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Book Review | The Royal Alphas series by J.J. Masters

This series was suggested to me a long time ago and I’ve forgotten by whom, but they certainly knew how much I love reading stories about selkies.

It’s possibly my favorite of all the cryptids and it’s always interesting to see what new spin an author will take with the myth…

The Royal Alphas series follows, you guessed it, five royal alpha brothers as they go about their lives and try to find their true mates (even while their father tries to force things to go his way).

The world building in this series is quite good, from the different kingdoms with their own varied rules for how each caste (gender) is expected to behave and what they are even allowed to do to the way that half-breeds and humans are treated. It’s all quite well written.


In book one we meet Kai and his true mate, Luca.

As the firstborn son of the king, Kai is expected to follow in his father’s footsteps and produce an heir… but his father decrees that his Kai must get his omega pregnant within six months and that his firstborn child must be an alpha.

The story follows the stress and overwhelming worry as Kai and Luca try to get to know each other and as they try to get pregnant, all while Kai’s father has a “back-up” omega in case they fail.


I kind of thought this was a cute-ish book?

Hard-ass Adrian is second in line for the throne, even though he’s first in line for behaving exactly like his father, believing it is his duty to follow the traditions set by the council.

When he meets Del, an omega who hid his status in order to become a guard and serve the king, Adrian begins to question those beliefs… so he can protect his mate.


When Zale decides to warn Finn that he shouldn’t be sleeping with Zale’s younger brother, he finds the omega in the throws of his heat. He isn’t able to say no.

Finn is entirely off limits, as the omega his father brought as back-up for his firstborn and possibly for himself… but something about him has a hold of Zale and doesn’t want to let go.

When Finn becomes pregnant with Zale’s pup, he mourns the fact that he’s taken away the prince’s chance at finding his true mate.

Basically, they are both dense and need a smack up alongside their respective heads. 😛


My favorite of the series.

Book four brings Nic to the forefront, as he falls into bed with Marlin, his former lover’s younger brother… and yeah, things are about as awkward as you think.

Marlin knows his father will make him find his true mate, but he can’t stop thinking about Nic. The human consumes his every thought and he has no idea why.

But Nic has a secret. One he’s been keeping for years and that he is terrified someone will discover.


Definitely a close second for my favorite book in the series, book five FINALLY gives us an omega son! I call bull that every other baby has been an alpha, but what can you do?

After years of infidelity, Caol is finally ready to settle down with his beta Beck, but just as he’s made up his mind, an omega shows up with his son!

The omega, Galen, is Caol’s fated mate and Beck resigns himself to being set aside as the two become mates and start their family… but Caol has other plans in mind, if he can only convince Galen and Beck to go along with him.


Format: eBook
Publisher: J.J. Masters
Source: Amazon Kindle
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon || Goodreads

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Book Review | Buzz by E. Davies

I was suggested The Riley Brothers series by E. Davies by someone who knows I’m a sucker for hockey stories. Surprisingly, the entire 40-hour series was on sale on Audible for just 1 credit! It sounded like a steal and the series had some good reviews, so I went ahead and spent the credit.

Kind of wish I hadn’t.

There isn’t anything particularly wrong with the story or even the narration of it… it just didn’t work for me.

Up and coming hockey player, Cam Riley (one of the brothers), has to give up his dream of joining the big leagues when a medical condition causes him to pass out whenever his heart rate is too high for extended periods of time. He heads home where he meets art director, Noah Clark, and sparks fly.

Even as their relationship grows, Cam chooses not to tell Noah the entire truth about his condition and that he’d been a professional hockey player. But his condition doesn’t let him keep those secrets for long and the truth comes out.

There isn’t much conflict between the two, even with all of the lying, and they resolve things easily. Cam gets his surgery, recovers, and they live happily-ever-after.

Oh, and Noah’s uncle is a beekeeper. Cam ends up working for him, which is where the title Buzz comes from… I thought that was cute.

Like I said earlier, it’s not a bad story, just not for me.


Series: The Riley Brothers, book 1
Format: Audible audio book
Publisher: Audible
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Links: Amazon || Goodreads

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Book Review | Altered Heart by Kate Steele

Altered Heart by Kate Steele was the first book I read for my O.W.L.’s back in April and it was a good one to kick off the book challenge with.

Mick Matranga is basically a supernatural enforcer who hunts down bad guys and gives them their due, whether it be jail time or death. It’s his job and he likes it.

But when the victim of his latest case, one Rio Hardin, turns out to be his mate, Mick isn’t sure what to do.

Widowed for four years after being happily married to the woman of his dreams, Mick doesn’t need the hassle of falling in love and then losing another person he cares about. He chooses to keep Rio at a distance, even while the human-turned-werewolf comes closer and closer to his first shift.

Rio hates that he’s been turned and is terrified of his first real shift. After the psycho-alpha who bit him forced him from shifting into his wolf during his first full moon, all he can think of is the absolute pain he experienced. When Mick tells him that sex can help distract a were from the pain of the shift, he begins to have hope that things won’t be so bad with Mick around.

But Mick is too bull-headed to accept what Rio wants and ends up torturing the both of them when he refuses to open up and accept Rio as his mate.

My favorite thing about Altered Heart was how believable Rio and Mick were as characters. Their decisions made sense; from Rio’s running away from home to Mick’s refusal to start anything serious with Rio, there is a reason for every choice they make. (even if they are stupid decisions, lol)

Altered Heart is a solid 3/5 stars for me. The writing and world building is solid, but it didn’t blow me out of the water. It was good enough that I think I’ll read the sequel Amended Soul if I can get my hands on it.


Format: Paperback
Publisher: Loose ID
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon || Goodreads

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Writing | Mythentario

Their meeting was the kind of slow-coming, unavoidable fate that one reads about in grand stories, but it was one that would shape the path of their combined future irrevocably.


Dylan couldn’t breathe. He was lying on the cold sidewalk outside of his apartment building staring up at the sodden, dark grey clouds hanging low in the sky.

He honestly had no idea how he’d gotten to be in this position.

“Oh, I am sorry!” A lilting voice said.

Dylan looked down, or rather up, at the owner of the voice. The blonde man was perched across his chest, slim wrists bracing him up as his hands pressed into the wet concrete on either side of Dylan’s head.

“Oh…”

Their eyes met and Dylan couldn’t help but fall into those sea foam orbs, his discomfort at being knocked over and soaking wet falling to the wayside as he stared up at the other man.

“Umm, hello there. I think you’re the one I’ve been looking for.”

“One what?” Dylan found himself asking. He was beginning to question why the other man had yet to stand up.

And then he saw it. The tip of a tail peaking over the man’s shoulder, twitching slightly.

‘From nerves?’ He wondered. For all his knowledge of creatures, he had no idea what exactly the tail was supposed to communicate.

“You’re the one who let us go, my brethren and I… don’t you remember?”

And suddenly Dylan did. He remembered the almost suffocating humidity of that jungle night, the way everything went absolutely still, and how his heart seemed to want to leap from his chest at the sight before him.

As a Mythentario, he’d been hired to track and kill a ravenous nest of naga that had recently appeared in the area and begun killing livestock and stealing children.

Or so he’d been told.

What he had found instead was a small group of adolescent naga that had been offering shelter to those who’d been sold into slavery or suffered abuse. Both were crimes that had been ignored by those who held power in the region.

Mythentarios were not just hunters of demons and monsters, they were also keepers of the peace and were tasked with dealing out justice to those who broke the laws of the land.

That justice took the form of fever and boils in the guilty and those who had turned a blind eye. The perpetrators died painful deaths and those guilty of willful ignorance had been left with visible scars to mark their crimes.

Dylan returned home after making sure that the victims would be cared for and then he made the trek back into the jungle to see if he could locate the naga’s nest again but had been unsuccessful. It appeared that they had moved on once the Mythentario had taken care of things.

“I remember.” He said. “But I don’t understand why you’ve been looking for me. You didn’t wait for me to arbitrate for your group and it’s been years since that happened. What could you possibly want from me now?”

Their eyes met again and Dylan could almost feel a bit of the power the naga’s distant cousin, the gorgon, held as the world seemed to slip away.

“Of course I would search for you. You’re my soulmate.”

©2019 S Hostetter

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Two Book Tuesday

So, I started reading Seven Tears at High Tide by C.B. Lee about two weeks ago and had to put it down because I was busy with work and life in general.  My plan is to start back at the beginning instead of picking up where I left off…

Seven Tears at High Tide by C. B. Lee is a young adult fantasy / romance about a teenage boy who wishes for a summer of love, a wish which is granted by a nearby selkie who overhears his heartfelt plea.

Kevin Luong has had his heart broken by the boy-next-door who decided he is no longer gay and doesn’t want to “fool around” with boys anymore. Instead of spending the summer together with Miles, Kevin is suddenly alone and feeling particularly unloved.

On a whim, he sheds seven years into the ocean and makes a wish, asking for just one summer to be happy and in love. He doesn’t really expect his wish to be granted.

What Kevin doesn’t know is that someone hears his wish. Morgan, a selkie boy, happens to be swimming near enough to hear and hope that he will be the one chosen to fulfill the request. His mother, and matriarch of his selkie herd, grants him permission to shed his skin and go ashore to meet Kevin.

So begins a summer of innocent love, with Kevin teaching Morgan how to be both human and to pass as a normal teenage boy.  But, as the boys grow closer, they begin to realize that there is something sinister in the works in their little seaside town.


Semiosis by Sue Burke just flat out sounded like a cool book.  I remember getting an email about it pre-release date and wanting desperately to read it.  I even texted my friend, and local librarian, asking her to purchase it for the library so that I could read it!

This book appears to be right up my alley, with first contact situations, space colonization, and an alien (possibly plant-based) intelligence. With the summary including fun words like “bizarre, inexplicable, and grapple” who wouldn’t want to read this?  😀

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Book Review | Antisocial by Heidi Cullinan

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
~Thomas Merton.

Ultimately, Antisocial by Heidi Cullinan is a story about finding your place in the world, finding a family and friends who love and accept you for who you are, and discovering a love that knows no bounds.

A self-proclaimed fan of happy endings, author Heidi Cullinan doesn’t shy away from putting her characters through the ringer.  Neither man has a good relationship with their parents; Skyler does everything he possibly can just for the chance of hearing his father say he’s proud of his son and Xander ignores his mother’s care packages even while he wishes for her to put him before her new husband and sons.

Xander Fairchild fits the “grumpy, hermit like artist” bill perfectly, but an unexpected meeting with frat boy Skyler Stone changes the course of his life forever.

When hooligans from his fraternity deface a beloved mural, Skyler Stone makes a point of apologizing in person to the artist and asking how the fraternity can make amends.  He is surprised to hear that the artist, one grumpy Xander, isn’t willing to go along with his plans to restore the piece.  A copy will never be as good as the original, he claims.

In an effort to make things right, regardless of if the artist cares or not, Skyler proposes that his senior project be to work with the art department, using his business and networking skills to showcase their talents.

Tasked with creating a successful promotion for Xander’s exhibit, Skyler discovers that the best way to complete his assignment is to befriend the standoffish artist.  Through sheer force of will, he slowly works his way past the walls that Xander has put up and finds, to his surprise, that the other man has wormed his way into Skyler’s heart as well!

Their attraction is a difficult road to walk, as Xander has accepted that he is gay… but Skyler is still trying to convince himself that he can ignore who he is and continue pretending to be what other people want him to be.

I’d like to note that this is the first book I’ve ever read with a grey-sexual character in it and I feel like I came away with a new understanding of people who might identify as grey or ace.  Grey-sexuality being when a person doesn’t normally experience sexual attraction but can, under certain circumstances, feel sexual attraction.

I enjoyed seeing how Xander and Skyler negotiated their wildly different needs (both sexual and otherwise) into their relationship.  Their secret kisses and understanding of each other’s quirks was unbearably sweet.

The inclusion of Japanese culture, both old (Shinto shrines and the Shichifukujin) and new (anime and manga), was integral to Xander and Skyler finding common ground.  Skyler dreams of finding a person who will love him with cherry blossoms and bento boxes and Xander wishes for the chance to become a great mangaka.

It was heartening to see that, in the end, Skyler and Xander were able to find love and happiness and to make their dreams of moving to Japan a reality.

They found family they deserve, both in each other and in friends.  Sometimes, a found family can love you better than blood family ever will.

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Two Book Tuesday

It’s been rather a long while since my last Two Book Tuesday post.  A fact, for which, I am sorry, but I let both work and school distract me from this blog and am now working to remedy that failure.  While I haven’t been posting, I have continued reading and rediscovering the joy of having a book in my hands, turning the pages and wanting to make notes about each new story.  So, let’s get this post started!

The Sky Below

I am currently reading The Sky Below by Stacy D’Erasmo, an interesting piece of literature that follows the life of one Gabriel Collins, who writes obituaries for a “ratty paper in lower Manhattan.”

Honestly, I can’t stand Gabriel.  He is exactly as the author has written him, a drug-dealing thief who manipulates those around him for his own gain.  However, his life story is a pretty compelling one and, as much as I dislike Gabriel, I can’t stop reading.

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As for my second book in this post: Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee is a story I have wanted to read since I came across a review for it in a professional library journal and decided to purchase it for my library’s collection.

It is a super terrific sounding tale of a girl who is trying to find her way in a world full of superpowers, heroes, and villains. Along the way, she gets the chance to be closer to her crush, Abby, takes a job interning for a super villain to spite her superhero parents, and discovers that maybe she has more power than she originally thought.

Seriously, I can hardly wait to start reading this book!  It was ridiculously cool to meet the author at the 2017 Romantic Times Book Convention in Atlanta this year and to have her sign my book.  I can admit to feeling a little awestruck to meet C.B. Lee, she is super sweet and was giving away the best buttons at her signing table!

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Book Review | Unicorn Tracks by Julia Ember

I really enjoyed Unicorn Tracks by Julia Ember.  It seamlessly combines elements of our world with the fantastical to create a place full of excitement and wonder.

Both of the main characters are interesting and well rounded. I found myself rooting for Mnemba from the first and was desperate to learn more about her life before becoming a guide for her cousin’s business.  Kara took a little longer to warm up to, but I enjoyed how independent and curious she was… even with the mermaids, lol.

Unicorn Tracks doesn’t shy away from the topic of rape or the aftermath of it.  While Mnemba’s attacker was punished for his crimes against her, she still ended up leaving her home because of the judgement and expectations of those who would claim he was a good man and this was a one-time incident.  It was an especially heartwarming moment when her father said that he would kill Mnemba’s attacker if ever he were set free.

Her relationship with Kara was slow going, as they figured out how to work past the trauma of the past, but it was all the sweeter when they were finally able to connect.  At the end of the story, Mnemba isn’t “over” what happened to her, but she is able to keep moving forward with the support of her lover, friends, and family.  ❤

I would suggest this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy, adventure, or alternate histories.  It’s a quick read, but a darned good one!

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Book Review | George by Alex Gino

Written by Alex Gino, George is the story of a child who is struggling in a world that doesn’t see her for who she is.  All they can see is a boy when George knows in every part of her that she is a girl.

Early on, we learn that George’s greatest wish this school year is to play Charlotte in the fourth grade production of E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web.  She struggles against a teacher who believes that George’s audition is a joke, a classmate who is vicious and cruel, and a mother who doesn’t know what to do with a son who says he is a girl.

Throughout the story, George finds strength and encouragement in her best friend Kelly.  The daughter of a musician, Kelly takes the revelation that George is a girl quite well.  She still needs some time to think things through, but is ultimately both accepting and supportive of her friend going so far as to allow George to wear some of her clothes on a trip to the zoo and calling her Melissa, as George has requested.

Ultimately, George is able to take on the role of Charlotte, a performance that is surprisingly well-accepted by her peers and most of the school faculty.  A blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment is when the Principal quietly lets George know that her door is always open if George should need someone to speak to.  Support like that is hard to find in the cis world and is nigh impossible to come across in the trans world.

While I could feel my heart breaking from the first moment that George has to hide in the bathroom with her girl magazines and the way she is subtly disgusted with her own body, this story has a happy ending that will leave readers with a sense of hope in the future.

One of the things I liked most about this story is that it is told from George’s point of view and George never once sees herself as a boy.  From the beginning of the book all the way to the last page, George is a girl.  Readers immediately understand that this is a girl who just happens to be in the body of a boy and, hopefully, will encourage tolerance and understanding in those who read this story.

This is a fairly short book, easy to read through in one sitting, and is perfectly relatable to the audience it was written for…  It is of note that George is the first book of its type to be written for middle grade readers.  It was an enjoyable read for me, as an adult, and was a great way to read about a child transgender character.  The author has written an amazing book that will appeal to reader’s of all ages, but one that is also accessible to children and that presents the transgender topic in a way that is easy to understand.

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Book Review | A Tale of Two Daddies by Vanita Oelschlager

One of my favorite things about A Tale of Two Daddies were the illustrations…  Many of the playground pieces that the children use throughout the story are things that I used when I was a kid and which I remember quite fondly.

After watching the short film Credence (you can read my review by clicking HERE), this title felt like the perfect addition.

Told through a daughter’s voice and explained as only a child can, this story is not about gay couples, it is about family and this family is a happy one. At the end of the day, what more can a family ask for?

The simple way that the little girl explains to her friend what each of her daddies do is both sweet and undeniably real. It was nice to see that both Poppa and Daddy had individual things that they were able to provide to their daughter and then there were things that they were both good at.  🙂

All in all, a cute story about family and friends. This picture book would be a wonderful addition to any library collection.

A copy of this title was provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.