October Book Reviews, Part II

Happy Halloween! Bwa-ha-ha-ha. My 60-book Autumn Reading Challenge is stumbling along. I’ve read and reviewed 21 books so far.

October’s Part II book reviews includes my  4 and 5 star reads of fantasy, sci-fi, short stories, women’s lit, an exploration of spiritual landscapes, and a guide for new educators! I hope you enjoy the browse.

Click on the covers for Amazon global links.

*****

Heir of Doom by Jina S. Bazzar

It’s been a while since I read Heir of Ashes, the first Roxanne Fosch novel. This one reminded me how much I enjoyed this kick-ass female character, as well as Bazzar’s complex world-building. This book picks up where the last left off. Roxanne is training with the hunters, but her halfbreed status will always leave her an outsider. When a young girl goes missing, Roxanne’s clan singles her out for blame. It’s a set up, and she has two weeks to find the child or face execution.

The pace moves quickly, and the action is well done. Danger is Roxanne’s constant companion and it’s hard to know who she can trust among these powerful and ruthless preternatural beings. Across the board, the characters are compelling, demanding, and rather scary. I’d last about 2 minutes with this bunch. Roxanne is tough! But she has a soft side too that puts the reader solidly on her team.

The world-building around the story is complex. There are multiple dimensions, magic talents, preternatural beings, clans and hierarchies and histories. I recommend reading the series from the beginning in order to absorb the backstory as its shared and to get a grasp on the large number of characters and their roles. The book ends with a cliffhanger, so you’ll want to keep going onto Book 3. Recommended for readers of urban fantasy and paranormal thrillers. 

*****

The Vintage Egg by A. C. Flory

A. C. Flory writes some great sci-fi, and though I’ve read her novels, this was my first experience with her short stories. Her imagination and polished writing skills never disappoint, and these six stories are original and entertaining. My favorite tale was broken into two parts—The Vintage Egg and Egg Run—which bookend the other offerings. I also thoroughly enjoyed The Christmas Roast. I read this collection in under an hour and highly recommend it. A great peek at acflory’s writing talent.

*****

My Baby Wrote Me A Letter by Jacquie Biggars

Grace’s mother, Beth, disappeared when Grace was 5 years old. For most of their lives, Grace and her older brothers believed that their mother had abandoned them. Their father, Ray, had been stuck in Vietnam at the time, and he blames himself for the hardships his wife endured without him. All grown up and 8-1/2 months pregnant, Grace travels with her father to visit her brothers, and Ray brings a letter discovered in an old desk. The truth changes everything.

This short story is full of grief, anger, and self-blame. It also has plenty of humor along with lots of sibling banter. The deep camaraderie and caring between the siblings felt both authentic and poignant to me. A quick heartwarming tale with great characters and a message about the resilience of family and the power of love.

*****

A Home for Her Daughter by Jill Weatherholt

The reading of a will reunites two old friends who must work together in order to take advantage of a generous inheritance. Janie, the mother of a little girl named Riley, has a secret—she’s just left an abusive marriage. But she’s not the only one with a painful past. Drew’s wife and daughter died in a car accident, and he blames himself for falling asleep at the wheel.

The characters are endearing, and they become increasingly closer as they face the challenges of fulfilling the will’s requirements and accepting their past mistakes. This is the perfect book for romance readers who appreciate cute kids and a sweet tale of second chances.

*****

The Initiate by Sue Vincent and Stuart France

This is the first book in the Triad of Albion series which chronicles the explorations of Don and Wen through some of the old churches and ancient ruins of the UK, a journey “beyond the realms of accustomed normality.” It’s an erudite read, abounding with spiritual symbolism that weaves connections between Egyptian and Christian mythology, the ancient landscape and its lore, numerology, astrology, tarot, and other esoteric studies.

Essentially a true story, the characters’ discussions of their discoveries are accompanied by photographs. Images are also the basis for a series of reflective poems at the end of the book. I found the read dense with information, sometimes beyond my grasp, but with enough gentle humor and personality to keep me engaged. The authors’ knowledge of lore, history, and symbolism is highly impressive. Recommended to readers interested in the “deeper truths of existence… and opening wide the doors of perception.”

*****

They Call Me Mom by Pete Springer

I was impressed with this highly accessible, entertaining, and informative read. A long-time educator, Springer shares his practical experience and the wisdom gleaned from working with children within the educational system. My impression was that the book is geared toward new teachers as it offers ideas about setting up a classroom, dealing with colleagues, administrators, students, and parents.

As an early childhood mental health counselor, I was most interested in Springer’s thoughts about discipline. I was glad to discover a thoughtful, holistic approach to children and their challenges in light of the stressors in their lives. Springer highlights a number of strategies that would be helpful to parents as well as to educators.

Most of the chapters provide concrete and anecdotal examples of Springer’s approach in action. He touches on cultural diversity, grief, problem-solving, and other life experiences that are part of a child’s broader education. My favorite chapters were Memorable Students and Funny Moments at School. These two chapters are testaments to his success as an educator as well as to the joy and value of teaching in general.

*****

Tales from the Annex by Audrey Driscoll

I jumped into this collection of stories despite never having read H.P. Lovecraft or Driscoll’s novels based on the HPL character Herbert West. That may have been a mistake since the first seven stories are “by products” of Driscoll’s Herbert West novels. Without knowledge of the original stories, I had a difficult time following the narratives.

Don’t get me wrong. Driscoll is talented, and these are beautifully written tales. The prose is polished, and the characters have distinct voices and believable sentiments. I’d characterize the style as literary fiction with a turn-of-the-century tone. I suspect that Herbert West fans will appreciate the connections.

The final five stories are stand-alone speculative fiction tales, and I thoroughly enjoyed them. My favorites were The Colour of Magic and A Howling in the Woods, though I recommend them all. Each tale is unique, and they range from creepy to bone-chilling!

*****

Fireborn by Trent McDonald

Dr. Elliot Everett-Jones has a semi-scholarly knowledge of ancient Celtic myths, and when his archeologist brother unearths a giant cauldron in the English countryside, Elliot is intrigued. When naked blue zombies, berserkers, and goonies start popping up around the world and going on killing sprees, Elliot searches for the mythological keys to their destruction.

I prefer a more cohesive plot with less wandering and more foreshadowing, but there are intriguing elements to the story—specifically some exploration of Arthurian legends, including Excalibur and the Lady of the Lake. I also enjoyed the human relationships, particularly between Elliot, his ex-wife, and his brother. The relationships felt natural, and the dialog was well done. These were the scenes where I felt the most connected to the characters’ emotional life and reality.

Otherwise, the book requires a willing suspension of disbelief on multiple levels. Elliot becomes the Merlin of the story, and there’s a fair amount of magical dreaming, mind reading, and implausible fighting skills. The battle scenes are well written, though Elliot’s final solution seemed a bit out of the blue. Recommended for readers who enjoy slightly campy stories and are interested in Arthurian legends, evil kings, and battles with zombies.

*****

Happy Reading!

139 thoughts on “October Book Reviews, Part II

  1. Sarah says:

    Ooh! The Initiative sounds right up my street what with Egyptian mythology, folklore and astrology!
    By the way – scrolling through your posts backwards makes you a reader who manages less and less books in your Autumn challenge – hehe! 😁😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. […] November 9, 2020November 9, 2020 Stuart France October 31, 2020 […]

    Liked by 1 person

  3. da-AL says:

    much enjoyed this 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I thought I followed everyone’s blog promotions, but I missed A.C. Flory’s – and I love her sci fi/fantasy writing. I just purchased her book of short stories for my Kindle (I first “discovered” her series through you, and loved all of her books). Jill’s book I read and reviewed also. I bet the sweetness in Jill’s story took calmed down some of your shivers from the scary/fantasy books. Your reviews are marvelous. I just put Pete Springer’s paperback in my Amazon cart – thanks for the reminder. I’ve been wanting to read it, and I realize it would be a perfect holiday gift for my daughter’s in-laws – who we’re great friends with – since they are both retired elementary school teachers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for stopping by Pam. I think you’ll enjoy Andrea’s short stories. She’s such a wonderful writer. As is Jill. And your daughter’s in-laws should get a kick out of Pete’s books – especially the funny parts. I’ll bet it will bring up their own fun memories. This was an eclectic bunch of reads from out talented community. I just love sharing them. Have a lovely day, my dear friend. ❤

      Like

  5. Darlene says:

    Some great books here and wonderful reviews. Thanks for sharing. Many on my list TBR!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. […] Visit Myths of the Mirror to read all Diana’s October Reviews […]

    Liked by 2 people

  7. nissitee says:

    Hi, I’m new here and I love your content. Please follow back☺️

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Teri Polen says:

    You’ve been busy, Diana – nice variety and fab reviews!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Meg says:

    Now that it’s starting to be stay-inside weather this looks like a great list to get started with. The big question is – which one first??

    Liked by 1 person

  10. inese says:

    Great reviews and interesting selection, Diana. Sci-fi book captured my attention 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Prior... says:

    Wow – nice selections here 😉
    📚📚📚
    Hope your fall season is going well
    🍁🍂🍁🍂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. dgkaye says:

    I knew I’d be in trouble when I read the header, lol. Just picked up Jaquie’s book and must get to Pete’s book. Thanks Diana. I love your recommends. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  13. You did it again, Diana, read, and reviewed 8 more books. What a selection of different genres. You’re an example of reading everything, not just your first preference. Thank you for posting these reviews from many authors familiar to me. I’ve reviewed Pete’s book and have a few other books on my Kindle.

    Last night was supposed to have a Blue Full Moon on Halloween, but it was cloudy, so I couldn’t see the moon. We usually had cars bringing kids from who-knows-where to our neighborhood for trick-or-treating, but no kids came to the door last night.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for taking a peek at the reviews, Miriam. My preference is speculative fiction, but I enjoy broadening my horizons too. And it’s fun to read the books of authors I know. It was cloudy and quiet here too. Hopefully Halloween will resume next year. ❤ Have a wonderful November!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Jan Sikes says:

    Fantastic reviews, Diana! Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for browsing, Jan. I have to read 39 books over the next 7-1/2 weeks to achieve my challenge. Um… that’s going to be tough. Lol. But I’ll keep at it. Have a wonderful week and Happy Tuesday!

      Like

  15. trentpmcd says:

    Thanks for the review. I really hate to admit it, since I like her writing so much, but I haven’t read any of Sue’s books. I think I will pick up The Initiate sooner than later…

    Liked by 2 people

  16. You hit a whole lot of my favorites, Diana. Jill’s cozy romance, AC’s techie plots and characters, Jacquie’s romantic thrillers, and Pete’s–on my Kindle. Great list.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Wow and wow. What a voracious reader are you Diana. I love all the books that you read. They are very interesting and sounds lovely to read. Will pick a few for myself too. Thank you so much.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Toma Ruh says:

    Really inspires me to read more! I’ve barely found any time/motivation to read in October!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m not doing much else though. With covid-19 on the rise, we’re staying home enjoying the winter rain. I won’t keep up this pace, but for now it’s fun. Thanks for browsing. Happy Reading!

      Like

  19. Entertaining and informative as ever, Diana – especially the comments! I’m watching ‘West Wing’ again (for about the 4th time) from the start – now there’s a president for you – shame it’s just acting – says he from afar!

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Sue Vincent says:

    Thank you very much for including The Initiate, Diana. Living the story to write the book was a strange and wonderful experience ❤

    Liked by 5 people

  21. Sara says:

    Wait, how long did it take you to finish 21 book? 😄

    Liked by 3 people

  22. petespringerauthor says:

    You continue to be a voracious reader and a supportive member of the blogging community, Diana. As a relatively new blogger, I’m smart enough to take my cues from those who are far more experienced and can show us the ropes. Thanks for the great review, but more for setting a high standard that we all should try to emulate.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Aww, what a sweet comment, Pete. I was a clueless incompetent blogger for my first two years. (I had 7 likes my first year. Lol). I learned by watching others. I think we all do that to some degree. My pleasure to read and share your book. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  23. acflory says:

    Thank you for your kind words about The Vintage Egg! I always enjoy your reviews, but it’s a special joy to have you review one of my own. Best of luck with your on-going reviews. ‘Tis a brave challenge. 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

  24. Your reading is certainly eclectic, Diana! Thanks for including TFTA in this batch, and Happy Halloween!

    Liked by 5 people

    • Happy Halloween to you too, Audrey. Yes, I had a very diverse list of books this month. I’ve been stretching my exposure to different genres, and it’s been fun and surprising. Thanks for the visit and Happy Reading. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  25. As usual, an interesting eclectic bunch of books. Your diverse interest and voracious appetite never ceases to amaze me, Ms P. 😉
    Hope you’re having a fabulous Halloween 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

  26. Ocean Bream says:

    Impressive that you read all these books Diana. What a lovely variety, once again. I am recognising a couple of names from blogs I follow too 🙂 The Vintage egg sounds very intriguing; I am a sucker for a short story. Your reviews are so good, they’re honest and genuine, whilst also providing an interesting insight into what the book is about without giving too much away! Thanks for sharing all these great titles with us!

    Liked by 5 people

  27. So impressed you can plow through that much reading! Impressive! They look great! THANKS for sharing. ❤️ Cindy

    Liked by 5 people

  28. Tessa says:

    Another great group of reads. Heir of Doom looks particularly interesting to me. Just the kind of fantasy I love. Thank you for your wonderful reviews as always!

    Liked by 5 people

  29. Gwen M. Plano says:

    Thank you, Diana, for posting your reviews for these amazing writers. I’ve only read Jill’s lovely book, but I will soon add these other writers to my kindle. Happy Halloween! 💚

    Liked by 5 people

    • I enjoy reading the books of talented author/bloggers, Gwen. The variety has expanded my interest in different genres. I’m enjoying my autumn challenge too! Thanks for the visit and have a wonderful weekend. 🙂 ❤

      Like

  30. GP Cox says:

    I always trust your opinion.

    Liked by 9 people

  31. Thanks for the wonderful review, Diana! This is the perfect time of year to curl up with a book (or 21, lol) and a cup of tea. I was excited to see Lords of Chaos on my Kindle yesterday morning 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  32. Reblogged this on Jacquie Biggar-USA Today Best-selling author and commented:
    Some wonderful fall reading recommendations from Diana Peach, including My Baby Wrote Me a Letter!

    Liked by 4 people

  33. Some lovely books here, Diana. I have read both Pete and Trent’s books and enjoyed both [very different obviously]. I have bought A C Flory’s book, I am keen to try her writing.

    Liked by 6 people

  34. balroop2013 says:

    Two of the above books have been on my wish list, I know you can understand which ones as I avoid scary and gory stories. 🙂 Fabulous reviews Diana. Happy Halloween.

    Liked by 6 people

  35. I agree with Jill when she said you’re a reading machine, Diana. Thanks for all these options for us to choose from. With so many books out there, it’s good to have some guidance about them, and reviews to recommend them.

    Liked by 5 people

  36. You are truly a reading machine, Diana. It’s so nice to see many familiar names, including mine. I’m so happy you enjoyed A Home for Her Daughter…your words are special to me. Have a great weekend and don’t leave for Hawaii without me! xo

    Liked by 7 people

    • My pleasure, Jill. I need a feel-good read every once in a while, and I definitely got that from your book. ❤
      Oh yeah, Hawaii. I'm not going. It was just Covid-fatigue rearing its head. As much as I wanted to go, I needed to be a big girl. Sigh. Next year! 😀 Happy Halloween, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  37. joylennick says:

    Hi Diana, You are to be congratulated! That is a lot of reading. Whoever designs your book covers deserves a medal. They are fabulous, no less the writing quality between them. Take care.Hugs x

    Liked by 6 people

    • Thanks so much for the visit, Joy. I’m having fun reading the works of this lovely community of author/bloggers! It certainly has exposed me to different genres, and that’s been fun. And I’m glad you like the covers – fantasy leaves lots of room for creativity. 🙂 Have a lovely weekend, my friend. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  38. Even bumbling along, you’ve read and reviewed a lot of books this autumn Diana. Especially knowing that you’re writing and editing your own books too! Do you ever leave your writing den? 😊 Happy All Saints Day! 👻

    Liked by 7 people

  39. J.D. Riso says:

    A very diverse list, Diana. Happy Halloween back at you, my friend. (I’ve just finished reading Night Shift by Stephen King. A classic. 🙂 )

    Liked by 6 people

  40. Happy reading is right! I’ve jotted some of the titles down. As soon as I finishing the seemingly endless job of proofing, I’ll be featuring several books on my blog. Just in time for the holidays!

    Liked by 6 people

  41. Marcia says:

    A very diverse and entertaining selection this week, Diana. You’ve been reading like a thing possessed! (I suppose that’s appropriate for the season, though. 😉 ) Enjoyed hearing more about several of these books and learning about the others. Taking good notes, for sure. I’m thinking if I survive the holidays with everything I’m trying to get done, I’ll have a good start on my reading list for next year! 😀 Thanks for such excellent reviews. 🙂

    Liked by 6 people

    • How did I miss this great comment, Marcia! Yes, take notes for your next year reading. I’ve started popping books (I wrote “pooping books” – thank goodness for proofreading!). I’ve starting popping books into my Amazon wish list as a way of keeping track of wanna-reads. Thanks for stopping by. And be sure to check my mid-November review post!

      Liked by 1 person

  42. Erica/Erika says:

    Bwa-ha-ha-ha back at you, Diana. You don’t scare me off too quickly. I am curious and enjoy reading your book reviews. I have read excerpts from “They Call Me Mom” and it is on my reading list. And Jill Weatherholt’s books allow me to escape for awhile with characters I like, lessons I learn, and feel good. Happy Halloween. Take care. xx

    Liked by 7 people

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