Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Cadence of Gypsies by Barbara Casey

Title: The Cadence of Gypsies
Author: Barbara Casey
Buy the Book:  Amazon  ~  Barnes & Noble


I was given my copy in exchange for an honest review

On her 18th birthday Carolina Lovel learned that she was adopted and was given a letter written by her birth mother in an unknown language. After years of research she travels to Italy on a mission to find the truth about her past. Carolina is accompanied by three extremely gifted but mischievous students the FIGs from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women. In an effort to help their favorite teacher, the FIGs will have to use their special abilities to decipher the Voynich Manuscript, the most mysterious document in the world, and the one thing that is strangely similar to what Carolina was given. Their search will take them into the mystical world of gypsy tradition and magic, more exciting and dangerous than any of them could have imagined. 


I wasn't originally going to sign up for this book tour. Why? Because I din't know at the time if I would have the time to commit to this book, and the cover, honestly, didn't appeal to me. So I had opened it, scanned the email talking about the tour and had exited out of my email for the night. Then, in the morning, I had decided to take a look at the email again, before deleting it. And got to thinking, gypsies. This book is about gypsies. Which is something I had never read about, or seen much of in the terms of TV and movies. I am reminded of a character in a show I had watched a few years back, the name is escaping me, as it's fairly late. But there was a gypsy like character in that TV show...it had werewolves in it....

But needless to say, I decided to sign up and give it a go. And I'm glad I did. This book was such a great introduction into the world of gypsies. And I had a blast reading it. 

It follows Caroline, and her "research" project. And there are also a group of girls, who are named the FIGs (Females of Intellectual Genius). These group of girls aid there teacher, Caroline, in her continued endeavor to decipher a manuscript. And this is about where the story starts.

I loved it. At first, I was a little confused, but that was promptly remedied as the story progressed. I loved the friendship in this book. I don't see a lot of female friendships in books, mainly because it seems the ones I read don't have them in it. I don't go searching for them in books, but it's nice to see when they do crop up. And in this book it was a great asset to the overall story and book. 

I loved that the author gave you a kind of bread trail to follow as you were reading. It wasn't a huge information dump in the beginning and the end, with little going on in the middle. That wasn't the case at all. It was evenly paced, and I flew through it. I had started it kind of late due to work obligations, and was worried I wouldn't get it finished before I had to sleep, or that I would be up super late. But I got home, and sat down after dinner, and finished the rest of the book in now time. 

This was such a fun story. I recommend it to those who enjoy gypsy stories (obviously) but also witches. As it states very early on in the book, the two were basically the same thing. So I think this book will appeal to those who have a witch obsession (I know I do...that might be why I liked this book so much). Basically, it comes down to: give this book a shot. I have to admit, the cover might not grab your attention, but it's one of those what's inside is the most important part! I, like the majority of readers, find myself drawn to certain covers and not to others. This was the perfect lesson in why that is a bad practice. Or, at least, I need to do more research into synopsis of certain books to find out if they are hidden gems, like this one! :)

Author's Bio:

Barbara Casey is the author of several award-winning novels for both adults and young adults, and numerous articles, poems, and short stories. In addition to her own writing, she is an editorial consultant and president of the Barbara Casey Agency, established in 1995, representing authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan.

In 2014 Barbara became a partner in Strategic Media Books Publishing, an independent publishing house that specializes in true crime and other cutting-edge adult nonfiction.

​Barbara lives on a mountain in Georgia with her husband and three dogs who adopted her: Benton, a hound-mix, Fitz, a miniature dachshund, and Gert, a Jack Russel terrier of sorts.

Connect with the author:  Website

Win 1 of 5 print / 1 of 5 ebooks of The Cadence of Gypsies (international)
One winner will also receive a $25 Amazon gift card

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I received this book from



Dara Roux, abandoned when she was 7 years old by her mother. Exceptionally gifted in foreign languages. Orphan.
Mackenzie Yarborough, no record of her parents or where she was born. Exceptionally gifted in math and problem-solving. Orphan.
Jennifer Torres, both parents killed in an automobile accident when she was 16. Exceptionally gifted in music and art. Orphan.
Three high-spirited 17 year olds with intelligent quotients in the genius range, accompany their teacher and mentor, Carolina Lovel, to Frascati, Italy, a few weeks before they are to graduate from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women. Carolina's purpose in planning the trip is to remove her gifted, creative students from the Wood Rose campus located in Raleigh, North Carolina, so they can't cause any more problems ("expressions of creativity") for the headmaster, faculty, and other students—which they do with regularity. 
Carolina also wants to visit the Villa Mondragone where the Voynich Manuscript, the most mysterious document in the world, was first discovered and attempt to find out how it is connected to a paper written in the same script she received on her 18th birthday when she was told that she was adopted.
This is the background for The Cadence of Gypsies. Constructed in 1573, the Villa Mondragone still stands today on a hill 416m above sea-level, in an area called, from its many castles and villas, Castelli Romani about 20 km (12 mi) southeast of Rome, near the ancient town of Tusculum.
In 1912 Wilfrid Michael Voynich purchased 30 manuscripts from the Jesuits at the Villa Mondragone, one of which was later to be known as the Voynich manuscript, a work that dates to the early 15th century, and is considered the “most mysterious manuscript in the world.”

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Murder on Safari by Peter Riva

Title: Murder on Safari
Author: Peter Riva
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Buy the book (really, I'm doing you a favor by putting these links so easily accessible :)     Amazon    Barnes & Noble     Chapters/Indigo

Only a reality TV producer and an expert safari guide can stop a terrorist attack.

Every adventure starts at the fringes of civilization. For expert safari guide Mbuno and wildlife television producer Pero Baltazar, filming in the wild of East Africa should have been a return to the adventure they always loved. This time they’d be filming soaring vultures in northern Kenya and giant sea crocodiles in Tanzania with Mary, the daughter of the world’s top television evangelist, the very reverend Jimmy Threte.

But when a terrorist cell places them in the crosshairs, there is suddenly no escape and they must put their filming aside and combine all their talents to thwart an all-out al-Shabaab terrorist attack on Jimmy Threte’s Christian gathering of hundreds of thousands in Nairobi, Kenya.

The problem is, Pero has a secret—he's been working as a clandestine courier for the US State Department for years. If anyone finds out, it may get them all killed. Exciting and expertly plotted, Murder on Safari is a gripping, edge-of-your-seat thriller set in the great wide-open plains of East Africa.


Have you ever had an author that you knew you would enjoy every book they ever wrote, no matter how different each book was from the other? I have found that author. Because I absolutely loved Murder on Safari, which is completely different than the previous book that I had read by this author, The Path. It doesn't pertain to this particular book, but I do suggest reading that one as well. It was such a great book, and completely took me by surprise at how much I was completely enamored by that book! 

But we are here for Murder on Safari, so without further ado, here are my thoughts.

This book started off at full speed.  I have been known to read a book or two that kind of just jumped into the "deep end" so to speak, and wasn't able to pull it off. But Mr. Peter Riva was able to do so masterfully. I was worried that with the action happening so early on, I wouldn't be connected to the characters that it was happening to. But I was wrong. It was like an instant switch was flipped when I started reading this book with the characters. I loved them all, and thought they were all well written and well-rounded characters. Even the ones that didn't get much playing time in the book, I still could remember them and distinctly point them out in my head as I was reading the book. 

With that said, I had a particular attachment to Mbuno. I don't know why, and am not particularly sure if Riva wrote him that way on purpose or if it's just me. I thought he was an interesting character to get to know, as well as watch things unfold around. He was meant to be a main character, that is for sure. But I am certain most people will connect with Pero more, but not me. And I am excited to know that there is another story containing Mbuno, so I will be picking that up very, very soon. I didn't read much of what it was about, because quite frankly Peter Riva is now an auto-need all his books author. But I do think it has to do with some story that is kind of eluded to in this book, so I am looking forward to learning more about that, hopefully. But whatever it is about, I'm sure it will be great, because it has my favorite safari guide in it!

The action in this book was spot on. I am not one to usually be driven by a lot of action, as I can read slower books and still enjoy them equally as much. But I have to admit, that I was forced to sit up a little straighter while reading bits of this book. I guess the phrase "at the edge of your seat" would pertain quite accurately to this book. I felt that it was paced just right to keep you needing to read more. It started off almost immediately with one Pero's crew me members being murdered, and that isn't really a spoiler as it's on the back of the book. This kind of explains my earlier statement of how it kind of just jumps into the plot straight off, because this happens day one of the filming. And once that happens, it's kind of all downhill from there, with a lot of stuff happening all over the place. 

I will briefly touch on the setting of this book, as many people before me have better written about it. I loved that this book took place in areas of Africa that I have never read about. And Peter Riva was able to capture the setting of each new place just so that I was able to picture them perfectly in my mind, with little to no knowledge of most of the places. The setting came to life, and that is hard to do for a reader that hasn't experienced any of those places much, even in school. 

All in all, this book was great. I feel that if you are a reader of thrillers, you will get great enjoyment out of this book, with added bonuses all throughout with the descriptions of the animals and places, and the added filming aspect (which I thought was a great bonus to this plot of this story, and extremely interesting to read about...even though I am just now touching on it). And if  you aren't a reader of thrillers, but just like really well written books with awesome characters and a drivable plot line...this is also the book for you. So glad I was able to be a part of this tour, as I had received an email about the sequel and wanted to join, but hadn't read this one yet. So, thank you Mr. Riva for sending me this book and the sequel for review, I look forward to picking up your next book and all the future ones you write! 


A lifelong reader! :)

Author's Bio:

Peter Riva has spent many months over 30 years travelling throughout Africa and Europe. Much of this time was spent with the legendary guides for East African hunters and adventurers. He created a TV series in 1995 called Wild Things for Paramount. Passing on the fables, true tales, and insider knowledge of these last reserves of true wildlife is his passion. Nonetheless, his job for over forty years has been working as a literary agent. In his spare time, Riva writes science fiction and African adventure books. He lives in Gila, New Mexico.

Connect with the author:   Website   Twitter   Facebook

Win 1 of 5 sets of print copies of Murder on Safari and The Berlin Package and
1 of 2 $25 Amazon gift cards (open internationally)

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Monday, April 11, 2016

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

Title: Tuck Everlasting
Author: Natalie Babbitt
Genre: Children's Fantasy
Source: Bought....a long time ago (19+ years)


Doomed to - or blessed with - eternal life after drinking from a magic spring, the Tuck family wanders about trying to live as inconspicuously and comfortably as they can. When ten-year-old Winnie Foster stumbles on their secret, the Tucks take her home and explain why living forever at one age is less a blessing that it might seem. Complications arise when Winnie is followed by a stranger who wants to market the spring water for a fortune.


I hadn't read this book, or even thought about it much, since probably middle school. I picked it up to fulfill the "read a book that has been on your TBR for over a year" challenge in the #TBRTakedown 3.5 readathon that I participated in this past weekend. It has been sitting on my shelf for almost 19 years, ever since I read it in school and then picked it up at one of those scholastic book fairs. So, even though I had read this book, it wasn't this particular copy, and I figured it was time to revisit this childhood classic.

I always worry about revisiting old favorites. Especially children's books as an adult. But I needed worry on either account with this book. It help up to both just a re-read (I worry that I will predict each thing as it happens and take away from the enjoyment level of the read) and as an adult reading a children's book (it completely help my attention and had me captivated just as it did all those years ago).

I loved the messages throughout this book. It blew me away at how thoughtful and beautiful and poignant the author was in what she wanted to say with this story. And even as an adult, I was able to get so much out of this read that I wasn't expecting. It made me think a lot, and that always makes me happy when books are able to do that, but especially children's books. Because even though they might not get the same depth out of the book/message, they are going to get something the author is trying to portray, and that is a wonderful thing.

I was a little shocked by some of the scenes in this book, as it is intended for a younger audience. But at the same time really liked that the author didn't shy away from certain aspects of human nature when faced with immortality just because it was for younger readers. That makes the book even more of a hard hitter, and that much more important. Even though I was surprised by these moments, I wouldn't have wanted them told any other way, because they mean something in the story, and the characters development depend on them.

Winifred and the Tucks were such amazing characters. They jumped out of the page, in such a short amount of time I grew to be attached to them and their story so much. I wanted so much more story than we got, just based on the kind of cut scene at the end, but then again it was short because of the audience intended, so it made a lot of sense to do it the way the author did. I kind of felt that the development was a little uneven as far as the Tucks went. It seemed almost like an old '90s band cover. Jesse Tuck being the close-up and the other Tucks kind of faded in the background. I would say that the father might have been almost even with Jesse, but other than that we got little attachment to Miles, in my opinion. And that little bit kind of bothered me a bit as an adult reading it.

Overall, I was pleased with this read. It really got me thinking about how much more adults can get out of reading children's books. I don't know if my experience would have been different if I hadn't already had a connection with the story, and was already familiar with it, but I do recommend this for anyone. It packs a punch, that is for sure. And it is such a fun read overall.