Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Kathy Reviews: The Kennedy Club by G. P. Schultz

ASIN #: B0050W9ABI
File Size: 731 KB


Book Summary:
(Taken from author's website)

When Emily and Jack meet by chance on a Cape Cod beach, it's the beginning of a tumultuous twenty-year romance that takes them into the eye of war and the heat of politics. Along for the ride are four Harvard University friends who are members of The Kennedy Club. Aspiring to the ideals of former president John F. Kennedy, the group's goal is to get Jack elected President of the United States. Emily and Jack fall in love, but will his ambition to be president outweigh his love for her, and will she be able to set aside her own career to help him achieve his dream? And will the bond of their relationship withstand betrayal and the lust of power as Jack fights to become the chief executive of the country?

Coop, Jack's best friend and trusted campaign manager gets caught up in the fight to stop the destructive practice of mountaintop mining devastating his home state of West Virginia. He becomes a terrorist activist against the coal companies, putting Jack's political career in jeopardy, and threatening Coop's relationship with the beautiful Adriana.


Kathy's Review:

Jack, Coop and Emily meet on the beach near Emily's home and realize they are all Harvard-bound. Jack and Coop recruit Emily to The Kennedy Club, which is a political club centered around getting Jack elected to high office. First, President of the Harvard student body, and finally, President of the United States. They certainly have the smarts, the financial backing and the heroics to do it.

Yet, these highly successful, rich, educated people talk throughout the novel like a bunch of sex-obsessed teenagers about who is screwing who and why. It was just over 400 pages of tedious political/romance. I felt no attachment to any of the characters, in fact, I disliked most of them.

Throughout the novel, there's this kind of unbelievable "right place right time" karma that happens to Jack and his cronies - such as, traveling to Bosnia and rescuing women from being sexually violated in a labor camp, helping rescue victims from the Oklahoma City bombing, being in Manhattan on the morning of 9/11, etc. A little too unbelievable.

This book definitely was not for me. I think it was too long, the dialogue was too boring, and the action too unbelievable.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

TRW2011: Wrap-Up


I know this is a couple days late, but I have been sick and the last thing I felt like doing was get on a computer.

How did I do with the Thankfully Reading Weekend 2011?

Not as well as I'd hoped. Out of the ten books I listed, I only finished the first three, started the fourth, posted two reviews (will post the third today or tomorrow) and participated in one mini-challenge. I sort of feel bad for not doing better, but then again, I don't.

Sunday, the last day of TRW2011, was spent with my three beautiful nieces and the hubs. I took the nieces bowling and, after dropping them back off, spent the rest of the day with the hubs. I had been feeling bad about ignoring him all day Friday and Saturday, so thought I should spend some time with him on Sunday.

So, that's about it for my Thankfully Reading Weekend. How did ya'll do?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

December's BintoM Monthly Giveaway (#11)


Have you ever read a book and then wanted to watch the movie made from it? Or, maybe you've seen a movie and then found out there was a book it was based on. Well, that was the basis of this monthly meme that I started.


Welcome to Literary R&R's BintoM (Books-into-Movies) Monthly Giveaway!



Here are the particulars for this giveaway:
  • Towards the end of the month, I will post the next month's giveaway.
  • I will leave it open for 2 to 3 weeks. At that time, 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 now open internationally
  • You do not need to be a GFC follower to win. Yes, I would like it if you followed me, but I am not making that a stipulation to participate or to win.

December's BintoM Giveaway (ending December 11th) prize pack will consist of:

 The Secret Life of Bees book/movie combo

Here's a little bit about both:


I have a brand new paperback copy of The Secret Life of Bees written by Sue Monk Kidd that I bought from Books-A-Million.

Summary:  Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily's fierce-hearted black "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily decides to spring them both free. They escape to Tiburon, South Carolina - a town that holds the secret to her mother's past. Taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters, Lily is introduced to their mesmerizing world of bees and honey, and the Black Madonna. This is a remarkable novel about divine female power, a story that women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.


To go along with the book, I have a brand new copy of The Secret Life of Bees, the movie:



Blurb:  To escape her cruel, angry father - and discover the truth about her late mother's past - 14-year-old Lily Owens flees with her caregiver and friend Rosaleen to a South Carolina town where she's taken in by the bee-keeping Boatwright sisters. Surrounded by the unexpected love, grace and spirituality she encounters there, Lily forms a bond with each of these uniquely gifted women and discovers that sometimes you must leave home in order to find it.


Special Features:

Theatrical Version

Director's Extended Cut

8 Deleted Scenes

 Adaptation: Bringing The Secret Life of Bees to the Big Screen (Featurette)
  
The Women and Men of The Secret Life of Bees (Featurette)

 Inside the Pink House with Sue Monk Kidd (Featurette)

Life on the Set (Featurette)

The World Premiere (Featurette)

Various Commentaries


DVD Info:

110 Minutes

Rated PG-13

Widescreen Version


Main Actors:

Queen Latifah

Dakota Fanning

Jennifer Hudson

Alicia Keys

Sophie Okonedo

Paula Bettany


Normally, this is where I'd have the link to the entry form, but... I've decided to add to this prize pack. I wanted to give away a themed prize this month.  Since there are beekeeping sisters in this novel, I've purchased items to do with bees and honey and one item to package it all into.


First up:


I have a brand new Thirty-One insulated lunch bag.  As you can see, the entire inside is insulated and the back has a large pocket for utensils while looking stylish in a St. Andrews Tartan design.


To go inside the bag:



A jar of Winnie-the-Pooh U.S. Grade A pure clover honey, a bag of Bit-O-Honey candy and a Burt's Bees combo pack.  In the Burt's Bees photo, there is a tube of Burt's Bees Beeswax Lip Balm, a container of Burt's Bees Hand Salve, a Burt's Bees Foot Care Kit (which includes Burt's Bees Coconut Foot Creme with Vitamin E, Burt's Bees Exfoliating Pumice Stone and what looks like a pair of Burt's Bees socks) and two clover honey suckers - not a Burt's Bees item, but still pretty awesome!

(=  Now, how's that for a themed prize pack?!  =)

Click here to enter for your chance to win

Good Luck!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mandy Reviews: Hot Water by Erin Brockovich and CJ Lyons

ISBN #: 978-1-59315-684-8
Page Count: 275
Copyright: 2011
Publisher: Vanguard Press


Book Summary:
(Taken from dustjacket flaps)

Environmental activist AJ Palladino, first encountered in Rock Bottom, is no stranger to the juggling act of managing work and family. But when she's asked to leave home for a case involving a nuclear power plant, it takes all her strength to keep everything from crashing down on her.

Colleton River is a new, one-of-a-kind nuclear facility in South Carolina designed to create medical isotopes with the potential to save millions of lives. Recently, the plant has been plagued by a series of mishaps that, despite several investigations, remain unexplained. The accidents have caused local unrest and drawn the attention of anti-nuclear protest groups, as well as several homegrown terrorists who sense an opportunity to sow fear and chaos.

When Colleton River's owner contacts AJ for help, she knows she will have her hands full investigating the accidents and calming tensions at the plant. But AJ's simple business trip takes disastrous turns as she uncovers the source of the plant's accidents and, after an approaching hurricane prevents her from returning to West Virginia, her son disappears.

As AJ's life back home unravels, the plant hurtles toward nuclear catastrophe - with AJ caught between both worlds.

Can AJ stop the plant's meltdown and save the community, herself, and her son in time?


*Side Note: The first novel the AJ Palladino character was portrayed in was Rock Bottom, Erin Brockovich's debut novel. To read my review of Rock Bottom, click here.*


Mandy's Review:

Cover

The cover makes me think of heat, humidity and Southern summers ... which people in the South know it is not a pleasant thing to experience, especially if you're not used to it.

Plot

AJ and Elizabeth are hired to try and make a South Carolina nuclear plant acceptable by the townspeople. While AJ's away dealing with that, Elizabeth is fighting to keep David, AJ's son, safe.

Not to mention we have a radio-active alligator, an overzealous grandfather, a hitman trying to kill his target for the second time and a lawman trying valiantly to defend the woman he loves.

Main Characters

AJ - Still a single mom, but this time around she's permanently employed and has a stable home for her son. She tends to find herself in dangerous situations on a regular basis.

Ty - A local K9 officer who spends time with David, AJ's son, helping to give him a male role model.

Elizabeth - A lawyer and AJ's boss. She is slowly learning to appreciate and enjoy her single life in West Virginia, which is a lot different from her life in Philadelphia.

Overall

An easy read that is fast-paced and will keep you entertained until the end. I am interested in reading the third AJ Palladino novel, if only to see what happens with the lawman's budding relationship with the woman he's loved since they were kids.

I believe the AJ Palladino books are ones that most fans of Tom Clancy and John Grisham fiction would enjoy.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Mandy Reviews: The A-Men Return by John Trevillian

ISBN #: 978-1848766-198
Page Count: 425
Copyright: 2011
Publisher: Matador Publishing



Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

Four years have passed since the destruction of the Phoenix Tower and with it the infamous A-Men. The once-great Dead City is now a no-go zone; abandoned and forgotten. Living in this nightmarish underworld Jack is a twisted shadow of his former self, a lone survivor in a world of warring ganglords and their crazed disciples.

Yet something is stirring in the sanctuary of the near-space starstations; a realisation that Heaven's governing sentience is dying and the one thing that can save civilisation fell to earth a long, long time ago.

From unrelentingly visceral to outrageously comic, this is a harsh and poetic twenty-second century noir fable. Yet beneath the hardboiled action is a philosophical journey of one man's rebirth in a harsh and unforgiving world.

It's The A-Men. Only harder, faster: darker.

 
*Side Note: This is the second book in the series. To read my review of the first book, The A-Men, please click here.*


Mandy's Review:

Cover

I love that this cover features Sister Midnight, one of the main characters in this novel, instead of Jack again (another main character).

Plot

We return to the world of a mad scientist, a group of misfits and an unrealistic world, based on a fairy tale, that is slowly dying. It is a futuristic world we enter in which sex, murder and territorial wars run rampant.

The scientist, now on death row, gather the A-Men back together for one last mission. Can they come together again one last time? Or, are the hard feelings they parted with going to hinder them from joining and, ultimately, result in the scientist's death?

Main Characters

Jack - aka The Nowhereman - The main leader of the A-Men. In this novel, Jack finally gets his memory back. He's still a kick-ass, shoot-first-ask-questions-later type which simultaneously gets him in and out of trouble ... depending upon the circumstances.

Susan - aka Pure - She's out for revenge against Jack for how easily he dismissed her the previous summer. She still loves him and ends up helping him ... at least, until her own life is at stake.

Esther - aka Sister Midnight - Although she's turned holy, that doesn't stop her from loving, and helping, Jack when he needs it. She can fight as well as any warrior and sticks with Jack until the end of the mission.

Nathaniel - aka D'Alessandro - Writer and creator of Forevermore, a fairytale (and amusement park) about a perfect world where death doesn't exist. He's a little mad-scientisty and is on death row for his actions against the company he previously worked for.

Overall

Another stellar novel from John Trevillian. I love, love, love the chapters being written in each of the main character's voice. It allows the reader to get to know each of the characters personally. This series of novels could easily be made into a movie (or movies) and/or a television series.

If you are a fan of sci-fi, futuristic events or just a mind-blowing, amazingly written story, then check out John Trevillian's A-Men trilogy: The A-Men, The A-Men Return and Forever A-Men (which I cannot wait to read!).

TRW2011: What Book Are You Thankful For?


This is the first mini-challenge in the Thankfully Reading Weekend 2011.  In this challenge, we are to post about the book we are thankful for and why.

This may sound a little trite and cliche, but the book I am thankful for is the Bible. I was raised in a religious household and the Bible has always been the foundation and definition of our beliefs. With it, we learn about our relationship with Christ and how we are to relate to others. It has been a source of comfort to me for the majority of my life and there is nothing I would trade for the knowledge I have gained while reading its pages.

You may see me say un-Christlike things or behave in an unchristian manner. Just know that I am human, as we all are, and am struggling to constantly change my thinking and actions to line up with God's word. I don't judge others and their mistakes because I know I make them, too.

So, anyway, that is the book I am most thankful for.  What about you?

Thankfully Reading 2011 Weekend: Kickoff Post


Good morning everybody!  =)  Are you still in the throes of your turkey, stuffing, cranberry coma?  Well, I'm not!  I am up bright and early (for me, anyway) to begin this year's Thankfully Reading Weekend.

I've never been a big fan of all the crazies out shopping on Black Friday (If you're one of the crazies, more power to you honey!).  So, since I'm already staying inside I figured I'd get some reading done off my huge TBR list.

I'm not sure how many I'll actually be able to read, but here's my proposed list:
  1. The A-Men Return by John Trevillian (Already started, just need to finish)
  2. Hot Water by Erin Brockovich
  3. Treasure Me by Christine Nolfi
  4. The Stormchasers by Jenna Blum
  5. The Wayfinder by Darcy Pattison
  6. Left Neglected by Lisa Genova
  7. Lodestone - Book Three: The Crucible of Dawn by Mark Whiteway
  8. The Third Q by Arnold Francis and Robert Luxenberg
  9. The World As We Know It by Joseph Monninger
  10. Killer Sweet Tooth by Gayle Trent
I realize this is an ambitious list, but I do not plan on getting much sleep this weekend.

I am also hoping to participate in the mini-challenges while posting reviews and progress posts during this fun weekend. So, check back periodically on here and on Twitter (#thankfulreading) to follow my progress.

Good luck to all the Thankfully Reading 2011 Weekend participants!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Charlene Reviews: Please Help Me Lift Something Heavy. Thank You! by Dr. Rick Gelinas

ISBN #: 978-0978765897
Page Count: 374
Copyright: 2011
Publisher: Ophir Publishing


Synopsis:
(Taken from helpmelift.net)

This book provides a glimpse into the life of a modern American family over a period of seventy-five years.

Told in the first person from the point of view of the family's eldest sibling, a random succession of memoirs follow a young child through a boyhood that is often tumultuous, sometimes tragic or near-tragic, and occasionally hilarious.

The tale takes us on adventures and misadventures typical of any boy's formative years, yet is unique for its blend of the assumable and the impossible, the timid and the daring, the quotidian and the outrageous, along with the yearning and the loving that signals real growth as the boy becomes a man.

Told with the abandon of the fiction writer but the constraint of the nonfiction writer, this story often glides easily across the lanes of fine literature, like a good skier enjoying his whispery glide back and forth down a snowy slope he knows quite well.


Charlene's Review:

Lift, as the author calls his book, is an enchanting collection of stories from the life of Dr. Rick Gelinas. Sometimes humorous, occasionally tragic, the stories contain plenty of heartfelt sentiment. Consisting of 32 short stories, Dr. Gelinas takes us on a tour of his many mishaps and lessons learned along his, and his family's, lifetime.

The premise for his writing is to expound the necessity for all of humankind to reach out and ASK for help, and to be open to RECEIVE help. His writing style is enjoyable, as if you are sitting alongside and watching his journey. I especially enjoyed reading the paragraphs that preface every story, as they provide a moral lesson and insight into what Dr. Gelinas himself learned from that particular time in his life. The "something heavy" he refers to is whatever you, the reader, is carrying. His writing is in hopes of lightening the reader's load through his humor and giving them hope to continue their own journey. The Gelinas' also donate 100% of their "royalties" to help homeless women veterans.

Thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommended.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Mandy Reviews: Ten Good Reasons to Lie About Your Age by Stephanie Zia

ISBN #: 978-1447576839
Page Count: 264
Copyright: 2011
Publisher: Lulu.com


Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Rock chick Sally, suddenly widowed at 50, tries to get out there and lose her wididity, her born-again virginity, before it's too late. Will she decide to grow old gracefully or disgracefully?


Mandy's Review:

Cover

The cover is okay. If I saw it on the bookstore shelves, it wouldn't really invite me to pick it up.

Plot

The book opens on a funeral of a lady's husband. Said husband, Dom, was a producer for rock music. He died while on a skiing trip.

From there, we journey with Sally through all the stages of her grief at her husband's passing. They had been married for so long that finding herself again felt like a betrayal of sorts.

Through self-help books, family, friends and a much-needed holiday, Sally struggles to continue living, despite her overwhelming feeling of loss.

Main Characters

Sally - An older lady struggling to redefine herself as single after the death of her husband. She's a little paranoid and suspicious of others.

Ramona - Sally's long-time friend who kick starts Sally's emotional healing with some tough love. Formerly a back-up singer, she now sings in a local musical.

Val - Sally's next-door neighbor. Dependable and faithful, although not always welcome, after Dom's death. She knows when to push Sally and when to leave her alone.

Overall

A wonderful story about a woman learning to find herself again. It did remind me a little of How Stella Got Her Groove Back, but it was different enough to stand on its own merits and be enjoyable.

If you enjoy a book that takes you on an emotional roller coaster while rooting for the main character, Ten Good Reasons to Lie About Your Age is the book for you.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Mandy Reviews: The Miracle Inspector by Helen Smith

ISBN #: 978-0956517050
Page Count: 249
Copyright: 2010
Publisher: Tyger Books


Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

A dystopian thriller set in the near future. England has been partitioned and London is an oppressive place where poetry has been forced underground, theaters and schools are shut, and women are not allowed to work outside the home. A young couple, Lucas and Angela, try to escape from London - with disastrous consequences.


Mandy's Review:

Cover

I'm drawn to the freakish looking ... person ... on the cover. It look androgynous enough to be a man or a woman and with the make up done poorly it is definitely an attention-grabber.

I still do not like the style of the lettering, though. I think it could've been done in a different style to better coincide with the freakish nature of the person on the cover.

Plot

Set in London - Time frame is in the future, but not so far in the future that robots have taken everything over. It is a time where books, poetry, theaters, anything that could start a revolution against the government has been shut down. The British government has deemed it necessary for all women to stay at home. The only time they are allowed to leave is to visit their relatives, which is also confirmed by the government.

Airports have closed, barring the means for travel. Road signs are no longer used and are referenced to as being something of the past. There are "walls" up separating London from the rest of England. All other cities have a Border Patrol and turnstile gates for people to enter through.

The Ministry has divided itself into various departments (i.e. Inspector of Cats, Inspector of Women's Travel, Inspector of Inventions & Gadgets, Inspector of Hedgerows & Grass Verges) so it can have its thumb on everything involving its citizens. It is this setting that provides the background for this novel. A novel in which people meet, in secret, underground to recite poetry. A novel in which women had to look like men if they wished to leave their house, especially at night. A novel in which a family relation's reputation has the power to grant you prestige or grant you being tossed to the bottom of the proverbial pile. A novel in which, if we're not careful, could become a prophetic voice of London's future.

Main Characters

Lucas - Employed as the Inspector of Miracles with the Ministry Department. Whenever he gets a call about a potential miracle, he visits the person to determine if a miracle actually occurred.

He's married to Angela. As a husband he is very unsure of what to say to his wife. There's a tension between the two of them that doesn't really go away.

Angela - Married to Lucas. Dreams of leaving London and starting a life somewhere else. Introverted, shy, sings beautifully, somewhat naive and simple.

Overall

Of the three Helen Smith novels that I've read, The Miracle Inspector is my favorite. The vibe I got while reading this book was reminiscent of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

If you liked Fahrenheit 451, you would definitely enjoy this book.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thankfully Reading 2011


This year, I have decided to participate in the Thankfully Reading 2011 weekend hosted by Jenn at Jenn's Bookshelves.  To read up on the rules (or lack thereof) and join this festive occasion, click here.

Happy Reading to all the participants! =)

Mandy Reviews - Worthless Boy: A Memoir by Orva Schrock

ISBN: 978-1-4327-8042-5
Page Count: 81
Copyright: 2011
Publisher: Outskirts Press


Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

Orva Schrock was born and raised Amish. He left that tradition to make his own way in the forbidden "English" world when he was 18. This is a fast paced and deeply felt story of his struggles to get along with his short-tempered Amish preacher father and to make sense of the seemingly impossible maze of mixed signals and demands, commands, and reprimands he encountered along the way. He never settled for the easy way out. His story is by turn painful and hopeful and ultimately healing. Along the way he examines and comments on the pain of a disturbed childhood and his misgivings about the religious indoctrination that was a dominant feature of his early training and of his emotional life. He is deeply critical of abusive child-rearing practices and the crazy-making religion of literal fundamentalist beliefs. This book is a celebration of freedom for one and all and of triumph over tyranny.


Mandy's Review:

A quick read that packs a lot of history into its pages, Worthless Boy will take you from Orva's childhood to present day. You'll read about his life as an Amish boy, in an Amish family and how difficult it was for him to cope. First chance he got, Orva struck out on his own.

I was drawn to this book because, like most people, I have a fascination with the Amish. I wonder what it would be like to live with their rules, their rigidity, their closeness. Would I find that type of support system satisfying ... or suffocating?

Being a memoir, Worthless Boy did not focus on the dynamics that make up the Order, but rather focused on a nuclei within the Order ... Orva's family. The family you are born into and raised with will affect how you see life. I truly believe that Orva questions the validity of religion because of the way his father acted and how  his father treated him. He has spent his life trying to find the answers to the questions many people have about God, creation, etc.

Overall, this book did not provide me with the insight into the Amish life that I was hoping for, but it did help me to understand why Orva feels the way he does about religions. This isn't the greatest memoir I've ever read, but if you like memoirs and want something quick to read, go ahead and pick up a copy of Worthless Boy.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Charlene Reviews: Human Natures of Animal and Spiritual by Carroll Blair

ISBN #: 978-1936430079
Page Count: 140
Copyright: 2011
Publisher: Aveon Publishing


Description:

The world is in crisis. Problems are mounting without viable solution or action to address them. In Human Natures, the cause is revealed; why efforts made to cure the ills of humankind or mitigate their negative impact around the globe continue to result in disappointment, failing to create a foundation for the developing of principles that would enable humanity to move forward, and what it will take for this to change.


Charlene's Review:

Written in poetic vignettes, Human Natures is not your typical book. It is also not for the light reader. Deep, thought-provoking insights are made on each page. To get the full effect of this book, I had to occasionally step back, breathe deeply, and dig deeper; deeper into the wording, and deeper into my perceptions. One of my favorite excerpts would be, "There are paths in life that no matter what is achieved the whole amounts to nothing, because integrity did not show anywhere or in anything." So much for happy accidents, huh?

Mr. Blair's precept seems to be that the human condition has stalled, and spiritual evolution cannot continue until we step away from our greed-filled, self-centered lifestyles. Whereas our ancient ancestors were continually faced with danger and had to be constantly vigilant, our current need for comfort and indulgence keeps us from growing morally and spiritually. What was once "evolve or perish" has now become "stay comfortably numb and stagnant." Human Natures is an enlightening read into what it will take to address the many issues facing our world.

Mandy Reviews: Cross Bones Anthology by Various Authors

ISBN #: 978-1-61372-124-7
E-ISBN #: 978-1-61372-125-4
ASIN #: B005HEIGA0
File Size: 827 KB
Copyright: 2011
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Ahoy, me proud beauty, shiver me timbers! I ask ye to sail me jollyboat on the high seas, lubber, but will ye dare to accept? On offer be a pirate's life full of danger and risk, and not just to yer neck, but to yer very virgin heart! There's many a bodice to be ripped -- or perhaps I should say many a codpiece to be snapped -- and should ye be graced enough to cross bones with a corsair, don't be an addlepate! Heave ho, lad, handsomely, and show him how ye bury ye treasure!

Pirates didn't only sail the high seas in historical times. Modern-day renegades and futuristic rebels are just as ripe for adventure and plunder. No matter the time, place, or circumstances, bad boys steal affection as often as they salvage treasure, and in these stories of romance, a rogue's black heart always conceals a center of gold.


Mandy's Review:

First, I will start by saying that this review is for mature audiences only. I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to say, yet, but with the book's contents containing sexual matter, I wanted to go ahead and throw out that warning.

For those that don't know, I read ALL kinds of books. This is the first time, though, that I've read M/M erotica. I've found that M/M erotica really isn't my cup of tea. I like reading male/female, and even threesomes, but this foray into male-on-male did not do it for me. I mean, there's only so many times I can read about two guys jacking each other off or sticking their fingers up the other's arse to "prepare" them...

Despite the repetitive nature of the sexual scenarios, there were some well-written stories in this anthology. One of my faves (for the brilliance of the writing, not the porn) was Peter and the Lost Boys. I like how the author took the elements from Peter Pan and converted them into an M/M short story.

Overall, the book was okay. One thing I did love, though, was the cover.  Good Lord, if I had a fine man like that I'd make up my own stories!!!!

Anywho ... The pirate theme throughout all the stories was nice and the majority of the stories were written well, as I've mentioned previously. However, I believe this one, singular book has quenched my curiosity about M/M erotica. I will not be reading any more of this type ...

If you like M/M erotica, this book is definitely for you.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Kathy Reviews - One Page At A Time: Getting Through College With ADHD by Phill Pappas

ISBN #: 978-0615523729
Page Count: 94
Copyright: 2011
Publisher: Phill Pappas


Book Summary:
(As stated by the author)

The book is part memoir, part self-help guide for students with ADHD, and it is based on my own experiences during my years in college.

The book is broken down into three sections: Home, School and Life. Each section focuses on issues that I dealt with during my time in college - from buying a laundry basket, to choosing classes, dealing with procrastination, and everything else in between.

I wrote this book, because I believe that if I had had something like this when I was a freshman it may not have taken me seven years to get through college. After graduating, I felt the need to write about my experiences so that other students with ADHD could have something that they could easily relate to and benefit from.

This book is written for seniors in high school and college students with ADHD.


Kathy's Review:

Picture that you're a high school senior or incoming college freshman struggling with ADHD, and your friend's older brother, a college grad who also has ADHD, has agreed to meet you for a cup of coffee to give you some advice.

That's the feeling Pappas gives you while reading this book. He's been there, and he wants to help you through it, too. He imparts his wisdom in the language of a young person, including f-bombs and other colorful adjectives. He asks forgiveness in case he goes on a tangent about Ninjas. This is accompanied by the first of his hilarious footnotes: "I like Ninjas."

It was at this point I decided I liked Pappas, and his book.

He systematically goes through tips on how a college student with ADHD can succeed in school and in life (and really, there's a LOT in here for college students in general - stuff that I wished someone had told me when I was back in school, when dinosaurs still walked the earth). These tips include organization of your workspace at home, how to study, how to schedule classes, figuring out when your peak performance times are, and much more.

And then there's the aforementioned Ninja tangent. It involves throwing stars vs. guns, and at first, I thought he was going for an analogy about college life, but nope - it was just a tangent about Ninjas. And it's funny, so you don't mind reading it.

This is a book I think any college student could get something from, but since it's directed towards those with ADHD, I think it's an excellent resource. I think college organizations that focus on ADHD should pass this book out to its members. And I salute Mr. Pappas for writing such an informative, humorous, honest book.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mandy Reviews: Lakebridge Spring by Natasha Troop

ISBN #: 978-1461122500
Page Count: 250
Copyright: 2011
Publisher: CreateSpace


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Vermont, picturesque and lovely, attracts visitors from across the country in search for the perfect picture, the perfect fall foliage or perhaps a taste of maple syrup. Stansbury is best known for the odd covered bridge that spans Stansbury Lake and goes nowhere, connecting no roads and serving no known purpose. The locals call it the Lakebridge. Very few know of its mysterious origins and fewer care to know more. Those visiting the town perhaps take a few snapshots and leave, their curiosity quelled by an uneasy feeling that they shouldn't think on it anymore. The tourists will eventually leave Stansbury, but its residents strangely linger, seemingly held captive by a force they barely recognize. They also do not think about the town's mysterious artifact much except in passing, all but Gil, his father, Ben, and a few others. They know of the bridge's dark history and understand that it is responsible for every horror that ever befell the people of Stansbury: the people who fear the bridge but will not speak of it. The bridge makes people do things - bad things - so that it can continue to love and care for them all. Some have tried to destroy the bridge, but as long as the bridge is fed with the lives of the innocents of Stansbury it will go on - loving the people of Stansbury.


Mandy's Review:

Cover

Like: It reminds me of fog or shadows, which makes the reader think the book is mysterious and spooky.

Plot

There is evil in Stansbury ... in the form of a bridge. A covered bridge. Built by some English gent to access the darkness of his evil powers.

The bridge never fades. The bridge never needs repairs. The bridge can never be brought down. The bridge is here to stay to, obsessively and possessively, "love" the inhabitants of the town named after its creator, Lord Stansbury.

Will the Silver Knight and the Strange One be successful in their quest of finding the bridge's weakness and bringing it to ruins?

Main Characters

Gil - This man was born with bad luck and cannot get rid of it. Those who come in contact with him are also affected.

Shelley - Gil's best friend and the object of a state patrolperson's love interest. She's always happy, lives in the moment and continuously tries to help people.

Ben - Town sheriff. He knows something is wrong with Stansbury and tries to uncover its secrets.

Overall

The book was interesting. I only have two major complaints:
  • Chapters were way too long
  • A LOT of proofreading mistakes. Not spelling ... proofreading.
Minor complaints: I would have liked to have found out the codgy pharmacist's background and perhaps have been introduced to more of the darker side of Lakebridge.

Other than that, the concept of the story was unique and original. I enjoyed that. I think with a few little tweaks, this could be a great novel.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Kathy Reviews: Centuries of June by Keith Donohue

ISBN #: 978-0307450289
Page Count: 352
Copyright: 2011
Publisher: Crown


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Set in the bathroom of an old house just before dawn on a night in June, Centuries of June is a black comedy about a man who is attempting to tell the story of how he ended up on the floor with a hole in his head. But he keeps getting interrupted by a series of suspects - eight women lying in the bedroom just down the hall. Each woman tells a story drawn from five centuries of American myth and legend in a wild medley of styles and voices.


Kathy's Review:

This was one of those books that makes you go, "hmm."

There's the main character, Jack, who finds himself the object of several murder attempts by women he swears he's never seen before. The attempts are thwarted by an old man who looks just like his dead father. Oh, and did I mention that this is all taking place inside the bathroom in Jack's house? Eventually there are seven women, plus Jack, plus the dead-daddy lookalike, plus a baby that grows way too quickly, all crowded in there. Each woman gets a chance to tell her tale, which involves being wronged by a man in a time period different than the present.

At first, I had no idea what was going on. It felt like some kind of Lost sideways universe that, even once it started to become more clear, just wasn't cohesive enough for me to follow. However, I did figure out what was happening to Jack before it's actually revealed.

I liked some of the women's narratives - my favorites were "The Woman Who Married A Bear," and "The Woman Who Lost the Flag." I think I would have liked each of these individual narratives better if they were just that - a collection of stories, rather than part of a larger novel that tried to tie them all together.

Donohue has an interesting concept with Centuries of June; I'm just not sure I fully understood or enjoyed the execution of the concept.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Guest Review: Oscar Wilde and a Death of No Importance by Gyles Brandreth

ISBN-10: 1416534830
ASIN #: B001PO64VE
Page Count: 368
Copyright: 2008
Publisher: Touchstone


Book Overview:
(Taken from book website)

London, 1889. Oscar Wilde, celebrated poet, wit, playwright and raconteur, is the literary sensation of his age. All Europe lies at his feet. Yet when he chances upon the naked corpse of sixteen-year-old Billy Wood, posed by candlelight in a dark and stifling upstairs room, he cannot ignore the brutal murder. With the help of fellow author Arthur Conan Doyle, he sets out to solve the crime - and it is Wilde's peculiar genius and his unparalleled access to all degrees of late-Victorian life - from society drawing rooms and the bohemian demi-monde to the criminal underclass - that prove the decisive factors in their investigation of what turns out to be the first in a series of bizarre and apparently inexplicable killings.

Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders is a gripping detective story that explores the secret world of Oscar Wilde - his surprising friendships, his complex marriage, and his unusual association with Inspector Aidan Fraser of Scotland Yard.

Set against the exotic backdrop of fin-de-siecle London and Paris, Gyles Brandreth evokes Oscar Wilde's trademark wit and brilliance with huge flair, intertwining all the intrigue of the classic English murder mystery with a compelling portrait of one of the greatest characters of the Victorian age.


Denise's Review:

The main characters in this mystery novel come from real life; Oscar Wilde (a 19th century writer who really needs no introduction), Robert Sherard (Oscar Wilde's true-life friend, also a writer and journalist) and Arthur Conan Doyle (author of the Sherlock Holmes series). Although the characters are based on fact, the story is fiction ... and great fiction it is.

In accordance with Robert Sherard's true-life role as Oscar Wilde's biographer, the characters of Robert Sherard serves as the narrator of the story. The story begins with Oscar Wilde introducting Mr. Sherard to Arthur Conan Doyle. Mr. Doyle's Sherlock Holmes short stories are being read wildly by many, and when Oscar Wilde happens upon the murdered body of his sixteen-year-old friend, Billy Wood, he quickly begins trying to solve the murder mystery by using the techniques of Sherlock Holmes.

Using the same tricks, tools and reasoning of Holmes, Wilde sets about first trying to prove that the boy was indeed murdered and second hunting down the killer. This man-hunt takes Oscar and his friends into the fascinating and somewhat questionable parts of London; from high-class restaurants and drawing rooms to the bizarre world of London's Victorian era "counter culture."

Brandreth does a remarkable job of weaving fiction and fact. He uses known facts about Wilde's life (his marriage, his family and friends, his lifestyle that eventually ended in his exile from England). The language is even dead on for the period setting. Brandreth also managed to master the witty, curious and unique style of speech that Oscar Wilde is so well known for. There were times I forgot that I was reading fiction.

Even if you are not typically drawn to mystery novels or Victorian-era work, Oscar Wilde and a Death of No Importance should be on your list of "must reads." You will be captivated by the language, the plot and the history so meticuously written by Brandreth.

I give this novel five out of five stars.


About Denise:

Denise Keene has been a Special Ed teacher for 15 years now and likes to write articles about various related topics. She also owns the site Masters In Special Education.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

CJ Reviews - The Snark Handbook: A Reference Guide to Verbal Sparring by Lawrence Dorfman

ISBN #: 978-1602397606
Page Count: 192
Copyright: 2009
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

It's impossible to go a full day without using snark, so why fight it? Snark is everywhere, from television to movies to everyday life. This lively collection provides hours of entertainment - better than an Etch-A-Sketch, and more fun than Silly Putty! At the heart of it, being in a state of snark can be one of the most useful tools at one's disposal and hence (yes, I used "hence"), a powerful way to get what you want. With snark, you can catch people completely off-guard, and royally piss them off.


CJ's Review:

The Snark Handbook: A Reference Guide to Verbal Sparring by Lawrence Dorfman was both quick and fun to read. I think that everyone uses snarkiness in conversation these days. In case you don't know, snark means: biting wit, smartass remark, slyly disparaging comment or bastardization of.

I was drawn to this book for the simple reason that being snarky is just another way to make people laugh, which I like to do. This is basically a book that leads you through 14 chapters of any kind of condition in life and gives you examples of snarky remarks or situations in which snarkism can be used. The chapters go in this order:
  1. Sex
  2. Relationships
  3. Children
  4. Work
  5. Money and the Economy
  6. Politics and the Media
  7. Drugs, Drinking and the Law
  8. Movies
  9. Television
  10. Literature
  11. Music
  12. Sports
  13. Religion
  14. Death and Dying
What I thought was cool was that you got quotes from plenty of famous people, from Eleanor Roosevelt to Denis Leary, on snarkiness. I laughed so much at this book that I have to give you some examples from it. And they are ...
  • Never give me work in the morning. Always wait until 4 p.m. and then bring it in to me. The challenge of a deadline is refreshing.
  • I can't believe that out of 10,000 sperm, you were the quickest. - Steven Pearl
  • My mother never saw the irony of calling me son-of-a-bitch. - Jack Nicholson
Anyway, those are just a few ... if you get the opportunity to read this book, don't let that opportunity pass you by. Very funny read.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Charlene Reviews - An Inconvenient Amish Zombie Left Behind the Da Vinci Diet Code Truth by Tom Smucker

ISBN #: 978-1461177746
Page Count: 344
Copyright: 2011
Publisher: CreateSpace


Synopsis:

Goya? Bad Diets? Mud Hens? The Rapture? The War of 1812? Global Warming? Political Conspiracy? Violence on USA borders? The lost history of Soft Rock?

Follow the non-stop action from the museums and cafes of Paris to the fast food rest stops and motels on the highways of Ohio, as past and future collide to create an apocalyptical present where people from all walks of life are pulled into a conflict that will determine the fate of the planet.


Charlene's Review:

An Inconvenient Amish Zombie Left Behind the Da Vinci Diet Code Truth features many characters of equal importance, all perched at the edge of a world-wide phenomenon. To even attempt to describe this book would take half of the fun out of it. The best I can do is say that it is a tilt-a-whirl of patriotic, religious, pop culture, satirical craziness! Interspersed throughout are historical tidbits, which give this an educational value, but I truly enjoyed it for the intelligence and humor. Mr. Smucker left very few cultural/hot button issues untouched. Confusing, entertaining, educational, and disturbing - what more could you want in a book?? Absolutely its own genre. Loved it!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Book Teaser: Hot Water by Erin Brockovich with CJ Lyons


Below is the first chapter of Erin Brockovich's newest book (released today!!!), Hot Water. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.  I'll be reviewing soon.  =)


Chapter 1

Summer in the mountains of West Virginia has a magic of its own, like a fairy tale come true. For me, it was a fairy tale paid for with blood.

It was August. After five months back home in Scotia (population 864) I'd just about gotten used to folks looking away from me and mumbling about how I'd gotten the man I loved killed and almost got my dad and son killed and just about drowned the entire valley in toxic sludge.

"That's AJ Palladino," they'd say, crossing to the other side of the street as I passed, in case I rubbed off on them. "Yeah, that AJ Palladino."

I ignored them. Didn't much care what people said about me as long as they didn't take it out on my nine-year-old, David. And, I have to admit, Scotia did treat David like the hero his dad had once been. They embraced him despite his two disabilities (or abilities, depending on your point of view): having cerebral palsy, which left him mostly wheelchair-bound, and being a genius.

Despite how the town's acceptance of him, David still wasn't so sure about Scotia. He was hit hard by the death of his dad. I tried everything, even enrolled him in some online courses. Stuff I didn't understand but he was interested in, like the Phonology of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics and Einstein, Oppenheimer, Feynman: Physics in the 20th Century. He'd bury himself in them, working like a fever, finishing a semester's worth of material in a few weeks, and then would promptly slide back into boredom and despair.

Given my family's tendency for obsessions -- addictions, really, holding on too hard, too long -- I was more than a bit worried.

My friend Ty Stillwater, a sheriff's deputy K-9 officer, and his partner, Nikki, a beautiful Belgium Malinois, finally broke David free from his mourning.

Ty somehow found a way to make wheelchair accessible every mountain adventure that a boy could love. He and David would leave at first light and show up again for dinner at my gram's kitchen covered in battle scars. Once, Ty took David rafting down the New River, and they came back half-drowned, sunburned, and sporting matching black eyes that they refused to tell us how they got. They would burst into laughter every time they caught sight of each other.

I loved hearing David laugh but couldn't help but worry each time he left. For too many years I'd raised David alone, and it was difficult getting used to sharing him with others who loved him as much as I did. Not to mention the fact that I was and am a total control freak, especially about David. But I suffered in silence -- David hates it when I try to rein in his independence.

Besides, I was busy enough with work to take my mind mostly off David's scrapes and bruises and poison ivy. My new business partner, Elizabeth Hardy, the legal half of our consumer advocacy firm, turned out to have a gift for negotiation, so our first few cases ended quickly and happily for our clients and were profitable for us. All in all, summer felt enchanted, magical.

Even the weather cooperated. The storm clouds that gathered every afternoon remained empty threats. They'd scowl down at Scotia, then scurry away to dump their rain elsewhere.

But sooner or later, the storm has to break and you're going to get soaked.

Which was how I came to be yelling at the man in the Armani suit.

I knew it was an Armani suit because I'd dealt with enough of them when I'd worked in D.C. Not sure how they did it, but it seemed as if every suit jacket had an attitude sewn into the lining: money can buy anything.

Well, it wasn't buying me.

Elizabeth and I hadn't risked everything -- including our lives -- to start this advocacy firm just to be dictated to by a guy who happened to have enough money to indulge his taste in designer suits.

Armani guy's name was Owen Grandel, and he'd flown all the way up from South Carolina to consult with Elizabeth and me. He was in his late thirties, trim in that personal-trainer executive way, with a shaved head that focused your attention on his dark eyes and spray-tan complexion.

He had not come to Scotia to be abused. Or so his expression informed me without bothering with words.

"We aren't in the business of whitewashing a corporation's dirty laundry," I continued, in the mood for a fight and quite happy that Grandel was obliging.

He said nothing. Simply crossed his arms over his chest, leaned his shoulders back, and smiled. The kind of smile you give a precocious kid who's acting out and you're tolerating his behavior just because you know how wrong he is.

David hates it when I smile at him that way.

Thankfully Elizabeth stepped between us before I tried to wipe that smile off Grandel's face. We were in the living room of her house -- which doubled as our office space -- and she had just brought coffee on a tray. "I'm sorry, Mr. Grandel, we're out of cream. Will milk do?"

I rolled my eyes as she almost curtsied. Then, while Grandel busied himself mixing and stirring his coffee, finally taking a seat in the Queen Anne chair beside the fireplace, Elizabeth glanced over her shoulder at me with a glare that could have sparked tinder.

Play nice, she mouthed at me, as if we're the one making trouble. She sat down across from Grandel, smoothing her skirt and crossing her ankles like a lady before reaching for her own cup of coffee.

This is why I usually let Elizabeth handle the suits. I'm more of a field person -- get me out there with the regular folks and I'll get to the truth of what's what and who's who and figure out a way to fix things. Then it's up to Elizabeth to cross the legal "t's," negotiate a workable solution for all parties, and collect our paycheck.

So far it's been a pretty good system. Until today.

"I'm not sure that you understand exactly what we do, Mr. Grandel." Elizabeth leaned across the table to snag a sugar cube, her sleeve brushing against his knee.

I barely contained my snort. It was very obvious Grandel didn't understand anything except what his money could buy.

"Oh, but I do, Ms. Hardy." He leaned back and crossed his legs, watching her through half-shut eyes.

When I worked in D.C., I knew men like him. Smooth, charming. Sociopaths. Women would fall all over themselves to do whatever they wanted. Poor sad, he had no idea who he was up against. Elizabeth wasn't like that.

"Which is why I'm willing to pay extra. Above your customary fee schedule." With an elegant flourish of his manicured fingers, he slid a check from his pocket and placed it in front of her.

Elizabeth has a pretty good poker face, but I could tell the amount on the check rocked her. She took a sip of coffee and set her cup down beside the check, ignoring it.

"That's half," he persisted when she didn't leap at his offer. "You get the same when you finish."

"And who decides when the job is finished?"

I stepped forward, unwilling to believe she was even considering.

She glared at me and I froze.

"You do, of course." His voice was a low bedroom purr.

Her mouth twisted as she considered. Then she stood in one graceful movement, taking the check with her. "We need to consult about this."

"Of course," he said with a gracious wave of his hand, as if it were his house, not hers. "Take all the time you need."

I know my mouth dropped open because I felt it snap shut again when she took my arm and dragged me out of the room and across the hall to our shared office in what used to be the dining room. She closed the door behind us, then sagged back against it.

"Holy shit, AJ."

The check dropped from  her fingers, flitting through the air on the sultry August breeze wafting in through the open windows, and curled up on the hardwood floor, face down. I picked it up, turned it over.

My face went cold as I read the amount. Counted the zeroes. Five of them. My mind did a back flip -- no, that figure couldn't be right -- then sloshed right side up as I looked again.

Half a million dollars. Which meant a million for the entire job if we took it.

Enough to send David to any college he wanted, to bankroll our company for the next decade, to be able to work on projects that really mattered. Freedom, security, opportunity.

All I'd have to do was betray everything I believed in and let myself be bought.


Author Bios

Erin Brockovich, author of Hot Water, is the real life inspiration behind the Oscar-winning movie that bears her name. Today she continues to perform legal work as a director of environmental research and is involved in consulting on numerous toxic waste investigations. She is active on the motivational speaking circuit, with a thriving lecture series and a television talk show in development. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

CJ Lyons, co-author of Hot Water, is an award-winning medical suspense author of such books as Lifelines, Warning Signs, and Urgent Care. Trained in pediatric emergency medicine, she has assisted police and prosecutors with cases involving child abuse, homicide, and more. She has also worked as a crisis counselor and victim advocate.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mandy Reviews - American Gangbang: A Love Story by Sam Benjamin

ISBN #: 978-1-4516-2778-7
Page Count: 312
Copyright: 2011
Publisher: Gallery Books


Book Summary:
(Taken from dust jacket)

In 1999, after four years of studying at Brown University, Sam Benjamin heads to California in a twenty-year-old Volvo, dead set on turning himself into an artist, despite his complete lack of talent. There, stoned, he has an epiphany - he will make progressive porn. And so begins his turbulent journey ...

In whip-smart, lyrical prose, Benjamin traces his three-year immersion into the world of Hollywood's bleak, screen-glow-lit doppelganger: the southern California sex industry. His rapid ascent from the dingy storefront rental of a starving artist to the multimillion-dollar Malibu villa of a full-fledged porn producer confronts him with the uncomfortably alluring realities of America's strangest industry: gun-toting actors, high on terrible, drug-induced potency; giggling actresses battling internal demons in wobbly heels and pink fishnets; the insatiable consumer demands to sink ever lower, more exploitative, nastier. The result is the titillating, dramatic chronicle of a young man who invites the deepest, most troubling parts of himself to rise to the surface in order to get a good look at them - only to find that what he sees makes his world seem suddenly very small.


Mandy's Review:

The cover is absolutely gorgeous. I love black and white photographs. The title is cheeky and daring... which I love as well. When I received the book, I was drawn to these two things right away. Then I began to read the reviews printed on the front and back covers. They, along with the summary on the inside flap, gave me high hopes for this book.

I was seriously let down.

I read half of the book and could not bring myself to finish it. Oh, I flipped through the last half hoping to glance upon some morsel or tidbit of literary genius that would make me want to pick up where I left off ... Didn't happen.

The language of the book, which was extremely vulgar in most places, was something I expected to see given the book's topic. Basically, you have a 20-something North Carolinian male just entering California and becoming involved in the porn industry ... Yeah, the writing's going to get raunchy.

The book even held my attention for the first few chapters when he was describing his initial struggle getting started in porn and then finally telling his parents. After awhile though, the author's story just seemed to repeat itself, except in different settings with different people. It was like watching a bunch of porn at once and getting tired of hearing and seeing the same stuff over and over again.

What I was really hoping for, and which I only got a little bit of, was the backgrounds and histories of the women and men who became porn stars. Now, I realize this is a memoir and, therefore, about the author, but the back-stories could've easily been interspersed throughout the book.

I can congratulate anyone who finds a legitimate way to support themselves. I have just found that I cannot always read their memoir.

Sorry Sam.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Mandy Reviews: Ghost Trackers by Jason Hawes & Grant Wilson

ISBN #: 978-1-4516-5117-1
Page Count: 369
Copyright: 2011
Publisher: Gallery Books


Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

For fifteen years, Amber, Drew, and Trevor have barely been able to recall - let alone explain - what happened the terrifying night they decided to explore the old, abandoned Lowry House. According to local legend, the house was cursed by a dark past and inhabited by evil. It burst into flames on the night of their visit, leaving the friends traumatized and nearly dead with only vague memories of the frightening events they had witnessed inside. Now, on the eve of their high school reunion, they have gathered to reopen their investigation and figure out, once and for all, what took place that fateful night ... before the supernatural entity they escaped threatens to overtake them again.


Mandy's Review:

Cover

Spooky and mysterious... it's the perfect cover for a ghost story.

Plot

Three friends reunite after 15 years. They go back to their old hometown for their high school reunion. When they first come together, again, they discuss the old days and some of the weirdness they've experienced since that fateful night. They eventually decide to go back to the place of their nightmares to see if they can remember what happened to them.

Main Characters

Drew - Analytical, dependable, has had feelings for Amber since high school.

Trevor - Writer, travels around looking for truly haunted places. He provides the comic relief among his friends.

Amber - Pretty, has mutual feelings for Drew, but she's pretty messed up in the head.

Overall

While I did enjoy this story, I had some issues with it also. Some of the things I enjoyed were:
  • The story flowed reasonably well
  • Easy to read
  • Characters were fleshed out and relatable
Things I didn't care for:
  • Reminded me, in several instances, of Stephen King's It, which is my all-time favorite King novel.
    • Evil presence luring same people back years later for a final showdown
    • Child versions of said people lose their memories of one eventful night, until reunited together again as adults and re-enter the "Bad Place."
  • Ending was too ... soft. I was expecting a huge finale, a major showdown, but all I got was feeling cheated. The whole book built up well towards a huge ending, but the ending was lackluster and disappointing.
I would recommend this book to supernatural book lovers ... just don't have high expectations for the ending.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Kathy Reviews: Confessions by Ryne Douglas Pearson

ISBN #: 978-0615458120
Page Count: 230
Copyright: 2011
Publisher: Schmuck & Underwood


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Three bullets. Two killers. A life taken.

Five years after his sister, Katie, was murdered, Father Michael Jerome has moved on with his life, but has never forgotten that terrible time. Has never stopped wondering who killed her.

And why.

When a dying criminal's confession points Michael toward answers to these questions, he embarks on a journey of discovery that leads him to Christine Wheeler, a friend of his sister's past who expresses doubts about the circumstances of Katie's murder. Doubts that force Michael down a path where revelations shatter a lifetime of illusions held about those closest to him, and uncover a web of deceit crafted to keep a dark truth from ever being known.

But every secret he uncovers, every lie he unravels, leads him to realize that someone is desperate for the past to stay buried.


Kathy's Review:

This is a fast-paced thriller that focuses on priest, Michael Jerome, who discovers a clue as to who killed his sister as he is attending the last rites of a criminal. The case had been dropped and had never been resolved, especially after Michael's father, a cop, retired from the force, mainly to care for his wife, who is suffering from Alzheimer's. Michael becomes obsessed with finding out the truth, and gets himself in over his head. Just when you think this story is headed down a cliche path, it completely changes course and delivers a twist you won't see coming - even though I'm telling you it's coming!

A short, 250-page read, this one will keep you guessing and turning the pages. The character of Michael is fairly deep and fleshed out nicely through his own memories and thoughts during the course of the story. The only thing I'm not sure I liked about this book is the many "sins" Michael commits as he is searching for his sister. Perhaps that's the point of the novel to have the priest slowly come unraveled, lie to his friends, family, etc. And then his relationship with his sister's friend, Chris(tine). Their relationship seems to be heading down a romantic path at the end of the novel. It just seems like his vows of priesthood are cast out of the window from the moment he hears the confession of the dying man, Erik.

Confessions could easily be turned into a movie and would probably be a blockbuster. The author, Pearson, does have a few other books that were adapted for the big screen, so this one could be next! If you are a fan of the thriller genre, I highly recommend you check this one out.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Charlene Reviews: From My Mother by Margreet Dietz

ISBN #: 978-1456471347
Page Count: 204
Copyright: 2011
Publisher: CreateSpace


Synopsis:

As experienced marathoner Nadia embarks on her biggest challenge yet, a 100-kilometre ultra run, her thoughts turn to her maternal grandmother, who emigrated to the Netherlands in the early 1950s as a young widow, escaping Czechoslovakia in the aftermath of a Communist coup d'etat. As Nadia struggles with unexpected obstacles in the longest race of her life, the parallels with her grandmother become clearer. However, Nadia also realizes that Oma, now 94, has been tested far more than her granddaughter likely ever will.


Charlene's Review:

From My Mother is a parallel story, focusing on the obstacles faced while running long distances, and the obstacles faced by the runner's grandmother as she faced emigration from her home in Czechoslovakia during Communist takeover. As she competes in her first ultra run, roughly 62 miles, Nadia thinks back on the stories her grandmother has shared, and reflects on how dogged determination may run in her family.

From My Mother is a very touching story of a matriarch that deeply ingrains survival into her family. Largely a book filled with a marathoner's mindset, all of the technical and running jargon do not detract from the story of a love between granddaughter and "Oma" that spans continents, and the hardships that molded the generations into persevering, strong women. The freedom Nadia feels as she runs also parallels the freedom her grandmother struggled so hard to find. This is a novel that successfully integrates heart and sport.
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