Monday, January 31, 2011

Review: Turned by Morgan Rice

Format: Ebook
Page Count: 129
Copyright: 2011

(Given to me by author)

Eighteen year old Caitlin Paine finds herself uprooted from her nice suburb and forced to attend a dangerous New York City high school when her Mom moves again. The one ray of light in her new surroundings is Jonah, a new classmate who takes an instant liking to her.

But before their romance can blossom, Caitlin suddenly finds herself changing. She is overcome by a superhuman strength, a sensitivity to light, a desire to feed--by feelings she does not understand. She seeks answers to what’s happening to her, and her cravings lead her to the wrong place at the wrong time. Her eyes are opened to a hidden world, right beneath her feet, thriving underground in New York City. She finds herself caught between two dangerous covens, right in the middle of a vampire war.

It is at this moment that Caitlin meets Caleb, a mysterious and powerful vampire who rescues her from the dark forces. He needs her to help lead him to the legendary lost artifact. And she needs him for answers, and for protection. Together, they will need to answer one crucial question: who was her real father?

But Caitlin finds herself caught between two men as something else arises between them: a forbidden love. A love between the races that will risk both of their lives, and will force them to decide whether to risk it all for each other…

My Review:

First off, I love this cover.  The darkness and fierceness of it is pretty awesome in my opinion.  It's what made me decide to go ahead and start reading this book, even though I had prior commitments.  Sorry ya'll, but I was drawn to this.  =)

The title insinuates that someone in the story is going to be turned into a full-fledged vampire.  And, someone did, but not the someone I was expecting.  That sort of disappointed me, but there's always the sequel(s).  =)

As for the remainder of the story ... there were parts that were Twilight-esque ... Two boys having feelings for the same girl ... Said girl feeling awkward and unsure of herself and her feelings .... Sound familiar?  I figured they would, but I believe it sounds familiar because these are classic elements of many teen/YA novels (like this one is).  I think people only compare these types of situations with Twilight because Twilight skyrocketed into a phenomenon so fast.

Overall, this book really is an interesting and fast read.  I thought it a pretty good beginning to a new series of books.  There were quite a few story developments that weren't really completed in this book.  I'm sure this was done to draw the reader in and make them want more when the story ends.  Well, congratulations Ms. Rice, you have succeeded ... I want to read more.

Happy Reading! =)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Review: The Practical Power of Shamanism by Mary L. Stoffel

The Practical Power of Shamanism: Heal Your Life, Loves and Losses
ISBN #: 978-0-9844800-1-2
Page Count: 241
Copyright: 2010

About the Author:
(Taken from the Conversations With Your Animals website)

Mary Stoffel recently left a project management position in the corporate world to concentrate on her holistic healing and animal communication practice.

She has studied shamanic healing techniques through the Foundation for Shamanic Studies and completed Sandra Ingerman’s two-year shamanic teacher training program. Mary has employed alternative healing methods for 17 years through animal communication, Energy Interference Patterning, essential oils, flower essences, shamanic practice and heart-based clearing. She has been a featured speaker at numerous Expos and Pet Fairs, has taught animal communication classes since 1999 and shamanic practice classes since 2004.

(Taken from back cover)

In The Practical Power of Shamanism, Mary shows you how to use the ancient techniques of shamanism to solve your problems in this modern, fast changing world.  Learn how to:
  • Call your power back and restore your physical and mental health
  • Understand the divine explanation behind your circumstances
  • Learn the divine solution to your challenges
  • Resolve relationship conflicts
  • Satisfy your longing to experience unity in the web of life
  • Consciously access information from the spiritual realm
  • Learn to communicate with your own spirit guides
  • Call on the Spirits to help you thrive in a changing world

My Review:

I really tried to keep an open mind while reading this book.  I wasn't raised to believe in Shamanism, but I wanted a chance to look at this from a literary and not personal perspective.  Let's see how I did, shall we?

First, the book is not a how-to on Shamanism.  It is more of an exercise and journal entry book that allows the reader to go through and actively partake in their self-discovering journey on their own time and in their own pace.

From the Lower World with spirit guides to power animals to the Middle World to the Upper World ... it almost seems like some acid trip or script from a fantastical movie.  I am not trying to demean anybody's beliefs, but it seems a little unreal to me.

Yes, everybody needs something to believe in.  Everyone should have a support system they can rely on when they have problems and need guidance, but Shamanism just isn't my cup of tea.  It just seems that, in Shamanism, you rely more and more on your spirit guide than you do on your friends, family, etc.  Maybe I misinterpreted what I read ...

Okay, so it appears I was unsuccessful at not bringing my personal perspective into my reading of this book.  I apologize.  If you like having spirit guides and power animals to help you on your spiritual journey, then I would recommend this book to you.  It will explain and help you understand everything you need to know to get started.

In My Mailbox (#11)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi, The Story Siren.  This meme was began so we could all share what books we received the previous week ... whether it was in the mail, from the library or what we bought at a store.

Normally, I would put a picture of each book's cover, but since I went book-buying crazy at my local used bookstore yesterday (they're going out of business and have a 60% off everything sale going on!) I'll just be putting the titles and authors below.

Received From Author For Review:

Whom God Would Destroy by Commander Pants
The End is Near by Harry Ramble
Serenity and Inner Peace by Dale R. Floody, Ph. D.

Ebooks Received From Author For Review:

Turned (Book #1 in the Vampire Journals) by Morgan Rice
The Digital Sea by Tom Carpenter
Do the Speak by Rick Boven
The Shakespeare Manuscript by Rick Buettner

Books I Bought From My Local Used Bookstore:

Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison
The Godforsaken by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
The Dark Half by Stephen King (Love this book, but didn't have it on my bookshelf)
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Angels & Demons by Dan Brown
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving
The Firm by John Grisham
The Pelican Brief by John Grisham
Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller
Doctor No by Ian Fleming
Goldfinger by Ian Fleming
Casino Royale by Ian Fleming

WOW!  I think that's the most books I've received in one week to date!  (singing...) Happy Reading to me, Happy Reading to me ... =)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Review: Borneo Tom by Tom McLaughlin

ISBN #: 9789838082112
Page Count: 131
Copyright: 2010

About the Author:
(Taken from the author's website)

A freelance writer with a Master’s Degree in Political Science and International Affairs and a B.A. in biology, Tom describes himself as “using his big mouth and pen to raise hell and write some humor.” At the same time, Tom uses his “big mouth and pen” to raise awareness of Borneo, its diverse population, unusual plant life and one-of-a-kind animals.

As a student at Salisbury University, Tom protested against the Viet Nam war and later joined the Peace Corps, migrated to Malaysia, became a science teacher and floundered around with various other pursuits until he said “the hell with it,” and moved to Borneo. The rest of Tom’s story, you’ll read about in Borneo Tom -  In Story and Sketch:  Love, Travel and Jungle Family in Tropical Asia. But, don’t get the idea that the book is a memoir. Tom writes in a humorous, yet informational manner, sure to draw in the reader with his factual account of life in Borneo and the insight he’s developed while living and interacting with its amazing culture.

(Taken from the author's website)

Borneo Tom: In Story and Sketch: Love, Travel and Jungle Family in Tropical Asia, written by Tom McLaughlin, is a collection of independent, stand-alone stories. The book also includes some special illustrations that will make you laugh and give you more insight into what you’re reading. It’s an engaging and interesting read about one man’s adventures in a part of the world that most of us know very little about.

My Review:

I was drawn by the uniqueness of this book once I received it.  There are cartoon sketches for each and every story in this book.  The black-and-white sketches are wonderfully, and sometimes comically, done.  They correlated well with each story they represented.

There are sixty separate stories, or essays, in this book which are arranged in chronological order.  Tom's essays are informative, cheeky, humorous and, sometimes, eye-opening.

I had not heard of Borneo until I was contacted about reviewing this wonderfully quirky book.  Learning about Borneo in this informative and unobtrusive manner exemplified the type of effective teacher Tom must have been.  One I wish I would've experienced during my scholastic career.

Since the essays were only one page long, it was easy for me to read one or two, set it down to think about what I just read and then start back up where I stopped.  I didn't have to worry about long chapters and finding a stopping point.  I loved this aspect of Borneo Tom.

Overall, if you like to learn about new places without it seeming like you're actually learning, then you would enjoy this book.  =)

Review: The A-Men by John Trevillian

The A-Men
ISBN #: 978-1848763-432 (dj)
Page Count: 403
Copyright: 2010

About the Author:
(Taken from first few pages of book)

John Trevillian is an author, songwriter and artist, living in the United Kingdom.  Creator of the Talliston interior design project, his novels include the A-Men trilogy, plus Shadowmagick, a collection of poetry, songs, travel journals, short stories and other miscellaneous writing.  The A-Men is his first novel.

(Taken from back cover)

Jack is a man with no memory of awakening in a dark and dangerous metropolis on the eve of its destruction.  The only clue to his former life, a handwritten note in the pages of an ancient book of faerie tales entitled Forevermore.

Marked for death in a peace-keeping force sent into the riot-torn city, he finds sanctuary and survival with other renegades on the streets of the place now called Dead City.  Battling to survive they form the infamous A-Men, misfits with a unifying dream to be special.  That is until their paths cross with Dr. Nathaniel Glass and his mysterious experiment locked deep beneath the Phoenix Tower.

Mixing dark future, noir and urban fantasy, join The Nowhereman, Sister Midnight, Pure, D'Alessandro and 23rdxenturyboy as they fight for their lives on a hellish ride through an ultra-violent world of nightmare and death.

My Review:

If you take a bunch of misfits, an evil doctor, the classic never-ending fight of good vs. evil and throw them into a world that's similar to ours, but light years later, then you would have the makings of The A-Men.

There are two major settings in this novel: outer space and Earth. 

This novel is set in a point in time where humans are able to live in outer space.  There are space stations big enough to hold cities of people, but only the wealthy were able to leave Earth and live in these new, desirable locations.  Because all of these people left Earth to go live in space, there are numerous amounts of ghost towns/cities left behind.

Also left behind were the people who could not afford to live in space.  And, since the majority of politicians, military and lawmakers have left for space, the people left behind on Earth are left to their own devices ... which is never good.  Gangs form, lawlessness abounds and territorial fights erupt.  Now, we see the entering of the A-Men come to Earth to either restore order or destroy those that are beyond help.

The characters in this novel were extremely well thought out and depicted in this novel.  The first five chapters introduced us to the five main characters of this novel.  Each chapter (and subsequent chapters thereafter) were written in that main character's viewpoint ... which I rather enjoyed since each person sees the same situation in a different manner.

Overall, this was an action-packed, page-turning futuristic novel that is very easy to read and understand.  I enjoyed getting to know the A-Men and cannot wait until I'm able to read the sequel, The A-Men Return.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Book Blog Hop Friday #9

This is a weekly meme hosted by Jennifer at Crazy for Books.  This is a chance for people to visit other book-related blogs that they normally wouldn't find and/or visit on their own.  To participate, a question must be answered. 

Before we get to the question, I would like to welcome any new viewers/followers to my blog.  If you're an 'oldie but goodie' ... welcome back! =)

Now, this week's question is:

 "What book are you most looking forward to seeing published in 2011?  Why are you anticipating that book?"

My Answer:  I am looking forward to John C. Stipa's new novel that he is currently working on.  His first novel, No Greater Sacrifice, was absolutely wonderful and I fell in love with it (you can click here to read my review).  I have high hopes for his new novel and cannot wait until it comes out later this year.

And no, I did not forget the title.  =)  It is a work in progress and the title has yet to be finalized.

What about you?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

BintoM Monthly Giveaway Debut!!!

I am beginning a new monthly giveaway and am calling it BintoM (pronounced Bin-Tom).  Weird-sounding, I know, but memorable.  =)

I have found that the majority of readers are movie lovers as well.  So, on my way home this past Wednesday, I thought, 'Why not create a giveaway that involved both the book AND the movie made from it?!'

Now that the idea was born, I went home and found a list of books-turned-movies.  What I found was an extensive list of over 300 titles ... WOW!

Eventually, I would like to turn this giveaway into a weekly event, but for now once a month will have to suffice.  So .... away we go!  =)

Here's how it's going to work:

  • Towards the end of the month, I will post the next month's giveaway. 
  • I will leave it open for two weeks.  At the end of the two weeks, a winner (or winners, if I'm feeling generous) will be chosen and notified. 
  • I will expect the winner to acknowledge the winning email within 48 hours or another winner will be chosen in their place. 
  • This is open to U. S./Canadian residents only.  Apologies to my international followers.  One day I promise I will make this international, but for now, U.S./Canadian it is.

Now, that we've gotten that out of the way, let's get to the prize for February.  I know many of you are participating in the Jane Austen reading challenge.  So, the first prize for this debut giveaway iiisssss ... (drum roll please) ....

The Jane Austen Book Club written by Karen Joy Fowler and The Jane Austen Book Club movie. - This giveaway will end on February 7, 2011.

Giveaway has closed - Come back February 27th when the March #BintoM Monthly Giveaway will be posted. Thanks! =)

Yay!!! - Mr. Linky Update

I have been in cotact with Mr. Linky himself and he has resolved my Linky issues.  So, fortunately, I will be able to start using Linkies and tiny URLs now!!!  Yay!!!!


Is Mr. Linky Out To Get Me?

I am extremely frustrated with the Linky Tools website.  I have created an account, but every time I try to log into their website to start using linkies, I keep getting this message:

Your user account has not been verified. You should have received a confirmation email right after signing up If cannot find that email, contact us.

Yeah ... I don't recall ever receiving a confirmation email when I first signed up.

I've emailed the main dude at Linky (Brent?) once before and mentioned to him the message I keep getting.  I was told that I shouldn't have to confirm my email and that it (my situation) would be looked into.  I never heard anything back.  So, I tried it again this morning.  GUESS WHAT?!  If you guessed I was able to sign in to the Linky Tools website, you'd be wrong.

Same message.

Is the Linky Tools website really worth all this frustration?  Can I get some feedback from those that use linkies and, specifically, the Linky Tools website?  Did anyone else have issues starting up with them?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Teaser Tuesday #8

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Mizb at Should Be Reading.  To participate, you need to:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two teaser sentences from somewhere on that page
  • Be careful not to include spoilers
  • Share the title and author so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR list if they like your teaser
This week's teaser comes from:

Borneo Tom: In Story and Sketch: Love, Travel and Jungle Family in Tropical Asia

"The reality: I am a pill popping, disabled old fool on a fool's errand.  After the leech removal session, Christine helped me the rest of the way over a smaller hill."

(By the way, the picture is not a picture of the cover art of the book Borneo Tom: In Story and Sketch: Love, Travel and Jungle Family in Tropical Asia, but it was all I could find in the little Amazon Associates box to the right of the new post box while typing this.  I will try to get a pic of the actual cover by the time I'm ready to post my review.)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Review: Spiral X by J. J. Westendarp

Spiral X
ASIN #: B004A14QAA (Kindle Edition)
Page Count: 201
Copyright: 2010

About the Author:
(Taken from last page of ebook)

J. J. Westendarp lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex with his wife, two kids and two basset hounds.  He is an unapologetic Dallas Cowboys fan, loves to play games (video and board) when he gets a chance, and has an unhealthy obsession with Star Wars.

You can connect with the author by clicking here to visit his Facebook page, or by sending him an email at

(Taken from

Cheryl Erikson is a Vampire Hunter with a problem. A dangerous new drug named Plast has found its way onto the streets of Dallas. She would prefer to let the DEA and local law enforcement handle everything, but since the dealers also happen to be vampires, she has no choice but to step in and put a stop to it.

With the help of her best friend Virgil and a fellow Hunter named Tank, Cheryl must work to eradicate Plast from the streets of Dallas. It's a task that becomes more difficult as she comes under the gun, quite literally, from a contract out on her head. Coupled with a nosy police detective looking to peg her for a triple homicide, and a sudden interest in her activities from a powerful vampire recently arrived in the area, it's enough to force her to accept help from the least likely of sources, a mysterious Hunter named Rev. Through him, everything she thinks she knows, and everything she stands for, is challenged in ways she never imagined.

My Review:

Like the majority of readers, I am drawn to vampire related stories.  Most of the vampire stories I read have a human love interest for the main vampire.  While a story about a dark and dangerous vampire becoming romantically involved with an unsure and hesitantly willing human is interesting, it can sometimes become a little boring.

This story was not like that at all.  First of all, the kickin'-butt takin'-names main character was a non-vampiric female.  I enjoyed this fact.  She had male sidekicks, assistants, etc. but she was definitely the one that was in charge of her domain.  She could handle tough situations ... sometimes showing emotion, but not being too girly.

I also enjoyed the fact that the vampires had another mission besides feeding on humans.  There was actually a purpose for their presence in this story.  Now, I can't tell you what their purpose is or I'd be spoiling the story for you ... just know that their presence is a nice change from the whole 'feeding on the human race' worn-out story line.

While reading the story, I noticed one slight discrepancy:  There was a club owner mixing a drink for Cheryl.  He pulled out vodka and orange juice.  It was then mentioned that the club owner made a drink called a Fuzzy Navel.  Now, for anybody who has drank liquor concocted drinks in their lifetime, the mixture of vodka and orange juice is not known as a Fuzzy Navel, but a Screwdriver.  A Fuzzy Navel is a combination of orange juice and peach schnapps.  Vodka, orange juice and peach schnapps is called a Hairy Navel.  I know, I know ... this isn't a major story element, but I feel that if you're going to put something based in real life in a story, it needs to be correctly depicted.  Just my own OCD behavior speaking here ...

Overall, I rather enjoyed reading Cheryl's adventures with vampires, police, FBI, priests, gang bangers, etc.  It was a great mix of adventure and self-preservation.  The story flowed extremely well and I did not want to stop reading it once I started it.  I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys action-adventure with a vampiric twist.

In My Mailbox (#10)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi, The Story Siren.  This meme was began so we could all share what books we received the previous week ... whether it was in the mail, from the library or what we bought at a store.

Here's what I received:

The A-MenThe A-Men by John Trevillian: Jack is a man with no memory awakening in a dark and dangerous metropolis on the eve of its destruction.  The only clue to his former life, a handwritten note in the pages of an ancient book of faerie tales entitled Forevermore.

Marked for death in a peace-keeping force sent into the riot-torn city, he finds sanctuary and survival with other renegades on the streets of the place now called Dead City.  Battling to survive they form the infamous A-Men, misfits with a unifying dream to be special.  That is until their paths cross with Dr. Nathaniel Glass and his mysterious experiment locked deep beneath the Phoenix Tower.

The End Is NearThe End is Near by Harry Ramble: On his forty-fifth birthday, as his hostages dozed fitfully and state police prepared to take him by force, Nathan Huffnagle penned nine last words into a journal recounting a remarkable week's worth of events.  Then he placed the cold steel circle of a shotgun barrel beneath his chin, gripped the trigger, and pulled.  And his life began again.

Nathan had hoped to pay back one injustice with another, and tip the scales back to even.  But so few of us have a real talent for havoc and vengeance and violence.  And our cherished grievances and justifications rarely match up so neatly with the realities of our lives.  Now, frustrated at every turn and pestered by a series of seemingly angelic visitors, Nathan makes a hospital-bed deal with Death - the Big Guy himself.  Will he receive the release he desires?  Or a new lease on life?

The end is always near, but it's never too late to live.

Serenity and Inner Peace: Simplicity One Day at a TimeSerenity and Inner Peace by Dale R. Floody, Ph. D.: The book elaborates on the four inter-related factors that serenity encompasses, describing them and providing practical considerations.  In addition, the book concludes with a discussion of the relationship between serenity and positive mental health, living a good life, the idea that inner peace precedes world peace, and some very practical advice from 12-Step Programs (whose members actively pursue serenity in their own lives one day at a time).

An Amish Love (Three Amish Novellas) by Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller & Kelly Long

An Amish Love: Healing Hearts/What the Heart Sees/A Marriage of the Heart (Inspirational Amish Anthology

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Review: I Hate Chicago by Nick Vandermolen

ISBN #: 978-0-9842458-2-6
Page Count: 107
Copyright: 2008

About the Author:
(Taken from last pages of book)

Nick Vandermolen still lives in Chicago.  He is single, working as a teaching assistant at a therapeutic day school, and owns a small publishing company called Nan Bu Nan Publishing.  He has yet to learn his lesson.

(Given to me by the author)

The true story of young mans first three months in the Chicago, where he slept on the floor, using a towel for a blanket and a sweatshirt as a pillow.

My Review:

To start off my review, I would like to take a moment to correct a misconception.  I read a review somewhere concerning I Hate Chicago where the reviewer stated this book was nothing but the author's rants.  That is not the case.

What this book consists of are essays written by the author about his first three months of living in Chicago.  Yes, he hated (hates?) Chicago, but the essays are not rants.  He might have gotten passionate in some areas, but they are fundamentally persuasive after an eye-opening three months in a new and strange city.  In fact, they are very thought-provoking and sarcastically humorous.

While this book is not on my list of favorites, it is one of those I found enjoyable.  It's not often that I'm able to read a book that is entirely made up of various essays ... well written ones I might add.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Review: 1/1: Jihad-Britain by Jack Everett & David Coles

1/1: Jihad - Britain
ISBN #: 978-1453799389
Page Count: 320
Copyright: 2010

About the Authors:
(Taken from first few pages of ebook)

David Coles first began writing fantasy and science fiction - encouraged by his parents condemning it as utter rubbish.  He is proud to have attended workshops run by both of the UK writers, Terry Pratchett and the late David Gemmel – a process requiring late nights and copious alcohol.

Jack Everett is author and co-author of a number of fantasy & science fiction, crime and thriller novels. Some are published, some are in progress and others remain between
the ears as it were.

Jack and David are the same age, though neither really wants to remember how long ago they started writing together. Together they have explored the local stars, killed off Romans by the legion and discovered Merlin's last resting place - and invented enough plots to bring happiness to an army of conspiracy theorists.

Visit their web sites:
David Coles –
Jack Everett -

(Taken from

New Years' Eve: the world parties on unaware as a toll of death far beyond 9/11 and 7/7 spreads across Britain. The UK makes its own rules as 1/1 dawns and they don't include fair play. A global-warming fuelled disaster engulfs the country. Can its citizens pull together despite differing skin colour and culture? Years later and still at large, the New Year bomber has a private agenda and a nuclear bomb.

My Review:

Even though I'm not a huge fan of terrorist plots, I decided to give this book a go to expand my literary library.  While I'm not going to gush over this novel, there were a few things I did like and enjoy:

The first being that this novel was set in Britain and not America.  Being an American all I ever hear about is terrorism and conspiracy theories.  It was refreshing to read a terrorist plot that had absolutely nothing to do with America (except for a small portion, but I'm not going to spoil that for you).

Although, even while it was based in Britain, the terrorist were, expectedly, Muslims.  I understand that everyone is focused on Muslims due to 9/11 and so forth, but are Muslims the only ones who terrorize and detonate bombs?  That was a rhetorical question, by the way ... something to ponder ...

Another thing I enjoyed was the depiction of the Prime Minister.  He was a take charge, brutally honest, make-no-apologies type of leader.  I loved that.  I believe that many citizens wish their leaders were like that.  There's bound to be some decisions a leader like that will make in which the citizens do not agree, but at least that type of leader will stick to his guns and follow through with what he intends.  There was no guile, no deceit, no hidden agenda to this novel's Prime Minister.  Oh, that leaders would arise with these types of characteristics!

While upsetting at first, I came to enjoy how this novel ended.  It didn't answer all of the reader's questions in black-and-white.  Rather, it gave you just enough information and then ended.  Instead of being told how the story ends, you get to decide the fate of those involved at the end.  Normally, I like my endings to be clear and concise with all questions answered and all situations tied up in a neat package with a pretty bow ... so to speak.  I don't usually like it to be left open like this, but the more I think about it ... I'm glad this novel did end the way it did.  I'm warming to the idea of drawing my own conclusions to the lives of those involved.

This would be an ideal novel for those that enjoy government plots with a dash of terrorism and a strong leader who knows how to take the bull by the horns.  =)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Review: Fire Island by John J. Stevens

Fire Island
ISBN #: 978-0-615-40156-0
Page Count: 229
Copyright: 2010

About the Author:
(Taken from inside back cover)

John J. Stevens loves telling stories about the waterfront.  He is the Writer - Director of three public television documentaries:  Freedom's Glory: The Restoration of the Little Jennie, the story of one man's obsessive quest to restore the Chesapeake Bay oyster dredger, Little Jennie; How Long is Long Island Sound? about the ecological condition of Long Island Sound; Alive in An Urban Harbor, about the revival of species in New York Harbor.

A Long Island native, Stevens currently lives a five-minute drive from where he was born.  He is the Founder and President of Bullfrog Communications, Inc. a digital communications company.

Fire Island is his first novel.

(Taken from back cover)

"This was the smell of a new nation - a free, proud, and hard-working people.  It was the smell of burgeoning confidence, of optimism, of enterprise.  It seemed as if the very air shimmered with promise."

So thought Moses Howland Grinnell as he walked up the Street of Ships in Lower Manhattan on the morning of November 23, 1857.  Just days later, one of his prized vessels, Young America, returning from a trading voyage to China, wrecked off the coast of Fire Island.

This shipwreck changed forever the life of the captain of the vessel William Trask.  He lost his son, his crew, and one of his legs, but it also set him on a strange new course in his life that he could never have guessed.

Fire Island tells the story of Trask, Grinnell and a host of other characters from the time in a gripping new historical novel from author John J. Stevens.  Real historical facts and authentic people from the past are interwoven here with fictional people and events, in a beautifully-written tale of historical drama.

It is a story in which you will get happily lost.

My Review:

I was a little concerned that, with the book being based on historical fact, that it would get a little boring for me.  I enjoy knowing about history (occasionally), but not to the point that it sounds like a history lesson.  Happily, this novel was anything but a standard school-taught history lesson.

Although the novel was fast paced, you still gathered a real feel for the characters and their personas.  The mix of characters depicted throughout the novel gave a real sense of what that time in history might have been like.  From the rich business owners, to the working-class captains, to the slightly on-this-side-of-the-law criminals, John J. Stevens covers them all.

There was a slight romantic twist to this story, but it did not deter away from the main theme of this novel.  The telling of how the Lifesaving Stations came to be, and the men that committed themselves to them, is the main focus of this novel. 

The pictures throughout the book helped you create a character's image and persona in your mind.  I loved this addition to the story ... especially knowing that the majority, if not all, of these pictures were of real people from the past.

Overall, this a wonderfully written debut novel for John J. Stevens.  Fluid and fast-paced, it is a novel that anyone would enjoy reading.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Flannery O'Connor Reading Challenge

Flannery O'Connor (1925 - 1964) is considered one of America's greatest fiction writers and one of the strongest apologists for Roman Catholicism in the twentieth century.  Born of the marriage of two of Georgia's oldest Catholic families, O'Connor was a devout believer whose small but impressive body of fiction presents the soul's struggles with what she called the "stinking mad shadow of Jesus."

You can read more about Flannery O'Connor here.

I decided to start this challenge because I bought The Complete Stories last year and have only read one story out of it.  I know if I don't challenge myself to read these stories, they may sit on my shelf for a long time without my giving them a second thought.  I'm giving myself until the end of the year to read these stories since they're not that long.  I think the longest is about 20 pages or so.

There are 30 stories.  You can find a list, as well as links to my reviews of the ones that I've read, in my links on the top right side of my blog.

I would love for people to join me.  Perhaps discussions can be initiated through these stories ... ???  =)

If you would like to join me, please add your link below.  I'd like to visit occasionally and read your reviews to see how we compare.  Thanks! =)

Teaser Tuesday #7

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Mizb at Should Be Reading.  To participate, you need to:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two teaser sentences from somewhere on that page
  • Be careful not to include spoilers
  • Share the title and author so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR list if they like your teaser
This week's teaser comes from:

Spiral X

"Cho was indeed there, but he was not alone. Behind the diminutive form of the man who had trained me in three forms of martial arts and dozens of different ways to kill demons and vampires stood another man dressed almost entirely in black."

Monday, January 17, 2011

Giveaway: The Job by Craig Davis

The Job: Based on a True Story (I Mean, This is Bound to have Happened Somewhere)
The author has graciously decided to give away 3 copies of his book, The Job.  In case you've not read my review of this book, you can click here to see it.

The giveaway will be open from now until January 25th at which time three winners will be chosen and notified via email.  The winners will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen in your place.  Please read the following carefully ...

I am opening this giveaway up internationally, but there are some conditions: 

1.)  If the winner is a U.S. or Canadian resident, the winner will have their choice of a paperback copy or an ebook copy from Smashwords

2.)  If the winner is in a country other than the United States or Canada, only an ebook copy from Smashword will be available.

I'm going to make entering the giveaway simple ... simply leave a comment below with your email address.  That's it!  Winners will be randomly selected by me.  Good luck everyone! =)

Review: The Job by Craig Davis

The Job: Based on a True Story (I Mean, This is Bound to have Happened Somewhere)

ISBN #: 978-0-9829567-0-0
Page Count:130
Copyright: 2009

About the Author:
(Taken from back cover)

After earning bachelor's and graduate degrees at the University of Missouri, Craig Davis toiled for 20 years at newspapers, and has spent a lifetime in biblical scholarship.  An amateur musician, he was once wrestled to the ground by a set of bagpipes.

(Taken from back cover)

Joe B. enjoys the sweet life as a vice president at Universal Whirligig.  Then one day he arrives at his job only to find he's been demoted to the mail room, with no explanation or warning.  Joe B. downsizes his hope right into the circular file as he tries to meet with the Big Boss, and receives advice from some of the worst friends ever.  The Job tells a modern parable of ancient troubles and truths.

My Review:

The first thing I noticed when I began reading this was the naming of the various offices within the main character's company, Universal Whirligig.  The naming of the various offices, and company itself, was generic, exaggerated and humorous all rolled into one.  For example, the main character's office was named the Development of International Integration of Core Technological Orientation (Emerging Nations Division).  This office sounds believable, but it also sounds slightly ridiculous which, in itself, is humorous.

As I continued to read and get into the story itself, I started realizing that there were subtle messages in this story.  Messages that intermingle with each other and that we all could apply to our own careers. 

The most obvious is the fact that we all have Big Bosses who make decisions we don't understand.  Sometimes, those decisions affect us or someone we know.  If they do affect us, many times we don't understand why.  Our job is not to question the Big Boss.  Instead, our job is to do our job ... to the best of our abilities.  The Big Boss does see all of his/her employees whether those employees realize it or not.  It seems like a 'Big Brother' situation, but it's true.  And, if we continue to do our job to the best of our abilities, the Big Boss (or Bosses in some cases) will notice it and good things will happen. 

Herein lies another message ... we should always do our jobs to the best of our abilities ... despite our confusion, our despair, our anger, etc.  Doing your job the best of your abilities will make the company look good, yes, but it will also give you a sense of satisfaction and self-worth whether you realize it or not.  So what that there are bumps along the road (and I'm speaking to myself as well as you), those are to be expected in every area of life ... we just need to keep pressing on and doing what's right.

Now we come to the third message ... No matter how you feel, you should always treat people with respect and dignity.  Yes, you might get aggravated at a co-worker or customer.  That doesn't mean it gives you permission to treat them rudely.  You never know what people are going through in their personal/professional lives so it's always best to be understanding and patient.  Yes, this may take some practice and you may not get it right away, but keep trying.  Treating people with kindness will make you feel better about yourself too.  Besides ... what goes around, comes around right?  One day, you're going to be the person aggravating a co-worker or vendor ... don't you want them to treat you with kindness and respect?

I'm amazed that I gathered so much from such a little book ... more than I expected to.  I really think it would benefit most, if not all, people to read this book ... just for the enlightenment it'll bring as you're reading.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

In My Mailbox (#9)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi, The Story Siren.  This meme was began so we could all share what books we received the previous week ... whether it was in the mail, from the library or what we bought at a store.

Lodestone Book Two: The World of Ice and StarsLodestone Book Two: The World of Ice and Stars by Mark Whiteway - The desperate race to save a world continues. Washed up on a distant shore on the unknown side of her planet, together with the Chandara Boxx, the orphan Kelanni named Shann must uncover the fate of her companions, whilst searching for an artifact hidden there in the distant past. As she journeys farther into this new land, she will encounter strange sights, come up against new enemies and meet new friends, until finally coming face to face with the truth of her own past.

Blue-eyed in Luhya-landBlue-eyed in Luhya-land by Gunilla Fagerholm - A rather normal middle class Swedish couple in their fifties left their suburban life in Sweden in search of something new - a contrast to the secure Swedish Welfare State.  They sold their small house, packed their belongings in a shipping container, and left Sweden behind.  They went to Africa.

This book tells the true story of how they, during five years, lived as the only Europeans in a small village at the edge of one of the last rainforests in Kenya.  They moved from a stressed life to a simple one, a clay hut on a maize field in Western Kenya, without any of the modern conveniences.  On their own, they built a small rainforest hotel as the start of a new life.  But life turned out difficult; corruption, tribal traditions and witchcraft hindered the blue-eyed couple in their efforts to help the suffering villagers.

The story reflects this turbulent time with a lot of positive and negative experiences, arising in the meeting of contrasting cultures and traditions; Swedish meeting tribal Kenyan.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Spring Cleaning Giveaway

I know it's a little early for spring cleaning, but I've been doing it anyway around my house.  As I was looking at my overflowing bookcases, I decided to part with several books.  I wanted my followers, and their followers, to have a chance at winning these books before I took them to the local used book store.

Here's how I'm going to do this ... First, there are 10 different books I'm giving away.  Some are new, some are used.  For each title I will pick a winner.  That way more people have a chance to win a book instead of one person winning 10 books.  I'll post the books below that are available and you will have a chance to tell me which book, or books, you would like a chance to win.  Whatever somebody doesn't want is going to the local used book store.  Simple as that.

I will make this giveaway an international one.  It will be open from January 16th until February 28th.  Upon closing the giveaway, I will randomly select winners for each title.  I will contact the winners via email.  The winners will need to acknowledge their wins within 48 hours to me or another winner will be chosen in their place.

Ready?  =)  Here are your options:

1.) Aesop's Fables - Listed as one of the 1001 books to read before you die
2.) The Seventh Compass Point of Death by Richard Sanders - I originally received this from the author for review
3.) Bending Toward The Sun by Leslie Gilbert-Lurie - I originally received this from FSB Media for review
4.) Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier - I originally received this from FSB Media for review

5.) Know Your Bible: All 66 Books Explained and Applied - There will actually be two winners for this book as I have two copies to give away
6.) Shade's Children by Garth Nix - Listed as one of the Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000 - 2009
7.) The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende - Listed as one of the Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000 - 2009 and as one of the 1001 books to read before you die

8.) The Appeal by John Grisham - This is a hardback book that I got while I was in one of those book clubs
9.) 7th Heaven by James Patterson - Another hardback book that I got while I was in one of those book clubs
10.) Dark Muse by BrokenSword - I received this from the author for review

I really enjoyed some of these books, but I probably won't get the chance to read them again.  So, what better way to get rid of them than to give them to someone who wants them?  Fill out the form below for your chance to win.

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