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.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Welcome to the Jungle

Ruta by Kit Masters

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

Summary: "Ruta is growing up in a failing school and a failing society. "There is nothing I can do to help her." A decade after the London riots, a reprobate teacher records the anger and vitriol of the new generation. He fixates on the innocence of a perfect female student from his past. Unearth his conscience as he fights for breath in the turmoil of his decline.
Ruta is an allegorical novella about poor British schools. It traces an all too common pattern in schools; an enthusiastic young teacher’s decline into nervosa as war breaks out in the classroom.

Review: A tale of a teacher who finds himself helpless in the face of increasing numbers of feral children and the guilt he feels.

Being American, I am not very familiar with the British school system. I guess I knew at some level that there must be bad areas with underfunded schools like the cities of Camden, Trenton, and Newark in New Jersey. Since I seem to think of the UK as some magical place I can’t wait to visit, I decided to some research on the idea of feral children in British schools. I found an article from 2011 discussing feral children. It turns out that many children have trouble academically and more than a thousand children are suspended every school day for abuse and assault. So there’s a problem.

And the teacher certainly recognizes it as such. He starts teaching at the school and is full of hope and optimism. He enjoys the group of students he is working with. It very quickly seems to go all downhill. The kids (at least the immigrants) seem to live in a bad area of London and so are surrounded by violence. Chaos has erupted in the school. While I felt sympathy for the teacher, I couldn’t understand why he felt so personally responsible for the chaos and feral children.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to people who are teachers or anyone interested in education and the state of children.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Gilded Tragedy

Sarah & Gerald by Christopher Geoffrey McPherson

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

Summary: In the years after the great war, life was golden and happy for those who had survived it. An entire generation of young men died so others could sit on a beach and splash in the water and have sandwiches on the sand. It was a golden time for American expatriates -- like Sarah and Gerald -- to be in Paris. Everything had worked out so well for them: they had money, they had friends, they had three golden children and they had each other. And everyone was so young. Gerald was a painter and his bold new painting would shock the French art world; but the consequences of his artistic success would soon bring tragedy to Sarah and their family. Despite doing everything right, things would soon start going very wrong.

Review: A tale that shows the heyday of Paris, wealth, the famous, and what money cannot buy.

Sarah and Gerald was a short, but interesting tale, packed with money, dream houses, vacations, famous people, alcoholism, death, suicide, divorce, infidelity, and homosexuality. This book really shows that even though money (up to a certain amount) can cause happiness (it’s certainly easier to be happier when you aren’t living paycheck to paycheck and have additional spending money), it still can’t protect people from the tragedies of life. Though the extremely wealthy may not always be the easiest to relate to, you can really feel for the anguish of Sarah and Gerald.

I will admit that Paris doesn’t have much appeal to me as a place to live, visit certainly, but not live. Still, the 1920s in Paris would have been a great time to visit or live there. Though the novel focuses on Sarah and Gerald, you still meet plenty of famous people including Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. They play small roles in the story and are sometimes shown at their worst. Sarah and Gerald are amazingly understanding and supportive spouses considering what happens to the each of them. It may be hard, but I know that life will go on for them.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Paris in the 1920s or an accurate portrayal of a wealthy family.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Adrift at Sea

No Alternative by William Dickerson 

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

Summary: NO ALTERNATIVE is a coming-of-age drama that drills a hole into the world of suburban American teenagers in the early 90's. Thomas Harrison is determined to start his own alternative band, an obsession that blinds him to what's either the mental collapse, or the eruption of musical genius, of his little sister, Bridget. Bridget boldly rejects her brother's music, and the music of an entire generation of slackers, by taking on the persona of an X-rated gangsta' rapper named "Bri Da B." No Alternative probes the lives of rebellious kids who transition into adulthood via the distortion pedals of their lives in an era when the "Sex, Drugs & Rock'n'Roll" ethos was amended to include "Suicide" in its phrase. *** William Dickerson sets into motion a series of relationships against the backdrop of the suicide of Kurt Cobain, recreational drugs, keg parties in fields, Jesuit high schools, the Baby Boomers who gave birth to the children drinking from kegs in fields, killing commies with laser beams, depression, and the rise of anti-depressants to combat the depression, the New York State Judicial System, Melanin Theory, corporate behemoths from Seattle, the next Nirvana, the emergence of Biggie Smalls in White America, headshrinkers, smoking cigarettes, Converse sneakers (the Jack Purcell's, not the All-Stars), sibling rivalry, parental expectations, Catholicism, and the felony theft of something that was to never be. And let's not forget: Garage Bands; the real thing, not the software, Gangsta' Rap, Grunge, and Generation X.

Review: A tragic tale that deals with teenage angst and delves past its surface to the depression underneath.

As one of the millennial generation (also known as generation Y), I was only 9 when Kurt Cobain died. I was certainly aware of grunge although I was born too late to be very affected by it. The author does a good job of setting up the story, which includes helpful summaries on events affecting generation X and enough information to provide meaning to the story. Generation X could very well be considered a lost generation. They have no big cause or event in their lives to give meaning so they find meaning wherever they could.

Perspective and context is really everything. You want to consider Thomas and Bridget to be tragic figures that are failed by their parents and society. How much is it society and how much is their family and how much is it themselves? This book certainly poses those questions and the answers will obviously vary per person, family, and society. I was not expecting the ending although I suppose it is fitting. Those this book is tragic, it does contain a rebirth and demonstrates the fact that life goes on.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those looking for a serious read about teenagers and Generation X.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

You Can Blame the Government

How To Understand Economics In 1 Hour by Marshall Payn

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

Summary: For decades US politicians have been kicking the federal deficit and overspending can down the road. No politician can get elected by running on a platform that will honestly fix the US economy. At no time in history has it been more crucial than now for each of us to understand our government. In order to do so, we must understand economics, politics, and the difference between the two.

We are the richest country in history but yet we sit on the edge of financial disaster. How can we expect that to change if voters don’t understand the very basics of economics? There has never been a source of information on economics that people can easily understand, UNTIL NOW.

Author Marshall Payn, with a degree in Economics from MIT, believes that the current presentation of economics in our educational system is the biggest obstacle in understanding economics. He developed his unique approach while working in the field of vocational education, i.e. getting fundamental information from one mind to another. In clear and simple terms, this book separates truth from emotion, economics from politics, and offers undeniable proof of our country’s destiny if each of us continues to elect politicians while lacking a clear understanding of basic economic principles.

If you think you understand economics, think again. This book is an eye opener, not only with its content, but because these concepts are so simple. What is truly amazing is that the knowledge in this book is not common knowledge.

Review: A book that tries to explains the economics of our country and government without involving politics.

I was expecting this book to something along the lines of Freakanomics or another book I had read earlier about economics that proposed to simplify the topic. Payn's book focuses on the economics of our country and how the government affects the economy. I must admit to not reading this all in an hour, but it's easy to pick up where you left up. Plus there are funny political type cartoons. Payn does do his hardest to keep politics out of his book, but that certainly won't be true of the people reading it.

I will admit to feeling that this book does a lot of government blaming. What Payn says does make sense, but I don't agree with some of it. Spending is out of control and there is not enough in taxes come in, but I can't view taxes as depriving people (as long as they are a logical percentage of income). That could very well come from my own personal political views. It was ironic to read this book when the government is shut down since Congress gets the blame in the book for the economic crisis and Congress is to blame for the government shutdown.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the connection between the economy and the actions of the government.

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Story of a Life

pig by Sbr Martin

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

Summary: Her name is Lily, but she’s gone by different names over the years—Lilith, Mom, Flower, and Pig, to name but a few.

She’s sitting alone on a couch in the corner of a crowded funeral home, desperately clinging to a scrap of paper in her right hand. She’s avoiding contact with those around her, keeping to herself, because she holds more than that scrap of paper—she holds a lot of secrets, including one she’s keeping from herself.

In the other room, which she dare not enter, a man lies in a closed casket. That man is her husband. Only she knows how he got there, and only the telling of her story can tell his.

As Lily guards her secrets on the couch in the corner, the familiar faces of funeral home patrons stir a lifetime of memories, a collection of past events brought to pass before her eyes.

How did her husband get in that box? And what is she holding in her hand? Step into Lily’s past to answer the present questions. But don’t expect to be pleased with everything you learn. Some stories just aren’t meant to have happy endings.

Review: An ofttimes tragic tale of a woman's life and what has brought her to where she is.

First and foremost, I must say that this book might trigger people who have been in domestic violence situations, either as a victim or as a witness. As someone in the latter category, I did find myself getting anxious and worried. Despite that and the decidedly depressing subject matter, I still enjoyed the book. It's a brutal portrayal of abuse, single mothers, and why someone would stay in such a situation. You may not always agree with Lily (I certainly didn't), but she certainly does believe in her beliefs and decisions.

It was hard to read about how Bender became the monster he did (some people should never drink alcohol) and how often Lily would try to stop the abuse by using various methods including marriage. I personally would say to leave him, but to be honest, Lily didn't have much in the way of options and sometimes the devil you know if preferably to the devil you don't. I still wished for her to leave so badly. I am glad that she found solace and happiness in her children. I did not expect the ending.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those who are looking for a realistic story about domestic violence.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


The Particle at the End of the Universe: How the Hunt for the Higgs Boson Leads Us to the Edge of a New World by Sean Carroll

Summary: Scientists have just announced an historic discovery on a par with the splitting of the atom: the Higgs boson, the key to understanding why mass exists has been found. In The Particle at the End of the Universe, Caltech physicist and acclaimed writer Sean Carroll takes readers behind the scenes of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN to meet the scientists and explain this landmark event.

The Higgs boson is the particle that more than six thousand scientists have been looking for using the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest and highest energy particle accelerator, which lies in a tunnel 17 miles in circumference, as deep as 575 feet beneath the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva. It took ten years to build and this search has now cost over $9 billion and required the collaboration of engineers from more than one hundred countries.

What is so special about the Higgs boson? We didn’t really know for sure if anything at the subatomic level had any mass at all until we found it. The fact is, while we have now essentially solved the mass puzzle, there are things we didn’t predict and possibilities we haven’t yet dreamed. A doorway is opening into the mind boggling, somewhat frightening world of dark matter. We only discovered the electron just over a hundred years ago and considering where that took us—from nuclear energy to quantum computing--the inventions that will result from the Higgs discovery will be world-changing.

The Particle at the End of the Universe not only explains the importance of the Higgs boson but also the Large Hadron Collider project itself. Projects this big don’t happen without a certain amount of conniving, dealing, and occasional skullduggery— and Sean Carroll explores it all. This is an irresistible story (including characters now set to win the Nobel Prize among other glories) about the greatest scientific achievement of our time.

Review: A tale that involves both the science behind the Higgs boson and the story of the discoverers and particle accelerators.

The Higgs boson, or as it's sometimes known the god particle, truly is a fascinating concept. I knew that the Higgs boson, technically the Higgs field, was supposed to give particles mass and that the Higgs boson explained why certain particles have the charge and mass that they do. Since this book focuses heavily on the Higgs boson, it goes into a lot of science behind the Higgs boson and contains a lot of information about particles and the Standard Model. Some of the information was complicated and I had to read it twice, but I certainly learned new facts.

I also liked learning more about the discovers of various particles and the particle accelerators that helped make those discoveries. I knew about the history of CERN, but it was still interesting to read. What was most fascinating was the massive amount of data that is generated and how people and computers narrowed down those massive amounts of data. Remember, thank CERN for the development of the internet. I'm excited to see what more will be learned about the Higgs boson and if that will affect the Standard Model at all.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those are interested in physics or who want to know what the Higgs boson is.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Twilight Years

Elizabeth I by Margaret George

Summary: One of today's premier historical novelists, Margaret George dazzles here as she tackles her most difficult subject yet: the legendary Elizabeth Tudor, queen of enigma-the Virgin Queen who had many suitors, the victor of the Armada who hated war; the gorgeously attired, jewel- bedecked woman who pinched pennies. England's greatest monarch has baffled and intrigued the world for centuries. But what was she really like?

In this novel, her flame-haired, lookalike cousin, Lettice Knollys, thinks she knows all too well. Elizabeth's rival for the love of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and mother to the Earl of Essex, the mercurial nobleman who challenged Elizabeth's throne, Lettice had been intertwined with Elizabeth since childhood. This is a story of two women of fierce intellect and desire, one trying to protect her country, and throne, the other trying to regain power and position for her family and each vying to convince the reader of her own private vision of the truth about Elizabeth's character. Their gripping drama is acted out at the height of the flowering of the Elizabethan age. Shakespeare, Marlowe, Dudley, Raleigh, Drake-all of them swirl through these pages as they swirled through the court and on the high seas.

This is a magnificent, stay-up-all-night page-turner that is George's finest and most compelling novel and one that is sure to please readers of Alison Weir, Philippa Gregory, and Hilary Mantel.

Review: A historical fiction novel about Queen Elizabeth that takes place later on in her life.

I have to believe that almost all of the historical fiction books I have read about Queen Elizabeth focus on her early life, both before she was queen and when she was a new queen. A few may have covered time as Elizabeth aged, but I honestly can't remember off hand. This book starts in 1588 with the Armada threatening England. It was a nice change of pace. I had honestly forgotten how much went on later in Elizabeth's realm. I enjoyed the focus on politics. It showed Elizabeth as a ruler, not just a woman who wanted flattery.

Having parts of the story told by Lettice was an interesting choice, but also an apt one. Lettice was the one that took Robert Dudley away from Queen Elizabeth and who was also the mother of Robert, the Earl of Essex who led an unsuccessful rebellion against the queen. I had expected to dislike Lettice, but instead I felt for her. George does a good job of showing the complex personality and psychology that Lettice had, at least in the story. I can't imagine what she went through during her life.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy historical fiction about the Tudors and/or Queen Elizabeth.