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.


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.

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.

The Truth Behind Jacob Marley’s Words

“I wear the chain I forged in life….I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.”

–Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Okay, this is probably pretty strange to have as your favorite Christmas quote. I’ve even written about it before, but it doesn’t matter I still love it. However, I think the thing I love most about A Christmas Carol is that it isn’t just about the magic of Christmas during December, it’s about a man who learns about the magic of giving and caring for others that he carries with him all year long. I love Christmas movies, they’re sweet good fun that makes me happy, and something special to look forward to this time of the year. For some reason I just can’t bring myself to watch them in other time no matter how awesome they are. Yet, with most of them it tends to be just about something magical that happens then, and doesn’t really focus on the things that Christmas is supposed to be about. Peace on Earth, good will toward mankind. Which isn’t something that only happens in the month of December, or at least it shouldn’t be.

My coworker came in today and was talking about how happy he was that the person in front of him in the line at McDonalds bought his meal, because he’s actually broke but you know you gotta eat. He didn’t understand why they did that, and apparently hadn’t heard about these things people do, mainly at Christmas. I explained it to him, and he still seemed a bit perplexed. Which is sad. Someone doing something nice, albeit without really knowing whether the person behind them really needs help paying for their meal or not, shouldn’t be a perplexing experience. It should always be considered nice, and something we need to show appreciation for, because we definitely should never take such for granted, but it also shouldn’t be considered so out of character for people in general.

Whether you believe in an after life or not, I think something to be considered is the weight of your actions. The chain we’re building around our neck may be far heavier than we realize, and the weight may be dragging us down to levels we never would’ve imagined us sinking to. No one starts out in life thinking so little of the people around them. So ready to pass on by terrible things they see, and pretend it’s not happening because they don’t want to get involved. We’ve become a society who is quicker to take a selfie of themselves at some terrible scene to show that we were in fact there, than we are to step up and take action to help others. I watched a video done by Burger King that showed people would go up and complain and be so upset if they got a burger that looked like someone had smashed it to pieces, but they would sit there and watch a kid be bullied and messed with and have his food taken from him. Because that wasn’t their problem right?

The Christmas spirit of giving and loving is a magic that should be carried with us all year round. We should want to do more for those around us. People constantly talk about how the world should be a better place, and they can’t understand all the terrible things that happen in it. The best way to make the world better is to start with yourself, because as you become better then all your interactions will be better, and you’ll help make the people around you better as well. It may not seem like a huge monumental change, but change rarely happens in some huge sweeping motion. Change takes time, and effort, and if we’re willing to do so then I think we would free the world of the chains that weigh it down so much.

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.

The Stroke of Eleven

BOOK 1: The Beast of Talesend  by  Kyle Robert Shultz

BOOK 2: The Tomb of the Sea Witch

The Stroke of Eleven  description:

The adventures of Beaumont and Beasley are at an end.

The Council of Scions has finally caught up with Nick Beasley and his friends–and the sinister enchantress Madame Levesque has plans for them. Nick and Cordelia must solve an ancient mystery for her. Otherwise, Crispin and Molly will be lost forever.

The investigation leads Nick and Cordelia to the Castle of Basile, a bizarre place detached from space and time. Old friends are trapped there, and Nick and Cordelia are soon imprisoned along with them. Their jailer is the Fairy Godmother from the tale of Cinderella…who turns out to be far less benevolent than the storybook version.

A masked man offers to help–but can the White Rabbit really be trusted? What is Cinderella’s dark secret? And what will happen when the clock strikes twelve?

BOOK 3: The Stroke of Eleven   3 STARS

Like the other books, this was a new and rather dark twist on the fairy tales we know and love. After surviving on the run for so long, they’re finally captured. It’s interesting to be back dealing with the Council, as well as Nick’s dream Beast still coming in to play, and them finally questioning what really happened to Cordelia’s father. It helps to tie the stories together to develop this larger over arching plot, and not just a new case of the week. The building of the time loop, and how the world changes around them was fascinating, and practically apocalyptic. And while this is supposed to be about Cinderella’s real story, it was surprisingly more Beauty and the Beast than even the first book was. With the outfits, the song, and even living furniture making little debuts, which was rather charming. However, I found it ridiculous how the other magic users in the story kept ignoring Nick because he was just an ordinary guy, even if he is currently a beast. After all he’d done and the cases he’s solved, it felt like a rather strange turn of events to act like any idea he comes up with couldn’t possibly be worth their time. Also, while this story had so much to offer, and a lot of questions were answered, as well as plenty of plot lines that could build for more stories, it ultimately ended up being rather predictable. The “big reveals” were more of a confirmation of what you already knew. It was a good book, but just wasn’t on par with the previous stories. Even the whole sci-fi bit of Doctor Who style clockwork people and robots really tainted the normally magical aspect. Plus there were a lot of typos. It feels like Shultz may have rushed this story. I still do look forward to see what happens next, especially after that ending which really makes me wonder which Liddell was in that locked room.

Lauren’s Barbarian

While this is a spin-off series of The Ice Planet Barbarians, it’s still rather tied to the series and I disagree that it can stand alone. At the very least you should read the first book of IPB.

Lauren’s Barbarian  by  Ruby Dixon  description:

A lush, tropical island on an icy planet makes no sense.

Then again, not much makes sense anymore after waking up and finding myself not in bed but on a strange world populated by aliens. Since that moment, I’ve learned that nothing is normal anymore and I’ve got to roll with the punches. I can handle this, though. I’m strong and capable.

So… washed up on a tropical island? Got it handled.
Separated from the others in my group? Handled.
Stranded alone with a brutal but delicious alien man that can’t speak English but has great…ahem…body language? Yup, handled.

Add in the fact that my cootie – a symbiont I need to survive – has chosen my big, hulking alien friend as my fated mate? Let’s just say that the situation isn’t the only thing that’s going to be handled.

But it isn’t long before I learn that the tropical island paradise is a death trap and we’re all in grave danger, aliens and humans alike. To survive this, I’ll need my tempting guy to give me a hand with the situation…good thing he’s got four of them.

BOOK 1: Lauren’s Barbarian   4 STARS

This book starts when they’re finally letting the captives out of the pods, and how they all reacted, and what exactly happened while Taushen and Brooke were away. First off, I’m so glad we finally discovered the secret of the island Josey saw way out at sea. It also does tie into events that happened earlier in the IPB series, and so it was nice that even as it’s breaking off into a rather new story line, it’s still staying consistent with the previous books of this world. Though at first I was a little miffed that we finally find the 4 armed natives that was hinted at previously in the carvings of Croatoan, and it turns out they also are blue with tails and horns, and also calling themselves Sakh. But honestly it was rather clever of Dixon to think about the different species mixing together, and who knows how other Sakh ended up on the island, but it’s not really that far-fetched. Once I realized that it made me like it all the more. And again we’re dealing with a human and alien overcoming a language barrier, and having to work together to save the tribe. It was developed nicely, and of course it sets up for so many more stories with the new Icehome tribe, and learning how they’re going to come together and survive this new world they’ve all suddenly been tossed on. Lauren is likeable and practical. She’s a little unsure of resonance at first but she doesn’t put up a big fight with it, which was nice to be able to have someone just happy to have a man that’s completely devoted to them. The set up of the island and the tribes was interesting, and of course leaves me wondering about the mysterious 4th tribe that no one meets. But altogether it was a fun addition to the series whether Dixon wants to call in the same series or not.

The Sugar Queen

The Sugar Queen  by  Sarah Addison Allen  description:

Josey Cirrini is sure of three things: winter is her favorite season, she’s a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her closet. For while Josey has settled into an uneventful life in her mother’s house, her one consolation is the stockpile of sugary treats and paperback romances she escapes to each night…. Until she finds her closet harboring Della Lee Baker, a local waitress who is one part nemesis—and two parts fairy godmother. With Della Lee’s tough love, Josey’s narrow existence quickly expands. She even bonds with Chloe Finley, a young woman who is hounded by books that inexplicably appear when she needs them—and who has a close connection to Josey’s longtime crush. Soon Josey is living in a world where the color red has startling powers, and passion can make eggs fry in their cartons. And that’s just for starters.
Brimming with warmth, wit, and a sprinkling of magic, here is a spellbinding tale of friendship, love—and the enchanting possibilities of every new day.
The Sugar Queen    5 STARS
Warning: This book will make you crave every sugary goodness that you ever heard of and then some. I love Allen’s books, because they’re always filled with such hope and possibility. There’s never any direct magic, but there’s always these little things. Men who literally can’t break their promises, books that appear when you need them, and the color red bringing about good things. Josey is a character that’s easy to understand, she has a secret love of candy and romance novels, and has no clue what to do when her secret love suddenly shows interest in her. She’s trapped in a town that still holds the things she did as a small child against her, with a mom who doesn’t want her to be able to go out and find her own life. But as usual it’s never just about one person finding her way in the world. There’s Chloe, Jake, Adam, and even several others who get swept up in the story as you go. Allen always create a world that is alive and real in the way that you know these sorts of places, and either are or have met these kinds of people. Yet this isn’t a simple every day story, and I couldn’t put it down. I stayed up late reading it, and immediately started back the moment I woke up. Fantastic!