The Spear Cuts Through Water by Simon Jimenez

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Rey

Date of publication: August 30th, 2022

Genre: Fantasy, Adult, Fiction, High Fantasy, LGBT, Science Fiction, Queer, Epic Fantasy, Science Fiction Fantasy, Adult Fiction

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | Alibris | Powells | IndieBound | Indigo | Better World Books

Goodreads Synopsis:

Two warriors shepherd an ancient god across a broken land to end the tyrannical reign of a royal family in this new epic fantasy from the author of The Vanished Birds.

ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2022—Tordotcom, BookPage, LitHub

The people suffer under the centuries-long rule of the Moon Throne. The royal family—the despotic emperor and his monstrous sons, the Three Terrors—hold the countryside in their choking grip. They bleed the land and oppress the citizens with the frightful powers they inherited from the god locked under their palace.

But that god cannot be contained forever.

With the aid of Jun, a guard broken by his guilt-stricken past, and Keema, an outcast fighting for his future, the god escapes from her royal captivity and flees from her own children, the triplet Terrors who would drag her back to her unholy prison. And so it is that she embarks with her young companions on a five-day pilgrimage in search of freedom—and a way to end the Moon Throne forever. The journey ahead will be more dangerous than any of them could have imagined.

Both a sweeping adventure story and an intimate exploration of identity, legacy, and belonging, The Spear Cuts Through Water is an ambitious and profound saga that will transport and transform you—and is like nothing you’ve ever read before.


First Line:

Before you arrive, you remember your lola, smoking.

The Spear Cuts Through Water by Simon Jimenez

When I first received the publisher’s request to review The Spear Cuts Through Water, I almost didn’t accept it. I had reviewed The Vanished Birds and “meh” about it. But when I read the blurb, it caught my interest, and I decided to give this book a chance. I am glad I did because this book was one of the most uniquely written books I have ever read. Oh, and I also really liked it.

The Spear Cuts Through Water had an exciting plotline. It follows the journey of Keema, a one-armed outcast, and Jun, grandson of the emperor, as they escort Jun’s goddess grandmother across the country. Jun and Keema face many dangers but discover strengths they didn’t know they had. There is also another storyline that is intertwined with Keema and Jun. That is the story of an unnamed man who finds himself in a place called the Inverted Theater after a lifetime of hardship. He is watching a play about Keema and Jun and their journey. Like me, he had questions about their journey. Will they complete their journey?

Usually, I will put a trigger and content warning at the end of my review. But, if I feel that the book’s content will immediately affect the reader or the triggers are horrible, I move it to the top of the review. The triggers in this book are a combination of both. If you are triggered by gore, genocide, ritual cannabilism, body horror, dismemberment, and ableism, do not read this book.

The Spear Cuts Through Water is a medium-paced book in a dystopian ancient Japan or China (I couldn’t figure out which one). The author uses a lot of Japanese and Chinese folklore as a base for the story. I loved it!! It made the book so much more enjoyable for me to read because I enjoy the folklore/mythology from those areas.

As I stated above, this was very uniquely written book. It was written in equal parts, 2nd person and 3rd person POVs. I can count on one hand how many books I have read in 2nd person. And I can count how many of those books I have liked on half of that hand. The author seamlessly switched between the 2nd and 3rd person without disrupting the book’s flow. I was surprised at how much I liked the way it was written. Now, saying that the way this book is written isn’t for everyone, and I would keep that in mind when starting it.

The main characters of The Spear Cuts Through Water were well-written. The author did a great job of fleshing them out and making me care about them (and their journey).

  • Keema—I liked him. There’s not much I can say about him other than that he was almost stupidly brave. I wouldn’t say I liked that he was looked down upon for only having one arm or that the other guards picked on him because of it. His journey with Keema was to find himself as much as it was to bring the Moon to her final destination.
  • Jun—So, he didn’t make the best first impression when he showed up in the book. But, as the book continued, I saw Jun’s character evolving. He started to care about Keema and what the Terrors were doing to the people during his journey. Heck, he even cared about the tortoise. By the end of the book, he has changed from the beginning.
  • Unknown Narrator—This is the person being told Jun and Keema’s story and their own life story. I felt terrible for this man. He had been through so much in life. He was amazed to find himself at the Inverted Theater, watching this story unfold. There was a more fantastic connection between Jun, Keema, and himself that was revealed at the end of the book. I didn’t see that twist coming!
  • The Three Terrors—I was going to make them secondary characters, but I got to thinking, and they each, in their way, were main characters. To me, they embodied the worst traits that society had. Jun’s father (the First Terror) was Violence. He participated in genocide in the Old World. He did love his sons, but that was his only redeeming quality. The Second Terror, to me, was Greed and Gluttony. In my eyes, he was the scariest Terror, mainly because of what he did to gain the powers of the tortoise. The Third Terror, I couldn’t place him in any group. He was a horror exiled from his family at a young age. I will not even get into what he was or what he did. But I did feel bad for him. The scene with the man in that dungeon was both gruesome and heartbreaking at the same time.
  • The Moon— I wasn’t sure about her. I understood why she wanted to leave (who would want to be held captive under a palace). But I wouldn’t say I liked how she coerced Jun and Keema to do what she wanted. She didn’t get to her destination, forcing Jun and Keema to do something atrocious, something I had heard of but had never seen written in a book before. She also held no love for her children. That bothered me more than anything, to be honest.

The Spear Cut Through Water did have a lot of notable secondary characters. I will not list them, but they all added extra depth to the book.

The Spear Cuts Through Water was listed as a fantasy novel. I agree, but it is more suited as a dark and epic fantasy. The author did a great job weaving the epic fantasy angle (the journey) and the dark fantasy angle (everything else). It made for a great read.

I also want to add that there is a romance and LGBTQ+ angle to this book also. Keema and Jun’s romance is cultivated throughout the entire book. There was so much given with a look between them. And the yearning, oh my, it was almost too much for me to bear.

The author amazingly wrote the main storyline with Keema, Jun, the Terrors, the Moon, and their journey. The author had me glued to the book, wanting to know more, and you know what? He gave it to me in spades. The author explained everything, and he tied everything together. The author left no loose ends with this plotline. There were a couple of twists I didn’t see coming.

The storylines with the unknown narrator and the Inverted Theater was well written. I didn’t get as invested as I did with the main storyline, but still, it drew me in. A twist in that storyline made me put my Kindle down. I needed a second to process what I had read because the twist was that unexpected and that good.

Several secondary storylines give some added background and depth to the main storylines. The author incorporated them into the main storyline without pausing the book’s flow.

The end of The Spear Cuts Through Water was not what I expected, but at the same time, I expected it, if that makes sense. I loved how the author ended the main storylines and how he merged them both.

Three reasons why you should read The Spear Cuts Through Water:

  1. The storylines.
  2. The characters.
  3. Jun and Keema’s slow-burn romance

Three reasons why you shouldn’t read The Spear Cuts Through Water:

  1. The triggers. I am usually pretty good with the number of triggers in the book, but even I got triggered by this book.
  2. The way it was written. Being told in 2nd and 3rd person isn’t most people’s cup of tea.
  3. The Terrors. They genuinely creeped me out.

If you enjoyed reading The Spear Cuts Through Water, you will enjoy reading these books:

Bookish Travels—November 2022 Destinations

I saw this meme on It’s All About Books and thought, I like this!! So, I decided to do it once a month also. Many thanks to Yvonne for originally posting this!!

This post is what it says: Places I travel to in books each month. Books are wonderful and take you to places you would never get a chance to go. That includes places of fantasy too!!

So….enjoy!! Please let me know if you have read these books or traveled to these areas (other than the fantasy….lol).


United States:

New York (Brooklyn), Louisiana (New Orleans)
New York (New York City), Texas (College Station, Bryan), North Carolina (Raleigh), Washington D.C.,
California (Los Angeles)
Colorado
California (Orange County)
Georgia (Atlanta), Alabama (Birmingham)
Utah (Salt Lake City, Hill AFB), New York (Long Island, Manhattan, New York City), New Jersey (Glenn Rock), California (San Francisco, Lake Tahoe), Washington (Seattle), Missouri (Branson), Michigan (Detroit, Ann Arbor), Florida (Tampa), Ohio (Columbus), New Mexico (Albuquerque)
Alabama, Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, Pittsburg), New York (New York City), Washington (Seattle)
New York
New York (Long Island, Lake Ronkonkoma), New Mexico (Los Alamos)
North Carolina (Asheville)
California (Los Angeles), Georgia (Atlanta, Isle of Hope, Savannah, Beaufort)
New York (New York City, Manhattan)
California (Berkeley)
Vermont (Lake Salem), New Hampshire, Connecticut (Hartford, Mercy Hills)
Nevada (Las Vegas)
New York City, New York
New York (New York City), Wisconsin

The Netherlands

Rotterdam

France

Strasbourg, Southern France, Paris
Paris

Brazil

Brasília

Switzerland

Geneva, Zürich

Ireland

Dublin

Belgium

Brussels

Russia

St. Petersburg
Vladimir, Murimstevo Castle
Lake Chebarkul

Italy

Monferrato, Naples
Orvieto, Rome
Naples and Capri
Venice

Norway

Bergen, Borgefjell

Poland

Krakow

Canada

Syn Island
Prince Edward Island (Georgetown), Quebec

Japan

Tokyo, Mako Island, Tomo Island

Australia

Australian Coast, Lord Howe Island
Cairns
Melbourne

Uganda


Ignisia

Forest of Ghosts (Flamehaven),

Germany

Lindenmuhle

Spain

Granada, Carboneras, Barcelona, Cantabrian Mountains (Torre Cerredo), City of Lights (fictional)

England

Regency London
1970’s London
Cambridge
London, Reading
Little Hanting, Cumbria (Carlisle)

Outer Space

Mars (Carson), Eden

Khazinth


Rynne


Avenlor

Dagor, Gammod-Dhol

Mor


Antarctic

South Georgia Island

New Zealand

Akaroa
Christchurch

Ilarius

Capital

Belarus

Minsk

Goodreads Monday: The Wrong Child by Patricia Kay

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.


What would you do if you discovered your adored child wasn’t your child at all? That a mistake had been made in the hospital, and someone else took your child home, and you took theirs? This is the heartbreaking dilemma facing Abbie Bernard and Logan O’Connell — an impossible situation with no acceptable answer. Or is there? Both Abbie and Logan are desperate to protect their children and to keep their families intact. Can they find a way to keep both of their daughters? THE WRONG CHILD is a compelling, emotional and romantic story of the bonds that are stronger than blood and the choices that can only be made with the heart. Ripped from the headlines, it gained Ms. Kay thousands of new fans around the world, and was honored by The Romance Writers of America with a nomination for a RITA, its most prestigious award.

Spies Never Lose (Banana Girls: Book 3) by M. Taylor Christensen

Publisher: Zoom Press

Date of publication: November 10th, 2022

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Spy

Series: Banana Girls

Spies Never Quit—Book 1 (review here)

Spies Never Swoon—Book 2 (review here)

Spies Never Lose—Book 3

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

Hannah’s new husband is going to drive her absolutely crazy.

Never having been married before, Hannah McCarthy doesn’t know if what she’s feeling is normal. Even though she has to pretend to be madly in love with her fake husband, she really just wants to wring his neck. But her annoyance and frustration would all be worth it if it means putting a stop to the illegal international adoptions they’ve discovered.

Can Hannah and her fellow agent set aside their differences and work together to track down the mastermind of the adoption operation? And, perhaps more importantly, is Hannah willing to let her incredibly condescending yet aggravatingly adorable pretend-husband actually get his way?

If you enjoy kick-butt spy-girls and enemies-to-lovers, you’ll love Spies Never Lose. This stand-alone novel is the third book in the Banana Girls series. As always, the romance is sweet and the suspense is cozy.


First Line:

A loud bang shattered the stillness of the scrubby Georgia woods.

Spies Never Lose by M. Taylor Christensen

I was super excited when I got the invite to review Spies Never Lose. I had read the previous two books and enjoyed them. So, I jumped on the invite. I am glad that I did because this book was fantastic.

Spies Never Lose has a fast-paced and exciting plotline. Hannah has been assigned to work with one of the most infuriating men she has ever met, Special Agent Jason Briggs from Homeland Security. Their job is to infiltrate an international adoption agency suspected of kidnapping children from their families in China and adopting them into families in the United States. Hannah and Jason are posing as social media influencers looking to adopt. The closer they get to exposing the agency, the more dangerous it gets. The only thing is Hannah can’t stand Jason, and it isn’t easy for her to pretend to like him. Can Hannah and Jason put aside their differences and work together? Or will they fail their mission?

Spies Never Lose is the third book in the Banana Girls series. While the readers can read it as a standalone, I recommend reading the first two books before reading this one. That way, you can get the background on why the Banana Girls were formed, who the other team members are, and the relationships the previous two girls found themselves in.

Spies Never Lose is a fast-paced book that takes place in Atlanta, Georgia, and the surrounding areas.

I like characters that grab me from the get-go. I get a better connection with them if they do that. Thankfully, both Hannah and Jason were able to do that.

  • Hannah—-I was thrilled that Hannah finally got her book. My opinion of her has been rocky because of how she acted in the first two books. She was a jerk, and I was praying that she wasn’t written that way in this one. Well, she wasn’t. All those jerky traits were toned down and morphed into qualities that complimented her. I loved it. I also liked how single-minded she was in her hate of Jason. I knew it would turn to love at some point, and when it did, I loved how Hannah showed it.
  • Jason—I did not like him at first. He came across as a cocky, misogynistic man who told Hannah she was privileged to work with him. But, as the book went on, the author revealed a man who cared deeply about his case and Hannah. I also loved his explanation about why he came off the way he did. By the end of the book, I was 100% team, Jason.

The former characters from the previous books did make appearances in this book. The author, though, kept them in the background. Other notable characters (the two influencer families and the adoption coordinator) added extra depth and character to the book.

Spies Never Lose has a hybrid of genres. It is a combination of young adult, suspense, mystery, thriller, and a little bit of romance. As with his other books, the author was able to meld all of those genres together in a way that caught and kept my attention.

There was one major storyline in Spies Never Lose. It was Hannah and Jason infiltrating and taking down the international adoption ring. It was slow-moving at first (with all the talk of influencers and an adoption camp), but the pace did pick up. I enjoyed trying to figure out who was behind the buying of the children.

There were secondary storylines, and they complemented the main one very well. I loved the storyline with the influencer families that Jason and Hannah had to make friends with. I was dying laughing. Mainly because the representation shown was 100% what I imagined those people would be like.

The end of Spies Never Lose was standard. I was surprised by who was behind the adoptions. I also liked the HEA for Jason and Hannah.

Three Reasons You Should Read Spies Never Lose:

  • Great storyline
  • Readers can read it as a standalone
  • Great melding of genres

Three Reasons You Shouldn’t Read Spies Never Lose:

  • Jason at the beginning of the book. I wanted to strangle him.
  • The influencers. As much as they amused me, I didn’t like them.
  • The kids are being stolen from their families and adopted.

I would recommend Spies Never Lose to anyone over 16. There is mild language, violence, and no sex (some kissing scenes).

Shampoo & Condition (A Me Too Mystery) by M.L. Ortega

Publisher:

Date of publication: August 30th, 2022

Genre: Short Story, Mystery

Series: Me Too Mystery

Turn Key Condition—Book 1

Shampoo & Condition—Book 2

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound \

Goodreads Synopsis:

If Janet Evanovich’s signature character were a single mom, she’d answer to the name Maggie Chessman. In Shampoo & Condition, Vivian, Maggie’s soon to be ex sister-in-law, drops dead in a beauty salon and Maggie’s brother becomes suspect number one – creating friction between our main character and her policeman boyfriend.

What can a girl do but pursue other suspects: Vivian’s shifty sisters, a smooth financial operator, and a secretive shampoo girl.

Meanwhile, Maggie’s best friend is matching corpses with missing persons on the Jane Doe website, eventually spotting a dead person in their midst.


First Line:

The pressure exerted on Jane’s head and the fumes inside the metal casing overwhelmed her.

Shampoo and Condition by M.L. Ortega

Cozy mysteries are low on my list of books to read. I don’t know why because I do enjoy reading them. So, when the author emailed me her request, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. I am glad I did because this was a good mystery.

Shampoo & Condition had two main plotlines. The first one centered around Maggie and her investigation into her soon-to-be ex-sister-in-law’s death (at a popular beauty salon). When Maggie starts following leads, she discovers that her sister in law was going to try and bankrupt her husband (Maggie’s brother). But the leads start getting more convoluted when a handsome man, a financial advisor to the school, takes an interest in Maggie.

The other storyline centers around a secretive woman who has just gotten hired at the same beauty salon (where Maggie’s sister-in-law dropped dead). Her backstory: She is on the run from her abusive ex-husband, a police officer. But things aren’t what they seem with this woman. Everything gets thrown up in the air when Jane (Maggie’s best friend) matches this woman with a cold case on a Jane Doe website. Exactly who is the new employee, and what is her connection with Maggie’s sister-in-law? Can Maggie solve her sister-in-law’s death? Or will this case be a wash?

This is book two in the Me Too series. You do not need to read book one to understand what is going on in this book. Also, this book is a quick read at 101 pages.

Shampoo & Condition is a fast-paced mystery that takes place over several days. It is set entirely in Orange County, California.

The main characters, Maggie and Jane, were a hoot to read. They are around my age, and I was able to connect with everything they did or wanted to do.

  • Maggie—I loved how devoted she was to her brother. I also was in awe of her investigation skills. She could decipher clues from things I wouldn’t have thought to look at. Her work solved what happened to Viv (her sister-in-law). And it was also her investigation that exposed what Viv would do to her brother. I questioned when she got involved with the financial advisor working with the school board.
  • Jane—I loved her as much as Maggie. She had a little more skill at investigating than Maggie. Her observation skills were on point, as was her memory. I also liked how she zeroed in on Lilith.
  • Lilith—-I have to admit, I did believe her story. But minor inconsistencies did crop up, and oh boy, when the author revealed everything, I was surprised. Talk about not seeing that coming!!

As with every book that I have read, the secondary characters add extra depth to the book. Shampoo & Condition’s secondary characters were no different. There were a couple I wished had more page time (Viv’s sisters and Dominga are the two that stand out).

Shampoo & Condition fit perfectly with the cozy mystery genre. The author had me guessing who killed Viv and why. She also had me thinking about Maggie’s new friend and who Lilith was. I loved it.

The storyline with Viv, Maggie, Viv’s death, and Maggie’s investigation was well written. As stated above, I was genuinely perplexed about who killed Viv and why. I loved seeing the twists and turns that Maggie’s investigation took.

The storyline with Maggie and the new financial person the school brought in was interesting. But, honestly, I didn’t care for it. I had thought Maggie was with Tuna (her policeman boyfriend) and having a semi-love triangle happening didn’t do it for me.

The storyline with Jane, Lilith, and Lilith’s identity was interesting. I thought that Jane did some fantastic work digging into Lilith’s background. And once it was exposed, I was surprised. I wasn’t expecting the storyline to go in the direction it did.

The end of Shampoo & Condition was interesting and exciting. I loved how the author tied everything together. The author also released a couple of small twists in the plotline at the end of the book. A couple I saw coming, but one (and it concerned Lilith) I didn’t see coming at all.

Three Reasons Why You Should Read Shampoo & Condition:

  1. The book was short—-only 101 pages
  2. Readers can read it as a standalone
  3. The mystery kept me guessing to the end.

Three Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Read Shampoo & Condition

  1. A semi-love triangle is hinted at in the book. I wasn’t a fan of it.
  2. How Lilith took everyone for a ride. I was so mad about that!!
  3. Viv and her sisters’ plot.

I would recommend Shampoo & Condition to anyone over 16. There is mild language, mild violence, and no sex.

WWW Wednesday: November 23rd, 2022

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:

Thursday—Nothing too much happened. I started watching Love and Anarchy (a Swedish series) on Netflix. It is hilarious but also VERY raunchy. A lot of sex going on in this show.

FridayMiss R marched with her 4H Club in our city’s Christmas parade. It is a massive affair for our city, bringing hundreds of people downtown. Miss R did a great job throwing candy and marching. She can’t wait to do it next year. Miss B was a little jealous. Last year, she marched with the now-defunct Junior ROTC. But, still, we had a good time.

Saturday—We went to Sam’s Club and then Food Lion. We needed to pick up the last odds and ends for our Thanksgiving dinner. After that, we hung out at home and watched TV.

Sunday—-It was Mr. Z’s birthday!! He turned 15. We had cake (no ice cream since 3 out of the 5 people in our family are lactose intolerant) and presents. He got a coffee mug that turns into his favorite anime when hot, The Stand by Stephen King, and a couple of gift cards from my brother, his family, and my parents. He also got a cookie basket from BK’s mom, a Keurig machine purchased last week, plus a jacket/jeans/pants bought at Sam’s on Saturday.

Monday—It was busy, believe it or not. I had a parent/teacher conference with Miss R’s teacher. She’s doing great but needs to stop doodling. Our leaf service (provided by the city) came by and sucked up the leaves we raked/blew to the curb. There were many (we have 3 huge oak trees in the yard). After I got Miss R from school, we headed to a local barn to work with mini-ponies. The owner uses them as therapy horses and is looking to implement an educational program. The kids will read out words/read to them/or do math equations with the horses. It is supposed to help the kids with retention. Miss R loves doing it and interacting with horses that are small than her. Her riding instructor (who is involved) thinks it is a good way to get her confidence up with the bigger horses.

Tuesday—Nothing too much happened. It was almost like the calm before the storm (with Thanksgiving coming up on Thursday). I did a bunch of laundry and cleaning.

The longest book I read this week: The Boy in the Mirror. It took me all weekend to finish. I couldn’t get into it.

The shortest book I read this week: The Prisoner by B.A. Paris. I devoured this book. I started it last night and finished it this morning (I read it while eating breakfast).

I decided to make a Giveaways shelf on Goodreads. It is mostly for me to track what I have won. I did win one book this week, The Stranded by Sarah Daniels.

I haven’t been updating my old posts. I have been too busy watching Love and Anarchy during the day and The Game of Thrones at night (with On Patrol Live on Friday and Saturday nights). I am going to try and squeeze in time.

I am still behind on reviews, but I am not sweating it. I am getting the reviews for my indie authors done in the promised time frame. The reviews for my NetGalley books are also getting done, but it varies. I am either ahead or behind. Depends on the book’s publication date. But, to repeat myself, I am not stressing over it.

So that’s the essential 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:


What I am currently reading:


What books I think I’ll read next:

Mostly Human 2 by D.I. Jolly

Publisher: Tinpot Publishing

Date of publication: November 21st, 2020

Genre: Shapeshifters, Werewolves, Paranormal

Series: Mostly Human

Mostly Human—Book 1 (review here)

Mostly Human 2—Book 2

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

I, Alex Harris, have run away from home.

I’m running from my problems, from my mistakes, and from myself.

I killed some people and I don’t think anyone is chasing me, but I can’t stop running, and as much as I miss the people I love. I feel like if I go home now, I’ll be going back empty-handed.

I have to find out more about this curse, where it comes from and what it really means to be a werewolf.

Because the truth is…

The truth is that when I stop and really look at myself. I’ve been running my whole life.

Maybe it’s time to stop.


First Line:

Well, I spent two weeks on that ship before it docked again in Bergen on the west coast of Norway – turns out that’s where Syn gets most of its milk.

Mostly Human 2 by D.I. Jolly

I was surprised when I got an email from the author asking me if I would like to read/review Mostly Human 2. It had been some time since I had reviewed Mostly Human (to be precise, May 01, 2017). He had emailed me during the pandemic’s beginning, but I didn’t answer the email. I was busy teaching three upset and confused kids (at the time: 14, 12, and 6). When I decided to start reviewing, I had forgotten about the email (sorry, D.I.!!). I went on my merry way, reviewing books. So, it was a given that I would accept the email. I enjoyed reading Mostly Human and wanted to know where Alex’s journey would take him. I wasn’t disappointed.

Mostly Human 2 starts two weeks after the events of the previous book. Looking for solace, Alex finds himself in Norway and soon makes his way to a wolf sanctuary. For six months, Alex lives in solitude, trying to heal from the events that made him leave Syn Island. But things change when a group of veterinary students arrives, and Alex finds himself falling for Cassandra, the only girl in the group. But secrets have a habit of not staying secrets. Alex soon finds his deepest secrets exposed when his sister shows up, and a group of werewolf hunters hones in on him. Those events send Alex on a journey to find the werewolf who bit him so he can understand why it happened. But Alex isn’t prepared for what he finds. What does Alex find? And more importantly, can Alex come to terms with the new information he learns?

Mostly Human 2 is the 2nd book in the Mostly Human duology. I do recommend reading Mostly Human first and then reading this book. Many of the backstories and characters are explained in Book 1. They will help understand the dynamics and relationships in book 2.

Mostly Human 2 had a medium pace to it. For me, it worked. I could digest some of the information thrown at me before moving on. This book also took place in various areas of Europe, Canada, and Russia. I loved seeing the international flavor of the book.

The characters in Mostly Human 2 were complex. They were well-fleshed-out individuals that kept my attention focused on the book. Of course, there were some that I was not too fond of more than others.

  • Alex—I found him just as intriguing as I did in the first book. I understood why he disappeared. At the end of book one, bad things happen to him, and he feels awful. Plus, Syn Island wasn’t a great place to hide being a werewolf (but honestly, neither was the sanctuary). I understood why he wanted answers and his despair when he found out what he found out. I would have reacted the same way.
  • Cassandra—I couldn’t stand her. I have never reacted so severely to a fictional character as I did with her. She came across as an immature twatwaffle who couldn’t handle anything. Her fits of screaming at Alex were awful. I did understand why, at first, who likes to be lied to? But she just kept going on and on. I was glad when she broke it off with him. I got a headache reading her scenes.
  • Annabel—I loved her. She was a steadfast supporter of Alex (along with his father). She was very supportive of everything Alex did but didn’t hesitate to tell him when he was wrong. Their relationship was unique.

There are way too many secondary characters for me to name in this review. They all added extra depth to the plotline.

Mostly Human 2 fits perfectly into the paranormal genre. The author did a great twist on the werewolf subgenre, and I loved it.

The author amazingly wrote the main storyline with Alex, his family, and the other werewolves. One werewolf was a little suspect to me (the torture scene with Alex and the fact that he founded the hunters). But everything washed out in the end.

There are several (and I stress several) secondary storylines that tie into the main one. Again, as with the characters, these storylines added extra depth to scenes that needed it.

I went back and forth about adding content/trigger warnings to this review. I decided that I would because of what happened to Alex (the torture scene) towards the end of the book. So, yes, there is a trigger warning. If you are triggered by torture, cheating, or drinking alcohol, I recommend not reading this book.

The end of Mostly Human 2 made me wonder if there would be a book 3. I will not go into it, but I can’t accept that Alex would do what he did. That’s all I will say.

Three things I liked about Mostly Human 2:

  1. A different take on a werewolf story
  2. The various locations Alex went to
  3. Alex’s relationship with his family, found family, and friends.

Three things I didn’t like about Mostly Human 2:

  1. Cassandra. Her tantrums were epic, and she constantly screamed, “you lied to me.” She grated on my one last nerve during all of her scenes.
  2. The torture scene. I felt awful for Alex. What a way to learn something significant about yourself.
  3. His best friend’s wife. I remember her from the previous book and didn’t like her. I must say that she got what was coming to her.

I would recommend Mostly Human 2 to anyone over 21. There is language, nongraphic sexual situations, and violence. Also, see my trigger/content warning.


If you enjoyed reading Mostly Human 2, you will enjoy reading these books:

Goodreads Monday: A Promise of Home (Lake Howling: Book 1) by Wendy Vella

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.


Reclusive. Grumpy. Irresistible.

Dr. Jake McBride loves two things in life. His people, and chicken cheesy-crust pies. Returning from Iraq, he’s done with medicine and strangers… in fact, life. He knows all about trauma, and plans on dealing with it, his own way. His needs are simple, solitude and working on his new career as the town recluse. The only problem with that… well two actually, are the interfering towns folk of Lake Howling, and Branna O’Donnell. He’s damn sure that her return means nothing to him… until it does!

His first mistake was kissing her. His second was doing it again.

Branna O’Donnell is burnt out and needs a place to stop running. Strange how that place is back where she’d once been happy. Settling in to small town life again comes with complications and the biggest has a serious attitude. Once the town golden boy, Jake McBride now wears a permanent snarl, not that anyone but her seems to notice the sexy doctor has changed.

Sharing a bed complicates things but no way is Jake leaving Branna alone until they find who is threatening her, and even then he’s not sure he’ll be able to walk away. He can feel himself changing, and it’s all on her, but when her past comes calling with it comes the realization that more than lust is involved. He’s not sure he can be her hero but he knows he wants to try.

If you enjoy your small town romance sizzling with a side of crazy, then Lake Howling is for you. Meet the real authority in town – the local book club – and Jake’s interfering hot friends. Swim (or skinny dip!) in the ice cold lake, then warm up with coffee and a mystery muffin at The Hoot Café. Plenty of feels and LOLS, all wrapped up in a town that will have you packing your bags to head there, from the very first page.

A Maiden of Snakes by Jane McGarry

Publisher: JM Books

Date of publication: August 28th, 2022

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

When Marchioness Lamberico fails to conceive a child, she solicits the help of Imelda, the village witch. Nine months later, she gives birth to a baby girl. Biancabella. Though perfect in every other way, the infant is born with a snake wrapped around her neck. To the relief of the marchioness, the creature vanishes at once and, in the joy of motherhood, is soon forgotten. When Biancabella is a young girl, the snake reappears and explains their uncommon sisterhood. Samaritana helps Biancabella unlock her magical gifts and asserts that so long as they are together, all will be well. Their close, though secret, relationship unites them above all others. Years pass, the sisters contented, until the day King Ferrandino of Naples arrives, seeking Biancabella’s hand in marriage. What follows shatters the sisters’ bond, leading to misfortune and betrayal, which forces them to grapple with not only the loss of their connection, but leaves each fighting for her life. Loosely based on the Italian fairy tale Biancabella and the Snake, the story explores how the love can transform from a domineering and covetous power to authenticity and, ultimately, redemption.


First Line:

The day was perfect, a warm spring sun in a cloudless sky.

A Maiden of Snakes by Jane McGarry

When I got the invite to review A Maiden of Snakes, I hesitated to accept the invite for the review. The blurb didn’t stand out to me. After taking a couple of days to think about it, I accepted the invitation. My reason was this: My blog started off reviewing indie authors, and I have made it a point to accept any/all invites that come across my inbox. Well, I am glad I accepted because this book was excellent!!!

A Maiden of Snakes had an exciting storyline. Biancabella is the much-loved child of lesser Italian nobility. A miracle child, she was born with a snake wrapped around her neck. When she was ten, she met with her snake sister (Samaritana) and completed a bonding ritual. But that ritual comes with a price. Biancabella must always stay with her Samaritana. If she does, life will be great. But if they are separated, then bad things will happen to Biancabella. Biancabella doesn’t heed Samaritana’s warning and is married to the King of Naples. Intrigue follows her to court, where her stepmother-in-law looks at her as someone to get rid of. When a deadly sickness overtakes the city, her stepmother-in-law jumps, she has Biancabella kidnapped and leaves instructions for her to be killed. Samaritana interrupts Biancabella’s killer, but it is almost too late. The assassin had cut off her hands. What will happen to Biancabella? Will she and Samaritana make up? Or will Biancabella live with the kindly woodcutter and his family forever? And, more importantly, will the evil stepmother get away with everything she has done?

A Maiden of Snakes is a fast-paced book set in medieval Italy. This book takes place in Monferrato and Naples. I enjoyed seeing glimpses of what these cities were like back in medieval times.

The characters of A Maiden were Snakes were interesting. But I did find them a little underdeveloped.

Biancabella: I liked her but found her almost too innocent and trusting. I also didn’t like that she could easily brush off Samaritana’s concerns because “she was in love.” Towards the end of the book, I found her character much more engaging than the innocent little miss portrayed until the assassin took her from the castle.

Samaritana: I liked her also and thought she was very wise in some ways. But her jealousy when Biancabella met and married Ferrandino got on my nerves. I had wished that elder snakes had stayed to advise her. I also felt that her jealousy caused a lot of Biancabella’s issues when she was in Naples. But Samaritana did come through when Biancabella needed her.

Ferrandino: He annoyed the ever living out of me. How could he not see what his stepmother was doing? How could he not see what she did to his father? And when faced with Biancabella’s stepsister (who was forced to take her place), why didn’t he SAY SOMETHING!!! I was so annoyed with him; it wasn’t even funny. Of course, he did make up for it in the end.

The Stepmother: She was one of the evilest, vile villains to grace the pages of a book. Everything she did in A Maiden of Snakes was for her. She showed no mercy to Biancabella when the plague hit the castle. She knew Biancabella was pregnant and STILL told the mercenary to kill her. She got what she deserved and then some at the end of the book.

The Woodcutter and His Family: Besides Biancabella, he was one of the book’s only good people. He found a critically injured and maimed young woman and brought her back to his house to nurse her back to health. They were prepared to take care of her for the rest of her life (even if Biancabella did have other plans). And when the author revealed Biancabella’s identity (along with Samaritana), they helped to get Biancabella back into Ferrandino’s life (and get rid of the stepmother). They were the MVPs of this book.

A Maiden of Snakes has many secondary characters that flesh out the storylines. They made the scenes more enjoyable (and sometimes sad) to read. There were some that I wished stayed in the story (the elder snakes, for one).

I wasn’t entirely sure what genre to put A Maiden of Snakes. I decided upon Young Adult (Biancabella was around 18), Fantasy (Samaritana did have magic, as did Biancabella), and Romance (Biancabella’s love for Ferrandino and his for her). Romance, I am still undecided. I want to say yes because of the love they had for each other, but at the same time, I want to say no. I do feel that this book fits very well into the young adult and fantasy genres.

Oh yes, before I forget, this entire book was based on the Italian fairytale (Biancabella and the Snake) by Giovanni Francesco Straperola for his book The Facetious Nights.

I liked the storyline with Biancabella and Samaritana. I wish more time had been spent with them, not apart, but I understood the author was following the fairytale.

The storyline with Ferrandino, Biancabella, and his stepmother was sad. There was a point in that storyline where I thought Ferrandino wouldn’t get his HEA with Biancabella. I felt the stepmother got everything coming to her and then some. So, yes, I was thrilled when everything came to a head at the end of the book.

Some trigger warnings do need to be discussed in A Maiden of Snakes. They would be infertility, abandonment (Samaritana’s elder snakes), child abuse (stepmother beating her daughters), a graphic scene where Biancabella’s hands are cut off, and she is beaten, and what happened to the stepmother. If any of these triggers you, I recommend not reading this book.

The end of A Maiden of Snakes was your typical fairytale ending. Everyone got their HEA. I am hoping that Samaritana gets hers in another book.

Three things I liked about A Maiden of Snakes:

  1. It takes place in medieval Italy
  2. Biancabella and Samaritana’s relationship
  3. Based on a fairytale

Three things I didn’t like about A Maiden of Snakes

  1. Samaritana’s jealousy
  2. The stepmother
  3. The blurb/cover

I would recommend A Maiden of Snakes to anyone over 21. There is no sex or language but graphic violence. Also, see my trigger warnings.


If you enjoyed reading A Maiden of Snakes, you will enjoy reading these books:

Wicked Bleu: Simone Doucet Series Book 2 by E. Denise Billups

Publisher: Next Chapter Publishing

Date of publication: October 10th, 2022

Series: Simone Doucet

Tainted Harvest—Book 1

Wicked Bleu—Book 2

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Paranormal

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | AbeBooks | Alibris | IndieBound | Kobo

Goodreads Synopsis:

A 103-year-old murder mystery.

An amateur ghost sleuth.

Can a wrong be rectified in death?

Eight months ago, Simone experienced her first spectral encounter. It awakened a dormant second sight and opened a chasm to the afterlife. Now, another spirit from 1917 New Orleans has wandered through that passage, haunting her with an intoxicating jasmine fragrance and wicked antics.

To escape this mysterious ghost, Simone jumps at a seven-day complimentary Mardi Gras hotel package, unaware there might be an ancestral power behind her decision, an identity she grapples with.

Is the ghost’s name Bleu?

She’s a lady of the night who lived a dangerous life in the infamous Storyville. A place lined with mansion-like brothels on the edge of the French Quarter run by unscrupulous madams and frequented by dangerous criminals. WWI is on the horizon, jazz music is burgeoning, and Bleu’s life unravels.

Visions of her past and horrific death beset Simone as she explores present-day New Orleans with her three roommates.

But why are the images fragmented? Has Bleu forgotten what happened the stormy night she died? Can Simone uncover Bleu’s murderer and reunite her with her loved ones before it’s too late?


First Line:

Knock-Knock, Knock-Knock! “I’m here. Can’t you hear me?”

Wicked Bleu by E. Denise Billups

I like reading paranormal suspense/mystery/thriller. This reflects in the books that I review. If I get a request to review a book in any of those genres, I will accept it. That was the case with Wicked Bleu. I read the synopsis, and I knew that I was going to love it. And guess what, I did!!

Wicked Bleu had an exciting plotline. Eight months previously, Simone had dormant powers awakened, and she could connect with the dead. A new ghost from 1917 is taunting her with its presence. Unnerved, Simone takes a trip to New Orleans with her roommates but finds that the encounters intensify, and they turn in an unexpected direction. On the cusp of the Covid 19 pandemic that shut down the country, Simone must unravel a century-old murder. Who was Bleu? Who killed her? And more importantly, what is Simone’s connection to her?

Wicked Bleu is the second book in the Simone Doucet series. I never say this, but readers can read this as a stand-alone. I would recommend reading book one, but it isn’t needed.

I am going to put up a trigger warning for this book. I went back and forth on it for a little bit while writing my notes. I decided to include it because of the subject matter and some scenes in the brothel. There is a scene of attempted rape, mentions of rape and bearing a child of rape, the beating and murder of the main character, comments of a serial killer in Storyville, drug use (opium), and descriptions of the beginning of the Covid 19 pandemic. If any of these trigger you, I recommend not reading Wicked Bleu.

Wicked Bleu is a fast-paced book. I read it in one night, mainly because I didn’t want to put it down. I did pay for it the next day, but it was worth it. Also worth it was the locations where the book took place. The beginning of the book takes place in an apartment in Brooklyn and the rest in New Orleans. I loved it. Having never been to Mardi Gras, I was living through the characters when they were at the parades. I also loved the descriptions of 1917 New Orleans and the colorful Storyville.

The main characters complimented the book and added extra depth to the plotline.

Simone: I enjoyed her character. She wasn’t perfect, but I wouldn’t have liked her if she was. She didn’t want her gift (I wouldn’t have either, she blacks out), but at the same time, she learned to embrace it in this book.

Bleu: She wasn’t someone I particularly liked at first. She came across as selfish and manipulative. Add in that she possessed Simone’s friend Stacey (a huge no-no). But, after the possession, I started to see a different side to her. All she wanted was to find out who murdered her, reconnect with the love of her life, and get her daughter’s forgiveness. It was at that point that I started to like her.

The secondary characters complicated the main characters. The only ones I didn’t like were Jude (he was very distant for most of the book), Bleu (for reasons stated above), and the person who killed Bleu (spoiler if I gave the name away).

Wicked Bleu is a paranormal mystery with a bit of suspense added to it. The author kept me guessing who the killer was (I figured it out shortly before Simone did) and that person’s motives. As for the paranormal angle, I enjoyed seeing a different take on ghosts and Bleu possessing Stacey. It fits very well within those genres.

The main storyline with Simone, Bleu, and Bleu’s murder was well written. Like I said above, I kept guessing who the murderer was (at one point, I did think a client killed her). I also loved the descriptions of 2020 and 1917 New Orleans. It has reignited a desire to visit there and visit.

The storyline with Simone, Bleu, Bleu’s daughter, Bleu’s fiance, and Bleu’s former best friend broke my heart. I did have a hard time following it (and not because of how it was written but because I kept getting interrupted). But once I got all of my distractions settled (cough9yearoldwhowouldnotgotobedcough), I could better focus on it. And that storyline broke my heart. I was alternately sad, angry, and triumphant (you know why if you have read the book).

I couldn’t believe the ending. The author wrapped everything up in a way that I loved. And then she did something unexpected. It was a cliffhanger, and I couldn’t believe what I had read. I cannot wait to see what Simone will do!! It has made me all fired up for the next book.

Three things I liked about Wicked Bleu:

  1. The characters. They were all well-written and had distinct personalities.
  2. The location. New Orleans has been on my must-visit list for years.
  3. The end. Talk about not expecting what happened!!

Three things I disliked about Wicked Bleu:

  1. Bleu’s possession of Stacey. It proved to be dangerous.
  2. Bleu’s daughter’s backstory. I felt bad for that child and everything she had been through.
  3. Who killed Bleu. That person deserved everything that they got!!

I would recommend Wicked Bleu to anyone over 21. There are no graphic sex scenes (most were implied or nongraphic). There was language and violence. See also my trigger warning.


If you enjoyed reading Wicked Bleu, you will enjoy reading these books: