Posted in ARC Reviews, Book Reviews, Netgalley

e-ARC Review: Mysteries of Thorn Manor (Sorcery of Thorns #1.5) – Margaret Rogerson

Rating: 5/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Publication Date: January 17, 2023

Review:

Welcome back to the world of Sorcery of Thorns, where grimoires talk back and magic runs rampant. The cover of Sorcery of Thorns was an exceptional one and Mysteries of Thorn Manor follows that trend with another fantastic cover. I can’t wait to add this one to my collection and that should tell you right away how much I enjoyed this book.

Mysteries of Thorn Manor is a tasty little morsel of a book that was a delight to read. It picks up after the events of Sorcery of Thorns and I loved that we got to see Elisabeth and Nathaniel’s relationship evolve along with the chaos of magical mishaps.

I had a lot of fun reading it and found myself laughing out loud at some of the delightful scenes. This book was in equal measures packed with magic, humor, insight, deep emotions, and perhaps a glimpse into the making of the next book? 😉

Book Dragons, make sure you grab this book tomorrow when it’s published. It’s so worth it and I can guarantee you’ll have a blast reading it.

Thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Stay tuned.

∼Lyn

Blurb:
In this sequel novella to Sorcery of Thorns, Elisabeth, Nathaniel, and Silas must unravel the magical trap keeping them inside Thorn Manor in time for their Midwinter Ball!
Elisabeth Scrivener is finally settling into her new life with sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn. Now that their demon companion Silas has returned, so has scrutiny from nosy reporters hungry for gossip about the city’s most powerful sorcerer and the librarian who stole his heart. But something strange is afoot at Thorn Manor: the estate’s wards, which are meant to keep their home safe, are acting up and forcibly trapping the Manor’s occupants inside. Surely it must be a coincidence that this happened just as Nathaniel and Elisabeth started getting closer to one another…
With no access to the outside world, Elisabeth, Nathaniel, and Silas – along with their new maid Mercy – will have to work together to discover the source of the magic behind the malfunctioning wards before they’re due to host the city’s Midwinter Ball. Not an easy task when the house is filled with unexpected secrets, and all Elisabeth can think about is kissing Nathaniel in peace. But when it becomes clear that the house, influenced by the magic of Nathaniel’s ancestors, requires a price for its obedience, Elisabeth and Nathaniel will have to lean on their connection like never before to set things right.
Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Rust In The Root – Justina Ireland

Rating: 5/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Historical Fiction, LGBT, LGBTQ

Review:

When I first saw the cover of Rust In The Root, I knew I had to have this book. How gorgeous is that cover! Plus I’ve read a couple of books by Justina Ireland and I like her writing style. I actually finished this book at 1 a.m. coz it was that good.

The story is set in 1937 in an alternate history, with the same prejudices but with magic thrown in. From the first moment Laura Ann was introduced, I was charmed by her point of view and the dry wit that left me chuckling. Life is hard when you’re colored but you can either throw in the towel or keep fighting. Laura Ann chose to keep fighting.

With a delightful cast of diverse characters, the plotline was smooth and seamless, with dynamic writing that was a pleasure to read. The author sprinkled tasty morsels of the story like a breadcrumb trail, which was an excellent ploy to make it more compelling and keep you guessing, not to mention the dry humor cropping up when you least expected it and making it fun.

I enjoyed this book far more than I’d expected and the characters left a lasting impression on me long after I finished it.

Thanks to HarperCollins Canada for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Stay tuned.

∼Lyn

Synopsis
The author of the visionary New York Times bestseller Dread Nation returns with another spellbinding historical fantasy set at the crossroads of race and power in America.
It is 1937, and Laura Ann Langston lives in an America divided—between those who work the mystical arts and those who do not. Ever since the Great Rust, a catastrophic event that blighted the arcane force called the Dynamism and threw America into disarray, the country has been rebuilding for a better future. And everyone knows the future is industry and technology—otherwise known as Mechomancy—not the traditional mystical arts.
Laura disagrees. A talented young mage from Pennsylvania, Laura hopped a portal to New York City on her seventeenth birthday with hopes of earning her mage’s license and becoming something more than a rootworker
But six months later, she’s got little to show for it other than an empty pocket and broken dreams. With nowhere else to turn, Laura applies for a job with the Bureau of the Arcane’s Conservation Corps, a branch of the US government dedicated to repairing the Dynamism so that Mechomancy can thrive. There she meets the Skylark, a powerful mage with a mysterious past, who reluctantly takes Laura on as an apprentice.
As they’re sent off on their first mission together into the heart of the country’s oldest and most mysterious Blight, they discover the work of mages not encountered since the darkest period in America’s past, when Black mages were killed for their power—work that could threaten Laura’s and the Skylark’s lives, and everything they’ve worked for.

 

Posted in Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Rosaline (2022)

Rating: 5/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Comedy, Romance

Review:

I read Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet in high school (eons ago) and shocker, I was never a fan. Even now that I’m no longer an angsty, Goth teen but an ancient dragon, though with the same penchant for sarcasm mind you, I still find R&J a tragic waste. That said, I absolutely loved the movie, Rosaline.

Rosaline is a modern re-telling of R&J but with a slight, snarky twist that makes it absolutely fantastic. It’s told from the point of view of Rosaline, who is Juliet’s cousin. I loved the modern slang and the changes in the different characters. Rosaline, of course, was my favorite. She’s audacious, snarky, outspoken, stubborn and she marches to her own drum. Her point of view was a delight and I also enjoyed her character growth.

Now, broody Dario, ooh-la-la. You can see the maturity on him. And of course, he’s gorgeous. I liked the side characters—the sassy nurse, charming Paris.

I love how the movie portrays Romeo & Juliet as two rash teens—children really, who never had the chance to grow and learn from their mistakes. Rosaline and Dario’s characters show that world of difference. Kaitlyn Dever and Sean Teale did a great job of portraying Rosaline and Dario.

And that ending? Bloody fabulous! I enjoyed it immensely and if you watch it, do not miss the satisfaction of the post-credit scenes.

As a music buff, of course, I can’t end my review without commenting on the soundtrack. It gave the movie that modernization again and the songs fit the movie to a T.

Highly recommended!

∼Lyn

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Forgotten in Death (In Death #53) – J.D. Robb

Rating: 5/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Review:

I have no idea why I didn’t review this book the first time I read it when it was obviously a 5-star review for me and is one of my favorite series. But better late than never, right? And I can say that the second time around, Forgotten In Death was once again a 5-star review for me.

This new case from the first body to the second pulled at the heartstrings. It was just so sad and that sadness kept tugging at me. Their fates were so tragic. The case in itself was actually two cases and it was intriguing to see Eve tackling it from two different ends.

The conclusion to both cases was absolutely satisfying. I loved the ending chapters and how Eve found justice for her two victims. In every Eve Dallas book I read, I always find the strength and courage to keep going on. This series is one with values, justice, about doing the right thing. About hope.

Stay tuned.

∼Lyn

*Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: In the latest novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series, homicide detective Eve Dallas sifts through the wreckage of the past to find a killer. The body was left in a dumpster like so much trash, the victim a woman of no fixed address, known for offering paper flowers in return for spare change―and for keeping the cops informed of any infractions she witnessed on the street. But the notebook where she scribbled her intel on litterers and other such offenders is nowhere to be found. Then Eve is summoned away to a nearby building site to view more remains―in this case decades old, adorned with gold jewelry and fine clothing―unearthed by recent construction work. She isn’t happy when she realizes that the scene of the crime belongs to her husband, Roarke―not that it should surprise her, since the Irish billionaire owns a good chunk of New York. Now Eve must enter a complex world of real estate development, family history, shady deals, and shocking secrets to find justice for two women whose lives were thrown away…
Posted in ARC Reviews, Book Reviews

e-ARC Review: The Silence That Binds Us – Joanna Ho

Rating: 5/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Young Adult, Mental Health, Asian, Racism

Release Date: 14 June 2022

Review:

First of all, that cover is absolutely apt for this book. It was what drew me to it. I have anxiety and depression and sometimes it feels like I’m drowning and the surface feels too far away. This cover emphasized that and resonated with me.

Maybelline’s brother was the perfect one, who had his life all figured out, who he wanted to be, where he wanted to go to college whereas Maybelline can’t seem to get her mother’s approval for even one achievement. Then the unthinkable happens and Danny takes his own life, leaving May and her family reeling in the aftermath.

The author’s writing was exceptional. She did a remarkable job emphasizing and showing difficult issues such as mental health and racism. I liked that she didn’t just focus on Asian but Black people and the ignorance of others over the prejudice they have to endure.

Best of all, you could see May’s character growth as she fell down and picked herself back up, how she learned to see the world as it was and not how she wanted it to be. And you couldn’t help but love Tiya, Marc, Hugh, and Celeste.

The emotions in the story surged through and had a huge impact on me. The grief and the guilt, the sibling love between May and Danny, the friendships, that glimmer of hope at the end. And there were scenes that ripped your heart out and left you in tears.

The fact that the author could pull these powerful emotions in me says it all. This is by no means an easy story, with powerful scenes that will change you forever. And that is exactly why you need to read it.

Thanks to HarperCollins Canada for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Stay tuned.

∼Lyn

Synopsis:
Maybelline Chen isn’t the Chinese Taiwanese American daughter her mother expects her to be. May prefers hoodies over dresses and wants to become a writer. When asked, her mom can’t come up with one specific reason for why she’s proud of her only daughter. May’s beloved brother, Danny, on the other hand, has just been admitted to Princeton. But Danny secretly struggles with depression, and when he dies by suicide, May’s world is shattered.
In the aftermath, racist accusations are hurled against May’s parents for putting too much “pressure” on him. May’s father tells her to keep her head down. Instead, May challenges these ugly stereotypes through her writing. Yet the consequences of speaking out run much deeper than anyone could foresee. Who gets to tell our stories, and who gets silenced? It’s up to May to take back the narrative.

 

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Nightwork – Nora Roberts

Rating: 5/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Intrigue

Review:

As a die-hard fan, I’m always on the lookout for new book releases of Nora Roberts and though lately there have been more misses than hits, Nightwork did not disappoint. From the get-go, I loved Harry Booth. He snuck in my heart and stayed there.

I empathized so much with him, over the huge responsibility he shouldered, what he took upon himself to try to pay the bills and take care of his mother. How can you fault him his choices?

I loved how the author portrayed him from a child to a teen to a young man, and as an adult. Harry Booth already had the maturity of an adult at a very young age but you could see the difference in age and experience as we followed his journey into adulthood.

The period of his life when he first met Miranda had me chuckling over how she baffled him. He needed that upheaval in his life. I can go on and on over how much I loved this book and it will still not be enough.

This story right here, is why I love Nora Roberts’ books so much. Her ability to craft a poignant story, with compelling characters, vivid descriptions, dashes of dark humor here and there, a deep abiding love, passion, intrigue, and an apt ending leaves me in awe.

Thanks to the publisher St Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Stay tuned.

∼Lyn

Synopsis:
Harry Booth started stealing at nine to keep a roof over his ailing mother’s head, slipping into luxurious, empty homes at night to find items he could trade for precious cash. When his mother finally succumbed to cancer, he left Chicago—but kept up his nightwork.
Wandering from the Outer Banks to Savannah to New Orleans, he dons new identities and stays careful, observant, distant. He can’t afford to attract attention—or get attached. Still, he can’t help letting his guard down when he meets Miranda Emerson. But the powerful bond between them cannot last—because not all thieves follow Harry’s code of honor. Some pay others to take risks so they can hoard more treasures. Some are driven by a desire to own people the way they own paintings and jewels. And after Harry takes a lucrative job commissioned by Carter LaPorte, LaPorte sees a tool he can use, and decides he wants to own Harry.
The man is a predator more frightening than the alligators that haunt the bayou—and when he strongarms Harry into robbing a Baltimore museum, Harry abandons Miranda—cruelly, with no explanation—and disappears. But no matter what name he uses or where he goes, LaPorte casts a shadow over Harry’s life. To truly free himself, he must face down his enemy once and for all. Only then can he hope to possess something more valuable than anything he has ever stolen…

 

Posted in Book Reviews

eARC Review: The Tangleroot Palace – Marjorie M. Liu

Rating: 5/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Fantasy, Horror, PNR

Release Date: 05 Apr 2022

Review:

I came across this book on NetGalley and the title – “The Tangleroot Palace” was the first thing to intrigue me. I’m so glad I requested it and was lucky enough to get approved for it. From the first page, the author’s words caught my attention and held it, refusing to let go.

The Tangleroot Palace is a collection of 7 short stories and usually, for this type of novel, I’d review the book as a whole. But there was such depth and individuality to each story that it’s only fair to review each one.

1 – Sympathy For The Bones
This was such a creepy little story and bloody fantastic in its creepiness about fairness and justice and the difference between helping someone out of the kindness of your heart and helping only to keep someone beholden to you. A lesson the young girl forced into apprenticeship to a Blair-type witch learned in time to save as much of her soul as she could. Is there forgiveness and redemption for acts committed when you had no other choice to try to save your soul? I want to think so, at least for this young girl who should have had people to love and care for her.

2 – The Briar and The Rose
Stuck in your own body, helpless to do anything but watch and scream inside. And the desperation of one who would do anything to release that imprisoned soul. It was heartbreaking to see the struggle and the pain. I wanted more details on the conclusion but it was an apt ending so it didn’t disappoint.

3 – The Light and The Fury
There’s nothing pretty about war – no dignity, no honor. One woman alone, longing for peace but burdened with saving her people. Another intriguing plot-line, centering around crystal skulls, which can be fascinating but personally, I find kind of creepy at the same time.

4 – The Last Dignity of Man
I found this one to be a heartbreaking story despite the creepy element – the hopeless, never-ending search for a cherished wish and the desperate struggle to find a way to get past the heartbreak of knowing that wish would never come true. The ending hit me totally out of the blue, I did not see that coming but it stayed with me for a long time.

5 – Where The Heart Lives
Oh, this is definitely one of my favorites in this collection. I have a soft spot for paranormal romance and I loved the main characters. You couldn’t help but love Lucy and Barnabus. And the romance between them was intense yet sweet at the same time.

6 – After The Blood
Ah, this collection wouldn’t be complete without at least one vampire story with an apocalyptic bend to it, and tragedy and heartbreak. I loved Amanda and you can’t help but empathize with her and Henry, our tortured vampire.

7 – The Tangleroot Palace
One last story to round off the collection and leave you with smiles. I loved Salinda and Mickel and the plot-line was predictable but not without its charm.

For a collection of short stories, the 7 stories did not feel like short stories. They left a hell of an impact on me and with a wish for more. The author’s writing was a pleasure to read and I am definitely getting The Tangleroot Palace in hardback for my collection.

A big thanks to NetGalley & Titan Books for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Stay tuned.

∼Lyn

Synopsis:
New York Times bestseller and Hugo, British Fantasy, Romantic Times, and Eisner award-winning author of the graphic novel, Monstress, Marjorie Liu leads you deep into the heart of the tangled woods. In her long-awaited debut story collection, dark, lush, and spellbinding short fiction you will find unexpected detours, dangerous magic, and even more dangerous women.
Briar, bodyguard for a body-stealing sorceress, discovers her love for Rose, whose true soul emerges only once a week. An apprentice witch seeks her freedom through betrayal, the bones of the innocent, and a meticulously-plotted spell. In a world powered by crystal skulls, a warrior returns to save China from invasion by her jealous ex. A princess runs away from an arranged marriage, finding family in a strange troupe of traveling actors at the border of the kingdom’s deep, dark woods.
Concluding with a gorgeous full-length novella, Marjorie Liu’s first short fiction collection is an unflinching sojourn into her thorny tales of love, revenge, and new beginnings.
Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: 10 Blind Dates (Messina Family #1) – Ashley Elston

Rating: 5/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Review:

10 Blind Dates is one of the books from my backlist that I finally got around to reading. Doesn’t the title itself intrigue you?

Blind dates are already anxiety-ridden experiences, and family being how they are – some relatives good, some bad, and some just plain mental, but in a cool way – now imagine being set up by those family members. These blind dates definitely promise to be interesting, if not unforgettable.

I started 10 Blind Dates without any idea what I was in for and don’t worry, not in a bad way. I think I read the first few pages without much enthusiasm but the second I met Sophie’s Nonna and the cousins and the rest of the extended family, I was hooked. Those first few pages made me think Sophie was a studious, average 16yo. But there was so much more to her and as I read on, I came to know her better and I gotta say the now-ex boyfriend, Griffin was an idiot to want a break from her.

I loved Sophie’s Nonna and the cousins! Charlie and Olivia and the rest of the family were such a hoot. They made me laugh so much with all their antics that it was hard to put down the book. Sophie got through some epiphanies and we all know how epiphanies can hurt like hell.

The author’s writing style was a pleasure to read and if you know me, you know I don’t say that about a lot of authors. What I loved most about this book was the sense of family and friendship. The tight-knit connection you can make with the good apples in your family. And that last date? It was the best ever.

That ending scene with Nonna was both touching and fantastic. One thing I can say about Nonna is she does things with panache. I can’t help but hope that when I’m her age I have even an ounce of her style.

This book left me in smiles long after I finished it. Actually, I read the ebook and ended up buying the hardback edition because I know I’m definitely reading this one again.

Readers, I do hope you give this one a try. Stay tuned.

∼Lyn 

Synopsis:
Sophie wants one thing for Christmas-a little freedom from her overprotective parents. So when they decide to spend Christmas in South Louisiana with her very pregnant older sister, Sophie is looking forward to some much needed private (read: make-out) time with her long-term boyfriend, Griffin. Except it turns out that Griffin wants a little freedom from their relationship. Cue devastation.
Heartbroken, Sophie flees to her grandparents’ house, where the rest of her boisterous extended family is gathered for the holiday. That’s when her nonna devises a (not so) brilliant plan: Over the next ten days, Sophie will be set up on ten different blind dates by different family members. Like her sweet cousin Sara, who sets her up with a hot guy at an exclusive underground party. Or her crazy aunt Patrice, who signs Sophie up for a lead role in a living nativity. With a boy who barely reaches her shoulder. And a screaming baby.
When Griffin turns up unexpectedly and begs for a second chance, Sophie feels more confused than ever. Because maybe, just maybe, she’s started to have feelings for someone else . . . Someone who is definitely not available.
This is going to be the worst Christmas break ever… or is it?
Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Fated Blades (Kinsmen #3) – Ilona Andrews

Rating: 5/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Sci-fi

Review:

Another delightful Kinsmen novella from Ilona Andrews! First of all, let’s have a big round of applause for that beautiful cover, shall we? It’s gorgeous and fits the characters to a T.

Ramona and Matias are the heads of their respective warring families and both are stuck in a marriage of convenience with people they don’t love. When they are both betrayed, they have no choice but to work together to protect their families from humiliation and the huge blow to their reputation.

Ramona was an amazing woman, strong yet not cold. There was a warmth to her that made her so much more than just a ruthless leader. I loved her integrity and her sense of fairness.

Ah, Matias! Of course, we needed a sexy counterpart who would value Ramona and see how priceless she was. Their interactions left me in smiles.

The plot-line was excellent as we’ve come to expect from Ilona Andrews’ stories and that world-building left me with vivid visuals. This might be a novella but it had all the depth of a full novel. Fated Blades was excellent and that ending scene wasn’t just fantastic, it was perfect.

Stay tuned.

∼Lyn

Synopsis:
An uneasy alliance between warring families gets heated in this otherworldly novella from bestselling author Ilona Andrews.
At first glance, the planet Rada seems like a lush paradise. But the ruling families, all boasting genetically enhanced abilities, are in constant competition for power―and none more so than the Adlers and the Baenas. For generations, the powerful families have pushed and pulled each other in a dance for dominance.
Until a catastrophic betrayal from within changes everything.
Now, deadly, disciplined, and solitary leaders Ramona Adler and Matias Baena must put aside their enmity and work together in secret to prevent sinister forces from exploiting universe-altering technology. Expecting to suffer through their uneasy alliance, Ramona and Matias instead discover that they understand each other as no one in their families can―and that their combined skills may eclipse the risks of their forbidden alliance.
As the two warriors risk their lives to save their families, they must decide whether to resist or embrace the passion simmering between them. For now, the dance between their families continues―but just one misstep could spell the end of them both.

 

Posted in Movie Reviews

Movie Review: The Matrix Resurrections (2021)

Rating: 5/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Genre: Sci-fi, Action, Romance

Review:

I can’t remember exactly how old I was when I watched the first Matrix movie. I think I must have been fifteen or sixteen, but what I do remember is the wonder The Matrix brought to an impressionable teen who was already crazy about sci-fi and fantasy. And let’s not forget totally crushing on Keanu Reeves after watching him in Speed (1994).

Now, 18 years after The Matrix Revolutions (2003) finished the trilogy off with a heartbreaking end, we were given one more installment. I have to say upfront that I’m a bit wary of additional sequels to franchises that wrapped up with perfect, albeit tragic endings. You know that feeling when a franchise ends with a finality that gave you a satisfying closure and you reconciled the emotions that came with it? And now to open that door again, with an anxiety that this new chapter could just ruin how you viewed and felt about it.

Book Dragons, especially, know this feeling when an author ends a series and then does a surprising addition to it that continues it. I call it a make-it-or-break-it plot twist. So of course I was both hyper and anxious about watching Matrix 4 – The Matrix Resurrections.

I am quite pleased to announce that I absolutely loved it. In my opinion, it was an interesting take on how the original trilogy ended, with new characters and changes to the timeline adding value to the story as a whole. And let’s be honest, how many of us wanted this since we first met Neo and Trinity?

Special Effects
When talking about The Matrix, you can’t not remark on the most important part—the special effects. I enjoyed them a lot and found the new changes a seamless merge to the original trilogy. The special effects were as wicked cool as always, the dystopian world of the machines’ domination as bleak as ever. And it was absolutely terrific!

Old & New Characters
I wanted to watch The Matrix Resurrections without any spoilers or even a glimpse into it so I had no clue which additional new actors I would see other than Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss. It was a fantastic surprise to see some of my favorite actors from Sense8 in it. I was fangirling all the way. Now for Morpheus 2.0, the new face looked good lol and the update was pretty cool. As for the humorless, invincible Agent Smith, he was as evil as ever and the new actor, Jonathan Groff, portrayed the crazy evil antagonist to perfection.

Overall Plot-line
The overall story was intriguing, with twists and turns that kept me hooked in. Some die-hard Matrix fans might find fault with this new installment but I for one found none. I’m not a romantic, my default mode is cynic but I found The Matrix Resurrections to be at the root, a love story – a tribute to Neo and Trinity, that deep connection between them that surmounted all odds.

That’s my conclusion and no matter what anyone else says, I enjoyed this movie a lot and I give it 5 by 5 stars.

∼Lyn