Friday, May 27, 2016

Jess Steven Hughes - The Wolf of Britannia Part I

11. The Wolf of Britannia Part I by Jess Steven Hughes (2015)
The Sign of the Eagle Trilogy Book 1
Length: 321 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Started: 16 May 2016
Finished: 27 May 2016
Where did it come from? Many thanks to Dorothy at Pump up Your Book for sending me a copy of this book to read.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 26 April 2016
Why do I have it? I like historical fiction and Jess Steven Hughes is a new author for me.

Britain during the first century is a divided land - a fragmented and unsettled country populated by a myriad of warring Celtic tribes. Thus, it is also a land ripe for invasion from the military might of imperial Rome. Knowing that the Roman juggernaut would love nothing more than to subjugate Britain to the will of the Roman Empire, a young warrior prince must somehow unite his people.

The soon-to-be-legendary Prince Caractacus realizes that he must find a way to unite the southern tribes if they are all to survive. Imperial Rome is proving to be a cunning and strategic adversary; a dangerous enemy more threatening and powerful than either Caractacus or his people could possibly have imagined. Britain surely faces an epic battle for its very survival.

Standing beside the eminent Prince Caractacus is his wife, Rhian, a warrior princess who takes no prisoners. She is the first woman Caractacus has ever loved, and is also a force to be reckoned with in her own right. With her support and that of his other allies, Caractacus must outsmart Adminios - his traitorous older brother who is determined to take the throne. Adminios is aided in his devious plans by a conniving Roman diplomat and a tribal chieftain who is in the pockets of the Romans.

Caractacus' mission is a necessary one, but also incredibly difficult to fulfill. He must not only save his country from the pending onslaught of the Roman Empire, but also from a more insidious internal threat: his own people's treachery. As the various combatants begin to emerge from the shadows and prepare themselves for battle, Caractacus knows that he must succeed in his mission...or else die trying.

I have always enjoyed reading historical epics and The Wolf of Britainnia Part I by Jess Steven Hughes was no different. In my opinion, this story was well-developed and intriguing. At no point in the story did I feel like I was reading a dry, step-by-step historical account.

I found myself quickly immersed in the story and freely admit that I got lost in the plot. I really connected with many of the characters and I'm avidly waiting to find out what happens in the next installment of this trilogy. I give The Wolf of Britainnia Part I by Jess Steven Hughes an A!

A! - (90-95%)

May you read well and often

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Deborah and James Howe - Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery

10. Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery by Deborah and James Howe (1979)
The Bunnicula Series Book 1
Length: 116 pages 
Genre: Horror 
Started: 19 May 2016
Finished: 21 May 2016
Where did it come from? From Bookmooch
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 14 April 2015
Why do I have it? I like horror and Deborah and James Howe are new authors for me.

The Monroe family is just a typical American family - and still is in many respects. However, little does this normal family realize how much their situation will change by the end of a particularly  dark and stormy night. The family pets - Harold the dog and Chester the cat are both spending a quiet night at home, while Mom and Dad Monroe and their two sons - eight-year-old Toby and ten-year-old Pete - are at the movies.

By the time that the Monroes return, they seem to have acquired an unexpected guest - a tiny cute-looking black and white bunny, that the boys found bundled up in the very last row of the movie theater. Obviously, such an innocent, harmless creature only needs a good home and a loving family to care for him. So, the Monroe family decides to take this homeless little waif back with them, and name him Bunnicula, in honor of the movie that they saw: Dracula.

Immediately, Harold and Chester's suspicions are raised. Apparently, all the diabolical signs are there - a seemingly heart-broken mother's message is pinned to the baby rabbit's blanket: "Take good care of my baby" is scrawled in an obscure foreign dialect; strains of exotic violin music echo hauntingly through the night; the desiccated husks of defenseless vegetables litter the Monroes' kitchen floor, although the peculiar bunny shows an obvious aversion to garlic. As Bunnicula slowly settles into his new home and family, Harold and Chester's ultimate mission soon becomes abundantly clear: Beware of the Hare!

The furry duo know that they must do everything within their power to protect the unsuspecting Monroe family from the frightening repercussions of their kindly actions. This well-meaning family has absolutely no inkling of the immense danger in which they have placed themselves. After all, Bunnicula's master plan of domestic domination is stunningly devious for all its quiet simplicity: "Today vegetables...tomorrow the world!" Before it gets too late, Harold and Chester must discover the truth about the newest addition to their household - the suspicious-looking bunny with the mesmerizing eyes and unusual behavior...and fangs!

I've actually read this book once before - when I was approximately ten years old. I had received this book from the Scholastic Book Club during one of the several times a year that the book club sent their newsletter around to all the school districts. The kids in my class were allowed to choose whichever books they wanted to buy, and I was usually the one kid who ended up having the most books stacked up on her desk. I have since lost my copy of this book but wanted to get another copy to keep in my collection.

I found this book to be easy-reading and to be extremely funny, although it seemed to be slightly dated for being written in 1979. I would still give this book an A! I think that I have some of Mr. Howe's books from this series somewhere on my bookshelf.

A! - (90-95%)

May you read well and often

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Stacy Juba - Dark Before Dawn

9. Dark Before Dawn by Stacy Juba (2011)
The Young Ladies of Mystery Series Book 3
Length: 109 pages
Genre: Paranormal Mystery 
Started: 6 May 2016
Finished: 12 May 2016
Where did it come from? Many thanks to Tami at Magic of Books Promotions for sending me a copy of this book to read.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 25 April 2016
Why do I have it? I like paranormal mysteries and have read and enjoyed several books by this author in the past.

Sixteen-year-old Dawn Christian has recently moved to Covington, Maine to live with her new family - her mother, stepfather and seventeen-year-old stepbrother. Moving to a new town can be  difficult for anyone, but for Dawn it has been particularly stressful. Having lost her father at the age of seven, it's just been herself and her mom since then - or at least it was until her mother remarried and they moved in with her new husband and his son. Dawn is actually settling in fairly well - getting along with her new stepfather and stepbrother, getting used to being in a new school, doing her best to fit in with the crowd.

However, not everything is as it seems: Dawn and her mother have shared a secret with each other ever since she was a little girl. Dawn has always had the ability to predict certain events - from the benign to the horrific - and these premonitions of hers usually come true. In an effort to protect her daughter, Dawn's mother has told her to never reveal her abilities to anyone - and Dawn has always done her best to follow that advice. Yet, she can't help but still feel like an outsider.

That feeling begins to dissipate slightly when she meets two girls - Candace and Jamie - who apparently share her mysterious talents. Dawn's new friends may help her to fit in, but when she is introduced to a woman who Candace calls her 'psychic mentor' - a fortuneteller by the name of Serina - Dawn feels that she has finally found the place where she belongs. 

Serina is a striking woman; confident and warm. She is also willing to teach Dawn how to develop her abilities; telling her that she has no reason to hide something that makes her so special. After spending so many years feeling like a misfit, Dawn appreciates the acceptance that she found among her new friends. However, when a series of bizarre incidents start happening around town, Dawn becomes troubled.

While the strange incidents initially seem harmless, Dawn suspects that her new friends may be involved in some of these ominous occurrences. She doesn't want to believe that they could possibly have done anything harmful; but as time passes and each situation grows increasingly more dangerous - she can't be entirely certain that this isn't the case. Jamie and Candace just may have ties to several of these freak accidents, and Dawn knows that she has an important decision to make.

She realizes that she is standing at a crossroads in her life: should she continue developing the talents that make her special, or walk away from her new friends entirely. Dawn isn't quite sure if she has the strength to do so, but she knows that there may come a time when she needs to challenge the only people who have ever accepted her. She only hopes that she will survive the encounter.

First of all, I want to say that I really enjoyed reading this book. The story reminded me so much of Carrie by Stephen King - which was also a book that I enjoyed reading. Having said that, I must say that the characters in Dark Before Dawn by Stacy Juba seemed to me to be slightly less isolated from each other - less insulated from the world around them. The story was fast-paced and well-developed, and I was drawn into the action right from the beginning. I would give this book an A! 

A! - (90-95%)

May you read well and often

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Stacy Juba - Twenty-Five Years Ago Today

8. Twenty-Five Years Ago Today by Stacy Juba (2009)
The Young Ladies of Mystery Series Book 1
Length: 262 pages 
Genre: Contemporary Mystery 
Started: 1 May 2016
Finished: 8 May 2016
Where did it come from? From Amazon 
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 25 December 2012
Why do I have it? I like contemporary mysteries and have read and enjoyed 25 Years in the Rearview Mirror: 52 Authors Look Back by the same author in the past.

Kristine Langley is obsessed with murder. This obsession stems from a tragic and traumatic event that occurred when she was twelve-years-old. Kris has always blamed herself for her twelve-year-old cousin's disappearance and brutal murder.

For the past two decades, she has kept a guilty secret to herself: she was actually the last person to see Nicole alive; and a childish argument was the reason why Kris had left her cousin to walk home alone. She has allowed the guilt of her actions that day pervade every aspect of her life. Her family may never realize the full extent of Kris' guilt, but she is determined to find some way to make amends for her mistake.

Kris has since become an editorial assistant and obituary writer for a Massachusetts newspaper. She enjoys her job - for the most part - and the schedule works very well for her. While compiling items from the microfilm to run in the "Twenty-Five Years Ago Today" town history column, Kris stumbles across an unsolved murder. She grows increasingly fascinated with the case of a young cocktail waitress who was bludgeoned to death and dumped in the woods.

Determined to solve the case and thus atone for Nicole's death, Kris immerses herself in the decades-old mystery of what happened to twenty-one-year-old Diana Ferguson. As Kris investigates the case further, Diana becomes more to her than just a murdered cocktail waitress; she was also an extraordinarily talented artist who expressed herself through haunting paintings based on Greek mythology. The more that she learns about Diana, Kris begins to feel a deep connection to her.

Yet there is also a certain amount of backlash to her sudden interest in such a cold case. Not only does Kris face resistance from her own family as well as her managing editor, she also clashes with Diana's hostile and highly suspicious nephew, Eric Soares - who is beyond certain that Kris only seeks to exploit his family for the sake of getting a story. However, as time passes, she and Eric can no longer deny the chemistry flaring between them.

Kris soon learns that old news never leaves the morgue and that yesterday's headline can easily turn into today's obituary notice. Because discovering what actually happened to Diana Ferguson on that long-ago night could be dangerous. Finding out the truth about what happened that night twenty-five years ago may just shatter Kris' present; costing her everything that she has come to cherish: her love, her career, and ultimately, her life.

I have had this book on my TBR pile for quite some time. I actually don't know why I have waited so long to read it. This is the second book that I have had the pleasure of reading by Ms. Juba, and must say that I absolutely loved the story and characters. I really found myself connecting with Kris and many of the other characters. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading intriguing character-driven mysteries with fast-paced plots. I give this book an A+!

A+! - (96-100%)

May you read well and often

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Reading Wrap-up For April at Emeraldfire's Bookmark

Hello everyone out there and I hope that you all had a terrific reading month for yourselves. I am known as Emeraldfire around the Internet and this is my new personal reading blog.

Anyway, I started out April with about two hundred unread books lying around the house and ended the month with...umm...uncountable amounts of books unread. All of the books that I acquired this month came from authors, Paperback SwapAmazon.

Let me try to break down the influx for you:

Changes to the TBR pile

Read from my TBR pile (Yes! I am a reading machine :))
- Torn Roots by Scott Bury

Added to my TBR pile (oh well, you win some and you lose some! :))
- Kaitlin's Tale by Christine Amsden
- Dark Before Dawn by Stacy Juba
- The Wolf of Britannia Part 1 by Jess Steven Hughes

Taken off my TBR pile and sent to a new home (Yay! Happy Dance! :))
- Fire and Ice: A Novel by Julie Garwood
- Torn Roots by Scott Bury

Well, there it is...the breakdown! All in all, a very good reading month for me, considering. Here's a further breakdown:

Books Read: 1
Pages Read: 131
Grade Range: A+!

So, there you go! The reading month that was April. I hope that you all had an equally good reading month; if not a little better. :) See you all next month! :)

May you read well and often

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Introducing The Healers by Holly Barbo!

I'm delighted to announce that Holly Barbo's latest young adult Fantasy novel, The Healers has just been released today! This is Book 2 in her Sage Seed Chronicles. Yes, Ms. Barbo's young adult novel is now available to download from Amazon - so grab your own copy today!

Meet Holly Barbo

Holly's world is shaped by her love of family, the beauty of the natural world and an irrepressible creative drive. She has always been curious and sees life through questions. These four characteristics color her writing voice and her stories frequently evolve from her asking "What if....?" Her tales tend to have non-urban settings with nature contributing to the plot, building discordant themes inside a seemingly peaceful refrain.

My motto: Weaving Alternative Worlds with Threads From Today.

The Healers by Holly Barbo (2016)
Length: 245 pages
Purchase your copy from Amazon!

The Healers Blurb:

There are no monsters on Ose. People can be monstrous enough.

A virulent disease sweeps through the budding civilization on the planet Ose. As people are dropping like flies, the healers’ guild is not making headway in finding a cure.

Just as every hope seems lost, young Ree comes into her sage powers. Despite having to fight the disapproval from those who think her too young and inexperienced, she comes up with a cure from unusual natural sources.

The race is on to get ahead of the epidemic. Time is tight, and a swindler’s “miracle cure” makes matters worse.

With Ree and the healers’ lives in danger, is the whole planet doomed?

May you read well and often

Monday, April 25, 2016

Scott Bury - Torn Roots

7. Torn Roots by Scott Bury (2015)
Kindle Worlds Novella: The Lei Crime Series Book 3
Length: 131 pages 
Genre: Short Story 
Started: 18 April 2016
Finished: 25 April 2016
Where did it come from? Many thanks to Scott Bury for sending me a copy of this book to read.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 1 August 2015
Why do I have it? I like short stories and Scott Bury is a new author for me.

After successfully closing a case involving murderous poachers targeting Maui's national park, Detective Pono Kaihale gladly accepts the temporary position of Acting Lieutenant in Hana on the island's rain-forest coast. He is looking forward to spending the next six months working on a much easier caseload and just enjoying the beautiful scenery. After all, as quiet as Hana seems to be, Pono is fairly certain that he will only be called upon to redirect lost hikers or to moderate the occasional lovers' spat: nothing too strenuous at all. The rest of his time there, Pono intends to spend enjoying the natural beauty of the southeast shore.

Yet by his second week on the job, Pono finds that the trouble that comes to Hana just takes on a different form. Hawaii is known for its volcanoes and pristinely beautiful sandy beaches. But Pono Kaihale realizes that in Hawaii, beauty and danger reign side by side. Apparently, it doesn't matter how beautiful the scenery is, the crimes remain the same.

As environmentalists, property developers, protesters, arsonists, kidnappers and a rogue Homeland Security agent converge on his new post, Pono feels like he's sitting directly in the path of a hurricane. And when a rookie FBI agent is assigned to the case, Pono realizes that the stakes have just been raised. Hana is not turning out to be the quietest post in his career; lives will be lost if Pono doesn't solve this mystery soon.

I really enjoyed reading this book - Mr. Bury delivers an action-packed plot and a well-developed yet fast-paced story for its short length. I certainly appreciated the flashes of humor that were present throughout the story. I would definitely give this book an A+! and look forward to reading more from this author in the future.

A+! - (96-100%)

May you read well and often