A Tribute to Cat Winters

Well, this is a bit of a diversion for me, but I just finished ‘Odd & True’ and felt the need to sing my praises for the author: Cat Winters.

I have never found a Cat Winters book that wasn’t binge-worthy. Granted, I’ve only read 3 of her novels so far, but that’s still really impressive. So I thought I would give you my thoughts on the books I’ve read and introduce everyone to this fabulous author!

In The Shadow of Blackbirds

13112915Description from Goodreads: In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?

My Review: This was my first Cat Winters novel and, boy, did it catch me by surprise! The description sounded interesting, but I didn’t realize I’d become enthralled enough to read it in one sitting! The author combines true history (the horror of WWI and the Spanish Influenza outbreak) and a supernatural romance…and manages to come out with a wonderful and completely believable tale.

The Cure for Dreaming

curefordreamingDescription from Goodreads: Olivia Mead is a headstrong, independent girl—a suffragist—in an age that prefers its girls to be docile. It’s 1900 in Oregon, and Olivia’s father, concerned that she’s headed for trouble, convinces a stage mesmerist to try to hypnotize the rebellion out of her. But the hypnotist, an intriguing young man named Henri Reverie, gives her a terrible gift instead: she’s able to see people’s true natures, manifesting as visions of darkness and goodness, while also unable to speak her true thoughts out loud. These supernatural challenges only make Olivia more determined to speak her mind, and so she’s drawn into a dangerous relationship with the hypnotist and his mysterious motives, all while secretly fighting for the rights of women. 

My Review: Coming off the Blackbirds book, I had a feeling this one would be better than it sounded, and I was right! It was another single-sitting, page-turner! Once again, the author manages to join together real history and the supernatural into a story that feels completely true to life. She really seems to understand (and explain well) what living in the early 1900s must have been like for a strong-minded young woman.

Odd & True

oddandtrueDescription from Goodreads: Trudchen grew up hearing Odette’s stories of their monster-slaying mother and a magician’s curse. But now that Tru’s older, she’s starting to wonder if her older sister’s tales were just comforting lies, especially because there’s nothing fantastic about her own life—permanently disabled and in constant pain from childhood polio.

In 1909, after a two-year absence, Od reappears with a suitcase supposedly full of weapons and a promise to rescue Tru from the monsters on their way to attack her. But it’s Od who seems haunted by something. And when the sisters’ search for their mother leads them to a face-off with the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish beast that’s wreaking havoc in the Mid-Atlantic states, Tru discovers the peculiar possibility that she and her sister—despite their dark pasts and ordinary appearances—might, indeed, have magic after all.

My Review: Sigh, another great one. I love how the author always manages to spin a tale that seems creepy and supernatural, but often has real issues and struggles at the heart of it. This one is more of a coming-of-age tale; that time in everyone’s life when the magic dies and reality sets in…but only if you let it.

Her other books (which my library doesn’t have, darnit) include:

The Uninvited

theuninvitedDescription from Goodreads: Twenty-five year old Ivy Rowan rises from her bed after being struck by the flu, only to discover the world has been torn apart in just a few short days. But Ivy’s life-long gift—or curse—remains. For she sees the uninvited ones—ghosts of loved ones who appear to her, unasked, unwelcomed, for they always herald impending death. On that October evening in 1918 she sees the spirit of her grandmother, rocking in her mother’s chair. An hour later, she learns her younger brother and father have killed a young German out of retaliation for the death of Ivy’s older brother Billy in the Great War.

Horrified, she leaves home, to discover the flu has caused utter panic and the rules governing society have broken down. Ivy is drawn into this new world of jazz, passion, and freedom, where people live for the day, because they could be stricken by nightfall. But as her ‘uninvited guests’ begin to appear to her more often, she knows her life will be torn apart once more, but Ivy has no inkling of the other-worldly revelations about to unfold.

The Steep & Thorny Way

thesteepandthornywayDescription from Amazon: A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten.

1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now the killer is out of jail and back in town, and he’s claiming that Hanalee’s father’s death wasn’t an accident at all. Instead, he says that Hank was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who just so happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather.

In order to get the answers she needs, Hanalee will have to ask a “haint” wandering the roads at night—her father himself.

Yesternight

yesternightDescription from Goodreads: In 1925, Alice Lind steps off a train in the rain-soaked coastal hamlet of Gordon Bay, Oregon. There, she expects to do nothing more difficult than administer IQ tests to a group of rural schoolchildren. A trained psychologist, Alice believes mysteries of the mind can be unlocked scientifically, but now her views are about to be challenged by one curious child.

Seven-year-old Janie O’Daire is a mathematical genius, which is surprising. But what is disturbing are the stories she tells: that her name was once Violet, she grew up in Kansas decades earlier, and she drowned at age nineteen. Alice delves into these stories, at first believing they’re no more than the product of the girl’s vast imagination. But, slowly, Alice comes to the realization that Janie might indeed be telling a strange truth.

Alice knows the investigation may endanger her already shaky professional reputation, and as a woman in a field dominated by men she has no room for mistakes. But she is unprepared for the ways it will illuminate terrifying mysteries within her own past, and in the process, irrevocably change her life.

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys (An Anthology with Several Other Authors)

slashergirlsDescription from Goodreads: A host of the smartest young adult authors come together in this collection of scary stories and psychological thrillers curated by Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’s April Genevieve Tucholke.

Each story draws from a classic tale or two—sometimes of the horror genre, sometimes not—to inspire something new and fresh and terrifying. There are no superficial scares here; these are stories that will make you think even as they keep you on the edge of your seat. From bloody horror to supernatural creatures to unsettling, all-too-possible realism, this collection has something for any reader looking for a thrill.


Have you given Cat Winters a try? Read any of the books I haven’t gotten to yet? What did you think?

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Book Review – A Study in Charlotte

Book: A Study in Charlotte – Author: Brittany Cavallaro

Genre: Fiction, Mystery, YA

Description from Goodreads:

The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

My Review:

Let me start off with a confession: I totally thought both Charlotte AND Jamie were going to be girls when I started this book. I don’t know why; it specifically states in the description “keep HIS distance”. I must have read it wrong. ::shrugs:: Anyway, that notion was disabused in the very first page, so I quickly realized I was incorrect. And that I was disappointed. (Me = ::giant sigh:: “This is going to turn into a romance book, isn’t it?”)

Not that this book wasn’t awesome. It really was. Once I got over my confusion about genders (and my confusion on how Jamie got a rugby scholarship to a USA school), I found myself enthralled in this homage to the Sherlock Holmes novels. The characters were both familiar and new. Charlotte has a lot of the same issues as Sherlock, though for completely different reasons, and Jaime is (temperamentally at least) extremely similar to Doctor Watson. But they were also completely original characters with their own spirits and issues.

It did seem a bit strange to me that Jaime felt like it was destiny that he become Charlotte’s Watson, even given his family history. His dad was completely obsessed with the Holmes’ too, almost to the point of willingly endangering his child in order to push the two together. It made it feel a TAD creepy at times. But, hey, it’s a Sherlock book, so we’ll overlook that for now. 😉

The mystery was really interesting. I was kept guessing until the very end of the book, which was a nice change from some of the other mystery books I’ve been reading recently. I loved the nod to the Sherlock mysteries; it was a great way to tie the timelines together a bit and pull in the Sherlock lovers. They even included the Moriarty family! But everything was brought into the story in a way that made sense. Nothing felt pushed in just to have a callback to the original stories.

And, yes, it is looking like the series WILL be romancy. But I do think it works for these two characters. Fingers crossed it doesn’t turn into either a “I want to be with you, but circumstances are keeping us apart (over and over an over again)” or a gushy “I love you so much, you are the only thing in the world that matters” kind of romance. Let’s keep up the mysteries! That’s kind of the point of a Sherlock book, right? 😉

I don’t want to spoil things too much, so I won’t say much more. But this was a great leading book for the series, finishing off the current mystery but leaving the reader with just enough hints towards other mysteries that might take place in the future. I’ll likely pick up the second book, “The Last of August”, once my library snags a copy.

Similar Book(s):

The Clockwork Scarab (Colleen Gleason)

Library Haul – Mystery, Fantasy, and Books About Books

Another day, another library haul. 😉

Whose Body? (Dorothy Sayers)

whosebodyDescription from Goodreads: The stark naked body was lying in the tub. Not unusual for a proper bath, but highly irregular for murder — especially with a pair of gold pince-nez deliberately perched before the sightless eyes. What’s more, the face appeared to have been shaved after death. The police assumed that the victim was a prominent financier, but Lord Peter Wimsey, who dabbled in mystery detection as a hobby, knew better. In this, his first murder case, Lord Peter untangles the ghastly mystery of the corpse in the bath.

Why I Picked It: Ever since I fell in love with Poirot, I’ve been slowly picking my way through the Golden Age mysteries. Having finished Miss Marple, I decided it was time to give another classic author a try. Dorothy Sayers is really well known and her Lord Peter Wimsey books sound right up my alley, so I decided to snag the start of the series.

A Study in Charlotte (Brittany Cavallaro)

astudyincharlotteDescription from Goodreads: The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar. 

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

Why I Picked It: I love Sherlock in most of his forms, so I’m usually up for ‘descendant’ novels as well. The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason seems like it had a similar vibe, if a bit steampunky, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. This one sounds kind of fun and the reviews were decent, so I figured I’d give it a go.

Odd & True (Cat Winters)

oddandtrueDescription from Goodreads: Trudchen grew up hearing Odette’s stories of their monster-slaying mother and a magician’s curse. But now that Tru’s older, she’s starting to wonder if her older sister’s tales were just comforting lies, especially because there’s nothing fantastic about her own life—permanently disabled and in constant pain from childhood polio. 

In 1909, after a two-year absence, Od reappears with a suitcase supposedly full of weapons and a promise to rescue Tru from the monsters on their way to attack her. But it’s Od who seems haunted by something. And when the sisters’ search for their mother leads them to a face-off with the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish beast that’s wreaking havoc in the Mid-Atlantic states, Tru discovers the peculiar possibility that she and her sister—despite their dark pasts and ordinary appearances—might, indeed, have magic after all.

Why I Picked It: I’ve been wanting to read this one for ages and I’m extremely excited that my library snagged a copy so early! I’m not sure what it is about Cat Winters, but I can’t seem to NOT binge read her books. Fingers crossed that the trend continues!

The Shelf: From LEQ to LES: Adventures in Extreme Reading (Phyllis Rose)

theshelfDescription from Goodreads: Can you have an Extreme Adventure in a library? Phyllis Rose casts herself into the wilds of an Upper East Side lending library in an effort to do just that. Hoping to explore the “real ground of literature,” she reads her way through a somewhat randomly chosen shelf of fiction, from LEQ to LES.

The shelf has everything Rose could wish for—a classic she has not read, a remarkable variety of authors, and a range of literary styles. The early nineteenth-century Russian classic A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov is spine by spine with The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. Stories of French Canadian farmers sit beside those about aristocratic Austrians. California detective novels abut a picaresque novel from the seventeenth century. There are several novels by a wonderful, funny, contemporary novelist who has turned to raising dogs because of the tepid response to her work.

In The Shelf, Rose investigates the books on her shelf with exuberance, candor, and wit while pondering the many questions her experiment raises and measuring her discoveries against her own inner shelf—those texts that accompany us through life. “Fairly sure that no one in the history of the world has read exactly this series of novels,” she sustains a sense of excitement as she creates a refreshingly original and generous portrait of the literary enterprise.

Why I Picked It: Honestly, I was just checking whether or not my library had finally gotten Jenny Lawson’s last book, Furiously Happy, (spoiler: they didn’t) and I happened to notice that the entire shelf above that spot was books about books! This one sounds kind of fun…and like something I would probably do myself. 😉


So what are you currently reading? 🙂

Book Review – Creative Woman Mysteries Series

Book: Creative Woman Mysteries (series) – Author: Multiple

Genre: Fiction, Cozy Mystery

Description of Book 1 from the website:

Strands of Fate will introduce you to Shannon McClain, who has been in mourning since the tragic death of her husband three years ago. With two children to raise and her money running out, she receives a mysterious letter from the United States, informing her she has just two weeks to claim a large inheritance — part of which is a fortune in jewels that can only be found by solving cryptic clues stitched in a needlepoint by her late grandmother. But she is blindsided when she meets an aunt and uncle she never knew existed, who are most unhappy she has arrived.

Stay away from Apple Grove ... or else.

You’ll share Shannon’s fear and excitement as she uses the last of her late husband’s insurance money to travel with her best friend Coleen from their small village in Scotland to a quaint town in the northwestern United States. But right before they are to leave, she finds a threatening note nailed to her door — written in red ink, dripping like blood.

“Stay away from Apple Grove… or else,” it warns.

My Review:

I’ve read the first seven books so far and this is a fun little series. The books are well written, easy to read, and easy to follow. Each of the mysteries has been unique and complex, but not TOO complex. 😉 They are also short, which can be pretty nice when you aren’t feeling up to a long, mind-bending novel.

I really enjoy the characters. Shannon, the protagonist, is very likable and caring. The “Purls”, her group of friends, all seem like very nice people, the sort I’d like to hang out with myself. Really complicated and woeful characters are interesting and all, but sometimes you just want to escape into something fun and easy, with characters you relate to and enjoy.

The main romantic interest is also a nice guy; no angsting over the baddy in this series, (at least not so far, they DID just introduce a possible second love interest, so we’ll see what happens on that front). I will say, I liked the pacing on the romance in this series. None of that “I MUST HAVE HIM NOW” crap that you usually get in cozy mysteries. Shannon is still grieving her husband and wants to take things slow, but isn’t opposed to opening herself up for a new relationship; I admire her for that.

Now for the cons. 😉

I get a little tired of all of these cozy mysteries taking the mickey out of law enforcement. Why is the cop always completely focused on a single (usually incorrect) suspect? Why do the protagonists ALWAYS think they can figure things out better than the professionals? I know, I know, we wouldn’t have a story otherwise, but it gets a little old. And these books are not exempt. Regardless of the fact that Shannon is repeatedly told that she doesn’t know all the aspects of the investigation, she still believes that Officer Grayson is completely wrong in his suspects and decides she has to investigate herself in order for justice to win the day. To be fair, she usually DOES figure out who the bad guy is…while they are trying to kill her.

Which leads us into the second con. Why on earth don’t these cozy mystery protagonists EVER take death threats seriously?!? Shannon at least (usually) has the smarts to tell Grayson when she receives a threatening note (which is virtually always the modus operandi for threats in this series, haven’t these people ever heard of telephones?), but she still races after suspects in the dark and insists on confronting people she thinks are murderers. Sigh.

Regardless of my venting, I actually AM enjoying this series. The mysteries are interesting. In just the first few books, we’ve had a scavenger hunt for a lost necklace, a murdered ex-husband, poisoned cupcakes, a dog show, and long-lost relatives. And I usually don’t have a clue who the culprit is until they try to murder Shannon at the end of the book! 😉

It’s been an interesting run so far and I’m curious to see where it will go. I’ve still got 5 more books in the series, so fingers crossed!

Similar Book(s):

Crewel World – Monica Ferris

Shadows At The Fair – Lea Wait

Night Of The Living Deed – E.J. Copperman

 

 

T5W – Haunted and Haunting

Hello all! This week’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is: Favorite Creepy Settings! I’m going to give you guys 5 spooky books where the author does a fabulous job of using the creepy setting to enhance the story.

The Screaming Staircase (Jonathan Stroud)

screamingstaircaseFor more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions. Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest, most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive. — This one surprised me. It’s listed as a middle grade book, so I wasn’t expecting it to freak me out as much as it did. There’s actual danger, a good story, and a haunted house so scary that even Stephen King would approve. I literally slept with my lights on after I finished it. Great book!

The End Games (T. Michael Martin)

13228537Seventeen-year-old Michael and his five-year-old brother, Patrick, have been battling monsters in The Game for weeks. In the rural mountains of West Virginia, armed with only their rifle and their love for each other, the brothers follow Instructions from the mysterious Game Master. They spend their days searching for survivors, their nights fighting endless hordes of “Bellows”—creatures that roam the dark, roaring for flesh. And at this Game, Michael and Patrick are very good. But The Game is changing. The Bellows are evolving. The Game Master is leading Michael and Patrick to other survivors—survivors who don’t play by the rules. And the brothers will never be the same. — I know some people find solace in the woods, but I can’t help it, the woods have always scared the bajeezes out of me. So reading a zombie novel set in the woods was probably not the best of ideas. 😉 Being from WV myself, though, I had to give this one a try. Pitch dark forests, old mines, burned out ghost towns, and my own capitol overrun by zombies & crazies alike…what a great horror novel!

Wayward Pines series (Blake Crouch)

wayward-pines-series

From the first book: Secret service agent Ethan Burke arrives in Wayward Pines, Idaho, with a clear mission: locate and recover two federal agents who went missing in the bucolic town one month earlier. But within minutes of his arrival, Ethan is involved in a violent accident. He comes to in a hospital, with no ID, no cell phone, and no briefcase. The medical staff seems friendly enough, but something feels…off. As the days pass, Ethan’s investigation into the disappearance of his colleagues turns up more questions than answers. Why can’t he get any phone calls through to his wife and son in the outside world? Why doesn’t anyone believe he is who he says he is? And what is the purpose of the electrified fences surrounding the town? Are they meant to keep the residents in? Or something else out? Each step closer to the truth takes Ethan further from the world he thought he knew, from the man he thought he was, until he must face a horrifying fact—he may never get out of Wayward Pines alive. — Ever meet someone who seemed a little TOO friendly? That’s basically how this series starts out, with a town that’s a little too Stepford Wives to be believable. The whole setting is just offputting, which really enhances the suspense. If you like the Twilight Zone and don’t mind a bit of gore, this series is for you!

The Mist (Stephen King)

themistIt’s a hot, lazy day, perfect for a cookout, until you see those strange dark clouds. Suddenly a violent storm sweeps across the lake and ends as abruptly and unexpectedly as it had begun. Then comes the mist…creeping slowly, inexorably into town, where it settles and waits, trapping you in the supermarket with dozens of others, cut off from your families and the world. The mist is alive, seething with unearthly sounds and movements. What unleashed this terror? Was it the Arrowhead Project—the top secret government operation that everyone has noticed but no one quite understands? And what happens when the provisions have run out and you’re forced to make your escape, edging blindly through the dim light? — Stephen King is BRILLIANT at taking completely normal surroundings and turning them into the scariest places on earth. In this case, the local supermarket turns first into a refuge from the monsters outside and then into a madhouse containing it’s OWN monsters. I actually read this in the original novella format (and liked the ending WAY better than the movie) so I’d recommend starting there.

House of Dark Shadows (Robert Liparulo)

houseofdarkshadowsWhen the Kings move from L.A. to a secluded small town, fifteen-year-old Xander is beyond disappointed. He and his friends loved to create amateur films . . . but the tiny town of Pinedale is the last place a movie buff and future filmmaker wants to land. But he, David, and Toria are captivated by the many rooms in the old Victorian fixer-upper they moved into–as well as the heavy woods surrounding the house. They soon discover there’s something odd about the house. Sounds come from the wrong directions. Prints of giant, bare feet appear in the dust. And when David tries to hide in the linen closet, he winds up in locker 119 at his new school. Then the really weird stuff kicks in: they find a hidden hallway with portals leading off to far-off places–in long-ago times. Xander is starting to wonder if this kind of travel is a teen’s dream come true . . . or his worst nightmare. — This one also surprised me. I came into it not expecting very much and ended up ADORING it. Basically the setting is this old, creepy house where each room is a portal to another time. It’s REALLY COOL. And actually dangerous, which doesn’t seem to happen often in children’s books. I definitely recommend this one for kids who don’t scare too easily.


How about you guys? What book settings completely freaked you out?

Top 5 Wednesday – I Put A Spell On You

Hello all! I haven’t done a Top 5 Wednesday in quite some time, but I LOVE the topics they chose for October so I’ll probably try to keep my hand in this month. 🙂

This week’s Top 5 Wednesday Topic is: Books Featuring Witches.

A Night in the Lonesome October (Roger Zelazny)

lonesomeoctoberLoyally accompanying a mysterious knife-wielding gentleman named Jack on his midnight rounds through the murky streets of London, good dog Snuff is busy helping his master collect the grisly ingredients needed for an unearthly rite that will take place not long after the death of the moon. But Snuff and his master are not alone. All manner of participants, both human and not, are gathering with their ancient tools and their animal familiars in preparation for the dread night. It is brave, devoted Snuff who must calculate the patterns of the Game and keep track of the Players—the witch, the mad monk, the vengeful vicar, the Count who sleeps by day, the Good Doctor and the hulking Experiment Man he fashioned from human body parts, and a wild-card American named Larry Talbot—all the while keeping Things at bay and staying a leap ahead of the Great Detective, who knows quite a bit more than he lets on. — Since everything is told from the Dog’s perspective, you only discover things as he does, so I had quite a lot of fun trying to figure out who was who in this book. Not a very scary tale, but enjoyable nonetheless.

A Tale Dark & Grimm (Adam Gidwitz)

taledarkandgrimIn this mischievous and utterly original debut, Hansel and Gretel walk out of their own story and into eight other classic Grimm-inspired tales. As readers follow the siblings through a forest brimming with menacing foes, they learn the true story behind (and beyond) the bread crumbs, edible houses, and outwitted witches. Fairy tales have never been more irreverent or subversive as Hansel and Gretel learn to take charge of their destinies and become the clever architects of their own happily ever after. — This was a really interesting take on the old fairy tales. The author manages to have the kids run through quite a few of the them, changing things around to make it one continuous story. He keeps the grisly nature of the originals, though, so keep that in mind before handing it to your kid to read.

Dark Witch (Nora Roberts)

darkwitchIona arrives in Ireland with nothing but her Nan’s directions, an unfailingly optimistic attitude, and an innate talent with horses. Not far from the luxurious castle where she is spending a week, she finds her cousins, Branna and Connor O’Dwyer. And since family is family, they invite her into their home and their lives. When Iona lands a job at the local stables, she meets the owner, Boyle McGrath. Cowboy, pirate, wild tribal horseman, he’s three of her biggest fantasy weaknesses all in one big, bold package. Iona realizes that here she can make a home for herself—and live her life as she wants, even if that means falling head over heels for Boyle. But nothing is as it seems. An ancient evil has wound its way around Iona’s family tree and must be defeated. Family and friends will fight with each other and for each other to keep the promise of hope—and love—alive… — This was my first ever Nora Roberts book! Not being a romance-y person, I had avoided her until now, but this was such an interesting story that it completely pulled me in, romance and all! 😉

The Excalibur Murders (JMC Blair)

3312838Merlin is no magician, merely a scholar and advisor to King Arthur. But after the supposedly magical Stone of Bran is stolen along with the legendary sword Excalibur and one of Arthur’s squires is brutally murdered during the theft, Merlin must use the power of reason to conjure up a miracle and catch a murderer. — Does Morgan Le Fay count as a witch? She’s really more of a sorceress, but she’s totally awesome so we’ll go with it. This was a fun little mystery book!

The Bone Witch (Rin Chupeco)

bonewitchTea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human. Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves. — I haven’t actually read this one yet, but it’s written by the author of The Girl From The Well (which I LOVED) and it has really good reviews, so fingers crossed!


While trying to find books for this list, I realized I haven’t read very many books with witches! Got any suggestions?

Book Review – Borne

Book: Borne – Author: Jeff VanderMeer

Genre: Fiction, Sci-Fi, Dystopia

Description from Goodreads:

In Borne, a young woman named Rachel survives as a scavenger in a ruined city half destroyed by drought and conflict. The city is dangerous, littered with discarded experiments from the Company—a biotech firm now derelict—and punished by the unpredictable predations of a giant bear. Rachel ekes out an existence in the shelter of a run-down sanctuary she shares with her partner, Wick, who deals his own homegrown psychoactive biotech.

One day, Rachel finds Borne during a scavenging mission and takes him home. Borne as salvage is little more than a green lump—plant or animal?—but exudes a strange charisma. Borne reminds Rachel of the marine life from the island nation of her birth, now lost to rising seas. There is an attachment she resents: in this world any weakness can kill you. Yet, against her instincts—and definitely against Wick’s wishes—Rachel keeps Borne. She cannot help herself. Borne, learning to speak, learning about the world, is fun to be with, and in a world so broken that innocence is a precious thing. For Borne makes Rachel see beauty in the desolation around her. She begins to feel a protectiveness she can ill afford. 

But as Borne grows, he begins to threaten the balance of power in the city and to put the security of her sanctuary with Wick at risk. For the Company, it seems, may not be truly dead, and new enemies are creeping in. What Borne will lay bare to Rachel as he changes is how precarious her existence has been, and how dependent on subterfuge and secrets. In the aftermath, nothing may ever be the same.

My Review:

Honesty upfront, I didn’t finish this book. I made it about 100 pages in before I gave up and took it back to the library.

“So why are you reviewing it?” 

Well, I personally didn’t enjoy this book, but I think it had a lot of potential and I can see where a lot of YOU might like it, so I wanted to put it out there.

Borne had a lot going for it. The description is intriguing, it has decent reviews, the cover is weird & beautiful…and I’m also apparently on a sci-fi kick, so that helped. 😉

The main character, Rachel, is a pretty kickbutt lady. She lives off the land and makes things work, continuing to survive despite the horrific landscape. The fact that she can still find it in herself to care for this creature she randomly finds one day, especially in the circumstances under which she lives, is admirable. (And extra props to the author for not attributing it to ‘female hormones’. I kept waiting for the reference to ‘maternal instincts’ but it never came. Thumbs up!)

The author is also great at world building, which is essential for a good sci-fi. You get really great “on the ground” descriptions of everything, from the poisonous river to the ruinous buildings to the weird, mutated creatures. The author does sneak in glimpses of how this strange world came about, but the main focus is on the here and now.

Also…GIANT BEAR. I’m still really intrigued as to how Mord came about. And what’s with all the bugs being used for everything, from medicine to memory enhancers to weapons? And the weird fish with the human face? And what the frick is Borne?!? I don’t want to spoil anything for those interested in reading the book, so I’ll stop there. Needless to say, I have A LOT of questions.

“Sounds like you actually liked the book. Why didn’t you finish it?”

Honestly, I really just wasn’t feeling this one. Put it down to actually not liking the book or the fact that I had just finished one I REALLY liked so it had a lot to live up to…whatever you want to go with. I’m not a huge fan of dystopias to begin with, so something about it has to grab me pretty early on in order for me to want to finish it. That just didn’t happen in this book. As intriguing as I found the world, it wasn’t enough to keep a hold of me.

And as much as I admired the main character, I didn’t really like her. Rachel is a hard person; completely understandable in her position, but not easy to empathize with. Considering there were only three real characters in the book, the other two of which barely spoke, not caring about the main character at all was a major drag.

Also, I couldn’t stand the writing style. Which isn’t to say it was bad, just not my cup of tea. I have difficulty with “train of thought” books and, while this wasn’t QUITE the same thing, it didn’t really have enough structure for me to read easily. The pacing was also EXTREMELY slow, which worked really well in the last book I reviewed (The Long Earth), but was just annoying in this one. ::shrugs::

I guess what I’m saying is: I didn’t really like this one, but if you like dystopias, weird sci-fi, or kickbutt female protagonists you should definitely try it out! As for me, I’m going to get started on the second book in the Long Earth series. 😉

Similar Book(s):

Hmm, I’d say This Savage Song (Victoria Schwab) but that’s not really similar at all…

We’ll just go with one of the Jeff VanderMeer’s other books: Annihilation