Monday, September 1, 2014

{Review} THE ACCIDENTAL MARRIAGE by Annette Haws

File Size: 1515KB
Page Count: 336
Copyright: December 10, 2013
Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc.

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Standing on a Scottish tower high above the North Sea, Nina Rushforth gazed into the eyes of a lanky young man and made a big mistake—she fell in love. Six months later, she’s back in Utah with a ring on her finger, standing in front of a classroom of farm kids, discussing the dangers of dangling participles.

Instead of the sophisticated life she had imagined, Nina is keeping house in a minuscule apartment and living with a young husband who knows nothing more about being married than she does. Beset with cooking mishaps, lesson plans, and interfering in-laws, the newlyweds find themselves teetering on the brink of disaster—and neither knows know how to stop from going over the edge.

Award-winning author Annette Haws brilliantly captures the comic strife of young LDS love caught in the turbulent social crosscurrents of the 1970s. As Nina and her husband struggle with these first-year missteps, they must learn to trust the love that brought them together.

Mandy's Review:

First, I'd like to clarify something in case you're like me and you have no idea what LDS might mean (see book summary above, if you haven't read it yet). LDS is short for Latter-Day Saints.

While Nina and Elliott were both raised as Mormons, their families raised them in completely different environments. Nina's family raised her to be "one of the guys," strong, independent, and to use her brain. Elliott's family raised him in an environment that was more traditional. His mother ruled the house as strict as a captain runs his ship. Elliott, being the oldest, was the alpha male of the family (even though his father was still alive). Everyone looked up to Elliott and followed his leadership.

When Nina and Elliott meet in Scotland, it's almost as if they fall in love at first sight ... even though they were both dating someone else at the time. Some would say it's kismet that two Utah college students meet overseas in Scotland. Their arrival back in the States begins a tenuous relationship that seems doomed to fail. Despite all the obstacles, they both decide to give their love a chance and that's when they decide to get married ... six months after they meet.

I'm not saying they married too soon. I know a couple who was married six weeks after they met and their marriage lasted over 30 years, until the husband passed. Elliott and Nina's biggest mistake was not talking about important situations before they got married. Which of them would continue their schooling and which would be the bread winner to pay the bills? With this being a time of women realizing their true independence, does having a family right away make sense for Nina and Elliott? Do they want to live the rest of their lives in a small Utah town up the road from Elliott's family? What does Elliott expect of Nina in their marriage and vice versa? Those are just a few of the many conversations they should've had before they were wed, but they didn't.

Can Elliott cut the apron strings and make a life with Nina? Will the many arguments finally be too much for either of them to deal with?

While reading this novel, I kept expecting something monumental to happen. There were incidents that might surprise you but, really, nothing that wasn't unexpected. For me the novel was merely 'meh.' I, too, was tired of all the arguing and was about to divorce both of them from my life. I don't know that I would read this novel again.

*An ecopy of this novel was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

{Review} ABOVE by Isla Morley

ISBN #: 978-1476731520
Page Count: 384
Copyright: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Gallery Books

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

I am a secret no one is able to tell.

Blythe Hallowell is sixteen when she is abducted by a survivalist and locked away in an aban­doned missile silo in Eudora, Kansas. At first, she focuses frantically on finding a way out, until the harrowing truth of her new existence settles in—the crushing loneliness, the terrifying madness of a captor who believes he is saving her from the end of the world, and the persistent temptation to give up. But nothing prepares Blythe for the burden of raising a child in confinement. Deter­mined to give the boy everything she has lost, she pushes aside the truth about a world he may never see for a myth that just might give mean­ing to their lives below ground. Years later, their lives are ambushed by an event at once promis­ing and devastating. As Blythe’s dream of going home hangs in the balance, she faces the ultimate choice—between survival and freedom.

Mandy's Review:

I've heard of people who have the Napoleon-complex: short in stature being bossy and abrasive to assert their authority. I'm sure you know the type. Blythe's abductor has a complex I've not heard of before: the Noah-complex (my terminology).

Blythe's abductor was someone she knew vaguely. He believed a form of the apocalypse was right around the corner and his intention was to save Blythe from the troubles that were coming. He found her perfect for his mission after the apocalypse: to begin a new race of humans to repopulate the earth. Like I said ... Noah-complex.

One good thing about Blythe's abductor is that he has kept copies of all the important historical documents, several types of monies, several different types of guns, and enough provisions to last them a long ... LONG ... time.

As one would expect, Blythe does exhibit characteristics of Stockholm Syndrome. While she's not overly fond of her captor, she does placate him as best as she can in any way she can. Will he ever let her go? Will they repopulate the human race as he intends? What happens to Blythe's family? Are they even looking for her?

Above is a novel that, for me, was slow-going in the beginning. Blythe's capture, musings, and captive living were on the verge of boring. Almost towards the end of the first half did it pick up. After that, I didn't want to put the book down. The imagery and depictions of the characters' feelings were spot on and captivating. If you're a fan of end-time/apocalyptic fiction with a slight sci-fi twist, then this would be a novel for you.

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

Monday, August 25, 2014

{Review} THE HEADMASTER'S WIFE by Thomas Christopher Greene

ISBN #: 978-1250038944
Page Count: 288
Copyright: February 25, 2014
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; First Edition

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Like his father before him, Arthur Winthrop is the Headmaster of Vermont’s elite Lancaster School. It is the place he feels has given him his life, but is also the site of his undoing as events spiral out of his control.

Found wandering naked in Central Park, he begins to tell his story to the police, but his memories collide into one another, and the true nature of things, a narrative of love, of marriage, of family and of a tragedy Arthur does not know how to address emerges.

Luminous and atmospheric, bringing to life the tight-knit enclave of a quintessential New England boarding school, the novel is part mystery, part love story and an exploration of the ties of place and family. Beautifully written and compulsively readable, The Headmaster’s Wife stands as a moving elegy to the power of love as an antidote to grief.

Mandy's Review:

I am so torn by this novel!

The first half was amazing and shocking with Arthur as the narrator, telling his story, as he remembers it, to the police. When the first half ended, I felt as Richard Russo did in that my jaw had dropped at the end (his blurb is on the front cover of the book above the title). There's no way I can talk about the first half and not give anything away. I can tell you, though, that if this novel contained Arthur's viewpoint throughout its entirety I would have made this a 5-star review. What messed it up for me was the second half.

Where the first portion of the book was enthralling and something I was unable to put down, the second half fell flat for me. The second half began with Ethan (Arthur's son) as the narrator then it switches over to Elizabeth (Arthur's wife). I found Elizabeth to be dreadfully dull compared to the colorful character Arthur was.

What I expected to be a novel I loved turned into a novel I'm heartbroken over. The author should have found a way to use Arthur as the narrator throughout the novel. It would've made this story a page-turner for me. If you want to give it a go, then I would recommend it to those who enjoy a more literary work.

*A hardcopy of this novel was provided by the publicist in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

{Review} GOLDEN DUNES OF RENHALA by Amy Joy Lutchen

File Size: 2115 KB
Page Count: 219
Copyright: January 11, 2014

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

How do you live with a secret so dark and so deeply woven into your being that it threatens to smother your very existence, with no known way out? Use it to your advantage.

Kailey Rooke, karmelean, and now a possibly unethical karma-for-hire, has spent the past year jumping from project to project without any real hope for salvation. With repercussions from her actions at every turn, she discovers that as time goes on, she loses a bit more of herself to that which feeds on her anguish--that which is thriving inside her own body.

When a new contract to find a missing girl arises, Kailey attempts to put her past and its associated problems on the back burner, but she soon finds out that treachery and deceit lie shortly ahead in Golden Dunes, only giving face to new problems, with one leading right back to her childhood past.

She struggles to complete her contract as her own life teeters on a fulcrum, constantly tipping according to karma’s whim. How long will she keep her balance? Which way will she fall?

Mandy's Review:

A magical world that exists outside of ours. An alternate world with beings and creatures you may catch glimpses of on this side of the divide. That is Renhala. A world where lands are severely divided by pratically visible lines of differences. There is a land that has nothing but sand that bumps up against a land lush with gorgeous green, soft grass. The sand and grass are separated by an invisible line that neither crosses. The beings living in these lands are as different as their domains.

Kailey has the ability to travel from this world, known as Abscondia, to Renhala with just a thought. She's been doing side jobs fulfilling contracts for those trying to locate lost persons. During these jobs, Kailey can't help but look for the one person she's most angry at: her father.

With the help of her friends, Kailey goes to Renhala to fulfill her contract to Sir Cuche. While in the process of working out the contract, Kailey finds herself signing another contract with Madam Eve, a lady cursed to carry writhing snakes on her body. Madam Eve has lost her daughter and wants her found. Working two contracts at one time proves to be a bit much for Kailey's inner demon. She begins to become angry on a whim and lashes out at her friends time and again. Can she control that which rages inside of her or will it take over her entire essence causing her to lose everyone she holds dear?

Throughout all the turmoil, Kailey is caught up in a slight love triangle. I say slight because one of the guys, Ladimer, stands back and watches Kailey's relationship with Conner as they sputter in and out of closeness. Even though she's with Conner, Kailey's got a thing for Ladimer that grows by the day. Is it just a crush or are Kailey and Ladimer meant to be together? What about Conner? Is he going to let Kailey go?

Golden Dunes of Renhala is the second book and I'm rather enjoying this series. The pages fly by as I read them wanting to know what's going to happen next. I would recommend the Renhala series to those who enjoy the paranormal and alternate universe themes. It's an intriguing series and I'm curious to see what happens next for Kailey.

*An ecopy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

{Review & U.S. Giveaway} THE GYM LIFE COOKING TECHNIQUE BOOK by Colin Stuckert

ISBN #: 978-1500506322
Page Count: 50
Copyright: July 1, 2014
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

By learning how to cook, you become the absolute ruler of your results. What you will learn from this book:

  • How to cook 99% of the ingredients you come across by knowing only a few cooking techniques!
  • Impress your friends and family with how great your meals taste after spending mere minutes learning the techniques!
  • A simple technique for cooking chicken perfect every single time. (You'll never again have to eat a "boring" chicken breasts.)
  • How to always develop a "crust" on your steak.
  • How to prepare fish to perfection in less than 10 minutes... every single time.
  • A way to fall in love with your veggies. (And watch your kids do the same!)
  • Why salt isn't "bad" for you like most think... if you always follow my "seasoning" procedure.
  • How to cook an egg 5 ways. (And how you'll regularly want to eat "breakfast for dinner.")
  • The most important aspect of making a healthy dessert. And a few of my staple go-to desserts that keep my annoying sweet tooth at bay!
  • A technique for making large meals with only the push of a button.
  • The basic techniques that I use to do 99% of my cooking.
  • How to use the simplest cooking technique in the book to make over 5 meals for then week... and it only takes 5 minutes of cooking!

Mandy's Review:

While I'm not culinarily trained, I'm not a novice in the kitchen either. So, reading THE GYM LIFE COOKING TECHNIQUE BOOK gave me an insight here or there, but nothing drastic. This book would probably have better structure as an ebook. There are links available to ebook users where free downloads of each technique can be gotten.

I firmly believe cooking for yourself and your family using fresh, quality ingredients is the best way to go. If you're busy during the week, do like I've started doing: Cook a lot on the weekends so that you have enough leftovers to carry you through the week. This works especially well for me because it's only my husband and I at home.

There is one thing mentioned in the book that I disagree with slightly. Cooking healthy and at home will not give you abs. Yes, it will certainly help you to be healthy and, likely, more active, but I think the abs would come if you worked out along with eating better. Which brings me to another thought ... Nowhere in this book does it mention exercising and working out. Yes, this is a cooking technique book. I get that. But food alone will not make you skinny, will not tone your flabby arms as you lose the weight, and will not build muscle in your arms, legs, and stomach. Food is certainly a key factor, but exercise in conjunction with eating healthier could have been mentioned.

I did learn something from this book that I've not heard anywhere else. I've never heard it mentioned to temper your meat before cooking. I will be trying that out to see the difference that it makes. I'm all about experimentation in the kitchen and I think you should be, too.

In the spirit of Colin's book, how else are you to learn until you try?

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

U. S. Giveaway:

We're giving away one physical copy of THE GYM LIFE COOKING TECHNIQUE BOOK. The giveaway is open until August 29th at 11:59 p.m. On August 30th, a winner will be chosen and contacted. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, or does not provide a U.S. mailing address, another winner will be chosen in their place.

Good luck!

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