Friday, September 13, 2019

#Review - 29 Seconds by T.M. Logan #Thrillers / #Psychological

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Release Date: September 10, 2019
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Source: Publisher
Genre: Thrillers / Psychological

From T.M. Logan, the bestselling author of Lies, comes a sensational new thriller that explores what happens when a split second thought of revenge takes on a life of its own. 

“Give me one name. One person. And I will make them disappear.”

Sarah is a young professor struggling to prove herself in a workplace controlled by the charming and manipulative Alan Hawthorne. A renowned scholar and television host, Hawthorne rakes in million-dollar grants for the university where Sarah works—so his inappropriate treatment of female colleagues behind closed doors has gone unchallenged for years. And Sarah is his newest target.

When Hawthorne's advances become threatening, Sarah is left with nowhere to turn. Until the night she witnesses an attempted kidnapping of a young child on her drive home, and impulsively jumps in to intervene. The child’s father turns out to be a successful businessman with dangerous connections—and her act of bravery has put this powerful man in her debt. He gives Sarah a burner phone and an unbelievable offer. A once-in-a-lifetime deal that can make all her problems disappear.

No consequences. No traces. All it takes is a 29-second phone call.

Because everyone has a name to give. Don’t they?

Dr. Sarah Haywood is a woman with a doctorate of the arts, passionate, intelligent, driven and being completely stymied by her boss who is preventing her from what we would call a tenure-track position. Dr. Allen Hawthorne is a world renowned academic with several successful books, BBC specials, a beautiful wife, a lovely home, and his path is littered with the women he has assaulted, used, and destroyed if they spoke out about it. They call him bulletproof, a serial harasser, and abuser. He also controls Sarah's future at the university. 

Sarah has her own issues. Her husband has left her for another woman leaving her behind with (2) kids and a mortgage to deal with. Thankfully, her father is straight up awesome and willing to help her in anyway that he can. Sarah knows the rules for dealing with Alan. Rule # 1 - Don't ever be alone with him. Over and over again she tries to tell herself to stick to the rules and never allow for any situation where she is left alone with Alan. That includes parties at his home. Sarah has been dealing with Alan's sexual harassment, stalking, and holding promotions over her head for (2) years

The breaking point really comes when he takes credit for her idea, and then hires a male for the job that Sarah had her sights set on. He pretty much tells her sleep with me and I will give you what you want. Don't, and I will make your life miserable. Then the unthinkable happens. Sarah witnesses a kidnapping attempt of a young girl. She stops the event and ends up being owed a favor by the young girls wealthy and dangerous father. All she has to do is provide this man with one name. One name, one 29 second phone call and all her problems will go away. She knows that making this choice is unconscionable but could possibly solve all her problems or make them even worse. If that were not enough, something goes awry and suddenly the sense of real jeopardy kicks in and the suspense actually makes the book worth finishing.

29 Seconds is obviously created for the #MeToo movement especially after Harvey Weinstein's misdeeds have become so deeply embedded in our nightly news. The question is whether or not you would do what Sarah did by going to the dark side for revenge, or walking away from the job you love to avoid any further unwanted advances or stalking from your boss be it man, or woman. Yes, it does happen to both sexes folks. Women don't have the copyright on being harassed. What would you do? Her husband, as far as I am concerned, is a scum bag leaving her behind to take care of their children. 

By the time Sarah makes her choice, you find yourself holding your breath, praying that she can finally get what she deserves. From there the book races through twists like a roller coaster. However, I am sadly disappointed in the finale and conclusion. The book seems to hold its breath for something to happen to Sara and then it fast-forwards 4 weeks. I can't spoil what happens but it doesn't actually make any sense.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

#Review - A House of Rage and Sorrow by Sangu Mandanna #YA #SyFy

Series: Celestial Trilogy # 2
Format: Hardcover, 264 pages
Release Date: September 17, 2019
Publisher: Sky Pony
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult Fiction / Science Fiction

One kingdom. One crown. One family.

“Maybe it’s time the great House of Rey came to an end. After all, what are we now? Just a house of rage and sorrow.”

Esmae once wanted nothing more than to help her golden brother win the crown of Kali but that dream died with her best friend. Alexi broke her heart, and she vowed to destroy him for it. And with her sentient warship Titania beside her, how can she possibly fail?

As gods, beasts, and kingdoms choose sides, Alexi seeks out a weapon more devastating than even Titania. Past lives threaten the present. Old enemies claim their due. And Esmae cannot outrun the ghosts and the questions that haunt her. What really happened to her father? What was the third boon her mother asked of Amba? For in the shadows, lurking in wait, are secrets that will swallow her whole.

The House of Rey is at war. And the entire galaxy will bleed before the end.

A House of Rage and Sorrow is the second installment in Sangu Mandanna's Celestial Trilogy. The story picks up immediately from where A Spark of White Fire left off. Drawing on the Mahabharata and Indian mythology, Mandanna's trilogy takes the tropes of fate, love, and bargaining with the gods and shoots them to the stars. Fans of mythology and retellings will eat this up. You can feel the intensity of what is happening between Esmae and her family, especially her brother Alexi and her mother Kyra Rey. 

It has been (3) months since Esmae's best friend was killed in a duel with Alexi. It has been (3) months of rage and grief. The prophecy is finally coming true and as much as she did not want to accept it in the first book, she is coming to term with it now. Esmae is on a path of vengeance and honestly, she doesn't care who gets hurt in the crossfire. Esmae has been betrayed by almost everyone she trusted. Her brother who fears an equal. A mother who fears a curse. A King who wanted Alexi to win Titania, but which ended up going to Esmae after she won a competition for it. 

Titania the sentient starship that was created by two Gods and a King. We also get to see things from Titania’s perspective in this book. We see how she loves and protects Esmae, and despite just being a mechanical warship, she is a full-fledged character whose presence in the book makes it feel wholesome. This book is just as rife with tension as its predecessor and fills you with the same edginess as the first one.  

Mandanna could have held back in this sequel and waited until the final installment to unload. I am glad she didn't. This book is filled with many emotionally charged scenes. The ending of this book was very explosive. I can't wait to see how the author deals with everything and wraps it in the next book. This story was easily one of the fastest reads that I have finished this year and yes, I am eager for the finale.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

#Review - The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young #YALIT #Fantasy

Series: Sky in the Deep # 1
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Release Date: September 3, 2019
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Epic

The new gut-wrenching epic from the New York Times bestselling author of Sky in the Deep.

For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse.

For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.


Adrienne Young's The Girl the Sea Gave Back is a companion novel to the authors Sky in the Deep. Once again, the author dives deep into Norse mythology to tell her story. Apparently, this story takes place 10 years after Sky in the Deep. The story follows two main characters from rival clans: Tova is a tattoo-covered Truthtongue who is feared by the Svell clan for her ability to cast runes and see the web of fate. Halvard, the kid from the Rikki clan from the previous book, is now all grown up and has been made heir to the clan. Something he believes he is not worthy of. 

Tova was blessed/or cursed at birth to foresee the future using runes. Her tribe thought her dead and cast her out to the sea to their Gods when she was six. Curious, or destiny, she is found by a man named Jorrund from the Svell clan who raises her among his clan. The Svell perceive Truth Tongues to be bad omens. The Svell reluctantly allow her to remain while simultaneously trying to kill her and seek her guidance in a war with Halvard's Nadhir clan. When reading the runes, Tova accidentally sets in motion a series of events that will lead to bloodshed. Torn between guilt and loneliness, she is forced to take part in a blood feud with another tribe.

It is fair to say that Halvard was almost an after thought in this book. He is witness to a devastating loss and betrayal when there should have been peace. He spends a whole lot of time running from the Svell who want to kill him which ends up him meeting Tova who believes that Halvard must be saved so much that she joins his clan. Harvard and Tova have very little scenes together, although they think about each other a lot. His side of the story is more about him coming to terms with becoming the new leader of their clan. He feels unsure and incompetent but it is nice to see that everyone else from his clan see his potential.

The battle scenes in this book are brutal and bloody and the saving grace for the entire story. Some may argue that the romance is lacking in this book, and they might be right. Though, I might add that this did not bother me. The thing I didn’t enjoy: The time jumping threw me off it was so jarring because it went back 7 years, then 10 years, then 12 years. In a major WHOA moment, Nadhir clan combines the 2 clans we met in the 1st book – Riki and Aska together as one. On that point, there is a Eelyn, Fiske, and Iri sighting in this book. It is fair to say the ending leaves LOTS of room for more stories in this world.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

#Blog Tour/Review - Helix by Mary Ting #YALIT #Dystopian #Post-Apocalyptic

Series: International Sensory Assassin Network #2
Format: Kindle, 376 pages
Release Date: September 10th 2019
Publisher: Vesuvian Books
Source: XpressoTours
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
Alliances are forming. The resistance is growing. Everything is about to change.

With her memory still fragmented, Ava returns to the International Sensory Assassin Network (ISAN) to find the twin sister she never knew she had.

But as Ava hunts for information, she finds herself tangled in a web of yet more lies and conspiracy. The Helix serum may not be required to access her superpowers, and the number of male assassins—previously considered too volatile to tolerate Helix—is growing in every territory.
The more Ava uncovers, the more of a threat she becomes to ISAN. Her only salvation may be to join the rebels—if she isn’t killed first.


Helix, by author Mary Ting, is the second installment in the authors International Sensory Assassin Network series. ISAN introduced readers to a world that was destroyed by meteors. 50 years of radiation and turmoil followed. The former US is now run by a so-called Remnant Council broken up into 4 regions. Scientists discovered a unique compound from the meteors that advanced technology 100x what they would have had before the storm hit. Helix is a bit different from ISAN in that Rhett opens the story, not Ava. 

The story is also told by both Rhett and Ava. Rhett really needs Ava to find a way to remember her past. Rhett, along with Reyna and Ozzie, have been trying to help her along without risking her life in the process. Ava knows that Mr. Novak is onto her. He knows that she is lying about things that she has done over the course of this series. Ava is still team leader despite the fact that she's walking a dangerous path. Her team includes Justine, Brooke, and Tamara. 

Could one of her teammates be working against her? Ava is also trying to find her supposed twin sister who she found out about in the previous installment. If she can find her father, the man who is responsible for Helix, she may uncover the answers to the questions that she's been dying to ask. One of those is why is she apparently a walking talking GPS? How can she see things nobody else can? Ava also has to face challenges from other antagonists who want to see Ava go down in flames.

In this story, we also discover more about Hope City which was briefly hit on in the first installment when Ava was taken by Rhett event though he knew that Ava was being scrutinized by Novak and others including her own teammates. Rhett is consumed by Ava which makes him a bit reckless, willing to take wild missions and leaps of fate in order to get Ava back to where he belongs she belongs; with him and the rebels.

Fairness in reviewing: Things seemed to be rehashed in this story when it was already covered in the previous installment. I felt that I was reading ISAN all over again, instead of moving forward in the series. The different is that Rhett takes large swaths of the story and we learn a bit more about Ava, the rebels, and the fact that Rhett is infatuated with Ava. The only real surprises were the kids that Ava and Rhett encountered, or saved, and there was a pesky little surprise towards the ending that made me want to read the next book soon. Ava and Rhett has similar goals: bring down the entire ISAN apparatus and free all those who have been injected with Helix.


Author Bio:
International Bestselling, Award-Winning Author Mary Ting writes soulful, spellbinding stories that excite the imagination and captivate readers all over the world. Her books run a wide range of genres and her storytelling talents have won her a devoted legion of fans and garnered critical praise.

Becoming an author happened by chance. It was a way to grieve the death of her beloved grandmother, and inspired by a dream she had in high school. After realizing she wanted to become a full-time author, Mary retired from teaching after twenty years. She also had the privilege of touring with the Magic Johnson Foundation to promote literacy and her children's chapter book: No Bullies Allowed.

Mary resides in Southern California with her husband, two children, and two little dogs, Mochi and Mocha. She enjoys oil painting and making jewelry.



Monday, September 9, 2019

#Review - There Will Come a Darkness by Katy Rose Pool #YALit #Fantasy

Series: The Age of Darkness (#1)
Format: Hardcover, 496 pages
Release Date: September 3, 2019
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Epic

Six of Crows meets Graceling with a dash of Winter is Coming in this showstopping debut YA fantasy!

For over two thousand years, the Seven Prophets guided humanity. Using their visions of the future, they ended wars and united nations—until the day, one hundred years ago, when the Prophets disappeared. All they left behind is one final, secret prophecy, foretelling an Age of Darkness and the birth of a new Prophet who could be the world's salvation . . . or the cause of its destruction.

As chaos takes hold, five lives are set on a collision course: a prince exiled from his kingdom; a ruthless killer known as the Pale Hand; a once-faithful leader torn between his duty and his heart; a reckless gambler with the power to find anything or anyone; and a dying girl on the verge of giving up. One of them—or all of them—could break the world. Will they be savior or destroyer?


Katy Rose Pool's There Will Come a Darkness is the authors debut novel & the first installment in her Age of Darkness trilogy. Pool brings a new spin to the idea of prophecies and chosen ones.  The setup with its setting reminiscent of ancient Greece is also intriguing. For generations, Seven Prophets guided humanity. Using their visions of the future, they ended wars and united nations―until the day, one hundred years ago, when the Prophets disappeared. 

All they left behind was one final, secret prophecy, foretelling an Age of Darkness and the birth of a new Prophet who could be the world’s salvation . . . or the cause of its destruction. As chaos takes hold, five souls are set on a collision course:

Hassan a prince exiled from his kingdom.
Ephyra a ruthless killer known as the Pale Hand.
Jude a once-faithful leader torn between his duty and his heart.
Anton a reckless gambler with the power to find anything or anyone.
And Beru a dying girl on the verge of giving up.

One of them―or all of them―could break the world. Will they be savior or destroyer?

In the beginning I did struggle a bit because there were (5) different points of view, each with their own story line. Pool has created a world where some, not all, are Graced with special abilities that fall into (4) categories: Grace of Heart, Blood, Mind, and Sight). The villains of the story are a radical group called the Witnesses. They are led by a man calling himself Hierophant. Hierophant is intent on ridding the world of anyone with Grace which would lead to what is being called the Age of Darkness. 

Ephyra is dedicated to her sister Beru. She is a Grace of Blood but instead of being someone who is a healer, she has become the killer known as Pale Hand. Those with the Grace of Blood are able to give and take energy to heal or to harm. Killing monsters, or those who deserve to die, is turning her into one. Ephyra is morally gray who has done some truly crappy things to keep her sister alive. Ephyra is approached by a mysterious woman who claims there is a way to save Beru. She must, however, put her trust in someone which isn't always easy. Ephyra has been compared to a plethora of other series characters but, in the end, she is probably the one character I most feel for because of what she's had to do to keep her sister alive.

Beru is the one character who is without any Grace that we know of. (There's still two more books so we shall see if that changes.) She's been relying on her sister to take care of her for years now. The sisters really do have a tragic backstory that I won't spoil. They are constantly on the run, and Beru feels as though Ephyra would be better off without having to stay with her to ensure she lives. Beru's best moments come later in the book when she undertakes her own journey of self and acceptance that she has her own path to take without her sister around. 

Jude is a Paladin who was raised from an early age to play a role in the coming age of darkness. As the heir to the title of Keeper of the Word, he is sworn to protect the last prophet with his life. But, when the Prophets disappeared, the Paladin fled the world to their own island. Did they leave the last prophet to his/her own demise? Jude is also a Grace of Heart which enhances strength, agility speed and senses. Grace of Heart are elite fighters. With a rumor spreading that the Hierophant may have been one of the Order of Light acolyte's, he's already taken one of the 6 prophetic cities, Jude and his Keepers may be forced into fighting a battle against the spreading darkness. 

Anton is a very curious Grace. He has the Grace of Sight which senses and locates living beings. He has much, much more to him than that. But, he can't use his grace without seeing his own brother trying to drown him who is tries to stay one step ahead of at all times. Anton is ruthless about his survival and has no time for prophecies, but that's what happens to him. Anton's past relating to his brother leads him to direct confrontation with a woman willing to train him how to use his sight, the Hierophant who wants him, and Jude who learns Anton's greatest secret. 

Crown Prince of Herat Hassan lost his home and his parents to the Hierophant and Witnesses. Hassan managed to land in Pallas Athos, one of the Holy Cities, with his aunt where he years to return home and save his parents. Hassan is not one of the Graced. But, his eye open to the plights of his people when he crosses paths with a certain Herati refugee who gets Hassan's blood boiling. Not being Graced like his parents is something he struggles with mightily. Hassan's relationship with Khepri is heart-warming. He's a prince, she's a solder, but they are dynamic together. 

Overall, I have to say it is a good thing that I take copious notes when I am reading. I can easily break down each of the 5 main characters plus some really important secondary characters and not feel as though I lost something in translation. This is a huge undertaking by the author to feature 5 distinct characters with the weight of the world on their shoulders. Each of them have a destiny whether they want it or not. Each of these characters could easily become main characters in a flick of a pen.

Friday, September 6, 2019

#Review - A Jewel Bright Sea by Claire O'Dell #Romance #Fantasy

Series: Mage and Empire #1
Format: Kindle, 328 pages
Release Date: September 3rd 2019
Publisher: Rebel Base Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Romantic Fantasy

A whirlwind of intrigue, lies, politics, and adventure swirls around one woman—and the prize she’s been sent to reclaim . . .
It was her talent for tracking magic that got Anna Zhdanov sent to catch a thief. A scholar’s daughter sold as a bond servant, she has no desire to recover the Emperor’s jewel for herself. But a chance to earn her freedom has driven her to the untamed Andelizien province, awash with warm breezes, lapping waves, and more danger than she could possibly guess.

Within days her cover as an indolent noblewoman is in question, and it’s clear there’s more to Anna’s task than she knows. Soon she’s the captive of the unpredictable pirate captain Andreas Koszenmarc, hunted by the Emperor’s guard, besieged by a brigand queen, and at odds with her only friend. She must trust someone if she is to survive. But when all that’s certain is that everyone is hiding something, it’s no simple thing to choose . . .

A Jewel Bright Sea, by author Claire O'Dell, is the first installment in the authors Mage and Empire series. A talent for tracking magic gets Anna Zhdanov sent to catch a thief. A scholar’s daughter sold as a bond servant, she has no desire to recover the Emperor’s jewel for herself. But a chance to earn her freedom has driven her to the untamed Eddalyon province, awash with warm breezes, lapping waves, and more danger than she could possibly guess.

After 3 months of searching for the slippery thief Aldo Sarresz who stole from the Emperor, her cover as an indolent noblewoman named Lady Vrou Ijana is in question. It’s clear there’s more to Anna’s task than she knows. Soon she’s the captive of the unpredictable pirate captain Andreas Koszenmarc, hunted by the Emperor’s guard, besieged by a brigand queen, and at odds with her only friend. She must trust someone if she is to survive. But when all that’s certain is that everyone is hiding something, it’s no simple thing to choose . .

Koszenmarc is the second son of a Duke who turned his back on all that royalty is supposed to come with. He put together a fleet of ships, a group of pirates who are loyal to him, and a twisted relationship with a woman named Isana Druss who calls herself a Queen of Eddelyon. As a reader, you have to start asking questions almost immediately. Why didn't Anna and Mate have proper documents? Why all the secrecy? Why did Lord Brun insist that Anna play Vrou Ijana? Is Mate really her friend and ally, or another counter to thwart her in every way? 

Interesting story filled with magic, pirates, action & adventure, and a bit of romance. The sequel to this book is called The Empire's Edge. The book will be released June 9th 2020 by Rebel Base Books. Will be interesting to see what happens next to Anna.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

#Review - Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin #YALit #Fantasy

Series: Serpent & Dove #1
Format: Hardcover, 528 pages
Release Date: September 3, 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / 
Wizards & Witches

Bound as one, to love, honor, or burn. Book one of a stunning fantasy duology, this tale of witchcraft and forbidden love is perfect for fans of Kendare Blake and Sara Holland.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

As a huntsman of the Church, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. But when Lou pulls a wicked stunt, the two are forced into an impossible situation—marriage. Lou, unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, must make a choice. And love makes fools of us all.

Set in a world of powerful women, dark magic, and off-the-charts romance, book one of this stunning fantasy duology will leave readers burning for more.

Serpent and Dove is the first part of a two part duology by author Shelby Mahurin. The story is set in a kingdom called Belterra, which is essentially a fantasy version of historical France. Witches are being hunted by Chasseurs, a special brand of police enforcement sworn to the Church who dedicate their lives to hunting witches. Two years ago, Louise "Lou" Le Blanc, a Dames Blanches, fled her life of witchery to not only save lives, but to hide from her own coven. She ended up in Cesarine where she becomes a thief along with her best friend Cosette (Coco). 

After an extremely public and compromising incident, Louise finds herself in the most constricting of all unions: marriage to a Chasseur. Reid Diggory is a Chasseur, a witch-hunter. He swore an oath that, above all, he will not allow a witch to live. This life is all he has known since the Archbishop took him in as a child and he excels at it. He's quickly made his way to the top as Captain and not even his first love will stand in between him an his true purpose. Reid sees the world in black and white, good and evil, witches and the rest of the mortals, even though the rumor is that everyone once lived in harmony. 

Reid has no clue that the woman he is forced to marry is also his enemy. For a witch who renounced magic, Lou finds herself entangled with an awful lot of magic time and time again. Deeply rooted in French folklore and the witch trials of the seventeenth century, the characters and setting of the story build a rich, exquisitely detailed world steeped in historical atmosphere and bolstered by elements of magic and intrigue. This book follows the impossible romance between these two and all the consequences that follow it. 

The city of Cesarine may be guarded by its huntsmen, but the true power of this story lies with the women: powerful bonds of sisterhood and covens, sacred magic, and feminine strength build a world where men may appear to have control, but where women truly reign. Lou takes girl power to a new level with her fiery wit and fierce independence.

Whether she’s conning the village baker out of cinnamon rolls or embarrassing Reid with a rendition of the local pub song, Lou’s unbridled spirit makes her a perfect example of a strong female protagonist. Reid and Lou’s slow burn romance is full of tension, humor, and playfulness. Lou’s irreverent attitude pairs with Reid’s honorable upbringing for a chemistry hotter than the flames of a stake.