Friday, 22 October 2021

REVIEW - AWAKENED - DIABLO LAKE BY LAUREN DANE

 

Title: Awakened
Series: Diablo Lake
Author: Lauren Dane

Publisher: Carina Press, Harlequin
Genre: Romance, Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Release Date: 26th October 2021

BLURB from Goodreads
It’s autumn in Diablo Lake and the town is buzzing with preparations for Halloween, Samhain, Collins Hill Days, and the wedding of the newly elected mayor and her wolf shifter fiancĂ©.

Ruby Thorne can’t think of a better time of year to come back for good and open the health clinic she’s been planning for the last six years. Her connection to the town and its veins of magic have snapped back into place, flooding her with a power eager to jump to her call.

She has a sense of rightness. This witch is exactly where she’s supposed to be. So it’s not much of a surprise that he comes back into her path just like he was meant to…

Damon Dooley has spent the last few years learning how to run the pack at his older brother’s right hand. There’s been upheaval. Outrage. Violence. Old rules have created a silence so crushing it’s collapsed the fabric of not just the wolf shifters, but the town as a whole.

And yet, Ruby has returned. Man and wolf agree she needs to be in their life regularly, and before long, things move from serious to something magically deeper.

Bound to one another heart and soul, both committed to what’s best for Diablo Lake, Ruby backs Damon as he pushes for much-needed change. But when something falls into Ruby’s lap and she learns the whole, terrible truth, secrets need to be spilled. How—and by whom—becomes the only question.
 

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REVIEW
I had initially been a little worried about remembering relevant things and the names of those that live in Diablo Lake, but honestly, I needn’t have worried at all. From the minute Ruby steps in to support her best friend and soon to be married Aimee against her soon to be bitchy mother-in-law, Scarlett Pembry I felt pulled back into both the world and lives of the Diablo Lake residents.

Ruby Thorne has returned home to her witch family in Diablo Lake, she is now qualified and ready to open the health clinic that’s been in planning for six years. Ruby is happy to be home, in fact it feels amazing.

Ruby had been dating Damon Dooley before she left Diablo Lake and they both agreed to put an end to their “romance” before she left, giving them both options to date other people rather than trying a long distance relationship. Though they parted on really good terms and it had been a mutual decision the can’t help but feel a little awkward around each other when they bump into one another in Diablo Lake. The universe seems to be throwing the couple in the direction of each other, as when Ruby wants somewhere to live, it is Damon that as part of his real estate business shows her the homes available. There are three properties to choose from and choosing where to live is important as Ruby needs her “witchy” side to feel at home and comfortable. It also seems that Ruby is in demand with both Dooley and Pembry pack hoping she will choose to live on their land. Having a witch on your land can be very advantageous to either pack.

This book has all the warm cosy witchy, shifter pack vibes with some romance and pack politics thrown in. What with all that and the upcoming wedding of the newly elected Mayor Aimee who is marrying the Pembry Pack Alpha, Macrae. Then there’s the traditions of Halloween, Samhain, and Collins Hill Days to be observed and celebrated Diablo Lake is certainly bustling. Ruby is also busy with Katie Faith getting the newly opened health centre up and running.

The younger, newer Alpha’s and their younger pack members want to create and keep a truce between the two packs. They want to modernise the laws and the way punishments are dealt with and talked about. There’s one particular law that both Alpha’s want to get rid of, but there is a lot of negativity and obstructions being thrown in the path to doing this. It is of course the “queen of mean” Scarlett Pembry at the bottom of not wanting the law changing, which eventually has people, particularly Ruby wondering what Scarlett and the older members of her family have to hide!

I adore the nods to normal life that Lauren Dane includes in her books, such as one of the characters shopping and using a trolley that has a wonky wheel. It seems even paranormal beings have inadequate trolleys! I loved the way the other male shifters, Jace, Macrae and twin brother Major had an easy camaraderie and thoroughly enjoyed teasing Damon and Ruby. I also thought the way the possibility of Ruby’s beloved grandmother Pearl perhaps beginning to succumb to the onset of dementia was handle truthfully, realistically and sensitively. I loved how Pearl Thorne, cheekily, unashamedly flirted with her grand-daughter Ruby’s fiancĂ© Damon. The author takes you through a whole range of emotions and character journeys whilst reading the book. There’s so much going on in Awakened, the romance of the wedding and rekindled love, old feuds still being held onto, cantankerous shifters not willing to change and accept help from the new health centre. The girls get togethers are always funny, referred to as “Nip, Stitch & Bitch” meetings. I really like the feelings of belonging and family within the book too. The endearing yet at the same time comedic interactions between shifter Damon and Ruby’s dogs make great reading.

My immediate thoughts upon finishing the book were that I had really enjoyed re-visiting Diablo Lake and its residents.

Summing up despite it being “years” since reading the first two books, I found that I easily slipped back into the world of Diablo Lake and loved reading this book. I do really hope that Lauren Dane writes and releases more books in this great shifter/witch, magical series.

Monday, 18 October 2021

BLOG TOUR - LIES MY MEMORY TOLD ME BY SACHA WUNSCH

  

From the thrilling voice of Sacha Wunsch comes a heart-stopping psychological mystery in a world where memories can be shared—but maybe not trusted.


Title: Lies My Memory Told Me
Author: Sacha Wundsch
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller
Release Date: 19th October 2021

BLURB supplied by Harlequin Trade Publishing
Enhanced Memory changed everything. By sharing someone else’s memory, you can experience anything and everything with no risk at all: learn any skill instantly, travel the world from home, and safeguard all your most treasured secrets forever. Nova’s parents invented this technology, and it’s slowly taking over their lives. That’s where Nova comes in. She can pick up the slack for them—and she doesn’t mind. She knows Enhanced Memory is a gift, and its value outweighs its costs.

But Kade says Nova doesn’t even know the costs. Kade runs a secret vlog cataloging real experiences, is always on the move, and he’s strangely afraid of Nova—even though she feels more comfortable with him than she ever has with anyone. Suddenly there are things Nova can’t stop noticing: the way her parents don’t meet her eyes anymore, the questions no one wants her to ask, and the relentless feeling like there’s something she’s forgotten.

But there’s danger around every corner, and her own home might be the most dangerous place of all.

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EXCERPT

Prologue

The platform was a hundred and fifty feet up.

I tried not to look down.

I hadn’t even known I was afraid of heights until the moment I stood up there.

The stranger came up to me, grinning. “You’re going to love it,” he said.

I swallowed.

My entire body was sweating, most notably my palms, slipping as I tried to grip the safety harness.

Was I really going to do this?

No. I was going to get unclipped, turn around, and simply climb back down what felt like the millions of stairs stretching below me.

And then, just as I started to turn, someone pushed me off the platform.

I screamed as I dropped, nothing but air beneath me.

And then… I started to glide.

The scream kept coming a few seconds more, but my heart did a flip before it could reach my mind. I was soaring. Over the treetops. Whizzing along the zip line at high speeds. It was the best thing I had ever felt.

I had never been this free. Which made sense, I was essentially flying, after all.

Giggling was very much not in my nature, but there I was, giggling anyway. I closed my eyes to get a better sense of the wind on my face, but when the sweet scent of fresh-blooming flowers greeted me, I opened them again. Sure enough, the trees several yards below my feet were blooming some kind of large purple flower.

I sucked in a breath, wishing I could inhale the whole scene, wanting to appreciate it as much as I could—savor it—know­ing it wouldn’t last forever, and landed gently on the other side.

I did not have to be pushed off the second platform—barely able to wait my turn to jump again. I soared from platform to platform, wishing nothing more than for this to go on for­ever, grinning all the way, and realizing only at the last sec­ond that the final landing platform wasn’t a platform at all, but a deep, cooling pool.

I sucked in a breath, and with a final burst of adrenaline, I splashed into the crystal-clear water.

TWENTY MINUTES EARLIER

“Come on, open it,” Mom said, her smiling beaming.

I held the small, beautifully wrapped box, unable to imag­ine what it was. My parents knew I wasn’t really that into jewelry, and neither were they really, but what else could be in such a small box?

I tore into it and flipped the lid open.

Which confused me even more. It wasn’t a ring or a pen­dant, just a small metal disk.

Dad sensed my confusion. “Give it a second,” he said, beaming even brighter than Mom.

In a blink, a form emerged, a hologram above the disk. There was no sound, but it looked like the person in the ho­logram was gliding through the tops of trees high in the air.

“This is…really cool,” I said, and meant it, but couldn’t help but feel like I was missing something.

Mom was practically bouncing on the couch. “We wanted to do something special for your birthday.”

“Thank you” was all I could really think to say. The disk was pretty cool, but what the hell was with their enthusiasm?

“You’re welcome Nova,” Dad said. “But this isn’t the whole thing. It’s the experience of it that’s the real gift.”

“The experience of it?”

Mom had gotten up and gone to the desk by the front door. She picked up another box, this one unwrapped, and pulled something from inside.

“Here, you put this on,” she said, handing me a clunky set of headphones plugged into a small handheld device about the size of a phone.

“The disk goes in there,” Dad said, and showed me how to open it, setting my new present inside.

And then I experienced my first ever zip line.

As the experience ended, I blinked my eyes open, a hun­dred percent sure I’d be soaking wet, but I was sitting right back in my living room. The sensation was a bit disorienting, but my parents were staring at me like they were about to explode.

“What was that?” I asked, grabbing the hem of my shirt, which I couldn’t quite comprehend being dry.

“That was Enhanced Memory,” Dad said, but the look on his face said so much more—like if he’d had feathers, they’d be plumaged out like the most badass peacock of the bunch.

“What did you think?” Mom asked, clasping her hands like she had so much energy whizzing through her body she had to do something to hold it in.

“Well obviously it was amazing, but by the way you two are acting, you already know that.” I couldn’t help but grin. They were just so cute sitting there all proud of themselves. “But seriously, what is this? What is Enhanced Memory?”

I’d seen 3D movies and had even tried virtual reality once, but this was way beyond either of those. This was next level.

“It’s simple,” Dad said. “The headphones are equipped with dozens of…well, let’s call them electrodes for sake of ease, though really, they’re more advanced than that.”

“Okay,” I said, mostly with him still, although knowing Dad it wouldn’t be long until the science-y droning took hold and steered him right off the layman’s term trail.

“And these,” he said, taking the disk out of the machine and holding it up, “are Memories.”

“Memories.”

Mom nodded. “We discovered a way to extract memories and reproduce them.”

“Wait, you guys created this?”

Mom nodded, her smile huge and eyes wide. “This is what we’ve been working toward all these years.”

My mouth dropped open. I knew my parents had been working on some kind of project for a long time, but I guess I hadn’t really been that interested in what it was.

Mom laughed at my stunned expression while Dad came over to give me one of his signature kisses on the top of my head.

“Happy birthday, sweetheart,” Mom said, beaming.

I mean, they were scientists and science was basically the last thing I wanted to pay attention to, so I never really asked many questions.

But this was way beyond science. This was…actually kind of awesome.

A smile crept across my face. I couldn’t wait to try it again.

Excerpted from Lies My Memory Told Me by Sacha Wunsch, Copyright © 2021 by Sacha Wunsch. Published by Inkyard Press.
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sacha Wunsch grew up dividing her time between the family farm in Canada and traveling to numerous fictional worlds. She was a bookseller before discovering her love of writing mind-twisty novels - which has proved an excellent job since she gets to blame all the TV she watches on her love of storytelling. She now splits her time between the city and the lake, and still travels to made-up worlds as often as she can.
 
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