"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body." Sir Richard Steele

Monday, August 27, 2012

Review of Blood Bonds

Blood Bonds
Levi Montgomery
CreateSpace May 2012
ISBN 9781461115687

   Denny and Mikey were best friends, blood brothers, after being spit brothers as young boys. One day, Mikey is whisked away by his father never to be seen again. Life goes on and Denny grows up and marries the girl he has loved since he was a boy. He remains in his small hometown and works the family farm after his parents die. Many years later, Michael, the blood brother Mikey,  and successful lawyer, returns. Things just aren't what they seem. An evil lurks under the surface just simmering to get out.
   The basic premise behind this story was very good. There is a love story with some drama and evil waiting to get out. The story did not flow very smoothly though. It bounced around in time frame a bit and became a little confusing. It made for a jerky feeling to the story line. There were spots where sentences were duplicated in the same paragraph and spots where words were missing and some spelling errors. It could have used some good editing. For this reason, it kind of turned me off from the story. I had some difficulty getting through the book. I think with some good editing, it could be a really good story. For this reason, I could not give it a higher rating.
   Disclosure: I was provided a copy for reviewing purposes.

I give Blood Bonds 3 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Review of Ethos Morning Star

Ethos Book 1
Morning Star
Desiree Finkbeiner
Hydra Publications June 2012
ISBN 9780615638638

I started doing something different when a book trailer catches my eye and really gives you a synopsis of the book. This one fits the book perfectly, so rather then write it, you can watch it.

Below are some of the pictures from the print version of the book. I am seriously considering buying a print copy of the book. I loved this book and can't wait to read the second one. If I can get a signed copy from the author, I just might do that. 

   This is the first book in the Ethos series; a YA urban/paranormal read that is excellent for any age group. I got caught up in this story from the beginning, and the further along I read, the more I enjoyed it. I had trouble putting it down and the only reason I did was because life just got in the way.
 I have gotten in the habit of reading reviews after I read a book, to see where they stand in relation to what I read. It is very interesting to do this. Sometimes, I wonder what book the person was reading and other times, I am in agreement with the reviewer. The ones that stand out the most are those who are obviously just spouting off for reasons known only to themselves. 
   I do find it interesting when a reviewer gives a review a low rating because they don't like a character. I say, okay! Do you not like a mystery because you don't like the murderer? Well, in this case, I didn't care for our female protagonist, Brianna. I found her sheltered and immature considering she was twenty-one years old. Did this make me not like the book.?Absolutely not! She did grow along the way and came out stronger on the other end. She had episodes of immature behavior throughout; but all in all she did a lot of changing. Kalen, our male protagonist, was an amazing guy. He had strong morals and was committed to his role in life. Eventually, love between him and Brianna wins over and changes the course of events. The story line is well written and flows smoothly throughout. Despite the fact the ending was a bit predictable, it made a wonderful lead in to the next installment. The dragonflies added a unique twist to the story that I absolutely loved. The author has such a way with words and her descriptions make you feel like you are in the gardens and can smell the fragrances all around you. The critters, as I call them, are also quite unique. I am not sure you want to run across one of them on a dark night. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the cover art. I find it absolutely gorgeous. 
   Well, I think you can tell I loved this book and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes a great story, especially if you like fantasy reads. Try it. I don't think you will be disappointed.
   I wish to thank the author for providing a copy for reviewing purposes.

I give Morning Star 5 out of 5 stars

Monday, August 20, 2012

Interview with Desiree Finkbeiner

It is my pleasure to welcome the multi-talented, Desiree Finkbeiner, to my blog today. She is not only a fantastic writer, but she is an illustrator and designer. Please help me welcome her to my blog today.

1- Tell the readers a little bit about yourself.

I'm a mother of 4 children and currently training a micro potbelly pig to certify as an autism therapy animal. So on top of my writing and art, I stay busy constantly.

2- How long have you been writing and what other projects have you completed besides Ethos?

I've been creating little books since I was a child, but wrote my first middle grade novel at age 12. Then spent several years interested in poetry and songwriting (wrote hundreds of songs) and recorded and released seven studio albums as a songwriter. Then took a break for babies till I picked writing back up seriously in 2009. I wrote a 155,000 urban fantasy/crime thriller but set it aside after it didn't pick up any speed with publishers. After joining a critique group, my skills were sharpened and then I hit the keyboard and started writing the Ethos series. Ethos, Morning Star, received three offers for publication within the first couple weeks of submissions. 

I signed with Hydra Publications because the staff was friendly and honest. Aside of the Ethos series, I am also working on a steampunk series called. 'The Elevator'.

3- What was the inspiration for Ethos Morning Star?

It all started with the dragonfly. I developed a plot around something I thought would attract readers based on what was selling well in the art and writing markets, then just gave them my own spin.

Please watch for my review of Ethos Morning Star which will be posted here on my blog tomorrow. I will include the book trailer and some wonderful pics from the print book version.

4- Did you create the art work and the cover design for your book?

I did. First and foremost, I am an illustrator and designer, so I felt it would be a waste not to lend my skills to help package my writing as well.

5- Do you have a WIP? If so, can you tell the us about it?

'The Elevator' is a steampunk sci-fi for young adults that borrows elements from the Matrix, 1984, Inception and City of Ember with a unique twist. Not sure if that helps describe what the story would be like, but my son (who loves sci-fi) is crazy about this story. 
In short: Boy's father and friend goes missing b/c they 'ask too many questions'. Thought crimes are punishable by imprisonment or death. Boy discovers a link with disappearances and these strange 'inspectors' walking around the city with clip boards. He traces them all back to City Hall, where he discovers a strange elevator that seems to be the source of the inspectors. A conspiracy is uncovered that changes everything the boy believes about the world he was born into. No spoilers on where the elevator goes, but he discovers a sinister plot and tries to save his friends and family from what he discovers... before it is too late.

6- I know you worked with a band, do you miss it or do you keep your hand in the business in some way?

The music industry is pretty much a thing of the past. One cannot be 'partially involved' with music it seems. It's all or nothing, and I'd rather devote my creativity to literary arts and visual art. Part of me misses it, but I have found my place in the literary and arts worlds, and I love it! I prefer to just play music for my kids now.

7- Are you still involved with your art work as much as before or has your writing forced you to cut back?

Obviously, I have to divide the time, but the two go hand in hand. I work with a lot of other authors to design book covers and work with the art too... design and promotional materials for my own writing etc. It's like having my own built in designer and publicist.

8- Where can we find your art work?

Here are the various links where you can find Desiree and her work:

Publisher: Hydra Publications (March 28, 2012) www.hydrapublications.com
Author websitewww.finkartstudio.com
Author facebook fanpagewww.facebook.com/finkartstudio
Author twitterhttps://twitter.com/finkart
Author Blog on Bloggerhttp://desireefinkbeiner.blogspot.com/

Monday, August 6, 2012

Review of Deadly Policy

Deadly Policy
A Silver Sleuth Mystery
Mitzi Kelly
Avalon Books 202
ISBN 9780803474734

   A rash of stolen cars brings Millie's daughter and her boss under suspicion because all the cars are insured by their company. Good old Millie convinces her two best friends and neighbors, Edna and Trish, to help her find who is responsible and clear her daughters name. Of course, the chief of police, Henry Espinoza, is not going to help because he is not concerned with car thefts. Millie decides they have to come up with a plan to make him want to help. The problem is, there is no love loss between Millie and the Chief. It will take everything Trish and Edna can do to keep their friend out of trouble and out of the Chief's hair.
   This is the second book in the Silver Sleuth Mystery Series. I read the first one and enjoyed it; but I have to say this one is even better. Millie is the most cantankerous old woman and you just want to choke her at times. She is, however, true to a fault and would do anything to protect her family and friends. She has a mouth that won't quit and storms ahead with no thought to her actions. She will have you laughing out loud. Trish is a bit of a whip, but she can't take charge worth a hoot. Edna is sweet and soft spoken and has absolutely no backbone. They are the three most unlikely friends you would ever want to meet. Add in the fact they go off like a trio of inept investigators, and a police chief who would like to strangle Millie and you have a humorous, totally unbelievable mystery. On the other hand, it becomes so ridiculous it is funny and believable. If you enjoy a funny and outrageous mystery, you will love this one. It is a no brainer read that will give you a great deal to smile about. Makes for a wonderful afternoon read with a good cup of tea. I highly recommend it.
   Disclosure: I was provided a copy for reviewing purposes.

I give Deadly Policy 5 out of 5 stars

Interview with Amanda McNeil and a Review of Waiting for Daybreak

It is my pleasure to welcome author, Amanda McNeil, to my blog today. She is her today to answer some questions for us and promote her book Waiting for Daybreak. Lets get started.

Amanda is an energetic, masters degree educated, 20-something happily living in an attic apartment in Boston with her shelter-adopted cat.  She writes sci-fi, horror, urban fantasy, literary fiction, and paranormal romance.  She has previously published short stories and a novella.

1- Tell the readers a little about yourself.
I grew up in Vermont and moved to Boston about 7 years ago.  My interest in everything and anything naturally led me into librarianship, and a late-blooming passion for health care and science funneled me into medical librarianship.  When I’m not working or writing, I’m working out, playing video games, cooking, or exploring Boston.  Ok, ok, and snuggling my kitty.

2- Have you always wanted to be a writer? How and when did you get started?
Absolutely, writing has always been my passion.  When I was very little, four or five, I wrote, illustrated, and bound my own book about a grasshopper.  Since then, I’ve always written, although when I finished graduate school was when I became more strict with myself about goals and time spent on it and such.

3- Can you tell us about the Mental Illness Advocacy Reading Challenge you are involved with. How did it come about and what exactly is it?
Well, actually, I’m more than involved with it--I created it!  At the time I was working for a psychiatric medical library, and I was becoming more involved in fighting stigma.  I’d seen other reading challenges around other book blogs focusing on removing stigma and supporting other minority groups, such as GLBTQ or people of color.  I looked and didn’t find one at all for mental illness, so I created the Mental Illness Advocacy Reading Challenge.

The challenge basically asks readers to choose a level (4, 8, or 12) and then read books, fiction or nonfiction, featuring a person or persons with a mental illness but who are not demonized.  The hope is that the power of reading to open us up to other worlds and viewpoints will help people understand mental illness better and remove some of the stigma.  Additionally, for those who have a mental illness, the reading challenge seeks to provide them with some comfort by seeing themselves featured in books.  I offer up a list of recommended reads sorted by illness to help folks get started.

4- I know you started a new job in March of this year. Tell us what it is and what does it entail?
I’m an education and information services medical librarian at a library that supports one of Boston’s medical schools, as well as that school’s teaching hospital.  My job is incredibly varied and interesting.  I spend a lot of time helping medical students learn how to do medical research, but I also help school of public health students conduct their research and prepare for their comprehensive exams, teach residents strategies for Evidence-Based Medicine, teach dental students strategies for Evidence-Based Dentistry, and lots more teaching!  I also spend time working in reference, and on the weekend I supervise work-study students and help keep the circulation department running smoothly.  I also do a lot of one-on-one reference sessions.

5- Tell us about your fitspo tumblr and how it got started.
It’s not really a fitspo tumblr, so much as a tumblr.  It has a lot of fitspo on it, but it also features other things that I just randomly find interesting or humorous, like quotes, links, memes, etc...  I originally started the tumblr as a place to keep the quotes from books I’m reading, but once I actually had my tumblr established, I discovered these large communities of feminists, veg*ns, and fitspo folks, and it exploded from there.  Tumblr is really quite fascinating.  I highly recommend people try it out for themselves.

6- Do you have a WIP? If so, can you tell us about it?
Indeed I do!  I’m using the dark fantasy setting of a Boston taken over by the dark gods of Lovecraftian fame to examine sibling relationships.  I’m quite excited, as it will be my first book told from multiple perspectives.

7- What types of books do you like to read and why?
I read around 50/50 nonfiction and fiction.  My nonfiction reads either support my hobbies like cookbooks for cooking or fitness books for working out or they’re educating me about a topic I’ve found I’m not so educated on or that I find interesting.  I go through definite phases in my nonfiction reading.  Last year, I read a lot on black women’s history.  This year, I’m reading more history of public health style books.  I also read a lot of memoirs.

My fiction reading focuses largely on genre books--scifi, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, historical fiction, and graphic novels in all of those categories.  I guess the why is that I’d rather be in a fantastical world that is unlike our own rather than read a book set in a world just like the one we live in.

8- What do you do for fun and relaxation?
Ha ha, well, I’m honestly not very good at relaxing.  I like to be constantly busy.  So, when I’m not working at my real, grown-up librarian job, I’m: working out, writing, reading, blogging, cooking, going to events in Boston, playing with my cat, hanging out with my friends, playing video games.  I reiterate that I fail epically at relaxation, although I am working on it. Yes, I’m working at relaxing.....

Thank you for having me, Eva! 

Blurb from Waiting for Daybreak

What is normal?

Frieda has never felt normal.  She feels every emotion too strongly and lashes out at herself in punishment.  But one day when she stays home from work too depressed to get out of bed, a virus breaks out turning her neighbors into flesh-eating, brain-hungry zombies.  As her survival instinct kicks in keeping her safe from the zombies, Frieda can’t help but wonder if she now counts as healthy and normal, or is she still abnormal compared to every other human being who is craving brains?

Review of Waiting for Daybreak

Waiting for Daybreak
Amanda McNeil
June 2012
Kindle Edition

   Freida has never felt normal. She feels everything deeply and has a habit of hurting herself when she feels really depressed. One day after an unusually bad night, she stays home from work. A virus breaks out and the world has turned into a bunch of zombies. She is not sure if she is normal compared to the rest of the world or abnormal because she doesn't eat brains like the rest of them.
   This is a rather unique take on the world of zombies. Inside of this story is the author's reading challenge for the mentally ill. I am not sure I said this correctly; but this book would probably fit into her reading challenge list. Freida has a bit of low self-esteem and suffers from bouts of depression where she does herself harm to punish herself when she does wrong. I won't go into the method because that would be a spoiler. Despite her depression, she takes charge of things and manages to survive the zombie outbreak. She learns to make do with the things she has and even creates a garden for herself on the roof top  of where she lives. The first part of the book is basically about her survival. The second half is a bit of a love story about her meeting another survivor of the virus. It is not clear immediately, but Mike obviously has some mental handicap also. Freida  is exceedingly happy because she now has another human being in which to live with in the horrible situation they find themselves.  Life does not always turn out the way we want it to. It is not always happily ever after. The ending is quite the turn of events. Read for yourself to see what happens. As I said, this is a unique zombie tale, but well worth the read. I think you will be quite surprised.
   Disclosure: I was provided a copy for reviewing purposes.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars



Saturday, August 4, 2012

Review of A School in the Country

A School in the Country
Jillian R Mann
Reardon Publishing 2011
ISBN 1874192529

   This book shows the reader the development of education in rural England during the 19th and 20th centuries. It mainly focuses on the Didbrook School and the changes in the education system and society of the times. There is much more to this little book then that; but is a historical record of sorts written by Jillian Mann, who was brought up around Didbrook and attended the school like her parents , uncle, two sisters and a brother.
   This is not my usual type of read , but I found this book thoroughly engrossing. I read this book in one sitting. It was quite fascinating to follow the development of this school and how it changed over the years. Didbrook amalgamated with Stanway School in 1921. In July of 2008 it closed and amalgamated with Toddington School and reopened in September 2008 as Isbourne Valley School. Since I am not familiar with the school system in England, it was quite interesting to see the curriculum changes through the years, as well as, the school structure in general. I realize this is a small rural school; but it was fascinating to read about a school that has so few students on its roll. The number varied but we are talking the neighborhood of 60 students. Compare this to one of our local schools that has 500 in a graduating class. There was a tremendous amount of research done for this book. Anyone interested in this sort of reading will find it quite informative. I might also add that there are many historical pictures included throughout the book. All in all, an excellent book.
   Disclosure: I wish to thank Nicholas Reardon of Reardon Publishing, England, for providing me with a copy of the book. It will most definitely remain in my library.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.


Review of The Willows

The Willows
Krystal George
April 2012
Kindle Edition

   Evelyn Magwire's life changes in the blink of an eye. Her parents are killed in an accident and her world is turned upside down. She can't feel anything. Her friends start to avoid her and her brothers are worried about her. She just wants to be left alone. Next, the unthinkable happens and she has to pull herself together because she is determined to find out what really happened to her missing brother. As time goes on, Evie is pulled deeper and deeper into the darkness. Will she be able to resist or will she give into the temptation?
   What would you do if you woke up one morning and found out that vampires really do exist? This is sort of what happens to Evie. She is not the best person for this to happen to. I found her a bit fickle and scattered. In the course of this book, she is drawn to four different guys. She goes from being a rather nasty person when her parents die to being this semi take charge person in the end. This is basically a good story and has lots of potential. I enjoyed the book quite a bit; but I found it lacking as compared to the authors other books I have read. There were instances while reading that I felt like there were pieces missing from the story. It didn't flow well in spots to get from point A to point B. I almost had the impression the writer wanted to get the story finished. If you like a different take on vampires or just like the paranormal and fantasy, I would recommend you checking it out. I did enjoy the story, but I was a tad disappointed in the presentation of the story.
   Disclosure: I was provided a copy for reviewing purposes.

I give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars