Book Review: Through the Door (The Thin Veil #1) by Jodi McIsaac



I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first started reading this wonderful book. I was delighted that it had a Canadian setting (personal bias!), and I enjoyed the prose and the imagery.

And then it got into the magic, the Tuatha de Dannan, and I was hooked into the adventure. Moreover, an adventure undertaken by a mother, a woman with responsibilities and purpose. Loved that. Plus, magic!

This novel is a gift. It’s truly remarkable, bringing readers on a slow burn up one side of a mountain and then over a rainbow. I loved the unexpected plot twists — some of which I saw coming, and was not disappointed, and others that came out of nowhere and were equally delightful — and wished there was more time given to get to know the cast of characters beyond the major players. I felt a lot of connection between this tale and the world of Lost Girl (Showcase), as well, and one of my favourite movies, Willow.

I’ll be adding the next books to my Kindle at the next opening in my credit card.

Book Review: A Time for Everything, by Mysti Parker

I’m reading again! Not that I ever really stopped, but the last year or two I’ve really struggled to pick up actual novels and lose myself in them. Lots of reasons why that could be. But since I’ve been going to the gym regularly (save those two weeks with the flu in my system), I’ve started up on some long-awaited books while on the elliptical. Didn’t get very far with the print, because I couldn’t keep the damned thing open, but I’ve been carrying A Time for Everything around with me for weeks in order to continue with the story. That meant going into another book on my Kindle, which is a little easier to prop up since it’s in my iPhone, so a review of that one will come along when I finish it.

But on to this review . . .


I received an autographed copy of this moving, well-written romance novel from the author in the late summer, and it’s bothered me a lot that it’s taken me so long to get to it. Heck, I feel guilty about ALL the books I’ve been collecting and putting off reading. So it was great to just dive into it last night and read it through today — more than great, highly satisfying. Here’s what I’ve posted on Goodreads as my collection of thoughts on the book:

Once again, Mysti Parker has spun a tale that I simply could not put down. The details speak to her thorough research of the American Civil War and Reconstruction years in the South, and characters are complex, very human individuals. It puts me in mind of Gone With the Wind not only for the setting, but for the tangled situations the strong-willed, damaged characters Portia, Beau, Harry, Jonny, etc. are experiencing. Parker writes with clarity and heart, refusing to shy away from the relative harshness of life as experienced by war survivors and freed slaves in the mid-19th century for the sake of the romance. The fact that there are characters representing nearly all perspectives and elements of the 1860s Southern economy — negative and positive — again reveals the careful thought and reflection put into this book. Coupled with a well-developed plot that brought tears to my eyes as often as it made me laugh or shout in triumph on behalf of the protagonists, A Time for Everything is a highly satisfying read.

When I was a teenager, I was privileged to be able to visit Gettysburg as part of a field trip put together by my school’s History and Humanities department — I think it was actually built into the American History course I was taking at the time. I’d been fascinated by the American Civil War ever since picking up my copy of GWTW while on a visit to my grandmother Helen. It was an entirely different world, almost alien to my experiences at the time and even now, and yet there are still so many ways that we in the present can connect with the events and trials of the past. Antebellum, conflict, and Reconstruction — all left a mark on our neighbours to the south that continues to affect them today. I think we can understand much of American culture through well-researched, focused fiction like A Time for Everything as much as through studying primary source documents. And indeed, we should, because historical fiction represents the struggle of modern minds to understand the people past, place them and their decisions in context, and apply the learnings to the present and the future.

And now, I’m going to issue a challenge to you, Mysti Parker! Would you be able to apply your skills of interpretation and research to the American Revolution to craft another novel such as this?

The first review of Crystal and Wand is in! 

And I couldn’t be more pleased. 

From Pure Jonel, on Goodreads: 

Ridgewood returns to her Talbot Trilogy with the same flash and flair that we’ve come to know from the series. Her action packed and larger than life scenes came to life before my eyes. The intricate narrative creates a unique and one of a kind feel while the plot kept me on my toes. At the same time, Ridgewood does a fantastic job of jogging your memory with respect to past events, but never rehashing past novels.

I loved coming back to these characters that I`m getting to know so well. I love some and have a love/hate relationship with others. The unique dynamics combined with everyone’s one of a kind, in your face personalities creates a cast that readers won’t soon forget.

This exciting conclusion to Ridgewood’s trilogy definitely kept me hooked. I love how she wrapped everything up nicely, without presenting readers with a pretty little bow. The sense of continuity was great. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this work in exchange for an honest review.

Thank you so, so much for the positive feedback, Jonel! I sincerely appreciate it, and I’m extremely happy you enjoyed my book. 

You can find out what all the fuss is for by visiting my publisher, Melange Books, or finding the Talbot Trilogy on Amazon, in Chapters, B&N, Smashwords, or Lulu. 


Book Review: Plundering the Romance Novel by Ionia Martin


Ah, spoofs. The comic genre that is the parody is as critical as it is funny, turning a lens on the stuff that we tend to take just way too seriously. I heartily enjoy over-the-top, “Surely you can’t be serious?” “I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.”, eye-rolling, face-palming, targeted comedies that sharply identify the tropes of a story type and go to town on them. 

Oh, yeah. Mama likey. 

So when I started reading Ionia Martin’s quick nosh on romance novel tropes, by page two my son was looking at me and asking what the hell I was laughing so hard about. And again, about ten minutes later. And again, five minutes after that. Have you ever tried explaining a trope, romance-related or not, out of context? And why you’re laughing so loudly that the neighbours are about to start complaining? I was having such a great time, I started live-tweeting the sections that made me hoot.

Ionia has the romance genre right on the mark. It’s like watching The Jewel of the Nile on helium — well, that opening scene, anyway. 

It’s a quick read, a good length for satire, and it’s terrific. I wish I could write a parody review for it, but I’m not sure I have the talent for that as much as Ionia Martin does, though I may have to try it tomorrow! I particularly love the meta-ness of the narrative — how Captain VD (heh heh) of the Fuzzy Beaver (snort) can appeal for do-overs from the Almighty Author, his reactions to a heroine who isn’t averse to having her bodice ripped and her body ravished, and the working over of basically everything we’ve come to expect from a period romance novel. I just love it.

Here, Ionia. In honour of Plundering the Romance Novel‘s excellence, I award you a second Fuzzy Beaver (and an Alan Thicke), because as we all know, two beavers are better than one. Thanks for the laughs — I’m definitely looking forward to your next one!


Book Review: Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies, by Victoria Dunn


First, a little backstory: I’m wandering through Ottawa ComicCon and I see a booth with a) zombie fic, b) a free offer to zombify one’s face, and c) crocheted Doctor Who dolls. So of course I have to stop and chat! The team at the booth, including the authors who are the combined authoring awesomeness of Victoria Dunn, were very sweet and genuine, and although I didn’t buy the book right away (partly due to a raging con headache) I eventuallly returned to the booth the next day to not only get zombified on a pin (I now carry it on my purse)  


and buy the 1st Doctor in crocheted glory,  


but also pick up an autographed (and personalized) copy of the book for myself.  


Such the power of the personal touch at a convention, folks — reach out and you will get a response!

It did take me a while to get to reading the book, though, between one thing and another. But a week or two ago, I decided to make Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies my first summer read, and I’m so very glad I did. Especially before my daughter decided to use my copy as a hard surface for drawing with sharpies . . . grrr. I like my books pristine, people!!!!

Dunn’s comedic take on the zombie genre is snarky, self-reflective, delicious fun. The characters are original — I adored Alice, the former telephone psychic in charge of assisting and protecting the tall and handsome paranormal-investigator-with-magical/biological-enhancements, Welly. They work for Odyssey International, a secret organization that combines the magic of Harry Potter with Time Lord technology and the devices of the CIA/FBI/NSA/Hammas to detect risks to humanity and restore or maintain the balance. Alice is still trying to work out her place in the organization, and her relationship with her partner, and her flashbacks and recollections of her recruitment (something about being rescued from certain death at Niagara Falls and signing her life away) and her early days in Odyssey are so funny, I definitely need to know more about her backstory. (Ahem another book please, soon, Ms. Dunn?)

But Alice and Welly aren’t the only characters that make this story such a delightful romp: Ken, the pro-zombie head of Odyssey’s mailroom, stalwartly defends his friend Dave (his heterosexual life partner and nose-enhanced zombie) as a help in investigating zombie outbreaks. Sadly, Dave doesn’t always prove to be as helpful as Ken would hope . . . And then, rounding off the group charged with halting a zombie outbreak at the World Bog Snorkelling Championships in Wales is the expert in magical science, Mick. I ❤ Mick. Mick is awesome. Mick is outrageous. Mick loves excitement and intrigue, fashion and fame . . . I seriously need a Mick action figure. He needs a music video. He’s that amazing.

Oh — they’ve got one! Well, strictly speaking, Victoria Dunn has a book trailer, but it is PERFECT for this book. In fact, I am jealous of it in all ways. Take a look!

And look at their website, too! It’s AWESOME!

Honestly, I love the whole concept of turning a book into a more interactive experience like this. And the way they’ve done it completely suits the genre and story of this novel.

But back to the story specifically — again, it’s original and it’s fun. If you’re a fan of Chuck (Zachary Levi, Yvonne Strahovski, that Baldwin guy), or the Evil Dead series (more <3s for Bruce Campbell!), then this book is definitely one that you need to add to your reading list today. I devoured it in four hours, honestly. Dunn has a terrific talent for throwing wrenches into what should have been a fairly standard mission. There are plot twists and turns that had me thoroughly engaged over and over again.

Refreshing and witty, this novel has fantastic comic timing and I highly recommend it.

Book Review: Blood and Fire (The Talbot Trilogy) by Tori L. Ridgewood

Book Review: Blood and Fire (The Talbot Trilogy) by Tori L. Ridgewood.

Absolutely blown away by this wonderful review… completely made my day. 😀

Book Review: Disappeared, by Jenny Twist


I started reading this while at the hairdresser’s, and as soon as I got home, I had to finish it right away. It is really well done — shades of the “Twilight Zone”, “Fright Night”, and Frankenstein, a chilling mystery that put me in mind of “The Woman in Black” as well. If I am ever fortunate enough to visit the mountains of Spain, this is what I will think of. It would be amazing to see this story put into film. I loved the unconventional vampire, the village, and the characters’ quest to find the truth of what happened to June (Mantequero, Book 1) — absolutely intriguing. I don’t want to say any more for risk of spoilers, but I highly recommend Disappeared as an enjoyable, creepy-romantic read.

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Book Review: Cinderella’s Secret Diary (Book 1: Lost)

I wasn’t sure what I expected when I started this book last night — perhaps some light reading, or humour. Instead, I discovered a powerful reflection on the power of love, betrayal, hope, fear, innocence lost, and magic. I enjoyed the language, though it felt stilted at times, and I was absolutely captivated by the twists in the plot. I will definitely recommend Cinderella’s Secret Diary to my friends. Ron Vitale has written a moving and honest examination of a woman’s heart and power.


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Book Review: Lightpoints


After a near-death experience, you find yourself suddenly able to sense the energies of other people around you. Not only that but you’re able to manipulate it, draining and giving energy at will. What do you do with this power?

Peter Kassan explores this idea with a great deal of insight and detail in Lightpoints. He draws on different religious and cultural perspectives to explore and explain the “special sauce”, how it affects relationships, and how it can be a corruptive influence on those without conscience.

I liked reading this. I found it had a very formal style in both narrative and dialogue that occasionally had me feeling as though I were reading an essay. I liked it when the terminology about the psychic ability changed as different perspectives and experiences were brought in — new vocabulary relieved the repetitiveness of certain terms. It’s a slow boil, quietly ominous, the plot points disturbing and menacing even with the moments of brightness when the focus was on Amanda — the sense of foreboding created by Kassan overshadowed even that clarity found by the protagonist. The final confrontation between good and evil was incredible, but it was over too quickly. I would have liked to have seen, somehow, an effort by different groups of sensitives to connect, somehow. Like the prayer group making an impact on the psychiatric patients through their collective good intentions…if that phenomenon was in the news, it would have been excellent to see Amanda and Lisa and their friends journey to visit and share their knowledge with them. But maybe that’s part of the point — that the faculty of sensitive awareness is too dangerous when in the wrong hands, in a large group of people.

Even though this is fiction, it reads realistically. It’s believable, both in character development and plot. I could see the visuals clearly, and I was disappointed when it ended.

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