Monday, December 2, 2013

The Four Seasons of Patrick by Susan Hughes

It's the start of winter, and nine-year-old Patrick is beginning to feel crowded out of his own family.  His father's friend, Linda, and her seven-year-old daughter, Claire, are here for dinner again.  Then spring comes.  Not only is Patrick's father planning to marry Linda, but she and Claire will be coming to live with them at the summer's end.  That just won't do.

So Patrick comes up with a big idea.  He'll build a tree house where he can stretch out his arms and breathe.  But wait.  Will his father allow it?  Where will he find the perfect tree?  Who will give him a hand with the construction?  And, most importantly, will his own tree house really be the hideaway he hopes for, especially from the irritating Claire?  (taken from the back of the book)

Even without the important message behind it, this is such a cute story!  It follows a year in Patrick's life and the characters are just as charming as can be.  I had a blast reading it.  It only took me a few moments, but for a 6-9 year old, this is about the right length. 

Patrick is still dealing with the loss of his mom, and then his dad has to go and change the family dynamic again.  That's a lot of change for a kid to deal with.  Patrick shares with us his innermost thoughts on the subject but we also get to see him acting out. Basically, he's a normal kid that's dealing with a lot in the best way he knows how.  Soon, Patrick learns to look past his own feelings and see that others are having a difficult transition as well.

Given the staggering amount of 'broken' families, this is really a great book for kids.  It deals with the loss of a parent as well as learning to accept a new one.  It covers most family paradigm changes.  Kids will enjoy the frolicking and play and sympathize with Patrick. 

Savior of the Child by Dr. Don N. Bacchus

I was really excited to review this book.  Being a mom, I'm always looking for good advice and new ways to handle situations. I've learned that hard way that each child is an individual and needs to be dealt with accordingly.  I was hoping to find some great new ways and perhaps some inspiration for my motherhood journey.

Instead, I found myself being yelled at.  While I agree that there are some great principles in this book and that I don't know everything, I do also know, without a doubt, that some of the things Dr. Bacchus states are quite controversial.  For example, breastfeeding and medication.  I did not breast feed.  I have my reasons.  That does not make me a bad parent.  My child is on medication.  That does not make me a bad parent. It does not make me a bad mother. It means my child has issues and needs and I'm making sure that they're met, even if that means medication every day.  I do agree that some children are over medicated.  Some children are given medication when it's not really  necessary and there are other avenues that could be explored.  However, this does not mean that every child that is on a behavioral medication has a bad parent!  I apologize, but this one really struck me.

I do, however, agree with Dr. Bacchus' main premise. Prevention.  As mothers (and fathers...sorry, Dr. Bacchus but this doesn't just fall to the women here) it's our job to let our children know they're loved and train them how to deal with life instead of just giving them digital babysitters.  If we decide we're going to have children, it's our job to give it one hundred percent  and teach them to be loving adults who can cope with life. 

I think most parents can find some valuable information in here.  In order to do that, however, it's tricky.  You have to be able to look past the strong opinions posted that have judgment attached in order to find what you believe to be important. 

Here's the most important part of the book.  It actually started as a letter to his grandsons.  Basically, a 'how to raise your children'.  Interestingly enough, it's written for mothers but written for his grandsons. The point is, if you can detach yourself and read it just from that point of view, it could be a good read.  If you can take the part of uninterested party and just look at the fact that this grandfather wrote a letter of instruction for his grandsons, you might actually enjoy yourself.  Dr. Bacchus' voice comes across loud and clear.

On a side note:  I must have read this book differently than most people.  It's being touted as a five star review and a necessity for every parent. Keep in mind, the review posted here is my opinion only. 

Upload by Mark McClelland

His criminal past catching up with him, a troubled young man seeks escape into digital utopia by uploading his consciousness into a computer-just as first love casts his life in a new light. (taken from the back of the book)

This book is really tricky to review.  It's separated into two portions.  The first portion I found dry and dull.  I had to force myself to continue reading it for two full weeks before I finished it.  I wasn't interested in any of the characters or what was going on with them.  I'll admit a little fascination with the technical part of the world and the projects they're working on. It's easy to see their world and imagine we'll be there in a matter of years. 

But, here's the tricky part.  Once I reached the second portion of the book, I couldn't stop reading!  I am amazed at Mark's work here. Not only has he created a digital Utopia and figured out how to move people to it, but he's created this intense character study. If you have a person's life and change one tiny aspect, how much does it change the person?  What if we could all just reboot ourselves from a save point?  I think this second portion of the book is one of the best science fiction stories I've read.  It's in depth and unreal while at the same time with a huge portion of plausibility.

I gave it an immense amount of thought.  The first portion of the book is mostly stage setting, but it really is necessary for the second part of the book.  As I was reading, I found my mind jumping back to section one and thinking, 'Oohh!  That's why that mattered and I had to suffer through it!'  It's sort of an 'eat your vegetables so you can have dessert' thing. Even though I didn't enjoy the first part of the book, it was basic and necessary to the second part, which I loved!

Both parts working together end up to be a great read that will stick with you and have you thinking long after you've finished it.  I'll admit it's pretty rough getting through the first part, but it's definitely worth it. 

Daughters of Twilight by Collette Jackson-Fink

A quiet little city in the Midwest town of Waterloo, Iowa is about to come to life...with angels!  When an earthquake measuring seven hits Waterloo, a huge black pyramid shaped tower pushes it's way up through a corn field in Blackhawk County spinning the city into the national spot light.  It's thought that the "Black Tower" is dormant, but when special tactical teams are sent inside to investigate, special team member Dane Coles is confronted by the impossible...a beautiful creature that has been cursed and cast down into oblivion within the Garden of Eden, using the 'Black Tower' as a doorway to the surface.  (taken from the back of the book)

Ok, first, if you see this book sitting on the shelf in the store, you're going to pass it by.  You see a few choppers and military, but what really hits you is the picture of a girl in the top left corner.  She has this dreamy look about her that makes you automatically think 'oh.  sappy romance.'  Don't let this fool you.  Yeah, there's definitely some romance.  Not just romance, but the type you find in really good supernatural books where it's strong, deep and lasting.  It's more than most human types of romance love.

For me, this book was about the action.  I had so much fun reading it!  Imagine your favorite end of the world or action movie.  You know that part where you've sat through the first part of the movie and you're finally getting into the nitty gritty good part of the movie?  Yeah...well this book starts there and keeps you there until the end.  It starts with thrilling action and keeps pounding it, but not in a way that tires you out.  It's exciting and fascinating.  I have to admit, I wasn't overjoyed at the angel angle, but Collette did a great job of adding some new twists. 

If action and supernatural is your thing, this a must read.  My only complaint is that the book has been left in such a state that a developing series isn't a possibility.  Not unless she really pushes some time jumping. This is one of those books that's well worth the money and you'll want to share with friends and family.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

What is Your What by Steve Olsher

Given the fact that I've been an avid pursuer of life purpose since the beginning of my own life, I couldn't wait to pick up Steve's book and see what advice he had for me. Though I've learned a lot along my own personal path, Steve actually had a few tricks up his sleeve.

First, most of the concepts in this book are simple enough for most people to understand.  It's strongly recommended that you  not sit and attempt to read the entire book at once.  Honestly, take one concept at a time and really mull it over in your brain before you move on to the next.  Otherwise you're going to find yourself inundated with an overload of information that you cannot process.

Nearly everything I read in this book I agreed with.  For me, it was a rehashing of knowledge I had already gained.  There were a few key points that I hadn't previously picked up on that definitely pertain to my day to day living and psyche and I'm thankful I grabbed them now for future use.  It was interesting though because these few points had me wondering why I hadn't realized them before.  They're simple enough and completely logical, just for some reason they hadn't come to my attention.

This book isn't just about discovering your life's purpose, it's also about teaching you what to do with it.  Just the simple knowledge of what you were born to do and what will fill your soul with joy isn't enough.  You have to then take the next steps towards a life of fulfillment.

Different than other self-help books I've read, this one actually gives firm instruction for getting the results you want. Usually, I'm given the thought process behind finding the information I want, but not how to actually find it.  This has step by step instructions as well as a recapping session and true stories to back it up.

This is a definite read for everyone out there who is self-aware and interested in learning more.  Even a seasoned journeyman will come away with new information.  Those who are new to the idea, it may take a little longer to get through the book, but it's not about how long it takes, it's about how much you learn.

Daughter Cell by Jay Hartlove

Leading genetic researcher Randolph Macklin wakes up in Malaysia to find a four month gap in his memory, his wife dead, and his daughter in a coma.  As he and his psychiatrist, Sanantha Mauwad unravel the mystery, they find nothing and no one are what they appear to be.  Ancient cults collide with cutting edge science in this tale of too much power driven by too much passion. (taken from the back of the book)

This is the second book in the trilogy of Sanantha Mauwad.  If you've already read The Chosen, then you know that you need to read this book and don't need to read any further.  Also, look forward to the release of Isis Rising, which will be the third and final book and is schedule to be released in 2014.

Though it started out a little slow and clichéd, I found myself falling into the story pretty rapidly.  The use of genetics is simplified enough that anyone reading it will understand what's going on and it's actually quite fascinating.  For me, the fascinating part is that I can comprehend how this could easily happen in a medical paradigm where ethics and morals do not exist.  Scary! 

Though I was fascinated by the genetics, what got me even more was the spiritual/paranormal content in the book.  Again, we have items that push the boundaries of possibility, but are definitely possible.  I'm not explaining that well. Basically, things you wouldn't think of being done...but you realize that it could be if someone had the mental instability and the correct knowledge and ambition. 

This was a thrilling and compelling read for me.  The only complaint I have is that I really didn't like the character of Sanantha Mauwad.  She is the only reason I won't seek out the first and third book.  I'm not saying if they fell in my lap I wouldn't hungrily gobble them up, but she really annoyed me.  She had little character and depth.  I found her inane and dull.  The visual in my head for her as I was reading was that of a large grey blob.  The intensity of the story and the feelings I had for the other characters made up for it though.

Ten Healthy Teas by Valerie B. Lull

On top of being a time-honored beverage of choice for many, many teas have health benefits as well.  Being an avid tea drinker, I was really excited to get a peek at this book!

You'll find recipes for tea bags, loose tea, and nice tea mixtures.  Each tea has a few recipes after it.  Preceding that, you'll find information on the type of tea as well as it's medicinal and health uses and it's history.  Even if you aren't a tea drinker, it's a pretty fascinating book.

The ten main teas are:  ginger, garlic, green/black, chamomile, cranberry, peppermint, raspberry, goldenseal, Echinacea and lemon.

My copy is going in my kitchen with the cookbooks, but I've given some serious thought to making up gift baskets with this book and one of each type of tea.

On an extremely personal note:  I've suffered with severe arthritis for years.  Using ginger tea, I was able to alleviate pain enough that I could actually sleep!  I'm not suggesting this for any of you.  Follow doctor's orders.  For me, though, it feels good to have another pain management option.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Colette by Michelina Vinter

With impending WWII and being fresh from secretarial school, the world is open for Colette.  When she agrees to be a tour guide for an agent named Adam, her future takes on a different color.  Once she agrees to marry him, she sets herself on a path of heartbreak, intrigue and adventure.

Starting out as a naïve teen, it's really interesting to watch Colette mature.  She doesn't let anything hold her back or keep her down.  She finds in herself the need to be a superhero of sorts and goes after any knowledge that may help her.  As a character study, she's fascinating.  We can watch each moment she go through shape the person that she's becoming.

This was a surprisingly quick-paced read.  I couldn't seem to put it down.  Even when it seemed like the main storyline was in a lull, I just knew something unexpected was about to occur.  For me, this was like reading a sweet true love story, with added twists.  Just when you found your heart 'aaww'ing at something sweet that just happened, you find your brain going 'well where did that come from?  how horrible!  is this really happening?'  In a world that most of us are thankful to not have to live in, Colette takes traumatic situations and turns them into something to make her stronger and better.

Whether you're looking for  a quick read or something that'll make you think about your own life, Colette is a sure fire winner.  Packed with romance, passion and intrigue, this book is sure to satisfy.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Pinned by Charles W. Massie

I actually picked up this book after reading it's sequel Stains on the GavelStains tells the story of Mark, who has been wrongfully incarcerated.  Pinned is the back story.  It's the story of how Mark fell in love with a woman, Roxie, over the internet, moved to Kentucky, and became 'pinned'.  Keep in mind that this is all based on a true story.  It's one man's fight against a woman who 'done him wrong' and the 'good ole boys' in the Kentucky judicial system. 

For me, I was fascinated with the second book, but I couldn't quite put my finger on why.  It wasn't a bad book, but I've read better.  Something about it just kept me hooked, addicted.  I was interested in finding out Mark's back story and how he ended up in his situation in Stained, but I also was hoping for further insight on exactly what it was that made Stained so fascinating to me.  I found it!

First of all, this is an intriguing story.  If you read one of the books, you simply have to pick up the other and read either the back story or the continuation.  It really is an interesting saga.  You'll find yourself flipping page after page to find out what happens next, even though it really isn't an edge of your seat kind of thrill.

So, here's the fascination.  I've never read a character like Mark before.  The entire story is told from Mark's point of view.  The thing is, that we really get to see Mark's perception of himself, which is unusual to this degree.  For example,  Mark and Roxie will be having an argument.  Mark will say or do something that will make me cringe.  Usually, it's something that I would never put up with.  Then Roxie would retaliate and say something hateful or go off pouting.  Sounds like a normal argument, right?  The interesting thing is that Mark then can't figure out why Roxie is so upset and begins to think she's 8 crayons short of a box.  As readers, we get to see Mark from our point of view, but also from his point of view, which can be two drastically different things.

Also, once I picked up Pinned and read it, it changed how I felt about the second book.  In the second one, I felt a modicum of sympathy for Mark and just couldn't comprehend how people like Roxie get away with it, or live with themselves.  After reading the first book and finding out how everything really went down, I actually felt a little sorry for Roxie.  I'm not saying she's in the right, or the wrong, just that I didn't see her as the cold and calculating woman that I found in the second book. 

Read it for yourself and judge!  Who's at fault here?  Is Roxie a psychotic people user or did Mark really do the things he's accused of?  Though this book was originally written to warn people of what can happen, if you look at it from a fictional perspective, it turns into a fascinating 'well, who's the bad guy?' sort of book.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Hanging Tree by Michael Phillip Cash

Seventeen year old Arielle is at a crossroads in her life.  Disenchanted with her father, she is testing the boundaries of his trust by dating someone he does not approve.  Under the moonlit sky in Long Island, Arielle and her boyfriend meet under the infamous hanging tree.  The couple's destiny is rooted to the five spirits in the tree whose lives and deaths are determined by an ancient curse.  Will her future be determined by the past or will Arielle's choices alter the course of her life?  (taken from the back of the book)

I would have to consider myself a Cash fan.  I adored Brood XStillwell was a little predictable for me, but I still enjoyed it.  I was really anxious to find out how I'd feel about this one.  Would I find it predictable or would I find it the fascinating read of Brood X?

I was pleasantly surprised.  Though it didn't have the gruesome scenes I loved about Cash's work, it was still gripping.  The over all story was predictable, but written in such a way that I just didn't care.  The characters are easy to identify with and you find yourself sucked in immediately.  Goody Bennett in herself is a fascinating character study.  I'm hoping Cash goes back and writes a book just about her. 

You'll find yourself stuck in several different time periods, with all of the characters from the hanging tree.  Each has his own story to tell and you'll want to hungrily lap it up until you've heard them all.  Though it's a novella, which for me means a quick read, it was a wonderful escape from reality and a great way to pass the time.

If you've read any of Cash's other works, then you know that he improves with everything he puts out.  I'd love to see him delve even deeper into the thrilling sci-fi/fantasy world and I can't wait to see what he comes up with next. 

And Let There Be A Hero by R.M. Kidwell

Dayton, Ohio, is stunned by a series of savage deaths.  Is it a vigilante murderer?  A heartless assassin?  Is it two different serial killers?  That is the dilemma facing Detective Kalen Gatt.  Added pressure comes from Chief Danforth, who was a personal friend of one of the victims.  The friend was an icon whose coattails the Chief planned to ride in order to fulfill his political aspirations  Kale does not need an even more disgruntled boss with all that is facing him.  An when he is unexpectedly drawn into a horrifying terrorist just may be too much for "Special K" to handle. (taken from the back of the book)

I admit it, I'm a mystery junkie.  This is definitely a series for my keeper shelf.  Well, it will be once I get the rest of them!  The first book in the series, The Wailin' Beaver, sets the stage for Kale to become the hero he's destined in And Let There Be A Hero.  Though I haven't read the first book, it wasn't integral in reading the second.  We start out with Kale returning to work after a horrible accident has disfigured him.  If you want to find out exactly what happened, there's an excerpt at the back of the book, but I suggest you not read it until after you've read the book.  In my opinion, it was more fun to read about Kale's 'adventures' and then go back and find out how he was disfigured.  Then again, those that have read the first book already know all about it.  But, I digress.

As characters go, this book has it all.  I'll  admit, in the beginning I found Kale to be a total jerk, but at least he was a jerk in a funny way.  Towards the end of the book he actually had me laughing out loud, and not exactly in appropriate spots of the story to be laughing.  You really become invested in Kale and his crack team as well as his family.  The outlying characters are forces to be reckoned with as well. I love that I wanted to climb into the book several times to smack the funk out of somebody.  

Since this is a mystery book, I have to rate that as well. And it gets 30 ladders high in the air!  Yeah, that doesn't make sense, but seriously, as mysteries go, this one is pretty high up there.  See, the book is separated into sections and each one is a different crime for Kale to solve.  Sometimes I had a clue who the culprit was, but more often than not I was completely stumped and found myself screaming, 'WHO KALE?  WHO?  COME ON!  WHO DID IT?'  Let me tell you, a fun read all the way through!  Just when you think you have a handle on who did what, the unthinkable happens and you have to readjust yourself.

Honestly, this is one of the most thrilling rides I've had in a long time.  I can't wait for A Day in the Darkness to be released.  In the meantime, I'm going to see if I can hunt down a Wailin' Beaver!  This is a must read for you mystery fans out there!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Aeviternus Adventures by Teresa L. Perin

Jillian has just finished her first year of college and figures she'll have a nice quiet summer back home on the family's goat farm.  Those plans are forgotten, however, when she ad her cat and goat are transported to the kingdom of Aeviternus, in an alternate world.  She wants desperately to find a way back home and sets off in search of the one magician skilled enough to return her to her own world.  She discovers the primal elements in this realm and encounters many different creatures along the way.  She is befriended by twin clerics, but when she ends up in the hands of a sexual sadist and learns about the dark side of this land, it looks like she may be doomed.  Her cleric friends rush to rescue her with the aide of two magicians.  Will Jillian be able to get home?  Will she find love in this brutal world?  Or will she fall victim to evil?  (taken from the back of the book)

WARNING:  Not for children!  Explicit sex scenes!  Don't get me wrong, they're some of the best I've ever read.  They're so good that I actually read them.  Point is, there's no way I'd let my child read this until over the age of 18!  You can do what you want, just letting you know up front.

Having gotten that out of the way, I have to admit that I'm really impressed.  This book is like a huge ball  of Alice in Wonderland, Wizard of Oz, Lord of the Rings and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  It definitely has it's own element of wonder and fantasy, but fans of these other movies/books will find themselves absolutely captivated by Perin's world.  It's a fast-paced adventure that keeps you constantly flipping pages to see what happens next.  Characters are well-formed and most cause you to have an emotional reaction toward them. 

There was one point in the book, however, where I felt disjointed.  I don't want to give it away and have to put up a spoiler alert, but it felt like there were two books in one here.  There was a definite stopping point to one story and a definite starting point of another.  Don't get me wrong, it's the same characters and story, it just really felt like it needed a little more cohesive action to pull it all together. The saving grace in this instance is that I know this is only book one in the series, so I'm sure there's good reason for this.  I'm also sure it won't happen again in subsequent books.

So, here's my biggest disappointment.  The sex scenes.  They're amazing well written and I enjoyed them, as stated above.  Although I see the reason they're in the story, it definitely made this book more of a niche market than it needed to be.  They aren't tossed in there simply for the fact of having them.  They're an integral part of the story.  However, I can think of one person I know besides myself who would really enjoy this.  Were it rewritten without these scenes so that younger persons could read it, I can think of hundreds. 

If you're an adult that loves fantasy, this is definitely up your alley.  I can't wait to see what happens next.  I've fallen in love with the characters and the world.  This is a series for my keeper shelf.

Rereading my review, it comes across as if I have nothing good to say about this book.  The fact is, other than the two items I've mentioned, I would easily rate this 5 stars. 

Stains on the Gavel by Charles W Massie

This book is a sequel to Pinned, which I haven't read.  In the first book, Mark meets Roxie online and they fall in love.  He moves to Kentucky to be with her.  This book picks up about six weeks later.  He's decided things aren't working and is going to move back to New York, but Roxie doesn't take it well.  Mark is trapped in a whirlwind nightmare between lies, drugs and a corrupt legal system that seems out to get him personally.

I've been reviewing a long time, but I can't even tell you what I liked about this book.  The characters were interesting but I couldn't identify with any of them.  The storyline was actually pretty simple.  Mark is wrongfully accused and trying to get an appeal.  Sounds basic enough.  I wouldn't say any of the things I normally base a book review on are outstanding.  Nevertheless, I couldn't put it down. I was an addict until the final dregs. I simply could not stop reading.  Several times during my reading I wondered about this.  Just what was it about this book that compelled me to keep reading?  Why couldn't I walk away?  Honestly, I just don't know.  It's been 24 hours and I still can't figure it out.  I only know that I couldn't get enough and I would absolutely love to review Pinned.  Well done, Charles!  You've written a book that's so good, that I don't even know what was so good about it!

You know, it's kind of like drinking a Monster or Red Bull.  It doesn't taste good.  You don't notice the effects immediately.  After a little while though, you start to have this feeling of being awake and alive, and you want more.  You crave more.  That's it.  I'm not sure why, but Massie's writing is like Red Bull.

True Crime people out there will love this story.  True Crime isn't my thing, but I was reminded of the movie Double Jeopardy with Ashley Judd while reading at times.  You know, someone is wrongfully accused and has to live in prison while trying to figure out how to fix things.  The big difference here is that 'the system' is definitely working against Mark.  Not only that, Mark isn't some young thug.  He's in his 60's, a veteran, and has severe health issues.  Makes things a big more intriguing. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Six Months or LESS by Latifa Hazim-Rogers

Page Langford is fifty years old, a wife and a mother-and now that she's dead, she finds herself in the unenviable position of existing as one of the living dead.  She is forced to watch as her friends and family's lives unravel.  There are secrets long since buried, lies too deep and gruesome to believe.  But they're all true, all of them, and Page is glad to be dead.  Glad to feel no pain.  If she were still alive, the pain of the betrayal and the lies would be too much for her to bear.  (taken from the back of the book)

I have to admit, I'm a little disappointed.  I was really expecting the book to be from Page's perspective, but it isn't.  After her death, it's from the perspective of everyone else with a random thought from Page sprinkled in.  We don't get to see anything from her perspective after her death.  We simply know that the people she left behind hear warnings from her in their head when they're about to do something idiotic. 

This isn't to say that I didn't enjoy the book.  Though it isn't what I expected, it's still a good read, especially from a first time author.  The characters are interesting and the story line  Basically, for me, it read like a really bad soap opera.  There's passion and murder and intrigue and all sorts of wonderful gruesomeness.  Which reminds me, THIS IS NOT FOR CHILDREN!  Some of the love scenes are definitely adult and incredibly descriptive.  I wish the same passion had gone into the writing of the violent scenes. 

Behind it all, there's a good story with morality.  It really is an interesting read, even though it's over the top throughout most of it.  This is a great book to sit down with and feed your inner demon for lust and power and greed and the darker side of life.  If you don't take it too seriously, you can really enjoy it.  Just don't expect the book to be all about what Page is going through once she becomes a 'ghost'.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Dave Test by Frederick W. Schmidt

When life is at its tattered edges and you are faced with seemingly impossible decisions, the Dave Test is a set of searingly honest questions you ask to become the best, most honest self for you, your friends, and your family.  Instead of resorting to stained-glass language or offering false hope, do yourself a favor and pick up this book.  Take the Dave Test.  (Taken from the back of the book)

I love the fact that I prejudge books.  Sometimes I'm right on target and at others I'm pleasantly surprised.  The fact that this book is written by an Episcopalian priest led me to believe that it would be a religious-based book.  It is.  It also led me to believe that it would be preachy, which it's not.  Even if you aren't a Christian of any sort, there's some really valuable information in here.  If you are a Christian, it'll put some new insight into your already-instilled beliefs.

Coping with our own mortality is something that each of us faces.  Not only that, we have to cope with the mortality of those around us.  I don't just mean 'the big ending.'  Throughout our lives we're faced with lots of different types of deaths and expirations.  You could be facing a recent job loss, medical issues, any sort of trauma, divorce or relationship issues.  All of these things and more lead to the death of the world as we know it and we have to deal with it and move on.  The world that we all live in is constantly surrounding us with these types of death.  We have loved ones we have to care for too.  But how do we do that?  How do we lend our support in the most helpful manner?

Honestly, when I picked this book up I was hoping to find some insight into dealing with my own traumas.  I was hoping to learn how to better help the people surrounding me with their own traumas.  I wanted to learn how to heal.  I did pick up some interesting tidbits about those things but the lesson I really learned was about living in the moment.  I've heard it my entire life.  Yesterday is the past, tomorrow is the future, what you have is the here and now, the present.  No matter how many times we hear it though, it doesn't mean that it really hits home and finds a place in our souls.  One little sentence in this book really drove that concept home for me. 

Regardless of what you're dealing with in life, this book is a helpful tool.  You'll learn how to love, how to respond to others, and how to redefine your thoughts.  Most importantly, you'll learn how to grief and continue to live. 

True Hollywood Noir : Filmland Mysteries and Murders by Dina Di Mambro

Filmland has captivated millions for years.  For most of us, it's the same thing as a little girl having princess dreams.  We see glamour and beauty and a wish for our lives to be so bold.  Logically, we all know it has a seedy side, but we choose to see the wonder and magic.  It gives us power to get through our own lives.

In this book, Di Mambro explores the darker side of Filmland.  We see beloved characters and get a glimpse into their lives and backgrounds as well as their final downfall.  Most of these are unsolved, but each story is presented in such a way that we find a masterful whodunit.  We, as readers, get to figure out what we actually think happened in each case.

For me, the fun part of this book was reading about my own personal beloved actors.  I'll admit it, Chris Walken was my favorite 'character' in the book.  He isn't even really a part of any of the mystery, but I sure love reading about him. 

Don't read this just for a treasure hunt to find your own favorites though.  Even people I'd never heard of had fascinating mystery stories attached to them.  Sometimes murder, or attempted murder, but there are some great scandals going on as well.  Everything Di Mambro has posted in this book is backed up and not mere theory. 

For me, personally, I was disappointed that Micky Cohen took up a quarter of the book.  I really felt like he could have been condensed a tiny bit more and someone else added in.  Another option would have been to do a separate book on him.  I felt like Di Mambro was much more interested in his story than the others and the others were added as filler so that it was large enough to publish as a full book.  Don't get me wrong, the other stories are well-developed and entertaining, but I felt like all of her passion was poured into Cohen.

This is a must have for every film buff and true crime reader out there.  Even if you're neither of those things, you're sure to find something in this book that appeals to you, whether it be mobsters or romance.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Hope Flies on Broken Wings by L.F. Falconer

It's the last summer of Collie's innocence.  She's at the stage where she must choose her future.  Will it be the handsome and safe Arrick whom her parents adore?  It would be the proper thing to do.  Or will it be the dirty Ganty boy, Dugan, who makes her heart race with forbidden desires?

This book was a rare treat for me.  Having already fallen in love with the sequel, Hope Rises From the Ashes, it was a unique opportunity for me to go back and get the beginning of the story.  Having spent an entire book with Collie and Dugan already, I loved being able to see how their story began. 

This is a difficult review to write, however.  I don't feel like I can do the book justice by reviewing it alone.  It stands just fine by itself, but knowing what's coming in the next book gives the story more depth. 

Hope Flies lets us meet Collie and Dugan and all those surrounding them.  We get to see what sort of people they are, their hopes and dreams and desires.  We're right there with them as they fall in love and try to figure out if it's worth it, considering all the obstacles.  This first book, as a standalone, is a great love story.  There's some grit and violence, but just enough to keep you randomly teetering on the edge of your seat.  It's definitely worth reading on it's own, but see what happens when we read the second book after.

The second book starts up where the first left off, well, shortly after.  We get to find out the continuing saga of Dugan.  We learn where he is and fight along with him to regain his memory and come to terms with the past.  Collie...Wow...Collie as a character is a pretty intense study.  She goes from this little girl who knows she's supposed to do what's right and proper to becoming an abused 'kept' woman.  Their love story continues in the second book, but with a lot more grit and violence.

As a whole, I'm in love with this series.  I look at the first book as the scene setting for the second book.  It has a great story on it's own, but it adds so much texture and 'Ooooh!  Now I get it!' factor to the second that I can't really separate them. 

I strongly suggest this book for all you fantasy and fiction lovers out there.  Don't read it alone, though.  Get them both!  I'm thankful I've got this set for my keeper shelf and can't wait to share it. 

Personal Note:  Thanks, L.F. for sending this to me!  I wasn't really expecting it, but I love that you did :)  I actually read the second book again because so much changed with the reading of the first :)  I'll treasure them :)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Dating Dance by Grace

A divorced mother of two grown up children, Grace decided she was ready to re-enter the dating scene-a daunting and intimidating prospect.  After reading several magazines and books on dating in the 21st century, Grace decided against taking the advice that the media pushes on baby-boomer-aged women and instead decided to take dance lessons to get her out of the house and meeting new people.  Little did she know that learning new dance steps would help her navigate her new life in a world of singles just like her.  (taken from the back of the book)

Sometimes I forget that people aren't like me and every now and again I need a good reminder.  This book definitely provided it. 

The story was billed to me in a manner that led me to believe it was a helpful book about coping with the dating life of a 50-something woman.  I intended to find an interesting story and hopefully some insight and maybe a little good advice along the way.  I had hoped to learn something.  What I learned is that I'm nothing like the people in this book.

The author tells the story with a great sense of humor.  If you can look at the entire story in a satirical light, you may actually enjoy it.  The target audience of this book is incredibly small, however.  This book is intended for air-headed, selfish, shallow people and those with little integrity.

If you're looking for a helpful book, this is not what you want.  If you're looking for a funny read where you can sit back and make fun of people, you could have a blast with this.

Singlehood by Wilson Awasu

Basically this book acts as a how-to for being single, feeling fulfilled while being single, and loving leaving singlehood. 

Normally, I only read nonfiction if it has a specific purpose in my life.  I was anxious to read this one for several reasons.  I'm single and feel perfectly fulfilled in this label.  My problem is the idea of leaving singlehood.  The thought of a relationship is terrifying to me. 

This book reads like a seminar.  Each chapter has a specific purpose along with questions and answers.  This is a faith-based seminar, so it may not be suitable for some people.  It's not just about being single, it's about being a Christian single.

From a personal perspective, I learned why I enjoy being single and what I can do about past traumas.  I also learned how to look for a life-mate and what exactly a life-mate is.  Before my first marriage, we attended pre-marital counseling sessions.  Most of the information we received there was faulty and I'm not surprised our marriage failed.

Here's the fascinating part.  This book isn't just for the single.  It explores marriage and what makes a successful or failed marriage.  There are tips to improved any relationship.  Also, there are suggestions for helping those who are single and struggling.

Attrition by SG Night

It is the 107th year of the Fourth Age.  Our conquerors, the Demonic Dominion, have solidified their rule over our homeland.  The Humans are in shackles.  The Eves are in exile.  And we, Io's proud Majiski pattle-mages, are standing at extinction's edge.  The mighty Grey Wall has sealed us all inside the Demons' cruelty...and after a hundred long years, the world beyond is all but forgotten.

The Genshwin are all that remain of the Majiski: just a few hundred survivors sequestered in an underground fortress-masters of shadow and steel.  In secret, they work against the Dominion.  But how much can three hundred Majiski really expect to accomplish?  Especially when their Patriarch is keeping more secrets than the Demons themselves.

Racath Thanjel is the best the Genshwin have to offer.  He's young, fast, strong, and brilliant...and constantly at odds with his Patriarch's rules of discretion.

But something's changed.  Soon, Racath finds himself swept up into a spider web of conspiracies, lost knowledge, and the prophetic pages of ancient scripture.  And now, all his hopes depend upon a girl with golden hair, an aging Majiski warrior, and a sword wrought by God himself... (taken from the back of the book)

I have to admit, I was a little intimidated beginning this book.  It's written by an 18-year-old, which makes you wonder about how well it will be written.  It's a thick book with small type.  No one is reading this in one sitting, unless you don't sleep.  Whenever you pick up a new author, there's always the chance that it'll be terrible and you'll have to force yourself through to the end.  In this case, 582 pages.  To recap, I was nervous.  This book is large and written by a 'kid'.

I'm an idiot!

From the first page I was covered in goose bumps.  This so-called 'kid' isn't merely a writer, he's a wordsmith.  I don't say this often, but Night was born to write.  It's that simple.  This book was pure perfection.

Night has created an entire new world with new races of people.  He has taken old classic 'monsters' and given them new life.  What could have been a droning, dull, confusing tale is actually a masterpiece.  You find yourself immediately immersed in this world and it's surrounding peoples and it's painless!  You don't have to think and process, you just exist there.  Each character becomes a piece of you at the moment of introduction.  You become immediately invested in not only each one, but their plight as well. 

The action!  Adventure!  I could see it all so clearly in my head!  The funny thing is, this wasn't as simple as reading a story and getting involved.  At least, not for me.  This has become a memory.  I was there.  I remember the sights, the smells, the tones of voice for each moment.  Feelings and emotions still pulsate with each memory. 

Earlier, I stated that Night is a wordsmith, and I want it known that I'm not exaggerating.  "Small sparks and static flitting between his upraised fingers.  The arcs were white, pale and bright.  They crackled and snapped, twisted, writhed, like a cosmic song and dance."  A few short sentences paints such a vivid and bright picture in your head.  You can actually see it.  Not only that, it just sounds pretty.  It's poetry.

This book is intended for the young adult, but I can't imagine any adult not loving this.  If fantasy and sci-fi seem a little overdone to you, seriously, give Night a shot.  He's taken classics and reworked them into brilliance.  I'f you're an action junkie, this book will surely deliver.  The drama, the passion, the magic.  If you're entertainment budget only allows for one book this year, make it this one.  It's going on the top shelf of my Keeper Shelf along with my favorite classics. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Last Neanderthal Clan by Lisa Lareau and Charlie Boring

The earth is warming after a long ice age.  As the topography changes, humanoid clans can travel where they have never gone before.  The Cro-Magnon clans, called the northern clans, and the Neanderthal clans, called the southern clans, now have an unprecedented opportunity to meet in each other's territories.  Many of the Cro-Magnon clans are cannibalistic, and have developed clan traditions that encourage hunting and killing Neanderthals.  The most dominant Cro-Magnon clan is the Nord clan.  Its leader, Carni, fathered a son with a Neanderthal woman, and left the woman and child with her clan.  Now, he leads the Nord clan in a quest to take Neanderthal slaves.  But Carni doesn't anticipate that his son, Raka, will inherit his own leadership skills to become head of the Neanderthal clan.  Determined to survive, Raka takes the remnants of his clan into the mountains to evade his dangerous father, and to find safe ground for his people. (taken from the back of the book)

My first response, before even cracking the spine, was 'Oh!  A caveman book!  How fun!'  I wasn't wrong!  This was a captivating and enjoyable read.  It's so much more than a 'caveman' book, however. 

The time period is absolutely fascinating.  Anyone who knows me is aware of my fascination with cannibals.  That was a huge bonus for me.  It was amazing how these tribes survived.  All of them, not just the cannibals.  They had to set up these clans and superstitions and reason led them to make decisions that we wouldn't make with the knowledge we have today.  There is no sense of security.  There is no 'home'.  It's the open field and movable tents and scavenging in order to eat.  It's praying that deities will protect you and let you live another day.  It's having to be the most intelligent and strong.  There's a sense of constant peril that follows you throughout the book.  It keeps you on your toes because anything can happen.

As for the characters, I found myself completely immersed in each generation.  Though this is Raka's story, it starts long before him.  The people are alive and you feel a kinship with them.  All of their hopes and fears are laid bare for you, as the reader, to grab onto and make your own.

Normally, I'm a dialogue junkie, but you'll not find dialogue here.  People communicate with each other in a different way.  It was actually calming to read without hearing voices in my head.

My only complaint with this book is Charlie.  No, not the author Charlie, but the low life Charlie who in fiction is writing the story.  Every time we stepped out of the Neanderthal world and back into today's society to found out how Charlie was doing on his research, I felt like I was being ripped out of my skin.  It doesn't happen too often, but I found it annoying and unnecessary.

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Pius Man by Declan Finn

As the head of Vatican security, Giovanni Figlia must protect a new, African Pope who courts controversy every other day.  The Pope's latest project is to make Pius XII, "Hitler's Pope," a saint.  Things haven't gotten better since the Pope employed American mercenary Sean Ryan.

Then a body fell onto the Vatican doorstep.

Soon, a pattern emerges-people who go into the Pius XII historical archives are dying.  Each time, a priest has been in the background-a priest close to the Pope.  One of the victims was an al-Qaeda operative, drawing Scott "Mossad" Murphy of Israeli intelligence to Rome.

Soon, Ryan, Murphy and Figlia must join forces to unravel the mystery around the Vatican, as even the man Giovanni is supposed to protect looks like a suspect.  To get out of this alive, they must discover if Hitler's Pope was a Nazi collaborator, or a pious man.

Sounds exciting, doesn't it?  And it certainly is, if you can get past the beginning.  There are just so many different people from so many different agencies and so very much information jammed into the beginning that it's difficult to stay focused.  Although all of the beginning information is necessary, it's trying to a reader who just wants to get to the story.  We start off with a big bang, literally, and then we're stuck in Information Overload Land for awhile.  Once we get out of there, we do find an exciting story that's fun to read, with characters that I eventually came to enjoy.

Though I wasn't in love with this book, I have to admit I'm impressed with Declan as an author.  He didn't just write the book, but has developed an entire fictitious world around it.  Several of the chapters have a website you can go to in order to learn more about a character or situation, or to simply read a short story.  It always ties in with the chapter that you've just read.  I love that Declan has taken his dedication to this world to the next level.  I am always certain that the next book will be far more enjoyable since we've already been introduced to the cast of characters.

For more information, visit Declan's Pius Man blog.  He has a wealth of information, not only on himself and the book, but on fascinating culture as well.  *insert Spock wave here*

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Effed Up by Russ Woody

Warning:  This is an adult book containing adult situations and adult language.  May not be suitable for children.  This means I wouldn't let my own children read it.  I honestly don't care whether you let your children read it or not. 

Robert Nirth is your average man.  His family, however, is not.  There is some sort of mental illness running through his family.  The bright side is that they're mostly just plain funny.  The downside is that people are getting hurt.  That isn't so funny.  With the passing of his father, Robert is now the only sane person in his family.  How will he cope with it all on his own?

I can't remember the last time a book was written so well that it brought such genuine emotion.  I found myself laughing out loud, wiping away tears and I even punched my computer desk once in anger.  Don't worry, neither myself nor my computer desk were harmed in the making of the review. 

Robert's life is definitely not a dream, but he copes with it using sarcasm and laughter.  None of us has an easy life.  The trick is being able to laugh about it.  At times, it's difficult, but Robert has a true talent for it.  Despite what life has handed him, he's determined to be happy and not harm others.  He's a good man full of compassion and joy.  He's just trampled by a family that insists on complicating life and forcing chaos into it.

Imagine you're at the bar having a beer with your best friend.  The atmosphere is light and friendly.  He starts to tell you a story.  At first, it's hilarious.  By the end, you're sucked in the story and you don't want it to end, but you realize you've drunk yourself sober and you can't stop thinking.

I strongly suggest that those who stick mostly to Christian fiction or non-fiction not read this.  It's nothing personal, but I believe you would be offended.  For those men out there who don't read but have thought about starting, this is definitely the book you want to begin with.  For everyone else, keep an open mind and fasten your seatbelt.  Just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Brooklyn Love by Yael Levy

I'm going to review this book a bit differently than I normally do, mostly because I'm disappointed in the other reviews I've read of this book.  Instead of just giving my own thoughts, I want to delve a little deeper and explain them, as well as why I'm disappointed in some of the reviews.  Before I do, I want to state that I only read reviews of a book after I've read it, so that it doesn't color my reading experience at all.

This book is about the stories of 3 young Orthodox Jewish women.  They're all three attempting to find their places in the world, and in relationships.  With family, religious and peer pressures upon them, this is a difficult task.  All three women must decide which direction their lives will go in and how strongly their willing to fight for their own freedoms and choices. 

My disappointment with some of the reviews comes with the fact that several of them completely missed the point.  This book is not about Orthodox Jews.  There is no conversion attempt here.  No religion is being typecast here.  There are several different families that have different versions of what being an Orthodox Jew is.  It's portrayed in several ways.  Every religion has it's own set of suggestions/rules.  Every parent has it's own set of suggestions/rules.  Every peer group has it's own set of suggestions/rules.  There is no attack on Orthodox Jews.  There is no specific love for Orthodox Jews.  They just happen to be the religion of the main characters in the book.  Those who are avoiding this book due to the religious content and what's being said, don't.  Read it for yourself and look past what others are saying.  There's a valuable story here meant for everyone if you're able to do that.

Now that that's off my chest, I'd like to take a look at the actual story.  We have a set of very different friends.  One comes from loving, yet semi-strict parents that are financially secure and moral.  Another comes from a single parent home that is extremely strict and lonely.  Another comes from a loving and sweet home but has issues of her own to deal with.  They have distinct personalities and hopes and dreams.  Not only do they all have different goals, but they have designed different means of achieving them.  Sound familiar? 

These girls are battling the same thing that all young people do.  How does love fit into life?  What do they want as far as a career?  What obstacles will they have to overcome?  Can they remain tight friends and still achieve their goals?

Amid heartbreak, violence, destruction, misunderstanding, criminal activity, and a myriad of other obstructions, these girls give it their all to do the one thing we all strive to do:  survive and be happy.  Some will succeed and some will fail, but they give it all they've got.

This book isn't just about three girls looking for romance.  It's about the daily struggle we all have to find happiness and harmony in our lives.  If you can get past the other reviews and read this with an open heart, you just might find something tangible for your soul contained in this story. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Centrum Multivitamin Chews Free Sample

Most of you are familiar with Centrum Multivitamins, but what you may not know is that recently they've introduced vitamin chews!  I was a little skeptical.  Sure, I loved Flintstone vitamins as a kid.  They tasted great!  But as an adult, I can still remember the vitamin taste that I just wasn't bright enough to taste as a child.  These are different!  I kid you not, they taste like Skittles!  Alright, in all fairness, I only tried the grape, but they taste and chew just like Skittles!  Run over to Centrum and request a free sample.  They'll also send along a coupon!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Hidden by Thomas Hall

Shortly after the untimely death of his wife, Jonathan Allen is now faced with the abduction of his son.  With local police, FBI and a few good 'men' on his side, it's a race against time to get his son back.  Once they figure out the abduction is most likely linked to a child pornography ring, it opens up a whole new world filled with non-leads.

Usually when a book is labeled as suspense, I scoff.  I don't just scoff, I scooooooooff.  It takes a lot to put me in suspense mode.  Perhaps most people are easier, but I freely admit that I'm a difficult girl.  This book is adequately labeled suspense.  I couldn't tear my eyes away from the screen long enough to eat or sleep.  I had to know what was going to happen next and as the bodies started to pile up and I thought I might be unraveling the entire mystery, something new would pop in to keep my on my toes.  Some of the mystery I was able to figure out ahead of time but the rest of it kept slamming into me.  It truly was me reading a suspense book.  I was held from the beginning until the epilogue.  I can't wait to see what happens next!

Another new for me, I found myself horrified and scared.  I kept imagining if this were happening to my own son and I couldn't help myself. 

It was amazing to watch the way that the different investigators worked together.  One would have a lead or a hunch and the rest would jump right in.  I found it ideal and surprising, but definitely realistic.

As for the child pornography, this is a new area for me that I've read little about.  Though there are a few graphic images described, it doesn't go overboard.  We get just enough to inflame our anger and outrage to make us really have feelings for the 'bad guys' here.  When justice is meted out, in whatever form it happens to come, I found myself feeling overwhelmed that the world was a little more righted again. 

This may be difficult for some people to read, simply because of the fact that it does deal in child pornography.  Those that believe they can get past that though, it really was a wonderful read.  The storytelling kept me entranced and I found myself engrossed in another world.  Not only suspense, but surprise and fascinating hounded me through my reading.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Hope Rises from the Ashes by L.F. Falconer

Collie's journey into adulthood was met with tragic consequences when she defied society to follow her heart.  In this sequel to "Hope Flies on Broken Wings," Collie attempts to escape the haunting memories of the worst night in her young life.  Fearing a lifetime of heartbreak and shame, she leaves her seaside homeland of Donnel to seek refuge in the Tillaman Realm beyond the eastern mountains.  But she soon finds herself wishing she'd never left home when she becomes hopelessly entangled in a dangerous game of possession and jealousy between two Tillaman warriors and the women who desire them.  Has a reluctance to part with her merman scale charm bound her into a prison of her own making?  Or will a gift from the sea be her salvation?  (taken from the back of the book)

First, let's start off with the fact this is a sequel.  I haven't read the first book, but having read this one, I wish I had.  Don't get me wrong.  This stands alone perfectly fine.  There's just enough information to keep you from being confused without it becoming redundant.  The main reason I wish I'd read the first book is that I enjoyed this one so much.  It's kind of like getting to watch the second season of a television show you fall in love with.  You have to go back and watch the first season in order to find out what all you've missed.

I don't have any complaints here.  The characters are great.  You care about them from the beginning and feel a connection with them.  The storytelling factor is great.  It's easy to get swept away and not want to return to reality.  It flows smoothly to the point that you don't even realize you've nearly finished it until you flip the last page wondering how you possibly read the entire thing already.  It has great escape quality.  It has a wonderful other worldly factor.  There are politics and religion, but not enough to bore you, just enough to keep you intrigued.  Honestly, I can't find a single thing wrong with this book.

Now, let me tell you what I loved.  This book has great 'BAM!' factor.  You're reading along and the scene is set and you think you know the direction it's going to take, when all of a sudden BAM!  You're wrong.  Something insane has happened that makes complete sense, but you totally didn't see it coming.  I despise cookie cutter writing.  The main reason is that it's predictable and dull.  I like an exciting read where the writer can take me somewhere and I can't see the future, I can only guess.  Then, "BAM!  I was wrong!  I had no idea that would happen!  Well, what's going to happen next?  Holy Crow!  Did that really just happen?"  You get so excited reading that you find yourself bouncing up and down in your seat because it's just so thrilling!  Falconer is a genius at this.  It's an amazing escape from reality with the truth of reality still being vibrantly alive.  One moment we're in a sweet, loving scene and the next the blood is flowing freely!  There are a few gruesome scenes, but they aren't over the top.  The purpose isn't to gross you out, it's more because that's what happened in Falconer's head.  That's simply where the story went.  There's just enough to give you a shock factor.

A surprisingly well-done book.  I'll happily review the first in the series, L.F.!  *hint hint*  For those of you who like a touch of everything and a whole lot of excitement, this is a great read.  It's fast-paced and enjoyable.  Don't let the book cover fool you! 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Brood X by Michael Phillip Cash

Seth is laid off from work.  His wife Lara just found out they are expecting a baby this summer.  Seth plans on documenting the entire pregnancy with his brand new digital camcorder.

During an evening home watching television, the news reports that a swarm of cicada (Brood Ten) are expected to overwhelm the entire Northeast.

Brood Ten is vicious and ready to invade.

During a sweltering summer night, Brood Ten emerges and wreaks havoc with the electric grid, phone and cell service, Wi-Fi, food and water supply.  Civilization as they know it is gone.

Seth and Lara are thrown back to the stone age in their own home with trillions of cicada trying to deposit their eggs and breed.  (taken from the back of the book)

Oh my gosh!  This book was so much fun!  We have horribly stupid characters that just can't seem to figure out what they're doing.  The first half of the book I just wanted to climb in and pull a ninja *slap slap slap*  move on each one of them!  They aren't annoying, just really fun to dislike.  I found myself sitting there cursing out loud at them randomly. 

As the story goes on, the cicadas arrive and our beautiful group of idiots begin to realize just how not bright they are.  That's when things really get fun!  We get blood and guts and more delicious idiocy!  And it's all written with this amazing vividness! 

The first book of Cash's that I read was Stillwell.  I enjoyed it, but it didn't wow me.  Brood X was a blast from start to finish.  I stopped thinking and sat back and cursed and ate popcorn and laughed with glee when the blood began to fly. 

Brood X isn't a book, it's an experience. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Stillwell by Michael Phillip Cash

Paul Russo's wife just died.  While trying to get his family's life back in order, Paul is being tormented by a demon who is holding his wife's spirit hostage on the other side.  His fate is intertwined with an old haunted mansion on the north shore of Long Island called Stillwell Manor.  Paul must find clues dating back hundreds of years to set his wife's soul free.  (taken from the back of the book)

I was really excited to pick this book up for one main reason.  Cash just seems like such a nice guy!  I know it's prejudiced of me, but I definitely prefer nice authors and I always want to adore their books.  It doesn't always work out that way, but the friendly people make me want to move their books to the top of the list.  Of course, my review, as always, will be open and honest. 

Having recently watched Insidious, I found myself having that same 'Twilight Zone, what's going to happen next?'  feeling.  There's a haunting and mystical feel to the book that sucks you right in.  You can actually hear that creepy lulling music in the background of your mind as you're reading. 

Some of the characters are brilliant.  I wasn't in love with all of them, and a few fell flat for me.  The children and Gloria, the psychic, were wonderfully created.  They though were bit players, I longed to know more about each of them.  Paul, the main character, wasn't a favorite of mine.  That actually worked in favor of the book though because if I had been crazy about him, I would have spent most of the book angry at him for being so silly sometimes. 

My only complaint about the book is the predictability factor.  I'm sorry, Cash, but I have to be honest.  I don't want to post any spoilers, but I knew the end before it happened.  It didn't take anything away from my reading experience though.  Just because I knew what was going to happen, didn't mean I knew how it was going to happen and there were a few surprises thrown at me.  This was only during the mystery portion of the story though.  The supernatural portion kept me in suspense as well as the coping factor of all of the characters.

What I love most about this book is that it takes place over the course of a week.  It's separated into days.  At the end of each day I found myself thinking 'Wow!  What an exhausting day!'  and at the beginning of each day I found myself excited to see what the new day would bring.  It was like living life vicariously through Paul.  Even though I didn't like him, his life was interesting!

Those of you who love stories of demons, possession, hauntings and anything of the supernatural sort will enjoy this read.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Dog Soldier Moon by McKendree Long

In this sequel to his novel, No Good Like It Is, McKendree Long continues the saga of Dobey Walls and Jimmy "Boss" Melton during the three years following the Civil War.  In Dog Soldier Moon, a great crime decimates the tiny Panhandle community of Canadian Fort, twisting relationships and putting Dobey and the Boss on a trail of retribution and frontier justice, yet unaware that they are targets of two Pinkerton teams.  Black Kettle, Meotzi, the 'Boy General' Custer, and J.B. Hickok flesh out the cast in this all new classic tale.  (taken from the back of the book)

Having read and reviewed No Good Like It Is, I was really excited when McKendree asked me to review Dog Soldier Moon.  Even though it's been a couple of years, I remembered the excitement and joy I got from reading the first book.  Plus, the author is a heck of a nice guy and it's always a joy working with him.  So it was with much anticipation that I cracked this one open, knowing full well that no book can live up to the hype I'd already built in my brain for it.

My already beloved characters were returned to me, along with some new ones that I quickly came to love as well.  Coming from a time when men were men, I found myself intrigued by their roughness and wit.  Hurt a man's woman, and there will be Hell to pay.  The women are tough as nails, too, but also so sweet and loving that you can't help but adore them.  New to this book is Shelly, and I don't know how I ever got along without her!

I think Dog Soldier Moon actually surpasses the first book and it is definitely alright as a stand alone book.  McKendree's sense of humor is found throughout the book and there were several 'laugh out loud' funny parts.  Read the first chapter and you'll be hooked!  On the other hand, there are some really raw, violent scenes as well.  There were a couple of times I had to stop reading because I was imagining the scenes too intensely and needed a few seconds of a break from it.  If you're squeamish, you may want to skim a few parts. 

Though this is fictional history, it's so easy to get sucked in and enjoy it for what it is, a great read.  You also may learn a little something along the way.  Whether you like horror, drama, romance, or just good old 'cowboys and Indians', there's something in this book for you.  Even though I had convinced myself that it couldn't live up to the hype I'd built up in my brain, it surpassed my expectations.  I'm waiting patiently for McKendree to finish the third book in the series.

For more information on McKendree Long, please visit his website and feel free to leave him a comment.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Darkness Lies in Winter Giveaway!

Recently, I posted a review for Darkness Lies in Winter by Ariana Wood.  First, I was wrong on the release date, and I apologize!  It's available now!  The author, being the sweetheart she is, is giving away 3 copies of her e-book to people who 'like' her Facebook author page!  All you have to do to enter is go here, and press that little thumbs up button!  She'll choose the winners on September 13th!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Alternate Currents by Arleen Alleman

Author Darcy Farthing is living in DC with her fiancé, Mick Clayton, enjoying a much needed respite.  As they prepare for a wedding and a romantic cruise, they find out that a good friend, Charlie Scott, has mysteriously disappeared.  Against Mick's wishes and without much thought of consequences, Darcy flies to Seattle to help Charlie's partner, Don Freeburg, and daughter, Penelope, cope with their loss.  She finds that a prior well-intentioned decision about parenthood has sparked a series of tragic events, which threatens to destroy a parent-child bond.  Eager to help, Darcy plummets into the unfamiliar world of domestic partnerships, surrogates, and assisted reproductive technology.  While the police and FBI are still trying to solve Charlie's kidnapping, Penelope also vanishes.  Detectives implicate a local clergyman, a birth-mother, and a radical author, but can find no proof of guilt.  When Darcy tries to apply her investigative skills to the baffling case she sustains a vicious attack by an unbalanced killer.  Mick rushes to her side and as  the mystery is finally solved he also becomes a victim of vengeance and madness.  (taken from the back of the book)

Alternate Currents is the fourth book in Alleman's series, following Current Assets, Currents of Vengeance and Currents Deep and Deadly.  If you've read any of the other books, you're already a Darcy fan and know to pick up this book to continue with the sage.

Since I haven't read the other books, it was a little different for me reading this.  Arleen did an amazing job referencing the earlier books.  We know that there was some trauma having to do with cruise ships before this, but instead of rehashing everything for those that have read the books, she gives us just enough to keep us wondering.  Personally, it was just enough to make me want to pick up the other books and find out exactly what did happen!  If you've read the previous ones, you won't find the references here annoying or in over abundance.  If you haven't read them, it'll simply pique your curiosity.

The characters are actually pretty entertaining.  I found myself enjoying a few of them even though I didn't have the rapport that was most likely built during the initial books.  I liked them well enough, but at the end, when neat little bowties are made, I found myself feeling like things were dragging.  It was sort of like getting updates on people I didn't care about.  I have no doubt that if I go back and read the first 3 books first and then reread this one, I'll find each of those ending tidbits fascinating.

Now for my favorite part of reviewing a mystery, reviewing the mystery!  I hate when I can figure everything out before the author reveals it, and Arleen definitely led me on a wild chase!  One moment I was certain I knew the culprit and then the next I was certain it was someone else!  I had so much fun just trying to figure out who was the bad guy and who was just a jerk and who was misunderstood and I have to admit, I didn't see it coming.  Once things began to unravel, I found myself riveted and just waiting for the rest of the explanation.  It all makes sense and ties together nicely.

If you're looking for an enjoyable, thrilling mystery, this very well could be the book for you.  Personally, I putting the rest of the series on my 'to read' list and then I'm going to reread this one.  Though it stands alone just fine, I really feel like building a little more history with the characters would make it even more enjoyable.  For more information on Alleman's work or to see her book tour, please check out her website

Darkness Lies in Winter by Ariana Wood

Though Victoria's life appears picture perfect from the outside, no one knows what it's really like on the inside. Her father is a callous, yammering cad. Her mother grows more distant and ill with each passing day. When her older brother's attempt to be like their father begins to fail, he turns to drugs. And then there's her baby brother, Bradley. He's a sweet boy that can't help that he's just a little different.
Victoria seems to be getting a handle on things until the unthinkable happens: Her mother suddenly dies. Victoria is tossed into a world of survival for not only herself, but for her little brother as well. But, how high will the price of her sacrifices be? Will she ever be able to have a life of her own?  (taken from the back of the book)
I'm not normally a drama person, but I just couldn't put this one down.  Ariana has a great way of storytelling that keeps you flipping page after page, even after the first read through. 
For me, the biggest draw to this book is Ariana's talent for creating characters that I love to hate.  All of the characters are fascinating and well-rounded.  You care about them from the moment the story begins.  As the villains surface, though, you can't help but grab them and hold them tightly to you so that you can despise them as long as possible. 
Darkness Lies in Winter will be released on Amazon only September 3rd.  Whether you're a drama person or not, this book will provide you with a great escape and is definitely worth checking out.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Pretty Ugly by Barbara M. Barnes

In Barbara's book, she tells us personal true-to-life stories.  Most of these don't frame her life in a flattering light.  The point of sharing them is to show us how she overcame adversity and low self-esteem and how we can do the same.  We also get a few of Barbara's poems and a glimpse into the next book she's working on. 

Now for my personal thoughts!

Barbara is a fascinating woman who I'm so glad I've met!  E.Y.E.S. is an acronym for Eventually You'll Emerge Stronger.  Barbara is the CEO and Founder of the organization.  It's a self-esteem and self-empowerment group.  She is a certified life coach and motivational speaker.  My favorite Barbara quote is:  'If you feel that there is no one that loves must take up the slack!'

Barbara's stories are heartfelt and sincere and they aren't always pretty.  She allows us into her life by showing us exactly what she was thinking and feeling in those moments.  They're wonderfully written and most of the time you can actually hear her talking to you in her humorous voice.  I could even see the hand gestures!  Such vivid writing!

There are also several spots in the book where pertinent factual information has been inserted.  You can find anything from statistics to emergency hotline information. 

For more information about E.Y.E.S., please click the link. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

So, it's been quite awhile!  I didn't think I'd ever be pulling Litter out of the 'sleeping pile' but here I am!  Life has finally slowed down to the point that I can re-enter the world of reviewing and blogging and I'm excited about it!  I've got some great giveaways coming up soon and I look forward to reconnecting with my blogger world!  Stay tuned this month as I slowly start to pull everything back together and get going again.  In the meantime, be patient with me!  I've been gone for years! 

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.


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.