Sunday, June 30, 2013

{2013 TBR Pile Challenge - Review} The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

ISBN #: 978-0671027346
Page Count: 213
Copyright: February 1, 1999
Publisher: MTV Books & Pocket Books


Book Summary:
(Taken from Goodreads)

Charlie is a freshman.

And while he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can't stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.


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

I decided to read this book at the end of last year for this year's TBR pile reading challenge, as the movie had created some buzz because Hermione from Harry Potter was in it, but not playing Hermione, and many people had read it for the first time. My book club was supposed to read it but we are on hiatus for the summer.

So remember when you were in high school and you thought that EVERYTHING you did was so important and every word you said was steeped in meaning? That's kind of the vibe of this book about socially awkward Charlie, a freshman in high school, who chronicles the school year in a series of letters to an anonymous "friend." He becomes friends with senior siblings Patrick and Sam(antha). He falls in love with Sam but she doesn't want him to think of her "in that way." Blah blah high school drama.

This YA novel is on the favorite list of many, and I can see why. It perfectly encapsulates how big everything feels when you're young, and it's chock-full of many "deep thoughts" that, if I were sixteen years old, I'd probably have underlined and/or highlighted. It covers the banalities of family life, such as sibling tensions, family get-togethers and such, but also hints at some deeper issues, such as the relationship Charlie had with his deceased aunt Helen, and his sister's abusive relationship with her boyfriend.

As a 30-something woman, this book didn't hold as much significance for me as it might for someone younger. Sure, I remember high school (fondly, I might add), and I'm sure that I felt back then that I was as invincible, cool and important as these kids do. You know what's funny that I just realized? And not funny in a ha-ha way. But the book takes place in 1991-92, which was when I was in high school. I was a sophomore, a year older than Charlie, but I guess that kind of puts it a little bit closer to home for me. Charlie should be 36 years old now. I wonder how he feels when he thinks back about these days.



Saturday, June 29, 2013

{2013 TBR Pile Challenge - Review} Falling Under by Gwen Hayes

ISBN #: 0451232682
Page Count: 336
Copyright: March 1, 2011
Publisher: NAL Trade


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Theia Alderson has always led a sheltered life in the small California town of Serendipity Falls. But when a devastatingly handsome boy appears in the halls of her school, Theia knows she's seen Haden before - not around town, but in her dreams.

As the Haden of both the night and the day beckons her closer one moment and pushes her away the next, the only thing Theia knows for sure is that the incredible pull she feels towards him is stronger than her fear.

And when she discovers what Haden truly is, Theia's not sure if she wants to resist him, even if the cost is her soul.


Mandy's Review:

I was really drawn into the darkness of this book. I liked that Haden wasn't your usual vampire, werewolf, or  other overly-popularized paranormal creature. Haden, people, was a demon. Straight up. His mother was queen of the Under (Underworld shortened, I'm assuming), so homeboy was essentially the Prince of Darkness. Theia has goals, doesn't she? No normal boy will do, oh no. She goes and falls in love with a demon who's in line to inherit the Underworld. You go girl!

Okay, part of that was sarcasm, but I really did like the change-up of the bad boy persona. What irritated me, though, was Theia was still drawn to Haden even though he treated her like a ping-pong ball for the first half (or so) of the book. What is it with girls in these types of novels falling in love with the guy who treats them like dirt? I don't get it. Don't get me wrong, I'm as attracted to the bad boy as anybody (and have dated a few), but I don't see myself falling in love with them and disregarding the rest of the male population. Bad boys are fun play toys, but many YA authors use them as standards for a girl's love interest. Let the good guy win!

So, anyhow, the writing was extremely good. The plot concept was very recognizable, but also unique enough to stand on its own merit. I don't know that I'd read the sequel to this book, but I am glad that I can at least cross this one off my TBR list.



Friday, June 28, 2013

{Meme} Book Blogger Hop


Time for another weekly edition of the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Billy from Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer.


This week's question:

Would you read a book just because of the hype?


Kathy's Response:

Sometimes hype is how I hear about some of the best books I've read. I heard about Hunger Games because of the hype. I heard about Gone Girl because of the hype. And I'm glad I read those books!


Mandy's Response:

I don't like giving in to the hype. So, usually, I'll wait until all (or most) of the hype has died down before I'll read a book. For example, when Harry Potter exploded onto the scene, I got so tired of hearing all the hype I didn't touch the book for two to three years. I was ecstatic when I finally did.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

{Book Feature & Giveaway} Age of the Aura, Phase I: Champions of Power by Samuel Odunsi Jr.

ASIN #: B0088VP0JO
File Size: 330 KB
Page Count: 141
Copyright: June 5, 2012
Publisher: Samuel Odunsi Jr.; 1st Edition
Genre: Science Fiction (Space Opera)


Synopsis:

The Blessed Galaxy has no other name. After being gifted with the Auras - five great powerhouses of celestial creation - the title was a suitable fit. For millennia, the governing bodies have ruled their respective reaches of the Galaxy while harnessing the might of the Auras. But now they face the threat of a calamity, from an unlikely source, that could shake the lives of all.

Lowen Sars, a devout man of science, decides to take on the burden of saving the Galaxy's people once he learns of the calamity. But he soon realizes that the role of a hero was a calling not meant for him, even with a sudden promotion. In his process of self-discovery, Lowen begins the fateful saga of not only the Blessed Galaxy, but also the kingdom in possession of the corrupt Aura.

Read more behind the story!


Download Phase I for FREE on Amazon! (June 24th - 28th Only!)


Book Trailer:




Giveaway:

Enter to win a physical copy of Phase I on Goodreads!



Goodreads Book Giveaway

Champions of Power by Samuel Odunsi Jr.

Champions of Power

by Samuel Odunsi Jr.

Giveaway ends July 24, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

{Review} Wind by Cheryl Twaddle

ASIN #: B00AOLF082
File Size: 355 KB
Page Count: 179
Copyright: December 14, 2012
Publisher: Cheryl Twaddle


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Every 360 days the earth spins counter-clockwise for five days. While this happens, some people sleep and some people fall into a world they never knew existed; a world where they will learn to survive or learn to die.

Seventeen year old Nicky Barrett is one of the fallen. She has woken up in this empty world and has met people from every generation. Some are good and some are pure evil. She will have to try to fit in, though, because, now that she's here, she will never be able to go back home.


Mandy's Review:

The concept of this book/series is definitely unique and interesting enough to warrant a read. Every 360 days, the earth gets too close to the sun and has to spin counter-clockwise for five days to back away from it. The majority of the population sleeps during these five days not even realizing they do so. Then there are the others. The others "fall" into an alternate reality. They wake up in this alternate reality alone and wondering what happened to everyone. This was Nicky's fate.

While she's out looking for survival supplies in her new situation, she meets Marshal. After a life-or-death situation, Marshal decides that Nicky's worth keeping around. Eventually they meet up with more people and decide to confront a bully who's blocking the water supply into the valley. Conflicts ensues, friends turn into enemies, and enemies become allies.

I think a young adult would enjoy reading this story more than I. Not to say that I didn't enjoy it, but it is definitely geared more for a younger audience rather than adults.


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

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

{Release Day Review & US Giveaway} The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence

ISBN #: 978-0316246576
Page Count: 416
Copyright: June 25, 2013
Publisher: Redhook


Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

The universe works in mysterious ways ...

Alex Woods was struck by a meteorite when he was ten years old, leaving scars that marked him for an extraordinary life. The son of a fortune teller, bookish, and an easy target for bullies, he hasn't had the most conventional childhood.

When he meets curmudgeonly widower Mr. Peterson, he finds an unlikely friend. Someone who tells him that you only get one shot at life. That you have to make it count.

So when, aged seventeen, Alex is stopped at Dover customs with 113 grams of marijuana, an urn full of ashes on the passenger seat, and an entire nation in uproar, he's fairly sure he's done the right thing ...


Mandy's Review:

Have you ever read a book that was just SO good that you know it has affected you in multiple ways yet you're unsure how to convey your feelings concerning the book to others?

Welcome to my world.

I've started this review many times in my head and none of them seem adequate. To be honest, I don't even know how this review is going to end up. I'm just typing what comes to mind and I'm going to see where it goes. I may edit it once I finish or I may leave it alone. We shall see.

To begin, I agreed to read and review this book because it came highly recommended by the publisher. The wonderful lady I communicate with there was blown away by this book so I thought I'd give it a try. Let's see if I can do this book justice.

Alex is a very unique individual. The entire book is in his voice and stays in first-person throughout its entirety. Alex has a scientist's mind: always analyzing, always questioning. Alex rarely "gets" sarcasm. He takes what people say at face value. For example, if you told Alex "my mum died laughing" he would wonder, and ask you, how hard she was laughing for it to cause her death. He may even ask if she had any other physical ailments that could have contributed to her death when she laughed so hard. He's a very serious boy who grows into a very serious man.

Mr. Peterson enters Alex's life at the most opportune moment. Not because Alex was being chased by bullies, or because Alex was coming back to reality after having a seizure, but because Alex had come to a point in his life where a male role model was needed. Someone older who could challenge Alex's way of thinking and to help him grow into the man he was meant to be. One of their very first in-depth conversations struck me as hilarious, due to Alex's seriousness and Mr. Peterson's ignorance of the seriousness of Alex. I'd like to share the passage with you, but let me set it up for you first ... Alex and Mr. Peterson are getting to know each other. Alex is socially awkward and is not any good at small talk, as you can imagine. He sees a picture of a lady on Mr. Peterson's wall, the only picture that is visible in Mr. Peterson's home. He asks Mr. Peterson if the photo is of his daughter. Turns out the photo is of Mr. Peterson's dead wife who wasn't able to bear him any children. Feeling highly uncomfortable that he made Mr. Peterson uncomfortable, Alex feels the need to do something with his hands and his eyes. So, he pulls a book off of Mr. Peterson's bookshelf ...

Unfortunately, my hands and eyes found themselves confronted by three sets of breasts on three nearly naked women. They were wearing very flimsy white gowns, mostly transparent. I went the approximate colour of a beetroot. My mother always told me that when it came to the naked human form, there was nothing to be scared or embarrassed about. But I wasn't so sure. You could see their nipples.

I averted my eyes a modest three inches to the north. The book was called The Sirens of Titan. It was one of Mr. Peterson's Kurt Vonnegut books, pulled from the third shelf of the bookcase, where there were at least fifteen or twenty others, all lined up in a neat, orderly row.

"That's a funny name for a book," I said with a gulp. "Are those women going to get arrested?"

Mr. Peterson didn't know what the hell I was talking about.

"They're not wearing any clothes," I pointed out.

"What's your point?" he asked.

"So I thought maybe the sirens might be for them."

Mr. Peterson frowned.

"I think the police are allowed to arrest you for wearing too few clothes," I explained.

Comprehension dawned on Mr. Peterson's face. "No, kid. Not sirens as in police sirens. Sirens as in Homer."

I frowned. "Simpson?"

"The Odyssey!"

I looked at him blankly. At some point in the last thirty seconds, we'd stop speaking the same language.

The conversation lasts for about another page or so until Mr. Peterson finally tells Alex, "Look: this conversation could last forever. Maybe you should just read the damn book?" The results of which is that Alex enjoys the book and winds up reading all of the Kurt Vonnegut collection as well as starting a Kurt Vonnegut book club.

The bond between Alex and Mr. Peterson grows. They come to rely on and teach each other. The fortuitous event of their meeting culminates at the event of Mr. Peterson's death. The story in between these events is a stunning literary work that should be read by fans of this genre.


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


About the Publisher:

Not only is this the first book by author Gavin Extence, but it is also the first book by publisher Redhook. Redhook is the new commercial fiction imprint of Hachette Book Group, launched in April 2013. Their goal is simple: to publish great books they're passionate about, and to make every one of them stand out.

Personally, I am looking forward to further publications from Redhook.


Giveaway:

If you enjoyed reading the summary and my review, you have a chance to win one of two hardcopies of The Universe Versus Alex Woods. This giveaway will be to US residents only (sorry international peeps!). This giveaway will end on July 2nd. The winners will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen in their place. The winners must have a US mailing address or another winner will be chosen in their place.

Good luck!

Monday, June 24, 2013

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


Monday, Monday, Monday ... One of the great things about Monday is that we get to share with you what we're reading this week. We also enjoy seeing your comments about what you have planned this week, so leave us one!


Kathy:

Last week, Kathy reviewed The Erlking by Rebecca Yount. Here's what she has going on this week:

For the 2013 TBR Pile Challenge
Charlie is a freshman.

And while he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can't stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.


Mandy:

Last week, Mandy was able to review When Hell Came to Texas by Robert Vaughan, Confession by Richard Freis, and Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick. Here's what she has going on this week:

For the 2013 TBR Pile Challenge
Theia Anderson has always led a sheltered life in the small California town of Serendipity Falls. But when a devastatingly handsome boy appears in the halls of her school, Theia knows she's seen Haden before - not around town, but in her dreams.

As the Haden of both the night and the day beckons her closer one moment and pushes her away the next, the only thing Theia knows for sure is that the incredible pull she feels towards him is stronger than her fear.

And when she discovers what Haden truly is, Theia's not sure if she wants to resist him, even if the cost is her soul.


Every 360 days the earth spins counter-clockwise for five days. While this happens, some people sleep and some people fall into a world they never knew existed; a world where they will learn to survive or learn to die.

Seventeen year old Nicky Barrett is one of the fallen. She has woken up in this empty world and has met people from every generation. Some are good and some are pure evil. She will have to try to fit in, though, because, now that she's here, she will never be able to go back home.


All three ladies of Literary R&R (Kathy, Mandy, and Charlene) are reading the book below:


In the small town of Hadlee, Mississippi, during the 1980's, Jason Lee Rainey struggles to find his way amongst the old, steadfast Southern attitudes about race, while his friendship with a black boy, Samson Johnson, deepens.

By way of stories from others, Jason Lee learns about his larger-than-life father, who was killed in Vietnam. He longs to become that sort of man, but doesn't believe he has it in him.

In The Clock of Life he learns lessons from the past, and the realities of inequality. He flourishes with the bond of friendship; endures the pain of senseless death; finds the courage to stand up for what he believes is right; and comes to realize he is his father's son.

This story explores how two unsettling chapters in American history, the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War, affect the fate of a family, a town, and two boyhood friends.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

{Review} The Godhead Machine (Digital Sea #2) by Thomas K. Carpenter

ASIN #: B006GIV266
File Size: 372 KB
Page Count: 383
Copyright: November 30, 2011
Publisher: Black Moon Books


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

When religions spread like computer viruses, even atheists have to take notice.

An old enemy seizes control of the newly expanded Wiki-religion to create a new world order. To stop him, Zel must join forces with a mega-celebrity doing penance and an orphan girl out for revenge. However, mired on a thawing city in Greenland, she cannot just use her considerable powers to bend reality and fix the problem. Instead, she must turn her greatest weakness - understanding people - into a strength or doom the planet to endless religious war.


Mandy's Review:

Religion can be used as a way for one twisted, controlling individual to manipulate a group of malleable people. In this futuristic, yet easily realistic, story that is exactly what happens.

Zel is an autistic who relies on a virtual system named Pandora to understand others' emotions. When she joins the Wiki-religion, as a way to escape the man chasing her, her access to Pandora is cut off and she has to rely on her own incorrect perceptions of people. Soon after entering the Wiki-religion, she encounters Sigh. Sigh has deceived and stolen a computer from a couple of street thugs. She runs up to Zel and hold her hand as if they're mother-daughter. That one interaction joins them for the remainder of the story.

The Wiki-religion is all about peace and doing what's good and right. Sigh realizes that the Wiki-religion is essentially mind-controlling its members. In one instance, Zel's instincts warn her to fight, but the Wiki-religion kept distorting her vision of the dangerous man into a man who was sincerely looking for his aunt. This mistake cost her a lot ... but it also helped her to realize what the religion was actually doing.

Action-packed, this book will keep you on your toes and keep your interest throughout ... so much so that you don't realize you're reading almost 400 pages. If you're a fan of a slightly futuristic sci-fi novel, then you would enjoy this series.


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

Saturday, June 22, 2013

{Review} A Guilty Mind by Kellie Larsen Murphy

ISBN #: 978-1478239062
Page Count: 336
Copyright: September 10, 2012
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

When secrets have deadly consequences ...

George Vandenberg is a broken man with a volatile temper, haunted by the memory of the young woman he once loved and "accidentally" killed. Wrestling with the guilt and punished by his psychiatrist to confess the circumstances of her death, he teeters on the edge of a nervous breakdown.

The past collides with the present when the doctor turns up dead, brutally stabbed to death in his office. Stunned and confused, George emerges as the primary suspect even as he becomes a target himself. To prove his innocence, George must face the police, his manipulative wife, and the past he's been unable to forget. When the truth is finally divulged, no one, including George, is prepared for the collateral damage or the shocking identity of the killer.


Allen's Review:

The only thing I ever found wrong with this story line was that - to me, personally - it has a slow start. Other than that, it's engrossing, and full of twists and turns that keep the reader coming back. It's easy to sympathize with one of the main characters (George) as his mental anguish from his past slowly reveals itself. Knowing that he has a manipulative and domineering wife really helps to nail home the level and depth of his torment.

The murder itself was, obviously, anything but cut-and-dry (THAT would make for too short a tale). Working through the clues with the lead detective, I was so certain of my deductive-reasoning powers that I knew I had the killer figured out by the 3/4 mark in the book. Enter unthought-of twist from left field ...

All I can say is that it isn't who you would have thought it was, and it isn't who you would have thought it wasn't ... which makes no kind of sense on the surface, but hey, this is a twisty-turny corkscrew kind of murder mystery, right?! It's probably not too far of a stretch to say this story would be worthy of an "AHA!" from Sherlock Holmes even.

All in all, a tale worth the telling, a proverbial yarn that will make the reader do some thinking, and a fine way to engage in a private bedtime story read. Personally, I enjoyed A Guilty Mind enough to give it a second read and just to get to the last 1/4 of the book with it's surprising twist. I would recommend it, and will - for myself - be making the time to read it again.


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

Friday, June 21, 2013

{Meme} Book Blogger Hop


It's time for the weekly edition of the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Billy from Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer.

This week's question:

When you are writing your reviews, do you write them as you are reading or wait until you are completely done with the book?


Kathy's Response:

I usually jot down a few sentences while I'm reading the book if there's something I don't want to forget, or if there's a quote from the book I want to copy down. Then, at the end, I'll revise anything I've written so far and finish the review.


Mandy's Response:

Normally, I'll wait until the end to write my review. I think I'm going to change that up, though, because sometimes I forget something I want to say until after my post goes live.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

{Cover Reveal & Giveaway} Common Descent by Natasha Larry


Book Blurb:

Eighteen-year-old Jaycie Lerner's telekinesis is finally in check - too bad levitating a picnic table is now a workout. Not to mention her previously dormant telepathy is back and raging out of control. As she struggles to relearn her frightening power, the Dey-Vah announce they will soon unleash the supernatural world on the human race. To make matters worse, people start dropping dead all over northern Alabama. Then, a mysterious new enemy emerges.

Jaycie must elicit the help of the world's only master vampire slayer and an assassin who gets her tips from the voices in her head. Strengthening the Core is the only way to protect mankind from the coming vampire army, and they aren't even the most dangerous threat.

Jaycie and her family face their darkest hour when an innocent young girl serves as a pawn to form a deadly Alliance. The perfect vampire, Lilith Bradshaw, becomes an eye-opening example of how far the Alliance will go to serve their own destructive ends. The world around Jaycie steeps into darkness, and betrayals from the past threaten to undo them all.


Author's Bio:

Natasha Larry is self-professed comic book nerd and urban fantasy junkie. She has an M.A. in history, making her a professional cynic. She is the author of the YA paranormal series, Darwin's Children. She resides in Alabama with her awesome daughter.

For more information about her or her work please visit: http://natashalarrybooks.com. You can also follow her on Twitter (@natashalarry).


Giveaway:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

{2013 TBR Pile Challenge - Review} Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

ISBN #: 978-1416989424
Page Count: 416
Copyright: October 13, 2009
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers


Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

When Nora and Patch are forced together as lab partners, Nora would rather fall to her death than put up with his elusive answers to her questions, his teasing, and his infuriatingly handsome face and hypnotizing eyes. It seems Patch was put on earth just to drive her crazy.

But before long, Nora's defenses start to break down as her curiosity about Patch heats up. Why does he always seem to be wherever she is and know exactly what she's thinking? How does he know what to say to both attract and repulse her? And what is up with those V-shaped scars on his chiseled back?

As their connection grows stronger, Nora's own life becomes increasingly fragile. Nora needs to decide: Is Patch the one who wants to do her harm or the one who will keep her safe? Has she fallen for one of the fallen?


Mandy's Review:

FINALLY!

I have finally read a TBR Pile Challenge book that I actually enjoyed!

I have always preferred stories containing angels over stories containing vampires, so I was hoping this was going to be one I enjoyed ... and it was.

When I first began reading it and Patch was introduced into the story, I must admit, I had a flashback of Twilight. You know where I'm talking about: Edward and Bella sitting beside each other in class, Bella can't breathe and all that hoopla. Despite the quick flashback, though, Nora and Patch's story is much better than Edward and Bella's. I mean, who wants a cold vampire when you can have a lusty hot-blooded fallen angel?

The dynamics between Patch and Nora are electric. They mesh well together. If I would've been Nora, there wouldn't have been any holding back on the "getting to know" Patch front (if you know what I'm talking about). Good for her for having her head together, though.

It seems like everyone in the world has read this book already, so you know how awesome this book is. I don't have to tell you. This is one series I will definitely be keeping in my personal library. And, if by some quirk of fate, you haven't read this book yet ... go get it now!


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

{Review} Confession by Richard Freis

ISBN #: 978-0988947412
Page Count: 218
Copyright: May 1, 2013
Publisher: Sartoris Literary Group


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

An intense and engrossing novel of psychological suspense set on the Mississippi Gulf Coast - and reminiscent of the darkly tangled familial relationships brought into prominence by Mississippi-born writer Tennessee Williams - Confession features protagonist George Burden, a distinguished attorney who finds himself at a crossroads as he approaches his 55th birthday. From outward appearances, it seems George is living an enviable life. But even with his devoted wife, affluent lifestyle, social prominence, successful career, and beautiful family, George is dogged by the worry that the choices he made were too easy and too safe.

His choice to begin an affair with Becca Talbot is anything but easy - and decidedly unsafe. A young woman who works in his law firm, Becca is a divorcee with a five-year-old son - and younger than George's youngest daughter. But for George, the affair is far more than just physical: he falls deeply in love with Becca.
During one passionate noon encounter at a local hotel, George announces that he wants to leave his wife and asks Becca to marry him - and demystifying the ambiguities of Becca's life. But that quest will lead George down a precarious path.

Lust, jealousy, rage, and envy are on a collision course - and even in the present day, George's past begins to bubble to the surface. When a violent confrontation ensues, George will not only learn the truth about Becca, he will learn the truth about himself. Might some secrets best be kept secret?


Mandy's Review:

Wow. There's crazy and then there's C-R-A-Z-Y. George is the C-R-A-Z-Y type. I don't know if he was going through a mid-life crisis or what, but this man needed to pull himself together and/or get some psychological help.

George has it all: dedicated wife, great children, money, prestige ... and then he screws it all up with a mistress. After hitting it one time, old Georgie-Porgie just couldn't handle the goodness of the cootie coo and went into freak-mode. Becca, to give her some credit, did tell him that she was not looking for anything serious. Apparently George must have thought his dunkin' stick was as good as Becca's velvety softness because he ends up proposing to her and thinking her as madly in love with him as he with her.

When you mess with crazy, honey, that's what you're going to get. Old George gets what is coming to him. I'm not going to tell you what happens but, let me tell you, Ms. Becca isn't as innocent as she appears to be. George can't handle the truth ("YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!" ... sorry ... A Few Good Men flashback) and winds up trying to kill himself. Whether he succeeds or not is up to you to find out.

So, basically, if you enjoy something that will mess with your head, then you need to read this book. Needless to say, I rather enjoyed it.


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

Monday, June 17, 2013

{Review} When Hell Came to Texas by Robert Vaughan

ISBN #: 978-1476715834
Page Count: 384
Copyright: May 28, 2013
Publisher: Pocket Books


Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

In the days after the Civil War, a solitary rider traveled the open frontier - but he wasn't alone, for Death seemed to travel with him. Or maybe it was the Devil himself who gave him the lethal pistol shot that earned him the name "Death's Acolyte." And when the stranger with the scarred face, who calls himself Ken Casey, rode into the peaceful Texas town of Wardell, maybe peace - for his own ravaged soul - was all he wanted. But in Wardell, all hell is about to break loose.

Awaiting a train shipment of gold, Angus Pugh and his army of outlaws, including notorious gunslinger Luke Draco, take the town hostage and kill a few innocent citizens as a lesson to any comers. Donning priestly vestments, Ken Casey, ordained man of the cloth, steps from the shadows to conduct the victims' funeral rites - and that's just his first revelation. For Casey can destroy souls as easily as he saves them, and earthly justice is delivered in gun smoke and blood.


Mandy's Review:

Westerns are certainly a genre that have fallen by the wayside. The old stories of men on horseback, challenging others to a duel, riding around the country seeking revenge on the people who have wronged them somehow. Well, guess what ladies and gentlemen ... if Robert Vaughan has any say-so, the Westerns genre will be making a comeback.

When Hell Came to Texas is reminiscent of the old westerns my grandfather would read. I really thought this book was a re-print from a previously written book from years ago, but I was wrong. This is brand-spanking new and I couldn't be more excited!

Ken Casey wants to live a normal, quiet life in a small town. Unfortunately, everywhere he seems to go there always seems to be someone who recognizes him and wants to involve him in some drama. Ken Casey is a man full of secrets and of surprises. He doesn't allow anyone close to him emotionally, which can lead to a lonely existence. When his employer and his daughter are threatened, Ken gets involved and takes care of business.

I do hope Robert Vaughan continues to write Westerns. If he does, the forgotten-about genre will definitely get a much-needed revival. If you miss reading the westerns written by Louis L'amour, Zane Grey, or any other similar authors, then you need to give When Hell Came to Texas a try. It will transport you back in time.


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

Sunday, June 16, 2013

{Review/Giveaway} The Erlking by Rebecca Yount

ASIN #: B00AKHVIRM
File Size: 1056 KB
Page Count: 314
Copyright: November 30, 2012
Publisher: Independent Publisher; First Edition


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Detective Inspector, Mick Chandra of New Scotland Yard, struggles to link the murder of the young wife of a popular British Member of Parliament to the seemingly random death by drowning in a north London canal of 8-year-old Josie Stephens. The forensic pathologist discovers that Josie was abused before she was murdered. Mick is informed by a Quaker Friend who knew Phoebe that she, too, may have been physically abused. Mick realizes he is getting close to the fire when his live-in love, American expatriate and renowned England-based concert pianist, Jessica Beaumont, is suddenly harassed. During a concert, someone even takes a shot at her. Seconded to the Yard's Pedophile Unit, Mick and his partner, Sergeant Elizabeth Chang, receive help in breaking the case. The Unit's chief informs Mick that a notorious pedophile ring is working out of north London, headed by someone who calls himself The Erlking. Day by day, more children are reported missing in north London. How is this linked to Phoebe's death? What is the connection between Phoebe and Josie? As Mick struggles to expose the identity of The Erlking, help arrives from a most unexpected source.


Kathy's Review:

This is the second Mick Chandra mystery that I have read, and I enjoyed this one just as much, if not more, than the first. Although this one deals with the dark subject matter of pedophilia, the mystery is engaging, the characters vivid and the action flows nicely. Yount does a nice job of setting up some red herrings throughout the novel, leading us down paths where we think one destination awaits us, only to find we are somewhere else entirely.

Although you get to know Mick and Jessica more in the first mystery, A Death in C Minor, I think a first-time reader could probably pick this up and follow along. You don't get to know Jessica as well in this book as you did in C Minor. This one is more about Mick and his friend Jaime Geller. A new character, Ethan Pidnar, also plays an important role in the book. I wounder if Ethan will be around for the next installment?

Regardless, I am hooked on this series, and anxiously await book three to see what kind of mystery Mick needs to solve next. I recommend you get on board, as well, especially if you love mysteries!


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

*As a side note: The third Mick Chandra book, The Ravenhoe Cauldron, will be released June 30, 2013!


Giveaway:

The e-copies of The Erlking will be gifted via a vendor such as Amazon, B&N, Kobo, etc. If you enter, please be sure that you are able to receive a gifted copy through one of these (or another) vendors.

The winners will have 48 hours to respond. If the winners do not respond within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen in their place.

Good luck!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

{Review} Li'l Lingo Can't Rhyme Tuba by Jori Sams

ASIN #: B00BPDYMLO
File Size: 2646 KB
Page Count: 28
Copyright: March 4, 2013
Publisher: Writeious Books


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Now you can enjoy bigger illustrations in this new English-only version of Li'l Lingo Can't Rhyme Tuba. Enjoy seeing Li'l Lingo jump off the page with fresh colorful images for kids.

Li'l Lingo eBooks create a fresh and colorful series for children. They are books children will want to read again and again. In this second book in the series, Li'l Lingo Can't Rhyme Tuba, Lingo knows her instruments. As a master of rhyme, though, she cannot find an ample rhyme for tuba. Laugh out loud as you read this eBook and observe Li'l Lingo annoy her friends in her efforts. Who will come to her rescue?


Mandy's Review:

I do like the fact that these books come in bilingual versions: English and Spanish. It's possible that there are children out there who will enjoy the simplistic story within. The colors in the artwork are vibrant and will draw your eye.

The drawings, while vibrant, appear as if a child drew them ... and perhaps they were. Maybe that is part of the author's way of drawing in children. I just know, as an adult, I didn't like them at all. For example, take a look at the cover. You can tell where Lingo is and where the front part of the tuba is, but what is all that yellow behind the tuba? Also, there's an angel depicted in one of the drawings in the story and it took me a minute or two of looking at the picture to see how exactly the angel's body was drawn. Again, this may be part of what is meant to draw children into the book.

The summary states that the reader will "laugh out loud as you read this eBook..." I didn't laugh. I'm not sure where the humorous parts were at. Perhaps I should have let my 8-year-old niece read it before writing this review so I could see how reading this book affected children. At any rate, as much as I hate to give bad reviews, I just do not like this book.


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

2013 TBR Pile Challenge - Check In



By now, all the 2013 TBR Pile Challengers should be on their sixth book. Hhmmm ... yeah ... Kathy and Mandy have read and reviewed three books each. So, we're halfway there!

So far Kathy has read and reviewed Super Sad True Love Story (Gary Shteyngart), The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (Michael Chabon), and When You Are Engulfed in Flames (David Sedaris).

Mandy has read and reviewed The Godforsaken (Chelsea Quinn Yarbro), Speak (Laurie Halse Anderson), and The Screwtape Letters (C.S. Lewis).

We are committed to have all twelve books read by the end of the year, but will time permit us to complete this challenge?

We shall see ...



Friday, June 14, 2013

{Blog Tour - Review/Giveaway} Running into the Darkness by D. A. Bale

ASIN #: B0063HIS26
File Size: 390 KB
Page Count: 236
Copyright: November 3, 2011
Publisher: D. A. Bale


Book Summary:
(As provided by tour host)

Death follows Dr. Samantha Bartlett throughout her life until it claims everyone close to her. There's one powerful man responsible on whom Samantha sets her sights for revenge. The price is her soul. For centuries, sex has been the weapon of men ... now it's her turn.

"I never intended to kill the President. As a doctor, I swore an oath to protect life - not take it. But that was before ..."

Second year resident, Dr. Samantha Bartlett, is swept from the frigid New York winter to once again confront the sting of death back home - and face those she left behind. But she's not alone. A strange man she dubs Shades haunts her every step as she seeks answers to the inferno which claimed her grandmother, an eerie reminder of her parents' deaths. The secrets Samantha uncovers forever changes her image of those she only thought she knew.

Confronted by Shades, Samantha joins a secret underworld known only as the Elite, where a web of power and control is woven deep within governments worldwide. Their sights are set on the power structure of the United States, and Samantha becomes the unlikely key to infiltrating the White House at its most intimate levels.

The quest for blood threatens to destroy Samantha. From the darkness there is no escape.

Book Buy Links:

Kindle ($1.99)
Nook ($1.99)
Smashwords ($1.99)


Author Bio:


Sometimes life emulates fiction.

Life is filled with tragedy and Ms. Bale's writing reflects this reality. However, there is always a silver lining ... even if one must spend their entire life searching for it.

In her previous career, Ms. Bale traveled the United States as a Government Relations Liaison, working closely with Congressional offices and various government agencies. This experience afforded her a glimpse into the sometimes "not so pretty" reality of the political sphere. Much of this reality and various locations throughout her travels make it into her writing.

She dreams of the day she can return to visit Alaska.

Connect with Ms. Bale via:



Mandy's Review:

I only have two negative things to say so I want to get those out of the way first.

One: I do not like the cover. I think it looks cheap and would not draw in a reader and make them want to buy it. Also, the lady on the front looks way older than how I picture Samantha to be.

Two: I do not like the incest in this book, but I understand why the author added it in the story.

That's it. Now, on to the good ...

From the very first pages of this book, the reader is drawn in by the action that's taking place. And, while it slows down in various sections throughout the book, the action picks right back up again before too long. I loved the characters and each of their personalities. Some are created to not be liked (and understandably so), but I still appreciated how well-rounded and fleshed out they seemed to be. Just when you think you've gotten a handle on who a character is, the author will flip the script on you and surprise you with a twist. Some readers get aggravated about that. I love it when an author can surprise me. When a character is predictable, I find that character boring. There is no risk of Ms. Bale boring me.

I really want to tell you about the HUGE twist towards the end that shocked me, but it would really be giving away part of the story. Let's just say that you will never see it coming. The very people you think have been dead are not ... not by a long shot.

With action, murder, incest, deceit, spies, underground organizations, lust, mystery, and unrequited love, I would say this book has something for everyone. I know I cannot wait to read the next book in this series! Ms. Bale has definitely put herself on my "Must Read" authors' list.


*An ecopy of this book was provided by the tour host, Tribute Books, for the purposes of this tour and in exchange for an honest review.


Giveaway:



{Meme} Book Blogger Hop


It's time for the weekly edition of the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Billy from Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer.

This week's question:

What is your favorite genre? Recommend a book!


Kathy's Response:

My favorite genre is literary fiction. Some of my favorite recent reads are Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz.


Mandy's Response:

My favorite genre has to be mystery/horror. I have yet to find a book that surpasses It by Stephen King enough for me to recommend someone read it. However, I would be willing to accept recommendations from you all if you'd like to suggest a book or two.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

{2013 TBR Pile Challenge Review} The Godforsaken by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

ISBN #: 978-0446301022
Page Count: 393
Copyright: May 1983
Publisher: Warner Books Inc (Mm); First Edition


Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

As the Inquisition spread its fiery fingers across the land of Spain, holding kingdom and king in its terrible grip, a new horror would rise to challenge even the invincible power of the Grand Inquisitor. A curse on the house of King Alonzo that came from the very Devil.

A curse that would leave his daughter unfit to marry or rule. A curse that would transform his only legitimate son, Rolon, into the very Hound of Hell, whose unspeakable secret bloomed under the full moon of a country where terror came in mother's milk and vengeance roamed abroad. Rolon, the chosen, the damned. Rolon, the kind, blessed with a compassionate soul and a great and tragic love; cursed by a secret plague sent by Lucifer Himself. Rolon, Heir to the Throne of Spain, who dared to defy the Inquisition in the ungodly raiment of The Godforsaken.


Mandy's Review:

I chose this book because I like reading about werewolves and curses (especially where families are concerned). I was also intrigued about the time period because I like period-based books and had not read one based during the Spanish Inquisition before ... that I can recall anyway. But, just like my other TBR Pile Challenge selections that I've read so far, I didn't like this book.

There was almost 400 pages of reading that could have really been condensed in half. I found it a very tedious and boring read. I had to stop multiple times and read something else. Then I would have to force myself to begin reading this book again. I think the premise is a great one. I think the characters are well-thought out and believable. I just didn't like this author's writing style. I know that statement may garner a lot of criticisms from you all because I've seen where Chelsea Quinn Yarbro is well-liked ... she's just not for me.

Alas, another TBR book bites the dust and dies a painful death. I hope and pray my fourth selection (Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick) is much better.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

{Review} The Rockin' Chair by Steven Manchester

ISBN #: 978-1611880670
Page Count: 272
Copyright: June 18, 2013
Publisher: The Story Plant


Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

Memories are the ultimate contradiction. They can warm us on our coldest days - or they can freeze a loved one out of our lives forever. The McCarthy family has a trove of warm memories. Of innocent first kisses. Of sumptuous family meals. Of wondrous lessons learned at the foot of a rocking chair. But they also have had their share of icy ones. Of words that can never be unsaid. Of choices that can never be unmade. Of actions that can never be undone.

Following the death of his beloved wife, John McCarthy - Grandpa John - calls his family back home. It is time for them to face the memories they have made, both warm and cold. Only then can they move beyond them and into the future.


Mandy's Review:

I think I've finally figured out what it is I love about Steven Manchester's books. All of his main characters have faith and belief in God and they do their best to honor Him, but they're still real people. Some of them still cuss. Some get angry. Some are hardheaded. They're not holier than thou. They're believable. They're relatable. They're you and me.

John's wife is suffering from Alzheimer's when the book begins. Her death makes him realize that he has some "chores" to do before he can go be with her. The chores involve helping out his son and grandchildren realize their potential and love for each other.

With simple "backwoods" country wisdom, John gently guides everyone along the path towards realization. Okay, sometimes he gives them a hard shove into that realization, but it's needed. John reminded me of my own grandfather (who, ironically, was called Johnny by my grandmother): never cruel, always loving, never judgmental, always there. I miss him.

A wonderful family story about perception and the redeeming quality of forgiveness, of yourself and others, The Rockin' Chair is another fantastic edition to Steven Manchester's literary works. All of his books are simply told but with a lot of heart. Read them.


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

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

{Review} What If? by Jeffrey M. Daniels

ISBN #: 978-1609104993
Page Count: 256
Copyright: October 20, 2010
Publisher: Booklocker.com


Book Summary:
(As provided by the author)

Jeremy Shuttle is a reasonably normal boy of twelve. Sure he talks to ants, but so far they haven't kept up their end of the conversation. He lives with his Mom, having never met his Dad. His Mom has promised him the whole story for his 13th birthday. Jeremy is especially talented at two things, drawing and asking weird "What if?" questions. He amazes his Mom and his best friend, Natalie, with the first and annoys his classmates with the second, including his "arch-enemy," Eddie Vane.

Heading home from school, Jeremy noticed a strange art store manned by an even stranger shopkeeper. The man questions Jeremy about something called the "collective unconscious," asks him for a sketch and gives Jeremy a lovely new sketchbook. The next day, Eddie picks on Natalie in class and Jeremy rises to her defense, embarrassing Eddie and earning himself a beating in the locker room. Drawing away his frustration, Jeremy and Natalie find that his drawing has become real ... and more kids than Eddie are hurt.

Give the power to make anything you draw become real into the hands of an imaginative 12-year old boy and fantastic adventures are bound to happen. But Natalie notices a sinister pattern; every time Jeremy uses the book he gets into greater danger. She tries to get him to stop and, predictably, he ignores her. Jeremy hits on the idea to use the sketchbook to bring back his missing Dad. This final time, his Mom and Natalie are drawn into the peril and it will take the three of them, with help from a surprising source, to escape the danger.


Mandy's Review:

Despite the saying "don't judge a book by its cover" we do just that. Admit it. When we walk into a section of books (whether it be the library, grocery store, or bookstore) we are automatically drawn to the covers we like and are willing to read what they're about. The covers that don't entice us, we quickly glance over and decide it's not worth the time to read the summary on the back. I say this because when I first saw the cover art for this book, I mistakenly thought it was written for a younger audience. And, in a way, it is. However, the "what if?" questions are sometimes more than a younger audience could comprehend.

The imagination that went into writing this book is excellent. A younger audience would certainly be drawn to that aspect of this book. It's also intriguing and interesting enough to hold the attention of an older audience (me, for example).

I actually fell in love with this book. Jeremy was very relatable and endearing. His smart mouth is his weakness as it often gets him into more trouble than he needs. I am eager to see what happens in the second book of this series. If you're looking for a book that will stretch your imagination and let you lose yourself for a little while then you should read the Jeremy Shuttle series (well ... at least the first book).


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

Monday, June 10, 2013

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


It's that time for everyone to share what they've read last week and what they'll be reading this week. And away we go ...

Kathy:

Last week, we posted reviews from Kathy for Beirut: An Explosive Thriller by Alexander McNabb (for review) and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (for Back to the Classics Challenge).

Here's what she's reading this week:


For thousands of years human beings have dreamed of immortality, of reversing the aging process, of enhancing beauty and retaining the vigor and vitality of youth - forever. In the year 2059 this dream is at last within our grasp. But as biologic engineers finally achieve total control over the fundamental mechanics of life and the ability to change the course of human evolution, will this awesome power alter the meaning of love, the nature of relationships and society, and even the very definition of what it means to be human?


What's Stephanie up to now?

Her Uncle Fred has disappeared. A body turns up in a garbage bag. She's got a nasty bookie following her around town. Grandma Mazur has her hands on the stun gun. Stephanie can't keep a car for more than forty-eight hours. Two men are trying to get her into bed. She has nothing to wear to the Mafia wedding. And there's an angry little man (don't call him a dwarf!) who won't leave her apartment.


It's Easter at Princeton. Seniors are scrambling to finish their theses. And two students, Tom Sullivan and Paul Harris, are a hair's breadth from solving the mysteries of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili - a renowned text attributed to an Italian nobleman, a work that has baffled scholars since its publication in 1499. For Tom, their research has been a link to his family's past - and an obstacle to the woman he loves. For Paul, it has become an obsession, the very reason for living. But as their deadline looms, research has stalled - until a long-lost diary surfaces with a vital clue. And when a fellow researcher is murdered just hours later, Tom and Paul realize that they are not the first to glimpse the Hypnerotomachia's secrets.


Mandy:

Last week we posted one review from Mandy for We Do Not Wrestle with Flesh and Blood by B. R. Smith (for review).

Here's what she's reading this week:


A rare meteorite struck Alex Woods when he was ten years old, leaving scars and marking him for an extraordinary future. The son of a fortune teller, bookish, and an easy target for bullies, Alex hasn't had the easiest childhood.

But when he meets curmudgeonly widower Mr. Peterson, he finds an unlikely friend. Someone who teaches him that you only get one shot at life. That you have to make it count.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

{2013 TBR Pile Challenge} The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

ISBN #: 978-0312282998
Page Count: 636
Copyright: August 25, 2001
Publisher: Picador; Reprint


Book Summary:
(Taken from Goodreads)

Joe Kavalier, a young Jewish artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdini-esque escape, has just smuggled himself out of Nazi-invaded Prague and landed in New York City. His Brooklyn cousin Sammy Clay is looking for a partner to create heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit America - the comic book. Drawing on their own fears and dreams, Kavalier and Clay create the Escapist, the Monitor, and Luna Moth, inspired by the beautiful Rosa Saks, who will become linked by powerful ties to both men.

With exhilarating style and grace, Michael Chabon tells an unforgettable story about American romance and possibility.


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

Michael Chabon is one of my favorite authors. I always get the sense when I am reading his novels that I am in the hands of someone much smarter and wittier than me. In Kavalier & Clay, Chabon enters 1940's America, with two young men who create a comic book hero, The Escapist, and from there grow an impressive comic book empire and legacy. We follow cousins Sammy Clay and Josef Cavalier as they grow up, the nation goes to war, they grow apart and eventually come back together. And some other stuff happens too.

My interest with this book ebbed and flowed, waxed and waned. Of the Chabon books I've read it was probably somewhere in the middle of the pack in terms of my favorites. But, there are people who go absolutely GAGA over this book, and you may be one of them. If you:

a.) Love comic books;

b.) Enjoy reading about WWII and the Nazis;

c.) Have a Harvard-grad level vocab

d.) Have spare time to read a 600+ page novel

I should mention that there's an element of homosexuality in this novel as well, so if that's not your thang then you may be put off by it.

Also, as all of Chabon's novels are, this is grossly long and dense. It's not a beach read. You have to use your brain and concentrate and not skim, or you'll miss something important. Sometimes a key word is just buried in the middle of a paragraph and it can turn everything on its ear. Watch out for that.

All in all, I'm glad I read it, and I can knock it off my TBR Pile. But it's not for the Average Joe or Jane. Oh, but it did win a Pulitzer in 2001.



Saturday, June 8, 2013

{Review} We Do Not Wrestle With Flesh and Blood by B.R. Smith

ASIN #: B005CD0Q4U
File Size: 249 KB
Page Count: 242
Copyright: July 11, 2011
Publisher: B. R. Smith Books; First Edition


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

This remarkable true story relates the conflicts of a young man seeking truth and freedom in central London in the early 2000s. Set against a fast-paced dialogue between wildly diverse cultures - American, English, and Russian - it tells how the subtle deceptions of evil can eventually destroy a life.

When Benjamin leaves small town Texas for college in London, he seeks only one kind of salvation: freedom from the crushing boredom of a safe life lived within the margins, and its predictable nine-to-five future. Daring to ask if there was more to existence than a report card and a resume, he sets out to join Alex, the son of a Russian oligarch, at a prestigious English business school.

The plan seems simple - Make powerful friends, and then make a ton of money. And from effortless power and money, freedom would follow. Somehow.

We Do Not Wrestle with Flesh and Blood is a witty but profound spiritual testimony about what goes wrong. Preyed upon by one of Alex's sycophantic friends, Benjamin's ambitions deteriorate into a haze of drugs and alcohol. The crisis brings him to a traumatic death experience, and a choice that will have eternal consequences.


Mandy's Review:

This review may end up being harsh. I say "may" end up because I'm not sure how I'm going to vocalize the way I feel about this book. Before I go into what I do not like or disagree with, let me start by saying that I do believe there are spiritual forces fighting for control. I believe that each person's soul is an object of interest for the two opposing spiritual forces. So, saying that, I believe that a person can have a life-and-death experience giving them clarity into how they should live their life. Now, let's get to the actual book ...

Ben lived in a small Texas town. When he was in high school, he had the urge to get out of town. His parents allowed him to go to school overseas. He winds up going back home before the school year is up and right before he gets kicked out of the school. While back in Texas, he convinces his parents to give him a second chance overseas. He winds up going to college overseas as well. While there, Ben meets Alex and, through Alex, Ivan. Both are Russians. Alex begins seeming a little aloof, so Ben starts hanging out with Ivan more. Ivan introduces Ben to drugs and Ben becomes addicted. His addictions have him concerned that he's failing college, but he doesn't stop doing drugs.

One fateful night, Ben dies ... or does he? He believes that he did. As a reader of his experience, it almost seems like it was a mind-trick and that he didn't really die. I feel as if he was made to feel like he died when he really didn't. Regardless, the experience has him crying out to God and Jesus to be saved. He then has a fortuitous event where he meets an African minister who talks to him about God and leads him into the sinner's prayer. The book ends shortly after and we're left to believe that Ben has had a major heart-change and is no longer drinking or doing drugs.

Ben is a very privileged individual. How many parents do you know that would allow their teenage child to go overseas to school? If the parents are willing to let them go, how many of them have the funds to actually facilitate the move ... not once, but twice?! Also, Ben has a Porsche!!! His parents ship his Porsche to him while he's oversees, but he's unsatisfied with it. Then he makes a comment later on in the book that his parent's financial situation has finally improved. Forgive me, but WHAT THE EFF?!!! Are you kidding me?! At the beginning of the book Ben makes it sound like he's from some podunk town full of small minds and lack of money. Apparently, it couldn't have been too bad if he was able to fly overseas several times AND have his very own Porsche. *smh*

Then, one of my major pet peeves took place time and time again in this book. Ben blamed others for his drinking, drug use, and just general overall lack of success in his life. Ben, I say this with all the love and sincerity I can muster ... Grow up. Nobody forced you to drink. Nobody forced you to have pre-marital sex. Nobody forced you to do drugs. You did those all on your own. You made the decisions to partake in those acts and you did those all out of fear. Fear of what others would think of you. Fear that you would be by yourself overseas with nobody to hang out with or talk to. What you went through was brought on by the decisions you made.

This story is a classic example of the type of people who make bad decisions then don't want to deal with the consequences of those decisions or turn around and blame others. Thankfully, God is not human and does not think as we do. He is merciful and gracious every day all day long. He even accepts those that are in the midst of problems of their own making and He will accept them as they are.

Lord, help me to be more like You.


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