Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Dead is a Killer Tune, by Marlene Perez

Jessica continues to deal with the typical trials of high school, in addition to being a virago, a female warrior, protecting her hometown of Nightshade.  When a Battle of the Bands brings a band named Hamlin to town, odd things begin to happen.  The fans seem to become rabid, people start doing strange things they cannot remember doing, and members of rival bands start to go missing or get hurt.  Clearly, treachery is afoot, and Jessica is determined to do something to stop it.

Having recently read the previous book in the "Dead is" series, I was eager to read the next book.  I ended up having very mixed feelings.  First, I liked seeing more of Jessica's character, and learning more about her family specifically.  It made me feel a bit more connected to her, and more interested in her story. And in terms of the overall storyline of the book, the plot was solid enough.  I actually liked the whole concept of it.

These books work very well as standalone stories.  A reader can jump in at any point, take that book for face value, and have a great little story.  However, since I had just read the previous book, I did think there would be more flow from that story to this one, yet I found it lacking.  It seemed like there were gaps where the previous story ended and this one began.  I felt like I had missed an entire book between the two, particularly when it came to Jessica's relationship with Dominic.  I found that a bit distracting.  Similarly, it seems like all of the characters have some kind of angle.  Either they are some supernatural creature, or they are part of something sinister.  It makes it hard to really connect with characters when they can all be boiled down to belonging to some category of supernatural beings.

Still, the story, like all the others I have read in this series, was cute, and short.  These books serve as good introduction to paranormal fiction for older middle grades and early high school readers.  I doubt mature young adult readers will be too captivated with these, but they do make for nice, light, quick reads.  

I received a review copy as part of the Amazon Vine program.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sapphire Magic: Breaking Glass, by John Booth

While Glass has loved being a Dees and helping protect the Blood and the Source, there is a part of her that longs to know more of life outside the Granger family home.  So, when she gets an opportunity to venture into the world she takes it, and in the process becomes more in touch with her own humanity.  She winds up entangled in a dangerous situation with evil men who will harm the Grangers, and finds that she must chose between her old life as a Dees and her new life as a teenage human girl.

If all of the sentences in my very general summary sound like gibberish, there is a very good reason.  This book is the second in the Magic Series by John Booth, and it is absolutely imperative that one read book 1 in order to understand any of what is going on in book 2.  So if you are new to this series, stop reading this review and go read book 1.  You will thank me for it.

Oh, you are back (or you never left)? Brilliant.  Then I can fully discuss how much I loved the second book in this series.  In the first book, we get a feel for the situation, the major players, and try to imagine this magical world.  This book builds upon all the expectations set up in the first book, and really gives us a new perspective on the Grangers and the Dees.  Obviously, this book centers around Glass, and her special role in the protection of the Source.  We see Glass really grow as a character.  She becomes more than just a mystical, magical being, and we see her take human form, with human emotions and desires.  I found it a bit sad watching her struggle with the two distinct sides of her nature.  Duality of mankind is always a little heartbreaking.  And the choice Glass makes in the end, while I think it the right choice, makes me ache for her a little.  I wonder how this will affect her role in the future books.  

The Granger children, for the majority of the book, play a minor role in the action this time.  We see more of the Dees coming together to protect the house and its inhabitants, and I kind of loved how much the Dees kicked bad guy butt in this book.  The plot is fact paced and I found it hard to put the book down, even when I was in desperate need of sleep.

Yet another fine showing by John Booth.  I look forward to the next book in the series, and I think many fans of fantasy fiction will feel the same way.

I received a review copy courtesy of the author.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Hemlock, by Kathleen Peacock

Being a teenager is never easy, particularly when living in a would where werewolves exist, and not just in movies.  So, Mac's life is a bit chaotic.  Then, her best friend is murdered by a werewolf.  Suddenly her tight knit group of friends all find themselves feeling guilty.  When the Trackers, a group who tracks down those infected with lupine syndrome, or the werewolf virus, comes to town to hunt down the killer, Mac finds herself not trusting their motives.  She takes it upon herself to solve Amy's murder, but in the process, she learns that no one in her life is to be trusted.

Finally, a great paranormal romance with nary a hint of a vampire.  I love me some vamps, but I like variety more, so this book was right up my alley.  I liked that the story starts sort of in the middle of the action.  Werewolves have been "out" for several years, and Mac's best friend Amy is already dead.  It really ratchets up the action and emotional aspects of the story from the very first page.  We see so much struggle within the core group of characters.  Struggle against the Trackers, struggle against the wolf nature, struggle with guilt over Amy's death.  While it does make the story lean more to the angsty side, I did not think it was overdone.  I felt like a lot of the emotions and struggles were portrayed in a realistic and honest manner.  It was so easy for me to suspend disbelief that werewolves really existed, because the story is about so much more than the wolves.  The wolves are clearly not the only enemy.

I really like Mac's character.  I felt like she was well developed, with just enough flaws to make her seem relatable.  I felt like she was strong and independent, but still enough of a teenage girl to be confused with dealing with her first love.

I felt like the way the Trackers dealt with the wolves had echos of the SS treatment of the Jews in the 30's and 40's.  Yet I also felt it was a good allegory to the treatment of minority groups today, like certain religious groups, or groups facing discrimination due to sexual identity.  I think there are a lot a parallels, and this book works on a level beyond just a paranormal romance/mystery.

All in all, I thought this was a really engaging book.  Is it highbrow literature?  No.  And that is ok.  I found myself really involved in the story, and I think that this book will really appeal to young adult readers.  While there is a little violence, all in all the book is pretty tame, with minor references to teen sexuality and some teen drinking.  This book has me looking forward to the next books in the series.

I received this book as part of the Amazon Vine program.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Bet, by Darlene Panzera

Jenny is in a tough spot.  Her band loan on her ranch is due, and if she does not come up with the money, she will lose the land that has been in her family for generations.  Many of the men in town have created an elaborate bet to see who can convince Jenny to marry him, in order to save her ranch, but Jenny vows to reject any and every proposal of marriage.  A wealthy CEO sweeps into town with plans to woo Jenny, then use her land for personal gain.  But something changes his mind; love.  Now he only hopes he can change hers as well.

This was an unusual read for me.  This story was published in a book with another story, the story that gets the cover of the book.  But for the purposes of this review, I am only reviewing this particular story.  I thought that, in terms of a short story, this was quite good.  The author does a great job developing Jenny's character, as well as some of the potential love interests, and I think the backstory was really well developed, given the short length of the story.  There is a lot going on in terms of plot, but never does it seem overwhelming or confusing.

In terms of constructive criticism, I think the only issue I had was the actual romance developing.  Because this was a short story, there was not a lot of time to let the romance develop.  So, it seems like it flips on like a light switch.  And sure, that does happen in real life, but I think the story would benefit from more length and time for that romance to bloom in a more natural, realistic manner.  Also, I would like to have seen some resolution regarding other characters who played key roles in the story.

The story was sweet, delivering moments of humor, romance, and at least one of righteous indignation.  That is a lot to deliver in just a few pages, so well done.  But it left me wanting more, wanting to see this developed into a full length novel in its own right.

I received a review copy courtesy of TLC Book Tours.  See the rest of the tour here.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Flight from Berlin, by David John

Pre-WWII Berlin is the host sight for the 1936 Olympics, and Nazi power is on the rise.  While many have concerns about Nazi ideas and actions, the Reich puts on a good show during the Olympic festivities.  When one American athlete gets removed from the USA team, she joins forces with a British reporter to determine the truth behind the treatment of the sole Jewish athlete on the German team.  Their investigates gets them entangled with a situation that the SS has deemed a threat to national security, and instead of merely fighting for justice, they find themselves fighting for their very lives.

Anyone who is familiar with my reviews knows I love a good WWII era story, which is what drew me to this book in the first place.  I thought the book has a slow take off.  A lot of back story and character development was done up front, and I understand why; it was necessary to get the readers invested.  However, I found that the early parts of the book, where much of this development occurred, seemed to drag.  It was not until I was over 100 pages in that I felt the story take off.  However, once it did, it was off like a rocket.

While the book is set against a real historical backdrop, the story is fiction.  Many of the characters are actual historical figures, or are fictional characters based on historical figures, and I found that to be really fascinating.  I immediately wanted to read the books the author sited as some of his sources of inspiration. There is a whole lot going on in this book. Politics, history, romance, intrigue, espionage.  And a very very wickedly interesting twist about the Fuhrer himself.  I loved the twist involving what the actual secret was that the SS was trying to conceal.  That alone makes the book worth the read, and makes one wonder how much fiction is influenced by fact.  

All in all, I found this to be a fairly solid read.  Some historical fiction fans will like it, particularly those who, like me, loved 1930s Europe.  While the book was initially a little slow due to some frontloading of the character and story development, it certainly held my attention well, and eventually I was unable to put it down at all.

I received a review copy courtesy of TLC Book Tours.  See the rest of the tour here.

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Dumb History, by Joey Green

We look around the world and see people making really really dumb decision, but this is nothing new.  History is rife with examples of truly dumb moves, and sometimes reading about them makes you feel a little bit smarter.  Whether it is a leader taking anti aging elixers that proved to be poisonous or the ridiculous trade of Babe Ruth, this book is full of examples where people make choices that turned out to be completely boneheaded.  So, the next time you feel stupid, read this and know you are in good company.

I am a sucker for these types of trivia books.  I never seem to find them boring, and no matter how many of them I read, I always seem to find several stories that are new to me.  While some of the information covered in this book is old news for me, I still found it highly entertaining.  When I read books of this nature, I always have to wonder about the legitimacy of the facts.  There is a list of references in the back of this book, but who is going to cross check all those facts?  Not me.  Nope, I will take his word for it, and snicker as I read.

My only real complaint about this book was a slight lack of flow.  I like books that are comprised of short articles or vignettes, so that did not bother me.  What bothered me was that they were not organized.  I would have liked it better if the book had been divided into chapters, like Dumb Sports, and Dumb Leaders.  Other than that, I thought this was a cute book, one that is a good discussion piece.  Because it is comprised of all these short entries, you can easily put it down and pick it up at a later date.  It is the perfect book to keep on your coffee table or your bathroom bookshelf to keep people entertained.  

I received a review copy of the book courtesy of the publisher.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Dead is a Battlefield, by Marlene Perez

Jessica is a freshman at Nightshade High School, and desperately wants to be the most popular girl in school.  But she barely has time to be popular, since she has learned the is a virago, a female warrior who must protect the town.  And protection is needed when a bunch of girls, including Jessica's best friend Eva, start acting like lovesick zombies.  Throw in a little bit of a crush on the new school hunk, and you can see that Jessica certainly has her hands full.

I thought this was a really fun little book.  This is actually something like the 6th book in the Dead Series by Marlene Perez.  The thing I really loved about the book was that I did not need to, nor did I, read the entire series in order to appreciate the book.  This book served quite well as a stand alone book.  I have actually only ever read one other book in this series, so the fact that I was able to pick this book up and dive right in speaks volumes to me.  While reading the entire series might give me a deeper appreciation of the book, it stands alone as a complete package.

I felt like I did not get to know Jessica as a character as well as I would have liked to.  We see her dealing with all these issues and obstacles, and while that was captivating, I would have liked to have learned more about her as a character.  I thought the whole love zombie storyline was cute, clever, and original.  And I love all the gothic literary and horror film references.  

The book is a fun little read for young adults, capitalizing on the popularity of paranormal fiction.  However,l there is certainly enough substance to appeal to adult readers as well.

I received a review copy courtesy of the Amazon Vine program.

Monday, July 16, 2012

I Hardly Ever Wash My Hands, by J.J. Keeler

Most people think that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is all checking and hand washing.  But after living with it her whole life, J.J. can assure you that OCD looks different for different people.  J.J. suffers from obsessions that have changed throughout her life, the most prevalent of which are obsessive fears that she will harm someone.  She frankly discusses her struggles so that people will see there is so much more to OCD than most people realize.

As a counselor, I was trained on many mental health issues.  OCD is one of the most misunderstood diagnoses, and the general public are often flippant about it.  People think if someone likes order and tidiness, that person must be OCD.  That is why I am so appreciative that J.J. wrote such an honest account of her life with OCD.  I feel like this book will open the eyes of so many people, and help others better relate to OCD sufferers.

This book is written in a manner that is completely conversational.  It does not feel overly clinical; instead it feels personal.  There is a lot of humor infused with stories of very real, frightening, struggle.  It felt a little wrong laughing at J.J.'s struggles, but she talked about them in such a witty way, I just could not help it.  I applaud her candor, and I feel certain that many people will be touched by this book.

This book will be great for use by counselors and instructors to help people more fully understand OCD.  It will also be helpful to those suffering from this disorder, but can be fully appreciated by all readers.

I received a review copy courtesy of TLC Book Tours.  See the rest of the tour here.

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Thompson's Lucky Star, by Brendan Gisby and Tony Thompson

George Thompson thought he was lucky having survived combat during World War II.  He was even luckier to survive 18 months as a prisoner of war in the German stalags.  When his camp was finally liberated by Russian soldier, he had to depend on that luck once again, in order to transition himself back into a normal life.  During his time as a prisoner, George kept a journal, giving us a first person account of the hellish conditions in the stalags.

I have always heard that writers should write what they know.  It would seem to reason, then, that Brendan Gisby knows that his family, like all families, is full of amazing stories that many people would love to know.  So, that is what Brendan often writes.  And when he does, it is brilliant and moving.  Even though George's journal reveals very little about his personal life, Brendan, and George's son Tony, have taken the transcripts of this journal and given it historical context.

While the book does have a more reserved, documentary tone, it is an excellent first hand account of just how terrible the POW camps were.  Weeks without food, lack of warm clothing, illness, death.  Horrors surrounded the prisoners.  And yet George bravely takes it in stride.  While he comments on the existence of such hardships, he never seems to complain very much.  It seems to me that he maintains and amazingly brave and positive attitude, despite being a prisoner for well over a year.

Because of it's short length, the book was a quick read, but one packed full of intense information.  History buffs will greatly appreciate this unique look into prisoner of war camps.  The book could also be a fantastic educational supplement to high school and college history courses or units covering the end of World War II.  All in all, I found this to be a tremendously interesting book, part autobiographical memoir, part history book, all awesome.

I received a review copy courtesy of the author.

Charlie: A Love Story, by Barbara Lampert

They say that a dog is man's best friend.  But Charlie is a woman's best friend.  Charlie was a golden retriever rescued by Barbara and her husband, and brought into their already fur filled family.  Yet at the heart of the matter, Charlie was Barbara's dog.  He blessed her life in ways she never knew imaginable, and gave her love beyond any she had known.  He was so much more than just a pet.  When he began to have some serious health problems, she kept a journal to help her though the struggles, and to allow her to remember their magical time together.

As a serious dog lover, with two dogs of my own, I related to this book so much.  While I love both my dogs equally, I have a different relationship with each of them, and my relationship with my older dog, Dexter, sounds so much like Barbara and Charlie.  There are times when Dex looks at me, and you can just see the love in his eyes.  It brings me to tears, much like this book did.  This was not an easy book for me to read, because of all of Charlie's health issues.  It is never fun to consider the mortality of someone you love, be it a person or an animal.  We try not to think about the days our dogs will not be here, but it is the reality of having and loving a pet.  So, yeah, this book certainly brought on the waterworks.  But, it still was a worthwhile read.

Barbara and Charlie's relationship is so beautiful and special.  People who are not animal lovers or pet owners may have a hard time relating to this book, and might find it boring, but for those who have pets, or adore all kinds of animals, this book is a deeply emotional, and heartwarming read.  Barbara shares so much about her life, not just about Charlie.  We hear about her passion for her garden, and how gardening helps her cope with the stress of Charlie's illnesses.  We get an intimate view of her marriage, and we learn the stories of many of the other animals that have been and are in their lives.  This is a snapshot, unedited and unfiltered, of Barbara's life.

This book was an emotional read for sure, but it was still a pleasant book, and really positive when viewed in the correct light.  While this may not appeal to some people, to the animal loving reader, this book will certainly resonate quite deeply.

I received a review copy courtesy of Tribute Book Tours.  View the rest of the tour here.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Vampire Cookbook, by J.O. Osbourne

Vampires are the hottest trend out there now.  Abe Lincoln is killing them, Edward Cullen is making them, and Sookie Stackhouse is endlessly cavorting with them.  The only thing left to do is to cook for them, and this is just the book to help you do that.

As a kid, Halloween was always my favorite holiday, and I always wanted to throw a Halloween party to end all parties.  So, it is no surprise that I absolutely love cookbooks that specialize in spooky recipes.  Sure, we all could made ladyfingers that look like actual ladies fingers, and we could have red jello out the wazoo, but I would want to step it up a notch, and this book provides endless ways to do this.

This book provides so many recipes that sound so delicious it is scary.  Plus they look gross and bloody.  Who would not love that.  This cookbook does call for a bit more sophisticated cooking skills, probably not a great book for a beginner or kids, although there are some recipes that would be appropriate, such as the appetizers or desserts.  A lot of the recipes call for blood oranges, which may be a bit difficult for some people to find in small town grocery stores.  However, these recipes are so tasty sounding, it would be worth the effort to find the blood oranges.  

All in all, this cookbook is amazing.  Vamp lovers will greatly appreciate it, and many foodies will as well.

I received a review copy courtesy of the author.

Friday, July 13, 2012

I've Been Deader, by Adam Sifre

What is harder than the life of a zombie?  The life of a zombie in love with a breather.  Such is the trial of our undead pal Fred.  You would think Fred would have no trouble scoring with the lovely Aleta, since he is still capable of rational thought.  For some reason, maybe it is the putrifying flesh or the risk of zombie infection, Aleta is just not biting.  So, Fred is.  Now, Fred is trying to lead a zombie uprising, all while trying to find his son Timmy (or is it Tommy, Fred cannot quite remember).

You would think a zombie would not be a very sympathetic character, particularly one with a heavy handed approach to dating, yet I found myself quite sympathetic toward Fred.  It cannot be easy being a being a higher level zombie capable of rational thought, stuck in a shuffling decaying body.  I liked the concept of there not really being a "good guy" in this book.  Even the guy who tries to fight the zombies is not exactly good.  Every person, alive or undead, is only looking out for his or her own interests.

I thought the writing was really clever, and found myself chuckling many times throughout the book.  Each chapter is a story in and of itself, and the chapters are woven together for a truly brilliant overall story.  I thought the chapters from Fred's point of view were the best, but I liked that the story was well rounded, showing the different aspects of the plot.

I found the book to be really entertaining overall, and quite witty.  It is definitely not your everyday zombie book; I think it will appeal to zombie fanatics, as well as readers who enjoy snarky humor.  Since I enjoy both zombies and snark, this book was perfect for me.

This book is from my personal library.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Enchantments, by Kathryn Harrison

Life is not easy for the daughter of Rasputin, particularly not once he has been murdered. So when Masha and her sister are sent to live with the Romanov family, she thinks perhaps things may get a bit calmer.  She is charged with keeping the heir, Aloysha, company, but his thoughts turn to romance.  The tsar is forced to abdicate, and it becomes apparent that the Romanov's are in danger.  So what will this mean for Masha?

This book was just ok.  It is rare that I have a total lack of strong feelings for a book, but this time, all I can really say is that it is just ok.  I found the characters to be a bit flat, despite the fact that they were mostly based on actual historic figures. I just found most of the book incredibly unbelievable.

In terms of the writing, while the prose and literary form we actually quite good, I had a real problem with the nonlinear storytelling.  It did not flow, and made for a confusing, stilted read.  All the pretty words in the world do not fix the problems with the storytelling.

I think there could have been a good story here.  Actually, I think there is a good story here, one that has already been told, in other, better books.

I received a review copy of this book as part of the Amazon Vine program.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Zombie Cookbook, by J.O. Osbourne

Trying to make meals more fun for picky pint sized eaters?  Planning a big Halloween party?  Want to have a kickoff celebration for the next season of The Walking Dead?  Or merely dying to nourish your inner zombie?  Well look no further, since this is the book for you.  Great recipes made to have all the zombies in your life clamoring for seconds, instead of just for brains.

Somehow, along the way, I journeyed from vampire fangirldom to full blown zombie mania.  I blame the sparkly vampires for pushing me to the dark and mouldering side of undead fandom.  Whatever the cause, I am a big time zombie fan.  And as a zombie fan, I have a unique appreciation for anything zombie related that does not take itself too seriously.  Which is why this book sounded so, well, appetizing, to me.  Having read many quirky themed cookbooks, I knew that this book was either going to be totally cheesy, or totally awesome.  My vote goes to awesome.

The thing I liked best about this book is that these are really delicious sounding recipes.  This is not a book that is going to tell you to peel grapes to make them feel like eyeballs, and cook some spaghetti to simulate brains.  Oh no, this book is far more sophisticated than that.  Sure, most of the recipes are intended to look gross, and have gross titles, but when you read the actual recipes themselves, most sound really tasty.  I personally cannot wait to try the chicken dish titled Bloody Eyeballs.  

The book covers a variety of courses.  You have appetizers, soups, entrees, even desserts.  And most of the recipes are really simple, using fairly standard and ordinary ingredients.  That means that this could be a great opportunity to get your kids to help with cooking.  I mean, what kid would not be excited to help make a batch of Bloody Baked Rats or Brain Cupcakes?

The book make me laugh, and it made me hungry, so I think all in all, it is an effective book.  Well done, bring on the brains.

I received a review copy courtesy of the author.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge, by Christine Nolfi

For years, Ouriana has been connected to the Fabians, the town's premier family.  She was friends with Jason, best friends, but a night of passion with Jason's brother Troy drove a wedge between Ouriana and Jason.  When a tragedy befalls the family, relationships change and long held family secrets are revealed, permanently altering the lives of all those involved.

As a small town girl originally from Ohio, so much of this book felt familiar to me.  I loved the setting, and I loved how accurately the author captured the feeling of that small town life.  The concept of one well to do family supplying jobs and opportunities that affect an entire town is familiar to me.  And the fact that the same family will have deep family secrets is also familiar.  Anyone from a small town can quickly tell you who the "it" families are in town, and explain the power they hold over so many.  What I liked about the Fagan family is, despite their wealth and power, they possess a humble goodness.  They are just so likable, relatable.  You cannot help but feel for them in their times of pain and sorrow, and rejoice in they happiness.

I really liked Ouriana as a character, because she seemed so non-traditional.  Her choice of occupation, the way she carries herself, and the personal choices she makes concerning her family are all full of strength and independence, something I think we see far too little of in female protagonists.  Often, authors feel that in order to make a female character strong, she must be hard as well; this author does a wonderful job of creating a strong yet soft female character.  I think that Ouriana has so much depth and dimension.

The story itself is really engaging.  While reading about tragic events can be hard, even in fiction, I liked that there was positive resolution to the situations.  Difficult topics, like rape, murder, and child abuse, when handled appropriately, can really make a story come to life.  After all, real life is full of these difficult situations, and it only makes sense to have books be as real to life as possible.  This is what allows readers to relate to the stories, and apply the lessons learned to their own lives.  I liked seeing, in this story, that wealth, power, and privileged do not preclude someone from dealing with difficulties, and that regardless of the hand you are dealt, everyone has the opportunity to handle strife with grace.  The book takes its characters and its readers on an emotional journey, one that may provide all of them with healing.  All in all, a solid book.

I received a review copy courtesy of the author.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Into The Darkest Corner, by Elizabeth Haynes

When Catherine meets Lee, she feels like she hit the lottery.  He is everything a woman could want, smart, caring, sexy, and totally crazy about her.  Totally crazy.  But soon, totally crazy becomes completely obsessive and possessive, and eventually abusing.  Catherine is lucky to have escaped, and her experience pushes her deep into the world of obsessive compulsive disorder.  When she learns the Lee is being released from prison, her fears begin to take over her life and color her reality.  So what is true, what is real, and who is to be trusted?

I have always contended that the scariest stories of all contain no supernatural monsters; instead, the scariest stories are those about the monstrous sides of mankind.  This book is a prime example.  This book was completely riveting in every single aspect.  First off, I loved the character of Catherine.  She is so  much stronger than she realizes, and I enjoyed seeing her grow through her journey.  It was also quite interesting to me to watch her open herself back up to others, learning once again how to relate to the world and people around her.  I found her thought processes fascinating, and have to admit at times I was unsure if her version of reality was the truth.

Similarly, I loved the storytelling in this novel.  For a large portion of the book, we switch time frames from Catherine's past relationship with Lee to her present dealings with all the fallout.  I found this to be a very helpful storytelling technique, and it helped keep the timeline straight for me.  Often the improper use of this technique can confuse the story, but in this case it is very well done.  I found myself feeling terrorized at a few points in the book, the fear and the darkness was that beautifully conveyed.  Through all the terror, I was unable to stop reading.  In a word, I was hooked.

Steadfast readers of thrillers will like it, though may find it a bit predictable.  As an occasional reader of thrillers, however, I simply loved it.  While not the most original storyline, it was well written and engaging.  I think it certainly will have mass appeal, and makes for a great summer read.

I received a review copy courtesy of TLC Book Tours.  See the rest of the tour here.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Not Quickly Broken, by L.N. Cronk

Earlier books in the Chop Chop series have touched upon the relationship between Jordan and Charlotte, now we get to hear their fully story.  Friends since childhood, in high school Jordan and Charlotte fall in love, but a pregnancy from her previous relationship drives Charlotte away from Jordan.  They are given a chance to reconnect, and start a life together.  But it turns out life is never exactly as one expects it to be.

We all know how much I love this series, and each time I read another book from it, I am convinced that book is the best of them all.  This one is no exception.  I love that this series has delivered an entire cast of characters, all of whom we as readers have come to care about, quite deeply.  For many of the books in the series, we followed the same few characters closely, with a supporting cast.  Now, we get to know some of the members of this supporting cast a little better.

I loved getting to hear Jordan and Charlotte's respective stories.  I feel like they more fully developed as characters through this book.  No one likes to see people they care about go through hardships, so reading about the struggles of these characters is difficult, but worthwhile in the end.  Jordan and Charlotte grow through those struggles, and so do we as readers.

Cronk consistently provides us with examples of real relationships, going through real struggles, and using faith to weather those storms.  It is no surprise these books touch so many lives.  Who among us is without these kinds of struggles?  In the characters and stories Cronk has created, we see ourselves.  While the story touches quite heavily on faith, the message is subtle.  Like the other books in this series, this book will appeal not only to fans of Christian fiction, but mainstream fiction lovers as well.  I personally will be sad to see this series come to an end.

I received a review copy courtesy of the author.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent? And Other Amazing Comic Book Trivia, by Brian Cronin

Ever wonder what some of the craziest items in Batman's utility belt were, or what the heck Aquaman is good for anyway?  Want a look back at some of the ridiculous ads found in the backs of comic books? What comic book artists were lazy and stole work from other artists?  This book is a treasure trove of comic book trivia that is sure to please any comic aficionado.

I will say right off the top, I am not a comic book person.  I have nothing against them, loved the Archies comics as a kid, but never really got that into comics.  However, I had several boyfriends and friends over the years who were crazy for comic books, so I did get some exposure over the years.  As an adult, I have learned that I do really like graphic novels, and the mythology behind comic book heros, so when presented with the opportunity to review this book, I jumped at the chance.  It did not disappoint.

The thing I most like about this book is that the trivia is divided into short, topically specific lists, with different contributing authors.  I found that this really made the book flow nicely, and kept the information organized in a way that even a comic newbie would be able to follow.  While I was not completely familiar with most of the story arcs, characters, and information covered in the book, I still found it intensely interesting.  My proclamation, up completion of the book was, "I want to go read all the comics".  

I do think this book will really appeal to people interested in comics on many levels.  Novices like me will learn a ton of information, and increased interested is sure to be sparked.  Those more versed in comic book ephemera may know most of what the book covers already, but may like hearing the views of many of the artists and writers contributing to the comic industry today.  And who knows, perhaps there is a nugget or two in here that even the seasoned comic veteran never know.  All in all, a great book.

I received a review copy courtesy of the publisher.