Category: Book Reviews

Review: Dusk Unveiled. Fated Mates, A Curse, and More

Welcome back to Ravenwood, Pennsylvania–a town both like and unlike others.

If you haven’t read the first book in the series (Dawn Unearthed)–I would suggest you stop here, and go and read Sage & Rome’s story before continuing…

Dusk Unveiled picks up shortly after Dawn Unearthed, and features Laurel and Jaxton.

Laurel is the fire witch of the coven–who is unable to fully use her powers due to the Christopher family curse.

Jaxton Dark is the leader of the local hawk shifters, and a ‘fixer’ within the town.

While they know they’re mates—Laurel refuses to cement the bond as she strives to protect those she loves…

While everyone is still recovering from the last battle and the lives lost—their enemies don’t waste time and attack again…

Can they find a way to break the Christopher family curse before they lose each other?

Is the coven strong enough to repel Oriel’s latest attack?

Is there a traitor hiding within Ravenwood?

The answers to these questions and more—lie within the pages of ‘Dusk Unveiled’.

I loved the second installment of the Ravenwood Coven trilogy, and reading Laurel and Jax’s story.

There was an ‘unexpected’ twist at the end of the book—and I’m looking forward to the third and final book (Rowen and Ash’s story) to see how the coven handles the twist and to see Rowen and Ash get their happily-ever-after.

I’ve always enjoyed paranormal romance books, and the Ravenwood coven books have been hitting it out of the park across the board—though I hope that there may be a novella (or novel) for Nelle and Aspen as well in the future.

I give ‘Dusk Unveiled’ five out of five stars and highly recommend it to anyone who likes idea that the supernatural live among us.

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An opposites-attract, and friends-to-lovers story: Review of My Bad Decisions

‘My Bad Decisions’ is the final book in the ‘On My Own’ series by Carrie Ann Ryan, and features Tanner and Natalie.

This is an opposites-attract, friends-to-lovers romance.

They’re the last two ‘single’ roommates between the two houses.

He considers himself to be from the ‘wrong side’ of town, and she’s the ‘rich’ one in the group–the one ‘out of his reach’.

An night out with some high school classmates and Natalie accidentally ‘discovers’ Tanner’s college occupation.

What do stolen kisses, a broken window, and an afternoon together add up to?

The answer(s) can be found within the pages of ‘My Bad Decisions’.

While completing their final semester of college, can Tanner and Natalie also weather the drama of both their families, and figuring out if they’re just ‘friends’ or more than friends?

I absolutely loved the book and how it wove a wonderful ending together for everyone: Dillon and Elise, Percy and Mackenzie, Miles and Nessa, and Tanner and Natalie. While I was sad that the series has ended, I’m hoping to periodically catch glimpses of the couples in future Montgomery Ink books—since they are part of the Montgomery Ink family.

I give ‘My Bad Decisions’ five out of five stars, and hope that there may be a novella or two ( or perhaps four) in the future allowing us to catch up with these wonderful couples.

If you haven’t given the On My Own series a try—go for it, you won’t be disappointed.

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Mix one part road-trip, two parts secrets, & tequila. Results: Inked Devotion.

Welcome back to the Fort Collins’ branch of the Montgomery family.

Inked Devotion picks up after Inked Obsession (so while it is a stand alone book—it may be easier to understand if you’re read the first two books in this mini series), and focuses on Benjamin and Brenna.

Brenna Garrett is use to large family gatherings, after all she has six siblings—so she usually feels right at home with the Montogomerys.

Though, unbeknownst to everyone she has been keeping a rather large secret (though she did try to tell Beckett).

During lunch with his ex-girlfriend and her wife, Benjamin is surprised by a favor they ask of him.

Brenna has decided to drive back to Virginia for a family reunion—making use of the time to think about how to tell people about her ‘secret’.

Not wanting to deal with his siblings yet, Benjamin asks to tag along so that he can also think on his ex’s request.

Throw in a storm, some tequila, sharing a room for a night, and Benjamin meeting Brenna’s family—and everyone’s plans get shaken up.

Can Benjamin and Brenna figure out how to make their relationship work?

How will the rest of the Montgomerys react to their news?

The answers to both of these questions and more lie within the pages of Inked Devotion; I give Inked Devotion five out of five stars. While I love all the books within the Montgomery Ink world, I’ve really been enjoying the Fort Collins branch. I’m looking forward to the last two books (Paige and then Archer), to see how those two get their happily-ever-afters.

Inked Devotion will be released on October 26, 2021.

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Reunited Lovers Escaping Their Past: Review of Inked Kingdom

The ‘series’ page for Underworld Kings gives the best description for the series.

“A multi-author series of standalone books filled with mafia families waging war, danger and violence, arranged and forced marriages, angst, love, and everything in-between. Light or dark, twisted or sweet, the Underworld Kings has something for everyone.”

So, while I don’t go with the underworld, biker club, mafia family backdrop all that often, I was curious to see how Carrie Ann would weave it into her much larger Montgomery Ink world. Because you know if the word Inked in is title–some Montgomery is going to be making an appearance.

Inked Kingdom introduces Stone as he is trying to figure out how to get out of the ‘kingdom’ that he no longer wants to be a part of—but knows that the only real way out is death.

With some unexpected ‘help’, he is able to escape and makes his way west.

Sarina managed to escape the ‘kingdom’ years ago and is making a new life for herself in Denver, though she still looks over her shoulder for the past. She has found a place for herself working for the Montgomerys and another ‘kingdom’ escapee.

When their paths cross in Denver, can Sarina put her fear of the past repeating itself behind her and reconnect with who Stone is now—or will the Kingdom be able to keep them apart?

The answers are within the pages of Inked Kingdom.

I enjoyed the introduction of Stone and Sarina, and the visit with the Montgomerys, and will be interested to see if they show up in future books. I give Inked Kingdom five out of five stars.

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Mix together one poltergeist, one departmental audit, and an unexpected past. Catnip & Curses: A Review

The FBI division of Occult Crimes is getting an audit, and a new poltergeist case all at the same time.

To keep their division from being shut down, Elena Rivera and Logan Hawthorne have to prove that the things that go bump in the night are real.

Having converted her ‘non-believer’ partner into a believer, one would think that dealing with their ‘shadows’ would be easy.

But, once you mix in a mad poltergeist, two very staunch cynics, vivid dreams, and a past that no one was expecting—and you have the perfect setting for Catnip and Curses.

I’m looking forward to the final book being released next month and finding out how Elena and Logan deal with their respective pasts, and what the future holds for the Occult Crimes division of the FBI.

I give Catnip and Curses five out of five stars, and highly recommend both the book and the series to anyone looking for a lighthearted mystery, with both a touch of the paranormal and romance.

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Review: My Next Play. A friends to lovers tale

‘My Next Play’ is the third book in the ‘On My Own’ series by Carrie Ann Ryan. This book picks up shortly after ‘My Rebound’ and features Miles and Nessa.

What happens when you’re trying to move on from a crush on your roommate’s now boyfriend?

In addition to realizing you may have feelings for one of his roommates? Who has been hiding his feelings for you?

You accept an invitation to go out with someone else…but there aren’t sparks (at least fro you).

Add in various family dramas and secrets…and you get the premise of ‘My Next Play’.

Both Nessa and Miles have family ‘issues’ that pop up, giving insight into both characters. I like how Nessa had ‘ties’ to the Denver Montgomerys even before she met Dillon (who has ties to the Colorado Spring Montgomerys), and weaved a little of that world into the book.

Are Nessa and Miles strong enough to weather the combined storms of their families and the other dangers facing them? The answers lie within the pages of ‘My Next Play’.

I give the latest entry of the ‘On My Own’ series, five out of five stars and can’t wait for the final book that will be featuring Tanner and Natalie.

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Heading into Fall: Reviewing the ‘dog days of summer’ goals

So, we’re on to the last third of the year—there are now only 122 days left in 2021. While it feels like time is starting to speed back up again, I’m wondering when things are going to totally go to hell. The vaccination rate is still on a steady decline (though there are days when the number of shots given is high), and the delta variant is still running rampant through the country. Luckily, I’ll be able to get the J&J booster shot sometime between October and December (they state that it is most effective six to eight months after the initial shot). So, it looks like I’ll be staying in self-isolation throughout the fall and winter (with the occasional walk to get the paper on the weekend, and possibly a walk once a month at Boomer Lake).

The world is still crumbling at a decent clip, and I’m talking about everything from the issues in Central Asia (Afghanistan) to the fact that while Greenland lost a huge amount of ice—they also got a huge amount of rainfall (for like the third time in recorded history). Therefore, I’m limiting my news intake to morning/night and the occasional lunchtime checks on Facebook. When I published ‘July in Review’, I noted that the US was a little over 35.7 million cases for the SARS-CoV2 virus, and now we’re at a little over 40.1 million cases (so it was an increase of not quite 4.5 million cases last month—all due to the delta variant and fewer people getting vaccinated).

So the numbers are going back up, and less than 0.5% of the hospitalized cases are vaccinated individuals (break-through cases). That means over 99% of the people in the hospital for SARS-CoV2, haven’t gotten the vaccine (and a good number now are children under the age of 12 that currently aren’t eligible for the vaccine). I really wish things would go virtual for another semester or two, and if everyone wants schools opened—get the damn shot. (End rant)

Staying in self-isolation will give me the time to really start focusing on trying to get a freelance/remote/contract career started (focusing first on writing, crafts, and possibly project/product management, then stretching to data analysis, and possibly educational consulting).

Before looking ahead to September (the start of the last third of the year, and a semi-modified new set of goals, and continuing to work on my time and project management skills), I should look at the goals I set for August and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for August included:

  1. 135-155,000 steps
  2. Restart LIIFT4 (mainly following the lifting schedule, not necessarily streaming the program)
  3. Finish up the writing/editing assignments for MWO, the MWO course, and roll the dice to figure out the next advancedcheeky scientist program to start
  4. Finish reading two to three non-fiction books
  5. Read two to four fiction books (and hopefully write small reviews over at least one of them)
  6. No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month
  7. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries
  8. Craft time (Continue working on the cross-stitch project)
  9. Work through at least one other personal/professional development e-course

So how did I do with each of them?

135-155,000 steps: I managed to get in 154,591 steps this past month. Mostly through wandering around the house and yard, though I did manage to get a walk in at Boomer Lake earlier in the month. I’m thinking that for September–most of the steps will be from wandering around the house/yard, walking through the neighborhood (early mornings, so I can wear my mask), and possibly a walk at Boomer Lake.

Restarting LIIFT4: I’m still giving my wrist a little more time to heal (I semi-sprained or did something to my right wrist last month), and therefore didn’t do any lifting this past month. As I mentioned in another post (400 day update), I have until basically the end of September to decide if I’m keeping my beachbody-on-demand subscription or not. I’m trying to limit my ‘screen time’ (or as much as one can when they’re thinking of freelance/remote/contract writing as a career option). Therefore I’m thinking of working out away from the screen (lifting weights and doing other things), and doing ‘screen time’ for mainly yoga.

Finishing up the MWO program & deciding on new one: I’ve finished the editing assignments for the program, and am still working on the writing assignments. I have one module left to go through (though I may not get the certificate until I complete the writing assignments), and then would be ‘done’ with the program. I did roll the dice and decided that I’d be working through the following programs over the next several months (regardless of when I finish the MWO): User Experience Squad, Project Management Consortium, Regulatory Affairs Council, Business Development Federation, and Product Management Group.

Finish reading two to three non-fiction books: I managed to read the following non-fiction books:

I Want to Do All the Things: Finding Balance as a Polymath, Multipotentialite, and Renaissance Soul by Arcadia Page

The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker

Though I haven’t written mini book reviews over either of them yet.

Read two to four fiction books (and hopefully write small reviews on at least one of them): The fiction books Imanaged to read during the month of August included:

Vortex: A FBI Thriller (#25) by Catherine Coulter (review posted to blog)

Dawn Unearthed (Ravenwood Coven #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan (review posted to blog)

Wiretaps & Whiskers (The Faerie Files #1) by Emigh Cannaday (review posted to blog)

Catnip & Curses (The Faerie Files #2) by Emigh Cannaday (review coming soon)

My Next Play (On My Own #3; advanced reader copy) by Carrie Ann Ryan (review coming soon)

Three out of the five books have reviews posted to the blog, and the other two books are books that I just finished within the past few days, so those reviews should hopefully be getting posted to the blog (and other sites) by the weekend.

No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month:

There have been a couple of books bought, one (or two) large amazon orders–but truthfully, nothing more than usual. The breakdown for this will be in the next installment of the limited spending challenge check-in.

Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries:

I’ve been able to spend time outdoors this month–though there was only one walk at Boomer Lake (due to combination of temperatures and the delta variant). I am very grateful that my parents have a decent size backyard that one can be out in during this period of time. I’ve been doing my evening meditations/sitting quietly moments for at least a few minutes (hoping to add this to the morning routine as well).

In term of the daily gratitude entries–I’ve been pretty good with these, even if they’ve been something along the line of being grateful that I don’t have kids and therefore I don’t have to worry/stress about navigating things with the pandemic still raging.

Craft time (continue working on the cross-stitch project):

I actually finished my first small abstract cross-stitch project the other day. Instead of trying to find a pattern, I’m sticking with abstract made up on the spot designs. The reason: I can’t draw a straight line to save my life, and trying to write letters on the fabric was giving me a headache, though I do know that with practice I’d be getting better at both of them).

My first cross-stitch project completed

I should be getting in my glue gun by the end of the week, and will be gluing some of the fabric to the backside of the framefor a more completed look.

I’m starting on a second and larger cross-stitch project, and am finding it therapeutic stabbing the fabric over and over again with teh needle and thread. It seems that the amount of time spent on the project is directly correlated to how irritated I am with the world.

Work through at least one other personal/professional development e-course:

I started two different short e-courses this past month, and finished one of them:

Understanding and Developing Emotional Intelligence on Udemy

With the way the world is going today (especially in terms of the anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers), this is something that a lot of people seem to be lacking. Out of the five main concepts (self-awareness, self-control, social skills, empathy, and self motivation)—I feel like everyone needs a good dose of empathy.

While I may be getting tired of being in self-isolation (more or less) daily, at least I know that I’m doing my part not to spread the virus. Just like I know that wearing a mask in public, helps slow the spread of the virus (even though I shouldn’t be carrying it—it would still help protect me from catching it).

Everyone that is screaming ‘it’s their right’ on whether or not to wear a mask, or get vaccinated, or whatever—yes it is your right, but the world doesn’t revolve around you. We’re a global society, and we really should be looking out for each other (instead of being of the ‘me-and-mine’ mindset).

After taking the course, I’ve realized that I need to work on the self-motivation (keeping the inner critic/imposter syndrome in check) the most, with maybe self-awareness coming in second. I’m usually aware of my emotions, and while I try not to let them get the better of me, sometimes I don’t always control my facial features as much as I should.

Another thing I did last month (and actually at the very end of the month)—I submitted a ‘application’ for paying freelance writing gig. The opportunity came from the company that I’m doing the volunteer writing for (one of the editors wants the pages on another site rewritten), so I sent a response with links to both the blog and my LinkedIn profile (as my portfolio) to the editor I work with and we’ll see what happens.

Even if I don’t get the job—I managed to quiet my inner critic long enough to ask some questions in one of the medical writing Facebook groups I’m in, and put together a response and emailed it back in the afternoon. This is a really big step for me, since I’m more likely to try to let the inner critic/imposter syndrome win and not try to go for things.

I decided earlier in the month that I was going to be keeping the website url, and running tagline for the blog. I will be updating the site over the next few months (especially with a ‘portfolio’ section to highlight various science/medical writing styles/topics, and other writing examples).

I’m not going to change up my ‘goals’ that much, though I will be trying to put a little more time into the other ‘writing’ projects that I’ve got on my plate.

The other goals for September will include:

  1. 130-150,000 steps; I’m hoping to get at least one walk in at Boomer Lake this month, in addition to maybe one or two walks through the neighborhood in the mornings (when I shouldn’t run into anyone who could be potentially ‘anti-mask’)
  2. Start my own fitness routine (weight lifting, shadow boxing, yoga/stretching)
  3. Start working through the User Experience Squad program, work on the writing assignments for the MWO and finish the sixth module of the MWO program
  4. Read one to two non-fiction books
  5. Read two to four fiction books (have small book reviews written and published)
  6. No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month
  7. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, and daily gratitude journal entries
  8. Craft time (continue working on the new cross-stitch project)
  9. Work through at least one other personal/professional development e-course

I’m keeping the goals similar to the ones for August—though I’m changing up the fitness/intentional movement goal. Instead of streaming workouts (though I might do that for the yoga), I’m going to just put on music and either lift weights (focusing on certain muscles) or shadow box. This way I’ll be getting in my fitness/intentional movement for the day, but at the same time will be having some ‘screen free’ time as well.

I’ll also be trying to figure out what other types of writing I’d like to be doing, so there may be a variety of blog posts (or pages) popping up throughout the month as I try my hand covering different topics.

While I’ve semi rewritten the ‘work with me’ page, that page and the welcome page may get updated throughout the fall as I slowly make my way into the freelancing world of writing, editing, proofreading, and crafting.

So, while time is starting to ‘speed’ up, I hope that everyone is getting their vaccination shot(s) against the virus, and if you have kids—they’re getting theirs as well. As that (along with masks and social distancing when needed) is really the only way we’re going to be able to get to a ‘new’ normal.

While I’d asked this question last month on what types of posts people would like to see more of (science/educational, personal/professional development, hobbies/crafts, book reviews, or thoughts on different career paths), I decided that I will continue forward with a mixture of all (as that fits my personality and my top two strengths: learner and intellection).

I’m going to share the words I chose for 2021 again— growth, creativity, curiosity, happiness, and prosperity.

What are you most excited for this fall?

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Missing children, goblins, & a new partner..what could go wrong.. Introduction to the Faerie Files

What happens when the FBI division of Occult Crimes is finally informed about the disappearance of hundreds of children?

They send in their specialist…With her new partner.

Elena Rivera was recruited by the FBI for her unique abilities and talents—especially those that could deal with the things that go bump in the night.

Logan Hawthorne was just promoted to Senior Special Agent and assigned to the Occult Crime Division.

What happens when you have a play it by the book agent and an agent that trusts her gut and senses, partnered together on a high-stake case?

A team that is sent to the Smoky Mountains to figure out why children have been disappearing, where they are and how to get them home.

Add in the antics of a small mountain town, and you have the perfect ingredients for a paranormal mystery.

I enjoyed the escapades and introduction the Faerie Files Series, and am looking forward to reading the second book (Catnip and Curses) this weekend, and waiting impatiently for the third book (Hexes and Hairballs) to be released in October.

I give Wiretaps and Whiskers five out of five stars, and highly recommend the book to anyone looking for a lighthearted mystery with a touch of the paranormal.

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Combine one ‘cold-case’ disappearance with a missing flash-drive/CIA agent, & you have the latest installment of Savich & Sherlock: ‘Vortex’

The latest installment of Catherine Coulter’s FBI thriller series came out two weeks ago. There are twenty-five books in the series, and while all books feature Dillon Savich, it is from book two onwards that we also see Lacey Sherlock (his wife).

The latest installment in the series is ‘Vortex’, and it starts right off with a murder/mystery before moving to the present time.

Seven years ago, a college student vanished from a party never to be seen again.

While, everyone moved on with his or her lives–a few blurry pictures from that night has one person vowing to figure out what happened to her friend.

Though she’ll have to tread carefully, as there could be political ramifications to solving a seven-year-old mystery.

What happens when the routine ‘extraction’ of an agent goes sideways?

The FBI is called into investigate when there is an attempt on one of the survivors back in DC.

These are just two of the mysteries that Special Agent Dillon Savich and his wife Special Agent Lacey Sherlock try to unravel, in addition to a triple homicide and unearthing a ‘mole’ within one of the agencies.

I love Catherine Coulter’s FBI series, as each book introduces new characters and at the same time revisits some old friends from previous books. Each book in the series is a stand-alone book, though at times it can be beneficial to read them in order. Though I would like to know if Special Agent James Quinlan (and his wife) are going to make any guest appearances in future books.

I give Vortex five out of five stars, and highly recommend it to everyone who enjoys a good mystery.

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Review: Dawn Unearthed. Introducing a world of witches, shifters, and fae

So, Carrie Ann Ryan has come out with a new paranormal romance series: Ravenwood Coven.

This series is based in Ravenwood, Pennsylvania and focuses on the citizens of the town: the witches, the shifters, and the fae.

Dawn Unearthed introduces us to the world, as Sage (Prince) Reed moves to Ravenwood, Pennsylvania with the palns to open a bakery and start fresh, away from the grief of losing her husband, and the constant memories that surrounded her.

Sage is introduced to her heritage and the secrets of the town, both sooner than expected and in a way that was not foreseen.

The town has been able to keep its secrets for years, even with the everyday citizen that may live in town, and the visitors passing through.

What happens when a witch (still learning to control her powers), meets a semi-grumpy bear shifter, and finds more trouble than she can handle on her own?

She may find her ‘sisters’, her mate, and her future–all within Ravenwood and the coven, if they can survive the darkness that is threatening the town.

What are the ties between the Ravenwood Coven and the dark forces that seek to engulf the town? Those answers will be unveiled throughout the series, and it starts with Dawn Unearthed.

I enjoyed the introduction to Ravenwood and its citizens. I look forward to see what the future holds for Laurel, Rowen, and the others.

I give Dawn Unearthed five out of five stars and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys paranormal (or even just shapeshirter) romances.

Dawn Unearthed is available for download at Amazon on August 19, 2021.

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