December 2022 Wrap Up

Here is what I read/posted in December.

As always, let me know if you have read any of these books and (if you did) what you thought of them.


Books I Read:

Review Coming January 3rd
Review coming January 13th
No Review
No Review
No Review
No Review
No Review
No Review
No Review
No Review
No Review
No Review
No Review
No Review
No Review

Books I got from NetGalley:

Random House—Ballantine Books Widget
Saint Martin’s Press Widget
SMPG Influencer Widget
SMPG Widget
Random House Ballantine Widget
SMPG Widget
SMP Widget
SMP Widget
Wish Granted From Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine
Blackstone Publishing Widget

Books I got from Authors/Indie Publishers:

From AME Publicist
From AME Publicist
From Author
From Authors
From Author
From Author

Goodreads Giveaway Winners

Won Kindle edition

Books Reviewed:

All Dressed Up by Jilly Gagnon—review here

The Prisoner by B.A. Paris—review here

Before You Knew My Name by Jacqueline Bublitz—review here

Little Eve by Catriona Ward—review here

The Villa by Rachel Hawkins—review coming January 3rd

All the Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham–review coming January 10th

The Sylvan Horn by Robert Redinger—review here

The Split by Sharon Bolton—review here

The Catch by Jenna Miles—review here

The Bodyguard by Katherine Coulter—review here

Cathedral of Time by Stephen Austin Thorpe—review here

Don’t Look For Me by Wendy Walker—review here

Souk Daddy by Antony Curtis—review here

Affinity for Pain by R.E. Johnson—review here

A Wicked Game by Kate Bateman—review here

Son of the Poison Rose by Jonathan Maberry—review coming January 13th

The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff—review coming January 6th

Bookish Travels—December 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 initially posting this!!

This post is what it says: Places I travel to in books each month. Books are lovely 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).


Scotland

Loyal (Village), Island of Altnaharra

India

Geeta’s unnamed village, Kohra

United States

Texas (Houston)
Kentucky (Brownsville–past + present)
California (San Francisco)
California
Connecticut (Hastings)
Georgia (Atlanta), Florida (Silver Bay, Varnedoe)
New York (Newborn City)
Arizona (Flagstaff, Sedona), Wyoming (Yellowstone National Park), California (Los Angeles, Encino, Westwood, Aladorio), Georgia (Athens), Nevada (Franklin Lake, Sierra Nevada Mountains), Utah (Salt Lake City), Indiana
Portents
Unknown City/State
Nevada (East Las Vegas)
Minnesota (unnamed domed city, G-town)
Arizona (Flagstaff)
California (Los Angeles)
Ohio (Columbus), Colorado (Telluride)
Arizona (Tucson, Dove Valley)
New York (New York City)

Agartha

Mount Olympus, River Styx, Hades (the Underworld)

Italy

Rome (Ancient)
Florence, Tuscany

Silver Empire

Argon (Argentium), Straits of Anthelos, Haddon Bay

Samud

Western Reach

Theria


Nelfydia


Vespia


Canada


England

Victorian London
Cornwall (Penry)
Derbyshire (Leacroft)
London

Australia

New South Wales

France

Paris
Villon-sur-Sarthe, Le Mans, Paris

Marsyas

Marsyas Island

Cathedral of Time (The World of Agartha: Book 1) by Stephen Austin Thorpe

Publisher: Creating History

Date of publication: April 10th, 2018

Genre: Middle Grade, Fiction, Historical, Fantasy, Mythology

Series: The World of Agartha

Cathedral of Light—Book 1

Toquchar’s Prisoner—Book 2

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | Alibris | Powells | Indigo | BetterWorldBooks

Goodreads Synopsis:

Ghostly sightings of a legendary murderer. The discovery of a hidden stash from a bank robbery. The disappearance of a well-known TV personality, and the most prominent family in town entangled in all of it. Makayla Brown’s ideal life is about to be blown to smithereens. She’ll need to race across space and time, plunging herself into another world in hopes of saving her own. When Makayla disappears off the face of the Earth, the dedication of her two best friends, Tanner and Andrew, will be tested as they attempt to follow her trail through a dangerous new world and encounter beasts and beings the likes of which they’ve never seen. Will they reach Makayla in time to rescue her from certain death and bring her safely home, or will they be doomed to spend eternity in their new world, sealed by the rule of the fates?

Author Stephen Austin Thorpe, the son of a school teacher who made magic with her words by varying intonations and playing with pronunciation to add dramatic flare, grew up loving words. But it wasn’t until he sat down to document the flow of a video game he planned to create that he realized how much he loved to write. And so Cathedral of Time, the first in The World of Agartha series, was born. Stephen’s love for Ancient Rome, and history in general, grew from his service as a 19-year old missionary in modern-day Rome. Stephen lives in Utah with his wife Maria and daughters Jenny and Mary.


First Line:

Makayla “Mick” Brown was about as all-American of a girl as there was at Edmonson County Middle School.

Cathedral of Time by Stephen Austin Thorpe

It had been a minute since I had read a middle-grade book. When I read them, I usually do because I am checking the content for my 9-year-old daughter. So, when the email came from the author asking me to read and review this book, I did hesitate. But, what ultimately made me choose to review Cathedral of Time was that this book used Augmented Reality as part of the plotline. I had only read one other book that used this and was curious to see how it would go with the book. I am glad that I did. The book was a good read, and the augmented reality was fantastic!!

The author provided me with an app that went with the book. The app is Xperience Books. It is free and can be used with iPhones and Android phones. You need to register with the app, which takes about 5 minutes. But once you are registered, you can scan the QR codes supplied at the end of each chapter. I did a few chapters (with the QR codes) and found the content quite good. There was AR (I brought one up with a bear. It stood on my dining room table….lol), voice clips from the different characters, filters (the one I tried was Tanner’s baseball hat), links to the cave mentioned in the book (it is real) and links to book merch. This app was a plus and made my reading experience more fun.

There are some triggers in the Cathedral of Time. They are the death of a sibling, divorce, verbal and maybe emotional abuse of a child, and depression. The author does spend some time on all of these (mainly because they happen to one child), and he writes about them respectfully. If you are triggered by these or feel that your child will be, I suggest not reading this book.

Cathedral of Time is a medium-paced book that takes place in quite a few places. I loved the pacing of this book. It was just fast enough for me to enjoy the action scenes but also slow enough for me to process everything. I loved the locations where this book took place. It took place in Kentucky (past and present). But, as soon as the kids found the portal, the book shifted location to a different world that led them to Mount Olympus, the River Styx, and Ancient Rome.

The three main characters were well-written. They acted like tweens, and I loved it. Any book where the kids act their age instead of years older immediately gets bonus brownie points.

  • Makayla—I loved her. She was resourceful and determined to solve the mystery of her ancestor. But, simultaneously, she was embarrassed by what he did. I did feel bad when her huge secret got out. I didn’t think that Tanner or Andrew ratted on her. Something else must have happened. I did get irritated with her when she set off by herself. She was mad and decided she would be the only one to solve the mystery of her ancestor. And that did come back to bite her in the butt, big time.
  • Tanner—My heart broke for him. This poor child endured more than anyone should at his age. The guilt over his sister dying ate at him, as did how his father treated him. Everything manifested in him trying to be the best at everything just so his father would say something nice. I wanted to cry during his chapters. His self-esteem and self-worth weren’t there. But the author did something in the middle of his and Andrew’s storyline that made me smile. He made Tanner realize his self-worth.
  • Andrew—I didn’t know a lot about him. He was a bit of an enigma. All I knew was that he was uber-rich, intelligent, and a very loyal friend to Makayla and Tanner. Other than that, nada. I hope that more is revealed about him in the next book because I feel there is more to him than what is shown.

There were a ton of notable secondary characters. The author included regular made-up characters (Mick’s mom and dad, the sheriff, and Tanner’s mom). He also included, which I loved, figures from mythology and history. Jupiter, Hades, Persephone, Demeter, and Nero appear in the book. The secondary characters made this book much more fleshed out and three-dimensional.

Cathedral of Time was a mishmash of genres, so I can’t just pin it down to one. It fits into the genres of middle grade, fiction, history, and fantasy. There is also a Christian angle to the book. The author gave an excellent overview of Christianity and how it survived in Ancient Rome without being too preachy.

The storyline with Mick and her journey to prove her ancestor’s innocence was engaging. I felt awful that Mick felt her father was up to something shady. But, in her defense, he was acting shady. Then when she found out about who she was related to, it was almost too much for her. I felt she was reckless when she set off alone in Agartha. But the adventures she had and the advice she was given were priceless. There were a couple of twists in her storyline that I saw coming. But it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of seeing where she went and who she met.

The storyline with Tanner and Andrew was just as good as Mick’s. They were on a rescue mission and determined to get to Mick no matter what. They did go about getting to Mount Olympus differently than Mick did. They traveled down the River Styx, met Persephone, traversed a bottomless pit, and beat Hades to reach Ancient Rome. I disagreed with them messing with history, though. Or what happened when they tried to get Mick out of prison. I will say that Nero was pretty scary (he might be too frightening for younger readers). The twist at the end of their storyline was pretty good.

The end of the Cathedral of Time was interesting. I wasn’t exactly thrilled with what Mick’s mother said about Tanner and Andrew. The author did wrap up a couple of the storylines but left the main ones wide open. I also am interested in what happens in the next book.

I recommend Cathedral of Time to anyone over 10 (with a parent) or 12 (without a parent). There is mild violence, very mild language, and the triggers I mentioned above.

I want to thank the author, Stephen Austin Thorpe, for allowing me to read and review this free book. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

Xperience Books app is available for iOS and Android.

WWW Wednesday: December 7th, 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: Not a lot happened around here. I started getting my kids big Christmas gifts in and trying to find good hiding spots. I found out that two games I play (Disney’s Dreamlight Valley and Planet Zoo) are having updates. Disney’s was today (and it was free!!) and Planet Zoo’s is next week (hello armadillos!!!). Also, BK is getting me the Kindle Scribed for Christmas. I can’t wait!! I am getting him a deep fryer that cleans and recycles the oil.

Friday: Miss R didn’t have horseback riding. Her instructor went to a trainer conference, and we rescheduled for Sunday. Miss B went to her winter formal. She had a blast!!

Saturday: We took Miss B to Sams Club to finally get her glasses prescription filled. She was thrilled. Other than that, we hung out all day.

Sunday: Miss R had horseback with the older (think 15-17) girls. She did well and cantered. She is still too unsure to jump the rails.

Monday: I spent all day Monday fighting with Tony. He decided that he belongs outside and jets whenever the front door opens. Super frustrating, but I know he will grow out of it. I also spent some of it breaking up fights between Snickers and Loki. She has decided not to like him this week. Which means she chases him down every time she sees him.

Tuesday: Miss R had an orthodontist appointment. We found out that she might be getting her braces off soon. Also, on a sadder note, her main orthodontist is retiring. I was very sad about that. He did wonders with Miss B’s teeth. But the other orthodontist is just as good.

The longest book I read this week: Was a tie between The Bandit Queens and Cathedral of Time. I couldn’t get into The Bandit Queens at first. The Cathedral of Time was long for a different reason. It is connected to an app that scanned a QR code at the end of each chapter. It was very interesting and time-consuming (which is great for younger kids)

The shortest book I read this week: Was The Bodyguard. Someone told me that I would love this book and laugh at it. I did!!!

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:

Ghostly sightings of a legendary murderer. The discovery of a hidden stash from a bank robbery. The disappearance of a well-known TV personality, and the most prominent family in town entangled in all of it. Makayla Brown’s ideal life is about to be blown to smithereens. She’ll need to race across space and time, plunging herself into another world in hopes of saving her own. When Makayla disappears off the face of the Earth, the dedication of her two best friends, Tanner and Andrew, will be tested as they attempt to follow her trail through a dangerous new world and encounter beasts and beings the likes of which they’ve never seen. Will they reach Makayla in time to rescue her from certain death and bring her safely home, or will they be doomed to spend eternity in their new world, sealed by the rule of the fates?

Author Stephen Austin Thorpe, the son of a school teacher who made magic with her words by varying intonations and playing with pronunciation to add dramatic flare, grew up loving words. But it wasn’t until he sat down to document the flow of a video game he planned to create that he realized how much he loved to write. And so Cathedral of Time, the first in The World of Agartha series, was born. Stephen’s love for Ancient Rome, and history in general, grew from his service as a 19-year old missionary in modern-day Rome. Stephen lives in Utah with his wife Maria and daughters Jenny and Mary.


What I am currently reading:

Cover is from Amazon.

Newly single, Julia Dunphy is back in San Francisco with her kids. Julia’s new work in an aquarium shop unearths old memories of a whale watching business she once imagined, and of William Quinn, the man she imagined it with. When she learns that William has made a success of their ideas, she wonders if it’s too late to finally make a success of their relationship. But Julia’s already blown her first two chances at happiness with William, so a third one seems like wishful thinking. Then she learns that William’s family is drowning in medical bills, and she uses her prowess as a former paralegal to stick it to the insurance company. When William shows up to thank her, she dares to wonder – is a third chance with him possible, after all?


What books I think I’ll read next:

Bailey Flynn has always been the resident country music star in her small town of Oak Plains, Pennsylvania. But ever since tragedy struck six years ago, she hasn’t sung a single note or picked up her treasured guitar.

Bailey returns home to find an open slot at the annual summer concert waiting for her to fill it. Her past makes her hesitant to rise to the occasion, despite her sister’s insistence. It isn’t until she sees a familiar face from high school that she begins to let hope—and music—into her heart again. He might just be the fresh start she needs…or a bitter reminder of the past she’s worked so hard to forget.

Five children in prison, five sets of parents who would do anything to protect them, one chance to break them out.

It’s 2037 and after a nationwide campaign following the increase in prisoner death rate, the system has gone fully automatic. Every inmate is on their own with each cell a box of isolation. The juvenile correction facilities are functional, cold and impersonal yet impecable, a stark contrast to the adult institutions where suicide and collapse of mental health for the youth transfering is almost inevitable.

With an iminent transfer date, the clock is ticking. But with an impenetrable prison, long standing feuds and skeletons in the closet, will these strangers ever be able to work together to formulate and execute a plan to save their children whilst keeping their families intact?

Son of the Poison Rose marks the second installment of New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry’s epic, swashbuckling Kagen the Damned series.

The Silver Empire is in ruins. War is in the wind. Kagen and his allies are on the run from the Witch-king. Wild magic is running rampant everywhere. Spies and secret cabals plot from the shadows of golden thrones.

Kagen Vale is the most wanted man in the world, with a death sentence on his head and a reward for him—dead or alive—that would tempt a saint.

The Witch-king has new allies who bring a terrible weapon—a cursed disease that drives people into a murderous rage. If the disease is allowed to spread, the whole of the West will tear itself apart.

In order to build an army of resistance fighters and unearth magical weapons of his own, Kagen and his friends have to survive attacks and storms at sea, brave the haunted wastelands of the snowy north, fight their way across the deadly Cathedral Mountains, and rediscover a lost city filled with cannibal warriors, old ghosts, and monsters from other worlds. Along with his reckless adventurer brothers, Kagen races against time to save more than the old empire… if he fails the world will be drenched in a tsunami of bloodshed and horror.

Son of the Poison Rose weaves politics and espionage, sorcery and swordplay, treachery and heroism as the damned outcast Kagen fights against the forces of ultimate darkness.

Perfect for fans of J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series and Keri Lake’s
Nightshade, Affinity for Pain is a dark paranormal romance that is steamy,
action-packed, and full of emotional intrigue.

Hope Turner is the ideal human-hunting assassin, and she is damn good at her job. A daughter of the Chakal, a race of hybrid demons lacking physical sensation and
emotion, Hope was always brutally efficient in her work. She never struggled with a case, that is, until she was assigned to take down Ciaran O-Connor – a stubborn,
strong-willed bodyguard with a dark past and severe PTSD.

He also happens to be her soulmate.

When the omaeriku – an inescapable soulmate bond – takes hold of her, Hope is hit with a wave of emotion and physical sensation for the first time in her life. Finding herself unable to kill Ciaran and ending up on her former boss’s hit list, Hope and Ciaran must escape into hiding. Immediately, the chemistry between Hope and Ciaran is electric. However, they must try to direct their focus on finding a way to take down Marcus Dentry, their newfound common enemy, who was both Hope’s former boss and Ciaran’s former captor and torturer.

However, as they spend more time together and succumb to their physical desire for each other, the newfound emotion and pain brought forth by the soulmate bond begin to overwhelm Hope. Can Hope learn to handle her sudden emotions, both the good and the bad, before it drives her away from the only person who can make her feel? And can Hope and Ciaran track down Marcus and exact their revenge before he gets to them first?

Inspired by the works of authors like Robin McKinley and Neil Gaiman, Affinity for
Pain is a great next read for smut-lovers seeking a romance that includes action,
intimate vulnerability, and electric chemistry. Click “Add to Cart!” today!

WWW Wednesday: November 30th, 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: Well, obviously, it was Thanksgiving….lol. It was also Miss B’s birthday. She’s 17 (and no, I can’t believe it!!) We had brined turkey, ham, potatoes, stuffing, turnips mixed with carrots, and rolls. For dessert, we had pumpkin pie. We enjoyed the parade and the dog show (a tradition in our house), and we chilled for the rest of the day.

Friday: We didn’t do much of anything. We went to Sams Club (I needed gas in my car). Miss R had an abbreviated horseback riding lesson (half hour) and that was it.

Saturday: BK and I packed Miss R and Miss B up and drove to the mountain outlet shops. Miss B has a winter formal on Friday, and she needed to get clothes for it. She also needed long sleeve shirts. Miss R needed leggings (or jeans) and shirts. After we got home, we put up our tree and decorations.

Sunday: Another chill day. But it was also a day of keeping Tony and Vinnie out of the tree. I’ve gotta say, in all my years of owning cats, I have never had a cat climb my Christmas tree until Tony. He is a TERROR. The lower branches are broken, which is fine because we were going to get a new one anyway. But still. I am hoping the newness of it wears off soon.

Monday: That is the only day this week without an appointment. I finished Love and Anarchy (not a fan of the end of that season) and started Uncoupled. I love Neal Patrick Harris, and I am enjoying the show.

The longest book I read this week: The Beholder. I couldn’t get into it, and it took me a couple of days to finish.

The shortest book I read this week: Shadows Wake.

I joined Kindle Unlimited this week. I have meant to for a while but have been putting it off. BK and I already have Audible (he shares the books with me), so I won’t have an issue finding books to read (or listen to) in the future.

This week’s list might look the same as last week’s. I decided not to read ARCs and instead cleaned up some other books on my list. So, I will have almost the same books listed for this week.

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:

November 2022 Wrap UP

Here is what I read/posted in November.

As always, let me know if you have read any of these books and (if you did) what you thought of them.


Books I Read:

No review
No review
No Review
No Review
Review coming December 1st
Review coming December 27th, 2022
No Review
Review coming January 3rd, 2023
Review coming January 10th
Review coming December 9th
No Review
No Review
No Review
Review coming December 2nd
Review coming December 10th
No Review
No Review
No Review
No Review
Review Coming December 3rd
Review Coming December 4th

Books I got from NetGalley:

Publisher Invite
Publisher Invite
Publisher Invite
It was a limited-time Read Now book
It was a limited-time Read Now book
Publisher Invite
Publisher Invite
Publisher Invite
SMP/Minotaur Influencer Program
SMP Widget invite
SMP Widget Invite

Books I got from Authors/Indie Publishers:

From Author
From Novel Cause
Author Request
Author Request
Author Request
From Novel Cause
From Novel Cause

Goodreads Giveaway

Paperback

Books Reviewed:

The Last Huntress by Lenore Borja (review here)

Alias Emma by Ava Glass (review here)

A Broken Clock Never Boils by C.J. Weiss (review here)

The Art of Prophecy by Wesley Chu (review here)

A Sliver of Darkness by C.J. Tudor (review here)

Shadowed Intent by Reily Garrett (review here)

Death in a Dark Alley by Bradley Pay (review here)

Conviction by Michael Cordell (review here)

The Wilderwomen by Ruth Emmie Lang (review here)

Wicked Bleu by E. Denise Billups (review here)

A Maiden of Snakes by Jane McGarry (review here)

Mostly Human 2 by D.I. Jolly (review here)

Shampoo & Condition by M.L. Ortega (review here)

Spies Never Lose by M. Taylor Christensen (review here)

The Spear Cuts Through Water by Simon Jimenez (review here)

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: