Saturday, June 30, 2012

Erin's Review of 101, by Margaret Chatwin


My rating: didn't like it it was ok liked it really liked it (my current rating) it was amazing
How do you get desperately needed answers when no one is talking? Who do you trust in a place full of criminals, a place where it’s easy to mistake friends for enemies and enemies for friends? And how is it possible for one girl to seemingly vanish into thin air, especially when the place is surrounded by sixteen foot high electric fences?
When Trigg and his sister Ren are sentenced to township 101 for the crime of defending themselves, and Ren suddenly comes up missing, Trigg must ask himself these same questions.
Something else he’d like to know is, how do you survive when the flaws of the NAO’s justice system has turned a simple punishment into a game of life or death?


Sadly, this story probably hits very close to home with some individuals.  It completely enveloped me from the very first page, to the last.  The story was well told, with great character development and a lot of moments that cause heightened emotional response.  I have always been infatuated with criminals and the criminal justice system.  With what really goes on in prison.  As heartbreaking as it is this story was probably very close to the truth.
 This book was right up my alley, the feelings of innocence, anger, fright, and even love had me grasping at straws for more! 
I am not a reviewer that spends time recapping what the story was about, as I feel it’s a waste of time.  The synopsis says everything you need to know, and my job is to convince you through my experience to either read the book, or not to bother.  With this book, it is difficult to say much without getting into details that will end up spoiling the book for you.  So I will leave you with this….
YOU MUST READ! 

Author Margaret Chatwin has called Roosevelt, Utah home for the past twelve years, but her roots are in the the beautiful Heber valley. Since the age of thirteen Margaret has been taking amazing adventures through her writing. Writing has always been very personal and private to her. Recently, however, she has chosen to share her talent with the world.

She has written over fifty novels, and currently has three published.

Margaret likes to "mix it up," writing many different types of books within the fiction genre.

Paperback and Ebooks are available at Amazon.com and Lulu.com (watch for great money saving coupon codes on Lulu’s home page. Seems like something is always on sale there.) 
 

Itty Bitties! - Short Story Buzz


Short stories are hard to review. They are... well... short! But we would like to venture out into this world as well.

So, we are trying something new on our site in honor of short stories. And hope to do a monthly or bi-weekly post called 'Itty Bitties!" devoted to a few short stories and our thoughts on each one that we have chosen!

Enjoy!





Book Blurb From: Amazon
Author: J.C. Martin
Publication Date: October 2, 2011
File Size/Print Length: 154 kb/30 Pages
The Island of the Dolls is a strange and eerie tourist destination in Mexico, where hundreds of decomposing dolls hang from trees like grisly Christmas ornaments. On a trip to the island, Joyce Parker's daughter falls in love with a beautiful but sinister doll. Soon after, she starts developing strange mannerisms that concerns Joyce. Her research into the doll's past reveals a dark history, and the curse of a lonely child spirit.


Lily's Rating: didn't like it it was ok liked it (my current rating) really liked it it was amazing

I have personally always thought dolls to have a creepy element to them. Ok... maybe not always, I had plenty of baby dolls as a kid, but once I hit my preteens they certainly did not feel the same to me. And after reading this short story, I feel even more validated.

First of all, creeeeeepy cover. But was even more creepy are the images in my head while reading this story, of decomposing dolls hanging off trees on this Island of Dolls in Mexico.

It definitely felt like there was some truth/accuracy to this legend and the island, so I actually googled this. And came across a lot of creepy pictures and articles about this place. If you are curious, click on this LINK to an interesting article full of pictures, and take a look for yourself. (shudder)

For a 30 page story, it was pretty well written. The characters are developed enough that you can relate to them, and though I found the story predictable as it evolved, I did enjoy the author's take at the end, and the relationship of the dolls and drownings in the island. Won't insert a spoiler here; you will have to read the story for yourself.

Didn't give me nightmares, but I certainly felt creeped out. Worth a look and an hour or so of your time!

Purchase Links (was free last time I checked!):

Check it out on Amazon.
Also available on Smashwords in other e-formats.


Book Blurb From: Goodreads
Author: Malachi King
Publication Date: May 22, 2012
File Size/Print Length: 11 Pages

Benny the knackerman collects dead animals from farms and delivers them to be processed. He's old and feels useless, but carries on with his unusual job because he knows more about it than anyone. Cattle are usually dead of disease or injury, but not on Andriss Scott's farm. Upon arrival at Scott's home, standing next to mutilated cattle, Benny finds a little girl, Corina, who tells him there were dancing lights in the sky and the poor cows had been "taken." Confused, Benny speaks to the farmer, Andriss, and is put at ease by swapping military service stories and the farmer's calm demeanor. A short story. 


Lily's Rating:  didn't like it it was ok liked it (my current rating) really liked it it was amazing  
Erin's Rating: 2 of 5 stars false 

Double Review Feature




Erin: Umm.... so about the Knackerman... Creepy or what???

Lily: That little girl was creepy actually... a little unnatural and odd.

Erin: I know!!! I couldn't help but think she was the culprit.  The little girl I was picturing in my head looked a lot like this....




I don't know what to think about it. It's so hard to review a book that is this short. I don't think I have ever read a book this short before. There was no time for character development... which is probably a good thing since that little girl creeped me out. In fact, so did the father.

Lily: The story was worth the 20 minutes it took me to read it. Was interesting enough. As interesting as a bunch of cattle, dead on a farm with drilled out bungholes would be interesting I guess?

Erin: Yeah... this one I would have to say was just okay.

Lily: Not much more to say over something that short....

Erin: Definitely worth the title 'Itty Bitty'.


Purchase Links:



Friday, June 29, 2012

Author Spotlight - Reyna Hawk






Today we welcome Reyna Hawk, Author of 'Looking Through Blind Eyes', which Erin and I reviewed earlier this week. To read the review click here!  Thank you Reyna for supplying Erin and I a copy of your novel for review!




What is your book about?
The book concerns a brother and sister, Janie and Daniel Valentine. It follows them as they move from a small town in Louisiana to Los Angeles; and Daniel’s involvement with Organized Crime. As the story unfolds with its twists and turns Janie’s life is rocked when Daniel mysterious comes up missing. She finds herself deep into connections with the Petrilo Crime Family by falling in love with the “Big Boss’s” Assistant. However, this new found happiness is shattered when she realizes the truth of her brother’s disappearance and that she has been placed on the Petrilo’s hit list.


Why did you decide to write it?
This is something I have worked on sporadically over the last 15 or so years. Back then it was much more difficult to get a book published without an agent. With the changes in the internet and self-publishing companies it has become easier. I have always loved writing and story-telling; I decided to take all those thoughts, put them on paper and send them out for others to enjoy.


How did you get your book published?
I did a lot of research before settling with Outskirts Press. They are a self publishing company and have really been great. I will be using them for my additional books in this series. The only way that would change is if I get picked up by a literary agent.


What types of readers will be interested in your book?
I think this will appeal to a wide variety of the adult audience. Men will like it due to the suspense and drama, whereas women will also like the romantic aspect of it.


What is special about your book?  What differentiates it from other books in the same category? 
My book is special and different from others because of the variety of its genre. It’s not strictly a crime, drama, or romance novel. It touches on many real life subjects that the readers will be able to understand and relate to. Also, the fact it appeals to a wide adult audience; not just one particular age group.


Have you published any other books?  Do you plan to publish more?
This is my first publication. However it is book one in a series of three books. I am currently working on the second book of this series titled “The Reflection of Secrets” which is coming soon. I also have other books in the works that are not of this series.


Purchase Links:
Signed and personalized copy directly via author! 
Amazon - Kindle or Paperback 
Through Outskirts Press! 


About the Author:

Reyna is a 44-year-old mother of one son and grandmother to one beautiful 3-year-old little girl. Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio Reyna has always loved writing and story telling. From a very young age she was making up stories to tell her friends. 
She has an Associate of Arts in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Anthropology.
Her novel “Looking Through Blind Eyes” is set to be released in July of 2012. 
You can check out the Author's website here! 
You can also connect with her on Goodreads, or follow her on Twitter or Facebook (details on her website).

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Erin's Review of Girl in the Glass, by Zoe Brooks

“I will have to say it: 'I am Anya and I am nothing'. I will look down at the floor as I say it, so that I don't see the smile on my aunt's face, so she won't see the defiance in my eyes. She will get her victory. She always wins these battles. I know it, she knows it. But one day, one day she will not.”
Orphaned at the age of 10 in circumstances that she refuses to explain, Anya grows up trapped in the house of her abusive aunt where she and Eva, her Shadow, are treated as slaves. As her aunt tries to break her and the punishments become increasingly life-threatening, Anya struggles to find affection and self-esteem. When the inevitable showdown arrives, where will Anya find the strength to survive and escape? And if she does escape, what then?



….Wow! 
This is the first book I have reviewed that deserves more than a 5 star.  I give this book a 6 star rating!!!

I have never been able to start a review like this.  This is a phenomenal story told absolutely beautifully…and the cover is stunning!
This book has quickly become one of my all time favourite books!!!
Do you remember back when you were in high school, in English class how they made you read a book that they thought had a ‘powerful story’? That dreaded English teacher made you write an essay on it (or a book report)…how those books were usually pretty dull and boring?  This would make a perfect book for that!  Only, it would be enticing, and would make you actually want to do well on your essay. As I was reading it I kept thinking to myself how if I had novels like this one to read in high school, I would have ended up with a much higher grade!
It has all of the elements that an awesome novel should have…good character development, good flow, good grammar and spelling, it has an amazing plot line with many climaxes.  I could honestly say this book had me from beginning to end.  I just didn’t want to finish reading it.
The characters we so well developed that I found myself actually feeling Anya’s pain, her anger, her innocence and her strength.  Even though I have never been through any of the hardships that she has endured I felt such a strong connection to her and her shadow. (What is a shadow anyways?  I am still wondering that!)  I felt an overwhelming sense of protection towards Anya.   I really wanted to be able to step in and save her.  Stop her awful aunt and all the other horrible people that were hurting her. 
This book brought out a ton of emotion from anger, fear, sadness and even excitement.  I just couldn’t put it down!

I strongly urge you to buy this novel…you will finish it in no time and it will be one that impacts your life. 
The best part is that there are still two more books to read afterwards!!!

Lily's Review of 'Don't Call Me Angel", by Alicia Wright Brewster


My Rating:
didn't like it it was ok liked it really liked it (my current rating) it was amazing  
After crawling her way out of Hell, Six is ready to cast aside her angel wings and all the responsibilities that come with them. But Earth is not as peaceful as she imagined it. Demons, dark angels, and other hell-beasties escaped before her, and they're not as content as she is to live a quiet life on Earth.

A fellow angel who escaped Hell with her commits a series of soul-murders, destroying human souls so they can't go to the afterlife. Although Six has conflicting feelings about humans, she goes after the other angel to keep their escape a secret from the one she fears most.





This novella was a pretty cool read. I loved that there were graphic pictures included with the writing. Usually I don't have a tough time picturing characters in my mind, but this was an added bonus I really enjoyed. I could see this as a fully graphic novel actually. It could work!

Yes there was a lot of character development lacking. You don't know why Six was kicked out into Hell, but then neither does she. What you do understand of the characters though is well written and built. You get the essence of the main players. The relationships built are no less strong in the context of this short novel.

I like Six. Plain and simple. She is hard ass, but I felt a deep sadness in her as well. She has an emptiness that I think she wants to fill, but even she is not sure what is missing. Her extreme actions on her first night on Earth were upsetting, though I understood why she did what she did. But I wanted her to keep the biggest physical part of her identity, and was saddened by her choice.

I dislike Alden. Very.much.dislike.Alden. A$%hole! 'Nuf said.

K maybe not enough said.

I don't like what you were caught doing. I hope you get pulled back into Hell and tortured in lots of creative ways for being such a power hungry, selfish evil bastard.


Hmmm maybe a little overboard on that one? Meh... Moving on!

Luke is interesting. Lots of hype and fear and hibby-gibbies, and he just does a little tiny appearance of his apparent evil but sexy self at the very end. And 'poof'! Off he goes!

There was very little background information, but it didn't really affect my enjoyment of this story. I liked the mysteries of the past but I do hope they will be further explored in the next installments.  I will definitely read the next in the series.



This novel was kindly provided by the author for an honest review.




Published June 15th 2012 by Dragonfairy Press

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Review of Looking Through Blind Eyes, by Reyna Hawk




Erin's Rating: 4 of 5 stars false
Lily's Rating:  didn't like it it was ok (my current rating) liked it really liked it it was amazing

Published May 17th 2012 by Outskirts Press 

All Janie and Daniel wanted was a better life and growing up in small town Louisiana did not give them that opportunity. So the sister and brother headed to Los Angeles, California to make the most of their lives. However, their hopes begin to diminish when Daniel's work in organized crime lead them down dangerous and deadly roads. After Daniel's mysterious disappearance and death, Janie plunges headlong into grief and love for the assistant to the "boss." The couple seems to have everything going for them except for Rico's job that takes him away for days on end sometimes. Janie's suspicions and worries over Rico's possible infidelity reveals information she never imagined would come to light. Her undying love for this man leads to secrets, lies, and murder. Soon Janie finds herself on the wrong side of the gun hanging off a cliff deep in the woods of North Carolina.


Double Review Feature

.... and we don't agree......



Lily: Meh..... Just meh.....

Erin: Haha. I really liked it.

Lily: My first piece of advice for this book.













The misuse of 'seen' was everywhere... Bugged the crap out of me.

Erin: LOL I didn't even notice it to be honest, I was too wrapped up in the story. Thought the beginning was pretty slow with the character building, but it picked up really quickly.

Lily: It didn't bother you at all that the story was told from beginning to end, as opposed to SHOWN?? The only action was when they were talking to each other.

Erin: Usually it would, but once again... I was too wrapped up in the story to notice much of it.

One thing that drove me nuts was the amount of times they had to tell each other they loved one another.... it seemed as if they were saying 'I love you' every paragraph...



Lily: YES!! Agreed. Barf. I'd rather see pictures of kittens trying to eat their mom's face off.

I always have a hard time getting emotionally attached to a story or any character when it's being told. I found myself skimming through the last quarter of the novel just to get to the end, and move on.  I found it pretty predictable too....

Obviously you have a VERY different opinion. The story was not bad, but I just wasn't emotionally invested like you said you were.

Erin: And emotionally invested I was! I actually found myself tearing up at times.

See, I wasn't able to predict the ending at all. I was able to predict that something strange happened to Daniel, but what actually did happen completely caught me off guard!  I thought there were enough twists in the plot to keep things moving along well.

It's amazing that two people who are as close as we are can have such different viewpoints on a book.... I thought you would have really liked it!

Lily: Meh....


Purchase Links:

Signed and personalized copy directly via author! 
Amazon - Kindle or Paperback 
Through Outskirts Press! 


About the Author:

Reyna is a 44-year-old mother of one son and grandmother to one beautiful 3-year-old little girl. Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio Reyna has always loved writing and story telling. From a very young age she was making up stories to tell her friends. 
She has an Associate of Arts in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Anthropology.
Her novel “Looking Through Blind Eyes” is set to be released in July of 2012. 
You can check out the Author's website here! 
You can also connect with her on Goodreads, or follow her on Twitter or Facebook (details on her website).



Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Alex Palaogos: The exotic newcommer


Alex's life right now is boring, and he knows it.
Sure the move to America was exciting: the train ride across Europe followed by the luxurious ten-day party that was the steamer crossing. But after unpacking last May, he settled into a monotonous regimen. He reads, wanders around the yard, rides his horse Bucephalus, or plays chess with tight-lipped Dmitri. In the evening or early morning Grandfather is more likely to be awake, but even when they do talk, the old man is usually distant and distracted.
So when he meets Sarah and her friends, the opportunity to talk to people who aren't servants or wheelchair-bound octogenarians is just too good to pass up. Besides, she's a girl, and a smart and beautiful one at that. Hell, if he was bound to a post and forced merely to watch her, he'd count the day well spent.
Then they find the body - and common as ordinary evil is, Alex knows better. Grandfather does to. It has to be one of them. One of those things. New world or not, wherever you go things stay the same. The old man insists Alex stay out of it.
But standing on the sidelines is no way to impress a girl.

A Big Giveaway for The Darkening Dream

This week, through June 29th, Author Andy Gavin is running a big giveaway to celebrate his 99 cent promo sale.
The Darkening Dream Rafflecopter Giveaway
Tweet, like, follow, share, blog and grab a copy of his book to enter.

About The Darkening Dream

As the modern world establishes itself and pushes the supernatural into the shadows, the supernatural fights back.
An ominous vision and the discovery of a gruesome corpse lead Sarah and her friends into a terrifying encounter with a fledgling vampire in 1913 Salem, Massachusetts. Eager to prove themselves, the young heroes set out to track the evil to its source, never guessing that they will take on a conspiracy involving not only a 900-year vampire but also a demon-loving Puritan warlock, disgruntled Egyptian gods, and an immortal sorcerer, all on a quest to recover the holy trumpet of the Archangel Gabriel. Relying on the wisdom of a Greek vampire hunter, Sarah's rabbi father, and her own disturbing visions, Sarah must fight a millennia-old battle between unspeakable forces, where the ultimate prize might be Sarah herself.

The critics love it

"A vampire novel with actual bite." ~The Kirkus Reviews
"A gorgeously creepy, strangely humorous, and sincerely terrifying tale." ~Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

Read the first two sample chapters here.

Get your 99 cent copy of The Darkening Dream today on Amazon only.

About the Author


Andy Gavin is an unstoppable storyteller who studied for his Ph.D. at M.I.T. and founded video game developer Naughty Dog, Inc. at the age of fifteen, serving as co-president for two decades. There he created, produced, and directed over a dozen video games, including the award winning and best selling Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter franchises, selling over 40 million units worldwide. He sleeps little, reads novels and histories, watches media obsessively, travels, and of course, writes. Find out more here.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Lily's review of "Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein


My Rating:
didn't like it it was ok liked it really liked it (my current rating) it was amazing  

Published May 15th 2012 by Doubleday Canada 

Oct. 11th, 1943--A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun.

When "Verity" is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn't stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she's living a spy's worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.
As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage and failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

 

I usually stay clear of war stories. With the exception of "War Horse", I skip them. It's just not my cup of tea. 

Though I try not to judge a book by its cover, this one did catch my eye. It speaks a thousand words. And the blurb of the novel did seal the deal on giving this one a chance. I am glad that I did. 

Verity's voice in the beginning of this novel instantly reeled me in. She became a war prisoner of the Gestapo in WW2, and forced to write her confession day after day. Her voice was funny, filled with sarcastic humor, and even in the midst of such a horrid situation, she made me laugh at her rebellious antics towards her captors. She was human. Defiant. Strong and so brave. She was difficult to ignore and not love. 

In the way of these "journal entries" which were read every day by her captors, she weaves the story of her deep friendship with Maddie, a pilot she worked with throughout the war. 

The second part of this novel is told through Maddie's voice and she is no less likeable, and no less brave.  Thinking of nothing but trying to find her friend and rescue her. It is difficult to write anything more without giving away the plot.

Saying that this is the best WW2 book I have ever read maybe doesn't indicate much considering that I don't really read this genre.  For a reader that doesn't venture into these type of novels, and to give this book a four star review may indicate a lot. 

I love that this book focused on two normal girls that joined the war, and fought behind enemy lines. And I loved that they were good at what they did and very much respected. There are no happy endings in war, and it translates true with this novel. Though I can not say with all honesty that this was an original type of war story, I can most certainly say that it is forever memorable. Highly recommended!


This novel was kindly provided by the publisher via





Purchase Links:

Amazon - Kindle and Paperback/Hardcover 

Random House.ca  

Indigo/Chapters - Paperback or Kobo ebook 


About the Author:

(Bio & pic from Author's Website)

Elizabeth Wein has lived in Scotland for over ten years and wrote nearly all her novels there.  Her first five books for young adults are set in Arthurian Britain and sixth century Ethiopia.  The most recent of these form the sequence The Mark of Solomon, published in two parts as The Lion Hunter (2007) and The Empty Kingdom (2008).  The Lion Hunter was short-listed for the Andre Norton Award for Best Young Adult Fantasy and Science Fiction in 2008.  Elizabeth also writes short stories.


You can find her on Goodreads, or check out her Website.


 



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