Medieval Mystery Released Today! CORRECTION AUG 1, 2017

The Devil's Cup
A Hawkenlye Mystery #17
by Alys Clare
Available in hardcover, 240 pages
Pub April 28, 2017, Severn House Publishers
Other formats available Aug 1, 2017

GoodReads Summary:  
September, 1216. A foreign army has invaded England. The country is divided. Some support the rebel barons and Prince Louis of France; others remain loyal to the king. His rule under threat, King John summons Sir Josse d'Acquin to support him. But can Sir Josse save the king from himself?

Meanwhile, Josse's daughter Meggie is summoned to Hawkenlye Abbey to attend a sick patient in a very distressed state. The elderly woman is warning of terrible danger unless she can complete her mission. What she learns from her patient will set Meggie on a perilous journey to retrieve a cursed treasure. But will she be in time to prevent a tragedy?


Disclaimer:
I was provided an eARC by Severn House Publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, for which I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My first responseBook 17 is really late to stumble into a series, but oh well! That didn't hinder me much. I only noticed it once or twice in some asides from the past, I think. This put me in mind of Ellis Peters' Cadfael series a bit with the abby and the war with kings running around the country fighting. Full review on my blog after the 20th!

My Review:  
This is not the same war as Cadfael was involved in. This is King John fighting off the French and dealing with the barons and Welsh. It is a rich and bloody part of British history when you could die at the stroke of a sword with one word from any man in power greater than yours. All anyone had to do was question your past or current loyalty. And King John didn't trust the men around him, so he was always suspicious of everyone. It is a scary setting in which to place a magic cup that is supposed to kill the king.

Alys Clare has integrated her plot into real history very well, though. She has used the natural mistrust and skepticism of people to work in her magic cup and its evil. She creates quite a believable story line with her relic and queen's plotting. Though I'm not sure if the source of the original treasure was brilliant or overdone. I'm still undecided about that.
Things have changed on the political stage, as well as at home around the abbey. The conflict is settling. King John is dead. A successor and regent is chosen. Josse has said that he is staying home from now on. Does this mean the end of the series with this book seventeen? It rather looks like it. But if you, like me, have just found this author and series, there are sixteen other books that came before just sitting on the shelf waiting to be read. I'm rather looking forward to going back to see how it all started.

Here are the covers of the first five books 
of the Hawkenlye Mysteries series.
  

 


Life is difficult for a zombie...

Other Than
Mia Jo Celeste (GoodReads Author)
Kindle edition, 309 pages,
Pub Jan 27, 2017, The Wild Rose Press, Inc.

GoodReads Summary:  
It only takes one drink from the Water of Immortality to kill Evie Woods—halfway. Trapped in undead flesh, the world’s last skin-slider wakens on an island purgatory where a cursed spring bubbles with immortality, and zombie cannibals crave living flesh. Her only hope of escape rests in the hands of the one man who would see her fail. Lord Victor Lowell, the man of her dreams and darkest nightmares. Contrary and intractable, Victor preys on others to maintain his angelic charisma and preternatural prowess.

Trapped in an ever escalating war they can’t stop, Victor and Evie fight time for a cure, but as the long days pass, blackness tears at Evie, ripping her thoughts from her one memory at a time. Victor will do whatever it takes to prevent her from deteriorating into a rotting husk, even if it means dooming himself, but Evie won’t surrender his soul without a fight.


Disclaimer:  The author provided me with an eARC of Other Than in exchange for an honest review, for which I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review:  
I have never read a zombie novel before this, so it was all a new experience for me. It was interesting. And for a debut novel, amazing. The characters were fully involved. There was no standing around looking scary. Every single character had a function, a purpose.

Lowell Island is a dangerous place. It's run by a really scary lady, Lady Lowell. She has only one aim in life, and that's to ensure the survival of her son any way she can. Her son, Victor, is in love with Evie. Evie isn't exactly alive, as in human. She's a skin-slider. In her own form she has gray skin, silver eyes, and is bald. She is the last of her kind. She has to almost die and lose her sense of reality to come out on the other side of all the violence and evil to be able to choose Victor and save them both.

Ms. Celeste creates very graphic scenes on the ship to the island and on the island. She shows you the mindless violence and how difficult it is for a zombie to stay alive among others. She shows their symbiotic relationships very well. Their need to feed to keep their humanity.

If zombies are your thing, give this one a try. I'm sure we'll be hearing more from this author in the future. Whether it's zombies or something else, it will be solidly written with a good plot and a lot of imagination.

A Debut Book That is a Little of a Lot

A Girl Walks Into A Book:
What the Brontes Have Taught Me About Life, Love, and Women's Work
by Miranda K. Pennington

ebook edition, 320 pages, May 16, 2017, Seal Press

Also available in paperback

GoodReads Summary:  

How many times have you heard readers argue about which is better, Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights? The works of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne continue to provoke passionate fandom over a century after their deaths. Brontë enthusiasts, as well as those of us who never made it further than those oft-cited classics, will devour Miranda Pennington's delightful literary memoir.
Pennington, today a writer and teacher in New York, was a precocious reader. Her father gave her Jane Eyre at the age of 10, sparking what would become a lifelong devotion and multiple re-readings. She began to delve into the work and lives of the Brontës, finding that the sisters were at times her lifeline, her sounding board, even her closest friends. In this charming, offbeat memoir, Pennington traces the development of the Brontës as women, as sisters, and as writers, as she recounts her own struggles to fit in as a bookish, introverted, bisexual woman. In the Brontës and their characters, Pennington finally finds the heroines she needs, and she becomes obsessed with their wisdom, courage, and fearlessness. Her obsession makes for an entirely absorbing and unique read.
A Girl Walks Into a Book is a candid and emotional love affair that braids criticism, biography, and literature into a quest that helps us understand the place of literature in our lives; how it affects and inspires us.

Disclaimer:  
The eARC of A Girl Walks Into A Book was provided by Seal Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, for which I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My first responseA madcap whirl of images swirling around in my head of Jane and her dearest Edward, then the author comes on very heavily about the Bronte sisters' brother and his alcoholism and drug use and her own alcohol problems. Here is where she really draws the parallels between the books and her life. This is one heck of a debut book. Full review on my blog after April 20th...

My Review:  
This is a debut book. It is a memoir. A literary critique of all the works by the Brontes. A self-help guide of how to use the works of the Brontes in your life. How can one book be all these things you say? When the author has a masters degree in creative nonfiction, I think. 

Ms. Pennington uses the writings of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Bronte to relate her own life experiences as well as to relate the lives of the Brontes. At the same time, she uses the characters as role models in her life. For instance, she uses Jane Eyre as her role model in a relationship at one point in her life. The way Jane acted in her relationship with Mr. Rochester at the discovery of his mad wife in the attic. Ms. Pennington left a relationship in a similar way using Jane as her role model.

The details of the lives of the three sisters and their brother have been meticulously researched by this Bronte aficionado. And she shares much of her research with us in her book. She has been a fan of Charlotte Bronte since she was 10 and received her first copy of Jane Eyre. Since then, she has made a thorough study of the lives and works of the three sisters and their brother, gaining access to resources not readily accessible to most readers. She shares their lives and works and her own life as well with us as she twines them all into a whole that amazes. She draws parallels between her modern life with writings and lives from a century ago. She makes you see the writings in a fresh light. She certainly made me want to read Jane Eyre again. As well as some of the other works I wasn't as familiar with. 

I can't recommend this book to you strongly enough. If you like memoirs, this will interest you. If you're a Bronte fan, this with enthrall you. If you're just looking for something off the beaten path, this is it. I do hope we see more from this author in time. Release date is May 16, 2017.


Have you heard of the Lady Claire Curse?

The Bad Luck Bride
The Cavensham Heiresses #1
by Janna McGregor (GoodReads Author)
Kindle edition, 368 pages, May 2, 2017, St. Martin's Paperbacks
Also available in paperback

GoodReads Summary:  
No one is left breathless at the imperious pronouncement of her engagement to Lord Pembrooke more than Claire. She hardly knows the dangerously outrageous man! But after three engagements gone awry and a fourth going up in glorious flames, she isn’t in a position to refuse...especially once she realizes that Lord Pembrooke makes her want to believe she’s not a bad luck bride anymore...

Alexander requires the hand of his enemy’s fiancée in marriage in order to complete his plans for revenge. It’s his good fortune that the “cursed” woman is desperate. However, what begins as a sham turns into something scandalously deeper. The beguiling lady has no business laying claim to his heart. But as a mission of revenge turns into fiery passion, Alexander wants nothing more than to break Claire’s curse...and lead them both to their hearts’ desire.


Disclaimer:  
The eARC of The Bad Luck Bride was provided by St. Martin's Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, for which I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review:  
Ms. MacGregor has created a very sympathetic heroine in Lady Claire. She's pretty but doesn't seem to know it. She's rather quiet in company. And her failed engagements are really not her fault. All she wants to do is get married to a nice man and have children.

Alexander is trying to ruin her fourth fiance. In doing so, he finds himself quite fascinated with Lady Claire. As a reader of romance, you surely know where that leads. This is a rather nice read. I gave it a solid four-stars. I liked the story and the characters. I think there's a lot to work into a series with. I look forward to seeing more of the Cavensham family series. I recommend Lady Claire's story to any of you who enjoy historical romances.



Was it Magic or Murder?

LUKE
Renegade Magic
Rebecca York (GoodReads Author)
Kindle edition, 83 pages, May 1, 2017, Pronoun

GoodReads Summary:  
In the high desert pueblo, the old beliefs have never died. And when witchcraft can be the only explanation for murder, Luke, Tom and Rico, former renegades, must step up to save their people and the women they love.

Part 1: Luke

In the first novella of the series, Luke Cordova is devastated when the man who saved him from life as an outcast is murdered. He’s determined to find out who killed his uncle Joe Cordova. At first, he will accept no help from Ashley Donaldson, a woman who was born on the pueblo and came back to find her roots. But she’s just as strong willed as Luke and just as beholding to Joe, and when the two of them unite to track a killer with magic powers, the heat that’s been smoldering between ignites into flames.

Renegade Magic: Luke…Tom…Rico…each of these compelling stories ends with an HEA for the hero and heroine. But only the full set will finally get to the bottom of the murder mystery. Be sure to read them all!


Disclaimer
The eARC of Luke was provided by Pronoun and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, for which I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review:   
I'd like to be able to give half stars, in this case, I'd have given Luke three and a half. I liked the story, though it was short. I'm not a fan of novellas due to their brevity. I like my stories long. I did find it interesting that each book is a complete romance, but the mystery isn't complete until you read all three books. Another writer's technique I'm not really enamored of, as most of you know. In addition to long books, I like them complete. It's one thing to build a series over time with stories and characters that are complex and complete. It's totally another thing to use cliffhangers and such to string books together. That's not quite the case here, but you still don't solve the mystery without reading all three books.

The characters in the story are well written and developed quite well so that they have depth and relate well. I hope they appear in the next two books to mature a bit, but as these are novellas, probably not. The characters for the next two books are already introduced and interesting. And there are plenty of unanswered questions left from the first book to get things going for the murder of Joe. Why is Joe's painting locked up in the hotel? Did he see too much? Is that disagreeable cop dirty? Is there a witch involved? Or is it a straight murder?

Well, Luke and Ashley have done their part in book one. In book two, it'll be Tom's part as a lawyer. And book three will belong to Rico, the artist and gallery owner. So, if you enjoy Native American mysteries, try this one out and see if you can figure out who done it before the end of the third book. Luke, book one of Renegade Magic is due out May 1, 2017.

The Science & Significance of Hearing Voices

Can't You Hear Them?
The Science and Significance of Hearing Voices
by Simon McCarthy-Jones
Available in paperback
Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Apr 21, 2017

GoodReads Summary:  
The experience of 'hearing voices', once associated with lofty prophetic communications, has fallen low. Today, the experience is typically portrayed as an unambiguous harbinger of madness caused by a broken brain, an unbalanced mind, biology gone wild. Yet an alternative account, forged predominantly by people who hear voices themselves, argues that hearing voices is an understandable response to traumatic life events. There is an urgent need to overcome the tensions between these two ways of understanding 'voice hearing'.

Simon McCarthy-Jones considers neuroscience, genetics, religion, history, politics and not least the experiences of many voice hearers themselves. This enables him to challenge established and seemingly contradictory understandings and to create a joined-up explanation of voice hearing that is based on evidence rather than ideology.


My Review:  
This eARC was provided by Jessica Kingsley Publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, for which I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

I read about 30 percent of this book quite thoroughly and skimmed the rest of it. I had to be honest with you about that. This book was over my head in understanding of the scientific aspects of the conditions discussed and the treatments proposed. There are large parts of the book that I could understand, particularly in the first 20 percent of the book. The author discussed things in more layman's terms and used a lot of case studies for examples to illustrate his points.

The author is making the point that hearing voices in diagnosed schizophrenia cases is most likely caused by some type of trauma, physical or emotional. He uses many case studies to support his theory before he goes into the ideas of how to treat such conditions.

This book could be helpful to many people struggling with the after-effects of TBI or PTSD, to possibly understand their own conditions and situations. However, it seems like the level of scientific knowledge required to really understand would mean you'd need your doctor on hand to interpret much of it and discuss it with you. Not exactly light reading.

The Father Penny White series

The Temptation of Dragons
Father Penny White series #1
by Chrys Cymri (GoodReads Author)
Kindle edition, 331 pages, Mar 30, 2016

GoodReads Summary:  
Bishop Nigel smiled at me. ‘Holy water doesn’t harm vampires. Which is just as well, as it would make it impossible to baptize them.’

When I was asked by a dragon to give him the last rites, I never dreamed it would lead to negotiating with his cannibalistic family or running from snail sharks. Life as the priest of a small English village is quite tame in comparison. At least I have Morey, a gryphon with sarcasm management issues, to help me. And if all else fails, there’s always red wine and single malt whiskey.

As if my life weren’t complicated enough, a darkly beautiful dragon named Raven keeps appearing where I least expect him, I’ve met a handsome police inspector who loves science fiction as much as I do, and my younger brother is getting into trouble for trying to pick up vampires.

That’s what happens when you’re dealing with an incredible and dangerous parallel world full of mythical creatures. And I have to learn to navigate it all without losing myself, or my brother…

My Review:  
First response: This is one of those fantasies that have that sense of fun and adventure even when things are dark and dangerous! It's not a perfect 5, maybe a 4 and a half rating. But I immediately bought the second book! Full review when the blog comes back online after the 20th...

The author provided me with a copy of this ebook for the purposes of a read and review. This is my honest review of her work for which I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

I downloaded this book when Ms. Cymri sent it to me and sat down to read. I didn't stop until I was at the end of the book and I immediately went to Amazon and purchased Cult of the Unicorn, book #2. I really hope this is a series that goes on for awhile, too! 

There's a richness to this world and its characters that are very pleasing. Using the Anglican church and Wales for a base does it, I think. Then mixing in elements of Dr. Who and Buffy the Vampire Slayer for scientific accents gives it a quirkiness that is just plain weird and appealing all at the same time. Not being part of the fandom of either one, I don't have the deep understanding or fluency others may have, but I was able to stay afloat with what was going on. And that's before the real magic begins!

Father Penny White is about to get a new job with a new assistant and a new pet. They've been waiting for her, she just hasn't been aware of them. She's not very impressed when she meets the snarky gryphon, but he does help her catch that snail shark from the garden. She's not terribly impressed at their second meeting either, but neither is he. And the stage is set.

All humans seem to have a sensitivity or fascination for one particular type of magical creature. A lot of them seem to go for the unicorn. But for Father Penny, it's the dragon. One particular dragon. Will he get her in trouble or save the day?

These characters are already well developed in book one, but there is room for emotional and professional growth there as well. I really look forward to finding time to read book two and see what Ms. Cymri does with all this fertile ground she's got. If you like deep, rich magic backgrounds and quirky characters with secrets to hide, this is a fantasy for you.

Cult of the Unicorn, #2





Don't miss out on tomorrow's relaunch of the blog!

Don't miss out on the great book I'm sharing tomorrow as the relaunch of the blog, The Temptation of Dragons by Chrys Cymri. Chrys asked me to read and review her book and I loved it. Tomorrow, I'll share my take on it with you so you can try it, too!

See you in the morning!
Judi

I'll be back on April 20th

I told you two weeks ago when Buggy died. Well, just yesterday I also lost my other cat, Spooky Girl after 17 years. Coming so closely after the loss of Bug, it has hit me very hard and I need some time to grieve, to get my head screwed back on straight, and just to stop and look around. I'm taking two weeks off to do that. I will be back with reviews for you on Thursday, April 20th. Don't worry, I won't stop reading so I will have lots of books to review by then. In the meantime, any of the reviewers on the blogs list down on the right will be able to provide you with interesting books and info. Just remember to come back on the 20th!
~ Judi for Blue Cat Review

Untitled #3061

Someone to Love starts the Westcott Family Series

Someone to Love
Westcott Family series #1
by Mary Balogh (GoodReads Author)
Kindle edition, 400 pages
Pub Nov 8, 2016, Signet
Also available in hardcover and paperback

GoodReads Summary:  
Humphrey Westcott, Earl of Riverdale, has died, leaving behind a fortune that will forever alter the lives of everyone in his family—including the daughter no one knew he had...

Anna Snow grew up in an orphanage in Bath knowing nothing of the family she came from. Now she discovers that the late Earl of Riverdale was her father and that she has inherited his fortune. She is also overjoyed to learn she has siblings. However, they want nothing to do with her or her attempts to share her new wealth. But the new earl’s guardian is interested in Anna…

Avery Archer, Duke of Netherby, keeps others at a distance. Yet something prompts him to aid Anna in her transition from orphan to lady. As London society and her newfound relatives threaten to overwhelm Anna, Avery steps in to rescue her and finds himself vulnerable to feelings and desires he has hidden so well and for so long.



My Review:  
This book was acquired from BookBub via BN.com. This is my honest review for which I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

First response: Haven't read this author in awhile, but she still writes a really good historical romance with all the necessary twists and turns. Full review on the blog soon.

And here it is! What a wonderful romance this is, too! When Mary Balogh decides to start a new series, she does it with such style! This one has everyone sighing, including the other characters! Oh, well, maybe some of them are actually groaning because they can't believe the Duke would marry this nobody. But sighs or groans, no one is immune to the pair. Ms. Balogh paints the expressions and feelings of each one for you to see and understand so well that you feel you are there in the salon with them looking around at each face as they absorb the news. But I won't say what news. Read the book and find out for yourself! This is fun even though there is sad news for so many of the characters. Mary Balogh is a favorite romance author of mine and I highly recommend any book of hers!

And then try Book #2 in the series! Find out how some of the family copes with losing a fortune and trying to make a life on their own.

Robyn Carr has a new series! Sullivan's Crossing

What We Find
Sullivan's Crossing series #1
by Robyn Carr (GoodReads Author)
Kindle edition, 352 pages,
Pub Apr 1, 2016, MIRA
Also available in hardcover and paperback

GoodReads Summary:  
Join Robyn Carr, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Virgin River and Thunder Point series, as she explores the healing powers of rural Colorado in a brand-new story of fresh starts, budding relationships and one woman's journey to finding the happiness she's long been missing

Between the urban bustle of Denver and the high-stress environment of a career in neurosurgery, Maggie Sullivan has hit a wall. When an emergency, high-risk procedure results in the death of a teenager, Maggie finds herself in the middle of a malpractice lawsuit—and experiencing levels of anxiety she's never faced before. It's in this desperate moment that Maggie's boyfriend decides he can't handle her emotional baggage, and she's left alone, exhausted and unsure of what her future holds. One thing is certain, though: she needs to slow down before she burns out completely, and the best place she can think to do that is Sullivan's Crossing.

Named for Maggie's great-grandfather, the land and charming general store at the crossroads of the Colorado and the Continental Divide trails have been passed down through the generations and now belong to Maggie's estranged father, Sully. Though raised by her mother and stepfather after her parents divorced, Maggie has always adored Sully—despite his hands-off approach to fatherhood. When she shows up unannounced in Sullivan's Crossing, he welcomes her with opens arms, and she relishes the opportunity to rebuild their relationship.

But when Sully has a sudden heart attack, Maggie's world is rocked once again. Consumed with his care, she's relieved to find that Cal Jones, a quiet and serious-looking camper, has been taking over many of Sully's responsibilities as he recuperates. Still, Maggie is suspicious of this mysterious man's eagerness to help—until she finds out the true reason for his deliberate isolation.

Though Cal and Maggie each struggle with loss and loneliness, the time they spend together gives Maggie hope for something brighter just on the horizon…if only they can learn to find peace and healing—and perhaps love—with each other.

My Review:  
This was a BookBub acquisition from Amazon. This is my honest review for which I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

Just as she closes one, she launches another. This series takes place around Sullivan's Crossing, which is in Colorado. It's a campground and hikers' stopping place that's at a point on the Colorado Trail and the Continental Divide Trail. It's also the home of Sully and his dog Beau. Sully's good folk, down to earth and he draws other good people to him. He's the ultimate Robyn Carr character. He's got heart and is never too old to learn.

Then there's Maggie. She's a Sullivan, too. She's a neurosurgeon with a whole lot on her plate right now. She goes all protective when Sully has his heart attack. She pulls her weight at the campground. She's cool and professional when Jackson falls and is shipped off to the hospital. Cal's taking a look at all the sides of Maggie and trying to put them together to get a whole picture, but she's keeping secrets. And there's Cal, who's a whole lot more than he seems, but he's not telling what right now. And that drives Maggie a bit more than crazy. 

There's Pheobe, Maggie's mother, Sully's ex-wife. Walter's current wife. Walter's a neurosurgeon, too. In fact,he trained Maggie. Maggie still sees these three people through the eyes of a small girl and the time when marriages and families fell apart. It takes some long talks to help her see what really happened through adult eyes. It seems there's a whole lot of healing going on at Sullivan's Crossing. Just the type of place Robyn Carr likes to write about. If you're a Carr fan, don't skip this new series. If you haven't tried her before, but you like the heartwarming stories with well developed characters and HEA at the end, definitely try this one. She has two other great series to read if you like this one!

Book #2 in series! Due out April 18, 2017! Just enough time to read the first book and buy the second!

Giveaway for Any Day Now