Review: Wicked Saints

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Title: Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy #1)
Author: Emily A. Duncan

Blurb:

A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings.

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy.

Review:

It takes a lot for me to want to pick up a book that plainly tells me it’s the start of a series. Normally the first hint of that is enough to have me walk away, but something about this one pulled me in and wouldn’t let go until I finally read it. Well, to my frustrated delight I finished reading it and it still won’t let me go. This book was a ride from start to finish, and definitely didn’t disappoint. I’ve picked up books before that start a series, finish the book, and then never go forward with the rest of them. I can comfortably say that, although this book tells a complete, satisfying story, I am chomping at the bit for book two.

Nadya is a very relatable protagonist – determined, strong, and willing to trust herself despite having the gods in her ear all the time. She’s the opposite of a reluctant hero, fully ready and willing to embrace her destiny and put her amazing abilities to good use. During the story, I much preferred her point of view to Serefin’s, and found myself rushing through his chapters to get to hers. However, as we delved deeper into the story, Serefin grew on me, too, and I found that by the end I was most excited to see where the next book will take him, more so than Nadya. For those who have seen Avatar: The Last Airbender, Serefin really reminded me of Zuko – an awkward prince with a complicated relationship with his father just doing his best at stumbling through life. He was endearing, and that wasn’t what I expected after the first time he’s introduced.

And then there’s Malachiasz (whose name I cannot come close to pronouncing). What can I say about the tragic monster boy? It’s his relationship with Nadya that really pulled me into the book at first, as I’m a sucker for a good girl/bad boy romance. Their relationship really ripped my heart out toward the end of the book and that’s not an easy thing to do. It’s a testament to the writer’s ability to flesh out these characters that the book left me reeling and feeling for each and every one of them.

And that’s just the characters. The lore and world explored in this book is intricate and completely different than anything I’ve ever read. I usually don’t pick up things I consider high fantasy – Tolkien, Martin, etc – because of how bogged down in world-building those can get. A lot of the time you find yourself lost in exposition, trying to keep track of complicated histories. But it never felt like that with this one. The writer trusted us as readers and weaved the world’s history and lore fairly seamlessly, without ever getting tied up in exposition. Sure, sometimes I was confused by what was going on, but that felt entirely intentional, as it was the same confusion felt by Nadya and Serefin, and not a byproduct of the writing.

All in all a really enjoyable read that left an ache as I thought about the characters. Everyone once in a while I catch myself thinking about it, even a week later. At the end of the year I’m going to make a list of the best books I read, and this one will most definitely hold a spot. An awesome debut, and I can’t wait until book two!

Rating: 5/5

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#ThursThreads – Too Honest

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Prompt: “Why are you telling me this?”


Death grows impatient, pacing back and forth in the shadows as we wait for the last of the sunlight to die out.

“You’re going to burn a path into the grass if you don’t stop.” I stretch, sore from sitting in this tree. But it’s a good hiding spot, in the security camera’s blind spot and with a clear view of the visitor center’s back entrance.

He looks at the ground, where there isn’t so much as a hint of his presence. After all, Death can’t quite affect the world around him here. Otherwise he wouldn’t need me. When he looks back up, he glares.

“Made you look.” I stifle a chuckle. “For an immortal being, you have no patience, do you?”

“For a mortal one, you’re much too comfortable with me.” There’s a gravity to his voice any other mortal would tremble at.

Before I can respond, the back door opens – the security guard I’d seen smoking the day before out for another cigarette. He props the door open with a rock and walks a few feet away. Ten seconds later he’s out cold and we’re inside. The door shuts with a soft click.

“I never told you my name.”

“You were just complaining-”

“Arius.” He says it like it’s a shameful secret he hadn’t meant to share. “Haven’t given someone my name in eons.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

He seems as confused as I am, but then the expression clears. Arius shrugs and walks past me.


Still haven’t quite figured these two out, but we’re getting there.

As always, think happy thoughts!

#100WordChallenge – Denial

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Prompt: Denial


It’s pointless to deny that I’m enjoying this little adventure, but I refuse to let Death see that. I won’t give him the satisfaction. He tricked me, and whether I’m enjoying it or not is a moot point. I don’t appreciate being taken advantage of, and though I can’t do anything about it, it’s some comfort to know my petulance grates on him.

“Any ideas?”

“No.” Arms crossed, I can’t help a small smile. “Shouldn’t you just, I don’t know, tell me what to do?”

“It doesn’t work like that.” His frustration tastes like cafe con leche – light and sweet.


I don’t know where this piece came from, honestly. I also still don’t have a name for this character. But it’s a good distraction from what I should be working on, so here we are.

As always, think happy thoughts!

Review: Her Silhouette, Drawn in Water

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Title: Her Silhouette, Drawn in Water
Author: Vylar Kaftan

Blurb:

All Bee has ever known is darkness.

She doesn’t remember the crime she committed that landed her in the cold, twisting caverns of the prison planet Colel-Cab with only fellow prisoner Chela for company. Chela says that they’re telepaths and mass-murderers; that they belong here, too dangerous to ever be free. Bee has no reason to doubt her—until she hears the voice of another telepath, one who has answers, and can open her eyes to an entirely different truth.

Review:

This was a pretty quick read, and it definitely left me wondering and wanting more.

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I started reading this one. Based on the blurb, I thought I was in for a space-opera type story, maybe some heisting, action-packed adventure. Instead, I got a uniquely introspective piece, where the main character learns that she has to save herself before she can help the people she cares about.

It’s hard to write a review for this one without giving away too many spoilers, so I’m going to keep it vague. Bee is a supremely likable character, and you can’t help but root for her the entire way even though you’re told she a horrible criminal from the start. Not to mention it’s not every day you get a Latina main character in sci-fi, so I was giddy every time she spoke Spanish. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that her love interest was a woman – just in time for pride month! Though this was a relatively short story, no part of the world felt underdeveloped or rushed. Every bit of the mythos felt real in a casual way – the writer didn’t have to go on long exposition-filled tangents to fill the reader in. World-building was seamlessly worked into the events of the story, and that’s what made this such an enjoyable read.

Not to get on a soapbox, but this story also did a great job of incorporating a diverse main character without it feeling preachy or in your face about it. So many times writers try to do that in a way that feels forced, but that’s not the case here. Bee seems like she could have come from my family, and that made her supremely relatable. And that brings me to the reason I docked the star – though her internal conflict was resolved by the end, I wanted more resolution to the bigger problem. Or a hint that maybe there’s another book in the works for it. The ending left me feeling a bit unsatisfied. Even an ending that doesn’t resolve everything in a neat bow can still be satisfying, and that just didn’t happen for me here. I want to see more of this character and this world. Here’s hoping for a sequel!

Rating: 4/5

#ThursThreads – No Fun

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Prompt: “That’d be no fun.”


“So you need me to get this book for you?” It sounds too easy. So easy, in fact, he should be able to do it himself. “And you can’t do it yourself because…?”

“What part of ‘it’s protected from me’ don’t you get?” Death crosses his arms, looking at me like I’m an idiot.

“The part where I’m supposed to wrap my head around a book that keeps people alive. Obviously.” I lean back on the bench, watching as people file in and out of the building across the street.

“It’s pretty simple. I have lots of books – each one covering a different place. Keeping track of the histories that come and go. The one that corresponds to this place is in that building – warded against me – and without it, I can’t keep track of the histories. Can’t move these people’s lives forward, toward their inevitable end.”

“So it’s like a book you’re writing?”

“Sort of.”

“So none of these people can die?”

“Correct.”

“Including me? Because I’m here?”

“Yes.”

“Is that so bad?” The thought is a bit thrilling, and though we have an understanding, I have half a mind to just not comply.

“There are worse things than death.” There’s an edge to his voice. “Imagine the world dying around this town, all of you trapped, unable to leave because of that book. That’d be no fun, would it?”

“You never intended to let me go, did you?” Of course I’d be trapped here. Of course.

He shrugs.


Be sure to check out the rest of the responses at the prompt!

As always, think happy thoughts 🙂

Review: Westside

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Title: Westside
Author: W.M. Akers

Blurb:

New York is dying, and the one woman who can save it has smaller things on her mind.

It’s 1921, and a thirteen-mile fence running the length of Broadway splits the island of Manhattan, separating the prosperous Eastside from the Westside—an overgrown wasteland whose hostility to modern technology gives it the flavor of old New York. Thousands have disappeared here, and the respectable have fled, leaving behind the killers, thieves, poets, painters, drunks, and those too poor or desperate to leave.

It is a hellish landscape, and Gilda Carr proudly calls it home.

Slightly built, but with a will of iron, Gilda follows in the footsteps of her late father, a police detective turned private eye. Unlike that larger-than-life man, Gilda solves tiny mysteries: the impossible puzzles that keep us awake at night; the small riddles that destroy us; the questions that spoil marriages, ruin friendships, and curdle joy. Those tiny cases distract her from her grief, and the one impossible question she knows she can’t answer: “How did my father die?”

Yet on Gilda’s Westside, tiny mysteries end in blood—even the case of a missing white leather glove. Mrs. Copeland, a well-to-do Eastside housewife, hires Gilda to find it before her irascible merchant husband learns it is gone. When Gilda witnesses Mr. Copeland’s murder at a Westside pier, she finds herself sinking into a mire of bootlegging, smuggling, corruption—and an evil too dark to face.

All she wants is to find one dainty ladies’ glove. She doesn’t want to know why this merchant was on the wrong side of town—or why he was murdered in cold blood. But as she begins to see the connection between his murder, her father’s death, and the darkness plaguing the Westside, she faces the hard truth: she must save her city or die with it.

Review:

Yet another impulse buy that I definitely don’t regret. I have a hard time finding standalone books to read, so when I do find one that isn’t part of a series, I get really excited. There’s something hugely satisfying about sitting down to read a book with a story that I know will be completely over by the end. That being said, this book left me wanting sequels despite the finality of its ending.

Westside follows an intriguing heroine named Gilda, who has followed in her father’s footsteps as an investigator. Unlike her father, though, she deals strictly in small mysteries. Missing trinkets, unidentifiable tunes stuck in heads, etc. Unfortunately, her latest tiny mystery leads her into the biggest mystery even her father couldn’t resolve. Gilda is a heroine who struggles with her motivations, her actions, and the life she’s living in the wake of tragedy. She’s a badass without trying too hard to be one, with a sharp wit and lightheartedness I wasn’t expecting. She’s earned a spot among my favorite leading ladies of fiction.

This was a really awesome read, and I have to say it’s been a long time since I’ve read a book that caught me off-guard so many times, and kept me on the edge of my seat. The action is fast-paced but never rushed, and made it really hard to want to put the book down. It felt like I was right in the middle of it all, until the setting itself became its own character. Everything was so vivid and visceral, it felt like this version of New York really could have existed at some point. Even the paranormal aspects felt real. Everything is wrapped in such mystery that the vagueness and lack of overly drawn-out explanations for the paranormal makes it feel that much more plausible, if that makes sense.

And that’s just the book’s setting. Every character, no matter how brief their mention or encounters with Gilda, felt fleshed out and real. The world of this book hooked me in and won’t let go. Hence, my desire for more stories about Gilda and her city.

Here’s hoping this isn’t the last we see of this universe!

Rating: 5/5

Review: Daughters of the Lake

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Title: Daughters of the Lake
Author: Wendy Webb

Blurb:

After the end of her marriage, Kate Granger has retreated to her parents’ home on Lake Superior to pull herself together—only to discover the body of a murdered woman washed into the shallows. Tucked in the folds of the woman’s curiously vintage gown is an infant, as cold and at peace as its mother. No one can identify the woman. Except for Kate. She’s seen her before. In her dreams…

One hundred years ago, a love story ended in tragedy, its mysteries left unsolved. It’s time for the lake to give up its secrets. As each mystery unravels, it pulls Kate deeper into the eddy of a haunting folktale that has been handed down in whispers over generations. Now, it’s Kate’s turn to listen.

As the drowned woman reaches out from the grave, Kate reaches back. They must come together, if only in dreams, to right the sinister wrongs of the past.

Review:

This book was pretty interesting! I picked it up on a whim one day browsing through the Kindle store, and I have to say I don’t regret it.

I love a good ghost story, and one of my favorite movie genres are the kind where there’s a ghostly mystery happening side by side with the protagonist’s life, and it’s left to the viewer and the MC to figure out how everything connects. That’s exactly how this story goes. The reader follows Kate in modern times and Addie in the past after Addie’s body washes up on the shore outside Kate’s home. Both stories are told so vividly, it feels like I’m watching a movie instead of reading.

One of my favorite aspects on the book is how the author weaves the setting. It’s almost like the settings is a character on its own, along with the lake that’s so dearly loved by Addie. The magic and supernatural aspects on the story are woven so deeply into the setting that it seems like this could really be happening somewhere in a lake town.

It was a quick read, too, and difficult to put down. Even after I figured out the mystery, I didn’t lose steam and wanted to keep going. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for more of Wendy Webb’s work.

Rating: 4/5