Tuesday, October 30, 2012

{Review} The Trajectory of Dreams by Nicole Wolverton

ISBN #: 978-1938463440
Page Count: 285
Copyright: March 1, 2013
Publisher: Bitingduck Press

(Taken from back cover)

For Lela White, a Houston sleep lab technician, sleep doesn't come easy - there's a price to be paid for a poor night's sleep, and she's the judge, jury, and executioner.

Everyone around Lela considers her a private woman with a passion for her lab work. But nighttime reveals her for what she is: a woman on a critical secret mission. Lela lives in the grip of a mental disorder that compels her to break into astronauts' homes to ensure they can sleep well and believes that by doing so, she keeps the revitalized U. S. space program safe from fatal accidents. What began at the age of ten when her mother confessed to blowing up the space shuttle has evolved into Lela's life's work. She dreads the day when an astronaut doesn't pass her testing, but she's prepared to kill for the greater good.

When Zory Korchagin, a Russian cosmonaut on loan to the U.S. shuttle program, finds himself drawn to Lela, he puts her carefully-constructed world at risk of an explosion as surely as he does his own upcoming launch. As Lela's universe unravels, no one is safe.

Charlene's Review:

When a young Lela White witnesses the Space Shuttle explode on take-off, it shapes her future in a profound way. As a sleep lab technician, she breaks into homes and observes astronauts sleep patterns in an effort to stop the horrific catastrophe from occurring again. Misguided by an emotionally crippling mother and a little misinformation, this becomes her day, and night, mission. When a cosmonaut gets a little too close for comfort, Lela slowly begins to lose her focus, and spirals into a terrifying end.

This is a psychological thriller of epic proportions. Lela is a paranoid mastermind of a very strange, parallel reality. Confiding her secrets and seeking advice from Nike, her "talking" cat, keeping her parent's bedroom a shrine, and liaisons with the janitor in exchange for information allow Lela to control her surroundings and continue her studies. The true reality is a far cry from the perfection she works so hard for. Her struggle to control her environment is maddening.

5 out of 5 stars for its crazy twists and exhilarating ending. This is a gripping, disquieting look at mental illness that will cause you to question how well you can truly know a person, especially those with something to hide.

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

Monday, October 29, 2012

{Blog Tour/Review} The Shadow Man by Mark Murphy

Welcome to Literary R&R's stop on Mark Murphy's The Shadow Man blog tour, hosted by Tribute Books.

Author Info:

A physician currently living in Savannah, Georgia, Mark Murphy is also a lifelong award-winning writer. In the midst of a busy medical career which included several academic publications, Dr. Murphy's decision to attend the Iowa Summer Writing Festival led to the inclusion of a short story, "The Funeral," in a 2004 collection of works entitled O! Georgia! A well-received regular newspaper column in the Savannah Morning News followed. The Shadow Man is his first novel.

Book Info:

ISBN #: 978-1938296031
Page Count: 331
Copyright: July 20, 2012
Publisher: Langdon Street Press

(Taken from back cover)

Savannah surgeon Malcolm King had a perfect life - a loving wife, devoted daughter, and a thriving medical practice.

And then it all ended.

A chance encounter with a reckless driver in an airport parking lot leads to his first brush with the law. The senseless slaughter of a neighbor's pet soon follows, with Malcolm inexplicably questioned in the matter by the police. An adversary is found decapitated. An acquaintance is chopped into pieces and stuffed into a garbage bag, Malcolm soon finds himself the prime suspect in a serial murder case. But he's not a killer. Or is he?

Who is the Thin Man who lurks at the edges of his vision?

Are the flocks of ravens that crowd overhead a warning of impending doom? Or do they exist at all?

And how can he protect his family from something - or someone - he knows absolutely nothing about?

As Malcolm fights to discover the truth, he learnes from a mysterious Seminole tracker that he may not be the first victim of a chameleon-like serial killer known as The Shadow Man. Malcolm's quest for justice takes him perilously close to the edge of sanity - and perhaps a little bit over it.

Buy Links

Mandy's Review:


I love the black and white cover, the juxtaposition of the light and dark. It gives an aura or mystery and suspense to the novel.


A surgeon, Malcolm, is happy and satisfied with his life. His professional career is thriving, his family is gorgeous and beautiful and content, and he is a well-respected member of the community. That all changes with the demented plans of a deranged killer.

Malcolm is convinced he is being set up for murder. The local police, whom happens to employ his best friend, is convinced that Malcolm, himself, is the killer as all the evidence they have points to that fact. In order to prove his innocence, Malcolm runs and hides with the help of a complete stranger, who has more in common with Malcolm than he realizes.

Is the stranger really there to help Malcolm or to hinder him? Is this helpful stranger the one doing the killing? If not, then who is and why are they framing Malcolm?

Main Characters

Malcolm - A well-respected surgeon who lives in Savannah with his wife and daughter. His parents are deceased. He has a loyal, aging dog. He seems to be a little arrogant at the beginning, but who wouldn't being in his position? As a father, he seems to come across as trying just a little too hard to be funny. There were parts that didn't seem genuine to me.

Amy - Malcolm's wife and a nurse. She can be a strong support for Malcolm, but tends to be a little too emotional at times.

Mimi - Malcolm and Amy's daughter. She's a little spoiled, but she's smart and trusts her instincts.

The Shadow Man - Was a little bit of a surprise ... To be as smart as he was, I was disappointed to see him open up the way he did. Perhaps that was the emotion of the situation getting to him. Perhaps he was truly tired of killing people, but I don't think so.


This was an extremely well-thought out novel. The twists and turns were above par for a debut author. I think some of the characters could've used just a little tweaking, but the concept and direction were solid.

*A paperback copy of this novel was provided by the tour host in exchange for an honest review for the purposes of this blog tour.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

{Review} Sleepwalker by Karen Robards

ISBN #: 978-1439183724
Page Count: 370
Copyright: December 27, 2011
Publisher: Gallery Books

Book Summary:
(Taken from jacket flaps)

It's not that Micayla Lange is afraid of the clinking she hears coming from the first floor of the empty McMansion she's housesitting for her uncle Nicco. She's a cop, after all. It's just that finding out her boyfriend was cheating on her was enough drama for one night. Now she's alone on New Year's Eve, wearing flannel pajamas and wielding a Glock 22 as she zeroes in on the unmistakable source of the sound: Uncle Nicco's private office.

Jason Davis steals things for a living, so unexpected developments are a natural part of the job. Getting caught red-handed by a hot, pigtail-sporting police officer in what is supposed to be a gangster's deserted house is just one more twist in the game. Kind of like finding incriminating photos in Nicco Marino's safe, only to discover the cop - and the security cameras - have gotten a real good look at his face.

Unfortunately for Mick, she also got a good look at the damned pictures. Her "uncle" might love her like family, but if he knows she's seen evidence that implicates him in the murder of a city councilman, she doesn't like her chances. Which is why she's having a hard time reconciling her professional instincts with what she is rapidly concluding is an inescapable fact: She's about to help a criminal get away with a suitcase full of stolen money. And she's going with him.

Mick and Jason's race for their lives hurtles them through the dangerous Michigan wilderness on speedboat and snowmobile. As their adventure heats up and their enemies close in, Mick is torn between her duty to the force and the combustible passion engulfing her and her unlikely partner in crime. She'll have to turn Jason in sooner or later ... if they survive. But will they ever get a second chance at love?

Mandy's Review:

On the book that I have, the line below the title on the front cover reads 'A Thriller' instead of 'A Novel.' I'm not sure why they changed it because this novel is a thriller.

Micayla (aka Mick) and Jason's story can be compared to a symphony. You have your introductory, which then turns into a more full-bodied musical piece with the added tensions and plot twists. From there, the story continues to pick up speed that psychologically thrills the reader's mind and imagination. Finally, we come to the crescendo that fades away into a sweet, peaceful ending. The author definitely takes you on a ride that will have you questioning right and wrong. People aren't who they seem to be, but is that good or bad?

Sleepwalker may not be one of my favorite books, but it was definitely a thrilling experience that I would recommend to fans of this genre.

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

Saturday, October 27, 2012

{Review} Redemption on the River by Loren DeShon

ISBN #: 978-0985925925
Page Count: 390
Copyright: August 2, 2012
Publisher: Loren DeShon

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Silas Jacobson pulled a trigger, killed his father, and ended up months later face down in Memphis mud, trying to forget the girl who betrayed him.

Silas buries his father on the farm, his guilt in himself and leaves home seeking to forget past mistakes. He travels on Mississippi steamboats and meets his best friend in a brawl, his worst enemy in a cathouse, and a mentor and lover at a New Orleans faro table. Fighting, fornicating, and cheating at cards are a grand time, but there's another woman, a girl on a mission of her own, who saves his life and offers the opportunity to redeem himself.

Silas staggers out of the mud to go to her, but he finds that she's deceived him from the start. He'll risk his neck for her - he owes her that much - but love is no longer possible. His shot at redemption comes down to his conscience, the two women, a poker game, and the turn of a card.

Redemption on the River is historical fiction set along the Mississippi River in 1848.

Kathy's Review:

From the opening lines of this story, I let the tale sweep me away like the currents on the Mississippi River. Silas is an intriguing character who has his vices. But deep down, he wants to help his family and erase some of the guilt he feels for his father's death. I loved the descriptions of the towns along the Mississippi, including New Orleans and St. Louis, in the late 1800's. Normally I'm not a huge fan of historical fiction, but the writing is so engaging that I forgot my bias.

I'd say this is definitely among the top books I've read for review this year. Author Loren DeShon so expertly paints a picture of the riverboats, the seedy establishments, gambling halls, etc., that Silas frequents that you feel like you're there alongside him for this adventure. The push and pull romance between Hannah and Silas is the main driver for the plot, but there's plenty of action, too. There's fights, friendships, high-stakes gambling, smuggling slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad, and so much more. Although Silas goes from rags to riches and then rags again, and he definitely has a temper and a mouth that gets him in trouble a lot, you can't help but root for him to succeed, both in life and in winning Hannah's heart.

Highly recommended for any reader who appreciates high quality writing, plot and characters. This is a true A+.

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

Friday, October 26, 2012

{Blog Tour/Review} Autumn Winds by Charlotte Hubbard

Welcome to Literary R&R's stop on Charlotte Hubbard's Autumn Winds book blog tour, hosted by Pump Up Your Book.

Author Info:

I've (Charlotte) called Missouri home for most of my life, and most folks don't realize that several Old Order Amish and Mennonite communities make their home here, as well. The rolling pastureland, woods, and small towns along county highways make a wonderful setting for Plain populations - and for stories about them, too! While Jamesport, Missouri is the largest Old Order Amish settlement west of the Mississippi River, the other communities have also found the affordable farm land ideal for raising crops, livestock, and running the small family-owned businesses that support their families.

Like my heroine, Miriam Lantz, of my new Seasons of the Heart series, I love to feed people - to share my hearth and home. I bake bread and goodies and I love to try new recipes. I put up jars and jars of green beans, tomatoes, beets and other veggies every summer. All my adult life, I've been a deacon, a dedicated church musician and choir member, and we hosted a potluck group in our home for more than twenty years.

Like Abby Lambright, heroine of my new Home at Cedar Creek series, I consider it a personal mission to be a listener and a peacemaker - to heal broken hearts and wounded souls. Faith and family, farming and frugality matter to me: like Abby, I sew and enjoy fabric arts - I made my wedding dress and the one Mom wore, too, when I married into an Iowa farm family more than thirty-five years ago! When I'm not writing, I crochet and sew, and I love to travel.

I recently moved to Minnesota when my husband got a wonderful new job, so now he and I and our border collie, Ramona, are exploring our new state and making friends.

Author's Website
Author's Facebook
Author's Goodreads

Book Info:

ISBN #: 978-1420121704
Page Count: 324
Copyright: September 4, 2012
Publisher: Zebra


Winds of change are blowing through Willow Ridge, and they're bringing a stranger to the Sweet Seasons Bakery. At first, widowed Miriam Lantz has misgivings about Ben Hooley, a handsome but rootless traveling blacksmith. But as she gets to know the kind-hearted newcomer, she wonders if his arrival was providential. Perhaps she could find love again - if only there weren't so many obstacles in the way. With Bishop Knepp relentlessly pursuing her hand in marriage and the fate of her beloved cafe at stake, Miriam must listen to God and her heart to find the happiness she longs for and the love she deserves.

Mandy's Review:

Autumn Winds is actually the second book in the Seasons of the Heart series. I reviewed the first book, Summer of Secrets earlier this year (click on the Reviews by Authors link to locate my review).

I have always had an affinity for the Inspirational Romance genre. I think it began when my mother purchased Janette Oke's Love Comes Softly series, which I've read time and time again. There's something sweet and romantic about a love story that's old-fashioned and void of smut. Charlotte Hubbard's Seasons of the Heart series will be forever on my bookshelves so that I may read them time and time again as well.

Miriam Lantz is a widowed Amish woman, the mother of triplet girls and the owner of the Sweet Seasons Bakery. She is also the coveted prize of their Order's Bishop. He, Bishop Knepp, is in constant pursuit of her. He is so relentless that I was enraged on her behalf. I've always wondered what it would be like to live in the Amish community, but if I had to deal with a Bishop pursuing me the way Bishop Knepp pursued Miriam I would be shunned in a heartbeat for my reaction. I wanted to shake this man. My heart went out to Miriam. I even became fearful for her at one point because of the severity of the Bishop's actions in trying to persuade Miriam to marry him.

Thankfully, Ben Hooley arrived on the scene. He's an introspective kind of guy, but when he noticed the Bishop laying it on thick and twisting the Amish customs to suit his own desires, well ... that didn't set too well with Ben. He brought the Bishop a surprise that helped keep him in line.

Ben and Miriam are attracted to each other and feel an immediate connection, but so does Rhoda, one of Miriam's triplet daughters. Rhoda is so desperate for a man that she thinks every new guy needs to notice her and ask her out. I do feel badly for Rhoda, especially when she embarrassed herself with Ben. I can also see where it would get frustrating living in the same Order your whole life with a limited supply of men to choose from. I'm hoping Rhoda finds love in the third novel because she sure didn't find it in this one.

If you've never read an Inspirational Romance because you think it's too tame, well I've got a teaser for you! This is between Ben and Miriam. They've admitted that they like each other and would like to start seeing each other. They're in the kitchen of the Sweet Seasons Bakery early one morning getting their day started. By the way, a farrier is another name for a blacksmith.

Ben wiped his plate clean with the last chunk of his roll and then popped it into his mouth. He grinned at her, chewing ... looking like a little boy scheming something up. "Ya might've been married to a farrier, Miriam," he murmured as he scooted his stool back, "but you've never known fire the way I'm gonna stoke it up. Can ya handle that?" - Page 91

Now, you might be saying, "Psshh ... that's nothing!" Consider the situation: these are two Amish people who are taught to keep their emotions in check. They're taught to be dutiful servants of God and to not let anything deter them from a close relationship with Him. So, we have two people, fully clothed, respectable, who haven't seen a porno movie or fleshy, erotic scenes in books or television shows and the guy's talking about stoking a "fire" so hot that she's not going to be able to handle it. That got MY blood boiling, so I know it had to have affected Miriam! I would've took that man right there!!! Of course, I'm not Amish either. =)

I think by now you can tell that I loved this book. I also love that at the back of each book are some of the recipes that are mentioned within the story. I've only tried one of these recipes so far (the Stuffed Shells recipe) and it was delish! I am eagerly anticipating the third book coming out so I can read more about Miriam, Ben, Rhoda, Bishop Knepp and the rest of the Willow Ridge families.

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

Sunday, October 21, 2012

{Review} The Lives of Nobody Important by Mark Underwood

File Size: 352 KB
Page Count: 242

Book Summary:
(Taken from Goodreads)

I can't die, at least, not in the traditional sense. Every time I'm killed, I wake up with a new body, in the same place. Over and over and over again.

How did I discover this? I was forced to kill myself by the evil bastard who I used to call my boss. He knew the struggles I was facing, and he exploited them.

But he didn't know I would be coming back.

This is my story. This is my revenge. This will not end well.

Kathy's Review:

I had a hard time getting into this one. I think it was the writing style. It was very choppy, and often left me confused. I thought the concept was interesting but it just failed to hold my attention. A man who dies and is reborn into another body. It's cool, and the author does explore the possibilities of what a person could do with this power. However, the murders the main character commits are despicable, even though he feels justified because they are drug dealers.

This was not my cup of tea. If you want to give it a try, be prepared for some dark situations and a lot of f-bombs.

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

Saturday, October 20, 2012

{Review} Like a Suicide by John J. Archer

File Size: 410 KB
Page Count: 269
Copyright: September 29, 2012
Publisher: Nazarite Limited Publishing


Like A Suicide is a psychological thriller/suspense about 'Wraith' who is a serial killer. He believes proper order can only be brought about in the world via chaos. Most of his kills make sense in that way. It just happens that this time someone has the nerve to bring chaos into his world by stealing money from him.

After tracking down the perpetrator, James, and confronting him, Wraith concludes that he is either a genius or an idiot after the man denies knowing anything about the stolen money in a convincing manner.

Wraith concludes James must die but decides to take his time and find out if this is the guy that might provide the challenging kill he has been looking for all along. He has to do all this with Detective Sweeney, the local superstar detective hot on his trail.

As he gets ready to go for the kill, Wraith can sense that something is wrong. It's just that this time this kill seems Like A Suicide, which makes it much more difficult than previous kills.

Charlene's Review:

Wraith, a serial killer, is a member of the Devoted Brotherhood of Anarchy. He picks his victims and tortures them for fun and sexual pleasure. The game changes though, when Link, the voice in his head, tells him that someone is stealing from him. His passion for murder intensifies as he attempts to take away everything that matters to his next target, James Harper.

This is an absolutely mind-blowing novel of horrific proportions. Several times I started to put it down in disgust from the depths of the violence portrayed. Thankfully, Mr. Archer's ease of writing and use of suspense kept me glued to the story. His writing flows seamlessly from murder and chaos to love and relationships, and his use of dialogue is flawless. When you factor in the sheer terror of knowing the mind of the killer, you have a masterpiece befitting Stephen King, especially with the sudden twists and turns that shape the ending.

I had it figured out early on and then Mr. Archer threw a few curve balls, changed my mind, and even when it all came together, I was still second-guessing in the final chapters. The fact that there could even be a sequel to this leaves me terrified, and strangely curious as to how he could possibly top the terror. Despite the graphic scenes depicted, if you are a fan of psychological suspense, you cannot miss this one!

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

Friday, October 19, 2012

{Review} Killer Sweet Tooth by Gayle Trent

ISBN #: 978-1451600025
Page Count: 240
Copyright: October 11, 2011
Publisher: Gallery Books

Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

They say sugar is bad for your teeth, but can it actually kill you? The Brea Ridge police seem to think so when they find cake decorator Daphne Martin wielding an oversized plastic toothbrush over a dentist's dead body. Daphne moved back to her small Virginia hometown just months ago to open her Daphne's Delectable Cakes business and already she's been mixed up in murder. Now she's got to prove her sweet innocence again.

After hours of police questioning, Daphne returns home to find Elvis Presley in her driveway. She's certain she's hallucinating until the leather-clad hunk orders up a pink Cadillac cake for a convention of the Elvis impersonators. Daphne accepts, but her reporter-boyfriend Ben is suspicious of Elvis's intentions. Does the King want to make Daphne his confectionery queen? Or is the convention a ruse for a more sinister operation? Daphne's own investigation into Dr. Bainsworth's murder, meanwhile, reveals the dentist made as many enemies as he did fillings. Just about anyone could have done him in, but it's up to Daphne to find the killer - and finish Elvis's cake - before she's the one singing "Jailhouse Rock."

Mandy's Review:

Killer Sweet Tooth is the second book in the Daphne Martin series. I've not read the first book, but didn't need to in order to enjoy the second.

Daphne opened her own business in her house. The business still hasn't become a success, but she is doing what she can to get the word out. Although her having been involved in one murder investigation already seems to have hurt her sales. Now, thanks to her neighbor Myra's teeth, Daphne has become involved in another murder investigation.

Myra is Daphne's nosy, albeit well-intentioned, next-door neighbor. She's old enough to be Daphne's mother, but can act as though she isn't a day over 25. She's spunky with a bad actress streak. When Myra comes over to Daphne's one evening for a visit, she bites into a piece of cashew brittle causing her filling to come out of her tooth. Daphne makes an emergency phone call to Myra's dentist who agrees to meet them in about an hour at the office. Upon arriving, Daphne and Myra find the dentist face down and bleeding in his office. Shortly after finding him, the police find Daphne and Myra in the dentist's office holding a big tooth and toothbrush while standing over the dentist's body. Daphne and Myra are now suspects for the dentist's murder.

If you're looking for a hold-on-to-the-edge-of-your-seat thriller, you're not going to find it here. Killer Sweet Tooth is more of a cozy murder-mystery that you could read in a long afternoon on a rainy day. While somewhat predictable, this book is an entertaining read and would be enjoyed by those looking for a quick, light read.

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

Thursday, October 18, 2012

{Review} Don't Wake Up by Shauna Kelley

ISBN #: 978-1479194636
Page Count: 206
Copyright: September 17, 2012
Publisher: CreateSpace

(Taken from back cover)

Gillian has always encompassed the vast space between pretty and ugly. In fact, she is painfully aware that there is nothing remarkable about her, until her husband Ricky experiences a mysterious fall that leaves him in a comatose state. As doctors and nurses rush to assure her that Ricky will recover well, Gillian thinks of the years of cold silence and manipulation that have overshadowed their marriage.

As the coma persists, Gillian dreams of a different life, one her marriage has denied her, and hopes Ricky does not wake up. Nonetheless, his eyes open to reveal a man who claims to remember nothing of his former self. Gillian, convinced that this is only a furthering of his past cruelty, seeks to test this new Ricky. She invents a family they never had, and fills his head with stories of an imaginary life. Ricky becomes a father, and an orphan, eagerly accepting magazine-clipped photos and an urn filled with cigarette ash as evidence of his once-happy life.

But, as Ricky persists in his assertion that he remembers nothing of their real past, Gillian begins to question how far she can go in punishing a man for sins he cannot remember committing.

Charlene's Review:

After years in a broken marriage, Gillian sits beside the bed of her comatose husband, Ricky by day, and luxuriates in the bliss of being free of him at night. Hoping he might never awaken, Gillian plans a future on her own terms. When he suddenly comes back from his coma, Gillian is caught off guard, and worries he is faking his amnesia to get back at her for his accident. She fills his mind with stories of a life they never had, but as things progress, and Ricky returns home, Gillian's plan, and stability, starts to unravel.

Umm, wow, okay?! This book is a spiraling mess of deception, and a study on the effects of dysfunction in families. We meet Gillian as an adult, but glimpses into her past show us a family that covered up secrets and modeled conditional love. Faced with that, and a lost sister, Gillian ends up pregnant and married, only to lose the baby, and endure a long, unhappy marriage.

I was, at first, identifying strongly with Gillian, but after Ricky wakes up, and some of his past is uncovered, things quickly got muddled. With a haunting storyline, Don't Wake Up makes you question how well you can truly know a person, as well as how truly you can know yourself. 5 out of 5 stars! I wholeheartedly recommend this book!

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

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

{Review} Between Eden and the Open Road by Philip Gaber

ISBN #: 978-0615585864
Page Count: 184
Copyright: June 23, 2012
Publisher: Philip Gaber

(Taken from Amazon)

Teasingly mysterious, preposterously sparse, this collection of imperfect art populaire is brought to you in surrealist Technicolor.

Read these small tales from the unconscious with unafraid eyes, when you're barely tired or leading a life of sloth or on the threshold of maturity struggling to find a place outside yourself or if you've just woken up and can't believe what's become of your life.

Charlene's Review:

If reading the description above speaks to you, then this is definitely the book for you. These 60+ poems and prose touch on all manner of subjects, and all levels of conscience. Often thought-provoking, Mr. Gaber has a definite melancholy style in which he writes. I found it a bit on the darker side, but there is a splash of humor and wit that keep it going.

The book is dedicated "for those to whom it speaks" and that may well be the best definition for these writings. Some chapters will speak to you, and some will simply not, but it is well-written and each tells a story in and of itself. If this book is any indication of what goes through Gaber's mind, the literary world had better watch out.

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

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

{Teaser Tuesday}

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Mizb at Should Be Reading. To participate, you need to:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two teaser sentences from somewhere on that page
  • Be careful not to include spoilers
  • Share the title and author so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR list if they like your teaser

Mandy's Teaser:

"Want to get the gun away from my head?" she growled.

"What, am I scaring you now?"

"As incompetent as you've been so far tonight? Oh, yeah. Absolutely."

Author: Karen Robards
Release Date: December 27, 2011
Publisher: Gallery Books

I appreciate a healthy dose of sarcasm, so I enjoyed finding this passage in this book.

Monday, October 15, 2012

{Review} Tilt by Ellen Hopkins

ISBN #: 978-1416983309
Page Count: 602
Copyright: September 11, 2012
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Three teens, three stories - all interconnected through their parents' family relationships. As the adults pull away, caught up in their own dilemmas, the lives of the teens begin to tilt ...

Mikayla, almost eighteen, is over-the-top in love with Dylan, who loves her back jealously. But what happens to that love when Mikayla gets pregnant the summer before their senior year - and decides to keep the baby?

Shane turns sixteen that same summer and falls hard in love with his first boyfriend, Alex, who happens to be HIV positive. Shane has lived for four years with his little sister's impending death. Can he accept Alex's love, knowing that his life, too, will be shortened?

Harley is fourteen - a good girl searching for new experiences, especially love from an older boy. She never expects to hurdle toward self-destructive extremes in order to define who she is and who she wants to be.

Love, in all its forms, has crucial consequences in this standalone novel.

Mandy's Review:

I've seen Ellen Hopkins' novels in stores. I've glanced through them, intimidated by the sheer volume of each one. I was intrigued by what I saw, though: the chapters being written poetry-style with stanzas and rhythm. Yet my intimidation over how thick the novels were kept me from buying them.

Then came my chance. I received Tilt in the mail for review. My first Ellen Hopkins novel. I was finally able to see what all the hype was about.

I began to read.

Before I knew it, I was over 100 pages into the novel. I just couldn't put it down. The way it's written makes it so easy to read. I especially loved the black pages; how she had a standalone word for each stanza that, when you read the standalone words from top to bottom, created their own sentence or thought. Very cool.

The characters are extremely realistic. Mikayla, blinded by love, allows her boyfriend to have sex with her without a condom ... twice. That's all it took. She became pregnant. Dylan, freaked out by the thought of being a father, wants her to abort it. Mikayla, being eighteen and pregnant, is so freaked out herself that she doesn't know what to do. Pardon my language, people, but Dylan is such a dick that he makes Mikayla choose between him and the baby.

Shane is so lonely that he has pretty much given up on finding love. His dad is religious to the point of believing Shane will go to hell for being gay. Shane pretty much stays in his room, looking at porno and getting high. One day, he meets Alex online and they get to know each other and fall in love. Shelby's death pushes Shane over the edge and he attempts suicide. He calls Alex to say 'goodbye.'

Harley is something else. She's fourteen and naive. Thinking she can handle anything, she gets into a relationship with an older guy. All he's interested in is popping her cherry. Being with him, wanting his attention and approval, Harley begins smoking weed and drinking. Any girl knows not to send a naked pic to a guy she barely knows, because what is he going to do? Yep! Show it to every guy he knows and probably some he doesn't know. Harley, honey, doesn't know any better. She thinks she's grown because Lucas wants her to send him a naked pic, so she does it. *Sigh* She learns her lesson, though, when Lucas proves exactly who he is.

This may have been my first Ellen Hopkins novel, but it will not be my last. I loved Tilt; the emotions, the drama, the realism, the uniqueness of the writing. This book definitely receives 5 out of 5 stars from me.

*A physical copy of this novel was provided by Goldberg McDuffie Communications in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

{Review} Train Station Bride by Holly Bush

File Size: 314 KB
Page Count: 175
Copyright: March 14, 2012
Publisher: BookBaby

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

1887 Debutante, Julia Crawford endures a lifetime of subtle ridicule as the plump, silly daughter of a premiere Boston family. Julia strikes out on her own to gain independence, traveling to the Midwest to marry an aging shopkeeper and care for his mother. Julia finds her new home rough and uncivilized after the sophistication of a big city, while closely held secrets threaten to ruin Julia's one chance at love.

Jake Shelling was sixteen and grew up quick when his parents died from influenza on the North Dakota prairie. Left with a half-cleared farm and two younger sisters, he spent little time on his own needs ... till now. At thirty-five, he figured it was high time to have some sons and a mail order bride would suit him just fine. No expectations of love, just a helpmate from sturdy stock, ready for farm life.

Mandy's Review:

Every now and then, I love to read a good old-fashioned romance that you don't have to analyze to death. You can just read enjoy it. That's what I did with Holly Bush's Train Station Bride.

Julia is a 27 year-old woman who is the embarrassment of her Boston blue-blood family. She has no husband and a past indiscretion is still not forgotten by her overbearing mother. The suitors Julia's mother and older sister try to set her up with are unattractive, poorly mannered, or just old. Julia's had enough. She decides to answer an ad written by a lonely Westerner searching for a bride. When she leaves home, her family is under the impression it is to go see an Aunt. They won't know about her escape to the West until a week later when the maid, and Julia's close friend, gives Julia's letters to her family.

Jake is 35 year-old man who hasn't taken the time for himself since his parents died and he had to raise his two younger sisters. This is a hard-working man, ladies. He was bound and determined to pay off the land he and his sisters lived on and he did just that. He took a horrible situation and made himself, and his family, a rousing success. He is faithful to his family. Once you become a part of the Shelling family, you're a Shelling until the day you die.

Jake, now that his two sisters are married, is ready to get married and have sons. He's not interested in love, so he pays for a mail-order bride from Sweden. On the day she's to arrive, he appears at the train station with the reverend. Talk about being serious about marriage! This woman doesn't have a chance to become acclimated to her surroundings before she's up and married.

I enjoyed reading this story. Julia's parents were unbelievable and I felt sorry for her. They treated her like she was still a child. I could've just slapped her mother silly. Jake was endearing and lovable. The characters were well-rounded and very relatable. The story was a romantic one, but it also had moments of surprises. I think any person who enjoys a romance story and likes to get lost in a simpler time would enjoy this novel.

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

Saturday, October 13, 2012

{Review} Shadowed by Ken Hughes

ISBN #: 978-0985048402
Page Count: 308
Copyright: May 12, 2012
Publisher: BCH Fulfillment & Distribution

(Taken from back cover)

Paul lives in hiding, struggling to control preternatural senses no secret is safe from and certain that nobody suspects he exists. He searches the city for answers, using his power and a few self-taught tricks to outwit those who have something to hide and still he cannot remember what drove him away from the people he loved. And now Paul must risk everything to protect the family he left, make peace with a woman he's wronged and face enemies more ruthless than his worst fears, to at last learn what has transformed his life. Because the one person who knows, is the one who did it to him.

Charlene's Review:

Paul has some unusual abilities that have led to him becoming estranged from his family, friends, and most of the world. He stalks through the days searching for the cause of his abilities, as well as trying to right the wrongs of the world. When he finds out his family is in danger, he reconnects with them, rather cautiously, and through a series of events, faces the one who he believes is responsible for changing his life.

This was an amazing suspense tale. The focus on the book is Paul, a victim of a mysterious transformation that allows him to use his five senses in ways unheard of before. Despite being an unwilling victim, he does his best to bust corruption around him, and to protect his family.

Before I realized it, I had read the book through in one evening. The degree with which this novel moves will completely sweep you in. Paul is a very complex character as he struggles to understand what happened to him, and how much of the consequences is his fault. Facing unknown forces, betrayals, and even risk of death, Paul begins to piece together his past, and to hopefully, right the future.

There are a lot of twists and turns, dead-ends, and suspense, all the way to the final page. It is left wide open for a sequel, that I hope to be just as riveting.

*A physical copy was received by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, October 12, 2012

{Book Blogger Hop} What Books Remind You of Fall?

Welcome to Literary R&R's stop on this week's Book Blogger Hop! The BBH is now on the road and is being hosted by Soon Remembered Tales this week. Hop on over there if you'd like to view the linky list of this week's Hop participants.

This week's question:

With Autumn upon us and Halloween drawing near, what books remind you of fall? What ones do you enjoy reading that are about autumn?

Kathy's Response:

For me, there are many "classics" that remind me of fall because I read them for summer reading. One that stands out in my memory is A Separate Peace by John Knowles. This was a summer reading assignment for high school, and as a classic coming-of-age tale it holds a special place for me in my heart. It's one that you never quite forget and will read time and time again.

Mandy's Response:

There isn't one particular novel that reminds me of Autumn, but around this time of the year (which is my favorite, by the way!!!) I absolutely love to read mysteries, thrillers, and suspense novels in preparation for all the spookiness October brings. My favorite novel to gear up for the spookiness? It by Stephen King. The movie sucked, but the novel is amazing.

I also begin "re-reading" my huge collection of cookbooks, as well as scouring the Internet, for new recipes to try for the upcoming holiday season.

Leave us a comment below and let us know what books remind you of fall. We'd love to hear what you have to say.

Happy Hopping!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

{Review} A Deed of Dreadful Note by A. C. Douglas

ISBN #: 978-1435700406
Page Count: 190
Copyright: October 28, 2007
Publisher: Lulu.com

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

This dark-hued "cozy" murder mystery ushers into the world of the amateur sleuth Sidney Hirsch, a fifty-something, long-haired, long-bearded, aristocratic Sherlock who, in this opening appearance, comes complete with a formidable if circumstantial female Watson: his sharp-witted M.A. candidate daughter, Margaret Anne.

On their way to a vacation destination together, Hirsch, on a whim, makes a detour to a small seaside town in southern New Jersey where they soon find themselves enmeshed in a grotesque case of murder. The execution-style killing has all the earmarks of a professional hit, and using that as his springboard, Hirsch proceeds to solve the bizarre if apparently clueless murder until he's seemingly dead-ended by an inconsistency he can't resolve that threatens to consign his entire chain of inductive reasoning to the proverbial toilet.

If a cats 'n quilts cozy murder mystery is what you were looking for, you're looking for it in the wrong place.

Mandy's Review:


That one word kept reverberating through my mind while reading this book. The story itself isn't pretentious, but the main character is.

Sidney is such a know-it-all that I just wanted to scream and slap this man silly. Every time he asked someone to look something over he already knew what they would or wouldn't find and it would be exactly as he suspected. Seriously?!! His arrogance I could deal with, but the vernacular he used was what made this man pretentious. Even after all of the books I've read during my life span, there were words in this book I'd never heard nor seen before. I would've stopped to look them up, but, in all honesty, there were parts that my eyes glazed over and I just kept moving on.

Margaret Anne is another story. She's nowhere near as pretentious as her daddy. Thank goodness! She does have some serious psychological issues, though. This girl cannot date a man because nobody can compare to her daddy. I can understand how a girl thinks no man will ever be as good as her father, but Margaret Anne took it to a whole new level. It wasn't said outright, but I sensed the implication that Margaret Anne finds herself in love with her own father.

That made you want to stop reading right there, didn't it? Go take a shower and come back ...



That's the worst of the review. Disregarding the two main characters, the mechanics of the story were nearly stellar. The author had a strong concept and wrote it well. The twists and turns in this story were just enough to make you want more, but not so much to feel as if your head was spinning and unable to keep up. The clues were placed so that when they became evident you would think back over the story and say to yourself, "Oooohhh, yeaahhh...."

I can see how Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock character was an influence in the creating of Sidney. His knowledge. His weird behavior. His affinity for smoking. His ability to take the smallest infinitesimal clue and have it mean something. I just wish Sidney wasn't so annoying to read. I don't recall Sherlock being pretentious. He wasn't, was he?

Overall, this book will get 3 out of 5 stars from me. I enjoyed the story and how the mystery came together, but didn't enjoy the characters so much.

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

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

{Review} Weed Killer by James Borwick

ISBN #: 978-0985867294
Page Count: 330
Copyright: August 6, 2012
Publisher: Spadefoot Press

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Weed Killer replaces the Philip Marlowe-style tough-guy hero with Eric Nine, a civilized, self-doubting, therapy-going mensch, bright enough to squeeze out of a tight corner, but out of his depth when investigating a murder. Soft-boiled Eric is drop-kicked into a hard-boiled world of malleable cops, over-confident gangsters, rapacious businessmen, prim socialites, and the occasional haughty poodle. He is no Sam Spade, taking a steam bath and downing a fifth of bourbon before a long night tailing a suspect. Instead, Eric smokes half a joint and brings a book-on-tape to keep him company. And when it comes to swapping jaded repartee with a psychopathic interrogator armed with a syringe, he is more likely to panic, to lose his nerve and run his ass off when the bad guys have their backs turned.

Kathy's Review:

This noir-esque story starts off with two stoners lamenting the death of their pot dealer in a fire. But when they learn that another pot dealer has also died in a fire, Eric Nine decides to investigate further. As one would expect, he gets dragged into some pretty weird stuff, including the world of show dogs, something involving a clown suit at a county fair, being kidnapped, and that's just the beginning.

I honestly didn't know where this story was going to go. I thought it could be a slapstick comedy of some guy high on pot trying to solve a murder. However, it ends up being more of a complex mystery with more and more layers being revealed as we go along. There are some genuinely funny moments throughout, and the writing is pretty solid. In the end, we don't really know much about our hero, Eric, except he likes to smoke pot, he's smart enough to figure out some connections between dead drug dealers, and he has some loyal friends. Overall I'd say this was a surprisingly good mystery that goes way beyond small-time pot dealers, and an exciting, fast-paced ride.

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

Monday, October 8, 2012

{Blog Tour/Review} War Stories by Elisabeth Doyle

Welcome to Literary R&R's stop on Elisabeth Doyle's War Stories book blog tour, hosted by Tribute Books.

Author Info:

Elisabeth Doyle is a writer and attorney living in Washington, D.C. She studied fiction writing at Sarah Lawrence College and the University at Albany, and is completing a Masters of Laws Degree at Georgetown University Law Center. Ms. Doyle's short fiction was published in the literary journal Nadir and was awarded the University at Albany's Lovenheim Prize for best short fiction. Her first short film, Hard Hearted One, was admitted into the Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema and the Street Films Film Festival, and was shown on Public Television and Manhattan Cable. War Stories is her first collection of short fiction.

Book Info:

ISBN #: 978-1937928407
Page Count: 119
Copyright: August 7, 2012
Publisher: Two Harbors Press


We all carry our own battle scars.

This is the premise of War Stories, a rich collection of short fiction that draws upon both the literal and figurative meaning of its title. Through a diverse array of characters, settings, and circumstances, War Stories delivers a series of powerful tales from the home front of war: the stories of parents, siblings, and spouses of those who have fought, as well as those who have returned from battle.

Set against the backdrop of contemporary conflicts, War Stories' compelling nine narratives tell of a wounded veteran who seeks renewal through an imagined relationship with a neighborhood girl, a grieving father who finds peace and reconciliation at the site of a disastrous bus crash, a young woman who searches for identity and meaning in the wake of her husband's injury, and an urban teenager engaged in a fateful standoff with local recruiters. Interspersed with these tales are powerful, non-traditional "war stories" - of youth, unexpected loss, and heartbreaking love.

War Stories' thoughtful and beautifully crafted tales, which range in style from deceptively simple to rich and complex, tell of people young and old, male and female, who share two things: humanity and resilience. These diverse and deftly written stories are joined through Elisabeth Doyle's remarkable style and ease in creating a universe full of despair, hope, and dreams. At turns tender and harsh, tragic and yearning, these stories will leave you wanting more.

Mandy's Review:

Everyone has a war story. If you've lived long enough, chances are you've gone through an experience that has changed you in some way. Sometimes those changes are so fundamental you cannot even pinpoint what the exact change is. You just know you've been changed. You just know you have battle scars. You encountered a war.

War doesn't always involve the military, although there are stories in this book that have that aspect to them. A person's war can be emotional, physical, or spiritual. It can be a situation that has one defining moment that is often not noticed until after the 'war' is over.

These stories tell you of a few people's wars. They will leave you wanting more as they all seem to end with a cliffhanger. For many of them I was disappointed that it ended the way it did ... not because the story wasn't well-told, but because I wanted to know the ending. I wanted to know exactly how the person changed after their defining moment.

The book is fairly easy to read being a little over 100 pages, but it contains stories that will cause you to think and reflect. They are stories that will echo through your being.

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

Sunday, October 7, 2012

{Review} The Obsession: Truth Beauty Trilogy (Volume 1) by T. V. LoCicero

ISBN #: 978-0615681351
Page Count: 352
Copyright: August 13, 2012
Publisher: TLC Media

(Taken from Amazon)

At a conference in Italy's lake district, American graduate student Stanford Lyle is enchanted with Lina Lentini, a lovely Italian professor of comparative lit. And when she lectures for a term at his mid-Michigan university, she considers a fling with Stan - until she meets John Martens, a professor, author and Stan's mentor. In her passionate affair with John, Lina becomes Stan's obsession, a hated nemesis for John's troubled wife, and the object of a vicious series of attacks aimed at destroying her reputation.

Lina loves the line from Keats, "Beauty is truth, truth beauty," even as her life fills with duplicity. John is pledged to do the right thing with his wife but often does not. And Stan surprises himself with the depth of his own perversity.

Forced back to her home in Bologna, Lina begins to reset her life. Then Stan appears on her doorstep. When John joins them, Stan schemes, threatens and stalks the lovers, first under the city's ancient porticoes and finally to the legendary Sicilian mountain town of Taormina with a shocking confrontation on the slopes of volcanic Mt. Etna.

The Obsession is the first entry in the Truth Beauty Trilogy, a dark edgy saga of suspense and murder that ranges across locations in the U.S., Europe, and the Bahamas.

Charlene's Review:

Stanford Lyle has his sights set on Italian professor, Lina. When Lina comes to the states as a guest lecturer, Stan, as a representative of his graduate school, sets Lina up with a temporary home, and introduces her around to his friends and staff, all in a prelude to what he hopes to be a romantic relationship. When she rebuffs his advances, Stan takes his obsession to terrifying levels. As her friends and lover join in to protect her from Stan, his violence reaches its peak. Lina is eventually forced to return to her home in Bologna, but soon, Stan finds her and the obsession continues to a climactic end.

The Obsession is not for the literary faint of heart. 339 pages is what it takes to reach its ending, and there are a few places when I just didn't think we would ever arrive. The premise of the book is sound, and the action sustaining, but it was a bit wordy in places and that dragged me down a bit. It took quite a while to review this book. That being said, Mr. LoCicero leaves little to the imagination, especially regarding his characters and their personalities. I felt they were old friends by the conclusion.

Religion, intrigue, stalking, fornication, murder, and even cancer round out a story of just about everything except "truth and beauty." A rather slanted view of Christianity, as well as politics, is profoundly evident, and nearly-pornographic scenes can be found among the pages of this book. This is a deeply disturbing look at the mind of a man obsessed, and the levels to which a person can go when they are being threatened.

While there was much I didn't particularly care for in the book, based solely on my own comfort level, this is a powerful, engaging story and one that followers of this particular genre would most likely enjoy.

I would give it 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

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

Saturday, October 6, 2012

{Blog Tour/Review} Shadow in the Reflection by Joe Niehaus & Mary Sikora

Welcome to Literary R&R's stop in Joe Niehaus' and Mary Sikora's Shadow in the Reflection virtual book blog tour sponsored by Pump Up Your Book. For this tour, Literary R&R is participating by reviewing Shadow in the Reflection. We hope you enjoy!

ISBN #: 978-1475925784
Page Count: 303
Copyright: May 22, 2012
Publisher: iUniverse, Inc.

Book Summary:
(Taken from the back cover)

Can destiny be fulfilled in just one lifetime? Dr. Gregory Ambrose thinks so. Through past-life regression therapy with a young woman named Anne, he finds himself carried over the centuries to not only a different time but a different reality. Anne's memories act like tendrils, drawing Ambrose into this most savage time with her.

Frustrated and confused Dr. Ambrose reaches out to a colleague for help. During their conversations, he learns that one of this doctor's past-life regression patients believes that he was some kind of Viking in another time - not unlike the Vikings in Anne's memories.

The coincidence is too much, and Ambrose's imagination and ambition tempt him down a dangerous path. Determined to know the truth and understand the connection, he begins to push the limits of his ethics.

What evolves is a story from another time, when wizards and warriors battle for power. The fate of two lands - one fighting for unity, the other for safety - hangs in the balance as two druids play out their own endgame strategies. At the same time, two hearts seek their destiny with true love. Fate lends a hand as all meet in a final battle.

Is it truly the end or just the beginning?

Mandy's Review:


Shadow in the Reflection implies a previous life that one can glimpse a shadow of if looking at their reflection closely enough. I understand this, and the reason why the cover art is done like it is, but I wish a reference to the title would've been made in the book somewhere to tie them together. As it stands, the title seems somewhat separate from the story.

Yes, the prologue is titled 'Shadow in the Reflection,' but it seems as an inappropriate title somehow. I still think the title could've been tied in better with the story.


A psychologist has had success with hypnotizing a patient and getting her to lose those last 20 pounds she wanted to lose. Because of this success, she agrees to let him hypnotize her into seeing if she's had past lives. Again, they have success and the patient is excited to encounter her previous self. So much so that she gets a little irritated when it's time to come back to the present.

The further the doctor regresses her, though, the more concerned he gets. Not knowing if it's ethical to continue the sessions, he requests the advise of his friend and colleague. As it so happens, his colleague also has a patient who is bearing witness to his past life during hypnosis ... and it seems that his past life may be entwined with the female patient's past life. This gives the two doctors the idea to write down the sessions and, perhaps, bring the two patients together.

What evolves is a story of Vikings, battles, druids, magic, treachery, and honor.

Main Characters

Gregory Ambrose - A psychologist interested in the past life of one of his patients. He also believes his past life is coming to life inside him as Gregor, the Druid.

Anne Prather - Dr. Ambrose's patient who is allowing herself to be hypnotized to a past life. She was a Briton princess by the name of Anya who was committed to becoming Prince Julian's wife.

Tom Ivy - Greg's friend and colleague who also has a patient that is regressing to a past life. He and Greg decide to partner together and write down their patients' stories.

Hap Roth - Dr. Ivy's patient who is allowing himself to be hypnotized to a past life. He was a great Viking warrior by the name of Hrothgar who became king before he was ready.


On a negative note, there are quite a few editing issues that need to be taken care of (not spellcheck errors, editing errors). Aside from that, I rather enjoyed this story-within-a-story. I actually finished reading this book in September and wrote this post then. I began this book while at lunch one day because I didn't have anything else with me to read. Once I started, I didn't want to stop until I had finished.

I was a little unsure of the depth of Hrothgar's and Anya's love and loyalty to each other. I wasn't sure until she was returned to Julian and Anya's relationship with Hrothgar was brought out into the open. I would've enjoyed seeing Anya and Hrothgar's relationship fleshed out a little more during their time together, but the story mainly focused on the upcoming battles and the fight for unity ... which I understand, but having the balance of a little more romance would've made the book that much better.

As it stands, Shadow in the Reflection is an engagingly unique story that held me captive until the end. I think it would you, too.

*A physical copy of the book was provided by one of the authors in exchange for an honest review for the purposes of this tour.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

{Review} Pearl Lover by Kea Noli

File Size: 358 KB
Page Count: 220
Copyright: July 4, 2012
Publisher: Kea Noli

Book Summary:
(Taken from Goodreads)

A spoilt debutante. A manipulating mother. And a love triangle with a twist.

Nixie Veidt is forced to choose between money and love. She must stay faithful to the bureaucrat she marries to save her inheritance, but her love belongs to a Russian dancer. When she hires him for her company, she risks everything.

Is it moral to love two men? Be prepared for an unconventional ending.

Nixie's mother, a wealthy socialite, hires a private detective and spies on her daughter. A debutante's conflicting love for two men, and the struggling rebirth of Ballets Russes, a ballet company.

Kathy's Review:

I began reading this in a complete shroud of confusion. Nixie's father is dying, he tells her "go on, take the money and run" (hoo hoo hoo! TM Steve Miller Band) but ... why? Then there's these gangster types - or are they cops? I don't know. The author is being deliberately mysterious, I'm sure, but I don't even have the remotest of clues what is happening. Even a quarter of the way in, I was still floundering to understand the action. I think I'm in for a kind of fugitive-on-the-run cop thriller, but then it ends up being a story about spoiled rotten prima donna ballerinas.


I settled in, finally, and began to despise the main character of Nixie and her boyfriend, Kolya, who seems to be the French equivalent of a d-bag. And only interested in Nixie for her seemingly endless supply of money. They are both immature brats. The money Nixie inherits from her dad quickly disappears with the extravagant lifestyle Kolya lives. Then, did I mention that Nixie has to marry an older (20-something) cop to be able to access her inheritance because she is only 17? He's in love with her, she's in love with Kolya and kind of in love with Morten, Kolya's in love with Lea, another ballerina, but also has feelings for Nixie. Nixie's mother, Maria, really muddles things up, and in the end, things fall apart but kind of come together. Does that make sense? Probably not.

The significance of the pearl in the title is a necklace that Kolya buys for Nixie (using Nixie's money! WTF!) that symbolizes his love for her even though they are both with other people. Yes, it is just an object (albeit an expensive one), but it is used throughout the story to show the love between Nixie and Kolya.

If you ask me, all these people need some tough love, therapy and a "real job." The moral of the story - I think - is that money can't buy happiness. No one in this story really seems to understand this, except maybe Morten (Nixie's husband-for-hire). However, without feeling truly grounded in this novel until maybe the second act, and with characters you just want to throttle, the message is lost for me.

AND - in re-reading the book summary, I just caught something. The genre is listed as "Young Adult." I'm sorry, but this is not something I would recommend to a teen. It's too dry, and the action is very adult as it all revolves around money or the lack thereof.

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

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

{Review} Reel Life by Jackie Townsend

ISBN #: 978-0983791508
Page Count: 380
Copyright: February 22, 2012
Publisher: Ripetta Press

(Taken from back cover)

Sisters are meant to always be there for each other, or are they? In the glare of reality, clashing views and acts of betrayal can work to form unbridgeable gaps, and the fabric of sisterly love must be delicately rewoven from whole cloth.

Reel Life charts the story of redheaded sisters Betty and Jamie, who must call upon the past to forge a new and meaningful connection for the future. With iconic moments of contemporary cinema driving the narrative thread, this absorbing work will cut straight to the heart and reveal the intricate, complex emotions that come together to form a family. Exploring themes of motherhood, body image, ambition and love, this tender, deeply affecting tale of two sisters offers a poignant close-up of this most intimate of relationships, which can both haunt and heal.

Surging with drama that is interlaced with subtle irony, Reel Life illuminates how, sometimes, escaping reality can be the clearest path to emotional truth.

Charlene's Review:

The product of a less than ideal home, Betty and Jamie grew up learning how to NOT deal with issues. The ideal escape: a movie theater. With a mother who is depressed and self-absorbed, and a therapist father who withdraws after their marriage fails, the girls think they should have a special bond. The reality is, even without the ability to communicate, their shared lives still hold them in a fragile bond that neither one can break, no matter how hard they try. And try, they do.

Following them through the years, through jobs and relationships, to kids and dealing with their parents as adults, Betty and Jamie come together, often at the cinema. Each chapter focuses on a time period in their lives, and relates it to a movie from that time. This is a very complex story, dealing with a lot of intimate issues. The ending was a bit disappointing to me, but as a whole, it was an engaging story.

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