Friday, June 11, 2021

The sky opens up... I hear them laugh.
They don’t feel the sadness in the air.
They don’t feel the danger coming, riding in on the wind.


BECOMING LEIDAH by Michelle Grierson
Publication: April 13, 2021
Publisher: Simon & Schuster CA
Genre: Literary Fiction / Fantasy
Rating: ★★★★★

In the hinterlands of old Norway, Leidah Pietersdatter is born blue-skinned, with webbed hands and feet. Upon every turn of season, her mother, Maeva, worries as her daughter’s peculiarities blossom—inside the root of the tiny child, a strange power is taking hold.

Maeva tries to hide the girl from the suspicious townsfolk of the austere village of Ørken, just as she conceals her own magical ancestry from her daughter. And Maeva’s adoring husband, Pieter, wants nothing more than for his new family to be accepted by all. But unlike Pieter, who is blinded by love, Maeva is aware that the villagers, who profess a rigid faith to the new God and claim to have abandoned the old ways, are watching for any sign of transgression—and are eager to pounce and punish.

Following both mother and daughter from the shadows and through time, an inquisitive shapeshifter waits for the Fates to spin their web, and for Maeva to finally reclaim who she once was. And as Maeva’s elusive past begins to beckon, she realizes that she must help her daughter navigate and control her own singular birthright if the child is to survive the human world.

But the protective love Pieter has for his family is threatening the secure life they have slowly built and increasingly becoming a tragic obstacle. Witnessing this, Maeva comes to a drastic conclusion: she must make Leidah promise to keep a secret from Pieter—a perilous one that may eventually free them all.



This Canadian debut is set in nineteenth-century Norway, where the marriage of time and magic brought forth uninhibited wonder.

Maeva and Pieter struggle to live in peace and acceptance, but the villagers of Ørken are far from welcoming. If any, they are always suspicious of new and eccentric folks, and Maeva’s elfen looks are a stark reminder of the old ways. Of magic. These made raising Leidah, their blue-skinned daughter, among these people even more difficult.

Norse Mythology has this defined appeal that tickles the curiosity, and Michelle Grierson made this an even more fascinating read with her lyrical narration and distinct sense of wonder. Readers will question the villagers’ spite, Pieter’s blind belief, Maeva’s secret, and Leidah’s naïveté. There's danger, betrayal, anticipation, and redemption. It feels like every page is a discovery. The book is told in three parts, separated by time, which unfolds into a realm of timeless magic.

BECOMING LEIDAH is recommended for those who love a good blend of history and mythology.


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About the Author:

Michelle Grierson is a teacher, writer, dancer, painter, habitual traveller, voracious reader, and enthusiastic mom, who has spent a lifetime chasing and channelling ancestral ghosts through her writing, art, and choreography. A firm believer in blood memory, she has been researching her Norwegian and Celtic ancestry for years, and that inspired her debut novel, Becoming Leidah. Most days Michelle can be found exploring the woods near her southwestern Ontario home with her son, Taras, and their dogs, Tulla and Bijou. Photograph by @ Cassie McReavy.




*Thanks to Simon & Schuster CA for the egalley in exchange for this unbiased review.
*This post is a part of the monthly linkups organized by Lovely Audiobooks! You can click here to check it out and be a part of it.




Book Review | BECOMING LEIDAH by Michelle Grierson

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

About the Book:

DEADLY ODDS 4.0 by Allen Wyler
Publication: May 4, 2021
Publisher: Stairway Press
In this fourth adventure in the DEADLY ODDS cyberthriller series, reformed hacker Arnold Gold is plunged into a race against time when he’s hired by a prestigious Seattle law firm to resolve a ransomware attack that threatens its very existence. But from the start, Arnold has ill-defined misgivings about his secretive, control-freak client, and begins to suspect he’s being used to cover up an inside job. But by who? And how far would the thief go to stay in the shadows?

The more he investigates, the more Arnold must walk a fine line between preserving his professional reputation and his personal honor. Especially when it becomes clear that the thief is willing to move up to murder—and Arnold Gold is in the crosshairs.


More about Deadly Odds 4.0.






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About the Author:

Allen Wyler is a neurosurgeon who left practice in 2002 to be Medical Director for a medical technology start-up, Northstar Neuroscience, which went public (NSTR) in 2006. Leveraging a love for thrillers since the early ‘70s, Wyler began writing fiction and published his first book in 2005. At the end of 2007 he retired to devote full time to writing. He served as Vice President of the International Thriller Writers organization for several years and has been nominated twice for a Thriller Award. He lives in Seattle with his wife.



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Wednesday Spotlight | DEADLY ODDS 4.0 by Allen Wyler

About the Book:

BOGUS by Jill Ganger
Publication: February 21, 2021
Publisher: Tablo
BOGUS, by Jill Ganger, is a fascinating medical thriller. The plot is fast-paced and captivating from start to finish. There’s an element of realism that engages the reader in the life of the main character and the lives of those around him.

The main character’s adventures, and a winding plot show his mental regression. An undetectable additive, designed to kill, is placed inside of capsules of a generic prescription drug.

An undetectable additive, designed to kill, is placed inside of capsules of a generic prescription drug.

As the circle tightens around him, he is caught, tried, and imprisoned. Only then will we see how his mind perceives the world and especially the world that he has created.


More about Bogus.





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About the Author:

Jill Ganger is over 75 years young, retired from the computer industry, and lives in Naples, Florida. She has two adult children, 4 grandchildren, and a small dog. Being a physical fitness enthusiast, a personal trainer, and a writer keep her active and busy.

After listening to a lecture by a retired pharmacist about generic drugs, she began to write BOGUS.

Jill Ganger was a National Powerlifting Champion in 1979 in the 97 lb weight class. She was California State Champion for 4 years. She trained as a hobby for many years and became a personal trainer so that she could apply her practical knowledge of physical fitness to active people between the ages of 50 and 70.



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Wednesday Spotlight | BOGUS by Jill Ganger

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

About the Book:
LYLA'S THERAPY: A SHORT STORY
by Christopher James Buxton
Publication: April 14th, 2021
Publisher: CB ESCAPE NOVELS




Lyla’s therapy sessions have begun, and it’s too late to turn back……...

Her mind commands answers. Why is she here?

To move forward and escape her psychological nightmare – the true problems in her life must be identified…...

Join Lyla’s Therapy sessions and step into her mind. Come on in and hear her story, but be warned you will not be able to leave until she has answers. Told by Lyla herself, she is ready to disclose all to her psychiatrist - in return for his help. A last attempt to heal her soul.

Meeting the love of her life Peter seemed the perfect escape. After whisking her away from the small town of Westbreak, to an impressive home in the suburbs of the city - everything was perfect.

Four years later and their happiness have disintegrated. Morphed into a psychological battel between them both!

She does not believe anything he says, as that would mean strange chanting wasn’t coming from the basement - in the middle of the night! In between the arguments and silence, she knows there is something else at play. Unable to understand what Peter is really doing, and what his true reason for lying is – let alone the hurtful accusations….

For Lyla, these therapy sessions are critical for her survival...

Piercingly unnerving suspense psychological fiction, Lyla’s Therapy will wrap its arms around you, and put your anxiety on alert, before racing your pulse to the end of this tense thriller begging to be unraveled.


More about Lyla’s Therapy.



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About the Author:

Christopher James Buxton is a UK based new indie author, with his debut Sci-Fi Thriller Fantasy novel Alternate.

He graduated from college with a building studies qualification and has worked as a draughts person and design technician in the construction industry since. He enjoys film, reading creative stories, and music. He has been reading novels for a few years and finds writing in his spare time, is the perfect doze of escapism from the realities of everyday life.



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Wednesday Spotlight | LYLA'S THERAPY: A SHORT STORY by Christopher James Buxton

About the Book:

THE FAME GAME by Elizabeth Bell
Publication: April 22,, 2021
Publisher: Elizabeth Bell
What if your number one fan turned the world against you?

Cole Stevens is a famous actor on the rise.

Warren Templeton is his number one fan – obsessive to the point of borderline stalking.

When Cole rejects Warren’s advances, Warren fabricates a story which soon becomes a public scandal – and it seems the entire nation has turned against Cole.

As Warren fully embraces the limelight that once fell upon Cole, the disgraced actor is left to question Warren’s motives… Because is he truly a stranger?

The Talented Mr. Ripley meets Black Mirror: The Fame Game is a tale of trending twitter hashtags, the fragility of reputation, and the notion of fame in an age where social media has the final say.




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About the Author:

Elizabeth Bell has been writing stories since the second grade. At the age of fourteen, she chose a pen name and vowed to become a published author. That same year, she began the Lazare Family Saga. It took her a couple decades to get it right. New generations kept demanding attention, and the saga became four epic historical novels.

After earning her MFA in Creative Writing at George Mason University, Elizabeth realized she would have to return her two hundred library books. Instead, she cleverly found a job in the university library. She works there to this day.

Elizabeth is an active member of the Historical Novel Society, and she loves chatting with fellow readers, writers, and history buffs. Visit her at elizabethbellauthor.com



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Wednesday Spotlight | THE FAME GAME by Elizabeth Bell

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

About the Book:
ECCLESIA'S TABLE by Mason S. Haynie
Publication: March 28, 2021
Publisher: Mason S. Haynie

The world is a wasteland. It always has been. Moshe, Amaru, and Reenu have never known anything other than the desert wasteland that raised them. When the rumor arises that something other than barren landscape could be out there, the three of them make haste for an abundant future. Upon arrival at this established society, the group quickly learns how and how not to get along amidst group dynamics and seemingly sinister mystery. The trials and social politics that Moshe, Amaru, and Reenu face teach them that some rules are useful and some are meant to be broken. Have a seat at Ecclesia's Table.

More about Ecclesia's Table.








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About the Author:

Hello reader! Hope you're enjoying my dystopian satire novel: Ecclesia's Table! Although it's my only my debut, I've been involved with writing my whole life. I've worked as a writing coach, I regularly contribute to an online music publication (jesusfreakhideout.com), and I maintain a personal blog (masonhaynie.wordpress.com) that explores culture, theology, and my own life events. Outside of writing, I enjoy being a part of the creative process, be it through vocal/instrumental performance, audio production, or video editing. I'm currently 25 years old and living with my wife Kimberly in Southern California.



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Wednesday Spotlight | ECCLESIA'S TABLE by Mason S. Haynie

About the Book:

RESURRECTION by Rob Lockett
Publication: March 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Amazon Kindle
In the beginning there was Adam.... A world-weary global backpacker working as a bartender in Southern England; his life starts to take a series of downward turns and his thoughts start to become dark, very dark. Supernatural forces are circling Adam and he makes a deal that will see him play host to one of the most demonic antagonists to grace the pages of History. His world is quickly overtaken as he bears witness to a series of encounters that will set off a chain of terrifying events in both the UK and the USA. Adam quickly learns the terrifying ease in which humanity can ultimately be corrupted.

A new leader rises in a religious cult/ militia that have waged war against a foreign enemy. Is this the same man?

More about Resurrection.





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About the Author:

Rob is a full-time English Teacher who has spent the last 9 years inspiring students to craft sophisticated stories and working on a novel in his spare time. He is an aspiring author who has had short stories published in Opus magazine, written plays and productions that have been performed at Newcastle Civic Theatre and in schools in western NSW. He currently lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife Chivonne and 1 year old daughter, Harper after having previously lived in Mudgee, Dubbo and Broken Hill.

Resurrection he began writing while living and working in a pub outside Reading in 2008 and there are elements of his life experiences in the work until the point that all plummets into chaos and into the depths of a supernatural downfall/political thriller.

Resurrection is his first novel and has had excerpts featured on Wattpad, gaining 2,500 views and winning third place in the ACE awards in 2019. Lockett has a devout fanbase on Wattpad and looks to extend this into a feature blog and across Twitter. Authors that have inspired his writing style: Chuck Paluhniuk, Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, Christopher Marlowe and Herman Hesse.



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Wednesday Spotlight | RESURRECTION by Rob Lockett

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

WITCHES STEEPED IN GOLD
Ciannon Smart
Publication: April 20, 2021
Publisher: HarperCollins CA,
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: ★★★★★


Divided by their order. United by their vengeance.

Iraya has spent her life in a cell, but every day brings her closer to freedom - and vengeance.

Jazmyne is the Queen’s daughter, but unlike her sister before her, she has no intention of dying to strengthen her mother’s power.

Sworn enemies, these two witches enter a precarious alliance to take down a mutual threat. But power is intoxicating, revenge is a bloody pursuit, and nothing is certain - except the lengths they will go to win this game.




Drenched in politics, social injustices, and ancestral magic, WITCHES STEEPED IN GOLD is a broad and complex narrative. This Jamaican-inspired fantasy is told in turns between two main characters. Jazmyne Cariot is an Alumbrar witch and successor to Doyenne Judair Cariot of the island Aiyca. Driven by her desire to bring back justice to her people, Jazmyne is one of the key minds leading a rebellion to overthrow her mother. Iraya Adair is an Obeah witch, rightful heir to the Aiycan throne, fueled by her newly awakened naevus and desire to avenge her family. Reluctantly, these two witches dared the Shook Bargain to eradicate their shared enemy.

Ciannon Smart created a world where magical power is a birthright, while deception and betrayal are must-learn skills. The large volume of details slowed the pace down, allowing the reader to absorb the intents and atmosphere of the storytelling. The distortion of good and evil towards the end of the narrative stretches the notion that good intentions can very well be poison. And while the plot is focused on the characters’ development and magical system, both fully realized and vivid, Smart’s intention to enlighten readers on Jamaican culture and feminism is not lost.

WITCHES STEEPED IN GOLD is a promising opening for an intense fantasy series. This is recommended for readers who enjoy rich world-building and unpredictable characters.


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About the Author:


Of Jamaican heritage, Ciannon Smart grew up in a small town in the south-east of England. As the only daughter in a house full of boisterous sons, she developed a voracious appetite for reading from an early age, preferring anarchy in stories rather than real life. In YA she loves her heroines exactly as she loves her villains: wilful, wily, and unpredictable. When not writing, Ciannon can be found reading, painting, or taking the long way home to listen to a good song more than once.




*Thanks to HarperCollins for the galley in exchange for this unbiased review.
*This post is a part of the monthly linkups organized by Lovely Audiobooks! You can click here to check it out and be a part of it.


Book Review | WITCHES STEEPED IN GOLD by Ciannon Smart

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

SPARK AND THE GRAND SLEUTH
Robert Repino
Publication: March 23, 2021
Publisher: Quirk Books,
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Rating: ★★★★

An army of toys, a menacing threat, and a thrilling adventure collide in the high-stakes sequel to Spark and the League of Ursus.

Spark may be a cute and cuddly teddy bear, but she’s also a fierce protector. Weeks after rescuing her human owner—a budding young filmmaker named Loretta—from a hideous monster, everything seems to be returning to normal. But then Spark is summoned before the mysterious Grand Sleuth, the high council of teddy bears, who task her with a dangerous mission: locating the portal to the monster’s world.

During her daring quest, Spark discovers a terrible secret that changes everything. In order to keep Loretta and their whole town safe, she must enlist the help of her loyal toy friends and team up with an unexpected ally. As the menace grows, Spark realizes that Loretta has a hidden power that may be the key to saving them all . . .




Spark and the League of Ursus had a bittersweet ending. Before the dust can completely settle though, Spark is bidden to appear before the Grand Sleuth, the same high council of teddy bears who never came to aid Spark and her Juro during their encounter with Jakmal. Being summoned, though, means the danger is still lurking. Spark knows the fight isn’t over yet.

Tasked with locating the last portal to the monsters’ world, Spark struck an unlikely friendship with someone who holds the secrets to a catastrophic evil that is about to descend on their town and endanger the very person she loved dearly –Loretta.

I love the themes in this series –the familial relationship and friendship that it inspires. I love how kids get to be kids and grow. I also love Spark’s wise leadership –no bravado. Instead, she is humble in acknowledging everyone else’s ability and conscious of their discomforts, while being encouraging in every moment possible.

Action-packed and suspenseful, SPARK AND THE GRAND SLEUTH is a story of compassion, forgiveness, loyalty, and friendship. This middle-grade fantasy is perfect for anyone who held a cuddly teddy bear and understands that they are loved.

Download the Book Activity Guide here.


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About the Author:


Robert Repino is the author of the War with No Name series for adults and The League of Ursus duology for children. He lives in New York, where he works as an editor at a scholarly press and teaches at the Gotham Writers’ Workshop. Robert had two special teddy bears when he was growing up: Bear and Blue Bear.






*Thanks to Quirk Books for the egalley in exchange for this unbiased review.
*This post is a part of the monthly linkups organized by Lovely Audiobooks! You can click here to check it out and be a part of it.


Book Review | SPARK AND THE GRAND SLEUTH by Robert Repino

Monday, March 29, 2021

THE MEMORY COLLECTORS by Kim Neville
Publication: March 16, 2021
Publisher: Atria Books,
Simon & Schuster CA
Genre: Literary Fiction
Rating: ★★★★★

Ev has a mysterious ability, one that she feels is more a curse than a gift. She can feel the emotions people leave behind on objects and believes that most of them need to be handled extremely carefully, and—if at all possible—destroyed. The harmless ones she sells at Vancouver’s Chinatown Night Market to scrape together a living, but even that fills her with trepidation. Meanwhile, in another part of town, Harriet hoards thousands of these treasures and is starting to make her neighbors sick as the overabundance of heightened emotions start seeping through her apartment walls.

When the two women meet, Harriet knows that Ev is the only person who can help her make something truly spectacular of her collection. A museum of memory that not only feels warm and inviting but can heal the emotional wounds many people unknowingly carry around. They only know of one other person like them, and they fear the dark effects these objects had on him. Together, they help each other to develop and control their gift, so that what happened to him never happens again. But unbeknownst to them, the same darkness is wrapping itself around another, dragging them down a path that already destroyed Ev’s family once, and threatens to annihilate what little she has left.

The Memory Collectors casts the everyday in a new light, speaking volumes to the hold that our past has over us—contained, at times, in seemingly innocuous objects—and uncovering a truth that both women have tried hard to bury with their pasts: not all magpies collect shiny things—sometimes they gather darkness.


Even as a child, Ev can already sense the emotions people imprinted on inanimate objects –good or bad. Growing up, she tried very hard not to annex these emotions despite trying to make a living out of them. And while Ev calls these objects “stains”, Harriet calls them “brilliant”. Harriet has been hoarding her brilliant things for many years and has a dream of building a museum of these wonders to help people heal emotionally and brighten their lives. To accomplish this, she needs Ev’s help and more.

THE MEMORY COLLECTORS is a delightful atmospheric debut with a unique concept and dark secrets that will instantly hook readers. The story builds slowly, while the characters’ past interlaces with the present, turning the suspense nicely. Ev and Harriet are both unusual characters -both troubled with the rarest of gifts and the most overwhelming history. They both had difficulty trusting others and building relationships, too. Still, it’s amazing how these people, who perceive things differently, are willing to sacrifice and help others.

This book is highly recommended for readers who love stories of strangers becoming a family with a touch of magical realism and thrilling mystery. The unabridged audio is narrated by Emily Woo Zeller.


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About the Author:

Kim Neville is an author and graduate of the Clarion West Writers Workshop, where she found the first shiny piece of inspiration that became The Memory Collectors. When she’s not writing she can be found heron-spotting on the seawall or practicing yoga in order to keep calm. She lives near the ocean in Vancouver, Canada, with her husband, daughter, and two cats. The Memory Collectors is her first novel. Photo by Jeremy Lim.






*Thanks to Atria Books, Simon & Schuster CA, and Netgalley for the egalley in exchange for this unbiased review.
*This post is a part of the monthly linkups organized by Lovely Audiobooks! You can click here to check it out and be a part of it.


Book Review | THE MEMORY COLLECTORS by Kim Neville