Monday, February 29, 2016

ARC Book Review: The Passenger by Lisa Lutz

Release Date: March 1, 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: ebook
Pages: 320 pages
Genre: Mystery
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover | Audio (Audible) 

Review: 

In case you were wondering, I didn’t do it. I didn’t have anything to do with Frank’s death. I don’t have an alibi, so you’ll have to take my word for it...

Forty-eight hours after leaving her husband’s body at the base of the stairs, Tanya Dubois cashes in her credit cards, dyes her hair brown, demands a new name from a shadowy voice over the phone, and flees town. It’s not the first time.

She meets Blue, a female bartender who recognizes the hunted look in a fugitive’s eyes and offers her a place to stay. With dwindling choices, Tanya-now-Amelia accepts. An uneasy―and dangerous―alliance is born.

It’s almost impossible to live off the grid today, but Amelia-now-Debra and Blue have the courage, the ingenuity, and the desperation, to try. Hopscotching from city to city, Debra especially is chased by a very dark secret…can she outrun her past?

Review:

I couldn't put this book down. From the first page to the last it was a wild ride.  The book begins with Tanya finding the body of her husband dead at the bottom of the stairs.  She doesn't call the police but instead goes on the run where she meets Blue. As Tanya's life begins to unravel you start to wonder if Blue is really her friend or using her for her own purposes.

Tanya or Amelia or whatever her name happens to be at the moment doesn't seem to be a bad person so why is she on the run? This mystery slowly unravels just as her life unravels.  Tanya just seems to want to live a normal life.  She doesn't want to keep running so why is she.

I've never read this author before so I don't know what her other books are like but this one was great. Fast paced, fun with great characters and a great story line.  I'd love to see more of Blue, she is an intriguing character that makes me want more.



Disclaimer: Book was received from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

ARC Review: Adoption Beyond Borders by Rebecca J Compton

Release Date: March 1, 2016
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Format: ebook
Pages: 248 pages
Genre: Adoption
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover

Synopsis:

International adoptions have decreased dramatically in the last decade, despite robust evidence of the tremendous benefits that early placement in adoptive families can confer upon children who are not able to remain with birth families.

Topics include: the effects of institutionalization on children's developing brains, cognitive abilities, and socio-emotional functioning; the challenges of navigating issues of identity when adopting across national, cultural, and racial lines; the strong emotional bonds that form even without genetic relatedness; and the methods in which adoptive families can address the special needs of children who experienced early neglect and deprivation, thereby providing a supportive environment in which those children can flourish.


Review:

Rebecca Compton is a mother and psychologist who on her journey to adopt from Kazakhstan wound up staying in-country for almost a year and got to see firsthand the effects of institutionalization on children. Adoption Beyond Borders is a well-researched book that sites many studies that back up the obvious idea that children fare better in families than they do in institutions. International adoptions have dropped more than 70% since 2004. In that time the US has implemented the Hague Convention which is supposed to safeguard children from human trafficking among other things. The Hague sounds wonderful on paper but it was crafted and is based on information from non-governmental child welfare agencies who seem to have their own agenda and fear from countries of origin. There are not fewer children waiting in institutions across the world than there were before the Hague and there are not less families interested in adopting them. I liked how this book weaved together Compton’s adoption story with studies and observations. She backs up everything she says with research and really dives into how international adoption is actually in the best interest of children. By looking at cognitive abilities, socio-economic functioning, navigating identity and attachment there is no doubt that the current policies today are not helping children and in fact are harming them. My hope is that this book prompts people to take action to write to their government officials to start looking at the policies that were meant to help children which are in reality hurting them.



Disclaimer: Book was received from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

ARC Review: My Tempting Highlander by Maeve Greyson

Release Date: February 23, 2016
Publisher: Random House Publishing
Format: ebook
Pages: 254 pages
Genre: Romance
Buy: Kindle 

Synopsis:

Cursed to live forever with neither wife nor child, Ronan Sutherland has watched all he cherishes turn to dust—more than once. For hundreds of years, he's been trapped behind the mists of Loch Ness, hoping to identify the one woman who is prophesied to break the spell. Now, at last, the fates have aligned, and he's being sent into the future to fetch her. After a single glimpse, Ronan knows he's been waiting all his life for this passionate woman.

Unlike her time-traveling sisters, Mairi Sinclair is perfectly content to remain in the present. As a hospital nurse in Edinburgh, she cherishes the opportunity to put her gift of healing powers to good use. But everything changes the morning a mysterious wolf darts in front of her car. Touching the wounded creature's tawny coat, a tingle surges through her. Yet when she returns with aid, Mairi is shocked to find instead a man with broad shoulders and fire in his eyes—a man who tempts her to unleash the animal within.


Review:

Excellent and steamy romance. Ronan is a shapeshifting Chieftain from the 13th Century, he was cursed along with his mother and best friend. The only one who can break the curse that binds them is a Sinclair woman who was born in another century.  He is sent to the future to win her heart and bring her back but he needs to be honest with her about his curse and his feelings.  Mairi has been burned more than once and has a wall around her heart.  When she meets Ronan that wall starts to crumble but she can tell he is holding something back.  Can she really trust him?

Fabulous character and scenery. The passion jumped off the page and left the pages steaming.  Very well done.




Disclaimer: Book was received from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, February 22, 2016

ARC Review: You Were Here by Cori McCarthy

Release Date: March 1, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Format: ebook
Pages: 400 pages
Genre: Teens/YA
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover


Synopsis: 

Jaycee is about to accomplish what her older brother Jake couldn't: live past graduation.

Jaycee is dealing with her brother's death the only way she can – by re-creating Jake's daredevil stunts. The ones that got him killed. She's not crazy, okay? She just doesn't have a whole lot of respect for staying alive.

Jaycee doesn't expect to have help on her insane quest to remember Jake. But she's joined by a group of unlikely friends – all with their own reasons for completing the dares and their own brand of dysfunction: the uptight, ex-best friend, the heartbroken poet, the slacker with Peter Pan syndrome, and... Mik. He doesn't talk, but somehow still challenges Jayce to do the unthinkable-reveal the parts of herself that she buried with her brother.

Review:

I couldn't put this book down.  I was sucked in from the first page and it just kept moving me forward.  The characters are all very realistic.  Each chapter is from a different characters point of view.  I loved Mik's chapters, since he doesn't talk they are done in cartoon which totally conveyed the emotion and what happened in the situation.  Bishop's chapters all started with a glimpse of his latest artwork which is as beautiful as it is thought provoking.  Jaycee is struggling to move beyond her brothers death and her ex-best friend Natalie is trying to come to terms with her lies and living a more authentic life.  Zach is trying to figure himself out as well, not really sure of what direction he is going to go.

As a parent of 3 kids who have all graduated from high school and had that Oh Shit moment of what comes next and how do I figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life this book speaks volumes, about death, life, that coming of age point in time right after graduation from high school, relationships, and living an authentic life.  Beautifully and painfully written its a story that will stay with me. Loved it.




Disclaimer: This title was received from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review

Friday, February 19, 2016

Book Review: Epiphany by Nickolae Gerstner

Release Date: November 2, 2015
Publisher: Smith Publicity
Format: ebook (kindle)
Pages: 322 pages
Genre: fiction
Buy: Kindle | Paperback


Synopsis: 

Philip Rockcastle discovers that an unimaginable crime paved the way for him to become a priest. Now pastor of a neighborhood church, is he doing what he was meant to do or is his life a mistake?

He feels responsible when his counseling efforts drive a mentally troubled parishioner to seek validation for fantasies by making a bogus confession to a murder. Troubled, he visits Tara, a divorced mother of two young boys. The visit is innocent. He is not in love with her. He tells himself that frequently.

When a mysterious young girl finally tells him her name, Philip is too shocked to believe, too hopeful to discredit.

The young girl and Philip's niece scheme to catch the actual murderer, but he catches them. For once in his life, Philip has no time to reflect. He must act.

Review: 

Not a fan of the cover of this book which I feel really doesn't do the mystery or the story justice. Philip Rockcastle is a priest who is struggling.  His faith is being tested by a single divorced woman and the appearance of a young girl who claims to be his daughter who he thought died in an accident.

It is unclear whether she really is his daughter, I don't think they ever got DNA to prove it.  But while the priest struggles with staying a priest and rejoicing in the return of his daughter his niece and daughter are involving themselves in a murder mystery.

>The mystery is pretty good and the identity of the perpetrator is hidden until slightly before the end. At first Philip is invested in trying to free the people he feels are being wrongly prosecuted for a murder but when he discovers his long lost daughter his priorities start shifting. While his interest in the case starts to wane his nieces doesn't and the budding wanna be detective starts digging into the case.  Typical of any teenager she makes blunders along the way leaving her and her cousin in danger.

This book is a quick read and while I don't think I loved it as much as many reviewers on amazon, I did find it entertaining.




Disclaimer: This book was received from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

ARC Review: The Essential Guide to Aromatherapy and Vibrational Healing by Margaret Ann Lembo

Release Date: March 8, 2016
Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd
Format: E-book (kindle)
Pages: 360 pages
Genre: Aromatherapy, Health
Buy: Kindle | Paperback


Synopsis:

This is an A-Z guide to 60 essential oils that also brings together the combination of flower remedies, gemstones essences, and other vibrational elements that can be incorporated for enhanced healing practice.

The beginning chapters outline the history of essential oils and how to use them as well as other elements that can be used in combination with the oils to enhance your practices. These include flower essences, gemstone essences, holy water, divine messengers, chakras, zodiac, planets, numbers, and animals.

From there, 60 essential oils are detailed. For each essential oil she includes Name of Oil; Key Phrase; Botanical Name; Note; Common Method of Extraction; Parts Used; Fragrance; Affirmation; Color; Complementary Flower Essences; Complementary Stones; Chakra(s); About the Plant; Chemical Components; Astrological Sign(s); Planet(s); Number(s); Animal(s); Spiritual Uses; Mental Uses; Emotional Uses; Physical Uses; Therapeutic Properties; Divine Guidance; For Your Safety; Interesting Tidbits.

The final appendices section provides further information on working with each of these vibrational elements (essential oils, flower remedies, gemstones, and other elements). An extensive glossary is also included.

Review:

As an aromatherapist who has been using essential oils for about 15 years and taken numerous trainings I was excited when the publisher allowed me to review this book.  There is so much misinformation out there on essential oils that I am always eager to see what someone new has to say. This is a great book for those just venturing into the world of essential oils.  Its one of the first that I have read that actually tells you the difference between the different grades of oils, from Commercial grade through medicinal grade.  Too many people out there think all essential oils are equal when they really aren't, some are diluted so much with carrier oils that there is barely any essence in them.

I'm not as familiar with flower essences, although I have used them in the past and I found the information in this book very helpful. The details on Chakras, gemstones, holy water, divine messengers etc are very interesting without being exhausting.  They give a great overview and if you want to delve into it more somewhere else you can but it gives you a good overview.

The A-Z guide on the essences was really well done.  I loved the affirmations for each essential oil, and its always nice to have an understanding of what emotional and physical issues an essence can help with. I am not a fan of blends, which probably relates back to my initial essence trainings but I know a lot of people who love them.  This book gives a great guide to mixing your own blends and setting intentions for each one.

Overall I think Ms. Lembo has created one of the better books out there on Essential oils.  I would recommend this book to friends and colleagues. While I don't agree with some of her practices I think her information is very enlightening and a really great starting place for someone delving into this world of alternative healing and energy work.

Disclaimer: Book was received from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Book Review: Y Negative by Kelly Haworth

Release Date: November 16, 2015
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Format: ebook (kindle)
Pages: 278 pages
Genre: LGBT/ Sci Fi/ Fantasy/Dystopian
Buy: Kindle | Paperback


Synopsis: 

In the last surviving cities of a ruined world, the concept of “woman” has been forgotten to history. Those unfortunate enough to lack a Y chromosome live as second-class citizens in a world dominated by mascs.

Ember is Y negative. He is scorned, bullied, abused by every masc he encounters, at work and at the gym. Not even his Y negative roommate cuts him any slack. He wants so desperately to be accepted as a masc that he’d rather buy black market testosterone than food. Something’s gotta give—he needs a change in his life, but has no idea how to find it.

Jess is a masc with a passion for studying the recovery of their devastated world. His boyfriend is pressuring him for more commitment, and his father expects him to take over the family business. He can’t wait to get away from civilization for his seasonal research out in the wild.

When Jess offers Ember a job, their lives collide in the isolated wasteland, and their initial attraction turns into a relationship that horrifies those around them. Soon their struggle to stay together and to be who they are turns into a fight for their lives.

Review: 

Very interesting twist on the world.  This world is gay and heterosexuality is not tolerated.  Those born female or Y negative are used as surrogates and then allowed to remove their breasts and use testosterone.  They are considered Andro's and those born male, Masc's. Andro's are supposed to only date Andro's and Masc's stick to Masc's.  Ember is an Andro who longs to be with a Masc but is tormented, bullied and abused for his desires.

While working out in the wastelands Jess and Ember become close and soon find themselves at the mercy of the Scavengers or those who live in the Outskirts, people who have shunned city ways and try to live off the land and what they can scavenge to survive.  In this community being Het isn't a problem and in fact they have many "natural" children born to them.

I loved the twist on the world, and this book really drives home how dangerous and painful homophobia is in today's society.  The hurt it does to those who are "different" and how hard many of them try to fit in just to be "normal".  The descriptions of society in the city and in outskirts was a tough and thought provoking read. Even now several days after I finished it I can't stop thinking about this book.  I highly recommend it.






Disclaimer:  I received this book from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review

Thursday, February 11, 2016

ARC Review: The Girl in the Ice by Robert Bryndza (Detective Erika Foster Book 1)

Release Date: February 12, 2016
Publisher: Bookouture
Format: Kindle
Pages: 359 pages
Genre: Mystery
Buy: Kindle


Synopsis:

Her eyes are wide open. Her lips parted as if to speak. Her dead body frozen in the ice…She is not the only one.

When a young boy discovers the body of a woman beneath a thick sheet of ice in a South London park, Detective Erika Foster is called in to lead the murder investigation.

The victim, a beautiful young socialite, appeared to have the perfect life. Yet when Erika begins to dig deeper, she starts to connect the dots between the murder and the killings of three prostitutes, all found strangled, hands bound and dumped in water around London.

What dark secrets is the girl in the ice hiding?

As Erika inches closer to uncovering the truth, the killer is closing in on Erika.

The last investigation Erika led went badly wrong… resulting in the death of her husband. With her career hanging by a thread, Erika must now battle her own personal demons as well as a killer more deadly than any she’s faced before. But will she get to him before he strikes again?

Review:

DCI Erika Foster is just back to active duty after the death of her husband.  Brought in on the case of a missing social elite. As in all cases where high profile people are the victim the press is all over the case and the family doesn't want to have their name smeared regardless of reality.  Thinking they are special the family inserts itself into the investigation using their weight to get to the easiest conclusion but not necessarily the correct one.

DCI Foster finds evidence that places this girl in a lower class area in a bar that is known for being rough and with a man that is not her fiance.  This doesn't mesh with what the family wants revealed so DCI Foster finds herself on the outs.

Well written, well paced, with excellent policing and suspense.  I really enjoyed this book and found myself whipping through it wanting to know who may have killed this young socialite.  There are many theories and the suspects start moving in directions that I didn't even consider, very well done. I love DCI Foster, another strong female character in the world of Crime Fiction.  All of the characters really popped off the pages and you felt like you knew them.  Mixed here and there are snippets of their history and their personal lives which really helped to make you feel for them.  I am hopeful that this is only the first in a long series about DCI Foster and her team and that Robert Bryndza writes fast!




Disclaimer: I received an advanced e-copy of this book through netgalley.com from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Book Review: Tough Justice: Hunted (8 of 8) by Carla Cassidy

Release Date: January 12, 2016
Publisher: Harlequin Special Releases 
Format: ebook (kindle)
Pages: 72 pages
Genre: Mystery/Romance
Buy: Kindle | Audio ( Audible)


Synopsis:

Live or die. Her or Moretti. The time is now.
The worst has happened: her mark is on the run. But Special Agent Lara Grant has no clues. No destination. Just fear for those she loves and bone-deep belief that he's coming straight for her. But she knows Moretti …just as he knows her. And when the final clue clicks into place, the hunt is on.

Lara will do anything it takes to catch this evil man who has caused the deaths of countless innocent people. With emotions on a knife edge, Lara is running on instinct, on the desperation of unconditional love. With adrenaline pumping, this is it for Lara…flight is not an option; all she can do is fight to the end

Part 8 of 8 in the chilling, high-octane FBI thriller TOUGH JUSTICE from New York Times bestselling author Carla Cassidy and authors Tyler Anne Snell, Carol Ericson and Gail Barrett.

Review: 

The final installment of the Tough Justice series.  The ending was a bit predictable but it was still acceptable. I don't know if this team plan on writing any more about this character but I felt that there were some things left very open ended. 

Lara's mother was murdered her father was looked at for the crime but never convicted the case went cold.  While cleaning her dads house out she finds a gun in a trunk of her mothers but puts it back and we never hear about it again.  Could it have been the murder weapon? I was also a little disappointed with how they left the relationship with Lara and her partner Nick. And why didn't Nick ever reveal to Lara that he had lost a child? 

Other than these little things that continue to nag at me I thought overall the series was very good. The story moved well, there were just enough twists and turns to keep me interested and on my toes and the romance was a welcome distraction from the drama but didn't overwhelm the story.  




Monday, February 8, 2016

ARC Review: Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon

Release Date: February 23, 2016
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Format: E-book
Pages: 368 pages
Genre: Thriller, Suspence 
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover |
Paperback | Audio (Audible)


Synopsis: 

Some secrets never die. They're just locked away.

Alex Dale is lost. Destructive habits have cost her a marriage and a journalism career. All she has left is her routine: a morning run until her body aches, then a few hours of forgettable work before the past grabs hold and drags her down. Every day is treading water, every night is drowning. Until Alex discovers Amy Stevenson. Amy Stevenson, who was just another girl from a nearby town until the day she was found after a merciless assault. Amy Stevenson, who has been in a coma for fifteen years, forgotten by the world. Who, unbeknownst to her doctors, remains locked inside her body, conscious but paralyzed, reliving the past.

Soon Alex's routine includes visiting hours at the hospital, then interviews with the original suspects in the attack. But what starts as a reporter's story becomes a personal obsession. How do you solve a crime when the only witness lived, but cannot tell the tale? Unable to tear herself away from uncovering the unspeakable truth, Alex realizes she's not just chasing a story—she's seeking salvation.

Review:

This book flips around telling the story from different points of view and different time periods, so you need to make sure you are paying attention to who is speaking and when.   Every main character in this book has a sad tale.  Amy falls for the wrong guy and winds up in a coma, Alex has the perfect job, a great husband but can't stop drinking and loses it all, Jacob was Amy's boyfriend and feels guilty that he is moving on, he puts his home life in jeopardy because he still feels responsible for Amy.  There are a few others whose lives have taken a turn but I won't list them or it may reveal too much of the story.

The writing kept the story moving and even though I had my suspicions on who attacked Amy that fateful day I had to wait until the end to find out. There are twists and turns and I did fall for some false leads which kept things interesting. Ultimately I think this story is really about letting go and moving forward.  That life is precious and you shouldn't waste a moment of it. I really enjoyed it.  I may have to find more by this author.




Disclaimer: This book was received from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review

Friday, February 5, 2016

Book Review: Tough Justice: Betrayed (7 of 8) by Tyler Ann Snell

Release Date: January 12, 2016
Publisher: Harlequin Special Releases
Format: e-book (Kindle)
Pages: 74 pages
Genre: Mystery/ Romance
Buy: Kindle | Audio (Audible)


Synopsis: 

Keep your friends close. Your enemies closer. And your colleagues?


Trust has never been easy for Special Agent Lara Grant. Life taught her a hard lesson as a child, one she's never forgotten. But now, when the betrayal is so close to home, Lara is pushed to the very limit.

As the players finally move into position, it's time to go all in, or go home. It doesn't matter that fear is shaking her very core, it doesn't matter that everything she has…her team, her new family…is on the line.

What does matter is that there has always been one truth about Lara Grant: when her back's against the wall, she comes out guns blazing. And at last her target is in her sights…

Part 7 of 8 in the chilling, high-octane FBI thriller TOUGH JUSTICE from New York Times bestselling author Carla Cassidy and authors Tyler Anne Snell, Carol Ericson and Gail Barrett.


Review:

The discovery of who has been betraying the team become evident but the motives are slightly murky.  Lara and her team hope to get answers to why they were betrayed, and how it all came about. In addition they continue to track down the person who is still one step ahead.  

I didn't like this authors last segment thinking it felt rushed and out of character but she redeemed herself with this installment.  There was well planned action and intrigue that left me wanting her to hurry this one up! Lara finally seems ready to trust Nick in this one and the pages start to heat up. 

Can't wait for the conclusion to this action packed series.  


Thursday, February 4, 2016

Book Review: Tough Justice: Ambushed (6 of 8) by Carol Ericson

Release Date: January 12, 2016
Publisher: Harlequin Special Releases
Format: e-book (kindle)
Pages:78 pages
Genre: Mystery/ Romance
Buy: Kindle | Audio (Audible)


Synopsis: 

A sinister surprise is lying in wait…

With her trusted team all focused on getting justice, Special Agent Lara Grant is relieved to finally see some progress, even if their investigation has now turned to delving into some gruesome events from over twenty years ago.

An exhumation is necessary to unravel all the knots of this case, but Lara is surprised by how close their quarry is… In fact, he's just one step ahead, almost teasing them by how near he is…

Part 6 of 8 in the chilling, high-octane FBI thriller TOUGH JUSTICE from New York Times bestselling author Carla Cassidy and authors Tyler Anne Snell, Carol Ericson and Gail Barrett.


Review: 

Now the team knows who they are looking for but finding them is something entirely different.  It still seems that Moretti is always one step ahead. As Lara tries to protect her sister she also seems to give the bad guys a tip that she may be on to them.  Trying to find the sniper that has been taking out their witnesses has proven elusive but they may finally have him in their sites, instead of the other way around. 

This series just keeps improving and twisting and turning.  I still have a few questions but hopefully they will be wrapped up by the final installment. 


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Book Review: Tough Justice: Twisted (5 of 8) by Gail Barrett

Release Date: January 12, 2016
Publisher: Harlequin Special Releases
Format: e-book (kindle)
Pages: 77 pages
Genre: Mystery/ Romance
Buy: Kindle | Audible


Synopsis:

A mission that will turn this case on its head…

With a sting set for a downtown bar, Special Agent Lara Grant and her team are on high alert to snare the most dangerous man in Manhattan. No one tears their team apart and gets away with it! Their aim: to get the perp's DNA from his shot glass…

Mission accomplished, but each step forward in the case takes them two steps back into Lara's past—this time, to the years before her undercover assignment, and a family torn apart by a brutal murder. But Lara knows she can focus only on the present. Because when the DNA results come through, they shock the team and rock the very foundations of the case…

Part 5 of 8 in the chilling, high-octane FBI thriller TOUGH JUSTICE from New York Times bestselling author Carla Cassidy and authors Tyler Anne Snell, Carol Ericson and Gail Barrett.

Review:

Another stellar installment by Gail Barrett.  The twists and turns are getting more deadly and the FBI still have no leads as to who they are after.  I was not expecting the twist they threw in, not sure why but I had my head going in a different direction.  This is a really fun series and its interesting to get to know each author by their writing style in each of the different installments.  


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