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review 2019-01-21 17:35
The thrilling sequel to ‘Reign of The Fallen’ takes us back to a very different Karthia; this time foreign invaders, political unrest, and Odessa’s relationship take center-stage
Song of The Dead - Sarah Glenn Marsh

This is the thrilling sequel to ‘REIGN OF THE FALLEN’, a novel that introduces us to Odessa, a necromancer in Karthia, where she has the special magical ability of raising the Dead. She is able to cross into the spirit world called the Deadlands, and she also is a fierce fighter; when monsters called Shades start kidnapping Dead nobility, Princess Valoria has Odessa and her fellow necromancers investigate (including Evander, someone who she loves deeply).

Odessa and her friends do all they can but  it’s not enough to save someone she loves; a Shade rips apart and kills Evander, and Odessa turns to ‘potions’ to cope with her loss.

 

Without revealing ALL details of the book (because you need to be reading THAT NOW before you read ‘Song of The Dead’!), by the end of the novel we have Odessa leaving Karthia aboard The Paradise to pursue Evander’s dream of seeing unknown. So where will the sequel lead us?

 

SONG OF THE DEAD

 

With Karthia behind them, Odessa and Meredy are aboard Kasmira’s ship The Paradise, ready to discover new lands and bring word back to Queen Valoria about the new world. They discover a friendly land, Sarral, where people keep dragons, and the Dead only come out at night, and before they get a chance to get settled, news of unrest back in Karthia has them back on their ship sailing for home, their long trip cut short.

Instead of the threats of the past, open borders  means the threat of foreign invaders, on top of political unrest, and Valoria is hoping that one of her mages can create a new weapon good enough to fight it all now that the Dead can’t help them win this battle.

 

While ‘Reign of the Fallen’ was filled with monstrous death and loss on account of the bloodthirsty Shades, giving the book a very dark tone, ‘Song of the Dead’ begins with a feeling of hope despite all that the Karthians have gone through. 

The beginning ocean voyage initially made me feel as though Odessa and the crew were going to be gone long from the difficulties of their homeland, and I was worried that things had got too easy for them (!), but the adventure of this book, while quite a departure from ROTF, quickly takes off. The book actually goes through several different ‘phases’, with the ocean voyage, the time in Sarral, the return back to Karthia, and because of the vivid world-building, you will be easily carried through them, experiencing all the different chapters and introducing new characters along the way.  

 

There is a lot of internal drama due to the political unrest in this book (the Karthians start to rise up against the changes that Valoria wants to make) as well as thanks to the new emotional ups and downs experienced by Odessa. The outside foreign threat and new civil crisis are a great juxtaposition, and I actually it think could be seen as a bit of a gamble when the first book was almost entirely  about the Dead and then they barely appear in the plot of the second. I personally think the gamble works.

 

But the biggest twist of all comes late in the novel, and while Odessa is not having to fight Shades or something as gruesome, she finds herself fighting something harder and puts her life on the line to save everyone. I think this twist is especially clever, particularly with how it ties in with the first novel and how Odessa’s magic works. 

 

At the heart of this exciting novel is the relationship between Odessa and Meredy, despite both of them reeling from the loss of Evander. Author Marsh, who champions LGBT romance, devotes plenty of page time to the complicated ‘keep us guessing’ relationship between the two girls. Marsh also includes a number of other characters with relationships on the LGBT spectrum, and the representation feels positive and realistic and actually as though it’s quote/unquote ‘normal’ (whatever that is!). This is a breath of fresh air, because it just feels like it ‘fits’ and there isn’t a lot of posturing or trying too hard. Marsh just gets it.

 

I am fortunate, nay, blessed, to be immortalized in this book as Baroness Katerina (along with my cat), and then to be acknowledged at the end. I will be forever grateful to Sarah for this. I am also so very sad that my trip to the magical Karthia and the Deadlands is now over, but I enjoyed it enormously. I can’t wait for another bookish adventure at the hands of Sarah Glenn Marsh, and I hope many YA fantasy readers enjoy these two books as much as I have.

 

‘Song of The Dead’ is available from Penguin Teen on January 22nd, 2019!

You can buy it right HERE!

 

*Warning: you will want a pink dragon after reading this book.

 

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/40125269-song-of-the-dead
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review 2019-01-21 02:18
This review is brought to you by the puddle of goo that use to be me...
Criminal Intentions: Cult of Personality - Cole McCade

This one melted me...I use to be a real person but now I'm just a puddle of goo in my office chair.

 

To start with we have yet another crime for our intrepid couple to solve and this one is every bit as disturbing as previous cases. While we have the similarity of a father and son being involved that's where it all ends and the only clue that Mal and Seong-Jae have to help them solve their case is "he pushed me." not a lot to go on. As Mal and Seong-Jae begin their investigation a suspected suicide starts to look a bit suspicious as it looks more and more like their victim might have had a helping hand. Without fail I have been enthralled by each and every case that we've been presented with.

 

And as always in between the demands of their jobs and life in general there has been Seong-Jae and Mal exploring their relationship as both men admit to their feelings and their willingness to see where things can go. But of course this isn't going to happen without the usual banter and snark that flows between these two men as easily as breathing. I was honestly worried about how things would change once they became more involved and while it has changed especially with Malcolm it works...it works so wonderfully well. I think it's as much of a surprise for Seong-Jae as it was for me to discover that his 'old wolf' is  a cuddler and maybe a bit on the sappy side but it all seems to be such a part of him. If I was enamored of these two before they actually started being a couple it's only gotten better with this episode.

 

I know I've indicated in previous reviews that there's also a bigger picture story being woven throughout this series from episode to episode and it's still there and with each episode it's moving more and more to the foreground and in very surprising ways it's also becoming entangled with each episode's storyline as it draws the reader into a spiderweb that's threatening to trap everything that it touches. So far there have been hints of where this threat has originated from but the real mystery isn't where it's come from, but where it's going and how it's all going to end.

 

Ok, so I'm trying not to gush too much here but seriously I'm not sure how to refrain from this or how to explain just how incredibly hot these two men are...honestly, I've read entire stories that haven't been nearly as incendiary as one simple moment between these two men and I'm talking about moments that did not involve anyone getting naked...there have been simple moments of a hand straightening a tie, a kiss, a look that promises steam and heat and passion and then there are the promises...promises that speak of knowing each other of caring of never letting the other fall.

 

Criminal Intentions is by no means a conventional love story but these MCs are to say the least by no means a conventional pairing and at the end of the day it all works and just like a favorite television show I look forward to each new episode and finding out what unexpected surprises it's going to hold for me. 

 

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An ARC of 'Criminal Intentions: Cult of Personality' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2019-01-21 01:06
The Other Book is also a different book...
The Other Book - Roe Horvat

I'm fairly new to the writings of Roe Horvat...as in this is my second book by this author and honestly what I'm left wondering at this point is "damn, girl what the hell have you been waiting for?". 

 

'The Other Book' is one of the few books that I've read that while it has a fair amount of sex in it there are two things that I found to be very different from most other books that can make this claim...one...the sex is not gratuitous, it is an integral part of the story and two...it never felt excessive or unnecessary at any given time and I almost forgot there's a very solid story that it supports...not the other way around.

 

Tyler and Joel are two incredibly different men. Tyler's comfortable in his own skin he knows who he is and he's more than good with it. He's been raised by a mother who's both loving and supportive and I suspect a bit of a free spirit...she was a delightful addition to this story.

 

Joel is like a spring that's been wound too tight and one touch and it's going to fly out of it's casing and go in a million different directions. Joel's been raised by his father who to say the least is the polar opposite of Tyler's mother.

 

Tyler's convinced that Joel hates him and frustrated by his inability to figure out why he finally confronts the Joel only to discover that Joel feelings are driven more by desire than derision leading to the beginning of a relationship that at the beginning is entirely sexual and about Joel ceding total control of things to Tyler allowing him to let go and just feel without the responsibility of making the decisions. 

 

As time passes Tyler begins to realize that Joel isn't entirely what he seems to be and that he's a man in need of someone to love him and Tyler also begins to realize that he's the man that Joel needs.

 

I loved the journey that took Tyler and Joel from essentially being enemies to lovers. I loved that while there was a lot of sex in this one because of the nature of their relationship quite honestly it was a very sexual relationship and a story about two men involved in a relationship that starts out as purely sexual and then not to have any sex or at times a lot of sex would have seemed a little strange and while it's a fine line between a lot of sex and too much sex that like was walked perfectly this time around.

 

I'm looking forward to delving into more of this authors works in the near future. I've become enchanted with the authors writing, with the locations and the wonderful characters who inhabit them and last but not least with how the author brings it all together to create a story that captures me mind, heart and soul.

 

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

An ARC of 'The Other Book' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2019-01-20 21:38
There was sweet and there was feelz...so many feelz, but...
Awakenings & French Songs - Nell Iris

I really wanted more. This is only my second read by this author and while I only gave this one 3 stars if I was giving stars for potential there would have been at least 4 stars on this one.  I loved the story and was over the moon about the potential it held. I just needed more actual story to get me there.

 

When we first meet Iggy, he's at a crossroads in his life. There's a lot about his life that he likes but as he gets closer to his birthday he also begins to reflect on what it is that he has and what it is that he wants.  He's a party boy...Iggy never says no or so the story goes until...Iggy says no because he's starting to realize that the life he has, isn't the life he wants. It's during a late night visit with his neighbour...Ronan, his very hot, off limits, single father neighbor that Iggy begins to question his life, where it's at vs where he wants to be and comes to the realization that it's time for a change.

 

My biggest problem with this story was that I really and truly wanted more...more Iggy and Ronan. Ronan's not off limits because he's straight...nope, for Iggy he's off limits because Ronan's straight or because he's not looking for a quicky or even a friends with benefits relationship.  Ronan wants the full package. He's looking for someone who wants someone who's in it for the long haul...someone who's going to love his kid as much as him because they're a package deal. 

 

I was ok with the fact that the story picks up part way through their friendship but once they agreed to see if there was more...well, i really liked these two men and I wanted to be there for more of the more as well. I'm not just talking about the sexy times here given the brevity of this story quite honestly the amount of sex that was here actually seemed appropriate but I wanted more of the dating/getting to know each other moments.There's a time jump between the end of the story and the epilogue of a year and I admit it I'm greedy and I wanted at least some of that year because Ronan and Iggy going from friends to lovers from what I read left me wanting the whole story.

 

So this isn't a case of 3 stars because I didn't like what I read it's a case of 3 stars because it was so good that I really, really wanted more.

 

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

An ARC of 'Awakenings & French Songs' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

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text 2019-01-19 19:37
Shelf Update...

I'm not done. 

 

I still need to re-arrange and put books back on the shelves, and clear out the bomb site that is my office and which will house the two shelves that previously were in my living room, and then ... yeah, there is still lots to do. 

 

BUT...  I give you...new shelves: 

 

 

Re-arranged shelves...now on the other side of the room:

 

 

And the long-awaited dedicated Wimsey/Sayers shelf.

 

 

Now for some tea and back to A Dog's Ransom...

 

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