Thursday, June 30, 2016

Book Review: "The Requiem Red" by Brynn Chapman


by Brynn Chapman

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Patient Twenty-nine.

A monster roams the halls of Soothing Hills Asylum. Three girls dead. 29 is endowed with the curse…or gift of perception. She hears messages in music, sees lyrics in paintings. And the corn. A lifetime asylum resident, the orchestral corn music is the only constant in her life.

Mason, a new, kind orderly, sees 29 as a woman, not a lunatic. And as his belief in her grows, so does her self- confidence. That perhaps she might escape, might see the outside world. 

But the monster has other plans. The missing girls share one common thread...each was twenty-nine's cell mate. 

Will she be next?

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


Two girls. One, patient twenty-nine in Soothing Hills Asylum (that is anything but soothing as it dehumanizes its patients). The second, the esteemed daughter of the Asylum’s head doctor. Both have catlike eyes and hear whispers of words in the music they see everywhere. But there are more problems going on their bizarre connection. There is something killing some of the other women in the asylum, all of whom were roommates with patient twenty-nine before their deaths. And the head doctor has a dark side only his daughter and the servants are aware of.

The Requiem Red by Brynn Chapman is just as dark and bizarre as the one other book I have read by Chapman, The Violet Hour. Words hidden in music. Monsters in the night. Hair changing from brown to white overnight. The patients might not be the only insane ones. Then, throw in a couple whirl-wind romances…

I can’t quite figure out whether or not I like this book. It was so weird and dark but yet so interesting. It pulled me in and kept me interested in the tale of these two ladies. I figured out a couple of the mysteries, but not all. And the ending was a complete surprise. It left me hanging, and I’m not even sure there will be a second book! So frustrating. I didn’t like some of the darker elements, though they added depth and danger to this tale.

One thing is for sure, though. I will never look at insane asylum’s the same way again. Back in the early 1900’s and before, asylums were more like a prison than a place of healing. People were hospitalized for a variety of ridiculous and reasons, including when husbands wanted an excuse to remarry. The Requiem Red did an unforgettable job of showing life inside one of those asylums. Makes me feel even sorrier for my great-grandfather who was entered in an asylum around the turn of the twentieth century for stealing his family’s car (and escaped a couple of times) … but that is a story for another day.

The Requiem Red was as fascinating as it was bizarre. I recommend it to lovers of the weird with a dose of YA romance.

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Audiobook Review: "Porcelain Keys" by Sarah Beard


Porcelain Keys 
by Sarah Beard

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Aria's life is full of secrets--secrets about her mother's death, her father's cruelty, and her dream to go to Juilliard. When Aria meets Thomas, he draws out her secrets, captures her heart, and gives her the courage to defy her father. But when tragedy strikes and Thomas disappears, Aria is left alone to transform her broken heart's melody into something beautiful. Porcelain Keys is a captivating love story that will resonate long after the last page is turned.



Ever since her mother’s death, Aria’s father has hated Aria’s music. He starts drinking and becomes volatile and abusive. One day, after escaping her father’s anger by hiding in the neighbor’s tree house, Aria wakes to find a boy invading her sanctuary. Thomas is the neighbor’s hot grandson and has moved in next door to clean up the place to sell. But trespassing and a bed-head is not the greatest first impression.

Porcelain Keys by Sarah Beard is the classic story of a senior in high school falling for the new boy who moved in next door. In some ways, it was a story that has been told a million times. You’ve seen it on TV and read it in a dozen books about high school, with the popular girl trying to steal the boy away and that girl’s ex-boyfriend using the main character to make his Ex jealous. But this book had a lot more going on that just that. It reached deeper levels, touching on abuse, grief, music, and the lasting effects of love. For those reasons, I enjoyed this book as more of an original.

Another reason why I like this story is because it does not stop at the end of high school. The characters get through a couple years in college, family changes, deaths, heartbreak, second loves, and much more. Yet, they find their way back to each other through the mess. Forgiveness and grief are major themes in this story, and they were addressed well, considering how hard such topics are. Each of the characters reacted to their grief in a different ways and had to come to terms with it in their own ways. They then had to learn how to forgive each other for the hurt they inflicted while in pain themselves. And the healing power of music had a part to play. There were a lot of hard topics in this book, and I enjoyed it all the more for it.

The audio version was pretty well done. There were a couple times in which the reader's voice would change in loudness, but she did a very good job giving voice and emotion to each of the different characters.

I enjoyed Porcelain Keys. I wish it was more original in some ways but appreciate the minor differences and hard topics addressed. I recommend it to those who enjoy a good, clean YA/NA romance.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Book Review: "Escape from Witchwood Hollow" by Jordan Elizabeth


Escape from Witchwood Hollow
by Jordan Elizabeth

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Everyone in Arnn - a small farming town with more legends than residents - knows the story of Witchwood Hollow: if you venture into the whispering forest, the witch will trap your soul among the shadowed trees.

After losing her parents in a horrific terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, fifteen-year-old Honoria and her older brother escape New York City to Arnn. In the lure of that perpetual darkness, Honoria finds hope, when she should be afraid.

Perhaps the witch can reunite her with her lost parents. Awakening the witch, however, brings more than salvation from mourning, for Honoria discovers a past of missing children and broken promises.

To save the citizens of Arnn from becoming the witch’s next victims, she must find the truth behind the woman’s madness.

How deep into Witchwood Hollow does Honoria dare venture?



After Honoria and her brother lost their parents in the 9/11 attack, they move to Arnn, a small town in the country with their aunt and uncle. Honoria soon discovers the town’s mysterious legend about the so-called Witchwood Hollow. Those who enter those woods never return, so the legend says. When Honoria and her new friend begin exploring the town, they begin to discover that there might be more to the legend than pure fantasy.

Escape from Witchwood Hollow by Jordan Elizabeth Mierek is a novella whose tale spans centuries. A witch flees from her abusive family and finds sanctuary in the woods. But she decides to hurt others as she has been hurt, and so traps any wanderers in the woods, never to age or feel the passage of time. Honoria is but one girl slowly discovering the mysteries of the woods. Another point-of-view character is Albertine, a young woman traveling to Arnn to meet her father and fiancé, who gets trapped in Witchwood Hollow.

The story was very interesting and had a great start. There were layers of history and mysteries to unravel that had been hidden for centuries. A bit of romance affected several characters’ lives, as well. The story was not creepy or horrific, but filled with mystery and the normal problems of a teenaged orphan and an older girl missing her family. It held my attention throughout.

The main thing I had a problem with in Escape from Witchwood Hollow was the ending. I didn’t like the end one bit. There is a little hope and happiness, but it wasn’t enough. A couple of the questions weren’t answered to my satisfaction and it wasn’t summed up very well at all. And ***spoiler alert*** the main character, Honoria, died at the end! I hate it when author’s do that. It was very unnecessary, too. ***end spoiler***

So, overall, I did enjoy the beginning and the mystery, but I wanted to throw the book at the wall because of the ending. Take it as you will. If you dare to read this book, I would recommend it to YA and urban fantasy readers.

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Book Review: "Fading Starlight" by Kathryn Cushman


Fading Starlight
Kathryn Cushman

Synopsis from Goodreads:

When Her Big Shot Blows Up on Her,
How Far Will One Woman Go to Regain Her Dream?

Lauren Summers is in hiding. Her fashion house internship was supposed to launch her career, but a red carpet accident has left her blackballed. The only job she can find comes with little pay, but at least it offers a free place to live--a run-down cottage in the shadow of a cliff-side mansion. Planning to live on savings until she figures out what's next, she's unprepared to be contacted by a reporter.

Kendall Joiner is researching Charlotte Montgomery, a former Hollywood ingénue who lives a reclusive life in the cliff-side mansion. Rumors have swirled for decades about Charlotte, and now Kendall wants to find the real story. In return, she may just have the key to getting Lauren back into the fashion world. Desperate to restore her dreams, Lauren's not sure she can turn down the offer--but as she and Miss Montgomery get to know more about each other, Lauren realizes nothing is quite as it seems.


Just as Laura’s career in fashion gets off to a great beginning, it comes to a dramatic end in a red carpet catastrophe. Laura is devastated, until a former professor references her to another fashion job willing to hire her. A temporary living space is provided, but it turns out to be a seaside cottage in a kind of gated community with extremely strict rules and cranky neighbors. As Laura is settling in, a reporter promises to investigate a possible sabotage in the fashion disaster if Laura agrees to spy on one of those neighbors. But that neighbor and reporter may have more going on than meets the eye.

Fading Starlight was a sweet inspirational story with beautiful settings, complex characters, and fascinating historical details. I especially enjoyed the different details on fashion, sewing, and jewelry. 

What happens when someone is so hurt by the betrayals of the past that she can't move forward with her life or trust the people around her? This story explores some of the consequences and contrasts them with other characters who have been similarly betrayed yet recovered. It was an interesting study on human beings as well as a sweet tale of friendship, recovery, and faith.

Laura’s Christian faith was also interesting to see. I wish I could say that I would have acted differently in the story - loved my neighbor better, mainly - but I believe Laura's reactions to be realistic and my expectations to be unrealistic. Even so, not many would have reacted as well as Laura did in the situations presented to her. It was good to see her grow in her faith and love for others in this manner throughout the story.

That said, I don't particularly like the “inspiration fiction” genre and this book was no exception. It was interesting in its way, but it still bored me because of its slow pace and lack of much action. The ending was pretty neat, though.

I recommend this book to those who enjoy inspirational, Christian fiction.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Book Review: "The Reluctant Duchess" by Roseanna M. White


The Reluctant Duchess
Roseanna M. White

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Lady Rowena Kinnaird may be the heiress to a Highland earldom, but she has never felt good enough—not for her father, not for the man she thought she’d marry, not for God. But after a shocking attack, she’s willing to be forever an outcast if it means escaping Loch Morar and the men who have jeopardized her life.

Brice Myerston, the Duke of Nottingham, has suddenly found himself in possession of a rare treasure his enemies are prepared to kill for. While Brice has never been one to shy away from manor-born ladies, the last thing he needs is the distraction of his neighbor, Lady Rowena, who finds herself in a desperate situation. But when the moody Earl of Lochabar tries to trap Brice into marrying Rowena, Brice finds he’s not as opposed to the idea as he expected to be.

Rowena wanted to escape the Highlands, but she’s reluctant to resort to marrying a notorious flirt just to gain his English home. And when she learns that Brice is mixed up in some kind of questionable business with a stolen treasure, she ’fears she’s about to end up directly in the path of everything she was trying to avoid.


After a horrible attack by her beau, Rowena feels hopeless. Her father is pressing her to marry her attacker, and there seems to be no way to contradict his wishes. That is, until her father and cousin concoct a plan to marry Rowena to a visiting duke. It is Rowena’s only hope to escape her suitor, but will she be fleeing into more danger?

The Reluctant Duchess by Roseanna M. White is beautiful! I enjoyed watching Rowena and Brice fall in love with each other. It took a lot of time and patience, especially because of the trauma and abuse Rowena had suffered and Brice’s secrets concerning the Fire Eyes. It was sweet and a little romantic with a bit of action twined in.

The story considered a number of interesting topics. Abuse, which is putting it mildly, was a dominant theme. Poor Rowena suffered so much, from both her father and her horrible suitor. It is a wonder she ever learned to trust Brice. Another topic was unwanted pregnancy. If Rowena became pregnant because of the attack, how would she and her new husband, who is not the father, treat the child? Would Brice kick Rowena and her babe out of his home? Or would they attempt to abort the child or leave the infant on the church doorstep? A third topic was supernatural things, namely, curses. It is a Christian story, and it asks whether curses are real and what a Christian’s reaction to them should be. The author addressed all of these topics and did a great job of weaving them into the story.

The one negative comment I have about the story is about the pace. Sometimes, I wanted to see parts of the story written out but they were skipped. For example, I would have liked to see Rowena meeting some of Brice’s family for the first time, which occurred not long after the wedding. But those days were skipped and summed up later. It was a little strange to see days and weeks at a time practically missing from the story.

In all, I really did enjoy The Reluctant Duchess and would recommend it to those who love sweet, historical romances, especially of the inspirational and Christian kind.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Book Review: "Last Believer Chronicles: Chosen Child" by Anilyn Shaw


Last Believer Chronicles: Chosen Child
Anilyn Shaw

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Why can't I ever catch a break?! It wasn't enough that I was born into the lowest Caste in Chanro, and my family is one of the highest Castes. It wasn't enough that my life is over at 21 years old unless I can somehow get out of it, it wasn't enough that I am considered worse than the dirt that the other Magics walk on. Now, my teacher has decided that rather than live under the rule of the Master and Magic; which has been the rule for 6 centuries, she wants to follow a being called God, who has not been heard of for years! She's willing to go against everything that Chanro stands for, to stand up for God. She's speaking of crazy things, like forgiveness, mercy, and a person called Jesus Christ who supposedly saved all of us! It's crazy...isn't it? There's no way that it's true...is it? She wants to rope me into this and says that God's calling me for something more, but that can't be true...can it?

Buy Links:


Demona is the exact opposite of happy. Her life sucks! She was born into the lowest magical caste though her family is in the highest. Because of that, she is destined for ridicule, she can never marry or have children, and she is required to commit suicide at the age of twenty-one. Then, her friend discovers a Bible hidden in the walls of their ancient home that gives her hope and changes her attitude. Demona isn’t sure what to think about her friend’s mysterious book, but when she is offered the chance to spy on her friends in exchange for caste re-evaluation, she takes it.

The Last Believer Chronicles: Chosen Child by Anilyn Shaw was quite different than I imagined. It is set in a post-apocalyptic future where nature is nonexistent and nearly everyone has magic. Christianity has been forgotten in lieu of the “No-God Act,” and the people are united under The Master, otherwise known as Satan, who fuels the magic, and his underling, Runua Judas. I would describe this storyworld as “the epitome of evil” and I didn’t particularly like it. But I have to give the author credit because she did a spectacular job creating it!

The plot was pretty good, though. It follows Demona from her birth to the third most-powerful people on the globe to her transformation and calling as a Christian with a new name. Chosen Child is largely the story of a young woman struggling against God, evil, the society, and her own conscience. Because of all the mistakes she makes, Demona is not the most likeable character, but she is forgiven and changed.

Some of the other main characters were utterly inspiring. Demonica/Ruth and Julia/Gabrielle were beautiful in their faith, though not without fault. I found them the most relatable, me being a Christian from a Christian background. I fell in love with these characters and long for the following novel.

Also, there are a number of name changes. The characters’ name changes represented their internal renewal as Christians. It was a little confusing at first but I easily caught on because the characters’ personalities were so distinct.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel and would recommend it to lovers of Christian speculative fiction and allegory.

I borrowed a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

As a side note, I voiced several characters in the audiobook version of this book. Keep your eyes out for it!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Book Review: "Songkeeper" by Gillian Bronte Adams


Songkeeper (Songkeeper Chronicles #2)
by Gillian Bronte Adams
Genre: YA/NA Fantasy
Release Date: April 15, 2016

Synopsis from Goodreads:

War ravages Leira and the Song has fallen silent.

Freed from the hold of a slave ship, Birdie, the young Songkeeper, and Ky, a street-wise thief, emerge to a world at war. Hordes of dark soldiers march across Leira, shadowed by whispers of plague and massacres, prompting Ky to return to his besieged home city in hopes of leading his fellow runners to safety.

Desperate to end the fighting, Birdie embarks on a dangerous mission into the heart of the Takhran's fortress. Legend speaks of a mythical spring buried within and the Songkeeper who will one day unleash it to achieve victory. Everyone believes Birdie is the one, but the elusive nature of the Song and rumors of other gifted individuals lead her to doubt her role. Unleashing the spring could defeat the Takhran once and for all, but can she truly be the Songkeeper when the Song no longer answers her call?

Add to Goodreads

Buy Links: 
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo


As the Takhran continues to wage war on the nations, Amos, Birdie, and Ky do whatever they must to thwart his plans. Amos, Birdie, and several companions set out on a dangerous quest straight into the Takhran’s own city while Ky returns to the Underground hoping to help them escape the now-besieged city. But what hope is there of success when their enemy is so powerful?

Songkeeper, by Gillian Bronte Adams, was everything I expected it to be and more. It, of course, continued the journey of the characters as they grow internally and wage war against insurmountable odds. There is a collection of new characters as well, each one as unique and full of depth as the previous ones. Gillian Adams certainly knows how to create believable, distinguishable characters whose personalities, even down to their accents, draw captivate the reader.

This book is everything a fantasy novel should be. It has a well-thought-out storyworld, complicated politics, insurmountable odds, unique characters in a myriad of races, danger at every turn, and so much more. The characters struggle with their pasts and their destinies. Plans fail and comrades betray. But the characters struggle on to what will hopefully be a glorious conclusion in a following novel.

I love fantasy, and Songkeeper is a great example of the genre. But for some indefinable reason, this book did not draw me in like some of the others fantasy books I have read. Songkeeper has awesome characterizations, a great plot, a fantastic storyworld, great morals, and so much more to offer, yet it did not captivate me as much as I had hoped. That is not to say the author is not a good writer. Gillian is an awesome writer (which I know from her books and blog posts) but it was not the right book at the right time, I suppose.

I recommend Songkeeper to fantasy lovers, especially of the YA and Christian sort.

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


Just a quick note for my readers. I may be switching this blog over to Wordpress in the near future. Not sure how this will affect my followers just yet, so I will keep you posted. In the mean time, I have just started a new blog called Faerie Tales and Forever Afters that is all about - you guessed it - fairy tales. If you are interested, check it out at https://emilyannekopf.wordpress.com/2016/06/02/first-blog-post/. I only have a welcome post up as of yet, but there is definitely more to come!