Wake Robin Ridge #1 by Marcia Meara #bookreview #suspense

“A PHONE RINGING AT 2:00 A.M. never means anything good. Calls at 2:00 A.M. are bad news . . . Someone has died. Someone is hurt. Or someone needs help.”

On a bitter cold January night in 1965, death came calling at an isolated little cabin on Wake-Robin Ridge. Now, nearly 50 years later, librarian Sarah Gray has quit her job and moved into the same cabin, hoping the peace and quiet of her woodland retreat will allow her to concentrate on writing her first novel. Instead she finds herself distracted by her only neighbor, the enigmatic and reclusive MacKenzie Cole, who lives on top of the mountain with his Irish wolfhound as his sole companion.

As their tentative friendship grows, Sarah learns the truth about the heartbreaking secret causing Mac to hide from the world. But before the two can sort out their feelings for each other, they find themselves plunged into a night of terror neither could have anticipated. Now they must unravel the horrifying events of a murder committed decades earlier. In doing so, they discover that the only thing stronger than a hatred that will not die is a heart willing to sacrifice everything for another.

A story of evil trumped by the power of love and redemption, Wake-Robin Ridge will transport you to the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and introduce you to characters you won’t soon forget. 

I enjoyed the slower pace of this novel while getting to know these characters, along with their pets (you can never go wrong adding furry friends to a story).  Being familiar with the Asheville, NC area, I loved the author’s vivid descriptions of the neighboring fictional small town of Wake-Robin Ridge.  The mountains are beautiful, and I could completely understand why Sarah relocates there to begin her writing career.  Ruthie’s story is both heartbreaking and inspiring, and I wondered how the two stories would intertwine.  And then the ghost showed up – color me thrilled.  What follows is a harrowing, lovely, bittersweet tale that provides answers to years old questions.

Wake-Robin Ridge contains two touching love stories with a supernatural twist, a lesson on coming to terms with your past, dropping the barriers, and allowing yourself to find happiness.  A true pleasure to read.

***I’ll be traveling today and tomorrow, so I may not get to comments for a couple days.  Have a great weekend!***

 

Our #Canada Trip and #PennedCharleston

So, we’re back from Canada after a long weekend in Calgary.  We lucked out with the weather.  According to a couple of Canadians, we arrived just in time for their heat wave with temps in the low to mid 40s.  And I was fine with that.

We had such a wonderful time!  On Friday, after a tasty dinner at an oyster house, I saw my first hockey game between the Calgary Flames and the Boston Bruins.  Four goals were scored in the first five minutes, so that was really exciting.  I also got to see the obligatory fight between players – also exciting.  The whole game wasn’t red, that was just the pre-game lighting.

Saturday involved a trip to Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.  What a gorgeous place.  My son warned me the hotel reminded him a little of The Overlook Hotel in The Shining.  And he wasn’t kidding.  With snow blowing sporadically and several snow drifts around it, the resemblance was more than passing.  Stunning ice sculptures were also displayed around the grounds.  The lake was frozen over and people were playing hockey, pulling their kids around on sleds, and generally just having a fantastic time.  That’s hubby and me in front of the hotel and my son and his girlfriend in front of an ice sculpture.

From there, we went to Banff and enjoyed walking around the town (left) before enjoying another scrumptious dinner.

After a memorable brunch on Sunday (a perfect day for grilled cheese and tomato soup), we enjoyed a brewery tour and visited three different distilleries.  I like beer, but don’t drink it that often.  My preference is a dark beer, but I sampled everything on this tour and discovered I’m not an IPA girl.  Didn’t care for any of them.  Maybe there are some out there I’d enjoy, but I have yet to meet them.

Something hubby and I both commented on was how downright nice Canadians are.  Everyone we encountered was polite, helpful, and eager to share information about their city.  Our son will most likely be moving there in the next six months or so, and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to visit again.

If you’re in the Charleston, SC area this weekend, I’ll be signing books at Penned Charleston.  We lived in SC for many years, but I haven’t been to Charleston in quite a while, so I’m really excited to experience the city (and food!) again and meet some new readers.

Ink in the Blood (Ink in the Blood #1) by Kim Smejkal #bookreview #YA #fantasy #TuesdayBookBlog

A lush, dark YA fantasy debut that weaves together tattoo magic, faith, and eccentric theater in a world where lies are currency and ink is a weapon, perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Kendare Blake.

Celia Sand and her best friend, Anya Burtoni, are inklings for the esteemed religion of Profeta. Using magic, they tattoo followers with beautiful images that represent the Divine’s will and guide the actions of the recipients. It’s considered a noble calling, but ten years into their servitude Celia and Anya know the truth: Profeta is built on lies, the tattooed orders strip away freedom, and the revered temple is actually a brutal, torturous prison.

Their opportunity to escape arrives with the Rabble Mob, a traveling theater troupe. Using their inkling abilities for performance instead of propaganda, Celia and Anya are content for the first time . . . until they realize who followed them. The Divine they never believed in is very real, very angry, and determined to use Celia, Anya, and the Rabble Mob’s now-infamous stage to spread her deceitful influence even further.

To protect their new family from the wrath of a malicious deity and the zealots who work in her name, Celia and Anya must unmask the biggest lie of all—Profeta itself. 

I struggled with this book and even considered DNFing it at one point.  But I’m so glad I didn’t.

With complicated worldbuilding, this isn’t a book you can skim-read.  Trust me – you’ll miss some pretty important plot points and details that come into play later on.  I think part of the reason I struggled was because of Celia.  I just couldn’t bring myself to care about her until around the 40% mark, but that was a personal issue.  The friendship between her and Anya is a thing of beauty and is written so well.  Once they joined the Rabble Mob, I knew I’d finish the book.  The plague doctor is a fascinating character, and his creative dialogue has hidden meanings and is something to ponder.  He’s easily my favorite.

The writing style is unique and paints vivid pictures of the world of the Rabble Mob.  The mob themselves are made up of unusual, delightful, loyal people – once you’re in, you’re family.  I’d also like to mention the outstanding queer representation throughout the novel.

With themes of religion and magic, Ink in the Blood has a dark, heavy atmosphere, and while it may not be everyone’s brand of choice, I’m so glad I stuck with it.  Days after finishing, I’m still thinking about it, and the second book is absolutely on my highly anticipated list.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

End of Day (Hode’s Hill #2) by Mae Clair #bookreview #supernatural #suspense

The past is never truly buried…  

Generations of Jillian Cley’s family have been tasked with a strange duty—tending the burial plot of Gabriel Vane, whose body was the first to be interred in the Hode’s Hill cemetery. Jillian faithfully continues the long-standing tradition—until one October night, Vane’s body is stolen from its resting place. Is it a Halloween prank? Or something more sinister?  

As the descendants of those buried in the church yard begin to experience bizarre “accidents,” Jillian tries to uncover the cause. Deeply empathic, she does not make friends easily, or lightly. But to fend off the terror taking over her town, she must join forces with artist Dante DeLuca, whose sensitivity to the spirit world has been both a blessing and a curse. The two soon realize Jillian’s murky family history is entwined with a tragic legacy tracing back to the founding of Hode’s Hill. To set matters right, an ancient wrong must be avenged…or Jillian, Dante, and everyone in town will forever be at the mercy of a vengeful spirit.

This review was meant to be posted months ago, so I have no idea why it was still in my review draft folder.  Maybe it’s fortuitous, because the first book in this series, Cusp of Night, is free, and this book and the last, Eventide, are $0.99 through February 25th.  Take advantage of this deal now – you won’t regret it!

I loved the first book in this series and was so excited to read End of Day, I made it my choice for book club.

This is the perfect book to curl up with on a cold, dreary night.  Some scenes will send chills up your spine and have you glancing over your shoulder to make sure no one’s there.  With book club members, it spawned spirited conversations ranging from genetics (an odd choice, I know) to our beliefs in ghosts and mediums.  For this horror fan, it was a highly enjoyable meeting.

As with the first book in the series, I especially enjoyed the alternating timelines and how Gabriel’s fate was gradually explained.  I remembered Dante from the previous book and looked forward to learning more about him.  He’s now one of my favorite characters in the series, and his scenes with Elliott in the role of a substitute father figure warmed my heart.  Jillian’s tragic circumstances immediately pulled me in, and I count her therapy dog, Blizzard, as one of the best bookish furry friends I’ve read.

End of Day is a compelling blend of paranormal, thriller, and mystery, and although part of a series, can easily be read as a standalone.  I  highly recommend this well-written, atmospheric read.

Scammed (Vale Hall #2) by Kristen Simmons #bookreview #YA #thriller #TuesdayBookBlog

Brynn Hilder is living a life she never dreamed possible: She lives in a mansion, getting a top-rate education at Vale Hall. She has friends and an almost-boyfriend. Anything she wants, she can have.

The only catch? To stay in this life, she has to help the director of Vale Hall take down the bad guys of Sikawa City by collecting secrets and running cons.

Getting everything she wants and fighting evil doesn’t seem like such a bad deal. The thing is, she’s not so convinced anymore that Dr. Odin is really going after bad people after all. And the friends and almost-boyfriend that have made her life so different are all liars and con artists—so can she trust that any of it is real?

The stakes are higher. The cons are riskier. And nothing is what you think it is.

The first book in this series, The Deceivers, was a five star read for me last year, and I couldn’t wait to get to the sequel.  And it’s another five stars.

What happens when you throw a bunch of con artists together?  Trained liars, people who insert themselves into the lives of others and fool them completely?  You can’t trust anyone – and that’s the whole premise of this second book in the Vale Hall series.  Brynn doubts her boyfriend, her friends and acquaintances, and even herself.  She’s always prided herself on being a good judge of character – but is she really?  With several plot twists and blind sides, you won’t know who or what to believe.

With the situations these characters find themselves in, parts of this story gutted me, and I wanted to jump into the book and help them.  As in The Deceivers, all of them are so well-developed, and the focus isn’t entirely on Brynn – each supporting character has their own story to tell.

This book is absolutely riveting, and I read more than half of it in one sitting.  The description nails it – higher stakes, riskier cons, and nothing is at it seems.  The third book will be at the top of my list for must reads next year.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Email Black Hole, Canada, and Furkid Friday

Last week was some week.  I’m still tired.  Releasing a book is exciting, but also exhausting.  And then there was the whole Gmail debacle where I lost around 200 emails on release day – that’s always a good feeling.  They just disappeared out of my inbox and weren’t in my trash.  Out there in cyberspace or that inbetween world where all the socks go that never return from the dryer.  Luckily, I have a techie friend (thanks, Susan!) who immediately came over and helped me find them.  We still have no idea what happened.  Four hours of my life I’ll never get back.

Moving on to less stressful things, hubby and I are traveling with our oldest son to Canada to visit his girlfriend and her parents.  This will be my first trip to Canada, so I’m really excited.  My son has been several times, and the pics he’s sent show incredible scenery.  We’ll be going to Calgary and Banff.  I was expecting some pretty frigid weather, but unless something changes, temps should be in the mid 40s during the day.  Weird, but welcome.

This past Friday, my cat, Bond, was interviewed by Lilie (a Westie) on Tori Zigler’s Friends of Furkid Friday feature.  He’s still getting fanmail.  If you missed it, click HERE.

Happy Reading and Writing this week!

Bond on Friends of #FurkidFriday #cats #catlover #catlife

I’ve mentioned my cat, Bond, many times here, and if you follow my Instagram, you’ve seen him in countless humorous poses and situations.  Today, he’s finally getting the attention and fame he deserves (his words, not mine) on Tori Zigler’s blog.  Lilie, her Westie, is interviewing Bond for Friends of Furkid Friday.  Hop over to read their interview HERE.  While you’re there, check out Tori’s extensive collection of children’s books and other interviews with authors’ furry friends.  And Happy Valentine’s Day!