Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 books I definitely plan to read this year

Top 5 Tuesday was created by Shanah at Bionic Book Worm, and it is my absolute privilege and pleasure to say that it is now being hosted here, at Meeghan reads!!

Top 5 Tuesday. Originally created by Shanah at Bionic Book Worm. Hosted by Meeghan reads.
  1. Blood Heir by Amélie Wen Zhao

2. Onyx & Ivory by Mindee Arnett

3. Dark Temptress by Annette Marie

4. The Empty Grave by Jonathan Stroud

5. The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh



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TTT: Books I Meant to Read In 2020 but Didn’t Get To

Top Ten Tuesday is run by Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl and you should definitely go give her blog some love.

10. Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst

9. Fall of Night by Tyffany Hackett & Becky Moynihan

8. To Wear a Fae Crown by Tessonja Odette

7. Court of Bitter Thorn by Kay L. Moody

6. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

5. Beast of the Night by E.E. Rawls

4. A Reaper At the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

3. Moonscript by H.S.J. Williams

2. Lady Smoke by Laura Sebastian

  1. Treacherous Love by Stacy Trombley


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Monday, January 4, 2021

The Watchers of Moniah by Barbara V. Evers

The Watchers of Moniah cover

Watchers of Moniah
Barbara V. Evers
DESCRIPTION
Impulsive princess, Adana, isn’t eligible to be queen yet. But then her mother dies. The queen’s last royal act is a decree that seals Adana’s fate. She’s sent to allies for her protection, separated from her telepathically bonded giraffe, removed from warrior training, PLUS a dead traitor isn’t dead and wants her throne.
Ultimately, Adana must find a way to adjust to a formal, patriarchal society and a kingdom of walls and mountains unlike the flat plains of home. The structures that protect also barricade and deny her full Watcher inheritance, a key element of the matriarchal Moniah. The Watchers of Moniah, the first book in The Watchers of Moniah trilogy, introduces a world of women warriors on the cusp of potential annihilation and subjugation, who must find a way to secure the future without negating their past.

EXCERPT

Prologue
Queen Chiora of Moniah leaned back on her throne, her gaze steady on the traitor, Maligon.
The sight of her once truest friend tightened the knot in her stomach. The gathered nobles hushed
as he strode past them, head held high, escorted by two women of the queen’s Watchers. The
heat in the air lay thick as a blanket. The silence matched it. Chiora resisted the urge to shift in
her seat as sweat pooled inside her uniform, the leathers chosen over ceremonial dress to remind
him she was a soldier, not just a figurehead.
Sunlight poured into the open courtyard and radiated across the landowners’ formal robes of
glimmer cloth, creating a rainbow of iridescent color around them. Normally, she enjoyed the
play of the sunlight on their clothing, but today she couldn’t. Today, they waited to witness the
sentencing of the man who dared bring destruction to the kingdoms.
The Watchers and Maligon came to a stop below Chiora’s Seat of Authority. He wore the
plain clothes of a prisoner but still stood tall and well-muscled, his dark hair tied back in a
fighter’s tail. His black eyes once caressed her in love, but now they radiated hatred so pure it
shimmered in the air.
“Maligon,” Queen Chiora spoke, her voice firm and strong, “you betrayed me. And so you
betrayed us all. And for what? Power you didn’t need.”
Maligon’s black eyes didn’t blink. He sneered at her. His injured hand twitched. She
watched it with dispassionate interest. He’d never wield a sword again, a satisfying bit of
knowledge even if he was about to die.
She took a focused breath, centering her mind and soul. “I sentence you to wear the oxen
head into the desert.”
A low murmur of approval hummed through the onlookers.
Maligon continued to stare venom at her as she gestured to the Watchers. “Take him from
my sight.”
The two Watchers, dressed in the tanned leather tunics and leggings of Chiora’s all-female
guard, escorted Maligon from the hall. He walked between the tall soldiers, head still held high.
Chiora drew a deep breath, the tension in her muscles easing as the air spread into her chest
and throughout her body. She took another breath, and another. With each controlled inhalation,
she drew her focus inward, preparing to bear witness as her soldiers carried out Maligon’s
sentence outside the walls of her fortress. The sentence would finish him. The heat, even this far
from the desert bordering her lands, baked the air.
As her breathing settled into a steady rhythm, she sent a tendril of thought into the telepathic
link with Ju’latti, her royal giraffe. Tension slid from her neck and shoulders as the noble beast
embraced the connection. Through this link, Chiora looked through the animal’s eyes and saw a
throng of tribal villagers gathered outside the walls of the fortress. They stood near the horses
where the soldiers led Maligon, but not too close. She couldn’t blame them after the devastation
the traitor and his followers wreaked on their lands.
Two Watchers lashed Maligon to the back of a donkey, securing the bindings so neither
traitor nor beast could dislodge the man. Then they handed a large skin bucket to a squad of First
Soldiers, the male branch of Moniah’s military. At the edge of the desert, the soldiers would
remove a water-soaked oxen head from the bucket and secure it over Maligon’s.
Chiora squinted at the sky. The sun, now a short distance above the horizon, promised a
scorching day. Just before it reached its pinnacle, the First Soldiers would place the suffocating
weight of the oxen head over Maligon’s. A few hours later, the soldiers would stab the donkey’s
rump, driving it farther into the desert. In the heat, the wet oxen head would dry and conform to
Maligon. Suffocation would kill him long before the donkey collapsed from exhaustion.
And if he survived? Chiora shook her head. No one had survived this sentence in hundreds
of years.
The thought of this torturous death repulsed her, but Maligon made his choice when he
defied Moniah and her allied kingdoms of Elwar, Belwyn, and Teletia. He didn’t deserve the pity
that rose in her throat.
As the soldiers and Maligon disappeared beyond the fortress walls, Chiora released the
remaining tension in her shoulders and let the giraffe’s gentling influence wash over her. Only
Ju’latti truly knew her thoughts and feelings on this ominous day, and in the way of their long
relationship, the animal sought to comfort her by cutting off the sharing of sight and focusing on
the soothing sounds of the large, life-giving fountains in the Great Hall.
The queen focused on the gentle bubbling and ignored the stream of sweat trickling between
her shoulder blades. “Send in the champions.”
The assemblage shouted their approval as two foreigners walked forward to accept the
accolades they deserved. The men’s lighter coloring no longer startled Chiora unlike the day she
and a squad of Watchers found them at the bottom of a muddy cliff. The man on the right,
Micah, saved her life during the war with Maligon. Her gaze ran over his tall, lithe build in
appreciation. Light hair, bleached white from the sun, glowed against his Monian-kissed suntan
like bones on the prairie. Clear blue eyes gazed at her with startling familiarity, stuttering the
pulse in her neck.
She drew another calming breath as his companion knelt before her. Unlike Micah, this
man’s fair skin had blistered and burned in the harsh sun of their land, a point that favored the
reward she would grant him.
Micah maintained his focus on her and nodded in acknowledgement before kneeling. Chiora
breathed deeper to suppress the shiver of excitement prompted by his forthright behavior.
“Our dear champions.” Her low-pitched voice echoed throughout the huge open hall. She
thanked the Creator that it came out strong and clear, with no hint of the emotions tumbling her
soul. “Your journey from beyond the northern mountains came at a fortuitous time. Your
courage in the face of our recent struggles brought peace to our lands. As reward, the kingdoms
have decided to grant you titles and property.” She turned to Micah’s companion. “Donel, you
will be known as Sir Donel and receive land as a vassal to Queen Roassa of Elwar.”
A glimmer of a smile ghosted his face. She suspected his pleasure stemmed from admiration
for Roassa rather than the title and cooler climate. Her sister queen shared this interest and had
suggested his placement in Elwar rather than Moniah.
Whereas, Chiora could not stop thinking about the other man before her. Micah.
She stood and approached him, placing her hand on his shoulder in the formal greeting
reserved for one of her subjects. “As for you, Micah—”
As her fingers settled on his rough, leather vest, the bond with Ju’latti surged into her mind
in a flash of light. She gasped, closing her eyes. An image appeared. Micah stood by her side.
Between them stood a young girl, her skin a blending of Chiora’s amber-colored skin and
Micah’s pale complexion. The child’s hair was twisted into a Watcher’s braid the shades of a
lion’s mane. In the image, the girl walked away from her parents. With each step, they faded
from view, first Chiora, and then Micah. The girl continued to walk forward, alone.
The landscape around the child changed, first the flat plains of Moniah, then the mountains
and forests of Elwar. With each step, the girl matured. She halted at the top of a hill, now a
young woman dressed in leathers, a quiver of arrows strung over her back, a sword at her side.
The shadow of a man emerged from the forests and stood beside her. A divided path lay before
them, one route blocked by a monstrous blazing fire, the other by a wall taller than the eye could
see. The young woman raised her head, blue eyes blazing, and stepped forward, aiming for the
point where the two paths merged together in a wall of conflagration. The man’s shadow
followed.
Chiora bent over, gasping for air, as the vision faded. Two Teachers of the Faith rushed to
her side, their green robes swaying in their urgency to support their queen, but Chiora remained
upright, her fingers digging into Micah’s shoulder. He rose to steady her, a look of concern in his
eyes. She gazed back at him, the warmth of his touch flooding her veins.
The Creator had not only sent her a champion to help defeat Maligon, he had sent her a
partner. They would make a strong child together, an heir to Moniah’s Seat of Authority. A child
who would face insurmountable struggles.


Part I
Chapter 1
Moniah, 20 Years Later
Adana believed deep within her soul that her actions today could save her mother. The
familiarity of the dirt-packed ground of the archery arena and the blazing Monian sun beating
down on her did little to distract her from the haze of incense hovering over the fortress. Incense
that proclaimed the illness of her mother, Queen Chiora of Moniah.
Tiny rivulets of sweat trickled down the contour of Adana’s back. She focused on the damp
track as it ran beneath her leathers. Anything to pull her mind from the weight of grief hanging
over her and the kingdom.
She couldn’t lose her mother. Not yet. Not when she still needed her guidance, teaching, and
even scolding when she forgot her training as a soldier and acted like a princess.
The work of a soldier came first. Not the princess. And definitely not her future as the
queen. Even the laws of the land knew this. Three years until she could rule at eighteen. Too
soon.
She glanced at Montee, the Watcher assigned to work with her today. Montee hadn’t moved,
standing still, arms hanging by her side, attention focused on the young princess. Adana expected
her to say something. She had taken too long to make this shot, but Montee waited.
As did everyone, today. Waited for their queen to die.
If she met this challenge, passed this test, would the Creator reward her and heal her
mother? Give her back the time she needed, the parent she craved?
She drew an arrow and nocked it to her bow.
Nine arrows in a straight line pierced the scarred target wall in the distance. A significant
feat and cause for jubilation for most trainees, but she didn’t rejoice. Not yet. Not until she fired
this last shaft. Sent true to its mark, she prayed it would prove her worth to the Creator and save
her mother. She didn’t care about the promotion in the ranks of the Watchers, the fact that no
fifteen-year-old had ever passed this test. She only needed to please the Creator.
She inhaled. The noxious fumes of the incense, thick and cloying, settled around her. She
wanted to run, to shake her head, to escape the reminder, but instead she raised her bow.
A nudge at her mind disturbed her focus. Am’brosia, her royal giraffe, offering assistance
with this last shot. The animal had hovered in the background of her thoughts all morning,
seeking to connect, to comfort Adana, but she’d closed her internal eye and ignored the contact,
unwilling to risk the joining of their vision. Afraid Am’brosia might show her the reality of her
mother’s illness.
Focus.
She set her stance.
The white sun beat down. Beads of sweat pooled beneath her Watcher’s braid. Adana
inhaled and closed her eyes, seeking a center within her breathing, extending her mind and
ability. Each inhalation spread through her chest, down her arms and legs, giving life to her
focus. She breathed again. Again. Again.
Heat, sweat, and incense faded from existence. Adana envisioned the target.
She let loose the arrow.
Thunk.
The shot penetrated the wall at a perfect interval from the other nine arrows. Most Watchers
released their control and shouted with joy after succeeding in this trial, but Adana dropped to
her knees in thanks.
Heart pounding, she fought the urge to weep in relief. The Creator would save her mother.
Save them all. And save her from this grief.
Montee studied the target, her green eyes squinting in the bright sun, then turned toward
Adana. “Good,” she said. That brief word rarely crossed Montee’s lips.
With the heightened awareness brought on by her focused breathing, Adana found her gaze
drawn to the deep lines etched within the golden skin around Montee’s eyes. The premature
wrinkles combined with a warrior’s height and hard, muscular stature, proclaimed the Watcher
as a member of the elite female branch of Moniah’s military. Some day this soldier, and all the
women honored to be trained as Watchers, would serve Adana. Not today, she reminded herself
as she rose to her feet, waiting for further instruction. They still served her mother, as it should
be.
“Aim for the spot between the fifth and sixth arrow,” Montee said.
Adana nodded but wondered at the new challenge. Did Montee think she could do it? Or did
she seek to remind her of the humble nature of her position?
No matter. She would succeed. A year of practice, that’s what it took to pass the straight line
of arrows test, but she could do anything now that the Creator would heal her mother.
Heart racing in anticipation, she set her stance.
“But first connect to Am’brosia.”
Adana faltered at Montee’s words. Dread ran down her spine like cold water. Lowering her
bow, she stared at Montee.
What if Am’brosia chose to show her what she’d avoided all morning, Ju’latti, her mother’s
giraffe, suffering from the same illness? Clear proof of how deep the connection between the
royal and giraffe went.
Doubt crept into her mind. What if the Creator wasn’t pleased? What if he demanded more?
“Please, not today…”
Montee narrowed her gaze, silencing Adana’s objection.
Adana faced the target, took a breath, and drew an arrow. She took another breath and raised
her bow. Only royals sensed the presence of the bond. If she appeared to connect, Montee
wouldn’t know she hadn’t.
“Adana.” Montee’s warning tone invaded her thoughts. “You will be the only one linked to
a giraffe in battle. You must master this.”
What small motion gave her away, hinted at her disobedience? With another Watcher, her
defiance might have worked. But not with an attentive and experienced Watcher like Montee.
She whispered a brief prayer, “Please Creator, heal Mammetta.” Then she inhaled. As she
exhaled, she sent a tendril of thought toward the giraffe and gasped at the strength Am’brosia
used as she seized the connection, not the gentle embrace Adana had grown accustomed to.
Please don’t show me Ju’latti.
The pressure along their tie relaxed, cradling her, giving Adana time to settle her breathing
and accept the link, but, after a few moments, Am’brosia tightened the hold and expanded their
view. A distant image of the paddock appeared in Adana’s mind. The scene becoming clearer,
more troubling.
Adana closed her eyes but couldn’t avoid what the giraffe chose to reveal.
Ju’latti, lay on the ground. The animal labored with each breath just as Adana’s mother did
in her chambers.
The Creator hadn’t healed them.
Nearby, a bull giraffe hovered—Va’lent, the one bonded to her father.
Adana fought tears and attempted to release the connection. It held tight.
In the year since their bonding, Am’brosia had never forced the union. Neither of them had.
Her parents never told her what to do in this case. Wasn’t Am’brosia supposed to cooperate?
A sharp burst of mirth streamed down the tie.
Let go, Am’brosia.
The tie between them remained, strengthened.
Frantic, she envisioned a knife and pictured herself severing the invisible line of force
between them. Would it work? Am’brosia kicked the knife away.
Eyes wide, Adana fought back, shoving her view of the archery grounds and the sky
bleached white from the sun into her mind’s eye.
Am’brosia tossed her large head, their vision bouncing around the paddock. The sudden
movement rocked Adana, and she braced her feet. The scene in her mind moved over the
paddock grounds toward the sheer cliff beyond the southern wall of the fortress. Adana’s
stomach lurched as they plummeted over the cliff. They raced toward the ground. She braced for
impact. What would happen if they hit?
But they didn’t. Moments before the expected blow, their sight leveled out. Am’brosia
turned their gaze across the barren plains.
A Watcher ran toward them, her leathers blended with the tans and browns of her
surroundings. She wore a red stretch of glimmer cloth tied across her forehead. Red for danger.
Forgetting who controlled their sight, Adana turned to check the signal tower, to see if the guards
saw the warning. Her view did not change. Am’brosia still controlled the direction.
Instead their gaze raced toward and past the approaching soldier. Dust and dirt swirled
around them as they traveled farther into the plains. She tried to identify the running Watcher,
but the soldier sped past too quickly for her to gain more than the awareness of serious intent on
the woman’s face.
Adana cried out in shock as they collided with a giraffe in a herd facing south.
Am’brosia stop this. Please. I don’t feel well.
For a moment, everything before her wavered, and she hoped Am’brosia would release her.
Then, the scene cleared. They were looking through the other animal’s eyes. Then the sight
jumped. Adana’s stomach churned as they sprang to the mind of another giraffe, and another,
and another. She lost track as they traveled far to the south.
Finally, they stopped, looking through the eyes of an old male. A village stood a short
distance away. Fire raged from thatched roofs of several huts and the people ran, their mouths
open in unheard screams.
Where are we?
Horror coiled in her belly as soldiers swarmed the village brandishing axes and swords. The
farmers fought but fell before their attackers. Bile rose in her throat. Why would men do this?
She sucked in air through her mouth, trying to ease the shock.
With an unsettling sweep of his head, the giraffe they inhabited turned his gaze toward a
lone man astride a horse. This man watched the village’s destruction from a distance, a ferocious
smile on his face. Am’brosia drew Adana’s attention to his hand, its deformity suggesting an
impossible name.
Maligon.
As if he heard her thoughts, the man’s head jerked up. He squinted at them then shouted an
order, pointing at Adana.
“Turn,” Adana shouted, unsure how to direct this distant beast. She pictured herself turning
her head to the right. “Turn.”
The giraffe’s head swung in an arc to the right. A man ran toward them, closing the distance.
He stopped and drew an arrow. Alarm skittered through Adana’s brain. She raised her own bow
and shot just as the giraffe wheeled to the left and ran.
A sense of shock and pain reeled through her.
The bond snapped.
Adana tumbled to the ground.
Her stomach heaved. Everything spun when she tried to lift her head.
“Adana.” The pounding of running feet approached her.
She shuddered and shrank from the sound.
Montee’s shadow fell over her. “My lady? What happened?”
Adana struggled to raise her head and choked out one word, “Maligon.”
“What?” The woman squatted beside Adana, her shadow providing some shade from the
unbearable heat. Adana swayed as her stomach gave up its fight. She hadn’t eaten that morning.
Little came up. A cool hand drew the braid back from her neck as she continued to heave.
When the spasms stopped, Montee offered her a water skin. “Don’t swallow, just spit.”
The water was warm, but she welcomed it, rinsing the sour taste of acid from her mouth.
She upended the rest of it over her head, the water washing away the frantic energy of what
she’d experienced. “Thank you.”
Taking the water skin back, Montee frowned at her with concern. “My lady, this is why I
suggested you not attempt this trial today. You’re under too much strain worrying about the
queen.”
Adana shook her head and moaned as it throbbed. “No. Something else.” She struggled to
stand, but weakness flooded her legs.
Montee rose and reached out a hand to help Adana rise.
She accepted the assistance and stood but stayed bent over, hands on her legs, taking in deep
breaths. The pain and weakness subsided some. How to explain?
Had Am’brosia really carried her beyond their own sight? Outside the fortress? To the edge
of Moniah? It might be a prophecy of warning. It looked so real. Real enough for her to shoot at
someone leagues from here.
She drew a breath and tried to focus on one point. “I saw Maligon.”
“Maligon?” Montee wrinkled her forehead. “He died twenty years ago.”
Adana shook her head. “I saw a man with a mangled hand.”
Everyone knew how her father injured the traitor, left his hand crippled. That her mother
sentenced Maligon to his death in the desert.
“But—”
“It was him. I know it. Don’t ask me how. I just do.”
“Is that why you shot an arrow?”
Adana looked down at her bow and back up, the motion making her head throb again.
The soldier following Maligon’s command had shot at them. Giraffes were sacred. To harm
one meant death. “He ordered a man to shoot at the giraffe. I was there.”
She wasn’t making any sense.
At that moment, the warning bell on the south tower clanged. A shout interrupted them.
“Red from the south.”
The Watcher they’d passed on the plains.
It was real. Am’brosia had taken her somewhere. Struggling with this realization, Adana
glanced at her mentor, tried to form the words, but the Watcher’s attention was on the guard
tower. Montee’s high rank required her to respond. The warning bell continued to clang, and the
guard continued to shout the warning.
“Go, I will be fine,” Adana said.
Despite the urgent summons, Montee studied Adana closely. “Are you sure? You’re still
unsteady.”
“I’m fine. Go.”
The older warrior motioned to Suru, a young Watcher of low rank who waited on the far
side of the field. The woman trotted over and bobbed her head toward Adana. “My lady.”
“Please escort the princess to her chambers. Make sure she’s safe, then summon the
apothecary. The princess became overheated and needs water and rest.”
Without a backward glance, Montee hurried toward the south tower.
Suru turned toward the fortress, took a step and turned back when the princess didn’t join
her.
Adana straightened and pushed her shoulders back, years of deep-rooted training helping her
hide any weakness. “Not yet.”
She needed answers and going to her chambers wouldn’t provide them. The ease at which
Adana re-opened the bond with Am’brosia told her she’d anticipated her return.
Show me the red Watcher.


Barbara V. Evers photo

AUTHOR BIO
Barbara V. Evers, began storytelling at the age of four. She couldn’t read, yet, so she roped others into taking
dictation for her. She is the author of The Watchers of Moniah trilogy and is a Pushcart Prize nominee. A two-time
Carrie McCray winner, her short stories and essays have appeared in the best-selling anthology, Child of My
Child: Poems and Stories for Grandparents, The Petigru Review, the moonShine review, and Stupefying Stories.
To learn more about Barbara and her interest in giraffe, check out www.barbaravevers.com
Title: The Watchers of Moniah
Print ISBN: 978-1648551048
Print Page Count: 452
Ebook ISBN: 978-1648551055
Imprint: New Mythology Press
Price: 16.99



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Sunday, January 3, 2021

Review: Weapon (Whisper Duology # 2) by Lynette Noni @LynetteNoni #Dystopian #YAdystopian #YA #romance #scifi #superpowers

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Weapon

(Whisper #2)

by Lynette Noni 

The #1 bestselling WHISPER series concludes with WEAPON:

I already knew he was a psychopath. But now?
He’s more dangerous than ever.
And I have less than twenty-four hours to stop him.

After escaping Lengard and finding sanctuary with the Remnants, Alyssa Scott is desperate to save those she left behind ─ and the rest of the world ─ from the power-hungry scientist, Kendall Vanik. But secrets and lies block her at every turn, and soon Lyss is left questioning everything she has ever believed.

When long-lost memories begin to surface and the mysteries of her past continue to grow, Lyss battles to retain her hard-won control. Allies become enemies and enemies become allies, leaving her certain about only two things: when it comes to Speakers, nothing is ever as it seems… and the only person she can trust is herself.

Stars: 4.5/5
Series: Duology – Whisper
Previous Reviews:
My Whisper (#1) Review
Characters: 3.5/5
Setting: 5/5
Writing: 4.5/5
Plot and Themes: 4.5/5
Favorite Character(s)?: Ward, Arryn, Riley, Smith, Keeda, Enzo, and some of the others that I wish we’d seen more of.

Slight Character Spoilers Ahead

Crew and even Sneak topping that list! I loved Crew’s character and his Slayer abilities in the first, and although we don’t know much about him I was hoping to really get to know some of the side characters, but we only got more about a couple and most of them were already talked about more that others in the first book. Needless to say I was frustrated how his character was used (quite literally in some ways) in this one.

We do see Crew a bit, but he never talks and is always under mind-control. As My favorite characters in Whisper along with Landon/Ward, I was disappointed that it felt sort of like a ‘cop-out’ in his part after the epic ‘Speaker Battle’ there was potential for her to talk to him and some of the others, but it never happens.

“I refuse to be the type of girl who waits for a prince to come riding in on a white horse to save the day.”


Heh Heh, so I’ll start by saying that I loved Whisper, which I’m thankful I found as an ARC on NetGalley since, one I got to read it early, (and rave about it!) and two because it’s so much fun to find a book with a good mystery and be able to uncover it as the book unfolds without risk of spoilers! Whisper is defiantly one of those!

“[E]veryone is lying to you, Six-Eight-Four. Everyone.”


Weapon on the other hand? After loving Whisper, and the long wait without much info about the sequel, I instantly had Weapon on my TBR and as soon as it released I bumped it to the top. A month later I tried to read it, but just wasn’t in the mood and couldn’t follow the story well enough to get into it. The same happened a few other times, so I’m super excited to have finally finished it! I loved getting to know some of the new characters, and getting to know more about Lyssa and her story.


But that also leads me into why I realized I wasn’t able to get very far at first. While I love most of the characters, there was a few (one in particular) who always grated on me. Sadly it was also this character that had me rolling my eyes and my reader senses tingling all over, not in a good way sadly, although I had an idea that a few of the other characters were going to be some of my favorites, and was right, so those senses were definitely active too, but this one was just…frustrating? I mean, I wasn’t wrong about them…but I think for me it was a little too obvious too soon, so they’re actions and motives were always in question and I was never able to overlook the little words or hints they left in their wake. For most readers, this wouldn’t have even been noticeable, I’m just super attuned to these hints, both in books and movies, and I actually thought that I was wrong for a time it was so apparent, but guess I just didn’t have the facts yet, as it quickly became clear why they grated on my so much, lol. I got a similar feel from another character, but for the other reason, it was one we were to be suspicious of in the start, but learned later on that all wasn’t as it appeared…actually there were a couple cases of that I caught, and loved following where those trails led! But I like doubting my guesses and questioning characters, both good and bad ‘feelings’ but when it’s super clear from early on who’s lying, it gets to the ‘eye-roll’ section pretty easy and for a few chapters, I was definitely there for a bit.


“I need to see him again.


Because I have questions, and something tells me he has the answers.”


As with Whisper, I have no desire to spoil anything, and I really loved when this one started to truly unravel and the truth starts to spill, so highly recommend it, regardless of my initial thoughts. I did love getting to know Smith, Arryn, and some of the other new characters plus getting to see some familiar faces I loved in the first. I also thought the plot and Lyssa’s story and how she goes about making sense of her life was well done and both easy to follow and with a strong plot and storytelling that makes it both smooth and enjoyable despite the fact-pace and back-to-back action that could have made things confusion really fast. Not here! Instead I caught some of the clues earlier in the book, and eagerly awaited the reveals, all of which were satisfyingly and well done!


I also really liked the setting and descriptions, both in the world-building and of the characters in this duology. I found it easy to follow what was happening, and that I was able to visualize it playing out like in a movie, something that I can’t always do but love when it happens! I can also easily see this story (due to plot and characters) making a great ‘super-power’/’dystopian’ movie as both crowds are always looking for new YA movie material and this one has a little of everything from romance, action, betrayal, super abilities, mystery, lies, plus an evil scientist, so I mean…who could resist? xD


A few other books you might enjoy:

* Reactive by Becky Moynihan

* Divergent by Veronica Roth

* The Kinder Poison by Natalie Mae



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Saturday, January 2, 2021

TTT: Favorite Reads of 2020

Top Ten Tuesday is run by Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl and you should definitely go give her blog some love.

Um…yeah, so the last Tueadsy of the year, maybe I’ll finally get on of these scheduled on time! lol. While 2020 hasn’t been great, or even good for much at all, it has offered some unique perspectives, opportunities, and plenty of good books! So for that, and for the chance to heal and grow in my faith as I learn more about who I am, and who I’m supposed to be, it’s a bit empowering knowing that I used this chance to spend more time in God’s Word, and less listening to the negativity of the media and what and who others try to say I am, instead finding truths and answers I’ve been seeking for some time now.

I’m hoping you all have a blessed year, and that you are also able to get right with God and start strong in 2021 as we neaAnotherr His return for His Church in the very near future! I’m so excited to see what He has in store for His people!

(I’m not sure I can order these from Most Favorite to Least (of the Most) Favorite, is that even a thing? I rarely order these posts like that anyway as it’s so hard! But I’ll definitely try to give some reason I loved each of them!)

10. Immersive (The Elite Trials trilogy #3) by Becky Moynihan

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So, anyone who knows me, especially on Bookstagram, probably knows I have a slight…(obsession?) infatuation for Ryker in this series (Just check out some of my aesthetics! XD). Yeah, well this was easily my most anticipated release this year and one I desperately needed since I finished Adaptive the second book in The Elite Trials trilogy.


Did it live up to the hype? OH YES! And SO MUCH MORE! I read this one in under 48 hours with only four hours of sleep in that time, I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN!

That almost never happens, like the last time it did, I was openly crying while reading ACOWAR the day it came out…and yes, Immersive definitely brought the feels, tears and all! Another things that’s super rare for me, but if a boo makes me cry for a character, you know it’s good!

9. Dawn Till Dusk (The Genesis Crystal #1) by Tyffany Hackett and Becky Moynihan

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Another Becky Moynihan book (and back-to-back?!) Why yes, it is. But this one is different, and special enough I had to include it, and you already know from my earlier comment, that Becky makes some pretty amazing broody book boys, and Tarik (her character and POV in this one) is certainly that. Oh, and did I mention Fae, who tends to have a thing for trouble and illegal underground fights with Shifters? Yeah!

On the flip side, Reagan was actually the character that grew on my first. Tyffany did a great job with Reagan’s personality and POV chapters, and while I loved so many characters as the book continues, these two are the ones we see most, and I loved Reagan’s character so much more than expected! More so since I hadn’t read Tyffany’s other books yet, so knew very little of her style or characters and I’m super picky about female leads, especially in first POV like this, but I loved it for this series!

8. Joy’s Summer Love Playlist by Piper Bee

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Was this the year for new ‘Book boyfriends’? Hmm, I’d say so XD But there was also a trend this year which I LOVED! What’s that you ask?
Healthy relationship #goals and broken characters discovering true healing and acceptance!

These thing really lined up with my journey this year, and was so beautiful to see the morally grey and tragic/broken character I’ve always been drawn too finally start to find healing and to teach readers REAL and POSITIVE messages that healing and moving forward are possible and that they are worth it! JSLP deals loosely with the after effects n and a character’s efforts to move past sexual assault.

While I didn’t include it, I loved seeing Jin’s story too in B-Sides the companion story, and getting to understand better what makes him such a great character, and why it’s so important to respect others and to live your own life, not the one someone else has planned for you or the one you think others expect you to live.

7. Dawnstar (The Starchaser Saga #2) by Renee Dugan

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I know this isn’t the newest in The Starchaser Saga that’s out now, Nightwing released earlier this month, and yes I loved it, but this one is special. Why? Well one, I really loved getting to meet Aden and this one also has a few of my favorite Malack scenes so far! (YES! My love for these males, and even Thorne and Quill, boarders on par with my love for Ryker mentioned above! Plus the cabal as a whole is like the perfect Found Family and I love them so much, even more than Rhysand’s Court of Dreams, and they are pretty high on my list!) I see a little of myself in Ashe, Cistine, and even Ari, and love Tati’s personality and think she’d be a great friend to have by my side! Plus we met Sander and a few other…interesting characters in this one I’m curious to see where their stories go and how they fit into the the bigger plot.

Nightwing offers some much needed knowledge and truths the characters needed to face and the readers needed to learn and some pretty intense feels, but it builds heavily on the first two books, and takes a different approach the the series as a whole than the first two, marking it as a clear transition. That said, I am SO excited for book 4, and can’t wait I have that special ‘bookish senses’ are tingling (think Spidey Senses!) saying that I’m going to love it! (And they are nearly always right!)

6. Midnight Maiden (Duology #1) by Kathryn Marie

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Another that deals with abuse and past trauma in an inspiring way. Okay, disclaimer, she becomes and Assassin, I’m not condoning murder, but do admit assassin’s are pretty fun to read about! Still, kids, just don’t! It’s not a good life.
But the part I liked was that her ‘trade’ only added to the dark stains of her past, and seemed impossible to overcome, yet as the story goes, she starts to see there is hope.

So, the pressing question, did I enjoy the love interest(s)? Yes, but I was happy to find her friendship/working relationship with Robert, the older, retired soldier that helps her on her client cases and also understands the PTSD and struggles that come with her line of work, he’s such a refreshing look at what it means to heal, that you don’t have to be romantic or even anything special to be a good friend and to help those you care about. So often we think only professionals, friends with certain benefits (looks, money, fame) are able to feel the needs in our lives. If I was more like here, If I acted more like him… But that’s simply not true, and I love how Robert’s character sis absolutely able to be himself and is still what Christiana needs in a trusted friend and mentor type characters, along with the princess’ companionship, I found this to be surprisingly positive despite the darker themes.

5. Rook Di Roo by Jenni Sauer

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This one also deals with soldiers, war, and PTSD. In a way, this one reminds me a bit of The Starchaser Saga and some of the things those characters are dealing with, especially in Nightwing.

I also loved this sci-fi adaptation of a classic retelling, and loved both that it make reading a sci-fi book both enjoyable and easy enough to follow that I didn’t even care it was a genre I rarely read, and that even knowing what the retelling was of, I didn’t feel I was reading something that was just retaking a story and changing the names and a few minor things just to get fans of the original to read it. Not with this one! Between this one and City of Wishes by Rachel Morgan are two of my favorites with much read original takes on the Cinderella story!

4. Daughter of the Deep (The Children of Lyr #1) by Lina C. Amarego

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There are a few themes in books that make me very happy. What are they? Well aside from things like found family and morally grey, broody males, pirates are up there with assassins! But a private book that is brilliantly written, filled with mystery, enemies-to-lovers (who happen to be trapped in an arranged marriage?), mythology lore, and plenty of emotional scenes? Yep, this book’s got all those and so much more, and isn’t one be be skipped!

3. The Lost Legends (The Nihyrst #1) by Cait Marie

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Another pirate book, and yes I liked Captain Lee, no surprise there. What did surprise me is that I liked many of the other characters as well! From the other pirates, to Shane, Philip, and Gwen, there we so many that I really enjoyed and can’t wait to read more about soon!
I also got a bit of a Legendary/Finale vibe in this one, perhaps it has to due with the cursed tarot deck, but I can see fans of the Caravel series enjoying this one as well.

2. To Carve A Fae Heart (The Fair Isle Trilogy # 1) by Tessonja Odette

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I was excited about this one, and admit when we first met Aspen I was sold! I loved the sass and tension between the two MCs, but also the chemistry and how well they worked together while facing the court and other leaders. That said, I really enjoyed the writing style and world-building in this one, and found it interesting to see a different take on Fae and their magic system.

Once the story really got started, I found I quite enjoyed some of the other characters as well, and especially toward the end loved seeing the Fae from different courts and the political intrigue involved.

  1. The Kinder Poison (The Kinder Poison # 1) by Natalie Mae
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Ah, I love a good story with death defying danger, a good challenge, and a dash of romance! While not as heavy or as original as some of my other reads, this one did have a good dose of feels and a heavy theme of sacrifice, both self-sacrifice and actually being sacrificed! Paired with interesting characters, a nation on the verge of war from both internal and external threats, and a fun challenge that makes the story a fast read, I loved this one!
I have several guesses about things that happened but were left open, and cannot wait for The Cruelest Mercy! Aside from sequels like The Starchaser Saga books(I can’t wait for 4 &5!), this is easily my Most Anticipated release for 2021!

(Most of my reads this year were new releases, but a couple weren’t. So those can be found below in a separate group. :D)

  1. Autumn’s Reign (The Lochlann Treaty # 4) by Robin D. Mahle & Elle Madison
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I’ve mentioned it before, but I binged this four book series the last week of 2019, and finished this one just after the New Year, so it was my first book of 2020, and what a great one it is!

I adore this series, and really want to read more from both authors soon! Yes, okay, Logan is a big reason I love this series, but I also love Charlie’s friends and seeing her character growth as well as all the intrigue and challenges she must face and think her way though! This series it so good, if me reading all four books in a week isn’t proof enough, it remains one of my favorite reads of 2020 and has a place on my All Time Favorite Reads shelf!

2. Darkwind (The Starchaser Saga # 1) by Renee Dugan

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I know I mentioned this series above, but this one started it all! I found out about this series, and Renee, by chance as she was hosting a giveaway for the release of Darkwind, and I happened to see it mentioned on bookstagram.
Regardless of the giveaway, I just knew I HAD to read this one, and happened to get lucky and win it! With that said, I decided I had to get to this one ASAP last year, and loved it!

Since then I’ve gotten to know Renee, and and so excited I can count such a wonderful and caring person my friend! But not only that, I love her characters, and highly recommend this series! It gives heavy ‘Court of Dreams’ feels, and I adore the whole cabal, which is rare that I love so many characters in the same series!

3. Sword & Pen (The Great Library # 5) by Rachel Caine

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I’ve love this series for a while, and can easily say it’s one of the best and most original stories I’ve ever read! It’s a alternative history series with magic, steampunk technology, political (courtly) intrigue, a dash of romance, loads of friendships in all stages, a great balance of representation of religions, race, and even lgbt+ which I normally avoid, but really liked how they were all handled in those one! These characters are so well written, that by this book, they feel almost like real people and good friends at that!



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