilized industry outline (or so it seems). It’s your basic bitch, Why Choose fairy-tale retelling book. But hey, we read them because we enjoy them. So, predictable in the extreme, but also super cute. I really did enjoy watching the males come around. They’re all adorable in their own way.

I can’t really say the same for Arie though. She just kind of existed. And I honestly never got over my page-one question about why, if you could be exiled or killed for having red hair, you’d grow it out instead of cutting it off. I was really bothered by the idea that she walked around with a whole Merida-like head of hair hidden under a hood her whole life. Why would you endanger yourself like that? It was ridiculous in the extreme, but I decided to look over it. Despite that, I still found her a fairly bland heroine.

I’m wandering. My point was that despite being noting new to the genre I enjoyed it…up until the halfway mark. I even overlooked the editing mishaps. But after the halfway mark, when Sanders took the characters outside of their small story-line, the whole thing fell apart. Most notably the plotting fell apart and suddenly everything was too easy.

Three non-humans walked into a hostile human city for the first time and instantly found what might have been the only human who both wasn’t afraid of them and was willing/able to help them. Arie similarly was introduced to one person. She asked them for help and they said yes, etc. It didn’t even really feel like a story anymore, just a list of events with no emotional significance. By the time the final fight scene rolled around—which was won with ridiculous red photoease—I was done.

The book is also just too long. Whole sections could be cut easily. I’m thinking of the entire episode with the mutated humans and subsequent events, for example. All of it could have been cut wholesale for a tighter read, it contributes so little to the overall story.

So, to recap, fun if formulaic first half, lazy (and still formulaic) second half. I love the cover though!


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