Tuesday, April 30, 2013

{Blog Tour/Review} Alphie: a Yellowstone wolf pup by Brian A. Connolly

ISBN #: 978-1621372004
Page Count: 176
Copyright: February 7, 2013
Publisher: Virtualbookworm.com Publishing


Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

When three month old Alphie, a wolf pup of the Lamar Pack, woke up from a long nap, he discovered that he was alone. His pack had moved to their high country rendezvous at Opal Creek accidentally leaving him behind to face the wild valley on his own. He was lost and frightened. His tiny howls attracted a grizzly and a mountain lion.

After facing many dangers during long days and longer nights, Alphie is rescued by an old wolf returning to the pack. Grandfather becomes Alphie's protector and teacher. Their meeting marks the beginning of a long friendship that weaves its way through all of the exciting adventures that Alphie experiences during his first year as a Yellowstone wolf pup.

Alphie, a Yellowstone wolf pup is a verbal map of the northern range of Yellowstone National Park. Beautifully rendered sketches fill in the details. The story introduces young readers to this special wilderness and wild places in general. Wandering the Lamar Valley, with book in hand, a reader should be able to locate Druid Peak, the Ledge Trail, the rendezvous site, Jasper Bench, Chalcedony Creek, as well as other landmarks in Alphie's Territory.


Charlene's Review:

Waking up, alone and scared, Alphie begins an adventure to find his family. The wild country holds many perils, and lots of mischief for a young wolf pup, as Alphie soon discovers. Finally, meeting up with an older wolf, Alphie finds his way to his beloved family, and on toward adulthood.

Alphie, a Yellowstone wolf pup uses a picturesque narrative to tell not only the story of a young animal, but to paint a vivid picture of the famous National Park. Geared towards the 8 to 12 year old audience, Mr. Connolly makes an in-depth learning experience pleasurable. Including a glossary in the back of the book for those unfamiliar words, he gives special attention to making sure the reader is armed with necessary information. The illustrations are delightful, and Mr. Connolly's love of nature is evident in the details provided. Any nature lover would enjoy this look into the lives of a wolf pack.


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

Sunday, April 28, 2013

{Blog Tour/Giveaway} The Grace Painter by Mark Romang

ISBN #: 978-1482687057
Page Count: 314
Copyright: March 9, 2013
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


Book Summary:

Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is the one reflecting back at you from inside a mirror. Matthew London can attest to this difficult truth. Ever since the former NYPD hostage negotiator changed his identity and fled New York City for the backwaters of Louisiana, regret has ruled his life.

For eight years London has lived like a hermit in a declining plantation house. Only his talent for painting Renaissance-style murals and paintings keeps the inner-demons from totally destroying him. Each day the disgraced hostage negotiator longs for a chance at redemption, never expecting it to actually happen. But then a down-on-her-luck FBI agent shows up on his doorstep one evening. It turns out Jean-Paul and Sebastian Boudreaux, two local brothers famous for lawlessness have inadvertently kidnapped a little girl.

London is quickly thrust into the starring role of a daring rescue attempt. But before he can rescue the child from the dangerous Boudreaux brothers, he first must find a way to forgive himself for a past misstep, a blunder that forever altered his once promising life. But in the Atchafalaya Basin swampland, nothing is promised. Grace cannot be purchased or earned. It can only be given.


Author's Bio:


I was born in 1967. Avid reader, suspense novelist, faithful husband, baffled father, factory worker, reformed head-banger, failed musician, contact sports lover, MMA enthusiast, distressed KC sports fan, Lord of the Rings geek, workout fiend, dog owner, nature lover, proud American, disgruntled voter, pistachio addict, caffeine-riddled, screw-up saved by grace, sojourner. This is me in a nutshell.


Mandy's Review:

Cover/Title

I do love all of the green on the cover. It lends a somberness to the man standing in front of the easel which, when you read his story, you realize is an apt tone for Matthew's new life.

The definition of the title is also revealed while reading the story. I appreciated that the author gave a new view to an often disregarded entity.

Plot/Main Characters

Matthew has been dealt a crushing blow to his psyche. He witnessed his best friend commit suicide after murdering his wife and goddaughter. Instead of staying in New York City and dealing with the pain, he purchases a new identity and runs away to south Louisiana to start a new life. Once there, he rents a plantation house from an old lady while dabbling in painting and working as a crawfish and alligator harvester.

Annie is an FBI agent dealing with deep emotional issues from a kidnapping she endured 20 years prior. Her career is dedicated to her own personal vendetta against the Boudreaux family.

Annie and Matt meet under extreme circumstances. He eventually agrees to help her rescue Gabby, the little girl inadvertently kidnapped by Sebastian and Jean-Paul Boudreaux. What then ensues is a lot of action mixed with tension and a race against time.

Overall

This was an enjoyable thrill-ride that packed a lot of emotion. I was pulled in from the beginning and didn't want to stop reading it until the novel was over. Any fan of Christian fiction, who also enjoys action, needs to read The Grace Painter. Mark Romang will become one of your new favorite authors.


*A Smashwords coupon code was provided by the tour host for the purposed of this blog tour and in exchange for an honest review.


Various Links:




Giveaway:




Friday, April 26, 2013

{Book Trailer} A Delicate Truth by John le Carre

ISBN #: 978-0670014897
Page Count: 320
Copyright: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Viking Adult


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

A Delicate Truth opens in 2008. A counter-terrorist operation, codenamed Wildlife, is being mounted on the British crown colony of Gibraltar. Its purpose: to capture and abduct a high-value jihadist arms-buyer. Its authors: an ambitious Foreign Office Minister, a private defense contractor who is also his bosom friend, and a shady American CIA operative of the evangelical far-right. So delicate is the operation that even the Minister's personal private secretary, Toby Bell, is not cleared for it.

Cornwall, UK, 2011. A disgraced Special Forces Soldier delivers a message from the dead. Was Operation Wildlife the success it was cracked up to be - or a human tragedy that was ruthlessly covered up? Summoned by Sir Christopher ("Kit") Probyn, retired British diplomat, to his decaying Cornish manor house, and closely observed by Kit's beautiful daughter, Emily, Toby must choose between his conscience and duty to his Service. If the only thing necessary to the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing, how can he keep silent?


Book Trailer:

Directed by Kim Gehrig and produced by le CarrĂ©’s son Simon Cornwell (of Ink Factory Films), and involved in the production were James Foster (Art Director on Skyfall), Andy Shelley and Stephen Griffiths (Sound Editors on Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), and Mark Paterson (Oscar-winning Sound Mixer Les Miserables)




Wednesday, April 24, 2013

{Review} The Sapphire Storm (Tallent & Lowery, Book Two) by Amy Lignor

ISBN #: 978-1482671926
Page Count: 286
Copyright: March 4, 2013
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


Description:
(Taken from back cover)

After going up against a man who believed he was the Devil, himself, Leah Tallent and Gareth Lowery are beyond exhausted. Now they are about to embark on the most terrifying journey imaginable ... a trip to meet Leah's parents.

When Leah arrives where the 'home fires burn,' her sarcasm burns even brighter, while Gareth Lowery - the handsome adventurer - uses his charm to sway the 'odd' Tallent clan. But when a frightening call from Gareth's sister arrives telling him that her love has disappeared, the daring duo is soon running away from one horrific situation directly into another.

A new puzzle from the past has come to life. Following the clues left behind, the courageous couple becomes embedded in a world filled with liars, killers and greed. And when the riddle of a famous 'Bard' is solved, a strange woman appears who has far more in common with Leah than she can possibly imagine.

The heart-stopping suspense of this new quest takes them from Coptic Cairo to the magical world of Petra, in search of a cave deep underground that once housed a true 'Illuminator.' Yet again, they must find the answers and stay one step ahead of true villains who are determined to make sure that - this time - Tallent & Lowery do not survive.


Charlene's Review:

The second book in the Tallent & Lowery series, The Sapphire Storm reintroduces us to Leah and Gareth, and their families. When Gareth's sister calls with a request to help find her missing boyfriend, Leah and Gareth are caught up in a mystery that neither of them bargained for. Following clues that may, or may not, lead to Christianity's biggest secret, Leah and Gareth encounter resistance, and danger, every step of the way.

Having read, and loved, the first book, I could not wait to read Book Two. I was not disappointed, as Ms. Lignor, once again, swept me away into another world of mystery and conspiracy that she balances with the back-story of Leah and Gareth's passionate love for each other. The fast pace, the magnetic personalities of the main characters, and just the sheer amount of action keep the pages turning to the very end.

Ms. Lignor is DaVinci Code meets National Treasure meets Indiana Jones, and then some! She is the master of storytelling, and I am hooked! Bring on Book Three!

5 out of 5 stars!


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

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

{Review/U.S. Giveaway} Glow: A Novel by Jessica Maria Tuccelli

ISBN #: 978-0143122920
Page Count: 324
Copyright: February 26, 2013
Publisher: Penguin Books


Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

October 1941. Eleven-year-old Ella McGee sits on a bus bound for her Southern hometown. Behind her in Washington, D.C., lie the broken pieces of her parents' love story - a black father drafted, an activist mother of Cherokee and Scotch-Irish descent confronting racist thugs. But Ella's journey is just beginning when she reaches Hopewell County, and her disappearance into the Georgia mountains will unfurl a rich tapestry of family secrets spanning a century. Told in five unforgettable voices, Glow reaches back through the generations, from the eve of World War II to the Blue Ridge frontier of 1836, where slave plantations adjoin the haunted glades of a razed Cherokee Nation. Out of these characters' lives evolves a drama that is at once intimately human and majestic in its power to call upon the great themes of our time - race, identity, and the bonds of family and community.


Mandy's Review:

On the front of the cover there's a blurb that states, "Fans of The Help, this one's for you." (Ladies' Home Journal) I loved The Help, and I enjoy novels written during that time period, so I thought I'd give this one a try. Although the premise intrigued me, I quickly became confused by this book. Perhaps I'm just simple-minded, but let me begin with the characters and then I'll get into why I became confused.

Ella's put onto a train in Washington, D.C. by her mother (whom Ella thinks is her sister) to escape the dangers there. When she arrives in Georgia, the person she was to meet at the station is not there to pick her up. After waiting for awhile, Ella decides to head to the closest village she sees. On her way she's accosted by several males and left for dead.

Amelia is often impulsive. She lives with her mother, father, and brother. They are part Cherokee and part Scotch-Irish. While they don't endure the many injustices of the African-Americans, they do have to be careful on who finds out about their heritage because being a half-breed is almost as bad as being African-American. Amelia is in love with an African-American boy, though, and she often gets into fights over her inability to see a person's color.

Willie Mae was born and raised on a slave plantation. After seeing her mother die, she's sold and taken off to a new plantation where she's treated much better. She becomes a maid to the lady of the manor, who is slightly deranged and speaks to little people that only she can see in puddles of water. Willie Mae falls in love with another slave-girl named Mary-Mary, but winds up marrying a slave-boy named Alger. Alger's aware of the bond between Willie Mae and Mary-Mary, but woos Willie Mae despite that ... and wins her love in the process.

All three of these ladies are tied together. From the first to the third, the reader is taken back into time by a generation each. If the book would have been written in this format, I think my confusion would have been decreased or cease to exist altogether, but it wasn't. The book starts off with present-day Amelia, then jumps to present-day Ella, then jumps back to Amelia, but to when she was a little girl (which started my confusion a little bit). After jumping back-and-forth for a while between Ella and young-Amelia, the reader's taken to young-Willie Mae's story. There were a few more voices introduced after this and some more back-and-forth between characters. By the time the book returned to Amelia and Ella, I had to flip back to the beginning to remind myself of who they were.

I did enjoy the three or four generations that were explored in this novel. Their stories were captivating and I lost myself in each one of them easily. I just wish there was less flip-flopping between stories and told from one generation to the next in a straight line. That may seem a bit simplistic to some of you, but I enjoy my stories to start at the beginning (in this instance with Riddle Young's story) and then proceed along to the present. I probably would've kept up with the characters easier.

Also, there were times when I forgot what race the characters were. The Bounds' are white slave owners, but in future generations they're African-American. I often forgot Amelia was Cherokee and Scotch-Irish because the way she and her family talked reminded me of older African-Americans. Some of the dialect used in this novel made me stop and think about what I was reading. For example, "marse" was used instead of "master" or "masta" (i.e. Marse Tom). The dialect did lend an authenticity to the time period so I cannot complain about it, but it did make me pause several times until I understood what they were trying to say.

Overall, while I did have a few complaints, I rather enjoyed this book. I don't know that I enjoyed it more than The Help, but it is a novel I would cautiously recommend to readers who are a fan of generational period literature.


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


U.S. Giveaway

If you would like to receive a copy of Glow: A Novel from the publisher, then enter for your chance to win!


If the winner chosen does not have a U.S. mailing address, that winner will be disqualified and another winner will be chosen in their place.

Good luck everyone!!! =)

Monday, April 22, 2013

{Meme} It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


Happy Monday everyone! We hope you've been enjoying the nicer weather that (most) everyone has been experiencing.

For this week's meme post, here's what we're up to reading-wise:

Kathy is currently reading White Girl Problems by Babe Walker for her book club's April selection, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon for the 2013 TBR Pile Challenge, and she's re-reading The Tears of Min Brock by J.E. Lowder for review per the author's request (changes were made).

All of the books Mandy is reading are for review. They are Glow by Jessica Maria Tuccelli, A Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr, and Protocol 7 by Armen Gharabegian.

Below are some brief descriptions of each novel in case you're interested.


Babe Walker, center of the universe, is a painstakingly manicured white girl with an expensive smoothie habit, a proclivity for Louboutins, a mysterious mother she's never met, and approximately 50 bajillion Twitter followers. But her "problems" have landed her in shopping rehab - that's what happens when you spend $246,893.50 in one afternoon at Barneys. Now she's decided to write her memoir, revealing the gut-wrenching hurdles she's had to overcome in order to be perfect in every way, every day.


A young escape artist and budding magician named Joe Kavalier arrives on the doorstep of his cousin, Sammy Clay. While the long shadow of Hitler falls across Europe, America is happily in thrall to the Golden Age of comic books, and in a distant corner of Brooklyn, Sammy is looking for a way to cash in on the craze. He finds the ideal partner in the aloof, artistically gifted Joe, and together they embark on an adventure that takes them deep into the heart of Manhattan, and the heart of old-fashioned American ambition.


Dark and brooding, Tears of Min Brock follows a young girl of 14 summers, named Elabea, who hears a whisper calling her to the shining land of Claire; a kingdom that was supposedly destroyed in the devastating Dark War. Outcast from her family and village, with her childhood friend, Galadin, her only companion, Elabea sets out on an epic quest to become one of the most powerful beings in the world - a storyteller.
 

Shot through with Cherokee lore and hoodoo conjuring, Glow transports us from Washington, D.C., on the brink of World War II to the Blue Ridge frontier of 1836, from the parlors of antebellum manses to the plantation kitchens where girls are raised by women who stand in as mothers. As the land with all its promises and turmoil passes from one generation to the next, Ella's ancestral home turns from safe haven to mayhem and back again.



In the backwater village of Callowford, Errol Stone's search for a drink is interrupted by a church messenger who arrives with urgent missives for the hermit priest in the hills. Desperate for coin, Errol volunteers to deliver them but soon finds himself hunted by deadly assassins. Forced to flee with the priest and a small band of travelers, Errol soon learns he's joined a quest that could change the fate of his kingdom.



2039: Simon Fitzpatrick, a brilliant Oxford professor, grieves over the recent and mysterious death of his father Oliver, who has disappeared in Antartica. An unexpected friend from Simon's past appears on his doorstep with an encrypted message from Oliver, leading him to believe his father may still be alive. Simon soon embarks on a mission which takes him half way around the world in search of his Father. A recent quarantine of Antartica by the United Nations makes his journey almost impossible and dangerous. Through his perilous journey to find his Father, Simon uncovers a conspiracy beyond his imagination; a revelation of global consequence and one of the greatest secrets ever kept.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

{Review} The Great Northern Coven by Bruce Jenvey

ASIN #: B009S9DTP2
File Size: 565 KB
Page Count: 411
Copyright: October 16, 2012
Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing


Book Summary:
(Taken from Goodreads)

J.R. is a bush pilot who drifts into small town, Haines, Alaska and signs on with the local flying service. He's looking for a fresh start, a new beginning, and a place to hide from the painful past that literally haunts him day and night. What he doesn't realize is the local Inuit Indians believe he is the missing piece in an ancient prophecy they have been waiting centuries to unfold. His arrival sets in motion a series of events that risks everything for everyone, right down to their very souls. It also brings forth a great evil and the only one who can save them all has to draw on her long-forgotten heritage of witchcraft.

This is the second book in the Cabbottown Witch Novels and is a story of the eternal struggle between good and evil with a wide range of characters from Lucifer and his minion, to pilots, barmaids and the ladies of the Tsonokwa Lodge... and of course, one very important Eagle-Man. But where Angela's Coven centered on starting over and second chances, The Great Northern Coven is a story of letting go, moving on and taking the next step forward in our lives.


Kathy's Review:

I was looking forward to reading this one, as I really enjoyed Angela's Coven. This book is similar to the first, as both follow a strong male central character. They are also tied together but I will decline to say more about that. J.R. is a pilot who takes a job in the remote area of Haines, Alaska. The beginning of the book really establishes the citizens of Haines and the small-town, "everyone knows everyone" atmosphere. Then we learn a little bit about J.R.'s past love ... oh, I should probably mention that she's DEAD and has made a pact with the devil to come back and try and keep J.R. under her spell? Things are starting to get interesting!

Then there's a small group of native tribal witches that predict evil is coming to town and that the Eagle Man can stop it. It's no great leap to connect the dots that J.R. is the Eagle Man, and the dead ex and her pal Lucifer are the evil that's come to Haines.

How will J.R. and his new girlfriend, Robyn, who seems to have a spiritual connection to him, stop the devil? Is there a connection to the coven in book one? Will Haines be overtaken by Satan and his minions?

I guess you'll have to read to find out! This book was long but worth it, in my opinion. The good stuff is about 1/3 of the way through and keeps going strong until the end. Maybe a tad bit too long, but very readable and folksy.


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

Saturday, April 20, 2013

{Review} The Burning Air by Erin Kelly

ISBN #: 978-0670026722
Page Count: 336
Copyright: February 21, 2013
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books


Book Summary:
(Taken from dustjacket flap)

The MacBrides lead a cozy life of upper-class privilege: good looks (more or less); a beautiful home; tuition-free education at the prestigious private school where their father, Rowan, is headmaster; an altruistic righteousness inherited from their mother, magistrate Lydia. But when Rowan and his three grown children gather for the first time since Lydia's passing at the family's weekend home - a restored barn in the secluded English countryside - years of secrets surface.

There, the MacBrides discover a stranger in their midst. A stranger who is convinced that Lydia was a murderer. A stranger who has been exacting vengeance upon the family for years without their ever knowing. A stranger who has been plotting a most spectacular revenge, one that will threaten the youngest MacBride, baby Edie, and the clan's memory of Lydia, shattering their world forever.


Mandy's Review:

It's difficult to know where to begin because the book starts in present day then reverts to the past then brings us back to the present to finish everything off. A novel set up this way can be enjoyable, if it's done correctly. I would say this novel is a success, but where to begin the review??!!!

The MacBrides exemplify the type of family who are so used to living the good life and having people like them that they cannot conceive of the possibility that someone may actually be holding a grudge towards them. Personally, I wish my life was that great but let's be honest ... who among you live that lifestyle? Of course you do run the risk of having certain types of people hold you accountable for their own miseries when you live such a blessed life. This is what happens to the MacBrides.

Darcy lived with his agoraphobic mother. She home-schooled him until she could teach him no more. She wanted him to finish his schooling at the Cath, a prestigious local school reserved mostly for the upper-class. Darcy, if he passed the interview and tests, would be able to go there by obtaining a scholarship. He did well in the interview and the testing, but still failed to win the lone scholarship the school offered every year. Instead, the scholarship was given to a musical savant. And, since the school's headmaster was Rowan MacBride (the head of the MacBride family), this instigates Darcy's mother's hatred towards the family, which in turn infects Darcy.

When the book begins, the reader is under the impression that the book is about the MacBrides and, in some ways, it is. However, I think the book is as much about Darcy and his twisted lifelong obsession. I want to be able to tell you more about the book, but I'm afraid if I do I'll give some essential part of the plot away. Just know that if you enjoy psychological thrillers that keep you guessing - then The Burning Air is right up your alley. Erin Kelly has earned a place on my bookshelf next to Dean Koontz and Stephen King (two of my most favorite authors).


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

Friday, April 19, 2013

{BintoM Giveaway} The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald



We know it's been a while, but it's back!!! This time around we're gearing up for the release of The Great Gatsby movie coming out next month. We are stoked about this and are ready to check this movie out!

This giveaway will be open until Friday, 4/26, at which time a winner will be randomly chosen. The winner will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen in their place. Below is all the info and giveaway form.

Enjoy!



Summary:

The story of a fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted "gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession," it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.


Movie Poster & Trailer:




Enter for your chance to win below ... Oh, and there's going to be a surprise for the winner of this giveaway!!!! =)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

{Review} The Disrespectful Interviewer: Thirteen Interviews with Authors by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

ASIN #: B00BZU8DDU
File Size: 262 KB
Copyright: March 22, 2013
Publisher: Hat City Press


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Just what the title promises! Thirteen disrespectful interviews with authors, including: Chris Cleave, Jon Clinch, Tish Cohen, Joseph Finder, Kristy Kiernan, A.S. King, J.A. Konrath, Greg Logsted, Lisa McMann, Lynn Price, Lev Raphael, Adriana Trigiana ... and Lauren Baratz-Logsted - discover new favorites and see some of your favorite authors, like you've never seen them before!


Mandy's Review:

I'll confess: I do not know any of the authors who were interviewed. I'm actually appalled with myself. How can I be a book reviewer and have never heard of these thirteen people?! It's probably due to the fact that I've been reading, for the most part, indie authors ... but still ... I am ashamed.

When I received this "book" (let's face it - anything less than 100 pages cannot really be considered a book, can it? Especially when it's intended to be a "real" book .. you know, for adults) I was reading five or six actual novels at the time (i.e. 250 pages or more). Because I was bored stiff at work and looking for something to keep me awake, I decided to start reading The Disrespectful Interviewer. Not only did it keep me awake, I literally laughed out loud several times (which made my coworkers wonder why I was having so much fun performing my job).

My favorite parts were when the interviewee would be just as snarky (that's a great word, isn't it?) and sarcastic as the interviewer. I'm a huge fan of the snark and sarcasm is my second language so these interviews were right up my alley. It was refreshing to see actual interviews conducted where the authors were engaged. You have to admit, people, that asking an author the same interview questions over and over again is quite boring and cliche. I feel sorry for the authors who have to answer the same questions repeatedly, thus part of the reason you rarely see author interviews on this blog. I don't like submitting authors to such torture. However, since there is no patent pending on Lauren's disrespectful interviewing style, I may have to borrow some of her mojo the next time I decide to conduct an author interview.

Check out The Disrespectful Interviewer if you'd like to see how interesting interviews are actually conducted.


*A copy of this book was gifted via Amazon by the author in exchange for an honest and slightly snarky review.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

{Review} Peach Creek: A Briarcliff Lane Novel by Adler Duncan

ISBN #: 978-1477417324
Page Count: 246
Copyright: October 15, 2012
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

The Eagle Ford Shale is proving to be as productive as a Middle East oil field, and Willy Mraznik is hell-bent on getting his share. An independent wildcatter, Willy punches holes in the ground up and down the Peach Creek valley using second-rate machinery won in a poker game.

When a drilling hand goes missing, detective Buddy McCoy stumbles onto evidence of a crime, and Willy becomes the prime suspect. As the investigation develops, Buddy's allegiance is challenged and the detective becomes the target of suspicion from police and criminals alike.

Set against the backdrop of modern-day Texas oil exploration, Peach Creek is a story about a man who fights for his share of the treasure and those who become entangled in his quest for wealth. From the author of Briarcliff Lane, Peach Creek explores the sinister side of the fictional residents of small town Gonzales.


Mandy's Review:

Buddy was in an accident and now has amnesia ... or so he wants people to think. It's true he did have it right after the accident, but it's been a month now and he's starting to remember things. He realizes how much easier it is to have less responsibility and more freedom to do and say what he wants. Whenever someone questions him, he feigns amnesia and goes off to do whatever he wishes.

It's during this time of more freedom that Buddy stumbles upon the evidence needed to solve the mystery surrounding Nick's death. As a matter of fact, it's so outside his usual bumbling self that people begin to wonder if maybe he's "finding" the evidence because he's actually somehow involved with Nick's demise. Yes, Buddy is a bumbler. So much so that he reminds me a little of Barney Fife from The Andy Griffith Show. His attempt to hide his lack of amnesia is, to me, apparent to any observer, so how the people in the book found it believable was beyond me.

Aside from my issue with Buddy's attempt to hide his lack of amnesia, Peach Creek was a quick trip into a nice little town (okay, aside from the death, too) that took me out my own world for a few hours. I don't know that this will become a national bestseller, but it is a nice read for those who enjoy the mystery genre.


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

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

{Book Blast - Excerpt/Giveaway} A Privilege: The Angel Chronicles, Book 3 by Amy Lignor


A Privilege: The Angel Chronicles, Book 3

The beloved Angel/Warrior team face pure evil in their final climactic story!

The first time they were sent down, Irish lives were led. Emily, the angel, ended up embedded in murder and lost in the realm of true love. While Matthew, the warrior, took over a life that left blood on his hands and anger in his soul.

With their second coming, Emily found herself facing an oncoming war that brought her to the shores of America. While Matthew tried desperately to unveil the evil character of a young man who was intent on locking his partner in a ‘gilded’ cage.

Now...Emily and Matthew find that their lives are all their own. Yet, all the memories, hatred, longing and regret have come hand-in-hand with this newfound freedom.

In small town U.S.A., Matthew finds himself loving his new life. From his military school existence to a new, ‘odd’ friend who’s arrived in town, Matthew’s looking forward to graduation and heading off into a brilliant future with Emily by his side.

Emily wants nothing more than to hide. Although doing her best to fit in, she lives a life on the edge, wondering when her past love with reappear to either forgive or seek revenge on the angel who let him down. Battling the shadows that seem to be breaking her soul in two, Emily soon discovers that her small, quiet town has a secret that’s beyond dangerous...

As she and Matthew join forces to help a ‘haunted’ victim, they open the door on a mystery neither of them can believe. A true villain has returned from the past, and not even their heavenly family will be able to save them. This time they’re on their own, as they face a fight that could lead them straight to Hell…and end the angel/warrior team forever.



Excerpt

Without a word, Matthew reached out, took Emily by the hand and pulled her down beside him. He looked into her eyes and smiled. “I knew my Emily was still in there.”

Out of the blue, the room became incredibly hot, as if Gabriel had entered in order to give a lesson to his favorite students. “What?”

“That spark.” He pulled Emily’s face closer before she could push herself away. “You’ve been acting all this time like you’re just here to sit and wait it out until you’re lucky enough to go Home. But you’re still in there, Emily. You still have all that energy and belief in there and you want to do something. That’s the partner I know.”

Shaking her head, Emily listened to her own breathing intensify as she stared at his full lips and wondered why she felt so completely and utterly strange...vulnerable even. “I want to help this girl. This is a job, maybe my only job down here. She saw a ghost and she wants me to help her out, that’s all.”

“And you will.” Matthew captured Emily’s lips, and she could no longer feel the breath in her lungs. Completely different than the one kiss they’d shared up above so long ago, this one was far more demanding, as if Matthew was a young man determined to kiss his human love for the very first time.

Sitting back, Emily practically jumped off the bed.

“I’m sorry,” she heard him whisper behind her. “I guess I was just excited to see you again.”

Not trusting her voice, she remained silent.

“We have jobs, but we also have a life to live. Our own lives this time around. Maybe you should think about adding that into your angelic plans.” Matthew continued softly, “Jason isn’t here, Emily.”

The name being said out loud sent a chill down Emily’s spine. It reminded her of the vow she’d made a long time ago—a vow that an angel couldn’t break.

She cleared her throat. “It doesn’t matter if he’s here. We were sent to do a job, and maybe helping this little girl prove her story is what I need to begin.”

Standing up, Matthew looked as if he was a man who wanted nothing more than to turn back the clock and erase the name he’d spoken aloud. He walked to the open window. “Well, I hope the job goes well. Good luck with it.”

“Matthew,” Emily took a step toward him. “Don’t leave like this.”

He nodded at the book on the bed. “You have your mission, Emily...your job. Ghosts, goblins, lost souls—knock yourself out.” He took a deep breath. “I wonder when you’re going to figure out that the living souls around you would like some of your attention as well.”

Closing her eyes, Emily shed silent tears as she heard his feet hit the ground beneath her window. A friend, a partner, the one who actually listened, was now just an angry young man racing back to The Armory—a place where warriors reigned.

Emily sighed. She’d done it again. No matter how hard she tried to be good, her mouth always got her into trouble. She needed Matthew to understand. She’d made a promise to a young man a long time ago; a promise that was supposed to last for eternity. How was she to know at the time that their eternity would include death by her hand? Had the second time around broken their vow? Emily had no idea. But whatever happened she could not and would not offer Matthew her heart if payment was still due for her past sins. Above all, Matthew was the last person who deserved to be punished for her mistakes.


Author Amy Lignor

Amy Lignor began her career at Grey House Publishing in northwest Connecticut where she was the Editor-in-Chief of numerous educational and business directories.

Now she is a published author of several works of fiction. The Billy the Kid historical The Heart of a Legend; the thriller, Mind Made; and the adventure novel, Tallent & Lowery 13.

She is also the owner of The Write Companion, a company that offers help and support to writers through a full range of editorial services from proofreading and copyediting to ghostwriting and research. As the daughter of a research librarian, she is also an active book reviewer.

Currently, she lives with her daughter, mother and a rambunctious German Shepherd named Reuben, in the beautiful state of New Mexico.





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Monday, April 15, 2013

{Update} 2013 TBR Pile Challenge



Well, it's April and we (Kathy and Mandy) should have read three books each by now and be on our fourth. That hasn't happened. We've both finished two books each: Kathy's finished Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart and When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris while Mandy's finished Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis. You can check out all four of our reviews by going to our 2013 Reading Challenges page (link is available on the right side of our page). The purple titles on our 2013 Reading Challenges page link back to the original review.

Are you participating in this challenge? How far have you gotten so far?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

{Review} Eon's Door by J. G. McKenney

ISBN #: 978-0987682314
Page Count: 316
Copyright: July 10, 2011
Publisher: J. G. McKenney


Book Summary:
(Taken from Goodreads)

The Dark Forest is moving and a horde of bloodthirsty monsters is on the hunt. For the peaceful denizens of Erla, time is running out.

Two thousand years after three clans flee the world of humans through Eon's Door to find sanctuary in a realm called Erla, a prophecy left to them by the ancient race that created the tree portal is coming true. A trusted sage has stolen the portal's key and is using the awesome power that separated the worlds to tear apart the very soul of Nature. The key must be taken back and Eon's Door closed - before it's too late.

Hope lies with a "child of doubt" from the world the clans left behind and the courageous young Erlan who's been sent to find him. Together they must retrieve the key to Eon's Door. It won't be easy; abominations of beasts and trees stand between them and their goal. Even worse, the sage knows the prophecy and is waiting for them.

Eon's Door is a fantasy adventure recommended for readers age 12 and up.


Kathy's Review:

You know how in the Song of Ice and Fire series, there's an appendix in the back that lists all the Houses and the people who belong to each house? And half the time you read those names and you think, who the heck is that?!?

Eon's Door begins with a roster of all the groups of real and fantasy people. My initial thought: uh-oh. I'm never going to remember all of this.

The writing here is solid, but as I suspected, I quickly became lost in the story as I struggled to remember who was who and what species they were, etc. There are wolves, eagles, people, trees, and more, all with names and who talk. With an e-book it's not easy to continue to flip back to the character guide to see who's who.

Then part two starts, and there's a whole new cast of characters! Sheesh! Even George R. R. Martin waited until Book Four to spring a whole bunch of new people on us.

Overall, a bit muddled and the plot is stretched out a bit. A lot of world building and character establishment. Not my cup of tea but may be up your alley if you're a fantasy reader.


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

Saturday, April 13, 2013

{Review} Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

ISBN #: 978-0670026609
Page Count: 384
Copyright: December 31, 2012
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books; First Edition


Book Summary:
(Taken from dustjacket flap)

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life - she comes from a close family, will probably marry her boyfriend, Patrick, and has never been farther afield than the castle that is the prime tourist attraction of her tiny village. But when the local cafe where she works closes, she takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor. Will is wheelchair bound after an accident ended his life as he knew it - big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel - and he is not interested in exploring a new one.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy - yet Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. In turn, Will prods Lou to expand her ambitions, but she has her reasons for wanting things to stay the same as they have always been. When Lou learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living. What neither of them knows is that they are going to change each other for all time.

Me Before You is about two people who couldn't have less in common - a heartbreakingly romantic story that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy means breaking your own heart?


Mandy's Review:

Louisa lives with her family. Her mother doesn't work because she has to stay home and take care of Louisa's grandfather. Louisa's father has recently been cut loose from his job. Louisa's sister works, but has decided to leave to go to college taking her son, Louisa's nephew, with her. So, that being said, Louisa's check is the main source of income for her family. When she loses her job at the cafe, she panics wondering how her family's going to survive.

When she gets a job working for the Traynor family, Louisa's not sure she's exactly the right person for the job. She's not a nurse, has no degree, and is pretty much skill-less at everything other than working in a cafe. But because her family needs the money, she decides to stick it out. What she never anticipated was becoming fond of Will.

Will's life has taken a complete 180. Once a successful businessman and playboy, he is now wheelchair-bound and has lost his freedom. He's a complete quadriplegic. When he first became an invalid, he tried to commit suicide several times. Finally, he's talked his mother into taking him to a place in Switzerland that helps people die. Her only condition is that he give her six months to prepare. He doesn't want to wait but agrees to her condition.

Searching for someone full of life, Will's mother hires Louisa to keep Will company and remind him that there are reasons for living. Louisa's not aware (at first) that her sole purpose in being hired is to change Will's mind about dying. When she does find out Will's intentions, she's hell-bent on proving to Will that quadriplegic's can have as active a life as able-bodied people. Two things happen during Louisa's mission: her long-time boyfriend Patrick comes to resent Will and the time Louisa spends with him and, much to Louisa's surprise, Louisa falls in love with Will.

Even though the reader knows Will's intentions of dying, you're constantly hoping that Louisa can change Will's mind. You're constantly looking for signs that Will's finally accepted his fate and that he's willing to give Louisa's love a chance. When you realize Will has no intention of changing his mind, your heart breaks yet you begin to understand why. What would any one of us do in his situation? If you were used to traveling around, skiing, being active, and then all of a sudden were left dependent upon others for every little thing ... would you be despondent and ready to die?

I was able to handle my emotions well until the last few chapters of the book. Once it was clear that Will was going to follow through, I cried. My heart broke. I felt as if my soul tore a little. Please don't think that this book will be any less emotional for you just because you know what's going to happen. Read it anyway. Especially if you enjoy emotional stories with depth to them. This book has become one of my favorites, but one I cannot read very often.


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

Friday, April 12, 2013

{Blog Tour - Review/Giveaway} Oracle of Philadelphia: Book One of the Earthbound Angels Series by Elizabeth Corrigan

ASIN #: B00BYH680O
File Size: 458 KB
Page Count: 222
Copyright: March 20, 2013
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Carrie works at a diner in South Philadelphia, dispensing advice to humans and angels wise enough to seek her counsel. But there are some problems that even the best advice can't solve.

Her latest supplicant, Sebastian, is unique among those who have sought her aid. He sold his soul to a demon in exchange for his sister's life, but his heart remains pure.

Carrie has lived for millennia with the knowledge that her immortality is due to the suffering of others, and she cannot bear to see another good man damned when it is within her power to prevent it.

In order to renegotiate his contract, Carrie must travel into the depths of hell and parley with the demons that control its pathways. As the cost of her journey rises, Carrie must determine how much she is willing to sacrifice to save one good soul.


Author Bio:


Elizabeth has degrees in English and psychology and has spent several years working as a data analyst in various branches of the healthcare industry. When she's not hard at work on her next novel, Elizabeth enjoys singing, reading teen vampire novels, and making Sims of her characters.

She drinks more Diet Coke than is probably optimal for the human body and is pathologically afraid of bees. She lives in Maryland with two cats and a purple Smart Car.


Book Trailer:




Mandy's Review:

Cover

I love the colors on this cover. I know all of the symbols on the cover may not seem to go together, but once you read the novel you realize that they do.

Plot/Main Characters

Carrie (not her real name, but names have powers so it's best not to reveal it to people) is thousands of years  of old and currently owns a diner in Philadelphia. She dispenses advice to humans, yes, but the majority of the humans seeking advice go through a "fake" Oracle that Carrie has sitting in her restaurant every day. She also has a lot of stories, or memories, to share so there's quite a bit of reminiscing in the novel. It does help to build the characters in a reader's mind so they're a necessary part of the story.

Bedlam is Carrie's best friend. He is one of the many demons that fell from Heaven. Since he's the demon of chaos, he loves to stir up trouble: tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc. He can't go back to Hell or he'll be thrown into the Abyss, which is something he fears. It may seem odd to have a demon as a bestie, but he's not really the evil type so it's cool.

Gabriel is who you think he is: one of God's trusted angels ... and Carrie's in love with him. Yes, humans and angels can fall in love (in this series any way). Carrie's unsure whether Gabriel loves her back, though. Towards the end it sort of seems like he does, but maybe that's just his heavenly persona coming out.

Sebastian has such a good spirit that even though he sold his soul to a demon he doesn't deserve to go to hell. His bargain was one of self-sacrifice to save his sister's life. How noble is that? He's down to his last days on earth. Once Carrie sees the goodness of his soul/aura, she hell-bent (pun intended) to have the demon give Sebastian his soul back.

Overall

I enjoyed this novel, but I did find the repetitiveness of Carrie venturing into hell a bit much. I think once or twice, maybe three times at most, would have sufficed but I'm not the writer so what do I know. Despite my complaint, I still believe that readers who enjoy the paranormal or anything with angels and demons would enjoy the beginning of this series. I do intend to read the next book as I think it will get better the more a reader gets to know the characters and the spaces they inhabit.


*An ecopy of this book was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this tour and an honest review.


Giveaway

Thursday, April 11, 2013

{Review} The Comfort of Lies by Randy Susan Meyers

ISBN #: 978-1451673012
Page Count: 336
Copyright: February 12, 2013
Publisher: Atria Books


Book Summary:
(Taken from dustjacket flap)

Five years ago, Tia fell into obsessive love with a man she could never have. Married, and the father of two boys, Nathan was unavailable in every way. When she became pregnant, he disappeared, and she gave up her baby for adoption.

Five years ago, Caroline, a dedicated pathologist, reluctantly adopted a baby to please her husband. She prayed her misgivings would disappear; instead, she's questioning whether she's cut out for the role of wife and mother.

Five years ago, Juliette considered her life ideal: she had a solid marriage, two beautiful young sons, and a thriving business. Then she discovered Nathan's affair. He promised he'd never stray again, and she trusted him.

But when Juliette intercepts a letter to her husband from Tia that contains pictures of a child with a deep resemblance to her husband, her world crumbles once more. How could Nathan deny his daughter? And if he's kept this a secret from her, what else is he hiding? Desperate for the truth, Juliette goes in search of the little girl. And before long, the three women and Nathan are on a collision course with consequences that none of them could have predicted.


Mandy's Review:

The title is an oxymoron in that there is no comfort in lies. Lies create feelings of anxiety, worry, fear, and general discomfort. When you lie there are consequences that must be dealt with when the truth is found out. And, trust me, the truth always comes to light.

Just about every main character in this book is lying to someone: Tia is lying to herself and then to her new boyfriend Bobby, Nathan is lying to both Tia and Juliette, Juliette is lying to her sons, Carol is lying to her husband and adopted daughter. Tia lies to herself by telling herself that Nathan truly loves her. Nathan lies to Juliette by not telling her he's having an affair. Carol lies to her husband and adopted daughter by pretending she wants to be a mother when she really just wants her life back before they adopted the little girl.

When the truth begins to surface everyone seems to want to lay blame on others instead of taking responsibility for their own decisions. Example: Juliette now has a hard time trusting Nathan since she's found out about his affair yet she's the one who decided to keep him around after his confession. Another example: Tia blames Nathan for deceiving her when the truth was in front of her the entire time they were together.

Here's what I've always believed: You always have a choice. In every situation. You may not like the choices you have, but they're always there. If you decide to accept being lied to, then don't blame anyone but yourself when the truth finally comes to light. Women know when their men are cheating. It's like we're born with this antenna inside of us. If you choose to ignore that warning bell inside your head, well ...

Overall, I did enjoy this book. I'm happy that things turned out the way they did for everyone. It's definitely an interesting story made unique by telling it in third person. And, I'm not tell you how but, everything turns out well for all those involved.


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

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

{2013 TBR Pile Challenge Review} The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis

ISBN #: 978-0060652937
Page Count: 224
Copyright: March 6, 2001 (First published January 1, 1920)
Publisher: HarperCollins


Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

A masterpiece of satire, this classic has entertained and enlightened readers the world over with its sly and ironic portrayal of human life and foibles from the vantage point of Screwtape, a highly placed assistant to "Our Father Below." At once wildly comic, deadly serious, and strikingly original, C. S. Lewis gives us the correspondence of the worldly-wise old devil to his nephew Wormwood, a novice demon in charge of securing the damnation of an ordinary young man. The Screwtape Letters is the most engaging account of temptation - and triumph over it - ever written.


Mandy's Review:

I think there's something seriously wrong with me. I'm reading books for my 2013 TBR Pile Challenge, that I've heard rave reviews about, that are not striking a chord within me. First was Speak (Laurie Halse Anderson), which was one of the most controversial books at the time it came out, and now The Screwtape Letters (C. S. Lewis), which was another controversial book in its time. I really thought with all the controversy and back-and-forth over these books that I'd find them engaging. Sadly, that's not the case.

What I liked the most about this book was how C. S. Lewis got his point across. He took the idea of a person's struggle with Christianity, twisted it, and wrote about it from a demon's point-of-view. I really thought this format was ingenious. Each chapter is a letter from Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood. It's evident that Screwtape is writing these letters in response to Wormwood's missives, but we don't exactly know what Wormwood had to say. We only see Screwtape's responses ... which is part of what I didn't like about this book. I would've enjoyed reading Wormwood's letters to Screwtape. Of course this book is called The Screwtape Letters so I should have been prepared.

Sadly, this book bored me. The chapters really aren't that long so it shouldn't have taken me long to read, but I kept finding my mind drifting off to other things. If I'm doing that while reading then I know the book isn't my cup of tea. I almost didn't finish it; but, for the purposes of this challenge, I made myself read it to the end.

I hope I have better luck with my third TBR selection.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

{Feature/Highlight} The Other Side: Melinda's Story by Starr Gardinier Reina



Book Summary:

Melinda James has a problem. She's in Skyview Haven because her entire family and best friend are dead. Did she kill them? Does she belong in the asylum keeping her from harming herself and others?

Her father Paul James is killed in a car accident. She attends his funeral and she does see him lying in the casket. Or does she? It turns out her best friend Beth is the one who is dead and her father is there to console her. What is going on?

She thinks she's going crazy, especially when she discovers both are actually gone from this earth and they talk to her from ... 'the other side.' Are her father and Beth actually speaking to her from beyond? Why? What do they want?

Soon, Melinda finds the answers and they aren't what she wants to hear. Paul insists he was killed and his whole family is in danger.

This is part of Melinda's story that she shares with Dr. Alex Leever, the psychiatrist who is assigned her case. All she wants is someone to hear her story - and believe. Melinda slowly begins to trust Dr. Leever and steadily reveals her long, complicated, intricate tale.

While at Skyview, Melinda meets Trent and they become friends, until she learns something about him that rocks her world. Is he there to hurt her? Does he want what her father was killed over?

Problems mount quickly and she discovers that there are people who want something only she can give them. Is Trent one of those people?

Her family tries to help from beyond, but Melinda is running out of time. She needs to give them what they want or die. Can the dead protect the living? Will they be enough to protect her?


Excerpt (Prologue):

I tried to tell them it was going to happen, but nobody would listen. They all said I was just having bad dreams, or that I was crazy. It started at my father's funeral. It's been so long since it first began, about eight years ago. Sometimes though, it seems like yesterday. My father was there. No, I don't mean just in the casket. He was there. He talked to me, begged me to tell Mom that we all needed to run and hide. He said we were all in danger.

I asked him why he didn't tell Mom himself. He said he tried, but she wasn't listening. I heard him fine. But I didn't believe him. Why would we be in danger? We can't just up and leave. My friends are all here in Beaumont. When I told him this, he said it was important, that it was a matter of life and death. He seemed so worried, but I was so confused, I blew him off.

I guess when it first happened I didn't pay any heed to his warning. We went on with our lives. Mom was grief stricken, my brother Kyle was in his own world playing videos and I was trying to shut my father out of my mind. Was I going crazy? What was wrong with me? Dad was dead, but I could still see and hear him.

If I tell you the story, will you believe me?


Author Bio:


A paralegal by day, she's an author by night. Apart from being an award winning author for her short story "Cut," Reina has appeared in a blaze and made her mark on the literary world with her Ivanovich Series. The first is "In the Name of Revenge," the second, "Deadly Decisions" and the third, "One Major Mistake" was released July 10, 2012. Having studied and obtained her Bachelor's Degree in Literature/Creative Writing, she has found her unique style and is known for her works' distinctive voice, making every character stand out.

Reina is the artistic creator of the Ivanovich series featuring Pavel Ivanovich. Flanking Ivanovich's side in "Deadly Decisions" is Teresa Mancini, who vies with Ivanovich for readers' attention. According to J.M. LeDuc, who was "raised in an Italian family," Teresa "is perfect ... like all your characters." Reina is also the author of young adult novella "Cruel Whispers" and its sequel novel "Cruel Past."

Reina is an executive editor for Suspense Magazine. She has been interviewed in the newspaper and on the radio with relation to her fiction work. She has been a co-host on Suspense Radio.

Reina is a member of International Thriller Writers (ITW) and of Sisters in Crime, Los Angeles Chapter and nationally. She has won three Best Speaker awards as well as Best Evaluator at the Voice Ambassadors chapter of Toastmasters. She has always been active in events. As co-chair and main coordinator for the West Coast Author Premiere, she arranged the weekend-long event to help authors from all over network, learn and share their work with the public. Reina has also been instrumental in compiling authors and planning a local author event at Barnes and Noble in Ventura, California along with the store's event manager.

Please read more about Starr at www.QueenWriter.com or visit her blog at www.qw-blog.blogspot.com.

You can also visit her at one or more of her social media sites listed below:

Monday, April 8, 2013

{Review} The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna Van Praag

ISBN #: 978-0670784639
Page Count: 304
Copyright: April 4, 2013
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books


Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

Knocked off-kilter by the Worst Event of Her Life, Alba Ashby finds herself in front of a house in Cambridge, England, that she's never seen before. There, a beautiful older woman invites her to stay on the house's usual conditions - she'll have ninety-nine nights, and no more, to turn her life around. With nothing left to lose, Alba takes a chance and moves in.

She soon discovers that 11 Hope Street is no ordinary house. Past residents have included Virginia Woolf and Dorothy Parker, who have hung around to help newcomers - literally, in talking portraits on the wall. Here Alba begins a journey that will heal her wounds - and maybe even save her life.

The House at the End of Hope Street is a charming, whimsical novel of hope and feminine wisdom that is sure to appeal to fans of bestselling authors Jasper Fforde, Lev Grossman, and especially Sarah Addison Allen.


Mandy's Review:

Alba has had her heart and trust broken all in one shot. She's devastated and has run away from home not knowing exactly where she's heading. When she comes upon the house at 11 Hope Street, she feels a pull to knock on the door. Entering into the house begins her on her journey of self-discovery. During her time at the house, Alba learns about her mother's death. While visiting her mother's lawyer, Alba learns a secret that changes her whole life while further devastating her already fragile psyche.

The house is in the process of helping other women besides Alba. There's Carmen, who's running away from the murder of her abusive husband, Greer, who is lost and unloved and needs to learn to trust her instincts concerning men, and Peg, the house's keeper who needs to learn how to let herself love.

This is definitely a novel geared towards females and I enjoyed it immensely. There were times it did get just a tad confusing when the story flipped to the past for a moment with no way to indicate we were taking a short trip down memory lane. That's really my only complaint. The house being magical and alive drew me into the story and ignited my imagination. How cool would it be to live in a house like that? The pictures were alive and could talk to the residents (which reminded me of Harry Potter, to be honest), but they were all pictures of women who were past residents of the house. They included some famous figures: Elizabeth Taylor, Agatha Christie, and Vivien Leigh, just to name a few.

To say this story is charming and whimsical is definitely true. It's a wonderful read that will be enjoyed by millions.


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

Sunday, April 7, 2013

{Review} The Apocalypse Gene by Suki Michelle & Carlyle Clark

ASIN #: B005WZZS82
File Size: 551 KB
Page Count: 239
Copyright: October 17, 2011
Publisher: Parker Publishing Inc.


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Olivya Wright-Ono's once loving home has been converted to a hospice for the dying. Her ability to see auras forces her to witness, with agonizing detail, the vibrant colors of life consumed by malignancy.

The beautiful and troubled, Mikah, is an elite Empath in the ancient Kindred clan, led by the brooding, ever-morphing, monster named Prime. Mikah has learned a terrible truth. The plague is linked to Kindred origins.

When Olivya sees evidence of disease creeping into her mother's aura, she has no one to turn to but Mikah. Together, can they unearth the Kindred's secrets and find a cure? Can she trust this boy whose power allows him to manipulate her very emotions?

With her mother's life and the fate of the world in the balance, Olivya and Mikah embark on a quest to stop the Pandemic, only to discover it is far, far more than a mere disease ...


Mandy's Review:

Olivya's having a hard time with the fact that her childhood home has been basically turned into a den of death. Her breaking point comes when her mother finally gives in to the euthanization of her 5th grade teacher. Previously, her mother said that she'd never euthanize a person, but now that money is running low she has to do something different. (We've all been there, I'm sure.) Olivya's dead-set against euthanizing anybody because that's how her father left them to fend for themselves: he killed himself by euthanization, which Olivya found cowardly. There are moments where Olivya seems selfish and bratty. The good thing about her is that she realizes how she's acting shortly after and apologizes to her mother. Eventually she comes to terms with her father's choice of death, but it isn't easy.

Mikah lives with the Kindred clan, but is the only member who's not been Intiated into it. Part of him is drawn to the idea of fully belonging to the clan, but then there's the other part of him who looks down on and fears them. The clan members seem to be emotional vampires feeding off of the misery of the Indigenous humans, better known as Indigs. There comes a time where Mikah learns who he really is and how his parents played a role in his genetic makeup. He also realizes that some of the clan members aren't really who he thought they were and that he's misjudged them with his ignorance.

As I was reading this novel, I was thinking about how to describe this book to you all and here's what I came up with ... This book is a huge conglomeration of a dystopian-futuristic-mythological-paranormal mix. I know that sounds weird and you may be wondering how all of that could possibly work together to make a novel but, oddly, it does. The dystopian aspect comes from the setting of the novel. The pandemic has wiped out a lot of America's population and has caused it's own apocalypse of sorts. Because of the pandemic, futuristic elements have naturally evolved: the children go to school online using holo-sims and there are tracking devices that can be injected into the legs of children who're punished. Aspects of the familiar mythological stories (Kraken, Medusa, etc.) are introduced as part of the Klan's lineage. Finally, the paranormal element is introduced with people's magical capabilities, auras, empaths, and so on ... the Pandemic itself has paranormal aspects about it. So, these elements, while seemingly separate, mix together to make The Apocalypse Gene what it is ... An interesting story unlike any I have ever read before.


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