The Solitary Path Of Courage – M. B. Tosi

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You can be taught how to be ladylike, but courage is always within…

This book is actually the fifth in ‘The Indian Path Series’ so I was a little apprehensive that I wouldn’t know what is going on straight away, however from doing some research each book has its own standalone story that you can enjoy without having read the whole series beforehand. This genre of book is not usually one that I would choose but I’m glad it was brought to my attention as it involves bravery, adventure, hope and discovery. All of these come together to create an in-depth story that give us an insight into how the Old West 1800’s would have been like, hard at the best of times but even harder for a young orphaned woman.

The female protagonist is not the stereotypical ‘tough’ heroine, Sam O’Brien is a strong willed and courageous young lady that has been leading a double life. Being raised by only her father for most of her life she learnt that ‘hiding’ as a male made it safer, especially if she wished to stay close to her father on the railroads construction sites. Not learning how to be ladylike she adapted to the male environment (perhaps not necessarily for the best) which allowed her to have a straightforward talking personality and hard skinned attitude. Once her father passed away she soon learned that in her new family this kind of attitude would not be accepted.

As for the story itself, it really keeps you entertained and educated as we follow Sam on her journey (from orphan to outcast then professional) as we already know Sam is able to disguise herself as a male, after she leaves for Lewiston she becomes a newspaper reporter (being a talented writer already this suits her perfectly). Able to write about the current issues with the Indian’s she makes a name for herself. This story really flows beautifully allowing the reader to become fully engaged with Sam’s journey but also with the characters she meets along the way. It is a fast paced book that is full of adventure that will keep you turning the pages with excitement and intrigue.

As for the educational side of this book, don’t think I mean you will be reading a textbook on Indian history, this is much more exciting than that! It really gives you an insight into how life would have been in that era, especially for young women like Sam but also the Indian tribes. How things such as the gold-rush can cause issues (always the case when money is involved) and how we need to think about other people rather than just ourselves. There will always be conflict in this world but if we choose to be courageous, kind and fair then hopefully we can live in peace with one another.

This story really comes to life, making you feel what Sam is feeling. The grief for her father, the anger for her stepbrother, the fear of the unknown and the happiness of discovery. It really is a whirlwind of emotions that you feel when you read this book, painting the story in your mind (from imagining hiding from the Indians in the haystack, to working as a man on the railway site to journey’s into the unknown towns). A good book gives you all of these things, this one most definitely allows your imagination to run wild!

I must say that I will be reading the rest of the series (even if I’ve done it a bit backwards) as I really think that the writing style and story line that M. B. Tosi has created really speaks out to me and I wish to see what else she has in store.

Until next time…

Bio: M. B. Tosi
M.B. TOSI is a bestselling author of The Indian Path Series, which includes five books, The Sacred Path of Tears, The Secret Path of Destiny, The Crimson Path of Honor, The Thundering Path of Spirit, and The Solitary Path of Courage. She also has been an editor of non-fiction books and a weekly newspaper. She teaches piano and has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in education. Born in Pierre, South Dakota, she has lived in Alexandria, Virginia; Bucks County, Pennsylvania; and Toledo, Ohio. She has three children, five grandchildren, and a spunky Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Ava.

The White Raven – Carrie D. Miller

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Do you believe in magic?

Before I even begin with my review of The White Raven I must admit to being very excited to read it (little kid at Christmas kind of excited) as this book follows a similar genre to one of my all-time favourite books! As soon as I started to read The White Raven, I couldn’t put it down. It captivated me right from the beginning (as if by magic) and all the way through I couldn’t stop smiling as I went on this amazing journey Carrie D. Miller provided!

Now, on with the review…

Firstly, we follow the life of Aven Dovenelle (a real witch) who is cursed to live life after life with all her memories of her previous lives (including her horrific deaths). Straight away Aven’s character is so intriguing, wanting to know more about her curse and her new life in Salem I didn’t have a problem in following her story word for word. In her thirteenth life she seems to have found some peace with her endless curse, having her own shop to sell magical items and true friends by her side, I loved reading about Aven’s journey and truly felt as if I knew her, understood her pain, her frustration, her love and friendships.

The prospect of this book turning into a romance genre wasn’t entirely a bad thing (who doesn’t love a good romance) but as it already has fantasy, magic, friendship and tragedy muddled within, it gave this book a perfect mixture to satisfy all readers. The relationships that Aven encounters (Calvin being one) really proves that love can be hard to come by when you are different, but Aven inspired me by proving everyone wrong that a strong independent woman (witch) can have happiness and I was swept up with the romance that blossomed between her and Cal (even if there were a few rocky patches!).

One part I thoroughly enjoyed throughout (it is very hard to pick just one!) was the chapters where the White Raven (Ren) had an inner monologue, it was a very unique writing style and quite frankly a brilliant way to tie up the relationship between Aven and the White Raven, showing a softer side to her as well as giving us some insight into how she felt about Aven and the struggle they both must go through! How there relationship whilst somewhat a mystery proved to be something much more powerful and inspiring. It broke up the usual narrative perfectly and really gave me a different side to the story that I was very grateful for!

Learning about the curse was a huge shock! Although a few twists were put in place which completely threw me. I honestly didn’t see it coming and I couldn’t imagine it being announced any better, no spoilers will be mentioned but I was completely in awe of how the whole book finished…

I think that the book was written beautifully and honestly I don’t think my words can do it justice, I do feel as if The White Raven is a perfect read if you wish to escape reality and enter a world of magic, curses and friendships. My only downside would be that it wasn’t longer (but fingers are crossed for a sequel). I will most definitely be looking out for any other books Carrie D. Miller brings out because her writing is truly wonderful!

Until next time…

If you wish to read The White Raven by Carrie D. Miller yourself you can pre-order it on Amazon here. The official release date is April 1st.

Bio: Carrie D. Miller
Carrie D. Miller was born in Hutchinson, Kansas, on October 31, 1970. She credits her vivid imagination, as well as her sugar addiction, to being a Halloween baby. In a former life, she was an executive in the software industry for many years. Her career in the technology world included software product management, website design, training, and technical writing just to name a few. Although Carrie’s written a great deal over the decades which has been read by thousands of people, software documentation allows for about as much creativity as pouring cement. At the age of 45, she decided to chuck it all to become an author which had been a life-long dream.

There Is Always More To Say – Lynda Spiro

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Love and friendship never really end…

For a lazy Sunday afternoon I couldn’t have asked for a better book to get lost in! This book really does make you think and even got me to reminisce on my own past friendships. Before reading this book I had done some research into it and discovered that it wouldn’t be written in a way that I have come across before, however this just made me even more intrigued to see a different style of writing and what it could have in store for me.

Firstly I must point out the use of inspirational quotes that are used at the beginning and end of each ‘chapter’ – they really enhance the reading experience but also compliment that which has been discussed in the chapter. After reading this book you really do feel a sense of enlightenment and the quotes just make it that little bit extra to stand out from the crowd of ‘normal’ book writing styles. Safe to say I may have to use some of them in any future writing I do!

The literary style almost feels as if it is a memoir of the narrator (or even a diary) as the book follows a stream of thoughts, feelings and past experiences that seem deeply personal to the narrator. However this is done in such a way that you feel you’ve gone on this journey with them and laughed, loved and cried through every step. This book could be challenged as a typical love story but digging deeper it is so much more, you really feel connected to the characters and can relate to experiences they’ve had regarding ‘first love’ and ‘true friendships’.

As for the characters there is an air of mystery as you never get to know their names, always keeping you guessing and allowing your own imagination to take off, which personally is a very clever writing strategy. I kept wanting to know more, as my questions never got fully answered, but throughout this journey of a book it really brought a smile to my face as it was just on a level that everyone could enjoy.

Being quite a short story you would have no problem curling up for an afternoon and really getting lost in it (I most certainly couldn’t put it down!). I can’t wait to see what Lynda Spiro does next as her writing style has most definitely captivated me!

Until next time…

If you want to read ‘There Is Always More To Say’ yourself you can purchase it on Amazon by following the link here.

Bio: Lynda Spiro
Lynda Young Spiro is a mixed media artist whose love of textiles, found objects and recyclable materials are incorporated into her colourful work. Lynda was born in 1959 in Hampstead, London, where she now lives with her husband and two sons. Lynda’s previous book Latch-Hooking Rugs is published by A & C Black. There is Always More to Say is her award-wining first novel, which has since been recognised by Chill With A Book, Shelf Unbound, and Hollywood Book Festival.

Dying Valentine – Calvin Demmer

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Don’t forget the chocolates and flowers…

This is the first time I’ve read a Calvin Demmer short story and from my research ‘Dying Valentine’ is the latest version in his Dark Celebrations collection, it is safe to say that I will be reading the rest of his collection! As a short story I was worried that I wouldn’t get into it but truth be told I was hooked from the beginning and wished there was more!

Straight away you are brought into the story, not much background information given but with the way it is written I’d say you wouldn’t need it. The story follows Daniel Hill who is nervous about meeting his girlfriend Julia’s parents on Valentine’s Day (what a day to meet them!) but little does he know that this particular Valentine’s Day isn’t going to be a pleasant one.

This book is a very typical ‘horror’ genre which is the type that I enjoy reading, however it starts out almost as a romance and takes an unexpected twist towards the end. With only a few characters mentioned in this book they all are very memorable and created so that you could fully relate to them. Daniel being the ‘nice nervous young guy’ for example, everyone knows a ‘Daniel’ in their lives which really brought this story to life for me. Being a short story you’d think that you couldn’t get invested in a character but oh how I thought wrong, I really felt for Daniel every step of the way.

At first I was very suspicious of the mysterious girl in the middle of the night, and honestly thought that the story was going to go down a different path when he invited her back to his place *without giving away too much! – however Calvin Demmer managed to completely shock me with the way the story ended! I wasn’t expecting it but I think the way it was done was amazing.

The only fault I have with it is that I wished it could have been longer, leaving me hanging like that at the end was just so unfair! That said, I will be reading more of Calvin Demmer’s work as I’m sure they are just as gripping, gruesome and entertaining as Dying Valentine.

Until next time…

If you want to read ‘Dying Valentine’ yourself you can purchase it on Amazon by following the link here.

Bio: Calvin Demmer
Calvin Demmer is a crime, mystery, and speculative fiction author. He has had over thirty stories published in various magazines and anthologies. When not writing, he is intrigued by that which goes bump in the night and the sciences of our universe.

Can’t Buy Forever – Susan Laffoon

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You can buy an escape…

Getting lost in a good book is something that I look forward to doing the most, especially when the weather is miserable and I can stay inside warm and happy with a cup of tea and a new book. It is safe to say that ‘Can’t Buy Forever’ was most definitely a book that I couldn’t put down. I was taken back in time to the 1950’s, experiencing the tale of Odessa Drake and holding on to every word.

My first thoughts on this book was that it would be a historical romance, I was happy as this would be a genre I am quite interested in. However as you journey further in the genre evolves and twists making this book a highly intriguing read. Speaking of journey’s the way that Odessa Drake (Dessa) narrates her story really feels as if you are there with her along every step. The level of detail in this book not only ‘paints a picture’ of Dessa’s life it brings you in so that you could almost feel exactly how she does in every surrounding.

The characters I felt were shown with such depth that you could really imagine what they would be like as people, Dessa as the young (slightly naive) girl with not much life experience and Nicolas the mysterious stranger who lures you in from the second you see him. Personally from the outset I was suspicious of Nicolas, with a hidden past you can never be too careful and at times I felt that he may have taken advantage of Dessa but the more you learn about him, my guard fell along with it. I do feel that I could connect with all the characters on some level and the way that the characters connect with each other really brings this story to life.

This book really made me go through so many emotions, I fell in love, laughed and cried along with Dessa’s journey and for me when you get that involved with a book you know that it is skillfully written. As mentioned before you are taken back to a time where you wouldn’t have even known, shown the ways of life of women in that era and taken across county on a journey that you will never forget.

As mentioned before this isn’t your typical historical romance, the twists and turns that this book takes you on are utterly brilliant! The plot twist at the end was so unexpected yet it fit so perfectly. Honestly I didn’t want this book to end, every page I turned I couldn’t wait to see what happens next. A beautiful book by Susan Laffoon, I can’t wait to read more of her work!

Until next time…

If you want to read ‘Can’t Buy Forever’ by Susan Laffoon yourself you can purchase it on Amazon by following the link here.

Bio: Susan Laffoon
Susan Laffoon knows whereof she writes having been raised in Glens Falls, in upstate New York. There, the Hudson River and the boulders that lie in its path, is Cooper’s Cave, a hide-a-way made famous in James Fedimore Cooper’s novel, ‘Drums Along The Mohawk.’ She visited this impressive attraction often growing up and listened to the rushing waters that echoed in the cave. There she decided to one day write romantic adventures. Thus as a young girl, while friends played with dolls, she imagined and scribbled stories of adventure to escape childhood responsibilities and unhappiness. She continued to journal through the years occupied with her husband, Greg, and seven children. It was discovered her love of storytelling was predisposed from a Scandinavian father who died young, a journalist for the Denver Post, a half century earlier. This passion is being fulfilled by his daughter, since putting aside her stethoscope and career as a registered nurse. “Writing has always been in the shadow of my heart”.

P∃T Shop – Gary Buller

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Curiosity killed the cat…

For my first ever audio book review I was excited to listen to ‘P∃T Shop’ by Gary Buller, not knowing much about this book I was intrigued to see what it had in store for me! This book was quite short which I was slightly apprehensive about (30 minutes long listening time) however as the story progressed I kept wishing that it would be longer and never end!

Firstly I was very impressed with the way the audio book was as a whole, using music to enhance the experience was new for me (I’ve listened to a few audio books and all of them have been just the narrator telling the story). The way the music blended in the background helped set the scenes and really brought the story to life! I was worried that it would distract me from the actual story but it took it to a whole new level and made me feel so much more connected with the story.

The story itself is dark and mysterious, making the reader really feel as if you are with Brandon as he enters the ‘pet shop’ – the level of description is highly impressive, making it so easy to imagine how the shop would look, feel and smell. It’s safe to say this isn’t your ordinary pet shop! The character selection is small, two main characters Brandon and Horace and a few mentions of Brandon’s family – however you do find yourself able to relate to the characters and needless to say two main characters is more than enough.

Now on to the ‘pets’ – these creatures are not like any household pets, nor are they ones you would wish to bring home to live with you! The many varieties of creatures that lurk in the shop brings mystery and myth to a whole new level. Creatures such as mermaids and fairies can be seen to make an appearance yet they are not how us humans would imagine them! There are many darker and dangerous creatures that can be found in the shop, unfortunately Brandon’s curiosity gets the better of him and could take him down a dark path.

The creature creation really pleased me, giving the typical mythical creatures an unexpected twist. It gave the reader a chance to delve deeper into the creature’s background (like where Horace found them) and make the reader more curious to what else could be shown next…

The twist at the end was most enjoyable, in all honestly I wasn’t expecting it which frankly was what made it so perfect! I kept wishing that the story would continue as I did get so engrossed with it and wanted to learn more about the pet shop – having so many questions that were unanswered I am hoping that there could be another story to follow on from this.

Until next time…

If you want to listen to ‘P∃T Shop’ by Gary Buller yourself then you can directly download it from the ‘Gallery of Curiosity’ website here.

Bio: Gary Buller
Gary Buller is an author from Manchester, England where he lives with his long suffering partner Lisa, his daughter Holly, and dog Chico. He grew up in the Peak District where the hauntingly beautiful landscapes inspired him to write. He is a huge fan of all things macabre, and loves a tale with a twist.


Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

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The magic continues…

After reading the first book in the Harry Potter series I admittedly wasn’t too excited to continue on and read the Chamber of Secrets as it is not one of my favourites, however this was based on my views of the film therefore I chose to take a chance on the book and read it with a fresh perspective. Thank goodness I did because honestly I felt that this book was just as magical to read as the first one!

As I continue my magical journey with Harry Potter and learn more about his discovery of the wizarding world and what it has to offer him, I was completely engrossed with the level of detail this book offered compared to the film which I don’t think did it much justice. We learn all about House Elves, flying cars, wizarding families, deathday parties, squibs and much more…

Again this is not going to be a step by step review of the book, just my thoughts and feelings of select events.

Harry is introduced to what life as a fully magical family is like, going to spend the last few weeks of his summer holidays with his best friend Ron Weasley (getting there in a flying car might I add) opened his eyes to what being a wizard could really mean. This included ‘de-gnoming’ the garden which turns into a sport of some kind and having Quidditch practice out of sight of muggles in the back yard with Ron and his brothers. With a vibrant and busy household it does make Privet Drive look much more bleak and unwelcoming however this was one of the best summer holidays Harry has ever had.

More firsts for Harry and myself as a reader would be learning about ‘Squibs’ – in the film this didn’t get explained yet in the book we learn about how Filtch (the caretaker at Hogwarts) was born into a magical family yet possesses no magical abilities. When Harry discovers the Kwickspell course letter on Filtch’s desk he becomes aware that Filtch doesn’t know any magic but wishes to learn and this is branded him being a ‘squib’. The more these books continue I start to realise that there are so many ‘types’ of wizards out there that we don’t know about yet I am happy to find out!

One part of the book that I really enjoyed reading was about St Nicolas (nearly headless Nick) and his Deathday Party. For all you muggles out there that don’t know what this is, it is a celebration of the day St Nicolas died. Similar to a birthday party but for the anniversary of his death. As morbid as this may sound for me to enjoy this part I must say that it is an interesting twist as we learn more about the ghosts that hang around Hogwarts and their traditions and history. This party consisted of many ghosts (including the headless huntsmen) rotten food laid out for the party guests and more black candles than you could imagine. Personally I would have loved to be invited…

Another part of this book that stood out for me was the in-depth encounter Harry has with Tom Riddle’s diary, when Harry begins to write to Tom Riddle we learn that the attacks on students have happened before due to the Chamber of Secrets being opened in the past, we also learn that Tom Riddle got bribed into not telling who opened the Chamber and showed Harry his ‘memory’ of what happened, revealing that Hagrid got expelled for unleashing a ‘monster’ into Hogwarts. From this moment on I started to become suspicious of ‘Riddle’ but wished to learn more.

Dobby the House Elf… Need I say more? Now Dobby was portrayed early on as a nuisance to Harry, creating upset in the Dursley’s house causing Aunt Petunia’s pudding to float and fall on top of Uncle Vernon’s head. Then closing the entrance to Platform 9 and 3/4 so that Harry and Ron could not catch the Hogwarts Express, finally cursing a bludger to knock Harry from his broom causing him to end up in the hospital wing. However as the book goes on we learn that Dobby is only looking out for Harry trying to save his life (his methods are slightly flawed) and I personally loved how Harry returns the favour and freed Dobby from Malfoy’s father by offering him his sock. Thus creating a loyal friend and ally that would continue to ‘protect’ Harry Potter.

Finally as Harry enters the Chamber of Secrets it becomes more clear to me how rubbish Professor Lockheart is, from the beginning I didn’t like him due to his self-centered nature, yet when choosing to go into the Chamber of Secrets I know that I would not have chosen Lockheart to accompany me. However Harry becomes victorious and defeats Tom Riddle (spoiler alert!) who is in fact Lord Voldemort, rescues Ginny and from the help of Fawkes escapes the Chamber alive and well.

This book does have a lot more that I could praise and thankfully it has changed my view on this particular novel, overall I’m sure you can tell that this book was an enjoyable read and I can’t wait to continue Harry’s journey further and learn more about the wizarding world and what other things he can do to get into trouble when reading ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’.

Until next time…