Beyond the Wicked Willow: Chronicles of a Teenage Witchslayer
by M.J. RocissonoJoe Rocissono
Published by BookBaby on September 7th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy & Magic
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FRANKIE FRETINI has had a horrible year. And, just when he thinks things are looking up, well...all heck breaks loose. It happens in home-ec class just moments after the girl of his dreams, Jenny Moran, invites him to the annual town carnival. Still dazed from the unexpected invite, Frankie accidentally plasters the face of school bully, Brick McDuddy, with a giant scoop of chocolate mousse.
Embarrassed, and fuming mad, Brick plots to deliver his painful revenge at the carnival. When Frankie, and his pals, Sam, Beef, and Bookworm show up to meet Jenny, Brick and his nasty bootlickers, Harold “The Horrible” Dunson and Billy “Scat” Pile, chase them into the eerie tent of an old Gypsy fortuneteller named Mala. Trapped with nowhere to run, Frankie makes a pact with Mala not knowing that he and his pals would be swept through her crystal ball to Medieval Italy. Now, their only hope to return home rests in Frankie's hands. He must kill the evil Italian witch, Il Strega Diavolo, and rescue Mala's twin sister, Tsura. But, can Frankie find the courage to face the Strega?
Review of Beyond the Wicked Willow
Beyond the Wicked Willow: Chronicles of a Teenage Witchslayer is a novel by author M.J. Rocissono. The story follows Frankie Fretini, a fourteen-year old boy who, unbeknownst to him, is destined to find and destroy an evil witch named Il Strega Diavolo. Frankie, still struggling with the death of his father who was killed in Iraq, spends a great deal of time with his best friends- Sam, Beef, and Bookworm. When they’re not all picking on each other and harboring secret crushes (though, I wanted to shake Bookworm a few times when Sam drops obvious hints for her affection), they’re dodging the bullying tactics by Brick McDuddy and his cohorts. It is during one of their mad dashes to get away from Brick at a carnival that they stumble across a fortune teller’s tent and are met by a mysterious, magical gypsy.
This gypsy, Mala, ends up thrusting Frankie and his friends 800 years into the past to medieval Calabria Italy where they are charged with finding her sister Tsura and defeating Il Strega Diavolo- thus ending the evil witch’s reign of terror. As the story progresses, fascinating characters are met, and some even join Frankie and his friends on their quest. For example, there’s Ambroggio- an older, one-eyed man who rescues them near the beginning of the story from wolf shapeshifters (who is harboring a secret of his own), and Capricia- an orphan girl with some serious fighting skills and spunk who is looking for revenge on the wolf shapeshifters and Il Strega for murdering her family. There is also an awkward, and sometimes cowardly knight Giacomo (who grew on me steadily through the story and seriously redeemed himself).
I loved the dynamic between Frankie and his friends. Their bond was strong, and I enjoyed their interactions. Sam, being the only girl among her three friends, is tough and confident. She jumps into the fray, is loyal, fierce, and knows how to hold her own in a fight. Bookworm got his nickname for a good reason- he frequently makes references throughout the story to different facts and tidbits of information- his total randomness was refreshing! Beef was a favorite of mine. He has a HUGE love for food (which, right there, endeared him to me) and is the proud inventor of the snack- S’meeps. I was secretly joyful by the blooming feelings between Beef and Capricia- they are just adorable. Finally, I enjoyed Frankie’s journey- mostly from an emotional and mental standpoint. I watched him grow from an unsure, hesitant boy who has not come to terms with his father’s passing, to a strong, confident young man on the cusp of finally healing. When he met his father in his dream and was told to relay a message to Frankie’s Mom…cue the waterworks!
Beyond the Wicked Willow was a complete emotional rollercoaster and a thrilling, addictive adventure! There were monsters galore spattered throughout the story- I’m talking terrifying spiders and snakes, werewolves, vampiric creatures, ogres, cursed warlords, pirates, and flying beasts. There were moments that made you laugh, moments that made you cry- seriously though, I won’t be able to look at a cypress now without getting teary-eyed, and moments that made your heart pound from the intensity. By the end of the story I already wanted to flip back to the beginning and start the adventure over. It was bittersweet to say goodbye to Frankie and his ragtag crew.
Finally, this quote here completely struck a chord with me:
“You must listen, boy. Life is a crucible. It brims with fierce trials. You must either surmount them or submit to them. A third choice does not exist. There are some things in life that simply cannot be changed.” -Ambroggio to Frankie Fretini.
Five stars for Beyond the Wicked Willow!! Wrong by Jana Aston
Published by Lulu.com on October 7th 2015
Genres: Fiction, Romance
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I have a history of picking the wrong guy. Gay? Player? Momma’s boy? Check, check and check. Now I can’t stop fantasizing about one of the customers at the coffee shop I work at between classes. It’s just a harmless crush, right? It’s not like I ever see this guy outside of the coffee shop. It’s not like I’m going to see him while attempting to get birth control at the student clinic. While wearing a paper gown. While sitting on an exam table. Because he’s the doctor. Shoot. Me. But what if, for once, the man I’ve had the dirtiest, most scandalous fantasies about turned out to be everything but wrong? Wrong is a full-length, standalone novel by Jana Aston
Review of Wrong
Wrong is a standalone contemporary romance novel by New York Times bestselling author Jana Aston. The story follows Sophie, a college senior who works at a coffee shop named Grind Me. For weeks she has been crushing on an older, attractive, and distinguished man by the name Luke who stops there occasionally for coffee. However, he barely seems to notice her. This lack of notice ends abruptly when Sophie visits with the campus volunteer gynecologist in order get birth control- only to discover that Luke is Dr. Miller when he strolls into the room to give her a pelvic exam. What ensues is a merry and hilarious chase as this awkward encounter turns into a string of interesting, albeit spicy, encounters.
Luke is the head of obstetrics at the hospital near the college and, though cold, calculated, and sometimes serious, allows Sophie to bring out the playful side of his personality. While Luke is conflicted about his age, his desire for Sophie, and his strained relationship with his family, Sophie struggles with her confidence, determining her place in Luke’s life, and how they can have a future together when they come from two very different worlds. Amid all these internal struggles, Sophie encourages Luke to experience many of the things he lacked from his own childhood. It was entertaining to see a man who is usually so calm, collected, and reasonable figure out how to use an Elf on the Shelf.
Wrong was an unexpected pleasure! I found myself laughing out loud, having to toss the book down and cover my face in mortification for the heroine, and fanning myself from all the extra hotness blasting from the pages. Some of the situations in the book were so comical I found it difficult to finish reading the pages due to all the tears clouding my vision. Just thinking about some of the situations Sophie found herself in makes me bust out into gales of laughter!
I read Wrong during a two-day trip to Boston. It was the perfect story to distract me from the 2-hour long train ride to and from Boston and Maine. So, if you’re looking for an entertaining contemporary romantic comedy, I suggest you give Wrong a try! Firstlife
by Gena Showalter
Published by Harlequin on March 1st 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy & Magic, Action & Adventure, Love & Romance
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"Utterly unique and absolutely riveting—I couldn't put it down! What a marvelously cool world."—New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. MaasFrom the author of the New York Times bestselling White Rabbit Chronicles series comes book 1 of a brand new series in which life as we know it is merely a dress rehearsal, and real life begins after death.
Tenley "Ten" Lockwood is an average seventeen-year-old girl…who has spent the past thirteen months locked inside the Prynne Asylum. The reason? Not her obsession with numbers, but her refusal to let her parents choose where she'll live—after she dies.
There is an eternal truth most of the world has come to accept: Firstlife is merely a dress rehearsal, and real life begins after death.
In the Everlife, two realms are in power: Troika and Myriad, longtime enemies and deadly rivals. Both will do anything to recruit Ten, including sending their top Laborers to lure her to their side. Soon, Ten finds herself on the run, caught in a wild tug-of-war between the two realms who will do anything to win the right to her soul. Who can she trust? And what if the realm she's drawn to isn't where the boy she's falling for lives? She just has to stay alive long enough to make a decision…
Review of the book Firstlife
Firstlife book is the first book in the Everlife series by New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter. The story follows Tenley “Ten” Lockwood a seventeen-year-old girl struggling to choose which realm to enter when she dies. On Earth, also known as the Land of the Harvest, humans are busy living their first lives- however, before they die they must pledge their allegiance to either Myriad- a dark realm of indulgence and pleasure, where only the strongest rise to power and privilege, or Troika- a realm of light where love, justice, and truth are cherished, and everyone is considered of equal importance. Unfortunately, both reals are embroiled in a vicious war and fight to convince humans to pledge their allegiance to their realm and cause.
That’s where Archer and Killian come in…
Archer, of Troika, is charged with convincing Ten to pledge her allegiance to their side as she is believed to be a “conduit”- someone capable of tipping the war in their favor. Killian, of Myriad, is charged with seducing Ten to their side as well- as they too believe she will bring victory to their realm. Unfortunately, for both guys, Ten is determined to remain “unsigned” as she doesn’t truly feel like she fits into either realm. She is told, however, that if she does NOT choose either realm, her soul will be sent to suffer in the Many Ends- basically, hell.
As Ten struggles to pick a side, she finds herself placed in a perilous position as someone is intent on ending her life. Amid this, Archer and Killian hold a temporary truce to protect her. The dynamic between both guys is interesting- I enjoyed Archer’s sense of honor and justice- he is so easy-going and likable (although there were times I almost thought he was too good). Killian…oh, Killian…this Irish charmer with the wicked tattoos, bad-boy persona, and devilish sense of humor instantly shot his way to my #1 spot for current book boyfriend. I’m seriously not surprised, however, as Gena Showalter creates some of the most tempting love interests in her novels.
There were many underlying themes and parallels drawn in this novel- you have two realms who hold two very different views, though neither of them is entirely wrong in their beliefs, who will do anything to trump or decimate the other side. They try desperately to convince people that their side is the “right” one- their egos overruling their actions- causing irreparable damage. One side even promises money, riches, and status to push their agenda, where another side hides their motives behind poetic words of honor and justice. I enjoyed watching Ten, with her quirky obsession with numbers, work through which world she felt more inclined to join.
Firstlife was a fast-paced, sizzling page-turner that kept me sleep-deprived.
It’s teeming with action, adventure, and romance- three of my favorite things! The dialogue was fun, the characters layered and dynamic, and the plot was thought-provoking.
Hot and Steamy Romance Novels
If Fifty Shades of Grey or Sylvia Day’s Crossfire series has shown us anything, it’s that reading the occasional “vulgar” and “crude” hot and steamy romance novel is something that a LOT of women (and perhaps men) enjoy. And rightly so. In my opinion, those gritty, intense scenes that would earn themselves an NC-17 rating on screen are a lovely way to distract yourself from the more mundane aspects of life…like work, house chores, and endless errands. And let’s face it, while I may never indulge in some of the more erotic things I have read (I wonder if some of those positions are even possible? Sheesh), it is certainly nice to imagine doing them.
Hot and steamy romance novels do nothing for me if I don’t enjoy the characters and/or plot.
I will say this, however, while I enjoy a good deal of raunch in some of my novels, it does absolutely nothing for me if I don’t enjoy the characters and/or the plot is shallow and adds very little depth to the story. If the characters are two-dimensional, I find that I really don’t care about all the wicked ways they can use their tongue, or what the heck they’re doing with their hands, or where they place their mouth, and…anyway, a solid plot with thorough character development can make those scenes even more intense and leave more of an impact *cough*.
How to cool off from your hot and steamy binge.
Reading a couple literary classics such as Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre, in between your hot and steamy reads is a perfect suggestion to cool off a bit. However, if you find your mind wandering towards what Mr. Darcy would be like sans clothing and doing the horizontal tango with Elizabeth Bennett *wink* then that might be your cue to chuck that classic behind you and pick up a copy of Hardwired by Meredith Wild, the first novel in her Hacker series. Or, if you’re needing a steamy novel that is heavy on the passion, but not so much BDSM and kink, then check out This Man by Jodi Ellen Malpas which is the first novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series.
Goodreads // Amazon
Whether you’re into sizzling cowboys, bad boys, bikers, multi-millionaires, or brooding regency heroes (I’m looking at you, Mr. Darcy!), you can rest assured that there is a raunchy novel somewhere in the world waiting for your naughty, little self to read it! If you’d like any suggestions, leave a comment down below and I’ll GLADLY recommend one, or two, or three *wink*
Be sure to check out my Top 10 Book Boyfriends here!