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

Writing goals for June 2017

Monthly Goals: June 2017

June is always a very difficult month when it comes to writing and the things I actually want to do. As I struggle to finish university, I have to find time in between the studying and the exams of June to arrange my writing monthly goals and see what and how I can get everything done.

What’s the plan for June?

June is full of exams.

This is something I need to keep in mind. It’s very easy for me to get lost in writing and other creative endeavours. That means my university life suffers. For this month I need to prioritize studying to writing.

Finish edits for “Fool’s Errand”.

At 16k, this shortish story is very close to the end. It’s going through the last bits of editing, I’m getting some feedback for it that will hopefully help me get this story where it needs to be.

Polish “Fool’s Errand”.

At this point, the story will have seen an editor, Beta Readers, and Critique partners. I will just need to fine-tune the last details. Then read it again, and correct anything I might have missed the first 45 times.

And then comes the second short story, “The Duchess”

Sitting at 17k right now, by the time I am done with it, it’s going to have seen some growth for sure. I’m an underwriter people. My stories grow before they shrink.

Edit “The Duchess”. 

I am already going through the manuscript and making notes of all the things I need to fix. And I’m cursing myself for not making a proper outline for this. I’m an outliner. I know the merits of a good outline. And yet I thought I would experiment. Well, that means more work for me now.

Send “The Duchess” to Critique Partners and Betas.

After my round of edits, I need to see if what I fixed and changed makes sense. “The Duchess” will go off to my Critique partners first, then my Betas. And I will have to be patient and wait for their wonderful feedback to come back my way.

Prep “The Duchess” for my Editor.

The feedback is in. Now, I’ll have to go through it and fix the story more. I need to get it as clean and polished as I can before it goes off to my Editor, and she can rip through it.

I know that I have set up more goals than I can handle, than I can do. Maybe I won’t get it all done, but since my priorities are different this month, I’ll be satisfied with a 45% on this list.

What are your goals for the month? Are you going to be writing? Do you also have exams?

~ Harris

Book Review: Lover Awakened by J. R. Ward

The third book in the “Black Dagger Brotherhood” series follows the story of Bella and Zsadist.
We’ve seen Zsadist in the two previous books, and Bella in “Lover Eternal”, but they had minor roles in the story. In this story, we get to see more of Zsadist’s trauma and the kind of life he’s gone through that resulted in how he is at the beginning of the story.
This book is easy one of my favourite in the series. The pair has to learn and grow and change through progress of the story, both of them have to overcome abuse in many levels, and face the prejudice that society throws their way. For Bella, that is her status as a female from a good family that has slept around, and for Zsadist is his scarred visage that marks him as a monster in the eyes of many people.
It is a story that contains strong language, sexual abuse and its aftermath. That makes it for a very emotional ride for the reader.

Zsadist is one of those ‘tortured hero’ kind of characters. His own twin calls him ruined and warns Bella to stay away from him.
And rightfully so.
Zsadist has been through so much since the day he was born, is so broken that it takes the whole length of the story for him to get himself back together piece by piece. Trauma doesn’t just go away overnight, and that’s highlighted in the book. The whole topic of Zsadist’s backstory, his growth, and his eventual redemption and salvation are earned and fought for, even when Zsadist himself is resisting it every step of the way.
A shell of the male he could be, Zsadist has every right to be afraid of contact, both physical and emotional, but by the end of the story, he has grown into a protective and caring male, especially when it comes to his shellan.
Also, Zsadist has a loyalty in him that most people don’t expect, or even believe. He’s loyal to Wrath as his king, to his Brothers, his twin, his shellan.

Bella is a perfect counterpart for Zsadist. A strong, intelligent woman, who isn’t afraid to say what’s on her mind and shake him up whenever he needs to be so.
She is also a survivor herself, and she has to overcome her own trauma.
She possesses great courage and she’s a very good example of a female character who isn’t a warrior and yet she can be strong and protective of her male.
And yet, she’s a rounded character. Through the story, she gets frustrated and angry, and she knows to walk away when she needs to walk away for her own sake.

It’s hard to talk about Zsadist without bring up his twin, Phury. Zsadist’s twin has spent the majority of his life either looking for, protecting, or taking care of Zsadist. He carries a lot of guilt over what happened to Zsadist, what he had to go through, always thinking that things would have been better if he had been the one to endure these things.
His guilt shows in the story, as he goes out of his way to do everything his twin needs him to do, even if those are things that break him inside. He’s even willing to sacrifice himself, if that will give Zsadist a well-deserved shot at happiness.

We see more of the reappearing characters, in bigger or smaller roles, and I’m a fan of that, as I get the feeling that I learn more and more about the world and its people.
This is, for me, one of the best – if not the best – books in the series, and Zsadist remains one of my favourite characters even in later books, with other things that happen to his character (no spoilers).

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

Dark Lover | Lover Eternal | Lover Awakened |

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Dark Lover by J. R. Ward

“Dark Lover” is the first book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood by J. R. Ward. When I first read this book, I looked high and low to get it, and I still had to wait some time before it was finally shipped to me.
*makes grabby hands*

The book starts off with a very interest premise: The black dagger brotherhood is a band of vampire warriors and they are the only thing that stands between their race and the Lessening Society.
Wrath, is the only pure vampire left, an unwilling King to his race, as he refuses to assume the role.

The book kicks off with a murder, and a death wish. It all boils down to Wrath’s loyalty to one of his closest friends.
As the story goes on, as Wrath and Beth interact more and more, Wrath changes from a cold, unbending warrior, to a King. It is a fascinating change to see.

“Your language is beautiful,” she said.
“There are no words worthy of you.”

Beth is a half human/half vampire, who has lived in the human world all her life, unaware of what goings bump in the night. Until she bumps on Wrath that is. She was a strong, well-rounded female character, curious and headstrong. I love her. Sometimes, in books like this, the male or the female character will be lacking, but not this time. Wrath and Beth are a very good match for each other.

We are also introduced to many more characters, but we only get little hints of them, as they show up as the main couples in later books. And those little hints are enough to spark interest and curiosity.
The world J. R. Ward has created is alive, breathing, and slapping his chest like some King Kong and I want to get more of it.

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

Dark Lover | Lover Eternal | Lover Awakened |

Book Review: Lover Eternal by J. R. Ward

The second book in the “Black Dagger Brotherhood” series follows the story of Mary and Rhage.
We still get a glimpse of Beth and Wrath as the story goes on and we are also introduced to some new characters, or see more from characters we’ve already met.
The author doesn’t need to set up so much of the world anymore, which gives her plenty of time to focus on the relationship between Rhage and Mary, a relationship that seems doomed from the start for too many issues. Both protagonists are saddled with their own personal problems and issues, that are enough to tear any normal couple to pieces.
But not them. They have their ups and downs, but they power through it.

Rhage is a character that is described as drop-dead-gorgeious, and he carries a beast inside that bursts out whenever he hits a low point, whether that is due to anger, or pain.
He is also though, a funny character. With no filter between his mouth and his brain, Rhage gives the reader some of the best lines in the book. He is also romantic and lovable, and he wants nothing more than to ditch all the casual sex he has to do to keep the beast at bay, for a meaningful relationship.

Mary on the other hand is a character who has had nothing but hardships in her life, and those hardships have left her on the floor, a mess.
She has no self-esteem, she sees nothing good in her, and she can’t even comprehend how a man like Rhage can have any short of interest in her.
She is though, a deeply compassionate character, a strong, independent character that reaches out to help the other people around her, whether that is John Mathew, Zsadist, or Rhage himself.
She has an incredible inner strength and she is a very relatable character. Even when she does the sometimes typical heroine thing, where she pushes the hero away, she has a valid reason for it, and a reason I can relate with and understand.
Nobody wants to be a burden or pitied after all.

It’s a very good story, albeit a sad story. Some points get heavy and depressing, but I can’t see how the story could be any different, with how many issues the protagonists have.
It’s a worthy continuation of the BDB series, a book that makes you want to read more, and get to know the characters and the world better.

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

Dark Lover | Lover Eternal | Lover Awakened |

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.

 

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 |