Category Archives: Book Reviews

Valeria Vose by Alice Bingham Gorman—pub date October 2

As Mallie’s marriage crumbles, she searches for her identity through religion. She falls in love with an unscrupulous priest counseling her, but bounces back and continues her journey of self-discovery. Her friend Jenny introduces her to spiritual retreats and workshops. The story nearly becomes a Christian self-help book multiple times, as it spends much time expounding upon the wisdom of the retreats and workshops. Nevertheless, it’s an excellent portrayal of a woman set loose from what she considered a solid foundation as a wife and mother in the late 70s. Having come unmoored, she must find a way to anchor herself without a partner to lean on and no job skills. The ending is credible, hopeful, and maybe a bit feminist. Gorman does a great job of showing Mallie’s emotions ricocheting around in her head, and how hard she tries to connect with the world around her. Though a bit insular, based on the Christian themes, this book tells a story of women who buy into the Mrs. degree, and how one breaks free after a crash and burn, definitely a worthwhile read. I was fortunate to receive this e-book from She Writes Press through NetGalley.

What Lies Below by Barbara Taylor Sissel

Gilly has “visions” that she can’t control and often only frustrate her with their lack of useful details. Jake pushes her to help him find his daughter Zoe who’s been kidnapped, because he doesn’t understand how Gilly’s visions work. Both of their pasts come creeping in to haunt them, endangering Gilly as well. Sissell writes compelling characters with complex backgrounds, which are shared with beautiful and timely exposition, exploring how far-reaching the consequences of poor judgment and denial. The ending’s revelation is astonishing, and heartening, in its humanity. Fans of Diane Chamberlain and Kristin Hannah will appreciate Sissel’s work. It’s a definite must-read!

In the Dark Corner I Stood Alone by Petra Pavilkova and Anastasia Telegina (illustrator)

These stories of young women—a step-daughter with an evil step-brother, a disillusioned intellectual, a literary feminist teen, a misplaced mother, and even a queen—trying to retain their spiritual essence in a patriarchal world are gorgeously written and illustrated. They read as fairytales, with villains and heroines, a defined delineation of good vs. evil, fantastic realms, a bit of magic, and even actual fairies. Fans of the Brothers Grimm, and especially readers of Angela Slatter, will appreciate the unique flavor of Pavlikova. I was fortunate to win this beautiful ebook through a Goodreads giveaway.

One Must Kill Another by Marcus Alexander Hart

Life hasn’t gone as planned for Kim and Matthew—Matty—Savage, and their marriage comes to a screeching halt in their cabin in the woods, a world away from Kim’s vamp movie career and Matty’s screenwriting failures in LA. Matty shoving Kim into a glass cabinet with their daughter Rebecca—Bex—a witness demarcates the before and after. A decade later, Kim calls her ex-husband and estranged daughter to the cabin, where they are attacked by supernatural creatures they must fight metaphysically to survive.

The story opens with a sad, but realistic, portrayal of an unhealthy family dynamic. After the divorce, the couple and their daughter are ensconced in their own ugly realities. Enter speculative elements attacking dad and daughter at the family cabin, scary fairies from a book mom gave daughter, who relegated the horrifying Hungarian tome to the annual vacation cabin. All the characters are forced into their worst memories, opening up old wounds and creating opportunities to reconnect. This novel, despite its horror genre, is really about how family goes awry on a foundation of secrets and miscommunications. It turned out to be more substantial than expected, and the writing flows well.

I was fortunate to receive a copy of this delightful story through a Goodreads giveaway.

I Wish You Happy by Kerry Anne King

Rae’s a screwup—according to Rae. To her family and friends, she spreads herself too thin and holds unrealistic expectations for herself. When you don’t even fit into your own family, it’s hard to feel at home anywhere. Plus, peopling is hard; animals are easier. Then a woman jerks her bike in front of Rae’s car—the thump and bump of driving over a human drives Rae to feel responsible for her, though eyewitnesses say she couldn’t have avoided hitting her. The mysteriously damaged woman and a houseful of pre-weaned kittens overwhelms Rae. The romantic interest introduces her to his new-agey gran, who explains Rae to herself, guiding her onto a healthier path. This is a wonderful story of the complexities of life, the importance of connecting with others, and how everyone must find their own way, not to mention that communication is key. King’s writing draws you in and wraps you in a big, fluffy blanket of ambiguities, yet dear reader leaves her work somehow better equipped to traverse these gray areas. King’s talent makes the words disappear as the story flows through the reader, while letting us know that often others see us more clearly than we can see ourselves. Highly recommended!

My joy was in receiving this ebook in a giveaway. Check out King’s work on her website, where you can find links to purchase her books: https://www.kerryanneking.com/

The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay—pub date October 23, 2018

Franco-American Linden Malegarde travels to Paris to celebrate with family his father’s 70th birthday to find himself trapped in a flood and more than one family crisis preventing their evacuation. Over a few deluge-filled days, the Malegarde family bursts at the seams, spewing secrets and long-held hurts, with deadly descriptive flashbacks and a horrifying centimeter-by-centimeter account of a real-life flood. De Rosnay’s writing flows like the Seine spilling over its banks, sparing no characters of their integrity in situations that require fortitude beyond their human frailty. She takes on more than one social issue, in Linden alone being an outsider in more than one way, in more than one country, his saving graces being a successful creative and having a supportive partner. Readers of historical fiction, Francophiles, and fans of Liane Moriarty and Thritty Umrigar will appreciate this novel. I was fortunate to receive an early copy of #TheRainWatcher from #St.Martin’sPress through #NetGalley.

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

Franny, Jet, and Vincent come of age in New York City, far removed from their ancestral home by their mother’s rules, which they continually break as they learn about their extraordinary powers. Jet is the first to break their mother’s rule of not falling in love, suffering the fate of the curse placed on their family by their ancestor Maria, cruelly deceived in romance. Allowing Franny to visit her great-aunts on her 17th birthday per family tradition opens up a whole new pathway in life for her, and fate brings all three siblings to live with their aunts, where they truly learn who they are and exactly how different. In this prequel to Practical Magic, readers learn about Vincent and how the curse affects an Owens’ male, for he disappears from his family in circumstances as extraordinary as his powers. As in her previous novel, Hoffman continues to weave magic into everyday life as though it’s normal, at least for the Owens family, who are all too aware of their status outside of mainstream. She shows the challenges of being a witch in societies that find it too difficult to accept what they don’t understand, even while hypocritically taking advantage of the witches’ gifts, one of which is unconditional kindness, for which they are never thanked. For readers who like a little magic with their complex family dynamics, this story will certainly be appreciated. For those living with differences not readily explained, the Owens siblings would be easily relateable. Hoffman’s characters retain their integrity within their limitations as witches, including not being able to save a loved own drowning because everyone knows witches float. The story ends where Practical Magic picks up, with Vincent’s granddaughters—orphans as far as they know—arriving at their great-aunt’s home to live with them.

The Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert

Life seems to be careening out of control for Sanna Lund, whose sole desire is to live quietly in her ancestral home, creating apple ciders in her unique way of tasting colors. An accident temporarily incapacitates her father Einars, the new hired hand Isaac stirs new feelings she’s not planned on entertaining—his son Sebastion distracts her as well, and her brother Anders, who moved away, urges her to sell the struggling family business. Secrets crack her long-held paradigms and Sanna comes to realize certain truths cannot be ignored, and she opens herself up to more than she imagined was possible, including a mother she’d tried to cut out of her heart.

This is a brilliant story of a creative synesthete attempting to sustain her insular world, a young woman forced to trust new people, blur her black and white judgment, and broaden her horizon to survive. Reichert carefully weaves the romantic elements into the story while maintaining the integrity of complex characters and challenging relationship dynamics. Novels offer life reminders, and this story teaches us how to let go and open ourselves up to others in order to keep moving forward. It’s a beautiful theme and a gorgeous cast that includes an orchard with heirloom apple trees.

The Promise Between Us by Barbara Claypole White

Katie suffers post-partum OCD in silence for fear of destroying her life, but loses that life when her husband Callum realizes that he’s ignored her problem too long and feels their marriage is irreparable and their daughter is in danger. She disappears and he raises Maisie alone, with support from his best friend Jake, cutting out Katie’s sister Delaney also. In a jarring coincidence, Katie’s artistry brings her in contact with her daughter, who believes her mother died, and she sees evidence of inherited OCD. She must convince Callum, a man whose past blinds him to his family’s needs. With Callum’s pregnant second wife included in the family picture, alliances shift, romances are roused, and a little girl teaches adults how to behave. Though the repetition can be nettlesome to the reader, Katie’s constant fears and reminders demonstrate the experience of OCD. There may have been a bit much to the back and forth of convincing Callum, since Katie’s argument never really shifts. Persistence seems to be the key to OCD. It’s clear the author did her research and she acknowledges her resources. This is a good story to read for a sympathetic, but not pitying, representation of living with a mental illness.

Monsterland Reanimated by Michael Okon blog tour

Monsterland Reanimated

by Michael Okon

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GENRE

Young Adult Fiction/Thriller

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BLURB

After Monsterland has imploded, the entire world is thrown into chaos. World leadership is gone, economies have collapsed, and communications are non-existent. Wyatt must go beyond the boundaries of his small town to reestablish contact with the outside world, and alert the government about a traitor-in-chief.

During his journey he discovers a new threat released from the bowels of the defunct theme park.

When an army of relentless mummies, a life-sucking ooze called The Glob, and a hybrid reanimated Behemoth rise from the depths of Monsterland, who will survive?

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EXCERPTS

He knew the werewolves were dead; he had seen it with his own eyes. A figure detached from the shadows. Igor flattened himself against the wall. He watched it move stealthily down the street, stopping when it scavenged a morsel of rotting flesh. It looked up to stare at Igor, its eyes glowing in the darkness.

A coyote? He waved a hand, dismissing it. It had to be a coyote; it was too small to be a wolf, too big to be a dog. The beast twitched its ears, then resumed its meal.

Igor knew the coyote was not a threat, and he continued his mission. His lame foot hit a can, sending a cacophony of sound like an explosion in the deserted park. The beast dropped the bone it was gnawing on, sniffing the area. Its iridescent eyes searched the streets.

It could be a baby wolf, Igor thought, keeping himself as still as possible. He felt it watching him, even from this distance. It was not a threat, yet.

Igor skittered away, hugging the walls of Monsterland, putting as much distance as he could between them. Not an easy feat, considering his distorted hips. He muttered to himself about carrion and the wind. His eyes darted nervously, scouring the hills, not exactly sure what he was looking for. Adrenaline coursed through his veins. His heart pounded so loudly he was certain that the creature watching him could hear it too.

His feet stumbling to a halt, he bent over, gasping for air, cursing Vincent and those meddlesome teenagers, as well as the rest of the world.

The beast gave another mournful howl that went right through him. Igor glanced at his empty hands, berating himself for not bringing a weapon. He searched his surroundings for anything to protect himself.

Then he saw it, one of the axes they had on almost every corner. All of them had been pulled from their protective cases. One was lying in a pool of coagulating blood, the blade long gone. He picked up the broken axe handle, turning in a semicircle. He was ready for an attacker.

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Author Interview

  1. Who is your biggest influence on writing? My son. He has reignited my love of amazing movies from the 80s and 90s.
  2. Favorite food –RARE Double Bacon Cheeseburger, no LTOP, or Bun.
  3. When did you start writing? When I was 5 years old.
  4. If money were no object, where would you like to live? In Fantasyland.
  5. What’s next for you? Getting a movie made, and opening up a production company, while still writing everyday.

AUTHOR Bio and Links

Michael Okon is an award-winning and best-selling author of multiple genres including paranormal, thriller, horror, action/adventure and self-help. He graduated from Long Island University with a degree in English, and then later received his MBA in business and finance. Coming from a family of writers, he has storytelling in his DNA. Michael has been writing from as far back as he can remember, his inspiration being his love for films and their impact on his life. From the time he saw The Goonies, he was hooked on the idea of entertaining people through unforgettable characters.

Michael is a lifelong movie buff, a music playlist aficionado, and a sucker for self-help books. He lives on the North Shore of Long Island with his wife and children.

Website: http://www.michaelokon.com/

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/Michael-Okon/e/B0752THRZV/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

iBooks Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/author/michael-okon/id1292020808?mt=11

Kobo Link: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/search?query=Michael Okon&fcsearchfield=Author

Barnes & Nobel Link: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/monsterland-michael-okon/1126998959?ean=9781614755944

SmashWords Link: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/MichaelOkon

Email: michaelokonbooks@gmail.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/IAmMichaelOkon

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/iammichaelokon/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iammichaelokon

Snapchat: https://www.snapchat.com/add/iammichaelokon

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GIVEAWAY

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