Sarana and the Dark King by Ivy Keating


source: free review copy from the author
title: Sarana and the Dark King
author: Ivy Keating
genre: fantasy
pages: 268
published: March 22, 2021
first line: In ancient times, a powerful sorcerer played a trick on the rulers by creating maps with the location of tarilium, the strongest metal in existence.

Blurb:
The fearsome Dark King of Bounten, with a magical creature known as a Valomere by his side, is on a quest to find the rare metal tarilium. His brutal ways incite the powerful psychic Allani. But when news of his plans to invade the kingdom of Attaveer spread, a new opponent emerges—Sarana, the daughter of a farmer…or is she?

At birth Sarana was sentenced to death for her “cursed” white hair. The delivery nurse, Meriden, whisked the fair-haired babe to a loving home across the waters from Bounten. Her entire life she hid her appearance to avoid prejudice. Things changed when she discovered she too had a Valomere. She strived to learn the creature’s magic and master fighting skills with the hope of becoming a warrior. Her dreams came true when she was allowed to join the Attaveerian king’s network of spies–a group poised to help defend the kingdom from an invasion by the Dark King and his powerful army.

When word of the white-haired messenger reached the Dark King he vowed to stop at nothing to capture or kill his opponent.

The time for hiding is over.

Can Sarana save herself and her kingdom? Follow Sarana from death to destiny as she joins forces with psychics, Valomeres, and the power of inner strength, to defeat an evil king.


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My thoughts:
Sarana and the Dark King by Ivy Keating is an entertaining read centered around the Dark King, a gifted young woman named Sarana and the magical beasts the Valomeres.

The story begins Sarana is born with bright hair, infected eyes and a pale complexion all of which can be taken for a curse. In order to keep Sarana safe, nurse and healer Meriden whisks her away to safety while telling everyone the child has died. Meriden takes Sarana to her sister and brother in law who raise her as their own in Attaveer.

Without giving too much away, as Sarana grows up, the Dark King of Bounten continues to be obsessed with the rarest metal tarilium. Also woven into the storyline is the King wanting an heir from his Queen while keeping his mistress hidden on the side. The King’s mistress has a sister named Alani who is an oracle and who wants to take the Dark King down and free her captive sister.

As the plot twists and turns Sarana learns there will be war over the tarilium. With the help of her friends and her Valomere named Halo Sarana is willing to fight against the King and defend her homeland of Attaveer. It all culminates to an exciting ending where secrets are revealed and the story closes with the hint of more to come.

The story is brimming with adventure and the plot twists and turns made Sarana and the Dark King an engaging read. The author writes the main characters in such a way that you are drawn into the storyline immediately. I also enjoyed the imaginative world building. However, I would have liked further details as to some of what was going on. Specifically with the magical Valomeres and their powers because some of their abilities seemed unclear to me.

All in all, while fantasy is not my usual genre I enjoyed this one and I would recommend it if you’re looking for an entertaining adventure.

“The land in Attaveer was mostly flat with gentle rolling hills. It piqued her imagination when he spoke about the topography of his kingdom. There were mountains and waterfalls that spilled into rapids. He also told her about the native animals, like bears and caribou.”- 26% Kindle app, Sarana and the Dark King


“The oracle never liked the king of Bounten. His policy on metal taxes caused too much suffering, but now his behavior affected her personally. With Whisper curled up on the floor next to her, she could read him well. Tonight, she learned about his plans to trick the kingdoms and prepare his army to invade Attaveer.- 58% Kindle app, Sarana and the Dark King


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Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I received a free copy of Sarana and the Dark King by Ivy Keating from the author in exchange for my honest thoughts. Some of these links are affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small affiliate commission.

Her Three Lives by Cate Holahan





source: free ARC via Meryl Moss Media
title: Her Three Lives
author: Cate Holahan
genre: thriller/suspense
pages: 338
published: April 20, 2021
first line: She would make them late.
rated: 4 out of 5 stars


blurb:
Gaslight goes high-tech in USA Today bestselling author Cate Holahan’s new standalone thriller in which a family must determine who the real enemy is after a brutal home invasion breaks their trust in each other.

My thoughts:
Her Three Lives by Cate Holahan was a thrilling read that had me hooked from page one. Having read and enjoyed One Little Secret a few years ago by this same author I was curious about this one.

As the book starts off Jade Thompson and her fiancé Greg are getting ready to go out one evening. Greg opens his front door thinking there is a package delivery and he ends up the victim of a brutal attack that leaves him nearly dead with a brain injury. Two attackers enter the house and also steal Jade’s expensive engagement ring but nothing else. Jade is also injured in the attack.

As Greg begins the healing process with the support of his ex-wife, his two children and Jade, the question of who tried to kill him is at the forefront. Greg installs security cameras in his home but they only make him increasingly obsessed and paranoid. He is also suffering from PTSD after the attack.

The detectives assigned to the case are leaving no stone unturned. They start looking into Jade’s line of work as a social influencer and a blogger hoping to find any clues in some of the comments on her blog posts.

I sat down one Saturday afternoon with Her Three Lives and finished it up the next morning. After being in a book slump for months it was refreshing being able to find myself so immersed in a thrilling read like this one.

I had no idea who attacked Greg and Jade. As the story unfolded I started to dislike Greg more and more. A successful architect in his late fifties he is in the process of getting a divorce when he meets Jade. He is smitten with her and I think by six months into the relationship they are engaged. Jade is thirty something and close to her mother but estranged from her father.
I found this quote in regards to how Jade feels about her father particularly insightful:
“She hadn’t known her father long enough to truly love him as an individual. If anything, she loved him as an idea”.-p141, Her Three Lives by Cate Holahan

Jade is the opposite of Greg, her family is from Jamaica, she is a social media influencer/blogger and it seems that she’s his mid-life crisis relationship in some regards. Jade can take of herself financially but Greg is wealthy and makes millions on commission on certain accounts so Jade definitely has motive to have him murdered. These two are both hiding some secrets.

Greg’s family dynamics seemed realistic and he is still amicable with his ex-wife Leah. His daughter Violet openly dislikes and suspects Jade and she hopes her parents will get back together. Their son seems to be more accepting of the relationship. Speaking of the ex-wife Leah, that lady is ride or die when it comes to her kids.

Author Cate Holahan continues to pen thrilling reads with twists and turns that have you guessing until the very end. As the book went on I had no idea who attacked Greg until the author revealed it. It made sense and the story was wrapped up nicely and even culminated in a bittersweet ending.
I recommend Her Three Lives if you enjoy suspenseful thrillers centered around families.

“Sadness had replaced her anger. Sadness and shame.-p.303, Her Three Lives by Cate Holahan”

Special thanks to Meryl Moss Media for my review copy.


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About the Author:
Cate Holahan is the USA Today bestselling author of domestic suspense novels The Widower’s Wife, One Little Secret, Lies She Told, and Dark Turns. In a former life, she was an award-winning journalist, writing for The Record, The Boston Globe, and BusinessWeek, among others. She was also the lead singer of Leaving Kinzley, an original rock band in NYC.
She lives in NJ with her husband, two daughters, and food-obsessed dog, and spends a disturbing amount of time highly-caffeinated, mining her own anxieties for material.-quoted from Amazon

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Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I received a copy of Her Three Lives by Cate Holahan from Meryl Moss Media in exchange for my honest thoughts. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. If you click on the link and purchase the book I will receive a small affiliate commission.
The book photo is my own and is not to be removed from this post.

Brave Girl, Quiet Girl by Catherine Ryan Hyde

brave
source: free ARC via Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing
title: Brave Girl, Quiet Girl by Catherine Ryan Hyde
published: May 19th 2020
genre: fiction
pages: 300
first line: It started that day with just the normal levels of my mother driving me crazy.
rated: 4 out of 5 stars
starstarstarstar
blurb:
Brooke is a divorced single mom, financially strapped, living with her mother, and holding tight to the one thing that matters most: her two-year-old daughter, Etta. Then, in a matter of seconds, Brooke’s life is shattered when she’s carjacked. Helpless and terrified, all Brooke can do is watch as Etta, still strapped in her seat, disappears into the Los Angeles night.

Miles away, Etta is found by Molly, a homeless teen who is all too used to darkness. Thrown away by her parents, and with a future as stable as the wooden crate she calls home, Molly survives day to day by her wits. As unpredictable as her life is, she’s stunned to find Etta, abandoned and alone. Shielding the little girl from more than the elements, Molly must put herself in harm’s way to protect a child as lost as she is.

Out of one terrible moment, Brooke’s and Molly’s desperate paths converge and an unlikely friendship across generations and circumstances is formed. With it, Brooke and Molly will come to discover that what’s lost—and what’s found—can change in a heartbeat.

my thoughts:
If you want to read an emotional story revolving around important issues that will pull at your heartstrings may I suggest Brave Girl, Quiet Girl by Catherine Ryan Hyde.

As the story starts off Brooke is a 30 something divorced single mom living with her mother and 2 year old daughter Etta. Brooke takes Etta out one evening to the movies when she is carjacked and dragged out of the car. The carjacker proceeds to speed off with baby Etta still in her car-seat. A mother’s worst nightmare right?

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Mrs. Lincoln’s Sisters by Jennifer Chiaverini

lincoln
source: free ARC via NetGalleyHarper Collins
title: Mrs. Lincoln’s Sisters
author: Jennifer Chiaverini
genre: historical fiction
published: June 2, 2020
pages: 352
first line: A whimsical breeze rustled the paper beneath Elizabeth’s pen as she wrote in the garden, but she held the sheet firmly against the table with her left hand and it was not carried aloft.
rated: 5 out of 5 stars
starstarstarstarstar

blurb:
The New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker returns to her most famous heroine, Mary Todd Lincoln, in this compelling story of love, loss, and sisterhood rich with history and suspense.

In May 1875, Elizabeth Todd Edwards reels from news that her younger sister Mary, former First Lady and widow of President Abraham Lincoln, has attempted suicide.

Mary’s shocking act followed legal proceedings arranged by her eldest and only surviving son that declared her legally insane. Although they have long been estranged, Elizabeth knows Mary’s tenuous mental health has deteriorated through decades of trauma and loss. Yet is her suicide attempt truly the impulse of a deranged mind, or the desperate act of a sane woman terrified to be committed to an asylum? And—if her sisters can put past grievances aside—is their love powerful enough to save her?

Maternal Elizabeth, peacemaker Frances, envious Ann, and much adored Emilie had always turned to one another in times of joy and heartache, first as children, and later as young wives and mothers. But when Civil War erupted, the conflict that divided a nation shattered their family. The Todd sisters’s fates were bound to their husbands’ choices as some joined the Lincoln administration, others the Confederate Army.

Now, though discord and tragedy have strained their bonds, Elizabeth knows they must come together as sisters to help Mary in her most desperate hour.

my thoughts:
I loved Mrs. Lincoln’s Sisters by Jennifer Chiaverini and found myself immersed in the story-line while reading.

As Mrs. Lincoln’s Sisters begins, Elizabeth Todd Edwards receives the news that her estranged sister Mary Todd Lincoln has been declared legally insane and is being committed to a mental institution after attempting suicide.

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Crochet Over 130 Techniques and Stitches by DK

crochet
source: free ARC from Netgalley/ DK publishers
title: Crochet: Over 130 Techniques and Stitches
genre: crochet patterns
published: September 15, 2020
pages: 320
rated: 5 out of 5
crochethookcrochethookcrochethookcrochethookcrochethook

blurb:
Learn more than 130 fully illustrated techniques and stitches and put them into practice as you go, creating 80 imaginative projects for home and to wear.

Packed with step-by-step photography and clear instructions, Crochet has everything you need to crochet a gorgeous array of clothing, home decor items, and toys. Get started with your first crochet hook, work a range of classic granny squares, and discover how to craft delicate lace and openwork pieces. Practice your newly learned skills on simple projects as you move through the book, or dive straight into the dedicated projects chapter, which includes amigurumi and toy designs, blankets and pillows, and clothing for children and adults.

Newly updated with a fresh design and brand-new photography, Crochet is both a perfect guide for beginners and an invaluable resource for more practiced crocheters

my thoughts:
Crochet: Over 130 Techniques and Stitches is a great crochet pattern book full of creative projects. With a variety of patterns, techniques and ideas this one is good for both novice and seasoned crocheters. There is plenty within these pages to give you inspiration.

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