Category Archives: Guest Reviewer

The Tutor’s Daughter by Klassen

The Tutor’s Daughter follows the tale of Emma Smallwood, a woman believed to be destined a spinster because of her love of reading and knowledge. Emma’s perfectly controlled world is turned upside down when she and her father move to Cornwall to serve as private tutors to the two younger sons of Sir Giles Weston.

The Tutor’s Daughter
by Julie Klassen
Bethany House Publishers
January 2013

Things turn menacing quickly as “pranks” begin to be played on Emma – love letters slid under her bedroom door, her journal stolen, mysterious handprints on her mirror, and music from the pianoforte in the middle of the night. The situation becomes more complicated as the two older Weston brothers know Emma from their days of studying at her father’s Academy and one discovers that he feels more than friendship for Emma. As time progresses and the pranks become more dangerous and cruel, Emma must attempt to not only sort out the mystery of the threats against her but the feelings of her own heart.

I have to admit that this was a bit of a slow start for me. However, I must also say that once it caught my attention I fell completely in LOVE with this book. I could not put it down and finished it in two days. The suspense and danger Miss Smallwood faced kept me guessing and I just had to keep reading to find out if my predictions were correct. I also really enjoyed the love story. I won’t give it away but one of the Weston brothers most definitely reminds me of a certain Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. In saying this, you can imagine my surprise when Julie Klassen also mentions Jane Austen in her author’s note. If you enjoy a wonderful love story entwined with suspense, I recommend this book 100%!

Suzanne Kniceley is a stay at home Mom and seamstress. One of her greatest desires is that by viewing her love of reading and knowledge, her children will also be captivated by the written word.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Unholy by Graham

What better way to start a book than with a heinous murder committed in a legendary special effects studio in Hollywood? Throw in a famous ghost and give us a character that can talk to them, and you’ve got a good story on your hands.

The Unholy
Krewe of Hunters
By Heather Graham
Harlequin MIRA
June 2012

Alistair Archer has been accused of the murder of his girlfriend Jenny. His father Eddie is willing to do whatever it takes to save his son. He calls on Sean Cameron, a former employee at his studio, who now works for a special division of the FBI. The police seem to have an airtight case against Alistair, but Eddie needs a miracle, and he believes Sean can provide that for him. Sean has the special gift of being able to speak with the dead, and it’s going to take something special to get Alistair out of this mess. Eddie asks one of his best employees, Madison Darvil, to be Sean’s liaison throughout the investigation. Madison is also able to speak with the dead, and even lives with the ghost of the legendary Humphrey Bogart.

Madison and Sean develop a chemistry almost immediately, and The Unholy focuses on their endeavors to prove Alistair is not guilty of murdering Jenny. The villain, who calls himself Vengeance, appears periodically throughout the book to create havoc and throw Madison and Sean off the trail. Who will prevail?
The Unholy is without a doubt character driven. Madison’s energy and innocence is refreshing throughout the book, and I found myself anticipating a relationship between Madison and Sean. The well developed characters do come with a price. The villain does not inspire a feeling of contempt as most villains do. He almost seems to be more of an afterthought than a driving force in The Unholy. I found myself much more involved with the relationship of Madison and Sean than with finding out who the killer would turn out to be. Despite this, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I was definitely surprised to discover the identity of Vengeance. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good mystery with a touch of the supernatural.

Kassi Kirschner loves to lose herself in a great book. She likes to spend her time with her family, her many dogs, and preparing for her baby on the way!

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Prepare to Die by Tobin

Prepare to Die is about Reaver, who has lost a fight with Eleventh Hour, a group of super villains led by Octagon. He is given two weeks to get his affairs in order then return and be prepared to die by Octagons hand. This story is what happens during these two weeks while he crosses items off his list.

Prepare to Die
By Paul Tobin
Night Shade Books
May 2012

This book reads like a comic book but with a few differences. I really goes into details of the lead character, Reaver, and his past. It introduces many of the other heroes that have either been killed or retired. At times this gets overly explained since most of these characters have nothing to do with this story.

The story has a surprise ending that is really a creative twist. I liked it but it was a bit long and at times just went into too much detail for the story to flow.

Rick Asher is a lover all kinds of stories. A rapacious reader now retired he finally has time to read all the books and watch all the films he has always wanted to. Thanks to BookGateway he gets to share his opinions and recommendations as well.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Philosophical Practitioner by Abrams

In the Philosophical Practioner, the protagonist Eric spends most of his days either working with his clients or trying to figure out his relationship with Sheila, his movie star companion.

Philosophical Practitioner
By Larry Abrams
Telemachus Press
August 2011

Eric has a very eclectic client base which he meets with on a regular basis. They discuss the meaning of their lives and work through various problems with Eric’s guidance. He is also dealing with a complicated relationship with Sheila, a world famous movie star he met before she became successful.

Eric lives a very uncomplicated existence, in which enjoying the work he does is much more important than being rich. Sheila lives exactly the opposite, and she craves the exact lifestyle of opulence Eric tries to avoid. This provides interesting conflict throughout the book.

There is also the mysterious woman that plagues Eric’s thoughts and actions from the very beginning of the book. Without giving too much away, she has her own special way of tormenting him.

This book travels along very slowly. The writer seems more interested in what the clients are wearing than in the reason they are seeing a philosophical practitioner. This served to take away from the overall storyline in the book.

The real story, in my opinion, is the complex relationship between Eric and Sheila. I found myself rooting for them to be together in spite of the many obstacles in their path. This book was not my cup of tea, but if you enjoy books that really dive into the small details of the character, this is definitely a book for you.

Kassi Kirschner loves to lose herself in a great book. She likes to spend her time with her family, her many dogs, and preparing for her baby on the way!

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Pack: Retribution by Preston

Shamira is the leader of an elite fighting force called the Mons, on Mars with sci-fi gadgets and vehicles. While travelling, they are attacked and several of the crew are killed or hurt. A sequel to the Pack Shamira is back, along with Valens and her friends, to safeguard the people of Mars. A new enemy arises and now they are after her and everyone in her life.

The Pack: Retribution
By LM Preston
Phenomenal One Press
September 2012

The problem is that if you didn’t read the first book then this book will not make any sense. And even if you did, Preston doesn’t do anything to flesh out the story other than to simply throw the reader to it.

I don’t care for this book because there is no set up, no definition of characters, no explanation of where they are or why they are going there. Sequel or not, there needs to be more explaination here and more development.

I don’t recommend this book, it just lacks too much to keep my interest.

Rick Asher is a lover all kinds of stories. A rapacious reader now retired he finally has time to read all the books and watch all the films he has always wanted to. Thanks to BookGateway he gets to share his opinions and recommendations as well.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Restless in the Grave by Stabenow

In Restless in the Grave our heroine Kate and her aptly named companion, Mutt, who is in fact a mixed canine, venture out to Alaska at the request of a local law enforcement agent.

Restless in the Grave
Kate Shugak #19
by Dana Stabenow
Minotaur Books / Macmillan Audio
February 2012

She goes undercover as a waitress at a local bar and uses this facade to pick the brains of the locals. She is also quick to pick a lock or two, as she doesn’t always follow the lines of the law. She bends a rule here and there in order to track down how a wealthy businessman named Grant was killed, when his plane crashed as a result of direct tampering. The sabotage goes very in depth as the story grows to its conclusion.

A problem with this novel is that it took a while to get going; Kate didn’t even really come in until the second CD (in the audio book, about 60 pages into the book). To enjoy the start, you have to really be into back story and plot development via relentless details to stay involved throughout this book.

That said, black mail, sabotage, murder, breaking and entering and much, much more riddle this story for a compelling and thought -provoking read once it gets up to speed. The author goes into great detail with her story, giving the reader no choice but to feel they are there with Kate, the undercover detective. As the reader, you find yourself drawing conclusions with Kate, as her unorthodox investigating style leads her down a twisted trail of Alaskan deception.

For readers who enjoy a story that leaves no stone unturned and a protagonist that you feel the adventure with, Restless in the Grave is a solid read.

Kyle Stack, an avid reader of all genres from textbooks to comic books and everything in between, divides his time among work, studies, violin, and a new book for new perspective whenever possible.

This audiobook was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The way white families, especially white women, invited black women into their homes to raise their children, cook their food, clean their houses, and tend to their every need seems charming. However, The Help shows how whites think they are helping and doing the right thing, when in reality the blacks still feel degraded and unappreciated. It shows you both sides of the story from an emotional perspective, not just a factual one.

The Help
by Kathryn Stockett
The Penguin Group
February 2009

The main maids Aibileen and Minny hold on to sanity by relying on one another for comfort and strength. They don’t work for much and do what they are supposed to each day, but still it’s never enough.

Skeeter is a classic example of a child who makes it out of her town and goes to college and comes home a woman changed for the better. She now has more confidence and is completely driven. These traits, plus the fact she’s dying to get a writing job in New York, help her convince Aibileen to let her document stories from her life.

Aibileen eventually concedes to helping Skeeter write her first book by gathering information from the perspective of ‘the help’. At first Aibileen is timid but as events happen around the town her confidence grows and she gains the help of Minny and many other maids.

After the book gets published everyone involved with the writing process is nervous as they still work in the homes of the very people whose deepest secrets are revealed. The maids however, know they cannot be touched now, because no one wants them to tell who each story was really about.

The book of course is better than the movie, giving you more details that reinforce ideals. The book also helps provide a better understanding of how policies and morals were passed on or changed through different generations.

I particularly enjoyed The Help because it provides another perspective on the life of black women during segregation without the grit. It does contain some racial violence, but it also wouldn’t have any authenticity without it. However the violence is in the background instead of being in your face.

Ashleigh Taylor loves to travel and experience new cultures. She also loves food, friendship and a good laugh.

The Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games finale ends just as it began. An emotional roller coaster with twists and turns that inspire.

The Mockingjay
by Suzanne Collins
August 2010

The main characters are divided between a surprisingly thriving District 13 and the Capitol. Peeta is used as a pawn during Capitol campaigns that are supposed to threaten the districts so they do not rebel. As much as the Capitol hopes that Peeta has the same motivational features as Katniss, he does not. However, he does still have an influence on Katniss.

Katniss agrees to be the Mockingjay, the face of the campaign that will encourage the other districts to rebel against the Capitol. She and several others begin training, debating, and executing plans to eventually take over the Capitol.

Katniss realizes more and more how she feels about the people around her, feelings her readers knew in books one and two. She comes to value the advice of those around her. She lets her guard down just enough to let what people say affect her. And when she least expects it, she realizes what they have been saying, how it directly relates to her, and how it fuels her to be the Mockingjay.

Katniss’s role as the Mockingjay is amplified and she finally realizes exactly how much her actions influence others. She visits other districts and tries to rally the people for the fight against the Captiol.

As the book races on the fight becomes more intense, more lives are lost, and the Mockingjay must overcome the one proposal that set all the wheels in motion. A fitting end to this amazing saga!

Ashleigh Taylor loves to travel and experience new cultures. She also loves food, friendship and a good laugh.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

The second book of the Hunger Games series is cleverly titled Catching Fire. The book builds on emotions that linger from the Hunger Games which makes you feel even more invested. The book does climax but ultimately is leading you into the third book so the story can come full circle.

Catching Fire
by Suzanne Collins
September 2009

Katniss and Peeta return home where they realize more and more how the hunger games have affected not only them, but the other districts as well.

Katniss struggles to sort out her feelings between Gale and Peeta. She fights the flame that burns inside her for Peeta by still insisting everything in the arena that happened between them was just for the cameras and survival. Having Gale around just causes more confusion for her. She tries to be so strong and not let her feelings get in the way, but she can’t help feel something for Gale… and for Peeta. Katniss of course never really addresses these problems but the readers pick up on every one of them, which makes Katniss’s every decision even more heart wrenching.

Just as the tributes get settled in and feel like life may return to some sort of normalcy, they announce the Quarter Quell. Another game that will send more tributes back to the arena. As the tributes are paraded around throughout the districts, Katniss slowly realizes what is happening. Subtle clues and reactions get her thinking about how her actions will affect everyone’s future.

The tributes are then faced with more life altering decisions, this is the game that will make or break everyone’s future. This is the game that threatens the Capitol. This is the game that unites the districts.

I loved this book. This second installment in the series reveals even more about Katniss and gives insight into her emotions, making her an even more developed character. A great continuation of the story.

Ashleigh Taylor loves to travel and experience new cultures. She also loves food, friendship and a good laugh.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

This book is the first in a three part series and is named after the Hunger Games, the lethal games the characters battle in throughout the book. Their country, Panem, gets divided and the people of the Capitol decide to create the Hunger Games so the people will never forget the suffering from the rebellion. The games are also in place as a reminder to not try to rebel again, to live just as you are, stagnant.

The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins
September 2008

The main character Katniss, immediately captures your heart with her undying love for her family. You find out why she has such a passion for hunting and how the loss of her father has affected her family. Throughout the book you painstakingly read on while she makes tough decisions and is thrown into situations that a teenager should never endure.

As the book goes on, more die in the intricate arena of the Hunger Games and you are introduced to a dozen more characters, each slowly seeping into the heart of Katniss, some even without her knowledge.

At first I thought this book was going to be just like those movies where people are sacrificed for sport and set on a remote island to fight to the death for amusement for the people watching. In a way this book exhibits similarities from those movies, but the book doesn’t focus on just the fighting, but the fight within the characters. This book was more than just about fighting to the death; it showed the emotion and terrible choices that people had to make in the arena.

I loved this book!

Ashleigh Taylor loves to travel and experience new cultures. She also loves food, friendship and a good laugh.