Sunday, March 12, 2017

Review ~ Elemental Secrets by Elle Middaugh

Elemental Secrets 
Elle Middaugh 
(The Essential Elements, #1) 
Publication date: February 27th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Valerie Moore was a beautiful, headstrong girl with below-average social skills and above-average anxiety (including a flair for over-analyzing).

With her mother long deceased, and her father recently deployed, she ends up being sent to live with her eccentric aunt in a tiny town nestled in the mountains of Pennsylvania. But, being a Navy brat had made her into a bit of a loner, and making friends certainly wasn’t her strongest suit. As if the life of a typical teen wasn’t hard enough.

But Valerie soon discovers she’s not a typical teenager. Not by a long shot.

SECRETS are revealed…

…About her family, about her newfound friends and relationships, and about her whole world… Things that have been kept from her for her entire life…

But the biggest secret of all is revealed when Valerie discovers that she has Elemental powers, and a chain of inexplicable and irrevocable events unleashes throughout the little town…



This ebook was sent to me free in exchange for an honest review... 

I'm giving Elemental Secrets a solid four stars. It was a great start to what I hope will be a really good series... but there were some things I didn't like. Firstly, what I enjoyed...

I really liked the world building in this book, something that has been sadly missing in the last few fantasy books I've read.  I liked the deep history that is hinted at in this book, though I hope the next few books build on that and give more details about elementals and their history. I also liked the magic and the imagery. Middaugh did a fantastic job setting each scene and drawing me in... as if I was watching a movie. While I normally hate when I can predict how certain mysteries unfold and how they end, Middaugh kept me wondering just enough that while I did predict many things correctly, I was in no way bored... it was still very interesting and immersive. 

Ok... now what I didn't enjoy... I wasn't crazy about many of these characters, but I hope they improve over the series. Valerie, though she comes off as very independent and a marcher of her own drum in the beginning, quickly becomes a little too vapid, self-absorbed, and attention seeking in my opinion. But there are other times that she seems quite selfless, so I dunno... it was like she absorbed the personalities of those around her. When she was around Holden and his friends, she was very much the typical preppy, shallow teen. But in her scenes with Cade and her aunt, she was more grounded, more like the person I thought she was at the beginning. I didn't quite like that pendulum... it was a little distracting. Unless of course she literally is absorbing the personalities of those around her... like maybe somehow she absorbs Holden's careless air, Cade's grounded Earth, and Chase's passionate fire... in which case, that would be really cool... but that is never mentioned here. It is kinda the feeling I was getting though... I just found it weird that she has this strong attraction to, so far, an elemental of three elements.... and her personality changes in subtle ways depending on who she's with, reflecting the difference in her attraction to them (Holden lifts her and makes her feel like she's flying - hence her carelessness when she's with him, Cade makes her feel grounded and true, and Chase seems to set her on fire). I thought that maybe there was something there. It just seems like too much of a coincidence. Is she going to be attracted to a water elemental too? To complete the circle? 

I also hated that I didn't like Cade past the first couple chapters. He had such great potential but quickly became a jerk. And I really would have liked to have more Chase... but I'm fairly certain we'll see more of him in the next given what happened in this. 

Overall, four stars. As I said, it was a solid start and I hope the next couple books either stay at this level or get even better!


Elle Middaugh is a newly published author, born in the sticks outside of Clearfield, Pennsylvania. After moving around the east coast a number of times, she now lives in her hometown with her husband and three children.

Reading has been a favorite past time since Elementary School and choose-your-own-adventure books. Writing has been her dream since Middle School when she first began penning her own material. Being published is the most awesome achievement in her writing career so far, but she hopes for more exciting landmarks and stepping stones in the future!

She’s a proud Navy wife; a frazzle-brained mother; a homebody who dislikes cleaning; a fan of tennis, and fitness in general; a lover of hot tea, mountain dew, and all things fiction; and she’s a bigger My Little Pony fan than her children.


Thursday, March 2, 2017

REVIEW ~ The Theory of Deviance by Rebecca Grace Allen

The Theory of Deviance by Rebecca Grace Allen
Series: The Portland Rebels #3
Published by Samhain Publishing on August 2, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Erotica, LGBTQ, Ménage, New Adult

Deviance is unacceptable. It’s taboo. And it’s the one thing he’s always wanted.

Painful shyness isn’t the only reason Mikey Pelletier is a twenty-five-year-old virgin. Between working for his parents and volunteering at his church, he neither has the time nor the inclination to admit his bisexuality to the world—or to himself.

A visit from Krissy Porter will hopefully fix everything. After three months of chatting with her, Mikey’s got one carefully planned week to win her heart and lose his V-card. He’s hoping he can pull it off, even with her roommate along for the ride.

Krissy has been drawn to Mikey for a while. He’s so easygoing, she thinks he could be the calm in her storm. But there’s an extra complication when she comes to visit: her friend-with-benefits, “hetero-flexible” roommate, Rafe.

During a week of revelations, intimacy, and kink, Krissy and Rafe become the angel and devil on Mikey’s shoulders, tempting him in different directions. And all three of them discover that a week of pure deviance can lead to the most uncontrollable emotion of all: love.

Warning: This book contains innocent board game-playing that takes a sexy turn, use of recreational substances, back-door action, and some smokin’ hot threesomes. Plus, scenes of inner-demon slaying. Fans and tissues advised.


Google Play:

THERE'S A PLAYLIST!! And it's AMAZING! Go Listen! - 

Received free e-copy in exchange for an honest review. 
Actual rating - 4.5

I REALLY enjoyed this book, I can't say it's my favorite of the series - though I like the themes in this one perhaps a little more - because the other two books had more romance in them, but I still found this thoroughly enjoyable... and once again, I love that the story, like the first two, is built around a central scientific theme, a sociological theme to be exact... the Theory of Deviance, the act of nonconformity... being an individual, being true to one's self and the rejection of the uniform, traditional ideals of society. I think it's really cool and interesting how Allen weaves these scientific themes and methodologies into this series. It's really very fascinating and I come away from it with a bit more knowledge and an interest in learning more about them and how they relate so much to their story and it's characters, which is awesome!


While I did find it somewhat lacking in the romance department, the slow build, there were many, MANY aspects that I really enjoyed. 

For one, I like that this was bisexual menage rather than a love triangle where I always feel like someone gets left out... I love this kind of menage because the love goes in all directions. I loved the diversity in the LGBT characters... Mikey and Rafe were at different points in their journey of self-acceptance, and though they had similar roots (the struggle and questioning of religion, the nonsupportive family), one far more extreme than the other, I like that they took different branching paths. I really like that as a bisexual woman, it made ME question and explore things I have gone through. I would like to see Allen write more LGBT and/or menage romance to see where she can take it, what new realities she can explore. 

I loved the religious themes and struggles. While Rafe could not hold onto his faith AND find self-acceptance and love - as I couldn't - and that he had to let go of what was basically poison to him personally, Mikey fought to hold on to his faith, fought to find a way to balance them. And I like that it SEEMS that both characters are accepting of the other's choices... Mikey doesn't try to force Rafe into rediscovering his faith, and Rafe doesn't badger Mikey about his beyond that initial shock and struggle. 

I liked that this book delved into mental health and what it's like living with Bipolar disorder, the way it takes over the mind and sometimes no amount of wishful thinking can stop an episode... it takes lots of support and strength to get a handle on. While I have mental health issues, I don't personally struggle with a bipolar disorder... but I have family members who do and I found Krissy's struggle to be quite similar to the experiences my family has talked about, the struggle you face when your own mind is your worst enemy. Honestly, it's quite similar to my own struggle with depression and anxiety. So I quite liked that Allen wasn't afraid to delve into this subject... and she did it without sort of romanticizing mental illness, which I think some people have a tendency to do. 

Finally, I like that there was a light amount of angst. Though I do find myself in the mood for angst at times, that's not what I wanted out of this book, so I'm glad that it was kept at a minimum... especially when each character was dealing with their own internal angst and struggles... the last thing it needed was a whole lot of relationship angst tacked on. 


So, yeah, while I do wish there had been a bit more slow-burn romance, that Allen would have really delved into these characters getting to know one another, there were so many redeeming themes that I just loved! Honestly, this book could have been twice it's size and I would have still loved reading it! :)

Rebecca Grace Allen writes kinky new adult and hot contemporary BDSM romance. She holds a
Bachelor of Arts in English with a double concentration in Creative Writing and Literary Comparison, as well as a Master of Science in Elementary Education, both of which seemed like good ideas at the time. After stumbling through careers in entertainment, publishing, law and teaching, she's returned to her first love: writing. A self-admitted caffeine addict and gym rat, she currently lives in upstate New York with her husband, two parakeets, and a cat with a very unusual foot fetish.

More from the Portland Rebels Series        

The Duality Principle 
The Portland Rebels Book 1
Sometimes A + B = O. Yes. Oh, yes. Just like that.

Gabriella Evans’s life exists in terms of logic and definitions. She’s holed up in Portland, Maine, for the summer to work on her PhD thesis, but something is screwing up her concentration: the rumble of a motorcycle every time the embodiment of her rough-and-tumble fantasies rides down her street.

When her best friend talks her into a blind date, she finds herself out with the opposite of her fantasy. He’s polite and well-mannered, yet something behind his crisply tailored shirt doesn’t add up—a rebellious gleam in his eye that piques her curiosity.

Orphaned at fifteen, Connor Starks has finally put the years of failing grades, breaking laws and breaking hearts behind him. The only holdover? His penchant for getting down and dirty in public places. But Gabriella makes him want to prove he’s become a better man.

Nothing intrigues Gabriella more than a problem she can’t solve. But the more Connor tries to bury his past, the more determined she is to uncover it. And what she finds makes all her trusty logic begin to fail her…

Warning: This book contains a summer romance, dirty talk, dockside kissing, motorcycles and tattoos. Features a rebellious nerdy girl with an appetite for outdoor sex and light spanking, and a bad boy who’s turned good…or at least he’s trying.


Buy Links: 
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The Hierarchy of Needs
Portland Rebels Book 2


Jamie Matthews is stuck in a rut. After hitting a wall with her dream career, she’s back in her hometown, living a life as monotonous as swimming laps in the neighborhood pool.

Being surrounded by her perfect brothers is a painful reminder of her failure to launch. The last bonfire of the summer is an ideal way to let off steam, especially when she runs into Dean Trescott, the playboy friend she had one hot-as-hell night with back in high school.

Since the day Dean met Jamie, he’s loved her beauty, talent, and smile that lit up the whole damn block. But dating isn’t an option. She has a bright future ahead of her, and he refuses to chain her to his—helping run the family business that’s barely staying afloat.

A “what-happens-in-Vegas” weekend was supposed to get their craving for each other out of their systems. But neither counted on the past repeating itself, drawing them together in even hotter and dirtier ways and dangling the possibility they might both be able to get exactly what they need…

Warning: A friends-to-lovers twice over story that contains some hot ’n’ heavy kissing in the waves, hair pulling, and a man who knows how to use his hands. It may also feature a few practical jokes—only the fun kind, of course.


Buy Links:
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Google Play:

Friday, February 10, 2017

Review ~ Till Death and Beyond by Lyn C. Johanson

Till Death and Beyond (Witch World #1)
by Lyn C. Johanson
Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance
Print length: 374 pages
Release Date: September 21st 2016

 Till Death and Beyond is a sizzling tale of two souls bound by destiny in a cruel plot to separate them forever...

Amira is the strongest witch on the face of the earth, with psychic abilities no others possess. And yet, she is but a slave to the whims of the gods. Forced to be born anew every time she fails in fulfilling an ancient prophecy, Amira is desperate to break the vicious cycle.

Plagued by the memories and guilt over his family’s demise, Raven lives for the sole reason of restoring his younger brother. And kidnapping a witch is only the beginning—for he intends to right the wrongs of his past by any means necessary.

While the gods might have planned for her to be captured, surrender is not something that comes easy to Amira. Yet one glance into her captor’s eyes, and she is swept away by emotions long ago denied to her. She decides to play along. For a while.

Despite the hatred Raven harbors for their kind, he is intrigued by the witch. One taste of her lips, and she becomes his obsession. Soon, he discovers that fighting against the passion they ignite in one another is futile. But as they strip each other’s secrets, a powerful force threatens to destroy them both.

For in this game of gods nothing is simple—the whole universe seems to conspire against them. And no matter how fiercely they fight, or what they are willing to endure to save each other ... the path they travel is paved with loss.

Will they survive the ultimate test, if even their determination—to fight till death—might not be enough?



I really liked it. I enjoyed Amira's journey and her character development... and her magic and abilities! I LOVE witch stories! I really liked her and Raven's relationship progression and the soul mate-ness of it all. I even enjoyed many of the side characters... though, they seemed a bit one dimensional, though that's par for the course for side characters. And although it was a bit confusing, I did like how the battle ended and how everything wrapped up... especially since it opened the door for sequels in an intriguing way. BUT, I would have liked to have more world building, more explanation into certain things... like the different factions of peoples and the motivations behind their actions, the hierarchy in place, the order, the witch hunters... I spent a great deal of time rather confused about this world and the people within it. I felt like it was missing a bit of exposition into it all. I hope the sequels fix this.

Another thing I found quite confusing was the blend of language... most of the time, it's written classically, almost medieval-ish which is the type of time period I picture this world in, but other times, the language is very modern, especially in the colloquialisms used by the characters. It took me out of the story at times.

However, despite what I felt were few flaws, I do plan to continue this series if and/or when the next book comes out. It certainly has the potential to be a really good fantasy romance series.

A computer science major, Lyn C. Johanson discovered her passion for writing romance stories
during the long and stressful months spent finishing her master‘s thesis. It encouraged Lyn to open a new blank page and let her imagination take flight. Several years later, her first romance novel was born.
Her stories transport the reader into the darkly sensual world where the magic of romance meets fantasy. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her husband and sons.

Visit her website at

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Intergalactic Book Tag! ~ Lisa

1. Space: Name a book that is out of this world - takes place in a world other than our own.

Eon & Eona Duology
by Alison Goodman
Eon/Eona takes place in a fantasy world inspired by Asian culture. It's a GREAT read... Eona is one of my most re-read books... I find myself picking it back up all the time! I HIGHLY recommend!

2. Black Hole: Name a book that completely sucked you in.

The Mediator Series
by Meg Cabot
A badass 16-year-old who can see ghosts... and falls in love with one! Another I HIGHLY recommend! If you've ever read anything by Meg Cabot, you know that she has the ability to write YA in a realistic and comedic way... despite some terrible themes and events, this series always gets me giggling!

3. Light Speed: Name a book that you are anticipating so much you wish you could travel at light-speed to get to it.

The upcoming Tamora Pierce books... specifically, the next Tris book in the Emelan Universe! 

AND the Numair prequel series!... Numair being one of the main characters in the Immortals series set in the Tortall Universe books...

*covers not yet available. :( :( :( 

If you haven't read Tamora Pierce, and you like YA high fantasy with knights, magic, mages, and magical creatures, I HIGHLY recommend reading Tamora Pierce!

If you prefer more mature YA, I recommend starting with the Tortall Universe:

If you prefer YA that's slightly more middle grade (but not really, there are very mature and adult subjects in this series as well, it just centers around slightly younger characters, at least in the beginning... it does get more mature as they age), then I'd recommend the Emelan Universe:

4. Nebula: Name a book with a beautiful cover.

Shadows of the Forest
by Emma Michaels
I mean... LOOK at this GORGEOUS cover!

5. Multiverse: Name a companion/spinoff you love.

The Infernal Devices series
by Cassandra Clare
The ID series is both a prequel and a spinoff series of the more commonly known series, Mortal Instruments. This is a tad controversial, but I actually enjoy the ID series more. It's shorter and more to the point... it doesn't feel repetitive, and I connected with Tess, Will, and Jem more than I did with Clary, Jace, and Simon. Not that I don't love them and the MI books, I just enjoyed ID more. :)

6. Gravity: Name a romantic pairing who seem to have a gravitational pull to one another.

Bella & Edward from the Twilight Saga
by Stephenie Meyer
Not only do they have a gravitational pull towards one another, I have a pull towards them... I love reading Twilight fanfiction with this pairing... in fact, it's pretty much all I read for a good 3 or 4 years. lol

7. The Big Bang: Name a book that sparked your love to read.

Ballet for Drina (Drina #1)
by Jean Estoril
I read Ballet for Drina for a book report in Jr High and it was the first time that I found that I could actually ENJOY the reading experience. It was a small spark that quickly grew when I started reading for pleasure.

8. Asteroid: Name a short story or novella that you love.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard
by J.K. Rowling
This small collection of short stories is a MUST for any Harry Potter lover!
My personal favorite was The Tale of the Three Brothers, which is used in Deathly Hallows... but all five stories are fantastic!

9. Galaxy: Name a book with multiple POVs.

Firebirds Rising: An Anthology of Original Science Fiction and Fantasy (Firebirds #2)
This anthology is amazing... full of wonderful scifi and fantasy short stories!

10. Spaceship: Name a title that would be a great spaceship name.

Hawksong (The Kiesha'ra #1)
by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes 
There's something about "Hawksong" that just... sounds amazing. I think it would make a really pretty and memorable spaceship name!


Welp, there's my picks for this tag! I didn't mean for all of them to be YA... but that generally is what I read most. Maybe I'll do an adult edition next week.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Review ~ Shadows of the Forest by Emma Michaels

Shadows of the Forest
by Emma Michaels
Genre: YA Fantasy

Everyone is dying to live in the Shadows of the Forest.

They gave me three rules to follow in exchange for my brother’s life:

1. Do not enter the West Wing;
2. Do not go outside after darkness falls; and
3. There is only one exit; The Gates.

This is what happened when I broke them…

Rating: 3.5*

I really enjoyed this book. I loved the fantasy and the folklore of it all... and I quite enjoyed the journey Lily took to save the life of her brother... however, it did fall a little flat for me, it fell short of it's potential. The first pitfall was the need for another editorial lookover. Overall, the prose was nice, lovely even in many parts, but there were sections with fragmented sentences and incorrect word placement... which took me out of the story a few times because I had to go back and reread it to understand what the author was saying or describing.

Another pitfall - and I'm kinda torn on this in some ways - was that there could have been MORE... more character development, more world building. I would have liked to see more of both the spirit world and the hospital Lily found herself in. I would have liked to see more detail about the culture within these places. You know, Lily is told many times that not everything is as it seems, that she needs to be careful about how she responds to the spirits... giving on this idea that perhaps Lily is in danger... but I never actually saw that. Other than a couple dirty looks and some secrets being kept from her, I never got the feeling that Lily was in any kind of danger. And this goes double for Arro. Many of the characters warned Lily about Arro, that he was a trickster fox and she had to look out for his tricks... but I never got the feeling that he was particularly mischievous... perhaps a bit wary of her, but never cruel. I also would have liked to see more development into their relationship. I know all of this takes place within a short time span because Cole's life is hanging by a thread, but a couple conversations between Lily and Arro would have been helpful in believing their relationship and the depth of their feelings for one another.

I also would have liked to see more of Lily and Cole's life before the accident. Their life is pretty vague, probably purposefully so, but I would have still liked to know more of who they were before all this... and it would have helped out in character development. 

And this is where I'm torn... It really could have been twice the size it turned out to be... and in many ways, I do wish there had been more to the story and definitely to the world building, but I do kinda like that in keeping it mysterious, in keeping it vague, Emma left much of it up to the reader's imagination. It's always kind of cool when authors do this and do it well.

Overall, although I'm torn on the purposefully vague and mysterious aspects of it all, I still really enjoyed reading this and I look forward to checking out more of Emma's books. 


Also, what IS Usagi/Sachiko, Willow and now Lily?? I've been trying to find out what kind of spirit/creature they are but I haven't been able to. I find it FASCINATING... especially Lily with her cosmos/galaxy markings!

Emma Michaels is the award winning author of the Society of Feathers series. With over 15 written publications and hundreds of book covers under her belt she plans on taking over the literary world one cup of coffee at a time.



I just HAD to include some of her art... they're gorgeous! Check out her website for all her cover art!