Wednesday, April 30, 2014

{Review} UNWELL by Marie Chow

ISBN #: 978-1494941208
Page Count: 306
Copyright: January 7, 2014
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

(Taken from Amazon)

How do you tell your child that you won’t be there when they grow up? UNWELL is the raw, honest story of a mother who writes to her unborn child, sharing her decision of choosing not to be a mother. She doesn’t choose abortion. Nor does she consider adoption. Instead, she decides to give her child a fighting chance in life, without the angst and drama that’s shaped her own bittersweet life.

With a poignant lack of emotion, the young mother shares her life story. As the child of Asian parents who moved to America early in her life, the mother shares how her life disintegrated after her parents’ divorce. From upper middle class suburban to sharing her mean aunt’s house to a one bedroom apartment in a shabby neighborhood, this mother endures the indignity that comes with the change of status. From her father’s absence to her mother becoming a married man’s mistress, her story reads like a tragic Victorian novel set in the 21st century, but that’s where the similarity ends—she is definitely not a shy country miss and she certainly did not take the easy way out.

Charlene's Review:

Unwell is a haunting story of a Chinese American woman chronicling her life for the unborn child she is carrying, and that she has chosen to never know. It is the story of her life, its choices, and their consequences. While unsettling, Ms. Chow takes the reader on a journey that most can appreciate on some level.

To say I liked this book’s content would be a travesty. I was deeply touched by her raw honesty, and appalled at the same time by the naked emotions portrayed with such flat affect. After finishing the book, it made much more sense in the cultural aspect, and I felt compassion for someone so damaged by her world. We never learn the identity of the narrator, which adds to the mystique of the story, and yet, it also added to the discontent this reader felt.

I wish we had been given a glimpse of what transpired after the birth; how the young woman made her escape, and how her story continued. I finished it feeling rather undone by it all. Having said that, this is a tremendous work of literature. Gritty and poignant, Ms. Chow has a personal style that flows freely and grips the reader, whether they like it or not.

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

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

{Review} THE INTERCEPT by Dick Wolf

ISBN #: 978-0062068491
Page Count: 433
Copyright: May 28, 2013
Publisher: Harper; 1st Edition (Mass Market Paperback)

Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

Dick Wolf makes his literary debut with this driving thriller reminiscent of the classic The Day of the Jackal, an extraordinary tale filled with the ingenious twists and high-wire suspense we have come to expect from this master storyteller.

Days before the July Fourth holiday and the dedication of One World Trade Center at Ground Zero, an incident aboard a commercial jet reminds everyone involved that vigilance saves lives.

But New York Police Detective Jeremy Fisk - from the department's Intelligence Division, a well-funded anti-terror unit modeled upon the CIA - suspects that the event is a warning sign that another, potentially more extraordinary scheme has been set in motion. So when a passenger from the same plane disappears into the crowds of Manhattan, it's up to Fisk and his partner, Krina Gersten, to find him before the celebrations begin ... and time is running out.

Mandy's Review:

For those of you who don't know, or who didn't look at the picture of the above cover closely enough, Dick Wolf is the creator of Law & Order. That was the main reason why I said "yes" to reading and reviewing his novels. We know the man can write an hour-long episode for television, but can he write a full-length novel with the same suspense and drama?

Jeremy Fisk is great at what he does. He's already proven himself to his superiors before this novel begins. Who we do get to meet for the first time is his partner, Krina. Jeremy pulls her in off the streets for a tactical assignment because she can work undercover and remain unassuming. Over the years, they form a romantic relationship and are able to keep it under wraps.

Krina always winds up with the crappy assignments because she's a woman. No doubt about it, her chance of gaining ground in the "all boy's club" is minimal. So when she's assigned as a "camp counselor" to The Six, the heroes of an attempted plane hijacking, she's pissed but she does her job well. It's this job, though, that causes Krina to seriously consider a job change after the current one is finished. Jeremy's not excited to hear about her potential career change and is trying to find a way to convince her otherwise.

Dick Wolf utilizes the familiarity of America's fear and concern of terrorism to write an emotional roller-coaster ride. There were many twists and turns, but they didn't pile on top of each other as some authors write them. This book flowed naturally and quickly, keeping my attention the entire time. Like the aforementioned roller coaster, you're in the middle of one twist and be just about out of it when you see another one coming at you from ahead. Very exciting and highly recommended. It's nice to know that Dick Wolf can write more than just an episodic television drama. I'm ready to read the second Jeremy Fisk novel, The Execution, and let you know my thoughts. Stay tuned!

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

Monday, April 28, 2014

{Review} UNDERLAKE by Kia Heavey

ISBN #: 978-0615956046
Page Count: 326
Copyright: February 27, 2014
Publisher: Unfiltered Creative

(Taken from back cover)

Pampered and cultured Katie Welch has had the same friends her entire life, but lately she doesn't fit in anymore. Then her mother drags her to a remote farm town where the local kids are friendly, but they don't know the real her. Even the grownups in her life seem to have lost their way. In the throes of growing up and growing apart, Katie discovers the most unusual boy swimming in her lake and for the first time in memory, she connects. John is refreshingly old-fashioned and wise in ways Katie has never encountered before, but it's clear he's hiding something. Katie is just so happy to have someone she can relate to, she's willing to defy her mother and ignore the warning signs. She does so at her own risk.

Charlene's Review:

When Katie Welch’s mom drags her out into the country, Katie is determined to be miserable. She makes a few friends, and is enamored by a strange boy that she watches swimming in the lake. She finds herself falling in love with the farming town, and with her new friends, especially John, the lake boy. John has a dark secret, though, and falling for him could mean the end of the life Katie holds so dear.

Underlake is a complex story written to delight and empower the reader. Classified as Young Adult, I felt it was beautifully done for girls searching for their own voice. Katie is a young girl that most girls can identify with as she struggles with following the crowd versus personal values. Combining the mythical with a coming-of-age story, and a nod to Christian fiction, Ms. Heavey writes a story that captivates the reader. The ending is not at all what I expected but left me pleasantly surprised, not disappointed.

Having a heroine that isn’t afraid to stand out and be different was refreshing. Ms. Heavey starts the book with the dedication, "For girls everywhere who are less than thrilled with the popular things." I was very impressed with the values expressed by Katie in the book, and while the church and personal beliefs were discussed, it never felt preachy, but just another aspect to the storyline.

Underlake is a refreshing change of pace in a fast-paced, feel-good world of conformity. I highly recommend it for young girls and will be gifting mine to my niece.

5 out of 5 stars!

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

Sunday, April 27, 2014

{Review} TIME REGULATION INSTITUTE by Ahmet Hamdi Tampinar

ISBN #: 978-0143106739
Page Count: 432
Copyright: January 7, 2014
Publisher: Penguin Classics

Book Summary:
(Taken from Goodreads)

A literary discovery: an uproarious tragicomedy of modernization, in its first-ever English translation

Perhaps the greatest Turkish novel of the twentieth century, being discovered around the world only now, more than fifty years after its first publication, The Time Regulation Institute is an antic, freewheeling send-up of the modern bureaucratic state.

At its center is Hayri Irdal, an infectiously charming antihero who becomes entangled with an eccentric cast of characters—a television mystic, a pharmacist who dabbles in alchemy, a dignitary from the lost Ottoman Empire, a “clock whisperer”—at the Time Regulation Institute, a vast organization that employs a hilariously intricate system of fines for the purpose of changing all the clocks in Turkey to Western time. Recounted in sessions with his psychoanalyst, the story of Hayri Irdal’s absurdist misadventures plays out as a brilliant allegory of the collision of tradition and modernity, of East and West, infused with a poignant blend of hope for the promise of the future and nostalgia for a simpler time.

Kathy's Review:

Hayri is just an ordinary guy - no special talents, and not blessed with wealth. Yet he falls into a variety of strange circumstances. It seems like he is swept along by life, rather than an active participant. I think the heart of this book examines this concept – how much of our lives are shaped by our actions, vs. the actions of others which affect us? Hayri falls into the Time Regulation Institute (which really only makes its first appearance in the second half of the book) because of who he knows and through a series of misconstrued stories about him others have exaggerated on his behalf.

For me, this book was a little bit hard to follow because I am not familiar at all with Turkish culture and the titles they give one another. The title “Bey” follows many of the men’s names and seems to be a title of respect. But that made it hard to keep up with who was who. I found many of the events within the book to be amusing, but I also didn’t really understand a lot of what was going on.

For that reason, I’m going to limit my recommendation to people who might have an interest in history, or desire to know more about Turkish culture and literature or who enjoy literary fiction and are looking for something different.

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

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

{2014 TBR Pile Challenge Review} Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby

ISBN #: 978-1594484773
Page Count: 406
Copyright: September 7, 2010 (Reprint)
Publisher: Riverhead Trade

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Nick Hornby returns to his roots-music and messy relationships-in this funny and touching new novel which thoughtfully and sympathetically looks at how lives can be wasted but how they are never beyond redemption. Annie lives in a dull town on England's bleak east coast and is in a relationship with Duncan which mirrors the place; Tucker was once a brilliant songwriter and performer, who's gone into seclusion in rural America-or at least that's what his fans think. Duncan is obsessed with Tucker's work, to the point of derangement, and when Annie dares to go public on her dislike of his latest album, there are quite unexpected, life-changing consequences for all three.

Nick Hornby uses this intriguing canvas to explore why it is we so often let the early promise of relationships, ambition and indeed life evaporate. And he comes to some surprisingly optimistic conclusions about the struggle to live up to one's promise.

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

I had it in my 2013 Challenge list. However, due to other books taking priority, and maybe due to the fact that this one didn’t really grab me as much as some of my other 2013 titles (11/22/63, anyone?), I never got around to reading it.

Even this year, I started it early in the year and it took me four months to get through it. I usually have a book like this – one where I start, lose interest, then start reading other stuff. I’ve had about two months’ worth of library reads, so this one, which I own, was bumped down the list to accommodate my library books.

So, what can I say about this book? Juliet, Naked refers not to an unclothed woman, as maybe some male readers might hope. ;) Rather, it is the title of a new album by reclusive American singer/songwriter Tucker Crowe, who had a big hit back in the day and then faded into obscurity, except for his small but passionate fan base. One such fan is Duncan, an Englishman who is part of an obsessive fan base that speculates on the current whereabouts and lifestyle of Crowe. He goes so far as to take his girlfriend, Annie, who is a reluctant Crowe fan by association, to America to do a tour of some of the famous places Crowe either recorded at, or played live at. Duncan even visits  the home of the titular Juliet (Julie), who isn’t home at the time, but it doesn’t matter to Duncan. This is a Mecca-like experience for him.

Annie isn’t nearly as feverish about Crowe, but learns to like the obscure artist’s music through Duncan. When Naked is released after 20 years of no new music, it sets his fan base into a frenzy. Duncan, having obtained a copy before some of the others, writes a very high-falutin’ review on the fan site. Annie, who has reached her breaking point with Duncan, is inspired to write a review basically saying the album is crap. Lo and behold, Crowe reads her review and contacts her via e-mail. Thus begins an intercontinental flirtation between Annie and the musician.

That is a synopsis of some of the action of the novel. Hornby depicts Crowe as having some of the stereotypical characteristics one would expect from a rock musician – namely, several ex-wives and children with each of them; recovering from alchoholism; but other than that, he leads a normal and rather boring life. Annie, whose life is also normal and rather boring, can’t fathom what Crowe is even doing talking to her. It’s not only a clash of lifestyles but of continents. That there’s any kind of common thread is surprising to both of them.

This book examines life from the perspective of Annie, Duncan and Tucker at times, and explores the dynamics of relationships of convenience, of trying to heal broken family ties, and of what happens to your perception when your idol turns out to be a pretty ordinary guy.

For a Nick Hornby book, I’d say this was just ok. I was expecting it to be more than it was. If I were to say yay or nay on this one, I’d probably say nay. Pick something else by Hornby, like High Fidelity or About a Boy. Or better yet, rent those movies. :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

{Review} TAKE ME NOW by Faith Sullivan

File Size: 1317 KB
Page Count: 160
Copyright: July 10, 2013

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

How do you survive the internship from hell?

Don't fall in love.

Ivy thought being a reporter-in-training at the Independent Gazette would be her dream summer job. Little did she know, interviewing Eric, a landscaper with a heart of gold, would derail her plans. It turns out Ivy's boss, Lauren, has been eying his chiseled physique for quite some time.

But at twenty-four, Eric already has a tragic past, one that he is still reeling from. Even though his ordeal turned him into some sort of local celebrity, it's been a while since he's shared his bed with anyone. When he comes to Ivy's rescue out of the blue, it's not long before the two of them start seeing each other behind Lauren's back. When they get caught, Ivy's journey toward a college degree is jeopardized and her relationship with Eric is severely put to the test.

Career versus love? In the end, a shocking turn of events provides Ivy with a revelation she never saw coming.

Mandy's Review:

For a novella, the characters in TAKE ME NOW were pretty realistic and believable. Ivy had a self-destructive behavior in that she loved a guy she knew didn't love her back. Any time he wanted her, she would make herself available for him. Her whole self-worth was tied up in this man and what he thought about her. I don't know what you people call that, but I call it desperate and pathetic. What I did appreciate about Ivy is that she was self-aware enough to know how desperate and pathetic she was when it came to Will.

Eric, I like. There's not really anything about him that I don't like. He has a tendency to be your typical guy going along with another woman's plan thinking it'll make everything work out when all it does is blow everything up in his face. I'd like to think guys are smarter than that, but I've yet to see one who didn't fall under a pretty woman's spell. Once he breaks free from that crap, though, he's exactly the kind of guy I wouldn't mind hooking up with (if I was single ... and imaginary ...).

I enjoyed TAKE ME NOW. Packed in its 160 pages was everything you could expect from a full-length novel: unrequited love, heartache, a steamy romp in the living room, a friend turned enemy, and a plot to break up the soon-to-be lovers. I was all set to give this novella 4 stars on Goodreads until I read the last few pages.

******* Spoiler Alert - You've Been Warned ********

You may have heard me say this before, but in case you haven't: I get tired of reading how girls think they have a stomach flu when they're really pregnant. Authors, can we please stop this insanity?! It has been written to death. Yes, we all get it. She's clueless she's pregnant. Please find an alternative way for the woman to find out she's gotten herself knocked up from a one-night romp session.

Other than that ... it's good. You'd enjoy it and I'm actually tempted to read the second book despite the "stomach flu" scenario.

*Reviewer downloaded the novella from Amazon for free.

Monday, April 21, 2014

{Review} STRIKE PRICE by L.A. Starks

ISBN #: 978-0991110704
Page Count: 356
Copyright: March 1, 2014
Publisher: Nemaha Ridge Publishing Group LLC; Revised Edition

(Taken from back cover)

When several people involved in bidding for an oil refinery are murdered, the situation becomes far more than a billion-dollar business deal.

A self-made woman in the oil industry, Lynn Dayton fights to save lives when escalating attacks reveal a hired assassin's plan to disrupt oil trade, wreck world economies, and draw another global power into dangerous confrontation with the United States.

Are the killers rogue civil servants challenging the Cherokees' financial independence, Sansei operatives again wreaking violence, or sinister investors swapping the bidding war for a real one?

Lynn Dayton and Cherokee tribal executive Jesse Drum must learn to trust each other so they can find and stop the killers. Can sobering up really be fatal? How have so many of the deaths been made to appear accidental? Who's creating weapons with modern poisons and ancient Cherokee arts?

Charlene's Review:

Lynn Dalton, Executive vice president for TriCoast oil refineries, has been tasked by the Board to sell the Tulsa refinery. Trying to plan a wedding and care for her sick father, Lynn has enough to handle, but when her meetings with interested parties result in mysterious deaths, Lynn must ultimately decide who among her partners are trustworthy in order to survive. As the death toll mounts, Lynn searches for a killer that may be closer than she thinks.

There is a whole lot going on in this book. From the background of oil refining to Cherokee native history, and interpersonal relationships, Ms. Starks took on an impressive venture. I was, on occasion, overwhelmed by the logistics of oil refineries, but it obvious that Ms. Starks knows her business. Cherokee history also played a huge part. Including a compendium on Oklahoma’s Native American Nations at the end of the book allowed the reader to understand more of the characters in the story.

Ms. Starks has an eye for detail and richly paints a picture of the Oklahoma landscape and its people. The insight given through the killers mind is especially riveting, as the reader will be far into the story before everything falls together and the killer is unmasked. When its finally revealed, it is done with such subtlety that it is almost an afterthought. Strike Price was a bit too technical for this reader and took a bit longer to finish, but the characters make up for it and it is very well written.

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

Sunday, April 20, 2014

{Blog Tour & Giveaway} I KNOW LUCY by Melissa Pearl

Genre: YA Romantic Suspense

Lucy Tate is on the run. After witnessing the brutal murder of her parents, she's spent five years in hiding -- taking on different personas and faking her way through life. The authorities can't be trusted, so she remains in the shadows, always one beat ahead of the man who is forever hunting her. That is, until she meets Zach Schultz, a senior at Monte Vista High and the one guy she can’t bear to leave. Suddenly her natural instincts to lie, steal, and run are overshadowed by something else...the desire to stay. It’s her one shot at a normal life. Curious by nature, Zach is immediately drawn to the new girl at school. How can a person look both confident and vulnerable all in the same moment? Determined to learn more about her, he tries to get close, but is thrown into a world of lies and confusion .The only thing that becomes apparent is that discovering the truth may get him killed.

IBooks Amazon
About The Author

Melissa Pearl was born in Auckland, New Zealand, but has spent much of her life abroad, living in countries such as Jordan, Cyprus and Pakistan... not to mention a nine month road trip around North America with her husband. "Best. Year. Ever!!" She now lives in China with her husband and two sons. She is a trained elementary teacher, but writing is her passion. Since becoming a full time mother she has had the opportunity to pursue this dream and her debut novel hit the internet in November 2011. Since then she has continued to produce a steady stream of books. Recently she signed with Evatopia Press and her first Evatopia book is coming out in February 2014 - True Colors, The Masks Series #1. She is very excited to be trying out new things this year while continuing to publish under her own name as well. She has six books planned for 2014 and is excited about writing each and every one of them. "I am passionate about writing. It stirs a fire in my soul that I never knew I had. I want to be the best writer I can possibly be and transport my readers into another world where they can laugh, cry and fall in love."

Saturday, April 19, 2014

{Series Spotlight & Audio Books Giveaway} DEADLOCKED: Books 1-7 by Aaron Wise

Deadlocked: David is forced to travel home to his family through the zombie apocalypse. In his struggle, he will put into motion events that will eventually help to reveal the secret to how the plague began.

Deadlocked 2: Laura struggles to protect her daughters with the help of a young boat captain. She will be forced to endure unthinkable ordeals in her journey to protect those who are most important to her.

Deadlocked 3: Billy heads into the zombie infested city to search for his mother. Along the way, he encounters a member of the military and two new friends to help him learn the truth about what happened to the last living member of his family.

Deadlocked 4: The characters of the series are faced with their greatest challenge yet as the most innocent among them are in mortal danger. The plague's origin is uncovered, and the people responsible reveal themselves in this final story of the Deadlocked series.

Deadlocked 5: Twenty years have passed since the zombie apocalypse devastated the world. A single man is on a quest for revenge in search of the people responsible for the outbreak of the zombie virus. His journey leads him to a discovery in the western United States that will irrevocably change his goal.
Meanwhile, a new world is revealed that is under the strict control of the same people that were responsible for the plague. Two innocent prisoners of this regime must escape and learn the truth about the world they never knew existed.

Deadlocked 6: The High Rollers are falling apart. Billy is leading them into war against the wishes of Laura, who is intent on living in peace. Unbeknownst to them, one among them holds the cure that could save all mankind, and there are two powerful enemies that want it. Everything has been leading up to this, and the members of this fragile family are going to have to go through hell if they're going to survive.

No one is safe as the end draws near.

Deadlocked 7: In the penultimate book of the second series of Deadlocked, the High Rollers struggle to find their way after an enormous loss. They fell into the trap of a madman and the horde is closing in even as the town burns around them. Meanwhile, Hero is dealing with his contraction of what is known as the Tempest Strain, a virus capable of infecting any mammal. He knows that if the virus gets out, it could threaten every species on the planet, and he's ready to make the ultimate sacrifice if he has to.

However, the true secret about to be uncovered is what happened in the past, back when Charles Reagan formed the High Rollers. What none of them know is just what role he unwittingly played in a war raging between two factions of the organization that released the zombie plague. Before the final page, a new enemy is revealed that changes everything and the heroes will find themselves at a crossroads they'd always hoped to avoid.

Giveaway Info:

On April 27th, Deadlocked - The Complete First Series will be available for $0.99 (normally $5.99). If you're interested in this series, you can fill out the form below for your chance to win the entire series as audio books. Links, and instructions for downloading, for will be provided to the winner.

Giveaway ends on April 25th. Winner will be randomly selected and will have 48 hours to respond.

Friday, April 18, 2014

{Review} SONGS OF THREE ISLANDS: A MEMOIR by Millicent Monks

ISBN #: 978-1935212447
Page Count: 264
Copyright: October 8, 2013
Publisher: Prospecta Press; 2nd Edition

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

SONGS OF THREE ISLANDS is a stunning memoir about the astounding Carnegie family's struggle with mental illness combined with a beautifully evoked meditation on motherhood and madness. In describing five generations of mental instability in the female line of her family Millicent Monks attempts to bring mental illness out of the shadows and comfort those who are suffering from thoughts and feelings they don’t always understand. In her own words “People, they say, are divided into two kinds: those who have known inescapable sorrow and those who have not. Because sorrow cannot be changed, one’s lifestyle and feelings must be changed to accommodate it.” 

This heartfelt account highlights the struggle and frustration felt as you watch those you love being destroyed by mental illness. It's easy to presume that having riches beyond your wildest dreams automatically means you have it all, but being blighted by mental illness is something many families, rich and poor alike, struggle to come to terms with. This memoir will not only leave the reader feeling positive and enlightened, but filled with enormous admiration for and gratitude towards Millicent Monks for sharing this unique story about her legendary family. This frank account highlights her own personal struggle and determination to survive against many odds.

Mandy's Review:

I'm thinking I need to stop reading memoirs about famous people/families. I don't enjoy them. Yes, I feel sorry for Ms. Monks and how she had to deal with a mother who was mentally unstable. I also feel sorry for her because that trait seemed to be inherited by herself and her daughter. However, reading her memoir did not leave me feeling "positive and enlightened" as the summary suggests. I felt bored and I struggled through the reading of this book.

There were a couple times that I got lost and/or confused while reading. Some of the dates didn't mesh and there was quite a bit back-and-forth between the memories. It didn't flow well for me, basically.

I think I'll stick with the fiction books from now on. I've given enough non-fiction books a try that it's now time for me to stop. I just don't care for them.

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

Thursday, April 17, 2014

{Review} THE BLONDE by Anna Godbersen

ISBN #: 978-1602862227
Page Count: 400
Copyright: May 13, 2014
Publisher: Weinstein Books

About the Author:

Anna Godbersen, author of The Blonde, is the New York Times bestselling author of The Luxe and Bright Young Things. Anna grew up in Berkeley, California, graduated from Barnard College, and lives and writes in Brooklyn, New York.

For more information please visit and follow the author of Facebook and Twitter.

Book Summary:

At the height of the Cold War, Marilyn Monroe was the object of the world's desire. That's the part you already know, but here's the part that's never been told: Marilyn Monroe was a Soviet spy tasked with seducing presidential candidate John F. Kennedy.

In 1947, a young, unknown Norma Jean meets a mysterious man in Los Angeles who transforms her into Marilyn the worldwide star. Twelve years later, he comes back for his repayment, and Marilyn is given her first assignment from the KGB: Uncover something about JFK that no one else knows.

But what begins as a simple job turns complicated when Marilyn falls in love the the bright young President, and learns of plans to assassinate Kennedy. Now the most famous woman on the planet will do anything to save her man, the leader of the free world. Part biography, part love story and part thriller, The Blonde is a vivid tableau of American celebrity, sex, love, violence, power and paranoia.

Lupe's Review:

This book was everything is described and more. The mystique and intrigue, the love and hate relationships, The Blonde fulfilled all of those requirements. I think what I loved most about the book is that it all seemed feasible. I mean, why COULDN'T Marilyn have been a spy? Everyone believed that she and JFK were having an affair, why couldn't that have been the truth? Godbersen makes it all so convincing and that's why I loved it so much. I could see how all of those scenarios could go down. At the same time, she made it so convincing that, even though I KNOW that JFK dies (I mean, history, duh!) I was STILL pulling for him to be saved, knowing it wasn't going to happen. Such a good story line.

Godbersen made Marilyn a REAL person, not just the starlet that the world knew her as, and she even portrayed JFK as a real man, one whose stresses included the Bay of Pigs, and the attempted overthrow of Castro. I really do encourage those who are fans of historical fiction to read this. I am pretty sure they will be completely satisfied.

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

Monday, April 14, 2014

{Blog Tour Review} BOUND TO REMEMBER by Lola James

ASIN #: B00608Q37A
File Size: 222 KB
Page Count: 144
Copyright: October 26, 2011
Publisher: Lola James

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Vampires and Witches and Myths, oh my!

Toni is a young doctor with a past she can't remember and a deadly reason for forgetting it.

Ben is a nurse who has his own tragic past and transfers hospitals after an act of heroism forces his secluded life public.

Ben can’t believe his eyes when he meets Toni, she has an uncanny resemblance to an old friend of his, and Toni can’t help but find Ben irresistible.

Enter Kevin, Toni’s sexy but arrogant Ex. Kevin’s jealousy of Ben blinds him from his main objective, Toni.

A dangerous secret is revealed and a magic spell seems to be a quick remedy, but the witch that helps has a little more than magic up her sleeve…

Mandy's Review:

The book wasn't very long, so that lent to the story evolving fairly quickly. Within a matter of days, Toni is attracted to, and has started having feels for, Ben. I know that's happened to all of us at one point in our lives, but the depth of her feelings seems to have developed extremely fast, even for a novella.

Ben is hiding several major secrets from Toni. Secrets concerning a dead girlfriend, a vampire, and a witch. Toni doesn't believe in vampires ... even though Ben's always cold, drinks "Bloody Marys" instead of eating food for a meal, works at night, and seems to have sun-eliminating shades on all of his windows. Ben also seems a little sneaky in that he's made Toni forget what he's asked her on two different occasions. So, can he really be trusted?

Then there's Toni. She's being manipulated and used by more people than she even knows. I kind of feel sorry for her but, then again, I don't. It's difficult for me to pinpoint one specific characteristic, but Toni feels a little naive to me.

Overall, I did enjoy this book and would consider reading it again.

As a side note: On Amazon, it shows that this book has been recently re-edited. I'm glad because I almost stopped reading this book after Chapter 1 due to all of the editing issues that were missed.

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

Monday, April 7, 2014

{Review} CITY OF DARK MAGIC by Magnus Flyte

File Size: 782 KB
Page Count: 464
Copyright: November 27, 2012
Publisher: Penguin Books

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Once a city of enormous wealth and culture, Prague was home to emperors, alchemists, astronomers, and, as it’s whispered, hell portals. When music student Sarah Weston lands a summer job at Prague Castle cataloging Beethoven’s manuscripts, she has no idea how dangerous her life is about to become. Prague is a threshold, Sarah is warned, and it is steeped in blood.

Soon after Sarah arrives, strange things begin to happen. She learns that her mentor, who was working at the castle, may not have committed suicide after all. Could his cryptic notes be warnings? As Sarah parses his clues about Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved,” she manages to get arrested, to have tantric sex in a public fountain, and to discover a time-warping drug. She also catches the attention of a four-hundred-year-old dwarf, the handsome Prince Max, and a powerful U.S. senator with secrets she will do anything to hide.

And the story continues in City of Lost Dreams, the mesmerizing sequel, which finds Sarah in the heart of Vienna, embroiled in a new web of mystical secrets and treacherous lies.

Mandy's Review:

Reading the summary you would think all of these individual elements wouldn't work together. I mean, Beethoven, a time-warping drug, and a suicide (murder?) ... it does seem a little far-fetched to me. However, after I finished the book, I realized that all of the individual elements intermingled well together.

Sarah has a keen set of senses and she trusts her nose to guide her in different situations. It even helped her to recognize danger when she would've otherwise been oblivious. She also seems to have an overactive libido, which does get her in trouble a time or two ... once with the Prince.

Speaking of the Prince, he seems an odd duck at times. One minute I'd trust him with my life and the next I'm suspicious of his behavior. Perhaps this is only because others have lied about him or what he's done. What if he did say or do what others have indicated? Although I know how the book ends, I still have my eye on him.

I think Nico/Jepp, a 400-year old dwarf, was my favorite character. Despite his stature, the man knows how to handle himself and get things accomplished. He does like to rifle through others' belongings and steal things on occasion, but don't we all? He has a wicked sense of humor that I appreciate. I can't wait to see what situations he's become involved with in the next book.

This book has a sense of fantasy to it as well as the more prevalent mystery of what really happened to Sherbatsky. It was an intriguing read that I think many of you would enjoy.

*An ecopy was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

{Review} TY & THE FLY by Andrea Leask

ISBN #: 978-1770843998
Page Count: 14
Copyright: March 22, 2014

Book Summary:
(Taken from the back cover)

A story about a mean green fly.

Mandy's Review:

Oh my gosh. I adore the cuteness of this children's book. Each page is filled with bright, imaginative artwork. The "voice" of Ty sounds exactly how I think a dog would sound: excited, curious, and ready for the next adventure.

I would highly recommend this to all children's book lovers out there, whether you have a child or not.

P.S. - This isn't available on Amazon, so if you want to purchase this book you can click here.

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

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

{2014 TBR Pile Challenge Review} COLD COMFORT FARM by Stella Gibbons

ISBN #: 978-0143039594
Page Count: 256
Copyright: March 28, 2006
Publisher: Penguin Classics

Book Summary:
(Taken from Goodreads)

Winner of the 1933 Femina Vie Heureuse Prize, COLD COMFORT FARM is a wickedly funny portrait of British rural life in the 1930s.

Flora Poste, a recently orphaned socialite, moves in with her country relatives, the gloomy Starkadders of Cold Comfort Farm, and becomes enmeshed in a web of violent emotions, despair, and scheming, until Flora manages to set things right.

Mandy's Review:

Flora Poste is one determined lady. Once she sets her mind to a task, she doesn't let up until she accomplishes her goal. I admire her doggedness and determination because she's set out to make the Starkadders' lives better. How could you not cheer on someone out to do good for someone else?

Many challenges face Flora when she arrives at Cold Comfort Farm, but her biggest challenge is Aunt Ada Doom. The woman uses guilt, fear, and intimidation to keep her family on the farm so she's not alone. Only one person can leave the farm on a regular basis and that's only so he can deposit the money from the farm into the bank. Is Flora going to be stubborn enough to make the needed changes on the farm or will she succumb to the heaviness of the family's traditions.

I was somewhat hesitant when I began this book. I will admit that I don't always "get" British humor and, while I didn't find much very humorous in this book, I did enjoy it immensely. There was one conversation that I wish I could have "overheard" between Flora and Aunt Ada, but it was kept secret. I'm sure part of it was to keep the reader in wonder over how Flora accomplished what she did, but part of me wonders if the author wrote it that way because even she didn't know what Flora could say to Aunt Ada in order to make her do what she did.

I am curious about the subsequent books in this series and may be purchasing them to continue reading Flora's story. I think you should as well (or, at least, borrow them from your local library).
If you are using, you can simply drop the html below in a widget in the footer or at the bottom of the sidebar.