Blog Tour | Aftershock by Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell | Review

When an earthquake strikes San Francisco, forensics expert Jessie Teska faces her biggest threat yet in this explosive new mystery from the New York Times bestselling authors of Working Stiff and First Cut.

At first glance, the death appears to be an accident. The body is located on a construction site under what looks like a collapse beam. But when Dr. Jessie Teska arrives on the scene, she notices the tell-tale signs of a staged death. The victim has been murdered. A rising star in the San Francisco forensics world, Jessie is ready to unravel the case, help bring the murderer to justice, and prevent him from potentially striking again.

But when a major earthquake strikes San Francisco right at Halloween, Jessie and the rest of the city are left reeling. And even if she emerges from the rubble, there’s no guaranteeing she’ll make it out alive.

With their trademark blend of propulsive prose, deft plotting and mordant humor, this electrifying new installment in the Jessie Teska Mystery series offers the highest stakes yet.

BUY LINKS | Harlequin | Indiebound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble  | Books-A-Million | Target | Walmart | Google | iBooks | Kobo

Rating: 4 out of 5.

After reading the first book in the series, I knew I wanted to read this one as well. While you can read this one by itself without reading the first one, there are some references which will stand out more if you have already read the first one. That being said, I loved this one just as much as I enjoyed First Cut.

The twists and turns of this one, especially with the earthquake thrown in, made for a fast paced story. Jessie is strong in her desire to discover the truth and admittedly that doesn’t always sit right with people, especially those who haven’t appreciated it in the past. Some of the best moments in the book are the interactions between characters and how hard Jessie works to uncover what really happened. To be fair she doesn’t always choose the best way to do it, but it makes the story more impactful.

Judy Melinek & T.J. Mitchell are the New York Times bestselling co-authors of Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner, and the novel First Cut. Dr. Melinek studied at Harvard and UCLA, was a medical examiner in San Francisco for nine years, and today works as a forensic pathologist in Oakland and as CEO of PathologyExpert Inc. T.J. Mitchell, her husband, is a writer with an English degree from Harvard, and worked in the film industry before becoming a full-time stay-at-home dad to their children.

Twitter | Judy: @drjudymelinek | TJ: @TJMitchellWS
Facebook | @DrWorkingStiff
Instagram | Judy: @drjudymelinek
Goodreads | Judy | TJ

Big thanks to the publisher for including me in the blog tour – happy reading!

Blitz | A Warlock’s Storm by Marie-Claude Bourque

A Warlock’s Storm
Marie-Claude Bourque
(The Order of the Black Oak – Stories #1)
Publication date: January 21st 2021
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance, Urban Fantasy

A WARLOCK’S STORM: A Seasoned Urban Fantasy Romance

Meet the Order of the Black Oak: a powerful order of modern-day warriors fighting evil to protect the ones they love.

When rugged warlock turned fisherman Reynolds Stanford finds himself stranded in a haunted New England harbor at the approach of a powerful tropical storm, he must battle more than sea monsters and revenants. The gorgeous female panther shifter sent to help him by his family is tugging emotions buried deep within his soul and he fears that while he might survive the night from the deadly assault on his ship, he may very well end-up losing his heart in the process.

If you love loyal tough guys with hearts, satisfying slow-burn paranormal romance and safe Happily Ever Afters, the Black Oak World is for you.

Fantastic series of action, magic and awesome romance. You will fall in love with the characters and feel you are right with them.

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Meet Rey…. (Her POV)

Reynolds Stanford was a tall strapping man. His shoulders were wide under the fitted white t-shirt now sullied from the slayed monster’s blood, his posture solid with the harpoon planted at his side.

Saira’s insides, still bristling from the shifting hormones, rumbled with lust. Her niece Kerala had forgotten to mention how hot the recluse warlock was.

“What the hell is this?” Rey glanced at the sea then back at her, his brows knitted in confusion. “Where did you come from?”

She shrugged, her lips still curled in gentle amusement at recalling his earlier shock of seeing her appear out of nowhere. “Your cousin Diesel sent me.”

“Diesel, huh?” His tone lightened as he shook his head and stored his harpoon by the hatch leading below. “I should have known, the boy likes his magic.”

“He thought you might need help.” Barely five minutes ago, she’d been standing inside a magical circle at Breaker Hall in Seaport while Diesel and his mother, both extremely powerful sorcerers, had performed the ritual that had sent her here.

When her niece Kerala—who also happened to be Diesel Stanford’s wife—had learned through her fishermen connections that their cousin Rey had decided to sit out the tropical storm in a haunted cove, Diesel had been worried for his safety. Saira had volunteered to help. She’d been visiting with the couple for a fortnight and getting bored.

From her perch on the top deck, she surveyed the perfect circle of bay in the last light of the ending day. The mounting surf crashed at the shore on high cliffs dotted with tall pines. The one narrow pebble beach was littered with small, broken derelict boats, their mismatched planks oddly jutted upwards in their final journey.

She shuddered and her smile vanished. “Devil Eye Cove. Doesn’t look like the friendliest place.”

Author Bio:

Marie-Claude Bourque is a Seattle-based author of gothic paranormal romance and the winner of the American Title V award with her first novel ANCIENT WHISPERS.

Her writing features modern-day fantasy skillfully weaved into infinitely romantic supernatural stories between smart strong women and complex passionate heroes.

Happily Ever After always absolutely guaranteed!

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Review | Gudetama: Mindfulness for the Lazy by Wook-Jin Clark

Mindfulness takes a lot of mental energy to wrap your brain around. Gudetama is here to help you become a better person…sort of.

Empathizing with others, understanding your feelings, learning to be selfless. These all sound like really hard things to do! Well fear not, come along with Gudetama who’ll guide your way to learning things and more. Living selflessly is something many struggle with. Don’t worry, Gudetama does too, and wants to join you on your journey in finding the wonders of mindfulness. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I’ve really enjoyed the last couple Gudetama books I’ve read from Oni Press, so as soon as I saw this one pop up I wanted to read it as well. I knew it would be filled with humorous but also some wholesome content. This approach to mindfulness was no different. Gudetama is equal parts funny and morality lessons and some of the situations he finds people in are relateable and super easy to identify with. The art style is the same signature style that Gudetama always has, whether he’s laying down to take a nap or hiding in his shell, he always takes time to talk people through their issues and give them helpful advice – whether they take it or not is up to them. It’s a quick read that will make you smile and laugh and I’d say that’s perfect if you need a pick me up.

Happy reading!

Review | The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You’ve never heard of them, have you? These are the princes who saved Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel, respectively, and yet, thanks to those lousy bards who wrote the tales, you likely know them only as Prince Charming. But all of this is about to change.

Rejected by their princesses and cast out of their castles, the princes stumble upon an evil plot that could endanger each of their kingdoms. Now it’s up to them to triumph over their various shortcomings, take on trolls, bandits, dragons, witches, and other assorted terrors, and become the heroes no one ever thought they could be.

Christopher Healy’s Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom is a completely original take on the world of fairy tales, the truth about what happens after “happily ever after.” It’s a must-have for middle grade readers who enjoy their fantasy adventures mixed with the humor of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. Witty black-and-white drawings by Todd Harris add to the fun. 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

If you’re looking for a tongue in cheek adventure full of quirky characters that try their best but don’t always succeed the way they think they will, then this will be a fun read for you. We follow four princes who have each been dubbed “Prince Charming” in their respective kingdoms, and some of them don’t necessarily enjoy the way their stories unfolded. This story is a mashup of multiple fairy tale couples who aren’t really having a happy ever after, more like they don’t really know their partners and have some real relationship hiccups along the way. They aren’t traditional heroes by any means, but they find ways to work together…sometimes. It was a funny story that constantly had ups and downs and I think for a middle grade reader who understands the tongue in cheek nature it would be great. For any age it would be an entertaining read featuring price’s as we’ve never seen them before. I also loved the artwork that was included throughout the book, looking like pencil sketches on the page.

Happy reading!

Review | Unicorn Island by Donna Galanti

When Sam arrives in Foggy Harbor, South Carolina, all she can see is that it’s small, boring, and thousands of miles away from her mom. She dreads spending the summer there with her Uncle Mitch, and he’s not exactly happy to see her, either. But Sam quickly learns that there’s more to Foggy Harbor than she’d thought. With the help of a new friend, Tuck, she sets out to uncover the magical truth behind the town’s biggest mystery: the secret of Lost Luck.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

When I saw the description of this book I wanted to pick it up because mythical creatures are instantly a want-to-read for me. This book is definitely middle grade, but I would say on the younger end of middle grade. We follow Sam, who feels like she doesn’t have a place because she and her mom move around so much and just when she feels like they might be staying in one place – she finds out otherwise and has to go stay with her Uncle for the summer. What she expects to be a boring and unhappy summer quickly becomes something altogether different.

I really enjoyed this adventure and the illustrations throughout were beautiful and perfectly suited the events happening in the book. It’s a great set up for a series and it definitely put in place a number of things that could happen in the future. I also really enjoyed the fact that there’s a section at the end with information about some of the things mentioned in the book, so that young readers could further learn about them if they wanted to.

Happy reading!

Blog Tour | Playing With Fire by April Henry | Review

Playing with Fire
April Henry
Published by: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date: January 19th 2021
Genres: Thriller, Young Adult

When a fire cuts off a popular trail in the Oregon forest, a small group trapped by the flames must find another way out―or die―in Playing with Fire, an unrelenting teen-vs-nature YA thriller by New York Times bestselling author April Henry.

Natalia is not the kind of girl who takes risks. Six years ago, she barely survived the house fire that killed her baby brother. Now she is cautious and always plays it safe. For months, her co-worker Wyatt has begged her to come hiking with him, and Natalia finally agrees.

But when a wildfire breaks out, blocking the trail back, a perfect sunny day quickly morphs into a nightmare. With no cell service, few supplies, and no clear way out of the burning forest, a group of strangers will have to become allies if they’re going to survive. Hiking in the dark, they must reach the only way out―a foot bridge over a deep canyon―before the fire catches them.

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I was hoping that this book would be thrilling and keep me on my toes, and it sure did. It’s fast paced to the point of being frantic in some places, which perfectly suited the situation the characters were in. Definite trigger warnings if wildfires is something you have dealt with, or if you have a fear of fire – the way the story is told is very real and true to what people may experience in some cases. Going along this survival story with these people is anxiety inducing as they run into obstacle after obstacle, which made it a harrowing read, but also made it fly by. If you’re looking for something that will keep your pulse racing until the end, check this one out.

Author Bio:

April Henry is the New York Times–bestselling author of many acclaimed mysteries for adults and young adults, including the YA novels The Girl in the White Van; Girl, Stolen; The Night She Disappeared; The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die; The Girl I Used to Be, which was nominated for an Edgar Award and won the Anthony Award for Best YA Mystery; Count All Her Bones; The Lonely Dead; Run, Hide, Fight Back; and The Body in the Woods and Blood Will Tell, the first two books in the Point Last Seen series. She lives in Oregon.

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Review | Nightschool Vol 2 by Svetlana Chmakova

When Alex’s sister, Sarah, vanishes and all memory and evidence of her existence is erased, Alex is determined to get to the bottom of her sister’s disappearance. What better place to start her investigations than the Nightschool itself? But when she discovers that sneaking into the Nightschool isn’t as simple as it might seem, Alex enrolls as a student. But is she prepared for what she might find?

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I really felt like this volume was definitely a bridge volume as it was building more of a foundation for certain situations. There’s definitely tension building between the different groups and we are starting to see how things tie together. I definitely felt like it’s setting up the next volume really well and left some things on a cliffhanger, but also felt like I was left with a lot more questions than answers. Still, it was a super fast read and I can’t wait to happen in the next couple volumes and find out how some things get resolved.

Happy reading!

Review | The Little Witch by M. Rickert

A strange dark fantasy about an elderly woman visited every Halloween by a trick or treating child dressed as a witch. Over time, they development a tenuous relationship.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

What drew me to this short story initially was the cover. I immediately loved the imagery and the fall feel of it, and this feeling translated into the story itself. One thing I really enjoyed was the way each season and the passing of it was described as we followed the main character through those seasons. I just found myself wishing for a little more detail about the world and the rules of it a bit more, like I wanted just a little more world building. It did serve as a good vignette into this world, but it was a little too spare on certain aspects so it did leave me wanting more explanations.

Still it was an enjoyable read and I did really like the writing style. It’s a great short bite for a fall story with a slightly creepy tone.

Happy reading!

Review | For a Rose That Blooms in Fire By Isabel Rocio

“For A Rose That Blooms In Fire” is a collection of poetry that explores the reality of abusive relationships, and one’s infinite capacity for healing. The collection shatters the rose-colored glasses society tends to unconsciously associate with “chaotic romance”, and paints a clearer view into the power of self-reclamation.

Through a graceful balancing act between the darkness and the light that comes with healing, Isabel invites you to take the first step towards the most important relationship you will ever know-the one you have with yourself.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I had to sit with my thoughts on this one for a bit before writing up my review, because this is the type of modern poetry I enjoy and I wanted to be able to articulate what I was really feeling and thinking after reading this.

This collection is not for the faint of heart and is going to mean different things depending on what you’ve experienced in your life, but it’s raw and full of imagery that is powerful. The sequence of the poems themselves is definitely a progression from experiencing abuse (among other things) and then getting out of that situation and discovering yourself/rising above it as life goes on.

I definitely recommend reading the foreword from the author as that contains more information and clarification on their experience. There are definite trigger warnings for abuse, gaslighting, rape, depression and more, so if those are triggering for you be aware and exercise self care when approaching this read. As a survivor of an abusive relationship myself there were parts of it that were hard and too real to my own experience, but also it proved to be soothing since it felt like someone else understood some of the things I experienced myself, which in and of itself can be therapeutic and freeing.

Thanks to Isabel for sending me a copy of her book so that I could check it out!

Happy reading!

Review | Nightschool Vol. 1 by Svetlana Chmakova

Schools may lock up for the night, but class is in session for an entirely different set of students. In the Nightschool, vampires, werewolves, and weirns (a particular breed of witches) learn the fundamentals of everything from calculus to spell casting. Alex is a young weirn whose education has always been handled through homeschooling, but circumstances seem to be drawing her closer to the Nightschool. Will Alex manage to weather the dark forces gathering? 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Since I got to read the spin off of this series I wanted to go back and read the original series and I was not disappointed in this first volume. I really enjoyed the manga style art, which of course made the story race right by. After reading the first volume I’m still somewhat learning who certain characters are, but they are being revealed bit by bit as the story progresses. I immediately was sucked into the world and can’t wait to learn more about the characters and the little snippets of mystery we were allowed to see in this first volume.

If you have kindle unlimited this series is currently available on it – happy reading!