Friday, May 29, 2015

Author Spotlight: Down From the Mountain by Elizabeth Fixmer

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 1:00 PM 0 comments


Elizabeth Fixmer probably loves creating and writing stories more than anything else. In her first book, Saint Training, she borrowed parts of her own childhood as well as the historical actions that impacted her emotional and spiritual development. Her second book, Down From The Mountain, reflects her interest and concern regarding religious cults that hurt people. Fixmer worked as a psychotherapist with a few persons who were still in cults, and more who were recovering from negative cult experiences. She is currently working on a book with the working title Mercy. This book is about a seventeen-year-old girl who's pregnant and serving time in prison.

Fixmer loves many things involving stories: theater, books, movies, television and takes guilty pleasure in enjoying some reality TV, especially those involving other cultures and religions such as Hutterites, Leaving Amish, and Escaping Alaska. Any food show will catch her attention because she loves eating. She also loves animals, especially her pets Charles and Tenacity.

Elizabeth lives in a small town in Southeastern Wisconsin.

Title: Down From the Mountain
Author: Elizabeth Fixmer
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Publication: March 1st 2015
Cover Rating: 4/5

Down From the Mountain was such an eye opening book. People actually believe in prophets and cult like situations. It is scary to think that someone could put THAT much trust into another persons hands. At first, I didn't think I would enjoy this book. After I received the book I got the image in my head that it was about religion and a girl life in a cult. Instead it was actually about a girls struggle with her religious beliefs and her trying to figure out right from wrong. But I can say that I devoured this book in the majority of one day.

Eva/Lily was amazingly brave and strong. I normally picture people in cults as brainwashed and very obedient but Eva had a mind of her own and it was telling her that Ezekiel and the Righteous Path wasn't right for her.

Annie was a nice enough kid but she was severely brainwashed. Eva was supposed to be her best friend yet, countless times, Annie told her that if she saw her doing something that was against the rules she would report her. She also believed that she was suffering from asthma for her sins. WHAT sins could a ten year old possibly have that would damn her to having server health issues?

I really liked Trevor. He had his own motives but he also seemed to truly care about what happened to Eva and her mother. I truly think they would have made a great couple. Even though Eva is only 14 her maturity level is much higher. The Righteous Path made her grow up too fast it seems.

The people who were a part of Righteous Path must have really needed to put their faith into someone. The group had hardly any men and all the women were marrying Ezekiel. Something about that should have told these people that SOMETHING was wrong. 

In a way I feel like this book explains so much about the world. It isn't just cults that have high expectations. The entire world does. Ezekiel wanted to control how people saw his followers and the world wants to control how women look. You might this this who cult thing is outrageous but it's not the much different than the world the rest of us live in.

In the end I was left with a few questions. Like what happened to the rest of the mothers and the few kids? Did Trevor and Rachel get together? I kind of got that vibe at the end. I know he was 20 and Eva is 14 but they still made a pretty good team.

Overall, I gave the book 5/5 stars.




1) WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND DOWN FROM THE MOUNTAIN?

As a spiritual person and seeker of “truth,” I have always been interested in religions and alternative belief systems. So I was fascinated about cults from early adulthood on and read a great deal about them. 

When I went into private practice as a psychotherapist I had the opportunity to work with several people who were actively involved in a cult or had recently gotten out of one. I looked at the common characteristics of the cults I had read about and those of the clients I had worked with and from an amalgam of these, created Righteous Path were Eva grew up.

2) WHY DO YOU THINK IT’S SO EASY FOR MOST PEOPLE TO PUT THEIR TRUST IN ONE PERSON’S HANDS?

Everyday people, people like you and me, join cults all the time. No one knows, of course, that they’re joining a “cult.” Typically the person thinks he or she is just learning more about a self-proclaimed leader who has a very different perspective from her own. The leader may or may not have defined himself as a guru but attracts people with his charismatic personality, his words and so called “wisdom.” The leader may then proclaim to have a direct line to the messiah, or even that he is the messiah. Over time he becomes more and more authoritarian and demanding all in the name of God.

It becomes harder and harder for the participant to leave if she start to have doubts. She is generally isolated from the outside world, her family and old friends, and has been taught to fear them because they aren’t living the right path. Her “support system” consists of the other cult members. Besides, to prove faithfulness she has likely given all her worldly possessions to the cult.

Many people consider brain washing as the cause of members staying even members.This may be an appropriate term in some cases in which the leader attempts to “wash clean” all the old ideas and beliefs of the participant and replace them with his belief system. The participant may forget to use his own critical thinking or just decide that the consequences of thinking outside the cult box is too dangerous.

What’s worse is that she may have reason to fear that she’ll be stopped by members if she tries to leave and/or reprisals from the cult afterwards.
In short, it takes planning and a huge act of courage to break cult ties.

3)DO YOU THINK EVA WOULD HAVE TRIED TO TAKE HER MOTHER AWAY EVEN IF RACHEL HADN’T LEFT

Absolutely! Eva’s relationship with her mother was primary and remained strong in spite of consequences the whole time she was growing up. Before Eva knew that Rachel was gone she knew she had to save her mother.

4) WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO USE ARIZONA AND COLORADO AS THE STATES WHERE RIGHTEOUS PATH RESIDED?

Colorado was a natural choice because I lived in Colorado for 20 years and know the Denver/Boulder area quite well. I chose Arizona for them to come from because Arizona is known for a major cult and because it borders Colorado.

5) ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING ON ANY NEW BOOKS?

Yes. I’m working on a book about a girl who has just turned 17 and finds herself in jail. She’s being tried as an adult for vehicular homicide because she stole her mother’s car, got drunk and hit a college student. She feels that her life is over – especially after she learns she’s pregnant. But things begin to change when she discovers that she may be able to keep the baby even in prison.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Mini Review Monday[43] Shadow by Amanda Sun

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 1:00 PM 0 comments

Title: Shadow(Paper Gods book .5)
Author: Amanda Sun


While I was reading Ink I wanted to know what it was like for Katie before she went to live with her Aunt Diane. I’m glad Amanda Sun wrote about her life before. 

Katie didn't immediately go live with Diane because she still felt too attached to the U.S. due to her mom even though she is gone from the living world. She finally decides to live with Diane, but she hits hiccups on the way there that she can’t explain. 

To me, it showed that when she got close to Japan the ink started to affect her then. 

Not only are we experiencing this time with Katie, but also, Tomohiro. He is experiencing bad nightmares and feels himself start to lose control over the ink. Then Katie appears. This starts their journey together. 

Overall, I really enjoyed being able to see what happened to both characters before Katie made it to Japan and both of their lives changed because of it.

I rate this book 5/5 stars.


Friday, May 22, 2015

Author Spotlight: The Number 7 by Jessica Lidh

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 1:00 PM 0 comments

Jessica Lidh pulls inspiration from her Swedish heritage and experiences as a high school teacher. In encouraging young minds to suck the marrow out of life, Jessica often uncovers the fascinating and hilariously horrifying insights of the twenty-first century teenager. When Jessica isn't fervently teaching or writing, she loves to watch old musicals, bake Swedish cinnamon buns, and go on imaginary bear hunts with her children, Elsa and Gus.


Title: The Number 7
Author: Jessica Lidh
Publisher: Merit Press
Publication: December 1st 2014
Cover Rating: 5/5

The Number 7 is such a creative adventure. I truly loved how the book went back and forth between past and present. I really enjoy historical fiction books.  I also love the cover of the book. It's not very often that you come across a book with a cover that depicts what the book is about so perfectly. I found myself racing through the pages about Louisa just so I could get back to her grandmother's story.

Louisa is an amazing character. She is the foundation of her family it seems. She seems to keep everything together and helps her dad through all of his issues. She is such a strong girl. She has to be pretty dang amazing because she finds herself being the love interest of two young men. And her grandmother picked her to be the one to unravel her family history and the secret it holds.

Greta isn't as strong. She has been kind of distant and tried to hurt herself. I am guessing the loss of her mother hit her a lot harder than it hit Louisa. Regardless, I didn't like her very much and I didn't connect with her well, at all. 

Christian, the girls father, was distant as well. He hid a lot of things and his daughters didn't even know the reason as to why he hadn't been in contact with his parents since he moved out. We come to find out that he really didn't know that much about his parents.

Rosemary kind of creeped me out in the beginning. She was this astrology psychic chick that told Louisa that she was in her grandparents house for a reason. I can't say that she grew on me but as the book progressed she seemed less weird.

Throughout the book Louisa received phone calls from her dead grandmother that slowly piece together her grandfather's, Gerhard's, past and heroism. While the book was focused on Louisa's love life I believe the historical fiction aspect was the best part. The book has a very close family system in it and with the aspect of her grandmother thrown in we get to see how much history truly does affect the future.

Something that would have been cool to add to the book would have been Louisa's list of memories about her mother. Throughout the book we get things like lilac's were her mothers favorite flowers, memory 111. I just think it would have been pretty cool to include that maybe in the back of the book as bonus content.

Overall, I gave the book 5/5 stars.



1) What was the inspiration behind The Number 7?

I used to manage a Swedish antique store, housed in a 19th century farmhouse. One stormy day, I was in the shop alone and I discovered this beautiful black antique phone for sale. When I noticed it wasn't plugged in, my imagination just ran away with me. I started wondering what I would do if the phone started ringing. My first thought was: who would I want to be on the other end, and what would he or she say?

2) Have any of your family members fought in WWII?

I grew up listening to stories of my grandfather fighting in the Korean War. The stories of his time in the Army are so vivid and memorable. (Remind me to tell you the story of the time he served KP duty in December of 1950, cooking hundreds of eggs stamped for expiration in 1947.) He is a natural-born storyteller. I think that's why I'm enamored with the stories time will eventually snuff out. It's sad to me to think my grandfather's stories will one day be lost forever. I suppose, though, it will happen to us all.

3) Are any of the characters in The Number 7 based off of a real person?

Absolutely. Practically each character has some remnant of someone I've known and loved. Chris and Gabe are based on various traits of past boyfriends. Neither is an exact copy of the real person, but they're both piecemeal versions of past flames. I don't believe either real-life Gabe or real-life Chris has read the book, but I'd be interested to know their thoughts. I hope they'd feel I was kind to them.

4) Have you been to Sweden?

I lived in Sweden for a year in college, and I connected with distant relatives while there. Those distant relationships have grown into very close friendships, some of the best in my life. So I've been back to Sweden many times since college. There's always a feeling of homecoming whenever I touch down at Arlanda. My husband and I dream of one day spending entire summers under the Swedish sun with our children. I can't imagine a happier dream.

5) Are you currently working on any new books?

Yes! While I have one manuscript halfway complete, I have another stewing in my head. There's never enough time in a day to get everything done (especially with two young kids at home), but my husband and I are currently moving from suburban Maryland to the mountains of North Carolina. I'm hoping the change of scenery will bring greater opportunities to write. I'm eager to get another book out there. I'm eager to share what's in my head.

6) Did you write a completed list of Louisa's memories of her mother?

Great question! Surprisingly, I never did. It's amazing how people have responded to that list of memories. My old employer, the Swedish antique shop owner, loved my book. One of Louisa's memories was that her mother used to sing "La Vie En Rose," and when my employer read that part, she recalled her own childhood memories of her mother singing that song. After finishing the book, she called me into the shop and presented me with her mother's old compact case, a beautiful gold mirror compact from the 1950s. When I opened it, it started playing "La Vie En Rose." It was such a tender and special gift. I was really humbled in that moment. It's wonderful how stories and words can affect others so deeply.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Author Spotlight: Hexed and Charmed by Michelle Krys + Double Vision

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 1:00 PM 0 comments


Michelle Krys is the author of HEXED and CHARMED. She lives with her husband and son in Northwestern Ontario, Canada, and works part-time as a NICU nurse. Michelle is probably not a witch, though she did belong to a witchcraft club in the fifth grade and "levitated" people in her bedroom, so that may be up for debate. Visit her at michellekrys.com or follow @MichelleKrys on Twitter.

Title: Hexed
Author: Michelle Krys
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication: June 10th 2014
Cover Rating: 5/5

Hexed is one of those books with a lot of action and a lot of emotional turmoil. Towards the beginning of the book something beyond tragic happens and it just sets the tone for the rest of the story. Then something happens in the end that sets the tone for the next book. I wouldn't say prepare to shed a lot of tears but I will say prepare to have your heart ripped apart.

Indigo was one of those girls who just followed the leader. She should have left Bianca in the dust a long time ago yet  she continued to follower her like a lost puppy no matter what horrible things Bianca said or did to her. She was also very naive in thinking that Bianca wouldn't try stuff with Devon.

Bianca and Devon were your typical ass-hat pair. They might have pretended to care about Indigo but they were just worried about themselves. I don't understand why Devon even dated Indigo if he was just going to give into Bianca so easily. And before that even happened he refused to take Indigo home when there was something wrong with her mother.

Bishop was such a wanker. He was a over-sexed pig at first. I really didn't expect anything to happen between him and Indigo. But oh well, I was wrong. I was kind of hoping he would kick Quarterback Jack's ass though. But he did become a very useful and overly important character. He was Indigo's backbone it seemed.

Paige was that idealistic best friend. Even though Indigo treated her like the plague and tried to push her away she stood her ground and was there for Indigo through everything. Sadly, the friendship was more than harmful for Paige and now we get to wait to the next book to see just how much Indigo values Paige.

I really enjoyed how well the author meshed together Indigo's REAL teenage life with her supernatural life. Most supernatural type stories fail to focus on the fact that a REAL life still have to go on. The author was amazing with showing the story rather than telling it. I could actually picture the sewers and The Black Cat. Everything felt very realistic.

The end of the book was and wasn't what I expected. I was kind of hoping something would happen to Devon or Bianca. I wasn't expecting the Paige situation even though that seemed pretty predictable. I also wasn't expecting the Aunt thing either. But right before prom she said something that made me think really hard about everything. 

Overall, I gave the book 5/5 stars.


The world of magic fascinates me. When it comes to witches I will most likely read or watch anything. All I knew going into this book was that it dealt with witches and I was intrigued just by that, plus the cover.

I was able to breeze through this because it is fast paced because of the way it is written. The characters and the story are highly enjoyable. I haven’t come across a witch story quite like this.

Indigo is a cheerleader with a best friend, who isn’t the greatest of friends in the world, with a boyfriend who flirts with her. Her mom owns her own shop, which she works at after school. Indigo is a smart female character and tries to be strong with all that she learns and has to go through.

Something I haven’t really come across is that Indigo actually tells her mom what happens. Normally, the characters keep everything from their parents, but this is not the case.

 As soon as we meet Bishop, I liked him right away. I’m one for tattoos and having a guy character that has them makes him more appealing, plus his sarcasm doesn’t hurt. You can tell right away that he likes Indigo.

Not only is the story addicting, but it gets emotional. I yelled at this book many times. I got sad or angry along with Indigo.
Through this Indigo gains a friend that she keeps pushing away. That is her neighbor Paige. She is the type of character that is nice to everyone, no matter if you wronged her, which makes her a good friend and someone Indigo needed.

Overall, I really enjoyed this. If you are like me and love anything about witches, then I recommend that you check this out. I’m looking forward to seeing where Michelle Krys will take this story. 


I rate this 5/5. 





Title: Charmed
Author: Michelle Krys
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication: May 26th 2015
Cover Rating: 5/5

I was so glad that I had Charmed on hand after I finished Hexed. I had to find out what happened to Paige and I needed to know how everything worked out with The Family and The Priory.

Indigo was reckless in this book. She didn't care about the feelings of those who loved her. She had her mind set on something and nothing was going to stop her. That is a admirable trait but she also should have taken into consideration how Bishop and Penny felt. With how dangerous her plans were she could have died. She did a lot of stupid things throughout this book. But in the end I am glad she ended up where she did.

Bishop and Penny could have been a little more supportive towards Indie. Then maybe she wouldn't have done such reckless things. But I can see that they were just trying to protect Indie. But you can only protect someone so much when they have their mind set.

Regardless of Indigo's childish behavior, Paige and the rest of the teenagers wouldn't have survived without her. But I also can't help but think that Cruz would be okay if it wasn't for her as well. I do believe that positive outcomes out-weighed the negative ones, though.

The book didn't have that much going on sadly. It was just Indie trying to get Paige back, her relationship with Bishop and her pissing her Aunt off. The entire book just felt like Sabrina the Teenage Witch rebelling.

The world building and character development was pretty good. I could picture Los Demonios clearly. There was a little bit of predictability with The Chief and Indigo's situation. But one thing I can say is that this is only of those series where I am constantly wondering what happens after the book ended. Do Indigo and Bishop stay together despite their differently planned futures? Does Indigo get her life and schooling back on track? No matter how certain books ends you will always want to know more and this was definitely one of those books.

Overall, I gave the book 4.5/5 stars.



I was looking forward to reading this because of how Hexed ended. I was ready to see what the next adventure was going to be. See where Michelle Krys was going to take the story.

I was a little bit disappointed with this one. I loved Hexed, but I found this one to be lacking. It wasn’t as fast paced, but rather slow for most of it. It didn’t pick up for me until a little past halfway. I felt it dragging until that point.

In Hexed Indigo was a strong girl and dealt with everything that was thrown at her. She did break down a few times, but considering everything she was going through it was understandable. In Charmed, though she was determined as ever, was reckless. She did what she wanted no matter the cost of her life. That is bravery, but she didn’t think things fully through or ask for help before going and doing something. She kept things from her Aunt Penny and her boyfriend Bishop. I didn’t like that she did that considering she told them what was happening in Hexed. She changed a lot and at the time not for the better. She spiraled. At certain points I also found her annoying. The only thing she started to improve on a bit was her magic.

Secrets come to light that have been kept for years. I saw it coming, but I enjoyed seeing how the characters reacted to the news.

Overall, I had a lot of problems with this one, but I did actually enjoy it, more than I thought I would. It got better, which helped. I thought the ending was satisfying with how things were left for all the characters. You are able to imagine that there is a lot of work that the characters still need to work through, but that they will get there in the end.


I rate this 4.5/5. 



1)If there was a spell to trade a sorcerers life to bring her mother back do you think Indigo would do it?

Absolutely! Indie regrets having taken her mother for granted and misses her like crazy.

2)Will there be any other books for this series after Charmed?

Right now, CHARMED is the last book in the Witch Hunter series, but I’d definitely be open to writing more if there was a demand. I love spending time with Indie and Co.!

3)What was the inspiration behind The Witch Hunter series?

One day my sister, Brandy, who is also a writer, told me about an adult historical novel she wanted to write called THE WITCH HUNTER’S BIBLE. I loved the title, and it gave me all of these great ideas for a YA novel. When Brandy decided to write a different book instead of the one she told me about, I asked her if I could use her great title for my idea. Luckily she agreed, and I got to work writing about a snarky, popular cheerleader who gets caught up in a centuries-old war between witches and sorcerers. Funnily enough, the title ended up changing in the editorial process.

4) Why did Paige continue to try and be friends with Indigo after so many years of being turned down and ignored?

Paige and Indie have known each other for so long that Paige has a hard time accepting their friendship is over. She believes Indie is a good person and that Bianca is corrupting her. You can see more about this dynamic in the digital short story BLACKWOOD, which is out now.


5)If Indigo were to write a book about her life what do you think it would be called?

Hmm, that’s a good question! Probably something like . . . “The Cheerleader’s Guide to Boys and Witchcraft”. Or! “The Bewitching of Indigo Blackwood.”


6)Do you believe in Witchcraft?

Witchcraft, as in magical spells? Sadly, no. I only wish it truly existed! 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Mini Review Monday[42] Rise by Amanda Sun

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 1:00 PM 0 comments

Title: Rise (Paper Gods book 2.5)
Author: Amanda Sun



I love the Paper Gods trilogy, so when I found out about this novella I knew I had to read it. 

Here we got to see how it all began between one couple. We go back and forth between the two couples. One couple in the past and one couple in the present. 

In the past, it is where everything began. They loved each other, but their relationship wasn’t perfect and it created something neither of them could imagine. 

In Ink and Rain I loved the relationship between Yuki and Tanaka, but I imagined more for them. They got along so well and you could see they cared deeply for one another and we got to see something being built between that they both wanted it to happen. It was beautiful to watch it grow. 

Overall, this was a nice novella. We learned what happened in the past, while experiencing what was happening in the present.

I gave this book 5/5 stars.



Sunday, May 17, 2015

Weekly Wrap-Up[6]

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 1:00 PM 1 comments


Mini Review Monday - The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan




Review - The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider



Author Spotlight for Jeanne Ryan






The bottom 4 I got in the mail. The top 2 I bought at used book stores

These are some of the author spotlight books I have gotten in the past 2 weeks.

Half of these are from birthday gifts in the mail or preorders.They are all from Barnes and Noble except 4.


I picked these up while my friend Dani was spending the weekend with me.

I got these for .20 cents each at a library sale.

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