Review: Ruthless Gods (Something Dark and Holy #2) by Emily A. Duncan

Ruthless Gods (Something Dark and Holy, #2)Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ruthless Gods, the second installment of Emily A. Duncan’s debut YA Fantasy trilogy, Something Dark and Holy, continues to bring the dark atmosphere I cherish.

Significantly darker than your average YA Fantasy, this second book especially, toed the line of Horror and I’m here for it.

Our three main characters, Nadya, Serefin and Malachiasz, return and, y’all, they go through it.

This world is hella brutal. The magic, the landscape, it seems everything is out to get them, maybe even each other.

I enjoyed the character growth in this sequel, as each of them is faced with their own private battles. As they seemingly grow closer towards one another, outside forces are simultaneously pushing them apart.

Each is conflicted with their own demons, causing conflict amongst them. Meddlesome Gods play them like pawns in a game. The intensity is constant.

This was definitely an action-packed ride!

I’ll admit, I wish I would have taken the time to go back and review the first novel, particularly the ending, prior to picking this one up.

Up to around the 50% point of this book, I was confused. I was enjoying it, but it was a confused enjoyment.

My plan is to reread the first two books prior to the release of the third. I absolutely will be following through with this until its, no doubt, brutal conclusion.

I love this world. Based on an Eastern European culture and landscape, I find that the aspects of terrain and local folklore and legends, really add to my overall enjoyment of the story.

If you are a fan of Grimdark Fantasy, Blood Magic and Gods who manipulate the greater worlds around them, then you should definitely pick this series up!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate it so much!

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Review: Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon To White America by Michael Eric Dyson

Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White AmericaTears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From the synopsis:

‘Short, emotional, literary, powerful―Tears We Cannot Stop is the book that all Americans who care about the current and long-burning crisis in race relations will want to read.’

There are innumerable passages within this insightful and thought-provoking work by Michael Eric Dyson that I could quote here, but I’m not going to do that because I want you to read it for yourself.

The audiobook, narrated by the author, is just over 5-hours and in my opinion, is the most impactful way to read this. His gift in oration brings such fire and heart to the message, it is not to be missed.

Five hours out of your life.

Open your ears, open your mind, open your heart. Just listen. Don’t argue, nit-pick, ‘yeah, but’ your way through this.

JUST LISTEN.

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Review: The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying VampiresThe Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Patricia Campbell’s life may be full, but she wouldn’t necessarily call it fulfilling. The one thing she has of her own to look forward to, are the evenings spent with the ladies of her ‘murderinos’ Book Club.

The Club consists of a group of like-minded Southern housewives, who discuss True Crime and other less savory topics, they would never openly admit they’re interested in.

It’s the early-1990s and in their conservative neighborhood, just outside of Charleston, it sounds better to say their Club is a Bible Study. So, that’s what they say.

It raises a lot less eyebrows that way.

When a handsome stranger moves to town, Patricia is intrigued and oddly enough, he seems interested in joining the conversation.

Patricia, in neighborly good spirits, invites him along to Book Club one evening. After all, how much harm could it possibly cause?

The closer Patricia gets to this man, James Harris, the more she seems to notice that something’s not quite right about him.

Patricia’s live-in mother-in-law seems to take an instant dislike to him; possibly confusing him with someone from her past. No doubt a symptom of her dementia, but there are other things too.

As local children begin disappearing, whispers of a boogie man luring them to the woods surface.

Patricia, spurred on by the woman who once offered care to her mother-in-law, begins an investigation of her own. She suspects James may be behind the horrific events, but will anyone believe her?

Luckily, Patricia does have some true friends within her Book Club and the ladies team up to get to the bottom of the mystery that is, James Harris.

Guys, I LOVED this book so much!

The dynamics amongst the ladies in the Book Club, it gave me life! I adored their Southern charm and humor, as well as the time period being the early 90s.

Hendrix writes Horror Comedy so well, somehow making it lighthearted, yet horrifying at the same time. It’s really quite a skill.

There was also a certain scene in here, occurring during Patricia’s investigation, that was hands down, one of the most cringe worthy scenes I have EVER read.

That sh*t would make Stephen King proud. It was legit, skin crawling, gagging, exclaiming while I’m reading, good.

I listened to the audiobook for this read, having since purchased a hard copy. I know I will be reading this again.

Side note, it just so happens, which I didn’t know going in, that this is voiced by my favorite narrator of all time, Bahni Turpin, who is an absolute goddess!

If you are considering listening to the audio, I absolutely recommend it. A++ performance!

Overall, this book knocked it out of the park. An easy 5-stars from me. Believe the hype!

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Blog Tour: Sister Dear by Hannah Mary McKinnon

Sister DearSister Dear by Hannah Mary McKinnon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

As her beloved Dad lay in his death bed at a local hospice, Eleanor Hardwicke, overhears a family secret that challenges everything she thought she knew about her life.

It turns out that her Dad, the closest person to her in the world, isn’t actually her biological father.

She can’t believe it. She feels so betrayed, he has lied to her for her entire life.

She would expect something like that from her mother, who is an absolutely vile woman, but her Dad? It’s a complete shock. One she doesn’t take well.

In the days that follow, she’s torn apart by how she behaved; kicking herself for her harsh reaction.

It’s too late for her to make it up to her Dad, so there’s nothing left to do but learn about her biological father, right?

When she discovers who he is, she can’t believe it!

A influential real estate magnate who owns half of the city she lives in, Portland, Maine.

In fact, he lives in Portland as well, with his beautiful wife. The power couple have a grown daughter, Victoria, meaning Eleanor has a half-sister she has never known.

Upon further investigation, she discovers Victoria is everything she is not: stunning, successful and married to an extremely handsome man.

The narrative follows Eleanor as she slowly infiltrates Victoria’s life.

The tension steadily builds, as you know this cannot end well!

Sister Dear is an intense Domestic Drama that kept me glued to the pages. I read this so quickly, I had to discover what would happen to Eleanor.

While definitely a quirky, slight unreliable narrator, I couldn’t help but be drawn in by Eleanor. I found her character to be so interesting.

Far from perfect, there was a lot going on there. Her relationship with her mother, that made me feel for her right from the start.

There were times when I want to reach through the pages, grab her by the shoulders and shake her! Why are you making these choices, Eleanor!?!?

As you race towards the conclusion, everything gets flipped upside down. The plot twist was so fun. I didn’t see it coming!

For me, the end was great. It definitely left me with an evil grin on my face, which is absolutely how I like to wrap-up my dramatic reads!

Thank you so much to the publisher, MIRA, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review, as well as including me in the Blog Tour for the release.

Hannah Mary McKinnon has a new fan in me. I look forward to reading more from her in the future!

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Review: The Earthling’s Brother by Earik Beann

The Earthling's BrotherThe Earthling’s Brother by Earik Beann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It all begins when an attractive naked man stumbles into the hotel where Maria works.

It’s very late at night, and with nothing better to do, she engages him in conversation.

Initially thinking he’s high as a kite, she sets him up with some clothes from the Lost and Found and a place to sleep it off. Her hope is that with time, whatever he has gotten into will wear off.

Unfortunately, when her shift ends, he’s still not making any sense. Maybe he needs food.

She takes him with her to a local diner for breakfast. Deeper into the conversation, she finally realizes this man, who she has christened, Sam, may not be of Earth.

After he heals a local homeless man who has been in a wheelchair for years, unable to walk, and gifted him a toilet made of solid gold, others around them begin to take notice.

It just so happens, Sam’s first miracle is performed directly in front of a police station. Not good.

Their first interactions with the police do not go well.

Maria, an immigrant, who it is clear they do not trust, is unable to get them to listen to her. Sam, well, he quickly gets branded a terrorist and all hell breaks loose.

Sam’s alien brother, Mustafa, who happens to look like a purple octopus, joins Maria and Sam as they flee from federal agents and try to save the world from The Authority, an alien power set on terraforming the planet.

If this plot sounds confusing, I assure you, while you reading it, it is not. It all makes total sense.

Just trying to summarize it is difficult, as it is such a wildly creative story.

My favorite aspect was Mustafa. He was so funny! I love him. Him and Sam definitely brought the humor to the narrative.

My only slight critique is that it felt like the ending was rushed. There was quite a bit of build up and the conclusion happened extremely quickly.

This being said, I did enjoy the content of the actual ending. It was cute, like having a little bow tie it all up.

Beann’s writing is compelling. I find his stories read really fast and they are full of action, humor and heart.

If you are looking for a quick, unique, standalone SciFi read, you should definitely give this book a shot. It’s quite enjoyable!

Thank you so much to the author, Earik Beann, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review.

I appreciate it very much!

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Review: The Institute by Stephen King

The InstituteThe Institute by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m going to need lots and lots of time to pull myself together after this.

I have such a difficult time formulating actual ‘reviews’ of King’s work.

A full review may never come. I have made peace with this.

It’s okay. I accept my right to just fangirl and move on.

One thing I will mention is the phenomenal dynamic between the group of children in this story.

In my opinion, King writes kids so well. Their honesty and way of viewing the world, he always hits that spot on.

A group of children banding together to fight the forces of evil?

It doesn’t get better than that!

Original:


Reads synopsis whilst at work:

RIP Me.
An all new 500+ page book from the KING!!!!

My favorite author.
Released just in time for my birthday.
Comparisons made to Firestarter.

I am overwhelmed with enthusiasm for this!

Release Day Update:

WHERE IS MY COPY!?!?
WHERE IS MY MAIL PERSON!?!?

Final Update:

IT’S HERE!!!!!!!!!!

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Review: The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson

The Apocalypse of Elena MendozaThe Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Elena Mendoza is a miracle, literally.

The product of parthenogenesis, a virgin birth, Elena’ life has been quirky indeed.

As you can imagine, this anomaly made the headlines, making Elena low-key famous.

She does her best to just live her life, ignoring the chatter around her, but it hasn’t always been easy.

Elena has never really fit in and although she has some close relationships, she’s far from one of the popular kids.

When the girl she has been crushing on, Freddie, comes close to losing her life, right in front of Elena’s eyes, she discovers she has the ability to heal. A power she never realized she had.

However, the power comes at a price.

Every time she heals, a random number of people disappear, sucked up by a bright light; raptured, if you will.

Through Elena’s own musings, as well as her conversations with certain inanimate objects, we begin to slowly understand the reality of her situation.

Somehow, she needs to save the world. The future of humanity rests on her young shoulders, or does it?

This was so good. Wildly creative and although the content may seem over the top, there are some incredibly important topics to be found within these pages.

Examining complex relationships, as well as the power of free will and identity, this will definitely stick with me.

There’s no doubt, if you are looking for a queer story to make you think about life and the choices we make, Shaun David Hutchinson is a good way to go.

This was completely unique and stole my heart in an oddly compelling way!

I’m so happy my random number generator selected this book for me to read off of my enormous TBR list.

Who knows how long it would have actually taken me to get to it otherwise!? I really enjoyed my time reading this.

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Review: Murder, She Wrote: The Murder of Twelve by Jessica Fletcher and Jon Land

The Murder of Twelve (Murder She Wrote #51)The Murder of Twelve by Jessica Fletcher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Channeling heavy, And Then There Were None vibes, The Murder of Twelve, the 51st book in the beloved Murder, She Wrote series, brings almost everything I love in a Cozy Mystery to the table.

This was ridiculously good fun and kept me glued to the pages well into the night!

In this installment, we find Jessica Fletcher calling the Hill House Hotel in Cabot Cover her home.

Her house is currently under repairs and she has been making due at the ritzy local hotel.

On the eve of the blizzard of a century, guests begin to check in for a destination wedding weekend.

Jessica has her doubts that the wedding will even be able to happen, what with the massive storm front blowing in. Nonetheless, she ends up befriending some of the guests and even gets invited to attend.

The first night includes the rehearsal dinner and even though the bride and groom have yet to show, the dinner will go on.

Jessica dutifully attends and as with many events she has attended before, an attempted murder occurs.

As the storm rages outside, bodies start dropping as fast as snowflakes and Jessica needs to put her crime solving abilities to the test!

This was an absolute blast to read. As you begin to learn about the guests for the wedding, you just know it is going to be a juicy conclusion. It did not disappoint.

While I could still tell that this wasn’t written by the late and great, Donald Bain, I felt that the new author for the series, Jon Land, is starting to get into a groove with these characters and setting.

Land is an experienced author and I know the more he contributes with this series, the more it will continue to grow with him.

I know that long-time fans of this series will absolutely enjoy this installment.

If you have never read a book in this series, just know, you can start anywhere. These books can be read out of order and this is as good a place to start as any!

Also, if you like a good old-fashioned, locked-room mystery, you should absolutely check this one out.

Bonus points, if you love stories where the characters become stranded somewhere due to inclement weather. Oddly specific, but it is a trope I gravitate towards often!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Publishing, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I have been a fan of this series for decades and will continue to read them as long as they are printed. A special thank you as well, to the author, Jon Land, for continuing on the tradition and investigatory prowess of Ms. Jessica Fletcher!

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Review: Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

Never Have I EverNever Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**2.5-stars rounded up**

Something wicked this way comes…

When Angelica Roux breezes into Amy and Charlotte’s neighborhood Book Club, you would think she belonged there, or at least that she had been invited.

New to the neighborhood, renting a dilapidated house that sees many short-term tenants, Roux is carefree and mysterious.

The other women seem intrigued by Roux’s vivacious personality, but not Amy. She can’t help but wonder what this woman’s angle is. She seems to be intentionally trying to get under her skin.

When Roux proceeds to get the ladies sloshed, minus Charlotte, who is currently pregnant, Amy’s suspicions begin to grow.

Roux gathers them round and suggests they play a drinking game. The game is basically to confess the worst things they’ve ever done. An adult version of ‘never have I ever’. Amy is not playing.

When the party is over, secrets have been spilled that could alter the course of all their lives, but Roux isn’t done.

Turns out, she has dirt on Amy. Real dirt about the worst night of Amy’s life. One she thought was buried forever.

Now Roux has the goods to blackmail Amy for all she’s got.

There’s one problem, Roux has definitely underestimated Amy. The domestic goddess exterior is not the whole of her person and Amy is willing to do anything to protect what is hers.

Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it?

The premise, absolutely is compelling. The writing, however, just didn’t work for me.

I found the dialogue to be wonky and had quite a few eye-roll moments.

Additionally, I felt like the pacing was off. It took a long time for me to get into it and then it would fluctuate between being interesting and being boring for the rest of the book.

The ultimate plot twist was gross. It made me super uncomfortable and yeah, it is just my opinion, but it pretty much ruined the whole book for me.

Basically, I am rounding up because I can admit that for many people this will be a good book. It just wasn’t the book for me.

I want to thank the publisher, William Morrow, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity even though it was a miss for me.

I don’t anticipate picking up further books from the author, but if you think there are other books of hers I would enjoy, let me know!

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Blog Tour: This is How I Lied by Heather Gudenkauf

This is How I LiedThis is How I Lied by Heather Gudenkauf
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

This is how I lied, and this is my truth.

In 1995, 15-year old, Eve Knox was murdered in a cave walking distance from her house.

When she doesn’t arrive home that night, her Mom panics and sends people out looking for her.

Her best friend, Maggie, teams up with Eve’s little sister, Nola, and they ultimately end up finding her body.

Neither girl will ever forget that night.

Twenty-five years later, Maggie, has followed in her Father’s footsteps and is now a detective in her hometown.

Around eight months pregnant, she is currently working desk duty, when new evidence is found related to Eve’s case.

The boot Eve was wearing on the night of her death has been discovered.

The hope is that with new advancements in forensic science, they will be able to extract some DNA that could finally lead to the killer.

The sudden resurgence of interest in the case begins to take its toll on Maggie.

She becomes slightly obsessed with it all over again and starts doing some digging of her own.

The secrets that come to light, it’s a lot. Secrets involving multiple characters.

I had some serious jaw drop moments while reading this.

This is How I Lied is a quick, compelling read.

If you are looking for something to get your mind off real life for a while, look no further. This is it!

I will be honest, there were definitely some elements in this that made me uncomfortable.

Specifically, Nola, Eve’s sister, is a very disturbing character. There are some aspects of her personality that at times, made me want to close this book and never pick it back up again. But I needed to know the truth!

There were also times when I was uncomfortable with Maggie’s pregnancy and the risks she was taking caused some anxiety for me.

As the story unfolds, however, it becomes clear as to why she feels so compelled.

This is a wild story. It is dynamic and engaging.

Oh, the secrets of a small town. You never know what you are going to dig up!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Park Row Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

It was a wicked fun read!

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