Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War 2 by author Robert Matzen. Reviewed by Maria Mitchell, courtesy of The Crow and Dagger blog.
A lifelong Audrey Hepburn fan, I have read quite a few books about Audrey’s life but this book contained a few gems I had never read about before. It was interesting learning that both of Audrey’s parents were supporters of Hitler before the war, the reasons why Audrey’s father left her at such a young age, Audrey’s love of dance, the murder of her uncle, her similarities with Anne Frank and Otto Frank asking her to play Anne in a movie, her efforts in the resistance, getting picked up by the Nazi’s and escaping, and so forth.
These facts were fascinating and some of them were new to me. However the majority of this book was about the war and her experiences through it. I find it’s difficult to keep books about war interesting because it’s not something I usually enjoy reading. So I found much of this book slow in pace and if I hadn’t loved reading about Audrey Hepburn so much I don’t know if I would have kept reading. Audrey Hepburn was a wonderful role model who lived much of her life in service of others, this book gave me an opportunity to learn how the war and her childhood shaped her to be a hero.
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Second Chance Magic by Michelle M. Pillow. Reviewed by Maria Mitchell courtesy of The Crow and Dagger blog.
This book already has a special history to it. Thirteen authors including Michelle wrote new books about women nearing middle age and all that entails to try and break the common stereotypical female mold in books.
My summary: A woman in her forties, Lorna discovers she was her husband’s second wife at his funeral, and is now in need of a fresh start. She takes a new job in a different town, starts to make some new friends and crushes on her boss’s brother. However when she and her two new friends discover three lost rings their lives truly take a magical turn.
Lorna was pretty easy to relate to by finding out something terrible about someone she was grieving and getting no closure. Also her public embarrassment and then trying to start over. And wondering if she should start something new.
I also really liked how the author dived in with creating a camaraderie between Lorna and her new friends Vivian and Heather. All three women are very different but easy to see why they’re friends (and become witches) together. Vivian was easily my favorite character. These three women are friendship goals. They aren’t afraid to empower each other both literally and emotionally.
The pacing in this book felt a little slow in the beginning but quickly picked up. I thought the story-line flowed well and kept me entertained.
The romance wasn’t rushed too much but there were a few things a little weird with the romance which I am not sure came across well as a reader. It made the romantic interest odd at times. He grew in my eyes later but I wasn’t feeling any chemistry for probably the first half of the book.
The magic in the book had a very “Charmed” feel to it. These women weren’t ever aware they had powers and have several mishaps while learning to control them. It made the magic and what they did with their magic believable. Because who wouldn’t want to have a seance to yell at an ex?
I will definitely read more in this series!
My rating: 4 out 5 stars.
Sucks To Be Me by Kristen Painter. Reviewed by Maria Mitchell courtesy of The Crow and Dagger blog.
This book already has a special history to it. Thirteen authors including Kristen wrote new books about women nearing middle age and all that entails; to try and break the common stereotypical female mold in books.
Belladonna “Donna” Barrone can’t decide if her life just got easier or worse. Her mob husband who she had been working with the FBI (and a super hot agent) to turn state’s evidence against dies accidentally in a car accident. So now she’s forty-nine-years-old and finally free of the mob. Or is she? Then she goes to the cemetery to yell at her husband’s grave only to get attacked. And turned into a vampire. But vampires aren’t real right? However the goons the mafia sends after her are very much real and now her life is hanging in the balance in more ways than one.
I gobbled this book up in one sitting. Something about Painter’s writing made me need to read as fast as possible. The story started out a little familiar from most of what we have seen of mob backstories from movies and books but then the pacing got faster and steady as it went.
Donna Barrone is a kick-ass heroine. Even before being turned she is brave as all get out. The mafia isn’t anything to mess around with and she’s prepared to turn state’s evidence on them. She isn’t willing to take crap from anyone. Including people it’s probably smart to be afraid of, like mafia bosses and vampire sires. But she can also step out of her high heels and great clothes and lounge around in leggings drinking wine and watching The Bachelor.
Another interesting route this book took is that Donna didn’t completely understand she was changed into a vampire and thought the whole attack was a prank essentially. She’s strong and able to defend herself in a big way at an incident directly after but chalks it up to adrenaline. She kind of has to feel her way through all the usual aspects of being a vampire and sometimes fails like killing the first person she fed from, even if he did have it coming. And then there’s the whole puzzle of being able to step into chapels and walking out in daylight still. In her defense, her sire wasn’t all that into training her and now Donna finds herself on vampire trial for the act of taking a human life. Which was another interesting plot point, humans aren’t just for consensual feeding or fodder and the vampire actually value human life.
The romance with hot FBI agent Rico doesn’t really get off the ground but there is a hint of more to come. So it kind of left the reader hanging but I found I was okay with that as long a romance does happen some time in this series, but to be completely fair Donna had a lot going on in this book and the FBI were still working on her case so there’s that whole ethical boundary thing.
I think the only aspect I would have liked to see more explored in future books was Donna’s relationship to her children. They were grown and barely used in this book but seemed to really like Donna and care for her which speaks to the fact she must have been a great mother. I could see them becoming interesting characters especially if they ever find out about Donna’s new powers.
I am very excited to read more in this series.
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
Witching for Grace by Deanna Chase. Reviewed by Maria Mitchell courtesy of The Crow and Dagger blog.
This book already has a special history to it. Thirteen authors including Deanna wrote new books about women nearing middle age and all that entails to try and break the common stereotypical female mold in books.
Grace Valentine’s world just changed when her husband divorced her to get engaged to their secretary from their joint real estate business. Grace is now forty-five years old, down a husband and a job, oh yeah and she’s a witch with a coven. Her only hope of employment in her small town is a rival real estate company. She interviews and she will be hired contingent she can sell the haunted properties she is assigned. In addition her niece moved in with her and worrying about her sister, she also has the cute 34-year-old at her new office making his interest in her known.
What’s a witch to do?
I really enjoyed how the blended genres in this book. It’s a book about witchcraft and ghosts but also chick lit with it’s romance, sisterhood, and new beginnings. The genres seem like they shouldn’t be compatible but definitely propels the story along and keeps it at a steady and interesting pace. Also I need to throw in a mention about how gorgeous the cover art is.
Grace is a likeable, relatable and resourceful character. She has no qualms about going to her ex-husband’s rival for a job. Nor does she let her ex walk all over her. She’s feisty and able to stand up for herself. She’s also incredibly caring which really makes her likable. She has a wonderful sisterhood with her coven and has made lasting friends. But she also allows her niece to come stay with her when she’s not able to stay with Grace’s sister anymore. The niece is smart and funny and able to often give Grace the pushes she needs. Like jumping back into the dating pool with a younger man. And these scenes were very spicy but also had a real element of romance and sweetness to them. Owen is definitely a keeper.
Now for the paranormal aspect of the book. I really liked how the author incorporated a witch as the main character but also haunted stories too. And how Grace deals with the ghost actually makes sense unlike in most books, she uses her head to work with the hauntings. She also discovers some new facets to her witchy powers and figures out she’s accidentally been cursing people, including her ex with certain let’s say uncomfortable hexes. But just to show how nice of a character she is, she feels remorse and tries to put these hexes to right, no matter how deserved they might be.
All in all, this was a very fun read and I am hoping to read more books in this series.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
Let it All Burn by Denise Grover Swank
Reviewed by Maria Mitchell courtesy of The Crow and Dagger blog.
My summary: Darcie Weatherby is pretty much your average 40 something year old woman. Has 3 children to support, her husband of 20 years left her for a younger woman, and she has no job force skills so accepts a crappy job with an even crappier boss. She’s even getting hot flashes but these are far from average and as Darcie digs deeper into her new found powers she discovers more than she ever bargained for.
I have read quite a few of Denise Grover Swank books. Usually I prefer her mystery books to her paranormal ones. However this book was special. Thirteen authors including Denise wrote new books about women nearing middle age and all that entails to try and break the common stereotypical female mold in books.
I really liked how relatable the main character Darcie was. Everything she is going through most women can relate to or have experienced.
She has all of that going on and then her world gets quite a bit more complicated and instead of freaking out like most people would she uses her head. She tries to puzzle out what’s happening to her because spontaneously combusting over and over shouldn’t be possible. She uses her head and doesn’t immediately trust everyone around her and doesn’t rely on a man to save her either, in fact she’s sick of being controlled and unappreciated by men.
I also really liked having Darcie’s family and children featured quite a bit in this book. Whether it was trying to control her wacky live-in grandmother’s hijinks or shopping and basketball games with her children it showed Darcie’s heart and humanity. And why all of her decisions began and ended with her children.
Now the story was pretty usual for a Swank book and the pacing was easy if a little slower in the beginning. However the story picks up steam as does the concept of the plot and gets even crazier until finally everything starts to make sense.
Darcie had two romantic interests in this book. The romance was definitely on the back burner much of the time since Darcie had a plethora of other things happening in her life. I did like how the romance wasn’t a focus and was much slower to build up.
All in all I really enjoyed this book and an older relatable heroine. I have been reading Swank’s books for years and she never disappoints.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
DARK SKIES Preorder Campaign
As a thank you to readers who wish to support DARK SKIES by preordering, Danielle L. Jensen is hosting an international purchase incentive campaign for artwork of Lydia and Killian by the incredible Salome Totladze, plus a signed bookplate! The incentive varies slightly depending on the edition you order, as well as the shipping address you provide me for the mailing of your incentive. The reason for the variation is shipping costs.
MY SHIPPING ADDRESS IS IN THE USA/CANADA
I PREORDERED A HARDCOVER
You will receive the character art dust jacket plus a signed bookplate.* Please enter your information HERE.
I PREORDERED AN EBOOK/AUDIOBOOK
You will receive the character art 4×6 postcard plus a signed bookplate.* Please enter your information HERE.
MY SHIPPING ADDRESS IS INTERNATIONAL**
I PREORDERED A HARDCOVER, EBOOK, AUDIOBOOK
* While supplies last.
** For clarity, it doesn’t matter where you LIVE, it only matters where you are having me SHIP the incentive. So if you are international and want the dust jacket and have a friend in the USA/Canada willing to forward it to you, that’s totally fine.
You have until May 4, 2020 at 11:59pm EST to claim your swag package (DARK SKIES releases on May 5, 2020). Please tag Danielle L. Jensen and use #DarkSkies on social media when you receive your swag! Danielle would love to see your pretty photos! ♥
Incentives will be mailed following the verification of purchases, which will happen following day. I am unfortunately unable to replace incentives that are lost or damaged in the mail.
One swag package per household.
Pre-order The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz and submit your receipt to receive your own enamel pin!