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The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond by Brenda Woods

Monday, December 30, 2013

Coretta Scott King Honor winner Brenda Woods’ moving, uplifting story of a girl finally meeting the African American side of her family explores racism and how it feels to be biracial, and celebrates families of all kinds.

Violet is a smart, funny, brown-eyed, brown-haired girl in a family of blonds. Her mom is white, and her dad, who died before she was born, was black. She attends a mostly white school where she sometimes feels like a brown leaf on a pile of snow. She’s tired of people asking if she’s adopted. Now that Violet’s eleven, she decides it’s time to learn about her African American heritage. And despite getting off to a rocky start trying to reclaim her dad’s side of the family, she can feel her confidence growing as the puzzle pieces of her life finally start coming together. Readers will cheer for Violet, sharing her joy as she discovers her roots.

Goodreads Summary

Violet gets tired of not being viewed as part of her family simply due to the fact that they look different.  I liked how this book dismissed looks as defining a family unit immediately.  Violet's father died before she was born and she had yet to meet that side of the family.  When she has the opportunity to meet people she has never met before, Violet approaches it as a challenge.  The more Violet becomes involved in both sides of her family, the more she feels completed.  

I loved Violet's character.  She was spunky and fun to read about.  Her reactions seemed realistic for a girl of her age.  Violet was intelligent and loved discovering a whole different culture that she could be apart of (and that people assumed she was apart of).    I loved learning along with Violet.  Violet learns that her mother's break-off with that side of her family is as complicated as the reasons that her grandma from that side reacts to her.  Overall, this is a great middle school read.

4 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.

The In-Between by Barbara Stewar




When Elanor’s near-death experience opens a door to a world inhabited by bold, beautiful Madeline, she finds her life quickly spiraling out of control

Fourteen-year-old Elanor Moss has always been an outcast who fails at everything she tries—she's even got the fine, white scars to prove it. Moving was supposed to be a chance at a fresh start, a way to leave behind all the pain and ugliness of her old life. But, when a terrible car accident changes her life forever, her near-death experience opens a door to a world inhabited by Madeline Torus . . . Madeline is everything Elanor isn’t: beautiful, bold, brave. She is exactly what Elanor has always wanted in a best friend and more—their connection runs deeper than friendship. But Madeline is not like other girls, and Elanor has to keep her new friend a secret or risk being labeled “crazy.” Soon, though, even Elanor starts to doubt her own sanity. Madeline is her entire life, and that life is drastically spinning out of control. Elanor knows what happens when your best friend becomes your worst enemy. But what happens when your worst enemy is yourself?

With her debut novel, The In-Between, Barbara Stewart presents a bold new voice in teen fiction.

Goodreads Summary

I had a hard time reading this book because the beginning was initially slow for me.  After the beginning, however, the book picked up the pace and I found myself very interested in what happened to Elanor.  She was never the most popular or out-going girl, but she is slowly spiraling into a deep depression.  I liked how the author portrayed the depression and her actions in the sense that I found it realistic and consistent with my studies (Neuroscience major alert!).  When Elanor met Madeline, she met someone who she became fast friends with.  However, their friendship is not all that it seems and Elanor starts to question reality.  

I did like Elanor's character in the way that I sort of studied her while reading the novel.  She was definitely interesting and there was rarely a dull moment.  I liked how she spoke so plainly and truthfully to the reader (at least truthfully to the best of her ability).  Madeline's character made me nervous.  I couldn't tell if I liked her or not.  I did enjoy the author's portrayal of "is this real or not," but I felt that sometimes the book was confusing.  Overall, this book is recommended to young adult readers.

4 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.

MOA by Tricia Stewart Shiu


Hillary Hause is not a witch. But, everyone in her conservative small town thinks so. When she is given a trip to Hawaii for graduation, this energetic eighteen-year-old anticipates adventure but gets more than she bargained for when Moa, an ancient Hawaiian spirit, pays her an unexpected visit. With the help of her older sister, Molly and her seven-year-old niece, Heidi, Hillary embarks on a journey in which she not only saves herself, her family and Moa, but also the Hawaiian Islands. In the end, she learns to accept herself and her spiritual gifts warts and all.

Goodreads Summary

In a journey thought to be a simple vacation for her graduation to Hawaii, Hillary finds much more than just relaxing in a Polynesian paradise. This story caters to the supernatural/spiritual genre in a much different way than most typical stories do these days. You don't get the typical ghosts and ghouls jumping out, however you still do get a great adventure and that was very refreshing. It is not very often that you run into a book that is heavily detailed in everything that makes the Hawaiian islands unique from the rest of the world.  

One thing that made "MOA" unique was the rituals presented at the beginning of each chapter. Before the story continues after each chapter break, there is a ritual, and oil, an incense, and an incantation that is referenced to help set a calming mood for what is to come. I am not into burning incense or using oils but I imagine that this would be a story enhancer for those that enjoy these calming activities.

It was also nice to find a book that is full of Hawaiian culture and lore. Being a huge food fanatic myself, I found the food scene descriptions to be mouth watering. I loved reading about the different dishes that are traditionally served on the islands every time the characters would be dining. Those of you that are familiar with Hawaii or want to learn more will feel right at home ready to book the next flight on Travelocity.

3.5 Stars

*Reviewed by Chris*


This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.

Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott

A modern day thrill ride, where a teen girl and her animal companion must participate in a breathtaking race to save her brother's life—and her own. 

Tella Holloway is losing it. Her brother is sick, and when a dozen doctors can't determine what's wrong, her parents decide to move to Montana for the fresh air. She's lost her friends, her parents are driving her crazy, her brother is dying—and she's helpless to change anything.

Until she receives mysterious instructions on how to become a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed. It's an epic race across jungle, desert, ocean, and mountain that could win her the prize she desperately desires: the Cure for her brother's illness. But all the Contenders are after the Cure for people they love, and there's no guarantee that Tella (or any of them) will survive the race.

The jungle is terrifying, the clock is ticking, and Tella knows she can't trust the allies she makes. And one big question emerges: Why have so many fallen sick in the first place?

Goodreads Summary

I literally couldn't put this book down.  I stayed up all night rereading this book twice.  I loved Tella, the main character, for maintaining and respecting her humanity and fellow creatures throughout the novel.  She was one of the few who played this version of the "hunger games" without losing pieces of her humanity and treating those that would help badly.  The reason Tella is in this game is unraveled by her throughout the novel.  I loved discovering what was going on with Tella and I did not feel left out.  

The characters Tella meets are varied and diverse.  I loved getting to know all of them and learning how they react in a very unusual circumstance.  When the author threw in Pandoras, aids to the people participating in the Brimstone Bleed, I loved it!  I couldn't get enough of the Pandoras and am dying to continue reading about them and Tella's particular Pandora, Madox.  
This book did remind me a tad of the Hunger Games, but I think it stood on its own two feet.  The ending was to die for and all of the characters developed throughout the book.  I loved the plot twists and I did not anticipate them.  This book is highly recommended to young adult/teen readers.

5 Stars


This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.

Cress by Marissa Meyer

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard. 

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army. 

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice. 

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.

Goodreads Summary


As the Lunar Chronicles continue, the reader has to get used to meeting more main characters.  Cress, a bit of a last-minute main character, arrives on the scene as an unusual girl who has had little to no company (being stuck on a satellite and all).  She has plenty of time on her hands and not enough to do; she became what many of this generation fears: a hacker.  Cress is given an order to find Cinder, but will she carry it out?  

I liked all of the characters; I was a little disappointed because I didn't get to read more about Cress.  Her time was split up similar to the rest and she was, unfortunately, in the last book in this series.  I would have loved to have met her prior.  Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder are all fun characters; Scarlet and Cinder have grown so much since when the first book began.  The reader will feel as if they are old friends.  

The plot was fast-paced and edgy.  I liked the feeling of suspense as the threat of Queen Levana waxed and waned.  The ending did not surprise me, but I found it a satisfying conclusion.  This book is recommended to teen/young adult readers.

4 Stars


This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.

Unforgotten by Jessica Brody






Some memories are better left forgotten... 

After a daring escape from the scientists at Diotech who created her, Seraphina believes she is finally safe from the horrors of her past. But new threats await Sera and her boyfriend, Zen, at every turn as Zen falls prey to a mysterious illness and Sera’s extraordinary abilities make it more and more difficult to stay hidden. Meanwhile, Diotech has developed a dangerous new weapon designed to apprehend her. A weapon that even Sera will be powerless to stop. Her only hope of saving Zen’s life and defeating the company that made her is a secret buried deep within her mind. A secret that Diotech will kill to protect. And it won’t stay forgotten for long.

Packed with mystery, suspense, and romance, this riveting second installment of Jessica Brody’s Unremembered trilogy delivers more heart-pounding action as loyalties are tested, love becomes a weapon, and no one’s memories are safe.

Goodreads Summary

The second installment of the Unremembered series was just as exciting and exhilarating as the first.  Seraphina grew as a character.  She is brave and witty; she doesn't need a male hero, just herself. In an effort to save Zen's life, Sera must uncover a secret hidden deep in her mind.  Most of the book consists of her trying to safe Zen's life and getting to know a few new characters-one that will confuse her deeply.

This book is a must-read for any who loved the first or any reader who enjoys a good blend of science fiction, romance, and futuristic settings.  I found myself flying through the pages and literally unable to put the book down.  There are more than a few plot twists and odd events that all add up to make sense in the very end.  The author had me at the edge of my seat.  This book is highly recommended to young adults/teens.

4 Stars


This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.

15 Winter Reads: Book Blast and Giveaway!

Winter Reads Cover

Sit back, relax in your favorite reading chair and enjoy 15 Winter Reads from 15 bestselling YA authors. There is something to delight every reader in this box set – paranormal romance, futuristic sci-fi, historical, time travel, and contemporary. Many of the Indelibles have given you access to both the first and second books in their series – you’ll be reading well into the New Year!

LIMITED TIME BOX SET - from 15 bestselling YA authors ON SALE 12/29 - 1/11 for just $1.99


Amazon * Barnes & Noble


15 Winter Reads includes:


 
Iron ButterflyThe Iron Butterfly by Chanda Hahn

Escaping an experimental prison, Thalia tries to hide her past and her gifts, from her friends. But her past isn’t always easy to escape, especially when it hunts you down.

 
TrembleTremble (Celestra Series) by Addison Moore

Sixteen year-old, Skyla Messenger is a dead girl walking. When her newly remarried mother moves the family to Paragon Island, to a house that is rumored to be haunted, Skyla finds refuge in Logan Oliver, a boy who shares her unique ability to read minds.

 
ExiledExiled by RaShelle Workman

Venus wakes to find herself no longer on her home planet of Kelari, but on Earth with a week to get back or she'll die.


Dragonfly CoverDragonfly by Leigh Talbert Moore

Gossip Girl meets VC Andrews in this contemporary family saga. Love, lies, and betrayal become the new normal when Anna enters the world of Jack and Lucy Kyser.

Amazon  * Facebook  * Twitter  * Goodreads  * Pinterest

 
open mindsOpen Minds and Closed Hearts by Susan Kaye Quinn

When everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep.

 Blog * Twitter * Facebook * Wattpad * Goodreads

 
untraceableUntraceable by S.R. Johannes

When Grace's forest ranger dad disappears on patrol, she fights town authorities, tribal officials, & nature to prove he’s alive. Torn between a new hot boy and cute ex, she heads into the wilderness to find her dad. Soon, she is caught in a web of conspiracy, deception, and murder.

 Twitter * Facebook * Blog  * Goodreads

 
date an alienHow to Date an Alien and How to Break Up With an Alien by Magan Vernon

Alex Bianchi takes an internship at an alien operations center to pad her college applications but doesn't plan on falling in love with one of its residents. But as Alex’s senior year progresses, everything changes and she can’t figure out if it is interstellar or if it is just time to break up with an alien.

 
flutterFlutter of Luv by L.M. Preston

Dawn, the neighborhood tomboy, is happy to be her best friend’s shadow. Acceptance comes from playing football after school with the guys on the block while hiding safely behind her glasses, braces, and boyish ways. But Tony moves in, becomes the star Running Back on her school’s football team, and changes her world and her view of herself forever.

 
watchedWatched by Cindy M. Hogan

It takes more than a school trip to change Christy's life. It takes murder.

 Blog * Twitter * Facebook * Goodreads

   
clockwiseClockwise and ClockwiseR by Elle Strauss

A follow up to Clockwise, Casey and Nate travel back in time and race against the clock to rescue Casey's rebellious brother Tim from frontline battle in America's civil war.

 Website * Blog * Twitter * Facebook * Wattpad * Goodreads

   
5.5"X8.5" Post Card TemplateGlimpse (Zellie Wells #1) and Glimmer (Zellie Wells #2) by Stacey Wallace Benefiel

While working together to figure out what their shared vision means, Zellie discovers that Benjamin is a worthy friend and mentor. If only he could keep his hands off of her - if only she wanted him to...

 Blog * Twitter * Facebook * Goodreads

 
spy like meA Spy Like Me by Laura Pauling

After dodging bullets on a first date, Savvy must decide how far she'll go to protect the ones she loves.

 Blog * Twitter * Goodreads

 
Grasping At Eternity by Karen Amanda Hooper

An eternal soul mate, a supernatural family who has known her for centuries, and lifetimes of erased memories: this is Maryah Woodsen’s life. She just doesn’t know it yet.

 Twitter * Facebook * Blog * Goodreads

 
lacrimosaLacrimosa by Christine Fonseca

In the world of angels and demons, one thing is clear - some sacrifices should never be made. Even for love.

 
spruce knollThe Secret of Spruce Knoll by Heather McCorkle

The town of Spruce Knoll hides many secrets—and many dangers, among them are that the untimely death of Eren’s parents was no accident and that she is far more than she realizes.

 Blog * Twitter * Facebook * Wattpad * Goodreads




Giveaway Details
$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends
1/11/14

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the authors. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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The Winter Witch by Paula Brackston: Blog Tour!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013











Fledgling witch Morgana must defend her love, her home, and her life in this enthralling tale perfect for fans of Discovery of Witches

In her small Welsh town, there is no one quite like Morgana. She has never spoken, and her silence as well as the magic she can't quite control make her a mystery. Concerned for her safety, her mother quickly arranges a marriage with Cai Bevan, the widower from the far hills who knows nothing of the rumours that swirl around her. After their wedding, Morgana is heartbroken at leaving, but she soon falls in love with Cai’s farm and the rugged mountains that surround it, while slowly Cai himself begins to win her heart. It’s not long, however, before her strangeness begins to be remarked upon in her new village. A dark force is at work there—a person who will stop at nothing to turn the townspeople against Morgana, even at the expense of those closest to her. Forced to defend her home, her love, and herself from all comers, Morgana must learn to harness her power, or she will lose everything.

Paula Brackston's debut novel, The Witch's Daughter, was the little book that could—with a captivating story, remarkable heroine, and eye-catching package, it has now netted over 40,000 copies in all formats. Now Paula returns with The Winter Witch, another enchanting tale of love and magic, featuring her signature blend of gorgeous writing, a fabulous and intriguing historical backdrop, and a headstrong and relatable heroine readers will cheer for.

Goodreads Summary



Morgana is an interesting character.  Her non-speaking actually made it easier to get to know her character.  I loved how she was strange...though the characters in the novel were not always so fond.  Morgana's mother worries that she cannot make a good match for her daughter and marries her off to a widower, Cai.  Cai is a very good man.  I loved his gentle and sweet ways.  The slow and steady way the relationship developed was at a good pace and made me root for the two of them.  However, not all is lovey-dovey for Morgana and Cai, something is causing Morgana a lot of trouble.

I liked how this book focused on these two characters.  I felt like I really knew them at the end of the book and really missed them when I put the book down.  The airy feel of suspense in the plot gave me spine-tingles while I was reading.  I literally couldn't wait to turn the pages.  Overall, this book is recommended to adult readers.

4 Stars


This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.

Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop!

Win a book of your choosing!


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Notes of a Tourist on Planet Earth by J.D. Smith

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Back cover copy, Notes of a Tourist on Planet Earth Some questions haunt humanity on a daily basis, or at the very least make it scratch its collective head. Why shouldn't one wear black? Who is the emitting the most greenhouse gases? What hybrids could result from genetic engineering, and what kind of secret life does ethanol have? How can one sound halfway intelligent at an art gallery or survive a poetry open mic? Most importantly of all, who do you have to please to get a table at that restaurant everybody's talking it? In NOTES OF A TOURIST ON PLANET EARTH, seasoned traveler and award-winning writer J.D. Smith answers these questions and more, many more, in stories, lists, poems and essays, along with pieces that no category could hope to contain without undergoing elective surgery. Based on research in world capitals, the bars of eight time zones and a distressing number of degree programs, this collection combines wit and erudition in ways that will make Woody Allen and Roy Blount, Jr. hear footsteps-and have Rachael Ray taking a long, hard look at herself.

Goodreads Summary

The absolute random comedic banter that many of us have been looking for has arrived. The presentation style is almost as if the tourist is a sarcastic alien picking at the ridiculousness of our existence. If you enjoyed Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, then this short, fun and absolutely hilarious book is something that demands your attention. It is a definite fork from the normal novel that you will see these days, and I love it!

The topics that are discussed range from this tourist's ideas for ice cream flavors, to his thoughts on his first visit to a dominatrix. All are presented in a light of heart and crude manor that appeals to the silly sarcastic fool that resides within us all. I was on the floor laughing at many of these passages and I recommend this as a "break from reality," fun read for anyone looking for enjoyable intelligent humor.

5 Stars

*Reviewed by Chris*  

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.

The Fountain Of The Earth by H.L. Le Roy

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Terra Vonn is fighting to survive in a destroyed world,
surrounded by unspeakable horror . . .
and things are about to get much worse.

After witnessing the horrific murder of her mother, fifteen-year-old Terra Vonn has a singular focus—exacting revenge on the killers. But before she can complete her plan, savagery intervenes, and she is cast alone into a brutal post-apocalyptic world. As she trails the murderers south—through a land filled with cannibalistic criminals, slave traders, and lunatics—the hunter becomes the hunted. Terra quickly learns that she is not as tough or as brave as she thought she was. Worse, she may be the only one who stands between what little remains of civilization and destruction.

Goodreads Summary 

Sweet revenge for a just cause is what Terra Vonn is all about. The author creates a tough and driven character that is extremely focused on retribution towards the killers of her mother. The story jumps right into the action and we learn as we go about the back story and the characters. Some stories fail at this but this epic action journey pulls off this abrupt start flawlessly.

The perils that Terra faces while tracking the killers creates a story that is a non stop action packed expedition. The slew of animals and characters that are encountered are out of this world and keep you guessing what is coming next. The post apocalyptic theme is also a great draw for readers that enjoy this type of story. Overall the writing style is easy to read and this book is a great combination of the right elements to make a story worth reading.

4 Stars

*Reviewed by Chris*

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.

Boring: Finding an Extraordinary God in an Ordinary Life by Michael Kelley


We all need reminding that God is not absent from the seemingly insignificant details of life. Today we live with a false separation between sacred and secular that was never meant to be. Work, paying bills, changing diapers . . . when Jesus enters any situation He makes even the most mundane things extraordinary.

Bored enlivens this truth as author Michael Kelley uses the narrative of Saul's rise to kingship in the Old Testament to make his fine point: we can give ourselves to ordinary life -- parenting, marriage, work, etc. -- because we fully believe in God's presence and power within those situations. They are no longer boring but important.

See every relationship, every act of kindness, and every moment for what it is: a part of God's exciting plan for your life.

Goodreads summary

Many of us feel like drones buzzing in the beehive that is encompassed by our jobs, family, friends, and anything else that may make life mundane. We live day in day out slaving for our living and sometimes find ourselves wondering why and questioning what we are building towards. This book may help you find some answers that have been searching for if you find yourself stuck in this rut.

This book speaks of finding contentment in the lives that we live and presents stories from The Bible to show examples of how looking to God can help us re-find our purpose. I personally found some of the opinions and ideas presented contrived but I can see that there are many that would find comfort in the ideas brought forth. Some variety in life is good but the idea that we should find happiness in our everyday tasks is something that we can all relate to as our jobs and life can get repetitive at times.

3.5 Stars

*Reviewed by Chris*   

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.

Sunkissed by Carys Jones


Dawn Summers is dying. It’s 1853 and as the seventeen year old continues to fade away she has visions of the father she never knew, urging her to fight for her life. 

In the small village of Fandova the only medical care is in the form of the mysterious Dr. Moralus who has a known penchant for bloodletting. Thomas, Dawn's fiancĂ©, is warned against inviting his intervention, but feels he has no choice, he pleads with the doctor to save Dawn’s life…whatever it takes. 

Whatever it ‘takes’ has some consequences neither of them expected. Now, it’s a hunt to the death, with both Dawn and Thomas determined to win.

Goodreads Summary

Here is an interesting spin on the vampire cult that is sweeping literature and TV. "Sunkissed" is a dark story that brings to light a lot of topics that we as mortals will never have the "pleasure" of understanding. Is immortality as great as people make it seem? Would you want the same things for centuries on end? These are issues that Dawn Summers faces.

She did not choose immortality and before she obtained it she was on her death bed and ready to leave this earth. I find this a very interesting thing to think about as we think about our lives. This book presents a good take on forever and the hardships that we would face if we were really going to be here that long. I also really liked the twist on the typical vampire lore that there are vampires that can walk in the sunlight. It puts a whole new perspective on the safety of the sun from the things that go bump in the night. This along with the theme of paranormal romance makes for an intriguing story that will appeal to the vampire lovers out there.

3.5 Stars

*Reviewed by Chris*

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.

The Holdout by Laurel Osterkamp


Robin wanted to win The Holdout, a cutthroat reality TV show, so she gave it her all, challenge after challenge. Then she fell for Grant, with his irresistible eyes and heartbreaking life story. But Grant was only using Robin as they competed for a million dollars. Once home, Robin wants to hide from the humiliation as episodes of The Holdout are aired, and she worries her family was right all along; she's not a survivor. Or maybe she'll have the last laugh Besides, Robin now has jury duty. And as she forges ahead, confronting her demons about bravery, justice, and romance, Robin will come to decide which is more important: the courage to stand alone, or the strength to love again. Laurel Osterkamp's award winning novels have been hailed as funny, intelligent, snarky and poignant. She is the author of four novels and two novellas, including the November Surprise series, which, like The Holdout, features the Bricker family. Laurel was recently on a federal jury, and she loves watching Survivor.

Goodreads Summary

Many Americans dream of being on a reality television show and "the holdout" lays out an all too familiar scenario that we have heard about time and time again. Grand deception to win the prize. The unfortunate case for Robin though, is that she was the victim from an attractive male that she fell for on the show. Although this sounds like a typical plot, there was more to the story than "devastated and duped girl."

When Robin returns from the show she is forced to relive the agony all over again hen it airs on national television. I would not want to have to relive the horror knowing that the whole world is watching my foolish self and laughing. The author does a great job at delivering a believable character in Robin as you watch her learn from her mistakes pick up the pieces and move on in life. The jury duty scenario that comes later in the story is a great way that the author shows Robin start to get it right. The deliberation with the fellow jury members over the trial mimics the hardships that Robin faced in the show, and we get to see her "second chance."

This is an interesting read for all you realty show lovers out there and would also be great for people who have had no exposure to this staple of modern TV.      

4 Stars

*Reviewed by Chris*
  
This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.

Weight Loss Surgery: The Real Skinny by Nick Nicholson, M.D. and B.A. Blackwood


Everybody loves a quick fix—especially when it comes to losing weight. Whether it’s a new diet, an exercise regimen, or surgery, people are always looking for the shortest path to their ideal weight.

Bariatric surgery can help you get ahead of your weight issues, but it’s not a one-and-done remedy. Surgery can give you a head start, but lasting weight loss requires maintenance. While weight loss surgery can speed up the process of achieving an ideal weight, without proper lifestyle changes, the weight will simply return. Readers of this book will discover how their emotions play an important role in their ability to maintain a healthy weight, and will learn how to address issues that may arise in their relationships after weight loss. 

Weight Loss Surgery: The Real Skinny can help. Written for people who are considering or have already undergone bariatric surgery, this guide offers honest and easy-to-read insights into both its benefits and the obstacles people face afterward.

With this book, coauthors Dr. Nick Nicholson and B. A. Blackwood have combined their shared passion for healthy living to create an informative guide that will encourage people suffering from obesity to make the necessary changes to live a healthier life.

Nicholson is one of the country’s most renowned bariatric surgeons and a recognized expert on obesity and its treatment.

Goodreads Summary

I have never been someone who struggled with weight maintenance so it was initially a stretch to find a connection to this book. However, I  have always had an interest in medical procedures and health in general so this book was able to grab my attention. I found it interesting to read about the issues that people face before and after surgery and learned a few things that I would have never though about. It is not as easy as "have surgery, get thin." 

The tips and insights that lie within the pages here are a great source of information for someone who is considering the surgery as it lays everything out in plain sight. The practical and realistic approach that it taken is also easy to follow and will leave everyone with a good base knowledge from the person having the surgery to the family members providing support in the whole process. 

4 Stars

*Reviewed by Chris 

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.

The Terrorists' Apprentice by Walter Craig


A cruise ship sails from Australia into the Indonesian Archipelago with 2500 passengers and 700 crew; among them are terrorists who plan to sink the ship with everyone on board. They've been recruited by Al Qaeda to provoke a war between Australia, one of America's staunchest allies, and Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country. They plan a massive explosion that will take more victims than 9/11. An ensemble of passengers and crew are caught in the chaos. The ship's security team is a patchwork of former cops and soldiers. The one American is a former LAPD motorcycle officer who was fired after a celebrity scandal. All he wants is to chill-out and find a new direction in life. Amongst the Australian passengers is an attractive, recently-divorced single mom, a nurse. She is seeking only rest and recuperation. As the terrorists' plot unravels the chase begins; through the ship, on to shore and across the dangerous Island of Komodo.

Goodreads Summary

Many of us would love the idea of sitting on a cruise ship on vacation and relaxing for a few days. Anyone can buy a ticket, enjoy the luxury, and soak up the sun while sipping drinks and overeating great food. This story isn't quite as happy though as the passenger's worst nightmares become reality with 2 terrorists wreaking havoc on what was supposed to be a quiet cruise.

I loved the simplicity of the terrorist plot to turn the ship into one large bomb and found it plausible unlike most ridiculous stories that we see in movies and books of this type. The variety of characters that come from different places add to the story and there are no unnecessary fillers. The story-line's movement is perfect and there is never a dull moment that leaves you waiting too long for the action to start. When the action starts, the suspense and excitement are amazing. Overall the build up to the big event goes exactly as it should and leaves nothing to be desired. This is a solid thrill ride that deserves some attention off of the book shelf.

4 Stars

*Reviewed by Chris*    

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.

The Witch by W.C. James


A few miles outside of the town of Windsor, Colorado, there was an abandoned farmhouse everyone called The Witch. It was a place where teenagers congregated, and rednecks sighted in their guns, but it was also a place that had a dark history. For years, nothing ever happened there, but one dark summer night a young couple is accosted by an angry mob of devil worshipers. The attack sets in motion a series of events that will rock the little town to its foundations.
Something sinister is brewing at the Witch, and it will take the efforts of three unlikely heroes to combat it. Buck Johnson is a young deputy who is in over his head, Dr. Reginald Cooper is a professor who specializes in the occult, and Pastor Nathan Kelly is a holy man who has done battle with Satanists before. Together they must figure out a way to stop this dangerous cult before they unleash an ancient evil, hell-bent on revenge, which left unchecked will destroy the town and all who reside there.

Barnes and Noble Summary

This definitely isn't the book for most readers.  The setting revolves around a small town in Colorado.  A desolate farmhouse is a favorite of the youth.  A lot of gossip concerns this farmhouse; when a couple is in trouble with a mob of double worshipers, it appears as if the gossip might be true.  With the help of a deputy, professor, and pastor, the darkness of the farmhouse will be obliterated.

The characters were ok; I felt like I didn't get to know the characters that well.  I would have liked to know more back-stories and traits.  The plot was pretty interesting, but has been done before in different ways.  I did like how the author carried tension throughout some of the eeriest scenes.  If some of the scenes were more drawn out, I could see this story being a great book.  This book is recommended as a borrow book to adult readers.

3 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.

The Pleasure of Memory by Welcome Cole


Beam is a smuggler, a murderer, and a rogue, who lives by the age-old rules of "Finders, keepers" and "To thy own self be true." Abandoned by his family and raised in a run-down priory by an old monk, he is consumed by his anger. He measures the worth of the world's citizens less by the character of their hearts than the gold he can pick from their pockets. However, when he receives a mysterious message from his long dead mother, his carefully constructed rules of priority and self-interest are changed forever. Wrapped within that message is an ancient map that leads him far south to the reservations of the Vaemyn, a race of savages forcefully sequestered from the world by the civilized Allied Nations. Once there, he searches through a burial ground the size of a small city where he finds an ancient artifact called the Blood Caeyl, a rare red crystal carved in the image of a sensuous eye that he believes will make him rich beyond his dreams. In his flight, he crosses paths with Chance Gnoman, a powerful Water Caeyl Mage. When Chance recognizes the Blood Caeyl, he explains the importance of the artifact in the war that is about to ensue. The artifact begins to change Beam, awakening the memories of a thousand lifetimes, and with those memories, the powers of a god.

Goodreads Summary

I found this world very interesting. It drew me in being familiar enough to make an instant connection but still fresh enough to keep things new and intriguing. The main character Beam is a product of his situation; a jerk, and a thief.  You still end up feeling sorry for him though as he was a child that was abandoned by his family and left to be raised in a monastery.

I really liked the idea behind the Blood Caeyl crystal and the powers that it possesses. It is ironic that it ended up in the hands of Beam as he is not the ideal person that most would think deserves what it bestows. Either way, it is interesting to see Beam's "fallen society" character morph because of the situation that he is dealt. It forces him to be a better man slowly but surely and definitely does not play out for him the way he originally intended. This fantasy action/adventure is definitely something worth checking out. 

4 Stars

*Reviewed by Chris*   

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.

Antiphon (The Psalms of Isaak Book 3) by Ken Scholes

Friday, December 20, 2013

Nothing is as it seems to be.

The ancient past is not dead. The hand of the Wizard Kings still reaches out to challenge the Androfrancine Order, to control the magick and technology that they sought to understand and claim for their own.

Nebios, the boy who watched the destruction of the city of Windwir, now runs the vast deserts of the world, far from his beloved Marsh Queen. He is being hunted by strange women warriors, while his dreams are invaded by warnings from his dead father.

Jin Li Tam, queen of the Ninefold Forest, guards her son as best she can against both murderous threats, and the usurper queen and her evangelists. They bring a message: Jakob is the child of promise of their Gospel, and the Crimson Empress is on her way.

And in hidden places, the remnants of the Androfrancine order formulate their response to the song pouring out of a silver crescent that was found in the wastes.

Goodreads Summary

The adventure is back again in the third book of "The Psalms of Isaak" and this follows suit with the first two that were released. We see the same characters in all of their glory with the action and adventure that we have come to know and like in this series. The bloody intense battles continue and many of the individual characters ambitions and goals cross paths.

One downside to the multiple characters and plots going on at once is that there is some overlap and as a consequence there is some of the story that comes off as a repeat upon itself. It is necessary to tell the story from the multiple points of view to get all of the characters in, however I felt it was a bit redundant at times.

The author does a good job at keeping your attention and making you want to read more and know how this story concludes. Lucky for "The Psalms of Isaak" lovers that there are more in this series coming.

3.5 Stars

*Reviewed by Chris*

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.

Canticle (The Psalms of Isaak book #2) by Ken Scholes



Come back to the Named Lands in this compelling sequel to Ken Scholes amazing novel Lamentation.

It is nine months after the end of the previous book.  Many noble allies have come to the Ninefold Forest for a Feast in honor of General Rudolfo’s  first-born child.  Jin Li Tam, his wife and mother of his heir, lies in childbed.

As the feast begins, the doors of the hall fly open and invisible assassins begin attacking.   All of Rudolfo’s noble guests are slain, including Hanric, the Marsh Queen’s Shadow.  And on the Keeper’s Gate, which guards the Named Lands from the Churning Waste, a strange figure appears, with a message for Petronus, the Hidden Pope.

Thus begins the second movement of The Psalms of Isaak, Canticle.

Goodreads Summary

The excitement continues immediately in the second book in "The Psalms of Isaak" as the opening feast of celebration gets ruined by a band of assassins. The unpredictability keeps you on the edge of your seat, and wondering what will be happening next as the plot thickens. As you are reading, there are many ways that you can picture the story going from many points in the book. Right when you think that you have something figured out, a curveball is thrown in that leaves you baffled and smiling.

One thing that really shines out in this book, is the author's creation of tension through the tough choices that the characters have to make. No one wants to have to choose between what they feel are their duties to the world, the things they love, and the wants that they have for their future. It is these choices that add depth to the characters and make you think a lot while reading. Sometimes there truly is not a best choice to a situation and we have to just pick one, and Scholes sets this situation up many times with the characters.

As this story is continuing on to a third installment, there is much setup for the next book throughout this one. This is worth a read and the excitement will come again.
  
4 Stars

*Reviewed by Chris*

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.