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Review: Dirty Blood by Heather Hildenbrand

dirtyIt is funny to consider an urban fantasy to be “charming” but that is just what Dirty Blood is – blood, guts, gore, murder and all. Without looking up how it is placed on the genre ladder, I would say that this qualifies as young adult, or new adult, but I found it extremely readable as an adult urban fantasy novel as well. Tara is 17-years-old, but she seems more mature, while still throwing the occasional temper tantrum. Of course, if I were her, I would have thrown a fit and fallen down in it at the way she is treated by those around her.

You see, Tara thinks that she is just a normal girl, with a normal boyfriend she has been friends with most of her life. Well, until he turned into the football obsessed moron who ditches their dates for recruiters, agents and interviews. But nevertheless, normal school, normal activities, normal life. That is, until a girl turns into a wolf right in front of her and proceeds to try her best to rip Tara’s throat out. From that point on, you can toss ‘normal’ straight out the window and go for spectacularly weird all the way around. For Tara is a Hunter, from a long line of Hunters. Genetic killers, born to kill werewolves.

As Tara’s life becomes more and more surreal, she begins to realize that her whole life has been a lie, and that she has been left open to the perils of her blooming talents and the scent of Hunter that the wolves can sense, with no training to help her survive. While her mother may have been ‘protecting’ her, she has also left her open to attack with no defense.

This is a very fast paced read. Tara is thrown into the metaphorical deep end of the pool, left to struggle to learn to fight and kill with the help of member of “The Cause” a group of Hunters and Werewolves who are trying to stop the fighting between the breeds – to create peace from the ashes of war. It is a lot for a 17-year-old to take in – especially when her mother is determined to bury her head in the sand and pretend that Tara can simply spend her life on the run, hiding from those who would kill her. Or would use her for their own ends. For Tara is something more than a Hunter, and what she is puts her at odds with both sides.

There is a love interest in the story, and it is incredibly well done. Her new boyfriend, Wes, is very special himself, a “Dirty Blood,” a hybrid of Wolf and Hunter, an abomination to those who would keep the war going to appease their own hatreds and superstitions. With a small group of friends around them, Wes and Tara have a hard job ahead of them, Tara’s harder than anyone’s as she tries to overcome the ‘protection’ of those around her which actually does more harm than good.

Overall, I would recommend this for any UF fan, male or female. I don’t normally care for YA and all the attendant ‘sturm und drang’ but this is not your typical YA. Tara is a great hero – she is strong and brave while still showing her lack of training and the shock and fear that such a tremendous change to her life, along with her fear for the safety of those she loves engenders. Of course, my favorite part of the book is during “the” big battle scene (there are several in the book) when her grandmother walks into a building full of warring Wolves and Hunters and commences to staking Wolves as if she is picking daisies. Awesome.

I received this book from the publisher in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own. The next book in the series is Cold Blood. Tara has been shipped off to Hunter Boarding School, where she will be safe and cozy and well-trained. Well, the well-trained thing might happen. The rest of it? Well, that is highly doubtful….

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The Stop Gardner Campaign

 Yet another clueless Penis getting involved in women’s health – without a CLUE as to the amount of damage he is doing. If you are a “Pro-lifer” I advise you to wake up, get a clue and research the damage you are doing to humanity as a whole. Where is your “Moral Stand” when women are being beaten and raped, tortured and murdered? Where your moralistic outrage when unwanted children are beaten, tortured, and murdered? Where is your kindness, your outrage, when the victims of incest are forced to carry to term the twisted get of their terror? Gardner, and his ilk, are twisted, misogynistic monsters who should NEVER be allowed access to any ability to make things even worse for victims. This sort of hatred and viciousness, this power to destroy the lives of victims, should NOT be allowed to stand! If you have any compassion in your soul, I hope you can be counted on to help fight this honorific person and his evil hatred of the victims of crimes. Believe me – I was an unwanted child – and the torture and viciousness I went through was nothing compared to the brutalized bodies, the broken souls, that I dealt with as a police officer and then as a victim counselor. What these sorts of people are doing isn’t kind or good, ethical or moral by any means. It is the work of cruel, vicious people who use a twisted “moral” play to exercise their power and cruelty to punish victims and contribute the the number of tortured souls littering this country. It is an outrage, and a blight on the face of humanity. These are the sorts of people that are so common in the Middle East – people who find it perfectly acceptable to murder the women in their families because they were raped by vicious attackers through no fault of their own. The same type of twisted morality that will blame the woman victim, while applauding the “manliness” of the attacker.  Moral, emotional and physical sadism in what we purport to be the “Greatest Free Country In The World.” Really? I suppose if you sport a penis you might say so . . .

CHECK THE RESEARCH:

GARDNER: ABORTION SHOULD BE ILLEGAL IN ALL INSTANCES

Gardner Opposed Abortion In All Instances. “Markey, the Democratic incumbent from Fort Collins, supports a woman’s right to make decisions on abortion; Gardner says abortion should be illegal in all instances. ‘I’ve been very up-front on it; I am pro-life,’ Gardner, a state representative from Yuma, said in an interview with the Coloradoan. When asked if he would allow exceptions for victims of rape or incest, or when the mother’s life is in danger, Gardner said, ‘I’m pro-life, and I believe abortion is wrong.’” [Fort Collins Coloradoan, 9/26/10]

Gardner Said He Was Willing To Sponsor Legislation To Ban Abortion: “Yes, And I Have The Legislative Background To Back It Up.” “Four Republican candidates seeking the Republican congressional nomination shared a stage for the first time at a Nov. 13, 2009, forum organized by Northern Colorado tea party and 9-12 groups. They were asked, ‘Do you believe that abortion is the killing of an unborn child, and if yes, are you willing to carry legislation to end the practice?’ All four candidates – Gardner, Diggs Brown, Dean Madere and Tom Lucero – answered yes, with Gardner giving the most succinct answer. ‘Yes, and I have the legislative background to back it up,’ he said to applause.” [Fort Collins Coloradoan, 10/3/10]

GARDNER CO-SPONSORED BILL TO BAN ABORTION IN CASES OF RAPE AND INCEST

2007: Gardner Co-Sponsored Senate Bill 143 Which Would “Make Abortion A Felony Even In Cases Or Rape Or Incest.” “At the heart of the ad is Gardner’s sponsorship of a 2007 proposal to make abortion a felony even in cases of rape or incest. When he was a state lawmaker, Gardner signed onto Senate Bill 143 as a co-sponsor — he did not carry the bill himself, his campaign points out.” [KDVR, 4/22/14]

Gardner Cosponsored Bill To Make Abortion A Class 3 Felony. In 2007, Gardner sponsored SB 07-143 in the Colorado General Assembly which was an anti-abortion bill that would outlaw all abortions with the exception of cases that is “designed to protect the death of a pregnant mother, if the physician makes reasonable medical efforts under the circumstances to preserve both the life of the mother and the life of her unborn child in a manner consistent with conventional medical practice.” Per the legislative text, the bill would make it “a class 3 felony to perform an abortion.” [Colorado General Assembly, SB 07-143; Fort Collins Coloradoan, 10/3/10]

  • Senate Bill 143 Would Have Banned Abortion In Cases Of Rape And Incest, Doctors “Would Face A Class 3 Felony” And A Prison Term Of Up To 12 Years. “Senate Bill 143 proposed to ban all abortions in Colorado, except when the life of the pregnant woman is at risk. This would include banning abortions to women who have been victims of rape and/or incest. Any doctors who performed abortions outside of these lines would face a third degree felony that could carry a prison term up to 12 years.” [CU Independent, 2/14/07]
  • Life News: Senate Bill 143 “Would Have Banned Most Abortions, Except In Very Rare Cases To Save The Life Of The Mother.” According to Life News, an anti-choice news outlet, “Colorado legislators voted on Monday to kill a bill that would have offered legal protection to unborn children who are victims of abortion. The measure, modeled after the abortion ban the South Dakota state legislature approved last year, would have banned most abortions, except in very rare cases to save the life of the mother.” [Life News, 2/12/07]
  • Headline & Subheadline: “Senate Bill Seeks To Ban Abortion In Colorado. Senate Bill 143 Heads To Committee” [The Denver Channel, 2/11/07]
  • “Senate Bill 143 Seeks To Ban All Abortions In Colorado With The Exception Of Situations When The Life Of The Mother Is In Jeopardy.” “An abortion bill that has created fierce debate among lawmakers and citizens will be taken up by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday. Senate bill 143 seeks to ban all abortions in Colorado with the exception of situations when the life of the mother is in jeopardy.” [7News Denver, 2/11/07]

9News Truth Test: “True” That Gardner Sponsored A Bill To Make Abortion A Felony. “CLAIM: ‘Gardner sponsored a bill to make abortion a felony.’ VERDICT: True. In 2007, as a member of the state House of Representatives, Gardner was listed as a sponsor of SB-147. The bill would have made it ‘a class 3 felony to perform an abortion,’ so the felony charge would have applied to abortion providers, not women who underwent abortions.” [Truth Test, 9News, 4/23/14]

9News Truth Test: “True” Gardner Supported A Bill Making Abortion A Felony In Cases Of Rape And Incest. “CLAIM: The bill Gardner supported would make abortion a felony in ‘cases of rape and incest.’ VERDICT: True. SB-147 did contain an exception to save the life of the mother. Aside from that, the bill would have outlawed abortion with no other exceptions.” [Truth Test, 9News, 4/23/14]

GARDNER SUPPORTED FEDERAL AND COLORADO STATE PERSONHOOD MEASURES WHICH WOULD EFFECTIVELY OUTLAW ALL ABORTIONS – EVEN IN CASES OF RAPE AND INCEST

Gardner Supported 2010 Personhood Amendment In Colorado. “Gardner announced at a 2010 congressional debate that he had collected signatures to put a personhood amendment on the ballot. Amendment 62 failed 71 percent to 29 percent, with 1.28 million voters opposed and nearly 475,000 in support of it.” [Denver Post, 3/24/14]

July 2013: Gardner Cosponsored The Life At Conception Act. [HR 1091, co-sponsored 7/23/13]

  • “Gardner Co-Sponsored A Bill In Congress As Recently As Last Year To Give Personhood Status To Fertilized Eggs.” [Associated Press, 3/25/14]

March 2012: Gardner Cosponsored Life At Conception Act. [HR 374, co-sponsored3/20/12]

Gardner Continued Supporting Personhood As A Cosponsor Of National Personhood, Even After Saying He Flipped On Personhood In Colorado. “The second-term Congressman, who represents Colorado’s rural and conservative Fourth District, famously reversed his longtime support for the anti-abortion personhood movement in March, a month after announcing he was running for Senate. Gardner was criticized as a flip-flopper. But he hadn’t performed even a full flip. He shuffle-stepped before he left the ground and tried to have it both ways. He said he didn’t support personhood… in Colorado. He made it known to his pro-life supporters that he was still an anti-abortion lawmaker. And he continues to support as a cosponsor a national personhood bill, the so-called Life at Conception Act.” [Colorado Independent, 7/2/14]

Personhood Measures “Would Effectively Outlaw Abortions” And “Many Forms Of Contraception.” “The personhood measures would effectively outlaw abortions and, critics say, many forms of contraception. They have been overwhelmingly rejected at the polls in Colorado — the last one failed 70-30 — and have been used by Democrats to paint Republicans as extremists on social issues.” [Associated Press, 3/25/14]

Huffington Post: The Personhood Amendment Banned All Abortions, Even For Rape. According to the Huffington Post, “The personhood amendment, which would ban all abortion, even for rape, forces a discussion about when life begins and why–which can lead to religion–as we saw in the video of Rep. Cory Gardner saying he circulated personhood petitions in his church.” [Huffington Post, 3/10/14; Cory Gardner Shows Love For Personhood, Accessed 3/14/14]

2010 Colorado Personhood Amendment Would Ban Abortion In All Cases, Including Rape And Incest, In Addition To Potentially Criminalizing Doctors Who Terminated Ectopic Pregnancies And Banning Multiple Forms Of The Birth Control Pill. From a US News And World Report blog post by Democratic strategist Laura Chapin: “Like Buck, Gardner has been an enthusiastic supporter of the ballot measures that would give full legal rights to fertilized eggs in the Colorado Constitution, also known as ‘Personhood.’ This proposal would ban abortion in all cases, even for victims of rape and incest, potentially criminalize doctors who terminate life-threatening ectopic pregnancies, and ban many forms of birth control, including the IUD and some types of the Pill. There’s another Personhood measure on the ballot this year, even though the last one lost 70-30 in 2010.” [US News And World Report, Laura Chapin blog, 2/27/14]

Legislation That Defines A Fertilized Egg As A Human Being Would Ban All Abortions, Including Those Resulting From Rape And Incest, And Would Bar Common Forms Of Birth Control, Like The Moring After Pill. “A constitutional amendment facing voters in Mississippi on Nov. 8, and similar initiatives brewing in half a dozen other states including Florida and Ohio, would declare a fertilized human egg to be a legal person, effectively branding abortion and some forms of birth control as murder. […]The amendment in Mississippi would ban virtually all abortions, including those resulting from rape or incest. […] A similar measure has been defeated twice, by large margins, in Colorado.” [New York Times, 10/25/11]

GARDNER CO-SPONSORED LEGISLATION THAT WOULD HAVE REDEFINED RAPE AS “FORCIBLE RAPE”

2011: Gardner Was An Original Co-Sponsor Of A Bill To Prohibit Federal Funding For Abortion, Except In Cases Of “Forcible Rape,” Incest, Or Life Of The Mother. In January 2011, Gardner was an original co-sponsor of H.R. 3. According to the New York Times, “One bill, the ‘No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,’ would eliminate tax breaks for private employers who provide health coverage if their plans offer abortion services, and would forbid women who use a flexible spending plan to use pre-tax dollars for abortions. Those restrictions would go well beyond current law prohibiting the use of federal money for abortion services. The bill, sponsored by Representative Christopher H. Smith, Republican of New Jersey, has drawn fire over language that undercuts a longstanding exemption on the ban on using federal money for abortions in the case of rape or incest; the measure narrows the definition of rape to ‘forcible rape,’ a term that his office has never defined. Democratic lawmakers and others repeatedly hammered on the term, saying it suggested that victims of statutory rape and other crimes could not get abortions paid for with federal money. While Mr. Smith’s staff said last week that the term ‘forcible rape’ would be removed from the bill, the staff of Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, said that language remained intact as of Tuesday.” [H.R. 3, co-sponsored 1/20/11; New York Times, 2/8/11]

  • Gardner Joined Todd Akin As The Bill’s Original Co-Sponsor. According to an opinion piece by Democratic operative Laura Chapin, published in the Denver Post, “Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan — along with Akin, Gardner, Lamborn and Coffman — co-sponsored the original version of HR 3. They apparently had no objection to the ‘forcible rape’ language.” [Laura Chapin, Denver Post, 8/21/12]
  • The “No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act” Attempted To Narrow The Definition Of Rape To “Forcible Rape.” “Ryan also cosponsored the ‘No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act’ with Akin in 2011. The GOP tried to narrow the definition of rape as it related to abortions with the measure. Only in instances of ‘forcible rape,’ the bill specified, would a woman be eligible to have her abortion covered under insurance. The sentiment behind the notorious attempt to redefine rape was echoed in Akin’s comment on Sunday.” [Huffington Post, 8/19/12]
  • The Term “Forcible Rape” Was Used In The Original Bill And Eventually Dropped From The Measure. According to the Washington Post, “Responding to Democratic charges that he sought to narrow the definition of rape when he co-sponsored a House measure last year that used the term ‘forcible rape,’ presumptive GOP vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan said Monday that the phrase was ‘stock language’ and that he agreed with its eventual removal from the bill. […] The GOP-led House has passed several abortion funding-related measures this Congress, but the one that employed the term ‘forcible rape’ – H.R. 3, also known as the ‘No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act’ – has drawn renewed scrutiny in the wake of Missouri GOP Senate nominee Todd Akin’s remark that ‘legitimate rape’ rarely results in pregnancy. Both Akin and Ryan were co-sponsors of H.R. 3. A spokesman for Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), the bill’s main sponsor, told The Post last February that the term ‘forcible rape’ was eventually dropped from the measure because it had been ‘misconstrued’ by critics.” [Washington Post, 8/27/12]

FORCIBLE RAPE WOULD NOT INCLUDE STATUTORY RAPE OR RAPE OCCURRING BECAUSE VICTIM WAS DRUGGED

Changing Rape To “Forcible Rape” Could “Distinguish It From Other Kinds Of Sexual Assault That Are Typically Recognized As Rape, Including Statutory Rape And Attacks That Occur Because Of Drugs Or Verbal Threats.” “A Republican bill seeking to permanently cut off federal funding for abortions has angered women’s groups that say it alters the definition of rape, permitting coverage for the procedure only in cases in which the rape is considered ‘forcible.’ The bill, called the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act, would make permanent several provisions that have been law for years but require annual renewal by Congress. It is a top priority of Republican leaders who took control of the House after the November elections. The most well-known provision that would become permanent under the bill is the Hyde Amendment, which prevents some federally funded health-care programs from covering abortions. For years, it has allowed exemptions in cases of rape and incest, and when the life of the woman is threatened. Under the proposed language, however, rape becomes ‘forcible rape.’ Critics say the modifier could distinguish it from other kinds of sexual assault that are typically recognized as rape, including statutory rape and attacks that occur because of drugs or verbal threats.” [Washington Post, 2/1/11]

  • National Women’s Law Center Government Relations Director: “It Speaks To A Distinction Between Rape Where There Must Be Some Element Of Force In Order To Rise To The Standard, And Rape Where There Is Not.” From an article on H.R. 3: “A Republican bill seeking to permanently cut off federal funding for abortions has angered women’s groups that say it alters the definition of rape, permitting coverage for the procedure only in cases in which the rape is considered ‘forcible.’ […] ‘It speaks to a distinction between rape where there must be some element of force in order to rise to the standard, and rape where there is not,’ said Steph Sterling, director of government relations for the National Women’s Law Center. ‘The concern here is that it takes us back to a time where just saying no was not enough.’” [Washington Post, 2/1/11]

H.R. 3 Would Alter The Definition Of Rape To “Forcible Rape” Which “Would Rule Out Federal Assistance For Abortions In Many Rape Cases, Including Instances Of Statutory Rape, Many Of Which Are Non-Forcible.” “For years, federal laws restricting the use of government funds to pay for abortions have included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. (Another exemption covers pregnancies that could endanger the life of the woman.) But the ‘No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,’ a bill with 173 mostly Republican co-sponsors that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has dubbed a top priority in the new Congress, contains a provision that would rewrite the rules to limit drastically the definition of rape and incest in these cases. With this legislation, which was introduced last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to ‘forcible rape.’ This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape, many of which are non-forcible.” [Mother Jones, 1/28/11]

H.R. 3 Would Alter The Definition Of Rape To “Forcible Rape” Which Would Not Include “Rapes In Which The Woman Was Drugged Or Given Excessive Amounts Of Alcohol, Rapes Of Women With Limited Mental Capacity, And Many Date Rapes.” “With this legislation, which was introduced last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to ‘forcible rape.’ […] Other types of rapes that would no longer be covered by the exemption include rapes in which the woman was drugged or given excessive amounts of alcohol, rapes of women with limited mental capacity, and many date rapes. ‘There are a lot of aspects of rape that are not included,’ Levenson says.” [Mother Jones, 1/28/11]

Critics Of H.R. 3 Said “Forcible Rape” Legislation “Would Exclude Victims Of Statutory Rape Or Rapes Involving Drugs.” “The legislation — known as the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act — was first introduced on July 29, 2010 by New Jersey Congressman Chris Smith (R-4th Dist.). […] After the GOP took control of the House, Smith re-introduced the bill on Jan. 20, 2011. Again, at the time of introduction, Ryan and Akin became co-sponsors, and the legislation still contained the phrase ‘forcible rape.’ […] Yet that term ignited an outcry among various critics, who said the phrase would exclude victims of statutory rape or rapes involving drugs.” [Politifact, 8/22/12]

Giveaway! Kelsey Brown: Personal Assets (Texas Nights #1)

Problems In Paradise Cover - FinalGIVEAWAY!

About the Book

Problems in Paradise (Texas Nights #3)
by Kelsey Browning
Author of Texas Nights Series
Co-author of The Granny Series
Release: July 14, 2014
Genre: contemporary romance, romantic comedy
Format: ebook

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Book Summary:

Eden Durant hasn’t always been Eden Durant. She’s made a fresh start in Shelbyville, Texas, far from her mother’s notoriety. Running the Paradise Garden Café is as much excitement as Eden wants—or it was, until she meets Beck Childress. Although he’s the one man who could expose her past, she’s willing to open up enough to see if he might be her future.

Chief Deputy Childress is determined to get to know the real Eden, when he isn’t busy cleaning up after the sheriff and running in the election to replace him. When several men fall sick after eating in Eden’s café, he investigates even as her mysterious past raises both his suspicions and his protective instincts.

As their relationship heats up, so do the pressures of Beck’s campaign. When Eden’s secrets are revealed, jeopardizing his dream of becoming sheriff, he’ll need to choose: serve and protect the town he loves or the woman who makes it home.

Giveaway!
Kelsey is giving an ecopy of Personal Assets, book one in the series, to one commenter on this blog!  personalassets
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Praise for Texas Nights Series:

Problems in Paradise:

“Starring a sexy lawman and a woman with a scandalous secret, a deliciously fun read.” – Shannon Stacey, New York Times bestselling author

Personal Assets:

“A hot man, a headstrong woman, and sizzling chemistry set against a homey Texas backdrop—Browning’s contemporary debut has all the assets that count!”  -Ruthie Knox, USA Today bestselling author of Flirting with Disaster

 “Sinfully hot, sassy, and laugh-out-loud hilarious—everything a southern romance should be!” -Macy Beckett, author of the Sultry Springs series

 Review: Problems in Paradise: A Texas Nights Novel by Kelsey Browning

paradiseChristlike communications are expressions of affection and not anger, truth and not fabrication, compassion and not contention, respect and not ridicule, counsel and not criticism, correction and not condemnation. They are spoken with clarity and not with confusion. They may be tender or they may be tough, but they must always be tempered.-L. Lionel Kendrick

Hypocrisy is not a way of getting back to the moral high ground. Pretending you’re moral, saying your moral is not the same as acting morally. -Alan Dershowitz

I have a big problem when the sanctimonious, holier than thou congressmen and women go on national television for six hours and beat somebody up with a stick, and not because I’m ‘Ms. Manners.’ That’s not what bothers me. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. – Bernard Goldberg

First thing to know? Buy this book. Really. If you are into intensity, romance, suspense and intrigue, and enjoy a good mystery, all rolled into one, this is one to buy right away. And don’t just buy it and put it in your “TBR” pile. Read the darn thing, OK? Then write a review. I would love to hear what you think.

Now that that is out of the way, you get to listen to me rant like a crazy person. Yep. That’s me, you all know I can rant with the best of them. And here goes!

First, Kelsey Browning is one kick-ass Texas gal. Of course, I see that she is now living in Georgia. Smart girl. Second, she has Texans down pat with a capital Sanctimonious A’hole. Common wisdom is that fiction books should draw you in, allow you to identify with the characters and create a world-view you can identify with and remember long after you put the book down. In Problems in Paradise, Browning does that in spades. As I was reading the book, I suffered fury with the power of a thousand white-hot supernovas, and the rage of a bipolar bunny on speed . . . Let me at that (b)witch! I will gnaw through her ankles, nom nom nom!!!* Because, believe me, Browning has Texas women down to a science – and the science has more to do with quoting “Love your neighbor” while pouring arsenic in your sweet tea than being there for you. In this case, quite literally.

And yes, before you wonder, I did 10-years in Texas (does it sound like I was doing a prison sentence? Hum… yep, pretty much!) Honestly, the only characters I really cared for were Eden Durant, the main character, and her girlfriends, Allie, Roxanne and Ashton. All with their own difficult times in Shelbyville, Texas, these four ladies have backbone and spirit, and more guts than a Texas feedlot. However, the rest of the town? Uh, not so much. What we see is a town full of, from my experience, your “Typical Texan” – sanctimonious and vicious, hypocritical, gossip mongering and mealy mouthed ‘witches-with-a-capital-B” women and wanna-be-tough, vicious, sanctimonious, hypocritical grab-handy males who think with their little heads instead of the ones on their shoulders. Well, of course, there are probably more brain cells in their little heads than their big ones . . . hum. Will have to consider that possibility.

Anyway! Browning has done a brilliant character study into small-town Texas mentality. Though, I suppose any small town in any state would probably be up to the same kind of cruelties this town is up to, given the opportunity. However, in Texas they always do the sanctimony up right. People here didn’t lie, didn’t try to get ahead at the expense of others. Yeah, what bullshit. Yep, pretty much wraps it up for you with a pretty little bow.

Eden is fairly new to this small, Texas town, and for the last two years she has operated her own little natural, organic foods café, Paradise – her own little paradise after a miserable, awful, very-much-no-good previous life. Serving locally sourced, organic foods, with a rotating menu and the freshest selections possible, Eden is running in the black, running around in her overalls and mukluks with her hair in braids, keeping her head down and keeping to herself, trying desperately to recover from the horror story of her previous life. All is going well, until one night someone breaks into her beloved café. That instance starts a chain reaction – a chain reaction designed to destroy her life. Odd poisonings, break-ins, and a climate of bible-banging hypocrites doing everything they can do to make themselves feel better by extinguishing any joy she might gain from life drives Eden to close her beloved café. Then things only get worse as her past crashes down on her and we learn the full extent of the betrayals and the heartaches that she has suffered in the past – and that now are returning to not only hurt her, but to destroy her very sanity. As the old Chinese proverb says: May you live in interesting times. And poor Eden is in for more interesting times than she ever could have imagined.

It is hard for me to decide how many stars to give this book. Oh, part of me wants to give it five stars simply because it had me screaming and storming around the house, yelling at the walls and crying in my 16-year-old-Glenlivet. Memories are a beyotch, aren’t they? I didn’t just identify with Eden for what she is going through now, but also what she went through in the past. Families can be total nightmares – but Eden’s more than most. But then, to be fair, I have to pull down a single star, though I really don’t want to. You see – as much as I enjoyed despising the characters in this book with a white-hot passion, I also felt in a way that the characters were just a bit over the top – caricatures drawn with a bit too wide of a brush. Of course, not to say they weren’t realistic to my experience . . . why is it that old, married men find it acceptable to crawl all over young, beautiful women – but when their wives find out about it, it is the woman’s fault??? I know, I know, men think with their little heads, not their big ones. But shouldn’t they take the blame for being the douche bags they are? Urg! Drives. Me. Nuts. Actually, it makes me ashamed of my sex. But be that as it may, it is, indeed, realistic and there isn’t anything I can do about it but gripe and moan and pour more Glenlivet.

This is, of course, this is a book which is heavy on the romance, so there is a hero. Beck is the Chief Deputy of their little burg and the surrounding county. A brilliant burn-out from a 100-hour-week New York financial position, and with his own pain in his past, Beck has returned to his home town and his position as CD, and is actually a fairly interesting hero. Kind and compassionate, he wishes to do all he can to help and protect the citizens of his county. But even more, he wishes to know, and love, Eden. Sort of hard when Eden is a riddle wrapped in an innuendo, with a ‘Plexiglas cocoon around her.’ As things become more and more dangerous for the townspeople, and for Eden, he is working hard to find the culprit who is threatening Eden and poisoning the town. Not a bad hero, all-in-all, but at the same time, I have a very strong feeling that, though he may ‘love’ Eden, he doesn’t respect her or what she stands for, what is important in her life. Here is where my four stars now begins to teeter on the edge of three-and-a-half stars. Though he supports Eden in many ways, late in the book I begin to feel less positively about their relationship as Eden begins to slip into the dreaded ‘heroine gives up her identity for the love of a man’ trope. Not badly, not to the point where I wanted to throw my Nook across the room for a wholly different reason, but bothersome. But then, Voltaire, the Blue Tick Coonhound does go a long way to bucking up his image, so I guess that will keeping my rating from dropping further. Gotta love a good dog!

So. I’ve had my rant. Go ahead. Get the book. Do it. Then tell us what YOU think about it. Would love to hear!

* Thanks to Celia Kyle for the reference from Ball of Furry, Ridgeville Series #2

This book was provided to me by Carina Press and Harlequin Enterprises Limited in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

Publication Date: July 14, 2014.

About the Author:

kelseKelsey Browning writes sass kickin’ love stories full of hot heroes, saucy heroines and spicy romance. She’s also a co-founder of Romance University blog, one of Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers. Originally from a Texas town smaller than the ones she writes about, Kelsey has also lived in the Middle East and Los Angeles, proving she’s either adventurous or downright nuts. These days, she hangs out in northeast Georgia with Tech Guy, Smarty Boy, Bad Dog and Pharaoh, a Canine Companions for Independence puppy.

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Review: Problems in Paradise: A Texas Nights Novel by Kelsey Browning

paradiseChristlike communications are expressions of affection and not anger, truth and not fabrication, compassion and not contention, respect and not ridicule, counsel and not criticism, correction and not condemnation. They are spoken with clarity and not with confusion. They may be tender or they may be tough, but they must always be tempered.-L. Lionel Kendrick

Hypocrisy is not a way of getting back to the moral high ground. Pretending you’re moral, saying your moral is not the same as acting morally. -Alan Dershowitz

I have a big problem when the sanctimonious, holier than thou congressmen and women go on national television for six hours and beat somebody up with a stick, and not because I’m ‘Ms. Manners.’ That’s not what bothers me. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. – Bernard Goldberg

First thing to know? Buy this book. Really. If you are into intensity, romance, suspense and intrigue, and enjoy a good mystery, all rolled into one, this is one to buy right away. And don’t just buy it and put it in your “TBR” pile. Read the darn thing, OK? Then write a review. I would love to hear what you think.

Now that that is out of the way, you get to listen to me rant like a crazy person. Yep. That’s me, you all know I can rant with the best of them. And here goes!

First, Kelsey Browning is one kick-ass Texas gal. Of course, I see that she is now living in Georgia. Smart girl. Second, she has Texans down pat with a capital Sanctimonious A’hole. Common wisdom is that fiction books should draw you in, allow you to identify with the characters and create a world-view you can identify with and remember long after you put the book down. In Problems in Paradise, Browning does that in spades. As I was reading the book, I suffered fury with the power of a thousand white-hot supernovas, and the rage of a bipolar bunny on speed . . . Let me at that (b)witch! I will gnaw through her ankles, nom nom nom!!!* Because, believe me, Browning has Texas women down to a science – and the science has more to do with quoting “Love your neighbor” while pouring arsenic in your sweet tea than being there for you. In this case, quite literally.

And yes, before you wonder, I did 10-years in Texas (does it sound like I was doing a prison sentence? Hum… yep, pretty much!) Honestly, the only characters I really cared for were Eden Durant, the main character, and her girlfriends, Allie, Roxanne and Ashton. All with their own difficult times in Shelbyville, Texas, these four ladies have backbone and spirit, and more guts than a Texas feedlot. However, the rest of the town? Uh, not so much. What we see is a town full of, from my experience, your “Typical Texan” – sanctimonious and vicious, hypocritical, gossip mongering and mealy mouthed ‘witches-with-a-capital-B” women and wanna-be-tough, vicious, sanctimonious, hypocritical grab-handy males who think with their little heads instead of the ones on their shoulders. Well, of course, there are probably more brain cells in their little heads than their big ones . . . hum. Will have to consider that possibility.

Anyway! Browning has done a brilliant character study into small-town Texas mentality. Though, I suppose any small town in any state would probably be up to the same kind of cruelties this town is up to, given the opportunity. However, in Texas they always do the sanctimony up right. People here didn’t lie, didn’t try to get ahead at the expense of others. Yeah, what bullshit. Yep, pretty much wraps it up for you with a pretty little bow.

Eden is fairly new to this small, Texas town, and for the last two years she has operated her own little natural, organic foods café, Paradise – her own little paradise after a miserable, awful, very-much-no-good previous life. Serving locally sourced, organic foods, with a rotating menu and the freshest selections possible, Eden is running in the black, running around in her overalls and mukluks with her hair in braids, keeping her head down and keeping to herself, trying desperately to recover from the horror story of her previous life. All is going well, until one night someone breaks into her beloved café. That instance starts a chain reaction – a chain reaction designed to destroy her life. Odd poisonings, break-ins, and a climate of bible-banging hypocrites doing everything they can do to make themselves feel better by extinguishing any joy she might gain from life drives Eden to close her beloved café. Then things only get worse as her past crashes down on her and we learn the full extent of the betrayals and the heartaches that she has suffered in the past – and that now are returning to not only hurt her, but to destroy her very sanity. As the old Chinese proverb says: May you live in interesting times. And poor Eden is in for more interesting times than she ever could have imagined.

It is hard for me to decide how many stars to give this book. Oh, part of me wants to give it five stars simply because it had me screaming and storming around the house, yelling at the walls and crying in my 16-year-old-Glenlivet. Memories are a beyotch, aren’t they? I didn’t just identify with Eden for what she is going through now, but also what she went through in the past. Families can be total nightmares – but Eden’s more than most. But then, to be fair, I have to pull down a single star, though I really don’t want to. You see – as much as I enjoyed despising the characters in this book with a white-hot passion, I also felt in a way that the characters were just a bit over the top – caricatures drawn with a bit too wide of a brush. Of course, not to say they weren’t realistic to my experience . . . why is it that old, married men find it acceptable to crawl all over young, beautiful women – but when their wives find out about it, it is the woman’s fault??? I know, I know, men think with their little heads, not their big ones. But shouldn’t they take the blame for being the douche bags they are? Urg! Drives. Me. Nuts. Actually, it makes me ashamed of my sex. But be that as it may, it is, indeed, realistic and there isn’t anything I can do about it but gripe and moan and pour more Glenlivet.

This is, of course, this is a book which is heavy on the romance, so there is a hero. Beck is the Chief Deputy of their little burg and the surrounding county. A brilliant burn-out from a 100-hour-week New York financial position, and with his own pain in his past, Beck has returned to his home town and his position as CD, and is actually a fairly interesting hero. Kind and compassionate, he wishes to do all he can to help and protect the citizens of his county. But even more, he wishes to know, and love, Eden. Sort of hard when Eden is a riddle wrapped in an innuendo, with a ‘Plexiglas cocoon around her.’ As things become more and more dangerous for the townspeople, and for Eden, he is working hard to find the culprit who is threatening Eden and poisoning the town. Not a bad hero, all-in-all, but at the same time, I have a very strong feeling that, though he may ‘love’ Eden, he doesn’t respect her or what she stands for, what is important in her life. Here is where my four stars now begins to teeter on the edge of three-and-a-half stars. Though he supports Eden in many ways, late in the book I begin to feel less positively about their relationship as Eden begins to slip into the dreaded ‘heroine gives up her identity for the love of a man’ trope. Not badly, not to the point where I wanted to throw my Nook across the room for a wholly different reason, but bothersome. But then, Voltaire, the Blue Tick Coonhound does go a long way to bucking up his image, so I guess that will keeping my rating from dropping further. Gotta love a good dog!

So. I’ve had my rant. Go ahead. Get the book. Do it. Then tell us what YOU think about it. Would love to hear!

* Thanks to Celia Kyle for the reference from Ball of Furry, Ridgeville Series #2

This book was provided to me by Carina Press and Harlequin Enterprises Limited in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

Publication Date: July 14, 2014.

About the Author:

kelseKelsey Browning writes sass kickin’ love stories full of hot heroes, saucy heroines and spicy romance. She’s also a co-founder of Romance University blog, one of Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers. Originally from a Texas town smaller than the ones she writes about, Kelsey has also lived in the Middle East and Los Angeles, proving she’s either adventurous or downright nuts. These days, she hangs out in northeast Georgia with Tech Guy, Smarty Boy, Bad Dog and Pharaoh, a Canine Companions for Independence puppy.

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The Effervescence of Truth Is Out! Ivee Olivares Third Sonnclere Mystery

front cover
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Blurb:

A truth drug … A secret uncovered … A desire for revenge …

Who do we trust? Our loved ones, our friends, strangers? In a world where the truth is not always straightforward, scientists have tried time and again to engineer a drug that would compel people to reveal all. But is it always a good idea?

Scientist and Police Consultant Dr Neroli Sonnclere is pulled into the middle of a great discovery—of a powerful new truth drug. It seems everyone sees the advantages in using it, but not always for the right reasons. Neroli soon realises that those close to her have hidden agendas. She learns that even the least likely of people have secrets, and that it’s incredibly easy to lie. And more importantly, that everyone, including her, is capable of betraying those we love.

The third installment of the Sonnclere Mystery Series, The Effervescence of Truth continues the adventures of a young female scientist with a unique gift. Born with hyperosmia, or a heightened sense of smell, Dr Sonnclere possesses the ability to sniff out odours undetected by ordinary humans. Together with Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Adam McClellan, Neroli recognises that others want to use the truth for their twisted plans. She uses her powerful nose and scientific knowledge to defend herself and keep the drug from falling into the wrong hands. The story uncovers intrigue within her University’s scientific community, the questionable ethics of the British media, and reveals that all is not well at the heart of London’s Russian high society.

Is the truth so important? The reality is—truth can be dangerous. Would you want the truth even if it may hurt in the end?

Only $0.99!  Amazon

REVIEW:

My freakish ability, together with my chemistry background, has not only earned me scientific recognition, it has also landed me a consultancy job with the police. – Dr. Neroli Sonnclere, The Effervescence of Truth

 I’ve found a different way to scent the air: already it’s a by-word for despair. – Andrew Motion

Dr. Neroli Sonnclere is an anomaly – a brilliant chemist, she is also a rarity of nature. The scientific term for her particular genetic condition is hyperosmia. To put it simply, her, nose can discern all sorts of scents even in minute quantities, including those that escape more ordinary human beings. While persons with hyperosmia may become exceptional sommeliers or world-famous parfumeurs, Neroli uses her skill as a chemist to both explore her own difference and to create chemical formulae utilizing her capabilities. Which not only allowed her to become the “Pied Piper of Buckingham Palace” as well as a police consultant (the police consultancy and Pied Piperism show up in previous books.)

Now, Dr. Sonnclere’s particular abilities are not only placing her in personal danger, but threatening the very stability of world politics. For the truth shall not always set you free – it may, instead, cause the collapse of governments.

Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth. – Marcus Aurelius

It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense. – Mark Twain

The Effervescence of Truth is wonderfully unusual, written in a voice that is uniquely Ivee Olivares’ own. Filled with the logic and through processes of a woman of science, there is a deep and abiding truth in everything Ivee writes, whether it be the truth of the chemistry involved, or of the depths of human nature and belief systems. Filled with political machinations, espionage and overwhelming greed – both financial and within the halls of education where the tenure requirement is publish or die. And death, in this case, stalks even the rarified halls of academia.

Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. – George Orwell

Trust. Truth. Greed. The push to publish and the longing for funding and discovery and success. All laid against a background of political intrigue and deep and abiding hatreds. Yep. Well worth a read!

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I edited Ivee Olivares’ The Effervescence of Truth and found Ivee to be a wonderful person to work with – a person who has written as deeply interesting and thoughtful novel with deep strengths. All opinions are my own and not affected by my client relationship with Ivee.

A Thought Provoking Video To Remind Us Of The Sacrifice Our Military Makes For Us

This video is from The Royal Dutch Guide Dog Foundation (KNGF). I will warn you that it is heartrending, both horrifying and hopeful at the same time. At Easter time, we should give a thought to the sacrifice of our military men and women, and how much they suffer for us. And exactly why they are suffering. Is it truly for the safety and security of our people? Or are they simply cogs in the machine that cranks out money for corporations and governments? Are our attacks to protect us, or to assure our oil supplies? Whatever it may be, THANK YOU to The Royal Dutch Guide Dog Foundation (KNGF) for this amazing commercial.

 

And more videos about the healing of dogs for returning warriors with PTSD

 

 

 

And finally – the dogs give you drugs and prescriptions – but Service Dogs could do SO MUCH! Tell the VA that you support Service Dogs for Returning Veterans!!!!

 

Review: Stray Ally By Troy Lambert – Suspense, Thrills, and the Love of an Amazing Dog

Stray Ally
Please see the previous post for more information about “Stray Ally”

We must maximize our efforts to counter violent extremism, radicalization and recruitment in the United States and stop using xenophobia and ethnic stereotyping. – Bennie Thompson

Time and again we see leaders and members of religions incite aggression, fanaticism, hate, and xenophobia – even inspire and legitimate violent and bloody conflicts.
– Hans Kung

Humans never grow up. – Me

It starts innocently, though horribly. A teenager, one of those most careless of creatures, so certain of their own immortality. A skateboard, a bridge over a highway, and a long, long fall. And a specially trained soldier, drummed out of the corps for reasons unsure and unknown, a victim of circumstance – a victim whose world will now start to spiral out of control.

What happens when a military commander goes out of control? When the good join the evil, and death and destruction are the outcome? And what if what seems simply a tragic accident is actually something more? Something horrific beyond thought or comprehension?

Lambert has written a military-based tale of murder and hatred, sociopathy and convoluted planning that would make the Gorgon weep. Set in Idaho, the poster child state for domestic terrorism and religious fanaticism, as well as fanatical racism, this could have been your standard tale of psychotic racial hatred and military misanthropy. However, this is more than that. For, within an outstanding story of suspense and terror, Lambert introduces a nearly paranormal aspect – the dogs.

Todd Clarke has escaped custody. When a teenager fell to his death onto the hood of his wife’s Mercedes, and the state police officer, seeing the child and recognizing him as his own, attacks Clarke, threatening him with his gun, Clarke’s training kicks in under the shock of the child’s death, and Clarke disarms and kills the officer. In hiding in the mountains, Clarke runs across a supposed hiker and his dog, Sparky, and the outcome is the death of the hiker – and the friendship of the dog. Chased by agents, both known and unknown, Clarke begins a race for his life, with the nearly supernatural assistance of Sparky – an assistance that comes with the help of many other dogs, mutts mostly, lured to Sparky by a force which Clarke does not understand, but which saves his life again and again.

I adored the part the dogs play in the story line. As the author states in his statement regarding his book: So I read this book the other day, about a man in some real trouble, at an uncertain and dark point in his life. He meets a dog, and that changes everything. The dog is no ordinary dog, but I ask you: what dog is ordinary? With the help of this amazing dog and some of his canine friends, the man finds the strength to keep going.

Much like Todd, I have my own story of a dog who saved my life, who drew me back from suicide and self loathing, who taught me what love truly was. I wouldn’t have made it with him, just like Clarke needs Sparky and his friends.

Another thing that truly dug into me was the story of military personnel gone rogue – men of power who convoluted and destroyed the very essence of what is good about the military, turning it into a twisted and evil power used for the worst possible reasons. Hatred and domination, and all that is wrong and disgusting about the sort of mentality that hates others in the name of their concept of a hateful and brutal god. I have always found it interesting – those who preach Gods goodness and power and mercy, and that all things “great and small” are created by this god – but will, in his name, murder and torture and terrorize all those whose skin colour is not the same as their own.

But my favorite part of the whole book? The dogs, those loving, loyal, and tremendously brave creatures who will lay down their lives for the right and the true. If for no other reason, if you love dogs, you must read this book. You will never be sorry you did so.

Whatever the evolutionary basis of religion, the xenophobia it now generates is clearly maladaptive. – Lawrence M. Krauss

I received this book from Lucy Felthouse at Writer Marketing Services. I have received no compensation for any postings which I have undertaken, or any reviews written. All thoughts and comments regarding Stray Ally or any other books reviewed for Writer Marketing Services are my own.

Yippee! Beta Reading Book Three – The Pierced Series by J. C. Mells

Perfect Cover 2
The cover for “Perfect” – Book three of the J. C. Mells “Pierced” series!

Just finished the Beta and, OMFG!!! J. C. does it again – another brilliant story full of pain and hate, love and understanding and a tremendous cast of characters. Watch here – I will let you know as soon as I know when it is coming out – and you have to read this book! Of course, if you haven’t read the first ones, you have to read those too- – – these are too good to miss!

Thanks, J. C. Mells!!!

 

“Can’t live with him, can’t live without him.”

Never have these words seemed more true to Pierce as she deals with the aftermath of Salt Lake City. She and Lucas can’t seem to stay apart from each other for very long without the night panics happening again – but being together is almost as torturous. Will her past ever allow her to be intimate with him? Can she afford to let her guard down and allow herself to be happy? She’s still suffering from the post-traumatic stress of what happened to her the last time she did that.

But on the plus side, their little town of Nowhere is coming along in leaps and bounds. So much so, that it has appeared on the radar of the wolf community. Or at least Pierce’s presence has.

Suddenly it seems like Nowhere is THE place to be these days..

pierce
Who is Pierce?

______________________________

Keep your eyes open – I will post when the book is published!

Review: The Midnight Side By Natasha Mostert

midnightside
Originally published in 2000. Republished for Kindle by Portable Magic, 2013.
Click for the goodreads page.

How much worse are suitors, who to men’s lust
Are made preys? O, worse than dust or worms’ meat,
For they do eat you now, whose selves worms shall eat. – John Donne, Thou shalt not laugh in this leaf, Muse (British Poet, Satirist, Author, 1572-1631)

The sin of pride may be a small or a great thing in someone’s life, and hurt vanity a passing pinprick, or a self-destroying or ever murderous obsession. – Iris Murdoch (British Novelist and Philosopher, 1919-1999)

We’re going to start a rumour. It’s easy: here’s how. And thus starts a tale of twisted obsession, of ghostly presence and lucid dreaming. A tale of suffering. But whose? And how far will obsession live within the soul? To the grave? Beyond?

Too late hee would the paine asswage,
And to thick shadowes does retire;
About with him hee beares the rage,
And in his tainted blood the fire.
Edmund Waller –The selfe-banished –  (English Poet and Politician,1606 – 1687)

Isabella, or Isa to her friends, lives a life of quiet desperation in South Africa. The mistress of a married man for the past thirteen years, Isa has set aside her own needs for those of her lover, Eric. Eric, who has just died, leaving her with nothing but heartache.

In the night, as she lies dreaming, the phone rings, a flat, atonal sound, odd and strangely off-key, and the crackling voice of her cousin, Alette comes through. Alette, the wild and flighty girl with whom Isa was raised. Alette the strong, Alette the vibrant. And, as Isa is soon to learn, Alette who is two days dead.

Now back in London to close Allete’s estate, Isa receives a message from Allete along with a copy of her will. A very odd and devastating message, which leads Isa to carry out a twisted scheme against Jason, Allete’s ex-husband – an ex-husband whose tortures Allete lays out in a letter, sealed for only Isa.

Lucid dreaming, African mysticism. Alchemy and premonitions. Mostert’s The Midnight Side is a brooding, atmospheric tale of suspense and psychological thrill, full of the kinds of fear and gloomy atmosphere sure to lure in even the most jaded of readers. Isa wanders through the halls of her dreams, following orders, reaching out . . . and changing within herself. The Vigyan Bhairava Tantra, the seventh sutra, says, “ . . . reach the heart at the instant of sleep and seek direction over dreams and over death itself.” Is Isabella following her heart? Or are the dreams of death drawing back the soul of her beloved cousin?

What cruelty, wasted love – love which lies only in recompense? Mostert speaks to deep waters of the mind, dark corners of the soul, the ruin brought on by wounded and damaged souls. And yet, her journey also showcases the beauty and drabery of London itself, with it’s fogs and rains, the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery of the British Museum, the odd libraries and collections, the tea shops and cathedrals. The mass of cultures and foods and beliefs. A brooding city of history and blood and loss and joy, all wrapped up in banks of fog and fire, melancholy, and old, old guilt.

What Isa does and doesn’t do, thinks and feels and suffers leads you through murky darkness, fear, and the question, or promise, of forbidden destiny.

I received this book from Netgalley in return for an honest review.  Highly recommended.

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