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Archive for May, 2016

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Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia by Jenny Torres Sanchez

(Excerpt from Goodreads)  Frenchie Garcia can’t come to grips with the death of Andy Cooper. Her friends didn’t know she had a crush him. And they don’t know she was the last person with him before he committed suicide. But Frenchie’s biggest concern is how she blindly helped him die that night.

Frenchie’s already insane obsession with death and Emily Dickinson won’t help her understand the role she played during Andy’s “one night of adventure.” But when she meets Colin, she may have found the perfect opportunity to recreate that night. While exploring the emotional depth of loss and transition to adulthood, Sanchez’s sharp humor and clever observations bring forth a richly developed voice.

Book

My Review

5 Stars

We start this story with Frenchie grieving about a boy down the street that committed suicide. No one really knows much about her and what her connection to Andy was. Frenchie is in a dark place with her grief. But Colin sees through her dark demeanor and starts spending more time with her. Frenchie starts opening up to Colin and he finds out that Frenchie has had a crush on Andy for years and that she was the last person with him on the night that he committed suicide.

Frenchie reminds me of myself when I was in high school. She is artistic, dark, and sarcastic and I just loved her. Here she is suffering with grief from Andy’s death and not knowing what she can do to get through it. Then there is Colin, he sees through this shell that Frenchie has created and wants to be with her. At the same time we learn about what Frenchie and Andy did on his last night as she starts to reveal it to Colin.

This is a great story for both young adults and adults. I loved how Frenchie worked through her grief. I couldn’t help love Frenchie and I think she has left a part of her in me. Make sure to get a copy of this book, you will not be disappointed.

To purchase Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie make sure to check out Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads and Jenny Torres Sanchez’s website.

I received Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia for free, a long time ago, in exchange for an honest review.

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Cross and Burn

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Cross and Burn (Tony Hill & Carol Jordan – 8) by Val McDermid

(Excerpt from Goodreads) Internationally best-selling crime writer Val McDermid’s work speaks for itself: her books have sold millions of copies worldwide, won numerous accolades, and attracted a devoted following of readers around the globe. Her latest, Cross and Burn , picks up where The Retribution left off: following the best crime-fighting team in the UK– clinical psychologist Tony Hill and police detective Carol Jordan– who when we last saw them were barely speaking, and whose relationship will now be challenged even further.

Guilt and grief have driven a wedge between long time crime-fighting partners psychologist Tony Hill and ex-DCI Carol Jordan. But just because they’re not talking doesn’t mean the killing stops.

Someone is killing women. Women who bear an unsettling resemblance to Carol Jordan. And when the evidence begins to point in a disturbing direction, thinking the unthinkable seems the only possible answer. Cornered by events, Tony and Carol are forced to fight for themselves and each other as never before.

An edge-of-your-seat page-turner from one of the best crime writers we have, Cross and Burn is a chilling, unforgettable read.

Book

My Review

3 stars

Tony Hill and Carol Jordan are back. After their last case that left Carol with the death of her brother and sister in law, Carol has retired. She blames Tony for their deaths and he does too. Then a mother is reported missing and a woman is found murdered that looks like Carol and Tony finds himself being blamed. Paula McIntyre finds herself at a loss and calls Carol in to help her find the proof that Tony is the killer. Carol just knows that Tony wouldn’t be involved and although she doesn’t want to have anything to do with him she steps in to find the real killer.

It’s clear that Tony and Carol’s relationship has fallen apart. Both of them are distant and lonely and want to be together yet they don’t. But with this new killer and Tony being blamed as the killer, Carol can’t just sit back and do nothing. This book is more about them trying to work around their split. I admit that I have not read any other books in this series. But I recommend that you read the other books so you can understand more about Carol and Tony’s relationship.

As for the mystery, I was a little disappointed. I didn’t see a lot of police discovery for the clues. It was more the killer explaining why he did what he did. It kind of ruins the challenge of reading the story and trying to guess what is going on. I also hate to say this but the first part of the book bored me more with the drama between Tony and Carol. There was a turning point and then things pick up but I was about ready to put the book down.

I think if you had read the rest of this series you would probably like this book more than me. But as a stand-alone story I was not really into it.

To purchase Cross and Burn make sure to check out Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and Val McDermid’s website.

I received Cross and Burn for free from the publisher, a long time ago, in exchange for an honest review.

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The Crow of Connemara by Stephen Leigh

(Excerpt from Goodreads) The Crow of Connemara is a contemporary Celtic fantasy set primarily in Ireland.  Picking up threads from ancient Irish mythology and folktales, this story is fantasy, drama, and tragic romance all at once, a tale caught in the dark places where the world of ancient myth intersects our own, where old ways and old beliefs struggle not to be overwhelmed by the modern world.

Colin Doyle is young Irish-American musician from Chicago, whose interest is traditional Irish music.  Maeve Gallagher is an Oileánach, an “Islander” from Ireland’s west coast. Islanders are outcasts treated with suspicion by the locals, who think them responsible for wild and strange happenings in the area. Colin soon discovers that he’s connected to Maeve in ways he never could have imagined.

Book

My Review

4 Stars

Colin Doyle wants nothing more than to play his Celtic music and visit Ireland. His family try to guide him into better choices but he finally decides to follow his dreams and go to Ireland. While there, he meets Maeve Gallagher. But Colin finds the locals don’t like Maeve or her friends, Oileanach’s they are called, that live on a local island. Colin throws the warnings to the wind and follow Maeve. But Maeve has a big secret, she is fae and as her relationship with Colin grows it’s going to end in tragedy.

This is a great story. I loved the imagery. Colin loves Ireland and after trying to do what his parents tell him finally decides to follow his heart. I enjoyed all the mythology of Ireland and finding out more about the fae as we learn more about Maeve. I was hoping for a happy ending but this is a relationship that won’t work out. I did feel bad for Maeve because of this.

Over all this is a good story and I would recommend it for those that like romance with some Irish mythology added in.

To purchase The Crow of Connemara make sure to check out Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and Stephen Leigh’s website.

I received The Crow of Connemara for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Surviving Alzheimer’s With Friends, Facebook, and a Really Big Glass of Wine:

A caregiver’s guide to love, humor, patience, confusion, anger, and wine

With unfiltered observations and sometimes dark humor, author Dayna Steele chronicled her mother’s journey with Alzheimer’s on Facebook. This collection of Alzheimer’s updates posted on the social media network includes biting humor and raw emotion as Dayna carries you from the diagnosis to the inevitable end. Also included are sections from a neurologist, Long Term Care insurance specialist, other caregivers, documents expert, elder care attorney, and an assisted living advisor. This is a journey way too many of us are going to experience in one way or another. If you have to experience Alzheimer’s and chances are you will – do it like Dayna with love, wit, and wine.

I would normally never read a book about Alzheimer’s or click LIKE on a Facebook post about someone’s declining mother. Dayna Steele sneaked past my defenses the same way that she dealt with her own misery – with humor – by making me laugh, she managed to break my heart. –Lisa Gray, Houston Chronicle Gray Matters

These observations are so gripping and so graphic. –a Facebook comment

This book is going to be of tremendous help to so many. –Dr. Roy Goldberg, Geriatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Dayne Steele

Dayna Steele is a radio and television personality, entrepreneur, author and keynote speaker. Dayna Frances Nicholson was born on August 11, 1959, in Houston, Texas, to William and Frances Nicholson. She graduated early from Dulles High School at 16 and enrolled in Texas A&M University to study pre-med before changing her major to theater.

Author Interview

Dayna Steele

Author of Surviving Alzheimer’s With Friends, Facebook, and A Really Big Glass of Wine

  1. The book chronicles your mother’s illness through your Facebook posts. Did you include every post in the book? What was the selection process like?
    My co-author Heather Rossiello kept a database of every single post and every comment – there were literally thousands of comments on some posts. We went through them all after I lost Mom and tried to keep only the posts and comments that 1) Included informative information for caregivers 2) made us laugh out loud, and, 3) made us think.
  1. After each post you include comments that your community left. Did you pick those or did you have other people help you?
    We went through every comment, sometimes two or three times, to make sure we adhered to our own guidelines above. This book wasn’t a memoir so much as a help tool for others in the future. 
  2. What was your relationship with Alzheimer’s disease before your mother’s diagnosis? Did you have any preconceptions about the illness before you started this journey with her?
    I like to think I am a fairly well educated and informed person. I knew what Alzheimer’s was and I knew it was called “The Long Goodbye.” Then the diagnosis – and I realized I had no idea how stressful, sad, irritating, confusing, etc this disease is. No one tells you the really rough stuff like the possible violence or cleaning up your own mother’s feces or any number of things like this. You also don’t realize how all encompassing it becomes physically and mentally until you actually have to live it.
  3. How did the support of your Facebook community impact you through this hard time?
    Facebook became my support group. My Facebook community gave me ideas, information, suggestions and laughter and love. And, once I wrote a particularly hard post, I would let go of the negative emotions. It was very cathartic to write and share.
  4. When did you get the idea to turn your Facebook posts into a book?
    Literally when so many people started commenting. “I hope you put this in a book.” In fact, the first couple of pages in the book are those words of encouragement from so many followers.
  5. How has your Facebook and local community supported you through the creation of the book?
    Just constantly encouraging me to compile it all in a book. And giving me permission to laugh and cry and get mad – over and over and over. 
  6. How did you decide what materials to include in the second half of the book?
    The second half of the book is all resources I wish I had at the beginning. There are sections written by people who helped me along the way: a neurologist, document expert, Long Term Care insurance rep, an assisted living advisor and more. I also included a list of questions everyone should ask their loved ones and a section where caregivers and their caregivers talk about what it is like on that side.
  1. You coauthored the book with Heather Rossiello. What was her role in the book’s process?
    I found I could not live it and relive it at the same time – it was too daunting and depressing. Heather came in about half way through the journey for a totally unrelated reason – she had some copies of my In the Classroom book she wanted signed for teachers and we met for coffee. She asked what I was working on and I told her about the book idea and my challenges with getting it done. She asked if she could take a look and see what could be done – and then did it! (book link – http://www.amazon.com/Classroom-Success-educate-inspire-teachers/dp/1508836221/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8)
  2. What are you hoping readers will get out of Surviving Alzheimer’s?
    Someone once said to me there isn’t a users’ manual on what to do or what is going to happen when you get this diagnosis. I hope this book does become the manual for what to do and how to do it for caregivers everywhere.
  3. You’ve been named the spokesperson for Caring.com. How do you hope to aid those dealing with Alzheimer’s in this role? *Please note it is Caring.com not Care.com
    As the Chief Caring Expert for Caring.com, I hope to be able to guide others to this great resource I wish I had known about early on. Not only would I have been able to read the reviews and make a better informed decision on where to put mom but I also would have had access to so much content for caregivers. There is an answer to just about every question you may have as well as support groups for Alzheimer’s and even more on the site. And, it’s free. Alzheimer’s is a very expensive disease and when you can find any sort of fee help, that’s the best.

Purchase Links

Amazon     Barnes and Noble     Goodreads

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Stillwell: A Haunting on Long Island by Michael Phillip Cash

(Excerpt from Goodreads) Paul Russo’s wife just died. While trying to get his family’s life back in order, Paul is being tormented by a demon who is holding his wife’s spirit hostage on the other side. His fate is intertwined with an old haunted mansion on the north shore of Long Island called Stillwell Manor. Paul must find clues dating back hundreds of years to set his wife’s soul free.

Book

My Review

5 stars

Paul Russo’s wife has just died after trying all kinds of drugs to fight her brain tumor. And although it has only been one week since her passing, Paul is not handling it very well. Because of this and the debt, he returns to work. Paul is asked to help sell an estate, Stillwell manor that he remembers from his childhood.

Then Stella, the youngest of his children says that she sees the ghost of her mother, Paul just thinks that the child is coping. When he first stars seeing Allison, he figures it is just working through the grief. But Allison is in the hands of a demon. It seems that the original owner of Stillwell manor is in the same position and it is up to Paul to save both of them.

This is a great story. The main part is Paul’s love for Allison. Her death has hit him particularly hard but he is trying to keep everything together, especially for the kids. And the paranormal events are just like the ones people generally report which made this really creepy for me. I love how Michael Phillip Cash can write a love story that gives you the creeps.

I love all of Michael Phillip Cash’s books and strongly recommend everyone check them out. You will not be disappointed.

To purchase Stillwell make sure to check out Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and Michael Phillip Cash’s website.

I received Stillwell a long time ago for free in exchange for an honest review.

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Fun & Games

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Fun & Games by David Michael Slater

(Excerpt from Goodreads) The 1980’s: it’s the time of Dungeons & Dragons, banana clips, and Atari. Jonathan Schwartz is growing up in a family like no other. His sisters, Nadia, the dark genius, and Olivia, the gorgeous tease and temptress, manipulate Jon and his friends for their own entertainment. And his Holocaust survivor grandparents? Their coping techniques are beyond embarrassing. A disastrous visit to Jon’s class by his grandmother unhinges his famous father, setting off a chain of events that threatens to send the dysfunctional Schwartz clan up in flames once and for all. Fun & Games is a heartbreaking and hilarious story of faith, family secrets, betrayal, and loss-but it’s also a tale of friendship, love, and side-splitting shenanigans.

Book

My Review

4 stars

On the surface, this is a story about Jonathan Schwartz and growing up in the 80’s. We start with him playing Dungeons & Dragons with his friends while working on a Purity Test. We follow along as Jon deals with daily issues of growing up, getting into trouble with his friends, and going through High School. He is also part of an interesting family. His grandparents survived the Nazi Occupation and have their own way of coping. His father doesn’t believe in Good. And simply family outings have so much more meaning and heartbreak than what is seen on the surface. When Jon goes to college there is a tragedy that changes everything and lets him reflect on his past.

This was an interesting story. I grew up in the 80’s and although I didn’t really participate in much Dungeons & Dragons I definitely remember it. I laughed at some of the stuff Jon and his friends get into. But at the same time I felt for him and his family and the things they were going through. Not everything is what it looks like on the surface and Jon’s family is the best example. Even when they go on an adventure I couldn’t help feeling sorry for the grandmother.

But the way the book was put together seemed a little disjointed. I understand in different settings, at different times, and with different events things change. Unfortunately this made the book feel choppy moving from on this to another. I think it would have been better if the book would have been broken up.

Having said that, Fun & Games is a pretty good book. I did enjoy it and sure remembered growing up and the stuff I got into as a kid.

To purchase Fun & Games make sure to check out Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads and David Michael Slater’s website.

I received Fun & Games for free in exchange for an honest review.

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Splinters (The Prospero Chronicles – 1) by FJR Titchell and Matt Carter

 (Excerpt from Goodreads) Under ordinary circumstances, Ben and Mina would never have had reason to speak to each other; he’s an easy-going people person with a healthy skepticism about the paranormal, and she’s a dangerously obsessive monster-hunter with a crippling fear of betrayal. But the small town of Prospero, California, has no ordinary circumstances to offer. In order to uncover a plot set by the seemingly innocent but definitely shapeshifting monsters-that-look-like-friends-family-and-neighbors, the two stark opposites must both find ways to put aside their differences and learn to trust each other.

Book

My Review

5 stars

Ben has returned to Prospero, CA to attend the funeral of a friend, Haley. But while there she is discovered. But things are not as they seem. Odd ball Mina has been fighting the Splinters for years and knows Haley is a Splinter. A Splinter is a centipede like alien that attached itself to humans or animals and wants to take over Earth. Mina knows that Ben is new to this attack and tries to recruit him to the fight. Unfortunately, because of her fighting the Splinter, Mina is socially awkward, has no friends, and has a hard time trying to tell Ben about the Splinters. There is a lot more to Prospero, CA than meets the eye.

I was curious to figure out what kind of monsters Ben and Mina were going to fight. But when I learned about the Splinters I instantly though of a combination of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Host. Ben is returning to Prospero and has no idea what he is getting into and how can he just believe the crazy girl that is telling him about an alien invasion. And Mina, she is such a strong person, ignoring what others call her just to keep fighting.

I really liked all the references to other horror movies too. It is the perfect nod to all of the things that go bump in the night. I had a hard time putting this book down. Thankfully I also have book two, Shards on hand so I can start reading right away.

To purchase Splinters make sure to check out Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, FJR Titchell’s website and Matt Carter’s website.

I received Splinters for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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The True Tales of Baker and Taylor: The Library Cats Who Left Their Pawprints on a Small Town…and the World by Jan Louch and Risa Rogak

(Excerpt from Goodreads) It all started with mice in the library.

Assistant librarian Jan Louch and a coworker decided that what the library needed was a cat. Or, even better, two cats. Soon, they found a pair of Scottish Folds who were perfect for the job. Jan named them Baker and Taylor, and they took up residence in the library.

But these cats were much more than mousers. Visitors to the library fell in love with Baker and Taylor and their antics just as Jan had. And then, after Jan let the cats be photographed for a poster, they became feline celebrities. Children from across the country wrote them letters, fans traveled from far and wide to meet them, and they became the most famous library cats in the world.

In The True Tails of Baker and Taylor, Jan Louch looks back and tells the remarkable story of these two marvelous cats and the people—readers, librarians, and cat lovers of all ages—who came together around them.

Book

My Review

5 stars

This is a memoir of Jan Louch that includes the story of Baker and Taylor. Jan was a librarian at the Douglas County Library in Minden, NV. Jan is a book and cat lover from a young age and spent a lot of time with both books and animals. When she became a librarian, you could tell that it was a dream come true for her and when they needed a couple cats to keep the mouse highway down she was in heaven.

I loved reading along about Jan and the different events that happened. If course you can’t help but love the stories of Baker and Taylor, especially when their vet has a chapter. I am a huge book and cat fan so I couldn’t pass up a story of two famous kitties.

I am a transplant to Reno about 15 years ago and have never heard anything about the Douglas County Library. I love reading about the local history. I admit that I’m a bit young to remember Baker and Taylor from their campaigns but it was a delight reading about the truth in this story.

This is the purrfect book for cat and book lovers. I also liked it for the local history of Minden, NV. This is one book that you really need to read.

To purchase The True Tales of Baker and Taylor make sure to visit Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and Lisa Rogak’s website.

I received the True Tales of Baker and Taylor for free from the author Lisa Rogak in exchange for an honest review.

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The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah

(Excerpt from Goodreads) He has all kinds of everyday joy in his life — he’s young, he’s in love, he has friends who promise to stand by him if life ever goes wrong.

Then one day, life does go wrong.

He makes a mistake, and it’s big and unforgiveable. Now time is running out, and his life is falling apart. But he’s going to put it back together again. His own way.

This is a story about how far love must stretch to gather a life in pieces — and about how a strong friendship never dies.

Book

My Review

4 stars

Ivo is 40 years old and in hospice. He has diabetes but when he was younger he didn’t take care of himself. No one comes to visit him and he is clearly depressed. But a hospice nurse, Sheila challenges him with the A to Z game to keep him sharp. He is to think of a body part then a memory. Follow along as Ivo remembers good times and bad, loses, and love.

This is a great story. At times it is sad as Ivo remembers the loss of his father to cancer and how others brought him sorrow. But then there are the good times, like his love of Mia. I loved Sheila, she is the perfect nurse. She knows when to draw Ivo out and when to let him thing and be quiet.

Although this story is bittersweet as we see Ivo remember the different events in his life. It is a good story and one that I think many will like.

To purchase The A to Z of You and Me make sure to visit Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and James Hannah’s website.

I received The A to Z of You and Me for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Sci-Fi / Alternative History
Date Published: January 2016

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Commander Orlando Iron Wolf is aboard the International Space Station when a blinking light on his computer console alerts him to a fast moving comet headed for a collision with planet Earth.
With no way to stop the impending doomsday, the world descends into panic and anarchy. Massive transport ships are built to colonize the moon, and evacuation of a chosen few begins.
After a shuttle mission to study the approaching comet goes awry, Wolf is forced into cryogenic deep sleep, and the onboard computer assumes control of the ship.
Wolf awakens 50,000 years later to a wildly different earth. Endowed with incredible strength, he finds himself caught in a war between primitive tribes, and his survival depends on Syn, an advanced computer intelligence who has fallen in love with him.
Will Wolf be able to help restore Earth to its past glory or is civilization doomed to fail?
About the Author
Tim Allen is a twenty seven year veteran Fire Captain for the City of Peoria (Illinois) Fire Department. His writing career began when he had to write a report about a fire incident and he was told to be more descriptive. In his next report, he was more descriptive and reflected about what he had seen and felt during the two minutes of hell. His superiors found no humor in this report and disciplined him. Once several other fire fighters read the report, they were intrigued with his writing and wanted to read more stories.
Allen caught the writing bug. He loves writing science fiction, but currently is working on a murder mystery entitled, “Tethered.” With several novels in development, spanning everything from planetary colonization to aliens to time travel, he is also considering writing a few horror stories based on actual past events that have been well documented.
Contact Links
Purchase Links
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