Wednesday, April 23, 2014

{2014 TBR Pile Challenge Review} Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby

ISBN #: 978-1594484773
Page Count: 406
Copyright: September 7, 2010 (Reprint)
Publisher: Riverhead Trade

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Nick Hornby returns to his roots-music and messy relationships-in this funny and touching new novel which thoughtfully and sympathetically looks at how lives can be wasted but how they are never beyond redemption. Annie lives in a dull town on England's bleak east coast and is in a relationship with Duncan which mirrors the place; Tucker was once a brilliant songwriter and performer, who's gone into seclusion in rural America-or at least that's what his fans think. Duncan is obsessed with Tucker's work, to the point of derangement, and when Annie dares to go public on her dislike of his latest album, there are quite unexpected, life-changing consequences for all three.

Nick Hornby uses this intriguing canvas to explore why it is we so often let the early promise of relationships, ambition and indeed life evaporate. And he comes to some surprisingly optimistic conclusions about the struggle to live up to one's promise.

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

I had it in my 2013 Challenge list. However, due to other books taking priority, and maybe due to the fact that this one didn’t really grab me as much as some of my other 2013 titles (11/22/63, anyone?), I never got around to reading it.

Even this year, I started it early in the year and it took me four months to get through it. I usually have a book like this – one where I start, lose interest, then start reading other stuff. I’ve had about two months’ worth of library reads, so this one, which I own, was bumped down the list to accommodate my library books.

So, what can I say about this book? Juliet, Naked refers not to an unclothed woman, as maybe some male readers might hope. ;) Rather, it is the title of a new album by reclusive American singer/songwriter Tucker Crowe, who had a big hit back in the day and then faded into obscurity, except for his small but passionate fan base. One such fan is Duncan, an Englishman who is part of an obsessive fan base that speculates on the current whereabouts and lifestyle of Crowe. He goes so far as to take his girlfriend, Annie, who is a reluctant Crowe fan by association, to America to do a tour of some of the famous places Crowe either recorded at, or played live at. Duncan even visits  the home of the titular Juliet (Julie), who isn’t home at the time, but it doesn’t matter to Duncan. This is a Mecca-like experience for him.

Annie isn’t nearly as feverish about Crowe, but learns to like the obscure artist’s music through Duncan. When Naked is released after 20 years of no new music, it sets his fan base into a frenzy. Duncan, having obtained a copy before some of the others, writes a very high-falutin’ review on the fan site. Annie, who has reached her breaking point with Duncan, is inspired to write a review basically saying the album is crap. Lo and behold, Crowe reads her review and contacts her via e-mail. Thus begins an intercontinental flirtation between Annie and the musician.

That is a synopsis of some of the action of the novel. Hornby depicts Crowe as having some of the stereotypical characteristics one would expect from a rock musician – namely, several ex-wives and children with each of them; recovering from alchoholism; but other than that, he leads a normal and rather boring life. Annie, whose life is also normal and rather boring, can’t fathom what Crowe is even doing talking to her. It’s not only a clash of lifestyles but of continents. That there’s any kind of common thread is surprising to both of them.

This book examines life from the perspective of Annie, Duncan and Tucker at times, and explores the dynamics of relationships of convenience, of trying to heal broken family ties, and of what happens to your perception when your idol turns out to be a pretty ordinary guy.

For a Nick Hornby book, I’d say this was just ok. I was expecting it to be more than it was. If I were to say yay or nay on this one, I’d probably say nay. Pick something else by Hornby, like High Fidelity or About a Boy. Or better yet, rent those movies. :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

{Review} TAKE ME NOW by Faith Sullivan

File Size: 1317 KB
Page Count: 160
Copyright: July 10, 2013

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

How do you survive the internship from hell?

Don't fall in love.

Ivy thought being a reporter-in-training at the Independent Gazette would be her dream summer job. Little did she know, interviewing Eric, a landscaper with a heart of gold, would derail her plans. It turns out Ivy's boss, Lauren, has been eying his chiseled physique for quite some time.

But at twenty-four, Eric already has a tragic past, one that he is still reeling from. Even though his ordeal turned him into some sort of local celebrity, it's been a while since he's shared his bed with anyone. When he comes to Ivy's rescue out of the blue, it's not long before the two of them start seeing each other behind Lauren's back. When they get caught, Ivy's journey toward a college degree is jeopardized and her relationship with Eric is severely put to the test.

Career versus love? In the end, a shocking turn of events provides Ivy with a revelation she never saw coming.

Mandy's Review:

For a novella, the characters in TAKE ME NOW were pretty realistic and believable. Ivy had a self-destructive behavior in that she loved a guy she knew didn't love her back. Any time he wanted her, she would make herself available for him. Her whole self-worth was tied up in this man and what he thought about her. I don't know what you people call that, but I call it desperate and pathetic. What I did appreciate about Ivy is that she was self-aware enough to know how desperate and pathetic she was when it came to Will.

Eric, I like. There's not really anything about him that I don't like. He has a tendency to be your typical guy going along with another woman's plan thinking it'll make everything work out when all it does is blow everything up in his face. I'd like to think guys are smarter than that, but I've yet to see one who didn't fall under a pretty woman's spell. Once he breaks free from that crap, though, he's exactly the kind of guy I wouldn't mind hooking up with (if I was single ... and imaginary ...).

I enjoyed TAKE ME NOW. Packed in its 160 pages was everything you could expect from a full-length novel: unrequited love, heartache, a steamy romp in the living room, a friend turned enemy, and a plot to break up the soon-to-be lovers. I was all set to give this novella 4 stars on Goodreads until I read the last few pages.

******* Spoiler Alert - You've Been Warned ********

You may have heard me say this before, but in case you haven't: I get tired of reading how girls think they have a stomach flu when they're really pregnant. Authors, can we please stop this insanity?! It has been written to death. Yes, we all get it. She's clueless she's pregnant. Please find an alternative way for the woman to find out she's gotten herself knocked up from a one-night romp session.

Other than that ... it's good. You'd enjoy it and I'm actually tempted to read the second book despite the "stomach flu" scenario.

*Reviewer downloaded the novella from Amazon for free.

Monday, April 21, 2014

{Review} STRIKE PRICE by L.A. Starks

ISBN #: 978-0991110704
Page Count: 356
Copyright: March 1, 2014
Publisher: Nemaha Ridge Publishing Group LLC; Revised Edition

(Taken from back cover)

When several people involved in bidding for an oil refinery are murdered, the situation becomes far more than a billion-dollar business deal.

A self-made woman in the oil industry, Lynn Dayton fights to save lives when escalating attacks reveal a hired assassin's plan to disrupt oil trade, wreck world economies, and draw another global power into dangerous confrontation with the United States.

Are the killers rogue civil servants challenging the Cherokees' financial independence, Sansei operatives again wreaking violence, or sinister investors swapping the bidding war for a real one?

Lynn Dayton and Cherokee tribal executive Jesse Drum must learn to trust each other so they can find and stop the killers. Can sobering up really be fatal? How have so many of the deaths been made to appear accidental? Who's creating weapons with modern poisons and ancient Cherokee arts?

Charlene's Review:

Lynn Dalton, Executive vice president for TriCoast oil refineries, has been tasked by the Board to sell the Tulsa refinery. Trying to plan a wedding and care for her sick father, Lynn has enough to handle, but when her meetings with interested parties result in mysterious deaths, Lynn must ultimately decide who among her partners are trustworthy in order to survive. As the death toll mounts, Lynn searches for a killer that may be closer than she thinks.

There is a whole lot going on in this book. From the background of oil refining to Cherokee native history, and interpersonal relationships, Ms. Starks took on an impressive venture. I was, on occasion, overwhelmed by the logistics of oil refineries, but it obvious that Ms. Starks knows her business. Cherokee history also played a huge part. Including a compendium on Oklahoma’s Native American Nations at the end of the book allowed the reader to understand more of the characters in the story.

Ms. Starks has an eye for detail and richly paints a picture of the Oklahoma landscape and its people. The insight given through the killers mind is especially riveting, as the reader will be far into the story before everything falls together and the killer is unmasked. When its finally revealed, it is done with such subtlety that it is almost an afterthought. Strike Price was a bit too technical for this reader and took a bit longer to finish, but the characters make up for it and it is very well written.

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

Sunday, April 20, 2014

{Blog Tour & Giveaway} I KNOW LUCY by Melissa Pearl

Genre: YA Romantic Suspense

Lucy Tate is on the run. After witnessing the brutal murder of her parents, she's spent five years in hiding -- taking on different personas and faking her way through life. The authorities can't be trusted, so she remains in the shadows, always one beat ahead of the man who is forever hunting her. That is, until she meets Zach Schultz, a senior at Monte Vista High and the one guy she can’t bear to leave. Suddenly her natural instincts to lie, steal, and run are overshadowed by something else...the desire to stay. It’s her one shot at a normal life. Curious by nature, Zach is immediately drawn to the new girl at school. How can a person look both confident and vulnerable all in the same moment? Determined to learn more about her, he tries to get close, but is thrown into a world of lies and confusion .The only thing that becomes apparent is that discovering the truth may get him killed.

IBooks Amazon
About The Author

Melissa Pearl was born in Auckland, New Zealand, but has spent much of her life abroad, living in countries such as Jordan, Cyprus and Pakistan... not to mention a nine month road trip around North America with her husband. "Best. Year. Ever!!" She now lives in China with her husband and two sons. She is a trained elementary teacher, but writing is her passion. Since becoming a full time mother she has had the opportunity to pursue this dream and her debut novel hit the internet in November 2011. Since then she has continued to produce a steady stream of books. Recently she signed with Evatopia Press and her first Evatopia book is coming out in February 2014 - True Colors, The Masks Series #1. She is very excited to be trying out new things this year while continuing to publish under her own name as well. She has six books planned for 2014 and is excited about writing each and every one of them. "I am passionate about writing. It stirs a fire in my soul that I never knew I had. I want to be the best writer I can possibly be and transport my readers into another world where they can laugh, cry and fall in love."

Saturday, April 19, 2014

{Series Spotlight & Audio Books Giveaway} DEADLOCKED: Books 1-7 by Aaron Wise

Deadlocked: David is forced to travel home to his family through the zombie apocalypse. In his struggle, he will put into motion events that will eventually help to reveal the secret to how the plague began.

Deadlocked 2: Laura struggles to protect her daughters with the help of a young boat captain. She will be forced to endure unthinkable ordeals in her journey to protect those who are most important to her.

Deadlocked 3: Billy heads into the zombie infested city to search for his mother. Along the way, he encounters a member of the military and two new friends to help him learn the truth about what happened to the last living member of his family.

Deadlocked 4: The characters of the series are faced with their greatest challenge yet as the most innocent among them are in mortal danger. The plague's origin is uncovered, and the people responsible reveal themselves in this final story of the Deadlocked series.

Deadlocked 5: Twenty years have passed since the zombie apocalypse devastated the world. A single man is on a quest for revenge in search of the people responsible for the outbreak of the zombie virus. His journey leads him to a discovery in the western United States that will irrevocably change his goal.
Meanwhile, a new world is revealed that is under the strict control of the same people that were responsible for the plague. Two innocent prisoners of this regime must escape and learn the truth about the world they never knew existed.

Deadlocked 6: The High Rollers are falling apart. Billy is leading them into war against the wishes of Laura, who is intent on living in peace. Unbeknownst to them, one among them holds the cure that could save all mankind, and there are two powerful enemies that want it. Everything has been leading up to this, and the members of this fragile family are going to have to go through hell if they're going to survive.

No one is safe as the end draws near.

Deadlocked 7: In the penultimate book of the second series of Deadlocked, the High Rollers struggle to find their way after an enormous loss. They fell into the trap of a madman and the horde is closing in even as the town burns around them. Meanwhile, Hero is dealing with his contraction of what is known as the Tempest Strain, a virus capable of infecting any mammal. He knows that if the virus gets out, it could threaten every species on the planet, and he's ready to make the ultimate sacrifice if he has to.

However, the true secret about to be uncovered is what happened in the past, back when Charles Reagan formed the High Rollers. What none of them know is just what role he unwittingly played in a war raging between two factions of the organization that released the zombie plague. Before the final page, a new enemy is revealed that changes everything and the heroes will find themselves at a crossroads they'd always hoped to avoid.

Giveaway Info:

On April 27th, Deadlocked - The Complete First Series will be available for $0.99 (normally $5.99). If you're interested in this series, you can fill out the form below for your chance to win the entire series as audio books. Links, and instructions for downloading, for will be provided to the winner.

Giveaway ends on April 25th. Winner will be randomly selected and will have 48 hours to respond.

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