Book Review: The Secret Healer (Die heimliche Heilerin #1) by Ellin Carsta, Terry Laster (Translator)

In the fourteenth century, opportunities for women are limited to the home. But spirited young Madlen finds her calling as assistant to the city’s trusted midwife, Clara. Working alongside Clara, Madlen develops a surprisingly soothing technique and quickly becomes a talented healer.

After Clara’s tragic death, Madlen alone rushes to assist the birth of a local nobleman’s child. But rather than the joy of birth, Madlen walks into an accusation of murder and witchcraft because of her extraordinary gifts. Forced to flee her own town, she establishes a new identity in the home of her aunt. Yet even though it endangers her life, she cannot resist the urge to help the sick patients who seek out her miraculous treatment. When she meets handsome Johannes—an investigator hired by the Church to bring her to justice for sacrilegious acts—she becomes drawn to the very man who could destroy her.

Will Madlen’s gifts bring about her downfall? Or can love and reason prevail in a time of fearful superstition?

I love a good historical fiction that has a healer in it. This was a fun and fast paced read. The only thing that kept it from being a full 5 gemstone rating for me was that a few of the characters could have used a little more rounding, they were a little bit flat. Overall, however, this was a great read and that flatness could just be something lost in translation.

You can’t help but feel sorry for a wonderful woman like Madlen, especially as things like this did actually happen often back in these times. A woman who knew how herbal medicines worked, how to help calm people while sick and bring them through a bad fever among other things. They were the ones who could help the most and yet they were treated the worst, so many of them killed purely for having knowledge. I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but Madlen certainly goes through the ringer. Each and every time that she thinks she has finally found a way she can enjoy life, be happy for a while things turn terrible for her. I know not everyone will agree with me, but I think this book is certainly worth your time to read it.

My Gemstone Rating:


Book Review: Fairest (An Unfortunate Fairy Tale #2) by Chanda Hahn

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall,
Who is the Fairest of them all?

In the sequel to UnEnchanted, Mina Grime discovers that all is not fair when it comes to the Fae and their tales, especially when they don’t all play by the rules. Barely surviving the Story’s first fairy tale quest, Mina still has hundreds to go before she can end the curse on her family. But a new player arises to challenge Mina while new rules revamp the game she has just barely begun to understand.

All the while, people are mysteriously disappearing, including Jared, whom Mina must finally determine to be friend or foe. And with the loss of her greatest weapon, Mina must try to outwit a deadly hunter. Can Mina survive the most difficult quest yet while protecting those she loves from falling victim to one of the lethal tales of all? Or will she become a pawn when she strikes a bargain with the Queen of Fae

Book two and we are spending time with Mina again as she works on completing the stories and lifting the curse from her family. This time Mina is going to find out that things are even more difficult than she first thought they were, and things were hard before. Mina learns a hard lesson that the Fae especially the Sidhe never play fair when it comes to making deals and getting things their own way, even in their own fairy tales. If Mina didn’t have it hard enough, she loses the Grimoire and Jared, while other people are going missing too.

“Even a pawn can take down a queen.”

This is my favorite sentence from the entire book, of course it is one I have heard before anyways, but I will always like it. Much like the first book of the series I really enjoyed this book. I admit there were a few more things in this one that annoyed me, and that is why I couldn’t give it the full 5 gems. I really wanted to because the book is captivating. It deepens a lot of the characters and it is the kind of book you can enjoy in one short sitting and then move onto the next.

So you ask what annoyed you then Ambrosia?

Sad to say Mina annoyed me a fair amount. I know this is YA and you are going to see that happen with YA, but oh man I just wanted to shake her sometimes. Perhaps that is a reflection on me and getting older. There were a lot of times where Mina was very selfish and so impatient she did more harm than good for things. I hope this is just part of the growth of the character, that her impatience will be something that improves as the series goes. But I will admit for this book, it really did annoy me, she could have saved herself a lot of trouble by being a little bit more patient. Mina did seem to grow a bit near the end of the book, so perhaps that is a glimpse at things to come.

Of course I also just adore Jared, at this point I feel like I enjoy him more than Mina. He is one of those male characters that has depth and you would love to spend time with in real life. To sum it all up, this is a solid installment and enough to make me more than likely read the next in the series soon.

My Gemstone Rating:


Book Review: UnEnchanted (An Unfortunate Fairy Tale #1) by Chanda Hahn

Mina Grime is unlucky, unpopular and uncoordinated; until she saves her crush’s life on a field trip, changing her High School status from loser to hero overnight. But with her new found fame brings misfortune in the form of an old family curse come to light. For Mina is descended from the Brothers Grimm and has inherited all of their unfinished fairy tale business. Which includes trying to outwit a powerful Story from making her it’s next fairytale victim.

To break the fairy tale curse on her family and make these deadly occurrences stop, Mina must finish the tales until the very Grimm end.


I admit I loved the show Grimm as soon as it came out. While I am behind on the seasons of the show, these days I still love the idea of there being Grimm’s in the world and all the fun supernatural going on’s that goes with it. So of course, when I got a chance to pick this book up as a freebie I was happy to do it. Poor Mina is just a girl who is a klutz and not very popular in school. Essentially, she just wants to get through High school, call it a day and move on with life. Then of course she ends up saving her crush’s life and everything starts to change in her life.
Mina has to make her way through life while all the fairy tales we have ever heard of (and then some) essentially try to take her out. The curse of the family means they have to follow the stories, play them out use a little help from the Grimoire and make it out alive. No one in her entire family history has ever reached the end of the curse, beating all the stories so that the curse can be lifted. If that wasn’t bad enough there are a great deal of other characters and bad guys who also want to take the Grimoire for their own bad reasons.
I actually really enjoyed this book. You always take a risk when you get a freebie, but the idea of this was good and I liked how the characters grew. Yes, some of the way the plot was moved along was a little bit cliche, and a few things seemed a bit slow. Overall though the book was still a fun, short read. The only reason that I am not giving this a 5 gem review, is because the editing was really really bad. I am not perfect by any means when it comes to writing reviews, but ouch. I also know not everyone can afford a professional editor (as a freelance writer, I get it really) but at the very least I feel everyone should have a couple of friends who like to read to use as Beta readers. Even something as simple as that will enable you to catch some glaring issues and make the experience of reading better once you publish. Terrible editing aside, the book was fun and good enough to get me interested in reading the next part of the series.


My Gemstone Rating:


Book Review: A Hidden Fire (Elemental Mysteries, #1)by Elizabeth Hunter

“No secret stays hidden forever.”

A phone call from an old friend sets Dr. Giovanni Vecchio back on the path of a mystery he’d abandoned years before. He never expected a young librarian could hold the key to the search, nor could he have expected the danger she would attract. Now he and Beatrice De Novo will follow a twisted maze that leads from the archives of a university library, through the fires of Renaissance Florence, and toward a confrontation they never could have predicted.

A Hidden Fire is a paranormal mystery/romance for adult readers. It is the first book in the Elemental Mysteries Series.

I am really on the fence with how I feel about this book which is why I ended up giving it 3 gems. The book plot is solid and the characters are interesting and have depth. However, things just seemed to drag along slowly. Beyond that I have to admit that sometimes the characters were so childish you expected to see them passing notes. Gio was a curious character sometimes I liked him and sometimes I just wanted to slap him. Lorenzo would have been fun had he been the REAL Lorenzo De Medici,but nope of course he couldn’t be that epic historical person.

Sadly I can’t really write a whole lot more about this book because in the end I just felt very Meh about it. I didn’t hate it, I didn’t love it. The read was okay but nothing that will probably stick with me. The only thing I will probably remember for a while is that fact that Gio had the power of fire and electricity, many of the Vampires in this story are elemental and Fire of course is the most dangerous for their kind. So that one part was very interesting. If the story had a little faster pace maybe it would be more then meh for me. I might try to tead the next one in the series, but we will see.

My Gemstone Rating:


Book Review: The King’s Damsel (Secrets of the Tudor Court #5) by Kate Emerson

In the fifth novel in Kate Emerson’s highly acclaimed Secrets of the Tudor Court series, a young gentlewoman catches King Henry the Eighth’s roving eye.In 1533 and again in 1534, Henry the Eighth reportedly kept a mistress while he was married to Anne Boleyn. Now, that mistress comes to vivid life in Kate Emerson’s The King’s Damsel.
A real-life letter from Spanish Ambassador Eustace Chapuys, written on September 27, 1534, reported that the king had “renewed and increased the love he formerly bore to another very handsome young lady of the Court” and that the queen had tried “to dismiss the damsel from her service.” Other letters from Eustace reveal that the mystery woman was a “true friend” of the Princess (later Queen) Mary, Henry’s daughter by Catherine of Aragon. Though no one knows who “the king’s damsel” really was, here Kate Emerson presents her as young gentlewoman Thomasine Lodge, a lady-in-waiting to King Henry’s daughter, Princess Mary. Thomasine becomes the Princess’s confidante, especially as Henry’s marriage to Catherine dissolves and tensions run high. When the king procures a divorce in order to marry Anne Boleyn, who is suspicious and distrustful of Mary, Mary has Thomasine placed in Anne’s service to be her eyes and ears. And that’s when she gets the attention of the king…
Rich in historical detail and featuring a wealth of bonus material, The King’s Damsel is sure to keep readers coming back for more in the exciting series!

Something very strange happened to this review. I had it written, scheduled and all ready to go back in 2015! I did not really check on it (my mistake, obviously I should have) and assumed it posted to the blog. When I was doing a clean up after moving over and checking to make sure everything was running smoothly since moving over from Fire & Ice to The Purple Booker, I found part of the post. After doing a search through everything I could not find the rest and saw that this one never actually posted. So, after all that long babble and with no further gilding of the lily here is a review from 2015 that really should have gone up ha ha! I may even have to go back and read the book again now.

Tamsin is a Lady of good family who was used to being tended to herself, her life like many in the upper reaches of Tudor era had the best of things. However, she was tapped to be part of the court of Mary Tudor and then found herself in the servant role. Making matters worse is the fact that after her parents die she becomes the charge of Sir Lionel Daggett, there is no love lost between both of them. No love lost at all.

Like the other books in this series I found this a fast paced and fun read. All the history is there and author Kate Emerson builds upon what we know to add her own twist to things. Of course King Henry is around, but I love that the focus of this series is the smaller people in the court, those players that most often only sit in the background in fiction of this era. It is these players that make up an entire court, though, the King and his family are such a small portion. If you enjoy good historical fiction that has a little bit of love and a lot of other information to enjoy, I highly recommend not only this book but the entire series.

My Gemstone Rating:


Book Review: Black Mass by Dick Lehr, Gerard O’Neill

John Connoly and James “Whitey” Bulger grew up together on the streets of South Boston. Decades later, in the mid 1970’s, they would meet again. By then, Connolly was a major figure in the FBI’s Boston office and Whitey had become godfather of the Irish Mob. What happened next — a dirty deal to being down the Italian mob in exchange for protection for Bulger — would spiral out of control, leading to murders, drug dealing, racketeering indictments, and, ultimately, the biggest informant scandal in the history of the FBI.

Compellingly told by two Boston Globe reporters who were on the case from the beginning, Black Mass is at once a riveting crime story, a cautionary tale about the abuse of power, and a penetrating look at Boston and its Irish population.

The movie Black Mass was one that I really needed and wanted to see. I Have always been curious about crime bosses and Whitey is one of those larger then life characters. You would expect him to actually be a character in a movie not someone who was real. However, as someone who has committed to the read it first challenge no book no movie. So I dove into the book happily, but put off writing that review. I admit I have not been the best book blogger this year but I am working on changing that for the better. The new design and domain name as well as being the new hostess of long running meme’s Musing Monday and Teaser Tuesday gave me a breath of new life for book blogging. Alas I have gotten off subject, Black Mass the book.

This book is gritty and raw and honest. Some of the things that Whitey does whether himself or by order are just beyond the pale. He tries to act like he is a good guy a king of Robin Hood for his area and for some people he is. There are many in his neighborhood who like and respect him. The bottom line is that for me in this book Whitey was not the main bad guy, the FBI was in fact the main bad guy from my point of view. I might get stoned for that comment but I truly do believe it.

The FBI wanted to put a stop to a lot of mafia crime, which is of course understandable and plenty of people remember this era and how many top bosses went down. The problem is they essentially created a monster. Whitey was no choir boy when they got to him, but he was a relatively small little thug. That was until the FBI basically gave him carte blanche to do anything he wanted so long as he gave them information. Whitey gamed the system and played the FBI and continued to say he was not a rat.

This book is riveting and it is a warts and all kind of book. I was glued to the book from cover to cover and was a little bit sad when it was over. So to make a long rambling post short, I recommend it. The only reason that I gave it four gems instead of 5 is that honestly I really wanted it to be a little longer. What can I say I am a girl who loves research and enjoyable historical real life stories.

My Gemstone Rating:


Book Review: Doctor Thorne (Chronicles of Barsetshire #3)

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work.This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.As a reproduction of a historical artifact, this work may contain missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. We appreciate your support of the preservation process, and thank you for being an important part of keeping this knowledge alive and relevant.

I feel a bit like a silly girl admitting this, but when I picked this book off my shelf I totally forgot that it was part of a series. The good news is you can read it as a stand alone and still enjoy the book, or at least I did. Also means I can go back and enjoy the first two books in the series, always a win when you have more time with the characters.

This is a spellbinding book that draws you in and makes you love every part about it. The only reason I didn’t give it a 5 rating is because at times it dragged a little, which can be hard when reading such a long book. Beyond that however and I personally really enjoy it. The characters are rich and full of life. You can picture yourself walking along with them as they go through the motions. Anthony Trollope made a beautiful romance that you just have to dive in and reach for yourself to truly understand it. I personally feel that I would fail at finding the right words beyond what I have said just now to properly sum up my feelings on this book. The bottom line is, I recommend it, you should read it and allow yourself to be enveloped by the book.

My Gemstone Rating:


Book review: Kiss of Fire (Imdalind #1) by Rebecca Ethington

Joclyn Despain has been marred by a brand on her skin. She doesn’t know why the mark appeared on her neck, but she doesn’t want anyone to see it, including her best friend Ryland, who knows everything else about her. The scar is the reason she hides herself behind baggy clothes, and won’t let the idea of kissing Ryland enter her mind, no matter how much she wants to.
The scar is the reason she is being hunted.

If only she knew that she was.

If only she had known that the cursed stone her estranged father sent for her 16th birthday would trigger a change in her. Now, she is being stalked by a tall blonde man, and is miraculously throwing her high school bully ten feet in the air.

Joclyn attempts to find some answers and the courage to follow her heart. When Ryland finds her scar; only he knows what it means, and who will kill her because of it.

I wanted to like this book, I wanted to be in love with this book. Sadly the feeling I ended up having when it came to Kiss of Fire was just kind of meh. It wasn’t a bad book and all of the right things seemed to be there, a little mystery, some tension, two star crossed kids. Alas, something really just didn’t come together for me.

One nag I had about it was Joclyn hiding her scar so much. A huge deal was made of the scar, and without giving anything of the story away I get that. However, for me it is stretching a little to far to fathom that she managed to completely and successfully hide it for so long by wearing lots of hoodies. Hey, I enjoy hoodies too, but come on.

There was also a lot of Mary sue type situations and in the end, I really can’t take too much Mary sue these days, so maybe that was what really ended up bothering me the most. I may be saying a lot of negative in this review, but overall the book was readable. It was not the best book of the year, but it wasn’t the worst either. As I started with for me it was just a bit meh. That doesn’t mean someone else won’t enjoy it more than I did, because the potential is there. Toss in Ryland who suffered so much at the hands of his own Father and the book does give you some of those emotional punches that you need.

I might even give this series another try and check out the second book of the series. If the second book picks up the pace faster, it might bring me out of the Meh zone.

My Gemstone Rating:


Book Review: Savage Season (Hap and Leonard #1) by Joe R. Lansdale

A rip-roaring, high-octane, Texas-sized thriller, featuring two friends, one vixen, a crew of washed-up radicals, loads of money, and bloody mayhem.Hap Collins and Leonard Pine are best friends, yet they couldn’t be more different. Hap is an east Texas white-boy with a weakness for Texas women. Leonard is a gay, black Vietnam vet. Together, they steer up more commotion than a fire storm. But that’s just the way they like it. So when an ex-flame of Hap’s returns promising a huge score. Hap lets Leonard in on the scam, and that’s when things get interesting. Chockfull of action and laughs, Savage Season is the masterpiece of dark suspense that introduced Hap and Leonard to the thriller scene. It hasn’t been the same since.

I became interested in Hap & Leonoard when James Purefoy signed on for the new TV series. I admit this is not usually a book I would have picked up on my own, without something to prompt me. With that said I am so glad that I did pick it up because this is a fantastic book! It is very fast paced and the things that Hap and Leonard get into, oh you can’t help but think of it as a comedy of errors sometimes. They may be best friends but they bicker like an old married couple and they really are polar opposites. I am looking forward to going forward with the series both book and TV. The book really is fantastic and gave me a lot of laughs. It filled in more details for me after watching the series, and I can appreciate that. Hap, oh all I can do with some of the things he does is shake my head his name seems to suit.

My Gemstone Rating:


Book Review: Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander #2) by Diana Gabaldon

For nearly twenty years Claire Randall has kept her secrets. But now she is returning with her grown daughter to Scotland’s majestic mist-shrouded hills. Here Claire plans to reveal a truth as stunning as the events that gave it birth: about the mystery of an ancient circle of standing stones… about a love that transcends the boundaries of time… and about Jamie Fraser, a Scottish warrior whose gallantry once drew a young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his.

Now a legacy of blood and desire will test her beautiful copper-haired daughter, Brianna, as Claire’s spellbinding journey of self-discovery continues in the intrigue-ridden Paris court of Charles Stuart… in a race to thwart a doomed Highlands uprising… and in a desperate fight to save both the child and the man she loves

This book really is a great read, it also breaks your heart more then once. As the seasons of Outlander play, I have been rereading as the seasons come and I forgot how much I loved these books. Dragonfly in Amber is a new adventure and we get to spend a great deal of time with the beautiful and feisty Brianna. I always have a bit of a smile when I think of her, Jamie and Calire are both super stubborn in their own rights, mix the blood together and you get a girl who wants to do all of her own things no matter what anyone says.

Better yet we spend time in Paris, as Claire and Jamie have to work through the intrigue of court life. Trying to put off what happens at Culloden. If you are a fan of the show you should enjoy the books as well, the source material is great. If you have read the books it’s time to jump in once more for fun. Dragonfly in Amber is a stunning part of the series and great as a standalone as well.

My Gemstone Rating:


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