The Oracle of Philadelphia

The Oracle of Philadelphia by Elizabeth Corrigan description

Carrie works at a diner in South Philadelphia, dispensing advice to humans and angels wise enough to seek her counsel. But there are some problems that even the best advice can’t solve.

Her latest supplicant, Sebastian, is unique among those who have sought her aid. He sold his soul to a demon in exchange for his sister’s life, but his heart remains pure.

Carrie has lived for millennia with the knowledge that her immortality is due to the suffering of others, and she cannot bear to see another good man damned when it is within her power to prevent it.

In order to renegotiate his contract, Carrie must travel into the depths of hell and parley with the demons that control its pathways. As the cost of her journey rises, Carrie must determine how much she is willing to sacrifice to save one good soul.

BOOK 1 The Oracle of Philadelphia 5 STARS

This is only the second book I’ve read by Corrigan, but if there’s one thing I’ve realized it’s that her stories are endlessly surprising. I expected a huge battle between good an evil, with her probably falling for the lost soul she’s fighting to save. Nope. As much as I love a good romance, it’s not a crutch Corrigan relies on. There are moments dealing with Carrie’s wanting someone to be with, and even dealing with the relationships within the angels and demons. The story itself, though, was about Carrie finally finding something worth risking everything for, and dealing with the weight her past has put upon her. Corrigan does a great job of telling the tale of someone who is several thousands of years old, giving flashbacks of moments that tie into what is happening right now, and develops the characters thoroughly. My favorite of them is Bedlam. He’s a demon, but one who questions whether that means he truly is evil or if he has the ability to choose to be good, and adds a bit of humor to a rather serious tale. However, that there was what made this story so wonderful, because the lines aren’t clear cut. The angels have their struggles and the demons aren’t the one deminsional bad guy. They’re beings who have a real past and real pain that has distorted their original purpose. The angel who was meant to spread the nature of abundance and giving has been twisted into the demon of gluttony. The angel of mercy now is a demon that whispers to the world that there is no hope. It gave them each something more to discover, and helped set up what will surely be a very interesting series. The fact that this is dealing with Heaven and Hell and events in the Bible, made me a little worried. Too often such stories either make it a joke or try to completely undo the foundation of the Christian faith, and this book did neither. It was interesting the events that Carrie actually lived through, and the way they supposedly actually happened. It was a realistic depiction of that time, and if that was what did happen it would in no way alter what Christians believe, and remained very respectful to such. But if you’re not Christian, this book would still be very enjoyable. It’s not preachy, it’s not trying to convert someone to Christianity, if anything it’s showing how everyone, even those who know for a fact that there is a Heaven and Hell, have the right to question those beliefs and faith and what is the real meaning of good and evil.


The Orphan and the Thief

The Orphan and the Thief  by  M. L. LeGette  description:

A middle-grade adventure that will keep you and your kids spellbound.

Toad thought it’d be easy to steal from Mr. Edward P. Owl. Unfortunately for Toad, he isn’t the best of thieves. Caught in the act, he’s in more trouble than ever before. Now to save his hide, Toad must track down five rare potion ingredients for Mr. Owl. Or else.

All Melena Snead wants is her family back, but after the Miggens Street Fire, that isn’t very likely. Orphaned and miserable, forced to work in an apothecary, she’s determined to find Milo, her missing brother. No matter what.

When Melena finds Toad ransacking her apothecary, Toad gets a nasty shock: apothecaries don’t carry Mr. Owl’s ingredients. Luckily, Melena’s willing to help, for a price.

With Melena’s pet Spit-Fire dragon and Toad’s enchanted talking beer mug, they embark on a fantastical journey, traveling the country in search of the potion ingredients. But can they gather all of them in time, what with monsters, pirates, and axe-wielding thieves? And if they do, is there an even greater danger waiting for them at the end?

The Orphan and the Thief   4 STARS

Talk about a jolly good adventure. I loved that while this is a good clean young readers book, LeGette doesn’t shy away from how evil some people can be. The threat Owl presents isn’t some silliness to be laughed off, but a real villain that would strike fear into any other supposed bad guy, such as the Ramblers. But Owl is just the beginning, the real story is the growth that Toad goes through. He goes from being a boy that just wants to impress the Ramblers on what a good thief he is, to being a guy that wants to be someone that Melena can rely on, because she’s the first real friend he’s ever had. The same goes for her, she gets to discover the world and how to be strong in her own way. And it is an amazing world, full of magic, dragons, and pirates. Each ingredient they go for is a new adventure filled with monsters and endless discoveries. Now all I can ask for is more. I want to know where Joe really came from, what’s Izzie’s back story, what is the rest of this incredible world like? A wonderful story altogether.

A Study in Scarlet

A Study in Scarlet  by  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle  description:

‘There’s a scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it.’

From the moment Dr. John Watson takes lodgings in Baker Street with the consulting detective Sherlock Holmes, he becomes intimately acquainted with the bloody violence and frightening ingenuity of the criminal mind.

In A Study in Scarlet, Holmes and Watson’s first mystery, the pair are summoned to a south London house where they find a dead man whose contorted face is a twisted mask of horror. The body is unmarked by violence but on the wall a mysterious word has been written in blood.

The police are baffled by the crime and its circumstances. But when Sherlock Holmes applies his brilliantly logical mind to the problem he uncovers a tragic tale of love and deadly revenge…

A Study in Scarlet   3 STARS

While I have read a few Sherlock stories, it’s been years, and so I figured I should start at the beginning. This was exactly the sort of story you expect from such a detective, and I loved how Watson and Sherlock came to be together. How they seem to get along, even as Sherlock is strange, Watson acknowledges his own quirks. The case itself was exciting right from the beginning. It was fast paced, and interesting how the police detectives were going about solving it in comparison to Sherlock’s own means. However, once it got to the part of giving background to the perpetrator the story slowed considerably. While it was nice getting a thorough account of why this man had done what he did, Doyle really dallied there a bit too long, and with far more detail to everything than there needed to be. I found myself just scanning over paragraphs describing the landscape and such, and even once we got to the final bit of the killers own testimony I was just ready to have it over and done with. Still a good start for the stories, but rather prefer the shorter tales to this.

Fire in His Fury

BOOK 1: Fire in His Blood  by  Ruby Dixon

BOOK 2: Fire in His Kiss

BOOK 3: Fire in His Embrace

Fire in His Fury   description:

Just like Rapunzel from the fairy tales, dreamy, romantic Amy lives a hidden life. She’s kept locked away in a tower for her own safety, with her sister as protector. Amy knows it’s for her own good. If a dragon catches her scent, she’ll be carried away and forced to become a drakoni’s mate.

But Amy has a secret – she desperately wants to be stolen. She would love to be rescued from her life of idleness and the thought of a devoted drakoni male charging in and saving her from her boredom sounds perfect to her. Of course, she wants a romantic, loving male who will adore her.

What she gets is Rast.

He’s not kind. Not romantic. Definitely not gentle. But he is utterly and completely obsessed with Amy and he’ll stop at nothing to make the delicate female his

BOOK 4: Fire in His Fury  4 STARS

I really blame Claudia. If you’re living in a world where a dragon may snatch a girl up because he thinks she his mate, you might want to have a bit of a talk about the birds and the bees. Poor Amy. Honestly, part of me almost dropped this to 3 STARS because of Amy, and how she viewed Rast in the beginning. She kept calling him murderer after seeing him kill another dragon, and thinking he was so evil, but it seemed a bit unrealistic. She knows dragons are being driven insane by this world, and that they fight over territory, and that yes to a degree they’re all murderers because they’ve burned entire cities to the ground, so why is she shocked? But as you go, it is more about Amy just having been so caught up in a fantasy that when faced with reality of the situation she got herself in she just doesn’t know how to handle it. That is something that I’ve really liked about this series, Dixon deals with the horrible truth of what living in such a world would be like. This isn’t just some cute little love story, it’s people fighting for survival in a land filled with death from above, and possibly more death on the ground. I was glad that Rast had more of his memories, because we then get to see a better picture of his world, and even more how the Salorians treated the Drakoni. It also leads to a lot of struggle on his part to come to terms with how humans see the world. Amy, though, grows a lot and I loved how it all turned out in the end. It’s an interesting set up for at least 2 other books, depending on which cliffhanger Dixon wants to handle next. I really don’t care which, I just want more.

Catching a Man

Catching a Man  by  Elizabeth Corrigan   description:

Kadin Stone’s life is finally going according to plan. She’s starting her new job as a homicide detective’s aide at one of the premier criminal investigation companies in Valeriel City, the capital of a 1950’s-style kingdom. Kadin is certain her new position will introduce her to any number of eligible men, so she’ll finally be able to get married and stop burdening the brother who insists on supporting her.

On Kadin’s first day, the royal family calls in her team to investigate the murder of gossip-rag cover girl Queen Callista. Kadin’s superiors think it’s an open and shut case. The queen’s jilted lover Duke Baurus DeValeriel had motive, means, and opportunity, but Kadin can’t help but spot holes in their theory.

After checking into a few leads of her own, Kadin inadvertently ends up in the confidence of Duke Baurus. When she tries to share what she knows with the rest of the team, she finds them unwilling to listen to the opinion of a girl who they know is only after a ring on her finger. In order to see justice served, Kadin finds herself doing the last thing she expected when she started working for a homicide detective—solve a murder!

BOOK 1: Catching a Man   5 STARS

I’ll admit, I went into this book thinking it’d be a fluff romance with a murder mystery in the background for a bit of plot. Instead it was an intense and very well developed mystery, that had twists you never saw coming, and an ending that left me completely surprised and yet the most logical. I loved that this was set in a 50’s style world, you get the clothes and the technology that is familiar to us for that era. Even the misogynistic views of women, where the only stable life for a girl is to find a man and get married while she’s still young and pretty. However, that is where the similarities to this world ends. Corrigan has built an entirely different society and government that vividly brought this world to life, and left so much to be discovered. I found it fascinating that here the medical field is run by the government, and so easily accessible to all, while investigations is the service you need insurance for. Meaning if a family member can’t afford or chooses not to pay for an investigation a criminal just goes free. Even the way women are rated, and what they go through to stay employed or to receive benefits, just shows how much thought Corrigan put into this. The mystery itself was also well calculated, and I loved how Kadin became a woman not just looking for a man, but one looking for justice. She was never the ditzy sort willing to do whatever to get married, she’s just a reasonable woman that understands the rules of this world, and doesn’t want to be a burden on her brother anymore. But more so, she’s clever and observant, and is willing to put her career and life in jeopardy in order to find the truth. Absolutely hoping there are more in this series to come, and it better come soon.

Crystal Kingdom

BOOK 1: Frostfire  by  Amanda Hocking

BOOK 2: Ice Kissed

Crystal Kingdom   description:

The kingdom she loves has turned against her. Can she save it before it’s too late?

Bryn Aven—unjustly charged with murder and treason—is on the run. The one person who can help is her greatest enemy, the gorgeous and enigmatic Konstantin Black. Konstantin is her only ally against those who have taken over her kingdom and threaten to destroy everything she holds dear. But can she trust him?

As Bryn fights to clear her name, the Kanin rulers’ darkest secrets are coming to light…and now the entire troll world is on the brink of war. Will it tear Bryn from Ridley Dresden, the only guy she’s ever loved? And can she join forces with Finn Holms and the Trylle kingdom? Nothing is as it seems, but one thing is certain: an epic battle is under way—and when it’s over, nothing will ever be the same…

BOOK 3: Crystal Kingdom  4 STARS

Hocking definitely knows how to end a trilogy. I was very excited when we got to see the other tribes more. It’s the first time really going to the Omte tribe, and they’re definitely a different sort, but I was happy getting to see the Trylle and Vittra more, and knowing how the characters we came to know in the Trylle series are doing now. There was a fair amount of surprises, and it was interesting to see how they came to really knowing the truth of the plots that had been against the Kanin kingdom this whole time. The only thing that bothered me was Bryn. She’s intelligent and well trained in defending herself, and has now gone through so much, but obviously she was never really a soldier so I get her not exactly having been used to dealing with the things that were coming about in having to bring down Mina. Yet, even as no one would want war, and no one would want to hurt people who are simply being manipulated, I also think Bryn was just a bit too naive about a lot of things. As well as being very reactive, constantly trying to go on what would’ve amounted to suicide missions, which repeatedly led to Konstantine having to talk her down. That part got a bit old at times, but the rest of it was really well done. The war and dealing with those just trying to serve their kingdom, and those that are simply dealing with greed, and sadly the innocents who are caught in the crossfire. She didn’t wash over the bad side, and it made for a heart wrenching but realistic and worthy ending to the story.

My Top 5 Favorite Books of 2017

Long ago in 2017 I surpassed my Goodreads reading challenge of 60 books, and made it all the way to 63. I know, I’m amazing. However, I wanted to look back and list the top 5 books that I read last year. Now I am skipping over books I’ve read before, and only listing those that I read for the first time in 2017.

  1. The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

This book is as sweet as it sounds. I’ve come to love several of Allen’s books, and I actually read 2 other of her books this past year. This I think was my favorite of hers simply because I can relate to the sugary sweet cravings that Josey is subject too. But like most of her books, there’s this hint of magic in the air, where even in a world that’s created to be as realistic and relatable as our own, there’s still that chance that anything is possible.

  1. An American Werewolf in Hoboken by Dakota Cassidy

If you ever read a book by Cassidy you know how much good humor there is in them. This one by far is the most hilarious. I practically had to smother myself to keep from laughing out loud at work. It was so much fun to read, and an interesting set of issues for werewolves to have to deal with that I’ve never once seen brought up in other books. Which in a way made it more realistic, and of course more interesting.

  1. A Girl in Black and White by Danielle Lori

This is actually the 2nd book in the Alyria series. While the first was rather good, this took Calamity to a whole new level. It’s always nice to read a series that gets better with each book, and this one was a fascinating story to begin with. Definitely one that keeps you wanting more.

  1. The Beast of Talesend by Kyle Robert Shultz

I love fairy tale retellings, and I love the old detective stories of a world weary gumshoe just trying to do the right thing. In this I got both. It’s funny and exciting, and it’s another series that each book takes you on a new twisty turn of old tales.

  1. T&A: Revelations of a Romance Novel Heroine by Jill Monroe

If you love romance novels, but are also the sort to wonder why the heroine always makes such silly mistakes, or does crazy things, then this is definitely a book you should pick up. After all Annalise actually knows she’s in a romance novel and is just trying to figure out exactly where the script is taking her.

There were plenty of other good books I read, some within the series of the ones I listed, and some that I chose to read over and over again. But when scrolling through my list these were the main ones that jumped out for me, and I definitely won’t be forgetting them any time soon.

Seahaven: an Underwater Fantasy Adventure

Seahaven  by  Raymond Cain   description:

He’s reckless, impulsive, and barely eighteen, but Flynn Arcturus is the best damn pilot on the ocean floor. In his short lifetime, he’s dealt with angry sea dragons and seductive mermaids, but nothing could have prepared him for the death of his parents.

Flynn’s parents aren’t the first to die under mysterious circumstances. Many residents of Seahaven, the domed underwater city where he lives, are getting killed by seemingly random acts of misfortune. When he investigates, he discovers an ancient threat, imprisoned for centuries, once again endangers Seahaven.

Equipped with superb piloting skills and an extraordinary ship built by his genius brother, Flynn may be the only one who can save Seahaven. But when he discovers what he’s up against, he realizes he’s out of his depth.

BOOK 1: Seahaven  3 STARS

I’m not sure I should even give it 3 STARS, but the writing was well done and the idea was an interesting one. An underwater city that apparently has no idea about the world above, though evidence of wrecked ships and other bits show that it’s obviously taking place in our world. It seems they’ve lost a lot of their history and perhaps that’s why they don’t know how they ended up where they are. It’s an interesting mix of magic and advanced technology that allow them to live and function in their city, and yet oddly they’re not allowed to go beyond what is deemed the Safe Zone. From the beginning you get this hint at mystery and things that Flynn is trying to understand. Flynn being the main character is the focus of the story even though it’s in 3rd person. However, while he starts out as a hero type, saving a whale from bullies hurting it, and even feeling sorry for a mermaid who he believes may have gotten hurt while he was chasing it trying to get answers about his family, he quickly goes down hill. Yes he gets bullied, but he also does a lot to antagonize the bullies himself. More so, he can be just as cruel. He basically attempts to murder a water golem because it suits his own needs. And at first it may seem like water golems are nothing but magic used to make water beings to carry out undesirable tasks, it becomes obvious they’re more than that. Any being that can refuse to do what a person asks, and fight them off while trying to protect themselves, and screams (albeit silently) in pain is clearly not just some mindless drone but something that if killed should count as murder. Even though clearly none of the people there seem to care too much for them. Worse still, was the mention of stuffed merfolk on display, and those are definitely beings on the level with humans, and while any stuffed creature is creepy, that is downright traumatizing to think of. Plus while at first it seems he wants to go to what equates to a military academy to honor his parents, the thoughtful and loving act gets destroyed by his further adding that he really just wants to go to college in order to get a ring that’ll allow him into bars because he really wants to be able to get drunk like the guys he sees in them. So much of what started out to be a decent hero character becomes as unlikeable as everyone else in this book. He isn’t even set up to be a good anti-hero. So much of this book reads like a fun adventure for young readers, but then there’s parts that seem out of place and a bit too mature for such. Altogether, while it wasn’t horrible, it definitely had its issues that makes it hard to really care about what happens next.

The Chemist

The Chemist  by  Stephenie Meyer  description:

In this gripping page-turner, an ex-agent on the run from her former employers must take one more case to clear her name and save her life.

She used to work for the U.S. government, but very few people ever knew that. An expert in her field, she was one of the darkest secrets of an agency so clandestine it doesn’t even have a name. And when they decided she was a liability, they came for her without warning.

Now she rarely stays in the same place or uses the same name for long. They’ve killed the only other person she trusted, but something she knows still poses a threat. They want her dead, and soon.
When her former handler offers her a way out, she realizes it’s her only chance to erase the giant target on her back. But it means taking one last job for her ex-employers. To her horror, the information she acquires only makes her situation more dangerous.

Resolving to meet the threat head-on, she prepares for the toughest fight of her life but finds herself falling for a man who can only complicate her likelihood of survival. As she sees her choices being rapidly whittled down, she must apply her unique talents in ways she never dreamed of.
In this tautly plotted novel, Meyer creates a fierce and fascinating new heroine with a very specialized skill set. And she shows once again why she’s one of the world’s bestselling authors. 

The Chemist   2 STARS

This is a rare review for me, because I usually don’t review a book unless I read it all the way through, which is why I gave it the benefit of the doubt with 2 STARS instead of just 1 STAR. I’ve never been ashamed to admit that I liked Twilight. Don’t know how so many people can act like the didn’t considering how well it did. More so I loved Host, and had really wished that she would write the sequel like she said she would. Instead we get what is supposed to be an adult thriller novel, however it really doesn’t read like one. Meyer should perhaps just stick to writing YA, because she’s good at that, and that’s really what this reads as, because the main character sounds more like a naive teen than an adult government agent whose job is to torture people. After all, if she was such an agent she would be trained in many tactics that would’ve helped her while on the run. She definitely wouldn’t have needed to steal books from the library, especially fictional ones, in order to get good pointers on what to do. What was even sadder was when both the book she read, and her own common sense, said the email offering to wipe her slate clean was a trap, but she decided that maybe she should just take a chance anyway. And while I believe in forgiveness, and rectifying ones mistakes to the point that a romance could blossom from the situation she finds herself in, it also feels like it was a bit rushed and too forced to be viable. It’s like Meyer herself has never read a thriller novel or did any research on secret agents. Also the cliche of an agency being so clandestine that it doesn’t even have a name is so over done. Why wouldn’t it have a name? Wouldn’t it be more suspicious for government funds to be disappearing to pay for people and stuff in a nameless agency than one that had a name even if its purpose was classified. Like does giving it a name somehow make it more likely for someone to figure out who they were and what they did? It just never makes sense to me. But what do I know, I’m just a civilian being lied to by the government who assures me that such things don’t really exist.

The Barbarian Before Christmas

Due to the number of books in this series I’m just going to add the link to the list of books I’ve reviewed by Ruby Dixon. While this is apart of the Ice Planet Barbarian series, it still requires you to have read the first book in the Icehome series.

The Barbarian Before Christmas   description:

The growing barbarian tribe is about to celebrate No-Poison Day – a time of love, laughter, and gifts. But all Elly wants is for her mate to be at her side before the brutal season arrives. All Bek wants is a way to quickly return to his female despite the mountains between them. Thanks to the talents of a newcomer…they’re both about to get their wish and celebrate the happiest of holidays together

BOOK 17.5: The Barbarian Before Christmas    5 STARS

This was a short story, but still managed to give such a fun look at their No Poison Day celebration. I love these short stories because you get to see so many of the couples and get a more rounded view of what’s going on in the village, both in Croatoan and Icehome. The main focus was on Bek and Elly, who are definitely my favorite couple. I loved that Dixon didn’t just automatically “fix” Elly. Elly loves Bek and they have a great relationship, but she still has trouble socializing, and hasn’t gotten over her fears, such as needing someone else to taste her food before she eats. Perhaps I like her so much because I can relate to the anxiety and depression of being a part from the one you love for long periods of time, and altogether Dixon handled it perfectly. After them, seeing Lila and getting to know what it was like for her being able to hear now was wonderful. I’d been curious considering she hadn’t seemed all that moved over the change when it first happened, but in this we really get to experience what it’s meant to her. All the Barbarians, humans, and new alien men gave a lot to this story even in such a short format, and it always just makes me want more.