Tuesday, July 31, 2012

{Teaser Tuesday} #21 - Parental Advisory


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


Kathy's Teaser:


"When she reads it, it's going to kill her. I've been trying to figure out how to stop this, but -"

She started sobbing and then swallowed hard, trying to stop, not wanting him to see her like this.


Barefoot Girls, Ebook location 4833
Author: Tara McTiernan
Release Date: July 2, 2012
Publisher: CreateSpace




Mandy's Teaser:


"Meep!"

"Shut up!"

It's round about then that I lose my temper. "Why the fuck d'ya keep doing that?" I scream.

"Shut up!" the monster honks back.

"Shut the fuck up!" I tell it.

"Shut up!"

"SHUT! UP!"

"Shut up!"

Flustered by all the shouting, the monkey honks his nose repeatedly in alarm. As if repetition breeds comprehension.

"Meep! Meep! Meep!"

Graysmark stiffens at my side. Seeing clearly where this exchange is going. Knowing implicitly what's gonna happen next. Trying to throw the conversational equivalent of a fireproof blanket on the situation, he says, "I think it's a kind of distress signal."

"Shut up!"

He might just've well hurled water onto blazing oil.

"Kill it!" I command.

"Shut up!"

"Meep! Meep! Meep!"

"But, your excellency, I fear their realm is in peril and they ..."

"Kill them both!"

"Shut up!"

"Meep! Meep! Meep!"

I don't ask him again.


Forever A-Men, Pages123-124
Author: John Trevillian
Copyright: March 1, 2012
Publisher: Troubador Publishing Ltd.


Side Note: I know my teaser was longer than usual, but I found this part hilarious when I came across it and had to share.

Monday, July 30, 2012

{Blog Tour/Review} Murder Takes Time by Giacomo Giammatteo

Welcome to our stop on Giacomo Giammatteo's Murder Takes Time blog tour! We hope you enjoy!

ISBN #: 978-0985030209
Page Count: 438
Copyright: April 12, 2012
Publisher: Inferno Publishing Company


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

A string of brutal murders has bodies piling up in Brooklyn, and Detective Frankie Donovan knows what is going on. Clues left at the crime scenes point to someone from the old neighborhood, and that isn't good.

Frankie has taken two oaths in his life - the one he took to uphold the law when he became a cop, and the one he took with his two best friends when they were eight years old and inseparable. Those relationships have forced Frankie to make many tough decisions, but now he faces the toughest one of his life; he has five murders to solve and one of those two friends is responsible. If Frankie lets him go, he breaks the oath he took as a cop and risks losing his job. But if he tries to bring him in, he breaks the oath he kept for twenty-five years - and risks losing his life.

In the neighborhood where Frankie Donovan grew up, you never broke an oath.


Mandy's Review:

Cover

Unfortunately, I do not care for the cover. I believe that when most potential readers take a look at this cover, it'll deter them from picking it up and giving this book a chance ... which is a shame because this book is wonderful and should be read by all murder-mystery lovers.

Plot

Three boys grew up in the same neighborhood and became best friends. They did everything together, especially get into trouble. As with any group of friends, each boy played a certain role within the group. One was the scapegoat, one was the charismatic leader, and one was smart enough to know how to keep the peace.

Over the years, each go their separate ways only to come together again through a string of murders. Frankie, the boy who grew up to become a Detective, recognizes hints left by the murderer. They remind him of various situations the three were in while growing up. The only question is: which of the other two friends is the killer?

Main Characters

Frankie - aka "Bugs" - had a horrible childhood. His mother was cheating on his father and his father became abusive. There were a bunch of siblings, so it was difficult to come by new clothes unless you worked and earned money for them. His only reprieve was spending time with his two best friends.

Niccolo - aka "Nicky the Rat" - also had a difficult life growing up. His mother died in childbirth. He was the only child and his father seemed so distant all the time. Nicky spent the majority of his time with Rosa, his mother's best friend who helped raise him.

Tony - had the easiest life of the three friends. His mother was Rosa and she always made sure he had what he needed ... except her undivided attention. Tony's resentment of Nicky seemed to grow the more time Nicky spent over at Tony's house. Tony and Nicky looked so much alike that people often commented that they could be brothers.

Angela - Nicky's first love. She often stopped by Mama Rosa's to learn how to cook. She knew Nicky for years before they even went out on their first date. They planned on getting married and raising a family. Then a situation occurred which caused Nicky to be taken away from Angela for years. That's when Angela's life changed for the worse.

Overall

I absolutely loved this book. Once I began reading it, I did not want to put it down.

Murder Takes Time is exceptionally written. The back-and-forth between past and present teases you by giving you just enough information and clues to make you eagerly anticipate what's going to happen next. Around the middle of the novel, I had a feeling I knew what was going to happen but I just had to finish reading it so I could find out the details. I just cannot gush enough about this book.

If you love murder-mysteries, you have got to check out this book!!! I cannot wait until the second book in this series is out ... although, I do wonder how the next storyline will work out ... hhmmm ...


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

Sunday, July 29, 2012

{Review} Vampyre Kisses by Elizabeth J. Kolodziej

ISBN #: 978-0983449454
Page Count: 262
Copyright: May 21, 2012
Publisher: Third Broom on the Left Press


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Vampyre Kisses is an enthralling story about a young woman named Faith, who was content with her life, but deep down craved more excitement. Then a mysterious man named Trent enters her life and everything changes. Surprising to Faith, Trent is a green-eyed vampire from Ireland. She is even more surprised to find out that she is a witch, and the last of her kind.

Faith finds out that she is destined to restore her witch line and becomes more powerful as she gains confidence and knowledge, but danger lurks everywhere. Especially when unknown assailants steal the most important gems from the vampire master and werewolf royalty.

Now surrounded by a world full of mystifying vampires and werewolves, can Faith gain enough power to help her friends and rescue the stolen gems?


Mandy's Review:

I don't know about ya'll, but when I read a vampire/werewolf story I automatically begin comparing it to the Twilight series. Sorry fantasy authors ... blame Stephanie Meyers' success for this happening ... Vampyre Kisses was not immune to my comparisons.

I was pleasantly surprised in that the only similarity I noticed was the human-werewolf-vampire love-triangle. And, slight spoiler alert, yes, Faith chooses Trent, the vampire. But let's be honest, shall we? Who wouldn't choose a vampire over a werewolf? Vampires are much more sexy ... although the only being able to go out at night bit would get old after a while.

Back to Vampyre Kisses ...

Faith's life is one big ole mess, honey. Her father was murdered, her mother's trying to kill her, her father's girlfriend (a vampire) gave Faith "the kiss" to protect her, she's the last witch, and she has to fight her boss in an epic battle. While all of this is happening, she's learned how to make potions, cast spells, focus her energy, read auras, ride a mythological animal, become one with the four elements and fight like a warrior.

Sounds like a lot, doesn't it?

Even though there's a lot going on, Ms. Kolodziej's writing style will draw you in and cause you to lose yourself in the story. Taking liberties with mythology and vampire/werewolf lore, Vampyre Kisses is a freshly unique start to a promising series.


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

Saturday, July 28, 2012

{Review} Loving Trixie Fine by Beth Henderson & Letty James

ISBN #: 978-1105121852
Page Count: 214
Copyright: October 15, 2011
Publisher: Lulu.com


Description:
(Taken from Amazon)

Baby Boomer Dr. Beatrice Fine has spent the past decade working to concoct a youth restorer cream that will put the competition in the shade. This brings her to the attention of industrial spies who attempt to kill her as well as steal her formula. Then a miracle happens. Her creation saves her -- alters her -- turning back her physical clock thirty years and giving her another chance to have the sort of life she barely dared to dream of in her youth, much less middle age.

A combination fantasy, adventure, romantic suspense tale with a lot of humor AND main characters of an age not usually associated with tales of romance, much less the sort that deserves a warning -- which this one does -- that detailed erotic love scenes are included. From the pens of tame romance writer Beth Henderson and erotic romance writer Letty James, Loving Trixie Fine is planned to be just the first adventure featuring their dauntless scientist heroine.


Charlene's Review:

When Beatrice Fine, a distinguished chemist, is nearly blown up in her lab, her assistant, Zack Ashcroft comes to her rescue. Decades her junior, Ashcroft takes her into his home to protect her from the spies that blew up her lab in an attempt to steal her secret youth restorer, ER-6900. Having been accidentally submerged in ER-6900 during the ordeal, Bea suddenly finds her body and appearance changing, as well as her libido. Suddenly, her young assistant and her can't keep their hands off each other, which they must do in order to solve the crime and re-introduce her to the world of the living.

Loving Trixie Fine is a suspenseful, engaging, clever, and erotic novel. Starting immediately with an action-filled scene, it goes quickly from that moment on, teasing the reader with intelligent characters, seduction, and the chase to find the bad guy. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters of Bea/Trixie and Zack, that despite their age difference very definitely have some REAL chemistry going on. Their witty banter is especially enjoyable, as is their new-found love for each other. With the addition of a bad guy that you love to hate, industrial espionage is played out at its best, and worst.

A fun read that focuses on something every woman at some time dreams of; a youthful body with the advantage of keeping life experience. Far-fetched, maybe, but if ER-6900 ever came on the market, I'd be willing to give it a try! This is a well-rounded story, with a naughty little sideline. I can't wait to see what adventures lie ahead for Bea and Zack.


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

Friday, July 27, 2012

{Blog Tour/Guest Post} Satan's Chamber by Molly Best Tinsley & Karetta Hubbard



Welcome to our stop on Molly Best Tinsley's and Karetta Hubbard's Satan's Chamber mini blog tour, hosted by Tribute Books. We hope you enjoy their bios and guest post below.


Book Info:

ISBN #: 978-0984141203
Page Count: 294
Copyright: August 2009
Publisher: Fuze Publishing


Summary:

Junior CIA operative Victoria Pierce is posted to Khartoum, Sudan, where her father vanished five years before. Obsessed with solving the mystery of his disappearance, she uncovers a horrific plot that threatens to ignite World War III. A fast-paced spy thriller, Satan's Chamber shuttles between Washington, DC, and war-torn Sudan, geo-political intrigue and ancient mysticism. It introduces a rich array of memorable characters, from Bart Wilkins, the bumbling but buff young supply officer at the Embassy, to Kendacke, one-eyed descendant of the female pharaohs, to Adam Marshall, one of the richest and most ruthless men in the world.


Authors' Bios:


Air Force brat Molly Best Tinsley taught on the civilian faculty at the United States Naval Academy for twenty years and is the institution's first professor emerita. Author of My Life with Darwin (Houghton Mifflin) and Throwing Knives (Ohio State University Press), she also co-authored Satan's Chamber (Fuze Publishing) and the textbook, The Creative Process (St. Martin's). Her fiction has earned two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Sandstone Prize, and the Oregon Book Award. Her plays have been read and produced nationwide. She lives in Oregon, where she divides her time between Ashland and Portland.

As a businesswoman and entrepreneur, Karetta Hubbard has more than twenty-five years of experience in consulting, strategic management, and organizational change for companies throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Japan. Having recently turned to literary endeavors, Ms. Hubbard credits her five grandchildren as her inspiration and encouragement to put pen to paper.

As an active member of the Washington, DC community, Ms. Hubbard has held appointments at the Small Business Advisory Council (SBA), the Tyson Business and Professional Women Foundation (BPW), and the Fairfax County Democratic Committee. Ms. Hubbard attended the University of Virginia and received her B.A. degree from George Mason University. She also attended Catholic University's Graduate School in Social Work.


Guest Post:

Pharaoh is just another word for King or Ruler, and in ancient times, the land of Nubia that lay south of Egypt (in what is now northern Sudan) was ruled by a series of queens, or female pharaohs. These were also called kendackes, and the English name Candace derives from that word. Relations between Nubia and Egypt were tense: the Egyptians believed that a particular mountain on Nubian land, Jebel Barkal, was sacred and the birthplace of key Egyptian gods. Thus they often invaded and occupied the region. One female pharaoh, or Kendacke, earned fame for leading her army to drive the Egyptians out of Nubia. She lost an eye during the battle.

Now here's the interesting part - and this sort of synchronicity happens all the time when you imagine stories. Molly was drafting a chapter early in the novel when the image of a regally tall woman, draped in blue, stepped onto the page. She had only one eye. That particular scene didn't survive in a rewrite - Kendacke's entrance was postponed until later - but as our research began to uncover more details for Kendacke's character - that of a selfless, mystical leader committed to unifying and redeeming her people - we were astonished to read that one of the famous Nubian queens had lost an eye!

Kendacke is absolutely critical to the story of Satan's Chamber as a counterbalance to the horrific evil at loose in Sudan - both in real life and in our novel - forces of greed, corruption, brutality, and betrayal. She represents for our protagonist, the young American CIA operative Tory Pierce, a powerful female model and strong reasons not to succumb to cynicism or despair but to continue to fight for one's ideals. Tory is also a fierce loner, convinced that by applying her reason, she can act unilaterally with success. Kendacke's modus operandi is collective and cooperative, and her appeal is to the intuition and spirit, but she's a tireless, effective warrior nevertheless.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

{Review} The Angry Woman Suite by Lee Fullbright

ISBN #: 978-1937698539
Page Count: 378
Copyright: March 10, 2012
Publisher: Telemachus Press, LLC


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon as written by Kirkus Reviews)

Discovery Award 2012, First Place, Literary Fiction

Raised in a crumbling New England mansion by four women with personalities as split as a cracked mirror, young Francis Grayson has an obsessive need to fix them all. There's his mother, distant and beautiful Magdalene; his disfigured, suffocating Aunt Stella; his odious grandmother; and the bane of his existence, his abusive and delusional Aunt Lothian. For years, Francis plays a tricky game of duck and cover with the women, turning to music to stay sane. He finds a friend and mentor in Aidan Madsen, schoolmaster, local Revolutionary War historian, musician and keeper of the Grayson women's darkest secrets.

In a skillful move by Fullbright, those secrets are revealed through the viewpoints of three different people -- Aidan, Francis and Francis' stepdaughter, Elyse -- adding layers of eloquent complexity to a story as powerful as it is troubling. While Francis realizes his dream of forming his own big band in the 1940s, his success is tempered by the inner monster of his childhood, one that roars to life when he marries Elyse's mother. Elyse becomes her stepfather's favorite target, and her bitterness becomes entwined with a desire to know the real Francis Grayson.

For Aidan's part, his involvement with the Grayson family only deepens, and secrets carried for a lifetime begin to coalesce as he seeks to enlighten Francis -- and subsequently Elyse -- of why the events of so many years ago matter now. The ugliness of deceit, betrayal and resentment permeates the narrative, yet there are shining moments of hope, especially in the relationship between Elyse and her grandfather.

Ultimately, as more of the past filters into the present, the question becomes: What is the truth, and whose version of the truth is correct? Fullbright never untangles this conundrum, and it only adds to the richness of this exemplary novel.


Kathy's Review:

The Angry Woman Suite is a complex and moving story told from three different perspectives as it slowly unravels the mystery surrounding the Grayson family over several decades and generations. Every family has a skeleton in their closet, but the Graysons have several. Aidan, who is connected to the family, is just as much of a part of their history as he knows the secrets and shares in some of the guilt associated with them. The Angry Woman Suite is a series of paintings, with Magdalene Grayson as its subject. Why these paintings are so important is key to the main mystery of the story. Here's a brief who's who in the story, although this is not everyone:

The Graysons:
Magdalene, central to the story, she is the woman in the Angry Woman Suite
Lothian, Magdalene's sister, she holds resentment over the past events
Stella, Magdalene's sister, physically deformed, hidden by her family
Francis, Magdalene's son, one of the narrators in the story
Elyse, Francis' daughter, one of the narrators in the story
Lear, father of Magdalene, Lothian and Stella
Elizabeth, mother of Magdalene, Lothian and Stella

Other Central Characters:
Aidan Madsen, one of the narrators in the story
Matthew Waterson, artist, painted the Angry Woman Suite
Jaime Waterson, Matthew's son, a musician

I have to say, the writing in this book is superb. I'd expect to see this book in a Barnes & Noble right next to the other books that have "made it" - it's that good. The characters are fully rounded, full of emotion and flaws, and the plot is so intricate that only a master of the craft could pull it off. This is a book I would get completely lost in as I turned each page. I could perfectly picture the Grayson house, the paintings, all the action within. At almost 400 pages, it took me a long time to read, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. When I closed the book after reading the last words, I sat quietly for a few moments, emotions washing through me. I was moved in a way I was not expecting.

My only nitpick about this book: I thought the cover was a little bit amateurish, especially because it represents what is supposed to be part of a very valuable art collection. And given the high quality of the writing within, I think the book deserves better.

You will not regret reading The Angry Woman Suite. Grab a copy and prepare to enter the world of the Graysons. And major publishers - please sign Lee Fullbright to a big-time deal! I look forward to seeing more great work from this author.


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

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

{Review} An Unquenchable Thirst: Following Mother Teresa in Search of Love, Service, and an Authentic Life by Mary Johnson

ISBN #: 978-0385666978
Page Count: 523
Copyright: September 13, 2011
Publisher: Bond Street Books


Description:
(Taken from book jacket flap)

At seventeen, Mary Johnson saw Mother Teresa's face on the cover of Time and experienced her calling. Eighteen months later, she entered a convent in the South Bronx to begin her religious training. Not without difficulty, this bright, independent-minded Texas teenager eventually adapted to the sisters' austere life of poverty and devotion, and in time became close to Mother Teresa herself.

Still, beneath the white and blue sari beat the heart of an ordinary young woman facing the struggles we all share - the desire for love and connection, meaning and identity. During her twenty years with the Missionaries of Charity, Sister Donata, as she was known, grappled with her faith, her sexuality, the politics of the order, and her complicated relationship with Mother Teresa. Eventually, she left the church to find her own path - one that led to love and herself.

Provocative, profound, and emotionally charged, An Unquenchable Thirst presents a rare, privileged view of Mother Teresa. At the same time, it is a unique and magnificent memoir of self-discovery.


Mandy's Review:

I've been interested in Catholicism since marrying my husband almost five years ago (He was raised Catholic, I was raised Pentecostal). Not interested to the point of converting, but interested enough to take a deeper look into the traditions and religious practices of Catholicism. So, when this book review request came to me, I had to agree.

An Unquenchable Thirst provides a very in-depth look into the process of becoming a nun. Granted, this is one woman's experience, but the details provided in her telling of her life is extraordinary. I have gained so much knowledge from reading about Mary's life. I have also gained a new-found respect for any woman who goes through the process of becoming a nun.

Most autobiographies are boring and not worth the read, but Mary writes her autobiography in a way that is engaging and keeps you turning the pages. I laughed out loud while reading about her summer camp children and, especially, when I read about Mary picking up her superior and shaking her! I would've paid money to see that.

I became angry over how Mary was treated by some of her superiors and when she wasn't allowed to speak her mind. That right there told me I would not make it as a nun. If I've got an opinion, honey, you best believe I'll be sharing it.

Overall this is an exceptionally written autobiography that I would recommend to one and all. Even if you don't like autobiographies, I suggest you give this a try. I think you'll find it enjoyable.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

{Teaser Tuesday} #20


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



Kate's Teaser:

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," Matthias muttered. He didn't think she could hear him, but her eyelids fluttered - once, twice ... Then, amazingly, they opened all the way.


... and ...


You couldn't stand by when the Population Police were killing children.


Among the Enemy
The Shadow Children Series: Book 6
Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix
Release Date: August 22, 2006
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers




Charlene's Teaser:

"There should be a button on the side of our heads like they have on hair-dryer plugs."

"A reset button?"

"Yeah, and if you were doing it (something stupid) but you couldn't, like, reach or something,  your friend could push the button for you and save you from your own stupidity."


Deep Down True, Page 218
Author: Juliette Fay
Release Date: January 25, 2011
Publisher: Penguin Books




Kathy's Teaser, #1:

No squall could frighten Dany, though. Daenerys Stormborn, she was called, for she had come howling into the world on distant Dragonstone as the greatest storm in the memory of Westeros howled outside, a storm so fierce that it ripped gargoyles from the castle walls and smashed her father's fleet to kindling.


A Storm of Swords, Page 106
Author: George R. R. Martin
Release Date: March 4, 2003
Publisher: Bantam



Kathy's Teaser, #2:

Irena was furious to be handled so roughly, but then she saw that the gendarme was a young boy, frightened, probably from the countryside, lucky to have a job at all. Most likely, he had no use for the Jews before the war; he was paid to mistreat them.


Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project, Page 119
Author: Jack Mayer
Release Date: March 28, 2011
Publisher: Long Trail Press



Kathy's Teaser, #3:


They had removed the body of the thief from the study using a folding cot from Kristoll's basement as a stretcher. They used it again to carry the body from the trunk of Kristoll's Ford up the hill and to the clearing.


Bad Things Happen, Page 25
Author: Harry Dolan
Release Date: June 16, 2010
Publisher: Berkley Trade




Mandy's Teaser, #1:


She could bring terror to the neighborhood by pulling that mask over her head. Merchants would scream, "Lollipop, lollipop," and rush to the deepest corner of their shops.


Marilyn the Wild, Page 234 of The Isaac Quartet
Author: Jerome Charyn
Release Date: June 7, 2002 (Original Release Date: 1976)
Publisher: Four Walls Eight Windows



Mandy's Teaser, #2:


"Me?" I asked. "Why me?" I turned to my mother. "Is Daddy trying to pimp me out?" I expected her to laugh. Instead she said, "He means well."

"'He means well'? What kind of answer is that?"

She just shrugged and went back to her glass of pinot grigio and reading the latest issue of Vanity Fair.


Anne of Hollywood, Page 93
Author: Carol Wolper
Release Date: July 17, 2012
Publisher: Gallery Books


Monday, July 23, 2012

{Review} Inside Evil by Geoffrey Wakeling

ASIN #: B007JIH0EU
File Size: 318 KB
Page Count: 176


Book Summary:
(As given by the author)

Ever wondered why the Scottish woods are so wild? Why it's dangerous to be out at night? Why, even on beautiful moonlit nights, it's safer to be nestled up beside a crackling fire? Roberta Arlington and the residents of Ridgewood are about to find out.

Roberta Arlington lives in Ridgewood, a small and sleepy town on the Scottish border, where she is completely content with her life. That is, until she stumbles upon a corpse at the local boarding school and finds that her world starts to unravel into chaos.

As questions begin to emerge as to just how the victim died, Roberta discovers herself caught in a world which she never knew existed. Like a shadow hanging behind Roberta's own life, another world hovers in the background, waiting silently until trying to break through. Roberta soon discovers that she'll have to find all the strength she has to survive the path laid before her.


Kathy's Review:

Mysterious and creepy, Inside Evil focuses around Roberta, a boarding school teacher who discovers the body of Vanessa, a student at the school. After the discovery, Roberta starts acting strangely - her actions are beyond her control. Vanessa's mother, Susan, owns a book shop in town which is at the center of another mystery. Susan and Sam, her employee, discover a cellar with some strange contents - including some pages from Vanessa's diary. As the story unfolds, the characters and us as readers try to connect the dots to figure out what the force is that killed Vanessa and the others, and if it will be found out in time to save Roberta.

Overall I enjoyed Inside Evil. The plot was suspenseful, the answers just far enough out of reach to make me want to read on to find out more. I like the way it all came together in the end, with all the characters playing a part. I would have like a little bit more explanation of what was going on in the cellar, and perhaps some of the journal pages. But I think the author told a very intriguing, chilling tale that I would pass along to any reader who enjoys mystery with a little twist of supernatural.


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

Sunday, July 22, 2012

{Review} Morton's Fork: A Doctor's Dilemma by Dale Coy, M.D.

ISBN #: 978-1935766193
Page Count: 284
Copyright: June 6, 2012
Publisher: Chi-Towne Fiction


Description:

Morton's Fork: A choice between two equally unpleasant alternatives.

Roger Hartley is a dedicated old-school physician who prides himself on knowing his patients by name and promptly returning their calls. But squeezed by the new economics of health care, his tidy world begins to unravel when an uninsured patient slaps him with a frivolous lawsuit.

At the mercy of an unjust legal system, Hartley reaches his breaking point and commits a rash act that unexpectedly thrusts him into the center of a hot-button political issue. Chaos ensues as the worlds of law and medicine collide. The original malpractice lawsuit becomes the least of Hartley's troubles.

Morton's Fork is a thought-provoking social commentary that provides unique insight into the heart and soul of a doctor. Coy, with twenty years of experience as an internist, leaves the reader with a greater understanding of tort reform and the issues that derail our health care system.


Charlene's Review:

After 20 years of practice, Dr. Roger Hartley is served a summons for malpractice by a questionable patient. As the reality of the suit sets in, Hartley starts to question everything he knew to be true in his life and his profession. The resulting confusion pushes him to a desperate act, and ultimately into the unwilling position of "poster boy" for tort reform.

Up against Anita Johnson, a formidable attorney who will stop at nothing to put him away, Hartley does some deep soul-searching and faces trial with a renewed sense of justice. After a medical emergency leaves Anita in the very care of the doctors she litigates against, she has a change of heart, but the trial must go on. Dr. Hartley's future depends on the outcome, or does it?

Dr. Coy effectively shows us the sacrifices that doctors make, through loss of time, sleep, and its strain on family. Reflecting the present fight over "Obamacare," Dr. Coy gives us insider knowledge of the pitfalls of health care reform. In the present system, patients' well-being, and often their very life and death, is dependent on HMO approval. Add to that the high cost of malpractice insurance and high lawsuit pay-outs, and this so-called "reform" is actually eroding doctors' ability to heal.

While definitely making a political statement, this is not all boring commentary, but a well thought-out novel with a super-charged ending that literally left me breathless. This is an eye-opening message at an opportune time, and entertaining as well. Dr. Coy has a promising future in writing, and may very well be the "poster child" for tort reform.


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

Saturday, July 21, 2012

{Review} Lodestone, Book Three: The Crucible of Dawn by Mark Whiteway

ISBN #: 978-1602642331
Page Count: 387
Copyright: August 15, 2011
Publisher: Virtualbookworm.com Publishing


Book Description:
(Taken from Amazon)

The multiple award-winning "Lodestone" series returns in an all-action third installment.

Having finally secured the four components of Annata's ancient device, ten Kelanni, together with the enigmatic Chandara Boxx, set sail for the Island of Helice in order to neutralize the human weapon designed to eradicate the planet's indigenous life and to give them control over lodestone - the most powerful substance in the universe.

After fending off an attack from an immense sea creature, the party is attacked by human flying machines. Shann and Rael, two of the four component carriers, are lost somewhere on the island, their fate unknown.

Will the Kelanni be able to reach the human weapon and disarm it? With time against them, they must battle to overcome internal conflicts and, along the way, uncover shocking new truths about themselves; about their enemies, the humans; and about the strange creature Boxx, whose ultimate purpose yet remains a mystery.


Mandy's Review:

Have you ever read a book that you wanted to hungrily devour with your eyes because you just had to know what was going to happen next, yet you didn't want to read it too fast because you wanted to savor it?

Or perhaps you've felt like this picture:


Those two feelings describe me perfectly whenever I read a Lodestone book.

For a lady who didn't used to like fantasy novels, Mark Whiteway has not only converted me but has become one of my must-read authors. His Lodestone series is absolutely phenomenal.

In this book, even though there was a lot of action, I felt like the author focused mostly on the relationships of the main characters. Everyone's edges started smoothing out and they began flowing together like a family. There was a sense of unity to the group that had not been there in the previous books. It was a welcomed feeling.

Once the group completed their mission of destroying the humans' weapon, though, the group separated on, seemingly, different agendas. By the end, we see that everyone's agendas coincided and assisted with a greater purpose: to kill the Prophet.

This story definitely had me feeling more emotions than the previous two books. I was saddened by three particular deaths in this story (no, I'm not going to tell you who); one of which, I found out, wasn't a death, but a transformation. The story ends as does so many situations in life: with some happiness, but with also a feeling of unfulfillment.

I highly recommend this series to all you fantasy-lovers out there, but you have to read the first two books first to get the full impact. This series will affect all of your emotions and leave you wanting more ... as it does me.

Please tell me there's more, Mr. Whiteway ... ???


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

Friday, July 20, 2012

{Blog Tour} Guest Post: Natalie Wexler



Welcome, one and all, to Literary R&R's stop on Natalie Wexler's The Mother Daughter Show mini blog tour, hosted by the fabulous Nicole from Tribute Books. For this stop, we will share a brief book summary, author bio and a guest post from author Natalie Wexler. So, grab your coffee, get comfy and enjoy!


Book Info:

ISBN #: 978-0984141296
Page Count: 274
Copyright: December 2011
Publisher: Fuze Publishing

At Barton Friends, a D.C. prep school so elite its parent body includes the President and First Lady - three mothers have thrown themselves into organizing the annual musical revue. Will its Machiavellian intrigue somehow enable them to reconnect with their graduating daughters, who are fast spinning out of control?

By turns hilarious and poignant, The Mother Daughter Show will appeal to anyone who's ever had a daughter - and anyone who's ever been one.


Author's Bio:


Natalie Wexler is the author of The Mother Daughter Show (Fuze Publishing 2011) and an award-winning historical novel, A More Obedient Wife. She is a journalist and essayist whose work has appeared in the Washington Post Magazine, the American Scholar, the Gettysburg Review, and other publications, and she is a reviewer for the Washington Independent Review of Books. She has also worked as a temporary secretary, a newspaper reporter, a Supreme Court law clerk, a legal historian, and (briefly) an actual lawyer. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband.


Guest Post:

How did you make sure to get the voices right of the daughters? How did you develop an accurate tone for their dialogue?

I think the secret to crafting any dialogue is to listen carefully to the way people talk, and then try to hear your characters talking in your head and see if their dialogue rings true. In some cases that's more difficult than others.

Right now, for instance, I'm working on a novel that's set in the early 19th century. I have letters and newspaper articles from the period, but obviously it's impossible for me to listen to anyone from the early 19th century in conversation. Even dialogue in novels from that era sounds artificial to us. Is that because people really spoke that way, or because writers back then didn't try to imitate people's actual speech? Hard to know, but I do my best. Fortunately, there's no one still around from the early 19th century who's going to pop up and tell everyone I got it wrong.

In a way writing dialogue is easier with a contemporary  novel: all I have to do is find out how people really speak is to keep an ear out. Or just listen to myself. But of course, different subgroups of society speak in different ways, and there's still the chance that when you're writing dialogue for a subgroup other than your own you'll get it wrong. And there IS the risk that they'll pop up and tell you that.

To get the daughters' voices right in The Mother Daughter Show, I did have something to go on right in my own backyard, more or less: an actual teenage daughter. And she had friends, many of whom tended to congregate in my house, so I had ample opportunity to eavesdrop.

I wouldn't say I did that deliberately (or at least, not with an eye to putting what I heard in a novel), and of course none of the daughters in the novel is based on any real individual - just as none of the mothers is. But there are certain well known tropes and cadences that are pretty common to 21st-century teenage girls: the tendency to end every sentence as though it's a question, the use of "like" as a filler, the use of adjectives like "totally." I think anyone who pays attention around teenagers can mimic that type of speech pretty easily.

But of course, while I wanted my daughter characters to be believable as contemporary teenagers, I didn't want them to be generic. Nor, even though the book is a satire, did I want them to be parodies. I needed them to come across as genuine individuals. One of them is rebellious, one is (or at least has been) docile and obedient, and one is intensely private. So, within the parameters of believable teen-speak, I had to tailor their voices and dialogue to fit their characters.

Another consideration was the difference between the way teenagers speak to their parents and the way they speak to their friends. While most of the daughters' dialogue in the book is between them and their mothers, there's at least one daughter-to-daughter phone conversation that is overheard, at least in part, by a mother. That mother is pained by the fact that her uncommunicative daughter is such a different person with her friends: talkative and animated and open.

While writing a pretty late draft of the book, I also hit upon the idea of including text messages between the daughters. That device allowed me to capture what is in some ways the quintessential 21st-century teenage voice, with its abbreviations and deliberate misspellings and distinctive capitalization and punctuation (or lack thereof).

I hope I've done a decent job of faithfully reproducing the voices of teenage girls, circa 2009. And I'd like to think that two hundred years from now, if some writer of the future attempts a historical novel set in our period, she'll be able to use The Mother Daughter Show as a guide to what people actually sounded like way back when.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

{Review} The Book of Sylvia by Michael Scott Miller

ISBN #: 978-1477653432
Page Count: 294
Copyright: June 18, 2012
Publisher: CreateSpace


Description:
(Taken from back cover)

Under suspicion of abetting a robbery, London streetwalker Sylvia Smith doesn't know where to turn. Frightened and alone, she arrives on the steps of St. Alban's church, where she meets Father Christopher Fosberry, a priest consumed with self-doubt as he struggles to resurrect his dying church.

Together they set out to recover the stolen money, following a cryptic clue whispered to Sylvia by her client as he was taken into custody. They quickly find themselves drawn toward one another by a mutual sense of despair and a desire to help the other. But Sylvia soon discovers that the more she guides the priest, the deeper she drives a wedge between the man and the church.


Charlene's Review:

When Sylvia's client is arrested for the theft of a large sum of money, he leaves Sylvia with a cryptic message. Away from home, and fresh from the police station, Sylvia is drawn to a church where she meets Father Christopher. She finds sanctuary there as she tries to find the answer to the message. Meanwhile, Father Christopher's church is struggling. He questions his future as a priest, and how he will ever rebuild his church to its former glory. Together, they both learn a little more about themselves in the process.

A novel of self-discovery and faith, The Book of Sylvia is a delightful mystery with a message. Sylvia, even as a prostitute, brings out Father Christopher's best, and Father Christopher provides just enough faith in Sylvia for her to move forward. Deftly written, it flows quickly toward a surprising finish. The flawed, but lovable characters, along with the true-to-life struggles they face in finding their place in the world, make this is beautiful story that refreshes and restores hope in the reader.


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

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

{Review} Angel by Sebastian Michael

ISBN #: 978-1409229009
Page Count: 308
Copyright: March 17, 2012
Publisher: Lulu.com


Description:
(Taken from jacket cover)

Angel is the story of Damion, a boy who is so beautiful that everybody falls in love with him. This, his greatest advantage in life, gradually turns into his heaviest burden and so as he reaches adulthood, Damion, in an act half wanton, half heroic, destroys what for most people - but not for him - has come to define his essence. - A classic tale of a young man in search of his destiny.


Charlene's Review:

From the first days of his birth, Damion has an unimaginable beauty; such is his beauty that all who behold him are mesmerized at first sight, often likening him to an angel. A reserved young man, he accepts this without question, but is occasionally drawn to people in impulsive sexual encounters.

As he longs to be seen beyond his beauty, he makes a split decision that will change everything about him, and how others perceive him.

This is a haunting story. Written in a polished, formal manner with an almost lilting prose, the words are nearly as beautiful as the character of Damion. The characters are explained in detail and with great care, especially in how they relate to Damion and his "gift." As the story unfolds we see how having been blessed with this angelic appearance, Damion struggles with true meaning. After a horrific accident leaves him disfigured, he begins to search for his true identity, through his "book of empty pages."

An eye-opening look at society's obsession with pretty people, and how, possibly, we are doing them a huge disservice. A tragic novel, resonating with emotion, Angel may very well change how you choose to view others.


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

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

{Paperback Release-Day Giveaway} Anne of Hollywood by Carol Wolper

ISBN #: 978-1451657227
Page Count: 338
Copyright: July 17, 2012 (Paperback)
Publisher: Gallery Books

Book Summary:

Skirts may be shorter, and messages sent by iPhone, but passion, intrigue, and a lust for power don't change. Now in paperback, national bestselling author Carol Wolper spins a mesmerizing tale of a twenty-first century Anne Boleyn in Anne of Hollywood.

Wily, intelligent, and seductive, with a dark beauty that stands out among the curvy California beach blondes, Anne attracts the attention of Henry Tudor, the handsome corporate mogul who reigns in Hollywood. Every starlet, socialite, and shark wants a piece of Henry, but he only wants Anne. The question is: can she keep him?

Welcome to a privileged world where hidden motives abound, everyone has something to sell, and safe havens don't exist. With her older sister Mary as an example of what not to do when dating a royal, Anne sets out to win her beloved Henry and secure her place on this high-stakes playing field. Success will mean contending with back stabbing "friends," Henry's furious ex-wife, and the machinations of her own ambitious family. Getting married and staying married to a man who has more options than most and less guilt than is good for either of them will require all of Anne's considerable skills. Will they be enough?

Determined to do anything to hold on to the man - and the lifestyle - she adores, Anne gambles her future, knowing full well that sticking your neck out in Hollywood means risking far more than a broken heart. With Henry's closest confidante scheming against her, and another beautiful contender waiting in the wings, she is fighting for survival. Can Anne muster the charm, smarts and wit to pull off her very own Hollywood ending?


Giveaway Info:

The giveaway is now open and will remain open until Friday, July 20th. This giveaway is open internationally - HOWEVER ... there will only be one international winner and up to three U.S. winners.

Enter your info into the form below for your chance to win. Good luck!

{Review} The Next President by Robert Livingstone

ISBN #: 978-0615645988
Page Count: 138
Copyright: May 22, 2012
Publisher: Moore House


Description:
(Taken from back cover)

Will America wake up to a form of government it has never known?

Catherine Cortez, a frustrated journalist, needs one big story before marriage to a U.S. Senator effectively ends her career. She discovers that protests in Cuba, now the "new democracy," signal an impending revolution. She also uncovers evidence that the man poised to become the next President has a hidden agenda to take America further right than it's ever been before: fascism. She makes it her mission to expose him.


Charlene's Review:

Quoted from Mr. Livingstone's author page on Amazon.com: Fascism. The simple definition: collusion between government and industry to create economic stability. In contemporary terms, think bailouts, General Motors. Well intentioned. Perhaps necessary. But dangerous.

The Next President is a tightly spun web of deception. When Catherine takes a job interviewing the president of Cuba, she is suddenly in the middle of a revolution. Her ex-lover, Carlos Perez, is leading an uprising among Cuba's people to overthrow the power of Cuban President, Eduardo Rodriguez, and to stop the U.S. supply of arms. In the thick of it all is U.S. Senator Francis Ellsworth, who supports President Rodriguez, and the World Alliance. Senator Ellsworth is also believed to be the up and coming U.S. President. As Catherine gets closer to the truth, tensions rise, and she finds herself in the fight for her life.

Confused yet? Me, too. Although the premise of the story is readily understood, the mass of characters involved in a scant 132 pages, and perhaps, my own ignorance regarding politics, kept me from getting lost in the story. There is definitely the element of suspense. There is a side story of love, and parental abandonment. There is also organized crime, and a hint of possible things to come for this world. All in all, an eye-opening read, but it left me a bit lost in places. I'd have to give it 4 out of 5 stars.


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

Monday, July 16, 2012

{Review} Somewhere Over the Rainbow, I've Lost My Damn Mind: A Manic's Mood Chart by Derek Thompson

ISBN #: 978-1467935234
Page Count: 228
Copyright: January 27, 2012
Publisher: CreateSpace


Description:
(Taken from Amazon)

I figure that if I have to endure the worst parts of bipolar disorder, like psychosis, I get to laugh as much as possible along the way. Somewhere Over the Rainbow, I've Lost My Damn Mind: A Manic's Mood Chart is the story of one Millennial's bipolar life, with moments ranging from the ridiculous to the terrifying to the hilarious. Blending pop culture references and cyberspeak with psychiatric terms, it combines the funny, conversational tone of Sh*t My Dad Says with a nonlinear narrative structure similar to that of Manic.

The book began as a blog: if you had a delusional relationship with Britney Spears, wouldn't you brag about it to the entire world? To create the book, I organized the blog entries like a mood chart, a therapeutic tool which assigns colors to states to mind. The entries are divided into three sections, Depressed, Normal and Elevated, and cover the past three years: my psych ward getaways, my vision of fighting alongside Jesus at Armageddon, my attempts to find a woman who accepts that I sometimes lose my mind. Therapy "sessions" with a fictional psychiatrist provide my present-day reflections on each entry. (I had to create my ideal shrink because I tend to fight with the real ones.)


Charlene's Review:

Have to say, this is not what I expected. What a shamelessly, often juvenile but immensely entertaining book on a "taboo" subject. Mr. Thompson (I almost scoff at calling him Mr. because I feel like I know him too well, now) opens his soul to show us the sensitivities and hardship of living with this oft-understood mood disorder. (I didn't say "disease," Derek. Lesson learned.)

While there were the occasional rambling thoughts, of which I fortunately (unfortunately?) could follow, this is an amazing book that anyone affected by Bipolar Manic Depression should read.

In attempting to give the reader insight into mania:

"It seems to me that being in a manic episode and then trying to describe this to someone who hasn't had one would compare to trying to describe the sunset to someone who can't see it; it's just something you need to experience."

Or likening the highs and lows of Bipolar Manic Depression to a roller coaster ride, gone wrong:

"We are sorry to inform the riders that the brakes on this ride have malfunctioned and there is unfortunately no way for us to control the roller coaster. Good luck, and we'll be pulling for you."

This is not your everyday memoir about a struggle with "illness" but a glimpse inside an actual life/death struggle for "normalcy." Filled with sarcastic, laugh-out-loud humor, and down-to-the-bone openness, Mr. Thompson has written an eloquent manual for living with Bipolar Mood Disorder. He is a testament to "survivor" and I wish him luck in his future, and hopefully, on his next book. The BMD world needs this kind of dialogue.


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

Sunday, July 15, 2012

{Review} Ring of Fire by Bill Cokas

ISBN #: 978-1470012557
Page Count: 290
Copyright: April 15, 2012
Publisher: CreateSpace


Description:
(Taken from back cover)

Seeking refuge from a corporate scandal, Wally Gibbs trades his corner office in Chicago for a tweed jacket with elbow patches in a quaint college town. He soon realizes he wasn't meant to teach marketing; he was meant to reinvent it. And the timing is right. To Wally's perverse delight, the economy has brought consumers everywhere to their knees. With thrift back in vogue and extreme couponing shows all the rage, he sees the desire to save mutating into a willingness to reveal more. In Wally's own words, "people are do desperate to lop thirty cents off a cantaloupe, they'd give a urine sample at the checkout." During a routine colonoscopy, he envisions a new hyper-efficient marketing vehicle, which he labels "Project Argus."

As Wally ensnares his unsuspecting students in the beta test, Project Argus catches the attention of eight-fingered frustrated campus policeman Nick Pappas. Sensing a connection to an unsolved student death, Nick becomes obsessed with exposing the scheme, even "deputizing" student cartoonist Zak Dawson to do the digging he can't. The pair follows Wally to a tiny Greek island, where he acquires a rare exotic gem that he smuggles back home and turns over to a local jeweler. Within a few days, the hottest-selling graduation ring in the school's history is quietly collecting data - and claiming lives.

Can Nick and Zak gather enough evidence to shut down Project Argus before too many students end up paying the price for living their lives on camera?

Ring of Fire is a quirky, sardonic suspense full of wry social satire, combining Carl Hiaasen-esque characters, a contemporary twisted plot and a setting that's equal parts academia and Aegean Sea.


Charlene's Review:

Wally Gibbs, a marketing professor by default, is having a colonoscopy when he dreams up a covert way to monitor the spending habits of America. After a mysterious death on campus, Nick Pappas, campus cop, starts to investigate Wally, with a little help from one of Wally's students, Zak Dawson. From the local jeweler to the isle of Greece, Pappas and Dawson stalk Wally Gibbs, looking for the connection to the death and the sudden popularity of the school's class ring. Unfortunately, more people are dying, and time is running out.

A crime novel with a humorous angle, Ring of Fire is not your everyday thriller. As disgusting and unethical as Wally Gibbs is, in contrast, we have Nick Pappas as the down-on-your-luck hero, and Zak Dawson as the geeky but lovable student hoping to score a date. An original storyline, combined with the "Big Brother" concept makes this a unique and interesting read that is, perhaps, not that hard to imagine. I rooted for underdog Pappas and fell in love with Gibb's dwarf-collecting wife. This is some good stuff here. After reading this and Battle Axe I believe we have a winning new writer that I look forward to reviewing again.


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

Saturday, July 14, 2012

{Review} Forever - and Other Stories by Christopher Geoffrey McPherson

ASIN #: B007ZDBJPU
File Size: 232 KB
Page Count: 109


Book Summary:
(Taken from Goodreads)

A collection of eleven short stories -- many based on actual events. Includes:

"The Little Books That Ran Away" a story for children about what happens to books that are not appreciated

"A Walk in the Evening Fog" about a man blinded in an automobile accident many years before

"An Untitled Life" about a secret family history a grandmother reveals to her grandson

"Reflections in a Broken Mirror" which takes place in the last second of the life of a man who has just cut open a vein in his arm

"The Thickness of Blood" about a young man who has to make a painful decision

"Forever" a story of two souls that continue meeting in one life after another

(Several stories include adult content.)


Kathy's Review:

It's hard to classify this group of short stories as they are all so different, although the author uses some of the names of the characters in multiple stories (e.g. Taylor, Robert, Jeff). Many of them center around a common theme of a lost or deceased lover, and many involve gay couples. Some are light-hearted, some are very dark, violent and sexually charged.

There's no doubt that the author is a skilled writer. His descriptive words are almost poetic. In most of the stories, he purposely disorients you so you're unclear as to what is going on. Then, slowly, he drops clues here and there. Some are easy to figure out; others will keep you guessing until the very end. Some are like a slap in the face but others left me wanting more of a resolution. Because these stories are short, he quickly establishes the characters and does a great job of drawing in the reader.

"Forever" is the longest of these short stories and explores the idea of past lives - are we destined to repeat the same love story over and over? This was probably one of my favorites of this collection. "Le Rendez-vous dans le Parc" hearkens a Cinderella-type story, except in this one, the Prince is a no-show at midnight. Another one I enjoyed was "...for her Convenience" where a woman sees her lover with "a blond" at her party, and catches them kissing.

Not sure if this was just in the .mobi version I downloaded, or in all versions, but each story alternated between paragraphs of bold type and non-bold type. It didn't seem to serve a purpose and was, for the most part, distracting. Might just be a publishing error or something.

This is an intriguing collection of stories that I read through in an afternoon. I'd recommend this for readers who appreciate the artistry that goes into composing the written word, although the subject matter is a little bit heavy-handed at times.


*A Smashwords coupon for a free download was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, July 13, 2012

{Review} Battle Axe by Bill Cokas

ISBN #: 978-1470087623
Page Count: 258
Copyright: March 2, 2012
Publisher: CreateSpace


Description:
(Taken from back cover)

When his father plays the sax, he blows crowds away. But when Dorsey Duquesne picks up a guitar, he simply blows. Though he's a wealthy software entrepreneur, music just isn't in his blood -- and neither is his father's DNA. When his mother Cherry reveals (at his father's funeral, of all places) he was adopted at birth, Dorsey's tin ear suddenly makes sense. But it also leaves the 40-year-old questioning his identity. Emotionally adrift, he hires a one-eyed strip-mall detective, hoping the missing pieces will provide the peace he's been missing. Meanwhile Cherry, along with Dorsey's wife and best friend, are colluding to keep him from finding the long-buried truth about his "adoption."

A yellowed, anonymous letter leads the vulnerable Dorsey to a dusty vineyard in the Black Forest -- and straight to a jitterbugging, strudel-baking redhead named Mitzi, who claims to be his birth mother. Employing a well-rehearsed charm, she slowly wins him over -- and away from his family. While in Germany, and with the help of the axe-wielding village night watchman, Dorsey does some long-overdue growing up. But will his eyes open in time to see his new "mom" has a darker agenda? And will he realize the true definition of family before it's too late?

Battle Axe is an offbeat, suspenseful novel that places quirky, flawed characters in unwelcome situations. Adopted or "normal," readers will find something to relate to and someone to root for.


Charlene's Review:

When 40 year old Dorsey Duquesne finds out his is adopted, he is desperate to find his birth mother. Left reeling with the sudden news, he soon finds himself deep in a mess of secrets and lies, and the farther he pushes, the farther from the truth he gets. As he alienates himself from his family and friends, they join together to uncover the deception of his newly-found "mother."

This is a story that carries you away, quickly. The first chapter introduces us to all the major characters, covers two deaths in two separate continents that are ultimately related, and sets the scene for a host of happenings that leave you hanging on every word. Add in a few interesting character traits, unseemly circumstances, and a wonderful sense of humor, and you have a book that is totally absorbing. The depth of pain Dorsey experiences when questioning his identity, coupled with the pain of the adopted mother, Cherry, when she must let him go to find his way, create a powerful testimony to the realities of adoption. Ultimately though, Dorsey finds out that the true making of family isn't always dependent on DNA.

I love Mr. Cokas' writing style. Humorous, sensitive to emotion, and full of suspense; I couldn't read it fast enough. I found the characters to be charming and a little crazy, but totally relatable. The action flows quickly, and while the ending was fairly predictable, there are enough surprises to make this a memorable story.


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

Thursday, July 12, 2012

{Review} School Daze by Dr. Sharon A. Mitchell

ASIN #: B0085HN9HQ
File Size: 345 KB
Page Count: 198
Copyright: April 29, 2012
Publisher: ASD Publishing, 2nd Edition


Book Summary:
(Taken from Goodreads)

After suddenly receiving custody of his five year old son, Ben must learn how to be a father to a child with autism. Ben's sixty hour a week work schedule goes out the window. Teacher Melanie Nicols sees Ben as a dead beat dad, but grudgingly comes to admire how he hangs in, determined to learn for his son's sake. Her admiration grows to more as father and son come to rely on her.


Kathy's Review:

While the author is obviously knowledgeable about autism and the challenges a parent faces with an autistic child, this book read more to me like an exaggerated case study than a work of fiction. Ben, whose life is turned upside down when his ex delivers his five-year-old son to his doorstep, bumbles through one scenario after another like a bull through a china shop. It reminded me of a film strip from driver's ed or something similar where the scenarios are so ridiculous you almost have to laugh. This is probably a good teaching manual and I'm sure parents of autistic children could relate to the challenges Ben faces throughout with Kyle, but it seemed to me that most of Ben's mistakes were errors in common sense.

The romantic side-plot between Ben and Melanie, Kyle's teacher, is sweet. Though most of the book is told in third person but most follows Ben's point of view, occasionally Mel slips in there. She misjudges Ben at first because of how ignorant he is when it comes to parenting in general, and parenting an autistic child in particular. As he increasingly leans on her for help with Kyle, they get to know each other better.

I'd recommend this book to parents who are just learning about autism for the first time. It's a lighthearted, easy read that will help you understand the common mistakes a parent might make with an autistic child. Parents will benefit from references to methods of calming a child, different toys and gadgets used for autistic children, and ways to adapt a child to a routine. There are even links in the back of the book to sites where you can find out more information.


*A Smashwords coupon was provided by the author for a free download of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

{Review} Time Donors Wanted by Russell Scott

ISBN #: 978-0615556901
Page Count: 231
Copyright: September 5, 2011
Publisher: IsoLibris Publishing


Book Overview:
(Taken from back cover)

If you could have a one time affair with someone you've never seen before and would never see again and there was no way that anyone could ever find out ... would you?

Want to see what can happen if you answer yes?

Then read Time Donors Wanted.


Mandy's Review:

Jarvis Sloan is a psychiatrist who is the brainchild behind the online self-help website, LifeSolutions Seminars. He created the site to reach more troubled individuals. His thought was that most people would feel comfortable seeking help from the comfort of their own home rather than sit face-to-face with a shrink. His colleagues, though, laughed him out of the room when he tried to present this idea to them.

Seeking solace from the alcohol provided by the hotel's bar, he finds two of his friends there and they begin discussing relationships. One of his friends, Tanya, suggests creating a way for unhappy partners to secretly have clandestine meetings for an afternoon under assumed names and then return home to their lives. Tanya recommends Jarvis hire Brooke to set up the secure server and program.

All the people have to do is enter the LifeSolutions Seminars website, pay a fee to be able to access any seminar they choose, and then click on the TimeDonors link. Brooke set up the TimeDonors site to permanently delete any user names and passwords created after a 72-hour window. This ensures the people's privacy when chatting about their future rendezvous.

At first, I thought this book would just be about one secret meeting after another. I began to wonder if the story was going anywhere or if I would just be reading about people's sex lives. It wasn't too long after I began wondering this that the book took a turn and became a whole lot more interesting.

Any time you decide to meet someone off of the internet, you're going to run the risk of encountering a crazy person. This time, though, the crazy person was someone one of the main characters knew. She just didn't realize how well she knew that individual.

Time Donors Wanted starts off a bit slow, but picks up speed fairly quickly. Once it kicks in, it takes you on a ride full of twists and turns that'll leave you slightly disoriented. My only issue with the book is that I missed part of the story ... literally. Pages 151 and 152 WERE EXACTLY THE SAME!!! Then page 153 starts in the middle of a sentence that doesn't go with the two pages before it! If there was an editor, they should've caught this mistake. Other than that, though, this book uniquely tells an engaging murder/mystery that I would recommend to all you mystery-lovers out there.
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