July Blogging Challenge: Day 1

Hey everybody! Man, this blog sure does get dusty when I abandon it for so long. Need to do some vacuuming in here.

Ugh. I’ve been meaning to get back to blogging, I really have. I’ve been meaning to do a lot of things, actually. Unfortunately, life has been throwing me some curveballs lately, and some days, it’s all I can do to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Still, getting back into blogging on a regular basis was something I really wanted to do. After all, blogging is easy, right? Right? Just type up some stuff and shove it out on the Internet. Right?

Of course not. Or, at least, not for me.

Then one of my favorite authors, Dianne Sylvan, announced she was going to do a blogging challenge for July, and it just inspired me to get in there and do it. No excuses. No drama. Just. Do. It.

So here’s what to expect:

Smallish blogging. I like that. Makes the thought of trying to do this for 31 days sound much more manageable. So, without further ado . . .

Day 1 – My goals for July

I am setting two goals for this month, which I hope will be engaging and challenging, but yet within my scope to accomplish them.

Goal #1: Complete this blog challenge and get my blog in order. Okay, okay, this one sounds like a cop out, I know. But to be honest, it is more than just using the prompts above. Ever since I started this blog, it has been primarily about books. A large part of it will probably continue to be so, but I want to expand it more. Seek out new topics, chronicle some of my other interests. In that regard, hopefully there will be a few more posts this month than just the above 31, and maybe a few other surprises as well. I’ve got ideas, oh boy, do I have ideas! Now I just need the motivation to accomplish them.

Goal #2: Limit my time on social media. This one is a NECESSITY!! With all the bile and the ugliness and the ramped up negativity out there, I need to step away for my own mental health. I know it has increased my anxiety and depression, but it is so hard to stop. I started diving deeper into it a few years ago as I began to follow closer along with current events. Now, I’ve been telling myself that I need to immerse myself in this garbage just to be able to call myself an informed citizen. Not true at all. I do use it to keep up with friends, family and some fandoms that I follow, so I am not giving it up entirely. But I will be limiting myself to 30 MINUTES PER DAY on the socials, and that 30 minutes can NEVER be before bed. The other unfortunate side effect of this is that it has heavily cut down on my reading. Those of you know have followed me over the years know how bad that is.

So there we go! A new month, a new plan, and two new goals to hopefully keep up with. If anyone else out there is having blogging woes, maybe give this a try. And let me know if you do – was can drag each other across that July 31st goal line!

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Book Review: Shadowbound by Dianne Sylvan

Since I don’t plan on reviewing any of the Otherworld books individually until I finish the series, I actually don’t have a huge backlog of reviews to get out. Isn’t that nice? Although when an author completely and totally breaks your heart . . . it might take you a while to be able to talk about it. Here is my review of Shadowbound by Dianne Sylvan.

shadowbound

So much happens in this book, it’s really hard to try and synopsisize it (is that a word? it is now!). That’s one of the things I love about this series in general – Sylvan doesn’t pull any punches. She writes a complex, ever-changing story with great characters and just enough snarky, sarcastic humor that it makes things fun.  I have said it before and I’ll say it again – I really dig her take on vampires. There are so many different vampire books and series out there, some done well, some not so much. To me, this is one of the better ones, if not the best. If vampires really existed, this is totally how they would operate.

Side note, my husband calls these my “hot-girl-with-a-sword” books. It’s not an inappropriate title.

This is book five in the series. It just came out back at the end of March and I have been waiting (un)patiently for it to get here for about a year. The story continues with David and Miranda, the Prime and Queen of the Southern U.S., who are still trying to adjust to the events that happened at the end of book four. Namely, David returning from the dead and becoming one of the Thirdborn, the next . . . evolution I guess? . . . of vampire. They are also examining the connection that is forming between their Pair and the other Pairs that are forming the Circle, an elite group of vamps tasked with serving Persephone. And then there’s also Olivia, the recently chose Prime of the Northeast . . . who is the first ever female prime.

AND . . . there’s also an elf named Nico who is trying to help Deven heal his ancient broken soul.

AND AND . . . there’s a group of humans called the Order of the Morningstar who are trying to take the vampires down, who have found a way to become super strong which involves ritually sacrificing Primes.

Like I said, there’s a lot going on.

There are parts of this book that made me laugh out loud and one particular character death that made my cry like a baby. My favorite character is still probably Deven, the Prime of the Western U.S., and my heart just aches for him. This book told much more of his story than other books previously have done and I’m so glad we’re getting to know him a bit more. I just hope he can survive the events at the end of this book into the next one.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – if you like vampires, you MUST read this series. Go directly to the bookstore, do not pass GO, do not collect $200.00. Okay, if someone is handing out $200.00, then take it, but THEN get to the bookstore and use that money to buy this series!

Teaser Tuesday for April 22nd

Teaser Tuesday New

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by MizB at “Should Be Reading.” Here are the rules if you want to play along:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Miranda was finally starting to understand what their relationship really was: more than friendship, less than romance, deeper than either; mutual acceptance and comfort between two people who had, by a miracle, come to love each other through trial by fire. He had been her solid ground when David died, and her shoulder was the only one he wasn’t afraid to lean on.

Shadowbound by Dianne Sylvan

I love this series so much!

Please leave your teasers in comments!

Book Review: Of Shadow Born by Dianne Sylvan

I don’t think it’s any secret that I love, love, love these books. They are some of the best vampire novels out there, in my opinion, and everybody knows that these days, vampire books are everywhere. To me, these books stand out not just because of the engaging characters and the snarky sense of humor on every page, but because they feel real. I think if vampires really did exist, they would exist in this fashion. I was especially excited to get Of Shadow Born because the cliffhanger from Shadow’s Fall nearly drove me insane. I can’t speak properly of Of Shadow Born without giving away a huge spoiler, so like before, the complete spoiler-filled review will be below the cover art.

of shadow born

Still with me? Good. Moving on.

I was so upset at the end of Shadow’s Fall. David Solomon is one of my favorite characters ever, vampire or not, so to see him killed in such a brutal manner was heartrending. It was clear, though, that he may not be quite as dead as you think, and I was dying to find out what exactly that meant.

Miranda’s grief is palpable throughout the pages as she tries to move on after David’s death. A Queen is not supposed to outlive her Prime. When one dies, the other dies too – it’s part of the magic of the Signets. Now she has to try and hold everything together, despite her despair. She is an unbelievably strong woman.

There are a lot of things in this book that I can’t even do justice to in this review. David has not died, but has been reborn in a way. We learn a little bit more about vampire mythology, at least how it works in this particular series, including their connections with the goddess Persephone. We also learn a bit of their history, with the first vampires being the Firstborn, and current day vampires being the Secondborn. David is now a Thirdborn, which has a lot of benefits, but also a lot of consequences. For one thing, he has lost the telepathic link he has always had with Miranda. There is also a strange connection between David, Miranda, Deven, Jonathan, Jacob and Cora. They can sense when something is happening to one of the others. It’s a strange twist.

There’s also still political drama. Prime Hart is still causing trouble, and there is a mysterious group, the Morningstar, that is trying to take out all non-humans. And then there’s Jeremy, the vampire who was responsible for David’s death/transformation, and let me just say that his motives are as twisted and tangled as his story line.

There are several new characters that I also enjoyed, or old characters that got a lot more screentime (pagetime?).  Stella, the daughter of the chief of police, who also happens to be a witch. Olivia, a vampire who was once a Second, but who is now living on the fringes of society (until a near-unconscious David ends up on her doorstep). We also learn a lot more about Deven, whose mysterious past includes not being entirely vampire or human.

Like I said, I can’t do this book justice, and it’s very hard to explain why I liked it without going into tons of detail about the first three books. Let me just say this – I loved this book so much. I love this series so much. If you haven’t read them, and you like urban fantasy and vampires, then you need to go read them. Now. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.00.

Vampires!

You guys remember that post when I asked for help deciding what to read next? Well, that went completely up in the air because I forgot that the third book in a series that I absolutely love was getting released. It came out last week and so, of course, I had to run out and get it. And then re-read the first two books so I would have everything fresh in my mind.

I am referring to the Shadow World series by Dianne Sylvan. Like I said, there are three books so far (and a fourth one on the way!!!): Queen of Shadows, Shadowflame, and the newly released Shadow’s Fall. There are many reasons why I love this series. For starters, I love, love, LOVE her take on vampires. Vampires are the big thing and have been for a few years now, but Sylvan takes a whole new spin on them that was brilliant. These are not mopey, emo, “oh-woe-is-me-i’m-undead” vampires. These are powerful beings who are very sure of their place in society. The world is divided up into territories, each ruled by a Prime who is not only responsible for the vampires in their realm, but the humans as well. The story takes place in Austin, Texas, the headquarters of the Prime of the Southern United States, David Solomon.

Here’s why David is awesome. Not only is he absolutely gorgeous (are vampires allowed to be ugly?), but he is also incredibly smart. The technology he has created in order to track the vampires in the city and to communicate with the vampires in his employ is intricate and, frankly, I would understand none of it. But it works. He has several computers and servers and gigabytes of data, records, and other information. He’s a technology geek! And it’s awesome!

The main character is Miranda Grey, a human who is a local musician. She has many problems, one of which is that she is able to feel the emotions of the people around her. She uses this power to influence the people who come to hear her perform, but it quickly becomes overwhelming. Then one night she is attacked by a group of men in an alley and David finds her and saves her. He brings her to his headquarters, the Haven, and helps her to heal, physically and emotionally. As you can probably guess, this leads to them falling in love and to Miranda becoming a vampire herself.

There’s a lot more to the series, of course, but I don’t want to give anything away. Let’s just say that there is mystery, romance, political intrigue, and the coolest vampires ever put on paper that kick some serious ass. There are friends who would die to protect you and friends who never show what their true motives are. The last book ended with such a cliffhanger, I am DYING to read the next one, which will hopefully come out sometime next year. If you like vampire books, you will like this series. It is sharp, witty, and intelligent.