A MelanieM Release Day Review: Stone the Crows (Wolf Winter #2) by T.A. Moore

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

When the Winter arrives, the Wolves will come down over the walls and eat little boys in their beds.

Doctor Nicholas Blake might still be afraid of the dark, but the monsters his grandmother tormented him with as a child aren’t real.

Or so he thought…until the sea freezes, the country grinds to a halt under the snow, and he finds a half-dead man bleeding out while a dead woman watches. Now his nightmares impinge on his waking life, and the only one who knows what’s going on is his unexpected patient.

For Gregor it’s simple. The treacherous prophets mutilated him and stole his brother Jack, and he’s going to kill them for it. Without his wolf, it might be difficult, but he’ll be damned if anyone else gets to kill Jack—even if he has to enlist the help of his distractingly attractive, but very human, doctor.

Except maybe the prophets want something worse than death, and maybe Nick is less human than Gregor believes. As the dead gather and the old stories come true, the two men will need each other if they’re going to rescue Jack and stop the prophets’ plan to loose something more terrible than the wolf winter.

Imagine being dumped into a landscape where all your childhood nightmares are real, where the bedtime stories of monsters  with claws to rend your flesh and teeth to eat you told by your gran were not just nasty tales but of horrible tattered together creatures waiting for you to arrive?  This is but the beginning of an incredible story and the second book in an amazing series by T.A. Moore.

Stone the Crows  is the second novel in the Wolf Winter series by T.A. Moore and its a stunner at every level and element.  Horror, urban fantasy, and romance.  There is nothing this author and book doesn’t excel at.

It starts from the beginning, a bleak winter landscape and an isolated compound.  It’s full of dead people.  And that’s where we meet both Dr. Nicholas Blake, cataloging the dead, and the soon to arrive Gregor, werewolf, (twin brother to Jack, and one of the Crown Prince Pup of the Numitor).  The author immediately surrounds us with the horrors of a plague like illness and a catastrophic winter that’s overtaken the population.  Only we see the intimate results on the villagers nearby.  The families and their children.  It’s heartbreaking and ominous, setting the tone for all that follows.

Moore seamlessly blends the Norse mythology with the horrors of the supernatural to create something sublime.  His wolves, his dogs, (they are different), are fully non-human.  Not human characters given a light fur coating and called were.  No, they have the “feel” of something feral and wild. And that contrasted with Nick’s humanity, makes the difference all too apparent. As will all the horrors that follow.

When legends and mythology collide, when blood and revenge are tied together, and a Throne involved, well, as it’s already been proven, there is nothing no one will sacrifice to achieve one’s goals, no amounts of blood, no great number of people, wolf or human that can’t be killed and Moore understands the emotions behind it all.  On both the grand scale and the small emotional, intimate one.  That last one that will leave you  sobbing in scenes here. Trust me…keep those tissue boxes handy.

This is a bleak, gritty, moving story. It’s epic fantasy  It’s full of muddy, emotional complications, and an overall series arc that starts back in book one, Dog Days (Wolf Winter #1).  It’s got a ways to go before its highly involved, convoluted tales  plays out.  So much more blood to be spilled, and I expect the price to be paid equally high.  I’m both dreading and highly anticipating the next story.

You con’t have to have read the first one but why wouldn’t you?  It’s equally incredible and give’s you Jack’s story.  This is a beautifully written story and series.  It has amazing depth, and continues to grow as more elements are revealed in detail.  Again, it’s a stunning story.  Don’t pass it up.  I highly recommend it.

Cover Artist: Bree Archer.  I like the cover but it’s too white (i can’t believe I’m saying this. Doesn’t convey the  darkness of the story).

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 240 pages
Published May 29th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640805422
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Wolf Winter :

Dog Days (Wolf Winter #1)

Stone the Crows (Wolf Winter, #2) 

A VVivacious Review: A Love to Remember by Sarah Hadley Brook

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Rating: 2 Stars out of 5

Graham comes from a family ravaged by the effects of Alzheimer’s and as a result, he has walled up his heart against any possibility of love. He only engages in casual sex but he starts questioning his resolve once he gets to know Sam. Will Graham be able to stand by his decision or will he have to re-think his decisions with love just a hand’s reach away…?

I had a hard time making myself read this one. I don’t know why but my interest just waned at about the 60% mark which was weird considering the fact that the story of this book only gets started at that point. The first 60% of the book is just the setting and most of the information revealed till this point is one you already know if you have read the blurb. After this point, the story’s progression to its inevitable conclusion just didn’t hold my attention.

I liked the concept of the story about how a debilitating condition that runs in your family would change your outlook of the world. But I felt like this concept overshadowed the characterisations because I can’t think of Graham as anyone other than the guy who doesn’t want to love because he fears that one day he will have Alzheimer’s and will be a burden on those who love him.   

I feel like this story will be different for different people, so if you think the premise of this story speaks to you do pick up the book.

Cover Art by Written Ink Designs. I really liked the cover for this one, it was really sweet.

Sales Links: Universal Buy Link | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 85 pages
Published April 28th 2018 by JMS Books LLC
ASINB07C1QNCZ4
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Lucy Pre release Review: My Crunchy Life by Mia Kerick

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Rated 5 stars out of 5

This young adult book focuses on Kalin, who goes by Kale, a 16-year-old searching for himself in that angsty adolescent time known as high school.  He’s facing a mother who was downsized from her job and has no pretty much abdicated from her adult responsibilities, a dad who is trying really hard, and a brosin, Hughie, (“…by my definition, a person who is midpoint between an irritating brother and an annoying cousin…”) who is sharing (invading) his room.  Kale is now a hippie, with dreadlocks that fall into his eyes, organically hand tie-dyed t-shirts, a vegan diet and a need to do “hippie things”, meaning he needs to find a social cause to embrace.  He does this by joining REHO, Rights for Every Human Organization.   It is here that Kale meets Julian.  Julian has big time problems at school, mostly in the form of a huge bully named Sydney.  Julian is incredibly smart, wants to be the best at academics so he can get a scholarship to college and be a doctor, attempted suicide and is now seeing a therapist.  Julian is transgender, a female trapped in his male body, and he’s bullied unmercifully for that.  “I have no problem with the world addressing me as Julian.  In fact, I insist upon it, even with those like Dr. E, who know that, inside, I’m actually a girl.  I want to be called Julian until the day I begin to live as one.”    Julian joins clubs to make sure his academic resume is complete and one of those is REHO.

The story is told in alternating first person point of view of Julian and Kale and I truly appreciated that.  I liked getting into the problems that both these teenagers are struggling with and how they are trying to deal with it.  It connected me with these characters so much more.   When Kale goes on socialactivism.com to find a cause I rolled my eyes at him. But it got us to where we wanted to be, REHO.

In addition to the trials of Kale and Julian, there is also the family trouble facing Hughie.   He’s a sweet boy who was living under a bridge until Kale’s dad took him in.  Hughie’s mother, “Serenity”, is a stripper and a truly bad mother.  When Serenity (real name Mary Pat) wants to see Hughie, I felt so bad for him.  “It’s like he can’t bounce back from the idea of coming face-to-face with his own mother.”  Because she isn’t a good mother and poor Hughie doesn’t have that sense of belonging to Kale’s home and family.  He’s like a sort of permanent house guest. He is the one who gave Kale the nickname, Crunchy, because of all the granola he eats in a house of serious meat-eaters.

Hughie, Sydney and Julian are in all classes together and they are all vying for the top spot of valedictorian.  That is one reason that Sydney is such a nightmare – she wants to stress them both away from being able to snag that spot. 

The one thing that saved this story from being an “all women are horrible” type is the volunteer best friends of Julian, Anna and Kandy.  Thank Pete for them, because they supported Julian and they were evidence that not all women are horrible.   Yes, Kale mother is not great, Hughie’s mother is awful, Sydney the bully and her female posse are the worst.   But Anna and Kandy, along with Julian’s mother, are gems.  Mama is so amazing, her support is what every kid should have.

As Kale comes to realize he likes Julian, he is struggling to come to terms with his sexuality.  Is he gay? Is he bi?  He isn’t really sure, he just knows he is coming to like Julian.  He sits by him at REHO, and is stunned to realize Julian goes to the same high school.  It’s funny that even though both Julian and Hughie have much bigger stresses and issues to face, I still was sympathetic to Kale as he tries to navigate what he’s feeling.  Anyone who says the teen years are the best is delusional in  my book. 

Julian is attending REHO as he is facing his body changing even more into something he abhors.  He is also facing the aftermath of trying to kill himself.  “I still have soul-sucking nightmares about the day I tried to die – dreams about the loneliness, the anxiety, and the hopelessness that brought me to the point that I thought it would be better to be gone.”  It’s heart-wrenching to know that there are so many kids who feel that way.  Julian is his true self- Julia – at night and then has to do the difficult task of “…putting the boy back on in the morning after being myself all night.”  He has to “…numb his body and spirit” in order to be what society says he has to be.  But not forever, Julian. 

Julian doesn’t immediately hit it off with Kale.  He believes Kale is cute, but a poser.  When trouble comes for Hughie, and he takes off,  Kale gets some insight into himself and he doesn’t like what he is seeing.  “Like self-absorbed…or insensitive.  Or both.”  And really, he is.  As he comes to realize that “I’m the Walt Disney World Hippie Theme Park of teenage boys in Crestdale” he begins to do what many adults fail to do.  Look at himself and realize he needs to change. “And maybe I have no idea who I really am, other than a guy who professed to be pro-human rights but who looked the other way at the human being in desperate need who lives in my frigging bedroom with me.”  He’s only 16 but he’s going to be an amazing adult. 

Kale and Julian are slowly becoming friends when Kale is hit with a revelation at REHO that he didn’t see coming and he handles it badly, mainly because he sort of makes things all about him.  But it seemed a true reaction from someone who is struggling with their own identity.   Julian has his mama’s support again and I wanted to cheer for her.  “You chose the only path you could follow.  And now, by beautiful, smart, and courageous daughter, I hope you will follow it with pride”.  Jules has the strength because of that support.

The moment when Kale has to decide whether to do what is right, what is best for him, and what is easy was a great moment, even as it was a painful one.  The ending of this was so perfect, sweet and YA and lovely.  This coming of age story isn’t incredibly angsty, despite some very serious themes, but it’s a story of growth and I thought it was just right.

The cover, by Aaron Anderson, is simple and completely captured the feel of Kale.  The tie dye, the mushroom dreads, the sweet face – it all really leant the picture of who Kale was trying to be and I liked it.

Sales Links:  Harmony Ink Press | Amazon – no links yet for Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 180 pages
Expected publication: June 26th 2018 by Harmony Ink Press
ISBN139781640803923
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Alisa Review: Snow Cat by Edward Kendrick

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Rating:  3.25 stars out of 5

Artist Wynn McGuire has a problem. An enemy wants him dead.

Sheriff Mick Greene also has problems. Helping Wynn survive and finding the elusive “Snow Cat” that is prowling outside his small mountain town.

Wynn and Mick have another problem as well, their growing interest in each other. When Wynn disappears Mick is certain he’s either dead or has gone back to his old life. Then he discovers the truth about Wynn, just days before Wynn comes back into his life. Will this truth, plus Mick’s ex-lover and another man seeking to kill Wynn force them apart, or can they surmount the obstacles and learn that love indeed conquers all.

This was a nice story but nothing that will blow your socks off.  Wynn is trying to stay alive and get rid of the man after him.  Mick is just trying to keep his town safe but can’t help but want to help Wynn along the way.

I felt as though I was just along for the ride with these characters, I was told what was going on but didn’t feel a great connection to them.  They mystery of Wynn’s enemy was different and didn’t really seem that hard to resolve but I didn’t think the brother coming for revenge did anything to help the plot along other than add some more pages to the book.  Mick stands strong to his values and I liked his caring nature for those around him.

The cover art by Written Ink Designs is nice and like the visuals of Wynn.

Sales Links: JMS Books | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 143 pages

Published: January 11, 2018 by JMS Books

ISBN: 9781634866002

Edition Language: English

Book Blast Just A Year by Jena Wade (excerpt)

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BOOK BLAST

BOOK 1

Book Title: Just A Week (#1)

Author: Jena Wade

Publisher: Self Published

Cover Artist: Silver Heart Design Studio www.silverheartstudio.com

Release Date: May 12, 2018

Genre/s: Contemporary Gay Romance

Book 1 of 2

Goodreads 

Blurb

Just a week is not enough time to fall in love, but Fate doesn’t care. Seth’s carefully crafted plan for how his life will go doesn’t include falling in love with a guy in his horrible hometown. He wants to start a new life anywhere but at home. Until Maddox storms in with his multi-colored hair and carefree attitude.

Long distance relationships don’t work and Seth isn’t into gambling with his future. But the more time he spends with Maddox, the more he’s willing to throw caution to the wind. Now his plan for the rest of his life has been turned upside down and seems to include things Seth never thought possible, including a lifetime of happiness in his hometown.

Buy Link – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US  

Amazon UK 

BOOK 2

Book Title: Just A Year (#2)

Author: Jena Wade

Publisher: Self Published

Cover Artist: Silver Heart Design Studio www.silverheartstudio.com

Release Date: May 12, 2018

Book 2 of 2

Genre/s: Contemporary Gay Romance

Length: 22,000 Words  

Goodreads

     

Blurb

Just a year is too much time to spend apart from the man you love, but Seth has a carefully crafted plan for how to make it work. Taking an internship four hours away from Maddox may not have been the smartest choice Seth has ever made, but he is determined to make it work. Until life throws a wrench in his plans and turns his and Maddox’s world upside down.

Excerpt from Just a Year

Just a year. No more, no less. Three hundred sixty-five days. Five hundred, twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes.

Great, now I would have the Rent soundtrack playing in my head throughout the entire ceremony.

I took a deep breath and focused on the commencement speaker. After five long years, the last one and a half being the longest by far, I’d finished my degree. No more term papers, no more eight a.m. classes, no more all-nighters in the library so I could have a homework free weekend with my boyfriend.

Maddox.

He sat out there in the crowd with my parents. I felt his eyes on me, but I couldn’t see him. I’m not even sure which section they were in. The Breslin Center was filled to the brim with graduates and their families. All waiting for their individual name to be called so they could walk across the stage and collect a fake diploma. The real one wouldn’t arrive in the mail for a few weeks.

Just a year. That wasn’t that long, was it?

Maddox and I had survived the past year and a half getting to know each other over Skype and Facetime, chatting, Snapchatting, the works. Thank God for the digital age. On the rare occasions that we physically saw each other, well, I mean, I don’t really have to explain how those encounters went.

Jobs right out of college were hard to come by, everyone knew that. Maddox would understand.

Just a year.

“Seth Brown, Masters of Science in Marketing Research.”

I took a deep breath, walked across the stage, accepted my fake diploma from the university president, smiled for a picture and then I was done.

Five years, would have been six if I hadn’t busted my ass taking summer courses, done.

I smiled as I looked around the crowd, searching for Maddox.  He’d make this whole thing worthwhile. It was his idea for me to walk at graduation. I was all set to skip it, but he insisted that I needed to do the traditional thing, and he and my parents would drive up for a nice visit.

Against the odds, I found him. His pink spiked hair stood out. How could it not? He grinned and waved frantically.

Worth it. Totally worth it. I would do anything to see that smile. To earn that smile.

Let’s hope it stayed in place after I told him about the job offer.

Just a year.

Buy Links –  Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US 

Amazon UK 

About the Author  

Jena began writing in January of 2013 as a New Year’s Resolution–and so far she has stuck to it!

She lives in Michigan. By day she works as a web developer, and at night she writes. Born and raised on a farm, she spends most of her free time outdoors, playing in the garden, or riding her horses. She also helps run the family dairy farm.

Social Media Links

Blog/Website

Twitter

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