March 29, 2015

The Nurses by Alexandra Robbins

T I T L E: The Nurses- A Year of Secrets, Drama, and Miracles with the Heroes of the Hospital
A U T H O R: Alexandra Robbins
P U B L I S H E R: The Workman Publishing Company
P U B L I S H--D A T E: May 5, 2015
I S B N: 9780761171713
Non Fiction (Adult)

Nursing is more than a career; it is a calling, and one of the most important, fascinating, and dangerous professions in the world. As the frontline responders battling traumas, illnesses, and aggression from surprising sources, nurses are remarkable. Yet contemporary literature largely neglects them. In THE NURSES, New York Times bestselling author and award-winning journalist Alexandra Robbins peers behind the staff-only door to write a lively, fast-paced story and a riveting work of investigative journalism. Robbins followed real-life nurses in four hospitals and interviewed hundreds of others in a captivating book filled with joy and violence, miracles and heartbreak, dark humor and narrow victories, gripping drama and unsung heroism. Alexandra Robbins creates sympathetic, engaging characters while diving deep into their world of controlled chaos—the hazing (“nurses eat their young”); sex (not exactly like on TV, but it happens more often than you think); painkiller addiction (disproportionately a problem among the best and brightest); and bullying (by doctors, patients, and others). The result is a page-turner possessing all the twists and turns of a brilliantly told narrative—and a shocking, unvarnished examination of our healthcare system.

     When I read the blurb I couldn’t wait to read this book. You see, besides being an avid reader, as well as a reviewer, I am also a Registered Nurse. While this book does bring up some very important issues that all nurses deal with on a day to day basis, I was just a bit disappointed. The main focus of this book seems to be ER nurses. There are so many other specialties in the nursing field, it was a shame to see that ER nurses got the spotlight so to speak. Although, I am currently a floor nurse, I have been an RN for quite a long time. I have worked in several different areas during my long career such as the ICU, Interventional Radiology, Cardiac Cath Lab, patient teaching in a wellness program and finally working on a telemetry floor that deals with cardiac patients and stroke patients. So, I wish that the author would have included ICU and floor nurses among those that she wrote about.     She followed four nurses and it would have been so much better if she would have written about some of the issues that nurses in those areas deal with as well. While ER nursing is definitely a specialty that requires a certain set of skills so do the other areas. If you put an ER nurse in the unit or the floor, she would be like a fish out of water. And while they see patients for a few hours and do get the abuse, the ICU and floor nurses deal with those issues and difficult patients as well as difficult family members for days. That she included a quote from an ER nurse that stated that ER nurses "are the rock stars", was disheartening. We are ALL ROCK STARS.
     Also, it seemed to appear that there is a lot of drug abuse amongst nurses. It is a problem for sure, however, it is not as widespread as I felt this book made it seem. In fact, there are policies and procedures that make it very difficult to steal drugs. When I first became an RN that wasn't the case, but nowadays it is so much harder to take narcotics and get away with it.
     However, in general, this book is well written and it does bring to light some of the problems we as nurses face continually. Staffing, stress, patient satisfaction surveys, both physical and verbal abuse from patients as well as family members just to name a few. So, even though I wish there would have been more focus on other areas and not mainly the ER, it is a book that I hope everyone reads. I will definitely recommend this book to my co-workers and actually already have. I will also recommend lay people to read it as well. I think it is an important book and does bring up some pertinent issues that need to be addressed in order to get our healthcare system headed in the correct direction.
     The title for me was misleading and perhaps should have made it clearer that it was mainly about the ER nurses. However, since this book did include topics that are definitely problems in all areas of the nursing world, I am giving it four stars.


A M A Z O N          B A R N E S & N O B L E          G O O D R E A D S

March 25, 2015

The Catalain Book of Secrets by Jessica Lourey

T I T L E: The Catalain Book of Secrets
A U T H O R: Jessica Lourey
P U B L I S H E R: Toadhouse Books
P U B L I S H--D A T E: January 1, 2015
I S B N: 9780990834212
Literature/Fiction (Adult), Sci-Fi, Fantasy

Faith Falls is a snug little Minnesota town constructed over a mystery, a place where the most impressive building is a gorgeous Queen Anne with turrets, cantilevered gables, and a wraparound porch. In a concealed room beneath the twisting stairs of the Queen Anne lies the Catalain Book of Secrets, the repository of the wisdom the Catalain women have gathered since the beginning of time. Ursula Catalain, current keeper of the Book of Secrets, is content to concoct spells in her garden cottage until the ghost of the man she murdered when she was 12 appears at her door in a new form. His return pulls Jasmine, Ursula's daughter, back into the fold. Once believed to be the most powerful of the Catalains, she foreswore her gift years before to bury a shameful secret. The ghost of the murdered man also calls home Katrine, Jasmine's sister, who has been banished for fourteen years. Finally able to return to Faith Falls and the beloved Queen Anne, Katrine must claim her true Catalain power to save her mother and sister from the dark family curse. Told in a majestic mosaic of strong women’s voices, The Catalain Book of Secrets weaves together alchemy, hope, tragedy, and true love to spin a tale in the style of Garden Spells, Eva Luna, and Practical Magic.

     These witches are not your average pentagram drawing, robe wearing, “double double toil and trouble”, spell-casting witches. Oh yes, there are spells woven but not in the traditional sense. I saw a slight touch of Wicca, but it was slight. I could also see how the description stated in was somewhat in the style of Practical Magic. Jessica Lourey adds her own touch to the craft.
     The magic of the Catalains is much more subtle than in most stories. Each woman in the Catalain family has their own “gift” if you will, even though not everyone in the family feels that way about it. One may weave her spells through her cooking while another through the clothing she sews. There are some more traditional powers such as crafting potions from the things grown in the garden while another can affect the mood of those around her. In these ways, it was different than most books telling the story of witches. For this reason, I enjoyed the book very much. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but that’s okay, it was a nice surprise.
     This story is not just about witchcraft however, it’s a tale of a family of strong women and their connections to each other, as well as the secrets each of them carries and how those secrets effect their relationship with each other, along with the men in their lives.
     The lead up to the scene where the curse comes to a head had me turning the pages wondering what was going to happen next.
     There are characters which are very likable and those that are not. I understand the reasons that Ursula did the things she did, but I didn't really like her or Jasmine. Katrine, I'm on the fence about. I think Tara is a great character although still quite young. Xenia and Helena were also great. I loved the house and wish it would have had more of a presence.
     Although, I found this a great read, I'm not sure if it would be for everyone if they are only a fan of witches in the traditional sense. There are no scenes in which good witches battle evil beings by casting magic spells back and forth. And there is not a lot of "action" either. Usually, if that is the case I get bored easily. However, this story intrigued me enough to continue on until the end. The fact it held my interest without a lot of action is the reason I'm giving it four stars.


A M A Z O N          B A R N E S & N O B L E          G O O D R E A D S

March 24, 2015

Dear Alysha - Nø. 1

     Our topic today . . . RP’ers.

      Specifically, the world of them on Facebook.

     I come to you with this subject because recently I saw not one, but two tweets from authors who have recently discovered the names of their characters are used on Facebook in the manner of role-play. In both of these tweets, the author was in shock, and unable to discern how they felt about this subject. It is an old, yet reoccurring topic, I know. If it’s not an author discovering their characters are being role-played, they’re discovering their characters are being written in some form of fan fiction.

     Both of us are on both sides of this fence. We may not be published, but we both have and continue to create our own content in the form of stories. So that got me thinking . . . how would I feel?

     Right off the bat, I empathized with the author.

     This shocked me, because again, I’ve written role-play in multiple forms and fashions. Which sparked another question - Why did I immediately feel that way? Simple question, simple answer; my characters, my story, it’s all mine; call me Gollum. Then I started thinking more.

     As writers and creators, we need to start somewhere. Not all of us can put pen to paper and create something fresh and new, not at first. I couldn’t. I started first writing in fan fiction. I used someone’s characters and put them in a very different situation, in a very different time. Then, I tried my hand at a crossover. I took two different stories, by two different authors, and molded them into one. I asked myself, who the fuck am I to criticize anyone who takes the characters of others and plays? Because as long as they do not publish those characters, playing is exactly what they are doing.

     That got me evaluating the motivation of my first conscious decision to write. I realize when I sit and think about it now, it wasn’t motivation, it was inspiration. Which as writers, we know the difference between the two. I’m sure (thinks of dreamy Jack & Kyle) you remember exactly what I mean about inspiration. It wasn’t a physical need, but an emotional one. This reminder made me think of how I got to where I am today, which isn’t published, but happily writing my own characters in a world I created, which then brought me back to my original question, but with a very different answer.

     I know we spend countless [beep] hours writing a story, we spend hundreds more editing. We sacrifice time with loved ones, time to ourselves, and things we love to do, and in most [beep] cases the daylight or moonlight. Then, we submit our souls to publishing houses we dream of stamping their label of approval on our work, and if we’re lucky, if we’re marketable, and good enough, we’ll make the cut. This is the vicious, beautiful, wondrous cycle. So many great stories go unnoticed; so many amazing authors’ voices are unheard. I’m sure I’ll be one of them, but if in that maddening circle of a writer turn author’s life, one person hears me and runs with it, then I would say to them . . . I love you.

     It would be an honor to have written a story or characters that inspires someone else (even if it is just one) to open a laptop or pick up a pen, and start writing. You never know where that will lead. You could have the next best selling author putting one word after the other, and wouldn’t have done so if you wouldn’t have worked your ass off and published. Even if they’re not a best seller, or I’m not for that matter, I know the personal joy writing gives me, and would have probably never started if it hadn’t been for one book . . . one author.

     So I ask this question of you, Alysha. Let’s say your series is published, and one day, you’re on Facebook and they recommend your character to you as a friend. You learn, your fans are writing your characters. What are your feelings on this matter?

Your fan *wink* always,

Alysha's Reply

"The timing of this topic is rather interesting, my dear Hope. As we've discussed off these blogs, recently there was the whole ‘clean reader’ saga which the author world blew up at someone daring to change the words that they wrote. I’m not going to comment for or against as that’s not why we’re here, though you've got to admit that RPers can walk a similar line.
As we both know, and others mightn't, I first flexed my writerly muscles as an RPer. It’s something I haven’t really spoken about in a long time, but I’m a little biased on the subject as this is where I got my start . . ."

March 22, 2015

Dark Instincts by Suzanne Wright

T I T L E: Dark Instincts
S E R I E S: Phoenix Pack (Nº 4)
A U T H O R: Suzanne Wright
P U B L I S H E R: Montlake Romance
P U B L I S H--D A T E: April 7, 2015
I S B N: 9781477828748

It happens whenever wolf shifter Roni Axton is near Marcus Fuller: a crackle of sexual awareness that’s intoxicating…and deeply annoying. Marcus is a pack enforcer who oozes power, but Roni is lethal in her own right—nothing like the flirty females who flock around him. Even still, his possessive gaze makes one thing clear. Marcus has singled her out for seduction, and he wants to make her sit up and beg. No matter how aloof and unfazed Roni acts, Marcus can tell she wants him. When a brutal attack by a jackal pack forces them to work together, it’s the perfect opportunity for Marcus to chip away at her defenses—until he falls into his own trap, completely unprepared for the intensity of their connection. Roni is the only one who’s ever seen past his shifter charm and discovered the man hiding beneath it. And for Marcus, claiming Roni once will mean needing her forever.

     Though I didn’t read the other books in the series, I had no problem understanding who each character was. It could easily be read as a stand alone novel.
     I never constrict myself to one specific type of genre when I read. I prefer to read all types, and I do love to read a good romance from time to time. However, it still needs to have a good plot and some action, otherwise, it’s boring to me. This one started out with action from the very first sentence. Thankfully, that carried on throughout the book.
     Roni is a strong character and I loved her. If there is one thing that will make me hate a book, it's a wimpy female. Roni is far from that. She is independent, can kick ass with the best of them, plays pranks on her brothers, snarky, vicious when it's called for, and intelligent. All the best things in a female lead.
     Marcus is awesome as well. He's a player, but he's funny, strong, relentless, dangerous, but also soft-hearted as well as understanding to those he cares about. My only complaint is that he commands Roni to "come". I don't like that in any romance I read. I'm no prude by any stretch of the word, but that is always a big complaint of mine when I read some romances. I don't find it sexy in the least.     Thankfully, not all authors write sex scenes that way, or I wouldn't read any of them at all. But, Marcus is a great character and I was able to overlook that in this one to some extent.
     The banter between all the characters was great and made it fun to read. The action scenes were very good and had me turning the page to see what would happen.
     I give this book four stars.


A M A Z O N          B A R N E S & N O B L E          G O O D R E A D S

March 20, 2015

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

__________B O O K__R E V I E W__________

.:}Hope's Review{:.

     I’m going to be honest, this is the hardest review I’ve written to date. This struggle for words isn’t because the book is horrible or fantastic, it is because from beginning to end, the book is so bizarre it left me in a sort of mind limbo. Like, I’m not sure what to think or what to feel. It’s freaking weird. This novel is very well written, and I thought the execution was awesome. I loved the ending. My only real gripe with this story is I had a very hard time connecting with any of the characters. In saying that, I’m not sure the reader is meant to. Overall, after much deliberation, I’m giving this book four stars. Because I love, love, creative storylines and complex characters.

.:}Angie's Review{:.

      For lack of a better word, this book is strange and I have mixed feelings about it. Oddly enough, the strangeness intrigued me and it is mostly what kept me reading until the end.
     I am a somewhat intelligent person, but I must confess that through much of the book, I was confused. Some of the things I found confusing were cleared up near the end, others were not. In fact, at times I found myself asking what the heck I was reading. There were also scenes that I found myself re-reading before I could go further.
     I am a big fan of fantasy, including the darker and creepier stuff, but there was something about this book, that just wasn't quite right.
     I had hopes that the main character, Carolyn would eventually grow on me, but, unfortunately, that didn't happen and, in fact, I didn't really like any of the characters very much. I did like Steve and Erwin more than the others, but even then I didn't find them all that likable.
     I don't want to include any spoilers, but I will say that the scene with Dresden was an emotional one, but that is all I will say about it at this time so that I don't spoil it for anyone else. It is too bad that the lions weren't in more of the book than they were.
     The idea behind the story I think was a good one, I am just not sure that it was executed in the best possible way. Having said that, I do feel that the writing itself was good.
     I am going to give this book three stars because it was so different. To be honest though, I'm not sure it is for everyone even if they like dark fantasy.

__________B O O K__D E T A I L S__________

T I T L E: The Library at Mount Char
A U T H O R: Scott Hawkins
P U B L I S H E R: Crown Publishing
P U B L I S H--D A T E: June 16,2015
I S B N: 9780553418606
Sci-Fi, Fantasy

Carolyn's not so different from the other human beings around her. She's sure of it. She likes guacamole and cigarettes and steak. She knows how to use a phone. She even remembers what clothes are for. After all, she was a normal American herself, once. That was a long time ago, of course--before the time she calls "adoption day," when she and a dozen other children found themselves being raised by a man they learned to call Father. Father could do strange things. He could call light from darkness. Sometimes he raised the dead. And when he was disobeyed, the consequences were terrible. In the years since Father took her in, Carolyn hasn't gotten out much. Instead, she and her adopted siblings have been raised according to Father's ancient Pelapi customs. They've studied the books in his library and learned some of the secrets behind his equally ancient power. Sometimes, they've wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God. Now, Father is missing. And if God truly is dead, the only thing that matters is who will inherit his library--and with it, power over all of creation. As Carolyn gathers the tools she needs for the battle to come, fierce competitors for this prize align against her. But Carolyn can win. She's sure of it. What she doesn't realize is that her victory may come at an unacceptable price--because in becoming a God, she's forgotten a great deal about being human.


*I received an advanced copy of this via NetGalley in exchange for a fair review*

March 18, 2015

Abomination by Gary Whitta

T I T L E: Abomination
A U T H O R: Gary Whitta
P U B L I S H E R: Inkshares
P U B L I S H--D A T E: July 30, 2015
I S B N: 9781941758335
Sci-Fi, Fantasy

Abomination takes place in the ninth century England during the reign of King Alfred the Great. Vikings are determined to conquer and rule England, and Alfred is determined to keep them from doing so. He will do whatever it takes to keep his kingdom free from the Norse invaders, almost. While battling the Vikings, ancient Roman scrolls are discovered. These texts are sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Aethelred, for translation. When he begins his work, he uncovers secrets long forgotten and dark magic better left alone. However, he convinces the king that if he is allowed to experiment with this knowledge that he can use it to benefit England then once and for all defeating the Vikings in their quest to conquer the country. Alfred has reservations, but his counselors advise him to give Aethelred the chance if it means turning the tide against the Norse. Though, not truly convinced that it is a good idea he does what they ask. As it turns out, the king's apprehensions were well founded. Aethelred creates monsters from common animals, but he crosses the line even further when his experiments are conducted on men, which produce terrifying creatures from nightmares. When Alfred attempts to put a halt to the Archbishop's experiments and confine him to the tower, Aethelred escapes. Soon, Wulfric, the king's close friend and best knight is charged with the duty of tracking down the now insane priest and killing the monsters he created. But, unfortunately, when Wulfric catches his prey, his own personal nightmare just begins.

     I was drawn to this book because, by the description it contained both history and fantasy. Two of the genres I love to read.
     However, I must admit when I read the first chapter I wasn't sure if it was quite what I was looking for. I am glad I kept reading. It just got better and better.
     The monsters are not the creatures that you find in most stories being written right now, which I find refreshing. No vampires or werewolves, and the only shifter is not a shifter in the traditional sense. And their creator is not who you would be expecting to create such monstrosities. I found it ironic that the Archbishop of Canterbury who was the head of the church in England is the very one who used black magic during a time that those that did so were burned at the stake.
      This story gave new meaning to the word "dark" in the term "Dark Ages". The book has everything from history, swordfights, hand to hand combat, magic, terrifying monsters, and suspense. I could go on and on. It was very well written and it was difficult to put it down.
      This book is an exciting read and I highly recommend it for those who love all the things I mentioned above. I give this book FOUR AND A HALF STARS.


A M A Z O N          B A R N E S & N O B L E          G O O D R E A D S

March 17, 2015

Forsaken by J.D. Barker

__________B O O K__R E V I E W__________


    This was -hands down- the best novel I’ve read this year. From the first page, to the very last, this novel had me in its hold. I couldn’t wait to turn the page, yet at the same time, I was terrified to. This book is littered with heart stopping, “OMG,” moments. Toward the end of the book, the last few chapters, I was on the edge of my seat. As if this book couldn’t get any better for me, it’s not just an awesome story, but it is beautifully written as well. The flow from the first word to the last is seamless. I just love this book. I can’t wait for the next book. Without a doubt, this book deserves five stars.

__________B O O K__D E T A I L S__________

T I T L E: Forsaken
S E R I E S: Shadow Cove Saga (N°1)
A U T H O R: J.D. Barker
P U B L I S H E R: Hampton Creek Press - JKS Communications
P U B L I S H--D A T E: October 29, 2014
I S B N: 9780990694922
Mystery, Thriller

When horror author Thad McAlister began his latest novel, a tale rooted in the witch trials of centuries past, the words flowed effortlessly. The story poured forth, filling page after page with the most frightening character ever to crawl from his imagination. It was his greatest work, one that would guarantee him a position among the legends of the craft. But was it really fiction? He inadvertently opened a door, one that would soon jeopardize the lives of his family. She wants to come back. At home, his wife struggles to keep their family alive. Secretly wondering if she caused it all…a deal she made long ago. A deal with the Forsaken.


*I received an advanced copy of this via NetGalley in exchange for a fair review*

Victory of the Hawk by Angela Highland

T I T L E: Victory of the Hawk
S E R I E S: Rebels of Adalonia (N°1)
A U T H O R: Angela Highland
P U B L I S H E R: Carina Press
P U B L I S H--D A T E: April 6, 2015
I S B N: 9781426899690
Sci-Fi, Fantasy
There is war in Adalonia. The only hope for the rebels both human and elven is a sword named Moonshadow. It was forged centuries ago by the elves against one of their own who is now known as Anreulag, who is the “Voice of the Gods.” Julian, an assassin is in love with Faanshi, and elven healer whom he freed from enslavement by the humans. He has yet to admit it to himself let alone to her. And he fears that she and Kestar share a deep connection, although that connection is very different than he realizes. Faanshi’s connection to Kestar is born of her magic and their shared elven blood. She knows his every thought and desire, but she thinks of him as she would a brother. She is in love with Julian. Kestar is a fugitive although he was once in the service to the Anreulag as a Knight of the Hawk. And he recently discovered that he has elven blood running through his veins. Which is ironic since he was sworn to hunt them in his duty. He may be the only answer to saving everyone from the newly freed and quite insane Voice of the Gods.

      Since this book was the third in a trilogy, it may have been helpful if I’d read the preceding two books. In the beginning, it was difficult to understand what was happening and just who all the characters were. However, there was no description when I requested this book. It is definitely not a stand alone book. At first I was quite frustrated and wasn’t sure that I would like the book. It did get better as I read though.
     I have to admit that I am a huge JRR Tolkien fan and he was the first fantasy author that I had ever read which was back when I was a very young teenager. My vision of elves stems from reading his stories. This author has an entirely different vision. It took some getting used to. These elves did eventually grow on me and I did begin to like the story as I continued to read.
      The fact that the Anreulag was an elf and used by her captors against her own people was an interesting concept, but then I’m a huge fan of irony as well.
     I didn’t love the story, but I did like it. In all fairness though, I must say that it could be related to the fact that I started the trilogy with the third book instead of the first one. I give this book three stars.


A M A Z O N          B A R N E S & N O B L E          G O O D R E A D S

March 13, 2015

Death at Dovecote Hatch by Dorothy Cannell

T I T L E: Death at Dovecote
S E R I E S: A Florence Norris Mystery (N°2)
A U T H O R: Dorothy Cannell
P U B L I S H E R: Severn House Publishers
P U B L I S H--D A T E: July 1, 2015
I S B N: 9780727884800
Literature/Fiction (Adult); Mystery, Thriller

This is the second novel in the Florence Norris series. The setting is the peaceful village of Dovecote Hatch and the year is 1932. Just a few months prior, there had been a murder at Mullings, the estate of the wealthy Stodmarsh family. When the body of Kenneth Tenneson is found at the bottom of the stairs in his home, Bogmire, the news of another violent death makes its way through the sedate village which is still recovering from the events of the previous months. However, the coroner's inquest rules that it was an accident. The very observant housekeeper from Mullings, Florence Norris suspects that there is more to the death than meets the eye. The appearance of a second will seems to confirm her suspicions. When the document turns up it reveals Tenneson family secrets which could have devastating effects on those involved. Florence searches for the truth and attempts to put together the pieces of the mysterious puzzle in order to keep another tragedy from happening.

      When I read the description, I thought it sounded a lot like Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple in many respects. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Although, I did like the plot and the end took me by surprise, I was a little bit disappointed.
      Some of the scenes and conversations were somewhat repetitive in places and had the tendency to be a bit wordy. The character point of view was always changing from person to person. While I don't mind "head hopping" if it is written in such a manner that it is easy to follow along, here it got confusing at times. If I hadn't known from the beginning that Florence Norris was the main character it would have been hard to tell otherwise. She seemed to take a back seat to the other characters in the story.
      All in all the plot was a good one and I liked the fact that I wasn't able to figure out who the murderer was before the ending. Nothing is more aggravating than being able to predict right away "whodunit". Because of that I gave this book three stars. Had it been less wordy and had there been less "head hopping" with Florence being out in the forefront a bit more, I would have given it four stars instead.


A M A Z O N          B A R N E S & N O B L E          G O O D R E A D S

Howl at the Moon by L.A. Starkey

__________B O O K__R E V I E W__________


     This story was fun from the start. It highlights a trio of friends who have grown up together. This is a middle grade story, but that didn’t take away from what a joy it was to read as an adult. This review is a collaborated review with me, and my nine-year-old daughter, Laila, to who I read the book.
     Howl at the Moon is well written and very well executed. Ben, Jake and Leah are too cute together as a team and very likable characters, even as an adult. It’s a fun and fulfilling little adventure they have. By the end of the book, you really wish you could keep reading.
    I am constantly looking for age appropriate books with a great story to read to my child. I’m so happy that I found this one on NetGalley and was approved. Both my daughter and I cannot wait for the second book to become available. This is a series I see us sticking with for books to come. I intend to seek out other titles from this author.

Laila says, "Yeah, that was great. I give it four stars, mommy, and so should you."

__________B O O K__D E T A I L S__________

T I T L E: Howl at the Moon
S E R I E S: A Liarus Detective Novel (N°1)
A U T H O R: L.A. Starkey
P U B L I S H E R: Patchwork Press
P U B L I S H--D A T E: March 13, 2015
I S B N: 9781927940310
Children’s Fiction, Sci-Fi, Fantasy

Eighth graders, Ben, Jake and Leah need cash, and mowing lawns in the winter just isn’t cutting it. Their need for cash births the Liarus (Liars R Us) Detective Agency! Their first client is Old Lady Smitz, who is said to have murdered her three sons and husband. She’s missing a family heirloom, but it’s not just any old trinket, it’s the crest of Lykoi. There are only two rules: No girls are allowed and never seal a deal with the witch doctor. Disregarding danger, these three discover that money is usually more trouble than it’s worth!


               *I received an advanced copy of this via NetGalley in exchange for a fair review*

March 10, 2015

Walking by Night by Kate Ellis

T I T L E: Walking by Night
S E R I E S: A Joe Plantagenet Mystery
A U T H O R: Kate Elli
P U B L I S H E R: Severn House; Crème de la Crime
P U B L I S H--D A T E: July 1,2015
I S B N: 9781780290737
Literature/Fiction (Adult); Mystery, Thriller

A drunk teenage girl decides to take a shortcut on her way home from the pub. The night is foggy and she thinks she hears someone following her. In her panic, she stumbles across a body, as well as what looked to be a nun-like figure watching her from the darkness. She reports what happened to the police, but after no body is found, they think it’s because it was foggy and her drunken state combined to make her imagination run wild. Only one policeman believes her and that is Detective Inspector Joe Plantagenet. Not long after, a woman is reported missing and then a body is found but not in the same place that the young girl reported finding one, although the description is similar to the one she gave police. Soon DI Plantagenet finds himself involved in an investigation that has all kinds of twists and turns. It involves a production that the local playhouse is putting on called The Devils. There are also reports of ghosts being seen at the theatre. The question is whether the death of the woman is related to the play or is the play itself by the ghosts that are reported to haunt the theatre?

     I thoroughly enjoyed this book even though I haven't read any of the other books in the series. There are lots of suspects and it was fun trying to figure out who the murderer was. It was well written and a great read.
     Joe is a great character. He is intelligent and very likable, as is his boss, Emily. Even though he struggles with his past, it isn't the main focus of the story and gives his character some depth.
I gave this book four stars and would like to read the other books in this series.


A M A Z O N          B A R N E S & N O B L E          G O O D R E A D S

March 8, 2015

The Dead Hamlets by Peter Roman

T I T L E: The Dead Hamlets
A U T H O R: Peter Roman
P U B L I S H E R: Diamond Book Distributors; ChiZine Publications
P U B L I S H--D A T E: February 3, 2015
I S B N: 9781771483162
Sci-Fi, Fantasy
When something tied to the play Hamlet starts killing of faeries in the court of Morgana, the faerie queen, they turn to the immortal Cross to help save them. Cross is not only a thief, but he’s a drunk as well as an angel killer. He certainly isn’t a friend to the faerie court either. The queen stole his daughter, then forced her to “live” among them. In order to save her from being the next victim, he is forced to unravel the mystery. But, time is not on his side. As he races to gather clues to in order to put a stop to the murders, he comes into contact with quite an array of not only odd but lethal characters. He encounters the real Witches from MacBeth, the spirit of the now dead playwright Christopher Marlowe who also happened to be a demon hunter, a very eccentric Alice in Wonderland and a scholar who is not only magical but a bit of a lunatic. Not to mention of course, William Shakespeare. As all the bizarre events unfold, he finds himself in a trap he may never be able to get out of, let alone save his daughter.

      I must admit this book was not what I was expecting, even after reading the description. It is very different and creative as well as a bit dark. Not that I am opposed to a bit of the darkside; I am not at all. However, for some reason I was expecting a zany romp through the land of faerie. Perhaps that was because this is the first book that I have read from the Cross series.
     Cross is an immortal who dies frequently but is always resurrected. He kills angels and steals their “grace” in order to live, much like a vampire drinks human blood. This is also where he gains much of his power, not only to resurrect but to do some of the other things he does. In beginning he explains that he drinks to deal with the death of his wife and unborn daughter, as well as the fact that Morgana, the queen of the faeries, has cursed him by bonding him to her. I actually found him sort of annoying as were some of the other characters.
     He is more or less blackmailed into helping Morgana because she had stolen the Cross’ daughter, Amelia from his dead wife’s womb and bore her instead. The faerie queen goes on to tell him she did this as a favor to him for saving her from King Arthur centuries earlier. That was a bit much for me to swallow and not very believable in my opinion. Not only because it’s not much of a favor but also because the daughter is not really alive but reanimated.
     Apparently the faerie love to put on performances of Shakespeare plays and every time they do a production of Hamlet, one of them dies. In order to keep Amelia from being the next victim Cross must find out who or what is killing them and put a stop to it.
     This plot had so much potential but fell a bit short as it wasn’t developed as much as it could have been which also goes for Cross, the main character. I did however, like his portrayal of the Frankenstein monster and wish he would have made more of an appearance. He would have been a great sidekick.
     I really wanted to love this book, but I didn’t. I did like it however and gave it three stars just for the creative plot idea. It’s just unfortunate it wasn’t developed any better than it was. I am not sure if I would read another book in this series unless of course, the main character is developed a bit more and given some more depth and personality.


A M A Z O N          B A R N E S & N O B L E          G O O D R E A D S

March 5, 2015

Disturbed Earth by E.E. Richardson

T I T L E: Disturbed Earth
S E R I E S: Ritual Crime Unit (Nº 2)
A U T H O R: E. E. Richardson
P U B L I S H E R: Rebellion; Abbadon
P U B L I S H--D A T E: April 7, 2015
I S B N: 9781781083154
Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, Thriller

Claire Pierce is a Detective Chief Inspector of The Ritual Crime Unit for the North Yorkshire Police in Northern England. The Unit is not only underbudgeted but also understaffed. When returns to work after being off for some time recuperating from an injury she obtained in the line of duty, she finds that she has a new Detective Inspector as well as some new staff members. DCI Pierce has her hands full from the first back with her new DI bringing in a necromancer to question murder victim, druid protestors camped outside the police station, and a test on a piece of evidence that goes slightly haywire. And that is just the beginning. There have been several robberies in which artifacts are stolen, not to mention a murder case in which the victims in a ritual. Initially, the two cases don't appear to be connected. But, soon clues begin to point to something catastrophic in the works and Pierce has to put it all together in order to stop it.

     I am a huge fan of BBC mysteries series, especially the older series such as Midsomer Murders, Inspector Morse, A Touch of Frost, and Prime Suspect. DCI Pierce reminds me a great deal of Helen Mirren as DCI Jane Tennison in Prime Suspect.
     This is the second book in this series and even though I haven't read the first book, it was written well enough that I had no issues understanding what was going on. It is on the darker side, however, so if you aren't into that kind of thing, it may not be for you. Also, remember that this is a British mystery so if you are an American reading and are not familiar with the differences between American English and British English you may not understand some of the phrases used. Having said that if you are looking for a great crime drama on the gritty darker side along with a bit of supernatural thrown in, then this is a great read.
     I thoroughly enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it. I am looking forward to reading the next book. I give this book 4 stars.


A M A Z O N         B A R N E S & N O B L E           G O O D R E A D S

March 3, 2015

Hero by Samantha Young

___________B O O K__R E V I E W__________


     Right out of the gate, I liked Alexa. Henry was totally my favorite male, and I secretly hoped they would hook up, even though I knew he wasn’t the intended. The developments of the characters were great (and for Caine's sake - a relief). It’s a well written book - strong 1st person, it flows nicely from one page to the next, and the story line is executed just as finely. I didn’t feel like there was anything that wasn’t tied up by the end of the story.
     On the contrast, there was absolutely nothing about this novel that made it stand out from any other romance novel. Caine starts as a douche bag, which made it hard for me to get into the love interest, the very romance of the book.
     I don’t read too many all human, straight up romance novels. While I enjoyed the book overall, and read through it quickly once I was able to sit down and get to it, it didn’t make me want to run out and grab another romance.

__________B O O K__D E T A I L S__________

T I T L E: Hero
A U T H O R: Samantha Young
P U B L I S H--D A T E: February 3, 2015
I S B N: 0451475607
Alexa Holland’s father was her hero—until her shocking discovery that she and her mother weren't his only family. Ever since, Alexa has worked to turn her life in a different direction and forge her own identity outside of his terrible secrets. But when she meets a man who’s as damaged by her father’s mistakes as she is, Alexa must help him. Caine Carraway wants nothing to do with Alexa’s efforts at redemption, but it’s not so easy to push her away. Determined to make her hate him, he brings her to the edge of her patience and waits for her to walk away. But his actions only draw them together and, despite the odds, they begin an intense and explosive affair. Only Caine knows he can never be the white knight that Alexa has always longed for. And when they're on the precipice of danger, he finds he’ll do anything to protect either one of them from being hurt again…

March 2, 2015

The Curse Keepers Collection by Denise Grover Swank

T I T L E: The Curse Keepers Collection
A U T H O R: Denise Grover Swank
P U B L I S H E R: 47 North
P U B L I S H--D A T E: March 17, 2015
I S B N: 9781477879191
Literature/Fiction (Adult), Sci Fi & Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
This is a collection of three Curse Keepers novels in addition to 3 prequel novellas. The novellas appear in between each novel and in the end. According to the publisher, this is the order in which the author prefers them read. When the gate between this world and Popogusso is opened. All Hell breaks loose, literally. Popogusso is the Algonquian word for Hell. Spirits were trapped there for centuries by a curse performed by Manteo, a Croatan Native American and Ananias Dare, an English settler, four hundred ago. Now they are free and they want revenge and it doesn’t matter to them that the men who trapped them are no longer alive.

     This series offers something different from the usual Paranormal Romance stories out now days. Evil spirits and demons? Yes. But, unlike most of the other stories out there, there are no vampires or shifters. The evil bad guys in this book are rooted in Native American culture. I was intrigued and kept reading to find out what would happen next.
     What I didn’t like about it however was that I was confused about the curse while reading the first novel in the collection. I almost quit reading for that reason. The novella included immediately following that cleared that up, however. These stories in the collection are printed in the order the author prefers them to be read. In my opinion, it would have made things easier for me to understand the first novel had I read the first novella first.
     While I did like the characters in the book, I didn’t love them. Ellie was a bit too stubborn for me in some places. While it did make sense in some scenes, it didn’t in others. The same with Collin. In my opinion, he held back a little too much, which in turn dragged things out a bit more than they should have been.
     All in all, I did like this collection and would recommend this book to those that enjoy Native American history, as well as early Colonial history. I would read the next novel also. I gave this book three stars.


A M A Z O N          B A R N E S & N O B L E          G O O D R E A D S

March 1, 2015

Sea of Stars by Amy A. Bartol

__________B O O K__R E V I E W___________ 


     I loved the first book in this series, "Under Different Stars". I was both excited and eager to start this book because the first book ended on a high. I immediately fell in love with the characters, all of them, even the baddies. But this review isn't for book one, it's for book two.
     This book is action packed. You will not get a few pages apart without some type of activity taking place. Even after the crap that Kricket goes through in book one and through book two, she maintains her Chicago charm. All of the characters stay consistent, all of them equally as awesome in this book, as the last. Kricket is such an independent, free, and charismatic character you can't help but route for her all the way through the book. It's well written, well told, and beautifully put together. You continue to feel the connection between Kricket and every character she encounters as well as her connection with Trey.
     The reason I gave it a 3 and not a 4, like it's predecessor, is because within a few seconds of reading this book I became instantly disappointed. It didn't end (or in this case, the beginning) as the story led you to believe at the end of book 1. Also, there was so much action, and so little cheer that by time the book ended you were mentally exhausted. Sometimes, I even found myself bored because it just seemed repetitive, which made me want to skim some of the book.
     I will most certainly recommend this series thus far - already have. The characters, the world, the story is awesome, and should be read. I'm looking forward to book 3 and hope I'm lucky enough to get an advanced copy of that one as well.

__________B O O K__D E T A I L S__________

T I T L E: Sea of Stars
S E R I E S: The Kricket Series (N°2)
A U T H O R: Amy A. Bartol
P U B L I S H E R: 47 North
P U B L I S H--D A T E: March 31, 2015
I S B N: 9781477828236
Literature/Fiction (Adult), Sci-Fi, Fantasy

Eighteen-year-old Kricket Hollowell was looking for her place in the world when she discovered that the universe was bigger—and more dangerous—than she had ever dreamed. Now, whisked across space to the planet Ethar, Kricket learns that her genetic ability to see the future makes her a sought-after commodity…and the catalyst for war between her star-crossed parents’ clans. According to Alameedan prophecy, one house will rise to power and the other will be completely wiped out, and Kricket’s precognition is believed to be the weapon that will tip the scales. A target of both the Rafe and the Alameeda houses, Kricket finds protection—and a home—in the arms of Trey, her Etharian bodyguard-turned-boyfriend. But her visions of what’s to come disturb her deeply, especially since she must discover whether the gift of foresight will allow her to rewrite the future, or if her fate is as immovable as the stars.


*I received an advanced copy of this via NetGalley in exchange for a fair review*