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Castor’s Kiss (Soul Bonded in the Stars Book 2) by Tai James – Review by Francis O’Sullivan

Castor's Kiss (Soul Bonded in the Stars # 2)Castor’s Kiss by Tai James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Castor’s Kiss is the second book in the Soul Bonded in the Stars series. Following on from the previous book, we catch up with Mia who is being held captive and made to fight in a deadly arena. Castor is sent to rescue her, ahead of Keira and Phoenix, but the rescue mission turns out to be a lot more complicated than anticipated and Castor and Mia have to fight to survive long enough to make their escape.
This is an interesting play on the soulmate trope. Neither Castor or Mia are particularly looking for a soulmate – in fact, Castor has been actively supressing his instincts to search out his soulmate. And it’s a really inconvenient time, as both need to be focused on fighting and developing as a team. They have to learn to make it work, and not let their feelings distract them from the task at hand.
Soul Bonded in the Stars is a vibrant sci-fi romance series with wonderful settings and characters. In Castor’s Kiss, I particularly liked De’ara, who Mia initially dismisses as incapable of fighting and in need of saving. De’ara gets a chance to prove herself and show what she can really do.
I would recommend this series to sci-fi fans. It is probably worth starting with the first book, Phoenix’s Touch, to get to know the world and characters and to enjoy Keira and Phoenix’s story. Castor’s Kiss gets five stars from me!

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Pilot Who Knows the Water (The Lord Hani Mysteries Book 6) by N.L. Holmes – Review by Francis O’Sullivan

Pilot Who Knows the Waters (Lord Hani, #6)Pilot Who Knows the Waters by N.L. Holmes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Pilot Who Knows the Waters is the sixth book in the Lord Hani Mysteries series. This is a great series for historical fiction fans, with a vivid Ancient Egyptian setting. There’s so much detail that really brings the world to life, totally absorbing the reader. If you haven’t already read other books in the series, I would recommend reading them in order to get to know the characters and the world.
Hani is enjoying some peace and quiet, and looking forward to the security of a bountiful harvest, when the book picks up. Of course, he never gets to enjoy much downtime with his family and it’s not long before he’s swept off on another adventure.
I like that Mery-ra, Hani’s father, comes along on this adventure. He’s quite the character, and fun to have around! And also brings knowledge, experience and good sense to the table.
This book gets five stars from me. It’s a great read that I would definitely recommend to fans of ancient history and mystery stories.

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The Cave of Rúin Ársa (The Cross of Ciaran Book 3) by Andrea Matthews – Review by Francis O’Sullivan

The Cave of Ruin ArsaThe Cave of Ruin Arsa by Andrea Matthews
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Cave of Ruin Arsa is the third book in the Cross of Ciaran series. This time travel series is best enjoyed in order, starting with The Cross of Ciaran, to get to know the characters and contextualise the story.
The historical setting in this book is great, and I like the use of archaeology in the modern-day setting to connect with the past. It’s also fun seeing the ancient characters navigating a modern world – this is a trope I always enjoy!
The Cave of Ruin Arsa is a captivating story, with plenty of twists to keep readers engaged. We learn more about Ciarán and Aodhán’s past as it comes back to haunt them, while they are trying to build a new life for themselves. There are themes of faith and religion, and love and loyalty that run through the story and motivate the different characters.
This book gets five stars from me! If you’ve enjoyed the Thunder On The Moor series by the same author you’ll definitely love this series! Or if you enjoy historical and time travel romance.

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The Vardoger Boy (The Forerunner Saga Book 2) by Jay Veloso Batista – Review by Francis O’Sullivan

The Vardoger Boy (Forerunner Series)The Vardoger Boy by Jay Veloso Batista
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Vardoger Boy is the second book in The Forerunner Series. There’s a summary of the previous book at the start, but it is best enjoyed after reading Thorfinn and the Witch’s Curse.

This is an exciting story with fantasy elements set in the UK during Viking times. Having lived near York/Jorvik, I enjoyed recognising familiar sites and landmarks! There’s plenty of historical detail and the author really brings the world to life with multisensory descriptions. It really captured my imagination!

I particularly liked the depictions of women. There are shieldmaidens, who are as at home on the battlefield as male warriors. But there are also women who prefer working with needles than swords who prove ready to fight when the need arises. Kara is a wonderful character, and it’s particularly interesting seeing her grow in understanding as she sees a new side of the women in her life.

I would recommend this series to readers who enjoy historical fantasy, especially those interested in Vikings and Norse mythology! It gets five stars from me, and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

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Collateral Damage (Mafia Elite Series Book 6) by Amy McKinley – Review by Francis O’Sullivan

Collateral Damage: A Second Chance Mafia Romance (Mafia Elite Book 6)Collateral Damage: A Second Chance Mafia Romance by Amy McKinley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Collateral Damage is the sixth book in the Mafia Elite series. This is a great series, with plenty of fun characters to get to know and a good mix of romance and suspense.
In Collateral Damage, we get a chance to learn more about Trey, who has been in the background of the other books. Balancing his role in the mafia with his ER duties is pretty all-consuming, and Trey has been losing himself in his work after his girlfriend died from a bullet meant for him.
One of my favourite characters in this book is Katherine, a family friend who Trey is helping get the treatment she needs. She’s certainly a force to be reckoned with, and I hope we see more of her in the future!
I would recommend reading the series in order, starting with No Way Out. There are a lot of characters and backstory to get to know, and the stories are all very enjoyable.
This book gets five stars from me! I always look forward to these books and can’t wait until the next one comes out in the fall (and Nico finally gets a chance at romance…)

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Bake Off (Bake Believe Series Book 2) by Cori Cooper – Review by Francis O’Sullivan

Bake OffBake Off by Cori Cooper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Bake Off is the second in the series, sequel to Bake Believe. It is a fun urban fantasy for preteen and teen readers who love baking and food. There’s a recipe at the end of every chapter – I can imagine reading it together during the school holidays, doing a chapter a day and then making the recipe! But I ended up mostly reading it on the subway, saving the recipes for later. Anyway, I do love a book that lets you know how to make the delicious treats it’s been describing!
The story is written from Cat’s perspective. I really like the style – it feels like chatting to a teenager about their interests and experiences. Even the recipes are in this friendly and conversational style. Cat is observant, and we see her thought process as she notices the tensions and behaviour of her family and figures out how best to respond.
This is a really fun read! I love baking and enjoy reading fantasy, so it’s perfect for me and gets five stars! I would recommend the series to young readers who love to bake and eat delicious food!

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Taming of the Few (Guardians of the PHAE Book 1) by Rowan Dillon – Review by Francis O’Sullivan

Taming of the FewTaming of the Few by Christy Nicholas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Taming of the Few is an exciting urban fantasy, the first in the Guardians of the PHAE series. People around their world are finding dormant magical abilities and mutations manifesting, and facing discrimination and violence as people respond in fear. PHAE have established a haven in Ireland, attracting “Unhidden” who have no option but to leave their own lives behind.
This is an engrossing and entertaining book. The characters really make it for me – they feel like people I know (albeit with paranormal abilities I’m not aware of my friends having!). We learn what makes them feel comfortable and safe, and then watch as they’re taken away from their comfort zone. There are plenty of moments of lightness and character-focused scenes as well as the action and drama.
One thing I really like is that the Unhidden aren’t overpowered. Many have niche and specific abilities, or even inconvenient physical mutations. This means that those who object to the Unhidden can pose a real threat, with the numbers and aggression to have the upper hand. It also means characters can’t rely wholly on their abilities to keep themselves and each other safe.
I’d recommend this book to fans of superhero stories like the X-Men, with characters learning to cope with new and growing powers. It gets five stars from me, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series!

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Nite Fire: Exit Strategy (Book 5) by C.L. Schneider – Review by Francis O’Sullivan

Exit Strategy (Nite Fire #5)Exit Strategy by C.L. Schneider
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Exit Strategy is the fifth book in the Nite Fire series. If you haven’t read the others, you definitely should before you read this one! They’re fantastic, and you will enjoy Exit Strategy a lot more if you’ve gotten to know and love the characters over the course of the previous books.
Dahlia Nite has been trained to focus on the immediate situation, and saving the people she can in the moment. But when the immediate situation is an apocalypse, she needs to work on the bigger picture and figure out how to save humanity. As well as protecting those around her the best she can. And dealing with the metamorphosis she is currently going through. So it would be an understatement to say she’s got a lot on her plate.
At this stage in the apocalypse, pretty much everyone is well aware of the existence of a myriad of paranormal creatures. I really like the moments where Nite sees that people care a lot more about what she does than who she is. There’s a lot of great character stuff in amongst the action-packed fight scenes and intriguing detective work.
This book gets five stars from me! I’ve loved this series – I’m sad that it’s come to an end, but looking forward to reading more by this excellent author!

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Blood & Ravens (The Casket Girls Series Book 1) by A.D. Brazeau – Review by Francis O’Sullivan

Blood & Ravens: A dark, paranormal romance (The Casket Girls Book 1)Blood & Ravens: A dark, paranormal romance by A.D. Brazeau
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Blood & Ravens is the first book in The Casket Girls series. I was drawn to it by the 18th-Century New Orleans setting and was soon captivated by the vivid world and the paranormal plot.
The story builds on the experiences of young women who were sent from France to North America to marry the settlers and highlights the challenges they faced – seasickness, uncertainty, isolation, husbands with whom they had no romantic connection – as well as the conditions back home that would make this seem like an attractive choice. But it adds in a paranormal element, with vampires taking advantage of the situation to start a new life overseas.
There are some great characters in this book – Greer of course, and also her friends. I particularly like Desiree and am thrilled to see that the second book in the series will focus on her! I can’t wait to learn more of her story.
This is an enjoyable read, with some plot twists that really caught me by surprise! The best thing about it is the setting – clearly well-researched and with plenty of detail to bring it to life and also encourage an interest in this period of history. It gets five stars from me!

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Blood & Ravens (The Casket Girls Series Book 1) by A.D. Brazeau – Review by

A Veil of Gods and Kings (Apollo Ascending Book 1) by Nicole Bailey – Review by Francis O’Sullivan

A Veil of Gods and Kings (Apollo Ascending, #1)A Veil of Gods and Kings by Nicole Bailey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Veil of Gods and Kings is the first book in the Apollo Ascending series. It’s a mythology-inspired romance with plenty going on story-wise!
Apollo has been living amongst humans, including his mortal sister Temi. He’s not keen on ascending to his position as sun god, which would mean he could no longer spend as much time with humans. Growing impatient, Zeus sends him to live with Prince Hyacinth, whose obedience to his father makes him a great role model. Unfortunately, Apollo and Hyacinth have an established dislike of each other which makes it very, very difficult for them to work together. Or for Apollo to be even vaguely polite.
I particularly like the friendship between Temi and Epiphany, Hyacinth’s sister. As well as chapters from Apollo and Hyacinth’s POV, we get chapters from Epiphany’s perspective. Like Apollo, she is reluctant to follow the path that is expected of her – in Epiphany’s case, to get married and leave the place she calls home.
The author includes content warnings at the start of the book. I think this would be included in the preview, so I won’t repeat them here as they are a bit spoilery.
This book gets five stars from me! An enjoyable queer romance with a fun Ancient Greek setting.

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