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: Que Sera, Sera by Leitha Cholette


What a sweet book this is… Entirely unexpected, and entirely beautiful. The two stories within are jewels, glowing with truth both painful and lovely. This is real romance, in the manner of The Notebook, Just Like Heaven, and Steel Magnolias — memorable, recognizable, told simply with carefully chosen words. And the book itself is pretty, a small paperback that fits exactly in the hand, decorated with specially chosen graphics and a gorgeous cover. It’s a real treat of a book, this set of novellas in one volume, and I look forward to the next instalment by this wonderful storyteller. 

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Book Review: In Celebration of Elastic Waistbands, by Christee Gabour Atwood


I feel like Christee Gabour Atwood has been peeking into my life and taking notes. Honestly, there was so much I was able to appreciate and commiserate with in her tales, it felt like I was almost meeting my doppelgänger.

Once I got used to the style of the book — short, column-length chapters that were a comfortable length to read with tired eyes — I gobbled it up whenever I could. I really enjoyed her humour, her Erma Bombeck-esque take on life, career, home, and fur-babies. I am going to order a copy of this book for my mother, and probably get copies for some of my friends. This is the Rubber Chicken for the Soul. When I feel surrounded by perfect moms with hotel-clean houses and organized lives, this book is going to remind me that a) only a small proportion of North American women are like that, and b) most of them are on TV. Christee Gabour Atwood is welcome in my dog-hair, comfortably cluttered home, anytime. I may even have to frame some of her words of wisdom, immortalizing her proverbs in cross-stitch, because I honestly love them that much. Plus, cross-stitch is a great way to avoid mopping, folding laundry, dishes…

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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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Book Review: Caledonii — Birth of a Nation


I thought this was a very, very interesting read. What compels a collection of rival clans to band together? A common enemy, of course, but the road to unification is neither smooth nor quick. Ian Hall’s research into the little details of pre-Roman civilization in Great Britain is excellent, as is his depiction of political intrigue and the dangers present for neophytes engaging in negotiations and allegiances. I particularly enjoyed the the depiction of the druids (spelled “dhruids” in the book).

Since this is the first novella in a series, it sets up many questions, and an intriguing mystery. I will definitely continue reading the subsequent installments — I really want to know what happens next!

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Book Review: Plague Nation


I enjoyed this book on so many levels . . . It was so easy to visualize what’s going on, following the desperate journey of the wild cards to the next potential safe spot, knowing that it’s all building to an epic climax in Plague World . . . I loved the gallows humour, so necessary in the world that Dana Fredsti has created, and indeed, in our world, too. Watching her protagonist, Ashley, learn to cope with the reality of her situation, and the clock ticking down on it, was absolutely riveting. And then the sinister back-story revealing itself — the machinations of the zombie outbreak — it’s maddening not having the answers laid out in front of me, guaranteeing that I will be getting a copy of Plague World at the earliest opportunity.

Fredsti’s love for the zombie genre in film and text is definitely clear in this book, as well as her love for San Francisco. I loved the details of her heroes’ physical journey, and as much as my heart ached for Ashley and the punishment she was going through (it’s really remarkable how many obstacles Dana can come up with, short of an earthquake sinking the whole place into the Bay), she struck the right balance with references to key moments and quotes in many of the films and books I love. I found myself snorting aloud, even when reading in public places. It’s both funny and poignant.

If you are a fan of the zombie genre — if you love reading about shambling, rotting, moaning, undead flesh-craving killers — this book is 100% for you.

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Book Review: Hearts in Exile


There is so very, very much to love about this book. Mysti Parker has outdone herself with this tale of love lost and found again, tragedy and courage, hope and ruin. The characters are beautifully written, and I fell right into the setting. It was difficult to pull myself out of Tallenmere and go to work; I wanted to devour this book whole in a single reading. There are echoes of Tolkien, The Princess Bride, and “The Tempest” in this work. It is a romance / fantasy of the highest calibre. While I enjoyed A Ranger’s Tale and Serenya’s Song, by a narrow margin Hearts in Exile is my favourite of Parker’s novels so far. I await No Place Like Home next year with much anticipation.

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