Saturday, August 31, 2013

Review: Sword of Rome: The Complete Campaigns by Richard Foreman

The best-selling Sword of Rome novellas are collected together for the first time in one epic collection.

The Sword of Rome series of novellas follow Julius Caesar and his centurion Lucius Oppius during their campaigns in Britain, Gaul and the Civil War. The stories are a blend of action, intrigue and Ancient History.

Sword of Rome: The Complete Campaigns includes -

Sword of Rome: Standard Bearer:

Britain, 55 BC. Julius Caesar’s invasion of the wild and mineral-rich land is becalmed, a stalemate exists between the forces of Rome and Britain. But the standard bearer of the Tenth Legion, Lucius Oppius, is about to display a depth of courage that will change the course of the invasion – and history…

Sword of Rome: Alesia:

Alesia, 52BC. Caesar's army stands upon the brink of annihilation, caught between two enemy armies.

Oppius is ordered to venture north of Alesia to capture Vercingetorix's war chest of gold. He will be accompanied in his mission by one of Caesar's agents, the beguiling Livia - the centurion's former lover.

As Caesar and Mark Antony face a battle for their lives outside the walls of Alesia, Oppius will have to fight against the odds to find and secure the gold. Yet will completing the mission this time exact too high a price?

Sword of Rome: Gladiator:

Rome, 51BC. Lucius Oppius has left the battlefields of Gaul to venture to Rome. But he is about to discover the capital of the Empire can be every bit as dangerous as its provinces.

Under orders from Caesar to secure an item of intelligence that will help him become a Consul again Oppius is manipulated into taking part in a gladiatorial contest. Oppius soon discovers that while in Gaul your the enemies stand before you in a shield wall in Rome they stab you in the back...

Sword of Rome: Rubicon:

Ravenna, 50BC. Caesar’s forces stand upon the borders of Gaul and Italy. The prospect of a civil war grows ever likelier each day.

In Rome, Cicero attempts to secure a peace. Against him, a powerful faction in the Senate is bent upon destroying Caesar, for personal and political reasons.

War hinges upon the will of Pompey, the only man capable of stopping Caesar. Caesar stands upon the banks of the Rubicon, an enemy of the state. The die is cast. An empire will now be at war, spearheaded by the two great men of the age...

Sword of Rome: Pharsalus:

Pharsalus, 48BC. The battle will decide the fate of a civil war and empire. Caesar's forces are outnumbered, but he believes his veterans will not be outmatched.

For one veteran, Lucius Oppius, the battle will be about revenge rather than glory. Oppius has vowed to avenge his father's death. His enemy is Flavius Laco - a former gladiator and an agent of Pompey the Great.

Against the backdrop of one of Ancient History's most momentous battles two soldiers will wage their own personal war...

Caesar, Pompey, Mark Antony, Brutus and Cicero all feature in the climax to the bestselling Sword of Rome series.



E-book received for review.

I found this series of five novellas in a single volume to be very intelligently and well written. They were very readable and quite believable despite the rather modern feel to the dialogue.

The stories nicely captured the power struggles and violence of Rome's campaigns during the period, interspersed with snippets of the daily life of an invading army on the move.

Each novella was also short enough to be read in a single sitting and had chapters of only a page or two, which provided convenient pausing points if one chose not to read it all in one go.

These novellas should be thoroughly enjoyed by historical fiction fans and I highly recommend the collection.

★★★★ = Really Liked It



Friday, August 30, 2013

Guest Post: Scott Alan Roberts author of The Secret History of the Reptilians

Scott Alan Roberts, author of the book The Secret History of the Reptilians, stopped by to share with us a piece he wrote.






About the book:

The very real probability that non-human intelligences visited and even copulated with primordial humans is detailed in civilization's most ancient cultural and religious records.

These historical records further reveal that these intelligences were reptilian in nature--or, at the very least, have been represented throughout human history in reptilian form.

From the Serpent, Nachash, in the Garden of Eden; Atum, the Egyptian snake-man; and Quetzalcotl, the feathered serpent god of the Mayans to the double-helix snake symbol of Enki/Ea in ancient Sumerian literature, the serpent has been the omnipresent link between humans and the gods in every culture.



About the author:

Scott Alan Roberts is the founder and publisher of Intrepid Magazine, a journal dedicated to politics, science, and unexplained phenomena. He is a radio show host and popular public speaker. Roberts was editor-in-chief of SyFy's Ghost Hunters official publication, TAPS paraMagazine. He attended Bible college and theological seminary, working toward his master's in divinity, but left for a 33-year career in advertising and publishing as an art and creative director, designer, illustrator, photographer, and writer. Roberts is the author of The Rise and Fall of the Nephilim.




Thursday, August 29, 2013

Giveaway: The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

Jojo Moyes’s bestseller, Me Before You, catapulted her to wide critical acclaim and has struck a chord with readers everywhere. “Hopelessly and hopefully romantic” (Chicago Tribune), Moyes returns with another irresistible heartbreaker that asks, “Whatever happened to the girl you left behind?”

France, 1916: Artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his young wife, Sophie, to fight at the front. When their small town falls to the Germans in the midst of World War I, Edouard’s portrait of Sophie draws the eye of the new Kommandant. As the officer’s dangerous obsession deepens, Sophie will risk everything—her family, her reputation, and her life—to see her husband again.

Almost a century later, Sophie’s portrait is given to Liv Halston by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. A chance encounter reveals the painting’s true worth, and a battle begins for who its legitimate owner is—putting Liv’s belief in what is right to the ultimate test.

Like Sarah Blake’s The Postmistress and Tatiana de Rosnay’s Sarah’s Key, The Girl You Left Behind is a breathtaking story of love, loss, and sacrifice told with Moyes’s signature ability to capture our hearts with every turn of the page.



Thanks to Penguin Group I have one copy to give away!

US only.  No PO Boxes.

Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.




Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Guest Post: Libby Gill author of Capture the Mindshare and the Market Share Will Follow

Libby Gill, author of the book Capture the Mindshare and the Market Share Will Follow, stopped by to share with us a piece she wrote.




Seven Key Steps to Achieving Maximum Brand Loyalty

To create a compelling brand, you have to capture more than just the market share, you capture the total mindshare – that is, minds, hearts, soul and the hence the unimpeachable trust of your customers. That is what leads to brand loyalty.

Libby Gill, veteran management consultant and author of the new book Capture the Mindshare and the Market Share Will Follow: The Art and Science of Building Brands, says that the most successful brands are carefully built by people who are meticulous about getting certain things right.

“Your brand is more than just what people say or think. It is their deep, unassailable feeling that you provide them with extraordinary value that cannot be acquired any other way. Communicated across a multitude of platforms, people become almost religious in their devotion and the belief that you can and will consistently deliver and over-deliver what they need.”

Based on years of research and experience, her book describes what she sees are seven critical elements, each of which is necessary for the creation of the powerful company-client relationships that produce unparalleled customer loyalty and the resulting economic success that successful brands command. Here they are:

Clarify Customer Benefits: Focus on your customer benefits, not just your products or services. Use clear and compelling language and lead with your customers’ best interests, not your pedigree or technical specs.

Commit to Your Customer: Clarify your commitment to value and for customer success. Keep the big picture top-of-mind, but don't forget that each and every touch point has a significant impact on loyalty. Make every contact count. Enhance the value that you deliver every way you possibly can.

Collaborate with Your Customer: Pass information to the customer. Ask the customer questions, learn about what they need, and pass that information both up and down the pipeline so that others in your organization can help the client and thus help them make timely decisions. Share facts, data, solutions, as well as contacts, relationships, and social and even emotional intelligence.

Connect with Your Customer: Plan, design and execute communications strategically along every connective touch-point that you can identify. Study your communications interface with each and every prospect or client and identify these touch points specifically, including any web sites, request forms, email systems, phone systems, voice mail and other automated response technology, newsletters, text messages, faxes, in-person meetings, presentations, white papers, etc. Review and redesign each and every touch point so that your communications content and style packs real value and builds a relationship with your prospect and leads them to want more of what you offer.

Compete with Your Competition: Be upfront and recognize, analyze, explain, distinguish and actively outperform your competition. Go beyond the obvious, direct competition - that is, the companies offering products and services that fill a similar need as yours. Identify and address the less visible, indirect competition. Pay close attention to new technologies, and upstart challengers seeking to pounce on your marketplace, and slip in under the radar of the established players in your area.

Communicate with Confidence and Certainty: Get up, get out of your chair, get moving! The maximum competitive advantage almost always goes to the people who are extroverted, confident, assertive, even aggressive, in the workplace. Practice, practice and practice some more, so that you can readily communicate with confidence, even if you feel outside you comfort zone. Be prepared and come to meetings armed with critical data and information, industry updates, news headlines, and even sports scores so you can participate effectively. Sit in the front, dress appropriately, act as though you are worthy of the attention (without being obnoxious). Take command and stay in control.

Contribute to the Community: Get involved in the community and actively support social causes. Encourage and even reward your employers to do more to support charitable activities. Choose one or more charities that complement and fit with your brand. Contribute substantially and meaningfully with money, time and people. Donate your products, pro-bono services, or other institutional or technological capabilities. Engage your management, staff, and employees actively and frequently and genuinely support the goals and objectives of the charitable organization.




About the book:

Capture the Mindshare and the Market Share Will Follow reveals how strong branding creates awareness, provides authentic value, motivates others to act, and builds long-term customer loyalty based on trust and respect.

Author Libby Gill helps businesses define and articulate their unique brand promise by exploring case studies and client success stories to help readers master the Six Core Mindshare Methods, including concepts to Clarify, Commit, Collaborate, Connect, Communicate, and Contribute.

Readers will see their relationships deepen, opportunities expand, and careers flourish as they learn to differentiate themselves in a competitive environment by promising and delivering massive value.



About the author:

Libby Gill is an internationally respected executive coach, brand strategist, and bestselling author. Libby works with top companies to help them successfully position their leaders, business, and brands including Nike, Disney, Kellogg, Oracle, PayPal, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, and more. Libby is a frequent TV and radio guest offering expert opinions and guidance on brand strategy and professional development. She has appeared on the Today show, Dr. Phil, CNN, NPR, Oprah & Friends Radio, and many more.




Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Giveaway: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose...

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A Love Story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?



Thanks to Penguin Group I have one copy to give away!

US only.  No PO Boxes.

Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.



Monday, August 26, 2013

Guest Post: Joseph Cardillo author of The Five Seasons

Joseph Cardillo, author of the book The Five Seasons, stopped by to share with us a piece he wrote.






About the book:

The Five Seasons is a simple yet effective code for optimizing the way you live. Based on the five universal seasons from traditional Chinese medicine as well as on Western psychology, The Five Seasons will teach you how to use the rising and falling energies of nature's seasons to train your mind and body to feel relaxed, energized, and content…all year long. The formula is simple: change the way you process nature's energies and you will change your life.

You will learn new, natural, and fun ways to:
  • Boost your alertness
  • Increase relaxation
  • Know when conflict is beneficial
  • Relieve boredom
  • Deal with the ebb and flow of other people
  • Fight off mood swings and depression
  • Strengthen your decision making
  • Increase and pool your physical strength
  • Stay healthier
  • Nurture your spirit
  • Live creatively



About the author:

Joseph Cardillo, PhD, is a top-selling author in the fields of health, mind-body-spirit, and psychology. His books, Your Playlist Can Change Your Life; Can I Have Your Attention? How to Think Fast, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Concentration; Be Like Water; and Bow to Life, have inspired people of all ages worldwide. He holds a doctorate in holistic psychology and mind-body medicine and is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and Psychology Today. Feature articles on Dr. Cardillo's work have appeared in Smithsonian Magazine, the New York Post, the L.A. Times, the Toronto Globe, Family Circle, FIRST for Women, Curve, American Fitness Magazine, Fitness Magazine, Natural Health, Natural Solutions, and GoodHouseKeeping.com. He lives in Upstate New York.




Sunday, August 25, 2013

Review: Uptown Girl by Holly Kinsella

Emma Hastings has it all - a successful career as a fashion model, a flat in Kensington and now she may have even found her leading man, the wealthy and charming Jason Rothschild who ticks all the right boxes.

Her days are filled with photo shoots and shopping trips. Her evenings are spent at dinners and glamorous launch parties.

She is seemingly living the dream.

But dreams can so often turn into nightmares.

After a number of chance encounters with the car mechanic William Flynn, Emma starts to evaluate what it means to truly live and love.

'Uptown Girl' is a romantic comedy full of womanly wit and wisdom.

For fans of Jane Green, Jane Austen - and Billy Joel!



E-galley received for review.

A rich London fashion model with boy problems may sound like a tough sell, but the author pulls it off brilliantly in this novella!

This light, fluffy, yet heartfelt romantic comedy feels like the missing London Sex and the City cousin. It is well written with an insightful, intelligent style. The characters, while one may not want to meet them in real life, are believable and quite well developed for such a brief work.

As a bonus, it is also short enough to read in a single sitting if desired, or the short chapters provide convenient pausing points.

Overall I was quite impressed with this new addition to the Chick Lit genre and look forward to future releases from the author. If you're looking for a fast, fun read, this is an excellent choice.

★★★★ = Really Liked It



Saturday, August 24, 2013

Book Excerpt: Sharkopedia by the Discovery Channel

The Discovery Channel has generously provided an excerpt from their new book Sharkopedia.






About the book:

Meet the most incredible creatures in the sea! Sharkopedia takes you inside the exciting world of sharks.

From Discovery Channel, the people who bring you Shark Week every summer, learn everything there is to know about these awesome predators. The book includes more than 400 photos and all 498 known shark species.

  • Which shark has been clocked swimming 55 miles per hour?
  • What feeding habits give tiger sharks their nickname "garbage guts"?
  • Which shark has 25 rows of super-sharp teeth in its mouth?
  • And more!




Friday, August 23, 2013

Review: Slow Burn: Zero Day, Book One by Bobby Adair

A new flu strain has been spreading across Africa, Europe, and Asia. Disturbing news footage is flooding the cable news channels. People are worried. People are frightened. But Zed Zane is oblivious.

Zed needs to borrow rent money from his parents. He gets up Sunday morning, drinks enough tequila to stifle his pride and heads to his mom’s house for a lunch of begging, again.

But something is wrong. There’s blood in the foyer. His mother’s corpse is on the living room floor. Zed’s stepdad, Dan is wild with crazy-eyed violence and attacks Zed when he comes into the house. They struggle into the kitchen. Dan’s yellow teeth tear at Zed’s arm but Zed grabs a knife and stabs Dan, thirty-seven times, or so the police later say.

With infection burning in his blood, Zed is arrested for murder but the world is falling apart and he soon finds himself back on the street, fighting for his life among the infected who would kill him and the normal people, who fear him.



E-book received for review.

Normally I'm not a huge fan of zombie books, but once in a while I'll come across one that is worth the time investment and this was certainly one of those.

The book is very well written with a darkly intelligent and amusing feel reminiscent of Jeff Lindsay's Dexter series. The quality writing, combined with a level of adventure and suspense that favorably reminds the reader of James Dashner's Maze Runner series, makes for a quite enjoyable reading experience.

The characters were believable and, although probably not people you'd care to know in real life, worked well in the story and interacted nicely, clearly illustrating the complex relationships one would find in such circumstances.

I was also pleasantly surprised to discover that this is the first book in a series and will look forward to reading about Zed's quest in future installments.

If you are looking for an intelligent and darkly humorous zombie apocalypse novel, look no further. I highly recommend this!

★★★★ = Really Liked It



Thursday, August 22, 2013

Book Excerpt: Sharkopedia by the Discovery Channel

The Discovery Channel has generously provided an excerpt from their new book Sharkopedia.






About the book:

Meet the most incredible creatures in the sea!   Sharkopedia takes you inside the exciting world of sharks.

From Discovery Channel, the people who bring you Shark Week every summer, learn everything there is to know about these awesome predators. The book includes more than 400 photos and all 498 known shark species.
  • Which shark has been clocked swimming 55 miles per hour?
  • What feeding habits give tiger sharks their nickname "garbage guts"?
  • Which shark has 25 rows of super-sharp teeth in its mouth?
  • And more!




Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Review: Easy Go by Michael Crichton

When he finds clues to an ancient treasure, an Egyptologist plans a very modern heist

Brilliant Egyptologist Harold Barnaby has discovered a message hidden inside a particularly difficult set of hieroglyphics. It just may lead him to a secret tomb holding the greatest riches of the ancient world. Barnaby could put his name to the most fantastic archaeological find of the century. But he doesn’t just want to dig it up. He wants to steal it.

With the help of a smuggler, a thief, and an English lord, he plans his heist. They find that tomb raiding is trickier than they thought, and those who steal from dead Egyptians face dangers worse than a mummy’s ancient curse.

This ebook features an illustrated biography of Michael Crichton including rare images from the author’s estate.



E-galley received for review.

I generally enjoy Michael Crichton's books so I was intrigued when I was offered this early volume by the author writing as John Lange.

While the story was his trademark adventure type (I think it just added to it that it was set in Egypt) there was something just a tiny bit off about the experience. I'm not sure if it was the writing, or the time period (it was written in the sixties), or what but it just didn't feel quite ... done. It reminded me of a slightly underdone piece of toast that is just barely crimping up but hasn't browned yet. It was right there on the cusp of greatness. It just wasn't Jurassic Park.

This doesn't mean that the book wasn't thoroughly enjoyable, because it was. It was a fun scientific adventure story. It was intelligent and readable and actually rather educational. It was a nice look into how the author developed his writing over the years.

If you're looking for a fun, intelligent, adventurous read, this is the book for you and I certainly recommend it.

★★☆☆ = Liked It



Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Book Excerpt: Sharkopedia by the Discovery Channel

The Discovery Channel has generously provided an excerpt from their new book Sharkopedia.






About the book:

Meet the most incredible creatures in the sea! Sharkopedia takes you inside the exciting world of sharks. From Discovery Channel, the people who bring you Shark Week every summer, learn everything there is to know about these awesome predators. The book includes more than 400 photos and all 498 known shark species.

  • Which shark has been clocked swimming 55 miles per hour?
  • What feeding habits give tiger sharks their nickname "garbage guts"?
  • Which shark has 25 rows of super-sharp teeth in its mouth?
  • And more!




Monday, August 19, 2013

Review: The Maid and the Queen by Nancy Goldstone

The author of Four Queens offers a mesmerizing account of two extraordinary heroines who risked everything for France Joan of Arc, the brave peasant girl who heard the voices of angels and helped restore her king to the throne of France, astonished her contemporaries and continues to fascinate us today. Until now, though, her relationship with Yolande of Aragon, the ambitious and beautiful queen of Sicily—mother-in-law to the dauphin—has been little known. In a stunning work filled with intrigue, madness, and mysticism, Nancy Goldstone solves the thrilling mystery by showing that if you pry open the Queen's secrets, you will find the Maid's. Caught in the complex dynastic battle of the Hundred Years War, Yolande of Aragon championed the dauphin's cause. As French hopes dimmed, a courageous young woman arrived from the farthest recesses of the kingdom. But how did she gain an audience with a king? Was it only God's hand that moved Joan of Arc—or was it also Yolande of Aragon's?



Received for review.

Before I start I'm just going to come right out and say that, even after this book, I still think Joan of Arc was a complete whack job no matter what she accomplished.  Okay, there were are.  Now on to the review.  :)

So, I'm not a huge Joan of Arc fan but I do enjoy history, and especially French history since that is where my family came from originally, so I decided to give this a whirl.  I have to say that I was really rather pleasantly surprised.  I found it to be less of a "rah, rah Joan of Arc was awesome" than a "look at all the fascinating things that happened around her" book.  There were descriptions of her ... experiences, but they weren't the focus of the book.  There was a lot of political wrangling during the period (obviously) and the book covered it, along with the accounts of battle, quite well and made them really rather readable.

The most interesting parts were the descriptions of Yolande of Aragon's interactions with the main players and her influence upon the situation.  I really had no idea of her level of influence before reading the book and found the author's information, while on the dry side, extremely illuminating.  She was really an amazing woman and really rather more interesting than Joan herself.

The writing was a bit drier and more textbook quality than I would have preferred and I found myself nodding off quite a few times, but the subject matter is really rather dry itself and it is extremely difficult to perk up descriptions of the battlefield and the political maneuvering so it is not truly a failing on the author's part.  It does, however, make for a book that unintentionally acts rather as a sleeping pill.

Whether you are interested in Joan of Arc or French history in general you will find this an interesting, if scholarly, read.  I certainly recommend it.

★★☆☆ = Liked It



Sunday, August 18, 2013

Giveaway: I Like Your Form by JD Holmes

After graduating from high school and working several dead-end jobs, JD lands a job as a personal trainer at a newly opened gym. At first he is inexperienced and shocked at how much money people are willing to drop to train with him. But soon he starts to learn the ropes of the business. It’s not long before JD carves a niche for himself training well-to-do housewives and successful older women. As he gives into these women’s demands, he is faced with an internal struggle: he wants to make money and retain clients, but he knows that what he is doing is wrong. If his girlfriend or one of his clients’ spouses ever found out about this other life he’s leading, everything could blow up in his face and it could mean the end of his career. But for the time being, what’s wrong with enjoying the attention of many attractive, sexy women who seem to be more than willing to please young JD? This hilarious and honest collection of stories includes advice for both personal trainers and clients and a look at the lesser-known-side of personal training.



Enter to win a copy!

US/Canada only





Saturday, August 17, 2013

Review: An Appetite for Murder by Lucy Burdette

Hayley Snow's life always revolved around food.

But when she applies to be a food critic for a Key West style magazine, she discovers that her new boss would be Kristen Faulkner-the woman Hayley caught in bed with her boyfriend!

Hayley thinks things are as bad as they can get-until the police pull her in as a suspect in Kristen's murder.

Kristen was killed by a poisoned key lime pie.

Now Hayley must find out who used meringue to murder before she takes all the blame.




From my personal collection.

I don't usually review the books I read for my own personal enjoyment, but I simply had to address this one.

This was just amazingly strange.  It was like someone made a list of what a cozy usually involves - a down on her luck heroine who is wrongfully accused of murder, a handsome cop who doesn't believe her and will provide a romantic interest in future books, and a group of quirky friends, including the requisite gay best friend (male) - and just wrote a book with those elements but without any actual thought about what makes a good cozy.

The main character, Hayley, was annoying, whiny, and frankly, generally unlikable as written.  And, she did a lot of "stumping" around.  Seriously, the author had her stumping down the dock, stumping onto the boat.  Really, it because almost amusing to see how much she "stumped" around that I almost started a list of how many times the author used the word!  And she was always either "motoring" around or "put-putting" around on her scooter.  Between the stumping, motoring, and put-putting I was ready to scream!

Plus, Hayley was supposed to be about twenty five but the author had her dressing in high top sneakers and saying "wicked".  Um, seriously?  I think you're off by a good ten years there, honey.

The author also tried to hard to be politically correct by constantly discussing the homeless problem in Key West, how Key West was home to a large number of gay men (no, seriously, she mentioned this over... and over... and over), blah, blah, blah.  It was just annoying more than anything.

The mystery itself was acceptable, but the story development left more than a bit to be desired.  And the main character's attempts to investigate to clear her name were clumsy and more than a bit improbable.

Overall, this was frankly neither a good mystery or a fun read.  It was a chore to get through the entire 291 pages, but I slogged through since I'd already started it.  I'd had high hopes for this and despite the setting and the food critic angle (which was actually quite interesting and the only truly well written parts of the entire book) my hopes were dashed.

I would give this 2.5 stars, but since I don't do half stars this is getting two full stars.  Why not round up to three, you ask?  Well, sadly, it just wasn't that good to even get that extra half star.  There are a plethora of other, better cozies out there.  Pick up one of those instead.

☆☆☆ = Just Okay



Friday, August 16, 2013

Book Excerpt: I Like Your Form by JD Holmes

JD Holmes, author of the book I Like Your Form, stopped by to share with us an excerpt from his book.






About the book:

After graduating from high school and working several dead-end jobs, JD lands a job as a personal trainer at a newly opened gym. At first he is inexperienced and shocked at how much money people are willing to drop to train with him. But soon he starts to learn the ropes of the business. It’s not long before JD carves a niche for himself training well-to-do housewives and successful older women. As he gives into these women’s demands, he is faced with an internal struggle: he wants to make money and retain clients, but he knows that what he is doing is wrong. If his girlfriend or one of his clients’ spouses ever found out about this other life he’s leading, everything could blow up in his face and it could mean the end of his career. But for the time being, what’s wrong with enjoying the attention of many attractive, sexy women who seem to be more than willing to please young JD? This hilarious and honest collection of stories includes advice for both personal trainers and clients and a look at the lesser-known-side of personal training.



About the author:

Growing up in South Philadelphia, JD was no different from any other kid. The middle of three siblings, JD filled his days playing wiffle ball and living for Sundays when his beloved Eagles would take center stage. His love of sports in his youth set the ground work for a career in the fitness industry. Driven to succeed, his work ethic in his first years in the workforce seemed to curb his interest in chasing girls-that is, of course, until he started working as a personal trainer. After years in the business, and always having a knack for storytelling, JD has decided to share these stories with the world.




Thursday, August 15, 2013

Review: Private School Blogger: I Need My iPhone by Sam Lyons

Starting a new school can be intimidating for any kid, but attending a private school is even worse. No one understands this better than Matthew Chumsley, who comes from a middle class family of 8. His family doesn’t belong to a country club, drive a fancy car or have maids to clean his house.

Trying to fit in, tech loving Matthew starts an on the fly blog and gamer club that helps him to bond with his classmates through coordinated antics, hilarious riffs about school, home and gaming.

In book one of the series, Matthew is determined to get rid of the healthy menu at his school cafeteria, while at the same time growing his blogger base and online gaming club. With his smart phone blazing, he orchestrates flash mobs in the cafeteria to try and bring regular kid food back into the school cafeteria.



E-book received for review.

This new series follows in the tradition of Diary of a Wimpy Kid with an intelligent and enjoyable read that incorporates fun illustrations into a cute story about a genuinely likable main character.

The book is actually written like blog entries, with each chapter being an entry, so most have comments from blog readers at the end which make the story even more fun.

The story also has a warm, friendly feel and you quickly find yourself happily drawn into Matthew's world.

If you're looking for a fun new series to read this summer, look no further.  I highly recommend this first volume and look forward to future books in a series that is sure to be a winner.

★★★★ = Really Liked It



Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Guest Post: Brian Haughton author of Ancient Treasures

Brian Haughton, author of Ancient Treasures, stopped by to share with us a piece he wrote.






About the book:

Why are so many people fascinated by treasure? Is it purely a desire for wealth, or is it also the romantic appeal of tales of lost ancient artifacts?

It is certainly true that the stories behind the loss and recovery of a number of ancient treasures read like edge-of-the-seat fiction, somewhere between Indiana Jones and James Bond.
In Ancient Treasures, you will read fascinating stories of lost hoards, looted archaeological artifacts, and sunken treasures, including:
  • The Sevso Treasure, a hoard of large silver vessels from the late Roman Empire--estimated to be worth $200 million--looted in the 1970s and sold on the black market.
  • The Amber Room, a complete chamber decoration of amber panels backed with gold leaf and mirrors, stolen by the Nazis in 1941 and brought to the castle at K√∂nigsberg in Russia, from which it disappeared.
  • The fabulous wealth of Roman and Viking hoards buried in the ground for safekeeping, only to be unearthed centuries later by humble metal detectorists.
  • The wrecks of the Spanish treasure fleets, whose New World plunder has been the target of elaborate salvage attempts by modern treasure hunters


About the author:

Brian Haughton is an author and researcher on the subjects of ancient civilizations, prehistoric monuments, and supernatural folklore.

His previous books include Hidden History; History's Mysteries; Lore of the Ghost; and Haunted Spaces, Sacred Places.

Born in Birmingham, England, he is a qualified archaeologist with a BA in European archaeology from the University of Nottingham and a master's in Greek archaeology from Birmingham University.




Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Review: The Photographed Cat by Arnold Arluke and Lauren Rolfe

With more than 130 illustrations, The Photographed Cat: Picturing Close Human-Feline Ties, 1890–1940 is both an archive and an analytical exploration of the close relationships between Americans and their cats during a period that is significant for photography and for modern understandings of animals as pets. This volume examines the cultural implications of feline companions while also celebrating the intimacy and joys of pets and family photographs. In seven thematic sections, Arluke and Rolfe engage with the collection of antique images as representations of real relationships and of ideal relationships, noting the cultural trends and tropes that occur throughout this increasingly popular practice. Whether as surrogate children, mascots, or companions to women, cats are part of modern American life and visual culture.



E-galley received for review.

As you know, I love all things cat so I was really psyched to be able to review an e-galley.  I have to admit that this was not quite what I'd expected, not that it was at all bad.

I was expecting something more along the lines of the typical cat book - pictures of cute kittens or cats looking adorable and with minimal text.  This, however, is more of a scholarly text which thoroughly discusses the lives of cats and their interactions with humans during the time period.

I'm not going to say that this was a particularly happy book.  You could tell that the majority of owners pictures merely tolerated the cats in their homes and some perhaps felt some sort of fondness towards them, but they were clearly not loved.  There was more of a feel of cats as home accessory or a sort of servant to kill rodents, but there was no love felt by the humans towards the cats.  This, of course, was really quite sad and I'm not big on sad animal books.  The authors, of course, did not actually show any abused animals, but the photos showed that the humans did not truly care for their cats.

The sole exceptions seemed to be the cats on ships.  Although, I have no idea what sort of sick person would put a cat on an active war ship.  You could tell that the sailors genuinely cared for their cats as mascots and pets.  They seemed to be the most caring and least abusive group depicted (some of the children pictured with cats seemed like budding serial killers, and you could tell that the farm cats were tolerated as mousers and kept in a cold barn all winter - if they were lucky).  They were the only group to be pictured actually looking at the cats with genuine fondness and handling them gently.

So, if you're looking for a scholarly text on human and cat interactions during the time period, this is it and I recommend it.  If you're looking for a light, happy book of cat pictures there are better options for you.

★★☆☆ = Liked It



Monday, August 12, 2013

Book Excerpt: Pleiadian Principles for Living by Christine Day

Christine Day, author of the book Pleiadian Principles for Living, stopped by to share with us an excerpt from her book.






About the book:

The Pleiadians call this time the New Dawning, a time for us to renounce our fear-based, three-dimensional illusions and consciously align with the new fourth- and fifth-dimensional energies that are anchoring on our planet.
Are you ready?

How can we live by Pleiadian principles and use them to assist us in our enlightenment process? This second major title channeled by Christine Day is a spiritual but practical roadmap that will show you how to navigate through these challenging, changing times, to understand the roles presaged by our conscious choice. With the clarity offered by Pleiadian Principles for Living, you will learn:
  • To understand the current changes facing Earth and what is to come
  • To activate pre-agreements made to support us in our mission
  • How to use tools and sacred sounds that provide opportunities to work with the energetic matrix of crop circles, providing knowledge and activations
  • How to use step-by-step tools for harnessing the energy of the Earth's natural forces through telepathic communion and communication with the Spiritual realms and all energetic alliances within the Universe
Pleiadian Principles for Living offers unique access to a wide variety of online audio files, featuring unlimited journeys of light initiations to support all readers in their individual awakening and evolution to their Spiritual home.



About the author:

Christine Day is an internationally renowned spiritual teacher, healer, and channeler, and is often referred to as the Pleiadian ambassador for the planet.

Christine travels the world channeling Pleiadian seminars and offering live transmissions from the Pleiadians. She has also been initiated into the Shaman traditions by the Pleiadians and offers Pleiadian Shamanic retreats and vision quests in different areas of the world. She currently lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

For more information visit: Christinedayonline.com.




Sunday, August 11, 2013

Review: The Secretary by Kim Ghattas

The first inside account to be published about Hillary Clinton's time as secretary of state, anchored by Ghattas's own perspective and her quest to understand America's place in the world

In November 2008, Hillary Clinton agreed to work for her former rival. As President Barack Obama’s secretary of state, she set out to repair America’s image around the world—and her own. For the following four years, BBC foreign correspondent Kim Ghattas had unparalleled access to Clinton and her entourage, and she weaves a fast-paced, gripping account of life on the road with Clinton in The Secretary.

With the perspective of one who is both an insider and an outsider, Ghattas draws on extensive interviews with Clinton, administration officials, and players in Washington as well as overseas, to paint an intimate and candid portrait of one of the most powerful global politicians. Filled with fresh insights, The Secretary provides a captivating analysis of Clinton’s brand of diplomacy and the Obama administration’s efforts to redefine American power in the twenty-first century.

Populated with a cast of real-life characters, The Secretary tells the story of Clinton’s transformation from popular but polarizing politician to America’s envoy to the world in compelling detail and with all the tension of high stakes diplomacy. From her evolving relationship with President Obama to the drama of WikiLeaks and the turmoil of the Arab Spring, we see Clinton cheerfully boarding her plane at 3 a.m. after no sleep, reading the riot act to the Chinese, and going through her diplomatic checklist before signing on to war in Libya—all the while trying to restore American leadership in a rapidly changing world.

Viewed through Ghattas's vantage point as a half-Dutch, half-Lebanese citizen who grew up in the crossfire of the Lebanese civil war, The Secretary is also the author’s own journey as she seeks to answer the questions that haunted her childhood. How powerful is America really? And, if it is in decline, who or what will replace it and what will it mean for America and the world?



Received for review.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not normally big on biographies but since I do like Hillary Clinton I agreed to give this a try.  I actually was pleasantly surprised.

I didn't particularly care for the author or her personal story but the portions that were actually about Hillary were engaging and gave the reader a better understanding of her as a leader and a human being.

If the book had been solely about Hillary it would have been four stars, but to listen to the author's whining about the horrible hours and ceaseless traveling quickly became grating.

If you're interested in Hillary and her time as Secretary of State this is the book for you - just skip the bits about the author's personal life.

★★☆☆ = Liked It



Saturday, August 10, 2013

Guest Post: Christine Day author of Pleiadian Principles for Living

Christine Day, author of the book Pleiadian Principles for Living, stopped by to share with us a piece she wrote.






About the book:

The Pleiadians call this time the New Dawning, a time for us to renounce our fear-based, three-dimensional illusions and consciously align with the new fourth- and fifth-dimensional energies that are anchoring on our planet.
Are you ready?

How can we live by Pleiadian principles and use them to assist us in our enlightenment process? This second major title channeled by Christine Day is a spiritual but practical roadmap that will show you how to navigate through these challenging, changing times, to understand the roles presaged by our conscious choice. With the clarity offered by Pleiadian Principles for Living, you will learn:
  • To understand the current changes facing Earth and what is to come
  • To activate pre-agreements made to support us in our mission
  • How to use tools and sacred sounds that provide opportunities to work with the energetic matrix of crop circles, providing knowledge and activations
  • How to use step-by-step tools for harnessing the energy of the Earth's natural forces through telepathic communion and communication with the Spiritual realms and all energetic alliances within the Universe
Pleiadian Principles for Living offers unique access to a wide variety of online audio files, featuring unlimited journeys of light initiations to support all readers in their individual awakening and evolution to their Spiritual home.



About the author:

Christine Day is an internationally renowned spiritual teacher, healer, and channeler, and is often referred to as the Pleiadian ambassador for the planet.

Christine travels the world channeling Pleiadian seminars and offering live transmissions from the Pleiadians. She has also been initiated into the Shaman traditions by the Pleiadians and offers Pleiadian Shamanic retreats and vision quests in different areas of the world. She currently lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

For more information visit: Christinedayonline.com.




Friday, August 9, 2013

Review: Her by Christa Parravani

Christa Parravani and her identical twin, Cara, were linked by a bond that went beyond siblinghood, beyond sisterhood, beyond friendship. Raised up from poverty by a determined single mother, the gifted and beautiful twins were able to create a private haven of splendor and merriment between themselves and then earn their way to a prestigious college and to careers as artists (a photographer and a writer, respectively) and to young marriages. But, haunted by childhood experiences with father figures and further damaged by being raped as a young adult, Cara veered off the path to robust work and life and in to depression, drugs and a shocking early death.

A few years after Cara was gone, Christa read that when an identical twin dies, regardless of the cause, 50 percent of the time the surviving twin dies within two years; and this shocking statistic rang true to her. "Flip a coin," she thought," those were my chances of survival." First, Christa fought to stop her sister's downward spiral; suddenly, she was struggling to keep herself alive.

Beautifully written, mesmerizingly rich and true, Christa Parravani's account of being left, one half of a whole, and of her desperate, ultimately triumphant struggle for survival is informative, heart-wrenching and unforgettably beautiful.



Received for review.

As I've mentioned before I'm not big into memoirs, biographies, whatever.  I was intrigued by the twin aspect of this particular memoir so I decided to give it a try.

The story was interesting, but I never really connected with the author.  She just felt very cold to me.  I felt no sympathy for her which made reading the book incredibly tedious.

Yes, this was a terrible story.  Yes, it's horrible that she lost her twin, but she doesn't have to be such a cold, cruel bitch about it.

The turning point from a two to a one star book came when the author coldly and carelessly described how her sister's twenty year old cat had passed from a stroke days before her sister committed suicide and how her sister helplessly watched him die.  It was very Dexter.  Really, she was that cold and empty and almost cruel about it.  It just turned me right off her as human being and, hence, her story.  When a person can just describe someone watching a family member (human or animal) die of a stroke right in front of someone and not even feel a shred of emotion I can no longer read about her trials and care.  That, to me, is no longer a human being and it sickens me.

So, if you are an animal hater or psychopath you may enjoy the author's cold, cruel attitude, but if you have a shred of humanity in you you will pass this by and not even let its meanness taint your personal space.  Do not touch this with a ten foot pole.

☆☆ = Didn't Like It



Thursday, August 8, 2013

Book Excerpt: Grievous Bodily Harm by Jane Bennett Munro

Janet Bennett Munro, author of Grievous Bodily Harm, stopped by to share with us an excerpt from her book.






About the book:

A new administrator is hired to ease the transition when overcrowded and landlocked Perrine Memorial Hospital is bought out by a behemoth hospital system that covers much of the Pacific Northwest and promises to build a new hospital in Twin Falls. But Marcus Manning, a good ole boy with roots in Twin Falls, far from making anything easier, manages to earn the enmity of medical staff and employees alike as he ruthlessly goes about eliminating anyone who might oppose him in his quest to become not only CEO of Perrine Memorial, but CEO of the entire system.

Unwisely, he starts his campaign with pathologist Toni Day, who blows the whistle on Marcus's twisted campaign of lies, blackmail and sexual abuse until the medical staff finally considers firing him, but is saved the trouble by someone with a more permanent solution ... of cyanide.

Toni, as one of the prime suspects, is forced to solve the mystery of Marcus's murder to keep herself out of jail, and as she delves further into the private lives of those involved in Marcus's life, finds herself forced to kill in order to save her life and finally learn the truth.



About the author:

Jane Bennett Munro, M.D., is a hospital based pathologist who has been involved in forensic cases during the course of her thirty-five year career.  She also spent 8 years on the Idaho State Board of Medicine and was chairman 1997-1999.

Now semi-retired, she lives in Twin Falls, Idaho, where she enjoys music, gardening, scuba diving, and skiing.

She is the author of Murder Under the Microscope, winner of an IPPY Award, and Too Much Blood.




Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Review: Get the Hell Off My Porch by The Brothers Boyce

The story of two unfortunate salesmen in Kansas City, attempting to sell alarm systems to people that don't want to buy them.

The stories range from funny, to sad, to unbelievable, all showcasing the monster the Summer Sales industry has become.



Received for review.

This was a nice collection of fun and (mostly) funny stories about the trials and tribulations of being a door-to-door salesman (which, frankly, I didn't know still existed).

This is a fast, entertaining read that anyone who has ever done direct sales will appreciate and enjoy.

★★☆☆ = Liked It



Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Featured Book: Alexander McKee: The Great White Elk by Frederick Wulff



About the book:

Alexander McKee, a mixed-blood British agent, was one of the few individuals in history able to unite Indians and exert unbelievable leadership on their behalf. When the War for Independence broke out between the Colonies and the British, McKee chose to remain loyal to his mother country, and assumed a major role on the American frontier. Because of his selfless devotion to the British and the Native Americans, he forfeited massive real estate and social standing when he left his Pittsburgh mansion to organize Indian raids on the American frontier, for which he was branded a traitor by the Continental Congress. This exciting and well-researched book sheds new light on McKee’s role in history as he maneuvered British frontier policy and promoted the interests of the beleaguered Native Americans. It’s little wonder that the Natives called McKee “The Great White Elk.”



About the author:

Frederick Wulff is a retired professor of history at Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minnesota. He earned his Master’s degree in history from the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee and pursued his PhD from TCU, where his dissertation led him deep into the life of Alexander McKee. Aside from history, Wulff’s other passion is travel, which has led him to tour extensively into more than 80 countries.




Monday, August 5, 2013

Review: The Power of Starting Something Stupid by Richie Norton

What if the smartest people in the world understand something that the rest of us don't? (They do.) What if they know that in order to achieve success, they will sometimes have to do things that others may initially perceive as stupid?The fact of the matter is that the smartest people in the world don't run from stupid, they lean into it (in a smart way).

In The Power of Starting Something Stupid, Richie Norton redefines stupid as we know it, demonstrating that life-changing ideas are often tragically mislabeled stupid. What if the key to success, creativity, and fulfillment in your life lies in the potential of those stupid ideas? This deeply inspiring book will teach you:

• How to crush fear, make dreams happen, and live without regret.

• How to overcome obstacles such as lack of time, lack of education, or lack of money.

• The 5 actions of the New Smart to achieve authentic success.

No more excuses. Learn how to start something stupid—the smartest thing you can do. Drawing on years of research, including hundreds of face-to-face interviews and some of the world's greatest success stories past and present, Richie shows you how stupid is the New Smart—the common denominator for success, creativity, and innovation in business and life.



Received for review.

I truly enjoy reading self help books.  I find it incredibly entertaining.  I was drawn to this by the seeming simplicity of the concepts presented.  I was, unfortunately, left a bit disappointed.

The author did present some new ideas, and presented them well, but what took away from the whole was the rehashing of the success stories we've all heard before - Oprah and J.K. Rowling were incredibly poor but now they're billionaires and you can be too!  The thing is, not everyone is an Oprah, Steve Jobs, or J.K. Rowling.  The author seems to refuse to acknowledge that fact.

So, while the reader may take away some useful ideas don't expect that this book will make you the next Bill Gates.  It's a nice book, but it's not really that effective.

★★☆☆ = Liked It



Sunday, August 4, 2013

Featured Book: Suddenly Solo by Harold Spielman and Marc Silbert




About the book:

Divorced? Widowed? Over 50? You're not alone. The number of mature men who are "Suddenly Solo," by choice or not, has grown remarkably in the past few years. No matter what the underlying circumstances, many Suddenly Solos find themselves searching for real-life coping skills as they enter into this new (and yes, exciting!) single phase of their lives.

Suddenly Solo has real-world answers to questions about dating, housekeeping, finances, sex (by the way, there are more single women out there then there are single men!) and so many other issues that will likely be on your mind.

Told in a light-hearted way (but backed by extensive, original research), Suddenly Solo is a welcome traveling companion for the mature divorced or widowed man as he transitions into his new world.




Saturday, August 3, 2013

Review: North of Nowhere by Liz Kessler

The sleepy seaside village of Porthaven hides a mystery: Mia’s grandad has vanished, and nobody knows why.

When Mia and her mom rush to Porthaven to help her grandmother, Mia imagines long dreary days with no one to talk to except for the old-time fisherman at her grandparents’ pub. But that’s before Mia finds a diary on an empty, docked fishing boat and starts exchanging notes with a local girl named Dee, a girl who seems much like her. Mia is excited about having a new friend, but why do their plans to meet each other never materialize? And why does Dee claim to be stuck at home due to violent storms when Mia sees only sunny skies?

Will Mia be able to solve the mystery of where — and when — her grandfather and friend might be before time and tide forever wash away their futures?



E-galley received for review.

I actually quite enjoy reading children's books and when I was offered the opportunity to give this one a try I was intrigued enough to load it onto my Kindle. Let's just say that I'm glad I have a Kindle Paperwhite with the built in light because I was up until nearly two in the morning finishing this one night!

I was immediately drawn to the idea of the book and the execution was really very well done. This was my first experience with the author so I didn't know what to expect but I was very pleasantly surprised. Although a children's book it is intelligent and complex and a worthwhile read for adults as well.

The characters were likable and the story, while complex in a Fringe-y way, was incredibly entertaining and well presented. The themes of family and friendship bonds were explored in a really beautiful, warm way and the book's resolution left you very satisfied.

I highly, highly recommend that you add this to your summer reading list! It is truly a must read! I certainly look forward to future releases from the author!

★★★★ = Really Liked It



Friday, August 2, 2013

Featured Book: Wade Boss: Hybrid Hunter by Marcus MacGregor



About the book:

DANGEROUS NEW WORLD. OLD-FASHIONED HERO.

Saddle up for a summer of science fiction adventure with the trail boss of YA novels, Wade Boss: Hybrid Hunter!

Meet Wade: Texas-born stuntman, Hollywood animal trainer, and genuinely nice guy. He can't say 'no' to someone in need, so when the LAPD asks for his help to catch an escaped tiger that's gotten trapped in an old lady's garage, he races to the scene.

Wade finally corners the rogue animal, only to discover it is no tiger, but a half-tiger hybrid terror! By the skin of his teeth he survives and captures the beast unharmed, which puts him on the radar of a covert hybrid-hunting agency.

Wade's conscience embroils him in a desperate struggle to protect unsuspecting civilians from a growing threat: genetic hybrids being engineered and then unleashed by mad scientists-unknown!

But no sooner does Wade discover his affinity for hybrid hunting than he realizes it has turned his loved ones into targets...




Thursday, August 1, 2013

Review: While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax

Samantha’s marriage has been complicated by love and compromised by a shattering family betrayal. Claire, an empty nester and struggling author, is wondering if clinging to old dreams can be more destructive than not having any dreams at all. And after countless battles with her faithless ex-husband, Brooke is coming to terms with the fact that her life is not the fairy tale she thought it would be.

But when Edward, the concierge of their historic Atlanta apartment building, invites them for weekly screenings of an addictive television show, the four of them embark on a season of surprises as they forge a bond that will sustain them through life’s hardest moments—all of it reflected in the unfolding drama, comedy, and convergent lives of Downton Abbey.



Received for review.

I'll admit it, despite my love for Hugh Bonneville I simply did not fall in love with Downton Abbey.  I know, I know, it's shocking!  So why, you ask, did I pick up a book about the show?  Well, it's really more of Chick Lit with Downton Abbey as the bonding agent.  It does address the show, but it's not like it's nonfiction about the show.

The author weaves four very disparate lives together beautifully, as she does in all of her books and her writing is lovely and engaging but the characters themselves weren't people you'd particularly want to be friends with if they were real people, but as characters they were interesting.  I didn't strongly connect with any of them, which made the book a bit less enjoyable than it could have been.  I frankly couldn't care less about Samantha's "problems", and Brooke was a wee bit stereotypical (her ex is a jerk, etc., etc.).

Despite the obvious flaws the idea and story were reasonably good and resulted in a tolerable read.

If you're looking for something full of feminine angst to read on the beach this summer, look no further.

★★☆☆ = Liked It