Thistledown – Midsummer Bedlam by Teagan Riordain Geneviene #bookreview #folktales #myths

Thistledown ― Midsummer Bedlam is a wildly whimsical tale of faeries. It was originally written for a grownup audience, but it is suitable for children ages eight and over.

Thistledown is a world of color and light. It has faeries, hummingbirds, and ancient books of magic. Bedlam Thunder is a misfit faery who is afraid of heights. She is also a seer who has terrible visions of a parallel world devoid of color and brightness. The hate and darkness of that colorless world is seeping into Thistledown. Will Bedlam and her friends be able to save their home?
Thistledown ― Midsummer Bedlam, with its radiant creatures and faeries will lift your imagination to new heights. 

I first read Thistledown when it was a weekly serial on the author’s blog, but it was nice to have all the installments together in one book.

I’ve commented more than once about this author’s wildly creative imagination, and this adventure is no different. She’s created an enchanting, colorful world full of magic that’s home to numerous faeries with kaleidoscopic names. And also the coolest hummingbird I’ve come across, Bob (someone has to have a “normal” name). When Bedlam has disturbing visions of a parallel, colorless world filled with hate and darkness, it’s up to her and her friends to band together and save their home from the same fate. Their quest takes the reader through a mind-bending world filled with wondrous creations (hallucinating bats!). You may find yourself holding your breath when all seems lost and wonder how these faeries and Bob will manage to save Thistledown.

This is a delightful tale that will appeal to both children and adults. As a warning, it’s also likely to cause dreams of visiting Thistledown. I know I’d love to meet Bob!

Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury #bookreview #YA #urbanfantasy #scifi #TuesdayBookBlog

A rich, dark urban fantasy debut following a teen witch who is given a horrifying task: sacrificing her first love to save her family’s magic. The problem is, she’s never been in love—she’ll have to find the perfect guy before she can kill him.

After years of waiting for her Calling—a trial every witch must pass in order to come into their powers—the one thing Voya Thomas didn’t expect was to fail. When Voya’s ancestor gives her an unprecedented second chance to complete her Calling, she agrees—and then is horrified when her task is to kill her first love. And this time, failure means every Thomas witch will be stripped of their magic.

Voya is determined to save her family’s magic no matter the cost. The problem is, Voya has never been in love, so for her to succeed, she’ll first have to find the perfect guy—and fast. Fortunately, a genetic matchmaking program has just hit the market. Her plan is to join the program, fall in love, and complete her task before the deadline. What she doesn’t count on is being paired with the infuriating Luc—how can she fall in love with a guy who seemingly wants nothing to do with her?

With mounting pressure from her family, Voya is caught between her morality and her duty to her bloodline. If she wants to save their heritage and Luc, she’ll have to find something her ancestor wants more than blood. And in witchcraft, blood is everything.

The main reason I requested this book, other than that beautiful cover, is the high stakes/high pressure situation Voya is put in and the mention of witches and genetics.

I didn’t realize this was a futuristic Toronto setting (why aren’t more books set in Canada?), but that made me like it even more. I’m pretty sure I’ve never read about futuristic witches. The mixture of urban fantasy and sci-fi was also surprising, and now I’m wondering why there aren’t more novels with this blend of genres.

The first several pages are an introduction to Voya’s family – and it’s a large one. Honestly, a family tree might have helped with this dysfunctional bunch. They argue, insult, and mess with one another, but it’s clear the love runs deeply, and family is a priority. In Voya’s case, she puts everyone ahead of her own interests and desires and suffers from a severe case of low self esteem. She’s been anxious for her Calling, but fears she’ll be the first of her family in decades not to come into her powers. Flawed and full of self-doubt, you can’t help rooting for her. Voya is also a talented cook, using some of her own original recipes as well as her ancestors’ (yes, I totally drooled – but maybe not over the goat dishes), and I enjoyed learning about the Trinidadian culture.

Luc (thrilled he’s a trans character) is a tough nut to crack. He initially comes across as an arrogant genius, but with Voya’s prodding his walls gradually disintegrate. As a complex character I still think there are several layers left undiscovered, and I’m not sure how I felt about him at the end of the novel. It’s an ending I couldn’t have predicted.

Voya’s Calling is a seemingly impossible task with terrible consequences no matter which decision she makes. I had no idea how this would play out and almost dreaded seeing what she’d do. The magic system is well thought out and, although complicated, is explained well. One of my favorite things about this world is how accepting it is of all genders, identities, and sexualities, and the characters are diverse. At nearly five hundred pages, this is a long one for YA, but it’s the first of a series and contains the initial world-building.

Impossible stakes, magic, a dysfunctional, loving family, first love, and killings, Blood Like Magic contains a multi-layered plot and a MC asked to make an impossible choice. I’m axious to see where this series goes next.

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

Father’s Day, Turf Wars, and #AmWatching

Hope all you dads out there had a relaxing Father’s Day weekend! Hubby had a fabulous one. Our oldest son called Thursday to let us know he’d be coming for the weekend – an unexpected and very welcome surprise. The youngest son who just moved to Austin arranged to Facetime hubby Saturday so they could smoke a cigar together and discuss our son’s first week in his new city. The rest of the afternoon was spent with friends lounging around in their pool with our beverages of choice and eating grilled pizzas. Sunday was about watching the US Open (hubby’s a big golfer) and grilling out burgers topped with crisp, thick bacon and avocados before our oldest son left. Hard to beat a weekend like that.

Our oldest son’s cat, Sora, came with him – much to Bond’s usual chagrin. Whenever she’s here, she immediately takes over his cat tower and has the audacity to ignore his threats. She refuses to bend the knee. and is all about girl power. Bond resigned himself to spending most of the weekend on the screened porch pouting, a place Sora doesn’t usually grace with her presence. The humidity does horrible things to her sleek fur.

Last night I finally got around to watching Army of the Dead on Netflix. If you’re a zombie fan, it’s two and a half hours well spent. After a zombie invasion, Las Vegas has been walled off and will soon be nuked. Dave Bautista’s (Guardians of the Galaxy) team has been hired to enter the city and steal millions of dollars from a casino before the bomb is dropped. I correctly predicted which team member would go down first and spent most of the movie talking to the characters and telling them what to do. After watching The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, and plenty of other zombie movies over the past decade, I feel I’m adequately qualified to offer advice. The ending left the door open for a sequel, and I’d definitely watch it.

Have a great week!

Fire with Fire by Destiny Soria #bookreview #YA #fantasy #dragons

Dani and Eden Rivera were both born to kill dragons, but the sisters couldn’t be more different. For Dani, dragon slaying takes a back seat to normal high school life, while Eden prioritizes training above everything else. Yet they both agree on one thing: it’s kill or be killed where dragons are concerned.

Until Dani comes face-to-face with one and forges a rare and magical bond with him. As she gets to know Nox, she realizes that everything she thought she knew about dragons is wrong. With Dani lost to the dragons, Eden turns to the mysterious and alluring sorcerers to help save her sister. Now on opposite sides of the conflict, the sisters will do whatever it takes to save the other. But the two are playing with magic that is more dangerous than they know, and there is another, more powerful enemy waiting for them both in the shadows. 

Julie Kagawa’s Talon series turned me into a big dragon fan. It’s not hard to see why this book made its way to my TBR.

With this being an urban fantasy, the author did an excellent job with world-building. Dragons and sorcerers have existed for hundreds of years with humans believing they’re nothing but a myth. Dani, Eden, and their family have had to straddle both worlds for years and lie to everyone about being slayers.

It’s evident early on that Dani and Eden are opposites. Dani has a natural talent when it comes to dragon slayer training, but all she wants is a normal life with friends, school, and a summer job. For her sister Eden, joining the family business is everything, but without a natural aptitude she has to work much harder to succeed. Although the older sister, she’s always felt as if she lives in Dani’s shadow. She just wants to be seen and appreciated for her talents, and that’s exactly what the sorcerers offer her. Talk about manipulation. Despite the sisters’ differences and occasional arguments, the bond between them figures prominently in the story.

The soul bond between Dani and Nox takes both of them by surprise, and it doesn’t start off as an easy or natural relationship – totally understandable when one is a human and the other a dragon. Once they grow more comfortable, their snarky comments to each other became one of my favorite parts of the book. Dani’s relationship with best friend Tomas (and his completely easy to love family) is also a bright spot. Why people think platonic relationships of the opposite sex are impossible is beyond me.

The teen conversations come across as entirely authentic, and the plot moves along at a brisk pace. It certainly didn’t feel like a 400+ page book. This novel appears to be a standalone, but the author left a door open to continue this story, and I’d love to see what happens next.

With complex family dynamics, power plays, sorcerers, magic, beautiful friendships – and most of all dragons, this is a novel that will make urban fantasy fans very happy.

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

WWW Wednesday: What Am I Reading? #amreading

WWW Wednesday is a meme from Sam at Taking On A World Of Words

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Because we were traveling, I missed doing this post last week. Just couldn’t get it together before we left.

I’m about 25% into Six Crimson Cranes and big things are starting to happen. And there seems to be an evil stepmother – go figure. I’ve read one other book by this author and had mixed feelings about it when the romance seemed to overshadow a lot of the other plot elements, and I’m hoping this doesn’t head in that same direction. The reviews have been wonderful.

Shiori, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. Normally she conceals it well, but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted, but it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother.

Raikama has dark magic of her own, and she banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes, and warning Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.

Penniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and, on her journey, uncovers a conspiracy to overtake the throne—a conspiracy more twisted and deceitful, more cunning and complex, than even Raikama’s betrayal. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to contain—no I jmatter what it costs her. 

I just finished What We Devour last night, and I’m still not sure what I think. I loved that it was a dark fantasy and featured morally gray characters, but a large piece of the story was confusing. I’m still processing.

From the author of Mask of Shadows comes a dark and intricate story of a girl who must tether herself to a violent ruler to save her crumbling world.

Lorena Adler has a secret—she holds the power of the banished gods, the Noble and the Vile, inside her. She has spent her entire life hiding from the world and her past. She’s content to spend her days as an undertaker in a small town, marry her best friend, Julian, and live an unfulfilling life so long as no one uncovers her true nature.

But when the notoriously bloodthirsty and equally Vile crown prince comes to arrest Julian’s father, he immediately recognizes Lorena for what she is. So she makes a deal—a fair trial for her betrothed’s father in exchange for her service to the crown.

The prince is desperate for her help. He’s spent years trying to repair the weakening Door that holds back the Vile…and he’s losing the battle. As Lorena learns more about the Door and the horrifying price it takes to keep it closed, she’ll have to embrace both parts of herself to survive.

I’ve read a couple things by Grady Hendrix and he’s never disappointed. I still have The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires waiting on my Kindle. Judging by that title, you know it has to be a good one. And how can you resist this title – The Final Girl Support Group. I have high expectations.

A fast-paced, thrilling horror novel that follows a group of heroines to die for, from the brilliant New York Times bestselling author of The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires.

In horror movies, the final girl is the one who’s left standing when the credits roll. The one who fought back, defeated the killer, and avenged her friends. The one who emerges bloodied but victorious. But after the sirens fade and the audience moves on, what happens to her?

Lynnette Tarkington is a real-life final girl who survived a massacre twenty-two years ago, and it has defined every day of her life since. And she’s not alone. For more than a decade she’s been meeting with five other actual final girls and their therapist in a support group for those who survived the unthinkable, putting their lives back together, piece by piece. That is until one of the women misses a meeting and Lynnette’s worst fears are realized–someone knows about the group and is determined to take their lives apart again, piece by piece.

But the thing about these final girls is that they have each other now, and no matter how bad the odds, how dark the night, how sharp the knife, they will never, ever give up.

The Ballad of Mrs. Molony (The Hat #3) by C.S. Boyack #bookreview #vampires #paranormal #TuesdayBookBlog

Lizzie and the hat are back, and this time they’re chasing vampires across a subculture of America. A pair of rodeo cowboys are holding a woman captive to use like a milk cow since they joined the undead.

The person who put them onto the trail is also a vampire, but he has to be the worst vampire in history. Is he really that pitiful, or is he setting a trap for our heroes? Does the woman even exist? Can Lizzie and the hat find her before she also takes up blood sucking?

Follow Lizzie and the hat as they use their cover band to stalk vamps across the country music scene. 

I’m a real fan of this series and, also being a vamp fan, was super excited to go on this hunting/staking adventure with Lizzie and the hat.

Working several part time jobs and playing in a band keep Lizzie busy enough, but she and the hat also have a duty to fight crime. Luckily, they can still make some money playing gigs at the same time. When Kevin asks Lizzie and the hat to help rescue his sister from a group of vampires, Lizzie wants to volunteer, but the hat is suspicious. Kevin is also a vampire, but not the dark, mysterious, sexy type – trust me on this. He doesn’t feed on humans, and he certainly doesn’t sparkle, but the hat wants to stake him anyway, nice guy or not. Having no choice but to give in, the hat loses this battle.

The banter between Lizzie and the hat is always a favorite for me in this series. Sometimes it’s like listening to an old married couple. Since discovering the internet (especially Amazon), the hat has discovered the joys of online shopping. Lizzie has to occasionally veto purchasing requests (I didn’t think the fog machine was an entirely bad idea) due to budget constraints. At least it keeps him busy (he doesn’t sleep) and out of Lizzie’s hair for a while.

I’m not a country music fan, so I was amused by the band’s attempts to slide some other non-country artists into the playlist by introducing them as cowboys. I also snorted out loud several times at the hat’s attempts to remember (more like poke fun at) Kevin’s sister’s name, Ida Rose.

At less than two hundred pages, this is a quick read. With humor, vampires (one that’s very memorable), banter, and music, this is another adventurous romp with the ever patient Lizzie and shopaholic hat. The fourth book in the series dropped recently, and I can’t wait to get started.

Moving, Bats, and Gratitude

Last week we were in Austin, TX for several days helping the youngest son relocate to his new city and apartment. Austin is a hip, artsy place that has a lot to offer. But I didn’t stop sweating from the time we landed until the time we left – I’m a super warm-blooded person. I was looking forward to cooler temps in KY, but it was 96 degrees here. Anyhoo, our son and his two roommates have a wonderful apartment – loads of storage and space – and it’s in a great location. He starts a new job today so I’m anxious to hear how his first day goes.

One thing I wanted to do while we were in Austin was watch the bats emerge from beneath the Congress Avenue Bridge and fly over Lady Bird Lake. Loads of people gather nightly, and our hotel was only a block away. We were among the crowd who lined the bridge waiting for them on a beautiful Friday evening anticipating a glorious show from these winged mammals. And they stood us up. Not one bat showed. The crowd began to disperse, so we walked back to the hotel feeling totally rejected I’ll be visiting Austin again, and I’m expecting an exquisite display from them to make up for it. If you’re interested in learning more about them click HERE.

While I was in Austin, I published a post from the WP app not once, but twice, and I still think something’s wonky with it judging by the number of views and comments. I reviewed Buried by Sue Rovens who I met through Bad Moon Rising. I think she’s participated nearly every year. If you get a chance click HERE to read the review. I’m sure Sue would appreciate some shares!

Speaking of sharing, thanks to all of you who helped spread the work about my Bookbub promotion last Monday! I reached #2 and #3 in my categories, and I consider it a good day when my book is ahead of The Hunger Games series in rankings – definitely a dream come true no matter how fleeting the moment. After all the moving hubbub, I’ve got tons to get caught up on. Here’s to a productive week!

Buried by Sue Rovens #bookreview #horror #thriller

I published this yesterday from the WP app, but something went wonky with it. Imagine that – something going wonky with WP. Anyhoo, I’m posting it again today. We’re in the midst of moving my son, so I may not be able to get to comments right away.

Hoarding is about to take a sharp left turn into the macabre.

Priscilla Wyatt is a nursing assistant who lives behind the Sommerville Funeral Home. When her dachshund, Weenie, returns home with a ghastly find, Pris’s life spirals out of control. What was once a troublesome disorder soon dissolves into a hellish nightmare from which she attempts to escape.

Gerald Zenith, proprietor of Sommerville, is too busy running scams and keeping tabs on his necrophiliac subordinate to notice what is really happening during the wee hours of the morning in the cemetery. While he was certain his ghoulish past would never catch up with him, he never realized the dead could actually return.

Some secrets are too big to stay buried.

Trust me when I say there are some strange and highly disturbed folks in this small town. A therapist could make a killing with this many patients.

Sommerville Funeral Home is busy all hours of the day and night, but not all the activities are legal. Two sets of books are kept – one that shows a respectable business and the other contains the real financial transactions. The owner is scamming the public, putting multiple bodies in graves as one example, but the most unsettling occurrence is what happens to some of the customers’ deceased family members. One of the employees is a necrophiliac – see what I mean about disturbed?

Another resident of this town, Pris, is a hoarder – and I’m not talking about just piles of magazines, clothes, etc. Her dog brings home body parts he digs up from the cemetery next door. Can you guess the types of things she begins hoarding? When her friend offers to help Pris clean her house, she makes several discoveries that indicate Pris needs professional help – and it’s not just a cleaning service. Warning: You probably shouldn’t be eating while reading about these discoveries.

It’s apparent the author did thorough research for this novel – I can only imagine what someone would think if they saw her Google searches. Surprisingly, it also contains some humorous moments, and I found myself laughing over some passages. Another reviewer stated this story has a Fargo feel, and I have to agree – dark, quirky and bizarre. It’s an unsettling, grisly tale you can’t look away from and is sure to delight horror and suspense fans.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune #bookreview #fantasy #LGBT #TuesdayBookBlog

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.

I’d seen so much hype about this book and really hoped I wouldn’t be let down when I read it. I wasn’t. It’s utter perfection. I’d give it one hundred stars if I could and doubt I can do it justice in this review.

Linus Baker leads a fairly uneventful, solitary life, residing with a cat with an attitude who basically adopted him and listening to the rants of his nosy neighbor. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge of Magical Youth (DICOMA), he’s grossly underappreciated, but kept busy making sure the children in orphanages are being properly cared for. It’s a job he takes very seriously, and he places the welfare of the children above all else. When he’s given a highly classified assignment, he’s ill-prepared for what awaits him on Marsyas Island. Little does he know it will be a profound, life-changing experience.

I fell in love with Linus, Arthur, and all of the children – they grabbed my heart and didn’t let go. Many of Linus’s interactions with Lucy (short for Lucifer, the Antichist) had me laughing out loud and were some of my favorite scenes. This is a beautifully told story about acceptance, found families, and opening yourself up to possibilities. I’ve already recommended it to several people and honestly feel like it should be required reading. Upon reaching the end, I wanted to start all over again and spend more time with these characters in their world. It’s heartwarming, endearing, delightful – I guarantee you’ll experience all the feels with this novel. It will always be one of my favorites.