Book Review: Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

I love Greek mythology and I love a good romantic tale. Combine the two and for me, you’ve got a winner. I’ve now read “Starcrossed” by Josephine Angelini multiple times and I have to admit, I don’t get tired of it. I’m still able to take in the fine details and enjoy the development of the characters. The first time I read this book I really did not care for the main character, Helen. She annoyed me. However, I loved her best friend Claire. She is a great secondary character and I would love to read her story…especially detailing how she grew up with Helen, observing Helen’s weird “powers” and how Claire dealt with it. I think it would make a great prequel (hint-hint Ms. Angelini.)

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“Starcrossed” is the story of teenage Helen. She is stunningly beautiful, socially awkward, and unswervingly loyal to her family and closest friends. When the Delos family moves to her island home, her life is turned upside down. As she battles uncharacteristic feelings of rage towards these strangers, she begins to doubt her own sanity. Added to her violent mood swings is exhaustion, as she begins to have bizarre nocturnal journeys. What do you do when you have a nightmare and you wake up covered in sand, grit and grime and you know you’ve not left the house? Like Helen, you’d probably think you were losing your mind.

After a life-changing and death-defying encounter with Lucas Delos, Helen’s pseudo-normal world explodes. She is swept away by ancient passions and a feud dating back to the Trojan War. Can she find her place in this new world, now that she knows who she really is? What about Lucas and their feelings for each other? “Starcrossed” is a journey of epic proportions taking the reader into the world of Gods, demigods, and their ill-fated love affairs.

“Starcrossed” by Josephine Angelini is a recommended read. It successfully combines mythology with modern day. There is plenty of action, believable dialogue, and fantastic secondary characters. The love story of Helen and Lucas is believable as well as frustrating at times, but you keep cheering for them. Give “Starcrossed” a read; you won’t be disappointed.

Josephine Angelini’s book “Starcrossed” is book one in a trilogy. Check it out and her other books at her site: http://www.josephineangelini.com/books/

Book Review: Knew You’d Come: A Haunting Love Story by Christine Cacciatore

Once in a while I enjoy a quirky or paranormal romance. When I stumbled upon “Knew You’d Come: A Haunting Love Story” by author Christine Cacciatore, I was happy to find a novella that effortlessly combines a hot romance with ghosts and a bit of the Old West. Yes, this is a novella — a shorter work that is a great read and easily finished in one sitting.

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Author Christine Cacciatore gives us Tansy Reynolds, a ghost hunter who’s investigating the Wilderness Saloon. This old establishment has a reputation for being haunted and it’s Tansy’s job to debunk or confirm the haunting. When the other paranormal investigator doesn’t show up, Tansy is left alone to complete the job. Within hours, she discovers evidence of a presence and by the second night, her entire world is rocked when she makes actual contact with ghost of Whip Daniels.

I enjoyed the story of Tansy and Whip — the mingling of their past and present was intriguing. Cacciatore creates solid characters, fun dialogue, and some super sexy scenes. The heart of the story is true love and how two people can be meant for each other even after decades and death.

So tonight, shut off the TV, pour yourself a glass of wine or cup of tea and get lost in “Knew You’d Come: A Haunting Love Story” by Christine Cacciatore. You can find out more about author Christine Cacciatore on Good Reads; be sure to check out her other books.

To get your own copy of “Knew You’d Come: a Haunting Love Story” visit Christine Cacciatore at Amazon.

Reading: Ways to Find Great New Books

Back in September 2015, I wrote this blog post for the Writing Wenches. Since the site is no longer available to view, I wanted to share it today with my readers because I’m always on the lookout for ways to find great new books, and I’m sure you are too.

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I love books. I love to read. As a kid, my earliest book recommendations came from my mom and the amazing librarians in the children’s section of our local library. As a teen, I read books my friends said were must-reads and I spent hours exploring the shelves of bookstores.

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While I have favorite genres and I most definitely have favorite authors, I’m always open to new ideas and new authors or at least authors that are new to me. Because of my husband’s influence I read (and loved!) Douglas Adams and Michael Crichton. A friend introduced me to Barbara Michaels and I stumbled onto Michael Grant when scanning the bookstore shelves for something that just looked interesting — I had no idea as I grabbed his book “Gone” that I’d become a huge fan with an obsession for his series.

Before we were all connected through the internet, I often discovered new authors and books by catching recommendations on talk shows or the news. That’s how I actually first heard about Harry Potter.

Today, there are so many ways to find amazing new authors and books. Social media makes it easier than ever to stay connected but there’s something to be said for the old-fashioned method of simply asking another human (in person!) what they recommend.

The next time you’re in a book store ask the clerk or even the person standing next to you in the aisle what they’re reading or what’s the best book they’ve read this month. Most readers love to talk about their favorite authors and the great books they’ve read. Connect and share and you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to climb out of a reading rut and discover something new.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to find new authors and authors that are new to me.

On Twitter:

Search the hashtags #amreading, #books and #authors. Check out the #amwriting hashtag. These are great ways to find not only new authors to read but fun writerly and readerly people to follow.

On Facebook:

Follow your local library’s page or your favorite author’s page. Check out what your favorite author is reading or who that author interacts with to find new authors and books to enjoy.

IRL:

Spend time at your local library. Check out the displays that have recommendations from the librarians, ask for recommendations — don’t be afraid to ask. Librarians are there to help and they’re usually plugged into what’s hot in different genres.

Be bold and step out of your comfort zone. Choose to read something from a different genre. There’s a lot of great literature and awesomely engaging stories out there.

Book Review: Island of Glass by Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts’ “Island of Glass” is the final book in her The Guardians Trilogy. I’m a long-time fan of Nora Roberts and have a particular affection for her trilogies that (1) are set in Ireland/have Irish influence, (2) have magic/paranormal, and (3) follow a different couple’s perspective in each book.

The Guardians Trilogy has it all — a big win for me! And you, because I recommend these books, all three. “Stars of Fortune” is book one and “Bays of Sighs” is book two.

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“Island of Glass” is the last story of the Guardians, the six descended from the Goddesses and chosen to return the stars of fire, water, and ice. Two stars have been found, two couples connected, and now it’s the time for third — third star, third couple, final showdown between the Guardians and the dark one Nerezza.

This book gives readers a better look into Riley, a brilliant anthropologist with a quick wit, a million connections, and the ability to turn into a wolf each month during the full moon. Along with Riley, we get Doyle the immortal and battle-scarred warrior. The pairing of these two is inevitable, of the six, four are already paired: Bran (the wizard) and Sasha (the seer); Sawyer (the traveler) and Annika (the mermaid).

The six Guardians come together in this final book to find the last star and form an unbreakable bond, a unity. Set in Ireland, “Island of Glass” is a fast-paced magical story with plenty of action, embraceable characters, sweet love, and hot romance. I love the various pop culture references that author Roberts’ peppers throughout the novel, especially in the dialogue between Riley and Sawyer.

“Island of Glass” offers readers a great escape. I loved the magic, the goddesses, and would love to spend a day (or decade) on the Island. Roberts’ description of the Island of Glass drew me in and captured my heart and imagination. Any time a book can sweep me away, I’m truly grateful. This one did.

If you’ve never read Nora Roberts, The Guardians trilogy is a great place to start, but be warned, her books are addictive and she’s written many.

Click here to see books by Nora Roberts.

For my review of Book One: “Stars of Fortune

For my review of Book Two: “Bay of Sighs

Book Review: A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

“A Study in Charlotte” by Brittany Cavallaro has been on my TBR for too long, so when I had the opportunity to grab a copy of this book the other day, I didn’t hesitate. It’s book one of a trilogy featuring the teenage descendents of the infamous Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. A young adult novel, author Cavallaro brings to life with great flair Charlotte Holmes and Jamie (just call me Watson) Watson.

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While there’s been several re-imagining of the Holmes/Watson dynamic for decades — from movies to television and books, Brittany Cavallaro manages to give it a fresh twist while maintaining the essence of the classics. Readers are introduced to Jamie Watson who’s been sent to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school, on a rugby scholarship. Here he meets Charlotte Holmes, the great-great-great granddaughter of Sherlock Holmes. They quickly find themselves thrown together trying to solve a campus murder before the real murderer manages to frame them for the deed.

The development of both the teen Holmes and Watson characters is solid, Cavallaro manages to bring each to life without creating caricatures that fall flat. Charlotte Holmes  is a bit hard to like at times, as she should be — she’s very much like her great-great-great grandfather in that respect, thoroughly frustrating and angering Watson along the way. I loved Jamie Watson. He’s intelligent, loyal, and with just enough volatile temper that I’d definitely want him in my corner. And did I mention there’s Moriaritys involved?

I definitely recommend “A Study in Charlotte” to anyone who enjoys a well-thought mystery, YA drama, and strong characters that grow throughout the story. The pace is good, the dialogue witty, and the supporting characters add dimension.

Book 2 in the trilogy is “The Last of August” and it releases February 14, 2017. To discover more about author Brittany Cavallaro and her books, please check out her website here.

#Amreading in December

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I’m about 50 or so pages from completing my personal 2016 Goodreads reading challenge of 25 books. Once upon a time, reading 25 books in a year would not have been a challenge — I typically read twice that and often more. However, times change. Life changes. I write full time and some days after writing for clients and then adding words to my own WIP, I simply prefer to lose myself in a movie instead of a book. Still, I completed my Goodreads challenge, or I will later this week when I finish Chuck Sambuchino’s craft book “Get a Literary Agent” and 25 books in 2016 isn’t half bad.

That brings us to December. Now. I decided instead of continuing to work my way through my TBR pile this month, I would treat myself and indulge in a reread of a favorite series. Last year during the Christmas holidays I reread the Gone series by Michael Grant. The previous Christmas, I reread Harry Potter, although I usually do that reread in the summer.

This year, December 2016 I’m rereading Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series.

If you enjoy reading YA with a supernatural/fantasy theme, then I highly recommend The Mortal Instruments Series.

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You can take a look at the different books here. Since the first book “City of Bones” was released in 2007, five more books were added plus a companion series called the Infernal Devices and a new sequel trilogy to the Mortal Instruments called The Dark Artifices, which begins with “Lady Midnight”. The next book after “Lady Midnight” is set to release in May 2017 and will be titled “Lord of Shadows”.

Currently, I’m on Chapter 20 of “City of Bones” and I’m enjoying it this time around as much as I did the first time I read it. I love the dialogue, especially the banter between Jace and Clary, even Simon’s commentary brings a grin while reading. I’m dreading the end of this book just a bit, because I do know what’s coming next and this particular end made me a bit growl-ly. However, it was a good end and fun way to lead into book 2 “City of Ashes”.

Whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year, I hope you’re experiencing peace and joy. And do I hope you’re making time for a good book or two or three.

Happy Reading!

If you have a spare moment, let me know in the comments below what you’re reading. I’m always looking to add title to my TBR list. Or which book(s) do you want Santa to bring?

 

 

Book Review: Five Little Pigs by Agatha Christie

Five Little Pigs (Hercule Poirot, #24)Five Little Pigs by Agatha Christie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Agatha Christie’s “Five Little Pigs” does not make into my Top 10 Hercule Poirot mysteries, although I’m still rating it here on Goodreads with 4 stars. Why? Because, for me, it’s still a classic Christie and Poirot doesn’t disappoint — he’s brilliant and I adore his sleuthing style even when he’s solving a murder in retrospect. “Murder in Retrospect” actually is the original title and personally, I prefer it. I think it fits better, despite the fact that Christie uses the children’s rhyme about the “little pigs” (…this one went to market, etc) throughout the book.

Poirot is taxed with the job of solving a murder mystery for a death that happened sixteen years ago. A famous painter was poisoned by his wife, who apparently was jealous of her husband’s infidelity. She was convicted of the crime, sent to prison, and eventually died there, but not before penning a letter to her only daughter professing her innocence. Now the daughter, a grown woman who was just child at the time of her father’s murder, wants to know the truth. Did her mother kill her father as the court declared or was her mother truly innocent? It’s up to Hercule Poirot to uncover the truth.

I did find this particular story to move a bit slow, primarily because it’s told in retrospect from the point of view of the different suspects. While it’s interesting to hear Poirot’s interviews with each and then read the letters detailing their movements on the day of the murder, this story does not have the same sort of pace of books like “Death on the Nile” or “Murder on the Orient Express” where we are thrown in to the action with Poirot while he’s tracking clues and employing his “little grey cells”.

For any Agatha Christie fan, I do recommend “Five Little Pigs”. The mystery is good, she delivers her signature red herrings and Poirot is a delight as always. However, I did feel that the story began to drag a bit in the middle, bogged down as she delivered the perspectives of each suspect. Overall, I liked it and most likely will read it again at a later date.

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Book Review: “Cradle and All” by James Patterson

Cradle and AllCradle and All by James Patterson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Cradle and All” by James Patterson was unlike many of the books I typically read, having heavy religious themes. I’m not sure it’s accurate to say that I “enjoyed” reading this book, but it definitely held my attention and at many times I was riveted. I had to keep reading, I had to know what was going to happen instead of putting it down and pouring myself another cup of coffee.

The basic premise is good and evil. Not some abstract form or supernatural myth of good and evil, but down-and-dirty Satan vs. God. The story centers on two young teenage girls: Kathleen and Colleen. One in America, the other in Ireland. Both girls are virgins; both are pregnant. According to the prophecies made at Fatima more than 100 years ago, one of these girls is carrying the child of God, while the other is carrying the child of Satan. It looks to be End of Times, especially as the world of this story is battling plagues, famine, and other devastating disasters.

As a reader, we get to experience the first-hand account of these events through Anne, a former nun turned Private Investigator. Her sections of the story are told in first-person, while the rest of the book is in third. At times, I found the switching of the tenses a bit jarring, but for the most part, once I was about a 1/3 of the way in, it became smoother for me.

I found this to be a quick read, primarily because Patterson kept the reader in suspense, waiting to find out until the very end which girl is carrying The Beast and how it will all play out. There’s definitely disturbing subject matter in “Cradle and All” including suicide, violent death, and assault, so although it’s classified YA, I wouldn’t recommend it for younger teens.

As for adults who shy away for YA because it’s “too young” — this book is not. It definitely is mature subject matter.

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Book Review: Uninvited by Sophie Jordan

Uninvited (Uninvited, #1)Uninvited by Sophie Jordan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It was one of those days when I was looking through the library on my Nook and I stumbled across a few titles I didn’t remember downloading. After reading the blurbs for about three different books, I settled on “Uninvited” by Sophie Jordan. This is the first book I’ve read by Jordan and I’m very glad it was on my eReader. “Uninvited” was an entertaining quick read and I’m ready to read its sequel.

“Uninvited” is set in the near future where U.S. residents are screened for the “kill” gene, also known as HTS. Those with the gene are considered “carriers” and the authorities and public just know that these carries will eventually do something violent, most likely murder.

Davy lives a normal life, fairly privileged. She’s well-liked, has a hot boyfriend, and is a music prodigy — until the unthinkable happens. She tests positive for HTS. She’s labeled a carrier and her whole life changes. She’s forced to enter a national registry, “uninvited” from her prestigious private school, shunned by her friends, and sent to the local public high school where others like her attend classes in the “Cage”.

In the Cage, Davy learns that while society sees her as a predator, among other carriers she’s more prey. She has to figure out the rules quickly or she may not make it to graduation. Fortunately, she does find unlikely allies with quiet Gil and somewhat scary Sean. Unfortunately, things nationwide worsen and those with the kill gene are rounded up and sent away.

Not a traditional dystopian YA book, “Uninvited” actually is quite unsettling when you think about the possibility of that kind of level of governmental influence in citizens personal lives. Author Sophie Jordan gives the reader a fast-paced story with strong characters that grow throughout the chapters. The action scenes are intense, while the romantic moments between Davy and Sean are a nice break in the pace.

I liked Sophie Jordan’s “Uninvited” and recommend it to anyone who enjoys YA and dystopian themes.

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Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two are based on an original new story by  J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne.

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This eighth story featuring J.K. Rowling’s character Harry Potter takes place almost two decades after the Battle of Hogwarts. Harry Potter is 37, Head of Magical Law Enforcement, and watching his children begin their journeys at Hogwarts.

How often as readers to we long for the chance to see familiar and beloved characters after that final “The End”? Even multi-book series have an end — but author J.K. Rowling has given fans the opportunity to see what happened to her famous characters years after the final curtain of The Deathly Hallows fell. In “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” we follow not only the struggles of an adult Harry who’s past won’t seem to stay, well, in the past. We also get to experience the ups and downs of young Albus Severus Potter, Harry and Ginny’s middle child .

I loved reading about Albus and I especially enjoyed his friendship with Scorpius, Draco Malfoy’s son. This story is much more than a glimpse into the continuing saga of Potters and Malfoys, it’s a story about family, friendship, loyalty, and legacies. Rowling gives readers chance to revisit favorite characters from the original series including Hermione, Ron, Minerva McGonagall, Draco Malfoy, and more — even a few unexpected characters show up.

Unlike the first seven books, “Harry Potter and Cursed Child: Parts One and Two” are presented in stageplay format or as a script. The Special Rehearsal Edition Script, which is widely available is based on the original new story from J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany. It’s the first Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. Its world premiere was July 30, 2016 in London.

Overall, I liked this story. However, I had two moments where as a reader I just shook my head and said, “Nope, that doesn’t work for me.” But that’s okay. As readers, we all bring our own personal expectations to a story like this, especially if we are long-time fans of these characters and J.K. Rowling’s magical world. Were these two moments deal breakers for me? Absolutely not. I’ll read the book again and enjoy it equally as much. I won’t/can’t tell you what two things bugged me because I don’t do spoilers.

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, then I definitely recommend picking up a copy of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two.”

You can check out the website for “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” playing on stage in London here. There are some great pictures and lots of fun stuff to read. I’d love to be able to see this on stage!