Friday, October 15, 2021

#Review - The Last Legacy by Adrienne Young #YA #Fantasy

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Release Date: September 7, 2021
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy

New York Times bestselling author Adrienne Young returns with The Last Legacy, a captivating standalone about family and blood ties, reinventing yourself, and controlling your own destiny.

When a letter from her uncle Henrik arrives on Bryn Roth's eighteenth birthday, summoning her back to Bastian, Bryn is eager to prove herself and finally take her place in her long-lost family.

Henrik has plans for Bryn, but she must win everyone’s trust if she wants to hold any power in the delicate architecture of the family. It doesn’t take long for her to see that the Roths are entangled in shadows. Despite their growing influence in upscale Bastian, their hands are still in the kind of dirty business that got Bryn’s parents killed years ago. With a forbidden romance to contend with and dangerous work ahead, the cost of being accepted into the Roths may be more than Bryn can pay.

The Last Legacy, by author Adrienne Young, is set in the same world as the authors Fable duology. In fact, the story takes place right after Namesake. For the past 14 years, Brynn Roth has been living with her great aunt Sariah learning to be the perfect lady while biding her time before she is called back to Bastian. On the day of her 18th birthday, Brynn receives a letter from her uncle Henrik Roth telling her it's time to come back home. Bastian is the largest, most influential city in the Unnamed Sea, but with the Narrows rising in influence, there's a shift happening. 

Where Fable explored the trading crew aspect of the Narrows and Namesake explored more of the merchant and guild realm, The Last Legacy takes readers into the notorious home of the Roths, a crime family that has made its mark on both the Narrows and the Unnamed Sea with its fake gem trade. Bryn is unsure what her contribution to the Roth family legacy will be but she is willing to fight and sacrifice to make a place for herself. The only question is; is this criminal family worth fighting for, or, is the boy who is just as trapped as she is in this grimy world worth everything she can give-- including her legacy.

But as she spends more time learning the family trade, she discovers that they are tangled up in several shady secrets, lies, and deception, and they may have been responsible for Bryn's parents deaths 14 years ago. The Roth family is rough around the edges, even if they dress nicely and have money. Henrik wants Bryn to help the family gain a merchant ring and become guild members, so she gets a reputable tailor to make customers clothes for everyone and she teaches them etiquette and manners. 

She also decides to try to reopen her mother's tea shop called Eden's Tea Shop where she is hoping to lure in the Merchant's Guild's best and gain her own freedom. She also has to find a way to save the boy she's fallen for Ezra, who was literally won by a dice game, and now is the most valuable asset of the Roth family. Her romance with Ezra was sweet, though I think it felt a bit rushed in some parts. Bryn must keep her wits at all times if she’s to outsmart her scheming uncle and the family business that wears itself like a chain around her neck. 

If her tea shoppe venture is not successful, she’ll be allied to another wealthy merchant family through marriage. If it is, she may have found a way to make her own way and her own fate. Bryn is a girl who comes into her own throughout this story. She starts out doing and being what's expected of her by her uncle. She finds a way to be her own character, her own person, and I think Fable would be proud of all that she accomplishes. If you've read the Fable duology, you might remember Holland, and if you pay attention closely, the author gives you a very few hints of Fable and her crew in the story. 

Thursday, October 14, 2021

#Review - The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes #YA Mystery #Thriller

Series: The Inheritance Games # 2
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Release Date: September 7, 2021
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult  / Mysteries / Thrillers

Intrigue, riches, and romance abound in this thrilling sequel to the beloved bestselling The Inheritance Games

The Inheritance Games ended with a bombshell, and now heiress Avery Grambs has to pick up the pieces and find the man who might hold the answers to all of her questions—including why Tobias Hawthorne left his entire fortune to Avery, a virtual stranger, rather than to his own daughters or grandsons. 

Thanks to a DNA test, Avery knows that she’s not a Hawthorne by blood, but clues pile up hinting at a deeper connection to the family than she had ever imagined. As the mystery grows and the plot thickens, Grayson and Jameson, two of the enigmatic and magnetic Hawthorne grandsons, continue to pull Avery in different directions. And there are threats lurking around every corner, as adversaries emerge who will stop at nothing to see Avery out of the picture—by any means necessary. 

With nonstop action, aspirational jet-setting, Knives Out-like family intrigue, swoonworthy romance, and billions of dollars hanging in the balance, The Hawthorne Legacy will thrill Jennifer Lynn Barnes fans and new readers alike.

The Hawthorne Legacy is the second installment in author Jennifer Lynn Barnes' The Inheritance Games. As Sherlock Holmes allegedly once said, "The games are afoot!" 3 weeks ago, Avery Grambs was scrapping by trying to survive High School and living in her car hoping she could find a scholarship and escape. Then she learned that she was heir to Texas billionaire and philanthropist Tobias Hawthorne which came with bodyguards, lawyers, and hatred aimed towards Avery.

Over the past few weeks, Avery, Jameson, Greyson, and Xavier Hawthorne have been roped into solving a mystery from the recently deceased Tobias who left each of them a piece of a larger puzzle. Even though older brother Nash has stepped aside, for the most part, he's still involved because of Avery's half sister Libby who has her own issues. Avery, who is not related to the Hawthorne's, must move into sprawling Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man's touch--and his love of puzzles, riddles, secret passageways, hidden components, and codes.  

The catch is that if she leaves before the year is up, she gets nothing. If she dies before the year is up, she gets nothing. She also has to deal with Jameson, Grayson, and Xavier who have decided that Avery isn't a conwoman, but someone who truly wants to do the right thing even if it means a twisted love triangle that develops. There's never a dull moment in Hawthorne House. It seems as though everyone has secrets, and everyone has an agenda, and everyone want something, even if it means getting in Avery's way at every turn. 

With Rebecca Laughlin and Thea Calligans working with Xavier on a secretive plan, Avery makes a deal with both Grayson and Jameson to work together without stepping on each others toes. In an interesting twist, Avery's best friend Max arrives, and Avery tries to solve the secretive message her own mother left behind about the day she was born. One of the key mysteries of this book is whether or not Toby Hawthorne is still alive? This takes Avery on a journey of exploration, and danger, and apparently someone is desperate enough to put together scheme after scheme to stop her before she can reach her goals. 

I've said this previously, but this book reminds me of Knives Out with twists, and shocks, and surprises. There's literally a cast of dozens who could either be villains or allies of Avery depending on what the situation is. The only person in this entire book Avery can trust is Max who I adore because she is just straight up fun and doesn't give a damn who she offends. As I was reading the final chapters, I was praying that Avery finds time to deal her own brand of payback to a whole cast of characters. I eagerly await the final chapter in this trilogy called The Final Gamble coming in 2022.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

#Review - The Witch Hunter (Jessica Niemi #1) by Max Seeck #Mystery #Supernatural

Series: Jessica Niemi # 1
Format: Paperback, 400 pages
Release Date:  October 27th 2020
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Publisher
Genre: Mystery / Supernatural

A shocking murder in an affluent Helsinki suburb has ties to the occult in this thrilling US debut from Finnish author Max Seeck.

A bestselling author’s wife has been found dead in a gorgeous black evening gown, sitting at the head of a formally set dinner table. Her most chilling feature - her face is frozen in a ghastly smile.

At first it seems as though a deranged psychopath is reenacting the gruesome murders from the victim’s husband’s bestseller, The Witch Hunter. But investigator Jessica Niemi soon realizes she’s not looking for a single killer but rather dozens of believers in a sinister form of witchcraft.

They know her every move and are always one step ahead. As the bodies start piling up, Jessica knows they won’t stop until they get what they want. And when her dark past comes to light, Jessica finds herself battling her own demons while desperately trying to catch a coven of killers before they claim their next victim.

The Witch Hunter is the first installment in author Max Seeck's Jessica Niemi series. Set in Helsinki, Finland, there are multiple viewpoints, but Jessica's is the main one. After the wife of best selling author Roger Koponen is found murdered while the author himself is at a book signing for his best selling series The Witch Hunter, Sergeant Jessica Niemi becomes lead investigator in what is about to become a twisted, mind blowing, twisted race to discover who is responsible and why.
Upon arriving at the scene, Jessica finds the victim in a strange and ritualistic way; posed at a table in a beautiful evening dress and with expensive shoes. To make things more twisted, the killer may have been in the same room as Jessica and her team, and walked away without being seen. Hours later another body is found in the lake behind their property drowned and frozen in the water. Visions of the occult begin to appear following the discovery of a Latin phrase on the first victim's rooftop - a reference to a book on torturing and punishing women who are suspected of being witches.  
As the story progresses, the bodies seem to pile up. The victims mirror the murders from the The Witch Hunter books. The murders are symbolic of how witches were killed back in the seventeenth century. The rest of her team includes Yusuf Pepple, Rasmus Susikoski, Mikael Kaariniemi and Nina Ruska. Detective Jessica Niemi is the central character. She's a complex character, excellent at her job but she doesn’t trust easily in her work or personal life. 
She is very much a loner, keeping her secrets close with the exception of her boss Chief Superintendent Erne Mikson, the only person we see a softer side with. The story also takes a deeper look into the characters background, and her actions when she planned on crossing Europe, but ended up in a dicey situation with a man she fell head over heels in love with. While readers will do what I did, feel confused by the flashbacks, when you get to the end, it makes absolute sense.
One could say that Max Seek wrote this as an ode to Nordic Noir. This novel was extremely creepy and intriguing and leaves a strange ending for readers to deal with. I was gifted with the sequel, and will try to fit it in prior to Halloween.




The wind has picked up, and the corners of the massive glass-and-skimmed-concrete house wail restlessly. The tap-tap carrying from the roof has gradually intensified; the faint pops call to mind the spitting of an open fire. The incredible speed with which the accumulation of white dunes on the patio now vanishes speaks of the gusts’ force. Maria Koponen knots her cardigan tightly around her waist and stares out the floor-to-ceiling windows into the darkness. She gazes at the frozen sea-which at this time of year is remarkably reminiscent of a vast, flat field-and then at the path plowed down to the dock, illuminated by knee-high yard lights.


Maria curls her toes into the plush carpet that reaches almost to the edges of the expansive floor. It’s warm inside the house, cocoonlike. Even so, Maria feels uneasy, and the tiniest grievances strike her as unusually annoying tonight. Like those damn expensive yard lights that still don’t work the way they should.


Maria is roused from her reverie when she realizes the music has stopped. She walks past the fireplace to the enormous bookshelf, where her husband’s collection of four hundred records has been organized in five neat rows. Over the years, Maria has gotten used to the fact that, in this household, music is not played from a smartphone. Vinyl just sounds a hell of a lot better. That’s what Roger said to her years ago, when she paused in front of the collection for the first time. There were more than three hundred albums then, a hundred fewer than now. The fact that the number of records has grown slowly, comparatively speaking, during their shared existence makes Maria think about how much life Roger lived before her. Without her. Maria was with only one man before Roger: a high school romance that had led to marrying young and ended with her meeting the famous writer. Unlike Roger, Maria has never tasted the single life. Sometimes she wishes she’d also had a chance to experience irresponsible floundering, finding herself, one-night stands. Freedom.


Maria is not the least bit bothered by the fact that Roger is sixteen years her senior. But a thought has begun to nag at her: that she might one day wake up to a sense of restlessness, the sort that will not die until she has plunged into the unknown a sufficient number of times. And Roger already had the chance to experience that in his previous life. Now, suddenly, on this stormy February night Maria spends pacing alone around their massive waterfront home, she sees this as a threat for the first time. An imbalance that could cause the ship of their relationship to list dangerously, were they ever to drift into a true storm.


Maria lifts the needle of the record player, takes the vinyl disc between her fingertips, and slides it carefully into its cardboard sleeve, where a young artist in a brown suede jacket and a black-and-white-checked scarf looks directly into the camera, self-assured and surly. Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde. Maria returns the record to its place and picks a new one at random from the end of the alphabetically organized collection. A moment later, after a brief crackle, Stevie Wonder’s honeyed, compassionate voice reverberates from the speakers.


And then Maria sees it again. This time out of the corner of her eye. The yard light closest to the shore drifts off for a moment. And comes back on.


It goes dark for only a fraction of a second, just as it did a moment before. Maria knows the lighting elements glowing inside the fixtures were replaced before Christmas. She remembers it well, because she is the one who paid the electrician’s tastelessly inflated invoice. And for that reason, this trivial matter kindles an inordinate pique in her.


Maria grabs her phone and taps out a message to Roger. She isn’t sure why she feels the urge to trouble her husband with such a matter, especially since she knows he is on a stage addressing his readers at this very moment. Perhaps the cause is a fleeting flurry of loneliness, mingled with a dash of uncertainty and unjustified jealousy. Maria watches her sent message for a moment, waiting for the little arrows at the bottom edge to turn blue, but they don’t; Roger is not paying attention to his phone.


At that moment, the record gets stuck: What I’m about to. What I’m about to. What I’m…Wonder’s voice sounds uncertain, thanks to the bit excised from the beautiful sentiment. Some of Roger’s records are in such poor condition they aren’t worth keeping. Doesn’t anything in this goddamn house work?


And then Maria feels a cold wave wash over her. Before she has time to make sense of what she has just realized, she looks out the sliding doors and sees something that doesn’t belong there. For a moment the contours line up with those of her reflection. But then the figure moves, transforming into a distinct entity of its own.




Roger Koponen sits himself in a chair upholstered in a coarse, perspiration-inducing fabric and squints. The spots hanging from the ceiling of the conference center’s main auditorium are shining right into the eyes of those onstage. For a moment all he sees is blinding light; he forgets that before him and his two author colleagues sit four hundred curious readers who have packed into this auditorium to listen to their favorite boozers’ thoughts on their latest works.


Roger understands that the event is important in terms of promoting his book. He understands why he would bother to drive four hundred kilometers in heavy snow to spend the night at a serviceable dump slapped up on Savonlinna’s main square, its mediocre fast-food restaurant on the ground floor dolled up with tablecloths and table service. But what Roger doesn’t understand is why the good people of Savonlinna would bother to show up on a night like this. Even though his books have sold millions of copies worldwide, he is never going to be an idol besieged by shrieking fans. Few people ever reflect that musicians and authors do very similar work-same shit, different package-but only the former inspire middle-aged women to toss their panties onstage. But people still show up. The majority are seniors, tilting their heads slowly to one side and then the other. Aren’t they tired of the sportscaster-style banalities and superficial analyses authors spew about their own work? Apparently not, as it appears to be a full house: not a single empty seat.


Roger’s latest psychological thriller, launched the previous spring, is the third and final book in his enormously popular Witch Hunt trilogy. His books have always sold relatively well, but the Witch Hunt series blew up. No one anticipated this sort of megasuccess, least of all his agent, who originally held a skeptical view of the entire project, or his former publisher, whom Roger dumped prior to the publication of the first installment due to their lack of confidence in its prospects. But in the space of a few years, translation rights for the trilogy have been sold in almost thirty countries and more deals are in the pipeline. Although he and Maria were doing fine before, now they can buy themselves whatever they want. Suddenly all possible luxuries and pleasures are within reach.


The evening goes predictably; Roger has heard the questions hundreds of times during his promotional tours and answered them in four different languages, intermittently modulating his cadence, intonation, and minor details with the exclusive aim of keeping himself awake amid the fog of bright lights and forced laughter.


“Your books are quite violent,” a voice says, but Roger doesn’t look up from the pitcher he’s using to fill his water glass for the third or fourth time. He hears this a lot too, and there’s no denying it: brutal murders, sadistic torture, sexual violence directed at women, and nightmarish dives into the depravity of sick minds are described in Roger Koponen’s works in graphic detail.


“It reminds me of Bret Easton Ellis, who has said he processes his angst by writing detailed depictions of violence,” the voice continues. Now Roger shifts his gaze to the man sitting halfway back in the auditorium, microphone in his hand. Roger raises the glass to his lips and waits for the man to ask his question. Instead, there’s an awkwardly long pause as the man collects his thoughts.


“Are you afraid? Is that why you write?” the man finally asks in a flat, reedy voice. Roger puts down the glass and takes a closer look at the balding scarecrow of a man. Surprising and interesting. Almost brazen. Now, this is a question he has never heard before.


Roger leans in, bringing his mouth closer to the flexible microphone on the table. For some reason, he feels a pang of hunger at this instant. “Am I afraid?”


“Have you written your own fears into your books?” the man asks, then lowers the microphone to his lap. There’s an annoying smugness to the guy. There’s not a hint of the jittery respect, the certain reverence fame brings and that Roger has grown accustomed to.


“Right,” Roger says, and smiles thoughtfully. For a moment he forgets the person posing the question and allows his gaze to wander across the sea of faces. “I think that something of the author always finds its way into the work. You can’t help writing about what you know about or think you know about. Fears, hopes, traumas, things left undone, and then of course the things you did and justified to yourself too easily…”


“You’re not answering the question.” The gaunt man has raised the microphone up to his lips again. Roger feels first surprise and then irritation cutting through him. What is this, a fucking interrogation? I don’t have to listen to this shit, regardless of the circumstances.


“Could you please be more specific?” Pave Koskinen, the ineradicable literary critic who organized this event and is serving as moderator, has intervened. He no doubt feels that he has handled his role with panache and gusto but is now afraid that his star guest, the red-hot thriller writer who has written three international bestsellers, will take offense.


But Roger raises a pacifying hand into the air and smiles self-confidently. “I apologize. Perhaps I didn’t understand the question. Do I write about what I’m most afraid of?”


“No. The other way around,” the man says in an unusually cold tone. Someone in the front row coughs maddeningly.


Roger hides his confusion behind an idiotic smile. “The other way around?”


“Yes, Mr. Roger Koponen,” the man continues mechanically, and the way he utters Roger’s name is not only sarcastic, but vaguely chilling. “Are you afraid of what you write?”


“Why would I be afraid of my own books?”


“Because truth is stranger than fiction,” the thin-faced man replies, then sits back down. An awkward silence falls over the room.



Ten minutes later, Roger takes a seat at a long table covered with a white tablecloth in the lobby, which is abuzz with people and chatter. The first fan in the line of those hoping for an autograph is Pave Koskinen. Who else?


“Thanks, Roger. Thanks. And sorry about that one knucklehead. You handled it beautifully. Unfortunately, not everyone is blessed with social skills….”


Roger smiles. “No worries, Pave. There’s one in every crowd. The only thing any of us is responsible for in this world is our own behavior.” He registers that Pave has lowered all three books of the trilogy to the table for signing. As he scrawls out something ostensibly personal along with his name on the title pages, he glances up at the snaking line in front of him and silently notes that the thin-faced crackpot is nowhere in sight. Luckily. He wouldn’t necessarily be able to handle a face-to-face provocation as diplomatically.


“Thank you, Roger. Thank you. We have a table reserved at the hotel restaurant at nine. They make a mean rack of lamb.” Pave smiles and stands there in front of Roger, clutching the books to his chest like an eager schoolgirl. Roger nods slowly and lowers his gaze to the table, a prisoner who has just received his sentence. It shouldn’t be hard for Pave to realize that Roger would rather retreat to his room. He has come to despise the banal chitchat and forced wine swilling that as far as he can tell has zero impact on sales of his books. He could just as easily decline the invitation and allow himself to be branded an asocial asshole.


“Sounds great,” Roger says wearily, twisting his face up in an almost credible smile. Pave Koskinen nods in satisfaction, revealing teeth that are more or less white, thanks to new crowns. He seems unsure of himself.


Then he steps aside, making way for the winding centipede of book-cradling readers.




Sergeant Jessica Niemi ties back her shoulder-length black hair into a ponytail and pulls on a pair of leather gloves. A bright signal sounds as she opens the passenger door; the engine is still running.


“Thanks for the ride.”


The man at the wheel yawns. “It’s probably best if no one knows who dropped you off.”


They look at each other for a moment as if each is expecting a kiss. But neither will make the first move.


“This was so fucking wrong.”


Jessica steps out of the car and narrows her eyes; the icy wind scrapes her face. It has snowed heavily, and the plows rumbling over at the school haven’t made it to the waterfront yet. Jessica shuts the car door and sees a large contemporary house looming before her: a compact front yard, an arborvitae hedge clipped at eye level, a wrought iron gate. Two police vans are parked on the street out front, and based on the sirens howling in the distance, more are on their way.


“Hey there.” A man decked out in heavyweight blue police coveralls steps out from behind one of the vans and walks up to Jessica. “Officer Koivuaho.”


“Jessica Niemi.” She shows her badge, but her colleagues in uniform have already recognized her. She has caught a few of the nicknames in passing. Sergeant Sweetcheeks. Lara Croft. PILF.


“What happened?” Jessica asks.


“Goddamn it….” Koivuaho takes off his navy blue cap and rubs his bald head.


Jessica waits patiently for the officer to pull himself together. She glances over at the house and sees that the front door is ajar.


“We picked up the call at ten fifteen. Taskinen and I were pretty close, so we were the first patrol to show up.” Koivuaho gestures for Jessica to follow him through the gate. She does, acknowledging the officers waiting near the van with a nod.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

#Review - Unraveling Eleven (Eleven Trilogy #2) by Jerri Chisholm #YA #Dystopian

Series: Eleven Trilogy # 2
Format: Paperback, 384 pages
Release Date: November 16, 2021
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Dystopian

If Eve Hamilton cannot contain the monster inside, she’ll lose everyone who is important to her in this thrilling follow-up to the 2020 dystopian Escaping Eleven.

At long last, Eve Hamilton has realized true freedom. It is electrifying, intoxicating, divine. But much too quickly, it is wrenched from her grasp. And this time, the awaiting corridors of Compound Eleven are even less friendly than before. This time her list of enemies has grown exponentially, and her survival is far from a given—even with Wren Edelman by her side.

Yet her brief taste of freedom has left her with something useful, something powerful, something that terrifies the leaders of Compound Eleven: knowledge. Together Eve and Wren use it to uncover secret after secret, ones so twisted that everything they have ever known is thrown into doubt. Secrets that are so dangerous to wield that mere awareness can spell certain death.

But Eve soon discovers that despite a long list of enemies, despite uncovering secrets worth killing for, her greatest adversary lies deep within. And if she can't contain the monster inside, if she can't stop committing unspeakable acts of cruelty—ones she never thought she was capable of—she will lose everything that is important to her and everyone she holds dear.


Unraveling Eleven is the second installment in author Jerri Chisholm's Eleven Trilogy. This story begins right where Escaping Eleven finished. 16-year-old Eve Hamilton (Lower Level Mean) and 18-year-old Wren Edelman (Prime) have done what nobody else has without being expelled. They've escaped Eleven and discovered that the world isn't what they've been told their entire lives. Instead of a world where people burn up as soon as they step outside, it is a world that is exciting, and terrifying all at the same time.

Eve hoped to find out if her brother Jack, who was disposed of when he was three for being an extra body, is still alive, or gone. Him being forcibly removed from Eleven has weighed on her conscious for 9 years. But without a food source, or water, and a dangerous encounter with an unknown beast, Eve and Wren return to Eleven where Eve will find that she doesn't have just a few enemies, she has made powerful enemies than she could ever imagine. Now, Eve has to deal with a verification trial, as well as choosing her future. 

If you haven't read this series, Four generations ago, Earth was rendered uninhabitable, the sun too hot, the land too barren. Those who survived were forced underground, where civilization divided into compounds. In Compound Eleven, only the cruel survive. Fighting is entertainment, violence is a way of life, and hierarchy is everything. For the Primes who inhabit the fifth floor, life is comfortable. For the Lower and High Means and the Denominators who live on the floors below, it is anything but. 

Residents are literally trapped in a box underground under the leadership of Preme's who rule the compound while those like Eve are expected to fall in line, or be cast off. When Eve returns to Eleven, she's a changed person. One could say that she becomes even more angrier than before. She hasn't forgiven her former best friend Hunter for his betrayal. She's having issues with choosing what she wants to do, and then decides to try to be a Guard which would give her access to certain places in the compound. 

In a major twist, Eve discovers a new possibility; a life outside the compound along with others who have survived other compounds as well as living outside. Can you imagine Eve's reaction? She's tried hard to gain access to the Oracle where she's watched the sun rise and she didn't want to remain any longer. She has parents who are either out of touch with reality, or demanding that she fight for a living. She's hounded by powerful Primes who want to silence her. She's hounded by guards who have pushed, and pushed, and pushed until she can't take it any longer. 

When guards begin to become targets, those in charge take a hard look in Eve's direction. Those in charge know that she's more dangerous than anyone they've encountered in a long time. Eve wants freedom, she wants revenge, she wants her alleged boyfriend to stop playing games and either stand with her or get out of the way. When push comes to shove, Eve has to make a choice. Stay and fight, or leave and begin a new life among new friends who aren't judgy. This story ends with so many twists, and turns that I can't wait to see what happens next. 

Monday, October 11, 2021

#Review - Luminous by Mara Rutherford #YA #Fantasy

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Release Date: October 5, 2021
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Paranormal, Occult & Supernatural

From the author of Crown of Coral and Pearl comes an immersive new fantasy about a witch who must learn to harness her power—or risk losing her loved ones forever.

Liora has spent her life in hiding, knowing discovery could mean falling prey to the king’s warlock, Darius, who uses mages’ magic to grow his own power. But when her worst nightmare comes to pass, Darius doesn’t take her. Instead, he demands that her younger sister return to the capital with him. To make matters worse, Evran, Liora’s childhood friend and the only one who knows her secret, goes missing following Darius’s visit, leaving her without anyone to turn to.

To find Evran and to save her sister, Liora must embrace the power she has always feared. But the greatest danger she’ll face is yet to come, for Darius has plans in motion that will cause the world to fall into chaos—and Liora and Evran may be the only ones who can stop him.

From the author of Crown of Coral and Pearl comes an immersive new fantasy about a witch who must learn to harness her power—or risk losing her loved ones forever. Thanks to her glow, Liora Duval has spent her life in hiding in the village of Sylvan, part of the Kingdom of Antalla, knowing discovery could mean falling prey to the king’s warlock, Darius, who uses mages’ magic to grow his own power and may also control the King and Queen. But when her worst nightmare comes to pass, Darius doesn’t take her. Instead, he demands that her younger sister Mina return to the capital with him.

To make matters worse, Evran, Liora’s childhood friend and the only one who knows her secret, goes missing following Darius’s visit, leaving her without anyone to turn to. To find Evran and to save her sister, Liora must embrace the power she has always feared while also investigating what powers her mother had before she disappeared. But the greatest danger she’ll face is yet to come, for Darius has plans in motion that will cause the world to fall into chaos—and Liora and Evran may be the only ones who can stop him. Liora learns about others who have magic and are, of course, on Darius's radar.  

After she begins working for Evran's mother the weaver, she discovers that those closest to her have been keeping more secrets than she could have imagined, including her father who once worked as the King's treasurer. Is she strong enough to set to rights what Lord Darius has set in motion without destroying her only chance of happiness with the boy who holds her heart? Liora has been sheltered from the world by her father for a long time, so she is a bit naive at times, but you can't fault her bravery. 

She frequently disregards her own safety in order to protect her loved ones. Whether it's her best friend Evran or her sister Mina, she puts herself in harms way in life or death situations in order to try to save them. However, because of being sheltered, she often seems a tad reckless in her actions. She has absolutely no knowledge of what she is capable of magically because she thinks she is a danger to other people and doesn't try to learn. There are a variety of special abilities by those who have magic such as teleportation, "weaving" things into creation, fire starting, and the ability to see in the darkness.  

The author throws in a sort of devilish twist at the end of the story and since this is allegedly a standalone, readers might not ever know what happens next for Mina, or Evran. Will Mina find the truth about her mother? Will she find happiness in a far off country that is a safe space for magic users? Will she ever forgive her father for keeping a lie that's been hidden from Mina since the day she was almost killed by a fallen star? In all fairness, I can understand Darius and even though he is the villain of the story, he could have easily been the hero had he chosen a different path, or found Mina's abilities sooner. 


Friday, October 8, 2021

#Review - Bad Wolf (Cat McKenzie #4) by Lauren Dawes #Fantasy #Humor

Series: Cat McKenzie # 4
Format: Kindle, 201 pages
Release Date:  September 7th 2021
Publisher: Vixen Publishing
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Genre: Fantasy

A rookie cop. A team of supernatural detectives. A shifter with some impulse control  issues.

My name is Cat McKenzie, and I thought wood sprites weren’t a thing.

Apparently, they are. Fun fact: they enjoy eating carrion which was how I discovered the body of a hunter in the woods. The local werewolf pack confirms it’s a bad wolf doing the biting. 

Add two more to the body count and we have a furry serial killer on our hands.

Life can’t be as easy as that though. From new recruits at PIG to questions about mine and my sexy-as-sin partner’s connection, I’m left trying with more questions than answers.

Murderous will-o’-the-wisps, dryads and a thieving harpy… could life get any crazier?

Bad Wolf, by author Lauren Dawes, is the Fourth installment in the authors Cat McKenzie series. To be fair to rookie cop, and Paranormal Investigative Group (PIG) liaison Cat McKenzie, she's literally only been on the job for a few months. In that time, she's been enlightened by the Paranormal world around her, while becoming consort to her partner Sawyer, who is an incubus. She also carries around, when she's in danger, a long sword called Reaver, as well as an Opal, which was nearly stolen from her, that warns her when she's in trouble.

In the previous installment, it seems as though Cat and Sawyer were headed for another mystery to solve when a young boy was found murdered. In this book, that story continues when several other young men are found brutally killed, and their boss, Wolfe, demands that Cat and Sawyer work the case diligently and quickly so that whoever is responsible, can be caught and brought to justice. Who knew that Cat would run into dangerous Wil-o-the Wisps who lead people into danger, or a Tree Nymph (Dryad), or a Massive Spider, and an even more massive and dangerous Wolf? Oh, right, it's Cat's life, we're just spectators! 

And, because of the events of the previous story, Wolfe decides to not only bring in three recruits, but for the first time since she joined PIG, Cat doesn't have to worry about someone destroying her truck over, and over, and over again. Plus Cat and Sawyer are heating up in their new relationship and we learn some interesting new information about their developing and complicated situation. 

It’s an amusingly over the top series, with laugh out loud moments and extreme scenes of magical mayhem. Cat and her unicorn and coffee obsessions provide plenty of light-hearted instances, while the interactions between her and Sawyer provide romance and intrigue. But I want Cat, and or Sawyer, to put an end of the harassment she continues to get from her former colleagues. 

Thursday, October 7, 2021

#Review - A Throne of Feathers and Bone by Shannon Mayer, Kelly St. Clare #Fantasy

Series: Honey and Ice Trilogy # 2
Format: Kindle, 351 pages
Release Date: September 27th 2021
Publisher: Hijinks Ink Publishing
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Genre: Epic Fantasy

Chosen. Framed by my father’s murderer. Running from the fae courts. Fated to never touch the man who sets my blood on fire.

Life was looking up for me not long ago. Now, it’s looking
all the way down. This latest shitstorm? Yeah, it takes the cake and the beetroot tickle.

The father who shunned me from birth lays cold and dead. The courts are in turmoil and after blood.
My blood. I need to find his killer, yet that mystery pales in comparison to the madness crushing fae in its giant grip.

I’m desperate to find the door to Underhill before true anarchy descends. The answers I seek are on the other side, I’m sure of it.

With two gifted swords, a magic shield, some finnicky power, and dubious spirit for company, I must locate the path to our native realm again. And if I can manage that while resisting the Unseelie fae stalking my every footstep, then all the better.

But I am part human after all.

A Throne of Feathers and Bones, by co-authors Shannon Mayer, and Kelly St. Clare, is the second installment in the Honey and Ice Trilogy. After being falsely accused of murdering her own father by her step-mother Adair and sentence to death by drowning, Kallik escapes thanks to the brilliant execution of Faolan, Cinth, and a Kelpie with an attitude. But things are not over with yet. Legally the Heir, or maybe Queen of the Seelie now, Kallik's only friends are hard to decipher. 

Upon arrival in the Unseelie court, Queen Elisavana orders Faolan to stick with Kallick like glue and to protect her no matter the cost. There is something warming about Elisavana that Kallick never found from her step-monster Adair. Kallick's most important mission is to find the real Underhill as well as the missing Oracle who has a whole lot to explain going back to Kallick's sorting ceremony. With danger from all quarters, and questions about her so called friend Ruby, Kallik and Faolan must fight their way against ever increasing odds, as well as their growing attraction for one another. All the while, Kallik must learn to control her magic. 

In the end, Kallik finds herself at the center of self discovery and loss, revelations and betrayal, and maybe sanity with the man who actually loves you. If you are looking for a shocking cliffhanger ending with plenty of twists, you'll definitely get what you asked for.
An impossible task, and an uncertain future is a lot for anyone, let alone the girl who is suddenly seeing spirits of her mother's people. Lan was distant and somewhat of an ass in the first installment, and the authors do a good job of explaining why and why Kallick doesn't need anyone else falsely claiming they are in love with her.