Monday, July 15, 2019

#Review - Brave the Tempest by Karen Chance #Fantasy #Romance

Series: Cassandra Palmer #9
Format: E-Galley, 576 pages
Release Date: July 30, 2019
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Publisher
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Cassie Palmer, chief seer of the supernatural world, faces her biggest challenge yet—her own allies! Everything’s on the line in the latest thrilling entry in the New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series.

Cassie Palmer has been chief seer of the supernatural world for a little over four months. In that time, she’s battled two gods, fallen in love with two men, and confronted the two sides of her own nature, both god and human. So it’s not surprising that she currently finds herself facing two adversaries, although they have a single purpose: to wipe out the supernatural community’s newest fighting force, leaving it vulnerable to enemies in this world and beyond.

To prevent catastrophe, the vamps, mages, and demons will have to do the one thing they’ve never managed before and come together as allies. Cassie has the difficult task of keeping the uneasy coalition intact, and of persuading her own two opposing forces, a powerful mage with a secret and a master vampire with a growing obsession, to fight at her side. She just hopes they can do it without tearing each other apart.

Story Locale: alternative Las Vegas and fantasy world

Brave the Tempest, by author Karen Chance, is the 9th installment in the authors Cassie Palmer series. As a brief summary, Cassie is the Chief Seer of the supernatural world. Even though this series has been going on since 2006, only a short 4 months have gone by in this world since she was chosen by the Pythia powers. However, she still doesn't have a job description. Nobody has told her what her job is really supposed to entail. Everybody, vampires, demons, and mages have pretty much just accepted the quirkiness that is Cassie and learned that she can not be controlled or handled.

After all, Cassie did the impossible. She chased down Pritkin's soul in the past and reunited him. But, with the supernatural war on the brink of a full invasion of Faerie, Cassie has some moral dilemma's. How is she supposed to protect the acolyte's she rescued from England? How can she ensure her acolyte's, especially Rhea, are trained to one day step up when they are called upon? How can she get the witches to trust her enough to allow them to send their daughters to become part of the Pythian Court? 

How can she help keep the fragile alliance that she helped create between vampires, mages, and demons. What's worse, how can she manage her heart when it comes to choosing between Mircea and Pritkin? I liked that Cassie found her backbone in this book. She isn't afraid of anyone except failing her kids. She is the Pythia. She has the ability to travel back in time. She has done things that people have scoffed at because she has shown a bit of weakness in understanding her role. 

But, she doesn't need the vampires or the mages, or the demons to tell her what to do. She doesn't need Mircea to steal away her vampire bodyguards who have kept her and her acolyte's safe from numerous attacks. The author does a whole lot of information dumping in the first 1/2 of this book. That's fine, but reading the books in order, and understanding how Cassie has come to this point in her life is rather important. I have to say that I am happy that it appears that Cassie and Mircea's daughter Dorina have put their hate aside. 

Dorina is a changed character since Shadow's Bane as well as her relationship with Louis-Cesare, a master vampire and member of the Vampire Senate, like Dory, who has dealt with Dory's craziness for sometime now. It is fair to say that events of Dory's book are skimmed over and that's for the best. We, as readers, can easily pick up Shadow's Bane and find out what happened for ourselves. It's also fair to say that these series are interconnected which means that each of the main characters appear in each of these series. 

If you are one of those who were demanding more of Cassie & Pritkin, you will not be disappointed. In fact, I dare say you will smile......A lot. One thing that the author does really good, is the action sequences. You will get plenty of those as well. But, the rumination of past exploits, and the fact that Cassie really needs to go back in time and allow one of the Pythia's to train her properly, kind of weighs down the story. We are now at 9 books in this series. Cassie has shown some moments that she is just as badass as the rest of her so call allies. Now, she has to decide what her future looks like.

Friday, July 12, 2019

#Review - Heartwood Box by Ann Aguirre #YALIT #Thrillers #Suspense

Series: Standalone
Format: E-Galley, 336 pages
Release Date: July 9, 2019
Publisher: Tor Teen
Source: Publisher
Genre: YA / Thrillers & Suspense

A dark, romantic YA suspense novel with an SF edge and plenty of drama, layering the secrets we keep and how appearances can deceive, from the New York Times bestselling author

In this tiny, terrifying town, the lost are never found.

When Araceli Flores Harper is sent to live with her great-aunt Ottilie in her ramshackle Victorian home, the plan is simple. She'll buckle down and get ready for college. Life won't be exciting, but she'll cope, right?

Wrong. From the start, things are very, very wrong. Her great-aunt still leaves food for the husband who went missing twenty years ago, and local businesses are plastered with MISSING posters. There are unexplained lights in the woods and a mysterious lab just beyond the city limits that the locals don't talk about. Ever. When she starts receiving mysterious letters that seem to be coming from the past, she suspects someone of pranking her or trying to drive her out of her mind.

To solve these riddles and bring the lost home again, Araceli must delve into a truly diabolical conspiracy, but some secrets fight to stay buried...


Ann Aguirre's Heartwood Box is a cross between fantasy, and science fiction, and speculation. Thanks to her parents spending time in Venezuela covering a story, because why not? Araceli Flores Harper is sent to her great-Aunt Ottilie's home on Long Island to spend the summer before she attends her final year of High School. Ottilie's husband disappeared 20 years ago. She still lives in the run down Victorian home she's always lived in. But, that's not the real story. 

Upon arrival, Araceli sees dozens of missing persons posters. It seems that people have disappeared and are never heard from again. In fact, it's gotten really bad with 11 disappearances in 10 months. Araceli is warned to stay away from the lights in the woods but nobody has any idea what they are. She is told there is a top secret government research facility known as Fairhaven Labs.What do they really do at said lab, and are they to blame for what is happening?

Araceli becomes part of a group which includes Kimala, Tamsyn, Jackson, Derek, and Logan. Araceli has spent a lot of time in various countries, including Mexico. She speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, and Mandarin. She is also supposed to be a decent dancer and tries out for the dance team. But, according to Araceli, she is worried that white folks with pitch forks and white hoods will suddenly show up to kidnap her. In New York. 

She's scared that ICE will take her away to some secretive location where she will disappear without a trace. She claims the town is more dangerous than the entire country of Venezuela which is tearing itself a part at the seems! She's apparently never been to Venezuela, and I'm pretty sure neither has the author or she wouldn't have made such an ugly and unfounded claim. The town where the story takes place was founded by German immigrants. If you know where I am going with this fact, you'd be correct. Therefore, the author tells you about the towns history without naming it. 

Anyway! Araceli stumbles her way across a mystery box. The aforementioned heartwood box. In the box there is a letter from someone named Lucy to Oliver. This letter was dated 1918. After putting her homework in said box, it disappears. This sets off an interesting two way communication across time between Aracelli and Oliver who is a GI sent to fight the Germans in World War I. The next curiosity is discovered when Aracelli learns her Tia is leaving food for her husband and that food is always gone the next morning. Weird, right?

I think it was curious the connection between Oliver and Logan. While Oliver is pretty much catching Araceli's heart strings, and she's falling hard for the him, Logan is disappearing right before our eyes into the background. What's humorous is the author mentions the movie Lake House with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. In the movie, they each leave letters in the mailbox. So, twist it just a bit and Araceli and Oliver leave their letters in the mysterious Heartwood Box instead. 

Honestly, this part was the best part of the story for me. You can tell that Araceli was falling for Oliver, and vice versa. When she falls asleep, she is able to see who Oliver is, and what he is doing. He thinks she's an angel, or a bruja. She's just a girl whose family is off gallivanting across the world trying to find the next story while she tries to decide her future. There are certain elements of the Butterfly affect in this book. How can there not be? After all, once you start messing with actual time and history, things must change as well.

There have been some wrong claims about where this story is told. Trust me, it's on Long Island, not Upstate New York. I lived in New York for most of my life, except the last 20 in Florida, and the 4 years spent in the military. It is also true that the town was where the Army had a training camp for soldiers from New York City. If you love history like I do, look up the Lost Battalion, 77th Division which was exclusively New York City poor men.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

#Review - Shadow & Flame by Mindee Arnett #YALIT / #Fantasy

Series: Rime Chronicles #2
Format: Hardcover, 496 pages
Release Date: June 4, 2019
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy

From acclaimed author Mindee Arnett comes the thrilling conclusion of the stunningly epic, action-packed, and romantic fantasy adventure about a powerful girl possessed of strange magic, the outcast prince she loves, and the kingdom that has torn them apart.

Kate and Corwin are on the run, desperate for allies in a new world of war among the kingdoms of Rime. As the book opens, Kate suffers a massive loss, one that will shape the struggle for freedom of all wilders and magic folk—that is, if Kate can learn to control her own power

Shadow & Flame is the final installment in author Mindee Arnett's Rime Chronicles. The story picks up around 6 months after the ending of Onyx and Ivory. Shadow & Flame is told in the POV of both Kate Brighton and Corwin Tormane, High Prince of Rime who has been labeled as a traitor. However, Kate and Corwin get separated in the beginning of the story after so many shocking things go wrong, and spend most of it apart trying to deal with their own personal.

After the heart racing prologue, the story jumps ahead 1 year. Kate is part of The Rising and called the Wilder Queen thanks to her actions in taking over Farhold. She wears flame tattoos to honor those she lost, including one for Corwin and Bonner who she believes was lost in a mission to Seva. The same Seva which has been trying to conquer Rime using wilders who were kidnapped from Rime. Kate has no idea that Corwin is really alive and being groomed to be a pawn in Rendborne's much larger and more deadlier game. 

Kate, unfortunately, has a chip on her shoulder a mile wide. Which, considering how she is treated by others, and what happens in the prologue, makes some sense. She makes some silly mistakes based on emotions leading to her friends ending up in dire circumstances. Kate has a remarkable ability, but sometimes that ability is used on the wrong people even though it's in an attempt to save their lives. When you take away someone's free will, you are stepping over the line from what makes you a hero to a villain.

While Corwin is facing some twisted plots, and manipulations, including having to marry someone he has no emotional connection with, his brother Edwin has declared himself to be King of Rime even though the uror challenge hasn't been satisfied. When Corwin and his new entourage, including the King of Seva, and Rendborne arrive in Rima, things get interesting to say the least. Even after everything Edwin did to him, and how he was treated, I think it's fair to say that events transpire that I won't spoil that makes Corwin believe that he can be a better king than his brother.

Inevitably, people are going to be sad by some of the consequences of this story. Some people will like the fact that the romance was basically subtle if non-existent for most of the story. The foreshadowing from the first book to the finale of this book was clear now that I've read this book. All the loose ends are tied up nicely and the ending is so satisfying. I am glad that the ending of this series wasn't dragged out for one more book to leave reading hanging off a cliff wanting to know if Corwin and Kate will have a happy ending or a brutal denial of a happy ending thanks to a garden variety of villains.

Onyx & Ivory and Shadow & Flame are everything you want from a big-book YA series: an impeccably built world, an epic storyline with dual protagonists, pulse-pounding action, compelling adventure, court intrigue, and breathless romance. Kate, Corwin, Bonner, Signe, and Dal learn things they never knew about themselves, their choices and the consequences that come with those choices. Each of these characters go through hell. And I mean literal hell.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

#Review - Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho #Fantasy / #Historical

Series: Sorcerer Royal (#1)
Format: Paperback, 384 pages
Release Date: July 12, 2016
Publisher: Ace
Source: Publisher
Genre: Fantasy / Historical

The Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers maintains the magic within His Majesty’s lands. But lately, the institution has fallen into disgrace, naming an unsuitable gentleman as their Sorcerer Royal and allowing England’s stores of magic to bleed dry. At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers, ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up, an adventure that brings him in contact with Prunella Gentlewoman, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, and sets him on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…

Story Locale: Regency England 

Sorcerer to the Crown, by author Zen Cho, is the first in a series of historical fantasy books set in Regency London blending a touch of fantasy, politics, humor, and romance while taking a poke at Regency prejudices.  It has been 3 months since Zacharias Wythe has taken up the staff of the Sorcerer Royal—not so long since his predecessor, Sir Stephen Wythe, has died. Because he is a negro bought from a slave owner by Mister Wythe and his wife Lady Maria Wythe, he the object of general interest, and of great hatred because others think he is a murdered who usurped his title.

Zacharias is bound to serve the Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers who have been in dire need of answers as to why England's magic has been on the decline. Especially when they are at war with Napolean's France and the Fairy Queen has cut off all access to the land of Fairy. With his main nemesis, Geoffrey Midsomer, back from Fairy, it is probable that Zacharias's problems with become even more dire. What's more troubling is the fact that he is the only Sorcerer Royal who doesn't have a familiar thanks to Fairy's restrictions and that doesn't protect him against numerous assassination plots.

Then there's Prunella, an unexpected and willful, yet completely charming addition to his tangled problems. 19-year old Prunella Gentleman of the Daubeney's School for Gentlewitches is an orphan who also has dark skin, and may in fact be too magical for her own good. After discovering her supposed fathers secret stash, which includes 7 priceless eggs, Prunella decides to leave the school and follow Zacharias to London so that she can learn how to control her magic. Prunella is forbidden to acknowledge her magic because she is a woman and therefore cannot possibly be magically inclined.

Institutional racism and oppression is a real menace in this story, even overshadowing the threats of war from France, the dwindling magical resources of England, and the political entanglements involving the matter of witches, belligerent visiting diplomats, and backstabbing members of the Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers. While I adored Zacharias, it was Prunella who stole the show with the sheer force of her personality. In many ways, the author set up the transition from Zacharias to Prunella and the sequel to this story.

THE MEETING OF the Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers was well under way, and the entrance hall was almost empty. Only the occasional tardy magician passed through, scarcely sparing a glance for the child waiting there.
Boy children of his type were not an uncommon sight in the Society’s rooms. The child was unusual less for his complexion than for his apparent idleness. Unlike the Society’s splendidly liveried pages, he was soberly dressed, and he was young for a page boy, having just attained his sixth summer.
In fact, Zacharias held no particular employment, and he had never seen the Society before that morning, when he had been conducted there by the Sorcerer Royal himself. Sir Stephen had adjured him to wait, then vanished into the mysterious depths of the Great Hall.
Zacharias was awed by the stately building, with its sombre wood-panelled walls and imposing paintings, and he was a little frightened of the grave thaumaturges hurrying past in their midnight blue coats. Most of all he was rendered solemn by the seriousness of his task. He sat, swollen with purpose, gazing at the doors to the Great Hall, as though by an effort of will he might compel them to open and disgorge his guardian.
Finally, the moment came: the doors opened, and Sir Stephen beckoned to him.
Zacharias entered the Great Hall under the penetrating gaze of what seemed to be a thousand gentlemen, most of them old, and none friendly. Sir Stephen was the only person he knew, for one could not count Sir Stephen’s familiar Leofric, who slept curled in reptilian coils at the back of the room, smoke rising from his snout.
The thickest-skinned child might have been cowed by such an assembly, and Zacharias was sensitive. But Sir Stephen put a reassuring hand on his back, and Zacharias remembered the morning, so long ago now—home, safety, warmth, and Lady Wythe’s face bending over him:
“Never be afraid, Zacharias, but do your best. That will be quite enough, for you have been taught by the finest sorcerer in the realm. If the attention of so many gentlemen should make you nervous, simply pretend to yourself that they are so many heads of cabbages. That always assists me on such occasions.”
Zacharias was pretending as hard as he could as he was propelled to the front of the room, but the cabbages did not seem to help. To be sure, Lady Wythe had never been called upon to prove the magical capacities of her race before the finest thaumaturgical minds in England. It was a grave responsibility, and one anyone would find daunting, thought Zacharias, even if he were a great boy of six.
“What do you wish to bring alive, Zacharias?” said Sir Stephen. He gestured at a small wooden box on a table. “In the course of his travels Mr. Midsomer acquired this box, carved with birds and fruit and outlandish animals. You may have your pick.”
Zacharias had rehearsed the enchantment he was to perform many times under Sir Stephen’s patient tutelage. The night before, he had fallen asleep reciting the formula to himself. Yet now, as he was surrounded by a crowd of strange faces, oppressed by the consciousness of being the focus of their attention, memory deserted him.
His terrified gaze swung from Sir Stephen’s kind face, skipped over the audience, and roamed over the Great Hall, as if he might find the words of the spell waiting for him in some dusty corner. It was the oldest room in the Society, and boasted several interesting features, chief of which were the ancient carved bosses on the ceiling. These represented lambs, lions and unicorns; faces of long-dead sorcerers; and Green Men with sour expressions and vines sprouting from their nostrils. At any other time they would have captivated Zacharias, but right now they could give him no pleasure.
“I have forgotten the spell,” he whispered.
“What is that?” said Sir Stephen. He had been speaking in clear ringing tones before, addressing his audience, but now he lowered his voice and leaned closer.
“No helping the boy, if you please,” cried a voice. “That will prove nothing of what you promised.”
The audience had been growing restless with Zacharias’s stupefaction. Other voices followed the first, hectoring, displeased:
“Is the child an idiot?”
“A poll parrot would offer better amusement.”
“Can you conceive anything more absurd?” said a thaumaturge to a friend, in a carrying whisper. “He might as well seek to persuade us that a pig can fly—or a woman do magic!”
The friend observed that so could pigs fly, if one could be troubled to make them.
“Oh certainly!” replied the first. “And one could teach a woman to do magic, I suppose, but what earthly good would a flying pig or a magical female be to anyone?”
“This is a great gift to the press,” cried a gentleman with red whiskers and a supercilious expression. “What fine material we have furnished today for the caricaturists—a meeting of the first magicians of our age, summoned to watch a piccaninny stutter! Has English thaumaturgy indeed been so reduced by the waning of England’s magic that Sir Stephen believes we have nothing better to do?”
Unease rippled through the crowd, as though what the gentleman had said sat ill with his peers. Zacharias said anxiously: “Perhaps there is not enough magic.”
“Tush!” said Sir Stephen. To Zacharias’s embarrassment, he spoke loud enough for the entire room to hear. “Pray do not let that worry you. It pleases Mr. Midsomer to enlarge upon the issue, but I believe England is still furnished with sufficient magic to quicken any tolerable magician’s spells.”
The red-whiskered gentleman shouted an indistinct riposte, but he was not allowed to finish, for three other thaumaturges spoke over him, disagreeing vociferously. Six more magicians took up Mr. Midsomer’s defence, alternating insults to their peers with condemnation of Sir Stephen and mockery of his protégé. A poor sort of performing animal it was, they said, that would not perform!
“What an edifying sight for a child—a room full of men several times his size, calling him names,” said one gentleman, who had the sorcerer’s silver star pinned to his coat. He did not trouble to raise his voice, but his cool accents seemed to cut through the tumult. “It is all of a piece with the most ancient traditions of our honourable Society, I am sure, and evidence of how well we deserve our position in the world.”
Mr. Midsomer flushed with anger.
“Mr. Damerell may say what he likes, but I see no reason why we should restrain our criticism of this absurd spectacle, child or no child,” he snapped.
“I am sure you do not, Midsomer,” said Damerell gently. “I have always admired your refusal, in the pursuit of your convictions, ever to be constrained by considerations of humanity—much less of ordinary good manners.”
The room erupted into more argument than ever. The clamour mounted till it seemed it must wake the carvings on the box, and even the slumbering bosses on the ceiling, without Zacharias’s needing to lift a finger.
Zacharias looked around, but everyone had ceased to pay attention to him. For the moment he was reprieved.
He let out a small sigh of relief. As if that tiny breath were the key to his locked memory, his mind opened, and the spell fell into it, fully formed. The words were so clear and obvious, their logic so immaculate, that Zacharias wondered that he had ever lost them.
He spoke the spell under his breath, still a little uncertain after the agonies he had endured. But magic came, ever his friend—magic answered his call. The birds carved upon the box blushed red, green, blue and yellow, and he knew that the spell had caught.
The birds peeled away from the box as they took on substance and being, their wings springing away from their bodies, feathers sprouting upon their flesh. They flew up to the ceiling, squawking. The breeze from their wings brushed Zacharias’s face, and he laughed.
One by one the carved bosses sprang to life, and the dead sorcerers and the sour old Green Men and the lions and the lambs and the birds opened their mouths, all of them singing, singing lustily Zacharias’s favourite song, drowning out the angry voices of the men below, and filling the room with glorious sound.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

#Review - Someone Knows by Lisa Scottoline #Thrillers / #Suspense

Series: Standalone
Format: E-Galley, 400 pages
Release Date: April 9, 2019
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Source: Publisher
Genre: Thrillers / Suspense

Bestselling and award-winning author Lisa Scottoline reaches new heights with this riveting novel about how a single decision can undo a family, how our past can derail our present, and how not guilty doesn’t always mean innocent.

Allie Garvey is heading home to the funeral of a childhood friend. Allie is not only grief-stricken, she’s full of dread. Because going home means seeing the other two people with whom she shares an unbearable secret.

Twenty years earlier, a horrific incident shattered the lives of five teenagers, including Allie. Drinking and partying in the woods, they played a dangerous prank that went tragically wrong, turning deadly. The teenagers kept what happened a secret, believing that getting caught would be the worst thing that could happen. But time has taught Allie otherwise. Not getting caught was far worse.

Allie has been haunted for two decades by what she and the others did, and by the fact that she never told a soul. The dark secret has eaten away at her, distancing her from everyone she loves, including her husband. Because she wasn’t punished by the law, Allie has punished herself, and it’s a life sentence.

Now, Allie stands on the precipice of losing everything. She’s ready for a reckoning, determined to learn how the prank went so horribly wrong. She digs to unearth the truth, but reaches a shocking conclusion that she never saw coming—and neither will the reader.

A deeply emotional examination of family, marriage, and the true nature of justice, Someone Knows is Lisa Scottoline’s most powerful novel to date. Startling, page-turning, and with an ending that’s impossible to forget, this is a tour de force by a beloved author at the top of her game.

Lisa Scottoline's Someone Knows is the story of group of teens who got carried away, had too much to drink and one of them ended up dead. The survivors agreed to keep the truth of what happened secret. But, 20 years later, Allie Garvey has returned home for the funeral of one of those friends and she has to face the consequences of her actions. Allie has suffered both mentally and physically from what happened since then and finds her life and her marriage is falling apart. When the co-conspirators reunite, will the truth come out, or will even more secrets be exposed?

The story starts in the present, then flips back 20 years to the 90's when Allie, Sasha Barrow, Julian Browne, and David Hybrinski were teens who got drunk and a new kid ends up dead thanks to a prank that went horribly and tragicaly wrong. It is fair to say that this group of characters had no redeeming qualities at all. Sasha is an entitled rich girl who can have any boy she wants. Julian has been focused so much on Sasha, that he doesn't see that there's no future. And, David, well David's family's expectations may have blurred who he really is.

As for 15-year Allie, she was never been popular. She and her sister Jill were best friends, but after Jill dies from Cystic Fibrosis, Allie is left feeling alone and adrift. Her mother rarely gets out of bed, her father is obsessed with raising money in hopes of one day curing the terrible disease that shattered their family's happiness, and it's all Allie can do to get through the days. But when she comes upon three of the most popular kids in the neighborhood burying a gun in the woods, Allie begins to wonder if she just might be on the road to popularity. Especially when she thinks that David might have feelings for her.

Things change when Kyle Gallagher, a new kid in town with a bag filled with secrets, tries to join their group. Julian is particularly opposed to his presence, seeing him as a rival for Sasha's affection, and in an attempt to scare him off, Julian orders him to play Russian Roulette. No one else is particularly fond of this idea, but no one wants to go against Julian's wishes, so Kyle eventually complies, and as you might imagine, ends up dead. 

My reason for the rating is 2-fold. Too many narratives. The story literally rotates between a bunch of characters. Most of the characters have no redeeming values. While Allie did suffer in silence for 20 years, which has eroded her marriage, she could have stood up with a strong voice and told what really happened that night. Especially when everyone thought it was a suicide, including the police.

I felt the most for Kyle, and no, I won't tell you his back story. Let's just say that he didn't deserve anything that happened to him. His entire life was uprooted, he was prevented from playing the sport that he loves for fear someone who recognize him, his mother does everything she can to protect him and support him, then he is taken away from her in a blink of an eye. The ending is truly eye opening. Nope, I won't spoil it except to say that you should prepare yourself for anything to happen.

Nobody tells you that you’ll do things when you’re young that are so stupid, so unbelievably stupid, so horrifically stupid that years later you won’t be able to believe it. You’ll be on your laptop, or reading a book, or pumping gas, and you’ll find yourself shaking your head because you’ll be thinking no, no, no, I did not do that, I was not a part of that, that could not have happened.
You’ll tell yourself that you were young, that you were drinking, that good teenagers make bad decisions all the time. But you know that’s not it. You know that when teenagers get together, something dark can take over. Call it peer pressure, call it a collective idiocy, call it something more primal and monstrous, like whatever makes frat boys haze their so-called brothers to death. Writ large, it makes Nazis murder millions and soldiers torch Vietnamese villages. But whatever you call it, it will make you do the worst thing you ever did in your life. And in your darkest moments, you will wonder if it made you do it, or simply allowed you to.
You know this now but you didn’t then, and you’ll shake your head, thinking I can’t believe I did that, I can’t believe I was a part of that, but you were, and not in Nazi Germany, My Lai, or a frat house, but in the safest place you can imagine—in the suburban housing development where you grew up, specifically in a patch of woods mandated by township zoning, confined by fences, and bordered by the Pennsylvania Turnpike. In other words, in a completely civilized location where even Nature herself is domesticated and nothing ever happens.
Except this one night.
You and your friends decide to play Russian Roulette, a game so obviously lethal that you can’t even imagine what you were thinking. Days later, years later, a decade later, it’s still so unspeakable you can’t say a word to anyone, and all the books you read that you should’ve learned something from—Lord of the Flies, A Separate Peace, and Crime and Punishment—teach you absolutely nothing. You read like a fiend, you always have, but you don’t let the books teach you anything. You never apply them to your life because they’re fiction, or even if they seem real, they’re someone else’s life, not your life, except that you and your friends decided to play a prank and someone blew their brains out in front of you.
You won’t be able to remember exactly what happened because of the booze and the horror, the absolute horror, and yet you won’t be able to forget it, though you’ll spend night after night trying. People say something was a night to remember, but this was a night to forget and yet you can’t forget, and then you’ll hear some random playlist and Rihanna singing don’t act like you forgot and you’ll realize you’ve been acting like you forgot your entire adult life, and you’ll feel accused by a song, nailed by a phrase, and don’t act like you forgot is everything, don’t act like you forgot is all, and you’ll pick up the bottle and say to yourself, I’m acting like I forgot but I didn’t, I didn’t forget, and you’ll need to be put out of your own misery, so you’ll drink and drink, trying to drink yourself to death.
But that takes too long. Years too long. Time doesn’t move fast enough. You learned that the hard way.
One night, you’ll lose patience.

Monday, July 8, 2019

#Review - A Monster's Birth by Raven Steele #Urban #Fantasy

Series: Rouen Chronicles #6
Format: Kindle, 328 pages
Release Date: April 16, 2019
Publisher: Amazon
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Genre: Urban Fantasy

“The only monster you need to be afraid of is the one inside of me.” 
Aris Crow returns to Coast City not as a hero, but as a powerful vampire determined to kill the dark creatures who destroyed all that mattered to him. But, as a monster himself, he'll have to conquer his own demons and also unite with old enemies if he has any chance of saving his city. 

A Monster's Birth is the 6th installment in the Rouen Chronicles, as well as the 2nd installment in Aris Crow's story arc. It has been 6 months since Aris Crow rose as a vampire. He has spent the past 6 months training with Samira who readers of this series should know about. Aris blood is pure and strong thanks to his connection to Elizabeth Bathory. But, can he control the monster, or will the monster control him? While Aris is learning his way as a vampire, his home in Coast City has become a haven for all kinds of vampires. 

His nemesis Victor is no longer the big dog in town. A worst sort of villain has taken over. His name is Bastian, which you would have met if you read the first installment in this story arc. Bastian is an old and powerful vampire who answers to the Ministry. The Ministry consists of a group of 9 vampires, witches and shape shifters who think the should be ruling the world, and not humans. With Samira off dealing with issues in Rouen, Aris's allies include Rebecca, a shifter, as well as Oz, a geek of extraordinary talents who also has a sister, Amy, who found some good news in regards to her health. 

Aris has some interesting twists to deal with. Someone is still experimenting with the V-Protein creating unbelievably strong monsters, humans have all but given up that anyone will show up and be the hero they need, and Aris is still trying to figure out what to do with his relationship with Emma now that he's a vampire and she's a human. I absolutely recommend that you read all 3 of Aris's books before moving back to Samira's. The reason is that Aris will soon be joining Samira and her allies as they fight against really powerful enemies. Aris first has to put his own home in order before he moves on to something else.

#Review - A Question of Holmes by Brittany Cavallaro #YALIT #Mysteries

Series: Charlotte Holmes # 4
Format: Hardcover, 287 pages
Release Date: March 5, 2019
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult / Mysteries

In the explosive conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Charlotte Holmes series, Holmes and Watson think they’re finally in the clear after graduating from Sherringford…but danger awaits in the hallowed halls of Oxford.

Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson finally have a chance to start over. With all the freedom their pre-college summer program provides and no one on their tail, the only mystery they need to solve, once and for all, is what they are to each other. 

But upon their arrival at Oxford, Charlotte is immediately drawn into a new case: a series of accidents befell the theater program at Oxford last year, culminating in a young woman going missing on the night of a major performance. The mystery has gone unsolved; the case is cold. And no one—least of all the girl’s peculiar, close-knit group of friends—is talking.

When Watson and Holmes join the theater program, the “accidents” start anew, giving them no choice but to throw themselves into the case. But as the complicated lines of friendship, love, and loyalty blur, time is running out—and tragedy waits in the wings.

A Question of Holmes is the fourth and final installment in author Brittany Cavallaro's Charlotte Holmes series. For the first time in this series, the story is told mostly from the perspective of Charlotte. Charlotte is coming to terms with herself after everything that she and Jamie have been through now that Lucien Moriarty's threat isn't hanging over their heads. Jamie wants to attend Oxford, so he is taking pre-college courses while Charlotte is trying to figure out what she is going to do with her life either with or without Jamie by her side. 

It is fair to say that there are a whole lot of obstacles for Charlotte and Jamie to overcome. Their relationship has never been what one would consider to be a healthy one. Charlotte was still fracturing, and she had to be strong in herself and who she was before she could project that self into a relationship. To make matters even more twisted, there's a 23 page long terms and conditions of what their relationship should be and what is expected of, mostly, Jamie. 

So, this wouldn't be a Holmes and Watson mystery if there wasn't a mystery at St. Genesis College for the two to unravel and solve before anyone else gets seriously hurt or worse. A college drama club is putting on Hamlet and there are some odd things going on. I was more interested in the other stuff than the actual mystery, but it was solid. I was just very appreciative that the villain was different. 

I think it's fair to say the ending was probably to be expected. After all, Charlotte has not had the best life and her issues need more time to resolve themselves, including with her brother and another mystery for which I won't spoil. Let's just say that it caught me by surprise as well. I'm not sure if there was a point to Aramita Holmes in this story, but there it is.