Monday, May 23, 2022

#Review - Kagen the Damned (Kagen the Damned #1) by Jonathan Maberry

Series: Kagen the Damned (#1)
Format: Paperback, 560 pages
Release Date: May 10, 2022
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Source: Publisher
Genre: Epic Fantasy / Dark Fantasy

The first installment of an exciting new series of dark epic fantasy novels from bestselling author Jonathan Maberry.

Kagen Vale is the trusted and feared captain of the palace guard, specifically charged with protecting the royal children of Gessleyn, 89th queen of the unbroken line of the Silver Lands. But one night, while Kagen is drugged by a woman in a tavern, the Silver Lands are overrun, and the entire royal family is killed and burned as a sacrifice to the dark gods of the immortal Witch-King. The once-thriving kingdom is in ruins, and the people are enslaved.

Haunted and broken, Kagen becomes a wanderer, working odd jobs and trying to take down as many of his enemies as possible, when he hears a rumor that the royal twins are still alive, and possibly being raised for dark sacrificial purposes. Kagen makes it his mission to hunt for the royal children and fulfill his oath to protect them, and train them to begin a campaign to reclaim the throne. As he hunts for the children, Kagen’s quest takes him to strange lands where he encounters the supernatural in all its many bizarre and terrifying aspects.


Kagen the Damned is the first installment in author Jonathan Maberry's Kagen the Damned series. The book is being sold as The Witcher meets Game of Thrones. Kagen Vale is the trusted and feared captain of the palace guard, specifically charged with protecting the royal children of Gessleyn, 89th queen of the unbroken line of the Silver Lands. He's also the son of the famous Poison Rose who is one of the deadliest women in the Silver Empire. But one night while off duty, Kagen is drugged by a woman in a tavern and left weaponless. 

The Silver Lands are  quickly overrun, and the entire royal family is killed and burned as a sacrifice to the dark gods of the immortal Gethon Haklan, the Hakkian Witch-King. The once-thriving kingdom is in ruins, and the people are enslaved. Kagen manages to survive by killing an unkillable killing machine with banefire. Kagen doesn't blame the Witch-King or his Raven Warriors who seem to have come out of nowhere and quickly suppressed any threat they may face. He blames himself for allowing himself to be put into a situation where he broke a promise to the Queen to protect her children at all costs. 

With his oath broken, and the Gods seemingly turning their backs on him in his time of need, Kagen becomes a wanderer, working odd jobs and trying to take down as many of his enemies as possible. While on the road falling deeper and deeper into malaise and alcoholism, he vows to kill as many of the Hakkian enemy as possible, with the end goal of killing the Witch-King of Hakkia before he can be coronated as emperor. In in a world where forbidden magic is now reawakening and strange things are happening, Kagen isn't the only one Maberry sets on a journey. 

There is also the nun Miri and a fifteen year old girl Ryssa who manage to escape the capital city and find themselves in a far off land where things are a bit confusing as well as hinky. What role they will eventually play, really doesn't concern me at this point. Meanwhile, Kagen's only allies are Filia, a female warrior who is Unbladed or Outcast who is on a mission for Mother Frey, Tuke, a man who is as dangerous as Kagen is but without a hoard of enemies wanting his head, as well as Mother Frey who has been around for centuries and can be described as an inquisitor who missed magic making a return to this world and now must fix her error.

Who is the Witch-King that came from nowhere and is so enigmatic with a veil covering his face? Are any of Kagen's brothers still alive, and if so, where are they? Can Mother Frey overcome her errors in not seeing the return of the Witch King? Even though the book ends on a stunning cliffhanger, with a revelation that I think readers will see coming, the epilogue opens a path to the sequel to this book. This book is really dark, and bloody, and at times, Kagen isn't all that likable. He's literally given signs via flashbacks that should have clued him in on what's happening and who is responsible. This is also a new world now that has vampires, and fairies, and even werewolves. Anything is possible with magic roaring back. 





Friday, May 20, 2022

#Review - The Resistance Girl by Mandy Robotham #Historical #Romance

Series: Standalone
Format: Paperback, 432 pages
Release Date: May 10, 2022
Publisher: Avon
Source: Publisher
Genre: Romance / Historical

Norway, 1942. War rages, and operation Shetland bus is in full swing. Under cover of darkness, Rumi Orlstad and other locals smuggle British agents, fugitives and supplies across the North Sea to the relative safety of Scotland.

But when one mission goes awry, and Rumi’s fiance is lost to the dangerous waters, she retreats from the clandestine group, vowing never to take to the seas again.

Meanwhile, her childhood friend Anya has been placed in Lebensborn, one of Himmler’s secret Aryan maternity camps. And when Rumi learns the fate of Anya’s child, she knows she has no choice but to face her fears and help Anya flee from Nazi grip.


Set against the backdrop of a Nazi-occupied Norway during World War II, author Mandy Robotham's The Resistance Girl is the story of the Norwegian resistance movement and shines a light on clandestine SOE group, The Shetland Bus, and the Lebensborn program, Himmler’s secret Aryan maternity camps that resulted in the kidnapping of hundreds of thousands of babies. This book is not just about Rumi Orlstad, it's also about SOE operative Jensen (Jens) Parkes who was raised in England, but has family in Norway in the way of his aunt Marjit Sabo.

Rumi lives in a small Norwegian town of Bergen and her widowed father Peder is a fisherman. Rumi is mourning the death of her fiancĂ© Magnus, who drowned while operating the ‘Shetland Bus’ (the secret special-ops waterway link between Shetland in Scotland and German-occupied Norway) promised herself that she would not get involved but soon does. The Shetland Bus is the amazing true-life account of storms, attacks, danger, and the heroic efforts of brave men. The Shetland Bus continued until the end of the war in 1945, during which time 210 missions were carried out and over 400 tons of weaponry, explosives and other supplies, delivered. 44 crewmen had lost their lives.

Jens is a member of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) who  survived Dunkirk, but still has memories of leaving his best friend behind to die, while he walked away with shrapnel in his leg. Jens drops into Bergen, Norway, where he and his partner Karl are picked up by Rumi. As a member of the SOE, Jens life is literally hanging in the balance. Any wrong move, and he's likely dead. Staying in front of the Germans as they set their explosives, destroying munitions, realizing retribution would be immediate, was a constant challenge. When a dangerous German, Lothar Selig from German Military Intelligence, is able to get a fix on his messages, Jens becomes one of the most wanted men in Norway. The only thing that keeps his sanity is Rumi and her strength. 

The realism in this story comes from both The Shetland Bus, which made a permanent link between Scotland, and Norway after Germany invaded Norway, as well as the Lebensborn program, Himmler’s secret Aryan maternity camps that resulted in the kidnapping of hundreds of thousands of babies. Most Norwegian women have blond hair and blue eyes, which made perfect subjects for the Third Reich and childless German couples.  

The Lebensborn aspect of the story is important to Rumi after her best friend Anya gets herself in trouble and pregnant and she has to work to help her escape to safety. We do get a glimpse of the Lebensborn in Bergen through the eyes of Lauritzens family housekeeper and trusted family companion, Fru Nesse. Her extended family is threatened with dire consequences if she reveals anything of what is now happening in the house. Without spoiling anything, Nesse gives readers a glimpse into what the operation begins with, and how certain characters tried hard to escape knowing what was going to happen to their babies.

The Resistance Girl is very well written and researched story. I actually love seeing different resistance groups in different parts of Europe and how they gave up everything to keep Hitler from taking over the entire world. The romance isn't so strong that it takes up large parts of the story. Jens love for his aunt who is like a mother to Rumi grows on her in the long run. Jens aunt is also a strong character as was Peder and Rubio who lay their lives on the line every day to their beloved Norway.





#Review - Riwenne & the Mechanical Beasts by Kristen S. Walker #Teen #YA #Steampunk

Series: Divine Warriors # 1
Format: Kindle, 276 pages
Release Date:  January 24th 2018
Publisher: Kristen S. Walker
Source: Amazon
Genre: Teen, YA, Steampunk

Suggested Reading: 13-17

A clumsy school girl with the magic of a goddess. Mechanical beasts attacking her friends. Can she become a divine warrior and save the floating city?

Fifteen-year-old Riwenne is bad at school, chronically late, and lost in a daydream, but she has help from her best friend, Nexita—until the two of them get separated. During the mysterious test on Choosing Day, they both wanted to become priestesses, an important job in the sky city. But only Riwenne became a novice, and Nexita was chosen by the engineers. Now she’s on her own for the first time in her life.

When a talking bird tells her that her best friend is under attack, Riwenne faces her worst fear. She must become a divine warrior and save her best friend from mechanical beasts!

As she juggles warrior training and priestess duties, Riwenne can’t let herself get distracted. She must recruit other warriors and lead the quest to find out the mystery behind the mechanical beasts, but most of all, she must follow her heart.

If she trusts the wrong person, she’ll face the gods’ judgment.


Riwenne & the Mechanical Beasts is the first installment in author Kristen S. Walker's Divine Warriors series. In the floating city of Lyndamon are essentially raised by the state and don't know their parents. 15-year-old Riwenne is bad at school, chronically late, and lost in a daydream, but she has help from her best friend, Nexita—until the two of them get separated. During the mysterious test on Choosing Day, they both wanted to become priestesses, an important job in the sky city. 

But only Riwenne became a novice, and Nexita was chosen by the engineers. Now she’s on her own for the first time in her life. When a talking bird named Tika, from the sea goddess who has been invading her dreams, tells her that her best friend is under attack, Riwenne faces her worst fear. She must become a divine warrior and save her best friend from mechanical beasts! As she juggles warrior training and priestess duties, Riwenne can’t let herself get distracted. 

She must recruit other warriors and lead the quest to find out the mystery behind the mechanical beasts, but most of all, she must follow her heart. The book plays to the strength of the Magical Girl anime genre as the main character gathers her team of powerful girls with their customized outfits and powers. Riwenne becomes a leader of a group of divine warriors, each who have chosen a god or goddess of their own to enhance their abilities.

I am going to come out and say that this book is way too young for someone my age. Amazon says book is recommended for those 13-17. The books final chapters are the most exciting as well as action packed.  Riwenne also spends a whole lot of time in heat over her new roommate who has no uses for Riwenne's nonsense or Tika's constant presence in their room. That, of course, changes after they are forced to work together to fight off mechanical beasts who seem to target specific individuals. 

I do not recommend this to anyone over the age of 30. At times the dialogue is churlish, and it feels as though an actual 15 year old wrote the story. I won't be continuing the series at this point. 





Thursday, May 19, 2022

#Review - Elektra by Jennifer Saint #Fantasy #Mythology

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Release Date: May 3, 2022
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology

A spellbinding reimagining of the story of Elektra, one of Greek mythology’s most infamous heroines, from the author of the beloved international bestseller, Ariadne

Three women, tangled in an ancient curse.

When Clytemnestra marries Agamemnon, she ignores the insidious whispers about his family line, the House of Atreus. But when, on the eve of the Trojan War, Agamemnon betrays Clytemnestra in the most unimaginable way, she must confront the curse that has long ravaged their family.

In Troy, Princess Cassandra has the gift of prophecy, but carries a curse of her own: no one will ever believe what she sees. When she is shown what will happen to her beloved city when Agamemnon and his army arrives, she is powerless to stop the tragedy from unfolding.

Elektra, Clytemnestra and Agamemnon’s youngest daughter, wants only for her beloved father to return home from war. But can she escape her family’s bloody history, or is her destiny bound by violence, too?


Jennifer Saint's Elektra weaves the stories of Clytemnestra, Cassandra, and Elektra together, allowing us to witness events during the Trojan War from their perspective. The House of Atreus is cursed. A bloodline tainted by a generational cycle of violence and vengeance. A spellbinding reimagining of the story of Elektra, one of Greek mythology’s most infamous heroines, from the author of the beloved international bestseller, Ariadne.

Clytemnestra was the daughter of Tyndareus and Leda, the King and Queen of Sparta, making her a Spartan Princess. She's also the sister of Helen, alleged daughter Zeus who chose Menelaus as her husband. But after a peace contingent from Troy arrives, she is spirited away by Paris, the prince of Troy. Agamemnon of Mycenae raises a great army against them, and determines to win, whatever the cost. But after he murders one of her daughters, Iphigenia, as a sacrifice to the Goddess Artemis, Clytemnestra spends the next 9 years waiting for Agamemnon to come back to war so that she can pay him back for the betrayal. Clytemnestra all but ignores her own daughter, Elektra, as well as the new born son Orestes. She begins a love affair with Aegisthus, her husband's cousin who saw his father Thyestes betrayed by Agamemnon. 

Cassandra was the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba, lords of Troy, making her a Princess of Troy, sister to Hector and Paris. Cursed by Apollo to see the future but never to be believed when she speaks of it, she knows that Paris is going to be the trigger a war that will see Troy face the entire Greek army when he returns with Helen. She is powerless to stop it since few people believe her prophecies. She saw that Troy would fall by a clever machination of the Greeks, but her fellow citizens, including her father, did not listen to her words, thus causing the end of the city. In a final embarrassment to her, she's taken by Agamemnon back to Sparta.
Cassandra is much more sympathetic than either Clytemnestra or Elektra.   

Elektra was the youngest daughter of King Agamemnon and Queen Clytemnestra of Mycenae. She was the sister of Iphigenia and Chrysothemis, as well as Orestes. Elektra story in this book is kind of twisted. She adores her father, who she barely knew, idolized him like he was Achilles, and is sad that it takes 9 years for him to return. Her singular focus and fixation and devotion to the idea of a man Elektra is a person who has this image in her head of her father and will do absolutely anything to keep up that image, including justifying his cruelty and brutality. She hates her mother because she not only ignored her for years, but plotted to assassinate her father with her lover. If you are into mythology, I would recommend that you look up her story and see that she and Orestes had an interesting.

The reason for my rating is simple. I would have liked this story more had the publisher and author separated the years. I know the story begins shortly before the Trojan War. I know that certain characters like Elektra and Orestes grow up quickly but there's no timeline as to how old these characters are at the end of the story. The Trojan War allegedly took place between 1194-1184 BC. 






Wednesday, May 18, 2022

#Review - A Whole New World (Twisted Tales) by Liz Braswell #YA #Retellings

Series: A Twisted Tale # 1
Format: Hardcover, 376 pages
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Fairy Tales & Folklore / Adaptations

What if Jafar was the first one to summon the Genie?

When Jafar steals the Genie’s lamp, he uses his first two wishes to become sultan and the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Agrabah lives in fear, waiting for his third and final wish.

To stop the power-mad ruler, Aladdin and the deposed Princess Jasmine must unite the people of Agrabah in rebellion. But soon their fight for freedom threatens to tear the kingdom apart in a costly civil war.

What happens next? A Street Rat becomes a leader. A princess becomes a revolutionary. And readers will never look at the story of Aladdin in the same way again.
 



A Whole New World, by author Liz Braswell, featuring Aladdin, kicks off a brand new YA line called Twisted Tales which takes classic Disney films and twists them into compelling, aged-up adventures. Each book will start off with the events of the familiar film before a "what if" moment is introduced, instantly propelling readers into an alternative history which develops the familiar, beloved characters in a fresh new way. The story almost assumes the reader is familiar with the Disney characters.

Unlike other fairytale retellings in the market, these books play upon recognizable Disney characters, worlds, and iconography, appealing to young and new adults who grew up with these stories and have a nostalgic attachment to them. This story features the same characters you would find in Aladdin. Aladdin, of course, Prince Jasmin, Genie, and Jafar. The story takes place in Agrabah. Aladdin is one of the Street Rats who live in the poorest section of town. It's filled with thieves, beggars, murderers and poor children who no one wants.

Aside from a few details like Aladdin's mom making a brief one-chapter appearance, this book sticks mostly to the 1992 movie. Then the twist happens. After a chance run-in with Princess Jasmine, Aladdin, a poor street rat, ends up arrested. An old man promises riches beyond his imagination, enough to even possibly buy himself into being a Prince and then eligible to marry Jasmine. All he has to do is get the old man an old lamp. One could say that at this point, things are going to get much darker.

When Jafar does not hold up his part of the bargain and takes the lamp for himself, chaos ensues in Aladdin's village, and Jasmine, Aladdin, Morgiana, and friends must rage a war against Jafar and his army, which includes zombies. Abu and Rajah were there as well, though Abu didn't have his same spunk. There is a whole new aspect of this story that may not appeal to those who watched the original movie. In fact, it's a bit offsetting. We know that no matter what happens, whether Jasmine becomes a rebel against Jafar, that the ending will likely be predictable.

I would say that if you want to read this book, borrow it from a friend, or the library. That way if it let's you down, you won't waste any money.






Tuesday, May 17, 2022

#Review - Edgewood by Kristen Ciccarelli #YA #Fantasy #Contemporary

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages
Release Date: March 1, 2022
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Contemporary

Internationally bestselling author Kristen Ciccarelli weaves an epic love story of a girl forced to return to the home she's left behind in order to break a terrible curse

No matter how far she runs, the forest of Edgewood always comes for Emeline Lark. The scent of damp earth curls into her nose when she sings and moss creeps across the stage. It’s as if the woods of her childhood, shrouded in folklore and tall tales, are trying to reclaim her. But Emeline has no patience for silly superstitions.

When she learns her grandfather disappeared from his nursing home, leaving only a milky orb in his wake, the stories Emeline has always scoffed at suddenly seem less foolish. After searching for him almost everywhere, Emeline finally succumbs to the call of Edgewood, entering the forest she has spent years trying to escape.

Emeline finds herself in the court of the fabled Wood King himself. She makes a deal—her voice for her grandfather’s freedom. Little does she know, she’s stumbled into the middle of a curse much bigger than herself, one that threatens the existence of a life she has worked so hard to forget.

With the help of a handsome and brooding tithe collector, a surly blacksmith, and a lost childhood friend, Emeline sets out to not only save her grandfather’s life, but to right past wrongs, and in the process, discover her true voice.



Kristen Ciccarelli's Edgewood is an epic love story of a girl forced to return to the home she's left behind in order to break a terrible curse. Two years ago, Emeline Lark left her small town of Edgewood to move to Montreal to pursue a career in music. Emeline wants to become a famous singer, joining tours, living a different life she’s left in the Edgewood. She's risen to the point where she is about ready to tour with a group called The Perennials soon. Of course, that's when things start to sideways. No matter how far she runs, the forest of Edgewood always comes for Emeline Lark. 
 
The scent of damp earth curls into her nose when she sings and moss creeps across the stage. No one notices the strange things that happen when she sings. It’s as if the woods of her childhood, shrouded in folklore and tall tales, are trying to reclaim her. But Emeline has no patience for silly superstitions. Someone at one of her stops steals her bottle of water. Then she learns that her grandfather, the person who raised her when her mother disappeared when she was child, goes missing from his nursing home. 
 
The only thing left behind is a milky orb in his wake. It seems as though the stories Emeline has always scoffed at suddenly seem less foolish. Her grandfather suffers from dementia, and she’s worried that he’s wandered into the woods. Nobody else seems to be trying to find him. After searching for him almost everywhere, Emeline finally succumbs to the call of Edgewood, entering the forest she has spent years trying to escape. Emeline finds herself in the court of the fabled Wood King himself where she learns that her grandfather was tithed.  
 
Little does she know, she’s stumbled into the middle of a curse much bigger than herself, one that threatens the existence of a life she has worked so hard to forget. With the help of a handsome and brooding tithe collector (Hawthorne Fell), a surly blacksmith (Sable Thorne), and a lost childhood friend (Grace Aber), Emeline sets out to not only save her grandfather’s life, but to right past wrongs, and in the process, discover her true voice. Emeline goes through a complicated and emotional journey, and she learns more than she ever bargained for.  
 
The one thing I really liked about Emeline was her relationship with her grandfather. She struggles with the thought of leaving him behind and putting him in a home where he can be watched. Emmeline's struggle for identity and belonging in terms of both her career and her personal life drew me in. One could say that the ending was predictable, but there's a few surprises and twists along the way. 





Monday, May 16, 2022

#Review - Acca by Christina Bauer #YA #Fantasy #Paranormal

Series: Angelbound Origins # 3
Format: Kindle, 330 pages
Release Date: July 9, 2019
Publisher: Monster House Books
Source: Amazon
Genre: YA / Fantasy / Paranormal

In just one week, supernatural warrior Myla Lewis must discover enough evidence to send the evil House of Acca to prison… or she’ll end up in jail herself, along with her fiancĂ©, Prince Lincoln. No pressure.

To gather proof, Myla and Lincoln go undercover at an all-girl’s high school on Earth. Lincoln acts as the new gym teacher; Myla becomes the school’s least popular transfer student ever. To stop them from getting the goods, Acca releases Hell on Earth. Literally. Good thing Myla and Lincoln aren’t afraid of a tough fight. This one promises to be the hardest yet. After all, who ever said high school wasn’t hell?


Acca is the third installment in author Christina Bauer's Angelbound Origins trilogy. Quasi Demon Myla Lewis, aka the Great Scala, who can move souls to hell and heaven, and her fiance, Prince Lincoln of the Thrax House of Rixa, who is part Angel, are on the hunt for evidence against House Acca which has been itching to take power from Lincoln's father, King Connor. Six months ago, Myla, with her dragon scaled tail, was one of the best arena fighters in Purgatory. Then she became the Great Scala after Armageddon tried to rule. 

After a demon steals their evidence stored in a Rixa Codex, Myla and Lincoln learn that a heavy hitter may still be controlling things. They only have a few days to gather all the evidence to bring before the Arbiter so she can decide the outcome of the case. The house of Acca has it in for Myla and Lincoln and wants them out of the way so they can take over Thrax so they are trying to send them to prison. With Myla and Lincoln about to be sent to jail, they manage to escape with the help of Myla's dad, Xavier, and find themselves on Earth.

They are going undercover at a school on Earth to find the evidence they need to clear their names. Myla will be going in as a student and Lincoln as a teacher. It is here they must uncover the proof they need in order to save Hell overpowering all the realms. But things are really bizzaro here. They learn that Aldred may be trying to bring back Armageddon for good if he can find the key to unlock Hell. There's lots to be said about Lincoln's father as well, but I'll reserve that for another time.

Coincidentally, it is also only a week away from Myla and Lincoln wedding day where they will become King and Queen of Thrax. The Thrax are still a bit angry at Myla for her actions in the previous installment, and needless to say, if Myla can't get through all the parties the mothers, Queen Octavia and President Camilla, insist on having, there may be bloodshed in Myla's future. A positive development, Myla still has absolutely no filter, and her tail has a mind of its own, although Myla is getting better at controlling when she says around certain people. Lincoln has had a good influence on her in that way. 

Very interesting ending to this story. Which obviously means that one needs to make a choice. Continue to the next book in the series, or flip over to one of the 300 other books I'd like to read this decade. Choices. Choices.





Friday, May 13, 2022

#Review - Spark of Ash by Molly E. Lee #Fantasy #Romance #Paranormal

Series: Ember of Night # 3
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages
Release Date: May 24, 2022
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Source: Publisher
Genre: Dark Fantasy / Romance / Paranormal

The final installment in Molly E. Lee’s compelling and compulsive angels-and-demons YA series will have readers on the edge of their seats with a conclusion no one saw coming.

The Seven—the Divine beings meant to protect the world—just declared war. On Harley. They took Ray, her baby sister, and they’re using her boyfriend, Draven, to do their dirty work.

But she’s not about to stand for that.

She may not be able to wipe them off the face of the earth right now, but she knows what can.

Thanks to an Ather connection, she’s found out about the Seven Scrolls. An ancient incantation made by the Creator to counteract the Seven’s great power, scattered into pieces across the world.

With the help of her new crew, Harley’s on the hunt. And with each located scroll, she faces new battles, bloodier and harder than she’s ever known before. But now the stakes are even higher, because Ray has always been her bright light in the darkness, and Draven is her hope when all seems lost—so what’s left if she doesn’t get them back?

Harley will become the scariest legend the world has ever known.


Spark of Ash is the final installment in author Molly E. Lee's Ember of Night trilogy. This story picks up right where Shadow of Light left off. The story is told in Draven's and Harley's POVs. Harley has been though literal Hell over the first two books in this series. After traveling to the Ather, she found out that she's the daughter of the man who the devil is based on, and she may end up having a hand in destroying the world. After her little sister Ray, and her mate Draven are taken away from her by Aphian, she accepts her birthright and unlocks Rainier from his prison.

Aphian demands the Harley find the Seven Scrolls. An ancient incantation made by the Creator to counteract the Seven’s great power, scattered into pieces across the world. Meanwhile, Draven is ordered to train Ray with her Seer powers and doesn't remember who Ray and Harley are to him. Thankfully, Harley has put together a group of individuals like Cassiel, the Angel of Death, Wallace, her Ather guide, and even Rainier, who is trying hard to make up for lost time with Harley, and trying to make her understand that what happened when she was born, was due to actions he had no control over.

Harley was supposed to be a weapon for Aphian and the Seven. But after all the danger she's been through, she's no longer interested in being guided or pushed around by abusive individuals like her stepfather and a megalomaniac who wants to change the world under his control. With her powers growing, and with seven different scrolls, in seven different locations from the Ather and Earth, Harley has her work cut out for her. To make matters even more twisted, one of the final stops on her tour de force is to come face to face with a supreme being who has stood back and didn't do anything while Aphian and his thugs were unleashing chaos on Earth and the Ather.

I gave this book a pretty good overall rating due to the fact that Harley has grown leaps and bounds since we first met her. She's powerful, she's very protective of Ray, who may end up becoming a force of her own, she has a group of people she can count on like Draven, Rainier, Wallace, Kaz, Nathan, Anka, Ryder, and Cassiel who will walk through hell with her and not give it a second thought. There are some surprises as well, and no, I don't think the ending was rushed in any way. Harley goes to battle. There are loses, and there's a heartwarming reunion with someone she thought dead. 





Thursday, May 12, 2022

#Review - A Rip Through Time by Kelley Armstrong #Historical #Mystery #SyFy

Series: A Rip Through Time # 1
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
Release Date: May 31, 2022
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Historical / Science Fiction / Time Travel

In this series debut from New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong, a modern-day homicide detective finds herself in Victorian Scotland—in an unfamiliar body—with a killer on the loose.

May 20, 2019: Homicide detective Mallory is in Edinburgh to be with her dying grandmother. While out on a jog one evening, Mallory hears a woman in distress. She’s drawn to an alley, where she is attacked and loses consciousness.

May 20, 1869: Housemaid Catriona Thomson had been enjoying a half-day off, only to be discovered that night in a lane, where she’d been strangled and left for dead . . . exactly one-hundred-and-fifty years before Mallory was strangled in the same spot.

When Mallory wakes up in Catriona's body in 1869, she must put aside her shock and adjust quickly to the reality: life as a housemaid to an undertaker in Victorian Scotland. She soon discovers that her boss, Dr. Gray, also moonlights as a medical examiner and has just taken on an intriguing case, the strangulation of a young man, similar to the attack on herself. Her only hope is that catching the murderer can lead her back to her modern life . . . before it's too late.

Outlander meets The Alienist in Kelley Armstrong's utterly compelling new series, mixing romance, mystery, and fantasy with thrilling results.


A Rip Through Time is the first installment in author Kelley Armstrong's A Rip Through Time series. 30-year-old Mallory Atkinson is a Detective for the Vancouver Police Department who is on leave in Edinburgh, Scotland where her grandmother is facing the end of her days. While out for a run, Mallory hears a woman scream and runs to help. She see's a blonde woman, and then is attacked by a stranger with a rope. What happens next is straight out of a bad dream. She wakes up, in the body of the woman named Catriona Mitchell.

The twist is that it is the year 1869, and Catriona is a 19-year-old housemaid who was similarly attacked in the same place only 150 years earlier. Catriona, Mallory learns, lives in Victorian Scotland, and she's not the nicest person you'll ever meet. Mallory must put aside her shock of being in a different reality, without her cell phone, while also living as a housemaid to an undertaker named Dr. Duncan Gray. Duncan moonlights as a medical examiner and has just taken on an intriguing case, the strangulation of a young man, similar to the attack on herself. Could the attacks be connected?

Even though Mallory is way ahead of her time in knowing the ins and outs of investigating murders, and science of the 21st century, she needs to learn to adapt to her surroundings and how to get back to her own time or face the possibility of being homeless without any friends. With a killer on the loose, Mallory hopes that by figuring out who was trying to kill her and Catriona will help her get home. A plus for readers like me, the romance aspect is missing. 

Instead, the author focuses on the mystery of who attacked Mallory, Catriona, as well as two others, and why a rip in time chose that moment to send Mallory out of her own body and into Catriona's. Mallory struggles in this new world hoping that she doesn't cause a butterfly affect. If she tells Duncan, or Isla too much, could she change the future? I think as the series progresses, Mallory will hopefully figure out how to get back to her family. Or, will the author choose to keep Mallory in 1869, and write a romance between Dr. Grey and Mallory?





Wednesday, May 11, 2022

#Review - Dig Two Graves by Gretchen McNeil #YA #Thrillers #Suspense

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
Release Date: April 26, 2022
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Thrillers & Suspense

One of Us is Lying meets Hitchcock in this novel from celebrated author of the #MurderTrending series, Gretchen McNeil.

I did my part, BFF. Now it’s your turn.

Seventeen-year-old film noir fan Neve Lanier is a girl who just wants to be seen, but doesn’t really fit in anywhere. When Neve is betrayed by her best friend, Yasmin, at the end of the school year, she heads off to a girl’s empowerment camp feeling like no one will ever love her again. So when she grabs the attention of the beautiful, charismatic Diane, she falls right under her spell, and may accidentally promise to murder Diane’s predatory step-brother, Javier, in exchange for Diane murdering Yasmin. But that was just a joke…right?

Wrong. When Yasmin turns up dead, Diane comes calling, attempting to blackmail Neve into murdering Javier. Stalling for time, Neve pretends to go along with Diane’s plan until she can find a way out that doesn't involve homicide. But as she gets to know Javier – and falls for him – she realizes that everything Diane told her is a lie. Even worse, she discovers that Yasmin probably wasn't Diane's first victim. And unless Neve can stop her, she won't be the last.



"Don't ever let someone else dictate the terms of your life."
Gretchen McNeil's Dig Two Graves is twisted game of cat and mouse where the never quite knows who’s telling the truth, who’s playing games, and who is going to end up dead. Seventeen-year-old film noir fan Neve Lanier is a girl who just wants to be seen, but doesn’t really fit in anywhere. She's a quiet wall flower, uniquely different and set apart/ostracized from her peers by shyness and her peculiar wardrobe

When Neve is betrayed by her best friend, Yasmin, at the end of the school year, she heads off to a girl’s empowerment camp, GLAM (Girls Leadership and Mentorship) feeling like no one will ever love her again. So when she grabs the attention of the beautiful, charismatic Diane. Diane, breezes in oozing money and class and notices Neve and takes her under her wing; yet her aloofness fools very few at the camp, others are watching and try to warn Neve. 

Neve turns the other cheek, looks the other way. Predictably, she falls right under her spell, and may accidentally promise to murder Diane’s predatory step-brother, Javier, in exchange for Diane murdering Yasmin. But that was just a joke…right? Wrong. When Yasmin turns up dead, and Never being the cops only suspense, Diane comes calling, attempting to blackmail Neve into murdering Javier. 

Things only continue to get more dire for Neve and her family as evidence continues to pile up that supports Neve's father is the murderer despite Neve knowing better. Stalling for time, Neve pretends to go along with Diane’s plan until she can find a way out that doesn't involve homicide. But as she gets to know Javier – and falls for him – she realizes that everything Diane told her is a lie. 

Even worse, she discovers that Yasmin probably wasn't Diane's first victim. And unless Neve can stop her, she won't be the last. What starts out as an innocent friendship between two girls takes a dark twist with murder and intrigue around every corner, making this a thriller with twists and turns that won’t let the reader put it down for even a second.

With Neve being a crime noir lover, the story is a mixture of Strangers on a Train, One of Us Is Lying, but also with a bit of Cruel Intentions mixed in. In a lot of ways, Neve's struggles are realistic. She's into dressing like a goth girl which made her an outcast. She found a friend who later chose to up her social status by destroying her reputation. Her father is a mess, and refuses to accept that he has issues. 

Her mother and grandmother are often at odds, which makes Neve accepting her grandmothers help for college to make her own way in life all that more important. Her only real happiness is finding out that she might have a talent that needs to be explored further only to be targeted by a psycho that may end up destroying her life. 





Tuesday, May 10, 2022

#Review - Bravely by Maggie Stiefvater #YA (Fairy Tales & Folklore)

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Release Date: May 3, 2022
Publisher: Disney Press
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Fairy Tales & Folklore

ONE PRINCESS. Merida of DunBroch needs a change. She loves her family—jovial King Fergus, proper Queen Elinor, the mischievous triplets— and her peaceful kingdom. But she’s frustrated by its sluggishness; each day, the same. Merida longs for adventure, purpose, challenge – maybe even, someday, love.

TWO GODS. But the fiery Princess never expects her disquiet to manifest by way of Feradach, an uncanny supernatural being tasked with rooting out rot and stagnation, who appears in DunBroch on Christmas Eve with the intent to demolish the realm – and everyone within. Only the intervention of the Cailleach, an ancient entity of creation, gives Merida a shred of hope: convince her family to change within the year – or suffer the eternal consequences.

THREE VOYAGES. Under the watchful eyes of the gods, Merida leads a series of epic journeys to kingdoms near and far in an attempt to inspire revolution within her family. But in her efforts to save those she loves from ruin, has Merida lost sight of the Clan member grown most stagnant of all – herself?

FOUR SEASONS TO SAVE DUNBROCH – OR SEE IT DESTROYED, FOREVER. 



Maggie Stiefvater's Bravely helps mark the 10 years since Brave released from Pixar, with this uniquely fresh take on Princess Merida set several years following the close of the film. Stiefvater is best-known for her ability to steep readers in age-old cultures, legends, and lore in a way that still feels accessible and enticing for today's teen. In Bravely, the author brings her talents to the ancient, rolling hills of Scotland, to the kingdom of DunBroch and its fiery-headed--and fiery-tempered--Princess Merida. 

After a year of traveling to see a variety of different places, Merida comes home for Christmas to face off against the ancient gods of Scotland in this magic-infused epic adventure where each step will bring Merida closer to saving the family she loves -- or losing them forever. DunBroch has fallen into stagnation, and the gods have marked it for ruin and rebirth. Merida never expected her disquiet to manifest by way of Feradach, an uncanny supernatural being tasked with rooting out rot and stagnation, who appears in DunBroch on Christmas Eve with the intent to demolish the realm – and everyone within. 

Only the intervention of the Cailleach, an ancient entity of creation, gives Merida a shred of hope: convince her family to change within the year – or suffer the eternal consequences. Merida has one year to get her family to change or her beloved kingdom will be at the mercy of Feradach to wipe it from the face of the earth. Under the watchful eyes of the gods, Merida leads a series of three epic journeys to kingdoms near and far in an attempt to inspire revolution within her family. But in her efforts to save those she loves from ruin, has Merida lost sight of the Clan member grown most stagnant of all – herself?

There is also a growing threat from a nearby king who wants DunBroch to kneel to him, give up one of the triplets or marry off Merida to another kingdom, and an additional promise to reach out to neighboring kingdoms and learn from them. Each of her journey's are with a member of her family. From travel with her brother Hubert where she is uncomfortable in her surroundings, to travel with her father King Fergus who discovers a village already in danger of being destroyed, and lastly her mother Elinor where Merida gets a surprise revelation about her mothers own past. 

This Merida is a bit older and wiser, having lived and traveled, but still has the wild heart and stubborn nature.  Her evolving relationship with Feradach, the god of destruction is complex and compelling, and I believe most readers will want more than what we get. Feradach is a very interesting character and very contradictory, too. While she's pretty much been left alone by her mother Queen Elinor, learning more about who she was before she met her father is enlightening. There's still some conflict there. She also has to put up with her devious triplet brothers (toddlers in the movie) who love antagonizing her. But the brothers are more than devious boys who love to create chaos. 

Overall, I think people who watched Brave, will definitely enjoy this story. It's good getting caught up with the characters we've all seen on TV, or the movies.