Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Threads That Bind

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I was not only pleasantly surprised (an understatement..."blown away" might be more apt) by this book, I enjoyed it so much that I immediately went and purchased the second one in the series. I was thrilled to find the second one equally well-written, with great well-fleshed-out characters that melded so well into an intriguing story line that I literally "couldn't put it down." Excellent character development and dialogue, written in my favorite style that allows me to run the movie in my head while I'm reading.

Amazon description:

At 16, Madison has accepted herself for who she is: smart and witty, but overweight with thick glasses and the social life of a Tibetan monk. Everything changes the summer before her junior year of high school when her eyesight inexplicably corrects itself, and she begins to rapidly lose weight. However, her new look comes with an unexpectedly expensive price. Madison’s first kiss with the boy she has had a crush on for years triggers powers she can’t control, almost killing him.

She discovers she is a Berserker, a powerful being chosen to guard the world from the Havocs, ancient creatures brought into our world by magic thousands of years ago. They cause destruction and death, but cannot be killed. Only the Berserkers’ life-blood can bind – and free – the Havocs. One Havoc is free and wants Madison’s blood to free another. Instead of enjoying her new look and popularity at school, Madison must now work with the Berserkers to master her powers and bind the Havoc before it kills her.

Oh, and if that weren’t bad enough, it turns out she is the first female Berserker since, well - ever.

As excellent as that blurb is, it can't come close to explaining the intricacies and surprises within the book's pages. I was reminded of the Twilight series, but in my humble opinion, this was better. Much better. I really liked the main character, Madison, who I think is an excellent role model for young teen girls...nothing weak and wimpy about this girl! She gets scared, but she holds it together and can kick major monster butt AND keep her grades up at school. (As enamored as Madison is with a guy, I can't imagine her thinking it was romantic to have him come and sit in her room and watch her sleep! Did that part of Twilight make anyone else's skin crawl?) Wonderfully described monsters, a smart, plucky girl with two, sometimes three admirers (it varies with whether or not Josh has been hazed yet, to forget Madison tossing him into a tree when his kiss brings out her unrealized and unleashed powers). What's not to love?

If you enjoyed Twilight pick up a copy of the first in this series. I'm pretty sure that, just as I did, you'll be going back for more! I'm now anxiously awaiting the next in line...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Amelia's Last Secret by Eric Wilson

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I have always been a fan of Amelia Earhart so I was thrilled to find this book on my "should read" Kindle list. It is fairly short, a novella, but packed with so much action and information that I would put it on anyone's "absolutely must read" list. Although no one will ever "know" what Amelia's last minutes were like, New York Times best-selling author Mr. Wilson certainly gives us a chance to imagine them, and to spend them with her. The inclusion of the "Windtalkers" (Navaho code breakers) in the book, especially allowing us to meet and get to know Oliver, was a stroke of genius in an already fabulous work of factual fiction. Although the storyline is fast paced, this is in fact an easy paced read...a great book for young adults or old.

The research for this novella was obviously done with care and a great love of history. As well as a love for intrigue and mystery. The characters he created are woven in with the real-life characters so easily that you forget whether you're reading fact or fiction (or as in this case, a talented blend of the two) and just fall deep into the story.

Amazon's description:

AMELIA'S disappearance stunned the world.
Her LAST SECRET will surprise you.

Amelia Earhart vanished 75 years ago while flying over the Pacific. Was she part of an American spy mission? Was she eloping to escape a suffocating lifestyle and marriage? Or did she die as a stowaway on a remote island? With Hillary Clinton's announcement that a team would be investigating new evidence in the Phoenix Islands, this story is as timely as it is well-researched.

Take flight in this fast-paced adventure, from a NY Times bestselling novelist.

I think they should have said a lot more, but perhaps to do so would have been a spoiler. If you're a fan of strong women who changed history, if you are an aviation bug, if you are an avid reader of American Indian history or if you simply enjoy a good story line with great dialogue and believable characters you'll agree with my thumb's up opinion of this one!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

This Little Piggy Went To The Liquor Store

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I was totally prepared to dislike this book. I figured it was time to review something that was poorly written, poorly formatted and with subject matter that I couldn't tolerate so I bought it. How could I go wrong on a book with a vodka bottle and a baby pacifier on the cover? How indeed? Must I count the ways?

A. K. Turner may not get the fundamental conservative vote for Mother Of The Year, but she sure has mine. I wish I'd grown up with her! I personally don't drink...I can get drunk reading the label on a bottle of wine, even if I did like the taste which I don't. Also, my childhood memories of alcohol and overdrinking were not pleasant ones, so the very idea of the words "liquor store" on a book about being a mom seemed to me to be the epitome of poor taste and symbolic of the decline of the American family.


If I thought that putting a martini in the hands of every mom in America would create a home life such as Mrs. Turner describes theirs, I'd buy the bottles and the glasses!

I've read so many reviews and book descriptions that tout a book as "laugh out loud funny" that I don't take any of them seriously any more. I've become jaded to that whole "truth in advertising" thing, and firmly believe that just as Dr. House believes, "everybody lies."

Nobody lied this time. I actually had to get out of bed, where I was reading beside my snoring husband, and finish the book in the living room because I kept breaking out into giggles and even one big old horse snort which woke him up. Yes, she's that funny.

Normal family life is funny. Abnormal family life even more so. The Turner family is a nice blend of normal-dysfunctional. Not since Erma Bombeck have I been so anxious to read more about a family's trek through daily life. A huge thumb's up (and a blushing apology for my preconcieved notions) to the author who not only puts the "fun" in "dysfunctional" but makes me want to adopt her and the rest of her family.

PS: It was not only beautifully written, but I found just ONE (count 'em, one) error. That alone adds another star to an already full slate.

The Amazon description (also the book jacket) is woefully short. The book deserves more!

This Little Piggy Went to the Liquor Store chronicles what happens when a little girl who scorns the idea of marriage and children (in favor of becoming a stiletto-wearing, attache-carrying Secret Agent), majors in Russian, minors in Vodka, and then one day finds herself with child… and in-laws

Yes, there were dogs in the book. And that is the only part of the book that made me wince. Mrs. Turner was very brave to include the facts that they gave away family pets simply because they were inconvenient. I can't understand nor condone that, but it did appear that she did so in a very repsonsible and mature manner, with full admission of the wrongness of the action, and the pets in question were never endangered (kill shelter) nor placed without angst and full knowledge that the new owners would be more responsible.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Unicorn on Speed Dial by Jeanette Cottrell

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When I finished the last of the Harry Potter series I moaned over the fact that NOTHING would ever entrance me and delight me the way dear Harry had done.

I was wrong.

I almost didn't purchase Unicorn on Speed Dial because of the childish cover. Thank goodness I listened to my grandma when she told me you couldn't judge books by their cover ... silly me, I used to think she was making a metaphor about people, but anyway ... poorly designed cover or no, Jeanette Cottrell has written a book that will entertain, delight, absorb, mystify, daze and confuse readers who allowed themselves to fall deep into the folds of Harry Potter's cape.

In a way, (forgive me Ms. Rowling) I think I liked Unicorn on Speed Dial even better because the protagonist was a forty-two year old teacher/housewife/mother/animal trainer. I could identify with her problems a little better than teenage angsts. But, monsters are monsters. Sorcerers and sorceresses are sorcerers and sorceresses (OK, I only wrote that last sentence because it's so fun to read out loud...did you sound like a snake in a blender too?). Dragons will be dragons, unicorns will be unicorns and bugbears will be...wait! What's a bugbear? Read the book. You'll feel just like Dorothy saying gryphons and orcs and dwarves...oh MY!

Very well written with few formatting/typo errors this book captivated me from page one and I actually forced myself to slow down several times, and stop reading entirely a time or two because I didn't want it to be over too soon. A rarity for me. There certainly is enough fodder for a series from the main characters but whether it's stand-alone or Book #1 of 20, this book is an absolute must-read for fantasy lovers. Of all ages. Even us old gray haired curmudgeonly types.

The description from the book's Amazon page:

With a wry sense of humor, this adult urban fantasy pokes fun at American culture. Warmth and offbeat humor are the rules of the day.
Kathryn Koldwell is a suburban housewife, mother of four. She and her family live in a small Oregon town where every family has a two-car garage, Internet access, and the occasional great-uncle who practices a bit of magic. Kathryn has a unicorn named Freckles, and a back yard filled with migrating dragons. She volunteers her time to retrain abandoned ex-familiars with bad magical habits.

Her idyllic life suffers a setback when her son sights a bugbear, a dangerous beast hailing from Galdesyat, a South American country. Then she finds feathers from a gryphon nestling—but no gryphon. Bugbears and gryphons rarely set foot out of Galdesyat. Is there a conspiracy in the offing?

Kathryn and Freckles set out to investigate this mystery, and stumble through a portal to Galdesyat, taking baby Joni with them. Defending her baby with her swinging diaper bag, Kathryn must fight gryphons, trick dwarves, and outthink an orc sorcerer to go home. And reach it she must! Somewhere in her home town, an evil sorcerer lurks with a horrific army, intent on world domination.

Can she possibly manage it? Even with a Unicorn on Speed Dial?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Mango Bob...my first Thumb's Down review

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Like everyone else, I don't like everything I read. So far I've only reviewed the books I really did like, or could understand why someone else might like them. Today, I'm in a really bad mood, so I chose the Book Du Jour to be Mango Bob by Bill Myers.

First of all, the description from Amazon...

Walker's task should be simple: drive the Love Bus 1,200 miles cross-country to Florida and deliver a cat named Mango Bob to a woman he's never met. But things are never really as simple as they seem. An unsolved murder involving the Love Bus and the Mexican mafia, along with a major case of mistaken identity, complicate Walker's efforts. Add a crazy gun-toting senior citizen, Mango Bob's escape attempts, and the hot kayak chick, and you get a rollicking travel romp through the Sunshine State.

Sounds fun doesn't it? Another description I read online likens this book to those of Carl Hiassen and Janet Evanovich.

Someone wishes.

In fact, *I* wish it had been even somewhat reminiscent of either (excellent) writer. It wasn't. And that's six or seven hours I'll never get back.

I couldn't be sure whether I was reading an RVer's manual, a WalMart ad or a "what not to do" for writers. As a writer myself, I hate to give a nasty review, but come ON. I've heard more emotion in the dialogue between a lima bean and a turnip than in any part of this book. The only portion that had any sort of spark at all was in the page after page after page describing how to get the sewage out of an RV, or how to park an RV or how to....do a dozen other things with an RV. OK, already, we get it. The author of this book has written a very popular and well-acclaimed book on RVing. He obviously not only "knows RVs" but he is passionate about them. He is a fabulus non-fiction writer. And he shouldn't quit his day job just yet.

Case in point: The protagonist gets a note from his wife out of the blue one day telling him she wants a divorce, thanks for the memories, "I'm a better person for having known you" and instead of ranting and raving or crying the man just shrugs and says "Hmmm, it might be awkward if I went home, so I'm just going to WalMart and buy a blue tent and camp at a campground until I decide what to do." And that's what he does. In boring detail. Soon after, he is told that the company that has been his bread and butter for years is closing and instead of showing any emotion at all, he shrugs and says "Good thing I've got a cheap roof over my head." (Those are paraphrased 'quotations' by the way, I saved you the tedium of reading the cut and pasted pages it took to make a short story long). He is told that he is getting a huge settlement from the company, very unexpectedly and instead of being tickled, we're shown the same amount of emotion we got for a divorce and a job loss. *yawn*

About half way through the book, I'm wondering who the heck is Mango Bob. We eventually find out it's a cat, and so I'm thinking 'Hallelujah! maybe this cat is going to spark things up'. *yawn* Not hardly. Even the Grandma Mazur (if you read Janet Evanovich you know who that is) wannabe couldn't spark up this with her gun in hand...I don't think it would have helped if she'd stripped nekkid and whistled the Star Spangled Banner while twirling the gun and six sparklers.

By the time I read the last page, I was almost drumming my fingernails wanting to be done. Between the lack of emotion, the tasteless dialogue and the weak story line, I honestly would have preferred to have been getting the colonoscopy my doctor keeps advising.

So, there you have it. My very first "Thumb's Down." And, like giving a child a spanking, it's really true that it hurt me more than it hurt them.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Synthetic:The Rise of the Siren by Shonna Wright

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Original. Compelling. Unique. Creative. Mysterious. Romantic. Spellbinding.

None of those words, or even the combination of all of them can come close to describing this book.

From its Amazon page, we learn:

Kora hates vampires and swears she'll never make one. Using artificial cells, she synthesizes pleasant, harmless creatures like mermaids and gnomes for wealthy clients who want mythical creatures roaming their grounds and swimming in their private lakes.

When trillionaire Ruby Lazar buys Kora's masterpiece, the Siren, Kora leaps at the opportunity to deliver her marvel in person. She rushes off to Ruby's Gothic castle on the cliffs of Point Dume only to end up imprisoned in a Victorian monkey cage. To save her own life, Kora must transform the Siren into the very creature she loathes.

To make matters worse, Ruby already has a synthetic vampire boy toy named Vaughn who's the most vicious, arrogant, gorgeous thing Kora has ever laid eyes on. She hates every strand of hair on his blood-sucking head but can't stop thinking about him.

But everything about the castle—including Vaughn—is oddly familiar to Kora. She soon learns that in order to truly escape, she must uncover secrets from her own forgotten past. Only by discovering her true identity can she prevent Ruby from destroying her life all over again.

Even that intriguing description didn't prepare me for what I found in the pages of Synthetic:The Rise of the Siren.

If you think about the story of Frankenstein's monster, mixed into the Twilight series, with a dash of Rocky Horror Picture Show and a pinch of Nancy Drew all combined into the worst/best B-movie you ever saw, you might get an inkling of what's in store for you. I thoroughly enjoyed the read. I admit to a few "huh?" moments (mostly due to formatting and editing errors) but I was intrigued enough to not let it distract me from the story. I would give this book five stars for originality and creativity (even though there was no dog in the story). If you're a sci fi or fantasy fan, this should definitely be on your "must read" list. I guess I am now officially a member of Team Vaughn.


The Goodreads.com description is a little more indepth, but might spoil some of the surprises for you. If you like to be kept guessing, don't read below this line. :)

Playing God is a lonely job. Kora created twin mermaids, a gang of gnomes and even a replica of Brigitte Bardot for her wealthy clientele, but what she really wants is her own family.

Forget pregnancy. Kora synthesizes full-grown creatures from artificial cells. Thanks to this unique talent, she’s enslaved at Mirafield Labs where she’s forced to pump out synthetic bimbos twenty-four hours a day, leaving her no time to design her own companions. But when a Mirafield bigwig named Ruby Lazar summons her for a house call, Kora leaps at the opportunity to escape her captors.

Kora is shipped off to a Gothic castle on the cliffs of Point Dume where meets Ruby, an ancient horror actress turned mad scientist, who she is shocked to learn is her long-lost mother. Ruby rules over a family of her own creations including a walrus man, a tiny troll, and her vampire boy toy, Vaughn. He wants nothing to do with Ruby, but she hopes to seduce him and resurrect her acting career by transforming herself into a gorgeous vampire.

To save her own neck, Kora must perform the impossible task of transferring Ruby’s brain into the body of a synthetic vampire. But making a monster while falling for Vaughn puts Kora in a tailspin. Is she morphing into her detestable mother? Desperate to get free, Kora searches for remnants of her past and discovers a monster genocide Ruby ordered ten years before that ripped Kora from everyone she loved. Now Kora must battle her mother before Ruby destroys her life all over again

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Enchanting the Lady

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Luckily, Enchanting the Lady by Kathryne Kennedy was one of the very first e-books I read after I purchased my Kindle. This book impressed me so much with not only a vividly flowing storyline but also beautiful formatting and editing...if my first purchases had been some of the poorly written and edited e-books I've read recently, I would likely have abandoned hope and put my Kindle on eBay.

I was never a big fan of the "Regency romances" that are popular with so many, so I purchased this with great trepidation, hoping that the paranormal aspect of a were-lion courting a shy Duchess who couldn't find her magic would make it more unique. "Unique" doesn't come close to describing what I found within these pages.

I love fantasy stories and Kennedy's Victorian era world of magic kept me absolutely enthralled from first page to last. I look forward to reading the others in her "Relics of Merlin" series although I actually didn't know when I purchased and read this book that it was in fact the start of a series. It had a lovely ending that, although you were left wanting more because you loved the characters, you didn't feel as if you were left hanging and needing more closure.

Amazon's description was far too short to give any kind of feeling for this book. It deserves better.

In a Victorian London where titles are based on the inheritance of magical powers, a were-lion's obsessive quest for Merlin's relics will threaten his love for a disinherited duchess--as well as their very lives.

Yes, that sums it up neatly, but it doesn't do justice to the book at all! It doesn't make you feel the helplessness of a young orphan girl who realizes that if her ability to do magic doesn't surface quickly she will lose her immense inheritance and become homeless. Or the craftiness of a handsome baron shapeshifter who serves Prince Albert to protect him from black magic...the most intense magic of which are the 13 Relics of Merlin, black magic created by Merlin himself, too dark and deadly for even the most magically inclined to possess. It doesn't do more than hint at the sexy love story between the young Duchess and the were-lion baronet that is entwined through the pages amongst the magic, the treachery and the Victorian life vignette. If you enjoy fantasy stories, if you thrill at a warm romance (think Beauty and the Beast revisited, with a twist), if you like a happy ending where the bad guys end up on the bottom...you simply must read this book!

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Green Series, by Judy Christie

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This series was a very (!) pleasant surprise for me. Having been told that this was one that should definitely be read in order, I obediently started out with Gone to Green, immediately ordered Goodness Gracious Green when I was finished with the first book, and then delved right straight into The Glory of Green. And want more, more, more! Covering laughter and tears, weddings and deaths, blue skies and tornadoes, these books are a vignette into life in a small Southern town, Green, Louisiana, that could easily be mistaken for most of the small towns in my part of rural Alabama. Well, except for the alligator. I loved being part of a newspaper family for a while and, the mark of an excellent writer, Ms. Christie made me feel every one of their triumphs and disasters as personally as if I were truly there with them. I didn't want any of the books to end...

The characters were incredibly real and the stories were well-written; the dialogue was superb and all three books were easily played in my head like a movie as I read. There are quite a lot of references to religion and personal faith and beliefs, but not so much that it should ruin the story for someone who isn't religious and enough that it should be uplifting for readers that are. There are two additional books in the series (so far), and I expect them to be equally interesting, thought provoking and well-written. If you read and enjoyed the Mitford series by Jan Karon, you're sure to love these books. (Personally although I enjoyed the Karon series immensely, I felt more a "part" of Green than I ever did of Mitford, perhaps it was just the setting? Closer to my own home?).

Amazon describes the first book of the series thusly:

In Gone to Green, Lois goes from being a corporate journalist at a large paper in the Midwest to the owner of The Green News-Item, a small twice-weekly newspaper in rural North Louisiana. The paper was an unexpected inheritance from a close colleague, and Lois must keep it for at least a year, bringing a host of challenges, lessons, and blessings into her life.

When Lois pulls into Green on New Year’s Day, she expects a charming little town full of smiling people. She quickly realizes her mistake. After settling into a loaned house out on Route 2, she finds herself battling town prejudices and inner doubts and making friends with the most surprising people: troubled teenager Katy, good-looking catfish farmer Chris, wise and feisty Aunt Helen, and a female African-American physician named Kevin.

Whether fighting a greedy, deceitful politician or rescuing a dog she fears, Lois notices the headlines in her life have definitely improved. She learns how to provide small-town news in a big-hearted way and realizes that life is full of newsworthy moments. When she encounters racial prejudice and financial corruption, Lois also discovers more about the goodness of real people and the importance of being part of a community.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Elvis and the Dearly Departed

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If you are always delighted to find a new series of zany, chick lit "cozy mysteries" then your face should be sporting a wide grin right about now. If you find it more interesting when those stories are set in the Deep South, then this is your lucky day indeed. Goodreads describes this series as "Fried Green Tomatoes meets Stephanie Plum." A screwball comedy that you shuld just dive into and enjoy rolling your eyes at the bad Southern parodies or shaking your head at the quirky characters without trying to be anything other than entertained. I was entertained. I have however noticed in the reviews that this is definitely one of those stories/series that you either outright love or you throw the book across the room in disgust thus the middle-of-the-road rating of 3.5 stars on Amazon. Lots of 5 star and a few 1 star reviews. Although I got a little exasperated with parts of the book, how could you not love a storyline that includes narrative from a flop-eared Basset named Elvis?

From Amazon.com's description:  

They say you can't get to Heaven without passing through the Eternal Rest Funeral Home. And no one gets into Eternal Rest without passing muster with Elvis--the basset hound who's convinced he's the reincarnation of the King of Rock 'n' Roll. Brewing up a big ol' pitcher of Mississippi mystery, Peggy Webb's delightful new series is as intoxicating as the Delta breeze.

Normally, Callie Valentine Jones spends her days fixing up the hairdos of the dead, but when the corpse of local, prominent physician Dr. Leonard Laton goes missing, it's bad for business. So Callie and her cousin Lovie (Eternal Rest's resident wake caterer) have no choice but to go in hot pursuit of the recently embalmed, last seen bound for Vegas by way of downtown Tupelo. In Vegas, Callie and Lovie hit the jackpot when they find the dearly departed inside a freezer owned by his showgirl mistress, Bubble Malone. But their luck runs out when Bubble decides to join her man in the afterlife. With the poisonous Laton family tree providing plenty of rotten suspects, Callie, along with some help from her basset hound, Elvis, is determined to crack this case--and have a killer singing "Jailhouse Rock" in time for her next haircutting appointment. . .

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Summer Of My German Soldier

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Although I am told that this book is now considered a "classic" and is on many required-reading lists, I admit I had never paid any attention to it (just a vague memory of a TV-movie in the 70s) until my fourteen year old friend was given the assignment of reading it over summer vacation. Although this is a very bright kid, he was having trouble forcing himself to keep reading and he asked if I had ever read it. Since I hadn't, I downloaded it the next day from Kindle to see if I could help.

The experience of reading this book was one that reminds me again of how we should always reach outside of our comfort zones and our personal preferences to take chances. I tell myself that I enjoy reading "all" genres of literature. Good and bad, fluff and deep, from history to mystery. But if I'm honest with myself there is an entire world out there that I don't experience because it requires some effort. So it was with the Summer of My German Soldier.

Definitely not a book I would have expected to enjoy, I'm now very glad that I used the excuse of "doing it for someone else" to make the effort to go outside my comfort zone. I will say that although I was engrossed in the book from start to finish, I found the story disturbing on a lot of levels. The book is beautifully written with characters so vivid and well-drawn that you find yourself aching to feel their warmth as you hug them...or feel their nose crush against your fist.

If I were a teacher of early teens, this is definitely not a book I would have put on the required list. I think many nuances and lessons in this book are going to be a little dark and deep to expect a young adult to learn from, much less enjoy. If forcing kids to read this book was supposed to be an exercise in learning the history of the times, there are certainly many other books that would have done the job just as well and would have been easier for kids to relate to.

The idea of a twelve-year-old girl befriending and spending hours of alone-time with a 20-year-old man "because he made her feel pretty" has an undertone that I think could be disturbing to some early teen girls that are likely feeling the pressure of not measuring up in today's society that focuses so much on appearance.

I'm not sure if hard-copy books, especially earlier copies, include the information that this is not a work of fiction as it was first claimed, but instead is the memoir of the writer. Knowing that made me enjoy the book a little more.

If your teen has been given the project of reading the book, there is a study guide available on Kindle. Also, the book was made into a TV movie that is still available on VHS.

Amazon describes the book thusly:

In Bette Greene’s award–winning debut novel, a young Jewish girl in the postwar South finds herself drawn to a German prisoner of war
When the Army delivers a batch of Nazi prisoners of war to an internment camp in Jenkinsville, Arkansas, Patty Bergen is as anxious as any of her neighbors to get a glimpse of the monsters. The eldest child in the town’s sole Jewish family, Patty is lonely and isolated, spending most of her time in the company of Ruth, her parents’ black housekeeper.
Then she meets Anton Reiker, an inmate in the camp. Even though he fought against the Allies, Anton seems to understand Patty in a way even her parents never have. When Anton escapes from the camp, Patty risks everything to keep him safe—but following her heart may come at a terrible price.
This ebook features an illustrated biography of Bette Greene including rare photos and never-before-seen documents from the author’s personal collection.
Although they say "postwar" the setting is during the war.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Taking Out the Trailer Trash

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As you may have noticed, I just can't pass up a clever title or a cool book cover. The covers for this book (there have been two so far) have both been bland, amateurish and uninteresting besides having absolutely zip, nada, nothing to do with the story. But, you have to admit the title makes up for that.

This cozy mystery by Janice Ivy is very cleverly written, has a great cast of characters and a story line with well-orchestrated twists and turns that kept me guessing all the way. I've thought about running away from home sometimes to write...but this book proves that trouble will follow you sometimes no matter where you go. A very fun, witty read that would be a perfect beach or backyard hammock read. Quite a few errors, possibly formatting, but definitely worth the read.

Living in rural Alabama, I've met my share of trailer trash and apparently Ms. Ivy has spent some time among them as well. She nailed the characters beautifully, in both dialogue and description. I'm not sure the "safe house in the swamp" is believable, but hey, this isn't War and Peace and the book did exactly what is was designed to do. Cheap entertainment!

Amazon's description:
People are dropping like flies at the Happy Times RV Park and Charlene is afraid she might be next if she doesn’t figure out why. The gig as manager of the park in a small town on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi seemed perfect for a writer trying to find time to write her second book, until a resident is found with his brains splattered on his tacky old couch.

Charlene is not alone, she has people to help her out or maybe get her killed. Gus is a good looking cop with a secret past. Maggie looks like everybody’s idea of a perfect grandma, but Charlene finds out she was once the richest madam in the Dixie Mafia. Dave, who may or may not be on the FBI’s most wanted list, is a ZZ Top look alike with the hots for Paula Deen.

Will secrets from past be the death of her or will Charlene along with Boo, Loretta, and Jinx, her trio of neurotic animals make it out alive?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Carved In Bone

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"The Body Farm" in Knoxville, TN has intrigued me ever since I learned of it in the pages of Patricia Cornwell's book by the same name (Body Farm, #5 in her Kay Scarpetta series). I found it interesting to note that this book is dedicated to Ms. Cornwell. In case you're not familiar with "The Farm", this small wooded patch of land near the University of Tennessee is the home of modern forensic science. When you watch TV or read a book or follow a real-life crime that relies on forensics to determine facts about what has happened to a body that is discovered in an outdoors situation, they are using information that was compiled while watching numerous bodies in various stages of decay when exposed to the elements under the watchful eye of Dr. William Bass. (To learn more about "The Farm" click HERE)

Now Dr. Bass and Jon Jefferson, using the psuedonym of Jefferson Bass, combine their talents and knowledge gleaned from years tending "the Body Farm" to create a spine tingling mystery series. I was absolutely enthralled from page one to the last one. It was a book that I wanted to never end. I wanted to step right into the next mystery and never step out. Intriguing, well-written, fascinating information and interesting characters combined into a story that tingles the spine as well as the mind.

From Amazon:

Renowned anthropologist Dr. Bill Brockton has spent his career surrounded by death at the Body Farm. Now he's being called upon to help solve a baffling puzzle in a remote mountain community. The mummified corpse of a young woman dead for thirty years has been discovered in a cave, the body bizarrely preserved and transformed by the environment's unique chemistry. But Brockton's investigation is threatening to open old wounds among an insular people who won't forget or forgive. And a long-buried secret prematurely exposed could inflame Brockton's own guilt—and the dangerous hostility of bitter enemies determined to see him fail . . . by any means necessary.

A little pricier than some other Kindle books, this series (and I would be willing to assume anything by this "writing team extraordinaire") is definitely worth it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Kindle Book Collection App

If you read on a Kindle Fire you know how exasperating it is to try to scroll through dozens or hundreds (or in my case, thousands) of books for one particular one...or just for something that fits your mood of the day for a good read. I have no idea why the designers of the Kindle Fire (Fire-men?) didn't take the very basic design of the first Kindles and include a way to put books into folders for organization. To me, it seems that anyone who reads knows the importance of having some sort of system in your library. Even if you space your books on a shelf according to the order of height, it's rare to find a home library that doesn't have at least some sort of organization.

I used to find myself reaching for my old keyboard Kindle for reading, simply because of its folders which allowed me to keep my fiction, non-fiction, cookbooks, read, to-read next and others separate.

FINALLY! The folks at Digital Media Revolutions came up with an app for the Kindle that allows you to organize your ebooks into folders. At $2.99 it's a huge bargain, in my opinion.

Amazon says:

Click HERE to order
Book Collections is the app that every Kindle Fire owner has been waiting for!

Now you can organize your books into customizable folders that you can create and rename. You can also edit your book's data and location to keep track of how much you've read. And you can access your books to read directly from the Book Collections app!

Keep in mind that the Kindle Fire's e-reader is unable to remember your location when accessed from third-party apps. Use the BACK arrow button when finished to return to our app and quickly record your location number so you can get return to where you were next time. Also note that books with DRM prevent the app from automatically displaying title and author information, which can be manually added using the Edit function.

Your entire library can be sorted just the way you want it. Visit us at our blog or Facebook page to find free Kindle books and apps!
(Note: I have yet to find Digital Media Revolutions on Facebook OR to be able to find their blog.)

50 Shades of................Romney

Click HERE to order (free now!)
Catching the wave of the popularity of the 50 Shades of Gray trilogy, Tim Young, with tongue firmly entrenched in cheek, titled his expose book on Gov. Romney 50 Shades of Romney: Hint, They're All White. Lest you think I'm making a personal political statement by including this review on a presidential candidate, rest assured that the one focusing on President Obama will be read and reviewed as soon as it's completed. Young says, "I want to let you all know that I'll also be writing one of these on President Obama as well. I actually don't like either one of the candidates."  He adds, "This Presidential election literally pits a President who hasn't accomplished much (insert your excuse here) with the worst challenger in the history of man."

In this election, for the first time since I took that first important step into a polling place with my voter card clutched tightly in hand, I am at a loss as to where to cast my vote. Mr. Young describes my feelings exactly as he sums up his own by saying: "To use a sports analogy, it is like the two worst teams in history are playing each other in a Tuesday daytime game, and it's not free bobblehead day. Those teams could essentially leave the billion-dollar stadium and play on the street and no one would watch."

I can remember my pacifist grandmother standing in her living room door and looking at the wreck that we five grandkids had made of her home while she was in the garden picking peas. Instead of screaming at us, she just stood there shaking her head sadly and saying "Lord have mercy," over and over. I know how she felt when I think about this upcoming election. Have mercy, what a mess.

Although the title makes it sound as if this book is one-sided slanted to the left, it is actually written in a very straight-forward "just the facts" outline. Every fact that is stated is backed up with easily researchable documents (and is dosed with a dash of humor which, just like sugar, makes the medicine go down a bit easier).

Very well-written, this is an easy read, and in my personal opinion,  whether you bow to the donkey or the elephant gosh (neither deserves to be called a "god" the way they've been behaving recently), it should be required reading.

Amazon's description: In his own self-review of this book, the author Tim Young says, "BRILLIANT! This is the snarky, intelligent, and hilarious look into the inconsistencies throughout Mitt Romney’s political career that both Democrats and apathetic Republicans have been waiting for."

Comedian and pundit Tim Young tears apart the 2012 race and analyzes the statements of Mitt Romney in this no-holds barred commentary. He dares to take stabs at everything from Romney’s religious views to his forgetting that he owns guns. In the end, you’ll question why the Republican Party chose Romney as their candidate and even more so, why he is even a Republican

I couldn't have said it better myself. If you plan to vote in November, I strongly suggest you "buy" (it's free at Amazon.com) a copy of this book (AND of the Obama one to follow) for a dash of humor along with the bitter dose of necessary truths.