Wednesday, December 11, 2013

It's In the Cards

A Sealed Fate by Lisa Gordon

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.

Summary: Upbeat and contemporary in style, this riveting narrative features an eclectic mix of characters awash with local color. To escape the pain of failed relationships and careers, both Valda and Larissa take themselves to the exotic locale of Dubai, seeking not only success but a general purpose in life. Valda does indeed find fulfillment--and, to her astonishment, love--but all is threatened when she is introduced to a billionaire Sheikh. Her clandestine relationship with the Sheikh propels her into a murky web of deceit, and she turns to her friend for help. As an astrologer, Larissa predicts that Valda and the Sheikh's destinies were decided from the moment of their first meeting, but she keeps the dire outcome foretold in the charts a secret. Together, the two women soon find themselves gambling in a game of cosmic Russian roulette where the stakes are their lives and their adversary is fate itself. Bravely merging genres and sensitively embracing personal relationships, this spiritual and gritty thriller illustrates the complex theme of choice versus chance.

Review: A tale of destiny, fate, and the decisions we make.

This book bills itself as an example of fate versus choice. Personally, I do not believe in fate or destiny. I believe in chance and coincidence. I believe in making one’s own future. So I was interested to see how fate and destiny would be dealt with in this book. I can certainly see the consequence of choice when Valda decides to move to Dubai, gets a music gig, and then gets involved with the Sheikh. I honestly don’t understand why she got involved with him for she had to have known that once she started, she couldn’t stop.

A lot of this book focuses on Valda growing as a person and getting over her past, which was nice to see. Unfortunately, it takes up a lot of the book and detracts from the thriller aspect of the book. The tone of the book changes when Valda and Larissa become friends. Horoscopes come into play and they are used to help decipher Valda’s fate. I didn’t like this since it made it seem like free will didn’t matter. The ending was rather abrupt, unexpected, and downright sad. It does tie into the theme of fate and destiny.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to someone who is looking for a thriller with a fortune telling aspect.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Poignant, Political, and Powerful

The Empire of Things by C. J. Stone

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.

Summary: Politics, paganism and .... Vlad the Impaler. Selected stories from CJ Stone from 2003 to the present. Meet Ivor Coles, a British Tommy killed in action in September 1915, lost, and then found again. Visit Mothers Club in Erdington, the best psychedelic music club in the UK in the '60s. Celebrate Robin Hood's Day and find out what a huckle duckle is. Travel to Stonehenge at the Summer Solstice and carouse with the hippies. Find out what a Ranter is, and why CJ Stone thinks that he's one. Take LSD with Dr Lilly, the psychedelic scientist. Meet a headless soldier or the ghost of Elvis Presley in Gabalfa, Cardiff. Journey to Whitstable, to New York, to Malta and to Transylvania, and to many other places, real and imagined, political and spiritual, transcendent and mundane. As The Independent says, this is "The best guide to the underground since Charon ferried dead souls across the Styx."

Review: A collection of stories and articles ranging from legalizing of marijuana, Stonehenge, hippies, and the state of the British government.

With books that contain only a few stories, I can remember details easily enough. With books with more stories, it’s become harder for me to remember individual stories. So in short, I should have taken notes and I do apologize for that as I will only mention a few stories. I did enjoy this collection and I feel it contains enough of a variety that a reader should find something to enjoy.

The story I found most poignant was Requiem for a Dreamer. It really does show how alcohol can destroy a life. It’s easy enough to say it was a preventable tragedy, but reality is much harder to fix with words.

I enjoyed the article about Drug Problems or Drug Solutions? It’s a very polarizing topic and easily has people up in arms. I really liked the thoughtful and logical way the author approached the situation.

I also enjoyed the section about Stonehenge. It’s a fascinating place with so much unknown, including how it was built, why it was built, and what is was used for. Stonehenge can represent different things to different people.

My least favorite section was on the state of the British government. Perhaps that is because I am American and now too terribly familiar with British history in the 20th century. The author has very strong views towards Margaret Thatcher which might upset a few people.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy nonfiction stories about politics, drugs, and other current issues.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Power of the Creator

The Path of the Fallen (The Fallen Chronicles) by Dan O'Brien

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.

Summary: The world is broken. The coming of the Intelligence pushed the remnants of humanity deep into the tundra. What remained was a vast sea of ice and the machine city, Culouth. E’Malkai Armen, descendent of the Fallen, has been a citizen of Culouth his entire life. A bitter betrayal, and the inception of a war that will destroy millions of lives, forces E’Malkai to confront the past and undertake a pilgrimage that is his by birthright. As he travels to the cold tundra of the north, the realm prepares for war. The Path of the Fallen is a lonely and arduous path, but it must be walked for the sake of all mankind.

Review: An interesting and different fantasy story intertwined with science fiction elements that suffers from being too long.

The Path of the Fallen is an interesting mix of fantasy and science fiction elements. Most of it is heavily fantasy, but a few science fiction elements creep in and add another layer to the story. I am curious as to what other planets are like. This book throws you into the world and I didn't get much of a good feel for the world. My enjoyment also suffered from the book being too long. There were long stretches were not much happened and the big action of the book didn't happen until the last 50 pages.

I'm always a little ambivalent about prophecies, but the prophecies in this book made sense and fit in with the large mythology of the world. I liked all the unique places that E'Malkai traveled to. Since it's almost winter, it was very apt the role that winter and the cold played in the story. I liked E'Malkai. Sure, he was the subject of a prophecy and that he would obtain immense power, but he was very human. He often doubted himself and didn't want the power he obtained.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those who don't mind slower moving fantasy stories with a dash of science fiction.

Friday, November 22, 2013

To Thrive

Gifts of the Peramangk by Dean Mayes

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.

Summary: In 1950s Australia, during the height of the divisive White Australia Policy, Virginia, a young Aboriginal girl is taken from her home and put to work on an isolated and harsh outback station. Her only solace: the violin, taught to her secretly by the kind-hearted wife of the abusive station owner. However, Virginia's prodigious musical gift cannot save her from years of hardship and racism.

Decades later, her eight year old granddaughter Ruby plays the violin with the passion Virginia once possessed. Amidst poverty, domestic violence and social dysfunction, Ruby escapes her circumstance through her practice with her grandmother's frail, guiding hand. Ruby’s zeal attracts the attention of an enigmatic music professor and with his help, she embarks on an incredible journey of musical discovery that will culminate in a rare opportunity. But with two cultural worlds colliding, her gift and her ambition will be threatened by deeply ingrained distrust, family jealousies and tragic secrets that will define her very identity.

Review: A very touching and moving tale of a young girl who is able to leave an abusive past behind and truly make something of herself.

Australia seems like a world away to me (and I do believe it’s half a world away). As a white American, I have never experienced the type of racism that Ruby and her family go through. I was also unaware that there was such ill treatment of Aborigines in the 20th century in Australia although it should come as no surprise. I do share a similar childhood background as Ruby does so I can sympathize with her plight.

I do feel that even if a reader has nothing in common with Ruby and her family, they will still feel a variety of emotions including sympathy, despair, hope, and joy. Ruby is incredibly talented although life seems to be conspiring to work against her. It really did seem like Ruby would be stuck in that depressing situation forever. Luckily, after a series of events Ruby was able to pull the pieces back together and finally pursue her dreams. My one qualm is that there was too many coincidences and too many happy accidents, which made the happy ending seem a bit forced.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those who enjoy stories of people triumphing over adversity or fiction set in Australia.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I Want to Suck Your Blood

Denial - The Varcolac Journals by Adele Carrington

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.

Summary: "After careful consideration and contemplation involving far too much alcohol I am resigned to the fact that I hate my life. I am a single thirty-one year old woman, living alone in my two bed terrace on the outskirts of Leeds. I have no job and three failed relationships, the last ending when the bastard bit me, seriously, this guy drew blood." Faith Thomlinson's life isn't living up to expectations, her dull monotonous life had been interrupted by the wealthy enigmatic Jonathan. It's a shame that he isn't all he seems, or is that he is more than he seems? Jonathan holds a bloody secret that will endanger Faith's life and challenge everything she thinks she knows. Adele Carrington is the new name in Urban Fantasy. A truly British book that takes you on page turning journey of Denial.

Review: An enjoyable tale of vampires with plenty of sex and violence and an unusual mythology.

This was the story of a relatively normal and possibly boring thirty something woman whose life gets a lot more interesting thanks to vampires. I might have very well found Faith’s story boring if it was just the diary of a thirty something woman (sounds like chick lit to me which I don’t like). This book was told in a diary format. I am somewhat ambivalent about stories told using diary entries because there is usually so much detail told in a diary and I find it hard to believe that someone could remember all that occurred.

There is plenty of blood, violence, and sex in the story. At times, the sex and Faith’s conquests get boring, but they do play a part in the story. While I wasn’t always the biggest fan of Faith, she could be strong and do what was necessary. My favorite part of the book was the mythology. While doing research on the varcolac (I'm a librarian. I like to do research), I learned about moroi and strogoi which are in the Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead, which I enjoy.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that are looking for an unusual vampire read.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Time Continuum

Black Earth: The Broken Daisy (Black Earth, #2) by David N. Alderman

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.

Summary: The stars have fallen, and the world is tilting into darkness…

“From dust you came, to ash you go.” – These terrifying words are found spray-painted on an office wall in Tucson. It is a message left by Legion, an otherworldly entity that traveled to Earth in the fallen stars. Now Legion is enveloping the world in darkness, disintegrating almost everything in its path, leaving nothing to stand in its way of the planet’s destruction.

Nathan Pierce is on the run for forging the president’s mandatory barcode tattoo. With a bounty on his head, Nathan finds an unexpected ally in Cynthia Ruin, who agrees to help him save his sister, Daisy, from being executed for treason. But Cynthia’s mother, Theresa, is the one who betrayed Nathan and Daisy. Surrounded by suspicion and doubt, Nathan struggles to stay one step ahead of the world that’s against him, and keep tabs on Cynthia, who may or may not end up selling him out in the end.

In the midst of the darkness, those still alive are forced to fight against Legion’s malevolence or lose their humanity beneath it.

Review: A decent continuation of the first book although one that goes on for a bit too long and leaves the reader with too many questions.

This book continues the first novel. It's been a while since I've read it, but it all came back quickly enough. I hadn't realize how little time had actually passed since the stars fell. Not much time passed in the second book either although Alderman tried to squeeze as much as possible in the book. This book is also a mix of science fiction and fantasy which works pretty well although it's slowly going to fantasy.

While this book was action packed and there were plenty of times where I had an emotional reaction to events, I felt there was too much in this book, especially for how much time has actually passed. God and Legion (the devil perhaps?) take an even bigger part in this book. There are also plenty of supernatural creatures and alien beings showing up. There are also so many questions. I understand that not everything can be answered, but I would have liked some answers at least. I do like that the action is finally coming to a head and hopefully some exciting things will happen in book three.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book and the series for those who like science fiction and fantasy with a touch of the supernatural and mythology.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Don't Drink the Water

Persephone (Daughters of Zeus #1) by Kaitlin Bevis

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.

Summary: There are worse things than death, worse people too.

The “talk” was bad enough, but how many teens get told that they’re a goddess? When her mom tells her, Persephone is sure her mother has lost her mind. It isn’t until Boreas, the god of winter, tries to abduct her that she realizes her mother was telling the truth. Hades rescues her, and in order to safely bring Persephone to the Underworld he marks her as his bride. But Boreas will stop at nothing to get Persephone. Despite her growing feelings for Hades, Persephone wants to return to the living realm. Persephone must find a way to defeat Boreas and reclaim her life.

Review: An enjoyable retelling of the Hades and Persephone myth with an interesting mythology although it suffers from a predictable love story.

I love mythology and stories with mythology in them. Since no one believes in the Greek gods anymore, it's always interesting to see how an author portrays them and explains their continued existence in a modern world. I liked how Bevis explained how some of the gods still existed (although it seemed a bit too convenient). I also liked how gods obtain their powers. I liked that this book was a retelling of the Hades and Persephone myth although it still began with a kidnapping.

I was really enjoying this book until I figured that Hades and Persephone were going to fall for each other even though he's immortal and she's only 16. I get that she's a god, but why would Hades have any interest in her? He's also super attractive. I would have preferred him to be scarred in some way and have Persephone fall for who he is under the skin, not his looks. I also wish the Underworld was more like the Underworld instead of a modern playground for the dead. I did really like the twist at the end.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy young adult mythology books.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Lightbringer

The Whispers of the Fallen by J.D. Netto

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review. Review based an old edition of the book.

Summary: Ever since the dawn of days, rumors about the Diary of Lucifer echoed throughout Elysium. Hidden from all human knowledge, the Diary was kept a secret, locked away in the small village of Agalmath.

Isaac and Demetre find themselves in a dangerous journey as they uncover the truth about the Diary and those who guarded it for all these years. However, for Isaac and Demetre, danger lies at every step, hidden in the most unexpected places.

Hunted by the Nephilins and the Fallen Stars, they must find others who will join them in the battle against the coming darkness.

Review: A decent read with an interesting fantasy setting with biblical mythology that suffered from flat characters and telling, not showing.

I always enjoy Christian and biblical mythology in a fantasy type setting. Most of what I've read has been in a modern setting on earth so it was nice to read about a different world that still had a Christian mythology. I also liked the addition of the Diary of Lucifer and descendants of the Council being able to open it. It was interesting that Lucifer was still called Lucifer even after he feel since Lucifer means Light Bringer and he lost his light after rebelling.

I enjoyed the story decently well. I did like Isaac and sympathized with his plight along with the Nephilims who kept trying to fight against their nature. Most of the other characters feel flat, especially Nephle. Yes, she was powerful, but she felt like a child. I did enjoy that half of the book was told from her eyes. I must admit to being torn on which side to root for. The book also suffered from telling, not showing, especially when it came to the dialogue. I can tell when someone is upset or annoyed. I don't constantly need descriptive words.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to that enjoy fantasy with Christian and biblical mythology.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Water Greater Than Gold

Secrets (Clockwork Skies, #1) by J. Cunningham

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.

Summary: Gelton isn't the revolutionary type. If you asked him, it would bethe last thing he would ever use to describe himself - if you could
get the gefling to answer at all. When he gets entangled in events
larger than his own story, he finds that he's got more than a few
things to learn about himself.

Part speculative history, part fantasy, and definitively steampunk,
Secrets is the first novel in the Clockwork Skies series. Action
packed and full of political intrigue, romance, and richly detailed
fantasy settings, Secrets will entice you from the first page and keep
you guessing until the last.

Review: An enjoyable tale of intrigue, murder, and mayhem set in an alternate steampunk world.

I haven’t read steampunk in a while and after reading Secrets, I am hankering for more. Steampunk is such a fun genre with so many possibilities plus I love the clothes. A quick check on Goodreads reveals that there are many new steampunk releases and I already found some books I want to read. I’m sure I would have gotten back to steampunk eventually as there are steampunk series that I want to read, but I’m not sure how soon I would have gotten there without Secrets.

I love the world that was developed. It focused on far reaching issues and other peoples, colonies, and countries and not just England. I loved the setting, especially poisonous and dangerous water (I’m assuming something like acid rain or possibly a microbe). The different races felt a bit fantasyish to me, but still worked within the context of the book. I liked the characters, especially Gelton and Mia. And considering the few steampunk romances I’ve read and the ones that have been coming out, it was nice to have a romance that was sincere and believable and one that I really liked.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy steampunk.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Fall

The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians by Peter Heather

Summary: A leading authority on the late Roman Empire and on the barbarians, Heather relates the extraordinary story of how Europe's barbarians, transformed by centuries of contact with Rome on every possible level, eventually pulled the empire apart. He shows first how the Huns overtuned the existing strategic balance of power on Rome's European frontiers to force the Goths and others to seek refuge inside the empire. This prompted two generations of struggle, during which new barbarian coalitions, formed in response to Roman hostility, brought the Roman west to its knees. The Goths first destroyed a Roman army at the battle of Hadrianople in 378 and went on to sack Rome in 410. The Vandals spread devastation in Gaul and Spain befor conquering North Africa, the breadbasket of the western empire, in 439. We then meet Attila the Hun, whose reign of terror swept from Constantinople to Paris, but whose death in 453 ironically precipitated a final desperate phase of Roman collapse, culminating in the Vandals' defeat of the massive Byzantine Armada, the west's last change for survival.

Peter Heather convincingly argues that the Roman Empire was not on the brink of social or moral collapse. What brought it to an end were the barbarians.

Review: An enjoyable thesis that argues that barbarians were responsible for the collapse of the Roman Empire.

I want to study medieval literature and I know how much has been lost over hundreds of years. I can't imagine how much has been lost over thousands of years. The Roman Empire must been hard to study and draw conclusions from. There is so much lost information and so many conflicting accounts. I can see how easy it would be to draw your own conclusions. While I have been wanting to read Gibbon for a while, I did not know that he believed that Christianity was the reason that the Roman Empire fell.

Heather believes it is the barbarians that caused Rome to fall. He goes very in depth and provides as much information as possible to support his thesis. As one reviewer mentioned, Heather focuses on the barbarians almost solely as the reason Rome fell. While I need to learn more about Rome and the possible reasons for its fall, the fall must be due to more than just the barbarians alone. I learned a good deal of information about Rome, the empire, and what plagued it. I will try to read more history and scholarship on the topic.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those interested in Roman history.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Share and Share Alike

Taming Taylor (Romps & Rakehells #3) by Madelynne Ellis

Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Summary: Consummate rakehell, Taylor Hulme has two passions in life, extravagant clothes and buxom women, in that order. Never without a spare coat, Taylor, always keeps at least two lovers, just in case the first cannot satisfy his needs. Naturally, he takes utmost care to ensure his lovers never meet.

When Amelia Percival and Verity Quinn discover they’re both being wooed by the same man, they join forces in order to tame Taylor’s rakish behaviour. Holding him captive in his bedchamber, they subject him to a night of erotic torture. Come dawn, Taylor’s sworn to change his errant ways, but he isn’t the only one who has learnt an important lesson about relationships. When passion burns with such intensity, sharing isn’t always such a bad thing.

Review: A short, but very sexy read about one man whose two mistresses find out about the other.

I've read the first in the series (but not the second) and I enjoyed it. They are quick erotica reads. Although the historical setting doesn't play too big of a part in the stories, I still enjoy the setting (I'm a sucker for historical romance). As a warning, this is a m/f/f story so some might not enjoy it. I loved the premise and how Taylor gets his just desserts. The story ends on a happy note with everyone extremely satisfied.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy m/f/f erotica.

Friday, November 1, 2013

They Fall and Get Back Up Again

Life, Death and Iguanas by Marc Newhouse

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.

Summary: Life, Death and Iguanas is the story of the life and death of a strong woman who chose to fast until her end rather than endure a living death of Alzheimer’s in a nursing home. It’s also the story of her three sons, struggling to help her, warring against each other, and finally uniting. Lastly, it’s the author’s story of depression and loss, with a bittersweet regeneration and growth at the end. Balancing life with grief, laughter with tears, this book suggests a better way to die—and to live.

Review: A very touching tale of one woman’s desire to go out on her own terms and how that affected her family and friends.

Although they only play a small part in the book, I loved the iguanas throughout the book. I am a fan of reptiles including lizards and snakes and I enjoyed that they were in the book. They added to my enjoyment of a touching and poignant tale. The story Newhouse tells in incredible. Her mother, father, family, and friends come to life through his descriptions. I had never thought much of Wisconsin until now. It seems like an amazing place to visit and even live.

I can’t imagine what Newhouse and his family went through after learning about their mother’s decision. Technically, what Frances did could be considered suicide, but I don’t view it that way. I see it as a woman who decided to go out on her own terms and that takes a lot of courage. But perhaps the people who needed the most courage were the ones left behind. It can be so difficult to be the one left behind. There is plenty of family tension and fighting and Newhouse’s own ongoing struggles with depression.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to people who are looking for a touching and poignant tale about death and dying.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Where A Super Dares Not to Tread

The Appetite of Floyd by Joe Schlegel

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.

Summary: Godrick is an out of work loser who robs a bank with a few others to earn some quick money. But when he's double-crossed and left behind to deal with the cops, he has to make the decision to return to his pitiful life or go after the one who betrayed him. And that's all just Chapter One. Floyd is a serial murderer/rapist (in that order) who is stalking his 18th victim. Reeling from a lifetime of rejection from women, the middle-aged virgin fell madly in love with damn near every woman he saw, and it soon pushed him to act. The story bounces between multiple characters, highlighting several storylines that ultimately intersect - sometimes in unexpected ways. There's a dangerous new drug killing people on the streets, corruption from police force to politicians, and a people who are calling out for a hero to save them from their oppressive lives in this Dystopian thriller about the vices and demons of man.

Review: A rather depressing tale of superheroes, a corrupt city, a serial murderer/rapist, and one man caught in the middle.

This book wasn’t as much about Floyd as I had been expecting from the title. He does certainly still play a big role though. Godrick is a character I feel like I should hate, but I don’t. He is involved in a bank robbery in which the robbers get screwed over by some other robbers. He gets his money back in a very brutal way. He does save a number of people with his new found power and probably will continue to save more people.

I liked the juxtaposition between the corrupt city and Supers and Heroes. No Super has dared to show his or her face in the corrupt city. I enjoyed the commentary on what a mask means to people and what it allows. Very little is learned about Supers and about how Godrick got his power and I would have liked to learn more about that. The subplot of the super steroids either killing people by bursting apart their muscles or turning them into unstoppable monsters was interesting. Floyd was stopped at the end, but it was a very tragic ending.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to people who enjoy superhero fiction or gritty crime dramas.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I'm Not Saying It Was Aliens, But It Was Aliens

Aliens Are Real: Part 2 by Sabrina Sumsion

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review. 

Summary: Jasmine knows aliens are on earth, but she doesn't know if they can be trusted.

When Yumi and her alien housemates ask Jasmine to help them learn more about humans, Jasmine gets the feeling that they aren't telling her everything. Willing to do anything for Yumi, Jasmine agrees to help the aliens keep their cover and do some research. How horrible can pretending to be the girlfriend of Honorio, an alien in a handsome young man's body, get? It's only in front of her father so no problem, right?

Unfortunately, Honorio decides to interfere with Jasmine's budding relationship with her human love interest, Mark. Furious, Jasmine calls off the pretend relationship and puts Honorio's plans in danger.

Honorio and his team need something and the easiest way to get it is through Jasmine's father. He knows he needs to keep a clear head, but his human emotions interfere with his logic. He was only thinking of Jasmine's best interests when he subtly tried to scare off the human interloper. He's sure it's for her own good -and his. Without her dad, Honorio's plans could blow up in his face.

If only he could stop thinking about her.

Review: A short sequel to Aliens are Real: Part 1 that was enjoyable, but was too short and brought up even more questions.

It's been a while since I have the read first book. I enjoyed the first book although I was hoping for some answers in the second book. Unfortunately, the second book is shorter than the first one and brings up some more questions. Part 2 primarily focused on Honorio using Jasmine for cover and Jasmine wanting to get closer to Mark. I am afraid that a love triangle will be occurring in the next book. I am personally sick of love triangles in young adult literature.

Not much happens in this book. I was really hoping for more. Part 2 merely feels like a bridge for Part 3 (if and when that is coming out). There is some action near the very end, but I still didn't learn what the aliens were searching for (other than it's important). I didn't like Honorio much in this book. He's using Jasmine because of who her father is. I understand that he is starting to have feelings for her, but great relationships do not start off with one person using the other.


Recommendation: I would recommend this series to those that enjoy young adult science fiction novels involving aliens.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Shakespeare Like You've Never Seen Before (Warning: Adult Content!)

Warning: Adult Content!

The Tragic Foreplay of Romeo and Juliet (Sensual Shakespeare Series) by M.A. DeWitt

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.

Summary: The Classic Tale...

Eighteen-year-old Juliet is betrothed to Paris, a rich and arrogant relative to royalty. Across town, Romeo is in love with the beautiful Rosaline who treats him like dirt. Romeo and Juliet both dream of sex and love in the midst of their unhappiness.

One Fateful Night...

During a masquerade ball, Romeo and Juliet meet for the first time, changing both of their lives forever. Without exchanging names, they are drawn to one another. Ready to live out their wild fantasies of love and ecstasy together.

A Bitter Feud...

After the lovers learn they are from rival families, they strive forward, putting their faith in love and lust. With the help of a kinky best friend and a nurse with a secret sexual hunger, will Romeo and Juliet finally find their happy ending?

50 Shades of Shakespeare...

This adult adaptation of the iconic Shakespeare play is not for children. It is for those who find poetry in erotic fantasies. It goes beyond the classic romance to find the dark desires in each and every one of us.

Join us in Verona, where families and bodies collide...

Review: A very unusual and very erotic take on Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet.

While I enjoyed the original Romeo and Juliet, it was one of my least favorite of his plays. I personally prefer the tragedies and histories. And despite what people might think, Romeo and Juliet is not a tragedy in the traditional Greek tragedy sense. I had previously read an erotic short story featuring Mrs. Capulet and Mrs. Montague. It was a decent read and it made interested to see how this work would turn out. As the title suggests, there is a good deal of sex in the book, but it's also surprisingly humorous.

The author mixes both medieval concepts and modern concepts. There will be mentions of lords, ladies, princes, and castles next to mentions of Facebook, P90X, cell phones, and modern day like hotels. This book doesn't take itself too seriously. The sex was decent although did feel a bit strained at times. Unlike the original play, this book had a happy ending (and Juliet is 18 instead of 13). I did enjoy this erotic retelling, but it was still weird reading it and I could easily see a lot of people not liking it.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to someone familiar with Shakespeare's works and with a sense of humor.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Shades of Grey

Children of the Enemy by D.J. Swykert

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.

Summary: Jude St. Onge is a man on the run. He is an addict who has stolen a large cache of drugs from Detroit drug kingpin Mitchell Parson, who is determined to retrieve the drugs and take his revenge on Jude. After the torture slaying of Jude's wife, and the kidnapping of Jude's daughter, Angelina, the last thing Mitchell Parson expected to hear when he picked up the phone was: "I have your sons." Raymond Little, with a murder conviction in his past and newspaper reporter Ted Rogers have become unusual allies with Jude in an attempt to rescue his daughter. Together they kidnap Parson's two boys, hoping to secure Angelina's release. Risks for both hostage-takers skyrocket as the two sides square off, while Detroit Homicide Detectives work the case unaware of all that is at stake in the investigation. Only Ray and Ted can save the endangered children in Children of the Enemy.

Review: A oftentimes violent but satisfying tale of revenge and fighting for what is most important.

The author warned me that this book could be violent and it certainly was, but not as violent as I thought it would be. This book could still be triggering to some people who have gone through violence or similar situations. What I like about this book is that while the violence was certainly violent, it was often for a good purpose (for Raymond and Ted). Ray was an unlikely hero, but he was the right person to get Angelina back and was earnestly trying to help Jude get better. Ted was mostly caught in the middle, but he still did the right thing even though it could have meant jail time.

Children of the Enemy features an incredible amount of coincidences that occur to bring all the characters together. It was close to being too much, but it didn't get over. The biggest coincidence was Jude meeting Raymond. Without that, the story would have been much different. While I am not personally familiar with the life Jude was in, I can only imagine how horrible it is. Jude is the most tragic character in this book.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that are looking for a realistic and gritty crime drama.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down

Dead Ringer by Allen Wyler

Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Summary: While speaking at a Hong Kong medical conference, neurosurgeon Dr. Lucas McCrae slips the cloth off a cadaver’s head during a routine medical demonstration, and is overwhelmed with the shock by what’s staring back at him: His best friend, Andy Baer.Stunned, McCrae races back to Seattle to discover that Andy is in fact missing and may have been murdered by a gang of body snatchers who operate a legit funeral business and make a fortune by selling recovered body parts to medical researchers.
McCrae teams up with an unlikely pair—a beautiful but hardnosed female cop and a gang member whose family was victimized by the body parts ring—to try and expose a macabre web of corruption that involves law enforcement, politicians, funeral home curators and murdered prostitutes.
Internationally renowned neurosurgeon Allen Wyler takes us deep into a nightmarish scenario, shockingly ripped from recent headlines, and delivers a horrifically plausible, page-turning thriller.

Review: A medical mystery with murder, mayhem, and body parts.

I really loved the premise of this mystery. I love just about anything medical: old diseases, current and rare diseases, interesting treatments (like skin grafts), bodies, skeletons, how all the parts of the body work together, and why it goes wrong. Ditto of Ditto’s Funeral Home is murdering people and selling their body parts to doctors and medical researchers. I enjoyed learning about what bodies and body parts are used for. Ditto’s scheme is certainly devious and reminds me of doctors who bought bodies to dissections on, primarily the story of Dr. Robert Knox and the Burke and Hare murders.

That previous paragraph contained no spoilers since Ditto’s scheme is revealed in the book’s summary. I do wish the big secret hadn’t been revealed on the book. A summary that related finding his dead friend’s head in Hong Kong and then figuring out how he got there and who put him there would have been enough. I also didn’t like that Wendy, the cop, was attractive. Why couldn’t it have been a less attractive woman or even a man? While she did play an integral part to the story, I felt like her character was just wish fulfillment. There was plenty of action in this book and a satisfying ending.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those interested in medical thrillers and mysteries.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Mayans, Mystery, and Murder

The Xibalba Murders (An Archaeological Mystery #1) by Lyn Hamilton

Summary: Lara McClintoch, her marriage ended and her antiques business sold, eagerly embarks on a trip to Mexico to help an old friend solve a mystery. On arrival, her friend puts off their meeting and then disappears. After Lara witnesses a brazen robbery of a valuable statue of the ancient Mayan civilization and stumbles on a corpse in a museum of antiquities, she becomes a police suspect. Afraid of the police and unsure whom to trust, Lara follows clues pointing to black marketeers and zealous revolutionaries. This dangerous trail takes her to remote archaeological ruins, lush jungles, and bustling streets filled with revelers. Lara engages in a thrilling battle of wits and courage to unmask a killer and stop a tomb-robber in the shadowy world of Xibalba, the Lords of Death.

Review: A mystery that focused heavily on the main female character instead of the actual mystery.

I read very few mysteries. The setting has to be a time period that I very much enjoy such as medieval times or during the time of the Tudors. I would probably have never picked up this book if I hadn’t used it for an A-Z reading challenge. It’s hard to find books that begin with X even though X is a great letter (my middle name starts with X). I had hoped the Mayan aspect would have made the book enjoyable, but alas, it was not to be.

Instead the mystery focused mainly on the main character who seemed full of self-pity. Lara is called to help an old friend with a possible discovery. Yes, Lara does happen to be a graduate student studying the Mayan, but she always seems to be having things explained to her like she doesn’t know anything at all. I know it’s for the benefit of the reader, but still. It made her look stupid. I also didn’t care for her pity party throughout the book. The action of the book didn’t get started until about halfway through the book and the mystery wasn’t exciting either.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that are looking for a more character driven niche mystery.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The History You Won't Read About in Textbooks

The Dark Side of Sunshine by Paul Guzzo

Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. 

Summary: Historians seem to love painting a picture of Tampa’s past as one of immigrants happily working side-by-side to create a utopian society that became the cigar capital of the world and later a destination hailed as one of “the nation’s next best cities.” While this is true to some extent, Tampa also has a dark side and it is this element that is explored in the book, “The Dark Side of Sunshine.”

This book is a collection of stories that explore Tampa’s three eras of infamy – the early years of danger, where the greatest fear was the nightmarish individuals who were allowed to roam the nights in a city without a proper law enforcement organization in place; the mid-1900s when one of the most power criminal syndicates in the nation made its home in Tampa and when a another nation’s revolutionary war affected the city’s residents; and the late 1900s to early 2000s when Tampa became a sexual playground.

Review: A collection of stories showcasing the seedy underbelly of Tampa's history with plenty of colorful characters.

There's a saying that history is written by the victors. This may be true, but it certainly doesn't erase the fact that there is so much history out there that many people don't know about. This is certainly true with Tampa, which The Dark Side of Sunshine so strongly reveals. I know almost nothing about Tampa's history (I'm a New Jersey native and have never lived in Florida), and while I knew that immigrants aren't going to happily work together side by side, I was still surprised about the gangs, drugs, and sex in Tampa.

As a New Jersey native, I'm used to hearing about crime, violence, and gangs, but nothing to the level that occurred in Tampa. It's ironic how people could become self made millionaires thanks to illicit methods. They didn't seem to have much choice though. I enjoyed the histories that Guzzo tells although I did find myself getting a little bored at the end. I think my favorite tales were the ones involving freedom of speech and the ability to have totally naked strippers.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy non-mainstream history and/or have any interest in Florida.

Monday, October 21, 2013

To the Internets

Incubus Moon by Andrew Cheney-Feid

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.

Summary: What if the darkness could whisper your name? Touch you?

And what if that same darkness...was calling you home?

Austin Iverson experiences this firsthand on the eve of his thirtieth birthday, when a sinister entity manifests to reveal the startling truth of his birth. He is not human. He is Incubus! A species of carnal demon hunted and slaughtered to extinction by the Shadow Walkers over a millennia ago, or so the supernatural community believes. But inheriting incubus power comes at a steep price. His awakening sets in motion a catastrophic chain of events that will not only threaten his own life, but jeopardize the lives of everyone he holds dear, because it unleashes an immortal enemy consumed by an unquenchable thirst for his blood; a creature so merciless it will stop at nothing until it fully possesses Austin--for the ritual sacrifice of an incubus is the key that will grant this ancient evil dominion over Mankind.

INCUBUS MOON is the antidote to the predictable urban fantasy yarn, turning the genre on its ass-kicking head by daring to break the rules and offer readers a new hero to root for; one whose lust for adventure and wry sense of humor is bested only by an uncanny knack for landing at the heart of danger.

Advisory: This novel is highly erotic and targeted at adult audiences uninhibited by hetero- and homoerotic themes.

Review: An interesting tale of an incubus and the vampires that want to steal his power.

Austin is an incubus. He becomes an incubus on his 30th birthday and has plenty of dreams with mysterious woman and a dark presence. Of course he goes to Google to find out about being an incubus. I'm always amused by internet searching in books since the searcher seems to either find decent information or finds out nothing at all. Searching for incubus demon returns over a million results. It's just a nitpick with me, but I am a librarian and help people to find the information that they need, which may mean looking at many sources and culling the chafe from the wheat.

The author warns about the high erotic level of this novel. There is a decent amount of sex and there was enough male-male interaction that I was tempted to label this m-m. While sex does play a big part in this story (Austin is an incubus), the main focus is on Austin being hunted by vampires who wish to perform a ritual on him. There's plenty of action and many demon powers. I liked the powers gained temporarily by Austin when he drinks a vampire's blood. The epilogue leaves room for a sequel, which I would read.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy supernatural novels who are not afraid of a lot of sex and male-male interactions.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fortune Rules All

The Sound and the Echoes by Dew Pellucid

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.

Summary: Imagine that everyone around you has a mirror image living somewhere else. Your world is like a sound, which produced that other world of echoes. And in this land men are governed by a terrible law--every Echo has to die, if his Sound dies.

One Sound especially must die. The Prince's Sound. The Fate Sealers and Fortune Tellers will make sure of that! Because after this Sound dies, the Echo Prince will have to die too.

Now, twelve-year-old Will Cleary is about to discover that he is the Sound the Echoes are hunting.

And so begins his perilous adventure into a see-through, sparkling world, filled with spying crystal balls, an eerie fortress of castaway children, a hunt for clues in an ancient book of riddles, and a last-chance escape through a frozen gem-studded lake into a secret land that holds the key to placing the Prince on the throne and returning freedom to the Echoes.

Review: An enjoyable adventure with unusual creatures, strange lands, and plenty of ice to go around.

I love the idea of Sounds and Echoes. It’s a brilliant idea. Sounds always have echoes and humans certainly make enough sound so why wouldn’t humans have echoes? The echoes live underground apparently in the areas around the poles. Echoes are see through and live in the cold. There is a whole other society underground with a king, Fortune Tellers, Fate Sealers, and plenty of intrigue. There’s much more, but I don’t want to spoil it for you. Part of the fun of this book is making new discoveries about the world Will finds himself in.

This book really starts off with a bang, jumping right into the adventure. The action does slow down after Will arrives at the Orphanage. A lot of Will’s time is spent trying to figure out a big riddle. It does pick back up near the end of the book. The book ends on a happy note although there was some unpleasantness getting there. There were a few loose ends at the conclusion of the book. I would gladly read another book set in this world.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to fans of childrens fantasy or anyone looking for an unusual fantasy read.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

To the Moon

First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen

Summary: On July 20, 1969, the world stood still to watch thirty-eight-year-old American astronaut Neil A. Armstrong become the first person to step on the surface of another heavenly body. Perhaps no words in human history became better known than those few he uttered at that historic moment. In a penetrating exploration of American hero worship, Hansen addresses the complex legacy of the First Man, as an astronaut and an individual.

Review: A very in depth look at Neil Armstrong’s life up until and during the Apollo 11 mission.

As someone who is fascinated by space race history and space exploration and the efforts to get us there, it was about time that I read a biography about one of the astronauts. As the first man who was on the moon, Neil Armstrong is a logical choice although I must admit that I picked this book because of a challenge (although it has been on my “to be read” shelf for a while). This biography is an authorized biography and goes very in depth about Armstrong’s life leading up to and during the Apollo 11 mission. It’s almost too much information and makes for a slow read at times.

Although it does get less noticeable as the book goes on, the author does treat Neil Armstrong as someone who can do no wrong and who is so great and wonderful. Yes I get that Neil Armstrong is a hero and needed that extra special something to make it as a test pilot and later an astronaut, but enough already. Armstrong is an intensively personal person, which is only made harder as the first man on the moon. I would have liked more details about Armstrong’s life after the Apollo 11 landing. The story at the very end was very cute.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those interested in the space program or Neil Armstrong.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

For the Love of Color

The Rainbow Stick Boy by Michael Santolini

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review. 

Summary: This is the story of Huey, a stick boy who is born a little different than everyone else in the town. He doesn't let his differences keep him down. Huey finds a friend who is also a little different and together they find the magic at the end of the rainbow, and discover that their differences are really only skin deep. This is a great book about diversity and the beauty within!

Review: A sweet and touching tale about diversity and the beauty of color.

The Rainbow Stick Boy was a sweet read. It had a great message that differences are only on the surface. That's a great message because it can be applied to race, ethnicity, disability, gender, physical appearance, accents, and the like. I enjoyed the pictures. They were very colorful and simple. While I am not a child, I felt that there wasn't too much on one page and that the book should keep a child's attention. It's a quick read and worth reading even if you have no children.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those who have children, anyone who is a children at heart, or anyone looking to read a story with a good message.

Monday, October 14, 2013

God for Short

A Meaningless Sequence of Arbitrary Symbols by Oscar Velikovsky

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.

Summary: A young man of 18 is mentored in the Art of Game Design by God.

Review: A very wacky and humorous tale of a young man being taught game design by god with some drawings thrown in.

This is a very different and very weird book. It walked the fine line between being not funny and trying too hard. This was a very strange read, but it was quick to read and the pictures were quite amusing. I must admit to thinking of Godot from Waiting for Godot whenever Godfrey or God for short was around. Is he god or isn't he? And is he a very good god? The book manages to come full circle in the end and really was a meaningless sequence of arbitrary symbols.

Another big aspect of this book is game design. God wants to design a game where you can play Jesus. God meets with his game development team and you get to see how a game development team works. Plus, you also get a whole chapter on it. It was actually very informative. The only way I would be involved in game design would probably be in the writing area, but as someone who plays video games on a fairly regular basis, it was cool to learn about game design.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to anyone interested in video games or video games design or to anyone looking for an unusual, weird, and humorous read.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Monster Squad

Freaking Wicked 1 by Brian Poor

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.

Summary: What happens when special-op team consisting of a werewolf, vampire, super-soldier, and computer geek—are sent to a island with prehistoric wildlife to rescue the prince of Saudi Arabia from a bunch of tank-driving pirates? The kind of chaos and mayhem that can only be described as—Freaking Wicked.

For Jack the werewolf it was simple. There were good guys and there were bad guys, and his CIA job let him kill the bad ones with sanctioned approval of America. An adrenaline junkie that liked to live on the edge of out of control, Jack lived for the—pull your face off and howl—kind of adventures that only the clandestine world of special-ops could deliver. Teamed with the irresistibly cute vampire—Megan, the only survivor of a canceled super-soldier program named Grod, a computer nerd called Big Dork, Jack figures that there is nothing his team of monsters called the Freak Show can't handle.

But when they are handed a mission to rescue the Prince of Saudi Arabia from a secret island ruled by Somalian pirates, the Freak Show runs into the sort of death-inducing complications that has the heckles on the back of Jack's neck raising in alarm. A smack-down with a mummy and a mysterious meeting with a team of commandos in Egypt, drives the blood-starved Megan into crazed feeding frenzy that only Jack can stop by surrendering to a long suppressed forbidden desire. Then a showdown with the pirates leaves the team stranded on island where the wildlife is prehistorically monstrous. And if that's not enough, Jack finds out somebody in their own government has cut off them off and ordered their elimination with extreme prejudice.

Review: An interesting concept hindered, but multiple grammar and spelling mistakes and unbelievable characters.

The premise for this book was an intriguing one. It could very well make for a good campy movie. Hellboy comes to mind. I liked the idea of three monsters (the vampire, the werewolf, and the super soldier who is like Frankenstein monster) working for the CIA as a secret group. I suspect it would be hard to hide the evidence of such a group though. And an island where dinosaurs still exist is pretty snazzy and cool. A secret mission should be action packed and the story certainly was action packed. It did suffer from some flaws which hindered my enjoyment.

A few grammar and spelling mistakes I can understand. Even with an editor or two, there still might be a few mistakes that slip through. We are all human after all. However, this book had too many spelling and grammar errors. I hazard a guess that this book had not been edited. I would recommend the author get an editor to take a look at his book. I also didn't like the characters too much. They acted like children and were two dimensional.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those who are fans of campy movies and those looking for a supernatural read that focuses on action.