Book Review: Twelve Houses by Olga Soaje and Giveaway

portada twelvehouses finalTitle: Twelve Houses
Author: Olga Soaje
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase:  Amazon (Paperback), Amazon (Kindle)
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

What will she do now? Amelia Weiss wakes up alone, with the body of her husband cold beside her, dead. She cannot believe he has left her when he swore he never would. It is almost as if she is nothing without him.
But this novel is not about a man’s death. It is about a woman coming back to life. Slowly, painfully, a sensitive artist and mother makes new connections, finds new occupations, and rediscovers her place in the world.
Raised to believe a widow’s role is to take care of grandchildren and make grief her companion, Amelia takes a different path. She embarks on the most challenging year of her life.
She struggles to repair her broken relationship with her daughter and develops a second career in midlife. If she can find a way to allow herself to act in the face of her guilt and her daughter’s disapproval, she may even find love again.
This heartfelt novel is the story of a courageous woman’s spiritual rebirth. As Amelia begins to rediscover herself, readers will share in her refusal to give in to loss or to accept anything less than a rich and meaningful life.

After her husband passes away, Amelia Weiss goes through the most difficult period in her life. Without Nathan, she’s lost, clueless of what to do next. Even getting out of bed in the morning is nearly impossible. Sculpting, which always brought her joy, reduces her to tears. The love of her life is gone, and she’s left alone to pick up the pieces.
Her son, Davi, leads his own life in the city with his fiance. Her relationship with her daughter Chloe is strained. They’ve never gotten along well, and Nathan always had to act as the middle man. But now he’s gone, and there’s no one left to reconcile them. Chloe makes an effort when she asks Amelia to come visit her in the city, revealing her pregnancy and marriage troubles to her mother, who tries to help her in every way possible.
As they slowly grow closer to each other, Amelia finds a new love for yoga and gets back in touch with her old love for astrology. She learns how to make new connections and rediscover who she is and who she wants to be. And maybe, just maybe, she’ll find love again.
This novel talks about a courageous woman, who’s heartbroken at first, and slowly learns to put herself together again. Missing pieces are replaced by new ones, old friends by new friends, and she becomes whole again. It’s a heartfelt novel, just in time for the holiday, about loss, sadness, grief, and never giving up, about being loved from beyond the grave and feeling that love in everything you do. About making a new life for yourself when your loved ones are taken away. Many times throughout reading, I was reduced to tears.
With good writing, solid characters, and a keen sense of detail, Twelve Houses is a novel that will appeal to many people. I thought, since the protagonist is so much older than I am, and the topic is rather sad at first, it wouldn’t appeal to me, but I found myself rooting for Amelia, her personal growth, every minor victory, and feeling for her as if she was a long lost relative. So even if you don’t think this might be for you, at first, it’s worth giving it a shot.

Giveaway

You can win an eBook copy of the book by commenting below. Simple, right?
 

Book Review: The Beardless Man of Tornabia & Other Stories

THE BEARDLESS MAN BOOK - BOOK COVERTitle: The Beardless Man of Tornabia and other stories
Author: Bernice Agyekwena
Genre: Folklore and Children’s Tales
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon (UK), Amazon (US), The Book Depository, B&N
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

In the grand storytelling tradition of ‘One Thousand and One Nights’ comes “The Beardless Man of Tornabia & Other Stories” by Bernice Agyekwena.

‘The Beardless Man of Tornabia & Other Stories’ is a collection of original African fairy tales rooted in the traditional beliefs, practices, myths and cultural practices of the peoples of Africa. It shares the same characteristics with traditional fairytales from all over the world. These include common themes such as an ordinary girl getting married to a personage of royalty, deprived children finding a benefactor, as well as tales examining the eternal battle between right and wrong, good and evil.

So, re-discover Africa with this vivid and exciting collection of unique African fairy tales, deeply rooted in African myths, folklore and cultural traditions, with the very talented Bernice Agyekwena in her stunning debut work for children and adults of all ages.

When I heard this book was folklore, I had to try it out. I love folklore, children’s tales, fairytales and the likes. The Beardless Man of Tornobia & Other Stories was completely different from the books I’m used to reading. It was refreshing, and at the same time, surprisingly familiar. The stories may be completely different, but they tell us the same cautionary tales as European fairytales, except painted in a fresh, new color, and sketched more vibrantly than ever.

This is a collection of short stories / novellas of original African fairy tales, rooted in traditional beliefs, myths, cultural practices, and so on. Kind of like our tales of the brothers Grimm. They were a delight to read, and will probably be enjoyed by lots of adults – because the stories are new, it feels like revisiting your childhood all over again.

I loved “The Beardless Man of Tornobia”, “The Magic Firewood, The Magic Fan and the Magic Gourd” and “The Last Locust” the most. All stories were intriguing though, but those are my favorites.

If you want something completely different yet refreshingly familiar, this is your book.

 
 

Reading Challenge Addict 2014

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I love participating in challenges, so you could probably say I’m a Reading Challenge Addict. I’ll be participating in 5 reading challenges in 2014 at the moment, but knowing myself, it could quickly turn into a larger number.

This year, I want to keep track of the challenges I entered and completed, so I set up this page and signed up for the Reading Chalenge Addict challenge.

I’ll keep track of my progress here and in the sidebar.

If you want to sign up as well, go here.
Reading Challenges I’m participating in:

  1. 2014 Netgalley Reading Challenge
  2. 100 Books in a Year Challenge
  3. 2014 Horror Reading Challenge
  4. Dystopia Reading Challenge 2014
  5. Everything YA Reading Challenge

Progress:
Challenges completed:

2014 Everything YA Reading Challenge

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Since I read mostly YA books, I wanted to participate in a YA reading challenge for 2014. Then I stumbled upon the 2014 Everything YA Reading Challenge on Books and Iced Coffee, and I decided to sign up.

There don’t seem to be any levels in this challenge, so I will set a goal for myself. I want to read at least 30 YA books in 2014.

I’ll keep track of my progress here, through monthly updates, and in the sidebar.

If you want to participate in the challenge as well, go here.
Here are the books I reviewed for this challenge so far. Links point back to the reviews.

  1. Witch Finder (Witch Finder #1) by Ruth Warburton
  2. Harm by Kayti Nika Raet
  3. Inside the Tall, Thick Book of Tales by A.C. Birdsong
  4. Firebolt by Adrienne Woods
  5. Sins of the Fallen by Karina Espinosa
  6. The Nine Lives of Chloe King by Liz Braswell
  7. Devil in the Corner by Patricia Elliott
  8. The Soured Earth by Sophie Weeks
  9. Learning to Swim by Annie Cosby
  10. Mara (Unusuals #1) by Veronica Bane
  11. Miyuki (Unusuals #2) by Veronica Bane
  12. A Special Love by Krissy Bell
  13. Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
  14. And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard
  15. Witchstruck (The Tudor Witch Trilogy #1) by Victoria Lamb
  16. Between the Devil and the Deep, Blue Sea by Genevieve Tucholke
  17. The Six Days by Anna Carolyn McCormally
  18. Lake Thirteen by Greg Herren
  19. Blood Moon (The Ravenscliffs Series #3) by Geoffrey Huntington
  20. Accused (A Retaliation Novel #2) by Yasmin Shiraz
  21. Summer’s Shadow by Craig MacLachlan
  22. Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne
  23. The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co #1) by Jonathan Stroud
  24. The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe
  25. The Age of Amy: The Thumper Amendment by Bruce Edwards
  26. Gift by Andrea J. Buchanan
  27. The Truth about Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
  28. Disconnected by Lisa M. Cronkhite
  29. Adventures with Ragweed by Linda Lou Crosby
  30. Dollhouse by Anya Allyn
  31. Liminal Lights by J.M. Bogart
  32. Orange Blossom by Sarah Daltry
  33. Spelled (Amethyst #1) by Kate St. Claire
  34. The Affair by Olivia Grace

Since I already accomplished my goal, I didn’t keep track of this challenge from July and onward. If you want to see a rundown of the books I read and when, I suggest visiting my reading log, I Heart Yearly Reads.
 

Dystopia Reading Challenge 2014

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I’m participating in the Dystopia Reading Challenge for 2014, hosted by Blog of Erised. I love Dystopia, but I feel like I don’t get around to reading it often, so I want to change that.

For this challenge, I won’t go for the highest level. Instead, I’m aiming for level two, Rebel, which means I’ll have to read 7 to 12 dystopian books. Fingers crossed!

I will keep track of my progress here, through monthly updates, and in the sidebar.

If you want to sign up for this challenge as well, go here.
I’ll keep track of my progress here. Links point back to the reviews.

  1. Harm by Kayti Nika Raet
  2. Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne
  3. Made in Bionia by Grigory Ryzhakov
  4. Reckoning (Silver Blackthorn #1) by Kerry Wilkinson
  5. The Farm (The Farm #1) by Emily McKay
  6. The Lair (The Farm #2) by Emily McKay
  7. The 100 (The Hundred #1) by Kass Morgan
  8. Day 21 (The Hundred #2) by Kass Morgan
  9. To The Stars by Tiaan Lubbe
  10. Deviation by Christine Manzari
  11. Journal of a South African Zombie Apocalypse by Lee Hermann

I completed the challenge. Hurray!

2014 Horror Reading Challenge

horrorbutton2014

I love reading horror. Last year, I didn’t keep track of how many horror novels I read, and I’m hoping to change that this year by participating in the 2014 Horror Reading Challenge hosted by Midnyte Reader.

I’m planning to go for the highest level, “Horror Hounds”, which means I’ll have to read more than 16+ horror books.

If you’d like to sign up for this challenge as well, go here.

I will keep track of the books I read for this challenge here, in the sidebar and in monthly updates posts.

Here are the books I’ve read for this challenge so far. Links point back to the reviews.

  1. Dream of the Serpent by Alan Ryker
  2. Broken Sigil by William Meikle
  3. Menace by Gary Fry
  4. Buried Secrets by Gary Cecil
  5. The Fading Place by Mary SanGiovanni
  6. Dead Five’s Pass by Collin F. Barnes
  7. The Author by T.J. Blake
  8. The Woman in Black: Angel of Death by Martyn Waites
  9. Blood Kin by Steve Rasnic Tem
  10. Talking Walls and Cigarettes (And Other Dark Tales) by Erin Beck and Kelli Beck
  11. Nightcrawlers by Tim Curran
  12. Diaries of the Damned by Alex Laybourne
  13. Devil in the Corner by Patricia Elliott
  14. Marrow’s Pit by Keith Deininger
  15. The Unholy by Paul DeBlassie III
  16. Red Cells by Jeffrey Thomas
  17. Waking the Dead by Heather Graham
  18. DarkFuse #1 by Shane Staley (Editor)
  19. The Revenant of Thraxton Hall by Vaughn Entwistle
  20. Severed by Gary Fry
  21. Hell’s Door by Sandy deLuca
  22. I am the New God by Nicole Cushing
  23. The Unquiet House by Allison Littlewood
  24. Between the Devil and the Deep, Blue Sea by Genevieve Tucholke
  25. Ancient Enemy by Michael McBride
  26. Lake Thirteen by Greg Herren
  27. The Key to Everything by Alex Kimmell
  28. Numbers 16:32 by Brady Koch
  29. The Voices by F.R. Tallis
  30. Rogue by Greg F. Gifune
  31. Ash and Bone by Lisa Von Biela
  32. The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co #1) by Jonathan Stroud
  33. Reaping the Dark by Gary McMahon
  34. Deadlock by Tim Curran
  35. Dark Father by James Cooper
  36. The Janus Legacy by Lisa von Biela
  37. Savage by Gary Fry
  38. Dollhouse by Anya Allyn
  39. Deceiver by Kelli Owen
  40. Relic of Death by David Bernstein

I read plenty more horror books in 2014 but I didn’t keep up with the challenge anymore, since I’d already long surpassed it. If you want to see all the books I read in 2014, please go to my reading log, I Heart Yearly Reads, for a detailed overview.

100 Books in a Year Challenge 2014

100books-2

Last year, I read over 200 books, which was pretty awesome. To keep up the momentum, I’ll participate in the 100 Books in a Year challenge hosted by Book Chick City.

This challenge is open for books of all genres. I will keep track of my progress here, through monthly updates, and in the sidebar.

If you’d like to participate as well, you can sign up here.
I will keep track of my progress here.

January 2014

  1. Not Forgotten by Donna M. Zadunajsky
  2. Buried Secrets by Gary Cecil
  3. The Howling Heart by April Bostic
  4. Menace by Gary Fry
  5. Jack Canon’s Women of the House by Greg Sandora
  6. How to Write for Kindle: A Non-Fiction Book in 72 Hours or Less by Nancy Hendrickson
  7. The Continuing Journeys of a Different Necromancer by James J. Crofoot
  8. Inside the Tall, Thick Book of Tales by A.C. Birdsong
  9. Broken Sigil by William Meikle
  10. Father’s House by C. Edward Baldwin
  11. A Life Less Ordinary by Victoria Bernadine
  12. Harm by Kayti Nika Raet
  13. Fear Nothing by Lisa Gardner
  14. Dream of the Serpent by Alan Ryker
  15. House of Bathory by Linda Lafferty
  16. The House at Sea’s End (Ruth Galloway #3) by Elly Griffiths
  17. Company of Liars by Karen Maitland
  18. The Emperor’s New Clothes by Aldous Mercer
  19. Witch Finder (Witch Finder #1) by Ruth Warburton

Total: 19 books

February 2014

  1. Forgotten Burial by Jodi Foster
  2. The Fading Place by Mary SanGiovanni
  3. Firebolt by Adrienne Woods
  4. Dead Five’s Pass by Collin F. Barnes
  5. The Author by T.J. Blake
  6. Even Hippies Get The Blues by Michel Lee King
  7. The Woman in Black: Angel of Death by Martyn Waites
  8. Blood Kin by Steve Rasnic Tem
  9. Sins of the Fallen by Karina Espinosa
  10. The Nine Lives of Chloe King by Liz Braswell
  11. Talking Walls and Cigarettes (And Other Dark Tales) by Erin Beck and Kelli Beck

Total: 30 books

March 2014

  1. By My Choice by Christina Blackthorn
  2. Forever Doomed by MaryAnn Kempher
  3. Nightcrawlers by Tim Curran
  4. Diaries of the Damned by Alex Laybourne
  5. Devil in the Corner by Patricia Elliott
  6. How to Clear Your Home of Ghosts and Spirits by Debi Chestnut
  7. Haunted Rock & Roll by Matthew L. Swayne
  8. Fighting Malevolent Spirits by Samantha E. Harris
  9. Finding Fire by K.R. Robidoux
  10. Marrow’s Pit by Keith Deininger
  11. Bird of Prey (Sémya Slotin #1) by Danielle-Claude Ngontang Mba
  12. The Plot Thickens (Sémya Slotin #2) by Danielle-Claude Ngontang Mba
  13. The Unholy by Paul DeBlassie III
  14. Blood Relations (Family by Choice #1) by Caroline Frechette
  15. The Soured Earth by Sophie Weeks
  16. Community Service by Dakota Madison
  17. Learning to Swim by Annie Cosby
  18. Red Cells by Jeffrey Thomas
  19. Mara (Unusuals #1) by Veronica Bane
  20. Brothers in Arms (Family by Choice #2) by Caroline Frechette
  21. Miyuki (Unusuals #2) by Veronica Bane
  22. Dark Energy by John O’Riley
  23. Passion, Power and Privilege by Cara Addison
  24. Waking the Dead by Heather Graham
  25. A Special Love by Krissy Bells
  26. DarkFuse #1 by Shane Staley (Editor)
  27. The Revenant of Thraxton Hall by Vaughn Entwistle
  28. Zenith (The First Book of Ascension) by Dirk Strasser
  29. The Serpent’s Fate (Vigilati #3) by J.K. Hogan
  30. Equinox (The Second Book of Ascension) by Dirk Strasser

Total: 60 books

April 2014

  1. Severed by Gary Fry
  2. Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
  3. And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard
  4. The Dybbuk and Other Writings by S. Ansky
  5. Alex (Verhoeven, #2) by Pierre LeMaitre
  6. Hell’s Door by Sandy deLuca
  7. Ghostly Tales by Billy Roberts
  8. I am the New God by Nicole Cushing
  9. Eye Spy by Tahir Shah
  10. The Unquiet House by Allison Littlewood
  11. Eclipse (The Third Book of Ascension) by Dirk Strasser
  12. Wolf Legend by Florence Witkop
  13. Witchstruck (The Tudor Witch Trilogy #1) by Victoria Lamb
  14. Between the Devil and the Deep, Blue Sea by Genevieve Tucholke
  15. When We Fall by Peter Giglio
  16. Catcher’s Keeper by J.D. Spero
  17. The Starlight Club by Joe Corso
  18. Surviving by J.L. Sprague
  19. Reflection of the Gods by Lisa Llamrei
  20. The Six Days by Anna Carolyn McCormally
  21. Haunted Ontario 3 by Terry Boyle
  22. Ancient Enemy by Michael McBride
  23. The Author Training Manual by Nina Amir
  24. King of Cups by Alex Flyn
  25. She Walks in Darkness by Evangeline Walton
  26. The Uncovering by Jes Young
  27. Lake Thirteen by Greg Herren
  28. Blood Moon (The Ravenscliffs Series #3) by Geoffrey Huntington
  29. Accused (A Retaliation Novel #2) by Yasmin Shiraz
  30. Summer’s Shadow by Craig MacLachlan

Total: 90 books

May 2014

  1. The Key to Everything by Alex Kimmell
  2. Numbers 16:32 by Brady Koch
  3. Benighted by A.M. Dunnewin
  4. Crossing Forbidden Lines by J.W. Baccaro
  5. Surviving the Angel of Death by Eva Mozes Kor and Lisa Rojany Buccieri
  6. The Voices by F.R. Tallis
  7. Rogue by Greg F. Gifune
  8. Waiting for You by Heather Huffman
  9. The Taming by Atticus Krum
  10. Five by Ursula P. Archer
  11. Policing the Paranormal by Paul Hope
  12. Blood Moon by T. Lynne Tolles
  13. This Could Have Been Our Song! (Coulda Woulda Shoulda Song #1) by Danielle-Claude Ngontang Mba
  14. Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne
  15. Hangman by Stephan Talty
  16. Ash and Bone by Lisa Von Biela
  17. Dead of Knight by Nicole J. Persun
  18. The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co #1) by Jonathan Stroud
  19. The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe
  20. Inquisitor by R.J. Blain
  21. The Frost of Springtime by Rachel L. Demeter
  22. The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose
  23. This Would Have Been Our Song! (Coulda Woulda Shoulda Song #2) by Danielle-Claude Ngontang Mba
  24. Between Friends by Amanda Cowen
  25. Reaping the Dark by Gary McMahon
  26. Made in Bionia by Grigory Ryzhakov
  27. The Age of Amy: The Thumper Amendment by Bruce Edwards
  28. Ghost Sanctuary by Becky J.
  29. The Trials of Caste (Paladin of a Hidden God #1) by Joel Babbitt
  30. First Comes Love, Then Comes… by T.C. Wheeler
  31. Gift by Andrea J. Buchanan
  32. Deadlock by Tim Curran
  33. The Cursed by Heather Graham
  34. Eerie America by Eric R. Vernor and Kevin Eads
  35. An American Girl in Italy by Aubrie Dionne
  36. Wolf’s Heart by Cam Cassidy and Ruelle Channing
  37. Into the Heart of Evil (Paladin of a Hidden God #2) by Joel Babbitt
  38. To Live Forever by Andra Watkins

Total: 128 books

June 2014

  1. The Truth about Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
  2. Dark Father by James Cooper
  3. Disconnected by Lisa M. Cronkhite
  4. Adventures with Ragweed by Linda Lou Crosby
  5. The Janus Legacy by Lisa von Biela
  6. Earth Cell (The Ux-Blood Trilogy #1) by Charles Brass
  7. Hold Still by Lisa Regan
  8. Savage by Gary Fry
  9. Dollhouse by Anya Allyn
  10. Francesca of Lost Nation by Lucinda Sue Crosby
  11. Liminal Lights by J.M. Bogart
  12. Orange Blossom by Sarah Daltry
  13. Deceiver by Kelli Owen
  14. Spelled (Amethyst #1) by Kate St. Claire
  15. Triumph! A Battle Plan for Joy by Gladys Simmons Carson
  16. Relic of Death by David Bernstein
  17. Sister Surrendered by Darla M. Grese
  18. Sex and Sensibility by Derek Ansell
  19. Shadow’s Moon by Jami Gray
  20. The Affair by Olivia Grace

Mini-Reviews for this month:

  1. Mini-Review: The Iron Traitor, Of Triton, Some Quiet Place
  2. Mini-Review: Hanging by a Thread, Renegade, Wicked Kiss
  3. Mini-Review: Winter Chill, Lynnwood, Now You See Me
  4. Mini-Review: Auraria, Devil’s Bargain and Grounds to Kill
  5. Mini-Review: Dead Letter Office, As She Left It, Shakespeare vs. Lovecraft
  6. Mini-Review: Innocent Darkness, Enchanted Ever After, Sister Assassin
  7. Mini-Review: The Lynching of Louie Sam, Scent of Magic, Cold Remains

Total: 158 books, and 21 mini-reviews equals 179 books.

December

Since I already passed this challenge several months ago, I didn’t keep track of it anymore. According to Goodreads, the total number of books I read in 2014 is an astonishing (well, I certainly was amazed) 401.
You can see my progress, which books I read and when, on my reading log, I Heart Yearly Reads.

2014 Netgalley Reading Challenge

2014netgalleychallenge

Since most of my reading food comes from Netgalley, I decided to participate in the Netgalley challenge the moment I read about it. The challenge is hosted by Aeriel Avalon and it’s actually quite simple: read a number of books you’ve got from Netgalley during 2014.

I’m going for the hardest difficult level: hardcore. Which means I have to read 21+ books in the Netgalley reading challenge. I’ll track my progress each month, and add books that work for this challenge to this post.

You can also read about my progress in the sidebar.

If you’d like to participate in the challenge as well, you can sign up here.
Here are the books I’ve reviewed for this challenge so far. Links point back to the reviews.

January 2014

  1. Witch Finder (Witch Finder #1) by Ruth Warburton
  2. House of Bathory by Linda Lafferty
  3. Dream of the Serpent by Alan Ryker
  4. Fear Nothing by Lisa Gardner
  5. Broken Sigil by William Meikle
  6. Menace by Gary Fry

My Netgalley ratio at the end of this month was 36.4%.

February 2014

I ended up requesting a bunch of books from Netgalley. Bad move. My Netgalley ratio dropped, and I didn’t read all the books I requested.

  1. Forgotten Burial by Jodi Foster
  2. The Fading Place by Mary SanGiovanni
  3. Dead Five’s Pass by Collin F. Barnes
  4. Blood Kin by Steve Rasnic Tem

My Netgalley ratio at the end of this month was 36,7%.

March 2014

I seem unable to stop myself from requesting books, even though I want to bring my Netgalley review ratio up. Either way, I’ve scheduled some reviews for next month (that would be April, then) to catch up on old books I requested on Netgalley some time ago, so hopefully that’ll bring my ratio up.

  1. Nightcrawlers by Tim Curran
  2. Devil in the Corner by Patricia Elliott
  3. How to Clear Your Home of Ghosts and Spirits by Debi Chestnut
  4. Haunted Rock & Roll by Matthew L. Swayne
  5. Fighting Malevolent Spirits by Samantha E. Harris
  6. Marrow’s Pit by Keith Deininger
  7. Red Cells by Jeffrey Thomas
  8. Waking the Dead by Heather Graham
  9. DarkFuse #1 by Shane Staley (Editor)
  10. The Revenant of Thraxton Hall by Vaughn Entwistle

My Netgalley ratio at the end of this month was 38,5%.

April 2014

I requested a ton of books this month. DarkFuse and Llewellyn, two of my favorite publishers, uploaded the latest books in their catalogue, and I just couldn’t resist. Thank God I did end up reviewing a fair lot of Netgalley books this month.

  1. Severed by Gary Fry
  2. Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
  3. And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard
  4. The Dybbuk and Other Writings by S. Ansky
  5. Hell’s Door by Sandy deLuca
  6. Ghostly Tales by Billy Roberts
  7. I am the New God by Nicole Cushing
  8. The Unquiet House by Allison Littlewood
  9. Witchstruck (The Tudor Witch Trilogy #1) by Victoria Lamb
  10. Between the Devil and the Deep, Blue Sea by Genevieve Tucholke
  11. When We Fall by Peter Giglio
  12. Haunted Ontario 3 by Terry Boyle
  13. Ancient Enemy by Michael McBride
  14. She Walks in Darkness by Evangeline Walton
  15. Lake Thirteen by Greg Herren
  16. Blood Moon (The Ravenscliffs Series #3) by Geoffrey Huntington

My Netgalley ratio at the end of this month was 41,6%.

May 2014

  1. Surviving the Angel of Death by Eva Mozes Kor and Lisa Rojany Buccieri
  2. The Voices by F.R. Tallis
  3. Rogue by Greg F. Gifune
  4. Five by Ursula P. Archer
  5. Policing the Paranormal by Paul Hope
  6. Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne
  7. Hangman by Stephan Talty
  8. Ash and Bone by Lisa Von Biela
  9. The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe
  10. The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose
  11. Reaping the Dark by Gary McMahon
  12. Gift by Andrea J. Buchanan
  13. Deadlock by Tim Curran
  14. The Cursed by Heather Graham
  15. Eerie America by Eric R. Vernor and Kevin Eads

I cheated a little this month, because I added several mini-reviews for next month to Netgalley already. Anyway, my Netgalley ratio was 50%.

June 2014

  1. The Truth about Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
  2. Dark Father by James Cooper
  3. Disconnected by Lisa M. Cronkhite
  4. The Janus Legacy by Lisa von Biela
  5. Savage by Gary Fry
  6. Dollhouse by Anya Allyn
  7. Deceiver by Kelli Owen
  8. Relic of Death by David Bernstein

Mini-Reviews:

  1. Mini-Review: The Iron Traitor, Of Triton, Some Quiet Place
  2. Mini-Review: Hanging by a Thread, Renegade, Wicked Kiss
  3. Mini-Review: Winter Chill, Lynnwood, Now You See Me
  4. Mini-Review: Auraria, Devil’s Bargain and Grounds to Kill
  5. Mini-Review: Dead Letter Office, As She Left It, Shakespeare vs. Lovecraft
  6. Mini-Review: Innocent Darkness, Enchanted Ever After, Sister Assassin
  7. Mini-Review: The Lynching of Louie Sam, Scent of Magic, Cold Remains

My Netgalley ratio at the end of the month was 58,7%. That’s a huge leap forward, especially considering I still requested quite a few books this month. My goal is to get the rating up to 70% by the end of this month.

December

I didn’t dutifully keep up with this challenge since June, so it’s impossible to say how much my ratio changed each month. But my ratio now, at the end of December, is 92%.

If you want a run down of all the books I read in between July and December, I suggest visiting my reading log, I Heart Yearly Reads, where I keep track of all the books I read each month. Lots of the books on there, especially the mini-review books, came from Netgalley.

Book Review: The One You Feed by James Drummond

THE_one_you_feed_cropped2Title: The One You Feed
Author: James Drummond
Genre: YA Horror
Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Like most kids who grew up in the small Oregon town of Silver Falls, Toby Hoffman had heard all the scary stories about the monsters living in the neighboring woods of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. Now a teenager, he knows the stories are made up to keep the town’s children from wandering where they aren’t wanted.

Then his best friend, Nate, wakes up covered in blood in the reservation woods, with no recollection of whose blood it is or where it came from. When even more brutal attacks follow, Toby can’t help but wonder if one of the fables he was told as a child might be true. With the help of Rachel, a determined Native American girl who has moved off the reservation and into the house next door, he begins searching for an explanation for the recent carnage. He also develops feelings for his new neighbor, which are put to the test when he and Rachel discover that her uncle may be responsible for the emergence of a legendary monster that does in fact exist.

To make matters worse, there’s evidence that Nate was turned by the beast, and that he has every intention of holding onto his extraordinary new creature capabilities no matter the cost. In order to save Silver Falls from a true scary story, Toby will have to face off against forces he doesn’t fully understand – and his closest friend.

In The One You Feed, Toby has had a tough time ever since his Mom passed away in a car accident – while he was driving. He and his Dad try to get to terms with what happened, but it’s tough on both of them. Then a new girl arrives in town, Rachel, a Native American girl who originally lived in the nearby Umatilla Indian Reservation. Toby immediately feels attracted to Rachel. She’s anything like he imagined – she’s willfull, persistent, strong. But he’s not the only one who has an eye on the new girl, and the town’s bullies try to get their hands on her right away.

While the bullies take Toby’s best friend Nate, on a paintball-shooting-trip to the woods (where Nate is the living target practice), something stirs deep inside those woods. Nate doesn’t return and when Mike, one of the bullies, goes to look for him later that night, along with his girlfriend, he gets attacked and murdered. The following morning, Toby finds Nate in the woods, covered in blood.

As the town gets stalked by a legendary monster that has come straight out of the fairytale books into the real world, Toby grows convinced Nate may be involved somehow. Nate on the other hand, discovers more and more supernatural abilities of his own…

Toby was an interesting character to read about. After his Mom’s passing, he goes through severe depression, and it sounded real. Authors all too often want to get rid of a character’s pain to focus on the story, but not here. Apart from his emotions and guilt about that, he seemed like a regular teen, and talked like one as well.

The plot had both original and familiar elements. It was quite obvious to figure out what was targeting the people of Silver Falls, but the characters and the Indian lore, brought some original elements to the table. The writing was great, and the author has a knack for describing scenes in just a few sentences.

If you like young adult horror, this book definitely won’t dissapoint. I didn’t find it that scary – monsters don’t scare me all that much, so far only ghosts have succeeded to do so – but it was entertaining.

Book Review: Down to Business by J.C. Alexander

downtobusiness_promocoverTitle: Down to Business
Author: J.C. Alexander
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Age Group: New Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

While everyone else headed off to college, small town girl, Autumn Malone, stays behind to help manage her family’s failing restaurant. Two years later, when a scholarship at Adelphi University comes her way, she can’t resist the chance to start a new life. The one thing that she isn’t planning on…is falling for irresistible Vinny Mazzola.

To outsiders, Hamptons born Vinny Mazzola has it all: good looks, money, and an esteemed reputation. While studying business at Adelphi, the last thing he expects to do is fall in love with awkward Autumn Malone, who forces him to ask himself what’s really important in life.

When the opportunity arises for Autumn to work at Vinny’s family-owned Italian restaurant, Mazzolas, it seems like a perfect way for her to get to know him better. That is until she meets his over protective mother and his conceited ex-girlfriend who both want nothing more than to get rid of her. Between frats, family, friends, and foes, when it comes down to business, will Autumn and Vinny have to sacrifice everything for a love they can’t live without?

Autumn is excited to start college – finally – after helping to manage her family’s restaurant for the last two years. Her roommate happens to be her best friend, Lindy, so things couldn’t get any better. Except that Lindy’s boyfriend has oved in as well, so her dream of colllege doesn’t exactly start out as planned.

She meets Vinny in one of her classes. He’s got the good looks, money, and reputation to match his attitude. With that, he should be able to get any girl he wants. Instead, he finds himself falling for Autumn, an awkward girl who doesn’t even seem in the same league.

But as these two grow closer to each other, there are people who will stop at nothing to keep them apart.

Autumn was a lovely, amazing character. I liked her awkwardness, the way she handled herself through everything, her intelligence, her quiet strength. I liked Vinny too, as the book progressed, but I wasn’t very fond of him at first. I absolutely hated his Mom, but I think most of the readers probably do. She’s a control freak, and has Vinny in an iron-tight grip.

The book had lots of romance, some steamy scenes, a good dose of drama and humor, and an enjoyable cast. An excellent read if you’re in the mood for some romance.