Blog Tours · Books I've Read

BLOG TOUR: Pharaoh’s Star by Olivia Hardy Ray

Pharaohs Star banner

Today, I am very happy to share a very mysterious, spooky read – Pharaoh’s Star by Olivia Hardy Ray. This had so many twists and turns! Thanks to RABT Book Tours for hosting and giving me a spot on the tour!

About the Book

PharaohsStar_1_BTitle: Pharaoh’s Star

Author: Olivia Hardy Ray

Genre: Mystery/Fantasy/Sci-Fi

Publisher: Chattercreek

Release Date: February 6, 2018

Find it: Amazon, GoodReads, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks

Blurb: Nick and Jenna Dowling buy a second home in Upstate New York but this dream of a lifetime turns out to be anything but relaxing when a strange and mystical experience on a dark, forgotten back road leads Nick on a frantic search for answers about the reality of his identity. Frantic to explain his mysterious amnesia, Jenna Dowling calls upon a therapist for her husband, while Nick befriends an alien abduction expert. Each desperately searches for the truth, but in the end, it is not the truth that sets them free.

 

Review: This one is so difficult to classify, because I don’t think I’ve read anything like this before. There were so many questions that you had to keep reading. Who is this man? Is he Nick Dowling? Is he Robbie Nichols? Is he Sanford Hinkley? Is he someone else entirely?

I enjoyed the setting of the Catskills mountains, especially the old road with the cabin at the end. You know that something has happened there, even if you never fully know all the details, and it sets an eerie tone that lasts throughout the book. It is a thriller in every sense of the word. At the same time, the story is extremely intimate. Nick is struggling to find his identity, since he doesn’t remember anything at all about his childhood, and is starting to believe that he may have been abducted by aliens and experimented on. Jenna, his wife, is a psychologist and very grounded in the real world. She has to deal with the fact that her husband may be having a complete breakdown, while at the same time wondering if she even knows him at all.

The plot twists keep you guessing all the way through the book right until the end, which is why it is so hard to put down. I needed to know the answers! It was an absolute roller coaster all the way through!

GoodReads rating: 4 stars

About the Author

author

Olivia Hardy Ray is the pen name for Vera Jane Cook, who is the author of Dancing Backward in Paradise, 2007 winner of the Indie Excellence Award for notable new fiction and an Eric Hoffer Award for publishing excellence, also in 2007. Dancing Backward in Paradise received a 5 Star Review from ForeWord Clarion. The Story of Sassy Sweetwater was a finalist for the ForeWord Clarion Book of the Year Award and the recipient of a five star review from ForeWord Clarion. Where the Wildflowers Grow was her third southern fiction novel and is receiving 5 star reviews from Amazon.com. Her latest southern fiction novel just released is Pleasant Day. Her woman’s fiction novel is Lies a River Deep and the soon to be released ‘Kismet’. Under her pen name she is also the author of Annabel Horton, Lost Witch of Salem, and Pharaoh’s Star. The sequel to Annabel Horton, Lost Witch of Salem is Annabel Horton and the Black Witch of Pau. That novel will be released this summer. Jane, as she is called by friends and family, writes in the genres she loves: southern fiction, women’s fiction, mystery and fantasy paranormal fiction. She lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with her spouse, her Basenji/Chihuahua mix, Roxie, her Dachshund, Karly, her Chihuahua, Peanut, and her two pussycats, Sassy and Sweetie Pie.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Blog | GoodReads | Pinterest

Blog Tours · Books I've Read

BLOG TOUR: Altered

AlteredTourBanner

Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for Altered, a new fantasy series by Vicki Stiefel. This book was so much fun. Thank you to Xpresso Book Tours for hosting!

About the Book

AlteredTitle: Altered

Author: Vicki Stiefel

Series: The Made Ones Saga #1

Publication Date: August 12, 2019

Genres: Adult Fantasy/Romance

Find it: GoodReads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks

Blurb: The Eleutians are dying out, one female at a time. To save their species, the powerful Alchemic Clan conscripts women from parallel worlds, altering them into the perfect breeding stock.

Kitlyn, a retired circus equestrian broken in both body and spirit, awakens on a strange world in her own much-younger body. She has been transformed into a Made One, but the gift of youth and the promise of a new life come at a terrible price.

Rafe, the Wolf Clan’s warrior champion, vows to find the cause of the species’ decline. He’s certain the Alchemics’ bid to save the Eleutians is but a thin veneer masking a dark purpose.

That vow becomes hard to keep with the threat of an inter-clan conflict and the arrival of the proud Made One named Kitlyn.

To save herself and those like her, Kit must carve a dangerous path in this new reality and make a choice that may cost her her freedom, her life, and the life of the Eleutian warrior she’s come to love.

Review: This one was so much fun, you guys! I really enjoyed Kit as a character. She is spunky and daring and everything you could possibly want your heroine to be. Waking up in not only a new place, but also in a new body has to be disorienting. I think that was part of what made this book so good was that Stiefel doesn’t shy away from describing this. Kit has to struggle to adjust to this younger healthy body after living in one that had been so infirm. On top of that, she also has to find her place in this new world, which she does mostly with the help of Rafe. Their relationship is pretty tumultuous at first, as expected, but he’s also just so damn charming. I liked how organic their relationship felt.

The world building in this story is exceptional. I love how the different Clans operate, communing with not just their humans, but also their symbiotic animal partners. Paulo in particular was one of my favorite things in the story. Also, the mysterious Alchemics and their treacherous ways gave the whole story a menace and tension that really keeps the reader engaged. I was very interested in Calix, the spy in the Alchemics’ labs, and his mission to get information.

GoodReads rating: 4 stars. This book was a blast. Adventure, mystery, strange new worlds, and fun sexy times.

About the Author

Family 2018 Vicki Me Penny – Version 2Vicki’s fantasy romantic suspense series, The Afterworld Chronicles, launched with Chest of Bone, followed by Chest of Stone and Chest of Time. She is currently pounding the keys on her series’ fourth novel, Chest of Fire, and the first in a new series, The Made Ones Saga: Altered. Her mystery/thrillers include Body Parts, The Dead Stone, The Bone Man, and The Grief Shop, a Daphne du Maurier prize winner. All feature homicide counselor Tally Whyte. All are available as ebooks.

She co-wrote (with Lisa Souza) and photographed the 10 Secrets of the LaidBack Knitters. With her late husband, William G. Tapply, she ran The Writers Studio workshops in creative fiction. Vicki taught fiction writing and modern media writing at Clark University. She loves both a well-crafted sentence and unlocking the doors of a student’s imagination.

She grew up in professional theater and planned to become an actress, with a bent for song and dance. She didn’t. Instead, she’s been a professional photographer, a high-school teacher, a hamburger slinger, a scuba-shop manager, and an editor.
She’s Blake’s and Ben’s mom, her favorite role of all. Her passions include scuba diving and fly fishing and knitting; photography and movies; vinho verde and bourbon (not together!); Maine lobster and chocolate (also not together!); and musical comedy scores, which she sing in the shower, unfortunately not an Equity venue; and a fascination with people in all walks of life. . .

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | GoodReads

Giveaway Time!

This tour features quite a generous giveaway, so be sure to enter. You can enter to win: a New Kindle Fire 7, a $25 gift card from Amazon, 2 Tibetan silver mistral charms, Eleutian earrings (sterling silver, 24k gold filled), 3 Altered ebooks (any format), 1 signed Altered paperback.

Wow! Be sure to enter via this Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win. Good luck!

Follow the Tour!

Today is the last day of the tour, but be sure to check out these other stops for interviews, guest posts, excerpts and more!

August 12th
Stuck In Books >> Excerpt
Incidental Inspiration >> Review

August 13th
Archaeolibrarian – I Dig Good Books! >> Review
DEEKAY | Daily Dose of Reading >> Review
Dena Garson-Real… Hot… Romance >> Review

August 14th
Abooktropolis >> Review
Viviana MacKade >> Guest post
Jazzy Book Reviews >> Excerpt

August 15th
Urban Fantasy Investigations >> Interview
Adventures Thru Wonderland >> Review

August 16th
Jessica Belmont >> Review
The Avid Reader >> Review
The Nocturnal Fey >> Review

August 19th
Finding Magic In Books >> Review
Phannie the ginger bookworm >> Review

August 20th
JB’s Bookworms with Brandy Mulder >> Excerpt
The Book Junkie Reads . . . >> Review

August 21st
Writing with Wolves >> Review
What Is That Book About >> Playlist

August 22nd
Books a Plenty Book Reviews >> Review
Cranky The Book Curmudgeon >> Review

August 23rd
Beckie Bookworm >> Review
Life With No Plot >> Review

ButtonXBT

Books I've Read

REVIEW: An Ember in the Ashes

An Ember in the AshesTitle: An Ember in the Ashes

Author: Sabaa Tahir

Pages: 464

Series: An Ember in the Ashes #1

Edition: Ebook

Blurb:

Laia is a slave.
Elias is a soldier.
Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Review: Short version: this book was amazing!!!!

This book has been on my radar for a while, but I had never gotten around to reading it. Boy, was I missing out! I absolutely loved it. It was so well written and well paced. The last several chapters especially were very hard to put down.

First, let’s talk about our main characters. The book switches back and forth between Laia’s and Elias’s points of view, each of them telling their own first-person narratives. What was great about this was that each had their own distinct voice. That’s not always easy to do, but Tahir did it brilliantly here. Laia is such a sweet character and I absolutely loved her. She is terrified in her situation, but determined to do what she can to save her brother. Elias is a much more complicated character, born into a privileged role, but also able to see the inherent evil in their society. His compassion is what is able to set him apart from the others around him.

This complexity is what really made this novel great. There is a resistance movement working against the corrupt and power-hungry government, but they are not necessarily good people. The groups that are in power are doing what they can to stay in power, but there are those who recognize that their system is flawed at best, dangerous at worst. There is no black and white, just lots of gray, which always makes a story more real to me. That’s how real life is. Nothing is strictly an absolute.

There were also plenty of twists and turns, particularly with Hellene, Elias’s friend at Blackcliff. She was probably my favorite character and I would love to see inside her mind, just once. There’s something going on there.

GoodReads rating: 5 stars. Read this. Read it now.

Books I've Read

REVIEW: Kingdom of Ash

** SPOILERS ** SPOILERS ** SPOILERS ** SPOILERS **

Because I can’t keep this spoiler free, I just can’t. I tried.

Kingdom of AshTitleKingdom of Ash

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Pages: 984

Genre: YA Fantasy

SeriesThrone of Glass #7

Edition: Ebook

Blurb: Aelin Galathynius has vowed to save her people―but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. The knowledge that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, but her resolve is unraveling with each passing day…

With Aelin captured, friends and allies are scattered to different fates. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever. As destinies weave together at last, all must fight if Erilea is to have any hope of salvation.

Years in the making, Sarah J. Maas’s New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series draws to an explosive conclusion as Aelin fights to save herself―and the promise of a better world.

Review: What do you say at the end of a seven book epic? It’s actually really hard to put into words. This is a sprawling, monstrously vast world with a cast of hundreds. Pulling all these strings together without leaving anything hanging unresolved is a difficult challenge, one that I wasn’t sure exactly how it could be accomplished.

Sarah J. Maas. That’s how. I am pretty blown away right now.

This book is a lot. It’s massive. And most of it is a battle fought on many, many fronts. All of these characters that we have gotten to know and love are scattered and it makes you, the reader, want nothing more than for all of them to be together again. This is an exhausting book to read, but that only speaks to Maas’s skill as a writer. You FEEL what these characters are going through. Their struggles against nearly insurmountable odds.

Victory does not come without a price though. Aelin pays a hefty price to protect her people. Aedion loses his father after finally coming to terms with their relationship. Manon watches her beloved Thirteen sacrifice themselves for the greater good. It’s brutal, visceral. A fantasy story with lots of magic, but also lots of blood and dirt, mundane and banal. High emotion and the numbness of war. Maas hits all of it with exquisite balance and skill.

GoodReads rating: 5 stars all the way.

Oh, and also, this! One more down!

Reading colors your life

 

Blog Tours · Books I've Read

BLOG TOUR: How the Light Gets In

HowTheLightGetsInTourBanner

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for How the Light Gets In by Katy Upperman, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours! This book pulls all the heart strings and was so absolutely lovely. Let’s get into it, shall we?

About the Book

LightTitle: How the Light Gets In

Author: Katy Upperman

Genre: YA Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Swoon Reads

Publication Date: August 6, 2019 – TODAY!! Happy book birthday!!

Find It: GoodReads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play

Blurb: Katy Upperman’s How the Light Gets In is a haunting YA novel about a teen coping with the loss of her sibling.

Since her sister’s tragic death, seventeen-year-old Callie Ryan has basically given up. Her grades have plummeted, she’s quit her swim team, and she barely recognizes the people her parents once were.

When she returns to her aunt’s run-down coastal Victorian one year after Chloe’s death, Callie resigns herself to a summer of guilt and home renovations. She doesn’t expect to be charmed by the tiny coastal town or by Tucker Morgan, a local boy brimming with sunshine.

But even as her days begin to brighten, Callie’s nights are crowded with chilling dreams, unanswered questions, and eerie phenomenon that have her convinced she’s being haunted. Will Callie be able to figure out what her sister is trying to communicate before it’s too late?

Review: This book was so hauntingly tragic and beautiful. It fully encapsulates the feelings of loss and pain that come from losing a loved one, coupled with the guilt of wishing that last day had been different. Callie is a character that is hard to love, both within the book and as a reader. She’s sullen, withdrawn, and mean at times, although you know that it’s because she is hurting so much. Everything about the emotions felt so raw and real. I think that’s what drew me into this story, even though it’s not the usual type of thing that I read. You want to see if Callie can find healing. Katy Upperman makes you see past Callie’s behavior and want to see her come back to herself.

Now let’s talk about Tucker. Everyone should have someone like Tucker in their lives. He is battling his own demons, but he is also genuine and sincere. And really cute. I loved how he was always there for Callie, even at the beginning of their relationship when she was pushing him away. He gave her her space, let her set the tone, and was always there when she needed him. And he bought her a kitten! How can you not love a guy who buys you a kitten! Their relationship felt very natural and organic. I was so glad that they were able to find happiness with each other.

Also, everyone needs an eccentric Aunt Lucy who is fixing up a B&B. She was awesome and I adored her.

There is a paranormal element to this story, that of Callie’s sister, Chloe, appearing as a ghost. Chloe needs closure and Callie has to help her find it, even if it means losing her sister all over again. It was heartbreaking, but at the same time, helped both sisters heal and move on.

GoodReads rating: 5 stars. A beautiful read.

About the Author

KatyKaty Upperman is a wife, mama, author, reader, baker, and wanderer. She writes novels for teens and teens at heart. She’s a Washington State University alum (go Cougs!), a country music fanatic, and a makeup stockpiler. She loves the ocean, pedicures, sunshine, Instagram, Dirty Dancing and The Princess Bride, Jelly Bellies, true crime documentaries, and Friday Night Lights.

 

GoodReads|Facebook|Twitter|Website|Instagram|Pinterest

Giveaway Time!

This tour features a giveaway. Enter to win a print copy of How the Light Gets In via this Rafflecopter giveaway. Open only to the U.S. and you must enter by August 15th. Good luck!

Follow the Tour!

Check out these other stops on the tour:

August 5th
Across the Bookiverse >> Interview
The Genre Minx Book Reviews >> Excerpt
Kelsey Covers Books >> Review
Smokin’ Hot Reads Book Blog >> Review
Gwendalyn_books_ >> Review

August 6th
Bookworm for Kids >> Review
So Few Books >> Interview
The Avid Reader >> Excerpt
Smada’s Book Smack >> Review
Shalini’s Books & Reviews >> Review
Life With No Plot >> Review

August 7th
Abooktropolis >> Review
GRACED WITH BOOKS >> Excerpt
diary of a wannabe writer >> Review
Moonlight Rendezvous >> Review

August 8th
Book Slaying >> Review
Life of a Simple Reader >> Review
Young Adult Media Consumer >> Review
Twirling Book Princess >> Excerpt

August 9th
Firstbooklove >> Review
The Eclectic Review >> Review
Treestand Book Reviews >> Review
Movies, Shows, & Books >> Review
The Moon Who Listens >> Guest post

ButtonXBT

Books I've Read

Book Review: The Wrythe and the Reckoning by Yvonthia Leland

The Wrythe and the ReckoningTitle: The Wrythe and the Reckoning

Author: Yvonthia Leland

Genre: YA, I guess?

Series: none

Edition: ARC from NetGalley

Blurb: The Wrythe and the Reckoning is an avant-garde nostalgic story that will have you not only falling in love with the characters, but you’ll also gain an understanding of their individual perspectives on life. This fantasy tale is sure to be enjoyed by readers of all ages, from teens to older adults.

In the mid-1800s, Lina and her family move from their small New Hampshire village to an industrial city in Massachusetts. During this time, it is said that a bizarre, malevolent human-like monster is lurking about in the forests of the New England territory. In addition, Lina is an independent thinker. She’s determined to make something of herself and to live her life the way that she wants to. Lina must face and overcome the difficult challenges surrounding her society in order to live her ideal life, all while avoiding being murdered by the so-called human-monster. ‘The Wrythe and the Reckoning’ is an epic urban fantasy tale of love, courage, bravery, freedom, and friendship.

If you’re looking for a story that’s simply about romance or a horrific event, this isn’t the story for you. The Wrythe and the Reckoning is an intricately woven tale of a teenage girl’s life experience as she grows into a woman and continuing afterwards. Not only is this story about her life, it’s also about the lives of those close to her and the society in which she lives.

Intriguingly complex and yet relatable, The Wrythe and the Reckoning is a thought-provoking and intellectual story of fantasy, mystery, adventure, and romance.

Review: Y’all, this is the first time in a while that a book has made me so confused. It’s also been a while since I was close to straight up not finishing a book. If I didn’t feel obligated by NetGalley to do it, I probably would have given up on this book.

The first thing you notice with this book is it’s voice. The tone is very old fashioned, reminding me of some of the late 19th/early 20th prose I studied for my English degree in college, except . . . way too simple. It is overly plodding, giving every detail. This book badly needed some edition. There were too many pages where nothing really happened. At all. It could have easily been a short story instead of a novel.

The pacing is also just strange. The first few chapters were reeeeaally long, and then they got really short. And there didn’t seem like a point to it. Also, I should point out, that the ARC is 20 chapters long (with chapter 2 broken into two parts for some reason) and it is incomplete. There is a note from the author basically saying to check out the rest of the book once it’s published.

So let’s talk a bit about the story. The main character is Lina, a young girl who is determined to be independent. Which basically means she doesn’t want to get married, which is unusual for her time period. This doesn’t stop several men from being smitten with her, despite everyone else describing her as not particularly attractive and very difficult because of her modern views. She attends abolitionist meetings and volunteers for the suffrage movement, but in a very bland way. All of the characters were very bland and they all had very average lives that were very dull at times to read about.

Now let’s talk about the “monster,” the thing that is really supposed to get this story hopping. There are a handful of hints about it in the book, none of which make it sound too serious. Maybe there is a murderer loose, but that’s it. Any hints of it being a “monster” are brushed off by EVERYONE as just superstition. But we the reading, through our point-of-view character Lina, don’t actually experience the monster until chapter 18. Of a 20 chapter ARC. That should have happened much, much sooner, but instead we got a lot of day-to-day details that don’t really go anywhere and, are frankly, quite boring.

Another weird thing: this book and this author have no information on GoodReads at all. The blurb above was taken from the NetGalley page.

I really hate to give bad reviews, only because I know how much blood, sweat, and tears go into writing a novel. But I also have to be honest, and honestly, I did not enjoy this much at all.

GoodReads Rating: 2 stars

Books I've Read

Book Review: Terrestrial Magic

terrestrial magicTitle: Terrestrial Magic

Author: Marina Ermakova

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Post-Apocalyptic?

Series: currently standalone, but definite series potential

Edition: E-book ARC from NetGalley

Blurb: Most sensible people avoid fire-breathing carnivores that prey on humans. But Jordan has built a career out of studying such legendary animals, creatures thought mythological until their reemergence in the world three decades ago. She and researchers like her believe that knowledge is the key to reclaiming the land they’d lost back then, when humanity retreated into designated safety zones.

But when the humans moved out, the legends moved in. They were the descendants of mythical heroes, inheriting the powers of their ancestors, and they weren’t afraid of the monsters. Jordan never expected to run into a legend, but when a field expedition turns into a trap for her team, she realizes that one deliberately tried to kill her. It’s a diplomatic nightmare the Roman authorities might happily sweep under the rug. But if Jordan doesn’t figure out who attacked her and why, they could try again. Yet even if she does solve the mystery, what could one stubborn scientist possibly do to stop a powerful legend?

Review: (Disclaimer – I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)

My first ARC from NetGalley, and it was such a fun read! I really enjoyed the setting (in and around Rome) and the new mythology surrounding it. Usually post-apocalyptic stories have their basis in sci-fi – something technological goes wrong – so having a fantastical apocalypse is actually pretty original. Which is impressive. You don’t see that many original ideas anymore. It was also nice to see the mix of the fantasy and the science, as Jordan and her team are scientists studying these creatures. Also a cool concept.

I enjoyed the “legendary animals” that have made their come back, although we don’t get to spend as much time with them as I would like. In the beginning of the book, we see them deal with a basilisk and a chimera, and later we get to see a pegasus, but other than that, we don’t see them much. I thought there would have been a bit more than that. I also wasn’t a fan of the term used for these creatures – “legimals.” I don’t, as a rule, like when people make these kinds of contractions, but this one just felt a bit too cutsey.

We do get to spend a fair amount of time meeting and talking about the legends, descendants and heirs (of a sort) to the legends of the area, like Remus, Hercules, and Aeneas to name a few. These people have powers of their original hero (for example, the people of the House of Hercules are unnaturally strong) and have taken over part of the world. There is a very tenuous truce between the legends and the regular humans, and this book is about the attempt at blowing that truce apart. The legends are also very interesting and it was cool how it all tied back into the ancient mythology that has magically come back to life in a way.

This book has a great hook at the beginning and a good, adventurous pace throughout. Jordan and her team of scientists are a really good bunch that have a good camaraderie, but also have some secrets. This book does not list itself as part of a series, and the author has only written one other book that does not look related to this one, but I definitely see series potential. The story was tied together at the end, but there were still plenty of questions that were left open, just in case. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading urban fantasy and enjoys a new take on mythology. This book is out TODAY – happy book birthday! – so get a copy and enjoy.

GoodReads Rating: 4 stars.