Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Book Review: The Ombudsman by Joel B. Geffen

Release Date: June 20, 2016
Publisher: SAGE press
Format: Paperback
Pages: 256 pages
Genre: Fiction
Buy: Paperback | Kindle

Synopsis: 

Seventy-four year old Al Pregurson had a great career as a newspaper journalist and a forty-eight-year love affair with his wife. Now that he is retired and his wife dead, where does he fit in with a fast-paced, ageist society? Al's optimism and self-confidence had always been his strengths, but what lies ahead on his quest to find his place in the world will shake him to his core and challenge the self-image he always believed was indestructible.

What unforeseen events could make such a man question his worth and decimate his self-esteem so deeply as to make him feel irrelevant?

Review: 


This book is a great reminder that we are all getting older and that just because we are older doesn't mean we are irrelevant.  With a tender yet direct tone Geffen shares with us the scary side of aging. How the elderly are often taken for granted, thought of as a burden and taken advantage of. But this isn't a book of despair its a book of hope and one that shows that no matter what our age we have something of value to offer.

Al Pregurson may be seventy-four but he isn't done living.  He finds new purposed in becoming an Ombudsman helping the elderly.  There is a lot of interesting information in this book especially when it comes to Alzheimers and long term care facilities. This book was well researched and well written.  I highly recommend it.



Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Book Review: The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

Release Date: March 22, 2016
Publisher: Ecco
Format: Paperback
Pages: 368 pages
Genre: Fiction
Buy: Paperback | Kindle | 


Synopsis: 

Every family has its problems. But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional. Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. Months earlier, an inebriated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a nineteen-year-old waitress as his passenger. The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs' joint trust fund, “The Nest,” which they are months away from finally receiving. Meant by their deceased father to be a modest mid-life supplement, the Plumb siblings have watched The Nest’s value soar along with the stock market and have been counting on the money to solve a number of self-inflicted problems.

Melody, a wife and mother in an upscale suburb, has an unwieldy mortgage and looming college tuition for her twin teenage daughters. Jack, an antiques dealer, has secretly borrowed against the beach cottage he shares with his husband, Walker, to keep his store open. And Bea, a once-promising short-story writer, just can’t seem to finish her overdue novel. Can Leo rescue his siblings and, by extension, the people they love? Or will everyone need to reimagine the futures they’ve envisioned? Brought together as never before, Leo, Melody, Jack, and Beatrice must grapple with old resentments, present-day truths, and the significant emotional and financial toll of the accident, as well as finally acknowledge the choices they have made in their own lives.

This is a story about the power of family, the possibilities of friendship, the ways we depend upon one another and the ways we let one another down. In this tender, entertaining, and deftly written debut, Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney brings a remarkable cast of characters to life to illuminate what money does to relationships, what happens to our ambitions over the course of time, and the fraught yet unbreakable ties we share with those we love.

Review: 

This book is a like a case study of a dysfunctional family.  The Plumb siblings have been left an inheritance by their father that has grown to a sizable sum.  It was only supposed to be a small sum of money not something that the kids would count on but that changed as the amount grew. Instead of living within their means all the siblings have lived counting on the day they come into their inheritance affectionally referred to as "the nest".

After an unfortunate night out the matriarch of the family using the money in the nest to save one of the siblings and save the family name.  Now all the siblings are scrambling hoping that their brother will repay the Nest.

There were funny moments, sad moments, but mostly this is a story of how a family tries to repair their relationships and learn how to live and create their own fortune, and forge honest relationships. This is really a book about what happens to a family when the money is all gone.  How they learn to recreate themselves, or not.  Not all of the characters were likeable but they were realistically portrayed.  I enjoyed reading this.




Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Book Review: The Promise: A Tale of Unconventional Adoption and the Immeasurable Strength of a Mothers Love by Sam Vickery

Release Date: July 20, 2016
Publisher: Createspace
Format: Paperback
Pages: 250 Pages
Genre: Fiction
Buy: Kindle | Paperback


Synopsis:

Saraya Matthews knows that at thirty two years old, life should look better than this. With no spark and no passion, she decides enough is enough. She is going to find her purpose and stop wasting her life away. Little does she know, her purpose will come in the form of an orphaned baby boy whose mother has been gruesomely murdered on the streets of London. Saraya finds herself in a battle between what's legal and what's morally right. The authorities expect her to hand him over, but baby Flynn needs her. Saraya is surprised to discover that once she lets herself love him, she can't turn back. Flung full force into the unexpected position of mother and protector, she realises she will do whatever it takes to keep her baby safe in her arms. But will she succeed? A tale of unconventional adoption and the immeasurable strength of a mother's love.

Review: 

I read this book in one sitting.  I was drawn in by Emily and her story. The way she was treated, what she was doing to try to stay alive.  I had a hard time relating to Saraya I felt that her instant bond to Flynn was a bit of a stretch. Yes its is possible to bond strongly with a child that is adopted but to feel that bond as you peel it from the dead arms of its mother is bit of a stretch for me.

Since I work in adoption I find it offensive that this book says that it is a tale of unconventional adoption.  This isn't just unconventional its illegal.  She steals a baby, doesn't call the police about the child's dead mother and doesn't go through legal channels to adopt, all the while stating the statistics of adoption in the UK.

I understand the authors description of the strong bond between a mother and her child, and given that Saraya had three months to bond with Flynn I can understand her feeling a strong bond and not wanting to give him up at that point. However I still strongly disagree with how she went about keeping him.

This is an emotionally charged book that is sure to draw strong emotions.



Monday, August 22, 2016

ARC Review: The Good Spy Dies Twice (The Bullseye Series book 1) by Mark Hosack

Release Date: September 13, 2016
Publisher: Wide Awake Books
Format: Kindle
Pages: 324 pages
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover

Synopsis: 

Jake Boxer, investigative journalist and host of the conspiratorial news show Bullseye, is in serious trouble. Not only is his soundman murdered by Russian intelligence agents while reporting on a secretive New World Order, but his network cancels his show, leaving Jake humiliated and spiraling into a deep dark depression.

Years later, a condemned murderer, who claims he was abandoned by the CIA, and who starred in an early episode of Bullseye, is finally executed for killing two supposed Soviet spies back in the 1970’s.

Jake Boxer, still trying to piece his life back together, is on his honeymoon in a posh ski resort in the Alaskan mountains when he gets word of the inmate’s execution . . . and the old killer’s final words: “The good spy dies twice.”

Those five words, seemingly meant for Jake, draw the ex-reporter out of his forced retirement and into a complex and deadly global conspiracy involving his newlywed wife, the secretive New World Order, and the hotel’s hundred or so “guests.”

Everyone is a suspect.

Review:


I wasn't too sure about this book wondering if it was going to be a cheesy spy story but I found myself really sucked in.  This is a great espionage thriller.  Jake Boxer had a public meltdown on his tv show Bullseye.  Since then he has been trying to pull himself out of a deep depression, figure out what he is going to do with the rest of his life. After marrying his ex-producer, he travels to a posh ski resort in remote Alaska. It is there that Jake's life will forever be altered again.

Everyone in this book feels like a suspect and you can't really get a good handle on what is happening until the ending.  Fantastic writing that keeps you guessing and pulling you along.  It takes a good writer to not have me figuring everything out before the final page and this one definitely kept me guessing.  There is a whole lot to this book much more than meets the eye.

Wonderful edge of your seat ride.



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

Friday, August 19, 2016

Book Review: Among the Wicked ( Kate Burkholder book 8) by Linda Castillo

Release Date: July 12, 2016
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Format: Kindle
Pages: 320 pages
Genre: Mystery - Amish
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover


Synopsis: 

Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called upon by the sheriff's department in rural, upstate New York to assist on a developing situation that involves a reclusive Amish settlement and the death of a young girl. Unable to penetrate the wall of silence between the Amish and "English" communities, the sheriff asks Kate to travel to New York, pose as an Amish woman, and infiltrate the community.

Kate's long time love interest, State Agent John Tomasetti, is dead set against her taking on such an unorthodox assignment, knowing she'll have limited communication - and even less in the way of backup. But Kate can't turn her back, especially when the rumor mill boils with disturbing accounts of children in danger. She travels to New York where she's briefed and assumes her new identity as a lone widow seeking a new life.

Kate infiltrates the community and goes deep under cover. In the coming days, she unearths a world built on secrets, a series of shocking crimes, and herself, alone... trapped in a fight for her life.

Review:


I am a sucker for these books.  I love every second of them. I have a fascination with the Amish culture and love Kate's mixed feelings about leaving the fold. This is a great book that shows how easy it is for devoted people to fall prey to charismatic leaders who may take advantage of them.  This is a story of how a bad apple can definitely spoil the bunch.

Kate goes undercover to infiltrate an Amish community that has come under suspicion after the death of a young teenage girl. There are rumors of child abuse and the whole Amish community has started to become more and more insular under the leadership of their new Bishop.  As Kate attempts to infiltrate the community and gain their trust she starts to wonder if the thing that makes her special (being ex-amish) is also the thing that is her biggest downfall.

Fast paced, fun read.





Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Book Review: Six Train to Wisconsin (Book 1) by Kourtney Heintz

Release Date: May 1, 2013
Publisher: Aurea Blue Press
Format: Kindle
Pages: 433 pages
Genre: Mystery/Thriller, Fantasy
Buy: Paperback | Kindle 

Synopsis:

Sometimes saving the person you love can cost you everything. 

There is one person that ties Oliver Richter to this world: his wife Kai. For Kai, Oliver is the keeper of her secrets.

When her telepathy spirals out of control and inundates her mind with the thoughts and emotions of everyone within a half-mile radius, the life they built together in Manhattan is threatened.

To save her, Oliver brings her to the hometown he abandoned--Butternut, Wisconsin--where the secrets of his past remain buried. But the past has a way of refusing to stay dead. Can Kai save Oliver before his secrets claim their future?

Review:


After reading this book I can honestly say that having telepathy would be the worst super power in the world.  Knowing everyone's thoughts, would be torturous.  How Kai thought she could live in Manhattan and not go insane is beyond me.  I don't even have telepathy and the emotional noise from NYC can be overwhelming.

Heintz has created a great story, mixing the supernatural with a modern day mystery romance.  To help save Kai, Oliver kidnaps her and brings her to his home town.  But his home town holds a lot of secrets. Olivers first love, and a dark secret that kept him away for over 10 years, and estranged from his father. Now in this small town where everyone knows everyone Oliver and Kai find themselves fighting for their lives and their relationship.

The story is told in alternating voices, Kai and her husband Oliver.  It was really nice to have both sides of the action so I appreciated the way this was written.Great writing, great mystery. The ending is left on a bit of a cliff hanger but that was okay. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to the next in this series.



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

Monday, August 15, 2016

Book Review: Nightwish (Echoes of Eternity book 1) by Sydney Bristow

Release Date: August 9, 2015
Publisher: Createspace
Format: Kindle
Pages: 322 pages
Genre: Fantasy/Suspense
Buy: Kindle | Paperback 

Synopsis:


In this world, nothing is certain except death and sarcasm!

Serena Sykes was still trying to figure out her place in the world when she discovered the existence of magic. Now armed with limited magical powers, she'll have to stop her newly discovered family from destroying the world.

With only 48 hours before they fill the world with monsters, Serena will have to rely on a vampire who is as much friend as foe, while trusting in the wisdom of her dementia-ridden grandmother.

No one said saving the world would be easy!

Review:


Serena doesn't know she is a witch until her 21st birthday when she discovers her powers, then she discovers she has a twin sister, a niece and a psychotic mother who gave her away because she was annoying.  Raised by her grandmother Serena can't even ask why she was never told about her family but her grandmother has Alzheimer's and rarely has a lucid moment.

Now she finds herself in a magic battle with her mother and her sister along with trying to protect her niece and missing the one person who was always there for her. Her friends try to help but she isn't always certain who she can trust.

This was an action packed book that was a good set up to a new trilogy. I could have used a little less sarcasm since there were times I found myself thinking okay I get it enough already, but the premise and the story kept me going.  Serena and her best friend Kendall are great, the male supporting characters could use a bit of work, they all seemed flawed with the exception of Nolan who was flawed in other ways but I hope to see more of him in future books.

People who like the Sookie Stackhouse books and even Janet Evanovich's number series would appreciate this book.  The monsters and supernatural element combined with the newbie inexperience lead to some interesting interactions.


Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Guest Poem: Cats & Dogs by Dane Cobain

Dane Cobain is the author of No Rest for the Wicked, (Supernatural Thriller),  Eyes Like Lighthouses When the Boats Come Home (poetry)Former.ly: The Rise and Fall of a Social Network (literary fiction), Social Paranoia: How Consumers and Brands Can Stay Safe in a Connected World (non-fiction). I sent him 5 words (Peace, Bark, Yoga, Light, Wind) and he created the following poem for me.  If you like what you read check out some of his books or my review of No Rest for the Wicked linked above.



Cats and Dogs

by Dane Cobain


Cats and dogs get stressed
my friend
you’re not the only one.

There are fireworks
on the Fourth of July
or men with strange scents,
smells like leather
as they slide your post
through the letterbox.

Sometimes they’re afraid
of the wind and rain,
and sometimes they bark
in the night-time.

Sometimes they break the peace
with a growl and a kiss,
purring, “Please, Mr. Food Man,
let meowt again.”

Sometimes they stretch
with their paws on their heads,
following yoga steps
like a downward-facing dog.

Sometimes they’re scared
when the light goes out;
it’s a primal thing
that we still feel
in the evening.

Cats and dogs get stressed
my friend
but not as much as goldfish;
they remember six seconds
and forget themselves,
then get themselves stressed
all over again;
it’s no surprise
you want to be
a lion.


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Book Review: No Rest for the Wicked by Dane Cobain

Release Date: May 22, 2015
Publisher: Forsaken
Format: Kindle
Pages: 128 pages
Genre: Thriller, Suspense
Buy: Kindle | Paperback


Synopsis: 

When the Angels attack, there’s NO REST FOR THE WICKED. Father Montgomery, an elderly priest with a secret past, begins to investigate after his parishioners come under attack, and with the help of Jones, a young businessman with an estranged child, Montgomery begins to track down the origin of the Angels. The Angels are naked and androgynous. They speak in a dreadful harmony with no clear leader. These aren’t biblical cherubs tasked with the protection of the righteous – these are deadly creatures of light that have the power to completely eradicate. When Jones himself is attacked, Father Montgomery knows he has to act fast. He speaks to the Angels and organizes a final showdown where he’s asked to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Review:

This was an interesting book, unlike anything else I've read.  Angels are not "good" they feed off the fear and anger of humans.  As these creatures wage a war on the human race two men attempt to find out where they come from and how to stop them.

CERN is a research facility that is trying to prove or disprove the existence of God.  Through science they unleash these creatures on earth.  There really isn't a lot of back story on CERN or why they decided to do this or why they don't get involved in stopping the Angels which I found to be a huge missing piece.  The back story of Father Montgomery and Jones is interesting and ultimately important but I think that giving us some background on CERN would have made the story flow better.  I felt it skipped around a bit and sometimes left me wondering if I had missed something.

Overall this story is unique, the writing is well done and the ending is satisfying if not a bit predictable.





Disclaimer: Book was received from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, August 8, 2016

ARC Review: Mrs. by Noa Grey

Release Date: August 16, 2016
Publisher: The Studio: A Paper Lantern Imprint
Format: Kindle
Pages: 242 pages
Genre: Womens Fiction, Romance
Buy: Kindle 

Synopsis: 

Dear Hope: When my daughter died, my husband of thirty years found solace in religion—and possibly another woman. Help.

Dear Hope: I got fired today and the man that I've been sleeping with left me for his ex-wife. Again. Now I’m a grown woman who lives at home. Help.

Dear Hope: My ex-husband embezzled all of our money and is now rotting in jail. I clawed my way into the life I wanted and now I'm about to lose everything. Help.

Mims, Rory, and Sarah need answers. But beloved Hope Jackson, the world famous love-sex-life columnist, is gone. What will women do without Hope?

Synopsis: 

Hope Jackson was an advice icon. Her death is devastating to hundreds of her fans. Three women find themselves desperately in need of her advice as their lives crumble.

Noa Grey's debut novel seems to be three separate stories totally unconnected until the end when Grey weaves them all together in a brilliant finale.

Each story is about finding yourself after tragedy.  Mims lost a daughter, Rory a job, and Sarah her husband. Each woman has to rediscover who they are and learn how to live again.

This is a well written book that brings humor and empowerment to these stories.  This was truly a brilliant guilty pleasure.


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

Friday, August 5, 2016

ARC Review: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

Release Date: September 6, 2016
Publisher: Source Fire
Format: Kindle
Pages: 336 pages
Genre: YA/ Fantasy/ Suspense
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover |

Synopsis: 

Bruja magic runs in her blood, but a curse meant to banish it may cost Alex more than her power…

Alex is a bruja and the most powerful witch in her family. But she’s hated magic ever since it made her father disappear into thin air. So while most girls celebrate their QuinceaƱera, Alex prepares for Death Day—the most important day in a bruja’s life, and her only opportunity to rid herself of magic.

But the curse she performs during the ceremony backfires and her family vanishes, forcing Alex to absorb all of the magic from her family line. Left alone, Alex seeks help from Nova, a brujo with ambitions of his own. To get her family back they must travel to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland...

Review: 


I finished this book in 2 days I loved it.  Mythical, magical and inspiring.  Alex doesn't want to be different so as she prepares for her Death Day she decides to try to rid herself of magic.  This of course backfires in many ways.  In order to bring her family back she has to navigate Los Lagos, a land that is being ravaged by the Devourer, an evil presence that has been sucking the life out of Los Lagos. It is now up to Alex to save her family, protect her friends and save Los Lagos.  In order to do this she must accept herself as who she is, believe in herself and accept her magic.

Traveling with a boy she barely knows or trusts and stumbling upon her best friend who followed her unknowingly into this other world this is a story of belief in yourself, acceptance for who you are and doing what is in your heart.

Well written story that is filled with lots of mythological lore and stories of Gods, and mystical beasts.  This book holds your attention it makes you care about the characters.  I don't know if this book is supposed to be a series but there was a serious cliffhanger at the end.


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

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Book Review: Her Fiery Viking by AJ Tipton

Release Date: September 12, 2014
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Format: Kindle
Pages: 68 pages
Genre: Romance/ Fantasy
Buy: Kindle | Paperback | Audio


Synopsis: 

The heat is on when a cursed Viking clashes with the woman of his dreams.

Over a thousand years ago, a witch hexed a family of Viking warriors, each with one of the four elements. They live with these curses today, doomed to suffer for their past crimes forever. >

Mikkel might just be too hot to handle. Working as a well-muscled demolitions specialist, he must do everything he can to stay in control. If he allows himself to grow angry, his curse kicks in, making Mikkel burst into an uncontrollable ball of fire. After centuries of tragedy, he fears the fury within him will endanger anyone he lets get too close.

When Joanna--a smart, sexy engineer angry at the world--explodes into his life, Mikkel can’t resist her smoldering allure. Has the time finally come to let someone in to embrace his fire? Or will they both be scorched by a fiery passion?

This mature romance includes incendiary bar room shenanigans, high-speed car escapades, and a blazing romance that beats all odds.


Review:

Short, steamy romance.  Joanna is a hot headed engineer with anger issues and is drawn to Mikkel like a moth to the flame.  I wish this book had been longer.  I felt like it just got going and then it was over.  There is also a bartender at the local bar that has a backstory that I'd like to find out more about.

Over all this is a quicky book if you have few moments for some hot steamy romance this one is for you.


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

Monday, August 1, 2016

ARC Review: All is Not Forgotten: A Novel by Wendy Walker

Release Date: July 12 2016
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Format: Kindle
Pages: 320 pages
Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

Synopsis: 

It begins in the small, affluent town of Fairview, Connecticut, where everything seems picture perfect.

Until one night when young Jenny Kramer is attacked at a local party. In the hours immediately after, she is given a controversial drug to medically erase her memory of the violent assault. But, in the weeks and months that follow, as she heals from her physical wounds, and with no factual recall of the attack, Jenny struggles with her raging emotional memory. Her father, Tom, becomes obsessed with his inability to find her attacker and seek justice while her mother, Charlotte, struggles to pretend this horrific event did not touch her carefully constructed world.

As Tom and Charlotte seek help for their daughter, the fault lines within their marriage and their close-knit community emerge from the shadows where they have been hidden for years, and the relentless quest to find the monster who invaded their town - or perhaps lives among them drives this story to its conclusion.

Review: 


Sometimes not having the memories isn't enough to stop the past from haunting you.  Jenny Kramer was brutally attacked but given a treatment to make her forget, Sean a young soldier was given a similar protocol when he was wounded in Iraq. Both are struggling with the disconnection of what happened and their bodies still having a instinctual memory to the events. The narrator is the psychologist who helps them to try to find their way back to themselves.

This was a very interesting book.  I wasn't sure where it was taking me a few times. The story is fantastic the writing got long winded and meandering at times.  There were several story lines to distract you from the main focus, who raped Jenny Kramer, which would make a great movie but felt a little weighed down as a book.  Overall though I would say it is a good read, with a great mystery and a very interesting and ethically borderline premise.  Is it right to erase the memories of these people in the hopes that it will help them cope better? What happens in cases that need to go to trial? How can you have a reliable witness when they can't remember? Does erasing the memories really make the pain go away? Or does it just raise questions about how it came to be in the first place.

Definitely an interesting concept and a good mystery.


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

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