Saturday, March 25, 2017

*Review* Awakening by D.M. Earl


Genre: Romance
Published: January 26, 2017
Pages: 258

Synopsis

I’m safe. 

And so is my family. All because of the sacrifice Stone made to save us. I don’t know what has happened to Stone or Walker, but I believe in my heart that Stone will do everything he can to make sure Walker never comes near us again. I know he’s out there, and I cannot allow myself to think otherwise. He will come back to me, to us.

So until that happens, and knowing that, I need to work to make my family and myself whole again. Life can bring unexpected joys and sorrows, and it’s up to me to begin the healing process for us all. I need to be strong, and that’s what I plan to do. 
I'm no longer a victim because Stone showed me that I was so much more.Life is worth living. 

My name is Quinn, and as I awaken from my dark past, and violent present, I will start to truly live. The future has never been so bright.

Review

I was hired to proofread this book. The only aspects of the story that I influenced were the spelling and grammar. If you feel that my connection to the book makes my review untrustworthy, so be it, but this is my honest review. 

This is the third and final book in The Journals Trilogy and it was definitely a satisfying conclusion to Quinn's story. Loose ends were snipped off and things seem to finally be at a point where things will settle down for Quinn and what's left of her family in the end. I strongly recommend that you read this series in order (if you don't you will very likely regret it and feel quite lost at times.) 

Awakening was so so full of action that it seems Quinn and Stone just can't seem to catch a break at all for most of the story, which made it a bit hard to swallow at times. I realize that action keeps a story moving, but I would have really liked to have a bit more down time between crises to regroup. 

I'm also not sure exactly how I feel about the way Quinn and Stone's relationship seemed to run so hot but then cold and back to hot again throughout the story. I was not prepared for that rollercoaster ride, and at times the twists and turns just left me reeling and baffled. Again, a lull in the action would have been appreciated. 

My other issue with the book is more personal. I'm not really a big fan of MC romances, and while this isn't technically an MC romance, it has very much the same feel as one, so that detracted from my enjoyment of the story a bit.

Overall I give Awakening 3.5 out of 5 stars because it was a decent book, but I failed to connect with it on a personal level. - Katie 

Buy the Book


About the Author

D. M. Earl lives in Northwest Indiana. She is an avid reader and will devour a book usually in a day. She reads anything from romance, contemporary, erotica and dark reads. Loves to rider her Harley next to her hubby. Also D.M. likes being outdoors either working in her veggie or flower gardens or just hanging with her 9 four legged fur "kids."

Please visit her: 
Author Facebook Page
https://www.facebook.com/pages/DM-Earl/685360821541217?fref=photo 
Twitter 
https://twitter.com/dmearl
Email 
dmearl14@gmail.com

Enjoy this Ride we call Life!!
SaveSave

Friday, March 24, 2017

*Stacking the Shelves* 25 March 2017


(Titles link to Amazon via Amazon Affiliate links)

Stacking The Shelves is a feature/weekly meme created by Tynga’s Reviews in which you share the books you are adding to your shelves, both physical and virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical stores or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Now, I already have a monthly post I do featuring the books I get in the mail (and it's a lot because I have a serious Goodreads First Reads giveaway addiction), and I'm going to try to start posting my monthly Read-A-Thon posts again too (even if none of the Platypires will be joining me), which will cover the books I receive through Netgalley. But I also go to my thrift store at least once a week, and often leave with a bag full of books. It's such a common occurrence that I'm known as The Book Lady to the frequent volunteers (and I suspect that they've started scheduling their $1 bag of books sales for Thursdays simply because that is the day I usually visit.) So my Stacking the Shelves posts are going to focus on my thrift store hauls, because this is my blog and I do what I want. 

On that note, here are the books I picked up this week.

The Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes - Like I've said in the past, this is an author that I know at least one of my friends likes, so I buy all her books when I see them...This one is apparently the 5th in a series. Hopefully they can be read as standalones. 
What If? by Randall Munroe - This is a book about scientific answers to absurd hypothetical questions, which sounds kind of amazing if you ask me. 
The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd - Even though I've never read anything by Sue Monk Kidd, I've been meaning to for years, so I buy all of her books when I see them. I also have a feeling that this particular book may come in handy for a future #BeatTheBacklist Instagram challenge. 
Because I'm Worth It by Cecily von Ziegesar - This is the 4th book in the Gossip Girl series, and I enjoyed the show so I'm interested in reading the books to see if they're similar. 
All I Want is Everything by Cecily von Ziegesar - This is book 3 in the Gossip Girl series, which means that I actually have the first four books of the series! That almost never happens in my thrift shopping when I find the books at drastically different times (I've had the first book for over a year.) 
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo - You're probably all familiar with what this book is about. I'm not particularly optimistic about seeing results from putting it to use myself, but I need to try something because I'm a bit of a pack-rat and I need more room in my house for books.
Settle For More by Megyn Kelly - Ever since Kelly got the boot from Fox News, I've been interested in reading this book (almost makes me wonder if that was just a promotional trick to try to lure in liberals). I wasn't particularly interested in her making money off my purchase however (but I refuse to resort to book piracy.) When I saw a copy at my thrift store, I snapped it up right quick. 
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides - This book is by a Pulitzer Prize winning author, and the literary snob in me likes to read those, just to say I have. (I got home and discovered I already owned a copy of this book. So what do you think, should I give this copy away on the blog or just return it to my thrift store?)
The Rose Labyrinth by Titania Hardie - So this book came with excerpted pages separately to help you try to unravel the mystery before the main character does...I mean, I may be missing some pages because I bought it used, but that sold me on buying it. 
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole - This book is a Pulitzer Prize winner, and as I mentioned before, the literary snob in me is drawn to those sorts of things. 

So that's all the books I picked up at the thrift store this week. I really can't decide which one I'm most interested to read because there are several that have me really intrigued. It was kind of a grand slam week at the thrift store for good books. And all this cost me just $3.75. 

Which of these books sounds most interesting to you (it might help me decide what to read first)? - Katie 

Should Giveaways Go Away?

It's Friday, so you know what that means! That's right. I've got my soapbox out and I'm ready to rant. (I was totally going to do this yesterday, but then I fell asleep at a normal time for a human being.) For those of you that are new, this is an IABB confession. It was submitted anonymously and neither IABB nor the graphics artist that created the image are responsible for the content. They merely provide the platform for publication. 


For once, I'm not going to be ranting about the attitude of the confessor (I know, I'm surprised too.) I have, however, spent most of the day trying to wrap my mind around the reaction of the giveaway winner. And I'm still largely baffled by it. So I just want to take a little bit to talk about why I find it so strange. 

First of all, I don't see how swag can ever be outdated. Unless the books are no longer in publication, the swag is still relevant in my opinion. Granted, swag that features part of a series that has since been completed is clearly a little older, but again, if the books are still available for purchase, it's not really outdated. And if they are books that the winner had never heard of before, then the swag was still doing it's job of bringing attention to them.

Secondly, do you know how bloggers typically get swag? They either get it by going to book signings or authors send it to us to give away. I've seen several authors offer to send out envelopes of swag to bloggers to include in giveaways in the past, and probably received some offers for swag ages ago when I still allowed people to send messages to my Facebook page, but I don't remember now. But while it would be beneficial to authors to send swag for their newest release to bloggers, financially it probably actually makes more sense for them to send older stuff that's otherwise sitting around their office collecting dust. Because honestly, how much attention are people likely to pay to this random swag? (I can honestly tell you that when I won swag in giveaways forever ago, I did not pay all that much attention to what was on it, although it's still possible that I'll grab a random bookmark and decide the book on it looks interesting at some point in the future and go buy it.) But bloggers cannot be expected to have all the newest swag, because oftentimes we're getting the cast-offs to begin with (which is fine, because authors spend quite a bit of money getting their swag made. They should absolutely be the ones benefiting most directly from the newest stuff.) But like I said before, swag can't really be outdated if the books referenced are still available for purchase.

What really gets me about the actions of the giveaway winner, though, is that they messaged the page to complain that the swag was less than new. And no, saying that you're not complaining is not the same thing as actually not complaining. The fact that they felt the need to send a message about it in the first place, is by it's very nature complaining. Like, dude, you got some free shit, you didn't pay jack squat for it, and the fact that it took you about a week to determine that the books and series featured on the swag were released a few years ago, means that those books weren't already on your radar. So what if they're older. Five bucks says that several of them are probably cheaper now than they were when they were brand new, so if they look interesting, you're going to spend less money to buy them than you would have before. How is that a bad thing?

But you know what, readers (and I realize most readers do not act this way), if you want to be this ungrateful for the free shit that authors and bloggers are giving away, we can just stop giving stuff away completely. I pretty much stopped doing giveaways entirely about two years ago because the brief interaction from y'all to enter a giveaway just wasn't doing much to help boost my reach on other posts, and that is the reason authors and bloggers do giveaways in the first place. But when y'all only want to interact on the giveaway posts and nothing else, it's just not worth it to keep spending the money for the giveaways. As a blogger, I can't even hope to sell a few extra copies of my new release because of the extra reach of the giveaway post.

And maybe that really is the answer here. It's certainly been suggested by others in the past (ungrateful giveaway winners is a somewhat common theme on Confessions.) Authors and bloggers should just stop doing giveaways on Facebook altogether. It was a strategy that used to work to build a fan base and boost interaction and post reach, but with Facebook's constantly changing algorithms, giveaways no longer have the same effect they used to. Add in to that readers that are only looking for free stuff and sometimes aren't even thankful for it, and what's the point? It really may be time to just cut our losses.

What do you think? - Katie

Oh, and before I go, I do have to commend the giveaway winner for sending the original message thanking the blogger for the goodies. Just in case you thought I missed that part of the confession. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

*Review* The Waiting Room by Leah Kaminsky


Genre: Literary Fiction
Published: November 15, 2016
Pages: 320

Synopsis

Leah Kaminsky’s powerful fiction debut—a multi-generational novel perfect for fans of The Tiger’s Wife and A Constellation of Vital Phenomena—unfolds over a day in the life of a young physician in contemporary Israel, who must cope with modern threats in the shadow of her parents’ horrific wartime pasts.

A young doctor in Haifa, Israel, must come to terms with her family’s painful past—and its lingering aftermath—as the conflict between Palestine and Israel reaches its height and the threat of a terrorist attack looms over the city....

Born to two survivors in the smoky after-haze of WWII, Dina has never been able to escape her parents’ history. Tortured by memories of Bergen-Belsen, her mother leaves Dina to inherit her decades of trauma. 

Dina desperately anchors herself in family—a cherished young son, a world-weary husband, and a daughter on the way—and her work as a doctor, but she is struggling to cope, burdened by both the very real anxieties of her daily life and also the shadows of her parents’ ghosts, who follow her wherever she goes. A witty, sensitive narrator, she fights to stay grounded in the here-and-now, even as the challenges of motherhood and medicine threaten to overwhelm her. 

In taut, compelling prose, The Waiting Room weaves between Dina’s exterior and interior lives, straddling the present and the past—and building towards a profoundly dramatic climax that will remind readers of the fragility of human life even as it reassures them of the inescapable power of love and family.

Review


I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway program in the hopes that I would leave an honest review. 

This book transported me to a place I didn't expect to go; namely a war zone. I'm not sure why I didn't expect that. I read the blurb, and on a basic level understood what the words meant, but somehow that didn't translate into my idea of where I would be going with this story. That is purely my own fault, but it threw me for an immediate loop that I needed to recover from before I could really settle in with Dina. 

Then once I did feel a bit settled in, I was still left reeling. For one thing, Dina is a doctor (I think, like a general practitioner) who is seems to spend the entire day out of her office or avoiding seeing patients to the best of her ability. And I certainly don't begrudge her time to run some errands and catch a breath between patients, but this seemed a bit extreme. However, maybe that's normal in Israel for the type of clinic where she works. But it seemed very weird to me. 

Dina also seemed to be teetering on the brink of insanity for most of the story. She talks to the ghost of her mother who will apparently not leave her alone, and the ghost encourages some rather strange behavior. Now of course the ghost is really probably just like her natural instincts, and using the idea of her mother may just be a way for Dina to cope and work through issues (I have conversations with imaginary people sometimes too). It just seems a bit more extreme in Dina. 

Overall I give The Waiting Room 4 out of 5 stars because it did engage me and get me thinking, and it pulled me into a world different from my own where I was ultimately able to take up residence for a few hours. 

Buy the Book


About the Author

Leah Kaminsky, a physician and award-winning writer, is Poetry & Fiction Editor at the Medical Journal of Australia. Her debut novel, The Waiting Room is published by Vintage (2015) and will be released by Harper Perennial US in 2016. We’re all Going to Die is forthcoming with Harper Collins in June 2016. She conceived and edited Writer MD, a collection of prominent physician-writers, which starred on Booklist (Knopf US 2012). She is co-author of Cracking the Code, with the Damiani family (Vintage 2015). She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. (www.leahkaminsky.com)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

*Review* #BeatTheBacklist - Messenger by Lois Lowry


Genre: YA Dystopian
Published: April 26, 2004
Pages: 169

Synopsis

Messenger is the masterful third novel in the Giver Quartet, which began with the dystopian bestseller The Giver, now a major motion picture.
 
Matty has lived in Village and flourished under the guidance of Seer, a blind man known for his special sight. Village once welcomed newcomers, but something sinister has seeped into Village and the people have voted to close it to outsiders. Matty has been invaluable as a messenger. Now he must risk everything to make one last journey through the treacherous forest with his only weapon, a power he unexpectedly discovers within himself.

Review


This is the third book in The Giver Quartet, and it starts to bring together the storylines from the first two books. See, Matty was a major secondary character in Gathering Blue, although he was just Mat then, because he was not old enough to have obtained his second syllable. And it didn't take long for it to become apparent that Matty and Mat were the same person. But beyond that, it didn't take long for it to become apparent that Jonas from The Giver was an important member of Village too (which throws my belief that he died at the end of The Giver right out the window. I'm okay with that though.) 

The community in Village seems a bit more "normal" than the communities in both The Giver and Gathering Blue, although it's still a bit primitive by today's standards. The feel I got for it was similar to the feel I got for towns described in books like Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie series. A strong sense of community with a few amenities, but no major technological advancements. 

I really enjoyed seeing the sort of grown up, less wild Matty who so desperately wanted his true name to be Messenger. Village really helped him to become a responsible young man, and he made me think of my own Matty (not just because they share a name either.) I have no problem picturing my Matty being just as responsible as the Matty of the book is, which made some of the events in the book particularly painful for me (because no mother ever wants to see her son hurt, and it really did feel personal.) 

Another aspect of this story that saddened me was the changing behavior of the villagers. This village had seemed pretty darn fantastic with everyone helping each other out and just treating each other kindly in general, but that started to change. And it seems like the villagers were trading away things that they really should have been allowed to give at times when the Trade Mart is open. This is just a personal theory, but it makes sense in terms of the story. And it's absolutely disgusting. 

Overall I give Messenger 4.5 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

Buy the Book


About the Author

Lois Lowry is known for her versatility and invention as a writer. She was born in Hawaii and grew up in New York, Pennsylvania, and Japan. After several years at Brown University, she turned to her family and to writing. She is the author of more than thirty books for young adults, including the popular Anastasia Krupnik series. She has received countless honors, among them the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award, the California Young Reader.s Medal, and the Mark Twain Award. She received Newbery Medals for two of her novels, NUMBER THE STARS and THE GIVER. Her first novel, A SUMMER TO DIE, was awarded the International Reading Association.s Children.s Book Award. Ms. Lowry now divides her time between Cambridge and an 1840s farmhouse in Maine. To learn more about Lois Lowry, see her website at www.loislowry.com
SaveSaveSaveSave

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

*Review* #BeatTheBacklist - Down the Rabbit Hole by Holly Madison


Genre: Memoir
Published: June 23, 2015
Pages: 352

Synopsis

The shocking, never-before-told story of the bizarre world inside the legendary Playboy Mansion—and, finally, the secret truth about the man who holds the key—from one of the few people who truly knows: Hef’s former #1 girlfriend and star of The Girls Next Door
A spontaneous decision at age twenty-one transformed small-town Oregon girl Holly Sue Cullen into Holly Madison, Hugh Hefner’s #1 girlfriend. But like Alice’s journey into Wonderland, after Holly plunged down the rabbit hole, what seemed like a fairytale life inside the Playboy Mansion—including A-list celebrity parties and her own #1-rated television show for four years—quickly devolved into an oppressive routine of strict rules, manipulation, and battles with ambitious, backstabbing bunnies. Life inside the notorious Mansion wasn’t a dream at all—and quickly became her nightmare. After losing her identity, her sense of self-worth, and her hope for the future, Holly found herself sitting alone in a bathtub contemplating suicide.
But instead of ending her life, Holly chose to take charge of it.
In this shockingly candid and surprisingly moving memoir, this thoughtful and introspective woman opens up about life inside the Mansion, the drugs, the sex, the abuse, the infamous parties, and her real behind-the-scenes life with Bridget, Kendra, and, of course, Mr. Playboy himself.
With great courage, Holly shares the details of her subsequent troubled relationship, landing her own successful television series, and the hard work of healing, including her turn on Dancing with the Stars. A cautionary tale and a celebration of personal empowerment, Down the Rabbit Hole reminds us of the importance of fighting for our dreams—and finding the life we deserve.

Review

I listened to the audiobook version of this book, because as I've mentioned before, if I'm going to read a book about a celebrity, I might as well have them read it to me. It makes me feel important. Fun fact, you can likely listen to this book at 1.5 speed with no problems whatsoever. 

I was a fan of The Girls Next Door when it aired on E! (I started watching when my son was an infant and I needed mindless entertainment that I didn't feel invested in because I was not getting much sleep at the time and could not mentally handle that kind of mental commitment. And The Girls Next Door fit the bill quite well.) Now, because of that, I had some rather deeply ingrained notions about what type of person Holly was, and it seems that most of those notions were dead wrong. I should have known better, but like many of the viewers, I got sucked up into the fantasy that was portrayed on television. I was probably most interested in reading this book, however, because of the way Kendra Wilkinson bashed it. If a woman who was clearly in Hef's good graces (she did get married at the mansion after all) was trying to discredit it, then it should at least be entertaining if nothing else. And it was entertaining. 

While I was listening to this book, I couldn't help but feel bad for Holly, and all the other girls that lived in the mansion as Hef's girlfriends. While I had been aware of the curfew and no boys rule, I didn't realize just how repressive mansion life was on a day to day basis for the girls. And I realize that the girls made the choice to be there on their own, but the way both Holly and Kendra tell it, at the time, they didn't feel like they had a lot of other choices. And I can certainly understand the appeal of having a guaranteed roof over your head and an allowance for clothes. I can't say that I would be willing to do what they did to get those things, but I can't say for sure that I wouldn't either. I do at least understand why they made the choices they did. And once they were in, I can understand how getting out may have seemed downright impossible for a while. But these are things that we never saw when the cameras were rolling. 

I think the part of this book that I really found the most entertaining was when she was talking about her life after Playboy though, probably because it didn't have as much gloominess looming over it from mansion life. Also, that's when the Twitter feud with Kendra took place, and I'm a sucker for drama like that. But mostly, she was clearly getting her life on track and taking charge of her own destiny, so that part of the story was much more uplifting. 

Overall I give Down the Rabbit Hole 5 out of 5 stars and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoyed watching The Girls Next Door. You just might learn a thing or two. - Katie 

Buy the Book


About the Author

Holly Madison spent five seasons on the #1 rated E! hit reality show The Girls Next Door as the main girlfriend of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. In 2009 she landed the leading role in Tony Award-winning director-choreographer Jerry Mitchell's Las Vegas burlesque act, Peepshow. During this time, Madison also starred in two seasons of E!'s series Holly's World, chronicling her new life in Sin City. Madison has made countless appearances on radio and television shows, magazines, and feature films such as Dancing with the Stars, CSI, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Entourage, General Hospital, Scary Movie 4, and The House Bunny. Madison divides her time between Las Vegas and Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.

*Review* Give Me Chaos by Jillian Ashe


Genre: Science Fiction
Published: March 16, 2017
Pages: 

Synopsis

The fifth book in the Wolfegang series follows Katerina back to the top secret military base, Enzo, where she is Lt. Donnelly’s prisoner. The lieutenant puts her through tests and experiments to find out what makes her so special, and why the genetic enhancements aren’t degrading her brain. He wants answers for his own cure. Katerina might not survive his search for answers until General Ryojin shows up and changes the game completely.

Review


I was hired to proofread this book. The only aspects of the story that I influenced were the spelling and grammar. If you feel that my connection to the book makes my review untrustworthy, so be it, but this is my honest review.

The last book in this series left me in a lot of suspense, anxious for the characters well-being. This book did not do much to alleviate my concerns. Sure, some of my fears were allayed, but I'm still fairly certain the characters are in dire peril. I'm pretty sure my heart rate was elevated the entire time I was reading this book.

In spite of my elevated heart rate, this book didn't seem to have that much action. It actually felt like it was mostly character building, which for this story makes perfect sense, even though this is the fifth book in the series, because Kat is basically being rebuilt. Don't get me wrong, there is still action, fighting is part of her training, but the action takes a backseat to Kat's personal development. The lack of action made this a bit of a slower read for me because I didn't feel quite as compelled to find out what happened next as I would have with more action. I did enjoy delving into Katerina's development though. It always gave me a slight thrill when she attained noticeable improvement with her skills or got one over on other soldiers.

There was a point in the story where I felt like Kat was being a bit overly emotional, her reactions just a little over the top, but that is likely because I'm a bit hard-hearted by nature where personal relationships are concerned, so I just couldn't really relate on a personal level.

Overall I give Give Me Chaos 4.5 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

Buy the Book


About the Author

My readers are what's important to me. Yes, I write for myself and the enjoyment of it, but I adore when a reader actually has a great time reading a story I slaved over. I don't write any particular genre, but I do stick to kick-ass female characters. I love writing about all types of differently strong women. My debut series is Young Adult Science Fiction. The first novella is free to see if you enjoy what I write.

I'm very involved with my fandoms, and love all things geeky and nerdy. I love connecting with my readers, so if you'd like to contact me just head over to my website :)

Jillian Ashe
jillianashe.com