Wednesday, June 29, 2022

#Review - Blood of a Phoenix (Nix #2) by Shannon Mayer #Fantasy

Series: The Nix Series # 2
Format: Kindle, 352 pages
Release Date: September 2nd 2017
Publisher: Hijinks Ink Publishing
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Genre: Urban Fantasy

I thought that going after those who’d destroyed my life would help me move on. At the very least, that it would ease the thirst for vengeance singing in my blood. I was wrong.

With my guns at my side, I continue to search for ways to punish the one man who took everything from me. The man who killed my family. Death is far too good for him.

I want to make him suffer, to take from him everything he loves.

To that end, I need a code breaker, one who deals in magical glyphs. But in the hunt for her, I discover there are far more secrets to my life, and my blood, than I ever could have imagined.

Secrets that are burning their way out of the past and the shadows.

A promise dangled in front of me by the enemy of my enemy is too sweet to ignore. And I will cast all my cards on the table for the one chance that the promise he offers is true.

That my son is alive.

God help those who stand between my boy and me.

 

“Nothing burns hotter than the Phoenix. She will turn you to ash and dust, minion. Run away while you still can.”

Blood of a Phoenix is the second installment in author Shannon Mayer's Nix series. The story picks up where Fury of a Phoenix cliffhanger ended. Nix has gone to hell and back. Her husband (Justin) and son (Bear) were killed in the accident, that wasn't an accident. She was kept hidden from her own family by Abe ever since she broke away from the assassin business. She found hidden papers in Justin's desk, and needs a code breaker which sends Nix and Simon to Seattle where they can locate a girl name Talia to help them decide her late husband’s papers.

Nix also has to worry about the fact that Mancini, leader of the Collective, wants her dead after she destroyed one of his factories. Her father, Luca Romano, who made a deal with a demon, has something precious that Nix wants back badly. We learn a lot about Romano's deal with the devil and a little bit about how it affects Nix. Then, to top things off, Mancini drops a bomb in Nix's lap which sends her off to New York to confirm whether he is telling the truth or not. 

After finding a stunning truth, Phoenix chooses to work with Mancini to put an end to Genzo and the production of a substance that can distort abnormals into monsters. We get to know Nix's guns Eleanor and Dinah a little better and learn a bit more about their past with her sister. It’s killing me not to be able to say more about Phoenix’s guns, but that would be a huge spoilers. Killian seems to be an ally, but how far can Nix trust him? 

Mancini drops a bomb in the lap of Nix, and now she has even more reason to hate Luca. What is clear is that all is not what it seems in the world of abnormals. Luca wants to control everything. Mancini is playing his own game that may end up catching Nix in a dangerous situation, and Killian is now likely the only real ally she has. Nix must discover her true identity and embrace it before she loses everything she holds dear. Nix will stop at nothing to get her revenge and get her life back, whatever is left of it. But will it cost her the one person she loves the most in this world?

I appreciate those who continue to read my reviews. I also wish that I had finished this series as well as Mayer's Rylee Adamson series sooner. 





Tuesday, June 28, 2022

#Review - Stealing Infinity by Alyson Noel #YA #SyFy #Fantasy

Series: Stealing Infinity (#1)
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages
Release Date: June 28, 2022
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Source: Source
Genre: Young Adult / Science Fiction / Time Travel

Dan Brown meets Leigh Bardugo in this clever, fast-paced series from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Immortals series.

My life goes completely sideways the moment I meet the mysterious Braxton. Sure, he’s ridiculously hot, but he’s also the reason I’ve been kicked out of school and recruited into Gray Wolf Academy—a remote island school completely off the grid. I never should have trusted a face so perfect.

But the reality of why Gray Wolf wanted me is what truly blows my mind. It’s a school for time travelers. Tripping, they call it. This place is filled with elaborate costumes and rare artifacts, where every move is strategic and the halls are filled with shadows and secrets.

Here, what you see isn’t always what it appears. Including Braxton. Because even though there’s an energy connecting us together, the more secrets he keeps from me, the more it feels like something is pulling us apart. Something that has to do with this place—and its darker purpose. It’s all part of a guarded, elaborate puzzle of history and time…and I might be one of the missing pieces.

Now I have all the time in the world. And yet I can’t shake the feeling that time is the one thing I’m about to run out of…fast. 

Stealing Infinity is the first installment in author Alyson Noel's Stealing Infinity series. The author has agreed to a series of books that will be released over a course of six months. Anyone who read paranormal in the time of Twilight would be familiar with Alyson’s name and her Immortals series. The story’s jumping-off point is an academy for teens who travel through time, but it gets much deeper than that when we discover the heroine is linked to the (real-life) mysterious Antikythera.

The Antikythera mechanism is an Ancient Greek hand-powered orrery, described as the oldest example of an analogue computer used to predict astronomical positions and eclipses decades in advance. The story is told in the first person narrative by Natasha Clarke. When Natasha was 9 years old, her father disappeared, her mother broke down, and Natasha all but gave up on doing well in order to be the adult in the family. Natasha's only real friend is Mason, as well as a girl named Elodie Blue who acquires as quickly as she discard trouble.

After a night out at Arcana, Elodie finds herself arrested for theft, and kicked out of school. She is recruited to a fancy boarding school called Gray Wolf Academy located on a private island, owned by a extremely wealthy man named Arthur Blackstone and trains for time travel missions. The 100 students who call Gray Wolf home, are separated by colors. Green means you are a newbie, Yellow means you've did well, and Blue is where a core of students like Elodie, Braxton, Jago, Oliver, Song, and Finn belong. 

Natasha has a gift and she's been experiencing episodes of Unraveling: seeing, sometimes unexplained, visions through time and memories of her past. As she navigates her way through her new home, the people she thought she knew best might be the most secretive of all. The most secretive may be Braxton who she quickly falls for. Natalie doesn't just going along with things because she felt like she didn't have a choice. She actively tries to figure out what Arthur is up to and why it sees as though a certain character is always around when things go sideways. 

There are obviously lots of questions that need to be answers. I want to ensure you folks read the prologue because I think that will give you some idea of what's to come, and what's already taken place. There is a glaring cliffhanger ending which is to be expected. There's also a brief epilogue which features Braxton when he first meets Natasha at Arcana along with Elodie. The sequel is allegedly called Ruling Destiny and it is set to release February, 2023. 





Monday, June 27, 2022

#Review - Veil of Winter by Melanie Dickerson #YA #Historical #Fantasy

Series: A Dericott Tale # 3
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Release Date: June 14, 2022
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Fairy Tales & Folklore / Adaptations

From New York Times bestselling author Melanie Dickerson comes a reimagining of the beloved "Sleeping Beauty" tale.

She’s hounded from every side by treacherous elements and foes, but her greatest enemy lies within.

In the mountains near France, the medieval Princess Elyce is being forced to marry, thus forming an alliance that will enrich her father but enslave her kingdom. Instead, she chooses to feign her death and flee to Prague to beg King Wenceslaus to help save her people.

In England, the young knight Sir Gerard has a vision from God instructing him to help Elyce on her quest. When he arrives to find she has been near death for days, he manages to revive her. However, thinking the stranger was trying to kiss her, the princess immediately distrusts him. But her desperate situation forces her to accept his aid.

Pursued by her enemy’s guards over mountainous terrain, they must also battle the deadly winter elements. Her greatest challenge may be to overcome the voices of disapproval and accusation from her childhood. Will her emotions lead her into her true identity, or will they undermine her ability to work with Gerard and to save her people, who desperately need her help?


Veil of Winter is the third installment in author Melanie Dickerson's A Dericott Tales series. This is the authors retelling of Sleeping Beauty. While you do not have to have read the previous books, characters often show up in sequels. Case in point is Sir Gerald, who, along with his 7 brothers, was charged with treason by his step-monster and sent to the Tower of London where escape is almost nonexistent in Court of Swans 

Kingdom of Montciel, in the mountains near France late 1382, King Leandre has chosen to make a bad deal with King Claude of Valkenfeld. Leandre will give Claude workers, who are all shepherds and farmers, to work in his mines in exchange for the protection of his army against the Ottoman Empire. In return, Leandre sacrifices his only daughter, Princess Elyce, to Count Rodrigo as a political pawn. With little help of freedom, and without any power of her own, Elyce chooses to purchase a sleeping poison which will put her to sleep for 3 days.

Back in Dericott Castle, Bedfordshire, England, Sir Gerald, a knight in the service of the King, as well as the Duke of Westmoor, and a skilled swordsman, is urged by his only sister Delia, who is now married to Duke of Strachlegh, to find a way to help Princess Elyce of Montciel who she's friends with. Delia has learned that Elyce plans to make everyone believe that she's dead so that she can escape and hopefully find help from King Wenceslaus and free her people from tyranny. After praying for guidance, Gerald see's Elyce in trouble, so he and his friend and mentor Sir Oswalt decide to help.

When he arrives, he manages to revive Elyce from her sleep. However, thinking the stranger was trying to kiss her, the princess immediately distrusts him. But her desperate situation forces her to accept his aid. Pursued by her enemy’s guards over mountainous terrain, Gerald, Elyce, and Oswalt must also battle the deadly winter elements in hopes of gaining an audience with King Wenceslaus in Prague. Along the way, we meet a few others including Prince Bertold of Valkenfeld, Astrid, the woman who allegedly fell to her death, as well as King Wenceslaus, a true life historical figure who was King of Bohemia from 1378 until his death and King of Germany from 1376 until he was deposed in 1400. 

Elyce's greatest challenges may be to overcome the voices of disapproval and accusation from her childhood. She's too passionate. She's been told never to allow anyone to see her cry, or any showings of feelings. Elyce thinks that if she does show her emotions, no one will love her and that emotions are disgusting and dangerous. Gerard is a strong and courageous man who defends Elyse on her travels through the countryside. Throughout the story, Gerard finds that Elyce was put in his path for a reason, and he would do almost anything to ensure she doesn't get used by her father or anyone else.

This story is clean. There's a bit of kissing here and there, but no sex scenes. There's some action, and adventure, and this story will most definitely not be enjoyed by anyone who hates the Christians.





Friday, June 24, 2022

#Review - The Gatekeeper by James Byrne #Thrillers #Suspense

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Release Date: June 7, 2022
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Thrillers / Suspense

Introducing Dez Limerick - "a welcome blast of freshness"* and "the most exciting new character I've read in years"** -- in the most anticipated new thriller in years.

A highly trained team of mercenaries launches a well-planned, coordinated attack on a well-guarded military contractor - but they didn't count on one thing, the right man being in the wrong place at the right time.

Desmond Aloysius Limerick (“Dez” to all) is a retired mercenary, and enthusiastic amateur musician, currently in Southern California, enjoying the sun and sitting in on the occasional gig, when the hotel he's at falls under attack. A skilled team attempts to kidnap the Chief legal counsel of Triton Expeditors, a major military contractor – in fact, Petra Alexandris is the daughter of the CEO – but their meticulously-planned, seamlessly executed scheme runs into the figurative 'spanner-in-the-works,' Dez himself.

After foiling the attack, and with nothing better to do, Dez agrees to help Alexandris with another problem she’s having – someone has embezzled more than a billion dollars from her company and left very few tracks behind. But Dez is a gatekeeper – one who opens doors and keeps them open – and this is just a door of another kind. And the door he opens leads to a dangerous conspiracy involving media manipulation, militias, an armed coup, and an attempt to fracture the United States themselves. There’s only one obstacle between the conspirators and success – and that is Dez, The Gatekeeper.


The Gatekeeper, by author James Byrne, is one that fans of Jack Reacher and Orphan X will sure to love. The story begins in Algeria, and ends in California. Desmond Aloysius Limerick (“Dez” to all) is a retired mercenary, and enthusiastic amateur musician, currently in Southern California, enjoying the sun and sitting in on the occasional gig, when the hotel he's at falls under attack. After finishing a 3 hour set at Hotel Tremaine, Dez spots the glint of a scope from a sniper on the roof of the next building, aimed at the entrance of the hotel.

He watches as a van pulls up, the doors open, and four men pour out. The men are dressed all in black and obviously armed. Dez finds that the phones and alarms have all been disabled. Dez steps into trouble by foiling a kidnapping attempt on Petra Alexandris, the chief legal counsel for Triton Expeditors, a multi-billion-dollar military contractor. After temporarily landing in a L.A. Country jail, where he meets Detective Beth Swain. After he's released, Dez agrees to help Alexandris with another problem she’s having.

Someone has someone has embezzled $1.3 billion dollars from her company. But Dez is a gatekeeper – one who opens doors and keeps them open – and this is just a door of another kind. And the door he opens leads to a dangerous conspiracy involving media manipulation, militias, an armed coup, and an attempt to fracture the United States themselves. With the aid of LAPD Detective Swanson and her boss Captain Naomi Cardona, he follows leads, all pointing to a military-type plot stemming from a small town in north central California.

Dez is five-eight but built like a tank, with a barrel chest, thick arms, short, bowed legs, and oversized hands riddled with scarred knuckles. His scars, burns, and bullet wounds paint a road map of the world’s hot spots. His past and training is shrouded in mystery. On the inside of his right forearm is a tattoo of Janus, the two-faced Roman god of doors, gates and transitions, and the patron for duality—life/ death, war / peace, beginning / ending—holding the metaphorical key to doors or gateways between what was and what is to come.  

Dez cannot help but pepper his conversation with quips and wisecracks—somewhat shrouding his true guile and mental acuity, He can quote writers and philosophers, yet is an expert at throwing and taking punches. Even as the situation deteriorates into a life or death situation, Dez keeps cool, calm and collected and does what he does best - controls the gate. You will also want to pay close attention to Petra. She's not just a pretty face who Dez tends to want to sleep with...often. She's a powerful woman who refuses to back down easily, especially against her own father and his company.

I actually overlooked several parts of this book due to the insanity of someone actually believing anything that the author comes up with can happen. The author loves his conspiracy theories. He wants to blame everything on certain ripped out of the news groups that the Media and politicians love to label as villains while watching other groups actually burn down cities, chase reporters trying to cover the riots, and attack police officers because they are pigs and they need to be taken out. And you wonder why we have so much crime in this country.

I would not be hesitant in reading any sequel that the author might write about in the future. I think there's more Dez adventures that could be very entertaining. 





Thursday, June 23, 2022

#Review - The Blue Diamond by Leonard Goldberg #Mystery #Historical

Series: The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes Mysteries (#6)
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Release Date: June 14, 2022
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Mystery / Historical

The fate of the allied forces lies in the hands of Joanna and the Watson's in the latest Daughter of Sherlock Holmes mystery from USA Today bestselling author Leonard Goldberg.

During a critical stage in World War One, the Governor-General of South Africa journeys to London for a meeting of The Imperial War Conference. Days prior to the conference, the Governor-General is scheduled to have an audience at Buckingham Palace at which time a most precious blue diamond will be presented to King Edward as a symbolic gesture of the colonies’ resolute and never-ending allegiance to England.

The flawless blue diamond, with its magnificent luster, weighs nearly 3000 carats which renders it one of the world’s largest and most valuable gems. On the Governor-General’s arrival, he is ensconced at the fashionable Windsor Hotel under the tightest security, with his entire entourage and formidable security team occupying the entire penthouse floor. All entrances and exits are locked down and closely guarded, and no one is allowed entrance after 6 PM.

Despite the extreme precautions, the famous diamond is stolen from the Governor-General’s suite in the middle of the night, with no clues left behind. With Scotland Yard baffled, Joanna and the Watson's are called in to investigate the theft and it becomes clear that the crime is not simply the work of a master thief, but one that could greatly aid the Germans and turn the tide of war in their favor. Time is of the essence and the blue diamond must be recovered before it begins its travels which could cause irreparable damage to the allied war plans.


The Blue Diamond is the Sixth installment in author Leonard Goldberg's The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes series. As with the previous Five installments, this story is narrated by Dr. John Watson Jr, husband of Joanna Holmes Watson, with his father. Dr. Watson, former chronicler of Sherlock Holmes, along for the mystery and to give his own Sherlock inspired commentary. During a critical stage in World War One, the Governor-General of South Africa journeys to London for a meeting of The Imperial War Conference. 

Days prior to the conference, the Governor-General is scheduled to have an audience at Buckingham Palace at which time a most precious blue diamond will be presented to King Edward as a symbolic gesture of the colonies’ resolute and never-ending allegiance to England. The flawless blue diamond, with its magnificent luster, weighs nearly 3000 carats which renders it one of the world’s largest and most valuable gems. 

On the Governor-General’s arrival, he is ensconced at the fashionable Windsor Hotel under the tightest security, with his entire entourage and formidable security team occupying the entire penthouse floor. All entrances and exits are locked down and closely guarded, and no one is allowed entrance after 6 PM. Despite the extreme precautions, the famous diamond is stolen from the Governor-General’s suite in the middle of the night, with no clues left behind.

This isn't the first sensational robbery at a named hotel. Before the Windsor was hit, there was the Fairmont, and St. Reyes all over a 10 day period. One of the other rare items stolen was a Ming Era vase. Enter Inspector Lestrade, and Sir Charles Bradberry, Scotland Yard Commissioner. With Scotland Yard baffled, Joanna Holmes Watson, her husband Dr. John Watson, and Sherlock Holmes chronicler Dr. John H. Watson MD, are called in to investigate the theft and it becomes clear that the crime is not simply the work of a master thief. 

Joanna quickly learns that this is only the tip of the mystery. To make things even more dire, a war document has also been stolen, and if it falls into German hands, millions of allies will be slaughtered. Time is of the essence. As she gets closer and closer to the mechanics of just how the diamond was stolen and by whom, and if their South African allies are actually frauds, Joanna and the Watson's suddenly become targets for murder. And, when chips are down, Joanna once again calls on Toby Too and her group of street urchins who are slowly growing up to be adults. 

Since this story takes place in November of 1917, there is a lot of historical ties to actual historical characters. There is more realism than before in that the author puts our characters in harms way of German bombs, and the devastation that they left behind. For Sherlock fans, the author mentions a specific case called Adventure of the Dancing Men which means that readers will finally get a look at the infamous Sherlock Holmes code book he used to break the case.






Wednesday, June 22, 2022

#Review - The Lies I Tell by Julie Clark #Thrillers #Suspense

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Release Date: June 21, 2022
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Source: Publisher
Genre: Thrillers / Suspense 

From the instant New York Times bestselling author of The Last Flight comes a riveting new novel of two women, multiple identities, and one last con

Meg Williams. Maggie Littleton. Melody Wilde. Different names for the same person, depending on the town, depending on the job. She's a con artist who erases herself to become whoever you need her to be. A college student. A life coach. A real estate agent. But nothing about her is real. She slides alongside you and tells you exactly what you want to hear, and by the time she's done, you've likely lost everything.

Kat Roberts has been waiting ten years for the woman who upended her life to return. And now that she has, Kat is determined to be the one to expose her. But as the two women grow closer, Kat's long-held assumptions begin to crumble, leaving Kat to wonder who Meg's true target is.



Julie Clark's The Lies I Tell is a twisted domestic thriller that dives deep into the psyches and motivations of two women and their unwavering quest to seek justice for the past and rewrite the future. Beginning ten years before, and alternating between Kat Roberts, and Meg Williams, this is a story that will keep you guessing. When Meg was in her final year of High School, her mother was conned and ended up losing their home. Meg spent the final year of High School living in her car, and then losing her mother. She's never forgotten the man who destroyed her life. 

Meg Williams is a con artist. She is very, very smart, and exceptionally good at what she does, and she has been waiting years for the opportunity to get revenge on her current mark. Meg has gone by a variety of names. Meg Williams. Maggie Littleton. Melody Wilde. She becomes whoever you need her to be—a college student. A life coach. A real estate agent. Nothing about her is real. She slides alongside you and tells you exactly what you need to hear, and by the time she's done, you've likely lost everything. But she's not evil. She's on a mission to destroy the man who took everything from her, and if she can take down other villainous men along the way, so be it.

Kat Roberts was an up-and-coming journalist until 10 years earlier when Meg Williams called in a tip on a story on which she was working. That tip led to Kat's life being forever changed, and losing a promising job. For the past 10 years Kat has been trying to find Meg and uncover all her cons so she can write an expose and once again be a respected journalist. What is justice and who can be trusted? 10 years later, Kat runs into Meg who apparently has chosen to go after someone who is running for the Senate. Someone who destroyed her life. But as the two women grow closer, Kat's long-held assumptions begin to crumble, leaving Kat to wonder who Meg's true target is. Kat finds that Meg is more than she appears.

Julia Clark writes a story of two strong women in their own voice and written it in a way that you have to keep following along to see what happens next.  





Tuesday, June 21, 2022

#Review - Twin Crowns by Catherine Doyle, Katherine Webber

Series: Twin Crowns # 1
Format: Hardcover, 480 pages
Release Date: May 17, 2022
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Romance

The first in a delightful and thrilling fantasy rom-com duology about twin princesses separated at birth—one raised as the crown princess and the other taken as an infant and raised to kidnap her sister, steal the crown, and avenge their parents' murders—from acclaimed authors Catherine Doyle and Katherine Webber.

Wren Greenrock has always known that one day she’d steal her sister’s place on the throne. Trained from birth to return to the palace and avenge her parents’ murder, she’ll do anything to become queen and protect the community of witches who raised her. Or she would, if only a certain guard wasn’t quite so distractingly attractive, and if her reckless magic would stop causing trouble.…

Princess Rose Valhart knows that with power comes responsibility—and she won’t let a small matter like waking up in the desert with an extremely impertinent (and very handsome) kidnapper get in the way of her duty. But life outside the palace is wilder and more beautiful than she ever imagined, and the witches she has long feared might turn out to be the family she never had.

But as coronation day looms and each sister strives to claim her birthright, an old enemy becomes increasingly determined that neither will succeed. Who will ultimately rise to power and wear the crown?


Twin Crowns, by authors Catherine Doyle and Katherine Webber, is the first installment in a fantasy rom-com duology about twin princesses separated at birth; one raised as the crown princess and the other taken as an infant and raised by her grandmother to steal the crown and avenge their parent's murder 18 years ago. Told in alternating perspectives, Twin Crowns is a fantasy rom-com that combines the high-stakes romance of The Selection with the humor of The Princess Bride and the commercial action of Serpent & Dove.

Princess Rose Valhart was raised as a princess and the rightful heir to the throne of the kingdom of Eana. She knows that with power comes responsibility. For 18 years, she's been under the thumb of Willem Rathborne aka Kingsbreath, who plans on marrying her off to a far off land so that he can raise an army to finally get rid of the witches that are left. What Rose didn't expect was to be kidnapped in the middle of the night by Shen Lo, or taken to a place where she will soon discover that not only does she have a sister she's never met, she's also got a grandmother who has been planning her revenge for 18 long years. Rose's journey learning more about the world and herself is very fulfilling. Rose also finds herself in an enemies to possible lovers situation.

Wren Greenrock was taken away for her safety to grow up in a community of persecuted witches after their parents are brutally murdered shortly after their birth. She has always known that one day she’d steal her sister’s place on the throne. Trained from birth to return to the palace and avenge her parents’ murder, she’ll do anything to become queen and protect the community of witches who raised her. Or she would, if only a certain Captain Tor Iversen wasn’t quite so distractingly attractive, and if her reckless magic would stop causing trouble. Wren's romantic interlude is more complicated in that she's supposed to be Rose who is in love with her fiancĂ© but finds Tor much more exciting.

The two storylines of Wren and Rose are certainly very different. Wren is enterprising, mouthy and ready to take on any challenge, while Rose, accustomed to royal life, expects everything to run smoothly and to be listened to. Both characters find themselves, getting to know a very different world than they knew until now. But as coronation day looms closer and they each strive to claim their birthright, the sinister Willem Rathborne, becomes increasingly determined that neither will succeed. Who will ultimately rise to power and wear the crown?

I think what makes this book more relatable is the fact that you have two authors writing two different characters instead of one author writing two different characters. The book also does a good job of switching between super heavy and dark, to hilariously funny and light scenes. Of course I will be waiting for the sequel to be released since the ending left a glaring issue for both sisters to deal with.