Sunday Recap

Books read:

cobweb brideCobweb Bride by Vera Nazarian (Norilana books) – release July 15, 2013

the witch's salvation

The Witch’s Salvation by Francesca Pelaccia – released April 27, 2013

This week’s published book reviews:

iron flower

Iron Flower by Billy Wong – released April 3, 2013

winter witch

Winter Witch by Paula Brackston (Thomas Dunne Books) – released January 29, 2013

Books that I’m currently reading:

the guardian duke

The Guardian Duke by Jamie Carie (B&H Books) – released February 1, 2012

25 prefect days

25 Perfect Days by Mark Tullius (Vincere Press, LLC) – released March 15, 2013

woman king

Woman King (Volume 1) by Evette Davis (Createspace Independent Publishing Platform) – released May 1, 2013

Books that I’m reading next:

The mind readers

The Mind Readers by Lori Brighton – December 7, 2010
(Currently Free on Amazon – click here)

220

2:20 by Holly Hook – released April 15, 2013

the boleyn king

The Boleyn King by Laura Andersen (Ballantine Books) – Released May 14, 2013

Books received/downloaded this week:

madness

The Book of Madness and Cures bye Regina O’Melveny (Back Bay Books) – released June 18, 2013

the boleyn king

The Boleyn King by Laura Andersen (Ballantine Books) – Released May 14, 2013

dragon heart

Dragon Heat by Ella J Phoenix (Cobblestone Press) – released April 6, 2012

vampire thirst

Vampire Thirst by Ella J Phoenix (Amazon Digital Services, Inc.) – released June 25, 2013

Other Interesting News:

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Review for The Winter Witch by Paula Brackston

winter witch

My Rating: 4.5/5

Author:  Paula Brackston
Title:  The Winter Witch

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Background:

Amazon Description:
“In her small early nineteenth century Welsh town, there is no one quite like Morgana.   She is small and quick and pretty enough to attract a suitor, but there are things that set her apart from other girls. Though her mind is sharp she has not spoken since she was a young girl. Her silence is a mystery, as well as her magic—the household objects that seem to move at her command, the bad luck that visits those who do her ill.  Concerned for her safety, her mother is anxious to see Morgana married, and Cai Jenkins, the widowed drover from the far hills who knows nothing of the rumors that swirl around her, seems the best choice.
After her wedding, Morgana is heartbroken at leaving her mother, and wary of this man, whom she does not know, and who will take her away to begin a new life.  But she soon falls in love with Cai’s farm and the wild mountains that surround it. Here, where frail humans are at the mercy of the elements, she thrives, her wild nature and her magic blossoming. Cai works to understand the beautiful, half-tamed creature he has chosen for a bride, and slowly, he begins to win Morgana’s affections.  It’s not long, however, before her strangeness begins to be remarked upon in her new village.  A dark force is at work there—a person who will stop at nothing to turn the townspeople against Morgana, even at the expense of those closest to her.  Forced to defend her home, her man, and herself from all comers, Morgana must learn to harness her power, or she will lose everything in this beautifully written, enchanting novel.”

Opinions:
4.5/5 stars

The Winter Witch is a historical fiction novel with a slight paranormal twist. This story does not gloss over the Welsh realities of the 1800s. Morgana is mute; she hasn’t spoken since her father disappeared when she was a little girl. Now, she is being married to a drover, Cai, who is from Ffynnon Las. Cai’s prior wife died in childbirth, and for him to be porthmon he needs a wife. Who would trust someone with the cattle and other livestock, financial arrangements, contracts, etc. if he does not have a home and wife to come back to? He could just run off with their money. Hence, he gets married to Morgana, who he has seen over the past several years when he was on his drive. However, there is something special about Morgana – besides her lack of speech. Her father was a gypsy and with that she has witches blood within her. She has been hiding it for whole life, with some slip ups when she became angry. Little does she know that Ffynnon Las is special, and with that comes dangers she never knew could be expected.

Characters:
The story is written in first person following Morgana, and third person following Cai. Morgana is young and likes being outdoors. She is not one for social calls and other societal conducts. She loves the horses on the farm and does well with helping Cai with the animals. However, she meets some people who are not what they appear at her new home. There is something evil about them but she cannot discuss this with Cai – for one, she is mute, and two she does not have tangible proof (only feelings.) Cai is getting over his first wife’s death which happened a few years prior. He does not wallow in pity throughout the book, but rather discovers how much he likes his new wife – although she can be hard to understand. He wants her to fit in and tries his best to accommodate that. He ends up taking her with him on his drive to London (to sell the cattle and other animals along with business from the local town.) There are many troubles that test him along the way. A few other characters make appearances regularly. They are fun and have their own personality – such as Mrs. Jones who helps out at Ffynnon Las.

Plot:
The plot moved along well for me. It did not cuddle the reader from the troubles that drovers/farmers faced in Wales during that time. There are tragedies and the story pushes the characters to their limits. Everything ties up nicely, and there are a few surprises along the way. One reason I gave this novel a 4.5 instead of 5 is because of a slightly out of place event that takes place near the end. If you have the hardback version is it on pages 323-324. It just seemed a little out of place from the rest of the story. Other than that, I really liked the book.

The Bottom Line:
Overall, I really enjoyed the book. Not many authors like to push their characters very far. It’s like they take the reader to the edge of a cliff, let them peek over, and then carry on with the story. Other authors go farther. They let the reader go over the cliff, only to be caught just below the ledge by a lip in the side. That is what happens in this book. If you like historical fiction with a splash of paranormal, you might like this book.

 

Childhood Reading Memories

When I was growing up, our school promoted reading through different means – book sales, a random reading period, etc. Unlike other girls who read The Babysitters Club, my class and I preferred Goosebumps by R. L. Stine. We would trade books like old baseball cards. It was a good time! Now being the old woman that I am – okay, I’m really not that old – I admit that I still have my whole series still displayed on one of my bookcases. I cannot bring myself to part with them. Besides, I might need them to fill up my whole room library (like in Beauty and the Beast) one day.

beauty-and-the-beast-library
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast library

With this being said, I wanted to share with you my top two favorite Goosebumps books:

a night in terror towerSue and her Brother, Eddie, are visiting London when they run into a little problem. They can’t find their tour group. Still, there’s no reason to panic. No way their tour guide would just leave them. All alone. In a gloomy old prison tower.
No way they’d get locked inside. After dark. With those eerie sounds. And a strange dark figure who wants them…dead

A Night in Terror Tower was about a brother and sister who went to London with their parents, only to get trapped in the Tower while touring. They later discovered that their parents were missing, and they developed a slight memory problem. First of all, I liked this one because it took place in England – one of my most favoritest countries 🙂 It had castles and even time travel – a definite A+ in my book reading.

the scarecrow walks at midnight

Jodie loves visiting her grandparents’ farm. Okay, so it’s not the most exciting place in the world. Still, Grandpa tells great scary stories. And Grandma’s chocolate chip pancakes are the best.
But this summer the farm has really changed. The cornfields are sparse. Grandma and Grandpa seem worn out. And the single scarecrow has been replaced by twelve evil-looking ones.
Then one night Jodie sees something really odd. The scarecrows seem to be moving. Twitching on their stakes. Coming alive…

The Scarecrow Walks at Midnight was another favorite for me. There’s nothing like going in the middle of nowhere on a farm with a creepy scarecrow (among other things.) Those rows of cornstalks and long distances between neighbors always struck me as a great setting for something spooky to happen. Luckily my grandparents didn’t have a farm, so I could read this book without too many nightmares.

One other book that I really enjoyed from R. L. Stine that was not part of the Goosebumps series was The Beast.

the beast

I mean, The Beast was one awesome ride! My cousin Ashley and I had never been on anything like it. And then we heard about the ghost that was supposed to ride it at night after the park closed. A ghost on a roller coaster? Yeah, sure. I didn’t believe it, of course.
Then one night after the park closed, we found ourselves on The Beast. Was I shocked when it started to move! But that was just the beginning. Because, you see, we weren’t alone…and the guy with us wasn’t exactly human!

Who wouldn’t think staying after closing in an amusement park would be cool? Well, if you really think about it, it could be a little eerie – especially if the park is known to be haunted. When reading this book, I felt that I was transported to this amusement park and all its strange happenings.

So what made R. L. Stine great for me as a kid? Well, paranormal and spooky things interested me then and continues to do so now. His books were a great fast read for me. As I got older, I could read them within 2 hours! The chapters always stopped with something scary happening:

“No way!” I cried. “There’s no ghost–”
But at that moment I felt icy fingers close around the back of my neck.
(The Beast, ending of chapter 2)

Even my mom read them before bed. I had to steal them back from her!

Although I’ve gotten older and moved on to more books that relate to my age, I still reminisce about the good reading days growing up with Goosebumps.


What books did you enjoy growing up?

 

Review for Iron Flower by Billy Wong

iron flower

My Rating: 3.5/5

Author: Billy Wong
Title: Iron Flower (Legend of the Iron Flower)

Genre: Fantasy

Background:

Amazon Description:
“Years are only one way to age in this tale of a young warrior whose army-slaying sword belies her kind heart.

One of the greatest fighters in the world, nearly indestructible Rose lets few things strike fear into her—but magic is one of them. Nonetheless, she seeks out the magical dangers left by the ancients alongside warrior partner Finn and curious scholar Derrick in order to protect others from them. Their mission is complicated by Rose and Finn’s budding romance, as her choice of lifestyle conflicts with his expectations for the woman he loves. But after their quest pits against such titanic foes as a prince able to slay a thousand men in a day and a draconic archmage, will Rose be forced to embrace the very magic she fears?”

Opinions:

3.5/5 stars

Iron Flower is the second book that follows Rose Agen in her battles and adventures. This time she works together with Finn and Derrick to collect and stop cursed artifacts and evil magic, while facing battles of invading forces. I’ve read the first book Iron Bloom, but I think a person could jump right into this one without much trouble—although if you are thinking about reading both stories, you should obviously read the first one first. This story picks up about 2 years after the last, with a flashback to a scene in the first book during the prologue.

Characters:
The story is written in third person mostly following Rose, Derrick, and Finn. Rose is still the warrior and joins up with Finn and scholar, Derrick, to rid artifacts that may be cursed to avoid any inhuman possession like Rose has met with prior. Rose is still the strong woman she was in the first book and also still concerned about the welfare of the people and those she loves. As the story of Rose progresses from the first book to the end of this book, it’s hard to imagine Rose ever dying. The battles that are fought in this book are still perilous towards Rose and her friends, but the reader is kind of used to her not dying from “mortal wounds.”

Plot:
The plot moved along well. There is action and adventure similar to the first. This time there is more magic and dangers involved. Should old magic be brought back into the world? How do they stop the evil possessions/creatures that are a result of the magic? What are the invading forces looking for-magic? The book obviously leaves room for another installment. I wonder how there will be a new element to the story. I feel that to make the story develop there needs to be something that Rose must face that she can’t use her physical strength and weird healing assets on. The battling outcomes are more predictable – even the ending battle was not described. Hence, something new will need to be added to keep the story going, in my opinion.

The Bottom Line:
Overall, it was a nice quick read. If you like strong female characters and fantasy/adventure, you should try this book.

 

Sunday Recap

Books read:

fe

Fading Echoes by Jaime McDougall (InkyBlots) – released March 1, 2013

ww

The Wishing Thread: A Novel by Lisa Van Allen (Ballantine Books) – release September 3, 2013

This week’s published book reviews:

Coralina

Coralina (The Nine Princesses Novellas) by Anita Valle (Amazon Digital Services, Inc.) – released November 28, 2012

scapemaker

Scapemaker by Steve V Cypert (CreateSpace) – released January 1, 2013

Books that I’m currently reading:

cobweb bride

Cobweb Bride by Vera Nazarian (Norilana books) – release July 15, 2013

the guardian duke

The Guardian Duke by Jamie Carie (B&H Books) – released February 1, 2012

the witch's salvation

The Witch’s Salvation by Francesca Pelaccia – released April 27, 2013

Books that I’m reading next:

woman king

Woman King (Volume 1) by Evette Davis (Createspace Independent Publishing Platform) – released May 1, 2013

The mind readers

The Mind Readers by Lori Brighton – December 7, 2010
(Currently Free on Amazon – click here)

25 prefect days

25 Perfect Days by Mark Tullius (Vincere Press, LLC) – released March 15, 2013

Books won or asked to review this week:

the boleyn king

The Boleyn King by Laura Andersen (Ballantine Books) – Released May 14, 2013

echo falls

Echo Falls by Jaime McDougall (InkyBlots) – released June 5, 2013 (2nd edition)

Books received/downloaded this week:

the witch's salvation

The Witch’s Salvation by Francesca Pelaccia – Released April 27, 2013

echo falls

Echo Falls by Jaime McDougall (InkyBlots) – released June 5, 2013 (2nd edition)

woman kingWoman King (Volume 1) by Evette Davis (Createspace Independent Publishing Platform) – released May 1, 2013

Other Interesting News:

1. This week I was asked by an author to join a blog tour. This will be my first blog tour, and I’m very excited! This will take place the first week in August, so keep an eye out for more information on that. My blog review will be posted August 7th! The book? True Love’s First Kiss by Heidi Garrett

true love

The blog tour is hosted by Itching for Books:

Itching For Books

2. On a not-so-book note, I decided to teach myself how to crochet. I might have been influenced by The Wishing Thread. Anyway, when I was little my grandmother taught me how to do a chain, but that was it. So now, with the help of Youtube, I am on my way to making my first afghan. I am 7 rows in! I know. I have a long way to go, but it doesn’t look that hideous. Anyone who can crochet, please feel free to share any tips for a beginner!

~

As always, if you want to contact me about anything (questions or comments), please feel free to drop me an email: bookhostage@gmail.com. Also, please stop by and follow me on Twitter: Here

Review for Scapemaker by Steve Cypert

scapemaker

My Rating: 4/5

Author: Steve Cypert
Title: Scapemaker

Genre: Fantasy

Background:

Amazon Description:

“Matthew is the son of Mr. Nicholas Namely, a local high school teacher. But unbeknownst to Matthew, his father is a dreamscaper whose classroom is connected to the dream-world. From his classroom, his students enter the halls of Scapemaker, a dream-world high school for young dreamscapers.

Following a couple of heartfelt tragic events, Matthew is compelled to investigate the unbelievable mysteries surrounding those events and is propelled into a whole new world. Matthew and his mother, Mae, are soon coerced into moving across the country for his father’s strange medical needs. While attending his new school, Matthew comes to know the secrets that Daedree, an annoying girl from his former high school, has locked away. Matthew also meets Amber, a beautiful enigmatic girl who leads him to Mr. Xoner’s classroom. While there, he learns the art of dreamscaping (which has been in the Namely bloodline for thousands of years).

Matthew will come to know of Nox Celare, otherwise known as The Sandman, who is after a special element called Magineum. Neck deep in skinwalkers, sandsleepers, zombies, soul feeders, ghosts, dream-world criminals known as “night terrors” and more, Matthew learns he is in over his head. Matthew must not only solve the mysteries surrounding those tragic events, but he will also have to protect the Magineum with his life and find a way to be with the one girl of his dreams. Filled with secrecy, mystery and a forbidden tangle of young love, this new life will lead Matthew to unbelievable characters with the most extraordinary abilities he could never have imagined.

Scapemaker will keep you grounded in the real world while at the same time make the fantastical world around it that much more possible and enduring. This tale of young adult paranormal fantasy will keep you guessing and wanting more.”

Opinions:

Scapemaker is a young adult fantasy novel that follows Matthew into an exciting new world – of dreams. This book puts me in mind of Harry Potter – a hidden school amongst the real world, mystery, adventure, and unusual characters and abilities. However, this is not a wizard-type book. This story takes place within the dream realm (and the real world.) Those who can cross over to the dream world consciously are known as dreamscapers, and Scapemaker is the school where Matthew ends up attending.

Matthew has had some bad events taken place in his life – starting with a bad injury from a high school football game to his father’s “coma.” After moving to a new home to accommodate for his father’s medical condition, he learns about Scapemaker. He also makes some new friends – some of which have unusual qualities. Matthew, a good person, tends to bend the rules to help his father and friends. This takes him on a bumpy ride against night terrors (the nasty bad guys in the story) and getting in trouble at school. The story is written in third person, and mainly follows Matthew. There are a few moments where the story focuses on other characters within the same event to give the reader the full gist of what is happening.

The plot moved along well for me. It was an easy read. At one point where Matthew was learning about Scapemaker and all that comes with the dream world, I thought it was a little too much information all at once. Perhaps it could have been spaced out a little more. But, it made room for the rest of the story to proceed. There is a lot of action during the second half of the book, and it ends to be continued in the following book. There are still some unanswered questions and new questions from the last question that should make the reader want to find out what happens in the next book. I also wondered what Mae (his mother) was thinking and doing during this time.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. If you like young adult fantasy novels, you should give this book a try.

The author has created a group on Goodreads for the Scapemaker series. You can find this here. Steve writes:
“For those interested in reading Scapemaker, news about Soul Feeders (Scapemaker #2), Q&A’s, future trailers, giveaways, polls, trivia, discussions, insider news and unknown facts, other events, or even a place to tell others about that dream that you had the other night – I have formed a Goodreads group called “Scapemaker Scapers”. This will be the place I will post any news before “going public”. Those who join this group will be the very first people to be offered free ebooks from the Scapemaker series, including Soul Feeders (Scapemaker #2), which should be out by the end of this year (2013). Please consider joining this group. The more the merrier, so tell a friend.”


Review for Coralina by Anita Valle

 

 Coralina

 

My Rating: 4/5

Author:  Anita Valle
Title:  Coralina: The Nine Princesses Novellas (Volume 2)

Genre:  Fairytale

Background:

Amazon Description:
Coralina Corissa, known as “Coco” to her eight sisters, is the prettiest princess of a hundred kingdoms. And she knows it. Her beauty has always given her anything she wanted… and any man she wanted.

Runa Realm is facing a new threat. Strange bandits, disguised as nobles, are attacking beautiful women to steal their hair. Coralina isn’t concerned. Until Prince Luxley, her favorite (but not only) lover, gets clobbered by a peasant called Gord, who mistakenly assumed the prince was a bandit.

Outraged, Coralina plans to punish the peasant by deliberately breaking his heart. But Gord is nearly blind. For the first time ever, Coralina must rely on more than her looks to ensnare a man. But the harder she flirts, the more Gord seems to hate her. And the more her own heart (and hair) becomes endangered.

The Nine Princesses Novellas is a series that chronicles the adventures of an unconventional family of princesses, the struggles they face in a kingdom often hostile to their humble origins, and the day-to-day dramas of nine young women whose personalities often clash like swords. Fans of Gale Carson Levine and Shannon Hale would enjoy this young-adult series. Recommended for ages 12 and up.

Opinions:

Coralina is the second volume of The Nine Princesses Novellas. Nine girls were adopted by a king and queen—each from a different kingdom. [And, each one gets their own novella.] When the king and queen died, the princesses each took on a role to help run the castle and kingdom. This book is about Coralina the “festivities princess.” Coralina is very beautiful and knows it. She doesn’t hesitate to use her looks and charms to win people over, especially men who fall easily for her. However, she meets her match when she tries to pay back Gord for embarrassing her. However, Gord is going blind and cannot see Coralina like everyone else can.  This does not stop her from trying and including Gord in her newest play. However, trouble is also afoot when bandits are abducting women to cut off their hair. Does Coralina fall into the bandits hands? Does she get Gord back? Does she learn a lesson in vanity? Does she learn a lesson in love? Well, that’s where you have to read the story.

Growing up, I loved princess stories and of course wearing pretty dresses. I was a girlie girl, so even though I’m slightly older than the target audience (12+) – I guess the ‘+’ includes me – I still like to read fairytales and princess books. Although the character of Coralina is somewhat predictable, I was surprised at what happened. As with any fairytale, there is a moral of the story. If I was rating the book as a younger version of myself, I would have probably given it 5 stars.

I wouldn’t mind reading more of the princess novellas. This was a pleasant read, and I think a nice book for young girls. If you love princess stories and new fairytales, you might want to give this book a try.

 

Reviewing for Authors

Before I started this blog, I used to just download free books from Amazon, borrow them from friends, or receive them as gifts. It’s a nice cheap way to indulge in my obsessive compulsive disorder of reading. (Yes, I admit my OCD. And no, I don’t want it cured.) During that time, I would sometimes rate the book but never wrote a review. I mean, what would I actually say? I’m not that expressive in the “real world” so why would that carry over online? I figured a “good book” or “this sucked” was not what a review should look like. As time went on, I started to rate all the books I read – in some shape, form or fashion.

After a while, I would look at reviews for books that I was thinking about downloading but wasn’t sure I would like it – i.e. the descriptions were a little too vague for my taste. I started thinking that it might not be so hard to try that. I asked myself what was important for me in the books I read. Well, the characters should be well-developed, and the plot had to move along nicely while keeping my interest. Grammer and editing troubles? Yes, that was important – although I am more lenient with free books. The philosophy of “you get what you pay for” rings in my mind. I also wanted to make sure the reader understood what the book was about. Some people don’t read descriptions and just look at the reviews. I could help them with that. Everything else seemed to fall in those lines. Okay, I got my list of items that I would want to include in the review.

I started reviewing on Goodreads first and then slowly expanded my way out to other sites such as Library Thing, Amazon, and just recently Net Galley. As I entered in giveaways and reviewed, I got in touch with some authors – usually these are newer and most often self-published authors. But still, it was nice to know that there are real people behind the pages that care what people think. My experiences with authors have been very positive so far. The people are very nice and take the time to answer my emails. I now get more requests to read subsequent books. Sometimes these are books that continue the novel I read, and sometimes they are whole new series or standalone novels.

In a way, I feel like I just received a part-time job in reading. I get “paid” in books. How awesome is that? (Although, I guess I can’t quit my day job!)

It is a delightful experience, and I’m glad that I started blogging my reviews.

~*~

Do you have any personal experiences with authors that you want to share?