Series Review: Juniper Unraveling & Calico Descending by Keri Lake

Posted 04/11/2019 by Isabelle MBTL in review / 0 Comments

I received this book for free from ARC by the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Series Review: Juniper Unraveling & Calico Descending by Keri LakeJuniper Unraveling by Keri Lake
Series: Juniper Unraveling #1
Published by Keri Lake on October 31, 2017
Cover Design: Okay Creations
Format: Digital, Paperback
Genres: Dark Romance, Dystopian, Futuristic, Post-Apocalyptic, Sci Fi Romance
Pages: 464
Buy on AmazonBuy on KoboBuy on Indie Bound
Goodreads
five-stars
Series Rating: five-stars
four-half-flames

Papa says everyone has a story that deserves to be told.

Most begin years ago, after the second bomb hit, unearthing a deadly contagion that divided the population into the pure, the infected, and the Ragers.

Many recount the moment we rose up from the ashes and started anew.

Others tell of the day we built a wall to keep them out.

For some, they’re nothing more than the vestiges left behind—a simple name carved into the knotty bark of a Juniper tree.

My story begins with a boy. A mute, from the other side of the wall, known only as Six, who touched my heart in ways that words never could, and gave me the courage to face my darkest truth.

Warning: This book contains explicit sexual content, and violent scenes that some readers may find disturbing. (less)

Juniper Unraveling #1

Juniper Unraveling

Dark Sci Fi Romance, Dystopian, Futuristic, Post-Apocalyptic

First Person, female-POV, dual-time (past and present)

This is a standalone that becomes the prequel of a series in the same world built.

Addictiveness: 5/5  This was a thriller. From the first page until the end I couldn’t put my kindle down. A very long book, that I couldn’t let go. As addictive as chocolate!!!

Character: hero 5/5, heroine 5/5, secondary characters 5/5, growth 5/5, real 5/5 Complex characters with several layers and depth. They were all easy to love and connect, even though sometimes hard to understand. (I will try to avoid all spoilers)

Dani was 14 years old when her family was killed and she went to Calico disguised as a boy, because they didn’t take girls/women.

Women are hunted from all angles-killed by Legion, sold by marauders, or dragged by Ragers to their nests, where they attempt to mate them.

by Wren

At Calico, she got Dr. Falkenrath’s protection and became his personal assistant. He kept her secret but others found out she was a girl and used that. She learned how to survive in that unfair world of pain, segregation and death. Dani was a warrior, a fighter, a kickass heroine.

“Indifference to death isn’t going to help you hear. Learn to be indifferent to pain, and you’ll become invincible. Defiant.”
“Inhuman. No one is invincible.”
by Dr. Falkenrath and Dani

Wren was the daughter of a doctor and lived inside the walls in what considered a luxurious life for this dystopian world.

Inside the walls, where I live, water is merely a perk of living in Szolen Farms. That’s what we call our little community, made up of about two thousand, give or take. It’s named after the founder, ironically, the son of what was once a billionaire oil tycoon before The Dredge hit. His father, apparently, disowned him for investing in the self-sustaining project.

Now it’s an oasis to the hellish world beyond the wall.

by Wren

Wren was 18 years old when she found out what existed beyond the walls. She met Six and fell in love. But love in a world like that was almost a myth, a wishful thinking, a passing thought. Wren was a naive little girl, but life taught her a lesson. Several years later, she became a kickass heroine and after her father’s death, became a lonely woman in a savage world. She left “the safety”of the walls searching for a better place, maybe even an Utopia.

“Safety is an illusion, remember?”

“Yes, you are right. But survival is a reality.”

By Wren and her Papa

She found a harsh, cruel world, but she also found hope in the form of love.

Because I’m sick. And so is he. We’re the perfect, twisted match, destined for pain like a sad tragedy.

by Wren

Six was a worthy hero. A boy, mute, an experiment of Calico. He has only known pain, hate, rage, death. Not even in his dreams could he make up an angel like Wren. When she found him, she became his life. He became a loyal protector, even though he didn’t really know how to control “his monster”. Life had not been fair to him, in a world like theirs there was nothing as equality or fairness.

Rhys was a scary, crazy hero. In his insane, mad way, he was fighting power and getting revenge for the peasant.Better yet, Rhys was giving a second chance, a role for women. Yes, he was cruel, violent, really a byproduct of the time, but he had a weakness, that may have been his strength. He met Wren and found a different purpose, or a proper purpose for his fight.

But to me, you’ve always been more than that. The air when I couldn’t breathe. My voice when I couldn’t speak. When I couldn’t feel anything anymore, I felt you. Goddamn, Wren, you were my heart, pumping life into a body that was mostly dead. You were everything to me. You are everything.

by Rhys

This world was so rich that there were several important secondary characters. Dr Falkenrath, Papa, Rhys sister-in-law are just some examples.

Villains.. antagonists… in a world as dark, as painfully and as deadly as this, everyone could be a friend or a foe, it really depends of the moment, the necessity. The were some clear villains and a couple of good antagonists.

All characters were complex and very well written!!!

Cover: art 5/5, title 5/5, color-font 5/5, buy 5/5  I’m obsessed with book covers. I love to find snippets of the stories within the art. This one is gorgeous and perfect for the book. It is easy to see that this art was specifically made for this book. This is a very important scene of the book. Dani, under the Juniper tree. I love the title and the subtitle is awesome and gives another piece of this story. The colors and font chosen also worked really well. I would definitely buy this book by its cover without needing to read the blurb!!!

Freshness: 5/5 This book is UNIQUE! One-of-a-kind. Everything here is creative, original and it feels fresh.  As fresh as cold water in the middle of the desert!!!

Plot: believable 5/5, conflict 5/5, dialogue 5/5, ending 5/5, enjoyment 5/5, opening 5/5, pace 5/5, setting 5/5, subplots 5/5, twists 5/5  Thrilling opening for an amazing ending. Believable plot, even though crazy for a dystopian world, well written dialogues and interesting subplots. Very long novel, but the pace was perfect, this is a different world and they had lot to tell to create this perfect setting. This was filled with twists and turns that exploded with the greatest conflict. Highest level of enjoyment!

I loved this story. The author gave us something dark, gritty, unimaginable, but it all worked and felt real. This was everyone’s nightmare, at the same time, where are we heading in this world that everybody easily hates, but has a hard time loving; everyone is ready to shame and throw shade, but doesn’t know how to thank and compliment.

I adored how in the midst of darkness, pain, hunger, death, we could find hope and love. I, as a reader, like a good HEA. I may enjoy the dark stories, lately they’ve been my favorites, but at the end of the day I love to believe that everything is gonna be alright, paraphrasing Bob Marley.

Romance: believable 5/5, chemistry 5/5, description 5/5, development 5/5, steam 5/5  This wasn’t beautiful or really romantic. It was filled with grunts, bruises and tough love, so not really pretty, but very poetic. To find beauty and excitement in midst of chaos and anarchy you have to be strong and powerful. This couple was. Their chemistry was undeniable and even in the center of things they found each other and ways to held on to the good. The smut was hot and dangerous, the type that I love. lol Indestructible love!!!

Writing Style: 5/5 I’m in awe!!! The author was so creative, conceiving the perfect world, inventing characters with depth and humanity in midst of a barbaric world filled with heartless people. The romance was fabricated beautifully and forged out of angst and hope. The smut was hot and sexy. The writing was cohesive, clean and without loopholes. Writing of a wordsmith!!!

I’ve missed the male POV. Yeah, a few years ago, most books were written in their person with only one-POV. I have definitely become spoiled, but I considered myself a character, reader, I like connecting and feeling along with characters. Seeing inside their heads only amplify these cathartic feelings.

I don’t really know what I was expecting, but I can easily say that this book was better than anything I had fabricated on my mind.

I’ve loved, I’ve cried, I’ve raged and I’ve found harmony while reading this. I felt despair and I’ve became hopeful. I was able to envision what ifs and why’s.

This was a thriller, in a way, a psychological thriller!

35/35 STARS –  5 STARS (between 33.5 stars and 35 stars)

Addictiveness: 5 Character: 5 Cover: 5 Freshness: 5 Plot: 5 Romance: 5 Writing Style: 5

Action 5/5 Angst 5/5 Darkness 5/5 Humor 0/5 Romance 5/5 Suspense/Mystery 4/5

Would I recommend? Definitely! But is not for everyone. You must be ready for darkness and angst.

Would I re-read this book/series? Definitely!

Would I read more from the author? I will definitely stalk her and see what other books she has!!!

You MAY read this because you follow the author; you SHOULD read this because you like dark romances; you MUST read this to become aware!!!!

Juniper Unraveling #2

Calico Descending

I received this book for free from ARC by the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Series Review: Juniper Unraveling & Calico Descending by Keri LakeCalico Descending by Keri Lake
Series: Juniper Unraveling #2
Published by Keri Lake on October 29, 2019
Cover Design: Okay Creations
Format: Digital, Paperback
Genres: Dark Romance, Dystopian, Futuristic, Post-Apocalyptic, Sci Fi Romance
Pages: 300
Source: ARC by the author
Buy on AmazonBuy on Barnes & NobleBuy on IBooksBuy on Kobo Buy on Amazon UK Buy on Amazon AUBuy on Amazon CA
Goodreads
four-half-stars
Series Rating: five-stars
four-half-flames

I was fourteen when I was sold to the men in black uniforms. Too young to understand I served a purpose beyond that of the other girls they’d taken.

For the greater good.

Now, after four years in Calico, I’ve seen more death and suffering than during my days of surviving out in the Deadlands against the threat of Ragers and famine. I didn’t think this world could get any bleaker. Didn’t think it could take any more from me than it already had.

Not until I finally learned my purpose.

That same day, I walked the dark halls in the bowels of this hell, where the suffering is in silence, and ghosts of the dead whisper through the walls. A place where nightmares are real.
A place where I met my Champion—the most revered Alpha in S-Block—locked away in his dark cell.

For the greater good.

He’s their weapon, their only line of defense against the mistakes of the past: the mutations that could wipe out all of what’s left of us.
Me, I’m his whipping girl. His reward for good behavior.
And his punishment for acts of defiance.


Dark Sci Fi Romance, Dystopian, Futuristic, Post-Apocalyptic

First Person, female-POV

This is book #2 of the Juniper Unraveling series, happening at the same time, in the same setting of the first book. This story ends in a huge cliffhanger.

Addictiveness: 5/5  Like the first book, this is a thriller that grabbed me from the first page and it kept me on the edge of my seat until the end. It was not an easy read, due to it being dark, filled with angst and cruelty. As addictive as chocolate!!!

Character: hero 5/5, heroine 5/5, secondary characters 5/5, growth 5/5, real 5/5 Multidimensional characters with depth and amazing backstories. They were easy to love, connect and understand.

Calithea was another wonderful character. Ms. Lake really knows how to write kickass, empowering heroines. Like Dani, Cali was taken to Calico when she was 14 years old. Differently than what happened to Dani, by the time Cali was taken they are already keeping women at Calico that served several different purposes. Cali has been reserved to mate with a Champion, the powerful man-weapon that was strong enough to scare Ragers, fight marauders and anything else needed. Because of her important role, she was kept well, with privileges, untouched for her Champion. When she turned 18 years old, she was ready to be given to her Champion as a gift, but if he didn’t behave, she would also be a punishment. Nothing she has learned during her four years of tests, exams and preparation prepared her for reality.

It was a process becoming acquainted with her Champion, it took time, courage and will for her to do it, but after a while she found in him her salvation. In a place where all you know is pain, hunger, darkness, fear, to find… to find attraction, likeness, love… is beyond anything she could ever dream.

At the same time meeting Valdys was an unexpected gift, she saved him from becoming a monster. Calithea’s humanity, warmth, strength gave him an anchor in reality and something to look forward to. Cali was extraordinary. She never gave up and always tried her best. She was able to keep having empathy for others, even after meeting the worst of humanity. She not only wanted a better future for herself, but for everybody that have been forced into that shameful life.

Valdys was a great hero. After everything he went through to be able to be sweet, loving and caring was exceptional. His protective nature was part of him, even before experiments and becoming a monster for Calico. He was very strong and able to keep his rationality even though Calico tried to turn him into an irrational animal. He was a good friend to Titus and after getting Cali, he was the best boyfriend possible.

Champions like Valdys, were there to fight, protect and procreate. They were built into the perfect machine and also they carry the hope of the scientists at Calico.

So many important secondary characters here. I will name the two most important, Titus and Cadmus there other two Champions. They probably will get a book of their own, because the also deserve to tell their stories. Besides them there were others like Roys, Kenny, Neela and Cali’s sister.

Villains.. antagonists… like in the first book, it is hard to say who is friend or who is foe in this dark world of pain, cruelty and “save yourself, because no one else will”. But they are mostly the same villains from the first book, with a few different antagonists.

In a really screw up way, specially if you had read the first book and know their backstory, all characters were easy to love, connect and understand!!!

Cover: art 5/5, title 5/5, color-font 5/5, buy 5/5  I’m obsessed with book covers. I love to find snippets of the stories within the art. I love the art for this series we can see they have been taught out specifically for these stories. They are usually an important moment or scene from the book. We can see Cali on the cover, under the lake, with a sad, sort of painful look on her face. It totally gives the tone of the book. I also love the title, the subtitle and color/font used. I would definitely buy this book by its cover without needing to read the blurb!!!

Freshness: 5/5 This book is UNIQUE! Everything in this book feels original and fresh. The way the author explored pain, disease and the making of a family was uncommon.  As fresh as cold water in the middle of the desert!!!

Plot: believable 5/5, conflict 5/5, dialogue 5/5, ending 3/5, enjoyment 5/5, opening 5/5, pace 5/5, setting 5/5, subplots 3/5, twists 5/5  Electrifying opening with a big cliffhanger at the end. Believable plot, even though a bit convoluted, well written dialogues and sometimes confusing subplots. Long novel with perfect pace and a very well conceived setting. Several plot twists with a major conflict. High level of enjoyment!

This book was shorter than the first, but the plot was a bit more complicated. I mean, the story of the Champions and how they got them a mate was confusing at times. Also, even though I know is usually necessary, I don’t have to like cliffhangers lol.

Romance: believable 5/5, chemistry 5/5, description 5/5, development 5/5, steam 3/5  The romance was hot and sweet at the same time. Their chemistry was undeniable and they had been made for each other. They even had a bit of competition. The smut was HOT HOT HOT and the love was easy to feel. Enduring Love!!!

Writing Style: 4.5/5 The writing once again was fascinating with marvelous characters, stunning plot, wonderful romance and awesome smut. There are several things that need to be answered still and a huge cliffhanger. Crafty writing!!!!

I will say again, I wish I had at least a couple of chapters with the male-POV, I would to know him as well as I know Calithea.

Also I think the subplots and the whole 3 champions, 1 mate thing was a bit confusing. I’m certain it all will make sense after the next book and I cannot wait to read it.

This series is an ONE-OF-A-KIND experience. It is different and original and it felt like nothing I have read before.

I love all the characters and I hate all the villains lol. I cry for and with them, I feel like punching some people and I hurt for them. I’m at times an emotional wreck while reading it and others I’m a very happy cat. 🙂


Can’t wait for the next book!!!

33/35 STARS –  4.5 STARS (between 31.5 stars and 33stars)

Addictiveness: 5 Character: 5 Cover: 5 Freshness: 5 Plot: 4 Romance: 4.5 Writing Style: 4.5

Action 5/5 Angst 5/5 Darkness 5/5 Humor 0/5 Romance 5/5 Suspense/Mystery 4/5

Would I recommend? Definitely, but not for everyone. This is dark and sometimes it feels hopeless.

Would I re-read this book/series? Yes!

Would I read more from the author? I will definitely stalk her and see what other books she has!!!

You MAY read this because you’ve read the first book; you SHOULD read this because you like sci fi romance; you MUST read this because it breaks, but it mends!

five-stars

About Keri Lake

Keri Lake is a dark romance writer who specializes in demon wrangling, vengeance dealing and wicked twists. Her stories are gritty, with antiheroes that walk the line of good and bad, and feisty heroines who bring them to their knees.  When not penning books, she enjoys spending time with her husband, daughters, and their rebellious Labrador (who doesn’t retrieve a damn thing).  She runs on strong coffee and alternative music, loves a good red wine, and has a slight addiction to dark chocolate.