Saturday, 29 June 2019

Review of Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep

Kill the Queen
Crown of Shards #1
by Jennifer Estep
Published 2nd October 2018 by Harper Voyager

Gladiator meets Game of Thrones: a royal woman becomes a skilled warrior to destroy her murderous cousin, avenge her family, and save her kingdom in this first entry in a dazzling fantasy epic from the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Elemental Assassin series—an enthralling tale that combines magic, murder, intrigue, adventure, and a hint of romance.
In a realm where one’s magical power determines one’s worth, Lady Everleigh’s lack of obvious ability relegates her to the shadows of the royal court of Bellona, a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition. Seventeenth in line for the throne, Evie is nothing more than a ceremonial fixture, overlooked and mostly forgotten.
But dark forces are at work inside the palace. When her cousin Vasilia, the crown princess, assassinates her mother the queen and takes the throne by force, Evie is also attacked, along with the rest of the royal family. Luckily for Evie, her secret immunity to magic helps her escape the massacre.
Forced into hiding to survive, she falls in with a gladiator troupe. Though they use their talents to entertain and amuse the masses, the gladiators are actually highly trained warriors skilled in the art of war, especially Lucas Sullivan, a powerful magier with secrets of his own. Uncertain of her future—or if she even has one—Evie begins training with the troupe until she can decide her next move.
But as the bloodthirsty Vasilia exerts her power, pushing Bellona to the brink of war, Evie’s fate becomes clear: she must become a fearsome gladiator herself . . . and kill the queen.


I received a review copy of Kill the Queen a while back in exchange for an open and honest review. I'm so fracking late for this that its sequel, Protect the Prince, is coming out this coming Tuesday. But I've read this book twice and I'm here and this is a review!
Okay, let’s just this bit right out of the way. Lady Everleigh Saffira Winter Blair. Princess Vasilia Victoria Summer Blair. Queen Cordelia Alexandra Summer Blair. The members of the royal line of the kingdom of Bellona have almost as many names as I do, and just for that, I will don a cheerleading uniform and rah-rah-sis-boom-bah all over the place for this book.

I have five names on my birth certificate, so anybody that writes a protagonist with a long-arsed name gets beaucoup bonus points from me. Like, thank you for seeing us kids with the mile-long names and making us feel blessed.
Everleigh, or Evie as she likes to be called, is the designated “royal substitute”, she’s got the title and the blood but she’s nobody so she gets to do anything and everything in the kingdom of Bellona that requires a royal person to participate, oversee, attend, etc. Luncheon with the commoners? Yep. Soup kitchen opening? Yep. Learn hard-to-master dances and languages for one single, but intrinsic for peace, meeting? Yep. Bake a baker’s dozen friendship pies for the ambassador of a neighbouring country? Yep. And that’s where Kill the Queen actually begins, in the kitchen of Seven Spire with the master chef, Isobel cajoling Evie into baking thirteen cranberry-apple pies for the visiting delegation from Andvari. I have discovered that if a story starts with food and a massacre, I will become its biggest fan.



After surviving the royal massacre thanks to her mutt magic (unbeknownst to her cousin and her cohorts), Everleigh secretly takes refuge within the gladiator troupe of a former Queen's Guard by the name of Serilda Swan (I keep wanting to type 'Swann' because I grew up with Mitchell Swann so if there's a typo ahead, that's why!). And, for the first time in her life, she begins to make friends as Evie the gladiator-in-training. But the simple life she builds for herself isn't meant to be, someone has to save her people from her cruel cousin and Evie's the only living Blair left to do it. I love the reluctant hero angle every single time. Like, "I guess if there's nobody else and the world's going to hell if I don't do it, I'll do it, but I want everybody to know that this wasn't my first choice." I get it, I totally get it.
Reading Kill the Queen was an entertaining experience, from beginning to end. Both times! The banter between Sullivan and Evie kept me laughing and I could almost see those sparks flying. Lady Xenia was a delightfully sour addition that I would love a dance lesson from. Okay, probably not. My dancing skills are probably worse than Evie's were. Evie's new best friend (no name for you, because spoiler) is weird and loyal to the gates of Tartarus and I adore that. You don't need a million okay-ish friends if you have just one friend like that. Also, Evie's cousin, Vasilia, beats the odds and presents as a narcissistic sociopath and I'm totally with Serilda on that one. Judge me. 
Basically, I'm in love with everything about Kill the Queen. The title, the cover, the plot, the banter, the worldbuilding, the mysterious nursery rhyme, the journey Evie takes from a scared and purposefully timid woman to a powerful gladiator like her ancestress, the only thing that could make this book better is if it came with the recipe for Everleigh's cranberry-apple pie. I didn't know about cranberry-apple pies and I've been obsessing over their existence for almost a year now. I finally set in to recreate Evie's pie for myself and do you know how many recipes I dug through to find that nobody in my family, living or dead, has an apple-cranberry pie? So I took to the internet and found Sally's Apple Cranberry Pie! I decided to candy the orange zest and mince it to create "orange crystals" like Evie uses in the book because I've never encountered any such thing in my years of baking. I'm saving this one in my recipe binder, y'all.

Overall, I give Kill the Queen 5 stars and 1 slightly flickering flame for heat, mild heat, but it's there. Ms Estep succeeds in winning my heart by tying the brutality of gladiators and royalty together in a way I haven't seen in a young adult novel before and I cannot wait to read more from her.



Favourite Quotes


Summer queens are fine and fair,
with pretty ribbons and flowers in their hair.

Winter queens are cold and hard,
with frosted crowns made of icy shards.


 
"You have to live. ... You have to survive, no matter what you have to do, no matter who you have to cheat and hurt and kill, no matter what the cost is to your heart and soul. Do you hear me, Everleigh? You have to live. You have to protect Bellona. Promise me you'll do that." 
"I Promise. ... I promise to protect Bellona until my dying breath."
"The Queen is dead. ...... Long live the Queen."


Jennifer Estep is a New York TimesUSA Today, and international bestselling author, prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea.
Jennifer is currently a full-time author. Before that, she worked as a features writer and page designer for a daily newspaper and has ore than 10 years of journalism experience. She's a member of Romance Writers of AmericaScience Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and other writing groups.
Jennifer's books have been featured in CosmopolitanEntertainment WeeklySouthern Living, and a variety of other publications. You can follow her on FacebookGoodreads, and Twitter. You can also sign up for her newsletter to receive updates, book recommendations, recipes, and more.
Jennifer's books are available in print, audio, and e-book formats from a variety of retailers, including the following: AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks A MillioniBooksKoboAudible, and Brilliance Audio.



Alrighty, So this is the end of the review. Manatee got an antibiotic-resistant ear infection when we were swimming so we've been visiting the vet a bit frequently this month and getting his ear vacuumed and antibiotics and special ear wash and my wallet cries. So I didn't do much for my birthday tis past Tuesday. But I wasn't in much of a celebration mood anyway. My friend, Ashley, whom I've known since before I was born (our moms were friends growing up and Ashley and my brother went to the same special needs daycare facility) left this world Sunday morning. I've been rapidly cycling through the stages of grief over and over since I found out on her birthday that she was dying and there was a spiral episode and it got ugly there for a minute. Anyways. My charity to highlight right now is Rett Syndrome Foundation, while Rett Syndrome isn't a part of my world without Ashley, it still exists and it doesn't get much attention because it mostly affects girls. Until next time, dear readers, have a happily ever after.

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Down the TBR Hole ★ 12

Down the TBR Hole is a bookish meme created by Lia @ Lost in a Story.
Down the TBR Hole 411
Down The TBR Hole is a meme that revolves around cleansing your TBR of all those books you’re never going to read and sort through it all to know what’s actually on there. Most of you probably know this feeling, your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well that’s going to change!
It works like this:
• Order on ascending date added.
• Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
• Read the synopses of the books
• Decide: Keep it or should it go?


We're back again with the segment known as Down the TBR Hole! Fasten your seatbelts, keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times, Once Upon a Time, I Read a Book and its owner is not responsible for any additions to your TBR list and is indemnified in any book buying that occurs as a result.

Little Big Love by Katy Regan
About a Boy meets Parenthood in this smart, big-hearted love story about a family for whom everything changed one night, a decade ago, and the young boy who unites them all.
Told through the eyes of Zac, Juliet, and grandfather Mick, Little Big Love is a layered, heartfelt, utterly satisfying story about family, love, and the secrets that can define who we are.
Tidbit
Little Big Love was an attempt to step outside of my comfort zone but I'm just not feeling it anymore, y'all. I like my cosy little corner of things and I don't want to leave it. I'm going to remove this one from my TBR.

The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton
A KINGDOM AT RISK, A CROWN DIVIDED, A FAMILY DRENCHED IN BLOOD.
Tessa Gratton's debut epic adult fantasy, The Queens of Innis Lear, brings to life a world that hums with ancient magic, and characters as ruthless as the tides.
The erratic decisions of a prophecy-obsessed king have drained Innis Lear of its wild magic, leaving behind a trail of barren crops and despondent subjects. Enemy nations circle the once-bountiful isle, sensing its growing vulnerability, hungry to control the ideal port for all trade routes.
The king’s three daughters – battle-hungry Gaela, master manipulator Reagan, and restrained, starblessed Elia – know the realm’s only chance of resurrection is to crown a new sovereign, proving a strong hand can resurrect magic and defend itself. But their father will not choose an heir until the longest night of the year, when prophecies align and a poison ritual can be enacted.
Refusing to leave their future in the hands of blind faith, the daughters of Innis Lear prepare for war – but regardless of who wins the crown, the shores of Innis will weep the blood of a house divided.
Tidbit

I got caught up in the hype for this one, the covers kill me but the concept is just not something I'm fond of reading. There's enough family strife in my actual life, reading about it would not be a pleasurable event. And, honestly, reading is pure pleasure for me. We're going to remove this one from my TBR.

Before Goodbye by Mimi Cross
Music means more than anything to high school student Cate Reese; it’s also what unites her with Cal Woods. Devoted classical guitar players, Cate and Cal are childhood friends newly smitten by love—until a devastating car accident rips Cal out of Cate’s life forever. Blaming herself for the horrific tragedy and struggling to surface from her despair, Cate spirals downhill in a desperate attempt to ease her pain.
Fellow student David Bennet might look like the school’s golden boy, but underneath the surface the popular athlete battles demons of his own. Racked with survivor’s guilt after his brother’s suicide, things get worse when tragedy darkens his world again—but connecting with Cate, his sister’s longtime babysitter, starts bringing the light back in.
As Cate and David grow closer, the two shattered teenagers learn to examine the pieces of their lives…and, together, find a way to be whole again.
Tidbit

I am Not Good with Loss Of Soulmate Stories. I think I got sucked in by the musical romance thing. I have weaknesses. So for my health and safety, I'm going to remove this one from my TBR.

Death Be Blue by Katie Epstein
She can glimpse visions of the past, present, and future but she doesn’t know when, how, or why. She only knows the outcome, and it doesn’t look good…
Being human is hard enough. Being human with psychic abilities is worse. It was for Terra Vane anyway, until she immigrated to Portiside. There she feels at home in the thriving city of the Fey, Shifters, Vampires, and other gifted humans.
Where there are many factions of creatures, however, crime and skirmishes are to be expected. With a stubbornness born out of years of being deemed a “freak,” Terra’s determination and unique ability serve her well as an Enforcer Field Agent for the Portiside City Agency.
Alongside her annoying wolf-shifting partner, Kaleb, there is no case that is too strange to solve. No case too dangerous—until there is, and the trail of bloodlust leads them to unravel a mystery that threatens Portiside as they know it.
Tidbit

I really like the sound of the synopsis on this one and I'm totally here for the freak squad solidarity. So I bought a copy when it came out. Now I've just got to get some time to read it. Death Be Blue is temporarily staying on my TBR as it'll soon be read!

These men are dark, bold, and brave. And there is only one woman who can bring them to their knees...
Famed and brilliant, Lady Alexandra Lane has always known how to look out for to herself. But nobody would ever expect that she has darkness in her past—one that she pays a blackmailer to keep buried. Now, with her family nearing bankruptcy, Alexandra strikes upon a solution: Get married to one of the empire’s most wealthy eligible bachelors. Even if he does have the reputation of a devil.

LOVE TAKES NO PRISONERS

Piers Gedrick Atherton, the Duke of Redmayne, is seeking revenge and the first step is securing a bride. Winning a lady’s hand is not so easy, however, for a man known as the Terror of Torcliff. Then, Alexandra enters his life like a bolt of lightning. When she proposes marriage, Piers knows that, like him, trouble haunts her footsteps. But her gentleness, sharp wit, independent nature, and incredible beauty awakens every fierce desire within him. He will do whatever it takes to keep her safe in his arms.
Tidbit

I actually can't wait for this one, I pretty much just wanted to say "hey, lookit this book that's coming out in the Fall!" So I'm keeping this on my TBR.

Total Books Kept 2
Total Books Removed 3


I am losing track of what day of the week it is in the midst of everything going on. One of my friends since birth died Sunday morning. Manatee got an antibiotic-resistant ear infection while we were swimming so we've been at the vet's a couple of times this month for ear cleanings and meds. I keep forgetting to actually post things, I write them but forget to click "publish" after typing everything up and scheduling things on the calendar. Yeah, that's my level of ditz. So let's just cross the fingers that I remember to post them.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Happy Book Birthday to The Great Unexpected

I was asked about participating in a book tour for The Great Unexpected earlier this year but my planner said "nope"  but I had to do something since, y'all, we have the same birthday! So here it is!

Happy book birthday to Dan Mooney and The Great Unexpected!

A curmudgeon and his eccentric new roommate join together to plan an epic escape in this charming, poignant tale.
Joel lives in a nursing home, and he’s not one bit happy about it. He hates being told when to eat, when to sleep, when to take his pills. He’s fed up with life and begins to plan a way out when his new roommate, a retired soap opera actor named Frank, moves in and turns the nursing-home community upside down.
Though the two men couldn’t be more opposite, a fast friendship is formed when Frank is the only one who listens to and stands up for Joel. When he tells Frank about his burgeoning plan, they embark together on a mission to find the perfect escape, and along the way will discover that it’s never too late for new beginnings.
Filled with colorful characters, sparkling humor and deep emotion, The Great Unexpected is the story of friendship, finding oneself later in life and experiencing newfound joy in the most unexpected places.



Dan Mooney is a 35-year-old amateur filmmaker and air traffic controller, the author of Me, Myself and Them, and a friend to many cats. He wrote his first piece of fiction for a child-operated local newspaper at age ten and has been writing ever since. He lives in Ireland.







Now, I'm off to have all the birthday goodies from club memberships in Orlando. Cupcakes and coffees and ice creams and discounts and I am thirty years old and I shall enjoy this day!

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Down the TBR Hole ★ 11

Down the TBR Hole is a bookish meme created by Lia @ Lost in a Story.
Down the TBR Hole 411
Down The TBR Hole is a meme that revolves around cleansing your TBR of all those books you’re never going to read and sort through it all to know what’s actually on there. Most of you probably know this feeling, your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well that’s going to change!
It works like this:
• Order on ascending date added.
• Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
• Read the synopses of the books
• Decide: Keep it or should it go?


We're back again with the segment known as Down the TBR Hole! Fasten your seatbelts, keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times, Once Upon a Time, I Read a Book and its owner is not responsible for any additions to your TBR list and is indemnified in any book buying that occurs as a result.

Furyborn by Claire Legrand
The stunningly original, must-read fantasy of 2018 follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world...or doom it.
When assassins ambush her best friend, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing herself as one of a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light, and a queen of blood. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven elemental magic trials. If she fails, she will be executed...unless the trials kill her first.
One thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a fairy tale to Eliana Ferracora. A bounty hunter for the Undying Empire, Eliana believes herself untouchable--until her mother vanishes. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain and discovers that the evil at the empire's heart is more terrible than she ever imagined.
As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world--and of each other.
Tidbit
Honestly, it's nothing against the book or the author, I just can't read stories or watch programmes that have constant time jumps and the like. It makes me overthink myself into a corner and I can get off-the-rails a bit. So I avoid any story that has time as a component. The synopsis reads as if this will be taking place in two time periods, intersecting, shifting back and forth, etc. I'm making the choice to abstain from this one for my sanity. If I'm wrong on this assumption, please, let me know!
Code Name Camelot by David Archer
After witnessing the murder-suicide of his parents as a child, Noah suffers from a form of PTSD that has left him without emotion, without a conscience and without the ability to function as a normal human being. With the help of childhood friends, he learns to watch others around him and mimic their behaviors, in order to conceal the fact that his mind operates more like a computer that he has spent years programming. That program is what allows Noah to pass himself off as normal, by establishing parameters of right and wrong that are completely inviolable to him.
As a young adult, Noah finds structure in the U.S. Army, and becomes an excellent and exemplary soldier, but when his self-imposed programming is put to the test by the murderous acts of the superior officer, Noah finds himself quickly made expendable, charged with crimes he did not commit and facing the possibility of execution. Without any reasonable hope for a reprieve, Noah's logic-based mind accepts his fate.
Sometimes, though, things are not all as they seem to be, and Noah is offered one chance to save himself. It was his disability, his lack of emotion, that made him the soldier he had become. Now, an ultrasecret organization known as E & E wants Noah's talents, offering him a chance to survive…
As the most deadly assassin, the world has ever known.
Tidbit

I put this on my TBR on Goodreads as a "maybe I should buy this for my brother" thing. I forgot to take it off when he told me "thanks but no thanks". I'm removing this one from my TBR.

Damaged by Pamela Callow
Haunted by the death of her sister and wounded by her ex-fiancé's accusations, lawyer Kate Lange throws herself into her new career at a high-powered law firm.
When the grandmother of a lonely private school student seeks her counsel, Kate thinks it's just another custody case. But then the teen is brutally murdered. And it isn't only Kate who wonders if her legal advice led to the girl's death.
Put on notice by Randall Barrett, the firm's charismatic managing partner, Kate must fight for her career, her reputation--and for redemption.
Unwilling to live with the damage she may have caused, Kate pursues the case on her own and unearths some chilling facts.
Facts that lead straight to the heart of a legal conspiracy.
Facts that lead Kate directly into the surgically skilled hands of The Body Butcher.
Tidbit

I don't know how this wound up on my TBR in the first place, it doesn't really sound like something I'm into. I'm removing Damaged from my list.

Snapped by C.M. Sutter
Murder happens in Houston, but when the most recent murders take on disturbing similarities, local law enforcement officers fear a serial killer is roaming their streets.
Former sheriff’s department sergeant Jade Monroe has just graduated from the FBI’s serial crimes unit in homicide and is called to Houston with her partner, J.T. Harper, to take on her first assignment—apprehending the person responsible for these gruesome crimes.
With victims piling up and the clock ticking, Jade and J.T. need to intensify their search because there’s no sign the killer is slowing down.
After a late-night epiphany, while she’s alone, Jade suddenly comes face to face with the killer, and now Jade is missing. The clock continues to tick—but this time it’s for her.
Note: All Jade Monroe books are standalone stories but since characters carry over, they are best read in chronological order.
Note: The Jade Monroe FBI Thriller books follow on the heels of the conclusion of Exposed, Book 5 in the Detective Jade Monroe Crime Thriller Series.
Tidbit

I didn't realise this was the continuation of a series. I don't have the attention span for that, okay. We're just going to remove this one as well.



I know I usually do groups of five on my Down the TBR Hole posts, but I received a lot of bad news last night and I'm not in the mood to make nice informed choices. So yeah.
To the family of my dearly departed friend, the world has lost one of their brightest stars, the service dog community has lost a little bit of its sparkle, Florida is a little less sunny now, and she will be deeply missed. It was a pleasure and an honour to have known you, Susan, even if it was just for a short while. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me.

Top Ten Tuesday ★ 10

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to The Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.
How it works: 
I assign each Tuesday a topic and then post my top ten list that fits that topic. You’re more than welcome to join me and create your own top ten (or 2, 5, 20, etc.) list as well. Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you! Please link back to That Artsy Reader Girl in your own post so that others know where to find more information. You’ll find the schedule of upcoming TTT topics below so you can plan ahead. I’ll post a Linky here on the blog each week so you can link up your post (if you want). If you don’t have a blog, post your picks in the comment section below! Have tons of fun talking books and getting to know your fellow bloggers!
NOTE: If a weekly topic is listed as a “freebie”, you are invited to come up with your own topic. Sometimes I will give your topic a theme, such as “love”, a season, or an upcoming holiday. That just means that you can come up with any topic you want that fits under that umbrella.
 - Jana of The Artsy Reader Girl


Childhood Favourites
Welcome back to my Top Ten Tuesday! This week we're talking about what books I adored as a kid. I've been extremely possessive of some books in my childhood, my mum says I used to chomp down on anybody who tried to take a couple from me as a tot, so I definitely have to include these!

Friday, 7 June 2019

Review of Academy of Assassins by Stacey Brutger

Academy of Assassins by Stacey Brutger
Academy of Assassins #1
Published on 29 October 2017

ONLY ONE THING STANDS BETWEEN HUMANS AND THE DEADLY SUPERNATURAL WORLD…THE ACADEMY OF ASSASSINS.

Abandoned as a child and unable to remember her past, Morgan was raised as a hunter, one of an elite group of fighters sworn to protect humans from the dangerous paranormal creatures who invade our world…creatures such as herself. Her life changes the day she’s summoned to the Academy of Assassins, a school that trains witches and hunters to eradicate paranormals who prey on humans. Her first assignment—find and eliminate the killer who is using the Academy as their own personal hunting ground.

As Morgan delves deeper into the investigation, she will need to dodge assassination attempts, avoid the distraction of romantic entanglements with the devilishly handsome security expert, Kincade, and his maddeningly overprotective teammates, while keeping the volatile magic in her blood concealed from those who would use it for their own purposes. When the danger increases and the school is threatened, Morgan must unearth her missing memories before someone finishes the job they started so long ago—killing her and unleashing a plague that will consume the world.

OverDrive (Audiobook)

*This is a reverse harem story,  it contains a consensual relationship between multiple people (usually one woman and several men). If this is not something you're comfortable reading, that's okay. We all have our tastes in books, but please do not go after this genre's books, their authors, or the readers, because it's "offensive" or whatever. It's 2019, live and let live, y'all.

** At the time of posting, this book is available via Kindle Unlimited.


Gather round, readers, and let me tell you about this book that I've read four times. I am that in love with this series. I'm pretty scattershot in this review because #TeamNoSleep, so bear with me because I love this book.
Right from the beginning, Stacey Brutger plunges us into the suspense of Academy of Assassins with our heroine, Morgan Moran, dangling from the eaves of the coven's manor's rooftop as she watches a squadron of Hunters go off to what she knows in her gut to be their certain deaths  in her woods if she doesn't go with them. She joins up with her hellhound partner, Ascher, and they battle the beasties that bump in the night and, while, things go awry, Morgan makes it through the night and back home in time to be summoned by her foster father. Her foster father is The MacGregor, the head Hunter at the coven house, and he assigns her to investigate a series of murders at the Academy of Assassins while she attends Hunter classes.
Some of my favourite characters of Academy of Assassins are Drayven, Morgan, Ascher, and Ryder. Drayven is a jovial supernatural (I'll let y'all learn what kind because eek!) who is quick to welcome Morgan when she comes to the academy. No stand-offish butthead behaviour from him, unlike some people. Morgan is in his friend circle tout de suite. Ryder has 'love at first scent', forget bonding, forget predestined mates the fates determine, he loves Morgan from that first moment that she intervenes on his behalf. Ascher is Morgan's rescued hellhound who becomes her partner in her solo Hunts for supes that cross over from the other side of the rifts. Tell me y'all know me enough by now to know that I will always root for the dog. Morgan has a simple outlook on life. To live is to to Hunt. Everything she does revolves around Hunting. She has two mysterious gifts from her unknown past, a line of fae runes carved into her back that act as a creature-detection device, and a torque that acts as a dampener for her magic. Since she's Amnesia Girl, she uses her gifts to Hunt. Go Morgan! Morgan also gives absolutely zero fig newtons about your status or species, if she claims someone as hers, be it family, friends, classmate, or fellow living being, she will dive headlong into any danger that pops up, not giving one figgy pudding iota about her safety if it means helping them. Morgan is goals.
One thing I disliked about Academy of Assassins was how easily it was to figure out who Morgan's harem members were going to be. I much prefer the romantic whodunnit guesswork style of harem books. A few chapters in and you know who's in, now it's just a matter of when they join the group. Another thing I disliked was Kincade's initial treatment of Morgan, he was a pretty big jerk about the 'women as Hunters deprives a man of his mate and it's selfish of her to do that' thing and I kept wishing Morgan would put a steel-toed boot in a certain place.
Overall, I'm rating Academy of Assassins a shiny 4 stars and 1 sexytimes flame. I'm not saying this is The Great American Novel, it's a paranormal reverse harem romance that's a smidgen predictable. But I love it and I enjoy it. If polyromance is something you're into, y'all should check this out.


Stacey Brutger lives in a small town in Minnesota with her husband and an assortment of animals.
When she's not reading (from the towering stack of books she can't resist buying), she enjoys creating stories about exotic worlds and grand adventures...then shoving in her characters to see how they'd survive. She enjoys writing anything paranormal from contemporary to historical.

You can follow Ms Brutger at


Well, that's it for this review, do you know how much I hemmed and hawed over this thing? I kept rewriting this in different review styles. Did I want to go in depth? Did I want to gloss over? Did I want to word vomit? What? I wound up just screeching "screw it" and retyped the whole thing this evening and here we are!
Since this is LGBT Pride Month and I'm an out and proud member of the community, I'm dedicating this month's charity choices to LGBT organisations. Zebra Youth is my local LGBT Youth Organisation, so we'll start with them! If you're of the mind and means to donate, I'm sure the folks at Zebra Youth can put your donations to good use!

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Operation Beautiful

Operation Beautiful started over a decade ago when Caitlyn Boyle decided to fight back against her meltdown in a public washroom. She left a sticky note that read "You're beautiful" on the mirror and blogged about it, asking if her readers would participate. And they did.
The mission of Operation Beautiful is to post anonymous notes in public places for other people to find. The point is that WE ARE ALL BEAUTIFUL. You are enough... just the way you are! 
I was in a not-good headspace when I found a note in the grocery store almost 10 years ago and it was a turning point for me. When I tell people all the time that Hollywood Undead and Operation Beautiful saved me I'm not kidding, y'all. Whenever I start with the negative thoughts, I pull out my box of sticky notes and I start making Operation Beautiful notes to put up around the state. I never leave home without a stack of pre-made notes and I've actually become pretty well-known for them around the Kissimmee area. Although the original idea of Operation Beautiful was to leave anonymous notes in public spaces, I'm horrible at being sneaky. So I just own the fact that I leave little notes for people to find to hopefully make their days a little bit better.



This note was one of my very first notes and it stayed up at the dog park in Perry, GA for well over a month! The colour of the ink faded to a faint blue and the red hearts bled away in the first rain, but I became a fast fan of Post-It brand's super sticky line after seeing it stand up to all the Georgia elements.



Sonny's Barbecue in Perry, GA was a fan of my notes as well. They usually moved my notes to their order bar for them to enjoy. Feel that love!

Blogger Nicole from Sparkly Ever After found one of my notes at the beginning of the year at my local Starbucks where I'm "required" to leave a note or two according to the baristas. 


Blogger Laurie from Work, Play, Chardonnay found one of my notes that I left recently(ish) at our local Whole Foods.

The Publix in front of my complex makes a concentrated efforted to keep my notes up for as long as possible. I've caught a couple of them stopping new employees from taking them down and explaining "they're there to make people feel better" and my heart melts, y'all.


Not only does making these help me find my feet when I'm losing my footing, but when I learn that someone's found one of my notes and they've had their day turned around, even just for a moment, it feels amazing.
I've taken my notes all across three states and now that I live in Orlando, I post them in a lot of high tourist traffic areas, so I also post my notes in several languages. It's hard work, but I like it.
We're also supposed to do it anonymously, but I completely lack the subtlety gene. There is no subtlety here. I just slap it on the wall, display, mirror, post, whatever, in front of everybody. Just own it, right?
The official website for Operation Beautiful may be dead at the moment, but the movement's still going pretty strong. So, feel free to grab a pack of sticky notes and a pen and join in!
Until next time, darlings, have a happily ever after!