Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy

BrandedFrom Goodreads: Fifty years ago The Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadly sins were the downfall of society.

To punish the guilty, he created the Hole, a place where sinners are branded according to their sins. Sinners are forced to live a less than human existence in deplorable conditions, under the watchful eye of guards who are ready to kill anyone who steps out of line.

Now, LUST wraps around my neck like thick, blue fingers, threatening to choke the life out of me. I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit, and the Hole is my new home.

Constant darkness.

Brutal and savage violence.

Excruciating pain.

Every day is a fight for survival.

But I won’t let them win. I will not die in the Hole.

I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter. My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story.


I went through an entire array of emotions as I read this novel, from fear to joy to hatred to sadness, I really think the authors of Branded did an amazing job bringing the story to life.

Lexi is extremely real, and while I personally wanted to strangle her at times, her perseverance and mostly strong personality had her bouncing back, time and time again, even when no end to her pain was in sight—and that’s extremely admirable considering what she’s up against. Although insecure about herself due to abuse at the hands of her step-father, Lexi triumphs and focuses on the good that still remains in her life, even though she’s scared beyond belief. She grabs what little life she has left by the horns, and I really respect that about her.

I also really liked how this novel unfolded, Lexi’s insecurities aside. There’s a little bit of everything sprinkled into this novel, with a forbidden relationship (yet this novel certainly isn’t a romance novel), a corrupt world, immense danger, extreme tension, and a mystery surrounding the identity of the Commander—and it’s all incredibly well done. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride that the authors take us on, and this certainly is one hell of a ride, if the gamut of emotions expressed above are any type of indication.

While I did struggle with some of the actions and interactions of the characters here and there, mainly in regards to some of Lexi’s insecurities, overall, this is an extremely well written, action packed novel that held me captive throughout the pages. And while I did momentarily lose some interest around the middle with Lexi’s antics, I plugged through and found it to be a highly explosive read that I highly recommend. Four stars.

4 starsI received this novel from the publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

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The Graveyard KissFrom Goodreads:

Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all…

But really? Is it? Luci, a true believer in Victorian love poetry, is about to find out whether her teenaged heart and soul is up to surviving a boyfriend who prefers elegies … and the ancient evil he might have dug up on the Internet.


This short story is an entertaining read, with a twist that is absolutely perfect. Doidge’s stories always draw me in, and although this is a very short story set in the world of The Dowser Series, it’s characters are new. And yet, the characterization and emotions Doidge elegantly writes onto the page quickly drew me into the plot—even at only 7000 words. I’d love to see this go somewhere—perhaps Luci will show up in the next Dowser Series novel? One can hope. Four stars.

4 stars

I purchased this short story from Amazon

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Spirits and Spells Review:

From Goodreads: Ivy LaRue didn’t intend on being happy when she moved to Sage Springs, Mo., but that’s exactly what happened. First, Eliza and Lexi wiggled in through the cracks of her carefully constructed defensive walls. Now her best friend, a spirit, is in the flesh thanks to mysterious circumstances. And Ivy can’t help but notice it’s some mighty fine flesh, which just adds another layer of complication to her life.

With only days to find a cure to keep her friend in human form, Ivy attempts to find the town’s magical spring to save his life. While doing so, however, she must battle an unseen spirit who seems determined to make Ivy’s life as difficult as possible. Assistance comes from unlikely places as she faces her past to attain the future she never thought she wanted.

Casting spells, dodging love and forming friendships soon make this snarky witch realize life is much more interesting than she ever imagined it could be.


After reading Hollie Westring’s debut novel, Whispers and Wishes, I was sold on the beautiful and haunting town of Sage Springs. With her quirky characters, charming townsfolk, and overall laid back atmosphere, Westring easily draws readers into Sage Springs, throwing in twists and turns where we’d least expect it.

Whereas Whispers and Wishes focuses on the character of Eliza, Spirits and Spells gives readers a more in-depth look at Eliza’s spunky sidekick, Ivy LaRue, a young woman running from both past and present. Bedding down in the illustrious Sage Springs, with her candle business booming and the magical realm just beneath her fingertips, Ivy’s story drew me in right away, especially as I see a bit of myself in her. A little stand-offish and full of snark, Ivy’s cover for her heart of gold, she continually blames herself, closing doors on relationships before one can say “happily ever after.” But when a dark spell begins to threaten those she loves, Ivy really begins to come into herself, and there is no limit on surprises that Westring throws at readers as this sweet love story unfolds.

Oliver is, of course, to die for… He completes Ivy in a way no else ever has, and I just loved their back and forth quips throughout the novel. Hilarity ensues as the novel progresses, and Ivy’s strong kick-butt personality, along with Eliza’s pragmatism, Lexi’s cheer, and Oliver’s swoonworthyness will make this a novel you won’t soon forget. With a dash of mystery, romance, and magic, this novel is sure to be your perfect afternoon read. Four stars.

4 starsIn exchange for an honest review, I received an ARC of this novel from the author.


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Hollie WestringAbout the Author:

Hollie Westring hails from Kansas City, Mo. She used to be a journalist, which probably explains her extreme dislike of the serial comma and her preference for AP style.

After realizing the hours of journalists were not productive to any type of social or family life, she settled into a job at a publishing syndicate. She worked with comics, astrology columns, word puzzles and feature columns for six years. Although she enjoyed her time there, Hollie decided to leave the nine-to-five world and join the twenty-four/seven world of motherhood. Now she edits from home.

When not writing, editing or reading, Hollie can be found baking cookies or watching more than her fair share of crime TV. She’s a loyal Royals and Chiefs fan.


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