Sunday, August 24, 2014

Two Short Stories by Aubrey Wynne

4.5 Stars for Pete’s Mighty Purty Privies
Short Story-Humor/Historical
Reviewed by: Nancy Pennick


Pete McNutt, a privy salesman, needs customers for his new business. Spring has arrived and it’s prime time Privy Season. After much consideration he refines his sales pitch, takes courage in hand, and heads to the monthly meeting of the Women’s Library Association.


The ladies of Pottstown assembled in the library for their monthly library meeting. The talk quickly turned to privies instead of books. Pete waits nervously to be introduced on the sidelines. He gives himself a pep talk, knowing he has a good product. Because he’s such a good salesman he turns a simple sales pitch into an interesting tale of bathroom history.
Ms. Wynne has taken historical facts and turned them into a humorous short story. She’s done her research and everything you’d want to know about outhouse construction is given in full detail. Through her main character, Pete McNutt, the reader learns the basics of 1890s bathroom etiquette. I guess you could say the author used old time bathroom humor to make a history lesson interesting. If you liked to know more, join the women of Pottstown, Michigan to hear Pete’s presentation.


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5 Stars for To Cast a Cliché


Short Story-Fairytale

     Reviewed by: Nancy Pennick


The evil Queen Lucinda exacts revenge on a royal poet by casting a spell of never-ending clichés upon the kingdom. Will the clever King Richard thwart his stepmother’s magic and save the good people of Maxim? Test your literary knowledge and enjoy an entertaining spoof on fairytales.

Queen Lucinda has just lost her husband and the royal poet writes of their reign. She’s not too happy with what he has to say about her and throws him in the dungeon. To exact revenge, without breaking a promise to her late husband to shed no blood, she schemes of a way to literally cast clichés among the kingdom.

Ms. Wynne has cleverly used clichés to write her short story. She writes a fractured fairy tale with humor and tongue in cheek…to use a cliché. The reader will have to figure out a few idioms on their own. She doesn’t give the answers to all of the actions in the story. I feel this story could be read by an adult or a fun read to a small child. What a great introduction to figures of speech or clichés! Queen Lucinda is one of those queens you love to hate. She’s a sorceress with powers, but like in all good fairytales, someone was there to stop her. Find out her fate in this humorous look at fairy tales.


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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

4.5 Stars for Wake for Me

Author: Isobel Irons
Rated 4.5 stars
Women’s fiction: Romance
Reviewed by: Nancy Pennick

Summary:

If you woke up and met the man of your dreams, would you believe he was real?

When winery heiress Viola Bellerose has a fight with her “up and coming” Irish rock star boyfriend, she blows off steam in true diva fashion—by making out with a hot stranger in a bar and promptly crashing her Mercedes into the East River. Whoops.

Now Viola spends her days trapped inside the prison of her own body. When she isn’t eavesdropping on the private conversations of her hospital caretakers, Viola is lost in a world of vivid and terrifying dreams, in which a tall and brooding doctor appears in a sizzling romantic role.

First year intern Sam Philips is barely surviving his complicated life, juggling family drama, the pressure of looming exams, and competition with his fellow interns. His daily solace is the time he spends with his favorite patient, the young girl he’s nicknamed Sleeping Beauty. Convinced that Viola will eventually pull through and wake up, Sam spends hours at her bedside, telling her everything from the minute details of his day to some of his deepest secrets.

But what Sam doesn’t know is that his Sleeping Beauty is aware. That he’s the only thing still tethering Viola to reality. That she’s falling for him.

And what Viola can’t tell Sam, is that someone is trying to make sure she never wakes up.


Review

Viola's in a coma. Sam's an intern at the hospital. Hours before Sam had met Viola at a club. They had a strange interlude, ending with a kiss. He can't get her out of his mind. She can't stop dreaming of him. Viola has many strange dreams while she's in her coma, all clues of what happened to her. When she wakes, she's disoriented as any patient would be. One thing she is sure of...Sam. She feels safe around him and is not quite sure why. He tries to remain distant as her doctor, but finds that's hard to do. It's spoiled rich girl meets dedicated doctor, and there's heat between them. But there's more to the story than that, Viola realizes she can trust no one, maybe not even Sam. Was her car accident really an accident? Or something more?

Wake for Me is told from the two main characters' perspective. That can be confusing in some books, but not in this one. The reader views the story from each character's side. Sometimes you want to scream at Sam to stop being so straight-laced and see what's right in front of him. You cheer for Viola as she figures out what happened to her instead of giving in. She is feisty and refuses to back down. This is one little rich girl a reader will like.

I was a little confused at the beginning while reading the coma scenes. I know Viola was hearing the nurses' voices and the TV. Some of that was mixed into her visions. Brady, Sam's best friend and also a doctor, got on my nerves by the end of the book. I only saw a one dimensional character that only cared about making jokes and finding one night stands. He had an opportunity at the end of the novel to make amends, but his personality stayed the same.

Overall, I found Wake for Me suspenseful and a good romance. Such a great mix! It kept the reader guessing and trying to figure out what happened to Viola right along with her.



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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

3 Stars for The Bones of Others (A Skye Cree Novel Book 1) a Paranormal Thriller by Vickie McKeehan


Summary

Some monsters live in your head. Not this one.

Brutalized as a young girl by a vile sexual predator, Skye Cree is a survivor. Guided by the visions of her mystical spirit guide to the whereabouts of abducted girls, she uses her unique abilities to turn her horrifying past into a positive force for justice. Fighting the demons that have haunted her for years, she trusts only in herself—until she falls hard for a man for the first time in her life. Now, discovering her abductor is back with a vengeance, she becomes locked in a deadly race against time to stop the horrors of an evil human-trafficking ring that threatens to tear her world—and her newfound love apart.

Review

The Bones of Others takes a look at a different kind of bad guy. Rather than going after demons, vampires, or werewolves, Skye Cree, the heroine of the story attacks human trafficking. It’s an intriguing approach and one that immediately had me rooting for Skye and her cause, especially since Skye was a victim with a powerful back story.

This story started out with an edge, introducing Skye as mysterious, slowly unraveling her past through a potential love interest named Josh Ander. Josh helps her search for her the person who brutalized her years before, becoming much more way too fast. For someone with a sexually tormented past like Skye’s, I would have liked to see romance move slower. It would seem more realistic.

Skye’s spirit guide gave the story an interesting supernatural element that worked plausibly throughout the story, but at times seemed too convenient. The scene I’m thinking of is when Skye and Josh set out alone after the person who tortured Skye years earlier. I would have liked to see a number of things happen in that scene that did not. For example, I would have liked to see Skye fight this man she’d come to hate for the past thirteen years. The book built a mountain of potential for that scene and when it didn’t meet my expectations; I was let down. The rest of the story followed sure predictable outcomes where the bad guys got their deserving desert of justice without much of a fight.

The Bones of Others is a heroic one addressing the topic of human trafficking and the pedophilias behind it walking less obvious professions in life including that of a cop, a guy meant to protect and serve. This story is set in Seattle, Washington, a place where human trafficking has become problematic enough to warrant an organization to fight the issue called the SAS, Seattle Against Slavery.

Vickie Mckeehan, is brave in tackling this saddening issue and The Bones of Others is certainly worth reading. It has a kick butt protagonist to root for, and some dangerously hot love scenes for those who like romance.

The Bones of Others can be found at Amazon.com

Saturday, July 19, 2014

4 Stars for Ghost Road Blues by Jonathan Maberry


Summary:

Winner of the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel

From a new master of horror comes an apocalyptic showdown between the residents of a secluded, rural town and the deadly evil that confronts them wherever they turn . . .

Evil Doesn't Die
The cozy little town of Pine Deep buried the horrors of its past a long time ago. Thirty years have gone by since the darkness descended and the Black Harvest began, a time when a serial killer sheared a bloody swath through the quiet Pennsylvania village. The evil that once coursed through Pine Deep has been replaced by cheerful tourists getting ready to enjoy the country's largest Halloween celebration in what is now called "The Spookiest Town in America."

It Just Grows Stronger
But then--a month before Halloween--it begins. Unspeakably desecrated bodies. Inexplicable insanity. And an ancient evil walking the streets, drawing in those who would fall to their own demons and seeking to shred the very soul of this rapidly fracturing community. Yes, the residents of Pine Deep have drawn together and faced a killer before. But this time, evil has many faces--and the lust and will to rule the earth. This struggle will be epic.

Review

Evil doesn’t die. It just grows stronger. These are the kinds of lines that make great horror books and a gal like me read more. I’m a huge fan of guys like Joe Hill and Stephen King. They write books that dig deep to define evil. Ghost Road Blues started digging right away.

The first one-hundred pages of hooked me like a fresh piece of sashimi melting high flavor into my taste buds bringing back the old delightfully wicked memories of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot – Memories  that still keep me up at night after many a year ago. Ghost Road Blues starts wicked strong; unfortunately, it doesn’t keep this dynamic pacing.

Maberry’s ideas on pacing a book seemed just the opposite of King’s. King always starts slow, and many times I’ve considered giving up on his books, but I know the end will be a tremendous payoff, plus even where pacing is slow in King’s books I often follow his ranting philosophy in a world where evil is much stronger than good. Mayberry’s back story about a bone man and a devil had the kind of substance that King’s books have, but this great back story didn’t get its full use in Ghost Road Blues, not in the way I imagined.

For one, I imagined The Bone Man to do something other than play the blues. For two, I would have liked to see The Bone Man and the main character; Crow share more of a back story. I really liked both characters and the idea of having them team up seemed more than likely. Last, I would have liked to have an ending that was as strong as the middle where Karl Ruger (evil) vs. Crow (good) got to fighting. That fight ended around the first one-hundred pages, and that’s where I lost my interest. Pacing slowed almost to a complete stop.

The book began to focus on a few other evil characters motivated by the greater evil The Bone Man faced in the past. To me these characters were not as interesting as Ruger, who had his own mysterious back story. I didn’t like Tow-Truck Eddie. He didn’t really have a voice and every time I tried to picture him in my head he visualized as a grey shadow.

Mike Sweeney’s step-dad, Vic, basically came across as a fist throwing Natzi. He wasn’t that interesting, and one figures sooner or later, he’d get what’s coming to him. The teenage boy, Mike, however won my heart and may have been the best character in the book. This was a kid that deserved to defeat evil simply because he’d had so much thrown at him, and I loved the parallel between him and Crow who’d had a lot thrown at him as a young boy.

In the end, I think this book is loaded with the potential of a great story. It started like Joe Hill’s Heart Shaped Box, but ended like a Stephen King beginning. It’s worth the read just to get to know some of the great characters, but if you want a fast past ending before the last twenty pages – don’t. On the flip side, for a first novel, Maberry did a fantastic job. You can find Ghost Road Blues at Amazon.com.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

5 Stars for Happily Never After

By Missy Fleming
Young Adult Novel
Reviewed By: Nancy Pennick
5 stars


Summary:

There's no such thing as happy endings.

Savannah, Georgia is rumored to be the most haunted place in America. Quinn Roberts knows it is. She's felt the presence of spirits her entire life, investigating and photographing them with her best friend. Only none of those encounters ever turned violent, until now. The menacing darkness feeding off her stepmother has promised she won't live to see her eighteenth birthday.

After a chance meeting Quinn reluctantly allows actor Jason Preston into her life, which has complications of its own. She's not used to letting people get close. Falling for him while fighting for her life, and her family's legacy, only complicates things more. Jason shows her exactly what she stands to lose, especially when she's being attacked by the mysterious entity. Each attack is more violent and terrifying than the last.

With Jason's help, she dives into the Roberts' family history, searching for a link between a woman who went missing a hundred and fifty years ago and what's happening now. What they find is a brutal murder and that the ghost doesn't just want to hurt Quinn, it wants revenge.


Review:

Quinn and her only friend are outcasts in high school. Her evil twin sisters are popular Southern belles. They love to be in pageants and Quinn is stuck helping make their ball gowns and cleaning up her stepmother’s beauty salon. Once she graduates she thinks things will be better. Instead they remain the same. Sounds like Cinderella? The similarities are there, even Quinn is aware. She never saw actor Jason Preston as her Prince Charming, but when he comes to town to shoot a vampire movie, he fits the bill.

Missy Fleming has woven a paranormal tale in the city of Savannah, Georgia that will keep you guessing till the end. Quinn lives with her stepmother and stepsisters in her family home. It’s haunted by ghosts, ones that only Quinn can see. She’s not afraid, having grown up with them and inspired by her mother to embrace her gift. After meeting Jason, she starts to believe she could have a happy life until an evil entity comes into her life.

I loved the descriptions of Savannah, GA in the book. The author did a great job of giving the reader a feel for the historic city. It was the perfect setting, a place where you can picture ghosts walking among the living. I am not a fan of scary books or ones that make you stay awake at night. This book was a perfect blend of not so scary but enough to make you shiver.

Quinn is a tough but lovable main character. You want to see her win. The stepmother’s role is very interesting and I’d like to see how she changes in future books. The stepsisters are the typical, self-absorbed teens until one of them softens toward Quinn. Her motives are in question and it’s hard to believe if she’s being real or not. Jason is believable as the love interest and prince figure, even though he’s a rising young star. He appears grounded and doesn’t let fame go to his head.

As I read this book, one of the story lines seemed oddly familiar. The Catherine in this book was much like the Katherine of the Vampire Diaries (the book, not the TV series). Katherine was a powerful presence stalking Elena. She wanted revenge on Elena for stealing the brothers’ love. There are similarities but this doesn’t take away from the story. If you enjoyed the Katherine story of the Vampire Diaries, you’ll like this.

The end of the book finishes with a cliff-hanger and I will surely have to read book two to find out what happens with Quinn and her band of friends.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

5 Stars for Where You Belong

By: Patrick Dilloway
Genre: Literary/Mainstream
Reviewed by: Cindy Borgne

Summary:


Frost Devereaux's odyssey of self-discovery spans three decades and takes him to every corner of America. Guiding him along his journey are the twin loves of his life: Frankie & Frank Maguire. Through his tempestuous relationships with them, he learns who he is and where he belongs.

Review:

I liked the main character Frost early in the story. Frost starts out in life with some problems. His mother dies in an accident which also leaves him scarred at an early age. His deadbeat father leaves and for a lot of the story Frost just goes about not really having a place in life, so he goes along with some friends that are rich and pretty much take him in. I liked him early in the story considering his background. He also pines for the almost crazy woman Frankie who is completely bad for him, but this is realistic because people often pine for someone they can't have or even shouldn't have. One of the themes in this book is basically about the struggles of people who have trouble fitting into society. This is also a character story where you read about several people with unusual things about them, but on the other had they are very realistic. Some of the characters are gay and gay issues are confronted in the book. Overall an interesting read that I highly recommend.


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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

4 Stars for Seasons of Love and War

Author: Brenda Ashworth Barry
Women’s Fiction
Reviewed by: Nancy Pennick

Summary:


While the Vietnam War rages and the rest of the world experiences seismic socio-polictical and cultural shifts, childhood sweethearts Beth Ann Rose and Kaylob Shawn O’Brien are sheltered, naïve and innocent in the northern California town of Novato. Beth Ann, a spirited redhead, has big to work her way to Broadway, and Kaylob, a creative, warm, easygoing self-starter, dreams of and opening a restaurant. Whatever life brings them, one thing is crystal clear — they will be facing it together. They are in love, full of hope and joie de vivre.

Eager to launch their new life, they move south to Riverside, California, as soon as Beth Ann turns eighteen. Then, with no warning, the unthinkable happens. Kaylob is drafted into the U.S. Army. They are devastated. This shakes the foundation of their dreams, but with no other choice but to serve his country, Kaylob goes to war and leaves behind his girl along with their aspirations.

Come take this journey in book one of a four part Saga through love and war where these two young kids struggle to stay strong and hold on to hope.

Review:

Beth Ann and Kaylob are young and in love. What can come between them? The Vietnam War. The story is set in a time of change and upheaval in the U.S. Kaylob has been to war and volunteers to return. He has unfinished business. Beth Ann isn’t too pleased but finally sees why Kaylob must go back. The lovers are torn apart and Beth Ann struggles to go on with her life. Although good things happen for her, Kaylob is always in the back of her mind. He is her one true love.

If you love a good romance story, Seasons of Love and War, is for you. The strength of Beth Ann and Kaylob’s love is apparent throughout the book. Beth Ann has to continue her life without him and Blake is more than willing to take his place. Blake is rich and handsome, someone who’s loved her since high school. Beth Ann struggles with leaving Kaylob in the past and moving on. She sometimes has visions that he is alive, calling out to her, and tries to make sense of the meaning. The book almost becomes a fantasy at this point because of this strong bond and connection. Her dreams and visions are real.

The author uses slang of the late sixties to set the tone of the book. I got a feel for that time period through her descriptions of clothing and settings.

The one criticism I have is the overuse of the word “baby” and “darlin’” in the story. It was said one too many times. Also, Beth Ann’s wonderful Broadway career came to an abrupt end and was never mentioned again. It would’ve been interesting to see how that side of her life evolved. Every man seemed to fall in love with Beth Ann and things came easy to her. I would have liked for her to become a more independent woman in correlation with those times.

Seasons of Love and War is a historical romance set in a turbulent time of U.S. history. It’s an easy read. I understand this is a saga and there’s more to come. The love triangle of Beth Ann, Kaylob and Blake is hopefully not over yet.


Purchase Links

Melange Books
Amazon Kindle

Amazon Paperback
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