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2017 Reading Challenge

Jill Elizabeth has read 2 books toward her goal of 150 books.

Book Review: The Bureau of Dangerous Matter by Hargus Montgomery

I am so disappointed – in myself, in the book, in my ability to stick with it… I wanted to like this one SO much – I absolutely loved the first book (The Seventeenth Pocket); could not read it fast enough. (I reviewed it on here, if you are curious.) I loved the concept, the characters, the plot – the pacing was perfect, the story intricate and finely developed. There was pathos, drama, intrigue, science… Everything about it was spot-on perfect. I was immensely curious to see where the second volume carried the story. Unfortunately, the second failed to grab me early on and never managed to turn that tide…

Here are my issues with the book:

  • There is a LOT going on in this volume. That is not a problem in and of itself, but a lot of the activity in this one is preparation for war. An unusual war, to be sure – and one that is far more conceptually interesting than most “traditional” wars – but a war nevertheless, and I’ve never been a fan of war stories…
  • Continue reading Book Review: The Bureau of Dangerous Matter by Hargus Montgomery

Book Review: Den of Shadows by Christopher Byford

I was so intrigued by the concept as described in the blurb. The description was short and pithy, full of mystery and the promise of hidden depths… Add in the delightful cover art and great title and the comparisons to The Night Circus and Caraval, and I was sure I would fall right in to this one.

Not so much.

It started slow, but a lot of books do. (Although not either of the comparators I mentioned, incidentally.) I’m willing to give a book 50 pages (unless I hear from a trusted source that I need to give it more – and even then, I’m not willing to give it much more); as long as it gives me something to catch my attention, I’ll keep going. This one just couldn’t get me there…
Continue reading Book Review: Den of Shadows by Christopher Byford

Guest Post: Dawn Reno Langley, Author of The Mourning Parade

Today I’m pleased to introduce you to a fascinating woman, Dawn Reno Langley, and her new novel The Mourning Parade. In addition to being pleased that I’m able to facilitate those introductions, I’m also quite pleased to be able to share with you her thoughts on inspiration in writing and a little bit of the backstory behind the genesis of this heartbreakingly inspirational story. Enjoy!


Sometimes Inspiration is as Simple as a Family Story
by Dawn Reno Langley

My mother never had much. For most of my school days, we lived on the second and third floor of my grandmother’s home. Then my parents moved to a home of their own for a while, and from there, to other apartments. Mom decorated those places in her own inimitable style. Nothing matched, but everything was spotless. Surprisingly, for someone who was such a clean freak, she had more doo-dads than almost anyone I’ve ever known (including myself, and I’m bad. Trust me.)

Through the years, she complained of the clutter, always wanting to get rid of the things she accumulated, but she never did. Instead, she kept adding to them. Shadow boxes hung on the living room wall, each holding a small collection: Hummel figurines, little cherubs, and at Christmastime, a nativity. One of the collections that grew through the years consisted of dozens of elephants, all with trunks raised because Ma said that meant good luck. She’d tell me other trivia, but I never paid attention because there were other things going on in my life, and who cared about elephants anyway?
Continue reading Guest Post: Dawn Reno Langley, Author of The Mourning Parade

Book Review: Toward a Secret Sky by Heather Maclean

“‘There are a lot more demons than you might think. When Lucifer was cast out of heaven, he took a third of the angels with him.’
‘A third?’ I said. ‘How? How did he convince them?’
‘Evil is contagious,’ she answered simply.”

I have commented before on how much I enjoy world-within-the-world books, and this was no exception. Heather Maclean’s tale of angels and demons that walk among, yet somewhat apart from, us was a very enjoyable tale about how complicated life – and love – can be. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, and it sets up a new series nicely. But, funny thing, when I went to write the review I found that I didn’t have all that much to say about the book…
Continue reading Book Review: Toward a Secret Sky by Heather Maclean

Book Review: 51 Sleepless Nights by Tobias Wade

“I don’t know which was worse, taking the Devil by surprise or letting him know I was coming.”
from The 32

You’re going to be surprised to hear how much I liked this one. First, it’s short stories – a genre I have long-standing issues with – and second, it’s horror – a genre I tend to avoid outside of a very few favorites because I do most of my reading at night these days and I have insane dreams without adding such fuel to their fire! When I was contacted by the author, Tobias Wade, I was initially inclined to decline the request out of hand. Then I looked the book up on Amazon – the cover art absolutely sold me on this one. Isn’t that a fabulously eerie cover?? While I am a firm believer that you can’t judge a book by its cover, sometimes I do find that a cover (or title) will pull me toward giving something a second look. If the cover (or title or whatever) speaks to me, it suggests that what’s inside will to. This isn’t a direct correlation – it doesn’t always hold true – but more often than not it does. Just so with this book…
Continue reading Book Review: 51 Sleepless Nights by Tobias Wade



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