Tuesday, August 31, 2021

#Review - Eyes of the Forest by April Henry #YA #Thriller #Suspense

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 272 pages
Release Date: August 24, 2021
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Suspense / Thriller

After a bestselling fantasy author disappears, only his biggest fan believes he’s in danger and has the courage to uncover the truth in this fast-paced mystery with a chilling psychological twist. Bridget is RM Haldon's biggest fan. His epic fantasy series, Swords and Shadows, created a lifeline between Bridget and her mom as she lost her battle with cancer. When Bridget met Haldon at his only book signing, she impressed the author with her encyclopedic knowledge of the fantasy world he'd created. Bridget has been working for him ever since as he attempts to write his final book. Now, Haldon is missing, and Bridget is the only person who seems concerned. Can Bridget piece together Haldon’s clues and save him before it’s too late?

Master mystery-writer April Henry weaves another heart-stopping young adult thriller in this story that seamlessly blends suspense with fan culture. For readers of Courtney Summers and Karen McManus.

April Henry's Eyes of the Forest is a mashup of Misery, and Games of Thrones. 17-year-old Bridget Shepherd is author R.M. Haldon's Swords and Shadows series biggest fan. She was hired when she was 12-years-old to work with the author to make sure he was keeping his storylines straight and not taking unnecessary side trips. Bridget is literally a walking, talking, encyclopedia of the authors King of Swords series. She created a database of his books and the characters, landscapes, realms, creatures, everything that can be cross-referenced as he works his way towards completing the series.

It has been several years since R.M. Haldon released a new book due to writer's block which has made his fans unhappy, his publisher is unhappy, while his books have turned into a TV series. If you are a writer, some of you may or may not understand the feeling of writer's block. So, he comes up with the strangest idea of getting himself kidnapped, and locking himself away from the normality that he's used to so that he can figure things out. In many ways, Haldon is a reclusive hermit who has grown lazy. 

He works with a High School student to make it look as though he's been kidnapped and locked away in a cabin in the middle of the woods. He is given a chamber pot, he's given an out of date typewriter, and a treadmill which he is locked to. When yet another character gets involved, Haldon decides to play chicken by writing two different stories and keeping one to himself. But things don't go as smoothly as he thought, and ends up hoping that Bridget will figure out that he's in trouble and sends help before things get out of control.

Like every other book this author has written, the chapters are short, the pacing is on point, and the characters often find themselves up against some twisted secondary characters like Derrick Dart who is obsessed with LARPing. There's another character who I shall refer to as the over the top villain whose shenanigans wore me out. Then you have Ajay Kapoon who is the best cook in his large Indian-American family who finds friendship with Bridget who reads to him all of Haldon's books. Don't believe me? Read the book and all of the dishes he makes for Bridget and his family. If you are not hungry by the time the book is done, I don't know what else to tell you. 

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book through NetGalley. All opinions in this review are my own and are honest and unbiased.

Monday, August 30, 2021

#Review - The Witch Haven by Sasha Peyton Smith #YA #Historical #Fantasy

Series: Standalone?
Format: Hardcover, 448 pages
Release Date: August 31, 2021
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Wizards & Witches

The Last Magician meets The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy in this thrilling and atmospheric historical fantasy following a young woman who discovers she has magical powers and is thrust into a battle between witches and wizards.

In 1911 New York City, seventeen-year-old Frances Hallowell spends her days as a seamstress, mourning the mysterious death of her brother months prior. Everything changes when she’s attacked and a man ends up dead at her feet—her scissors in his neck, and she can’t explain how they got there.

Before she can be condemned as a murderess, two cape-wearing nurses arrive to inform her she is deathly ill and ordered to report to Haxahaven Sanitarium. But Frances finds Haxahaven isn’t a sanitarium at all: it’s a school for witches. Within Haxahaven’s glittering walls, Frances finds the sisterhood she craves, but the headmistress warns Frances that magic is dangerous. Frances has no interest in the small, safe magic of her school, and is instead enchanted by Finn, a boy with magic himself who appears in her dreams and tells her he can teach her all she’s been craving to learn, lessons that may bring her closer to discovering what truly happened to her brother.

Frances’s newfound power attracts the attention of the leader of an ancient order who yearns for magical control of Manhattan. And who will stop at nothing to have Frances by his side. Frances must ultimately choose what matters more, justice for her murdered brother and her growing feelings for Finn, or the safety of her city and fellow witches. What price would she pay for power, and what if the truth is more terrible than she ever imagined?  

The Witch Haven is the debut novel by author Sasha Peyton Smith. This story takes place entirely in New York City. The year is 1911, 17-year-year-old Frances Hallowell spends her days as a seamstress, mourning the mysterious death of her brother months prior while her mother is sequestered in a sanatorium. When her boss gets overly aggressive with her, the next thing Frances knows is that the man is dead with her scissors sticking in his neck. 

While the police are questioning her as the prime suspect in her bosses death, two cape-wearing nurses arrive to inform her that she has tuberculosis and must come with them immediately to Haxahaven Sanitarium. When Frances arrives at Haxahaven, she discovers that it's a school for witches, and yes, she's witch. Color me shocked! Within Haxahaven’s glittering walls, Frances finds the sisterhood she craves, but the headmistress warns Frances that magic is dangerous. 

After finding notes left on her bunk, Frances finds herself enchanted by Finn, a boy who was friends with her brother, and someone who claims that he also has magic. He soon appears in her dreams and tells her he can teach her all she’s been craving to learn, lessons that may bring her closer to discovering what truly happened to her brother. Frances gathers other students at the school, and they soon learn how to use magic that is forbidden at the school. No way! How dare they!

Following Frances as she makes friends and the girls seek to learn how to use their power feels like the perfect story for the time period. The book was character driven, but it also had a compelling plot. The more she learns about the magical underworld of New York City, the more she begins to fear the strange, new world she inhabits may be related to her brother’s death four months earlier, the murder she’d do anything to solve. 

To make matters more twisted is Oliver Callahan, the boy who is now attending Columbia and was also a friend of her brothers who now thinks he can be helpful to Frances. This is a strange twisted world with secret societies of both witches, and men who to belong to a society of male witches. The most frustrating and thus reason for my rating is Frances. She goes full throttle and then learns that everything is not what it seems. 

Instead of taking things slowly, all her focus is on finding out who murdered her brother, and why the police have basically done nothing to find the killer. As Frances steps out of her comfort zone, she gets deeper, and deeper into things that will test her in every way possible. Fair warning, I don't see where the author has said this is part of a series which is too bad since she leaves a stunning cliffhanger ending for readers to deal with.

On a personal note, I am glad that we are now living in a better world where medical professionals know how to deal with patients with TB. In the early 20th century, at the time of this story, TB patients were shoved into sanatorium's and left there without being able to see their families. Some, like the authors grandmother, were lucky to survive until old age. I knew an elderly lady who had TB. She was afraid of having anyone kiss her on the lips for fear of spreading the virus. The condition is highly stigmatized, with considerable discrimination towards sufferers. Although there have been several studies assessing the extent of such discrimination, there is little published research explicitly investigating the causes of the stigma and discrimination associated with TB.   

Friday, August 27, 2021

#Review - The Endless Skies by Shannon Price #YA #Fantasy #Epic

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Release Date: August 17, 2021
Publisher: Tor Teen
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Epic

A breakout epic fantasy YA about a girl's desperate quest to save her city, for fans of Adrienne Young and Wonder Woman

High above the sea, floats the pristine city of the Heliana. Home to winged-lion shapeshifters—the Leonodai—and protected from the world of humans by an elite group of warriors, the Heliana has only known peace.

After years of brutal training, seventeen-year-old Rowan is ready to prove her loyalty to the city and her people to become one of the Leonodai warriors. But before Rowan can take the oath, a deadly disease strikes the city’s children. Soon the warriors—including two of Rowan’s closest friends—are sent on a dangerous mission to find a fabled panacea deep within enemy lands.

Left behind, Rowan learns a devastating truth that could compromise the mission and the fate of the Heliana itself. She must make a decision: stay with the city and become a warrior like she always dreamed, or risk her future in an attempt to save everyone she loves. Whatever Rowan decides, she has to do it fast, because time is running out, and peace can only last so long...

Shannon Price's The Endless Skies is the authors sophomore follow up to A Thousand Fires. This book revolves around three key players: Shirene, Rowan, and Callen. Shirene begins the story as the Ninth Sentinel, but soon becomes the King's Voice replacing an alleged traitor who left Heliana for the human realm of Balmora. Rowan is Shirene's younger sister, a warrior-elect who is just finishing 4 years of brutal training, and someone whose character growth turns the pages of this story. Callen is Rowan's best friend, a warrior, who believes that Rowan is his fated mate but she may have already fallen for another. 

All three characters are Leonodai; a race of shifters who can transform into winged lions. They are one of four remaining Kingdoms; 2 on Vyrinterra, 1 in the seas, and one in the skies. There is a dire situation for all Leonodai. In the floating city of Heliana, children under 12 are dying of a mysterious illness, and it continues to spread quickly. The only cure just happens to be in the human lands where the Humans are refusing to accept peace talks after the King refused to help them feed their people. When Callen is chosen to be among those who are given orders to bring back the healing flower, Rowan does the unthinkable.

After learning from the alleged traitor that the scholars and those in charge are lying about the situation, she goes absent without permission and flies to Balmora hoping she can help find the healing flower before the prince heir dies in a few days. She knows she risks being branded a traitor but Rowan makes her decision to leave home and follow the warriors already searching for a cure. She gets more than she expected. The only place that this flower is likely to be found is in the human city of Ramsgate. 

But Ramsgate doesn't care for the Leonodai after they refused to help provide food for the humans living here. Plus, the General in charge is just itching for a war between races. In this world, humans are basically destroying their own planet. They have infected the waters, and the air, and were responsible for killing off one of the original races. Sadly, there is a minor love triangle for one of the characters. You can guess who. This ends up resolving itself when one of the character realizes that her heart belongs to the one person who has been their since they were kids.

This isn't by any means a spoiler, but I will say this. I don't appreciate characters being killed off for absolutely no reasons whatsoever. I am not going to say who falls, and who lives. I am going to say that the ending makes absolutely no sense with one of these characters missing. In fact, the death takes place literally pages from the ending itself! I appreciate the fact that this is a standalone and not part of a series. I appreciated that the book revolved around 3 characters so that we could see what was happening elsewhere, but Rowan is still my favorite.


Thursday, August 26, 2021

#Review - You Can Run by Karen Cleveland #Thriller #Suspense #Espionage

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Release Date: August 31, 2021
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Thrillers / Suspense / Espionage

A CIA analyst makes a split-second decision that endangers her country but saves her son—and now she must team up with an investigative journalist she’s not sure she can trust in this electrifying thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of Need to Know. 

We have your son. It’s the call that’s every parent’s nightmare. And for CIA analyst Jill Bailey, it’s the call that changes everything. It’s Jill’s job to vet new CIA sources. Sources like Falcon, who’s been on the fast-track to recruitment. But before she can get to work, she gets the call. Her son has been taken. And to get him back, Jill does something she thought she’d never do. 

Alex Charles, a hard-hitting journalist, begins to investigate an anonymous tip: an explosive claim about the CIA’s hottest new source. This is the story that Alex has been waiting for. The tip—and a fierce determination to find the truth—leads Alex to Jill, who would rather remain hidden.

“Breathe a word of this to anyone and you’ll never see your son again.”
Former CIA counter-terrorism analyst Karen Cleveland returns with her third book called You Can Run. The author takes a shot at her former employer in a book that once again dives into the world of spies, betrayal, twists and turns,and an unbelievable ending. Jill Bailey who was a CIA case officer now working the Damascus desk. When a cable comes in asking her to approve an alleged Syrian Defense official code name Falcon, she has no idea that her world will be turned on its head. Jill isn't one who takes the easy way out. She verifies before trusting.

However, when she receives a phone call telling her that they have her son Owen, she has 3 minutes to verify the information. Falcon appears to be a Syrian Defense Official with access to bio-weapons. If she approves the request without due diligence, there's a good chance Falcon could be a double agent. What would any mother do? She approves the request, and then she resigns her job and runs. Even though she and her husband Drew move to Florida to escape, Jill once again finds that she's wrong when she receives another message telling her she can run, but she can't hide. 
Meanwhile, investigative journalist Alex Charles is working on a story about the Syrian bio-warfare program and the source of U.S. intelligence information. Alex received an encrypted message telling her there is a story worth reporting. They tell Alex that people deserve to know the truth about Falcon. After diving into her sources at various agencies, Alex learns that Jill Bailey, now Smith, resigned from the CIA and moved away. She also learns that a case officer allegedly committed suicide 4 years ago that may or may not be linked to what's happening.
4 years later, Jill Smith is still keeping a secret about Owen's kidnapping from Drew, and she has a new daughter to worry about now. She's taken a new job teaching, and things seem normal albeit boring. However, when journalist Alex Charles contacts Jill for some answers about what she’s discovered, Jill once again faces a hard choice. Tell Drew and fear losing him. Keep quiet, and hope it all goes away. Or, come clean about what she did and face possible jail time for breaking protocol. 
The choice is made for her when Alex refuses to back down, and refuses to give up on a story that could be her key to a Pulitzer. Jill and Alex find themselves working together to uncover a traitor, an extremely dangerous individual who could bring catastrophe in his wake. What is apparent is that someone either within the CIA, or Russia, or China, is pushing the US into war with Syria. The action really ramps up now as Alex and Jill work together to uncover the traitor and the truth and save her children and maybe prevent a war. 
I think one of the worst things about this story is the ending. As with the authors previous book called Need to Know, the ending left a bad taste in my mouth. If you are a reader following along in this book, it is pretty apparent that things are going to go one way or the other. The author once again chooses to leave readers stunned and angry. What is also apparent after reading two out of three books is that the author apparently has an axe to grind with her former employer. She's not the only one if you are paying attention to current world events. If you don't believe, me, start by reading Need to Know, and then pick up this book and tell me I'm wrong. I'll be waiting. 


The clock in the corner of my screen reads 10:59 a.m. I stare at the digits, willing them to change, and for time to pass a little bit quicker. The minutes just after eleven will pass at warp speed; they always do. But the ones before are endless, interminable.

A muted chime dings, the familiar sound of a new cable hitting my queue. My gaze shifts from the clock in the corner to the browser window, open to the cable-­tracking system, Fortress. A list of cables arrayed like an email inbox, the new one at the top, in bold type.

From Damascus Station. Request for Encryption of New Source, FALCON.

I knew the cable was coming, just didn’t know it’d be today. It’s a quick recruitment, for sure. But this guy, the one we’re now calling Falcon, he’s been on the fast track since day one, no doubt about that. He’s set to be the CIA’s newest source, once I vet him and send the cable up the chain. Something I’ll start working on in exactly thirty-­one minutes.

I shift my gaze back down to the clock just in time to see it hit 11:00.

Control-­Alt-­Delete. The cable system disappears, replaced with a small version of the Agency seal set against a black background. I catch sight of my reflection in the screen, and it catches me off guard, how little it looks like me. Hair in desperate need of a cut—­and a style. Dark circles that no amount of makeup or coffee can fade.

Not the way I always imagined I’d look at this point in my life, for sure. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It took three years of hopes and tears and injections—­and all our savings—­to get here.

“Eleven o’clock already?” Jeremy asks from the cubicle across from mine, right on cue. Same question every day. Creatures of habit, both of us.

I stand and grab my tote bag, sling it over my arm. “Sure is.”

“Enjoy your lunch, Jill.” He smiles awkwardly, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose. From anyone else it might seem like a dig, a why-­on-­earth-­are-­you-­taking-­a-­lunch-­break-­at-­eleven, but not from Jeremy. From him it’s just conversation.

Besides, eleven’s lunchtime, no doubt about it. Four hours of work, half-­hour lunch, four more hours until the end of the day. The perfect midpoint. And more importantly, the thirty-­minute window during which I’m guaranteed to catch sight of Owen. After his morning nap, before the afternoon one. Eleven’s the scheduled time for his second bottle of the day, and now a container of pureed veggies, too.

If you’d have told me six months ago I’d see a cable like that in my queue and skip out at precisely eleven to watch an infant eat mashed peas, I’d have laughed. A baby won’t change anything, I’d have said. Turns out, he changed everything.

Fact of the matter is, this is the kind of cable a reports officer like me lives for. The chance to vet a source like Falcon, at a time like this.

He’s a Syrian defense official attached to a covert biowarfare program, working deep in one of our darkest of black holes. And biowarfare’s the new hot topic, like terrorism after 9/11. We’ve seen the fear a pandemic sows, the hit it takes on an economy.

Our adversaries have seen it, too. And quite frankly, that terrifies us.

By all accounts, everyone’s ramping up their biowarfare programs. But penetrations of these covert programs are sorely lacking. And we at the CIA are desperate for sources.

A. J. Graham’s the one who’s behind this recruitment. Our best case officer in Damascus. It’s my job to double-­check his work, make sure he didn’t miss anything, that he hasn’t been compromised, blackmailed. I’m a trained case officer myself, but I traded life in the field for a desk at headquarters when Drew and I learned we’d have to start IVF.

I wade through the sea of cubicles and out of the windowless vault, with its stark, bare walls and too-­bright fluorescent lighting. Down the narrow hall now, my pace quick, and up two flights of stairs to ground level. I badge out through an electronic turnstile, passing the host of armed guards. Into the lobby, then out into the sunshine.

A blast of warm air hits me, magnified by having left the frigid AC. It’s June, and it’s got to be close to ninety already. I wonder if they took Owen out for a stroller ride before it got too hot; I hope so. I can probably squeeze in another before dinner.

The path leading to the parking garage is perfectly landscaped, flanked on either side by vibrant blooms, and right now it’s almost empty. No one else is leaving at this hour, and I pass only a single person heading toward the building: a woman in a suit, an impenetrable briefcase clutched tight at her side. A briefer, no doubt, heading back from downtown.

My RAV4’s on the top level of the parking garage, which, oddly enough, is at ground level; the lower levels are built into a hill. I’m halfway down one of the middle rows, like always. I slide into the car and start the engine, crank the AC. Then I open my laptop on the seat next to me, power it on. While it’s booting up, I turn on my cellphone, then take my lunch bag out of my tote, open it up. Looks like Drew packed us salads today, topped with leftover grilled chicken from last night. I take out the plastic containers and arrange them on the center console.

I have this process down by now, know the exact order to maximize these thirty precious minutes. As soon as the phone’s ready, I switch on the mobile hotspot. Then I open up a browser on the laptop, navigate to Favorites, click on the one saved link. A flashy homepage appears almost instantly.

All Children’s Learning Academy. Learning Through Play. Ages 6 weeks to 6 years. I use the touchpad to move the cursor to the upper right corner. Parent Login. Type in my username, password, hit return, and a new screen appears. Infant Room. I click the link below—­Live View—­and wait for the video feed to load.

It’s a little strange, I know, eating lunch in my car. But personal electronic devices are prohibited inside the building, and I’d never access something personal like this from my work computer. And it’s not like I’m missing out on much social interaction. Before maternity leave I ate lunch at my desk every day, worked straight through. Most everyone in the vault does. I do feel a bit guilty for actually taking my lunch break, but eight hours—­ten with the commute—­is too long not to see Owen. If there’s one thing I’ve learned since he was born, it’s that guilt is inescapable.

Black-­and-­white footage appears on the screen, a trio of boxes, three separate camera angles. The main play area, littered with toys; the cribs lined up in the napping section; the kitchen, with a row of identical high chairs. Everything except the diaper-­changing station.

I focus on the kitchen. There are two babies side by side in the row of high chairs, but neither is Owen. I look in his crib—­empty—­and scan the others, but there’s just a single baby still sleeping, one with a thick head of dark hair, completely unlike Owen’s blond fuzz.

Play area next. A handful of babies crawling around, one mouthing a plastic toy, another two strapped into low bouncy chairs. No sign of Owen. He must be getting a diaper change.

I glance at the clock in the corner of the screen. 11:07. Still plenty of time. I reach for the salad container on the console, pry off the lid, pour on the vinaigrette that Drew carefully packed in a separate little container—­

A shrill ring from my phone startles me. I reach for it, check the illuminated screen. Unknown. Probably some sort of spam—­

I press the green button and hold the phone to my ear. “Hello?”

“We have your son.”

The voice is deep, robotic, devoid of inflection. An electronically altered voice, the kind I’ve heard in horror films.

We have your son.

Panic grips me. This isn’t real. This can’t be real.

Everything’s calm in that room. Normal. Not like someone burst in there and nabbed a child—­

“Who are you?” I ask.

“Breathe a word of this to anyone and you’ll never see your son again.”

It’s a scam. It has to be. I’ve read about this, seen it on the news. A parent receives a call like this, their child’s abducted or in trouble, and they panic, clear out their bank accounts, hand over everything. And all the while, the kid’s going about his day, safe at school or home or whatever.

I get it now. I get why they run straight to the bank. Because this is terrifying.

I stare at the video feed, the side of the play area that leads to the diaper-­changing station. He’s going to be in that frame any minute now, clean diaper, ready for his bottle. He has to be.

“You have three minutes to verify this information.”

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

#Review - Supernatural Shadow (Aisha Bone #1) by Fatima Fayez #Fantasy

Series: Aisha Bone # 1
Format: Kindle, 192 pages
Release Date: May 4th 2021
Publisher: Kitabi Press
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Genre: Fantasy

Some people call me an assassin, personally, I prefer the term bounty hunter.

In a world where magic is hidden from the general population, I'm hired to keep our secrets safe and take care of rogues by whatever means necessary.

When I accidentally targeted the wrong person, the Alliance offered me a deal -- go to jail or work for them. Their first official request was to locate a vampire I thought I killed years ago. By the time I found him, he was going to wish he had stayed dead.

Supernatural Slayer is an action-packed urban fantasy romp through Barcelona with an assorted cast of witches, vampires, and shifters. It may also feature a snarky troll or two.

Supernatural Shadow, by author Fatima Fayez, is the first installment in the authors Aisha Bone series. Aisha Bone first appeared in The Solstice Shenanigans anthology. This story takes place entirely in Barcelona. It is a place that has a mixture of witches, vampires, gargoyle's, dragons, nymphs, dwarves, werewolves, demons, and angel's. Aisha Bone is a 1/2 witch bounty hunter who is also one of the top bounty hunters in the city. On one hand she brings back bounty's dead or alive, on the other, she takes harder jobs that make her more money.

After a shifter refuses to be taken in, and ends his own life, Aisha finds herself in hot water. Thanks to her friend Mateu, who just happens to be a gargoyle, Aisha learns that the shifter alpha isn't at all happy with her and demands that she stop killing his people. Aisha's best friend and roommate is Noor, who just happens to be 1/2 devil and 1/2 angel which the supernatural world doesn't take kindly to. You are either one or the other, never shall the two mix. Luckily for Noor, Aisha understands because she's because an out-clan witch who has been looked down upon for most of her life.

I think the most curious aspect of this story is the title. If that doesn't clue you into the point that there is something you, as a reader, needs to clue yourself in on, then it's like the meme with the point going over the persons head. Aisha could be considered to be a loose cannon. She killed her former boyfriend who was a vampire who wanted to expose the supernatural world to humanity. She finds herself in a no win situation after she is caught red handed killing a vampire. And, she soon finds that the only option is to work for the organization that has put a large price on your head. 

To make things even more twisted, she's expected to once again find a vampire who is threatening to go to the public and stop him. Guess who? There is a bit of romance in this book and that's after Aisha encounters a Fae who works for ASP named Leo. This is a pretty short book. It almost makes sense to read the entire trilogy first before wring a review. Alas, I chose to do otherwise.


Tuesday, August 24, 2021

#Review - Twin Daggers by MarcyKate Connolly #YA #Fantasy

Series: Twin Daggers # 1
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Release Date: August 25, 2020
Publisher: Blink
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy

From New York Times bestselling author MarcyKate Connolly comes Twin Daggers, a fantasy spin on Romeo and Juliet … if Juliet had a twin sister and they both were magic-wielding spies sent undercover on a mission to find and kidnap the heir to the Technocrat throne. 

In this first book of a YA fantasy duology, magic-wielding spies and twin sisters Aissa and Zandria want nothing more than to take revenge on the society that conquered their people … but for Aissa, completing her mission could mean choosing between Zandria’s freedom and saving the life of a sworn enemy who has stolen her heart.

Twin Daggers is:

  • a fantasy spin on Romeo and Juliet, filled with forbidden love and dangerous stakes

  • an action and adventure page-turner featuring a strong female protagonist

  • perfect for fans of Elly Blake, Sabaa Tahir, and Sarah J. Maas

Twin Daggers is the first part of a two part duology by author MarcyKate Connolly. Once upon a time in the land of Palinor, Magi were once powerful people until they were decimated by people called Technocrats during the Magi War. Technocrats bombed schools, hospitals, and those who were left, went into hiding. 16-year-old Aissa Donovan’s life is a web of carefully constructed lies. By day, she and her sister Zandra play the role of normal young Technocrats eager to fulfill the duties of their new apprenticeships. 

By night, they work for the Magi’s spy organization, which seeks to overthrow the Technocrats who subjugated their people. Aissa and Zandria have been given the job of mapping the tunnels underground. They are searching for a lost library where they hope they will find spells stolen by the Technocrats. The sisters take their lives in their hands knowing that if they are caught, it is game over. They have two basic rules: never trust a Technocrat. Never underestimate a machine. Aissa is unique in that she has control over machines.

Soon Aissa is given her greatest mission: find and kidnap the heir to the Technocrat throne, who is rumored to be one of the Heartless—a person born without a working heart who survives via a mechanical replacement—and has been hidden since birth. Aissa has never been one to turn down an assignment, even if the hunt is complicated by a kind Technocrat researcher who is determined to find a cure for the Heartless. A researcher who finds that Aissa may hold the answer to finding a cure.

Aissa’s new apprenticeship is a gift; she is able to get into the palace and find a way to help her people get revenge. But when Zandria is captured, Aissa will do anything to get her sister back. Even if it means abandoning all other loyalties … and risking everything by trusting the enemy. Aissa is the more serious and reserved of the sisters, while her sister is impulsive and charming. The more you read this book, the more you will find that nothing is what it appears, and secrets, and more secrets could cost the sisters everything because of betrayal and Aissa falling for the boy who makes her heart beat fast.

Aro is a very intriguing character, he is compassionate and determined. He is willing to make up his own mind, and not just follow what he is told. Remy is also a very interesting character, a lifelong friend of Aissa and Zandria, he is at times brooding and secretive, and there were times when I didn't know what to think of him. The one thing you can guarantee with duologies is that there will almost always be a cliffhanger ending. There are a lot of twists and questions and I am happy that I have the sequel ready to go on my Kindle.

Monday, August 23, 2021

#Review / #Blog Tour / #Excerpt - True Dead (Jane Yellowrock #14) by Faith Hunter

Jane Yellowrock # 14
Format: Paperback, 384 pages
Release Date: September 14, 2021
Publisher: Ace Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Jane Yellowrock goes back to the city where it all began in the newest installment of this thrilling New York Times bestselling series.

Jane used to hunt vampires, but now she’s their queen. She’s holed up in the mountains with the Yellowrock Clan, enjoying a little peace, when a surprise attack on her people proves that trouble is brewing. Someone is using very old magic to launch a bid for power, and it’s all tied to the place where Jane was first drawn into the world of Leo Pellissier—the city of New Orleans.

Jane is compelled to return to NOLA because someone is trying to destabilize the paranormal world order. And because she now sits near the top of the vampire world, the assault is her problem. She will do what she must to protect what’s hers. Her city. Her people. Her power. Her crown.

True Dead is the 14th installment in author Faith Hunter's Jane Yellowrock series. If you haven't read Shattered Bonds or Dark Queen yet, I highly recommend that you do so since this story is not a standalone. It's the aftermath of the previous books events. Jane is a shapeshifting, skinwalker who used to hunt vampires for a living. She was very good it. After moving to New Orleans, she soon became the master of the city's enforcer. After standing with Leo Pellissier against a serious threat from European vampires, she's now the Dark Queen of the Mithrans thanks to powerful relics. 
She's also Leader of Clan Yellowrock, and Master of the City New Orleans which means that she literally has a large group of people surrounding her trying to keep her safe. To top things off, Jane has become a scary combination of beast and human since coming back from the arcenciel rift. A half Human/Half beast mode that makes her look as deadly as anything, or anyone she'll have to face. When Eli plans a recon that turns into a rescue, it ends in a surprise attack on Jane and Bruiser by vampires, humans, onorio's, and a firestarter. 
Jane knows that it's because she's become the most valuable target in the world. She's not only has political value, but the significance of taking her down and out of the picture, would change the balance of power. Someone is using very old magic to launch a bid for power, and it’s all tied to the place where Jane was first drawn into the world of Leo Pellissier—the city of New Orleans. Leo had been fighting the European vamps for centuries, playing a long game. When Jane arrived on the scene, he knew she would be the wild card to tip the world on its axis. 
Jane is compelled to return to NOLA because someone is trying to destabilize the paranormal world order. And because she now sits near the top of the vampire world, the assault is her problem. Another reason to return to NOLA is the wedding between Jodi and Wrassler which is beautiful. Part of the book is once again through the eyes of beast with banter between Beast and Jane. It's funny if you think about it. One upon a time, Jane was an orphan. She's since learned she has a brother who works for PsyLED. She's has a relationship with Bruiser which only gets stronger. 
She has new characters who try to keep her out of danger knowing that they will eventually fail since nobody keeps Jane from doing what she wants to do. There is a surprise in this book which someone have already spoiled. If you like spoilers, try Goodreads. There's also a hint of things to come in the next installment which I won't spoil. This book is filled with action, powerful new villains, and Jane being Jane and not taking any crap from anyone. 

Excerpt #1

Chapter One title: A Dervish in the Dark. Poetry with Bloody Blades.

Part One

Beast woke in big bed, tangled in Jane clothes. Sniffed soft, not loud, not what Jane called Flehmen sound, but hunter’s sound. Silent. Bruiser was not in big bed. Had not slept in big bed.

Beast rolled over and sat. Put front paw on Jane sleep clothes. Wriggled out. Did not claw or tear Jane clothes. Did not want Jane to be sad. Beast was not happy to be Beast form. Knew Jane would not be happy to be Beast form.

Jane had gone to sleep in human form. Jane body turned into Beast while Jane slept. Was not first time Jane body changed shape in sleep, and not when Jane or Beast wanted change.

Had happened many more than five times since Jane was healed in waters of arcenciel rift.

Sickness that was killing Jane was gone. But much was wrong with Jane body. Jane could not hold shape for many hours. Beast did not know how to help Jane. Was bad.

Angel of Beast—Hayyel—was not helping Jane.

Mate of Jane—Bruiser—could not help Jane.

Molly, mate of Molly—Evan—Angie could not help Jane.

Jane could not help Jane. Jane was angry.

Jane clan was worried.

Beast did not worry as stupid humans worried. But Beast feared Beast had missed important thing.

Beast studied place in Beast mind where Jane slept. Jane dreams swirled, like leaf on fast water. Jane breathed fast, as if monster chased her. Needed deep calm sleep like dark pool in forest. Beast pressed down on Jane self, deeper into sleep. Jane breathing went smooth.

Beast slid to floor. No thump sounded. Silent hunter landing.

Beast went to window. Put front paws on narrow ledge, standing high on back paws to see into dark with Beast’s night vision, looking into world of silvers and greens and grays. Looked out at hills and many trees with bright leaves, what Jane called mountain forest in autumn. Beast did not want to leave mountains. Was best time to hunt: female deer in heat, male deer stupid with rut and running fast, fat autumn moon making hunt effortless, cool wind so Beast could hunt for long time.

But Jane had to leave mountains and go to place of salty water called New Orleans. Was Dark Queen need. Beast understood power in African lion pride or Puma family clan or clowder of cats. Understood that Jane had to keep peace, hunt Jane enemies, swat and claw and nurse Jane clan, and do Jane things. Understood. Did not like.

Beast tilted head. No light came from place where grapes rotted into pungent stench to make human wine. Was stupid thing to do, but Bruiser said that making wine was like Beast burying carcass in snow to eat later. Bruiser was not in wine-making place. Bruiser was not here.

Beast dropped to floor. Sniffed pile of luggage on floor in corner. Was Dark Queen clothes for New Orleans. Jane had packed for big human-witch-vampire event in New Orleans, for Jodi to mate with Wrassler in what Jane called wedding. Jane had packed for fighting too. Much killing things, hunting things.

About Faith Hunter:

Faith Hunter is the award-winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Jane Yellowrock, Soulwood, Rogue Mage, and Junkyard Cats series. In addition, she has edited several anthologies and co-authored the Rogue Mage RPG. She is the coauthor and author of 16 thrillers under pen names Gary Hunter and Gwen Hunter. Altogether she has 40+ books and dozens of short stories in print and is juggling multiple projects.

She sold her first book in 1989 and hasn’t stopped writing since.

Faith collects orchids and animal skulls, loves thunderstorms, and writes. She likes to cook soup, bake bread, garden, and kayak Class II & III whitewater rivers. She edits the occasional anthology and drinks a lot of tea. Some days she’s a lady. Some days she ain't.

Find Faith online at -

Website: www.faithhunter.net, Gwen Hunter: www.gwenhunter.com

Facebook (official): https://www.facebook.com/official.faith.hunter

Facebook fan group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/753410901426312

Twitter: @hunterfaith

Yellowrock Securities website: http://www.yellowrocksecurities.com 


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