Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin

The Bourne Identity meets Divergent in this heart-pounding debut.

Sixteen-year-old Sarah has a rare chance at a new life. Or so the doctors tell her. She’s been undergoing a cutting-edge procedure that will render her a tabula rasa—a blank slate. Memory by memory her troubled past is being taken away.

But when her final surgery is interrupted and a team of elite soldiers invades the isolated hospital under cover of a massive blizzard, her fresh start could be her end. 

Navigating familiar halls that have become a dangerous maze with the help of a teen computer hacker who's trying to bring the hospital down for his own reasons, Sarah starts to piece together who she is and why someone would want her erased. And she won’t be silenced again.

A high-stakes thriller featuring a non-stop race for survival and a smart heroine who will risk everything, Tabula Rasa is, in short, unforgettable.

Tabula Rasa is a thrilling read that got better the deeper into the story I delved.  At first, I didn't understand what was going on with Sarah, the who, the what, the why? Until the author revealed Sarah's past and why she was having her memory removed in the top secret facility.  I was frustrated until that point, honestly. 

However, once I was able to connect the dots from her past to her present, the story immediately had my full attention.  There are some crazy action sequences, a splash of romance, a bird's eye view of the human psych as they make choices in unimaginable situations and more, but the story is propelled forward consistently.

There are new characters sprinkled as the story unfolds and this adds some much needed relief to Sarah, who I really didn't connect with.  She didn't question enough, she just took what was going on at face value.  Granted, there are a few times that she aches for memories and wants to know the answers to many questions, but there were many instances that I felt she didn't fight hard for them, not until the end. The ending is the best part of the novel, as all questions are resolved, in a least expected way.  I did despise the villain, but I found it hard to empathize with the heroine, no matter how sad her plight. If you're looking for a new take on young adult syfy- this may be for you!

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

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Doppler Affect by Shawn H. Phillips

Shapeshifters Control Our Lives!

The frightening power of vampires, werewolves, and lycanthropes has lived within our nightmares for centuries, failing to be reasoned out by the rapid advances in science and technology. The truth is that they are very much a part of our reality. However, they are merely the genetically inferior offspring of a more powerful race, known as doppelgangers, who evolved alongside humankind. These shapeshifters adopted a secretive yet manipulative approach when dealing with us, feeding off the sexual desires of men to sustain their society…until desperate times forced a new order.

Christopher Sands, a rising investment banker, was just another victim in a long list of doppelganger schemes. Framed for a crime he wouldn’t commit and watching his family fade farther and farther from his prison bars, Chris makes an unbelievable discovery; shapeshifters aren’t the only race with supernatural abilities. Can he find the strength to accept an even worse fate than prison to not only save his son, but all humankind? Will Michael Sands be able to control the spirits that haunt him to finish what his father cannot?

This novel brings to life the ultimate conspiracy theory, which states aliens walk among us and are even among the elite powers of the United States. In this novel, based on females morphing in to a male to control places of power within the United States, the story revolves around a matriarch society’s quest to take over humankind.  The basis of the book wasn't terrible. It made for an intriguing story line and created enough suspense and action to make it an enjoyable read.

I had difficulty really delving into the storyline. Many of the events seemed as though they were underdeveloped. I would have liked the search for the truth take up a little more room on the pages. The mystery surrounding the dopplegangers seemed just briefly touched upon, even though it was the best part of the story. I enjoyed the investigation and the chasing of clues much more than the fighting and sex scenes, which, for me, were overdone. Another issue I had while reading, was feeling disconnected from the characters. Reading the book seemed more like I was watching a movie with the interesting background on the characters rushed. I don’t feel I really had any more insight in to the characters than I would have if I had watched the movie based on the book.  

Overall, I would label this a decent book. The story, while maybe not unique, was gripping and had enough tension and energy to keep me interested. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a nice paranormal thriller which is also a quick read. 

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Daena
*Guest Reviewer from Literary Litter

Friday, September 19, 2014

Slow Hand by Victoria Vane - Spotlight & Giveaway!

Slow Hand
By Victoria Vane
Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN: 9781492601128
November 4, 2014
Contemporary Western Romance
Hot Cowboy Nights, Book 1

In rural Montana…
Wade Knowlton is a hardworking lawyer who’s torn between his small-town Montana law practice and a struggling family ranch. He’s on the brink of exhaustion from trying to save everybody and everything, when gorgeous Nicole Powell walks into his office. She’s a damsel in distress and the breath of fresh air he needs.
Even the lawyers wear boots…
Nicole Powell is a sassy Southern girl who has officially sworn off cowboys after a spate of bad seeds—until her father’s death sends her to Montana and into the arms of a man who seems too good to be true. Her instincts tell her to high tail it out of Montana, but she can't resist a cowboy with a slow hand…
Victoria Vane is a multiple award-winning romance novelist and history junkie whose collective works of fiction range from wildly comedic romps to emotionally compelling erotic romance. Victoria also writes historical fiction as Emery Lee and is the founder of Goodreads Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers and the Romantic Historical Lovers book review blog.
Social Media:
Website | Facebook | @AuthorVictoriaV | Goodreads | Pinterest
Amazon | Apple | B&N | BAM | !ndigo | IndieBound
Enter to win a copy of Slow Hand by Victoria Vane - 2 WINNERS!

Almost Royalty: A Romantic Comedy...of Sorts by Courtney Hamilton

Courtney Hamilton is a Velveeta-loving attorney driven to distraction by a city that seethes with soul-sucking status seekers. When her friend Marcie formulates an impossibly detailed rating system for acceptable men--the Los Angeles Eco-Chain of Dating--Courtney goes on a self-destructive binge that doesn’t stop until she gets thrown out of group therapy for insulting a former child actress.

Courtney is mortified as she watches her best friends give up stellar careers in law and the arts to marry entertainment royalty and civilian overachievers. Worse, they expect Courtney to do the same. So they hatch plots to get her to give up her career, break her addiction to fake cheese, marry into high-orbit wealth and rule the stratosphere alongside them.

But Courtney resists. She doesn’t want to be a poster child for the Opt-Out Generation. And she certainly doesn’t want to be molded into date bait for the top rung of L.A. society. All Courtney wants is to be left alone so she can search beneath the surface for a meaningful life. But between a meddling, narcissistic mother, a self-absorbed therapist and friends trying to send her to dating re-education camps, it seems that fake cheese is the only genuine thing left in the city. Social ambition combats self-actualization in this biting tale of one woman’s search for certainty in a city full of mirages.

   As I started reading the first chapter I was instantly hooked and couldn’t wait to get further into the novel. The first thing I loved was the way there was a chart of who’s dateable and who isn’t dateable which is called “Eco-Chain of Dating” in the book.  Each chapter in the book had a subtitle included (i.e. 10—How I Can Be More Perfect Than You.) I noticed that the subtitle of the chapter was what the author was dealing with at that point and in an offhand sort of way it gives the reader a little piece of wisdom as well.  

     At first I thought it was a work of fiction and once I read the back of the book a second time I realized that it was a memoir of Ms. Hamilton’s life. I thought there were a few areas in the book that made me laugh, but there were other areas that I felt aggravation and frustration at other people in Ms. Hamilton’s life. I couldn’t stand the author’s mom and I found most of her friends to be a tad on the “bitchy” and self-centered side of things. I thought Courtney Hamilton should have gotten some better friends.  

     I found the chapters to be a little long, but once I got halfway through the first chapter I didn’t really notice how long they were anymore. Overall I found this book to be a wonderful read and I think it will give readers a glimpse into how women try to be “Hollywood Royalty” and what they are willing to do to get there. I give Ms. Hamilton and Almost Royalty an “A.”

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

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Dash by Kirby Larson

  Part of what makes historical fiction so wonderful for kids to read is that they can learn so much about the past in an entertaining way.  Dash, by Kirby Larson, does a great job taking a true story about Japanese internment camps and making the history accessible and fun for young readers.
            Mitsi is a normal fifth grader living with her family in Seattle.  She has two best friends and a beloved pet—a dog named Dash. Though her Japanese heritage is important to Mitsi and her family, it becomes a liability when Pearl Harbor is bombed.  She is shunned at school, and her family is relocated to an internment camp.  Larson excels at describing how these camps are a great departure from normal, stable family life.  The unpalatable food, the cramped quarters, and the lack of privacy are well described, as is the sense of isolation and confusion that Mitsi felt.  At the heart of this sadness is that Mitsi had to leave her beloved dog, Dash, with a neighbor after failing to get permission to keep him in the camp.           
            The impact of internment on the family is clearly outlined.  Mitsi’s brother falls in with a rough crowd, and he learns how to make money in the camp.  Her father is forced to make all of he furniture that his family needs, and Mitsi’s mother draws near to other women for emotional support.  Mitsi finds a friend in the camp and sets out to get enough money from delivering messages to buy a locket to keep Dash’s picture in.
            At the heart of this story is the true historical record.  Just like in real life, the neighbor who kept Dash wrote letters to Mitsi from Dash’s viewpoint.  The letters are sweet and serve to lessen the loneliness of a girl treated so unfairly.
            Dash is a novel about the power of goodness and kindness.  In addition, it illustrates a part of history that middle grade readers should learn about.  The time period comes alive in Lawson’s capable hands and kids will read about the great games, candy, and clothes popular during the 1940s.
            Sweet and easy read for kids 7-12.
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Regina

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Act of War (Scot Harvath #13) by Brad Thor

After a CIA agent mysteriously dies overseas, his top asset surfaces with a startling and terrifying claim. There's just one problem -- no one knows if she can be trusted. But when six exchange students go missing, two airplane passengers trade places, and one political-asylum seeker is arrested, a deadly chain of events is set in motion.

With the United States facing an imminent and devastating attack, America's new president must turn to covert counterterrorism operative Scot Harvath to help carry out two of the most dangerous operations in the country's history. Code-named "Gold Dust" and "Blackbird," they are shrouded in absolute secrecy as either of them, if discovered, will constitute an act of war.

This books tells the story of China’s plan for an all out attack on the US in order to take over the country for our resources. It was only by chance that the US government was able to find out that there was such a plan but not what the actual plan of attack was going to be. The best resources were quickly put into play in not only finding who was behind this plan but exactly what the plan of attack entailed. 

I don’t want to give too much away since part of the pleasure of reading this book was trying to discover the master plan along with the characters. Although the story is based on fiction, anyone who follows current events understands how closely the story can be to reality. The author does a great job of inserting enough real information to make everything sound valid. 

The story takes the reader all over the world including China, Hong Kong, Washington D.C., and Dubai. There is even a side story of a group of SEALs going behind enemy lines in North Korea. It’s a very smart thriller and all you can hope for is that it never comes true because the rational that the author uses makes such an event very plausible. It will definitely make you pay closer attention to the news after reading this book!  

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

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

   I was really excited to find out that I was getting a copy of this book to read and provide a review for. Although this book is intended for young adults and I am older than twenty-two, I thought this story would be a wonderful change from most books I have read lately.

 From this first page I was instantly hooked on this novel and the two main characters of the book (“Eleanor” and “Park”.) As I was reading the story I was instantly taken back to when I was in high school and how it felt to be at that age and go through everything a teen goes through. This book reminded me of Romeo & Juliet but set in modern day and much more interesting for today’s teens.  

     I was able to read this book within two days; the chapters were short and the way Ms. Rowell wrote the story was wonderful and easy to read. This is the second the book I have read of Ms. Rowell’s and this book is by far better than the first one. I give Eleanor & Park an “A+” and Rainbow Rowell an “A+” as well.

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

Monday, September 15, 2014

Chu's First Day of School by Neil Gaiman

After reading a board book starring Chu, an adorable panda, I was eager to read Chu’s First Day of School.  In this picture book, Neil Gaiman and Adam Rex, send Chu to school for the first time.  Will his sneezing troubles ruin his first day?
            Like all children (including those of the panda variety), Chu is worried about the other kids at school and whether or not they will like him.  His parents assure him that they will, but Chu is not so sure.  Each one of the children (really animals) at school, tell their names and one think that they love to do.  The giraffe and the monkey have no problem saying what they like to do.  Neither do the robin or the hippopotamus.  But when they get to Chu, all he can do is let out one colossal sneeze!  Of course, this wreaks havoc on the classroom, but everyone still likes Chu.  He is able to tell his parents what a great first day he had.
            I really liked this book for several reasons.  One, it deals with the back to school anxiety that many children deal with, and it reassures them that they will be accepted and loved at school.  In addition, I love that the animals, representing the students, are all different and are able to tell what makes them special.  Promoting diversity from an early age is always something positive.  Finally, this book encourages children to look to their parents for reassurance and guidance.
            Chu’s First Day of School would make a great addition to any child’s library, and I highly recommend it for teachers and parents to read especially around back to school time.  Fantastic!
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Regina