Book Review: Flintelf (Exili’s Excellent Elucidation Services, #1) by Victoria Bastedo

Flintelf (Exili’s Excellent Elucidation Services, #1) by Victoria Bastedo

A Fantasy/Cozy Mystery novel published by Amazon Digital Services (10/13/2020)

Summary:

“What made the pure elves in the past great, or their bloodline desirable, if it wasn’t the quality of their souls, and their actions?”

Exili has started his own business of elucidation. His clients are also victims. Potential victims, if he can convince them to pay him to prevent their murder, that is. Exili’s next potential client happens to also be a previous school mate. Exili and Goodall hadn’t spoken since school when they had a falling out. Exili doesn’t want his client to die, but he’s also annoyed that he’s got to convince Goodall to hire him. Why couldn’t it be someone else stalked by a murderer?

Keywords:

Caste, Elves, Mystery, Murder, Murder Prevention, Entrepreneur, Friendship, Bad Blood, Pure, High Born, Feet

My Review:

Quirky Fantasy. Fantasy with a foot focus…

I don’t often read fantasy so I was delighted that this book was part fantasy, part cozy mystery, part supernatural. I also really liked that I couldn’t guess the ending until the end and that the mystery the main character Exili has to solve is part of a larger plot that is revealed slowly over time.

I loved the quirky fantasy element that the author creates with her idea of ‘elucidation.’ I especially enjoyed the fact that Exili elucidates… with his feet! He must actually touch items with his feet to elucidate as accurately as possible and the scene where he must touch a bunch of things with his feet was particularly hilarious.

I’m not sure how I feel about the caste system and the various people groups’ placement in society based on ‘true blood’ that Bastedo describes in this world. This would be a great discussion for a book club, especially the fact that features and skin color were ascribed to certain people groups. I liked the term ‘people groups’ as well. There are humans (as I call myself) as a people group. There are the Flintelfs and the Farris people groups.

Like other Bastedo books, this one features a feel-good message and a happy ending.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services 10/13/2020 and is available on Amazon here.

TLDR Star Rating: 4.00

Links for more information:

Goodreads

FreeValleyPublishing

Victoria Bastedo WordPress

Book Review: Canopy by D.M. Darroch

Canopy by D.M. Darroch

A Dystopic YA Novel published by Sleepy Cat Press (01/04/21)

Summary:

“I had tremendous arm span, enviable upper body strength, and powerful feet that gripped tree limbs like hands.” (Kindle location 1703).

Many, many years ago people lived on the ground. When the earth was on the brink of destruction, a group of people climbed thousands of feet into the trees. Now, the community in the canopy is a close-knit group. So close that gossip spreads almost as fast as the potential plummet down to the ground. Everyone has their place and their purpose. Ostrya’s place is as an apprentice doctor. Her mentor is also her mother. Her purpose was assigned to her at birth when she inherited the canopy doctor’s trademark blue/green eye combo. But Ostrya doubts her role as community doctor. She is too different from the others. Too alone and outcast for them to trust her. She would rather spend her time climbing, exploring, or making rope anyways. But she bears the teaching and tries to settle into her role until a devastating storm tears through the canopy and reveals new gossip that could unravel everything Ostrya has been working towards.

Keywords:

Dystopian, Coming of Age, Canopy, Trees, Climbing, Gossip, Friendship, Doctor, Community, Rationing, Apprenticeship, Teaching

My Review:

If I were to describe this book in one word I would say that it is ‘polished.’ I couldn’t put this book down it was so entirely engaging from the plot to the characters to the pacing to the writing style and word choice. Even the ending was  flawless. The story that follows the main character Ostrya was expertly wrapped up but the overarching story of the world she lives in – the Canopy and the ground below – left me wanting to start the second book in this series immediately. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a solid story that was very well written.

I really liked Ostrya and the way that she was portrayed in Canopy. She has her faults and she makes poor decisions but she is almost always making choices as a good person. Sometimes she cannot see beyond her own teen angst and wishes, but she also cares so much about those around her! Ostrya has a purpose in her world, as the future doctor in the community, but she doesn’t feel like she can live up to her Mother’s and grandfather’s examples. She also doesn’t feel like being a doctor is her real calling. But what else, other than climbing, is she good at? Ostrya questions herself and her abilities (not her climbing skills though) throughout the course of the book, meanwhile she knows that what she’s been told her whole life about her society and the world below on the ground can’t possibly be true. What is the truth and why are the elders spreading lies?

The world building in this story was masterfully woven into the descriptions, dialogue, action, and thoughts of the characters. I loved the details of everyday life in this tree world. They elevated the story and set it firmly in this science fiction/dystopic place of what if… What if humans abandoned the ground and generations of evolution passed thousands of feet above in the trees? The world felt genuine and alive. This civilization felt unique yet still surrounded by the faults and flaws of humanity. Gossip runs rampant in this society. Societal pressures still exist but are different because of the environment that the characters live in. I love how the story included multiple aspects of society so that I felt like I could see the world as a whole – including school, daycare, doctors, gardens, hunting, exploring, love, relationships, etc.

I received a free ARC for an honest review.

This novel was published by Sleepy Cat Press on 01/04/2021 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

D.M. Darroch’s Website

Apple Link

Barnes and Noble Link

2021 Net Worth and Monthly Spending Update

Here are some charts I made to compare my monthly spending over 2020, 2019, and 2018. I didn’t include taxes or my monthly HSA withholdings from my paycheck. But you can see where I spend the most of my money. This pie chart only accounts for 42% of my gross income. The rest of it goes towards taxes, HSA paycheck withholdings, investing, and savings. The purpose of these charts is to show changes in spending over time (across different categories).

Here are a few more fun numbers:

  1. I decreased my spending by 28% from 2018 to 2019 while increasing my income 16%
  2. I increased my spending 4% from 2019 to 2020 while increasing my income 3%
  3. I increased my total net worth by 73% from 2019 to 2020
  4. 40% of my spending was in “health” in 2018, 28% in “housing” in 2019, and 26% in “housing” in 2020 as my largest spend categories
  5. Eating comprises my highest spend category after housing in general. 22% in 2020, 30% in 2019, and 16% in 2018. As a non-fixed cost, this is quite high and if I were to cut back on spending this would be the ‘easiest’ category to cut back in. Even though I meal plan and have almost no food waste, I don’t budget this category and it’s my most indulgent spending throughout the year.
  6. My credit score took a dive in January of 2020 (I think because they changed how they calculate) by 7% and recovered 3% throughout the year.

Here is another way of looking at my spending categories over time. Note that I broke out my ‘writing’ category in 2020 and it’s now captured not as personal spending/income but in my business expenses so you don’t see it here in 2020.

The next two pie charts show my net worth split categories:

2020 Reading Challenge Books in Review and Recommended Reads

I spent $26.33 on kindle books this year

My favorite books I read this year:

  • What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful by Marshall Goldsmith
  • I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee
  • Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
  • Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
  • Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
  • A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #1) by Holly Jackson
  • Be Not Far from Me by Mindy McGinnis
  • Parachutes by Kelly Yang
  • Slay by Brittney Morris
  • The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
  • Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler, Cass R. Sunstein
  • Fix Her Up (Hot & Hammered #1) by Tessa Bailey
  • The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte
  • Bent Heavens by Daniel Kraus
  • This Mortal Coil (This Mortal Coil #1) by Emily Suvada
  • Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich
  • Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport
  • Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult
  • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  • The Bride Test (The Kiss Quotient #2) by Helen Hoang

My favorite Indie books that I read this year:

  1. The Alien in the Backseat by Phillip Knight Scott
  2. Destination Azurah by Victoria Bastedo
  3. Exile (Forbidden Things #2) by Nikki McCormack
  4. Apostate (Forbidden Things #3) by Nikki McCormack
  5. Drawing Breath (Drawing Breath #1-3) by Laurie Boris
  6. The Anti-Virginity Pact (The Pact #1) by Katie Wismer
  7. Flight of the Spark: Book 1 of the Outlawed Myth Fantasy Series (The Outlawed Myth #1) by Evelyn Puerto

 

Out of the 65 books that I read:

11 Indie Books

8 Nonfiction Books

 

The books I read this year:

I think I will make my challenge for next year 100 books!

2019 Reading Challenge Blog Post

2018 Reading Challenge Blog Post

2017 Reading Challenge Blog Post

2016 Reading Challenge Blog Post

2015 Reading Challenge Blog Post

Goals and Accomplishments from 2020 and Future Goals for 2021

Goals list of 2014
Goals list of 2015
Goals list of 2016
Goals list of 2017
Goals list of 2018
Goals list of 2019


2021 Goals!!!

  • 2021 Describe yourself in 3 words:
    • 2021 Describe what you want more of in 3 words: Vacation, Attentive, Patience
    • Theme for 2021: Plan
  • 2020 Describe yourself in 3 words: Anxious, Quick, Analytic
    • 2020 Describe what you want more of in 3 words: Patience, Deliberate, Calm
    • Theme for 202: Hygge
  • 2019 Describe yourself in 3 words: Driven, Efficient, Restless
    • 2019 Describe what you want more of in 3 words: Calm, Accomplished, Considerate
    • Theme for 2019: Minimize

 

Fitness goals 2020:

I want to try out some small lifestyle change style challenges. I wanted to spend each month focusing on a different aspect of health and fitness. Here are my ideas so far: stretching every morning, increasing my water intake, cooking all my own food, reading more self-growth books, eating more veggies, biking/running, reducing my sugar intake. I very much enjoy the Blogilates challenges and may continue to use those challenges and/or the monthly calendar. 2020 Fitness Actual: I didn’t go forward with this 12-month style challenge and meandered a lot throughout the year with my fitness. I joined a 4-week lifestyle and fitness group challenge and then completed the P-90X fitness course. I completed the Divine 12 days of fitness challenge (taking 12 online classes within 17 days). I tried out an advent style fitness challenge that I abandoned 15 days in because it was too much for my body.

Fitness goals 2021:

  • Freestanding handstand
  • Take floorwork intermediate series
  • Pass intermediate inversions into advanced inversions at Divine Movement Dance
  • Get to 12 pullups of any kind in a row
  • Bike 1000 total on my ebike (already 390 from 2020)

 

Finances Goals 2020:

  1. Max out my Roth IRA, 401k and HSA contributions
    1. Nailed it! Maxed out all three of these investment accounts
  2. Build up my emergency savings to 6 months
    1. I think I’ve accomplished this goal. If I were to rely on my emergency savings, I wouldn’t spend as much as I do currently monthly so what I have saved would actually last 6 months. If I were to calculate 6 month’s spending then I’m I’m $2300 short of a complete 6 month’s emergency savings. In another 8 months I would have that amount in my emergency savings with my automatic savings plan.
  3. Save 50% of my income.
    1. I spent 40% of my gross income
    2. I spent 53% of my net income
  4. Reach 6-figure net worth
    1. Mid-December I hit this goal!

Finances Goals 2021:

  1. Max out my Roth IRA, 401k and HSA contributions
  2. Save 50% of my income

 

Writing Goals 2020:

  • Deplete my physical book inventory
    • Sold/gave away 42 print books this year!
  • Break even on Ataxia and At One’s Beast
    • With my marketing push, I was able to meet this goal in January!
  • Revamp my website
    • Pushed this off
  • Write 4 short stories
  • Send out 4 newsletters
    • Technically I already met this goal with my early December promotional newsletter, but I have one more to send out for my end of year recap.
  • Publish a new coloring book
    • Did not pursue this new project

Writing Goals 2021

  • Deplete my physical book inventory
  • Go to a conference/workshop for writing
  • Revamp website
  • Finish outlining Two for Tiny
  • Finish first draft of Two for Tiny

 

Personal Goals 2021

  1. Take a bookkeeping class
  2. Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification
  3. Build a seed library and/or trellis
  4. Grow loofah
  5. Take a doughnut making class
  6. Take goat/bunny yoga class
  7. Face time with friends/family every month

 

For Q1 here are my specific goals:

  • Financial: Update my death binder and review finances on my birthday 1/22
  • Fitness: Personal session for handstands, 2 stretch classes, no sweets and treats until my birthday (1/22)
  • Writing: Book giveaway for my birthday, newsletter, Review two Indie Books (Canopy by D.M. Darroch and Flintelf by Victoria Bastedo), quote and plan for website revamp
  • Personal: Face time with Rich, Face Time with Chris, Face Time with Danelle; Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification exam in February

2020 Physical Activity – Dance, Health, and Fitness

How do you work out?

Pole Dancing Highlights for 2020
2. I took 35 classes total
3. I spent $225 total (I have credit as an ambassador that I use towards classes)
4. I spent 55.75 hours in class
5. I worked with 7 different instructors

Lifetime money spent (just for pole classes): $7139.95
2014 – $90
2015 – $422.21
2016 – $1777
2017 – $2594
2018 – $1465.74
2019 – $566
2020 – $225

Lifetime total pole classes: 445
2014 – 6
2015 – 19
2016 – 109
2017 – 139
2018 – 92
2019 – 37
2020 – 35

Total time spent poling: 703.25 hours (29.3 days)
2014 – 10.5 hours
2015 – 37.5 hours
2016 – 173.5 hours
2017 – 226 hours
2018 – 144.5 hours
2019 – 55.5 hours
2020 – 55.75 hours

Class Breakdown at different studios for 2020
Divine – 20/35 = 57%
Spinderella – 14/35 = 40%
Habitat Pole and Fitness – 1/35 = 3%

 

In other fitness accomplishments:

  • I biked 446.5 miles (390 miles on my new ebike)
  • I took 16 stretch and flexibility classes
  • I took 3 booty dance classes
  • I took 1 yoga class
  • I took 3 inversions conditioning classes
  • I took 3 handstands classes
  • I took 4 Pilates classes
  • I played soccer one time (and practiced several times)
  • I completed P90X along with some other Beach Body classes
  • I lost 3% body fat over the summer
  • I was able to do 9 chin-ups in a row
  • 7/17/2020 ran a 10:03 mile (after a 13:50 mile and then 11:02 mile with exercise-induced asthma)

My favorite fitness photos: Running up a small pyramid in Teotihuacán, Mexico; biking home across the 520 bridge over Lake Washington on my new ebike; camel pose success during Divine flexibility class

2019 Physical Activity Blog Post Breakdown

2018 Physical Activity Blog Post Breakdown

2017 Physical Activity Blog Post Breakdown

2016 Physical Activity Blog Post Breakdown

2015 Physical Activity Blog Post Breakdown

2020: AMC A-List – Watched and Recommended Movies for the Year

Total cost paid for movies watched in 2020 in theatres and VOD: $112.7… total value for movies watched =$327.34 + VOD ; Favorite movie of the year: Soul

Total cost paid for movies watched in 2019 in theatres: $278.15… total value for movies watched = $1,281.67

Total cost paid for movies watched in 2018 in theatres: $297.42… total value for movies watched = $839.45

“*” indicates a movie I particularly enjoyed and would recommend.

 

January: $96.43 value… paid $23.05

  • *Spies in Disguise ($12.99)
  • *Queen & Slim ($12.99)
  • *Star Wars the Rise of Skywalker in Laser Imax ($18.49)
  • Uncut Gems ($12.99)
  • *1917 ($12.99)
  • Bad Boys for Life ($19.49)
  • The Turning ($12.99)
  • The Gentlemen ($12.99)

February: $77.95 value… paid $23.05

  • Gretel and Hansel ($12.99)
  • *Birds of Prey ($19.49)
  • Sonic ($19.49)
  • Fantasy Island ($12.99)
  • Brahms: the Boy II ($12.99)

March: $74.01 value… paid $33.60

  • *Onward ($19.49)
  • The Way Back ($12.99)
  • Bloodshot ($17.99)
  • *The Hunt ($12.99)
  • *Invisible Man ($10.55 in pesos at our trip in Mexico)

April:

  • Trolls World Tour (VOD)

May:

  • Scoob! (VOD)

June:

  • Artemis Fowl (VOD)
  • *Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (VOD)
  • *My Spy (VOD)

July:

  • Hamilton (VOD)
  • The Old Guard (VOD)

August:

  • The One and Only Ivan (VOD)

September:

  • Mulan (VOD)
  • The Social Dilemma (VOD)
  • *Enola Holmes (VOD)

October: $46.97 value… paid $16.50 for HBO Max

  • New Mutants ($13.49)
  • Tenet ($19.99)
  • Unhinged ($13.49)
  • Hubie Halloween (VOD)
  • The Trial of the Chicago 7 (VOD)
  • The Witches (VOD)
  • *Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (VOD)

November: $31.98 value… paid $16.50 for HBO Max

  • War with Grandpa ($13.49)
  • *Freaky ($18.49)

December:  $?? value… paid $0

  • Songbird (Advanced Screening home viewing)
  • Greenland (Advanced Screening home viewing)
  • Wonder Woman 1984 (VOD)
  • *Soul (VOD)

2020 Best and Worst Purchases of the Year, Favorite Restaurants, Favorite Activities

Top Purchases for the year:

Getting my hair professionally cut and highlighted – I was starting to get a weird bowl cut looking vibe and as soon as it was highlighted, I feel like my look was completely transformed and I loved my hair again.

Amy Cohen’s masks bundles for myself, boyfriend, grandparents, and parents – Not only was I supporting someone I knew (mother of a friend), but these masks were adorable and after months of wear they still hold up!

Lush shampoo bar – I have loved every sample and bar that I’ve tried from Lush. They are super sudsy and very long-lasting. They travel very well – no leaking!

Native deodorant – I really like the natural scents and it’s one of the best natural deodorants that I’ve tried over the past few years.

ebike – I bought a secondhand Raleigh Sprite iE 45cm 2017 from someone who had used it as a commuter bike in Seattle (a gamble!) and I absolutely love this bike. I’m really happy that it works and I only spent $1000. I’ve already put over 300 miles on this bike and it makes biking where hills are involved pleasurable.

Low cost DIY pallet garden – I was able to build and plant my garden for just over $200 because I spent time and effort sourcing free materials and was gifted several tomato starts and the time and help of my friends and family.

Garage fridge – After cleaning out the mini fridge I got for free several years ago, I left it to defrost outside and it never turned back on so I invested in a $200 compact but full-sized fridge for the garage that we put all our hard cider and fridge overflow into. This was a great investment since there are three of us sharing our small full-sized kitchen fridge.

Orgain Keto chocolate (especially on sale at Costco) – I love this tuff! I can make a mousse when I mix it with milk. I can make hot chocolate when I mix it with hot milk. I put it into my granola bowls to make them taste like dessert.

Rock paint markers – I got really into rock painting as a new hobby in the summer and have been hiding and gifting the painted rocks all over town. This set works so well though I have accidentally squished down the top of the white too much. They don’t have a fine tip, which is mostly okay and I can make adequately detailed rocks.

Pecan pie from Grocery Outlet – Who knew my favorite pie was pecan? Thanks to my partner for picking pecan, now I know that it’s my favorite! Grocery Outlet’s $5 pecan pie was the best pie we’ve found this season.

Fiskars Micro-Tip Blades – I went all out for my DIY garden this year and love the clean and sharp pruning scissors I got to help me harvest my greens.

Soccer shoes – Though we only got to play one time with other people before lockdown, my boyfriend and I enjoyed multiple nights of practice play and these shoes made so much of a difference!

Top Gifts for the year:

Summer veggie box

The perfect sized cup in my Edible Arrangements birthday gift from my mother – I love this cup so much that I will wash it after each use so I can re-use it again. I eat my granola out of this cup because it also makes the perfect deep-bowl.

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Worst Purchases for the year:

$238.51 Indiegogo masks reusable N-99 silicone masks from ModPPE and $60 for additional filters – After backing this project in April of this year, I finally received my product in December. They have had a full production company since late summer, yet they didn’t cancel my order when asked and didn’t bother shipping from their US warehouse either. Worst customer service I’ve ever experienced from a company selling a product. And check out the sorry state the box arrived in! The product doesn’t fit either so I paid quite a bit of money for useless trash that took 9 months to arrive. You want one? I’ve still got most of them sitting in my closet.

Mixed seeds from Amazon – Never again. Not only did they just dump unidentifiable seeds in the packet, there weren’t 100 and they didn’t grow at all!

The AMC refillable bucket – Haha 2020. You got me!

The Lobster Shop – Most disappointing restaurant of the year. Overpriced. Too salty. Quality was meh.

AirBnB gift card – I thought I could use this gift card to pay for the second half of my reservation (should have read the fine print). Now I still have that gift card just sitting in my account when it could have gone to something more useful.

Pistachio oil and Pistachio extract – The pistachio oil didn’t have enough pistachio flavor and I didn’t really know what to put it in other than my salads. The extract was terrible and tasted very artificial!

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Favorite Restaurants:

Pagliacci – I really have taken a liking to their pizza. I like the crust. I like the cheese. I absolutely loved their fig seasonal pizza. I like how they have new seasonals every few weeks.

Where Ya Matt – Local food truck with phenomenal New Orleans soul food. Worth breaking your diet for those beignets…

The Slip – New favorite non-traditional burger place. The Slip has fun burgers that are delicious! My favorites were the Thai PB&J and the Burgadilla

Jeff’s Texas Style BBQ – we keep coming back for this BBQ.

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Favorite Activities:

Horseback riding at Mone Farms – what activities can you do that are naturally socially distanced? How long is a horse you ask?

Trusted Housesitters – I love looking for new listings weekly on Trusted Housesitters and though we were only able to fit one sit in before lockdown, I still peruse their site every few weeks. It was such fun sitting this little guy. You can use this link to get 25% off a membership at Trusted Housesitters: https://www.trustedhousesitters.com/refer/RAF286731/

UFC family watch nights – Good food and good company, though I didn’t care too much about the UFC…

Mexico Vacation prior to the pandemic – Best vacation all year… I truly took a vacation (no sneaking in emails like I do during staycations).

Surprising my grandparents – chalk message, hidden painted rocks, and traditional Christmas breakfast

Building raised garden beds and a railing bed with my housemate (especially using her power drill) – I loved building the pallet garden beds instead of buying them. Saving money and learning a new skill!

Staying the weekend in a Tiny House in Tacoma (staycation) – I have become mildly obsessed with tiny houses and it was such fun to try one out for the weekend.

Pokemon Go – Another steadfast quarantine hobby has become Pokemon Go. We played so much that I was able to level up this year after playing almost every day.

Beatsaber, Sock Boy, Heads Up, and other games with my partner – Though I almost always lost, I still had lots of fun playing games and laughing with my boyfriend.

Book Review: Destination Azurah by Victoria Bastedo

Destination Azurah by Victoria Bastedo

A Fantasy/Romance novel published by Amazon Digital Services (09/17/2020)

Summary:

Romiya is determined to uncover the secret to her uncle’s mysterious and amazing sandcastle builder. After his sudden disappearance years ago, Romiya has been determined to uncover its secret and perhaps learn what actually happened to her uncle. Suddenly Romiya gets a breakthrough when she sees a sinister face stamped into the sand, but the other scientists don’t believe her. It will take much more physical evidence to convince them of what she saw overtaking every single grain of sand. Her bodyguard couldn’t protect her from the face’s attack, but he’ll help to whisk her away from the beach and the desert while she figures out her next move. When he resigns, Romiya will also see him in a different light.

Keywords:

Romance, Fantasy, Sand, Portal, Scientist, Female Scientist, Attack, War, Evil, Power, Sandcastles, Friendship

My Review:

I loved, loved, loved that every time someone refers to Romiya as a, “girl” she corrected him! This is such a pet peeve of mine in books and real life. Romiya even explains that if Ruedolf is no longer referred to as a “boy” then she should not be referred to as a “girl.” Thank you, Romiya!

The fantasy element – sand and time and alternate worlds was well described and very interesting to read. Every time that Bastedo dips into fantasy/science fiction, I’m captivated. Much like her novel The Kiss of the Blue Howler, this book is full of imagination and a new perspective. I was mesmerized by her descriptions of sand and memory and loved how she integrated that into a thoughtful and well developed romance/action story.

I thoroughly enjoyed this mashup of romance and fantasy. It was a fun, easy read with an adorable romance, a hint of mystery, and a strong female STEM leading the way!

(READ ON FOR VAGUE SPOILERS)

The plot was well paced and there was the perfect amount of action. However, I did find fault with the characters in the alt-world for letting the newcomers walk into evil hands! This was most likely on purpose to push through more drama, but it felt at times unrealistic (just like many blockbuster action movies). I also felt like the nighttime romance scene was out of place.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services 09/17/2020 and is available on Amazon here.

TLDR Star Rating: 4.75

Links for more information:

Goodreads

FreeValleyPublishing

Victoria Bastedo WordPress

Book Review: Exile (Forbidden Things Book 2) and Apostate (Forbidden Things Book 3) by Nikki McCormack

Exile (Forbidden Things Book 2) and Apostate(Forbidden Things Book 3) by Nikki McCormack

Fantasy Novels published by Elysium Books (12/15/15 and 04/16/16)

Summary:

Back in Caithin, Indigo continues training with Serivar and the Order. She is starting to find her place again when Yiloch is accused of the murder of the King. She knows he didn’t do it, right? In a desperate attempt to protect him from those who wish him dead, she strands Yiloch in a desert South of Lyra. Not only does Caithin want Yiloch to answer for his crimes, but a new enemy marches on Lyra.

Travel back to Lyra takes its toll on Yiloch. He is also burdened with rage for what Indigo did. Meanwhile, Indigo rushes to meet Yiloch in the desert, meeting a potential army on the way. It will take more than an army to face Lyra’s new threat because they wield magic in force. Indigo must decide who she is and where she belongs with all her Ascard power. Only one other person rival’s her strength in wielding magic, and he’s sworn vengeance on both Yiloch and Indigo.

Keywords:

Power, Control, Magic, Inner Strength, Inner Aspect, Travel, War, Fighting, Struggle, Talent, Healing, Abuse, Love, Lies, Hidden, Horses, Torment, Destruction, Crime, Murder, Revenge

My Review:

It has been quite some time since I read such a strong middle book in a trilogy. It was just as exciting as reading the first book in the series. It held up the action and continued to endear me to the characters I’d grown to know and love in the first book.

This series continues to build a great and compelling balance between romance, fantasy and plot. I was pulled in by Indigo’s struggles to find herself and her place in this world. The plot made sense in book two and in the larger sense of the trilogy. The romance felt so strong and real – the emotions and reactions of the characters for their relationships was so riveting.

Indigo is a role model for female characters. She’s strong, not in relation to man, but in relation to her enemies and her friends. Even those around her acknowledge her strength and her power. She is respected and feared and loathed. I really felt like I had a better grasp on Myac and his motivations but also couldn’t understand the evil inside him at all. He was a phenomenally crafted villain and I really, really wanted him to have a moment of redemption. Would it even be possible? Could he even live in a world where he had committed his previous actions?

I really appreciated the different perspectives of the characters as different chapters are told by these different narrators, even from the perspective of the invading enemies.

I absolutely loved the climax in the third novel and wished for the mini extra climax to have been a fourth book. The setup was there for an additional novel…

These Fantasy Novels were published by Elysium Books (12/15/15 and 04/16/16) and are available on Amazon here and Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

Goodreads Book 2

Goodreads Book 3

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Nikki McCormack’s Website