Friday, May 27, 2011

Magel's Ghost by Nancy Baker

Brilliant!

This book is the sequel to Magel's Daughter.  In the first book, we meet Karin Olina and her Norwegian family.  Karin is plagued by the ghosts of her ancestors, but is she crazy or blessed with a sight most of us don't have?  In Magel's Ghost, we take up about a year after the ending of the last book.  Karin is causing trouble and it's up to her cousin, Marit, to put a stop to it. 

This just doesn't even begin to cover what's happening!  Nancy is a genius!  This is one seriously disturbed family.  The way that Nancy writes it, I still can't tell if they're all crazy from inbreeding or if they're the only sane ones on the planet.  This was a captivating, fascinating read that I couldn't put down.  I even devoured the sex scenes!  For those of you who read my reviews, you know that's unusual!  Each one is important to the plot and executed in such a way as to add to the story instead of pulling the reader on an erotic side road. 

If you're faint of heart and can't handle gruesome events, you might want to be careful.  Though everything is executed with clinical accuracy, i think it would be a bit much for some people to handle.  As for me, I can't get enough!  I was enthralled with the knowledge contained in this book.  Though I'd never do these things myself, I found myself wondering if that would really work and being impressed by the cleverness of the characters as well as the writer. 

This book has everything!  Humor, romance, intrigue and a healthy dose of the unimaginable will keep you suspended through page after page.  For those of you who can't drive by a train wreck without craning your neck, this is a definite must read!  This is your chance to see the very essence of evil in the human soul from the safety of your own living room.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Uncommon Grounds by Sandra Balzo Review

Meet Maggie Thorsen.  She's a divorcee with a son in college, just trying to get her life back together.  On the day that she and two friends have the grand opening for their new business, a coffee shop, she walks in to find one of her friends laying murdered on the floor.  Maggie can't keep her nose out of the mystery and has to figure out who has killed her friend.

As a cozy mystery series, this was a great beginning.  We start off in the beginning with the murder, so immediately you're sucked in.  We have a larger sized small town full of interesting, yet suspicious, people.  Sandra is a great storyteller who's created a wonderful setting for her mysteries to take place.  As a main character, Maggie is witty and bright, with a penchant for getting into trouble.  Just a hint of romantic suspense definitely adds to this story and I can't wait to see where Balzo goes with the romance line to the story. 

So, what makes this different from every other cozy mystery series out there and sets it apart from the rest?  That's a simple answer, as far as I'm concerned.  I didn't solve the mystery.  I went through the entire book, mentally filing away each suspect.  I added motive and opportunity and calculated who was the most likely.  Then I factored in the writer's ability to make the least likely suspect be the murderer.  Then I took a few moments to think about the back stories in an attempt to find someone's 'fatal flaw'.  Still, at the end of the book when everything starts wrapping up, I was shocked!  I've read a lot of mysteries and I'm sold on any book where the characters figure out what's going on before I do.

Cozy mystery lovers won't want to miss this one.  There are even a few 'laugh out loud' moments in the book.  Watch for reviews of the next two books in the series, Grounds for Murder and Bean There Done That

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Return of Black Douglas by Elaine Coffman Review

Magical time travel romance.

Isobella and Elizabeth are visiting Scotland whhen Isobella wishes she had her 'Mr. Darcy'.  When she touches a painting of Black Douglas, all three of them disappear and reappear in the year 1515.  Each of the sisters are 'picked up' by warring clans.  Will they be able to find each other, let alone their way back home?

Ah so much fun!  I love time travel and this one has such a great twist!  The ghost of Black Douglas transports them back and then decides to stick around and drive the girls crazy throughout the book.  Our ghost adds a much-needed humor element.

The romance portion of the story involves Isobella and Alysandir.  Thankfully, Isobella has done her homework, so she knows how to behave and what to expect of the time period.  Of course, they have the more than typical romance issues in coming together.  The romance portion is excellent with just enough of that 'I'm a high school kid and this is my first love' feel to keep you tingling all over.  There are a few sex sections, but they're easy enough to skip over if you like.  I didn't find anything spectacular about them.

What I loved most about this book is the phrasing.  There were some parts where I actually stopped and reread a section several times because it just sounded so beautiful in my head.  In places the characters make profound comments that are absolutely lyrical.  I've never read Elaine's work before, but if this is typical of her writing, I'm definitely a fan.  Most of the book is a fun, quick, and quirky read, but once you hit these choice morsels you realize that you've really hit upon something special.  I'm thankful the entire book isn't written this way, as I would never actually finish it (because I kept rereading so often!), but there's just enough in there to keep me coming back for more.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Recovery by Alexandrea Weis Review

Strong romance, suspense!

Set against the backdrop of recovering Louisiana, turned writer Nicci finds that her beloved David was murdered by someone in her background, not his.  An important figure from David's past turns up to ask Nicci to help uncover the murderer, along with the help of one of David's old friends. 

Let's get the bad stuff out of the way first.  I don't like the main character, Nicci.  I find her flat and annoying and not someone that I would ever in a billion years want to be friends, or even acquaintances, with.  Also, you all know how I feel about editing.  Though it's not rampant with errors, it definitely became distracting in a few areas.

Though I haven't read the first book in the Nicci series, To My Senses, it really isn't necessary for this second installment.  Dallas, the hero in our book, is amazing, as are the rest of the cast of characters.  Weis has a real talent for creating strong, romantic heroes as well as outlandish and vibrant surrounding characters. 

There's a strong blend of romance, intrigue and a healthy dose of giggling.  I didn't solve the mystery until the end, along with the characters.  I was captivated by the story as well as the characters and I can't wait to see what happens next.

Currently, Weis's screenplay, Blood Will Tell, is in pre-production in the movie industry and rights are being sought to produce a movie for recovery.  I'd keep an eye on this author, as she has a definite flair for storytelling and with a few minor adjustments, could become a huge hit.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bullet Work by Steve O'Brien Review

Oh Steve, how I adore you!

You all heard me rave about Elijah's Coin, now I get to rave about Bullet Work.  O'Brien is probably my favorite new author of the year.  His writing sucks you in, regardless of the material.  The characters are heartfelt and true.  Best of all, there's a life moral in each work of art he creates that makes your subconscious sit up and take notice.  Steve produces an entertaining read and uses it to help you change your life for the better.  I can't wait until he publishes more.  Get busy, Steve!

In Bullet Work, we're on the race track circuit.  Our main character is Dan, an owner as well as lawyer.  Someone is attacking horses in the backyard and charging $20 per head (horse head, that is)  for 'protection'.  Those that don't pay the fee, are winding up with injured and dead horses.  When Dan's horse and his friend are attacked, he decides it's time to step up and do something about the problem.

I hate horses.  I'm terrified of them because they have no soul.  Feel free to argue with me!  Everyone does!  I know (knew)  absolutely nothing about horse racing or betting or the tracks or anything of that ilk.  I'm not a cowgirl at heart.  None of that mattered.  I was sucked into the horse racing world and became a part of it, and I didn't even fight it.  I was right there brushing down horses and cheering them on.  Not being a fan of horses didn't change how I feel about this book at all.  I think most horse lovers would be even more drawn to this book than I am.

You all know that I'm especially tough on mystery books.  I hate when I figure out who the culprit is before the characters and if the ride isn't interesting enough, then I don't even care.  As expected, Steve surpassed my expectations.  Dan and I were right in sync.  I figured it out at almost the exact same moment he did and waited right along with him until we had the proof.  The ride was definitely interesting enough.  Even if I hadn't had the mystery to keep me busy, the background kept me enthralled. 

Normally, I don't like to pick out characters and zoom in on them, but I can't help it here.  There's a character named AJ.  He's a sweet boy of about 20 that some of the other guys bully.  AJ is an autistic boy who has focused on horses.  We don't find out until the end more about him, but it doesn't matter.  All of the signs are there throughout the book and you can't help but sympathize with this boy.  I saw so much of my own son in him that it was heart breaking for me.  There were a few points in the book where tears streamed down my face because I just couldn't help it.

I strongly suggest this book for everyone.  Even if it isn't your normal cup of tea, I really think you'll find something valuable in it. 

showmecables.com Review

My dog eats everything!  What he doesn't eat, I lose :)  Recently, I needed a new camera cable and so I started the normal internet browsing to see if I could find the right one for the right price.  I ended up ordering one from showmecables.com.   The price was comparable with other places on the internet and the shipping fees were low.  I didn't have to register as a member or anything.  I simply told them what I wanted and gave them the shipping and payment information.

My cable arrived within three days.  Quick!  It was packaged nicely and in perfectly wonderful condition.  Best of all, it was exactly what I'd ordered!  Some of you internet shoppers know that mistakes do happen!  The icing on the cake for me, though, was a sweet little bag that thanked me for ordering from them with a few pieces of candy in it :)  Way to go showmecables!  Candy is the way to a girl's heart!  Any cables I need from now on will be ordered through them!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Alice in Zombieland by Lewis Carroll and Nickolas Cook

Ah, sweet deviant writing!  From Dusk til Dawn meets Alice in Wonderland!

As Alice falls down the grave hole, we expect to find much the same story as when she fell down the rabbit hole to Wonderland.  What's better, it is the same story!  Of course, the white rabbit has become a black rat.  Instead of a cast of interesting characters, we have a cast of interesting undead characters. 

Most of this read felt like I was reading Alice in Wonderland all over again, with a few twists and turns added.  Those twists and turns, slight though some of them were, definitely made this an entirely different story.  Cook's wording is fabulously matching to that of Carroll, so if you don't know the original Alice inside and out, you may not know where one begins and the other ends.  Even if you do know your Alice, you'll find yourself trying to remember if that was original or newly added. 

I'd like to say this book was full of whimsy, and it some parts it was, but mostly I found myself disturbed.  I love horror and gore and the more the better!  I have no problem imagining  playing croquet with a wriggling undead foot.  There are lines that shouldn't be crossed though and I found a few areas where it was just a little too unsettling for me.  Most of this book was a joy ride for a nightmare lover, but once we get to hacked up baby parts in a stew, I'm ready to exit. 

If you can handle the extreme, this is a great read.  I love it just as much as all the other classics I've read that have been remade into horror.  I can guarantee you that you've never read anything like this, and aren't likely to again. 

Final note:  The end is EXQUISITE!  The entire book I was wondering how a zombie Alice is going to wake up as if it were all a dream...and I was not disappointed!  The ending was better than anything I'd imagined and it was totally worth the stewed baby parts to get to it!  (As long as I keep reminding myself it's not real, anyway!)

The Answer by Allison Wynn

A thought-provoking insight.

I read this book a full 24 hours ago, but I've been thinking about it before writing the review.  My first instinct is to disagree with what the book offers, and upon reflection, I still somewhat disagree, but not wholeheartedly.

This book takes the meeting and friendship of Allison and Eric and uses it to show where anger comes from and how to control it, or better, dissolve it.  I like that it's a short book and that it's segmented into journal entries.  I also like that it shows different sides of the scale of anger, as well as going into great detail about the way that even though we rationally know what's going to happen next, we feel we can't control it.  What I don't like is the premise that anger comes from being made to feel insignificant.  Yes, that definitely is a trigger, but I don't believe it's the only one.  Also, the methods they suggest for dealing with this anger don't work for me.  I'm not saying they wouldn't work for someone else.  Both characters began with severe anger issues that were affecting their lives.  The solution worked for them and their surrounding relationships.

If you're suffering from anger issues, this might well be a book to give a try.  If you're not, there's still a sweet friendship story to be found inside.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Conair Wet*Dry Straightener Review

Put your credit card away and keep shopping.

After my dog ate my straightener this morning (Yes, I said it!), I ran straight to the store to replace it.  Let's face it, a good needs all the beauty help she can get, and I'm addicted to my straightener.  I chose the Conair for one reason alone, the wet/dry.  At first glance, it seems great.  It was on sale for even less than the one that I had previously owned.  I wouldn't need to blow dry before using this one.  It's a cute purple color and has a strange design that is supposed to be more comfortable for your hands.  It's ceramic with cool touch tip.  It has 30 second heat up and 25 heat settings as well as a turbo button and automatic shut off.  Sounds awesome, right?  Wrong!  Here's what I actually found!

I started with freshly clean, towel-dried hair.  The straightener heated up quickly like it said.  No complaints so far.  After 45 minutes, I had hand cramps (comfortable, my butt!) and wet hair that was no straighter than when I started.  Once I dried it and tried again, I did end up getting straight results.  The hand cramps and fact that the wet/dry option takes forever to work (I'm pretty sure if I'd have kept at it a few hours it would have dried), make this a poor option for me and I'm going to be replacing it as soon as possible.

The bonuses to this straightener:  It's a cool color.  It's inexpensive.  It does work well on dry hair (if you can get past the hand cramps).  Best of all, when you're attempting to straighten damp hair, you get this really cool 'ssssssssssssh' sound like sizzling hamburger :D  That alone make this worth a try for me. 

How Dare You Say How Dare Me! Pat Cooper

Hysterical autobiography with amazing photographs!

This is the story of comedian Pat Cooper's life.  It's my understanding that he told the story, and then Rich Herschlag wrote the book and Steve Garrin was in charge of the photography.  If I'm wrong, hopefully one of them will post and let us know. 

I have to admit, if you'd have asked me who Pat Cooper was two days ago, I would have responded with a shrug.  Then again, the only comedians I can name off the top of my head are the two that I know personally.  Most people will remember Pat from Howard Stern or as the friar in the Friars Club episode of Seinfeld.  He's so much more than that, though!  I found myself captivated by his life, as well as the storytelling.  It felt like I was sitting in a big, cozy room with a fireplace, on a plush rug, looking up at a dear friend as he told me a story. 

If Pat's fascinating life isn't enough to make you pick up this book, you'll also be entertained by stories of Jerry Lewis, Tony Martin, Frank Sinatra and Lisa Lampanelli to name a few. 

The most interesting part of this book for me had to do with a theater scene.  Recently, I reviewed Palm Trees on the Hudson.  In both books, they described going to the movies.  Though both loved the movies, what really struck me was that the movie theaters used to give out dishes.  There were about 250 pieces in the set and each time you went to the movies, you got one.  Evidently both mothers, from both stars of both books, were collecting them!  Yes, it's a trivial little thing, but I found it fascinating that something I'd never heard of occurred in two books back to back!

The Thirteenth Gift by Charlene Costanzo

Sweet fable with important message.

What is the attraction of stones?  Simple stones.  The thype we come across on hiking trails, country roads, beaches, and city sidewalks.  What instict urges us to stopp for them?  Hold them in pockets?  Save them in jars?


A little-known fable offers an explanation.  According to this story, even the appeal of gem stones is rooted in something deeper than dazzle...something we are all trying to remember.  (taken from the back of the book)

I loved so much about this book.  First, it's a quick, quick read.  You can read the book in under an hour, even if you're a slow reader.  The fable is medieval, although it's set in today's current times.  Best of all, for me, the book holds an important message about seeing the 'good' in others. 

Charlene is also the author of The Twelve Gifts of Birth, The Twelve Gifts for Healing, The Twelve Gifts in Marriage, and A Perfect Name.  Be prepared if you meet her!  She'll reach in her purse and hand you a stone, a reminder of the twelve gifts for you to keep.  Charlene travels all over the country to schools, shelters, prisons, anywhere she can think of to spread her message.  Charlene, I'd love to meet you and count the stones in your purse! 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Palm Trees on the Hudson by Elliot Tiber

A witty, fascinating memoir.

Elliot grew up the only son in an interesting Jewish family.  Fighting to find his own way, he left for college in the hopes of getting into the design business.  No matter what he did though, he couldn't get his mother's approval.  Add to that the fact that Elliot grew up a homosexual in the 50's and 60's and the fact that he was pretty naive when it came to others.  This book takes us through Elliot's life until the late 60's, at which point he continues in Taking Woodstock.

I know this sounds terrible, but I love gay writers.  Yes, that's totally prejudiced, but in general they seem to have such an open and honest sense of humor.  I'm not saying straight people don't.  *sigh*  My political incorrectness will be my downfall.  Anyway, Elliot has a sparkling wit and snarky sense of humor.  He uses these constantly to paint a comical look at his life...most of the time.  It's not all comedy.  Even when things are at what seems to be the worst, Elliot has a way of 'keeping it real' and giving us the best imaginable picture.  Normally, with memoirs, I find them interesting, sometimes humorous.  With this one, I really want to meet Elliot's family.  It's almost like a tiny piece of interesting history.  I want to see the bungalows they invested in and see a picture of his penny-pinching mother.  Hmm....Hey, Elliot?  Can you e-mail me a picture of your parents???  Pleeeeeeeeease?!  I won't post them unless you say it's ok!

For memoir lovers, this is a must.  The best scene in the book (for me, Miss Wizard of Oz), was a tete a tete Elliot and Judy Garland participated in.  I was mesmerized by the scene!  For those who aren't into the whole 'factual story' thing, don't worry.  Most of this book is so outlandish (No offense, Elliot!)  that you'll forget you're reading a true story and just have fun with it.  Full of humor and depth, this is a great quick read for anyone.

Elijah's Coin Winner

Due to some pretty severe changes in my life right now, I'm a little late in announcing the winner.  My  most sincere apologies to those who have been waiting :)

And the winner is.....................littlelatina who runs I Am A Reader, Not A Writer.  If you get a chance, go check out her blog.  She has some great reviews as well as giveaways and hops!  Congrats!

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Case for Falling in Love by Mari Ruti, PhD

First, let me say that I'm a cynic, no longer a romantic.  This is important because I'll probably view this book differently than someone who believes in, and is searching for, love.

This book is separated into two sections.  The first section is mostly an attack on other self-help books out there.  Using several pop culture media references, Ruti draws out her reasons, as well as her own research, as to why these other self-help love gurus are antiquated and wrong.

The second half of the book is more geared towards understanding why we love, how we love, and how to make love successful.  Complete with more references, this part makes a little more sense to me as a book.  There's a bit of actual helpful information for those seeking it rather than just tearing apart someone else's work.

Over all, the book is nicely put together, entertaining and easy to read.  Personally, I found the first half of the book interesting, but useless on the whole.  The second half contains quite a bit of good material on figuring out who you are and what you're looking for.  Regardless of whether you're looking for love, there are some really good tidbits about dealing with other people and relationships in general.

I'm There for You, Baby by Neil Senturia - Review

The most entertaining 'nonfiction' I've ever read!

I picked up this book expecting to find a dry, step-by-step as to how to become a successful entrepreneur.  That's not what I found at all.  Senturia shares his mistakes and successes in a vivid, hilarious way, allowing the reader to learn from his mistakes.  I kid you not, I snorted tea out of my nose 3 times before I even hit page 27.  Although the entire book isn't laugh out loud funny, most of it is.  Senturia's style kept me reading what would otherwise be a boring account of business ventures. 

In all fairness, if you know nothing about lending institutions or real estate, you may find parts of it a little boring.  Though Senturia's snarky attitude goes a long way towards brightening everything, there are some things that you just can't make entertaining if the reader isn't into it.

If you're thinking of becoming an entrepreneur, this book holds several valuable rules that you might find helpful.  If you just want a book that will make you laugh until your nose bleeds, this is it.  I look forward to seeing what Senturia has planned for Volume 2.

Note:  This book is schedule to be released April 1st, 2011.

Shift by Takumi Yamazaki - Review

Excellent self-help book!

This book isn't just about finding your motivation.  It's about learning who you are and teaching you how to be who you want to be.  Motivation will take care of itself from that point.

I love that abstract ideas are presented in concrete manners.  Yamazaki uses everything from bowling to being in love to create lasting metaphors for the truths he's trying to pass on.  Everything is simply stated, but this is no simple book.  Each message forces you to take a good, hard look at yourself.  While reading, there are 13 exercises presented for you to accomplish either by yourself or with a partner or group.  I won't lie to you, some of these were quite difficult for me.  Alright, most of them were quite difficult.  Being honest with yourself is never an easy task, especially when it concerns who you are. 

I don't feel like I walked away a different person from this book, but I do feel like I walked away crisper and clearer.  It's almost like I can visualize life an in easier, more palatable manner.  I'm not a fan of negativity to begin with, but this book helped me look at some of my mannerisms and how they affect my life in a different light than I had before.  It's like the day you get new contacts and you notice leaves on the trees.  This wasn't another step in my quest for the meaning of life, but it created an entire new staircase for my quest in the meaning of me. 

Divide & Conquer by R.L. Geerdes - Review & Giveaway

One of the best fantasies I've read!

This is the third book in the Mistress of Beasts saga as well as the first book that I've read (in the series, not of all time).  Honestly, I'd never even heard of these books before and I can't figure out why!  Unlike most fantasies, this one isn't dry and filmy.  It's action-packed and full of adventure!  I can't get enough!  I laughed.  I cried.  I clapped my hands with glee.  I mourned the end of the book. 

So what's it about?  Well...there's just too much to sum it up in a small paragraph!  Even the back of the book doesn't do it justice.  We have this group of people....sort of people...they're the good guys.  We have an evil sorcerer and a few other guys with him who might be the bad guys...but we don't really know who the bad guy is until the end.  We have bad guys being good guys.  Anyway, so the bad guys have decided to divide & conquer all the good guys in order to take over the 'world'.  Will all the good guys survive?!  OK, seriously this doesn't do the book justice.  Magic, mayhem, romance...it's all here.  Best of all, one of the main characters is a GRIFFIN!!!  YES!!!  There are not enough griffins in books! 

This was a quick, engrossing read that I strongly suggest to all my friends.  I couldn't put it down and I was so sorry to see it end.  I've already put the first two books, Wizard's Secret and Chasing Demons, on my wish list.  Geerdes is definitely a new favorite author and I'm so thankful she was brought to my attention!

Want your own copy to check out?  I'm giving away my review copy!  Why?  Because I want the full set!  How do you win?  Be a follower on Google, Networked Blogs and/or Twitter and leave me a comment letting me know where you follow.  The other option is to leave me a comment telling me you want to win.  You'll get one entry for each comment left.  I'll announce the winner on March 25th!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Quicksilver by Joy Spraycar - Review

You've read Charlaine Harris.  You've read Terry Spear.  You know your werewolves, right?  Maaaaaaaaybe!

Quicksilver definitely has it's ups and downs.  Through most of the book I was riveted and applauding.  However, about halfway through the book, the crux of adventure had come and gone and the second half was spent taking care of the loose ends.  The premise of the book is that Quinton is a werewolf who's been given a second chance with his true love, Serenity.  He wants nothing more than to end his were curse so that he can live happily with her.  The problem is that the first plan of action fails, even though it's the more exciting one, so we find ourselves in this grand adventure and having a wonderful time, gripping to the edge of our seats to find what will happen next.  Then we plummet over a cliff and feel like the book has ended, only to find that we still have several chapters left.  It felt sort of like the story was too short and so Joy felt like she had to keep adding.  Honestly, if you read the book and stop at the point I'm talking about, you'll walk away with a satisfying read.  If you continue on, you feel a little cheated.  Joy does a great job of attempting to pull a mystery from the first half and bring it to fruition, but it really falls short of the initial energy the book has.

One of my favorite parts of Joy's writing is that she isn't afraid to put in a little gore.  Instead of sugar coating, she gives you some graphic stimulation.  Honestly, I could do without the sex scenes, but I'm sure you guys expect that from me by now.  My biggest issue is that I never got to find out if the guy in the forest ever got his hacksaw back.  Hopefully, that won't be an issue for you other readers.

Werewolf lovers will love the way that Joy has portrayed them here.  Familiars and witchcraft with a little genetics tossed in make this a unique read.  If you happen to be suffering from lycanthropy, I definitely expect you to pick up this book since the cure is published within!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Party for Two by Bruce Cadle - Review

This ain't your mama's recipe book!

This book was established with one main purpose in mind.  Bruce and his wife want to help other couples see how important a weekly date night is.  No, there's no preaching, but they do combat every argument you can come up with.  'We can't afford it!  We can't get a babysitter!'  The only problem not solved in this book is how to have a date night when one party is unwilling, but they do give enough good reasons that you might be able to persuade them.  Bruce and his wife have been happily married for over 35 years and both attribute a large portion of that to date night.  They get the chance to fall in love all over again.

The recipes in this book are tasty!  All of them are set up so that they take minimal kitchen time for your date night.  It's organized into different courses to make meal prep easier.  Simply go through and choose one item from each category for a tasty, romantic dinner.  Personally, I'm down for some Grilled Pina Colada! 

I think couples could really get a lot of great ideas from this book.  Not part of a couple?  That doesn't mean you can't try some of the great recipes :)  My only complaint with this book is that I would have liked to see the food photos in color.  They still look delicious and they're presented well, but I really think color would have made them mouth-watering and the book a bit more entertaining to read.

I am the Chosen King by Helen Hollick - Review

England, 1044, Harold Godwinesson, a young, respected Earl, falls in love with an ordinary but beautiful woman.  He marries Edyth despite her lack of pedigree, pitting him against his turbulent family and his selfish King, Edward.


In France, William, the bastard son of a duke, falls in love with power.  Brutal and dangerously smart, william sets his sights on England, finding ambition a difficult lust to conquer.


With Edward old and dying, England falls vulnerable to the winds of fate - and the stubborn will of these two powerful men.


In this beautifully crafted tale, Helen Hollick sets aside the propaganda of the Norman Conquest and brings to life the English version of the story of the last Saxon King, revealing his tender love, determination, and proud loyalty, all shattered by the unforgiving needs of a Kingdom.  Forced to give up his wife and risk his life for england, the chosen King led his army into the great Battle of Hastings in October 1066 with all the honor and dignity that history remembers of its fallen heroes. (Taken from the back of the book)

First, this is not a light read.  I'm a quick reader and it still took me several days.  Believe me, it's worth it!  This book is absolutely epic.  This isn't just a book.  It's a reading experience.

The characters I found fascinating.  Every one is imbued with realistic faults and flaws.  Though we find ourselves despising them one moment, the next we find ourselves realizing where their thought process is coming from.  Sometimes this even brings us to the point of empathizing with the 'villain'.  It seems as though Hollick took years to perfect each character and then bring them together in one story.  You really know and care about the characters. 

Normally I'm not excited by politics.  I'm even less excited by history.  Those are character flaws, I'm aware, but I am what I am.  That being the case, I was expecting to find myself bombarded with several historical and political passages in the book that I would have to muddle through.  To my great delight, this never happened!  I think I might have even accidentally learned something! 

What I really enjoyed about this book is that it was able to be historically accurate, without having to result to child porn, as another book so recently did.  Everything was tastefully portrayed and I appreciate it. 

This is a definite must-read for serious readers.  It's definitely not a beach read, but it's really worth the time invested.  You'll find yourself sucked into a world from the past where everything is different, yet nothing is.

The Daughter's Walk by Jane Kirkpatrick - Giveaway

Vera at Luxury Reading is currently giving away 3 copies of The Daughter's Walk until March 24th.  Hop over and enter!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Pondering Grapefruit Spoons

About a month ago, I was talking to someone and they mentioned grapefruit spoons.  I know what you're thinking.  Why was she having a conversation where grapefruit spoons were mentioned?  Well, welcome to my life!  Isn't it grand?!  Stick to the point!  They were mentioned!  Anyway, I started thinking about grapefruit spoons and realized I've never owned any.  That was a problem that must be remedied!  I stuck my happy butt in my computer chair and started with the online browsing.  I ended up ordering some really adorable ones that were all yellow with little pictures of grapefruits on them.  Once they arrived, I was all excited to try them until I remembered that I'm not really a huge fan of grapefruit.  Don't get me wrong, it's ok, but not something I wanna eat every day.  So...what to do with the spoons???

They're awesome for digging in dirt!  They have these great little serrated edges that slice right through tougher sections and they're strong enough that if you come up across a nasty rock, you can use some leverage and flick those suckers right across the yard!

They're great for jello fights!  It works just like a normal spoon for flicking, but the awesome triangular design allows your jello to fly further!

They're darn cute :)

They're great for flicking kids in the head :)  They work like a normal spoon except they look a lot scarier!

They make really cool tracks in play dough :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

World from Rough Stones by Malcolm McDonald - FREE e-book

For a limited time, Sourcebooks is offering a FREE e-book copy of World from Rough Stones.  I haven't read any of McDonald's work, so I can't tell you how it is.  This is the first novel in the Stevenson Family Saga.  Give it a shot!

Darcy's Voyage by Kara Louse - FREE e-book

For a limited time, Sourcebooks is giving away Darcy's Voyage for free in e-book format! 

'In this retelling of Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth sets out for the new world aboard the ship Pemberley’s Promise. She’s prepared for an uneventful voyage until a chance encounter with the handsome, taciturn Mr. Darcy turns her world upside down.' (Taken from Sourcebooks site)

Kara is the author of Only Mr. Darcy Will Do, which I just recently reviewed.  Definitely worth checking out!

The Liberation of Alice Love by Abby McDonald - Review

An alright read, but not amazing.  I'd wait until it's on sale somewhere.

Ah, poor Alice!  She's worked so hard and been so responsible, only to become a victim of identity theft, leaving her stranded with nearly 100 grand in debt.  The betrayed feeling is doubled once she finds out who the culprit is.  Is this necessarily a bad thing, though?

The back of this book billed it as 'refreshing, fun, and sexy...a perfect beach read.'  I don't know about the refreshing or sexy, but it would be a fun read for the beach, unless there happen to be a lot of hot guys walking around.  In that case, I'm sure I could think of something better to do.  Seriously, I don't have any problems with the book other than that it's mediocre.  I didn't hate it enough to say anything bad and I didn't like it well enough to say anything good.  Let's see what I can come up with though, shall we?

Good:  There was one character that I actually cared about.  Of course, she was one of the villains, but I actually found myself having a strong reaction to her.  It's a brilliant character study. 

Bad:  There really isn't anything bad.  It's just mediocre.  It's readable, sure, but not something that I read and went 'Wow!  I'm glad I read that!'  It's not boring.  It's also not exciting. 

I have to apologize.  This has to be one of the worst reviews I've written.  It's nearly impossible to take several hundred words to write, 'This book was blah.'  Honestly, if you have nothing else to read, this will pass the time.  However, if you have something you know you want to read, definitely grab that first.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

To Defy a King by Elizabeth Chadwick - Review

I would rather be repeatedly bashed in the head with a moldy 2x4 than read this book again.

The adored and spirited daughter of England's greatest knight, Mahelt Marshal lives a privileged life.  But when her beloved father falls foul of the volatile and dangerous King John, her world is shattered.  The king takes her brothers hostage and Mahelt's planned marriage to Hugh Bigod, son of the Earl of Norfolk, takes place sooner than she expected.  Mahelt and Hugh come to care for each other deeply, but Hugh's strict father clashes with the rebellious Mahelt.  When more harsh demands from King John threaten to tear the couple's lives apart, Mahelt finds herself facing her worst fears alone, not know if she - or her marriage- will survive. (taken from the back of the book )

Sounds pretty exciting, doesn't it?  I thought so too until I started to read.  In fact, I had planned to put in this review in the morning, but I just can't sleep with this book rattling around in my head.  I have a few things that I need to get off my chest.

First, this book is boring.  I'm sorry, but it is.  It may be historically accurate, but I can write a historically accurate depiction of me stepping in grape jelly this morning.  That doesn't mean it's going to be interesting.  There's a huge difference between carrying the reader with you to watch a beloved character being viciously kidnapped by an unjust king and a girl getting a letter that says 'Oh!  By the way, the King took your brother!'  Please!  What a cop out!  And this is a huge book!  All those wasted words just make me angry! 

Secondly, I don't care how historically accurate it is, I do not, DO NOT, care to read explicit sex scenes starring a 14 year old CHILD!  I do not care that it was acceptable back then, it is not acceptable now and I for one want no part of it.  I will admit that there are times when a sex scene can be necessary, sometimes enjoyable.  In this book, it's simply there to show the progression of their relationship.  It's portrayed as a loving scene and invites the reader to simply forget that this is a child bride and think of her as a fully grown woman, especially when shortly thereafter she becomes pregnant.  Again, I realize this may be historically accurate, but it definitely could have been told without being told in the manner it was.  I do NOT want to be told exactly where and how this child was being touched!

I was expecting an adventurous, romantic read and I ended up disappointed and angry.  For once, I can't even cite flawed editing as my point of anger.  I can tell you this:  I'll never read another Elizabeth Chadwick book.  And now, having purged my views on this book, I'm off to slumber :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Elijah's Coin by Steve O'Brien - Giveaway!

Thanks to the Cadence Group for sponsoring this giveaway. 

Elijah's Coin is one of the best books I've read in the past year.  Though originally intentioned for young adults, I believe it holds an important message for everyone; the meaning of life. 

Now, I get to give one of you a free, brand-spanking-new copy!  It's sitting right here on my desk as we speak!  So, how do you win?  It's simple!  Just leave a comment.  You can tell me why you want to win.  You can tell me your favorite color.  You can just say 'Boo!' if you'd like!  Please make sure you leave a way for me to contact you if you win, though.  Good luck!  I know this is a book that you'll treasure!

I will randomly draw the winner on March 12th.

Only Mr. Darcy Will Do by Kara Louise - Review

A nice twist added to this Austen fiction.

Poor Mr. Bennett has passed, leaving Elizabeth and the rest of the family with no home and no prospects.  Elizabeth is forced to take a position as a governess.  While watching a budding romance unfold between Mr. Darcy and a relative of the family she works for, she begins to see the man that she turned down in a new light.  Now it's too late to even change her mind though.  Her position is even lower than it was.  Just as she realizes her heart's desire, she realizes it's too late to ever obtain it.

At this stage in the game, there are two major items that I judge Austen fiction on.  First, is it readable and enjoyable or is it dry and a nightmare to read through?  What has the author done to make this book stand out among the rest?  We all know and love the characters and the settings.  That doesn't normally change.  Basically, it comes down to flow and creativity for me.  With this book, Kara did extremely well.  I can't say it's the best Austen fiction I've read, but it's right near the top of the list.

Once I began reading last night, I wasn't able to put it down.  Kara kept me guessing at how everything would unfold.  We have all the major beloved characters, but some of the more annoying and gruesome ones have been replaced with new ones.  These new characters are created in such a way that you love to hate them.  I'm not a revenge person, but I kept praying for a horrible accident to take care of these nasty creatures. 

As for creativity, this is the first book I've read where Mr. Bennett dies.  I'm not saying it's the only one out there, but it's the only one I've read.  I can clearly see Kara sitting at the dinner table one night and her mind saying 'But...what if Mr. Bennett dies?  That changes everything....'  and her rushing from the table to start putting everything on paper.  With one simple creative change, Kara has produced a new story from a tale retold repeatedly.

Austen fiction fans will love this.  If you've not read any Austen fiction, this is a good place to begin.  You don't have to know the characters to love them and delve right into the story.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March Book Of the Month

J.R. Ward fans are celebrating!  This month marks the next Black Dagger Brotherhood installment!  I'll admit it, I'm a naughty girl and haven't even finished Crave yet, but I've already pre-ordered my copy of Lover Unleashed.

Payne, twin sister of Vishous, is cut from the same dark, seductive cloth as her brother. Imprisoned for eons by their mother, the Scribe Virgin, she finally frees herself-only to face a devastating injury. Manuel Manello, M.D., is drafted by the Brotherhood to save her as only he can-but when the human surgeon and the vampire warrior meet, their two worlds collide in the face of their undeniable passion. With so much working against them, can love prove stronger than the birthright and the biology that separates them? (Taken from Amazon)

I'm a huge J.R. Ward fan, and that's why Lover Unleashed is March's book of the month. 

It Happened One Bite by Lydia Dare - Review

Highlander vampyres that will make you tingle!

The witches!  The vampyres!  The lycans!  With a magnificent writing team that tosses these back into the Scottish Highlands, this book is a winner.

Anyone who's read any of my reviews knows how I feel about sex scenes.  Usually they're tossed in and annoy me rather than entice me.  I'm a typical romantic girl.  What good is a sex scene if I'm not feeling the romance?  This book is a perfect example of where sex scene excel.  Before everybody's getting nekked, we're filled with that hunger and passion that make your skin vibrate and your senses heighten.  Few books have held me captive as a romance, but this one definitely succeeded. 

My goodness!  I completely forgot to tell you what the story is about!  Basically, James is a vampyre that's been trapped by a coven of witches because one of the witches believes that in the future he'll harm her daughter (who's unborn at the time of entrapment).  So, they put him in a sleep stasis and leave him in the middle of nowhere, locked in a castle.  Twenty years later, he awakens.  On the other side of the story we have Blaire, who's a warrior witch.  Her brother just inherited the castle, supposedly haunted, and she hears this strange 'ghost' talking at her from the basement (ok probably a dungeon).  After setting him free, she has to find out what the story is because, like most of us women, she's darn nosy.

There's a great abundance of emotion, excitement and the paranormal.  Although I haven't read the previous books in this series, they're now on my wishlist.  Dare fans will love the switch from lycans to vampyres while those who haven't tried out Dare will feast on this book.  This is a must read for paranormal romance lovers.

Lydia Dare is the writing name for Tammy Falkner and Jodie Pearson.  It was fascinating to me how they work.  Every 1500 words they swap the manuscript, editing and adding as they go.  In my opinion, it works great for them! 

March Gift Card Winner

It's March!  This hopefully means Spring is on it's way!  It was 80 here yesterday and I definitely enjoyed the nicer weather.  It's time to get out of that wintery blah feeling and move on to the blooming rain.  What does this have to do with this month's gift card winner?  Nothing!  I just like to talk!  On with the real post.....

Every month I fill out little pieces of paper with names of those who follow this blog on Google, Networked Blogs and Twitter.  Every month I add those pieces of paper to a little bin that holds all the pieces of paper from previous months in there.  I've been doing this for a few months now, so some of you have quite a few entries into the drawing.  You get one entry for each place you follow me, and every month I add to that.  This month, lovely March, the winner for the $5 Amazon card is Daena!  I'll be contacting her shortly to let her know she's won.  Congrats, honey!!!

If you didn't win this month, you're still entered in for every future drawing.  Good luck!

To Defy a King by Elizabeth Chadwick - Sale!

Sourcebooks has announced that until Monday, March 7th, To Defy a King will be available on e-book for just $2.99!  Check out Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Books-A-Million or BooksOnBoard to order your copy!

Not an e-book fan?  To Defy a King has just been released in paperback today!

Sins of the House of Borgia by Sarah Bower - Sale!

Sourcebooks has announced that until Monday, March 7th, you can order Sins of the House of Borgia in e-book format for only $2.99!  This offer is good through Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Books-A-Million and BooksOnBoard.  Get your copy while it's on sale!

Not an e-book fan?  Sins of the House of Borgia has just been released today in paperback!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Taste Me by Tamara Hogan

Too erotic for me, but still a fun read.

He wants her so badly he can taste it- Ever since their tempestuous fling years ago, incubus Lukas Sebastiani has known that siren Scarlett Fontaine was meant to be his.  But when you're a sex demon with an insatiable desire, relationships are way more than complicated.

Her siren song brings men to their knees- Rock star Scarlett Fontaine is in desperate need of a break after a grueling tour.  But with murder and mayhem surrounding her band, and the one man she never thought to see again put to the task of protecting her, life is going to be anything but peaceful.

With danger everywhere, and their feelings for each other in turmoil, Scarlett and Lukas may be destroyed by deceit and mistrust if they don't find their way back into each other's arms.

That explains the main part of the book in a nutshell.  Honestly, I didn't care at all about Lukas and Scarlett's relationship, or lack of.  As characters, they're interesting and likable.  For their part of the story, I felt like I was reading an erotic Harlequin though.  There really isn't a strong enough reason for them to have not been together in the first place.  To me, they were both being idiots, placing them in their own predicament in the first place.

What grabbed me and kept me in this book was the back story.  Someone is attacking high council members.  We know who's doing it, but the characters in the book don't.  It's fun to watch them trying to catch up with the information we've been given from the beginning.

This is a great, quick read for those of you who love the sex scenes.  For those of you who don't, if you can overlook it, it's an inviting mystery where you get to be the passenger and take in the story.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Legacy by Jeanette Baker - Review

A great mystery that transcends generations.

Christina Murray is elated to find that she's inherited a manor in Scotland.  What she doesn't realize is that she's about to go on a journey that spans hundreds of years, a journey that inevitably leads back to the heritage that Christina doesn't even know she has.

I have to admit, I was severely disappointed in the beginning of this book.  I just meet the character and I'm immediately tossed into a flashback!  No thank you!  Then as soon as I come back from that flashback I find that I'm about to have a whole lot more and they're not all to the same place and time.  Forget that!  That's too many characters and generations to keep up with!  I don't even care about the main character yet!  Work with me here, Ms. Author!!!  That being said, I apologize for not having enough faith in your writing abilities.  I was wrong, you were right.  I still wanted to throw your book back at you in the beginning, but I concede that I was wrong.

At first the flashbacks really bothered me, because, as I said, I wasn't even invested in the main character yet.  I did find that after a few chapters I really enjoyed the ride back and forth between time.  It was kind of like being in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and never knowing which part of history I was going to be in next.  I began to care not only about the main character, but about all of the others as well.  I do have to admit that all the history and war bored me.  The romance, the passion, the fire, the mystery....that's what kept me turning pages. 

Merely Magic by Patricia Rice - Review

A definite must-read for fans of the movie Practical Magic.

Ninian is a healer, but she's a Malcolm first and foremost, and Malcolms have always had a bit of magic - unpredictable though it is - to aid them on their pursuits.  She knows she must accept what she is or perish, but then Lord Drogo Ives arrives, bringing the deepest, most powerful magic she's ever experienced and turning Ninian's world upside down.


Drogo Ives has no time for foolish musings or legneds, even if he can't seem tor esist the local witch.  Thrown together by a series of disastrous events, Ninian won't give herself fully to Drogo until she can make him trust and believe in her, and that's the last thing he'll ever do.


As the danger and chaos surrounding them escalates, Drogo and Ninian will be forced to decide:  their love or their lives.  (Taken from the back of the book)

Ah such a fun book!  I think what I enjoyed the most is that Patricia made full use of her writing talents.  She's a good storyteller, but she didn't go for one specific angle.  The book is romantic without being too erotic.  It's paranormal while keeping it realistic.  The characters are inventive but not too far-fetched to be believed.  The mystery isn't anything outlandish.  It's just enough to keep you interested.  Basically, she took the best of romance, mystery, comedy and drama and mixed them all together in one magical tale.

I was expecting the fact that Ninian is a witch to be a focal point of the story, and it is, but not in the manner I expected.  She admits that she's a failure as a witch.  She doesn't have the powers she feels she should, but she's willing to work with what she has.  We see people approach her from different angles as well.  Some fear her differences while others go to her for help.  As a leading character, I loved her!  She's bright and spunky and sticks to her guns.  The other characters are well-built and interesting, but Ninian makes the story.

For me, this book was like reading a previous generation version of Practical Magic.  It's a completely different story, but it has that slight magical feel to it.  It's that feeling that if you believe enough, you can bring a little magic into your own life as well.  Of course, there are some definite concrete similarities, but I think you should draw those yourself. 

CSN Gift Card Winner

First, I want to thank everyone for entering.  I'm overjoyed at the overwhelming response!  I just might have to do more giveaways!  The winner of the $20 CSN gift card is Mistee!  Mistee runs her I Heart Giveaways.  Her site is just as cute as can be and is updated with links to new giveaways often.  Check her out!  In the meantime, congrats, Mistee!  I hope you have fun shopping :)

Now for all of you who didn't win, I sure hope you signed up to become a follower of my site.  It's only a few short days before I do my next Amazon gift card drawing!  You don't have to do anything to enter, just be a follower on Google, Networked Blogs, or follow me on Twitter!  Admittedly my Twitter isn't updated as often as it should be, but you'll still get an entry for each place that you follow me.  Happy Friday, all!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Giveaway CSN Stores

I love doing giveaways, but as you all know, they don't happen that often on my blog.  I'm approached with offers, but sometimes I don't feel the product is right or I'm not impressed with the company.  I'm not going to tell you to go somewhere and buy something if I, myself, wouldn't do it.  When I was approached by CSN stores recently and asked if I'd be willing to do a giveaway, I went into research mode.  Is this a reputable company?  Do they overcharge for items?  Is shipping outrageous?

What I found is that they are a reputable company.  They take several reputable shopping sites and link them all together on their website.  The site is easy to navigate and you can shop for nearly anything from swing sets to  home furnishings and furniture and toys.  Some of the prices range in an area I'm usually not willing to pay, but most of the prices are reasonable and free shipping on most of the items was a definite bonus for me.  If I'm buying grapefruit spoons for $4 but it costs me $11 to have them shipped to me, I'm not so happy with that purchase.  Maybe I'm a cheapskate, but I believe in getting value for my money and that's what I found with CSN stores.

So here's the deal.  CSN stores is offering me the choice between doing a review and getting a $20 gift certificate, or letting one of you have a $20 gift certificate.  Although I found several items I'd like, I'd much rather pass this gift certificate on to one lucky winner.  This gift certificate is good towards ANY product in ANY store!  Yes, that includes clearance and sale prices!  I'm a clearance shopper and I had a blast looking through.  Now, if you're skeptical like me, you're probably thinking that this is a ploy to get you to spend your hard-earned money at their stores and that a $20 gift certificate won't cover anything but a pencil.  WRONG!  I found tons of wonderful items under $20.

So, how do you win?  It's easy!  First, leave a comment.  It's that simple.  If you'd like a second chance to win, go shopping!  Check out CSN stores and tell me what you might spend your $20 gift certificate on if you win!  Pretty easy, right?  I'll announce the winner on Friday, February 25.

Good luck and happy shopping!

Snow Day by Pamela Greenhalgh Hamilton

Disappointed with the description, but enjoyed the story and illustrations anyway.

It's snowing!  No school today!  It snowed all night and now every kid's winter wish has come true.  School has been cancelled for the day.  It's a snow day!


At first it was fun.  Tessa, Jake, and Molly got to wear their winter coats over their PJs so Mom could drive them to Grandma and Grandpa's.  Then Grandma made them oatmeal and muffins for breakfast.


But now what?  Grandma and Grandpa don't have a computer or video games.  And it's snowing harder than ever.  Suddenly the exciting day is becoming the longest day in their lives.


Never fear, Grandpa is here.  He's full of ideas to fill up the day and rounds it out with a secret surprise.  By the time the last snowflake has fallen, Tessa, Jake, and Molly have a Snow Day they won't ever forget.

Let's start off by rewriting that description:  It's a snow day!  The kids are spending it with their grandparents and have a wonderful time.

There's no mention in the book of breakfast or pajamas or no video games.  When I requested the book, it was because I really wanted to see how the grandparents rerouted the kids' attention to get them to play outside versus playing video games or watching television.  The moral that you can still have fun without technology is there, but it's not as strong as it would have been if we had seen the redirection.  Instead, we start out with the kids arriving at Grandma and Grandpa's and they immediately want to go outside to play.  Of course, this is just my opinion, but I really feel like the description could have been better written to convey what's actually on the inside of the book. 

The story itself was cute.  The children have a wonderful day hanging out with their grandparents.  After the outdoors fun, Grandma and Grandpa have some great ideas for how to have fun inside as well.  This would be a great story to read to a child that is going to be spending some time with the grandparents and is concerned that they'll be bored.  The only problem I see with that idea is that this book is geared towards younger children, probably first grade down, and usually at that age they're still excited to see their grandparents. 

The illustrations are bright and colorful and fitting to the story.  You can see everyone enjoying themselves and there are plenty of details for children to pick out. 

I don't mean to sound as if I'm giving this book a negative review.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and found it adorable.  Personally, I feel like the book could have served a better purpose if it were actually what it depicts it is.  It's great that the children had a good day and it was a fun story.  I just wanted a little more focus on the fact that they were actually spending time with their grandparents and having fun away from technology.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Miracle of Music by Romel Joseph

Fascinating first person account of Romel Joseph's life.  All proceeds from book sales are donated to build the Haiti Performing Arts Center.

Romel Joseph is known for being a violin virtuoso.  An eye infection at birth left him legally blind, yet he pulled his way through life after finding his love of music at an early age.  We follow Joseph's life from birth to present day, with the crescendo being on his burial and survival during the earthquake in Haiti just last year.

I've never heard of Romel Joseph.  I suppose that makes me uneducated and uncultured, but I could tell you anything about him now.  His writing is smart and witty.  His character shows through the words on the pages.  I found myself captivated with his life.  There are ups and downs, both severe, but he pulls through with the same stoicism. 

Along the way, I learned more about Haiti than I ever dreamed possible to know.  I'll be honest, I drowned a bit of the politics out in my mind as I read them.  Politics just aren't my thing.  Joseph did a great job of making the politics interesting though by infusing all the juicy scandal that goes along with it.

Of course, I strongly suggest everyone buy this book simply because the proceeds go to a good cause.  Rebuilding Haiti is a long, drawn out process and I believe music is important.  Those who enjoy autobiographies or memoirs will find this an enjoyable read.  For me, the most interesting part were the photos included.  They're absolutely devastating and mind-boggling.

Richer by Jean Blasiar

Fun story about a teenager with an unusual life.

This book is the sequel to Poor Rich.  Richard Cameron is a nerdy, asthmatic, genius recluse.  One day his allergies seem to ease up and with the help of his parrot, U2, he emerges into a new world.  In this sequel, we continue with Rich's life and find lots of ups and downs.  Fitting in is hard for a nerdy kid, especially when girls come into the picture.  Toss in a re-emergence of health problems and poor Rich is in for a ride.

Reading the back cover of the book, I was expecting more trouble from Rich's ex-au pair.  I'm grateful she wasn't in it much though.  I was happy with following Rich through his day to day life and watching him grow up just a little bit more.   It didn't really feel like there was a point to the whole story, other than just having a good time with Rich.  He's a charismatic, bright kid with a great future.  His life may not be the norm, but it works for him.

I have to admit, this book was a nice break for me.  It was engrossing, engaging, and easy to read.  For me, it was a nice break from 'thought' books.  I'm not saying it was all frivolous, but there wasn't anything in this book that required me to re-examine my own life and adjust accordingly.  I was able to sit back and just enjoy the read.

This is a great teen read.  It's simplistic enough for those with difficulty reading, but thoughtful enough for those who read often.  Some of the happenings are a bit far-fetched, which make it that much  more fun for those with creative minds.  As an adult, I still enjoyed it so don't let the teen thing keep you from reading it :)

Edited!!!  I only found one mistake and it didn't bother me at all!  Woo hoo!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Elijah's coin by Steve O'Brien

A few days ago on Facebook, I posted and asked what the meaning of life was.  Sometimes it's fun to start a discussion like that.  People pop in and give perspectives and usually a lively debate ensues.  Here I am a few days later, and I realize that the meaning of life was sitting right here on my work desk, just waiting for me. 

The book begins with the story of Tom, a young man who's lost his way in life.  One night he breaks into a business with the intention of stealing.  This attempt at crime will be the turning point in Tom's life, thanks to Elijah King.  Elijah passes a coin on to Tom, leading Tom on the adventure of a lifetime.  Come along on Tom's adventure and somewhere along the way, you'll realize that you're on an adventure of your own.

I cannot stress this enough.  If you have a pulse, you need to read this book.  As the Editing Nazi, I have zero complaints.  As a reviewer, this book was entertaining, fast-paced and kept me sucked in.  As a fiction story, it was tops.  As a mystery, it kept me guessing.  As a person, this book is in the top three most important books I've ever read.  I normally read books and then pass them along to the next person.  This book is an exception.  The physical book, I'm going to pass along to my sister.  What I've learned from the book, I'm going to pass on to everyone I meet in life from this day forward, as well as all those I already know. 

The most beloved part of this book for me is that it comes complete with two of Elijah's coins.  There is a coin for you to keep as well as one for you to pass on to someone else.  Regardless of how much you pay for this book, it will be the best book value you've ever gotten for your money.

Don't Tell Nobody by Darryl Wayne

A tale in an inner city ghetto, a young boy is imprisoned in a dark world where molestation, poverty and self loathing are a daily way of life.  Repeatedly raped, an event that foreshadows a life of struggle with self identity and dysfunctional relationships with men.  The inevitable happens as he takes many risks trying to find himself, until one day he does, becoming, not forever vulnerable. (Taken from the back of the book)

Let's start off with editing.  You all know how I feel about it.  The lack of editing in this book is unimaginable.  Only once before have I read a book that was this poorly edited.  There are commonly misspelled words, lack of paragraphs, confusing dialogue, improper grammar, omitted words, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Now, I'm not going to blast this book due to editing.  In fact, it added to my reading experience.  This book is written from the first person view of a young man who's spent his entire life in the depths of the ghetto.  He's poorly educated and lived the type of life that I'm thankful I've never been personally exposed to.  The lack of editing brings the man behind the story to life.  As for the author, I can't say whether he did this on purpose, but it did bring about a desirable effect.  Although parts are difficult to read because of the mistakes, it brings an ambiance of despair and grit to the story.

I did find this a fascinating read.  It's not for the faint of heart though.  There are some monstrous scenes that are graphically laid out there for us to see.  The character's life hasn't been polished or made pretty.  It's a dark read into a life most of us can't even imagine.  It's vulgar and coarse and will appeal to the dark side of all of us.  It will definitely satiate the hunger to see a darker side of human nature.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Next Great Awakening by Ryuho Okawa

Warning:  Delicate material and concepts that may be offensive to some.

Ryuho Okawa is the founder of Happy Science, which is a new religion that is based on truth and unconditional love.  Ryuho believes he is the reincarnation (for lack of a better word) of El Cantare, a consciousness on the same level as Jesus Christ and Abraham Lincoln that has the duty of spreading 'the law' to the universe.  What Happy Science hopes to achieve is to bring a sort of Utopia to the world, eventually removing Hell.

I'm nearly at a loss for words.  I read this book in the hopes of gaining some enlightening ideas that would help me personally further myself on my path.  I can't argue with some of the theories presented in this book, but some of them are so outlandish that I have trouble rationalizing it.  I'm not saying that anything said in this book is incorrect.  I'm a firm believer that everyone has the right to their own religion as long as they've chosen it for their own.  What I'm saying is that some of the ideas presented here don't make sense when I try to apply them alongside my own beliefs. 

If you have firm religious beliefs, I strongly suggest you not pick up this book.  I know several people who would be offended from page one.  If you have an open mind, this might be a book for you.  I can't say I suggest this religion for anyone, but you are responsible for choosing your own path, and it could be.  Who am I to say?  Either way, if you aren't offended by the thoughts presented in this book, it definitely is an entertaining read.  You'll learn all about aliens from other planets here on earth, where we, as humans, were derived from as well as read interviews with four higher consciousnesses.  An entertaining read, but definitely  not what I was expecting.

A Pointed Death by Kath Russell

After reading Deed So by Kath, I couldn't wait to get my hand on this book, the first in the Pointer Mystery Series.  This book debuts Nola, failed entrepreneur who lives with her octogenarian mother and her dog.  While out walking the dog, Nola stumbles upon a decapitated body, who just happens to be the person that caused the downfall of her company.  Will her nosiness be the end of her budding relationship with a police officer, or will it be the end of her life?

You all know I love mysteries!  This one was no exception.  All you cozy readers out there should pay heed to this one.  It has all the markings of a good series.  It's a fun read.  The mystery isn't over the top and out of reach, nor is it too simple.  The characters are fun and inviting.  It's sprinkled with humor and wit.  Toss in a feisty old lady and a dog who thinks he rules the world and you're set.

My only complaint with this book is that the mystery centered around biotechnology and I just don't care.  Kath did a good job of keeping me interested despite that.  Her writing style keeps you immersed in the story regardless of how you feel about the content of the story.  Also, I might add that it's not written in an 'over your head' manner.  Everything is explained simply and without being too dry.  Also, the biotechnology isn't really the whole story.  There's so much more there that it's easily overlooked if you're like me in that aspect.  If it's your thing, you'll eat this book right up!

Monday, February 14, 2011

How to Believe in Love Again by Laura Lee Carter

In honor of Valentine's Day, I'm bringing you a special review.  Valentine's Day can be really rough for people.  A few people spend time with their significant other, while most of the world deals with the fact that they're single.  For them, it's like National Rejection Day.  Look!  You're single!  Sit and watch the rest of us be romantic!  For me, it's a day of mourning.  We recently lost my father.  All I've been able to think about today is how much I miss him.  Every year he picked the perfect card and gift for my mother and waited anxiously until the time he could give it to her.  In my life, I've never seen anyone as in love as my father was with my mother.  So today, for me, it's a difficult day for different reasons than most of you other single people out there. 

This book is not just for the single people out there.  It's not just about finding the right mate.  This book was written for all of us.  From the time we're born, love, or lack of, is constantly surrounding us.  It shapes who we are and what we believe.  Love is the river that carries us throughout our entire lives.  It's the legacy we leave behind as we move on towards whatever is next.  Many will agree that love is the most important part of being a human.  When we experience rejection or other negative experiences with it, we become tainted.  Believe me, I'm the queen of failed relationships.  I'm not saying you can't be the queen too, but I have a crown and everything.  Ok, that's a lie, but I should have one! 

Alright, on to the review!  I was expecting another do-it- yourself self-help book, and that's sort of what I found, but not completely.  This book is set apart in that there is actually wisdom contained that is useful and pertinent to everyone I know.  While reading, images of loved ones kept popping up in my mind.  I want to pass this book on to someone else, so that they can gain the same knowledge I found in it, but honestly there are too many people I want to share it with and I don't know who to choose.  It's well-written and easy to read.  There are wonderful quotations scattered throughout that force you to think.  Basically, this book is a step-by-step approach to teaching you the core of love and why many of us have trouble with it as well as what we can do to fix it.

I strongly suggest this to every person out there.  It's a quick and easy read.  I can't imagine one single person that wouldn't take something away with them upon reading.  It soothes the heart and gives you hope.

One last night....HURRAY FOR EDITING!!!  Thank you for making sure this book was in a readable condition, Laura :)

Nana The Four Crystals by Guillermo Romano

Let me start off by saying that the title is a bit misleading.  When I picked it up, I was expecting the entire story to be about Serge and his task involving the four crystals.  It's in there, but not until the end.  Most of the story is about Serge, who is a rare man.  He has strong morals and expects others to show respect in his presence.  He's loving and generous and knows that helping others is more important than anything.  This story spans his life for many years, culminating in the four crystals experience. 

At first, I was really disappointed in this book and didn't think I could read it through.  The back story with Serge's wife was really annoying me.  His wife's name was Stephanie.  She was the love of his life, a good woman, a good mother and died in her sleep.  I didn't need several flashbacks to show me who she was, because honestly I don't care and it had no impact on the story.  It pulled me away and caused me frustration as a reader. 

The rest of the story was actually pretty good.  I enjoyed Serge as a character and seeing the reactions of those around him.  I didn't like that several of my questions were never answered, but I did feel this was a satisfying read.  After getting through a few chapters, I found myself engrossed in Serge's life, wanting to know more.  The tale surrounding the four crystals is a fresh, exciting idea that I thoroughly enjoyed. 

Though I found this to be a good read, I strongly suggest that you not judge the book by the title.  It's more about the man and his journey through life than the story of the four crystals, at least in my opinion.  Also, skip the parts about Stephanie.  I'm sorry.  I'm sure the author felt it was necessary to Serge's background, but it really detracts from the story.  Everything you've read in this review is more than enough to tell you everything you need to know about Stephanie.  OK, one more thing, Serge carries a lucky penny that he got from her and asks her for guidance when he feels lost.  Now you know everything and you don't need to be distracted from the good story that is contained in these pages.

I'm afraid I have to make one last note.  Editing.  I cannot stress it enough.  If you're going to go through the trouble of writing a book, go through the trouble of editing or hiring an editor.  It may seem like a superfluous thing, but it really makes a difference.  This book is in dire need of editing.  Most of the time, I just continued on with the story and didn't let it get to me, but there were parts that I had to stop and reread several times until they made sense.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Dan Knight's Journey by Edward F. Smith

Dan Knight grew up a poor Manhattan kid in the forties.  After his parents separated, he switched schools where he was confronted by Robert, a thief, who conned Dan into working for him.  Years later, Dan is embarking on a successful career with two beautiful girlfriends when Robert resurfaces.  He's going to need the help of his old friend, Paddy, to get things taken care of.

I started this book thinking 'Oh, great!  Another coming of age story!' but was pleasantly surprised when it didn't stop there.  I have to say, as a character, Dan Knight is the luckiest son of a gun I've ever heard of.  I'm not saying he didn't have his share of problems, but sheesh!  Good luck just flocks to the guy!  But, I'm not hear to pick apart Dan, I'm here to pick apart the book!

Let's start with editing.  You all know that it really bothers me when I pick up a book and it hasn't been edited.  I'm not the grammar police or anything, it just stops you in your tracks.  You're reading along, happily in the story, when 'BAM' it hits you!  You get pulled out of the world you're in because something's spelled wrong or quotation marks are missing and you have no idea who's talking.  Sadly, there were several errors in the book.  The bright side to that is that I was so into the story that I was able to gloss right over them without giving it a lot of thought.  I wasn't cursing Mr. Smith or anything! 

The storytelling is great.  I was pulled in from the beginning and didn't want to put it down.  About halfway through I started wondering where the story was going.  It seemed like everything was fine and I was beginning to get a little bored, but Smith pulled me right back in.  I was a little confused at the end of the book because I wasn't sure why it was wrapped up in the manner that it was.  Of course, I can't tell you what I'm talking about without giving away spoilers.  I can tell you that after a little investigation, I found that it was ended that way on purpose to pave the way for another book.  It's definitely going on my 'to read eventually' list.

One last note:  It's obvious to me that the sex scenes were written by a man.  Sorry, but it's the truth.  I'm not saying they aren't executed nicely, but there's no romance.  It's all 'Come and get it, Big Boy!'  Honestly, for me, I don't care.  I usually skim them anyway because I don't care about the characters' sex lives.  I think men will find them fun while most women will deal with it without being drawn in.  As usual, just my opinion though.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Deed So by Katharine A. Russell

'Deed so' is the response of the people of a small Maryland town when presented with a truth.  In the area I grew up, people responded with a prompt 'Amen!' instead.  For example:  'We sure have seen enough snow this winter!'  'Amen!' or 'Deed so!'

Haddie is a young girl having to deal with a life of turmoil.  It's the early 60's.  Racism is still a huge issue as well as that of the Vietnam war.  That doesn't even pull into play the normal issues of a child her age, such as experimenting with things she shouldn't and overprotective parents.

This was another wonderful coming of age novel.  I started reading last night and just finished it.  I had a horrible time putting it down.  I was sucked completely into Haddie's world.  Katharine is a great storyteller.  For me it was comparable to the Jackie Lee Miles book I just reviewed a few days ago.  They both tell the story of a young girl on the cusp of womanhood who deals with problems that no child should have to deal with.  Where Jackie Lee wrote with the length and stature of a 12 or 13 year old child, Katharine writes more as an adult looking back. Another major difference is that Jackie Lee's book delved intimately into the emotions and thoughts of the main character, while this one skimmed the surface.  Instead of being intimate, we get to know what she's thinking and feeling, though most of the time we aren't actually thinking and feeling it along with her.

For me, this was a bit of a difficult read for one reason.  It holds some powerful happenings.  I actually had to stop and put the book down at one point because I was sobbing uncontrollably.  It wasn't just that I was into the story, but I could so easily see myself in the character's position since I have similar issues myself.  If you're strongly repelled by racism, physical disabilities, mental disabilities or war, you may want to give this book a second thought before picking it up.  The harsh realities of these things are brought to light in this book and it's not always pretty.  Thankfully, the silver linings are there, you just have to look closely for them.

I strongly suggest this for you novel readers out there.  It was an enjoyable read with lovable characters.  I found my heart breaking in several spots and in others I found myself rejoicing.  I fell in love with this small nest of a town and I was sorry to see it end. 

Katharine also writes the Pointer Mystery Series under the name Kath Russell. 

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