Ruthless Gods (Something Dark and Holy #2) by Emily A. Duncan #bookreview #fantasy #TuesdayBookBlog

Darkness never works alone…

Nadya doesn’t trust her magic anymore. Serefin is fighting off a voice in his head that doesn’t belong to him. Malachiasz is at war with who–and what–he’s become.

As their group is continually torn apart, the girl, the prince, and the monster find their fates irrevocably intertwined. They’re pieces on a board, being orchestrated by someone… or something. The voices that Serefin hears in the darkness, the ones that Nadya believes are her gods, the ones that Malachiasz is desperate to meet—those voices want a stake in the world, and they refuse to stay quiet any longer.

This was one of my most anticipated sequels this year – and it was so worth the wait.

The followup to Wicked Saints is dark, powerful, bloody, and cerebral.  And it hurt my heart so many times.  Serefin is caught up in something he has no control over and struggles to keep his throne and his sanity.  Nadya makes impossible choices and discovers shocking truths.  And Malachiasz – what can I say?  He’s broken, dangerous, cunning, tortured, and by far my favorite character.  His relationship with Nadya is complicated beyond explanation – love/hate on steroids.  Character development is magnificent – at times I wanted to throttle each of them.

Pacing is a bit slower in this book, and occasionally the dialogue was disjointed and confusing, almost as if some lines were missing – possibly a whole scene.  But this was an ARC, so that occasionally happens.

Ruthless Gods is a heavy, chaotic, and long read, but something dark fantasy fans will devour.  The next book can’t come soon enough.

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

#AmWriting (Finally) and #Legos

Well – it’s Monday again.  Seems like it just was, but that could be due to most days blurring together.  I’m still trying to knock some jobs off the to-do list around the house.  I even washed blinds last week – I’m embarrassed to tell you how long it’s been since they were last cleaned.  Let’s just say there were mini funnel clouds and a lot of sneezing going on.

I finally opened the file of the sequel to Subject A36.  I hadn’t looked at it since NaNo in November, at first due to promoting the new release, then mostly because I haven’t felt like writing with everything going on in the world.  But it was time.  After setting aside a couple of hours yesterday to dive back in, I was excited.  I still need to go over notes, pull everything together, and make my roadmap (my loose version of an outline).  There’s a lot of work to do – guess it’s a good thing I’ve got some extra time, right?

I’m a Lego fan.  After giving my six-year-old niece a Disney Princess set for her birthday last summer then helping her put it together, she declared me a Lego Master.  It all started with my youngest son’s love of them.  We spent hours building things together, including Hogwarts castle, which was thousands of pieces.  While building, my mind was focused completely on the project, and it gave the rest of my brain a break.  Months ago, a couple of friends and I had planned a Lego and wine night.  For whatever reason, we never got it on the calendar, but I still had my kit – Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire.  Several days ago, I took it out, turned on my audiobook, and spent a very happy couple of hours snapping pieces together and applying decals.  How do you like it?  Sorry the pic’s not better.  Hubby got me a Star Wars collection for Christmas, so that’s on the agenda for this week.

Take care and stay healthy!

Reaper: A Horror Novella by Jonathan Pongratz FREE Today! #FreeBook #horror

I don’t usually post on Sunday, but today I’ve got a fantastic reason to – and I promise you’ll benefit from it.  An author friend of mine, Jonathan Pongratz, is offering Reaper: A Horror Novella FREE today!  I read it back in the winter, and if you’re a fan of dark basements and vivid imagery that may send chills down your spine, this book is for you.  Get it FREE today and you’ll have time to read it before the sequel is released – which I can’t wait to get my hands on!

Gregory and his little sister Imogen love spending Halloween with their parents. But this year is different. If he proves he can take care of Imogen all by himself, he’ll finally have the allowance he’s dreamed of.

That was before the basement door opened on its own. Before the strange door appeared in the basement and Imogen was taken from him by the monster.

Now everyone in town is blaming him for her disappearance, but no one is listening to his story. Where did the door come from? What was that creature? And most of all, can he find his sister before it’s too late, or will he bury his memories of her along with his parents?

Purchase Link  Amazon 

Excerpt:

Call me a scaredy cat all you want, but there was always something about the basement that I didn’t like. It always made me feel like I was being watched, like there was some

thing in the shadows just waiting for me to make a wrong move. Even now, the frigid air crept over me, creating more goosebumps on my arms and legs. I quickened my strides up the stairs, Imogen dragging behind.

We were halfway up the stairs when the knocks stopped. For a moment, I stopped my climb. The house was eerily quiet, and for reasons I can’t explain I felt a sudden urge to hurry back upstairs. I charged forward, trying to pull Immy along with me, but she resisted.

“Too fast!” she whined.

“If you hurry, we can play dress up sooner, now come on!” I yanked on Immy’s arm, practically lifting her into the air. Seven steps. Just seven more steps and we could look back on this night and laugh it off. Seven, six, five. Almost there.

I was just three steps away from the door when I leaped for the landing. I’ll never forget that jump. Time seemed to stand still, as if those cold icy fingers in the air had somehow found a way to slow time down. I remember that I had a smile on my face, a smile that disappeared when the door slammed shut in my face.

 

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The Jury Master (David Sloane #1) by Robert Dugoni #bookreview #thriller

In a courtroom, David Sloane can grab a jury and make it dance. He can read jurors’ expressions, feel their emotions, know their thoughts. With this remarkable ability, Sloane gets juries to believe the unbelievable, excuse the inexcusable, and return the most astonishing verdicts.

The only barrier to Sloane’s professional success is his conscience — until he gets a call from a man later found dead, and his life rockets out of control. 

If you’re a regular at my blog, a book review of a legal thriller probably isn’t what you expected to find.  This was a book club read.

I was a John Grisham fan years ago, so I’ve read my share of legal thrillers.  The Jury Master is billed as a legal thriller – and with that title, it’s exactly what you’d expect.  But make no mistake – it’s a thriller, but falls squarely in the political arena.  The MC is in a courtroom for roughly ten pages, if that much.  I listened to the audio book, so it was difficult to tell.

David Sloane is an easy character to like.  After losing his parents at an early age, he grows up in foster homes, enlists in the military, and then puts himself through law school.  He also possesses a genius level IQ, takes in a stray cat, and returns an elderly tenant’s rent at the end of every year in the guise of a stock dividend.  A super nice guy.

This book held my interest, but be warned – with an extensive character list, it’s easy to get confused.  At 496 pages, it’s also a very long read, and the plot could easily have been tightened in some places.  I noticed the next book in this series totals around 380 pages – a more reasonable length.

My book club was split as far as continuing with the series, but it spawned some interesting discussions.  Overall, a nice selection.

WWW Wednesdays: 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?

I’m about halfway through Hunting November (Killing November #2) by Adriana Mather.  Although I’m not crazy about the covers for this series, the first book was a five star read for me, and this one’s just as good.  I might have squealed when I was approved for an ARC.

Surviving a few weeks at the world’s most lethal boarding school was one thing. But now comes the real test: Can November Adley find her missing father before her enemies find her? Subterfuge is the name of the game in this thrilling sequel to Killing November, from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of How to Hang a Witch.

After surviving a crash course in espionage at the mysterious Academy Absconditi, November has only one purpose: finding her missing father. Along with fellow student (and heartthrob) Ash, November follows the clues that her father left, embarking on the deadliest treasure hunt of her life. The first clue is in her hometown, where old friends beckon and unexpected enemies lurk around every corner. The second clue is in Europe, where revelations about her family’s history will plunge her into an international web of deception, lies, and intrigue. The third clue is deep in enemy territory, surrounded by the most skilled assassins and master strategists, and where everyone wants her and her father dead. Can one girl with limited training infiltrate a centuries-old organization that is powerful enough to topple empires? November only knows that she’ll do whatever it takes to save her father . . . or die trying.

Last weekend, I finished House of Shadows by Darcy Coates.  It had a nice gothic feel and some creepy-crawly moments.  I’d like to find some time to get to the sequel.

Sophie’s world is shattered when disaster bankrupts her family. She’s still reeling from the news when she’s offered an unexpected solution: Mr Argenton, a wealthy stranger, asks for her hand in marriage.

Marrying Mr Argenton will restore her family’s fortunes and save them from scandal, but condemns Sophie to a life in Northwood, a vast and unnaturally dark mansion situated hours from civilisation.

Sophie struggles to adjust to her new position as mistress over the desolate house. Mr Argenton’s relatives are cold, and Mr Argenton himself is keeping secrets. Even worse, the house is more than it seems.

Mr Argenton’s young cousin, Elise, draws terrifying images. Doors slam. Inhuman figures slink through the forest surrounding the house. A piano plays in the middle of the night. Blood drips from the ceilings.

Sophie is inevitably pulled towards the terrifying truth: Northwood’s ancient halls are haunted by the family’s long-dead ancestors. The malevolent spirits–produced by grisly deaths–resent her intrusion into their home.

Trapped in Northwood and desperate for an escape, Sophie’s fate is further complicated as she finds herself irrevocably drawn to the tall, dark-eyed man she married. She suspects her feelings are returned, but Mr Argenton is hiding the truth about the house–and his secrets are so dangerous that they might just be unforgivable.

Up next is Where Dreams Descend (Kingdom of Cards #1) by Janella Angeles.  Just look at that gorgeous cover.  Kind of gives off a Phantom of the Opera vibe.  The reviews have been pretty good, so I’m excited.

In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide

Where Dreams Descend is the startling and romantic first book in Janella Angeles’ debut Kingdom of Cards fantasy duology where magic is both celebrated and feared, and no heart is left unscathed.

Nightmareland (Horror Anthology) #bookreview #horror #shortstories #TuesdayBookBlog

From the creators of the #1 bestseller The Box Under The Bed horror anthology and its #1 bestseller sequel Dark Visions, comes Nightmareland
A horror anthology with 23 stories from 14 authors.
A high school girl with something to prove to herself and possibly to her parents, goes to a rundown shack deep in the woods to try a new drug that will give her the worst nightmares of her young life. A “Nightmareland” injection opens a person’s biggest fears to them – and then you are on your own for however long it lasts. Tag along as she becomes a lost child on a Florida party island, an investigator looking into a circus’ bizarre side shows, an abused prisoner, and much more.

Compiled by USA Today bestselling author Dan Alatorre, this anthology of horror once again unites the minds and pens of more than a dozen amazing authors.

Nightmareland will send you into the foggy twilight of the eerie and macabre, with heart stopping stories from:
USA Today bestselling author Dan Alatorre (The Navigators),
award-winning bestselling author Robbie Cheadle
award-winning bestselling author Ellen Best
award-winning author Kaye Booth
award-winning bestselling author Betty Valentine
award-winning bestselling author Alana Turner
award-winning bestselling author Christine Valentor
award-winning bestselling author Nick Vossen
award-winning bestselling author Alana Turner
award-winning bestselling author Victoria Clapton
award-winning bestselling author AM Andrus
award-winning bestselling author Adele Marie Park
award-winning bestselling author Barbara Anne Helberg
award-winning bestselling author MD Walker
award-winning bestselling author Farmer
award-winning bestselling author Marjorie Mallon

Perfect for Halloween or any time, these stories will make you think twice before spending the night alone, watching TV with family, or even going on a casual boat ride.

I received this ARC back in October, and it’s taken me this long to get to it.  It would have been perfect for Halloween, but I’ll read tales of horror any time of the year.

Finishing the first story by Dan Alatorre, I was left hanging.  After all the buildup, I needed to know what happened next!  And he answered my questions with the last story in the book.  Very clever.  And what an ending it was.

Robbie Cheadle, another author I’m familiar with, contributed three stories to the book.  While I enjoyed all of them, I think The Siren Witch was my favorite.  Boyscouts camping at a secluded location along the river – what could go wrong?  Lots of things.  Like opening a Pandora’s Box.

As with any anthology, some tales are more polished than others, and a couple left me scratching my head, but that’s to be expected with a group of authors possessing varying writing styles.  Anthologies are perfect for giving readers an opportunity to discover new authors.  Kudos to the cover designer – it’s creepy, eerie, and brilliant.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from one of the authors.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

Easter, Surprises, and #Yoga

How was your Easter?  Like most folks, ours was quiet.  Our youngest son was here for dinner and we watched Stepbrothers (always good for laughs).  That morning we streamed our church service.  The Easter Bunny, his helpers, and some firefighter friends with their truck drove through our neighborhood Saturday throwing out candy.  It was a beautiful day and fun to see the excited kids standing at the end of their driveways waving – adults, too.

A local author friend surprised me and ran this ad in our newspaper yesterday.  What a generous thing to do!  Many people here are probably unaware Bowling Green is home to several authors – one of those names was even new to me.  It may or may not sell books, but who knows what might come from it down the road when life is closer to normal again.

 

Want to relieve some stress and quiet your mind?  I think that’s an opporunity we’d all jump at right now.  Try yoga.  I’ve been practicing for around 20 years.  With the class schedule at my gym occasionally inconsistent, I had to look for alternatives.  A few years ago, I stumbled across Yoga with Adriene on YouTube.  She offers tons of videos ranging from beginner to advanced lasting from ten minutes to an hour, with many of them focusing on specific areas of the body.  Last week when I woke, my neck felt like it had been twisted in inhuman ways.  I did Adriene’s Yoga for Neck and Shoulder Relief and it helped – the next day, the pain was completely gone.  If you regularly practice yoga and miss your class or have been thinking about trying it, here’s your chance – and you can practice in the privacy of your own home.  Adriene’s got a great sense of humor, and her dog, Benji, usually sits in (or lays in) on the classes.

Take care and stay healthy!