Hoodoo by Ronald L. Smith

HoodooHoodoo by Ronald L. Smith
Twelve-year-old Hoodoo Hatcher was born into a family with a rich tradition of practicing folk magic: hoodoo, as most people call it. But even though his name is Hoodoo, he can’t seem to cast a simple spell.       Then a mysterious man called the Stranger comes to town, and Hoodoo starts dreaming of the dead rising from their graves. Even worse, he soon learns the Stranger is looking for a boy. Not just any boy. A boy named Hoodoo. The entire town is at risk from the Stranger’s black magic, and only Hoodoo can defeat him. He’ll just need to learn how to conjure first.       Set amid the swamps, red soil, and sweltering heat of small town Alabama in the 1930s, Hoodoo is infused with a big dose of creepiness leavened with gentle humor.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is an odd little book. It is somewhat reminiscent of Lemony, and yet an idea all on its own. I really liked the main character, Hoodoo and his family, but at times I didn’t feel like the story lived up to the full potential it had.

It takes a while for the story to find the right pace and fully develop, but when it does it is a joy to read. This story will keep kids and adults alike interested in what is going to happen next in the unusual life of this little boy.

I wasn’t thrilled with the choice of repeat phrases, as it on the verge of being insulting to the reader. Still it was a fun story and deserving of a look.

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

The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young

The Gates of EvangelineThe Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young

From a unique new talent comes a fast-paced debut, introducing a heroine whose dark visions bring to light secrets that will heal or destroy those around her . . .

When New York journalist and recently bereaved mother Charlotte “Charlie” Cates begins to experience vivid dreams about children she’s sure that she’s lost her mind. Yet these are not the nightmares of a grieving parent, she soon realizes. They are messages and warnings that will help Charlie and the children she sees, if only she can make sense of them.

After a little boy in a boat appears in Charlie’s dreams asking for her help, Charlie finds herself entangled in a thirty-year-old missing-child case that has never ceased to haunt Louisiana’s prestigious Deveau family. Armed with an invitation to Evangeline, the family’s sprawling estate, Charlie heads south, where new friendships and an unlikely romance bring healing. But as she uncovers long-buried secrets of love, money, betrayal, and murder, the facts begin to implicate those she most wants to trust—and her visions reveal an evil closer than she could’ve imagined.A Southern Gothic mystery debut that combines literary suspense and romance with a mystical twist, The Gates of Evangeline is a story that readers of Gillian Flynn, Kate Atkinson, and Alice Sebold won’t be able to put down.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is fascinating, there is no question about that. From the first few pages I was hooked and I didn’t want to put it down.

Charlie is a strong character and although she has a lot of unexpected events occur in the beginning of the story, she doesn’t heavily overreact or do anything that would seem particularly out of character, save for the one act that ties the rest of the story together–a necessary plot device used by the author, and one that I could appreciate.

I loved the atmosphere of this story and the plantation home setting. The structures were beautifully described and I really felt I could see the same things the main character was viewing. I was particularly impressed with the descriptions of the swamp and surrounding territory, including New Orleans–though it was perhaps a more positive perception than some visitors get from the city.

I won’t say that I gave this four stars instead of five for the language and the comparisons the author made to the people of Louisiana and Texas compared to a New Yorker with a college education–others already have. Frankly, having not lived there and only been a visitor to the south and to Texas, I likely would have done the same thing–dialogue is a tough nut to crack.

What I will say, is that I couldn’t totally get around the idea of a sick, dying old woman seemingly being completely out of it and then acting as though she were able to clear the fog and have a perfectly rational conversation as she wished.

Otherwise, I thought this was a brilliantly crafted novel and recommend it to anyone looking for a good, deep mystery with a lot of unexpected revelations.

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

Americosis by Haydn Wilks

A naked man arrives in New Mexico claiming to have traveled through time.
He says that he’s America’s savior.

A bizarre sexually-transmitted infection in New York takes control of people’s bodies and burns them out in an incessant drive to infect others.

And a Presidential candidate is conversing with angels.
His aides think he’s crazy.
The electorate might not agree with them.

It could all be madness. It might be the apocalypse.

Americosis.

An epic genre-bending mash-up of sci-fi, horror, thriller & dark comedy.

VOLUME 1
This short novella introduces the series. It’ll leave you begging for more…

My Review :

4 Stars

This is certainly an interesting way to introduce readers to a new series. If you are squeamish and offended by swearing and blatant sexual acts, this book will immediately be off-putting, but if you aren’t, then this book has a little bit of something for everyone.

Chaos and destruction, insanity and excitement–this book doesn’t slow down from the first page to the last. If you are looking for something with a dystopian twist that also borders the line of horror, this will do nicely.

I liked the different stories that all combine together to make for a wider angle than you get with most stories. For a short book, this packed a punch. Recommended to those who like something a bit different and edgy. It was a lot of fun.

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

Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase by Louise Walters

Mrs. Sinclair's SuitcaseMrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase by Louise Walters

Forgive me, Dorothea, for I cannot forgive you. What you do, to this child, to this child’s mother, it is wrong…

Roberta likes to collect the letters and postcards she finds in second-hand books. When her father gives her some of her grandmother’s belongings, she finds a baffling letter from the grandfather she never knew – dated after he supposedly died in the war.

Dorothy is unhappily married to Albert, who is away at war. When an aeroplane crashes in the field behind her house she meets Squadron Leader Jan Pietrykowski, and as their bond deepens she dares to hope she might find happiness. But fate has other plans for them both, and soon she is hiding a secret so momentous that its shockwaves will touch her granddaughter many years later…

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! Not just wow, but WOW!

This is a beautiful book. This is the kind of novel that you can fully lose yourself in and not look back until the very last page. Louise Walters is amazing, and so is this book.

I could not put this story down and when I did, I missed the characters and wanted to come back. This novel worked its way into my heart and made me feel like the characters were people I knew and loved. The writing is incredible. The sentence structure has a flow that draws you into the story and each character has their own way of thinking and speaking during the dialogue sections.

Dorothy was so easy to love and my heart broke for her at different points in this book. She was a character that I literally could not help but love. I felt the same way about Roberta. These two women are so alive through the words of this author that I felt I had known them forever.

It’s hard to find a book where the secondary characters are fulfilling and make you wonder about their lives when the story is done, but Ms. Walters has done it.

Rarely do I dread seeing the last page of a book arrive–in fact, usually I’m excited to get to the end. These are some big shoes to fill, what in the world am I going to read after this?

Recommended 100% for those who love to fall in love with their book characters.

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

Primal Heat by A.C. Arthur

Primal Heat (The Shadow Shifters, #6)Primal Heat by A.C. Arthur
In the savage world of the Shadow Shifters, desire can be as dangerous as nature itself…

As guard to the most powerful shifter in the human world, Eli Preston is sworn to protect his leader, defend their alliance, and keep his darker instincts in check. But when a beautiful female trainee arouses his jaguar senses, there is no stopping the beast within. He must have her. Even if it jeopardizes the deadliest mission of his life…

When the heat is on—and the claws come out—the heart is the fiercest hunter…

For six years, Nivea has been waiting for Eli to take her in his arms, unleash his animal urges, and claim her as his mate. But once their passion is unleashed—in a reckless moment of pure unbridled lust—nothing can ever be the same. The battlelines are drawn: man versus animal, shifter versus shifter. And Eli must be prepared to fight for his life—and his love—or he will lose Nivea forever…

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have to be honest, in the first couple chapters of this book, I nearly gave up. I couldn’t imagine any woman acting the way these characters did and I was a little frustrated with the setup.

After that, things got interesting and I began to feel like this might be a book worth sticking around for–and in the end, I’m glad I made that decision. It definitely was more than I expected in the beginning.

The story is quickly paced and the characters are unique. I enjoyed the descriptions of the character’s abilities and thought these were some of the steamiest romantic scenes that I’ve seen in any recent book.

The back stories for the characters weren’t overdone to the point where they interfered with the current events and yet I felt I knew enough about them to make for a well rounded reading experience.

Overall, I thought this was a very creative, different novel from others out there in the same category. If you like shifter novels, this is one of the best. Also, great title–very appropriate.

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

Center of Gravity by Laura McNeill

Center of GravityCenter of Gravity by Laura McNeill

The truth could cost her everything.

Her whole life, Ava Carson has been sure of one thing: she doesn’t measure up to her mother’s expectations. So when Mitchell Carson sweeps into her life with his adorable son, the ready-made family seems like a dream come true. In the blink of an eye, she’s married, has a new baby, and life is grand.

Or is it?

When her picture-perfect marriage begins unraveling at the seams, Ava convinces herself she can fix it. It’s temporary. It’s the stress. It’s Mitchell’s tragic history of loss.

If only Ava could believe her own excuses.

Mitchell is no longer the charming, thoughtful man she married. He grows more controlling by the day, revealing a violent jealous streak. His behavior is recklessly erratic, and the unanswered questions about his past now hint at something far more sinister than Ava can stomach. Before she can fit the pieces together, Mitchell files for divorce and demands full custody of their boys.

Fueled by fierce love for her children and aided by Graham Thomas, a new attorney in town —Ava takes matters into her own hands, digging deep into the past. But will finding the truth be enough to beat Mitchell at his own game? Center of Gravity weaves a chilling tale, revealing the unfailing and dangerous truth that things—and people—are not always what they seem.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow! This is really a very compelling and exciting book. I read this in the space of one evening as I found it impossible to put down.

For anyone who has had issues with a crazy ex–this book will remind you why you were lucky to get away. I loved the relationship between Sam, Jack and Ava. The way the author portrayed the selflessness of the main character and her desperation to be with her children was so on target. I found myself wishing I could jump into the pages and fix the situation for her.

This story unfolds rather quickly, and after the first few chapters there is no way you can put it down without thinking about it when you walk away. The writing is excellent, the conversations seem realistic and the emotions that the characters display are genuine. This is an author who knows how to captivate her readers.

I did find in some places that Jack seemed a bit advanced for his age. Particularly in one spot where he is using a computer, it seems he has knowledge of how things operate way beyond his years, whereas the rest of the book he appears as an intelligent, yet appropriately minded young boy. I wanted to hug him.

Still, this was a nearly perfect book. It grabbed my attention early on and gave me a reason to keep turning pages–I even found that I missed the characters when the story was finished.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a great read. Fast paced, witty and well planned.

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

Win a really fun Prize courtesy of Disney!

Note: All samples and prizes provided through Disney Publishing

Please read to the bottom for how to enter to win a prize pack:)

Gabby Duran and the Unsittables

About the Book:

Case File: The First Unsittable

Summary: The Association Linking Intergalatics and Earthlings (hereby known as A.L.I.E.N.) has a new member. After months of investigation, Gabby Duran, Associate 4118-25125A, has proven herself to be a babysitter extraordinaire. Her celebrity clients fly her around the country to care for their rambunctious little humans. Our spy, Associate 4118-23432B, otherwise known as Edwina, believes Gabby can be trusted with the truth: aliens are living among humans on Earth. And here at A.L.I.E.N we believe that even extraterrestrials need a babysitter now and then. No one was up to the task…until now.

After accepting the top-secret position, Edwina has paired our new associate up with her first charge, a little girl from the planet Flarknartia. The timing for associate 4118-25125A is less than ideal. It’s a school day on Planet Earth, Gabby’s audition for the solo part in the band is tonight, and this tiny alien is a bit more than meets the eye.

Can Gabby Duran, Associate 4118-25125A, First Sitter to the Unsittables, keep her otherworldly charge safe in the unpredictable halls of middle-school and keep A.L.I.E.N hidden?

Elise Allen

About the Authors:

Emmy-nominated writer and New York Times best-selling author Elise Allen made a name for herself with her acclaimed young adult novel Populazzi (Harcourt), and the Jim Henson’s Enchanted Sisters chapter books (Bloomsbury). In television, she has written for talent ranging from Bill Cosby to Kermit the Frog, and is currently writing for the new Disney Junior show The Lion Guard. Her dog may or may not secretly be from another planet.

Daryle Conners

Daryle Conners is an award-winning writer, filmmaker and video game designer. She writes joke and riddle books and has designed many game titles for the PC and iPhone/iPad including Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Scene It? Harry Potter, Hot Wheels Slot Car Racers, and Scene It? Twilight Saga. Her non-fiction books include Lunchtime LOLZ, Nintendo DS Hot Tips, ROFLs,Video Game Secrets and Monster High Jokes, all for Scholastic. Daryle lives in Seattle, where she still babysits from time to time.

READ AN EXCERPT

http://www.bighonchomedia.com/assets/Disney/Gabby/GabbyDuranExcerpt.pdf

LEARN MORE

Learn more at the Official Site

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Follow Elise Allen & Daryle Conners on Twitter

#GabbyDuran

Available at these fine retailers

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

BAM

Indiebound

Chapters

iBooks

 My Review
Gabby Duran and the UnsittablesGabby Duran and the Unsittables by Elise Allen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have decided that I am in the wrong business and Gabby Duran has the job that I want!

I loved this book–it made me giggle all the way through. I am a huge fan of middle-grade fiction. I love the fantastic story lines and the fun events that adult books just can’t quite pull off. This book is the epitome of everything a good mid-grade book should be.

Gabby Duran is a wonderful character that kids will have no trouble relating to. She is smart, sly and compassionate. One of my favourite things about this book was Gabby’s obvious affection for all the little kids (both terrestrial and extra-terrestrial,) that she sat for. She is a good role model for patience and acceptance of those who are a bit different.

This is filled with the fun kind of danger that will keep young readers on their toes and wanting to turn pages. I loved the shape-shifting alien and the silly humour. This book doesn’t have any gross-out humour, so parents can feel good about their kids reading it. The authors took enough liberties with reality to make it fun, but not so many that you can’t follow the story. I am really looking forward to seeing where else Gabby goes and what adventures await her.

If you are looking for a book for a special child in your life, this would be a perfect choice. Recommended.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, Disney Publishing, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

View all my reviews

Now here’s your chance to win something really fun!

Prize Pack!

COOLEST BABYSITTER IN THE GALAXY prize pack

One (1) winner receives:

· a copy of Gabby Duran and the Unsittables

· and branded Tumbler and UFO light-up flyer.

All you have to do is share this post with your favorite social media outlet–and leave a comment to let me know you did. One winner will be chosen at random on Saturday the 16th of May. Open to US residents only.

Siren’s Call by Debbie Herbert

Siren's Call (Dark Seas)Siren’s Call by Debbie Herbert

Lily Borsage is the ultimate siren: gorgeous, aloof and irresistible to all the men in Bayou La Siryna. All of them, that is, until Nashoba Bowman comes back to town. The Native American kid whose innocent first kiss Lily remembers fondly is now all grown-up, hot as an Alabama summer and immune to Lily’s charms. What self-respecting mermaid could resist finding out more?

But Nash has a dark history that puts any woman he loves in grave danger, and a heritage of power he isn’t ready to accept. And Lily has a secret that no mortal man can ever know. When a mysterious enemy starts menacing Lily, they will both have to risk everything and embrace their deepest destinies if they want to survive.


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Debbie Herbert has done it again, bringing her readers the magic of attraction and romance tinged with danger and the unknown.

Love this book. Just like the others in this series, this novel is filled with things that will make you swoon–most especially the male lead. Of the three books I have read in this series, this one is my favourite. It was nice to get updates on the lives of previously featured characters, and I really felt like the author tied everything together in this novel.

Debbie Herbert is really good at building unique situations for her characters and creating the kind of chemistry between them that you want to see in a romance. Her couples feel really genuine and the story line feels very natural and not contrived.

It is easy to become swiftly involved in these stories and find yourself lost in the lives of these women. The setting was as beautiful and mysterious as the rest of the series, and makes you wonder if there just might really be mermaids in the Bayou.

This was a great novel, and one that I happily recommend. If you are looking for a story that has more than just a simple romance, this is the way to go.

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

Summer on Lover’s Island by Donna Alward (Jewell Cove # 3)

Summer on Lovers' Island (Jewell Cove, #3)

Summer on Lovers’ Island (Jewell Cove #3)


Lizzie Howard’s life is close to perfect, until her father’s death brings her world crashing down around her. With her reputation and heart in tatters, she reluctantly agrees to temporarily take over her best friend’s practice in scenic Jewell Cove, Maine—a position that’s a world away from the high pressure career she once loved.

Josh Collins is no stranger to pain. After losing his wife, he moved home looking to start over. One of two doctors at the town clinic, his sleepy coastal practice is just what he needed. Until Lizzie Howard arrives. Lizzie is everything Josh wanted to get away from: brash, ambitious and not interested in a quiet life in a quiet town. But as the sparks fly between these two doctors, they realize that sometimes opposites really do attract.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am always amazed when I start reading a Donna Alward story at just how good she is at capturing the special moments and conflicts in ordinary life–and yet making them feel extraordinary.

Feasibly, I think you could read this book as a standalone and it would still make sense and be enjoyable–but I would recommend you read the rest of the series first. Not because you have to–just because you can. When was the last time you turned down an amazing opportunity to relax and just have a good time?

Character growth and development is important to me as a fan of series books, and you get that here. Characters from the original book are caught up with in this story,and some that we only met in supporting roles now take the floor.

I like romance that has depth–the kind of relationship between two characters that makes you want to see them succeed regardless of the odds against them. This author knows how to create the perfect mix of tension and longing to make her couples stand out from the crowd and feel realistic. They have families and problems just like the rest of us and have to try hard to blend their lives together as real people do. The forethought that goes into these books must be immense, as the results are fantastic.

Donna Alward has brought her readers another reason to love Jewell Cove and its residents. If you are a fan of Debbie Macomber or RaeAnne Thayne, you will certainly want to check out the work of Donna Alward. Small town setting, big writing talent.

Recommended.

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

Something I rarely ever do

I gave up on a book. Shocking, I know. Maybe it was the silly connection used to link the MC to Bridget Bishop of the Salem trials. Maybe it was just too many words used to describe too little importance. Either way–here’s what I thought.

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.

Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

*review may contain minor spoilers*

So, I apologise if this review makes me come off sounding like a giant Ashmole, but I have to be honest–this book nearly bored me to tears. I gave it the old college try. Really, I kept going even after I thought I couldn’t take another minute of it, but in the end, I had to give up before I finished it. I made it over 200 pages in.

I can sum it up rather quickly. It reminded me of Twilight for adults, with a bit more science thrown in.

Oxford and library described in extreme detail.

The characters eat, with vivid description of the contents of each meal. They drink many different wines. They go to Yoga.

In the following chapters, the characters eat. They drink lots of wine. They go to Yoga.

The Vampire likes watching the witch sleep.

The vampire is afraid he will hurt his love interest.

Wine.

Yoga.

Food.

Vampire hunts deer rather than humans.

I can’t handle it anymore. Utmost respect for those who found this book exciting and loved it. I was not one of those people.

I wanted to like it. I failed.

Not one I can recommend.