Book Review: The Contessa’s Vendetta By Mirella Sichirollo Patzer

To be buried alive is everyone’s worse nightmare! A deadly plague is killing thousands in 17th century Vicenza Italy. Contessa Mancini struggles to protect her family and servants, but despite her precautions, she is the one who falls prey to the deadly illness. Her body is tossed into a coffin and swiftly buried in the underground, dank confines of her family’s vault. But Contessa Mancini is not dead. No, she is very much alive. She awakens terrorized, trapped in dense darkness surrounded by the flimsy wood of the coffin they buried her in. Desperate, she claws and kicks until she escapes its stifling restraint, only to find herself trapped in the mausoleum with the decaying bodies of her ancestors. As she seeks to escape, she discovers a vast treasure of gold, silver, and gems secretly hidden in the vault by brigands, and the secret tunnel they used to hide there. Free at least, she returns home to her beloved husband, her best friend, and her darling daughter. But before she reveals herself to her loved ones, she learns of an endless series of lies, deceits, and betrayal. As she unravels the labyrinth of shocking treachery, her wrath breathes life to an overwhelming need for vengeance. Slowly, meticulously, she launches her diabolocial vendetta. The Contessa’s Vendetta is a retelling of the classic novel, Vendetta by Marie Corelli. Inspired by this epic story, the author weaves her own captivating tale in a new setting, a new century, and with new plot twists while remaining faithful to the key story elements.

I liked this 35 chapter book. It was told through Carlotta’s first person point-of-view. Beware of a woman scorned. My favorite line: A false man or woman deserves death. It was amazing how most people in this time period thought it was acceptable to kill your cheating husband or wife since there was no law/punishment for adultery. Instead of going that route, Carlotta decided to devise a plan to seek revenge on her husband Dario, who had a secret affair with her best friend Beatrice.

Dario and Beatrice were cold-blooded–especially the way they treated the daughter Chiara. You don’t have to be a murderer or someone violent to be a villain. They were both despicable; they had no shame as though they were narcissistic psychopaths. But that takes a brilliant talent with the author’s ability with characterization. As a reader, I really loathed some and really cared for others. It felt good to have a strong reaction toward everyone, instead of a blah, not caring reaction. Readers should hate Dario and Beatrice because, of course, Carlotta wouldn’t shed them in a positive light.

  • After escaping from being buried alive (they thought she had died from the plague), she wised up. Instead of crying in a corner, she got revenge. Mirella Sichirollo Patzer was also great with voice. The novel had a storytelling vibe as though Carlotta was talking directly to the readers. This tied in to the beginning where it’s revealed she’s transcribing her events (I believe as a letter).

I understood the concept of the story from the get-go, she would seek revenge, so I wished the word “vendetta” wasn’t used so often in the narration. But then again, Carlotta would’ve been obsessed with that scenario, so I can see why the word was repeated over and over. I also wished that there weren’t so many exclamation points, but it didn’t distract me from the story.

My favorite scenes: 1) when Carlotta meets a crazy old woman at the market who encourages her to kill her husband if he’s not excited for her return back from the grave, hinting he’d already have another woman 2) all the scenes with Carlotta and Paolo. I like that even though she got burned, she still believed in love and wanted other couples to make it 3) when both parts of the vendetta were executed.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

For more information on the author or website:

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

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Day 90 Of 90 Day Novel

It dawned on me that I never wrote about my last day of the 90 day novel challenge. Oopsie…

I have two versions of my first draft: a novel divided in four parts and a novella with just the section that I liked the most. Once I start editing, I’ll finally make a decision. I’m still debating if I just want to make my point, then get out. To focus on the cheating and that’s it. Or if I want to show readers the characters’ entire journeys, what happened before the scandal, how it affected everyone afterwards.

No title. I’m thinking it should be a pop culture reference since my story deals with celebrities. Or it could be the main character’s name. See I’m all over the place…

When I write, I like to play certain playlists to keep me in the mindset of the people in my stories. For this one, I listened to:

  • Dru Hill–Someone’s Sleeping In My Bed
  • Destiny’s Child–Temptation
  • Dru Hill–We’re Not Making Love Anymore
  • Rihanna–Unfaithful
  • Brandy–Angel In Disguise

As you can probably tell, my story is about a love triangle. I want it to be women’s fiction instead of romance, so I focused on the main character trying to rebuild her career after the fallout of her infidelity. I shared her, her boyfriend, and her fling’s perspectives to show the emotional rollercoaster. I guess I shouldn’t tell who she ended up picking, if anyone at all, because I don’t want to give the ending away.

I haven’t touched either versions of the first draft in close to six weeks. I want an objective eye when I go back to edit; apparently I have a lot of work cut out for me.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: Escape By Kenya Wright

A domina’s only purpose in life was to birth vampire children for the Quiet King. Any human woman with the domina gene spent their lives in the castle under strict rules and the guards’ watchful eyes. Brie has been a domina for two years. After witnessing the slaughter of babies, she plans to escape and seeks help from Samuel, a vampire known for aiding many out of slavery.

However, Samuel has only one policy. He won’t help dominas escape the king. The penalty is too high and their blood triggers powers in him that he doesn’t want released. So Brie is forced to lie about being a domina and Samuel is lured in by her blood. Something emerges within them that they can’t deny, overwhelming their every cell and igniting an all-consuming hunger that neither can flee.

I loved this 11 chapter book. Yowza! It was very steamy! It was told through Brie’s first person point-of-view. She was a domina (a.k.a. slave to the Quiet King) who wanted to run away. I liked that she was a strong-willed female character–one that took matters into her own hands instead of just accepting someone’s word.

Samuel was a path finder, willing to help her escape. He was everything I want to see in a vampire: sexy, manipulative, possessive, strong, arrogant. Did I mention sexy? He reminded me of Damon Salvatore. Brie was the only one who could handle him. I loved the sexual tension between both of them. Their back and forth was intense. She was stubborn, so was he. Brie and Samuel made a cute couple, trying to one up each other.

  • After he bites her, they form a link where they could read each other’s minds. So not only was their conversations entertaining, so was their inner-thoughts. She kept pleading for him to stop reading her thoughts, but he wouldn’t listen.

Kenya Wright had an amazing talent with scenes, basically storytelling in general. The details she focused on helped me get a clear idea of Brie’s voice. I got lost in the story. It was a fast read, and the cliffhanger has me motivated to read the next book. In fact, I’m a huge fan of the author’s writing style.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

For more information on the author or book:

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: Children of the Enemy By D.J. Swykert

Jude St. Onge is a man on the run. He is an addict who has stolen a large cache of drugs from Detroit drug kingpin Mitchell Parson, who is determined to retrieve the drugs and take his revenge on Jude. After the torture slaying of Jude’s wife, and the kidnapping of Jude’s daughter, Angelina, the last thing Mitchell Parson expected to hear when he picked up the phone was: “I have your sons.” Raymond Little, with a murder conviction in his past, and newspaper reporter Ted Rogers have become unusual allies with Jude in an attempt to rescue his daughter. Together they kidnap Parson’s two boys, hoping to secure Angelina’s release. Risks for both hostage-takers skyrocket as the two sides square off, while Detroit Homicide Detectives work the case unaware of all that is at stake in the investigation. Only Ray and Ted can save the endangered children in Children of the Enemy.

I loved this 36 chapter book. It was raw and edgy–the graphic violence, from beginning to end, was instrumental in making this crime story realistic. I enjoyed getting inside the heads of a reporter, a cop, the criminals, innocent family members, and a citizen ready to stand up for his town. Ted (the reporter) wanted a headline that would evoke change and inspiration. He wanted the people of Detroit to make a difference by coming forward whenever they witnessed crimes, instead of looking the other way. Charlie (the detective) was frustrated with his job. He was tired of all the open cases that couldn’t be solved because of lack of witnesses and no evidence. He wanted to convict people, but it wasn’t possible. It was cool watching all these characters’ lives change just because one day Jude decided to steal drugs from Parson.

My favorite lines: 1) But my experience says there is no such thing as bizarre, all bizarre means is you don’t know all the facts. 2) You straighten out money problems doing business, revenge you straighten out with blood. 3) “That’s what thinking gets you. It gives you indecision,” Ted said.

Ray was my favorite character. He reminded me of someone Clint Eastwood would play. I felt bad for him. In his past, he went to prison and his wife left him, taking their child too. When he got out, he didn’t bother looking for them because he felt they deserved better. A part of me wanted Ray to have a happy ending because I think he would’ve made a great grandfather by the way he treated kids. I felt sorry when Jude tried to rob him, but the tables turned when Ray got the best of him. I had mad respect for him throughout the story–he was a cool hero. Finally, someone could give Swallow and Parson a taste of their own medicine.

  • My other favorites were Ethan and Angelina (both children). I liked that they had a naive, innocence quality to them but they were smart enough to know what was going on. I liked that they tried to stand up for themselves the best way they could. And I respected that they acted brave in the threat of danger, especially Angelina. Poor girl–I wanted to give her a hug.

The author had a great talent with plot. He has a fast paced writing style that enhances the action and suspense. Each scene had me sitting on the edge of my seat, anticipating what would happen next, especially when Swallow entered the picture. No character was safe, so I worried about all of the victims. I was sad when Jude died, but I loved that that put Ray in revenge mode. There was headhopping, but it didn’t distract me from the story.

My favorite scenes: 1) when Jude gets killed 2) when Ray kidnaps Parson’s sons 3) when Ray tries to kick Jude’s habit with the Kentucky Strait remedy 4) the ending

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

No Bah Humbug This Holiday…I’ll Be Participating In A Christmas Blog Event

Instead of being Ms. Scrooge this Christmas, I’ve decided to embrace the holidays. To get in the joyful spirit instead of treating December as any other month. For A Christmas Tale Blog Event, I’ve signed up to:

  • Write 2 book reviews for Christmas stories (my choice). I’ll be doing Bah, Humbug! by Heather Horrocks and Christmas Beyond the Box by Josh Langston
  • Write 3 posts about spending family time reading during Christmas

I’m sure I can accomplish these 5 posts between December 1st-December 25th. For any blogger who wants to participate, Sign Up!

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: The Valley of Silent People By Greg M. Sarwa

Based on the legend of Saint Sara, who with Mary Magdalene arrived at the shores of the French Riviera after Christ crucifixion, The Valley of Silent People is an allegory about gaining faith and trust that even the most unexpected and radical discovery has no power to overcome. Though unrecognized as a saint by the Catholic Church, Saint Sara remains one in the hearts of people, especially Roms, who designate her as their patron. Controversy still swirls over whether Sara was Mary Magdalene’s and Jesus Christ’s daughter or simply a servant, fascinating millions of readers around the world.

Joe Clatt’s content and uncomplicated life is shattered one evening, when an atrocious accident claims the life of his wife and leaves his only child in a deathly coma. Joe discovers a letter his wife wrote not long before her death, suggesting she anticipated such destiny. Her last wish is for Joe to visit an inconspicuous place located on the other side of the ocean. Against his better judgment, Joe arrives in a distant village on the French Cote d’Azur. The night, after the festival honoring Saint Sara, he meets one person he was certain he would never see again. Guided by his heart he finds himself embraced as a participant in a remarkable journey, no longer a mere spectator. While Joe struggles to uncover reasons why his wife’s final wish led him to France, he experiences phenomenal events–occurences, he believes, grant confidence that his daughter will survive. Are these revelations the answers Joe seeks, or is something else veiled in the mists of time?

The Valley of Silent People is a fable in the tradition of magic realism of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist (Harper One, 1993). It alludes to the controversial subject of Mary Magdalene from the perspective of an ordinary man, who while experiencing most obscure moments of his life finds himself in the middle of exceptional circumstances.

The Valley of Silent People evokes an enchanted sense of reverie and poignancy, similar to The Mermaid Chair: A Novel by Sue Monk Kid (Viking, 2005). And while veiling the tale in a magical mist, it lets the reader arrive with its own answer to the question of what is real, and what only appears to be.

Featuring the actual village of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer and the annual festival of Saint Sara, The Valley of Silent People is a one-man journey through the exquisite phenomenon we call life.

I liked this 20 chapter book. It was told through Joe’s first person point-of-view. I liked that the story was only told through his perspective because it made the events of his life more intimate. And it heightened the mystery factor–everyone seemed to know what was going on except him. I loved getting inside Joe’s head; he tried his best to analyze everything. I could relate because I’d over-analyze every single detail until someone would put me out of my misery to confide in me what was going on.

My favorite lines were: 1) Sally didn’t say anything as she smiled and kissed me…She had kissed me, and only now was I sure that her kiss was an apology to my ego, for she knew she would be right. 2) I didn’t know whether to be afraid or fascinated. 3) A jolt of uneasiness charged through my body, and fear squeezed the rest of the air from my lungs. 4) “What am I going to do once i get there, Pete?” It wasn’t the first time when I raised the question. “Tell me. If you can just give me a hint I’d appreciate it, because this doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Joe lost his wife Sally and his daughter Rosie was in a coma. Joe moved in with Pete, his father-in-law. I loved that even though he trusted Sally with all his heart, Joe still questioned if he ever really knew the real her. Things came to light after her death that couldn’t be explained. I liked that Joe didn’t just take Pete’s word for things, that he questioned his motives sometimes.

From the beginning, I questioned everything like Joe. Were the events based on faith? Paranormal activities? It was fun trying to guess what would happen once he visited France. I’m happy that my assumptions were correct (would say what that is but don’t want to give the ending away). Once Joe reached the small village across the pond, things began turning weird (in a good way). These characters kept having inconsistencies in their stories, and when Joe would question them about it, they’d cover it up with an unbelievable lie. No wonder Joe started doubting his sanity.

The author had a great talent with dialogue and plot. Each scene enhanced the mystery surrounding his wife’s death. It kept me on my toes to see what crazy thing would happen next. After awhile, it felt like the characters enjoyed toying with Joe’s emotions. I thought that was interesting. The conversations were spot-on and helped me get a sense of the characters’ personalities.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

For more information on the author or book:

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: House of Cards By Terri Molina

“I think he’s going to kill me.”

A frantic phone call from her estranged sister sends Jesse Pena rushing home to Brownsville, Texas, only to find that Alicia–seven months pregnant–has vanished. Jesse is convinced her brother-in-law, Marcus Vega, is a killer but getting the police to listen isn’t easy, especially when Marcus announces that Jesse and her sister are borderline schizophrenic.

Detective Michael Cisneros is reluctant to believe Jesse’s allegation. After all, Marcus Vega is a prominent citizen with a tight alibi, and this isn’t the first time she’s charged him with murder. When Michael is accused of allowing a personal relationship with her to cloud his judgment, he is forced to accept what Jesse can not–Marcus Vega is innocent. Jesse’s refusal to give up will risk more than her life, it will test her sanity as well.

! enjoyed this 23 chapter book. It went back and forth between Jesse and Detective Michael’s third person point-of-view. How would you feel if you knew a crime was committed but you couldn’t prove it? I’d go crazy. I admired that Jesse didn’t give up trying to search for her sister Alicia. And that she didn’t give up believing that her parents were murdered. I liked that the main character was strong and took matters into her own hands when the police force wanted to stick a cold case label on the alleged crime.

I liked the backstory that Jesse and Michael knew of each other when they were younger. I always like to see how people’s relationships develop after rekindling. It offered good inner conflict scenes for Michael. Following protocol, he couldn’t do whatever he wanted without evidence. He had a precinct he had to answer to. However, he didn’t want to let Jesse down.

Marcus was Alicia’s husband, and let me tell ya, he was a true villain. He made my skin crawl (in a good way). He had the right charisma and good boy image to get away with crimes. I thought the scenes where he terrorized Jesse by playing mind games with her was very interesting. From the beginning, I got a sense of how the story was going to go, so it wasn’t really a mystery for me. Instead, it was suspenseful (as in trying to determine when the characters will wise up so they can protect themselves).

The author had a brilliant talent with dialogue. The conversations were really realistic and her dialogue beats helped enhance the vision of how the characters interacted with each other. There were a lot of disagreements that I loved. I really felt bad for Jesse because she’d been dealing with trauma for 12 years, without anyone listening to her.  I could picture this novel as a Lifetime movie.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby