Readers' Favorite

September 29, 2016

A Love of Witches

by Elisa Hordon

Hocus Pocus, Abracadabra, Expelliarmus...from Shakespeare to Harry Potter and beyond a mystical world of witches, fantasy and wonder.

My life has always been me with my head in a book, and yes, most of the time those books involve fantasy, supernatural and mysterious wonder, make believe worlds full of witches, dragons and more.

Now books with witches are what I'm focusing on here even though I love everything supernatural, fantasy, and sci- fi, trying to write about all of that in one blog post would take forever. I have read a lot of books about witches, so if I miss some it's generally not because I have not read them but because I have read so many I sometimes forget a few, so please list more witchy books in the comments just in case there are some I have not read yet. I am always interested in more books.

cover Wizard of OzIt all started with the Wizard of Oz; those books were a jump start into my own world of fantasy. Next came Narnia - that magical wonderful world where you step through a wardrobe and become a king or queen of a beautiful mystical world. It was followed by Roald Dahl's The Witches, Shakespeare's Macbeth, Homer's Odyssey where Circe the Greek Goddess of magic lures Odysseus away from his quest. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmerman Bradly about Arthurian times with Merlin and Morgan LeFay, the Beauchamp witches from The Witches of East End by Melissa De La Cruz, Bonnie Bennett from The Vampire Diaries, Millie and Pamela from Shannon Mayer's Rylee Adamson series, and The Blood Borne series by Denise Grover Swank and Shannon Mayer: all of these magical books paved my love of everything witchy and some of them have also been made into awesome movies and TV shows to bring the magic even more to life.

Cozy Mystery Witches

More recently I have found a love of cozy mystery books that center around witches, some of these include funny witch families and even whole magical towns, some where magic is known and practiced openly and some where it is used in secret. My all time favorite is Amanda M Lee's Wicked Witches of the Midwest, This series centers around a fictional town of Hemlock Cove and the hilarious Winchester Witches, namely the youngest generation Bay, Thistle and Clover Winchester and the antics they get up to around town helping solve murder and mysteries with their special gifts and sarcastic humor and, of course, their Aunty Tillie. No mention of this series is complete without Aunty Tillie.

Mindy Klasky writes the Jane Maddison series. Jane is new to the craft, and her stories are wonderfully funny to read as Jane learns her way around her new magical world.

The Magic and Mixology series by Gina LaManna is a delightful read featuring a witch, a blood intolerant vampire and a shifter who has trouble shifting and there is the rest of Lily Locke's family. This series is set on a magical island and you are transported to this magical island as you read.

Jollie Wilkins series by H.P Mallory is a great magical adventure, The Easy Bake Coven series by Liz Schulte is highly entertaining. Bailey Cates's Magical Bakery series is a good fun read.

Rose Pressey writes a lot of different series: some are supernatural, some are just great mysteries. Her Halloween Laveau series is my favorite and not just because it centers around witches and is set in my favorite place, New Orleans, but it is a really funny series with great characters.

cover Witch is When It All BeganAn all-time favorite author of mine is Deanna Chase. I am a huge fan of everything she writes, but my first love will always be her Jade Calhoun series. Jade is just awesome; she kicks butt on a regular basis. Jade has style and her own flare, and she has awesome friends as well.

Camilla Chafer wrote the Stella Mayweather series. There are 5 awesome books in this magical series and each one is more awesome than the next.

Leighann Dobbs's Blackmore Sisters series about 4 sisters who work together as a family to solve magical mysteries is a great cozy favorite of mine. Dakota Kassidy's Witchless in Seattle series is just plain hilarious: Stevie is awesome.

Janet Evanovich is known for her hilarious Stephanie Plum series, but my favorite series of hers is Lizzy and Deisel. This series is pure magical fun from start to finish; each book is just awesome.

Larsen Quick and her Mayhem Sisters series is highly enjoyable in a supernatural magical way. J,A Whiting writes the Sweet Cove Mysteries which I love not just for the magical mystery side but the recipes included in this series are just wonderful. Adele Abbott's Witch P.I series is laugh out loud funny and a great blend of supernatural and normal worlds.

Supernatural Mysteries

cover Witches AnonymousMoving away from the cozy mysteries and into more full-on supernatural mysteries...

Misty Evans writes amazing romantic suspense thrillers but she also writes the amazing Witches Anonymous series. Amy Atwood is trying to not use magic. The problem is she has a penchant for getting into magical trouble, and it probably is not a good thing that Lucifer himself is her boyfriend or maybe ex-boyfriend. This series is full of magical hijinks.

I can't talk about witches without mentioning Harry Potter. I mean, seriously, if we are talking awesome magical books this series has to be right up there for fantastical, magical adventure. I cannot tell how many times I have read these books, listened to the audio books and watched the movies. Harry Potter really is the ultimate in witchy books about magical, mysterious people and places.

Witches in Movies

Witches on the big screen generally come from the books I've read. The Wizard of Oz is always a classic movie. Practical Magic, what can I say, this is one time when I prefered the movie to the book. Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Diane Weist and Stockard Channing are all just amazing. Hocus Pocus is a funny witchy comedy with the always brilliant Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathi Najimny. Oh and The Witches of Eastwick with Cher, Michelle Pfifer, Susan Sarandon and Jack Nicolson, Harry Potter is an awesome set of movies, and even though the books were way better, I still enjoyed the movies. The Craft is an interesting 90's take on witchcraft.

Witches on TV

Now we move into TV and my favourite all time TV show: Charmed. Three sisters who learn they are witches with magical powers and how they deal with deamons on a daily basis, this series also has books availiable but they came after the TV show. There is also a graphic novel collection that took off where the show ended after 8 successful seasons. Bewitched, now there was a classic TV show about witches, so funny and awesome at the same time. Sabrina the Teenage Witch based on the character from the Archie comics.

These are just some of my favourites featuring witches on the screen as well as in books.

A few of my favourite quotes:

"A Heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others." ~ The Wizard of Oz

"Once a King or Queen of Narnia, always a King or Queen of Narnia." ~ The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

"Stars hide your fires, let not light see your deep dark desires." ~ Macbeth

"Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light." ~ Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Song of the witches from Macbeth:

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and howlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

Elisa Hordon, reviewerElisa lives in the Southern Highlands of NSW, Australia where she spends her days reading, journaling, painting, cooking and homeschooling her daughter. She has always been an avid reader, Elisa loves reading many genres of books except horror; her favourite genres would be mystery, romance, and paranormal. Elisa also loves pursuing many creative outlets if she is not relaxing with a book she can be found writing, sketching, painting or cooking. Elisa loves to share her obsession with books especially with her family and friends. Reading and reviewing books is a favourite pastime of Elisa’s.

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September 28, 2016

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr - A Review

by Kathleen Barker

How do you choose a book to read?  Many of my friends laugh and tell me they simply pick up the next one in their "to-read" pile or list.  While some ask trusted friends for recommendations, many of us simply hit the "order" button when we read a post or a brilliant review.  While I have my own waiting stack, I recently chose a story because of the awards it had won and the nearly 25 thousand reviews on Amazon, which were overwhelmingly positive.  Indeed, many reviewers were rapturous.

The awards for Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See" are substantial:  2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, a finalist for the 2014 National Book Award, and a New York Times bestseller.  Despite all of these accolades, there are no guarantees that you will love it. And, let's face it, World War II stories can be weighty and depressing.  Can a story be both depressing and uplifting when it deals with the destruction of so many human beings?  In this case, I only wish that I had more than two thumbs to point upward.
Doerr's novel juxtaposes the story of a six-year-old French girl Marie-Laure who has gone blind with that of Wener, a German orphan with a near-genius understanding of science (particularly electrical engineering)).  For many chapters, we are not sure what one character has to do with the other as both lives are devastated by the Nazi war machine.  Marie-Laure's father is the curator of a museum, and he struggles to protect both his beloved daughter as well as a famous diamond known as the Sea of Flames from Hitler's destructive acquisition.  Werner is swallowed by the Hitler Youth organization as soon as he is old enough.  His genius is recognized and put to brutal use to seek out and destroy the source of broadcasts by the French Resistance.  

As the two characters move slowly to the point where their paths cross, Doerr's prose weaves a stunningly intricate tapestry of metaphor.  His poetic descriptions of feelings, thoughts and surroundings are a literary treasure.  Unlike many novels where we are carried on a juggernaut of action and plot to their inevitable conclusion, this is a story to read slowly - more than once, even - in order to savor its richness.  The author weaves the music of "Clair de Lune", Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and the myth of a priceless diamond whose owner will purportedly live forever as long as he possesses it.  The story exudes richness in the midst of war's devastation.

Read it.  Treasure it.  It will make you an instant fan of Anthony Doerr's extraordinary talent.

Buy All the Light We Cannot See at Amazon

Kathleen Barker, features writer. Kathleen was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. A graduate of Blessed Sacrament, the Institute of Notre Dame and Towson University, she spent twenty years as the much-traveled wife of a Navy pilot and has three children. While working for a Fortune 500 insurance company in New Orleans, she wrote feature and human interest articles for their magazine and received the Field Reporter of the Year award. After Hurricane Katrina, she returned to her beloved state of Maryland where she started work on "The Charm City Chronicles". All four volumes, "Ednor Scardens", "The Body War", "The Hurting Year", and "On Gabriel's Wings" are available in Amazon's Kindle store.

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September 27, 2016

Book Spotlight: Decoherence by Liana Brooks

cover Decoherence
The thrilling, time-bending conclusion to the Time & Shadow series!

Samantha Rose and Linsey MacKenzie have established an idyllic life of married bliss in Australia, away from the Commonwealth Bureau of Investigation, away from mysterious corpses, and—most of all—away from Dr. Emir’s multiverse machine.

But Sam is a detective at heart, and even on the other side of the world, she can’t help wonder if a series of unsolved killings she reads about are related—not just to each other, but to the only unsolved case of her short career.

She knows Jane Doe’s true name, but Sam never discovered who killed the woman found in an empty Alabama field in spring of 2069. She doesn’t even know which version of herself she buried under a plain headstone.

When Mac suddenly disappears, Sam realizes she is going to once more be caught up in a silent war she still doesn’t fully understand. Every step she takes to save Mac puts the world she knows at risk, and moves her one step closer to becoming the girl in the grave.

Another amazing science-fiction police procedural ~ Erin Penn

Nice finish to the series ~ Glinda Harrison

Start reading:

Buy Decoherence at Amazon

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Review: Hitwoman Under Pressure by JB Lynn

by Donna Huber

cover Hitwoman Under Pressure
You just know it's going to be a bad day when you can't get out of the loony bin.
My name is Maggie Lee, and while I admit there are times that I probably belong in a mental institution, this wasn't one of them. I'd come to visit my mother, to as her about a brother I'd never known existed and now I was trapped.

Wow! I can't believe this is book 15 in this series. I'm not sure I have stuck with a series this long since the Babysitters Club. But I can tell you I would probably read another 15 books. I love Maggie and the whole crazy crew (aka her family, friends, and pets).

While I may love to read another 15 books in the Hitwoman series, as I have said in my last few reviews I think it is coming to an end. Many of the mysteries we encountered in the first few books are being solved. More importantly though is the fact that Maggie is growing up. Yes, I know she has always been an adult, but she had some maturing to do and definitely needed to discover who she really is. I noticed it two or three books back, but in Hitwoman Under Pressure other characters are noticing and voicing it to Maggie. Hopefully, Maggie will believe it

We are used to Maggie being in danger, but this story line placed everyone in danger at some point it seemed like. Maggie is facing her deadliest mark in Redcoat.

I know a lot of people don't want to start a series that is 15 books in (that's why I've not read Game of Thrones or Poldark), but these books are quick reads. I can read them in a day, or at least two or three if I'm really busy. So don't let the number 15 be a stumbling block to joining this fun adventure.

Buy Hitwoman Under Pressure at Amazon

Donna Huber, founder & publisher. Donna is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

Book info:
available formats: ebook (230 pages)
published: June 2016
genres: cozy mystery
source: purchased

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September 26, 2016

Don't Look...Just Jump by Leslie Sinyard #MondayBlogs

cover Don't Look Just Jump
From small-town Louisiana, around the world, and back to Athens, Georgia, journey with Olive Hammons Weathersby and her beloved husband, A.B., a professor of entomology at the University of Georgia for over 20 years. The first civilian woman to parachute from a crashing military plane, Olive would go on to face many additional challenges, and like many members of the Greatest Generation, she would do so with grace and gratitude.

About the author:
Leslie Sinyard has lived in Athens, Georgia for 27 years and, like A.B. and Olive, is a tried and true Georgia Bulldog, having graduated from the University of Georgia in 1983 with a degree in International Business and Finance. She is married to Robert and has three adult children who are grateful to have considered Olive Weathersby their Athens grandmother.

Don't Look...Just Jump is Sinyard's debut book.

Start reading:

Buy Don't Look...Don't Jump at Amazon

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Review: Echoes of Family by Barbara Claypole White #MondayBlogs

by Susan Roberts

"You're never truly lost if someone cares enough to come find you. Lost is waiting to be found."

Echoes of Family by Barbara Claypole White
I have read all of Barbara Claypole White's novels and enjoyed them. But Echoes of Family is the first book that I've read in a long time that I wanted to start reading again as soon as I read the last page. Trust me - it's that fantastic.

Marianne, the main character, is manic depressive and is spiraling out of control.  She decides to return to England - where she grew up and where her past secrets are long buried. She feels that if she confronts her past, it may help her future. The first person she meets in the small town she grew up in is Gabriel, her first love. He is now the minister at the local church. She left her husband and daughter behind in North Carolina while she goes to face her demons. While in England, she creates chaos for Gabriel who thought that he wanted and needed to forget her. As her life spirals out of control, she tries to find answers in her past.

Marianne is a wonderful and flawed character. She is well aware of her limitations and her past suicide attempts and her illness. One of my favorite scenes with her was at the rectory in England when she was at the height of her mania. It is so well written, that I found myself reading faster and faster to keep up with her.

As in previous books Barbara Claypole White writes about mental illness in an open and direct manner. There is so much discrimination against people with mental illness. She succeeds in making her characters so real - trying our best to have a happy life.

This is a wonderful story of family and love. Life isn't about the family that you are born into. Life is about the family that you create.

Mark your calendars for the September 27 release of this fantastic book.

Buy Echoes of Family at Amazon

Susan Roberts, reviewer. Susan grew up in the Detroit area but after deciding that city life wasn't for her she moved to North Carolina after college. She and her husband have several acres of land and they enjoy gardening and canning vegetables in the summer. They travel extensively. Susan reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on Facebook or Twitter

Review of Echoes of Family
Book info: 
available formats: ebook, audiobook, and print (397 pages)
published: September 2016 
ISBN13: 9781503938137
genres: contemporary fiction, mental health
a free ebook was provided for this review

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September 25, 2016

Celebrate National Comic Book Day

It is National Comic Book Day, not to be confused with Free Comic Book Day, which was in May. Comics got their start in 1837 when Obadiah Oldbuck appeared in a series of drawing boxes with text. At the time it was really nothing more than an author's doodling, but it quickly found popularity in the United States and France. While Obadiah Oldbuck was a trip comic, the first comic book appeared in 1933 - Famous Funnies. National Comic Book Day was created to encourage people to try out this unique story-telling method as well as give life-long fans a chance to celebrate their favorite drawn stories.

Not sure what to pick up? Here are this month's top five new comic and graphic novel releases.

cover Ghosts

Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn't happy about leaving her friends for Bahía de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister's sake - and her own.

Buy Ghosts at Amazon

cover Trinity

“BETTER TOGETHER” part 1! Together again for the first time! Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. The core of the World's Greatest Heroes…but with a new Man of Steel, the bonds these three share will be tested and redefined by super-star writer/artist Francis Manapul. In this premiere issue, see the trio travel from Metropolis to Gotham City and beyond to learn what forces launched their heroic careers. But how will this journey of discovery lead them to a new threat?

Buy Trinity at Amazon

cover Injustice Gods Among Us

This is it: the final year of INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US, leading into the storyline of the hit videogame! Having defeated the Green Lantern Corps, the forces of magic, and now the gods themselves, the Superman's totalitarian regime seems to have eliminated all threats. Yet uneasy lies the crown on the head of the Man of Steel. Still obsessed with the outlaw Batman and worried about having enough troops to police his world, The Man of Steel begins to recruit some of Earth's deadliest villains to his side. Does the Dark Knight have any chance of ending the Man of Steel's rule?

Buy Injustice: Gods Amoung Us Year Five at Amazon

cover Civil War II 5

The devastating fallout from the first half of this event is enormous and being felt in every corner of the Marvel Universe. The truth about Ulysses' future-seeing power is revealed and it is a game changer. Sides are irrevocably drawn and the gauntlet is thrown for the biggest battle in Marvel Universe history. And that's just the stuff we can tell you. All this, and the story goes galactic!

Buy Civil War II #5 at Amazon

cover The Walking Dead vol 26

After being betrayed by members of his own community, Rick Grimes charts a new course and marshals his forces against the Whisperers.

Buy The Walking Dead vol. 26 at Amazon

What are you reading to celebrate National Comic Book Day?

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