5 stars · Fantasy · fiction · romance · series · young adult

Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck

Tiger’s Curse

author: collen houck

the tiger saga #1
book 2: tiger’s quest
book 3: tiger’s voyage
book 4: tiger’s destiny

pages : [paperback] 406

memorable quote: What is real and what is not is for your heart to decide and for your heart to know.

favorite characters: ren & kishan


Passion. Fate. Loyalty.
Would you risk it all to change your destiny?
The last thing Kelsey Hayes thought she’d be doing this summer was trying to break a 300-year-old Indian curse. With a mysterious white tiger named Ren. Halfway around the world. But that’s exactly what happened. Face-to-face with dark forces, spellbinding magic, and  mystical worlds where nothing is what it seems, Kelsey risks everything to piece together an ancient prophecy that could break the curse forever.
Tiger’s Curse is the exciting first volume in an epic fantasy-romance that will leave you breathless and yearning for more.


Oh, have I waited too long to read this book!

I’ve been stalking it ever since it was first released, wanting for my prey to come out in paperback. And that will be my only reference to tigers. I promise.

When I had the opportunity to get and read this book, there was no way that I was turning it down. If there is any genre (or sub-genre) that I’m always interested in, it’s retold or modernized fairy tales. Tiger’s Curse is different from anything I’ve ever read because it blends Indian culture and legend with the modern age, an American girl, and a plot reminiscant of Beauty and the Beast.

I loved the characters of this book! From the minor ones, gracing only a few pages, to people like Kelsey, Ren, and Mr. Kadam. Truthfully, at first, I didn’t think that I was going to like Kelsey. Her decisions seemed to come from nowhere and often frustrated me when I couldn’t see the sense behind any of it. But as her character began to come together and more of her past was revealed to tie in with her emotions, it was all perfect to me.

The one negative aspect that stuck with me for the entirety of the book was the stiffness of some of the dialogue. The descriptive scenes were beautiful and captivating. I could picture the landscapes and imagine that I was adventuring along with Kelsey and her tiger. But some of the things the characters said sounded too much like what another person would give them to say rather than having them speak in their own words. It reminded me that I was reading a book, while in other sections I was able to lose myself among the pages. I’m hoping that in the next books this won’t be so apparent to me.

Which leads to me saying that I need to get my hands on Tiger’s Quest, the second book in the saga, immediately. I need to know what’s going to happen, with a wonderfully orchestrated ending like that! Tiger’s Curse left me wanting so much more! I loved the challenges that Kelsey has to face, both the supernatural and the things that every teenage girl goes up against, the love interest, the banter, the antagonist . . . All in all, this book is an amazing mesh of different elements that I’m sure many, many other people will love as much as I do! I recommend this for YA fans, people who like mythology and fairy tales, Indian culture, and a great, great read.


Want to learn more about the author?
Read this interview about her characters, the world of Tiger’s Curse, and its new paperback release!

What makes the paperback release different from the hardcover? The paperback release will bring in a whole other group of readers. I have several friends who prefer reading paperbacks over carrying around the heavier hardcovers and they’re very excited to get their hands on this new version. There is also the chance to update the book and add bonus material which all my fans know I love to write.

What are you most excited about with the paperback? I’m very excited to share Kelsey’s recipes! I’m a foodie as most of you can tell from my books and I can say from experience that there’s nothing better than sitting down with a new paperback and a hot batch of Ren’s cookies. Light a sandalwood candle too and it’s like you’re in the story.

 Is there something you can tell us about Tiger’s Curse that no one else knows? Yes! Pay close attention to Kelsey’s dreams because they are foreshadows of things to come later on in the series.

 Ren or Kishan? I honestly love both brothers and want both of them to get their happy endings. I didn’t think I’d love Kishan as much as I do but he has solidly wedged himself into my heart.

Kelsey can be sassy! Why did you choose to make her character so empowered? I wanted a heroine who could do all the cool things I’d like to do. I was a big fan of Wonder Woman. She was beautiful and could do amazing things. That’s what I wanted for Kelsey. My hope is that my female readers will see that ordinary girls can do extraordinary things.

Has your day-to-day changed since becoming a NYT bestselling author?!? What does your husband think about it? My day to day just gets busier and more hectic every week that passes. My favorite time is when I can just sit down at my computer and get lost in my story. My husband is proud and amazed. He likes to brag about his author wife to perfect strangers and hands out book marks to everyone he meets.

Last question—do you plan on visiting India? You’ve already done so much research about it! I have no immediate plans but I would LOVE to go. I think it would be amazing to see all the locations I’ve written about. I made a real effort as I wrote to layer my fantasy world on top of real world places because I like the idea of feeling like you could actually step through a doorway into another world.

Anyone else out there have a massive sweet tooth? I know that I do! I can’t wait to try out this recipe for cookies, courtesy of the prince himself:

Ren’s Cookies

2 sticks of butter

¾ cup sugar

¾ cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 ½ tsp vanilla

¼ tsp salt

¾ cup dark coco powder

2 cups flour

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

1 bag of chocolate chips

¾ cup smooth peanut butter

½ cup brown sugar

Cream the butter then add sugars. When it’s light and fluffy, add eggs and vanilla. Sift the next 5 dry ingredients and mix with the wet until thoroughly combined. Add one package of chocolate chips (or as many as you like!) to the dough. Mix together the next 2 ingredients to make the peanut butter filling. Then place a spoonful of the chocolate dough on a baking sheet, top with some peanut butter filling, and cover with some more chocolate dough. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-20 minutes depending on cookie size.

4 stars · fiction · series

The Darkening Dream by Andy Gavin

The Darkening Dream

Author: Andy Gavin

Pages [ebook]: 382

favorite characters:
anne & sam


Even as the modern world pushes the supernatural aside in favor of science and steel, the old ways remain. God, demon, monster, and sorcerer alike plot to regain what was theirs.

1913, Salem, Massachusetts – Sarah Engelmann’s life is full of friends, books, and avoiding the pressure to choose a husband, until an ominous vision and the haunting call of an otherworldly trumpet shake her. When she stumbles across a gruesome corpse, she fears that her vision was more of a premonition. And when she sees the murdered boy moving through the crowd at an amusement park, Sarah is thrust into a dark battle she does not understand.
With the help of Alex, an attractive Greek immigrant who knows a startling amount about the undead, Sarah sets out to uncover the truth. Their quest takes them to the factory mills of Salem, on a midnight boat ride to spy on an eerie coastal lair, and back, unexpectedly, to their own homes. What can Alex’s elderly, vampire-hunting grandfather and Sarah’s own rabbi father tell them? And what do Sarah’s continuing visions reveal?
No less than Gabriel’s Trumpet, the tool that will announce the End of Days, is at stake, and the forces that have banded to recover it include a 900 year-old vampire, a trio of disgruntled Egyptian gods, and a demon-loving Puritan minister. At the center of this swirling cast is Sarah, who must fight a millennia-old battle against unspeakable forces, knowing the ultimate prize might be herself.


Okay, so I might have looked into this originally because the guy who wrote it helped create Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter. Those games are just awesome, so all the applause for that. But I’m not reviewing them. The premise of this sounded just as good so I started it. And kept reading, and reading, and reading, and then hated when it was over.

At first I was afraid, I was petrified, thinking that I wouldn’t be able to keep the many characters, good and bad, straight, the motives behind everyone, the entities and who was faithful and who had demons working for them. Actually, it was surprisingly easy to keep each person distinct. I really liked all of them, although in the beginning I was starting to think the minor characters would fall flat. That definitely wasn’t the case; actually, Sam and Anne, Sarah’s friends, turned out to be two of my favorites.

And the villains! It’s been a while since I’ve seen such a unique array of bad guys. A centuries old vampire, a warlock who plots with demons, a gigantic dung beetle . . . Otherwise known as an Egyptian god. The things they would do to people are definitely the stuff of nightmares, so those with weak stomachs be warned.

I loved the writing style, not very formal but not lax enough for the time period this is set in to be forgotten entirely. I also liked the alternating viewpoints, providing a chance for every perspective to be shown. That doesn’t mean that every secret is revealed as there are several twists and turns along the way. Especially the ending! I love the ending. It makes me want a lot more, now.

I definitely recommend The Darkening Dream. It’s got a little of everything. Romance, vampires, magic, adventure, danger, suspense, horror, humor. I don’t think it’s possible for me to name everything; you’ll just need to go and see for yourself.

GRIPPING. 4/5 stars

3 stars · fiction · mystery · romance · young adult

Losing Faith by Denise Jaden


Losing Faith

Author: Denise Jaden

Pages [paperback]: 377

Opening Lines: The statue has got to go. That’s my first thought as I prep the living room for Dustin’s visit later tonight.

Memorable Quote: “Wow, someone woke up on the wrong side of the Midol.”

Favorite Character: Alis


A terrible secret. A terrible fate.

When Brie’s sister, Faith, dies suddenly, Brie’s world falls apart. As she goes through the bizarre and devastating process of mourning the sister she never understood and barely even liked, everything in her life seems to spiral farther and farther off course. Her parents are a mess, her friends don’t know how to treat her, and her perfect boyfriend suddenly seems anything but.

As Brie settles into her new normal, she encounters more questions than closure: Certain facts about the way Faith died just don’t line up. Brie soon uncovers a dark and twisted secret about Faith’s final night…a secret that puts her own life in danger.


 This book took me a very long time to read. I don’t know how many months I’ve struggled over it, picking it up at random intervals until a more captivating book came along to knock it off my radar. I finally set to reading the last 100 pages without interupption, and ended up liking it more than I expected at a first glance.

Losing Faith is a great story about a girl, Brie, attempting to understand the death of her sister, Faith, with whom she had lost touch. Though both the police and her parents are willing to lay the case aside, Brie wants to investigate things herself. Something odd seems to be going on, and she’s determined to get to the bottom of things. Even if that means making unlikely allies and putting her own life in danger.

Brie and the rest of the cast of characters were surprisingly well-defined and refreshing. They were all filled with different flaws and characteristics that made them realistic and memorable, though I didn’t realize this until the book was nearly finished. I came to love Alis, for his simple sweetness, and Tessa, for her tough exterior and covert knowledge. Even Brie surprised me; when I first started reading things from her perspective, I thought she was stuck-up and that I’d grow to hate her. By the end, either she changed, or I did, because my feelings toward her warmed significantly.

Though it seems like the entire book would be centered completely on religion and finding God, as Faith was obsessed with religion and Brie has basically given up on it, that wasn’t the main focus. It was about sisterhood, family, how to deal (and how not to deal) with a family member’s death, and to not judge a person before getting to know them.

The ending, while not completely unexpected, was a bit odd, though satisfying in its own right. All questions I had were answered by the ending, tied up neatly into a smooth finish.

Losing Faith took me a while to get into, and I really wish it had picked up sooner, or captured my interest earlier on. It wasn’t a bad book, though not nearly one of my favorites. It’s good, but not impressive, and I don’t think I’ll pick it up again. I give it 3/5 stars.

fiction · history

By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan


By Fire, By Water

Author: Mitchell James Kaplan

Pages [paperback]: 277

Available now!


Luis de Santángel, chancellor to the court and longtime friend of the lusty King Ferdinand, has had enough of the Spanish Inquisition. As the power of Inquisitor General Tomás de Torquemada grows, so does the brutality of the Spanish church and the suspicion and paranoia it inspires. When a dear friend’s demise brings the violence close to home, Santángel is enraged and takes retribution into his own hands. But he is from a family of conversos, and his Jewish heritage makes him an easy target. As Santángel witnesses the horrific persecution of his loved ones, he begins slowly to reconnect with the Jewish faith his family left behind. Feeding his curiosity about his past is his growing love for Judith Migdal, a clever and beautiful Jewish woman navigating the mounting tensions in Granada. While he struggles to decide what his reputation is worth and what he can sacrifice, one man offers him a chance he thought he’d lost…the chance to hope for a better world. Christopher Columbus has plans to discover a route to paradise, and only Luis de Santángel can help him.
Within the dramatic story lies a subtle, insightful examination of the crisis of faith at the heart of the Spanish Inquisition. Irresolvable conflict rages within the conversos in By Fire, By Water, torn between the religion they left behind and the conversion meant to ensure their safety. In this story of love, God, faith, and torture, fifteenth-century Spain comes to dazzling, engrossing life.


I received this book from the author for review, with no idea of what to expect. I ended up loving this book! By Fire, By Water, Mitchell James Kaplan’s debut novel, had me interested from the start. It started right in with the suspense, and steadily kept my attention to the end. The characters’ struggles were vividly depicted and realistic.

It’s taken for granted that historical fiction takes facts and twists them to fit in with the plot line and drum up a little drama. I love how at the end of the book everything that was changed/unchanged is explained. The main body of the narrative was accurate, yet I like to see what has been speculated about and can’t be known for certain if it is true or not.

The Spanish Inquisition was a horrible time to live through. No one knew who would accuse whom, who would be arrested and never seen again. The brutality and confusion of this time is particularly emphasized, and I like how the different experiences of just a few characters give a glimpse into what the common people possibly experienced.

By Fire, By Water is great for any historical fiction fan or those that, like me, are new to the genre. I immensely liked this novel and give it 5/5 stars!

Fantasy · fiction · young adult

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

The Red Pyramid

Author: Rick Riordan [also wrote the Percy Jackson series]

Pages [ebook]: 359

Memorable Quote: “Set animal is too hard to say,” I decided. “I think I’ll call you Leroy.”

Favorite Characters: Horus, Sadie, Doughboy


Since their mother’s death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane.

One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a “research experiment” at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives.

Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them–Set–has his sights on the Kanes. To stop him, the siblings embark on a dangerous journey across the globe–a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family, and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.


I loved Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series and so wasn’t sure whether The Red Pyramid, the first book of a planned series, would own up to my expectations. All in all, it’s pretty much exactly like Percy, except with Egyptian, not Greek, gods and that the point of view alternates between a brother and a sister.

When you read this, be prepared to laugh. The same humor that fills the Percy Jackson books can be found here. Carter and Sadie fight like any other brother and sister, and the arguements they have are among the best scenes of the book. The battle of Leroy and the chicken-man, however, is another story. 🙂

I love this book, and though it’s supposed to be written for kids 12 & under, I think older people will enjoy it too, because I sure did. It’s cute, funny, and action-packed, with monster fight scenes and suspense lurking around every corner.

I give The Red Pyramid 4/5 stars.