Sunday, December 30, 2012

{Review} Dizzy: A Fictional Memoir by Arthur Wooten

ISBN #: 978-0985052942
Page Count: 214
Copyright: December 5, 2012
Publisher: Galaxias Productions


Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

Inspired by Arthur Wooten's life, Dizzy is a unique read in that it's a fictional memoir that marries two genres: an exciting backstage show business tale coupled with a frightening medical drama.

Angie Styles, a beloved Broadway star, is struck down at the height of her career by a mysterious disease and is forced to reexamine her life and the people in it as she fights to survive.


Mandy's Review:

Nobody ever thinks bad things will happen to them. We have a tendency to live our days as if we're invincible, rarely thinking about the "what if"s or planning ahead. Angie lived her life as many of us do: day-to-day. She was a triple-threat on the Broadway stage; she could sing, dance, and act. When she began having medical problems, she wasn't sure how to handle it. Everything she held dear, and that defined who she was, was being taken away from her. Not seeing any alternatives, she contemplated suicide.

What I loved most about this story was that it shows me more of who Arthur Wooten really is. If you've ever had conversations with him, no matter how brief, he is a very personable and friendly gentleman. I adore him. To now know what he has to deal with makes him a hero in my eyes. I cannot imagine having to deal with as serious of a problem as he, and his character Angie, has to deal with. You basically have to relearn your whole life over again. It takes a strong person to be able to do that and do it with the joy and love that Arthur personifies.

I tip my proverbial hat to you, Arthur. I have the continuing immense pleasure in getting to know you. Now that I know more of your story through Angie's telling of hers, I commend you for your will and determination.

If any of you enjoy a story about perseverance and a person's will to fight, then I'd recommend you pick up a copy of Dizzy.


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

Saturday, December 29, 2012

2013 TBR Pile Challenge


It's that time of the year when all book-lovers are posting and signing up for the next year's reading challenges ... and we are no exception! Mandy and Kathy are participating in Roof Beam Reader's 2013 TBR Pile Challenge. You can find Mandy's list below. Kathy has posted her list at (one of) her (many) personal blog site(s): Grown Up Book Reports.

We will be adding a page link to the right for all of the 2013 challenges we are participating in this year so it can be easily found should you like to follow our progress.

Are you participating in this reading challenge? Why or why not?


Mandy's 2013 TBR Pile Challenge List:
  1. 11/22/63 by Stephen King
  2. Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison
  3. Drood by Dan Simmons
  4. The Godforsaken by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
  5. A Blue & Gray Christmas by Joan Medlicott
  6. Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice
  7. A Time to Kill by John Grisham
  8. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  9. Falling Under by Gwen Hayes
  10. The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis
  11. Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson
  12. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Alternates:
  1. Loved by Morgan Rice
  2. Unearthly by Cynthia Hand


Friday, December 28, 2012

{Review} Midnight in Aisle 7 by Jay Lowder

ISBN #: 978-1616386085
Page Count: 240
Copyright: September 4, 2012
Publisher: Passio


Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

You never know when God will show up.

At some point we all feel abandoned - by a friend, spouse, family member, or even God. We search to discover meaning for our lives. Often religion tries to confine the answers we seek to church buildings and candy-coated sermons, but in life's darkest moments hope is sometimes illuminated through the most unlikely people at the most unforeseen times. In Midnight in Aisle Seven Jay Lowder presents encouraging, raw, genuine stories of real people, including himself, to demonstrate how anyone, anywhere, can experience an encounter that brings significance to life.


Mandy's Review:

Growing up I was taken to church every time the doors were opened. We stuck with one religion: Pentecostal. Not the extreme version where women can't cut their hair, wear pants or makeup, or where people handled snakes. Oh, no ... if we went to a Pentecostal church like that, I'd be running for the hills. The church I went to had people speaking in tongues and falling out in the Spirit. Being around all of that should have had me on fire for God. As Jay mentions in his book (and I'm paraphrasing here), when you grow up around that type of environment you're bound to take it for granted.

What I've realized lately is that your religion doesn't matter. It's your relationship with God that matters. I've also been realizing how critical and judgmental I am of others. I'm by no means perfect and I've known that. The church I go to now has a pastor that's "on the same page" as Jay Lowder. The church I go to now focuses on people and not the religion. When I read the passage below in Jay's book, it struck me like a slap in the face ...

"Jesus never favored the religious; His darlings were always the hurting and the sinful, not the self-righteous. He never tired of showing His love for renegades. It is ironic that we tend to be drawn the least to the people He was drawn to the most."

The people in my church are not perfect. There are those who have tattoos, like beer, enjoy rock music and occasionally curse in moments of anger. They are real people with a heart for God and are doing their best to live out the passage above by focusing on the hurting and the sinful.

Midnight in Aisle Seven is a very encouraging book that speaks to the heart and soul of a person. I feel as Jay does when he says:

"Undeniably and without apology my faith plays the biggest role in my outlook and viewpoints on life. Regrettably, I am not always a perfect example of what I say I believe. Maybe you have been betrayed by someone like me, who claimed an allegiance to Christ. Perhaps your greatest hurts came at the hands of the religious. Maybe you're convinced people who call themselves believers in Jesus are not compassionate or loving but just narrow-minded critics of anyone who does not embrace their opinions.

I don't fault you for drawing these conclusions. I was once one of those people who called themselves a Christian and was everything except a good example of Christ. Many of the accusations made against people of faith are deserved and earned. However, as you read the following pages, I hope you can objectively consider that the picture of God that has been painted for you may not be a true representation of who He really is. Perhaps you can find what many people in this book have found, which is a love, understanding, and hope they never thought possible."


*A paperback copy of the book was provided through the publicist in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

{Review} Jinn Nation by Caroline Barnard-Smith

ISBN #: 978-1461000747
Page Count: 340
Copyright: July 2, 2011
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Once, the vampire Dylan had feared nothing and no one. He'd rampaged throughout the world on a seemingly never ending quest to fill his eternal years with the finest, most outrageous extravagances; with exquisite, soft-limbed young women and copious amounts of rich, vibrating blood. But life, however full of joy, inevitably changes.

Finding himself alone for the first time in his long unlife, Dylan turns to the preternatural race of savage creatures called the jinn - a path that inevitably leads him to Christa, a strangely childlike woman with the power to control minds and read thoughts. Mutually intrigued by each other, they set out on a blood-soaked road trip that crosses the United States and the Atlantic Ocean, finally leading them beyond the world itself to the mysterious fae kingdoms of the Inbetween.


Mandy's Review:

Despite the inundation of vampires since the Twilight movies, I never seem to grow tired of reading about them. Perhaps it's because they're sexy as hell. Perhaps it's because I love my neck bitten and imagining a vampire doing that is extremely erotic. Whatever it is, I love vampires ... but I'm not sure that I love Dylan.

He's tall, dark and handsome, of course, but there's just something about his personality that I'm not attracted to. I think it's the fact that he's so needy of acceptance and companionship. Or maybe it's because he's now fearful of certain people. I like my vampires to be confident and on the verge of arrogance. Yes, I can imagine being the only vampire would become a little depressing and lonely, but there's just something that didn't click with me where Dylan's concerned.

I also thought Christa is a little psychotic. She's one of those crazy, bipolar-esque women that men eventually tire from. Christa does have special powers and is the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy, but she's annoyed when she finds this out. She searches for someone who can remove this power from her because she just wants to be "normal," aka selfish. Let's be honest, though ... how many of you, once you found out that you were the key to an ancient prophecy and had people coming up to you worshiping you for what you were going to do, would grow tired and annoyed with your "special powers?" I think I would. I think I would consider the same thing Christa did: find someone to remove these powers from me. Be careful, though, because you never know what you've got until it's gone.

Introducing the jinn was an interesting twist to this story that I appreciated. The jinn aren't really creatures. They're humans who've had special stones sewn into their stomachs. To gain power, they kill and eat the choicest organs from (mostly) young women. Sound disgusting? I'm right there with ya ... It is a disgusting concept, but one that I have to give props to the author for. I'm not sure how she came up with that grotesque idea, but it's a good one.

One critique I will make, and this goes for all authors, please stop having your female characters think they have food poisoning when they're really pregnant. I do get tired of reading that.

Overall, this story was captivating and entertaining. I was able to read it through in two sittings (one does have to get some sleep). If you're a fan of vampires or the paranormal, this book would be right up your dark alley.


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

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

{Review} Capsize by William Van Dorn

ASIN #: B004X6LR8Q
File Size: 401 KB
Page Count: 212
Copyright: April 18, 2011
Publisher: Amazon


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Imagine ... you are snugly asleep in the bunk of your chartered diving boat, when it flips upside down, fills with water, and sinks within four minutes!

Of fourteen passengers and crew, only six manage to crawl out into icy water and make it to the surface in a raging windstorm.

The rest of this incredible story accounts the heroic survival efforts of those who escaped the sinking, not as a group, but mostly as individuals.

Many other groups and individuals are involved in the massive international rescue effort prompted by a sturdy boat's disappearance without warning.


Mandy's Review:

The best thing I can say about this book? It was well-written and grammatically correct. There were some exciting moments and moments of suspense, but overall ... this book was boring.

The reader is taken from a few minutes before the boat capsizes until the moment all survivors are rescued. I think I would have rather read about what the passengers were doing before this final trip and then had the ending be the capsized boat where I'm left to wonder about whether or not there were any survivors.

It just hit me ... this story feels as if it's the unseen story between the final chapter and the epilogue at the end of a book. So, it's not a bad story, but it is a story I could have done without.


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

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

{Review} Self-Made Scoundrel (The Valley of Ten Crescents #2) by Tristan J. Tarwater

ASIN #: B0090NFRY2
File Size: 457 KB
Page Count: 380
Copyright: August 20, 2012
Publisher: Back That Elf Up


Book Summary:
(Taken from Goodreads)

Dershik Cartaskin is the heir to the Cartaskin Barony, a distinguished and ambitious household in the Valley of Ten Crescents. When his father sets his sights higher than the Sword and the Seat, Dershik refuses to take on a legacy of unquestioned power, abandoning those he loves for their benefit and his personal desires.

Taking on the name 'Derk' and a life of thievery, he strives to transform his world. The Holy Church, a cunning streetswoman, a peculiar guide, a beautiful priestess and a secret organization; Derk must face them all and forge his own legacy within the Valley of Ten Crescents.


Kathy's Review:

I was looking forward to reading this one, as I had immensely enjoyed the first book of this series, Thieves at Heart. Self-Made Scoundrel is a prequel, focusing on Derk. The book covers many years of Derk's life, including his youth, so the reader can see the progression of events which made him the man he is. We see familiar characters like Old Gam make an appearance, and get a deeper insight into their complicated relationship. Not to give too much away, but Tavera, his "adopted" daughter, makes an appearance in this story, too. Tarwater does an excellent job of developing deep and complex characters, flaws and all.

I like the idea of this series having a prequel. If this had been the first book, I don't think I would have been as invested in Derk's story, his relationship with Sindra, and how he became involved with the Cup. I think it was a smart decision by the author to set up the series in this way. Now I am looking forward to the continued adventures of Derk and Tavi! I also wouldn't mind seeing more written about Derk's brother, left behind to rule the barony in Derk's absence. Overall, this is a wonderfully written and imagined series that will keep you emotionally invested throughout.


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

Monday, December 24, 2012

{Review} Merlin's Kin by Everett Coles

ASIN #: B003ZSILNC
File Size: 471 KB
Page Count: 312
Copyright: August 16, 2010
Publisher: Acclaimed Books


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Unaware of the compulsion put upon them by the sleeping spirit of Merlin the Magician, Francis Steele and his four friends explore the subterranean chambers of an old ruin. Lost, they escape through a door to the outside only to find themselves in a new and unbelievable world where mammoths draw gigantic caravans and two great blue moons light up the night sky. Here too are primitive birds - small, sly and intelligent; unicorns and huge fighting beasts; Big Foot is here and a race of Elf-like creatures as well as the descendants of King Arthur's knights who long ago lost the ideals of chivalry.

Against this backdrop, the fifteen year old Francis and friends have to find their way back to their own world while making sense of this one and helping Merlin to keep his secret cave hidden.

The story races along with caverns used as a prison, manned bird racing and slave trading all mixed in with magics rediscovered by the heroes.

Welcome to Merlin's world, explore it, enjoy it, but read carefully.


Mandy's Review:

Let me start by saying that I have enjoyed other works written by these two authors. And, when I read the summary for this book, I was excited to begin reading this novel. Sadly, I couldn't even finish reading it.

The beginning was exciting and reminded me of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe where the children entered the magical land through the back of the wardrobe. Once the children in this novel passed through the magical portal into the new land, it started to go downhill for me. I stuck with it until the children went to go live with the Harrimen. I just couldn't continue with it after that.

My apologies to the authors ... I tried putting this story down and then going back to it, thinking maybe I just needed a small break. Sometimes that works for me. It just didn't this time. I'm not saying that this is a bad book as the part I read was well-written, but it's just not for me.


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

Sunday, December 23, 2012

{Review} Full Circle: Electronics Afterlife by Alfred R. Taylor

ISBN #: 978-1477614587
Page Count: 276
Copyright: June 27, 2012
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

Mark Aaron, a historical researcher for Nora Corporation, is summoned to the office of the president and C.E.O. Instead of taking the offered promotion, he leaves for what he believes to be a vacation with his wife. Instead, a plane crash begins a five-hundred-year odyssey through time, space, and history. To save his wife, his unborn child, and humanity itself, Mark and his companion Jane, a Gamma class android, must travel to the year 1842 to prevent the premature assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Along the way, they become enmeshed in the politics of Springfield, Illinois; encounter Abraham Lincoln, Mary Todd, and James Shields; and create controversy themselves by applying 21st century ethics to 19th century problems.


Charlene's Review:

When Mark Aaron leaves on vacation in 2004 and is the victim of a plane crash and an electrical accident, he never expects to wake up in the year 2373 as an android. Awakening on the interplanetary spaceship, Phaedrus, his first contact is with Karl Romanji. Romanji is determined to send androids back in time to repair the damage done by technology. Mark is tasked with returning to the year 1970 and killing Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, therefore discouraging any technology involving semiconductor chips. His immediate challenge, however, is the android named Danberry, who may have already arrived in the past, and plans to assassinate Abraham Lincoln.

In reading Full Circle: Electronic Afterlife I have to admit, it was, at times, over my head as far as "techy" stuff goes. I was a bit confused in a few places and had to re-read a portion or so, especially in the first couple chapters. After all the "ground work" was complete, though, it became quite an enjoyable story, as it wound future technology with well-known historical figures in a new and exciting way. I especially enjoyed the author's view of Mary Todd, and how Mark struggled with his human memories while living an android's life.

Glimpses of our country's past, and how far technology has advanced, makes this novel even more engrossing, as everyone, I believe, has wondered how far advances should safely go.

I anticipate Mr. Taylor's insights as he continues this series, and look forward to more adventures with Mark Aaron. This series would appeal to teen or adult, especially those with "techy" interests. Full Circle: Electronic Afterlife is a very well developed storyline that entertains and educates.

4 out of 5 stars.


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

Thursday, December 20, 2012

{Review} The Possibility of You by Pamela Redmond

ISBN #: 978-1451616422
Page Count: 384
Copyright: February 21, 2012
Publisher: Gallery Books


Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

1916. It was the one thing Bridget was supposed to never let happen. But no matter how many times she replayed the steps in her head, she couldn't reanimate the small pale boy who lay limp in her arms.

1976. Billie felt as if she'd been wrenched in half more surely than when the baby had been cut from h er body. But she felt something else too: happy to think only of her own needs, her own tears. So light she could float away, somewhere no one would ever find her.

The present. Even if Cait never found her birth mother, even if she decided not to have this baby, to leave her lover and kiss her parents good-bye, she was surrounded by so much emotion, so many questions, that she felt as if she might never be free again.


Mandy's Review:

The possibility, or idea, of someone is often more grand in our mind than it is in reality. Then, when reality does strike us in the face, we sometimes make rash decisions that will affect us in the long-run.

Bridget's idea of someone pertained to her employer. She imagined her employer to have a motherly heart and actually care about other people outside of herself. Bridget learned the hard way that this isn't so. The lesson she learned came too late and caused her the one person she cherished most.

Billie was delusional in her idea of a man. She (stupidly) fell in love with a man she knew to be bisexual. She had the idea, as most of us do, that she could change him. They did get beyond friendship, and even had a "relationship," but he was still messing around with other men behind her back. Although, it wasn't really behind her back because she knew he was probably doing it, but she chose to turn a blind eye. She lived her life by the motto "out of sight, out of mind." It ends up biting her in the butt, though, when she winds up pregnant.

The longing in Cait's idea of her birth mother was palpable. When Cait found out she was pregnant, that ignited something in her that wouldn't let her go until she found out who her real mother was. She loved her adoptive parents and has been happy with them, but Cait needed to find out as much as she could about her real mother in order to get a sense of who she was and what kind of genetics were in her. Cait's story turned out the best in an ending that was as happy as you can get.

I love that the author took the "possibility of you" thought and turned it into this novel. It was entertaining to read and packed with real emotions. It almost made me wonder if the author, herself, has been in these circumstances in her own life. It is a wonderful story that I will wind up reading again.


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

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

{Review} Broken Christmas by David Henderson

ASIN #: B009NFA8NW
File Size: 208 KB
Page Count: 52
Copyright: October 7, 2012
Publisher: Pope, Harrington & Castro Press (1.1 Edition)


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Broken Christmas is a compilation of three short stories about Christmas.

In the first, "Fourth Wish," a skid row resident finds himself leading a trio of privileged but neglected youths on Christmas Eve. Through their journey the homeless man fulfills their Christmas wishes, showing that sometimes those who need help the most are the ones who help others the greatest.

The second; "Best Christmas Ever," is an eight year old's "glass half full" remembrance of a Christmas Eve his parents would rather forget.

The third story, "Broken Christmas" tells of a soldier who leaves the frozen battlefield behind and goes home for Christmas via his dreams.


Mandy's Review:

Every situation you encounter is all about your perception of it. The same is true with these stories.

In the first, a homeless man is leading three young boys around the city giving them Christmas presents. Any person who saw them would think dirty thoughts about the old man. To the boys, they were having the times of their lives! To the homeless man, he finally felt useful and needed.

The second story showed the adults as annoyed, manipulative, and deceitful. To the little boy remembering this Christmas, it was the most exciting one he'd ever had! New puppies, seeing his uncle home from "Australia," finding out he's going to be an uncle himself, and seeing fireworks going off across the street at his neighbor's house.

The final story was sad and I had a difficult time trying to find the positive feeling in its words. The soldier did go him via his dreams, but I still thought it sad that he wasn't able to go home at all.

Although short, these stories are enjoyable to read. I would like to see the first story expanded to include how the man became homeless (a more in-depth telling of it, maybe) and what happened to him after he returned the children. The other two stories were the perfect length.

Add this book to your holiday collection if you're looking for a quick read.


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

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

{Review} Falling (Girl with Broken Wings) by J Bennett

ASIN #: B006SNSHBM
File Size: 376 KB
Page Count: 289
Copyright: January 1, 2012
Publisher: J Bennett


Book Summary:
(Taken from Goodreads)

Maya knew something was wrong. The stranger's glowing hands were a big tipoff.

When the stranger murders Maya's boyfriend with a single touch, drags her to an abandoned storage unit, and injects her with a DNA-altering serum, Maya prays for a savior.

Instead, the college sophomore gets a double helping of knight-in-not-so-shining-armor when two young men claiming to be her half-brothers pull off a belated rescue. Now Maya is swiftly transforming into an "angel," one of the scientifically-enhanced, energy-sucking creatures her brothers have spent their whole lives trying to destroy.

Maya's senses sharpen, her body becomes strong and agile, and she develops the ability to visually see the emotions of those around her as colorful auras ... beautiful auras ... tempting auras.

One brother wants to save her. The other wants to kill her before she becomes too strong. Maya just wants to go home.

Struggling to control the murderous appetite that fuels her new abilities, Maya must find a way to accept her altered condition and learn to trust her brothers as she joins them in their battle against the secret network of powerful and destructive angels.

Oh, and she'd like a few words with the one who changed her. Words, then lots of stabbing.


Kathy's Review:

This is a cool start to a series. Maya is turned against her will into an "angel" - which I wish the author had named differently. I think that is really my only complaint with this book. The term "Angel" is just too deeply associated with good, and with heavenly creatures. The angels created in this story are chemically enhanced humans with a hunger to suck the life out of living beings. Maya does not get fully turned, so she struggles in the in-between of being human and being superhuman. I don't have a better suggestion for what to call them, but I wasn't a fan of that in particular. However, I think it's a great story otherwise. I love the characters and could definitely see this continuing on. I could see this as a great guilty-pleasure type series on the CW, alongside Vampire Diaries and the like.

Told with wit and non-stop action, Falling nicely establishes this series and the concept of brothers Gabe and Tarren, the vigilantes bent on destroying all the angels in the world. Maya reluctantly accompanies them, because she's got a score to settle with the ultimate baddie - Grand, the angel who turned her, who claims to be her father. This is a series where I would definitely check out future installments.


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

Saturday, December 15, 2012

{Blog Tour/Review} Whisper of Crows by Jameson Hesse

ISBN #: 978-0578108971
Page Count: 358
Copyright: August 20, 2012
Publisher: iibooks (1st Edition)


Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

Kanaan James is a disturbed teenage boy obsessed with his childhood friend Abigail Caulfield. A horrible car accident leaves Abigail stricken with amnesia and Kanaan, desperate for her attention, convinces her they are soul mates, running from the law. In the midst of a passionate love affair, while hiding in an old abandoned house deep in the woods, Kanaan is forced to test the boundaries of his own humanity.


Mandy's Review:

Kanaan is a magnet for sexual abuse, it seems. The book starts off with his being anally raped with a stick by the captain of his high school's football team. Then his stepfather rapes him after beating his wet, naked body with a belt. Later still, the neighbor cops a feel claiming he does it out of the loneliness he feels since his wife's passing.

I don't know if it's because of the rape or something else, but Kanaan is a mentally twisted individual. He holds his love-interest's hand as she dies from a car wreck, then she's alive with amnesia, then she's dead again in the corner of an old shack. His stepfather is alive, then chopped into pieces and thrown down a well then alive enough again to kill Kanaan's caretaker.

By the time I was halfway through this book, I wasn't sure what was real and what wasn't. I felt as if I was taking a twisted, acid-tripping ride through a Tim Burton creation. If a book is a reflection of its author, as I believe they are, then Mr. Hesse is definitely one twisted individual ... that I would like to meet.

What can I say ... I have a fondness for weirdness that makes me question reality.


*A physical copy of this book was provided through the tour promoter, Pump Up Your Book, for an honest review for this tour.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

{Movie Review} The Collection

Release Date: November 30, 2012
Director: Marcus Dunstan
Cinematography: Sam McCurdy
Screenplay: Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan
Producers: Brett Forbes, Patrick Rizzotti, Mickey Liddell, Julie Richardson


About The Film:
(Taken from the official movie site)

From the writing-directing team Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton (Saw IV, V, VI and 3D) comes The Collection, a suspense horror film with nonstop thrills at every turn. Directed by Dunstan and starring Josh Stewart (The Dark Knight Rises, The Collector), Emma Fitzpatrick (The Social Network) and Christopher McDonald ("Boardwalk Empire," Requiem for a Dream), the film centers on a traumatized man forced to help rescue a beautiful woman who has become the latest obsession of a crazed killer who "collects" humans in a booby-trapped house of horrors.

When Elena (Fitzpatrick) is talked into attending an underground warehouse party with her friends, she finds herself caught in a nightmarish trap where the revelers are mowed, sliced and crushed to death by a macabre series of contraptions operated by a masked psychopath. When the grisly massacre is over, Elena is the only survivor. But before she can escape, she is locked in a trunk and transported to an unknown location.

Fortunately for Elena, one man - Arkin (Stewart) - knows exactly where she's headed, having just escaped from there with his life and sanity barely intact. Going back is the last thing on Arkin's mind, but Elena's wealthy father (McDonald) hires a crack team of mercenaries to force Arkin to lead them to the killer's lair. But even these hardened warriors are not prepared for what they encounter: an abandoned hotel-turned-torture-chamber, rigged with deadly traps and filled with mangled corpses. Can Arkin and the team get to Elena before she too becomes part of his gruesome "collection"?


Mandy's Review:

My oldest step-daughter and I decided to go see this move this past Sunday. We were the only two people at this particular showing and I'm glad we were. If other patrons had been there, they would've been annoyed by all of our "Oh my God, I can't watch this," "Uuuggghhhh," and "Are you kidding me?!"

Not until I just read the summary above did I realize that there was a prequel to this movie: The Collector. I do not remember seeing the previews for that, so this review is being done without any knowledge of the prequel.

As you know, there's a crazy man on the loose going around mass-murdering people and taking one person from each mass-murder for his collection. They're like living trophies from each murder scene, but then he takes them home and "plays" with them. Some he's murdered, some he's doped up and disfigured, while others he kills outright and then displays them in water in weird positions.

Arkin, as one of the crazy man's captures, has escaped. He was in a closed trunk in one of the underground warehouse party's rooms. Elena finds the room with him in it and decides to let him out ... which, of course, the opened trunk has now become the ignition switch for a crazy killing contraption that's been set up by our killer. Here's my question, though ... Why would the killer risk losing one of his captures by putting him in the trunk at the party? If he needed something heavy to weigh the trunk down, why not use sandbags? If he wanted the sound of someone scratching at the lid of the roof to attract someone to it to open it, why not put a monitor in the trunk with the receiver in another trunk in his lair? Or do a recording? Maybe I'm over-thinking this, but it's what I do.

While Arkin's in the hospital, he gets a visit from Elena's dad's mercenary-hires. Arkin eventually agrees to help them find where he was kept. How can he do this? Apparently, when he was in the trunk heading to the crazy man's lair, he would count to 100 and then cut a mark in his arm when he reached 100. Each mark represented if they went straight, turned, veered, stopped, etc. I can see a desperate man doing that, but here's where my confusion came in: How did he know where to tell the mercenaries to start driving? Granted, I didn't see the first movie and I'm sure it was about Arkin's capture, but after seeing this movie I have to assume that Arkin was in a public setting much like the club. If he was, how did he know where crazy man was parked? This man was locked in a trunk. I don't know about you, but if I'm locked in a trunk, I'm going to start panicking and not pay attention to my surroundings.

Overall, this movie was more gross than scary, which seems to be the direction horror movies are taking nowadays. I did get a little irritated at the end when they kept showing various parts of the killer's body, but wouldn't show his daggum face! They even went so far as to show the back of his head, unmasked, but wouldn't show his face. I know it's to keep you in suspense, but I wanted to see!

While this wasn't one of my favorite movies, the directors and producers did a great job. Even the actors did a great job - not one sucky performance out of any of them. So if you like a gross movie with lots of blood, then The Collection is one you need to see.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

{Review} The Dump by Peppe Arninge

ASIN #: B0076I642W
File Size: 5854 KB
Page Count: 78
Copyright: February 6, 2012
Publisher: Publicera Publishing, LTD


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

The Dump is a photo book about some of the most silent and abused people in the world. They are the unfortunate, who have been forced to spend their lives on and around the notorious Cambodian garbage dumps. It is a journey along a road of poverty, humiliation and oceans of tears with no end and no apparent hope for the future. This book is also a tribute to the most persistent people on earth, who refuse to give up the only thing they have - their pride as human beings.

After decades of an extremely brutal domestic war, Cambodia today is a fragile, tropical paradise with incomprehensible corruption and a total lack of human rights. For a large group, "being Cambodian" doesn't mean that you're a part of something bigger. It mean that you're a part of a mental and physical holocaust that never ceases.


Mandy's Review:

With Christmas right around the corner and everyone buying expensive gifts to appease their semi-spoiled children, I thought it was time to take a look at some hard truth. Literally.

Peppe Arninge took photos of children and adults in Cambodia who work in the dumps. The conditions these people work and live in are deplorable. The majority of them live off of $0.75 US a day. A DAY!!! How horrible! Yes, there are grants and fundraisers for places like this, but the majority of those funds line the government officials pockets and bank accounts. The funds do not go for the citizens who live in the toxic lands of their home.

The Dump is a sad, eye-opening photographic portrayal of a place most people never think about. We're so busy with our over-filled lives that we don't even consider someone in another country who may not even have shoes to wear to the dumps they work in (and we think our jobs are bad in our nice offices). So as you open your iPads, laptops, and flatscreen televisions this Christmas season, how about saying a prayer for those less fortunate than yourself?


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

Saturday, December 8, 2012

{Blog Tour/Review} The Adventures of Jewel Cardwell: Hydra's Nest by Fumi Hancock

ISBN #: 978-1475945379
Page Count: 305
Copyright: September 13, 2012
Publisher: iUniverse


Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

Free-spirited and more than a little rebellious, seventeen-year-old Jewel Cardwell isn't too thrilled when she gains admission to Grayton Preparatory School, a prestigious, girls-only, top-notch private institution nestled in the South African farmlands of Limpopo. Unfortunately, it's a move that will change her life forever.

Almost from the moment she arrives, a string of misfortunes and strange occurrences begin trailing her. The comforts of home have been swept away, and she is plunged into a world where she has to fend for herself. But that pales in comparison to what happens on the nights when there's a full moon. Dark forces swirl during those nights and turn up in the form of hideous monsters and frightening demons.

Though Jewel has always been drawn to the darker side of life, this is more than she bargained for. She's also caught between two boys: Darwin Morton, a lad she's known growing up, and Eric Broder, a soccer team leader with a silver spoon in his mouth. Why her love life has to get interesting now is a question she can't answer!

The key to it all may be in her grandmother's locket, which Jewel always wears. Will Jewel be able to solve the mystery before evil is unleashed against those she loves?


Mandy's Review:

Cover

The cover is one that will draw readers in due to the haunting quality of the coloring and close-up of the girl's face. I think it's beautiful.

Plot/Main Characters

Jewel lives in a secluded area of Africa and is somewhat of a rebellious teenager. All she wants to do is hang out with her friends and have fun ... which I think would be difficult to do with all of the riots happening in town. She has to grow up fast, though, when she's accepted into a prestigious, all-girl's school 500 miles away from her home.

Before Jewel heads to her new school, her grandmother tells her a family secret and gives her a special locket. Jewel, as the first girl born of her generation, is the "chosen" girl to fight and stop Moja Kali ... an evil entity that seeks out the firstborn females of each generation in Jewel's family line. Moja Kali also seeks to destroy the men of the same family at the point of their success.

Will Jewel be brave enough to become the person she needs to be to stop Moja Kali? Or will she allow her emotional immaturity and confusing love-life to distract her from her familial duties?

Overall

This storyline is definitely reminiscent of the infamous Harry Potter series. However, I don't think it's as well-written as Harry Potter. The dialogues and emotional expressions were what distracted me from getting emotionally involved in the story. I was going to say that Jewel was like an emotional ticking time-bomb, but, really, her whole family was. I just didn't understand where all the anger came from and, when she was angry, her words didn't feel true to her emotions. It became laborious to read.

Also, we know that Moja Kali cursed Jewel's family back in the 1800s, but I don't recall it ever saying why. All we know is that there's a very PO'd evil entity out there wanting to kill people.

This book definitely has the potential to be great, and I've even seen rave reviews for it from others online, but this just did not resonate with me. I hate to give a bad review for a blog tour, but I can only tell you how it made me feel. Maybe you should read this for yourself and see how you feel about it.


*A paperback copy of the book was provided by the author through the tour host, Pump Up Your Book, for the purposes of this tour and in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, December 7, 2012

{Review} Coming of the Storm, Book One of Contact: The Battle for America by W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear

ISBN #: 978-1439153918
Page Count: 532
Copyright: August 31, 2010
Publisher: Pocket Books; Reprint Edition


Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

Black Shell, an exiled Chickasaw trader, is fascinated by the pale, bearded newcomers who call themselves "Kristianos," and not even the counsel of Pearl Hand, the beautiful, extraordinary woman who has consented to be his mate, can dissuade him. Only after a firsthand lesson in Kristiano brutality does Black Shell fully comprehend the dangers these invaders pose to his people's way of life. And while his first instinct is to run far from the Kristianos, Black Shell has been called to a greater destiny - by the Spirit Being known as Horned Serpent. With Pearl Hand by his side, Black Shell must find a way to unite the disparate tribes and settlements of his native land and overcome the merciless armies of de Soto ...


Mandy's Review:

Hernando de Soto is an American icon. He has been regaled as a great figure in American history. Many things are named after him in the South due to his idolization. If truth be told, de Soto was a monster. He wasn't the first man to land in Florida, but he was one of the worst. He didn't kill to survive, he killed because he enjoyed it. Many Native Americans died at his, or his army's, hands unnecessarily.

Coming of the Storm is the other side of the story. It it told from the perspective of the Native Americans. The reader is able to see through their eyes. How frightening it must have been to be living life as usual only to find out there is a new race of people in your world who are destroying everything you hold dear. I have always sided with the Native Americans. It literally makes me beyond angry to know we, white people, came to a new world and automatically claimed it as ours without regard for the tribes already living on this land. How selfish we are! They say they came in the name of God. God is love. There was no love in the way this country was taken over. It was forceful and brutal. Don't believe me? Where are the Native Americans living still today? On land for Reservations that our government so magnanimously "gave them." (If you didn't hear the sarcasm in that statement, you need to re-read it.)

I'm starting to get off on my rant so let me get back to the book ...

Black Shell and Pearl Hand are both outcasts in their respective tribes. Black Shell was ejected from his and forced to become a trader all because he heard the voice of Horned Serpent, one of their great Spirit Beings. Pearl Hand is an outcast in that she has been passed from tribe to tribe and man to man. She has resigned herself to this continued fate until she meets Black Shell. Together they form a partnership and, ultimately, become man and wife. Together, with the help of other orphaned tribe members, they begin to attack de Soto's men with the goal of killing de Soto himself.

Throughout this journey, Black Shell has had Spirit Dreams. Native Americans believed that Spirit Dreams were only given to the highest priest or shaman in their tribe. It was an honor bestowed upon the most worthy of their clan. Black Shell doesn't feel worthy of this honor. He's shunned from his people. He has no people, so how can he be worthy enough to receive these dreams? Horned Serpent tells him it's because he has no people that he has been chosen. As a trader, Black Shell has been able to integrate and learn the ways of all the Indian people, not just his own. He has learned to respect all tribes and their ways of living. He has learned what it would take to unite them and bring them together against de Soto.

Coming of the Storm is an enthralling beginning to what will be a fabulous series. The telling of Black Shell's and Pearl Hand's story is so vivid with detail. I cannot wait to continue their story with the second book in this series. If you're a fan of historical fiction, then you really need to get this first book. You will not be disappointed.


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

Thursday, December 6, 2012

{Review} Corktown by Ty Hutchinson

ISBN #: 978-1480126756
Page Count: 360
Copyright: November 6, 2012
Publisher: CreateSpace


Description:
(Taken from back cover)

The Doctor Is Back.

In the quiet Corktown neighborhood of Detroit, a mutilated body has the residents nervous and for good reason. Detroit Metro Police recognize the handiwork of the serial killer known as the Doctor. But there's a problem with that. They locked him up seven years ago.

Because of her expertise with serial killers, former hotshot detective and now FBI agent, Abby Kane, is tasked with figuring out how this madam is able to kill again. When she visits The Doctor behind bars, he swears he's innocent and not the psychopath everyone thinks he is. Oddly enough, Abby believes him.

Corktown dives headfirst into the grit of Detroit, exposing the government corruption and deadly violence that has haunted the city for decades.


Charlene's Review:

Abby Kane, a widow and mother to two children, also happens to be an FBI agent. When a serial killer appears to have resurfaced in Detroit, Abby and her partner, Trey Wilkinson, are called to investigate. Local authorities are sure they have a copycat killer, Abby isn't so sure. Facing a city known for its cover-ups and corruption, Abby and Trey face the most challenging, and dangerous investigation of their lives. When Abby purposely digs into a closed case, against the Mayors wishes, things heat up, fast, and the FBI agents very lives are put on the line. Abby must make a decision, between doing what is right, or returning home and not putting her already shaken family at risk.

Admittedly, I enjoy the Darby Stansfield series, so I cautiously read this new series opener with a little skepticism. Would it be similar, and could Mr. Hutchinson veer off and still manage to make it an enjoyable ride? I concede. Abby Kane is a force unto herself. Spirited, strong, don't-back-down Abby knows how to handle herself, and Corktown is surely just the beginning of another amazing series. Albeit reminiscent of the Darby Stansfield novels in its graphic violence, and sadistic killing styles, Mr. Hutchinson balances the violence with glimpses into the characters true selves and their personal lives. I highly recommend Ty Hutchinson's books to anyone that enjoys a good thriller. You will not be disappointed.


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

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

{Review} Fleeting Glance by Sherban Young

ISBN #: 978-1480199149
Page Count: 292
Copyright: November 1, 2012
Publisher: CreateSpace


Description:
(Taken from back cover)

John Hathaway just wanted a quiet weekend alone with his fiancee. Instead, he receives a cryptic postcard from a man he's never net, gets wrapped up in an elaborate art heist and finds himself framed for murder. And what's worse, his future in-laws are in town! The palette is certainly thickening here, and there might be only one person who can rally the muses in time to string it all together: the Master himself, Enescu Fleet, retired private eye.


Charlene's Review:

Fleeting Glance opens with John Hathaway receiving a mystery postcard congratulating him on his upcoming wedding. All set to meet his future in-laws, he has other pressing matters before him, like assuring his fiance that the house they are using to welcome her parents, belonging to a reputed mob boss, will not be a problem. When his best friend, Hutton, is followed and assaulted, Enescu Fleet, retired private eye, takes on the case. With the cryptic message on the postcard, and a dead body, the mystery unfolds.

There are many subplots in this story, but without giving up key information, I chose to keep the description simple. Most of the action takes place in an old museum, and includes priceless art pieces, two detectives by the name of Fleet, the mob, a Maltese, and a nude woman. Although Mr. Young's previous novel, Fleeting Memory, was also an Enescu Fleet mystery, this is a whole new story and every bit as riveting.

I especially appreciate Mr. Young's verbal jocularity. Along with his sharp wit, he has perhaps, just a touch of ADHD, or at least his character, John Hathaway does. John's stream's of consciousness never fail to amuse, as he can be in a precarious situation and still notice the antics around him in a clever way. The suspense is kept at a constant throughout, but what I believe places these stories above other mysteries is the humor. Fleeting Glance is another 5 star book, as far as I'm concerned.


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

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

{Review} Live from the Road by P. C. Zick

ISBN #: 978-1477451120
Page Count: 268
Copyright: June 15, 2012
Publisher: CreateSpace


Description:
(Taken from back cover)

Meg Newton and Sally Sutton seek a change in the mundane routine of their lives. "Is this all there is?" Sally asks Meg after visiting a dying friend in the hospital. That's when Meg suggests they take a journey to discover the answer. Joined by their daughters, they set off on a journey of salvation enhanced by the glories of the Mother Road. Along the way, they are joined by a Chicago blues man, a Pakistani liquor store owner from Illinois, a Marine from Missouri, a gun-toting momma from Oklahoma, and a motel clerk from New Mexico. Meg, mourning for her dead son, learns to share her pain with her daughter CC. When Sally's husband of almost thirty years leaves a voice mail telling her he's leaving, both Sally and her daughter Ramona discover some truths about love and independence.

Death, divorce and deception help to reveal the inner journey taking place under the blazing desert sun as a Route 66 motel owner reads the Bhagavad-Gita and an eagle provides the sign they've all been seeking. Enlightenment comes tiptoeing in at dawn in a Tucumcari laundromat, while singing karaoke at a bar in Gallup, New Mexico, and during dinner at the Roadkill Cafe in Seligman, Arizona. The four women's lives will never be the same after the road leads them to their hearts - the true destination for these road warriors.


Charlene's Review:

When Sally and Meg search for more meaning in their lives, they plan a trip, along with their adult daughters, along Route 66, from Chicago to Los Angeles. Along the way they meet up with others seeking their own personal enlightenment, and slowly, their entourage increases. All of the travelers are seeking a new start, or fighting their own demons. Through tears, laughter, and lots of singing, they all arrive at their destination changed.

As far as the characters, Meg resonated with me the most, throughout. Having lost a son, she was searching for a way to heal, as well as to reconnect with her surviving daughter. The daughters, CC, the aspiring talent, and Ramona, often lost in C.C.'s shadow perhaps had more to deal with than they originally thought. Sally brought to the group the not-so-logical logic; "Always go in the direction you're headed." There was a lot of emotion packed within this book, and a whole lot of fun, as well.

This was your typical "road to self" book, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I, for one, am always enamored with stories about women who set out to redefine themselves, and what better way than a road trip? Ms. Zick perfectly balanced the turmoil of personal battle with light-hearted antics, and the story flowed quickly and beautifully. Meg sums up the entire journey with one quote; "I thought I might find the perfect place to escape to when I started this trip. But the thing I needed to escape most caught up with me, and it wasn't so bad after all."


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

Monday, December 3, 2012

{Review} Tempo Thompson and Deadly Mountain by Justin Black

ASIN #: B008N8Z06U
File Size: 766 KB
Page Count: 353
Copyright: July 19, 2012
Publisher: Justin Black


Book Summary:
(Taken from Goodreads)

The eleven-year-old, curly-haired, eye-brow raising Tempo Thompson moves to Sabrise, Michigan after leaving from the town he has known all his life. But in the shadowy streets of Sabrise lies a darker history to be discovered. The curious Tempo discovers a magical world that is inhabited by genies and gypsies. However, these magical beings are different from what Tempo has known them to be, which is for the better. With the help of his genie, he embarks in this magical world learning it's (sic) wonders and it's (sic) dangers; dangers of mass murders and kidnappings in his genie's home. Along the way, Tempo is drawn into his friends' troubles which at a point puts his life in peril.


Kathy's Review:

This book follows the same formula as many of the other YA "supernatural" novels I've read for review in the past year or so. New kid in town, makes friends with a ragtag bunch of people, has a random enemy right from the get-go, discovers something magical, gets into adventure. But this time ... the paranormal aspect is ... wait for it ... genies! Not the kind that are in the lamp, though. These genies can "fuse" with a person and perform spells and transform into animals and stuff like that.

Overall, I think this story has some good elements. I liked the characters, for the most part, although there may have been too many to keep track of. I was intrigued by the murder that took place in Tempo's home, and it seems that there is more to come with this storyline in future installments. I thought the writing was age-appropriate for the tween crowd, and the dialogue was witty and funny at times, but I strongly advise the author to go back and have a real editor read this. There are some major grammar problems throughout, words completely misused, etc. On the back cover (and on the book summary above), the word "its" is inappropriately written as "it's." Twice. Inexcusable. If you're going to take the time to self-publish, then find someone who can edit your work before you do it!

Also, the author did his own illustrations, and honestly ... they're not that great. I think I could have done these illustrations and trust me, I'm no Picasso. Look at the cover, for example. Each chapter has an illustration on the opening page, and they're about the same skill level. I seriously feel bad saying that because I know that I couldn't do any better - but I guess my point is, if you're not a bona fide artist and you want your book to have illustrations, find a bona fide artist!

I think it's time to retire this storyline. I've seen it time and time again from aspiring authors. J. K. Rowling had major success with Harry Potter, but I'd say that ship has sailed. Or, let's mix it up a bit. Let's have the school bully be the one who discovers the magic, and he uses his genie to play pranks on other kids. I don't know. Just something different.

With some professional editing, and perhaps removing some of the more over-used YA cliches in the plot, I think this has the potential to be a fun and engaging read for young readers.


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

Sunday, December 2, 2012

{Review} The Bracelet by Roberta Gately

ISBN #: 978-1451669121
Page Count: 316
Copyright: November 6, 2012
Publisher: Gallery Books


Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

Newly heartbroken and searching for purpose in her life, Abby Monroe is determined to make her mark as a UN worker in one of the world's most unstable cities: Peshawar, Pakistan. But after witnessing the brutal murder of a woman thrown from a building, she is haunted by the memory of an intricate and sparkling bracelet that adorned the victim's wrist.

At a local woman's shelter, Abby meets former sex slaves who have miraculously escaped their captors. As she gains the girls' trust and documents their horrifying accounts of unspeakable pain and betrayal, she joins forces with a dashing New York Times reporter who believes he can incriminate the shadowy leader of the vicious human trafficking ring. Inspired by the women's remarkable bravery - and the mysterious reappearance of the bracelet - the duo traces evidence that spreads from remote villages of South Asia to the most powerful corners of the West, risking their lives to offer a voice to the countless innocents in bondage.


Mandy's Review:
** Slight spoiler alert in the overall section below **

Cover/Title

It's a simple title, but it does make you wonder what is so special about the bracelet. Besides being made with expensive jewels, it does provide a link and a clue to the person, or people, behind all the terribleness of what's happening in Peshawar.

I would have liked to see the cover better reflect the feel of the novel. Yes, it's to showcase the bracelet, but the woman on the cover is white. The bracelet, in the novel, was given to a woman of Pakistan and, as we are all familiar with, those women are not white. They have a beautiful brown coloring to their skin and it should have been reflected in the artwork.

Plot

We meet a lady, Abby, who has recently been broken up with and is heartbroken. To get away from things, she decides to apply for a job with the United Nations at their location in Peshawar, Pakistan. She is looking for a new direction and purpose in life and feels that this position would give her that.

During her assignment, she meets a reporter who is supposedly there to write a fluff piece about Abby. They mix like oil and water, which is to say not at all. He seems more seriously involved than Abby when it comes to the trafficking of women. Her association with the reporter causes others to feel that she is as big a danger to their 'organization' as the reporter. Her emails are gone through, her things are gone through and her whereabouts are being followed and reported to some not very nice people.

Can Abby help break up this particular band of women traffickers?

Main Characters

Abby - Heartbroken, searching for purpose, and is still in love with her ex ... although she is quickly falling for the reporter. She is too naive for my taste. It was obvious who was rummaging through her things and her emails but she chose to remain oblivious.

Nick - A New York Times reporter who arrived in Pakistan to, supposedly, write a fluff piece on a UN worker. He's really there to break the human trafficking story wide open. He's resourceful and often secretive, but completely trustworthy.

Najeela - A Pakistani woman serving as Abby's host while she's in Peshawar. Najeela is also the niece to a very wealthy distributor. She has a secret boyfriend whom she hopes to marry, which cannot happen unless her father approves.

Overall

From the book summary, I was expecting an emotional, riveting read. What I got, instead, was a light, easy read despite the seriousness of the issue being discussed.

There was also a part that I thought did not fit well with this story because it just didn't make sense to me. Abby and Nick were being threatened because of how close they were getting to revealing the trafficking organization, which is understandable. One part showed Abby being caught by her potential killer, but he just let her go. What?!! He actually had his hands on her. He spoke with her. Then he just let her go. This is supposed to be a man who is dangerous, has killed before, and he has caught one of the main people who has ruined his chance at future wealth ... and he just let her go. Not believable.

I didn't hate this book, but I probably won't read it again. I just couldn't get lost in the story.


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

Saturday, December 1, 2012

{Blog Tour/Review} White Buffalo Gold by Adam G. Fleming

Welcome to Literary R&R's stop on Adam G. Fleming's White Buffalo Gold blog tour!


ISBN #: 978-1478187691
Page Count: 308
Copyright: September 9, 2012
Publisher: CreateSpace


About the Author:

Adam G. Fleming lives in Goshen, Indiana with his wife and four children. Adam drew on his degree in nursing and work as a CNA and LPN in the early 90s to inspire the nursing home scenes in White Buffalo Gold. Other artistic ventures include working as a sculptor and playwright. His first full-length theater production, A Pebble Among the Rocks (2010), has its World Premier run at the end of October 2012 in Edwardsburg, Michigan. A Pebble Among the Rocks is an early version of the story, which the author gradually expanded into his debut novel, White Buffalo Gold.

Along with his artistic pursuits, Adam became an arts coach working with writers and other artists, and has followed his own coaching principles to meet a lifelong dream to become an author. His clients enjoy increased vision and purpose, lifestyle balance, and freedom from writer's block.

Learn more about Adam at www.whitebuffalogold.wordpress.com. You can read a preview of White Buffalo Gold here.


Description:
(Taken from back cover)

Everyone in town believes that gold was once found in the river outside Harmony, Nebraska. Brightest of the class of 1992 but unsure what to do with her life, Emily Zimmerman stays home, compelled by her quest to find traces of the gold that put Harmony on the map. While employed in the local nursing home, Emily discovers a world of routine death, regret, and senility underlined with dark humor and the seeds of deepest hope. Meanwhile, the key to her mystery is locked inside the memory of an old man who has traveled, studied, written, and forgotten more than Emily has ever known.


Charlene's Review:

Growing up in a small town in Harmony, Nebraska, Amy, Emily, and Melissa are long-time friends that have grown up amidst the stories of found gold. When graduation nears, the girls are ready to set out for the future. All that is, except Emily. She is sure there is gold to be found and gets a job in town so that she may further her investigations. As she tries to unravel the confused ramblings of her nursing home patients, she is sure she will find the answers she is looking for.

I would probably label this as contemporary fiction, although there is a lot going on in these pages. Between Native American visions, a girl's coming-of-age story, and a sort of "six degrees of separation" this is a plot-packed story. Harmony has its share of secrets, and Emily and her friends are connected so much more than they know. I especially enjoyed the stories of the men in the nursing home and how it showed each generation's story is essential for understanding the future.

Mr. Fleming has given us a feel-good novel with genuine characters, flaws and all. Mr. Fleming focuses on broken families, aging and death, and Emily's struggle with identity, which is something all of us can identify with. When you add in quirky characters, such as Doc, who has visions of the Statue of Liberty talking to him, and the fact that everyone's story is ultimately interwoven, this is a fun, entertaining read for all ages. I also have to put a plug in for Mr. Fleming's hometown, Goshen, Indiana, which is right next door to mine. Here's hoping he puts this County on the literary map! 5 out of 5 stars.


*A physical copy of the book was provided by the tour host (Integral Agency) for the purposes of this tour and in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, November 30, 2012

{Review} Grey Winter, The Tournament: Book Two by B. B. Griffith

ISBN #: 978-0982481769
Page Count: 292
Copyright: October 1, 2012
Publisher: Griffith Publishing LLC


Description:
(Taken from back cover)

Two players have been murdered. Two killers are on the loose. Nothing is what it seems.

The world is awake now. The Tournament has captivated everyone, but no winner can be declared until the mystery of what happened to Team Blue is solved. Meanwhile, three new players are chosen to rebuild the fallen team, but they are young and inexperienced, and instantly targeted. Their survival is dependent upon their existence remaining a secret.

But in the Tournament, secrets are hard to keep.

New alliances are formed, old enemies are confronted, and the truth is finally revealed in Grey Winter, the second installment of the Tournament series.


Charlene's Review:

Grey Winter is the second book in the Tournament series. After the murder of two of the members of Team Blue, or the American team, Grey Winter introduces us to the next group of players. Ellie Willmore, Blue Team captain, and Tom Elrey, the sweeper, are both still in high school. Cyrus Bell, the striker, is a musician. This dubious grouping holds the future of the game in their inexperienced hands.

What began as a team competition has now become a hunt for a murderer. As the new Team Blue begins training, the old rules of the Tournament have faded away, and the Team must learn a new, and more dangerous game. The Russian team, Team Black, is amassing an army, and allegiances are split between old associates of Team Blue between regrouping, and searching for revenge.

This is another exciting, somewhat darker hit novel for B. B. Griffith. Hunger Games better watch out, as The Tournament could be a big-screen blockbuster. The action is vivid, and the character and setting descriptions do not miss a detail. Fast-paced throughout, this is a suspenseful sequel to Blue Fall that leaves you anxious to read the next book. I cannot praise the storyline enough for its "relatability" within its characters and the frenzied activity that keeps you turning the page. The unexpected answers at the end completely made me rethink all I knew about the characters and their motives.

Bring on Black Spring!


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

Thursday, November 29, 2012

{Review} The Adventures of De'Ante Johnson: The Obsidian Knight by Jeff Jones and Nick Chiles

ISBN #: 978-1479385799
Page Count: 238
Copyright: September 28, 2012
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


Description:
(Taken from Amazon)

De'Ante Johnson, a quiet 16 year old with a well-hidden double life, is suddenly shanghaied from his 'hood to Illumina, an earth-like world, to battle a shape-shifting monstrous tyrant intent on destroying a millennia-old culture. The action intensifies when De'Ante must choose between saving his best friend, gang leader Revonne Williams, or the desperate people of Illumina. However, the heroic Johnson threatens the existence of both worlds when his temper becomes uncontrollable.


Charlene Reviews:

Being a 16 year old living in the 'hood without a father is hard enough, but being the chosen savior to a foreign world really puts the pressure on a kid's conscience. De'Ante is living his life, going to school, and trying to stay out of trouble, despite being friends with a local gang leader. When a new girl shows up, and leads him off to another planet, De'Ante must make a choice between fulfilling his destiny as Sune Yung, and choosing his life on Earth.

The Obsidian Knight is an engrossing sci-fi/fantasy story of redemption and finding your true calling. Focusing on an unlikely hero, this story appeals to the underdog or that part of all of us that strives for purpose. It has vivid descriptions of marvelous creatures and circumstance, and appealing, charismatic characters that help keep the interest high, as well as down-to-earth issues that all teenagers face. Although targeted to young teen boys, I found it to be appropriate for all ages, and a fun, exciting read. I intend to gift this to a teenager I know, as I would any further Adventures of De'Ante Johnson.


*A paperback copy was provided by one of the authors in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

{Treasure Hunt Blog Tour w/ Excerpt} - The Forever Girl by Rebecca Hamilton



Welcome to the treasure hunt tour for The Forever Girl!


Here's how it's done:

Each stop on the tour will have a small excerpt with a code hidden in it. Visit all the stops to gather the letters, unscramble the phrase, and email it to:



The stops list can be found here.


The winner will receive a goody bag including:

1 Forever Girl Ring
1 Forever Girl Keychain
1 Forever Girl Necklace
1 Forever Girl Bookmark
1 Forever Candle
1 Signed copy of The Forever Girl
1 Signed copy of the companion novella, Her Sweetest Downfall


IMMORTALIZATION:

The author will also immortalize the lucky winner by giving them a cameo appearance in the next Forever Girl book.

Bonus:

If you've already reviewed The Forever Girl on Amazon, include the link to your review along with the unscrambled phrase for an additional entry!


Book Blurb:

Sophia's family has skeletons, but they aren't in their graves.

At twenty-two, practicing Wiccan Sophia Parsons is scratching out a living waiting tables in her Rocky Mountain hometown, a pariah after a string of unsolved murders with only one thing in common: her.

Sophia can imagine lots of ways to improve her life, but she'd settle for just getting rid of the buzzing noise in her head. When the spell she casts goes wrong, the static turns into voices. Her personal demons get company, and the newcomers are dangerous.

One of them is a man named Charles, who Sophia falls for despite her better judgment. He has connections that might help her unveil the mystery surrounding her ancestor's hanging, but she gets more than she bargains for when she finally decides to trust him.

Survival in his world, she learns, means not asking questions and staying out of the immortal council's way. It's a line she crossed long ago. If Sophia wants to survive the council and save the people she loves, she must accept who she is, perform dark magic, and fight to the death for her freedom.

The Forever Girl is a full-length Paranormal Fantasy novel that will appeal to lovers of paranormal romance, urban fantasy, witches, vampires, ghosts, paranormal mystery, and paranormal horror.


Excerpt: The Forever Girl, Part 28

"My name's Sophia," I said. It was a little late for introductions, but I wanted to shift the conversation and move as far away from the arousal as possible. "Yours?"

"Charles," he whispered. His voice sounded clear, as though the music in the room had faded to make room for him to speak. He cleared his throat and dipped his gaze to mine. "I saw you in the woods the other night."

I swallowed around the lump in my throat. "And through my bedroom window."

"Yes," he replied.

"So you were stalking me."

"I was unaware the woods belonged to you alone," he said against my ear, his hands moving to the small of my back. "Is there anywhere else I shouldn't already your code is n be when you get there, in the event you might continue with your accusations?"

"Jack's Diner," I said, fighting to hold onto the conversation instead of the arousal. "I work there, so you might want to stay away unless I invite you."

"Then invite me."


Tour Hosted By:

http://www.bookandblogservices.com/book-tour-for-the-forever-girl-by-rebecca-hamilton

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