Book Review: A Christmas at Gingerbread Falls by Katie Mettner

Title: A Christmas at Gingerbread Falls
Author: Katie Mettner
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Christmas
Rating: 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon

Actress Carrie Murray’s films are a Christmas lover’s delight. Filled with twinkling lights, festive carols, and happy endings, they’re the perfect escape from reality. For her and the audience. Then Tinseltown calls.

Braxton Timothy is Hollywood’s biggest action star. Handsome and talented but decidedly on the naughty list, no one can fathom his sudden desire to produce a feel-good Christmas movie—least of all, his no-name co-star.

Alternating between scenes reminiscent of everyone’s favorite made-for-TV movies and unexpected, off-screen chemistry, Gingerbread Falls has surprises in store this holiday season. The question is, will there be enough Christmas magic to convince two imperfect people that they’re perfect for each other?

I’ve been feeling festive all week, and I think part of that can be attributed to A Christmas at Gingerbread Falls. This book instantly put me in the Christmas-spirit, and I’ve already replaced my Halloween decorations; my house now boasts two Christmas trees and cozy lights, and I’ve already blasted holiday music for three days in a row. That’s rare for me, because I usually only start feeling the holiday spirit around December.

But A Christmas at Gingerbread Falls is the kind of heartwarming romance that puts you right in the mood for holiday cheers. The main characters, Carrie and Braxton, are two people who desperately need love, except they don’t really know that they need it. They’ve both gone through hardships in the past that shaped them into the people they are today, and for the reader, it’s obvious from the start that if these two can embrace the chemistry that lingers between them and take a chance on each other, that they might find what they have been looking for all along, without knowing it themselves.

The one thing I sometimes dislike about these types of books is that they can be quite predictable, but that wasn’t the case for A Christmas at Gingerbread Falls. I was pleasantly surprised by some of the twists and turns.

If you’re looking for a book that’ll put you in the mood for the holidays, look no further.

Book Review: The Haunting of Edward House

Title: The Haunting of Edward House
Author: Amy Cross
Genre: Horror
Rating: 3,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon

Twenty-five years ago, Edward House and his sister Meg ran screaming from their family home. They claimed that a ghost had attacked their parents, that some kind of evil spirit had been trying to possess Edward and take control of his body. Their father lay dead on the floor, and their mother had lost her mind. Now Edward and Meg only had each other.

Today, Edward is a married man with a daughter of his own. When he and his family move into a new home, they have no idea that a dark force from the past is once again beginning to stir. Edward is certain that the events of his childhood are over, but his sister’s not so sure.

And when Edward’s daughter Molly starts seeing the same ghost that tormented Edward and Meg a quarter of a century earlier, history looks set to repeat itself.

The Haunting of Edward House is a ghost story about a man who refuses to face his past, a woman can’t let go of one moment of horror, and a deadly evil that will stop at nothing to get what it wants.

The Haunting of Edward House is the story of Edward House, a rather bland married man with a daughter of his own. He and his family move into a new home, and strangely enough, his daughter Molly starts seeing the same ghost that tormented Edward and his sister Meg back when they were children–although back then they lived in a completely different house!

As usual, Amy Cross manages to put an interesting, unexpected spin on your typical run-down-the-mill ghost story, making her books stand out from others in the genre. This is not one of my favorites by Amy Cross, but it’s still a decent story. What annoyed me the most was how long it took for Edward and his wife to finally admit they were being haunted. They did wrong by Meg by not believing her sooner. It also didn’t make much sense, given what had happened in Edward’s past, that he was so reluctant to believe.

Fans of ghost stories will find an interesting story here about trauma, family ties and also a lesson that not everything is always what it seems at first glance.

Book Review: How to Make A Ghost by Amy Cross

Title: How to Make A Ghost
Author: Amy Cross
Genre: Horror
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon

Twenty-five years ago, Eve Marsh’s little sister Rebecca vanished. No-one in the family is willing to talk about what happened, and Eve has come to accept that she might never learn the truth.

When a huge storm erupts, however, Eve is forced to return to her childhood home. Her father lives alone, and the house is in danger of collapsing as it’s battered by wind and rain. Eve hasn’t talked to her father since she ran away from home many years earlier, and she soon finds that the old man’s mind is deteriorating. Meanwhile, something seems to be in the house with him, lurking in the shadows and tormenting what’s left of his sanity.

Eve soon begins to discover the truth about what happened to Rebecca. A strange, ghostly figure appears in the house, and a voice cries out for revenge. The more Eve learns, the more she comes to understand that something terrible has been happening to her family for many years. She’s always held her father responsible, but is there something even worse that Eve doesn’t know? And is the ghost of her dead sister really lurking in the shadows of the house?

How To Make a Ghost is a horror story about a haunted house, a dark family secret, and a horrific experiment that has been years in the making.

Over the past year, Amy Cross has become one of my favorite authors. She manages to combine a straightforward, no-nonsense, fast-paced writing style with original, imaginative stories that keep readers on the edge of their seat.

How to Make A Ghost is no different. Seemingly starting off as yet another ghost story, the plot soon takes a turn followed by an ever-more-complicated series of twists that make for an unpredictable, innovative story.

Eve Marsh’s little sister Rebecca vanished more than two decades ago. No one in the family is willing to discuss the incident, and it has estranged Eve from her father, whom she blames for what happened to Rebecca. When a storm erupts and her sister begs her to go check up on her father, Eve reluctantly heads to her childhood home. Upon her arrival, she notices immediately that her father’s mind seems to be deteriorating… But perhaps even more worrying, something seems to be inside the house, trying to destroy whatever is left of her father’s sanity.

Is it the ghost of Rebecca? Or is something else at play?

What I enjoyed the most about this book, without giving too much away concerning the plot, is that the true horror doesn’t come from the ghosts, but from another source entirely. And that is far more horrifying and nightmare-inducing than any ghost could ever be.

Book Review: Refraction by Terry Geo

Title: Refraction
Author: Terry Geo
Genre: Science-Fiction / Fantasy
Rating: 4,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Most stories start at the beginning; this one begins at the end. At least for Maria. Her sudden death sends shockwaves through her family and pushes her grieving mother to the very brink of insanity. After exhausting every avenue conventional medicine has to offer, Maria’s father, Henry, brings together the world’s greatest minds in the hope of carving out a new path. Months pass, and as Henry watches his beloved Elena slowly drift away, he begins to lose faith. It is only then that a solution presents itself. A discovery so momentous, it saves Elena and reveals the most important scientific and technological breakthrough in modern history.

Silicate is founded; a privately funded facility which delves deeper into the human mind, able to discover answers to questions we are yet to ask. Securing Silicate’s secrets becomes of utmost importance; even after treating hundreds of patients, the public are still unaware of the wonders and terrifying reality Silicate has unearthed . . .

The world you know is only half the story.

Refraction was not at all what I expected. In ways, it went beyond what I had expected, diving into unconventional, unexpected territory, while at the same time dealing with issues that are known to all of us. A family, dealing with the loss of a loved one, for example, is something all of us unfortunately have to deal with at some point in their lives (however, in this story, it’s the worst sorrow of all, that of parents losing a child). Trying to find a way to reach out to those we love, even after death, is something all of us have probably longed for at some point or another as well, and this book deals with exactly that, with grief, with trying to move on, with trying to save the people we love. And it’s by going on this quest, venturing into this unknown territory of the human mind, that miraculous wonders and terrifying truths are uncovered.

The book is quite long (it was 700+ pages in the PDF I read), but it reads lightning-fast, and once you start reading, it’s hard to put down. For a debut novel, it’s especially surprising that the author manages to craft such an original, well-researched story, while keeping up the fast pace and still being able to introduce the reader to myriad characters that each bring their own uniqueness to the table.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but the book had quite a few twists in the storyline that I didn’t see coming, and this doesn’t happen very often!
I’m definitely interested to read more works by this author in the future.
 
 
 

Book Tours: Starter Day Party Jay Got Married

I’m hosting the starter day party today for the book tour for non-fiction / humor “Jay Got Married”. The tour runs from December 16 to December 23. Stay tuned for my review during the tour!

Tour Schedule

December 16th: Starter Day Party @ I Heart Reading

December 17th: Book Excerpt @ Stormy Night Reviewing

December 18th: Book Excerpt @ Bookish Madness

December 19th: Author Interview @ Majanka’s Blog

December 19th:  Book Review @ I Heart Reading

December 20th: Book Excerpt @ Bedazzled Reading

December 21st: Book Review, Book Excerpt, Author Interview @ Ani’s Books

December 22nd: Book Excerpt @ Nesie’s Place

December 22nd: Book Excerpt @ Mythical Books

December 23rd: Book Excerpt @ Indy Book Fairy

December 23rd:  Book Excerpt and Author Interview @ Editor Charlene’s Blog

 

About the Book

Title: Jay Got Married

Author: James Robinson Jr.

Genre: Non-Fiction Humor

Jay Got Married consists of 9 humorous and, at times, poignant essays chronicling the ironies of everyday life in word and picture. Take for example the lead essay, aptly titled, “Jay got Married,” where I find myself mired in a horrendous dream.

In the fantasy, my aging father–dressed in his favorite Champion t-shirt with stains covering the front–marries my wife and I like he did 42 years ago but, this time around, the my 92-year-old ex-clergy dad forgets his lines causing me to coach him through the event with hints like: “ask for the rings, ask for the rings.” All the while, my best man sings Sonny and Cher’s, “I Got You Babe.”

Finally married, my wife and I end the ceremony with a kiss. But as I turn to exit, my eyes catch a glimpse of the bridesmaid who is no longer my wife’s best friend but now Gal Gadot from Dell Comics and Wonder Woman Fame. She is dressed in full Wonder Women regalia and looks totally shocked by the whole affair.

My mother turns to my father (now in the audience) with a quizzical look and says, “Dad, look at that bridesmaid. Isn’t that Superman?” She doesn’t get out much.

As we exit the church, and the bubbles fill the air–no one uses rice anymore—my wife ignores the limo and takes off on a sleek motorcycle, leaving me in the lurch—hence the cover.

Sure, it’s sounds crazy. But, in truth, isn’t the world of marriage crazy these days? In my case, what would one do when faced with the prospect of losing their beloved wife after 42 years? At age 67, would they remarry? Would they even want to remarry? These and other marital tidbits are discussed with humor and as much reverence as I could muster.

P.S. The author pairs up with Wonder Woman again in a final bit of photo wizardry Why? How? How are tricky copyright infringement laws avoided? Read Jay Got Married and find out.

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Book Review: Edge of Death (Book #2 Admiralty Archives)

Title: Edge of Death: Book Two of the Admiralty Archives
Author: Joni Parker
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating: 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

In this second installment of The Admiralty Archives, the warrior Lady Alexin, the Keeper of the Keys for the Elf realm of Eledon, finds herself exiled to the harsh world of near-future London. Rendered little more than a political pawn by the Elfin Council of Elders to avoid a war with the Rock Elves, she has little choice but to struggle to find her way in this strange new land. Taken under the protection of kindly mentors, Vice Admiral Malcolm Teller of the British Royal Navy and his wife, Alex brings all her skills to the fore as she uncovers a series of deadly plots.

Murder is on everyone’s mind as an underground White Supremacist organization takes aim at Admiral Teller while two wizards, resurrected from death, must kill Alex in order to survive. To make matters worse, the Rock Elves dispatch a hundred assassins from Eledon with their sole mission to bring Lady Alexin to the very… Edge of Death.

I read and reviewed some of Joni Parker’s other books before: The Blue Witch, Gossamer and Noble Magic, all part of the Chronicles of Eledon series. In the Admiralty Archives series, I already read and reviewed the first book, Curse of the Sea, so you can say I’m definitely a fan of this author and the magical worlds she creates, with most of my ratings being either 4 or 4,5 stars. I mean, fantasy, elves, wizards, what’s not to like?

Needless to say I had some pretty high expectations when starting the second book in the Admiralty Archives,  Edge of Death, but the sequel certainly didn’t dissapoint. The reader is once again following Lady Alexin, who by now has really become one of my favorite characters in fantasy books throughout. What I really enjoy about this series is how well it mixes fantasy and reality, and how well-crafted the fantasy world is, reminding me of the worlds created by Raymond E. Feist and Robin Hobb, and that I could spend hour hiding away in during my childhood and early teens. It’s a rare gift to be able to create a world that is so different yet so relatable that people can imagine themselves there, and to be able to come up with characters who despite being relatable, can still surprise the reader – especially after so many books.

In this book, Alexin is forced into exile to the London of the near future, a terrible, sullen place. Not only does she have to get used to this new, strange world, but she also becomes a target in a complicated assassination plot, and she’ll need all her skills, wit and some good old-fashioned luck to survive.

I don’t want to give out too many spoilers for readers new to the series, but this book had me on the edge of my seat again. Memorable characters, a vast, extraordinary setting, excellent writing and a mercilessly fast pace, this is one book no fan of the genre should miss out on.

 

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Book Review Julian Fox: The Dream Guardian by E.J. Miranda

Title: Julian Fox: The Dream Guardian
Author: E.J. Miranda
Genre: YA Fantasy
Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: 4,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon

It is said that dreams are just that: only dreams. But believe me, this is not always true. Some dreams are as real as the dreamer.

Thanks to their dreams, dreamers can receive the special visit of eternal wisdom that has inspired the creativity of great inventors, scientists, musicians, and even writers throughout the ages.

This creative wisdom is not always the type that appears to the eager conscience. Sometimes, a Defiler, a destroyer of dreams, is the one who tries to appear before the dreamer. These creatures were once humans, but they allowed their pain and desire for revenge to take over and seek the same miserable fate for the one who dreams.

You must not fear — Dream Guardians, also known as Kelsdrant, will always protect the one who dreams, even with their own life. They are people of flesh and bone, just like you and me, or at least they are on Earth.

The following story is dedicated to the fun, extravagant, and enlightening life of Julian Fox, the Dream Guardian.

Be prepared, dear reader. It is time to dream, laugh, reflect, and even maybe cry.

Welcome to the Land of the Wise Dreams.

In Julian Fox: The Dream Guardian, Julian Fox is living a seemingly normal life, until suddenly everything he’s ever known changes when he experiences a realistic dream that takes him to the Land of the Wise Dreams. There, he has to fight an evil force and learns the truth about himself and who he really is: a dream guardian, meant to protect dreamers.

On the one hand, the readers get to know Julian in the real world, while in the other, we get to know him in the magical world of dreams, where he battles terrifying creatures and learns about his own true strength. The fantasy world is by far the most intriguing one (duh) but it’s good to be reminded once in a while that Julian has an actual life waiting for him outside of this dream world.

I got pulled into the story right from the start. The characters, in particular Julian but also his brother, were very interesting to read about. The writing was good too, the pacing fast enough to keep me entertained throughout. Fans of YA novels and fantasy novels will love this one, no doubt!

 

Book Review and Giveaway Taking Wing

Title: Taking Wing

Author: Clemency Crow
Genre: Middle Grade Adventure
Rating: 4,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

12-year-old Freya enjoys karate and is the only one in her class who’s trusted with a part-time job. But everything changes when she meets a boy with yellow eyes. She learns about the guardians, and how an age-old fight has stopped them from fulfilling their purpose. Freya finds new friends in the crow tribe but not everything in the castle is blissful. A destructive shadow lies within her and all she needs to do to summon it is close her eyes. But as the guardian’s war rages on, Freya realises that, although the shadow’s power can be useful, it can’t create peace. Freya and her friends must solve the crime that began the war, but can they bring the guardians together before they destroy each other?

Taking Wing is an intriguing middle grade adventure featuring 12-year-old Freya, a girl who is so much more than she seems at first glance.

The book actually begins with a chapter set in 617 AD, where the reader witnesses the funeral of Edweth, and a man named Raedwald who vows to avenge her death, which he believes was due to her being murdered by someone from the Crow tribe. The book then jumps to the present day, where the reader is introduced to Freya. Despite being only twelve, Freya holds a part-time job in a shop after school. The reader is thrown into the action right away, as Freya feels someone is following her while she’s walking to her aunt’s house–the follower turns out to be a boy with yellow eyes and a long, hooked nose, almost like a bird’s nose.

The boy, Enna, turns out to be much more than he seems at first glance but it’s when his friends turn up that the action really picks up, and they take Freya to the home of the Crow tribe. As she meets the others of the Crow tribe, Freya makes new friends but soon realizes that not everything is at she thought it was, and that the war between the tribes can only be solved with Freya’s help. But can Freya accomplish this task, especially when she discovers that there’s something hidden deep within herself, a shadow, that has tremendous power?

I actually really liked Winnie. She seemed like such a genuine person, and her personality worked rather well. Most of the characters in the book feel like genuine people, with fitting personality traits, and with some little quirks and things that set them apart from others. The author did a really good job portraying all these different characters throughout.

The plot was excellent too, with some unexpected twists and turns that I hadn’t seen coming. There was never a dull moment, and the pacing moved along nicely. The book is clearly aimed at middle graders, but even an older audience will enjoy this book. I look forward to reading the second book in the series, as I suspect there will be a sequel.

 

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Book Review: Always With Me by Ariela Ben Ari

Title: Always With Me
Author: Ariela Ben Ari
Genre: Memoir, Spirituality
Rating: 4,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This is the story of a significant life, loving and happiness despite the absent, the break, the loss.

This is the story of a man and woman, a blessed couple, who spent their time together, hand in hand. This is a song about joy, togetherness, and deep faith. This is a story of love that survives separation by illness and then death.

This is a love story. A bigger- than- life love story. This is a story about a love that is resilient and pure in the face of crisis, disappointment and unimaginable health challenges. This is a story of heroism; spirit reigning over the body and its realities.

This is a story of how the movement of life provides us with opposites and how we grow from polarities such as:

Death and Life

Darkness and Light

Spiritual Distance and Closeness

The Hidden and the Exposed

Desperation and Hope

This is a story of dedication, light, the good, grace, hope, faith, confidence and love – Always With Me.

Always With Me is an inspiring memoir about love, faith, about a couple’s dedication toward one another. The book tells the, at times heartwarming, at times heartbreaking, story of author Ariela Ben Ari and her husband Moshe.

The story is very touching, and I certainly recommend reading this for anyone who has ever dealt with the loss of a loved one. As Ariela recalls her life with her husband, and then describes her life without him, you can feel the pain very vividly. I hope that writing this book worked cathartic for the author, and that it made her feel better, even if just a little. I sincerely hope the book helped her with the mourning process, and I can imagine it will also help people who are in a similar situation.

Very touching, very tragic, and brought tears to my eyes more than once.

 

Book Review: Anything But His Soul by Moshe Bomberg

Title: Anything But His Soul
Author: Moshe Bomberg
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Rating: 5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Meeting his brother in Auschwitz, he understood that they are all alone

A young boy’s world falls apart! He can trust no one and does not know what his tomorrow holds or if he will live to see it.

Poland 1944, Mjetek finds himself in Auschwitz after taking part in Zionist underground activities trying to fight against the Nazi occupation of Warsaw. He meets his brother and understands that their entire family has been massacred and that their days are numbered. Mjetek decides to not give up and says he is a blacksmith, though he has never worked with metal. At work in one of the factories, a melted piece of iron falls and burns him. He manages to go back to the camp and his brother takes care of him, selling his golden tooth for medical supplies. Staying in the “clinic” was supposed to be the end of Mjetek but this is actually what saves him. When his brother is marched to his death and they have to say their final goodbye.

Mjetek’s story of survival is marked with small miracles, determination and unbelievable bravery. This memoir will leave you breathless and heartbroken, yet, inspired.

In 1944 in Poland, Mjetek is captured and brought to Auschwitz, the most famous of the horrible Nazi death camps. He’s still just a young man at the time and life at camp is very tough for him, never knowing whether he will live or die, getting through each day while living in constant fear…

When he meets his brother at the camp, he realizes his entire family has been massacred, and he and his brother are the only ones left. They try to take care of each other, but when Mejtek is forced to stay at the “clinic”, he believes his days are well and truly numbered, although it might turn out that this might be his one chance at survival…

This is a heartbreaking story, to say the least. Mejtek is a survivor in every sense of the word, and it’s just horrible what he and his family had to go through. The book is actually authored by his grandson, based on a recording made by Mejtek / Moshe. The story is an inspiration, and shows the strengths of humanity, especially in the face of what can only be considered true evil.