Monday, January 25, 2016

The Hours Before

The Hours Before by Robert Stephen Parry
  • Paperback: 422 pages  
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (March 2, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 150852422X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1508524229

The Blurb ...

In darkness, late at night, a woman returns to her hotel to discover her usual maid has been replaced by a stranger. What begins as an icy exchange, born of weariness, becomes within minutes one of the most extraordinary encounters of her life. It will take her on a journey deep into her past and towards the fateful assignation that already awaits her on the other side of the night. Set amid the elegance and sophistication of the Belle Époque, and the Gothic splendour of late Victorian England, ‘The Hours Before’ is a story of drama, mystery and romance, revealing a hidden world of vice and malevolence – but also a pathway of transformation and knowledge.

Robert is a gifted writer. The amount of detail that is put into his books is unbelievable. The text flows nicely and it's easy to understand. There are times though that I catch myself skimming through for dialogue because there is so much to read. This book in particular was a very long, exhaustive read for me. I did however enjoy the atmosphere and time period of it. It was well researched and the characters were likable. My heart was breaking for Deborah as she searched for her daughter. I admired her strength and courage. There were some unexpected twists that grabbed my attention and I enjoyed the ending. I have read all of Robert's books. They are flawless. :)

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Lost Tudor Princess

The Lost Tudor Princess by Alison Weir

  • Print Length: 576 pages 
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (January 12, 2016)
  • Publication Date: January 12, 2016
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00XG95GJC

The Blurb ...

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE INDEPENDENT • From New York Times bestselling author and acclaimed historian Alison Weir comes the first biography of Margaret Douglas, the beautiful, cunning niece of Henry VIII of England who used her sharp intelligence and covert power to influence the succession after the death of Elizabeth I.
Royal Tudor blood ran in her veins. Her mother was a queen, her father an earl, and she herself was the granddaughter, niece, cousin, and grandmother of monarchs. Lady Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox, was an important figure in Tudor England, yet today, while her contemporaries—Anne Boleyn, Mary, Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I—have achieved celebrity status, she is largely forgotten. 
Margaret’s life was steeped in intrigue, drama, and tragedy—from her auspicious birth in 1530 to her parents’ bitter divorce, from her ill-fated love affairs to her appointment as lady-in-waiting for four of Henry’s six wives. In an age when women were expected to stay out of the political arena, alluring and tempestuous Margaret helped orchestrate one of the most notorious marriages of the sixteenth century: that of her son Lord Darnley to Mary, Queen of Scots. Margaret defiantly warred with two queens—Mary, and Elizabeth of England—and was instrumental in securing the Stuart ascension to the throne of England for her grandson, James VI.
The life of Margaret Douglas spans five reigns and provides many missing links between the Tudor and Stuart dynasties. Drawing on decades of research and myriad original sources—including many of Margaret’s surviving letters—Alison Weir brings this captivating character out of the shadows and presents a strong, capable woman who operated effectively and fearlessly at the very highest levels of power.
Margaret Tudor's life was just as scandalous and intriguing as her more well-known cousins, and her story is worth reading. Margaret lived through three different imprisonments, the birth of eight children, only two of which survived into adulthood. Sadly, her wish for them to prosper lead to her imprisonments. She was impulsive and reckless with her choices, much like Mary Queen of Scots, who gave birth to Margaret's grandson James, who later in life became King James VI of Scotland and King James I of England and Ireland after Queen Elizabeth I died. I enjoy Alison Weir's books and this one is no exception. I recommend it to anyone interested in Tudor history. I caution though that it is a very hefty book and it isn't for the faint of heart. You have to like non-fiction in order to appreciate its worth and depth. 

This book was given as an advanced copy to review by NetGalley, my review is written with honesty and without any ties to the author. I did not receive any monetary gain from doing so.

The Essential Guide to Aromatherapy & Vibrational Healing

The Essential Guide to Aromatherapy & Vibrational Healing by Margaret Ann Lembo
  • Paperback: 360 pages 
  • Publisher: Llewellyn Publications (March 8, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738743399
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738743394

The blurb ...

This is an A-Z guide to 60 essential oils that also brings together the combination of flower remedies, gemstones essences, and other vibrational elements that can be incorporated for enhanced healing practice.
The beginning chapters outline the history of essential oils and how to use them as well as other elements that can be used in combination with the oils to enhance your practices. These include flower essences, gemstone essences, holy water, divine messengers, chakras, zodiac, planets, numbers, and animals.
From there, 60 essential oils are detailed. For each essential oil she includes Name of Oil; Key Phrase; Botanical Name; Note; Common Method of Extraction; Parts Used; Fragrance; Affirmation; Color; Complementary Flower Essences; Complementary Stones; Chakra(s); About the Plant; Chemical Components; Astrological Sign(s); Planet(s); Number(s); Animal(s); Spiritual Uses; Mental Uses; Emotional Uses; Physical Uses; Therapeutic Properties; Divine Guidance; For Your Safety; Interesting Tidbits.
The final appendices section provides further information on working with each of these vibrational elements (essential oils, flower remedies, gemstones, and other elements). An extensive glossary is also included.
This book discusses calling upon angels and guides to help you in your life, the seven chakras, zodiac signs, planets, numbers, animals, colors, flowers etc. There is a quick reference to the history of using aromatherapy, and how one can use it to balance their life physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The object is to use the fragrance to help bring forth a memory, thus observing the past in order to move forward in your life. 

For each oil mentioned you get the spiritual uses, mental uses, emotional uses, and physical uses. 

A fruitful example is: The use of Holly to release fears of jealousy as well as your jealousy of others. Honeysuckle to observe the past and use the memories to move forward. Larch to amplify self-confidence and courage. Walnut for change and integration. Willow to forgive and forget past injuries.

The other stuff might prove favorable to someone else, but to me it's just 'fluffy bunny.'

The idea of this book is an interesting concept. I do however think that other books available may be much more handy in my opinion. This one is fluffy and a little too 'new age' for me.  

This book was given as an advanced copy to review by NetGalley, my review is written with honesty and without any ties to the author. I did not receive any monetary gain from doing so.

Monday, December 14, 2015


Mechanic by Alexa Riley
  • Print Length: 175 pages  
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1519328176
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publication Date: November 6, 2015
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B017OZY752

The Blurb ...

Everything was fine until that innocent little rich girl walked into my garage. Since the second I laid my eyes on her, all I've wanted to do is get my dirty hands on her pure body. 

There's one minor obstacle standing in my way, but I've got a plan. All I've got to do is claim her, and she’ll be mine forever. 

Warning: This book is over-the-top, insta-love. There's nothing but steamy scenes, babies trying to be made, and an obsessed bearded alpha hero claiming a virgin who will be his forever. If you want it hot and dirty, this is it! 

*whispers* There's a sweet smutty surprise at the end! 

I have to admit that I have read very few erotica novellas, and the ones I have read haven't even come close to this one. At first I was like, "yeah okay, so listen here 'caveman' I have a few choice words for you," but then after the first sex scene I felt more like this ...

I could easily look past all of the typos, and the less than mediocre plot, and even the fact that Penelope decides not to use her voice and becomes his subservient sexual possession, because she totally wants him as much as he wants her. He's definitely rough around the edges, but has some redeemable qualities. 

I don't think I will ever look at another erotica novella the same again. I might just have a new favorite genre and author. Off to add some more of her books to my night-time reading pile. It feels so sinfully exciting. ;)  

Try it, you might like it. No shame here.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Sage's Eyes

Sage's Eyes by V.C Andrews
  • Series: Forbidden  
  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books (January 26, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451650914
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451650914

The blurb ...

From V.C. Andrews, bestselling author of Flowers in the Attic (the first in a series of Lifetime movie events about the Dollanganger family), comes the tale of a young girl kept under the watchful eye of her adoptive parents, as if they fear who—or what—she’ll become…

Sixteen-year-old Sage is a lonely child. Her adoptive parents watch her obsessively, as if studying her for warning signs of…something. And maybe they’re right to—even she can’t make sense of the strange things she sees and hears. She possesses knowledge that other teenagers don’t, that her parents and teachers—no adult—could possibly have. So when Sage finally makes a friend who understands her alarming gift, he becomes her confidant, a precarious link to the truth about who she really is. For Sage and the alluring new boy at school share many things in common. Perhaps, they’ll learn, far too many things.

Ugh! Seriously? The first 50% of the book took some getting used to, and didn't have enough conflict to keep me interested. I had to put the book down for a while and read something else before picking it back up again. After a few times of doing this, it became more interesting. I had all sorts of theories going on in my head trying to guess the ending and tie everything together, but I have to admit that the ending was possibly the cheesiest, most bogus ending I had ever read before. I was totally expecting much more from a V.C Andrews book. 


I am going to say for the record that I am a Pagan, and a practicing witch, although not 'Wiccan' and this book was equivalent to the nonsense in the movie 'The Craft.' The least that the author could have done was research the topic a bit more. I understand that this book is fiction, but even fiction is best received when well known religions aren't exploited and totally fabricated. I will not let my teenagers read this book because it puts silly ideas in their heads like the following excerpts from the book: 

'We are all Wiccans. We were born into it. You were born of a mother who wasn't one of us, but your father was." 

Seriously? and ...

"We're both old enough to be beyond our Wiccan powers. They weaken with age but not for the first hundred years or so," he said."

First of all, one is not simply born Wiccan. Any religion that one follows during their lifetime is a choice. We all have the same blood running through our veins, and this implies otherwise. Some of us are born with special gifts it is true, but this doesn't make us Wiccan or any other religion.

Secondly, Wiccan isn't the name given to ancient practices of witchcraft, but instead it is the new age movement, and the first recorded use of the word didn't appear until 1962, even though the 'Wiccans' in this family are immortal (apparently) and beyond 100 years old. 

The story would have been better received by me had it not used the word 'Wicca' or 'Wiccan' at all. One can be a witch and not be Wiccan. 

All the silly symbolism in the book and special emphasis on the 'pentacle' and 'pentagram' made it more phony. You can write a good story about witches and having powers etc without throwing in ridiculous stereotypical stuff. Witches from a hundred years ago didn't wear industrial produced jewelry with pentacles on them, and had they lived an immortal life, they wouldn't concern themselves with such symbols just because they could. Instead they'd probably find them quite useless. 

The way that the parents critiqued Sage's every move was too strange and repetitive. It was the only thing that kept the story moving forward, and the entire plot of the book. Is she good or bad? Will she be one of us, or won't she? ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

The whole time I was reading I expected them to be shapeshifters or vampires or something more inspiring. This book is a big let down. The author is apparently running out of ideas. Two thumbs down.

This book was given as an advanced copy to review by NetGalley, my review is written with honesty and without any ties to the author. I did not receive any monetary gain from doing so.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Traditional Witchcraft For Urban Living

Traditional Witchcraft For Urban Living by Melusine Draco
  • Paperback: 152 pages  
  • Publisher: Moon Books (February 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846949785

The Blurb ...
For the witch whose career confines them to an urban environment, regular Craft practice may often seem like a futile gesture, especially if home is a small, gardenless-flat. Even the suburbs can be magically incapacitating, if there is constant noise from traffic and neighbours. People work long hour without having the opportunity to notice the subtle changing of the seasons. Weekends are a constant battle with family, domestic chores and socialising. It’s no wonder that the urban witch has little time left for magical and spiritual development.Traditional Witchcraft for Urban Living deals with the constant barrage of psychic problems that confront the urban witch on a daily basis. Based on the teachings of a traditional Craft background, the author successfully manages to blend the Old Ways with practical contemporary practice. This book is part of the Traditional Witchcraft Series.

When I sought this book out I was drawn to it first by a blog I visited while researching Traditional Witchcraft topics. I can't for the life of me remember which blog it was though. But anyhow, I was hoping for something different. This book was just okay for me. Here is why ...

This book can be summed up with a history lessons in Saxon / Norman life, and how Christians took their sacred spaces and instead of destroying them, they put relics of their own God in them so that it wouldn't be so hard for the Pagan to convert themselves to Christianity. The same goes for the celebrations to bring in the changes in seasons; all of which were given Christian names so that the Pagans could celebrate their holidays at the same time Christians did until the old ways were so far back in history that they were obsolete. I knew all this, and really felt disappointed that 65% of the book was rehashing this instead of giving the information that I thought it was going to, which is ways to bring traditional witchcraft into city living and ways that one can put this into daily 'practice.' 

The truth is, there was very little 'practice' advice in this book. The author basically tells you to cast a circle, grow herbs on your balcony, sit in an old church to meditate, read tarot cards, and collect old poetry so that you can conjure better spells with the use of rhyme and rhythm. Also, if you live outside of the UK, you won't fully engage with the whole text because you will be bored listening to her talk about locations of churches and such. 

By the end of the book she makes some interesting statements about how others practice the craft and how meditating for hours only to end with a "feel good factor" basically isn't the craft and you are just kidding yourself. Even though I believe that magic is much more complex than that, she didn't mince her words any. So this might be offensive to some readers. She goes on to say that experienced witches don't work at the textbook level, and they learn to sense things much differently than seeing rainbows and unicorns. (well, I did put my own words there in summery, but this is what was meant to be heard). I get all this, because if I didn't I wouldn't be seeking traditional witchcraft books  in the first place. I get it. Stores are full of fluffy new age crap -- well duh. So tell me more about the stuff that isn't crap.

I guess I was hoping for more traditional ritual ideas because I find it difficult to bring the craft into my daily life. So far the only way I have found it possible has been through cooking. But hey, onto the next book, shall we?

I won't buy another of the author's book because of the yawning factor, but also because it is full of repetitive material, and typos. There is very little that is useful here. She talks to you throughout the text as if you are a beginner and then other times as if you already know everything. I hope someone comes out with some good books on this subject sooner, rather than later, but I have my doubts. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Breaking Up with Barrett

Breaking Up with Barrett by Katy Regnery
  • Print Length: 177 pages  
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Katharine Gilliam Regnery; 1 edition (July 21, 2014)
  • Publication Date: July 21, 2014
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English

Emily Edwards, a first-year doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania, grew up in the gatehouse on the outskirts of Barrett's childhood estate. The daughter of his family's gardener and housekeeper, she was always looking through the window of privilege, but forced to remember her place at the very periphery of the kingdom.

When business partners suggest that a fiancee might soften Barrett's image over business dinners, he approaches Emily for the "job" of fiancee. And while love wasn't necessarily on Barrett's radar, he begins to realize that Emily always has been. But will his take-no-prisoners boardroom tactics work on the heart of the woman he loves?

Barrett is a dream guy. His wallet has no limits, and by the end of the book, neither does his heart. He comes across in his business world as a shark, but in his personal life his confidence wavers. He has saved his heart for the heroine in the story, and it is so endearing.

Emily is a down to earth heroine who has always had a crush on Barrett. Unfortunately her social class has kept her from being romantic with him. She always felt like he was out of her league. It doesn't take her long to realize that he shares her affections, and the fake ring on her finger is actually very real, and meant for her.

Plot - The plot is appealing enough, and keeps the story moving along nicely. I couldn't help but think of the movie, "Pretty Woman" while reading it though. It wasn't exactly the same, but close enough to be predictable. I liked the hero enough to keep reading. By the end of the book I shed a few tears, and felt satisfied. The hero has a way with words, and tugs at the heart strings. Every woman needs a Barrett in her life.

The only thing that I couldn't help but feel slightly awkward about is the constant reminder that the hero has known the heroine since the day she was born. He was 8 years old. It is brought up so often that he comes across as being a little too obsessed, and perhaps at times when he shouldn't have been. Like when he was in college and she was 14 (not sure exactly, but something like that), he wanted her -- creepy, and inappropriate. It was so prevalent in the story that it didn't sit well with me and I cringed.

I will probably buy the next book in this series out of curiosity to get to know one of Barrett's brothers. The author writes well enough to give another of her books a try. No huge mistakes in the text, and enjoyable enough.