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. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mauria by Steve North

I can't give this a typical review since it's most definitely not a typical story. 

I think the main reason I prefer books to movies is that my brain has complete control over what everything looks like.  Of course the writer gives you the main structure and usually puts in enough detail that you can envision the same thing they do, but nonetheless, I have final say in what everything looks like in my head as I'm reading.  Keep that in mind as you read on.

Imagine, if you will, a land of tin woodsmen a la Wizard of Oz.  The buildings are tall and metal.  The people wear metal clothes.  All is cold and made of alloy.  Now imagine a countryside a la Hook.  Everything is bright and colorful.  It's filled with herds of anemic, tie-dyed sheep, who just happen to be the tin peoplies food.  Let's push things even further by imagine that one of the woodsmen and one of the sheep fall in love and breed. 

No, this isn't actually what the story is, but that's what my mind saw.  Outlandish, yes!  It's also the outer shell of a much deeper storyline.  Each 'race' as well as their offspring have their own set of life beliefs and how they should be carried out.  Every detail of each race has been carefully constructed with not so much as an idea out of place. 

It's so difficult to review this because I've never read anything like it.  There's a belief that the best way to learn a foreign language is to completely immerse yourself in it.  That's how this book is.  This is a whole world with different speech and characteristics than anything I've ever seen and Steve North just tossed me in and said 'Here!  Go check it out!'  At first, I was completely lost, but before long I was understanding the jargon and what was going on. 

This definitely isn't a book for everyone.  I did find it interesting, entertaining, imaginative and full of deeper thought issues.  It was difficult to understand at first, owing to being a different culture.  I did find that I began to care about some of the characters immensely and couldn't wait to find out what happened to them next, while others still lay flaccid for me.  If you're into sci-fi or fantasy and up for a challenge, I say give it a read.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

All That's True by Jackie Lee Miles

One of my favorite things about being a reader is watching a writer go from 'good' to 'great'.

Andi is a typical teenage girl, with a few exceptions.  Her brother has just died.  Her sister's getting married.  Her father is having an affair with her best friend's step-mom.  Her mother's become a raging alocholic.  Add to this the normal trouble of being a teenage girl.  How can she ever survive?

Yes, ok, my description makes it sound like a teen book.  I suppose it is.  The chapters are a bit short and the sentences are succinct.  I definitely think every teen girl would learn something from reading this book.  But...it's not just a teen book.  I'm an old lady (I use the term loosely!) and I loved every minute of it.

From the very beginning I was sucked in.  Page one had me abandoning reality so that I could immerse myself in Andi's world.  I barely even breathed for hours.  Having read Jackie's previous work, I was expecting a good book.  This one far surpassed my expectations.  I literally couldn't pull myself away.  She's become an amazing story teller.  I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.

Many of you know that I love coming of age books.  This has to be my new favorite.  I sincerely hope that after my sisters read it, they'll pass it along to my nieces.  There are strong messages in the book that a teenager can only pick up from a friend, such as Andi. 

I strongly suggest this book to all fiction fans.  Just make sure you have a few hours cleared, a snackie and a drink close by.  You won't want to put it down for anything.

Pursuit of Happiness by Sheldon Greene

This book takes place during the American Revolution and stars a young man named Joshua.  Though Joshua's family hasn't taken sides, Joshua agrees to aid General Washington by locating a shipment of French arms and talking a Jewish ship owner into running the British Blockade.  Along the way, he meets and falls for Amelia, the wife of a brutal slave owner.

I'm having a really difficult time with this review because it took me several days to read it.  There are days when I can easily wolf down three or four books at a time, but this one has taken me nearly a week.  Honestly, this is my own fault and not that of the author.  It's beautifully written, even poetic in parts.  The characters are alive and interesting.  It appears to be true to life and factual.  The reason it took so long to read is that I had to take in every single word.

I've been sitting here trying to figure out exactly why I didn't absolutely love this book.  There's nothing wrong with it.  It's actually one of the best attempts at literature that I've seen in a long time.  I think my problem with the book is that I just don't care about the Tories and Whigs.  Ben, if you're reading this, I apologize.  I felt in parts like I was back in history class my junior year.  It was definitely more interesting than that ragged old history book I had, but nonetheless, it's politics and war.  Overlooking that, this was a great read.  Again, my fault...not Sheldon's.

I strongly recommend this to history buffs and those who love literature versus fluff.  I personally enjoy both :) 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Ice Cream

I have become an ice cream junkie.  I've never been a huge fan of ice cream other than visits with Gramma where we'd down a pint of cherry chip.  That's not entirely true.  When I was pregnant with both the boys I craved peppermint stick ice cream.  I'd run to Wal-mart and grab a tub of it and eat it with a plastic spoon while waiting in line to pay for it.  I suppose it's more accurate to say that other than Gramma and the boys, I've never been an ice cream junkie.  That's changed though.  I eat it every night now! 

Today all of us are more conscious of what we eat than we were even five years ago.  The main reason I never buy ice cream is that I don't want to pay the price for the brands that have ingredients in them that I actually recognize.  The other day I randomly had a memory of a friend of mine making ice cream in her freezer.  It wasn't great, but it wasn't horrible.  So, I thought I'd do a little experimenting in the kitchen and see what I could come up with.  I started off easy and I've become a bit more daring.  What I found is complete success!  I love this stuff and it's so easy!  It takes less than 5 minutes to make and a few hours to fully freeze.

Grab a 2 cup measuring cup.  Fill with 1 cup of heavy whipping cream.  Fill the other cup with plain old milk.  Toss the liquids in your handy spandy blender.  Refill the same cup up to the 2 cup mark with frozen fruit.  I started using just plain old frozen strawberries.  Toss in 1/4 cup sugar. Blend a few seconds.  Pour into single serving containers and toss in the freezer.  The end!  Today I used frozen peaches and added just a few drops of vanilla and it was divine!  I'm totally making it again tomorrow!  If any of you make this, I definitely wanna know what fruit combos you try. 

Note- You can add more sugar if you'd like.  I like it with less sugar, but you can keep adding until it's as sweet as you'd like it.  I also want to experiment using yogurt instead of whipping cream, but I haven't gotten that daring yet!

Free e-books from Sourcebooks!

I love Sourcebooks!  I really do!  Right now, through the weekend, if you go to their site they're giving away free e-books!  Books include:  Dreaming Anastasia, Love at First Flight, Lydia Bennet's Story and The Greatest Knight.  I know that the last three are available only through Sunday.  I'm not sure about the first one, but I say rush over and grab them all while you can!  Enjoy!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Darcy and Fitzwilliam by Karen V. Wasylowski

I think the most interesting part of the Austen writing craze is that within this one tightly tuned niche, there is such a variety.  Austen fiction has become it's on genre, but within that genre you'll find a wonderful range of writing samples.  Some are dry and stick to Austen's original writing stance as much as possible.  Others take great liberties and toss an entirely different story at you.  The one thing they all have in common is the entertaining Darcy family. 

This book takes a new order for Austen fiction.  It's written in three parts.  The first takes a look at Darcy and Elizabeth, exploring the gentleman in the story.  The second tells the story of the officer, Cousin Fitzwilliam.  The third takes both stories in hand and pulls them together.  The writing is crisp and clear without being dull.  It's one of the more interesting Austen fiction books that I've read.  Though the characters are known and beloved, Karen adds a new dimension to them.  Don't get me wrong, they're the same characters, but we get to have a new visual.  Particularly interesting for me was the in-depth look at Aunt Catherine.  She's still a hard-headed snob, but she's so darn lovable! 

Two important points on this book:  It's easy to put down.  I hate to say it, but it's true.  It took me four days to get through it.  I loved every second of reading it, but it wasn't a page-turner for me.  My second issue is really rather small, but it really annoyed me.  The boys continually call Aunt Catherine simply 'Catherine'.  I can't put my finger on exactly why it bothers me, but I think it's the lack of respect and closeness.  I would never dream of calling one of my aunts by just their first name.  I realize this was a different time, but I can't imagine it was more relaxed then.  Wow!  I sound so nitpicky!  You all know how I feel about giving my honest opinion though. 

If you're an Austen fiction fan, this is definitely a book to pick up.  It's one of the better ones that I've read and I did enjoy it.

February Pick of the Month II

As I stated earlier, I couldn't just pick one book.  I had to include Jericho's book, but I also have to include this one.  I love the book cover, the title and the premise.  It looks to be a promising read.  Most of the reviews declare it to be a successful dark comedy.  After doing a little research, I came across a few chapters online and had myself a peek. So, I figure I'll give you a short peek as well!  No worries!  I'm a cheater!  This is just a paragraph out of the free peek you can get at Amazon!  Go check it out for yourself if you're intrigued!

By the time Marylou Ahearn finally moved into the little ranch house
in Tallahassee, she’d spent countless hours trying to come up with the
best way to kill Wilson Spriggs. The only firm decision she’d made,
however, was that proximity was crucial. You couldn’t kill someone
if you lived in a different state. So she flew down from Memphis to
Tallahassee and bought a house on the edge of Wilson’s neighborhood.
Doing so had been no problem, because she had a chunk of money left
from the government settlement as well as her retirement and social
security. She furnished her new place quickly with generic “big warehouse
sale” furniture. Back in Memphis she rounded up a graduate
student couple she’d met at church—a husband and wife who both
needed to give their spectacles a good cleaning—to house- sit, and then
she transferred her base of operations to Tallahassee, informing friends
only that she’d be taking an extended vacation.

February's Pick of the Month

We live in such a fabulous world.  Do you realize that every single week there are over a thousand books newly released in hardback, paperback, ebook and cd format?  It's astounding!  Picking the book of the month has quickly become my favorite part of running this blog.  There are just so many to choose from!  This month, I couldn't pick one.  I just couldn't.  So, I picked two!  There are so many wonderful books being released this month.  Favorite authors such as Kim Harrison, Kresley Cole and James Patterson have books out this month.  There's a new PC Cast book out.  Several VC Andrews books are being formatted to ebook.

My first pick of the month was chosen because I'm a wrestling fan!  That's right!  I have to say I really miss the Boogeyman wrestling.  John Cena is way bigger in person than he appears to be on television.  I watched a tooth fly out of Triple H's mouth.  Hacksaw Jim just cracks me up with his persona.  Wrestling may be fake, but I don't care!  The pain is real and the story lines are fun.  Anyway, on with the pick!

This month Chris Jericho is releasing the follow up book to A Lion's Tale.  In this book, Jericho recounts his life from 1999 until 2007 as a member of WWE.  He tells not only about scripted life, but off screen as well with other wrestling giants. 

As an aside, A Lion's Tale is available on Amazon used for next to nothing!  If you pick up Undisputed, grab A Lion's Tale as well!

February Amazon Winner

Every month I give away a $5 Amazon gift card to one follower.  I toss all the names of followers from Google Connect, Networked Blogs and Twitter into a nice little bowl and randomly pull one out.  What do you have to do to win?  Follow on one or more of those items.  You get one entry per following.  That's it.  You don't have to keep checking back in or anything!  So, enough of this twabble...who's the winner this month?

Jo Book

Jo is a fellow book reviewer.  She has a pretty good variety in the genres she reviews so check her out. She can be found at Books to the Rescue.

Congrats, Jo!  Thanks for being a follower!

Giveaway Notice

All winners of giveaways will be notified as soon as their name has been drawn. Each winner will have two weeks to respond in order to receive their prize. Prizes cannot be delivered without an email/physical address. Any prizes that are not claimed within a two week period will be forfeited.

Notice

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.