Dune

By Leann Wilson,

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

Dune is a 1965 science fiction novel by Frank Herbert. Dune takes place on the desert planet Arrakis. It follows a boy, but not just any boy. Paul of the house Atreides. Heir to Arrakis, the most valuable planet in the universe. Home of spice. Follow Paul as he is thrust into a terrible purpose to avenge the traitorous plot against his noble family. There lies so much in Dune to discover. Giant sand worms! The Bene Gesserit, but don’t call them witches! 

What I love most about Dune is it is the seed of the series. It can be slow to start but it gets so much better. You really start to see blooms in the 2nd half. I’m a little late to the Dune train but that’s okay. I highly recommend Dune: Messiah, the 2nd book. I’m currently on Children of Dune. Thank you for taking the time to read my review. I hope you enjoy the Dune series.

Review by Staff member Helene D.

Dark Roads

By Leann Wilson,

The Cold Creek Highway stretches close to five hundred miles through British Columbia’s rugged wilderness to the west coast. Isolated and vast, it has become a prime hunting ground for predators. For decades, young women traveling the road have gone missing. Motorists and hitchhikers, those passing through or living in one of the small towns scattered along the region, have fallen prey time and again. And no killer or abductor who has stalked the highway has ever been brought to justice.

Hailey McBride calls Cold Creek home. Her father taught her to respect nature, how to live and survive off the land, and to never travel the highway alone. Now he’s gone, leaving her a teenage orphan in the care of her aunt whose police officer husband uses his badge as a means to bully and control Hailey. Overwhelmed by grief and forbidden to work, socialize, or date, Hailey vanishes into the mountainous terrain, hoping everyone will believe she’s left town. Rumors spread that she was taken by the highway killer―who’s claimed another victim over the summer.

One year later, Beth Chevalier arrives in Cold Creek, where her sister Amber lived―and where she was murdered. Estranged from her parents and seeking closure, Beth takes a waitressing job at the local diner, just as Amber did, desperate to understand what happened to her and why. But Beth’s search for answers puts a target on her back―and threatens to reveal the truth behind Hailey’s disappearance…

This is the first book I have read by Chevy Stevens but it will not be the last. This book has twists and turns you never see coming and the characters are brought to life in a way that makes you feel what they are feeling. The book is fast-paced and keeps you on your toes. I could not put it down.

Reviewed by Leann W

Light Of The Jedi

By Leann Wilson,

Star Wars: the Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule is the first in a new multimedia project set in the Star Wars universe known as the High Republic. Taking place roughly 300 years before the events of the original movies, the High Republic Era is one of unparalleled peace and prosperity. The Jedi are at the height of their influence and with no major conflicts the Galactic Republic is poised to expand its influence to the far reaches of the galaxy. However, this period of tranquility is shattered when a crisis of galactic proportions threatens to throw the entire Republic into chaos.

When a transport freighter traveling through hyperspace is destroyed upon colliding with a mysterious vessel, wreckage from the crash is set on a collision course with Hetzal Prime, one of the main sources of agriculture for the entire Outer Rim Territories. Jedi and Republic forces are able to narrowly avert the disaster but there are still more pieces of the ship hurtling through hyperspace. With the Supreme Chancellor forbidding hyperspace travel across the Outer Rim until the cause of the collision can be ascertained the race is on to find a way to predict where the next hyperspace emergence will strike and unravel the mystery of who is responsible. 

The story begins by throwing the reader headfirst into the action with numerous character introductions and explanations as multiple groups scramble to prevent loss of life. With so much happening at once it’s a little hard to sort out who’s who and what details are important but the story does a good job of showing just how much teamwork and sacrifice is required to conduct a rescue on a galactic scale. After the initial crisis is over, focus shifts from a big ensemble to a core group of characters across different locations as the Republic deals with the fallout from the disaster. Once the story settles into the mystery the characters begin to take form and the greater plot begins to emerge. There is a group of roving bandits known as the Nihil that possesses the mysterious ability to navigate secret paths through hyperspace. While the Nihil themselves are little more than a chaotic rabble, their enigmatic figurehead, Marchion Ro, has a plan to put an end to the Republic and the Jedi once and for all.

Even though the book opens with a big exciting action set piece it’s the quieter moments that tend to be more engaging. The High Republic is perhaps the most hopeful and optimistic era in Star Wars history so the anarchy of the Nihil makes for a fitting challenge to Republic’s ideals. While the clash between the Jedi and the Nihil may be the main focus of the High Republic brand as a whole, Light of the Jedi is mostly concerned with setting the stage for the opening salvos. There are certainly plenty of great moments throughout but the real excitement is in the promises of things to come. Readers should be prepared to stick around past the opening credits because the movie is just beginning.

Reviewed by Evan J

Animal Instinct

By Leann Wilson,

Corey Douglas and his K-9 partner, a German shepherd named Simon Garfunkel, are recently retired police officers turned private investigators. Along with fellow former cop Laurie Collins and her investigating partner, Marcus, they call themselves the K Team, in honor of Simon.

The K Team’s latest case – a recent unsolved murder – gives Corey a chance to solve “the one that got away”. Corey knew the murder victim from his time on the force, when he was unable to protect her in a domestic dispute. Now, he is convinced the same abusive boyfriend is responsible for her murder. With some help from Laurie’s lawyer husband, Andy Carpenter, the K Team is determined to prove what the police could not, no matter the cost. What they uncover is much more sinister than they could have imagined.

This book is the second in a new series by David Rosenfelt. This series is a spin-off of his Andy Carpenter series and well worth the read. The characters were memorable and well thought out. The story was excellent and had good twists and turns throughout the story. The conclusion was very satisfactory. I have always loved books with animal characters and am looking forward to reading more about Corey and Simon Garfunkel.

Review by Leann

Halloween Season

By Leann Wilson,


Halloween is the most wonderful part of the year for me. For dedicated fans, the season begins when the leaves start turning autumn colors and doesn’t finish until Samhain ends in November. With it comes a whole lot of fun: scary movies, stories, haunted houses, seasonal sweets, spooky decorations, costume parties, and of course trick or treat. But Halloween is also a deeply spiritual time for some; it’s an opportunity to remember and honor loved ones who have passed on.

Master storyteller Lucy A. Snyder has filled her cauldron with everything that Halloween means to her and distilled it into a spell-binding volume of stories. Within these pages you’ll find thrills and chills, hilarity and horrors, the sweet and the naughty.

One of the best things about Halloween is you don’t have to be yourself. So go ahead and try on a new mask or two … you may discover hidden talents as a witch, a pirate, a space voyager, a zombie fighter, or even an elf. This is the perfect collection to celebrate the season of the dead or to summon those heady autumn vibes whenever you like. You may even find a couple of tales that evoke a certain winter holiday that keeps trying to crowd in on the fun.

In the worlds within this book, every day is Halloween!

Vision Of The Dream Witch was my favorite story from this book. I greatly enjoyed this collection of stories, and I hope you will too! 

Review by Helene D.

Return to Virgin River

By Leann Wilson,

Kaylee Sloan’s home in Southern California is full of wonderful memories of the woman who raised her. But the memories are prolonging her grief over her mother’s recent death. A successful author, Kaylee hoped she could pour herself into her work. Instead, she has terrible writer’s block and a looming deadline.

Determined to escape distractions and avoid the holiday season, Kaylee borrows a cabin in Virgin River. She knows the isolation will help her writing, and as she drives north through the mountains and the majestic redwoods, she immediately feels inspired. Until she arrives at a building that has just gone up in flames. Devastated, she heads to Jack’s Bar to plan her next steps. The local watering hole is the heart of the town, and once she crosses the threshold, she’s surprised to be embraced by people who are more than willing to help a friend—or a stranger—in need.

Kaylee’s world is expanding in ways she never dreamed possible. And when she rescues a kitten followed by a dog with a litter of puppies, she finds her heart opening up to the animals who need her. And then there’s the dog trainer who knows exactly how to help her. As the holidays approach, Kaylee’s dread turns to wonder. Because there’s no better place to spend Christmas than Virgin River.

This book is a wonderful addition to Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series. It was easy to feel a connection to Kaylee and Landry and it was fun to hear about the other characters from the previous books. Return to Virgin River is about love, loss and community and if you love small-town romance this book is for you. -Review by Leann

Flowers in the Attic

By Leann Wilson,

“We lived in the attic,
Christopher, Cory, Carrie, and me,
Now there are only three.” 

-V.C. Andrews, Flowers in the Attic

Flowers in the Attic was first published in 1979, but it didn’t come on my radar until much later. While I was browsing through online messaging boards, I found myself drawn to one discussing this book. It was filled with women sharing stories about how, when they were young, they’d hide this book under their beds so their parents wouldn’t know they were reading it. I immediately thought “Yep, that’s exactly the kind of book I want to read.”

This book follows the story of the Dollanganger children. Christopher, Cory, Carrie, and Cathy grew up cherished and adored until, sadly, one evening their father suddenly passes. In the wake of his death, their mother shares a family secret with them: she is from an extremely wealthy family, but long ago they took her out of their will. She believes she can get back in her father’s good graces, but for now, he can’t know that they exist. They move to her family’s estate and the children are kept locked inside a forgotten attic. Their mother promises it will just be a day, maybe a week, but ultimately the children find themselves watching years pass on their calendars and seasons shift through their window.

I really loved this book – so much that I bought the 40th-anniversary copy and audiobook to keep for myself. When discussing this book with others, many people tend to hyper-focus on taboo parts of the story, but when you dig deeper there is much more to unpack. It took me about 15 hours to get through the audiobook, but by the end of it I felt like I’d spent years with the Dollanganger children and all I could find myself thinking about was their freedom.  -Review by Austyn

Murder Drama With Your Llama

By Leann Wilson,

Liquor, lies, llamas and a town called Friendship is all you need in this funny whirlwind of a tale. This story begins when Sophie, an out of work actress learns of the passing of her grandmother. She also finds herself the new owner of a house, pub and a llama. At first she is jumping with excitement at her fresh start, which quickly turns upside down.

Eager to plant her roots in this new town, she is shocked as her llama Jack is accused of murder on her first day! Not to mention dealing with a hunky bar manager living in her guesthouse! Follow along as Sophie clumsily investigates and at the same time gets to know people around town.

This was such a fun read! I couldn’t put it down. I think you’ll love this short read. 

Review by staff member Helene D.

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Snakewood

By Leann Wilson,

“Mercenaries who gave no quarter, they shook the pillars of the world through cunning, chemical brews, and cold steel.

Whoever met their price won.

Now, their glory days are behind them. Scattered to the wind and their genius leader in hiding, they are being hunted down and eliminated.

One by one.”

Snakewood by Adrian Selby tells the story of the final days of Gant, formerly a member of the legendary mercenary group Kailen’s Twenty. After being fatally poisoned on a job gone wrong, Gant and former Twenty member Shale receive word from their former mentor Kailen that members of the Twenty are being hunted down and killed by mysterious forces. Short on time and resources, Gant and Shale must seek out their former comrades and determine the identity of the assassin, their only clue being Kailen’s suspicions that it has something to do with the group’s disbanding at Snakewood fifteen years prior. Unbeknownst to them, there are far greater forces at work than rival mercenaries or slighted business partners.

Selby presents a grim take on the classic fantasy setting filled with violence and political scheming. In lieu of traditional magic and monsters, soldiers make use of brews and mixtures that grant amazing abilities that take a terrible, sometimes deadly physical toll. Paste is rubbed into the eyes to grant telescopic sight, fightbrews are ingested to grant enhanced strength and speed, salve and bark is administered to close up wounds mid battle. The soldiers with better brews win battles without exception. Warfare is entirely dependent on these effects and the nations of the world are caught up in a chemical arms race to possess the most potent stimulants and deadliest poisons.

The story of Snakewood is told through a series of first-person vignettes put together from writings discovered by Gant’s son after his death. These accounts include journal entries, letters and mission reports. Chapters often switch to new characters and settings with little in the way of introduction or context. These sudden shifts in tone can be jarring but help make the book’s stitched-together feel more tangible. Selby almost never presents information about the setting directly to the reader. Instead, characters usually refer to things in passing and the reader is left to play catch-up. This can lead to confusion but Selby never scrimps on detail and scenes are filled with such vivid descriptions that context alone is often enough to figure things out. The mystery unfolds gradually both in the present and the past and it can feel like vital pieces are being held just out of reach. Each new character’s perspective sheds light on the events at Snakewood and the heroes and villains shift several times throughout the story. 

Snakewood mostly eschews typical good guy/bad guy roles in favor of a more amoral tone. Good deeds and sympathetic backstories are partnered with brutal means and selfish motives. A heroic victory for one means a devastating defeat for another. The backstories of several characters illustrate how lives are transformed by the passage of time. A pursuit of justice can warp into a vendetta and a life devoted to profit can give way to regret. Selby takes care to balance the characters’ perspectives and keep the morality of the book ambiguous from beginning to end. Selby is much more interested in the fate each person chooses for themselves and leaves it to the reader to decide what’s right and what’s wrong.

Evan Jewell

Potions Are For Pushovers

By Leann Wilson,

Selling mystical elixirs and tantalizing tonics is a pretty good way for a fake medium to earn a living–until a villager turns up dead. The cause? Murder by poisoning. Suddenly Ellie’s the prime suspect. Her only recourse is to find the culprit who did do away with Sarah Blackthorne. No one liked the mean old battle-axe. But did anyone hate her enough to kill her?

It’s enough of a mystery to tempt Ellie to take millionaire beau Nicholas Hartford up on his offer to keep her afloat. Except Ellie is not the kind of woman to lean on a man. Besides, she’s taken on two young witches-in-training who are convinced a werewolf is the murderer. Just as Ellie’s wondering if there really is something otherworldly going on, animals begin to disappear–including her beloved cat, Beast. Now Ellie’s on the warpath to uncover the wicked truth about the people and the place she’s only just begun to call home…

This is book 2 in the Eleanor Wilde Mystery Series. I’ve never read these types of stories before, but they are an easy and fun book series to snuggle up with.  Ellie is a fake medium-for-hire. She has found a niche in a little village in England and has taken up residence there. There are lots of mysterious things going on around Ellie, however.  When odd occurrences begin happening, Ellie and her apprentice decide to investigate. This book has a lot of mystery, humor, and maybe even a werewolf!  If you are looking for something cute and exciting, give this series a try. 

Wicked

By Leann Wilson,

Goodreads describes this book as “When Dorothy triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West in L. Frank Baum’s classic tale we heard only her side of the story. But what about her arch-nemesis, the mysterious Witch?

This captivating tale takes place in the familiar land of OZ. This story is a political, social, and ethical commentary on good and evil following Elphaba, the mysterious green-skinned girl that becomes the Wicked Witch of the West. When we heard the classical tale we only get one side of the story, but what about the mysterious witch? Where did she come from and what makes her so wicked?

 I was ecstatic to find this book. It quickly shot up to one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy this read as much as I did.  If you enjoy this book please check out these other titles; Tales Told in OZ, Son of a Witch, A Lion Among Men, and Out of OZ.

Review by staff member Helene D.

The Pisces

By Leann Wilson,

“Maybe [the ocean and I] were on the same side, comprised of the same things, water mostly, also a mystery. The ocean swallowed things up–boats, people–but it didn’t look outside itself for fulfillment. It could take whatever skimmed its surface or it could leave it. In its depths already lived a whole world of who-knows-what. It was self-sustaining. I should be like that. It made me wonder what was inside of me.”

The Pisces by Melissa Broder stars Lucy, a woman who has spent the past nine years of her life writing a dissertation on Sappho, a lyric poet from ancient Greece.  As the frustration of writing this comes to a head, her relationship explodes into dramatic fallout. Lucy struggles to figure out the next steps in her life when her sister, Annika, reaches out and asks if she would be interested in dog-sitting over the summer.

Lucy accepts and travels to Venice Beach, California to live in their glass cubed home with their diabetic foxhound. Despite the fact that this was meant to be a vacation, Lucy can’t escape her thoughts. She becomes increasingly bitter at any sight of PDA and decides to attend a love addiction therapy group.

“In some ways, my moods did and did not exist. People said that you could will a mood into being or will it away. Just think positively. But I never felt that way. My moods were their own entities, even if no one could understand why they were there. That was what made me scared of feelings. I realized now what I had to do, in spite of what others said, was not try to change a mood but surrender to it. I had to surrender to whatever feelings arrived and in doing so I could maybe ride them, floating on the waves. I decided I was going to surrender.”

Eventually, Lucy meets a strange boy swimming alone at the beach one night. Theo isn’t just a boy though, he’s a merman. Lucy and Theo fall into a whirlwind romance, but how can they make it work when they live in two different worlds?

The Pisces is a book that you’re either going to fall in love with or absolutely hate. Lucy spends most of the book being overwhelmed by her own obsessions and compulsions. Theo is sometimes a character who leans too far into narcissism. On the other hand, this book lets out a lot of the emotions most of us don’t allow ourselves to feel and may give us a glimpse into the traits we don’t like about ourselves. Overall, The Pisces is an interesting tale weaving together fantasy and eroticism, and the dark humor may come as no surprise to those who are familiar with Melissa Broder from her “so sad today” twitter account.

Review by staff member Austyn B.