Monday, October 31, 2016

ARC Review: Bluewater Walkabout - Into Africa, Finding Healing Through Travel by Tina Dreffin

Release Date: September 10, 2016
Publisher: Tina Carlson Dreffin
Format: Kindle
 266 pagesGenre: MemoirBuy: Paperback | Kindle


Bluewater Walkabout: Into Africa is a memoir about a much-anticipated sailing adventure that the author, Tina, and her family embark upon. But when her sons bring along two friends who upset the family balance, rogue waves and large sharks threaten the family’s safety, and Tina begins to deal with mysterious and health problems, the perils of life at sea become very real. The book begins with an adventurous safari through Africa, during which Tina reflects on the challenges that a life lived differently can bring. Half running from an early adulthood fraught with sexual trauma, and half running towards a dream, Tina met her husband and the two of them decided to live a life at sea. This story is candid, moving, heartfelt and beautifully written. What sets it aside from other sailing memoirs is that it is about so much more than the journey. Tina writes about topics such as mental illness, sexual assault, the loss of a child, and the challenges of motherhood in such a way that they are naturally woven into the narrative and add a layer of complexity and strength to the story that makes it universal and enjoyable to those who have been to sea and those who haven’t.


I really wanted to like this book.  I loved the description but I just found it a little flat.  If you like sailing, know anything about sailing then this book will definitely speak to you. Because there is a lot of sailing jargon. The sailing portions flew a bit above my head but I was fascinated by the safari, and could feel Tina's anguish at letting her boys surf crazy waves and be as adventurous as her and her husband. I didn't quite catch the whole healing through travel subtitle to this book.  There was plenty of trauma that happened to Tina but I'm not sure how the travel helped to transform her or help her work through her issues.  There is mention of mental illness but again not sure how travel helped that.
It was an okay read and I'm sure Tina and her family live fantastic and adventurous lives but the best thing I found about the book was the safari which was about 10 pages long. Maybe a sailing buff would get into this more, the danger of sailing on blue water instead of a lake or a river but it just left me a little wanting and ended very abruptly and kinda left me hanging about Tina's mysterious illness.

For such a full and amazing life I found that the stories were rather bland and filled with Tina's constant worry about her boys, her boys friends, sharks or some other danger, real or perceived.  I didn't feel uplifted after reading this book and I had a hard time getting through the 266 pages, it just never drew me in.

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

Monday, October 24, 2016

ARC Review: IQ by Joe Ide

Release Date: October 18, 2016
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Format: Kindle
Pages: 336 pages
Genre: crime fiction
Buy: kindle | hardcover


East Long Beach. The LAPD is barely keeping up with the neighborhood's high crime rate. Murders go unsolved, lost children unrecovered. But someone from the neighborhood has taken it upon himself to help solve the cases the police can't or won't touch.

They call him IQ. He's a loner and a high school dropout, his unassuming nature disguising a relentless determination and a fierce intelligence. He charges his clients whatever they can afford, which might be a set of tires or a homemade casserole. To get by, he's forced to take on clients that can pay.

This time, it's a rap mogul whose life is in danger. As Isaiah investigates, he encounters a vengeful ex-wife, a crew of notorious cutthroats, a monstrous attack dog, and a hit man who even other hit men say is a lunatic. The deeper Isaiah digs, the more far reaching and dangerous the case becomes.


Isaiah Quintabe (IQ) has poor social skills but a great mind.  When his brother is killed he finds himself adrift not knowing what to do. Trying to make it on his own Isaiah meets Dodson and the two form a fragile friendship.  It isn't until tragedy strikes that Isaiah decides he needs to find another path.  He sort of falls into being an investigator, helping people in the neighborhood, mostly for whatever they can afford but sometimes he takes on special clients who can pay well so he can pay his rent.

Chapters alternate between the past and the present you see how Dodson and Isaiah meet, and the twists and turns their lives take.  Isaiah helps out a local rapper for a big payoff so he can afford to help a young orphan boy with a traumatic brain injury.  The case proves to be more difficult that expected and soon the killer that was after the rapper is targeting IQ.

Characters come to life in this great urban mystery.  Dodson and IQ make a comical team each with their own strengths.  The capers they find themselves in swing from ridiculous to scary but they have each others backs even if they pretend not to like each other.

This is a great debut and I hope I see more from Ides and IQ.

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

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Book Review: Her Winged Viking (Elemental Viking Book 3) by AJ Tipton

Release Date: October 26, 2014
Publisher: Create Space
Format: Kindle
Pages: 136 pages
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Buy: Kindle


An outcast hiding from the world. A leprechaun ashamed of being different. When outside forces threaten what they most cherish, will their magic be enough to save the day? 

Over a thousand years ago, Erik and his Viking brothers were cursed. With useless, immense wings sprouting from his back, Erik is forced to flee from town to town from angry mobs. Tired of running, Eric hides out at a theme park where he can stay close to the one person in the world he cares about: his best friend, Siobhan.

Sarcastic, efficient, and beautiful, Siobhan is an immortal leprechaun who works as the Chief Financial Officer of a small theme park, the Winter Wondernasium. She would do anything for her oldest friend, Erik, including hiding her feelings to protect him from the forces who hunt her.

When an illicit scandal at the park threatens Erik and Siobhan’s secrets, they have to decide what’s most important: freedom or love?


I didn't like this one as much as the other two I've read in this series.  The whole leprechaun and horns thing vs. wings was just a bit over the top.  Also while I like these short snippet romances I feel like all of them have the potential to be much more interesting and fun if they were longer.  There is story there it just isn't fleshed out.

Not sure if I will continue with this series but if you only have a short time and want something hot and steamy these little novella's are just the ticket.

Monday, October 17, 2016

ARC Review: And Then She Was Gone (A Detective Jack Stratton Novel) by Christopher Greyson

Release Date: October 1, 2016
Publisher: Greyson Media Associates
Format: Kindle
Pages: 260 pages
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Buy: Paperback | Kindle


What's done in the dark will be brought to the light...

The silhouette stood at the edge of the woods like a spider watching a fly enter its carefully crafted web. Only a few more steps and she'd be within its grasp.

Stacy Shaw has her whole life ahead of her. New job, new house and now a baby on the way—everything she's ever hoped for is finally coming true. But on a warm summer night on the way home from work, she vanishes. The police race to find her, but the clues don't add up. Conflicting facts emerge as her story twists and turns, sending the trail spiraling in all directions.

A hometown hero with a heart of gold, Jack Stratton was raised in a whorehouse by his prostitute mother. Jack seemed destined to become another statistic, but now his life has taken a turn for the better. Determined to escape his past, he's headed for a career in law enforcement. When his foster mother asks him to look into the girl's disappearance, Jack quickly gets drawn into a baffling mystery. As Jack digs deeper, everyone becomes a suspect—including himself. Caught between the criminals and the cops, can Jack discover the truth in time to save the girl? Or will he become the next victim?


This book is a prequel to the Jack Stratton novels.  Focusing on Jack as a teenager as he seeks to find the killer of a young pregnant woman. Jack is constantly is putting himself and his friend/foster brother Chandler at risk of danger and also of being arrested.  Both Jack and Chandler are planning to go into the army and anything negative could screw up their chances but Jack just can't seem to help himself.  This is a great start to this series because it really gives you a feel for who Jack is and where he came from.  I haven't read the other books in this series but I just downloaded all 5 I was so intrigued by Jack and his family.

There is enough action to keep you interested, but also just the right amount of reality to keep the story grounded.  Jack isn't superman, he makes mistakes, he jumps to conclusions, he puts himself in situations that could prove dangerous but his motivation to help those who can't help themselves seems routed in his past.  

I love Aunt Hattie, Jack's foster mother and also Jacks parents who took him in at the age of 11. The characters are so well written I had no problem seeing them in my head and watching them interact.
Really great start.  I'm looking forward to the other books in this series.

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

Friday, October 14, 2016

Book Review: Indecent Proposal by Jodie Manhattan

Release Date: September 23, 2016
Publisher: Createspace
Format: Kindle
Pages: 216 pages
Genre: Romance
Buy: Paperback


Evelyn thought that the smaller jobs were always just enough to fill her pockets, but with each robbery successfully ticked off, she had created quite a long list of pleased clients - and these things didn't go unnoticed by some.

A growing list of clientele lead to extra responsibilities, and extra responsibilities meant that there is no backing down when being presented with the chance of becoming a millionaire. In Jodie Manhattans irresistible debut contemporary romance novel, Indecent Proposal, Evelyn runs headlong into the night on a true make-it or break-it mission to retrieve the Dragon's Heart from notorious billionaire Armand Bronson's chateau in The Drives.

However after falling into an ambivalent bond with Armand, in which she cannot understand how she landed, someone from his past arrives.


Evelyn is a modern day Robin Hood, stealing from the rich to help out the poor neighborhood she grew up in.  Her main goal is to make enough money to move her family out of the projects and help her sister go to a better school. When she is hired to do a job that would pay her more than she ever dreamed and would be her final criminal endeavor she starts to cut corners and winds up caught.
Caught by billionaire Armand Bronson who seems like the party playboy but deep down just wants to be loved for more than his money.

This book was good, I really like Evelyn but I would have like to see her and Armands romance grow instead it just seemed to happen outside of all the other action. Even the ending seemed a bit rushed. There were some interesting characters, and there could be more to explore in this world, which with some work could morph into something akin to the _____ in death books by JD Robb.  I'm not sure if this is supposed to be a stand alone book or the introduction to a series but the ending left you dangling a bit and I could see Evelyn and Armand as a good team, him with the technology and money and her skills at breaking and entering.

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

Friday, October 7, 2016

ARC Review: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Release Date: October 11, 2016
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Format: Kindle
Pages: 480 pages
Genre: Fiction
Buy: Kindle | Hardcover 


Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.


Timely and powerful I found this book really distressing to read but also fabulous and informative. Tackling the issues of privilege, racism, race bias, etc in a way that I think will open many eyes and lead to some really great discussions.  While people may think that the story line is not something that would actually happen in America unfortunately it does happen in real life.

Turk's story reminds me a little of the movie American History X with Edward Norton in that you get to see through the eyes of a white supremacist.  Its scary how people can be taught to hate so much, that history can be twisted in such a way, but its not a problem of yesterday, this is something that continues, and is systemic in the American culture and seems to be growing again.

Picoult's book couldn't have come at a better time and hopefully will get people talking and really thinking about racism, white privilege, and unconscious bias. Was Ruth guilty? Was she just following orders? What would you have done? And why did the hospital put her in this situation? Like all Picoult's books there is no easy answer, but maybe thats the point, there is no easy answer and fixing this is not going to be easy or comfortable for many.

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

Sunday, October 2, 2016

ARC Review: No Place To Pray by James Carpenter

Release Date: September 1, 2016
Publisher: Twisted Road Publications
Format: Kindle
Pages: 336 pages
Genre: Fiction
Buy: Kindle | Paperback 


Two young men, one bi-racial and the other white, meet in an overnight lockup and begin their shared twenty-year downward spiral into alcoholism and homelessness. LeRoy and Harmon work together, drink together, brawl together, and as Harmon suffers from his final illness, they both bed Edna, a wealthy widow who, out of pity, curiosity, and loneliness, takes them into her vacation home by the river. Through episodes rendered from shifting, multiple points of view, a series of flashbacks, and LeRoy's adventure stories this very smart but uneducated man's attempts at fantasy writing we learn of the people and tragedies that shaped their lives and those whose lives unravel along with theirs at the seams of race, class, and religion, and where no one ever quite tells the truth.


In my opinion this was more about about class and friendship than race.  No matter their color both men are struggling to survive and often wind up in dangerous predicaments. We don't know much about Harmon's past but LeRoy came from a poor family, his mother was a whore and he didn't know his father. Harmon and LeRoy meet when they both wind up in the same cell one night.  That night forged a friendship that lasts the rest of their lives.

I actually had a hard time remembering that Harmon was supposed to be white and LeRoy black.  I often thought of them and their friends all being the same race until someone else brought it up and then I had to go back and think about how it would have been difficult given the time period. I'm not even sure that there was any mention of what race anyone was with the exception of LeRoy and his stepfather Whiskey.

The shifting time periods were interesting and really helped build a strong idea of who the men were and what was going on during that time. However because they were in a very rural setting it didn't even seem that many of the racial tensions of the time were as prevalent, it seemed that day to day survival was the biggest concern.

Well written book about friendship and class.

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

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