Read an excerpt from Windemere! Sleeper of the Wildwood Fugue Now Available

Sleeper of the Wildwood Fugue

Find it on Amazon.com

Read an excerpt from the book below

“The room is comfortably warm due to the sunlight passing through the glass dome that acts as a ceiling. Tropical plants cover the edge of the room, which has soft grass growing out of the spongy floor. A gentle rain falls out of the ceiling and onto the foliage, giving the air a crisp freshness that invigorates the wildlife. Peacocks and peahens strut around the room, the males brandishing their colorful plumage when Kira arrives with her guests. An albino peacock stands by a low table and hops into the heiress’s lap when she sits on the lush grass. A gracious wave of her hand is all she does to get Sari and Luke to join her on the floor. With a cordial cough, she redirects her fiancée to sit at the head of the table, placing him between the two women.

“I didn’t realize the peacock room would have actual peacocks,” Sari admits, reaching out to a nearby bird. The animal pecks at her fingers and disappears into the surrounding plants. “This place seems kind of restrictive for them. Poor things must miss flying in the fresh air.”

“There are hatches in the walls that they use to get into the outside garden. Our peacocks are trained to stay within the manor grounds. You would have seen them already if you were awake when my father’s men brought you here,” Kira replies as she strokes the ivory feathers of the beautiful bird in her lap. She reaches out to pour a cup of coffee for the gypsy and slides it across the table. “So we finally meet, Sari. I can say that I’m not disappointed in your beauty. I’ve also heard stories of your victories and public displays with Luke.”

“Thank you. You’re more gorgeous and elegant than I expected,” the gypsy replies with a genuine smile. She takes a sip of the strong drink, which makes her shudder. “Luke and I have been trying to keep things platonic lately. Knowing that we were coming to Bor’daruk, we thought it best to tone it down until we speak with you.”

“Am I supposed to say something during this meeting?” Luke asks as he unstraps his sabers and places them on the grass.

“You can say whatever you want, lover,” Kira replies, emphasizing the last word. She takes a sip of coffee and passes the drink to the half-elf, making sure he notices the lipstick marks on the edge. “This is going to be awkward. Traditionally, we discuss this prior to the interested parties doing whatever it is they wish to do. I’m assuming you’ve done everything with Luke that I’ve done, so this is going to be more of a . . . review.”

What doesn’t Kill her by Carla Norton

What Doesn't Kill Her (Reeve LeClaire, #2, US Edition)What Doesn’t Kill Her by Carla Norton

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What Doesn’t Kill Her (Reeve LeClaire #2)

by Carla Norton (Goodreads Author)
From the acclaimed author of The Edge of Normal, a riveting new thriller in which the heroine must confront her former tormentor who has escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane

Reeve LeClaire is a college student, dammit, not Daryl Wayne Flint’s victim. Not anymore—not when Reeve is finally recovering a life of her own after four years of captivity.

Flint is safely locked up in Olshaker Psychiatric Hospital, where he belongs. He is walking the grounds of the forensic unit, performing his strange but apparently harmless rituals. It seems that he is still suffering the effects of the head injury he suffered in the car crash that freed Reeve seven years ago. Post-concussive syndrome, they call it.

For all that Flint seems like a model patient, he has long been planning his next move. When the moment arrives, he gets clean away from the hospital before the alarm even sounds. And Reeve is shocked out of her new life by her worst nightmare: Her kidnapper has escaped.

Less than 24 hours later, Flint kills someone from his past–and Reeve’s blocked memories jolt back into consciousness. As much as she would like to forget him, she knows this criminal better than anyone else. When Flint evades capture, baffling authorities and leaving a bloody trail from the psychiatric lock-up to the forests of Washington state, Reeve suddenly realizes that she is the only one who can stop him.
Reeve is an irresistibly brave and believable heroine in Carla Norton’s heart-stopping new thriller about a young woman who learns to fight back.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a really terrifying, edge of your seat kind of book. If you are bored with thrillers that claim they will keep you up at night and then disappoint, this is a book you should read. It has been a long time since I was excited and frightened at the same time to turn to the next page.

Carla Norton has brought us characters that seem as large as life and that are easy to care about (or hate with a passion, depending on which character it is.) Whilst reading this I felt my own pulse responding to the fear factors and yelling out loud at the characters to run! Hide! (Don’t read this book around others if you want people to think you are well adjusted.)

From the very first chapter this is a novel that will take you to unexpected places and thrill you. I never found myself obsessing over the percentage on my kindle…surely a sign of a great book.

The only gripe I had throughout the whole thing, is that the main character at times seemed to jump to conclusions about things a bit quicker than I would have expected.

My favourite character was bender. He is tough, intelligent and the kind of guy that you can’t help but love from the start.

I think this would be an awesome book for a book club or other group reading as there is so much in it that could be discussed later on. I’m hoping for a sequel.

Go. Read it. You won’t be sorry you did.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl

Based on the wildly popular YouTube channel, The Haunting of Sunshine Girl has been described as “ Gilmore Girls meets Paranormal Activity for the new media age.” YA fans new and old will learn the secrets behind Sunshine—the adorkable girl living in a haunted house—a story that is much bigger, and runs much deeper, than even the most devoted viewer can imagine…

Yes, I think that is really supposed to say ADORKABLE

The Haunting of Sunshine GirlThe Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First–an admission. I was not one of those people who followed the Sunshine Girl videos on YouTube so I came into this unaware of what it was about and went off the book blurb to tell me about it. I’m not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing. I suppose I went into reading this without any real expectations.

For the first third or so of this book, I was pretty enthralled. I liked Sunshine and her mom Kat right away. I liked the dog and the cat and the best friend and I was grateful that the author didn’t wait until the last page to start revealing the paranormal aspects of the story. This seemed like it would turn out to be the kind of old-fashioned, creepy ghost story that relies a lot on the unseen to create terror. The it went a different way.

I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy the rest of the book, I did, but in a bit different manner. Rather than being a ghost story, this book becomes more about the strange qualities of the main character and what her future holds. I thought the plot line was pretty unique, and I was still happy to continue reading, but I also was a bit dismayed that the story went from being about one thing and suddenly became about another. I’m not sure (again with the lack of videos) where the author will take this series, but it should be interesting to see.

I do have to say, the final battle with the dark force in the story was not my favourite. It seemed a bit too easy and too convenient for such heavy subject matter. I also want to mention that the bathtub scene is possibly one of the most terrifying scenes in any book I’ve read. So, I guess it balances.

Overall I think teens (and adults) will enjoy this book. I look forward to reading the next and seeing what happens to Sunshine in the future.

This review is based on a complimentary copy offered in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Sisters of Heart and Snow by Margaret Dilloway

Sisters of Heart and SnowSisters of Heart and Snow by Margaret Dilloway
Rachel and Drew Snow may be sisters, but  their lives have followed completely different paths.

Married to a wonderful man and a mother to two strong-minded teens, Rachel hasn’t returned to her childhood home since being kicked out by her strict father after an act of careless teenage rebellion. Drew, her younger sister, followed her passion for music but takes side jobs to make ends meet and longs for the stability that has always eluded her. Both sisters recall how close they were, but the distance between them seems more than they can bridge. When their deferential Japanese mother, Hikari, is diagnosed with dementia and gives Rachel power of attorney, Rachel’s domineering father, Killian becomes enraged.

In a rare moment of lucidity, Hikari asks Rachel for a book in her sewing room, and Rachel enlists her sister’s help in the search. The book—which tells the tale of real-life female samurai Tomoe Gozen, an epic saga of love, loss, and conflict during twelfth-century Japan—reveals truths about Drew and Rachel’s relationship that resonate across the centuries, connecting them in ways that turn their differences into assets.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a beautifully written and deeply thoughtful story. With dual tales in this novel, one set long ago in the twelfth century and one set in the current day, this book has a lot to offer to both those who love contemporary writing and for those who love historical books.

Margaret Dilloway keeps getting better with every novel she writes. I was not only impressed with her dialogue in this book as it was easy to read and believable, but also with the unusual family dynamics she creates for her characters. This author gives you a reason to want to continue with her books from the very first page.

When reading this, I found that I became very involved in the story of Tomoe, wanting to know more early on. The descriptions used for the setting were wonderful and made it easier to visualise the story. I like the parallels between the modern story and that of the Shogun period.

This book made me smile, made me cry and in the end and is a novel that I happily recommend to others. Margaret Dilloway is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors and a name I automatically associate with above-average fiction.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Amish Confidential (light on the confidential part)

Amish ConfidentialAmish Confidential by “Lebanon” Levi Stoltzfus

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’d like to preface this review by saying that this is a well written book, but definitely not what I expected it to be. Who doesn’t love a bit of sensationalism? I, like many other people, watched this show because it was interesting, and because it blew apart an ideal that many of us who are not closely familiar with the Amish held. They are different than us–we knew that, but I suppose I thought that meant that they did not experience the same things that we do out in the “English world.” I was aware whilst watching the programme that some of it must have been filmed as it was to increase the shock value for the viewers, but I also felt that it showed some true events going on that no outsider to the communities featured would have ever guessed at. I was hoping for more of the same with this book.

It wasn’t what I expected.

Based upon what was said by Levi himself, I thought this book would be more of a ‘here is what was and is really going on behind the scenes’ kind of thing. I expected to learn more about those he felt had wronged him and thought he would offer up an explanation for some of the events America witnessed on the series but didn’t learn more about. That isn’t what this book is. With the buildup for the release of the book and the promises of secrets exposed, I think a lot of people will buy this in close connection with the end of the series, thinking they will find out what happened to favourite cast members or get a peek at what producers and cast members didn’t or weren’t allowed to share during the filming. They won’t learn a thing.

Even so, this is an interesting look into the world of the Amish. Levi and his co-author do a good job of putting the traditions and long-standing beliefs of his people into focus for those of us who would not ordinarily understand them. There is a lot of information about events that have happened in the Amish community, although many of them weren’t shocking, or anything that you could not google and come up with results for on your own.

I suppose getting an insider’s take on things when you are curious about a certain region or community does have benefits over just researching news articles, and Levi does include many personal details about his life.

My honest opinion is that this is a good history of the Amish and a look at the daily lives of those who follow this lifestyle, but isn’t anything so dramatically exciting that you will be rushing to share tidbits with your family and friends.

I think the ever present threat of lawsuits for slander stop people from saying what they really think a lot of the time. I have a feeling a lot more could and would be said if it weren’t for that fact. The show was exciting and filled with lots of “I can’t believe he did that!” The book is not.

Although I can respect the co-author for making the book grammatically correct and for flowing smoothly, I did not see the big personality from Levi as it was displayed in the TV show. I missed that. Eighth grade education or not, I felt like he should have been more present in his own book.

Overall? I’m glad I read it, but I think in this case, the marketing was more exciting than the book.

The Stranger by Harlan Coben

The StrangerThe Stranger by Harlan Coben

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Harlan Coben is pretty far up there in my list of favourite authors and so it pains me a little to admit that I really didn’t like this book, but sadly, that is the case.

What makes a Harlan Coben book a good read in my opinion? The fact that he can think up plots that are outside the normal everyday realm and yet make the reader believe them. He can take something ordinary and make it extraordinary. I didn’t see that with this book, and here’s why I feel that way:

Flimsy plot device in the form of silly power-wielding character who causes evil by trying to prevent it. The “villains” in this book are numerous but ultimately I could not suspend belief long enough with the central villain to believe anyone could or would go to such extremes for such a small benefit. It reminded me of a bad rehashing of every religious-leader-gone-bad-fire-and-brimstone-cult-mentality film or book ever written.

Even the protagonists in this story seemed to be thin on character development. Hello person that we really know nothing about, let us support you.

There are a lot of twists, but without a strong backbone for the story, they became all jumbled together. Around every corner is a surprise of some sort, but none of them were particularly impressive to me as I felt the rest of the story still had no oomph. The main character fell flat for me, his wife we didn’t ever get to know and the reader likely spends half the story thinking she was quite possibly evil incarnate. So…how are you supposed to care what happens to them? Combine that with the list of unimportant characters that keep growing and never being sure why they are doing what they are doing in the first place and I found this book to be a recipe for disaster.

Of course, this is just my personal opinion and others might love it. I encourage you to give it a read and see what you think. The author pulled a lot of punches in this book, but I thought most of them missed the target. I also missed the humour that this author’s books tend to have interspersed throughout the more serious subject matter.

Loved the last couple of books, “Missing you” and “Six Years” were both fantastic, but this one just didn’t do it for me.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna Van Praag

The Dress Shop of DreamsThe Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag

For fans of Alice Hoffman, Sarah Addison Allen, and Adriana Trigiani, The Dress Shop of Dreams is a captivating novel of enduring hopes, second chances, and the life-changing magic of true love.

Since her parents’ mysterious deaths many years ago, scientist Cora Sparks has spent her days in the safety of her university lab or at her grandmother Etta’s dress shop. Tucked away on a winding Cambridge street, Etta’s charming tiny store appears quite ordinary to passersby, but the colorfully vibrant racks of beaded silks, delicate laces, and jewel-toned velvets hold bewitching secrets: With just a few stitches from Etta’s needle, these gorgeous gowns have the power to free a woman’s deepest desires.

Etta’s dearest wish is to work her magic on her granddaughter. Cora’s studious, unromantic eye has overlooked Walt, the shy bookseller who has been in love with her forever. Determined not to allow Cora to miss her chance at happiness, Etta sews a tiny stitch into Walt’s collar, hoping to give him the courage to confess his feelings to Cora. But magic spells—like true love—can go awry. After Walt is spurred into action, Etta realizes she’s set in motion a series of astonishing events that will transform Cora’s life in extraordinary and unexpected ways.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a sweet, charming tale with characters that are easy to love. If you like magic realism and you are looking for a story to take you away from everything, this would be a good book to choose.

I liked the characters right away. This is one of those stories that will transport you away from your daily stresses and make you smile and feel warm inside. The relationships between the characters, (both family and love interest,) are interesting and different from other books. You feel as if you have gotten to know these people within the first few chapters and after that, it is like you have become part of the story yourself.

The magical surprises in this book are many and as the story continues, you find yourself hoping that everything will work out the way you want it to.

This was a great book, with a lot to recommend it.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher as part of the shereads.org blogging program. All opinions are my own.

The Connicle Curse by Gregory Harris

The Connicle Curse (Colin Pendragon Mysteries, #3)The Connicle Curse by Gregory Harris

Victorian London’s private detective Colin Pendragon learns that the cost of wealth can indeed be dear as he investigates the grisly fate of a well-heeled financier. . .

When wealthy Edmond Connicle suddenly disappears, his distraught wife enlists the services of master sleuth Colin Pendragon and his loyal partner, Ethan Pruitt. Already on the case, however, is Scotland Yard’s Inspector Varcoe. He suspects the Connicles’ West African scullery maid of doing in her employer, especially when a badly burned body is discovered on the estate grounds with a sack of Voodoo festishes buried beneath it.

But all is not as it seems, and as more bodies are found, the pressure mounts on Varcoe, forcing him to forge an uneasy alliance with his nemesis, Pendragon. At the same time, Mrs. Connicle’s fragile mental state appears increasingly more precarious. Could madness, not black magic, be at the root of these murders? To untangle the twisted truth, Pendragon and Pruitt must penetrate the hidden lives of the elite and expose the malevolent machinations of a ruthless killer. . .

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I say yay for character development. Whereas some series tend to fizzle out after a while because the characters become predictable and so do the events, Gregory Harris has ensured that this didn’t happen with these novels.

I’m always excited to see what Colin and Ethan are going to get themselves into with each new book, and what location they will find themselves in. This has become one of my very favourite series and this book reminded me once more, why I love these books so much.

The relationships in these stories are as complex as the plot and mysteries within. I like that the reader finds out more about the pasts of the two main characters with each new novel, and the emotional connection I have with these two unlikely heroes grows every time I read another one.

Of the three books thus far, this one has the most intricate mysteries, involving a larger group of suspects. I appreciate that try as I might, I can’t guess what is really going on until it is fully revealed in the end.

This book made me laugh as usual. The relationships between Colin and those he is forced to work with to solve these cases allows for many snarky remarks and uncomfortable situations, easing the tension of the grim subject matter. I was sad to see a favourite character go in this book, but liked the way it ended overall.

In the end, I find myself impatiently waiting for the next book and hoping it isn’t a long wait.

Always recommended.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The NightingaleThe Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Flat out, there is no other way to describe this book–I loved it.

For anyone who has an interest in the German Occupations during WWII, this book will likely be interesting. Even if you don’t, this book still has something to offer.

Have you ever read a book that brought you so close to the characters that you forgot you were reading a book at all? That is what happened to me whilst reading this. I found myself so involved in the lives of these characters that I felt their pain, longing, loss and redemption.

Down to the very last detail, this is a beautifully written and immaculately researched novel.

One of the things that made me love this book, is that the characters seem to truly belong in the setting. Everything does not turn out perfectly at the end as so many books seem to force. The sad times of war including, cold, hunger and loss of lives is well described here and the characters experience it, enough that the reader feels it too.

The relationships in this story are complex and go far beyond those in the average book. The people grow and change and make you believe in them even when all hope seems to be lost.

I can’t say enough good things about this novel. It is amazing.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.


Mourning Lincoln by Martha Hodes

Mourning LincolnMourning Lincoln by Martha Hodes

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Mourning Lincoln

The news of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination on April 15, 1865, just days after Confederate surrender, astounded the war-weary nation. Massive crowds turned out for services and ceremonies. Countless expressions of grief and dismay were printed in newspapers and preached in sermons. Public responses to the assassination have been well chronicled, but this book is the first to delve into the personal and intimate responses of everyday people—northerners and southerners, soldiers and civilians, black people and white, men and women, rich and poor.

Through deep and thoughtful exploration of diaries, letters, and other personal writings penned during the spring and summer of 1865, Martha Hodes, one of our finest historians, captures the full range of reactions to the president’s death—far more diverse than public expressions would suggest. She tells a story of shock, glee, sorrow, anger, blame, and fear. “’Tis the saddest day in our history,” wrote a mournful man. It was “an electric shock to my soul,” wrote a woman who had escaped from slavery. “Glorious News!” a Lincoln enemy exulted. “Old Lincoln is dead, and I will kill the goddamned Negroes now,” an angry white southerner ranted. For the black soldiers of the Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts, it was all “too overwhelming, too lamentable, too distressing” to absorb.

There are many surprises in the story Hodes tells, not least the way in which even those utterly devastated by Lincoln’s demise easily interrupted their mourning rituals to attend to the most mundane aspects of everyday life.  There is also the unexpected and unabated virulence of Lincoln’s northern critics, and the way Confederates simultaneously celebrated Lincoln’s death and instantly—on the very day he died—cast him as a fallen friend to the defeated white South.

Hodes brings to life a key moment of national uncertainty and confusion, when competing visions of America’s future proved irreconcilable and hopes for racial justice in the aftermath of the Civil War slipped from the nation’s grasp. Hodes masterfully brings the tragedy of Lincoln’s assassination alive in human terms—terms that continue to stagger and rivet us one hundred and fifty years after the event they so strikingly describe.–From Goodreads

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Truly one of the best “Lincoln Books” that I have had the pleasure of reading.

Rather than just showing the side of America (and the world at large) that felt sorrow for the loss of the sixteenth president, this author researched, learned and wrote a book that shows both sides of the after effects the death of Lincoln had.

Whilst some were angry, disbelieving and sorrowful over the new of the president’s assassination, others were jubilant, relieved or even boastful. This book defines the boundaries between the belief systems of the North and South in a way that I have seen no other book attempt.

Through a multitude of first person accounts, the author manages to paint a picture of the American public after the death of Lincoln and show the reader what was really happening in the minds and hearts of those who survived the event.

From describing the feeling of some that mourning the loss of the president was a collective effort of everyone, to the reality that it was not, the author does a brilliant job of recounting history.

I would definitely recommend this book for anyone who is looking for further information about Lincoln, and the period after his death. A smartly researched, intelligently written book.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.