Thursday, 30 October 2014

Feature and Follow

Question of the Week: What books would you give to newbies in your favorite genre? (Ex. I’m a newbie to high fantasy and EVERYONE said to ease into it with the Throne of Glass series!

My answer: My favorite genre is chick lit. I would give newbies the book that launched the entire chick lit genre which is Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding.

The featured blog this week is A Thousand Words, A Million Books.

The Rules of Feature & Follow Friday:
To join the fun and make new book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:
  1. (Required) Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts {Parajunkee & Alison Can Read}
  2. (Required) Follow our Featured Bloggers
  3. Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say "hi" in your comments and that they are now following you.
  5. If you are using WordPress or another CMS that doesn't have GFC (Google Friends Connect) state in your posts how you would like to be followed
  6. Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "HI"
  7. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love...and the followers
  8. If you're new to the Follow Friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!
My favorite way to follow is through Bloglovin and now Feature and Follow Friday has graphics to let your readers know. Feel free to follow any way that you want (I'll take all the follows I can get) but I do favor Bloglovin. 

Santa's Little Helper by H. D. Gordon

I was thrilled to receive an advance copy of this ebook for two reasons. It was right before Halloween and it was the first time I had ever gotten an advance copy of a book to review. I have a confession to make though. When I read the book I didn't start with an entirely open mind. I thought the title was a little cheesy and the book would be too.

I was wrong. Very wrong actually.

Here is the book description:

He shows up in a white box, with a bright red book under his arm... He wears a jolly grin and hat, a suit with gold bells and green yarn... He watches you for Santa, or so his red book claims... But though his grin is jolly, he's not here for fun and games... 

The children have been chosen, such precious little souls they are... And may the Gods be with them, if they wish to make it very far... For Santa's Little Helper does not say, but knows important things... He knows when you've been bad or good, and what monsters stalk your dreams... He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you're awake...He's picking out his presents...He's got some souls to take.

H. D. Gordon explained that the idea for Santa's Little Helper from Elf on the Shelf. So when I started the book, I was expecting the elf doll to stay a doll. Santa's Little Helper is far more sophisticated and versatile than that. He has powers like shapeshifting. He also has a true form that is scary as hell.

The story follows how the elf chooses four children and their families. The elf doesn't just attack but behaves like a mental and emotional terrorist in a cat and mouse game. The children that he chooses have a complex family life that sometimes works in their favor and sometimes works in favor of the elf.

While the elf's target is the children, five year olds cannot fight evil by themselves. The children confide in their teacher, their siblings, and their parents in an effort to get help to fight Santa's Little Helper. This is a horror story but it is also about the bonds of family and how the love and sacrifice of parents is often what saves the lives of children. Emphasis on the word sacrifice.

Of the four families, the story about the daughter and her mother dealing with an alcoholic abusive husband and father was my favorite. While all the stories dealt with complex human emotions, this one dealt with what happens when human beings become the monster. At times it was hard to know who was scarier, the killer elf or the abusive man.

Gordon also manages to weaves in philosophical issues such as the moral issue of lying to kids about Santa Claus, what evil is, the nature of God and the Devil, and the significance of losing your childhood innocence.

Simply put, this story is not just about a killer elf doll. It is about many other things as well. Still I'm glad to have read it now before December when I get out the Elf on the Shelf doll. As creepy as this book was, I still will be an Elf on the Shelf mom.

Speaking of Elf on the Shelf, I do worry a bit that H. D. Gordon might run into some copyright issues with this book. In the novel, there is a book that tells a similar background story for the elf doll. At one point Gordon describes the elf doll as being on a shelf. I certainly hope Gordon never has any problems with this.

Lastly, as I read this book I couldn't help but think it would make a really great horror movie. My rating is Photobucket

The book goes on sale at Amazon on Halloween. I was given an advance copy of the book for an honest review. No other compensation was recieved.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

My Reading Goals for the Wonderfully Wicked and Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thons

There are two upcoming read-a-thons that conviently overlap. I will be tweeting throughout these read-a-thons so please follow me @magicbookreview to see my progress!

The first is the Wonderfully Wicked Read-a-thon which is hosted by My Shelf Confessions. This is a low pressure read-a-thon with no book reqirements. It last's from October 17-27. You can sign up anytime here anytime before Oct 25 and still participate. Reading starts tonight at midnight! Use the hashtag #wwreadathon on social media.

My Reading Goals for the Wonderfully Wicked Read-a-thon:

Read at least three books.
Book 1: Read the advanced copy I received of Santa's Little Helper by H.D. Gordon.
Book 2: Read a Stephen King book. (I haven't yet decided which one.)
Book 3: Read a book that is part of a reading challenge I have signed up for.

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon is great fun but the opposite of low pressure because you only have one full day to reach your reading goals! There are mini-challenges and prizes throughout the challenge. The read-a-thon is on October 18 but the start times are not simply midnight to midnight. Sign up for the read-a-thon here. If you don't want to participate as a reader but want to support those who have there is also a cheerleader sign up. Hashtags include #Readathon #Dewey #MiniChallenge #RahRahReadathon1

My Reading Goals for Dewey's Read-a-thon:

1. Finish reading Santa's Little Helper by H.D. Gordon if I haven't already done so.
2. Read several short stories.
3. When I've finished Santa's Little Helper, read the Stephen King book.

On top of doing these read-a-thons, I'm also trying to prepare for NaNoWriMo so I'm not putting too much pressure on myself but I think reading is a great way to get in the mindset for writing a novel, so it's really a win-win.

There's another read-a-thon! I just discovered the Reading Cram 2.0: Chills and Thrills Readathon! This read-a-thon is Oct 24 - 31. I think since I will be partway through the Wonderfully Wicked Read-a-thon I'll see where I'm at and choose my reading goals then.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Wow. Just wow. This novel blew my mind. I started reading it on Monday and I finished reading it about 5 am on Tuesday. The last book I read that fast (and also in two sittings) was the final Harry Potter.

I don't normally read mystery or thrillers so this was a new experience for me in that aspect as well. I get it now. I understand why whodunits are so much fun. It's great fun trying to peice together the clues. I will definately be reading a lot more books in this genre.

The problem is since I don't read mystery or thrillers I don't quite know how to review them either, so bear with me here. I assure you I will not give away any spoilers.

Book Description
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

This novel was about so much more than just Amy's disappearance. This story is about the world's most messed up married couple. Whatever dysfunctional married couple you can think of, this couple will make them look like Mike and Carol Brady.

What I liked about the story is that it was told from two different points of view; that of Nick and that of Amy. It was fascinating to read about how both of them viewed their marriage and the events in their life.

What I truly did not expect was for this story to explore rather deeply misogyny and even though the word is never actuall used, misandry. I was facsinated as to how both Nick and Amy dealt with sexism and the hatred of the opposite sex. This story takes everything that is commonly assumed about domestic abuse and turns it on it's head. The book sincerely explores the idea of the male as the victim in abusive relationships, stalking, and even rape accusation.

It's hard to discuss what happens in Gone Girl without discussing radical feminism and how it has had an impact on marriage, what's expected of women in marriage and relationships, and how they should react when they are angry about it. I consider myself a moderate feminist who rejects radical feminism and as well as the misandry within feminist extremist views, so for me this book was an honest look at those issues. Whether or not Flynn intentionally criticized radical feminism, I don't know, however, I think this book puts the spotlight on real issues in the men's rights movement.

Don't get me wrong. The book is not preachy in any shape or form. Instead it is an action packed highly paced mystery where you aren't sure who the villian really is. However, I didn't like that you learned who it was halfway through the book. I really wish Flynn had kept it secret just a little bit longer.

While the first half of the book is a whodunit, the second half of the book is catching whodunit. I must say that every time the villian got away with something, I felt infuriated. I have never hated a character as much as I did in this book. Hate is not a strong enough word. Despise? All I know is I wanted the villian to be ripped apart from limb to limb. I've never seen a character that was so truly a sociopath through and through. (This makes it qualify for the Suicide and Mental Illness Theme Read.)

This is why I can't wait to see the movie. Ben Afleck is a perfect choice for the role of Nick. As I read Gone Girl, I couuld easily imagine Afleck saying every single line. I heard the movie has a different ending. To be honest, I didn't like the way the novel version of Gone Girl ended so I'm hoping the movie version ends the way I think it should have ended.

Despite the ending, Gone Girl was a wild ride from beginning to end that got me so into it I decided to pretty much stop whatever was going on in my life just so I could read the book. It gets a rare Photobucket

Saturday, 4 October 2014

The Appeal of Evil (The Road to Salvation Book 1) by Pembroke Sinclair

Book Description from
Katie wants to invest her heart and soul in love, but she may lose both to Hell. Katie, a senior in high school, is torn between loving the “good” guy, her childhood friend Wes who makes promises he doesn't keep and abandons her when she needs him the most, and the “bad” guy, the new kid at school Josh who is also a real demon from Hell. Katie wants someone who pays attention to her and puts her first, but what is she willing to give up to find him? 

This YA book is a love triangle with one hell of a twist. Literally. 

Katie finds herself torn between two boys. The first is the boy she has been in love with since kindergarten. Unfortunately Wes has never treated her the way that a girl wants to be treated. All Katie longs for is true love, devotion, and a real relationship. Wes leads her on just enough to keep her hooked but never quite delivers.

When Katie meets Josh, the hottest boy in school, it appears as if all her dreams are about to come true. It turns out some of these dreams are something out of a nightmare because Josh is in fact, a demon from Hell. However, he always seems to be there for Katie when Wes fails.

To make matters even more complicated, Katie discovers that Wes is a Praesul, which is an ancient order of demon fighters. Katie finds herself not only trapped between bids for her heart, but smack in the middle of the war between good and evil that has gone on since the beginning of time.

Josh's pursuit of Katie is nothing short of relentless. He is, to put it bluntly, a controlling stalker. What I really liked about this novel is that even though Josh is a demon, he behaves the way any psychopathic stalker and abuser would behave. I think the book is a great lesson for young women on behaviors to look out for in guys that do not have their best interests as heart.

What I also liked about the story was that even though Wes is supposed to be on the good side, his behavior is sometimes questionable. Even though his heart is in the right place, he tends to make decisions over and over that hurt Katie. These behaviors sometimes seem no less manipulative than those of Josh.

This means the book is constantly asking the question, what is good and evil? Penbroke Sincliar does an amazing job of blurring these lines. She asks is a demon capable of love? Any stalker will tell you what he does in pursuit of his obeject of desire is because he loves her so much. Katie can't help but wonder does Josh just do what he does because cares about her so much? If it's because of that, how can it be so wrong?

However, like any situation with an emotionally controlling stalker you know things are going to eventually go bad. Sinclair does a great job of building up the tension in the love traingle. Sinclair doesn't skimp on the action either. I have often read YA books where the author is afraid to actually have anyone get hurt or physically fight. Wes and Josh not only use their minds to fight for Katie, they also use their fists. 

I do have a few complaints about the book. The first is that Katie's thoughts about the boys repeat themselves over and over. Sinclair does a great job of letting us into the mind of Katie, but at times she goes into streams of consciousness that are overwhelming and repetitive.

My second complaint is that Sinclair started what would have been a fascinating subplot of Katie's best friend having a Preasul in her family, but then never follows through on it. The plot thread is left dangling.

Hopefully Sinclair will go back to this story thread in the next book in the series. The way the book ended lets you know the next in the series will take you even deeper into this world of good versus evil and Katie is right in the middle of it. 

Unfortunately Book 2 hasn't been released yet. I guess I'll just have to wait to find out what happens next. Sinclair says she is currently working on the sequel.

My rating: Photobucket

Penbroke Sinclair has a website and also can be found on Twitter and Facebook. Her book can be purchased here.

I was given a copy of the book for an honest review. No other compensation was received.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Guest Blogger: He Knows When You Are Sleeping...

Let’s be honest, the whole idea of that Elf on the Shelf is just creepy. My friend sent me one for my daughters a year ago, but I remember the moment I received it as if it were yesterday.

I was cutting open the box the thing came in, when my phone rang. It was my friend; the one who’d sent the box.

“Did you get it?” she asked, upon my answering.

“Um, yeah, I got it.” I said, pulling the book and the elf doll out of the box. “It’s…cute,” I lied.

My friend laughed. “Read the book to the girls. It tells the story of how the elf was sent there by Santa, to watch over them until Christmas,” she said. “I’ve heard so many parents say that it really gives incentive for kids to behave, because you’re supposed to wait until the kids are asleep, and then sneak into the room and move the elf to a different spot in the house, that way the girls will think it’s flying back to the North Pole every night to report to Santa.” She paused. “Cute, right?”

My lips curled involuntarily as I took in the wide grin on the elf’s plastic face. “Adorable,” I said.

“It’s really popular with children,” she continued. “I think the girls will like it.”

I think I would have buried this thing in the backyard were it given to me as a child, I thought.

“I’m sure they will,” I said.

This answer pleased my friend. My daughters, however–apples from my own tree that they are–were not pleased. We ended up throwing the elf doll away, at my daughters’ adamant request. I didn’t tell my friend this.

Being that I am a writer, with a healthy interest in the macabre, naturally, a story was born of this little episode. That story is called SANTA’S LITTLE HELPER, and it is scheduled to be released on amazon on 10/31/14, but you can pre-order it now for $2.99.

So, if you were one of those children who kept your limbs carefully tucked in, so as not to dangle over the edge of the bed, where any number of unimaginable creatures could take hold, and yank you into the darkness, this book is for you. All those terrors your imagination coughed up as you laid swallowed in shadows, are between the pages.

But, be warned, you might end up throwing out your child’s precious Elf on the Shelf by the end of SANTA’S LITTLE HELPER.

And if you’d like to read a sneak peak of Santa’s Little Helper, you can visit, and go to my blog page to download the first four chapters.

Thank you so much to Julie for allowing me to post on her amazing blog. It’s people like her that truly make my world go ‘round.

Happy Halloween, everyone!
H. D. Gordon

H. D. Gordon is the bestselling author of THE ALEXA MONTGOMERY SAGA, THE JOE KNOWE SERIES, and THE SURAH STORMSONG NOVELS. She is lifelong reader and writer, a true lover of words. When she is not reading and writing, she is busy raising her two daughters and keeping the world’s zombie population under control.