Tuesday, January 29, 2013

{Review} The World as We Know It by Joseph Monninger

ISBN #: 978-1451606348
Page Count: 320
Copyright: October 11, 2011
Publisher: Gallery Books

Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

A lifetime of friendship begins the day brothers Ed and Allard save Sarah from drowning in an icy river near their rural New Hampshire home. Though their paths diverge through the years, the connection between the three endures until a heartbreaking tragedy in the remote mountains of Wyoming forces Sarah and Allard to confront the unthinkable. In their grief, they find themselves on separate journeys that test the enduring bonds of their relationship and time's unremitting power to heal.

Poignant and transformative, The World as We Know It is subtle and heartrending - a love story of friendship, nature, and the surprising twists that can alter our destinies forever.

Mandy's Review:

Do you recall sitting in your high school English class and your teacher telling you that you would be reading a classic. Perhaps it was A Tale of Two Cities. Maybe it was The Giver or The Scarlet Letter. Do you recall how you felt while reading a story that was written so long ago, the pages yellowed with age? I have no doubt that The World as We Know It will be a classic that is read by English students years from now. The flow of the story and the way it read was reminiscent of those classics I read during high school.

Sarah and Allard's love story is a great piece of literary fiction. There are life lessons and situations throughout this novel that are open for deeper interpretation. The Wyoming tragedy lends a more serious, but necessary note, to this work. What would an unforgettable piece of literature be without a tragedy to tear the lovers apart?

I really don't know what to say. I'm just stunned and still in awe of how substantial this story is. This is one book that isn't going anywhere. When the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list is revamped, I could pretty much guarantee you that this book will be on that list.

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

Monday, January 28, 2013

{Review} Second Chance Grill by Christine Nolfi

ISBN #: 978-1478342229
Page Count: 318
Copyright: October 24, 2012
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Dr. Mary Chance needs a sabbatical from medicine to grieve the loss of her closest friend. But when she inherits a struggling restaurant in Liberty, Ohio she isn't prepared for Blossom Perini. Mary can't resist falling for the precocious preteen - or the girl's father. The bond they forge will transform all their lives and set in motion an outpouring of love that spreads across America.

Mandy's Review:

Everyone deserves a second (and sometimes a third, fourth, and so on) chance. It doesn't matter what people have done or what situation they're in, if they are trying to do better another chance should be given to them. Stop living in the past and look towards the future.

Mary deserves a second chance with her medical career that helps her to feel fulfilled while not disappointing anyone. Her best friend, another doctor, was killed recently by a drunk driver. The two friends had intended on taking over a free clinic as a way to give back to the community, but now that her friend was dead Mary needed to get away. With her aunt retiring, Mary acquires the Liberty's only restaurant. She renames the place, revamps the menu, and opens up shop ... to a horrendous, disastrous first day.

Anthony deserves a second chance at true love. He had never been in love even though he had been married before. A girl in high school, not even his "girlfriend," was waiting on his bed for him one day after school ... naked. Being a teenage boy with raging hormones, he did what any male in his situation would do ... he had sex with her. That one time was enough to get her pregnant and, being the honorable guy that he was, Anthony married her shortly after graduation. Two years later, she divorces Anthony leaving him in Liberty with their child.

Blossom deserves a second chance at having a mother and at life. Growing up as a single child with a single parent, Blossom is somewhat spoiled. Anthony's done the best he could during her childhood years, but now that Blossom is a preteen she needs a mother. When Blossom sets eyes on Mary, she determines to have Mary in that role. While pushing Anthony and Mary together every chance she can, Blossom's hiding the fact that she's not feeling well. She's in remission from leukemia and doesn't want to worry her father about her health. About a month before the long-awaited two-year remission mark, Blossom takes a serious turn for the worse: her leukemia has come back with a vengeance. Her only possible chance at survival is a bone marrow transplant, which costs a ton of money her family cannot afford.

Second Chance Grill is a wonderfully realistic story that I could read over and over again. It made me laugh and cry. Even though Liberty isn't a real city, I could easily picture this happening in any small town across America. This is a town that I want to live in with people I would love to have as friends. Christine Nolfi has a wonderful thing going on with the Liberty series and I cannot wait to see who we'll learn more about next.

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

{Ebook Cover Reveal} Unbeautifully Loved (Unbeautiful Life #1) by Emma Grayson



On the run from her dark and painful past, Lexie Todd is finally forced by her best friend Mollie into settling into a new place for the first time in months. Having been hurt in more ways than one in the past, the last thing Lexie is expecting or wanting is to meet someone as persistent and annoying but incredibly gorgeous as Lukas Gunn.

When an incident leaves Lexie banged up and rattled, Lukas knows there's more to her than meets the eye as something is haunting her to the core making him nothing but determined to make her his and protect her from whatever it is that casts the dark painful shadow behind her eyes.

But when her past shows up and pulls Lexie back into the nightmare she already once escaped while leaving her closest loved ones in danger, it's up to Lukas to save her from her darkest nightmare relived.

Will Lukas be able to save Lexie? Or will Lexie succumb only having known what it's like to be Unbeautifully Loved?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

{Review} The Fate of Mercy Alban by Wendy Webb

ISBN #: 978-1401341930
Page Count: 352
Copyright: February 5, 2013
Publisher: Hyperion

Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

Grace Alban has spent more than twenty years avoiding her childhood home, the stately mansion situated on the beautiful shores of Lake Superior. Alban House is enchanting, certainly; it is also plagued with a history of tragedy and the rumor of a curse that no one can quite laugh away. So when newly divorced Grace returns with her moody teenage daughter to attend to her mother's estate, she is shocked but not surprised to learn that her mother died under eerie circumstances - silenced the very day she planned to give a tell-all interview about the family. Soon, Grace finds herself faced with more unsettling discoveries, including a long-lost aunt and a possible intruder watching through the walls.

Now Grace must uncover the truth about the Alban curse - and the witch at its heart - before she becomes its next victim ...

Mandy's Review:

As soon as I saw the cover on this book, I just knew I had to read this book. When I received the paperback, I fell even more in love with the cover. The photo above does not do this cover art justice. And, you can't see it in the photo, but there's a girl in white in the window at the top of the house. I'll admit it: I totally judged this book by its cover before even reading the summary. The summary just confirmed that I had to have it.

The Fate of Mercy Alban is an interesting title. Not only does it tell us that something happened to a lady named Mercy Alban, but while reading this story you realize that Fate was Mercy's twin sister. I pretty much figured out what happened to Mercy and Fate when they were younger, but I didn't know the how of it. I commend the author for skillfully keeping me on my toes. I totally lost myself in this book, as I hoped I would when I received the review request.

There's a comment made, in a review blurb on the back cover, stating that Stephen King could be the (literary) father of Wendy Webb. I don't think she's as twisted, or anywhere near as vulgar, as Stephen King (I adore your work, Mr. King!!!), but I would agree with Dean Koontz being Wendy's (literary) father. She has Mr. Koontz's milder, otherworldly-esque writing style thrown in with a dash of realism.

There were many little twists and surprises in this novel ... like the Epilogue ... Way to make me want more, Wendy!!! I am officially begging you to write a sequel to this novel. Whoever her literary father is, I have now become a huge fan of Wendy Webb. Her books will be sitting alongside Stephen King's and Dean Koontz's on my bookshelves, as they should be on yours as well.

*A paperback ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

{Review} The Littlest Angel by Heidi Chandler

ISBN #: 978-1479350421
Page Count: 180
Copyright: September 27, 2012
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

(Taken from back cover)

Two weeks before her due date, my unborn daughter unexpectedly died. After the shock wore off, I found myself in the depths of depression, questioning my worth as a mother, wife, and human being. This deeply personal story of love, loss, and redemption follows my quest to find normal after being blindsided by death, and proves that it is possible to live, love, and smile again.

Charlene's Review:

The Littlest Angel is an emotionally raw testament of the love of a mother and the daughter she never had a chance to know. Ms. Chandler takes us through the sweetest and most horrifying moments of her life with honesty and deep insight. Unashamedly angry and bitter over the loss of her beloved Avery, this may very well be the most truthful look at stillbirth I have ever witnessed. Given platitudes from well-meaning friends and family, like "she's in a better place" and "this was God's plan," Ms. Chandler, while understanding their intention, reacts quite naturally with hurtful thoughts, which she painfully keeps to herself. As she struggles to recover in what others see as a "healthy" way, she hurdles further into a depression that leaves her afraid to leave the house, and clutching her daughter's urn as she watches TV.

This is a powerful book that left me equally sad and hopeful. While a majority of the story focuses on learning to cope with her loss, the ending has a redeeming quality that treasures the future, as well as the past. This will speak profoundly to anyone who has suffered the loss of a child, as well as anyone who doesn't know how to support a grieving parent. In writing her story, Ms. Chandler has given Avery the chance to live on. A beautiful memoir.

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

Saturday, January 26, 2013

{Blog Tour} Review/Giveaway: The Woman from Paris by Santa Montefiore

ISBN #: 978-1451676686
Page Count: 400
Copyright: February 5, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Book Summary:

When Lord Frampton dies in a skiing accident, a beautiful young woman named Phaedra appears at his funeral, claiming to be the Lord's illegitimate daughter. In his will, Lord Frampton has left her the priceless Frampton suite of sapphires, confirming her claim and outraging his three adult sons and widow, Antoinette. Eventually, however, Phaedra's sweet nature thaws the frosty relationships. She becomes the daughter that Antoinette never had and a wise and compassionate granddaughter to the formidable Dowager Lady Frampton. But an undeniable attraction grows between Phaedra and Frampton's eldest son, David. It seems an impossible love - blocked by the fury of one family member determined to expose Phaedra as a fraud.

Featuring the enchanting characters, scenery, and emotional complexity her fans adore, The Woman from Paris is a sweeping, sophisticated romance about family, forgiveness, and the surprising strength of love.

About the Author:

Santa Montefiore is the internationally bestselling author of several novels, including The French Gardener and The Last Voyage of the Valentina. She lives in London with her husband, historian Simon Sebag-Montefiore, and their two children.

Kathy's Review:

Chick lit isn't really my thing. I'll read it on occasion, but it's not the sort of thing I would seek out on my own. This is chick lit of the highest order. I kind of picture the Framptons as a modern-day Downton Abbey. Super rich, live in a huge manor, have all the money and toys and live the good life. It's a peek into a luxurious lifestyle most of us will never see. The writing is very rich and descriptive, so I commend the author for that. She paints a vivid picture of the Frampton family and all their quirks.

There is a large cast of characters to sort through, and at first, I had a hard time sorting out who was who. Here's a brief rundown of the Framptons:

Lord George Frampton - deceased. The head of the family.
Antoinette - Lord George Frampton's wife
Margaret - George's mother
Rosamunde - Antoinette's sister

Tom            The three sons of George and Antoinette

Roberta - Joshua's wife

Phaedra - Supposed daughter of George, unknown to all until Lord George Frampton's funeral

Got that? OK.

So, I found a few things unsettling right from the beginning. First: how come no one (except Roberta and Margaret) freaked out about this complete bomb dropping about George's illegitimate daughter? This is supposed to be a wealthy, highfalutin family, and it seems to me that this would be a pretty big scandal for a family such as this. Instead, they embrace Phaedra as one of their own, right away.

Second: I found it realllllly disturbing every time there was mention of an attraction between David and Phaedra. I was like, are you REALLY going to go there? They're related!

Additionally, Antoinette, newly-widowed, wastes no time in cozying up to the local doctor and letting her hair down in her new life as a widow. Not sure how realistic this is, considering her husband JUST DIED, suddenly, shockingly. I know I probably wouldn't leave my house, or even get out of my pj's, if faced with the same situation. Then again, I guess people handle grief in different ways ...

I don't know. Maybe reading a book of this type requires the reader to suspend disbelief. Me and my disbelief are pretty tightly bonded, so it's hard for me to let go.

The ending - which I won't spoil - comes as a huge surprise, although hints are dropped liberally along the way. Something with Phaedra's story doesn't add up ...

Even though I had some nits to pick, don't get me wrong - this is good escapism reading. Bring it with you on your next vacation, or just to get you through the winter doldrums.

Giveaway/Buy Links/Sites:

Friday, January 25, 2013

{Review} The Devil's Dream by Roy Segal

ASIN #: B008C67NU4
File Size: 301 KB
Page Count: 180

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

A female New York City cop suspects her rich Wall Street boyfriend is murdering his clients. Told from the point of view of a psychic, who dreams of these murders before they take place.

Mandy's Review:

The summary states that the book is told from the psychic's POV, which tells me it should be told in first person. The book was actually told in third person. The entire book was not told from the psychic's POV. Every single character that was introduced, and there were a lot of them, told part of the story from their perspective. And since we're on the subject of how many characters there were, let me just say that there were too many characters introduced. If they were an essential part of the story then I would understand, but some characters came and went so quickly it made me wonder why they were even introduced at all. The information the fleeting characters revealed could have been told as a result of a police investigation, had the author put a little effort into actually strengthening the plot. Introducing the characters for a few paragraphs to let the reader know why something happened just seemed to me to be lazy writing.

Is there such a thing as too many chapters?

Even though this book was only around 180 pages in length, there were over 100 "chapters" in this book. And I say "chapters" with quotation marks because they weren't really chapters. Most "chapters" in this book were only a few paragraphs. I will say, though, that having such short chapters facilitated reading this book quickly. I felt as if I was really gobbling up some pages watching the "chapters" go by so fast.

Unfortunately, I did not care for this book at all. It seems more of a first draft than the finished product.

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

{Review} The Yoga Club by Cooper Lawrence

ISBN #: 978-1439187272
Page Count: 324
Copyright: December 20, 2011
Publisher: Gallery Books

Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

Chatting it up with bendy WASPs is the last thing on Coco Guthrie's mind during her 8:30 a.m. yoga class. Having made her fortune as the world-renowned inventor of Butt-B-Gone derriere cream, Coco still doesn't feel like she belongs among the upper class - until she attends the swankiest Halloween soiree in Greenwich, Connecticut, where three of her fellow morning yogis shared her brilliant idea to appear as Sarah Palin.

Soon it's clear that a love of stretching isn't all this accidental sorority - which includes a single mom with echolalia, an entertainment reporter who charms the pants off handsome stars, and a drama-prone producer with a taste for drag - have in common.

When the four mischievous Sarahs wander away from the party to sneak a peek at the mayor's neighboring estate, they are stunned to find him adorned in leather and latex, and rolling up a woman's body in a Persian rug. To make matters worse, someone has spotted the spying Palins. Someone who threatens to expose their torrid affairs in business and the bedroom. Now the unlikely foursome must use all their wits and wiles to get to the bottom of the kinky crime. But will their budding friendship be strong enough to protect their deepest secrets?

Mandy's Review:

Before I delve too deeply into this review, I'll begin by saying that this is a mystery you can read while sitting in a cozy chair on a late afternoon while drinking tea. Even though there's a murder in the book, it's not a thrill-riding roller-coaster adventure through Crazy Town. It's more about the bonds of friendship and how women tend to let friendships fade over time (yes, this book is geared towards the females).

I have some issues with this book so be aware that there may be some spoilers.

The mayor of Greenwich is into BDSM. Of course this is hush-hush because he doesn't want his constituents or voters to know his dirty little secret. To hide it, he has a building towards the back of his property (which remains padlocked) that is decked out with all the freaky stuff for a good time. He also hires dominatrixes from out-of-town for his private parties. Here's where one of my problems comes in ... He has a locked building out back for his sexual adventures. Yet the four Palins look into the back door of his home and see him partially decked out in BDSM gear rolling up the dominatrix in a rug. My issue is that if he didn't want people to know about his sexual preferences, why would he even allow the dominatrix into his home? Why not take her straight to the locked building? If she did come into his home first, why have the leather outfits in his home where his wife could find them? It just doesn't make sense to me.

Then, the summary above states that there's a "drama-prone producer with a taste for drag." Not so. The drama-prone producer, CJ, states in the book that he's never done drag:

"I'm one of the few gays you'll meet who never did drag, and I know nothing about makeup. I just know what looks good. I'm good with men's fashion, but that's where I draw the line." (Pg. 207, Lines 11-14)

CJ is one of the funnier characters in the book. One particular passage I enjoyed was:

"Don't panic, but if I act a little weird it's because I may have taken my Prozac twice tonight. I'm gonna be eighty milligrams of fun," he declared. (Pg. 199, Lines 25-27)

Bailey is the entertainment reporter mentioned in the summary. Apparently this girl is a whore from the word 'go.' She's had sex with just about everyone in the business, from Matt Damon to Ryan Reynolds to John Mayer. I tired quickly of her name-dropping, know-it-all attitude.

Olivia, the single mom, is a hopeless romantic who's in love with love (you know the type, I'm sure). She wants to believe the best in everyone and often finds it hard to stick up for herself or make her own decisions. So, in the end, when she just all of a sudden gets angry and yells at the mayor making him cower and confess ... it wasn't believable.

I enjoyed the friendship part of this book, but not the murder-mystery part. The murder is mentioned in the beginning to tie the four people together and give them a reason to be a part of each other's lives. Throughout the remainder of the book, until the very end, the murder is used as a background story while focusing on each of the four individuals and their emotions and personal life. The sudden confession at the end felt like it was thrown in because the writer was almost done with the story and figured it was time to tie up that loose end. It just didn't flow or feel like a natural progression of the story.

I would only recommend this book if you want an easy read about four unlikely people becoming friends. Don't read it for the murder aspect.

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

Thursday, January 24, 2013

{Review} Paper Dreams by Phyllis J. Burton

ISBN #: 978-1848767898
Page Count: 340
Copyright: December 1, 2011
Publisher: Troubador Publishing Ltd.

Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

Take a recipe for disaster ... Start with an illicit love affair in 1952, add a painful parting and three deaths in 1953.

Leave to settle until 2009. Then add a crumbling mansion (Epton Hall), which harbours a scandalous secret ... Gradually combine young librarian Katie Nicholson - an incurable romantic trying to get over a failed love affair. Sprinkle a few daydreams, hundreds of books and stir until well mixed.

Carefully blend in a friendly housekeeper, some memorabilia and many books, with Katie's weekend away, new boyfriend and a prophetic dream. Add the secret arrival of sinister nephew Harold Hapsworth-Cole, the only known heir to the estate, and throw in the evidence discovered by Katie in the attic, that another heir exists in Canada. Combine fear, violence, and theft of that evidence with Katie's imprisonment in the attic, Harold's growing mental instability and stir ... malevolently.

The resultant mixture should be an explosion of love, financial expectations, inheritance, terror, greed and attempted murder. Then ... ENJOY.

Mandy's Review:

Oy ... Where to begin ... Well, let's start with the positives, shall we?

The story was told in third person, which I enjoyed because I was able to get to know all of the characters that were introduced. Even though there were quite a few characters in the novel, none of them really felt unnecessary. I've found that when there are many characters the story can feel disjointed when it goes from one scene to the next. Ms. Burton segued between characters and/or situations flawlessly. I highly commend her for that.

Unfortunately, for as many good points as this novel had there were just as many bad.

To start, let me ask a question. Why does the damsel in distress have to be emotionally wrought? It irritates me to no end to see a female character so weak-willed. There's nothing wrong with having a damsel in distress who has a little bit of gumption to her ... is there?

While the story flowed quite well, there were many instances that aggravated me. Why? Because it almost seemed like the author wrote the book and then didn't proofread for consistency or believability. Want some examples? My pleasure ...

Example 1: Katie has gone to Epton Hall to catalogue all of the books located there. While doing so, she finds a letter and birth certificate of a person who could have rightful ownership of Epton Hall. Upon finding these documents, Katie phones her employer to tell him all about it not realizing that Harold has snuck into the house and is overhearing her entire conversation. When I say "all about it" I mean she told him names, dates, all the specifics. A few pages later, as Katie is thinking to herself while feeling threatened by Harold, the book states that Katie wasn't sure how much Harold had heard or understood her conversation with her employer. Really? Katie stated, out loud, that Harold's uncle had an affair and a bastard child who was now living in Canada and she had a copy of the birth certificate with her. Not only that, but she also stated that Harold would be upset if the letter proved to be true. Harold overheard all of this and she still wonders if he understood her conversation with her employer ... *smh*

Example 2: Katie meets a guy while visiting her cousin/friend/can't remember. They converse a little bit during that one night. A few weeks later, Stuart fashions himself in love with Katie. They have one date together and then he wants her to go with him to meet his parents the next weekend. (Moving too fast, aren't we?) Then, it's either the following weekend or the one after that, Katie and Stuart go to Canada together ... where Stuart proposes and Katie says 'yes.' Then, either that same day or the next, Katie thinks to herself that "they were still in that tender area of getting to know one another." Shouldn't that be taken care of (as much as any two people can) BEFORE you agree to be married?!

Those are just two examples of many things that had me shaking my head or yelling "WHAT?!" at the book. If the author, or an editor, would go through the book and help clean up all of head-shaking moments, this would be an excellent novel for me to recommend. As it stands, I just can't recommend it to anyone.

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

{BintoM Giveaway} Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

That's right! We have another BintoM Giveaway!!! This one is for the book Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks. This giveaway will end on January 31st and is open internationally (via The Book Depository).

Please keep in mind that if you'd rather have an ebook all you have to do is let us know. We'll be happy to gift you an ebook instead of a paperback.

This movie will be coming out in theaters on February 14th ... the perfect Valentine's Day movie to make your sweetie take you to!!!

Enter for your chance to win below and good luck!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

{Review} Uncontrollable by S. R. Johannes

ISBN #: 978-0984799145
Page Count: 288
Copyright: September 26, 2012
Publisher: Coleman & Scott

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

As Grace recovers from tragedy, her science class is chosen by Agent Sweeney at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to help with research on the new "Red Wolf Reintroduction Program." While she's excited about helping with the conservation of the endangered wolves, Grace knows this means being outdoors in the worst winter on record, in a place she no longer feels comfortable. It also means working closely with Wyn (her ex) and his annoying girlfriend (Skyler), a girl whose idea of getting close to nature is killing two silk plants and watering a cactus.

After a couple of wolves show up dead, Grace almost quits. However, when a fellow project team member goes missing, Grace continues the assignment under a renewed suspicion that someone might be sabotaging the conservation program. She quietly begins to hunt for clues. Little does she know, she is being hunted too.

Mandy's Review:

Remember how I griped about Grace and her emotions in my review of Untraceable? Well, she's still a little too emotional in this book for my taste, BUT she's A LOT better than she was in Untraceable. As a matter of fact, this whole storyline is much improved over the first book. The characters seem MUCH more believable.

Wyn, Grace's ex, is, in my humble opinion, playing the field. He wants Grace, is supposedly in love with her, but has Skyler as his girlfriend. If I were Skyler and I saw my boyfriend still so hung up over his ex ... I'd be kicking the boy to the curb. I don't play second fiddle to anyone, but I guess Skyler's okay with it.

Grace is still understandably upset over the recent deaths of her father and her boyfriend, Mo. She feels as if everyone and every animal around her dies. Even the townspeople blame her for the stopping of much-needed funds for their town (even the town is dying around her) ... and the death of their Sheriff. All of this, plus the avoidance of her one-time friends, wears Grace down emotionally. Her only bright spots are a better relationship with her mother and having her grandmother back in town. When the "Red Wolf Reintroduction Program" comes along, it gives Grace the opportunity to get out of town and back into the woods where she really feels at home.

Filled with unrequited love, death, murder, conspiracy, deception, and a fictional account of a serious (and real) nature problem, Uncontrollable is an improved addition to the Nature of Grace series. If Grace would just control her uncontrollable self, this would be a wonderful series to add to your ever-growing TBR piles.

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

{BintoM Giveaway} Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

It's that time again!

On February 13th, the much-anticipated movie Beautiful Creatures will come to theaters.

If you've not read the book yet, you have a chance to win it and read it before going to the theaters. We will be giving away (internationally via The Book Depository) one paperback copy of the book. This giveaway will end on January 30th. The winner will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. Just enter the Rafflecopter form below and good luck!!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

{Review} Untraceable by S. R. Johannes

ISBN #: 978-0984799125
Page Count: 312
Copyright: November 23, 2011
Publisher: Coleman & Scott

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Everyone leaves a mark.

What would you do if yours was erased?

Grace has lived in the Smokies all her life, patrolling with her forest ranger father who taught her about wildlife, tracking, and wilderness survival. When her dad goes missing on a routine patrol, Grace refuses to believe he's dead and fights the town authorities, tribal officials, and nature to find him.

One day, while out tracking clues, Grace is rescued from danger by Mo, a hot guy with an intoxicating accent and a secret. As her feelings between him and her ex-boyfriend get muddled, Grace travels deep into the wilderness to escape and find her father.

Along the way, Grace learns terrible secrets that sever relationships and lives. Soon she's enmeshed in a web of conspiracy, deception, and murder. And it's going to take a lot more than a compass and a motorcycle (named Lucifer) for this kick-butting heroine to save everything she loves.

Mandy's Review:

Grace is a 16-year-old tomboy who grew up as her daddy's shadow. He was a park ranger who taught Grace everything he knew about tracking, plants, animals, and nature in general. She never dreamed all of that knowledge would be needed to track down her missing father.

During her investigations, she encounters some unsavory men who catch her spying on them. A stranger comes along and rescues her. Grace and her rescuer, Mo, get to know each other better and start developing feelings for each other. Meanwhile, the men who had her captured are part of a bigger ring of poachers that Grace helps to bring down.

How do the poachers tie in to her dad's disappearance? Will Grace still find him alive? Why was Mo wandering in the woods and able to rescue her? Is he hiding anything?

I'm not in love with this book. It's a quick read and has plenty of action to hold your attention, but there was something just a little .... "off" ... about it. Maybe it's because Grace is, at first, overly stoic and doing her best to hold all her emotions in and then, once she lets loose, she's way too overly emotional. Maybe it's because Mo is only 17-years-old, yet he's part of what seems to be an undercover operation. Maybe it's the fact that Grace is a self-centered, disrespecting teenager towards her mother, who is also under the emotional turmoil of losing someone. I don't really know what it is that isn't allowing me to become emotionally involved in this story, but I'm hoping that the second book will be better for me.

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

Monday, January 21, 2013

{Review} When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

ISBN #: 978-0316154680
Page Count: 336
Copyright: June 2, 2009
Publisher: Back Bay Books

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Trying to make coffee when the water is shut off, David considers using the water in a vase of flowers and his chain of associations takes him from the French countryside to a hilariously uncomfortable memory of buying drugs in a mobile home in rural North Carolina. In essay after essay, Sedaris proceeds from bizarre conundrums of daily life - having a lozenge fall from your mouth into the lap of a fellow passenger on a plane or armoring the windows with LP covers to protect the house from neurotic songbirds - to the most deeply resonant human truths. Culminating in a brilliant account of his venture to Tokyo in order to quit smoking, David Sedaris' sixth essay collection is a new masterpiece of comic writing from "a writer worth treasuring" (Seattle Times).

Kathy's Review:
(Copied from her personal blog, Grown Up Book Reports, with her permission)

When you read David Sedaris, words like "wry" and "witty" and "highbrow" go through your mind. He is a humorist, but a higher caliber humorist, someone who's well-read and well-traveled and, well, ... smarter than you.

He is the kind of writer whom I aspire to be; who makes you laugh but also makes you think, and while you're thinking, you say to yourself, or maybe you say out loud, "oh, I see what you did there, Mr. Sedaris. That was clever. Well played."

When You Are Engulfed in Flames takes its title from the final - and longest - essay in this collection, "The Smoking Section." The title refers to something the author reads while in Japan - a bad translation of English, or "Engrish" as it is sometimes called. This long essay is more a journal of his experiences of trying to quit smoking, although it becomes more of a retelling of his experiences while briefly living in Japan.

Sedaris has a way of taking something very mundane and day-to-day and transforming it into a larger metaphor, and doing it in a humorous manner. He buys his boyfriend, Hugh, a skeleton as a gift (Hugh collects medical artifacts) and the skeleton ends up reminding him of his own death - taunting him daily. In "Adult Figures Charging Toward a Concrete Toadstool," he mocks modern art by recalling some of the more gauche pieces of artwork in his parents' home, including a garden gnome under a toadstool. But, after he's made you laugh at his family's bad taste, he admits that when his parents are dead, the toadstool will be the one item he and his siblings will fight over because it so perfectly encapsulates their childhood and the essence of their parents. The way he just flips it - flips the script - it got me. I started thinking of my grandmother who passed away several years ago and how she had labeled things in her house - little tcachkes and such - so that we knew who she wanted to have certain things after she died. I remember a rather tasteless aunt would go around the house, inspecting things to see if she would inherit a certain candelabra, or a Hummel, upon Nanny's passing.

Each of his essays do this - you're laughing all the way about some simple detail of life until you realize you've been duped into feeling emotional about something. He throws in a ton of red herring(s?) to throw you off the trail, little sidebars and ramblings that sometimes veer totally off course of the story, but they're welcome additions nonetheless.

This is my first experience with David Sedaris, but it won't be the last. I'm a fan and an admirer.

{BintoM Giveaway} Winner Announced!

Our BintoM Giveaway of Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion ended Friday, January 18th. Our randomly selected winner is ....

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations, Anjani!!! We hope you enjoy the book. =)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

{Review} Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles by Ron Currie, Jr.

ISBN #: 978-0670025343
Page Count: 352
Copyright: February 7, 2013
Publisher: Viking Adult

(Taken from Amazon)

The protagonist of Ron Currie, Jr.'s new novel has a problem - or rather, several of them. He's a writer whose latest book was destroyed in a fire. He's mourning the death of his father, and has been in love with the same woman since grade school, a woman whose beauty and allure is matched only by her talent for eluding him. Worst of all, he's not even his own man, but rather an amalgam of fact and fiction from Ron Currie's own life.

When Currie the character exiles himself to a small Caribbean island to write a new book about the woman he loves, he eventually decides to fake his death, which turns out to be the best career move he's ever made. But fame and fortune come with a price, and Currie learns that in a time of twenty-four-hour news cycles, reality TV, and celebrity Twitter feeds, the one thing the world will not forgive is having been told a deeply satisfying lie.

What kind of distinction could, or should, be drawn between Currie the author and Currie the character? Or between the book you hold in your hands and the novel embedded in it? Whatever the answers, Currie, an inventive writer always eager to test the boundaries of storytelling in provocative ways, has essential things to impart along the way about heartbreak, reality, grief, deceit, human frailty, and blinding love.

Charlene's Review:

This is a story about a man who is obsessively in love with a, seemingly, unattainable woman. Finally realizing his futility and recovering from the loss of his father, Ron moves to a Caribbean island in hopes of "moving on." In an attempted suicide that fails as miserably as his life, Ron decides to just disappear, and in doing so, becomes a huge literary success. Eventually, he is found out and must face his choices.

<Insert big sigh here> I have to honestly say this was very hard for me to finish. I almost gave up in the first few pages, as the writing style is too loose for my liking, and Mr. Currie has a derogatory way of speaking in regards to women, and sex, in general. As a reviewer that dislikes giving a bad review, I plunged ahead.

Mr. Currie's novel seems fixated on, in equal parts, Emma, the source of his angst, and the Singularity, which may or may not have been important to this story. I tended to gloss over the Singularity rants, so I can't truly give an honest opinion. What resounded with me throughout the story were his writings about his dad's passing. Especially poignant to me, on page 183, were his thoughts regarding his father and a salsa expiration date:

And I read the date, and thought about it a minute, and realized suddenly that in all likelihood this container of salsa had a longer shelf life than my own personal father.

The "dad" stories seemed genuine and heart-felt, and would have made a terrific story in and of themselves. The rest, however, I could have done without. To quote Mr. Currie, yet again, in speaking of the betrayal of self:

To smile through a movie you loathe ... is a betrayal of self.

I did grin and bear Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles, but I have to say, I felt a bit cheap for trying so hard to enjoy it. Maybe someone else would better appreciate Mr. Currie's style. It isn't exactly "bad," just not my "cup o' tea."

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

Saturday, January 19, 2013

{Review} A Searing Wind by W. Michael Gear & Kathleen O'Neal Gear

ISBN #: 978-1439153901
Page Count: 478
Copyright: March 6, 2012
Publisher: Gallery Books

Book Summary:
(Taken from dustjacket flaps)

Black Shell is an exile, banished by his people for his cowardice in battle. To his fearsome patron spirit, Horned Serpent, however, he is imbued with the courage and keenness to stop the Kristiano onslaught. He and his beautiful wife, Pearl Hand, have fought them from the Florida Peninsula through the very heart of native America. A trader by profession, Black Shell now dedicates his soul to destroying the invaders, with their impenetrable armor, their swift, enormous cabayos, and their flashing, razor-sharp swords.

Black Shell and Pearl Hand have seen the shackled, naked, starving slaves, heard the broken promises - and learned de Soto's plans. While the battle of Mabila cost many Kristianos life and limb, the marauder does not retreat. Now he heads for Chicaza and the people from which Black Shell was once exiled.

Wounded and pursued by memories and visions, Black Shell is obsessed with setting the perfect trap. To do so, he must use the Chicaza and their stockpiles of food and supplies. And he must gamble everything on his people's pride, traditions, and failings. As winter sets in, new dangers abound for the pair - that of a family's shame, a woman's anger, and a betrayal that may force Black Shell to forfeit his last chance to save their world from utter destruction. But, worst of all, he and Pearl Hand must walk boldly into de Soto's camp and engage the cunning monster in a desperate game of wits that will decide the fate of a continent.

Mandy's Review:

If you were chosen to go on a mission that you knew would end in death would you do it? Would you be brave enough to continue on as you see those you love die around you? Would you have the courage to go back to a home that you were banished from and face the humiliation and anger of those who once loved you?

This is what Black Shell faced. Although he was banished from his community and labeled a coward, he was a man of great courage and bravery. There were plenty of times he was scared, but he pressed on because what he was doing was for the good of all his people, not just himself.

Pearl Hand was a well-suited match for Black Shell. Although she had a hard life growing up, being married to Black Shell has allowed her to be the person she was meant to become: a warrior ... which was highly unusual for a Native American woman. Because of the number of Kristianos she murdered, all of the Native Americans considered her as high ranking as a priest or government official. What she said carried weight with the decisions that had to be made among the elders.

In A Searing Wind, Black Shell and Pearl Hand are in the home-stretch of their fights against the Kristianos. Their final mission is to get the Chicaza's help. Black Shell, of course, had to prove himself to his former clan so they knew he wasn't lying to or deceiving them. After he gains their trust, the Chicaza and several surrounding clans join together to defeat the Kristianos.

Do they succeed? What cost will the Native Americans have to pay? Will the Kristianos be knocked down and retreat? What price will Black Shell and Pearl Hand have to pay? Will they both survive this final showdown?

I don't want to end this review because it will mean the end of this series for me. =(  Alas, I know I cannot talk about this series forever. A Searing Wind is the culmination of exceptionally-written period novels that will have you feeling every emotion available. I even cried at the end. I cannot portray the proper amount of importance in my words when I tell you that you must read this series.

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

Friday, January 18, 2013

{Review} Cooper Moon: The Calling by Cheryl Shireman

ISBN #: 978-1478153658
Page Count: 360
Copyright: July 18, 2012
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

(Taken from back cover)

Cooper Moon, a handsome womanizer, has just found God under some unusual circumstances. Cooper is the last person one might expect to experience such a conversion, and no one is more skeptical of this sudden turn of events than Cooper's wife, Sally.

He has also decided to build a church. He faces a few obstacles. He has never read the Bible, he has no money, and he has a well-deserved reputation as a slacker. Throw in a couple of scheming women who aren't ready to five up sleeping with Cooper, a jealous husband with a grudge, and things begin to get complicated.

Filled with a cast of characters you are sure to love (and hate!), Cooper Moon: The Calling is a story of love, faith, determination, dreams, sin, lust, hope, revenge, and despair - just like real life.

Charlene's Review:

Cooper Moon has a history of infidelity. A night out at the bar turns into a spiritual awakening for Cooper, but no one, least of all his wife and mistresses, believe him. He remains determined to change his ways and build a church. The biggest problem? Cooper knows nothing about the Bible, and has no money. Add to that the women chasing him and a disgruntled husband wanting revenge, and Cooper has his hands full.

From the very first paragraph I knew I would enjoy Ms. Shireman's writing style. She starts out on a rather sarcastic, humorous note, and before long I was a true fan. Cooper is the most absurd religious convert you could imagine, but as he held his ground, I came to admire his backwards, oft sabotaged attempts at redemption. Ms. Shireman solidly grounds her characters with sincerity and strong personality. There was not a character described that I didn't feel I knew personally by the end of the book.

If the basis of this particular first book about Cooper's religious transition, and his building of a church, offset you, I promise, while staying true to the Bible and quoting verses, the "preachy" aspects are subtle. I see it as an "Inspirational Fiction" (my favorite genre) and yet, with all the other things going on, it is so much more. I cannot give it enough good press. Love, love, love it!

The way the subplots and stories running amidst the "main" storyline never once detracted and made me wonder how these stories will emerge in future books. This being the first in a series, I am determined to find out. I was sorry to turn to the last page, and Ms. Shireman did a good job of making me want for more. I liken it to a television finale right before commercial, and "tune in next season ..." I don't want to wait to see what happens next in Cooper Moon's life, or the lives of his townspeople in Timber Lake. I will be reading more from this author.

5 out of 5 stars!

*A paperback copy of this novel was provided by the Marketing Manager for Cheryl Shireman in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

{Review} Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

As part of the Back to the Classics 2013 reading challenge, Kathy has read and reviewed William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing on her blog, Grown Up Book Reports. We have copied her review below (with her permission).

I really don’t understand what the big deal is about this play! Ha. I kid.
This was my first “Back to the Classics” challenge assignment – I decided to tackle them in chronological order, or something of that sort. Anyway, this was the most accessible to me, as we happen to own a huge, hardboundShakespeare collection, which has all his plays.
This is one of the comedies of Shakespeare. I chose this particular play because I have read most of the tragedies, and I’ve also read Midsummer Night’s Dream, and I frankly, wanted to see what the ado was all about. Oh, it’s just too easy.
There are two concurrent love stories going on. First, between Beatice and Benedick, who can’t stand the sight of each other. It’s like a playground crush – they make fun of each other all the time, she’s a total bitch to him, he puts her down, and yet they fall for each other due to some scheming by their friends. I guess if anything they will have a very lively relationship!
Then there’s Hero and Claudio. They like each other but due to some meddling, Claudio thinks she has cheated on him and goes off on her on their wedding day. She basically passes out and appears to die of embarrassment. Seriously.
There’s a lot of deception and wearing of masks that happens here, and it’s amazing that these people are stupid enough not to recognize each other when they have masks on. Beatrice thinks Benedick is someone else when he has a mask on, and she rips Benedick a new one to him. Then at the end, the women have masks on and – surprise – Hero isn’t dead, and her good name is restored, and Much Ado has been made about nothing.
I know that Shakespeare’s plots are borrowed and retooled for modern movies, books and the like, and I swear I’ve seen this whole masked misunderstanding plot on TV a bunch of times.
It’s been a while since I read Shakespeare, but I find it easier to get his quips and plays on words than I did when I was younger. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been watching too much Downton Abbey lately and I’m in an old fashioned British frame of mind.
I feel quite accomplished for reading one of old Bill’s plays as an adult. One of these days I’ll get around to reading the rest.

{Review} Love in Disguise by Carol Cox

ISBN #: 978-0764209550
Page Count: 348
Copyright: June 1, 2012
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

Jobless and down to her last dime, Ellie Moore hears about a position with the Pinkerton Detective Agency and believes it's the perfect chance to put her acting skills and costumes to use. Reluctantly, the agency agrees to give her one assignment, one chance to prove herself. Disguised as Lavinia Stewart, a middle-aged widow, Ellie travels to Arizona to begin her investigation. When the need arises, she also transforms into the dazzling Jessie Monroe, whose vivacious personality encourages people to talk.

Mine owner Steven Pierce is going to lose his business if he can't figure out who's stealing his silver shipments. In his wildest dreams, he never expected to receive help from a gray-haired widow ... or to fall in love with her beautiful niece.

Then the thieves come after Lavinia and Jessie. Ellie isn't safe no matter which character she plays! Should she give up and reveal her true identity? What will Steven do when he realizes the woman he's falling in love with doesn't really exist?

Mandy's Review:

People must have been more gullible in the 1800s. I'm not sure that a change of clothes, a wig, and some makeup would be enough to disguise one's true appearance. Perhaps I just haven't seen that many great makeup jobs. To think that was all it took to fool a couple of Pinkerton detectives is a little far-fetched ... but it does make for an interesting fiction novel.

Ellie was an assistant to an uppity, selfish theater actress. When the actress leaves for Europe, Ellie is under the impression that she's going also. When she realizes she isn't, her whole world comes crashing down. Living frugally, Ellie's life eventually hits rock-bottom. While strolling through the streets of Chicago, Ellie overhears two men discussing the need for a woman to fill an open position ... as a Pinkerton operative! Ellie applies for the job, but is told she doesn't have the right look. After changing into a disguise, she goes back and is able to obtain the position.

Once in Arizona, Ellie begins her charade as Lavinia Stewart, an old widow. Determined to find out who's stealing all of the silver shipments, "Lavinia" begins talking up everyone in town. She becomes the focus of some unsavory people's attention and her life becomes threatened.

Does Ellie really have what it takes to be a Pinkerton operative? Will she be able to crack the case in time to save the mines?

I enjoyed reading this story. I did become a little annoyed with Ellie. It's just hard for me to think that women back then were so naive. I wanted to reach in the book and shake her a couple times.

Although this book is published by a company known for its spiritual and religious printed works, Love in Disguise did not have an overly religious theme running through it. So, if you're not a huge fan of religious/Christian fiction, but enjoy an easy-to-read novel that's entertaining as well as suspenseful, then you should pick up a copy of Love in Disguise by Carol Cox.

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

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

{Review} Ghost Town by Jason Hawes & Grant Wilson

ISBN #: 978-1451613827
Page Count: 305
Copyright: October 9, 2012
Publisher: Gallery Books

Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

Welcome to Exeter, the "Most Haunted Town in America," thanks to a deadly flood that unleashed an army of ghosts decades ago. And when ghost trackers Amber, Drew, and Trevor attend a conference during Exeter's spookiest week of the year, the ghouls grow restless. First, an innocent bookstore worker is mysteriously killed, setting off a string of strange deaths that point to a shadowy spirit known as the Dark Lady.

With a paranormal revolution ensuing, the team must stop the twisted bloodbath. But a past horror involving the death of a former teammate has them spinning faster than a specter in a storm, especially when they learn that it's his ghost who awakened the Dark Lady. Now, with their lives on the line and the entire town at stake, the three must decide whether to trust the spirit of their old friend or to finally put a stake through his heart.

Mandy's Review:

In Ghost Trackers, we met Amber, Drew, and Trevor as they dealt with their memory loss and a long-standing haunted house in their town. Ghost Town begins a few months after Ghost Trackers ends. Amber and Drew are a couple (finally) and Trevor is in the process of making a book deal about the Lowry house, the source of their lost memories from Ghost Trackers.

The three friends traveled to Exeter to give a presentation on their experience at the Lowry house as part of the Dead Days celebrations. What they didn't expect to happen was to become involved in yet another paranormal experience, but thanks to their old (dead) friend Greg that's exactly what they encounter.

The Dark Lady is a legend among the citizens of Exeter. They use stories of her to scare their children into behaving, sort of like the 'boogeyman.' When the Dark Lady is awakened, she's much more manipulative and destructive than people imagined. The growing number of unexplained deaths are attributed to the Dark Lady ... and a human helper.

Mitch has followed Amber to Exeter. As an abuse victim, Mitch has grown up to be an abuser. He is not fond of independent women and finds it his business to "put them in their place." The new confidence Amber embodies enrages Mitch and he makes it his personal mission to take her from Drew and show her what it's like to be with a real man. The Dark Lady senses Mitch's anger and hostility and uses that to control him into doing what she wants.

Will the three friends defeat the Dark Lady and her human helper?

Not only did Jason and Grant make an excellent team as paranormal investigators, but they also make an excellent fiction-writing duo. Ghost Town was an improvement over Ghost Trackers, which was great. This book had more suspense, more tension, more of the paranormal ... just more awesomeness. Whether you're a fan of Ghost Hunters or a fan of paranormal fiction, adding Ghost Town to your personal library would be beneficial.

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

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

January Check-In: 2013 TBR Pile Challenge

So, on the 15th of every month, there is a monthly check-in for this challenge to gauge the participants' progress. If you're interested in seeing who else is participating, you can check out Roof Beam Reader's blog.

Unfortunately, Mandy has not even begun reading a book in her TBR pile. She has been focusing on review books that she's needed to catch up on. Between that, her office job, and a college class, she's not sure when she'll be able to start reading a book from her TBR pile. Hopefully, it'll be soon.

Kathy has begun reading one of her TBR Pile novels: When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris. It looks like she's right on track with her TBR Pile reading thus far.

Are you reading out of your TBR pile? If so, what are you reading?

Monday, January 14, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Hi everyone!

It's the beginning of another work week and, depending on your view, that's either good or bad. It's good for Mandy as she's not heading back to work until Wednesday morning! (*woot woot*) For those that have the work-Monday blues, we hope it gets better for you.

Last week, Mandy finished reading Well With My Soul by Gregory G. Allen and began reading A Searing Wind by W. Michael Gear & Kathleen O'Neal Gear. She also began reading Love in Disguise by Carol Cox and Ghost Town by Jason Hawes & Grant Wilson, the stars from the SyFy channel's series Ghost Hunters, which she finished and will have her review posted on here Wednesday. Come back and check it out!

As for Kathy, she is still reading Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin and When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris. She did finish reading This Jealous Earth by Scott Dominic Carpenter and her review posted on here yesterday (scroll down to check it out!).

Although she's still reading two books from last week, she has begun to read The Woman from Paris by Santa Montefiore (for a book blog tour), Mindfront by Dave Becker (for review) and Much Ado About Nothing by Williams Shakespeare (for the 2013 Back to the Classics reading challenge).

Did you meet your reading goals last week? What are your reading goals for this week?

When costume-maker Ellie Moore suddenly finds herself out of a job in the middle of a bleak Chicago winter, she uses her knowledge of theatrical disguise to secure a position as an undercover operative with the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Her assignment: find the culprit behind the theft of silver shipped from the mines near Pickford, Arizona.

Disguised as Lavinia Stewart, a middle-aged widow, Ellie begins her investigation. Soon she finds she must also pose as the dazzling young Jessie Monroe, whose vivacious personality encourages people to talk.

Mine owner Steven Pierce is about to lose his business after the theft of several bullion shipments - until hope arrives in the unlikely form of Lavinia Stewart, who offers to invest in Steven's mine. In his wildest dreams, Steven never expected to be rescued by an inquisitive gray-haired widow ... or to fall head over heels for Lavinia's captivating niece, Jessie.

But then the thieves come after both Lavinia and Jessie. Ellie isn't safe no matter which character she plays! Will she be forced to reveal her true identity before the criminals are caught? What will Steven do when he discovers the woman he loves doesn't exist?

When Lord Frampton dies in a skiing accident, a beautiful young woman named Phaedra appears at his funeral - claiming to be the lord's illegitimate daughter. In his will, Lord Frampton has left the priceless Frampton suite of sapphires to this interloper, confirming her claim and outraging his three adult sons and widow. Eventually, however, Phaedra's sweet nature thaws the frosty relationships. She becomes the daughter that Antoinette Frampton never had and a wise and compassionate granddaughter to the formidable Dowager Lady Frampton. But an attraction grows between Phaedra and the eldest son, David. It seems an impossible love - blocked by their blood connection and by the fury of one family member who is determined to expose Phaedra as a fraud.

After uncovering a universal code in the brain waves of all living things that could revolutionize psychology, Martin Keller wakes one morning to find himself covered in blood, surrounded by his butchered family. Convinced he's being framed by a diabolical organization set on stealing or sabotaging his work, he dodges a multi-agency manhunt that pursues him from the seediest corners of DC to the highest offices of government. Struggling to stay alive and find his family's killer, Marty soon finds himself lost in a maze of conspiracies and paranoia, and eventually begins to doubt his own sanity. How can he find the truth when he doesn't know what's real?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

{Review} This Jealous Earth by Scott Dominic Carpenter

ISBN #: 978-1480172777
Page Count: 206
Copyright: October 23, 2012
Publisher: MG Press

Book Summary:
(Taken from Goodreads)

A man puts his beloved pets to the knife; a family prepares for the Rapture; a woman in a department store slips a necklace into her purse. Whatever the situation, the characters in This Jealous Earth find themselves faced with moments of decision that will forever alter the course of their lives.

Always moving and often touched with humor, Carpenter's stories examine the tension between the everyday and the transcendent - our struggle to grasp what lies beyond our reach. Whether hawking body parts in a Midwestern city, orbiting through the galleries of a Paris museum or plotting sibling tortures in an Arizona desert, his characters lead us through a series of dilemmas of universal appeal.

Kathy's Review:

I have a hard time writing reviews for short story collections. I try to consider each story on an individual basis, but also review the collection as a whole. In general, I feel the form makes it difficult to have any sort of deep connection. However, this collection of short stories has been the exception rather than the rule!

There's no doubt that the writing itself is excellent. This is a writer who is skilled at his craft. Some of the subject matter made me uncomfortable - ESPECIALLY the first story, "The Tender Knife." I almost had to skip it entirely because of the gruesome nature of what the main character had to do.

I'll make mention of a few that really struck a chord with me ... "Foundering" is one of the shortest in this collection, but clearly illustrates how quickly time moves while comparing a long-term relationship to a long voyage by sea. "Field Notes" recalls a family trip told from a child's perspective, observing the tension between his parents while gaining self-confidence as an explorer. I liked the humor of "Sincerely Yours," where a lonely man writes scathing correspondence to a billing collector, but looks forward to receiving the replies, hoping for a human connection.

Each has its own exceptional qualities but overall this is an outstanding and well written collection of short stories. I would enjoy seeing the author's other work.

*An ecopy of this book was provided by the publicist, MG Press, in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

{Review} Resurrection Express by Stephen Romano

ISBN #: 978-1451668643
Page Count: 437
Copyright: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Gallery Books

Book Summary:
(Taken from dustjacket flaps)

There is no code Elroy Coffin can't break, nothing he can't hack, no safe he can't get into. But for the past two years, he's been incarcerated in a maximum-security hellhole after a job gone bad, driven to near-madness by the revelation of his beloved wife's murder.

Now a powerful and mysterious visitor who calls herself a "concerned citizen" offers Elroy his freedom if he'll do another job, and sweetens the deal with proof that his wife might still be alive. All Elroy has to do is hack into one of the most complicated and deadliest security grids in the world - clear and simple instructions for the best in the business. Or so he thinks.

Quickly drawn into the epicenter of a secret, brutal war between criminal masterminds, Elroy is forced to run for his life through a rapid-fire labyrinth of deception, betrayal, and intrigue - where no one is to be trusted and every fight could be his last ... and the real truth hidden beneath the myriad levels of treachery may be too shocking to comprehend ...

Mandy's Review:

I'm a fan of "guy" movies like The Expendables and the Die Hard series. The action-packed scenes are exciting to watch and bond the hubs and me. Resurrection Express reads like an action-packed movie complete with deception, foul language and a one-sided plot line.


Yep! I don't find this story very balanced. There's a LOT in it that guys would love ... but what about the women? Yes, I enjoy some "guy" movies, but I sure don't want to read them. It may seem a little contradictory, but that's who I am. I watch the movies to spend time with the hubs and I wind up enjoying some of them. When I read a book it's a solitary act that I want to enjoy. Sorry to say, I did not enjoy this book. Perhaps if it had been a movie instead of a book, I'd have enjoyed it more ... heck, even the hubs would've watched this one.

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

Friday, January 11, 2013

BintoM Giveaway: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Yep! The BintoM (Books into Movies) giveaway has returned!!! It has been revised, so let's get the details out of the way ...

In the past, we've given away a book and a DVD of the corresponding movie. This time, we're just giving away the book. However, the book we're giving away will be made into a movie soon after the giveaway ends. If you're anything like Mandy, you enjoy reading the book before heading to the movies. We will end each of these giveaways two weeks before the movie is to be released. This should give you plenty of time to receive and read the book before going to see the movie.

We may eventually bring back the old BintoM giveaway, but we thought we'd try this version out on you first to see how you like it.

Another change we've made: the old BintoM giveaway was once a month. With the revised version, the giveaways may be once a month or two giveaways in one month. It just depends on the release date of the movie.

Our final change: We're using Rafflecopter!!! We wanted to make it easy for you enter without a lot of extra steps.

Now that we've gotten the details out of the way, let's get to the nitty gritty ...

On February 1st, the movie Warm Bodies will be released in theaters. Not sure what it's about? Check out the trailer below:

Liked what you see? Then enter for a chance to win a copy of the book, Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion. This giveaway is open internationally and we will be using The Book Depository, so be sure your country is one that The Book Depository ships to.

Good luck!!!

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