Posted in Book Review

Worldlines: A “Many Worlds” Novel by Adam Guest

Read Dates: July 10, 2021 – July 11, 2021
Date Published: May 30, 2020
Source: Free ebook via OnineBookClub.org in exchange for an honest review

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From Amazon:

Worldlines is the first novel in the Many Worlds series, and is a psychological thriller sitting firmly in the science fiction genre. Specifically, it resides in the visionary and metaphysical sub-genre, as well as using elements of hard science fiction and magical realism.

The Many Worlds series of novels imply that we live in a multiverse, and that everything that we experience is true in some manner or another. Not just the world around us that we see every day, but also our dreams and our hallucinations. The books hypothesise that these dreams and hallucinations allow each of us to see other worldlines within the multiverse and, in the context of lucid dreaming, be able to control someone else’s life. You will then explore various worldlines within that multiverse, and the devastating consequences when they inadvertently interact with one another.

Taking that hypothesis further, if we really do live in a multiverse, it would open up the possibility of immortality for each of us. The idea that our consciousness would always choose the path of least resistance, and therefore regardless of the scenario, we would always experience survival from our own perspective. In layman’s terms that means that if you and I were involved in an accident, you could experience my death, I may experience yours, but we’d both survive from our own perspective. We’d both continue to live our lives in separate worldlines.

This psychological thriller uses the butterfly effect to explore how different one person’s life can be based on what, at the time, appear the most trivial of actions. But sometimes, actions in one worldline, can have catastrophic consequences in another.
Follow the many lives of Gary Jackson through this hard science fiction novel, as with the assistance of his true love, Michelle Peyton, his best friend, Sinead O’Brien, and his physics tutor, Professor Leyton Buzzard, they attempt to unravel the secrets of the multiverse.

At time of writing the book, described as a metaphysical treat by Independent Book Review, has received over 200 4/4 reviews from the readers of Online Book Club, and currently sits 12th in their ongoing Book Of The Year poll for 2020, 5th in the science fiction category. It will also be featured as their Book Of The Month in July 2021.
Meanwhile, in another place, Physics student Gary Jackson finds himself in prison for a murder he has no memory of committing. Can the dreamer help the student get acquitted for a murder everyone saw him commit? Or will Gary spend his life in prison for someone else’s crime?

WOW. Just… wow. I will admit that at first, I was a bit bored. I felt the author was rambling a bit and I wrote in my notes, “What is this guy on about?” Well, I’ll tell ya… I wasn’t ready. I was in NO WAY ready. I arrived at a chapter where it was incredibly clear I was still residing with the same characters but the situation had completely changed. But it would, wouldn’t it? If, say, we were in a different dimension.

I love science fiction books but this was not what I am used to. I’m used to space stories complete with battles and interplanetary weaponry. Or stories about other species on different planets and the trials and climates they face. Not this. This was crazy! This was a whole new experience for me and I loved it!

Our main characters that we revolve around throughout each worldline are Gary, Michelle, and Sinead. Along with their families, of course. Sinead’s mother, Mary, plays a huge role in this story as well if you ask me. Mainly, though, Gary who finds that his professor might not be far off on his in depth tangent on life or death situations along with all the possible outcomes and the idea that all the possible outcomes have been played out in other parallel universes. This intrigued me from the start and I was excited to see where the story would go since there was NO WAY this book would have focused on this tangent so closely if it wasn’t going to matter later.

Is it not possible that whilst we sleep, our consciousness drifts into neighbouring Worldlines, passing through different eventualities, each one making perfect sense in that moment? Yet you wake up, you remember the journey through those Worldlines, and it’s only then you think about the lack of continuity. At this point, you just shrug it off as a weird dream, but I wake up in a morning, and I can recall a dream. This means I have made conscious memories, in my sleep, whilst I was unconscious. How do you explain that?”

What, then, would happen if you became entangled in the crimes of a version of you from a parallel universe? What if you did something to land yourself in cuffs but you have no memory of doing it as it wasn’t you who did it in the first place? It was, instead, a you from a parallel universe. These are the things that kept me up at night.

Seriously though, after four hours of non stop reading and obsessing over the premise of this novel, I decided I should never sleep again, lest I end up in a parallel universe by accident and do something to ruin that dimension’s me.

Is any of this making sense?

This question brings me to my next point on this book. The author made this wild and complex idea into a story that was easily followed. Not once did I get lost in all the science behind what was happening. Guest wrote this book in a way that we could all understand and appreciate what was going on. While reading this book, you’ll jump back and forth between all the different worldlines, but the way he presents it is so easy to follow. Not once did I have to go back to make sure I understood what I just read.

“I can’t process all of this,” I said. “It’s like there’s been a glitch in the matrix.” “That would be no more far-fetched a theory than you having been possessed by someone from another Worldline,” she commented.

I found myself gasping out loud multiple times while reading this. I was so enthralled by what was going on. I never could have seen any of it coming. It was fantastic! When I finally finished reading that first night, I kept my husband up talking about the book and debating what this might mean if the theories in this story were real. And if I’m being honest, this book has me believing.

This book is a wild ride and I wish I could say more but I really don’t want to give anything away. This book was so much fun to read and I would highly recommend it to anyone with an open mind who loves sci-fi mind-benders.

I mean, honestly, where else can you get a book that give you a sad ending, a happy ending, and a cliffhanger simultaneously!?

If you like reading books that make you forget who you are and where you are, I implore you to read this. But don’t just read it, become it. Do whatever you have to do to get in the zone so that there is nothing except you and this book. If you can immerse yourself completely, it is a wonderfully mind-boggling experience that will have you up at night wondering what parallel universe yous might do to your universe. 😉

But unconsciousness, and sleep by definition, would seem to disprove that theory. And yet we dream and make conscious memories in our sleep. The two facts don’t tally. There must be a missing link.”

✌💛

Posted in Book Review

Heartless by Gena Showalter

Read Dates: June 29, 2021 – July 2, 2021
Date Published: June 29, 2021
Source: Kindle ebook

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From Goodreads:

Kaysar the Unhinged One, fae King of Midnight, can drive anyone to madness with his song. A ruthless warrior forged in hate, he lives to force his enemies to their knees. He will stop at nothing to succeed—even abducting and seducing his foe’s beloved bride to ensure his own child one day sits on the male’s throne. Except, his prize escapes to the mortal realm before the first kiss, her heart transplanted into a human beauty with dangerous secrets…

Chantel “Cookie” Bardot is a professional gamer girl great at trash-talking, bad at peopling. After a long-awaited surgery, she begins to morph into a powerful fae princess. Catapulted into a strange land ruled by a cruel but seductive villain, she must battle flesh-and-blood monsters and navigate royal intrigues. But the true danger is Kaysar, whose every wicked touch tempts her beyond reason. Should she run…or descend into the darkness with him?

Gena does it again. She creates another round of characters who are completely unique despite the amount of characters she has already created in numerous past books. Not only are these characters unique but they remain true to their ideals the same way all her other characters in all the other universes she has created have done.

Kaysar is a man obsessed with vengeance. Vengeance for the things he has endured and the things he has lost. He cares not who dies by his hand, unless they happen to be someone he deems worthy of survival so that he might torture them for the remainder of their lives.

…the tattoo on his bicep. A snake curled into a figure eight, eating its own tail, with a sword running through its center. His kingdom’s symbol, meaning “eternal war.”

Cookie is a mortal in need of a heart transplant. Once she finally receives her new heart, she finds herself morphing into a fae princess from the very realm Kaysar is from. Cookie has always had a lust for murder and violence but has always kept it at bay since the mortal world frowns upon that sort of thing. However, once in Astaria, that all changes once she meets the murder hungry Kaysar and gets a taste of life in a fae realm where anything goes.

“Oh, Kaysar. Isn’t this amazing?” Never had she felt so giddy. So alive. “My first actual battle. They threatened us, and now I get to kill them all by myself.”

This book was incredibly enjoyable and I think I might be holding back half a star for things I may end up getting in future books, but bear with me.

I was pumped for this book because it was called an “Immortal Enemies” book. So my head immediately went to “enemies to lovers” which is one of my favorite things to read. It wasn’t really that, though. I guess they were sort of enemies in the beginning, like, the VERY beginning, but they ended up teaming up rather quickly with separate end goals in mind. Still, not the enemies I was expecting.

These two fought, like, a lot. Though, I didn’t mind it because it kept them both true to their characters. They’re both very strong willed and hard-headed, so it made sense that they would be at odds with each other at some point or another. And they are. For most of the book. There’s always something going on with these two. 9 times out of 10, it’s hilarious. But the last squabble they had was a bit much for me. Another reason for my deduction of the half star, the last squabble and it’s resolve didn’t really work for me. Someone who Kaysar has been at odds with for 70% of the book makes one small comment and that is the thing that makes Kaysar rethink his anger and causes him to apologize to Cookie. Meh. Not really true to his character there… BUT, I think we’re going to see more of these two in future Immortal Enemies books and I’m excited for that. There were a couple of things that were left unresolved and a thing or two that never gave us a sense of finality. But I think we may end up seeing some of that unravel in the future if this series is going to be anything like the Lords of the Underworld series. Regardless, I’ll be here for it because I love Gena and I love these characters she creates.

Look at her. His Briar Rose, the embodiment of destruction and the most breathtaking sight in all the lands.

Now, the violence, let’s talk about the violence.

I loved it. And not in a way that I was just cheering on every death and never thinking the people maybe didn’t deserve to die. When Gena gives us a new character, she tells us what they’re like, what their morals or lack of morals are and she ALWAYS follows through. In that respect, I loved the violence in this book. Most books will tell you the characters are ruthless and violent but they don’t follow through. Gena’s characters most certainly followed through. Mind you, some were spared, mostly by Cookie. BUT, Cookie dished out some carnage too. It was really fun to read if I’m being honest. (And I am.)

I have to mention Peal Jean!!! And Sugars!! It’s not everyday you find a book with a 26 year old living with a 62 year old who is also her best friend. And Sugars the cat… I love cats, and the fact that Sugars was thrown into this and described as a “panther” made me picture my house panther throughout the book. Those two were a lot of fun to read and just as combative and chaotic as Cookie.

All in all, this was a good read. Gena’s book are written in a way that they seem like they’ve flown by. You look down and realize you’re suddenly 75% of the way through the book when you literally just started it a couple hours ago.

If you like steamy sex scenes, a couple that bickers but always finds their way back together, 62 year old roommates with a great sense of humor, and absolute, total, unrelenting CARNAGE… this is your book. Go get it. Go read it. Go love it. It’s a good one.

“Sometimes you can’t see the end until you get to the middle.” A trick she’d learned sacking digital fortresses. “Imma go get in that middle.”

✌💛

Posted in Book Review

Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo

Read Dates: April 19, 2021 – June 26, 2021
Date Published: March 30, 2021
Source: Owned Hardback

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

The wolves are circling and a young king will face his greatest challenge in the explosive finale of the instant #1 New York Times-bestselling King of Scars Duology.

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.

First of all, that synopsis gave me chills when I first read it. How could you possibly read that and not want to dive right into this book!? Ughh.
Secondly, that cover art. Especially after reading the book and understanding why the image made the cover. *More chills*
And lastly, *sigh* Leigh Bardugo, you little minx. You have a large piece of my literary heart. I can’t imagine life on a planet without this woman’s books.

So this is the second in the King of Scars series by Bardugo. We’re still very much in the Grisha universe, we’re just quite a ways down the line book-wise. Ya know, like 8 books down the line. (Holy moly. I just turned to look at my bookshelf where Bardugo’s books sit and counted the 7 books before this one. Am I really that deep into this!?) Anyway, King of Scars follows Nikolai’s story. In King of Scars we met the privateer/prince of Ravka become King. He’s witty, he’s full of jokes, and he can’t take many things seriously. From the beginning, he became one of my all time favorites in the Grisha universe. Though, I was just a little sad as to where I felt his storyline would end up. Boy was I wrong. YOU. LITTLE. MINX.

“Men who see too much have a way of losing their eyes.” “And queens who trust too little have a way of losing their thrones.”

Ravka isn’t doing too hot in the military area and they’re not very plentiful when it comes to friends either. The Shu-Han Queen, Makhi plots against Ravka as do the Fjerdans and their brutal general, Jarl Brum. But with a super witty King and a relentlessly powerful Grisha Squaller general at his side, what could go wrong? Right?

Again, and I feel like I always say this but… Leigh Bardugo does not romanticize war. War is war. She understands that and she writes it as such. I went into this book knowing that good and well from the previous 7. We’ve lost many characters along the way and I knew this book would be no exception. It wasn’t. I found myself shedding actual tears for these characters I’ve known for so long who ended up hurt or worse, killed. But I can appreciate this kind of writing because she’s not pulling punches. She’s giving us the reality of the situation and we sort of have to live with it. I think that’s beautiful. Sad, but beautiful.

Tell me it’s more than war and worry that makes you speak those words. Tell me what they would mean if you weren’t a king and I weren’t a soldier. But she didn’t want to hear any of that, not really. Sweet words and grand declarations were for other people, other lives.

Zoya has also grown to be one of my favorite characters. I really wanted to choke her out the first few times we meet her and deal with her but she’s grown so much. Her character, I think, is one of the biggest character builds in the entire series. I love her strength and her honesty. Then there’s also the bit of her vulnerability that we get to see. She’s come so far and she’s finally developed friendships and opened herself up a bit to love. We also finally get to learn about her roots in this book which was incredibly moving for me.

Ahhhh. The Queen of Mourning. When I saw that in the synopsis, it gave me chills. Nina truly has gone through so much pain and what a title that absolutely fits her just right. Nina is undercover in Fjerda trying to gain access to their military strategies and secrets so that she might send the information back to Nikolai so he can prepare. She’s living under the roof of the man she hates the most, Jarl Brum. Along with his wife and his daughter, Hanne who Nina has come to be close with. Nina is always so much fun to read. Her quick wit and sharp tongue make for some fun chapters. I have to say, hers was one of the storylines that ripped me apart in previous books. I felt like *I* was the Queen of Mourning reading about her life and all the tragedies that befall her.

I just can’t get enough of the Grishaverse. There are so many elements that come into play that make me so excited. I think I mentioned in one of my previous reviews how the possibilities are absolutely endless and they still are! Bardugo knows that and she makes these possibilities come to life. Giant war machines, altered Grisha, monsters, flying contraptions, and secret underwater weapons. It just never ends and I am here for it!

I thought I had this book figured out. And I guess I did for some of it but about 60% of the way through the book, I found I was wrong. So very, very wrong. I didn’t see any of it coming but now that it’s happened and it’s over, I can’t imagine it happening any other way. Bardugo does it again. She took a situation where there was seemingly only two ways out and added a third option that was soooo much better than either of the other possibilities. This really was a pleasure to read.

“I have a surplus of bad ideas,” said Nikolai. “I have to spend them somewhere.”

At this point I am definitely invested in these characters. There is very obviously going to be a third book in this series. The end left things wide open so I’m super excited to see how this plays out in the end. Though part of me is kind of like, “No! Leave things how they are. We don’t need to go out and risk our lives anymore for that stupid Darkling!” But I must admit, I’m excited for book three! I’d love to know when it’s coming out at the least! Ughh..

I know it took me a while to read this one and I’ll tell you why in just three words. Elder Scrolls Online. I’ve gotten back into it and I’m a bit obsessed. I bought Blackwood and I’ve been tearing through all the DLC’s content. It’s been so much fun but it hasn’t left me much reading time. I’ve recently found some balance though. I’ve got a lot of books in my queue that I’m dying to read so ESO is just going to have to be content with only having me for maybe 2 hours a day. Ideally, anyway.

If you haven’t already, check out the Shadow and Bone series on Netflix! Shadow and Bone was the first book in the first series Bardugo wrote in the Grisha universe and it is sooo good. Mind you, the show is soooo different from the books. There are some likenesses but ughh. Don’t get me started. The show still works though and it’s really good so go check it out!

Keep spreading kindness! ✌💛

Posted in Book Review

The Darkest King by Gena Showalter

Read Dates: March 12, 2020 – March 26, 2020
Date Published: February 25, 2020
Source: Owned (and signed) Hardback

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From Goodreads:

To become a king of the underworld at long last, William must resist an irresistible beauty—or a curse will ensure his end…

A merciless prince feared by all…

Cursed by a vengeful witch, William of the Dark will die if he ever falls in love—murdered by the woman who steals his heart. His lone shot at redemption is a book filled with indecipherable code. Break the code, break the curse. Now, centuries later, he’s condemned to a string of one-night stands…until he finds the only woman in the worlds able to set him free.

A rare creature of myth and power…

One of the last living unicorn shifters, Sunday “Sunny” Lane works from the shadows as a cryptanalyst, on the run from assassins and poachers. Then the darkly seductive William abducts her, holding her captive in Hell. The closer they get, the more she hungers for his touch…and the stronger a mystical desire to kill him becomes…

But which desire will prove stronger—lust or death? And who will give in first?

When I came to you guys with my review of The Darkest Warrior, I already told you all I wasn’t going to care for this book. Anddddd I didn’t. Look, I went into this with an open mind. I really did try. But William’s character is SO ridiculous. I know some people love him for it but I am the exact opposite.

Sunny, however, was brilliant. For the most part. Of course, like most of these paranormal romance books, she made terrible decisions. That’s to be expected. But I really enjoyed how she was kept true to her character. The species she is is known for their inability to lie and their ability to identify a lie from truth. I did enjoy how that was kept consistent throughout.

When it comes to the meat of the story… there really isn’t any. We go back and forth with this book that has cursed William and Sunny deciphering small parts of it at a time. This book isn’t so much about them deciphering the book and falling for each other. It’s more so a book about two people who enjoy torturing each other and find ways to annoy each other throughout the entire story.

There was a moment really close to the end when I started to gain a shred of hope. I started to feel like things were getting interesting. Everything was all chaos and uncertainty and I was getting really excited…

And that’s when the bomb went off.

The bomb that ended the book.

So here’s my thing… if you like a book about two people whose sexual tension is at an 11 throughout, who also enjoy finding ways to annoy each other, who also enjoy making the other jealous… then by all means, read this.

But if you’re looking for a good romance book with a decent plot and a good ending to bring it all together… well, this isn’t the one.

If you ask me, the book didn’t even matter according to the ending… or… the ending didn’t even matter according to the book. One of those. There was absolutely no point. And you CANNOT tell me that after living with this curse for 100s of years, ol big ego, self destructive Willy wouldn’t have tried to do exactly what they did at the end. It just doesn’t make sense. I’m trying not to spoil anything here but I’m getting fired up again about a book I read MONTHS ago. SOS

Anyway… 3 stars. In summary: I enjoyed some parts. The characters were alright. Not the greatest plot. Terrible ending.

I’ll be taking a break from paranormal romance for a bit until Gena’s next release comes out (Heartless). Now that one sounds like a book I can get behind. Enemies to lovers? Not sure about the heroine’s name being Cookie but we’ll see how it goes. Until then, I am going to try my best to finish my current read which is the latest from Leigh Bardugo (one of my all time favorite authors), Rule of Wolves. My kid just turned one so I’ve been planning parties, making food, setting up parties, and entertaining family who have come into town. And yes. I mean parties as a plural. We had two.

Anyway, until next time! 🙂

Posted in Book Review

The Darkest Warrior by Gena Showalter

Read Dates: February 25, 2021 – March 12, 2021
Publication Date: June 26, 2018
Source: Owned paperback

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

He is ice…

Puck the Undefeated, host of the demon of Indifference, cannot experience emotion without punishment, so he allows himself to feel nothing. Until her. According to ancient prophecy, she is the key to avenging his past, saving his realm and ruling as king. All he must do? Steal her from the man she loves—and marry her.

She is fire…

Gillian Shaw has suffered many tragedies in her too-short life, but nothing could have prepared the fragile human for her transition into immortality. To survive, she must wed a horned monster who both intrigues and frightens her…and become the warrior queen she was born to be.

Together they burn.

As a rising sense of possession and obsession overtake Puck, so does insatiable lust. The more he learns about his clever, resourceful wife, the more he craves her. And the more time Gillian spends with her protective husband, the more she aches for him. But the prophecy also predicts an unhappily-ever-after. Can Puck defeat fate itself to keep the woman who brought his deadened heart back to life? Or will they succumb to destiny, losing each other…and everything they’ve been fighting for?

“To save us all, wed the girl who belongs to William of the Dark…she is the key…” “Bring your wife to our lands and lead the dark one here after. Only the male who will live or die for the girl has the power to dethrone Sin the Demented.”

LOOK. I’ve seen a lot of people throw a whole lot of shade at this book because of Puck being a “goatman”. They say “aww Gena, you put Gillian with a GOATMAN?!” Everyone wants to see Gillian end up with William after all these books and their storyline running together all this time but listen… I’m about to drop a super unpopular opinion on ya’ll. I DON’T EVEN LIKE WILLIAM. Seriously. He exudes that big ego energy where he thinks women are a lesser breed. He can never take Gillian seriously. Not ever. Baden’s book. This book. It doesn’t matter. He thinks she’s so helpless even after she becomes a warrior QUEEN who can absolutely kick his butt. He was never worthy of Gillian. Sorry not sorry.

So anyway… this book was pretty good if you ask me. I really enjoyed Gillian finding her man. The one who will fight for her to the death and trusts her enough to fight beside her. The one who treats her as an equal and makes sure she’s always comfortable and her needs are met.

I’ll admit. There were times in the beginning of the book where I was getting really aggravated with Puck as he was treating her like a prisoner and telling her to get over herself. I had to keep reminding myself that this was the harsh reality of housing the demon of indifference. It makes sense and I get it. It just made me sad a few times.

I’ve never really cared for Gillian when I’ve encountered her in Gena’s other books. But in this one… she is finally able to become the person she’s always strived to be. She’s strong. She’s independent. She doesn’t take crap from anyone. I just really enjoyed her personality shift. I also really enjoyed her honesty. Her character cares a lot about honesty and doesn’t like being lied to. I love that when Gena gives a character a trait like that, she follows through and makes sure they uphold the same standards for themselves.

“It was a truth universally acknowledged that a married girl in possession of a dagger would eventually stab her husband,” Gillian muttered, hurrying to keep up with Puck.

Puck. Let’s talk about Puck. I don’t know why but I’ve always liked Puck. Since I met him in Baden’s book even. I’ve just always had a thing for him. Luckily I’m not so shallow as some of these other readers who write him off because of his goat legs… ughh. Whatever. You guys suck. Regardless of the presence of Indifference, he tries his best to meet Gillian’s needs and keep her safe while also acknowledging that she can take care of herself. He’s just such a breath of fresh air. I loved reading his chapters more than I loved reading anyone else’s. He may just be one of my favorite Lords thus far. I think Gillian made off better than pretty much anyone else, honestly. I mean… dang.

Congratulations, lass. You’ve defeated me.”

Anyway, if you’re a Gena fan and you’ve been reading the Lords series for a while and you were iffy on finding out about Gillian and Puck, I recommend finding out. It was a very enjoyable read and from here… I guess I’m going to go ahead and dive into ol’ Willie’s book. Not that I want to… because I really don’t. I’m telling you… I’ve never liked William. Maybe his book will redeem him for me. (I’m highly doubting it.)

“Be warned now,” Puck said. “Let there be no misunderstandings between us. I won’t let you go. I will do whatever proves necessary to keep you, and I will choose you over anything. Life will no longer be about what is best for others or me. Life will be about what is best for Gillian and Puck. We are a team. A family. I will trust you, and you will trust me.”

Posted in Book Review

The Lives of Saints by Leigh Bardugo

Read Dates: February 24, 2021 – February 25, 2021
Date Published: October 6, 2020
Source: Owned Hardback

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(Excerpt from Goodreads:)
Dive into the epic world of international bestselling author Leigh Bardugo with this beautifully illustrated replica of The Lives of Saints, the Istorii Sankt’ya, featuring tales of saints drawn from the beloved novels and beyond. Out of the pages of the Shadow and Bone trilogy, from the hands of Alina Starkov to yours, the Istorii Sankt’ya is a magical keepsake from the Grishaverse.
These tales include miracles and martyrdoms from familiar saints like Sankta Lizabeta of the Roses and Sankt Ilya in Chains, to the strange and obscure stories of Sankta Ursula, Sankta Maradi, and the Starless Saint.
This beautiful collection includes stunning full-color illustrations of each story.

Now look, I’m already in love with Leigh Bardugo. I think I’ve mentioned before that I have a huge crush on her. Is it because of how well she writes her characters and how flawless her story telling is? ABSO-FREAKING-LUTELY.

So this is a collection of short stories about some of the saints in the Grishaverse and how they came to be saints. From a young sailor boy, to a princess, to a jeweler who takes on a demon living in a lake. I don’t think there was a single story that fell flat for me. They were all so magical and captivating.

I’m already such a sucker for short stories. I never really dabbled in short stories until I met an author named Rosamund Hodge. I’m pretty sure I mention them somewhere in one of my monthly wrap up posts. She has them all out there as free to read and they are AMAZING. I’ve not yet found anyone to contest her short story writing skills. Though, Bardugo is incredibly close with this gem.

If you’ve already read the Grishaverse and are as in love with it as I am, check this one out. The last two saints in the book are ones you will definitely recognize.

Which leads me to my favorite part about this book. The Starless Saint’s story. My goodness that one was just… so hard hitting. Of course it would be saved for last. Not only because of who he is but also because of how deep and truly haunting this story is. While the story is not his… it also is. I’ve had a soft spot for him throughout the entire Grishaverse journey and this story just deepened my feelings for him. Such amazing writing and such an amazing book.

Posted in Book Review

A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir

Read Dates: February 14, 2021 – February 23, 2021
Date Published: December 1, 2020
Source: Owned Hardback

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(Synopsis from Goodreads:)
Picking up just a few months after A Reaper at the Gates left off…

The long-imprisoned jinn are on the attack, wreaking bloody havoc in villages and cities alike. But for the Nightbringer, vengeance on his human foes is just the beginning.
At his side, Commandant Keris Veturia declares herself Empress, and calls for the heads of any and all who defy her rule. At the top of the list? The Blood Shrike and her remaining family.
Laia of Serra, now allied with the Blood Shrike, struggles to recover from the loss of the two people most important to her. Determined to stop the approaching apocalypse, she throws herself into the destruction of the Nightbringer. In the process, she awakens an ancient power that could lead her to victory–or to an unimaginable doom.
And deep in the Waiting Place, the Soul Catcher seeks only to forget the life–and love–he left behind. Yet doing so means ignoring the trail of murder left by the Nightbringer and his jinn. To uphold his oath and protect the human world from the supernatural, the Soul Catcher must look beyond the borders of his own land. He must take on a mission that could save–or destroy–all that he knows.

Wow. Just… I mean… I’ve been waiting YEARS for the conclusion of this story and this was every bit worth the wait. Three years later and I still feel all the same emotions I felt for the characters when I first discovered this series in 2018. I sat here and just cried… and then cried some more… and then cheered. And then bawled like a baby. This was everything I needed. It was everything I was hoping for. I’ve always loved the way I’ve been able to read from different perspectives in each installment of this series. That’s been so enjoyable. I admit, in some books I was bored with certain perspectives but in this final book, I was not. I was eager to read more from every narrator. Even when the narrators ended up coming together, I still loved seeing what was going on through different eyes and I enjoyed feeling what was going on through different temperaments.

It was never one. It was always three. The Blood Shrike is the first. Laia of Serra, the second. And the Soul Catcher is the last. The Mother watches over them all. If one fails, they all fail. If one dies, they all die. Go back to the beginning and there, find the truth. Strive even unto your own end, else all is lost.

More than anything, I enjoyed the chapters where the Nightbringer was the narrator. There were only a few chapters but we were able to see into his past, into his soul just a little and I so enjoyed doing that while Laia tried to figure out his past for herself in hopes to find a weak spot to finally defeat him.

These books have consistently paved the way for what was to come and I think realizing that as I finished reading that final page is what really got the emotions going. I’ve been with these characters for three years. I’ve thought about them as I waited to read the final book for THREE YEARS. It’s been killing me to know what the fate of Elias, Laia, Helene, and the Nightbringer would be.

Would that we knew the cracked terrain of each other’s broken hearts. Perhaps then, we would not be so cruel to those who walk this lonely world with us.

Of course, like most I’m sure, I was eager to get back to Laia and Elias and see what would become of them. I was a tad disappointed when Elias was only cold to her. Especially the moments where he was conversating with others and avoiding Laia. This is another reason I am so thankful for the multiple POVs. I LOVED reading Elias’ point of view and watching his internal struggle. He has always been one of the strongest characters and this book is no exception. He is honest and true to the duty he swore to keep, but he also refuses to lose hold completely on what used to be, on what makes him not just the Soul Catcher, but Elias Veturia. Laia is just as strong and stubborn as she always has been and I LOVED reading her as well. She refuses to give up on Elias. Even though she gets frustrated and he brings her to the edge of insanity multiple times, she never gives up.

For me, Elias, desire is not simple. It is not shelter. It is not warmth. It is a fire that offers no light, only heat, ruinous and consuming. The longer you deny it, the hotter it burns. You forget shelter. You forget warmth. There is only that which you want and cannot have, and the desolation that follows.

In reading the first two books I didn’t really care much for Helene’s story. But, to me, her character experienced the most development and change and I love the way her story played out. I was not bored or exasperated at all when it came to one of her chapters. She has grown so much and taken on so many new relationships with so many of the characters that I never would have expected her to. I enjoyed her banter with Musa and Harper. I loved seeing her open herself up. It was refreshing after watching her be a battle hardened soldier with no emotion. (Even though we got to see her thoughts in the previous books.) In this book, she showed the other characters the softer side of her she had been hiding. It got me a few times, I’ll admit.

You are broken. But it is the broken things that are the sharpest. The deadliest. It is the broken things that are the most unexpected, and the most underestimated.

Just like the companions to this book, there is no lack of brutality and rawness when it comes to war. I love when a young adult novel can be a young adult novel but still hold true to what war truly brings. Especially a war like the ones we saw in this series. Necks were snapped, hearts were stabbed, throats were cut… and sometimes this happened right in front of the victims loved one. While it’s sometimes jarring and leaves me feeling raw, I can appreciate that. If this war is brutal, let me know and convince me it’s brutal.

This book turned out to be everything I had hoped for and more. I couldn’t get enough. I tore through this book just as brutally as it tore through my heart. Tragedy after tragedy. Heartbreak after heartbreak. Victory after victory. This series has been amazing and I am so glad to have been immersed in this cruel, unforgiving, beautiful, ever changing world. These books were so beautifully written and the characters are written so well. This will definitely be a series I revisit in the future. Only now, I get to read them all back to back to back… to back.

“Elias,” he says after a moment, the slightest bit of warmth entering those cold gray eyes. “From you I prefer Elias.”

Posted in Book Review

A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair

Read Dates: February 9, 2021 – February 14, 2021
Date Published: May 25, 2020
Source: eBook

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(Synopsis from Goodreads:)
A Modern Hades and Persephone Retelling

Persephone is the Goddess of Spring by title only. The truth is, since she was a little girl, flowers have shriveled at her touch. After moving to New Athens, she hopes to lead an unassuming life disguised as a mortal journalist.
Hades, God of the Dead, has built a gambling empire in the mortal world and his favorite bets are rumored to be impossible.
After a chance encounter with Hades, Persephone finds herself in a contract with the God of the Dead and the terms are impossible: Persephone must create life in the Underworld or lose her freedom forever. The bet does more than expose Persephone’s failure as a goddess, however. As she struggles to sow the seeds of her freedom, love for the God of the Dead grows—and it’s forbidden.

Here’s a little known fact about me: I’m obsessed with Greek mythology. I love to read the fan made graphic stories on Webtoon or fictional stories that retell those of the Greek gods and goddesses. I have read most of the Lords of the Underworld books by Gena Showalter which has a good bit of the Greek mythology intertwined. I’ve even read a couple of the textbooks covering the beliefs of the Greeks and I can tell you who most of the gods and goddesses are and what they represent. Sometimes I can even tell you a little bit of their history. I have a lot to learn but I know quite a bit as well. It can be a blessing and a curse when it comes to reading fantasy fiction based on the Greek characters of myth. I always wonder what new twist the author is going to put on the classic characters. That’s the beauty of retelling Greek mythologies, the possibilities are endless.
Well, this was a good one. Not my favorite! But it was definitely a good one.

The author leaves Persephone’s typical personality untouched. She’s timid and unsure due to a sheltered life with her mother Demeter. She did, however, add a twist. Persephone is the goddess of Spring, but in this book, everything she touches withers. She’s not yet found her powers and doesn’t know if she ever will.

Persephone and Hades’ is one of my favorite stories. No matter where or how I read it, I so enjoy reading about them. Mostly because of Hades. I’m slightly obsessed with the King of the Underworld. Persephone is definitely an agreeable character with me too, but… it’s Hades, y’all.

In every story I read about them, Persephone drives me a little crazy the way she says yes to everything and doesn’t stand up for herself. But this is ok with me because of her past and upbringing. This book is no different when it comes to her character.

I also love a good Hades and Persephone story where the author throws other gods and goddesses into the story. I found myself getting so excited when a new character was mentioned and I would literally stop and tell my husband something like, “OMG. Hecate just showed up! She’s the goddess of witchcraft and magic!” I’ll be honest, I was fangirl squealing at a couple of the featured guests in their story.

Overall this was a really great book. I enjoyed every second. HOWEVER. The author wrote this same story but written from Hades perspective and I SO wish I had known that was an option before I read this one. I would have opted for his book instead. I still plan to read it at some point. If it’s different enough and I like it a good bit more than I did this one, I may do a review but probably not.

Let me add before I go, this is not a young adult book. There’s a bit of smut there in the last third of the book soooo… if that’s not your thing then… perhaps a different retelling by some other author. 😀

Cheers!

Posted in Book Review

Fallen by Lauren Kate

Read Dates: February 2, 2021 – February 5, 2021
Publication Date: December 8, 2009
Source: eBook

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(From Goodreads:)
There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.

Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.

Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce–and goes out of his way to make that very clear–she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her.

They made this into a motion picture. THEY MADE IT INTO A MOTION PICTURE.
I haven’t yet watched that movie and, to be honest, I probably won’t.
But let me set the stage here because I feel like my feelings about this book aren’t necessarily the books fault.
This book came out in 2009. Around that time I was heavy into the Twilight Saga. Laying on my bed, belly down, propped up on my elbows, legs bent at the knees swinging around behind me while I felt all the emotions and raged over the events that happened in that series. SO, had I have found this book, Fallen, back in 2009 or even 2010 when it first came out, I probably would have really liked it. Regardless of the many flaws and plot holes with which it choked me to death.

Ah geez… let’s just get into it.

So my main issue with this book is the love story. While it follows the same sort of pattern that books back in 2009 followed, I unfortunately, didn’t read it back then. So that sort of pattern isn’t my thing anymore. Unless you’re Twilight. Sorry, but that series is my guilty pleasure. Actually, no, not sorry.

The story follows Luce, who is navigating her new school and her new classmates. Of course, because it’s 2009, there’s a love triangle. But not the one you’re thinking. Not the love triangle where two guys like a girl and compete for her. Nope. It’s the kind where one boy likes the girl, one boy loathes the girl and the girl really likes the guy who is rude to her but tends to settle for the one who is overly nice and shows her the most attention. Oh, not to mention the girl constantly using the nice guy to make the rude one potentially jealous. (She can only hope.)
I found myself rolling my eyes A LOT. Luce is so insufferable. Cam, “nice” guy, gets on my last nerve pretty much throughout but then, so does Daniel (the guy Luce is pining over the entire time).

The most enjoyable parts in this book, for me, were the parts where we went a little more fantasy book than romance. The parts where we learned about fallen angels and demons and the “good angels”. The parts where Luce and her friend Penn dug into the school library and learned all these wild new things about students and teachers at the school. The parts where odd things would happen to Luce and she couldn’t make any sense of it, but we knew… weeeeee knew. The parts with fire and war and… ughh… just all the parts without the love story. The love story was a hot mess, if you ask me.

Unfortunately, the ending did nothing to redeem any part of the love story. It seemed all too easy. Not to mention, some of the things they “had to do” for things to be ok ended up being completely unnecessary. Not to mention, all these things that are just lying around this school waiting for Luce to discover them and they have NO BUSINESS being anywhere near a school, much less the same one she ends up at “by chance”. But no… it’s ok! Because this book is about FATE.

Now, if you’re an avid reader, you know that the second book in a series is usually the worst or hardest to read in the series. Knowing this, I had predetermined that I was not going to dabble in any more of this series. But curiosity took hold. I went and saw that the third book apparently starts to get really good. But I have to sit through the second first! Unfortunately, this book wasn’t good enough to warrant me sitting through a second terrible one to arrive at something manageable.

Again, I did enjoy some things and if you’re down for a love triangle that’s incredibly frustrating and makes no sense, if you’re down for a female lead who makes one questionable decision after the other, if you’re down for watching a girl get saved over and over again either from herself or some situation she’s stupidly put herself in, then yea. Go get you some of this book. You’ll love it. But it just wasn’t for me. 🙂

Posted in Book Review

The End of Her by Shari Lapena

Read Dates: November 13, 2020 – November 30, 2020
Publication date: July 23, 2020
Source: Owned Hardback

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A young woman and her husband have recently added twins to their happy family. Though, raising twins as a stay at home mom proves to be difficult when Stephanie’s husband, Patrick, is only able to help from the late hour he gets home from work until his bedtime just a few hours later. His job is demanding… but so is hers. The twins are colicky and barely sleep. Soon, Stephanie begins to suffer from sleep deprivation and begins making a few careless mistakes she never thought possible of herself to make. Until, one day, an old friend of her husband’s comes to town and tells her she should be careful and accuses Patrick of the murder of his first wife. Before long, Stephanie begins to question the truth behind her husband’s first marriage and begins to wonder if maybe her careless mistakes, weren’t mistakes at all… and maybe she didn’t cause them.

Much like Lapena’s other novels, this one was incredibly hard to put down. I had my character list all made up by about a third of the way through and it was smooth sailing from there. I rather enjoy playing with my kid but I found myself getting sad when her naps were over (since I read while she’s napping).

The array of characters and the way they intertwine was incredibly satisfying. I always wonder when I pick up one of Lapena’s books how the characters will end up relating to one another. No single character is ever just some random, meaningless person. I LOVE THAT.

The book had me teetering back and forth on who I thought was truly behind things and where I thought the end of the book was headed. Though, the reason this book was only given 4 and not 5 stars is because… I saw the end coming… And all the little “twists” in the middle. I saw all of it coming. Maybe it’s just because there’s not a single book by Shari Lapena that I haven’t read and I’m incredibly familiar with her writing style, but, I knew.

However, that did not take away from the journey to the end that I knew was inevitably coming. It was still incredibly satisfying to watch the events that transpired with each character up until the very last chapter. This was one of those books, like all of the other Lapena books, that are told from multiple POVs. To me, it’s incredibly hard to pull off a story that way. It’s much easier for the multiple POVs to be the downfall in a book. Thankfully, Shari is a pro.

Stephanie was so relatable for me as I read this book shortly after the newborn stage with my own child. Though, that was ONE kid… not twins. Thank goodness. I loved reading about her friends and the play dates. I loved the way the characters overlapped without even knowing it. Being in the same places at the same time or being right down the way from each other.

There’s not really much I can say that I haven’t said before when reviewing a Lapena mystery. They’re so fun to read, even if you have everything figured out. She makes the story such a fun ride and this one was no exception. I will continue to sing her praises forever and ever.