Sunday, July 31, 2016

Featured Book: No Cold as Bitter as the Mind by James F. Vickery

James F. Vickery's poetry is a declaration that, however ordinary and average he was, non-invidiously that he's different, his heart may not be the same as others.

His poetry is a contemporary blue-collar work scene, and it is about an experience actually undergone by the poetic voice that seeks to capture that quality of unpremeditation that is illusory in part.

He hoped that even the reader will find a freshness here, a certain-dare he say it?-poetic unconventionality.

His poetry is a culmination of his life - his devoted love for his wife and their dog, loss, his affection for nature, current events, and his mindset for battling a terminal illness.

About the author:

James F. Vickery, the author of IMMUNE FROM NOTHING I CAN THINK OF, was a poet from Denver, Colorado where he lived with his wife and their beloved dog.

These poems are his song - a melody of his life and times, a gathering of what he saw in the world.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Featured Book: Weight No Longer by Philip Caravella, M.D.

Americans continue to be crippled by obesity and Type 2 diabetes, and the epidemics are destroying lives, the insurance industry, and the entire health care system.

Philip Caravella, M.D., who has practiced family medicine for more than forty years, seeks to reverse the trend by providing easy-to-follow principles that can help resolve serious health problems.

While previous books have focused on diet, obesity, and fitness, they’ve failed to hit on the secrets to success in this life-changing book. Learn how to:

• separate misinformation from information you can use;
• grasp the full implications of health risks linked to obesity;
• maintain a healthy diet that promotes overall health;
• help children and other loved ones develop good habits.

About the author:

Philip Caravella, M.D., F.A.A.F.P., has practiced family medicine for more than forty years. He was the first section chief of family medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, an educator, and an expert in the areas of losing weight, obesity, exercise, fitness, Type 2 diabetes, and diseases related to obesity such as hypertension.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Review: You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

How far will you go to achieve a dream? That's the question a celebrated coach poses to Katie and Eric Knox after he sees their daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful, compete. For the Knoxes there are no limits--until a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community and everything they have worked so hard for is suddenly at risk.

As rumors swirl among the other parents, Katie tries frantically to hold her family together while also finding herself irresistibly drawn to the crime itself. What she uncovers--about her daughter's fears, her own marriage, and herself--forces Katie to consider whether there's any price she isn't willing to pay to achieve Devon's dream.

ARC received for review

When I first saw this I just thought “Huh, a book about dance moms but it’s gymnastics moms instead” and frankly didn’t have high hopes for it. I was pleasantly surprised when I was mistaken.

The book’s characters are completely and utterly batshit crazy. They make the overbearing moms on Dance Moms look downright sane and reasonable. I know some parents are really on their children to succeed and everything but this takes it to a whole new level.

I wanted to feel bad for Devon since she has such insane parents who put her under so much pressure but I really couldn’t muster even a twinge of sympathy. Devon was, frankly, an absolute bitch. She was the girl that everyone hated in high school because she was the size zero, brown nosing, backstabbing, two faced uber bitch who was nice to the teachers but made snide comments the moment they were out of earshot. I frankly wanted bad things to happen to her since she was such a miserable human being. I think it was a totally justifiable case of schadenfreude.

The mystery itself was interesting but not as compelling as the descriptions of just how out of control Devon and her parents were. The writing was obviously excellent since it drew me in so much that I genuinely disliked Devon so much.

Overall, while the characters are slimeballs of the worst possible order it’s truly fascinating to read their story. It’s like watching a car wreck - you just cannot look away. This is not a warm, fuzzy, happy beach read, but if you’re looking for an excellent, dark read where you genuinely enjoy disliking the characters then this is for you and I highly recommend it.

★★★★ = Really Liked It

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Review: Color Your Chakras by Susan Shumsky, DD

Color Your Chakras is a fun activity book for adults and children alike.

The chakras are powerful energy centers located in your subtle body. Unknown to many people, these vortexes of life energy govern and regulate your physical body. According to the ancient Tantric and Vedic scriptures of India, there are 14 chakras―seven major ones along your spinal column, and seven others, most of which are located in your brain. Each chakra performs a specific function and is associated with discrete body parts and aspects of mind.

Each chakra (or “wheel”) has a hub, where subtle energy conduits intersect; and spokes, which are radiations of subtle energy. Chakras are often likened to lotuses, and the radiations of energy are equated with lotus petals. The lotus petals on six of the seven major chakras comprise the entire Sanskrit alphabet, and the seventh major chakra vibrates all 50 letters of the Sanskrit alphabet.

Each left-hand page in Color Your Chakras includes a description and explanation of each chakra or chakra deity. Each right-hand page is an appropriate drawing. The explanations include information about the drawings and the specific colors that are mentioned in the scriptures of ancient India.

Received for review

I’m not a huge fan of the new coloring trend, not because I don’t enjoy the process but that the designs most books used are just so incredibly complicated. Sadly, this book is among those. Each image has so many tiny, tiny areas to color that it is becomes more tedious and frustrating than relaxing. That said, there are some images that are a bit easier to fill in, though those are mostly on the left hand, descriptive pages.

What saves this from being a complete frustrating bust are those descriptions of each chakra. The author packs a great deal of interesting information into a relatively small space and gives meaning to the images you are (supposed to be) coloring.

Overall, if you enjoy coloring incredibly complicated images with a very, very sharp colored pencil then this is for you and even if you are not a huge fan of coloring it may be worth a look just to read up on the information provided on the chakras. I cautiously recommend this to those who enjoy the subject.

★★★☆☆ = Liked It

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Featured Book: Omnipiece by Betty L. Sheldon

What if your greatest creation became your most bitter enemy?

When the Omnis set out to create a race of intelligent life-forms (ILFs), they were faced with a terrible choice of giving the gift of freewill or creating a world of robotic-like beings. The danger was that with freewill, the ILFs could fall prey to the deadly CXV virus. This highly invasive virus would take away the ILFs mental clarity and their ability to contact the exalted Ones who had given them life.

The Omnis made their decision, and as time passed, the virus began to attack Heosphoros.

Expecting a reaction from the Omnis and getting none, Heosphoros became more outspoken. Their silence convinced him that he had a cause. "I refuse to put up with being ignored by the Omnis!" he muttered to himself. "I can't tolerate being in their presence any longer. I'm staying away from them from now on...."

After leaving the Omnis, he told the Emmsis, "Since we belong to an order of ILFs who are much superior in our capabilities, we do not need these restraints. Our mental faculties far exceed theirs. Our thoughts follow the Omnis' thoughts. It is impossible for us to spoil the cosmos by being disorderly. We really need not be concerned with CXV!"

About the author:

Betty L. Sheldon is a retired elementary teacher, having taught in public and parochial schools, including an open classroom and a one-room school.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Review: Find Your Balance Point by Brian Tracy and Christina Stein

Accomplish what matters most

Because we all have too much to do, it feels like our lives are out of balance.

But Brian Tracy and Christina Stein argue that imbalance results not so much from doing too much but from doing too much of the wrong things.

They provide a process that enables you to sort out what is most important to you from among the many activities you could focus on.

When you can efficiently identify and accomplish what really matters to you, you've found your balance point.

Received for review

Having read Kiss That Frog! I was excited to receive this latest volume by the authors. It’s a slim volume that is quickly finished but that doesn’t take away from its message.

The idea the book promotes is that you need to know what your values are before you can even begin to flesh out what you want to do with your life. If you don’t know why you are doing something it’s just not worth it. This discussion of figuring out just what matters most to you in your life is certainly not new but it’s presented in such a way to make it easy for the reader to look into their own motivations through quizzes and other techniques.

The text is well written with a nice, quick pace that makes reading it a breeze. The authors use a very friendly, casual tone which makes the experience feel less clinical.

Overall, while the ideas and exercises are nothing groundbreaking this is a solid read either as a refresher on the materials which one can use to clarify their own values and goals or as a great introduction to the subject. Either way, this is a fast, beneficial read which should be appreciated by those who focus on self-improvement.

★★★☆☆ = Liked It

Monday, July 25, 2016

Review: The RN Diaries by Dolyn Keys

Vanity, Nadia, and Kensington—three nurses who have a penchant for high fashion, late nights, and using their feminine power over men—all work the night shift at Ellerton Memorial Hospital. But when they aren't saving lives, they're out on the town exploring their wild sides.

After numerous random hookups, the three women realize they want more excitement and arousal. When Vanity is fed up with being a nurse, she seeks other career options—hosting adult parties, and Nadia and Kensington are invited. The nights are filled with intrigue, secrets, passion . . . and then some. Nadia's sexual appetite is satiated, but her relationship is threatened by the shadows of her past. Kensington struggles to balance her work and personal life, while trying to figure out whether she wants to be the teaser or the teased. Searching for a quick sexcapade has now become a bit more complicated, as Vanity, Nadia, and Kensington begin to question their views of life, men, and what they want out of a relationship.

Received for review

Let me start by saying this is just straight up porn. There is some plot, but it is really just filler between the sex scenes. Now, that’s not to say that I don’t enjoy porn sometimes, but this was just a mess.

The writing was okay, but there was virtually no editing done on this and absolutely no proofreading since it was littered with typos and formatting errors. All these numerous mistakes sucked away any potential enjoyment the reader might have experienced while reading. I have frankly read fanfiction that was better written and certainly better edited.

The “story” (a.k.a. the bits between the sex scenes) was okay but nothing spectacular. The characters were self absorbed, miserable human beings (think the characters on Mistresses) who I actually wanted bad things to happen to. The sex scenes were the best written parts but since I didn’t actually care about the characters they left me yawning and speed reading through them.

Overall, between the physical mess of the book itself and the lackluster story (which ends with an unfortunate cliffhanger that sets up a sequel!?!) I really cannot recommend this. There are so many other, better stories out there that I really cannot fathom wasting time reading this. Just walk on by.

★★☆☆☆ = Just Okay

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Featured Book: Jellyfish Blues by William Burnette

Everyone wants to save the world. But what if it was really up to you? It is up to Bill Phillips, and he does not want the responsibility.

Reluctantly, he is thrown into an adventure from which he cannot escape. Along the way, he loses his girl, then his home, and then his job. He ends up on the run from the government and in the crosshairs of an assassin. All because of a mysterious box he discovers in his old house.

Luckily for him, he teams up with Jack Cavendish. 'Dish' is an ex-field operative who is tasked with bringing in Bill and his box. Instead of forcing Bill to give up his prize, they work together to unravel its secrets. They discover that somehow Bill has the power to change his appearance and to fight off attackers with shocking results. The pair is befriended by a mysterious attorney who knows about the box and its contents, but is hesitant to share the details.

Why is he so secretive? Is the situation as dire as the he wants them to believe? Can he be trusted?

About the author:

William Burnette was born and raised in the Northern Virginia area. He is a former IT professional where he was a Programmer, Analyst, and Product Manager. He now works on his writing as well as small mobile apps when he is not spending time with his family.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Featured Book: Swift and Brave by Elizabeth S. Eiler, Ph.D.

Animals abound with higher knowledge and purpose.This groundbreaking work explores: 
  • Life purposes, co-creative abilities, and soul missions of animals
  • Opportunities for spiritual healing and personal growth
  • Living in right relationship with other species
  • Character, afterlife, and connectivity of animal souls
  • Insights from interspecies communication and channeled messages
Through a diverse range of species from beluga whales, red squirrels, and flamingos to companion animals, Dr. Eiler sheds new light on the Divinity within all living creatures and the resultant moral imperatives for humanity.

In a deeply reflective work, science, metaphysics, and philosophy combine to open avenues of possibility and depth for our shared existence.

About the author:

Elizabeth S. Eiler, Ph.D. is a metaphysician, spiritual teacher, Reiki Master, and owner of Seven Stars Healing Arts, LLC. She is the author of Other Nations: A Lightworker's Case Book for Healing, Spiritually Empowering, and Communing with the Animal Kingdom and is a regular contributing writer for Lightworker's World.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Review: Mojave Incident by Ron Felber

On the night of October 21, 1989, nine glowing objects appeared over an empty stretch of the Mojave desert—and turned a couple’s quiet weekend into an unearthly nightmare of terror.

Elise and Tom Gifford say they were held captive in their camper by nonhuman creatures—and through love and prayer were able to live through psychological torment as their captors manipulated their minds with telepathic power.

The Watchers hovered over them for a day and a night, they say, stealing their thoughts and emotions, making them relive their most painful and intimate memories, bringing them to the brink of madness. Hours later they were alone again—alive but the visits continued
and the nightmare wasn’t over.

Called "The most frightening UFO book ever written", The Mojave Incident touches the subconscious fears deep in all of us.

Received for review

As a huge fan of The X-Files I still cannot pass up a book about UFOs, whether a fictional or (supposedly) non-fictional account, so I was intrigued when this arrived.

The book was supposedly based on real events but this was certainly a fictionalized account and as such took a bit of creative license with the events and characters. If said events actually occurred (which I seriously doubt, considering this read like a very poorly written X-Files fanfiction) then I almost feel worse for the poor aliens “abductors” who had to deal with the horrible Gifford family. Supposedly the Giffords “defeated” the aliens with the power of their prayers. Frankly, I can’t blame the aliens leaving after being prayed at constantly. That actually sounds like the worse end of the bargain.

Overall, between the rather lackluster writing and the genuinely unlikeable characters this was a bit of a disappointment and I really cannot recommend it unless you are a hardcore alien abductions fan.

★★☆☆☆ = Just Okay

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Review: Happy Habits by Vicki Morris

Learn to be Happier at work and in life in Just 4 Minutes a Day

Are you unhappy with your work? Disappointed with your career and life?

Have you been looking for a something new like a new job, a new company or a new career to make you happier and still feel the same a few months after you get it?

If so, then maybe it’s time to try a new approach. Author and Career Happiness Coach, Vicki Morris, is here to show us that we have the power to be happy now –within ourselves in the present moment. All we have to do is change our mindset and a few daily habits.

The key to success is to build energy-raising habits into our day so that we can become happier – no matter what our job or career situation is. Once we get in touch with our happiness within we will experience more happiness at our current job or be able to attract a new career that will keep us happy. Skipping this critical step is likely to result in the same cycle of unhappiness.

Happy Habits provides a fast, easy and effective way to deliver the needed energy and happiness boosts in just 4 minutes a day. The Happy Habit Method™ works because it combines proven happiness practices with a scientific habit creation method, which has been tested in the real world.

Inside this book you will discover:

• Why Happy Habits are the fastest and easiest way to be happier at work
• 40 ways to energize your career and life
• The proven science behind Happy Habits
• How to create your own Happy Habits and attract your dream and life
• An eight-week guide to building permanent Happy Habits
• And Much More

Imagine waking up each day excited about your work instead of struggling to find the energy to get out of bed. Think about having a coworker ask you why you are smiling more. These can happen to you, if you adopt the Happy Habits in this book.

Life is too short to feel like every day you are just getting by. The sooner you get Happy Habits, the sooner you will be able to transform the quality of your career and life and start feeling happier.

Received for review

I was intrigued when I first received this because who doesn’t want to change their life in just four minutes a day? Sadly, I was quite disappointed.

The book is a rehash of all the self-help information you’ve already heard and read for years. Such recommendations as getting adequate rest, leaving work at work, drinking more water, and eating well aren’t anything that the reader doesn’t already know. There is absolutely nothing new in this volume at all.

Overall, while this is a relatively quick read it is also a waste of time since you probably already know 99.9% of what the author suggests. You will not be magically transformed and love your job as a result of reading this rather condescending book. As such I really cannot recommend this.

★★☆☆☆ = Just Okay

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Featured Book: If You Were Me and Lived in Italy by Carole P. Roman

Join Carole P. Roman as she visits the Republic of Italy.

Learn what it is like to live in Rome, see the famous architecture, celebrate a favorite holiday and discover popular names for both boys and girls.

Be fascinated with it's diverse and rich history and colorful traditions.

On the way, you might learn a word or two in Italian!

About the author:

Carole P. Roman’s is the award winning author of the nonfiction If You Were Me and Lived in… series of children’s books. The first title in the collection, If You Were Me and Lived in…Mexico, won the Pinnacle Award for Best in Children’s Nonfiction in 2012. If You Were Me and Lived in…Russia and If You Were Me and Lived in...France were finalists in the Indie Fab Foreword Review Book of the Year. Norway and South Korea have also been named as Book of the Year with Rebecca's Reads and Children's Reader's View Book of the Year. Roman has also found success with her Captain No Beard children’s books. Her debut, Captain No Beard: An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate’s Life, was named a Kirkus Best of 2012, received a Star of Exceptional Merit, and won the Pinnacle Award in 2012. Roman lives on Long Island with her husband and very near her children.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Review: Eden by Candice Fox

Most homicide detective teams run on trust, loyalty, and the shared desire to put killers behind bars. Frank Bennett's partner, Eden Archer, thrives on darkness and danger. She has a rare talent for catching killers - but her idea of justice has little to do with courtrooms.

Now three girls are missing, and Eden is going undercover to a remote farm where the troubled go to hide and blood falls more often than rain. Frank’s job is to keep an eye on his partner while she's there - but is it for Eden's protection, or to protect others from her? Walking a tightrope between duty and desperation, Frank confronts a threat from Eden’s past—the sadistic crime lord Hades, who raised her. Suddenly, the hunter is the hunted. And a killer’s vicious desires are about to be unleashed . . .

Received for review

I was initially unsure about this since it sounded like Eden was a female version of Dexter - which she sort of is - but there is a great deal more depth to the story than just Eden’s predilection for revenge.

While this has none of the simplicity and cleanness of the Dexter novels it does share the dark feel. Eden isn’t actually a sociopath like Dexter, she’s just an run of the mill sadist, so her story is a lot more morally challenging. I actually kept wanting something bad to happen to her since she’s such an incredible bitch through 99% of the book. I genuinely have no idea how her partner even put up with her beyond bad behavior.

The mystery is well thought out and intriguing and keeps you engaged throughout, despite Eden’s frankly annoying conduct. The characters are well written and while I didn’t like some of them, including Eden herself, they were believable.

Overall, if you can get past the fact that Eden is a frankly horrible human being with very few, if any, redeeming qualities then this a very good read. I actually had more fun loathing Eden throughout the book than the killer she was up against. This is well written, solid read for those looking for something a little darker and more suspenseful than the usual mystery.

★★★★ = Really Liked It

Monday, July 18, 2016

Review: Aztec Midnight by M.C. Tuggle

When drug cartels begin vandalizing ancient Aztec sites throughout Mexico in search of the sacred obsidian knife of Aztec emperor Ahuitzotl, the Mexican government reaches out to the U.S. State Department for assistance.

Dr. Jon Barrett, an archaeologist and pre-Columbian weapons expert, then journeys to Cuernavaca with his wife Susanna at the request of Eric Winwood, a high-ranking State Department official, to find and rescue the knife before the cartels can claim it. Locating the knife proves more challenging and dangerous than Dr. Barrett anticipated, and he and Susanna soon find themselves at the center of the cartels' search.

For Dr. Barrett and his wife to survive, he will be forced to apply his knowledge of ancient weapons in the face of an ancient power he never imagined.

Received for review

This novella is small but packs a definite punch. From the very beginning it draws you in and keeps you interested. It also resolves things quickly and cleanly by the last page so there are no loose ends to leave you wondering after you close the book.

The characters left a bit to be desired, but that is almost to be expected in a story of this size. The plot required a bit more than the usual levels of suspension of disbelief (on par with a SyFy movie) but it was still entertaining.

Overall, this was a fast, enjoyable read that provides a bit more depth than a short story but isn’t so long that you lose interest. I certainly recommend it as a solid beach read.

★★★☆☆ = Liked It

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Featured Book: Witches Protection Program by Michael Phillip Cash

Wes Rockville, a disgraced law enforcement agent, is given one last chance to prove himself and save his career when he's reassigned to a 232 year old secret government organization. The Witches Protection Program.

His first assignment: uncover a billion-dollar Cosmetics company’s diabolical plan of using witchcraft for global domination, while protecting its heiress Morgan Pendragon from her aunt’s evil deeds. Reluctantly paired with veteran witch protector, Alastair Verne, Wes must learn to believe in both witches and himself.

Filled with adventure, suspense and a rousing good time, Michael Phillip Cash creates a tongue-in-cheek alternate reality where witches cast spells and wreak havoc in modern day New York City.

About the author:

Michael Phillip Cash is an award-winning novelist and screenwriter. His novels are best-sellers on Amazon under their genres – Young Adult, Thriller, Suspense, Ghost, Action Adventure, Fantasy, Paranormal Romance and Horror.

Michael writes full-time and lives on the North Shore of Long Island with his wonderful wife and screaming children. You can follow him @michaelpcash.

Connect with Michael on:

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Featured Book: Hole in the Day by Steven A. Carr

The pristine lakes and forests of Minnesota hold secrets. When a fortune in US twenty dollar, gold Liberties, belonging to the Northern Mississippi Ojibwe, vanishes in 1868, it sets off a 147-year chain of events from the land of sky blue waters to the exotic Cayman Islands. The legend of the lost gold survives generations of the rightful Native American owners, and treasure hunters seeking notoriety and wealth.

Two iron-willed Vietnam veterans pursue the legend for their own reasons; one for revenge for the life of his comrades, the other for redemption, and to save the life of his family. Unfortunately, everyone with any information about the lost coins seems to disappear.

About the author:

Steven A. Carr is President of Carr & Associates, a private investment firm. Before forming Carr & Associates, he held several executive positions, and participated in the ownership and management of a number of broadcasting, telecommunications, and utility ventures throughout North America, Central America, and the Caribbean.

In addition to his business interests, Steve Carr is a retired member of the faculty of the Mays Business School at Texas A&M University, where he taught strategic management for 15 years. He has served on many corporate boards, councils, and commissions. He is a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, and Facilitator with the Bridges to Life Restorative Justice Program.

Steve Carr has a bachelor's degree from Texas A&M and a master's degree from the University of Texas. He lives in Texas in winter and Minnesota in the summer.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Review: Anthology 1: A Collection of 8 Science Fiction & Fantasy Short Stories by The Novel Fox

Anthology I, The Novel Fox's first published anthology, features eight science fiction and fantasy short stories by authors Dominic Dulley, Gerri Leen, T.D. Edge, Rati Mehrotra, Shawn Scarber, Ernesto Pavan, Peter White, and Shane Halbach.

With stories ranging from "Paying Old Debts," about a thoughtful sex robot assassin, to "A Wand's Tale," chronicling the short life of a sentient magic wand, to "Subsidence," which includes a horrific golf hazard, the stories of Anthology I are riveting from beginning to end.

We hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

Received for review

I’m a big fan of short story collections. I have loved short stories in general since my first introduction to them in the form of an Agatha Christie anthology. They provide a lovely dose of quality content in a bite sized form. They’re great to read back to back or one at a time when you have a few minutes. So, needless to say, I was quite excited when this anthology crossed my path.

As a Science Fiction and Fantasy collection I was expecting some far out stuff, but each story was remarkably down to earth and thought provoking. My favorite story in the collection was Paying Old Debts which sounds bizarre since it is about a sex robot assassin (no really) but it was actually quite touching. A Wand’s Tale was also entertaining and but bittersweet.

Overall, Science Fiction fans will find this collection a lovely read and I certainly recommend it.

★★★★ = Really Liked It

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Review: Prelude by Cheryl A. Malakoff and Robert A. Clampett

A dispute over a recently unearthed inheritance, worth millions, pits a deceased woman against her elderly living children in a compelling trial that tests the implausible claim of reincarnation’s legitimacy in a court of law.

When psychologist Carol Klein’s previous life is revealed in vivid detail through hypnosis, she begins an arduous quest filled with twists and turns to verify her recent past as the heiress-activist, Iris Middleton Paulson. With the aid of an Asian physician-mystic and her skeptical, politically ambitious attorney-fiancĂ©, this mismatched team builds a fact-by-fact case to prove her claim. A landmark trial sets off a firestorm as riveting testimony from authorities in science, medicine and religion puts our fundamental understanding of life and death at risk—shattering beliefs in a final mortality. The ensuing trial threatens to upend legal, medical and religious institutions worldwide.

More truth than fiction, Prelude is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the purpose of life.

Received for review

Once in a while I come across a book just so bizarre that I genuinely wonder if the author was high when he or she wrote it. This is one of those books.

Yes, you read that description above correctly - this is the story of a deceased woman who was reincarnated having a test of wills against her elderly living children. And yes, it’s just as whacked out as it sounds.

If one can get past the bizarre premise the story itself disappoints as well. The characters (living, deceased, otherwise) are boring and lifeless. The dialogue was stilted, the descriptions boring, and the setting bland. The only saving grace of the entire book was that the chapters were mercifully short at about five pages apiece so you could rest before diving back into the mess.

Overall, between the frankly outrageous premise and the bad writing I really cannot recommend this at all. Even picking it up for the “WHAT?!?!” factor is just not advised. Just walk on by. I would recommend using this as bird cage liner but I frankly wouldn't be that cruel to the poor birds.

☆☆☆☆ = Didn't Like It

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Featured Book: Will Harper the Boy with the Heart of a Man by Rob Smithson

This dramatic novel is set in the early 19th century during very dangerous times in British society and the Empire and is told in an interesting and engaging style, which allows the reader to get to know all the different characters in an easy manner.

When someone dies it is a time of great sadness, but not when Will Harper dies, this is a time for joy and thanksgiving for a young life that touched and healed many people, and because of the unique opening of a happy funeral, readers are drawn into the story immediately. His life is told by the people who loved him and whose lives he touched.

This is a story of finding love and hope in places where things like that are thin on the ground.

About the author:

Born into post war Britain in 1948 the author spent much of his early life on a tough council estate where regular gang warfare occurred. He had to learn the hard way to run from the scene. His schooling was basic secondary school, leaving as soon as possible at the age of 16 despite pressures from the tutors and family who saw his potential.

Entering into sales in real estate with a reputation of being able to sell ice cream to Eskimos he had many successful years working with people from all walks of life.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Review: Ticket on a Crippled Crab by Robert Kettering

Funny things happen when a scatterbrained young American named Mike goes to Paris to become rich and famous composing wise and wonderful aphorisms. Commercial success eludes him, yet he nevertheless enjoys an exciting lifestyle of Left Bank hijinks...until he meets and marries a strange Russian girl whose family makes its living by stealing from senile old people. As the story begins, Mike is living with his wife's family in a large apartment belonging to his wife's wealthy godmother. The family is bilking her. Furious at his ignoble domestic situation, and disappointed by the failure of his aphorisms business, Mike decides to murder the leader of the family, his wife’s diabolical aunt, in order to win the godmother's fortune for himself. He enlists the help of two friends: a highly competent but amoral Englishman and a crazy Italian-American painter. Elaborate schemes are hatched, all of which move Mike toward a new career, one less glamorous than originally envisioned but better suited to his talents.

Received for review

This sounded promising since I usually love a dark comedy but I was sadly disappointed.

The writing has a nice flow at first but it gets gradually more and more obnoxious as the author tries his very best to be witty and entertaining.  Any enjoyment is sucked away as the pages turn and the writing becomes more and more forced.

The main character is essentially a complete gold digging jerk and the side characters are bland and lifeless.  I couldn't bring it in myself to scrounge up any interest or concern for any of them.

Overall, this was a complete disappointment.  It had a marginal amount of entertainment value at the very beginning which did not last.  I really cannot recommend this at all.

★★☆☆☆ = Just Okay

Review: The Jericho River by David W. Tollen

History isn't names and dates -- it's an adventure story.

And so is The Jericho River. Both a fantasy novel and a history of Western Civilization, it's won multiple awards, including first place at the London Book Festival and the Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

The Jericho River flows through a magical world shaped by myth and history. Young Jason Gallo sails the river on a dangerous quest to rescue his estranged father. He battles minotaurs and pirates, flees barbarians, stumbles into mummies' tombs, and outwits fairies, philosophers, and scientists. Along the way, he finds love and betrayal, faces the legacy of a broken family -- and flees a hidden foe who threatens all he holds dear.

But Jason's tale is more than an adventure story. The river flows like a timeline, carrying the young man through historic lands -- Sumer, Babylonia, ancient Greece, Medieval Europe, Napoleon' empire, and many others -- tracing the history of Western Civilization, from its Middle Eastern origins to the modern era. Professor Gallo, Jason's father, is a historian, and his notes outline the journey, revealing the truth about Cleopatra, King Arthur, and the fall of the Roman Empire. He explains how Snow White began as a goddess and why Eve was created from Adam's rib, as well as the origins of coffee, the cat, chivalry, the Internet, Atlantis -- and much more.

Received for review

I wanted to like this more than I actually did.  The idea was great - history as an adventure story - but the presentation was severely lacking.

The narrative was so dry I found myself nodding off at several points.  It was truly a struggle to remain long enough to actually complete a chapter.  It was so boring I may as well have just read an actual textbook.  I learned a grand total of nothing from the book but consumed enough caffeine while reading it to rival a medical resident.

Overall, this was a giant waste of time and energy.  If you really want to learn more about the time I would seriously recommend just reading a textbook.  I'm pretty sure any textbook on the subject would be infinitely more entertaining than this somnolent volume.  Needless to say, I really cannot recommend this at all unless you are looking for a cure for your insomnia.

★★☆☆☆ = Just Okay

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Featured Book: When I Grow Up I Want to Be a Good Person! by Wigu Publishing

Blake and Brendan would do almost anything to get out of going to Mr. Becket’s funeral.

It will be boring and sad—and dead people are scary! There might even be ghosts!

But Mom and Dad insist. Mr. Becket was a good person, and it is right to gather with his family and friends to remember him and all the good things he did.

So what’s so good about remembering a dead person? A lot.

Readers learn with Blake and Brendan what it means to be a good person and all the ways a good person makes a difference in people’s lives, even long after they’re gone.

About the author:

Wigu Publishing is a collaboration among talented and creative individuals working together to publish informative and fun books for our children. Our titles serve to introduce children to the people in their communities who serve others through their vocations. Wigu's books are unique in that they help our children to visualize the abundant opportunities that exist for them to be successful and to make a difference. Our goal is to inspire the great leaders and thinkers of tomorrow.

Wigu's newly released children's book series, When I Grow Up..., features vocations many children dream about - a firefighter, a teacher, a soldier, a nurse - all combining engaging elements of storytelling with real world facts and information. Both educational and fun, the fully illustrated book series takes its readers on a journey of discovery, exploring how one finds their career, learns the necessary skills, and how they excel and grow within their chosen field.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Featured Book: Gods, Goddesses, and Saints by Barbara Carroll

Chanting exists in many religious and spiritual traditions. The practice of chant focuses the mind and body with simple physics of sound, while the choice of chant can reflect a specific need, or honor a tradition.

Gods, Goddesses, and Saints is a user-friendly, in-depth guide to a solitary practice of chant and meditation, providing chants from many faiths, from pagan deities to saints from many religions. Beautifully organized in many different ways, this book encourages you to explore the resonance of important figures and their associations and meanings across many traditions. You will also find blank forms to help you create your own chants and meditations.

Gods, Goddesses, and Saints provides a fresh view of spiritual practice and new ideas for the future of faith.

About the author:

Barbara is a retired music teacher and physician assistant, with a degree in religion. She lives in New York City.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Review: I Only Quote From the Best - Revisiting Hollywood's Golden Age by Candie Graham

Classic film lovers live and breathe them.

Movie-quoting enthusiasts seek to find - and use - the best of them.

Film scholars look to them for continued inspiration.

And for the curious, I Only Quote From the Best - Revisiting Hollywood's Golden Age, provides an engaging introduction to 500 great untapped movie lines from every genre.

Seeing their unforgettable faces in photos from yester-year, you can now connect their names with these celebrated lines.

Highlighting some of my personal favorites within each chapter, have fun finding your own. Enjoy!

Received for review

Granted, I am not exactly a movie buff, but I fully expected to like this more than I actually did.  The idea was interesting, but the reality lacked ... a lot.

The films featured were from the first half of the 20th century so they contained period typical levels of misogyny that I found rather distasteful.  I can only imagine that the author should have been able to find many, many more quotes that were not demeaning to women but simply chose not to.  I'm not sure if the author found the frankly rude quotes to be amusing or not.  Either way, they took almost all enjoyment from the reading as a offensive quote appeared on nearly every page.

The quotes that were not demeaning were either just bad or stupid and most focused on religion.  It was just a disappointing lot all around.

Overall, I really cannot recommend this at all.  It's not a fun read and even for film buffs I can't imagine it would be entertaining.  I definitely recommend a pass.

★★☆☆☆ = Just Okay

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Review: Super Genes by Deepak Chopra, M.D. and Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D.

The authors of the New York Times bestseller Super Brain present a bold new understanding of our genes and how simple changes in lifestyle can boost genetic activity. The leap into "radical well-being" is a promise waiting to be fulfilled.

"You are not simply the sum total of the genes you were born with," writes Deepak Chopra and Rudy Tanzi. "You are the user and controller of your genes, the author of your biological story. No prospect in self-care is more exciting."

Learning how to shape your gene activity is at the heart of this exciting and eagerly-anticipated book from the bestselling duo behind Super Brain, which became a nationwide hit on public television.

For decades medical science has believed that genes determined our biological destiny. Now the new genetics has changed that assumption forever. You will always have the genes you were born with, but genes are dynamic, responding to everything we think, say, and do. Suddenly they've become our strongest allies for personal transformation. When you make lifestyle choices that optimize how your genes behave, you can reach for a state of health and fulfillment undreamed of even a decade ago. The impact on prevention, immunity, diet, aging, and chronic disorders is unparalleled.

Received for review

I love Deepak Chopra and have read almost all of his books so I was thrilled to snap this up.

As with most of Dr. Chopra's books this is certainly not light reading. There is a great deal of medical information but the authors do a very good job of explaining everything very well so that laymen can understand.

I was almost hopeful at the beginning of the book, wondering if there were ways that I could change my health but by the end of the book my hopes had been dashed.  Sure, if you eat well and exercise and everything else every other book (and common sense) recommends then you'll be fine.  However, you can't truly change your genes and if you are born without the genes that make you a supermodel or prodigy you obviously can't develop them later in life.  So, sure, you can become a bit healthier and perhaps a bit happier after and certainly more informed after reading this but will you become a whole new you?  Probably not.

Overall, this was an interesting read and certainly has plenty of educational value.  If the reader goes into it having reasonable expectations then this could very well be a positive read for them and I certainly recommend it to those who can take the recommendations with a grain of salt.

★★★★ = Really Liked It

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Featured Book: The Girl Called Princess Charlotte by Gerard Shirar

Boston attorney Theodore Murphy, Teddy to his friends, has been handed a seemingly straightforward case: to recover a valuable painting by Franz Winterhalter, Young Girl Called Princess Charlotte, which was stolen by the Nazis from Jewish art dealer Dr. Markus Steiner.

When the charitable organization founded in his will by Steiner learns that Anna Vogler has put the painting up for auction they demand its return. But Teddy Murphy finds that Vogler’s attorneys aren’t prepared to give up without a fight…and as the widow of a World War II veteran, she makes a sympathetic witness. Teddy learns that she has no proof of purchase, her husband sent the painting home from Europe near the end of the war, and a mystery surrounds where and how he got it. Armed with this information and Markus Steiner’s diary, Teddy sets out to prove that the Steiner Foundation should rightfully own the painting.

Joined by his girlfriend Judith Frazer, Teddy learns about Markus from the trenches of World War I to his daring escape from Nazi Germany, as together they watch a remarkable life story unfold in the pages of Markus’ diary, while they pursue every available avenue to find out the truth about the painting.

This vivid, beautifully researched historical thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat, while introducing you to the suffering of World War I soldiers, the shocking night life of Berlin, the intrigues of the international art world, the horror of the rising Third Reich…and the compassionate dedication of those who still work to bring justice to the Jews of Europe.

About the author:

Gerard Shirar graduated from Purdue University and is a twenty-year veteran of the United States Army, serving in Korea and Vietnam.

He practiced law in Massachusetts for fifteen years, and is the former Director of Security for the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Review: Full Moon Stages by Judith Malina

As cofounder of the internationally-known, highly-controversial radical political troupe, The Living Theater, author Judith Malina is one of the leading female countercultural figures of the 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond. in FULL MOON STAGES: PERSONAL NOTES FROM 50 YEARS OF THE LIVING THEATRE, she creates an intimate memoir in a unique format with a collection of personal notes written on every full moon for 50 years from 1964 to 2014. These never-before-published entries reveal Malina's most private thoughts and inform the reader on what The Living Theatre was performing as they wound their way from New York City to Italy, France, Belgium, Germany and Brazil in a nomadic series of notable performances of such underground classics as The Brig, The Connection, and Paradise Now. Malina is relentless in her commitment to the full moon schedule, writing regardless of her current life circumstance. Notes issue forth from hotels, trains—even prison, offering a light on the consequences of holding true to her code of the theatrical expression of her pacifist-anarchist principles. The book's format is well-suited for modern readers interested in history of the counterculture. In addition, the book includes 30+ rare historical photos from Living Theatre archives.

Received for review.

I am not a theater person in any shape or form.  I don't just don't do plays.  However, this was an intriguing read.

"Read" is perhaps a bit strong since the book has an entry for each occurrence of the full moon for the fifty year span.  Most of the time it's just a line or two but the book is formatted almost like a scrapbook with plenty of pictures illustrating the entries so it feels more cohesive.

Overall, this was a fast, entertaining read.  Each snippet was a snapshot of the author's life at the time and it was nice to see all her activities.  Though the entries do become quite sad at the end the vast majority are upbeat.  If you are interested in theater then this may be a quality read for you.

★★★☆☆ = Liked It

Monday, July 4, 2016

Back from Hiatus!

Hello again!!!

First, Happy 4th of July to everyone who celebrates it!

And, I'm back from my annual unintentional June hiatus!
Every single year I'm surprised when I just don't have enough time to read and write reviews during the start of the summer.  With all the preparation and maintenance all my green growing things seem to need I always fall behind.  But, I should be back to my usual schedule for the remainder of the summer starting tomorrow!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Featured Book: Do You Have an Auntie Mae? by Laurie A. Radford

Fun times spent with family are a great part of growing up…and a delightful aunt can create some of the most memorable adventures!

This charming story in verse introduces Auntie Mae, who knows how to make every day special. With outings to wonderful places, exciting games, and lots of love, Auntie Mae is the children’s favorite aunt.

Colorful and happy, this story reminds readers of all ages that an aunt—no matter what her name is!—can be one of the best things about being a kid.

About the author:

Laurie A. Radford loves to write. She has written poetry and juvenile fiction, and has even authored an educational brochure. A retired nurse,entrepreneur, and voice talent actor,she is focusing now on her career as a freelance writer. Married and living with her family in Maryland, Laurie is the daughter of the real life “Auntie Mae”.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Featured Book: Keeping It Cool by Taylor Hardman

Bill Evans feels his life plan is on track. He has his own heating and air conditioning company in the hot California town on the banks of the Colorado River. He has enough work to survive if he keeps expenses down. The repairs and upgrades on an old house he bought at auction are coming along.

Then, a box of old letters sends him on a detour. A beautiful young history teacher offers to help him research the events described in the letters and learn more about the soldier and the young woman who had dreams of their own. Soon there is more than just research involved.

Having your own business is never easy, certainly not in a tight economy, and complications are soon multiplying. Can Evans meet all the challenges and still find time to follow his heart?

About the author:

Taylor Hardman worked as a high school teacher and administrator, teaching a variety of classes including creative writing and consumer math. Summers were spent helping in the family heating and air conditioning business. Interests include travel, reading, writing, and photography, especially pictures of the four Hardman daughters and family pets.