Monday, December 16, 2019

Review: The Occupied (A Trevor Black Novel) by Craig Parshall

About the Book
From New York Times bestselling author Craig Parshall comes a riveting story of supernatural suspense.

As a youth, Trevor Black unleashed spiritual forces he couldn’t comprehend. Years later, Trevor is a high-flying criminal defense lawyer in New York City, with a six-figure Aston Martin and a trophy wife. But in an extraordinary turn of events, he receives a burdensome gift: the ability to perceive the invisible. And the dark forces he now sees are all gunning for him.

When one of Trevor’s hometown friends is murdered, the MO is eerily similar to a shocking trail of murders that have already crossed the lawyer’s path. So Trevor must return home to find the killer. . . and face not only his own personal demons, but supernatural ones as well.
 


My Thoughts

I'm always in the mood for a good book that deals with spiritual warfare and this one was excellent. From the first line I was hooked. 

"I keep monsters in my peripheral vision. When you've been attacked by the horribles, you never forget."

The Occupied takes the reader on a journey through Trevor Black's life divided into three sections titled The Flesh, The World, and The Devil.

"First, there's the world, and all that's in it and all that we see, but also what we can't. Second, the flesh - all those desires, arrogances, strivings - when we let it rule us. Last, but definitely not least, there's the devil. That's in reverse threat level."

First in The Flesh we get a glimpse at when Trevor was a teenager and first came into contact with the supernatural veil. Then, The World, takes a peek into his life in New York City as a lawyer, his deteriorating marriage, his first encounter with “the horribles”, and becoming a Christian. And finally, The Devil, where he makes his return home to solve a mystery and fight “the horribles”. 

"Even in all the mud and mire through which we plow, there is a benevolent heavenly Father holding us up with an invisible hand, guiding our ends from our beginnings and nudging us toward the light rather than the darkness. Giving us a thousand chances to make a thousand good choices if we will only take them."

Powerful, compelling, and, at times, chilling, The Occupied was fast paced and impossible to put down. I can't recommend it enough. 

"You see, it is not what comes against you that matters. It is who occupies you that counts. Christ, the guardian of your soul."

4.5 Stars

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Book Beginnings + Friday 56: A Holiday By Gaslight: A Victorian Christmas Novella by Mimi Matthews

Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading. Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice and asks you to grab a book (any book), turn to page 56 or 56% in your ereader and share a non-spoilery sentence or two.

This week I'm featuring a lovely historical novella, A Holiday By Gaslight by Mimi Matthews.

About the Book
A Courtship of Convenience

Sophie Appersett is quite willing to marry outside of her class to ensure the survival of her family. But the darkly handsome Mr. Edward Sharpe is no run-of-the-mill London merchant. He's grim and silent. A man of little emotion--or perhaps no emotion at all. After two months of courtship, she's ready to put an end to things.

A Last Chance for Love

But severing ties with her taciturn suitor isn't as straightforward as Sophie envisioned. Her parents are outraged. And then there's Charles Darwin, Prince Albert, and that dratted gaslight. What's a girl to do except invite Mr. Sharpe to Appersett House for Christmas and give him one last chance to win her? Only this time there'll be no false formality. This time they'll get to know each other for who they really are.

Book Beginning
An icy late November breeze rustled the bare branches of the trees along the Serpentine. Hyde Park was practically deserted at this time of morning. And no wonder. It was freezing cold, the gray skies heavy with the scent of impending rain.

Friday 56
Her words were interrupted by an ungodly shriek. They both turned in the direction from whence it came. Another high-pitched shriek heralded the arrival of one of the aristocratic young ladies they'd left behind to gather pine boughs. She ran toward them through the woods, her skirts clutched in her hands.

Hosted by Billy @ Coffee Addicted Writer

Is there a specific genre you like to read during the Winter?

I'm very much a mood reader and hop around genres quite often. I can never read more than two or three books in the same genre in a row or I find myself getting bored. Though I do try to read as many Christmas books as I can during December.


What have you been reading lately?

Review: Like a Winter Snow by Lindsay Harrel

About the Book
Women’s counselor Joy Beckman has always been a friend and helper to all. That’s why she’s given up everything to be with her parents as her mother suffers through Alzheimer’s. Joy may not have a thriving career or a love life at the moment, but she’s doing what she does best—taking care of others. And even though it’s difficult, she knows it’s where she is supposed to be.

But life throws a curveball when she has to leave her parents temporarily to travel to Cornwall, England, for the Christmas-time wedding of her best friend. While there, Joy helps Sophia tackle her last-minute to-do list, and in the process, finally meets a man who turns her head—and her heart. The only problem? He lives in snowy London, and her life is with her parents back in sunny Florida.

She tries to resist Oliver Lincoln’s charms, but it’s harder than it should be. With her heart torn in two, Joy is forced to choose between a life she knows she’s meant for and the one she didn’t see coming.


My Thoughts

I absolutely adored this heartwarming Christmas novella. I loved The Secrets of Paper and Ink so I was thrilled to revisit old characters and journey back to the charming town of Port Willis. This story does stand alone just fine so if you haven't read the first one, no worries.

The characters were wonderful. I liked the fact that they were a little older than the average in these types of stories. That was a nice change. Oliver is such a dreamy leading man. A cross between Henry Cavill and Gerard Butler who has a dog named Rascal? Yes, please! Joy has a lot on her plate. It feels like she has the whole world on her shoulders. So many people are counting on her and she feels like she's letting every one of them down. Her journey of letting go and trusting God was inspiring.

If you're looking for a quick and sweet holiday read, Like a Winter Snow is sure to delight.

Favorite Quotes:
“Look at how powerful our God is. You never have to be afraid of anything because there’s not a lightning bolt he doesn’t know about, not a drop of rain he doesn’t allow to fall.”

“We see only the chaos and destruction, the inconveniences, the way they ruin our plans. But fire and water, they bring life too. Refining. Rejuvenation.”

“...sometimes God wants us to be stretched. To choose the thing that’s frightening and unsure. To live boldly. To take a chance on the unknown.”

“None of us can see the way forward in the fog. We simply must take the next step and trust that the light will lead us where we need to go.”

Four Stars

12 Days of Fantasy for Christmas Grand Finale

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

We hope you enjoyed getting a glimpse into these fantasy books and grabbed some for yourself or as gifts for other fantasy lovers! If you missed any of the stops, you can see snippets, as well as the link to each full post, below. And don't forget to enter the awesome giveaway...

December 1st: Launch

December 2nd: Rebecca Belliston - Heart of Red, Blood of Blue


Follow the Author: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest BookBub Instagram
Find the Book: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Snippet from the Excerpt (find the full post here):

The blood.

How I wish I could forget the blood.

Or the way Jerrik looked up at me, so betrayed. As if I had killed him. As if we had attacked first.

I know now that the betrothal ceremony had been a ruse, a trap to lure us to Kronga under the guise of peace. But Jerrik had not anticipated his father’s treachery any more than we had. Had my own father not reacted so quickly, I would not be alive today.

December 3rd: Morgan L. Busse - Flight of the Raven


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Find the Book: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Snippet from the Excerpt (find the full post here):

Damien. Her husband.

Selene kept her eyes ahead, but every part of her could sense him behind her. The moment the monk had finished the rites, and warmth had spread between their hands, she knew him. Most of it she had already discovered during her dreamwalks, but seeing his memories and having that knowledge imparted into her innermost mind and soul were two completely things. And just as much as she now knew him, he knew her as well. He knew who she really was. He knew what she could do.

He knew her gift.

December 4thJes Drew - Tales of Parallel Worlds


Follow the Author: Website | Goodreads | Pinterest | Wattpad
Find the Book: Goodreads | Amazon

Snippet from the Excerpt (find the full post here):

I wrap my arms around my masked rescuer, not sure whether to feel relieved at not having to travel through those woods alone and on foot, or worried that this strange man might be abducting me.

“My father is a powerful man," I whisper into the man's shoulder.

“I am well aware of that.”

With relief, I note that we are retracing the same path as before. “What is your name anyway, good sir?”

He seems to consider this for a long moment, and even glances down at his steed as if the beautiful Arabian might somehow remind him of his name.

December 5th: Ronie Kendig - Brand of Light


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Find the Book: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Snippet from the Excerpt (find the full post here):

“You are sure of this, my lady? It’s Myles.” Weighted eyes drove home the point. “Our fiercest.”

“It was a fair draw.”

“Aye, but—”

“Let it not be said that I, the lone female in the training yard, whinged.” Not when she had pleaded so hard for training. As it was, she was thankful Uncle Rufio had left express word before he left for the middle lands that she should be allowed to continue her levels.

December 6th: Alisha Klapheke - Fate of Dragons


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Find the Book: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Snippet from the Excerpt (find the full post here):

There, on the ground, was a shape that was not rock or smoke or golden earthblood.

Or dragon.

Her lips parted in a silent gasp.

Two arms. Two legs. Supple flesh instead of scales.

Crouching by the body, Vahly moved a curtain of obsidian hair away from the creature’s face.

A pointed ear.

December 7th: Jessica Leake - Through the White Wood


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Find the Book: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Snippet from the Excerpt (find the full post here):

Above me, my golden eagle let out a soft cry, and as I glanced up at her, my spirits lifted ever so slightly. Elation, I’d named her long ago, because she never failed to bring me joy. Now she followed the sleigh from the sky, and I suspected she was my only remaining friend and ally.

After the horror of what had happened in the village, it was almost difficult to be afraid of what awaited me with the prince. Almost, but not quite. Rumors hammered at my thoughts as the sleigh traveled farther and farther into the deep woods that surrounded my home.

People disappearing into his castle, never to return. People with abilities beyond human limits. People like me.

December 8th: Belle Malory - Electric Skies


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Find the Book: Goodreads | Amazon

Snippet from the Excerpt (find the full post here):

A thunderous voice boomed from behind. “ASSASSIN WITCH! You dare come into this camp!”

She jumped, using the water in her own body to propel her faster, trying to put some distance between her and that blasted fire. It didn’t work. She couldn’t gain much ground, and whoever was after her was coming way too fast. The scalding heat was at her heels, blazing across her back. Sweat poured from her body. She cried out from the pain. God, it felt like she was melting.

The ground shook, and she tripped. As she fell, time slowed.

December 9th: Melissa McShane - Burning Bright


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Find the Book: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Snippet from the Excerpt (find the full post here):

Elinor dreamed of fire, the unseen ground beneath her burning and the air white with heat, and woke to find her dream a reality. The walls of her bedroom were ablaze, the varnished floorboards slightly less so, and fire rolled across the ceiling in golden waves. Heat struck at her with an intensity that dried her nostrils and mouth and made her eyes feel roasted.

December 10th: Jennifer Silverwood - Blackbriar Cove


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Find the Book: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Smashwords | !ndigo

Snippet from the Excerpt (find the full post here):

Faye fell back into the mud as her enemy’s memories released her. For a long breathless moment, she listened to the patter of rain in the forest and breathed with her own skin. Not the echo of a life already snuffed out, fading into the earth.

Jo had always hated when Faye used her gifts like this. So Faye only used her otherness when her twin wasn’t around.

What Joey don’t know… well, her sister had James now. As for Faye?

December 11th: Melissa Wright - Shadow and Stone


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Find the Book: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Snippet from the Excerpt (find the full post here):

Thea had never seen so much variety in her life, let alone a single day. She stared, in awe of variations she’d not known possible. Red honeysuckle, freesia buds as big as her fist, leaves with white-tipped spikes, and thorns that dripped a black-violet slime. Her fingers drew in reflexively; Thea remembered the warnings she’d heard when she’d been young. The light elves did not just possess the capacity for beauty. They created poisons as well.

She glanced up from the splendor, and found Aster watching her, smile thin. Thea had a momentary image of Isa—the young halfling girl who was strong and wild enough to keep the humans at bay—and made a vow to remember something else.

Don’t underestimate anyone.

Blogs That Participated


Tour Giveaway


1 winner will receive an Amazon Fire Tablet and a $50 Amazon eGift Card
Open internationally (as long as winner is eligible to receive prizes)
Ends December 16, 2019

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

12 Days of Fantasy for Christmas - Melissa Wright

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Shadow and Stone
(Frey Saga #5)
By Melissa Wright
New Adult, YA Fantasy
Paperback & ebook
February 4th 2020

No bargains unpaid.

After a perilous clash with the fey, the changeling who betrayed the paramount of their laws--and threatens the safety of both realms--has gone into hiding. As Frey and her Seven recover, concealed plans and furtive bargains begin to unravel, putting in danger their old guard and new.

They’re on unsteady ground.

Scattered and healing, those sworn to protect the North and its lord work to secure their footing. They are running out of time to cure the darkness poisoning the fey lands, before it overflows into the rest of the realm. But Ruby has gone missing, and this time it seems of her own accord.

They’re out of time.

If they don’t stop her, she’ll face the deadly changeling alone. But more forces are at play than it seems, and the fey lord confined on his lands by treachery and two half-human elves has made a bargain of his own.

(Affiliate link included.)

Excerpt

“Dark magic,” Aster said, “can make even the strongest seed no more than ash.”

Fire. She’d meant Francine’s fire, the burning of the villages. Questions flared in Thea’s mind, but she bit her tongue. This was clearly a sore subject for the girl, and there was no doubt where she placed the blame.

Thea followed silently as Aster brought them through an exquisite gateway. “This is our new garden,” Aster said, pride warring in her tone with what might have been loss. Or Thea might have been imagining things again.

“It is the loveliest I have ever seen,” Thea told her. She meant it. Not simply because she’d never seen a Council garden, but because the entire space before them was designed as a labyrinth of beautiful flora. Woven lattices stretched skyward, balanced with blooms. Carved archways loomed overhead, dripping with green moss that shaded ferns and delicate blossoms below. As they moved through the twisting pathways, pools came into view, watched over by shaped brush in the forms of everything from dragons to butterflies.

Thea had never seen so much variety in her life, let alone a single day. She stared, in awe of variations she’d not known possible. Red honeysuckle, freesia buds as big as her fist, leaves with white-tipped spikes, and thorns that dripped a black-violet slime. Her fingers drew in reflexively; Thea remembered the warnings she’d heard when she’d been young. The light elves did not just possess the capacity for beauty. They created poisons as well.

She glanced up from the splendor, and found Aster watching her, smile thin. Thea had a momentary image of Isa—the young halfling girl who was strong and wild enough to keep the humans at bay—and made a vow to remember something else.

Don’t underestimate anyone.

Other Books in the Series


About the Author

Melissa is the author of the Frey Saga, Descendants Series, and Shattered Realms. She is currently working on the next book, but when not writing can be spotted collecting the things she loves at Goodreads and Pinterest. Contact her through the web at www.melissa-wright.com


Tour Schedule
(Posts go live on the day they're scheduled.)

December 1st: Launch
December 2nd: Rebecca Belliston - Heart of Red, Blood of Blue
December 3rd: Morgan L. Busse - Flight of the Raven
December 4thJes Drew - Tales of Parallel Worlds
December 5th: Ronie Kendig - Brand of Light
December 6th: Alisha Klapheke - Fate of Dragons
December 7th: Jessica Leake - Through the White Wood
December 8th: Belle Malory - Electric Skies
December 9th: Melissa McShane - Burning Bright
December 10th: Jennifer Silverwood - Blackbriar Cove
December 11th: Melissa Wright - Shadow and Stone
December 12th: Grand Finale

Tour Giveaway


1 winner will receive an Amazon Fire Tablet and a $50 Amazon eGift Card
Open internationally (as long as winner is eligible to receive prizes)
Ends December 16, 2019

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Can't Wait Wednesday: The Way of the Brave (Global Search and Rescue #1) by Susan May Warren

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings that spotlights and discusses the books we're excited about that we've yet to read. Generally, they're books that are yet to be released. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week I'm featuring The Way of the Brave (Global Search and Rescue #1) by Susan May Warren releasing January 7, 2020.

About the Book
Former pararescue jumper Orion Starr is haunted by the memory of a rescue gone wrong. He may be living alone in Alaska now, but the pain of his failure--and his injuries--has followed him there from Afghanistan. He has no desire to join Hamilton Jones's elite rescue team, but he also can't shirk his duty when the call comes in to rescue three lost climbers on Denali.

Former CIA profiler and psychiatrist Jenny Calhoun's yearly extreme challenge with her best friends is her only escape from the guilt that has sunk its claws into her. As a consultant during a top-secret mission to root out the Taliban, she green-lighted an operation that ended in ambush and lives lost. When her cathartic climb on Denali turns deadly, she'll be forced to trust her life and the lives of her friends to the most dangerous of heroes--the man she nearly killed.

Her skills and his experience are exactly what's needed to prevent another tragedy--but in order to truly set Orion free from his painful past, Jenny will have to reveal hers. They'll have to put their wounds behind them to survive, but at what cost?

Leap into action with this high-octane, breakneck new series from bestselling author Susan May Warren.


Why I Need It
Yay, a new series from Susan May Warren! This sounds like just the type of book I'll love and with it being from one of my favorite authors, it's one I can't miss.

What upcoming release are you excited about?

Review: Verse and Vengeance: A Magical Bookshop Mystery by Amanda Flower

About the Book
With the help of Walt Whitman's works, magical bookshop owner Violet Waverly puts her pedal to the metal to sleuth a bicycle-race murder that tests her mettle.

A bicycle race is not Charming Books proprietor Violet Waverly's idea of a pleasant pastime. But police chief David Rainwater wheelie wants them to enter the Tour de Cascade as a couple, so she reluctantly consents.

The Tour de Cascade is the brainchild of Violet's Grandma Daisy. The race is a fundraiser to build the Cascade Springs Underground Railroad Museum. But not everyone in this Niagara Region village supports the race. As if the bike race weren't tiring enough, pesky private investigator Joel Redding is snooping around Charming Books. It takes all of Violet's and Grandma Daisy's ingenuity to keep Redding from discovering the shop's magical essence--which communicates with Violet through books.

When Redding perishes in an accident during the race, David discovers that the brake line of the private eye's bike was cut. Worse, Violet tops his list of suspects. As Emerson the tuxedo cat and resident crow Faulkner look on, Charming Books steers Violet to the works of Walt Whitman to solve the crime. But no other names ring a bell as culprits, and as David's investigation picks up speed, Violet will have to get in gear to clear her name.


My Thoughts

Verse and Vengeance is the fourth installment of the Magical Bookshop Mystery series. And what a fun and enchanting addition it was!

In each book of this series, the works of a different prolific author help to solve the crime. This time, Walt Whitman's poetry played an integral part. I'm not as familiar with his work as some of the other authors featured in previous books, but that didn't hinder my enjoyment one bit. It was a joy visiting Violet, Grandma Daisy, David, and especially Faulkner the crow and Emerson the cat again.

The mystery was a good one. I was 100% sure I knew exactly who the killer was and why. No way was it anybody else. Boy, was I shocked when the reveal came and it was someone else! Never saw that coming! I love it when I can be surprised like that.

All in all, Verse and Vengeance was a fun trip back to Cascade Springs. It's sure to delight old fans of the series and new. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys cozy mysteries that have a touch magic.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher and voluntarily reviewed it. All thoughts and comments are my honest opinion.

Four Stars