Book Review: Catching Echoes by Meghan Ciana Doidge

I love that I pre-ordered this so when I checked my Kindle library for the next book to read on my birthday, this one just popped up. Happy Birthday to me! I was also tickled to see one of the characters was named after my son, Declan (not really but I can pretend). It’s like my own personal Easter egg. Blending some new characters with old, this first book in the Reconstructionist series explores the Adept world from the POV of Wisteria Fairchild, a witch with a very specific skill set. Wisteria can reconstruct magical scenes, usually in conjunction with helping solve a crime involving the supernatural. In this case, she gets pushed out of her carefully constructed comfort zone when Kett, an elder the vampire Conclave, requests her aid in solving the deaths of teenage boys who have been partially turned into vampires. Though she has strong values regarding the use of her magic and her role in the Adept world, Wisteria finds that she needs to help these boys despite risks to her personal safety. There are hints of a dark past and magical potential as yet not realized, providing nice internal conflict along with the plot-driven action. For those of us familiar with Kett from the Dowser series, viewing him through Wisteria’s eyes is quite enlightening. He really gets to show us more of his character in this book, and it’s a tad unsettling. You can dive right in with this book but I highly recommend following the author’s reading order of all of the...

Book Review: The Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson

I just loved the way this book was written. Rather than a straightforward how-to, we get a story that exemplifies the principles the author wishes to express. First up is the story of Goldilocks, an aspiring author who can’t get past the word “the” of her novel. She attends a writing conference where the strict outlining approach given by Papa Bear is too hard, the seat-of-the-pants approach given by Mama Bear is too soft, but the Snowflake method taught by Baby Bear is just right. Through Goldilocks’ eyes we learn the ten step method, while following the subplot of The Big Bad Wolf versus The Little Pig. Each piece of the story hooks the reader in, making the techniques that much more memorable. What follows is a summary of the 10 steps and then the actual document used by the author to create the business fable of the first half. Everything is clear and makes novel writing seem doable, as long you’re willing to put in the work. The author never prescribes his method as perfect or perfect for everyone, nor does he offer a quick fix. He does offer an approach that can be followed and has been to his own and thousands of students’ success. The relief I felt when I discovered the Storyfix blog by Larry Brooks (and his books) is heightened with the reading/highlighting/bookmarking of The Snowflake Method. I love a good, flexible, customizable plan and can’t wait to try it. The above is an affiliate...

Book Review: The Ghosts of Tsavo by Vered Ehsani

The concept and premise of this book are very intriguing: a secret society for the investigation of paranormal activity set against the backdrop of the turn of the 20th century England (and Africa), a blend of very different cultures, and a heroine with a sharp wit combine for a potentially very satisfying read. Mrs. Beatrice Knight, who is gifted with paranormal abilities and haunted by her dead husband, finds herself solving a mystery involving the ghosts of man-eating lions in Africa. Her character is so endearing and witty that the weaker parts of the book are easily tolerated. Aside from some blatant copy editing errors, this book really could have soared with some more depth and fleshing out. I liked so much about the book that it is hard to point out the flaws, but I think the author is capable of even more. The threads of the plot don’t hang together as tightly as they could, and some characters are one-dimensional. I particularly misunderstood the relationship with Mr. Timmons, which was more complex than at first presented. The author has a solid handle on humor and this is the source of the book’s greatest strength. I think I would greatly enjoy a pot of tea with Mrs. Knight, preferably at a decent hour well after...

Book Review: Republic (Emperor’s Edge Book Eight) by Lindsay Buroker

I have been a fan of this series for a while and was thrilled to discover a new book, especially one that is a meaty 600 or so pages (I read this on the Kindle app and page numbers can be a little fluid). Six hundred more pages with characters I love? Yay! At first, though, I wasn’t sure I would make it through the whole thing. The premise of a giant plant taking over Turgonia was a bit 1950s B-horror movie for me, and that particular plot point didn’t hook me at all. But I knew I had enjoyed the other seven books for good reason, so pushed on. After a few chapters I was able to get into the story, thanks to the strong characters and a conspiracy-driven sub-plot. More than once I had to force myself to put the book down and go to sleep, already! There is a lot of head hopping in this book, and it is done very well. It was never confusing and each viewpoint helped the reader see nuances in the events that may have been otherwise missed. It was also nice to engage with beloved characters by spending whole chapters inside each one’s head. If you are a fan of this series, you probably already have the book. If you are here as a newbie, do yourself a favor and start at the beginning. This isn’t really a stand-alone piece but one that rewards loyal readers and hopefully leaves room for more volumes down the road. * * * The above is an affiliate...

Book Review: Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic by Meghan Ciana Doidge

First off, if this author doesn’t come out with a companion baking guide I am going to be doing a whole lot of drooling for nothing. Our faithful protagonist, Jade, is a pretty, yoga-practicing baker with a hobby of creating magical trinkets that turn out to be worth more than a spot on a Pinterest board. Her cupcakes are described so vividly that I swear I gained a pound after reading this book. I also gained an affection for our heroine, who despite being young and beautiful never became annoying. Jade is actually pretty happy with her life, running her very successful business and dabbling in her limited magic. Then a vampire and a pack of werewolves show up, determined to find out how Jade is connected to a series of murders involving black magic. Despite her protestations of innocence, Jade finds herself caught up in the mystery, and in the process finds out that her own past isn’t what she’s been led to believe. I very much enjoyed this book, which could have been a little stronger on plotting and character development. The twists and turns weren’t as shocking as they could have been, and the big reveal of the villain wasn’t all that surprising. Still, it was good enough to keep me reading and on the lookout for the next installment. * * * The above is an affiliate...