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25586821

Witches Protection Program by Michael Phillip Cash

5 stars

(Excerpt from Goodreads) Wes Rockville, a disgraced law enforcement agent, is given one last chance to prove himself and save his career when he’s reassigned to a 232 year old secret government organization. The Witches Protection Program. His first assignment: uncover a billion-dollar Cosmetics company’s diabolical plan of using witchcraft for globadomination, while protecting its heiress Morgan Pendragon from her aunt’s evil deeds. Reluctantly paired with veteran witch protector, Alastair Verne, Wes must learn to believe in both witches and himself. Filled with adventure, suspense and a rousing good time, Michael Phillip Cash creates a tongue-in-cheek alternate reality where witches cast spells and wreak havoc in modern day New York City.

Wes Rockville is a young police officer with other problems that he is trying to work through. Unfortunately things get worse and his father ends up assigning him to the Witches Protection Program. The first problem for Wes is trying to wrap his mind around the fact that witches and other paranormal creatures are real.

Then he is stuck with the grumpy old detective partner that doesn’t plan on making this transfer easy. But Wes is going to try his best. He is to protect Morgan Pendragon from her aunt. The question is if he is going to make it through is first assignment and keep Morgan alive.

I love anything of Michael Phillip Cash and Witches Protection Program does not disappoint. I loved the story. I felt for poor Wes being the one failure in the family. But he keeps trying and ends up being a great officer. Morgan was so meek in the beginning but I enjoyed watching her step up to protect Wes but Alastaire was my favorite. You never know what you are going to get next from him.

This is a great story. It’s a quick read but ends like it could be a series. I really hope that is true because I can’t wait to find out what Wes gets himself into next.

For more information on The Witches Protection Program, or to purchase the book, make sure to check out Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and Michael Phillip Cash’s website.

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach by Pam Jenoff

3 stars

(Excerpt from Goodreads) Summer 1941  

Young Adelia Monteforte flees fascist Italy for America, where she is whisked away to the shore by her well-meaning aunt and uncle. Here, she meets and falls for Charlie Connally, the eldest of the four Irish-Catholic boys next door. But all hopes for a future together are soon throttled by the war and a tragedy that hits much closer to home. 

Grief-stricken, Addie flees—first to Washington and then to war-torn London—and finds a position at a prestigious newspaper, as well as a chance to redeem lost time, lost family…and lost love. But the past always nips at her heels, demanding to be reckoned with. And in a final, fateful choice, Addie discovers that the way home may be a path she never suspected.

Alelia’s parents are worried about their daughter in 1941 Italy. They send her to live with her aunt and uncle in America. While there she meets the neighbors, the Connally’s. They help her adjust to life in America and Aledia ends up falling in love with one of the sons, Charlie.

But when America joins in the fight of World War II, Alelia leaves her aunt and uncle to work in Washington DC for a while then leaves for London. Alelia wants to find a good life but doesn’t know if it is possible with her past continuing to follow her.

I admit that I have not read any of Pam Jenoff’s books. I liked the portion of the story relating to World War II. You can tell that there is a lot of research involved and you feel right there in the middle of everything going on.

But I have to say that I wasn’t really impressed with Adelia. I understand the whole sending her to America. It seems natural that she would fall in love with the neighbor boy Charlie. What gets me though is the fact that she just leaves her aunt and uncles place with no note or such to go to Washington DC. Then when things get tough she runs away to London. I admit that I was a bit irritated with the ending, Adelia just settles.

This is not a bad book, there are just a couple things Adelia does that just rub me the wrong way. I heard that The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach is based on the line of Little Women. So I’m think that if you liked Little Women you would really like this book. I’m sorry but it’s not one of my favorites.

For more information on The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach, or to purchase the book, make sure to check out Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and Pan Jenoff’s website.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Taking Leaps and Finding Ghosts by Janet DeLee

5 stars

(Excerpt from Goodreads) Dreams aren’t just for the young, and Ginny Lawther is happy to prove that even at the age of fifty-eight she can still brave a leap of faith…she just needs a little prodding from like-minded individuals. Step one: place an ad in the local newspaper inviting other dreamers to form an Ideal Life Club. Step two: see if anyone shows up.

When Ginny meets four hopeful strangers at the first club meeting, she thinks they’re off to a great start.

Now it’s only a matter of time before the sixty-something widow Hilda turns her crafting into a full-time career; the twenty-something Jerry becomes a professional musician; and the thirty-something housewife Lydia publishes her cookbook. That is, until the rugged divorcé, Lee, sets a goal to solve his ghost problem—and upends all their lives!

Suddenly the support group isn’t just trying to navigate the ups and downs of pursuing their dreams; they’re also wrestling with a strange cast of spirits who keep interrupting their endeavors. What do these apparitions want? And why have they latched on to the Ideal Lifers?

Haunting, humorous, and hopeful, Taking Leaps and Finding Ghosts sparks the imagination and breathes unexpected life into everyday reality.

Ginny Lawther is a successful author and wants to share with others the chance to reach for their dreams. So, Ginny puts an ad in the local newspaper. Although she is expecting a huge crowd of people, she only gets four. Hilda works at an assisted living facility and dreams of making money from her crafts. Jerry wants to be a successful musician but has a hard time just trying to perform in a local bookstore. Lydia wants to publish a cook book and Lee is trying to perform a renovation but is plagued by a ghost.

Ginny gives them all notebooks to write down their dreams, their plans, and anything else related to reaching their goals. They also meet to discuss what is going on and encourage each other. Along the way they have different things that happen that both seems to crush their dreams. But with the group backing them and perseverance they all will reach their goals.

I loved this book. Ginny starts a small group to try and inspire others to reach for their dreams. Although the turnout is not what she expected, the group is there to support each other and make this book come together beautifully. I loved the whole ghost hunting section the best. Especially when Ginny is taking notes for her own problems.

This is a great story. It’s not a typical one in the sense that you can get encouragement, hints, and tips to reach your own goals. This is a great story and I can’t wait for other books from Janet DeLee.

For more information on Taking Leaps and Finding Ghosts or to purchase the book make sure to check out Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and Janet DeLee’s Facebook page.

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Pretty Baby

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Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica

4 stars

(Excerpt from Goodreads) She sees the teenage girl on the train platform, standing in the pouring rain, clutching an infant in her arms. She boards a train and is whisked away. But she can’t get the girl out of her head…

Heidi Wood has always been a charitable woman: she works for a nonprofit, takes in stray cats. Still, her husband and daughter are horrified when Heidi returns home one day with a young woman named Willow and her four-month-old baby in tow. Disheveled and apparently homeless, this girl could be a criminal—or worse. But despite her family’s objections, Heidi invites Willow and the baby to take refuge in their home.

Heidi spends the next few days helping Willow get back on her feet, but as clues into Willow’s past begin to surface, Heidi is forced to decide how far she’s willing to go to help a stranger. What starts as an act of kindness quickly spirals into a story far more twisted than anyone could have anticipated.

This story rotates between three people; Chris, Heidi, and Willow. Chris is an investment banker and very focused on money. Chris is married to Heidi who could care less about all the riches money can buy. Instead she is more concerned with not having anything. She recycles almost everything, helps those in need, and is known for bringing home stray cats.

Willow is a teenage mother with a baby that is living at a train station. Heidi notices Willow one day. A couple days later she sees her and knows that Willow is homeless and offers her home to the girl and her baby. But things are not always what they initially appear and this book is going to keep you guessing until the end.

I loved Heidi, she has such a big heart and goes out of her way to help those in need. I admit that I was not impressed with Chris, he was so selfish and their spoiled daughter Zoe needed a little bit of a wakeup call. But Willow is the one that kept me guessing. Nothing is never how it first appears and I was suspicious of her from the very beginning and was worried that this was not going to end well for Heidi.

This is a great story, I couldn’t wait to find out what the next clue to the mystery of Willow. Since this is the first book I have read of Mary Kubica I will definitely be looking for others from her.

For more information on Pretty Baby or to purchase the book make sure to check out Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and Mary Kubica’s website.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Doorway to Your Dreams

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Doorway to Your Dreams by John P. Goetz

5 stars

(Excerpt from Goodreads) Doorway to Your Dreams by John P. Goetz is a science fiction thriller about Oban DeCarlo’s master plan to use humans with supernatural powers to create remote weapons of mass destruction. His program, Operation Traumland, is a fully funded Black Ops program located in an abandoned lab on Plum Island, New York. DeCarlo has created a laboratory where human ethics have been consciously abandoned, and the success of the mission is more important than any human life. When the novel begins, DeCarlo has already disposed of dozens in preliminary tests and is now ready for subjects with superhuman powers to finalize his first version of the eagerly anticipated U.S. weapon system. DeCarlo identifies and captures a US Army Helicopter Pilot serving in Vinh Long, South Vietnam in July 1967, by organizing a covert operation using North Vietnamese soldiers to kidnap the American they have nicknamed, “Demon” for his uncanny ability to easily find and kill their comrades. “Demon,” known as “Spooncake” by his fellow US Army colleagues, can hear the thought-noise from those around him, and sees spikes of color emanating from people many miles away. The spears of color in the sky depict the emotions of those below. Red, yellow, pink, black, white, turquoise, orange, and green indicate the collective feelings of calm, commotion, intensity, confidence, confusion, and death. His abilities make finding enemy troops easy; he needs only to fly toward the color red signifying anger and let his gunner, Baxter Hammond, take care of the rest. Their hit ratio is legendary. DeCarlo has also identified Linda Fisher, a beautiful card shark living in Las Vegas with a psychic ability to know how the cards will play before they are dealt, making her excessive winning streak a target for the Vegas casino bosses. DeCarlo’s men kidnap her and take her to his laboratory to be another specimen in Operation Traumland. “Spooncake” and Linda are to be used as Operation Traumland’s Adam and Eve. On the island, their supernatural and psychic abilities are channeled and amplified to build an undetectable human war machine. Ultimately, Linda becomes the only person able to bring the tragic, almost dead war hero, “Spooncake,” back to life and plots their escape. Their story follows a perilous journey to freedom, while maintaining honor, seeking revenge, and escaping the horrors of a fanatical sadist focused on doing anything to complete his dream of creating an unimaginable army of unseen killers.

The blurb of this book pretty much tells you what happens in the book. Vietnam veteran Tim McAllister, aka Spooncake, has the ability to hear people from long distances away. He also can sense people’s auras and uses this to kill many people in Vietnam. This makes his life difficult in its own way. But this ability has attracted Oban DeCarlo.

DeCarlo wants to make a team of assassins that can kill people from a long distance away and from a different plane of existence. Thus he has created Operation Traumland. DeCarlo gives Spooncake a mission that is designed to fail and bring him to the island where Traumland is based. Then enter Linda Fisher, she has the uncanny ability to know how the cards will be dealt. DeCarlo has his eyes set on Linda for a key role in the whole Operation Traumland plan.

This is an amazing book. There is an amazing story with lots of action. The book spans from the 1960’s to the 1990’s. I love the whole concept of Operation Traumland. But I have to say that although Spooncake was a great lead character, DeCarlo was the perfect balance. He had a rough past but which gives you the idea of why he is the way he is. But that doesn’t excuse this plans.

If you love the fast paced thrillers this is the book for you. It’s easy to get caught up in the story and very hard to put the book down. Make sure to get your copy today.

For more information on Doorway to Your Dreams or to purchase the book make sure to check out Amazon and Goodreads.

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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The Caretaker’s Guide to Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

5 stars

(Excerpt from Goodreads) This guidebook to the Fablehaven magical preserve is filled with everything a new Caretaker might need to know in order to survive. There are entries detailing important information about artifacts large and small, a complete bestiary of creatures (from fairies to trolls to satyrs), a guide to identifying demons, dragons, and wizards as well as valuable insights into the other magical preserves.

Immerse yourself into the secret knowledge that has been handed down through the generations by reading the updates and notes written in the margins by the former Caretakers of Fablehaven, including Grandpa Sorenson, Kendra, and Seth. Fully-illustrated, this unique encyclopedia has gathered the world of Fablehaven into one volume.

Scattered throughout the book are colorful fairies that also mark some of the characters, artifacts, and creatures that will be featured in the upcoming sequel series, Dragonwatch.

If you have read the Fablehaven series, you will know that this is about magic preserves, locations for magical creatures to be safe from humans, and the adventures that involves them. I love this series and when I saw the opportunity to review The Caretaker’s Guide I had to jump on it.

This book is filled with the difference magical creatures throughout all the preserves and some additional that have been included in the adventures. There are beautiful illustrations that add to the descriptions and helped me to understand what the creatures look like in Brandon Mull’s mind. But I have to say the best part are all the notes throughout for the locations and experiences with these creatures. It really linked the guide to the Fablehaven series.

It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, starting this series or a longtime lover, this book is a great addition. Now I’m going to read the Fablehaven series again.

For more information on The Caretaker’s Guide to Fablehaven or to purchase the book make sure to check out Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and Brandon Mull’s website.Shadow Mountain

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I received this book for free from Shadow Mountain Publishing and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Aftermath Lounge

Aftermath Lounge

by Margaret McMullan

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina destroyed 95% of the small coastal town of Pass Christian, Mississippi. With a 28-foot storm surge, the highest recorded in U.S. history, 55-foot waves, and winds reaching 120 mph, the town was wiped off the map—temporarily.

Award-winning author Margaret McMullan saw the destruction firsthand. Her family’s historic Gulf Coast home—her father’s beloved southern jewel—was one of the houses in Pass Christian devastated by Katrina. Despite the chaos immediately following the storm, McMullan’s family was among the first to rebuild and donated to the Red Cross, the Pass Christian fire station, and the Pass Christian library.

During this time, McMullan witnessed small acts of heroism that inspired her to write about the community and its people, and how tragedy shapes our character. In 2010, she was awarded a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship to complete the project.

Born in part out of her family’s deep connection to the community, Aftermath Lounge: A Novel in Stories (April 2015, Calypso Editions) releases at the 10-year anniversary of Katrina and comprises fictional vignettes about the people of Pass Christian in the storm’s wake. The stories are connected by a setting near to the author’s heart—the McMullans’ home, which was originally constructed in 1845 and restored by her father numerous times over the years.

Aftermath Lounge is a compelling tribute to the Gulf Coast and resurrects the place and its people alongside their heartaches and triumphs. It is a riveting mosaic that feeds our desire to understand what it means to be alive in this day and age.

Margaret Photo

Margaret McMullan

Margaret McMullan is the author of six award-winning novels including In My Mother’s House (St. Martin’s Press), Sources of Light (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Cashay (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), When I Crossed No-Bob (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), and How I Found the Strong (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Her writing has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Ploughshares, Southern Accents, TriQuarterly, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Sun, and many other publications. She received an NEA Fellowship in literature for Aftermath Lounge and a Fulbright award to teach at the University of Pécs in Pécs, Hungary, for her upcoming non-fiction work, Where the Angels Live. Her anthology of essays by 25 well-known female authors writing about their fathers, Every Father’s Daughter (McPherson & Company), is also available in Spring 2015. She currently holds the Melvin Peterson Endowed Chair in Creative Writing at the University of Evansville in Indiana.

Interview with Margaret McMullan

  1. Aftermath Lounge honors the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Can you tell us about your experience during those days when the storm hit?

 

Shortly after the storm hit, my husband and I drove down from Evansville, Indiana to Pass Christian, Mississippi. We saw aerial footage of the town and we could see that the roof on my parents’ house was mostly intact – that’s all we could see. We brought water and a lot of supplies to donate. There was a gas shortage then, and limited cell phone coverage. The closer we came to the town, the more it became like a war zone. The National Guard was there to keep people away, but we got through, thanks to a relative.

 

The night before we left, my mother told us to forget about everything else — all she really wanted was the painting of her mother, which had been smuggled out of Vienna during WWII. We had house keys but there were no doors. When we got there, the house was gutted – the storm surge had essentially ripped through the house.

 

We put on rubber gloves and spent the day sifting through the debris, dragging out any salvageable pieces of furniture. The water had shoved through the closed shutters, plowed up under the foundation and tore open the back walls, bashing around the furniture, sinks, toilets, stoves, washers, driers.

 

We never did find the painting.

 

Elizabeth Bishop wrote a wonderful villanelle called “One Art.” She wrote about losing small items like keys and an hour badly spent, then she progresses to the greater losses — her mother’s watch, a house, cities, rivers, a continent, and finally, a loved one. “The art of losing isn’t hard to master,” she starts. “So many things seem filled with the intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster.” I thought of that poem a lot.

 

  1. Your family played a key role, helping Pass Christian rebuild. What were a few moments that influenced you during that time?

We saw so many people from all walks of life and they were suddenly homeless. My father organized financial donations. There were no fire trucks left after the storm, so he made sure Pass Christian got a fire truck. We were always big supporters of the library too. The Pass Christian Policemen had stayed during the storm to make sure everyone was safe. They had tried to stay safe in the library, but then when the water rose, they had to shoot out the windows to swim away to safety. I used that information in the title story of Aftermath Lounge. These men were real heroes.

 

  1. Did you know from the moment the storm hit that someday you would write a novel about it? Or did a later experience give you the idea? If so, what was it?

At first I just witnessed. I think that’s what writers do mostly. We witness. Then the material lets us know what it wants to become. I just took notes. Later stories started taking shape and they were all in different voices. It was the only way I could work at this material.

  1. Part of your inspiration for the novel came from your family’s beautiful mansion. How did your own experiences in that house shape each of the stories you wrote?

Well, it’s hardly a mansion, but I was surprised to discover just how much a house could mean. Everyone always says it’s just stuff, but there were so many collective memories there. When we stood and looked at everything so undone, it felt like our times spent there were gone too.

Katrina had such a huge impact on the coast, on my family, and on me. I am always telling my students to write what they most care about, to write what keeps them up at night. I had to write about Katrina. I had written about the Civil War, Reconstruction and WWII, so I saw Katrina as an historical event. I treated the hurricane more as setting. It’s in the background. The human drama is in the forefront. I’m always interested in what people do or don’t do in the face of real catastrophe. I didn’t want to write from one point of view either. I wanted to give voice to a variety of people because Katrina affected everyone.

  1. What was your writing process like for this novel? Did you know from the start it would be a novel in stories? Or did that become apparent only after you began writing?

There were so many news stories coming out at the time. I write nonfiction, but I couldn’t get my thoughts together. I couldn’t make sense of anything. Out of habit, I took a lot of notes. I could only deal with writing about all that was happening a little bit at a time. And my own personal story just wasn’t that interesting.

I personally witnessed and experienced the best in human nature. People and communities came together and helped one another in the most meaningful way. They endured with a great deal of kindness and grace. So I chipped away at the material. I wanted to tell a community’s story.

Praise for Aftermath Lounge!

“I love these stories. They’re so smart, beautiful, true—and so real—that they seemed like part of my own history. I felt homesick in the best way, flooded with a kind of saddened joy. They snuffed the gimlet-eyed adult and brought to life again, for a while, the wondrous child.” — Brad Watson, Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives

“I like these new stories so much it’s hard to know where to start. But a good place to begin would be…well, Place. She brings it to life like few writers can. You can almost feel the heavy air on your skin. As for her characters, they’re three dimensional people who are so real, you feel like they’re in the room with you. She’s got a great ear, a fine eye, and something else that you can’t buy—namely, a very large heart.” — Steve Yarbrough, The Realm of Last Chances

“Aftermath Lounge is a beautiful, compelling collection, the emotions as powerfully charged as the winds of a hurricane. Margaret McMullan writes movingly about those living in and pulling themselves out of destruction and chaos and loss to salvage all they can of love and redemption. From the voices of orphaned children to the least likely man to don a Santa Claus suit, there are moments of devastation, comic relief and grace.” — Jill McCorkle, Life After Life

“In Aftermath Lounge each short story, like a homing pigeon, returns to the Gulf Coast to explore how its people struggle with the ghost of Hurricane Katrina. With riveting prose, Margaret McMullan tracks the weblike connections of family and friends haunted by the storm from Pass Christian, Mississippi, to Chicago.” — William Ferris, The Storied South: Voices of Writers and Artists

“How strange, that the best apocalyptic fiction of the year should come to us, not borne on the maelstrom of nuclear fire or horrific epidemic, but rather in this series of beautifully crafted and masterfully interwoven literary stories. In Aftermath, our humanity is not simply swept away by the fury and chaos of Katrina; rather, it is tested, sometimes broken, sometimes intensified, and ultimately renewed by the deluge. A hopeful Book of Revelation.” — Pinckney Benedict, Miracle Boy and Other Stories!

For more information or to purchase Aftermath Lounge, make sure to check out Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and Margaret McMullan’s website.

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