Book Review: The King’s Men By Nora Sakavic

*** Disclaimer: I’mma pretend you’ve read the first and second book ***

Synopsis for “The King’s Men” by Nora Sakavic:

“Neil Josten is out of time. He knew when he came to PSU he wouldn’t survive the year, but with his death right around the corner he’s got more reasons than ever to live. Befriending the Foxes was inadvisable. Kissing one is unthinkable. Neil should know better than to get involved with anyone this close to the end, but Andrew’s never been the easiest person to walk away from. If they both say it doesn’t mean anything, maybe Neil won’t regret losing it, but the one person Neil can’t lie to is himself. He’s got promises to keep and a team to get to championships if he can just outrun Riko a little longer, but Riko’s not the only monster in Neil’s life. The truth might get them all killed—or be Neil’s one shot at getting out of this alive.”

Book Review:

Third and last book in the “All for the game” trilogy, “The King’s Men” has it’s good things and it’s bad things. The second book ended in a bang, that the third book didn’t utilize in any kind of way. At the end, yes, things were resolved, everything was as it should, but.

One of its most positive traits is the emphasis it gives on consent. It was actually very refreshing to see something like that. No means no after all.

“Who said ‘please’ that made you hate the word so much?”
Andrew gazed at him in silence for a minute. “I did.”
― Nora Sakavic, The King’s Men

On the other hand though, there are issues. Things happen and not because any of the characters initiated them. Conflicts are resolved in an ex-machina manner, where forces literally come out of nowhere to solve the problem. Riko practically disappears until the third scene where he shows up for the game with the Foxes and then he’s off again.
Also, Neil – as observant as he’s supposed to be and as smart – misses things that should have been plain as day for him in a frustrating kind of way. A survivalist runaway wouldn’t take his eyes off the Butcher. He has a whole album with information on Riko and Kevin. Wouldn’t he be doing at least 1/3 of that for the man who is hunting him down to kill him? And I didn’t like that the Butcher – mentioned briefly at the beginning of the first book – suddenly reappears so that conflict/plot point can be nicely wrapped up and dealt with.

There is no agency in the characters. In Neil, or Andrew, or Kevin, until their last game with the Ravens. Until then, things happen to them and they are reacting while someone else saves the day.

“Is your learning curve a horizontal line?”
― Nora Sakavic, The King’s Men

It’s never a good sign when you read a book and you go all: “Oh for fuck’s sake”.

Never a good sign.

“This,” Neil flicked his finger to indicate the two of them, “isn’t worthless.”
“There is no ‘this’. This is nothing.”
“And I am nothing,” Neil prompted. When Andrew gestured confirmation, Neil said, “And as you’ve always said, you want nothing.”
Andrew stared stone-faced back at him.”
― Nora Sakavic, The King’s Men

Yet, the romance – understandably slow as it has been – finally happens. And at this point all the reasons why it had to be so slow make sense, and there is almost something sweet in it. The characters grow and make their choices before the big game with the Ravens, where everything could happen.

I don’t want to get into spoiler territory. Is this book a good conclusion to the trilogy? In a way yes. There are no loose ends, there are no contradictions with the characters, the romance is wonderful.
But it could have been better. I almost feel like this is a book that was a couple revisions away from reaching its full potential. Still, worth reading to wrap up the series nicely.

PS: Neil appears to be a cheeky bastard when in love. Kudos for that.

The Foxhole Court | The Raven King | The King’s Men

Book review the raven king by nora sakavic

Book Review: The Raven King By Nora Sakavic

*** Disclaimer: I’mma pretend you’ve read the first book ***

Synopsis for “The Raven King” by Nora Sakavic:

“The Foxes are a fractured mess, but their latest disaster might be the miracle they’ve always needed to come together as a team. The one person standing in their way is Andrew, and the only one who can break through his personal barriers is Neil. Except Andrew doesn’t give up anything for free and Neil is terrible at trusting anyone but himself. The two don’t have much time to come to terms with their situation before outside forces start tearing them apart. Riko is intent on destroying Neil’s fragile new life, and the Foxes have just become collateral damage. Neil’s days are numbered, but he’s learning the hard way to go down fighting for what he believes in, and Neil believes in Andrew even if Andrew won’t believe in himself.”

Book Review:

In the wake of Seth’s death, the team needs to come together, to be stronger, to fight harder. Riko is not going to let them off the hook that easily, not with everything Neil has head, and with Kevin not returning to the Ravens.
Andrew has promised to keep him safe like he’s doing for Kevin, and Neil has chosen to believe him.

The second book is by far my favorite in this series. It’s also a book that touches a lot of sensitive topics, more so than the last book: rape, abusive, addiction.

“I am a bad person trying very hard to be a good person.”
― Nora Sakavic, The Raven King

The stakes are higher in this book. With Seth’s death, they know that their lives are on the line and Neil carries the guilt of that death on his shoulders. It was what he said after all that provoked Riko.
But this latest development is not only affecting Neil. It’s affecting the rest of the team, and especially Andrew.

It seems though that Neil hasn’t learned how to keep his mouth shut about Riko. He can’t help it, and I can’t blame him.
Between his training with the team and the late-night training with Kevin, Neil is improving his game, the whole team is getting better, even if it’s still fractured between two halves, the twins, Nicky and Kevin, versus Dan, Allison, Renee, and Matt.

But half way through the book, the thing that’s keeping them apart is taken out of the equation and for the first time in forever, the team comes together in some place other than the court.

“He was their family. They were his. They were worth every cut and bruise and scream.”
― Nora Sakavic, The Raven King

But things just keep getting worse and worse for Neil. He has to make a deal with the devil if he wishes to keep his new-found family whole and safe, and at the end, his come apart, and only a few pieces – if any – of the persona he’s been hiding behind are left in place.

It’s a great sequel to the first book, doing the things great sequels do. The stakes are higher, Riko is a dirty bastard that nobody likes and the readers get to root for Neil, and learn a little more about Andrew and what makes him tick, as well as why he’s the way he is.

And of course Wymack. He has a ‘tough love’ approach when it comes to take care of his team, but he’s always there for them when they need it, and he’s there for them to keep them occupied and as out of trouble as he can manage. And of course, he’s there to give them all a second chance.

A very important thing that I’ve noticed in Nora Sakavic’s writing, is that both her male and female characters are equals. She doesn’t bring down one to make the other better. Her book doesn’t only have male characters, as it happens with a good number of m/m novels, and the women that are there are in equal footing with the men.

“Neil thought about Renee’s bruised knuckles, Dan’s fierce spirit, and Allison holding her ground on the court a week after Seth’s death. He thought about his mother standing unflinching in the face of his father’s violent anger and her ruthlessly leaving bodies in their wake. He felt compelled to say, “Some of the strongest people I’ve known are women.”
― Nora Sakavic, The Raven King

I don’t want to give too many things away, I’m trying to keep the reviews as spoiler free as I can. Read the second book. It’s worth it. Lots of feels. Lots of tears.

The Foxhole Court | The Raven King | The King’s Men

Book Review: Slave to Sensation

Nalini Singh has written a wonderful book. “Slave to Sensation” has everything you’d expect and want in a paranormal romance book. The Alpha male, the interesting female protagonist, the angst. Emotions run high in the story, especially between the two protagonists, Sascha Duncan and Lucas Hunter.

Sascha is a Psy – a creature of immense telepathic abilities – and her people have long ago decided that they will have no emotions, because they get in the way. Driven only by logic and cold calculations, the Psy have made themselves the rules of the world.
But Sascha isn’t like that. Sascha feels and even though she can conceal her ‘defect’, she knows it won’t be long before they find out and she’s rehabilitated. Everything she is will be gone just like that.

Sascha is an interesting character, complex, relatable, and throughout the story, the reader sees her grow, mature and overcome all her handicaps and perceived flaws. She is smart and sassy, which I always like.

Then there is Lucas Hunter, a leopard changeling. His race is complete opposite from the Psy, they embrace emotions and sensations. But now their two races – who have managed to co-exist somewhat peacefully – are on the verge of war over the brutal murders of several changeling women at the hand of a Psy serial killer.
I won’t lie, his name is a bit on the nose. A predator named Hunter? Nalini Singh could have gone for a more subtle name. Overall, Lucas is an enjoyable character, though he doesn’t break the mold of the Alpha male in paranormal stories. He’s not anything I haven’t read before, and for the majority of the story, it felt like he was taking a second seat to Sascha. The descriptions in the book, make him a bit of a cookie-cutter paranormal character: he’s sex on legs, he’s the hottest thing she has ever seen, he’s protective and possessive, and with a dark, bloody past.
Not much mold-breaking there.
Still, he works as a character, for the story he is in, and he and Sascha get some very heart-breaking moments between them, as they fall in love and the world pulls them apart.
I’ll admit, it brought a tear to this fool’s eye, and I’m not one who cries easily.

The world that Nalini created is lively, intricate, and immersive. It breathes and pulses, it feels organic. There is the inevitable info dump here and there, given the nature of the book, but that doesn’t affect the story, the pacing, or the entertainment factor. If you are into the genre, you should definitely pick it up and give it a try!

If you want to find the book, and support me, you can find it in Book Depository.

 

Book Review: Countdown to killing Kurtis

“Countdown to killing Kurtis” by Lauren Rowe is – simply put – a phenomenal book. I loved it from the beginning to the very end. This is also a book you don’t want spoiled, so I will try and refrain from as many spoilers as I can.

I do love my husband. To death. I love him so much that I’ve waited a whole year (minus one day) for Killing Kurtis Day to arrive. Tomorrow it will finally be here and I’m giddy with anticipation.

Don’t judge me, you don’t know the whole story. I reckon if you were in my shoes, you’d kill your husband, too.

The blurb of the book alone got me intrigued from the get go, though usually I do no like books that start off with a prologue chapter. A prologue chapter that ends up being a just regular chapter at some point in the book. But for this one, it works. It keeps the questions and the whys bouncing around in the readers head as the mystery unfolds and as the reader is trying to figure out why Buttercup wants to kill her poor husband so much.

The writing style is animated, engaging and buzzes with Buttercups personality, something that works perfectly with the 1st person writing.

One of the most important things for me was that I could understand where Buttercup was coming from, why she acted the way she did, why she was as she was. She felt real to me, as did the rest of the characters. She made sense even when I did not agree with the things she did or how she was thinking.

There is a big plot twist at the end. A plot twist that makes sense. Now, I pride myself in the fact that I see plot twists coming a mile away. As a writer and as a reader, after a while, you just know stories. It’s always nice when a book comes along with a twist that still manages to surprise you. Something you didn’t see coming.
It’s also better if that twist has been foreshadowed from the beginning of the book, and when it happens, all the pieces fall in place, everything makes sense.

I will stop here, because I really don’t want to step into spoiler territory with this one. Read it. It’s a very good book, entertaining throughout. I couldn’t put it down.

If you want to find the book, and support me, you can find it in Book Depository.

~ Harris

Book Review Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night

“Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s night” is the third book in the “Immortals After Dark” series by Kresley Cole. This series gets better and better with each book.

This story picks up exactly where “No rest for the wicked” ended, and it follows Bowen MacRieve and Mariketa the Awaited after the Hie, an immortal treasure hunt that takes place every 250 years.

Bowe wanted the trophy more than anyone else. The Key that could take him to the past, meant that he could return and saved the love of his life. But he lost the Hie to Kaderin and Sebastian.

Mariketa the Awaited joined the Hie before even freezing in her immortality. She has always been told that she has had great power and it is true. But it is power that she can’t control or summon at will. And a volatile power is no good. At the end of the Hie, she finds herself trapped in a temple alongside some other participants, because of Bowen.

The story starts when Bowen is made to go back and free her, or face the wrath of the witches he so loathes. The Big Bad Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood are strong, especially in the beginning, when Mari has her cape. Their story is more balanced thant he two before it, between the action and the romance. The story has good pacing that keeps the reader engaged and interested.

The expanded universe and the reappearing characters give the story a familiarity, and we get glimpses of what characters we’ve already met are up to, like Lachlain.

Bowen is an old werewolf, set in his ways and in his hatred for witches. Mariketa is a young, passionate witch. A very well-rounded character as well, especially when compared to Emma and Kaderin. She’s sassy, smart, with insecurities that do not make her a push-over in any kind of way.
I was glad at the end of the story to see that Bowen didn’t demand that she change and be less than she is, but instead he accepted her with everything she was. As he should.

Now, on to the things that I didn’t like. Also spoilery stuff.

The ending. I didn’t like it. Let’s put it as simply as that. The resolution was out of the blue. Suddenly Bowen’s dead girlfriend wasn’t really the girl he was meant to be with, suddenly there is an all-powerful Goddess after Mariketa and she’s going to use Bowen to get to her.
It was all so very sudden. I would have accepted it better if there was some kind of foreshadowing or hint. But the only thing we got was that Bowen’s friends didn’t like Maria. The end.
I didn’t feel the last battle either. It was just a few pages long, and Mariketa had somehow learned everything she needed to know in a couple of days. I didn’t fear for her life at the end. Neither hers, nor Bowen’s. Everything was wrapped up in a nice bow, very quickly for my liking.

Also, Nyx. She is getting tiring after a little while. One would think that by now, the other characters would know not to trust her. They would know to be more careful of the riddles she gives them. But no. Everyone takes her words to heart and they don’t think more on them.

Overall, it was a very interesting story, ending aside. But it was also a story that I enjoyed more the second time I read it. The first time, I wasn’t that impressed.

If you want to find the book, and support me, you can find it in Book Depository.

~ Harris

A hunger like no other | No rest for the wicked | Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night |

Guest post: How to write in a foreign language — eternal scribbler

This week’s guest poster is the wonderful M S Harris who discusses writing manuscripts in a language that is not your native one. How To Write In A Foreign Language by M.S. Harris I have been writing for a long time and I’ve been making stories in my head for as long as I can remember. Not […]

via Guest post: How to write in a foreign language — eternal scribbler

Every Artist is a Child

Life is hard. Life is difficult and as we grow up and we grow old, life likes to slap us and know us down, dedicated in teaching us important “lessons”.

Ever so slowly, we lose our fearlessness, our passion and our wonder. We no longer see the world as a child does, with pure joy at every little discovery, with the need to explore, create and satisfy our thirsty curiosity.

Life teaches us to be afraid, to stay put and mind our business. Life, experience and knowledge help bury that child inside each of us.

But an artist needs those qualities. An artist needs to be a child, to look at the world with wonder and joy, to feel no fear, or anything that can hinder or block the creativity and the curiosity that powers his work.

In his heart, every artist remains a child and every child is born an artist. It’s just a matter of whether or not he will let life and growing old and weary stop him in any way.

"People will never forget how you made them feel" ~ Maya Angelou

“People will never forget how you made them feel” ~ Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou has talked about the importance of emotions. And that holds true for stories and storytelling.

Stories in their core are about feelings. What the reader feels, how invested he is in the story and the characters, how immersed he is, how close to home their troubles, and fears, and hopes hit. Stories are for the sleepless nights, when you can’t put down a big because you have to find out what happens next. Stories are for the people you meet between the lines; the people you carry with you for the rest of your life. Maya Angelou was right after all :”People will never forget how you made them feel”, and a reader that has cried and laughed with your story will always come back for more.

Stories are feelings.

Even a story in a fantasy setting has those same feelings. Even though it has knights, and princesses, and dragons who couldn’t be further from reality. Yet, a good story will have the reader worrying. Will the hero succeed? Or, will he be with the one he loves? Will he fail?

Good writing makes the reader feel.

It makes the characters feel alive and as real as the people outside the book. The book made the reader angry, happy, sad, anxious. It gave him a whole spectrum of emotions to experience. Emotions that blew up in his mind and his heart like fireworks. If a story made him cry, laugh out lour, or even hurl the book half way across the room, that’s the story that’s going to stay with him.

Stories tag at heartstrings.

Stories are feelings.

~Harris

 

A hunger like no other

Book Review: A hunger like no other by Kresley Cole

“A hunger like no other” is the first book in the “Immortals after dark” series. An adult, paranormal series of books about everything that can go bump in the night and kill you. And immortal love.

What’s not to like?

Kresley Cole creates a very interesting, fast-paced world, with many fantasy creatures. Vampires and werewolves, but even demons, angels, witches and Valkyries come out at night in New Orleans.

“A hunger like no other” is very much like your typical story of ‘beauty and the beast’ to me. He’s tortured and with anger problems, she is cowardly and meek. But through the course of the story, they change and they evolve.

Emmaline Troy is a half Valkyrie/half vampire who has been sheltered all her life, not only from the outside world, but from her own nature. By the end of the book, she’s the fighter she was meant to be, confident and freed. Emma even finds out the answers she was seeking at the beginning of the book, before she bumped into Lachlain MacRieve.

Meanwhile, Lachlain has been captured by the vampire Horde for years. He’s been sentenced to burn for centuries, just to have his immortality bring him back to life. He finds his soul-mate in Emmaline. The young vampire is able to calm down the rage inside of him and give him a more open-minded perspective.

Just because she’s half vampire, doesn’t mean she’s vile or evil.

But that’s what he thinks – understandably so with what he’s been through  – in the beginning and it takes him a while to come to terms with the reality and accept how things are. Emmaline is his fated mate. She’s half vampire. She’s not evil.

Though, not one of my favourite in the series, it is still an enjoyable read, that is not without its issues of course.

There are many dark undertones and many of them are in Emmaline’s and Lachlain’s relationship that starts off on the wrong foot. He’s controlling, wrathful and he lies to her whenever it suits him. Their relationship is seen as abusive and their interactions to the point of being sexual assault, as Lachlain kidnaps Emmaline and repeatedly ignores every time she tells him no.

It didn’t bother me a lot, but it took out of the story and it is something he regrets afterwards and he tries to make it up to her. Still, it doesn’t much change his actions.

What did you think about this book? Have you read it? 🙂 I’m continuing with the rest of the series, as I want to catch up to the new books that I haven’t read.

If you want to find the book, and support me, you can find it in Book Depository.

~ Harris

A hunger like no other | No rest for the wicked | Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night |