Monday, June 22, 2015

{Review} RIGHTEOUS RELEASE by Richard Gardner

ISBN #: 978-1501076633
Page Count: 418
Copyright: December 4, 2014
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


Description:
(Taken from back cover)

David Chambers was born into a strictly religious family. As members of the Eternal Fellowship, they have chosen to reject the ways of the world and have separated themselves from the rest of humanity.

As his arranged marriage to another follower - a woman he has come to dislike - looms ever closer, David decides to break off the engagement. This comes as a shock to his betrothed, his family and the wider Fellowship community.

When the beautiful Alison Johnson, a non-believer and former classmate re-enters his life, David makes a series of decisions that will change his life forever.

Righteous Release will captivate the mind of the reader as David begins a life that is beyond his comfort zone. There are a number
of difficulties to overcome as he adapts to his new existence.

Has David jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire? Will he return to what he knows or embrace his new-found freedom?


Charlene's Review:

David Chambers grew up in a secluded religious sect that forbade contact with the outside world. When he unwittingly finds himself engaged to a demanding woman, and comes face to face with a girl from his past, David decides its time to move out into the world and make a new start. Unfortunately, this leaves him shunned by his family and the only life he has even known. As he struggles to navigate a world of "sin", David soon learns that the easy way out is not always the road best traveled.

I was quickly involved in this novel, as poor, innocent David, while not exactly a moral and upright man, has endearing qualities that kept my attention. I would have enjoyed more details of his acclimation to the "wordlies" but it was fascinating to see the him change as he became more accustomed to his new life. I enjoyed the characters, both quirky and down-to-earth.

Mr. Gardner threw in about as many topics into this story as he possibly could : religion, politics, murder, and love. Ultimately, it all comes down to love and the search for self.

A big majority of the book, however, focused on political elections and the war in Iraq. While it all tied together, I got a bit of the hum-drums while reading about the Torys and Labour Party and protesting the American invasion of Iraq. It almost seemed as if it should have been a separate book all together.

4 out of 5 stars


*A physical copy of this novel was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

{2015 TBR Pile Challenge Review} 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

Kathy's Review:
Copied with her permission from her personal blog, 

Whew! 1157 pages to this bad boy! The version I had was broken into three smaller paperbacks. I took a break in between each paperback, because that is a LOT to digest.

If the sheer volume of this book doesn’t scare you away, then be prepared for some weirdness. The story follows two main characters, Tengo and Aomame. They shared a moment in childhood, and then never saw each other again, but both still think of the other. Seems like a regular romance, right? Well, it’s not that simple. Aomame enters an alternate universe by trying to take a shortcut when her cab is met with highway traffic. She’s on her way to kill someone, because that’s what she does.

Still with me?

Tengo has been caught up in a fraud scheme wherein he ghostwrites a novel thought up by 17 year old Erika Fukado, also known as Fuka-Eri. This novel wins an amateur writing contest prize and becomes a bestseller. Seems like a fairly harmless deception, except the novel, “Air Chrysalis,” depicts this alternate world where there are two moons, these entities called “Little People,” and these things they weave called air chrysalises. It just so happens that this world is real, and it’s the world Aomame has unwittingly entered. Other than a few anomalies – the biggest being the whole “two moon” thing – the world seems unchanged.

Through alternating chapters, Aomame’s story and Tengo’s story start to come closer together. In the end this is a love story, though all the weirdness.

It’s not for everyone. That’s for certain. I’m not sure if was even for me. I stubbornly got through the whole thing, but there were several times I wanted to just say “screw it, this biz is too out-there for my liking.” Maybe you will feel that way, too. On the other hand, maybe you will find the writing (translated from the Japanese) to be beautiful and poetic. I don’t know you so I can’t say for sure. If this review has not daunted you from checking this out, then perhaps you’re one of the brave ones to give it a try.

By the way, this was one of my TBR Pile Reading Challenge Books! Check this one off the list!


Sunday, June 7, 2015

{Review} THE SWORD & SCABBARD: THIEVES AND THUGS AND THE BLOODY MASSACRE IN BOSTON by Allen Woods

ISBN #: 978-0990884101
Page Count: 348
Copyright: January 2, 2015
Publisher: Boston Heritage Publishing


Description:
(Taken from back cover)

The streets and taverns of Boston before "The Bloody Massacre" were filled with brawls and scrapes, hot words and cold calculations. Firebrands like Samuel Adams claimed high revolutionary ideals for the Sons of Liberty, while John Hancock and other well-to-do merchants found smuggling very rewarding. The Tory lords stuffed their pockets with silver and scorned the rude Americans and their democratic ideas. Informers worked both sides of the street while crowds of itinerant, unemployed sailors and dockworkers ruled the streets and intimidated Customs officials with beatings and hot tar.

Nicholas Gray and Maggie Magowan run The Sword and Scabbard, a North End tavern which is home to both criminal and political intrigue. Each is a fugitive from a dangerous past and their relationship grows fitfully in the midst of the turmoil. They view the politics of the time with a cynical eye but are eventually caught up in the conflicts. Finally, Nicholas must choose between saving himself and crippling the march towards the Revolution.


Charlene's Review:

Set prior to what we now refer to as the "Boston Massacre", Mr. Woods introduces us to Nicholas Gray, a small crime, bar tending fugitive. Having deserted the British Navy, he has changed his name and is in hiding. He resides with bar owner, Maggie, and together, they run "the Sword and Scabbard". On the streets around them, trouble is never far away, as redcoats and the Sons of Liberty clash in a political offensive amid economic and societal issues.

I wish I could tell you that I learned a great deal about this time in history, and that is not because Mr Woods did not have the information, or the ability to tell it. Unfortunately, my historical radar has never been clear, and I glossed over quite a bit. My focus in this novel was more on the relationships and persons of Nicholas and Maggie, as well as the surrounding characters that brought a softer reality to the tale. The complexity of the characters and their flaws and weaknesses made them even more real. I even loved the secondary characters of Mouse and Julius for their quiet support working in the background.

The Sword & Scabbard is the first in a series of novels that will follow Nicholas and Maggie through the Massacre up until the Constitution. Mr. Woods took on a daunting task, retelling the days leading up to Revolution. Historical fiction may not be my genre, but there is so much more in this novel.

4 out of 5 stars


*A physical copy of this book was provided via Authoramp in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

{2015 TBR Pile Challenge Review} SHADOW OF NIGHT by Deborah Harkness

Kathy's Review:
(Copied with her permission from her personal blog, Grown Up Book Reports)

You may have wondered if something happened to me. Nope, just getting through this dog of a book!

This was a disappointment, compared to A Discovery of Witches, which I enjoyed enough to want to read on. I don’t know that I feel that way after this book. I slogged through this one, sometimes only able to read 1-2 pages at a time before growing bored. I almost gave up on this book several times, but my stubbornness prevailed. That, and I had hope that I’d begin to settle in to the book and find things about it that I enjoyed.

This turned into a historical fiction piece quickly. And I’m not a big fan of that genre. Diana and Matthew time travel to the 1500’s, in England, and land among famous figures such as Walter Raleigh, Christopher Marlowe and Thomas Harriot. And some guy called Will Shakespeare. Turns out some of these guys are daemons! Who knew?

There are a lot of vampires, witches and daemons in Elizabethan London. And they all are intrigued by Diana. The part where she learns how to make her spells is kind of cool. There are pockets of interesting stuff that happens. But other than that, I was bored to tears by all the side plots happening with these historical figures.

I don’t know if I'm up for reading book three. This took me three weeks to get through. I have way too many other books in line to worry about finishing this series. Someone tell me how it ends!

*This was one of my alternate choices for the 2015 TBR Pile Challenge.



Saturday, May 30, 2015

{Review} SLANTED by Diane Paley

ISBN #: 978-1910530368
Page Count: 194
Copyright: February 12, 2015
Publisher: Mirador Publishing


Book Description:
(Taken from Amazon)

SLANTED is a tapestry of satire and drama, love and romance, crime and redemption, and unexpected success. It will make readers laugh out loud, and at times wipe tears from their eyes-tears not of sadness, but of joy. The story is woven around the humorous dialogue and slanted antics of Aunt Hattie, who is as hilarious as she can be verbally brutal-due to candor not malice. The voice of the novel is Aunt Hattie's niece, Sam.

Among a variety of events that take place in the novel, such as a brutal crime and a small business that balloons into a large corporation, it is partially a poignant tale of Hattie's return to sanity thanks to the nurturing love from a man who is patient enough to bring her back to normalcy. Sam weaves her personal story around the influence Aunt Hattie had on her life as she grows out of her teenage years into adulthood and encounters her own challenges and successes.


Shelley's Review:

This book was a pleasure to read!  Aunt Hattie goes from being your typical widowed "crazy Aunt" to being something of a hero.  Her interaction with her niece is charming as Hattie comes out of her shell and back to being her former self.  The sub-plot of her niece Sam going through her transition from a girl to a young woman certainly attracts the attention of younger readers as well.  All in all, this book was hard to put down!

Kudos Diane you've done it again!


*A physical copy of this novel was provided by the author in exchange from an honest review.
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