Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Review 17: Mirage

Mirage. Monica Burns. 2015. [June] Samhain Publishing. 318 Pages. [Source: Netgalley eGalley]

First sentence: Good Heavens, you’re a woman.

Premise/Plot:  The hunt for the lost city of Per-Ramesses.  The fulfillment of an ancient and I do mean ancient prophecy.  Learning to trust in spite of a very rocky start.  We will follow Alexandra Tablot and Altair Mazir on the adventure of a lifetime.

My thoughts:  This was an enjoyable read.  It takes us from a brief glimpse of late 19th century London all the way to the height of the Egyptian archeological period.  We have intrigue, love, sex, and best of all adventure!  We meet Alexandra Talbot American archeologist trying to find her place in the male dominated field.  Then we have Lord Altair Mazir half Bedouin half English. The descriptions in the book were very on point on I could feel myself transported to each scene as I read it.  On the bad side I felt in some ways that the attraction that the two main characters felt was very over the top.  From almost the very beginning they basically wanted to rip each others clothing off and for the time period that just wasn’t done.  Then the first time they do finally give in she is very knowledgeable in what to do and I find that very unlikely.  But, over all I did enjoy the book the extremely steamy scenes between the lovers and the story itself regarding the hunt for the lost city.

Rating 8/10

Recommendation:  If you love late 19th century period literature then you will enjoy this.  If you like adventure in the desert and looking for lost Egyptian cities then this is for you.

*I received a digital review copy for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*

Monday, June 29, 2015

Review 16: Up and In

Thank you Goodread's and Deborah Disney for letting me join the fun on this buddy read!
Up and In. Deborah Disney. 2014. [December] Harper Collins. 320. [Source:Contest through Goodreads copy provided by Netgalley]

First sentence: There is was again. That damned full stop.  How does so much passive aggression fit itself into such a tiny punctuation mark?

Premise/Plot: From Goodreads - A wonderfully wry tale about the pressure women put on themselves and one another to fit in, measure up and look glamorous while doing it. Distinctly middle class parents, Maria and Joe have committed all available income to giving their daughters Kate and Sarah the best education possible, which to them means attending the most exclusive girls school in the state. But when Kate befriends the spoilt and moody Mirabella, Maria finds herself thrust into a high society of champagne-swilling mother-istas she hasn't budgeted for. Saturday morning netball is no longer a fun mother-daughter outing, but a minefield of social politics. While the increasingly neurotic Maria struggles to negotiate the school mum hierarchy, Joe quietly battles a midlife crisis and Kate attempts to grow up as gracefully as possible (without having her life ruined by embarrassing parents). For every woman who has ever felt she may be wearing the wrong shoes, this is a book that will remind you - you're not alone

My thoughts:  First off let me start by saying that I participated in my very first buddy read with a group on Goodreads.com.  I enjoyed this book even though I kept bouncing back and forth between liking the main character Maria and shaking my head in abject disapproval for her handling of situations.  I personally have never been one to obsess about other people’s approval of me or their disapproval.  She is extremely flawed which makes her more believable and relatable I think.  She is so focused on what the other mothers of her social circle think and mean by every text, email, and face to face exchange she can’t see the forest for the trees.  We have her husband Joe supportive even while struggling with his own crises.  Then we have her daughters Kate and Sarah, Kate is the daughter that the drama centers around.  Then we have the wise sister-in-law who dispenses little tidbits of insight just at the right time.  Finally we have the ‘Bea’s’; Bea (the queen), Sonya (OCD control freak), Caitlin (the social brownnoser), Jen (follower), Nic and Lauren ( down to earth non-snobs). Ultimately this is a book from which we can all stand to take away the larger picture you just never know what someone else is going through at any given point so don’t take everything to heart all the time.

Rating 9/10

Recommendation:  Chick lit fans will like this, fans of character growth.

*I received a digital review copy for free from the author through a contest  in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Review 15: Raveled (Audiobook)

I am trying out a new Q&A segment for part of the review process particularly on the audiobooks I will be reviewing!!

Raveled. Anne McAneny. 2013. [January] Farrington Press. 12 hours 5 min. [Source:AudioBlast and the Author]

First sentence:  Sixteen years since my last trip to this park, and not a tree had changed. 
Premise/Plot:  What's a girl to do when her imprisoned brother begs her to delve into their father's 16-year-old murder conviction? How about peel back the lies, upend the fairy tales, and roil the populace of Lavitte - a sweet apple of a town with a wormy, festering core? That's what Allison Fennimore chooses. Despite her infamous surname and people's wilted memories, this jaded cynic of a daughter sinks her teeth in and refuses to let go. She can practically taste the bitterness of that long-ago, twisted night when two teenagers died, linked to her father by bad luck and a few strands of rope.
Ignoring the dense local atmosphere, where image trumps substance and lies become legend, Allison stirs the pot. The more layers she discards, the more elusive the truth becomes. And when a key source of information turns up dead, the dark edges of resentment coil in around her like a slowly tightening noose. As revelations get ugly, Allison may wish she'd never ventured toward the forbidden fruit of truth.

My thoughts:
If you could sum up Raveled in three words, what would they be?
Twisty, turny, and enjoyable.

What did you like best about this story?
The plot and how you would get snippets of what happened 16 years ago through out the story.

Which character – as performed by – was your favorite?
Charlie, I adored how Rebecca Roberts acted him out it was spot on to how I would have heard him if I hard read the book.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
The interactions that Allison had with her mother were extremely touching.

I enjoyed listening to this book.  The narration by Rebecca Roberts was enjoyable.  The plot twisted and turned enough to keep me guessing til the end!  Just when I thought I knew what was going to happen I had the rug pulled out from under me!  I can imagine that a crime like that happening in a small town even 16 years later it would still be an open wound so my hat’s off to the heroine for never backing down no matter what!

Rating 8/10

Recommendation: Mystery fans, seekers of an enjoyable way to pass the time.

*I received a digital review copy for free through Audioblast and from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Review 14: Insylum

Insylum. Z. Rider. 2015. [June] Dark Ride Publishing. Pages 122. [Source:Netgalley eArc]

First sentence:  “We’ve made progress,” Dibbock says, but she’s skeptical.

Premise/Plot: From Goodreads - A.J. changed in boot camp, coming out all straight-backed and short-haired. His best friend Nate hardly recognizes him anymore, especially when it comes to the way he acts. His priorities. Now he’s about to ship out to Afghanistan, and despite the rift growing between them, the two decide to have one last hurrah—at Insylum, the extreme traveling funhouse they’ve been waiting for a chance at for years.

They're last in line on the last night of the show. They are the last two to go in.

And they may never come back out.

Warning: Some tentacular activity. (Also body horror. And maggots.)

My thoughts:   I have sat on this review for a few days now trying to untangle the web of my emotions regarding this book.  So it is a horror story and it is horrific to the extreme.  I have read many books and this is the first one that actually made me have a real reaction there was a part of the book that made me feel physically nauseous so kudos to the author and the descriptive writing that she used!  The ending was a little lack luster but made perfect sense in the whole scheme of the book.  I didn’t love this book but I didn’t hate it.  I give credit for the skill in the writing and I will have to read another book to see if said skill continues.  Be prepared when reading this book to be scared, nauseated, and edge of your seat.  I will never be able to go into a haunted/fun house again!

Rating 8/10

Recommendation:  For those that love scares and good descriptive writing.

*I received a digital review copy for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Review 13: Outage

Outage. Elissa Barr. 2014. [May] Parker Heritage Press. 223 Pages. [Source: Netgalley]

First sentence:  Dee sat outside the farmhouse and peeled slivers of pain from the old porch swing.

Premise/Plot:  From Goodreads - When fifteen-year-old Dee is left at her grandpa's farm in rural Washington, she thinks life is over. She may be right.

A high-tech electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) attack destroys the country's power and communication grids, and sends the U.S. hurtling back to the Dark Ages. Can Dee learn to survive without the basics: electricity, clean water... even her cell phone?

The chaos caused by the EMP isn't her only problem. A sinister plot by a corrupt official threatens Dee and all she holds dear. She will have to fight if she wants to survive in this hostile new world.

My thoughts:  This book was a surprising and refreshing look at a dystopian future.  I know I know refreshing and dystopian do not belong together however it’s true.  Unlike other dystopian books this one has a very believable and altogether possible chance of happening.  An EMP burst has taken out the power grid and shaken the people of Lookout Falls to their core.  It was surprising and worrisome just how quickly people showcased their most heinous of characteristics.  The book was eye-opening and has made me consider preparing for the eventuality of a disaster (not long term but short term).  Dee the main character was a bit of a whiner at the beginning however she showed growth has a person, as with most people she felt doubts about what she could do but she persevered.  Now there was a slight medical concern for me and it stretched the limits of possibilities but that is really one of the only negatives that I can think of right now.  Overall I was quite pleased and happy to have the chance to read this book.  I look forward to continuing the series.  Another facet of this book that I enjoyed was that fact that one of the main characters openly prayed and encouraged others without beating them over the head religiously.  It was one of the few times I have encountered this in this particular genre and refreshing it was.

Rating 8/10


*I received a digital review copy for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*

Monday, June 15, 2015

Review 12: Elijah Hael: The Genetic Code

Elijah Hael: The Genetic Code. Steve Goodwin. 2013. [May] Software Development Pty Ltd. 304. [Source: Author through a Bostick email]

First sentence:  Nya, laying on her queen-size bed in the early hours of the morning, in silky maroon pajamas, whispered into the mobile phone held gently against her ear in her native Irish brogue: “Take your right hand and start undoing your shirt buttons from the top down – slowly: one button at a time.”

Premise/Plot:  From Goodreads - A dazzling, thought provoking, combination of faith versus secular beliefs, science fiction, spiritual warfare, action adventure and romance.

Yesterday’s gone. Tomorrow is a distant hope. Now means everything…

Nya struggled to believe her accomplishment. Nearly a decade’s work was all coming together. This was her moment. The Nobel Prize would be hers for the taking. Her work was going to change the face of bio-science forever.

The only problem was someone with an exceptionally dark desire wanted to twist her work for sinister purposes that would change the face of life on earth forever. And he was prepared to go to any lengths to get it.

Thus began a chain of startling events that would force Nya to place her trust in an unknown man whom she discovered from archived news reports … had died years ago.

Journey with Nya, a believer, as her faith is tested. Join Isaac, a non-believer, who questions his existence. Discover how they face death together in a remarkable adventure. An emotionally rich, adventure story which will delight those who quest personally challenging and thought provoking reads.

My thoughts:  Let me start by saying I loved this book.  It had a nice steady pace that kept you wanting more.  The interaction between the 3 main characters; Elijah, Castiel, and Sophia is believable.  This book is the second book in the Elijah Hael series however, you do not need to have read the first book to get this story it is completely stand alone.  This book was very emotional and I did find myself crying so be prepared for that.  Character development was spot on pacing was excellent and the story was engaging and immersive.  I just wish that it had ended that is really my only complaint I love falling into Elijah Hael’s universe.  Again I can not state how much I truly enjoyed this book!!!

Rating 9.5/10

Recommendation: Genuinely good writing and story telling seekers will find what they are looking for with this book.  Fans of the Elijah Hael series will love this installment. 

*I received a digital review copy for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Review 11: Winter's End

Winter’s End. Clarissa Cartharn. 2013. [November] Sweet Poisons. 210 Pages. [Source: Purchased]

First sentence: She was once told a good life almost always kept wrinkles at bay.

Premise/Plot:  From Amazon - Sometimes it takes a third to mend two broken hearts

Tormented by the rumors plaguing her once loveless marriage, young widow Emma Winston escapes to Breakish in the Isle of Skye with her two children. But her hopes of a new beginning is shattered as she finds herself torn between the man she once loved, her brother-in-law Richard Winston and wealthy, handsome playboy, Chris Cameron who threatens to destroy everything she's accomplished if she doesn't accept his offer of a convenient marriage.

Will Emma finally learn to follow her heart?

My thoughts:  I rather enjoyed reading this it was quick and not really stressful.  However I personally did not like how the male main character verbally attacked the heroine of the story.  It made me feel terrible for her regardless of his history he shouldn’t have done what he did.  I loved how the children were portrayed, rather like my own daughter.  It was a quick entertaining read

Rating 6/10

Recommendation:  Fans of contemporary romances set in the UK, fans of movie stars falling for normal people, and just people looking for a quick read.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Review 10: Corr Syl the Terrible

Corr Syl the Terrible. Garry Rogers. 2015. [May] Create Space. 120 Pages. [Source: Bostick]

First sentence: Near the center of the North American continent, among the wooded foothills on the western edge of the great eastern forests, two travelers trotted eastward along the right bank of a small stream.

Premise/Plot:  From Amazon - This Sci-Fi story for teens takes place in the wake of the July war that destroyed the long-standing peace between Humans and Tsaeb. As the story begins, Corr Syl the rabbit warrior questions his place in the world. He longs to run away from the killing and explore the Earth, but a desperate call interrupts his plans. Unidentified Tsaeb traitors have kidnapped Rhya Bright, his friend, fellow warrior—and secret crush. Corr springs into action, tracking down the lynx descendent Able Remington, who betrayed Rhya to protect his own kidnapped family. Able denies any involvement and seems to have fooled everyone, except Corr Syl.

Corr sets out to find Rhya, who has been transported by helicopter. In desperation, he locates and commandeers an ancient warcraft from a nearby museum. Z99, as the ship introduces itself, is sentient and constructed with fantastic technology borne from theories on dark matter and imaginary relationships. The ship proves an invaluable asset as Corr’s journey takes him to Xi'ou, the capital of the Taoso nation. Though ostensibly ruled by the Emperor, the nation’s true power lies in the hands of Ya Zhōu, the Human Minister who commands a network of Tsaeb assassins and spies. His second-in-command is General Yang, a fellow Human under the complete control of an ambitious black widow spider named Lactella. Together, they plan to rule the world through military might.

My thoughts:  I liked this quick short novella.  It was a nice paced read not to fast and not choppy or fragmented.  It has definitely whet my appetite for more of the series.  I am going to pick up the first book Corr Syl the Warrior soon so I can see what happened to the characters previously.  Thankfully with this novella you don’t need to have read the first book to know what was going on in the second!!  Big bonus points for that!!  The characters were well written and well developed the only issue I had was towards the end of the book when the bad guys ending was wrapped up in a paragraph It seemed a little rushed but I am looking forward to another part in this series.

Rating 8.5/10

Recommendation:  Fans of science fiction, alternate reality, animal characters, and/or just a good fast read then this is for you.

*I received a digital review copy for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Review 9: The Amazing Journey

The Amazing Journey. Author/Illustrator. 2015. [May] Wisdom House Books. 322 Pages. [NetGalley:]

First sentence: During the summer of 2011, I wondered what type of family trip to plan before our oldest son Austin went off to college the following year.

Premise/Plot: From Goodreads.com - The Amazing Journey is the true story of Grady and Austin Hicks, a father and son who travel the world for twenty-eight days before Austin attends college. Austin is the first of three Hicks children who embark on this globe-trotting tradition with their father.

My thoughts:  I do not read many memoirs just to be upfront.  This particular book was a memoir wrapped up inside of a travel guide wrapped up like a season of The Amazing Race.  I can relate to both father and son in this journey of exploring the world.  I leave this book with a new respect for some very old cultures.  One day I hope that I can do half of what I read about in this epic adventure!  It did feel as though it dragged slightly for me but I appreciated what the author was trying to convey about the sights, sounds and experiences that they witnessed.  Hawaii, China, Nepal, Tibet, India, London, and Paris I hope to make it to these locations one day.

Rating 8/10

Recommendation:  Fans of memoirs, travel inspired books, and good old fashioned adventure lovers will enjoy this book

*I received a digital review copy for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Review 8: Checkmate Run

Checkmate Run. Allan Alexander. 2015. [April] Paradigm Shift Press. 483. [Source:Bostick]

First sentence: The single light bulb above the cell door suddenly came to life.

Premise/Plot:  From Amazon - The KGB agents are vicious, and they are closing in... His odds of escaping are bleak... Will he prevail although everything is muddled in a treacherous love triangle? Whom can he trust? The inevitable checkmate could bring him freedom ... or death. Checkmate Run is an adrenaline rush of a story about a precocious young man's deadly struggle to survive the brutal Soviet regime. Alex Loevsky is a medical student and an inspiringly rebellious poet. He becomes enmeshed in a breakneck battle against the rampant cruelty of the totalitarian state, where just the desire to think freely is nearly a crime on par with treason, and being born Jewish is more than a mere hindrance.

My thoughts:  This book left me with several different feelings.  It started rather slow but I am extremely glad that I followed through and finished it to the end!  This was an amazing story following Alex Loevsky a Russian Jew and his trials and tribulations of finding a way to get out of the country that decided to turn it’s back on a whole religion.  I have never read a book set during the Cold War on the communist side of the Iron Curtain.  As I said this book was a sow starter for me but I am glad that I have the philosophy that if I start it I will finish it because for me the 10th chapter onward was some extremely riveting storytelling.

Rating 7.5/10

Recommendation:  If you enjoy fiction set in the 60’s and 70’s during the cold war then this is for you!

*I received a digital review copy for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*