Category: awesomeness

Book Review: Ruthless Gods, by Emily A. Duncan

ruthless gods
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  Ruthless Gods
AuthorEmily A. Duncan
Genre:  Fantasy
Rating:  5 out of 5

Nadya doesn’t trust her magic anymore. Serefin is fighting off a voice in his head that doesn’t belong to him. Malachiasz is at war with who–and what–he’s become.

As their group is continually torn apart, the girl, the prince, and the monster find their fates irrevocably intertwined. They’re pieces on a board, being orchestrated by someone… or something. The voices that Serefin hears in the darkness, the ones that Nadya believes are her gods, the ones that Malachiasz is desperate to meet―those voices want a stake in the world, and they refuse to stay quiet any longer.

A lot of second novels are less impressive than the books they follow, but Emily A. Duncan’s Ruthless Gods is not one of them! This novel continues the story of Nadya, Malachiasz, Serefin, and the rest of their friends. It’s dark, cold, and compelling.

There’s a lot of blood, violence, and despair here, but there is also hope, albeit a tiny, trembling flame. The characters finally start to realize—truly realize—that what they’ve always thought to be truth may not necessarily be so, Compelling, mesmerizing, riveting…whatever your synonym of choice for “I couldn’t put this down!” is, Ruthless Gods is it.

Emily A. Duncan is a New York Times bestselling author. Ruthless Gods, her newest novel, is the second book in the Something Dark and Holy series.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

The Best Books I Read in March (2020)

I read 22 books in March, bringing my total to 64 so far for the year. There were some less-than-stellar ones, but three books really stood out for me.

smoke bitten

Smoke Bitten, by Patricia Briggs. The Mercy Thompson series is phenomenal, and this was an excellent addition to it. Like, I read the entire thing straight through in about four hours on a Friday night, as my reward for making it through my first week working from home.

night of the dragon

Night of the Dragon, by Julie Kagawa.  I’m sad this series is over, but I was enthralled while it lasted. Loved the mythology and characters, the melding of magic and custom. Definitely read these books!

ruthless gods

Ruthless Gods, by Emily A. Duncan. The second book in the Something Dark and Holy series, and it was exceptional. Dark, cold, bloody…and absolutely mesmerizing.

Book Review and Blog Tour: Night of the Dragon, by Julie Kagawa

night of the dragon blog tour

night of the dragon
Image belongs to Inkyard Press.

Title:  Night of the Dragon
AuthorJulie Kagawa
Genre:  Fantasy
Rating:  5 out of 5

All is lost.

To save everyone she loves from imminent death, kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko gave up the final piece of the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. Now she and her ragtag band of companions must make one desperate final effort to stop the Master of Demons from using the scroll to call the Great Kami Dragon and make the wish that will plunge the empire into chaos.

Shadow clan assassin Kage Tatsumi has regained control of his body and agreed to a true deal with the devil—the demon inside him, Hakaimono. They will share his body and work with Yumeko to stop a madman, and to separate Hakaimono from Tatsumi and the cursed sword that trapped the demon for nearly a millennium.

But even with their combined skills and powers, this unlikely team of heroes knows the forces of evil may be impossible to overcome. And there is another player in the battle for the scroll, a player who has been watching, waiting for the right moment to pull strings that no one even realized existed…until now.

Julie Kagawa is one of those authors that I just know when I pick up a book she wrote, I’m going to be enthralled. The Shadow of the Fox series is no exception, and Night of the Dragon was a fantastic conclusion to this story.

The stakes kept getting higher and higher with every new scene and the challenges seemed ever more impossible. Yumeko is a lovely character who truly discovers her strength in this novel—and embraces it. Tatsumi is one of the best conflicted characters I’ve ever read—I mean, he shares his body with a demon—and his struggles are vividly rendered. The culture truly makes this story sing, and I loved every page of this novel!

Julie Kagawa is the New York Times bestselling author of the Iron Fey, Blood of Eden, Talon, and Shadow of the Fox series. She was born in Sacramento, California.

(Galley courtesy of Inkyard Press in exchange for an honest review.)

The Best Books I Read in February (2020)

I read 22 books in February, bringing my total for the year to 42.

The three best of these were:

the robe

The Robe, by Lloyd C. Douglas. I first read this so long ago that I remembered nothing about it, but it’s the story of Marcellus, a Roman soldier who wins Christ’s robe at Golgotha, and then sets out to find out the truth about the Nazarene carpenter. I enjoyed so much seeing Biblical figures come to life!

isaiah's legacy

Isaiah’s Legacy, by Mesu Andrews. The story of Manasseh, a biblical king who did great evil, and how he comes to know Yahweh. I love Mesu Andrews’ way of bringing biblical tales to life, and this was a wonderful read.

the grace kelly dress

The Grace Kelly Dress, by Brenda Janowitz. Three women. Three weddings. One dress. The story of three generations of women and the dress they all wore at their wedding. I loved this!

What I Read in February (2020)

Books Read in February:  22

Books Read for the Year: 42/200

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck (classic). I read this years ago, in high school. I remember it being much better that first time. This time…not so much.

The Robe, by Lloyd C. Douglas(TBR). Also a re-read, and wow! I loved this!

Love Without Limits, by Nick Vujicic (spiritual). This is an inspiring read.

In 27 Days, by Alison Gervais (TBR). I ended up loving this! I see there’s a sequel out there somewhere, too.

Everywhere You Want to Be, by Christina June (TBR). Simple and sweet, and fun to follow these characters farther.

For Review:

Whiteout

Whiteout, by Adriana Anders. This was an enjoyable romantic suspense. The setting was just unbelievable to me—I’m not a fan of cold/snow/ice—and the author definitely brought that to life. This is the first book in a new series.

light changes everything

Light Changes Everything, by Nancy E. Turner. I enjoyed this historical fiction read, set in 1907 in the Arizona Territory. Mary Pearl could stay home and marry her wealthy suitor, but she chases her dreams and goes to art school instead. But trauma plagues Mary Pearl and changes her life and her family forever.

the janes

The Janes, by Louisa Luna. I hadn’t read the first book in the Alice Vega series, but had no problems jumping in with this one. Vega is an interesting character, and seeing how her mind works as she investigates the murders of two unidentified girls was intriguing.

what kind of girl

What Kind of Girl, by Alyssa Heinmel. There was a lot going on in this book about teen dating violence, eating disorders, anxiety…a lot going on. But, it was woven together well and managed to tell all the stories with aplomb and sympathy.

foul is fair

Fair is Foul, by Hannah Capin. I finished this, but I didn’t like the characters. Lots of violence, blood, revenge, and, frankly, straight up evil.

a good neighborhood

A Good Neighborhood, by Therese Anne Fowler. This was a challenging read. Racism in the South is a real thing, and this book captured it realistically enough to make me angry on the characters’ behalves. I did find the portrayal of churches and church-going people to be completely one-sided, judgmental, and unrealistic, however.

the borgia confessions

The Borgia Confessions, by Alyssa Palombo. Another book with zero likable characters, but the writing and setting were superbly done.

southern double cross

Southern Double Cross, by Caroline Fardig. This appears to be the third and final installment in the Southern B & B Mystery series, and I enjoyed it just as much as the first two (and the Java Jive Mystery series, also by this author).

isaiah's legacy

Isaiah’s Legacy, by Mesu Andrews. This is a continuation of the Prophets and Kings series. It’s the story of King Manasseh and how his childhood friend–and eventual wife–turns him away from Yahweh and to evil. It’s also the story of how he and his wife, Shulle, realize the truth and turn Israel back to God. Mesu Andrews’ books were my introduction to biblical fiction, and I love how she brings biblical characters and events to Technicolor life! This was another wonderful read!

ten days gone

Ten Days Gone, by Beverly Long. I enjoyed this suspense/ thriller.

master of sorrows

Master of Sorrows, by Justin Call. I enjoyed this fantasy read, and look forward to reading more in this series (I do assume there will be more.)

a highlander in a pickup

A Highlander in a Pickup, by Laura Trentham. An enjoyable entry into the Highland, Georgia series. Gotta love those men in kilts!

tucker

Tucker (Eternity Springs: The McBrides of Texas #2), by Emily March. From men in kilts to Texas men. Neither is a bad thing…another solid romance read.

children of the stars

Children of the Stars, by Mario Escobar. I feel like this one lost something in translation. Set amidst the persecution of the Jews, it skirts the atrocities ever-present then, but the two brothers that are the main characters never felt like they were truly in danger, so it didn’t seem realistic to me.

the girl with the louding voice

The Girl with the Louding Voice, by Abi Daré. A 14-year-old Nigerian girl who has spent her entire life in servitude must fight to make herself heard as she chases her dream. This is a powerful, powerful book.

the grace kelly dress

The Grace Kelly Dress, by Brenda Janowitz (forthcoming). I enjoyed every page of the three different timelines!

lost at sea

Lost at Sea, by Erica Boyce (forthcoming). This was an interesting read. I do recommend it.

Book Review: Isaiah’s Legacy, by Mesu Andrews

isaiah's legacy
Image belongs to WaterBrook.

Title:  Isaiah’s Legacy
AuthorMesu Andrews  
Genre:  Biblical fiction, historical
Rating:  5 out of 5

Eight-year-old Shulle only knows a simple life in her small village, caring for her father, who’s different from everyone else. He may be different, but Shulle loves him deeply, and does her best to help him every day. Then her uncle, Shebna, arrives, and asks her to return to Jerusalem to help him teach young Prince Manasseh, who shares many of her father’s oddities, and Shulle agrees to help the prince.

Once in Jerusalem, she befriends Manasseh, who soon grows dependent on her. But Shebna teaches her about the starry hosts, whose power she admires and yearns for, while her father reveres Yahweh, the god of the Hebrews. Shulle tempts Manasseh with powers of the starry hosts, turning the prince away from the god of his fathers.

When Manasseh becomes king at a young age, he insists on marrying Shulle and whisking her away on an extended trip. Assyria’s crown prince turns Manasseh to cruelty—and far from Yahweh’s love. When Manasseh’s cruelty grows, Shulle must turn to the god she never knew as the only one who can comfort her—and save her family.

I loved this story! Mesu Andrew’s writing brings this biblical story to life in heartrending detail and entranced me from the very beginning. She’s a wonderful writer, and I love how she brings biblical stories off the pages and makes the characters living, breathing people. This story is sad in places, horrifying in others, but every word feels truthful.

Mesu Andrews lives in the Appalachian Mountains. Isaiah’s Legacy is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of WaterBrook in exchange for an honest review.)

The Best Books I Read in January (2020)

I read 20 books in January. There were five or six more that I started and DNF because I just couldn’t get into them, but three books I read were excellent.

the little bookshop

The Little Bookshop on the Seine, by Rebecca Raisin. This was an enchanting read—and I now have the author’s other books ready and waiting on my Kindle. I loved both the bookshops in the novel, and thoroughly enjoyed every page.

everywhere holy

Everywhere Holy, by Kara Lawler. This isn’t a book about fancy, sweeping things, but about savoring the simple things, the small things. I don’t have kids or live in the country, but loved reading about the author’s experiences.

i've seen the end of you

I’ve Seen the End of You, by W. Lee Warren, MD. This was probably the most unexpected thing I read in January. It’s written by a neurosurgeon who wrestles with his faith:  how does he give his patients hope when he, a man of science, has seen what’s in store for them with an incurable disease (neuroblastoma)? Nonfiction is hit or miss for me, but the voice and the stories in this one made it un-put-down-able.

Blog Tour and Book Review: Cast in Wisdom, by Michelle Sagara

cast in wisdom
Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

Title:  Cast in Wisdom
AuthorMichelle Sagara
Genre:  Fantasy
Rating:  5 out of 5

In the aftermath of the events in the High Halls, there are loose ends. One of those loose ends is the fieflord, Candallar. In an attempt to understand his involvement—with the Barrani, with the High Court, and with the much hated Arcanum—Kaylin has been sent to the fiefs.

 She has mixed feelings about this. There’s nothing mixed about her feelings when she discovers a very unusual building in the border zone between two fiefs, and far more questions are raised than are answered. Her attempt to get answers leads her back to the Imperial Palace and its resident Dragon librarian, the Arkon.

 Things that were lost in the dim past were not, perhaps, destroyed or obliterated—and what remains appears to be in the hands of a fieflord and his allies—allies who would like to destroy Kaylin’s friends, the Emperor, and possibly the Barrani High Court itself. This is bad.

 What’s worse: The librarian who hates to leave his library has a very strong interest in the things that might, just might, have been preserved, and—he is leaving his library to do in person research, no matter what Kaylin, the Hawks, or the Emperor think.

 He is not the only one. Other people are gathering in the border zone; people who believe knowledge is power. But power is also power, and it might be too late for the Empire’s most dedicated Historian—and Kaylin and her friends, who’ve been tasked with his safety.

As always, I love the books in this series! I feel like Kaylin, with her fierce desire to help others, tendency to speak—and act—without thinking, and ability to find trouble even when not looking for it, could be me. The relationships in this series grow deeper and more complex with every novel, and the world and cultures more vibrant. I was eager to see where this adventure led—and of course it did not disappoint! Highly recommended!

Michelle Sagara is the author of The Chronicles of Elantra. Cast in Wisdom is the newest—and fifteenth—book in the series.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/MIRA in exchange for an honest review.)

Best Books I Read in December (2019)

I only read 15 books in December, and most were just okay—good.

Here are the three I enjoyed the most:

Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell. Come on, you knew this was going to make the list! It’s my all-time favorite book. I get immersed in the culture—even the parts I don’t like—and the characters are so vivid. Scarlett, although almost entirely unlikable, is larger-than-life, and so is Rhett. Melanie is wonderful. Ashley is…meh. But the book itself is a wonderful, compelling read. (And, in case you’re wondering, it’s absolutely where the name of this blog came from.)

Take the Day Off, by Robert Morris. Yes, Pastor Robert is my pastor. But he writes such important spiritual truths, and my life, health, and well-being have all improved so much since I started implementing a Sabbath day of rest every week.

Higher Power Has a name, by Cavanaugh James. This was an interesting read. I haven’t read too many (if any) faith-based books talking about the problems in our current culture…written by someone who was born in this current culture (he’s a Millennial), so that was an interesting perspective on the present problems.

 

 

What I Read in 2019

My reading goal for 2019 was officially 175 books. Privately, I was hoping to read 200 books. I actually read 225 books!  Tracking my reading the past few years—digitally and in a reading journal—has been great.

My last book finished in 2019—and the decade—was Gone with the Wind, which is my favorite book ever! I’ve read it probably at least 20 times, and I still get made every time, cry, and want to slap Scarlett.

January: 17 books.

February: 14 books.

March: 18 books.

April: 18 books.

May: 17 books.

June: 20 books.

July: 20 books.

August: 24 books.

September: 21 books.

October:  21 books.

November:  20 books.

December:  15 books.