Book Stop – ARC Review – Cowboy in Wolf’s Clothing (Seven Range Shifters #2) by Kait Ballenger

Cowboy in Wolf’s Clothing by Kait Ballenger

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Publsihed: June 25, 2019

Series: Seven Range Shifters #2

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Fantasy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

  • I received an ARC of this via NetGalley and the publisher Sourcebooks Casablanca in exchange for an honest review.*

    3.5 Stars rounded up. Full Disclosure I have not read book 1 in this series but I felt like this book held its own pretty dang well. There are hints and its pretty obvious which characters book 1 is about, and honestly any info that was revealed about book one and its plot acted more like a teaser to me, really ramping up my interest enough for me to go search out book 1. That being said book 2 was more than satisfying. The world here is simple enough and bits and pieces of information are thrown in to give enough world building that I never felt lost despite not having the full world build from missing book 1. I would say the only downside of not having read the first in the series before this was when certain characters made their entrance there was almost a sigh of relief from the book, like some imaginary audience in the background had just been waiting for them to show up and I felt like I should love these characters but I didn’t know why lol.

    Cowboy Shifters am I right?! Its like the best of the Western Romance genre combined with the best of the Paranormal romance genre! I would say that you can’t go wrong with this combo… but I’ve seen it happen before. Lucky for me this author does it all kinds of right! We have our Cowboy, MMC Colt, with a secret/mysterious past leading his pack but terrified of loosing it, and our Rogue shifter FMC, Belle, with a tortured loner past searching for a home and pack of her own. In this story Shifters are fighting against Vampires (the yucky evil kind not the sparkly kind.) Vampires have found some sort of scientific serum that will allow them to enslave the wolves they think, but in order to make the serum work they need a pure blood wolf shifter. I will say that the downside of this story line is that the author never really went into details about the Vampires plans and this aspect of the story was secondary to the romance plot line. I feel almost like this was done on purpose as the story continues and maybe these reveals will come later in the series? I would definitely have liked a breakdown though.

    Colt stumbles across Belle during a vampire battle. Belle is on the run after being captured, she is linked with a rogue shifter gang as their Medic. Yes she is a doctor, yes she chose to heal them because she couldn’t in good conscience not perform her duties as said doctor… but that doesn’t make her evil like them.. does it? Colt believes it does, but he is hiding his own past that comes so close to Belle’s its uncanny. Colt’s biggest fear though is loosing his pack due to his past, Belle’s biggest fear is never being accepted by a pack due to her past. These two take the reader on journey about letting fears go, acceptance, and love to last a lifetime.

    I like how there isn’t any “destined mate” going on here. Though I like that also, it was refreshing to just see people opening up old wounds and really growing close to each other without all the insta mate stuff happening. I’m thoroughly intrigued by where this series is headed and I’m already “The Rogue’s” biggest fan even though we only got like 3 paragraphs about him.. I’m feeling him and Maeve but I’ll have to read further to see if my fantasies come to light! Enjoyable straight forward romantic read!

    View all my reviews

Book Stop

The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Publisher:
HarperTeen
Published: February 6th 2018

Review:

3.5 Stars. What a great debut novel from Rebecca Ross! Despite not being full of my usual action I really enjoyed this book. It was super easy to sink into the world building. The story itself had a great ebb and flow and I felt that the characters themselves had great depth of emotion and were for the most part really well rounded. The only downside for me was that the plot itself had a pretty obvious line and it really didn’t defer from that line too often. For example, in the story when a character makes a plan of action… despite multiple holes in said plan, everything seems to go “according to plan” for the most part. I think that if it had more twists, turns, and deviations from the plan this book could have been epic. 

Brienna, our FMC, born on the wrong side of the blanket to a noble family in Valenia, is taken at the age of 10 to Magnolia House, a renown school for girls where they learn and master a specific subject called a “passion” and become “impassioned” at the age of 17 years, where then you take a final “test” to prove you are a master and are picked up and sponsored by a patron. As far as I can tell it ends up being like an apprenticeship. Very interesting concept here that I think the author really could have gone into much more with backstory and purpose of these passions. I was really confused at first thinking they were being trained as mistresses or concubines but that turned out not to be the case. Brienna’s grandfather gets her accepted into Magnolia House despite their rigid entrance criteria for talent in a passion by explaining her parentage, and the uniqueness of her dual citizenship with the neighboring queendom with Maevana. Brienna herself is completely in the dark about her paternal side other than the queendom itself and everyone refuses to tell her about. She knows however she has “no” talent and she spends the next 7 years hopping from one passion to the next until all that is left is the passion of knowledge and only 3 years left to master it. On her Brienna’s impassion day things don’t go as planned for her, not to mention she all of a sudden keeps having “visions” about a time, place and people she shouldn’t even know about. These “memories” and her longing to know her parental history puts her on a dangerous path of lies and intrigue and a coop for the Maevana crown.

I really loved Brienna she was just the type of noble, honorable, and loyal heroine that I love to read about. You can see her strength of character from very early on in the book. I also found it really interesting that though she has some strong insecurities about her “worth” and her strength with her passion of knowledge since she thinks it was a last resort, she really took to the passion and embodied what I felt a student of knowledge would. She was intensely curious and pondered and thought out one problem after the next until she reached a solution.

I am a tad confused as to how this book is part of a series and how that is going to play out since we seem to have come to a great end point for a stand alone itself…Maybe more stories from the world itself? I’ll definitely keep an eye out for more from this author!

The Amulet Thief by Luanne Bennett

Rating: 2.5-3 Stars/5

Publisher: Independent

Published: November 2016 

Review:

* I received a copy of this via NetGalley and the author Luanne Bennett in exchange for an honest review.* 

Triggers: Rape, Attempted Assault

I rounded up to 3 stars here, though I feel like really 2.5 may be where I’m at on this. The first..well maybe 70ish % of the book was very confusing. I see that the author was going for slow reveals on the backstory, and explanations but I feel like upon the introduction to the supernatural world we should have been thrown multiple bones, explanation wise, that would have made the ride a whole lot smoother. After about 70%, I was finally starting to get the hang of the world… maybe?, I don’t honestly know if I was getting the hang of it or deluding myself since the world was never really explained in detail but it did seem like it was a little smother around then. In all honesty I feel like the author was attempting to cleverly conceal the answers to most of the questions, either that or I am way off base and all my assumptions were figments of my imagination. We never got the answers so…. I’ll just pretend I figured it all out lol.

My Journey of Discoveries in this book:
Alex Kelly, our FMC, arrives in New York… We don’t know why she is here at this point or what made her come here. As a character right off the bat she seems super paranoid noticing every single person looking her way, also she is really kind of dry, personality wise. She seems to have no problem compartmentalizing weird things, which start to happen to her almost immediately after arriving. Basically she just ignores it, and doesn’t dwell on it at all which just seems a little unrealistic honestly. We slowly realize that Alex is on the hunt for details about her past, and her mothers death… I am not sure 100% that it comes out and says this point blank..If it did I can’t remember but I basically just went with it till I figured it out. I learned eventually that Alex has been raised in foster homes since she was about 8 yo, but the author never really goes into a lot of details about that. We really don’t get hardly any backstories..about anything. After visiting an antique shop where her mother’s best friend worked she is thrust into an incredibly dangerous world where she is constantly assaulted and almost or maybe even raped? I will say that it cuts out as she faints or blacks out every time something bad is going to happen and your left not knowing if it did or not… Upon awakening from her first encounter she meets Greer and is finally introduced to supernatural stuff, and at the same time goes through some weird personality things where she all of a sudden become this intensely hostile and mouthy person. With that attitude, things just get weird as everyone refuses to really give her any information to help prepare her as she is obviously hunted… and at the same time they are constantly berating her and putting her in dangerous situations with no knowledge of this new world… It was extremely frustrating for both her and the reader let me tell you. We don’t know what Greer “is” but we know there are shifters… and she is constantly saying that he prowls like a tiger… so maybe? Who knows we never find out. 

Oddly enough the book became interesting to me only after she starts working at a nearby book store…owned by a dude name Apollo, and while taking a tour a book called “Prophecies” falls off a shelf and hits her on the head. Coincidence? Irony? Significant? We don’t really know as it never came back to it but at about that time was when I decided that the author must be doing all the vague stuff on purpose and hiding all the answers to the questions. This book is a scavenger hunt for clues as to what is going on… At least that is where I ended up.. lol.

I feel like, for me personally, knowing beforehand whether or not I should be looking for clues to answer the plot holes would have gone a long way to increase my enjoyment.. If maybe one of these days I know for sure, maybe then I can tackle the rest of this series.

Runebinder by Alex R. Kahler

Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

Publisher:
Harlequin Teen

Published:
November 1st 2017

Review:

2.5 ish stars. In all honesty it was both the “feel” of this book, and the absolute lack of backstory and world building that really kept me from loving this book. I felt it was incredibly hard to stay focused on the story and that the plot progression was a little “all over” the place. Also, I was really confused by the age of the main character Tenn, who is described to be YA/College age but has the personality, emotional, and mental characteristics of someone who is around 12 or 13. If it did say his age somewhere I must have missed it, but throughout the entire story it kept throwing me.

The lack of backstory and details in the world building really hindered this story’s ability to progress smoothly. The “Resurrection” is mentioned time after time but you never really get any details on what happened to this world, why it has become this way, and what the freaking plan is other than survival. I am typically a huge fan of the dystopian or apocalyptic feel but this was just mad chaos with no real rhyme or reason. There was really no explanations on our antagonists or their end goal either.

Our MC Tenn is a severely depressed and highly irrationally emotional character. We start with Tenn on a hunting trip with “friends” already in the post apocalyptic earth. During this trip they run into some trouble as magical zombies get on their trail. They are not allowed to use magic because though it isn’t explained its apparent that using magic sends a beacon out to all magical creatures in the area. Caught between life or death Tenn looses control of his magic and saves him and another of his friends. Now their entire base is in danger because Tenn has summoned the enemy to their door. It turns out the enemy isn’t just after kill, steal and destroy…they are after Tenn for unknown and never revealed reasons… Just as the enemy shows up some reluctant allies show up as well saying the “prophets” (never explained) were also on the lookout for Tenn (reasons never revealed). Amidst the destruction of his temporary home and the loss of all his people to the enemy Tenn journeys with these 3 allies to a new base where they are put on yet another journey with nothing explained. The entire time Tenn becomes more and more depressed and still can’t seem to control his magic and reluctant bloodlust.

I’ll just be honest the whole thing was kind of a hot mess. By the end I was just irritated that nothing was really ever explained. I feel like the book is just missing some intrinsic stuff that would actually make it a complete story…Maybe they will explain some things in the next book in the series?

Runebreaker by Alex R. Kahler

Rating: 1.5-2/5 Stars

Publisher:
Harlequin Teen

Published:
November 27th 2018

Review:


*I received a copy of this via NetGalley and the publisher Harlequin TEEN in exchange for an honest review.*  1.5 stars..maybe..I am on the fence here between not liking it and it was ok. I originally wanted to read this book because I had read the first in the series and I was hoping and praying for maybe some explanations or some sense to be made in this book that the first one lacked. I will tell you right now you will get no answers from this book to questions from the first book. You will only end up with more questions and an intense dislike for the MC, Aidan who is probably the most selfish, self absorbed, and just mental MC I’ve ever had the displeasure of reading about. Being in his head was disturbing. Despite my dislike for him.. his sidekick Kianna was the bomb. She was ruthless as well, super strong character. I found myself fantasizing what her story would be. 

I had the same problems with the missing world building and absolute lack of backstory that I had in the first book. I just feel like someone should have told the author upfront that without these details your story doesn’t make the sense that it could. I feel like this story was supposed to be “the making of the antagonist” so to speak even if the actual antagonist is some barely known entity “The Dark Lady.” I sincerely wish there was some myth or lore or explanations explaining this entity and her goals because her actions do not meet up with what she says she desires to this MC.

This book does not pick up where book one left off really.. we start a whole new adventure with a new MC, Aidan. Aidan starts his story by murdering one of his fellow hunters and having the intense desire to take over and rule the world…. yea nice to meet you Aidan. From there, Aidan gets into one awful mess after another driven by his greed and selfishness getting everyone around him killed or killing them himself. Pushed along by his desire for the incubus demon and whispers and vision of The Dark Lady to do their bidding while promising him all that he wants, he continues into a trap of brutal torture both mental and physical. It really seems as though he is being groomed to be the bad guy… of course I have no freaking idea where this is headed or even why…

I am still super confused on what is going on, and I’m now at the conclusion that it is not going to get better. It is really unfortunate, but I won’t be trying to complete this series. The anxiety and confusion just isn’t worth it to me to cater to my “must finish” OCD on this one lol.