Friday, September 24, 2021

#Review - Teaching the King (Witchling Academy, #1) by D.D. Chance #Fantasy #Romance

Series: Witchling Academy # 1
Format: Kindle
Release Date: September 29, 2021
Publisher: Elewyn Publishing
Source: Publisher
Genre: Fantasy / Romance

How do you break a promise to the King of the Fae?
Yeah. Good luck with that.

For centuries, Hogan witches were bound in a trumped-up contract to teach magic to the High King of the Fae. Then, a hundred years ago, we escaped that prison sentence and never looked back.

Now there's a new king in town. Brutally gorgeous, mouthwateringly fierce—and seriously pissed.

He's coming for me, and he won't take no for an answer.

But I don't care how much Mr. Tall, Dark, and Deadly makes my heart pound and head spin, a ridiculously unwanted side effect of that goddess-forsaken contract. I've dedicated my life to creating a safe haven for those in need—whether they’re rogue witches escaping their persecutors or monsters desperate for somewhere to hide. If I leave my tavern unprotected, every last soul I’ve helped will be hunted down, recaptured. Killed.

Not gonna happen.

So I'll just have to find the contract that’s bound me to the most deviously sexy ruler across all the realms…and break it for good.

Before the High King of the Fae breaks me.

Teaching the King is the first installment in author D.D. Chance's Witchling Academy series. 25-year-old Belle Hogan first appeared in the authors finale of the Monster Academy series. Now, she gets her own series and her own problems and even more sexier and dangerous Fae who refuses to take no for an answer. Belle is the owner/operator of White Crane Tavern. She's a healer as well as a barkeep, and she keeps the lights on for those who most need safety and security. 

For 100 years, the Hogan's have run the White Crane Tavern in the middle of the richest, most elite neighborhood in Boston where both Twyst Academy and Monster Hunter Academy are located. It's a safe place for Witches and monsters alike. Belle is the last of her line. Her grandmother is gone, and so is her mother, and she has no intention of swallowing her pride and returning to the coven of the White Mountains who would be shocked if they knew that the Hogans were right under their noses.

Whenever a new Fae king was crowned, a Hogan witch is supposed to travel to him and teach him witchling magic. 100 years ago, Belle's great-grandmother Reagan broke contract with the Fae and returned home leaving the Fae without a teacher and magic that is slowly fading. After years of avoiding her duties, Belle's time comes up when Aiden, the new King of Fae arrives at the Tavern and demands that she complete the Hogan agreement by teaching him magic. Refusal is not an option.

"The will come for you with shackles of steel and an emerald crown, and when they are fixed upon you, there is nothing you won't do for them."
For Aiden, he is in the middle of a war with dangerous wraiths and the worst thing could happen. His magic fails. Reagan Hogan supposedly gifted his grandfather with enough embedded magic into several precious artifacts to magically protect the High Fae for thousands of years. Thanks to his own fathers negligence, Aiden must travel to the human world and demand that whatever Hogan witch is alive, doesn't get to slip out of her commitment of teaching him and his people magic.

As I am the first reviewer out of the box, this is where I will end the summary of the book. I will say that this story alternates each chapter between Belle and Aiden. The situation between the two gets hot and heavy quickly, but don't let Belle fool you. She has a reason for agreeing to help Aiden. She knows her family needs to find a way to complete the contract so that she can be free, and so can any offspring she might have in the future. Especially since there has no seen benefits to her family helping the High Fae with magic. 

My final statement is this, there is a guest appearance in this book of a character you will know if you've read the authors previous series Monster Hunter Academy. I will also say that the book has two distinct cliffhangers one for each Aiden, and for Belle. In this case, the cliffhangers are a good way for me to remember to watch our for the sequel since I must know what's going to happen next, and what other troubles are in store for the couple. 

Thursday, September 23, 2021

#Review - Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson #YA #Fantasy

Series: Vespertine # 1
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages
Release Date: October 5, 2021
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Dark Fantasy

From the New York Times bestselling author of Sorcery of Thorns and An Enchantment of Ravens comes a thrilling new YA fantasy about a teen girl with mythic abilities who must defend her world against restless spirits of the dead.

The dead of Loraille do not rest.

Artemisia is training to be a Gray Sister, a nun who cleanses the bodies of the deceased so that their souls can pass on; otherwise, they will rise as spirits with a ravenous hunger for the living. She would rather deal with the dead than the living, who trade whispers about her scarred hands and troubled past.

When her convent is attacked by possessed soldiers, Artemisia defends it by awakening an ancient spirit bound to a saint’s relic. It is a revenant, a malevolent being that threatens to possess her the moment she drops her guard. Wielding its extraordinary power almost consumes her—but death has come to Loraille, and only a vespertine, a priestess trained to wield a high relic, has any chance of stopping it. With all knowledge of vespertines lost to time, Artemisia turns to the last remaining expert for help: the revenant itself.

As she unravels a sinister mystery of saints, secrets, and dark magic, her bond with the revenant grows. And when a hidden evil begins to surface, she discovers that facing this enemy might require her to betray everything she has been taught to believe—if the revenant doesn’t betray her first. 


"For the past three hundred years, the Gray sisters had carried out the sacred duty of tending to the dead. Souls that failed to received the necessary rites would eventually corrupt and rise as spirits instead of naturally passing on to the afterlife as they had done before the Sorrow."
Vespertine is the first installment in author Margaret Rogerson's Vespertine duology. This is a story that takes place in a place called Loraille. Artemisia of Naimes is training to be a Gray Sister, a nun who cleanses the bodies of the deceased so that their souls can pass on; otherwise, they will rise as spirits with a ravenous hunger for the living. She would rather deal with the dead than the living, who trade whispers about her scarred hands and troubled past. All Gray Sisters are required to go through Evaluation. 

This evaluation is done by Confessor Leander who sees something in Artemisia that makes her different from others. Another interesting dynamic; She has an upsetting history of trauma during her childhood when she was possessed by an Ashgrim spirit which is one of the Second Order spirits found below. When her convent is attacked by possessed soldiers, Artemisia defends it by awakening an ancient spirit bound to a saint’s relic. It is one of the Seven Revenants named Rathanael, a malevolent being that threatens to possess her the moment she drops her guard. 

Wielding its extraordinary power almost consumes her—but death has come to Loraille, and only a vespertine, a priestess trained to wield a high relic, has any chance of stopping it. With all knowledge of vespertines lost to time, Artemisia turns to the last remaining expert for help: the revenant itself. Vespertine’s haven’t been around for years. Artemisia must now fight to work with and not be possessed by the revenant while they search for and fight the dark forces plaguing Loraille.  

As she unravels a sinister mystery of saints, secrets, and dark magic, her bond with the revenant grows. Among politics and power-hungry people, war, and a threat that may consume her world, Artemisia and the Revenant, try to navigate into discovering who may be the true villain and that sometimes magic is not always bad or good. And holiness may hide a part of true villainy.

Artemisia is not described as beautiful, she's not skilled with a weapon, she doesn't have any special powers, except when combine with the Revenant. On the contrary, she's shy, traumatized by the sequels of childhood possession and abuse, socially anxious, physically scarred, and a recluse. She's basically lost everyone she's known, including the sisters of the convent when it is attacked and destroyed by possessed soldiers. Her banter with Rathanael is entertaining. He's as dangerous as any of his peers but not as malevolent, and he has the tongue of the most sarcastic and grumpy spirit you're going to find. 

The Hierarchy of Spirits:

First order: The order of the innocents. Shade, Wisp.

Second Order: Souls lost to the forces of nature. Gaunt- death by famine; Frostfain - death by exposure; Undine - death by drowning. Ashgrim - death by fire.  

Third Order: Souls lost to illness and disease. Feverling - death by fever; Witherking - death by wasting; Wretchling - death by flux; Blight Wraith - death by pestilence

Fourth Order: Souls lost to violence. Rivener- death by battle; Fury - death by murder; Penitent - death by execution; White Vicar - death of a slain cleric.

Fifth Order: The Seven Revenants:

Cimeliarch, the Bright

Architrave, the Dim

Cathethal, the Mad

Oremus, the Lost

Sarathiel, the Obscured

Malthas, the Hollow

Rathanael, the Scorned

I've been told that this is the first book in a duology, but I also felt like it did a fantastic job on standing on it's own. There are still threads left to be pulled on, but the conclusion is still a firm conclusion.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

#Review - Horseman: A Tale of Sleepy Hollow by Christina Henry #YA #Fantasy

Series: Standalone
Format: Paperback, 320 pages
Release Date: September 28, 2021
Publisher: Berkley Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Fantasy / Dark Fantasy / Retelling

In this atmospheric, terrifying novel that draws strongly from “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” the author of Alice and The Girl in Red works her trademark magic, spinning an engaging and frightening new story from a classic tale.

Everyone in Sleepy Hollow knows about the Horseman, but no one really believes in him. Not even Ben Van Brunt’s grandfather, Brom Bones, who was there when it was said the Horseman chased the upstart Crane out of town. Brom says that’s just legend, the village gossips talking.

Twenty years after those storied events, the village is a quiet place. Fourteen-year-old Ben loves to play “Sleepy Hollow boys,” reenacting the events Brom once lived through. But then Ben and a friend stumble across the headless body of a child in the woods near the village, and the sinister discovery makes Ben question everything the adults in Sleepy Hollow have ever said. Could the Horseman be real after all? Or does something even more sinister stalk the woods?

  "Sleepy Hollow believed in spirits and demons, because they lived side by side with those beings. The people of the town believed in magic. And why wouldn't they? Magic was woven into the fabric of the Hollow. It drifted in the air. It rode through the night on a fast horse."
Horseman: A Tale of Sleepy Hollow by author Christina Henry is retelling of sorts that takes place between 20, and 30 years after the original story. I shouldn't call this a retelling. It's more of let's check in on Sleepy Hollow, New York 20 years after the orignal story and see how the town is faring. The story's main character is 14-year-old Bente (Ben) Van Brandt, granddaughter of Abraham and Katrina Van Brandt. When Ben starts questioning what she's been told about her parents' deaths and the legend of the horseman, things get a little twisted.
For the record, the book is broken up into three parts, with the final part taking place 10 years after the start of the book. Ben and his friend Sander grew up listening to the tales of the Horseman as well as Ichabod Crane who was allegedly run out of town by a head less Horseman. Her grandfather always gets a chuckle out of the tale, but her grandmother looks like she wants to swat her husband. There is something these two know, but will not tell the truth about what really happened that caused Icabod Crane to disappear. 
But when a boy their age is found without his head in the woods, the quite town is shaken. Soon thereafter, she finds a sheep without its head and the body count continues to grow. Could the Horseman have returned? Ben soon starts to hear voices in the woods that pretty much warn evil away from her by claiming her as its own. The Hollow is pretty much stuck inside a bubble. While they do get visitors, they don't stay for long, and residents don't wander past the place where the track ends. 
Ben hasn't exactly had the easiest of lives. She lost her mother to the plague, and her father disappeared into the woods, and was never seen again. Ben doesn't fit into the role of what we would call feminine. In fact, Ben rages against the machine and her grandmothers desire for her to act like a lady. Ben idolizes his grandfather and wishes that she could find a place to be what she wants to be. Ben chooses to walk her own path even though it makes her a target of bullies since she's so tall, and lanky.  
As it becomes apparent to Ben that the truth of her parents death has been kept from him, she begins to become aware that there are many aspects of his family history he had no knowledge of. Will Ben be able to survive the increasing dangers and horrors that are set to come his way?
Recommendation: With all this being said, Horseman didn’t completely work for me. It might for someone else, but I'm not going to jump over my own two feet to wave the hurrah flag.


Of course I knew about the Horseman, no matter how much Katrina tried to keep it from me. If ever anyone brought up the subject within my hearing, Katrina would shush that person immediately, her eyes slanting in my direction as if to say, “Don’t speak of it in front of the child.”

 I found out everything I wanted to know about the Horseman anyway, because children always hear and see more than adults think they doe part about the Horseman looking for a head because he didn’t have one. Then Sander told me all about the schoolmaster who looked like a crane and how he tried to court Katrina and how one night the Horseman took the schoolmaster away, never to be seen again.

 I always thought of my grandparents as Katrina and Brom though they were my grandmother and grandfather, because the legend of the Horseman and the crane and Katrina and Brom were part of the fabric of the Hollow, something woven into our hearts and minds. I never called them by their names, of course-Brom wouldn’t have minded, but Katrina would have been very annoyed had I referred to her as anything except “Oma.”

 Whenever someone mentioned the Horseman, Brom would get a funny glint in his eye and sometimes chuckle to himself, and this made Katrina even more annoyed about the subject. I always had the feeling that Brom knew more about the Horseman than he was letting on. Later I discovered that, like so many things, this was both true and not true.

On the day that Cristoffel van den Berg was found in the woods without his head, Sander and I were playing Sleepy Hollow Boys by the creek. This was a game that we played often. It would have been better if there were a large group but no one ever wanted to play with us.

“All right, I’ll be Brom Bones chasing the pig and you be Markus Baas and climb that tree when the pig gets close,” I said, pointing to a maple with low branches that Sander could easily reach.

 He was still shorter than me, a fact that never failed to irritate him. We were both fourteen and he thought that he should have started shooting up like some of the other boys in the Hollow.

 “Why are you always Brom Bones?” Sander asked, scrunching up his face. “I’m always the one getting chased up a tree or having ale dumped on my head.”

 “He’s my opa,” I said. “Why shouldn’t I play him?”

Sander kicked a rock off the bank and it tumbled into the stream, startling a small frog lurking just under the surface.

“It’s boring if I never get to be the hero,” Sander said.

I realized that he was always the one getting kicked around (because my opa could be a bit of a bully-I knew this even though I loved him more than anyone in the world-and our games were always about young Brom Bones and his gang). Since Sander was my only friend and I didn’t want to lose him, I decided to let him have his way-at least just this once. However, it was important that I maintain the upper hand (“a Van Brunt never bows his head for anyone,” as Brom always said), so I made a show of great reluctance.

“Well, I suppose,” I said. “But it’s a lot harder, you know. You have to run very fast and laugh at the same time and also pretend that you’re chasing a pig and you have to make the pig noises properly. And you have to laugh like my opa-that great big laugh that he has. Can you really do all that?”

 Sander’s blue eyes lit up. “I can, I really can!”

 “All right,” I said, making a great show of not believing him. “I’ll stand over here and you go a little ways in that direction and then come back, driving the pig.”

Sander obediently trotted in the direction of the village and turned around, puffing himself up so that he appeared larger.

Sander ran toward me, laughing as loud as he could. It was all right but he didn’t really sound like my opa. Nobody sounded like Brom, if truth be told. Brom’s laugh was a rumble of thunder that rolled closer and closer until it broke over you.

“Don’t forget to make the pig noises, too,” I said.

“Stop worrying about what I’m doing,” he said. “You’re supposed to be Markus Baas walking along without a clue, carrying all the meat for dinner in a basket for Arabella Visser.”

I turned my back on Sander and pretended to be carrying a basket, a simpering look on my face even though Sander couldn’t see my expression. Men courting women always looked like sheep to me, their dignity drifting away as they bowed and scraped. Markus Baas looked like a sheep anyway, with his broad blank face and no chin to speak of. Whenever he saw Brom he’d frown and try to look fierce. Brom always laughed at him, though, because Brom laughed at everything, and the idea of Markus Baas being fierce was too silly to contemplate.

Sander began to snort, but since his voice wasn’t too deep he didn’t really sound like a pig-more like a small dog whining in the parlor.

I turned around, ready to tell Sander off and demonstrate proper pig-snorting noises. That’s when I heard them.

Horses. Several of them, by the sound of it, and hurrying in our direction.

Sander obviously hadn’t heard them yet, for he was still galloping toward me, waving his arms before him and making his bad pig noises.

“Stop!” I said, holding my hands up.

He halted, looking dejected. “I wasn’t that bad, Ben.”

“That’s not it,” I said, indicating he should come closer. “Listen.”

“Horses,” he said. “Moving fast.”

“I wonder where they’re going in such a hurry,” I said. “Come on. Let’s get down onto the bank so they won’t see us from the trail.”


“Why?” Sander asked.


“So that they don’t see us, like I said.”


“But why don’t we want them to see us?”


“Because,” I said, impatiently waving at Sander to follow my lead. “If they see us they might tell us off for being in the woods. You know most of the villagers think the woods are haunted.”


“That’s stupid,” Sander said. “We’re out here all the time and we’ve never found anything haunted.”


“Exactly,” I said, though that wasn’t precisely true. I had heard something, once, and sometimes I felt someone watching us while we played. The watching someone never felt menacing, though.


“Though the Horseman lives in the forest, he doesn’t live anywhere near here,” Sander continued. “And of course there are witches and goblins, even though we’ve never seen them.”


“Yes, yes,” I said. “But not here, right? We’re perfectly safe here. So just get down on the bank unless you want our game ruined by some spoiling adult telling us off.”


I told Sander that we were hiding because we didn’t want to get in trouble, but really I wanted to know where the riders were going in such a hurry. I’d never find out if they caught sight of us. Adults had an annoying tendency to tell children to stay out of their business.


We hunkered into the place where the bank sloped down

toward the stream. I had to keep my legs tucked up under me or else my shoes would end up in the water, and Katrina would twist my ear if I came home with wet socks.


The stream where we liked to play ran roughly along the same path as the main track through the woods. The track was mostly used by hunters, and even on horseback they never went past a certain point where the trees got very thick. Beyond that place was the home of the witches and the goblins and the Horseman, so no one dared go farther. I knew that wherever the riders were headed couldn’t be much beyond a mile past where Sander and I peeked over the top of the bank.


A few moments after we slipped into place, the group of horses galloped past. There were about half a dozen men-among them, to my great surprise, Brom. Brom had so many duties around the farm that he generally left the daily business of the village to other men. Whatever was happening must be serious to take him away during harvest time.


Not one of them glanced left or right, so they didn’t notice the tops of our heads. They didn’t seem to notice anything. They all appeared grim, especially my opa, who never looked grim for anything.


“Let’s go,” I said, scrambling up over the top of the bank. I noticed then that there was mud all down the front of my jacket. Katrina would twist my ear for sure. “If we run we can catch up to them.”


“What for?” Sander asked. Sander was a little heavier than me and he didn’t like to run if he could help it.


“Didn’t you see them?” I said. “Something’s happened. That’s not a hunting party.”


“So?” Sander said, looking up at the sky. “It’s nearly dinnertime. We should go back.”


I could tell that now that his chance to play Brom Bones had been ruined, he was thinking about his midday meal and didn’t give a fig for what might be happening in the woods. I, on the other hand, was deeply curious about what might set a party of men off in such a hurry. It wasn’t as if exciting things happened in the Hollow every day. Most days the town was just as sleepy as its name. Despite this-or perhaps because of it-I was always curious about everything, and Katrina often reminded me that it wasn’t a virtue.


“Let’s just follow for a bit,” I said. “If they go too far we can turn back.”


Sander sighed. He really didn’t want to go, but I was his only friend the same as he was mine.


“Fine,” he said. “I’ll go a short way with you. But I’m getting hungry, and if nothing interesting happens soon I’m going home.”


“Very well,” I said, knowing that he wouldn’t go home until I did, and I didn’t plan on turning around until I’d discovered what the party of horsemen was chasing.


We stayed close to the stream, keeping our ears pricked for the sounds of men or horses. Whatever the adults were about, they surely wouldn’t want children nearby-it was always that way whenever anything interesting occurred-and so we’d have to keep our presence a secret.


“If you hear anyone approaching, just hide behind a tree,” I said.


“I know,” Sander said. He had mud all down the front of his jacket, too, and he hadn’t noticed it yet. His mother would tell him off over it for hours. Her temper was the stuff of legends in the Hollow.


We had only walked for about fifteen minutes when we heard the horses. They were snorting and whinnying low, and their hooves clopped on the ground like they were pawing and trying to get away from their masters.


“The horses are upset,” I whispered to Sander. We couldn’t see anything yet. I wondered what had bothered the animals so much.


“Shh,” Sander said. “They’ll hear us.”


“They won’t hear us over that noise,” I said.


“I thought you wanted to sneak up on them so they wouldn’t send us away?” he said.


I pressed my lips together and didn’t respond, which was what I always did when Sander was right about something.


The trees were huddled close together, chestnut and sugar maple and ash, their leaves just starting to curl at the edges and shift from their summer green to their autumn colors. The sky was covered in a patchwork of clouds shifting over the sun, casting strange shadows. Sander and I crept side by side, our shoulders touching, staying close to the tree trunks so we could hide behind them if we saw anyone ahead. Our steps were silent from long practice at sneaking about where we were not supposed to be.


I heard the murmur of men’s voices before I saw them, followed immediately by a smell that was something like a butchered deer, only worse. I covered my mouth and nose with my hand, breathing in the scent of earth instead of whatever half-rotten thing the men had discovered. My palms were covered in drying mud from the riverbank.


The men were standing on the track in a half circle, their backs to us. Brom was taller than any of them, and even though he was the oldest, his shoulders were the broadest, too. He still wore his hair in a queue like he had when he was young, and the only way to tell he wasn’t a young man were the streaks of gray in the black. I couldn’t make out the other five men with their faces turned away from us-they all wore green or brown wool coats and breeches and high leather boots, the same style as twenty years before. There were miniatures and sketches of Katrina and Brom in the house from when they were younger, and while their faces had changed, their fashions had not. Many things never changed in the Hollow, and clothing was one of them.


“I want to see what they’re looking at.” I whispered close to Sander’s ear and he batted at me like I was an annoying fly.


His nose was crumpled and he looked a little green. “I don’t. It smells terrible.”


“Fine,” I said, annoyed. Sander was my only friend but sometimes he lacked a sense of adventure. “You stay here.”


“Wait,” he said in a low whisper as I crept ahead of him. “Don’t go so close.”


I turned back and flapped my hand at him, indicating he should stay. Then I pointed up at one of the maples nearby. It was a big one, with a broad base and long branches that protruded almost over the track. I hooked my legs around the trunk and shimmied up until I could grab a nearby branch, then quickly climbed until I could see the tops of the men’s heads through the leaves. I still couldn’t quite see what they were looking at, though, so I draped over one of the branches and scooted along until I had a better look.


As soon as I saw it, I wished I’d stayed on the ground with Sander.


Just beyond the circle of men was a boy-or rather, what was left of a boy. He lay on his side, like a rag doll that’s been tossed in a corner by a careless child, one leg half-folded. A deep sadness welled up in me at the sight of him lying there, forgotten rubbish instead of a boy.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

#Review - Narcosis Room by Louise Cypress #YA #Contemporary

Series: Standalone
Format: Kindle, 282 pages
Release Date: February 19th 2019
Publisher: Owl Hollow Press
Source: Publisher intermediary
Genre: Young Adult

Total Recall meets Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies.

Sleep for three months and make your problems go away.

Ellie Savage is used to promises. Her dermatologist dad and her psychiatrist mom run the Narcosis Clinic, a medical facility famous for ultimate makeovers, where disturbing issues are resolved while patients are beautified. Clients like pop star Dean Mathews are grateful to narcosis for healing their deepest wounds. Ellie is her parents’ most ardent supporter until her dreams become a nightmare. Ellie discovers that her true self has been shredded to bits by the scalpel and the only way for Ellie to remember is to forget everything she thinks she knows.


“Sleep for three months and make your problems go away. At the Narcosis Clinic, dreams really do come true.”

Author Louise Cypress's Narcosis Room is a mixture of mystery, suspense, and science fiction. Call it Total Recall meets Uglies if you like. This is a story that focuses on several characters like Ellie Savage, Owen, Dean Mathews, and Cole before reverting to mostly Ellie in the final sequence. The idea that you can sleep away treatments and trauma while someone basically fixes and reprograms your brain and body almost like an unconscious miracle cure that doesn't impact harshly on the patients overall well being and state of mind: well It really does sound too good to be true, doesn't it?
Ellie Savage is used to promises. Her dermatologist dad and her psychiatrist mom run the Narcosis Clinic, a medical facility famous for ultimate makeovers, where disturbing issues are resolved while patients are beautified. Ellie is her parents’ most ardent supporter until her dreams become a nightmare. Ellie discovers that her true self has been shredded to bits by the scalpel and the only way for Ellie to remember is to forget everything she thinks she knows. Even though her parents claim she has retrograde amnesia, there's just something damning about what happened to her and why.
Clients like pop star Dean Mathews are grateful to narcosis for healing their deepest wounds and to fix his stuttering that happened after his best friend left with his girlfriend. A chance encounter with Dean at a party leads Ellie to begin to question what is exactly happening to her during her therapy. Especially when she somehow finds a way to save Dean's life after he falls into a pool. Dean is a cool cat, and I am glad that he found Marley, and didn't get caught up in the past that could have ruined his career.
Cole is a boy who fell for Ellie, but ever since Ellie came back from boarding school, she's different, and has forgotten who her friends are including his sister Marley who was Ellie's best friend. One of the biggest mysteries in this story is why did Ellie's parents not do enough to protect her? How could they allow themselves to be put into a situation where Ellie is almost a Shepard Wife because of her past desire to have fun? When you stymie your own child, and make her into something entirely different, there should be penalties involved in making sure you don't do anything like this ever again.

Monday, September 20, 2021

#Review - A Sense of Danger (Section 47 #1) by Jennifer Estep #Fantasy #Romance

Series: Section 47 # 1
Format: Kindle, 367 pages
Release Date: November 16th 2021
Publisher: Jennifer Estep
Source: Author
Genre: Urban Fantasy


My name is Charlotte Locke, and I’m an analyst for Section 47, a secret government agency that tracks terrorists, criminals, and other paramortal bad guys who want to unleash their abilities on an unsuspecting mortal world. I have a magical form of synesthesia that senses danger and uncovers lies—making me a stealthy operative.

I’m trudging through another day when one of Section’s cleaners—assassins—takes an interest in me. I don’t need my synesthesia to realize that he is extremely dangerous and that he will do anything to achieve his goals—even if it means putting me in the line of fire.


I’m Desmond Percy, one of Section 47’s most lethal cleaners. I’m also a man on a mission, and I need Charlotte Locke’s skills to help me keep a promise, settle a score, and kill some extremely bad people.

Charlotte might not like me, but we’re stuck together until my mission is over. Still, the more time we spend together, the more I’m drawn to her. But at Section 47, you never know who you can trust—or who might want you dead.

A Sense of Danger is the first installment in author Jennifer Estep's Section 47 series. Things you should know. 1. This was previously released as audio only and now is being self published by the author. 2. The story alternatives between two main characters: Charlotte Locke is an analyst for Section 47. She has synesthesia magic which allows her to see errors in spreadsheets, reports, etc. Desmond Percy is one of the agency’s top cleaners; an assassin. His best friend and their entire team was killed on his last mission, and now he’s looking for revenge. 
Section 47's main mission is to gather intelligence and then use that information to prevent terror attacks, mass casualty events, and other serious, life-threatening catastrophes. Section 47 goes after those who used magic and enhanced weapons to commit their crimes. Charlotte is a legacy. Her father Jack Locke was a cleaner and her grandmother was an analyst who taught Charlotte a few interesting twists in how to find information she really needs. While working with Section 47 is interesting, she's still not a charmer, or a cleaner, which legacies tend to gravitate towards; like her own father.
Charlotte has been up to her ears with investigating Henrika Hyde for 3 months, but she's been ignored time and time again when it comes to getting a new job. Then comes the arrival of Desmond who carries his own baggage and needs Charlotte to help him find the people responsible for killing his entire team, while leaving him as the only survivor. Trouble quickly comes for Charlotte when she encounters 4 assassins after working her job as a waitress. While her synesthesia warns her of pending danger, and allows her to tell who is telling the truth or not, she isn't like Desmond, a galvanist, who can use energy around him to thwart attacks. 
Charlotte is soon pulled into Desmond's world, and finds that she's not out of the frying pan just yet. She's become a target for those trying to keep quite the number of treasonous co-workers working for Section 47 a secret. She's been taken in by the dangerous Desmond and his Aussie accent which ends up with her being assigned as liaison for an active mission to stop Henrika Hyde and Adrian Anatoly. Lucky for Desmond, Charlotte isn't a Mary Sue. She can actually use a gun, and she has a brain for which God gave her and she uses her talents quite lovely thank you very much!
This book has its fair share of twists and surprises, but...if you pay attention, I am sure you will see the villains/traitors coming from a mile away. No spoilers in this review, hopefully, but I will say that I am happy that the author finally got around to releasing this as an actual book, and not just audiobook. It also appears as though this isn't a standalone as originally thought, but part of a series and for that I am happy since the ending leaves room for plenty of more Charlotte and Desmond adventures. On a side note, if the author removed chapters 34-36 from the book, I would have like it a whole lot more. Hashtag #sorrynotsorry.
P.S. Since this book has already been out in the world, I found myself not worrying about posting my review before the actual release date in November.  Thank you to the author for releasing this in Kindle form, and providing a copy of this book for an honest review.

Friday, September 17, 2021

#Review - The Light in Hidden Places by Sharon Cameron #Historical #Holocaust

Series: Standalone
Format: Paperback, 400 pages
Release Date: September 7, 2021
Publisher: Scholastic Inc
Source: Publisher
Genre: Historical / Holocaust

The extraordinary story of Stefania Podgórska, a Polish teenager who chose bravery and humanity by hiding thirteen Jews in her attic during WWII, from #1 New York Times bestselling author Sharon Cameron -- now a Reese's Book Club YA Pick!

One knock at the door, and Stefania has a choice to make...

It is 1943, and for four years, sixteen-year-old Stefania has been working for the Diamant family in their grocery store in Przemysl, Poland, singing her way into their lives and hearts. She has even made a promise to one of their sons, Izio -- a betrothal they must keep secret since she is Catholic and the Diamants are Jewish.

But everything changes when the German army invades Przemysl. The Diamants are forced into the ghetto, and Stefania is alone in an occupied city, the only one left to care for Helena, her six-year-old sister. And then comes the knock at the door. Izio's brother Max has jumped from the train headed to a death camp. Stefania and Helena make the extraordinary decision to hide Max, and eventually twelve more Jews. Then they must wait, every day, for the next knock at the door, the one that will mean death. When the knock finally comes, it is two Nazi officers, requisitioning Stefania's house for the German army.

With two Nazis below, thirteen hidden Jews above, and a little sister by her side, Stefania has one more excruciating choice to make.

This remarkable tale of courage and humanity, based on a true story, is now a Reese's Book Club YA Pick!

Author Sharon Cameron's The Light in Hidden Places is the remarkable story about a true heroine named Stefania PodgórskaStefania Podgórska (June 2, 1921 – September 29, 2018) and her sister Helena Podgórska (born 1935), came from a Catholic farming family near Przemyśl in southeastern Poland. During the Holocaust, Stefania and Helena harbored thirteen Jewish men, women and children in the attic of their home for two-and-a-half years. Both were later honored as the Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem as well as by the Jewish and Polish organizations in North America, for their wartime heroism.

The story in this book takes place between 1936 and 1944. Stefania was one of nine children. She really had no voice. On a whim, when she was 13, she decided to leave home and stay with her older sister Marysia. Soon thereafter, she found a job working for Leah Diamant and her families grocery store in Przemysl, Poland, singing her way into their lives and hearts. She has even made a promise to one of their sons, Izio -- a betrothal they must keep secret since she is Catholic and the Diamants are Jewish. Stefania fell in love with the Diamant's, and couldn't understand the hatred that was thrown at them for being Jewish and believing in Moses rather than Jesus.
In 1939, the bombs fell on Poland, and the Germans invaded. Stefi's family scattered across Poland. Soon after the arrival of the Nazis, her mother and brother were taken to Salzburg for forced labor, while the Diamants were forced into a ghetto. The city she now calls home is divided by Russia and Germany and will remain that way until 1941 when Germans gain the upper hand and start on their mass murder spree of political adversaries, Romanovs, Ukrainians, and of course, Jews. On a trip back home, Stefania discovered that her younger sister Helene was left alone, and nobody was watching her or feeding her. 
So, she decided that she would try to take care of her sister. The two Podgórski sisters lived in Przemyśl alone in an apartment rented by Stefania, who was 17 at the time, as well as a roommate who was in and out. Stefania and Helena make the extraordinary decision to hide Max, who had escaped a death train, and eventually twelve more Jews. Then they waited, every day, for the next knock at the door, the one that will mean death. When the knock finally comes, it is two Nazi officers, requisitioning Stefania's house for the German army. 

For years they had to worry about getting caught. They even had an SS officer living next door! The rules were: Death to anyone who aids Jews; Death to anyone who harbors a Jew; Death to anyone who feeds a Jew; Death to anyone who provides transportation for a Jew; Death for anyone who takes money from a Jew; and Jews weren't allowed to keep their homes, or their businesses, or their bank accounts. Things got progressively worse in Poland with food shortages and people being taken from the Ghetto to trains and concentration camps where they would never been seen from again. 
For 8 months, the Jewish fugitives begged the sisters to flee for their safety. They refused. After an intensive 8 months of worrying when the other shoe would drop, and wondering when she and her sister wold be deported to Germany with her mother and brother, Germany flees Poland the the 13 Jews find themselves scattering to the wind. Except Max who would later become Stefania's husband. Cameron apparently used Stefania's bibliography to fill in holes while also knowing that she couldn't write a 1,000 documentary. There was also a movie made about Stefania called Hidden in Silence.

It is fair to give Stefania a whole lot of accolades for what she did. But never, and I mean, never forget Helene who could have destroyed the entire setup up if she had told the wrong person. I am grateful that Sharon Cameron did so much work to gather all the information and put it in this book. It was utterly beautiful. I believe she did a good job with what she had to deal with and the fact that she took time to travel to Poland to walk in Stefania's shoes.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

#Review - High Moon (An Urban Fantasy Anthology) Various Authors

Series: Anthology
Format: Kindle, 660 pages
Release Date: September 14th 2021
Publisher: Wetknee Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Come howl at the moon with these all-new tales of wolves in the city!

This thrilling collection contains eight exclusive novellas by today's top urban-fantasy authors:



"Fox Hunt" by Aimee Easterling - Mai Fairchild's life revolves around acting human and teaching fencing to middleschoolers and protecting her sister Kira who is her only remaining relative. Then a student goes missing just as werewolves start breathing down her neck and fighting over who controls the city. One of them has intentions of making Mai his mate. Can she hunt the hunters without revealing her identity as a fox? Can she avoid being caught up in Werewolf politics? Can she save her sister from being used as a pawn? **This is a new to me author. This is a prequel to “Wolf’s Bane” (Moon Marked Series). 

Rating: 3 1/2 Gizmos


"Wereabouts Unknown" by Jenn Stark - Having strutted her way from cop to carny fortune teller to the newest, most fabulous member of a group of Tarot mystics, and Sara Wilde's best friend, Nikki Dawes has the world in the palms of her bedazzle-gloved hands. But now a pack of displaced werewolves is relying on her to find the rest of their kind who was left behind by the former Moon. Can she reunite those snarly, sexy beasts in time to win the war on magic? **I will literally gobble up anything this author writes no matter what name she writes under. There are some guest appearances like Aleksander Kreios, Simon the Fool, and Armaeus the Magician, as well as a brief appearance by Sara Wilde. 

Rating: 4 Gizmos


"Elemental Witch" by B R Kingsolver - After a magical disaster puts Joanna's future in jeopardy, the Supernatural Council gives her a second chance at Midleton College. She is basically an indentured servant until the Council feels that she's no longer a threat. New friends, a hot wolf shifter, and a serene campus grow on her fast. Then some fool summons a demon which starts on a killing spree. Can Joanna clean up the mess before the demon kills her friends? **This is another new to me author. I know the author has written other series, but I haven't found any information about Joanna or whether or not this is a one time introduction to a new character. 

Rating: 3 1/2 Gizmos


"Dragon Tears" by Marina Finlayson - New wolf Nat Turner jumps at the chance to escape her controlling pack when she's offered a job as bodyguard to a powerful dragon who is about to throw a party that all his enemies will appear. But her dream job becomes a nightmare when she realizes she must also protect the magical gems known as dragon tears that contain his power. Because holy hell, does that man have a lot of enemies. **This is also a new to me author and I have no further information whether Nat and Gabriel Arquette appear in any other of the authors works.

Rating: 3 Gizmos


"Lunaticking" by Dale Ivan Smith - Sorcerer-Agent Elizabeth Marquez tracks illegal wolf-men manifestations while enforcing the magical laws that keep the hidden supernatural hidden. Shifter Chloe must find her kidnapped pack leader. Together, these two wielders of different magics must find the supernatural culprits behind both crimes, and stop a far greater one from happening. Elizabeth works for an organization called RUNE (Regulating Union of Normalizing Enchantments). Elizabeth and her partner Tully appear in the authors Agents of Sorcery series. She also appears in the anthology called Street Spells with the story called Silos.

Rating: 3 1/2 Gizmos


"Prowl" by N. R. Hairston - Wereskunk Anise is constantly ducking werewolves and vampires intent upon harvesting her high-dollar skunk oil. Skunk oil can heal almost any injury as well as allowing vampires do day walk. She also works with other Skunks in rescuing those held by vampires who love to drain skunks of their precious oil. Everything seems to be coming to a head when Brick, an Alpha Werewolf, decides to take an interest in Anise and ensure that nobody takes what they're not entitled to. Will alpha werewolf Brick really help, or is he just another poacher hunting her? *Note* According to the author, Anise and Brick are the stars of an upcoming series

Rating: 3 1/2 Gizmos


"Full Moon's Curse" by Jenn Windrow - Sometimes the cure is worse than the curse. Cursed by a witch on a power kick, Julia Monroe has twenty-four hours to kill the leader of the local coven named Kyoko Leno who just happens friends with her brother Julian. If she fails, she'll be forced to live as a wolf for the rest of her life. If she succeeds, she'll be excommunicated from her pack and her family. *There's a huge back story that needs to be linked to this story. Especially when characters like Alexis Black appear in the book. I've been told that if you want to know more about Alexis, then you need to read Evil's Unlikely Assassin.

Rating: 3 Gizmos


"A Myth in Moonlight" by Becca Andre - Leena, who has the ability to manipulate moon light, knows that mythical creatures don't exist - not in the modern magical world. She knows that if you believe something to be true, then chances are that the thing you believe in will come to life like werewolves. But when the old werewolf myth proves to have some...bite, she must reexamine her beliefs to break an improbable curse before it runs wild in Cincinnati.**If you read this story and like it, the author suggests reading Final Formula series.

Rating: 3 Gizmos