Saturday, January 31, 2015

{Review} WEST OF SUNSET by Stewart O'Nan

ISBN #: 978-0670785957
Page Count: 304
Copyright: January 13, 2015
Publisher: Viking Adult

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

In 1937, F. Scott Fitzgerald was a troubled, uncertain man whose literary success was long over. In poor health, with his wife consigned to a mental asylum and his finances in ruins, he struggled to make a new start as a screenwriter in Hollywood. By December 1940, he would be dead of a heart  attack.

Those last three years of Fitzgerald’s life, often obscured by the legend of his earlier Jazz Age glamour, are the focus of Stewart O’Nan’s gorgeously and gracefully written novel. With flashbacks to key moments from Fitzgerald’s past, the story follows him as he arrives on the MGM lot, falls in love with brassy gossip columnist Sheilah Graham, begins work on The Last Tycoon, and tries to maintain a semblance of family life with the absent Zelda and daughter, Scottie.

Lupe's Review:

This was brilliant. A very well done portrait of a man whose decline into oblivion, both social and physically, is portrayed as one of grace, but not always dignity.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, by the late 1930's, is no longer the Hollywood big act he used to be. After Gatsby, for which, he believes, is all he will ever be known for, he begins a steady decline into alcohol and debt. His wife, Zelda, holed up in a mental institution and his daughter, Scottie, about to begin college, F. Scott is falling apart. He doesn't have enough money (or enough booze) for him to get by. He borrows against writings he hasn't even thought of yet, with hopes that they will get picked up and be successful. He begins a tumultuous affair with a gossip columnist, Sheliah Graham, and tries, unsuccessfully to quit drinking and smoking to be healthy. All of the stress takes its toll on him, and F. Scott Fitzgerald dies of a heart attack.

This, we all know. What we don't know are all the behind the scenes extras, like how cut throat the lots were between all the writers who were there, and even all the actors. Back then, as now, actors most definitely called the shots, and all the bigs are here, from Joan Crawford, to Clark Gable and even Shirley Temple. Amidst all this, you have F. Scott, struggling to find a place and make his name mean something again, all while maintaining an affair (Sheliah) and his mental ill wife (Zelda) and college bound daughter (Scottie).

It is within all this madness that I came to admire Fitzgerald. Even though he was clearly falling apart at the seams, he always made sure that Zelda and Scottie never knew. His love for Zelda was palpable in every scene they shared, every letter they wrote to each other, as was his love for Scottie. It surpassed even his love for Sheliah, which I believe was only ever infatuation, since Sheliah was just a fill in for his lonliness and sorrow of the decline of Zelda's health.

I have only in the last year read The Great Gatsby and was hooked onto Fitzgerald's writing. He flows with a rhythm that just oozed 1920's flair and his prose is fantastic. I never knew much about his background, but this novel definitely made me a forever admirer of his work.

(This was not my original review. Unfortunately, my comp crashed before it saved...and I didn't copy it yet. So this one is a much watered down and not as lengthy version.)

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

Thursday, January 29, 2015

{Review} ONE AMONG US by Paige Dearth

ISBN #: 978-1502492258
Page Count: 660
Copyright: December 12, 2014
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

(Taken from back cover)

Eleven-year-old Maggie Clarke is an average suburban girl known for her intelligence and beauty. Suddenly her life’s path is tragically altered when Maggie is ripped from her family and thrust into the horrific underworld of human sex trafficking. In captivity, Maggie watches over a young boy, who gives her a reason to live. Robbed of her innocence and freedom, Maggie does whatever it takes to survive.

With the help of Detective Rae Harker, the Clarkes’ frantically search for their daughter. Haunted by his own demons, Detective Harker vows to find Maggie - dead or alive. Meanwhile on the vile streets of Philadelphia, a strange man approaches Maggie with a dangerous proposition, and she risks everything to break free of the network of unsavory characters that control her. Not even she can know how far she will go to get even with the people who ruined her life.

Raw, edgy and intense, One Among Us ultimately offers hope through Maggie, who grows stronger and more resourceful through her experiences. You’ll be on the edge of your seat, rooting for Maggie as she fights for her life.

Charlene's Review:

Maggie is the average pre-teen, fighting for independence from her mother. In a single moment, that independence costs Maggie everything she holds dear, as she is lured away by a man and his puppy. Taken to an abandoned prison, Maggie and other children just like her, are dehumanized and offered up as sex objects. As her parents continue to search for her, Maggie realizes the only way she will ever escape is to follow orders and stay strong for the younger boy that she has befriended.

This is not the first book I have reviewed for Ms. Dearth. I have to say that she has matured, greatly, in her content and writing skills. The 660-page One Among Us was a little off-putting at first, but I was quickly drawn in by the meticulous description of Maggie’s abuse and strength.

This is a book of great pain and horror, and I advise anyone with an abuse background to undertake this with caution. At times I simply had to put the book down and walk away from the viciousness of the attacks on the innocent children. That being said, the hope and possibility of the main characters shone through their dire circumstances and made it a bit easier to handle.

I became intimately involved with Maggie, and Seth, the young boy she takes under her wing, as well as a few other characters. I was also completely disgusted and sickened by the men behind the kidnapping and abuse. While I felt some situations were a bit far-fetched, I became totally invested in Maggie’s story and her return to a safe life. All in all, this was a page-turner that truly invokes emotion on the part of the reader. One Among Us opens up insight into a silent issue that so many of us wish to ignore. This is a no-holds-barred look at a less than pleasant topic, and for those with emotional or past-abuse issues, I highly suggest you read with caution.

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

Monday, January 26, 2015


ISBN #: 978-1499753776
Page Count: 104
Copyright: August 8, 2014
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

'PROUD is to customer service, as SMART is to goal setting, and GROW is to coaching.' 

Proud is one of the most powerful and emotive words in the English language. What if this powerful word could provide a simple, comprehensive framework to achieve excellent customer service, as well as embody the full essence of the word? The PROUD model provides this and more. It builds into a set of key principles in achieving excellent customer service. Through its simplicity and ease of use it can create a unified customer-focused culture within an organisation. It can be applied to any customer situation in any sector, discipline, or profession; it also crosses over easily from business to personal use, making it a fully flexible and adaptive model. Once you understand the PROUD model and its principles you will appreciate its power to achieve a consistent, excellent customer service experience from start to finish. 'Probably the only customer service acronym you will ever need.'

Mandy's Review:

Reflecting back over my employment history for the past 20+ years, I realized every job I've had was essentially customer-focused. It began with a job in a local baseball stadium concession stand and has progressed through a retail setting, answering National Directory Assistance calls, until I've reached the position I'm in today: an actual Senior Customer Service Rep. My title is the culmination of every job I've ever had over the years. To say I've learned a lot from my past employment experiences is an understatement. I was a tad (okay, a lot) hot-headed during my early positions, but with age comes wisdom (or so they say). Despite all I've learned and all I've achieved, there's still areas I need to improve which is why I agreed to review this book.

Reading PROUD didn't last very long, but it did provide some very good information. I've always heard the old saying "The customer is always right" and I've always had an issue with it. The customer is NOT always right and we all know that. PROUD also recognizes that, but we must still treat our customers with a professional and respectful attitude. Even though the customer may be wrong, PROUD advises taking ownership of the problem by actively listening to your customer's complaints and then being proactive in delivering a resolution. If you have to pass the customer off to someone else in order for them to obtain a resolution, then follow up may need to be done to ensure the customer is not ignored and feels as if someone cares about their concerns. Basically, treat people with kindness, listen to their needs, go the extra mile for them, and leave them with a satisfied feeling.

Below are some of my favorite quotes from this book. I would recommend anyone with a job to pick up a copy and give it a read. If you don't have a work philosophy, this book will help you begin thinking about one.

"Customer service, getting it right and doing it well, has never been more important than in today's unstable economy."

"Getting customer service right can mean the difference between failed, mediocre, and exceptional organisations."

"... one of the key areas in providing excellent customer service involves how you make people feel."

"Act professionally and do your utmost to serve the customer in the most appropriate way, realising that there may be a limit to what can be reasonably achieved."

"Taking ownership of the problem is not about making promises or guarantees - it's about giving the customer the confidence that you'll take his or her problem seriously."

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

Sunday, January 25, 2015

{The Bookish Inquisition} An Invitation to Chat

Next Sunday, February 1st, we will be chatting with author Steven Manchester at 2 p.m. Eastern time. See below for information on Steven as well as instructions on how to join the chat.

After returning home from a difficult tour of duty in Operation Desert Storm in 1991, I stepped back behind the walls of a Massachusetts penitentiary where I battled each day as a prison investigator. Needless to say, there was great negativity in my life at that time, and very little opportunity to heal from my wartime demons (or pursue my dreams of being published). I finally decided to return to college to finish my degree in Criminal Justice. During one of the classes, my professor, Barry McKee, detailed police work, but barely touched on other topics. I finally raised his hand and asked, “As the criminal justice system is so vast, what about the courts, probation, parole – corrections?” Barry smiled and told me to see him after class. I thought I’d done it! In his office, Barry explained, “Except from the slanted perspectives of inmates, there’s no real written material out there on corrections, or prisons.” Barry smiled again and then dropped the bomb that would change my life forever. “If you’re so smart,” he said, “why don’t you write it?” It was the last push I needed to get writing. Nine months later, I placed the first draft of 6-5; A Different Shade of Blue (under the pen name, Steven Herberts) on Barry’s desk. From then on, I was hooked. I was a writer.

To read more about Steven Manchester, click here.

How to Join the Chat:

1.) Go to
2.) Type in the room name (LRRTBI)
3.) Choose and type in your own nickname
4.) Type in the password (TBI0201)
5.) Click the "Join" button

*Reminder: The room will not be open until 30 minutes before the chat is to begin.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

{Review} ONE STEP TOO FAR by Tina Seskis

ISBN #: 978-0062340078
Page Count: 304
Release Date: January 27, 2015

Publisher: William Morrow

Book Summary:
(As provided by the publisher)

ONE STEP TOO FAR, a revelatory, vivid, impossible-to-put-down debut novel by British writer Tina Seskis, tells the story of a young woman with a seemingly perfect life who one day just walks away from it all without explanation, taking great pains to leave no trace.

After hiding out in a squalid shared house and eventually befriending a fast-and-loose party girl named Angel, Cat's transformation from loving mother and wife into a glamorous, dazzling it-girl is soon complete. But as much as she tries to hide her past behind drugs and designer clothes, it's clear that something - the memory of some person or event - is haunting her. As a mystery date looms, Cat's life takes another dramatic wrong turn, and she's finally forced to confront her demons.

Mandy's Review:

Sometimes one step (whether physical, mental, spiritual, etc.) is all we need to propel us into a new situation. Sometimes one step is one step too much and we find ourselves in a situation gone horribly wrong and we struggle to find our way out of it. Sometimes all we can do is take things one step at a time to work our way through something so traumatic we feel as if we'll never find our way out.

One step. Two little words yet they hold so much potential ... for good and bad. It's a horrible feeling, though, when you realize you've gone one step too far. You've done too much and now you must live with the consequences.

Emily is struggling with this same concept. One too many steps was taken and now she's found herself inside a living nightmare. All of the good she has in her life is now changing into evil forces combating her and she's struggling to survive, to breathe, to live. The only way she can figure out how to do that while keeping her sanity is to leave the life she knows and find someplace to start all over again. But we all know you can't run away from your problems and, as much as Emily strives to be an alternate persona, her past does catch up with her and she finally has to deal with everything she tried so hard to avoid.

Ben, Emily's husband, is affected by the same nightmare Emily finds herself in but he deals with it in a different way. He tries to find some semblance of normalcy by returning to work and getting back to a daily routine. When Emily leaves him, he's devastated and tries desperately to find her.

Angel has her own story to tell with her various "uncles" and kleptomaniac tendencies (which the reader does get to know throughout the novel), but she befriends Emily (Cat) straight away and they become forever-friends.

This novel was as addictive as cocaine was to Angel. I didn't want to put it down. While reading, I would easily forget about any responsibilities I had to take care of. I was desperate to know Emily's secret. What was so significant about the upcoming anniversary? What did a corner liquor store have to do with anything? Who exactly is Charlie? The author keeps you guessing most of the way through and I loved it. What I thought would be Emily's secret wasn't. I liked that I was wrong. Predictable novels sometimes annoy me.

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

Friday, January 23, 2015

{Review} COIT TOWER (Chasing Chinatown Trilogy #3) by Ty Hutchinson

ISBN #: 978-1505260434
Page Count: 312
Copyright: December 4, 2014
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

(Taken from back cover)

It’s payday in San Francisco, and death is the contract.

The hunt continues in the third installment of the Chasing Chinatown Trilogy. FBI Agent Abby Kane is the sole Attraction in a bloody game designed for one reason: to take lives. Deliver her head and collect the $10 million bounty.

Abby doesn’t know who her attackers are. She doesn’t know when they will strike. But she does know they will come.

In this deadly game of murder, nothing is off-limits—not even her family. There are no rules, no restrictions, and only one ending: Winner takes… a life.

Charlene's Review:

In the third of the trilogy, Abby has helped stop and shut down "the game" in several cities. With a possible 14 teams left, vying for money and prestige, "the mastermind" has stopped all updates on the website and listed one final "attraction" for the players : Kill Agent Abby Kane. While Abby continues her search to find "the mastermind" behind the killing game, she has to stay one step ahead of the players, or face the deadly consequence.

If there is not a Ty Hutchinson fan club, there truly should be. I have read this trilogy as well as other books and he always succeeds in entertaining, surprising, and leaving me feeling as if the story ends too soon. Much like a hangover, I read in an excited frenzy and lament the ending for a couple days. Chasing Chinatown, Part 3 was no exception. I did, however, figure out a few things early on, but it took nothing from the overall appreciation.

This trilogy is one that needs to be read from the beginning to totally "get" what’s going on, and I highly recommend that you do read the entire trilogy. Finding the identity of "the mastermind" behind this international killing game was integral in pulling the story together, but the surprise ending was what really set this one apart. Perhaps a sequel to the story with this new character? Maybe a continuing story of the relationship between Kane and Kang? I will be watching to see what comes next, either way, as Ty Hutchinson is "the mastermind" of psychological suspense!

5 out of 5 stars!

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

{Blog Hop} First Line Friday #10

First lines of novels can capture your attention, give you a clue to the character's past or present, set the stage for the entire novel, or more. First lines are extremely important and have a great responsibility. With that in mind, we'd like to welcome you to First Line Friday.

Please use the Linky List below to link your First Line Friday post so others can check out your blog.

Mandy's Read
Jess Thomas and Nathalie Benson slumped in the seats of their van, which was parked far enough away from Nathalie's house that they couldn't be seen from inside.

Lupe's Read
Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.

Charlene's Read
The young woman trolls streets littered with trash and seedy people, scanning for a buyer.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

{Review} LOST & FOUND by Brooke Davis

ISBN #: 978-0525954686
Page Count: 320
Copyright: January 22, 2015
Publisher: Dutton Adult

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Millie Bird, seven years old and ever hopeful, always wears red gumboots to match her curly hair. Her struggling mother, grieving the death of Millie’s father, leaves her in the big ladies’ underwear department of a local store and never returns.

Agatha Pantha, eighty-two, has not left her house—or spoken to another human being—since she was widowed seven years ago. She fills the silence by yelling at passersby, watching loud static on TV, and maintaining a strict daily schedule.

Karl the Touch Typist, eighty-seven, once used his fingers to type out love notes on his wife’s skin. Now that she’s gone, he types his words out into the air as he speaks. Karl’s been committed to a nursing home, but in a moment of clarity and joy, he escapes. Now he’s on the lam.

Brought together at a fateful moment, the three embark upon a road trip across Western Australia to find Millie’s mother. Along the way, Karl wants to find out how to be a man again; Agatha just wants everything to go back to how it was.

Together they will discover that old age is not the same as death, that the young can be wise, and that letting yourself feel sad once in a while just might be the key to a happy life.

Mandy's Review:

When I first began reading this novel, I was a little thrown. I don't know many seven-year-olds who act as Millie does. Millie is odd and, at first, she kind of rubs you the wrong way. Why is this little girl so peculiar? But then, as you continue reading, she grows on you and her quirkiness is really quite endearing. Her story is terribly sad with her father dying and her mother abandoning her with no explanation. When Millie finds Karl, though, her life begins to turn around ... although she doesn't know it yet.

Karl is a lonely old man whose wife's passing has put him in a fugue. He's no longer sure what to do with himself. He just knows that he wants to live. He wants to do more than just SAY he's going to do something. He actually wants to put his words into action. He's about a week into this new existence he's created for himself when Millie happens upon him. Millie's forthrightness forces Karl to open up and take action like he's always dreamed of but never dared.

I think Agatha is my favorite of the three. Her first impression upon us is that she's bitter, unhappy, and cruel to those who are trying to care for her. She has been stuck in her ways for seven long years since her husband passed. Once again, Millie's appearance changes things for someone ... this time, Agatha.

The three together seem like an odd entourage, but their characteristics and personalities work really well together, even in their disagreements. The more I read of this novel, the more I really liked these characters. Written in third person, the reader gets to know each of these three in depth. You feel their pains. You get to know them personally and your heart is drawn to them.

I really enjoyed this novel and, while I wish the author would've written how the three got out of the final scrape they found themselves in, I am grateful for the epilogue the author provided at the end. It helped give a sense of finality to the story and provided me with a sense of satisfaction.

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

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


File Size: 3828 KB
Page Count: 270
Copyright: November 9, 2014
Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc.

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

“I told you,” said Perry. “I told you we’d find it.” Calvin smiled and shook his head at Perry. 
“You were right, Calvin,” Anna said, standing in awe. “You were absolutely right.” 

For years, Calvin's grandfather has told him stories about a cabin deep in the woods that holds an amazing secret. Then one day Calvin and his two best friends find the cabin. Inside they discover more than just the world's coolest clubhouse. This is The Crossing—a magical portal that takes them to another world.

Soon all three are in Cambria, a fantastic world filled with bizarre people, wonderful food, real magic, and even dragons! There Calvin learns that his family has a secret history and he’s swept up in the same dangerous mission that got his father killed thirteen years ago.

Can Calvin, Anna, and Perry stand up to the evil sorcerer Galigore and his grotesque minions? Or is Calvin doomed to follow in his father’s footsteps? This epic adventure story is perfect for kids and parents alike. Full of action, adventure, mystery, and magic, it’s an entertaining read that will keep you guessing.

Mandy's Review:

Calvin, Anna, and Perry have been neighbors and friends for years. They do just about everything together, so it's only natural that the three of them would go looking for the hidden cabin Calvin's grandfather has told him about. It takes them several attempts, but when they find the cabin, they immediately fall in love with it and use it as their place to go during their free time. What the three friends don't expect is to see one of their teachers, Miss Jasmine, coming up through the floor inside the cabin. After Miss Jasmine leaves the cabin, the three friends come out from hiding and immediately go to the floor door and enter in to see where it leads. This is how/where they find the entrance to Cambria.

Calvin plays the leading role in this story as well as with his friends. He's often fearless, yet listens to his intuition. He's often ready for the next adventure, but desires the support of his friends before heading into the unknown. Calvin is an only child, which may explain why he wants his friends with him often. He lives with his mother and grandfather, his dad having been declared dead not long after Calvin was born.

Anna is Calvin's oldest friend and is a lot like Calvin in many ways. She's usually ready for the next adventure, she's intuitive, and she enjoys having her friends around as much as possible. Anna lives with both her parents, but they're not her biological parents. They adopted Anna when she was a baby and have raised her with a strict set of rules.

Perry lives in the house between Calvin and Anna and seems to be the third wheel of the group. He's slightly pudgy and enjoys food. Sometimes it seems he uses food as a crutch, which does concern me that a child reading this novel may think that's okay. It seems Perry is often jealous of Calvin and Anna's abilities. Things that are easy for Calvin and Anna are things that Perry often has to work hard to accomplish. Perry's the overly cautious member of the group. He's not as quick to be so adventurous as the other two.

The three friends together form a small dynamic that is appealing. The interplay between the three seems familiar and mostly friendly. It's easy to see how Perry may lean toward the dark side one day because of his jealousies and feelings of inadequacy. It's also easy to see that Calvin and Anna are fond of each other and may take their friendship into a more romantic realm when they're older.

Reading this novel immediately made me think of Harry Potter. I know it's hard not to be influenced by something so popular, but there really were quite a few similarities. The three friends, for one. The slowly budding romance between two of the friends. One of the friends being the natural born leader and, just so happens, the one with the most promising magical abilities. The use of wands in this novel. Harry had Dobby and Calvin has Trixel. Trixel isn't a house elf, but he is a magical creature popping up every so often to help Calvin in his journeys. Oh, and let us not forget the ability to become invisible.

Despite all of the similarities to Harry Potter, Calvin Sparks and the Crossing to Cambria really is a novel that most pre-teens would become quickly engrossed in. It's definitely a fun and easy read.

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

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

{Book Spotlight} CATCH US IF YOU CAN by Marc Feinstein

“Feinstein drenches readers in the atmospherics of his setting and draws vivid characters…” - Kirkus Reviews

About the Book:

A small town, a family, a tragedy and the saving power of Rock & Roll and the lifeline of friendship

CATCH US IF YOU CAN is a coming-of-age tale of small town but urban youth growing up in the late 1960's trying to untangle the answer to Bruce Springsteen’s haunting question: Is a dream a lie if it doesn’t come true or is it something worse?

It is 1967. Gene Gennaro is sailing through his freshman year in Oldbrook, blown along by the steady prevailing innocent winds of the time—sports, girls and Rock & Roll.  On the Ides of March, a tragedy thrusts him into a new world forever rocked by that fateful day. The next three frenetic years of high school are a lifeline as unbreakable as the fidelity of his friendships with five basketball teammates; most of all Reuben, his best friend since before kindergarten, whose lifeline at times turns into the rope for a tug-of-war between fate and will, testing their classically loyal friendship.

Marc Feinstein has created a tale set in a time where sports and school were the foundations of a teenage life. Filled with boyhood banter, teenage drama and characters that will whisk you away to an era where rock and roll formed the essence of a teenager, Catch Us if You Can is the perfect read for a blast to the past!

Buy the Book 


I’ve stared into the emptiness of my mother’s eyes and saw the fullness of her heart.

My life was frozen by the winter rain and warmed by the summer’s start.

Deep in my bones a chill so cold, a heart that felt like stone

A hidden sorrow concealed my fear, I felt so all alone.

They say with time all wounds do heal, but the loss does never leave

We soothe the pain, and in our own way, we learn to live—not grieve.

My friends and family and whoever watches from way up high above

Taught me as John Lennon sang, All you need is love. 

That was a poem I wrote for 11th grade English class, in 1968, the fall of my junior year, only eighteen months removed from the unnerving tragedy.  As I look back on it all, I can’t say the years have made me any wiser.  I cry as I read this, amazed at the insight of a hurt young boy prematurely thrust into manhood, but gratified at the apparent swiftness of my recovering.  I can see that I was at least making some headway toward dealing with things that even now, a lifetime later, I still don’t fully understand and about which on reflection it seems like it took so much longer before I was on the mend.

About the Author:

Born in the Bronx and raised in Ridgefield, New Jersey, Marc Feinstein is a child of the 60's unbound with stories to tell.

Feinstein is a graduate from the University of Pennsylvania where he received his Bachelor's in Economics. He went on to law school at the Mc George School of Law at University of the Pacific and then began long career in law as a Litigation Attorney and Mediator.

He spent over 30 years of his life in Orange County, California with his wife and two children and now retired resides in Maui with his wife.

He is an avid basketball enthusiast --from playing it, to coaching it, to the study of its history and evolution as a game.

Feinstein is having the time of his life writing and creating stories that connect and resonate with a broad audience and hopes to one day crossover his books to film.

Visit him on his website at 

Like him on Facebook at 

Monday, January 19, 2015

{2015 TBR Pile Challenge Review} A CLOCKWORK ORANGE by Anthony Burgess

Lupe's Review:

Ok. To begin, I'm not rating this book a five star because everyone else has. Although, to be fair, I would have done so just to keep it up. But realistically, this book is WORTH the five star- and then some. Beautifully lyrical and utterly captivating, Anthony Burgess takes us into the mind of a troubled young man, Alex, and the story of discovery made in the face of moral ambiguity and government interference.

Alex is, as any person would admit, a hooligan. He and his droogs (friends) love to bully and beat people to the extreme. This book is definitely violent. There is no getting around that. And disturbing. I was surprised at just how soon Burgess introduces the reader to Alex's debauchery and ruthlessness. The infamous rape scene, made to important top ten lists of disturbing movie scenes just about every year, was just the beginning of Alex's downfall. I've never seen the movie, but just reading this scene made me uneasy and uncomfortable. Which to me, is a sign of a well written book.

I, like many others, found the language Burgess uses to be slightly difficult, but he does introduce it in such a way that by chapter 2, you get a hang of the language and it becomes just as natural for you to read as regular English (or British English, if you prefer). To be honest, those around Alex who were part of outside world (the police, government, his parents) I had a harder time understanding than Alex because you become so used to the nadsat (made up slang) language.

The dichotomy of Alex's character is so brilliant and beautiful. He is a young man with violent tendencies and yet loves classical music, Beethoven and his ninth symphony to be exact. And it's with this brilliance in writing that the reader then begins to root and grow sympathetic to Alex, even though we know that he has done some heinous crimes, and would commit them again if he could. The idea, at first, of a cure for him seems great but then as we see the cure in effect, the reader begins to realize that Alex as himself is better than the Alex of the cure. And that is a scary thought. I am certainly very glad to have read the edition that had the original final chapter included. I think that it tied up loose ends and gave a closer look at how people can choose differently, so long as it's of their own volition.

I (sadly) picked this copy up from the library, so it does have to be returned. But I will be buying this soon to keep on my shelf. There were so many beautiful passages that begged to be underlined and a book that would love to be read again and again.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

{Book Spotlight} SAGA OF LYN: THE REAWAKENING by Aric Carter

“Carter’s debut novel blends epic fantasy tropes, Zen-like magical abilities, unique mythological creatures and humorous character development into a frothy adventure.” - Kirkus Reviews

About the Book:

In a land of magic and mythical creatures, Aric Carter’s debut novel, the first book released from the Saga of LYN trilogy, is a journey of one man’s path to enlightenment and quest.

Saga of Lyn: The Reawakening is a compelling tale of a simple man’s adventures as he seeks justice for the murder of his wife and daughter.

When a mysterious visitor destroys jovial Tegain Hostler’s tavern and alters his life forever, Tegain is devastated. Not knowing how to pick up the pieces of his shattered life, he turns to his friend Karl Dunmire, a trader and a former Marshal in the elite military group the Royal Wayman Dragoons. Karl advises his dear friend to seek assistance in tracking down and bringing the murderous villain to justice.  When they set out, Tegain obtains a battered and rusty old sword for protection not knowing it was forged by the soul of an ancient king’s daughter, lost for hundreds of years.

As the two friends continue in their journey for justice, they discover that more villages are plagued by mythical beasts, and must join forces and abilities to face down demons from their past that now threaten their future.

A quickly paced and entertaining book filled with an imaginative but possible world, as well as lessons in self exploration, Aric Carter’s The Saga of Lyn will have you immersed and on the edge of your reading chair.

Buy the Book on Amazon 

About the Author:

Aric C. Carter was born the youngest of three brothers in in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida but grew up in El Reno, Oklahoma. After reading Tolkien’s The Hobbit at age 9, he was hooked on science fiction, fantasy and thrillers.

Carter joined the U.S. Navy, serving five years aboard the USS Enterprise as a Nuclear Machinist Mate and a year as a Navy recruiter. He is a veteran of Bosnia Conflict, Desert Storm and Desert Shield.

He currently lives in Oklahoma and when he’s not writing he’s  working in the power generation field as a System Operator for Oklahoma Gas & Electric (OGE).

Carter enjoys learning, challenges, and spending time with his daughter.  He is a licensed private helicopter pilot, certified SCUBA diver, personal trainer, actor, and writer. He has an AAS in nuclear power technology from Bismarck State College, ND.

For more information about Carter, please visit 

Say “hello” on Facebook at 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

{Blog Tour Review & Giveaway} ALL THE BUTTERFLIES IN THE WORLD by Rodney Jones

ASIN #: B00O87R33S
File Size: 628 KB
Page Count: 300
Copyright: October 28, 2014
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing, LLC

Book Description:

With her senior year looming, Tess McKinnon has two goals: hanging out with her best friend, Liz, and avoiding her judgmental, alcoholic mother. Then yummy John Bartley arrives—to tell Mrs. McKinnon that her daughter is dead. Distinctly still alive, Tess is baffled by John’s tales of 1800s time travel, rewritten lives, and love. She knows she’s never seen him before, but her feelings refuse to be denied.

When Tess and John discover an aged newspaper clipping that indicates John’s uncle was hanged for Tess’s murder in 1875, John decides to return to his time to save his uncle’s life. Not really sure she even believes in this time travel stuff, Tess checks the article after John leaves. The words have changed, and she is horrified to find that John has been hanged instead.

Armed with determination and modern ingenuity, Tess must abandon her past and risk her future for a chance to catch her own killer and find her first love for the second time.

Book Buy Links:

Add to your Goodreads shelf by clicking here

About the Author:

While a past resident of Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Florida, New York, and Vermont, Rodney now resides in Indiana, where he whiles away his days pecking at a laptop, riding his ten-speed up the Cardinal Greenway, taking long walks with his daughter, or backpacking and wilderness camping.

His list of past occupations reads like his list of past residences, though his life-long ambition was to be an artist until he discovered a latent affinity for writing.

“In art,” Rodney says, “I was constantly being asked to explain images constructed from a palette of emotions and ideas, which usually required complex narratives to convey their meaning, if there even was a meaning. In writing, the words are creating the images, images are telling a story, the story is evoking feelings. I like it. There’s nothing to explain.”

Rodney’s interests include: art, science, politics, whiskey and chocolate, music (collecting vinyl records), gardening, and travel.

Mandy's Review:

Have you ever watched the movie 'The Butterfly Effect' with Ashton Kutcher? If you haven't, it was about a guy who could travel back in time to change something negative from his past. That proverbial drop of water emitted rings of change that rippled throughout time affecting the present Ashton returned to after his trip. Sometimes the changes were good, sometimes they were bad. All the Butterflies in the World references 'The Butterfly Effect' and it's a fairly safe comparison.

At the beginning, John's back in 2009 to tell Tess' mom that Tess died in 1875. What he finds, however, is that he has somehow traveled back in time to the very first encounter he ever had with Tess. As he stands there flabbergasted, he realizes Tess has no memories of their previous meeting and he has to win her heart all over again. During the process, they discover an old newspaper article stating John's uncle was hanged for Tess' death. Shocked by lies, John is determined to head back to 1875 to clear his uncle's name ... getting himself arrested for Tess' death in the process.

After John leaves, Tess realizes how she really feels about John. Liz picks up on her feelings and Tess confesses to the time travel aspect of Tess and John's relationship. Understandably unbelieving, Liz needs convincing. Tess takes her to the museum that has the newspaper article of John's uncle's hanging. Because of John's trip back to 1875, the newspaper article has changed to show that John was hung over Tess' death instead. Now determined to rescue John and his uncle, Tess makes a plan to travel back to 1875 ... with the intentions of never coming back to 2009.

All the Butterflies in the World could probably be read as a standalone novel, but I would really recommend reading the first novel, The Sun, the Moon, and Maybe the Trains, beforehand. It introduces a lot of the characters you'll read in this one and give you a better understanding of who they are and the time they live in.

I really, really enjoyed this novel. It did take me a few chapters to get into the groove of it, but that was probably because I have so much going on right now. What I love about this storyline is that Rodney leaves a twist at the end so you are left eagerly anticipating the next novel. Fortunately, I had All the Butterflies in the World when I finished the first one, so I didn't have to wait long. Not so with this one. I am now left wondering what's going to happen in book three. It almost seems like Tess and John's story is finished, but I don't think it is. I believe we'll see them again as supporting characters in the next novel. Who's going to take center stage? Well, now what kind of reviewer would I be if I told you everything that happened? I recommend you picking up The Sun, the Moon, and Maybe the Trains as well as All the Butterflies in the World to see for yourself. I think you'll enjoy them as much as I did.


Friday, January 16, 2015

{Review} POCKET ATLAS OF REMOTE ISLANDS by Judith Schalansky

ISBN #: 978-0143126676
Page Count: 240
Copyright: November 12, 2014
Publisher: Penguin Books, Poc Edition

(Taken from back cover)

Born on the wrong side of the Berlin Wall, as a child Judith Schalansky could travel only through the pages of an atlas. Now she has created her own, taking us across the oceans of the world to fifty remote islands. Perfect maps jostle with cryptic tales from the islands, full of rare animals and lost explorers, marooned slaves and mutinous sailors, lonely scientists and forgotten castaways.

Charlene's Review:

The Pocket Atlas of Remote Islands is a small book with a whole lot of information. Mainly comprised of islands I’ve never even heard of, Ms. Schalansky has gathered information from all over to offer a glimpse into the locale and lifestyle of each island represented around the globe, from Lonely Island to Semisopochnoi. Included are detailed maps of the islands, along with longitude and latitude, and when it was discovered as well as if it is currently inhabited. I never knew there were so many uninhabited islands.

The stories she has gathered are local lore, as well as known facts. Several of the stories are dark and dangerous, with Ms. Schalansky describing it this way: "Paradise is an island. So is hell." From the criminal colony on Norfolk Island, to the penguin infested Macquarie Island, the sexual abuse scandal on Pitcairn Island to the detonation of a french hydrogen bomb on Fangataufa where no one was allowed to step foot for six years, this atlas goes a step beyond the norm. Though many of us will never likely travel to these locations, it was enjoyable to read about different lifestyles and climates. It really was a bit like taking a trip, albeit in my own comfy bed.

{Blog Hop} First Line Friday #9

First lines of novels can capture your attention, give you a clue to the character's past or present, set the stage for the entire novel, or more. First lines are extremely important and have a great responsibility. With that in mind, we'd like to welcome you to First Line Friday.

Please use the Linky List below to link your First Line Friday post so others can check out your blog.

Charlene's Read
The greasy ponytail may have hidden the hole in the back of his head, but the gushing sound of blood gave it away.

Lupe's Read
We each exist for but a short time, and in that time explore but a small part of the whole universe.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

{2015 TBR Pile Challenge} Check-In Post

Our first check-in for 2015 and, so far, we're off to a pretty good start! Both Lupe and Mandy have each read one novel and are on track to completing their list. Kathy hasn't finished her first one yet, but she's pretty determined and we know she'll catch up in no time.

How are you doing so far? Are you on track with your TBR list?

Lupe's 1st TBR Book
Mandy's 1st TBR Book

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

{2015 TBR Pile Challenge Review} MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY by Winifred Watson

Mandy's Review:

I did a book-lover's no-no. I saw this movie before reading the novel. Normally, I adhere to the rule "Read the book before watching the movie," but this time I decided to be a rule-breaker.

For those who may not have had the pleasure of watching the movie or reading the book, let me give you some backstory ... Miss Pettigrew is a down-on-her-luck lady forever looking for a job. She's had some bad ones as a governess. Her appointment with Delysia is her last chance at a full-time position. What she wasn't expecting was for her world to be turned upside down in less than 24 hours.

I love this story but, and shame on me, I think I like the movie portrayal even more. There was more conflict in the movie that was missing from the book. I was still drawn to Miss Pettigrew and was rooting for her the whole time. I felt her sadness when she became sad. I felt her fear when she became afraid. The moments she became a lioness, I inwardly cheered. I won't spoil the story for those who've yet to read/watch it, but I think it's one the majority of you would enjoy.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

{Blog Tour: Review} THE SUN, THE MOON, AND MAYBE THE TRAINS by Rodney Jones

ASIN #: B009JJL7P0
File Size: 442 KB
Page Count: 252
Copyright: September 28, 2012
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

John Bartley’s days are filled with working in the mill or the garden, and he can’t wait to see Zella at the next barn dance. But when he stumbles through a hidden portal in the forest, everything he’s ever known falls behind him.

A hundred and thirty-four years behind, to be exact.

Tess can’t quite believe John’s tale of time travel. Does he really not know what a cell phone is? A car? Indoor plumbing? To convince the girl he’s swiftly falling for that he’s not crazy, John must delve into Tess’s history—his future—and solve the mystery of his hometown’s demise.

But when they learn its fate, each faces a wrenching choice. Save their love or save the past?

Mandy's Review:

John has lost his parents and now lives with his aunt and uncle in a small, somewhat new, town in 1875. The "town" he lives in consists of six to eight houses and a mill. The nearest city where goods can be purchased is about five hours away by wagon. John lives a quiet life and is at an age where it's expected of him to find a girl to marry.

On one of his trips to the city, hauling some of his uncle's product from the mill, John pulls over to the side of the road to give his horses a break. While stopped, he hears a whining sound and thinks it's a hurt dog. As he's searching for the injured dog, John notices an oak tree disappearing right before his eyes. John looks around dumbfounded as he realizes that all the trees have changed. Within a couple minutes, everything returns to normal and John heads home not realizing  he's just taken his first trip into the future.

Tess lives at home with her mom. Her parents divorced a while ago and her dad lives in another town with his new girlfriend. Being that Tess lives in 2009, she has a cell phone, desktop computer, car, and all of the other modern conveniences taken for granted by so many. She's a tad smart-mouthy, quirky, fun, and good-hearted. Her interest in history is pretty much nil ... until her path crosses John's one fateful day.

Confession: I'm a sucker for time-travel stories that have a slight romantic twist to them. They appeal to my girly/fantasy side and this novel did just that. It was easy to read and I kept swiping pages (on my Kindle) most of the night. I liked John and Tess together. Their attempt to teach the other about the future/past was often humorous. There was a twist towards the end that I wasn't expecting. Even though the twist saddened me, this novel did end somewhat happily.

If you want a quick, fun read one night in front of the fire, I'd recommend picking this up.

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

Monday, January 12, 2015


ISBN #: 978-0525955030
Page Count: 320
Copyright: November 18, 2014
Publisher: Dutton Adult


On January 26, 1996, Dave Schultz, Olympic gold medal winner and wrestling golden boy, was shot three times by du Pont family heir John E. du Pont at the famed Foxcatcher Farms estate in Pennsylvania. Following the murder there was a tense standoff when du Pont barricaded himself in his home for two days before he was finally captured.

Foxcatcher is gold medal winner Mark Schultz’s memoir, revealing what made him and his brother champion and what brought them to Foxcatcher Farms. It’s a vivid portrait of the complex relationship he and his brother had with du Pont, a man whose catastrophic break from reality led to tragedy. No one knows the inside story of what went on behind the scenes at Foxcatcher Farms—and inside John du Pont’s head—better than Mark Schultz.

The incredible true story of these championship-winning brothers and the wealthiest convicted murderer of all time will be making headlines this fall, and Mark’s memoir will reveal the true inside story.

Charlene's Review:

Foxcatcher, which gets its name from John du Pont’s training camp, is a story of the Schultz brothers, and their rise in the Olympic wresting world. Mr. Schultz gives the reader a glimpse of the childhood and family of the pair, along with Marks struggle to find his niche, and the journey of both in competitive wresting.

While the title suggests that this is a story of the events leading up to the murder of Mark’s brother, Dave, most of the book is an introduction to wrestling, as well as a comparison of the boys abilities. It was difficult to stick with it, for me, as I have zero interest in wrestling holds or mechanics. I’m sure some of the background was necessary, but this read as more of a manual.

When the book begins to tell the story of du Pont, and Dave’s murder, it never seems to get past a superficial look at du Pont’s madness. There appeared to be a lot of signs that should have turned the Schultz brothers away from du Pont’s grip, but the search for fame and money seemed to win out, time after time. This is a sad tale of what the need for achievement can do to a life.

I wish I could give this a stellar review, as the heart is definitely there. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this book. A wrestling fan might. I also feel the title was a bit misleading, as there is very little information on his brother's murder, or du Pont’s illness. I wish Mr. Schultz well in his future, but I wouldn’t recommend his book to the casual reader.

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

Sunday, January 11, 2015

{The Bookish Inquisition} Invitation to Chat

Next Sunday, January 18th, we will be chatting with Lisa McKendrick at 2 p.m. Eastern time. See below for info on Lisa as well as instructions on how to join the chat.

Hi, I'm Lisa McKendrick. l have a novel coming out in February, 2015 with Cedar Fort Press called Letters To My Future Husband. It’s a romantic comedy about a woman whose bossy future daughter commandeers her dreams to tell her who she should marry.  I’m excited to share this story. It took me a year to write it. I wrote early in the morning when the house was quiet, in snatches during the day, and sometimes at night while sitting on the couch next to my husband as he watched TV. It was a fun book to write, and though it’s meant to make you laugh, it also asks important questions about love and forgiveness.

Author's Website - Utterance
Author's Amazon Page

How to Join the Chat:

1.) Go to
2.) Type in the room name (LRRTBI)
3.) Choose and type in your own nickname
4.) Type in the password (TBI0118)
5.) Click the "Join" button

*Reminder: The room will not be open until 30 minutes before the chat is to begin.

{Blog Tour: Review} THE COTTAGE PARK PUZZLE by Richard M. Siddoway

ISBN #: 978-1462115624
Page Count: 208
Release Date: January 13, 2015
Publisher: Cedar Fort Publishing & Media

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

When two teenagers are found beaten in the quiet town of Cottage Park and another boy is standing over them holding a baseball bat, it seems like a simple task to convict the perpetrator. There's just one problem: he's autistic.

This poignant tale of one town's journey to forgiveness and love will stay with you long after you've finished reading.

Mandy's Review:

I think it's fair to say that all authors write in the hopes of leaving something with the reader whether it be an emotion, an idea, or a renewed love for the written word. For me, after I was finished reading this novel, I was left with an emotion. Before I tell you that emotion, let's talk a little bit about the book. I'll try not to give too much away.

Corky is the autistic boy who is found holding the bat over the two beaten boys. These three were found behind an equipment shed near the football field of their Junior-Senior high school. Corky is so severly autistic that he cannot speak, so defending himself is something he's unable to do. We don't find out until later on how those three came to be behind the building.

The boy who "found" Corky standing over the two beaten boys is the principal's son. He notifies a teacher that an ambulance needs to be called because the two beaten boys are barely moving or breathing.

Edna, the mother of one of said beaten boys, is also a member of the founding family of Cottage Park. To say that she can get on her high horse and ride it through a situation come hell or high water is an understatement. Edna automatically rallies for Corky to be thrown in jail. When Corky is released to his parents, because of his severe autism and non-history of public violence, that just churns Edna's butter and she creates holy hell for the mayor and police chief.

I can understand Edna's anger and determination to have someone pay for her son being severely injured, I can. But she went off half-cocked blaming the first person she could. Her rage made her blind to the true justice that needed to be served. And people who throw their weight around because they think they're better than others simply because their family is the one that started a town ... well that just added to the emotion I felt while reading this novel.

What emotion was that, you ask? Anger. Yep, I was pissed off reading this novel and I'll tell you why. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, stood up for Corky. What made me absolutely livid was the fact that not even his own freakin' parents stood up for him. What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty? I don't care if Corky was dancing a rain dance over the boys while they were laying on the ground bleeding. If you are the parent of a child, why would you not take their side ... ESPECIALLY when they have no history of severe violence?! Right away, everyone assumed Corky did it. Not one person thought to themselves that it had to have been someone else. And, no, I'm not going to tell you whether or not Corky did do it because that doesn't matter. Someone should've been on Corky's side and they weren't.

Every time I think of this novel I start getting angry all over again, so I would say this is a success for the author because he got me to feel and react strongly to an emotion. Would I read this again? Honestly ... probably not.

*Side Note: I read and reviewed this book before our author chat with Richard Siddoway. During our discussion, he explained that autistic children emotionally fluctuate on a whim (my paraphrasing) so they could go from calm and peaceful to angry in a second. I've thought about that since our discussion and I still stand by what I wrote in my review. When you're a parent, why would you automatically assume the worst about your child? I had an issue with that when I read the novel and I still have an issue with that now.

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

Saturday, January 10, 2015

{Blog Tour: Guest Post, Excerpt, & U.S. Giveaway} Sonia Poynter, Author of THE LAST STORED

What inspired me to write my book?

Inspiration can be found in the littlest of ideas, the smell of nutmeg and clove coming from the oven, a song you danced to when you were in high school, or a memory of leaves crunching under your feet as you walked home after school.  Each idea is carefully cut and then pieced into place until a work of art is formed.

I think inspiration is a lot like quilting. Often I sat and watched my great grandma Whitis. Her home was deep in the hills of Kentucky. She was a small woman with just a few teeth left in her mouth. I remember she covered her mouth when she laughed, and she laughed often. The quilting loom took up her whole living room, a patchwork of colors, and thread. I was eight years old. Her hands were worn as she brought the needle up and then back down, pulling the thread taunt with each stitch. My nose rested just above the fabric and I gazed in awe. Each remnant of fabric no matter how meager became a thing of beauty in her hands.  I still have one of her quilts. Now, it is thread-bear from love, but I cherish it greatly.

Inspiration for me is a bit of a memory, of laying on my back as a child imagining the clouds into the strangest of creatures, or hearing my mother pray for me and my brother when she washed the dishes every night, of seeing shadows under my bedroom door at midnight when I know everyone is fast asleep. It is both heartache, laughter, and knowing that imagination can grow into something to grab hold of.

THE LAST STORED story came to me after the loss of my own father. I wanted to explore a daughter’s love for her parents, and the pain of losing a loved one. How do you get through the day when you are stuck in routine and grief? Then, like many writers I asked myself a bunch of what ifs. What if another world apart from our own existed? What if we forgot of this world? What if that world stored something here, a girl? The story came together much like my grandma’s quilt. But something funny happened as I finished the novel, my own writing inspired me to see that through death, the Light remains and life goes on. Good always overcomes.


After the sudden death of her parents, making it through the day is a struggle for Amber Megan Peel. In the midst of her grief, an exquisite bird perches on her garden fence and shows her visions of a vivid landscape and a dark lord slouching upon a throne.  She thinks the visions are tied to her sorrow. But when a boy flies through her kitchen window to tell her she’s the Last Stored, she wonders if she’s just lost her mind.

Cree of Din is tasked with one job: Bring Amber home. For seven years, Cree has trained as her protector and it is the ultimate responsibility. Failure means Amber’s certain death, and that’s not an option for Cree – especially since he’s falling in love with her.

The Returning has begun. Now all Amber and Cree have to do is enter Tali, a world of unimaginable splendor and equally unimaginable horror, and defeat Lorthis. If they can’t, not only will Tali plunge into darkness, but so will Earth.

Released: January 6th 2015

You can find The Last Stored here:



Anaiah Press:


Cree climbs onto the railing and extends his hand to me. “Your choice, Amber, you can come or you can stay!” he yells over the roar of the water.

“This is nuts. You expect me to jump?”

“Nuts? No, merely the door.” He beams with anticipation. He seems fine. In fact, his eyes sparkle with the moon’s glow.

My heart skips. My choice. I had another choice. I grasp his hand and crawl onto the railing. My feet slip, and I waver. Cree steadies me with his hand. The water falls in torrents in front of me. Am I really about to do this?

“You can’t go back once you enter. Are you ready? You can do this.”

He looks into the raging waters, then back at me. His cloak swirls around him like Superman’s cape.

“Yes, I can do this!”

My heartbeat bangs in my throat. I’m about to jump off of Lovers Leap with a boy I don’t know, along with two little old men who have vanished below my feet. This is crazy, but I’m supposed to do it. Part of me knew it every time my mother and father looked over this very railing. I’m at the door.

Cree squeezes my hand, nods, and we jump. He howls. The feeling of dropping over a roller coaster comes on fast. The water rushes by, cold and wet. I fall.

My chest tightens like I’ve had the wind knocked out of me. I choke and cough, spitting out water. I see darkness, and I feel Cree’s hand holding mine.

Then, a bright light shimmers and glows at my feet, reflecting upward. The sound of the water fades. My lungs fill with sweet air. The light expands, covering me. Wind swirls and holds me up. I no longer fall, but glide upward. A light from above warms my face, and the aroma of fragrant honey hangs on the air. We twist and turn, Cree’s cloak coils around him, my own clothing flapping in the wind.

I giggle loudly and squeal like a child.

Cree crinkles his face and laughs along. The wind continues pushing us through a tunnel. I lift my free hand and try to feel the mist forming around us; it scatters with my touch, only to form again when I retreat. We have increased our speed. Far above me, Dartlin and Fink’s feet come into focus, and they’re whooping with joy.

Then we stop.

We stand in a brick wading pool a few inches deep. Stone replaces the air, which moments before surrounded me. I take in a deep, fragrant breath.

Cree continues to hold my hand. He looks at our fingers still entwined and laughs. “You can let go.”

Book Trailer:

Rafflecopter U.S. Giveaway:

About Sonia Poynter:

Sonia Poynter is a homeschooling teacher, an active youth volunteer, and a writer. She grew up traipsing through the thick woods of Kentucky often getting lost in the magic of the forest. The woods inspired her heart and her father and mother, a Kentucky Colonel, cultivated her love for storytelling. For Sonia every day is an adventure, providing her with an endless parade of eccentric characters and vivid worlds. Currently, she lives in the sleepy community of Pittsboro, Indiana, with the love of her life and God has blessed them both with three amazing kids.

You can connect with Sonia here:

Friday, January 9, 2015

{2015 TBR Pile Challenge Review} THE GRAVEYARD BOOK by Neil Gaiman

Lupe's Review:

Neil Gaiman does it again, but this time in a graveyard. He begins his tale in a house with a man coming up the stairs with a bloody knife and so you think this is going to become a horror story. But when you find the baby, whose family has been killed by the man with the knife, going to the graveyard and becoming Nobody Owens, you realize this is going to be so much more than that.

Nobody Owens grows up in the graveyard being "raised" as it were, by Mr. and Mrs. Owens as his parents and Silas, as his Guardian. Oh, and did I mention: they are all ghosts. As he gets older, and begins to crave more of the world, he has "teachers" (ghost of former teachers, poets and travelers) and teacher (but they don't know about him). Bod begins to grow and Silas, his guardian, begins to tell him about the dangers of the outside world, and Jack, the man sent to kill him. Bod meets Scarlett, and his whole world changes...

I think the most beautiful thing about this whole book was the living and growing with Bod and seeing the world as a child would again. The ghost in the graveyard could just as easily be imaginary friends, and yet they are family to Bod. I think that the friendships and relationships that he made with both his parents and his guardian are tools that he will take with him throughout life and that it was almost a resemblance to taking the stories and imaginations from our childhoods and shaping them into our adult lives, sometimes without even realizing it. Again, Gaiman outdoes his creativity and imagination, and brings to life a world that we would not have dreamed of.

"I know my name. I am Nobody Owens. That is who I am."

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