Skye Callahan is a bestselling Romantic Suspense author and enjoys writing fiction to explore the darker aspects of human nature and the resiliency needed to survive and overcome difficult situations. She hopes to show that even through the darkest moments and overwhelming circumstances, one can find the inner strength to adapt and eventually heal.
Skye lives in the hills of Appalachia with her husband, Sir, and their feline overlords: Sassy, Knight, Raith, Dresden, and Crowley, and enjoys hanging out in the yard with all of the natural wildlife (except rattlesnakes). When she’s not reading or writing, she might be found in the garden, watching horror movies, or playing video games with Sir. Prior to pursuing writing full-time, Skye earned M.A. in History and participated in numerous local history projects including a full-length Civil War documentary for PBS.
Skye is a member of Romance Writers of America.
- Title: The Grumpy Player Next Door
- Series: Copper Valley Fireballs #3
- Author: Pippa Grant
- Genre: Romantic Comedy
- Release Date: July 8, 2021
The Grumpy Player Next door is a fun-filled enemies-to-lovers romcom featuring a ray of sunshine on a mission, an athlete who’s only grouchy around her, and an epic prank gone wrong. It stands alone and comes complete with small-town shenanigans, a goat who’s not nearly as wise as his name suggests, and proof that sometimes, love is the best kind of vengeance.Per Goodreads
I want to start by being a bit of a fangirl! How does Pippa Grant do it? I’ve read a great many of Pippa Grant’s books and more often than not, I end up with my stomach hurting from trying not to laugh and wake my husband. The absurd situations she puts her characters are extraordinary and never repeated. Meeting Pippa Grant is now on my bucket list.
So, that will be the end of my fangirling.
Chapter 1 opens with Tillie Jean hiding in her brother’s house so she can play a practical joke on him when he returns except the person she ends up pranking is not her brother but one of his teammates and good friends. The problem being: Max doesn’t like Tillie. He despises her. He doesn’t go around her and, if forced, he acts grumpy when he does see Tillie, he is a complete jerk. Tillie in her own fun-spirited way flirts with him just to irritate both him and her brother. These actions continue on and off throughout the book, especially the pranks. And believe me… Tillie Jean gets as good as she gives.
I lost count of all the reasons Max dislikes “Trouble” Jean, as he calls her but they were numerous. Each is actually a reason he loves her but fears for his job and life should he and TJ get together. TJ has two older brothers, one who is reasonable and makes his living as a baker. The other is an overprotective but loving brother who, you guessed it, plays hockey.
I love the way the author is able to blend these characters flawlessly. Each one has a separate demeanor and their mannerisms create truly authentic characters. You are pulled in to their lives quickly, but with this book, the romance is a slow burn that kept me turning pages well into the night.
As mentioned above, the author creates memorable characters whose repartee is fun, witty, and at times a bit sad. Both Tillie Jean and Max Cole narrate in first person. Each chapter begins by telling who is narrating and a short line about what is to come. The writing is filled with witticisms and is easy to read. I am envious of the author’s wit and creativity. I’ve yet to read a book of hers I don’t like.
I squat into position at the top of the stairs, as hidden as I can be while still seeing my target, Nerf blaster locked and loaded, waiting while he fumbles with his keys.
For the record?
It’s not easy to hide at the top of a curved staircase. I’m on my belly now, half-angled behind the wall of the hallway to his guest bedrooms, peering between the slats of the banister, hoping all my target practice pays off.
Dark hair in the foyer…
…a rapid blast of modified foam darts at the six balloons floating in the space above the door.
The other balloons are bursting in a steady, shiny, beautiful pink glitter spray that’s splashed on the walls, exploding from its nylon shell and raining down like a spring shower, coating the walls, making the air sparkle, and dusting all that dark hair as Cooper’s lifting his head. “What the–“
And in the span of a heartbeat, before he can finish that sentence, I realize my mistake.
My terrible, horrible, very bad miscalculation.Tillie Jean, Chapter 1 of The Grumpy Player Next Door via ARC e-book, in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
Originally reviewed on my old blog: Better Read Than Dead (05/05/2015)
- Title: The Iron Traitor: Call of the Forgotten #2
- Series: The Iron Fey
- Author: Julie Kagawa
- Publication Date: October 29, 2013
- Publisher: Harlequin Teen
- Rating: 4 Stars
In the real world, when you vanish into thin air for a week, people tend to notice.
After his unexpected journey into the lands of the fey, Ethan Chase just wants to get back to normal. Well, as “normal” as you can be when you see faeries every day of your life. Suddenly the former loner with the bad reputation has someone to try for-his girlfriend, Kenzie. Never mind that he’s forbidden to see her again.
But when your name is Ethan Chase and your sister is one of the most powerful faeries in the Nevernever, “normal” simply isn’t to be. For Ethan’s nephew, Keirran, is missing, and may be on the verge of doing something unthinkable in the name of saving his own love. Something that will fracture the human and faery worlds forever, and give rise to the dangerous fey known as the Forgotten. As Ethan’s and Keirran’s fates entwine and Keirran slips further into darkness, Ethan’s next choice may decide the fate of them all.
One of my favorite things about Fey is the way they can be adapted, sculpted, and completely reinvented by an author to do anything, be anything, AND then be interpreted by the reader to look or sound or, again, be anything. What I love about Julie Kagawa’s IRON FEY SERIES is the way she can shift between writing terrifying, monstrous creatures who cause my insides to quiver, then write a breathtakingly heartwarming, and surprisingly human scenes the very next paragraph, and everything coheres. Let’s take Keirran as an example.
While The Iron Traitor is told from Ethan’s POV, I think we can all agree, the CALL OF THE FORGOTTEN story about both Ethan and his nephew, Keirran. One human, and one Fey. Throughout the novel, Keirran shifts back and forth between cold, and sometimes sinister, to warm and sorrowful. Granted, Keirran is only half-Fey, he’s been raised in the Nevernever, Mag Tuiredh, to be exact. He’s born of a Winter Prince (Ash) and half Summer Fey Princess/half human turned Iron Queen (Meghan). A boy who possesses the blood of Winter, Summer, Iron, and human… talk about confusing! And all he really wants, is to save his love Annwyl from Fading. You might think with his extensive bloodline he’d have plenty of family and friends to support him, but you would be mistaken. Aside from his parents, he has a few Iron gadgets, Razor, and Ethan. Fey politics aside, the prophecies revolving around both he and Ethan are enough to keep most Fey far away.
The journey to stop Annwyl from Fading is plagued with trouble from the beginning. Keirran is determined to pay whatever price he must to keep his love alive. Her disappearing from existence is not an option, and how often do teenagers, even those not of this world, make well-formed and sound choices when pushed into a corner? (PLEASE, leave me a comment if you know one. I now have 2 and I’m not sure either of them will ever complete this task when not backed against a wall.) Lucky for Keirran, he has a trusty uncle who will fight with him until the end. Too bad they’re both seventeenish.
Ethan, my dear sweet, naive Ethan. When will you learn? So, yeah, Ethan hears his nephew is missing. Meghan and Ash are searching both sides of the Veil for him, and finding nothing. The winds whisper where he’s been, but by the time someone can catch him, he disappears again. Ethan gets pulled into the chase when Annwyl shows up begging for his help. Meghan also took time away as the Iron Queen to make a quick house call, hoping Ethan would have heard from Keirran. No such luck. And, well, if Ethan’s going, then Kenzie’s going too.
Anyone see how this could go wrong?
Did I mention Puck? Yep, you’ll see him too. Guess what… they’re off to see Titania to ask her to reinstate Annwyl into the Summer Court so her Fade will stop. Titania despises Keirran almost as much as she hates humans and Puck.
Even to obtain Queen Titania’s consideration, the two humans and Keirran will be given an almost impossible task. A task they should probably think through, consult a few bazillion people, and then just not do, but as lovesick teenagers, they run straight ahead. It’s entirely possible that Keirran doesn’t have all the facts associated with Annwyl’s exile either. However, I’m going to go on and say… Puck could have hindered them some. Seriously.
Now, the title of this book is ominous in itself. The Iron Traitor? I’m sure you picked up on that, so I’ll leave you with that thought, and also a couple of my favorite passages from this book.
“That’s quite an offer,” he said, lowering his arm. “But I think you’re forgetting something.” “Oh? And what is that, boy?” Keirran dropped to one knee, driving his fist into the wooden floor. There was a blinding flash of blue-white, and I fliched, turning away, as roars and screams erupted around us. But a second later, they cut out as if someone had flipped a switch. My skin burned with cold, and I opened my eyes with a gasp… “I don’t sell out my family.” – page 164
“This was different,” I told her. “I wasn’t forced to do anything. This was a choice.” “Yes, it was,” Kenzie agreed solemnly. “You chose to help a friend. You chose to go along with this request because it was the only way to save his life. To save both their lives.” – page 316
And the reason I will insist on reading Faery Tales to my children, and their children:
“But now—” the Lady made a hopeless, weary gesture “—we are all but gone from their minds. Our stories have been sanitized and made into children’s tales. The Nevernever still exists on the dreams and fears of mortals, but even it grows smaller with each passing year. For those cut off from the dreamworld, we cannot help but Fade into nothing.” – page 339
- Title: The Ravens
- Author: Kass Morgan, Danielle Paige
- Genre: Supernatural/Fantasy
- Publisher: Alloy Entertainment, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
- Release Date: November 3, 2020
- Picture Credit: Goodreads
- Blurb: Kappa Rho Nu isn’t your average sorority. Their parties are notorious. Their fundraisers are known for being Westerly College’s most elaborate affairs. But beneath the veil of Greek life and prestige, the sisters of Kappu Rho Nu share a secret: they’re a coven of witches. For Vivi Deveraux, being one of Kappa Rho Nu’s Ravens means getting a chance to redefine herself. For Scarlett Winters, a bonafide Raven and daughter of a legacy Raven, pledge this year means living up to her mother’s impossible expectations of becoming Kappa Rho Nu’s next president. Scarlett knows she’d be the perfect candidate — that is, if she didn’t have one human-sized skeleton in her closet…. When Vivi and Scarlett are paired as big and little for initiation, they find themselves sinking into the sinister world of blood oaths and betrayals. (Blurb Credit: Goodreads)
I picked up The Ravens by Kass Morgan and Danielle Paige from Barnes and Noble as it was one of their YA Book Club books. The blurb pulled me in and the writing on the pages of the book kept me reading. I have always found books that take place in dorms or something similar. fascinating. The fact that this tale unravels inside the Kappa Rho Nu’s sorority house upped my interest.
The main characters, Vivi Devereaux and Scarlett Winter, belong to the exclusive sorority, Kappa Rho Nu, AKA: The Ravens. Each young lady holds a secret that can never be shared. Rumors have spread throughout the campus. Nobody can pin down exactly what happens inside the house; they just know strange things occur.
The story is written in third person. The point of view shifts between Scarlett and Vivi in separate chapters. Scarlett has known her destiny since birth. Vivi’s mom kept them hopping from town to town and tried her best to steer Vivi away from the past. These two were thrown together from the beginning in what would become an enemies-to-friends tale. Throw in a good dose of magic and a heaping pile of gore and the plot of the story is laid bare.
The Ravens kept me in suspense from the first page until the last. The writing is simplistic with a little too much telling and not enough showing. The story contained characters of all races, which is wonderful. The description of the different races might have been a little too simplistic for me. I enjoy reading character descriptions, such as “her flawless dark mocha skin” or “her face looked like peaches and cream” when discussing ethnicities. It paints a picture that I am likely to forget. The authors chose to use the words “black” and “white” to distinguish race. I will reiterate, I loved this story because of the multiple races interacting together, I only feel that there was a more beautiful way to describe the girls.
In conclusion, The Ravens is exciting and nail biting and full of suspense and gore that kept me reading. The simplistic writing kept the pages turning but disappointed me on another level. It is possible that I have an unpopular opinion on this piece of work. I’ve not read reviews but I have glanced at ratings and it seems it has a great share of 4 and 5 stars. I’m not able to rate it that high but it does come in at a respectable 3.5 with a recommendation to read if a sorority house of magical beings living out their destinies fascinates you.
Get to know yourself. Decide to live your best life as the person you are. People laugh, but I’m 47, married, 2 kids, and as of today, a g-ma. I love my pink hair and I get so many compliments from people of all ages. It has boosted my confidence. I’ll continue to be me!
I’ve suffered from some sort of depression for a very long time, at least 20 years. Most of those years I functioned at a high rate. I took care of three kids–one of who had physical and mental challenges–I worked full time, I went to back to school and became a nurse, I worked in Intensive Care Units… I excelled.
Our son passed away in 2003 and my control over my mental health spiraled. I’m not going to repeat all of this because I’ve written it in my other posts. My husband and I separated shortly after DJ left us. It is unimaginably hard to be strong and need a shoulder to cry on also. Our daughters suffered the most. They had two parents who basically abandoned them. We are so thankful that we both have parents who love unconditionally and were always there for our girls. This is only a fact, absolutely not an excuse.
In 2006, my husband and I found our way back to each other and have been married for 26 years in November. Yes, our family lived in one house again but it took a couple of years to truly become a family again. My oldest spent most of her teenage years hurting and blamed me because I was the one who moved out. Our youngest, well, we’re still trying to figure out how all the traumas and tragedies affected her. She’s 20 and finding her way.
In 2015, I experienced what I would later call a “mental break.” Hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, insomnia, phobias–they all descended on me suddenly. I spent a week in the hospital and another week at a mental health facility. These episodes occurred sporadically for the next four years when we finally found the culprit. UTIs! Peeps, if you think you have a urinary tract infection, go to a doctor immediately.
Now, do I necessarily put all my faith into this development? No, of course not. Did you read about the paranoia? However, I think I’ve only had one episode this year and I had a UTI, so… I am now a frequent flyer at my doctor’s because if I suspect a UTI, even just a little bit, I am there. I don’t even care if they think I’m crazy. I am, it’s been diagnosed and verified, so I have nothing to lose.
Yes, I said it and I’ll say it again, I have formally been diagnosed with Bipolar Depression w/psychosis, insomnia, and PTSD. We’ve spent years trying to get my meds right and I currently think they are balanced and I feel wonderful! Which brings me to the point of this post. With all I’ve been through in the past 17 years…
I AM NOT GOING TO BREAK! I WILL NOT SHATTER. I WILL LIVE MY LIFE.
There are people in my life that need to hear these words. I’m a bit fragile, but give me a little time and I will put my head on straight and fight my way back to an even keel.
In October of 2019, I accompanied my parents and my youngest daughter on my first vacation since 2015. We went to see my sister and her wife. They are great people to stay with because they are vacation planners. Everyday we went somewhere and did something fun. I went to my first Dia de los Muertos parade. This is a tradition I fell in love with long ago after reading a book that included this celebration of life. (Now, my motif contains a variety of sugar skulls and other themed decor.)
Unfortunately, directly after this adventure my mother-in-law was admitted to the hospital twice. This was pre-COVID, so family members were allowed to be with her whenever possible. Since my husband and sister-in-law work, I spent a great amount of time with her. Time I treasure. Time I will never regret. She passed in December of 2019.
I was able to be a shoulder for my husband during this time, though we both grieved. Our daughters grieved the loss of not only their grandmother but of a lady who helped raise them as if they were her own. We all held each other together. This loss resides in many hearts.
Since then, I have been able to deal with other surprises, good or bad. I’ve learned that if I need to sleep a bit, I go do it. If my lupus, RA, or fibromyalgia flares, I know what treatments work the best and do them. I rarely have a day when I can’t get out of bed, but my back acted up last week and I didn’t feel guilty about it. I take my medicines as directed, and for the most part, I’m able to live my life… well, with the exception of COVID because none of us are living our best lives at the moment.
I cannot stress how much taking the time to know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, because when you own your weaknesses you can make them strengths. Crazy, I know. But absolutely my truth.
I’m far from finished with the work it took to get to today. There will be more work tomorrow and everyday after that. Is there a chance I may have a relapse, absolutely. Now I know that my family and doctors are here to help and have been my people all this time. (If I should relapse, I hope I remember this. This seems to be something I have bad hallucinations about.)
In the meantime, be whoever you are. Be a 47 year-old, almost grandmother and color your hair pink. You might be surprised at the compliments you get.
Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . . A convict with a thirst for revenge A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager A runaway with a privileged past A spy known as the Wraith A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
To date, I have read all of Ms. Bardugo's works and each hold a special place in my heart. The Six of Crows duology is integrated with charismatic characters who all embody some facet of a psychological or mood disorder. Engrossing and tortuous world-building hold the reader hostage, flipping page after page. I am thankful I decided to read Six of Crows after Crooked Kingdom had already released. The ginormous cast of characters proved to be a bit confusing in the beginning. You can see all of my little sticky notes in the picture. Each had a distinct personality rife with goodness and flaws, though at times they only seemed criminal. And, they were criminals, every single man and woman. Yes, perhaps boys and girls sounds right, but all Ms. Bardugo's books hang on the edge of adult fantasy. The criminality of this particular duology is definitely for a more mature reader.
Kaz is an anti-hero. Every defining characteristic was born from the first time he washed up on Ketterdam's shore as a young child. He thieved, lied, and schemed his way to a comfortable position among the gangs surrounding the docks. He is business savvy and knows the types of individuals he needs to complete any mission. The largest problem is knowing who to trust. Six of Crows is a luring tale of deviance, trust, crime, and especially friendship. Ms. Bardugo's ability to craft twisted but ultimately redeemable villains sets the stage for quite the drama. The story is written in third person with each chapter told from a different point-of-view. As is my usual opinion, multiple point-of-views allow a deeper understanding of the characters. I highly recommend this gorgeous read to those who love beguiling fantasies with the allusion of a crime drama. Finally, I will leave you with a couple of my favorite quotes.
Jesper knocked his head against the hull and cast his eyes heavenward, “Fine. But if Pekka Rollins kills us all, I’m going to get Wylan’s ghost to teach my ghost how to play the flute just so that I can annoy the hell out of your ghost.”Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo; page 181
Jesper just grinned and whispered, “Well, we’ve managed to get ourselves locked into the most secure prison in the world. We’re either geniuses or the dumbest sons of bitches to ever breathe air.”Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo; page 181
Looking at the quotes I tagged, I will go on record as saying Jesper is my favorite character. Trigger warning: violence and language
- Title: The Damned (Beautiful #2)
- Series: The Beautiful
- Publisher: G.P. Putman and Sons/Penguin’s Random House
- Author: Renee Ahdieh
- Source: Bought hardback from Amazon
- Goodreads Blurb:
Following the events of The Beautiful, Sébastien Saint Germain is now cursed and forever changed. The treaty between the Fallen and the Brotherhood has been broken, and war between the immortals seems imminent. The price of loving Celine was costly. But Celine has also paid a high price for loving Bastien.
Still recovering from injuries sustained during a night she can’t quite remember, her dreams are troubled. And she doesn’t know she has inadvertently set into motion a chain of events that could lead to her demise and unveil a truth about herself she’s not quite ready to learn.
Forces hiding in the shadows have been patiently waiting for this moment for centuries. And just as Bastien and Celine begin to uncover the danger around them, they learn their love could tear them apart.
Admittedly, when I read Beautiful I did not know the novel reintroduced vampires into the YA genre. As I continued reading the more I fell in love with Sebastian and his band of misfits. This series is not only fraught with the danger of vampires, but as we learn in The Damned, other monsters pepper the pages. Fae, witches, werewolves, the Fallen, etc.
A majority of the book is told from Sebastian’s POV. His character grows immensely throughout the story. Many secrets are revealed, most are twisting turns that surprise and shock. The pace of the novel picks up as the pages turn and before long I was immersed and surprised when I flipped the last page sadness vibrated throughout my mind.
The Damned is written in multiple POVs with Sebastien’s being the only one written in first person. The other characters’ POVs are all in third person. As I mentioned earlier, the beginning is a little slow but picks up quickly. The story flows with wonderful world-building and character development. The prose is descriptive and makes you feel as if you are traipsing along Sebastien’s journey with him as he searches for a mysterious being who is rumored to have the power to “unmake” vampires.
Overall, this is one of the best stories I have read in 2020. I found virtually no mistakes. I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy paranormal romance. The content is heavy on the paranormal and light on the romance, but the tension is always there.
Trigger Warnings: slight violence
Quarantine and isolation provide a perfect time for self-retrospection. Often, we avoid participating in an honest self-inventory for various reasons. Possibly, this process is something you have never experienced, or even heard of. Sometimes we are afraid because traumatic experiences aren’t something anybody would enjoy reliving. Often times, denial plays a gigantic role in our reluctance of reflection.
With too much time to think, I’ve thought back over my life ranging from my first memories throughout my current age. Each life-changing event is bookmarked in my brain and I’m ready to dig through them. My life has been far from ordinary so stick around for all the foolishness of my teens, the traumatic grief of my late twenties and early thirties, my seriously psychotic forties, and finally my adventure back to normalcy.
Feel free to stick around and enjoy some seriously candid crazy stories.