The Book Barrio

A Blog for Fantasy and Romance Readers


3 Stars

Review: Dark Ascension (Generation V #4) by M.L. Brennan


Dark Ascension (Generation V #4) by M.L. Brennan


Dark Ascension by M.L. Brennan is the fourth book in the Generation V series. I loved reading the previous books in the series. Fortitude Scott is the youngest vampire of the Scott family, who rules all the paranormal creatures in the area. He is the most human like of all 3 vampire siblings of the Scott family. He is capable of empathy and compassion unlike his centuries-old vampire siblings, Prudence and Chivalry, who have a limited supply of humanity.

Now that Fort’s mother the great vampire Madeline is weakening and dying, Fort will have to figure out a way to get along with his siblings and transition into a full vampire. The whole paranormal community is also abuzz about the change that is to come once the old vampire ruler is dead.

This book was a bit low key compared to the first three books in the series, Fort had to settle some issues among the other paranormal creatures living in the city. The problem is that Fort, Chivalry and Prudence can’t seem to get along or agree on anything. Prudence is always up for the most violent approach, while Fort wants to settle everything the peaceful way.

The thing I love most about this book is how we see Fort grow into himself. He becomes a full vampire and still manages to hold on to his humanity. His relationship with were-fox Suzume is one of the best bestfriends to lovers relationships in YA/NA paranormal lit. I like how Suzume is always her foxy self, playing tricks here and there.

Overall, the this feels kind of like a long version of an epilogue where the characters find ways to settle and go on with their lives. It’s not like the usual episodic mystery novel that we’ve seen from previous books. It’s more like a feel-good episode of your favorite family show. Still, the world-building, humor and endearing characters are well worth the read. I look forward to future books in the series.

Rating: 3 Stars



Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard


Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy


Truthwitch is about two girls, who have some special abilities that may be prophesied to do who knows what. The two girls are Safi and Iseult. Safi has a truthwitchery gift, she can tell when people are lying. Her ability is so rare that it is almost unheard of. Iseult is Safi’s BFF and threadsister, which means that they have a stronger than average friendship bond. Iseult can sort of feel people’s emotions from the “threads” that come out of them.

One day, chaos ensues when Safi and Iseult have a heist gone wrong and have to hide. Then people suddenly find out that Safi is a truthwitch, and everybody wants Safi so they have to go on the run. Prince Merik, a guy from a poorer kingdom is contracted to help Safi escape in exchange for a trade contract for his country. It gets difficult because everyone else is after Safi, and they have a bloodwitch, who can track people through blood scent, on their trail.

This book was a lot of fun. It was a bit hard to get into at first. We don’t have a clear picture of the plot and the characters’ motivations. There are a lot of unanswered questions, which I do not know if they will be explained later or are simply oversights. Some slight inconsistencies in logic, like how people found out about Safi’s powers and stuff like that. It implies that there might have been a lot more things going on outside of the main characters’ points of view. I also liked that the action was non-stop. I really loved the fantasy world that Susan Dennard built. I wanted to see Safi use her powers some more.

I also feel that this book was not well concluded enough. There were just too many unanswered questions, and just a hint of a prophecy that might be important. I need the shocking revelations and I want to see what kind of path the characters are going to take. It seemed that at the end, only temporary decisions were made and some ambiguous goals were declared. Nevertheless, it’s a good start to a YA fantasy series, and I would definitely read the next book when it comes out.

Rating: 3 Stars


Review: The Score (Off Campus #3) by Elle Kennedy


The Score by Elle Kennedy

Genre: Romance, New Adult


The Score by Elle Kennedy is a College Romance. It is the 3rd book in the author’s Off Campus series. Having enjoyed the other books in the series, I immediately pushed this up on my to-read list. Allie is Hannah’s (Book 1 heroine) best friend. They’re roommies. When Allie decides to break up with her long time boyfriend, she needs a hiding place so she can avoid the stalker ex-boyfriend. Hannah’s boyfriend, Garrett, who just so happens to be on a weekend vaca with Hannah, offers to let Allie stay in his room for the weekend. He gives his housemate, playboy extraordinaire, Dean, instructions NOT to hit on Allie. But of course, Dean does definitely hit on Allie, while she’s drunk and feeling vulnerable from the break up. Hot rebound sex ensues.

What starts from a one night stand escalates into a lust fest between the two main characters. Dean is a manwhore, and Allie is the shy type who has the golden vagina that will change his ways. I swear this book has so much sex scenes that I could probably label it as an almost-erotica. I liked the chemistry between the main characters.

The story is expertly done. Its’s not just all about the sex. We see a couple that starts from being just in lust, into being in love. Nevertheless, this book isn’t as memorable as the first book in the series, The Deal, which remains my favorite. (If you haven’t this series yet, the first book, The Deal is $0.99 on Kindle today.) The Score, won’t get you re-reading anytime soon. But it’s a quick, enjoyable read for Romance lovers who need an HEA fix.

Rating: 3 Stars

Book Review: The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons


Genre: Young Adult Dystopian


In a world where females are scarce and are hunted, then bought and sold at market for their breeding rights, 15-year old Aya has learned how to hide. With a ragtag bunch of other women and girls, she has successfully avoided capture and eked out a nomadic but free existence in the mountains. But when Aya’s luck runs out and she’s caught by a group of businessmen on a hunting expedition, fighting to survive takes on a whole new meaning.


The Glass Arrow is a YA dystopian story. As is usually the case with these kinds of books, the world is somewhat depressing. The society is exaggeratedly patriarchal to the point wherein women are treated as property. They are broodmares to be sold to the highest bidders.

I wouldn’t exactly describe this as an entertaining read. Given the nature of the society, the heroine is in danger for most of the novel, from the moment she gets captured and is being prepared for auction. Her main goal throughout the book is to escape from the city so that she reunite with her family and hide out in the wilderness. And even then there is always the chance that trackers may find her and enslave her again.

With that kind of society, one can only get certain level of freedom. I admire heroine’s fighting spirit. She never gives up. The romance is light, nothing swoon-worthy.

There is some violence here but it wasn’t too disturbing. Instead, I suggest bracing yourself for the harsh and depressing world. One usually has to be in a certain mood for these kinds of stories.

Rating: 3 stars


Mini Reviews for the Hardcore Romances

Occasionally, we like to read the Romances that didn’t cross over. Here are some of the guilty pleasures I’ve read this week.


Act Like It by Lucy Parker

The hero and heroine are stage actors who have to pretend to date each other for publicity. The hero’s image gets cleaned up, and the heroine gets to have some money donated to her charity, which would be a win-win for all. The author’s voice is authentic and fresh. I like the light-hearted banter and how the characters grow on each other. There aren’t any of those “I’m pretending but I’m not and I’m so confused” thoughts that we usually see in these tropes. They are honest from the moment they stop pretending and really begin seeing each other romantically. The hero is a redeemable alpha-asshole.

Rating: 4 stars

Links: Goodreads | Amazon



Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas

Widow falls in love with guy who inherits her dead husband’s estate. There are a lot of parts where the heroine was all, “We can’t because I’m a widow, it’s not proper.” It’s a Lisa Kleypas romance, which means it’s guaranteed to be a good read. I also like how the side character’s stories are set up future books. The ending left me wanting to read the next book because I am very intrigued by the side characters.

Rating: 3 stars

Links: Goodreads | Amazon



Forsaking Gray by K.L. Kreig

A Twitter follower recommended this. It’s very heavy soap opera drama. The heroine left the hero because her father sold her to be the wife of some evil guy. Years later, they meet again and she is an emotional wreck about it and can’t tell him why she left. There is a lot of angst and just the right amount of tension. Since I’m an angst junkie, I couldn’t put the book down and I stayed up until 3 am to finish it. I think the love triangle is unnecessary and the ending feels a bit rushed.  (Book 2 is out today!)

Rating: 4 stars

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Review: Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews

Genre: Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy



Dina DeMille doesn’t run your typical Bed and Breakfast. Her inn defies laws of physics, her fluffy dog is secretly a monster, and the only paying guest is a former Galactic tyrant with a price on her head. But the inn needs guests to thrive, and guests have been scarce, so when an Arbitrator shows up at Dina’s door and asks her to host a peace summit between three warring species, she jumps on the chance.

Unfortunately, for Dina, keeping the peace between Space Vampires, the Hope-Crushing Horde, and the devious Merchants of Baha-char is much easier said than done. On top of keeping her guests from murdering each other, she must find a chef, remodel the inn…and risk everything, even her life, to save the man she might fall in love with. But then it’s all in the day’s work for an Innkeeper…


Sweep in Peace is the 2nd book of the Innkeeper Chronicles by Ilona Andrews. I really like the concept behind this series. It’s like a blend of science fiction and urban fantasy. The heroine is an innkeeper.  But the kind of clients in her inn are mostly non-human, such as aliens, vampires, or creatures from other dimensions. And within the inn, the innkeeper is the biggest boss. It is the innkeeper’s duty to protect the inn’s guests.

The heroine, Dina, lost her parents and brother. Her family mysteriously disappeared and she tried to search the galaxies for them but couldn’t find a trace of them. So her solution to finding them is to set up an inn, make it thrive and hope that one day, one of the inn’s guests will recognize her parents’ portrait and give her a clue on their whereabouts.

George from the Edge series, is all grown up now, and is the Arbiter for an intergalactic war for a planet. They need an inn to host their peace negotiations between the Vampires, the Hope-crushing Horde and the merchants. Dina is the only innkeeper who was willing to take them on. It will be dangerous to have three different warring species all together in the inn. Jack, George’s brother is there too.

I really liked how this book was light and just fun. I loved the humor and how the different side characters we meet are just crazy ridiculous and extreme and funny. One of the inn’s guests is said to be very vicious and an expert with poisons but acts like royalty. She is very proper and well mannered, while anticipating death and violence.  I was also amused with all the fuss for protocol and how one small action can lead to offending the high ranking people. I loved the backstory for each planet’s species. I liked their internal politics. It was a lovely mix of comic and adventure.

I also like how the inn is its own character. It’s alive and sentient. It serves and protects the people living inside the inn. Dina is a good protagonist. We clearly see that aside from her ulterior motives in finding her parents, she also genuinely loves the inn. She takes care of it, feeds it (yes, feed!) and wants it to grow. She also helps the arbiter with the peace summit.

There is not much romance in this book. It just hints on the possible romance that could develop in future books. If you’re familiar with Ilona Andrew’s other work, then you’d know that they are experts on the slow burn, which in my opinion is the best kind of romance. I like it when the characters really get to know each other and warm up, before getting into a relationship.

Overall, I think that this is a good addition to the series. If you aren’t familiar with this series and are looking for a light & fun sci-fi, book 1 can be found here.

Rating: 3 Stars

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Review: The Game Plan by Kristen Callihan

Genre: New Adult, Romance 


A beard-related dare and one hot-as-hell kiss changes everything.

NFL center Ethan Dexter’s focus has always been on playing football and little else. Except when it comes to one particular woman. The lovely Fiona Mackenzie might not care about his fame, but she’s also never looked at him as anything more than one of her brother-in-law’s best friend. That ends now.

Fi doesn’t know what to make of Dex. The bearded, tattooed, mountain of man-muscle looks more like a biker than a football player. Rumor has it he’s a virgin, but she finds that hard to believe. Because from the moment he decides to turn his quiet intensity on her she’s left weak at the knees and aching to see his famous control fully unleashed.

Dex is looking for a forever girl, but they live vastly different lives in separate cities. Fi ought to guard her heart and walk away. But Dex has upped his game and is using all his considerable charm to convince Fi he’s her forever man.

Game On


I really really loved the first book in this series, The Hook Up, so when I heard that there was a new book out, and people were raving about the 3rd book, and saying that they loved it even more than they loved the first book, I was really excited to get my hands on this one. My expectations were very high.

However, let me put it out that I read this book during one of my reading funks. It’s that time when avid readers like me, just don’t feel like reading anything at all. It’s like suddenly losing that crazy book appetite that I usually had, and given all the hype I thought that this was just the book to bring me out of my funk. Sadly, it didn’t resolve my book funk problems, I guess it was too much to ask, but I did enjoy the book.

Ethan Dexter, our NFL star, has always had a crush on his friend’s sister-in-law, Fiona MacKenzie. He’s always admired her from afar but has not made any move to show this. Years after college, Ethan and Fiona happened to be both visiting Ivy and Gray (Characters from Book 2) at the same time. They get re-acquainted with each other and this time, Ethan Dexter is making his move. What follows is a really hot courtship between the two.

Ethan was such a hunky dream-hero. He even gets adorable points for helping to take care of Gray and Ivy’s baby. Fiona, is still finding her way in the world. She is pressured by the successes of her family and wants to be known in her chosen field as well. I really like how Ethan wasn’t really Fiona’s typical type. Since it is a known fact that Ethan is a virgin, he’s the one who doesn’t want to have just a one-night stand. He wants to have a relationship and not just a casual fling. Fiona, is the one who is hesitant, given that they are both based in different places, with different jobs. When Ethan makes himself known to Fiona, his charming ways grow on her and they decide to take the leap.

Being based in different places, the new couple will have to struggle with maintaining a long distance relationship, while still living their chosen lifestyles. I liked how they seemed to understand each other and always make time for each other. There wasn’t any of those “You don’t have enough time me” fights or jealousy misunderstandings that are common in the long distance relationship trope. Here, we find a couple who is just really happy to have the time to see each other and make the most out of that time. Still, life throws some challenges in the way, and it was really nice to see this couple grow into their relationship and support each other all the way.

Definitely a must-read for fans of the series.

Rating: 3 stars

Amazon | Goodreads

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