Reviews

Review: The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk

Book Review

The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk
Fantasy, Romance, Historical Fiction
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Synopsis
Beatrice Clayborn is a sorceress who practices magic in secret, terrified of the day she will be locked into a marital collar that will cut off her powers to protect her unborn children. She dreams of becoming a full-fledged Magus and pursuing magic as her calling as men do, but her family has staked everything to equip her for Bargaining Season, when young men and women of means descend upon the city to negotiate the best marriages. The Clayborns are in severe debt, and only she can save them, by securing an advantageous match before their creditors come calling.

In a stroke of luck, Beatrice finds a grimoire that contains the key to becoming a Magus, but before she can purchase it, a rival sorceress swindles the book right out of her hands. Beatrice summons a spirit to help her get it back, but her new ally exacts a price: Beatrice’s first kiss . . . with her adversary’s brother, the handsome, compassionate, and fabulously wealthy Ianthe Lavan.

The more Beatrice is entangled with the Lavan siblings, the harder her decision becomes: If she casts the spell to become a Magus, she will devastate her family and lose the only man to ever see her for who she is; but if she marries—even for love—she will sacrifice her magic, her identity, and her dreams. But how can she choose just one, knowing she will forever regret the path not taken?

What I thought

Thank you Erewhon Books and Netgalley for giving me an ARC copy of this book for an honest review. All thoughts and feelings expressed are my own.

*Note: Please read past the first paragraph. I sum up the points of the story first.

This is a historical fantasy that put me in the mind of Victorian London. In this story, Beatrice is at her first Bargaining Season. It is very obvious that this is the only season that she is going to get and she has no choice but to attract a suitor. The Bargaining Season is only for girls that have magical ability. It has been decided in this world that only men are allowed to move forward in the pursuit of magic and women who have the ability are “sold off” to be able to produce more magical children. Once women marry they are put into collars until their husbands let them out. Which usually only happens after they are no longer able to produce children. This is portrayed as a for their own protection move.

Okay now that I have that boiled down to what sounds like a huge gripe let me tell you that I really enjoyed this story. I loved watching these girls (Beatrice and Ysbeta) take charge of their futures and not letting someone else decide what they are meant for. I love watching strong female characters take charge.

Yes, this story does have some instalove, however, I have to think that Ianthe liked/appreciate that Beatrice did not hold back and pretend to be the perfect debutante with him. When asked she told him what she wanted even though it could have had her collared before her marriage and I think that on some level he loved that part of her.

One character that I could not stand was Beatrice’s father. There was something at the beginning of the story that gave me a weird vibe about him and it just got worse as the story went on. He did not deserve the family that he had. But that is just my opinion.

All in all, I really enjoyed this story and I wouldn’t mind a spinoff to see what Ysbeta has been up to.

My Rating: /5

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Reviews

Review: The Princess Knight by G.A. Aiken

Book Review

The Princess Knight by G.A. Aiken
(The Scarred Earth Saga #2)
Fantasy
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Synopsis
LONG LIVE THE QUEEN

Gemma Smythe dedicated her life to the glory of battle. With her fellow War Monks, she worshipped the war gods, rained destruction on her enemies, and raised the dead when the fancy took her. Until her sister Keeley became the prophesied Blacksmith Queen, and Gemma broke faith with her order to journey to the Amichai Mountain and fight by Keeley’s side.

The Amichai warriors are an unruly, never-to-be-tamed lot, especially their leader-in-waiting, Quinn. But when the War Monks declare support for Gemma’s ruthless younger sister Beatrix, the immaturity of her key ally is the least of Gemma’s problems. She has to get to the grand masters, dispel their grudge against her, and persuade them to fight for Keeley and justice. If her conviction can’t sway them, perhaps Quinn’s irritating, irreverent, clearly unhinged, ferocity will win the day . . .

What I thought
Thank you Kensington Books and Netgalley for giving me an ARC copy of this book for an honest review. All thoughts and feelings expressed are my own.

This was one of my most anticipated books this year.  Ever since I finished the first book I found myself looking up frequently to see if the next book was announced yet.  So I was so happy when I saw that it was and I was so happy when I was approved for this book.

This is the second book in The Scarred Earth Saga, and it takes place two years after the events in the first book.  Yes, it is important that you read the first book before you pick this one up. I am specifying this since I saw that question posed. 

This book focuses on Brother Gemma, Keeley’s sister and her champion.  In the first book Gemma was a solid second tier character but you learned so little about her.  I am so happy that his book is about her because there was just so much unknown about her it made her hard to connect to.  This book answers so many questions about Gemma and why she is the way that she is.  It goes so much deeper than just her being a War Monk.  In this book Gemma grows so much and by the end she is on the path to really coming to her own. 

This book is full of strong, take no crap, female characters and I loved every minute of it.  The banter that goes on had me laughing out loud more than once.  I really liked the fact that the romance that is in the book did not take over the story.  It is there but not the main focus point and for me I really enjoyed that.

In this book you see the world really expand and you get to see more groups from all over and you get a really good look at what is possible to come. 

I really loved this book and I can not wait for the next one to come out.  I have a feeling I know which sister will be featured in book 3 and I can not wait for it. 

My Rating: /5

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Memes · TBR

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? November 23, 2020

It's Monday What are you reading.png

Good Morning!

It’s the start of another week. It’s Monday! What are you Reading is hosted by Kathryn from Book Date, this is a weekly event to share what we’ve read in the past week and what we hope to read, plus whatever else comes to mind.

Recent Books

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson | Historical, Mystery, Crime | Add to Goodreads

Author Erik Larson imbues the incredible events surrounding the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair with such drama that readers may find themselves checking the book’s categorization to be sure that ‘The Devil in the White City’ is not, in fact, a highly imaginative novel. Larson tells the stories of two men: Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair’s construction, and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor.

Burnham’s challenge was immense. In a short period of time, he was forced to overcome the death of his partner and numerous other obstacles to construct the famous “White City” around which the fair was built. His efforts to complete the project, and the fair’s incredible success, are skillfully related along with entertaining appearances by such notables as Buffalo Bill Cody, Susan B. Anthony, and Thomas Edison.

The activities of the sinister Dr. Holmes, who is believed to be responsible for scores of murders around the time of the fair, are equally remarkable. He devised and erected the World’s Fair Hotel, complete with crematorium and gas chamber, near the fairgrounds and used the event as well as his own charismatic personality to lure victims.

Combining the stories of an architect and a killer in one book, mostly in alternating chapters, seems like an odd choice but it works. The magical appeal and horrifying dark side of 19th-century Chicago are both revealed through Larson’s skillful writing. – John Moe


The Joy of Christmas Present by L.G. Rollins | (A Dickens of a Christmas Book 2) | Regency Romance, Proper Romance, Christmas Story | Add to Goodreads

Helena Spencer will never forgive the Earl of Chapman for snubbing her so publicly. It wasn’t her idea that they get married, after all. She was practically a bystander to the whole debacle, yet she alone bore the brunt of society’s judgment. Snubbed by an earl? She’d likely never recover. But then she finds herself at the same holiday house party with Lord Chapman. What a way to ruin Christmas.

After his father’s sudden death, Lord Chapman had little choice but to step into a life he hardly felt ready for. He quickly learned that everyone had opinions about how an earl’s life should look, even the aging relative who tried to marry him off to a woman he’d never even met. Now he had to spend Christmas at a house party with his mother and sisters? What a wretched way to spend the festive season.

With their shared history, Helena and Lord Chapman are unlikely friends. But when circumstances continue to throw them together, Helena presses the earl to help repair the damage he inflicted on her reputation by aiding her attempt to snag a husband from among the gentlemen at the party. The only trouble? Lord Chapman is falling for Helena’s charms himself. Would that she allow the gentleman that wins her heart to be him.


Currently Reading


The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab | Historical Fantasy | Add to Goodreads

A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.



The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K.S. Villoso | (Chronicles of the Bitch Queen #1) | Epic Fantasy | Add to Goodreads

A queen of a divided land must unite her people, even if they hate her, even if it means stopping a ruin that she helped create. A debut epic fantasy from an exciting new voice.

“I murdered a man and made my husband leave the night before they crowned me.”

Born under the crumbling towers of Oren-yaro, Queen Talyien was the shining jewel and legacy of the bloody War of the Wolves that nearly tore her nation apart. Her upcoming marriage to the son of her father’s rival heralds peaceful days to come.

But his sudden departure before their reign begins fractures the kingdom beyond repair.

Years later, Talyien receives a message, urging her to attend a meeting across the sea. It’s meant to be an effort at reconciliation, but an assassination attempt leaves the queen stranded and desperate to survive in a dangerous land. With no idea who she can trust, she’s on her own as she struggles to fight her way home. 


What are you hoping to read this week?

Let’s chat in the comments below!

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Reviews

Review: The Joy of Christmas Present by L.G. Rollins

Book Review

The Joy of Christmas Present by L.G. Rollins
(A Dickens of a Christmas Book 1)
Regency Romance, Proper Romance, Christmas Story

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Synopsis
Helena Spencer will never forgive the Earl of Chapman for snubbing her so publicly. It wasn’t her idea that they get married, after all. She was practically a bystander to the whole debacle, yet she alone bore the brunt of society’s judgment. Snubbed by an earl? She’d likely never recover. But then she finds herself at the same holiday house party with Lord Chapman. What a way to ruin Christmas.

After his father’s sudden death, Lord Chapman had little choice but to step into a life he hardly felt ready for. He quickly learned that everyone had opinions about how an earl’s life should look, even the aging relative who tried to marry him off to a woman he’d never even met. Now he had to spend Christmas at a house party with his mother and sisters? What a wretched way to spend the festive season.

With their shared history, Helena and Lord Chapman are unlikely friends. But when circumstances continue to throw them together, Helena presses the earl to help repair the damage he inflicted on her reputation by aiding her attempt to snag a husband from among the gentlemen at the party. The only trouble? Lord Chapman is falling for Helena’s charms himself. Would that she allow the gentleman that wins her heart to be him.

What I thought
I received a copy of this book from the Author, in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Another amazing book by L. G. Rollins!  Really she is an amazing author. Once again I was sucked in and I found it very hard to put down.  This is the second book in her A Dickens of a Christmas trilogy.  The first book focuses on Christmas Past, the second on Christmas Present, and the third on Christmas Future.  These books can all be read as a standalone so no worries if you have not picked up the first one yet.  You can start with this one and you would not have missed a thing.  These books are not a retelling of a Christmas Carol but use key elements from the original story to build the basis of this story.  The tie-in of these threes book is Mr. Scrooge, he plays a different role in each book.

I loved watching these characters grow and come into their own.  Helena and Fred both have so much on their plates and grow into their own as the story progresses.  Fred does some really dumb things, but his heart is always in the right place.  I loved how Emily, Christina, and Eleanor all banded together to help Helena. You can not go wrong with a strong female friendship in the midst of scandal and gossip.  

This book gave me everything that I needed when I read it and I can not wait until the next book comes out!

My Rating: /5

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Wrap Up

October 2020 Wrap-up

Monthly Wrapup

Hello you wonderful people.

Welcome to my October wrap-up.  I know that I have not been consistent with these, but 2020 has been just one fire after another. So I am trying to make an effort to deliver constant posts to you guys.

I am very happy with what I read this month. I created a TBR for October even though I am a mood reader for a few reasons. 1) I have a number of books for reviews that I want to try to get finished before the end of the year, 2) I decided to do a month long read-a-thon for October because it just sounded like fun, and 3) I had quite a few of library holds that were coming to me in October. I was able to finish all of my books but 1, however I had to add a book to my TBR that was sent by an author for a tour in November.

Before I get to the books that I finished I want to tell you about some podcasts that I have been enjoying.

  1. On Purpose
  2. The Hidden Djinn
  3. Lore
  4. Cabinet of Curiosities
  5. The Morbid Curiosity Podcast

On Purpose

On Purpose podcast brings fascinating conversations with some of the most insightful people in the world straight to viewers all over the world. Listen to new episodes on Mondays and Fridays anywhere you get your podcasts. Live life today On Purpose!

The Hidden Djinn

Ancient, powerful, and hidden from the human eye, djinn lore spans continents and centuries. Join host Rabia Chaudry every week as she takes you into the world you never even knew existed, the world of The Hidden Djinn.

Lore

Lore is a podcast about non-fiction scary stories. Each episode examines historical events that show the dark side of human nature and is presented in a style that’s been compared to a campfire experience.

Cabinet of Curiosities

Cabinet of Curiosities is an audio tour of the unbelievable, the unsettling, and the bizarre. Each episode features two short tales about the most amazing things found in the pages of history.

The Morbid Curiosity Podcast

The Morbid Curiosity Podcast Morbid Curiosity Podcast. A podcast for the morbidly curious. From serial killers to ghosts, ancient curses to obscure medical conditions, let us satisfy your curiosity. (Some episodes may not be appropriate for children.

5 Star Reads

Dead Woman Scorned by Michael Clark | (The Patience of a Dead Man #2) | Horror/ Paranormal | 5 Stars| Add to Goodreads

The Hope of Christmas Past by L.G. Rollins | A Dickens of a Christmas Book 1 | Regency Romance, Christmas Story | 5 Stars |Add to Goodreads

4 Star Reads

My Lady Quicksilver by Bec McMaster | (London Steampunk #3) | Victorian Romance, Steampunk| 4 Stars | Add to Goodreads

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu | Graphic Novel, Fantasy | 4 Stars | Add to Goodreads

Nocturne by Kat Ross | (The Fourth Talisman #1) | Young Adult, Fantasy | Add to Goodreads

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig | Young Adult, Retelling, Fantasy | Add to Goodreads

One Flew Through the Dragon Heart by C.S. Johnson | (Favan & Flew #1) | Steampunk, Fantasy, Romance | Add to Goodreads

Elemental Links by M.A. Leon | Steel and Magic | Fantasy | Add to Goodreads

Midnight Temptation by Shari Nichols | (Ravens Hollow Coven) | Fantasy, Romance | Add to Goodreads

3 Star Reads

Clash of the Demons by Joseph Delaney | (The Last Apprentice #6) | Young Adult, Fantasy | 3 Stars | Add to Goodreads

Hocus Pocus & The All New Sequel by A.W. Jantha | Young Adult, Paranormal | 3 Stars | Add to Goodreads

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson | Science Fiction | Add to Goodreads

The Best of No Small Thing – Mindful Meditations by Deborah Hawkins | Collection of Blog Posts/ Non-Fiction | Add to Goodreads

The Lost Book of the White by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu | (The Eldest Curses #2) | Young Adult, Fantasy | Add to Goodreads

Alpha’s Revenge by Catherine Stine | (Royal Alpha Wolves Club #3) | Paranormal Romance, Shape-Shifters, Supernatural | Add to Goodreads

How was your reading month?

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New Releases

Blog Tour: The Best of No Small Thing by Deborah Hawkins @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #NonFiction

Welcome to the book tour for The Best of No Small Thing with its accompanying gratitude workbook, Practice Gratitude. This unique collection of blog posts is by author, Deborah Hawkins!

Read on for details and a chance to win a set of books!

The Best of No Small Thing by Deborah Hawkins
Publication Date: December 2019
Genre: Collection of Blog Posts/ Non-Fiction

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Amazon | Barnes & Noble


No Small Thing – Mindful Meditations (NoSmallThing.net) was launched in 2010 with the intention of reflecting on experiences that generated feelings of gratitude in order to create a positive mood and orientation to life. As of fall of 2019, over 500 reflections (mindful meditations) have been published along with over 100 tips that can be employed in a gratitude practice.

This mindfulness process is detailed in a companion book, Practice Gratitude: Transform Your Life. It emphasizes the creation of personal gratitude themes, one’s Grateful Dozen, which can help a person see things that spark grateful feelings in new situations. This is a collection of favorite blog posts that came out of this process.

Practice Gratitude: Transform Your Life by Deborah Hawkins
Publication Date: December 2019
Genre: Practice Guide/ Gratitude Journal

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For several decades, studies have supported the idea that gratitude has many positive benefits. It boosts optimism, a sense of personal control, and even enhances relationships. Keeping a simple gratitude journal, where daily entries are made identifying things that spark gratitude, has become a very popular. Deborah Hawkins, originator of NoSmallThing.net, goes beyond listing little boons to generate good feelings. In this book, she teaches techniques for mindfulness, self-inquiry, and writing to build memories that activate strong positive emotions. This guide and workbook helps readers understand what kinds of personal experiences prompt uplifting feelings of gratitude in them, develop broad themes that apply to these experiences, and then use these themes to see and experience gratitude in new situations. This approach can empower anyone to begin each new day with confidence that things they love and value are already present. A companion book, Best of No Small Thing – Mindful Meditations provides examples of posts that were written using this process.

Since I started writing down my mindful meditations, I have tried to pay extra attention to things that affect me, things that change my mood or outlook, or simply things that I’m grateful for. Keeping an eye out for these kinds of things has brought up memories of my father and some paradoxical advice he tried to impart.

My father died when he was sixty-two. I was in my mid-twenties and going through a divorce. He was not around often when I was growing up as he worked very long hours, but his presence was oh so constant. We didn’t go to many ballgames together or to the park. He didn’t teach me how to drive or mentor me in some important life skills, but I knew he loved me very much.

Starting when I was about thirteen, he used to pull me under his arm and repeat an odd phrase. “Don’t worry about the little things. It’s the big things that are important.” Then he’d add, as if confiding something more profound to me, “Don’t worry about the big things. It’s the little things that are important.”

I received a copy of this book from the Author and R&R Book Tours, in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Best of No Small Thing compiles the author’s favorite blog posts from her blog NoSmallThing.net that she launched in 2010.  This range of stories has something to touch everyone.  The purpose of these stories is to show that in life there really are no “small” things that you can draw meaning from everything.  Personally, I find that it’s the “small” things that have the biggest impact.  This book could not have picked a better year to come out.  With so much going on in the world we need to take every win we get especially if they are “small”. After reading these stories and using the workbook I noticed how my perception has changed.  I am looking for the good more often than not and with the year we all have had that makes a world of a difference.  The more you notice the small things it kinda balances out the stress of our everyday lives. 

GIVEAWAY!!!

Enter to win a set of these books ! There are 2 sets up for grabs!

ENTER HERE!

Returning to her hometown in 2008, after nearly one year spent, unsuccessfully, trying to create a new career in a new town, Deborah Hawkins found herself fighting depression and struggling to maintain solvency. In her early fifties, looking for financial help from her family was especially hard. A car accident, caused by an uninsured driver, kept her off her feet for months. She felt cursed.

She began blogging on gratitude in 2010 as a way to focus on positives and elevate her mood. Inspired by Eckhart Tolle’s words, “Acknowledging the good that is already in your life is the foundation for all abundance,” she developed a mindfulness orientation for her own gratitude practice. This practice led her to post weekly over the last decade; around 500 posts.

Beyond traditional gratitude journals and lists, Deborah’s approach focuses on understanding things that sparked gratitude in past experiences and using this understanding to identify similar qualities in new situations. She attributes her gratitude practice with bringing a sense of empowerment and contentment to her life.

She plans to make her process available as a tele-seminar in the near future. Deborah has a BA from Knox College and lives in Chicago.

November 16th
Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com
The Faerie Review (Review) http://www.thefaeriereview.com
Rambling Mads (Spotlight) http://ramblingmads.com

November 17th
Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com
The Cozy Pages (Spotlight) http://thecozypages.wordpress.com/
Tsarina Press (Spotlight) https://www.tsarinapress.com

November 18th
B is for Book Review (Spotlight) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com
Sophil Reads (Review) https://sophrilreads.wordpress.com
Stine Writing (Review) https://christinebialczak.com/

November 19th
@BrendaJeanCombs (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/brendajeancombs/
@bookandwinelovers (Review) https://www.instagram.com/bookandwinelovers/
@thecrookedhouse (Review) https://www.instagram.com/thecrookedhouse/

November 20th
Didi Oviatt (Review) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com
@burlingtonbibliophagist (Review) https://www.instagram.com/burlingtonbibliophagist/
Meli’s Book Reviews (Spotlight) https://melisbokreviews.wordpress.com/

Book Blitz Organized By:
R&R Book Tours

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New Releases

Waiting On Wednesday: Never Call Me Vampire by Tamara Grantham

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday was a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. Each Wednesday you got to highlight a book that you were really looking forward to. Unfortunately, the original creator is no longer able to host the meme and it has now linked up with Can’t Wait Wednesday over at Wishful Endings.

This week I’ve chosen:

Never Call Me Vampire by Tamara Grantham
(Legends of Crimson Hollow Book 1)
Genre:
Expected Publication: November 24, 2020
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The world calls him vampire.

But that’s not who I know. He’s my fellow patient at Crimson Hollow, a facility for those infected with the vampire virus. He’s lived for more than a century and been called many things. Vagabond. Circus freak. Prisoner. Murderer. Now he’s the world’s most famous person. He receives blood transfusions to stay conscious and rarely leaves the facility. He’ll never be free. Except in death.

And that was what he wanted…until I arrived. All I wanted was a cure. I wasn’t planning to fall in love.

He knows too much about my secret. And I’ve learned too much about his past.
Someone is plotting to unleash a serum that will destroy the entire world as we know it. But to save everyone—we must sacrifice ourselves.

The world calls him vampire.

But only he and I know the truth.

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