Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Going for the Gold: "Roses and Rot" by Kat Howard

As we learn in Kat Howard's glittery , gorgeous and atmospheric debut, Fairy Tales don't always have happy endings, not for everyone, and when they do... the hero, or heroine, must survive an ordeal to find their way out of the forest, and possibly, into the castle.
Imogen and Marin are sisters. Sisters as different as night and day. One dark and one fair. At one time they were as close as any two people could be... but then Imogen must flee their family home and the way to do that, to survive, was to go to boarding school and leave her precious sister behind.
Now, both grown-up and talented in their own unique fields, Marin has reached out to Imogen to join her in applying to a very prestigious Arts Colony, Melete, in the wilds of the New Hampshire woods.
Both sisters are accepted and Imogen finds herself in an enchanting world of esteemed mentors and talented new students. Settling into the tower of one of the assigned student houses, this one a fantastical Queen Anne, seemingly perfect for inspiring new ideas for her writing project, she unwittingly annoys another resident who had designs on that very room. Helena, a poet, with published works and an attitude to go with them.
Soon she is joined by Marin and a new friend, a singer/songwriter, Ariel. Hoping to put their past behind them and embrace a new closeness as both sisters and artists, they are at first tentative to talk about their past... and the mother who sought to turn one against the other as girls. It is clear they have a lot of baggage to unpack over the nine months they will spend at Melete. Marin, leaving her dance company to seek guidance from one of the most acclaimed (and handsome!) dancers in the world of ballet.
And Imogen, a writer of original, dark fairy tales, will be mentored by her favorite author.
Can anything be better than that?

Yet... there had been rumors about Melete. Those that are accepted must do the best work of their lives. They want to please their mentors, but is there something else going on?  And odd things seem to happen. It's almost as if they are being watched. Eyes seem to be everywhere. Will the sisters gain fame and fortune from their stay? And what must they give up to attain it?
"Roses and Rot" is a memorable and haunting journey. You'll find yourself thinking about it long after you've turned the final page, like the very best of fairy tales and legends. This book is highly recommended. 5 stars. In fact, make that a ceiling full of stars!
Thank you to Edelweiss and Simon and Schuster for the DRC!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Bon Voyage: "Day Four" by Sarah Lotz

Sarah Lotz is a pretty compelling author and she writes in such a grab you at the first sentence way that, know this... before you know it you will be trapped at sea on the Beautiful Dreamer, a third rate cruise ship with an international crew and a diverse group of passengers ranging from some swinging singles to the followers of a famous psychic, Celine Del Ray, and her posse.
You will never be able to look at a cruise ship the same way after you board this fictional vessel. As suggested by the title, up until Day Four, all seems to be running smoothly. Then, suddenly, bit by bit, things seem to shut down, or off or catch fire or ... well, you'll have to get a copy because the less you know going into this story the better. Most of what happens seems pretty plausible. As things fall apart and people demand answers from the crew who know about as much as they do but try to hold things together as they await a response from their captain who seems not to be addressing the chaos onboard.
As with The Three, Ms. Lotz's writing is so visual you can picture the Beautiful Dreamer and her saga coming to life in an almost cinematic way. Like The Three, Day Four is also highly recommended! As mentioned in the book's promos this is a companion story to the The Three sharing a bit of the same background which is referred to in this one.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Child's Play: "The Three" by Sarah Lotz

On a day that came to be known as "Black Thursday" four planes crash at different locations around the world.  Over a thousand lives are lost and yet, miraculously, there are three survivors. Three children, one from Japan, one from the UK and one from the USA... and briefly, long enough to leave a recorded message on her cell phone, Pamela May Donald, a middle-aged house wife from South Texas. What can it mean?
Author Elspeth Martins gets it all out there in her gripping book Black Thursday: From Crash to Conspiracy (Inside the phenomenon of The Three)!
She gathers together interviews with relatives of survivors, the e-mail exchanges of two Japanese teens, and much, much more. You won't be able to put Ms. Martin's book down, nor the book by the real author of all this creepy fun, Sarah Lotz!
In a brilliant use of a book within a book you can almost believe in the media circus that surrounds the survivors and their families as they try to make sense of the phenomenon and the religious cult that builds around the woman from Texas and her final words sent via that cell phone. Ms. Lotz writes with such a riveting visual intensity you can imagine it all unfolding as you read. Highly recommended! Stay tuned for a review of a companion book: Day Four!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Out of the Blue and into the Black: "Redemption of Shadows" by Cathy M. Conway

It is always fun to discover a new Phantom author and see what journey they have in store for our favorite characters. I recently downloaded "Redemption of Shadows" by Cathy M. Conway and started glancing at it to get an idea of what she was doing... and next thing, I was half way into it! This is a very addictive story!
The story begins with Erik recovering from a drug induced sleep, a ploy for Christine to come back and be with him at his death bed. The Persian left them alone, so, who knows what happened between them? Two days later, Amir is finally getting Erik to return to life. A life without his beloved Christine. Was it really worth it? It would have been easy to just slip into the great beyond.
But, no. Fate has other things in store for him. He returns from an outside excursion to find someone has entered his passage ways. Determined to find the intruder and possibly put an end to their snooping with his ever ready punjab lasso... he finds, instead, a limp bundle that turns out to be an unconscious, bloodied and beaten young woman. He is taken aback. Erik rescues her and nurses this mystery woman in his lair and as she slowly comes round, between doses of morphine, she claims not to know her name or who she is. What she is, to Erik, is a stunning beauty who has been terribly mistreated. How and why, he might never learn. But one thing was for certain, she was keeping him interested and giving him a new reason to live...
If you love Phantom fiction and are looking for an intriguing new take on the classic, then be sure to find your way to a copy of Ms. Conway's "Redemption of Shadows"! You will be very glad you did!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Things We Do For Love: "Wrong Place, Wrong Time" by Tilia Klebenov Jacobs

Wrong Place, Wrong Time by Tilia Klebenov Jacobs, is one of those books that grabs your attention from the first sentence. In other words, my kind of book! Ms. Jacobs is an exceptional writer. Her style is engaging and conversational, her characters are people you'd want to know, at least Tsara, the star of this story is someone you'd want for your BFF! Tsara is a lovely, smart, 40ish wife and Mom who, one day, receives an engraved invitation for a charity event from her long estranged uncle, Castle Thornlocke. With her husband's encouragement she decides to go and makes the trip to her uncle's estate in the wilds of  Northern NH.
Uncle Cass welcomes her with open arms and a fancy suite of a guest room. It is in this guest room that Tsara's weekend getaway is about to be radically disrupted. After the dinner and dancing, she retreats to her room to slip off her fancy dress and relax, and while checking her new haircut in the mirror notices something odd in the reflection... two men.
The two men tie her up and abduct her (OK, she did use some fancy defense moves and take one of them out, almost). It seems she was in her Uncle's associate's room. They were actually there to abduct Cass's buddy, Hans Friehoffer. She was going to be taken hostage, instead, hostage in exchange for the son of one of her abductors. His six year old son. He claims Hans, with Uncle Cass's knowledge, kidnapped his son and his friends from the friend's house. The parents of those friends owed Uncle Cass some money, with interest, and how better to get them to pay, than by holding their kids ransom. Mike's (the taller (and ruggedly good looking) abductor) son was collateral damage.
Intriguing? Yes! This is an up all night adventure you won't want to put down until you know how Tsara  survives this ordeal not to mention what happened to those missing children? And Mike, is he a bad guy? Or a hero? You'll have to score a copy of Wrong Place, Wrong Time and see for yourself!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Let Me Be Your Shelter: "Unconditional" by Michelle Rodriguez

In this second novella of Manifestations of a Phantom's Soul: A Duet by Michelle Rodriguez (with that dreamy cover by Jessica Elizabeth), Erik has been trying to live with his decision to let Christine go to live a life he thought she wanted, a life with Raoul. But, second thoughts have him trailing leads to finding her. Every time he'd gotten close, it seemed they would disappear...but now he has found her again. Secreting himself inside the house where she and Raoul are holed up, he hides behind the curtains and finally reveals his presence to Christine, his beloved. Will they live happily ever after, now that they are together again? But, wait, something seems to be wrong with this picture. Christine is pregnant. With his nemesis's child, no less. Before he has time to make sense of it all, Raoul enters and Erik disappears back to his hiding place where he  witnesses an encounter between the two. Raoul demanding Christine not sing in his house or anywhere else as singing and music were the devil's tools. Will Christine never sing again? Is this the end for our two star-crossed leads? Or the beginning of a very different future for the two of them. And is there room for a third in Erik's vision of how life should be if, and when, he has Christine back to make beautiful music together. Get a copy of Duet and see where Unconditional will take you.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A New Ghost in Town: "Manifestations of A Phantom's Soul: A Duet: Rib-caged Hearts" by Michelle Rodriguez

I have to say, Michelle Rodriguez writes the swooniest Phantom and Christine stories! As you can see, the Recommender has been very busy doing other things than reading and reviewing, alas, (big garden/illustration jobs) but I had to get this review finished, for part 1 of this two novella collection, because I couldn't put it down! Rib-Caged Hearts revisits that moment when Erik gives up Christine to his rival for her affections, the worlds most famous Vicomte, Raoul de Chagny. This is staged in a way quite differently from most takes on this love triangle, and Ms. Rodriguez creates a heartbreaking moment and one you'll have to read to understand the emotional fall-out a selfless act can generate. Erik wanted to be loved for himself, and it looks like this is something that might actually happen. Christine is on the brink of becoming his, or so it seemed. Then, a shadow from his past appears. Someone who knows Erik's darker side and has watched, enviously, as the Opera Ghost ruled over the Paris Opera House. Someone who reminded Erik that he was a monster, unworthy of love. Damian, a gypsy magician who aided Erik's escape from his caged humiliation and has now tracked him to his lair with a proposal. One Erik seems ready to accept. Can it be the end of Erik and Christine's love story? You will have to get a copy of this collection and see for yourself. The Recommender will review the second story as time allows!
*A fun note: This past August I attended the fabulous PhantomCon in Richmond, VA. and got to spend time with the talented and lovely author, Michelle, and her talented and adorable cover photographer, Jessica Elizabeth. I also got to meet Elaina, the beautiful cover Christine on several of Michelle's books. It's not every day you meet a book cover girl and Jessica's covers capture the spirit of Michelle's words perfectly. See the image above.