A Good and Happy Child by Justin Evans

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

What makes a good boyfriend you ask?  One who buys you books for Valentine’s Day, the only way to my heart!  I will have to say, I was quite impressed with his choice.  I had asked for another book, which he also got me as well as this one he picked out on his own.  The book cover looks a little intimidating to say the least.  The back cover states that this is a story caught between The Exorcist and The Omen.  Let me tell you a little bit about, A Good and Happy Child….

The story brings us to meet the main character, George Davies.  He can’t bring himself to hold his newborn son. After months of accepting his lame excuses and strange behavior, his wife has had enough.  She demands that he see a therapist, and George, desperate to save his unraveling marriage and redeem himself as a father and husband, reluctantly agrees.  Soon George starts to recall how he was a social outcast and how the mysterious death of his father after a visit to Honduras made him even more of a social pariah.  It was around this time when he needed a friend when suddenly a Huck Finn prototype appears outside his bedroom window looking very much like George himself.  At first this friend makes George happy and then things start to change and the friend starts to tell George things about his father and about his father’s friend – about letters and secret longings.  The question is: Is the Friend real, and a demon, or is George mentally ill and performing the violence himself from some subconscious need? The authorities believe the latter, but friends of George’s father believe the former, because of beliefs the father held.  When violent acts start to take place, a tug of war ensues for the right to help George; it becomes psychiatrist versus religion. Who is right?

The story is creepy and you can’t really decide if George is mentally ill or if he is truly possessed.  Just as you’re convinced he’s mentally ill, an event happens that is definitely supernatural- an event seen by two other people.  This introduces a third option- that there is a poltergeist, activated by George’s subconscious turmoil.

 

This book is a horror story that reminds me a lot of some of what was written in the 70s- The Exorcist, The Omen. It has the same ability to make the skin crawl because of the uncertainty as to what is real- and how far the violence and evil may go.  This is an excellent book that teases the reader into wondering if it is a psychological thriller or a supernatural horror novel. How you interpret it will depend on what psychological baggage you bring into this book with you.  A great debut novel from Justin Evans!

The Gates: A Samuel Johnson Tale (Samuel Johnson vs. the Devil #1) by John Connolly

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Samuel Johnson and his Dachshund Boswell were out walking when they noticed something strange happening at 666 Crowley Road.  It seems the Abernathy’s (who are not bad people, just bored) have decided to draw a pentacle on the floor and call on a nasty demon. Unfortunately, as the same time elsewhere in Europe, scientists are testing the new super collider and it happens to create a spark that opens a passage to the underworld and poor Samuel Johnson can see the Gates of Hell itself.  The Abernathy’s are not so lucky, and their souls are lost as their bodies are taken over by demons who want to open the gates of Hell and let in the Great Malevolence into our world.  Samuel feels the need to stop this from happening, but who will listen to an 11 year old boy? And who is the demon Nurd (the Scourge of Five Deities) and why does he keep appearing then disappearing?

Told in a great comic style with wonderful silly footnotes, this is a wonderful little book that can be read in a short amount of time but really enjoyed on so many levels.  The characters are lively, the situations suspenseful and the writing is terrific. It even leaves a little bit of a hint at a sequel.  I highly recommend this novel, I’ve already started on the next one!

Finding Sky (Nicki Valentine Mysteries, #1) by Susan O’Brien

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Review By: Joann Koontz

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

A widow, a mother of two and a P I (almost), Nicki Valentine is asked to help her long time friend and neighbor, Kenna,  to find Beth.  Beth, 8 months pregnant,  is the birth mother for Kenna and Andy.  Everyone, including the police, believe Beth is a run away.  Nicki, with the help from her PI instructor, the ever good looking, Dean, goes searching for Beth.  With the help of day camp and her mother babysitting, Nicki takes us on a ride that is terrifying and humorous. Plus, don’t miss some of the romance.  Where is Beth? Is she alive?   Why are gang member shooting at Nicki? All this and more…..curl up with this book and a warm cup of tea.  Adventure and laughter awaits!!

Prodigy (Legend #2) by Marie Lu

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Prodigy wasn’t just good, it was spectacularly written, the plot was crafty, and so much better than Legend. Prodigy had its own main plot and it didn’t aimlessly go on like some middle books. The stakes are so much higher here; we have an assassination plot, finding people, trying to start a revolution against the Republics, and a lot of backstabbing. What is surprising was alliances were formed that we wouldn’t have expected, not in a million years.  Prodigy is also told from both Day and June’s point of view.  Don’t go thinking there is much romance and a love triangle or square, because throughout the book, the romance was insignificant to me in comparison to the big plans going on.  Yes, there is progression in the romance, some heartbreaks and a horrible cliffhanger, but for the most part Marie Lu stuck to the true meaning of the dystopian genre.  I loved that Day and June spent a big portion of the novel apart because this way Lu was able to cover a big portion of the plot and more action.The direction of the plot that Lu took hooked me.  The assassination plot allowed the whole book to progress in a way that kept the readers excited as well as allowed her to give us hints and here and there and create a few subplots, such as the relationship between Day and Tess. I also loved how Day and June have become celebrities in the eyes of the population and how Marie Lu used the whole revolutionary theme to free America in Prodigy.  In terms of the characters, I found Day to be a tiny bit to be easily mistrustful of June and easily persuaded by the people around him. As for June, I think she out shined everyone in Prodigy.  I have to admit that I wasn’t the biggest fan of her in Legend but she stole my heart in Prodigy.  She was kick butt, rational, logical, never lost sight of the plan and faithful.  We also have the new Elector who I surprisingly warmed up to.  All in all, I would highly recommend fans of Legend to pick up Prodigy as soon as possible, and for fans of dystopian novels who haven’t picked up Legend, to do so as soon as possible!

Wolf Winter by Cecilia Ekbäck

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‘Wolf winter,’ she said, her voice small. ‘I wanted to ask about it. You know, what it is.’
He was silent for a long time. ‘It’s the kind of winter that will remind us we are mortal,’ he said. ‘Mortal and alone.’

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Part thriller, part historical fiction, exceedingly atmospheric, with dynamic characters and an overall story that will stay with the readers long after the book has been read.  In the early 18th century, Paavo, Maija, and their daughters Frederika and Dorotea arrive from Finland to Swedish Lapland in the hopes of creating a better life for themselves.  They heard goats on the mysterious and haunting Blackåsen Mountain.  One day Frederika happens upon a dead body, which is all too quickly dismissed as a wolf attack.  Maija refuses to believe Ericksson’s death was a wolf attack and delves deeper into the secrets held within the area of Blackåsen.  All too soon the season turns bitterly cold, coined the wolf winter, and as the winter increasingly becomes harsh, the families are forced to move closer to each other for survival, a necessary move, yet Maija believes there is a murderer in her midst and is mistrustful and wonders if they will make it to spring.  Wolf Winter is a very dark story filled with 18th century rituals and beliefs that surrounded Sweden, the rituals of the Swedish Church, and more importantly the Blackåsen area.  Wolf Winter is such a well-written book; it is easy to feel as though one is there with Maija, Frederika, and Dorotea. I would highly recommend this book to all readers who enjoy well-written mysteries and thrillers.  I did wish though at the end that the author would have shed more light on Maija and Frederika’s gifts.  That would have really made the story better.   I look forward to reading other works by Cecilia Ekbäck.

*Featured Author of the Month…Adina Rishe Gewirtz*

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I’m a person who’s always been fascinated both with people and with language. From the time I was very young, I loved listening to the sound of voices, and all the stories people told about themselves, their lives, and their relationships. I guess that’s as good a description of me as any. Otherwise, I’m not that distinctive, but I never do think people are as interesting on the outside as they are on the inside.

Sierra:  When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?

Adina: I started writing when I was pretty young – I remember I wrote a little novella that had to do with a girl plagued by annoying brothers. At the time, that was my attempt at veiled autobiography. When I was 12 years old, I read To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, and was so taken with it that I decided right then I had to be a writer too. After that, I never really changed my mind.

 

Sierra:  Tell us a little bit about your first book or the first book in the series.

Adina: My first novel was Zebra Forest, which is the story of a brother and a sister, Annie and Rew, who grow up in a house full of secrets. They don’t even really know the story of their own family, which leaves them with a hole that they try to fill with stories. At a certain point, they find out what they were missing, and in a very explosive way.

 

Sierra: How did you choose the genre you write in?

Adina: I just write what’s on my mind. Sometimes it’s realistic fiction, sometimes its fantasy. My next book is a fantasy, Blue Window, which should be coming out next year.

 

Sierra: What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write?

Adina: Almost every chapter in that book held a lot of pleasure for me, but I most loved the times when Annie and Rew are talking together.

 

Sierra:  Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

Adina: I take a few things from life, but only minor details. For example, in Zebra Forest, the kids know their grandmother grew up in Chicago. Mine did, and so I developed that little bit of biography from real life. Everything that happens to the Snow family in the book, however, is fiction, which my family is happy about, since some of it is hard to live through.

 

Sierra: Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?

Adina: Well, Harper Lee made me into a writer, and when I was younger, I read To Kill A Mockingbird something like 15 times, just to figure out how she did what she did. I also learned a lot from reading the incredible fantasy writer Ursula LeGuin, and also J.D. Salinger, who I was absolutely devoted to while in college.

 

Sierra: Do you ever experience writers block?

Adina: All the time! I find that it has to do with the stage I’m at in the book. Beginnings are very hard. I take a lot of walks and long drives while trying to figure out how to start a book.

 

Sierra: Is there an author that you would really like to meet?

Adina: Harper Lee, of course. Also Ursula LeGuin. Love them both!

 

Sierra: Will you have a new book coming out soon? If so, can you tell us about it?

Adina: My next book, Blue Window, should be out next year. It’s a fantasy in which five kids find themselves in another world, where they’ve got a lot of challenges to face. It’s a complete departure from Zebra Forest, but as I said, I like to write across genres.

 

Sierra: If you could go back and do it all over again, is there any aspect of your first novel or getting it published that you would change?

Adina: Probably not, now that I’m looking back on it. It took a long time to get published (I began writing it while in college!) but I learned so much over the years that if I had been lucky enough to have it published then, I don’t think it would have been as good a book.

 

Sierra: Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Adina: Keep writing, and don’t lose hope, even if it takes a long time. And read a lot – other authors are the best teachers.

 

Sierra: Is there anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?

Adina: I’d just like to thank all the people who’ve read Zebra Forest, especially the kids who’ve written to me. One of the things I like best about writing is getting to have a conversation with my readers, and every letter or email I get is part of that conversation.

 

CLICK ON THE BOOK TO READ MY REVIEW!~

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Lost Legacy (Zoe Chambers Mysteries #2) by Annette Dashofy

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Reviewed By: Joann Koontz

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Paramedic Zoe Chambers and her partner, Earl, are called to a farm accident.  On arriving they find the owner of the farm hanging in the barn. Figuring it is a suicide, Zoe then finds out that 45 years earlier, two other farmers had also hung themselves in that same barn. Coincidence? Not hardly.  As Zoe gets closer to the truth, people that she has talked to about the 45 year old suicides, are killed.  What is going on?  Zoe finds herself in danger as she gets closer to the truth.  There is a sense of community in this book. Small town living in a rural community. These characters are ones you want to live among and become friends with.
A relaxing read and a twist at the end. Enjoy!!