ARC Review: Given to Darkness by Phil Williams

🥳 Happy Pub Day to Given to Darkness! 🎉

Today I’m sharing my thoughts on Given to Darkness, book two in the Ikiri duology by Phil Williams. When I was approached by Phil to read the conclusion to this thrilling duology I immediately said yes because I remembered how much I enjoyed book one! Check out my review for Kept from Cages.

Special thanks to Phil Williams for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: Given to Darkness (Ikiri Book 2)
Publisher: Rumian Publishing
Publication Date: 19 October 2021
Genre: Supernatural Action Thriller

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

Ikiri demands blood. Whose will it be?

A malevolent force stirs from the heart of the Congo. One child can stop it – but everyone wants her dead. Reece Coburn’s gang have travelled half the world to protect Zipporah, only to find her in more danger than ever. Her violent father is missing, his murderous enemies are coming for them, and her brother’s power is growing stronger. Entire communities are being slaughtered, and it’s only getting worse.

They have to reach Ikiri before its corruption spreads. But there’s a long journey ahead, past ferocious killers and unnatural creatures – and very few people can be trusted along the way. Can two criminal musicians, an unstable assassin and a compromised spy reach Ikiri alive? What will it cost them along the way?

Pick up this exciting conclusion to the Ikiri duology today, for a supernatural thriller that will keep you hooked right to the finish

BUY A COPY:

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Book Review: The Darkest Temptation by Danielle Lori

Check out my review for The Sweetest Oblivion (Made #1)!
Check out my review for The Maddest Obsession (Made #2)!

Goodreads: The Darkest Temptation (Made #3)
Publisher: Self-published
Published: 10 December 2020
Genre: Dark Contemporary Romance, Mafia

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

A fortune teller once told Mila she’d find a man who would take her breath away. She refrained from telling her it would be literally while Mila ran for her life.

Having always done what is expected of her, Mila dresses the part, only dates college boys with exemplary backgrounds, and doesn’t ask questions. Not about her papa’s absences or his refusal to let her set foot in her birthplace—Russia. Suffocated by the rules and unanswered questions, Mila does what she’s always wanted to. She boards a plane to Moscow.

She never expected to fall for a man on the way. One with unexplained wealth, tattoos on his hands, and secrets in his eyes. But it doesn’t take long for his caress to become a rough grasp muffling her screams.

Revenge is a dish best served cold. Unfortunately, a Russian winter is the coldest of them all, and Mila soon learns the only way to escape intact is to do the impossible and thaw her captor’s heart.

TL;DR: This third book in the Made series was definitely the darkest of them all. While I did get on board with the romance and loved their connection, there were things that happened which made me pretty uncomfortable and situations do get dicey—it is a mafia romance though so you should expect it! Mila and Ronan were sunshine and killer grump opposites attract enemies-to-lovers and it was intense, and once again, the sexual tension slays!

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Book Review: The Maddest Obsession by Danielle Lori

Check out my review for The Sweetest Oblivion (Made #1)!

Goodreads: The Maddest Obsession (Made #2)
Publisher: Self-published
Published: 13 April 2019
Genre: Dark Contemporary Romance, Mafia

Panda Rating:

(5 pandas)

She fears the dark.
He rules it.

Her dresses are too tight, her heels too tall. She laughs too loudly, eats without decorum, and mixes up most sayings in the book. Little do most know it’s just a sparkly disguise, there to hide one panic attack at a time. Nobody can crack Gianna’s facade . . . no one anyway, until he comes along.

Most see a paragon of morality; a special agent upholding the law. In the New York underworld, others know him as a hustler, a killer, his nature as cold as the heart of ice in his chest. Christian Allister has always followed the life plan he’d envisioned in his youth, beneath the harsh lights of a frigid, damp cell. With a proclivity for order and the number three, he’s never been tempted to veer off course. But perhaps one should never say never . . .

One winter night and their lives intertwine. She hates him—his stone-cold demeanor, his arrogance and too-perceptive eye—but over the years, even as their games consist of insulting each other’s looks and intelligence, she begins to live to play with him.

Nowhere in Christian’s plans had he ever prepared for Gianna. She’s chaos embodied, not his type, and married, but none of that can stop his eyes from following her wherever she goes. All along, she doesn’t even know that she’s his—his frustration, his fascination.
His maddest obsession.

TL;DR: I’m a big fan of this series and this book was even better than the first but it is also much darker as our H/H have experienced a lot of trauma and abuse in their childhood. Gianna and Christian have scorchingly hot chemistry and a playfully antagonistic relationship full of sexual tension and banter and they’re one of my new favourite couples!

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Book Review: The Sweetest Oblivion by Danielle Lori

Goodreads: The Sweetest Oblivion (Made #1)
Publisher: Self-published
Published: 20 June 2018
Genre: Dark Contemporary Romance, Mafia

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

She’s a romantic at heart, living in the most unromantic of worlds . . . Nicknamed Sweet Abelli for her docile nature, Elena smiles on cue and has a charming response for everything. She’s the favored daughter, the perfect mafia principessa . . . or was. Now, all she can see in the mirror’s reflection is blood staining her hands like crimson paint.

They say first impressions are everything . . .

In the murky waters of New York’s underworld, Elena’s sister is arranged to marry Nicolas Russo. A Made Man, a boss, a cheat—even measured against mafia standards. His reputation stretches far and wide and is darker than his black suits and ties. After his and Elena’s first encounter ends with an accidental glare on her part, she realizes he’s just as rude as he is handsome.

She doesn’t like the man or anything he stands for, though that doesn’t stop her heart from pattering like rain against glass when he’s near, nor the shiver that ghosts down her spine at the sound of his voice.
And he’s always near. Telling her what to do. Making her feel hotter than any future brother-in-law should. Elena may be the Sweet Abelli on the outside, but she’s beginning to learn she has a taste for the darkness, for rough hands, cigarettes, and whiskey-colored eyes. Having already escaped one scandal, however, she can hardly afford to be swept up in another.

Besides, even if he were hers, everyone knows you don’t fall in love with a Made Man . . . right?

This is a standalone forbidden romance.

TL;DR: The intense chemistry and slightly antagonistic relationship between Elena and Nicolas made for a delightful slow burn and extra steamy romance! This was character driven and it was easy to like both characters although they are morally grey and some of the more ‘mafia moments’ did make me cringe (just a bit)! The sexual tension was absolutely off-the-charts and so freaking good—I’m looking forward to continuing with the series!

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Book Review: Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson

Check out my review for the first book: A Good Girls’ Guide to Murder


Goodreads: Good Girl, Bad Blood (A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #2)
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Published: 30 April 2020
Genre: Young Adult Mystery/Thriller

Panda Rating:

(5 pandas)

Pip is not a detective anymore.
With the help of Ravi Singh, she released a true-crime podcast about the murder case they solved together last year. The podcast has gone viral, yet Pip insists her investigating days are behind her.

But she will have to break that promise when someone she knows goes missing. Jamie Reynolds has disappeared, on the very same night the town hosted a memorial for the sixth-year anniversary of the deaths of Andie Bell and Sal Singh.

The police won’t do anything about it. And if they won’t look for Jamie then Pip will, uncovering more of her town’s dark secrets along the way… and this time everyone is listening. But will she find him before it’s too late?

TL;DR: Ding-ding-ding! We finally have a 5-star read and this title couldn’t be more deserving of the rating! W-O-W. I really enjoyed AGGGTM but I absolutely loved Good Girl, Bad Blood. Pippa is an amazing and complex character and I am in awe of her! This was such a binge-able read and I finished it in two sittings cos I could not put it down once the ball got rolling—and it really got rolling! This YA thriller series has fast become a favourite and I can’t wait to dive straight into the third book after this.

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The Count to 10 With Me Book Tag

Hello, friends! I’m coming at you with another fun tag today 😊 I first saw The Count to 10 With Me book tag on Julie @ One Book More’s page and it looked so fun I thought I’d give it a go. The original tag was created by booktuber Alyce @ The Bumbling Blogger.

Most of these books I’ve already read but perhaps one or two of them will still be on my TBR. If I’ve written a review for the book I’ll link it to the book cover if you want to check them out. On that note, here we go!


1. First book in a series

Slippery Creatures is a book that I just finished this past week and I subsequently devoured the rest of the trilogy. The vivid 1920s setting, masterful writing, and charming main cast has made this series one of my favourite historical (queer) romances and I (obvs) highly recommend it! 😊

2. Two or more copies of the same book

I have the ebook and the hardcover for With the Fire on High. I read the physical copy first and loved it so much that I knew I wanted to get the ebook so I could mark all my favourite bits an re-read it whenever I want! It’s such a gorgeous book ❤️

3. Three colours on the cover

The cover of Pride and Premeditation is one of my favourites! It’s so bright and SO colourful 😍 Bonus is that I really enjoyed this mystery re-telling of my favourite classic!

4. Four or more perspectives

This was a little bit tough but I’ve settled on Aurora Burning in the end! Each chapter is a different POV and we get the POV of all the crew members 😍

5. A five star read

Jade City is one of the best adult fantasies that I’ve ever read and I cannot recommend it enough! There’s so much to love about this series from the stellar world-building to the characters who come to feel like family. To say I was invested in both books in The Green Bone Saga would be an understatement. 😂 I cannot wait until the final book in this glorious series comes out because I need it in my life like yesterday already pls thanku!

6. Six (or more) short stories

I’m not much of an anthology reader but I did read Up All Night last month and surprisingly loved most of the stories! These coming-of-age stories are fun, magical, and full of the exciting, scary and hopeful feelings of change.

7. A seven on the cover or spine

I thought this was gonna be much harder than I anticipated but I just had to look at my shelf and I immediately spotted one of my all time faves: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo!

8. Eight letters in the title

Oof, this prompt was a little tougher to figure out! Good Talk is a great non-fiction graphic novel, the first I’ve read, and I really enjoyed the conversations this book brought up between me and a couple of friends! 😊

9. Book ends on a page ending in a 9

This one took a surprising amount of scrolling on my GR read list to find! I ended up with: 659 pages for The Crown of Gilded Bones, which is book three in the Blood and Ash series!

10. Ten books in the series

Okay, this one was the toughest out of all the prompts and I was unable to find a series that I want to read that had exactly ten books. It was even hard to find a series that had more than ten books… although counting the novellas, I ended up with The Outlander series. Without novellas there are 9 books, with novellas there are 12 books! I haven’t even read the first book so I have quite a bit of reading to do! 😂


And that’s it, folks! I won’t be tagging anyone specifically so if you feel like joining the fun, feel free to do so! I’d love to see what your picks are for this fun tag, especially for the last prompt! 😍

ARC Review: With You Forever by Chloe Liese

Special thanks to the author for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: With You Forever (Bergman Brothers #4)
Publication date: 14 September 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)


Axel
Rooney Sullivan is sunshine incarnate. Warm, bright, always smiling, she’s everything I’m not and the last person I have any business desiring. Desperate to hide a hopeless attraction, I’ve done everything possible to keep my distance…until a charades game gone wrong brought that to a grinding halt. 

Since then, steering clear of Rooney has been impossible. In a matter of months, she’s kissed me speechless, commandeered my art career, and infiltrated not only my dreams but my home. The woman who was once avoidable has become the last thing I needed: temptingly within reach.
 
Rooney
Axel Bergman is a gorgeous grump who doesn’t have the time of day for me. Thankfully, I’ve kept my crush under wraps…well, until I kissed him. Charades got away from me, okay? It was an accident! I haven’t seen him since, which is for the best. My life is a mess, and the last thing I need is to embarrass myself further with the man who avoids me like that’s his job rather than painting modern masterpieces.
 
It seems the universe, however, has a different plan. When Axel and I unexpectedly find our paths—and problems—converging, a marriage of convenience proves the perfect solution. At least, until I’m facing my most serious problem yet: a once-loveless marriage of convenience that’s inconveniently become a love match, after all.

THIS BOOK IS OUT IN TWO DAYS!
PRE-ORDER NOW:

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Book Review: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

Goodreads: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #1)
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Published: 02 May 2019
Genre: Young Adult Mystery/Thriller

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.

But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the crime, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth … ?

TL;DR: This book has been so hyped and I kept putting it off because I was worried I wouldn’t feel the same… But I’m happy to say that this is totally deserving of the hype! I can’t believe this is Holly Jackson’s debut and now I can’t wait to pick up the other two books in this series. I loved Pippa’s character and the mystery kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way through. This was full of twisty turns and set in a small country town where literally nobody can be trusted because everyone was shady AF! I read this in a matter of hours because it was simply unputdownable and I’m so glad that I can finally check it off my TBR!

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Book Review: Subtle Blood by K.J. Charles

Goodreads: Subtle Blood (The Will Darling Adventures #3)
Publisher: KJC Books
Published: 23 June 2021
Genre: Historical Romance, Mystery/Thriller

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

Will Darling is all right. His business is doing well, and so is his illicit relationship with Kim Secretan–disgraced aristocrat, ex-spy, amateur book-dealer. It’s starting to feel like he’s got his life under control.

And then a brutal murder in a gentleman’s club plunges them back into the shadow world of crime, deception, and the power of privilege. Worse, it brings them up against Kim’s noble, hostile family, and his upper-class life where Will can never belong.

With old and new enemies against them, and secrets on every side, Will and Kim have to fight for each other harder than ever—or be torn apart for good. 

Check out my review for books one and two:

TL;DR: Subtle Blood is the third and final book in The Will Darling Adventures and it was an extremely satisfying conclusion. The stakes continue to be high as Will and Kim’s friends and family get caught up in the cross-hairs of Zodiac’s games, leaving them to get cracking with the (not so) secret agent sleuthing! I came to love Will and Kim even more in this book as they work through some more rough patches and decide whether they have a future together. These two are hands-down one of my favourite couples and I had one helluva time with together with them. ❤️

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Book Review: Sing Anyway by Anita Kelly

Goodreads: Sing Anyway (Moonlighters #1)
Publisher: Anita Kelly
Published: 01 June 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance, LGBTQ+

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

After a lifetime of failed relationships, non-binary history professor Sam Bell is committed to a new (non)romantic strategy: Thirst Only. It’s the actual drinking where things get too complicated, where Sam inevitably gets hurt.

Sam is good at being thirsty, though, especially when it’s karaoke night at The Moonlight Café, otherwise known as Moonie’s to its largely queer regulars. Moonie’s is fun. Comfortable. Safe. Except for tonight, when one by one, all of Sam’s friends abandon them. Disappointed, they prepare to leave—until their #1 karaoke crush catches their eye…

For Lily Fischer, karaoke at Moonie’s is the only time she can step outside of her quiet shell. When there’s a mic in her hand, she’s no longer merely a receptionist harboring big dreams. At Moonie’s, Lily can pretend to be someone else: someone bold, who takes what she wants. And tonight, what Lily wants is the way Sam looks at her across the room as she sings her signature opening song, like they see her exactly as she wants to be seen. Like Moonie’s Lily is real.

As the night progresses, both Sam’s and Lily’s personal fears are tested, and the real world outside of Moonie’s looms. But maybe sometimes, the real world should be a little more like karaoke. It’s not always about knowing all the right words or having the perfect voice. Maybe all Sam and Lily need is a little courage to pick up the mic, and sing anyway.

TL;DR: Sing Anyway was a soft and sweet romance that had me swooning! Lily and Sam were such beautiful characters and I loved watching them let their guards down and create a safe space with each other. They’re so nicely fleshed out and their romance well-developed and this gave me all the warm fuzzy happy feels!

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