Thursday, February 26, 2015

Review: Breakwater Bay

abandoned baby, new romance, mysterious beginnings
Title: Breakwater Bay: A Novel by Shelley Noble
Publisher: William Morrow
Format: Paperback
Pages: 384 pages
Genre: adoption, fiction

Synopsis: Preservationist Meri Hollis loves her latest project, restoring one of Newport’s forgotten Gilded Age mansions. And with summer approaching, she’ll be able to spend more time with her Gran on the Rhode Island shore. She has a great job, a loving family and she’s pretty sure her boyfriend is going to propose on her thirtieth birthday.

But everything Meri believes about family, happiness, truth, and love is shattered when her family’s darkest secret is exposed.

 Thirty years before, Meri’s neighbor and friend, Alden Corrigan, took his father’s dinghy out to fish. In a sudden storm, he rushed to help a woman stranded on the breakwater. She was just a girl . . . a very pregnant girl who disappeared soon after they reached safety—but not before she left behind a very special gift.

Now that the truth it out, life will change for everyone in Breakwater Bay, and Meri and Alden will have to make decisions that could insure their future together . . . or separate them for good.

(8) Review: This book takes readers to the coastal area of Rhode Island, Newport's forgotten Gilded Age Mansions, and a spot I found myself wanting to imagine myself on the beach with a drink in my hand. I found this book to be really enjoyable and a quick read.  I would put this book in the chick lit category for the romantic subplot and hunky supporting characters which is not normally my genre but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Meri's is turning 30 and nothing is going as she planned.  Her boyfriend who she thought was going to propose marriage to her tells her he took an internship in California and her grandmother reveals a secret that she has been carrying for Meri's whole life.  When Meri finds out that she was illegally adopted and the circumstances surrounding it she starts to question everything in her life.

Shelley Noble's novel is a thought provoking story about choices. One woman who found herself pregnant from a rich family by a boy they didn't deem worthy -  one teenage boy who helped this pregnant woman and saved her life, but is plagued by the loss of his own mother which effects his judgement when it comes to his own children, another mother who lost her own baby, and a mother and daughter who make a choice which will forever affect another life.

Each character is faced with tough choices and each with a different perspective. I loved the character, Gram, as she was definitely the foundation of this family Ultimately this book is also about love and family and knowing that family doesn't necessarily mean blood relations. Its about who is in your heart.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Open to a random page:
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"There was a terrible silence while Everett Simmons stared at Meri and she stared back at him. He glanced down at the photo then back to her, then again to the photo." 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Review: The Last American Vampire: A novel

Sequel to Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter
Title: The Last American Vampire by Seth Grahame-Smith
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Format: E-book
Pages: 416 pages
Genre: Horror

I received an e-galley of this book from the publisher through in exchange for a fair review. 

Synopsis: Vampire Henry Sturges returns in the highly anticipated sequel to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter-a sweeping, alternate history of twentieth-century America by New York Times bestselling author Seth Grahame-Smith.

In Reconstruction-era America, vampire Henry Sturges is searching for renewed purpose in the wake of his friend Abraham Lincoln's shocking death. Henry's will be an expansive journey that first sends him to England for an unexpected encounter with Jack the Ripper, then to New York City for the birth of a new American century, the dawn of the electric era of Tesla and Edison, and the blazing disaster of the 1937 Hindenburg crash.

Along the way, Henry goes on the road in a Kerouac-influenced trip as Seth Grahame-Smith ingeniously weaves vampire history through Russia's October Revolution, the First and Second World Wars, and the JFK assassination.

(7) Review: I did not read Grahame-Smith's first book, however I did see the movie that was made from it which I found to be a bit ridiculous but amusing nonetheless.  This book, although it is a sequel, is able to stand on its own and I didn't feel lost when reading it. As the book even mentions this is very reminiscent of Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire, since it written as if someone is actually interviewing Henry Sturges.

From Roanoke to the JFK assassination this book takes you on a tour through American history which is fairly historically accurate, with the exception of the vampire thrown in here or there. For those of us who are not history buff's this was an interesting way to be introduced to some historical figures that we may not have known about but after reading about them here I found myself doing google searches on them to find out more about them and to see what was accurate and what was embellished.  

I really loved the way this book is written.  With pieces of it pulled out like it was being quoted or taken from a diary and other parts written as a narrative you get drawn into the story.  I found myself whipping through this very interesting novel and was almost upset to find myself at its end. However, being left wanting more helps me to know how much I felt invested in the characters.

Things that I felt were missing weren't very important but things that stuck with me, such as, what happened to so many of the vampires? Why are there so few left? I doubt that Henry was able to wipe out that many in his travels. I understand that if you were in the Union you were sworn not to make any new vampires, but what about those who weren't part of that group? Surely they were making new vampires? So that part confused me a bit. Maybe I will get answers in a future book.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Open to a random page:
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser is from The Last American Vampire by Seth Grahame-Smith

" It was someone I knew. Someone I'd been close to. It had to be. What other reason for the theatrics? Why else would he choose to reveal the name to me and not another vampire?"

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Review: The Deadening

Sisters of the Spirits  #3
Title: The Deadening: Book Three in the Sisters of Spirits Trilogy by Yvonne Heidt
Publisher: Bold Stroke Books
Format: e-book
Pages: 264 pages
Genre: LGBT, Supernatural, Romance

I received an advanced e-galley of this book through netgalley from the publisher in exchange for a fair review - this book has just been published. 

Synopsis:Shade Stewart is a member of the Sisters of Spirits paranormal investigative group and a self-proclaimed necromancer. Renowned for leaving a trail of broken hearts, she walks between darkness and the light, searching to ease the emptiness in her spirit with women and whatever else might ease the pain. After an explosion leaves her in a coma, Shade is trapped in a place between this reality and her nightmares, fighting for her life and her soul.

Raven Sanchez, a fiery generational witch, is the newest member of SOS. Instantly attracted to Shade and the power she possesses, Raven pursues her, ignoring the darkness that surrounds her. Blinded by her desire, she uses her magic in an attempt to win Shade’s heart, setting in motion forces beyond her control.

Third in the Sisters of Spirits Trilogy

(6) Review: I loved the first two books in this series and Yvonne Heidt has done it again. Although this book is a bit darker and a bit more character driven than mystery driven than the other two. While the first two books in this series revolved around a case this book focuses more on Shade, the necromancer of the Sisters of Spirits. I have always found Shade to be the most compelling and mysterious character and this time we get to dive into her head, learn about her childhood and what makes Shade, Shade.

Raven has been in love with Shade since she was small, there is about a 10 year age gap between the two of them but that never stopped Raven from knowing that Shade was the one for her.  Despite Shade's desperate attempts to push her away Raven just keeps coming back for more, not deterred in anyway by the dead spirits that seem to lurk around Shade all the time.  In fact Raven can see them as well and is not freaked out by them at all.

I really think that this is the best book in the series.  Shade fighting her demons from the past and drug addiction will speak to so many and learning how to let go and move through so that you can move on is such an important lesson.  The fact that this book delves into these heavy subjects with humor and a bunch of sexy lesbians and some steamy love scenes definitely doesn't hurt and certainly keeps you turning the pages.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Review: The Forgotten Girls

Nordic Crime about missing women in the forest
Title: The Forgotten Girls by Sara Blaedel
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Format: E-book
Pages: 320
Genre: Mystery, Nordic crime

I received this book as an advanced e-copy through from the publisher in exchange for a fair review.

Synopsis: In a forest in Denmark, a ranger discovers the fresh corpse of an unidentified woman. A large scar on one side of her face should make the identification easy, but nobody has reported her missing. After four days, Louise Rick--the new commander of the Missing Persons Department--is still without answers. But when she releases a photo to the media, an older woman phones to say that she recognizes the woman as Lisemette, a child she once cared for in the state mental institution many years ago. Lisemette, like the other children in the institution, was abandoned by her family and branded a "forgotten girl." But Louise soon discovers something more disturbing: Lisemette had a twin, and both girls were issued death certificates over 30 years ago. As the investigation brings Louise closer to her childhood home, she uncovers more crimes that were committed--and hidden--in the forest, and finds a terrible link to her own past that has been carefully concealed.

(5) Review: As with many Scandinavian Crime novels this is more about the people than the crime. Stieg Larsson may have brought the genre to the US, with his book The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,  but there are so many really great authors out there that we are just now discovering. The scenery is more barren and gloomy, and the culture very different from America.  I loved the fact that half the characters were riding bikes or walking to and from trains or various destinations instead of hoping in the car.

This is the seventh book in the Louise Rick series but does just fine as a stand along.  I haven't read the others ones and stumbled across this one through netgalley. Louise Rick is just starting up her new job as the head of the Missing Persons Unit which technically only consists of her. She took the job to get out of the homicide division and although this new unit could technically be considered a step down she needed to get out. While she thought she would be able to pick her partner she finds herself working with Eik who misses his first appointment with her and who she has to pick up drunk from the bar early in the morning.

Lismette is found dead from a fall off a cliff, but after some investigation it seems Lismette has a death certificate dated 30 years ago and she had a twin sister.  So how can one woman die twice and where is her sister? Louise and Eik find themselves stumbling around bumping into new missing person cases and more links that lead to more questions about what happened to these girls.  I loved the writing in this book, the characters left me wanting more and the mystery was haunting and disturbing and the book ends with another mystery developing.  This is one author I am going to be adding to my "must follow list".

Review: Foster Parenting books

Keeping a journal, handling allegations, adoption subsidies and more
Title: What Foster Parents Need to Know: Keeping a Journal, Handling Allegations, Adoption Subsidies, and More by James A. Kenny
Publisher: Brigittine Press
Format: paperback
Pages: 64 pages
Genre: Foster Parenting

Synopsis: Caring for children damaged by abuse and delay is a tough and often thankless job. What Foster Parents Need to Know is a no-nonsense book by professionals and foster parents about how to navigate the system, deal with problem behavior, and be effective.

(3) Review: This is a useful little book filled with a lot of good information. While some of it is redundant, its information that can never be told or talked about too many times. I highly recommend this new little gem if you are considering fostering a child.

Information on keeping a journal to help advocate for your foster child, and help fight any allegations, knowing your rights as a foster parent, tips on discipline, and subsidies available for you and your foster child are all talked about in easy to understand language and chapters are short. Some of the information published in this book can also be found in Fostering Families Today magazine. 

childrens book about what it feels like entering a new foster home
Title: A Different Home: A New Foster Child's Story by John Degarmo & Kelly Degarmo
Publisher: Jessica Kingsley
Format: hardcover
Pages: 48 pages
Genre: Foster Parenting

Synopsis: A sensitive picture book to help ease the anxieties of foster children aged 4 to 10 entering placement.

In A Different Home, Jessie tells us her story of being placed in foster care. At first she is worried and has lots of questions. The new home is not like her old home -- she has a different bedroom, different clothes, and there's different food for breakfast. She also misses her family. When Jim and Debbie, her foster parents, answer her questions she begins to feel better and see that this different home is kind of nice.

(4) Review: If you ever wondered what a foster child thought or how they feel when they enter into a new foster home this book will give you a glimpse.  It may not be every child's story but it certainly shows the mixed feelings and need to feel loyal to their birth family. The desire for all children to be home where they know the rules and the expectations, no matter how horrible it may have been is very real.
I thought that this was a well written book that may help other foster children know that their feelings are valid, and common.  While their story may be different the feelings may be similar and it would make a good starting point for a conversation. The pictures themselves spoke volumes and the emotion of them practically oozed off the paper.  This is a great book for foster families and anyone considering fostering a child

Friday, February 6, 2015

Review: The Stand: The complete and Uncut Edition by Stephen King

cover of the first complete & uncut publication of the stand by stephen king
TitleThe Stand: The Complete & Uncut Edition by Stephen King
Publisher: Anchor
Format: Kindle
Pages: 1213
Genre: Horror

Synopsis: This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death.

And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides -- or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abigail -- and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the dark man.

The Stand: The Complete And Uncut Edition includes more than five hundred pages of material previously deleted, along with new material that King added as he reworked the manuscript for a new generation. It gives us new characters and endows familiar ones with new depths. It has a new beginning and a new ending.

(2)Review: About halfway through this book I could definitely see the influence Stephen King has had on the numerous authors who have embraced writing about dystopian societies.  While there are no vampires or zombies in The Stand the death of most of the world and the struggle for survival for the people left alive is relatively familiar.  I wish that I had read this book years ago when it was a fresh topic.

While I loved the premise and the detailed characters I had a hard time with the pacing, a thousand pages can go very quickly or very slow and for me I wish that some of the detail had been left out and the story pace picked up. I think I may have enjoyed the shorter version of this book better than the complete and uncut version. However, the last couple hundred pages of the book flew by in a blink and I loved the finale.

The struggle between good and evil, and what good and evil really is, is at the heart of this novel.  It may not be as black and white as you think, and this epic struggle may not be as easy as many would imagine. King really pushes the boundaries with this sometimes really making you struggle to choose a side and sometimes knowing who is really evil.  But there always seems to be that tipping point.  

This is definitely a book that stays with you long after you close the covers. One that makes you wonder if we are capable of learning from our mistakes or if we are just doomed to keep repeating the past. Apparently this book is due to be made into a 4 part film coming soon and starring Matthew McConaughey as the Walking Man I'm sure that this will start to get lots of hype and is bound to be epic.  I think Stephen King's books sometimes translate to film better than they work on paper.
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