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Jessica Jesinghaus

Random Thoughts of an Author & Book Junkie

Book Review: Curiosity and the Sentient’s Oblation (Curiosity #3) by Zachary Chopchinski


🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 5 out of 5 HUGE stars  

If you’ve been following my reviews of the first two books in this series, then you should know I have really enjoyed them. But this book ROCKS! Holy Hera! There is something so intense about this installment. There were multiple times I wanted to grab Zach by his (adorable) trademark bow tie and shake the living snot outta him! 

Each book has built in intensity, drama, and action. This version finds young Gabrielle inhabiting the body of a newly widowed woman in Civil War-torn North Carolina. Something about this period in American history has always tugged at my heartstrings, and this book’s undercurrent tapped into that. But the main theme of Gabrielle & Morrigan saving souls from Arawn, and Arawn’s relentless pursuit of Gabrielle, took on several new dimensions. Secrets are revealed, new threats against Gabrielle are unleashed (the sluagh! jeepers creepers!), and people close to Gabrielle pay the ultimate price in her quest. 

I’m not kidding when I say there were moments in this book that forced me to put it down, walk away, and take a few deep breaths to calm down. I actually gasped “No!” in the middle of my kids’ swim class, then had to apologize to the surrounding parents who, hearing the sheer panic in my voice, thought something bad happened in the pool. Whoops!

Yes, this is billed as a YA Fantasy series, but the emotions and overarching themes are something all readers will enjoy. I will be figuratively holding my breath for the fourth and final installment, due out this Fall. 

Bravo Bow Tie Author! You knocked this one outta the park and have earned a fan for life. If you haven’t started this series yet, you should. All three current books are, at the time of this posting, available for free via Kindle Unlimited HERE so don’t delay!


**I won a paperback copy of this book in a Facebook event giveaway which I then chose to voluntarily review**

Book Review: Phenomenon by Faye Mussett


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️4 out of 5 stars  

Have you ever had one of those thoughts? You know, the ones where you imagine the worst happening to you or a loved one? Or when you picture the stranger across the room having some awful / embarrassing fate befall them? If you said no, I don’t believe you. It’s human nature to picture events, good or bad, in our mind’s eye. But what if your mind had the power to turn those spur-of-the-moment musings into reality? Terrifying, right?

Well, that’s what seems to be happening for young Chloe. At a mere 24 yrs old, she’s had to deal with her own share of misfortune. Within the past year Chloe’s mom, their anchor and port in a storm, passed away and now Chloe lives at home with her chronically adrift father and storm-tossed younger brother. Still drowning in her own grief, she’s forced to take on the mantle of motherhood, helping her father raise the much-younger Finn.

The whole first half of the book really centers on Chloe and her family. As a reader I got a really great sense of what Chloe was going through, which really invested me for the second half when Chloe’s life really unravels. (I used ‘really’ a lot here, I know, but it is what it is. πŸ€“)

At first, the bad things happening around Chloe could be chalked up to mere coincidence, but as the events get bigger and scarier it’s clear Fate isn’t to blame. Someone, or something, is giving Fate a nudge. The last straw for Chloe was so gut wrenching and heartbreaking (no spoilers, I promise) that I actually had to put down my Kindle for a while, take some deep breaths, and regroup. I haven’t had a story really sucker punch me like that in a while. 

My only complaint about the story is that, in the end, Chloe’s fate is left hanging. Perhaps it was intentional, since life is sometimes like that, and it’s up to the reader to decide how they want to picture Chloe’s future? Maybe if I think about it hard enough, it’ll come true for her? Think good thoughts!

This is yet another great book available free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers HERE


**I received an electronic copy of this book from the author which I then chose to voluntarily review** 

Book Review: A Tidy Killing by Vera Mont


β­οΈβ­οΈβ­οΈπŸ’«3.5 out of 5 stars  

Where to start on this review? While I can find nothing technically wrong with this book, the story, or its characters… nothing in it really moved me. The mystery itself was not terribly compelling, but I did enjoy the journey a few characters take in terms of growth and self discovery. 

The story of A Tidy Killing opens with our main character, Detective Sergeant Alec Sims, arriving at a rather fastidiously clean murder scene. The victim is found in the laboratory of Ac-Me plastics. His death is either the result of a careless, but tragic, accident or foul play. It’s rather obvious to Sims from the get-go that this is a murder, but convincing his superiors will take some work. Quite early on in the book, there is the following line:

“Sims fished out his own latex gloves, a recent improvement -in deference to AIDS –on the cotton ones he had been accustomed to wearing at crime scenes.”

That one line provided a heaping serving of context. This was not going to be a flashy, technology-driven, CSI-style mystery but rather an old-school gumshoe story full of interviews and “hitting the streets” to find clues. Initially I was excited. But as the pages turned, and turned, and turned I kept waiting for something exciting to happen. It never really did. 

There were a lot of sub plots (too many maybe?) and the author did do a great job keeping them all straight. Or dare I say tidy? The victim’s widow, Amanda, was a refreshing character. The tale of her less-than-love-filled marriage was sad and rang with truth. Sims starts out as a dedicated detective, but as the story moves forward you’re hit with more of a sense of frustration and dissatisfaction with his role in the precinct. His relationship with his dog Lancelot was extremely endearing. Listening to him hash out theories with the lovable mutt was possibly one of the book’s finest moments. Again, the journeys Sims and Amanda take over the course of the book were endearing. They’re the reason I kept reading, not the mystery or the numerous other cases Sims is saddled with in the course of the tale. 

So, if you’re looking for a flashy mystery A Tidy Killing is not that kind of book. But as a journey of self discovery and growth, with a murder as the backdrop, this is a fun read. 

Subscribers to Kindle Unlimited can check the book out for free HERE.

**I received an electronic copy of this book from the author which I then chose to voluntarily review**

Reading With the Family & a Brief Review of Hollow City (Second Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children) by Ransom Riggs


My son says 4 stars, my daughter says 5… so let’s settle on a 4.5 shall we?

I think I enjoyed this second installment even more so than the first. The action kept coming in perpetual waves and that ending?! Holy cow! Such a fun story to read aloud and share with the whole family. ❀️

**********

Not much of a review, I know, but that’s not the focus of this post. Rather, I’d like to take a moment to pontificate upon the joys of sharing literature with your children. 

I have two: a boy (6 months shy of 13) and a girl (65 days away from 10). If you’re wondering, they were peering over my shoulders as I typed, insisting I ‘age them up’ while I wanted nothing more than to freeze-frame these moments of their youth. 

When my son was just a baby a dear friend, who knew I loved reading and had no idea what to give Troy for that momentous first birthday, decided to buy him a book. Much to my delight, it was not your typical children’s book, but rather a (then) little know YA Fantasy book called Eragon. I was so excited! 

Some people thought I was crazy, sitting in my recliner or on the sofa with a baby in my lap, reading aloud a book everyone said he couldn’t understand. But you know what? He loved it! Fussy, teething, cranky as hell… the second that book came out and my voice floated toward him he would settle down to watch and listen, rapt. Even if he didn’t follow or understand the story, he understood one thing: mommy was in the moment with him. And so was born our family’s routine. 

Books were chosen that would entertain not only the kids, but hubby and myself. When weather permitted, we would read outside in the front yard after dinner… flashlights at the ready for paperbacks, an extension cord and charging cable for the e-reader. Friday and Saturday nights were prime: the kids (sometimes hubby too) knew they could wheedle Mom for ‘just one more chapter’ without the worry of school or work the next morning. 

Now that they’re older, I dread the day when they don’t have time for our book-ventures. When sports or school projects or (shudder) girlfriends/boyfriends monopolize their spare time. But for a while at least, their time is still mine. And we have a whole summer’s worth of reading lined up. 

Read to the kids (and adults) in your life! Have friends with children? Do what my friend did: buy them a book the whole family will enjoy. Give them the gift of worlds and of a lifetime love of the written word. 

Book Review: Curiosity and the Hounds of Arawn (Curiosity #2) by Zachary Chopchinski


🌸🌸🌸🌸🌷 4.5 out of 5 stars  

Wowie-zowie! Things sure escalated quickly. The second book in the Gabrielle series really packs a punch. 

Our heroine Gabrielle finds herself in France. Unfortunately it appears her travels are not destined to be fun-filled, as this is France on the cusp of revolution. Though still a 13 year old girl, this time her host body is an older (late teens) French maid in the royal palace. Her days are full of hard work, but amidst it all she manages a little time to frolic as well as seek out her fellow traveler, Morrigan. 

This time, however, Gabrielle meets a strange man, Arwan, who seems to know that her spirit is not of the body she inhabits. Arwan holds knowledge he shouldn’t have and seems to hold a special grudge against Gabrielle. Slowly (ever-so painfully slowly) Gabrielle (and us as readers) learn a little more about her journeys and the real purpose behind her travels. 

I am absolutely infatuated with the world Mr Chopchinski has created! Gabrielle’s depth of character is a remarkable thing. Although young, we were given such a wonderful basis for her personality I the first book that the growth she exhibits in this second installment is completely realistic. As he mother of a thirteen year old (boy) myself, I must say that Gabrielle’s occasional capriciousness and her deep sense of right and wrong are true to life. 

Families looking for a series to enjoy together, or even adults who typically wouldn’t delve into YA fantasy: READ THIS SERIES! It’ll sweep you up. 

You can snag your copy of the book HERE and, wahoo, it’s currently enrolled in a kindle Unlimited so subscribers can read it for free. 

**I received an electronic copy of this book from the author which I then chose to voluntarily review**

 

Book Review: Working On It (Persimmon Series #1) by Cass Alexander


β­οΈβ­οΈβ­οΈβ­οΈπŸ’« 4.5 out of 5 stars  

I really really enjoyed this book. I don’t read a ton of college romance, but there was just something that struck me about this book. I was inundated by a strong nostalgia factor. I felt like these ‘kids’ could’ve very easily been in my college circle back in the 90’s. 

The story is told in alternating POVs by the two main characters: Rebecca & Evan. I loved Rebecca’s character. She’s sassy and independent, with a rapier wit that had me guffawing loudly quite often. My favorite Rebecca line? “…and bend to the vagina’s will, they must. I thought that in a Yoda voice. Points to me.” I swear, when I read that I snorted Pepsi out my nose in front of half a dozen people (the perils of reading during lunch breaks at work).

Ms. Alexander captured the essence of a whirlwind head-over-heels first love beautifully. And her depiction of Rebecca’s sexual awakening was spot on. This story has its share of requisite early-twenties angst – we’re not talking earth shattering drama by any means – which made for a satisfying read. The steamy bits are appropriately steamy too! All in all, a highly recommended way to spend a few hours. 

If you’d like to “work on it” then mosey on over to Amazon and grab your copy today. 

Book Review: Lanie’s Choice, Survivors of Paradise Book 1 by Kimberlyn Day


πŸ‘½πŸ‘½πŸ‘½πŸ‘½ 4 out of 5 stars  

What a ride (innuendo intended)! Lanie’s Choice is a unique blend of sci-fi and erotica with an undercurrent of 1970-80’s TV camp thrown in. But this description doesn’t really do it justice!

From the sci-fi aspect, this book holds its own. The ‘survivors’ are a group of human off-world colonists whose home, Paradise, was invaded and enslaved by aliens. In addition to enslavement, these aliens bring with them a virus which threatens every human in the colony. Our rag-tag group of survivors were among the few who did not succumb to the virus, but they were not left unchanged. The virus has mutated within them, leaving them permanently altered and with some nifty abilities. Escaping the remains of Paradise in an alien spaceship, they’ve set off in search of help before the alien invaders leave Paradise in search of greener pastures: namely, Earth. Although brief, the alien spaceship and its technology were well written & described. I appreciated the author’s attention to those details. 

After crash-landing on a moon they believe inhabited by aliens who may be able to help them, Lanie and her two-man crew come face to face with their possible rescuers. Again, I was impressed with the aliens created. There are three distinct groups with unique features and physiology. Lanie quickly finds herself the linchpin in a deal with the aliens to secure their cooperation and assistance. 

And this is where the story dives quickly into erotica. Lanie, with a scarred and traumatic past, must agree to ‘life bond’ with one (or more) of the aliens. But who will she choose? How can she choose, given the things done to her during Paradise’s occupation? Her hesitation is understandable, as is her quick acquiescence… I mean, come on, those aliens were hunky! Things get hot & steamy very quickly. I’m not gonna lie, I blushed. Frequently. Then I re-read a few scenes just for the fun of it. 😊

If you’re looking for a quick, steamy read then Lanie’s Choice is for you. I’ll definitely be reading on in the series. You can snag Lanie’s Choice as a FREE download via Kindle Unlimited HERE.

Book Review: The Curious Tale of Gabrielle (Curiosity Book 1) by Zachary Chopchinski


🏡🏡🏡🏡 4 out of 5 stars  

Curious indeed! The Curious Tale of Gabrielle is a smartly composed introduction to the Curiosity Series. The main character, Gabrielle, is an adventurous 13 year-old girl who is extremely close to her mother & father. Although neither parent make a real appearance in the book, their presence & importance to young Gabrielle is palpable – very important in a story such as this one. 

Gabrielle takes off on an unbelievable, incredible adventure, one she must figure out on her own since those around her have no idea she is from some other place or some other time. As far as they know she is their little sister and friend. While traveling through this strange alternate (?) life she sees and hears things no one else can. I’m not going to lie, every time Gabrielle heard ‘click’ my skin crawled in anticipation. 

Gabrielle is a strong, believable young heroine, extremely well-portrayed. Her actions and decisions ring with truth and I cannot wait to see where her adventures take us next!

This lovely little adventure is currently a FREE series introduction, so snag your copy HERE. Enjoy the adventure! I surely did. 

**I received an electronic copy of this book from the author which I then chose to voluntarily review**

Book Review: Shadows of the Past by Graeme Cooper


β­οΈβ­οΈβ­οΈπŸ’«3.5 out of 5 stars  
This is a tough review for me to write. I really enjoyed this book, yet there were some issues I can’t currently overlook. 

Let’s start with what worked: Graeme Cooper wrote a really intriguing fantasy. I particularly enjoyed the prologue. The shadowy cabal, meeting to discuss some nebulous, nefarious plans to overthrow the current establishment, was very quickly and effectively portrayed. It set a great tone for the rest of the action. I also appreciated the way the main characters were introduced. For such a short novel (180 pages according to Amazon) there was a lot of relevant history and world building conveyed. Truly impressive! This book is the first in a series, and the ending was that elusive blend of resolution mixed with unfinished business that leaves a reader satisfied and eager for the next book. Well done!

So what was my issue? Editing. Unfortunately, the version I read was rife with typos, past/present tense irregularities, and grammatical errors. Luckily for future readers, I made notes for the author and have forwarded all my findings for his review. I feel confident that another editing pass will provide Shadows of the Past the polish it deserves. It really is a gem. 

So, rating this tale is difficult. If I only rated the book on what I experienced while reading this version, I would have to give it 3 stars. But if I overlook the errors (which I believe will soon be rectified) then the book is a solid 4 stars. That means I will settle this rating at 3.5 stars. I will certainly be seeking out the next book, due to be released in June of this year, and look forward to re-entering Graeme Cooper’s world. 

If you’d like to check out Shadows of the Past, you can do so HERE.   

**I received an electronic copy of this book from the author which I then chose to voluntarily review**

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