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.

Friday, May 29, 2015

{2015 TBR Pile Challenge Review} SOMEDAY, SOMEDAY, MAYBE by Lauren Graham

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

You probably know Lauren Graham from her roles on television in shows like Gilmore Girls and Parenthood. However, she is also a writer – and a funny one at that!

I chose this for one of my 2015 TBR Pile Reading Challenge books because, as a huge fan of Parenthood, I was interested in what Graham had to say as a writer. I was not disappointed.

This book reads like a rom-com from start to finish. Our heroine, Franny, is trying to make it as an actress in New York. She’s goofy and clumsy and completely lacking in self-esteem. However, she has real acting talent and is starting to get noticed. James, for instance, an actor in her class, notices her. The two start to date – and by date, I mean they go hook up at his place. And then there’s Dan, her roommate, who has a girlfriend, but seems to wish he could be with her. She’s pretty much got him friendzoned.

As Franny’s career starts to take off, she sees the ugly side to show business and looks for support from James. An actor himself, he makes her an offer that shocks her. It’s obvious Dan is who she should be with. Dan and Franny even go see a romantic comedy in the theater and Dan draws a comparison to Franny’s life, which she refuses to even indulge.

The ending is sort of ambiguous, but it looks like she is going down the right path. She’s an endearing character, with her calendar pages that have her doodles and notes from her weeks that took place during the story. We want her to do well but we also are amused by her missteps. She’s like the one friend you have that something crazy is always happening to. We like to have those kinds of friends because of the stories we get from them.

Good stuff from Ms. Graham. It’s funny, light and smart. I wonder how much of this is drawn from her own life and struggle to make it? I’m sure she has seen similar situations to what she has described in the book – the auditions, the agencies that won’t call you back for weeks… it all seems very accurate and well described. Bravo.



Thursday, May 28, 2015

{Review} TRIGGER WARNING: SHORT FICTIONS AND DISTURBANCES by Neil Gaiman

ISBN #: 978-0062330260
Page Count: 352
Copyright: February 3, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow


Book Description:
(Taken from Amazon)

Trigger Warning explores the masks we all wear and the people we are beneath them to reveal our vulnerabilities and our truest selves. Here is a rich cornucopia of horror and ghosts stories, science fiction and fairy tales, fabulism and poetry that explore the realm of experience and emotion. In Adventure Story—a thematic companion to The Ocean at the End of the Lane—Gaiman ponders death and the way people take their stories with them when they die. His social media experience A Calendar of Tales are short takes inspired by replies to fan tweets about the months of the year—stories of pirates and the March winds, an igloo made of books, and a Mother’s Day card that portends disturbances in the universe. Gaiman offers his own ingenious spin on Sherlock Holmes in his award-nominated mystery tale The Case of Death and Honey. And Click-Clack the Rattlebag explains the creaks and clatter we hear when we’re all alone in the darkness.

A sophisticated writer whose creative genius is unparalleled, Gaiman entrances with his literary alchemy, transporting us deep into the realm of imagination, where the fantastical becomes real and the everyday incandescent. Full of wonder and terror, surprises and amusements, Trigger Warning is a treasury of delights that engage the mind, stir the heart, and shake the soul from one of the most unique and popular literary artists of our day.


Mandy's Review:

Confession: I've never read a Neil Gaiman book before.

I've seen all the fandom comments about his works, but I've never jumped on the bandwagon. When I was offered a chance to review his latest, TRIGGER WARNING, I figured now was my opportunity to see what all the fuss was about. And, if I didn't like it, at least I didn't pay for the book. So, it was with great anticipation that I read ...

If you don't know what the phrase "trigger warning" means, it is a caution to people. It mentally prepares them that something they encounter (i.e. images, ideas, a book, a program) could upset them and trigger flashbacks or anxiety or terror. In his Introduction, Neil Gaiman wondered if someone would one day put a trigger warning on his fiction ... so he decided to do it first.

The book is a hodgepodge of ideas and genres. The same theme does not run throughout and I like that. It gave me the perfect sampling of Gaiman's literary creativeness that helped me to decide whether or not he's worth another read. I'll cover a few of TRIGGER WARNING's stories in this review but you'll have to read the book for yourself if you want an opinion on all of them.

The Thing About Cassandra was the first story that intrigued me and made me want to know more. You begin reading about Stuart and then finish up with Cassandra. It's a constant tug-o-war wondering who's real and who isn't until you get to the end, then you're just left wondering what the heck happened and how. What abilities does the last person standing have and how did they get them? Are they cursed? Are they good or evil? Are they lonely or do they prefer to live this way?

It was good to visit my old friend Holmes in The Case of Death and Honey. It was a classic, seemingly unsolvable whodunit, with just a slight twist of difference and originality. Holmes, of course, shined bright and solved the case - and is now on a mission to find Watson before it's too late.

I've never thought about what it'd be like to visit a holy city. Will the overwhelming religious vibrations affect how you think and act? Will the past come crashing down on you changing the very person you are? In Jerusalem, Gaiman explores what changes visiting a holy city might make on a person's psyche and, in turn, their behavior.

Finally, my favorite of the bunch, Feminine Endings. It begins as a love letter. The writer's adoration of his love is apparent. The sweetness of the letter turns questionable partway through. Does the recipient even know the writer? Have the two ever interacted? Towards the end, the writer seems a bit stalkerish and unstable. It's quite disturbing how, throughout the course of one letter, a person can appear innocent and sane only to end up scary and avoidable. I loved it.

I didn't care for all of the stories in this anthology, but I think that's the beauty of something like this. You don't have to like all of selections. It did give me enough insight into who Neil Gaiman is as a writer to know that I would love to give another of his darker novels a chance. I'm not quite on the bandwagon but my foot is on the step. =)


*A hardcopy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

{Review} BACKING AWAY FORWARD: LOVE, HATE, AND FORGIVENESS by Diane Paley

ISBN #: 978-1621832546
Page Count: 222
Copyright: January 14, 2015
Publisher: Brighton Publishing LLC


Book Description:
(Taken from Amazon)

Sara's early life is one of abject poverty, as she survives her mother's physical and verbal abuse, her father's indifference, and the dreadful feelings of loneliness and being unloved. Her exposure to broken dreams starts young, when her beloved white dog mysteriously disappears, and her mother abruptly douses the one bright spot in her life: her music lessons.

The product of an unhappy, broken marriage, Sara yearns for her parents' love but can't ever seem to earn it. If not for the happy influence of her grandmother, she might never have known love as a child. The loss of her grandmother leaves Sara hopeless and alone at age sixteen, with little chance of ever escaping her mother and her dismal situation. Then, upon her graduation from high school, she receives a letter and a gift from beyond the grave that brings a new hope into her life. Suddenly things that never seemed possible may become a reality for her.

Over the following years, Sara discovers what it's like to find love, both real and imagined, and to reach for success in college and her budding career as an accountant. True friends and passionate lovers come and go. A move to Hawaii seems like the start of a new life-but complications arise from her choice of men, and a shocking marriage proposal tempts her.

Throughout her life, Sara remembers the grandmother who taught her that life can be grand and love is a happy possibility-even for someone who starts life as a poverty-stricken, abused, and rejected young woman like Sara. Sara has learned about love and hate-and eventually, she learns the most important thing of all... ...forgiving the unforgivable.


Shelley's Review:

The story of Sara, filled with all the angst of a tough life, is both spellbinding and emotional.  Beginning with her birth, the very people that should be nurturing and loving her treat her as an accident and inconvenience. With the help of a loving grandma, she begins to blossom and rise above all that she has endured. You begin to cheer her on in her victories, and feel yourself tearing up during her losses and disappointments. In the end, she has become a formidable presence in the corporate world, and has achieved victory over her meager beginnings.

Diane Paley has captured the heart of the reader in this amazing story. Danielle Steel, watch out! A wonderful read.


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

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

{Review} WINTER by Reece Ran

ASIN #: B009N7OJTE
File Size: 1535 KB
Page Count: 282
Copyright: October 7, 2012
Publisher: Reece Ran; 2nd Edition


Book Description:
(Taken from Amazon)

Ex-marine, Zimmery Mac returns to his loving family in Pennsylvania, just in time before the season of winter. He reunites with his wife, his two sons and his little daughter Lane. But things go horribly wrong when Lane turns up missing. Zimmery embarks on a journey to save her. The only drawback is, every winter, the snow comes to life and devours all who disturb it. Zimmery must find a way to watch his step and watch his back in this exciting but bone chilling novel.


Lupe's Review:

Ok. This review is much harder for me to give than most others. This book was just NOT my cup of tea. I think it had potential. There is just so much going on in this book, however, that I could not concentrate on just one plot point. That being said, one plot point in particular, made my blood boil, if only because NO WHERE in the synopsis of the book does it say ANYTHING about Neo-Nazi's being there. At. ALL. There was overt and covert racism that took the book from mediocre to poor in just a few words. Now, I'm all for literary racism when needed; let's say, if the book is set in the 1800's or the 1960's or something like that. But this is set in 2049-2050. And no where does the book give ANY indication that it was going to go in that direction until it goes there, and goes there hard. I almost put the book down, unfinished. I only finished this book because I had finally figured out how to get it to download on my Kindle and wanted to see it through.

The other thing that really made me angry was the lack of a conclusion. I even read the story within a story after and STILL couldn't figure out what the heck was meant to have happened at the end.

It was just an unfinished end to an poorly structured novel. Too many plots, too many unexpected "twists" that made no logistical sense and the racism. I just couldn't handle it.


*An ebook was provided by the author for an honest review.
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