Book Review – Who Watcheth by Helene Tursten

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Who Watcheth is a mystery/thriller by the Swedish author, Helene Tursten. A serial killer is on the loose in and around Goteborg, Sweden. He watches his prey, building up a fantasy in his mind that he is in a relationship with the women, and then when they commit what he considers a sin, he kills them. He also leaves photos he’s taken of them committing the sin, a white chrysanthemum, and a note with a Bible verse on it days before he kills them. His M.O. is specific, he always uses a cord with knots in them to strangle his victims and leaves behind some telling clues. The one victim who got away recalled that he had an abhorrent odor about him. Irene Huss is a detective on the Goteborg police department and along with her colleagues, she sets out to find the killer. During the course of the story, Irene has some problems of her own with a woman who wants vengeance for the deaths of her children. She directly blames the police department and Irene in particular, adding an additional round of suspense to the story.

What I enjoyed most about the novel is the interactions that Irene has with both her husband and her colleagues. Her character is well-rounded and well-developed. The other characters are well-developed too. The story unfolds at a nice pace – not too slow or quick, just right. I also enjoyed the police procedural. The suspense keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout and the attack scenes are well-written.

Unfortunately, I guessed who the killer would be long before it unfolded in the story because it was just so blatantly stereotypical, and he didn’t appear to be as sophisticated as I had assumed he would be. I won’t say more so as not to spoil it for other readers. I will let them make their own determination.

All in all, this is a well-written novel with a good plot, great characters and a suspenseful conclusion. I just wish the killer had lived up to my expectations so I could have given it a higher rating.

Note: I won a copy of this novel on Goodreads Giveaway for a fair and honest review.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Genre(s): Thriller, Mystery, Police Procedrual

To Purchase: Amazon

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Book Review – Wind Catcher (Chosen #1) by Jeff Altabef and Erynn Altabef

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Wind Catcher (Chosen #1) is a Young Adult novel by the father/daughter duo, Jeff Altabef and Erynn Altabef. The reader is introduced to teenager Juliet Wildfire Stone whose life balances between two worlds, that of the rich and wealthy who attend an elite high school called Bartens and that of her Native American heritage. While Juliet tries to fit in at her new school, she is also taught the wisdom of her heritage by her grandfather, Sicheii. Along the way, you meet Juliet’s friends – Katie who also attends Bartens and has a father who will soon go to jail, Troy who is Native American and lives near the reservation and attends a normal high school, and Ella and Marton who are friends of Juliet’s from her former school. Juliet has a special gift. She hears voices and when she dreams, she has visions of her Native American heritage. All of this confuses Juliet, but soon becomes clear as a series of murders occur and are tied to her grandfather. Juliet and Troy embark on a journey to discover what the strange tattoos mean, why her grandfather is involved in a secret society and what all of it has to do with Juliet.

Wind Catcher takes the reader on a wild ride of fantasy, science fiction and Native American lore. As the story unfolds, the reader will learn about the Great Wind Spirit, Coyote, a demon, and the Seeker. The plot is complicated, but unfolds in a well-written series of events. Juliet is the Chosen and she must stop the Seeker, an alien, from destroying all she holds dear as well as Earth itself. The characters are all well-developed and even a bit complicated through their woven relationships. The Altabefs do an excellent job with settings, from Juliet’s school, to Slippery River, the town, and all of the vision worlds Juliet visits. The battle scenes near the end are exciting and well described.

What I loved most about this novel is the Native American lore sprinkled throughout the story. You can tell that the Altabefs spent an enormous amount of time researching it to make it believable, even though they do not link any one particular tribe or nation to it. I also loved the science fiction elements to this story, which the read will discover near the end.

Wind Catcher is one of the most original stories I have read. It has mystery, adventure and aliens. Who could want for more? I highly recommend this first novel in the Chosen trilogy for anyone who enjoys fantasy and science fiction. Although it is categorized as Young Adult, I believe even adults will enjoy it. I know I did.

Note: I received a free copy of this novel for a fair and honest review.

Rating: 5 stars

Genre(s): Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult, Native American Lore

To Purchase: Amazon

Book Review – Escape From Witchwood Hollow by Jordan Elizabeth

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Escape from Witchwood Hollow by Jordan Elizabeth is a YA fantasy novel. Elizabeth introduces us to Honoria, a fifteen year old who lost her parents in the 911 attacks. Along with her brother Geoffrey and aunt and uncle, they leave New York City and the tragedy behind to settle in the small upstate community of Arnn. Arnn holds many secrets and legends. Witchwood Hollow is one such legend. It is said that anyone who wanders in never returns because of the witch who lives in the woods. Honoria and her new friend Leon set off to uncover the truth of Witchwood Hollow, finding more than just a legend.

This novel is told in three time periods – the 1600s, the 1800s, and 2001 – and weaves together a story  of family histories, lost loved ones and reunions. The story begins in 2001 with Honoria and her family’s arrival in Arnn. Then switches to the 1600s where Lady Elizabeth Clifford, the witch who, accused of murder, stumbles into the woods and makes it her home. It continues in the 1800s with Albertine who travels from England to live with her father in Arnn, but gets lost and trapped in the woods. Other characters are woven throughout and add richness to the tale. The story then switches back and forth between these time periods as it unfolds to reveal a deranged witch, a vengeful curse of sorts and the need to save all of Arnn from the witch’s control.

I really enjoy the plot of this novel. It is original, entertaining and keeps you guessing until the very end to figure out how everything ties together.  All of the characters are well-developed and distinctive. Elizabeth does a great job of keeping all of their personalities separated and original. The settings, especially Witchwood Hollow, are descriptive and well-written.

The only problems I had with the novel are 1) not being able to like the character Honoria at the beginning of the novel. She is snobbish and a bit glib in her interactions with others and reminded me of people I’ve avoided most of my life. However, during the course of the novel, I grew to understand her and like her more, especially after she begins to interact with Leon. And 2) I wasn’t overly impressed with all of the clothing descriptions in the 2001 parts of the book. I do understand why they are there – a city girl comes to the country and there is the need for distinctions to be made between the previous lifestyle and the current one she is living in. These two issues only barely detract from the great story being told.

If you enjoy paranormal stories with witches, then you will definitely find this novel entertaining. It is not your usual witchy story and that makes it a step above other novels with similar themes.

Note: I was given a free copy of this novel for a fair and honest review.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Genre(s): Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult

To Purchase: Amazon

Book Review – Nutribullet Soup Recipe Book by Stephanie Shaw

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Nutribullet Soup Recipe Book:  Low Carb Nutribullet Soup Recipes for Weight Loss, Detox, Anti-Aging & So Much More! (Recipes for a Healthy Life) (Volume 3) by Stephanie Shaw is an unusual cookbook. It’s not only about soup, or health, or nutrition (although it is about all of those things), but it is specifically about how to create delicious, healthy soups using a Nutribullet blender.

In the first two chapters of Shaw’s unique book, she lays out her case about how nutritious soups can be used for weight loss, detoxing and anti-aging. She also gives details about the health benefits of certain ingredients she uses throughout this cookbook. In the third chapter, she gives details about how to make these soups using a Nutribullet blender. These first three chapters are well researched and documented, as well as easy to understand. In the remaining seven chapters, Shaw breaks down recipes into health-affirming categories: Healthy Heart, Detoxification, Weight Loss, Healthy Skin, Energy Boost, Anti-Aging Effects and the use of Superfoods.

What I like most about Shaw’s recipes are 1) each is only for 2 servings, which means you won’t be wasting ingredients or making large pots of soup that could potentially go bad, but you could easily double or triple the ingredients for a larger family; 2) the ingredient lists are simple, usually everyday ingredients that one would have in their home; 3) there is a nutritional breakdown for each soup (calories, fat, carbohydrates and protein); and lastly, step by step explanation for making and processing the soup.

One needs to keep in mind that since you will be using a Nutribullet blender, these will be blended soups. So nothing chunky here. This is good for two reasons, the soups can be easily drank for their health benefits, and can be used for young children and the elderly whose dental health may not be formed or up to par.

Before completing my review, I wanted to try some of the recipes. I decided to make the Carrot Squash Thyme Soup (page 16) for the Healthy Heart, the Cucumber Mint Soup (page 39) for Detoxification, the Fresh Asparagus Garden Soup (page 61) for Weight Loss, and the Minestrone Soup (page 97) for Energy Boost. All of these soups were easy to make, used easy to purchase ingredients and took little to no time to make. The results were delicious and refreshing.

I did an experiment on my own by freezing the Carrot Squash Thyme Soup and the Fresh Asparagus Garden Soup, just to see what would happen if I did make a larger batch and wanted to save the soups for a later time. I froze each soup for three days, unthawed them, and heated them up on the stovetop. While they still tasted fine, they did not have the same freshness as on the day of first making them. My suggestion is to only make what you will use that day to get the optimal freshness and health benefits of the soups.

For anyone who has or plans to buy a Nutribullet and wants great soup recipes, I highly recommend this book. You will not be disappointed with the quality information given here or the well-researched and presented recipes.

Note: I was given a free copy of this book by the author for a fair and honest review.

Rating: 5 stars

Genre(s): Cook book, Health & Nutrition, Nonfiction

To Purchase: Amazon

Book Review – Lace Bone Beast by N.L. Shompole

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Lace Bone Beast: Poems & Other Fairytales for Wicked Girls by N.L. Shompole is one of the most profound and engrossing books of poetry that I have read since reading The Death Notebooks and Live or Die by Anne Sexton in college. I am constantly reminded of the Confessional Poets throughout Shompole’s book because her poetic style mimics those of Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath and Robert Lowell, although Shompole has her own distinctive style. The poems, prose poems called fairytales by Shompole and the meditations all are unusually haunting. Shompole uses various literary devices such as repetition, imagery that flows consistently throughout the series and metaphors that give cohesion from beginning to end of the book. Her themes include love, death, and survival, reminiscent of wisdom shared from one woman to another in life’s struggles.

One image that Shompole uses repeatedly in this collection is bones, an image that resonates with and has always fascinated me. So naturally, I was sucked into each and every poem, prose poem and meditation that involved it. Other images are birds, dreams, monsters and seasons. All of these create a cascade of stark emotions that feed the reader’s soul and touches one on deeper levels than you’d expect.

The theme of love in this collection is both romantic and tragic, revealing the beauty and monstrosity that love can bring into a person’s life. Death is used not only as an ending, but also as a beginning, the process of birth, life and death as natural progressions. And survival is a theme used not only as cautionary, but also as empowerment.

Shompole reminds the readers to hold onto their dreams, to be cautious with their heart, to protect their bodies and yet, to be softened by life’s tragedies, not to be hardened by them. Monsters are real, love can sting, and yet life is also like the changing seasons, sometimes harsh and sometimes a breath of fresh air.

Shompole opens the book with these words:

Here is emptiness. Here is a mouth after a recent excavation, black with soot, devoid of kisses. Here are hands, trembling against the soft ache of morning, here are eyes, wet, wide, half-full of sky and loneliness. Here is belly, back, femur, spine, ragged and smooth all at once, all at once. Here are dreams, ink black and speckled, lost behind the eyes. Here is a muted elegy, crow’s feet feathered over the eyes like lace. Here are the last strains of a dirge, wild, discordant, free. – The Lacemaker

And closes it with these:

Remember,
everything that matters
comes slowly, the teeth
the bravery, the strength
the softness

– Meditations for the Soft-Hearted

Everything in between will leave you just as awed and breathless.

Lace Bone Beast is a beautiful collection of poetry, prose poetry and meditations that leaves me in awe. I’ve devoured it cover to cover twice since receiving a digital copy for review. I am so impressed that I had to own a book copy for my personal collection. I not only highly recommend this collection, I insist, that if you are a collector of poetry, this is one book you will definitely want in your collection.

Note: I was given a free copy of Lace Bone Beast for an honest review.

Rating: 5 stars

Genre(s): Abstract Poetry

To Purchase: Amazon

Book Promotion – Charlene the Star by Deanie Humphrys-Dunne

I am once again proud and honored to feature  another of Deanie’s children’s book here on my blog. Her books are so uplifting and an encouragement for children. She promotes self-esteem, positive messages, and an “I can do anything!” attitude throughout her books. If you are looking for a gift for a child – your own or a niece or nephew – one or all of Deanie’s books would make a wonderful gift. You can see book promos for Deanie’s other books here, here and here

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About Charlene the Star

Charlene the Star was born into a family of famous racehorses. Unlike her big brother, Charlie, Charlene decides she doesn’t like racing. How will she explain this to her mom? How does she show her trainers she doesn’t like racing? Will she become a model instead? Will Charlene discover her natural gift? Her career path takes many twists and turns before she finds her place to shine. You’ll love reading about Charlene’s adventures. She may surprise you with her unusual talent.

Charlene the Star is first in the series of Charlene the Star books. The others are Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes and Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog. In addition, she wrote an award-winning children’s autobiography, Tails of Sweetbrier and a fictional story, Charlie the Horse. Her books have won a number of awards and recognitions.

Deanie loves spending time with her family and their dog, Elliott. She also enjoys watching equestrian events, figure skating competitions and baseball.

Deanie’s sister, Holly Humphrys-Bajaj, beautifully illustrates their books. Holly’s passion for Art began at an early age under the guidance of famous artist, Ray Quigley. Holly earned a Fine Arts degree from Southern Methodist University. She dedicates her talents to children’s book illustrations, equestrian and pet portraits.


Quotes from Charlene the Star: (these are thoughts from Charlene the Star)

I should change the subject. Ann and Blossom are talking about racing. I’m not even sure I’ll like it. Everyone has different gifts, but I don’t know what mine is. That’s kind of scary.

I wonder how you are trained to jump. Does that mean you can win prizes for jumping up and down? I liked jumping up and down during my tantrum. I’ve heard people say practice makes perfect. My outbursts could be almost perfect already. Maybe that could be my specialty.

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Excerpts from reviews of Charlene the Star:

Charlene the Star is another delightful story by Deanie Humphrys-Dunne…

By Virginia Wright on February 9, 2017

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

“Charlene the Star was born into a family of famous racehorses. She had beautiful dark red hair, brown eyes, and nice long legs just perfect for being a racehorse. However, Charlene decides racing is not for her. Charlene does not know how to tell her mother this. Quite a dilemma for a youngster. You will have to read Charlene the Star to find out what happens next in this delightful story by Deanie Humphrys-Dunne. I recommend this book for young readers 7-12, and especially for those who are horse lovers.”

 

“This beautiful book has much to offer to young readers but it will also assist parents in raising happy, confident and successful children. Readers will find amazing illustrations, exquisite writing and plenty of life lessons in this delightful and educational book. It is a labor of love! Most highly recommended!!” From review by Yosef Lapid

 

“This is a story about a plucky horse that found her own friends—and her own path—to happiness and success. It’s a story about perseverance, friendship, and most of all, a belief in oneself and in finding the things that make you happy…and then pursuing them with every ounce of energy you can muster.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the beautiful illustrations by Holly Humphrys-Bajaj.”  From review by Theodore J. Cohen

 

To Purchase: Amazon

Website: www.childrensbookswithlifelessons.com


About the Author:

Peach and Me

Deanie Humphrys-Dunne is a children’s book author with five books published at this time: Award-winning autobiography, Tails of Sweetbrier, Charlie the Horse, Charlene the Star, Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes and Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog. All of her books offer positive messages for children. Her sister, Holly Humphrys-Bajaj, beautifully illustrates her books and designs the covers. All books are available on Kindle and paperback. Her books have won a number of awards and recognitions.

Deanie has been featured on several author websites and interviewed on WTNH.com/CTStyle television program.

Deanie’s emailDeanie’s Blogspot Blog | Deanie’s WordPress BlogAuthor’s Facebook Page | Memories of Sweetbrier Farm Facebook Page

Free chapters of Tails of Sweetbrier and Charlie the Horsehttps://payhip.com/deaniehd

 

Book Review – Boogerman’s House by Dax Varley

Boogerman’s House by Dax Varley is a ghost story plus. The old farmhouse has a bad reputation and as such, it acts as the main character in this novella, a place of murder and suicide. There are three prior occurrences – a murdered family by the hands of the father and his suicide after, the death/suicide of two sisters, and finally, the suicide of a famous horror writer who hangs himself in the barn. Three teenagers – Will, Ryan, and Teagan – set off to the house to spend the night gathering information for an article they plan to write for their school paper. One of the teens has an alternative agenda. Will they survive the night? Or will Boogerman’s House claim three more lives?

Although this novella can be a quick read, it does not mean that Varley denies the reader of well-developed characters. The house, Will, Ryan, and Teagan all come to life before your eyes with their own distinctive personalities and the ghosts will definitely scare you. The setting, a notorious haunted house, is so well-described that at times it left shivers down my spine. And the plot is well thought-out and followed through until the very last line (which will also leave chills!).

I love the ease of the storytelling in this novella. Varley doesn’t mince words. There are very few suspenseful build-ups. Instead, she mostly ops for the real-life gotchas, which put the readers right there with each of the characters in the moment of their attacks. I also enjoyed how the author, using both the personal and the impersonal, allowed the house to get inside the heads of the characters. If you love a good ghost story, then this is the story for you.

Notes: This novella has been renamed – Nightmare House. I received a copy of the originally titled novella from Goodreads Giveaway in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Rating: 5 stars

Genre(s): Horror/Young Adult/Paranormal

To Purchase: (Under new title) Amazon