Warren the 13th and the all-seeing eye

Warren the 13th and The All-Seeing EyeWarren the 13th and The All-Seeing Eye by Tania del Rio

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Warren, the under appreciated and often comical main character in Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye, is sure to warm the hearts of adult and younger readers alike. This book is just so much fun to read.

If you enjoy sharing stories with your kids and are looking for a book that will keep their imaginations captive, may I recommend this one. Warren is the bellhop for the Warren hotel, which has fallen into repair after falling under the control of his clueless uncle and his nasty Aunt Anaconda. The adventures he has trying to solve the mystery of the hidden treasure in the hotel and save the place that he loves are so exciting and enjoyable that you won’t want to stop reading until the very end.

This book is not tremendously long so would be ideal for children who are just beginning with chapter books. The characters are engaging, the story is unique and the ending is full of just the right amount of danger and happy ending.

I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a good story for their kids, or even just for themselves.

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

The Beast of Barcroft

The Beast of BarcroftThe Beast of Barcroft by Bill Schweigart

Fans of Stephen King and Bentley Little will devour The Beast of Barcroft, Bill Schweigart’s brilliant new vision of dark suburban horror. Ben thought he had the neighbor from hell. He didn’t know how right he was. . . .

Ben McKelvie believes he’s moving up in the world when he and his fiancée buy a house in the cushy Washington, D.C., suburb of Barcroft. Instead, he’s moving down—way down—thanks to Madeleine Roux, the crazy neighbor whose vermin-infested property is a permanent eyesore and looming hazard to public health.

First, Ben’s fiancée leaves him; then, his dog dies, apparently killed by a predator drawn into Barcroft by Madeleine’s noxious menagerie. But the worst is yet to come for Ben, for he’s not dealing with any ordinary wild animal. This killer is something much, much worse. Something that couldn’t possibly exist—in this world.

Now, as a devilish creature stalks the locals, Ben resolves to take action. With some grudging assistance from a curator at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and the crackpot theories of a self-styled cryptozoologist, he discovers the sinister truth behind the attacks, but knowing the Beast of Barcroft and stopping it are two different animals.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At first, I figured this would be another silly horror book with very little plot, but only a few pages in, I discovered that wasn’t true. I liked the main character right away, and that led me to being interested in the rest of the story.

What I enjoyed about this book the most, was the mystery surrounding what the creature actually was. Things would lead one way for a while and then something would change and it would appear to be something else. There was a good mystery about this story and it kept it intriguing until the very end.

I also liked the varied cast of characters and the descriptions of their situations. The characters each had strong, individual personality traits that set them apart from one another, so they were easy to keep track of.

If you enjoy books where the terror builds as the story moves along, this would be a great book for you to choose. Perfect for a spooky Halloween night or an any time fright.

I liked it. Thumbs up.

Hoping for a sequel.

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

Until We Break by Jamie Howard

Until We BreakUntil We Break by Jamie Howard

When Sloane Avery stops to help a stranded driver, she finds more than a broken down car on the side of the road. Luke Evans is faster and sexier than her Maserati, but with her heart still on the mend, she’s not interested in taking him for a test drive. Despite their initial disdain for each other, emotion and passion simmer, complicating their fragile friendship. But when a tragic loss and devastating betrayal send them spiraling, their growing love isn’t enough to save them.

That was five years ago, practically a different lifetime and definitely a different Sloane. Before she’s been hardened by booze, sex, and as much distance as she could get from the past. Now, called home on a family emergency, she’s determined to hold onto her heart the next time she sees Luke.

Except Sloane’s not the only one who’s changed. Luke’s turned his life around. Only the reappearance of Sloane and the reminder of his biggest mistake can put a dent in his plans. Luke is set on fixing what he’s broken. But with her emotions boiling to the surface, Sloane needs to decide if falling in love is life’s greatest gift or its cruelest joke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Usually I hate angst filled books with younger couples, but the writing in this one is too good to let it slip into that category. Jamie Howard gets it–she understands the complexities of relationships and that reflects in the behaviour of her characters.

Sloane immediately made me like her and the back story for her love interest drew me in as well. I liked the chemistry between them from a very early point in the story and waited with anticipation to see how things would work out for them. This is a book that will take the reader on an emotional ride, wanting things to work out and then cursing when they don’t go the way you want them to.

More than just another silly romance, this novel is written with readers in mind. I won’t soon forget it.

Give this one a chance, even if it isn’t the kind of book you would normally read. It’s worth the time.

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

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George Washington’s Journey by T.H. Breen

George Washington's Journey: The President Forges a New NationGeorge Washington’s Journey: The President Forges a New Nation by T.H. Breen

This is George Washington in the surprising role of political strategist.

T.H. Breen introduces us to a George Washington we rarely meet. During his first term as president, he decided that the only way to fulfill the Revolution was to take the new federal government directly to the people. He organized an extraordinary journey carrying him to all thirteen states. It transformed American political culture.

For Washington, the stakes were high. If the nation fragmented, as it had almost done after the war, it could never become the strong, independent nation for which he had fought. In scores of communities, he communicated a powerful and enduring message—that America was now a nation, not a loose collection of states. And the people responded to his invitation in ways that he could never have predicted.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“George Washington’s Journey” is not your typical, boring historical account of the life of a president. Instead, it follows closely in the footsteps of a man who had many difficult decisions to make and set out on a course to learn everything he could about the new nation he took command of.

I love history, and that is no secret. I’d rather read non-fiction most of the time and tend to get particularly excited over early American history, so when I saw this book I had high expectations for it. Truly, it not only met those expectations, but far exceeded them.

Everything about this book was exciting for a history lover. Not only did it incorporate careful research and obvious effort from the author for accuracy, but it was written in a conversational tone that made it seem less intimidating for me as a reader. I liked the way the author made an attempt to follow the same roads that the former president had, offering unique insights into the changes that have occurred in these places since Washington’s original journeys.

If you are interested in the life and times of George Washington, or simply this period of history, this would be an excellent book to add to your collection. Recommended.

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

Derek Takes Action by Mac Black

Derek Takes ActionDerek Takes Action by Mac Black

Derek has a cause but, being Derek, he also has a host of misunderstandings to sort out, mistakes to rectify and a wife to mollify. As a natural leader, he knows that beating the Railway Developers is down to him. As a natural disaster area, we know it is unlikely to go quite to plan. In Mac Black’s fifth and final Derek book the plot is stirred as poor gullible Derek tries his best and makes us laugh all the way to the end!
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve grown rather fond of poor, bumbling Derek over the years, and it saddens me a bit to see him go in this final sendoff, but what a sendoff it was.

Once more, he finds himself in the worst sort of trouble from the very beginning of this book, but manages to save face in time for the ending, becoming the local hero that all his readers knew he could be–albeit, with a bit of drama along the way. I still feel for Sally.

This book had Mac Black’s unique humour spread evenly through it, and is full of moments that make you glad you are not the main character in one of his novels. Derek is as witty and enjoyable as ever in this story, and after finishing it, I think it is a tie for me over which is my favourite–this one or the first.

I liked the new characters in this book and felt like this story did a good job of tying everything before it together.

If you haven’t read this series yet and you enjoy humour and unlikely heroes, you should pick up a copy of the first book and get started. I’ll miss Derek, but I understand that everyone has limits, and he has already used more than his share of 9 lives.

Read it, have a giggle.

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

Of Darkness and Light by J.S. Riddle

Of Darkness and LightOf Darkness and Light by J.S. Riddle

Of Darkness and Light is the follow up book to Rise of a Queen, part of The Vampire Realm series. Where Rise of a Queen tells the tale of Tessa’s struggles and defeats, he introduction of Tessa’s family brought forth a new tale to tell.

The rise of Tessa’s empire came at a cost. Her vision of a future where vampires and humans lived united had all but disappeared. Her family, torn by the wars that ravaged her land, had to choose a side. Her sister and Emma with the rebels and Jason growing into his future by Tessa’s side. Emma’s struggle with her own choices, as Jason moves forward towards a life of service to his aunt, neither one sure of the outcome. The journey that the family takes will force the evolution of life as a vampire to the forefront, forever changing Tessa’s perspective on the world she thought she knew. Can Tessa survive another daunting war while ensuring the future of the vampires? Will Jason and Emma make the right choices and not be swayed by the childhood they once knew? Can either side of the war overcome what stands in their way, even when what they love is what they will lose? Will Jason and Emma make the right choices and not be swayed by the childhood they once knew? Can either side of the war overcome what stands in their way, even when what they love is what they will lose? Or will there be a beacon of hope; shining brightly in the world that has fallen so dark.​
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was happy to return to the life of Tessa and her daughter and the battle for her future and that of her people. The writing of JS Riddle has really matured between her last book and this one and the characters have also shown a lot of growth.

This book picks up speed pretty quickly and involves the audience into the world the author has created without much effort from the reader. I would still recommend starting at the beginning, with “Rise of a Queen,” so that you understand the complexities of the story, but this would still be an entertaining and interesting book either way.

I like Tessa a lot more in this book. She is savvy, smart and overall has the kind of fiery personality a character needs to take charge of a story with so much going on. She doesn’t take crap off of anyone and I suspect that her story will continue to get even more exciting as time progresses.

The supporting characters were good here and they each had an opportunity to step outside their role and venture forward on their own. The plot has a lot of unexpected twists and I was excited to keep reading, wondering where the author would take her characters next.

This is not your typical vampire book–and that’s what makes it great.

Recommended for those who like the paranormal, strong female characters and stories that you can’t predict.

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

Saturn Run by John Sandford and Ctein

Saturn RunAn extraordinary new thriller of the future from #1 New York Times –bestselling and Pulitzer Prize–winning author John Sandford and internationally known photo-artist and science fiction aficionado Ctein.

Over the course of thirty-seven books, John Sandford has proven time and again his unmatchable talents for electrifying plots, rich characters, sly wit, and razor-sharp dialogue. Now, in collaboration with Ctein, he proves it all once more, in a stunning new thriller, a story as audacious as it is deeply satisfying.

The year is 2066. A Caltech intern inadvertently notices an anomaly from a space telescope—something is approaching Saturn, and decelerating. Space objects don’t decelerate. Spaceships do.

A flurry of top-level government meetings produces the inescapable conclusion: Whatever built that ship is at least one hundred years ahead in hard and soft technology, and whoever can get their hands on it exclusively and bring it back will have an advantage so large, no other nation can compete. A conclusion the Chinese definitely agree with when they find out.

The race is on, and an remarkable adventure begins—an epic tale of courage, treachery, resourcefulness, secrets, surprises, and astonishing human and technological discovery, as the members of a hastily thrown-together crew find their strength and wits tested against adversaries both of this earth and beyond. What happens is nothing like you expect—and everything you could want from one of the world’s greatest masters of suspense.Saturn Run by John Sandford
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First of all, I would like to admit to the fact that I am not the world’s biggest sci-fi fan, and so, I was probably a bit more off-put by the tech jargon in this book than a sci-fi fan would be.

The story did eventually become a lot more interesting and I was able to finish the book, but it took me quite a while, as I would lose focus after a few minutes of reading (once again, techy-stuff.)

There is also a very large cast of characters in this novel, and at times, I got a little confused by who was doing what.

I think the redeeming factor for me, was that even as someone who does not favour this type of book, I still found threads in it that made me want to know what was going to happen next. I believe, that if you are a sci-fi fan, this will be a book that you want to read.

Not a bad read–even for someone who wouldn’t normally choose this. I was curious to see what else John Sandford does, as I am a definite fan of his mystery books.

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

The Determined Heart by Antoinette May

The Determined Heart: The Tale of Mary Shelley and Her FrankensteinThe Determined Heart: The Tale of Mary Shelley and Her Frankenstein by Antoinette May

The Determined Heart reveals the life of Mary Shelley in a story of love and obsession, betrayal and redemption.

The daughter of political philosopher William Godwin and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley had an unconventional childhood populated with the most talented and eccentric personalities of the time. After losing her mother at an early age, she finds herself in constant conflict with a resentful stepmother and a jealous stepsister. When she meets the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, she falls deeply in love, and they elope with disastrous consequences. Soon she finds herself destitute and embroiled in a torturous love triangle as Percy takes Mary’s stepsister as a lover. Over the next several years, Mary struggles to write while she and Percy face ostracism, constant debt, and the heartbreaking deaths of three children. Ultimately, she achieves great acclaim for Frankenstein, but at what cost?
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an excellent book, there is no doubt of that. I was pleasantly surprised–no, that doesn’t cover it. I was supremely shocked that this book was so well thought out and written. I love historical novels based on real people, but many of them tend to lack the crucial research that makes them feel authentic. This author made certain to remain true to the characters, whilst still being imaginative enough to write a book that also keeps the reader’s attention.

Mary Shelley surely was an interesting person and she is depicted that way here, but it was the descriptions of Lord Byron and Bysshe that really captivated me more than anything else.

This book brings to life all of the loss, excitement, many moves and struggles of this infamous historical couple and shows both the beautiful and uglier aspects of their lives together and apart. The author did a wonderful job of describing each setting she used and taking her characters from flat to three-dimensional, emotional beings that you feel sorrow for having to part with when the story is complete.

The only thing that annoyed me, and would have annoyed me even if this were non fiction, was Mary’s tolerance for Claire. Not the author’s fault, as she was remaining as true to life as possible, but still–I wanted to punch Claire.

More than just some simple filling in of the gaps in knowledge, I felt Antoinette May really out her heart and soul into the creation of this book and strongly encourage you to give this book a try. It will not disappoint.

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

Sunday Dinner: Coming of Age in the Segregated South by Ann Boult Walling

Sunday Dinner: Coming of Age in the Segregated SouthSunday Dinner: Coming of Age in the Segregated South by Ann Boult Walling

Ann Walling grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, in the 1940s and 50s in a family with deep roots in Mississippi and a history tightly bound to the Old South. To a small girl’s sensibility, her family’s lavish Sunday dinners were a liturgy that reinforced strict Southern mores she was taught never to question. But lurking behind the fine china were troubling contradictions, racial injustice, and tightly guarded family secrets. Told with clear-eyed empathy, Sunday Dinner is the remarkable story of a young woman’s moral awakening amidst a society’s painful reckoning with its history. The book poignantly outlines the struggle that each one of us faces in deciding which aspects of our past we must embrace, and which aspects we must leave behind.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sunday Dinner is the kind of memoir that makes you want to read memoirs. This is an honest look at the harsh realities as well as fond memories of a childhood in a very tense time in America.

The author has done a good job not only telling her audience about her experiences, but ensuring that she takes the reader along for the journey as well. The writing is heartfelt and honest.

I found myself enthralled by the idea of so many things going on within the family of the author that they would not speak about openly and in public. The differences between what we see as neighbours and friends and what is really going on behind the scenes was really highlighted well here, and I have great respect for Ann Boult Walling for coming forward to discuss these difficult issues.

Sometimes I feel that memoirs are more personal journals that the author has chosen to share with the world, and that they should have stayed personal as they have little value for the rest of us. I didn’t feel that way about this book. I think this will be interesting no matter who you are, whether you are southern or not, regardless of race or gender.

The writing is clear and concise and intelligent, and I encourage you to give it a try. Well edited, smart and meaningful.

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

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

The Dead HouseThe Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

Part-psychological thriller, part-urban legend, this is an unsettling narrative made up of diary entries, interview transcripts, film footage transcripts and medical notes. Twenty-five years ago, Elmbridge High burned down. Three people were killed and one pupil, Carly Johnson, disappeared. Now a diary has been found in the ruins of the school. The diary belongs to Kaitlyn Johnson, Carly’s identical twin sister. But Carly didn’t have a twin . . .

Re-opened police records, psychiatric reports, transcripts of video footage and fragments of diary reveal a web of deceit and intrigue, violence and murder, raising a whole lot more questions than it answers.

Who was Kaitlyn and why did she only appear at night? Did she really exist or was she a figment of a disturbed mind? What were the illicit rituals taking place at the school? And just what did happen at Elmbridge in the events leading up to ‘the Johnson Incident’?

Chilling, creepy and utterly compelling, THE DEAD HOUSE is one of those very special books that finds all the dark places in your imagination, and haunts you long after you’ve finished reading.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked parts of this book. The concept is very interesting and I liked that I couldn’t figure out exactly what was going on in the very beginning of the book–unfortunately, I still couldn’t figure out what was going on well into the book either.

Ever read a book where there are so many different ideas competing for space that none of them really get fully explored? That was what I thought about this. The writing was good, the characters were interesting, but there were just so many different things going on that it all mashed together and became…something. Not something that I could figure out.

This is a rather long book, and in the end, I didn’t really get why things happened as they did or why it required so much space. I didn’t hate this book, but I would say that liking it as a whole would be being a bit generous.

If you enjoy reading very unusual books, then this might be a good one for you to check out.

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