Erotica, LGBT, Mystery/Thriller, New Adult, New Adult Romance

My Review: Cannon (Brothers of Hawthorne Hall #2): by Leila James

Publish Date: November 21st, 2022
Number of Pages: 448 Pages
Publisher: Kindle Edition
Genre(s): Erotica, Reverse Harem, New Adult Romance, Mystery/Thriller, LGBT+

**Warning! This Review contains spoilers to the previous book in this trilogy, so continue reading at your own risk! You’ve officially been warned!**

To see my review of book #1 – Kingston – Click HERE

Total Star Rating: 4.25 Stars

Our girl is a fucking diamond – beautiful to look at, but impossible to crush.

– Leila James, “Kingston”

~~~

What It’s About:

The official synopsis:

A Dark College Bully Romance

Shattered trust, twisted games, and ugly truths …

A female initiate is unheard of at Hawthorne Hall, but after forcing the brotherhood’s hand, they had no choice but to let me stay. My plan should have been simple: Find out what happened to my cousin and best friend in the world, Will.

But nothing is as it seems.

This brotherhood is steeped in tradition and built on loyalty, but the deeper I dig, the more I see fissures in their supposedly tight-knit group. And with the evidence I’ve found, every move I make seems more dangerous than the last. I no longer know who to trust.

Cannon.
Archer.
Kingston.

I don’t want to believe they’re guilty or that they could have harmed Will. But there’s only one way to find out—immerse myself in their world and keep my mouth shut. And hope they don’t break my heart along the way.

The games continue … but who is being played?

~~~

Book two, here we go!!

There’s not a whole lot to honestly add besides what I liked and disliked about this book if I’m being completely honest. There are definitely some new things to add though that I definitely found to be a highlight, so I’ll add that this book for sure improves from book 1!

You continue off literally right where the previous book left off: Elliott is in bed with Kingston after they had some incredibly hot sex and also grew closer by opening up to each other too, but she finds her missing best friend/cousin’s cell phone in his bedside table!

Duh Duh DUN!!!

Suddenly the trust she’d been building with Archer, Kingston, and Cannon is instantly shattered and she’s back to square one.

Who can she trust?

What do they know?

Where is Will now?

Do they know who she is?

Questions are popping up left and right, kind of like the dicks in this reverse harem/why choose story. but one thing that I’m entirely certain about is the spice definitely increases! it gets hotter, more intense, and oh yeah…there’s more, but you definitely have to read more to find out for yourself!

~~~

What I Liked:

  1. The Spice Gets HOTTER & HOTTER! The Spice does not let up in this second installment despite how book 1 ended! THANK GOD!
  2. MM ROMANCE! I won’t spoil who it involves, but I will say that I LOVE the addition of some hot male-on-male action going down as the plot thickens. I kind of wasn’t expecting it to be who it ended up being, well at least for one of the characters, but it was an addition to the story that I was all for!
  3. The Three Guys Had More Character Development! This time around the three guys Archer, Kingston, and Cannon had some development tossed their way, and they’ve became much more three dimensional and more dynamic. You start to see more of their personalities now that you’ve become familiar with them, and while some of them you’ll still like more than others, a lot more starts to make sense around them all the same too!

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. Elliott Continues To Be a Damsel…I mean, I guess this sort of makes sense since she’s digging around for clues and answers to something that is obviously being covered up, but it’s getting repetitive by this point that she gets herself into trouble, then has to rely on her men to help her get out of it. At least after it usually leads to spice, but again…it’s getting repetitive
  2. Another Hall Getting Attention?…There was a LOT of emphasis on a rival fraternity/hall in this book with a masquerade auction event, like way more emphasis than I honestly cared for. It ended up the head of that house had some history with Kingston and the situation with his dead sister…so I could see this becoming a bigger subplot into the next book, or even a spinoff sort of thing, and part of me wonders if I even care?…
  3. I Still Think There’s Not Enough Emphasis On The Mystery…I’m still wishing there was more to the mystery, like more surprising twists and reveals and an intricate plot that reveals way more is going on than we believed, but instead we get more instances of Elliott getting into trouble and needing Archer, Cannon, or Kingston to save her. At least the spice is abundant!
  4. ….SPUNK BUNKERS?!?!…Absolutely the worst way to describe testicles I’ve ever heard. NEVER AGAIN

~~~

Conclusion:

Overall, a better sequel than what book 1 had to offer, but I feel like these books are still just missing that extra something to make them absolutely spectacular! that extra ooomph to really set it apart and make it better than it already is!

They’re not bad books by any means, in fact, I’d say they’re like an addictive, sexy binge-worthy Riverdale, Elite, Euphoria-esque show you can’t help but get sucked into! I’ve enjoyed reading these tremendously; just because I have a few personal critiques doesn’t mean I didn’t like it! I’ll definitely be reading the third and final book to see what could possibly happen next!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Erotica, Mystery/Thriller, New Adult, New Adult Romance

My review: Kingston (Brothers of Hawthorne Hall #1): by Leila James

Publish Date: October 3rd, 2022
Number of Pages: 468 Pages
Publisher: Kindle
Genre(s): Erotica, Reverse Harem, New Adult Romance, Mystery & Thriller

Total Star Rating: 3.75 Stars

What It’s About:

The Official Blurb:

Three men, two choices, and one secret …

A year ago, my best friend received an exclusive invitation to join an elite brotherhood at Kingston University. He went into Hawthorne Hall for his initiation … but never came out.

I intend to find out why.

The brotherhood would never knowingly invite a female into their ranks. So what if I forged my father’s signature on the recommendation? With a name like Elliot Ashford, they’ll never see me coming.

I’ll endure whatever hell these brutal brothers put me through because I have no intention of backing down or bowing out gracefully. It won’t be pretty. I’ve heard the rumors, especially about the three men in control of the brotherhood.

Kingston.
Cannon.
Archer.

I’m going in with one mission—find out what happened to Will. But the moment I set foot in this house, I have a feeling all my plans will go up in flames.

Welcome to Hawthorne Hall! Let the games begin …

***********************************************************************************

Kingston is a 94,000+ word novel, the first in a trilogy, centering around three men and one woman. It’s kind of like a sandwich—a quadruple decker with extra spice. There is a possibility that sandwich toppings will touch, if that makes sense.

WARNING: This trilogy contains dark elements, graphic content, and situations that some readers may be particularly sensitive to. If you have triggers or are even remotely unsure, please check my website, which you can access through my author page, for a full list.

~~~

This was a book that was highly recommended to me by one of my #bookstagram besties named Em because she knows I’m always game for any book that has some decent spice in it! When she started telling me the premise of these books, I will say I was immediately interested: a reverse harem, college, mystery thriller?? Ummmm LOVE that journey for me! Sign me up, and I couldn’t put these books on my kindle fast enough!

Now after reading the first book, what I can say is it’s definitely an entertaining, fast read with some really decent spice and just a dash of mystery. It definitely kept my attention, but it also could’ve been better in some regards. BUT I also didn’t care enough for certain things in the story to be better either because honestly, I just in it mainly for the spice, which definitely meets if not exceeds expectations, so that’s where most of the praise will go!

This story is about Elliot, who manages to sneak her way into Hawthorne house in order to solve the mystery of the disappearance of her best friend/cousin named Will. There’s absolutely no word as to what happened =, and everyone acts like it didn’t even happen, so she’s going on the inside in order to get her own answers. While she’s infiltrating the brotherhood as a newly incoming freshman, its there she meets the three enigmatic boys that throw everything off kilter for her: Kingston, Archer, and Cannon. Can she trust them? What do they know? And will she survive the initiation process before she’s considered a “brother?”

For the most part, I really did enjoy this book thanks to the characters! Elliot is your very typical spunky, sassy heroine who has a sharp tongue and isn’t afraid to mouth off to the alphaholes that practically infest that house that she must now call home. The boys in the Hawthorne house definitely don’t start off as very likeable, especially Kingston, who’s the frat president and a majorly bipolar a-hole through most of the book, but he’s also a HOT a-hole so it’s complicated….at leas the hate sex is hot? I like Archer the most right off the bat, but he also has camera’s set up throughout the whole house that includes people’s bedrooms, so I find that a bit creepy…and then there’s Cannon. Mr. Tall, stoic, and hot as hell, but hardly says a word. Like, his main way of communicating is text message even when he’s sitting right next to the person…it’s a little strange, but I’m sure there’s a story to it somewhere down the road…

What I Liked:

  1. The Spice! There are some HOT moments in this book, and it’s only the first one in a whole trilogy! It makes me wonder what else is in store for later down the road! I will of course be keeping reading on to find out.
  2. The Main Characters! Elliot and her boys definitely grew on me and made me keep interested to see what happened next, plus their group dynamic did add for some of the spicy scenes that I enjoyed too! Will things like that majorly change? Will she form alliances with one over the others? Turn them against each other with her vagina? Will the guys’ friendship shift with sharing? Who knows! I stand by what I said earlier, Archer is my favorite so far! BUT Kingston grew a lot on me as we got to know more about him too.

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. Too Many Names to Remember…I had a hard time right at the beginning with the literal train of men who answered the door when Elliot first showed up at Hawthorne House. Too many names all at once and throughout the book I still had trouble differentiating between some of the other frat boys, but that could also be because the author doesn’t really do much to make them stand apart from each other too much either…
  2. Not Enough Mystery… Not gonna lie, I was disappointed how it felt like the mystery took a back seat through quite a bit of the story. Sure, there was plenty of spicy scenes which I’m not complaining about, but more the several initiation scenes. I just wish the mystery and sneaking around to get answers was played up more, or a trail of clues or something!
  3. The Insta-Love…This seems to always be a thing with RH’s, but at least one of the guys is always a lovesick puppy when he first lands his eyes on the girl, and its no different here.

Conclusion:

Overall, it’s a pretty good but not great RH read. I like that it’s a college, mystery thriller one too because I honestly haven’t read too many of those! I also haven’t read the Inheritance Games Trilogy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, but I’d imagine I’d like them more if they had a similar vibe to these books with the spice and less YA story features. Actually side note, but there are a LOT of YA books I look at nowadays and am like, “This story would be so much better if it had spice!”

I’ll definitely continue to read theses books; the author gives you a satisfying amount but also leaves you wanting more, and there’s a pretty decent cliffhanger of an ending that really adds to the mystery surrounding the main plot, so it definitely keeps my interest! Plus helloooo, more spice!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Horror, Mystery/Thriller

My Review: A Time for Violence: Stories with an Edge: Edited by Andy Rausch and Chris Roy

*Kindle Edition*
Publish Date: May 1st, 2019
Number of Pages: 268 Pages
Publisher: Too Close to the Bone
Genre(s): Mystery/Thriller, Horror, Crime

Total Star Rating: 3.25 Stars

Whether we like it or not, violence has always been a part of our society; we as humans can’t help but resort to it. The reasoning behind why can be incredibly varied: to save your family, to simply steal money, an act of love, or bitter burning of revenge. There’s probably countless other reasons as to what could possibly motivate us to turn towards our more unpredictable and darker side, but this is a collection of short stories that call that notion into question in an interesting array.

While it mostly stays within the mystery/thriller genre, there are some additions of stories of war and even the supernatural/paranormal and horror genres in order to keep the mix more lively and interesting. Theres also a mix of characters that many others wouldn’t see anything they’d possibly have in common except for, obviously, them giving into their brutal and maniacal urges to hurt, to maim, to kill, and to get away with it unscathed.

I will say it quite a bit in this review, but I don’t normally turn towards short stories or compilations of them, and I will get into that later on, but when someone reaches out to ask you to look through it and give an honest review, how can you say no? Crime stories are fun for their lack of predictability, their edge, and especially when there might be an interesting social commentary to linger in your head and overtake your thoughts after you’ve closed the pages. It does, however, leave a lack of character development and usually resorts to using cliché characters in general. They’re not bad stories, and it’s obvious that the authors that contributed to this work all know their craft on a highly experienced level.

I was not familiar with any of the works of any of the authors included in this anthology, but I wanted to switch it up and keep it that way: I didn’t do any prerequisite research on the book itself or any of the writers, and I stayed off Goodreads to see what others wrote; the only thing I did was adding the title to my “To Read” shelf. Sometimes, it’s fun to do that sort of thing where you don’t rely so much on other’s ratings and decide to give it a shot in the dark. I admit, I do that a whole lot now, but with how many titles are out there, how can you not? I’ve got to get picky.

Anyways back to the actual review…

What It’s About:

It’s hard to do this section based off the fact that it’s a collection of short stories. That, plus the fact I don’t want to give too much away, all I can say is they’re all violent stories combined together for a crime/horror themed collection. The more noteworthy stories, at least in my honest opinion, to include are the following in no particular:

  1. Blood Brothers: by Richard Chizmar
  2. Guest Services: A Quarry Story: by Max Allan Collins
  3. Santa at the Café: by Joe Lansdale
  4. Scab: by Wrath James White
  5. The Sweetest Ass in the Ozark: by Andy Rausch
  6. Waste Management: by Chris Roy

What I Liked:

  1. The Variety! There are quite a lot of different style of stories to be told that are all included; I’d say that there’s got to be something that just about anyone could find within that they’d really enjoy! My personal favorites among the many short stories was a story about a 5-person domino-effect crime story by Joe R. Lansdale involving a guy dressed up as Santa Clause, and an African-American man who considers himself a human scab by Wrath James White. Personally, it reminded me a bit of Jordan Peele’s horror flicks, Get Out and Us: African American-centered horror, and with a slight social commentary aspect to add on top.
  2. The Dark Humor! Along with all the murder and thrills as sharp as a knife, there is some humor alongside to (maybe) soften the blow. A lot of it is considered pretty dark humor, which isn’t for everyone. It takes a certain person to not only get some of it, but to also enjoy it.
  3. The Character Studies! This kind of goes with the variety factor I mentioned above, but I felt like there’s a bit of a question of character and their moral compass that plays with you too as you read the stories. You want to think your an upstanding member of society, not wanting to weave away from what the social norm is and that criminal activity is pretty black and white. Some characters are family men, but others are mobsters, criminals or Police Officers. An example where it’s questioned is actually the very first story: Blood Brothers by Richard Chizmar. Without giving up too much information, it presents the timeless questions like: How far are you willing to go to protect your family? What are you willing to sacrifice? It even brings up a good question of if killing for the best of everyone you love is really all that much of a crime?

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. It Was Hard to Connect to the Stories…It’s hard to really get into a collection of short stories, because as soon as you feel like you really connect with the story or maybe even the characters; it’s over before you know it, shut off abruptly. I guess you could say I prefer one long story where you can develop a deeper connection with the characters and grow along with them within the story as they develop. That’s very difficult or near impossible to do with stories like these.
  2. A Hierarchy of Interest…Some stories are just a whole lot better than others, plain and simple, straight to the point (no pun intended). I wouldn’t say some are awfully written though; I’d say it’s more that I just didn’t connect to them. Some were also pretty predictable compared to others, which probably didn’t help. I would say out of the 28 stories included, only a small select few really grabbed my attention, which is a major bummer.

Conclusion:

A fun, diverse set of crime/horror-genre short stories that are perfect for those who like that sort of thing! they’re gritty, their humorous, and they’re not something I normally go for when it comes to picking out something to read, but I still had some fun nonetheless. I find it difficult to get into a collection of short stories because of the disconnect with getting into the story and its characters, but maybe its something fun to read on your kindle or nook device when trying to kill time before a doctor’s appointment or on your lunch break at work!

I also would like to add that I received a free version of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Thanks For Reading!

— Nick Goodsell