Monday, May 29, 2017

Mrs. Saint and the Defectives by Julie Lawson Timmer

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Mrs. Saint and the Defectives', A Novel by Julie Lawson Timmer.

In Mrs. Saint And The Defectives
by Julie Lawson Timmer, we come to terms with the label ‘Busy Body.’ As you find the spirit of this work through your reading, you will have an opportunity to see just how effective such a person might be.
Markie is a woman who has lost it all, her marriage as well as her financial and professional life. Embarrassed and depressed she packs up and moves with her teenage son to a new town where she can begin again to pick up the pieces of her world, privately. The one problem is an elderly neighbor, Mrs. Saint, that takes it upon herself to help fix whatever problems that she feels or determines that Markie has. Not only that, but she brings in her own group of friends to help.

Markie is both annoyed and disturbed, she wants to move on, and forget her problems. Yet she soon comes to realize that forgetting does not heal the hurt, and with the help of Mrs. Saint, she is able to find a way to cure both her own worries and feelings as well as those of her son.  When she and the other “defectives” find that Mrs. Saint has her own secrets that can threaten her own world, they jump in to find a way to help a woman who goes out of her way to help heal others through her kindness as well as her stubbornness. Can they come together and bring hope to Mrs. Saint as she has, in turn, done for them?

Julie Lawson Timmer has given us a feel-good book full of characters with interesting, fun, and even curmudgeonly, at times, personalities. The problems and solutions are real and she finds a way to bring each character together and create a bond that stems from kindness and caring. Using an older woman of mysterious means, she takes us into the world where hope and friendships create a healing, even for those who do not realize they are in pain.

If you are looking for that feel-good book for light summertime reading this will be a great one to begin your journey. Interesting and heartwarming, you will find yourself reflecting on each character long after reading about them.

This would be a wonderful book for a reading group or book club, full of creative dialogue.

Rating 4/5

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Royally Roma by Teri Wilson

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Royally Roma, The Royals Volume: 1' by Teri Wilson.

In Royally Roma by Teri Wilson, we meet a young woman who is trying desperately to change her life, leaving a scandal laden past behind and beginning anew I Rome. Julia Costa has finally found a haven, taking her away from her father’s shadow and the scandal that has affected her own life. She is now working as a tour guide in the beautiful and historical city of Rome.

Due to the news and how it affected her life, she no longer reads the papers and stays away from both television and gossip. Her life is busy with tourists and clients to who she shares her love of the city through tours. When she greets a man who she believes is her next client, she has no idea of the strange adventure that is just beginning.

For, Niccolo La Torre, The Crown Price of Lazaretto, he is at his wits end of ways to keep his younger brother out of the gossip columns. His father relies on him and he is not looking forward to the events that are unfolding and making him feel so out of control of his own destiny. When he finds himself mistaken for a common tourist, he is both intrigued and surprised. Having someone who does not know who he is confounds him, and the young woman with her motorbike is refreshing and outspoken. As his duties close in, and his staff seeks to retrieve him, he decides to disappear for the day, and take Julia’s innocent offer of a tour.

Little do they both understand the events that are set in motion by such a move. Julia has no idea she has the crown prince, claiming to be her client, and the Niccolo has little understanding how his life will soon change in ways that no one can anticipate.

Teri Wilson gives us an adventure and a tour, taking us into the beauties of Rome, and introducing the beginning buds of romance, created by the connection of two people trying to escape their lives. She brings us characters full of strength and passion, with each hiding something from the other. The tension is strong and the passion begins to build as they both flee from the familial ties that bind them.

If you enjoy a solid romance, and the beauty of Rome, you will find this a great summer read. As the situation builds you will find yourselves immersed in the fun and action as the events play out to a satisfying conclusion.

Rating 3/5

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Good Widow by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'The Good Widow,' A Mystery by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke.

In The Good Widow by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke, we are introduced to Elementary school teacher, Jacks Morales. Married for eight years, it is with dismay and horror that while on a business trip to Kansas her husband is killed in a fatal car accident. When the policeman come to her door to explain, she believes she has misunderstood the information, as they keep telling her the accident occurred in Hawaii. And further, they shared the news that he was not alone.

After being assured that the information the police had given her was correct, she finds herself blindsided by the horrifying events. While Hawaii is somewhere they had always talked about traveling to, her husband was always too busy with all the trips he was making for his company. Now she wonders just how many of the trips were real and if the agenda was more often to Hawaii, and to spend time with another woman.

While angry, she is also grieving, and it is then she meets Nick, the fiancĂ© of the woman that died with her husband on that fateful trip. Unable to pull herself together, Nick gets her to agree to go to Hawaii so they can follow the clues to the truth. Even when her friends try to tell her she is making a mistake, she takes a leap of faith to try and find answers that make sense. She doesn’t really know Nick, but he too seems quite devastated by the loss of his own loved one.

As they follow an ever confusing path to what is listed as an accident, Jacks slowly comes to the realization that more is at stake than she ever realized. Nothing is as it seems and now even the reason for her husband’s death is suspect. Can she discover clues to the underlying threat she is beginning to feel, before her life too spins out of control?

Fenton and Steinke team up to give you a mystery that has teeth. Their characters are very real and the feelings run deep, giving you the impression that they are actual people, someone that could be in your own life.  She story is haunting, both fascinating and littered with bits of terror. Jack’s gains a wonderful sense of her own power, and it keeps you enthralled as the story moves forward.

If you enjoy mystery and growth, friendships and family, you will find this work will keep you reading to the very end.

This would make great read for a reading group or book club, full of interesting plot lines and direction to help develop questions as well as dialogue and debate.

Rating 4/5

Monday, May 15, 2017

Alex & Eliza, A Love Story by Melissa De La Cruz

In Alex & Eliza, Melissa De La Cruz takes us back into history with a love story sure to ignite your imagination. During the time of the American revolution when Alexander Hamilton was still just a young mysterious man, yet even then at the right-hand of George Washington, Cruz entertains us with a story of politics and intrigue as well as love and romance.

One of New York’s biggest events was the Schuyler’s grand ball, and this well to do family had three daughters, each soon to be ready for marriage. A social event as well as an introduction of their daughters to society, their daughters Angelica and Peggy were excited for their chance to dress up and begin their round of social meetings.  

Eliza the youngest was not very into dresses and balls, she was more interested in aiding the colonists cause, but her parents were insistent. Both fierce and beautiful she was a handful, and they worried as to what type of man would attract her attention. Due to her fascination with the cause, she was very excited to learn that Alexander Hamilton would be arriving. Once they meet, their attraction and love begin a series of events that change the course of history.

De La Cruz does a wonderful job of taking you back in history and finding the most interesting of situations to bring into the story, holding you enthralled in the telling. By tying the politics and the romance together she brings in the danger as well as the strong feelings of her characters, holding you intrigued and wanting to know more.

If you enjoy history and love a good romance than this is the book for you. Enticing and interesting, De La Cruz finds a way to bring back the past and bring in history, romance, and mystery that satisfies both cravings of excitement, romance and knowledge.

This would be a great work for a Book or reading club with may merits to discuss and help create a great deal of dialogue. 

Rating 4/5

Sunday, April 9, 2017

All Things New by Lauren Miller

Posted First to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'All Things New', A Young Adult Novel by Lauren Miller. 

Often there are those who wish that the pain on the inside can be seen on the outside. To be able to diminish the hold it has, others must see and acknowledge what you have gone through, and are going though. But while the thought sometimes lingers, is the reality as likely as it seems?

In All Things New by Lauren Miller she takes us into the life of seventeen-year-old Jessa Gray. Jessa was always a great student, but then life changed in unexpected ways. Her parents split up, her mom moved on, getting remarried and having another family. Her family decided that Jessa should stay with her mom, never consulting her about her own feelings. Suddenly life has darkened, her grades have dropped, and she begins having severe anxiety, barely able to leave her home. She finds it hard to be around others, as she no longer really understands who she is.

As her days drag on, she finally meets a young man who has no real expectations of her. He never delves into her problems and makes her feel almost whole. She begins to think life will be okay. Yet when finding that all he really was interested in was not something she was willing to give, she soon finds him with another girl while at party they had attended together. In her panic, she drives herself home, only to be hit at tremendous speed by another vehicle. Her injuries are so severe, her doctors are relieved that she survives the ordeal, but her anxiety comes to the fore. The excessive scarring on her face feels like it matches the pain within. Her father shows up to see her, and she is finally able to find a way to go and live with him, away from all that she has lost.

It is here in her new beginning that she finds another calling, one that teams her with others much like her, and her own pain and re-birth give her the advantage of seeing what they are feeling inside. As she focuses on freeing them, she finds a strength she has not known since she was a child. Can she hold on to this new her, or will it all come crumbling down at the first sign of pressure.

Miller gives us a novel that is hard to put down. You can feel the pain of her characters as they face the challenges of life and school as well as peer pressure and bullying. This is a work of fiction and yet you can feel the rawness of the characters, the pressure, often from themselves, and how destructive it can be. The insights are amazing and the story is wound with a bit of faith, one that makes you think about what truth is.

If you enjoy works that draw you in and make you think, this would be a great novel. Written for teen adults, this is a great read for those who just love an interesting story. Miller is making a name for herself in YA fiction.

This would be a fascinating book for a reading or discussion group, with a great deal of debate and questions to be answered.

Rating 5/5

The Mutual Admiration Society by Lesley Kagen

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'The Mutual Admiration Society', A Young Adult novel by Lesley Kagen.

In The Mutual Admiration Society by Lesley Kagen we are taken into the lives of two young sisters, Tessie, and Birdie. Tessie is convinced that she can solve crimes and keeps her younger sister involved as well. She doesn’t feel that Birdie can do as well without her own involvement as she is very sweet, and just a tad weird.

Tessie is sure, however, of her own abilities and it is fun having a younger sister believe in her and all her adventures. After all, Tessie is known for her crime solving abilities. When they hear a scream one night and mysterious happenings, she knows that she is the only one that can find a murderer. For she is sure that is what she has witnessed.

Another friend, Charlie, finds himself intrigued as well and determines to help in the investigation. What Tessie finds as she tries to solve the case, that no one else shows an interest in, is that often what we see and hear can have many varied reasons. She also finds with encouragement, that her sister Birdie is much more than she seems, that she has thoughts and ideas that might more than take over her own. But her sweetness and attention to Tessie’s plots, keep them going, and creating a strong admiration for each other’s abilities and input.

This is a sweet and funny story of the kids in the neighborhood that are just a bit different, those who look behind the everyday, and develop stories and intrigues that make life in their home and neighborhood interesting…At least for themselves.

Kagen takes us into the past and into the life of a family that struggles just as many others of the time do. But she also shows us the hijinks of children as they find ways to enjoy their time away from school, and other troubles. Her characters are very like those we each grew up with, I am sure you can relate as you find the fun and danger in this work.

If you are looking for a good work for your youngster, or are trying to get your child to read, this is a fun and fast paced work of fiction, that will keep you looking for more. Kagen does an excellent job of taking us into the recent past and showing us a life many will remember. She also gives us insight into the endearing traits of how children grow in the process of finding their niche in life.

Rating 4/5

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Twisted, The Girl Who Uncovered Rumpelstiltskin's Name by Bonnie M. Hennessy

Posted First to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Twisted, The Girl Who Uncovered Rumpelstiltskin's Name by Bonnie M. Hennessy.

In a tale from childhood, Twisted by Bonnie M Hennessy, takes you on an alternate journey to a dark and bleak tale of love and courage, filled with revenge and regret as well as a strength of spirit.

Looking at the story of Rumpelstiltskin's rage and sadness, you follow The life of Aoife and a different path of how the lives of two such differing characters really came to being.

Aoife, the beloved daughter, is the strength of her family as she takes on the family farm to keep their finances afloat, while at the same time trying to keep her father out of trouble. He is deep in drink and gambling, but Aoife's goodness and strength of heart endears her to all those that see her dilemma.

When a young man of money happens to see her, he decides that she should be his, for unbeknownst to the town he is the Duke of the realm and will have what he fancies. Yet she rebuffs him, and while she has no idea of his identity, she has no time for a man with such airs.  As the Duke determines to have her, he finds a way through the weakness of her father, with both his drink and gambling. Joining the game and urging the poor man gamble his daughter away on a sure hand, all is lost when the hand does not come through. Her father through his muddled thoughts brags of her ability to make gold out of straw, his attempt to brag about her farming, but the Duke understands it to mean something far different.

Aoife, who has always found solace in the woods hides her pain and anger, as nature responds, her spark of spirit draws her magic, that of her kindness and regrets, but it is another, a strange interloper that finds his own home in the forest that takes notice of her pain and anguish as well as her affinity for magic and her beauty. So begins the strange friendship that begins with fondness and love and turns to hate and anger, that takes a tortured soul into the very depths of despair.

As Aoife finds herself in trouble trying to live up the talents her father has bragged of, the stranger from the woods uses his own twisted magic to help. Aoife, soon finds herself in love with the Duke, and with child. The temper of her rescuer from the woods sparks her urgent need to find his name, and takes her into further danger as she tries to save the child of her love.

The twisted tale of love and darkness builds in a direction both like and unlike that of the fairy tale of youth. Hennessy does a great job of holding true to the outline of the work but adds more depth of character, making you feel both appalled and sad, yet as the same time, the tension keeps you intrigues as to how it will all come together.

If you enjoy magic romance and danger, you will love this take on a fairy tale of old. It is darker and more thought provoking, but yet carries that same feel of the fear you felt as a child. Hennessy brings the tale to stark life and into the twentieth century.

This would be a great book for a reading group or book club.

 Bonnie M. Hennessy's Web Site: M. Hennessy's Facebook:
Bonnie M. Hennessy's Twitter:
Bonnie M. Hennessy's Goodreads: M. Hennessy's YouTube: Goodreads:
Tribute Books Blog Tours Facebook:

Twisted blog tour site:

Bonnie M. Hennessy's Bio: Bonnie grew up a shy, quiet girl who the teachers always seated next to the noisy boys because they knew she was too afraid to talk to anyone. She always had a lot she wanted to say but was too afraid to share it for fear she might die of embarrassment if people actually noticed her. Somewhere along the line, perhaps after she surprised her eighth grade class by standing up to a teacher who was belittling a fellow student, she realized that she had a voice and she didn’t burst into flames when her classmates stared at her in surprise.

Not long after that, she began spinning tales, some of which got her into trouble with her mom. Whether persuading her father to take her to the candy store as a little girl or convincing her parents to let her move from Los Angeles to Manhattan to pursue a career at eighteen as a ballet dancer with only $200 in her pocket, Bonnie has proven that she knows how to tell a compelling story.

Twisted Book Summary:
Now she spends her time reading and making up stories for her two children at night. By day she is an English teacher who never puts the quiet girls next to the noisy boys and works hard to persuade her students that stories, whether they are the ones she teaches in class or the ones she tells to keep them from daydreaming, are better escapes than computers, phones, and social media.
An old tale tells the story of how a little man named Rumpelstiltskin spun straw into gold and tricked a desperate girl into trading away her baby. But that’s not exactly how it happened.

The real story began with a drunken father who kept throwing money away on alcohol and women, while his daughter, Aoife, ran the family farm on her own. When he gambled away everything they owned to the Duke, it was up to her to spin straw into gold to win it all back.

With her wits and the help of a magical guardian, she outsmarted the Duke and saved the day.

Well almost… Her guardian suddenly turned on Aoife and sent her on a quest to find his name, the clues to which were hidden deep in the woods, a moldy dungeon, and a dead woman’s chamber.

This is not the tale of a damsel in distress, but a tenacious, young woman who solved a mystery so great that not even the enchanted man who spun straw into gold could figure it out.

Not until Aoife came along.
Prices/Formats: $2.99 ebook, $12.99 paperback
Fantasy, Mythological, Fairy Tale
November 11, 2016

Amazon buy link: