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Review: Run to Me by Diane Hester

[ 1 ] August 11, 2014

16988205Reviewed by Melanie Kline

Run to Me was by far the best, most exciting, edge of your seat book that I have read in quite some time. I just couldn’t put it down and blew through the pages like hurricane winds.

Shyler O’Neil’s son is killed during a robbery and she retreats to her parent’s secluded cabin in the woods after no one believes that they were actually assaulted–not the police, not her family, and not even her husband. She is confused, depressed and does everything she can to avoid contact with anyone she doesn’t  absolutely have to communicate with.

Zack Ballinger is a ten year old boy in an abusive home with two other foster children, Reese and Corey, and it falls to Zack to take care of the younger boys. One afternoon, Zack wanders into an abandoned warehouse unaware that the boys had followed him until later that evening. Zack was at the wrong place at the wrong time and never realized it. Suddenly two people – Vanessa and Nolan – impersonating Child Protective Services officers show up at the door and take the boys away from their abusive foster parents. Reese and Corey are thrilled to have been rescued and are looking forward to the new life that Vanessa promises them. Zack has reservations and never fully trusts them and when he finds out that the two are truly not CPS and want something from him, he convinces the younger boys to make a run for it.

Circumstances separate the boys and Zack winds up at Shyler’s cabin. In her depressed and confused mental state she thinks that Zack is her own son, Jesse. Eventually, Vanessa and Nolan catch up with Zack and the race is on to get away from the “bad guys”.

Run To Me is intense, exciting and very dramatic. This is not the type of book you would want to take on vacation as you would find yourself reading the book instead of going out to do things. In fact, the only negative thing I can say for Run To Me is the disappointment I felt when I realized that this was Diane Hester’s first book and I couldn’t find other books she had written to read. I will definitely be watching the bookshelves in anticipation of her next story.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Random House Australia. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Mailbox Monday

[ 13 ] August 10, 2014

Welcome to Mailbox MondayMailbox Monday are hosted by Marcia at Mailbox Monday blog

Here are the books that made their way into my mailbox last week:

For Review – Paper Copies

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Personal Kindle Purchases

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Review: What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman

[ 3 ] August 10, 2014

Kristin-Newman-What-I-Was-Doing-While-You-Were-Breeding-coverReviewed by Alisha Churbe

Newman’s memoir, What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding seemed like it would be a perfect book for someone disinterested in having children and spending their life travelling on exotic adventures instead. Newman​ does deliver on exotic adventures–just not on the kind I expected. The memoir is full of description after description of sexual exploits, good looking men, Newman’s failed attempts at relationships and a small amount of travel narrative. The synopsis promises “mastering the art of ‘vacationship’” and tales “that will have readers scrambling to renew their passports.” Unless you plan to travel in Newman’s footsteps and leave the country for the sole purpose of bedding men, I strongly doubt you’ll rush out to renew your passport.

The book is intriguing, entertaining and humorous. It hits all the marks there, so it’s not a failure. Newman tells tales from the voice of a strong, independent woman and is really willing to try almost anything once. Newman, however, didn’t choose the single, travelling life. She merely traded it in in lieu of responsibility and societal norms of marrying and bearing children in your twenties and thirties, but she never stops hoping and wishing that she’ll end up there someday. She was searching for love and in the process had some fantastic experiences. Her travels stemmed from not having a perfect boyfriend to have children with and her need to escape the pressure to find that man/situation. Newman’s stories are focused on world travelling to experience exotic men and tales of her sexual exploits. Newman’s stories are told in linear fashion, broken out by destination.

I was intrigued because amidst these stories that are written in conversational voice (you’ll be tired at the end), there were at least descriptions of some of the places (rather than beds and other locations of sexual exploits). The book is a fast read and does provide entertainment, just not at all what the book premise promises or what I expected from the book. The book is written well, but not great.

I do not believe Newman has mastered the art of “vacationship” unless you count picking up and sleeping with the first man you encounter when visiting a new place, but she does at least make attempts at describing travels and living arrangements that could be compelling to other world travelers. She also takes the road less travelled (no 4 star resorts for the most part) which I can truly appreciate.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Part-time fiction writer, Alisha Churbe lives in Portland, Oregon. In the rare instances when you can pry her away from books, Alisha can be found travelling in foreign countries, cooking, or hiking with her husband Michael and dog Euro.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Three Rivers Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: The Hit by Melvin Burgess

[ 1 ] August 10, 2014

18222538Reviewed by Rebecca Donatelli

I can honestly say that I chose this book by its cover, which is not something I typically do when picking out my reading material, however, a marketing job well done! The red cover boasting a pill immediately made me think of Sex, Drugs & Rock and Roll, which is something I am drawn to in novels; I decided to just go with my initial reaction and read it. After getting halfway through it, I instantly was placed into the mind of a Millennial. This book depicted the angst and torture that Millennials are going through, where the world is ending because they don’t get their way and everything is so dramatic. It’s not a knock on their character, just a generalized statement through past generational research on my part. Coming from a generation whose work ethic and mindset is completely different, I tend to not be interested in whining, which is what I got from the less-than-developed characters.

The Hit focuses on Adam and his sad life, with a “girlfriend” who isn’t interested and a brother that is MIA. Death is the drug on the street, glamorized by the famous Jimmy Earle and passed out like candy to anyone who is interested in living seven fabulous carefree days before taking their last breath. This poses the obvious question of “If you had one week to live, what would you do?” As you read that, you start to think, or at least I did, and I ended up creating a list in my mind of all of the things I want to accomplish, which was the positive that came out of this book for me. For Adam, he has nothing to lose so taking Death means he can do all of the things that seem important to him before he dies. What could be so worthwhile at such a young age? This is a book about kids who idolize the idols who overdosed righteously.

For me, the writing was good, the read was fast, the idea was thoughtful but the characters were hollow. I couldn’t relate to Adam in any other fashion than he was a typical kid who thinks the world is ending because he lost the love of his life at 17. I felt no attachment to him which is what I look for in a good novel. Having seen the movie “In Time” recently, I was reminded of how familiar this idea was of living it up for a week and then it just ending. My favorite character was Christian, the psychopath who is completely unpredictable and can change moods at the drop of a pin. However, he wasn’t enough to keep me entertained for long.

In summary, not my favorite read this year and when they say don’t judge a book by its cover, well, there is something to be said about that.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 

Rebecca is passionate and insane, empathetic and aggressive, loud and predictable. She loves reading, writing, shopping and creating. She is what she is and it may not be what the world wants but it is what it is. Love.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Scholastic. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: An Air of Treason by P.F. Chisholm

[ 1 ] August 8, 2014

Air-of-Treason-Med-Res-Front-Cover-179x276Reviewed by Charity Lyman

An Air of Treason is the first book in the Sir Robert Carey Mysteries that I have read. I love mysteries and this one looked quite interesting. We delve into the world of Tudor court and plunged into intrigue and murder! In spite of a few problems, I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to possibly reading another in the future.

Since I haven’t read any other books by Chisholm, I was somewhat lost at first over who was who and what exactly was going on. We meet a man who is trailing another person to kill him, and then it jumps to another person and I wasn’t quite sure what had happened…or who the good guy was. Within 15 pages or so I had figured out that Sir Robert Carey was the main character and the good detective, hence the name of the series. He needs to find out what happened to Amy Dudley and whether her death was in fact accidental or if there was foul play afoot. What Sir Carey really wants is his warrant and fee from the Queen. But alas, he must do her bidding and follow the clues.

One thing I personally liked was all the history. I didn’t really know much about this time period before starting the book and while some of it was confusing I got along fairly well. There were some are terms and words thrown around that I did not recognize but thankfully there was also a glossary in the back of the book that provided meanings for many of the words. If that wasn’t in there, I would have been going to Google a lot! The characters were interesting and some even a bit scary. I was pleased to see that Sir Robert Carey turned out to be a pretty good guy.

The main problems I had with the book were due to errors in spelling and grammar, along with the use of swear language that sometimes seemed unnecessary. Some of the language was a bit crude, such as detailed descriptions of people going to the bathroom in the woods, etc. Granted, these issues were very minor and I do realize that the author was likely just trying to stay true to the times. Overall, I had a fun time reading An Air of Treason and enjoyed trying to figure out the mystery at hand.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Charity lives in Illinois and is the oldest of 6 children. The family also has 3 dogs and a cat. Reading is a hobby when not cooking, baking, sewing or enjoying music. She reads many different genres but Christian fiction is a favorite. Charity can be found often at her blog, Giveaway Lady

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Poisoned Pen Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: 125 Best Chicken Recipes by Rose Murray

[ 1 ] August 8, 2014

51SUJW04QhL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Reviewed by Caleb Shadis

A while ago I was offered the chance to review a cookbook. Since chicken is a healthy protein to ingest and my wife and I like to eat it, we thought 125 Best Chicken Recipes would be right up our alley.

The cookbook starts off with a little information about chicken and with some wise warnings about raw chicken preparation. While chicken tastes great, not taking correct measures to avoid salmonella poisoning can ruin a great meal, or even an entire weekend!

The first thing that my wife liked about this cookbook is that not only does it give you a recipe to prepare chicken for a meal, it also gives suggestions for the entire meal. So one can find a tasty sounding main dish and have excellent suggestions for other dishes to compliment it.

Another plus – at least for the recipes we have tried – is that the recipes are complete. I have heard of some cookbooks that have missing directions or ingredients to successfully complete a dish. While this might be taken as a challenge for serious chefs, the rest of us don’t expect to be tested in such a way.

We’ve tried three recipes from the book as of this writing and I must say, all three were quite great. The first one we tried was Herb-Roasted Chicken and Potatoes (p. 103) and I thought it was pretty good. The one problem I had with it was that it was a bit too lemony. This wasn’t necessarily the recipe’s fault–my wife decided to bake the chicken in the marinade instead of reserving the marinade until after the chicken was baked as instructed in the recipe.

The next one we tried was the Crisp Parmesan Chicken (p. 106). This one turned out very well and tasty. The only complaint I had was that I ate too much!

The last one was Anne Lindsay’s Easy Creamy Chicken Fettuccine (p. 145). I thought it sounded like a great meal but my wife was a little sceptical since she didn’t like some of the ingredients. However, she went along with it and after we got it all prepared, (it smelled so good cooking!) we cleaned it right up. We were both very impressed and this was by far my favorite recipe. I foresee having it again and again! We will likely be looking at more of these cookbooks in the future!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Robert Rose. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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