A Quick Word About GOT S8:E5 “The Bells”

Jon-Snow-Lord-Varys.jpg“Men decide where power resides, whether or not they know it.” – Lord Varys, the Spider, Master of Whispers, caster of large shadows.

Consider me considerably shaken.

The beginning of what is most certainly one of the better episodes of season 8 takes viewers immediately to the writing table of Varys, as he’s scribbling Jon’s secret identity in letter form to someone–I never caught who–when a little girl enters and tells Varys she fears she’s being watched (by Dany’s men). Moments later, viewers are watching as the queen gives a calm “Dracarys” order and Drogon barbecues our poor, bald Varys to death, punishment for his treason. This moment quietly sets the tone for the rest of the episode.

Dracarys, indeed.

If you’ve read my book reviews, you’ll know I don’t like to give out too many spoilers, if any at all. Lord Varys’s death is a pretty big spoiler, so as I’ve broken my own rule already, I feel like I should continue to do so. But, unlike our newly bonkers queen, I’ll try to hold a little bit back.

Long story short, Daenerys does her job as planned in the beginning, starting with Euron Greyjoy’s Iron Fleet, burning them to the ground, probably with a smile on her exhausted face as Greyjoy himself is flung from a burning ship. With Dany in the air and her armies (and nephew, Jon Snow) on the ground, King’s Landing is soon taken and the bells of surrender ring out. Does she choose to fall back, as everyone hoped she would?

Nope.

burn them all
“Burn them all!” – Aerys Targaryen II 

Queen Daenerys of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, The Unburnt, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Protector of the Realm, Lady Regent of the Seven Kingdoms, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons goes full on Mad Queen, channeling her late father, obviously taking his chants of “Burn them all!” straight to heart. Apparently, the dragon doesn’t fall far from the nest.

Absolute chaos ensues, starting with Grey Worm. Being loyal to his queen, Grey Worm sees her continue burning the city through the surrender and he follows suit, tossing a dagger into one of Cersei’s surrendered (read: unarmed) soldiers.

And, I had hoped Grey Worm would get some kind of a happy life after losing his love in the last episode’s beheading, but now I hope somebody takes him out. Without killing Grey Worm (and likely Drogon) first, I’m afraid taking Little Miss Crazy Pants Stormborn out is going to be next to impossible. And let’s face it, if Westeros is ever to see any kind of peace, she has got to go.

Speaking of going, where is Bran in all of this? Obviously Winterfell. But, couldn’t he have given some kind of freaky bird boy warning before everyone else left? Nothing cryptic as usual, but now that the Night King is kaput, doesn’t he think his siblings and their friends might deserve at least a little bit more direction? We know he could tell them things.

I guess it’s a busy, lonely life being a three eyed raven, knowing everything and being able to stop things from happening, but choosing to just sit back and enjoy the show. Bran’s upper half is becoming just as useless as his lower half these days. I still like his character, though. For now.

sandor-clegane-sandor-clegane-24502519-1600-1065
  I’m not sharing a photo of The Mountain because he’s a shit. So, here’s The Hound in all his cranky, lonesome glory.

Oh, and did I mention CLEGANEBOWL happened? Cause it did. Sandor Clegane says goodbye to Arya, telling her to leave or die, too, and she listens. She even calls him by his first name. And, then The Hound finds The Mountain and a fight ensues, but only after The Mountain kills Cersei’s hand by tossing him aside like a sack of potatoes. Cersei exits the scene and an epic staircase battle scene begins. With fire below and a dragon flying above, it’s a scene that could not have been more perfect for the end of the Cleganes. I won’t miss Gregor Clegane, but I will most certainly think of Sandor “The Hound” Clegane most fondly. I’m sure Arya will, too.

Oh, and somewhere in here Jamie and Cersei are crushed beneath the weight of the very castle they’ve built their entire lives around. Poetic justice, if you ask me, though there are those who disagree and think viewers were robbed of a more fitting, horrible death for the Lannisters.

The end of the episode was sort of quiet. Arya has a bit of a rough go of things as she tries to exit the city, but ultimately — after Jon directs his men and others to “fall back”– she finds a lone white (or dare I say “pale”) horse and exits.

So, what will this mean for the next and final episode? Probably nothing any of us will be able to accurately guess within 90% accuracy, if the last handful of episodes have any leaning on things. There are good theories out there, but ultimately there is only a few ways this could end. None of them will be pain free. More people will die. And nobody will come out unscathed.

Tyrion Lannister should probably disappear because if Dany gets wind he’s still alive, he won’t be for long. I have a feeling he’s in danger.

You got theories? I’d love to hear them. Drop a comment if you please.

Arya_Horse_Scene-e1557762731914.jpeg

 

 

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A Bloody Business by Dylan Struzan

business
Fun Fact: Dylan Struzan’s husband, Drew Struzan illustrated the cover art for this book. Drew Struzan is also the creator of art for Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Back To the Future, Harry Potter, and many other film posters. ON THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF PROHIBITION, LEARN WHAT REALLY HAPPENED.

**Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this novel by the publisher for the intent of an honest review. Sending me a novel will, under no circumstances, win the author a glowing review. It WILL win an honest one IF I like the novel enough to finish it, which sometimes doesn’t happen. **

In 1919, the National Prohibition Act was passed, making it illegal across America to produce, distribute, or sell liquor. With this act, the U.S. Congress also created organized crime as we know it. Italian, Jewish, and Irish mobs sprang up to supply the suddenly illegal commodity to the millions of people still eager to drink it. Men like Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky, Dutch Schultz and Bugsy Siegel, Al Capone in Chicago and Nucky Johnson in Atlantic City, waged a brutal war for power in the streets and on the waterfronts. But if you think you already know this story…think again, since you’ve never seen it through the eyes of one of the mobsters who lived it.

Called “one of the most significant organized crime figures in the United States” by the U.S. District Attorney, Vincent “Jimmy Blue Eyes” Alo was just 15 years old when Prohibition became law. Over the next decade, Alo would work side by side with Lansky and Luciano as they navigated the brutal underworld of bootlegging, thievery and murder. Alo’s later career included prison time and the ultimate Mob tribute: being immortalized as “Johnny Ola” in The Godfather, Part II.

Introduced to the 91-year-old Alo living in retirement in Florida, Dylan Struzan based this book on more than 50 hours of recorded testimony–stories Alo had never shared, and that he forbid her to publish until “after I’m gone.” Alo died, peacefully, two months short of his 97th birthday. And now his stories–bracing and violent, full of intrigue and betrayal, hunger and hubris–can finally be told.

As far as I’m concerned, the years directly before and after prohibition and the events leading up to and following prohibition are the most interesting in American history. There’s no mystery why there are so many books and movies written to take place in that time period. Obviously, those were hard times. But, no matter how much I learn about those years and the people who lived them, I am always more than willing to learn more and experience more–even through the mediums of fiction and art.

I can only imagine the things Struzan learned while researching for A Bloody Business. And, what a telling title, too! Being released 100 years after the National Prohibition Act  was passed was a happy coincidence, right? But, getting down to the grit of this review, I feel like I should warn you–the book is not what you might expect. It is less story, more historical account, but it isn’t as seamless as most would like it to be.

First, as most readers of historical novels would expect, there is language used within the text in both speech and expression that is unique to that era. There are lines like “Old Bill Rockafeller was a flimflammer,” tucked in here and there, which really made me think my granddad may have been telling me the story. I don’t mean that to be a negative, either, but it does take some getting used to at first if you don’t read a lot of stories from this time period.

I’m not sure if I should even mention characterization since Dylan Struzan actually met with a man who was called “one of the most significant organized crime figures in the United States” and listened to more than 50 hours of recorded testimony (see blurb above). I think she knocked it right out of the park. I think Dylan Struzan knew, probably within a week or two of research, exactly how her characters operated, what drove them to be the way they were, and got everything perfect, from mannerisms to thoughts, within the first few pages of a rough draft. I could be wrong, but I suspect I’m not.

There were bits of story here and there I feel could have been cut out during her first few rounds of edits and revisions, but those pieces are iffy, meaning they could have stayed or gone and nobody would have been the wiser. Usually in that case, a writer would cut those bits, but sometimes they get left and it doesn’t really change anything. It just takes a reader longer to read the story. Obviously, that can sometimes lead a reader to get bored and walk away and, because of this, I would urge the author to think about this next time she sits down to revise a novel. It’s not a deal breaker–but, it’s a slippery slope leading toward boredom.

I feel it worth noting, however, that the plot itself is little more than prohibition and organized crime itself. As a historical account, I feel like the story was delivered in an informal way (obviously), but an effective delivery was certainly given. After a few pages, you can imagine how Dylan Struzan may have felt whilst giving her interview of Alo. Maybe he said something like, “Well, ya see, what happened was…” and she began her notes. Probably not, but it’s very easy to imagine the story having formed that way. It certainly isn’t what I might call a campfire tale, but it bridges the gap between today’s more technologically advanced generations and the generation that our great grandparents grew up in. There are themes expressed that we can all relate to.

****

If you feel like this novel is for you, you can find it in most formats at Amazon.com.

If you’d like to learn more about Dylan Struzan at Titan Books, find out about previous releases, or just nose around, you should do that, too. 

 

 

 

 

The Highland Chieftain by Amy Jarecki

chieftain
After being unceremoniously jilted by her betrothed, Lady Mairi MacKenzie is humiliated and heartbroken – but she’s not desperate. As the daughter of an earl, she won’t give her hand to just anyone, and she definitely isn’t swayed by a last-minute proposal from Laird Duncan MacRae. The powerful clan chieftain may be disarmingly handsome and charming, but he’s not a nobleman. Mairi doesn’t want his pity or his charity – even though his dark smoldering gaze makes her melt with desire.
Dunn may be a battle-hardened clansman, but he’s always had a soft spot for Mairi. For years, she tormented him with flirtation – only to reject him. But he’s not giving up. When Mairi is attacked by redcoats, Dunn goes after the woman he loves. Through brute strength and fierce action, he will protect her life at any cost. But to win her heart, he will have to show her the tenderness in his own.

Look folks, I can’t say how happy I was to have found this author. Show me a Laird with some integrity, and I’ll show you all of my Kindle money. Seriously. And, ya wanna know the cool thing? Amy Jarecki has more books out there. So, I’m broke now.

This particular book is exactly as the blurb says. There is nothing in advertisement that isn’t delivered within the pages of the story. You get what you ask for and you get it in a way that holds you for as long as it takes to read the entire story.

Starting with the main character, Mairi MacKenzie, I’ll say that she is someone I would want to be my friend. Her range of feelings throughout the book are very human, which a reader tends to appreciate. Though she is a strong character, she isn’t out of touch with reality (her own reality, that is). Maybe the author knew someone like her and that’s why Mairi turned out to be a character I felt I knew.

Dunn, on the other hand, was just as real, but somewhat of a different sort–and that’s not a bad thing. Who doesn’t love a highlander with a heart of gold? He was very well written and a very realistic match for Mairi MacKenzie.

The KINDLE copy of The Highland Chieftain is only $3.99 and has 100% earned my stamp of approval and a full recommendation. Go buy it and read it today. TODAY, folks. You’re welcome.

 

The Earl, the Vow, and the Plain Jane by Cheryl Bolen–Review

BolenRelease date: June 12, 2018
Available for pre-order NOW!

Bereft of beauty as well as fortune, the exceedingly plain Miss Jane Featherstone has failed to attract any suitor during her three Seasons. Rather than be a burden to her brother and his obnoxious wife, Miss Featherstone vows to accept the first man who asks—even though she’s always worshipped a lord who’s far above her touch. . .

Lord Slade must marry an heiress in order to honor the deathbed vow he made to his father, and he needs Miss Featherstone’s help in wooing her beautiful cousin. After her initial anger, Miss Featherstone agrees to his scheme, telling him she’s doing so because she admires his Parliamentary record of humanitarian legislation and his reverence for truth. But the more he’s with the two cousins, the more attracted he becomes to Miss Featherstone. What’s a man of his word to do? Break a vow to a beloved father—or follow his heart with Miss Featherstone?

*******

It didn’t take me long to read this book, probably only two sittings. I liked the story. I loved the premise behind it. The characters were okay, too. But, that was it. They were just okay. Not spectacular, not extraordinary, and I would not call Lord Slade an alpha male at any turn, for any reason. Obviously a vow to a dying father was important, but a man caring for three sisters should have realized (way before he did) that those left alive are far more important than any vow, particularly minors in his care. He was only a man and Jane was only an average woman–the Plain Jane, I suppose. I expected much more from these characters. By their descriptions, I envisioned totally different people.

I really felt like the book was missing some umph.

Regardless, there were a lot of things within the story I liked, otherwise I would have taken much longer to read it. There were also things (and characters) I really hated, which, to a certain degree, was the reason I stuck around to finish the story.

I really hated the younger cousin, Sarah, and I desperately wanted somebody to shove a pie in her face–unfortunately, no pies landed. Major bummer, right? She was a bit sure of herself and, even though she was young, I really think she could have taken better care of her words regarding beauty and Miss Featherstone.

Some people, amirite?

This was a very sweet romance, too, so not really the sort of book I’m used to picking up. I tend to read racier, edgier, faster paced books. When I, on purpose, pick up a sweet romance, I expect for there to be some sort of major conflict or, at the very least, some really warm scenes. In this book, a lot of that was really lost. To add insult to injury, so to say, the ending unfolded too quickly for the amount of build up behind it. I’m okay with knowing what’s going to happen before it does (and any reader can tell you this is very common), but I really dislike being let down in the delivery of these happenings.

I can’t say that I can give a recommendation for this book to anyone unless I give them a full report of the letdowns as well as the good points, so you have all been warned. Three stars.

 

 

 

5 Summer Books I Can’t Wait To Read

Here is my can’t-wait-for-it list. I am positive that if you know me personally, you already know I’m chomping at the bit for numbers 1 & 2. Particularly 2. I always recommend Amanda Ashley to paranormal romance lovers and ya know what? She seems to be a very nice person. I enjoy knowing that lol.

*** There will be a review in this blog. I already have an ARC or e-galley. 
****I do not have a copy of this book yet, but I’ve either pre-ordered or will be ordering soon. 

serpentine

  1. Serpentine by Laurell K. Hamilton (August)

    Vampire hunter Anita Blake has managed to overcome anything that faces her. But this time, there’s a monster that even she doesn’t know how to fight . . .

     A remote Florida Island is a perfect wedding destination for fellow US marshal and best friend Edward’s upcoming nuptials. For Anita, the vacation is a much welcomed break as it’s the first trip she gets to take with just wereleopards Micah and Nathaniel. But it’s not all fun and games and bachelor parties…

     In that tropical paradise, Micah has discovered a horrific new form of lycanthropy, one that has afflicted a single family for generations. Believed to be the result of an ancient Greek curse, it turns human bodies into a mass of snakes.

     When long-simmering resentment leads to a big blow-out within the wedding party, the last thing Anita needs is more drama. But it finds her anyway when women start disappearing from the hotel and worse–her own friends and lovers are considered the prime suspects. There’s a strange power afoot that Anita has never confronted before, a force that’s rendering those around her helpless in its thrall.  Unable to face it on her own, Anita is willing to accept help from even the deadliest places—help that she will most certainly regret—if she survives at all, that is…

    Ashley

  2. Twilight Desires by Amanda Ashley (September)  ****

    Sofia Ravenwood was once fascinated by vampires—their seductive power, their inhuman strength, their dark desires. Then one of them attacked her family, and she threw out her Goth attire and vowed to keep clear of her enemies. Until she heard about Ethan Parrish: a sweet, sizzling-hot former college football player, turned into a vampire against his will.

    Wandering the deserted streets of Morgan Creek, Wyoming, Ethan’s sure he’ll be alone forever—a monster like him deserves nothing else. Then beautiful, complicated Sofia agrees to meet him, fangs and all. The need she ignites in him is more than just the pulse of her blood or the scent of her skin. But he’s not the only bloodsucker desperate to make her his own . . .

  3. The Vixen by Christi Caldwell (August)Vixen

    USA Today bestselling author Christi Caldwell pits a fiercely independent beauty against a devilish investigator.

    Set apart by her ethereal beauty and fearless demeanor, Ophelia Killoran has always been a mystery to those around her—and a woman they underestimated. No one would guess that she spends her nights protecting the street urchins of St. Giles. Ophelia knows what horrors these children face. As a young girl, she faced those horrors herself, and she would have died…if not for the orphan boy who saved her life.

    A notorious investigator, Connor Steele never expected to encounter Ophelia Killoran on his latest case. It has been years since he sacrificed himself for her. Now, she hires orphans from the street to work in her brother’s gaming hell. But where does she find the children…and what are her intentions?

    Ophelia and Connor are at odds. After all, Connor now serves the nobility, and that is a class of people Ophelia knows firsthand not to trust. But if they can set aside their misgivings and work together, they may discover that their purposes—and their hearts—are perfectly aligned.

    **NOTE** This is the second book in a series. I’ve downloaded the first and intend to read it soon. However, I’ve read books and stories by Christi Caldwell before (recently, actually) so I’m looking forward to this title as well as the others in the series. 

  4. The Howling by Erin McCarthy (June) ***howling

    Beneath the silver moon . . .

    For six months the nightmares have been chasing Liv Lugaru out of her sleep. The same terrifying dream, the same fevered wolves panting after her, their hot breath getting closer and closer as a full moon hangs heavy in the night sky—until she wakes up drenched in sweat, with her fiancé, the brother of the man who broke her heart, gazing down at her . . .

    Six months ago, Sebastian was almost killed by his brother in a power struggle within their werewolf pack. His disappearance opened the way for his brother to console Liv, win her trust . . . without ever telling her of their true heritage. Now Sebastian is ready to reclaim his rightful place—to rise up with the moon and claim the only woman he’s ever loved . . .

5. Vampire’s Faith by Rebecca Zanetti ****vampire's faith.jpg

The Dark Protectors are back!  All new stories and a great entry point for new fans!

Vampire King Ronan Kayrs wasn’t supposed to survive the savage sacrifice he willingly endured to rid the world of the ultimate evil. He wasn’t supposed to emerge in this time and place, and he sure as hell wasn’t supposed to finally touch the woman who’s haunted his dreams for centuries. Yet here he is, in an era where vampires are hidden, the enemy has grown stronger, and his mate has no idea of the power she holds.

Dr. Faith Cooper is flummoxed by irrefutable proof that not only do vampires exist . . . they’re hot blooded, able to walk in sunlight, and shockingly sexy. Faith has always depended on science, but the restlessness she feels around this predatory male defies reason. Especially when it grows into a hunger only he can satisfy–that is if they can survive the evil hunting them both.

*****

Did you notice a trend? Because there are an awful lot of vampires in that list. And some wolves. No apologies! I said what I said!

I’d be curious to see what you’re looking forward to also. 😀

❤ XOXO Rhiannon M.

Rogues Rush In: A Regency Duet by Tessa Dare and Christi Caldwell

rogues rush in

Release date: 5/22/18
Available at Amazon.com now!

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling authors Tessa Dare and Christi Caldwell come together in this smart, sexy, not-to-be-missed Regency Duet! 

Two scandalous brides…
Two rogues who won’t be denied…

His Bride for the Taking by NYT Bestselling author Tessa Dare
It’s the first rule of friendship among gentlemen: Don’t even think about touching your best friend’s sister. But Sebastian, Lord Byrne, has never been one for rules. He’s thought about touching Mary Clayton—a lot—and struggled to resist temptation. But when Mary’s bridegroom leaves her waiting at the altar, only Sebastian can save her from ruin. By marrying her himself. 

In eleven years, he’s never laid a finger on his best friend’s sister. Now he’s going to take her with both hands. To have, to hold…and to love.

His Duchess for a Day by USA Today Bestseller Christi Caldwell 
It was never meant to be…
That’s what Elizabeth Terry has told herself while trying to forget the man she married–her once best friend. Passing herself off as a widow, Elizabeth has since built a life for herself as an instructor at a finishing school, far away from that greatest of mistakes. But the past has a way of finding you, and now that her husband has found her, Elizabeth must face the man she’s tried to forget.

It was time to right a wrong…
Crispin Ferguson, the Duke of Huntington, has spent the past years living with regret. The young woman he married left without a by-your-leave, and his hasty elopement had devastating repercussions. Despite everything, Crispin never stopped thinking about Elizabeth. Now that he’s found her, he has one request—be his duchess, publicly, just for a day. 

Can spending time together as husband and wife rekindle the bond they once shared? Or will a shocking discovery tear them apart…this time, forever?

HIS BRIDE FOR THE TAKING by Tessa Dare

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story. I read on my computer during my morning coffee/breakfast/busywork ritual, which means it’s a short read, but a very entertaining one. One sitting is all you need.

I’ve read Tessa Dare before, so I was already familiar with her style. I felt like Mary was a likable character, but that sometimes her thought process was skewed. I think we all know a few people like that in our real lives, right? Sebastian, the hero, was rough and gruff and everything one might ask for in an alpha male, but I’m not sure I’d really call him a rogue. Nevertheless, the story was great and the romance within was sweet. Details were given where needed and kept away where not needed. Perfect for a night in when you might have to get up early the next day.

HIS DUCHESS FOR A DAY by Christi Caldwell

I would have liked this in a longer story–I don’t feel like the characters got their moment in the sun as they should have. I don’t feel like it was fair to them to cram the entirety of their romance into a few short chapters. BUT, I have no reason to not suggest this story to other readers. After all, if the only problem I can come up with is that it’s just not long enough, then the writer has done her job and well beyond. I am entertained and I want more.

Crispin Ferguson is the kind of storybook romance novel hero readers (myself included) tend to go bananas for. There is an element of mystery, a gentleman with a reputation that precedes him, and by description, he’s handsome. Oh, and he’s a duke, so he’s loaded. He’s every nineteenth century woman’s fantasy man. His bride, Elizabeth, is a woman most can relate to and identify with in some way or another. I felt the romantic scenes were nicely written and appropriate within the story.

I have absolutely no reason to not give this book my recommendation. I actually really enjoy shorter stories sometimes because there are days when a gal just likes a light read. I’m not someone with a lot of time on my hands, so when I read something (short or long) I enjoy, I feel like my minutes and hours were more than well spent and I can not wait to see what’s next from BOTH of these authors.

Enchanted By the Highlander by Lecia Cornwall

enchanted by the highlanderEnchanted by the Highlander is the fourth book in a charming and enchanting Scottish series that reimagines fairytales by Lecia Cornwall.

Gillian MacLeod is shy and quiet, the least likely of all her sisters to seek out excitement and adventure. But on a moonlit night at a masquerade ball, Gillian steals a kiss from a mysterious stranger, knowing she’ll never see him again.

John Erly, disowned by his noble English father, started a new life in Scotland. Most people are suspicious of the foreign mercenary and he does everything is his power to avoid romantic entanglements. But he can’t forget the bewitching beauty who kissed him in the dark, and stole his heart, even though he has no idea who she might be.

A year later, John is given the duty of escorting Gillian to her wedding and immediately recognizes her as the temptress he’s dreamed of for months. There’s not much he can do when she’s promised to another man, but fate intervenes and this time, passion—and adventure—can’t be denied. Honor demands he stay away from the MacLeod’s enchanting daughter, but love has a very different ending in mind…

***

I really enjoyed this story. I was surprised to learn there are others in this series, so I’ll be trying to look those up today, too. As of right now, my reading queue is ridiculously long, but one more won’t hurt.

Okay, three more.

I enjoyed the storytelling and the fairytale aspect to the story. It’s a feel good romantic read. Gillian is a woman I can identify with in a lot of ways and I think maybe that’s what makes the story so appealing. I think a lot of women could probably picture themselves in her shoes, if only for a moment. But, it isn’t just Gillian. All of the characters are likable and believable. Bravo, Lecia Cornwall.

The plot of the story is so fantastic and that’s how the fairytale vibe kicks in. It’s very Cinderella-like, but I found myself holding my breath for Gillian and John throughout the story. I knew there would be a happy ending, but at times I found myself worrying how it would come about. I wasn’t disappointed and I can’t wait to find the other books in the series!

You can find your own copy at Amazon!