Friday, May 28, 2021

#Review - A Grimoire for Gamblers by Amanda Creiglow #Fantasy

Series: The Trove Arbitration's # 1
Format: E-Book, 293 pages
Release Date: June 1st 2021
Publisher: Waldron Lake Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Magic may be secret, but it’ll kill you anyway.

Small town mayor’s assistant Elizabeth has enough on her plate grieving her father’s suicide. She doesn’t need his stash of magical knowledge in the attic. She doesn’t need the hidden supernatural subculture of monsters it pulls her into. And she certainly doesn’t need hints that her father’s madness might have been a smokescreen for something far darker.

But uncovering her father’s secrets could be the only way Elizabeth can stop a string of suspicious suicides… if the local wizard doesn’t rip the memories out of her mind, first.

Wizards, right?

A Grimoire for Gamblers is the first installment in author Amanda Creiglow's The Trove Arbitrations series. The main character of the story is Elizabeth Baker. Elizabeth is dealing with the fact that her father just recently died. He had mental issues for years and made it known that everything he owned should be burned to the ground. No reason left behind for the request. Needless to say, Elizabeth ignored his request and it was deemed unenforceable. In this world, there is no such thing as a coincidence.

After going through his things, she finds a mysterious box, as well as train set that has been running non-stop for at least 8 years. Elizabeth’s father had always been an eccentric man with his model trains and other hobbies, but when she finally gets up the gumption to go into the attic she finds a trove of evidence. Evidence that magic is real. When the train tips over, there's a real train derailment in her town, but thankfully, no one was hurt. Elizabeth is thrown into a world of magic, deals, and dangers beyond comprehension.  

After returning to work after a bereavement leave, she encounters a stranger (Troll) who gives her an envelope claiming that the contents are hers. When Elizabeth opens the envelope, she uncovers a mystery of dead bodies left behind all 3 days after the first one. The first one being her father. To make matters more intriguing, a warlock named Maxwell Jones shows up unannounced and tries to remove all of Elizabeth's memories which doesn't work. Elizabeth later meets Gigi who takes her to a demon gambling ring with humans betting their souls, and learns that her father's magical classes make things that more curiouser. 

Like Alice jumping into the rabbit hole, Elizabeth isn't one to shy away from getting the answers she needs. Even though Max is clearly trying to side track Elizabeth from getting in deeper than she already is, she knows that Max may be her only friend when it comes to uncovering what happened to her father, and those who have died since his suicide. Max is both foe and friend depending on the circumstances and when Elizabeth is forced to face her own reckoning in a life or death battle, she will have to use whatever moxie she can conjure up in order to survive another day.

The reasoning behind my rating is the lack of they boyfriend in the book. Elizabeth allegedly has a boyfriend named Faisel. Faisel, it seems, is always traveling and missed nearly the entirety of what happens to Elizabeth and the fact that it seems as though she will become a human arbitrator for the supernatural world which includes demons and trolls and others that haven't been revealed as of yet. 

Thursday, May 27, 2021

#Review - Oculta (A Forgery of Magic #2) by Maya Motayne #YA #Fantasy

Series: Nocturna # 2
Format: Hardcover, 544 pages
Release Date: April 6, 2021
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Epic

After joining forces to save Castallan from an ancient magical evil, Alfie and Finn haven’t seen each other in months. Alfie is finally ready to take on the mantle of crown prince. His first task: preparing for the peace talks with Castallan’s former colonizers, the nation of Englass.

But when the summit coincides with the reemergence of Los Toros, the mysterious syndicate of assassins responsible for Alfie’s brother’s death, and Finn’s unexpected installation as one of the four Thief Lords of Castallan, the two must reunite to discover the hidden link between these events—before it’s too late.

Oculta is the second installment in author Maya Montayne's A Forgery of Magic series. Set in a Latinx-inspired world, a face-changing thief (Finn Voy) and a risk-taking prince (Prince Alfehr aka Alfie) must once again team up to save Castallano from dual threats to the country. Alfie released an evil's magic killing hundreds of his people. His actions have come at a great cost. Nobody trusts him, and they especially don't appreciate that he intends to go forward with a peace conference with the hated English who once controlled every aspect of Castallano life to honor his brother Dez's wish. 

Meanwhile, Finn is back to wearing her own face for the first time in a long time. As a face shifter, she is able to take on the appearance of anyone, and she discovers an even more deadlier ability that may be a game changer. Finn gets back to what she does best; causing trouble. But when she walks into a trap by a person wearing a bull mask, she not only loses the invisibility cloak she was given by Alfie, but she must return to Castallano where she will quickly find out that she's the newest thief lord which comes with more responsibility than she cares for.

As the new heir to the crown, Alfie is trying to mend the relationship between his kingdom and their once colonizers, and this upsets his people. But he has good intentions and no one is truly willing to listen. But thanks to a group called Los Toros, the peace summit may quickly become a disaster. So, we've pretty much established that the Castallano's are Latino's, while the Englassen people are white people are still preventing ordinary people from using magic. After saving Castallan from an ancient evil, Alfie and Finn haven’t spoken in months. 

Now they have to figure out a way to once again work together along with Luka to find out who is responsible for all the murders, and who the Los Toros really are. Plot wise, this book has a lot going on, but it doesn’t really feel like it. It’s not all that unpredictable, in fact, it has many twists and turns and shocking surprises, especially the ending. Oculta is a slow boil full of court politics and political intrigue, underscored by political unrest and a slew of crimes stemming from the underworld.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

#Review - Blessed Monsters by Emily A. Duncan #YA #Fantasy

Series: Something Dark and Holy (#3)
Format: Hardcover, 528 pages
Release Date: April 6, 2021
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult / Dark Fantasy

The girl, the monster, the prince, the queen.

They broke the world.

And some things can never be undone.

In Emily A. Duncan’s Blessed Monsters, they must unite once more to fight the dark chaos they've unleashed—but is it already too late?

The startling conclusion to the instant New York Times bestselling Something Dark and Holy trilogy.

Blessed Monsters, by author Emily A Duncan, is the third and final installment in the authors Something Dark and Holy trilogy. Once again, the story revolves around three main characters: Malachiasz Czechowicz, Nadezhda Lapteva, and Serefin Meleski. The story picks up a few weeks following the cliffhanger ending of Ruthless Gods. Serefin and Nadya are plagued by their regrets and grief at what happened in the previous story. The very fabric of the world has been altered, fallen Gods have risen, the universe has titled on its axis, and all seems to be lost. But can it be saved? 
Malachiasz, who has defeated death many times over, and been betrayed just as many times, is attempting to hang on to whatever is left of his humanity while being ridden by a long banished God. The eldritch gods have been freed and are ready to take of the world. Malachiasz is alone and struggling to fight the ancient god who has possessed him and is intent on destroying the world. His path will sink him deeper into depravity where not even Nadya can reach him. 
Nadya is struggling with the darkness that threatens to overtake her. She has a contaminated hand that she tries to cover up. One of her Gods was killed, and the rest of the pantheon has gone silent. There is a whole new revelation when it comes to Nadya and the Gods which I won't spoil. Even though she previously lost her connection to her Gods, the Gods haven't finished with her yet. Especially the fallen Gods who see her as their way to re-enter the world and destroy it. 

Serefin has lost his position as King, he's lost an eye, he's free of a certain God, but his relationship with Kacper may be his saving grace. Serefin is struggling to be the king his people need in order to bring about peace, but there may be one person who may be able to finally put war in the past once and for all. Parijahan is finally opening up, and embracing her true nature, and revealing her secrets. Let's not forget about Pelegeya who is still short with answers, and long with expectations that there will be four who must come together in order to save the world.  
The girl, the monster, the prince, and the queen. Yekaterina Vodyanova has decided that she will hitch her fate to Nadya no matter what happens. Readers finally get a better understanding of who Parijahan is and why she's been reluctant to return home. Unfortunately, there's many jumps, too many times when what happened went unsaid and left me a bit confused. Compared to Ruthless Gods, I don't think this finale was as strong as it could be. That said, not everything was wrapped up in a neat little bow. War between countries was still a possibility, and there were (mortal) adversaries that hadn’t been dealt with.
Apparently, I haven't spent a whole lot of time on the internet. That allegedly blatant anti-Semitism in this trilogy apparently went completely over my head except. Malachiasz was actually supposed to be some kind of negative, evil, Jewish caricature. Malachiasz is obviously a Darkling substitute. Furthermore, the Tranavanian cult called the Vultures may also bring to mind an association with modern-day Neo-Nazi conspiracies about secret so-called "cabals" of Jewish people running shadow governments around the world. It always saddens me when authors of books I love turn out to be hateful people.
Over the past 10 years, we've had a slew of authors who have crossed the line. Although the author allegedly apologized, I don't believe we need to have anyone, let alone an author, needs to be a bigot or intolerant or others. Legitimately, I could have lowered my rating.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

#Review - Edge of Darkness (Rhiannon's Law #4) by J.A. Saare #Dark Fantasy

Series: Rhiannon's Law # 4
Format: E-Book, 343 pages
Release Date:  May 14th 2021
Publisher: Renrut Publishing
Source: Kindle
Genre: Dark Fantasy

Ride the road until death sets you free.

Rhiannon Murphy fled New York following the horrific events that ended the lives of those she loved. In the months that have passed, she and her vampire lover, Gabriel Trevellian, have pooled their talents to kill half-demons that have ruled the vampire world for centuries. On the brink of regaining control, they learn things are not so simple.

Marigold Vesta is no longer content in Hell. Due to the terms of an agreed-upon bargain, the fallen angel is preparing Rhiannon's body for early possession. If that's not bad enough, Lucifer is aware of the trade and wants Rhiannon's soul.

The only option is to turn to Bane, an arms dealer who offered Gabriel an alliance to recapture the city. The man isn't human and has a personal connection to Rhiannon. When she learns why the deadly being entered her life, she must decide to ride the edge of darkness or bask in the glory of the light.

With the clock ticking, every choice counts.

This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, violence, and situations that some readers may find objectionable.

 Rhiannon's Law #43: If you're going to put your foot down, really put it down. You choose the itinerary when going through life. Once you give your planner to someone else, it's sayonara, bitch.

Edge of Darkness, by author J.A. Saare, is the fourth installment in the authors Rhiannon's Law series. This book picks approximately 5 months after The Ripple Effect. The first thing I ought to say is that I am happy that the author didn't give up on this series even with all of her personal ups and downs. Even though it took 10 years to finish and release this story, the wait was definitely worth the time. I do recommend that you have some clue as to what has happened to Rhiannon since this story began. Thus, with perhaps mild spoilers, let's summarize. In the beginning, Rhiannon Murphy left Miami in the middle of the night not telling anyone where she was going.

Rhiannon lost her parents and her best friend in ways that will shatter your heart. She ended up in NYC. A bartender by trade, a loud mouth by choice, and a necromancer by chance; she managed to keep her nifty talent hidden from those around her until she mistakenly spoke to a ghost. Later, she met Gabriel Trevillian aka Disco who is a Master vampire of New York who bound her to him like the rest of his family. A master vampire who has been battling against powerful people like Revenald Bhevencourt and Marius who took Rhiannon's sister and is Gabriel's maker to rid the state of half demons. 

Rhiannon not only has the ability to see dead people, but to communicate with them, and raise them from the dead as well. She has another friend, Ethan McDaniel aka Goose, who is also a necromancer she relies on for help since she's had no official training. Rhiannon ended in the future, and what she saw, she's trying hard to make sure it never happens. Ever. 101 years into the future, New York City is a wasteland. Humans are scarce. Vampires are the dominate race, and humans are offering themselves up as blood slaves, immortality, money, and survival. It's a completely different world, with new, powerful creatures inhabiting it. 

Unfortunately, Rhiannon lost her friend Payne in the previous installment. His death was a stunning move by the author, but she wasn't done yet. She also made a deal with a fallen angel named Marigold Vesta who has come close to taking over Rhiannon's body permanently. Marigold’s amulet gives Rhiannon awesome new abilities, and power. It also appears to allow her to heal faster, which is good, since she ends up a bloody mess more times than not. If that weren't bad enough, Rhiannon needs to deal with her new ally and arms dealer Bane who one could say that he's both light and dark, good and bad, and claims kinship with her. 

Even though he is clearly a mystery, he might be the one person who is able to find Marigold in time to prevent her from becoming Lucifer's play toy. One of the more interesting aspects of this series are Rhiannon's Laws which are interspersed throughout the book. 

Rhiannon's Law #61: Life sucks for everyone, and misery doesn't give free passes. Even on your most fucked day, it's important to remember that you never know what someone else is dealing with until you walk a mile in their shoes.
There are those who say that this story reminds them of the Anita Blake series. As I abandoned that series years ago, and don't ever plan on going back, I can't answer that question. I will say that the author shocked the hell out of me with the ending to this story. My only hope and prayers is that she can write quickly and put out a fifth installment sooner, rather than later.

Monday, May 24, 2021

#Review - Curse of the Specter Queen by Jenny Elder Moke #Fantasy #Historical

Series: A Samantha Knox Novel
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
Release Date: June 1, 2021
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Historical


Samantha Knox put away her childish fantasies of archaeological adventure the day her father didn't return home from the Great War, retreating to the safety of the antique bookshop where she works. But when a mysterious package arrives with a damaged diary inside, Sam's peaceful life is obliterated. Ruthless men intent on reclaiming the diary are after Sam, setting her and her best friend, along with her childhood crush, on a high-stakes adventure that lands them in the green hills outside Dublin, Ireland. Here they discover an ancient order with a dark purpose - to perform an occult ritual that will raise the Specter Queen, the Celtic goddess of vengeance and death, to bring about a war unlike any the world has ever seen. To stop them, Sam must solve a deviously complex cipher - one that will lead her on a treasure hunt to discover the ancient relic at the heart of the ritual: a bowl carved from the tree of life. Will she find the bowl and stop the curse of the Specter Queen, or will the ancient order bring about the end of the world?

Curse of the Specter Queen, by author Jenny Elder Moke, is the first in a new series. Moke's mystery-adventure is based around Celtic mythology featuring Samantha Knox. The story touches upon the myth of the Morrigan, a badass raven queen who's ready for her comeback as the most powerful being on earth--unless Sam and her friends can stop her. Indiana Jones gets a refresh with this female-driven mystery adventure, set in the 1920's, full of cyphers, ancient relics, and heart-stopping action. 

Samantha Knox put away her fantasy of being an archaeologist the day her father didn't return home from the Great War. She retreated to the safety of the Steeling's Rare Antiquities where she works restoring old books. Even though she has an insatiable curiosity about the world she lives in and dreams of traveling beyond the small town where she resides, Sam has been stuck in the same town her entire life, lulled into a quiet life aided by the grief for her father. Instead of going off to college with her best friend, she was content with a life of repairing books. 

That is until she opens a package containing a strange journal that has clearly been buried for years. Sam's peaceful life is obliterated when her bookstore is burned to the ground by strangers looking for the journal and she barely escapes with her life setting her and her estranged best friend Joana, along with her childhood crush, Bennett, a college student in archeology, on a high-stakes adventure. The journey takes the trio from a small town outside Chicago, to the city itself, all the way to New York, and, finally, to Dublin, Ireland. Here they discover an ancient order with a dark purpose - to perform an occult ritual that will raise the Specter Queen, the Celtic goddess of vengeance and death, to bring about a war unlike any the world has ever seen. 

To stop them, Sam must solve a deviously complex cipher - one that will lead her on a treasure hunt to discover the ancient relic at the heart of the ritual: a bowl carved from the tree of life. Will she find the bowl and stop the curse of the Specter Queen, or will the ancient order bring about the end of the world? Sam is very intelligent and skilled. She knows all sorts of facts from her reading and knows how to handle precious books, the ones that are liable to fall apart if you don’t handle them right. Because of a childhood game, in which the trio pretended to be archaeologists, she is also skilled as solving cryptic puzzles, complete with codes and hidden messages.

Joana, Sam’s best friend, is more the party girl type, getting drunk and gallivanting about, even getting expelled from school. She’s funny but also very pushy and stereotypical, focusing on the party and the finery instead of on the situation most of the time. Bennett is way too overprotective, lording his experience over Sam and Jo for much of the book. He’s ready to make all the decisions and stop them from participating in the adventure, despite Sam being super useful in solving all the riddles. She’s the first one to find the clues every time and he knows nothing.

With Samantha Knox, Moke has created a young woman who can crack any code, scale the side of a moving cruise liner and troubleshoot solutions for taking down an ancient goddess with a rune and a tube of lipstick, all in mid-battle. Move over Indiana Jones, there's a new adventurer in town! 

Friday, May 21, 2021

#Review - Bad Vampire by Lauren Dawes #Fantasy

Series: Cat McKenzie # 1
Format: E-Book, 206 pages
Release Date: March 23, 2021
Publisher: Vixen Publishing
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Genre: Urban Fantasy

A rookie cop. A team of supernatural detectives. Recalcitrant baby vampires on the loose.

My name is Cat McKenzie, and I’ve been a very bad girl…

No, not in the I-need-a-spanking way...pervert.

Nope, my kind of bad got my partner killed on my first day of the job. And now I’m getting punished by being thrown in as human liaison to PIG — the Paranormal Investigative Group.

Seriously, what were my superiors thinking?

I’m not going to lie: I hate all supernatural beings, but especially those cocky ones like my new partner happens to be. Between baby vampires terrorizing school events, my truck getting totalled and demon sex clubs, I wonder who the hell I pissed off in a different life.

But when the vampire threat becomes personal, I'm hell bent on getting to the bottom of it.

Bad Vampire, by author Lauren Dawes, is the first installment in the authors Cat McKenzie series. Dawes main character is Cat McKenzie. She's a rookie officer who on her first day of work, lost her partner to something that is still at large. After a forced 7 day leave, Cat is transferred to PIG. (PIG stands for Paranormal Investigative Group). Cat is designated as the human liaison officer where she will spent 12 months. For Cat, this is a major slap in the face since she absolutely is terrified of supernaturals. Cat will be the only human among this group of supernaturals who all know what happened to her. 

Her new partner, Detective Sawyer Taylor, is something that makes her heart beat fast. Cat was really given a bad break. After she witnessed her partner being torn apart by one of that things that go bump in the night, she did what any other human confronted with the impossible would do, she froze. Now Cat has to deal with a new partner, a sword which seems to be attached her her, and an Opal pendant that seems to get brighter when she's around a supernatural. 

For Cat's first case with Sawyer, baby vampires or Renfields, seem to be trying to lure out other children and they apparently have Cat in their sights for some reason. Add in a never-ending series of oddities happening around Cat, and Cat is wondering what will happen next, and if she'll end up like her former partner before her time in PIG actually gets started. The dynamic between Cat and Sawyer is intense, but the more they are round her, Cat realizes that Sawyer isn't the person she thought he was. After all, who gives their partner a sword that becomes a part of you whenever danger is around?

Cat's world gets bigger when she starts to grow closer to her new squad mates including Braxton. Cat is introduced to vampires, succubus', demons, and werewolves. Any of these supernaturals could literally eat her alive. Cat’s first-person point of view shows off her snark and attitude while keeping her an extremely sympathetic character. Cat lost both her parents to strange circumstances and she never found out what happened to either of them. She was given an Opal pendant by her father and told to keep it on no matter what. 

The mystery of her parents disappearance really changed Cat's life. You'll have to excuse her for being a bit on the snarky side. She hides behind her insecurities by making light of the situation. Even though she does kickboxing training, her sword may be her most important asset. While the story wraps up with a nice ending, there are a whole lot of questions remaining, especially about what or who her parents were, and if the sword calling to her makes her more interesting. 

#Review - The Glass Gargoyle by Marie Andreas #Fantasy

Series: The Lost Ancients # 1
Format: Kindle, 246 pages
Release Date: March 23rd, 2015
Publisher: Marie Andreas
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Genre: Fantasy

Magic. Mayhem. Drunken faeries.

Archeologist Taryn St. Giles has spent her life mining the ruins of the elves who vanished from the Four Kingdoms a thousand years ago. But when her patrons begin disappearing too—and then turning up dead—she finds herself unemployed, restless, and desperate. So she goes looking for other missing things: as a bounty hunter.

Tracking her first fugitive—the distractedly handsome and strangely charming Alric—she unearths a dangerous underworld of warring crime lords, demonic squirrels, and a long-lost elven artifact capable of unleashing a hell on earth. 

Chased, robbed, kidnapped, and distressingly low on rent money, Taryn just wants one quiet beer and to catch her fugitive. But there’s more to Alric than his wicked grin—is he a wanted man or the city’s only hope? With menacing mages in pursuit and her three alcoholic faery sidekicks always in her hair, Taryn’s curiosity might finally solve the mystery of the elves… or be the death of her and destroy her world.


The Glass Gargoyle is the first installment in author Marie Andreas The Lost Ancients series. Archeologist Taryn St. Giles has spent her life mining the ruins of the elves who vanished from the Four Kingdoms about 1300 years ago. But when her patrons begin disappearing and then turning up dead, she finds herself unemployed, restless, desperate, and a bad reputation as getting people killed. So she becomes a bounty hunter. Tracking her first fugitive-the distractedly handsome and strangely charming Alric; she unearths a dangerous underworld of warring crime lords, demonic squirrels, and a long-lost elven artifact capable of unleashing a hell on earth.

Chased, robbed, kidnapped, arrested for murder, and distressingly low on rent money, Taryn just wants one quiet beer and to catch her fugitive. But there's more to Alric than his wicked grin. With menacing mages in pursuit and her three alcoholic faery sidekicks (Crusty Bucket, Garbage Blossom and Leaf Grub) always in her hair, Taryn's curiosity might finally solve the mystery of the elves or be the death of her and destroy her world. Taryn never asked to be the caretaker of faeries, but now that she is, keeping them in line is a job and a half. 

Taryn's three little fairy friends prove to be full of surprises. They flutter perilously on the edge of cuteness, but they are exasperating at times as well as secretive. Taryn isn't sure why she ended up with them. Taryn has been fascinated by the Elven ruins since childhood, and all she has ever wanted to do is learn about the elves. How they lived, how they thought. But without a patron, there is no digging for Taryn. When a well-respected professor decides to be her patron, Taryn is at first thrilled. But then things get really weird. The one predictable thing about the story is that nothing is predictable. Characters morph in and out of various forms, physical settings get tweaked without warning, and good guys become bad guys on a whim. 

Conclusion: The plot was a fairly predictable rehash of several standard fantasy themes. An ancient prophecy of doom, a clueless innocent heroine stumbling into a complex conspiracy and suddenly turns out to have amazing powers. And, then you have the alleged love interest who is all that and a large bucket of chicken. 

Thursday, May 20, 2021

#Review - The Promised Queen by Jeffe Kennedy #Fantasy #Romance

Series: Forgotten Empires (#3)
Format: Paperback, 416 pages
Release Date: May 25, 2021
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Source: Publisher
Genre: Romance / Fantasy

The fate of the kingdoms rests on the love between a queen and her rebel prince in the epic conclusion to the fantasy series

Claim the hand that wears the ring, and the empire falls.

Conrí, former Crown Prince of Oriel, claimed the hand that wears the Abiding Ring, but the prophecy remains unfulfilled. Queen Euthalia of Calanthe returned to her island kingdom, but broken in mind and body. With the blood of war unleashing ancient terrors, Calanthe isn’t the haven it once was. Lia must use her magical bond with Calanthe to save their people while Con fights to hold off the vengeful Emperor Anure and his wizards. Con and Lia will have to trust in each other—and in love—to fend off ultimate disaster. In the thrilling finale to the Forgotten Empires trilogy, the fate of the world hangs in the balance as Con, Lia, and their allies sacrifice everything in a final bid to destroy the corrupt empire.

The Promised Queen, by author Jeffe Kennedy, is the third and final installment in the authors Forgotten Empires trilogy. Once again, this story features two main characters: Conri, former prince of Oriel, and Euthalia, Queen of Calanthe.
Conrí claimed the hand, Lia's that wears the Abiding Ring, but the prophecy remains unfulfilled. Euthalia, Queen of Flowers, returns to Calanthe a changed woman. With the blood of war unleashing ancient terrors, Calanthe isn’t the haven it once was. Even more worrying, Emperor Anure and his wizards still hold an unknown number of hostages to keep control of the land that they seized.

Conri gave up his chance at revenge against Anure when he saved Lia. But now that he knows his sister is still alive, and being held hostage, he knows he has to finally take on the false emperor and destroy his power. Conri feels guilty for putting Lia in danger and each day that he sees her struggle to get back to normal, leaves him feeling helpless. He wants to be the person she turns to for comfort and support, but he doesn’t blame her when she turns him away. Lia feels guilty for putting Calanthe, and her people in danger and feels vulnerable while her body is so weak. 

Her brief time as a captive has opened her eyes to the world’s plight. She must come to terms with her true nature before she can assist Conri in defeating Anure. She knows she's hurting Conri by pushing him away, but feels their situation is hopeless while she and Calanthe are so weak. She's lost in a muddled-mental-nightmare, the island is dying and sending the entire kingdom into chaos. To make matters even more twisted, the marriage bond between Conri and Lia has been broken. While Conri tires to find a way to help Lia heal, there's still the question of what to do now that he knows the plans of the one who took her captive. 

Lia has to ask for help, but who can she trust? Can she finally find a way to become the person she needs to be, or will her luck finally run out and her people end up suffering even more? The most obvious question of this entire series is what is Lia? Is she human? Is she a Goddess? Or, is she something never seen before? Lia and Conri have had a rocky start, and there is still some emotion baggage that needs to be fixed, but now they must fully trust and want each other. Will love finally conquer all? You will have to read the book to find out! 

Conclusion: The final confrontation between Conri, Lia and their allies, vs the false emperor was pretty disappointing as well as predictable. The good part is that the rollercoaster ride of emotions between Conri and Lia has finally be resolved in a way that makes sense.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

#Review - Do No Harm by Christina McDonald #Thrillers #Suspense

Series: Standalone
Format: Paperback, 368 pages
Release Date: February 16, 2021
Publisher: Gallery Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Thrillers / Suspense

From the USA TODAY bestselling author of Behind Every Lie and The Night Olivia Fell comes an unforgettable and heart-wrenching novel about the lengths one woman will go to save her son.

Emma loves her life. She’s the mother of a precocious kindergärtner, married to her soulmate—a loyal and loving police detective—and has a rewarding career as a doctor at the local hospital.

But everything comes crashing down when her son, Josh, is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.

Determined to save him, Emma makes the risky decision to sell opioids to fund the life-saving treatment he needs. But when somebody ends up dead, a lethal game of cat and mouse ensues, her own husband leading the chase. With her son’s life hanging in the balance, Emma is dragged into the dark world of drugs, lies, and murder. Will the truth catch up to her before she can save Josh?

A timely and moving exploration of a town gripped by the opioid epidemic, and featuring Christina McDonald’s signature “complex, emotionally intense” (Publishers Weekly) prose,

Author Christina McDonald's Do No Harm examines whether the ends ever justify the means...even for a desperate mother. This book makes you question everything between truth and lies, good and bad, and whether the ends really ever justifies the means. If you are a mother, or a father, think about what you would do if your only child was diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia (acute myeloid leukemia). Imagine having an insurance plan that doesn’t cover that form of illness treatment or the fact that you have no real savings to pay the ultra unaffordable expanses of this experimental treatment.

Imagine that your child will likely die if they are unable to receive an extremely expensive treatment method. Imagine going thru medical school and finding out that even if you were to work 24 hours a day, and your spouse was to get a promotion at their jobs, there's nothing you can do to find the financing you need (except for those who have friends who are able to do a Go Fund Me account). In this story, Dr. Emma Sweeney may end up having to do something entirely bad in order to save her son. But what if the cost is so great that it might tear apart your marriage with the man you love. 

A man who just happens to be a Detective assigned by the DEA to track down who is helping with the opioid crisis in your hometown. A man who would do anything to save his son, except to cross the line that he can't come back from. Sometimes in life, you have to do the wrong thing to do what’s the best for your loved ones. But in essence, what if the wrong thing ends up with more people being addicted? What if the person you love the most is put into such a difficult situation that he can't help but wonder what else you are willing to do in order to save one life rather than helping kill dozens? 

I guess I'm in the minority, but I wasn't a fan Emma or her actions. Too many people get hurt while she is finding ways to save her son. I don't think once she or her husband, or her mother in law researched how to seek funds through Go Fund Me. Once Emma steps onto this slippery slope and ends up working with her troubled brother and others, she slides down a slippery slope at an accelerating pace that will involve her in secrets, lies, and murder. But she is doing it all for the sake of saving Josh so it's all good, right?  

Do the ends justify the means when involving trafficking in deadly drugs which are manufactured in China and brought thru Mexican cartels to the US? Do the ends justify the means when you are literally breaking the law and yet, in the end, you are bullet proof because nobody sees the person behind the mask? I found myself increasingly frustrated with Emma and her associations and activities. I was angry at the ending of this book and I just can't say why without spoiling the final chapters of this book.  

It might be crazy of me to say, but I could have legitimately lowered this books rating to 2 stars because I am not a fan of those who deal in drugs. I am not a fan of those who hand out pills like they were candy which makes even more individuals addicted to opioid's. I've seen so many people suffer from addiction, that I have tried to ween myself off all drugs for fear that I too, will end up addicted. I give my dad props. Even when he was dying of cancer, he refused morphine knowing that it would end up killing him. He was right. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

#Review - Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo #YA #Fantasy

Series: King of Scars Duology (#2)
Format: Hardcover, 608 pages
Release Date: March 30, 2021
Publisher: Imprint
Source: Borrowed Library
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy

The wolves are circling. And Ravka's time is running out.

The Demon King. As Fjerda's massive army prepares to invade, Nikolai Lantsov will summon every bit of his ingenuity and charm—and even the monster within—to win this fight. But a dark threat looms that cannot be defeated by a young king's gift for the impossible.

The Stormwitch. Zoya Nazyalensky has lost too much to war. She saw her mentor die and her worst enemy resurrected, and she refuses to bury another friend. Now duty demands she embrace her powers to become the weapon her country needs. No matter the cost.

The Queen of Mourning. Deep undercover, Nina Zenik risks discovery and death as she wages war on Fjerda from inside its capital. But her desire for revenge may cost her country its chance at freedom and Nina the chance to heal her grieving heart.

King. General. Spy. Together they must find a way to forge a future in the darkness. Or watch a nation fall.

“A king with a demon inside him. A monk with the Darkling inside him. A general with a dragon inside her. We’re all monsters now”
Rule of Wolves is the second installment in the King of Scars Duology, and the seventh installment in author Leigh Bardugo's Grishaverse. Once again, the story focuses on three main characters: Zoya Nazyalensky, Nikolai Lantsov, and Nina Zenik with one other narrative which I'll not spoil since many of you have already read the ending to King of Scars. As I am apparently the latest victim to write my review for this book, I shall do my best not to repeat what has already been written. There are some interesting appearances in this book.

Especially since they really don't bring anything exceptional to the table. They will and always will be Alina, Darkling, and Mal and just a brief appearance in this story doesn't actually help or hinder the story. As with King of Scars, more than half of the book orbits around Zoya and for very good reason. Zoya is now one with the dragon and the spirit of Juris which makes her the most powerful character in this story. What's interesting about Zoya, is that we finally get an understanding of her past, and how she came to the Darkling and later help Alina

Nina is still in Fjerda with Hanne who has become her world. No, that's not a slight at their relationship. Nina has gotten past the loss of Matthias Helvar, and now it's time to do what's best for her. She is above all, a spy who wants to destroy her nemesis once and for all. Meanwhile, Nikolai once again gets pushed behind Nina for the second most storyline. The one positive is that Nikolai has accepted his demon, doesn't give two craps what anyone else thinks about what he's become as long as Zoya is next to him. He tries to keep his people safe, but knows that a miracle will need to happen so that Ravka doesn't fall. I would also LOVE to see him return permanently to his Strumhond personality that was awesome.

This story has almost everything. A wedding, but not between who you think, a war with massive casualties, a shocking and unnecessary death, a blight that ravages almost all the countries in this universe, an an open ended cliffhanger. Yes, you heard me, this story, even though it's part of a duology, leaves readers with a cliffhanger ending which apparently will go back to the Six of Crows crew (Kaz, Wylan and Jesper) which makes an appearance, as well as Inej who has become something of a badass. While I'm not a fan of the cliffhanger, I do believe that the final chapters were just what fans of Grishaverse asked for.