Friday, August 26, 2016

A Saint for Life by Nicole Heck

I remember the day I was 'forced' to watch A Walk to Remember.  Let me tell you how the movies goes.

1.  Opening sequence.
2.  Over an hour of me screaming "Would you please just hurry up and die already?!  Please?  Come on, man!  Die!"

Now, Mandy Moore, you're awesome.  I adore you.  Let's do lunch.  But this type of movie is definitely NOT up my alley.  It gets my blood pressure up.  It's sweet on top of sweet and then begs you to feel sorrow.  Yeah.  No.  The Nutty Professor...that makes me cry.  Every single time.  A Walk to Remember just really annoys me.  It tries too hard.  "Hey!  Let's make a movie that'll make everybody cry!  Yeah!  That'll be fun!'  Well it works about as well on me as slapstick comedy!  There's something wrong with my brain and I apologize.

Now I'm sure that you're aware that there is a huuuuge audience for this sort of thing.  It just doesn't include me.  If it is your sort of thing, this is definitely a book you'll want to pick up.  I've heard a lot of flack about how a reviewer can only review a book that's in their preferred genre, and that's simply not true.  Read on, dear readers!  Read on!  Actually, grab some caffeine first!  Then read on!

This is the first book by Heck.  In a first novel, there are a lot of things to worry about.  Has it been edited?  Does the author have basic story-telling skills?  Is there a plot?  Are the characters set up well enough that you care who they are?

 Normally, my biggest complaint is the lack of editing.  Most new authors feel like they know what they're doing and just don't understand the need.  Heck did her homework and understood the need for editing and I give her great credit for it.  There are a few small items where the editor could have tweaked it a bit, but over all...great job here!

Now, though the characters and story are definitely not my thing, it is really well done.  The characters are well-formed.  Though I don't like them, they're incredibly realistic.  We have average teenagers, albeit late teens, who are living in unusual circumstances.  Heck does a great job of veering us into their psyche so we can see all of their vulnerabilities and strengths.

Heck also has a pretty natural story flow.  The beginning is a little rough, but once you get a few chapters in, you have all of the characters and timeline straight and you can just sit back for the ride.

Like I said, this is definitely not my thing.  It'll go put up in the library until someone else wants to read it.  BUT!  For the type of story it is, especially considering that it's the author's first novel, it's really well done.  If you enjoy sappy love stories with the potential to go horribly wrong, you should really pick this one up.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Hunter of the Dead by Stephen Kozeniewski

I never pass up a chance to read one of Kozy's books.  He's one of the few authors that I keep funds set aside for.  That way, as soon as a new one is released, I can immediately order it.

Now, because Kozy is one of my favorite authors, I know for sure that I'll love the book.  So, I don't bother reading what it's about.  I just pick it up and begin devouring.  You can get an idea of what sort of book it is by the book cover.  If I had to give you a quick plot summary, I'd say that we have vampires, Inquisitors, and the Hunter of the Dead.  He's the real star of the book, even though we rarely see him.  He doesn't seem to care who he kills.

I am not, nor have I ever been, a Twihard.  Now, that's not to say that I'm against vampires that have emotion.  P. Ambroziak's work is a perfect example of how 'good' or 'moral' vampires can exist in a way that I'm not frustrated and angry.  It's believable.  It's not simpering idiot vampires who's only job in life is to find someone they can obsess about.  There are no sparkles and no bad acting.  Anyway!  I digress!  In THIS book, Kozy brings back the horrific side of vampires.  These aren't simpering fools who are out for a good time with their beloved.  These are artful, intelligent creatures of destruction.  People are food.  It's that simple.  They give no more thought to dismemberment than a hunter would field-dressing a stag.  It's scary!  It's what vampires are supposed to be!  A master race that only needs us to feed off of!

Though I've come to expect unusual plot lines from Kozy, I wasn't a bit disappointed with this.  I won't say he reinvented the vampire because that would be both silly and untrue.  What he has done is undo some of the damage that Twilight and similar silly fodder has done.  He's brought vampires back to their respectable place.  He's made me stop hating them.  #VampireLivesMatter. first hashtag ever and it was caused by reading this book.  Now I feel corrupted.

As always, Kozy brings perfect balance to horror, drama and humor.  You don't have a chance to be overloaded by any of them.  Instead, you find yourself riding a wave that you don't want to ever stop.  Speaking of which, the end of this book leaves it wide open for a sequel...possibly even a series.  I am putting in my vote now that that not happen.  I would read it, happily.  However, I love that everything Kozy writes is unusual and I'd hate for him to stick with one thing and get in a rut.  He's far too talented for that.  Keep bringing the fresh plots that I adore you for!

Oh yes!  Horror!  Drama!  Humor!  I haven't read such terror since Poppy Z. Brite!  I was really impressed by the fact that I was almost grossed out!  Now, had this been a movie instead of a book, I probably would have only made it through about two minutes!  Luckily, my brain loves gore.  It's just that my eyes seem to be more tender towards such things.  My favorite character is Price.  He makes Harry Dresden look like a chump.  I'd follow Price into the depths of Hell without blinking.  Well that's not true.  I'd make sure I had a babysitter first.  But after that I'd follow without blinking!  He's imperfect and wonderful!  I truly believe he's one of the best characters Kozy has created to date.

This was another great read by Kozy and worth every penny.  I'll definitely pull it down and read it again, but not until after the kids all get a chance to read it.  Grown-uppish kids.  I'd never let a little kid read this.  My goodness!  We'd have serial killers all over!  'Look at me!  I'm the Hunter of the Dead!'  *POW* *SPLAT*  We don't need that.  However, I bet the older kids will get some great Halloween costume ideas from this!  If you can handle the darker side of vampires, this is a bloody good ride!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Forget Coloring!!! Check out these fantastic PAPER DOLLS!!!

Yeah I know, coloring has been a craze for a couple of years now.  Personally, I never stopped coloring so I can't actually say that I bought into the fad.  Coloring is great though!  It provides stress relief, active brain function and is great for motor skills.

I'd like to take a moment to talk to you about paper dolls.  I don't mean these sticker versions they have now that aren't good for much of anything.  I mean the types of paper dolls that were available when I was a youngster.  I'm not anymore, you know.  A youngster, I mean.  I do still love paper dolls though!  You get these great flimsy cardboard characters that are usually in their underwear.  Then you get to cut out all these great little outfits and accessories!  Using scissors is great for your motor skills!  Then, you can mix and match and layer outfits!  Excellent for creative processing!  Then, you can take your characters and interact with them just like you would action figures!  Paper dolls are freakishly awesome!!!

This picture shows my mad picture-taking skills and will help you stretch your neck muscles!  I'm so thoughtful!

Alright, so I'll admit, I haven't had paper dolls in over ten years.  I only recently came upon a book that renewed my love of them.  It is such an awesome book!  I love the people at Dover who meet all of my 'activity book'  needs!  In this book, we have all sorts of famous action stars and a fun wardrobe to go with them.  It's sturdy!  That means I can get a lot of play time out of it before the heads become bent and they're constantly staring down at their nether regions!  Instead of being stickers or those silly punch out outfits, you get to put your scissor skills to good use!

Are you working on a promo?  Need something different?  Set up your paper dolls to do the fascinating work for you!  Need something to while away a rainy afternoon?  Set up your paper dolls in a window sill and pretend it's the apocalypse!  Just went to drive your co-workers crazy?  Put together Conan the Barbarian and Agent Jay and just let things happen naturally!  Are you lonely and need a fake boyfriend?  You're guaranteed to find just the right one in this assortment!

Gifted by H.A. Swain

Before you read my review, I'd like to make two points clear.

First, I paid for this book out of my own hard-earned money.  I didn't even use a discount or coupon.  This is my own fault.

Second, I never read past the second chapter.  Again, I take the credit for this choice.

Dystopians are great! The writer takes a simple item and decide how it's going to change the world and its inhabitants.  In this book, the simple item is a brain change.  Basically, if you want to be a famous singer, you can go in and have your brain tuned.  It'll implant everything that you need to know in order to be a famous singer and remove all of the unnecessary stuff.  In theory, this could have ended up to be a great story.

What I was faced with instead was SCEWL and an institute named after the Kardashians.  We have descendants of popular actors and singers.  Now, don't get me wrong.  I have a lot of respect for those chosen career paths.  It takes a lot of determination, hard work and raw talent to make a respectable name for yourself.  However!  In Swain's future, people seem to be determined by who their ancestors were.  Well, after all, you're a Marley.  Come on!

So I've given this a lot of thought.  My biggest issue is that this book isn't being sarcastic or attempting to poke fun in any way.  In this version, famous media personnel are the focus of society.  If Will Smith was your great-grandfather, you've got it made.  I'm not going to jump into a rant on the dumbing down of society, but there are so many  more worthy ways this could have gone rather than just pandering to twelve-year-old children who don't know any better.  Yeah, great idea!  Let's just get a bunch of famous people and write a book about how we can rewire brains so these kids can be just like that with no real work involved!  Yeah!  Let's do that!  (Side note:  That was sarcasm.)

Now, in all fairness, there's a strong likelihood that there's something meatier inside this book.  Hopefully, it turns out that there's a depth here that teaches our younger generation that taking the easy way out isn't always the best way.  Hopefully, it teaches something useful instead of just the negative images that are in the first two chapters.  Hopefully, there's actually a good story in here.

I can only give you a heads up about the first two chapters.  I could pick it up and read more to find out what could possibly be great about this book after such a disheartening beginning, but I just love myself too much to put myself through it.

If you've read this book and have different feedback, I'd love to hear it!  If there's something I'm missing, I'll be happy to go back and read more!

Here we are again!

Many of my long-time readers are aware that I have a special needs child.  I wouldn't change this experience for anything!  The biggest challenge I've had is learning to be flexible.  It's easy to make up a schedule and plan to follow it, but things are going to happen that make that impossible.  My review career is a perfect example.

Every summer, I vow that I'm going to continue reviewing even though my child is home from school.  I will find a way to get to my computer!  I will find the time to sit and read!  I will check my e-mail and stay in touch with the community!  Every summer that fails to happen.  This one is no exception.  The fact is, most of our summer was spent in hospitals and surrounded by doctors and therapists.  I wouldn't change a moment of it.  The progress that we've both made during the summer is astounding!  But, that means that every vow I made concerning reviewing fell by the way side.

School is back in session, and that means so am I!  Now, I'm a little more realistic than I was last year at this time.  I know that between school meetings and therapies and research, the time that I have to devote to my reading passion will be sporadic.  I do have some great things I'm excited to share with you though!  

I won't be posting every day.  I will most likely not be taking part in tours.  There will most likely not be any release day parties.  The odds are really good that I won't be doing any giveaways in the near future.  That last one actually saddens me a little..  Most of the authors I know are writers because they can't help it, not for fame.  They love being able to share their work and passion with others.  I believe in them and I look forward to sharing it with you as well.  Giveaways and contests require time and planning, which I'm not currently willing to commit to.  

Hopefully, you've all had a wonderful summer full of progress and joy!  I'm excited to be back, no matter how brief it may actually be!  Welcome back, me!!!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Surviving Alzheimer"s Book Tour!!!

Product Details

We at Literary Litter are very excited about this book!  I had hoped to do a review, but personal circumstances kept me from doing so.  I do have it on my shelf and I can't wait to delve into it.  When something like Alzheimer's enters your life, you can't be too prepared.  There's no such thing as enough research.  This book chronicles the author's journey with her mother through Alzheimer's, as well as giving several resources.  Below is an interview with  Dayna Steele, the book's primary author.

  1. The book chronicles your mother’s illness through your Facebook posts. Did you include every post in the book? What was the selection process like? My co-author Heather Rossiello kept a database of every single post and every comment – there were literally thousands of comments on some posts. We went through them all after I lost Mom and tried to keep only the posts and comments that 1) Included informative information for caregivers 2) made us laugh out loud, and, 3) made us think. 

  1. After each post you include comments that your community left. Did you pick those or did you have other people help you? We went through every comment, sometimes two or three times, to make sure we adhered to our own guidelines above. This book wasn’t a memoir so much as a help tool for others in the future.   
  1. What was your relationship with Alzheimer’s disease before your mother’s diagnosis? Did you have any preconceptions about the illness before you started this journey with her? I like to think I am a fairly well educated and informed person. I knew what Alzheimer’s was and I knew it was called “The Long Goodbye.” Then the diagnosis – and I realized I had no idea how stressful, sad, irritating, confusing, etc this disease is. No one tells you the really rough stuff like the possible violence or cleaning up your own mother’s feces or any number of things like this. You also don’t realize how all encompassing it becomes physically and mentally until you actually have to live it.  
  1. How did the support of your Facebook community impact you through this hard time? Facebook became my support group. My Facebook community gave me ideas, information, suggestions and laughter and love. And, once I wrote a particularly hard post, I would let go of the negative emotions. It was very cathartic to write and share.  
  1. When did you get the idea to turn your Facebook posts into a book? Literally when so many people started commenting. “I hope you put this in a book.” In fact, the first couple of pages in the book are those words of encouragement from so many followers.  
  1. How has your Facebook and local community supported you through the creation of the book? Just constantly encouraging me to compile it all in a book. And giving me permission to laugh and cry and get mad – over and over and over.  
  1. How did you decide what materials to include in the second half of the book? The second half of the book is all resources I wish I had at the beginning. There are sections written by people who helped me along the way: a neurologist, document expert, Long Term Care insurance rep, an assisted living advisor and more. I also included a list of questions everyone should ask their loved ones and a section where caregivers and their caregivers talk about what it is like on that side. 

  1. You coauthored the book with Heather Rossiello. What was her role in the book’s process? I found I could not live it and relive it at the same time – it was too daunting and depressing. Heather came in about half way through the journey for a totally unrelated reason – she had some copies of my In the Classroom book she wanted signed for teachers and we met for coffee. She asked what I was working on and I told her about the book idea and my challenges with getting it done. She asked if she could take a look and see what could be done – and then did it! (book link -  
  1. What are you hoping readers will get out of Surviving Alzheimer’s? Someone once said to me there isn’t a users’ manuaon what to do or what is going to happen when you get this diagnosis. I hope this book does become the manual for what to do and how to do it for caregivers everywhere.  
  1. You’ve been named the spokesperson for How do you hope to aid those dealing with Alzheimer’s in this role? *Please note it is not As the Chief Caring Expert for, I hope to be able to guide others to this great resource I wish I had known about early on. Not only would I have been able to read the reviews and make a better informed decision on where to put mom but I also would have had access to so much content for caregivers. There is an answer to just about every question you may have as well as support groups for Alzheimer’s and even more on the site. And, it’s free. Alzheimer’s is a very expensive disease and when you can find any sort of fee help, that’s the best.

Dayna Steele's website.

To purchase.  (Notice, Kindle Unlimited is free!!!)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Witches Protection Program by Michael Phillip Cash

Product Details

-Carrie Anne

Wes Rockville, a disgraced law enforcement agent, is given one last chance to prove himself and save his career when he's reassigned to a 232 year old secret government organization.  The Witches Protection Program.  His first assignment:  uncover a billion-dollar cosmetics company's diabolical plan of using witchcraft for global domination, while protecting its heiress Morgan Pendragon from her aunt's evil deeds.  Reluctantly paired with veteran witch protector Alastair Verne, Wes must learn to believe in both witches and himself.  Filled with adventure, suspense and a rousing good time, Michael Phillip Cash creates a tongue-in-cheek alternate reality where witches cast spells and wreak havoc in modern day New York City (taken from Amazon description)

I typically love Cash's books.  They usually have relatable characers and interesting plots, with a healthy dose of humor thrown in.  For some reason, this one fell flat for me.  The story did have its humorous side and the idea is clever; I think we'd all wish for a little magic in our lives.  Unfortunately, Cash never spells out the rules of magic in today's world.  There were times I thought "Just cast a spell already,"  though I didn't know if the witch in question really could.  Then there were the BIG spells that we were to assume could just be explained away from an unsuspecting public.  Of course, today's media can feed us any story they want...

I felt there were too many side characters and even side stories that were unnecessary to the plot.  The 'ah ha!' moments weren't for me.  At one point there was probably a major plot point presented and I was just scratching my head.  It was more of a 'huh?'  moment for me.  I think by that time I was just bored of the whole story.  My favorite character was Wes with Morgan running a close second.  I'd love to see Cash bring them back, with a longer story and more time to fully flesh out the people involved.  The Witches Protection Program is a good one, but I think it needs a different story for us to really get to know them.

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All books (unless otherwise specified) belong to me already, have been borrowed, or are sent to me by the author, publisher or review company for review. I do not receive any monetary rewards for reviewing books. The opinions expressed in my reviews belong solely to me.