Review: Witch Finder by Ruth Warburton

18039069 This amazing cover drew me in once again. How gorgeous is this girl? How amazing is this lighting? This book starts off very strong with Luke being initiated into a Brotherhood of witch hunters. His initiation includes killing a witch and that doesn’t bother him at all. He was only hoping it would be the witch that killed his parents. When that doesn’t happen and he’s assigned to kill 16 year old Rosa Greenwood who comes from a powerful witch family he thinks this will still be no big deal.

Luke goes undercover as a stable hand and the POV changes to Rosa’s and we get to glimpse inside her life. We discover that her life is not so rosy as her mother and family are depending on her to save their family from poverty. Rosa doesn’t agree with using her magic for anything bad but unfortunately for her she has to sit back and watch as her family goes against everything she believe in.

I really enjoyed this book, which turned out to have a good mix of magic and YA romance. It’s not super heavy on either, and has a decent amount of action in the mix as well. The last third of the book was pretty surprising to me and definitely made me do my speed reading thing where I had to finish it all at once to know what happened right then.

I received this ARC in return for an honest review.

4 stars.

~ Clio

Buy it Now Witch Finder

Review: Stella Bain by Anita Shreve

20131225-214734.jpgHistorical fiction is a very popular genre these days. From “The Book Thief” to “The Help”, authors all around are creating beautiful works of literature that seamlessly mesh historical facts with spellbinding fictional story lines. This one could have been part of that elite group.

The story begins with an unknown woman waking up injured in a battlefield hospital in France. The year is 1916, and World War I is underway. The woman identifies herself as Stella Bain but can remember nothing more than working as a nurse’s aid and driving an ambulance. Whether this is true or not is anyone’s guess. Driven by the need to find out the truth about her past, she feels the urge to travel to London where she senses the truth must lie. When she arrives in London, she is taken in by a kind physician and his wife. With their help, she is able to recover her memory. As such, she discovers what she was unknowingly hiding from. Without giving too much of the story away, there follows a legal battle which forces “Stella” to confront her past.

I had high hopes for this book, having enjoyed other works by Anita Shreve. This one started out in dramatic fashion and held my attention through about two-thirds of the story. Then it just gradually faded away for me. The author is a skillful writer who weaves a beautiful story full of historical details. The problem for me was that it just died out towards the end. I felt like the ending was rushed and a huge chunk of time was skipped. I get a great deal of satisfaction from knowing what happens to “my” characters at the end of a book and this one didn’t do it for me. It’s not a bad story, but I felt that it could have ended on a better note.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Stella Bain

Review: Catch of the Day (Destiny Romance) by Carla Caruso

20131229-230706.jpg Winnie was sent from Sydney aaaallllll across the country to a small Australian coastal town in the matter of a couple of days. Her chic flat, her sophisticated nightlife, and her fabulous job at a fashion magazine were replaced by temp housing in a fishing village and a startup beach magazine with 2 employees. Winnie was not a happy girl.

…Until she met Alex, buff fisherman and talented photographer. They kissed, then thought better of it. They hooked up, then thought better of it. Each time the relationship changed, it went up a little higher and down a little further. It didn’t help that Alex was hiding secrets from his past, and Winnie lacked self-esteem.

Once Winnie formed some solid friendships and work relationships, she was ready to have a real relationship with Alex– but only if he would be honest and reliable. Once Alex dealt with his family secrets and put them out in the open, he was ready to welcome Winnie into his arms.

Cute story, maybe a little drawn out in some places. Reading Alex and Winnie’s texts was fun. Winnie’s desperate neediness was annoying, but it didn’t last long. I loved the beach setting, the Australian idioms, and the magazine life! Worth the $2 for fun, “destination” chick lit.

–Calliope

Buy it now Catch of the Day

Review: The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton

20131227-125151.jpg It’s the late ’60s and five ladies who hang out with their children at a park in Palo Alto strike up a friendship. Ally, Kath, Brett, Linda and Frankie have different marriage situations, different backgrounds, and varied financial statuses, but they all want the same thing: to be noticed and appreciated.

The women decide to start writing — and sharing their work on Wednesdays at the park. As they navigate the world of literary critique without hurting feelings, they learn to love each other despite any shortcomings in their talent or personalities.

I just loved this book. It reminded me of my relationship with my sister and my best friends – always honest, sometimes abrupt or annoyed, always loving. These ladies were strong and independent, even as housewives in the 1960s. But they intelligently chose to rely on each other when a husband cheats, a pregnancy ends in miscarriage, self-esteem tanks, an old injury leaves physical and emotional scars, and breast cancer threatens to take a mother from her children. The women weren’t perfect. They judged each other silently, and supported each other out loud. But I guess you don’t really care what someone thinks of you when you’re suffering; you care how people treat you.

I think I mostly loved this book because the friendship was real – flawed and imperfect, but they always figured out what to do to move on from their mistakes. I laughed and cried at these five women sharing a relationship this special, while raising children, taking care of their homes and husbands, and dealing with the tragedies life threw at them.

The ending? Think Johnny Carson, blatant hilarity, and true love for our fellow man. I mean, woman.

–Calliope

Buy it now The Wednesday Sisters

Review: Love a Little Sideways by Shannon Stacey

20131227-135257.jpg Seems to be a theme of strong, anti-commitment female protagonists and marriage-minded heroes these days. It’s a nice break from the traditional, and it makes for fun girls’ nights and sweet men pining for their women.

Drew and Liz were family friends back in the day, mostly because Drew was best friends with Liz’s brother Mitch. And they hooked up at Mitch’s wedding 8 months ago, which is being held as Top Secret, lest Mitch beat the pulp out of Drew. Then Liz went back to her life in New Mexico.

When Liz returns to her childhood home in Maine, she and Drew have to face the music – and each other. They have plenty of chemistry but no common goals for the future. A family camping trip forces them to make decisions about their relationship.

I liked the family atmosphere in Love a Little Sideways. On the camping trip, there were ATV rides, swimming pool games of doom, family meals, campfires, wild children, and new babies with their mamas. It reminded me of the family reunions I’ve been to in the summer, where the mothers make sure the kids are safe and the fathers make sure the kids have fun… and are worn out for bedtime! I had a ball with the Kowalskis, and totally understood how grateful Liz was to be back with her family.

Liz and Drew had obvious chemistry, and they cared for each other. I enjoyed watching them navigate their relationship, trying to find a place that fit each of their goals. The journey of this romance was super fun. The ending was romantic, but a little bit silly in light of Liz’s stance on marriage and babies throughout the story. All in all, Love a Little Sideways is a cleverly-written, upbeat romance with a lot of family fun.

Just a little aside: I have a thing for cops, so it was fun to read Drew as a young-ish police chief hero. But please note, no police officer would lie down to watch fireworks while in uniform, much less with his gun belt on! That scene made me giggle, trying to picture my favorite cop doing the same. 🙂

–Calliope

Buy it now Love a Little Sideways

Review: The Happy Endings Book Club by Jane Tara

20131222-104759.jpg This book is weird. That’s my opinion, and it’s not to say the book is bad, because it’s not. The book is well written and clever; it’s just the quirkiest, oddest book I’ve ever read. I was slogging through it, not enjoying it at all, when all of a sudden at 75% of the way through, I got it. I understood. And I burst into tears as all the problems of all the characters met inside my mind and exploded there. I’m not sure if that made me ENJOY the book any more than before, but I sure do appreciate it now.

The Happy Endings Book Club is a group of women who need a little encouragement and uplifting. They’re fading into the background of life and need some verve. Some of the women find “life” in reality, and some find it in fantasy: fairly lands and magic.

The fantasy world in the novel isn’t isolated like Hogwarts in Harry Potter. Instead, it’s part of the regular world… More like fantastical beings existing with all their powers in the mortal world. And while that allows great freedom in the plot, it also confuses a linear realist like me!

I liked the characters, the plot lines, the endings and new beginnings. I had a tough time with the magic, the fairyland, and the special powers…. but only because those are out of my comfort zone. This clever novel opened my eyes and gave me a lot to think about.

–Calliope

Buy it now The Happy Endings Book Club

Review: Under Different Stars (Kricket#1), by Amy Bartol

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“You cannot thrive under the wrong stars, Kricket.”

I have loved Amy Bartol, since I first read her Premonition series. So when I found out she was writing another series, I was excited to read it. When I saw the cover, I knew it was going to be different. And I was correct. I will admit that for the first 25% I was confused with all the names and titles of things. Since this takes place on another planet, everything is different. I highlighted a ton and kept going back for reviewing. 🙂 Eventually I forgot about the names and just followed the story.

17 yr old Kricket has always wanted a home and family. After growing up in the foster care system, she decides to break out of it and find her own way. She’s been doing that for two years and she just wants to get to her 18th birthday, so she can quite looking over she shoulder.

Trey Allairis is a soldier, sent from her planet, along with his friends, Wayra and Jax, to bring her back. She doesn’t want to go, but she doesn’t have a choice. And as they make their way to her real home, he realizes that she is more than just a mission. He also discovers that she isn’t a timid little flower and can stand up for herself against big strong soldiers. Slowly she wraps them around her little finger.

Kricket learns that she has powers, with the potential for many more, and that makes her a hot commodity. She just wants to go back to Earth, but there is no escaping. She must learn how to conform to her current situation, while holding herself together. When all the five houses of Ethar start vying for her, she must make some difficult decisions and rely on Trey to help her.

Kyon knows about Kricket, and her potential powers, and wants her for himself. And he will do anything to get her. No matter what Kricket does to dissuade him, he will not back down. Either he will have her, or no one will.

Slowly, but surely Trey realizes his feelings for her and decides he would do anything to protect her, even if it means to let her go to an enemy. As long as she’s alive, he can move on.

“If I touch her, she’ll have my soul”

I can’t wait til the next book comes out. I know I have long to wait, but it’ll be worth it. I must know what happens!! Will Kricket be able to be with Trey, without fear?? What happened to Kyon?? I MUST KNOW!!!

~Melpomene

Buy it now Under Different Stars (The Kricket Series)