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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

REVIEW: My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren @gallerybooks @christinalauren

My Favorite Half-Night Stand
by Christina Lauren

Thanks so much to Gallery for this free book! An adorable and relatable rom-com you'll want to pick up immediately.

Publisher: Gallery Books
Publish Date: December 4, 2018
384 Pages
Genres: Romance, Contemporary

Millie Morris has always been one of the guys. A UC Santa Barbara professor, she’s a female-serial-killer expert who’s quick with a deflection joke and terrible at getting personal. And she, just like her four best guy friends and fellow professors, is perma-single.

So when a routine university function turns into a black tie gala, Mille and her circle make a pact that they’ll join an online dating service to find plus-ones for the event. There’s only one hitch: after making the pact, Millie and one of the guys, Reid Campbell, secretly spend the sexiest half-night of their lives together, but mutually decide the friendship would be better off strictly platonic.

But online dating isn’t for the faint of heart. While the guys are inundated with quality matches and potential dates, Millie’s first profile attempt garners nothing but dick pics and creepers. Enter “Catherine”—Millie’s fictional profile persona, in whose make-believe shoes she can be more vulnerable than she’s ever been in person. Soon “Catherine” and Reid strike up a digital pen-pal-ship...but Millie can’t resist temptation in real life, either. Soon, Millie will have to face her worst fear—intimacy—or risk losing her best friend, forever.

My Review:

This book is adorable, sparkly, delightful and giggly all rolled into one.  As a girl who has always been one of the guys... I related a lot with Millie.  I legitimately want to be in this group of friends!  The wit, love, loyalty and all around fun they have is heartwarming.

Listen, clearly we know how this book is going to end.  There's no doubt about it.  I've never had romance bloom from a friendship but it seems logical that the best ones come from these.  You should be able to be you fully with the one that you love.. and the one you love should also be your best friend!  I do know what it's like to be the only girl is a group of guy friends and it's easy, fun and completely different than what you get with a group of girls.

The dynamic in this group is a pure thing to witness.  Each one brings their own unique personalities to the group and there are some seriously hilarious scenes. Told in various formats such as group chats and direct messages, this is a perfect one to pick up when you need something light that gives you that nice cozy, warm feeling inside.

Christina Lauren is a definite go to for contemporary romance.  I will be looking for more buy this duo as I enjoyed this and Josh & Hazel's Guide to Not Dating immensely.


SPOTLIGHT: Brother John: A Monk, a Pilgrim, and the Purpose of Life by August Turak @annasacca @augustturak

Brother John:
A Monk, a Pilgrim, and the Purpose of Life 
by August Turak
Glenn Harrington (Illustrator)

Step into this Non-Fiction and recipient of the prestigious Templeton Prize illustrated book.
Continue below to learn more about the book, the author and watch promotional videos.

Publisher: Clovercroft Publishing
Publish Date: Octboer 21, 2018
48 Pages
Genres: Christian, Non-Fiction

Recipient of the prestigious Templeton Prize, Brother John is the true story of a meaningful encounter between a man going through a mid-life crisis, and an umbrella-wielding Trappist monk. This magical encounter on Christmas Eve eventually leads the author, and us all, to the redemptive power of an authentically purposeful life. Uplifting, deeply moving, and set in the magnificent Trappist monastery of Mepkin Abbey, Brother John is dramatically brought to life by over twenty full color paintings by Glenn Harrington, a multiple award-winning artist. Brother John's inspirational message takes place at Christmastime, and its inspirational message and rich illustrations are sure to bring the reader back again and again throughout the year.

About the Author:

August Turak is the author of Brother John: A Monk, a Pilgrim, and the Purpose of Life (Clovercroft Publishing), recipient of the prestigious Templeton PrizeTurak is an award-winning author, speaker, consultant and contributor for Forbes and the BBC. He is also the founder of the spiritual and educational nonprofit the Self Knowledge Symposium Foundation (SKSF). August retired as a successful entrepreneur and corporate executive. He attributes much of his success to living and working alongside the Trappist monks of Mepkin Abbey since 1996. As a frequent monastic guest, he learned firsthand from the monks as they grew an incredibly successful portfolio of businesses. His book, Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks, was published in 2013 by Columbia Business School Publishing. When he is not praying and working alongside the Trappist monks of Mepkin Abbey, he works with his nonprofit and lives on a seventy-five-acre farm near Raleigh, North Carolina. 

For more information, please visit and follow him on Twitter.

SPOTLIGHT: Dark of the West by Joanna Hathaway @torteen @hathawayjojo

Dark of the West
by Joanna Hathaway

First in a series, this new series brings a breathtaking YA fantasy debut.
Continue below to get the synopsis and read an excerpt from the book.

Publisher: Tor Teen
Publish Date: February 5, 2019
480 Pages
Series: Glass Alliance #1
Genres: YA, Fantasy

Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.

Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it—a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.


A tremor of anticipation wakes me before dawn. The eastern mountains have only just begun to glow, bringing with it the Safire arrival, and I sit in my bay window, silent, sketching the familiar view with lazy strokes of charcoal against blank paper. I feel mostly calm. Ready. But my stomach still feels like a knot, and I sing to myself in Resyan, distracting my nerves best I can.

“I am a mountain,” I whisper, “a song you remember.”

Invariably, my sketch changes to Liberty. The leafy branches become his mane and his eyes have hawks in them, wings spread. The poor stallion is still trapped in his stall, injured leg wrapped and splinted, and subtle despair tinges the groom’s reports. They’re leaving the decision up to Reni, the very worst idea. Reni won’t even speak of it. He pretends it never happened, refusing to visit the stables, and now the General is coming and everyone will forget suffering Liberty altogether.

I shade hard enough my pencil splinters.

Yesterday evening, Heathwyn lectured me on the protocol of this visit, rattling off the things to remember while a maid carefully manicured my nails, another one softening my hands with lavender-scented oil.

“All discussion with our visitors will be conducted in Landori, and you’re always to be pleasant and welcoming, no matter the attitude your brother adopts. And you be sure to offer the General the greatest respect. No commentary on Karkev or Thurn or anything contentious. Divert the conversation with a smile if you must, because your smile will be your greatest credit to this visit.”
I made sure to smile extra wide at that, and she clucked her tongue.

“Please, Aurelia, remember you will be watched every moment and your words and actions will reflect entirely on your mother. Reflect well, is that understood?”

She doesn’t know how well I understand that, how the weight of this visit feels like an entire secret world on my shoulders, one that no one else sees, and I promise to smile, smile, smile. Now, the morning sun shines fully and I strain my ears to listen for the sound of aeroplanes in the sky.

A slight impatience pricks inside.

Heathwyn arrives with warm bread and marmalade in hand, a nervous set to her lips, and I pick at the breakfast while she and another maidservant fuss with me—braiding my hair and pinning flowers, dabbing red on my lips and buttoning me into a sea-blue gown with ivory pearls—but in the end, it turns out well.

“The Safire won’t know where to look first,” Heathwyn says, studying me in the mirror, pleased. “You or your mother.”

“I’m sure it will be Violet’s breasts,” I reply with a grin.

Heathwyn clucks her tongue yet again, but Heathwyn hasn’t seen Violet’s chosen gown for today. I have, and so has Reni, and it certainly leaves only the most critical things to the imagination.

“Aurelia, such comments won’t—”

Her rebuttal is cut off by a growl that rattles the very window panes. It’s a fierce sound, echoing harshly off the mountains, passing close overhead. I rush for the window and press my face to the glass, trying to peer up, and Heathwyn tells me to stop because I’ll rub the pink off my cheeks. But there they are! Two Safire fighter planes circling low, flashing brilliant silver in the morning sun. They’re all sharp angles and grey metal compared to the smooth curves of our green Etanian planes, their ferocious noise carrying, surrounding us, seeming to grow with each moment like there are at least ten more hidden out of sight. One loops higher, playful in the morning sky. Black swords wink from the underside of the wings as he spins. Easy and graceful, like a falcon, before diving low again and rejoining his friend. Together, they arc towards the western airfield.

“Stars,” Reni says, appearing suddenly behind me. I step back, giving him space to look as well.
 “They’re moving at quite a speed, aren’t they?” He cranes his neck as they disappear from sight.

“Have you ever seen anything like it?” I ask.

“I have. It was at a circus, and everyone was dressed in ridiculous colours and acting like fools.”

I swipe at his arm. “I hope those aren’t your opening remarks to the General.” I notice, then, that nestled against his elegant green coat is a ceremonial pistol. “And I hope you’re planning to take that off.”

“It’s custom,” Reni replies. “Father wore his to every diplomatic function.”

“But we’re insisting the Safire remove theirs. It doesn’t look right if we refuse to do the same!”

Reni shrugs. “Dogs are muzzled, not royalty.”

On that vain note, he marches back for the hall, waving for me, and I say a quick, fervent prayer to my father that Reni doesn’t begin a whole war in one day.

Outside, the west entrance of the palace is bright with sun, its honey-coloured walls almost a glare. Etanian and Safire flags dance in the thick mountain wind, displayed in hopeful unity, and courtiers wait along the wide stone steps with chiffon skirts blowing, music sparkling amid the excitement. All eyes are on the long runway before us.

Reni and I stand on either side of Mother as she waits quietly, regally, at the top of the open-air steps in a maroon gown trimmed with gold, her chin raised and my father’s crown glimmering on her black hair. It’s a rare occasion for her to wear it. But today it gleams, luminous as her, a glorious reminder to the kingdom that there is nothing to fear and she rules in splendour. But there’s still a tiny tremor nearly hidden. She fingers the lace detailing of her skirt, and I wish I could squeeze her hand in reassurance.

On the tarmac, the two Safire fighters have landed, silver pipes along their nose trailing exhaust. The wind smells strongly of petrol and smoke. In the distant sky, a larger aeroplane appears, wide-winged and imposing. We watch it lower, hitting the runway with a high-pitched screech. It’s very large, propellers on either side, and the wings rattle as it brakes, swaying side to side slightly. There’s a fox-and-crossed-swords crest painted on the flank, and everyone lining the steps ceases their chatter, tilting their heads, whispering now as if their words might already be heard by the General himself.
One of the Safire pilots leaps down from his now idle fighter. His red hair is a blaze in the sun. The second pilot walks over, and they light up their cigarettes without even a glance at the royal court waiting nearby. Etanian ground crew attempt to speak to them, but they ignore it, striding for the large plane, trailing smoke like their fighters.

Mother flicks her hand. The royal guards on the tarmac come to attention.

Safire uniforms emerge from the General’s plane as the metallic creature hisses in the sun, steel and aluminum pieces settling. They march down the stairs, appearing confident, but none of them look quite like General Dakar—at least, not as far as I know. I’ve only ever seen a few distant photographs in the newspapers. It’s not until the two Safire pilots stamp out their cigarettes and straighten that I think we must be nearly to him. A man with dark skin appears at the top of the stairs. His uniform’s richly medaled, his head swiveling round to take in the runway and palace.

“Admiral Malek,” I hear one lord say knowingly to a nearby friend.

Then the Admiral is down the stairs and another tall, grey-clad shape looms in the door of the plane.
The General, at last.

He pauses there for a long, weighted moment, surveying the world before him. His gaze moves from the line of royal guards to the stone steps and then on up to Mother beneath the arched facade. He smiles.

Descending the stairs, he greets Lord Marcin and Lord Jerig with handshakes. They both put on a good show, thank the stars, then Admiral Malek and the General walk across the tarmac together, the General offering those he passes a formal, yet affable, nod.

When they stride up the palace steps, he’s still wearing his polite smile, and Mother returns it. It’s her polished one that radiates certainty. The General drops into a short bow before us. The rest of his Safire party, following behind, does the same.

“Your Majesty,” he says. “At last we’ve arrived. We’re honoured to be your guests.”

Mother dips her chin in respect. “You’re most welcome in Etania, General. The honour is ours.”

Monday, December 10, 2018

REVIEW: Nocturnal Blood by Villimey Mist

Nocturnal Blood 
by Villimey Mist

Huge thank you to fellow Bookstagrammer for this amazing copy of her debut novel!
Vampires, blood and a journey - loved it.. see my full thoughts below.

Publish Date: December 16, 2018
Kindle Edition
248 Pages
Genre: Horror

Anchorage, Alaska. A place where people don't care if someone goes missing. A place where Leia Walker tries her hardest to hide from the world, wanting a normal life without anxiety and OCD.

But Leia's bubble pops when an old friend is back in town and twists Leia’s reality . A bloody event proves what Leia is scared to learn—Sophie Gardner, her old high school friend and saviour from the bullies, is a vampire.

Forced to run away with Sophie, Leia's life takes a terrifying turn when vampires and hunters come after them.

The only thing preventing them from losing themselves is their friendship..

But will it be enough to escape the inevitable blood bath?

My Review:

I always get nervous reading a fellow Bookstagrammer's book - especially a debut novel at that. But how do you turn down a book about vampires? I mean, you just don't. A girl just trying to survive bullying in high school and life with her anxiety and OCD... enter someone who finally sticks up for her... a friend, the first person outside of her family that she trusts.... then that person disappears only to arrive back into her life with a bloody (literally) bang!

At first I wasn't entirely sure where this book was going to go.  They're off and things keep happening left and right but where is the story actually going to head? Then it all comes together and I've gotta say, I was INVOLVED. Leia grew on me like mold on bread.... or something better... like moss on a stone... whatever, you know what I'm trying to say.

Listen y'all.  This isn't just a vampire book, this is a story of getting over your fears, trust, a bond between two people and the lengths you'll go to help someone... and the journey along the way.  The build of Leia and Sophie's relationship was fantastic to see grow page by page and I really loved some of the secondary characters as well.  Though I'll tell you what, anytime a hotel seems like the deal is too good to be true, your bet your ass I'm fleeing to the next establishment! 

I don't know if it's that the writing got better as the book continued, if I was just getting more involved with the characters or if it was the wine I was drinking in honor of the blood being spilt amongst the pages... but I found myself thoroughly involved into the second half.

A solid, thundering bloody good debut novel.  (seven claps 😉)


Saturday, December 8, 2018

REVIEW: My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite @doubledaybooks @OyinBraithwaite

My Sister, the Serial Killer


Thanks so much to Stacey for sending me this amazing read!

Publisher: Doubleday Books
Publish Date: November 20, 2018
226 Pages
Genre: Psychological Thriller

Satire meets slasher in this short, darkly funny hand grenade of a novel about a Nigerian woman whose younger sister has a very inconvenient habit of killing her boyfriends.

"Femi makes three, you know. Three and they label you a serial killer."

Korede is bitter. How could she not be? Her sister, Ayoola, is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola's third boyfriend in a row is dead. Korede's practicality is the sisters' saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood, the trunk of her car is big enough for a body, and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures of her dinner to Instagram when she should be mourning her "missing" boyfriend. Not that she gets any credit.

A kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where Korede works, is the bright spot in her life. She dreams of the day when he will realize they're perfect for each other. But one day Ayoola shows up to the hospital uninvited and he takes notice. When he asks Korede for Ayoola's phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and what she will do about it.

Sharp as nails and full of deadpan wit, Oyinkan Braithwaite has written a deliciously deadly debut that's as fun as it is frightening.

My Review:

The book community is fantastic.  One of the many reasons is that your book friends will send you a book (thank you, Stacey) and then another will buddy read it with you (thank you, Robin)!  This was the fastest buddy read ever!

This book is packed full of goodness at just over 200 pages.  I don't have any siblings but those that I consider family have my fullest loyalty - I could only imagine what I would do for an actual blood related sibling knowing how far I'd go for the others I consider family. 

Here's the thing - this book reads fast - it's easily a one sit read even for those who normally don't read that voraciously.  Two sisters.  One killer.  One clean up.  Lots of craziness.  And that ending.  Look, I had to go back and reread it because I wanted to make sure I wasn't missing anything. Thank goodness for discussions!  I'll just give you the same advice I received... don't overthink it. 

I highly recommend this book.  Pick it up and don't plan to put it down until you're finished. 


BLOG TOUR & REVIEW: The Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson @GalleryBooks @teriwilsonauthr

The Accidental Beauty Queen
by Teri Wilson

Thank so much to Gallery Books for this free book and stop on the blog tour.

Publisher: Gallery Books
Publish Date: December 4, 2018
304 Pages
Genres: Romance, Contemporary

Charlotte Gorman loves her job as an elementary school librarian, and is content to experience life through the pages of her books. Which couldn’t be more opposite from her identical twin sister. Ginny, an Instagram-famous beauty pageant contestant, has been chasing a crown since she was old enough to enunciate the words world peace, and she’s not giving up until she gets the title of Miss American Treasure. And Ginny’s refusing to do it alone this time.

She drags Charlotte to the pageant as a good luck charm, but the winning plan quickly goes awry when Ginny has a terrible, face-altering allergic reaction the night before the pageant, and Charlotte suddenly finds herself in a switcheroo the twins haven’t successfully pulled off in decades.

Woefully unprepared for the glittery world of hair extensions, false eyelashes, and push-up bras, Charlotte is mortified at every unstable step in her sky-high stilettos. But as she discovers there’s more to her fellow contestants than just wanting a sparkly crown, Charlotte realizes she has a whole new motivation for winning.

About the Author:

Teri Wilson is the author/creator of the Hallmark Channel Original Movies Unleashing Mr. Darcy, Marrying Mr. Darcy, and The Art of Us, as well as a fourth Hallmark movie currently in development. Teri is a double finalist in the prestigious 2018 RWA RITA awards for her novels The Princess Problem and Royally Wed. Teri also writes an offbeat fashion column for the royal blog What Would Kate Do and is a frequent guest contributor for its sister site, Meghan’s Mirror. She’s been a contributor for both HelloGiggles and Teen Vogue, covering books, pop culture, beauty, and everything royal. In 2017, she served as a national judge for the Miss United States pageant in Orlando, Florida, and has since judged in the Miss America system. She has a major weakness for cute animals, pretty dresses, Audrey Hepburn films, and good books. Visit her at or on Twitter @TeriWilsonAuthr.

My Review:

This is the exact kind of read I need between all my twisted thriller and horror. Something light and fluffy - and yet somehow got me emotional. What the hell, Wilson?!

Look, I'm gonna be straight up. This book is predictable from beginning to end. But you know what? WHO CARES! Twins. Both have their strengths. One seemingly shines brighter. They trade places... things go wrong. An absolutely addictive read and while I never wanted a French bulldog before, I kind of do now... and name him Fang!

At times, I felt it read a bit YA. I don't know if it's because of the beauty queen thing that for some reason makes me think of younger girls rather than adults most of the time or the sister rivalry or exactly what kept making me feel this way. I had to keep reminding myself that they were adults. Oh, but excuse me while I get some ice.. because apparently every time I got to a hotel room I'll be going out to get some ice from now on and … well, you'll just have to read this book.

I got a warm feeling in my chest when Where The Red Fern Grows was mentioned because it's my all time favorite book and quite frankly, any author who can reference that, somehow put together a heart warming contemporary romance that actually got me a little misty eyed at the end... Well shit. I'm done. Fork. Timer going off. Done. I really do wish real life emulated books sometimes.

Yeah, I'd definitely recommend. Hi Wilson, you just made a new fan.


Friday, December 7, 2018

REVIEW: The Woman Inside by E.G. Scott @duttonbooks @egscottwrites

The Woman Inside
by E.G. Scott

Thanks so much to Dutton for this amazing psychological thriller!

Publisher: Dutton
Publish Date: January 22, 2019
336 Pages
Genre: Psychological Thriller

Rebecca didn’t know love was possible until she met Paul, a successful, charismatic, married man with a past as dark as her own. Their pain drew them together with an irresistible magnetism; they sensed that they were each other’s ideal (and perhaps only) match.

But twenty years later, Paul and Rebecca are drowning as the damage and secrets that ignited their love begin to consume their marriage. Paul is cheating on Rebecca, and his affair gets messy fast. His mistress is stalking them with growing audacity when Rebecca discovers Paul’s elaborate plan to build a new life without her. And though Rebecca is spiraling into an opiate addiction, it doesn’t stop her from coming up with a devious plot of her own, and this one could end absolutely everything.

What follows is an unpredictable and stylish game of cat and mouse—a shocking tale of unfaithfulness and unreliability that will keep you racing until the final twist and make you wonder how well you really know your spouse.

My Review:

Infidelity and an opioid  addiction - sounds like a recipe for... disaster! If you date a married man, end up marrying him and find out he's cheating on you, are you really that surprised? What happens when the woman he's having an affair with turns out to be crazier than you? Is it the opioids that are driving you mad or are things really as fucked up as they appear?

The first part of this book had me turning pages like a madwoman.  They got me, hook, line and pill popping! Look, the only characters with any redeeming qualities are the detectives.. and even they have their own issues (though I did like their banter a lot).  From the various perspectives that we get, we see that no one is in their right mind and things are just going to get crazier by the minute.

This is a highly addictive read.  Prepare to suspend some belief, grab a hammer and pound away at this book.  I did think it went a teeny bit overboard at the end... but it was also extremely fitting considering the level of insanity that this book contains.  Personally, I love it.  Give me crazy.  Give me unpredictability.  Let me ride the insanity carousel.

Side note: While I'm happy to see the trend of "if you love Gone Girl or Girl on a Train you'll love this" them going away, I'm getting a bit exhausted of seeing "an unputdownable" or "impossible-to-put-down" thriller in the tag lines for thrillers these days. 🤷

If you want to see just how crazy can get, if you need a reason to not cheat on your partner, not pop pills or to put your hammers away, well, get in on this.  Welcome to the world of Paul and Rebecca.  Buckle yourself in, this crazy is a bumpy ride!


Thursday, December 6, 2018

The Mansion by Ezekiel Boone @atriabooks @atriamysterybus @ezekiel_boone #allthebookreviews

The Mansion 
by Ezekiel Boone

Thanks so much to Atria Books and NetGalley for these copies.  
After the Hatching trilogy we have been DYING to see what Boone had for us next - see what Jessica and I thought about this one below....

Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Publish Date: December 4, 2018
Kindle Edition
432 Pages
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction

After two years of living on cheap beer and little else in a bitterly cold tiny cabin outside an abandoned, crumbling mansion, young programmers Shawn Eagle and Billy Stafford have created something that could make them rich: a revolutionary computer they name Eagle Logic.

But the hard work and escalating tension have not been kind to their once solid friendship—Shawn’s girlfriend Emily has left him for Billy, and a third partner has disappeared under mysterious circumstances. While Billy walks away with Emily, Shawn takes Eagle Logic, which he uses to build a multi-billion-dollar company that eventually outshines Apple, Google, and Microsoft combined.

Years later, Billy is a failure, beset by poverty and addiction, and Shawn is the most famous man in the world. Unable to let the past be forgotten, Shawn decides to resurrect his and Billy’s biggest failure: a next-generation computer program named Nellie that can control a house’s every function. He decides to set it up in the abandoned mansion they worked near all those years ago. But something about Nellie isn’t right—and the reconstruction of the mansion is plagued by accidental deaths. Shawn is forced to bring Billy back, despite their longstanding mutual hatred, to discover and destroy the evil that lurks in the source code.

My Review:

I absolutely love the author's spider apocalypse trilogy and couldn't wait to see what else he was going to throw at us and here it is! Something completely different from his other work and I enjoyed it immensely.

Billy's drawn back to this mansion that him and his ex (and soon to be again) business partner and friend, Shawn, lived for a couple of winters, because he's down on his luck and has royally fucked up his life on booze and drugs.  His marriage is about to fall apart and his wife has no idea how far they really are in debt.  Cue Shawn's intervention to bring him back for a ton of money to fix the glitch in Nellie, this book's version of Siri or Cortana, amplified.

Got that? Good.  Now that I've basically regurgitated the synopsis to you - let's talk about the insides.  Personally, I was hooked and didn't want to put this book down. I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end.  Yes, there are moments where you get that Shining feeling because of a lot of similarities... a LOT.. but here's the thing for me:  The Shining dragged for me.  While The Mansion did take a little bit to get somewhere and I kept waiting for Nellie to really shine through (see what I did there?), I was pretty much glued to the pages.  I enjoyed the past and present views of the main characters.  I didn't care about the all too often used love triangle.  I don't know you guys, this one just kind of spoke to me.  Was it creepy? No.  Did it scare me? No. Would I ever live in a house that was (supposedly) that technologically advanced? I'll say no but who really knows.  I already got freaked about robot security at the airport so it's hard to say.

This read a bit like a mix of The Girl Before meets The Shining.  What Boone excels at his character development and you're going to get more of that than the sci-fi/horror aspect.  I wish I had a little more to go on with Nellie and even with the Twins but overall, I'm pretty satiated with this.  Don't expect it to be like The Hatching series - this is a complete 180 from that.

Sci-fi/technology thriller is where I would classify this one. 


Jessica's Review:

From the author that brought us a spider apocalypse (still can't believe I was able to read those) comes a book that people are comparing to The Shining but with a modern twist. I can definitely see the parallels between these two stories.

Billy has messed up his life due to drugs and alcohol - he is struggling and his wife has no idea how bad it truly is. In comes Shawn, Billy's ex business partner. Shawn has an offer to go back into business together again and go back to a hotel they previously stayed at for a few winters. Why are they going back? There are some repairs that need to be done to Nellie (think Siri, Cortana, or Alexa).

There were some moments that felt a little slow on the pacing but I was fascinated and wanted to see how the author was going to incorporate the smart house concept. This is taking the haunted house idea and giving it a completely modern feel. I think that the smart houses are something I would personally avoid having - I don't need everything controlled by my phone. It made me think to my poli-sci classes and how my professor would go on and on about how awful things would be and the likelihood of something going awry (hacking into the systems or the program doing what Nellie did).

I wouldn't classify this as a straight up horror novel - more like a suspense novel. There are definitely sci-fi themes to this as well. If you're expecting horror like The Shining then you might be disappointed, but there are strong vibes from the King novel and definite inspirations.

Overall, I really enjoyed the concept and how the author wove together the past and present for the characters. Of course there's a love triangle that gets involved, but that doesn't become the focus. If you enjoyed Boone's Hatching trilogy, then you will love his new standalone.

4/5 stars

SPOTLIGHT: Becoming Starlight by Sharon Prentice @annasacca @seprentice

Becoming Starlight
by Sharon Prentice, Raymond A. Moody Jr.

You've heard of a Near Death Experience - now take a look inside The Shared Death Experience!

Continue below to learn more about the book, watch the trailer and read an excerpt!

Publisher: Waterside Press
Publish Date: May 8, 2018
220 Pages

The Shared Death Experience (SDE). Most people know of or know someone who has experienced a Near Death Experience (NDE), but very few have heard of the SDE. The SDE is similar to the NDE except that it occurs not to the person who is dying, but to their loved one who is physically well. That person could be sitting right next to their loved one, or sitting across the room, or even across the globe unaware of the impending death of someone they love. Location or activity level is of no consequence to the SDE. That person, the loved one, is "invited along" to witness the aftermath of physical death. The invitation extended has no RSVP--the person accompanying the dying individual can neither accept nor refuse--they are just "taken" or "given" the experience by powers outside of their control. Becoming Starlight is one of those stories. It is a story filled with the type of pitfalls that accompany much of mankind on the journey through existence. Deeply embedded in Starlight is an ongoing war with death, faith, and hope- and with God--a war most of us have experienced or will experience in our lifetimes. Becoming Starlight is a story that has been written, in one way or another, since the beginning of time. The war between life and death--who lives and who dies and why they die--is at the heart of this deeply personal experience. It's a life-and-death struggle with spiritual darkness and loss of faith. It is a story not unlike the stories of anyone who has loved and lost, grieved and sorrowed, felt anguish and rage, fallen from Grace and questioned the very existence of God. The specifics are different, but the humanity splattered on the human soul and on every page is the same as that of any life lived fully. Some find redemption more easily than I. It took a complete fall from grace for me to be awakened from the trauma and darkness that had found its way into my life, and it took an unexpected encounter - an SDE -- to bring me into the arms of God, where I finally found the solace and understanding that I had yearned for. "Becoming Starlight" is the "Lifting of the Veil" that led to a peek into foreverness and to the compassion of a loving God. Dr. Prentice's book is a thought-provoking advance that can help bring about progress toward rational enlightenment on the afterlife question. What you will read here opens many new avenues for thinking about humankind's deepest mystery. Hold onto your hat when you read this book. Becoming Starlight is truly sensational; everybody who is seriously interested in the question of life after death should read it. -Raymond Moody, M.D., Ph.D., author of Life After Life, Reunions, and Glimpses of Eternity.

Becoming Starlight

Excerpted from Becoming Starlight: A Shared Death Journey from Darkness to Light by Sharon Prentice, PhD. Copyright © 2018 by Sharon Prentice.

Heaven. There are many different words for it in many different languages. And each day, it’s a “place” that’s referred to more than any other in the world. Why? Every single race, religion, ethnicity, and culture—members of each one believe in the concept of Heaven. Religious scholars and philosophers have debated, argued, and fought over the very nature of Heaven since time immemorial and they have written reams and reams of papers about it and stockpiled book after book on library shelves for millennia.  

But it’s not the conversations or writings of the religious scholars or philosophers that touch the true nature of “that place.” It’s the conversations that take place in the hospices, hospitals, ICU’s and funerals of the world that take us into the soul of humanity and, therefore –into Heaven. It’s in times of great personal trauma that many of these discussions take place. And, sometimes, these private moments can become very heated due to the stress and fear that exist in the trying moments before the death of a loved one. Once the word “Heaven” is spoken out loud, the underlying, unacknowledged, unspoken word that goes with it is death. Fear that death is near--especially in the waiting rooms of the ICU--prompts exchanges that are not normally heard in everyday family life.

When “the end” is near, people shy away from using the word “death”; their conversation will, instead, turn to the “place” where their loved one “is going” and to each person’s individual interpretation of exactly what and where Heaven is--and everyone has their own “truth.”   Listening to, and being part of these conversations, is both joyous and heart wrenching as families try to come to terms with exactly “where” their loved one will be after they die. This conversation is repeated countless times, every single day, all over the globe.

The conflict begins the very minute someone questions the interpretation of another. In these moments of great tragedy, having one’s viewpoint understood and accepted as truth--the only truth--is vitally important to each person’s peace of mind. Therein lies the problem. The discussion turns to debate--then to all-out disagreement.

I understand the conflict. Over the years, I have shared my SDE with many friends, colleagues, and mentors, and my explanations and descriptions have sometimes caused heated debate among them. I have spoken to individuals from all walks of life, from all the great religions of the world, from every background and school of thought, and every one of them had their own version of what “truth” should “be” or “is.” While all their “truths” were different, they did have a unifying thread--a belief in an afterlife. “Heaven” and “Hell” were central to every debate and the descriptions of these “places” were similar in both nature and belief.

In the course of these debates and conversations, I have been asked to explain “where” I was taken, what I meant by “I became Starlight,” and to describe exactly what “God” looked like. It is so very difficult to accurately relay my experience because I must rely on “words.” To use words such as “majestic, magnificent, purity defined, peaceful, still, home” dulls the experience because of the mere fact that labeling it--using words to describe the indescribable--just doesn’t do the SDE justice. To characterize the face of God, the touch of God, is tantamount to explaining perfection itself--how can it be done?  How do you depict an emanation of love and joy combined with otherworldly purity? How do you describe an ethereal form that consists of pure light? The “how” lies in the experience itself as given to you by God Himself--His face, His thoughts, His Word engraved upon your heart--how do you give voice to that feeling?

The “how” lies hidden in the vision, the “feeling” of pure Spirit–the soul must feel its way through to see perfection without being polluted by the scripts we grew up identifying with and falling victim to. “God looked like love I have never experienced before” has always been my answer. There are some feelings and thoughts that can never be expressed--words don’t exist to describe them. Our own humanity puts locks on the words felt in the Soul. The physicality of God’s appearance—it simply wasn’t important. I felt absolutely no curiosity about it--His touch was just too all-consuming and comforting to think of anything else. Perhaps one day, someone will invent a word that accurately depicts “the pure light that is love” that will get us one step closer to seeing His perfection.

Once the head shaking stops from my lack of a physical description, the conversation turns to “where” was I? Most organized religion tells us that God is “separate” from us, that He lives somewhere “out there,” above the clouds in a place called Heaven. Religion teaches us that God is the creator and final arbiter of the rights and wrongs of living and that we all will surely answer to Him for all our wrong doings. And just as we’ve been told who and what God is, we’ve also been told what “heaven” is, in descriptive terms that everyone can visualize. Heaven is a specific place, the likes of which there is no equal. It is an “other” world, out there somewhere, filled with everything wonderful and beautiful, full of creature comforts that we only dream about. Mansions line golden streets encrusted with pearls and diamonds, and everyone has everything they ever wanted--and everyone who was the best “good little boy or girl” has even bigger and better things than those who weren’t quite as good in this life. We earn that mansion on that particular street in that particular neighborhood by the things we do or believe or by the things we don’t do or don’t believe while living on this earth. Sounds like a bigger and better version of life here, doesn’t it? I fully accepted that version, that description of Heaven given to me as a child. The innocence of childhood demands “pictures” we can understand. Adjectives that paint a picture of a human paradise comfort and console us when we think of death--ours or anyone else’s.

But that is not what I found in “that place” among my stars. Was there physicality, a form, a space--a specific place that could be described? I can’t say there was! What I found, and felt, instead, in the place where I was held, was magnificence itself: Pure Starlight--and God Himself. And the most amazing surprise of all--I found the “me” as God intended me to be from the moment He formed me in my mother’s womb--before this world got ahold of me and slapped labels on me that told me who to “be” and what to believe. But in “that place,” I found myself as a magnificent extension of God. My answer to the question, “What does God look like?” has always been the same: to describe God, I would be describing my own Soul. And to describe “that place” requires a complete letting go of everything that any logic and human reasoning would dictate.

The very essence of God, of Heaven, was in and of that Starlight. I discovered--no, I just knew--that there is nowhere that God is not. He is in and of everything that has ever existed. There is nothing that He is not. There is no place that He is not. If it exists, it is a part of Him--His thoughts created everything, including every one of us. We exist purely because he thought of each one of us. We are the physical forms of His thoughts. We are his creations--part of a whole that we can’t perceive. We are all intricately combined as one thought of God but gloriously separate as individuals for some reason unknown to us--but known to Him from the moment He gave each of us life.

About the Author:

Dr. Sharon Prentice is the author of Becoming Starlight: A Shared Death Journey from Darkness to Light. Soon after completing her graduate studies in psychology, Dr. Prentice longed to discover “the why’s” about her own intimate experience with death in the form of an SDE, and that of others who had experienced something “weird, unbelievable, odd” at the time of the death of a loved one. Dr. Prentice is in private practice as a Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor - Advanced Certification. She is also a Board Certified Spiritual Counselor (SC-C) and holds Board Certification in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Group Therapy, Integrated Marriage and Family Therapy, and Crisis and Abuse Therapy. She is also a Board Certified Temperament Counselor. Dr. Prentice is a Professional Member of the American Counselors Association, a Professional Clinical member of the National Christian Counselors Association, a Clinical member of the American Mental Health Counselors Association, and a Presidential member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. She is also a Commissioned Minister of Pastoral Care.

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