While some of the books I review on my site are furnished by the publishers, authors, or publicists for the purpose of review all of my reviews are truthful, honest, and my sincere opinion.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

One of my reviews has been published!!!!

I got an email from Claire Avery yesterday letting me know that a blurb of my review for Hidden Wives was published in the mass market version of the book! How awesome is that? I'm so excited about it!!! I loved the book. And in the e-mail I was told that a sequel is in the works - so now I can't wait to get my hands on that...

In case you're new to JustJenniferReading, or don't remember my review of Hidden Wives you can read my full review here.

You can get more information about Claire Avery here. You can like Claire Avery on Facebook.

You can buy a copy of Hidden Wives here. (Note this link is to the mass market edition on my Amazon store.)

I'm so glad that things are going good for Hidden Wives and I can't wait for the sequel to be finished! And once I get my first paycheck (I FINALLY FOUND A JOB!!!) I will have to buy a copy of the mass market version so I can see my review in print!

Thanks to all my readers who helped make Hidden Wives a success! I think it's awesome to know that through my blog I was able to help an amazing author, but I couldn't have done it without you!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Call for followers

For those of you that don't know Just Jennifer Reading isn't my only blog. I actually have two other blogs: Just Jennifer Talking and Just A Healthier Jennifer. My other two blogs could really use some followers. So to all of my great Just Jennifer Reading fans I would LOVE for you to check out the other two and become a follower if you are so inclined.

I'm hoping to get a big enough following on those two to be able to start offering giveaways there.

Just Jennifer Talking focuses on everyday life. I am starting to do product reviews there also.

Just A Healthier Jennifer is where I'm going to share with you my weight loss journey. It's a struggle for sure, but having support from the blogosphere might make things a little easier for me. And you never know, maybe I can help you too!

I know you're here because you are interested in books and literature, but I would love to have you join me on my other two sites!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Book Giveaway Linky

I've entered my giveaways on other blog's linkys but I'm not 100% sure on how it works. So I'm going to try it.

Enter your book giveaways. I'm new to this, so I think I'm going to put up a new linky every week. I'll have to see how it works.

In the name field please leave the book title and the giveaway ending date.


Review: Curios by Richard Marsh

I won a copy of Curios in a member giveaway on LibraryThing.

About the Book

"The most effective shocker yet invented by the author of The Beetle. Grim, fantastic and humorous in an original fashion." - The World

"Weird, grotesque and comical. Told with the spirit and vigour that we have learnt to expect in the work of Mr. Marsh." - The Speaker

Curios is a series of seven short stories narrated alternately by Mr. Pugh and Mr. Tress, rival collectors of "curios", who are sometimes best of friends and often worst of enemies. Pugh is superstitious, tending to believe every antique he comes across is haunted. Tress is cold and cynical and will stop at nothing - even theft or murder - to add to his collection.

Ranging in tone from horrifying to mysterious to darkly comical, these stories follow Tress and Pugh as they come in contact with an array of strange objects, including a poisoned pipe that seems to come to life when smoked, a 14th century severed hand bent on murder, and a phonograph record on which a murdered woman speaks from beyond the grave.

Curios was first published in 1898, the year following Marsh's greatest success, The Beetle. Owing to the poor quality materials of which it was made, only a handful of copies of the first edition of Curios have survived. This edition reprints the unabridged text of the first edition, restoring this delectably gruesome and hilarious book to modern audiences.

For more information about Curios you can visit Valencourt Book's website.

My Review

I didn't really care for this book. The main two characters Mr. Pugh and Mr. Tress weren't really all that developed. I found it hard to understand how they felt about each other. They kept talking about being friends and yet they were so underhanded and deceiving with each other. The stories themselves were really odd. They items that the two collectors find were very unique, but that's about where the interest ended for me.

I couldn't get into the writing, I couldn't connect to the characters, and the stories were just too odd for me.

Review: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

I bought this at a book sale in the lobby of my therapist's office.

About the Book

The World's Bestselling Mystery

"Ten . . ."
Ten strangers are lured to an isolated island mansion off the Devon coast by a mysterious "U. N. Owen."

"Nine . . ."
At dinner a recorded message accuses each of them in turn of having a guilty secret, and by the end of the night one of the guests is dead.

"Eight . . ."
Stranded by a violent storm, and haunted by a nursery rhyme counting down one by one . . . as one by one . . . they begin to die.

"Seven . . ."
Which among them is the killer and will any of them survive?

For more information about And Then There Were None visit Harper Collins.

My Review

This was the first Agatha Christie novel that I have read. I was very impressed and wished I'd actually taken the time to read her in the past.

And Then There Were None was a really good whodunit mystery. The ending kind of amazed me. The murder wasn't who I expected it to be, and the explanation of how they pulled off all the murders was pretty clever. I liked the premise, that all the people on the island were made to be suspect. Through their guilt of things they had done in their past they all had the ability to pull off the murders.

The writing was really good. It was very fast-paced but it didn't move so fast that I was lost in what was going on. The murders happened in a way that as soon as I "recovered" from one another one had happened. That was the greatest part of this book, that it kept the suspense going and didn't really have any down time.

I am very glad that I decided to pick up this one. I really enjoyed it and will be getting my hands on more Agatha Christie soon!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Review: The One Year Book of Encouragement by Harold Myra

Thanks to Tyndale House Publishing for letting me review this one.

About the Book

The One Year Book of Encouragement is a collection of insights from assorted Christian authors, past and present—from Oswald Chambers and Philip Yancey to John Calvin and John Wesley. Draw encouragement every day from the wisdom of the ages with this One Year book—it’s bound to be a classic!

For more information about The One Year Book of Encouragement please visit Tyndale House's website.

My Review

I really liked this one. Some of the people in the stories were extraordinary people - Mother Teresa, C. S. Lewis, Martin Luther, etc. However, the stories that were shared showed that even though they were extraordinary their situations were very normal.

Each story is followed with a prayer and a Bible verse. The prayers deal with things that we all deal with - struggling at work, dealing with temptation, houseguests, being gracious. It was nice to have these prayers. I know I sometime struggle with what to say in my prayers. I know God knows what I'm praying for but I can't exactly articulate it to myself. These short prayers sum things up nicely.

The only thing I would have liked to see with this is a "glossary" of the different problems. I think it would have been nice to be able to look for work in a glossary and find a few different prayers that will help you with what you're going through.

Overall, I thought this was a very a good book. It was kind of a nice reference for dealing with life through your spiritual growth.

Giveaway: The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo

Thank you to Sabrina @ Little, Brown for letting me give a copy of this one away!

This has to be my favorite Patterson book yet. It was fun to read and it was quick! But it really got me thinking about how quick my baby sister's wedding is going to be here. May really isn't that far away now. At least we all know who she's marrying :-) But there's so much more to be done. Nothing crazy has happened yet, but with my family it's only a matter of time, believe me.  

You can read about the book and see my review here.

Now for the giveaway :-) Thanks for entering!

Review: The Gods of Greenwich by Norb Vonnegut

Newman PR sent me a review copy.

About the Book

Forget about Bernie Madoff or Gordon Gekko—there’s a new villain on Wall Street…

Norb Vonnegut didn’t realize how close he skirted to non-fiction when he was writing his spectacular debut Top Producer. Penned before tumultuous revelations and scandals rocked the financial world in late 2008, Vonnegut’s novel depicts, with an insider’s solid knowledge, the tricks that the industry’s real top producers pull in their frenzied pursuit of billions. Now Vonnegut sets his electrifying follow-up in the high-rolling world of hedge funds, lending his seasoned perspective to a riveting thriller.

Jimmy Cusack is the tough kid from a blue-collar neighborhood who made good on Wall Street. Well, almost. After a sterling start to his career, things have soured. His hedge fund has collapsed. The bank is foreclosing on his upscale condominium. And his wife is two months pregnant. That’s the good news. When Cusack takes a “must-have” job with Leeser Capital, a Greenwich fund impervious to the capital market woes, his real troubles begin.

Vonnegut’s unique insider’s perspective and his intuitive, darkly humorous writing are once again on full display in this fast-talking suspense thriller. A high-stakes poker game of a book,The Gods of Greenwich is a timely and gripping read that will keep you glued to the edge of your seat until the last card is played.
For more information about The Gods of Greenwich please visit Macmillen's website.

You can also visit Norb Vonnegut's website or follow him on Twitter.

My Review

I have to admit that when the opportunity to review this book was presented to me I did it simply because the name Vonnegut was on it. Now I know he's just a distant cousin, but how great would it be for two (even distant) members of the same family to be great authors??

I really liked Cusack, the main character. He was so likeable. He has charisma and could probably sell anything to anyone, but he never was out to get anyone (well at least until the end of the book, but I can't give that away!). His wife Emi I saw as being so cute and innocent looking, the kind of person you couldn't hate if you wanted to. I didn't care for Cy, his wife Bianca, Victor, or Rachel. But I think that was the point. Although I wouldn't do it, what Bianca does to Cy was fun to read. She went about things in the wrong way, but revenge is awesome :-)

This one kept me guessing all the way through. We know Rachel is a murder but we don't really figure out how she's tied into the story for quite a while. We're told about the Art dealer and the Banker in Iceland are in huge problems of their own, and while we're clued in a bit to what's going on between them and Cy I didn't really catch on completely for quite a while. This one was so well written that I gave up even trying to guess how it would end because I was so engrossed in what was going on right now. I really liked the ending. It tied everything up pretty well, it wasn't cheesy, and it wasn't a "everyone is happy" ending.

Even though this was about Wall Street, which is something I have very little interest in, the story was so engaging that even when I didn't understand what the characters were talking about I didn't feel bored by it. There was so much going on, so many different parts to the story, that it was hard not to get caught up in the middle of everything.

So I picked this book because it had the name Vonnegut attached to it. Was I disappointed? NOT AT ALL! I think there's something in that blood line somewhere. I can honestly say after reading The Gods of Greenwich that two of my favorite authors share the same last name. Even though the writing was totally different it was written so well that there's really no comparison. It's like comparing your favorite jeans to your favorite desert. They're both great, which is why they're your favorites, and it would be really hard to pick which one you like better.

Review: Life After Genius by M. Ann Jacoby

I bought this one at the dollar store. Can't beat a good book for a buck!

About the Book

Theodore Mead Fegley has always been the smartest person he knows. By age 12, he was in high school, and by 15 he was attending a top-ranking university. And now, at the tender age of 18, he's on the verge of proving the Riemann Hypothesis, a mathematical equation that has mystified academics for almost 150 years. But only days before graduation, Mead suddenly packs his bags and flees home to rural Illinois. What has caused him to flee remains a mystery to all but Mead and a classmate whose quest for success has turned into a dangerous obession.

At home, Mead finds little solace. His past ghosts haunt him; his parents don't understand the agony his genius has caused him, nor his desire to be a normal kid, and his dreams seem crushed forever. He embarks on a new life's journey -- learning the family business of selling furniture and embalming the dead--that disappoints and surprises all who knew him as "the young Fegley genius."

Equal parts academic thriller and poignant coming-of-age story, LIFE AFTER GENIUS follows the remarkable journey of a young man who must discover that the heart may know what the head hasn't yet learned.

For more information about Life After Genius please visit Hachette Book Group.
My Review

This was a weird one for me. I liked the story, even though it was a bit odd, but I didn't really connect with the main character. But the mystery of why Mead came home was pretty engaging. I just wanted to know why. The story jumps around through different times in Mead's life. It got to be a bit confusing at times, as Mead also seems to be having a bit of a nervous breakdown throughout the story. But the jumping around really adds to the mystery of what happened and if Mead really is starting to loose his mind.

Mead appears to have had a rough social life growing up. Being so smart and so much younger than the kids he's in school with made him a bit of a target for bullies and such. So it's really no surprise that once Mead goes to college young he's still an outcast. Herman, Mead's best friend/mortal enemy tries to befriend Mead for a while and has to take a HUGE step to get Mead to really open up. But as the story progresses we learn that while Herman seems to have been born with the silver spoon his life wasn't really all that easy.

Even though I didn't particularly care for either of the main characters there was something about this story that I couldn't walk away from. It was so out there at times and yet so "normal". It's so hard to describe. Even the ending was a bit odd, and it left more questions than it answered. But at the same time most of the really important stuff is cleared up before we get to the end. Like I said it's hard to describe... Overall I have to say I enjoyed it.

Review: The Mammoth Hunters by Jean M, Auel

This one has  been sitting on my bookshelf for about 10 years now...

About the Book

The epic journey begun in The Clan of the Cave Bear, and furthered in The Valley of Horses continues in this stunning, vivid adventure. Once again Jean M. Auel opens the door of a time long past to reveal an age of wonder and danger at the dawn of the modern human race.

Riding a horse called Whinney and accompanied by Jondalar, the man she saved when wounded by a cave lion and has grown to love, Ayla comes to the land of the Mamutoi--the Mammoth Hunters. She has finally found the ones the Clan called “The Others,” people who look like her.

Though Ayla must learn their different customs and language, she is adopted because of her remarkable hunting ability, singular healing skills, and uncanny fire-making technique. Bringing back the single pup of a lone wolf she has killed, Ayla amazes the Mamutoi by demonstrating how she tames animals. Even though she faces some prejudice when it is revealed that she lived her early years among the Clan–the ones called “Flatheads”–Ayla at long last finds women friends and begins to put the pain of her past behind her.

As Ayla becomes more a part of Mamutoi society, she meets Ranec, the dark-skinned master carver of ivory. She becomes enamored and her passion for this new man makes Jondalar fiercely jealous. He compensates by avoiding her. Because of her early life with the Clan, his behavior is mystifying to her. She mistakes his anger and hurt for disinterest, and turns more fully to the charismatic Ranec. Throughout the icy winter she shelters with the Mamutoi, while Jondalar broods over his disappointment.

Then it is summer again, and as the great mammoth hunt approaches with its annual Matrimonial ritual, Ayla must finally choose: to stay with the Mamutoi who have become friends and mate with Ranec, or to choose Jondalar, and leave this sanctuary for the hardship of a journey toward his home
many miles, and many adventures, away.

For more information about The Mammoth Hunters of Jean M Auel you can visit her website or like her on Facebook

My Review

I've been working on this series off and on for about 12 years. I bought them right after I graduated high school and didn't realize at the time the mental fortitude this series takes to read. At 18 I just didn't have the patience to read 700 pages. But now that I'm a bit older I can really appreciate this series.

Since I did start the series 12 years ago I feel like Ayla's been a part of my life for quite a while. She pops in to say hello every few years. So I've really become attached to her. It's hard for me to criticize this book at all because I do love Ayla and Jondalar so much. But it took me forever to read The Mammoth Hunters. I started this book in the summer of 09 and had to put it down about half-way through. Partly because I had just finished reading The Valley of the Horses and partly because the romance scenes were becoming a bit too much for me. Don't get me wrong, I'm far from a prude (believe me) but it just felt like all Ayla and Jondalar did was make love.

I'm glad I picked it back up. As it really is a great story. Again, I do seem to have a bit of an attachment to Ayla and Jondalar so I may be a bit biased here, but I really do like this series. There are times when I think the descriptions go a bit more into detail than necessary, but they also create such a vivid picture as to where the characters are and what is going on. The Mammoth Hunters introduces us to so many new characters I didn't think I'd ever get them all straightened out, but as the story goes on I really didn't have any problems keeping track of everyone.

I obviously like the main characters but I really liked the Mammoth Hearth. Tulie, Talut, and Frebec are probably my favorite new characters. Frebec comes off as being a bit of a jerk at first but he's really loyal and protective. He also seems to have a bit of a soft side that, like most men, he was trying to hide. Tulie and Talut are great characters. They are strong, wise, serious, playful, and humorous all at the same time. They just seemed so real to me.

While I don't think I'll be reading Plains of Passage anytime in the near future, knowing it's sitting on my bookshelf is a bit of a comfort too me. When I decide I need to see what Ayla and Jondalar are up to I can just pick it up and start reading it. It's like a having one of those great friends that even if you don't talk for awhile you can sit down and have a conversation and it feels like no time has passed at all.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Review: The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo

Thank you to Sabrina at Little Brown for letting me review this one! 

About the Book

The tree is decorated, the cookies are baked, and the packages are wrapped, but the biggest celebration this Christmas is Gaby Summerhill's wedding. Since her husband died three years ago, Gaby's four children have drifted apart, each consumed by the turbulence of their own lives. They haven't celebrated Christmas together since their father's death, but when Gaby announces that she's getting married--and that the groom will remain a secret until the wedding day--she may finally be able to bring them home for the holidays.

But the wedding isn't Gaby's only surprise--she has one more gift for her children, and it could change all their lives forever. With deeply affecting characters and the emotional twists of a James Patterson thriller, The Christmas Wedding is a fresh look at family and the magic of the season.

For more information about The Christmas Wedding please visit Hachette Book Group. You can also visit James Patterson's website or like him on Facebook.

My Review

This book was pretty good. The story was interesting - a mysterious wedding, a few unexpected twists and turns, and a good mix of mushy and humorous. The character development was a bit lax, but I think that added to this story a bit. There were so many important characters that had they all been well-developed, like Gaby, this book would have been horrendous to read. And the lax in development added even more to the intrigue of who is Gaby going to marry? I did like the children. Claire was probably my favorite though. I'm not sure why I connected with her, even more so than with Gaby, but I did. I've never really been through any of what Claire goes through in this book, but the connection was there nonetheless.

I have to say I was a bit shocked that Patterson was doing a romance story, or "Love Story" as it says on the back cover. Although that's probably more from my lack of following his works, as it appears he has a few of them. In true Patterson fashion there was mystery and intrigue surrounding the whole thing. It was very well balanced between the mystery story and the love story. In the past I have been a bit critical of Patterson's novels because they, while entertaining and engaging, tend to be a bit predictable. I thought I had a good idea of who Gaby was going to marry about halfway through, but I was wrong. She picked my second guess :-)

Overall it was a pretty good story. I enjoyed reading it. It was a very quick read also. It took me less than two days to finish it. Partly because I wanted to know who she was going to marry and partly because it was pretty fast paced.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I'm kind of glad the leaves are changing colors around here. While I hate the S word (Snow.... Yuck!) Summers are always crazy for me. I feel like there's too much to do, and no where near enough time to do it! But now that things are calming down I can get back to doing the things I enjoy. Not that I haven't been doing them, I guess it's more that I haven't been sharing them. And since I love to tell people what I think about what I've been doing I'm going to try something new. I found a site called Smiley 360. They'll hopefully let me do just what it is that I love, tell companies what I think about their products! I've just signed up, and so far it's been pretty easy to figure out. Now I'm just waiting for companies to ask me what I think...

Just Jennifer Reading will still be for books, reading, literature, etc. But I'll be more active on my other two blogs: Just Jennifer Talking and Just a Healthier Jennifer.

I'll keep you posted as to how things are going. But in the mean time why don't you head over to Smiley 360 yourself to see what it's all about! Smiley360

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Started another blog (not a reading blog)

Just wanted to pass along a link to my new blog: Just A Healthier Jennifer

This other blog is going to follow my weight loss journey. So stop on by over there. I'll still be here reading, but I've always felt weird posting personal (non-book related stuff) on this blog.



Saturday, June 25, 2011

Review: A Line Blurred by Bryan Healey

I won a copy of this book from Library Thing.

After getting a copy of Shattered Wings direct from Bryan imagine how excited I was when I won a copy of his first book on Library Thing!

About the Book

A couple caught in a boring life deviate from their routines to devastating and exciting result. Now unable to pull themselves from their newfound happiness, they rationalize their actions to satisfy their guilt, coming ever closer to an emotionally shattering end for both themselves and their children, who are unwillingly swept into their downward spiral.

For more information about Shattered Wings you can visit Bryan's blog. You can also follow him on Twitter.

My Review

After reading Shattered Wings I had high hopes for this book. And I have to say I was not at all disappointed! Again Healey writes a story that was so emotional, and yet didn't leave me feeling emotionally drained.

In this one we're following Kevin and Kylie, a couple who are part of a marriage that just isn't working anymore. Kevin is all about his routine: get up, go to work, come home, have dinner, go to bed. Not much in his life deviates from that routine. What I liked about Kevin is that he isn't a boring person by nature, he's just living the life that was given to him. He knows he wants more, and he tries to be spontaneous, but life gets in his way and he falls back into doing what he's always done. Kylie I didn't really like in the beginning of the book. She came off as a bit prissy and heartless. But the more the story followed her the more I began to feel sorry for her. She's worried about her life: her husband, her kids, herself. But Kylie is pulled by responsibility to keep her thoughts to herself. She wants the appearance that everything is ok. She really grows through the story to become such a strong character.

The story starts with twists almost right from the beginning. I didn't see any of the things that happened coming. It was so exciting to read to see what was going to happen next. Even when there wasn't something "exciting" going on the story was still exciting. I really didn't want this one to end. I wasn't disappointed by the ending, as I think it was exceptionally done, but I just wasn't ready to give these characters up. Healey has an ability to capture your emotions almost right from the word go. That connection really makes his books special to read.

A Line Blurred

Review: Shattered Wings by Bryan Healey

Thanks to the author Bryan Healey for letting me review Shattered Wings.

About the Book

John holds the American dream: A man he loves, a beautiful little girl, a suburban home and a well-paying job... And then a sudden layoff brings about unexpected financial and emotional strain. As he struggles to find new work, a growing sense of despair triggers a relapse into alcoholism and causes him to face his demons of addiction, discrimination, and regret as he tries desperately to recover before it's too late...

For more information about Shattered Wings you can visit Bryan's blog. You can also follow him on Twitter.

My Review

This one I thought would be a bit difficult for me to read. So many of us right now are struggling with losing our jobs, not having the money to make ends meet, and all the other stresses that come along for the ride. It's a difficult subject to talk about, let alone get emotionally attached to in a story (as I almost always get emotionally attached to the stories I read). My fear was that I would be emotionally drained after reading this. Healey masterfully pulled off a story that let me get attached, but didn't drain me, and actually let me wanting to keep reading.

The character development was so great in this book. John comes off as a bit of a jerk (sometimes a lot of a jerk) but he was still likeable. I really attached to him and even though I felt like he needed a swift kick in the you know what I still felt the pain and anguish that he was going through. I just wanted things to work out good for him. As the book progresses we are taken back through important moments in his life that give us a little more insight into how his life has progressed. We get to meet Charlie with him, we get to see him when his daughter is born, we get to see all the important events that have gone on in his life. Being privy to these moments really helped to form the bond that I built with John.

I think it takes a great author to be able to pull of flashbacks in a story without making the story feel choppy. The flashbacks sometimes confused me, as I would get lost in the story and I wouldn't realize that I was in a flashback. I think that is my only criticism of this book, while the flashbacks didn't deter from the story I didn't always pick up on the fact that I had jumped into the flashback. But I think this is more due to my reading habits rather than an error on the author's part.

But overall it was a great book. I really liked the characters, even when I didn't want to. There were some great twists that really made John's situation that much more desperate. The ending was great, I had part of it pegged, but the last twist really threw me for a loop. I was left with a few questions, but I didn't feel like I was left with an unfinished story. Enough was answered to keep me satiated, and enough was left unanswered to make the ending quite intriguing.

Shattered Wings

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Review: Just a Nice Guy by Phil Torcivia

I have to thank Reader Spoils for alerting me to the fact that Phil needed reviews (and was offering swag). And I also have to thank Phil for letting me review this one.

About the Book

Is it true that nice guys finish last? It sure seems that way as a divorced man fights his way through a comedic dating scene. Will he ever find his soul mate?

Phil has been called the male version of Carrie Bradshaw. Enjoy his humorous essays about relationships and the struggles we all have finding and keeping lovers. Women appreciate his open view into the minds of men.

Artist Mike Swaim adds to the hilarity with his brilliant sketches, giving another dimension to Phil's quest for love.

You can like Phil on Facebook or follow him on Twitter or take a look at his website.

My Review

As I was loading this into my e-reader and getting ready to read I was thinking to myself "What does go on in the minds of men?" My immediate answer to myself was "sex". After reading this book, what is my new answer "mostly sex". It's an age old problem, women want to know what men think, and men want to get into their pants...

I really enjoyed this book. It was witty, comical, and entertaining. There were quite a few times when I would laugh, then have to read the passage to my boyfriend so he didn't think I was starting to go crazy (why is she sitting there laughing to herself?) Some of my favorites include the commitment tests, Creepy, the conversation with the cats about the obsession with women, and the Twelve Nights of Christmas. (There were more, but if I just list the table of contents you would probably quit reading this review.)

Before reading Phil warned me in an e-mail "PLEASE make sure you have a liberal sense of humor and are not offended by coarse language or sexual content." I would say that was a fair warning. So take head... If you're easily offended you probably will not like this one. I found it to be highly offensive and hilarious. Not that I was offended by it, but I could see how it would offend others. I've found in my life that if I can find the humor in something I should laugh, because without laughter life is so boring. I think this book proves my point.

It was a very fast read, and had I not been so busy I probably could have finished it in two sittings. I think I'll have to pick up some of Phil's other books.

Just a Nice Guy

Monday, May 23, 2011

Review: The Secrets of Newberry by Victor McGlothin

Thanks to Anna at Hachette Book Group for letting me review this one.

About the Book

Two lifelong friends are about to discover the hard side of life in The Big Easy after a heinous crime is committed . . .

1950s New Orleans couldn't be sweeter for Ivory "Bones" Arcineaux and Hampton Bynote. Friends since meeting at an illegal gambling house outside Newberry, Louisiana, they indulge themselves with all the fine women, good food, and wild nights they can handle. All seems good in N'awlins-especially for Hampton, who plans to make a clean break from riotous living after falling for the woman of his dreams, classy Magnolia Holiday. But the love of a good woman may not be enough to pull Hampton from the brink of disaster when his pal Bones murders a white city councilman during a simple robbery gone wrong.

Now with the local police and FBI hot on their trails, Hampton and Bones must decide whether friendship is worth losing their freedom-and possibly their lives

For more information about The Secrets of Newberry please visit Hachette Book Group's website.

My Review

Wow, what a story. I couldn't put this one down, it was so intriguing. I really liked Hampton and wanted to see everything turn out ok for him, even though he kept getting himself into trouble.

The story was really well written. Hampton is looking for something more than life on a plantation can offer a black man in the 1950s. Things seem to be going fairly well for him and then he meet Bones. Bones becomes Hampton's ticket to the life he wants while at the same time being the one thing that can take Hampton's dreams from him.

The story moves pretty fast, and at times I felt a bit too fast. Some things just seemed to me that they needed to simmer a bit more before coming to conclusion. There was a lot that happened in the story though and I think that's part of why everything moved so fast. Had it been a slow story it either would have been too long to hold my attention or it would have been missing so many pieces.

It was a pretty good story and I really enjoyed it. I really didn't want to put it down because I wanted to see how Hampton was going to get him (and his family) out of the binds that they've gotten into. While things don't always go the way Hampton planned he was pretty quick on his feet and was able to at least put band-aids on the situations that arise.

I liked Hampton and really wanted to see good things for him. I also liked Magnolia (Hampton's love interest). But I think my favorite character was Pearl Lee, see just seemed to be so level headed. Although she does have some moments when her heart takes over and she throws that level-headedness out the door.

The Secrets of Newberry

Review: Death's Door: The Truth Behind Michigan's Largest Mass Murder by Steve Lehto

Thanks to my sister for letting me borrow this. And yes you would have enjoyed it had it not been required reading for school.

About the Book

On Christmas Eve 1913, more than six dozen people were crushed to death as they scrambled to flee the Italian Hall in Calumet, Mich. Someone had cried "Fire" at the top of the stairs that led to the meeting hall on the building's second floor. There was no fire. The entire event was over in a flash, but the tragedy would scar the psyche of the region for decades. Was the call of "fire" a tragic error or a calculated action designed to cause chaos?

In Death's Door: The Truth Behind Michigan's Largest Mass Murder, author and attorney Steve Lehto wades through the conflicting news reports, transcripts, and other documentation to set the record straight.

For more information about this book please visit Momentum Books' website.

My Review

This was a pretty interesting story. Having lived in Michigan my entire life I was surprised that I'd never heard of this incident before. It seems that with all the lore surrounding these murders that it would still be something that people would bring up, at least occasionally.

Since I've never heard of the incident at the Italian Hall before I do not know how well the information presented in this book meshes with popular opinion. However, Lehto does mentions many times where his findings do not support popular belief.

The book was very informational and I think it was fairly unbiased. However the only complaint I have is that once I got towards the end of the book I felt like I was just rereading the same information over and over again. It became somewhat monotonous. But it was still interesting, and I liked that it gave quite a bit of the back story to the Italian Hall Tragedy. I felt that having the back story gave the tragedy a bit more depth than if the book had just covered what happened the day of the tragedy.

While this was interesting I wouldn't say it read like fiction. For you to enjoy this one I think you'd really have to be interested in real-life stories. There were a lot of facts in the book, things that you wouldn't normally see in a fiction book. But overall I have to say it was worth the read.

Death's Door: The Truth Behind Michigan's Largest Mass Murder

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Review: The Glamour of Grammar by Roy Peter Clark

Thanks to Hachette Book Group for letting me review this one.

About the Book

Early in the history of English, the words "grammar" and "glamour" meant the same thing: the power to charm. Roy Peter Clark, author of Writing Tools, aims to put the glamour back in grammar with this fun, engaging alternative to stuffy instructionals. In this practical guide, readers will learn everything from the different parts of speech to why effective writers prefer concrete nouns and active verbs. THE GLAMOUR OF GRAMMAR gives readers all the tools they need to"live inside the language"--to take advantage of grammar to perfect their use of English, to instill meaning, and to charm through their writing. With this indispensable book, readers will come to see just how glamorous grammar can be.

For more information about The Glamour of Grammar please visit Hachette Book Group's website.

My Review

What I liked the most about this book is that it wasn't written like a grammar book. It was written more like a story that had grammar tips added into it. It was kind of like a copy of Writer's Inc. with a story behind it. And while I'd never get rid of my copy of Writer's Inc. I think this will make a nice addition to my grammar tools arsenal.

I have to admit that I'm not the best grammatical writer. I don't remember most of the rules I learned in school (frankly I didn't care to really remember them). So while I was reading this some of it seemed new to me. The greatest thing about this book is that it taught me something without making me realize I was being taught. Since I'm finishing up my degree, reading for learning isn't something I want to do with my spare time. After reading this I have to admit that I didn't get that feeling even once throughout the book. I think that was a great feat within itself, writing a book that is meant to teach something not feel like it was teaching anything at all.

I still don't remember all the rules that were in this one, but I think I have a better understanding of why some rules of grammar exist and why some are breakable. I'm sure this one will be quite worn out before I finally finish my degree. It's already helped me write a few papers.

The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English

Review: Lipstick in Afghanistan by Rboerta Gately

Thanks to Gallery Books for sending me a copy of this to review.

About the Book

Roberta Gately's lyrical and authentic debut novel—inspired by her own experiences as a nurse in third world war zones—is one woman's moving story of offering help and finding hope in the last place she expected.
Gripped by haunting magazine images of starving refugees, Elsa has dreamed of becoming a nurse since she was a teenager. Of leaving her humble working-class Boston neighborhood to help people whose lives are far more difficult than her own. No one in her family has ever escaped poverty, but Elsa has a secret weapon: a tube of lipstick she found in her older sister's bureau. Wearing it never fails to raise her spirits and cement her determination. With lipstick on, she can do anything—even travel alone to war-torn Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11.
But violent nights as an ER nurse in South Boston could not prepare Elsa for the devastation she witnesses at the small medical clinic she runs in Bamiyan. As she struggles to prove herself to the Afghan doctors and local villagers, she begins a forbidden romance with her only confidant, a charming Special Forces soldier. Then, a tube of lipstick she finds in the aftermath of a tragic bus bombing leads her to another life-changing friendship. In her neighbor Parween, Elsa finds a kindred spirit, fiery and generous. Together, the two women risk their lives to save friends and family from the worst excesses of the Taliban. But when the war waging around them threatens their own survival, Elsa discovers her only hope is to unveil the warrior within. Roberta Gately's raw, intimate novel is an unforgettable tribute to the power of friendship and a poignant reminder of the tragic cost of war.

My Review

I absolutely loved this book. I loved it so much that I can't think of the right words to describe it, at least not any that would do it justice. The story was so heartwarming, sad, happy, and touching. It was so sad and yet was filled with so much joy.

When I started reading it I didn't really expect the story that unfolded. At first I didn't understand the whole thing with the lipstick, but as the story progressed it was such a great way of tying the characters to each other.

The story jumps a between Elsa and Parween until their lives cross. The tragedy that follows each of these women seems almost unbearable, but yet they've pulled through it and made the most of their lives. Both women are so strong and give all they have to help others. Even putting their lives on the line to help those in need.

The romance that blooms throughout the book is such a great addition to the story. With so much devastation and sadness in the story adding the different romances kept the story enjoyable. Without the romance added in the story would have been so full of grief and sorrow that it would have almost been oppressive to read.

Overall I would say this is one of the best books I've ever read. Gately's writing is amazing. Her ability to tell a story like this is nothing short of amazing. It really makes you think. And it shows that just because people are surrounded by hatred, war, and fathom doesn't mean you have to fill your heart with those things. Happiness is what you make of it and these characters really made me realize that.

Lipstick in Afghanistan

Review: A Writer's Engagement by Robert Wacaster

Thank you to Robert for sending me his book to review.

About the Book

Robert and Katie have met and fallen in love. But that may have been the easy part. After promising to propose and marry her, Robert convinces Katie and her sister Jill to drive to Florida so he can meet Katie's parents. Her disapproving father, a retired New York Police Officer, may not even approve of their relationship, let alone a marriage. And along the way, Jill may have possibly met the man of her dreams. But she may be too shy to even talk to him. With some marriage counseling and family interference, can Robert and Katie actually survive A Writer's Engagement?

My Review

I really like Robert Wacaster's books. He does a great job with making the characters believable. I also like that in each of the books of his that I've read he's made himself a main character.

In this one Katie and Robert have now fallen in love (in A Writer's Love Story). This book picks right up where the last one left off. I really liked that. Sometimes I've found with series that some time passes between the stories, which makes me feel like I've missed out on something in the story. So I like that there's not a "break" in the stories.

I still liked the characters. Katie was still a drama queen, but now that I've read through two books with her she's kind of grown on me. Jill was still a great character. She does have some moments in this one where she's not the level-headed Jill from the first book, but I think that just makes her more human. And Robert is still Robert in this book. He's sarcastic, thoughtful, and in love. We also get to meet Jill and Katie's parents in this one. I loved Jim, their father. If my own father wasn't the greatest dad ever I'd have to pick Jim to be my father.

The story was a bit slower than the other two Wacaster books I've read, but it wasn't a detriment to the story at all. I think the things that were going on in this story needed the "time" to develop. If the story had been fast I think I would have felt like I was missing something.

I have to say that Robert Wacaster has become one of my favorite authors and I look forward to reading more of his books soon!

A Writer's Engagement

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Review: Put on Your Crown by Queen Latifah

Thanks to Hachette Book Group for letting me review this one.

About the Book

Modeled after Maria Shriver's Just Who Will You Be, Queen Latifah's goal with Put On Your Crown is to help young women build a strong sense of self-esteem. A US Dept. of Justice survey found that females ages 16-24 are more vulnerable to partner violence than any other group, almost triple the national average. Cases like Chris Brown's assault on pop star Rihanna showed an ugly side of adolescent life. However, Queen Latifah has always been a shining example of a woman happy with herself and unwilling to compromise to fit into the "hollywood ideal" of what a confident beautiful woman should look like. The result: She's one of the biggest A-list celebrities in Hollywood.

For more information about Put on Your Crown visit Hachette Book Group's website.

My Review

While I don't necessarily think of myself as a young woman anymore (which is who the book is geared towards) I do think that this book contains lessons that any woman, and even men, should learn. The basic ideas of the book are love yourself for who you are, take time to care for yourself first, and love the people around you for who they are.

I've always liked Queen Latifah. She's always seemed to me to be fairly grounded. I think my favorite thing about this book is that she proves to the reader that she's just a normal person. She makes mistakes, she's not perfect, and she realizes that. I think she's a great role model. (Side note I LOVE her fashion sense. I have for a while, but my love for her eye was solidified when I read How to Never Look Fat Again and it says something to the effect that if you're a plus size woman dress like Queen Latifah, she knows what she's doing.)

I've been going through some tough times mentally in the last year or so and reading this book did help me. While it's mostly stuff I already knew (like I said it's geared for young women, and I have left that arena a bit ago) it was information that I needed to remind myself. Somehow reading that "The Queen" was and had been going through some of the same things really helped me find the strength I needed to kick my own butt and get myself back on track again.

If you're having some self doubt, about anything in your life pick this one up. If you know a young woman pass it along. It can't hurt to try and teach a young woman the lessons we've all had to learn the hard way! It also could be beneficial for some young men. It's written for a woman, but I think the lessons are great for men or women.

Put on Your Crown: Life-Changing Moments on the Path to Queendom

Review: Audiobook Nora, Nora by Anne Rivers Siddons

A friend of mine picked this one up for me at a library book sale. Support you local library, they can really use the support and you can find some great gems.

About the Book

The young heroine of Nora, Nora comes from a long line of angst-ridden adolescents, stretching back through Holden Caulfield and Frankie Addams to Huckleberry Finn. Yet Peyton McKenzie certainly has good reason to be unhappy. Her household, in the small Georgia town of Lytton, is shadowed by the deaths of her mother and older brother. Her father, meanwhile, has withdrawn into mournful distraction: "When Buddy died in an accident in his air-force trainer, when Peyton was five, Frazier McKenzie closed up shop on his laughter, anger, small foolishnesses, and large passions. Now, at twelve, Peyton could remember no other father than the cooled and static one she had."

To withstand this mortuary atmosphere -- not to mention a touch of small-town claustrophobia -- Peyton has founded the Losers Club, where she and two other misfits share their daily doses of unhappiness. But everything changes when her cousin Nora shows up for a visit. This jaunty outsider is unlike anybody else in Kennedy-era Lytton, circa 1961:

The first thing you noticed about Nora Findlay, Peyton thought, was that she gave off heat, a kind of sheen, like a wild animal, except that hers was not a dangerous ferality, but an aura of sleekness and high spirits. There was a padding, hip-shot prowl to her walk, and she moved her body as if she were totally unconscious of it, as if its suppleness and sinew were something she had lived with all her life.

At first Nora's high spirits have a tonic effect, jogging both Peyton and her father out of their torpor. But her involvement in racial politics eventually rubs some of Lytton's citizens the wrong way -- and puts her young cousin's loyalty to the test. Anne Rivers Siddons handles the narrative with a deft touch for local color (right down to the perpetual "three Coca-Colas in an old red metal ice chest"). But her feeling for her cast of characters is even better, mixing just the right proportions of delicacy and Southern discomfort. --Anita Urquhart

My Review

I don't even know where to begin with this book. The writing was excellent, the story was so good, the themes in the story were so important (and so well handled), and it was very enjoyable.

I loved Nora. She just didn't care, but at the same time she cared so much. I know that sounds weird but I don't know how else to describe her. She stood up for herself, and prided herself on simply enjoying life however it's handed to you. Peyton on the other hand was such the opposite. And while Nora had a huge impact on Peyton's life and the changes in Peyton were drastic Peyton will always be Peyton.

The story touches on so many different issues. First it takes place in the south in the 60s, so there's the racial issues. Then Peyton is in a place in her life where she needs the guidance of a woman, but Nora is so unconventional it is question whether her ideals should have influence on Peyton. I can't really give any more because it would take away from the web of the story.

The narrator did an excellent job. While I tend to think it would have been really hard to have a bad narration for such an amazing book Cristine McMurdo-Wallis did a really good job. She had such a dramatic voice and since Nora was such a dramatic person it fit perfectly together. Cristine's voice was just perfect for this one. She was very pleasant to listen to. She also did a great job of staying in character so you always knew who was talking.

Nora, Nora

Review: Pearl A Life Too Short; A Death Too Long by Darlene Cox

Thanks to Darlene Cox for letting me review her book.

About the Book

When Pearl Sutton's brutally beaten body is found in Jacobs Gully by two young boys playing hooky that day, it uncovers secrets of the small town of Faircloth, Virginia. Was Pearl a "loose" woman? Or merely a flirt. While many men tried to tame her, it was only one who had--in her words--knocked her socks off. But, she was married to a man almost twenty years older than she. That didn't stop her, though. Every red-blooded man between the ages of 17 and 47 wanted to "get to first base" with her. Before Sheriff Atherton and his deputies could identify the person who killed Pearl, the body of another young woman is found. One homicide in a town as small as Faircloth was a plate-full, two was over-kill. This homicide will be more difficult to solve because of lack of identity of the victim. There are clues galore, but none that highlight the perpetrator. It's said that trouble comes in threes -- which it did when an assault occurred in the home of Deputy Aikens. The deputy himself is so traumatized that he has no memory of the event, and can't say what happened. His wife is missing. When she's finally found beside a remote highway early in the morning, by a motorist on his way to work, she's in what the doctors call "catatonic" state, Sheriff Atherton has to reach for another plate. And,he has no suspect in sight for any of the incidents. It is when secrets of the small town and its inhabitants come together, that all three incidents are solved.

My Review

I've actually read another of Darlene Cox's books before. The book I was privileged to read was Web of Deceit. After flipping through it real quick I thought I saw my name in the back of the book. So I look more closely and sure enough, there my name is in print! My review was printed in the back... I was so excited. I've worn the spine out of my copy showing it to people! But back to the review of Pearl.

I liked Web of Deceit, but it has a few things that didn't sit well with me. So when I got Pearl in the mail I wasn't sure what I should expect from it. When I finished I can honestly say I was very glad I read it. Cox's execution of certain elements really came together in this one.

There are a few mysteries going on in this one. Not only was I trying to figure out who killed Pearl, but I was also trying to figure out who Pearl was. After all knowing why Pearl was killed is as important and knowing who did it. As the story unfolds it becomes apparent that although everyone knew Pearl, there was very little that they really knew about her. Which I think makes the mystery that much more enjoyable.

I can say I figured out most (not all) of this one pretty early on. But there were so many twists and turns that I would never have been able to guess it all. And with the other mysteries that are laced into the story it really kept me on my toes.

I have to say that this was much better than Cox's first book. I really think she hit the nail on the head with this one. It was very enjoyable to read and all the elements came together to make a really interesting story.

Pearl: A Life Too Short; A Death Too Long

Review: Still the One by Robin Wells

Thanks to Anna at Hachette for letting me review this one.

About the Book

Robin Wells takes us back to Chartreuse, Louisiana, for a deeply moving story of forgiveness and second chances.


After Katie Charmaine's husband is killed in Iraq, all she has left is a closet full of his clothes, a few pictures, and fond memories. She not only lost her love, but her last chance to have the children she's always wanted. Until Zack Ferguson shows up in town . . . with the daughter Katie gave up for adoption nearly seventeen years ago.

Zack Ferguson has never forgotten Katie, or the one magical night they spent together. Seeing her again brings up a tidal wave of emotions: regret over the way he left her, anger at the secret she kept, and desire he hasn't felt in years. But he's in town for Gracie. Their daughter is sixteen, angry at the world, and-worst of all-pregnant. She needs the love of her two parents now more than ever. Can these three forgive the hurts of the past and open their hearts to each other?

For more information about Still the One please visit Hachette's website.

You can visit Robin Wells' website. Follow Robin Wells on Twitter.

My Review

I absolutely loved this story. Katie's inability to let go of her husband was so sad to me. I've lost family members before, but I think loosing someone who you've decided to spend your life with must be devastating. However, I think that at some point you do have to move on with your life. Zack and Gracie were just what Katie needed to move on. I got the sense that she was really ready to move on, but her heart was standing in the way. Which is all understandable.

I didn't really "relate" to any of the characters, as I've never been in any of their situations. But they were still great characters. Zack was so head strong and thought he would be able to come in "fix" what was wrong and go back to his normal life. But Gracie and Katie, unintentionally, set his life on a different path. And Gracie, wow, what a work of art she was. But again, with every thing going on in her life, how could she not be a mess emotionally.

As with most all romance stories I knew how it would end, but with this one having pegged the entire end of the story was not at all a disappointment. It was such a great ending. There weren't many loose ends with this one, but I would love to read a book that focuses on Gracie and the struggles that come with being a young mother. I think that would be a great addition to the story.

I don't give out 5-star ratings that often, and I'm not 100% sure what it was about this one that compelled me to dole one out this time: I think it was a mixture of great writing, a touching story, believable characters, and situations that most anyone could picture themselves in. Plus this book just left me feeling so warm and happy.

Still the One

Review Deadly Lies by Cynthia Eden

Thanks to Anna at Hachette for letting me review this one!

About the Book

She wants to hide the past
FBI Special Agent Samantha Kennedy is haunted by memories of the serial killer who abducted her. To keep the darkness at bay, she pretends to be a different, more confident woman. This Samantha doesn't fear every unknown face. So she throws caution to the wind and shares a night of unbridled passion with a handsome stranger.

He needs to uncover the truth
One night isn't enough for successful entrepreneur Max Ridgeway. He wants more of the sexy, smart, mysterious woman who slipped away before dawn. When they meet again, their attraction is undeniable-until his stepbrother goes missing, and Max realizes that Samantha isn't who she seems. But they must trust each other to trap a ring of bloodthirsty kidnappers before the nightmares that terrorize Sam become irrevocably real.

As a merciless criminal spins a web of . . .

For more information about Deadly Lies please visit Hachette Book's website.

You can also visit Cynthia's website, like Cynthia on Facebook, follow Cynthia Eden on Twitter, or friend Cynthia on Myspace.

My Review

I jumped right from Deadly Heat into this one. So it almost seemed as if it was just an "extension" to the other book. The story line is different, but the characters are from the first two in the series. So by the time I made it to this third book I was so familiar with them that it was as if I really knew who they were and how they operated.

This book follows Samantha, who has some serious problems in the first book. But she's dealing and is back to do what she can to help her team. I really connected with Samantha. She's very smart, and although she's a bit timid at times she can be strong when she needs to. She kind of reminds me of myself. While I like the rest of the characters in the series, and both of the previous books were really good I have to say that this is my favorite so far.

I've become kind of attached to these characters and I really hope that Eden keeps this series going. It can be a bit difficult to read, as (I've said before) Eden's ability to get inside the head of the killer is a bit creepy. But the writing is great and the story keeps you guessing. With this one I thought I had it figured out, boy was I wrong!

Deadly Lies

Review: Deadly Heat by Cynthia Eden

Thanks to Anna @ Hachette for letting me review this one.

About the Book

She wants revenge . . .
Six months after her lover died in an arsonist's blaze, firefighter Lora Spade calls in the FBI's elite Serial Services Division to track the elusive killer. When Special Agent Kenton Lake is lured into a violent inferno, Lora pulls him to safety and is stunned - not by the fire, but by her own searing attraction to Kent. For the first time in months, she longs for something other than vengeance.

He wants her . . .
Kenton's interest in Lora should be purely professional. But one fleeting kiss and he can't get her out of his mind. Her combination of strength and vulnerability makes him want to protect her, and that means solving this case - and fast. For even the passion igniting between them can't hide a terrifying truth: Lora is the next target in a murderer's sadistic, fiery game.

A vicious killer wants only . . .

For more information about Deadly Heat please visit Hachette Book's Website.

You can also visit Cynthia's website, like Cynthia on Facebook, follow Cynthia Eden on Twitter, or friend Cynthia on Myspace.

My Review

I was actually able to read the first in this series, Deadly Fear, and I really enjoyed it. So I was expecting quite a bit from this one. I have to say I was not disappointed. Cynthia has an ability to really get into the head of a killer. And while her ability is sometimes a bit creepy, it makes for an awesome story!

I like that this story follows one of the characters from the first story. Although Kenton wasn't the main character in the first book he did play a part and so he was a "familiar face" so to speak. But in addition to the "old" characters Eden does a great job of adding new characters to the mix.

The story, like Deadly Fear, is a bit on the disturbing side. But it's a great read. This one really keeps you guessing. I actually had guessed who it was early in the story, but then other things kept happening and I changed my guess a few times. I love when a book does that.

This was also a very fast read. The writing style and pace of the story are done so well that I got so caught up in the story it only took me two sittings to finish the whole thing.

Deadly Heat

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Review: Audiobook: The Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace

Thank you to Anna at Hachette for letting me review this one.

About the Book

The "dazzling, exhilarating" (San Francisco Chronicle) debut novel from the bestselling author of Infinite Jest, available for the first time as an audiobook.

At the center of The Broom of the System is the betwitching (and also bewildered) heroine, Lenore Stonecipher Beadsman. The year is 1990 and the place is a slightly altered Cleveland, Ohio, which sits on the edge of a suburban wasteland-the Great Ohio Desert. Lenore works as a switchboard attendant at a publishing firm, and in addition to her mind-numbing job, she has a few other problems. Her great-grandmother, a one-time student of Wittgenstein, has disappeared with twenty-five other inmates of the Shaker Heights Nursing Home. Her beau (and boss), editor-in-chief Rick Vigorous, is insanely jealous. And her cockatiel, Vlad the Impaler, has suddenly started spouting a mixture of psychobabble, Auden, and the King James Bible, which may propel him to stardom on a Christian fundamentalist television program.

Fiercely intelligent and entertaining, this debut novel from one of the most innovative writers of our generation explores the paradoxes of language, storytelling, and reality.

For more information about The Broom of the System please visit Hachette's website.

You can also "Like" David Foster Wallace on Facebook.

My Review

This was another odd one, and I really don't know what to say about it. It was pretty good, but at times it made no sense whatsoever.

Lenore seemed to be a bit dense at times. She just didn't seem to grasp what was going on most of the time. Her boyfriend Rick was teetering on crazy! Her therapist was nuts himself. Her brother and Wang Dang Lang were the most down-to-earth people in the story. And with one being a genius and the other with the name Wang Dang Lang... how down-to-earth can they really be?

I don't know if my lack of connection with this one was because it was an audiobook or if it was because it was just a little to out there for me. I understood the basic theme to the book, but even with the "broom" sweeping the system the story was just plain odd. The characters were really not believable, and the short stories interlaced throughout were distracting. They did serve a purpose in giving insight into how Rick was thinking/feeling, but I think it could have been done much more effectively.

The narrator was ok in this one. A few of the voices he did were off as to how I had them in my head, but he wasn't monotonous to listen to and he did use voices to help differentiate who was talking.

The Broom of the System: A Novel

Review: ebook The Last Key by Rob Steiner

I won an ebook copy of this title from Library Thing.

About the Book

Raven Byrne is a novice dahkshari warrior-priest about to complete his training when his mentor, Jelan Drummond, is killed by a mad war hero named Thallan Brael. With the death of his mentor, it falls to Raven to to stop Brael from using an ancient, destructive magic called the Reaping Key to avenge the deaths of his family and commit genocide against an innocent nation.

My Review

This was a pretty good book. Although I did get confused a few times keeping all the characters and their roles straight I did enjoy this one. It was pretty full of action and it was beautifully written. The scenes were so vivid in my mind while I was reading this.

I really liked the story. It was obviously a fantasy but it was believable. It wasn't way out there like some fantasy stories I've read. I didn't have trouble picturing the beasts and such that were in the story. It was written very well.

I loved the characters. Raven was a great hero, even though he didn't always believe in himself and he took a risk or two, he always had everyone's best interests at heart and really believed in his mission. Raven was great but I loved Seala. She was a bit hard-headed, but she was strong and reasonable (as the story progressed). I liked the bit of a love story that was developing also. It added to the story and I think it would have been lacking without that little detail.

Overall this was a pretty good story. I liked the writing and would love to read something by Steiner in the future.

Review: No Hope for Gomez! by Graham Parke

I had been wanting to read this one for a while so I went ahead and bought this one for myself.

About the Book

It's the age-old tale:
Boy meets girl.
Boy stalks girl.
Girl already has a stalker.
Boy becomes her stalker-stalker.

We've seen it all before, many times, but this time it's different. If only slightly. When Gomez Porter becomes a test subject in an experimental drug trial, he is asked to keep track of any strange experiences through a blog. What Gomez isn't ready for, is so many of his experiences suddenly seeming strange; the antiques dealer trying to buy his old tax papers, his neighbor boiling salamanders on his balcony at midnight, the super sexy lab assistant who falls for him but is unable to express herself in terms outside the realm of science. But when one of the trial participants turns up dead and another goes missing, Gomez begins to fear for his life. No longer sure who he can trust and which of his experiences are real and which merely drug induced illusions, he decides it%u2019s time to go underground and work out a devious plan.

Now, years later, his blogs have been recovered from a defunct server. For the first time we can find out firsthand what happened to Gomez as he takes us on a wild ride of discovery.

For more information about No Hope for Gomez! please visit Graham Parke's website.

My Review

I was intrigued by this book from the first time I'd heard of it. It sounded as if it would be an interesting read to say the least. It was interesting, but it was also weird. I've read this twice now because I felt like I'd lost something along the way. And while the second reading did help me figure it out a little more I was still kind of confused with the whole thing.

Gomez was an odd character. His downstairs neighbor was odd, the employee that worked for him at the antiques store was odd, the guy that was shopping at the store was odd. His doctor/girlfriend was the most "normal" person in the book, and even she was a bit odd at times.

The things that happen in Gomez's life aren't really all that odd, but the way in which he deals with them is odd. Falling in love with the researcher, perfectly normal. Becoming her stalker stalker, odd... I can't really give anymore examples without giving some of the story away.

The writing was humorous, I laughed quite a few times throughout the book. And like I said the things that happened to Gomez weren't all that abnormal, but the way he deals with life was a bit strange. It was an entertaining read, and it didn't take me long to read it. I actually read it twice within a few days.

No Hope for Gomez!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Review: Journey on the Estrada Real by Glenn Cheney

Thank you to the author Glenn for letting me review this book.

About the Book

Glenn Cheney began a love affair with Brazil when he impulsively hitch-hiked there from Connecticut in 1974. Less than a decade later, disillusioned with the hectic New York lifestyle, he and his wife bought a rural banana farm in the state of Minas Gerais, the region through which the Estrada Real road winds its mountainous way. Cheney's familiarity with the area adds richness and depth to this travelogue, the compelling story of his journey on foot through one of the most remote areas of Brazil. The author makes his way through rural but populated areas, writing about people and an archaic way of life almost forgotten by the rest of the world. Throughout his journey, he is constantly aware of the fragility of the way of life he documents, and the extent to which the region lies under the threat of globalization. The personal connections he makes with the people of Minas Gerais are invaluable for our understanding of how these mountain people live; so far at least, untouched by the modern world.

My Review

The other book that I read of Cheney's was a historical book about the Pilgrims, and while I did enjoy that one I wasn't quite sure of what to expect with this book. This is more of an autobiography of his life, as well as the real story of road in South America.

The book started out a little slow, but the further along the Estrada Real we were taken the more interesting the story of this road becomes. The people he meets while walking each have such great stories. They're not amazing people, they're not rich and famous, they're just real people living the lives that they were given. While some of the people have high hopes, they aren't any different than anyone else. Everyone had dreams right?

While I don't know that I would ever try and tackle the feat that Cheney did I would at some point in my life like to see some of the places that Cheney visited on his journey. Some of the cities seem so vibrant and some of the wilderness was described so beautifully. By the time Cheney makes it to the end of his journey I was so enthralled with the journey that I didn't want it to end. I could feel the happiness, tiredness, and humbleness that Cheney experienced while on his journey.

When Cheney first described some of the places he was staying I thought to myself "I could never stay someplace like that". But the more he travels and the more commonplace these accommodations become I realized that for these people this is what they know. I can't imagine not having electricity and my luxuries and these people can't imagine having them. I was truly humbled by the lives of these people and by the fact that they have stuck to their way of life despite the fact that the whole world is changing around them.


Wild Legacy by Fern Cook

Thanks to the author for letting me review her book.

About the Book

In book III, Dan Tucker's passion for the wildlife runs through the veins of his offspring, but 'his curse' also courses through the veins of his child. Only he knows why his child is different from all the other children.

Like every parent, Dan is challenged with teaching his child how to fit into this world. In Dan's case the dilemma is taken up a notch.

But like every new soul that arrives on this planet, they must make their own way, no one else can do it for them.

For more information about Wild Legacy please visit Fern Cook's website.

My Review

This is the third in the Wild Series. I've had the fortune of reading the first two in the series and again had high hopes for this one. I wasn't disappointed, I just wished for a little more.

This story still follows Dan for a bit, but the majority of the story focuses on Dan's daughter Lizzy. Dan had hidden the fact that he is a werewolf from everyone, including his wife. So when Dan's twins are born he is worried to see if his curse is passed along to them. Lizzy happens to the be one afflicted. And despite Dan's guidance Lizzy is a teenager, and one with a special ability, so she learns about her abilities in her own way.

I really like Dan and his wife from the first two books. I just wasn't that crazy about Lizzy. The story was good and it kept me reading, but I really just didn't like Lizzy. She's hard-headed and strong-willed, which does lead to some good story lines, however her stubbornness to not see things in a different way made her some one I loved to loathe. I didn't hate her, but there was something about her that just didn't sit well with me. I felt she means well, but didn't agree with her means.

I did however like her boyfriend. Stephen is very level-headed and tries to keep Lizzy on the "straight-and-narrow". His family, who Lizzy gets to know very well were all fairly level-headed and at times pose a bit of a problem for Lizzy and her plans.

While I did like the story and the writing was good I would say this is not my favorite from the series. I just didn't care too much for Lizzy, although she did bring quite a bit of "drama" to the story. She just wasn't for me.

Wild Legacy: Book III of the Wild Series (Volume 3)

Review: Notorious Pleasures by Elizabeth Hoyt

Thanks to Anna at Hachette for letting me review this title.

About the book

Their lives were perfect . . .
Lady Hero Batten, the beautiful sister of the Duke of Wakefield, has everything a woman could want, including the perfect fiancé. True, the Marquis of Mandeville is a trifle dull and has no sense of humor, but that doesn't bother Hero. Until she meets his notorious brother . . .

Until they met each other.
Griffin Remmington, Lord Reading, is far from perfect - and he likes it that way. How he spends his days is a mystery, but all of London knows he engages in the worst sorts of drunken revelry at night. Hero takes an instant dislike to him, and Griffin thinks that Hero, with her charities and faultless manners, is much too impeccable for society, let alone his brother. Yet their near-constant battle of wits soon sparks desire - desire that causes their carefully constructed worlds to come tumbling down. As Hero's wedding nears, and Griffin's enemies lay plans to end their dreams forever, can two imperfect people find perfect true love?

For more information about Notorious Pleasures please visit Hachette's website.

You can also follow Elizabeth Hoyt on Twitter, "Like" her on Facebook, or visit her website.

My Review

Notorious Pleasures is the second in the Maiden Lane series. I was fortunate enough to have been able to read Wicked Intentions, the first in the series. I really liked Wicked Intentions so I have very high expectations for Notorious Pleasures.

Book two follows Lady Hero and the Home for Unfortunate Infants and Foundling Children. But Hero is the main character in this book. The book starts just about where the last book left off. Hero is due to marry the Duke of Wakefield, but she has her secrets, like the foundling home. And then one big secret comes to the forefront of the story. Hero has fallen in love, and not with her fiance...

I liked Hero and was glad to see her as the tie-in from the first book. She was so strong, but yet she knew her place in society and tried to ensure she stayed within the confines of that place. Although she is not always as proper as she appears to be. Her secret of helping with the Foundling home is one that she's kept from all of the men in her life, except one. Then when her romance with Reading becomes more than just flirtatious her position in society is very much in danger.

This, much like the first book, was such an engaging read. Hoyt has a great command of language and makes the book so enjoyable. After now reading two of Hoyt's books I would imagine she could write a book about paint drying and make it interesting. So needless to say I will be waiting for book three in the series, which is due out later this year.

Notorious Pleasures (Maiden Lane)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Blog Tour & Review: How Sweet It Is by Sophie Gunn

Thanks to Anna at Hachette for letting me participate in this blog tour.

About the Book

Single mom Lizzie Bea Carpenter learned long ago that no white knight was coming to save her. A hardworking waitress at the local diner, she's raising her daughter to be like the independent women in her "Enemy Club"--high school rivals turned best friends, promising to always tell each other the whole truth and nothing but!

Yet part of Lizzie wishes she did have a man's help, just for small stuff, like fixing up the house. Her fairy godmother must have been listening, because Dante "Tay" Giovanni soon appears. He's sexy, kind, and offering assistance--no strings attached.

Slowly, steadily, Lizzie's heart opens. But the grip of the past is fierce, and nothing in life is ever really free. Tay has his own tragedies to overcome, but if he can, he'll fix more than Lizzie's home. He'll show her just how sweet it is to be loved by him.

You can get more information about How Sweet It Is by visiting Sophie's website.

Or you can get more info on Hachette's website.

You can also Like Sophie on Facebook.

My Review

This was a very "cute" book. I don't know how else to describe it. It wasn't cheesy or anything, but it was a really nice book to read.

Lizzie and Paige are living like most mothers and daughters do. They love each other and are making their way, but there's a bit of a strain. And while I'd commit most of their issues to the fact that Paige is a teenager there's something more to the strain in their relationship. It makes me remember all the things I went through with my parents when I was a teenager... And how I always thought the world was going to end when I didn't get my way (if only someone would have told me, right? LOL)

Lizzie ends up falling in love with Tay, all the while trying to keep the peace with her daughter. So her love interest doesn't show up at the most opportune of times, but is love ever easy??? And it's not as if Tay is in the market either. He's dealing with his own issues and is scared of falling in love.

This was a pretty good story. It was so sweet, and even though Lizzie didn't want to fall in love with Tay I was really rooting for them. I really liked Lizzie, and her "Enemy Club" seems like it will be a great tie for more stories in the future. They all seem to be characters that could support their own stories. Lizzie was so down to earth, and I think she made a good introductory character for the rest of the series.

Gunn's writing was so easy to read. It flowed so smoothly, and even though there were a few different characters I was never really confused as to who they were and how they tied to the overall story.

How Sweet It is