Friday, October 28, 2022

Heart of the Valley by Shermon Kodi

 A creatively written, dual-timeline dark fantasy


The Valley must feed, and Serena is next.

Raised to hold a lone vigil over a realm of spirits, Serena is the only one who can stop the ghostorms and maintain the barrier that keeps the demons at bay. Though she knows it’s her duty, she’s terrified to leave the safety of her temple and the priests who trained her. 

When her only friend is cut with a cursed blade, Serena has no choice but to face her fears. 

She must journey through the Valley of Souls and embrace her destiny before it’s too late. If she fails, the agents of evil will finally be freed from their prison, unleashing a new age of darkness upon the world.


Trigger Warnings: Death, Violence, Parental Death, Abandonment


I have a love hate relationship with dual timeline stories. On one hand, from a creative viewpoint I think they're brilliant. Weaving two stories in and out and then showing how these two vibrant stories were relevant to the other has got to be challenging. I fell in love with both MC's and chapters were usually left in cliffhanger style, and then we switch to the other story.  Ya' was jarring, and often times I did NOT want to switch storylines, however...that should attest to the story being told. They were good, but I had a bit of whiplash.

Both MC's really grow in contrasting ways, which I also thought was very well done. Serena is a young student destined to be the Grace of the Valley, and she's not sure she wants the job. Instead she considers running off and not fulfilling her duties at all. We see her grow into her roll as she realizes how important she is to the world.

Dodson, our other MC a fierce ennusi warrior who is able to use "koho" or fire elements for both battle and healing. She is one of the most powerful warriors in the Rhor empire. The queen assigns her a new yatis, that's sort of like an apprentice/adoptive son, named Alesund.  She initially is dissapointed in him, but quickly realizes even despite his gentle nature he is extremely gifted. Together and Alesund travel to Aborynk, and along the way her entire situation changes. Dodson initially doesn't want anything to do with Alesund, but the boy grows on her.

Overall this was a well written, fast paced YA novel.  If you're looking for a unique dark fantasy novel be sure to grab this one.

Heart of the Valley was published October 25, 2022 and is available on Amazon.

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Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book free for review.  This however does not affect my opinions, as I do not leave a review for each book I receive. There are links to Amazon, clicking these links won't cost you anything but any purchase helps support this blog.  Thanks!

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Last Fable: Fraudewolf by J.M. Congdon


Over a century ago, a hero single-handedly brought an end to an age of horrors and monsters, and the world has mostly recovered from the devastation since. But the world once again is threatened by darkness. In the realms of carnivores and herbivores, a female jackrabbit has spent ten years in search of a wolf, seeking to be taught what he fears above all else.


This was my first experience with anthromoporphic fantasy, and I'm going to be real...I wasn't sure how I would like it. It was out of my normal scope of things, but you on. This book is worth looking into.

First of all, I just want to point out how beautiful this book is. There are a total of 44 images in this book, and every time I came upon one I just loved it. They really helped me build a picture in my mind what was going on, and mentally picture all the characters. I had a few trepedations going into this was labeled fantasy romance, and no offense fellas...but there haven't been any romances that I like that have been written by men. This was done just ok...don't come in expecting a SJM level of depth when it comes to the romance.

The characters though were deep and complex. Eni, our hare female lead was the quiet, kind, feminine lead with a hidden intese power just under the surface.  The picture above with the Slayer and Emi walking through a fair describes the two of them well. She sees the world with a sense of wonder and innocense, and he is dark and brooding always looking a layer deeper at everything.

 The world was immersive and complex.  The world building was done gradually, with out the awful info dump. I specially love how the world celebrated the Slayer, with stories, plays and festivals...but didn't know he continued to walk among them.  I felt that some of the transitions were abrupt, however the overall storytelling was well done and I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  I'm looking forward to book two!

The Last Fables is available at Bookshop and Amazon.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book free for review.  This however does not affect my opinions, as I do not leave a review for each book I receive. There are links to Amazon, clicking these links won't cost you anything but any purchase helps support this blog.  Thanks!

Monday, October 24, 2022

The Curse of the Fallen by H.C. Newell

 An exciting immersive series to take you somewhere else for a bit.


This Child is not the chosen one. She is a demon to be destroyed.

Born of magic, Nerana is labeled a demon and forced into hiding by the Order of Saro. Living with a curse that binds her to their leader, Nerana seeks to free herself from their hold and soon learns that the path to redemption may prove more fatal than the Order itself.

But for Nerana, this is more than a quest for survival... It’s a promise of revenge.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Trigger warnings: Violence, Gore, Animated dead, 

parental death, torture, attempted suicide, cliffhanger


H.C. Newell wastes no time getting right into the thick of it with this series, and she's not afraid to toy with your emotions. Nerena, or Neer as she is called in this book has spent her life hiding from the Order. Every magic user to this order is evil, and must be extinguished. Every child born is tested for magic, and when they are found to have it, they are immediately executed. Neer escapes this fate as a child, but it came with a heavy cost.  The Order has branded her, and cursed her.

Neer's closest friend is Loryk, and I firmly believe everyone needs a Loryk in their life. They found eachother at a low point in their lives, and vowed to stick together to the end. Loryk is a bard, who wins the affection of the ladies in their travels when he sings at taverns, but none of them can shake the devotion he has to his closest friend Neer. Together they meet two elves (Elvae), one named Klaud, the other Avelloch. 

Klaud and Avelloch have their own story which isn't laid out clearly in this book, but they join Neer and Loryk in seeking the location of the trials.  They hope to save Avelloch's sister, one of the first bloods, claiming all is lost with out her, but we don't really learn what or why. I'm feeling like this might be explored more deeply in book 2.

We have lots of character development, and I really enjoyed seeing Neer grow into her own.  She is a formidable sorceress, with a deeply vulnerable side.  There's a bit of a enemies to lovers romance, but no spice here...we fade to black.

If you're looking for a fast paced dark fantasy book, with a side of enemies to lovers romance be sure to grab this book.   This world is so in depth, there's a beautiful map at the beginning, and a glossary and footnotes in the back. Beware, it does end on a cliffhanger, but happily book two is available too!

Curse of the Fallen is available at Bookshop and Amazon and is available on Kindle Unlimited!

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Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book free for review.  This however does not affect my opinions, as I do not leave a review for each book I receive. There are links to Amazon, clicking these links won't cost you anything but any purchase helps support this blog.  Thanks!

Saturday, October 22, 2022

A Few Things I've Learned about writing a Book Blog

Back in late Febraury when I started this blog I had no idea what I was doing. I had been a blogger for years, starting a green blog back in the early 2000's, which then morphed into a food/parenting blog about 8 or 9 years ago. Back then parenting and home making really was the center of my life. With two out of three of my children about to leave the nest I knew I needed to return to myself a bit. Reading books was the one constant throughout my whole life. I've always considered myself to be a big reader, with the type of reading style that could really get expensive. first step, other than creating this blog was to get myself an account on Netgalley. 

1. Sign up as a book reviewer on a major platform. 

Two of the major platforms is Netgalley, and Book Sirens. Both platforms have many opportunities for books to review. The more you review the more opportunities you will have to get books that publishers are holding out for.  Lots of publishers won't approve you right off the bat, but as you go along you'll get more and more yes's.

2. Start an Instagram and work on building it.

The "Bookstagram" community is a really amazing and supportive network. Things have changed so much in the last 15+ years I've been blogging, and Instagram has really taken the lead. In the last six months I've joined groups of readers, and they are from all over the world. It is so amazing to have all these people to talk books with! I now chat with authors and readers alike just about every day. I really love it.

3. Read what you love.

I have a pretty firm niche here with fantasy and fantasy romance books, and occasionally I stray...but the best reviews for both readers and the authors will be from reviewers who already like the genre they're reading. Don't let anyone book shame you either.  Love smut? You'll find a group of readers who also love smut..or mysteries, or horror, or fantasy too. You'll find your people if you're authentically you. 

4. Don't be greedy.

Piggybacking a bit on #3....when a publisher offers to send you a book, only accept books that are in genres that you love.  This was a mistake I made early on thinking I could read anything they sent.  Whether e-book or physical copy, don't grab a middle grade sci-fi if it's not your thing. It doesn't benefit anyone and just costs the publisher money...specially if they've sent you a physical copy.

5. Join book tours.

Joining book tours is another way to network, make friends, and have the opportunity to read books that otherwise you might have to wait for. A book tour is usually lead by a company that's been hired to have reviewers read their books.  You'll often recieve either an e-book or physical copy, and usually they'll send you some book swag too.  I currently participate with about four different book tours, but I always fall back to rule #3...I only join tours with books that are primarily in the genres I already love. 

6. What if I hate a book?

It happens. You can't be expected to like everything. Often times, specially if I was approached by the author, I will explain why I don't like it...kindly. My career as a music teacher has taught me how to kindly give constructive critism, and I use that skill here. I break it down, whether it's grammar, cliche, a story I've heard before...whatever it is, I give the author my review. However if I've come to the book on my own, and the author hasn't asked for my feed back or reached out to me in anyway I will post it here publicly.  In cases like those I won't reach out to the author because they didn't ask for my opinion to begin with...I'll just post it here and leave it at that.

7. Do not sell books authors have given to you, or share e-books they have given to you.

This isn't a legal thing, but more of a moral thing. You have every right to sell a book that's in your possession but some would argue it's unethical due to you benefitting from the sale instead of the author.  If you need to purge, consider donating it, or ask the author if you can sell or offer it as a giveaway.  It's kind to reach out to the author first, and wait until after the book has been publicly published.

8. Use your own photos as much as possible.

This is one of those I've known for a long while now having been a blogger for so long, but I figured I'd put it here anyway.  Using your own photos means not running across any copyright issues. You cannot use what ever photo you google to suit your needs. I have heard horror stories about bloggers who have made NO money at all get fined tens of thousands of dollars for using a photo that wasn't theirs. Don't take my word for it, look up the law. It doesn't matter if you've profited, you've redirected the photo to you from it's original creator possibly costing them money...which is why you can be sued. Don't do it. If you need to use other photos, try using websites like Pixabay 

9. Don't expect to earn any money.

Blogging can be lucrative for some, but it is a slow going slow building type of thing.  Slow and steady wins the race here for views and income. If you make $100 in one year off your blog you're doing better than most. My blog for me is a creative outlet. One I use to connect with other people who like the same things I do. If I make some money off the side that's just an added bonus. Most of my income for this blog comes from being hired to take photos.

Things that I plan on exploring in the next few months with my blog is...ahhh Tiktok. You might start seeing some reviews on there.  I will also experiment and see if it's worthwhile to build up my pinterest board. I may do it just for my own enjoyment and inspiration. Are you on pinterest? You can follow me here. 

Another idea floating around patreon. I might..I'm thinking about it. 

Do you write a blog? Tell me about yours in the comments!

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Sunday, October 16, 2022

Shadow and Crystal Thorns by Kay L. Moody

 Shadow and Crystal Thorns is book 2 in Kay L. Moody's Fae of Crystal Thorn series. If you haven't read book one stop and check out my review for book one here.


War would be easier if she could tell who was right and who was wrong.

Chloe remains in Faerie, but she's only supposed to stay long enough to defeat the bloodthirsty mortals who are trying to claim the land for themselves. But now she's not so sure she wants to return to the mortal realm, especially when the devastatingly handsome fae, Quintus, keeps asking her to stay.

Even worse, defeating the mortals becomes more difficult by the day while their numbers continuously grow. She also learns exactly why they want the land. As a mortal herself, it's hard to disagree with them. But they can't take Faerie unless they steal it from the fae.

Alliances blur when Chloe realizes both sides deserve what they seek. But only one of them can win.



Shadow and Crystal Thorns picks right up where book one left off, so if you haven't read book one you should absolutely start there.  Chloe, Quintus and crew are still working to make Faerie safe by cleansing the land of the iron the mortals brought over. The mortals, lead by Julius and Portia wage war against all the immortal fae, but even still Chloe tries hard to see the good in them and hopes to find a solution that will bring everyone peace...except maybe Julius and Portia. 

I love the sweet love story between Chloe and Quintus. It's so much different than the first series...the story between Brannick and Elora. I actually really didn't care for either one of those characters, and I specially didn't like Brannick...but I really do like Chloe and Quintus together.  I love how Chloe brings out the best in him, and I love how fiercly protective he is of her. 

Chloe and Quintus, along with Mishti and Ludo...and a dragon (!!!), work together to save all the courts of Faerie. Each person in the group brings their own strength, and Chloe strives to find her voice and make her ideas heard. She works passed most people underestimating her, proving to everyone that she is capable.

Overall, this book was a quick paced read. If you like a clean fantasy romance, definitely suitable for a younger audience be sure to add this to your TBR. 

Shadow and Cyrstal Thorns is available on Amazon and Bookshop beginning October 18, 2022.

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Disclaimer: I received an advanced e-copy of this book free for review.  This however does not affect my opinions, as I do not leave a review for each book I receive. There are links to Amazon, clicking these links won't cost you anything but any purchase helps support this blog.  Thanks!

Thursday, October 6, 2022

The Revivalist by Christopher Hood


Ya'll I stepped a bit out of my typical reads with this one, and it was soo good. My main hope for a book is that it takes me someplace else...and this one delivered.

Bill and Penelope are the lucky ones. Not only do they survive the Shark Flu emerging from the melting Icelandic permafrost to sweep like a scythe across the world, but they begin to rebuild a life in the wreckage of the old. A garden to feed themselves planted where the lawn used to be, a mattress pulled down to the living room fireplace for warmth. Even Bill’s psychology practice endures the collapse of the social order, the handful of remaining clients bartering cans of food for their sessions. But when their daughter’s voice over the radio in the kitchen announces that she’s joined a cult three thousand miles away in Bishop, California, they leave it all behind to embark on a perilous trek across the hollowed-out remains of America to save her.

Their journey is an unforgettable odyssey through communities scattered across the continent, but for all the ways that the world has changed, the hopes and fears of this little family remain the same as they always have been. In The Revivalists, Christopher M. Hood creates a haunting, moving, darkly funny, and ultimately hopeful portrait of a world and a marriage tested by extraordinary circumstances.


So much drama! This wasn't like most post-apocolyptic books I read.  When I hear post-apocalyptic I think of movies like Mad-Max, or I am Legend, or books like After the Plauge, by Imogen Keeper.  This one was different. This one felt more real in a lot of ways..information was cut off.  Bill and Penelope didn't know how the rest of the world survived...there were no news casters to tell them. It was a complete societal collapse...and not really enough people left to create scenarios like Mad-Max. 

Bill and Penelope stayed in their home, they grew food in their backyard. They spoke with their surviving neighbors, and Bill even started back up his therapy practice...for barter.  People had trauma from what they went through...and Bill needed a sense of purpose. 

When Bill and Penelope set off on their journey to find their daughter Hannah, they run into quite a few different communities as they go. People just trying to survive a new world. There are some crazies, but most people are kind.  Most people are willing to share knowledge, food, supplies and are just happy to see someone alive. Their journey across the country is a dangerous one never-the-less, with no safety nets in case of an accident, or injury. They met some really fascinating people on the way.

If you're looking for a book that is a quick read, that will stick with you for a while, be sure to check out it out.  Bonus points for the Colin Kaepernick pseduo-cameo. 

The Rivivalist is available on Bookshop and Amazon.

Special thanks to Harper Publishing for the advanced copy.

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Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book free for review.  This however does not affect my opinions, as I do not leave a review for each book I receive. There are links to Amazon, clicking these links won't cost you anything but any purchase helps support this blog.  Thanks!