Book Review: Five Weeks in the Amazon

ww-8Title: Five Weeks in the Amazon

Author: Sean Michael Hayes

Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir

Rating: 3 Stars



If you enjoy a fast-paced read and a true story, Five Weeks in the Amazon is the book for you. It’s packed with humor, full of unexpected twists and there is never any way to know how it will end. Author Sean Michael Hayes has written a book in a similar style to current blockbuster success, Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild”. His adventure puts him face to face with universal problems that we all must overcome in life. His search is a desperate attempt at something he has fought for since first being diagnosed with depression–how to live a happy life.

Hayes presents solutions which seem like wins not just for himself, but for the reader that’s right there with him. Want to find out what happened to a backpacker that hiked alone into the Amazon jungle and live with a shaman? Buy the first edition now.


I don’t often read memoirs or other non-fiction works. They are a difficult genre to review. I can’t rate a memoir like a fictional story, the characters involved are as they are presented and can’t be judged on their complexity or the pleasantness of their personalities. So going into this review, keep in mind that I’m limited on what I can rate on a book such as this.

As far as the technical aspect of this book goes, the book was decently written. There were a few typos, missing lines, and added words, but mostly these were inconsequential. The book did drag for me in the second half, but I realize that there is only so much that can be done about pace when the topic of the book is mostly the existential wanderings and philosophies of self-awareness being described by a man on a drug-induced vision quest.

To be honest, the book wasn’t what I expected, and certainly not what I thought I’d picked up. It may be my own fault for not reading the description thoroughly, but I thought I’d be reading a book about a man who went into the Amazon jungle looking for adventure and didn’t come out for five weeks. That both is, and isn’t what this book was about. I expected tales of being lost, surviving on foreign wildlife, maybe some near-death moments of adrenaline… instead, I got a tale about a deeply depressed man who met all sorts of strange people, did a lot of drugs, and who spent the better part of five weeks self-analyzing himself while hallucinating.

Though interesting, the book wasn’t what I’d expected, and I don’t think I was in the right mindset to enjoy it as thoroughly as I may have had I been looking for what this book actually was. I got bored at parts. I couldn’t relate to the drug use. It just wasn’t something I was interested in. Still, it made me think, and even if the book wasn’t what I was looking for, I do think it taught me something and I am glad that I read it.

I think if you are looking for a little self-introspection, you should give this book a try. If you’re looking for an adventure story about the Amazon, you may want to keep looking. This was an adventure, and yes, it did take place in the Amazon, but not in the way you are probably expecting.

Book Review: Spirit Legacy

ww-7Title: Spirit Legacy [The Gateway Trilogy 1]

Author: E.E. Holmes

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult, Mystery

Rating: 4 Stars



“The Gateway is open.”

These cryptic words wake college student Jess Ballard from a terrifying dream into an even more terrifying reality.

Jess’ life has never been what anyone would call easy; doing damage control in the wake of your nomadic, alcoholic mother doesn’t exactly make for a storybook childhood. But now her world has fallen apart just when it should be coming together: her mother gone—dead under mysterious circumstances; her life uprooted to stay with estranged relatives she’s never met; and … and there’s something odd about some of the people she’s been meeting at school:

They’re dead!

Aided by Tia, her neurotic roommate, and Dr. David Pierce, a ghost-hunting professor, Jess must unravel the mystery behind her hauntings. But the closer she gets to the truth, the more danger shadows her every move. An ancient secret, long-buried, is about to claw its way to the surface, and nothing can prepare Jess for one terrifying truth …

… her encounters with the world of the dead are only just beginning.


I liked Spirit Legacy by E.E. Holmes, although it did have a bit of a familiar feel to it.

Technically speaking, the book was well written. There were no obvious typos, grammatical errors, or misplaced punctuation. The text read fluidly and cleanly and I felt engaged by the plot and characters.

There was, however, one thing that made this a 4 star read rather than a 5 star. The plot was cliché. Teen sees dead people? Been done. Crazy teen sees dead people? Also been done. A Goth character that meets a ghost and doesn’t realize he is one? Again, been done. It was all very familiar. I wasn’t wowed by any particular part of the story because the plot was the same as hundreds of other books in the genre just like it. There were no surprising twists or big revelations.

Does that mean I didn’t enjoy the story? No. I did enjoy the story. I liked the characters (mostly), the writing/voice of the book—and sure, the plot was cliché, but I was still entertained.

Overall, I liked the book a lot despite its flaws. If you like teen ghost stories or paranormal mysteries, you’ll probably like it too. I’d recommend you give it a read. Although it wasn’t new or surprising, I look forward to seeing how this story continues further along in the series—who knows, maybe there are surprises in store.

Book Review: Out of the Past

ww-6Title: Out of the Past [Heritage Time Travel Romance 1]

Author: Dana Roquet

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Fantasy, Time Travel

Rating: 3 Stars



Torie Mills is beautiful, successful and a New York Times best-selling historical romance author. Determined to find some solace from her fast paced and demanding life, she decides to move to Mahaska County, Iowa—a mile outside of the tiny town of Fremont and into her great-great-grandparent’s old homestead. Her plan is to restore the property to its 1870 glory days.

She hires handsome, renovation expert Dave Cameron to do the work and together they bring the old Victorian house back to life. When Torie moves in, she discovers that restoring the house has opened a portal into the past. Time traveling each night to the Fremont of old, becomes her wonderful escape and her secret obsession.

When she and Dave become lovers, he gets swept into the travels as well—until they both realize, much too late, that there was evil in the past that would have been better left alone…


I have mixed feelings about Out of the Past by Dana Roquet. Going in, I was under the impression that this was a time travel romance—and it both was and wasn’t. I’d expected maybe your typical endearing romance with some steamy sex and some time travel thrown in to mess things up for the characters, but that isn’t what I got. Instead, I got a story that revolved mostly around dreams of the past heritage of two families with a little bit of romance, and very little time travel involved at all.

Technically speaking, the story was decently written. The plot was new and interesting. I liked the characters, and with a few small exceptions for some flowery writing, the narrative was clean and easy to read. There were no obvious spelling mistakes, incorrect punctuation or grammar, and the sentence structures flowed well.

Unfortunately, the pace was also painfully slow. The detail lever was a bit distracting at times, often with the characters rambling on for two or three pages at a time about the histories of certain objects, complicated genealogical lines, and endless lists of replaced historical artifacts. Frankly, I was bored when the main character droned on about the history of her house and family. I had expected the book to be all about the romance and time travel but soon discovered that it had little to do with either. The story was more often about the love of the character’s restoration work and historical research, and I just wasn’t interested.

To make matters worse, the time travel wasn’t really time travel at all, and as far as I could tell, served no purpose in the plot. The characters didn’t learn anything or solve any problems by traveling (I use this term lightly) into the past. The most it did was fill in some blanks on the family tree and spur on the main character’s shopping sprees for antiques for her newly refurbished historical home.

The romance itself was a bit watered down, and in a way, almost too perfect. There was little to no tension between the couple and they never made any mistakes. The male lead said the right things at the right time, and overall, it came across as bland and contrived.

In the end, I had to give the book a 3-star rating. It wasn’t a bad book, but it wasn’t great either. I wasn’t engaged by the story or characters. Instead, it felt like a very long, drawn-out history lesson. It just wasn’t my idea of a gripping romance, and not what I thought I was going to be reading when I picked it up.

Book Review: Forever His

cover-review-forever hisTitle: Forever His [Stolen Brides 1]

Author: Shelly Thacker

Genre: TIme Travel, Fantasy, Romance, Historical

Rating: 5 Stars



She is Celine Fontaine, the American darling of the venerable Fontaine family, celebrating the New Year at the family’s ancestral French chateau. As the clock strikes midnight, Celine is alone in her bedroom, barely aware of a lunar eclipse, until she is blinded by a sudden light and loses consciousness. She awakens to total darkness — in bed with a naked stranger — and a world that is not her own.

The man who shares Celine’s bed is Sir Gaston de Varennes and the year is 1300. Gaston believes that the beautiful redhead is Christiane de la Fontaine, whom the King has decreed he marry in order to end a generation of bitter feuding. Yet despite his resolve to shun her, Gaston finds Celine irresistible. Overwhelmed by passion, they dare to steal the magic moments that may be all to brief — to surrender to desires that promise forever . . . and a love that spans the centuries.


I adored Forever His by Shelly Thacker. I’ve been on a bit of a time travel romance bender the past week and being the 7th of it’s kind that I’ve read in a row, I was starting to get used to the idea that I wasn’t going to run into any 5-star reads in the genre. After all, I picked up this book on a whim from Amazon back when it was FREE—and the FREE section on Amazon is often very hit or miss when it comes to quality. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to find a genuinely solid read.

Technically speaking, the book was exceedingly well written. I ran into  maybe one or two typos the entire book. The grammar, punctuation, spelling, and the structure was spot-on. The narrative was clear and easy to follow, and I sunk into the story effortlessly. I found the world building to be well fleshed out without being overbearing, and the characters seemed to be genuine people with thought-out personalities.

I fell in love with Celine and Gaston as a couple. Celine was a genuine character, and I found it easy to relate to her. Gaston was hopelessly pig-headed at times and more than a little jaded, but the challenge of watching Celine bring him out of his shell against his will was an entertaining ride. They made a magnificent couple.

I honestly don’t have any complaints about the book. That is so incredibly rare for me to say, so bravo Ms. Thacker! I loved this book and the rich story of Celine and Gaston and their escapades in time, and I’d be happy to recommend it to anyone looking for a solid time travel romance to sink into.

Free Fiction Friday #59

Hello ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday #59! For those of you who are new to this blog or who may have missed out on the previous Free Fiction Fridays, every Friday I post an article containing 10 fiction e-books that are 100% FREE on Amazon at the time of posting and an additional 5 that are roughly of the same genre and on sale for less than $5. I try my best to make sure they are all 4+ stars and over 40+ reviews and 100 pages minimum—sot that you can get a list of the best-of-the-best to choose from and enjoy over the long weekend (while I do more important things than post, like laundry). I try to switch up the genres every week, and this week our theme is: EPIC FANTASY!





Book Review: A Connecticut Fashionista in King Arthur’s Court

cover-review-a connecticut fashionista in king arthur's courtTitle: A Connecticut Fashionista in King Arthur’s Court [Twisted Time 1]

Author: Mari Macusi

Genre: Romance, Historical, Fantasy, Time Travel

Rating: 3 Stars



Once upon a time there lived an outspoken fashion editor named Kat, who certainly was not your typical damsel in distress. But when a gypsy curse sent her back in time to the days of King Arthur, she found she’d need every ounce of her 21st century wits (and pop culture references) to navigate the legend. After all, surviving a magical plot, an evil prince, and a case of mistaken identity – all without changing history or scuffing your Manolos – takes some doing!

Luckily, she’s got her very own knight in shining armor, Lancelot du Lac, on her side. The honorable-to-a-fault and devastatingly handsome champion insists on helping her out, even though she’s not quite sure she wants him to. After all, shouldn’t he be off romancing Queen Guenevere or something? Will Kat manage to stay out of trouble long enough to get back to her beloved lattes, cosmopolitans and cashmere? And what will Lancelot’s forbidden love mean for the kingdom of Camelot?


It took a long time for me to decide what rating to give A Connecticut Fashionista in King Arthur’s Court by Mari Mancusi. This was the fun, sometimes silly, often thrilling adventure of Kat—a fashion editor who’s all about Starbucks and her Manolo’s, and not so much about medieval life—but it wasn’t without its snares.

Technically speaking, the writing was pretty decent. I found a small handful of typos throughout the book, but nothing terribly jarring. The writing overall was fluid, clear, and fast-paced. I didn’t feel like I was stumbling through awkward word choices or grammar issues. The romance between Lancelot and Kat was believable and steamy, and I rooted for them throughout the book. The world building was familiar and stuck pretty true to the core tale of Arthur and Camelot, and I enjoyed the idea behind the plot.

The problem for me, unfortunately, was Kat herself. I found it very difficult to like Kat. Honestly, she was kind of obnoxious and definitely more than a little self-centered. Her words and choices throughout the book were made with little forethought, often resulting in misunderstandings and trouble for the people around her, and instead of outright apologizing, most of the time she just pouted in her head about how no one liked her because she made bad first impressions. She certainly did at that—I hated her personality and found her more than a little annoying.

Still, the book was fun and a certainly interesting mash-up of an old classic tale and modern day drama.  Overall, I rated the book a “meh”. I liked it, I’m glad I read it, but I would have liked it a lot more had Kat not been as obnoxious, and had her actions had more realistic consequences. She just wasn’t my idea of a fun heroine to follow around for the entirety of a book.

Book Review: Beyond The Fortune Teller’s Tent

review-cover-beyond the fortune teller's tentTitle: Beyond The Fortune Teller’s Tent [Beyond 1]

Author: Kristy Tate

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult, Time Travel, Historical

Rating: 4 Stars



When Petra Baron goes into the fortuneteller’s tent at a Renaissance fair, she expects to leave with a date to prom. Instead, she walks out into Elizabethan England, where she meets gypsies, a demon dog and a kindred spirit in Emory Ravenswood.

Emory must thwart the plans of religious zealots. His mission is dangerous, his enemies are fanatical, and Petra Baron is a complication that Heaven only knows he does not need. Or does he? Although Emory is on Heaven’s errand, he learned long ago that Heaven does not always play fair.

As Petra slowly falls for Emory, she wonders if he really is who he seems, or if he is just as lost as she is. How can they have a future while trapped in the past? Or is anything possible Beyond the Fortuneteller’s Tent?


What a strange, but entertaining book. I picked up Beyond the Fortune Teller’s Tent by Kristy Tate on a whim after spotting it on Amazon for FREE. I’m a huge fan of time travel, and the book seemed to be right up my alley. I wasn’t wrong.

As far as the technical side of things goes, the book was well written. There were one or two typos, but nothing that distracted me from the story for more than a split second. The writing was clear and easy to follow, and I was engaged with the story from the very first page until the very last.

I adored the characters—particularly Emory, but also Mary, Anne, and Garret. I’ll admit I had my doubts about Petra—no offense to the teen, but there were times when she made really stupid comments/decisions that made me want to roll my eyes. I understood why she made them, though. She was definitely a fish out of water in the 1600’s.

My biggest complaints were the loopholes and tiny unfinished bits throughout the book. They weren’t enough to make me not enjoy the story as a whole, but they were distracting from time to time. One minute Petra was convinced she was dreaming, the next she knew exactly what year she was in without ever having to ask. She went from not knowing what to do in her relationship with Emory, to suddenly being in a genuine relationship with very little transition. I sometimes just had to step back, take a breath, and say “okay, so, that’s a thing now.” and move on.

Overall, it was a good book. Was it the best time travel romance I’ve read? No. I wish there had been a little more world building—but it was still a decent read, and it fit the YA genre well. It was a fun little adventure, a sweet romance, and I’m happy to have read it. If you like YA fantasy Romances, particularly delving into time travel, I recommend you give this a try.