Thursday, May 18, 2017

Madam Tulip and the Knave of Hearts by David Ahern



Goodreads Summary

"Madam Tulip! Actress, fortune-teller, psychic, sleuth!" 

When out-of-work actress Derry O'Donnell moonlights as celebrity fortune-teller Madam Tulip in an English Stately home, she’s trying to make some cash. 
Instead, she is drawn into an alien world of wealth, titled privilege and family secrets. 

A countess once a chorus girl, a gambling earl and his daughters, a cultured and handsome art expert—all caught in a terrifying web of ghastly threats, murder and 
abduction. As an aristocratic engagement party turns into a nightmare, Derry and her friend Bruce face the prospect of a gruesome and infamous death. 

Madame Tulip and the Knave of Hearts is the second in a series of thrilling and hilarious Tulip adventures in which Derry O’Donnell, celebrity fortune-teller and 
reluctant amateur detective, plays the most exciting and perilous roles of her acting life, drinks borage tea, and fails to understand her parents.


My Thoughts

Madam Tulip is back and I couldn't be more excited!  I loved the first book and, if possible, I think I loved this one even more!  So much mystery and excitement, definitely a hit!

Davis Ahern has a way of writing that you can totally create the scenes in your mind.  It makes me want it to be a movie or television show!  Well, maybe not, the books are always better.  I'll continue to let my imagination play in my head for now.

If you like funny, exciting murder mystery type books (maybe like the Janet Evanovich/Stephanie Plum books) you will definitely love these!  I certainly adore Derry O'Donnell/Madam Tulip and all her antics and adventures!  This book keeps you on your toes for sure!

Note: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Dangerous Skies by Brian James



Goodreads Summary

It's the height of the Blitz. Night after night, waves of German bombers pound London streets determined to bring the city to its knees.

As the air-raid sirens wail, Alan and his best mates, Tommy and Wilkie, skip school to play among the bombed out homes of their neighbors. They are soon sucked into a gang of looters run by infamous Duggie, but the police are on their tail and catching up quickly. Even if they escape, they could still fall victim to the dangerous skies above them. 

This thrilling story, based on the author’s own experiences growing up during the Blitz, is an antidote to nostalgia. It shows the terrors of the Blitz and how war brings out both the best and the worst in adults and children alike. 



My Thoughts

Although this book is considered a Children's Fiction I found it to be extremely interesting for adults as well.  The concept of a book written about such a horrendous war time from the perspective of a child is such a wonderful idea.  So well written, for children and adults.

Reading about the war from a 10 year old child's perspective had my heart and stomach in knots.  Just the thought of children going to school and hearing names called out during roll call of children that weren't there because of injury or death from bombs... it's a hard thing to think about.  It is sad to think that during such rough times people then turn on each other and loot and vandalize as well.  The contrast between the normal childhood days and games and then the issues of war that had to become somewhat normal to them at times was gut wrenching.

Dangerous Skies is definitely a book to read.  Being that it is a children's book, the war isn't described in gory or graphic details but you are still educated on the subject.  Children of ALL ages will enjoy reading about Alan and his friends.

*Note:  I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Pattern of Deceit by Leigh Duncan



Goodreads Summary

Finding her long-lost father was the easy part... 

Following the hit-and-run death of her grandmother, Meridith Woodson discovers that her entire life has been based on a lie. Leaving everything she’s ever known behind, she sets out to unravel the truth. Her journey takes her to the Amish countryside outside Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where she infiltrates a demanding religious cult to meet its founder—her father. 

The ink has barely dried on Brad Lang’s medical license when yet another odd accident lands a raven-haired tourist on his exam table. Concerned for her safety, Brad warns Meridith away from the ragtag sect on the outskirts of town, but his fears mount when she falls under the spell of the group’s charismatic leader and disappears behind the compound’s fortified walls. 

With guards monitoring her every move, Meridith quickly discovers that gaining acceptance among The Prepared was the easy part. Escaping—even with Brad’s help—will require more strength and courage than she possesses.



My Thoughts

I read this book in two days...it would have been one day but I started it really late at night so I only read for an hour on that first night.  My point is that it was so good I didn't want to put it down.  Once again, my responsibilities were put on hold for a book!  I don't regret it at all!

I loved Meridith, I loved Brad, and I obviously loved them together.  Of course, there were plenty of characters that I didn't like AT ALL, but they were necessary for the story.  Guys, I just really enjoyed this book.

I think I say this kind of often, but I have never read a book like this before.  Honestly!  I've never ever read a book about a cult.  I was super intrigued!  And, I was very pleased with the ending.  Too often a book with a really good beginning and middle gets ruined by a bad ending.  This was not the case with Pattern of Deceit!

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I highly recommend picking this book up!  I really don't think you'll be disappointed.

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

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Chance Beginning by Christopher Patterson




Goodreads Summary



Erik Eleodum is a simple man. He doesn’t want to be a hero. He doesn’t need fame or fortune. He is content farming his family’s homestead in northern Háthgolthane and raising a simple family, like his father, for the rest of his life. In fact, adventure is the last thing on his mind. 


Befel, Erik’s brother, and Bryon, his cousin, can’t think of anything worse than farming for the rest of their lives. They want to be heroes. They want fame and fortune. They want to leave their families and go east, to the country of Golgolithul, where they are sure to find easy wealth and great adventure. 
But when these three young men leave their farmstead, they quickly discover the world is not so simple, not so easy. Most fortune is laden with treachery, fame must be earned with blood, and adventures are rarely grand. Ideas of grandeur are crushed and the road east is hard. To get there, these men must ultimately sell their swords and become friends with thieves, dwarves, soldiers, and mercenaries well past their prime. They battle a band of ruthless slavers, slip past assassins, and experience the deadly consequences of black magic. 
Will Erik ever be able to return to the simple life? Will he unwittingly become famous, become rich, become a hero? Or, will he even survive? 
Often the deeds of those deemed smaller, either in stature or status, go uncounted by chroniclers of history. Yet, it is these deeds that repeatedly change the course of history. For every hero whose feats minstrels sing, there were fifty men following his stead, giving blood and sweat just as he did; and because they were not the first to return from a long voyage away, or perhaps they did not return at all, their glories are never sung. This is a story about those men who would only be known in the local legends, who would have been forgotten by time save for a small bit of chance. Chance, Fate, Destiny, Dumb Luck; all these and more, and then maybe none of these things, are the reasons a young man can go from a farmer’s son, a boy of lowly birth born with dirt on his face, to a great warrior, a kingly knight, a dragon slayer. 
Three young farmers, tired of plowing endless fields from sunrise to sunset, gave up all they knew to pursue fame, pursue riches. Their crying mothers at their backs and the unknown ahead of them, they worked in pigsties, slept in the alleys of outskirt cities, traveled with strangers and shed blood unwillingly. They trusted men they should not have trusted, and did not trust those they should have. These young men who left their way of life for fame and glory would soon learn, as most young men full of grand ideas and just ideals do, the world is not what they thought it to be.

My Thoughts

A Chance Beginning is the first book in the Shadow's Fire Trilogy.  I was pretty intrigued after reading the synopsis.  It seemed fairly different than books I have read in the past.

First of all, let's talk about the cover!  It is so pretty!  It caught my eye immediately!

This isn't your typical fantasy book.  There were a several elements that were new to me, but there really wasn't as much focus on the magical things usually found in a fantasy.  This book truly is focused on the main characters, which I found to be pleasantly surprising. 

Before I go any farther, I do want to say that I did enjoy this book.  There were a lot of things I liked, things that kept my attention and kept me interested.  Now, this book wasn't without faults.  As far as the story itself, it didn't have the wow factor that you expect from fantasies.  As a matter of fact, at times it felt like a simple fiction rather than an actual fantasy. The ending was left open, but not the typical 'open' you expect with the first book in a series. It just wasn't clear enough, I guess.  I feel like a lot of things could have been fixed with better editing.

With that being said, I really don't think this was a bad book.  Actually, it was a pretty good book.  There were just a few things that I would fix up.  It almost seemed more of a coming of age type book than a fantasy so that may be why I couldn't wrap my head around it as much.

Now, even with the things I pointed out, I would still recommend reading A Chance Beginning.  I'm certainly not against reading the next books in the trilogy!  I would love to find out what happens next!

*Note: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Class of '59 by John A. Heldt




Goodreads Summary

When Mary Beth McIntire settles into a vacation house on June 2, 2017, she anticipates a quiet morning with coffee. Then she hears a noise, peers out a window, and spots a man in 1950s attire standing in the backyard. She panics when the trespasser sees her and enters the house though a door to the basement. She questions her sanity when she cannot find him.

In the same house on March 21, 1959, Mark Ryan finds a letter. Written by the mansion’s original owner in 1900, the letter describes a basement chamber, mysterious crystals, and a formula for time travel. Driven by curiosity, Mark tests the formula twice. On his second trip to 2017, he encounters a beautiful stranger. He meets the woman in the window.

Within hours, Mary Beth and Mark share their secret with her sister and his brother and begin a journey that takes them from the present day to the age of sock hops, drive-ins, and jukeboxes. In CLASS OF ’59, the fourth book in the American Journey series, four young adults find love, danger, and adventure as they navigate the corridors of time and experience Southern California in its storied prime.



My Thoughts

This is the second book by John A Heldt that I have had the pleasure of reading and, once again, I was not at all disappointed.  As a matter of fact, I read this book in one sitting!  I really enjoy the time travel story lines!  

One thing that I appreciated about Class of '59 was how the chapters were from the characters perspectives.  For example, one chapter would be from Mary Beth's perspective, the next would be from Mark's perspective, then another character, and so on...
That normally bothers me but it really worked in this book.

I keep going back and forth about which character was my favorite.  I really liked Mary Beth but I really liked Piper!  Honestly, I loved all of them! Except Ear Man, I definitely didn't like Ear Man.

Thank you so much, John Heldt, for sending another wonderful book my way!  I mean, really, I have to be one of the luckiest people alive!  Wonderful books are sent to me just so that I can read them and post reviews!  Seriously people, do yourself a favor and get this book!

*Note: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Fountain by Suzy Vadori



Goodreads Summary

Careful what you wish for. It just might come true. 

In the forbidden West Woods, Ava stumbles on the secret fountain that has granted wishes to St. Augustus students for generations. Unknowingly, she watches the coin she tosses disappear and with it the world around her as she knows it.

In a quest to undo the damage she’s done, she and alumni kid Ethan break every campus rule unravelling a tangled web of history. Ava discovers that what’s right isn’t always clear and finds herself torn between a love she’s always known and one she has yet to explore.

The Fountain is a Prix Aurora Award 2016 Finalist For Best Young Adult Novel.



My Thoughts

It had been a while since I received this book review request.  I'm not sure how I had skipped over it, but accidents happen!  Anyways, as soon as I realized what happened, I put it on my kindle and started reading.  I didn't take the time to read the synopsis, I just jumper right in.  Going in without a clue is a lot of fun sometimes but it can also be confusing as well.

The Fountain gets you right from the beginning!  As soon as I read the first chapter I was hooked.  I remembered the review request, the synopsis, and I was immediately excited!

Now, while this book did have some of the typical characters (all-american girl, the boyfriend, the cute boy at school, the mean girl, the cheerleaders, etc...) it wasn't at all a typical book.  The ending, for example, was a wonderful surprise!  Not at all what I expected to happen.

If you can't already tell, I enjoyed The Fountain very much and I highly recommend it!  It wasn't completely without flaws, but honestly, what book is?  Very enjoyable and entertaining!

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

Monday, April 24, 2017

A Bicycle Built For Two Billion by Jamie Bianchini



Synopsis

Jamie Bianchini needed a lift. A big one. After a series of spectacular business flops drove him into bankruptcy and the love of his life kissed him goodbye, Jamie knew he needed a world of help. But instead of seeking assistance from a counselor or support group, Jamie sought comfort where he’d always found it…on his bicycle.

As his world hit rock bottom, Jamie hatched a crazy plan that just might make everything right. His life lacked purpose, passion, and connection with his fellow man. So Jamie decided to go for a bicycle ride…around the world…on a tandem…solo…inviting everyone he met to join him for a spin.

A Bicycle Built for Two Billion is the moving story of an audacious optimist who tried to change the world – while hoping the world would change him – one rider at a time. A heartfelt, hilarious, adrenaline-fueled journey through 81 countries, A Bicycle Built for Two Billion will allow you to see the planet in a way never experienced before.

Come join Jamie and his unforgettable cast of co-pedalers – from inspiring villagers to conniving thieves, romantic paramours to unlikely gurus, excited school kids to seniors who have never set foot on a pedal. Come join them all for the ride of your life.

Includes nearly 200 spectacular photos and videos captured around the world, bringing this rich story to life.


My Thoughts

This book made me want to jump on a bicycle and take off on a little trip of my own!  However, I am definitely not in shape to do so!  I don't think I would make it a mile down the road!

I enjoyed this book immensely.  I especially enjoyed the honesty and vulnerability of the author.  Many people may find things about Jamie to be fairly unlikeable at times but, like I said, his honesty and openness draws you in.

His story was so much more than I ever expected.  I was intrigued from the beginning and it held my attention to the very end.  I could close my eyes and picture every location, every adventure, every individual.  Such great storytelling that at times you forget that it's about his real life.  Pick it up!  You won't be disappointed.

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

Sock Fancy - An Awesome Sock Subscription Company!




First, let me say that this is not a book review.  However, this is really cool!

I received an email a few weeks ago from a company called Sock Fancy.  They asked if I would like for them to send a sample and, if I liked what I received, if I would be willing to tell my readers about their company.  I agreed and just about a week later a box was in my mailbox!

Sock Fancy is a sock subscription company.  Basically, choose to give the socks as a gift or subscribe for yourself, pick your sock size, choose your subscription length, and then checkout!  Awesome, random socks will be sent to you every month according to what subscription package you chose.

When I received the sample I was very pleasantly surprised!  I was expecting one, maybe two, pairs of socks.  They sent a box of six!  And they are such great quality!

I definitely recommend Sock Fancy!  What a great idea!  Check out their website and see for yourself!




Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Girl Who Could Read Hearts by Sherry Maysonave




Goodreads Summary

Intuitive as a child, Sherry Maysonave has had mystical experiences throughout her life. At the mere age of five, she had a direct experience of her soul existing separately from her physical body, which forever changed her perception of God, life on earth, and life in heaven.

Inspired by a vivid dream with Sherry’s deceased sister shouting from a mountaintop, this story—The Girl Who Could Read Hearts—was born. 

An inspirational novel, this moving story teems with intrigue while exploring the mysteries of intuition, angels, death, the afterlife, prejudice, and miracles. 

Born gifted with a rare seventh sense—the ability to read human hearts coupled with keen intuition—Kate Kindrick struggles to understand her capabilities. She is often bewildered by her unique perceptions, combined with seeing symbols and colors in people’s hearts. 

Kate’s parents fear that their young daughter suffers from delusional psychosis. Their concerns are intensified by her claims that she has conversations with an angel. Only her grandmother, who is gravely ill, and her uncle, a famous writer, encourage Kate to develop her gifts. 

Yet it’s her naiveté of the intuitive signs that augur trouble. When she doesn’t heed an inner warning, her world spins into a dangerous spiral that spells hazard for her and those she loves. Her antics land her cherished uncle in the hospital. His life hangs in the balance.

Just when she believes things couldn’t get worse, her life cascades down a doubly treacherous path. She is forced to spend extended time with her teenage cousin, Marilla Marzy, and the girl’s sinister father—Vaynem Moxsin. Tormented by both of them, she prays for rescue. Shocking events transpire.

This captivating novel explores issues relevant to many of today’s societal woes: prejudice, abuse, eating disorders, and limiting belief systems. It delves into the mysteries of death and of angels, plus intuition, finding God in all, and true love. 
Full of spirit, this poignant story brims with inspiration, daring, and hope.



My Thoughts

Although this book may have started out a bit slow for me, I almost put it down a few times, when it did pick up it basically flew!  The Girl Who Could Read Hearts gave me so many emotions throughout the story, a literal emotional journey.  Trust me, get past the first few chapters and you will be glad you stuck with it.

Kate was such a sweet character and you just want to wrap her up and protect her.  She was by far the best in the book.  There were definite "good guys" and "bad guys" portrayed in this book and they were made very clear.  No confusion or gray areas about who they were or what their motives were.

The Girl Who Could Read Hearts is well written and the concept of 'reading hearts' is creative and extremely interesting.  I'm so pleased to have been given the opportunity to read and review this book.

*Note: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Szen Zone by Gary Szenderski



Goodreads Summary

Szen Zone: Reaching a State of Positive Change, by Gary Szenderski, is a compilation of stand-alone short stories and observations that celebrate the power in each of us to create positive change in our lives, to be what we want to be. 

Where ZEN is of the moment and what is, SZEN celebrates what could be. 

Szen Zone contains lighthearted and positive narrative on life and its possibilities, with stories that cover the gamut from interesting to profound. 

The general overarching theme of the book is change and all of the aspects of it - creating, surviving, and managing change with the goal to recognize the power we have to create positive change in our lives and be what we want to be. 

If you are a fan of short inspirational stories like those in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, then this is a book you would certainly enjoy. Wherever you may find yourself in life, you will discover an insight or example in this book to help you change course and take charge of your life.



My Thoughts

When I was contacted about reading this book I was pretty excited, to say the least.  Reading other reviews and simply reading about the book itself had me checking the PO Box daily looking for this gem in the mail.  I wasn't disappointed.

This was exactly what I was looking for.  Something to read nightly, just before bed, that was uplifting and didn't consume a lot of my time.  One, or sometimes two, short stories a night.  I just loved it!  And the Szenippets were my favorite parts!

Thank you, Book Publicity Services, for sending this gem of a book to me!

*Note: I received a copy of this book from Book Publicity Services in exchange for an honest review.

The Other Side Of Courage




Goodreads Summary

Elizabeth Blackwell was a brave and persistent pioneer who overcame all adversities to earn a degree in medicine, becoming the first woman doctor in the world. Her path was not without suffering the constant throes of anger and antipathy from the all-male medical profession. However, despite this bitter and harsh treatment, Elizabeth was determined to prevail through stubborn courage and an iron-clad will and triumphed for the good of all society.


My Thoughts

Although I am sure that I have heard her name before, I can't remember learning much about Elizabeth Blackwell.  That is, at least, not until now.  The Other Side of Courage didn't really feel much like a fiction novel, but more like I was reading a biography of her life.  Those words may turn people away from reading this book if you're not really into reading biographies but, let me tell you, don't let it scare you.  While there were a few times when it felt a bit slow, it would soon turn and peak my interest again.  It is very well written and I really do recommend it.

Thank you, CyPress Publications, for sending it my way!

*Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Kena the Good Hyena: Left Out by Gabriela Arellano and Gustavo Mazali




Goodreads Summary

Kena's birthday is coming. The cub invites all his classmates to his party, except one: Bako. Kena's mom intervenes to have Bako invited as well.
At the end, Kena realizes that a single act of friendship can lead to a beautiful outcome.



My Thoughts

This was a cute little book with a great message.  As an elementary teacher, I am always trying to get the children to be kind and be friends with each other.  This book was a great tool in helping them to understand a little better why excluding each other can hurt feelings. I read it to my class and they didn't see it as a "lesson" but instead just a fun time of classroom reading.

Thank you, Gabriela Arellano, for sending this book to me!  I love having new books to read to my class!

*Note: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Ravenstone: The Secret of Ninham Mountain by Diane Solomon and Mark Carey



Goodreads Summary

"You were born to this path! This quest is your fate."

Imagine a raven appearing out of thin air and guiding you to an exquisitely carved icon that glows with ancient light and pulses with shamanic power.

This is how the adventure begins for Nadia and Aidan Shaw, thirteen-year-old twins, who live in idyllic Cold Spring, New York, on the banks of the Hudson River.  Armed with the power of the Ravenstone and their own special gifts, they embark on a harrowing quest across centuries, at the bidding of a mysterious old shaman. They must depend on their courage, their faith in their friends, and luck. Or is it destiny?

If they succeed, what they bring back could change the course of human existence.



My Thoughts

The Ravenstone: The Secret of Ninham Mountain may have been written for children/middle grade readers but I loved it!  When asked to read and review this book I figured it would be a cute little book and that if I wasn't able to get into it (since it is a children's/middle grade book) I would consider having my daughter read and review it for me.  Well, that clearly wasn't an issue at all!  I will tell her that she should read it, but only because it was so good!

I don't recall reading many, if any, books about twins so that was interesting in itself.  There were honestly so many interesting things in this book!  It kept me wanting to read and I found myself trying to sneak in extra times to read a chapter or two.  As a matter of fact, I "went to bed" early so that I could finish it last night!

I will certainly be recommending this book!  Not just to children or middle graders, but to anyone who enjoys reading science fiction, fantasy, action, magical type genres.  Thank you, Mark Carey, for sending this book to me!

*Note: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Game by Angie West




Goodreads Summary

Do you want to play a game? 

Lei Guthrie and her best friend, Iris, have a tradition. Every Friday night after work they play a game, preferably vintage, the weirder the better. So when Lei finds a romance novel trivia game rumored to be cursed, she couldn’t be happier. Until she and Iris become trapped in the game. The rules are simple. Make it through three romance novel scenes gone horribly wrong and retrieve a silver key from each. Oh yeah, and stay alive. 

My Thoughts

I went into this book somewhat blind.  I get so many review requests a day so I couldn't exactly remember which one this was.  Once I started reading it I vaguely remembered the synopsis but still wasn't completely sure what it was going to be about.  It had me pulled in pretty quick.

First of all, I love the idea of having a weekly game night where you play games you pick up at a thrift store!  Sounds so fun!  Now, with that being said, I don't like the idea of a cursed or haunted game! Lol!

The Game is a very entertaining novella with a storyline that I've never read anything even close to before.  There were times when it was funny and other times intense.  I did want a bit more to the story.  It was very open ended and left me wanting more.

Thank you, Angie West, for sending this book to me!

*Note: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Elimination by Marina Epley



Goodreads Summary

ELIMINATION is the first novel in THE MIND BREAKER trilogy, set in a violent dystopian world where governmental forces hunt down, imprison and even kill those with psychic abilities.
Rex is an eighteen-year-old mind breaker hoping to keep a low profile. Unfortunately, he was forced to use hypnosis on criminals during an attempted bank robbery, revealing his abilities. Now considered a national threat to society, he has to flee through devastated countryside in order to remain alive. Even worse, by going on the run, he’s endangering his one and only friend Kitty, another strong hypnotist.
Rex soon realizes that together they make a vulnerable target. And the only way to save Kitty is to allow himself to be captured, thus diverting attention while his friend escapes. But nothing goes as planned, as his actions only serve to push Kitty into an even worse situation than a life sentence in prison. With his world falling apart, Rex must figure out how to fix his accumulating mistakes and regain their freedom before it’s too late.
What Rex doesn’t yet understand, is that he may soon play a major role in preventing all-out war between ordinary humans and mind breakers, a war which could lead to total extinction of the entire human race.



My Thoughts

So.  Good.  SO GOOD!  I really, really enjoyed this book!  It's been a while since I enjoyed a YA book this much.  Don't get me wrong, I have liked a lot of books, but this one... I didn't want to put it down.  I had to since I'm an adult with a job and a family and all, but I really didn't want to!

Here's a little tidbit about me, I prefer to read books where the protagonist is female.  I think it's just because I can relate to them more.  However, Elimination was the kind of book where I didn't care at all that the protagonist was male.  And let me add that Rex was a very good character.  Seriously, all of the characters were great.  Some were great in an 'I love this guy/girl!' kind of way and some were great in an 'Oh, I hate this guy/girl!' kind of way.  Both show great writing and a really great book.

Thank you to the author, Marina Epley, for sending this wonderful book to me!  It is on the top of my recommendations list!

*Note: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Lesson in Classical Painting by Juliette Aristides



Goodreads Summary

A companion volume to Lessons in Classical Drawing and an atelier in book form, Lessons in Classical Painting breaks down the foundational skills and techniques of painting in a format that is accessible and manageable for all readers. 

With the same direct, easy-to-follow approach of Juliette Aristides's previous books, Lessons in Classical Painting presents aspiring artists with the fundamental skills and tools needed to master painting in the atelier style. With more than 25 years of experience in ateliers and as an art instructor, Aristides pairs personal examples and insights with theory, assignments and demonstrations for readers, discussions of technical issues, and inspirational quotes. After taking a bird's eye look at painting as a whole, Aristides breaks down painting into big picture topics like grisaille, temperature, and color, demonstrating how these key subjects can be applied by all painters.



My Thoughts

One thing you may not know about me is that I love to paint.  When I was younger I used to draw all the time.  I would pick up a paintbrush and would feel too intimidated to actually paint anything.  Just in the last few years I have learned to really love painting.  I'd say it's a pretty good tie to reading!

When I saw this book on the list of choices to review I knew it was the one for me.  I have enjoyed leaning new techniques and practicing the different paintings in the book.  This book taught me a lot and refreshed my memory on things that I had previously learned.

*Note: I received a copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review.

Chasing Symmetry by Tempeste Blake



Goodreads Summary

Someone had been trying for the perfect shade of red . . .
When art professor Bianca James tries to save a dying woman, the grudge-holding chief of police is all too quick to catapult her to the top of the suspect list. As if that isn’t enough, her ex-boyfriend’s younger brother, Finn Tierny, is assigned to the case, and she’s faced with a trilogy of dilemmas: go head to head with the chief, stop a cold-blooded killer on her own, or trust another Tierny.
Finn’s return to Riley’s Peak is bittersweet. He’s flooded with memories, both good and bad, as he battles doubts about being a cop, a cantankerous father, a jealous brother, and a drug dealer with a rap-sheet longer than the list of addicts he’s been supplying. 
Threats escalate, the suspect list grows, and it becomes clear—the murderer’s resolve to kill Bianca is almost as strong as Finn’s desire to keep her alive.
Almost.



My Thoughts

I love murder mysteries! When I was contacted about reading this book, I was beyond excited!  And then when I received it in the mail along with a note and special little "gift" from the author, I was ecstatic!  I wanted to dive right in... but, sadly, my TBR list was ridiculously long so I had to wait a while.

So, the time came that I could get into this book and I wasn't disappointed!  I am usually pretty good at figuring out 'who done it' but not this time.  I was wrong!  Very wrong.  This book is full of surprises and keeps you guessing the whole time.

Now, I could have done without the 'romance' things in this book.  And, honestly, the choice words were a bit much for my liking.  Those were the only reasons that I chose to give Chasing Symmetry 4 stars instead of 5.

I will definitely be recommending this book to fellow mystery lovers!  Chasing Symmetry will be a book that I keep for my collection!

*Note: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, January 27, 2017

EKO by Loren Walker



Goodreads Summary


Shortlisted for the 2016 Half the World Global Literari Award. 
2016 Shelf Unbound Best Indie "Notable 100" Pick
Select Pick by the Library Journal's Self-e Module. 

Midnight in Osha: an injured woman is left at the gates of a commune. Eighteen-year-old Sydel, an apprentice hungry to prove her worth, is certain that healing the blue-haired stranger will finally win the respect of her community. But tensions spike when two men appear in search of their sister: Phaira, the woman in the clinic. And when Sydel’s experimental medical treatments prove successful, instead of offering accolades, her elders make the sudden decision to banish her. 

Guilt-ridden, Phaira and her brothers, Renzo and Cohen, offer shelter to the bewildered girl, and take Sydel with them into the violent, industrial North. Then the reason behind the expulsion comes to light: Sydel is an Eko, a being that can read minds and accelerate healing. And when word of her talents goes public, Sydel becomes a valuable prize to possess, with the siblings as her only means of defense.



My Thoughts

First, let me just say that Eko is an extremely fascinating book.  It follows the story of a girl named Sydel.  She basically has a unique ability, called Eko, that allows her to hear people's thoughts and even send her thoughts to them.  Sydel isn't the only person with this special ability.

When I first started reading this book I had a little bit of a difficult time getting into it.  You're kind of thrown right in with no backstory so it is hard to keep up with what is happening.  It was about a third of the way through the book that everything finally clicked and it all made sense.  Don't get me wrong, it was all still very interesting even when I didn't fully understand exactly what was happening haha!  But when it clicked...Aha!  It went from good to great!

I definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes the YA Dystopian/sci-fi genre.  It's a good one!

*Note: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Zola Flash and The Forgotten by T. Marie Alexander




Goodreads Summaries


Zola Flash

EVEN THE INNOCENT CAN BE MARRED BY WAR.

Zola is a Victian. And for as long as she’s been alive, her planet has been at war with the ruthless, demeaning Payohlini.

After witnessing the gruesome murder of her family, Zola Flash decides it is time to escape with the one person she was taught to hate before she meets the same fate. Earth seems to be the perfect place to hide out – to pretend her whole life didn’t come crashing down.

While on Earth, fitting in and making new friends are Zola’s main goal. It’s what she wants. A family to call her owns. But then, Zola uncovers family lies and the true reason behind this never ending war. 

Now it's up to Zola and the enemy, who is swiftly stealing her heart, to save her people and gain retribution for her family. But when revenge and protecting her people mean relinquishing her freedom, she's left with a difficult choice.



The Forgotten

ZOLA HAS LOST SO MUCH.
Her family
Her home.
Her sense of self.

BUT SHE HAS ALSO GAINED.
Friends.
Another home.
And Pin, the Payohlini she loves above all else.

With Renz gone and no one to command the Payohlini army, Zola assumed everything would go back to normal. Well, as normal as life could be for someone like her. The war should be over and her planet and people should be safe. Having accomplished what she set out to do—getting revenge for her family’s murder, she even dares to dream of days spent as a normal girl, of dates with Pin without them looking over their shoulders for flying swords. No more hiding, but living the kind of life she always thought she’d have.
With new responsibilities come new problems, though—as well as a Flash from her past that she didn’t see coming. 
One that threatens to change everything.
Zola thought she had nothing else to lose. Unfortunately, she’s about to get a galactic awakening.
No one ever said being a princess would be easy.



My Thoughts

In the beginning I had a little trouble following Zola Flash.  The author's writing style took me a little while to follow.  However, once I was able to get used to the writing style, I started to enjoy the book more.  There were several twists and turns in the plot and I really enjoyed getting to know the characters.  I'm honestly not a huge fan of books that end with a cliffhanger but this one was well written.  All in all, Zola Flash turned out to be a pretty good read.

I do think that I enjoyed The Forgotten more than I enjoyed Zola Flash.  More than likely, it is because I was already familiar with the author's writing style and the characters.  Speaking of the characters, Zola certainly hasn't had an easy life!  She just wants to finally have a calm, normal life but that doesn't seem to be in the cards.  The Forgotten is a great continuing story of Zola's life and adventures.  Well done, T. Marie Alexander!  Thanks for the books!

*Note:  I received copies of these books from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Shaky Man by Mark S. Parker




Goodreads Summary

Stay away from Shaky Man. Every kid in the small town of Tonkaway, Texas, knows that.

He eats little kids, murdered his wife, and mistreats his dogs, to boot. That’s what they say, anyway. Top doesn’t entirely know what to think about the rumors. He’s too busy settling into his new home, playing baseball and making friends—like Mickey, a black boy who soon becomes his best friend of all.

Everything changes when a shocking murder turns the town, along with Top and Mickey’s lives, upside down. Neighbors show their true colors. Shaky Man’s secrets are revealed. Through it all, Top learns again and again just how confusing and unfair the world can be. A tale of childhood set in the 1960s, Shaky Man timelessly reaffirms the basic goodness of humanity and the importance of friendship and compassion in the face of prejudice.



My Thoughts

Here's a bit of honesty for you, I didn't have any expectations of liking this book very much.  Not that I thought I would 'dislike' necessarily, but I didn't think that it would stick in my mind.  I had no reason to feel this way.  The blurb actually sounds really interesting!  I don't know if it was the cover that made me think that I wouldn't love it, the fact that it's a middle grade book, or just me being weird.  Anyways, I said that to say this... I was wrong.

Shaky Man is a very interesting read, much more so than I initially expected!  It is definitely a middle grade book so it's not exactly "my kind of book" anymore but it is certainly one that I will be recommending to middle grade students.  This book teaches important life lessons while keeping a fun, lighthearted element with the baseball storyline.  Very enjoyable, great read!

*I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.