Friday, February 17, 2017

The Amish Groom by Mindy Starns Clark & Susan Meissner

Born to an ex-Amish mother and an Englisch father, 23-year-old Tyler Anderson was raised as a military kid until the age of 6, when his mom passed away. His dad, shipping off to yet another overseas post, placed Tyler in the care of his Amish grandparents, an arrangement that was supposed to be temporary. It lasted a lifetime.
Rachel Hoeck is the young woman waiting for Tyler’s proposal. She senses that though he loves her and wishes to make a commitment to her and his Amish beliefs, part of him still wonders whether an Amish lifestyle is truly for him.
When an opportunity to connect with his father unexpectedly arises, a visit to California causes Tyler to question everything, including a future with Rachel. Will the new girl in his life, Lark, cause him to remain in the Englisch world? Or will he choose to be an Amish groom after all?

After just finishing the Women of Lancaster County, I was excited to delve into the Men of Lancaster County. I was caught off-guard right away because the book is told from the man's viewpoint. Uncommon, but not unheard of and frankly a nice change of pace.

Tyler was born to an Amish mother and a military father.  When his mother dies when he is young, he is taken in by his Amish grandparents while his dad finished his tours in the military.  After time passes, his dad has remarried and had another son. It's at this time he gives Tyler the option to return with him or continue being raised with his grandparents. Tyler is still a child but he decides to remain where he is.

Many years forward, Tyler still hasn't joined the church because he feels like he is missing something. Even though he loves Rachel, he can't commit to marrying her until he joins the church. He prays to God to give him a sign of what to do. His answer is his dad calling from California needing someone to sit with Tyler's younger brother while he is away on business.

This time gives Tyler the chance to experience life without his community. He's hoping it will give him more time to spend with his brother and maybe give him the answers he is seeking.  But there are several curveballs thrown into Tyler's orderly plan and he will need to follow his heart and his faith to find what he is looking for.

A great addition to the Lancaster series. I really enjoyed seeing Tyler in the English and the Amish world and how he acted/reacted in both.  The characters were all believable and the story moved along at a good pace. I look forward to reading the next installment in this series.  

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Wendy

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Universe Builders: Bernie and the Lost Girl: (The Universe Builders 0.5) by Steve LeBel

Fear holds God Town in its icy grip. A child has disappeared... 

Desperate to find little Emily, the town begins an exhaustive search. By the second day, fear grows that the little girl may be lost forever. Only the woods remain to be searched. But the gods are so afraid of the woods, they will not venture there - not even to save the young girl's life. 

Armed with nothing but courage and a magical stick, Bernie and his friends, Suzie and Lenny, are the only ones willing to enter the shadowy world. They discover dangers and terrifying monsters. It will take a miracle to save them, and even that may not be enough... 

This is the prequel to The Universe Builders: Bernie and the Putty, that won 16 awards for excellence. 

I found this book to be a very good read.  It gave a lot of insight into the world of the gods, which is what drew me into the story.  There was a brief time about half way through the book that I thought the story line slowed down, maybe even a bit repetitive.  At the three quarter mark, though, the pace picked back up and actually got really intense.

This story also drew me in when a young girl went missing and one god decided to show courage doing what no one else was willing to do.  My favorite charcter is actually part of the main character.  It is a cloud which Bernie named Chaos.  I enjoyed Chaos so much, because as much trouble it caused Bernie, it was also a very big help when needed.  Overall, I would recommend The Universe Builders to any young adult or anyone looking for a good, quick read.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  William

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra

This stunning, exquisitely written collection introduces a cast of remarkable characters whose lives intersect in ways both life-affirming and heartbreaking. A 1930s Soviet censor painstakingly corrects offending photographs, deep underneath Leningrad, bewitched by the image of a disgraced prima ballerina. A chorus of women recount their stories and those of their grandmothers, former gulag prisoners who settled their Siberian mining town. Two pairs of brothers share a fierce, protective love. Young men across the former USSR face violence at home and in the military. And great sacrifices are made in the name of an oil landscape unremarkable except for the almost incomprehensibly peaceful past it depicts. In stunning prose, with rich character portraits and a sense of history reverberating into the present, The Tsar of Love and Techno is a captivating work from one of our greatest new talents.

In his brilliant collection of short stories, The Tsar of Love and Techno, Anthony Marra peels back the layers of Russian life to reveal a collection of people that is unforgettable.  Moving from the Russia of 1937 to the Russia of the future, Marra manages to make this collection about more than just heartbreak and loss, joy and triumph.  He makes Russia herself a star of each short story, illuminating her turbulent past, her harsh present, and her hopeful future.

         The stories in the collection could each stand alone, but characters appear in one story and are then referenced in future stories as well.  These vignettes capture the Russian life that each individual character experiences, as well as their interactions with each other.  As the stories move through time, you get to see a fuller picture of the lives that are affected by various events. 
         Many of the stories have a militaristic lean, with references to the Soviet system that resulted in heartbreak for families, violent skirmishes, and the pillaging of rich land.  The stories are nuanced, but yet simple, and provide the reader with insight into the human condition even in harsh circumstances.

         Since the characters reappear throughout the stories, The Tsar of Love and Techno reads a bit like a novel.  I found this welcoming, as I am not typically a fan of short story collections. None of the stories were clunkers.  The first, “The Leopard”, about a Soviet censor, sets the tone for the rest of the stories.  I loved it and knew, while reading it, that I was reading the work of a magnificent writer.  Another favorite, “A Prisoner of the Caucasus” concerns two prisoners who were thrown in a pit.  Though I have only studied Russia up through the Revolution, I found these stories provided rich context for understanding and empathy for the Russian people.  The later stories, while still compelling and readable, were not as touching as the earlier stories.

         I cannot recommend The Tsar of Love and Techno highly enough.  It is a masterpiece and my review does not do it justice.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Regina

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Bloodmark (Bloodmark Saga #1) by Aurora Whittet

Sixteen-year-old werewolf princess Ashling Boru is different from other wolves—she was able to shift to wolf form at birth. Rather than bringing pride to her family, it brings fear, and as a result, she is forced to live in seclusion in Ireland’s countryside. Ashling’s reputation is further blackened when she refuses her betrothed and defies the ancient laws. When her pack’s oldest rivals begin hunting her, she finds herself in the small town of York Harbor, Maine—far from everything she’s ever known. 

In Maine, she crosses paths with the dark and rebellious Grey Donavan, and something ignites within her soul. There’s just one problem: Grey is human. Their instant connection turns into a passionate romance, and Ashling begins to believe she can create her own life outside of wolf laws. When she begins to uncover long-buried pack secrets—secrets that threaten to destroy all she holds dear—Ashling’s courage and tenacity are tested. Will she choose her deep and enduring love for Grey, or will she follow Old Mother’s path to her destiny? 

The characters in this book are very relatable. I found myself connecting to each one on a different level from the last. My heart felt for Ashling throughout the book and her story. I would love to say she was my favorite character because of her strength and determination to be loved and feel loved. She was not, however. 
My favorite character was in fact Grey. Grey was magical to me in that he fought every step of the way to be with Ashling  no matter the danger to himself. Once I really started reading this book I didn't want to put it down. I can't wait to start reading the other books in the series.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. April M.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Obsidious by Lucas Pederson

Sometimes, the membranes between worlds thins and something slips through… 

Taking their kids on a hunting trip to Maker's Woods, Sergeant Kris Jensen and her Special Ops friends, Brooke and Melanie, soon realize they are the ones being hunted. 

When one of the kids goes missing they search the area, finding a nest with ravenous creatures that move very fast and bend light to appear invisible. But the creatures aren't the only danger. One of Kris's friends gets black goo on her and becomes infected with and obsidious interdimensional spore. 

As a covert military base sends out units to neutralize the interdimensional threat, Kris, her son, the kids, and friends fight to survive against an enemy ripped from a loved one that will stop at nothing to infect them and overrun our world with its offspring. 

Kris battles the ultimate nightmare. One that refuses to end and might ultimately destroy her and the entire human race.

Obsidious has been a great book to read.  This story had me so enthralled that I couldn't put it down.  Infact as I was reading it, it felt as though I was watching it on a bigscreen.  I felt like I could relate to parts of the book, mainly in the beginning. For example, the relationship Kris has with her son, just seemed like the same way my son and I enter act to each other. 

 Overall this was a very well written book and I truly hope that Mr.Pederson continues this story into another book.  I would definitely recommend Obsidious to anyone who is into young adult or science fiction books and wants a quick, great read. Thank you Mr. Pederson for such a fantastic read.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. William 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Lost But Not Forgotten Smarter Activity Books Review

I did this book with my 7 year old. The pages are set up with random images on every page. In a circle there are 5 objects to find on each page. There are a total of 24 activities with the answers located in the back of the book.

Some of these objects can be tricky to find. For instance there may be a dolphin to find but upon closely looking there may be 4 dolphins on the page. The dolphin may be a different color or have the tail the incorrect way. It makes it a little more challenging for the kids.

This book is great for getting your child to think and search. My child has done the whole book 4 times in a 1 week span and he still has to look for the objects every time. This is a book where the mind keeps working and the child has fun over and over again.

If you are considering buying this book there is a misprint in it. Activity 18, 19 and 20 has the answers on the pages. Then in the answers part at the back of the book it is the regular pages for 18, 19, and 20 instead of the answers.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Knevits

Friday, February 3, 2017

Treasure Island by Phillip Tomasso III

A virus similar to the Black Death outbreak has struck England. Mrs. Hawkins soon learns there are things worse than death. The dead have come back to life, and they are hungry.

Jim Hawkins is on his way home with treasure in the belly of the Hispaniola. Captain Smollett is back in charge of the ship, and Long John Silver has agreed to stand trial at home, if only for the chance to make it home.

Wanting only to save his mother and seek sanctuary, Jim realizes survival comes down to instinct and sacrifice in this continuation of Stevenson’s timeless classic, Treasure Island …

I myself found Treasure Island: A Zombie Novella, to be a great read. Although to me it started off a little slow, it did however pick up real quick about a quarter of the way in to the book. I personally enjoyed reading about Jim Hawkins and how much of a man he has become, along with Long John Silver helping him on this grand adventure. 

Phillip Tomasso has done a great job of captivating the readers mind by only giving the reader so much at a time and then leaving you wanting more. I personally would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a classic story with a twist.

 Phillip Tomasso is the Amazon Best-selling author of The Vaccination Trilogy, and more then eleven other novels. He works full time as a Fire/EMS Dispatcher for 911. He lives with his three kids in Rochester, NY, where he is at work on many novels. 

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Bill