Sunday, November 24, 2013

{Review} THE HEAVENS RISE by Christopher Rice

ISBN #: 978-1476716084
Page Count: 336
Copyright: October 15, 2013
Publisher: Gallery Books; First Edition


Book Summary:
(Taken from dustjacket flaps)

It's been a decade since the Delongpre family vanished near Bayou Rabineaux, and still no one can explain the events of that dark and sweltering night. No one except Niquette Delongpre, the survivor who ran away from the mangled stretch of guardrail on Highway 22 where the impossible occurred ... and kept on running. Who left behind her best friends, Ben and Anthem, to save them from her newfound capacity for destruction ... and who alone knows the source of her very bizarre - and very deadly - abilities: an isolated strip of swampland called Elysium.

An accomplished surgeon, Niquette's father dreamed of transforming the dense acreage surrounded by murky waters into a palatial compound befitting the name his beloved wife gave to it, Elysium: "the final resting place for the heroic and virtuous." Then, ten years ago, construction workers dug into a long-hidden well, one that snaked down into the deep, black waters of the Louisiana swamp and stirred something that had been there for centuries - a microscopic parasite that perverts the mind and corrupts the body.

Niquette is living proof that things done can't be undone. Nothing will put her family back together again. And nothing can save her. But as Niquette, Ben, and Anthem uncover the truth of a devastating parasite that has the potential to alter the future of humankind, Niquette grasps the most chilling truths of all: someone else has been infected too. And unlike her, this man is not content to live in the shadows. He is intent to use his newfound powers for one reason only: revenge.


Mandy's Review:

Well, boys and girls, if this wasn't one of the biggest mind-f@&!$ of all-time, I don't know what is ... and I loved it.

First, let me start by clarifying something for you. The book summary implies that Ben and Anthem knew about Nicquette's surviving the crash through the guardrail. They did not. They lived for eight years or so thinking that she and her family had died in the crash. They were heartbroken. Ben eventually begins to uncover the truth, but doesn't fully realize it until he comes face-to-face with her father.

Marshall (WE ARE ... MARSH-ALL! Sorry, I thought of that every time I saw his name) is a good-looking, well-to-do young man, but he has a violent streak in him that makes him cray-cray. His exposure to the parasite at Elysium enhances the craziness within him. Marshall uses his powers to seek revenge on Nicquette, her family and friends, and those who looked over his trust fund.

Eventually, good does win over evil, but at a cost that was never foreseen.

As I mentioned above, I loved this book. I loved the mental trip it took me on. I loved the imagination and ingenuity of the author. Christopher Rice is certainly someone whose books I will be reading more of ... as should you.


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

Saturday, November 23, 2013

{Review} ETERNAL DREAMS: THE CURSE OF MEMORIES by Christopher Compton

ASIN #: B00D02Z1G8
File Size: 543 KB
Page Count: 228
Copyright: May 24, 2013
Publisher: Virtualbookworm.com Publishing


Book Summary:
(Taken from Goodreads)

Eternal Dreams is a fiction fantasy tale about six teenage friends who escape into a dream world to hide away from the horrors of their own lives, only to find that reality is catching up to them anyway. Drephoria, the name of the stunning dream world created from their collective minds, will test the limits of their friendship, break the balance between good and evil and prove the true value of memories and the imagination.

The first book in the trilogy, "The Curse of Memories," focuses on the central character Kail and his dark past, told through memories, while simultaneously introducing the rest of his friends (known as The Inseparable Six) and the other strange and deadly inhabitants of Drephoria. Pitted against the dark queen Malise and her legendary allies known as The Forgotten Four, Kail and his friends must rid their world of evil before they lose themselves forever. Nostalgic, thrilling, heart-breaking, and consistently memorable, Eternal Dreams is a fantasy at its finest.


Kathy's Review:

I know I’m jaded from having read so many of these YA-type stories, which all seem to begin in the same fashion … a group of friends stumbles upon something magical, and of course our main character has major powers he never knew about. So forgive me if I’m not impressed with the premise.

Going into a world of dreams that is created by their own minds is kind of cool, but really fails to deliver in any sort of meaningful way.

This book also suffers from Too Many Character Syndrome. Six friends are the center of this book. The author does a much better developing the male characters than he does the female, so my suggestion would be to lose the girls. Or make it two boys and two girls. Having exotic names such as Kail, Cora, Thalia and Kanoa doesn’t really help me distinguish them in my mind.

Not surprisingly, this book leaves a lot of loose ends at its conclusion, which suggests a sequel, if not a series. It’s not one that I would continue with because I haven’t invested in any of the characters, except perhaps Kail and Kanoa, at the book’s end.

I will say that the author’s writing itself is solid, but lacks some of the basic elements of a good novel. Cool idea, but just ok on the execution.

Friday, November 22, 2013

{Blog Tour: Excerpt, Review & Giveaway} CORRELATION by Mia Grace

ASIN #: B00GISKFWQ
File Size: 473 KB
Page Count: 200
Copyright: November 6, 2013
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing, LLC


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

When the past and the present collide…

Hailey Kent knows how she wants to spend the summer before her junior year in high school: hanging out at the pool with Jenna, her BFF; riding her new trail bike on Vermont’s country roads; and flirting with Jenna’s hot older brother, Cody.

Hailey’s plans are shattered when a post-graduation accident puts her brother into a coma. Feeling guilty for not stopping him from going out that night, she seeks solace in exploring an old house and its overgrown gardens.

A mysterious correlation of events propels her back in time to the Vietnam War era, where she realizes she can use her knowledge of one boy’s fate to save his life.

But first, Hailey needs to convince him of her sanity.


Book Links:

Red Adept Publishing (Includes book tour page)


About the Author:


Mia Grace grew up in the Midwest and now resides in the beautiful state of Vermont. Her young adult novels include FOUND DAYS, a coming of age story with a surprising twist, and CORRELATION, a young adult time travel that takes the reader back to the tumultuous Vietnam era. She's currently working on a young adult time travel series.


Book Excerpt:

Chapter One

“I can’t believe how bad we were!” Hailey Kent stood on the sidelines of the sunny playing field and brushed the loose dirt from the front of her Fenton High T-shirt. On the expanse of trampled grass before her, the two remaining pairs of sophomore girls moved in perfect synchrony toward the finish of the three-legged sack race.

Hailey swiped sweat from her forehead with a gritty forearm as she watched the lead couple. “Look at Lexie and Jess. They’re speed demons.”

“They’re coordinated,” Jenna Wells answered. “And they have a system.”

“We had a system. You just don’t know your right leg from your left.” Hailey rubbed the grass stains from her knees. “We’re going to have to hit your pool after this.” She stood up and shaded her eyes with one hand, peering toward the baseball diamond in the distance.

A familiar figure stepped up to bat in the softball game in progress between the seniors and the faculty. Cody. He stood poised over the plate, his practice swings confident as he faced the faculty pitcher. Her heart flip-flopped. “Is that Cody?”

Jenna followed the direction of Hailey’s gaze and scrunched her cute little pug nose at the sight of her older brother. “Yep. The weirdo was all psyched this morning about this game. Is David playing?”

Hailey’s delightful vision of Cody at the breakfast table faded at the mention of her own brother. “No, he’s skipping school today.”

Jenna’s chocolate brown eyes went wide in mock disbelief. “Skip a field day? His last one ever?”

“Don’t remind me.” Hailey turned back to the grassy field in time to see the last of her sack-racing classmates lurch across the finish line. “I have to give up my birthday so we can celebrate his stupid graduation. He’d skip that, too, if my parents would let him.” Just talking about it made her teeth clench.

Jenna picked up the sweatshirt she had tossed on the grass. “What did your mom say about the taco party?”

“I can do it next weekend.” Hailey mimicked her mom’s voice, “‘David’s only going to graduate once, but you can have a birthday party any time.’ Like turning sixteen is no big deal.”

“Maybe it’s for the best. More kids’ll be able to come next weekend.”

Hailey couldn’t resist smirking at her impish friend, who’d recently dyed a streak of ruby red in her long blond hair against her mother’s wishes. “Plus maybe you won’t be grounded by then.”

Their classmates were coming in from the sidelines to meet at the finish line, a clump of rowdy teenage girls in short shorts and Fenton tees celebrating the end of the school year with cheers and high-fives.

As she and Hailey strolled across the sunny lawn to join them, Jenna asked, “Do you think your folks’re going to get you that off-road bike?”

“I hope so. We’ve got to stay in shape so we can kick butt next year.”

Jenna gave her a playful grin. “Uh, we?”

Hailey grinned back at her. “Yeah, we—you and me, sister. We’re biking every day this summer. And next year, we’re smokin’ this race.”


Mandy's Review:

This book was a tad slow-going for me in the beginning, but once it got a couple chapters in it picked up and kept my interest. Although, I must say, I didn't understand why Ms. Wells would get so irritated so quickly when Hailey was asking her about the abandoned house and the family that lived there. She seemed like a nice lady who liked to talk about the "old days" but would then become disturbed whenever Hailey kept coming up with off-the-wall questions. Maybe that was just her personality ...

I do love a good time-travel novel (i.e. BID TIME RETURN by Richard Matheson) and CORRELATION fit the bill. It was a little jarring going from Part I to Part II, but once I realized what was going on I got back into it. The author did a good job of integrating the characters into past and present. I did hate that a particular character died at a young age (twice). I was looking forward to "meeting" him as an old man, but then that would've changed fate just a little too much, wouldn't it?

If you love time-travel stories that are a quick, easy read, then I think you would enjoy CORRELATION.


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


Giveaway:

Thursday, November 21, 2013

{Review} MR LYNCH'S HOLIDAY by Catherine O'Flynn

ISBN #: 978-0805091816
Page Count: 272
Copyright: October 8, 2013
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.


Description:
(Taken from back cover)

A holiday to visit his son promises more than one man bargained for...

This fortnight’s trip to Spain is the first time Dermot Lynch, a retired bus driver and recent widower, has left Birmingham in many years. When he finally arrives at the gates of his son Eamonn’s crumbling development, it is not what he had imagined. But despite its faltering exterior, Dermot finds something beautiful and nostalgic in the development’s decline - reminiscent of his childhood in Ireland. Soon he is the center of attention in the tiny clan of expats where paranoid speculation, goat hunting, and drinking are just some of the ways to pass the long, sunny days in this strange paradise. As the happenings within the gates take a peculiar turn, father and son slowly begin to peel back their pasts, and they uncover a shocking secret at the heart of this ad hoc community.


Charlene's Review:

When Dermot decides to holiday at his son, Eamonn’s, neither he, or Eamonn can foretell the changes about to take place in their lives. Living in a state of depression, Eamonn is pining away for his love, who left to think things over, and Dermot, still adjusting to the death of his wife, is searching for a deeper connection to his son. The deserted, neglected community cause both to take a long look at the past as they grow into an awareness of themselves and each other.

I loved the idea of this book. The interpersonal look into a man and his grown son, awkward at interacting, yet both in need of each other. Using flashbacks from both perspectives, we see how the men have reached the point in their lives and how they learned to cope. The community’s neighbors throw in a bit of color to the narrative, although I didn’t quite feel how they added to the overall storyline.

I felt the nostalgia and longing within the pages, but wrestled with the back and forth of the time line, along with less than necessary additions. Some of the plot seemed superfluous, as it had nothing at all to do with the relationship of the two men. I finished the book with more questions than answers, but Dermot’s personality shined through as the saving grace of this story. I’d say, overall, it was enjoyable enough, but a little too hurried in the end.


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

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

{Review} THE FEMALE VETERAN by Ty Will

ISBN #: 978-1478705895
Page Count: 126
Copyright: June 20, 2013
Publisher: Outskirts Press


Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

On the heels of the Oscar-nominated documentary, "The Invisible War," comes a story that everyone who has a mother, daughter, aunt, sister or grandmother in the Armed Forces should read.

Over 3000 female veterans file MST (Military Sexual Trauma) reports every year. In 2010, a survey was sent out to all Armed Forces, the results showed more than 19,000 female veterans had been sexually harassed. That is more than 50 veterans a day!


About the Author:

Ty Will served in the Army Reserves from 1987-1989. She went into active duty from 1989 - 1992 then returned to the Reserves until she was honorably discharged in 1995. She served on a secret Drug Interdiction Mission and was awarded the Army Achievement Medal in 1991. Despite receiving this achievement, she has never actually received the medal, like so many other soldiers.


Mandy's Review:

Let me start my review by saying that I believe MST to be a real problem in the military, especially with the influx of women soldiers over the years. Granted, you piss a bunch of men off by invading the boys' club and things like this happen. I'm not making excuses, but something like this should have been anticipated and prepared for. Of course, with the military being previously testosterone-driven, I can see why it wasn't anticipated and why it needs to be remedied now.

Also, I agree that women veterans suffering from legitimate MST problems need a viable venue for receiving help. Throwing a woman suffering from MST in a room of men will only set her healing back. However, I also believe that you can only help people who want to be helped. People only going to therapy to seek attention aren't doing themselves any good and they're wasting people's time and money.

All of that being said ... I didn't like this book.

First of all, the "author" didn't write this book. She simply copied notes and reports from her various therapists, sometimes adding (what I'm sure she thought was funny) notes at the end of each. The comments weren't funny and I didn't laugh ... once.

Personally, I think this lady's issues began way before she joined the military. Her mood swings, cursing, and general personality just made me want to scream. For every rape story you hear about where the lady can't deal with, there's other rape stories you don't hear about where the lady dealt with it, moved on, and is living a happy life. I should know. I'm one of them.

Your life is what you make of it. If you choose to dwell in pain and misery, then that's what you're going to have in your life. If you choose to deal with your situation and problem and actually heal, then you can move forward and be happy again. It's YOUR choice. I don't feel pity for those who CHOOSE to dwell in their pain and misery. You can call me heartless if you want to, but I won't lose any sleep over it. After all, we are supposed to write honest reviews, right?


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

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

{Review} MOTHERLINE by Lisa Rosen

ISBN #: 978-0989370103
Page Count: 256
Copyright: September 1, 2013
Publisher: Morgan and Dawson Publishing; 1st Edition


Description:
(Taken from back cover)

You know those days in a family--weddings, funerals, births--when everyone comes together and all that history and garbage fester and boil and sometimes explode?

Well, this is one of those days. Maggie is in labor. When the first contractions ripple across her belly, she has no idea what to expect. She knows what she wants. She wants that perfect birth from the movies, with her family gathered around, welcoming her baby, helping her become the perfect mother.

More than anything, though, she wants her mother to be there for her, but relationships between mothers and daughters are often complicated. Her husband Sam would do anything for Maggie, but as their families converge on the hospital for this birth, he can't keep the craziness at bay.

Through a series of flashbacks, as well as events in the labor room, Maggie digs more deeply into her painful past. Memories bubble to the surface, forcing her to re-examine the tragic accident that killed her baby brother. Relationships between mothers and daughters are often complicated. But in order to learn what it means to be a mother, Maggie finally has to face her own mother, and find a way to both forgive and be forgiven.


Charlene's Review:

Already past her due date, Maggie has a plan on how her labor and delivery should go. When she finds herself in actual labor, things quickly take a downward turn as she realizes she is not in control, and she has a lot of her own mother baggage to overcome before she, herself, can welcome a baby into her life. As she prepares her body to deliver, Maggie’s mind flashes back to the pivotal moment in her life that changed her relationship with her own mother.

In Motherline, Ms. Rosen introduces us to the ambivalence, fears, and ultimate joy of childbirth.While focusing on the birth experience with great detail and insight, she also manages to weave in the personal relationship between mother and daughter, that defines most women’s own parenting. I was drawn into the book by the honesty and raw emotion shown in Maggie’s struggle to forgive, as well as her fears that she might not be the kind of mother she feels she should be.

Any woman that has given birth, or is thinking of giving birth, will appreciate the emotions expressed. This is not a feel-good, fairy tale birth. This is real, raw emotion that many women experience. The flashbacks complete the story, flawlessly, as the past reconciles with the present, and future. Ms. Rosen’s exquisite writing style is refreshing. I highly recommend this book.

5 out of 5 stars!


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

Sunday, November 17, 2013

{Review} ROCK MY WORLD by Sharisse Coulter

ASIN #: B00B67IGV6
File Size: 490 KB
Page Count: 270
Copyright: January 25, 2013


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Jenna Jax-Anders hit rock bottom in high school. Or so she thought. From rock star heiress to knocked-up has been, she turned it all around, marrying the punk rock baby daddy love of her life. The perfect Hollywood fairytale. Until the day she walked in on him kissing her best friend.

As she struggles to find herself and redefine the world around her, she faces the challenges of raising her over-achieving teenage daughter, the heartbreak of losing her best friend (backstabbing aside), and emerging from the shadows of two famous last names to find her own identity. Oh, there’s also the tiny issue of her husband’s record label, backed by an anonymous mogul whose morally ambiguous creative direction may ruin them all.

But she doesn’t know about that yet.


Mandy's Review:

I have a problem with women being oblivious to their internal instincts. We (women) all have them. Jenna had little warning signals going off in her head since HIGH SCHOOL and she ignored them. Then, when her life falls apart, she is so confused how it happened. Ugh!!! I cannot stand weak-willed women. And, ladies, for those of you who may be a little bit oblivious, let me give you a clue: usually if your man and your best friend "hate" each other, it is usually caused by some sexual tension from one or both parties. You'd better get that mess straightened out from the get-go!

Anyhow, now that I've stepped down from my soapbox ... Jenna's husband was mostly innocent of the misunderstanding that happened. I say mostly because he did allow another woman to kiss him at one point and he did agree to hide something that happened during high school. Other than that, though, he's a good guy and deserves to be happy.

Their daughter is independent and is, surprisingly, well-rounded and level-headed. Although, she would rather spend more time at her grandparent's house than her parent's.

Airika, who is supposed to be Jenna's best friend, is the biggest self-centered person I know. She usually doesn't do anything for anyone unless there's something in it for her. When her problems with Jenna start, she realizes that she actually misses Jenna and their friendship. She even begins to feel an emotion she's never felt before: guilt.

Eventually all things work out for those involved, but not without some heartache, drama, and backstabbing. Overall, this is an interesting, although somewhat unrealistic, read. I just found Jenna too much of a drama queen for my liking.


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

Saturday, November 16, 2013

{Review} TURNING THIS THING AROUND by Keith Maginn

ISBN #: 978-1481276184
Page Count: 134
Copyright: December 22, 2012
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


Description:
(Taken from back cover)

Turning This Thing Around is a brutally honest, deeply personal account of redemption takes readers on a moving spiritual journey.

Confronted with a myriad of obstacles–a debilitating arthritic disease, narcolepsy, anxiety and depression–the author was outwardly happy, but inwardly miserable. Pushed to the lowest point of his life, Maginn shares how he gradually turned things around and used his experiences to grow as a person.

Supplemented by heartfelt poetry by the author and with quotes from Gandhi to Dr. Wayne Dyer to Eckhart Tolle, Turning This Thing Around has universal themes that speak to nearly everyone, as we all must face challenges as part of being human. It is a self-help memoir of sorts: the author discusses not only what he overcame, but also how he did so–and how others can, too.

Unlike many popular memoirs on the market, this is a story that more people can relate to. Maginn was not raised in an eccentric family (Jeannette Walls in The Glass Castle, memoirs by Augusten Burroughs), nor did he travel to Italy, India and Indonesia, as Elizabeth Gilbert did in Eat, Pray, Love. Rather, Turning This Thing Around is a story of a normal young man’s resiliency when battling extraordinary circumstances.


Charlene's Review:

Mr. Maginn bares his very soul inside the pages of this book. This no-apologies memoir gives the reader insight into his life and mind during the course of several years, and a myriad of health issues, and personal loss. There is nothing fancy here, only a true desire to speak the truth as he knows it.

Sharing how he sunk into despair, and ultimately rose from it, Mr. Maginn explains in simple terms, and occasional quotes from other well-known authors, how he made the choice to overcome his pain, and the exact steps he made to achieve healing.

I read this in one sitting, not only because of its brevity, but also because of the sheer heart with which it was written. I could feel the empathy he has for others, as well as his desire to become a better person. Anyone suffering with illness or self-esteem issues will benefit from reading this book. I wish Mr. Maginn luck in his future endeavors. I do not believe he is done trying to make the world a more whole, healthy place.


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

Friday, November 15, 2013

{2013 TBR Pile Challenge} Checking In


For this being the next-to-last check-in, we're not in as good a position as we'd like to be. Kathy has four books left on her list and Mandy has three. We're hoping to finish them, but with the holidays literally right around the corner ... who knows. Below is what we've finished so far. You can check out our complete lists by clicking on the 2013 Reading Challenges link to the right.

Kathy:

11/22/63 by Stephen King
Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris
by Michael Chabon
Life of Pi by Yann Martel


Mandy:

11/22/63 by Stephen King
Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison
The Godforsaken by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
A Time to Kill by John Grisham
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Falling Under by Gwen Hayes
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Thursday, November 14, 2013

{Review} AUNTY LEE'S DELIGHTS by Ovidia Yu

ISBN #: 978-0062227157
Page Count: 288
Copyright: September 17, 2013
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks


Description:
(Taken from back cover)

After losing her husband, Rosie Lee could have become one of Singapore's "tai tai," an idle rich lady. Instead she is building a culinary empire from her restaurant, Aunty Lee's Delights, where spicy Singaporean meals are graciously served to locals and tourists alike. But when a body is found in one of Singapore's tourist havens and one of her guests fails to show at a dinner party, Aunty Lee knows that the two events are likely connected.

The murder and disappearance throws together Aunty Lee's henpecked stepson, Mark, his social-climbing wife, Selina, a gay couple whose love is still illegal in Singapore, and an elderly Australian tourist couple whose visit may mask a deeper purpose. Investigating the murder are Police Commissioner Raja and Senior Staff Sergeant Salim, who quickly discover that Aunty Lee's sharp nose for intrigue can sniff out clues that elude law enforcers.

Wise, witty, and charming, Aunty Lee's Delights is a spicy mystery about love, friendship, and food in Singapore, where money flows freely and people of many religions and ethnicities coexist peacefully, but where tensions lurk just below the surface, sometimes with deadly consequences.


Charlene's Review:

Aunty Lee, a widowed, wealthy busybody runs a restaurant that pairs wine and Singaporean dishes. When a body washes up on the beach, and two diners go missing, Aunty Lee knows there is a connection. While the authorities question the dinner party guests, Aunty Lee works on her own investigation.

I looked forward to reading this "foodie novel" for various reasons. Learning more of a new culture, and its cuisine is always enjoyable for me. Aunty Lee came across as a real sassy heroine, but I didn’t feel the connection with the characters as much as I’d like, or gain enough insight into Singapore and it’s dishes to satisfy. There were far too many undertones happening that didn’t help fill out the plot, although I assume that Ms. Yu was setting the reader up for future Aunty Lee mysteries.

All that being said, I wasn’t completely dissatisfied. There was a grace and humor to Aunty Lee that I enjoyed, and the food, while not thoroughly described, sounds amazing. I would have loved to learn more through this novel. The accompanying publicity pamphlet I received with the book held quite a bit more information than the novel, about "All Things Singapore."

I would be open to reading any follow-up mysteries, just to see if the characters are more fleshed out, and more culture revealed. Perhaps, with this novel, I was expecting too much. This is a mystery for those that like their mysteries light. Pleasant enough reading, but left me hungry for more.


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

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

{2013 TBR Pile Challenge - Review} 11/22/63 by Stephen King

ISBN #: 978-1451627282
Page Count: 849
Copyright: November 8, 2011
Publisher: Scribner


Book Summary:
(Taken from dustjacket flap)

In this brilliantly conceived tour de force, Stephen King - who has absorbed the social, political, and popular culture of his generation more imaginatively and thoroughly than any other writer - takes readers on an incredible journey into the past and the possibility of altering it.

It begins with Jake Epping, a thirty-five-year-old English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching GED classes. He asks his students to write about an event that changed their lives, and one essay blows him away - a gruesome, harrowing story about the night more than fifty years ago when Harry Dunning's father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a sledgehammer.

Reading the essay is a watershed moment for Jake, his life - like Harry's, like America's in 1963 - turning on a dime. Not much later his friend Al, who owns the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to the past, a particular day in 1958. And Al enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession - to prevent the Kennedy assassination.

So begins Jake's new life as George Amberson, in a different world of Ike and JFK and Elvis, of big American cars and sock hops and cigarette smoke everywhere. From the dank little city of Derry, Maine (where there's Dunning business to conduct), to the warmhearted small town of Jodie, Texas, where Jake falls dangerously in love, every turn is leading eventually, of course, to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and to Dallas, where the past becomes heart-stoppingly suspenseful, and where history might not be history anymore.

Time-travel has never been so believable. Or so terrifying.


Mandy's Review:

Oh my God - THIS is why I love Stephen King's work. When people say that he is a master storyteller, they are not wrong. This man's mind is overwhelmingly amaze-balls! I know many of you do not like Stephen King because when you hear his name you automatically think of horror. 11/22/63 is the perfect exemplification of King's genius in a non-horror setting.

Generally speaking, all the events that happen are every day, normal events. King has a knack for taking the every day situations and using them in an overall stunning way. He tweaks each situation, each event, just enough to make it still seem believable. I think that's what I love about King's writing; that he can do that yet make the overall story have an otherworldly or supernatural essence.

I also loved that he incorporated Derry, Maine into this story. It excited me to no end to see Bevvie and Richie again, although I did miss seeing the rest of the gang. For those who don't know what I'm referring to, Bevvie and Richie were two of the seven friends in King's book It. I felt like I was visiting friends again. It was bittersweet.

If you're curious about King's writing, but don't want to be scared half out of your gourd, then please read 11/22/63. I promise you I wouldn't steer you wrong.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

{Review} The Secret Eater by Ros Jackson

ASIN #: B00DWWP0AS
File Size: 247 KB
Page Count: 86
Copyright: July 12, 2013


Book Summary:
(Taken from Goodreads)

Kenssie is a demon who feeds from secrets. Lately pickings have been slim, and she has grown so weak that her shield of invisibility is slipping. As the servant of a demon who eats embarrassment she already feels like she's the laughing stock of the demonic world. But the scorn of someone who thinks that Hawaiian shirts are the height of cool is the least of her worries.

A powerful fear demon is dead set on making her his slave, a position that carries seriously short life expectancy.

She has no friends.

No powers.

No clue.

Her only hope of escaping a life of terror lies in stealing a grimoire she's never seen from the clutches of a vindictive group of master demons.


Kathy's Review:

The last book I read was way too long, and The Secret Eater has the opposite problem. More like an extended short story, The Secret Eater left me hungry for more. The main character, demon Kenssie, has some sass and smarts. She's easily likeable, and the world of demons is a new territory in an oversaturated supernatural genre of literature. There are so many possibilities for Kenssie's story. How did she come to be the thrall of Rakmannon? What are the different types of demons and why do they feed on different emotions? I'd love to know more.

I'm hoping this is just the beginning of Kenssie's story, or that the author can go back and fill in some of the gaps. I think it was written well, with humor and imagination, and I look forward to seeing what's next.


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

Sunday, November 10, 2013

{Book Spotlight: First Chapter Reveal & Ebook Giveaway} Creche by Karin Cox

Release Date: November 11, 2013


Book Blurb:

Still grieving the loss of Joslyn and the Sphinx Sabine, and craving revenge upon Beltran, his Vampire nemesis, Amedeo the Cruxim is destined to learn more about his past in the sequel to Karin Cox's critically acclaimed gothic paranormal romance Cruxim.

When he meets a female of his own kind, Skylar, who takes him to the hidden stronghold of Silvenhall Creche to learn Cruxim lore, the secrets revealed in the holy book of the Cruximus, and the lies told to him by his own kind, force Ame to question who he is really is, where his loyalties lie, and whether there is anything he desires more than vengeance.


About the Author:


Karin Cox edits and writes in her "spare time" while being a fulltime mum to a toddler and to a black cat with the improbable name of "Ping Pong."

She is the author of more than 30 trade-published natural history books, biographies, Australian social history books, children's picture storybooks, and travel guides, several of which have won awards. Karin has had poems and short stories published in anthologies worldwide and her ebooks CRUXIM, GROWTH, CAGE LIFE, HEY LITTLE SISTER and PANCAKES ON SUNDAY are available on Amazon.

Thankfully, the busier she gets, the more creative she is (and the more likely to afford to hire a housekeeper). Karin and her partner live in sunny Queensland, Australia, where she writes from her back deck overlooking the pool, her study (overlooking her messy desk) or her couch (overlooking Dr Phil, who gives her a lot of inspiration). You can follow her on twitter @Authorandeditor or visit her fanpage on Facebook www.facebook.com/KarinCox.Author. Also, feel free to email her on cruxim@hotmail.com.


First Chapter Reveal:

“Come.” The female Cruxim put out her hand to me, but I made no move to take it. I shrank away, as if her touch might scar me, even as some force greater than myself seemed to tug me toward her.

“Why should I follow you?”

She shrugged. “Why would you not?”

I passed my hand over my face, the sand scratching at the makings of a beard. That I felt it at all—that I felt anything—hurt me. I wanted nothingness, to be as blank and empty and ephemeral as a wave that might turn and roll far back out to sea, where the tortured statue of my Sphinx love, Sabine, had yesterday plummeted to the ocean’s depths. I half wished that instead of diving for her, I had flown at my enemy Beltran, the Vampire orchestrator of all of my sorrows, and had plunged my fangs into his neck. That I had ended it, and him, for good. Instead, once more Beltran had beaten me. Once more, he had escaped me. Once more, he had destroyed me.

“I don’t know you.” I vomited saltwater into the sand, but when I looked up, she was still standing, watching, her face a beautiful but indifferent mask.

“Leave me!” I flung one arm toward the sea. “I do not wish to know you.” But the eyes I turned on her were as curious as her own.

Her mouth quirked up a little at one corner, and then she answered. “You may … one day. I already know you.”

“Stalking is not knowing. Being Cruxim is not knowing.” I snorted. “You know nothing of me. You think you know me from seeing me once, in a circus—on a cross and in a cage. Why did you not come to poke and wonder at me then, like all of the others?”

“Very well.” The grace of her stride, as she turned away, highlighted the litheness of her body. Her hair swung like silver silk over her shoulders, catching the sparkle off the ocean.

My grief craved her departure, longed for loneliness, but the thought of having nothing and no one—not Sabine nor Joslyn, nor this mysterious female with eyes that shone like a mirror—terrified me.

Almost as much, it terrified me that she might know me.

She was the only one of my own kind I had ever seen, outside of my dead mother, my infant sister and her sullen father, and Monsieur LeRay: the mortician I had watched from afar in Paris. When I had approached him, brimming with questions, LeRay had simply hissed at me, drawing his black cloak in tighter around his wings, and vanished. I had followed, but he was quick and he did not wish to be found. We were solitary creatures, so it seemed. But if so, why was she here?

I shook my head again. Was everything I thought I knew about Cruxim a lie? Could she tell me why, after the exultation of the boy’s blood, I was still here, alive, on a beach with human blood still coursing through me.

“How?” I raised myself to a crouch and shouted, “How do you know me?”

“Come,” she answered, turning back to me and holding out one hand again, “and find out.”

Standing, I shook the sand and shellgrit from my clothes and swiped at my face again with one salt-specked hand. My hair was crusted stiff, my body sore from the long night on the beach. My senses felt taut, crackling with exhaustion and loss. I wondered what I was doing. Then again, what did I have to lose?
They were both gone: Joslyn and Sabine. The two women I had loved, each differently, each equally, or at least I thought, were lost to me. Beltran had left me nothing to live for but revenge. A sharp, hopeless pain shot through me, far worse than the hunched cramp of my shoulders.

I took a tentative, lurching step toward the Cruxim on the beach.

She extended her hand further and assessed me with a squint.

“You have been following me.” I accused. “Haven’t you?”

“Yes.” The answer came too simply, dismissing my accusation.

“Yet you did nothing!” Salt and sand and sea foam spat out with each syllable. “You could have helped, could have stopped them. You could have helped me save Joslyn … but you did nothing.”

“For what?” It was just a question matter-of-factly stated, but its coldness formed a fist.

“For love.” I set my jaw, biting back angrier words.

“Your love.” She blinked and then turned her eyes away from me. “She was a Vampire.”

“She was a human being ... once.”

“Yes. But you never were. And nor was I.” Her gleaming gray eyes held a question. “Why does it matter to you so that she was human?”

“She had her soul.” I sank to my knees again and retched into the sand. “In a soulless world.”

Silence passed between us, but thoughts swarmed thick in my head. Since my sister’s birth, all those centuries ago, never had I met another Cruxim. So why now?

I shook my head to clear the hammering of a headache. “You did nothing to help me—to help them, either of them.”

“I am helping you now.”

“You call this helping? You did nothing!” My fist, pounding the sand again, sent missiles of tiny shells into the air.

“She was a Vampire,” she said, softer this time. “They will all die, Amedeo … eventually. It is our mission. Have you forgotten that?” She put her hand on my shoulder and I looked up at her.

Her face was still free of emotion, her brow unwrinkled, her pillowed lips full. Neither frown nor smile tugged at her noble features. She was blank, as unmoved as the ocean had been at dawn when its stillness had mocked the tumult of my anguish.

I stumbled to my feet. “You think I can forget? You think I can just put aside what he did to them? Or what I mean to do to him?” The bite of my nails puncturing my clenched palms was nothing compared to the pain of knowing Beltran still lived. I turned away from her again, sick with the knowledge that perhaps no one could have helped them. The only help for Joslyn and Sabine would have been never to have met me. I was the cause of their damnation! Part of me wished neither had ever known me—not the blue-eyed child who had believed me her guardian angel until the Vampire Beltran had his way with her, nor the brave, golden-haired Sphinx who had loved me yet thought herself my pet. Yet the thought of never having known either of them drew bile up from my stomach.

What point is there in following this Cruxim, or even in going on? I thought.

Nausea overtook me again and I fell to the sand, curled like a shell, my back to her.

“There is Sabine.”

It seemed she had read my thoughts.

I felt the growl forming before it even left my lips. “What do you care?”

“She fought valiantly. I had hoped she might free herself from Beltran.”

“You hoped.” I raised myself again and glowered at her.

“Yes.”

I passed my hands over my face, swiping away tears. “And Joslyn? What did you hope for her?”

“Must we argue again?” She sighed, as if she had hoped my love for the woman who had given her life for mine might have already faded. Then she kneeled beside me. Her pale skin gleamed argent up close.

“I mean you no harm, Amedeo. Nor her. I did not save Joslyn or Sabine, because…” Her eyes reflected the luminescent strip of the horizon. “Because…”

“I know.” My thoughts were as dull as my words. “They were not Cruxim.”

“No, they were not. But … there are many things you do not know. Many things I might teach you about yourself if you come with me.”

My eyes were dry, but my heart still cried for them both. “Now? Now, you wish to teach me these things. Why not before? Why not then, when such knowledge might have helped me save them.”

“It was not the time. It was never the time before.”

“Before!” I let out a bitter laugh that my throat was too hoarse to give life to. “How long have you known of me?”

Her silence was heavy with secrets I knew she would not divulge.

“Since I was a child.” She stood and put a hand down to help me up. “But I did not know where you were, not until the rumors began. All of France had heard: a winged being in a circus and with him a Sphinx, half female, half lion. All of Europe questioned what monsters Gandler was parading, and whether they were real. Did you think such things would not reach the ears of another Cruxim, or of Vampires?”

I nodded, considering it, my eyes on her still outstretched hand.

“Come with me. It is not safe here.” She glanced around. “It is too open, too exposed for us to hide ourselves and our wings from humans easily. And look at you.” For the first time, I saw warmth in her silvery eyes. “You are exhausted.”

What harm could there be in it? She was right: I was exhausted, weak, and stricken with grief. What harm could she do me, a Cruxim like myself? And if she could, would I care? If she possessed the honor of our kind, she might protect me until my strength returned.

“Follow me,” she pleaded, “and we shall talk.”

“I have had enough of talk.” I shrugged off her hand. “All I need is vengeance.”

“Where did revenge get you? There will be time enough to make the undead pay for their sins. First, you must atone for your own, as all of our kind must.” She glided over the sand towards the water’s edge.

“Come.” Her gentle wing flaps became a flurry as she rose up over the water.

I felt sure I would be too weak to fly, but as I watched the air currents stroke her feathers, I knew all I wanted to do was flee far from here, feeling the weightlessness, the lightness, the clarity of nothing but air.
I rose into the air after her, catching the wind’s breath in my wings. Then, with a last look at the mercurial gleam of the only Cruxim I had met in hundreds of years, I spun and flew as fast as I could away from her.
I would find Sabine, even if it meant kissing every stone on earth.

* * *

Hours passed in a whirr of tired wingbeats. I traveled far and fast, a willing Icarus shooting up towards a reluctant sun, craving the heat that might plummet me down into the ocean, where Sabine waited for me. She had not deserved the fate that found her. A Sphinx, with the head and breast of a woman and the lithe, winged body of a great cat, her only vulnerability had been the anchorstone her spirit returned to by day. With the stone safe, like me, she was otherwise immortal. We had found allies in each other, companions, and kindred souls, and lovers, too, had not the impracticality of our love stalled my passion. She had waited for me, searched for me, the forty years I had spent imprisoned in a tower in France, considered some kind of superhuman devil by the townsfolk. Unable to find the anchorstone, Beltran had cast her body, encased in molten metal, deep into the sea, but still she would be waiting for me.

“She is loyal, just like a lioness.” The thought came too easily into my head, and it was some seconds before I realized it was not mine.

“Why are you following me?” I snapped, thinking I should have asked instead how it was that she had come to know my thoughts. Perhaps it was a thing between Cruxim, although I could not read hers when I tried.

“Yes, it is.” She answered my second question aloud as soon as I had thought it. “You cannot read my thoughts if I do not wish you to. At least not yet.”

“And yet you would read mine uninvited.”

I felt the wind of her wings as she shrugged in mid-flight. “I imagined you might be less prickly, Amedeo.”

Her expression hardly changed; I could not tell if she was hurt or angry.

“I told you—you did not know me.”

They were words to wound, but the serene face betrayed no hint of a frown.

We flew on in silence for some time. Then a voice, softer than the wind in the Cypress pines, entered my head again. “She is not dead, remember, only sleeping.”

“Sleeping!” I swooped away from her, Beltran’s mocking words ringing in my head: Think of her as just asleep, Cruxim. A very long, very cold sleep. Such a shame cats just hate water.

“A sorry euphemism. Sleeping on the ocean’s floor,” I spat.

“But living. Still living. Just like you.” With a great flap, she shot forward to face me, and this time her expression was of pity. “Do you know where her anchorstone is? Is it safe?”

I tried to keep any surprise from my features. She knows of anchorstones. What else does she know? I wondered.

“Would I be here if I did?” I answered her, above the wind. “But I will find it, and I will wake her. Alone. What can you offer me now that I have lost everything while you stood by and watched it slip away?”

“That, I can’t tell you. Perhaps I can offer you only fate, if that is what draws me to you.”

“Fate!” I spat. “What is fate?” Get out of my head, I screamed internally.

She smiled. “You can hear me now, as I hear you. You are a fast learner. Perhaps you should have more faith in fate.”

It was not the time for novelties. The pounding of my wings and muscles had become a dull throb that matched the numbness of my heart and mind. “Enough of fate, and of flight. I need rest. Leave me!”

She fell back a little. “Don’t you want to know who I am?”

“Leave me!” I screamed. “Leave me! I care nothing for fate, or for you, or for life.”

“Skylar,” she said softly.

I thought I detected a brief smile before the sharpness of the wind tugged it away.

“My name is Skylar Emmanuel.”

She spun in the air like a sparrow, rising on a draft before plummeting headfirst down towards the earth, her wings creating a magnificent silver V as she dove.


Giveaway:

Saturday, November 9, 2013

{2013 TBR Pile Challenge - Review} The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

ISBN #: 978-1400078431
Page Count: 227
Copyright: February 13, 2007
Publisher: Vintage; 1st Thus. edition


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

From one of America's iconic writers, a stunning book of electric honesty and passion. Joan Didion explores an intensely personal yet universal experience: a portrait of marriage - and a life, in good times and bad - that will speak to anyone who has ever loved a husband or wife or child.


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

I don’t know what has taken me so long to write this review. Usually I want to document my feelings on a book as soon as the words of the last sentence have finished echoing in my brain. But this one, I finished over the weekend, and perhaps it’s because I’ve injured my right hand (cat bite; don’t ask) and have had limited mobility and thus, diminished typing skills, that I haven’t been as eager to take to my blog with my thoughts.

But it’s also because I’m just not sure how to write about this book.

This is my first time reading Joan Didion although her name is certainly legen – wait for it – dary. (Sorry, I just started watching “How I Met Your Mother” on Netflix due to not being about to do much else with just one functioning hand.) And probably, this was not the appropriate piece of her work to begin with, as it is an autobiographical piece dealing with the death of her husband, John Dunne, who passed of a massive heart attack in 2003. Her account of the year following his death travels back and forth between memory and current grief. It is heart wrenching at times, and at other times beautiful and a true testament to strong marriages, soul mates, and someone who just makes you feel complete.

Certainly her writing is masterful, calling to mind famous quotes on death, on grief. And her writing brings her down to a human level – she kept his shoes! Because she believed that he might come back. The denial that someone is truly gone – it’s a very real feeling that many have experienced with the loss of a loved one, especially if the loss was unexpected.

Reading about death and grief isn’t exactly my idea of a fun Saturday afternoon read, but I sped through this book, simply because Didion’s writing is so compelling. I didn’t mind the morose topic. It may be something I come back to when I experience a deep loss of my own (hopefully not anytime soon). And I will definitely be adding more of her work to my must-read list. Maybe even some of her late husband’s work, as well.


Friday, November 8, 2013

{Review} A Door I'll Never Enter by H.C. Turk

ASIN #: B00E63HCWQ
File Size: 398 KB
Page Count: 230
Copyright: July 25, 2013


Book Summary:
(Taken from Goodreads)

A cross-genre literary novel of contemporary fantasy, magic realism, and jaw-dropping hilarity, A DOOR I’LL NEVER ENTER follows the adventures of Bill, Jane, Dan, and their interstellar comet (disguised as a watermelon) as they travel from kitchen sink to cannibal canoe in search of a Leprechaun’s pot of FAIL. Finding friendship on the way, they learn that failure might be best when the goal is ultimate destruction.


Kathy's Review:

You know when someone starts telling you about their dream and for a while you’re kind of entertained, especially if you’re in the dream, but then you just want them to stop talking about it? Yeah, that’s this book in a nutshell.

This isn’t really a story as much as it is a journey from one nonsensical scene to the next, following protagonist Jane, a man she meets at the grocery store named Bill, a leprechaun named Dan and last but not least, a watermelon with a mind of its own.

This book might make sense if you get really, REALLY high and then try to read it. Maybe. I am not willing to try it to find out. (That’s a door I’ll never enter, to quote the title of this book.) Or, maybe if you are some kind of smart that’s not even on the same plane of existence as I am - maybe it makes sense to those people. To me, the average reader, it’s a jumbled, hot mess.


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

Thursday, November 7, 2013

{2013 TBR Pile Challenge - Review} The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris

ISBN #: 978-0316034005
Page Count: 320
Copyright: September 14, 2010
Publisher: Reagan Arthur/Back Bay Books; Reprint Edition


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Tim Farnsworth walks. He walks out of meetings and out of bed. He walks in sweltering heat and numbing cold. He will walk without stopping until he falls asleep, wherever he is. This curious affliction has baffled medical experts around the globe - and come perilously close to ruining what should be a happy life. Tim has a loving family, a successful law career, and a beautiful suburban home, all of which he maintains spectacularly well until his feet start moving again.

What drives a man to stay in a marriage, in a job? What forces him away? Is love or conscience enough to overcome the darker, stronger urges of the natural world? The Unnamed is a deeply felt, luminous novel about modern life, ancient yearnings, and the power of human understanding.


Kathy's Review:
(Originally posted on her personal blog, Grown Up Book Reports, on 10/20/13)

This is going to be one of those novels that I don't remember a month from now. So let me front-load this review with a plot overview. Basically there's this guy, married lawyer with a teenage daughter, who has this affliction where he starts walking and can't stop. His wife has to pick him up wherever he is when his legs finally quit on him. He's been to doctors, he's been featured in the New England Journal of Medicine, and tried multiple forms of therapy. Nothing works.

As the novel progresses, Tim's condition becomes worse and his body deteriorates as a result of the walking thing. Exposure to cold leaves his fingers frostbitten. He experiences hallucinations. Organs fail. Mentally, he loses touch. He has to quit his job and leave his family behind, occasionally checking in with them, but without control over his body, he doesn't want them to have to chase him all over kingdom come.

"The Unnamed," I think, refers to all of the moments that pass us by without us really noticing. All of the little details in life. Later in the novel, after many years have passed, Tim comes to visit his cancer-stricken wife in the hospital. She asks him what he saw when he was walking. He confesses that he wasn't paying attention, so he makes a conscious effort to focus on the details so he can describe it to her.

How did I feel about The Unnamed?

Ambivalent, actually. I had read Then We Came to the End, a wonderful novel by Ferris, and expected great things from this book, which I chose as part of the TBR Pile Challenge. While it is spectacularly written, I was just not as engaged in Tim's story as I was with the gaggle of co-workers at the center of his earlier novel. And like Tim's walks, the book meandered on without any seeming direction. Even though Tim is a sympathetic character, there's nothing compelling about him other than his affliction. I can't even remember his wife's name and I just finished this novel last night. His daughter is a teenager when the book begins, but an adult with a son at the book's end. We miss all the in-between.

So, not completely giving up on Ferris' work, but he's had one amazing and one dud as far as I'm concerned.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

{Book Blog Tour - Review} An Amish Country Christmas by Charlotte Hubbard & Naomi King

ISBN #: 978-1420131888
Page Count: 352
Copyright: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Zebra


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

In Willow Ridge, Missouri, the Christmas season is a time when faith brings peace, family brings warmth and new romance brings sparkling joy. . .

Twins For Christmas

For spirited Martha Coblentz and her twin Mary, the snow has delivered the perfect holiday and birthday present to their door--handsome brothers Nate and Bram Kanagy. But when unforeseen trouble interrupts their season's good cheer, it will take unexpected intervention--and sudden understanding--to give all four the blessing of a lifetime. . .

Kissing The Bishop

As the year's first snow settles, Nazareth Hooley and her sister are given a heaven-sent chance to help newly widowed Tom Hostetler tend his home. But when her hope that she and Tom can build on the caring between them seems a dream forever out of reach, Nazareth discovers that faith and love can make any miracle possible. . .


About the Author:


Charlotte Hubbard sold her first historical romance in 1990, and she's been a slave to her overactive imagination ever since. As she writes, her stories invariably take on a life of their own, different from the way she proposed them: unforeseen characters and plot twists come along, and they keep her guessing right along with her readers!

Charlotte has lived in the Midwest most of her life. When she's not writing, she loves touring historic homes, trying new recipes, crocheting, and playing with her Border Collie, Ramona. She's a Presbyterian deacon, sings in her church choir, and plays in the percussion ensemble. She's married to a fine man who--bless him--has never once suggested she get a real job!


Mandy's Review:

I loved this intermingling of the two series (characters from Naomi's Home at Cedar Creek series and from Charlotte's Seasons of the Heart series) in this book. It's nice to see some of the usual background characters come to the forefront so the readers can get to know them better.

In Twins for Christmas the matchmaking and falling in love did happen pretty fast, even for a short story, but when things just fall into place like God's own hand is on the situation, well then it'd be pretty silly not to pay attention, ain't so? (I just HAD to go Amish on that one!)

Mary and Martha are some troublemakers, for sure and for certain, but they're well-intentioned. They let their human nature win out over their Amish faith occasionally, but they usually see how they did wrong and set things right. They're just so lovable and kind-hearted that it's easy to see how Nate and Bram fell in love with them so quickly.

As far as Kissing the Bishop, well that just sounds outright brazen for a title concerning an Amish story, but it's well past time for it to be happening. I've grown fond of Tom as I've been reading the Willow Ridge series. He's extremely kind, yet fair, and rules the people with a gentle hand as opposed to the iron fist they were used to with their former Bishop. He's also a man whose wife left him, and the Amish faith, to be with an Englischer. According to the Ordung, Tom cannot marry again until his current wife is deceased, even though she's with someone else. Personally, I don't know if I'd be able to follow that rule but as a Christian I can kind of understand where they're coming from.

Nazareth came to Willow Ridge with her sister Jerusalem for a wedding about a year ago and they've stayed on ever since. Both sisters have declared themselves maidels since a wedding for them didn't seem to be any nearer to them now than when they were in their courtin' years. As Nazareth and Jerusalem have been helping Tom with his housekeeping, Nazareth has grown rather fond of Tom (and vice versa) even though both know there's nothing they can do about it ... until a rather important letter arrives.

It's nice to read about the younger generation falling in love and starting families, but there's something extra sweet about watching two older people navigating the romantic waters as well. I am happy for both Tom and Nazareth.

I'm telling you, if you're a fan of Christian fiction, you need to pick up Charlotte Hubbard's and Naomi King's books. They just make you feel wonderful-gut after reading them ... and maybe a little bit Amish. =)


*An ARC of this book was provided by the author for the purposes of this tour and in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

{Review} The Storm Protocol by Iain Cosgrove

ASIN #: B00BM17C8Y
File Size: 887 KB
Page Count: 438
Copyright: February 26, 2013
Publisher: Iain Cosgrove


Book Summary:
(Taken from Goodreads)

Imagine creating the perfect drug; all of the highs with none of the lows. No side effects, no painful physical withdrawal, no drawbacks.

Or are there ...

Deep in the Louisiana bayou, Thomas Eugene O'Neill a.k.a. The Street, an Irish immigrant mob enforcer, waits patiently with his gun amidst the sweltering heat of a southern storm. His employers, Italian American drug lords Guido and Ernesto Mancini, have a guaranteed formula to create the perfect narcotic and Thomas knows too much.

But he is not alone.

Detective Charles Roussel, ex hot-shot city lawyer turned small town Louisiana lawman, is investigating a strange case at the old plantation house he used to call home. He gets drawn inexorably to Ireland, as all his research begins to guide him to the same inevitable destination; Cork.

Agent Dale Foster, unorthodox New York DEA agent and victim of one too many bogus leads, hears murmurs of the next big thing; a drug without equal. The whisperings lead him to one last tumultuous confrontation with his superiors, who compel him to take an enforced vacation. As his plane lands in Ireland, and he follows the trail of rumours to Cork, he knows his professional instincts are leading him to the biggest bust of his life, or ending his career forever.

For Thomas, the middle-aged hit man, all roads seem to lead back to Cork; the city of his birth and the ghosts of his past.

He has plenty of questions and needs some answers, and all the while the words echo in his head.

'Be careful what you wish for!'


Kathy's Review:

This is not my genre of choice. I thought the book was extremely well written, but suffered from two flaws as far as I was concerned: first, too many characters to keep track of, and second, too long. I also found the shifting POV to be a bit confusing.

If you like gunfire, explosions and plenty of action, then this book will be right up your alley. Think Tom Clancy, James Patterson and the like. For me, it was entertaining but like I said, a bit confusing at times with the POV shifts. I would have preferred a focus on 2-3 characters, with a first person POV section for each, and then the other characters receiving minor mention. I think the story would have been considerably easier to follow.


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

Monday, November 4, 2013

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


Yay! It's November; a month of colder weather (depending on which country you're in), bonfires, camping, falling leaves and, if you're lucky, snow! It's also NaNoWriMo month, so a lot of reading may not be accomplished. Here's what we're trying to get read so far ...


Mandy:

For Review

Where are the Christians? Despite numbering two billion worldwide, this question is being asked with more frequency given the eroding moral state of society. This ground breaking book explores the dynamics of American Christianity offering unique and timeless insights into one of the world's most prevalent religions. Whatever the reader's beliefs, this book will challenge conventional notions and broaden ones understanding of Christianity's past, present and future.

Where are the Christians? uses the classic format of who, what, where and how to explore Christianity and the dynamics that unite and divide the religion into the unrealized potential it suffers from today. The book enlightens the reader as to who the Christians are from a historical perspective; what a Christian is from a spiritual perspective; where the Christians are from a behavioral perspective; and how Christianity can be strengthened and more united from a societal perspective. Where are the Christians? examines hundreds of Biblical and scholarly sources, analyzing data from a multitude of studies and interviews leading to unique perspectives and solutions to the challenges facing Christianity in the modern era.

For Review

Incredibly, more than 3,000 women in the United States military report Military Sexual Trauma (MST) each year. Yet, to date, the military seems unwilling or unable to provide its own woman soldiers with the care they deserve – and unable to prevent these atrocities from occurring in the first place. With The Female Veteran, female military veteran Ty Will tells her own deeply personal account of rape at the hands of her sergeant, and her experience with seeking treatment from a VA ill-equipped to deal with the pervasive issue.

The Female Veteran is a must-read for all veterans and their families – particularly those with a mother, daughter, aunt or sister in the armed forces -- as well as those considering entering the military.


Kathy:


Jess Aarons' greatest ambition is to be the fastest runner in his grade. He's been practicing all summer and can't wait to see his classmates' faces when he beats them all. But on the first day of school, a new girl boldly crosses over to the boys' side and outruns everyone.

That's not a very promising beginning for a friendship, but Jess and Leslie Burke become inseparable. Together they create Terabithia, a magical kingdom in the woods where the two of them reign as king and queen, and their imaginations set the only limits. Then one morning a terrible tragedy occurs. Only when Jess is able to come to grips with this tragedy does he finally understand the strength and courage Leslie has given him.

For 2013 TBR Pile Challenge

In the summer of 1953, two eleven-year-old boys—best friends—are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy's mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn't believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God's instrument. What happens to Owen, after that 1953 foul ball, is extraordinary.


In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen R. Covey presents a holistic, integrated, principle-centered approach for solving personal and professional problems. With penetrating insights and pointed anecdotes, Covey reveals a step-by-step pathway for living with fairness, integrity, service, and human dignity--principles that give us the security to adapt to change and the wisdom and power to take advantage of the opportunities that change creates.

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