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.

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