Tag: January 2016

Book Review: The Helheim Princess


The Helheim Princess

– Tiana Warner –

Entangled Teen

Published 4 January 2022



Norse mythology, a main character determined to prove herself and fantasy action in a journey to the underworld. The Helheim Princess is sure to please readers who love mythology-driven fantasy.

Sigrid might have been born in the Valkyrie ward but she’s not a Valkyrie. The Junior Valkyries in training and the General make sure she knows her true place in life. A stable hand, with a Midguard horse and no future in the Valkyrie ranks. Sigrid is determined to prove them wrong. She knows her horse is fast and that the secret training they’ve been doing makes them an asset to the army, even if it’s only from the ground. But when an army of Night Elves invade and steal a precious relic, Sigrid takes her chance to fulfil her destiny. Joining with an enemy Valkyrie, Sigrid travels to the Underworld. But more than just destiny awaits her there.

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Book Review: Mermaid Moon

Mermaid Moon

Mermaid Moon – Colleen Coble – Sunset Cove #2 – Thomas Nelson – Published 12 January 2016



Mallory’s mother died fifteen years ago. But her father’s last words on the phone were unmistakable: “Find . . . mother.” Shame and confusion have kept Mallory Davis from her home for the last fifteen years, but when her dad mysteriously dies on his mail boat route, she doesn’t have any choice but to go back to Mermaid Point. Mallory believes her father was murdered and childhood sweetheart Kevin O’Connor, game warden in Downeast Maine, confirms her suspicions. But Kevin is wary of helping Mallory in her search. She broke his heart—and left—without a word, years ago.

When Mallory begins receiving threats on her own life—and her beloved teenage daughter, Haylie—their search intensifies. There’s a tangled web within the supposed murder, and it involves much more than what meets the eye. As answers begin to fall into place, Mallory realizes her search is about more than finding her father’s killer—it is also about finding herself again . . . and possibly about healing what was broken so long ago with Kevin. She just has to stay alive long enough to put all the pieces together.

My thoughts

Mermaid Moon is the second book in the Sunset Cove series, where the Maine coastline provides a beautiful and rugged setting for these books, perfectly conveying the danger and turmoil of the stories.

Unfortunely, I didn’t enjoy Mermaid Moon as much as I did the first book, The Inn at Ocean’s Edge. I didn’t connect as easily with the characters or the story. However, Mermaid Moon does bring the same mix of romance and suspense that the first book did, with the same sort of twisting and interconnecting mystery.

When Mallory receives a strange phone call from her father, she knows something is wrong. Her first instinct is to reach out to Game Warden Kevin O’Connor, someone she hasn’t spoken to in fifteen years. But returning home brings Mallory even more questions and places them all in serious danger.     Continue reading

Book Review: The Distance From A to Z

The Distance from A to Z

The Distance From A to Z – Natalie Blitt – HarperCollins – Published 12 January 2016



Seventeen-year old Abby has only one goal for her summer: to make sure she is fluent in French—well, that, and to get as far away from baseball and her Cubs-obsessed family as possible. A summer of culture and language, with no sports in sight.

That turns out to be impossible, though, because her French partner is the exact kind of boy she was hoping to avoid. Eight weeks. 120 hours of class. 80 hours of conversation practice with someone who seems to exclusively wear baseball caps and jerseys.

But Zeke in French is a different person than Zeke in English. And Abby can’t help but fall for him, hard. As Abby begins to suspect that Zeke is hiding something, she has to decide if bridging the gap between the distance between who she is and who he is, is worth the risk.

My thoughts

When The Distance Between A To Z was compared to Stephanie Perkins and Miranda Kenneally I have to admit to being skeptical. But I was wrong, totally wrong to doubt because the comparison works so well. Yes, this book is about a girl and a boy falling in love and about little things like baseball, and summer courses and the French language, but it manages to make these things into so much more than the sum of its parts. It’s a light, easy young adult romance that leaves you with a sense of great importance.

The Distance from A to Z quote

Abby’s family are crazy about baseball. And I mean actually crazy, team paraphernalia, bumper stickers, car window flags crazy and all. And Abby is sick of it. So sick she’s moving several states over for a summer away from everything baseball to take a French language course.

Part of her summer course requirement is talking with her class partner Zeke in French. Cute baseball loving, complicated, hiding something Zeke. They are as different as A and Z, but there is a connection between them to which Abby is inexplicably drawn.    Continue reading

Book Review: Keeper of the Stars

Keeper of the Stars

Keeper of the Stars – Robin Lee Hatcher – Thomas Nelson –  Published 26 January 2016



She blames him for her brother’s death. Can she let go of resentment and open her heart to love? Penny Cartwright found it difficult to understand why her younger brother would choose to join a country singer’s band rather than return to Kings Meadow after college . . . and the separation strained their relationship. Then a car accident made certain her brother could never return.

Trevor Reynolds has chased stardom in Nashville for more than a dozen years, but it remains out of his reach. After an accident kills his young drummer, Trevor goes to Kings Meadow to keep a promise—and perhaps to discover what truly matters in this life.

Thrown together by circumstances, Penny and Trevor must learn to give and receive forgiveness. And if they do, perhaps something beautiful can rise from the ashes of heartbreak.

My thoughts

This was a fun, snowy romance with strong themes of faith, forgiveness and healing.

The death of Penny Cartwright’s younger brother shocked her – and made certain she would never be able to speak the words that would mend the rift that developed between them when Brad left home to chase his dream of a music career. Penny places the majority of the anger she feels over Brad’s death at the feet of his fellow bandmate, Trevor Reynolds. Trevor knows something has to change in his life and knows that keeping his promise to his dying drummer is a good place to start. He travels to Kings Meadow in the hope to help Brad’s sister and father in their grief. But his arrival in Kings Meadow will have a greater impact than he could have imagined.

It is no secret that I love romance stories where the characters start off hating each other. It makes the transition to love so much more enjoyable. It is also no secret that I love Robin Lee Hatcher’s Kings Meadow series. Love the setting, the country charm, and the inclusion of touching storylines, faith and romance.  Continue reading

Book Review: Where She Belongs

Where She Belongs

Where She Belongs – Johnnie Alexander – Misty Willow #1 – Revell – Published 5 January 2016



Shelby Kincaid is ready to move on from her grief. With high hopes for the future, she longs to purchase her family’s ancestral homestead so she can raise her young daughters in the only place she ever truly belonged. She plans to transform the abandoned house into the perfect home of her memories. But she’ll have her work cut out for her.

AJ Sullivan never wanted the homestead. Inherited as a punishment from his grandfather, it has sat empty for fifteen years and fallen into ruin. He’s glad to finally unload it. But a clean break isn’t possible when he can’t get the young widow Shelby off his mind.

My thoughts

This is by no means a simple romance. Instead it is complicated, has many different facets and is as messy as real life. The characters deal with a multitude of troubles, everything from past grievances, grief, family upheaval and conflict, sins of the past and new surprising revelations that rock their very foundations. Where She Belongs brings together romance, family drama and just a touch of mystery.

Shelby has always dreamed of returning to her family home, Misty Willows, which was taken from her family many years ago. Now she has managed to lease the homestead from AJ Sullivan, grandson of the man responsible for her losing the farm in the first place and someone she is determined to avoid and dislike.  Continue reading

New Book Releases January 2016

New Book Releases for January 2016

Welcome to a new year. 2016 is set to be an exciting year for new books and new authors. Here is my list of titles to check out for January 2016. Click on the book covers for full reviews.

Young Adult Fiction

FirstsFirsts – Laurie Elizabeth Flynn – St. Martin’s Griffin – Published 5 January 2016

What a book. It’s like a car crash, crossed with an erupting volcano, crossed with a (insert disaster of your choice here). I knew it would be messy and upsetting, but I couldn’t look away. And yet, Firsts manages to pull it off. I was really hoping for a beautiful ending that would make the agony of the rest of the book worth it. And I’m very happy to say I think I got that ending.  Full Review.

Young adult fiction: contemporary.

Impostor QueenThe Impostor Queen – Sarah Fine – Margaret McElderry Books – Published 5 January 2016

A solid fantasy, The Impostor Queens brings together a balance of magic, romance and action.

When Elli was just four years old she was chosen to be the girl who would become queen. But when the queen dies, the magic does not rush into Elli like it should. The priests are desperate for a ruler and threaten Elli’s very existence in their efforts to make her magic manifest. Scared, Elli runs, leaving the opulence of the temple for the harsh reality of life outside the city.     Full review.

Young adult fiction: fantasy

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Book Review: Thin Ice


Thin Ice – Irene Hannon – Men of Valor #2 – Revell – Published 5 January 2016



After losing her parents in a car accident and her sister to a house fire, Christy Reed has been mired in grief. Life is finally starting to feel normal again when an envelope arrives in the mail–addressed in her sister’s handwriting. And the note inside claims she is still alive.

FBI Special Agent Lance McGregor, a former Delta Force operator, is assigned to reopen the case, but he’s coming up with more questions than answers. If Ginny Reed is still alive–who is the woman buried in her grave? Where is Ginny? And is Christy a pawn in a twisted cat-and-mouse game–or the target of a sinister plot? As he digs deeper, one thing becomes clear: whoever is behind the bizarre ruse has a deadly agenda.

My thoughts

I absolutely loved the first book in this Men of Valor series and so I was super excited to get my hands on the second book, Thin Ice. It had very high standards to live up to and it easily met them. There is something so familiar about falling into an Irene Hannon romantic suspense. You know you can count on high-action sequences, tension-filled endings, and sweet, authentic romance with loveable characters, all tied together with the underpinning of faith.

Thin Ice starts with the night Christy Reed’s heart is torn apart. Again. Losing her sister in a fire only months after losing her parents in a car crash is a hard thing to cope with. But two months later she receives a note addressed in her sister’s handwriting suggesting her sister did not die in her house fire but was instead kidnapped. Christy reaches out to the FBI and is connected with Lance McGregor, FBI newbie and ex-Delta Force operator. The first time Christy and Lance meet there is an instant, low level hum of attraction. I loved the way they connect and interact, but while their slowly growing feelings can’t be denied, the case must remain their focus.   Continue reading

Book Review: Shade Me

Shade Me

Shade Me – Jennifer Brown – Nikki Kill #1 – Katherine Tegen Books – Published 19 January 2016



Nikki Kill does not see the world like everyone else. In her eyes, happiness is pink, sadness is a mixture of brown and green, and lies are gray. Thanks to a rare phenomenon called synesthesia, Nikki’s senses overlap, in a way that both comforts and overwhelms her.

Always an outsider, just one ‘D’ shy of flunking out, Nikki’s life is on the fast track to nowhere until the night a mysterious call lights her phone up bright orange—the color of emergencies. It’s the local hospital. They need Nikki to identify a Jane Doe who is barely hanging on to life after a horrible attack.

The victim is Peyton Hollis, a popular girl from Nikki’s school who Nikki hardly knows. One thing is clear: Someone wants Peyton dead. But why? And why was Nikki’s cell the only number in Peyton’s phone?

As she tries to decipher the strange kaleidoscope of clues, Nikki finds herself thrust into the dark, glittering world of the ultra-rich Hollis family, and drawn towards Peyton’s handsome, never-do-well older brother Dru. While Nikki’s colors seem to help her unravel the puzzle, what she can’t see is that she may be falling into a trap. The only truth she can be sure of is that death is a deep, pulsing crimson.

My thoughts

Shade Me is an intriguing mystery. The suspense starts from the very first page and only increases until you reach the dramatic ending. There are fights, clues, scary night scenes, a whole host of suspicious characters and a fierce, independent main character who can more than hold her own.

I really enjoyed this mystery novel. It read like a perfect crime show, but with more depth and twists. Nikki Kill is dragged into a criminal investigation when she receives a mysterious phone call, which is followed by a call from the hospital asking her to come and identify a girl who has been severely beaten. It seems that Nikki is the only one who can start untangling the complicated web of deceit surrounding Peyton Hollis. But the main question Nikki has is why she has been involved at all.  Continue reading

Book Review: Cut the Sugar, You’re Sweet Enough: Cookbook

Cut the Sugar

Cut the Sugar, You’re Sweet Enough: Cookbook – Ella Leche – Andrews McMeel Publishing – Published 5 January 2016



Cut the Sugar, You’re Sweet Enough is a practical, real-life approach to reducing sugar the healthy way so you don’t feel deprived. This is not a sugar-detox book but an inspiring cookbook and guide to change your relationship with the foods you love and address your cravings properly. There are over 100 delicious and easy recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and yes, even dessert!

Ella Leché, the voice behind the popular food blog Pure Ella, used to consider herself a healthful eater. She ate salads; she drank water. But like so many of us, she also looked forward to her daily sweet treats. It wasn’t until her health fell apart due to a rare illness that she began to make the food-health connection.

My thoughts

A bright and summery cookbook, Cut the Sugar, You’re Sweet Enough offers beautiful pictures and diverse recipes. Cut the Sugar does not set out to promote removing sugar completely from your life. Instead it helps readers find sugar alternatives, creating sweet food that is nutritious and replacing the bad sugary things with healthy and enjoyable sweets.

I have watched the quit-sugar craze arrive and seen how colleagues and friends have cut sugar completely from their diets. Many have stuck with it, others succumb to cravings, while others simply can’t manage the restrictions a sugar-free diet imposes. I, on the hand, have continued to eat my regular, balanced, mainly healthy but defiantly not sugar-free diet. I haven’t read the quit sugar books that sit on our library shelf nor have I watched any sugar-is-killing-us documentaries. I would rather enjoy my sweets in naive bliss. But when I heard about this book, a book about reducing sugar but still enjoying the sweet side of life, I was very intrigued. I was not disappointed. While Ella Leche’s level of diet restriction is well out of my range of dedication, it does offer some practical tips for reducing bad sugar intake and replacing it with healthy and nutritious sugar intake.
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Book Review: The Impostor Queen

Impostor Queen

The Impostor Queen – Sarah Fine – Margaret K. McElderry Books – Published 5 January 2016

♥♥♥⁄ ♥


Sixteen-year-old Elli was a small child when the Elders of Kupari chose her to succeed the Valtia, the queen who wields infinitely powerful ice and fire magic. Since then, Elli has lived in the temple, surrounded by luxury and tutored by magical priests, as she prepares for the day when the Valtia perishes and the magic finds a new home in her. Elli is destined to be the most powerful Valtia to ever rule.

But when the queen dies defending the kingdom from invading warriors, the magic doesn’t enter Elli. It’s nowhere to be found.

Disgraced, Elli flees to the outlands, the home of banished criminals—some who would love to see the temple burn with all its priests inside. As she finds her footing in this new world, Elli uncovers devastating new information about the Kupari magic, those who wield it, and the prophecy that foretold her destiny. Torn between the love she has for her people and her growing loyalty to the banished, Elli struggles to understand the true role she was meant to play. But as war looms, she must align with the right side—before the kingdom and its magic are completely destroyed.

My thoughts

A solid fantasy, The Impostor Queens brings together a balance of magic, romance and action.

When Elli was just four years old she was chosen to be the Saadella, the girl who would become queen when the current Valtia died, taking on the queen’s power, a balance of ice and fire magic. But when the Valtia dies, the magic does not rush into Elli like it should. The priests are desperate for a ruler and threaten Elli’s very existence in their efforts to make her magic manifest. Scared, Elli runs, leaving the opulence of the temple for the harsh reality of life outside the city. Rescued by a hunter, Oskar, Elli is taken to live with the bandits in the outlands. There she finally learns more about her powers, or lack of them, and her role in righting the wrongs that have so long been allowed to occur.

It is easy to tell from the first few chapters how this book is generally going to play out, who is going to be the bad guys and how they are going to take power. Elli has a lot to learn. When the book starts she is a pampered and childish girl, secluded from the world. But for all her naivety, she isn’t stupid, asking questions and seeking to know more about the magic, where it comes from and why. I had to drag myself through the first part of the book, waiting for when she would have to flee, hoping this would either a) make things more interesting or b) give Elli the shake up to make her into a more likeable character. Fortunately it does both, as the book develops into something more complicated and far more enjoyable.   Continue reading

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