Monday, April 30, 2012

The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain - Review

Cover Art for Novel The Mysterious Stranger by Mark TwainThe Mysterious Stranger
by Mark Twain
Genre: Classic

     Of course I'm not going to actually tell you WHO the mysterious stranger is. That would just ruin it and you wouldn't need to read it for yourself. Though I did spend most of the book wondering if he was who he claimed to be, or if he was actually his namesake.

     Mark Twain can be very hard to read, but this was not the case. Set in Austria around the times of witch burnings, this book sets itself apart from most of Twain's works. There is no phonetical dialogue that he oft uses, and I personally find very hard to read.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Invisible Man by H.G.Wells - Review

book cover art for The Invisible Man by H.G. WellsThe Invisible Man
by H.G. Wells
Genres: Classic, Science Fiction

     The wonderful thing about classics is that the characters are well known. However actually taking the time to read them helps unravel some misconceptions or assumptions made about the character.

     Not many plans are well thought out. While The Invisible Man had thought of many uses for invisibility while he toiled with his experiments, there were many arguments against invisibility that had not occured to him. One of which was excessively obvious when he found himself wandering around London invisible, but stark naked to escape detection, in the middle of January.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Ghosts of Varner Creek - Pick of the Month Book Review

book cover art for Ghosts of Varner Creek by Michael WeemsThe Ghosts of Varner Creek
by Michael Weems
Genre: Paranormal, Drama

     Such a sad tale of abuse. Solomon has a rare gift, he can see spirits. He spins a tale of his childhood, his mother beaten by his drunken father who had also abused Sol. Until one morning he wakes up and his mother and sister are gone.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Intimate Strangers by Laura Taylor - Pick of the Month Book Review

book cover art for Intimate Strangers by Laura TaylorIntimate Strangers
by Laura Taylor
Genres: Romance, Suspense,
   Romantic Suspense

     I hate to admit it, but I related more to the male character in this book. Hurt and betrayed one time too many to allow himself to trust, Nicholas was suspicious when Hannah wandered into his life.

     Did I mention that Nicholas had a dark past and built himself a fortress in the woods? Some might consider him paranoid, but he prefers to just consider himself cautious. Suddenly a stubborn, petite woman with a shapely hour glass figure arrives at his door and he finds himself aroused just looking at her.

     Hannah is fairly inexperienced with men and finds herself confronted by an adonis... tall, sculpted hard body, low deep voice that makes a girl weak at the knees, and exudes animal magnetism. Plus he's got the whole bad boy thing going on.

     It doesn't take long before they give in to the electrical charge that passes between them. The scenes depicting their carnal desires were more graphic than I am used to and I could probably have read this book in the dark, the words illuminated by the glow of the blush of my cheeks.

     I'm not a big fan of romance novels and am starting to wonder if I should stop reviewing them. I do it primarily because they are popular and many people do enjoy them and want to hear about them. But I really doubt that I do romance books much justice. The writing was good, with very few editing errors. The characters were believable and very likable. There was no guy gets girl, guy loses girl, girl hates guy because of a misunderstanding ... on and on, kind of plot.

     I guess I have just gotten too cynical in my old age to be much of a rommantic. Instead of finishing a book and envisioning the characters living happily ever after, I give them less than 12 months before her constant chattering, which he teases her about, will be driving him nuts. She will realize that she knows practically nothing about him. And the spark of chemistry that they had enjoyed at the beginning really is just lust after all.

     If you enjoy romances that border on erotica, you will probably really enjoy this book.

I give it 3 star review graphic 3 stars.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Frankenstein by Mary Shelly - Book Review

book cover art of Frankenstein by Mary ShelleyFrankenstein
by Mary Shelley
Genres: Classic, Thriller,
   Science Fiction

     Contrary to popular belief, Frankenstein was NOT a monster. The being that DR. Frankenstein created was never given a name. It can also be argued as to whether or not the being WAS a monster. Also contrary to popular belief Frankenstein is not a monster story. It is a story about prejudice and the emotions and behavior of mankind.

     During the times of the black plague, Dr. Frankenstein was surrounded by death. He discovered a way to create life, but it wasn't easy. He became obsessed with the idea, rarely stopping with his research and experiments to eat or sleep. He was so inamorate with the question of if he COULD create a living being that he didn't question if he SHOULD.

     Finally, after much work and hardship, Dr. Frankenstein prevailed and his creation became a living breathing being. The being was not pretty. Dr. Frankenstein was appalled with what he had created.  He was filled with remorse, regret, and fear. The doctor fled from his laboratory and the creature was gone when he returned.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus, A Review

book cover art of Harriet Beamer takes a Bus by Joyce MagninHarriet Beamer Takes the Bus
by Joyce Magnin
Genre: Fiction

     Life doesn’t end at a certain age, it is merely a new beginning. One just has to take a leap of faith sometimes and try something new.

This book was just released today. To read my full review, please visit A Goddess of Frugality.

I give it 4 star review graphic 4 stars!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Legion of Bats Book Tour - Book Review

book cover art for Legion of Bats by Shadow Stevens Legion of Bats
by Shadow Stevens
Genres: Paranormal, Fantasy

     Zoe has always felt like an outsider. Arrested after an arson that she couldn't have conceivably committed, she is taken to what looks to be a mental hospital and finds that nothing in life is as it appears to be.

     I was a little skeptical of this book, based on its title. I had assumed it would be yet another vampire story, but it has nothing to do with vampires or bats. This was an incredibly fun and enjoyable read. The characters are very personable, likable, and fairly well defined. There weren't a whole lot of plot twists or suspense, yet there was that urgency of wanting to know what is going to happen next.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - Book Review

book cover art of A Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
by Robert Louis Stevenson
Genres: Classics, Science Fiction,
   Historical Fiction

     I was surprised to find that this story was actually relayed mostly by Dr. Jekyll's friend Mr. Utterson through his personal supposition and conjecture. It is not until the very end of the book that the reader hears Dr. Jekyll's own account of what is happening.

     Everyone knows the basics of the story, but don't be too hasty to assume that all preconceptions of the story are true. There were still some surprises to the plot that I had been unaware of.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Fate's Design

Fate Series Book One

A summer vacation in Italy with her twin sister, Morgan, is just what Megan Romano needs. But instead of fun, wine, and relaxation, she finds unexpected romance. Alexandros DiPiero, a sexy and mysterious Italian businessman, falls for Megan the minute he lays eyes on her, but Megan knows it’s too good to be true.

Increasingly haunting dreams that warn of danger and destiny plague Megan’s every sleeping moment. As her nightmares become deadly and her love life heats up, Megan will come face to face with her worst fear.

Buy on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

This tour will run from April 23rd and through May 31

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens - Book Review

book cover art of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles DickensA Tale of Two Cities
by Charles Dickens
Genres: Classic, Historical Fiction

      I have been procrastinating on writing this review. This is one of my all time favorite stories, and I have been trying to define why. Certainly not because of the senseless violence depicted. It is doubtful that it is the historical era that draws me. But I do think perhaps that history does play a role.

      A Tale of Two Cities was the first classic that I had been introduced to. I remember my mother had bought me a boxed set of illustrated classics for children when I was just knee high to a grass hopper. Also included in the set, from what I can remember, was Great Expectations, War of the Worlds, and The Man in the Iron Mask. All of these books hold a special place in my heart, more from nostalgia of my childhood, now that I think of it, than the actual quality of the stories.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Monarch - Pick of the Month Book review

book cover art of Monarch by Michell Davidson ArgyleMonarch
by Michelle Davidson Argyle
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Romance

     I'm probably not going to be very unbiased with this review. How could I be when one of the main characters are L. Love, just like me? Although her first name was Lilian and not Laura, I still found it amusing. Yeah ok, it doesn't take much to amuse me.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ghosts of Rosewood Asylum - Pick of the Month Book Review

book cover art of Ghosts of Rosewood Asylum by Stephen Prosapio Ghosts of Rosewood Asylum
by Stephen Prosapio
Genres: Horror, Paranormal

     I don't read a whole lot of spooky stories any more. I still enjoy an occasional Stephen King book from time to time, but I've gotten jumpy in my old age and just don't have the nerves for it anymore. This could be because I usually read at night with just the one little lamp lit. I'm too cheap to turn on more than that so it is pretty dark while I'm reading. However, this book was GOOD.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Black Witch by Michael Rivers - Pick of the Month Book Review

book cover art of The Black Witch by Michael RiversThe Black Witch
by Michael Rivers
Genres: Horror, Thriller,

     The Black Witch is a ship with the history like no other. It bewitches those who come into contact with it to aspire to greed to possess it, or at the very least, long to sail her. Once aboard, and set to sail, it is a journey few will survive.

     The plot grabs your attention from the beginning full of intrigue, mystery, and suspense. The reader is bewitched just as successfully as the sailors and passengers as The Black Witch holds one in its charms on a quest to find where the journey will lead, and end.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Giveaway: Grace - an Eternal Beloved Novel by R. Rodriguez

Grace: An Eternal Beloved Novel
Book One in series
by R. Rodriguez

     The author does an excellent job of defining the characters and making them come alive. Love them or hate them, you have probably known someone like them in your life and can relate well to most of the characters. The storyline flows nicely as you follow Grace on her journey through life, her ups and downs, her naïveté and bad choices. There were a few times that I wanted to scream at Grace after some of her bad choices, but it takes a talented writer to get a reader that involved into their characters' lives.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Legion Of Bats

Description -In a world governed by fear and corruption, a baby was born and immediately targeted for death. Hidden away in the rural West Virginia town of Tanner, Zoe Masterson grows up feeling like an outsider—just a little different from everyone around her. As bad becomes worse, she is arrested for arson and taken to a mental hospital, where she discovers nothing is as it seems.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Relatively Close - Book Tour Review

book cover art of Relatively Close by Judy Serrano Relatively Close
Book Three in series
by Judy Serrano
Genre: Romance

     This third book in Judy Serrano's series picks up right where Brother Number Three left off, the Montiagos are recovering from the drama of the last cliff hanger, and Lilly's indecision as to which brother she loves. Lilly is abandoned by her husband for what she believes to be his true love ... his work. While Max is off on an undercover assignment Lilly turns to Hector, yet again. Max, Hector, Max, Hector, poor Diego isn't even in the running. Who would you choose?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Titanic - Pick of the Month Book Review

book cover art for Titanic - What Really Happened by Samuel WestTitanic - What Really Happened?
by Samuel West
Genres: History, Nonfiction

     I knew that the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic was in April, so I thought that this would be a great book to pick this month. Well, not all free books can be winners, I guess. I had been surprised to find that amazon no longer offered this book, but I suppose I can see why now.

     The story started out pretty good, with lots of stats and info for the boat and passengers. The author did a fairly good job of setting the scene and describing the boat, etc. He ended the first chapter with, "Brave attempts were made to stem the flow of the water, by pumping it out. Would it be enough?"

     Of course everyone knows what happened to the Titanic, so I doubt it is much of a plot spoiler to reveal that chapter 2 consisted of exactly two words, "It sank". I kid you not. This was followed by two more words, "The End".

     I'm not sure what Samuel West was playing at. I would like to give the benefit of doubt that he had truly meant to write a real book for the anniversary but ran out of time, or maybe that his first draft was accidentally published. Either way, I'm glad this book was free though it is doubtful that it was worth what I paid for it.

I give it 1 star review graphic 1 star.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow - Review

book cover art of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
by Washington Irving
Genres: Classic, Suspense

     Washing Irving uses flowery prose to establish the setting of a sleepy little backwater town, kind of hard to imagine considering the story is set in New York, somewhere along the Hudson, which is incredibly populated these days. I consider myself to have a decent vocabulary but there were many words that I needed to look up while reading this, one of many things I love about my Kindle. It is so easy to look up word definitions while reading.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Author Interview - R. Rodriguez

Grace: An Eternal Beloved Novel
Book One in series
by R. Rodriguez

     This is R. Rodriguez's first published work, she takes on some serious issues including suicide and abuse, and delivers a remarkable book for young adults. I had the wonderful opportunity to interview R. Rodriguez and you can view it at A Goddess of Frugality.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Whist: Fact or Fiction?

     Phileas Fogg was a big fan of Whist, he played it on trains and ships as he made his way around the world in 80 days. Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy were known to play this game in Wuthering Heights. I have seen the game referred to in many book and my curiosity was piqued. While the game is mentioned enough in classic stories, I thought it odd for a popular game to have fallen by the wayside over the years. Knowing only that the game involved trump and taking of tricks, I had envisioned characters playing a game similar to pinocle or possibly euchre. My inquiring mind decided to do some research.

     Whist originated around the 17th century, though there is no real proof in existence as to the invention of the game. By the early 18th century, the game was not fashionable for gentry folk to play, mainly just the lower classes played it but by the mid-18th century even the upper classes enjoyed the game.

     By the early 20th century, Whist evolved into the card game Bridge. I was surprised to find that Whist IS still played today, mostly in Britain though, which could be why this Yank had never heard of it except in classic English books. So if you like to be able to view a book in your minds eye, like I do, and you run across a group of people playing Whist, you can easily imagine them playing and ancestral version of Bridge.

     If you are actually interested in more of the history of this game, or even the rules, please visit Wikipedia, which is where I got most of my information.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Grace: An Eternal Beloved Novel
Book One in series
by R. Rodriguez

     Since her fifteenth birthday Grace has tried to end her life. She almost succeeds on her 18th birthday, Halloween night, but an external force almost startles her off the bridge that she was prepared to jump off, and a survival instinct kicked in. As she is dangling from the bridge, holding on for her life, Lucian Lake mysteriously appears to rescue her. Tall, handsome, and charming, Lucian becomes the older brother and best friend that she'd never had. Read my full review of this novel for young adults at A Goddess of Frugality

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Witch's Curse - Pick of the Month Book Review

book cover art of A Witch's Curse by Edwina RayA Witch's Curse
by Edwina Ray
Genres: Horror, Paranormal

     This turned out to be a very short story. Only took me about 20 minutes to read but it was refreshing after some of the lengthy books that I have been reading of late.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Hoppy Easter

     There aren't too many Easter-type books for tall people (excuse me while I refrain from using the term "adult fiction" as this leads many to assume one means erotica) besides the story of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection in the Bible. So I decided in honor of the holiday, to bore you with ... I mean relate ... a little history of Easter.

     Easter actually predates Christianity. Originally it was a pagan festival held in the early spring in honor of the Saxon goddess who was known by the names of Oestre or Eastre, and in Germany by the name of Ostara. Eastre was, of course, the goddess of fertility. The egg being a symbol of fertility was the natural choice to celebrate spring and the rebirth of all things grown.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Without a Spark - Review

Without a Spark
by George Berger

     The author displays a masterful use of humor, suspense, action, and plot twists to deliver this incredibly wonderful story. All the main characters have their own personal quirks yet they come together to solve a mystery that has baffled the police.

     When I first started reading this, I had the impression that it was a successive book in a series. Kevin's mysterious activities led me to believe that his past was explained in a previous book. However after finishing the book, I think the author purposely left us in the dark, only to reveal what was going on slowly, at his leisure.

     This was one of my monthly picks way back in January. I'm glad that I finally got around to reading it as I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to reading more from this author. Fair warning though, while this book was free on Amazon back in Janurary, it no longer is.

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Wrinkle in Time - Review

A Wrinkle in Time
by Madeleine L'Engle

     My daughter actually picked this for us to read together. It has taken us close to a year to finish but is the first book that we have managed to finish before my daughter lost interest. I'm not sure if it was because SHE got to pick the book or because she had managed to find a book that she had read but I had not read yet.

     Three children face evil alien/paranormal forces to rescue two of the children's father. There is a hint of the lesson for young people that it is okay to be different, every person has his or her own strengths. You just have to find what you're good at and run with it.

     I found this book to be enjoyable and full of surprises. I did think Meg was a tad bit too whiny, abrupt, and annoying, but she is at that age where young girls tend to be so. The author splendidly combines science fiction, magic, and symbolism and comes up with an iconic book that kids, boys and girls, of all ages love and may remember fondly. I'm still trying to figure out how I'd never read it as a child.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Hound of the Baskervilles - Review

book cover art for The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle The Hound of the Baskervilles
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Genre: Mystery, Classic

     A strange family legend combined with a mysterious death, add some other elements that aren't easily explained and you have the makings of a case that piques Sherlock Holmes' curiosity. This story is primarily set on the moors of Devon in England, the perfect backdrop for a creepy legend.

     I have to admit that I was a little disappointed with this story from Arthur Conan Doyle. As a lover of mysteries, I had been looking forward to reading a Sherlock Holmes story. But Holmes was absent from most of this book as Watson is on his own for a good portion of it.

     The Kindle version that I had was also missing some pertinent parts of the story, which I had to look up online to not be completely lost. And while the mystery they were solving was hardly over exciting, it was still a very enjoyable read with plenty of twists and turns to the plot.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe - Book Review

book cover art of Robinson Cruse by Daniel Defoe Robinson Crusoe
by Daniel Defoe
Genres: Classic, Historical Fiction

     I am an eclectic reader. There aren't many books that I don't like, but this book I just could not get into at all. It was a chore to read and I felt that I was just plodding on to finish it. I was very tempted to not finish it at all.

     First of all, Robinson Crusoe is a preachy bible thumper, when it suits his purpose. He is quick to judge others, but doesn't hold himself to the same standards. At one point he stops and thinks that it just would not be Christian to slay the cannibalistic savages who have done no harm to him personally. That it is up to God to judge them. Yet later in the book, when different strangers approach, he and his group just starts killing them with no apparent confrontation to proceed this action. While I am not over religious, I don't mind the occasional theological reference or theory, but the apparent hypocrisy in this story just really chafed me.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Formidable Task

     I have taken on the very formidable task of inputting all of my books into Goodreads. I have found yet another practical use for the Goodreads phone app. While browsing the used books at Goodwill, I'm always afraid that I will end up buying a duplicate of a book that I already own. How perfect is it that I can now enter the books ISBN number into the Goodreads app to tell whether or not I already own a book. Of course, I need to have all of my books listed in Goodreads first.

     Probably the biggest challenge to this task, is that several books predate the use of ISBN numbers. Some have a Library of Congress number, but many don't even have that. So those I will have to look up manually, I might get around to it one day. I have been limiting myself to just cataloging one shelf a day, otherwise I would be at it all day and get nothing else done.

     I think it is interesting to see how my reading interests have evolved over the years. I didn't bother cataloging the Harlequin Romance novels as it is highly doubtful that I would be looking to buy any in the future. My collection of Danielle Steele books are still in a box in the closet and were never unpacked and brought out to adorn my bookshelves. I also find it hard to believe how many books I have on my shelves that I have never read. Granted, many of them I inherited during a time in my life when I wasn't reading very much, if at all.

     So anyhow, if you follow my goodreads feed, bear with me as you will be seeing tons of books added here in the next few weeks or so.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Monthly Picks for April

It is a new month, and I have actually made some decent lead way on reading my previous monthly picks. Not quite caught up yet, but I am getting there. This month I have chosen to download the following freebie books from Amazon:


My review

My Review

My review

My review
While I am NOT making this an official pick for April as there is no way I can find time to read a 4 book set, but this find is worth noting. FOUR book set by Scott Nicholson includes: The Harvest, The Vampire Club, Burial to Follow, and Drummer Boy is currently FREE on Amazon.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Robinson Crusoe - First Impression

     I'm not enjoying this book as much as I thought I would. I have finally put my finger on what bugs me though. It's the imagery, or lack of actually. I guess mainly Daniel Defoe doesn't describe the scene very well is my main complaint. I feel as thought I'm half blind as many times I will be reading along and BAM! something is suddenly mentioned. What horses? Where did the horses come from? They were on horseback this entire time? I had thought they were on foot, he usually is. Or maybe he was normally on horseback, the author just hadn't any reason to mention it before. There are several instances of this and I find it so hard to get into the story when I just can't picture in my mind's eye what is going on.

     I also find Robinson to be a complete snob. He is stuck on an island, whining that he has no one to converse with, at the first possibility of another man on the island he thinks, oh good I can make him my servant. Seriously? When he had been captured and made a slave, he escaped at the first opportunity, then turned around and sold the boy that had escaped with him. He sure didn't like being a slave but he didn't mind others being sold. I realize slavery wasn't a social issue, like it is today, when this book was written but that aspect seems very hypocritical to me.