Goodreads Monday: Darkest Flame (Dark Kings: Book 1) by Donna Grant

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This is a weekly meme where anyone can choose a random book from their Goodreads TBR and highlight it. Once you choose a book, make sure you link and reference @LaurensPageTurners.


This Week’s Selection

Click on picture to go to Goodreads

Synopsis:

In Darkest Flame by Donna Grant, the Dark Kings have fought for centuries to preserve their dragon magic. But one of the most powerful warriors of his kind will be put to the ultimate test. Is he strong enough to resist his greatest temptations? Or will he be forced to surrender—body and soul?

HER BEAUTY IS A WEAPON.
Denae Lacroix is a beautiful MI5 agent on a deadly mission. Sent to the Scottish Highlands to spy on the mysterious Dreagan Industries, she discovers too late that she’s been set up—as human bait. She is an irresistible lure for a man who has not seen or touched a woman for centuries. He is a man with a destiny—and a desire—that could destroy them both…

HIS PASSION IS A CURSE…
It’s been twelve hundred years since Kellan has walked among humans—and there’s no denying the erotically charged attraction he feels for Denae. But as a Dragon King, he is sworn to protect his secrets. Yet the closer he gets to this smart, ravishing woman, the more her life is in danger. All it takes is one reckless kiss to unleash a flood of desire, the fury of dragons…and the fiercest enemy of all.


I am a huge fan of Donna Grant’s Dark Kings series (as well as her other series set in the same world). But, I started the series in book 12 and I wanted to catch up with everything that was going on. So, I added the previous 11 books to my TBR.

Have you read this book? How did you like it? Let me know!!

A Bridge Between Hearts by Casey Swan

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Publisher:

Date of Publication: September 25th, 2021

Genre: Romance, Contemporary

Purchase Links: Amazon | Kobo

Goodreads Synopsis:

Polly Carmichael has a secret, one shared by her two aunts and all the women of her line, and it means that marriage is not an option for her. Adam Finlay left the vet practice he was working for when cost-cutting led to animals suffering. He would love to open a one-man practice of his own, but all his savings went to his ex-wife in her battle against cancer. He’s still getting over the divorce, and he doesn’t have anything to offer a woman at the moment anyway.

Adam’s sister has set him up in a rental house in the small seaside town of Kauri Bay, not far from the family farm, and he soon notices Polly, the manager of the Beach Front Cafe. Polly knows she can’t get interested in the handsome young vet, she really mustn’t, but her heart flutters every time he’s near her. The two young people find themselves in an impossible situation – or is it? Not when help comes from a completely unexpected source. A clean and wholesome romance, set in an inspirational community.


First Line:

Adam turned the kitten on its back, cradling it against the warmth of his stomach, and ran a practised eye over the little frame.

a bridge between hearts by casey swan

Two things stood out to me when I decided to review A Bridge Between Hearts. One was that this is a romance set almost entirely in New Zealand. I can count on one hand the romances (or other books) that I have read that were set in New Zealand. The other was (once I looked at the Goodreads page) that the author is a man. Yes, a man who writes romance novels. It was those two things that eventually swayed my decision to read and review this book.

A Bridge Between Hearts was a medium-paced book. There was a tiny bit of lag in the middle, but it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book.

This book was a clean romance. There was zero sex or sexual situations. There were a few scenes where Adam stole kisses from Polly, but there was no heat. It was a welcome change of pace from some of the other books that I have read.

I wasn’t a fan of Polly. I understand why she was so reluctant to get involved with Adam. But to base it on the assumption (based on older relatives) and never to get tested? Come on!! She also was so rude to him that I started to wonder if there was something else wrong with her. But I do give her props. She was frank with Adam from the beginning.

I liked Adam, but I did wonder about him chasing Polly. He was a good guy, though. He paid for his ex-wife’s cancer treatments (even though it bankrupted him) and cared about the town. It took him forever, almost the entire book, to decide about staying in Kauri Bay. I figured what was going to happen before the author got around to it.

I do want to warn the plotline does wander a bit. I didn’t have a problem with that since this is supposed to be a series. But some people might not like it.

Also, I want to warn that Polly and Adam’s romance is Instalove. Adam is head over heels for Polly as soon as he sees her. It did take Polly a little longer, but it was still within Instalove range.

The end of A Bridge Between Hearts was cute. I liked how Polly had come around and was enjoying her engagement with Adam. I can’t wait to see if their wedding will be in book 2.

Intertwined: A Biker’s Tale by Andrew Hartman

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Publisher: Self Published

Date of publication: August 1st, 2021

Genre: Young Adult, Coming of Age, Suspense

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads synopsis:

When a young man’s world is turned upside down, some things become clear and others blurred. Jacob Schitz’s plain life in Florida quickly erupts into a series of drastic events as he navigates young adulthood and a bleak future. When the biker gang, The Panteras, enters his life as a third obstacle, he will begin to truly understand himself and the violent world of underground crime as their paths become intertwined.


First Line:

Jacob walked into the room; it was dark. Pitch black, the staircase was hard to walk down.

intertwined: A biker’s tale by Andrew Hartman

I will let you all in on a secret: I love reading biker books, well, mainly romances, but still. I also like to read young adult. So, when I read the blurb for this book, I thought I had hit the jackpot. I was super excited to read it.

Intertwined starts slow, but after a couple of chapters, it morphs into a fast-paced book. There is a slight lag towards the middle of the book, but it didn’t affect my enjoyment of it.

Intertwined had an exciting plotline. Two college kids, out on a bucket list adventure, get mixed up with a biker gang. The biker gang quickly assumes that the kids are out to get them since they keep showing up in the same area. Will the kids be able to outsmart the biker gang? Or will they become their victims?

Like I mentioned above, I enjoy reading books about bikers. Something about that lifestyle intrigues me. The author did a great job of showing the inner workings of a biker gang. Willow came across as a paranoid leader willing to do whatever it takes to protect his gang. That aspect of the book enthralled me.

I wasn’t too sure how to feel about Jacob at first. He came across as too needy. But, as the book went on and I began to understand what he had gone through and what he was going through, I started to like him. He had an inner strength that shone throughout the book. I wish that he was a little more upfront with people about what was going on with him. It would have saved a lot of trouble further on in the book.

There is a lot of violence in Intertwined. I wasn’t surprised at the level of violence, but if you don’t like it, this might not be the book for you.

The end of Intertwined was bittersweet. I was surprised at what happened and what a certain someone did. Talk about a selfless act!! The author also left the book on a cliffhanger, so I will assume that there will be a book 2.

I would recommend Intertwined: A Biker’s Tale for anyone over the age of 21. There is violence, drug use, alcohol use, and language.

WWW Wednesday: November 17th 2021

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by 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?


Personal

After a hectic past two weeks, I am enjoying a quiet week. Only one appointment and plenty of time to sit on the couch and relax while the kids are at school – well minus the housework and laundry.

Miss B has learned her lesson with her retainers and is wearing them every night. What might help is that I watch her put them in and take them out in the morning…lol. She had her pre-ACT’s (like SAT’s) yesterday and thinks that she did well in everything except math.

Mr. Z had an accident that broke the charger for his Chromebook (he needs it for school and homework). He dropped the Chromebook while it was charging and it snapped the charger off (thankfully, it didn’t harm the Chromebook). He got a new one from school and we are out $37…pfft.

Miss R has been having some issues with a girl in her class. It is borderline bullying and I am keeping an eye on it. The girl told a couple of other girls not to talk to Miss R and to mock her if she came near them. I told Miss R that she needs to leave them alone but she wants to be friends with them. If it escalates, then I will talk to her teacher. Thankfully, Miss R is very open about what happens at school and tells me everything.

I have finished my Thanksgiving shopping (yay)!!! All I need to get are apples, potatoes, and asparagus. We are having ham and turkey breast, potatoes, asparagus, stuffing, and for dessert: apple pie, pumpkin pie, and a couple of store-bought pies.

I have also finished my Christmas shopping. All I need to get is stocking stuffers and I am done. Of course, if I see any last-minute gifts, I am picking them up.

Reading/Blog

I have really amped up my reading over the past week. I have finished maybe 3 books since Friday and I have written the reviews for them.

Nothing new with the blog. I still need to update posts. I plan on doing that soon.


What I Recently Finished Reading:

What if surviving a murder attempt, a heartbreak, and the loss of the family business wasn’t the hardest thing you ever faced?

Carol is the sole heir to a broken empire, Ricardo the newest celebrity in the rock world.
When they came together, their fire blazed. When their past caught up, they were left burned, scorched to the ground.


When a psychopath decides its payback time, Carol is faced with an impossible choice – save her son or sell her life.

Ricardo wants nothing to do with the woman who played him for a fool but finds himself moored by circumstances, half-truths, and memories of the past.
They say time can heal anything. So far, time’s brought nothing but complications.

This is a standalone romantic thriller told in alternating timelines and points of view. Warnings include character overdose and mentions of child abuse.

I just finished this book last night and oh my goodness, was it good!! I couldn’t put it down and stayed up past my bedtime to finish it. My review won’t be live until December 21st, so look for it then


What I am currently reading:

Polly Carmichael has a secret, one shared by her two aunts and all the women of her line, and it means that marriage is not an option for her. Adam Finlay left the vet practice he was working for when cost cutting led to animals suffering. He would love to open a one-man practice of his own, but all his savings went to his ex wife in her battle against cancer. He’s still getting over the divorce, and he doesn’t have anything to offer a woman at the moment anyway.
Adam’s sister has set him up in a rental house in the small seaside town of Kauri Bay, not far from the family farm, and he soon notices Polly, the manager of the Beach Front Cafe. Polly knows she can’t get interested in the handsome young vet, she really mustn’t, but her heart flutters every time he’s near her. The two young people find themselves in an impossible situation – or is it? Not when help comes from a completely unexpected source. A clean and wholesome romance, set in an inspirational community.

I haven’t technically started this book yet but I plan on starting it today. I am looking forward to it. I haven’t read too many romances based in New Zealand. Plus, from the blurb, it seems like it is going to be a nice, easy read.


What books I think I’ll read next:

I still have a ton of books on this list. I added all of the NetGalley books that are past their publication date and it expanded the list. Like last week, I am hoping to read at least 3 of them before next week’s WWW Wednesday. The 3 books after Storms have been on my TBR for months and they are my top priority.

I once thought I might kill a prince. In another glance, I thought I would marry him. But then came a day I never expected.

The day I would kill a god.

When Arianna freed the soul of the prince from a dark god and shattered the underworld, she assumed she could bring peace to the world above. But there are consequences to the powers she gained and a war brewing between the provinces that will require all her magic and heart.

To master her gifts and save her home, Ari climbs to the top of Olympus and fights a war with gods on either side.
Who is the man who holds her heart?

After playing Robin Hood for months, Marian is starting to wonder how well she knows Robin of Locksley. Her husband could just be depressed, returning from a war that should have claimed his life. He could just be adjusting to their new life in the forest. Marian wants to be patient, but after surrendering Locksley to the sheriff and his men, the villages need Robin Hood more than ever.

When a fight for a king’s ransom costs much more than gold, everything boils to the surface. How can Marian continue to take the name or even stay married to a man she now despises?

And who will wear the hood in the end?

If you like inspirational heroines, unique love stories, and non-stop twists and turns, this action-packed fantasy retelling is for you.

MARIAN’S MAN is the direct sequel to Robin’s Hood, a gender-bent twist on the legends of Sherwood.
Get ready for the final installment of the Faerie Files Trilogy!

I can’t believe Logan’s been my partner for over a year. Actually, he’s been more than that for half as long.
I know he’ll always have my back.


But when a routine monster eviction goes horribly wrong, he’s furious that I didn’t run when I had the chance.
What’s his deal? The way I see it, the FBI didn’t hire me to run away.


They hired me to get the job done.

Plus, I’m not the type to run from anything. I did it once when I was a kid and I’ve regretted it to this very day.
I suppose that explains why I’m taking this latest case so personally.

Funny how some things come around full circle…especially when you least expect it.

*´¨)
¸.*´ ¸.**´¨)¸.**¨
(¸.*´ (¸.*` The Faerie Files is purrr-fect for readers who enjoy enemies to lovers, friends to lovers, or forbidden romance. And cats. If you’re not a cat person, you WILL be after reading this series! Ideal for fans of Annette Marie, McKenzie Hunter, Deborah Wilde, Helen Harper, and Shannon Mayer
.
It’s not every day an obscure orphan girl becomes a fae queen.

Crysta and her companions have found the diadem and stone, but just when it looks like the tide has finally shifted in their favor, Crysta is sucked into Terise’s sleeping curse with no way of escape and nowhere to hide from Titania’s ruthless attacks.

And now she is permanently bonded…to the wrong fated mate.

Jareth is not only heartbroken at the loss of his fated mate bond, his mating frenzy is in overdrive, preventing him from functioning. He and Kheelan must overcome their differences if they hope to free Crysta, but they are faced with more setbacks as Titania takes faerie captives by the hundreds, building her army and growing her powers.

And the diadem, the key to Moridan and Titania’s undoing?


Tainted by Titania’s curse.

But a cursed relic isn’t the only surprise the wicked queen has in store for Crysta. The battle for control over the minds and hearts of the fae is one Titania intends to win by any means necessary.

Can Crysta and Jareth unite the Unseelie and Seelie Courts before Titania and Moridan destroy the Fae Realm?
A college student reluctantly attends a family chili cookout that turns into a never-ending nightmare. A man desperate for job skills uses a brain implant to help him learn, but it malfunctions and leaves him sexually attracted to shadows. A private investigator is hired to discover who keeps befouling the walls of convenience store bathrooms. Two deer engaged in combat find that they are unable to unlock from one another’s antlers after the fight is over. A single mother spends 2020 battling an evil landlord, a fascist neighbor, national political chaos, and a global pandemic. These are the strange stories told by regulars at the local bar on Christmas Eve, stories which each began with a phone call from someone who announced “you don’t know me, but we’re cousins.”
A small Wisconsin town is shaken to its core when four high school boys stumble upon an unexpected discovery. As past and present secrets are exposed, more unsolved mysteries are revealed, leading to more danger than anyone could have ever imagined.
A young woman takes a job as a nanny for an impossibly wealthy family, thinking she’s found her entre into a better life–only to discover instead she’s walked into a world of deception and dark secrets.

Nanny needed. Discretion is of the utmost importance. Special conditions apply.

When Sarah Larsen finds the notice, posted on creamy card stock in her building’s lobby, one glance at the exclusive address tells her she’s found her ticket out of a dead-end job–and life.

At the interview, the job seems like a dream come true: a glamorous penthouse apartment on the Upper West Side of NYC; a salary that adds several zeroes to her current income; the beautiful, worldly mother of her charge, who feels more like a friend than a potential boss. She’s overjoyed when they offer her the position and signs the NDA without a second thought.

In retrospect, the notice in her lobby was less an engraved invitation than a waving red flag. For there is something very strange about the Bird family. Why does the beautiful Mrs. Bird never leave the apartment alone? And what happened to the nanny before her? It soon becomes clear that the Birds’ odd behaviors are more than the eccentricities of the wealthy.

But by then it’s too late for Sarah to seek help. After all, discretion is of the utmost importance.
The most wonderful time of the year has arrived for this cowboy in New York Times bestseller Donna Grant’s newest novel, Home for a Cowboy Christmas.

Tis the season—for everyone except Emmy Garrett. She’s on the run after witnessing a crime. But when it becomes clear that trouble will continue following her, the US Marshal in charge takes her somewhere no one will think to look–Montana. Not only is Emmy in a new place for her protection, but now, she’s stuck with a handsome cowboy as her bodyguard…and she wants to do more than kiss him under the mistletoe.

Dwight Reynolds left behind his old career, but it’s still in his blood. When an old friend calls in a favor, Dwight opens his home to a woman on the run. He tries to keep his distance, but there’s something about Emmy he can’t resist. She stokes his passion and turns his cold nights into warm ones. When danger shows up looking for Emmy, Dwight risks everything to keep her safe.
Layla Hilding is thirty-five and recently divorced. Struggling to break free from the past—her glory days as the lead singer in a band and a ten-year marriage to a man who never put her first—Layla’s newly found independence feels a lot like loneliness.

Then there’s Josh, the single dad whose daughter attends the elementary school where Layla teaches music. Recently separated, he’s still processing the end of his twenty-year marriage to his high school sweetheart. He chats with Layla every morning at school and finds himself thinking about her more and more.

Equally cautious and confused about dating in a world that favors apps over meeting organically, Layla and Josh decide to be friends with the potential for something more. Sounds sensible and way too simple—but when two people are on the rebound, is it heartbreak or happiness that’s a love song away?

From the bestselling author of The Girl He Used to Know comes a love song of a story about starting over and second chances.
In The First Christmas, Stephen Mitchell brings the Nativity story to vivid life as never before. A narrative that is only sketched out in two Gospels becomes fully realized here with nuanced characters and a setting that reflects the culture of the time. Mitchell has suffused the birth of Jesus with a sense of beauty that will delight and astonish readers.

In this version, we see the world through the eyes of a Whitmanesque ox and a visionary donkey, starry-eyed shepherds and Zen-like wise men, each of them providing a unique perspective on a scene that is, in Western culture, the central symbol for good tidings of great joy. Rather than superimposing later Christian concepts onto the Annunciation and Nativity scenes, he imagines Mary and Joseph experiencing the angelic message as a young Jewish woman and man living in the year 4 bce might have experienced it, with terror, dismay, and ultimate acceptance. In this context, their yes becomes an act of great moral courage.

Readers of every background will be enchanted by this startlingly beautiful reimagining of the Christmas tale.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books to Read if You Love Fairy Tales

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

How it works:

She assigns each Tuesday a topic and then posts her top ten list that fits that topic. You’re more than welcome to join her and create your own top ten (or 2, 5, 20, etc.) list as well. Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you! Please link back to That Artsy Reader Girl in your own post so that others know where to find more information.


Everyone loves fairytales (I know I do). So, if you are in the mood for a good fairytale retelling, look up these books!!

Let me know if you have read any of these and what you thought of them. This will be a mix of books I have read and want to read (I will let you know)


1. Cinder by Marissa Meyer (read but didn’t finish)

2. Snow White, Blood Red by Ellen Datlow (want to read)

3. UnEnchanted by Chanda Hahn (Read this)

4. A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan (on my TBR)

5. The Bride and the Beast by Teresa Medeiros (Read)

6. Black Thorn, White Rose by Ellen Datlow (on my TBR)

7 Black Heart, Ivory Bones by Ellen Datlow (on my TBR)

8. Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears by Ellen Datlow (on my TBR)

9. Black Swan, White Raven by Ellen Datlow (on my TBR)

10. Silver Birch, Blood Moon by Ellen Datlow (on my TBR)

Transylvania’s History A to Z: 100 Word Stories by Patricia Furstenberg

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Publisher:

Date of publication: August 23rd, 2021

Genre: Nonfiction, Educational

Goodreads Synopsis:

In Transylvania’s History A to Z, a collection of 100-word stories sprinkled with breathtaking photographs, Patricia Furstenberg uses the confining rules of the 100-word story form to stirringly capture Transylvania, Romania’s historical and geographical region.

Transylvania’s unspoiled natural beauty, its tumultuous history, and the people who touched it are depicted in this book.
Written as snapshots, tall tales, and descriptive narratives, these 100-word stories are the espresso of creative writing.

A – Z, 100-Wors Stories are inspired by Transylvania’s history, from the Paleolithic Period to WW1
Each 100 Words Story is followed by a brief historical reference

The unique beauty of a 100-word story is in the way the words are strung together, each one a gem, and in the spaces left between the words, and between the sentences. So much can be told, with little words. It is a challenge for the writer, and a thrill for the reader, as each time the tale is read, a new detail springs to mind.

“As an armchair historian, I love researching lost tales, traveling, exploring hidden corners, and unearthing new facts, forgotten characters, or hidden clues. I love to give them a voice and to bring them into the light in my tales. Be it people, animals, or the land and its architecture, no detail is too small, no voice is too soft. What was once overlooked now brings history alive in my historical or contemporary fiction books and short stories, such as the 100-Word Stories based on the history of Transylvania.” (Patricia Furstenberg)


First Line:

In the meager light of a barren winter afternoon, a man slid between icy cliffs.

transylvania’s history a to z: 100 word stories by patricia furstenberg

I do not usually read anthologies or nonfiction books for review. I find them hard to review and feel like I am leaving something out. But, when the author approached me to read and review Transylvania’s History A to Z: 100 Word Stories, the book caught my interest and curiosity. I am glad that I decided to read and review this book.

I enjoyed reading this book. It was a relatively short book (just over 100 pages). There are beautiful pictures that accompany each story. I am fortunate to have a Kindle Oasis and could see the images (even though they were in black and white).

I also learned quite a bit about Transylvania’s history. Now, I am going to admit that I know next to nothing about Transylvania. My knowledge is vampires, Dracula, Vlad the Impaler, and the Carpathian Mountains. So it was very refreshing to learn something new about this country.

I didn’t have a favorite short story because I liked them all equally. I know it sounds like a cop-out, but I honestly did enjoy everything put into the book.

I would recommend Transylvania’s History A to Z: 100 Word Stories to anyone over the age of 13. There is no language, but there are mentions of violent events.

Goodreads Monday: The Unexpected Duchess (Playful Brides: Book 1) by Valerie Bowman

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This is a weekly meme where anyone can choose a random book from their Goodreads TBR and highlight it. Once you choose a book, make sure you link and reference @LaurensPageTurners.


This week’s selection:

Click on picture to go to Goodreads

Synopsis:

Is there any greater surprise than falling deeply, madly in love?

In This Battle of Wits

Lady Lucy Upton’s tongue may be too sharp to attract suitors but her heart is good, and when her painfully shy friend Cassandra needs help she devises a brilliant scheme to help her discourage an unwanted suitor, the Duke of Claringdon. Lucy will hide behind the hedgerow and tell Cass just what to say to discourage the duke…but it turns out that he’s made of sterner stuff than either of them anticipated. And Lucy is shocked to discover that tangling with the tenacious man is the most fun she’s had in ages.

Kisses Are the Best Weapon

Lord Derek Hunt made a promise to his dying friend to marry the demure Cassandra, and for a man who wants nothing more than peace and quiet after the horrors of war, she’ll make the perfect bride. If only the impudent Miss Upton will let him court the girl! Doing battle is the last thing on his mind, but bantering with Lucy behind the bushes is too tempting to resist. And the spoils of this war just may be true love…

Lies in Bone by Natalie Symons

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Publisher: Boyle & Dalton

Date of publication: September 6th 2021

Genre: Coming of Age, Suspense

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

Told by a tart-tongued young woman with a love of Bruce Springsteen, Lies in Bone is at once a mystery and coming-of-age tale fueled by dark secrets involving love, murder, and the truths worth lying for.

On Halloween 1963, eleven-year-old Chuck Coolidge and his brother Danny are lost in a toxic smog covering the steel town of Slippery Elm, Pennsylvania. When the smog lifts, half the town is sick and twenty people are dead. And Danny is missing.

Now, over twenty years later, Chuck’s teenage daughter Frank plots escape from this “busted and disgusted” town. When a murdered child is found in the river, investigators link the crime to the disappearance of Danny in ’63, and Frank’s life is turned upside down. In the face of her worst fears, she must uncover her family’s dark past if she wants to keep her sister Boots from the hands of The State. Led to discover the unimaginable truth about Danny’s disappearance, Lies in Bone culminates in a shocking eleventh-hour reveal and an emotionally charged finale.


First Line:

The fog snuck in over the wooded road, but Chuck didn’t care.

lies in bones by natalie symons

Lies in Bone is the story of Frank, her father Chuck, and Boots, her younger sister. Frank hasn’t had it easy growing up. Her mother left and never returned. Chuck compensated by becoming a drunk and indulging in get-rich-quick schemes. One day, Chuck decides to move everyone to his hometown to move in with his mother. Once there, Frank discovers that her father has a past, and it isn’t good. He is suspected of being involved in his younger brother’s disappearance 20 years earlier and the murder of another boy that same night. Frank brushes off the rumors as just that until another child is murdered and her father is arrested. Determined to prove her father’s innocence, Frank investigates. What she finds out will shatter her world. What does Frank find out? Is her father innocent?

I loved Frank. She was blunt, not afraid to tell people how she felt, and she was like a bulldog when she got an idea in her head. She also was very hurt over her mother’s abandonment. I connected to her on so many levels and was rooting for her the entire book. She wasn’t an easy character to like, but she acknowledged that.

The mystery angle of Lies in Bone was very well written. The author kept me guessing about what happened to Danny, the other little boy, and Bernie. She threw out red herrings left and right. I usually can figure out what happened pretty early in the book. But in this case, I was left guessing until the very end.

There are several significant twists in Lies in Bone. The first one did take me by surprise. There was no way that I would have even thought THAT happened. The second one, which was revealed relatively close to the end, was also just as shocking. I felt terrible for Frank when she found that out. And the third twist, well, that came out of the left field. It was revealed at the end of the book, and it turned everything on end.

I was not a huge fan of many of the secondary characters in Lies in Bone. The main subject of my dislike was Ruth, Frank’s grandmother. I couldn’t stand her. The way that she talked to Chuck was awful, and I didn’t blame Chuck for what he did.

The end of Lies in Bone was bittersweet. The author did a great job wrapping up the storylines and making a somewhat happy ending for Frank. But then the twist happened and poor Frank. She forever has to carry the burden of her family on her shoulders, and man, what she learned was catastrophic.

I would recommend Lies in Bone for anyone over the age of 21. There is violence and sex but no sex.

Sigiriya: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, Betrayal, and Tragedy in the Royal Court by Senani Ponnamperuma

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Publisher:

Date of Publication: July 16th 2019

Genre: Asian Literature, Historical Asian Literature, Ancient Historical Fiction

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

Kasyapa is the bastard child of a king and a village girl. On his mother’s untimely death, he is plucked from his tiny village and brought to the royal palace. Shunned by his father, the king, this lonely little boy is raised by royal courtiers. As an adult, he is sidelined, but fate intervenes. The villainous Migara, the chief of the army and Kasyapa’s nemesis, murders the king and implicates Kasyapa in this hideous crime. Even though his lowly birth denies him the right to the throne, Kasyapa must act to save the kingdom. What events unfold next that drives him to build Sigiriya and rule as a god-king?

This is also the story of Amira, a beautiful red-haired, blue-eyed girl, who is only twelve years old when her father sells her into slavery. At eighteen, she is traded for a hundred pearls and joins Kasyapa’s harem. Here, she is transformed into an alluring concubine. Amira soon infatuates the king with her stunning beauty, wide-eyed innocence, and good heart.

Set fifteen hundred years ago and based on real people and events, Sigiriya is a hauntingly beautiful story of palace intrigue, passion, deceit, betrayal, and tragedy. It reminds us that little has changed over the centuries. Good and evil, love and hate, decency and cruelty are ever-present. But some, by the sheer strength of character and determination, rise above their stations and do great things.


First Line:

Kasyapa remembered little of that day. When they covered his mother with a linen shroud, placed her on a funeral pyre, and set her aflame.

Sigiriya: the epic story of love, loss, betrayal, and tragedy in the royal court by senani ponnamperuma

When I read the blurb for Sigiriya, I was a little hesitant to read it. I am not very familiar with West Asian literature, history, and religion. But I am a big believer in experiencing (and in this case: reading) things that are out of my comfort zone. I am so glad that I decided to read Sigiriya!! It was a compelling and exciting look at Kasyapa and his legacy.

Sigiriya is a story based on Kasyapa, a Sri Lankan king who existed almost 2000 years ago. This book follows Kasyapa from the age of five to his death by suicide during a battle. It was a fascinating story that intrigued me from page one.

The storyline was medium-paced, and it worked perfectly for the book. If it had been fast-paced, I would have missed out on some of the small details that the author wove into the book.

I liked Kasyapa. He went through so much when he was a child (losing his mother, being raised by his father’s servants), and it shaped him into the man, and eventually, the king that he was meant to be. I did think he was a little nuts to keep Migara around, but the author did keep with historical accounts.

Speaking of Migara, I couldn’t stand him. He left a bad taste in my mouth every time he appeared in the book. There was a point in the book where I had to put it down because I couldn’t believe that Kasyapa kept him as head of the Army. He ranks up there as one of my most unpopular secondary characters.

I was a little put off by Amira being a concubine at 12 and Kasyapa summoning her to his bed-chamber. Now, I understand that it was commonplace for children of her age to marry or be used as concubines but still. I also couldn’t quite place where she came from. She had red hair, white skin, and blue eyes….so I was thinking Russia?

I do want to warn you that there are several scenes of graphic violence throughout the book. I was a little disgusted by the chamberlain’s execution. He was impaled through his rectum and then gutted. I was squirming in my bed when I read that scene.

The end of Sigiriya was not a happy ending. I was expecting that. I did feel that it did justice to Kasyapa’s rule. I did find fault with what happened to the harem, though. I couldn’t believe what was done to them and what they were forced to do!!!!

I would recommend Sigiriya to anyone over the age of 21. There is no sex but there is violence.

The Judas Robe by Larry Rodness

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Publisher: Moonshine Cover

Date of publication: October 21st 2020

Genre: Historical Thriller, Metaphysical Fantasy, Paranormal Suspense

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Abebooks

Goodreads Synopsis:

During the height of the Spanish Inquisition, a ruthless inquisitor by the name of Bishop Roberto Promane tortures a fellow priest, Father Sanchez, for information about the whereabouts of a relic known as The Judas Robe. The robe holds the key to some highly sensitive secrets about Jesus that Pope Sixtus does not want to be revealed. Promane succeeds in uncovering the robe only to lose it to Sanchez’s rescuers, the knights of The Order Of Christ.

Present Day
Joel Gardiner, a pre-med student, is attacked one night by thugs after leaving a campus pub. A young woman named Sophia rescues him and reveals that Joel’s mother, Natalie, is descended from the Order Of Christ, the faction that has kept the robe hidden for centuries. These thugs are part of a conspiracy group led by
Bishop Newman who seeks the robe in order to uncover a secret held for centuries.

While trying to evade the conspirators Joel and his girlfriend, Lisa, begin to research the matter. The ‘Judas Robe’ that Bishop Newman currently seeks is the key to the revelation, that of discovered, will shake the foundations of Christianity.


First Line:

“Bishop, scripture teaches that God is beyond the physical reach of this world,” Father Sanchez said.

the judas robe by larry rodness

When I was first approached to read and review The Judas Robe, I almost turned it down. I didn’t think that I would enjoy reading the book because of the blurb. But something made me pause and rethink my decision. I ultimately decided that I would read The Judas Robe. Why? I am fascinated by books like this. I have read (and loved) Dan Brown’s books and figured this one would be very similar. It wasn’t. But, instead, I got an exciting thriller that kept me on my toes while reading.

The Judas Robe had an exciting plotline. Starting in Spain, during the Inquisition, the first few chapters lay out what the Judas Robe is and what happened to the four people who were in contact with it. It goes to the present day, where Joel goes to school for pre-med and works at a research facility. He is jumped one night while going to a party and is saved by a young woman. In the days afterward, Joel finds out about the robe. He also discovers that his religious fanatic mother is descended from an order sworn to hide it. That puts him and his mother in the crosshairs of a group led by Bishop Newman, a close friend and confidant to Joel’s mother. A series of events sets Joel, his mother, his girlfriend, a priest, and the young woman who saved Joel on a quest to find out where the robe is hidden and retrieve it. But Bishop Newman and his fanatics are right there with him. What is so important about this robe? Why does Bishop Newman want it? Will Joel find it, and what will he do about it?

The Judas Robe does start somewhat slowly. But I did appreciate that. The author chose to build up the background of Bishop Newman, Father Sanchez, Sophia, and Belle (as well as The Judas Robe) instead of throwing us right into the story. Once the author switches to Joel and the present day, the book picks up its pacing.

There was some lag in the storyline towards the middle of the book. I felt that the time that Joel and his friends spent in the underground lab was stretched out. It didn’t affect the book, but I thought that it was too long. Plus, I wasn’t a fan of how it ended. It was almost too easy for the Bishop to get in and get at them.

The characters were well written and fleshed out. But they didn’t all sit right with me. I wasn’t a fan of Lisa, Natalie, and, of all people, Joel. But my personal feelings didn’t affect how I viewed the book.

The storyline with the Judas Robe and the race to find it fascinated me. But I felt that it kept getting interrupted by Joel and Natalie’s very strained relationship. Once the robe was found, though, the storyline did take an interesting turn. But I felt that again, it was overshadowed by all the drama going on with the group.

There are several scenes of orgies and violence by Bishop Newman’s followers. I would have loved to know what substance they were taking to get that way. It was brought up towards the end, but that was it. No other mention of it.

There is sex in The Judas Robe. I turned the page (well swiped because I was reading it on my Kindle) and was hit with an orgy scene (see above). None of it was graphic, but I was surprised that it was even in the book.

There were a couple of twists in the plot that I didn’t see coming. The major one was revealed at the end and made me go, “What the heck?!?” when I read it. The other one was hinted at until Father Sanchez came right out and said it to Natalie and Joel.

The end of The Judas Robe was interesting. I liked how the author resolved everything and how he revealed the twist that I mentioned above. I also liked that he left me wondering if there was going to be another book.

I would recommend The Judas Robe to anyone over the age of 21. There is sex, violence, and language.

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