Thursday, January 29, 2015

{Review} ONE AMONG US by Paige Dearth

ISBN #: 978-1502492258
Page Count: 660
Copyright: December 12, 2014
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

(Taken from back cover)

Eleven-year-old Maggie Clarke is an average suburban girl known for her intelligence and beauty. Suddenly her life’s path is tragically altered when Maggie is ripped from her family and thrust into the horrific underworld of human sex trafficking. In captivity, Maggie watches over a young boy, who gives her a reason to live. Robbed of her innocence and freedom, Maggie does whatever it takes to survive.

With the help of Detective Rae Harker, the Clarkes’ frantically search for their daughter. Haunted by his own demons, Detective Harker vows to find Maggie - dead or alive. Meanwhile on the vile streets of Philadelphia, a strange man approaches Maggie with a dangerous proposition, and she risks everything to break free of the network of unsavory characters that control her. Not even she can know how far she will go to get even with the people who ruined her life.

Raw, edgy and intense, One Among Us ultimately offers hope through Maggie, who grows stronger and more resourceful through her experiences. You’ll be on the edge of your seat, rooting for Maggie as she fights for her life.

Charlene's Review:

Maggie is the average pre-teen, fighting for independence from her mother. In a single moment, that independence costs Maggie everything she holds dear, as she is lured away by a man and his puppy. Taken to an abandoned prison, Maggie and other children just like her, are dehumanized and offered up as sex objects. As her parents continue to search for her, Maggie realizes the only way she will ever escape is to follow orders and stay strong for the younger boy that she has befriended.

This is not the first book I have reviewed for Ms. Dearth. I have to say that she has matured, greatly, in her content and writing skills. The 660-page One Among Us was a little off-putting at first, but I was quickly drawn in by the meticulous description of Maggie’s abuse and strength.

This is a book of great pain and horror, and I advise anyone with an abuse background to undertake this with caution. At times I simply had to put the book down and walk away from the viciousness of the attacks on the innocent children. That being said, the hope and possibility of the main characters shone through their dire circumstances and made it a bit easier to handle.

I became intimately involved with Maggie, and Seth, the young boy she takes under her wing, as well as a few other characters. I was also completely disgusted and sickened by the men behind the kidnapping and abuse. While I felt some situations were a bit far-fetched, I became totally invested in Maggie’s story and her return to a safe life. All in all, this was a page-turner that truly invokes emotion on the part of the reader. One Among Us opens up insight into a silent issue that so many of us wish to ignore. This is a no-holds-barred look at a less than pleasant topic, and for those with emotional or past-abuse issues, I highly suggest you read with caution.

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

Monday, January 26, 2015


ISBN #: 978-1499753776
Page Count: 104
Copyright: August 8, 2014
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

'PROUD is to customer service, as SMART is to goal setting, and GROW is to coaching.' 

Proud is one of the most powerful and emotive words in the English language. What if this powerful word could provide a simple, comprehensive framework to achieve excellent customer service, as well as embody the full essence of the word? The PROUD model provides this and more. It builds into a set of key principles in achieving excellent customer service. Through its simplicity and ease of use it can create a unified customer-focused culture within an organisation. It can be applied to any customer situation in any sector, discipline, or profession; it also crosses over easily from business to personal use, making it a fully flexible and adaptive model. Once you understand the PROUD model and its principles you will appreciate its power to achieve a consistent, excellent customer service experience from start to finish. 'Probably the only customer service acronym you will ever need.'

Mandy's Review:

Reflecting back over my employment history for the past 20+ years, I realized every job I've had was essentially customer-focused. It began with a job in a local baseball stadium concession stand and has progressed through a retail setting, answering National Directory Assistance calls, until I've reached the position I'm in today: an actual Senior Customer Service Rep. My title is the culmination of every job I've ever had over the years. To say I've learned a lot from my past employment experiences is an understatement. I was a tad (okay, a lot) hot-headed during my early positions, but with age comes wisdom (or so they say). Despite all I've learned and all I've achieved, there's still areas I need to improve which is why I agreed to review this book.

Reading PROUD didn't last very long, but it did provide some very good information. I've always heard the old saying "The customer is always right" and I've always had an issue with it. The customer is NOT always right and we all know that. PROUD also recognizes that, but we must still treat our customers with a professional and respectful attitude. Even though the customer may be wrong, PROUD advises taking ownership of the problem by actively listening to your customer's complaints and then being proactive in delivering a resolution. If you have to pass the customer off to someone else in order for them to obtain a resolution, then follow up may need to be done to ensure the customer is not ignored and feels as if someone cares about their concerns. Basically, treat people with kindness, listen to their needs, go the extra mile for them, and leave them with a satisfied feeling.

Below are some of my favorite quotes from this book. I would recommend anyone with a job to pick up a copy and give it a read. If you don't have a work philosophy, this book will help you begin thinking about one.

"Customer service, getting it right and doing it well, has never been more important than in today's unstable economy."

"Getting customer service right can mean the difference between failed, mediocre, and exceptional organisations."

"... one of the key areas in providing excellent customer service involves how you make people feel."

"Act professionally and do your utmost to serve the customer in the most appropriate way, realising that there may be a limit to what can be reasonably achieved."

"Taking ownership of the problem is not about making promises or guarantees - it's about giving the customer the confidence that you'll take his or her problem seriously."

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

Sunday, January 25, 2015

{The Bookish Inquisition} An Invitation to Chat

Next Sunday, February 1st, we will be chatting with author Steven Manchester at 2 p.m. Eastern time. See below for information on Steven as well as instructions on how to join the chat.

After returning home from a difficult tour of duty in Operation Desert Storm in 1991, I stepped back behind the walls of a Massachusetts penitentiary where I battled each day as a prison investigator. Needless to say, there was great negativity in my life at that time, and very little opportunity to heal from my wartime demons (or pursue my dreams of being published). I finally decided to return to college to finish my degree in Criminal Justice. During one of the classes, my professor, Barry McKee, detailed police work, but barely touched on other topics. I finally raised his hand and asked, “As the criminal justice system is so vast, what about the courts, probation, parole – corrections?” Barry smiled and told me to see him after class. I thought I’d done it! In his office, Barry explained, “Except from the slanted perspectives of inmates, there’s no real written material out there on corrections, or prisons.” Barry smiled again and then dropped the bomb that would change my life forever. “If you’re so smart,” he said, “why don’t you write it?” It was the last push I needed to get writing. Nine months later, I placed the first draft of 6-5; A Different Shade of Blue (under the pen name, Steven Herberts) on Barry’s desk. From then on, I was hooked. I was a writer.

To read more about Steven Manchester, click here.

How to Join the Chat:

1.) Go to
2.) Type in the room name (LRRTBI)
3.) Choose and type in your own nickname
4.) Type in the password (TBI0201)
5.) Click the "Join" button

*Reminder: The room will not be open until 30 minutes before the chat is to begin.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

{Review} ONE STEP TOO FAR by Tina Seskis

ISBN #: 978-0062340078
Page Count: 304
Release Date: January 27, 2015

Publisher: William Morrow

Book Summary:
(As provided by the publisher)

ONE STEP TOO FAR, a revelatory, vivid, impossible-to-put-down debut novel by British writer Tina Seskis, tells the story of a young woman with a seemingly perfect life who one day just walks away from it all without explanation, taking great pains to leave no trace.

After hiding out in a squalid shared house and eventually befriending a fast-and-loose party girl named Angel, Cat's transformation from loving mother and wife into a glamorous, dazzling it-girl is soon complete. But as much as she tries to hide her past behind drugs and designer clothes, it's clear that something - the memory of some person or event - is haunting her. As a mystery date looms, Cat's life takes another dramatic wrong turn, and she's finally forced to confront her demons.

Mandy's Review:

Sometimes one step (whether physical, mental, spiritual, etc.) is all we need to propel us into a new situation. Sometimes one step is one step too much and we find ourselves in a situation gone horribly wrong and we struggle to find our way out of it. Sometimes all we can do is take things one step at a time to work our way through something so traumatic we feel as if we'll never find our way out.

One step. Two little words yet they hold so much potential ... for good and bad. It's a horrible feeling, though, when you realize you've gone one step too far. You've done too much and now you must live with the consequences.

Emily is struggling with this same concept. One too many steps was taken and now she's found herself inside a living nightmare. All of the good she has in her life is now changing into evil forces combating her and she's struggling to survive, to breathe, to live. The only way she can figure out how to do that while keeping her sanity is to leave the life she knows and find someplace to start all over again. But we all know you can't run away from your problems and, as much as Emily strives to be an alternate persona, her past does catch up with her and she finally has to deal with everything she tried so hard to avoid.

Ben, Emily's husband, is affected by the same nightmare Emily finds herself in but he deals with it in a different way. He tries to find some semblance of normalcy by returning to work and getting back to a daily routine. When Emily leaves him, he's devastated and tries desperately to find her.

Angel has her own story to tell with her various "uncles" and kleptomaniac tendencies (which the reader does get to know throughout the novel), but she befriends Emily (Cat) straight away and they become forever-friends.

This novel was as addictive as cocaine was to Angel. I didn't want to put it down. While reading, I would easily forget about any responsibilities I had to take care of. I was desperate to know Emily's secret. What was so significant about the upcoming anniversary? What did a corner liquor store have to do with anything? Who exactly is Charlie? The author keeps you guessing most of the way through and I loved it. What I thought would be Emily's secret wasn't. I liked that I was wrong. Predictable novels sometimes annoy me.

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

Friday, January 23, 2015

{Review} COIT TOWER (Chasing Chinatown Trilogy #3) by Ty Hutchinson

ISBN #: 978-1505260434
Page Count: 312
Copyright: December 4, 2014
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

(Taken from back cover)

It’s payday in San Francisco, and death is the contract.

The hunt continues in the third installment of the Chasing Chinatown Trilogy. FBI Agent Abby Kane is the sole Attraction in a bloody game designed for one reason: to take lives. Deliver her head and collect the $10 million bounty.

Abby doesn’t know who her attackers are. She doesn’t know when they will strike. But she does know they will come.

In this deadly game of murder, nothing is off-limits—not even her family. There are no rules, no restrictions, and only one ending: Winner takes… a life.

Charlene's Review:

In the third of the trilogy, Abby has helped stop and shut down "the game" in several cities. With a possible 14 teams left, vying for money and prestige, "the mastermind" has stopped all updates on the website and listed one final "attraction" for the players : Kill Agent Abby Kane. While Abby continues her search to find "the mastermind" behind the killing game, she has to stay one step ahead of the players, or face the deadly consequence.

If there is not a Ty Hutchinson fan club, there truly should be. I have read this trilogy as well as other books and he always succeeds in entertaining, surprising, and leaving me feeling as if the story ends too soon. Much like a hangover, I read in an excited frenzy and lament the ending for a couple days. Chasing Chinatown, Part 3 was no exception. I did, however, figure out a few things early on, but it took nothing from the overall appreciation.

This trilogy is one that needs to be read from the beginning to totally "get" what’s going on, and I highly recommend that you do read the entire trilogy. Finding the identity of "the mastermind" behind this international killing game was integral in pulling the story together, but the surprise ending was what really set this one apart. Perhaps a sequel to the story with this new character? Maybe a continuing story of the relationship between Kane and Kang? I will be watching to see what comes next, either way, as Ty Hutchinson is "the mastermind" of psychological suspense!

5 out of 5 stars!

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