Friday, January 13, 2017

Review: UNTIL JANUARY by Mary Whitney (a novella)

This is about a single, 30-something woman who is crushing on HLG (Hot Lawyer Guy) with a girlfriend (Bitchy Law Snob.) She’ll be spending Christmas alone, which depresses her to no end. I also find pity invites to be annoying. She’s just jealous of everyone because they have plans and special someones (her ex is engaged, her crush is unrequited.) So relatable!

Then, suddenly, HLG becomes single again, and the two embark on this winter romance in NYC. The romance between them is a little long. I did not find the religion topic too stimulating. But I’m glad they had a good time with each other during the holidays. It turns out that having no plans was the best plan of all.

My rating: 3.5 stars

Review: FRIENDS TO THE GRAVE by Kate Archer (novella)

10-year old Jack is a hardcore computer gamer. On a short visit to his grandma’s, he and his friend, Danny, visit an abandoned orphanage. And just like the “warriors with the magic swords,” the two embark on a dark and mysterious adventure…..and encounter horror.

A well-written and enjoyable story!

My rating: 4 stars

Review: POSSESS by J.A. Howell

Stumbling off the bus in Midtown, Harley Martin thought she found an escape from her old life.

She soon realizes it was anything but that.

Low on cash and options, she manages to find herself a cheap but surprisingly nice apartment. The catch? The last tenant, Brody Walsh, killed himself.

Or did he?

As disturbing dreams and hauntings start to occur, Harley realizes there may be much more behind the previous tenant’s death than a simple suicide. She finds her life further entangled with his when she learns that her new boss, Nolan, was also his best friend. Could this handsome but evasive pub owner have something to do with Brody’s death?

Trying to piece together the events surrounding Brody’s death proves to be a daunting task, but Harley can’t give up. Brody won’t let her. He is still in the apartment with her, trapped in limbo until she finds his killer.

But he’s not waiting for revenge.

Harley’s next.

My thoughts: All Harley wanted was to be free, free from a man who made her life a living hell. My god, and that was BEFORE the vows! I would've poisoned the bastard. Him being alive still puts you at risk, even if you run far, far, far away.

When she finds that nice, perfect apartment at a VERY LOW price, it sounds too good to be true. What's the catch? How about the fact that someone died in it?
It seems that Harley has an unwanted roommate--a ghost! (Or, at the very least, haunting images of a ghost.) How creepy to be haunted!

It was interesting seeing Harley argue with the ghost. Yeah, she was losing it, but, hey, someone was after to her.

Don’t be fooled by the horrific cover of the scary, freaky woman on the cover (seriously, the woman looked like Linda Blair). The book is not a horror.

The mystery was intriguing, but the Irish/Scottish dialogue was hard to understand sometimes. Some parts seemed to lag a little, but it was a captivating and well-written story nonetheless.

My rating: 3.5 stars

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Review: RUNNING ON EMPTY by R.M. Clark

A long-celebrated tradition and an empty time capsule. What could be worse for the small town of Chepstow?

This shouldn’t be a big deal for 14-year old Kasey, but yet she can’t help but wonder what happened to her mother’s letter. Things get even stranger when she sees an apparition in her camera view finder. What the? Who was this lady?

“This whole time capsule/historian thing was the weirdest, by far.” (40)

“It is not a matter of where they are, but when.” (49)

Enchanting from the start, story was full of mystery and history. There were a few dry areas here and there, especially as we get knee-deep into the historical facts, but, overall, this was a well-rounded and thoroughly researched story. Kasey was a precocious and inquisitive kid—a suitable hero for today’s YA readers. She was like a combo of Indiana Jones and Marty McFly.  

Audiences will cheer on as the heroes trek through clues and “voyage” through time to find the missing memory box.

History, conspiracies, time warps, and ghosts—that’s what you’ll get in this compelling, clever, little tale.

My rating: 4 stars

Review: RUNNING MAN by Jennifer Young

This is Book 3 of the Lake Garda series. The first book was great while the second was not so great.

In this book, we follow the story of Giorgia Manfredi, “a wealthy Cinderella in a golden cage.” Born into wealth but stuck working the family business in a luxury hotel in Italy’s Lake Garda, she yearns to break free and live her young life.  “The Hotel Villa Martino — set up by my grandfather, managed by my father, and the canvas on which my whole life was painted — was the place I would stay.” (13) Poor, little, rich girl.

On the other hand, Danny was a poor, working sap from the mean streets, always sneering to those rich, fortunate fools. But all he wants is a second chance, a chance to repent for his misdemeanors and live out the remainder of his life. “You couldn’t kill off a conscience, but you could wear it out…for a while.” (11)

Two people wanting a normal life, but still could not be any more different. When Danny rescues Giorgia from a mugging, the two are captivated by each other’s beauty, like Romeo and Juliet.

Overall, this was well-written. Oddly, Giorgia’s POV was written in the 1st person while Danny’s POV was in the 3rd person. Still, this does not detour in the dramatic tale, which had a few lagging areas. I kind of wished the story hadn’t deviated so much from the main characters, Giorgia and Danny. Instead, it all revolved around the Manfredi hotel and its patrons—characters I hardly cared for. Of course, the most endearing component was Giorgin and Danny, two misunderstood souls finding credibility and affection in each other.

The story between Giorgia and Danny was lovely, but I just found the rest of it to be superfluous and uninspiring. The best in the series was the first book.  

My rating: 3 stars

Review: CURSES by Calvin Dean

Martin Gallagher is a middle-aged bachelor, who recently moved into a house that seems to be haunted. But that’s ridiculous, right? It all started with a sudden appearance of a mysterious boy in his backyard. Then came the advice from the town’s clairvoyant, Madame Z. Help the boy? What could that possibly mean? And where were those noises coming from? Something’s obviously wrong with this house.

Suddenly, Martin gets tossed into the whirlwind of Stone’s Curse, and he must convince a ghost to kill another ghost. What in the world? How does one go about doing this?

But it turns out this was just the beginning. “A family of four ghosts occupied my home when the exorcism started. Three passed to the afterlife. One lingers.” (119) Odd thing is that Agnes (the ghost) is a spiritual seductress who is only tempting Martin to his weakest point. And, hey, the guy’s only human—unlike Agnes. I so enjoyed the comedic torture brought on by Agnes. It wouldn’t be so bad being haunted by Agnes, except for one thing... “One minute Agnes wants to seduce me. The next she tries to kill me. The woman is schizo. Psychotic.” (230)

Written in three-part sections, this book captivates the reader with its intellectual prose, avant-garde style, and dark irony. Author infused his character with a kooky sense of humor and witty dialogue, while exploring the sinister recess of a mysterious terror.  The best part about Martin is that he had virtually no clue how to get rid of a ghost. Hey, we’re not all ghost busters here. But he approaches it in a way that is both sensible and tactical while also carrying on with wry, unequivocal humor.

Curses is a riveting compilation of one ghost-hunt after another.

Very entertaining!

My rating: 5 stars

Thursday, January 5, 2017


This story started off innocent enough. Ziggy is a young tiger and he is feeling a little lazy after the last adventure (I haven’t read.) That little selfie is a bit odd. Looked to be nothing but a botched Photoshop project. Not exactly something you’d see in a kid’s book.

Then Ziggy notices something else. Everyone is looking at him strange and calling him fat. Well, what do you expect when you eat nothing but junk (burgers and fries and such.) Again, it was quite unsettling to see an actual photo? Wouldn’t it be better to have an illustration instead?

Book was filled with a lot of junk food pictures. Ziggy was sure out of control, and the only way to get him to eat better was because his mom offered to buy him a new smartphone. 

I liked how this book incorporates a chart for good eating habits. By thinking of the colors of the rainbow, Ziggy was able to name foods of that colors (red=apples, tomatoes, cherries; green=broccoli, spinach; etc.) This book promotes you to “Eat a Rainbow.” I also liked how his mom taught him never to judge by one’s shape. 

Overall, this was an okay children’s story. I mean, I would’ve appreciated more colorful illustrations rather than photographs, but this had a good message.

My rating: 3 stars