Review: How to be Glamorous on a Budget


In her book, How to be Glamorous on a Budget, Julia Goodman—Chief Editor of International Heels, and Founder of Julia Jolie Beverly Hills —reveals the secrets of looking like a million bucks for less and the fundamentals of being forever stylish and glamorous and to help women radiate confidence no matter the size of their bank accounts.

I picked this one up when I saw it was in the teen category, since I haven’t seen a lot of these books yet for high school readers. Julia Goodman’s book was well written and enjoyable, although I’m not sure how well the tips she gives would work for those truly trying to save money, especially teens whose funds are limited.

I’d love to see this book extended to offer more practical advice as well as what you’ll find within the pages here. The author clearly knows her stuff and I’m sure could add quite a bit more here, making this a must-read for fashion fans.

Review: Mari’s Hope

cover115785-medium.pngMari’s Hope delivers the dramatic conclusion to the middle-grade historical fiction trilogy begun with Odin’s Promise, awarded the 2014 Midwest Book Award for Children’s Fiction, and Bjorn’s Gift (released in 2016).

In Mari’s Hope, set in a small village in occupied western Norway in the final years of World War II, young Mari has become a valued helper to the village doctor. She also plays a role in her family’s efforts in the local resistance, despite everpresent dangers, especially from the snooping soldier called Goatman and from Leif, her one-time school friend, now a German collaborator.

As the German war efforts falter, the pressure increases on the occupying troops to hold Norway firmly in their grip. But freedom-loving Norwegians will do their best to thwart those plans.

Praise for the series: “An exciting look at the occupation of Norway, through the eyes of a young, brave girl.” – Angela Cerrito, author of The Safest Lie.

I wish I’d had the chance to read earlier books in this series before jumping into Mari’s Hope, but this still made for a really enjoyable story that I think will be well-enjoyed by middle grade readers. I’ve been on the hunt for anything tied to WWII that would work for this age group, and I love that this one also shows life in a less often represented country. We all need a little more Norway in our lives!

Review: The Well

cover113010-medium.pngTwenty years after prom queen Cassie Kennedy is brutally murdered, six teenagers break into the house where she was killed to hold a séance. Haven knows his cousin Elise only wants to scare the crap out of him and his friends, but he’s willing to put up with one of her pranks if it means a chance to spend a few hours with the new kid in town, Pierce Hunter.

But when morning comes, Elise has disappeared without a trace.

Twelve years later, Pierce and his twin brother Jordan are professional paranormal investigators, starring in their own ghost-hunting TV show. When Pierce calls Haven, insisting they return to the supposedly haunted building one last time, Haven reluctantly agrees. He’s nervous about seeing Pierce again, but he’s determined to get some answers. Did they really speak to Cassie’s ghost that night? What happened to Elise? And the biggest mystery of all – how did she know the secret of the well?

It wouldn’t be pride month if I didn’t spend some serious time digging through NetGalley for the best and brightest of upcoming LGBT+ titles. And the diversity aspect of this story did not disappoint. Add in that The Well is deeply creepy and I’m all kinds of in love.

This story follows the mystery of the well, which is tied to the disappearance of two local girls, more than a decade apart. The characters pasts are directly tied to this same mystery, so you feel the pressure to figure out what’s going on right from the first page.

I really enjoyed Sexton’s writing as it captured the perfect tone for this type of story. And while this isn’t your typical summer read, I imagine there are a lot of readers out there who are going to love this as much as I did.

Review: Breadcrumbs

cover114178-medium.pngRead any good stories lately? I am sure you have. They sent you on a journey—perhaps to another place, a different time…somewhere you have never been before. Tales, yarns, legends and fables fill our human history, and stories are as powerful today as they have always been. Have you ever wondered why you can’t resist going? It’s time to find out…

Breadcrumbs invites you to further adventures. Traveling across time, along crooked paths, wooded trails, and on mountain tops, you will discover:

•  Why stories are critical to well-being and the hidden mystery you are searching to uncover

• How to interpret the twists and turns of life and find the meaning that makes all the difference

• How to identify the breadcrumbs that reveal the most important story of them all

This is a great collection for anyone who enjoys, well, stories! There is a lot of food for thought here along with so many references that there is bound to be something to connect with every type of reader. This is a fairly quick collection over all, but one essay per sitting worked perfectly for me, leading to a very interesting week. I especially enjoyed Crisis in Middle Earth.

Review: Fatemarked

cover113749-medium.pngIn the spirit of fantasy epics like George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings, The Fatemarked Epic promises immaculate world building, an ancient prophecy, a mysterious source of magic, a diverse cast of characters, war, political intrigue, and romance.

The Hundred Years War has ravaged more than three generations of kings, queens, and citizens across the Four Kingdoms. Corrupt rulers dominate. Religious intolerance runs rampant. The cycle of vengeance continues to turn with the seasons.

An ancient prophecy by a legendary oracle has been long forgotten. The prophecy promises the return of peace to the Four Kingdoms on the backs of a chosen few, the fatemarked, individuals marked at birth and blessed with specific magical powers. One shall be the Kings’ Bane, and will bring death to the warmongering rulers, using fear to force peace; another shall be the Peacemaker, bestowed with the rare ability to heal. Opposite sides of the same coin, dark and light, death and life, the Kings’ Bane and the Peacemaker are responsible for the fate of an entire continent.

As they fight to achieve their destinies, adversity will hinder them in every realm: in the frozen north, assassination attempts and a brutal power struggle; in the holy west, a vicious queen and her self-righteous army of warriors; in the mysterious iron-clad forest of the east, revenge and glory rule the day; and in the southern empires of Calyp and Phanes, maturing dragons, slaves, and a civil war.

To truly fulfill the oracle’s prophecy of peace, both the Kings’ Bane and the Peacemaker, as well as the other fatemarked, will need to overcome those who seek to destroy everything in their pursuit for power.

The first book in an epic saga years in the making, Fatemarked will sweep you away to another land, another time, when magic and dragons, kings and queens, and courage and valor still meant something.

I almost passed up on the opportunity to read Fatemarked. The cover didn’t really catch my eye, and it felt like the blurb potentially gave too much away. But in the end, this sounded like exactly the kind of story I was looking for, and I’m so glad I took a chance!

This is a classic epic fantasy story with some many of the elements that make this genre a must read. I don’t want to say much about the plot beyond what you can read in the blurb, but this is a layered and dynamic story with fantastic world building and strong characters. The prophecy at the heart of the story is unlike anything else I’ve ever read, and the writing was strong enough to keep me frantically turning pages.

Highly recommended!

Review: First String


Steamy romance with a little bit of funny thrown in! If you like Bridget Jones, you’ll love Hope Cruz.

Six months ago, Hope’s childhood-sweetheart-turned husband Matt left her for a grad student. Worried her daughter is seriously depressed—she won’t even pick up her guitar!—Hope’s meddling mother insists she see a therapist, and Hope’s shocked when the therapist suggests she have a wild affair.

After being with one man her entire life.

And she needs to do everything differently—find a new hobby, mix up the routine, get a little adventurous. She has to figure out what she wants out of life without Matt in it.

Hope’s in for a wild ride.

As soon as I saw the Bridget Jones comparison in the blurb, I knew First String was exactly the kind of book I was in the mood for this week. Believe me, the cover for this one doesn’t do the story inside justice! This was a quick read, but it made me laugh more than once, and I fell totally in love with the story and with Hope, along with her family.

This is the story of a woman whose life gets completely flipped on its head, but it turns out these things that at first looked like disasters may have been exactly what Hope needed.

I can’t wait to read the next one!

Review: Tell My Dad

cover104634-medium.pngHow far would you go to protect your children?

“Stay away” — Those are the two words written on the forehead of every pedophile murdered in San Francisco Bay Area.

Joshua Theaker is tasked with finding the killer whose killing methods involve strange weapons. Theaker and local law enforcement find it hard to agree on where the trail goes while local FBI is distracted by child kidnappings. For Theaker, there is a pattern among the victims. But just when Theaker thinks he is getting closer to the killer, he strikes again. And again.

Tell My Dad was an absolutely chilling story that I’m not sure I was emotionally prepared for but that I’m very much glad I decided to pick up. There’s a lot to be said for the power of the phrase inspired by true events.

There were a lot of different stories to follow throughout this narrative, and they were all handled well, keeping me frantically turning pages to find out how everything would come together by the end of the story. There were some scenes that were particularly hard to take, but in the end served to raise the stakes and make for a strong ending that will absolutely have me keeping an eye out for more from this author in the future.

Review: The Soldier’s Woman

cover103330-medium.pngIt is 1810 somewhere in the chaos of war-ravaged Napoleonic Portugal. Miss Charlotte Everslea, dedicated member of an ancient secretive Guild and skilled paranormal artefacts hunter, is hot on the trail of a madman who has stolen an arcane book with the power to change the course of history. Unfortunately, a reversal of fortune for the British troops has left her trapped behind enemy lines pursued by thieves and kidnappers.

Colonel Maximillian Bladewood is used to giving orders and having them obeyed, both on and off the battlefield. As eldest of the large untidy Bladewood brood, life has equipped him for most of its vicissitudes, or so he believed. But the petite golden-haired hoyden, to whose accidental intervention he owes his life, challenges both his authority and his sanity.

Their cross-purposed journey is further exasperated by their mutual, undiscussed attraction and an eventual crossroads where one or both of them will need to compromise is looming.

Readers of Jayne Ann Krentz and Mary Jo Putney will feel right at home.

It feels like it’s been a long time since I’ve read any historical fiction (or really much of anything at all, thank you holidays), but this was the perfect book to pull me back in. I don’t know much about the early 1800s, but the Napoleonic era came to life in Charlotte and Maximillian’s story. The dynamic between the two main characters was fairly standard for romance heavy stories, but to worked wonderfully within the world Lyonn’s has crafted for her readers.

Review: RAYNE: Luminescence

cover102394-medium.pngIn the dawn of The Rebirth Period, a new species of humans dominates the Earth.

In their second year of life, they experience the Luminescence and awaken to a mystical ability. Except one. Her name is Rayne.

In a society whose values and manners are as refined as the language they speak, her peers mock her because she has no higher ability. In the early hours of her 17th birthday, she experiences a night which will change this.

As her new reality brings adventure and peril, Rayne is desperate to learn the purpose of her power. Rejected by her Colony, she must hide the truth of what is happening to her. Though she finds friends from unexpected sources, Rayne finds herself hated and even more of an outcast when she’s involved in an accident which turns deadly. As her world unravels, everything she thought she knew about the Luminescence and society is changed, and she must uncover the truth on her own.

There’s little I love more than the chance to binge a series so when I saw two books in the Rayne Trilogy up on NetGalley, I couldn’t resist. I’m not sure how I feel about the covers, but the story itself hooked me from the first chapter. The world building was really fantastic and unlike anything I had read before. I’m already excited to dive into book two!

Rayne’s journey isn’t an easy one, but you’ll find yourself rooting for her throughout. At first she only has to deal with not having an ability like everyone else in her society, but things go from bad to worse pretty quickly.

I loved the concept of a new type of human living here on Earth in the future, and think everything came together really nicely.

Now, on to book two!

Review: Eternal Night

cover98841-medium.pngA dark secret lies in her past. A magical world exists just out of reach. A hidden destiny awaits her.

After a tragic murder and year of lost memories, Anna finds her world shrouded in mystery. Only the elusive Blake seems to have any answers, but pursuing his knowledge takes Anna down a dangerous path. As she begins to unlock pieces of the puzzle, she gets closer and closer to wanting someone she can’t have while unlocking a dormant power she isn’t sure she can control.

Nightfall Academy is only the beginning of a world of deceit, lust, and vengeance. Learning you are part of an ancient race of mages and falling for a dark prince are nothing compared to what Anna’s future holds. If she can handle the power in her blood, she may reunite a lost realm with its past.

And our world could get caught in the crossfire.

There are a lot of elements in Eternal Night that you may have seen before in other popular YA books, but Alayna Ravenwood managed to combine them into something new and really interesting with Eternal Night. It did take me a little while to get into the story as there was a lot to follow and quite a few characters to get to know, but once I began to understand the story, I was hooked.

The main character Anna finds herself attending Nightfall Academy after her life takes a dark turn, where she meets a cast of well-developed and likeable characters. This book will entertain most paranormal fans while also bringing something new to the genre, so I hope readers decide to give it a chance!