Review: The Soul (The Soul #1) by S.R. Carrillo

Evil has flourished since the beginning of time, but at long last it has come to pass—that the world should end at the hands of the divine. A Lesser Earth thrives in the ashes of the old world.

As does an unnamed lost boy, the abandoned effigy of evil, who wanders the globe without a clue and without a purpose.

The Last Angel Ero’s only task is to find this boy and raise him into the arms of Grace. He doesn’t expect to question that purpose—and he certainly doesn’t expect to find an affinity with the evil inside the boy he names Sol.

It’s only when Ero begins to explore new truths that he realizes just what having faith in Sol may cost him: his life, his love and his soul.

The Soul was different (so different), gruesome, graphic, disturbing, but so intriguing.

The story starts off from Sol's POV. He's been taken in by some crazy guy, Alexander, and Sol can't remember anything about himself from before he was taken in. He appears to be about 14 but we know pretty early on that he's older than that. Funnily enough, he's not actually a boy at all. Or human. Thank god because he ate people! In gruesome detail! It was graphic. I've read all sorts of vampire/shifter/demon what-have-you when they feed off humans. But this? This was something different. I was not prepared to be reading such things. So, now I'm preparing you. You're welcome.

At this point, I wasn't sure I wanted to go on. but I was so damn intrigued by Sol. He has not a clue who he is or what he's supposed to be doing and the author makes this very clear through Sol's actions and inner-monologues. I could feel his... I don't know... deadness inside. I could clearly picture him standing there, listening to Alexander, not caring in the least and then going out to eat a person like it was nothing.

After I got the shock of the century (when you read it, you'll know what I'm talking about), we meet Ero. Ero goes to Earth for one reason: to find Sol. To find him and help rid him of the evil inside. He spent a lot of time with the man who found him when he fell(?) to Earth, Lios. Ero took words right out of my mouth when he said:
"He had wondered whether the time he spent with Lios would mean anything in the long run, wondered if he was wasting time by deciding to stay with the man, for however brief a period, but there couldn't be anything more worthwhile."
Huh. I was thinking the same thing. Why did he (and the readers) spend so much time with Lios? While it seemed random, I think Lios played a huge part in reminding Ero why he was on Earth. Even when he didn't see kindness and humanity in his travels, he would remember Lios. He would remember that there were people worth saving from this evil, even if he didn't see them every day. I think it did take up too much page time because I would have preferred more Ero and Sol time.

Because when they do meet? That's when it gets intense.

They had this connection. One neither one was expecting and neither knew what to do with. Hell, I have no idea what to think of it either. I do know that I want more of them. Their characters were so clearly defined, I felt like I knew them (not that I would want to... *whispers* especially not Sol). Actually, I might be kind of in love with Ero. He was sent with this huge task and he went for it head on. But what happens between them... whew. They're intense.

But, Ero. Yes, I love him.
"No amount of malevolent influence could pry him from who he was because it slept soundly within him all along."
The writing style was very different and a little too purple-y for my tastes. I don't mind such descriptions but sometimes I just want an author to speak plain to me. Just tell me what's happening. Please. While the characters were very vivid, I couldn't quite get a grasp on the setting and sometimes on the plot. While it sounded beautiful, lyrical and poetic, some scenes took way too much work to decipher between all the extra words.

There were parts of this book rocked my unicorn socks. For reals. I need to know what happens with Sol and Ero next. There so much left to know about them.

This book was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more info on Goodreads

Review: The Dogs of Balboa by Rose Christo

Michael Mirez witnesses a sexual assault and does nothing to stop it. Torn apart by guilt, Michael sabotages his own life, until one year later, when Michael unexpectedly crosses paths with the victim again. Michael is determined to make it up to Noah, a painfully shy Native American boy whose only ambition is to travel into space. But Noah doesn't remember Michael; and Michael doesn't have the courage to refresh his memory. And behind Noah's attack lies a disturbing pastime with roots as old as America itself.

Wow, this book...

Recently I had a bit of a binge on Rose Christo's Gives Light series. She was an author previously unheard of by me, but once I started reading them I couldn't stop. Then I won this book and was reminded again of what a beautiful writer this author is.

This book resonated so much with me. It's about ...well life really and those chances and actions we wish we could change. Life is full of choices, options and forks in the road. Some can be given forethought and deliberation, others rely on spontaneity or rapid decision making. As Michael finds out, we can't always predict how we are going to act in a given situation. Fight or flight - most of us know how we would like to respond to any given situation, but in the moment is that the way we do respond? Hindsight, as they say, is a wonderful thing.

This book is about just such a situation, and the thoughts and feelings of the two MC's afterwards. One with a guilty conscience (because guilt doesn't listen to rational thought) and one a victim survivor. It's about how the two MC's interact with each other - how circumstance and situation put actions in motion. Most of all it is a beautiful story of friendship and love.

Rose Christo writes characters that are real. They have quirks, they are human, they are just like you and me. They need to deal with the choices they make and not just so it adds drama to a book, but because that is what we all do every day. There is always a message in her stories and I love her way of thinking. I would highly recommend reading her books to everyone. There is a beauty in her writing that lingers long after the last page has been turned. The characters remain, friends who exist only on the page, but who make you think about your own actions. An author that really, really should be more widely know. A fabulous story.

Review: The Need To Touch (Stay True Series #1) by Natalya Parks & Brooke Johnson

Ryder and Ben, college roommates from separate backgrounds, collide in this emotional book. Both are determined to fight for their love, but their family and friends may make things more difficult than either imagined. Will they be able to stand strong together, or will those around them try to destroy their plans.

You can only win someone’s heart once you’ve captured it.

Nineteen year old Ryder Harrison grew up near a small town in Montana, working on the family’s ranch and in love with his best friend, Landon Pennington. That was until his Grandfather decided he needed to go to college in California. Ryder promised his Mom before she died that he would finish his education. Staying true to his word, Ryder packs his clothes, and heads to California, confident that it would all be one big disaster. The only thing he hadn’t planned on was meeting Bentley Carter.

Twenty year old Bentley Carter has enough emotional issues to write his own ‘How to Cope’ manual. Surviving an abusive childhood, he made a personal promise to always stay true to himself, and never let emotions overrule his common sense. Content with his current life and friend with ‘benefits’, Ben is determined to not let his new roommate affect him.

Uncertain about their places in the world, and with each other, Ryder and Ben struggle to understand the person who is not what they thought they wanted, yet who they are unable to live without. Living in a sometimes cruel and unforgiving world they are determined to embrace the reality of falling in love and the challenges that follow.

What did I just read? This is by far one the zaniest contemporary romances I've ever read.

I'm not even sure where to start....

First let me say there were parts of this book that I loved. They are what drove me to keep reading. Every time I wanted to give up another good chapter would keep me from doing so. The bones of this story are good. Really good. The execution, not so much.

This read like a daytime soap opera in more ways than one. A daytime soap opera never ends and that's the way this book felt. It seemed to go on and on and on. Amazon says 169 pages. It felt like 369. I feel a good content editor would have helped tighten this up quite a bit. There was too many unnecessary details and conversations and scenes that did nothing to enhance the story and at times really detracted from it.

This also needed a line editor. Sentences like this really pulled me out of a story I was already struggling to finish: "It had been awhile since we had sex and once the close were gone...." Ummm, yeah. I started highlighting spelling and grammar errors but somewhere around 25% I gave up. Also see blurb.

If you've ever watched a daytime soap you know how ridiculous the plot can get. Unfortunately there were several instances of that here. Perhaps the most bizarre, a video chat with one of the MCs and at the other end his mother's tombstone! I'm not joking here, it happened.

There was lots of sex in the story. It seemed excessive but that may be just me. Some of it was really well written and made me sit up and take notice, so to speak. And then there's stuff like this: "I felt every burst, every drop of cum that filled my ass as his body convulsed under me." Say what?

There's also a really big cliffhanger at the end, just like the Friday episode of the daytime soap. Not sure I'll be there for the next installment of this one unless a trusted friend reads it first and gives the green light.

There was some humor here that I enjoyed. There was some sweet and romantic times that made me swoon. I didn't dislike the book and I've seen much worse as far as editing. I guess I just had really high hopes after seeing all the great reviews and felt very disappointed and let down with what was here.

If you like daytime soaps, this may be right up your alley. For me it was Days of Our Lives meets Beverly Hillbillies. Toss in the editing, or lack of, and it just didn't work out so well.

I have to point out there are lots of 4 & 5 star ratings and reviews on Goodreads and Amazon so it's entirely possible that this is a case of "it's me not you". I desperately want one of my friends to read this just so I can see if there reaction is similar to mine. Hummm, who wants to volunteer and take one for the team?

Find more info on Goodreads!

Review: Ryland's Sacrifice (Thrown to the Lions #1) by Kim Dare

Principles don't pay tuition fees. When Ryland's math scholarship disappears overnight, he has two choices. He can borrow money from fellow student Jason Burrows, who has very interesting ways of collecting debts. Or, he can volunteer to be thrown to the werelions.

One night spent playing the part of a willing human sacrifice will give him enough money to finish his PhD. It seems like a good deal-right up until the moment he finds himself naked, blindfolded, bound and surrounded by lions.

Mmm, yes. I gobbled this little treat right on up.  And what a treat it was. NomNomNom.

Ryland was left on the doorstep of the lions. What better way to pay off a debt? He was left there cuffed, naked and willing. Ah, yes. Just like the beginnings of all classic love stories ...if only.

The story wastes no time getting to the good stuff. We have quite the scene with Ryland and the lions. Specifically, with Arslan.
"That's right pet. Follow your master."
*shivers* Mh, he was speaking my language. Arslan and Ryland naturally fall into their Dom/sub roles flawlessly. Their chemistry was off the charts and all this was done without much dialogue. It's like they were meant to be from the beginning and Arslan wasn't the only one who felt it. I sure as hell did, too.

They were hot, they had definite chemistry and Arslan wants his mate. And he wants him now, dammit! But the poor feline doesn't always get what he wants.

I really liked Ryland. He was such a sweet, subby boy, but he still stood his ground. He was going to be thrown to the lions (specifically, Arslan) on his own terms. I liked that he was willing to go about things the right way (well, the right way in this type of situation, at least) and took his own measures to fix what he felt he did wrong. His desire to be treated as an equal with Arslan really sealed the deal for me. He didn't want to feel like Arslan was settling for a human. Ryland isn't the type of person someone 'settles' for and he made sure Arslan knew it. *high five Ryland*

The alpha male dealing with the human shenanigans made for a fun paranormal. And that's what this was: short, fun, hot. It's definitely worth reading and I'll be looking into more Lion and human sexytimes. 

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Review: Red Dirt Heart 1 & 2 by NR Walker

Little Miss Lori and I decided to review these together because that’s how unicorns like to play. I’d already read Red Dirt Heart 1 and was really anxious to read the second in the series. Lori hadn’t read them yet so we could go into this review from two perspectives. Lori and I see eye to eye on lots of books but I also know cowboys are not her fave while they are WAY high up on my list. Way. High. Up. So, it really should make for a more well-rounded reviewing experience. I shall be squeeing like the ridiculous fangirl that I am and Lori will provide a review not seen through the haze of cowboy lust. The cool thing is, we’re both right because that’s also how unicorns like to play.  :D

Red Dirt Heart 1

Welcome to Sutton Station: One of the world’s largest working farms in the middle of Australia – where if the animals and heat don’t kill you first, your heart just might.

Charlie Sutton runs Sutton Station the only way he knows how; the way his father did before him. Determined to keep his head down and his heart in check, Charlie swears the red dirt that surrounds him – isolates him – runs through his veins. American agronomy student Travis Craig arrives at Sutton Station to see how farmers make a living from one of the harshest environments on earth. But it’s not the barren, brutal and totally beautiful landscapes that capture him so completely, it’s the man with the red dirt heart.

Please note: This book is set in Australia, using Australian English and lingo.

Ann - 5 Hearts

This. This is why I love N.R. Walker's books.

Charlie and Travis are so incredibly charming and are going to go down on my list as a couple of my all time favorite characters. They are both very different yet a perfect match and I love how the author made that work. It wasn't just a blatant "opposites attract" kind of thing, it was more realistic and subtle, so that I could really believe the connection between the two of them.

I think my absolute favorite thing about this author's stories is that the characters connect through moments that I can see as a reader. I don't need to be told they are falling in love, I can see it in the little things they do to and for each other. Travis' sweet little nose nudges and when he would just look at Charlie. And not just look at him, but really see him. That seemed so important since Charlie had been hiding for so long and had resigned himself to being alone. I loved reading about him reveling in the attention and affection.

"He (Travis) leaned up and kissed my lips softly, then put his head back down and draped his arm over me. It was an intimate thing to do. It was unexpected but comforting. And really fucking wonderful."

The angst felt true and not at all overdone considering everything Charlie had to overcome. The secondary characters were perfect too, especially Ma and George. I don't think Charlie would have made it without them. This one is definitely a reread for me and I loved every little bit of it.

ETA: The chapter titles!! So clever and added to the experience completely. Loved them!

Lori - 3 Hearts 

I heard so much hype about this book that I already owned a copy when the blog was contacted with a review request. I have to be up front and say cowboys are not my favourite book theme, I often find them a bit, well frankly, boring. I'm afraid that, for me, this was the case with this book. I want to state right off though, that I feel this is a case of it's not you it's me. The writing was fine, I've read and enjoyed several NR Walker books, the set up and characters were fine, it just didn't wow me.

So, what did I like? The setting was beautiful. The loneliness and huge open space of the the Australian outback, with it's red sand and blue sky, was so apparent and real. Although it took me a while to warm to the characters, they were well written. I especially liked Ma. The storyline didn't knock my socks off, but I didn't hate it either.

So, what didn't I like. Remember folks, this is likely to be just me. I often find cowboy books boring. The strong silent cowboy/manager/ranch hand hiding his sexuality is just so....dull. I quite understand this is likely to be a reality for many actual cowboys (which makes me very sad) but I just feel once I've read it, I've read it.

So from that perspective Charlie did nothing for me as a main character. He was strong silent, lead by example, works harder than everyone else alpha, alpha, alpha and it just does not float my boat. Please don't hate me.

Travis on the other hand, I quite liked. He wasn't out and in-ya-face, but he didn't hide who he was either. He was funny, enjoyed his work but wasn't a martyr (mostly!!) to it. I didn't find him super special but I did quite like him.

The story-line, as I mentioned just didn't work for me. I certainly didn't hate it, but i could easily have walked away from it. I will say again - IT IS PROBABLY JUST ME.

All in all, the story was well written and if you like cowboys and alpha male type characters then I'm sure you'll love this. Don't let my feelings put you off.

Red Dirt Heart 2

Up until Travis arrived on his doorstep, Charlie had lived a very solitary life. He had surrounded himself with isolation; a couple million acres of red dirt, scorching sun and loneliness.

Six months on, winter has settled over the desert, and Charlie has the life he never dreamed possible. But living and working together, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, for six months straight starts to take its toll.

Charlie is a stubborn, stubborn man, who tends to have more conversations in his head than what comes out his mouth, whereas Travis has no problem saying what’s on his mind. And even as they both struggle to communicate, struggle to make sense of need versus want, Charlie can see that he’s pushing Travis away - yet seems helpless to stop it.

When it all boils down to whether Travis should stay or go, maybe the decision won’t be theirs to make.

Ann - 4 Hearts

*happy sigh*

Charlie and Travis are back and I am a happy unicorn. I was so stoked to read this one as the guys had just really gotten together at the end of book 1 and there was still so much I needed to know about them and lots of settling in to do. Travis has just uprooted his entire life and Charlie is getting a chance to live a life he never thought he could have. I knew at the end of the first there was so much more to come. NR Walker totally delivered. All the things I needed to know were answered, expanded on and man what a rollercoaster ride.

All the little moments that I loved are back and there are even more. I mean there was nose nudging AND foot holding! Trust me, it’s freakin’ adorable and it’s what makes me love this author’s couples.

“He had a way of making me love him just a little bit more by doing the simplest of things. The littlest of things.”

Charlie is still spending a lot of time in his head. The first half of the book is mostly spent in his melon and it was honestly a painful place to be. Bless his confuzzled heart, but I was torn between wanting to smack him upside his head to knock sense into him and hugging the stuffing out of him. I was leaning towards the smacking thing because he was breaking Travis’ heart with his fear and with Travis changing everything about his life for Charlie it was tough to read.

Charlie is a LOT tougher than he gave himself credit for and I did like reading about him finally seeing himself as others saw him and getting out of his own brain for a change. It took some external forces that could really do some damage to their relationship for Charlie to be the man Travis needed him to be. I loved the second half so much. There was a lot going on and the pace accelerated quickly. Not so much that I felt like I jumped into another book in the series, but it was different enough from the first half that I felt a little out of balance during the transition.

I loved how it ended and there was enough resolution to make me happy and enough open doors to make me so anxious for the next installment. I’m completely enamored of the man Charlie has become because of his inner strength and because of Travis’ love for him.

I started this with a *happy sigh* and I shall end with the same.

*happy sigh*

Lori - 3.5 Hearts

As I said before I liked Red Dirt Heart 1, but i didn't love it. I also said I felt that it was more me than the book - so what about book 2? Well I did like this one better. The story gelled better for me. I found the characters more likeable (though there was a whole section with Charlie annoying the holy hell out of me. It was the classic 'misunderstanding', miscommunication trope and I nearly DNF'd at that point. Annoying MC's are annoying. I'm glad I didn't because I did enjoy the way the rest of the story unfolded. It felt like it had more meat (um, metaphorical meat you dirty buggers) than book one and it kept my interest better.

These are books I'm glad I've read, they passed an afternoon or two for me, but I won't remember them in six months time. That's not to say you won't - like I said before, it's more a me thing than a book thing. If you love cowboys and the in denial, moody repressed type - these will certainly be up- your street.
****These books were provided by the author for an honest review****

Cover Reveal, Excerpt & Giveaway: Unicorns and Rainbow Poop by Sam Kadence

Today we're welcoming Sam Cadence to take a look at the upcoming book Unicorns and Rainbow Poop (<- seriously, awesome title is awesome). Plus, enter to win a $20 Amazon gift card!

Ex-boyband member Dane Karlson is struggling to overcome an eating disorder and a body dismorphic disorder. His fall through a glass table puts him in rehab and on the road to recovery. Then a friend dies. When depression causes him to lose ground, he calls for the only person he trusts--former bandmate Tommy. But Tommy doesn’t know how to help. He begs his friend Sebastian “Bas” Axelrod to aid them through the emotional struggle.

Bas, an openly gay high school student who’s recently lost his grandmother, is trying to survive his last few months of school before escaping to Stanford. Having just lost the only person in his family to care for him, he is victim to the cruelty of the others. His younger brother bullies him, and his parents are suing him for his gran's inheritance. When Tommy calls, Bas can’t help but run to his side.

Together Dane and Bas find a middle ground, supporting each other through the lows, dancing together during the highs. They build friendships and plan for the prom and graduation, thinking positively as long as they are together.

Categories: YA, Contemporary, m/m
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Sales Links: Ebook or Paperback 


“So I was thinking since you and I both care about Tommy, we have something in common. See, Tommy is stressed, and I thought we could do something nice for him.”
Dane sat but glared at the man suspiciously. “What sort of nice thing?”
Bas motioned to the bags. “We’re going to make him cookies.”
Dane gulped. “I don’t like food.”
You won’t be eating it. Tommy will. He canceled a class to come here. Did he tell you? He was taking a theater class at the community college back in Minnesota. Had to withdraw to be here. And with college, you know that means giving up any money paid. Not that money matters much to you guys. Though as young as you all are, I hope you’re well invested.”
Bas shrugged at him and began taking things out of the bags. Flour, eggs, sugar—both white and brown—food coloring, butter, vanilla, and lemons.
“I didn’t know,” Dane said quietly. He’d thought Tommy would be the least affected by his problems. Of course he’d been wrong about that too. Couldn’t he do anything right? “I don’t know anything about cooking.”
“That’s okay. I got this recipe online. It’s pretty easy. We’re making unicorn poop cookies.”
“They are sugar cookies with food coloring in them to make them all rainbow-like. Unicorns are good luck and all that. Supposed to be the embodiment of goodness and purity.” Bas picked up his tablet, tapped the screen, and flipped it so Dane could see. The cookies really did look like a big pile of rainbow poop.
“Looks tasty,” Dane grumbled.
“We shall see, right? Think you can measure for me?” He pulled out a couple of cookie sheets and turned on one of the many ovens. “I got permission to use the kitchen here, but we can’t get too rowdy or they’ll kick me out.” He winked at Dane. “I’m pretty sure the orderlies outside are to make sure I’m not burning the place down.”
Dane got up and moved around the counter to stare at the list of ingredients. Bas plugged in a big mixer and took the mixing bowl out of it, bringing it to the counter for them to fill.
“This is really for Tommy?”
“Sure. We can send some to Ru and Adam too if you’d like. I heard they are only an hour or so away.”
“I don’t want Ru to know I’m here,” Dane said immediately. He didn’t need to mess up anyone else’s life.
“No worries. We need tell them nothing other than that they are from you.”
About the Author: 
Sam Kadence has always dreamed about being someone else, somewhere else. With very little musical talent, Sam decided the only way to make those dreams come true was to try everything from cosplay at the local anime conventions to writing novels about pretending to run away to become a musician.

Sam has a Bachelor's degree in Creative Writing, sells textbooks for a living, enjoys taking photographs of Asian Ball Joint Dolls to tell more stories, and has eclectic taste in music from J-pop to rock and country. All of which finds its way into the books eventually.

Author Links:
Author Page

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