Posted in Reviews

Review: The Lucky Ones by Tiffany Reisz

The Lucky OnesThe Lucky Ones by Tiffany Reisz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s hard to know how to classify “The Lucky Ones,” because it blends so many genres into one succinct package: mystery/thriller, drama, romance. As a fan of all of those categories, I really enjoyed this book and think anyone else who enjoys a multi-layered book will too.

Allison was just a child when she was fostered by Dr. Capello, a rich man with a beautiful home along the Oregon coast. She loved every minute of her life in the house with the other children taken in by the doctor – until she was possibly pushed down a flight of stairs and was whisked away by an elderly aunt, never to hear from the people she thought of as family again; that is, until Dr. Capello is dying and Allison is invited to the house to say goodbye. Will the visit bring back memories both good and bad? And will she finally find out what happened all those years ago?

I really enjoyed the setting of this book – the Dragon, a beautiful Victorian-style beach home filled with secrets and misfits. It was the perfect place to set this book, where things begin to not add up as time goes on. The slow-burn atmosphere blends well with the setting.

I also loved that there was enough foreshadowing to figure out some things, but not the entire big picture. There were some revelations I gasped out loud at (hint, without spoiling: Allison’s role in the house). I also liked that the big picture made you think. I was, and still am, very conflicted about everything and would love to chat with others who have read it to see what they think.

It’s a complicated book with a complicated plot – but I enjoyed it so, so much. It would be a great spring/summer read out on a porch with a glass of tea by your side.

That actually sounds really nice…

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Posted in Author Q&As

Author Q&A: Mark Morrison, TwoSpells

Mark & Sarah
Mark Morrison and his daughter, Sarah, the inspiration for the character of the same name in TwoSpells!

Yesterday, I reviewed the fantasy adventure TwoSpells, by Mark Morrison, a fun blend of the Narnia series and stories like “A Wrinkle in Time.” Below, Mark shares how he got the idea for this whole new world, where his imagination comes from and check below for a little bit about his next book!

Where did the idea for TwoSpells come from? 
One of my daughters-in-law is a librarian. I love her like my own daughter and not just because my son does but because she’s a wonderful person in a million ways. I wanted to create a story in honor of her. The story wasn’t titled yet and  originally started out as a children’s fantasy about a living library that was waging an internal war between the written word and the new electronic technologies of eBooks that were pushing traditional books aside. That idea lasted for maybe a day or two before it morphed dramatically into what it is today. I’m not sure how or why it evolved so rapidly but it did.
Was it difficult to create an entire new “world,” with its own backstory and system?
Not really because I grew up in a family of modest means with seven brothers and sisters. We always had enough to eat but not a whole lot extra frills. My father used to say he was an uneducated genius and I really do believe he was. He invented a game for us all to entertain ourselves as a family that didn’t cost a dime. It was called, UH!

The family would gather in the living room and one of us was elected to start. That person would start creating a totally fictitious story out of thin air. Then they’d pause mid-sentence and let the next player take over from there. This continued around the room until someone hesitated or said “uh”. That player was out and the game continued until only one person was left. The stories we created were most often incredibly strange because each of us was attempting to make the next in line chuckle and fumble by saying, ‘uh!’. It was an awesome game of improvisation, so I credit my love of storytelling to that silly game my father claims to have invented.

Why did you choose to have two main characters instead of one?

I think for two reasons. One; my oldest son, my mentor and personal tutor, said it would be wise and that’s that’s good enough for me because he’s much smarter than I am. And two; a famous song I heard as a child says, ‘one is the loneliest number next to two.’ That same son agreed.

The book has some serious/scary moments followed by some really funny, lighthearted scenes. How did you strike that balance?
It’s a simply reflection of my own life so it came naturally. I work as a grief and family counselor and am surprised at how resilient families can be after a loved one has passed. I guess humor is a coping mechanism for a lot of folks. I handle adversity the very same way by trying to let it roll off me and move on usually by trying to find some humor in the issue. Another great saying my father had was “i, ‘it’s not a problem if money can solve it, otherwise it’s just an issue.'” I’ve found that most bad things start out as appearing to be problems but are really just issues.

Why did you choose to end on a bit of a cliffhanger?
For only one reason, I love them myself. I can’t be the only one who loves a good cliffhanger. I can guess that’s why so many writers use them too.

What do you like about writing for young adults?
Because I believe I probably maxed out in my maturity somewhere within that bracket, so it makes me completely comfortable with that writing level or below. Birds of a feather right.

What can we expect from the sequel?
That would be sequels because I’ve rough fleshed out outlines for four more of the series already, each very unique from the others. The beauty of the sequels is I don’t need to reenact all the backstory as in the first. It’s pure story-line from this point. I’ve got approximately 25% of the second TwoSpells completed and it is spectacular, at least in my mind that is.

Mark was also kind enough to share the cover of his next book with me – and it’s also gorgeous, done by the same artist who designed the cover of TwoSpells.

Corky 4

About the Book

A young pig named Corky witnesses his mothers abduction, leaving he and his father alone and frightened, both now forced to fend for themselves.

His father enrolled him an obedience school for dogs where he doesn’t fit in because of his very unique physical differences.

He must overcome adversity and discrimination at every turn which he manages to defeat valiantly. He eventually becomes overwhelmed and runs away from home, only to face a wild series of twisted mishaps, strange characters, brazen heroes and wicked villains.

His remarkable adventure will ultimately mold him into the most interesting pig in the world.

Posted in Reviews

Review: TwoSpells by Mark Morrison

Check back tomorrow for a special Q&A with author Mark Morrison!

TwoSpellsTwoSpells by Mark Morrison

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I think of what makes a good fantasy novel, the things that come to mind are: a great setting, a backstory/lore that isn’t too overwhelming or hard to understand, and some quirky, but lovable, characters.

TwoSpells has all of that, making it a book that not only will young adults enjoy, but adult fans of books like the Narnia series, “A Wrinkle In Time,” or Lemony Snickett, will also enjoy.

The book revolves around twins Sarah and Jon, who think they are taking a quiet vacation in the Welsh countryside to visit their grandparents. Instead, the pair find themselves learning about their family’s role as “special people,” with access to an inter-dimensional world, at the center of which is a magical library. When trouble arises, its up to the twins to help their new world restore order and protect their people.

I love the idea of this book – being able to bring stories to life inside of a world inhabited by some really quirky characters (Flunkies – junkies addicted to fluttering book pages, and Collectors, stern, sometimes mean, men who collect overdue library books). It was all great fun!

Also, the main characters are absolutely great, with Sarah and Jon being typical young people, but with the kind of courage and curiosity we hope our young people have. And Grandma and Grandpa. I probably laughed at least once during every scene they were in. I loved them. Their adventures will continue in sequels and I look forward to it!

Overall, this book is a nice escape from the “real world” and would be a great addition to any young adult’s library, or even an adult fantasy fan’s.

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Posted in Reviews

Review: Death by Dumpling by Vivien Chien

Death by Dumpling (A Noodle Shop Mystery #1)Death by Dumpling by Vivien Chien

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading several intense, dark dramas, I decided I needed a little break and grabbed this cozy mystery – and I’m so glad I did! This is definitely a super cute new series that I am absolutely looking forward to continuing.

The main character of the series is Lana Lee, a young woman who is working at her parents’ Chinese restaurant in the Asian Village shopping plaza. When the plaza’s owner is found dead over an order of dumpling from the restaurant – that Lana delivered – suspicion immediately falls on Lana and a longtime friend. Together with her roommate, Megan, Lana decides to look into the crime on her own and figure out what’s going on in the tight-knit community.

I loved the characters in this book – they were so charming, and in some cases, mysterious, that I couldn’t help but be sucked in to their world. Plus, I loved Kikko. Every scene she was in was my favorite, lol.

The foreshadowing in this book was a little thick and I pretty much figured out the ending before it was revealed, but in a cozy mystery, it really is more about the atmosphere and the characters, so I can forgive that. Hopefully things will balance out in future books.

Also, don’t read this book on an empty stomach, because you will be hungry by the end. I have been craving some Chinese food since I began this book.

I am so excited to see where this series goes and will definitely be reading the next one!

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Posted in Book Extras, For Fun

Teaser Tuesday: The Lucky Ones by Tiffany Reisz

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Welcome to Teaser Tuesday, the weekly Meme that wants you to add books to your TBR, or just share what you are currently reading. The meme is hosted by The Purple Booker!
It is very easy to play along:
Grab your current read

  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  •  Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! Everyone loves Teaser Tuesday.

This week I’m starting a book that has a great, unique premise, “The Lucky Ones
by Tiffany Reisz. It looks like it’s going to be super creepy and mysterious, so I’m all in!

Alright, here we go:
Roland waited, sitting on the windowsill. He didn’t need to ask – she didn’t want him to, And yet, she sudden;y felt the urge to reveal everything.
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About the Book
They called themselves “the lucky ones.” They were seven children either orphaned or abandoned by their parents and chosen by legendary philanthropist and brain surgeon Dr. Vincent Capello to live in The Dragon, his almost magical beach house on the Oregon Coast. Allison was the youngest of the lucky ones living an idyllic life with her newfound family…until the night she almost died, and was then whisked away from the house and her adopted family forever.

Now, thirteen years later, Allison receives a letter from Roland, Dr. Capello’s oldest son, warning her that their father is ill and in his final days. Allison determines she must go home again and confront the ghosts of her past. She’s determined to find out what really happened that fateful night–was it an accident or, as she’s always suspected, did one of her beloved family members try to kill her?

But digging into the past can reveal horrific truths, and when Allison pieces together the story of her life, she’ll learns the terrible secret at the heart of the family she once loved but never really knew.

A vivid and suspenseful tale of family, grief, love—and the dark secrets that bind everything together—Tiffany Reisz’s latest is enthralling to the final page.

Posted in Reviews

Review: The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll

The Favorite SisterThe Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was incredibly intense and filled with drama from the first pages to the very end. I loved the drama and suspense added to the Real Housewives-esque premise. I was turning pages late into the night on this one.

The book chronicles the filming of the latest season of the reality show “Goal Diggers,” which follows the lives and loves of five successful young businesswomen in New York City. Like on any “reality” show, the drama is ramped up and palpable on air – and it appears some of that has found its way off camera. The book opens with the fact that one of the show’s stars is dead – how and why are revealed as flashbacks show the events of that fateful season.

I loved the dark atmosphere that pervades the book – every single is hiding things and lying to each other and the outing of those secrets is pretty huge. There were several twists I didn’t see coming at all – I reread some passages to make sure I was understanding them correctly!

I also loved all the characters in their own way; they were each pretty terrible people, but fascinating and lovable in their own ways.

This book has a great mystery and some great twists, but its got as much drama and cat-fighting as it does thrills. As such, like “My Mother the Liar,” it’s not necessarily for people looking for a hardcore mystery/thriller. But if you love good, juicy dramas with a hint of mystery, this IS the book for you! This is the perfect book for a road trip or an airplane ride – a time when you just need to escape and be pulled into another world.

I gave it four stars because the revelations in the end came fast and furious – it left me with a couple follow-up questions.

Overall, this book is one of my favorites from one of my favorite new authors.

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Posted in Reviews

Review: Watch Me by Jody Gehrman

Watch MeWatch Me by Jody Gehrman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

This book is a little different than a typically thriller in that we know who the bad guy is from the beginning – but what he’s up to and how long it will take everyone to figure it out are at the heart of the book.

Kate is a professor and bestselling author who is at a low-point in her life: she can’t seem to recapture the magic of her first novel, her husband left her, and she worries her best friend, who is pregnant and recently married, will be next. Then a student in her writing workshop begins to intrigue her – he’s handsome and seems to say all the right things. But little does Kate understand just how dangerously into her Sam is.

This book was really intriguing and the author did a great job of creating suspense and an air of mystery. Kate and Sam were both interesting characters in their owns ways, since there’s not a lot of background that we’re given on each of them. We’re left to piece together their motivations as the book goes on.

I also liked that there were some very witty lines and some very spicy scenes scattered throughout the book. They added the right amount of spark to what could have been just a run-of-the-mill stalker story.

The foreshadowing was a little much, however. It was pretty obvious how it was going to end about 40 percent of the way in. I also did not like the epilogue, which kind of made me feel….icky? Frustrated? Something like that.

Overall, I did enjoy this book, but had some issues with it. However, there were more than enough redeeming qualities to keep me reading until the end.

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