Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Lost Dogs by Kenton Kilgore

Buddy--a German Shepherd--and Sally--a Beagle/Basset Hound mix--are the beloved pets of Rob and Gennifer Bennett and their young daughter Audrey. Their home is Kent Island, MD: a beautiful, peaceful place, good for raising a family, good for having dogs. 

When unearthly beings strike without warning or mercy against humankind, Buddy and Sally lose the ones they love and the lives they knew. Now they must band together with other "lost dogs" to find food, water, and shelter without their masters. 

But survival is not enough for Buddy: he holds out hope that Rob, Genn, and Audrey live. And that he can find them before inhuman forces ensure that man is never again Earth's master.

fter reading The Dragon Tamer's Daughter, I was really excited to get a hold of Kilgore's newest book.  I loved his writing style and story telling before and was avidly looking forward to more of the same.  Instead of reading the story line, I plunged right in and found myself immediately fascinating with a new Kilgore world once again.

Let me start by saying that I'm not what one would consider a 'dog person.'  I know several of them and while I have no issue with them, I am not the person to look at the picture of the Dachsund in a purse and say 'Awww!'  Dogs are great, but not one of my 'aw' weaknesses.  However, in this book, it made no difference.  The dogs, while clearly depicted as dogs, have been humanized enough to make it easy to empathize and comprehend them.  They still retain their dogginess, down to their descriptions and thought patterns and even language.  

I think if I'd have read the description before I started, I would have considered it a 'dog book' or 'dog sci fi'.  It really isn't though.  It's apocalyptical.  Think Walking Dead meets Watership Down.  We have this wonderful cast of characters who happen to be dogs.  Most of humanity has disappeared and now they're left alone, confused, and in a world that doesn't support them the way it used to.  Not only that, there's such a loss of sense of purpose.  While we're taking the journey with these dogs, we feel the same sense of loss and urgency that they do.  I'll admit that there were several points in the book where I cried my little eyes out.  This is a touching and tormenting tale of an alien invasion from the dogs' point of view.

Kilgore definitely kept me happy with his writing style and storytelling once again.  I found myself unable to tear myself away from the pages.  I was so lost in his world that I felt a bit jolted when I was forced to return to reality.  Once I'd finished, I felt rubbed raw from emotion, but at the same time oddly satisfied.  This is not a 'tie it up in pretty ribbons' book.  Given the situation in the book, there are bound to be some dirty and gritty parts, and it's all a part of the ride. 

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

Monday, November 10, 2014

Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn

On a cool autumn night, Annaliese Rose Gordon stumbled out of the woods and into a high school party. She was screaming. Drenched in blood. Then she vanished.

A year later, Annaliese is found wandering down a road hundreds of miles away. She doesn't know who she is. She doesn't know how she got there. She only knows one thing: She is not the real Annaliese Rose Gordon.

Now Annaliese is haunted by strange visions and broken memories. Memories of a reckless, desperate wish . . . a bloody razor . . . and the faces of other girls who disappeared. Piece by piece, Annaliese's fractured memories come together to reveal a violent, endless cycle that she will never escape—unless she can unlock the twisted secrets of her past. 

 This is one of the best suspense books I have read in quite a while! I read the summary of the story on the back cover and I couldn’t wait to start reading this story. By the 2nd chapter I was instantly hooked on the story and it felt like I couldn’t get enough of the characters and the plot. Before I knew it 3 ½ hours had passed from when I started the book and I was on chapter “Popping.” Another Little Piece is an edge of your seat read that I think anyone; man or woman, would enjoy and love to read! I really like “Annaliese” I felt like she was sure of herself, but at the same time she wasn’t sure of anyone else around her; especially her friends. I felt a little bad for “Annaliese’s” friends, because they were uncertain whether to believe her about her identity or not. By the end of Another Little Piece I was really surprised at the twist; I kept thinking I knew what would or was going to happen and then I would keep reading and I would be proven wrong each time.  

     I love the way Ms. Quinn wrote and put this book together; she made it hard to put the book down from the very beginning. I loved the main character and I especially loved the name she used for that character; “Annaliese” is different and a very pretty name, I like that she used to different name than what a lot of authors use for names. I enjoyed the way each chapter had a poem before it continued with the main part, but I found it a little confusing with the way some of the parts of the book were put together (i.e. Silence is Golden/Two Names/Make It Right.) Those were parts of one chapter and I found it to be that way through the entire novel, I felt that there shouldn’t have been that many sub-sections within the chapters. I’m glad the chapters were short and I found that it was rather easy to get through a lot of chapters fairly fast.  

     Since this is a novel geared more towards teens I think that will help keep them more interested and willing to get through the entire book. I would love to see an entire series based around the “Annaliese” character; I think it would be great to see everything that has happened prior to this story and even a few books on what she does after this one. I highly recommend this novel to men and women, mainly women from ages 15-50! Although this is Ms. Quinn’s first novel I think she is and will continue to be an amazing author and one to watch. I think any other books she writes will be just as good if not better than this one.  I give Another Little Piece and Kate Karyus Quinn a “10.” 

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

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Lodger: A Novel by Louisa Treger

Dorothy Richardson is living the typical life of a working girl in the 19th century.  Living in a boardinghouse, she spends her days working for a dentist and her nights conversing with her fellow boarders.  It is a peaceful, if not dull life.  She does have a chance at excitement, however.  One of her childhood friends invites her to spend the weekend with her and her new husband.   He is a writer who is just coming into his own—H.G. Wells. 
            Dorothy is enchanted with the lifestyle that she sees in the couple.  While her friend seems to be fading into the background as the wife of a volatile man, Bertie (as H.G. Wells is known) captivates Dorothy with his tales of the writer’s life and his appetite for passion. Dorothy falls under Bertie’s influence and, against her better judgment, begins a relationship with him.  Unfortunately, this relationship is built not on love—but on betrayal, misplaced passion (Bertie is a bit of a philanderer).
            Dorothy becomes pregnant and turns down the respectability of a marriage with a fellow boarder.  She also starts a love affair with another boarder, a woman named Veronica.  A passionate advocate for women’s suffrage, Veronica gives Dorothy the love that she cannot get from Bertie.  When Veronica is thrown in jail, Dorothy decides to more fully pursue her desire to write and express herself through her own creative gifts.
            Based on the real life of H.G. Wells and Dorothy Richardson, The Lodger by Louisa Treger, seeks to portray the relationship between the two, the elusiveness of the gift of writing, and the atmosphere of the suffrage movement.  She succeeds in some ways and not in others.  None of these characters are particularly likeable, and the book suffers from a lack of focus (is it about H.G. Wells….or suffrage….or lesbians….or the plight of women…?)  Though I found the characters to be well written, I did not fully connect with any of them.
            The most compelling part of the book is the information about the suffrage movement.  I had no idea that it was so violent and so demeaning to the women who sought a voice in the government.  I wish that this part of the book had been longer and more drawn out, as I found it to be the most compelling.
            The Lodger was an easy read and one that can teach you a few things about an interesting period in history.

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

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Jaguar Hunt (Heart of the Jaguar #3) by Terry Spear

An agent and a jaguar-shifter chase trouble, and each other, through the jungles of Belize...

Agent Tammy Anderson has a reputation: she prefers to work alone. So when she’s paired up on a mission with jaguar-shifter David Patterson—who’s only recently been released from jail—to say she’s less than thrilled is a understatement. Until she realizes that this sexy agent has what it takes…

Soon, what started as an “easy” mission to locate a missing jaguar takes the pair to Belize, where they’re chasing down two renegade teen shifters who know more than they’re telling. As the action heats up, can they keep their minds on the job and off of each other?

David is tracking two teenage shifters to recruit them to his agency. Tammy is looking for a jaguar missing from the zoo. When their missions combine they are teamed up on an adventure that leads them to Belize, and things really heat up!
David is one sexy jaguar shifter and the chemistry between him and feisty feline shifter Tammy was definitely HOT. I've never read about jaguar shifters before but now I see the error of my ways. I think it's hilarious that Tammy usually ditches her male counterparts who assume she will be a liability and solves the case without them. That's my kinda girl! It also made me really like David when he saw how much of an asset she was and how capable a strong independent female can be. I also liked that although Tammy is very capable of doing things on her own that she was not as witchy as women who like their Independence are sometimes portrayed and not opposed to David's help once he earned her respect and trust.
Jaguar Hunt is book # 3 of the Heart of the Jaguar series. Although it references characters from the other books I think it works really well as a standalone too, considering I never read the others and loved the story and never felt lost. In fact I'd really like to read the first couple books now just to delve even further into this tantalizing world of jaguar shifters.
Jaguar Hunt is intoxicating and sensual with a great storyline. I highly recommend it to fans of shifter romances with some action and suspense.
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. April

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Night Blindness: A Novel by Susan Strecker

One October night, when Jensen Reilly is sixteen, she and her high school sweetheart are involved in a horrible accident. Ever since then Jensen has been running from her past. But when Jensen's beloved father is diagnosed with a brain tumor, she returns to her childhood home and the memories of her old life came flooding back- as do the people she's tried to escape.

Set against the steamy background of a New England summer, filled with the intensity of first love, and framed by an unforgettable father-daughter relationship, Night Blindness is about risk and redemption, and the ways we are hunted down by what we try to escape.

     When I saw the title of this novel; I thought it was going to be a mystery/thriller type of story. Once I received the book and read the summary on the back cover I realized that I was wrong and I became excited; I couldn’t wait to read this book and get to know the characters. I started the book later that evening the same day I had gotten it in the mail. I read four chapters before I knew it! I immediately liked “Jensen” (main female character) I found that I had a lot in common with her and that if she was an actual person that we would’ve been friends.

    I found her to be brave and strong; she didn’t want people to feel sorry for her about anything, but at the same time she seemed fearful and kept things to herself instead of talking about things to someone else. I had mixed feelings about the main male character “Ryder” I didn’t know whether to be mad at him or to like him. I liked his character because he seemed like he still loved “Jensen”, but at the same time I felt mad at him for “Jensen’s” sake because of the way things had ended after their accident. By the end of the book I felt like I personally knew Jensen and her father and I felt like I had been the one to lose someone I loved instead of the character.

     I loved the way Ms. Strecker wrote this book; she did an amazing job from beginning to end on the way the story was laid out. I thought she did wonderfully by getting the reader hooked in the beginning on the “mystery” part of the book and keeping the reader interested throughout the entire book by alternating the narrators and past and present until the very end when the secrets were finally told. I loved that the chapters weren’t really long, I felt they were a great length. I didn’t have to dread having to read 10-20 pages just to finish the chapter. Usually when chapters are that long I tend to get tired of reading after about 5 minutes or I start counting how many pages are left of that chapter, but with Night Blindness I didn’t have to do any of that.

     I think Ms. Strecker wrote a wonderful book and that many people would enjoy the story. I think this book would be more interesting to women however than to men just because of the way it’s set up. Out of a score of 10; I give Night Blindness a “9” and Susan Strecker a “10.”

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

Monday, October 27, 2014

Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler - Audibook Review

In a small town, relationships often last a lifetime.  In the town of Little Wing, Wisconsin, four friends maintain their bonds during the changes of life in Nickolas Butler’s Shotgun Lovesongs
         Kip, who has left the town of Little Wing to become a wealthy broker, returns to town to purchase the old mill.  The former center of the town, the mill has become a symbol of the forgotten heart of the town.  Kip has a vision to restore it to its former glory and to make it into an entertainment destination for the town. 
         Henry has never left the town of Little Wing—choosing to marry his high school love, Beth, and to farm on his land.  His life is stable and predictable. 
         Ronny, the daredevil of the group, has ridden the rodeo circuit for years.  His body, battered and bruised from his career, is unable to withstand injuries from an alcohol-fueled binge.  He is trying to find his new niche, without booze and the rodeo.
         Finally, Lee—the one who made it big—has become an international music star.  His first record, Shotgun Lovesongs, was recorded in a chicken coop that he made into a studio.  But has Lee’s wealth and success made it so that he cannot fit back into life in Little Wing?
         The setting of Little Wing, Wisconsin is nearly another character in the novel, and being a Midwesterner, I can relate to the slow pace of small town life celebrated in this novel.  People really are different in these towns.  The dependence on the land, the tight bonds between people, and the social interactions between each generation of people make Little Wing a special place to visit.
         Nothing really happens in this novel, short of rearrangements of relationships and a blip at the end, but plot is not really the selling point of Shotgun Lovesongs.  It is more about the characters and their relationship to place than it is about the arc of a typical narrative.
         Overall, I enjoyed this novel and the exploration of friendship and small town life.  It felt like home to me.  Its themes are universal—the changes that friendships have to make, family, and home.  A comforting read in many ways.  Recommended!

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

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Forks Over Knives Plan: How to Transition to the Life-Saving, Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet by Alona Pulde

From the creators of the groundbreaking documentary (and bestselling book) Forks Over Knives comes a four-week plan, showing anyone how to transition to a delicious whole-food, plant-based diet.

The trailblazing film Forks Over Knives exposed an entirely new generation to the whole-food, plant-based nutrition revolution and inspired thousands to want to transform their diets, and their lives. With so many people looking for change, the outstanding question became, “How can we put these dietary ideas into practice?” That’s what authors Alona Pulde and Matthew Lederman reveal inThe Forks Over Knives Plan: The 4-Week Guide to Whole-Food, Plant-Based Health—a clear, easy-to-follow plan that outlines the steps to take each week to transform your diet by cutting out animal-based and processed foods.

Forks Over Knives is a leading authority in the “food as medicine” movement, showing how simple dietary changes are proven to prevent, and even reverse, chronic disease such as type-2 diabetes and heart disease and improve your overall health. This is no fad diet; the Forks Over Knives program is backed by original research and has received rave reviews from physicians like Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Mehmet Oz, to athletes like pro football star Arian Foster and pro basketball player Steve Nash, to healthy lifestyle pioneers like Alicia Silverstone, to name a few. Whether you’re already a convert and just want a dietary reboot, or you are trying a plant-based diet for the first time, The Forks Over Knives Plan makes it easier than ever to transition into this new way of eating.

This book is great for anyone who is ready to or even thinking about changing to a whole-food, plant-based diet.  This is a life-changing process with superb results, as evidenced by the many testimonials placed throughout the pages. 

 As a believer in this lifestyle already, I was excited to read this and learn even more about it.  This informative book is well-written and easy to understand.  It explains everything from the basics (what a whole-food, plant-based diet is) to what to eat, what not to eat, the health benefits, and the consequences of following what the authors refer to as the Standard American Diet.  One of the best things about this book, in my opinion, is that they take the time to give you useful tips to make this transition easier. 

 The tips include how to dine out and make smart, healthy choices; how to stock your freezer, fridge, and pantry; how to eat while traveling away from home; and how to handle social situations.  The recipes that are included are easy to follow and gives the reader healthy options to add some variety to their new menu.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants finally make that life-altering decision to get healthy. 

No More Eating for Single Nutrients . . . Focus on the "Package" and the Foods You Enjoy
By Alona Pulde, MD, and Matthew Lederman, MD,
Author of The Forks Over Knives Plan: How to Transition to the Life-Saving, Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet
The idea of eating a particular food for one nutrient is pervasive in our culture. We have been led to believe we should eat meat for protein, dairy for calcium, fish for omega-3 fatty acids, and even tomatoes for lycopene, among many others. This sort of thinking is misguided and has caused grave harm to human health. The quest for protein, for example, has steered us toward meat consumption. In this quest, we not only consume protein in excess of our needs, but also many harmful substances like dietary cholesterol that are only present in animal foods.
No food is a single nutrient, and we should never think of foods in that way. Any given food has countless nutrients. What matters most is the overall nutrient profile, i.e., the whole package. Whole, plant-based foods contain all the essential nutrients (with the exception of vitamin B12*), and in proportions that are more consistent with human needs than animal-based or processed foods. So our question is really this: Why waste any of what we eat on inferior packages? As long as -- over time -- we choose a variety of whole, plant-based foods, we will easily meet all of our nutritional needs.
Whole, Plant-Based Food Will Provide the Best "Package" of nutrients
When eating fruits, vegetables, tubers, whole grains, and legumes to comfortable satiation, you will get superior nutrition without also getting all the unhealthy elements present in animal-based and highly processed foods. Among other things, you will effortlessly consume:
  • A nutrient profile consistent with human needs. All whole foods contain carbohydrates, protein, and fat. These are the macronutrients, which are the source of virtually all calories, or energy. Different foods, how- ever, contain each of these in different proportions. The foods you eat on a whole-food, plant-based diet will most easily get you to a healthy carbohydrate, protein, and fat ratio, which lies somewhere in the range of 80/10/10. We discuss each macronutrient in the chapters that follow.
  • Lower-calorie-density foods that will leave you neither underweight nor overweight. Whole, plant-based foods in general are significantly lower in calories per pound (calorie density) than animal products and processed food. Higher-calorie-density foods lead to excessive calorie consumption and overweight bodies. Many chronic diseases are caused by the same foods that result in being overweight or obese. (We explain calorie density and how it affects body weight on page 30.)
  • A sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals. Every vitamin or mineral you need to thrive is present in a whole-food, plant-based diet in amounts and proportions consistent with our needs. The only exceptions are vitamin B12 and vitamin D, which we discuss on page 37.
  • Dietary fiber. Fiber plays a key role in signaling to our brain that we have eaten enough and is also an essential part of digestion, normal colon function, and binding and removing toxins that would otherwise be re-absorbed into the body. Animal foods do not contain any dietary fiber, so we must get it from whole plant foods.
  • No cholesterol. We do not need to consume cholesterol in our diets because our bodies can make all that we need. Avoiding dietary cholesterol is a great way to decrease our risk of developing heart disease. Excess cholesterol is involved in the thickening and hardening of arteries, or atherosclerosis, which leads to serious problems, such as heart attacks and strokes. Animal foods, even the low-fat varieties, contain cholesterol.
The above is an excerpt from the book The Forks Over Knives Plan: How to Transition to the Life-Saving, Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet by Alona Pulde, MD, and Matthew Lederman, MD. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy and references. 
Copyright © 2014 Alona Pulde, MD, and Matthew Lederman, MD, authors of The Forks Over Knives Plan: How to Transition to the Life-Saving, Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet 

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