Wednesday, September 28, 2016

ARC Review: Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig

Release Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Format: Kindle
Pages: 336 pages
Genre: LGBT, Mystery
Buy: KindleHardcover

Synopsis:

Flynn's girlfriend, January, is missing. The cops are asking question he can't answer, and her friends are telling stories that don't add up. All eyes are on Flynn―as January's boyfriend, he must know something.
But Flynn has a secret of his own. And as he struggles to uncover the truth about January's disappearance, he must also face the truth about himself.

Review: 


Flynn's girlfriend is missing and Flynn is determined to figure out what happened.  By interviewing her new friends and co-workers Flynn discovers that he might not have known as much about his girlfriend as he had thought.  In addition Flynn comes to terms with a secret that has been plaguing him for a while.

This is not only a coming of age book but also a good mystery with an interesting take on how perception is not always what it seems.  There is also an underlying message of be happy with what you have, because money is not always the answer.

The writing is superb, and the characters very believable to a point. January still remains an enigma to me and I'm not sure where all the cops were while Flynn was running around putting all the pieces together.  While I get that teenagers might be more willing to talk to Flynn I have a hard time understanding why he didn't run into the cops while doing his investigation.

Putting that aside though I have to say this story held my attention and kept you guessing all the way to the end. Flynn's big secret is handled well and felt very honest.  I really liked this book.


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


Monday, September 26, 2016

ARC Review: Little Boy Blue (A Helen Grace Thriller) by MJ Arlidge

Release Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Berkely Publishing Group
Format: Kindle
Pages: 400 pages
Genre: Mystery/thriller
Buy: Kindle | Paperback | Hardcover


Synopsis: 

In the darkest corners of the city, there is a thriving nightlife where people can let loose and cross the lines of work and play, of pleasure and pain. But now that sanctuary has been breached. A killer has struck and a man is dead.

In a world where disguises and discretion are the norm, one admission could unravel a life. No one wants to come forward to say what they saw or what they know—including the woman heading the investigation: Detective Helen Grace.

Helen knew the victim. And the victim knew her—better than anyone else. And when the murderer strikes again, Helen must decide how many more lines she’s willing to cross to bring in a devious and elusive serial killer...

Review:

This series is definitely growing on me.  I am intrigued by Helen, her past and her extracurricular activities.  This installment finds Helen once again investigating murders that seem to have ties to her and her past.  This time the murderer is a little more cunning and the motive and outcome are not apparent until almost the very end.  As this series goes on Arlidge is really finding her rhythm with these characters.

I was slightly disappointed with Charlie in this installment.  She didn't seem as strong in this one, very uncertain in not only her work but in her relationship with Helen. I'm hoping that this changes in the next book.  She is usually such a strong character and I found her very weak in this one.

As usual Helen's nemesis, reporter Emilia has her sites set on taking Helen down. With the help on someone on the inside she may just do it this time.

Faced paced, well written thriller.




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

Friday, September 23, 2016

Book Review: Concrete Wings by Beverly Gandara

Release Date: March 11, 2016
Publisher: Beverly Gandara
Format: Kindle
Pages: 304 pages
Genre: Fiction
Buy: Kindle | Paperback


Synopsis: 

A naïve teen sent out of Cuba to retrieve smuggled family jewels on the eve of the Bay of Pigs invasion comes of age in New York City at the height of the sexual revolution and earns his political and economic freedom. By a twist of fate, he begins to lose his liberty when his oppressive parents arrive and refuse to assimilate into American Society. Take the journey and discover why success isn’t always measured by what one becomes, but often by what one overcomes.

Review: 


The cover of this book threw me off and I wasn't sure if I was going to like it but from page 1 I was hooked.  I felt like I was reading a biography not fiction.  I was completely sucked into Julian's life.  How life was in Cuba before Castro and what happened to it and the people afterwards.  The history in this book and the examination of a young man who has to navigate two worlds is beautifully written.  You felt Julian's struggle. I had issues with his parents while they were in Cuba and even once they got to America.  I felt for them as they entered into a new world, struggled with living in America but there were times I just wanted Julian to walk away and not look back.

This is a well written story that really speaks to the culture, and struggles of new immigrants and their struggle with a new world.  How communism can change you and how being a child who has to resort to being the caregiver can take its toll.

The only things I wish were different in this book were the cover and the ending which I felt was very abrupt but it is well worth your time.


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



Wednesday, September 21, 2016

ARC Review: Just Juliet by Charlotte Reagan

Release Date: September 16, 2016
Publisher: Create Space
Format: Kindle
Pages: 222 pages
Genre: YA, LGBT
Buy: Paperback


Synopsis:

Lena Newman is 17, her best friend’s a cheerleader, her boyfriend’s a football player, and as far as everyone is concerned, her life is sorted. But that’s before she befriends the new girl. Juliet is confident, slightly damaged, drop-dead gorgeous and a lesbian.
Lena realizes that her interest goes beyond just friendship. She sets off on a path of self-discovery where the loyalty of those closest to her will be tested.

Review: 


Lena struggles when she realizes she is attracted to the new girl in school.  She dives into a journey of self discovery which leads her to realize sexuality isn't so black and white.  While most coming out books only focus on being either straight or gay, this book looks at what its like to be bisexual.  What does that mean? Is it just a stopping point before you realize you really are gay? As a bisexual woman I can tell you it is one of the most misunderstood labels.  I loved that this book didn't feel the need to make Lena one or the other but really delve into her feelings to discover who she was.

The struggle Lena has coming out to her parents and the story behind Juliet's cousin Laykin are well done and honest.  Even the way her friends react when they find out is very real. The characters in this book are likable and the story fun and relatable.


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



Monday, September 19, 2016

Book Review: My Steamy Viking by AJ Tipton

Release Date: December 20, 2015
Publisher: Createspace
Format: Kindle
Pages: 52 Pages
Genre: Romance
Buy: Kindle | Paperback 


Synopsis:

A cursed Viking trapped in a watery prison. A modern-day witch digging into her past. What they discover could bring them together…or tear them apart. 

Over a thousand years ago, Bram and his brothers were cursed. The Viking has spent centuries trapped in a Scottish loch as an invisible water wraith, despairing of ever breaking free. But when a gorgeous woman splashes into his world, Bram finally has a chance to make things right.

Audrey is a tenacious witch exploring the grounds of her grandmother’s secret Scottish cabin. When she feels drawn to the beautiful waters of a nearby loch, she discovers she is not alone. Will her magic be enough to free her aqueous lover?

Review:


This is a short hot steamy romance with a paranormal twist. Audrey is a young witch who inherits her grandmothers Scottish cabin.  Bram was cursed to be trapped as water until the curse is broken. He has been trapped in the loch outside Audrey's cabin for thousands of years.  The key to breaking this curse is a riddle that Audrey is having a hard time trying to decipher.

This is a quick graphically steamy novella. My biggest complaint about this series is I am left wanting more!




Friday, September 16, 2016

Guest Post: by WH Wisecarver


I am often asked why Resurrection: An American Journey uses an extraterrestrial civilization to explore the political and social disarray of our current society, to which I answer by pointing to the preface: "Today only in fantasy may one speak truth."

Since H.G. Wells, science fiction has been the genre of choice for warning an uninformed society against the forces of tyranny. Herman Hesse's Steppenwolf (1929) and Orwell's 1984 (1949) warned all societies of the result of totalitarian forces taking control by manipulating the message, rewriting the history and snuffing out any alternative perspective. Robert Heinlein exposed the hypocrisy and immorality of the politically correct consumer-corporate society of the 1950s through the eyes of a Martian come to earth in Stranger in a Strange Land (1961) and William Gibson's Neuromancer (1984) gave us a view of the result when the individuals within society don't take heed. As I've said before, the Resurrection saga is about the true "Throne Games" the powers-that- be-are running, and why it's accelerating. The big difference is that all my monsters are real.

I wanted to reach out to the Millennial generation, to tell them that they are right; something is wrong in our society and the soundbites they're bombarded with from the left or the right don't add up. I reveal why the politically correct messages of both sides is perpetuated on them, and how the various forces in control nullify debate for their political and economic agendas. The politically correct fear debate and free speech because that always leads to alternatives. My hostility of the politically correct mindset, is not about ideas or goals but rather how it stifles "critical thinking" Resurrection's characters, women and men of many complexions, political persuasions and sexual orientation aren't cliché superheroes, but rather individuals who begin to realize the power all humans have: Their own minds. Kirk Danner, we learn in the story is a Guardian, his message is: "Wake up, people — So are you".

Most of what Millennials are dealing with today have deep roots in the human experience, technology has only speeded up the process. That's why I use the quotes at the beginning of each chapter, explaining how we've seen this before. I'm not trying to push any agenda on my readers, I've only weaved their real history into an entertaining narrative to explain: Here's where you are, this is how you got here, and here's how to change the path we, as a species, are on. I can tell this tale because, frankly, where I've been, most don't want to go. I witnessed the true facts behind the headlines and the soundbites over the past thirty years. Of course I'm attacked by the establishment (of both the left and the right), and accused of pushing "conspiracies" on my readers. However the history is there for anyone to explore. My readers will quickly understand fact from fiction.

In my view, the issue confronting Millennials awakening to their own power, is that they don't know their own history. I am constantly amazed at the lack of, or complete misunderstanding of our nation’s post-WW II history politically and economically. The Millennials are the first generation who understand technology, they are socially conscious, and environmentally aware. The vast majority of Millennials are rebelling against a society that's turning them into economic serfs. I'm only showing them how their potential is being stifled by a system that rose from the ashes of WW II. We, together, need to think about how to free ourselves from that system if we are going to evolve as a civilization. The first step, as I stated in Book I, Resurrection: Americans Awaken, is for we as individuals, to free ourselves from the political correctness of 'group think' and the lie of 'the futility of individual effort'.  In Book II, Resurrection: An American Journey, the new generation becomes aware of the history; how it effects their own lives, and what to do about it. Their journey shows them why that history has been censored and why forces in control don't want them to understand it. They realize that they are the bridge to the future and why they must, "Burn the myths of the past".

I’ve received feedback about how Resurrection's war scenes are too graphic, and that my depiction of
various sexual and occult traditions, are too controversial for a mass audience, but I wanted people to
understand the reality of war and those spectrums of the human condition, and that we each have a role to play in the greatest dynamic in earths’ history, our species evolution. Besides, I warned the reader up front that the Resurrection saga is not a tale for the “faint of heart."

*********************************************************************************
Read my review of Resurrection: An American Journey

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Book Review: Resurrection: An American Journey (Volume 2) by WH Wisecarver

Release Date: June 26, 2016
Publisher: Createspace
Format: Kindle
Pages: 466 pages
Genre: Historical Science Fiction Thriller
Buy: Kindle | Paperback


Synopsis:

"Is there something in the air here in Washington, DC that drives everyone insane?" Leila Freyan thought. The twenty-seven year old math genius knew Kirk Danner was a keeper of secrets. Only now did she realize how dangerous those secrets were. The plan is viable, she thought, but he might be crazy. Could he be trusted with such power? Could anyone?

The Order's plan to plunge her world into a new Dark Age was accelerating. But Leila Freyan's generation was unhampered by the ghosts of the past. She realized instantly she'd need the talent of her generation to stop them. Freyan's on her own mission now.

An American Journey is the newest in the Resurrection saga. Nothing is as it seems in this political thriller, and now we are taken into the heart of the issues facing all Americans and offered some realistic solutions.

Review:

I didn't read Volume 1 of this trilogy so I found myself a little lost in the beginning of this book.  I didn't quite understand what was going on but I did find myself intrigued nonetheless. Finally the pieces started falling into place, the dots started to connect and I found myself drawn in.

Wisecarver weaves a tale of history, conspiracy and fantasy artfully into a tapestry that tells a terrifying story.  Some of his analogies and "theories" hit a bit too close to the truth and really make you think.  This is not a beach read or some quick mind candy fluff, this is a book that makes you think. Think about the world we live in, the way governments are run and how we allow what we allow to happen.  It may be science fiction but it has a very well thought out thread of truth running through it.  The characters are well developed and the writing draws you in.

If you like History, conspiracy theories and a little bit of fantasy this is a good read.




Disclaimer: I received this book from the author's publicist in exchange for an honest review

Friday, September 9, 2016

Podcast: Undisclosed Season 1

Release Date: April 2015
Format: Podcast
Host: Rabia Chaudry
Length: 11 Episodes
Genre: True Crime

Synopsis: 

We started the podcast in April 2015 with a detailed examination of the State of Maryland's case against Adnan Syed. We intended to revisit the case from the beginning, looking at all available evidence. Not only what was presented in Serial, but new evidence that we uncovered in our investigation. As attorneys, we pride ourselves on looking dispassionately at facts, analyzing those facts, and applying the appropriate law in our analysis. Our goal is to get to the truth of what happened on January 13, 1999.

Review: 

This case has stuck with me after I listened to the first season of Serial. When I stumbled upon Rabia's podcast with more interviews and more information I had to listen - I wasn't disappointed.  In July 2016 Adnan was granted a new trial and based on the evidence brought forth through this podcast and Serial I can understand why.

For anyone interested in true crime, and the innocence project this is an interesting listen.  Its amazing the contradictions and outright manipulation that happened in the investigation of this case. Really makes you wonder how many innocent people are in jail.


Thursday, September 8, 2016

Book Review: Unbound Soul by Richard Haight

Release Date: May 8, 2016
Publisher: Create Space
Format: Kindle
Pages: 202 pages
Genre: Spirituality
Buy: Paperback | Kindle


Synopsis:

The true story of a young boy, who, in the midst of a vision, dedicates his life to spiritual awakening. As he matures into a man, this promise leads him across the globe, gathering ancient knowledge and mastering martial, healing, and meditation arts. Along the way, subsequent visions reveal the rapidly approaching collapse that will shake our societies, our economic system, and the earth's ecology to the very core. Tormented by visions of coming worldwide calamity, he presses ever onward in his search and eventually realizes the elusive truth hinted at in his childhood vision.

Review:

I wasn't sure what to expect when I started this book, at first I thought this might just be another book by someone who wants to jump on the band wagon of enlightenment but by the 3rd chapter (they are very short chapters) of this book I was sucked in by Haight's journey.  Through conversations, with parents and teachers, meditation, martial arts and vision quests Haight found himself with some very real yet primal understanding.  His teachings remind me of indigenous cultures, protect the land, seek answers within and live in the moment. These are all teachings that have been around for ages but yet we seem to overlook so often.

I find his method of meditation very interesting and inspiring, however I don't agree with all of his take on other forms of meditation.  As a Kundalini yoga teacher I have experienced meditations that are similar to what he teaches.  Haight's teachings are not to be applied only in a special setting but more as a way to live in the world.  A householder teaching to help awaken us or unbind us from ourselves.

I found this book extremely inspiring and filled with a unique take on many spiritual paths.  If you have any interest in expanding your mind and or have an interest in martial arts this would be a good book for you.  I am going to be recommending it to some martial arts teachers I know.




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

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Book Review: Separated Lives by Lynn Assimacopoulos

Release Date: March 1, 2015
Publisher: Dorrance Publishing
Format: Paperback
Pages: 38 pages
Genre: Adoption Search
Buy: Paperback 


Synopsis:

After discovering that her son's friend, Ryan, is on the search for his birthparents, Lynn Assimacopoulos decides to use her skills as a genealogical hobbyist to find them. Delving through phone books, sending letters, and searching everything from the local library to the National Archives, Lynn is defeated by the lack of information she has to go on. However, a random search for Ryan's birthmother's name in an internet search engine yields a photograph of a family. Could this be the correct person? If so, will she even want to revisit her past and get to know Ryan? About the Author Lynn Assimacopoulos is a retired healthcare worker. Although she wrote for professional nursing journals in her adult life, she has been writing poetry and short stories since she was eight years old. When she is not writing or reading, she enjoys fossil hunting and archeology.

Review: 

Are you a fan of genealogy or an amateur sleuth? This book is a short glimpse into how Lynn helped her sons friend track down his birth parents through perseverance and the internet.  With the help of Google and several genealogy sites and other genealogy hobbyists Lynn was able to track down Ryan's birth parents.

Short, sweet and to the to the point this is an interesting story of how one person can use the internet to help someone find the separate pieces of their lives and put themselves back together.



Monday, September 5, 2016

Book Review: False Prophet by Richard Davis

Release Date: January 25, 2016
Publisher: Canelo
Format: Kindle
Pages: 289 pages
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Buy: Kindle


Synopsis:

A psychotic terrorist has his son. He will do anything to save him.When a rogue cult turns deadly, the FBI call on former conman Agent Saul Marshall.

Marshall is soon drawn into a cat and mouse chase with the leader of the cult, Ivan Drexler. As the scale of Drexler’s terrorist ambition becomes ever clearer, news arrives that he has taken Marshall’s son hostage. Removed from the line of duty, he must work alone, off-grid. As the attacks intensify, Saul will stop at nothing to defeat Drexler.

But the FBI are questioning Saul’s own part in the carnage. He must work fast to save both his country and his life. Can Saul stop the carnage before it’s too late? And can he save his son?
As wave after wave of attacks break, the clock is ticking for Saul.

Review:

This book started out a little slow and confusing but about a 1/4 way in started to take off and didn't stop until the end. This is a book of political intrigue, espionage and graphic violence. Saul Marshall is a well developed character and many of the other supporting characters have really interesting back stories, and while the book doesn't delve too deeply into them it shows us how each of the characters are connected.

As you follow Saul on his hunt for his son and the man responsible for taking him I found myself identifying with Saul.  Understanding his motives. This for me makes a good book.  I did find myself a bit disappointed by the ending which I felt like ended a little too abruptly.  It felt a little rushed and a bit contrived.  Overall however I felt this was a good read with good pacing and enough intrigue to keep me on my toes.




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

Friday, September 2, 2016

Podcast: Someone Knows Something (Season 1)

Release Date: March 2016
Producer: SKS and CBC radio
Format: Podcast
Host: David Ridgen
Length: 11 Episodes
Genre: True Crime

Synopsis:

Investigates the disappearance of five-year-old Adrien McNaughton, who vanished during a fishing trip in 1972.

Review:


Interviews with the family and witnesses show that what people remember can and does shift. When you interview someone more than once more and more information is revealed that wasn't brought forth in the beginning because the details didn't seem "important".  Very interesting and brings forth a lot of new leads.

The lilting accents are almost mesmerizing but its the story that keeps you listening.  What happened to Adrien? Could he still be alive? I think that is highly unlikely especially given the new evidence but for lovers of true crime this podcast is like an interactive audio book.

I'm a sucker for this type of podcast.  I love listening to the investigative process and the uncovering of new facts.  Well done.










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