Best of 2019 Book Giveaway Hop!

WHOOPS! I goofed and missed the detail that the hop goes through January 31. Thank you to the reader who pointed that out for me. So, the giveaway is ongoing, and I will give away another $10 Amazon card. The winner will be chosen from all comments made before 11:59 pm on January 31. (Sorry, Beth, you’re out of the running for that one! 🙂 ) So, comment away!

***GIVEAWAY CLOSED!*** The winner, as chosen by, is Beth Minyard!

Welcome to the Best of 2019 Giveaway Hop! All of the blogs in the hop will be sharing about books published in 2019 that they loved, and they’ll all be offering giveaways! Isn’t it fun to start off the year with a giveaway or three? You can find other blogs participating in the hop at the bottom of this post.

Without further ado, let me tell you about my favorite book of the year. It’s actually a series, not a book, because I’m extra like that.

The Kingdoms of Evernow by Heidi Catherine

The Kingdoms of Evernow by Heidi Catherine

I was introduced to the works of Heidi Catherine when she posted in a Facebook group looking for advance readers. I said yes to the first in the series, The Whisperers of Evernow, and I am SO GLAD I did! Heidi Catherine does a marvelous job of creating a believable world that you wish you could visit and characters you will cheer for, laugh with, and cry over. There is incredible good and unspeakable evil, and love that will sacrifice all woven throughout her stories. I can’t recommend the series highly enough, and you can read my review of The Whisperers of Evernow here. See if you think you might enjoy the series as much as I have. Also, you can grab The Whisperers of Evernow on Amazon – it’s available for free if you have Kindle Unlimited, or 99 cents if you don’t (and that’s an affiliate link – if you order through it, I get a little money and you get a good book).

To celebrate my favorite book of 2019, I’m giving one reader a $10 Amazon gift card. If you’d like to enter, just leave a comment telling me YOUR favorite book of 2019! Entries close Friday, January 17, or after eight people have entered, whichever comes first. Please be sure to leave the email address you’d like to receive the gift card at if you’re the winner. Thanks for reading and playing!

You can go check out other blogs’ favorites and giveaways at the link-up here:

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

Posted in Books | Tagged , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Book Review and Blog Tour: First Cut by Judy Melinek & T. J. Mitchell

  • Title: First Cut
  • Series: I sure hope so!
  • Author: Judy Melinek & T. J. Mitchell
  • Genre: Medical Fiction, Medical Thriller, Forensic Fiction
  • Where to buy: Amazon (affiliate link), Harlequin, Barnes & Noble
  • Would I recommend: Absolutely!

Book Summary:

Wife and husband duo Dr. Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell first enthralled the book world with their runaway bestselling memoir Working Stiff—a fearless account of a young forensic pathologist’s “rookie season” as a NYC medical examiner. This winter, Dr. Melinek, now a prominent forensic pathologist in the Bay Area, once again joins forces with writer T.J. Mitchell to take their first stab at fiction. 

The result: FIRST CUT (Hanover Square Press; Hardcover; January 7, 2020; $26.99)—a gritty and compelling crime debut about a hard-nosed San Francisco medical examiner who uncovers a dangerous conspiracy connecting the seedy underbelly of the city’s nefarious opioid traffickers and its ever-shifting terrain of tech startups.

Dr. Jessie Teska has made a chilling discovery. A suspected overdose case contains hints of something more sinister: a drug lord’s attempt at a murderous cover up. As more bodies land on her autopsy table, Jessie uncovers a constellation of deaths that point to an elaborate network of powerful criminals—on both sides of the law—that will do anything to keep things buried. But autopsy means “see for yourself,” and Jessie Teska won’t stop until she’s seen it all—even if it means the next corpse on the slab could be her own.

My review:

I love a good forensic mystery, and this one pulled me right in. In First Cut, Dr. Jessie Teska has just started her new job at the San Francisco medical examiner’s office. She’s got to jump right in, because the caseload is slammed and the office is, to put it kindly, decrepit. Her first case is described as a slam dunk, a probable overdose. Shortly after, she picks up a homicide. What she doesn’t yet know is how these two cases will overlap and intertwine, and what her investigation will reveal.

I was interested in this book because Melinek was an assistant medical examiner and Mitchell is a writer with an English degree. I majored in English and went to law school. Had life turned out differently, I would have stuck with a science degree and gone into forensics. So I expected First Cut would be right up my alley. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint.

This book has twists and turns and action aplenty. In the course of her investigating, Jessie gets on the radar of some pretty nasty dudes, and one comes after her with the intent to kill. That doesn’t happen. Jessie is tough and persistent, and she does what she feels is right without much concern that the consequences to her may be unpleasant. I like her! I also love the little detail that her house is a converted cable car. Jessie sounds like someone I could really get along with.

The book ends in rather open-ended fashion. Don’t worry, you won’t find major plot line cliffhangers – it just reads like there could be more story yet to come. I would love to see more books set in Jessie Teska’s universe. Thanks to Harlequin Hanover Square for the review copy of the book.

About the Authors:

Judy Melinek was an assistant medical examiner in San Francisco for nine years, and today works as a forensic pathologist in Oakland and as CEO of PathologyExpert Inc. She and T.J. Mitchell met as undergraduates at Harvard, after which she studied medicine and practiced pathology at UCLA. Her training in forensics at the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner is the subject of their first book, the memoir Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner.

T.J. Mitchell is a writer with an English degree from Harvard, and worked in the film industry before becoming a full-time stay-at-home dad. He is the New York Times bestselling co-author of Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner with his wife, Judy Melinek.



FB: @DrWorkingStiff



Disclaimer: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher, Harlequin Hanover Square. All opinions here are my own, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t like.

Posted in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Harlequin | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: The Angels of Evernow by Heidi Catherine (The Kingdoms of Evernow #5)

  • Title: The Angels of Evernow
  • Series: The Kingdoms of Evernow, Book 5
  • Author: Heidi Catherine
  • Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Sword & Sorcery, Epic Fantasy
  • Where to buy: Amazon (affiliate link – releases Nov. 6)
  • Would I recommend: Oh my gosh, have you not been paying attention? GO GET THE SERIES. Do it. Now.

From Goodreads:

Will the Evernow be united at last or will the wicked Queen blind them all?

Taken far from her home, Lily has been forced to mine for treasures alongside an army of starving children. Until the Queen decides she’d like the King to present her with the greatest treasure of all—a daughter.

Lily is brought to the Queen’s bejewelled palace in the middle of the angry sea, only to discover the Queen is as mad as she is selfish. She demands Lily tell her bedtime stories, polish her crystals, and dive into the freezing ocean to search for the magic treasure she lost when she threw it from her tower in a fit of rage.

As Lily fights the madness that surrounds her, she attempts to unlock the power of the crystals to call on the four Angels she dreams of each night. Unless this is a sign she’s going mad herself…

Raphael has been having dreams of his own. Blessed with inexplicable visions of the future, he sees Lily trapped in a faraway kingdom, feeling her cries for help deep in his heart. Could Lily be the missing piece of his life that nothing else has been able to fill?

With only one way to find out, Raphael gathers an ambassador from each of the Kingdoms of Evernow and together they set out to defeat the Queen, release the children from her greedy rule, and bring Lily home. But will the Evernow be united in peace at last, or will the mad Queen use her power of sight to capture them all?

With a story that will light your soul, this stunning conclusion of the spellbinding The Kingdoms of Evernow series is a must-read by award-winning author, Heidi Catherine.

The Kingdoms of Evernow. Five kingdoms. Five senses. One secret that will change them all. 

My review:

I hate that I finished this book. Why, you ask? Because it’s Heidi Catherine’s last entry in The Kingdoms of Evernow, and that means the series is over! There’s no more of it to read! WAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!

The Angels of Evernow is a worthy ending to a marvelous series. In this book, Princess Lily of Forte Cadence is in the kingdom of Feldspar, where she’s been since she was kidnapped. She was one of the children forced to work in the mines, digging for precious stones for the Queen. Then one day, the King plucked her from her work to be daughter to the Queen, her precious Angel. Lily lives in a lighthouse that serves as the Queen’s bejeweled palace, isolated from everyone and everything except the King and Queen. Although she goes by the name Angel, she has never forgotten who she is and where she comes from, and she yearns desperately to return home.

In the other four kingdoms, there are some having visions of Lily, and they know she needs help. We see Micah (sister of King Jeremiah, Forte Cadence), Raphael (the Alchemist of Wintergreen), Azrael (the Sands of Naar), and Pip (Princess Philippa of the Bay of Laurel) and her Guardian, Griffen, join forces and set out to rescue Lily. Each of them will play a vital role in the quest.

The five Kingdoms of Evernow each relate to a particular sense, and Feldspar relates to the sense of sight. Lily and Raphael see each other through visions. The stones the children mine glitter and shine, appealing to the sight (but they’re kind of hard and uncomfortable to touch, showing us that just because something is pretty doesn’t mean it’s gentle or good).

I won’t tell you all of the story. Heidi Catherine does a far better job of that than I could ever hope to do. I will say that this book, this series, is well worth the read. We see characters overcome hardship, battle insecurity, learn their true worth, and find out what family really means. There’s action and intrigue and romance. There is at least one twist to the plot that I didn’t pick up on ahead of time. Lily is not the only person in the story who needs saving, in some form or other. And I will say this: there was more than one point in the story that had me in tears, and I am not a crier. Ms. Catherine weaves a powerful spell with her words, and that spell bring out some mighty strong emotions. I am so pleased to have had the chance to read her work, and I’m sad because there is no more of this series to read. I feel like I’m saying goodbye to friends.

Read The Angels of Evernow. Read the entire series. It is so, so, so good. In my own little ranking system, I give it ten stars and a “MUST READ.”

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary advance copy from the author. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.

Posted in Book Reviews, Books | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi

  • Title: War Girls
  • Author: Tochi Onyebuchi
  • Genre: Sci-fi/fantasy, African fantasy, military fiction, futuristic fiction
  • Where to buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
  • Would I recommend: Yes

From Goodreads:

Two sisters are torn apart by war and must fight their way back to each other in a futuristic, Black Panther–inspired Nigeria.

The year is 2172. Climate change and nuclear disasters have rendered much of earth unlivable. Only the lucky ones have escaped to space colonies in the sky.

In a war-torn Nigeria, battles are fought using flying, deadly mechs and soldiers are outfitted with bionic limbs and artificial organs meant to protect them from the harsh, radiation-heavy climate. Across the nation, as the years-long civil war wages on, survival becomes the only way of life.

Two sisters, Onyii and Ify, dream of more. Their lives have been marked by violence and political unrest. Still, they dream of peace, of hope, of a future together.

And they’re willing to fight an entire war to get there.

Acclaimed author Tochi Onyebuchi has written an immersive, action-packed, deeply personal novel perfect for fans of Nnedi Okorafor, Marie Lu, and Paolo Bacigalupi. 

My review:

War Girls is set on a future Earth, torn by war and devastated by radiation. Onyii and Ify are sisters, not by blood, but by shared experience. They live in a camp of War Girls, girls who are part of the rebel faction of Biafra. War is raging between Biafra and Nigeria, and these girls have no other home. Onyii and Ify long for a free and independent Biafra, a life where they can live in peace. But for now, they must fight. The girls are enhanced by different types of tech, and they are assisted by droids using nanobot technology. They use every resource they can to protect themselves from the radiation that permeates the atmosphere.

When the War Girls’ camp is located and destroyed by Nigerians, Onyii and Ify are separated. Each thinking the other is dead, they go on to very different lives. Ify lives in Nigeria, one of their best and brightest minds, with what appears to be a glorious future ahead of her. Onyii still fights for freedom, and she makes a name for herself as the Demon of Biafra, the most devastating military weapon Biafra has. But the day is coming when each will learn that the other lives, and that will change everything.

I knew almost nothing about the Nigerian War when I read this book. Part of the author’s stated intent is to bring more awareness to that period of history, and it was very interesting to learn about. I’d like to know more.

The story itself is jam-packed with action. There are battles and betrayals, secrets revealed and relationships reconciled. There is also some interesting commentary on what makes us human and what family can really mean. There were some sections where the story got a bit muddled and hard for me to keep straight, and I had to go back and reread a handful of times to make sure I understood where things were heading. But it was good enough to hold my attention throughout, and I’m looking forward to the sequel.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book from Bookish First. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books that I don’t like.

Posted in Book Reviews, Bookish First, Books | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: Valleys, Vehicles & Victims (A Camper & Criminals Cozy Mystery #9) by Tonya Kappes

  • Title: Valleys, Vehicles & Victims
  • Author: Tonya Kappes
  • Genre: Cozy Mystery, Southern Cozy Mystery
  • Where to buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
  • Would I recommend: If you like a good, clean cozy mystery with a Southern flair, read this whole series!

From Goodreads:

Welcome to Normal, Kentucky where nothing is normal!

The Daniel Boone National Forest is gorgeous in the fall. The leaves have painted the sides of the mountains with yellow, oranges, reds and browns you won’t see anywhere else. That’s why it’s such a popular destination for weddings!

When a wedding party show up at Happy Trails Campground, Mae West is thrilled. She’s all things girly and excited to assist the bride in all things southern, which is what the bride is hankering for.

Mae recognizes the parents of the bride when they arrive. They are from her past. The past she’s been desperately trying to escape…especially since it was the time she was married to Paul West. This just isn’t any couple, it’s the owners of the famous Moonbucks Coffee Company.

Determined to get the happy couple married off and on their way, hoping to see some of her past drive off forever, Mae volunteers herself and the Laundry Club ladies to become the wedding coordinators.

The wedding is set to take place in the beautiful wedding barn at the Old Train Station Motel, only Gert Hobson, the owner of Trails Coffee Shop and providing the coffee for the happy couple, has decided there’s no way she’s going to help out with Tom Moon’s daughter’s wedding since she claims how years ago Tom Moon STOLE her coffee blend recipe known today as the special Moonbucks blend.

A public fight between Gert and Tom leaves Gert a prime suspect after a member of the wedding party is found dead at the wedding venue. There might not be a happily ever after for the bride to be or Gert Hobson if Mae West and the Laundry Club ladies don’t solve the murder before the wedding party’s RV rolls out of town. 

My review:

This is the ninth book in Tonya Kappes’ Camper & Criminals series, and I think it’s the best one yet. The book can be read as a stand-alone, as there are no cliffhangers at the end of any of the books in the series, but you have a better understanding of the characters if you start at the beginning of the series and read straight through.

Shay Moon and her wedding party descend on the campground, with Shay set on having the Southern wedding of her dreams right there in Normal. Come to find out, her father is Tom Moon, the man behind Moonbucks Coffee. Not only was he a part of Mae’s past life in high society, he also has a history with one of the residents of Normal. Not a good history, either. He’s got his own agenda, and what Tom Moon wants, Tom Moon is used to getting. Sparks fly, secrets come to light, and before you know it, someone ends up dead, killed with one of the knives from Gert Hobson’s coffee shop. Gert is the prime suspect, but Mae and the Laundry Club ladies are on the case to help their friend.

As with the rest of the series, the book is full of colorful characters and Southern charm. We learn more about Gert in this story, and we see more of Mae’s life before Normal brought to light. And if she isn’t paying attention, by the end of the story, it’s clear that Mae REALLY means a LOT to Hank. Someone please tell me there will be wedding bells for those two before the series ends!

And don’t worry that you’ll figure out whodunnit before the end of the book. There’s always a twist, and boy, is there ever a twist here. I did NOT see it coming!

This is another fun read from Ms. Kappes, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy from the author. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t like.

Posted in Book Reviews, Books | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: The Girl Behind the Red Rope by Ted Dekker and Rachelle Dekker

  • Title: The Girl Behind the Red Rope
  • Author: Ted Dekker and Rachelle Dekker
  • Genre: Christian Fiction, Supernatural Thriller
  • Where to buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
  • Would I recommend: Yes

From Goodreads:

Ten years ago, Grace saw something that would forever change the course of history. When evil in its purest form is unleashed on the world, she and others from their religious community are already hidden deep in the hills of Tennessee, abiding by every rule that will keep them safe, pure–and alive. As long as they stay there, behind the red perimeter.

Her older brother’s questions and the arrival of the first outsiders she’s seen in a decade set in motion events that will question everything Grace has built her life on. Enemies rise on all sides–but who is the real enemy? And what will it cost her to uncover the truth?

For the first time, bestselling authors Ted Dekker and Rachelle Dekker team up and deliver an intense, tightly focused ride through the most treacherous world of all.

My review:

Grace lives with her mother and brother in the sequestered community of Haven Valley, Tennessee. They moved there ten years ago when their leader received a message that they needed to hide and follow strict rules in order to be saved from the Furies that were coming. As the story opens, Grace is helping her brother, Jamie, explore outside the boundaries established for their safety. She is terrified, but helps him anyway. Jamie in particular is questioning whether the boundary is needed, whether the Furies still exist. He speaks up in their assembly one day, and when Grace supports him, they are both sent outside the boundary to come back with proof, one way or the other. Jamie is horribly attacked, and becomes more vigilant than ever in insisting that their boundary, their fear, keeps them safe. Grace, though, begins to question more than ever.

Grace’s father, Ben, questioned from the start. He left the community and has been living outside the boundary. He travels with a boy, Eli, and he is dying. He is desperate to make his way back, to see his children before he dies. He tells Grace that Eli is there to show them the truth. But what is truth?

Ted Dekker teams up with his daughter, Rachelle, to write this book. As with every other Dekker story I’ve read, there is the story you read with your eyes. And as always, it’s a thrill ride. There is tension, there is excitement, there is danger lurking, and it’s a heck of a read. It did seem to slow just a little in the first third, but after that, I could hardly put it down.

There’s also the story beneath the story, the one you read with your heart. The theme of fear keeping us safe is prevalent in this tale. Fear keeps us from being burned by the fire, keeps us from racing out in to traffic, keeps us from doing something stupid that will bring us harm. But when taken to extremes, fear also imprisons us, becomes a god unto itself, and blinds us to the truth. Grace had to face her fears in many forms, and she could not do that in her own strength. So it is with us. We can’t fight our fears alone, but with the power of God’s light and love, we can face them and conquer them. This book is a marvelous reminder of that truth.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, Revell. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.

Posted in Book Reviews, Books, Revell, Revell Reads | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: The Guardians of Evernow (The Kingdoms of Evernow, #4)

  • Title: The Guardians of Evernow
  • Series: The Kingdoms of Evernow, Book 4
  • Author: Heidi Catherine
  • Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Sword & Sorcery, Epic Fantasy
  • Where to buy: Amazon (affiliate link – releases Sept. 6)
  • Would I recommend: If you haven’t started reading this series after my other reviews, what are you waiting for?! Go get all the books already!

From Goodreads:

Will he sacrifice everything for the one who sacrificed it all?

River is a Guardian, bred for courage and trained to fight. Her duty is to serve her King and her future was scripted long ago–marry a male Guardian and strengthen the bloodline of the next generation. But when the King decides his own bloodline must be strengthened, River’s bestowed the honor of marrying his son, and her future slips even further out of her grasp.

Tate is a Prince whose heart is as kind as River’s is strong. He’d rather protect the vulnerable and care for his reclusive sister than rule a kingdom. But he knows the time has come for him to step up. Marrying without love isn’t something he wishes for either, but he has no choice if he’s to take the throne and ensure the kingdom will live in peace.

But someone else has their eye on the throne… Someone who knows all about the tonics that are the key to the Guardians’ strength, and he’ll stop at nothing to bring the kingdom down so he can rule them all. Setting out on a path of destruction, he makes a cunning plan to marry the Princess and remove anyone standing in his way.

River and Prince Tate must work together as team to save the kingdom. As Guardians mysteriously die, boundaries are pushed and the threat of an invasion looms, they’ll discover if their marriage is built on more than just convenience. Is it possible that it’s also built on love?

With a story that will feed your imagination, the fourth book in the spellbinding The Kingdoms of Evernow series is a must-read by award-winning author, Heidi Catherine.

My review:

You might think that, after three books, the fourth book in a series might start to lag a little. Not so with The Guardians of Evernow. Heidi Catherine has a positive gift for creating amazing worlds and populating them with real, relatable characters. It just keeps on getting better with each book I read! I would give this one ten stars if I could.

The Guardians are the army of the kingdom of The Bay of Laurel. They’re strong and courageous, attributes enhanced by the tonics the kingdom’s herbalist, Ariel, prepares for them. The king wants his son, Tate, to have an heir that will embody the strength of the Guardians, so he selects a female Guardian for Tate to marry.

River has been raised a Guardian. She knows it is her duty to protect the kingdom, and she knows she’ll be called upon to marry another Guardian and strengthen their bloodlines. But when she is chosen to marry the Prince, she sees her future taking an unexpected – and not necessarily wanted – turn. Can this ever be a true marriage, to someone she doesn’t even know?

Tate and River are smart enough not to force their relationship, and Tate is smart enough to know he doesn’t want to be the kind of king his father is. But what they don’t realize at first is that there’s someone who aspires to take control of the kingdom, and who won’t stop at turning the tonics, the Guardians’ source of strength, against them. Edison, Ariel’s son, doesn’t want to be the next herbalist after his mother. He wants more. So very much more.

Each book in The Kingdoms of Evernow series deals with one of the five senses, and The Guardians of Evernow deals with taste/eating. We see the king’s gluttony. We see a gentle handling of the difficulties of eating disorders with Tate’s sister, Pip. We see the tonics, something consumed, used either to strengthen or to kill.

And we see the power of relationships, and what happens when they go bad. Tate and River give each other room to get to know each other before pushing to consummate their marriage, and it grows into something beautiful. The relationship between Tate and Edison, and Pip and Edison, was cut off when they were young, and Edison took it poorly. That shaped his future, his vision of how things should be, and he played on those old feelings when it suited him, misusing a past relationship.

The story is told partly in flashbacks, and I found this to be a very effective technique. It allowed the author to reveal at least one very significant plot twist that made me gasp aloud. I also really like how each successive story intertwines with characters from previous stories. It’s fun to see how the characters from the different kingdoms relate to each other. With that character crossover here, I cannot WAIT to get my hands on book 5!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary advance reader copy from the author. All opinions expressed here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.

Posted in Book Reviews, Books | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: Heartless (A Born Assassin, #2)

  • Title: Heartless (A Born Assassin, #2)
  • Author: Jacqueline Pawl
  • Genre: YA, Fantasy
  • Date: May 22, 2019
  • Would I recommend? Yes
  • Where to purchase: Amazon (affiliate link)

From Goodreads:

Still reeling from the Assassins’ deadly attack, Mercy, Tamriel, and Calum have no choice but to venture to the wild and war-torn Cirisor Islands for the one ingredient which may cure the deadly plague sweeping the country. They have no idea what they will face in the land of the fabled elves, except that the brutal Cirisians do not hesitate to kill any humans who trespass into their territory.

When secrets, betrayals, and misplaced trust threaten to tear their group apart, Mercy finds herself caught between her desires to protect Tamriel and to expose Calum’s crimes—secrets the sharp-tongued blacksmith will kill to keep hidden. After a Cirisian clan leader takes them hostage, the three of them must work together to ensure that Cassius Baccha’s vision of the cure comes to fruition. They’ll do anything to save Tamriel’s people and right the wrongs the mad king has committed, but first, they have to survive the Islands—and each other.

My review:

Another page-turner from Jacqueline Pawl! Heartless picks up where Merciless left off. Mercy, Tamriel, and Calum, along with a squad of soldiers, head for Cirisor, where it is believed they can find a cure for the plague that has stricken Sandori. Tamriel knows that Mercy was sent to kill him and is barely speaking to her – never mind the fact that she burned all her bridges with the Daughters when she killed two of them. And she can’t tell him the truth about the contract on his life.

Things don’t really get much better once they reach Cirisor. The Cirisian elves have no reason to trust humans, given humans’ disdain for and mistreatment of them. But they appear willing to take Mercy in as one of their own, if only she is willing.

This book is a humdinger! We jump back into the world of Merciless, replete with incidents and “accidents”, hints and allegations. There is tension – between Tamriel and Mercy, between Mercy and Calum, between elves and humans, between the right choices and the wrong ones. There is intrigue, an unexpected evil, and betrayal. Secrets are revealed and alliances are built. And we get to go along for the ride.

When I read Merciless, the use of third person present tense was a little distracting at first. This time, that caused no such issues. We learn more about the main characters, and the book leaves off in a spot where I have GOT to have the next one in the series to find out what happens next. Ms. Pawl does an excellent job of continuing to flesh out this universe and develop her characters into multi-faceted, and fascinating, people. Well done!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy from the author. All opinions expressed here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t like.

Posted in Book Reviews, Books | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: Curse Breaker (Kingdom of Runes, #2)

  • Title: Curse Breaker
  • Series: Kingdom of Runes, #2
  • Author: Audrey Grey
  • Genre: Fantasy, Dark Fantasy
  • Where to buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
  • Cover: Smashing!
  • Pacing: Brisk
  • Would I recommend: Only if you enjoy swords and sorcery, light versus dark, and plot twists to make your hair fry. Yes. Go get it already.

From Goodreads:

All magic has a price. 

Haven survived the Devourers, but she isn’t any closer to breaking the curse. Meanwhile, her forbidden magic rages brighter and more dangerous every day. 

To control her powers and stand a chance against the Shade Queen, Haven made a bargain with two enemy immortals. Now her waking hours are spent fighting alongside the Sun Lord, but her dreams belong to the Shade Lord. 

Only the closer she ventures into the wicked Shadow Kingdom the more her magic shows itself—and the more she struggles with whom to trust. The golden but wounded Sun Lord or the darkly charismatic Shade Lord. 

Both are off-limits. 

And both have the ability to save her . . . or destroy her. 

With the Shade Queen closing in and Bell’s time nearly up, Haven will sacrifice everything to break the curse—but will it be enough to stop the mortal realm from falling into darkness forever? 

Welcome to the Kingdom of Runes where immortals and humans clash, light and dark magic reign, and mythical creatures lurk in the shadows. If you like fierce heroines, enemies-to-lovers romance, wild plot twists, and endearing characters that stay with you long after you reach the end, you need to discover the book readers are calling dark fantasy at its best. Just make sure to clear out some space on your calendar first! 

My review:

Curse Breaker jumps right in where Oath Taker left off and takes the reader on another fast-paced adventure. Haven and the group of Solis she’s been traveling with continue to fight their way through the Ruinlands to get the things they need to break the Curse. It seems like nothing can ever be easy for them, and Haven is trying to master her forbidden hybrid magick while they fight one battle after another. And she is determined to save Bell, no matter what it costs her.

In this book, we get a bit more insight into both Archeron and Stolas. We learn that they aren’t just what they appear to be on the surface, and I enjoyed getting to know more about them. Bless Haven’s heart, she has feelings for both of them. I’m curious to see how the love relationships play out in book three. We also learn more about Bell and about the prince who was responsible for bringing the Curse down in the first place, and we learn more about the Noctis and the Shade Queen from Bell’s point of view.

Action, tension, attraction, a tragic true love story, and twists and turns you don’t see coming. That’s Curse Breaker, a smokin’ good read and an excellent continuation of the Kingdom of Runes series. The third book cannot get here fast enough for me!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy from the author. All opinions expressed here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.

Posted in Book Reviews, Books | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: The Empress of Evernow (The Kingdoms of Evernow, #3)

  • Title: The Empress of Evernow
  • Series: The Kingdoms of Evernow, Book 3
  • Author: Heidi Catherine
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Where to buy: Amazon (affiliate link – releases August 6)
  • Would I recommend: Oh, heck, yes. Heidi Catherine’s world-building and characterization are second to none.

Goodreads Synopsis:

How can she rule a kingdom, when the kingdom rules her every move?

Rani is heir to a kingdom where human touch is outlawed. Surrounded by a harsh desert and ruled by a vicious Board, every twenty-eight turns of the sand, the women must submit to a siring to save the declining population. Rani has no say in any of this, forced to comply or be released into the desert and left to die.

But Aarow knows there’s another way to live. That touch is no longer deadly. That it’s time to break down generations of fear. All they need to do is start a revolution…

As love sparks in the hot desert sands, Rani and Aarow will need to unite and lead a battle to set the people free. Free to live the life they choose, free to raise their own children and free to place their hands on the people they love.

Read this series in order or dive in at any book! Each story stands alone but interconnects with the others.

With a story that will set your heart ablaze, the third book in the spellbinding The Kingdoms of Evernow series is a must-read by award-winning author, Heidi Catherine.

My review:

Heidi Catherine knocks it out of the park with the third book in the Kingdoms of Evernow series. In The Empress of Evernow, Rani is the future empress of the Sands of Naar. Her father is but a figurehead, and the Chairman of the Board governs with a brutal hand. Rani is now of age to participate in her first siring, a passionless process carried out with the hope of conceiving children to replenish the kingdom’s diminishing population.

Touch is outlawed in the Sands of Naar. It was supposedly banned years ago to prevent the spread of disease, but it’s gone far beyond that. Children are conceived, birthed, and raised with the bare minimum of physical contact, and never skin touching skin. 

When the Chairman insists that he will be the one to participate in Rani’s first siring, the Emperor is powerless to stop him. Rani, appalled at the prospect, takes matters into her own hands and flees into the desert. Even knowing she faces the very real possibility of death in the burning sands, that is preferable to staying where she is.

Aarow lives in a secret colony underground, made up of Reborns – those who have escaped and made a way to survive in the desert. He knows there’s a way to live without being under the Council’s domination, that touch doesn’t kill. He rescues Rani, and convinces her that there is a way to free those in the city. They must start a revolution.

This is such a good book! Each book in the Kingdoms of Evernow series deals with the misuse and abuse of a particular sense, and in this book, it’s touch. Imagine a world without high fives, without hugs, without lovers’ embraces, without a mother’s gentle hand. That’s where Rani lives. At the start, she is quiet and reserved. But the thought of allowing the Chairman to try to father a child on her is the straw that breaks the camel’s back, so to speak. That moves her to action. I loved seeing her become a passionate advocate for her people.

The book is part of a series, and there is some crossover with other books in the series, but this can be read as a stand-alone work. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I can’t wait for book 4!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary review copy from the author. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t like.

Posted in Book Reviews, Books | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment