Goodreads Monday: Boy in the Mirror (The Infinity Trials: Book 1) by Robert J. Duperre

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This is a weekly meme where anyone can choose a random book from their Goodreads TBR and highlight it This meme was formerly featured on LaurensPageTurners and was taken over by Budget Tales Book Blog.


This Week’s Selection

Synopsis:

Fifteen-year-old Jacqueline Talbot’s boyfriend Mal lives in the mirror of her makeup case. There’s never been anything normal about Jacqueline; not during her time in foster care, and certainly not in her new hometown of Mercy Hills.

With rumors of actual monsters in the woods, the popular kids taking an unhealthy interest in her, and the revealing of her own dark past, all Jacqueline wants to do is run away forever with Mal. Too bad he’s trapped in the mirror.

But when she learns the ancient forces of the town want to destroy everything she loves, the race is on to free the boy in the mirror, because he just might be the only one who knows how to stop them.

PUBLISHER’S NOTE: This book was originally released under the title, “The Mirror of Souls.”

WWW Wednesday: June 22nd, 2022

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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:

Here’s what has gone on since last week’s WWW Wednesday:

  • Actually, nothing too much happened over the past week. Well, nothing worth talking about.

So that’s the major things for this past week. How was your week?

As always, let me know if you have read or are planning to read any of these books!!


What I Recently Finished Reading:

A reality star and a cupcake-baking football player pretend to be a couple in order to save his bakery in this sweet and sexy romance from Jamie Wesley, Fake It Till You Bake It.

Jada Townsend-Matthews is the most reviled woman in America after turning down a proposal on a reality dating show. When she comes home to lick her wounds, Jada finds herself working at San Diego’s newest cupcake bakery, Sugar Blitz, alongside the uptight owner and professional football player Donovan Dell.

When a reporter mistakenly believes Jada and Donovan are an item, they realize they can use the misunderstanding to their advantage to help the struggling bakery and rehabilitate Jada’s image. Faking a relationship should be simple, but sometimes love is the most unexpected ingredient.

Fake it Till You Bake It is a sweet confection of a novel, the perfect story to curl up with and enjoy with a cupcake on the side.

What I am currently reading:

A god wages war—using all of humanity as its pawns—in the unforgettable conclusion to the Founders trilogy.

Sancia, Clef, and Berenice have gone up against plenty of long odds in the past. But the war they’re fighting now is one even they can’t win.

This time, they’re not facing robber-baron elites, or even an immortal hierophant, but an entity whose intelligence is spread over half the globe—a ghost in the machine that uses the magic of scriving to possess and control not just objects, but human minds.


To fight it, they’ve used scriving technology to transform themselves and their allies into an army—a society—that’s like nothing humanity has seen before. With its strength at their backs, they’ve freed a handful of their enemy’s hosts from servitude, even brought down some of its fearsome, reality-altering dreadnaughts. Yet despite their efforts, their enemy marches on—implacable. Unstoppable.

Now, as their opponent closes in on its true prize—an ancient doorway, long buried, that leads to the chambers at the center of creation itself—Sancia and her friends glimpse a chance at reaching it first, and with it, a last desperate opportunity to stop this unbeatable foe. But to do so, they’ll have to unlock the centuries-old mystery of scriving’s origins, embark on a desperate mission into the heart of their enemy’s power, and pull off the most daring heist they’ve ever attempted.

And as if that weren’t enough, their adversary might just have a spy in their ranks—and a last trick up its sleeve.

What books I think I’ll read next:

Two girls went into the woods. Only one came back. . . .

Detective Chief Inspector Jonah Sheens is on the trail in this explosive crime novel from the acclaimed author of She Lies in WaitWatching from the Dark, and Lie Beside Me

Jonah Sheens is enjoying a moment of peace in a pub garden on his day off when a teenage girl wanders out of the woods. She’s striking, with flame-red hair and a pale complexion. She’s also covered in blood.

When Jonah races to help, the girl insists she’s fine. Then she smiles. It’s her sister he needs to worry about. Keely and her sister, Nina, disappeared from a children’s home a week ago. Now Keely is here–but Nina’s still missing. Jonah is sure Keely knows where her sister is–but before she tells him anything, she insists, he has to listen to her story from the beginning.

Is she witness, victim, or killer? And if Jonah follows the trail of clues in her story, will they lead him to the missing girl–or distract him until it’s too late?
The discovery of a missing Amish bishop’s remains leads chief of police Kate Burkholder to unearth a chilling secret in The Hidden One, a new thriller from bestselling author Linda Castillo…
You want to walk away from the things that were bad for you and never look back.

That’s what Corinne Callahan wants.


Cast out of the fundamentalist church she was raised in and cut off from her family, Corinne builds a new life for herself. A good one. But she never stops missing the life—and the love— she’s left behind.

It’s Enoch Miller who ruins everything for her. It was always Enoch Miller. She’ll never get him out from under her skin.

Set over fifteen years and told with astonishing intimacy, Rebecca Morrow’s Corinne is the story of a woman who risks everything she’s built for the one man she can never have.
The sleepy little farm that Laurel Early grew up on has awakened. The woods are shifting, the soil is dead under her hands, and her bone pile just stood up and walked away.

After dropping out of college, all she wanted was to resume her life as a tobacco hand and taxidermist and try not to think about the boy she can’t help but love. Instead, a devil from her past has returned to court her, as he did her late mother years earlier. Now, Laurel must unravel her mother’s terrifying legacy and tap into her own innate magic before her future and the fate of everyone she loves is doomed.

Shadowed Origins (The Guardians: Book 2) by Reily Garrett

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Publisher:

Date of publication: June 3rd, 2022

Genre: Romance, Suspense, Fantasy

Series: The Guardians

Shadowed Horizons—Book 1 (review here)

Shadowed Origins—Book 2

Shadowed Passages—Book 3

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

Ashlyn has spent years hiding her ability to connect with animals, especially dogs. After escaping the clutches of her guardian, she’s determined to remain free and bring the psychopath to his knees.
The terrorist’s plan for mass annihilation and anarchy requires her talent, and he will stop at nothing to reclaim his unique and invaluable prize.
Taylor’s telekinesis and special-ops training granted him seamless passage to work with Kenner’s paranormal unit. When he rescues a young woman from the clutches of her sadistic guardian, he’s unprepared for the emotional backlash created by their connection.
Forging ahead on the narrow path of freedom dictates keeping an eye on the rearview—for death and destruction dog their every mile.


First Line:

Ashlyn never considered the face of evil taking a physical form, with a fist to match.

Shadowed Origins by Reily Garrett

I have been looking forward to reading Shadowed Origins since I finished Shadowed Horizons. I had questions from the first book that I hoped would be answered in this one. And guess what, the author answered all of my questions. The author left me with questions about Ashlyn and Keira’s older brother. But he is the focus of book three, and I am sure the author will answer those questions for me in that book.

Shadowed Origins is the second book in The Guardians series. This book is not stand-alone. You need to read book 1 to understand what is happening in book 2.

Before I get into the review, I want to throw up a trigger warning. If you have been following my blog for a while, then you know how rare it is for me to do this. The main character, Ashlyn, has been abused (in all ways except sexual) by her captor, Roth. The author includes some scenes of the verbal, psychological, and physical abuse that Ashlyn has endured. So, if this triggers you, I strongly suggest not reading Shadowed Origins.

Shadowed Origins is Ashlyn’s story. Ashlyn has been held captive by Roth for her entire life. She has spent most of her captivity trying to escape Roth, but he has always caught her. Ashlyn had her next escape planned out, and it would have ended the same way except, this time, Ashlyn had help. She was aided by a group of men with similar powers that she and Roth possessed. Ashlyn discovers her powers (she can communicate with animals) and uses that power to protect herself against Roth’s numerous attempts to take her back. She also discovers that she has an identical twin sister who shares the same powers, and she realizes that she is falling in love with Taylor, an ex-special forces op who is also telekinetic. Will Roth succeed in taking back Ashlyn? Will she be able to meet her sister? Will she find out who is funding Roth?

I liked Ashlyn. Even though Roth abused her, she still had an optimistic view of life. She tried to find ways to escape him, and she resisted him in almost every way—which caused Roth to lash out. I thought that her plan to escape him out the bathroom window would fail (Roth had given her a sedative to keep her compliant). So, I was surprised when it didn’t fail and when Taylor and his group came to her aid. From then on, I enjoyed watching her character grow to become a young woman with confidence in her abilities. She was also able to see what/form healthy relationships look like and was instrumental in bringing the two groups together. I also loved her delight when she discovered that she had an identical twin sister and her nervousness about meeting her (Keira was an unknown and in a group that Kenner, the leader, thought was the enemy). She was a fantastic character to read, and I can’t wait to see more of her in the upcoming books.

I liked Taylor also. The author didn’t make him as fleshed out as Ashlyn, but he was still a fascinating character. He did not want a relationship because the death of his wife did affect him. But he was very attracted to Ashlyn, and he was also very protective. I liked seeing him slowly realize his feelings for Ashlyn. I also liked seeing him use his powers. His telekinesis was no joke. It was also satisfying to see him eat a bit of crow when his group finally met the other group. He was a little aggressive with that group.

Roth was one evil dude. The author didn’t get into his character in Shadowed Horizons, but in this book, she let loose with him. He was a true psychopath who enjoyed hurting people. He kept human eyes in glass jars in his office, and that grossed me out. But, there was a huge twist in his plotline that I didn’t see coming and I hope gets explained more in book 3. I did feel that he got what he deserved in the end, and I loved who gave it to him!!

The plotlines involving Roth and both groups were well written. I liked how the author finally had both groups meet after so many misconceptions about each other. I also liked how they teamed up to beat Roth and his people.

The end of Shadowed Origins was pretty awesome. I liked how the author wrapped up Ashlyn and Kiera’s storylines. She introduced Logan, Ashlyn and Kiera’s older brother, at the very end of the book (well, the concept of him), so I figure the next book will be about him. She also left the plotline for who Roth was working for, and I am very interested to see where that will end up.

In the Midst of Magic by Christian Cura

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Publisher:

Date of publication: May 25th, 2022

Genre: Fantasy, LGBT

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

Meet Kara Hartman, a photojournalist who is hiding her magic from the world. Traumatized by her brother’s death, she wants nothing more to do with magic. But just when she thought she could neglect her gift, it becomes apparent that the universe has other plans for Kara. When she discovers that an old foe has broken out of prison, hellbent on destroying her new life, Kara has no choice but to embrace the only power that can stop her.


First Line:

“You look worried about something,” Anthony said strumming his guitar.

In the Midst of Magic by Christian Cura

When the author emailed me back in February and asked if I could read/review his book, I almost turned it down. I was still finalizing my vacation plans and wasn’t sure if I would even be able to read the book. But, once I read the blurb and some reviews, I felt I had to read it. I am glad that I did because this book was pretty darn good!!

In the Midst of Magic had an interesting (and magical) plotline. For years, Kara has been hiding her magical ability. She was traumatized by the fact that she couldn’t stop her best friend from using forbidden magic which also led to her brother’s death. She throws herself into her photojournalist job. But that all ends when she and her friend are attacked by demons while on assignment for the local paper. Her editor has decided she will document the exploits of the newest demon hunter: a woman named Selene. As Kara and Selene grow closer, an old enemy from Kara’s past has escaped from jail and has her sight set on killing Kara and sending the magical world into chaos. Can Kara and Selene stop her in time? And will they allow the feelings that they have for each other to grow into something more?

I had conflicting feelings for Kara. On the one hand, I liked her. I thought she had remarkable strength to overcome what happened to her in the past. But on the other hand, she rubbed me the wrong way. There is nothing specific that I can point out, but there were certain scenes where I just wanted to shake some sense into her. Thankfully my wanting to shake her didn’t come around very often, and I was able to admire the way she handled things in the book.

I loved Selene. She was very sure of herself and didn’t want a photojournalist tagging along while battling demons. I loved seeing her come around to Kara and eventually start to train and care about her. Now, Selene wasn’t perfect, and I loved that the author chose to allow that part of Kara and Selene’s storyline to go through. I also loved her origin story. She got started in the very thing that Kara and her friend were doing a story on. So, that rounded the story out.

While Thalia and Charlotte were the bad guys in the book, I couldn’t help but feel pity for them. In Thalia’s case, she was studying necromancy when the Council decided to outlaw it and then killed the head of the school. That turned her down the path she chose to take. In Charlotte’s case, a combination of things turned her bad. But the main thing was her mother’s death and the pull of forbidden knowledge. I believe that she didn’t mean to kill Anthony or her other friend, but it changed her once she did. I also understand why she was so focused on Kara. In Charlotte’s mind, Kara was the reason she was in jail, and it just festered until she was driven mad by it.

The storyline with Selene, Kara, and fighting the demons was terrific. The author detailed the fights and the different types of demons that Selene (and eventually Kara) were fighting. The author explained why the demons were being called forth and who was doing it. It did tie into Thalia’s and Charlotte’s storyline at the end.

Thalia and Charlotte’s storyline was the one I liked the most. I loved learning about the magical prison and the enforcers that ran it. I liked seeing how Thalia (in her memories and written in the present day) had risen through the ranks. I was fascinated by how the enforcers kept the prisoners from using their magic. When Thalia started the riot and released Charlotte and the other two prisoners, the storyline turned sinister. I will not go into much more, but it kept me on edge. I was a little sad about Charlotte’s part of the storyline. She was eaten up with hatred for Kara and her family, which erased everything else. I wish there could have been a different outcome for her, but it made sense to end the way it did.

I loved Selene and Kara’s romance. It was a slow burn, and they didn’t get together until halfway through the book. I could understand Selene and Kara’s unwillingness to commit to each other. Each had been burned, rather severely, by previous girlfriends. But once they committed, I loved how close they were. Of course, true love does not run smoothly, and the author introduced an ex of Selene’s to shake up the relationship. I wasn’t happy because Selene and Kara were a power couple. But the author took care of that pretty fast, and they were back on again!!

The sex scenes were scorching and graphic. There were points when I had to put down my Kindle to fan myself.

The end of In the Midst of Magic was good. The author wrapped up the storylines in ways that I liked. I wonder if the author will make a series out of this book. I would love to read more stories written in this universe.

I would recommend In the Midst of Magic to anyone over 21. There is graphic language, graphic sex, and graphic violence.

Goodreads Monday: Salt of the Earth by Kate Moschandreas

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This is a weekly meme where anyone can choose a random book from their Goodreads TBR and highlight it This meme was formerly featured on LaurensPageTurners and was taken over by Budget Tales Book Blog.


This Week’s Selection

Synopsis:

It’s 2038, and Berkeley, CA is drought-ravaged, dusty, and smog-filled.

Jess Prentiss, a chemistry student, starts her day with a jog through the hills – only to realize that she is being chased. Over the course of three days, she barely stops running. Fleeing from one narrow escape to another, Jess learns that it’s her own scientific discoveries that are at the crux of a massive power struggle involving water, salt, cut-throat capitalistic contracts, worldwide famine, the Governor of California, and a radicalized populist environmental group. With time ticking, Jess must discover which players are the good guys — and whether 29-year-old Matteo Wu, the man who appears out of nowhere to help her, is someone she can trust with her life and heart.

Shadowed Horizons (The Guardians: Book 1) by Reily Garrett

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Publisher:

Date of publication: May 13th, 2022

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Suspense

Series: The Guardians

Shadowed Horizons—Book 1

Shadowed Origins—Book 2

Shadowed Passages—Book 3

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

Fate can have many paths. Which would you choose?

Kiera’s capacity to face death stems from training, begun when old enough to wield a knife. Befriended by wolves and raised by a group of psychic men sworn to protect humanity, she now faces mercenaries intent on reshaping the world using equal talents.

Prodigious keyboard skills and innate curiosity has led Wyatt McGlauklin to invent the unimaginable. He’s long since claimed status as the top computer science geek. Little do people know, there’s much more to Wyatt.
When a blonde spitfire steps out of nowhere to prevent his assassination, his life’s direction takes an extraordinary turn where his analytical mind can’t validate paranormal phenomena.

Fate decrees Kiera find her life partner, but she learns you don’t always get to choose whom you love. Wyatt’s arrival challenges destiny as they combine forces to preserve the world as they know it.


First Line:

Each flip of the key ring around his index finger tallied another reason to quit the world of high stake’s business.

Shadowed Horizons by Reily Garrett

I have read/reviewed for Reily Garrett before, and her books are consistently good. When I got the invite to review Shadowed Horizons, I didn’t hesitate to accept. I am glad I did because this book was fantastic and excited me to continue reading the series.

Shadowed Horizons is the first book in The Guardian’s series. Usually, I’d add something about if readers can read the book as a standalone or if you need to read the previous books. But in this case, it’s the first book, so those don’t apply here.

The storyline for Shadowed Horizons was interesting. Wyatt is a tech genius who a group of bodyguards is protecting with paranormal abilities. After being attacked by another group with similar paranormal abilities, he is taken to live with that group. During that attack, Wyatt meets Keira, a beautiful blonde warrior who can open portals and communicate with animals. Hiding him in their safe house is the only rational thing to do, but neither Wyatt nor Keira expected the sparks between them. Wyatt continues to work on his project, and Keira makes some discoveries that rock her world. She has an identical twin sister being held by an evil psychopath who tortures her. Another group, similar to hers, is also operating with the same end game: stop the psychopath. Can Kiera and her group save her sister, stop the psychopath, and ally with the new group? Will Kiera and Wyatt give in to their attraction? More importantly, will Kiera’s adoptive brothers allow her to have a relationship with Wyatt? And will they be able to save Ashlyn, Kiera’s twin?

I liked Wyatt. I felt he dealt with learning about paranormal abilities very well, considering how he found out. I also liked how he dealt with Kiera’s overprotective brothers. He was able to diffuse some pretty tense situations with humor. As for how he was with Kiera, I loved it. He didn’t quite know how to deal with her at first (she was a little pushy) and was a little awkward with her.

I liked Kiera. She was headstrong and knew what she wanted. She also had a penchant for practical jokes (the portals going to women’s dressing rooms was funny). Her paranormal ability (communicating with animals and opening portals) was intriguing. I liked that the author explained what she could do and how she met her wolves. I loved her scenes with Wyatt. She wanted him, and she would have him, regardless of what her brothers said. I was laughing out loud at the scenes where she asked different brothers about sex.

The bad guy, Roth, was a growing presence in the book. I liked that the author didn’t give too much away about him, only that he was collecting people with paranormal abilities and using them as mercenaries. I liked the mystery around why he was doing that and who he was. Nothing was answered about him, just that he was holding Ashlyn captive, and he was this very nasty, very evil person. I am looking forward to seeing more of him in the upcoming books.

The secondary characters, including the people from the other group of paranormals, rounded out the book. I liked seeing the guys’ different paranormal abilities and how they used them. I hope they get their books (along with their HEAs).

The paranormal angle was well written. The author kept me glued to the book with each ability uncovered. They fascinated me. I liked how they used their abilities to not only protect Wyatt but to fight Roth. I didn’t particularly appreciate that they immediately attacked the other group they found in Wyatt’s mansion or didn’t even bother to try and see who they were. They could have been allies, but no, the boys decide to fight them. That is my complaint about that (hopefully, the author will fix it in book 2!!).

The romance angle was ok for me. I liked the attraction between Wyatt and Kiera, but it didn’t progress beyond that. By the end of the book, I wanted more than a few stolen kisses between them. But, on the other hand, it was very refreshing to have a romance novel where the main characters weren’t having sex.

Something caught my attention when the author brought it up, and then she didn’t address it again. Nicholai (the head of the group and a precog) said that Kiera had a fated mate, and Wyatt wasn’t it. It was brought up again later in the book and then dropped. But I need more answers!! Does that mean that Kiera’s fated mate is still out there? Or was Nicholai wrong, and it was Wyatt all along? I hope that it gets explained more in the other books.

I had mixed feelings about the end of Shadowed Horizons. While I liked what I read, I hated that nothing was resolved, and had more questions than answers. Also, I didn’t particularly appreciate that it ended on somewhat of a cliffhanger. But that cliffhanger did its job, and now I have to read book 2!!

I would recommend Shadowed Horizons to anyone over 21. There is language, violence, and sexual situations.

The Wizard’s Ward by Jules McAleese

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Publisher: Vale Media

Date of publication: April 30th, 2022

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Young Adult

Series: Vale

The Wizard’s Ward—Book 1

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | Kobo

Goodreads Synopsis:

Francis has gray blood.

The King of the Elves ordered all gray bloods be put to death, by any means necessary. Francis, the Wizard’s Ward, has been hiding in plain sight all her life, under the care of Billington, the King’s wizard. When Billington disappears from the Cardinal castle, Francis enlists the help of her first love, a battle-ridden soldier called X, to find the only family she’s ever known.

But outside the castle walls, there is a war raging between kingdoms and Francis faces countless dangers that plague the land of Vale. Shapeshifting bounty hunters search for military deserters, pirates maraud Vale’s seas, combat-trained dragons dwell in the witch’s mountains, and betrayals harden once-warmed hearts.

As the journey pushes Francis to her limits, she uncovers the true power of her gray blood, a power that could fulfill a prophecy and bring down a psychotic king.

Vale: The Wizard’s Ward is the first installment of an epic young adult fantasy franchise.


First Line:

“Three pieces of kings copper?” Billington asked, as his unruly gray eyebrows rose in skepticism.

The Wizard’s Ward by Jules McAleese

I first saw reviews for The Wizard’s Ward on a couple of blogs I follow. I was very interested in reading it from the blurb and the reviews I kept seeing. But I figured that I would have to wait until I saw it for sale on Amazon. So, imagine my surprise when the author emailed me and asked if I would like to read/review this book. Of course, I jumped on it, and when I got the physical copy of the book, I decided that this would be my vacation book. Let’s say I read this book in 4 hours (split between two days) while driving to Fl, and I couldn’t get enough of it. I also have loaned it to a friend and her daughter (remember, I got a physical book). When I get it back, my 16 and 14-year-olds want to read it. So yes, I liked this book and have been recommending it to everyone.

The Wizard’s Rule had an exciting plotline. Francis is Billington’s ward, the wizard for The King of Elves. But Francis has a secret. She has gray blood, and The King has ordered all people with gray blood to be killed. Billington is hiding her in plain sight to protect her. Several things happen at once. Francis’s first love, a soldier named X is back from his 2-year deployment, Francis is required to attend a ball about her bully who happens to be the sister of The King, and Billington disappears. Determined to find him, Francis needs to go outside the castle and follow clues to where he could be. With the help of X, she escapes the castle but soon realizes that X is damaged and dangerous. With help from a surprising source, Francis enlists on a journey that will have her sail with pirates, fly with dragons, and confront a tyrant. But, can she find Billington, and can she learn what makes her so special to so many people?

I loved Francis. She did take her relationship with Billington for granted until he disappeared. It was then that she realized how much she had been protected. She also realized that he would have never disappeared without letting her know. That is when she took action and decided to go search for him. She learned much about herself and what her gray blood could do on that journey. Seeing her character grow and evolve was awesome!!

Let’s talk about X. I was pretty conflicted about his character right from the start. I didn’t understand why Francis had such strong feelings for him. He didn’t seem like her type. As the book went on and I got to see what happened from his perspective, I understood what attracted her to him. I also began to understand what attracted him to her. Francis was X’s haven. Memories of her helped him keep sane and not lose it when he was on that horrible island and forced to do awful things. So, I was a little surprised when the author had the storyline go the way it did. Surprised didn’t precisely entirely cover my reaction to that scene. More accurately, I was sad, horrified, and disgusted by his actions. Those feelings carried over for the rest of the book with everything he did and who he ended up hooking up with. But there were hints of the old X in there. He still thought about Francis constantly and imagined her when he was with Medea (which did gross me out).

I wish that Billington was more of a presence in the book. I loved how he came into the custody of Francis and raised her as his daughter. But there was a massive chunk of the book where he was just gone. I couldn’t get a feel for him as a character because of that. I hope he will be more there in the next book. I also hope the author explores Billington and Francis’s relationship a little more. He is her father, he did raise her, and I would love to see that discussed more.

The storyline about Francis’s gray blood was well written. I loved that the author didn’t fully explain what it meant (other than the prophecy and magic) until the end of the book. At that point, it made perfect sense, considering what had happened. I hope that in book 2, the author delves more into what gray blood can do.

The romance angle of the book was well written also. But, to be honest, I couldn’t pair Francis and X together in my head romantically. They were just too different. I hope that the author has them come together at some point in book 2. There are a lot of unresolved feelings on both their ends.

The author very well wrote the fantasy/magic angle of The Wizard’s Rule. The author did a fantastic job building this rich world where magic existed and was used for almost everything. I loved that Francis didn’t have a good grip on her magic for 90% of the book. She understood the spells, but they wouldn’t obey her. She ended up “wishing” for the magical things to happen, and they did. I can’t wait to see where the author will take that. I also can’t wait to see more of the fantasy world that these characters live in. The author gave us a glimpse into witches, sirens, centaurs, dragons, and pirates. What else could there be?

There are a couple of twists in the plotline. One comes with X’s storyline (see above). While I didn’t see it coming at the time, looking back, it made sense. But, the other plotline twist is HUGE and takes place in the very last chapter. I was so taken aback by what was revealed that I had to read that chapter 3 times. And each time, I kept thinking, “OMG, what did I READ!!!” It was very sneaky of the author to do that because there are certain characters that I can’t look at the same now. It also makes me want to read book two because of what was revealed.

As I mentioned, the end of The Wizard’s Ward was a complete bombshell. The author didn’t wrap up any of the storylines. Instead, she left them open, which left a vast opening for book 2.

I would recommend The Wizard’s Way for anyone over 13. There is no language, mild to moderate violence, and some very mild non-graphic sexual content (with X and Medea).

WWW Wednesday: June 15th, 2022

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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:

Here’s what has gone on since last week’s** WWW Wednesday:

** I know that I missed two WWW Wednesdays since my last post. But I am lazy and didn’t want to mess with what I had originally written (I copy/paste it)

  • School has officially ended here in NC. I am proud to say that all 3 of my kids passed to the next grade. So, starting in August, I will have 9th, 11th, and 3rd graders!!
  • While I am on the subject of school, Mr. Z got back the results of his state tests. He got 4’s and 5’s (which put him in honors classes in August). Miss B got back her results too and she did very well. With the exception of math, she scored 3’s and 4’s (math, she scored a 2 but I wasn’t surprised, it was hard for her this year)
  • I attended Miss R’s end-of-school picnic. It was the first time in 2 years that they had it and it was a hit. Miss R was thrilled that I was there and I got to meet her friends. I also became the mom who adopted 4 kids because their parents couldn’t make it. We all sat on our towels and I listened to 2nd-grade gossip…lol.
  • The school is doing something different for school supplies this year. They set up an account for all grades with this company called School Kidz. This company packs a box filled with essential school supplies and sends it to the school. It cost me $41 (with no shipping, that the school covers) but Miss R will have waiting for her this list: wide-ruled paper, #2 pencils, dry erase markers, folders, 3 ring binder, composition notebooks, regular notebooks, glue sticks, crayons, pencil case, scissors (but in Miss R’s case, she needs lefty scissors so I will have her give the one that comes with the kit to the teacher), earbuds with case, and personalized ID labels. I am happy to have that done with and wish that the high school would do the same.
  • We went away on a glorious vacation to Fl for an entire week. We went to Legoland Waterpark, Animal Kingdom, saw my MIL, and spent a few days at the resort. It was a much-needed vacation and I read a ton of books (it was a 10-hour drive to and from).
  • Unfortunately, as soon as we got home, Miss R and I got sick. Miss R actually had a bad cold at the beginning of the trip (not COVID, we tested) that she passed to me. I had a miserable 4 days of coughing, laryngitis, and a sore throat. I ended up taking Miss R to the Dr last Wednesday because I thought she had swimmers ear. Nope, she had double ear infections and is still currently taking antibiotics.
  • We are hunkering down during this heat wave and my kids hate it. I hate it because we have a small pool (inflatable) and a slip and slide that Miss R loves but hasn’t used since the weekend. It is just too hot and humid. We have one more day of super-hot temps (tomorrow is supposed to get over 100 with a real feel of 105-107…..yuck) and then it will cool down slightly.
  • I signed Miss R up for a day camp at her barn today. It is next Friday, 9-4 and she will be with the other girls she knows (plus some that she doesn’t). She has a lesson right after and I am expecting her to be exhausted (actually I am planning on it). I figure since her surgery is on July 1st, I was going to squeeze as much stuff as I could for her before it.
  • Reading-wise, I am all caught up with my backlog and I am actually reading ahead of where I should be. I am super excited about that!! Now, I am furiously writing reviews and trying to get them posted. I am about 8-9 reviews behind where I want to be. But it’s better than being 8-9 books behind. Like I said above, I got a ton of reading done while on vacation.

So that’s the major things for this past week. How was your week?

As always, let me know if you have read or are planning to read any of these books!!


What I Recently Finished Reading:

In the first book of a visionary fantasy trilogy with its roots in the mythology of Africa and Arabia that “sings of rebellion, love, and the courage it takes to stand up to tyranny” (Samantha Shannon, author of The Priory of the Orange Tree), three women band together against a cruel empire that divides people by blood.

The Final Strife is the real deal: epic fantasy turned on its head in the most compelling way imaginable.”—Kalynn Bayron, bestselling author of Cinderella Is Dead and This Poison Heart

ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2022—Book Riot


Red is the blood of the elite, of magic, of control.
Blue is the blood of the poor, of workers, of the resistance.
Clear is the blood of the slaves, of the crushed, of the invisible.


Sylah dreams of days growing up in the resistance, being told she would spark a revolution that would free the empire from the red-blooded ruling classes’ tyranny. That spark was extinguished the day she watched her family murdered before her eyes.

Anoor has been told she’s nothing, no one, a disappointment, by the only person who matters: her mother, the most powerful ruler in the empire. But when Sylah and Anoor meet, a fire burns between them that could consume the kingdom—and their hearts.

Hassa moves through the world unseen by upper classes, so she knows what it means to be invisible. But invisibility has its uses: It can hide the most dangerous of secrets, secrets that can reignite a revolution. And when she joins forces with Sylah and Anoor, together these grains of sand will become a storm.

As the empire begins a set of trials of combat and skill designed to find its new leaders, the stage is set for blood to flow, power to shift, and cities to burn.

Book One of The Ending Fire Trilog
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What I am currently reading:

A reality star and a cupcake-baking football player pretend to be a couple in order to save his bakery in this sweet and sexy romance from Jamie Wesley, Fake It Till You Bake It.

Jada Townsend-Matthews is the most reviled woman in America after turning down a proposal on a reality dating show. When she comes home to lick her wounds, Jada finds herself working at San Diego’s newest cupcake bakery, Sugar Blitz, alongside the uptight owner and professional football player Donovan Dell.

When a reporter mistakenly believes Jada and Donovan are an item, they realize they can use the misunderstanding to their advantage to help the struggling bakery and rehabilitate Jada’s image. Faking a relationship should be simple, but sometimes love is the most unexpected ingredient.

Fake it Till You Bake It is a sweet confection of a novel, the perfect story to curl up with and enjoy with a cupcake on the side.

What books I think I’ll read next:

A god wages war—using all of humanity as its pawns—in the unforgettable conclusion to the Founders trilogy.

Sancia, Clef, and Berenice have gone up against plenty of long odds in the past. But the war they’re fighting now is one even they can’t win.


This time, they’re not facing robber-baron elites, or even an immortal hierophant, but an entity whose intelligence is spread over half the globe—a ghost in the machine that uses the magic of scriving to possess and control not just objects, but human minds.

To fight it, they’ve used scriving technology to transform themselves and their allies into an army—a society—that’s like nothing humanity has seen before. With its strength at their backs, they’ve freed a handful of their enemy’s hosts from servitude, even brought down some of its fearsome, reality-altering dreadnaughts. Yet despite their efforts, their enemy marches on—implacable. Unstoppable.

Now, as their opponent closes in on its true prize—an ancient doorway, long buried, that leads to the chambers at the center of creation itself—Sancia and her friends glimpse a chance at reaching it first, and with it, a last desperate opportunity to stop this unbeatable foe. But to do so, they’ll have to unlock the centuries-old mystery of scriving’s origins, embark on a desperate mission into the heart of their enemy’s power, and pull off the most daring heist they’ve ever attempted.

And as if that weren’t enough, their adversary might just have a spy in their ranks—and a last trick up its sleeve.
Two girls went into the woods. Only one came back. . . .

Detective Chief Inspector Jonah Sheens is on the trail in this explosive crime novel from the acclaimed author of She Lies in WaitWatching from the Dark, and Lie Beside Me

Jonah Sheens is enjoying a moment of peace in a pub garden on his day off when a teenage girl wanders out of the woods. She’s striking, with flame-red hair and a pale complexion. She’s also covered in blood.

When Jonah races to help, the girl insists she’s fine. Then she smiles. It’s her sister he needs to worry about. Keely and her sister, Nina, disappeared from a children’s home a week ago. Now Keely is here–but Nina’s still missing. Jonah is sure Keely knows where her sister is–but before she tells him anything, she insists, he has to listen to her story from the beginning.

Is she witness, victim, or killer? And if Jonah follows the trail of clues in her story, will they lead him to the missing girl–or distract him until it’s too late?
The discovery of a missing Amish bishop’s remains leads chief of police Kate Burkholder to unearth a chilling secret in The Hidden One, a new thriller from bestselling author Linda Castillo…
You want to walk away from the things that were bad for you and never look back.

That’s what Corinne Callahan wants.

Cast out of the fundamentalist church she was raised in and cut off from her family, Corinne builds a new life for herself. A good one. But she never stops missing the life—and the love— she’s left behind.

It’s Enoch Miller who ruins everything for her. It was always Enoch Miller. She’ll never get him out from under her skin.

Set over fifteen years and told with astonishing intimacy, Rebecca Morrow’s Corinne is the story of a woman who risks everything she’s built for the one man she can never have.

Rosie Shadow by Louise Worthington

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Publisher: Red Escape Publishing

Date of publication: March 1st, 2021

Genre: Horror

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads synopsis:

Whatcha crying for, sissy? Why don’t you grow a pair?’ Rosie says to her mother…‘Send me to school and I’ll rip off your arm! Beat you with the stump.’

Abandoned by her terrorised mother at the age of six, Rosie Shadow will do anything to win the affection of her father Archie, an undead cannibal in charge of Her Majesty’s Prison Shortbury, now operating as a visitor attraction.

Clare is sent reeling into Archie’s arms with the grief of losing her boyfriend in a mysterious car accident when he collides with an ancient yew tree.

The secrets in the Medieval dungeon beneath the prison are under threat when Clare becomes suspicious of Archie’s true identity and his progeny.

Rosie Shadow is Book I in The Black Tongue Series.


First Line:

At dawn, blackbirds and sparrows sing a love song to celebrate life from the top of the yew tree.

Rosie Shadow by Louise Worthington

Rosie Shadow was a different type of zombie/horror book than I have read. Not saying that I didn’t enjoy it (I did), but it wasn’t typical of the genre.

Rosie Shadow has two distinct storylines. The first storyline centers around Clare, the death of her boyfriend Lenny, her job at a prison made tourist attraction, and her relationship with her boss, Archie. The second storyline centers around Rosie, Elly (her mother), and various social workers brought to help Elly with Rosie. Both storylines are somewhat merged by the end of the book. I say somewhat because Rosie never physically meets Clare or Archie (even though she communicates telepathically with him).

Clare had my sympathy for the entire book. She was dealing with the death of her boyfriend, her school studies, and having a not-so-great relationship with her father. I was in awe over how she dealt with everything. I would have been a freaking mess, but she wasn’t. The only thing that showed that she was internally freaking out was her smoking and her relationship with Archie. But, I think her calmness helped her when everything went to crap at the end of the book. She was the one who kept her head. She was the one who was able to think on her feet with Archie. She was the one who was able to help Beth.

Archie’s character was different. Yes, he was an undead cannibal (or a zombie), but he didn’t act like your typical zombie. He held a job at the former prison. He didn’t crave brains. Instead, he needed to eat a young woman’s flesh to stay alive (for lack of a better term). I wish the author had given more background on him, but I did like what was provided. He was a former prison inmate who died (and was resurrected ?) there. While eating flesh kept him alive, sex was better, and he thought he had found a willing partner in Clare. He wasn’t necessarily evil, but he wasn’t good either. If I had to put a finger on it, he was chaotic neutral with leanings toward evil.

Rosie scared me. She was the evilest, twisted 6-year-old that I have read about in a while. She terrorized her mother, ate raw animals (which disgusted me), loved playing with animal corpses, lying in dirt graves, and generally scared people. I didn’t understand why she was the way she was until the connection to Archie was made (the scene where she killed her social worker and fed her to the yew tree to give to Archie). She sent chills up my spine every time she appeared in the book. When she went to the respite fosterer, I knew that a showdown was coming. And the author didn’t disappoint with that.

The author very well wrote the horror angle of Rosie Shadow. I am not easily scared or even disgusted while reading this genre, and the author succeeded in doing both. The last half of the book that detailed the life-or-death fight scenes between Clare and Archie/Rosie and Annie gave me nightmares.

The paranormal aspect of the book was also very well written. I wish the author had given more detail about Archie’s turning (it interested me a lot), but other than that, I was pretty satisfied with what I read.

The end of Rosie Shadow made me wonder if or when Rosie/Archie would reappear. I know this is book 1 of a series, and I am very interested in reading what book two will bring.

I would recommend Rosie Shadow to anyone over 21. This is language, extreme violence, gore, and somewhat graphic sexual situations.

My Wife is Missing by D.J. Palmer

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Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of Publication: May 10th, 2022

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Contemporary

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

A family vacation turns into a nightmare for Michael Hart when he discovers his wife and two children have disappeared from their New York City hotel room. Horrified, he fears they’ve been kidnapped. Michael’s frantic search to find them takes a shocking turn when he discovers that his wife, Natalie, appears to have left quite willingly, taking their children with her. The police want to know why, and so does Michael. But there may be a reason why Natalie ran, something Michael can’t tell the police — the truth about his past. While untangling his deceptions might be the key to locating Natalie, Michael knows it could also be his undoing. To find his wife, he must now turn to the one person capable of exposing all that he’s been hiding. Natalie thinks she has Michael all figured out and has hatched a plan to escape from him permanently. One detail, though, threatens to derail her efforts: sleep — or more accurately, the lack of it. Since the moment the shocking revelations about her husband came to light, Natalie’s insomnia has worsened to the point that she now suffers from delusions. Are her fears about Michael valid — or a symptom of her condition? With her children’s lives at risk, the stakes for Natalie could not be higher. On her own, running low on energy and resources, avoiding increasingly close calls with Michael — who is on the hunt and closing in fast — Natalie needs someone to turn to for help. But who can she trust when she can’t even trust herself?


First Line:

As Michael Hart rounded the corner to his hotel room, he saw a small, lifeless shape lying on the floor of the hallway.

My Wife is Missing by D.J. Palmer

My Wife is Missing is a fast-moving psychological thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Natalie and Michael have some martial/personal issues, and they decide to take a trip to New York City to reconnect. While Michael is out getting dinner, Natalie takes the kids and disappears. Michael is confused, angry, and concerned. Why? Because Natalie has had insomnia, and he fears the lack of sleep has made her irrational. What Michael doesn’t know is that Natalie has discovered some of Michael’s long-buried secrets, and those secrets have scared her enough to run. But hindering her is her severe insomnia, and she begins to wonder if what she saw and discovered were hallucinations brought on by it. Can Natalie trust herself to get to somewhere safe? Will Michael find her? Will she find out if what she saw/found out is the truth or hallucinations?

I was immediately intrigued by the blurb of this book. I don’t think I have ever read a book where insomnia was a huge and prevalent part of the plotline. I didn’t realize that severe insomnia could result in hallucinations/delusions.

Natalie was such an unreliable character, and I loved it. Her insomnia started when she realized Michael was cheating on her, and it kept getting worse throughout the book. I loved reading her detective work into Michael’s past and his affair. I also loved that when she decided to make a move, she made up her mind and did it. I was cheering for her as she out maneuvered Michael time and time again (even as exhausted as she was).

I wouldn’t say I liked Michael. But, he did gain a little bit of my respect with his detective skills. Even though Natalie was one step ahead of him for 90% of the book, he was close enough to get her a couple of times.

The storyline with Natalie, the kids, her insomnia, and being on the run kept me on the edge of my seat. I was internally cheering her on and wanting her to get to her final destination without Michael finding her. I was a little disappointed with how it ended, but my disappointment was short-lived. It was because the author brought this storyline and the storyline with Michael’s cheating/his past together, and it EXPLODED!!

Michael’s storyline, cheating, and past were well written. Again, it kept me glued to my Kindle. A twist to the cheating storyline and the story about Michael’s history took me by surprise.

The twists in the storylines made the book. I was not expecting either of them. When they both made their appearances (one towards the end and one at the very end), my mouth dropped open. I couldn’t believe that the author went where he did with both twists.

The end of My Wife is Missing was good. The author was able to wrap up all of the storylines in a way that both shocked and pleased me. I was happy to see that at least one of the main characters would have a happy life. But at the same time, I wish the author could have redeemed the other main character somehow. That would have made the book so much better for me.

I would recommend My Wife is Missing to anyone over 21. There is violence, language, and some mild sexual situations.

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