Friday, May 28, 2010

Cover Girl Simply Ageless Makeup

Some of you know that I'm a bzzagent.  Basically, they send me awesome products and I tell them what I think about it and let others know as well.  Recently they sent me the new line from Cover Girl.  I have to admit that as a teenager, Cover Girl was the makeup to go for.  It was inexpensive and served all my needs.  As an adult, however, Cover Girl kept that teen stigma for me and I opted for other brands.  I have to admit that they've changed my mind this time.  I tried the eye corrector, concealer, foundation and blush.  Personally, I don't really have a use for the eye corrector or concealer but I am in love with the foundation and blush!  They glide on smoothly and last for hours without needing any touch ups.  The design of the case is just awesome.  On the top you have a screw cap which flips upside down to reveal the product.  On the bottom you have a flip open case that holds your makeup sponge.  It's so easy to use!  Plus it's just cool :D  I have to admit I choked a bit when I looked at the retail price, but for the amount of makeup you receive it's actually a really good deal.  I wear makeup every single day and the blush alone will probably last me nearly two years.  It only takes a tiny bit to last an entire day.  I've linked to my favorite!  Hopefully some of you have tried it and have feedback!

The Moment of Truth by Mark O'Neal

Maurice Ousley seems to have it all:  his team captures first place after a gutsy win before All-Star Break, he's voted by the coaches to the NBA All-Star Game, and he plans a cozy evening with his girlfriend Gabrielle to pop the question.

However, the evening begins to unravel as Maurice finds out about a dark secret that Gabrielle has hidden from him.  He subsequently leaves her at the restaurant once the truth is revealed.  he then goes to a party hosted by one of the All-Star basketball players to blow off soe steam.  There he meets a stunningly attractive actress and finds out that she has a huge crush on him.

Finally, Maurice caps off the evening by small talking to some of his teammates, and his best friend on the squad drops another bombshell on him.  Just when the night couldn't get any worse, he discovers he's also the target of the same federal fugitive who kidnapped his stepfather a year prior.  Will Maurice leave Gabrielle for the actress, or will he stay with her?  What news does his teammate tell him?  And lastly, will Maurice survive, or will his past finally catch up to him?  (Taken from the back of the book)

As review books arrive, I keep them in a neat, orderly box with the next to be reviewed at the front.  I have to admit, when I pulled out this book and looked at it, I groaned.  The book is plain gray with black lettering and the back doesn't sound appealing.  As it sunk in that this was a book about a basketball player (I'm sooo not into sports!), I realized this might be a difficult read and review for me.  I was wrong :) 

Let's start off with the basketball portion since I thought that would be the worst for me.  I apologize, Mark, but I skipped right over it!  It was easily outlined which parts of the story had to do with basketball so I was able to do so without actually missing any part of the story that appealed to me.  Someone who's into basketball will definitely get a kick out of that part of the book, that someone just isn't me.  I can't tell you how accurate or well-written the basketball part is, but I can tell you that if it's not your thing, you can skip right over it like I did with no issues!

The back of the book doesn't really sum up the plot very well.  Yes, those things all happen in the book, but they don't lead you to where the true intrigue of the book is.  Maurice has become famous as a basketball star, but not everyone knows about his seedy past.  Both Maurice and his father used to be into some pretty bad stuff, and at the worst possible moment it's come back to bite Maurice and possibly ruin his future..if he even has one by the time the 'bad guys' are finished with him.  I really think a revamping of the cover and blurb would help this book alot.  The 'guts' of the book are's just the body that needs some work.

I have no complaint at all about characters and plot.  They're basic, but they work.  It's a nice quick read that will keep both men and women entertained this summer.  It's light reading with just enough action and drama to keep you sucked in until nearly the end. 

Adulation by Tiana Wilkins

I hate to give bad reviews.  I realize that authors put their heart and soul into their work and bad reviews can be hurtful.  As a general rule, I can find something good about a book and I tend to focus on that.  Every rule, however, was made to be broken.  I'll do my best to keep from an all out rant regarding this book, but after spending a few hours pacing the kitchen and inventing new swear words because the ones I knew just weren't cutting it, that may not be possible.  Tiana, my apologies, but I have to call it like I see it.

Plot:  Overdone!!!  We've all read Cinderella!  We get it!  There's a poor little girl whose daddy died and she's left with a horrible stepmother and two stepsisters.  I kept waiting for some new plot twist to pop up and keep me from throwing the book, but it didn't happen.  A stomache condition does not a plot twist make!

Characters:  Please can I kill them all myself?  The only character worth anything in the entire book is the math teacher.  Everyone else just annoyed the spit right out of me!  They're rude, selfish, spiteful and just flat out foolish.  That includes the main character.  Not one of them displayed common sense, let alone good sense.  I found myself screaming 'Who does that?!?!  Who???  What the *(^%^(*& is wrong with them???'

Editing:  YES PLEASE!!!  It took every ounce of self control I had not to break out the standard red pen, edit the darn thing myself, and send it right back!  I realize that editors can be costly and even then sometimes mistakes are missed.  The occasional mistake I can usually read around, but we're talking nearly every flippin' paragraph here!  Words used incorrectly!  'When' instead of 'went'!  Run on sentences!  Fragmented sentences!  Sentences that just made absolutely no sense no matter how many times I reread them!  Punctuation errors!  This is just the tip of the iceberg that sank this Titanic!

The icing on the proverbial cake for me was something that I've never seen an author do.  In fact, it's something I've not seen anyone do since elementary school.  Throughout the entire book, the tense changes.  We flip from past tense to present tense constantly.  Even within the same sentence!  I realize that not everyone is an English major and not everyone remembers all the grammar rules we learn in school.  I realize that not everyone goes to school.  However, IF YOU'RE GONNA WRITE A FLIPPIN' BOOK THEN GET A FOURTH GRADER TO TEACH YOU HOW!

I apologize for my rant.  This book is a reader's nightmare.  I'm actually angry that this book is sitting on store shelves where those that don't know any better can pick it up, read it, and think that it's acceptable writing.  Tiana:  Go back to the drawing board.  Pick a subject that's actually nearer to your heart.  Write what you know.  Invest in an editor.  It will make a world of difference.  Then send me your next book and I'll happily sing praises for your improvement.  In the meantime, this book is going in the recycle bin so that hopefully some day it can be made into something useful.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Pallbearers by Stephen J. Cannell

The orphans who don’t seem to make it in the system end up with Pop, also known as Walter Dix. Walter’s an old surfer who delights in taking in the problem children. Shane Scully is one such child. After being through several foster families, he finally settles at Huntington House under Pop’s care.

Years later, Shane receives a strange phone call stating that Pop has committed suicide and left a note requesting that Shane be one of the six pallbearers at the funeral. When he arrives, he finds the other five pallbearers to be a ragtag bunch with nothing in common except for their relationship with Pop and the fact that none of them actually believes Pop committed suicide.

Stephen J. Cannell is such a noted author that he can sell books simply by having his name on them. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that this is my first attempt to read any of his work. It’s difficult with known authors because there’s an expectation there that few can actually live up to. This was a huge exception. I’m not sure why I haven’t been reading Cannell all along. I didn’t have any of the ‘floating’ that usually goes along with well known authors. They know they can sell books so they don’t put their heart and soul into it, just sort of float by. I’m deeply impressed with Cannell’s work and can see now why he’s beloved by so many.

When it comes to mystery books, the most important characteristic for me is whether or not I can solve the mystery before the main character. This book was a huge exception for me. As I started reading, I began to form theories in my head of what might be going on. At the same time, Shane is formulating the exact same theories and operating on them. After a short distance in the book, I just didn’t care anymore if I was correct or not. I was so drawn in to Shane’s world that the mystery didn’t matter. I wanted Pop’s death taken care of as badly as any character in the book, but it was more like I was a seventh pallbearer who was just more silent than the others. I sat with them through meetings and lamented over behaviors and screamed my thoughts in my head instead of out loud. I became so involved that figuring everything out didn’t matter anymore. I just didn’t want the ride to end.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Wind In The Woods by Rose Senehi

At a North Carolina youth camp, drama and suspense unfold. The camp’s owner is dealing with the possibility that his precious camp may be destroyed. A young boy struggles to find himself amid family problems and social issues. A killer is preying on women in the Blue Ridge mountains nearby, leaving a trail of intrigue that ultimately leads to the camp.

I can see why Senehi has been praised for her work. It’s beautifully written with colorful, realistic characters. The place setting is absolutely gorgeous. She has a talent for displaying the beauty of North Carolina without bogging you down with unnecessary description. Each character in the book, from the main to the briefest encounter, are distinctly woven together so that each one has a unique personality. Senehi pulls you into another world and does it nearly flawlessly.

My only issue with this book came in the beginning. I love the high drama that it starts out with, but found too many characters to remember them all throughout the first several chapters. Though each character is introduced separately, at the point that they all merge together you have to really struggle to remember who each character is and their position in the story. I did find that after a little time I came to know them well enough that I didn’t have to fight to remember who they were. It was like meeting an entire cast of characters and having to sort them out until I came to know each one personally.

In the book there’s also a strong undercurrent of protection and appreciation. This spans from the interaction of characters to environmental issues. We get a glimpse of how a youth camp works at it’s finest. The characters learn to cope with each other with a new understanding. We also get a first-hand look at how the environmental process works when it involves the sale of land and environments that need protection. Thankfully, this part wasn’t long and drawn out. I was a bit concerned at first that it would become nothing but legal mumbo jumbo and was glad that Senehi stuck to the basics instead of bogging the story down.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Possum Living by Dolly Freed

When I heard my friend, Steve, was reading this book, I had to borrow it.  With the economy being what it is, everyone's always looking for new ways to save money.  Not only that, who can resist a book titled 'Possum Living' ??? 

Dolly and her father live in a house together and survive on an average of $1200 per year.  They believe that it's easier to learn to do without than to get a job and buy the things that most people find are necessities.  They both do odd jobs such as mowing lawns and crafting to make the few dollars that they do need to survive. 

The way that they live is a bit unorthodox, and probably not for most people, but I think nearly anyone reading this will take away some useful ideas.  There are tips for cutting expenses, gardening, mushroom hunting, fishing, all sorts of things.  You'll also find a good bit of humor infused in the book. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Questionable Therapy by Steve Godofsky

First, thanks Steve for sending me your book to review :)

A difficult family background complicated by depression and suicidal tendencies is revealed through a combination of first person therapy sessions and flashbacks in this psychological drama.  Stacy and Rick deal with her growing problems, posing great danger to their relationship and marriage.  Adding to their issues is someone who causes Rick to question his own love for Stacy and their future.  Eventually, the death of a close friend, and worsening substance abuse, send Stacy into a downward emotional spiral that results in even more severe challenges that threaten her life.

At the same time, a dark force is brewing in the mind of a dangerous person who is fighting desires for Stacy that he cannot control.  Ultimately, it's Rick who uncovers Stacy's surprising and terrible fate, as he unravels clues from unlikely places and discovers who seals it.  (From the back of the book)

I have quite a few mixed emotions about this book.  My initial reaction is that it's merely mediocre.  There are several things I love about the book, but there are a few that really brought it down.  Let's just do a bit of dissection and go from there.

First and foremost, editing issues.  I know these aren't necessarily the author's fault, but they're there and distracting.  I'm emailing Steve and I'm quite sure he'll fix these errors so I'm not all that concerned about them.  Please don't let them decide whether you'll read the book or not. 

I had two main problems with the actual story.  The first, and most frustrating, is that we never get a diagnosis for Stacy.  I know, it's not really the main point of the book, but I really wanted to know.  As I'll explain when I get to the good stuff, Stacy's illness is unique and fascinating and I was left feeling unfulfilled where she was concerned.  Secondly, though it's a psychological drama, there's a mystery involved and it didn't take pure genius to figure out who the bad guy was.  Thankfully, there were a few chapters that cast a shadow over another possibility, which helped quite alot.  A mystery isn't alot of fun if you know all along who the culprit is.

Now the good stuff!  The characters are fun and unique!  The mental issues displayed by Stacy and her family are ones that I've never heard of.  Obviously Steve did his homework before writing this book.  Though I really wanted to find out exactly what was wrong with Stacy, I had a blast sitting in on her therapy sessions.  As the readers, we're flies on the wall just sitting back, watching and listening.  Each character is lovingly flawed in some manner, yet even so, they're all extremely likable.

Another thing I loved about this book is that it flows nicely and is quick to read.  It's perfect for a summer book.  Take it to the beach while the kids are swimming.  Enjoy a little psychosis instead of a little romance!  Personally, I feel like this book is geared more towards the male readers out there, but women will enjoy it as well.  Then again, usually when a book tosses in strippers, I automatically feel it's more geared towards men :) 

Overall, an enjoyable quick read.  There isn't alot of in depth thinking necessary, making it wonderfully dark entertainment.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith

Thanks to Jessie of for sending me this book to review!

Terror breaks out amid a small town funeral when poor Martin, tucked neatly into his casket, awakens and sits up. Mr. Bennet and his family are there to witness the event and save the entire town from the unmentionable, also known as zombie. Thus, it begins. Mr. Bennet begins training the girls to fight the zombies, even though everyone is in an uproar over their unladylike behavior.

Amid the hacking, slashing, and chewing, elder sisters Jane and Elizabeth have come of age to find husbands. Each has choices to make, but which will it be?

This book is the prequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which I have not read for one good reason. There’s too much hype about how wonderful it is. I’ve found that when a book is praised over the top, it normally can’t live up to the expectations my mind has given it. I was a little nervous about reading this one as well, but I was pleasantly surprised. This book is easily as wonderful as the reviewers feel that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is!

You’ll find yourself tucked into a world of aristocratic ladies coming out while zombies make breakfast out of them. Honestly, this book has the best of everything. The characters are strong and forceful. You love them or hate them and either way is fun. The story holds you tightly and you never want to exit. This was one of those books that didn’t leave my hands until I’d drank every single drop. Though some of the situations are absolutely preposterous, it only adds to the reading enjoyment of this book.

For once, I cannot find one single negative thing to say about the book or it’s author’s writing style. Hockensmith is a genius. The entire time I was reading I had visions in my head of Hockensmith having brunch with Gregory Maguire, both of them munching ham and rolling ideas back and forth to improve classics.

One last note:  If you haven't read Pride and Prejudice, it won't make any difference!!!  You can easily read this book without it!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Up at the College by Michele Andrea Bowen

Thanks to Jessie at armchairinterviews for giving me this book to review!

Yvonne Copeland’s marriage of fifteen years has disintegrated. Her husband gives her a mere few weeks to move her and their two daughters out so that he can move on with his life. For a stay-at-home wife and mother, this is a nightmare.

Curtis Parker is having some issues of his own. His job as coach of the basketball team could be on the line. The higher ups are up to something and he has to figure out what it is and how to get around it before he loses his job.

Both Curtis and Yvonne are struggling in their faith. Will they be able to allow God to help them put their lives together?

For the entire first half of this book, I found myself coming up with excuses to put it down. Then I found more excuses to not pick it up. The prologue sucked me right in and kept me interested, but by the middle of chapter one, I was bored. The characters don’t breathe. They’re simply written. You get intimate glimpses of who they are now and then, but they just don’t sink into your heart. Not being a huge basketball fan, I found myself really wanting to skim over those parts. Forcing myself not to, became a chore. The only thing that I loved about the first half of the book is the dialect. When the characters speak, that’s when Bowen shines. There’s an amazing realness to not only what the characters say, but the way that they say it. You can actually hear their voices in your head. Since I didn’t have a good base for who the characters were, this really surprised me, but I was absolutely delighted with it.

The second half of the book I found much different than the first. It starts out in the church where a Bernie Mac look-a-like preacher is confronted by all the church ladies that have been after him, wanting him to choose one of them. This was the most real scene in the entire book and took me from laughter to tears in moments. I could tell that Bowen had a fun time writing this part and I wish this same feeling went throughout the entire book. I did find that the second half of the book picks up and it’s much more difficult to put down. By that point, I’d seen that Bowen really does have a great talent and the characters, while still not real, at least held some interest to me.

Overall, this was a decent read, but not something I’d suggest to anyone unless I knew that it would personally touch them. On a more personal note, this book did touch me.  Having recently gone through a similar situation to that of Yvonne, this book gave me the bit of hope and faith I'd been looking for.  Although I wouldn't suggest it as a normal 'just for fun' read, I strongly suggest it to anyone going through a rough divorce or just needing a faith pick-me-up. 

Monday, May 10, 2010

Clear the Decks Giveaway

OK, I know I don't normally blog about giveaways, but this one is different.  Bibliophilic Books is clearing off the shelves and giving away tons of great stuff!  There's a fun little survey to fill out for multiple entires into the contest.  Don't worry, the most difficult question is your age, and you don't have to answer it if you don't want to!  So, why am I blogging about this giveaway?  There are just so many great authors being given away:  Kresley Cole, J.R. Ward (one of my personal favs!), Terry Spear, Kim Harrison, Stacia Kane, P.C. Cast and many others!  All of you paranormal lovers know all of these authors!  Just click the link on the left for 'Clear the Decks' and head on over!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Cold Rock River by Jackie Lee Miles

First, thanks to Eric and Heather of Sourcebooks and J.L. Miles for giving me this book to review.

Seventeen-year-old Adie Jenkins is newly married and newly pregnant though not necessarily in that order.  Unready for fatherhood, her skirt-chasing husband isn't much help.  But in this stunning tale that redefines intimacy, love, and family, Adie discovers hope where she least expects it:  from her sweet neighbor Murphy, from the world-wise midwife Willa Mae, and in the worn pages of the diary of  slave girl- a girl who is much closer to Adie than she thinks.  (from the back of the book)

Normally when I have anything negative to say about a book, I like to start out with the good to sort of soften the blow of the bad. This time, I have to just get it off my chest.  I've heard so many people sing the praises of J.L.'s novels.  I was hoping to be one of those people.  So, let's get down to it.

First, I love a good cliff-hanger as much as the next person, but it drove me to distraction in this book.  We find out right away that something has happened to the baby, Annie, but we have to read through the entire first half of the book to find out exactly what happend.  'But what happened to Annie?'  was shouting through my head as I finished each paragraph.  The same thing happens repeatedly throughout the book.  A wonderfully tantalizing tidbit of information is given to us, just enough to keep us on the edge of our seats.  Then we're left waiting and wondering to the point that the rest of the story loses all meaning.  Just when we finally find out the information that our brain is requesting of us, another cliff-hanger is thrust at us and we have to start all over again.  Most of the story was ruined for me because I just couldn't get my brain to get past this concept.

The second problem I had with this book is that everything is just too neatly tied in a bow.  Extra characters we don't want in the story?  No problem!  Let's just kill them off!  I get that the entire point of the book is that there are struggles and Adie has to work her way through them.  I get that bad things are going to happen.  I even get that sometimes a neat little bow is the only way to tie those loose ends together.  I just feel like the creativity that's actually thrust into the story could have definitely been used a little better in tieing up those loose ends. 

Now, for those of you getting angry at my review, keep in mind that this is just my opinion.  On to the good stuff!

During the course of the book we get to read the journal of Tempe, a slave girl. This part of the book alone makes it worth reading.  Honestly, were the book nothing but the fictitious Tempe's diary, I'd have happily devoured every single word.  It's true to the time and shocking reading.  Tempe is alive and vivid.  Her situations are incredible and unbelievable, while at the same time being heart-wrenching.  I think this was the true masterpiece of the book.

Adie and all the other characters in the book are well-written and well-formed.  The story is actually quite interesting and easy to follow if you can get past the cliff-hangers.  It's really interesting for me to look back and realize just how different everything was a mere 50 years ago.  Adie and her family are haunted by so many skeletons in the closet that you wonder how they ever coped with them back then.  This book is riddled with interweaving scandal.

Though I had a few problems with this book, I'd still suggest it.  It's slow in parts, but easily makes up for it with the heartfelt content.  Though I hated waiting so long to discover what was at the end of those tantalizing tidbits, every single time I found the answer I found my jaw dropping in awe.  They still weren't worth such a long wait, but it did soften the edge quite a bit by being such juicy, gossipy endings.  Though I hated the neat little packaged bow at the end, most readers will love the outcome of it.  I spent most of my time reading this book wondering why Tempe's journal was even there.  It really didn't go along with anything Adie was doing at the time and it's only purpose seemed to be that she was deriving comfort from it.  Thankfully, there was more to it and once I discovered it, the entire book took on a different personality.  Throughout most of the book, I couldn't wait to put it down.  Once I reached the end, however, I found myself deep in thought and examing everything I'd read in a new light.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker

Meet Truly Plaice - part behemoth, part witch, part Cinderella.  Born larger than life into a small-minded town, Truly breaks her family into smithereens.  Her mother dies during Truly's birth, and when her father follows shortly afterward, Truly and her dainty sister, Serena Jane, are destined for very different fates.  As Truly grows larger and larger on a rundown farm, she watches lovely Serena Jane become the town's adored May Queen and the obsession of a local boy, Bob Bob Morgan- the youngest in a line of Aberdeen's doctors, who for generations wove their influence among the town's citizens.  Yet no matter how far apart life propels them, Truly and her sister are forever linked.  And Truly will find her future shaped by Serena Jane's relationships, a centuries-old antique of Dr. Morgan's, and the reality that love cannot be ordered to size.  (back of the book)

You never know what to expect from a new author, so it was with a little nervousness that I approached Tiffany's book.  I have to admit though, this is one of the best books I've read in the past year.  It took me a few days to finish it due to life interruptions (darn life!), but I found myself carrying it with me everywhere I went, just in case the possibility to get through even another paragraph arose.  Now let's pick this book apart and expose those raw bones!

Characters are incredible in this book!  I love the villain and hate the heroes!  That isn't entirely accurate though, because as in real life, the lines blur back and forth.  Truly is the prime example of that.  Early on she states her case in such a way that we sympathise with her, but paying close attention, we see that things aren't always the way Truly claims them to be.  Of course she sees how she's being mistreated, but as a reader, catching the fine details we can figure out why she's being treated in such a manner.  I love Truly!  She's vindictive and spiteful and full of love and hope all at the same time. 

The writing is captivating and holds you tightly into the story.  Of course, sometimes we all get forced out against our will, but it's easy to pick the book up and just continue right from where you were without having to force your brain to remember what was going on.  Tiffany just sucks you into Aberdeen and keeps you there, no matter what real life may be holding for you.  In fact, I really wish she'd stick to Aberdeen and write stories about the other characters.  Marcus is definitely my favorite and would make for an excellent read!

Overall, a great read that sets into your mind and stays there, making you think for days after you've finished.  This is not a book to be missed, for you novel readers out there.  Tiffany is currently working on her second book, Fleur de Sel, and I can't wait to see how it turns out.  If it's nearly as good as Little Giant, Tiffany will become a keeper author for me. Thanks, Tiffany, for sending me this book to review.  For me, it was a great find that I probably wouldn't have found on my own.

Giveaway Notice

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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.