Jul 31, 2015

A Glance Back at July

We mom's have a secret mission – to be the cool one in front of our children and their friends. So on our return from a field trip, I took my son and his friends to Leatherby's - a delicious ice cream parlor. This made me think, Selecting a new book is a lot like deciding on what flavor of ice cream to have. We all have it – that one flavor that is sure to please. I'm of the boring sort; vanilla always satisfies. But the plethora of options made me want to try something new. Salted caramel to be exact. I love caramel; I enjoy salt. What could go wrong? My taste buds completely objected. Which is the case with the psychological thriller, The Girl on the Train. It is a publishing sensation I couldn't resist. Unfortunately, it is definitely a salted caramel.



The Scribe (Irin Chronicles 1)
by Elizabeth Hunter

THE SCRIBE, BY Elizabeth Hunter, is an exciting journey into a secret world of ancient evil and powerful magic set against the backdrop of...
The Singer (Irin Chronicles 2)
by Elizabeth Hunter

WITH SUCH A dramatic ending in The Scribe, the only thing that kept me from immediately burying my nose in Elizabeth Hunter’s The Singer...
The Secret (Irin Chronicles 3)
by Elizabeth Hunter

I SAT DOWN one morning in July with a steamy cup of coffee and The Secret with the intent of reading a chapter, or two at most. Somehow...
The Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins

I'M COMPLETELY TORN! My feelings for The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins, is like a ping pong ball volleying between...

Jul 27, 2015

The Girl on the Train

The False Prince book cover

by Paula Hawkins
book review rating 3 out of 5

I'M COMPLETELY TORN! My feelings for The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins, are like a ping pong balls volleying between like and dislike. Despite the engrossing psychological thriller, I could not identify with or enjoy the characters themselves. Could you like a book if you didn’t like any characters? Ms. Hawkins has written three disturbing and intense narratives of characters that are extremely troubled and shamelessly irresponsible: the meddling drunk, the beautiful cheater, and the paranoid home wrecker.

Rachel Watson takes the train between Ashbury and London for work. During her hour-long commute, she passes by the house where she and her ex-husband Tom used to live. Four doors down is an attractive couple – “Jess and Jason.” She believes them to be the perfect, loving couple until one morning Rachel spots “Jess” romantically kissing a stranger, only to find out the next day on the news that “Jess” – Megan Hipwell – has gone missing. Rachel is questioned by the police after Tom’s new wife, Anna, reports that Rachel was near Megan’s home, drunkenly out of control, at the time of her disappearance. But, Rachel doesn’t remember…

And, she doesn’t remember often. Her constant state of inebriation followed by blackouts were highly, highly irritating. But, she does play a pivotal role in Megan’s disappearance and has a few redeeming qualities that eventually won me over, if barely.

Reading The Girl on the Train is a lot like witnessing a train wreck (pun intended). I know it’s gruesome and yet I cannot divert my eyes away. The bones hidden in each narrator’s closet is horrific and magnetic. I don’t want to go into too many details; like all thrillers, it’s best for readers to dive in spoiler-free. Ms. Hawkins carefully unravels the mystery of everything we think we know, until she reveals the riveting climax we didn’t see coming.  SURPRISE!

Your Story Awaits
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Jul 20, 2015

The Secret (Irin Chronicles 3)

The Secret book cover

by Elizabeth Hunter
book review rating 4 out of 5

I SAT DOWN one morning in July with a steamy cup of coffee and The Secret with the intent of reading a chapter, or two at most. Somehow, I ended up hours later with the last sip of my coffee long taken, the breakfast dishes untouched in the sink, and an overflowing basket of laundry begging for my attention. Fortunately, it wasn’t a complete waste of a day. I’d like to think of it as feeding my imagination – a crucial skill for any designer. You understand, don’t you hubby? 😉

The Secret, by Elizabeth Hunter, is a fantastic last book to end the Irin Chronicles trilogy. I thought I had Ms. Hunter figured out – that she builds her story slowly to conclude with a BANG! I was so happily wrong. The Secret is engaging from the start. She draws you into the story with love, valor, and redemption, and maintains a consistent and exciting storyline that will have your heart racing time and time again as it unfolds.

Ava and Malachi’s love for one another has helped them survived some of their hardest days. But, the darkest days has yet to come. With Malachi still recovering his memories of the warrior he was once, and Ava continuing to uncover the secrets of her origin (btw, the secret is huge), can they discover the light to save their dying race (actually races because of said secret)? The answers lie with a group of powerful allies, but to surrender them, they want the Irin to play a pivotal role in their own agenda. Meanwhile time is running out as the Grigori forces descend upon Vienna and the Irin world to once and for all annihilate the entire race.

The story is very engaging in many respects: flow of action, unveiling of secrets, etc. My favorite has to be the ambiguity of how Ms. Hunter presents the notion of good verses evil; that is, the two camps are not mutually exclusive. Can a Grigori be heroic? What if an Irin murders? Many times I thought I knew who was friend and who was foe, but Ms. Hunter kept me guessing until the very end.

While The Secret is the conclusion of Ava and Malachi’s journey, I’m thrilled that Ms. Hunter is not quite ready to leave the Irin world just yet. She still has many stories to tell. I do hope that Ava and Malachi will return as guests in those stories. Nevertheless, they and others will be fondly remembered.

DIGRESSION: I know many of you can relate to finishing a book in one sitting. ;) Which book was it that captivated you so completely that you could do nothing but just enjoy the moment and escape into that world? Please share. Thanks!

Your Story Awaits
THE SCRIBE on sale for $.99 for a limited time on Kindle to celebrate the release of THE SECRET on March 19th, 2015. Regular retail price $4.99.
Price subject to change without notice.

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Jul 13, 2015

The Singer (Irin Chronicles 2)

The Singer book cover

by Elizabeth Hunter
book review rating 4 out of 5

WITH SUCH A dramatic ending in The Scribe, the only thing that kept me from immediately burying my nose in Elizabeth Hunter’s The Singer (Irin Chronicles 2) was the time it took to download it onto my Kindle. Luckily, that was only a stretch of ten minutes or so, and I was blissfully back in the Irin world.

Ava lost everything she loved. Now she must find the courage and strength to continue on with a new identity and a new magic she can barely contain. With the support of Malachi’s scribe brother, Damien, Ava is welcomed into the hidden retreat of the fabled Irinas. Orsala, a powerful Irina empath, trains and guides Ava to embrace and control her dark and undiluted magic, but not before Ava unknowingly and innocently speaks the old language Vashama canem – “Come back to me.”

Thousands of miles away, a warrior wakes with no recollection of his identity. Anchored by a single voice that calls to him, Malachi has only one mission – he must find a way back to Ava. With scheming Fallen angels, deadly Grigori attacks, and even a potentially corrupt Irin counsel, the odds are stacked heavily against them. Can Malachi find Ava before it’s too late?

I really enjoyed the new cast of characters in The Singer. The Irinas are formidably females. We begin to see why they are revered, treasured, and protected by their male counterparts. Chief among them is Sari, Damien’s mate. Their story is a subplot full of heated passion and tantalizing tension, and delves deeper into the Irin world after the Rending.

Ms. Hunter ends her story with a lot of excitement. She meticulously lays the foundation for her characters to launch off into a high-intensity chase. Readers will follow along breathlessly to the end. But that’s not all; she ends with an epilogue that is a cliffhanger of a new mystery. Don’t worry, though. The Singer has a complete and satisfying closure. You won’t be left hanging, just excited for The Secret (Irin Chronicles 3).
Your Story Awaits
THE SCRIBE on sale for $.99 for a limited time on Kindle to celebrate the release of THE SECRET on March 19th, 2015. Regular retail price $4.99.
Price subject to change without notice.

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Jul 6, 2015

The Scribe (Irin Chronicles 1)

The Scribe book cover

by Elizabeth Hunter
book review rating 4 out of 5

THE SCRIBE, BY Elizabeth Hunter, is an exciting journey into a secret world of ancient evil and powerful magic set against the backdrop of an exotic and beautiful Istanbul.

Hidden at the crossroad of the world is an ancient and powerful race. An Irin’s magic is written; an Irina’s magic is spoken. Mated, they are nearly invincible. Except, the Irinas have vanished. Those who remain continue to protect humanity from the ravenous Grigori forces even as they die from within. There hasn’t been an Irina spotted in over 200 years, that is, until now.

From childhood, Ava Matheson has always been surrounded by relentless whispers in a language unknown to mankind. She’s traveled around the globe and studied countless languages, yet still the origins to these mysterious whispers remain elusive. She finds herself in Istanbul in search for answers to quiet the whispers but instead finds an unspoken voice so powerful it resonates to her very soul. Malachi, a stoic Irin warrior, finds Ava a miracle amongst his race and has sworn to keep her safe at all costs…even from himself.  

Ava is an eccentric character. She’s worldly, creative, and compassionate – a strong yet delicate female. However, she can be mercurial. Her polarized reactions are far and few between. Unlike other reviews I’ve read, I find it slightly distracting, not unforgivable.

Despite that, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed The Scribe. It’s a fast-pasted contemporary fantasy book with a good mix of suspense, adventure, humor, and romance. Plus, the story ended with such an unexpected cliffhanger. Ms. Hunter is such a tease, dangling a huge carrot in the last chapter. I’ve succumbed to the temptation and have already read halfway through The Singer even as I’m finishing this review. You’ll definitely want to have book two of the Irin Chronicles ready.

Your Story Awaits
ON SALE for $.99 for a limited time on Kindle to celebrate the release of THE SECRET on March 19th, 2015. Regular retail price $4.99.
Price subject to change without notice.

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Jul 1, 2015

A Glance Back at June

FIVE HIGHLY PRAISED authors across several different genres conclude this month's list of book reviews. June's common theme was simply about the exploration of new authors. I hope I have piqued your interest in at least one of them. Enjoy and happy July 4th!



Gathering Blue (Giver Quartet 2)
by Lois Lowry

LOIS LOWRY CONTINUES to create a unique world in her second volume of The Giver quartet. In Gathering Blue, she intricately...
Outlander (Outlander Series 1)
by Diana Gabaldon

Outlander is the ultimate escape that reads like a dream! New York Times bestselling author, Diana Gabaldon, brings us an epic tale of...
The Shadow Throne (Ascendance Trilogy 3)
by Jennifer A. Nielson

IT'S ALWAYS QUITE bittersweet to reach the end of a series, particular one that I have enjoyed thoroughly and has tucked me into...
A Monster Calls
by Patrick Ness, Jim Kay (illustrator)

IT DOESN'T HAPPEN very often, but A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness, is a heart-wrenching story that moved me to...
A Discovery of Witches
by Deborah Harkness

CURSE MY INABILITY to stop reading a book once I’ve started! Double curse that it’s a long, long book!! Perhaps, I was bewitched...