Goliath by Shawn Corridan


Captain Nicholas Borodin and his crew embark upon their first voyage at the helm of the new, revolutionary and very massive oil tanker called the Bennkah, which means Goliath.  The Russian tanker is a ship to end all ships, the largest one ever built.  The Bennkah will hold so much oil that it’s predicted to influence the price of oil around the world.  But early into its voyage on the Bering Sea a fire erupts onboard and Captain Borodin is forced to call for help.

Aboard his salvage boat, Captain Sonny Wade hears the Mayday and rallies his crew to head out and save what they can.  Sonny is not the only one headed towards the ship.  He has some stiff competition from his old boss, the very ambitious Dan Sharpe, who owns the largest and most successful salvage company around.  Dan is also the one who fired Sonny after a disastrous incident that left his reputation and marriage in ruins.  The race is on to see which salvage team can reach the Bennkah first, but both teams are heading into danger.  For as the Bennkah begins to succumb to the fire, the tanker’s captain is the only person aware that there is much more at risk than the oil spilling into the sea.

The characters and storyline are a bit “cookie-cutter” here but if that sounds like a bad thing, it’s not!  I like to read these kinds of adventure thrillers as fluff, meaning that I fly through them without a care in the world and I don’t have to think too much.  That’s good right?  I think so or I wouldn’t continue to read them.  I am also rather fond of stories at sea.  I can’t think of anything more horrifying than being out there with nowhere to go but down!  Always a bit chilling!  Kudos to the authors for what struck me as exceptional descriptions throughout the book.  Clive Cussler and Lincoln & Child fans come to mind when recommending this book.

I want to thank the publisher (Oceanview Publishing) for providing me with the ARC through NetGalley for an honest review.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost


City of Miracles (The Divine Cities #3) by Robert Jackson Bennett

STOP right here!  If you haven’t read the first two books in Robert Jackson Bennett’s The Divine Cities series yet, add them to the top of your list!  You don’t know what you’re missing!  City of Miracles just won’t read the same without having read the City of Stairs and City of Blades.



Shara Komayd is a legend, one who has received a vast number of death threats.  As a former covert agent and then the Prime Minister, Shara battled gods and enemies, wreaking great changes in the world.  Shara cleaned house at Parliament before she herself was given the boot.  During her heyday, Shara had a lot of help from her friends!  One of the most memorable of those is Sigrud je Harkvaldsson, a great brute of a man (think Viking).  Shara rescued Sigrud from prison and he worked with her and protected her every step of the way.  Then there is General Mulaghesh who shined so brightly in those battles.  She is brilliant, damaged and IMHO, a great hero in her own right.  I love these characters and I’m invested!

In City of Blades, hell hath no fury like Sigrud je Harkvaldsson!  Still haunted by the death of a loved one and the revenge he took thereafter, Sigrud has lived in hiding now for 13 years.  He’s moved from job to job, keeping a low profile.  (Well…as low a profile as he can manage, you know…being Viking-like and all!)  Ever-faithful to his comrade-in-arms Shara Komayd, he knows that one day she will clear his name and summon him to her side once again.  Yet when he finally has news of Shara, it’s only to learn that she has been assassinated, and even though he is a wanted man, he knows it’s time to come out of hiding.  He must find out who killed Shara and take revenge.  He also finds himself thinking of her adopted daughter, Tatyana Komayd, wondering what will become of her.  He has only seen her once in her life but she’s the one thing he has left of his closest friend.

Vengeance is the name of the game when it comes to Sigrud but he is still so likeable.  His revenge always seems to be for all the right reasons and this man could star in his own action movie.  He also oozes a heart of gold for those he loves.  His uncanny lack of aging is a mystery to him and us.  During his investigations, Sigrud discovers the fact that Shara still harbored some secrets at the end of her life leaving him with more questions than answers.  Look out, he’s about to open a whole new can of worms about the Divine!

RJB chose to shift the focus to another character in each book which was a great tool and kept the series very interesting.  I’m not sure which he thought would turn out to be the most popular character but I know who mine is.  General Mulaghesh took the prize hands down in City of Blades.  This is a very well-rounded series, full of mystery, suspense, action and just plain good storytelling!

Robert Jackson Bennett has become one of my favorite authors with his amazing The Divine Cities series.  I am really curious to check out some of his earlier books and I highly recommend you read this series!

I want to thank the publisher (Crown Publishing) for providing me with the ARC through NetGalley for an honest review.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost


To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey


Look!  It’s another book by Eowyn Ivey!  OMG, yay!  I just could not wait for this book to come out.  Loved, loved, loved The Snow Child so much!

To the Bright Edge of the World unfolds through the eyes of Joshua Sloan.  As an exhibits curator at the Alpine Historical Museum in Alaska, he has been corresponding with Walter Forrester who has journals, letters and artifacts from his great-uncle Allen Forrester’s 1885 expedition across Alaska.  As Joshua reads through the materials Walter shares with him, a great story in the tradition of Lewis and Clark unfolds.

Lieutenant Allen Forrester is chosen by the U.S. government to lead a reconnaissance team into Alaska and travel up the Wolverine River.  His job is to map the territory, document the weather and record information about the native tribes.  In addition, they are to ascertain how a military force would gain access to the region if the necessity were to arise.  The last white men to attempt the Wolverine River territory were the Russians, who were killed by the Indians.  Forrester is deemed the perfect man for the job as he won a medal when he led his regiment in a conflict with the Apache Indians.

Forrester is a bit reluctant to accept the offer though.  He is newly married to Sophie and they are expecting their first child.  His wife Sophie also does not relish the prospect of being without her husband for a long period and having the baby arrive while he is gone.  Nevertheless, duty calls and Forrester does accept the mission.  Between his diary and letters to and from Sophie we learn of the hardships that Forrester and his party faced on the journey through Alaska.  They faced severe weather, harsh landscape, low food stores and encounters with the natives.  The mystical beliefs of the natives are woven throughout the tale but with Forrester being a no-nonsense sort of man, he doesn’t buy into their superstitious ways.  Meanwhile, at home Sophie is worried about her pregnancy and she also takes up an interesting new hobby. ALASKA-MAP

What comes to mind when reviewing this book is that history shows us over and over that men were always exploring other countries, and oftentimes looking to conquer them.  But why is it that these men always thought their way was the right way?  Throughout the world, men came along and forced themselves upon an already existing culture and immediately start trying to change the things that didn’t conform to their beliefs.  It’s been done time and time again.  The native cultures’ belief systems often offered up new and magical ways to look at the world.  Sadly enough, very little of that remains in modern times.

I was somewhat surprised at the subject matter of this book when compared to The Snow Child.  But when I think about it, it seems that Ivey is just giving us another glimpse of the home that she loves.  This book is set 35 years later and is yet another portrait of the beauty and wildness of Alaska.  While it’s not exactly the book I anticipated when I looked forward to Eowyn Ivey’s next book so eagerly, Ivey is such a magical writer and this is a very interesting foray into the early history of Alaska.  I love Ivey’s style of writing!  She manages to weave a tale that is based on a real-life military expedition and sprinkle magic touches in along the way!  It’s not often that you see such a mixture and this author manages to leave you with a lovely picture of the world she is writing about.   Read this book, it’s definitely worth your time!

I want to thank the publisher (Little, Brown and Company) for providing me with the ARC through NetGalley for an honest review.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

Surrender, New York by Caleb Carr


Dr. Trajan Jones spent many years working for the NYPD as a criminal psychologist.  Dr. Mike Li is an expert in trace evidence and worked closely with Jones on many of the same cases.  Both were known for their outspoken opinions against the use of forensics as key evidence in a case.  Their unpopular views eventually made it necessary for them to retreat from the city.  Now the two of them spend their days using their respective expertise to teach online university courses from the comforts of Trajan’s family farm in Surrender, NY.

When the local sheriff pays Jones a visit, he has an inkling that their peaceful days of teaching are about to run into a snag.  Sure enough, the sheriff wants to elicit his opinion on the local murder of a young girl.  Her murder is part of what they have pegged as a series of murders but their investigation has gone nowhere.  Having tangled with difficulties before, Jones and Li are willing to rock the boat to see what comes out from underneath it.  What surfaces is a not just a local murder but an ongoing national crisis, one that shows us just how much the country is unraveling around its edges.

I was excited to read this release by Caleb Carr as I enjoyed the Laszlo Kreizler books a lot.  My initial excitement waned right away as the book got off to a slow start.  The main problem I had was the author’s use of incessant run-on sentences.  I don’t remember this having been a problem in his other books.  Once I got past my issue with this, my perseverance paid off in the form of gripping characterizations and edgy suspense.  Turns out I was not about to put this book down!   I really liked the crime-solving anti-hero team Mr. Carr put together here with the two docs, a smart mouth kid and the docs’ students.  Each character had their unique set of problems making them more human.  Dr. Jones relationship with Marcianna the cheetah was a great addition to his character’s emotional depth.  And imagine my joy when I found out that Trajan Jones is also the world’s leading expert on Mr. Carr’s other great fictional character, Dr. Laszlo Kreizler!  IMHO, Trajan Jones is more complicated than Laszlo Kreisler, but isn’t that true of all of us in the modern world compared to a century ago?

I want to thank the publisher (Random House Publishing) for providing me with the ARC through NetGalley for an honest review.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost


Lady Cop Makes Trouble by Amy Stewart


It is 1915 in New Jersey and although Constance Kopp has been offered the job of a deputy working for Sheriff Heath, her position is not officially recognized by law due to the fact that she is a woman. That doesn’t deter Constance and she is determined to prove herself capable in a man’s world. But when a prisoner escapes on her watch, things don’t look good for her or Sheriff Heath. But have no fear; Constance will do her best to recapture the man even if it takes her all the way to New York City! The situations that Constance gets in are somewhat humorous and read like capers. Yet make no mistake, Constance is 100% dedicated to her job and she is as determined as they come.

Her sisters, Norma and Fleurette perfectly compliment her in her adventures. Norma has taken her hobby to the next level and started her own organization for carrier pigeons. The ever-fashionable, young Fleurette dreams of being on the stage and a local music and dance program leads her to a job making costumes.

There is a lot to appreciate here. The main characters and many others are based on real-life historical figures and actual newspaper headlines of the era. The books are historically accurate to their time and we get a true glimpse of what is must have been like for the real Constance to prove herself at a time when women just didn’t work in law enforcement.

Although I wasn’t as tickled as I was with Girl Waits with Gun, the first book of the series, there is still a certain charm to the way Amy Stewart tells her story and I do look forward to reading the further adventures of Ms. Kopp!

I want to thank the publisher (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) for providing me with the ARC through the Goodreads Giveaways program for an honest review. 

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

When I’m Gone by Emily Bleeker


Book Blurb:

Dear Luke,

First let me say—I love you… I didn’t want to leave you…

Luke Richardson has returned home after burying Natalie, his beloved wife of sixteen years, ready to face the hard job of raising their three children alone. But there’s something he’s not prepared for—a blue envelope with his name scrawled across the front in Natalie’s handwriting, waiting for him on the floor of their suburban Michigan home.

The letter inside, written on the first day of Natalie’s cancer treatment a year ago, turns out to be the first of many. Luke is convinced they’re genuine, but who is delivering them? As his obsession with the letters grows, Luke uncovers long-buried secrets that make him question everything he knew about his wife and their family. But the revelations also point the way toward a future where love goes on—in written words, in memories, and in the promises it’s never too late to keep.

I think that the Book Blurb describes this book well enough and I will leave it at that.  It’s a sentimental journey through one man’s grief and getting to know his wife in the ways he didn’t know her!  Not really my cup of tea but I did read it quickly and like Luke I wanted to know the mysteries about his wife that he didn’t know.  The problem is that the end didn’t really offer up any great surprises.  I found it a bit predictable.  All-in-all, just an okay read for me.  For those who are a bit more into the touchy-feely type books, you may appreciate it more.

I won this book through a blog contest that was hosted by A Bookaholic Swede.  Check out her blog, you’ll love it!

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

The Shadow Throne by Django Wexler


As her father, King Farus Orboan VIII lies dying, Princess Raesinia Orboan is the next in line to inherit the throne of Vordan.  But Raesinia knows that she can only reign successfully if she can oust the Minister of Information, Duke Orlanko.

The Duke is known as the most dangerous man in all of Vordan.  Underneath his lair lies the Cobweb, a place where the Duke imprisons and tortures those who are a threat.  Outside the walls of the Cobweb, Orlanko employs the Concordat, special agents who do his dirty work for him.  The Duke also possesses a special secret, one which will allow him to manipulate Princess Raesinia once she is in place on the throne, making him the king in all but name.

But Princess Raesinia has her own hidden plans.  By day she plays a delicate, empty-headed princess; by night she is Raesinia Smith, one of a small circle working behind the scenes to free Vordan of Orlanko’s influence.  Raesinia’s group is slowly gaining influence on the people and when a charismatic young man named Danton is persuaded to join them, they believe that the time has come to put a bigger plan in motion.

Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich was sent to Khandar to suppress the rebellion.  Fresh off the heels of that battle, Vhalnich is summoned back to Vordan and appointed the Minister of Justice.  Vhalnich is accompanied by Captain Marcus d’Ivoire and Lieutenant Winter Ihernglass.  Vhalnich and company are the characters we know from The Thousand Names, book 1 in the series.  While Vhalnich remains an enigma to those serving him (and those reading about him), we continue to follow the paths of Marcus and Winter closely.  Marcus is returning to his home for the first time in 19 years and he is haunted by loss and betrayal.  Winter is trying to come to terms with all of the recent changes in her life and when she takes on a new assignment her past also resurfaces.

New and old characters alike keep this a riveting read from the very beginning and it’s full of political intrigue.  I settled into this book and got lost in another world, loving this series!

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

The Mermaid’s Tale by D.G. Valdron


Okay, first of all who the heck is D.G. Valdron?!

About the Author

Den Valdron, is a reclusive writer, originally from New Brunswick, currently living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Over the years, he has published in print and online a variety of short stories of speculative fiction, and articles on obscure pop culture topics. Like many writers, his previous occupations have included mechanic, carpenter, schoolteacher, journalist and ditch-digger. He is currently an aboriginal rights lawyer. He loves B-movies and tries to be nice to people. The Mermaid’s Tale is his first published novel.

I know we usually see the “About the Author” bit at the end of a book and/or review but I wanted to put it first in my review today.  Why?  Because I want to hear more from this author soon!

D.G. Valdron’s The Mermaid’s Tale feels like a new and fresh experience in the fantasy genre.  It features all the species that fantasy lovers are used to and some we don’t get to see often; vampires, orcs, giants, trolls, hobgoblins, goblins, dwarves, selkies, mermaids…  But these species are not cut from the same cloth we are used to and this time we are reading it from the POV of a female “arukh.”  How frickin’ fantastic is that?!

What is an “arukh” you ask?  Well, it’s another word for orc, defined here as a mixed breed, a cross between a vampire and a goblin, and these arukh do not have names.  Arukh is what they are!  The different species fall into levels in society and the arukh are at the bottom of the totem pole, known as soulless abominations.  The arukh life is one of brutality, often at its own hands.  They are a very violent species, full of anger and hatred at all things, which can come in very useful.  The dominant species see them as tools for the dirty work.  After all, they aren’t afraid of anything, they are mad, bad and dangerous to be around.

The female arukh in question has been summoned to the waterside where the mermaids reside.  One of the mermaids has been butchered in a brutal fashion and this particular arukh is known for her smarts in these matters.  As the arukh works to unravel this murder mystery, we follow along with her and learn more about this crazy world of hers.

Make no mistake; The Mermaid’s Tale does contain violence and graphic sexual situations.   This is a dark world, one of danger on all sides, teetering on the brink of a war between the species.  It’s also balanced with some hilarious banter with mermaids regarding sex and general playfulness.  The arukh’s interactions are captivating and her journey of self-discovery makes this one of the best books I’ve read this year.  So yes, I am definitely looking forward to reading more from this author!

I want to thank the publisher (Five Rivers Publishing) for providing me with the ARC through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program for an honest review.

 small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica


When Quinn Collins set out to live on her own, she answered an ad for a roommate and moved in with Esther Vaughan never dreaming that Esther would turn out to become her best friend.  Then one morning she awakes to the sound of Esther’s alarm going off but Esther’s not in her room and her bedroom window is wide open to the freezing cold Chicago air.  Surely she didn’t climb down the fire escape in the middle of the night!  Quinn waits in vain for Esther to return but it doesn’t happen.  It seems that Esther has disappeared!  Was she kidnapped?  Did she run away from something?  Quinn idolizes Esther and she can’t imagine what has happened to her.  She enlists the help of her friend Ben from work and tries to figure out where Esther is.  But the more Quinn tries to puzzle through what happened to Esther, the more she realizes how little she really knows about her friend.  She’s beginning to think that Esther is not the saint that she always imagined.

Meanwhile, in a small town near Lake Michigan, a young man named Alex Gallo has given up his dream of college to take care of his father who became a good-for-nothing drunkard when his mother left.  He spends his hopeless days working as a dishwasher in the Priddy’s café.  One day a new customer comes in and she’s a young woman he has never seen around town before.  Alex gives the woman the name “Pearl” and he finds her to be quite an intriguing mystery.  He sets his sights on finding out more about her.  But Alex’s boredom and loneliness may be leading him down a dangerous road.

Don’t You Cry is full of suspense and the details of each storyline will keep the reader guessing right up until the end.  Piece by piece the puzzle falls into place until the big reveal.  This is one of those where you think you have it all figured out but you never quite get there.  A fast-paced and compelling read!

I want to thank the publisher (Harlequin- US & Canada) for providing me with the ARC through NetGalley for an honest review.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

Old Records Never Die: One Mans Quest for His Vinyl and His Past by Eric Spitznagel


Eric Spitznagel got it into his head one day that life just wouldn’t be the same unless he could recover his lost record collection.  We’re not talking about just any old piece of vinyl; he wanted the actual record that was in HIS collection, the ones he shared with friends, the ones he sold, the ones he stashed his weed in.  His quest takes him on a journey through many a used record store, basement sale and out-of-town record expo.  But this isn’t just a physical journey, it’s also a spiritual one, as Eric recalls the magical moments of the past that reside in his soul and are connected to each piece of music he hunts for.

Wow, Eric….I SO GET THAT!  Records had character…fingerprints, warps, scratches, writing on the covers!  I too am a vinyl junkie, but unlike Eric, I have never parted with my vinyl.  Having worked in a record store when I was younger, I have a LOT of vinyl.  It would be like taking a piece of my soul to get rid of certain records.

Does anyone remember that “if you could only bring one album to a deserted island, what would it be?”  Eric certainly does!  I mean come on; this was a standard question in the days of vinyl.  In today’s electronic age only those of us who lived through the vinyl years know how badly we miss it.  What a world of difference it felt like sitting and listening to music while holding the sleeve in your hand and examining it.  It’s about so much more than the music.  It’s about the people you listened with, the thoughts going through your head, what you were doing at that precise moment, the arguments with friends over this song or that song, this musician or that musician…  So many memories are wrapped up in that one piece of vinyl, moments in time as vivid today as they were those many years ago.  Something about vinyl could be so comforting, creating a world of illusion all its own!  I just have no idea how you can get that same vibe listening to downloaded music.

So I guess you could say I identified with this book, LOL!  All vinyl junkies will!  For the readers who weren’t around in the vinyl days, just read it to understand.  The great foreword by Jeff Tweedy will help you on that score too!       

I want to thank the publisher (Penguin Group PLUME) for providing me with the ARC through NetGalley for an honest review.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost


Empire of Ivory (Temeraire #4) by Naomi Novik


Finally, Laurence & Temeraire and company have arrived home after more than a year away.  Also in tow are the feral dragons, Tharkay, the rescued Huguenots and the baby dragon, Iskierka.  The home front has markedly changed though and not for the good.  Temeraire’s fellow dragons that were left behind in England have been hit by an epidemic, some kind of dragon consumption.  The consumption has killed some and left others badly weakened, one of which is Maximus, who will not last much longer without a cure.  Also of consequence is the fact that England is desperately trying to keep Bonaparte from getting wind of the dragons’ sickness.  Laurence is also quite interested to see that his father’s political friends are beginning the parliamentary campaign to abolish slavery.  Somewhat to his consternation, Laurence also finds that his foreign adoption has been a bit embellished and he is somewhat of a celebrity.

CONTAINS SPOILERS —————————————————————————————————->

The side issues in Black Powder War have now been brought to the forefront.  Temeraire is still in a huff that the dragons in England are not treated with the same reverence as the dragons in China.  He despairs of a return to the boredom of patrolling the English Channel, especially in the company of the feral dragons that Tharkay recruited, as they have been behaving badly. They desperately need Tharkay’s help in settling the feral dragons into the Corps, but with the other dragons sick they also need him to return to Turkestan and bring more feral dragons to Her Majesty’s service.  Granby has his hands full with Iskierka, the baby dragon, who is quite a little hothead and hard to keep a handle on!  Temeraire doesn’t need to worry about boredom for very long though.  Laurence and Temeraire are sent to Capetown to seek a cure for the dragon sickness.  Once in Africa, they run afoul of a tribal king and things will only get worse from there.  They also bear up-close witness to the harrowing plight of the indigenous people as they are kidnapped by white men and forced into slavery.

<———————————————————————————————————-END OF SPOILERS

I still think this is a great series for kids.  They will get to explore the world through the eyes of dragons and learn some history as they read along.  Each book is an adventure.  That being said, there are spots where I feel this series needs to be revved up a notch.  I feel a little as if I’m on repeat when reviewing these books.  The author covers a lot of territory so why does it seem like such slow going when I’m reading?  The series has become very formulaic and I still find that I am not as big of fan of Novik as most fantasy readers.  This series is good but for me it’s just not great.  I must admit that for a small amount of time I had even confused Jane Roland with Catherine Harcourt, so I may have drifted off a bit somewhere along the line.  It seems that Roland has become an admiral and Harcourt has been embroiled in a romantic relationship!  Luckily, I do like both Will and Temeraire and I was charmed by the first book so I still want to see where this is going.  The saving grace in these books is the utter charm of Temeraire which is why the series is named for him I guess!  That’s good because I still have five books left to review.  I am also hearing rumors that Peter Jackson holds the film rights and I like the idea that with the publication of the 9th book this series does come to an end.  Some series just go on too long and I just don’t know if Novik can recapture that feeling of newness the premise had in the first book.  I am crossing my fingers that I can be won over more completely.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

Beyond the Veil by Jessica Majzner


In the village of Valwood there is a centuries-old feud between the humans and the immortals that border their lands.  The Elders rule the village and they now have a tentative truce with the werewolves.  Vampires and werewolves have been banished from the village.  There is a wall dividing their territory from that of the werewolves and it is known that any crossing of boundaries will result in the forfeit of lives.

17 year-old Natalya is the daughter of one of the Elders in Valwood.  She is a vampire huntress, even more powerful than her mother, who was killed by the most-feared vampire around, Arkadith.  When Natalya goes into the woods with her mentor Anesa, they are led into a trap and Anesa is killed by Arkadith too.  Natalya vows revenge against Arkadith for all he has done and she refuses to let anything stop her.

Natalya travels deep into the forest on the trail of Arkadith.  The trail she follows takes her into the Ruins and the forbidden territory of Claw Haven.  This is where she will run into the first werewolves she has ever seen.  It is here that Natalya meets Voren, a werewolf who seems to be the complete opposite of everything she has been taught.  Voren opens Natalya’s eyes to the rich culture and beliefs of the werewolves and how some of them see their existence as cursed.  They have lived as enemies of the vampires too and they tell Natalya of how the curse may be lifted if Arkadith is defeated.  Natalya has learned more of the truth of the werewolves than any human before her.  She wants to seek an end to the war between humans and immortals.  But Arkadith has a different ending in mind and when Natalya doesn’t return home the humans seek vengeance on the werewolves.

This is a tale of tragedy to be told in the dark of night.  There is nothing pretty about this story, these werewolves and vampires are to be feared.  I did particularly like the werewolves’ storyline and felt great empathy for them.  But if you’re expecting the usual supernatural YA romance story, you will be disappointed.  If you would like a more realistic look at what is probable in a world where humans live side-by-side with immortals, this will definitely not disappoint.  I could easily see this as a graphic novel too!  Beyond the Veil is very unpredictable and a fresh take on the usual.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

Daddy Dearest by Paul Southern


My daughter has always had a thing about lifts.

Every time she walks in, I imagine it’s the last time I’ll see her.

That leaves a gap of thirty seconds. You’d be surprised what can happen in that time. I was.

Daddy Dearest is written a bit differently than most books you read.  It is told from the first-person perspective of a father who remains unnamed.  Right at the beginning we learn that his worst fear has come true.  While enjoying his custodial visit one weekend, his beautiful little girl got into the elevator and the doors closed before he made it in.  When daddy gets to the bottom floor, his daughter is nowhere to be found.  As the police investigation into his little girl’s disappearance unfolds, daddy goes back in time to tell us more, more about himself, more about his daughter, more about his distinctive view on life.

Let me just say that right from the start of this book I found the father unlikeable.  He’s a balding, middle-aged, anti-social actor who complains about his neighbors’ noise, makes comments about race, gays, bohemians, the underclass…and yet, he proclaims himself to be PC!  He just seems to hate the outside world in general and comes off as a real creepazoid.  Don’t get me wrong, I think that this is definitely what the author wants you to feel.  He paints a picture of a very troubled man with some real problems who seems to have only one redeeming quality.  The one thing this daddy dotes on in life is his little girl.  She is his treasure and life is just better when she’s around.  Even his ex-wife thinks he’s a wonderful father and that counts because he really cares about what other people think.  His very existence has been validated since becoming a father.

The book is well-written and as a side note, there were quite a few words here that had never made it into my vocabulary which I found interesting.  That’s quite uncommon but I love looking up new words!  If you are looking at the cover and the title of this book thinking it’s a bit spooky, you’re not wrong there.  Daddy Dearest is a dark and deeply disturbing psychological thriller.  One of those books that makes your skin crawl.  Here it’s because the author takes an unflinching look at a very flawed human being, and he’s manipulating the reader as he goes about it.  I feel like you will either love it or hate it.  As for me, I was somewhere in the middle, but I did keep turning the pages to find out what really happened.  This is where I think the author shows some real talent because I have to say it went in a direction I was so not expecting.  But then I really wondered…why didn’t I expect that?  As I said, manipulation, people!  So I will leave you to decide for yourself.  Check it out!

I want to thank the author Paul Southern for providing me with a copy of this book through the BookLikes Giveaways program for an honest review.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

Mercy (The Guardians #1) by Wendy Saunders


Mercy is a small town in Massachusetts that was founded by the survivors of the Salem witch trials.  Olivia West’s family is the oldest family in town, but Olivia hasn’t been to Mercy in 20 years.  She became a ward of the foster system at a young age.  Now she is all grown up and has become a historian and author.  Her area of expertise is centered on the witch trials of America and Europe along with the history of witchcraft.  When Olivia’s Aunt wills her the family home known as The Stick House, Olivia is forced to return to Mercy.  Here she will have to confront her past, one that’s full of murder and mystery.  The trauma of her mother’s and grandmother’s murders, along with her father’s subsequent incarceration still haunts her.  Olivia only has fragmented memories of what took place back then.  She remembers her grandmother dead on the floor in a pool of blood and her father sinking a knife into her mother’s chest, and then visions of an inferno.

Mercy is a town full of dark secrets and Olivia gets pulled further and further into its mysteries.  All of those mysteries seem to center around her family.  When a new string of murders start happening, Olivia learns that her mother and her grandmother were not the only victims 20 years ago.  There were a string of murders that led up to those and all of them stopped after her father went to prison.  Now these recent murders are very similar and the police suspect her father or someone working with him.  They may even suspect it’s her.

Theodore Beckett is from Salem, Massachusetts in the year 1695.  He has been having dreams of Olivia since he was a child but he has no idea who she is.  Theodore and his brother Logan are witch finders working with a man named Nathaniel Boothe but Theodore feels that Nathaniel is not to be trusted.  When Boothe and Logan bring Bridget and Hester West to be held prisoner in his family’s barn, Theodore is urged to protect them.  What Theodore doesn’t realize is how these sisters and his dreams are connected.

With its switching POVs and captivating twists and turns, Mercy is anything but ordinary.  This is a promising first book in a five book series and I was hooked.  It’s full of mystery, magic, folklore, time travel and romance.  I am definitely moving on to book two and after you read this one, so should you!

I want to thank authoramp.com for providing me with a copy of this book for an honest review. 

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

The Angels Die by Yasmina Khadra


I have long been a fan of Yasmina Khadra, whose books usually give one a realistic look at Arab culture and family life, alongside the cultural oppression and fundamental extremism that has saturated their daily lives.  This book takes us back a bit further than others I have read.

The Angels Die is set in 1920s and 1930s Algeria during a time when French colonials ruled over the Arab nation and the native population has been decimated by a century of bloody conquest and rampant disease.  Those born in Algeria are treated as if they are foreigners in their own land.  The French live in luxury while the Algerians live in squalor.

Twenty-seven year old Turambo grew up in a shanty town in Oran.   Turambo tells us of his life growing up in Oran where he constantly rages at the unfairness of life.  But Turambo’s willful spirit doesn’t allow him to give up his dream of a better future.  At home, he is embarrassed by and resentful of his father, while he longs for an unspoken but promising love with his cousin Nora.  When Turambo finds an unlikely friend in a French boy, Gino, who cares for a sick mother, he begins to take refuge from his life in Gino’s apartment.  As Turambo grows from a boy to a man, he is sure that his chance to become a boxer is his way out of the harsh life he was brought up in.  He will make a success of himself, win the girl he loves and show the oppressors that Algerians are a proud and indomitable people.  But Turambo’s rage at all the inequities of the world could very well cause him to be his own worst enemy.

Maybe you can tell that this book caused me to take a little look at the history of Algeria.  Khadra continues to educate me each time I read one of his books.  The history of Algeria is both tragedy and triumph at different times as is so much of the world.  IMHO, we need to continue translating all authors of this caliber.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

The Penitent Damned (The Shadow Campaigns #0.5) by Django Wexler


Book Blurb:

Alex is a master thief, with dark magic to give her an edge. When she goes up against Duke Orlanko’s Concordat secret police, though, she may have taken on more than she bargained for…

This is a prequel short story to The Thousand Names. It was released for free on io9 — and is also available on the Kindle Store.

My review:

Book 0.5 of The Shadow Campaigns series

I wish I’d read this one first as it explains more about Duke Orlanko and the Black Priests.  The review just prior to this is for Book 1 and I believe I mentioned that I felt kind of lost in the beginning.  If you haven’t started the series yet, start with this.

The main character of this short story is Alex and she will be brought back in to the series at a later date.

I love these little side snippets that short stories give us in a series and this one is particularly good.  If you haven’t read any Django Wexler yet, this is a great taste for what’s to come!

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

The Thousand Names (The Shadow Campaigns #1) by Django Wexler


Book 1 of The Shadow Campaigns series

I have to admit, in the beginning of this book, I wasn’t too keen on it and I was a bit baffled.   It seemed like we were thrown in to a world with a lot of long, confusing names and it was a bit hard to keep straight the who, what, where and when. That does happen in some fantasy and if you feel that way when you start, no worries, you can get past it and boy is the gettin’ good!

The intro starts out from the POV of Ashe-Katarion’s new rulers in Khandarai, the capital of Ashe-Katarion.  Jaffa-dan-Iln, the Grand Justice is meeting with Yatchik-dan-Rahksa, the priest of the Seraphic Council, who has been appointed to oversee the cleansing of foreign taint from the land.  Prince Exopter, the Chosen of Heaven, Supreme Ruler of Khandar and the Two Desols, has fled the Palace with all of his valuables, after years of tyranny.  Most of the population was not sorry to see him go.

Switching POVs, we join the regiments of Vordanai’s Old Colonials, who have been sent to the outskirts of the empire to fight the Khandar army, in a quest to restore Vordanai’s rightful ruler.  No one would volunteer for this dangerous post in enemy territory.  In a fight that seems already lost, they will need to face down the deadly desert tribes.  And somewhere amid the sands, they are being hunted by Malik-dan-Belial, the Steel Ghost.  A man in all black robes with a brushed steel mask, the Steel Ghost is the chieftain of the Desoltai desert raiding tribes and the hero of a hundred stories.  He was famous long before the Redemption and has been a thorn in the side of the Vordanai for years.  It is said that he has traded his soul to a demon for the ability to see the future.  In the Great Desol, armies are devoured, whether it is by raiders or from hunger and thirst, and the Old Colonials will face all of the terrors the desert has to offer.

The eccentric, beguiling and fearless leader of the Old Colonials is Count Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich Mieran.  Janus is always sure of himself and he doesn’t take the easy way out of things.  But what were his motives when he campaigned for this post?  He is a military genius, but is he a good or bad guy?  Janus remains somewhat of a mystery all the way to the end where are left wondering about his true motives.

Senior Captain Marcus d’Ivoire has volunteered to follow his friend Adrecht to this post.  That’s right, he volunteered.  He lost his entire family to a fire while at the academy and he no longer cares about advancing his career.  Marcus and his fellow captains, Adrecht, Mor and Val have been together awhile and have each other’s back no matter what their irritations with one another.  Marcus is an officer through and through, very honorable and loyal to a fault, which is why, although he is skeptical, he follows Janus’s orders.

Winter Ihernglass has escaped from Mrs. Wilmore’s Prison for Young Ladies and is now hiding out disguised as a male Ranker in the Old Colonials.  She is well read and good with languages.  In the beginning she’s laying low and being teased by the fellow soldiers of her regiment because she doesn’t fit in.  But when Janus struggles to come up with enough sergeants from the green recruits, she is promoted.  Circumstance brings her to the forefront where she gets to show us how gutsy she is.

This book is chock full of intriguing characters.  I was quite taken in by all of main characters and the supporting characters as well.  Among some of those there is Jennifer Alhundt, the Ministry of Information liaison, working for His Grace, Duke Orlanko in the Concordat secret police.  She has been sent out to the desert to keep an eye (or spy) on Janus.  Although everyone is leery of her, Marcus begins to spend a lot of time with her.  There is also Feor, a young woman who has been rescued by Winter.  Feor is a priestess of the old ways, a naathem.  She belongs to an order charged with being guardians to the religious artifacts known as The Thousand Names.  What she is doing in the middle of the Desol is a question Winter would like to know the answer to.  Some other mentionable characters are Bobby and Folsom, whom I hope to see a lot more in future books.

The Thousand Names starts us on an epic journey through a world that is everything a great fantasy is made of, religion, politics, battles, magic and otherworldly enemies.  Amid 19th century muskets and gunpowder, we enter what is known as the Flintlock Fantasy world.  Not my first, but definitely my favorite so far.  The focus lies strongly on battle tactics and maneuvers and at first I was skeptical about whether I would like it.  I have to say I usually zone a little during some battle scenes but not this time.  The battles were so well-written and in the off time I became immersed in the camp politics.  With light references to magic throughout, what we don’t fully realize until the end is that this world is full of powerful magic and that may be the true enemy.   Fantastically written and richly layered, this book slowly sucked me in a little at a time.  The explosive and deadly ending with a shocking betrayal will leave you wanting to proceed to the next book quickly.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

The Night Stalker by Robert Bryndza


The Night Stalker is the Book 2 in Robert Bryndza’s Detective Erika Foster series.

A shadowy figure creeps upon a house in London seeking retribution against the man within.  We bear witness to Dr. Gregory Munro’s killer in action.  Four days later his mother enters the house and find’s her son’s dead body with a plastic bag over his head.

Detective Erika Foster is called to the murder scene, a scene that appears to be a sex crime.  When another just like it follows, indications are that there is a cold-blooded serial killer on the loose and Erika and her team must figure out what these murders have in common.

Erika is a tough, uncompromising detective who will get the killer at any cost and her determined doggedness doesn’t always go over well with her boss or her peers.  She is once again put on notice about not doing thing’s the department’s way.  Despite rubbing people the wrong way, she will continue to lay both her job and her life on the line to catch the killer.

When we first met Erika in the first book, she was freshly grieving over the death of her husband Mark and just returning to work.  Erika’s grief for Mark is still very present and she agonizes over it in more detail, all the while still blaming herself.  This also enables us to get more of a glimpse into her past and how Mark’s killing went down.

Robert Bryndza is such a good writer and he is definitely making a name for himself with this series.  The twists and turns don’t let up and keep you guessing to the end.  He has also done some nice work on the character development here.  In the end the characters are what makes or breaks a series.  We learn a bit more about Crane, Moss, Peterson, Marsh, Stark, and Isaac Strong.  Erika is getting to know each of them and so are we.  She is beginning to foster friendship, loyalty, respect, and of course some antagonism.  Each of the afore-mentioned supporting characters is sketched in further and one of them even becomes a prime suspect in the killings.

I want to thank the publisher (Bookouture) for providing me with the ARC through NetGalley for an honest review. 

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

The Velvet Hours by Alyson Richman


It’s 1938 in Paris and Solange Beaugiron is a 19 year old woman living with her father.  She is an aspiring writer looking for inspiration, when her rather reserved father unexpectedly introduces her to his estranged mother, Marthe de Florian.  The two women begin to spend time together each day as Marthe relives her past for Solange, with Solange taking notes.  The story alternates between Marthe’s past during France’s Belle Époque era and Solange’s present as World War II approaches its borders.

Marthe tells Solange of the squalor of her poor childhood in Montmartre circa 1888 where she saw her young sister die.  As the days go by, Marthe’s story continues to unfold and she grows into a young woman who finds herself unwed, pregnant and working her fingers to the bone as a seamstress.  Feeling she must give her child a better life, Marthe bore her son but gave him up for adoption, requesting that he be told about her when he reached 18 years of age.  During an era where France became a hotbed for the arts, Marthe then chose to remake her life in the theater.  She eventually becomes a courtesan to Charles, a wealthy married man who sets her up in an elegant apartment and showers her with everything she could need or want.  She tells her granddaughter of her taste in the exotic arts and how her patron provided money to purchase all of the treasures she has coveted through the years, including a lovely pearl necklace and a commissioned painting of her by the Italian artist Giovanni Boldini.

Marthe’s love for fine things is apparent and as her story unfolds it’s as if she is painting a work of art on a new canvas, with no detail gone untouched.  It’s truly the story of another time and place and Solange is fascinated by Marthe’s story.  Solange also realizes that Marthe has become somewhat reclusive and while reliving her past, she is oblivious to the happenings of the present day.  When Solange leaves her grandmother’s side each night she must deal with a harsh realities of her present-day world, where the Germans are preparing to invade France.  Solange is part Jewish and she and her friends know it will become necessary to flee Paris.  She’s not sure what her future holds but one thing is certain, she is fascinated by the life of her grandmother and someday she will publish all of her writings.


Anyone who appreciates art, beauty and fashion is apt to like this lavish and sensual work of historical fiction as Marthe de Florian transports her granddaughter back to a magical place and time in her life.  It’s also serious fodder for someone who loves vintage discoveries and imagining the story behind them.  The book is actually based on a true account of an abandoned apartment discovered in Paris after lying untouched for over 70 years.  The original painting by Boldini is divine and the apartment is full of antiquities that boggle the mind.  I am absolutely amazed at this find in a city that was ravaged by war.  So many items here peak my curiosity.  You will definitely want to check out the article about this apartment Inside the Paris apartment… and then you should read this lovely book.  Taking inspiration from the apartment, Alyson Richman has woven a beautiful and intriguing glimpse into what might-have-been.

I want to thank the publisher (Berkley Publishing Group) for providing me with the ARC through the Goodreads Giveaways program for an honest review. 

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost


Perilous Judgement by Dennis Ricci

28153207Perilous Judgment is a legal thriller that takes us to the forefront of the ongoing issue of immigration.

Edward Lamport is a man of great conviction and as a federal judge he exercises those convictions in his rulings.  His most current case is of one of great controversy.  Voters in his home state of California have voted to pass Proposition 68 concerning illegal immigration and now Edward has to rule on whether the proposition is constitutional.  With his fellow judges and political contacts pressuring him, he is carefully weighing his decision.

Edward is also happily married to Jacqui.  Jacqui works for the California school system and with pressure from her coworkers and peers she is becoming more and more anxious herself to find out what her husband’s ruling will be.  Edward and Jacqui both know the danger they may face if he makes the “wrong” decision.

Now a woman Edward was once in love with resurfaces and begs for his help.  Alana tells Edward of the son he never knew about, who is now a grown young man.  This son, Carlos was born and raised in Mexico and works for Bancomex.  In the course of his work he has stumbled on dangerous information involving his employers and his life is in jeopardy.  Alana wants Edward to use his political connections to help get Carlos out of Mexico and into the safety of the U.S.

Edward is going to have to manage a very complex balancing act here.  How will he manage to be true to the integrity his job demands while trying to get his illegitimate son asylum in the U.S.?  Why are all his political connections stonewalling him?  And how is he going to face his wife with the secrets of his past?  Will the woman he was forced to leave behind 25 years ago stir old feelings anew?  Will he be able to save his son’s life and will that son accept a father he has never known?

This is a book where we are reminded that the big issues that the talking heads on TV argue about incessantly are not as black and white as they are made out to be.  No matter which way the decision goes there are real people behind the scenes who will be affected.  We would like to think that the judges ruling on these issues are personally detached but what if one of them weren’t.  What if something like this happened to them?  Now that could be a far reach, but hey, in today’s world maybe not.  It is a most unfortunate fact that political corruption, blackmail, drug running and money laundering are all alive and well.

But in this book we also see a man torn by his convictions and struggling to make the right decisions, none of which are easy.  With all of his options growing slim, Edward will turn to his strong Christian faith and values for guidance.   With all of the obstacles we face in this world, this is a strong reminder that in the end, it’s up to us how we handle our beliefs and act on them.

I want to thank the publisher (Waterfall Press) for providing me with the ARC through the Goodreads Giveaways program for an honest review.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost


Al Capone: His Life, Legacy, and Legend by Deirdre Bair


Al Capone: His Life, Legacy, and Legend as written by Deirdre Bair tells us of an Al Capone who has not previously been revealed to the world.  The author concentrates more on the private man than the public figure, utilizing personal testimony and archives from family members, and she gives us a wider portrait of the man who became a criminal legend during the Roaring Twenties.  In fact, Al Capone, aka Public Enemy No. 1, was arguably the most notorious gangster in history and in 2014 Smithsonian magazine named him one of the hundred most influential Americans in the entire history of the country.

Taking us back to a time before Al’s heyday, we learn how Al Capone’s parents emigrated from Naples to America in the 1890s where his father established himself as a barber in Brooklyn, NY.  Alphonse was their first child born in the New World on January 17. 1899.  He had 6 brothers and a sister.  Al and his siblings were given more opportunity then their parents and they were encouraged to use those opportunities to gain an education and become hard-working, honest citizens.  All to no avail, as Al and his brothers all left school very early on and turned to crime.  Al always thought of himself as an American, rather than an Italian.  He was a quick learner and earned good grades during the time he attended school, but he also had a fiery temper and was quite big for his age.  By the age of 9 he was already known in the neighborhood for the many fights he won and he became part of a group of Italian boys that thought of themselves as a gang and called themselves the South Brooklyn Rippers.  These boys were led by Frank Nitto, who later became the infamous Frank Nitti, Al Capone’s enforcer.

Later on, Al became part of a gang who called themselves the Forty Thieves Juniors and this brought him to the attention of crime boss, Johnny Torrio.  This was the point upon which Al’s future would take a turn toward the legend he became.  During those same years, Al met a pretty Irish girl named Mary Josephine Coughlin who was always called Mae.  Al and Mae’s son, Albert Francis Capone, who was always called Sonny, was born in December of 1918 and his parents were subsequently married.  His mother-in-law thought of Al as a charming and attentive husband and father and a man who always took care of his family financially.  Al treated Mae like an angel and he wanted to give her and his son the best.  Working for Johnny Torrio and Frankie Yale would help Al provide for them and he was sent to work for the Chicago Outfit.

Al proceeded to become one of the most powerful figures in the world of crime so it has become difficult to tell which stories of Al’s life were facts and which were exaggerated to the point that they became myths.  The author makes great efforts to separate the two.  What is not in doubt is Al’s careful and strategic climb to the top of Chicago’s gangland where he ran one of the most successful criminal operations that there has ever been.  An interesting fact from the book is that there was an Economics case study performed at the Harvard Business School showing how Al ran the Outfit as if it were a major corporation. The HBS study examined the years 1920– 33, when Al controlled literally hundreds of “brothels, speakeasies, and roadhouses, which served as venues for the gang and administered gambling, prostitution, and illegal alcohol sales.”  The conclusion of the Harvard case study was that there were roughly 700 gang-related deaths from 1920 to 1930, with Al Capone either “directly or indirectly responsible for over 200.”  Boy, Al sure didn’t let anything get in the way of bringing home the bacon!

There is no doubt that Al was known as a very generous person and there are many stories of true kindness to others on his part.  He loved his wife and son and was not only protective of them but very protective of his other family members as well.  His wife Mae did not get along with Al’s siblings but she did manage to suppress most of this, and Al was always given respect by both parties so the family coexisted peacefully.  Al’s word was law in the family however Mae did manage to keep their sickly son, Sonny hidden from the public eye for his own protection.  Al was also very generous with his money and was known to give money to those in need, which made him well-liked in a lot of circles.  He had a family that he sheltered with and he was very generous to them as well.  But in the bigger picture, he angered a lot of people who mattered, and these people saw Al as an ill-mannered, illiterate and ruthless murderer.  He would take on airs to make himself seem more cultured, but in the end he would never actually be the man he envisioned himself to be.   None of this would stop the paparazzi from recording his every move.

Of course, some of this material was not new to a reader who knows anything about Al Capone.  The author does cover personal things such as Al’s syphilis, the scars on his face from a barroom brawl, which led to the nickname Scarface and what she finds to be most likely a myth, about his extravagant use of cocaine leading to a deviated septum.  She also covers infamous parts of Al’s murderous and cruel professional life such as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, the lengths he went to for his own protection and his eventual downfall for tax evasion which led to his imprisonment at Alcatraz.  There is a lot of material here, some new and interesting, some old and some rehashed to the point of boredom.

I want to thank the publisher (Doubleday Books) for providing me with the ARC through NetGalley for an honest review. 

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

Beneath the Skin (The Witchbreed Series #2) by R.L. Martinez


Expected publication: July 21st 2017

Lakewater Press

Editor:  Kate Foster

Paperback, eBook

Genre: Fantasy

One of my first reviews was In the Blood (The Witchbreed Series #1) by R.L. Martinez and it turned out to be one of my favorite reads of 2016 so I was very excited to be offered an ARC of the second book in the Witchbreed series, Beneath the Skin.

Oriabel Dominax is a witch and she has always used the magic she was born with to heal those around her, but now her magic has taken on a new and deadly form and she no longer trusts herself to use it.  With her life in danger, she has fled Corlaan, the only home she has ever known.  She travels in the company of her sister Ottilde and two strangers, Wilder Coomb and Artair och Mahan.  Separated from her husband, she longs to be reunited with him but she has no idea if he longs for the same.

Oriabel’s twin sister, Ottilde Dominax was once a knight but then she became a prisoner of her country.  She is a fierce survivor and driven to keep her sister safe at all costs, yet she too is learning to control a new and deadly side of herself.  Still on the run from the prison she escaped, Ottilde finds herself relying on the one man she shouldn’t trust, the prison warden Wilder Coomb, to help keep her sister alive.

These two sisters are on the run and threatened from all sides.  They live in constant peril and how to trust and who to trust will affect them each in different ways.  Everyone has a motive and love and betrayal can often be tied together.

I love it when you pick up a book and feel like you’re coming home to characters you love to spend time with.  I hadn’t had enough of them at the end of book 1 and I still want more after book 2.  The author gives us a study in extremes on both good and evil with well-defined characters who can straddle both.  This book twists and turns and outright socks you in the end.  I was never certain where it would end up and that’s the way it should be.  My anticipation was richly rewarded with another installment that ranks as a fave and I cannot wait for R.L. Martinez to write more!

You can buy the books here: 

In the Blood

Beneath the Skin


About the Author:

I write mutant stories – you know the kind that are a little of this and a little of that – that have dark edges and corners. So, while I love putting romance in my tales, the lovers have to go through some serious sh*t to be together. And sometimes, even then, it doesn’t work out.

My favorite scenes to write are about death and destruction – gotta let the inner killer blow off steam SOMEHOW – followed by scenes with lots of witty banter. Comedy and death make my inner killer very happy. Yep, that’s right, instead of an “inner goddess” (bleh, by the way) I’ve got an inner killer and she has her eye on you.

And now the boring stuff: I live in Oklahoma with my husband, two small sons, two naughty puppies, and a mouse-killing cat. Now you know why I write FANTASY with lots of mayhem in it.

More here: robinlmartinez.com

I want to thank the publisher (Lakewater Press) for providing me with the ARC for an honest review.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

I Shot Bruce by Brett Busang


The life of an antique dealer doesn’t seem so bad does it?

No, not really…unless you could have been a star playing in one of the most famous rock and roll bands of all time.

Oh, when you put it that way….

Vijay Asunder will never understand how he could have been dissed by his friends from the Keysters.

It was exactly 11:47 when his band mates shattered him with the bad news.

It’s now 50 years later and Vijay still can’t forget and there is only one way he can think of to put things right.

In what appears to be this author’s first book, we get an in-depth look at a what-if scenario.  What if you had ALMOST been the drummer in The Beatles….er…I mean The Keysters?

I want to thank the publisher (Open Books) for providing me with the ARC through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program for an honest review.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill by Candice Millard

26827446Sir Winston Churchill was an accomplished, larger-than-life, somewhat pompous and unlikeable, yet oft-revered historical figure.  He was born a British nobleman, the son of Lord Randolph Churchill, a former Chancellor of the Exchequer and his wife, Jennie Jerome, an American socialite.  As such he was a direct descendant of John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough and his parents were personal friends of the Prince of Wales, Queen Victoria’s oldest son and heir.  For a member of Churchill’s high social class, the highly bold and unabashed ambition he had was a novelty, if not an outright scandal.  Every move Churchill made from early adulthood was in conquest of glory and the strong belief that he would someday be Britain’s Prime Minister.  Indeed, not only did Churchill serve two separate and very memorable terms as Britain’s Prime Minister, he has also been remembered through time as a brave soldier, a great journalist and a riveting orator.


Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill concentrates on Churchill at the age of 24.  He had already served in two wars and while working as a journalist he wheedled his way to the frontlines of south of Africa during the Second Boer War.  The Boers were Dutch-speaking settlers, mostly farmers, who had lived in southern Africa for centuries, but rose up to defend their land against annexation by the British in the 19th century.  The Boer Wars had turned out to be more of a challenge than the British expected.  Having lived, fought and learned alongside the fierce Shaka Zulu of the Zulu Nation, the Boers were more accomplished in military tactics than the British understood.  Churchill proves himself to be a man of courage while accompanying a scouting mission on an armored train that is ambushed, but he is subsequently captured by the Boers and interred as a POW.  Churchill, who was absolutely used to being master of his own fate, manages to escape from the prison and cross 300 miles on his own.  When he reaches safety, he wants only one thing, a commission, so that he can go back and wreak revenge on those who held him.  This, despite the fact that he knew the War Office had a rule barring correspondents from being soldiers and soldiers from being correspondents.


This was my first foray into any kind of bio on Churchill and it was a great place to start.  This particular glimpse into the history of Churchill definitely gives us a deep understanding of who the man was.  Winston Churchill was definitely a man to be remembered and Candice Millard managed to not only gave me a fantastic primer on the man himself, she also broadened my knowledge of South African history and the Boer Wars.  I have to say I really admire her writing style.  She managed to bring the adventure, the tragedy and the terribly inhumane conditions of the experience to life for the readers.  This author paints beautiful scenes and her background research is impeccable.  This is not a bio to be slogged through, it is thoroughly enjoyable.


I want to thank the publisher (Doubleday Books) for providing me with the ARC through NetGalley for an honest review.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

Black Powder War (Temeraire #3) by Naomi Novik


On the heels of a harrowing diplomatic mission to Peking, Captain Will Laurence and his dragon Temeraire would like nothing better than to get back to England.  But alas, it will not be quick or easy.

Their new assignment takes them on a difficult journey by land from China to Istanbul to retrieve three valuable dragon eggs and bring them home.  As they travel via the Old Silk Road they will need a guide.  This comes in the form of a new character named Tharkay, a toughened Nepalese/Englishman whose loyalty and motives are somewhat questionable.  En route, they have a run-in with bandits and meet some feral dragons that live in the mountains away from humankind.  Once in Istanbul, they are not received kindly and find some resistance to their retrieval of the dragon eggs.  I found this part of the book to be way too predictable and was happy when they made it out of Istanbul.  As they travel from Istanbul to Prussia a delightful and frightful new terror is born in the form of the feisty baby dragon, Iskierka who is going to be a right handful.  Oh yes, she will also need her own handler!  Once in Prussia, Laurence, Temeraire and company wind up as unwilling participants in Napoleon’s Siege of Danzig.  Adding to all of this danger, it is revealed that Napoleon has a new officer in the form of a dragon who bears a very strong grudge towards Temeraire.

The focus of the series remains on the strong bond between Will and Temeraire and their adventures during the Napoleonic Wars.  We are also offered up a couple of side plates on slavery and dragon rights.  The former being a very real and upcoming cause of the time period and the latter being a great fictional one to introduce.  Tharkay and Iskierka and the feral dragons are interesting new additions and I feel like there is much to be explored here in future books.  I look forward to seeing more of that character development.  I still think that the premise of the series is great and there are definitely some parts that tickle me.  I would recommend these for young adults because Novik continues to weave cultural differences, geography and history into her story in an interesting way.  She also does a good job outlining battle tactics from the unusual viewpoint of an aerial dragon force.  She covered quite a bit of ground in this book, picking up the pace after Throne of Jade.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost


Books written by black authors

Off To The Bookstore

To Read or not to Read



Books of Magic

A Book Review Blog

Behind The Tinted Glass

Books, Literature, Movies, TV...

Lost in Words

A million books and one girl

Bernard's Book Blog

- Reviews, Rants, & Raves -

Lady Bibliotaph


Christy Lau

"The true alchemists change the world into words."

Letters from Alaska

News and Notes from Eowyn Ivey, Author of "The Snow Child"


Ramblings About Beauty, Lifestyle & Everything In Between!

Excuse My Reading

read/hoard/talk/love books

Read This, Not That

Book Reviews, Quotes, and Musings


"If a book is new, it smells great. If a book is old, it smells even better… And it stays with you forever." ― Ray Bradbury




Books written by black authors

Off To The Bookstore

To Read or not to Read



Books of Magic

A Book Review Blog

Behind The Tinted Glass

Books, Literature, Movies, TV...

Lost in Words

A million books and one girl

Bernard's Book Blog

- Reviews, Rants, & Raves -

Lady Bibliotaph


Christy Lau

"The true alchemists change the world into words."

Letters from Alaska

News and Notes from Eowyn Ivey, Author of "The Snow Child"


Ramblings About Beauty, Lifestyle & Everything In Between!

Excuse My Reading

read/hoard/talk/love books

Read This, Not That

Book Reviews, Quotes, and Musings


"If a book is new, it smells great. If a book is old, it smells even better… And it stays with you forever." ― Ray Bradbury



Infinite Text

Reading Journal

She Reads Reviews

Historical Fiction, YA, Fantasy, Contemporary, Literary, and Non-fiction Book Reviews

JJmachshev Book Reviews

No sugarcoating, what I really think about the books I read.

Naty's Bookshelf

Why socialize when you can read?

%d bloggers like this: