Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Reluctant Jesus by Duncan Whitehead


The year is 1999 and the millennium is fast approaching.  Baseball fan and thirty two year old confirmed bachelor and architect, Seth Miller, is content with his life, as long as the Yankees win and his mother stays away from his Greenwich Village apartment.  Seth's life though, is turned upside down when he is informed by his overbearing and over protective mother, that he is actually God's youngest son; and by default the second coming of Christ.

Initially convinced that his parents are crazy, his thoughts of their committal to a suitable care facility are superseded when he receives an unsolicited telephone call from God himself.  With Armageddon fast approaching, and due to some poor editing and proof reading of the Bible, Seth must assume the role of Christ and fight God's corner in the 'Final Conflict' between good and evil.  Despite his initial reluctance and attempts to shirk his new responsibilities, God is insistent and Seth is cajoled into undertaking the role of Messiah.  (taken from the back of the book)

If you are offended by the title of the book and/or the description, stop reading right now.  Don't pick up the book.  Simply move on to the next thing.

Now, if you're intrigued like I was, sit back and relax because this is going to be an unusual trip.

Before reading, preparations must be made.  Make sure you're fully rested, the babysitter is handy, and your phone is fully charged and sitting in your lap.  Now, you may proceed.

This is unlike anything I've ever read.  From the moment I picked it up, I was slack-jawed and captivated.  You know that look you get when the most dull person you've ever heard makes the funniest joke ever?  That's the expression I wore throughout the entire book.  Duncan is anything but dull, though.  It's just surprisingly funny.  Just when you think things can't possibly get any odder, they do!  You find yourself entertained and confused and it's just wonderful fun!

I got a great workout while reading this book.  I can't tell you how many trips I made to my son's room or to find where I'd left my phone.  Some things have to be shared as they're experienced.  You read a section and you're so shocked and surprised that you just can't contain it.  You have to tell someone else.  An entire line of people are waiting to read this book since I've plagued each of them with random parts of it.  It's preposterous and possible at the same time.  

My worry with this book is that there will be some out there that consider it blasphemy.  Take it for what it is.  It's an entertaining 'what if' story.  Entertaining doesn't quite cover it.  Though there are some laugh out loud funny parts, most of it is an experience.  Duncan has a way of making the most impossible seem plausible and you're left shaking your head in wonder.  

Take a few hours from your life to share with Seth.  You'll find failed miracles, talking animals and even some Space Invaders.  Seth isn't the Messiah that God planned him to be, but just wait until you meet the anti-Christ.   Things are not what they seem and just when you think you have a handle on it, the rug will be pulled out from under you.  Actually, that's a lie.  There is no point in the story when you think you have it all figured out.  

Personal Note:  Duncan, you didn't just make me smile, you made me grin and made me fall in love with your work.  Thank you so much for sharing with me :) I can't wait to see what's up next :)

Dads of Disability by Gary Dietz



Before you begin, let me say that this is the most difficult book I've ever read and reviewed.  Also, I'd like to apologize ahead of time because this will be a personal post as well as a review, and chances are it may end up a little lengthy.

Children.  Whether you have them or not, you have some in your life.  They're our future.  They're our purpose.  For most of us, the reason we get out of bed each face each day is in the hopes of making a better life for those little bodies.  They bring us grief and joy and make us look at the world in a whole new way.

From the moment of realization that a child is about to come into the world, people start to dream.  He'll be a famous football player. She's going to be a chess wiz.  My twins will be the first to co-president the United States.  We build up these ideas in our head of what our children will be.  We think of what we will teach them.  We plan.  We plot.  We fantasize about all the wonders that are about to invade our future.

But...what happens when the vision isn't what you planned?  The lawyer that you planned on having has been born nonverbal.  That football player you dreamed up will never step foot on solid ground and needs help just getting into his wheel chair every day.  That baby that you spent months waiting to just hold and smell and kiss is in an incubator and won't gain weight.  Touching your baby could cause the end of their life.  What happens when the dream is shattered before it even begins?

I can tell you from experience and years of therapy and research.  We have to mourn the death of our dream child so that we can embrace the life of the one that we've been given.  It's one of the most difficult things to do as a parent.  Some people are able to do this quickly and others never reach this stage.  

The most recent testing that I've read states that one in every four children is born with some form of Autism.  That's just one disability.  Most of us are familiar with Down Syndrome.  There are so many more disabilities that we aren't informed of.  Extra chromosomes can form on any strand of DNA.  It can also be that a chromosome is missing or mutilated.  There's brain damage.  Physical deformities.  This is still just scratching the surface.  

Having a special needs person in your life is difficult.  Yes, it's definitely rewarding and worth every second.  It presents challenges that are hard to face for the simple fact that they're unexpected.  Each day brings something new and you don't always know how to cope.  It's hard for people to give you support if they haven't lived with it because they simply can't understand what you're going through.  It's hard to get help even with a babysitter because people will be frightened.  What if they don't take the proper care of your child and something happens?  What if they don't know how to handle a melt down?  One of the children I met was a year old baby with Trisomy 18.  This child had spent his entire life in a hospital and would never be allowed to know what a home is.  His parents and siblings obviously had to make great sacrifices in order to give this baby the best life possible under the circumstances. 

Dads of Disabilities is a compilation of stories that Gary has put together.  Some are written by him, some are by other men, and some are even written about men but by women.  Each one has a common thread.  It's the story of a man who is having to deal with one of the realities of having a child with a disability.  

The reason this was so difficult for me to read is that each story hit me hard, in my heart.  I've lived through nearly every one of these scenarios.  After reading each one, I had to take some time to absorb what I'd read and take a little time to...well to heal.  Just knowing that someone else has gone through the same trials and knowing that they've felt the same feelings is overwhelming.  Having the support of some person you've never met can mean the world.  Knowing you aren't the only parent that's ever burst into tears when someone begins to show pictures of their children in their sports gear. I found myself crying as I read each story.  Don't get me wrong.  This isn't a sad book at all.  It's actually incredibly uplifting.  The reason I found myself crying was not what you'd expect.  After a trauma, once your body relaxes, and the shock wears off, crying is the next stage.  That's what it was like for me.  Each story that I read and absorbed and took the time to feel helped a little of the shock on my heart to wear off.  I could feel the weight and heaviness lifting from my soul.  

For me, this book was a tool of healing and faith.  My story is different from yours.  It may not serve the same purpose for you.  I imagine that for most of you it will become one of the most valuable tools for support.  Just the reminder that you aren't alone can be all it takes to restore your sanity some days.  It's not an easy road.  It's far more exciting than most roads, but it's not easy.  Every bit of help you get will smooth the way a little bit.

If you have a special needs child, I can't imagine not having this book.  I can't tell you the difference that it has made in me.  I  know I've been typing for quite awhile, but I really can't stress the changes in me.  Those that are closest to me have noticed that my heart has begun to thaw in all areas.  It doesn't matter if you're a mom or a dad.  This book has a story you need to read in it.  You may not go through the same situations, but I guarantee you or your spouse will go through similar ones.  Being able to understand what you're each coping with will be one of the most valuable tools in working together to keep your family as strong as possible.  

I can hear some of you out there saying you don't have a special needs child and don't know any and so this book has no significance to you.  Wrong.  Believe it or not, this isn't just about special needs children.  It's about the fact that our children aren't always what we imagine they'll be and we have to learn who they are and embrace it.  It's about that as parents we have emotions that we sometimes feel guilty about, but it's normal.  It's about people helping people to get through the hardships of life.  Just having that one person you can call and cry with when your nine year old child says their first word. Or, you may be the person who ends up with the parent of a disabled child who's have a mini breakdown.  Unless you understand where they're coming from, there's no right way to handle it.  It can be shocking and scary.  There's no such thing as being too informed or too aware, especially when it comes to your fellow man.

Now, I want to assure you that there are lots of possibilities for support and if one fails, please go to the next one.  Don't feel that it's hopeless and you're in this alone.  There are family and friends.  Many communities have support groups set up and you can make a simple phone call to find out how to get in touch with these.  There's always therapy or counseling or your local pastor.  For me, this book is such a valuable tool because it's right there when you need it.  It's sort of your guidebook.  If it's 3 AM and you have to be up for work in 2 hours and once again your child simply can't sleep, you're alone and don't want to wake anyone, simply grab it and give it a read.  It'll remind you that you aren't alone and that others have been blazing this trail.  You're just helping them to widen it for the future generations.

On a personal note:  Gary, thank you for being so patient with me during this.  What I thought would be a simple read and review really wasn't and I appreciate your understanding.  Also, I apologize for underestimating the power of your project :)

Impetus by Scott Sullivan


When the world first heard about the meteorites, it was already too late. 

Ten arduous years later, Mick and his small group of eight had adapted to the new way of things. With no clean running water, power, or forms of communication, the Earth went backward, taking with it almost everything they held dear. Survivors like Mick were forced to do the best they could with what they had. Because in the post-Impact world, alternatives were a luxury that no one could afford. 


Now a deadly virus promises to finish the job the space rocks failed to. 


With the clock ticking down on their lives, Mick will navigate the deceitful webs spun by those that oppose his drive for salvation. And along his quest to prevent another catastrophe, Mick will rediscover what it truly means to be human. (taken from Amazon description)


This is the first book that I've read by Scott, but I can guarantee it won't be the last.  There's a great reason why people are giving it five star reviews.  It's excellent.


The best part of this book for me, is that I forgot I was reading.  I was a spare person in this torn-apart world, an unnamed character myself.  I became so lost that I forgot it wasn't real.  I was merely the reader of a story.  Along with everyone else, I was waiting breathlessly to see what cruel thing life would throw at me next. I was hopeful, heartsick and infuriated at the injustice.


Also, I was really impressed by the 'wholesome' storytelling.  You'll find no swear words here.  You'll find no lewd sex scenes.  You'll find no gratuitous violence.  Scott's world is real and raw.  The story itself is shocking. It's about desperation and hope.  It's human nature at both its best and worst.  He didn't know to throw in any shock factors because the world he's created has enough of everyone to satisfy even the most avid adventure seeker.  The overpowering emotion and dire circumstances easily upstage any 'shock factor' I've encountered in a book.


It's difficult to convey in words, sometimes, exactly what I want to explain.  To simplify, think Walking Dead without the zombies.  We have strongly-built people, not just characters, but people.  We have a dystopian society in a cruel and harsh world, just trying their best to survive.  This was a three thumbs up read for me (yes, I borrowed a hand!) and I look forward to reading more.  This is an author for my keeper shelf.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Flip by Michael Phillip Cash


Reviewed by Carrie Anne

Julie and Brad Evans are house flippers.  They buy low, clean out the old occupant's junk, and try to make a profit.  Enter Hemming's House on Bedlam Street in scenic Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island.  Too good a deal to pass up, but with an ominous secret.  The old Victorian mansion has dwellers that do not want to be dispossessed.  As the house reveals its past, will the couple's marriage survive The Flip?  (taken from the back of the book)

This is the first book I've read by Michael Phillip Cash, but it definitely won't be my last.  I love a good horror story, good mysteries, and historical fiction.  This had it all - even romance- in an easy to pick up, quick to read story.

The characters were instantly recognizable and relatable.  Who hasn't gotten in over their head on a project, finding they aren't themselves under stress?  Of course, I doubt most of us have ghosts interfering!  In this case, we even know how the ghosts feel, a new twists on the horror genre.  I say  horror, but there's no gore, though the interactions between ghost and human are rather disturbing.

The descriptions of the home, and the secret treasures within, will make you want to start flipping, too, especially if you can find a home with hidden rooms and boxes of forgotten stuff.  How exciting!

I've already recommended this book.  I enjoyed it that much!  I'm also looking for a little input on the end of the book.  There are characters called the Sentinels that seem to be helping the ghosts move on, but I'm wondering if there's more to their story?  I'm even thinking about re-reading the book to see if I missed something, but it would be worth it.  It's not a story I want to just set aside and shrug my shoulders about.  I'd love your opinion if you decide to read it, too.
 

The Romantic by Hudson Owen



Reviewed by Carrie Anne

When I sat down to write this review, I read a few others first.  One of the other reviewers praised the magnificent cover of the book.  Unfortunately, my copy didn't even have that going for it.

Sebastian Cloud is a gladiator, though not in the ancient Roman coliseum.  He's in a futuristic world where he's fighting for his freedom.  Along the way, he crosses the wrong fellow and also falls for his wife, Virginia.  The story picks up as they fight to stay together as they fight to get away.

I am not a fan of long descriptive sentences, And this book had no trouble with that!  In fact, the narrative was so sparse, it didn't really grab my interest.  It's hard to develop a relationship with characters with so little to base it on.  Thankfully, there were a few humorous moments thrown in, and enough action to propel the story forward, even if it wasn't the kind I'm interested in.

I also got frustrated with scenes, such as the opening of the book, that just didn't seem to fit in.  Sebastian was in a virtual reality love scene in the past, thus the title of The Romantic.  Though he falls in love with Virginia, the opening felt disconnected, unnecessary.

While this wasn't my favorite story, it was short, 75 pages, and entertained me for an evening.  If you like futuristic action/love stories, you may want to give it a try.  Just try to find a copy with a cover.


Park Avenue to Park Bench by Michael Domino

"There are no problems only solutions."  -Michael Domino

Domino thrives in Manhattan.  He isn't just a writer.  He's a people watcher.  No, he's more than that.  He interacts.  He acts.

In this book, Michael tells short stories of his life.  We get to meet some really interesting characters and gain great insight  not only into who Michael really is, but into human nature as well.

That's seriously over simplifying it.

We all have those people that we see every day and don't interact with.  The guy who stands at the corner puffing on a cigarette.  The lady with the four lady children at the bus stop.  That short person in accounting who always looks angry.  Most of the time, we avoid these people.  We look at them, sometimes with sympathy or interest, but most of the time we don't even notice them.  When we do, we steer clear.  They're going to want something from us.  They might want to bum a cigarette or need a babysitter or want someone to hear all the negativity going on in our lives.  We have busy lives and our own problems to attend to.  I'm not judging.  I do the same thing, although I do usually wind up feeling a bit guilty for it when I realize it.

Michael Domino is different.  He realizes that every person has a story and he's eager to find out what it is.  Not only that, he's eager to share the burden to make someone's life easier.  He's not even always in charge.  Sometimes he stops and speaks to someone before he even realizes the words have been uttered.  Once he's engaged himself, though, he can't simply walk away.  He becomes involved.  He gives time and attention to someone who needs it.  Let's face it.  We all need it.  Domino takes the most precious gift that we've all been given and he gives it to others.  He shares his time.  To him, it's an afternoon on a park bench or a few minutes directing traffic.  To the person on the receiving end, it's a lifeline and a blessing.

That's what this book is.  It's a compilation of some of those people that Domino has met and involved himself with.  It's a bonus that he's a writer.  Each story is entertaining and interesting as well as pulling you into a world of thought.  Even if you just want a good way to while away a little time by immersing yourself in someone else's world, this is a great place to be.  Though there are lots of great lessons and so much interesting tidbits to study, you can just as easily sit back and tune out and enjoy.

The best part is that Michael is currently offering a FREE download of this book.  All you have to do is go to parkavenuetoparkbench.com and click on the little button.  If you think of it, leave him a message and say 'Hello!' while you're there!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Stop the Torment by Joyce Lillis

I am confused.

I picked this book up, believing that it was centered around teaching myself how to listen to my physical body for my nutritional needs.  Not only how to teach myself when I'm actually hungry, but training myself to listen to what foods my body actually needs.  Since this is something I've been working on as sort of a personal goal, I was excited to gain some insight.

Instead, I found several chapters on dieting, the history of dieting, and the reasons we eat incorrectly.  There are lots of personal stories inserted.  It was...entertaining and interesting.

I'm afraid I may have read and studied the book incorrectly because what I found inside, wasn't at all what I was looking for.  There are tools about learning how to tell when you're actually hungry and dealing with it, but nothing about learning what your body actually needs to eat.  Instead I found chapter after chapter of people who are doing the metabolism reset diet to lose the weight, while receiving therapy for their eating habits, and then choosing a different diet once they've reached their goal weight.

The part that really confuses me is that the book is supposed to be about not listening to your inner food voice.  You know what that is.  It's the little part of your brain that rationalizes about everything you eat.  I read repeatedly how dangerous that little food voice can be.  Then, however, I'm told that when a person fluctuates a few pounds, they just make an effort to make healthier choices and skip that bread or piece of cake until they're back where they want to be.  To me, the untrained eye, that appears to be still rationalizing what you eat instead of listening to your body.

There are some really interesting tidbits in here that shouldn't be missed, especially if nutrition and your weight are important to you.  Chapters ten and eleven are definites.  Chapter ten talks about nutrition for the body, and not just the type we consume.  Chapter eleven goes over metabolism.  We learn not only what it is, but how it functions.  Throughout the rest of the book, some of it honestly seems like a sales pitch, but if you can get around that, there's quite a bit to learn about your own relationship with food and the psychology behind diet and exercise.

Part Two of the book makes everything more personal by having you ask yourself a series of questions and really analyze your habits and your relationship with food.  If you're willing to take the time to eat nothing but grapefruit for two weeks, then take the time to read and fill out this section.  You WILL learn something about yourself, regardless of whether it leads you to losing weight or not.

Jackie by John Tammela


Jackie is based upon Tammela's experiences growing up.  It's the story of a sweet little boy who lives in Niagara Falls.  He has a loving, seemingly normal family and gets into all sorts of adventures.

What makes this book fascinating is comparing Tammela's childhood to the way I'm raising my own children. Perhaps I'm a bit too protective.  He seems to have turned out alright, despite some pretty hair-raising situations.

Not only that, this is a great time study piece.  Things have certainly changed since the 30's and 40's! Seeing what daily life was like back then was actually pretty neat.  We get a glimpse at everything from operations to bread carts!

What really surprises me about this book is Tammela's memory.  I barely remember a few scraps of information from my childhood, yet his memory spans back to when he was about a year old.  Each piece of his childhood is told with clarity and humor.

Now, for the bad stuff.  I hate the front cover.  That little boy is just as adorable as an be, but he looks so wistful and sad!  This is an uplifting and sweet story about life!  Where's the little boy with the mischevious grin?  Where's the little boy that's full of joy and life?  Why does this boy carry an expression so much different than that of what the main character, Jackie, usually carries?

You're not going to read all sorts of drama here.  Though there are snippets about Hitler, the book doesn't focus around  him.  This is the story of a little boy's life.  It's that simple.  It's a fun and adventurous read.  Honestly, it was a great break from all the horror and drama and romance that I usually read.  For awhile, I was able to sit back and just be a kid again.

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Adventures of Loriel the Wood Fairy by C.J. Walery

Loriel is worried by the lack of communication from her Grandfairy Cyce and makes a journey to her cottage in the Forest of Echoes, to find it empty.  Upon arrival she finds that Grandfairy Cyce has been kidnapped by a goblin.  This part of the story tells how Loriel, Padra (the house mouse) and Anya (the pet hummingbird) all help to save Grandfairy Cyce.

Loriel is frantic with worry because she knows that goblins must be dangerous (not to mention smelly) and she will need to make a plan that does not endanger Grandfairy Cyce.  (taken from the back of the book)

This is the perfect adult/child book.  It's captivating and sweet and a tale I'm sure a child would want told over and over. The characters aren't perfect, but they do mean well and they learn lessons from their mistakes.  There's a nice bit of humor tossed in that should make children smile.

What I enjoyed most was the strong sense of community.  Regardless of the situation, they all take care of each other and pitch right in.

Though I only read the e-version of this book, I can imagine how sweet it would be in hardbound.  The front cover is beautifully drawn and colored in a magical way.  There are a few pictures scattered throughout the book that add just a hint of whimsy to this original tale.

For me, it reminded me quite a lot of Fern Gully for some reason.  The story isn't similar at all.  The characters, however, have that same sweet yet strong feeling to them.


A must have for the fairy lovers out there, and a special treat for everyone else.

Invisible by Cecily Anne Paterson


Since the death of Jazmine's father, she's been doing everything she can to be invisible.  She keeps to herself and does whatever she's told...almost in an automaton fashion.  When she falls in with the wrong crowd, she's forced to make the choice between being suspended from school or joining the drama team.  What unfolds is Jazmine's rebirth.  When the girls who started the trouble to begin with return to school, it's all Jazmine can do to keep from panicking.  Will she be able to hold on to the new life she's formed for herself?

This was actually a pretty fascinating character study. Jazmine has a hard time being a part of reality after the loss of her father, but her road to self-discovery really pulls her out of it.  At least in the beginning.  Her tale is sad, but shared by so many.  Grief is something we all have to struggle with in our own way but when the person struggling is a mere child, it's so much more traumatic.

Although I wouldn't say I was riveted, I found myself pretty well drawn in.  It wasn't really a page-turner, but there's enough there to keep you involved in Jazmine's recovery and life.  Although I always enjoy bildungsroman books, this one had a few extra additives and at the same time was just ...Well it didn't have a passionate feel. It's almost as if the book had been polished and shined so many times that the heart of the writer became lost somewhere.

This is definitely worth reading, especially if you yourself are a grief survivor.  At times the conversation between the young people seems cliched, but it's not bad enough that it should really bother you.  Then again, I'm not a kid anymore so I could be way off on this one.  Perhaps kids do speak like that these days.  This is a great little character study that will keep your attention throughout.  Though it's sad in parts, it's not enough to make you cry.  Though it's joyful in parts, it's not enough to make you smile or laugh.  Over all, just an alright read for me.  Worth the read, but not one I'd put at the top of my list.

And, as you can see, I was pretty torn by this book.  I seem to keep repeating the same thing over and over but it's mostly in an attempt to figure out exactly how to word it.  It's a good story that had the capabilities of being great, but instead it wound up being just good.  I think I'm disappointed because as much as I liked it, I know I could have loved it had it not be rewritten to the point that the passion behind the writing suffered.

Now, it's currently free on Amazon in Kindle version.  There's no reason at all not to pick it up and give it a gander.  Also, I'm really interested to see what you guys thought about it, so if anyone does grab it, please let me know!

Rushed by Brian Harmon


Eric keeps waking up after having the same dream.  He gets dressed and heads for his car with a sense of urgency.  Then he realizes, he has no idea where he's going or why he's going there, so he heads back in to bed.  After a couple of nights, he decides maybe it's best if he just gets in the car and sees where it takes him, to finally put an end to this dream.

Where it leads him is hours away to a place he's never seen before.  As he begins his journey, parts of his dream begin to resurface in his mind.  A sense of terror overtakes him, but he knows the roads are one way and he can't turn around.  He must see this through to the end or die in the process.

When I was in elementary school, we had a storyteller come visit our classroom.  I remember sitting there, avidly listening to this tale that was being told to me.  I couldn't tell you what the story was, but I remember her voice clearly and every nuance of her motions as she held me captive for this story.  It wasn't so much about the story as the storyteller.

When I first began reading this, that's how I felt.  I was once again a small child in a classroom being held captive by a storyteller.  Harmon has a way of telling a story that makes you feel like he's in the very room with you.  While you're reading the words, you can't help but hear them in a concise and clear voice and see each motion and expression as he tells you his story.

It didn't take me long to realize that this is no children's story, however.  This is a man who is terrorized.  He knows he's slated to be a hero, but he's just a regular guy.  Why is this happening to him?  How is his journey even possible?  Most of all, why won't the people he meets along the way give him any information?

The characters are fascinating.  The storytelling kept me spellbound.  It was unpredictable and a wonderfully good fright.  This is a great horror/thriller/paranormal with a nice little twist.  Eric still has his cell phone to tie him to reality during his journey.

Right now on Amazon the Kindle version is free.  You can't beat free!  If you're like me though, you'll have to get the next two in the series as well as soon as you've finished the first.  In Rushed:  The Unseen, Eric sees a famous missing person and his normal and dull life takes him in search of all the hiding places he can come up with.  In Rushed:  Something Wicked, Eric is summoned to protect a coven of witches.  Take a few hours and get to know Eric!

Friday, June 6, 2014

May Fan Follower Giveaway

Each month I like to randomly draw a follower from both here and our Facebook page.  This person becomes our Fan Follower of the Month.  Prestigious award, eh? :)

Actually, it is sort of fun.  It's been really fun watching this progress since we started up our Facebook page a couple of months ago.  In the beginning, I was all gung ho and actually posted a picture of what the winner would receive and everything.  Since then, I've mellowed out.  Go me!

So, what does the winner get besides having us mention their name?  Aww you know mentioning your name is enough!  Right?  Right?  No!  It isn't!  At least not for me!  Instead of showing you each month what the winner will get, it's going to be a surprise!  The prize will be a minimum of $10 value and a maximum of whatever my heart desires.  It will be up to the winner to decide if they want to post what they've won or not!

I want you guys to know I appreciate you.  I couldn't spend all these long hours filled with chatting with authors and publicists and marketers and editors if it weren't for you guys.  You're important to me and you matter.

So, enough with the smooshy stuff!  We have a weekend to get on to!

The winner for the month of may is Carrie Anne Moniak!  This really surprised me, but I'm glad as well!  You see, Carrie is going to be joining us as a trial reviewer for a bit to see if it's a fit for her.  I'm excited to welcome her aboard the Literary Litter team if she chooses to join us.  However, once she's a member of the team, she won't be eligible to win anymore.  So, I think there's a little divine intervention in my rolling of her number!

Congrats, Carrie Anne!  Look for your surprise to be coming soon!!

June Giveaway!


Carrie's Strings N Things is an adorable little Etsy shop.  She specializes in all things Yorkie, but I've seen her work and she's incredibly talented.  It's my firm belief that she can crochet anything!  Plus, she's just a total sweetheart!

Carrie has agreed to do a July Fourth giveaway!  She's donating this beautiful necklace to one lucky winner!  All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below!

We'll draw the winner on June 25th.  That will leave plenty of time for your new beauty to arrive so that you can wear it while celebrating Independence Day!  Or, give it as a surprise gift!

Gingerbread Man by Maggie Shayne


Since the abduction of her sister, Ivy, Holly has been fighting to pull herself back together.  Such a severe trauma has left a mark on her.  The entire town of Dilmun is protecting her though.  Nothing bad ever happens in Dilmun so it's the perfect place for Holly and her mother to live and attempt to heal from the monstrosity that broke their family.

Detective O'Malley is on the trail of a serial killer.  This sick pervert targets young blonde girls.  Children.  After seeing a particularly gruesome crime scene, O'Malley is sent on 'vacation'.  Following the trail of an overdue library book, O'Malley ends up in Dilmun.

Somehow, this serial killer and Ivy's abduction are related.  How is that possible though when Ivy's kidnapper is already in prison?  Will Holly and O'Malley be able to pull things together long enough to stop this killer from striking again?

If you've read anything by Maggie Shayne, then you already know you're in for a compelling read.  Everything she's written that I've read has held me captivated throughout.  I think Gingerbread Man may even be my favorite.

When it comes to mysteries, my biggest pet peeve is predictability.  If I can figure out who the bad guy is right away, and then have to wait for the heroes to catch up to me, it's kind of a huge let down.  It's like watching the same movie over and over. Yes, we know what will happen and we just have to keep watching to make sure we're right.  Blah and Boring!  I'll be honest, I had this one figured out pretty close to the beginning.  However, there were so many subtle ringers tossed in that I didn't know for sure if I was right.  I questioned myself over and over.  Not only that, I had even talked myself out of my belief that a certain person was the killer.  So, when it finally was revealed, I had this wonderful feeling of elation.  I knew it!  Also, I was surprised that I knew it!  It really was Colonel Mustard in the drawing room with the ketchup bottle!  Man!  It could have so easily been Mrs. White or the butler!

The romance portion actually held my interest as well.  Though there are a few 'romantic' scenes, it isn't enough that it detracted from the story for me.  

As for the gruesomeness, it was incredibly well pulled off.  Instead of receiving gory details we're led into a dark hallway full of shadows.  We know basically what's lurking in those shadows, but instead of shining a flashlight on it and rendering it in high detail, Shayne lets our creativity get the best of us.  For me, this is great.  I'm sure that what my brain came up with was much worse than what was actually there.  I love being able to use my imagination while reading instead of having someone hold my hand and tell me exactly what to see.


Though this was released in 2001, don't overlook it.  It's definitely worth the read.  The town of Dilmun and its inhabitants grip you firmly and pull you into their seemingly bright world to help discover the darkness lurking beneath.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Experiment of Dreams by Brandon Zenner


Ben has been doing sleep studies for as long as he can remember.    He can enter REM sleep faster than other people and he has more lucid dreams.  Now, however, his doctor is retiring.  Just as he's trying to figure out how he'll continue on without the continuity of the sleep studies, another doctor emerges, offering him the opportunity of a lifetime.  LUCY is a new computer being tested out that can record dreams.  Given Ben's track record of dreaming, they want him to test it out.  Not only that, they're willing to pay a hefty price.

This sounds all well and good until several mysteries begin to crop up.  Who is this man who's hired him and how come he never gets to meet him?  Why won't they let him watch videos of his dreams?  And most of all, Ben wonders if he's still sane.

Let me get the negative stuff out of the way first.  In some areas, there was a little too much detail for me.  Don't get me wrong, it's beautifully written and worth the read for the pictures it paints in your mind.  The detail alone is artfully done.  My problem with it is that I was so wrapped up in the story that I didn't want to take my time to sit back and enjoy the artwork.  I wanted to delve headlong into the story.  I was so wrapped up in it that I didn't want to take the patience necessary to savor all of the detail.

This is an excellent character study.  So many times I found myself lost in each character and figuring out how their mind worked.  There are a lot of curve balls thrown here and every time it caused me to sit back and re-evaluate each person.  That being said, I didn't really care about all of the characters.  Thankfully, the characters that I didn't really care about weren't deeply explored so that worked out  nicely.  I'm not sure if Brandon crafted the book this way or if it was a happy accident.  If it was on purpose, Bravo Brandon!

Any time you mess with the brain, you are going to be left with the unexpected and this is no exception.  Even when you think you can predict what's going to happen, you're way off base.  I challenge every one of you to read this book and figure out the ending when you've reached halfway.  Then test yourself to see if you were accurate.  I read.  A lot.  I found myself dropping my Kindle in shock at a few points.  Over thirty years of being an avid reader and I can still be surprised.  It's wonderful :)

If you're interested in a slightly paranormal, deep thinking, involved read, then I definitely suggest this one.  It has all of the key elements to take you away to another world and keep you there.  However, once it releases you and you return to reality, you'll find that a piece of it has wedged itself into you.  Definitely a two thumbs up read for me and I'm anxious to read Brandon's next book!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Collision The Battle for Darracia by Michael Phillip Cash


The Darracia saga continues with all the key players spread out and searching for answers throughout the solar system.  Prince V-sair struggles to hold his fractured kingdom together without help fromhis family.  He stepbrother Zayden is on a vengeful hunt for his evil uncle Staf Nuen.  Tulani navigates her two worlds trying to bring them together.  Staf Nuen, the orchestrator of the original coup, is making unholy alliances with nefarious new allies.  Like the comet zipping across the horizon, all the different factions are heading a collision course that will test both their faith and power.(taken from the back of the book)

Collision picks up right where Schism left off.  As you can read above, everyone is scattered and looking for answers to pull everything back together.  However, the first half of this book is mostly character study.  Each character is picked apart and we can see not only what they're up to, but what's going through their brain.  Cash has a knack for setting up neat little pins in the first half of the book.  The second half of the book is knocking them down swiftly and violently so that they go flying across your mind.

Though I enjoyed the first book, I think I enjoyed this one even more.  You must read Schism before picking this up or you'll be completely lost.  There are so many characters that have so many different stations.  Not only that, this is fantasy.  We have different races with different backgrounds.  In order to understand the political ramifications going on in Collision, you need to know some of the key information from the first book.

Now, the reason I enjoyed this one more, is that it seems to delve deeper into the world and its inhabitants.  We were able to see a little behind the facade of each character and race before, but now we really get to delve into them.  Not only that, our world expands even further.  Cash has done a magnificent job of creating Darracia and the universe surrounding it.  Collision really hammers home what a real place it is.  I'm thankful, however, that I don't live there!  Too much political unrest for me!

You'll find compelling and strong characters in this series.  Strangely enough, I don't like the hero but I find I've grown rather fond of the villain.

We're baaaack!

I'm sure some of you have noticed we've been pretty quiet the past few weeks.  After a few years, I decided it was time to spend a little time at my other home in North Carolina, where the internet is tenuous at best.  Not the entire state, mind you, just where I live.  Most of the state seems to have pretty decent internet, although I didn't check out every single town.  I'm just assuming it's just fine.

We had a beautiful time soaking up some sunshine and enjoying the trees. There was even a huge black snake to keep me company!  Not to fear!  I told him he couldn't come in the house, and he complied.  I'm  not sure if he did so to be polite, or because I kept the doors tightly shut after our encounter!

Anyway, I digress!  We're back!  Honestly, we're pretty far behind but I expect us to be caught up in no time.  Soon we'll be adding some reviewers to the team and that will help us to bring you even more great reviews and giveaways at a faster rate.

I missed you all!  Let's get back to work!

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.