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Book Review: The Hollow Gods, by A. J. Vrana

A.J. Vrana‘s The Hollow Gods‘ sequel, The Echoed Realm, was featured on Sadie’s Spotlight a while back. The post included some absolutely gorgeous art for the series and I’ve seen even more since then. (I mean check out the covers of these special edition copies!) Beautiful! So, I borrowed an audio copy of The Hollow Gods through Hoopla to give the series a shot.

audio cover the hollow gods

Black Hollow is a town with a dark secret.

For centuries, residents have foretold the return of the Dreamwalker—an ominous figure from local folklore said to lure young women into the woods and possess them. Yet the boundary between fact and fable is blurred by a troubling statistic: occasionally, women do go missing. And after they return, they almost always end up dead.

When Kai wakes up next to the lifeless body of a recently missing girl, his memory blank, he struggles to clear his already threadbare conscience.

Miya, a floundering university student, experiences signs that she may be the Dreamwalker’s next victim. Can she trust Kai as their paths collide, or does he herald her demise?

And after losing a young patient, crestfallen oncologist, Mason, embarks on a quest to debunk the town’s superstitions, only to find his sanity tested.

A maelstrom of ancient grudges, forgotten traumas, and deadly secrets loom in the foggy forests of Black Hollow. Can three unlikely heroes put aside their fears and unite to confront a centuries-old evil? Will they uncover the truth behind the fable, or will the cycle repeat?

my review

I liked this quite a lot. I’ll admit it wasn’t quite as intense as I’d expected, but I enjoyed it all the same. It was very atmospheric.

I liked the way Kai never truly tried to act human and how Miya accepted him for it all the same. And I liked the way Miya showed vulnerability, but also wasn’t a pushover and Kai appreciated that about her. I understood Mason’s difficulty and obsessive need to find answers. Though I thought his reluctance to believe lasted well past when it should have.

The prose is a little on the purple side. But I have a pretty high tolerance for that, often enjoying writing others complain about being too full of adjectives, similes, and metaphors. The story also wrapped around itself in a pleasant way, coming full circle and concluding nicely. But I never quite grasped The First’s motives, Madrix’s but not The Firsts. (I’m not certain I spelled that name right, since I never saw it in writing.)

All in all, I plan to read the second book too. But I’m not leaping straight in at the moment.

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Other Reviews:

Blog Tour Review: The Hollow Gods by A.J. Vrana

The Hollow Gods by A. J. Vrana – Review & Blog Tour


[Blog Tour] The Hollow Gods by A.J. Vrana – Atmospheric, Dark, and Mysterious!

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Book Review: Shadow of the Wicked, by Douglas W.T. Smith

Douglas W.T. Smith‘s Shadow of the Wicked is going to be on Sadie’s Spotlight next week. I didn’t agree to review the book for the tour, but those participating in the tour received a free copy of the book. Since it’s only 107 pages long, I decided to give it a quick read.

Honestly, I found myself in a bit of a pickle. Assuming I would enjoy the book, I had planned to drop the review at the same time as the post goes live on Sadie’s Spotlight—a bit of a 2 for 1 deal. But I turned out not to like it much and I do try not to post bad reviews during a promotional tour. That’s just bad form. So, I’m posting it a week early instead of holding it until the week after.


Twin brothers–a sorcerer and a warrior–are each tortured for their opposing convictions. Will magick be restored or extinguished?

Magick had once ruled The Three Kingdoms, but now it is banished and condemnable.

Jaromir and Talmage have been imprisoned for different convictions.

Jaromir wakes up chained to a table filled with dread, while Talmage is thrown into an underground labyrinth.

Jaromir has devoted his life to mastering weapons as the Empress’ Guard and forming a secret order to rid the world of magick. His lifetime devotion is useless when his limbs are chained. Unless he divulges the order’s plans. Jaromir is tortured and his body pushed to breaking point but he refuses to betray the order––until his wife is dragged into the room. Jaromir is forced to make a choice between his honor and his beloved wife. Which will he choose?

Meanwhile, Talmage is thrown into an underground labyrinth. Since his parent’s death, he had practiced the art of magick in secret from his brother’s order. Magick had been his savor and his security through his troubled life. No matter what Talmage tried, the ghosts of his past haunt him––especially in the dark passages. At first, he thought he was alone, for one last trial, until familiar voices echo from the shadows.

Both brothers must escape from their wicked fate, identify their outgrown relationship, and swallow their pride before it’s too late.

my review

There isn’t any polite way to say a book isn’t very good. I could try and dress it up, give the review a compliment sandwich, etc. But the bare bones truth is still that this book isn’t very good. Though it’s not labeled as such, I’m fairly sure the copy I read was an ARC and, therefore, hasn’t yet had it’s final mechanical edit. So, I won’t go into grammatical editing. But even leaving that aside, the writing is choppy, repetitive, and often unclear. The characters are un-relatable and, worst of all, none of it is given any true context.The sentence in the synopsis that says, “Magick had once ruled The Three Kingdoms, but now it is banished and condemnable” is pretty much all the world-building you’ll find in the whole novella. What you’re left with is 107 pages of torture porn with no apparent point. I read all 107 pages and still do not know if there was a theme or message. Was I supposed to take something away from this? I sense that Smith meant for me to, but whatever it is it’s too weak to be successfully conveyed. A viscous content editor could maybe beat it into something meaningful. But it’s not there yet. It does have a great cover though.

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Book Review: Defiled, by Ann Denton

I accepted a review copy of Ann Denton‘s Defiled through Love Books Tours. It is the second book in The Feral Princess series and I reviewed book one, Defiant, last month. You can find that review here. The book was also featured over at Sadie’s Spotlight.

Defiled - Ebook Cover - Final (2)


When Black tries to force a ring onto my finger, I bolt.
I escape the pack leader’s clutches with Jonah, my best friend with benefits…who has become so much more.
But then my body betrays me. My stupid wolf shifter hormones send me spiraling into my first heat only hours after I flee.
Desire blazes through my veins until it’s so wild and fierce that it takes over my reality.
It makes me hallucinate while I’m with Jonah and wish for things I don’t want.
Like Black.


Elena was stolen from me.
No one steals from the Lobo pack, and no one ever steals from me.
I’m going to hunt down whoever took her and punish them until they can’t even scream for mercy.
The moon goddess better hide her face because I’m about to show the shifters who stole Elena that my soul can be as dark as my name.


She picked me.
The most perfect woman in the world chose me.
I should be on cloud nine, but instead, I’m terrified.
How the hell am I going to protect her with furious shifters from two different packs hunting us down?

my review

My feelings are pretty middle of the road about this book. Most importantly, by the time I reached the end, I was re-invested and interested in finding out what happens in book three. So, obviously, I didn’t hate the whole thing. But there was a large chunk of the middle in which I simply wanted to stop reading the book entirely. I hated Black. I’m still not a fan, if I’m honest.

Yes, he’s an anti-hero that isn’t supposed to be overly-likeable. But part of the fantasy that make dub-con readable for me is that the imposed upon party secretly wants or enjoys what is happening. That’s what makes it dubious and not straight out coercion and/or rape, in my opinion. But here we had three people, two of which legitimately thought they were going to be killed by the third, even as they had sex. There was no joy, secret or otherwise, in it for me. Black was just cruel and even the author’s attempt to make him broken, instead of villainous didn’t fully redeem him for me. I couldn’t find anything to appreciate in the angry, “I don’t want her to enjoy it” sex they had and I thought the turn around from enemies to not was too abrupt. I really needed there to be a conversation between the parties. So much of the drama is based on assumptions and miscommunications and I feel like the author is just skimming past it, instead of addressing it. But it is a scene I really want to read.

Having said all that. I still adored Jonah. He’s the lubricant that makes everything work. I liked that Elena loves him so fiercely and that Black is also being forced to appreciate and accept him. I still find the writing easily readable and look forward to reading book three, if in a somewhat baffled at myself sort of way.

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Other Reviews:

Books a Plenty Book Reviews

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