The Hollow Gods by A. J. Vrana

About the book:

Black Hollow is a town with a dark secret.

For centuries, residents have foretold the return of the Dreamwalker—an ominous figure from local folklore said to lure young women into the woods and possess them. Yet the boundary between fact and fable is blurred by a troubling statistic: occasionally, women do go missing. And after they return, they almost always end up dead.

When Kai wakes up next to the lifeless body of a recently missing girl, his memory blank, he struggles to clear his already threadbare conscience.

Miya, a floundering university student, experiences signs that she may be the Dreamwalker’s next victim. Can she trust Kai as their paths collide, or does he herald her demise?

And after losing a young patient, crestfallen oncologist, Mason, embarks on a quest to debunk the town’s superstitions, only to find his sanity tested.

A maelstrom of ancient grudges, forgotten traumas, and deadly secrets loom in the foggy forests of Black Hollow. Can three unlikely heroes put aside their fears and unite to confront a centuries-old evil? Will they uncover the truth behind the fable, or will the cycle repeat?

************************************************************

My review:

I picked up this book on NetGalley mainly because the cover caught my eye and the blurb sounded interesting. And this book was interesting, even though it’s definitely different from my usual fare.

I was fascinated by the folkloric aspects of the story, but must admit that it was also very easy for me to set this book aside in favor of other reads. In fact, I started this book over two months ago, and while it is over four hundred pages long, it usually doesn’t take me that much time to finish a book that I’m invested in. This obviously means I wasn’t very invested in this story.

Not that it wasn’t well-written! Vrana is very obviously well-versed in folklore and myth, and she masterfully created a story brimming with atmosphere. This felt like a fleshed-out version of a campfire story, meant to both entertain and make the listener more aware of the dangers around them.

Unfortunately, it felt a bit too fleshed-out at times for me, as if the climax of the story would never actually arrive, which is likely why I could set it down without fear of missing out.

So for these reasons, I’d probably give it 3.5 stars. (I’m so excited that I just found the star rating thingy that I just have to use it! Too bad it doesn’t do half-stars…) 😉

Rating: 3 out of 5.

If folklore and contemporary fantasy is your jam, I would recommend you check out The Hollow Gods by A.J. Vrana. Thanks to BooksGoSocial and NetGalley for the digital copy of this novel for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

Vestige of Hope by Sara Blackard

About the book:

Does his future lie in the past?

Thrown out of his element into a time not his own, he must overcome his doubts to save the life he never knew he wanted.

Soldier, Hunter Bennet, is always in control…

…control of his missions.

…control of his life.

…control of his emotions.

Until he hesitates on an important mission, leaving a child orphaned. Chased by the demons of failure, he finds himself thrown back in time. Why has God called him here?

Viola Thomas’s idyllic life in the new state of Colorado is shattered when her father fails to return from his winter trapping trip in the Rocky Mountains and a man tumbles into her life from the future. Threats from an unwanted suitor who has pestered her for years jeopardize all she holds dear. Now she must trust a man from a world far from her own.

Hunter must reach through the shadows of doubt to save his future but in doing so will he fail in the most important mission of all?

**************************************

My review:

I’ve had this book on my Kindle for quite a while, but kept putting off reading it for some reason. Now, I don’t know why I did, because it was an incredibly sweet story absolutely full of beautiful lessons. It’s a tale of accidental time travel, unexpected love, and undeniable faith.

Viola and her sister, Beatrice, amazed me, because they were so accepting of the idea of a man almost literally dropping in front of them from the future. But I appreciated that the author gave a reasonable explanation for their acceptance of such strangeness. And Hunter’s acceptance of his plight is downright admirable, but the author gives him viable reasons to stay, making his choices both understandable and logical.

But more than anything, the trust and hope that the characters have in God is inspiring. It’s not completely sappy, but honest and heartfelt. The author did a wonderful job of writing a realistic faith into her characters, one that all believers should strive for.

I definitely recommend you check out Sara Blackard’s Vestige of Hope. It’s the first book in her Vestige in Time series, which I hope to read all of soon!

Happy reading! 🙂

Gretchen and the Bear by Carrie Anne Noble

Happy Book Birthday to Carrie Anne Noble’s Gretchen and the Bear! The novel is released into the wild today, so be sure to grab a copy. Want to know more? Read on…

About the book:

Sixteen-year-old Gretchen has been waiting forever to trade life on a dreary orbiting station for life on gloriously regenerated Earth. Still, visiting faerie-infested Britannia is not on her agenda—especially since no human who’s ventured there has ever returned. But when her stepsister sneaks off to the island to meet a faerie boyfriend, Gretchen’s stepmother forces her to choose: risk death to rescue the runaway, or forfeit her father’s life.

Lost in the faeries’ forest, Gretchen meets a family of Bearfolk—fae who can shift between human and bear forms. Kindhearted seventeen-year-old Arthur volunteers to help, while his mother, who believes Gretchen is the heroic Silverhair of faerie legend, schemes to use the girl for darker purposes.

When the quest to save the runaway proves costly, will Gretchen and Arthur find the courage to sacrifice what they hold dearest to save the ones they love most?

***********************************************

My review:

On the surface, this is a sweet story about true love overcoming all obstacles. But really, this is an iceberg of a tale, packed with such depth of insight and feels that it will make you smile for long after you close the beautiful cover.

Gretchen and the Bear is a fabulous mash-up of genres with several dashes of favorite fairy tales thrown in for spice. You get a little post-apocalyptic science fiction, a bit of Cinderella, a soupçon of coming-of-age drama, a dose of Goldilocks, a heavy sprinkling of magical creatures, and a few smidgens of all sorts of fantasy, all tossed into one tasty story. It doesn’t sound like it should work, but the author certainly does an amazing job of melding it all together to produce a wonderful tale.

And I love the character arcs: both Gretchen and Arthur (and even Toby!) grow so much through their trials that they are wonderful inspirations for young adult readers.

I would highly recommend you snag a copy of Carrie Anne Noble’s Gretchen and the Bear as soon as possible. It’s a lovely story for both young adults and the not-so-young-adults as well. 😉

Many thanks to the author for the digital copy of this novel for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

Dead Silence by Robin Caroll

About the book:

Political games can be deadly…
 
Elise Carmichael is a court sign language interpreter who reads lips all the time. As a widow with a young son who is deaf, lip reading is simply second nature, until the day she reads the lips of someone on the phone discussing an attempt to be made on a senator’s life—a senator who just happens to be her mother-in-law. Before she can decide what she needs to do, she receives the information that her son is rushed to the ER and she must leave. Then she later sees the news report that her mother-in-law has been shot and killed. But when she comes forward, her life, as well as her son’s life, may now be in the crosshairs of the assassin.

************************************************

My review:

This book started off great. I was invested in the story almost immediately and couldn’t wait to learn how it all played out.

Unfortunately, after the first third of the book, I quickly lost interest. I had already figured out who the villain was, yet it took a few hundred more pages for the characters to finally come to the realization. Frustrating for a reader! You can only yell at a book so much before the people around you start to become concerned for your mental health. 😉

Also, Elise annoyed me too much. She would claim that all she wanted was to for the FBI to find out who killed her mother-in-law and to protect her and her son, but then she’d do childish, petty things to keep them from being able to do their jobs. And sure, the one agent was drawn as very immature and unprofessional, but Elise didn’t have to respond to her like a jealous girlfriend does to a rival.

And it kind of felt like it took forever for the story to find its climax and finally finish. And that finish wasn’t very realistic when it finally arrived. I know it’s fiction, but it’s also a bit of a police procedural and things at the end were allowed to happen that in no way would ever be allowed in a real situation. It made the climax of the story seem very forced.

So, overall, great start, but the rest lacked for me. Maybe you’ll enjoy it more! But I can’t recommend you run out and grab it. Bummer.

Thanks to Barbour Publishing and NetGalley for the digital copy of this novel for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive view. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

Full Disclosure by Dee Henderson

About the book:

Ann Silver is a cop’s cop. As the Midwest Homicide Investigator, she is called in to help local law enforcement on the worst of cases, looking for answers to murder. Hers is one of the region’s most trusted investigative positions.
Paul Falcon is the FBI’s top murder cop in the Midwest. If the victim carried a federal badge or had a security clearance, odds are good Paul and his team see the case file or work the murder.
Their lives intersect when Ann arrives to pass a case off her desk and onto his. A car wreck and a suspicious death offer a lead on a hired shooter he is tracking. Paul isn’t expecting to meet someone, the kind that goes on the personal side of the ledger, but Ann Silver has his attention.
The better he gets to know her, the more Paul realizes her job barely scratches the surface of who she is. She knows spies and soldiers and U.S. Marshals, and has written books about them. She is friends with the former Vice President. People with good reason to be cautious about who they let into their lives deeply trust her. Paul wonders just what secrets Ann is keeping, until she shows him the John Doe Killer case file, and he starts to realize just who this lady he is falling in love with really is…

**************************************************************

My review:

This was a really interesting read. There was enough mystery to keep you guessing, but also so much character work that it was kind of fascinating.

Henderson essentially built the core of Ann’s character on herself: Ann is credited with writing Henderson’s O’Malley series (which this story nicely dovetails with, but is still a standalone). But the coolest thing about that is how Henderson talked about being a writer and having a writer’s mind. I loved that! It gives a wonderful perspective on how an introverted writer thinks, creates, and survives in our world.

My book club read this, and we all agreed that it was a fun read. This is definitely a book I would recommend.

Whispers from the Depths by C.W. Briar

About the book:

“Joyful and blessed are Voice-bearers, for the Heavens have set them apart. “
As Whisperers gifted with the Voice, Betka and her people are enslaved. Only they can control the dangerous spirits that haunt the waters, but they are forced to serve under cruel taskmasters. Betka has little hope of freedom from her service or her own bitterness.

“They toil for the goodness of others.”
A powerful water spirit terrorizes the castle where Betka’s sister is serving. Betka is assigned to the crew sailing to face the foe, and she fears for the only family she has left. There is no mercy for the Whisperer who fails in their task.

“Rage is found nowhere in them.”
In the beleaguered, flooded castle, a new threat awaits—a magic more powerful and horrifying than anything they have ever seen. Loyalties will be tested, and enemies will become desperate allies.

Betka is their only hope of escape—if she can subdue the wrath that endangers them all.

“She who wields the waters for revenge drowns herself tenfold.”

§ § § § § § § § § § § § § § § § § §

My review:

I’ve been wanting to read this book for so long!! And now that I have, I want more!

Briar created a fascinating world, peopled with rich characters and built on a spectacular religious/magic system. Betka is such a beautiful character, whose arc takes her from humanly flawed to spiritually filled. She is an inspiring character that will stick with me for a long time.

I appreciated the back and forth through time that Briar used to allow us to see through Betka’s eyes, as well as through her grandfather’s. It seamlessly gave perspective on how his world became fractured and how they still have hope for the future.

This was such a good read! I can’t recommend it highly enough. If you love fantasy, you have to get a copy of Whispers from the Depths. Trust me. 🙂

Ghostly Vendetta by Michele Israel Harper

About the book:

“Dare to spend the night in mysterious Rutherford Hall! When? The 175th anniversary of the Rutherford family’s unsolved murder. Ghosts guaranteed. Cash prize: $5,000. Want more deets? Ask Tyler, Stewart, or James.”

I laughed aloud as I read the flyer. Yeah, right. To think that I, Candace Marshall, world’s biggest scaredy-cat, would go anywhere near some haunted house, much less spend the night in one. I crumpled the stupid thing, pitched it in the nearest trash can, and went on my merry, oblivious, and soon-to-be-scared-out-of-my-mind way.

* * *

Candace Marshall doesn’t do ghosts. Or zombies. Or vampires. Or mummies.

Anything scary, really.

When she finds herself signed up for a dare she’s gone out of her way to avoid, things spiral out of control. Quickly.

Stuck in a mansion alongside a vengeful spirit, a miffed boyfriend, and a room full of people she doesn’t know or even like (if she’s being completely honest here), she must decide whether to act brave or let the coward within show.

Or kill the person who got her involved in the first place.

§ § § § § § § § § § § § § §

My review:

I’ve read Michele Israel Harper’s Beauty and the Beast inspired fiction (Beast Hunter and Kill the Beast – both fabulous reads!), but had not been introduced to the Candace Marshall Chronicles, yet. So, I had no idea what to expect with Ghostly Vendetta. Now? I absolutely want to dive into Zombie Takeover, even though zombies are not exactly my thing. 😉 Quirky and cheeky with just enough terror to keep your heart pumping, Ghostly Vendetta is a fun read.

I think I enjoyed it so much because I saw a lot of myself in Candace (maybe too much…). It was great to live vicariously through her, since the odds of me staying the night in a haunted plantation are pretty darn slim! My only complaint is that she didn’t throw her boyfriend through a window or something. He’s the villain of this story, if you ask me, not the ghosts.

So, if you’re looking for a quick read with a good dose of fright balanced with a nice sprinkling of sass, I’d recommend you grab a copy of Ghostly Vendetta. Just maybe keep the lights on! 😉

Emberhawk by Jamie Foley

About the book:

The elementals have decided they’re gods, and humans are nothing but fuel for their fire.

A starving trapper.

Merciless drought withers Kira’s ranch, leaving her family hungry—and desperate enough to cross the border into the forbidden forest to trap wild game.

But the forest is infested with tree-scorpions and giant cats that wield elemental invisibility, and they’re hungry, too. When Kira mistakes one elemental creature for another, she ends up with the last thing she wants in her trap: an enemy soldier.

An invisible spy.

Ryon can’t afford to be a prisoner of war. If the Malaano Empire extracts his secrets, the rumors of war will be confirmed—and the tribes stand little chance against the Empire unless they can put aside generations of bad blood for the sake of a Tribal Alliance.

When Ryon’s escape leaves Kira injured and her livelihood in flames, Ryon must choose between aiding her… or returning to his chieftess with vital information. But can he survive the trek when an elemental pursues him for his rejected heritage?

A sacrificial princess.

Imperial Princess Vylia is given a powerful ancient stone as her wavesinger trials approach. But is the stone’s whispering voice from the water goddess, or a masquerading elemental the creator god imprisoned millennia ago?

When Vylia’s diplomatic mission to the tribal lands erupts in fiery revenge, she, Kira, and Ryon must work together to survive—or become pawns in the battle of the gods.

§ § § § § § § § § § §

My review:

I had no idea what to expect when I began reading this book. A few authors I follow had recommended it, so I figured it had to be pretty good. Honestly, it was better than pretty good. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Emberhawk.

The author crafted a spectacular world, filled with remarkable characters caught up in a story of intrigue, survival, and heart. Her religious/magic system was so interesting and so intricate that I was almost immediately pulled into the world of the Katrosi Revolution. After diving in, this was a riptide of a story that I was happily swept away with. Of course, I wouldn’t want to find myself trapped in a tree-scorpion nest!

I would highly recommend you grab a copy of Emberhawk and get lost in Jamie Foley’s world. Just watch out for trace cats. 😉

Many thanks to BooksGoSocial and NetGalley for the e-copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

Cover Reveal for Gretchen and the Bear

So, I am super excited to read this one! Carrie Anne Noble’s latest book will be out in the wild soon, but until then, here’s a description to pique your interest…

She’s only just moved to the regenerated Earth from an orbiting station, and now sixteen-year-old Gretchen must travel to dangerous, Faerie-ruled Britain to rescue her runaway stepsister. There, she meets the Bearfolk–people who sometimes take the form of bears. Kindhearted seventeen-year-old Arthur wants to help, but his scheming mother plans to use Gretchen to win an age-old Faerie war. When the mission proves costly, will Gretchen and Arthur find the courage to sacrifice what they love most to save the ones they hold most dear?

Sounds fascinating, doesn’t it??

And now, drum roll please………

You can preorder Gretchen and the Bear on Amazon, and get your own copy as soon as it releases in June!

Happy reading! 🙂

Kings Falling by Ronie Kendig

About the book:

Leif Metcalfe and his team, dubbed Reaper, need to recover the stolen, ancient Book of the Wars if they hope to stop the Armageddon Coalition and their pursuit of global economic control. But their attention has been diverted by a prophecy in the book that foretells of formidable guardians who will decimate the enemies of ArC. While Iskra Todorova uses her connections in the covert underworld to hunt down the Book of the Wars, Leif and Reaper attempt to neutralize these agents but quickly find themselves outmaneuvered and outgunned.

The more Reaper tries to stop the guardians, the more failure becomes a familiar, antagonistic foe. Friendships are fractured, and the team battles to hold it together long enough to defeat ArC. But as this millennia-old conspiracy creeps closer and closer to home, the implications could tear Leif and the team apart.

***************************************************

My review:

So, I take a break from reviews for a few weeks and the world goes crazy. Coincidence?? (Just kidding!) Anyway…

This second book in Ronie Kendig’s Book of the Wars series had me from page one. I loved Kendig’s Tox Files series, and never expected to enjoy the spin-off Book of the Wars series as much as I do. But, can I tell you a secret? I think I actually like the spin-off even more!

As in all of Kendig’s book that I’ve read, her characters are so very well-crafted that sometimes you don’t know who is “good” and who is “evil.” The levels and depths she creates within each character are mind-blowing. And her plots keep me turning pages long after I should be asleep. But who needs sleep when the Reaper team is trying to save the world?

I could not stop reading Kings Falling. It was absolutely non-stop from the first moment right to the final pages, and now I am desperate for the next book! I highly recommend you pick up Ronie Kendig’s Kings Falling (unless, of course, you haven’t read the first book in The Book of the Wars series, Storm Rising, because you really should read it first). You will find yourself absolutely swept up in the action, wonderfully oblivious to all the craziness going on around you right now!

Many thanks to Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for the digital copy of this novel for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂