Review: Sinking City

Sinking City reminded me of a mash up between Shadowhunters and the Volturi from Twilight (hold on before you judge that… just talking about the structure of magical Italian politics). It’s one of those YA stories that has action from sentence one straight through to the last page. Set in Venice you have all of the beautiful ambience of the ancient city with the tradition and politics of a magical Mafia.
Zan is our main male character who is the son of one of the Capo’s and is like most teen sons, not quite what his father envisions. The family is what’s called in this world, Skilled, which means they have varied magical powers with a history that stems all the way back to Galileo. When an American family moves into town, Zan finds himself drawn to the daughter, Ellie, who is just your average girl. This is frowned upon, queue your forbidden romance. Interestingly, the more time they spend together, the more forbidden the romance becomes because she finds herself embroiled in the brewing magical tensions between Zan’s family and their rivals.

I really enjoyed the world building and the interesting way magic manifested in this world, although there were a few times where I felt it was convenient they happened to have a certain power at a certain time. There is also insta-love which is not my favorite but they acted appropriately for teenagers so the steam was at a perfect level for me. There’s lots of intrigue and betrayal and I appreciated that there was a clear ending even though this is a series. I’m looking forward to checking out the next installment.

Thanks so much to the authors for providing me a copy in exchange for my honest opinion.


One of the powers in this one is to be able to share memories so that people can see events through your POV, what’s a memory you would want to share with someone?

~ Dana

Review: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

I’ve been a little bit of a reading slump since 2021 started so I thought I’d do something I don’t often do, I’d try a re-read of an old classic I haven’t read since I was young. I have this gorgeous old set from my childhood which I had to read with care.
My thoughts reading as an adult is that these were written with real care to be mindful that the readers were young impressionable minds. I appreciate that, middle grade reads these days often deal with heavy topics and have children thinking and acting well beyond their years. The Pevensie children are, of course, thrust into rather otherworldly situations but they deal with them as children of their age. There are harsh lessons meted out but with kid gloves.
I was amazed at how descriptive Lewis was with the world. In a very short novel you are quickly immersed in the beauty of Narnia. There isn’t a ton of description about the magic or how it came to be in the first book that makes it easier to read. Although I wonder why some of the cast got proper names and yet He-Beaver and She-Beaver were not.


The main action doesn’t really start until the final quarter and then it goes quite quickly. I wished for more detail there rather than a fairy tale glazing.


Still a lovely story with positive messages and still wish I could throttle Edmund. We all have one of *those* siblings, don’t we? Giving this one ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 as an adult reviewer.


Have you ever gone back to do a re-read of a childhood favorite as an adult?

~ Dana

BOOK TOUR & REVIEW: A Twist of Karma

Ok, I’ll be honest, during this one there were a few times where I wondered what type of book I was reading. The first 30% is about Jennifer’s spiritual conversion to Buddhism at a retreat in Sri Lanka after her daughter’s death, this was a well written treatise on grief and recovery. When Jennifer returns and tries to pick up with her life, she becomes somewhat embroiled in the mystery of a serial killer that is haunting Santa Monica. It is not initially clear about how these two stories fit together. I would say it’s akin to the Egyptology in Jodi Picoult’s Book of Two Ways, it’s setting you up for the progression of the climax of the story. But, I could see how it could be overkill to some. I enjoyed it as it was well done as you were learning with Jennifer rather than having facts thrown at you seemingly for no reason.

The murder mystery comes in and out, so don’t go in expecting a straightforward detective story or thriller. The story is more about Jennifer’s progression and how her actions have brought her into this place. She is tortured by the idea that her daughter’s soul is not at peace. The paranormal elements were well done and super creepy; reading this one before bed left me with some crazy dreams!

Thanks to Blackthorn Book Tours for a copy in exchange for my honest opinion. This one is on Kindle Unlimited so easy to grab a copy if this sounds like it might be for you.


In this story, Jennifer needs to be really hit over the head with the fact that she must act to help her daughter and these murdered women. If you were visited by a ghost, do you think you’d be the same or would you jump into action right away?

~ Dana

REVIEW: Tomorrow Will Be Better

“Tomorrow – next month – next year. Everything was always going to be better in the future. And suddenly the future had come. It was a brief present. Too soon it would merge into the past to be remembered.”

————————————

Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is one of my favorite classic novels. With Tomorrow Will Be Better, she continues her exploration into the tenor of life NY in the 1920s. This novel focuses more on the generational pain of poverty. Margy’s story highlights the dynamics of many families and their different ways of surviving. You see how each generation dreams for more, for a bigger life than they’ve been given but finds themselves settling hoping to make their life into more than it is.

This novel is equal measures of heartbreak and hope. There are times where you are frustrated with each character and other times where you want to sob for them. I wished for 100 more pages to see where they each ended up.

There are lots of trigger warnings for this one, it is not a story for the faint hearted, its a beautiful story that is well done but it deals with issues like domestic abuse, racism, infant loss and suicide.

Thanks to Harper Perennial for a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.

Do you have any classic reads on your upcoming TBR?

~ Dana

Pub Day Review: Black Buck

“Most superheroes don’t know they’re superheroes until they get caught up in a moment, just like you. Something either overcomes them, showing them a glimpse of their hidden powers, or they’re pushed so far past their limitations that they have no choice by to succumb to whatever makes them special.”

“Life, like sales, comes with an endless amount of opportunities to do the wrong thing to win.”

——————————————–

What if Tyler Durden had been black instead of spreading mayhem he had been trying to teach selling skills to ambitious POC?  That’s Black Buck.  

The titular character, Darren AKA Buck goes from rags to riches by making two key sales in his career. One morning, he upsells a yuppy white a**hole an alternative caffeine vehicle at his Starbucks job and suddenly he’s thrust into a new career and ultimately new life. Initially, he is throttled by the impudence of a team of white sales robots who underestimate and belittle him because he is black. But over time, he begins to drink the sales Kool-Aid… and believe me, if you’ve ever worked in a high pressure sales organization, Askaripour nails the character of the over-driven sales douche to a T.  He also accurately satirizes start-up culture with little nuance and it’s amazing. Buck’s second major sale comes at a vital time for the company and it thrusts him into the stratosphere of money and fame. After many accusations of becoming an Uncle Tom, he finds himself reluctantly shepherding other smart, ambitious POC on how to get what they want out of life trying to prove that being successful has nothing to do with race.

Along the journey you will grit your teeth with anger over the injustice both upon Buck and perpetrated by him. You will laugh and roll your eyes at the absurdity of the situations he finds himself in and those he puts others in. You will flush in shame as Buck forgets who he is, where he’s come from and who got him there; but you just might swell with pride at Buck’s evolution by the end… or will you?

Thanks to Netgalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.

This coffee spread is my husband’s as I don’t like hot drinks and therefore have never tried coffee. What’s your go-to coffee order?

~ Dana

REVIEW: Crown of Bones

You all know I adore YA fantasy and this book does not disappoint! It has a great group of powerful young friends learning to ace their magic (think Harry Potter), it has magical spirit creatures unique to each individual (think His Dark Materials), it has a drool worthy pirate (think Jack Sparrow) and a fabulous scribe who just may be more important than anyone knows (think Samwell Tarly from Game of Thrones). They start off on a harrowing journey fraught with danger and just may discover their true selves and save the world along the way (think LOTR). 

Honestly, I was so caught up in the journey that I was a bit sad when it ended, I could have read a whole book of them just trying to reach their destination because it was so compelling. Luckily, the second they stop journeying, there is a whole new exciting magical place to explore. There are a lot of fun reveals throughout with plenty of questions answered and more teasers dropped for the next book in the series. I’m really looking forward to the next book in this series.

From a writing standpoint, I liked the short, action packed chapters that alternated POVs. There was not a second where there wasn’t something happening or a new magical world building idea being revealed. There’s a map and convenient terms glossary at the back for folks who struggle with too many new terms or names at one time.

Thank you so much to Entangled Teen and AK Wilder for a copy of this lovely new release Crown of Bones.

This one publishes tomorrow so get your pre-orders in now! I’m doing a fun giveaway for this book over on my Instagram page so go check it out!

~ Dana

December reading wrap up

I read 24 books in December – my favorite of which was Gideon the Ninth.

The Woman in the Cupboard ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A Rogue of One’s Own ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Circle ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Keeper of the Light ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Gideon the Ninth ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Big Summer ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Willie ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

EDGE: Killer Thriller Anthology ⭐️⭐️⭐️

D: A Tale of Two Worlds ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Die with Zero ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Winter Counts ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Her Mother’s Grave ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Spellmaker ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Carols and Chaos ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Pride & Prejudice & Mistletoe ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Tender is the Flesh ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

One Day in December ⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Afterlife of Holly Chase ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Walking with Ghosts ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Crown of Bones ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Tomorrow will be Better ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Sinking City ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Tree of Life ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

What was your favorite read of the month?

~ Dana

January Hopefuls

Here are my TBR choices for January. These have all been on my shelf for a while and I’m going to do my darndest to stick to this list this month. Last month I read 8 of the 9 that I had picked out at the beginning of the month… so go me!!  


My aim this month is to buy no new books and only read what’s on the shelf… although my husband would point out that books still keep arriving… but those are pre-orders and subscription boxes…

I’m gonna go through them in more detail and why I’ve chosen them. I’ll skip Dark Tides since I went on and on about that one yesterday.

Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

Full confession, I’ve never read Diane Chamberlain before. Eek! Sorry! But, I have this great group of booksta-ladies based in NC who I’ve joined into a book club with and each month we pick an NC author to buddy read together. Diane Chamberlain is from NC and this book is based in NC and the publisher was looking to do some press for the paperback release out on Jan 5th (check my insta for a giveaway). So I’ll be reading this one with them.

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

This one has been calling to me since its release. I love sci-fi and the goal is to make sure to read more diversely. Truthfully, I hate starting a series without the second book on the near horizon but I’ve got so much FOMO about this one that I just have to do it!

The End of the Ocean by Maja Lunde

First, the cover – how could you not want to know what’s in this book? Plus it’s dystopian fiction centered around an adventurous journey. Totally up my alley. I’m hoping this one lives up to my hopes for it.

Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco

I discovered Audrey Rose and Thomas in the fall of last year and loved the series so much that I wanted to meter out reading them to enjoy it for longer. I don’t have any particular affinity for magic or Houdini but am interested in whatever scrape brings Audrey into his grasp.

Vox by Christina Dalcher

Two dystopians in one month… can I handle it? LOL yes, 2020 is over so I’m hoping it’s not too disheartening to delve into a terrible future in 2021. This one has serious Handmaid’s Tale vibes and I’m excited for it!

The Rusted Scalpel by Timothy Browne

I was lucky enough to grab a Timothy Browne book on Netgalley and the author offered to send me copies of the whole series. So I’m working my way through them. I reviewed Maya Hope back on November 21st. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3648252083?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1 I will soon be posting my review of The Tree of Life soon.

Queen of the Conquered by Kacen Callender

Another BIPOC fantasy that I’ve seen rave reviews for. Now that the second book is out and I’ve got both in my hot little hands I’m ready to dive in!

Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski

So, I’ve been wanting to check out The Witcher for a long time but as a purest, I wanted to read the books before checking out the show. I got the first three books for my secret Santa at work so now I’m ready to check it out.

Dead Astronauts by Jeff VanderMeer

I am a sucker for mind trips through the multi-verse. This one is either going to be amazing or a DNF. I’m mentally prepared for that… bring it on!!

Have you ever put yourself on a book buying ban?

~ Dana

Throwback Review: Tidelands Philippa Gregory

How do I love Philippa Gregory? Let me count the ways. Like every millennial-esque person I started binging her books after seeing The Other Boleyn Girl movie… and as they always say the book IS better than the movie. I’ve read everything in her backlog, even the Wideacre series (which I enjoyed BTW).

I picked up Tidelands September 17th 2019 while journeying through Heathrow on my way home from the Retina Society meeting in London. It had been a long week of peopling for an introvert like me and it was my husband’s first trip to London so we had been busy. I was looking for a nice escape on the trip home, so 1640’s England it was. I devoured the book, finishing it on the flight. It ended up in my top ten reads of the year.

Just as an FYI – there are SPOILERS below so don’t read beyond if you’re not looking to ruin the book for yourself! I am writing this from memory because my reviews back then were like three sentences but there are still major plot points that are spoiled.

You’ve been WARNED!

What did I like

The Characters

Alinor is an excellent protagonist she is young an uneducated but strong and passionate. She is surrounded by suspicion as she is from a long line of “wise women” or in modern terms, witches. When she goes out one night to perform a ritual to escape from her husband she runs into a man. This man is a complete stranger to the town and in offering to help him, she of course, falls in love. Turns out that he is a priest. Yeah, whoopsie.

Alinor knew her way out of poverty and obscurity was with a man, which in a modern story would frustrate me, but for the time they’re living in, I found her strangely empowered. There is a lot of strife on the path she has chosen but she sees it as her only chance to escape the life that’s been written for her.

She is is tragically beautiful with such complex depth and devotion to her family and what is right. 

The Location

Having this story take place in the remote salt marshes away from the hustle and bustle of London added to the intrigue. The intensity of the rumors and suspicion were ten fold in this small town where everyone knows everyone and where they go and what they do. Reminded me a lot in tone of The Crucible or the Scarlet Letter.

The news of the politics in the royal court during the times of Civil War certainly play in and add so much tenor to the story. This hits a high note as the story reaches its conclusion, if you can call it that.

The Story Pacing

I love minutiae in historical fiction. I want to feel like I’m living in the days they lived. This story was slow and measured and that helped not only fill in the historical gaps of the lives of regular people but also to build suspense. As you read, there is so much dread for Alinor and her future.

What frustrated me…

Insta-love

This one always frustrates me. I know Alinor is young so that explains some of it for me, young people do rush in head first and she was coming out of a terrible marriage. Secondly, as I said above, I think some of her love was actually directed at the idea of getting out of the life she had. The idea of a better life glamourizes lots of people into bad decisions.

Catty women

I get it, the idea is to build the rumors and suspicion. Accuse or be accused. But I hate that regardless of the time point in history it’s always women against women. Can’t we ever get a glimmer anywhere of women, even secretly, being supportive of one another?

The End

Lots of questions introduced with an aim for the next book… I suppose this is ok for a series but generally leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth. I got over it in this case because I really enjoyed the ride.


So now the sequel is here and I’m trilled to be starting off 2021 with it. What’s your first read of 2021?

~ Dana

GOODBYE 2020 and HELLO 2021! 🍾

🎉 HAPPY NEW YEAR’S EVE!! 🎆

I hope everyone has a safe evening and a lovely day tomorrow celebrating the transition into a new chapter. I am grateful we have a chance at hope on the horizon. My family has lost 7 loved ones this year but we’ve had 2 new faces brought into the world. Our lives have changed immensely this year and while I didn’t fly the 100,000 miles I’m used to or spend 120 nights on the road, I am grateful I still have a job and for the time with my husband (he’s a complete angel to have sat and blown up all these balloons for me!). I am choosing to focus on the positive. I’ve been able to focus on my passions while stuck at home, I’ve read and written more than ever. And now I have this beautiful library and 265 books read in 2020.

I hope everyone has a lovely evening and a great year ahead! 🥂

For 2021, I’m trying to be less rigid and scheduled and follow my passions more. I’m also focusing on growing my new website openmypages.com.

What are some of your 2021 goals?

~ Dana