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text 2020-02-14 03:18
The Adventurers Guild series
The Adventurers Guild - Zack Loran Clark,Nick Eliopulos,Johnny Heller
Twilight of the Elves - Zack Loran Clark,Nick Eliopulos
Night of Dangers - Zack Loran Clark,Nick Eliopulos

 

I listened to the first book in this series last summer and loved it. But I never got around to continuing the series. Last month, one of the girls at school told me that I had to read the second & third books because she loved them. I was able to borrow the audio of book 2 (Twilight of the Elves) but the third wasn't available in audio from the library. I loved the audio so much that I bought book 3 (Night of Dangers) from Audible.

 

This series is amazing and I loved it. It is a magical tale that emphasizes friendship and the importance of trust in the middle of a battle between the apprentices, monsters, and tricksters hiding in plain sight. In order to survive and win, the apprentices must come together and use their strengths to save each other and the town of Freestone.

 

The books are full of adventure, danger, compassion, and twists and turns you won't see coming. If you enjoy middle-grade fantasy stories, I predict you will love this series!

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review 2020-02-08 16:04
Smeyer wrote a spy thriller! Who knew? Not me.
The Chemist - Stephenie Meyer

Recently, a friend brought to my attention an article about Chris Paolini’s upcoming foray into science fiction space opera — which is code-named “TSiaSoS” ( or “The Something in a Something of Something”) — so that we could be assholes about it. I’ve said this before, but: I actively enjoyed Eragon as a sort of gleeful homage slash Frankenstein’s monster of formative fantasy literature. There’s lots of Tolkien, some Dragonflight by McCaffrey, even some elements of Star Wars (which is totally science fantasy; don’t @ me.) But the later books in the series just get worse and worse as he begins to believe his own hype. I couldn’t even make it to book four because three was such an interminable Mordorian slog. Anyway, one of my friends pointed out that it’s been nine long years since Paolini last published a novel — though there was a collection of short fiction — and that historically writers known for one thing trying to cross over into another genre after a long publishing lacuna tend to fare poorly. “Remember Stephenie Meyer’s spy thriller?” He asked.

 

I was like, record scratch what the fuck, no I hadn’t.

 

Turns out, in 2016, Meyer published a novel called The Chemist. It had been eight years since both The Host and Breaking Dawn were published. I can only speculate about how well The Chemist did: The article about a screen adaption says it sold 1 million copies, which is a whole fucktonne of books. But the article also mentions that the Twilight Saga sold 100 million copies, which is literally two orders of magnitude more (pop pop!). The Host, published concurrent with Breaking Dawn, which includes an alien parasite love triangle (square, really) sold something like 6.5 million copies. So The Chemist is no kind of dismal failure, but it also hasn’t enjoyed anything like the sales of either Twilight or Twilight‘s not as successful followup. And it’s being worked for a screen adaption.

 

Long story short: I had to read it.

 

Juliana/Alex used to work for an evil government agency which is so evil it doesn’t even have a name, but which is CIA-adjacent. She worked as a torturer, wringing confessions and information out of people using pharmaceuticals: inject something to cause agonizing pain, and then question them after the effects wear off. Something like three years before the start of the novel, the department decided to liquidate Alex and her mentor, and she’s been on the run ever since. The department catches up with her; they say they want her to come in from the cold; due to a series of bad choices she ends up kidnapping and torturing a DC school teacher. Mid-torture session, his twin brother literally parachutes in with his attack dog. After a squabble which gives Alex the upper hand, she and the twin brother come to the realization that they have been set up to kill each other, because they are both loose ends.

 

On a sentence level, Meyer has decidedly improved as a writer. There isn’t the same embarrassment of adverbs or awkward phrasings. Her writing has smoothed into the kind of prose that you don’t notice while you’re reading, which I think is appropriate for this sort of hacky popular fiction. (I know I’m treading dangerously close to the aphorism “If you like this sort of thing, then this will be the sort of thing you like”, but I don’t mean this observation about prose style to be some sort of snide aside. One thing I appreciate about Meyer is that she seems earnestly dedicated to the craft.) Meyer has always been better at detailing the interpersonal than she has been at action sequences, and that still holds in The Chemist. As a spy thriller, which lives and dies by its action sequences, this is something of a problem. The only action sequence I thought worked was the one with the dogs at the ranch house, and then only in places. Otherwise, the pacing is almost always off, as Meyer lingers on details that aren’t important, while hand-waving things that, on a tactile, physical level make no sense.

 

For example: While Alex is busy torturing the schoolteacher, she hears a plane buzz overhead and then crash in the distance. This is after a truly interminable sequence wherein she roofies and then abducts said schoolteacher from DC out into, like, the Pennsylvania wilderness or somesuch. I can’t stress enough how long the abduction sequence was, even though it was probably only pages. When evil twin brother appears, he has a preternaturally trained attack dog with him. He explains that he had to bail out of the plane and let it crash because there was no nearby landing strip, and he needed to get to his bro toot sweet. So, real talk, how did the dog get out of the plane with him? Did the dog have a dog parachute, with a ripcord it pulled like one of the Golden Plump chickens in those weird commercials in the 80s? Or did he have a Dog Bjorn so that a 80 lb German shepherd was somehow affixed to his body? How much weight can the average parachute handle? Given that evil twin is an absolute unit of a guy, over 6 feet tall, add a bigass dog, just, is this even physically possible? Even the most plausible answers are silly as hell. This is bad writing.

 

But I really want to go back and examine Alex’s background as a torturer. She does a tiny little bit of hand-wringing about her torture talents when she discovers that she’s tortured an innocent man. Like, that has never happened before zomg? Heretofore, all of the subjects she’s tortured (for a shadowy government agency that has spent three years trying to murder her after successfully liquidating her mentor while at work) have been absolute, easily discernible bad guys. (Sure, Jan.) Moreover, she has a 100% success rate in getting them to divulge meaningful intel through her pharmaceutical torture. She regularly leans in to the fact that her torture methods — which are pharmacological — do not leave marks, which is so much more civilized that lopping off toes or whatever. Apparently it doesn’t count as torture if you don’t leave marks.

 

Absolutely all of this grade A red state hogwash. Torture is torture is torture.

 

Subjecting detained people to pain is immoral, whether you leave marks or not. It is evil to torture people. Torture violates both domestic law and the Geneva Convention. Waterboarding doesn’t leave a mark. The mob knew ages ago how not to leave bruises — a phone book or a bag or oranges will do the trick. And it’s been absolutely fastidiously documented that torture doesn’t result in meaningful intelligence: people will literally say anything to make the pain stop. That Alex uses chemicals to perpetrate pain on her subjects does not absolve her of this evil. I feel like I do when I encounter anti-vaxxers: not only do vaccines not cause autism, but even if they did, there is nothing fucking wrong with autistic people; stop acting like autism is worse than death. Torture will not give you meaningful intel, but even if it did, it’s still a grave and mortal sin; stop acting like torture can be excused.

 

It’s completely wild to read a book with a main character who engages in actual, legit war crimes, doesn’t feel bad about this, and is treated like a sympathetic character. She even has a stilted, embarrassing romance with the innocent man she tortured, because why the fuck not? He begins excusing her treatment of him while still tied naked to a steel slab, mid-rescue by his brother. She didn’t mean to torture me lol, it was just an honest mistake! What a meet-cute! Just, blah, I don’t even know how to deal with this.

 

So. I’m here at the wrapping up stage of this here book report, and I’m not sure where to go with this. I’ve often felt fondly toward Stephenie Meyer because I can appreciate the way she writes from her hind-brain in the Twilight Saga: Yes, of course, all of that imprinting business is bananas and the religious overlay completely twisted, but it felt honestly, individually fucked up in a way that occasionally resonated. I’ve said this before, but the birthing sequence in Breaking Dawn is the most horrifically bonkers thing I’ve read about childbirth, and I have a stunned admiration for what it must have taken to put that to paper. Sweet Jesus, woman, yikes.

 

Meyer, in The Chemist, is writing in a genre she has real affection for, but it doesn’t tap her subcutaneous instincts, which are, for better or for worse, her greatest strengths as a writer. The Chemist doesn’t feel like a hind-brain fiction; it feels calculated and planned. It is ultimately a bloodless iteration of bloody events. Meyer even lampshades this in the beginning, when Alex goes to the library to check out slash steal pop fiction spy thriller books. Yes, it’s all fictional, the torturer heroine thinks, but maybe there’s something clever I can learn. This is clumsy metafiction: hey I’m writing a book that acknowledges the books used as antecedent. But ultimately Meyer doesn’t have any skin in the game — not like she did in the Twilight Saga anyway — and it shows. She may have improved her prose, but she hasn’t improved her writing.

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review 2020-02-04 07:10
Book Blitz w/Review - Carter

Carter
A.M. Salinger
(Twilight Falls #2)
Publication date: January 31st 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Carter’s carefree, movie star lifestyle comes to an abrupt end when he becomes the guardian to a little girl he has never met before. Will his hot new neighbor Elijah prove to be the one thing he and Maisie need to make their family whole?

 

Carter Wilson has it all. A dazzling career, fame, fortune, and women falling at his feet. All that changes the day he becomes the guardian to his newly orphaned niece. When he moves to his hometown of Twilight Falls to give Maisie the stable life she deserves, the last thing Carter expects is a hot neighbor who is soon making him wish for things he has never wanted before.

 

 

After abandoning a promising career in Europe to fulfill the vow he made to his grandmother, pastry chef Elijah Davis is determined to make his new bakery business a success. What he doesn’t need is a distraction in the shape of the hunky movie star next door and the little girl who is fast worming her way into his heart.

 

 

But when an old flame chases Elijah to Twilight Falls and a bitter movie producer threatens to expose Carter’s secret bisexuality, both Elijah and Carter realize they will have to fight dirty if they want their relationship to survive.

 

 

Discover Carter and Elijah’s story in the bewitching second novel in Twilight Falls, the new series by the author of the bestselling, contemporary romance series Nights.

Goodreads / Amazon

 

 

EXCERPT:

 

Elijah Davis finished polishing the shiny, new stainless-steel work tables in the
center of the kitchen and took off his apron. He turned in a slow circle and studied
the industrial-sized ovens, the commercial proofer, the chiller, the walk-in freezer,
the shelves holding trays, tins, pans, and racks, and the professional mixers sitting
on a counter with a critical eye.


A slow grin split his face. He’d finally done it.


The swing door opened. A young woman with short, pink and blue hair and
half a dozen piercings strolled in, a tired smile on her face.


“I think we’re ready,” Sam Harris said with a confident dip of her chin.


She joined Elijah and stared around the lovingly restored kitchen. The
butcher’s block they’d bought for a bargain at a garage sale a month ago had
come up beautifully after some sanding and took pride of place between the metal
tables in the middle of the room. They’d spent one weekend stripping decades of
greased-up paint from the cabinets and cupboards before whitewashing them and
applying thick coats of cream and duck egg blue. The colors matched the bakery’s
new facade and the shop’s gaily decorated interior.


La Petite Bouche Gourmande was officially opening for business tomorrow.


“Bet you’re excited,” Sam told Elijah with a grin, exposing a slightly crooked
tooth.


“So much so I don’t think I’m gonna sleep tonight,” Elijah admitted fervently.

 

“Well, I’d offer to help you with that, but you like dicks and I like pussies, so
our work affair is unfortunately doomed before it can even begin.”

 

Elijah chuckled at her deadpan expression.

 

It still surprised him how completely wrong his first impression of Sam had
been. When he’d first laid eyes on her on the day she came to interview for the
position of his bakery manager, he’d already resigned himself to hiring somebody
out of town for the job.

 

Although Twilight Falls wasn’t exactly famous for producing pâtissiers, he’d
hoped to at least find someone competent enough to handle a basic kitchen and a
cake shop.


Elijah’s heart had sunk when Sam had walked into the office above the
bakery and sat down on the other side of the desk, a faintly mutinous expression
on her flushed face. He’d told himself he would indulge her since she was the last
interviewee of the day and had nearly fallen out of his chair after she correctly told
him the steps required to make macarons five minutes later.


It was afterward that Sam told him she was so used to people assuming she
was unreliable because of her appearance that she normally went in with all guns
blazing.


Elijah had given her the job on the spot.

 

“It still feels strange, you know,” Sam mused. “When I first saw your ad, I
didn’t believe my eyes for a second. Why would a renowned pastry chef leave a
Michelin-star restaurant and a successful career in Paris to open a bakery in the
back end of nowhere?” A teasing light warmed her face. “And not just any pastry
chef, but a hot one, with a body like Adonis.”

 

Elijah pressed a hand to his heart with an expression of fake shock. “You
think I’m hot? And that I look like Adonis?”

 

Sam rolled her eyes. “I take it back. Your ego doesn’t need any more
inflating.”

 

They closed up shop a short while later.

 

“Be careful,” Elijah told Sam as she climbed on her moped.

 

She saluted and headed off in the night. Elijah watched her until she
disappeared and turned to gaze at the bakery’s facade. A melancholic feeling
swirled through him as he studied the freshly painted shop sign.


La Petite Bouche Gourmande had been one of his favorite children’s books.

His most vivid memories of his maternal, French grandmother were of her reading
it to him during the long summers his family spent in France when he was growing
up.


“Because I made a promise to someone very important to me,” Elijah said
quietly, finally answering the question Sam had asked him.


Elijah’s grandmother had come to Twilight Falls only once, when he was
fifteen. She had immediately fallen in love with the picturesque town, which was
as different from the sleepy French village she had spent most of her life in as
night was from day. It was during that trip that they’d spoken of his future and
Elijah had first told her his dreams of going to Paris to study to be a professional
pâtissier, a dream he had so far hidden from his own parents. His grandmother
had been quiet for some time as they strolled through the town. Then, she’d
stopped and pointed out a charming coffee shop.


“Like that,” she’d said in her heavily accented English. “You should come
back and open a bakery here just like that, in this beautiful place.” She’d gazed at
the forested valley draped in autumnal colors that surrounded Twilight Falls,
before beaming at him. “You will be happy here. I can feel it.”


She had planned to visit again but had fallen ill shortly after his seventeenth
birthday and passed away on the night Elijah and his mother arrived in France to
see her. They’d spent a couple of weeks after her funeral organizing her affairs
before returning to Twilight Falls with a box full of her personal items. Among them
had been the book she had read to Elijah when he was still a boy and the one
thing of hers he’d taken with him when he’d left for Paris a few years later.

 

It was close to eleven by the time Elijah got home. His parents were away
on their long-awaited world cruise and had given him the keys to their house while
he settled back into town and looked for his own place. He parked his vintage,
pea-green Citroën DS on the driveway at the end of the cul-de-sac where they’d

moved to and was climbing the steps to the front porch when a child’s faint cry
reached him.


Elijah turned and was surprised to see lights in the pretty, white clapboard
house across the way. His father had given him the impression the place was
empty. Not that it bothered Elijah to have neighbors. The properties on the estate
had generous plots and were mostly occupied by retired folks.


A shadow moved across a window on the second floor.


From the distance, Elijah made out the figure of a man rocking a little girl
with blonde hair in his arms. The man stopped and turned to look straight at him.

 

Elijah flushed at being caught staring. He realized belatedly that the guy
probably couldn’t see him where he stood in the dark. He twisted on his heels and
headed inside his parents’ house, curious as to who it was who’d moved in
opposite him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Carter (Twilight Falls #2)Carter by A.M. Salinger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is book #2 in the Twilight Falls series. This story can be read as a standalone novel. To avoid spoilers, and to understand the series better, I recommend reading this series in order.

Elijah hears sounds from his neighbors home that worry him. A child is crying and he does not know why. Does he do something? Stand by? This is a defining moment.

Carter has been hit with some of life's true setbacks. When he and Elijah both have surprises from their past thrown at them - can they come together and make a future? What does it take to give someone your heart?

I could not stop reading this. Every page had more and more I needed to know. I loved all the very sexy times, and the sparks were flyin'! This one has it all heart, heat, and hurt. I was so pleased that this story gave me a little bit of it all. I am hopeful for the next installment of this series.


***This early copy was given in exchange for an honest review only.

View all my reviews

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author Bio:

 

Ava Marie Salinger is the pen name of an Amazon bestselling author who has always wanted to write scorching hot contemporary romance. In 2018, she finally decided to venture to the steamy side. NIGHTS is the first of several sizzling series featuring sweet, sexy men with dark pasts and a whole lot of love to give to the ones brave enough to fight for their hearts. When she’s not dreaming up hotties to write about, you’ll find Ava creating kickass music playlists to write to, spying on the wildlife in her garden, drooling over gadgets, and eating Chinese.
 
Want to be the first to know about Ava’s new releases and get access to exclusive content, sneak previews, sales, and giveaways? Then sign up to her Reader Group here and join her VIP Facebook Fan Group here.

 

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Bookbub / Instagram / Pinterest / Amazon / Book and Main Bites

 

GIVEAWAY!
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review 2020-02-02 07:26
Sparkle
Carter (Twilight Falls #2) - A.M. Salinger

This is book #2 in the Twilight Falls series.  This story can be read as a standalone novel.  To avoid spoilers, and to understand the series better, I recommend reading this series in order.

 

Elijah hears sounds from his neighbors home that worry him.  A child is crying and he does not know why.  Does he do something?  Stand by?  This is a defining moment.

 

Carter has been hit with some of life's true setbacks.  When he and Elijah both have surprises from their past thrown at them - can they come together and make a future?  What does it take to give someone your heart?

 

I could not stop reading this.  Every page had more and more I needed to know.  I loved all the very sexy times, and the sparks were flyin'!  This one has it all heart, heat, and hurt.  I was so pleased that this story gave me a little bit of it all.  I am hopeful for the next installment of this series.  I give this read a 4/5 Kitty's Paws UP!

 

 

***This early copy was given in exchange for an honest review only.

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review 2019-12-24 16:31
Novella Review: Golden Twilight by Kathleen Y'Barbo
The Alaska Brides Collection: Five Romances Persevere in the Alaska Wilderness - Tracie Peterson,Mary Connealy,Cathy Marie Hake,Kathleen Y'Barbo

Title: Golden Twilight

Author: Kathleen Y'Barbo

Bind-up: The Alaska Brides Collection

Format: ebook

Rating: 3 stars

 

Favourite character: Fiona

Least favourite character: Elizabeth

 

Mini-review: So, um, this novella had terrible continuity. Daughters became nieces, nieces became daughters. There were some other things that I've already forgotten but it felt like the authors got their wires crossed or something.

One thing I really didn't like was the 18 year time jump in basically one chapter. I hate time skips, it's a reading pet peeve.

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