Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Last Lover

The Last Lover is written by Can Xue (pen name for Deng Xiaohua), and translated from Chinese into English by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen.

If Quentin Tarentino was living in a Vanilla Sky-esque world in the middle of a Twilight Zone episode and writing in traditional Chinese metaphors, this book would be the result. This has to be the strangest book I have ever read. Having a little bit of background in Chinese culture, I was able to understand some of the writing stance of the author. Many Chinese stories are told through metaphors (much like reading Aesop’s fables).

In the Last Lover, we follow along the journeys of the characters Joe: a worker at a clothing factory and separately his wife Maria. Vincent: the owner of the clothing factor and separately his wife Lisa from the gambling city. Reagan: the owner of a Rubber Tree plantation who buys his uniforms from the clothing factory and briefly his sometimes mistress, Ida.

Each of these characters is on their own journey through their thoughts and every single one of them has trouble telling reality from the created worlds within their minds. There is a blending of realities between characters as they each feature at some point or another within the “reality” of the other characters. Can Xue has also created many other interesting characters along the way.

I can’t really say that this is a “good” book, but I can’t very well rate it below 3 stars. If nothing else, the creativity and originality of the Last Lover is beyond comparison. Can Xue paints beautiful descriptions of the people (when relevant) and their locations. She does an amazing job of making you constantly question reality, just as each character does themselves.

The beginning is a little hard to get into the flow with her unique style of writing. However, once you grasp the way that Can Xue has chosen to tell her story, you are more easily to follow along with the journeys. The characters themselves are definitely interesting to get to know, and I think that Maria and Joyner were definitely my favorite characters. Can Xue depicts the fears and desires from the depths of each character’s psyche.

Overall I still stand by my 3/5 star review due to the actual story as a whole. I had many grand illusions of what the point of the book itself would be. I should have known, given the Chinese desire to leave a story with a messed up ending, but I even anticipated this and still felt extreme disappointment in the final closing scene. I wanted there to be a better wrap up of all that had transpired. In its way there is a closure, but I wanted something more from the intense journeys that were traveled with the characters than the ending that fell flat from such expectations. If you are interested in taking a journey unlike any other, this book is still worth the read, and it is definitely a unique story of its own. I could easily see it being made into a Vanilla Sky type of movie and again, I must commend Can Xue on her beautiful originality, even if the journey was a bit messed up along the way.

*I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Deadly Practice

Deadly Practice is written by Bill Yancey and is a loose sequel many years later to Reluctant Intern. The main character continues to be Dr. Addison “Addy” Wolf.

Addison finds himself returning to Florida (the place of his internship) after failure with his own medical clinic. He takes on a position with a private clinic with people he had worked with in the past. Everything is going great until he meets Sarafea Seville, the office manager who is out for money, no matter whose job she must squeeze it from.

Although constantly complaining that people are overpaid for their positions, she still manages to constantly create more positions with less qualified people making higher ranges for any employees that she fires. The partners that created the new Care facilities seem content to let her run it into the ground as long as the profits continue to soar and they can reap the benefits.

The book has a slightly rocky start, moving at a rather slow pace and lacking flow between chapters, but luckily as Addy settles into his new position the suspense builds and the pace picks up. I once again enjoyed the witty humor smattered throughout the book.

I love that Addy is more interested in being a good doctor, but also has the balls to stand up for himself. Sarafea is an attractive, power-hungry, ballsy dictator as she swiftly takes over every aspect of the clinics. When death attempts begin on Sarafea’s life, it’s hard to know for sure who may be the culprit with the amount of people who wish for her death.

Addy desperately wants to leave the job that he hates that begins putting a strain on his marriage and even his health. Unfortunately, he staked everything he had on this being a lucrative opportunity and does not have the freedom due to debt to just relocate again so quickly. His sanity is partially maintained due to his friendship with ex-Navy Seal, Jake Harer and their frequent handball appointments. Harer’s hatred of Sarafea leads Addy to wonder if the death attempts are coming from his friend and place him in a precarious position.

Yancey again does a splendid job of creating real people and circumstances that always make the reader question if he is writing partially from self-experience. The narration is well done and the descriptions help you get to know the characters and the way that they are feeling to drive their actions.

Overall I give this book 4/5 stars. It was great to revisit Addy and the medical word with Yancey. I did hope to see more conspiracy against Sarafea, but the book took a realistic standpoint. If you are interested in Medical Suspense, Mystery, fiction, etc., this book is for you.

*I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The Order between Sisters

The Order between Sisters is written by Chelsea M. Brown and is narrated by Eliza, the older sister. 

The book is set in a college location and features around the relationship that Eliza has with her sister following behind her like a lost puppy as she is tapped to become a member of a secretive elite society.  Eliza feels that her sister getting constant “legacy” status is not fair.  Legacy, meaning that as a relative, she is instantly given top consideration for becoming a member of a sorority as well as the secret society. 

The book starts out a bit rough with a feeling of Eliza having great disdain and lack of respect for your younger sister, even having a feeling of selfishness for her own space.  I felt that the connection between Eliza and her sister was able to be breached much too easily for the disdain originally depicted in the beginning.

The story was a light enjoyable read and was a good new adult college romance.  My biggest complain about this book is the setting for the story is done in one manner and there seems to be a gap in flow between the start of the book and the growth that is seen developing with Eliza amidst various relationships that she develops.  It would have been interesting to see any of the points of view from the Little Sister Victoria.

Overall I give the book 4/5 stars.  Although I feel that there could be some more development and editing conducted in the book, once it really got going, it was a quick and enjoyable read.  Chelsea definitely has a gift for storytelling and with a bit more polishing; this could easily develop into a 5 star novel.  I look forward to any future novels that she writes.  If you are into new adult, fiction, romance, college, secret society, sister relationships, etc., then you should definitely check this book out. 

*I received a digital copy of this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Tears of Nero

The Tears of Nero is written by Jason Brannon and features a story reminiscent of SAW and featuring Christianity and beliefs in angels and the apocalypse.

When describing this book, I most commonly refer to it as “The Dark Religious Saw” book. It features religious zealotry for personal gain at its finest. There are a plethora of Old Testament religious names and ideas that occur within this novel. However, do not let the religious aspect cause you to shy away from this book. As someone who will usually pass up overly religious fiction, this was a thrilling read. It was definitely worth the read and the religion was the driving force for sides both “good” and “evil.”

I had many conspiracy theories about characters throughout the book and can admit slight disappointment at none of them coming to pass as huge twists in the story, but it was still a very good suspense read.

The book opens in a man having a possible psychotic break when he is visited by a dark angel after having lost his mother to cancer which makes him question his faith and belief in God. The question that pervades his mind and remains a theme throughout the story is “Why do bad things happen to good people?” At this time he is reminded of and envisions the historical Roman emperor Nero who massacred Christians during his reign.

Five people awaken after having been drugged at a party on what they think is a deserted island. Quickly, they realize that they are instead about to play a game that may cost them their lives. They are faced with experiences that will make them question their faith, and everything they know about people and life in order to entertain the curiosity of a madman. Each of them has something in common in one way or another, but can they figure it out in time?

Brannon did an excellent job of creating realistic characters and breathing into them life. The surroundings were described well and you could feel the ominous tones of the book. My main complaints are there were a few typos peppered here and there throughout the story and that I wanted it to have more twists to totally blow away any notions of solving the mystery.

Overall this was an entertaining read that is well deserving of 4/5 stars. I would definitely be interested in reading more of Brannon’s work and I highly recommend this novel. If you are into anything from suspense to religion to fiction in general, you will enjoy this book.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Pants on Fire

Pants on Fire is written by J.A. Coffey and is book 2 in the Southern Seductions series. This novel features the main characters of Chase and Suze. Suze is the best friend of the character Jessica from Liar, Liar (The first novel in the series).

Chase is the “golden boy,” an All-American football hero until an injury puts him off the team for good. Now he has returned to his hometown of Atlanta, and hopes to cross paths with the one girl that he walked away from: Suzanne Collier.

Suze is a rising debutante in the charity arena. Coming from money, her goal is to make a dent in the charity business as an event coordinator and secure her future as such. At one such event she finds herself face to face with the one man that caused her to harden her heart against all other: Chase Weston.

Chase’s true drive is to help children in athletic programs and to do that he needs help from Suze to get him in the right direction for council approval, but his ulterior motives and feelings from his past may get in his way. Suze wants to go for the revenge sex to get Chase out of her system for good, but finds that working together on a professional level isn’t nearly as bad as she anticipated.

As far as the writing is concerned, I felt that I could relate a lot more to Jessica from book 1 as opposed to Suze. Suze and Chase both seem to want for nothing in the realm of money and both are avid game players in love.

Coffey has written realistic characters and their tension is palpable through the pages. I still felt that there was more heat and passion between Jessica and Mateo in book one, and this book didn’t quite match the action. Overall, it was still an enjoyable pleasure read and I highly recommend it.

5/5 stars. A great pleasure novel for a light read, with a big of life distress. I am definitely interested in checking out the third installment of the series “Hell on Heels” which was released this year. If you enjoy reading fiction, romance, chick-lit, contemporary, erotica, etc., then you should definitely check out Pants on Fire!

*I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

Here is my review of the first book Liar, Liar

Monday, March 23, 2015

Possession of my Soul

Possession Of My Soul is written by Kia Carrington-Russell and is the first book in the Three Immortal Blades Series. The story revolves around the main character Karla, who is an unassuming teenage girl who finds herself thrust amidst a war, where each side of the fight remains unclear in their true intentions.

Karla as a character is relatable. She isn’t annoying in a way that some main characters can be. She finds herself coming into her own with womanhood as well as new-found abilities. My main complaint about her, was that I don’t think that any of her love interests were believably built up. I wanted there to be more of a background to the emotions. There is a lot of thrust upon emotions in terms of those who acquire her fancy. Otherwise, I enjoyed getting to see her find herself and find ways to stand up to adversity and find a strength she never knew she was capable of.

The story itself is an interesting take on fantasy. There are a lot of typical factors, but shown in a new light. There are Starkorfs who are essentially vampires, but almost in a zombie type of fashion if they are not of very pure blood. There was not any real detail about the actual way that one would become a Starkorf, or if it is merely something that one is born into. If so, it would be interesting to know more details about how actual procreation worked, if it was any different than humans, those sorts of aspects. Given that this is the first book of the series, it would be good to see if that was explained in more detail in later books.

I did enjoy the ancillary characters and getting to know them. They did seem as if to be from a distance as a reader. The connection with their emotions wasn’t quite there. Truly reading this book felt like it was going to be a 3 star type of book about 75% of the way in. Kia definitely pulls it out for the last part of the book which caused me to up my rating to 4 stars. She definitely ends in a blaze of glory and leaves her ready to read more of the story.

Overall I give this book 4/5 stars. Kia has potential as an author as she hones her writing skills. I hope to see more of a connection into the feelings of the characters of a world that she does a great job describing. I love a lot of the new twists on unique abilities and would love to read an entire book about the elementals as well as some background about a particular wolf creature. If you are into fantasy, paranormal, young adult, fiction, woman empowering, romance, etc, you may very well find yourself interested in this book.

*I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

HSC (Highly Sensitive Child) or ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)?

I am doing research right now and I found a section in a book that reminded me so much of Liam's issues with his last day and hit the nail right on the head, so I wanted to share it, because it was always my argument against any claims that he as a 2-3 year old had ADD: many teachers or counselors are most familiar with the attention deficit HSC (highly sensitive child) who naturally notices sounds and movement will be highly distractible in distracting environments which could lead to the diagnosis of ADD. However, such a child will have good concentration when there are no distractions, which is not typical of children with ADD/ADHD. If the disorder began due to a change with a new teacher or school, often a poor fit is the real cause. A teacher who demands that children be highly focused at all times, may result in an HSC that unable to focus, making them more aroused or anxious which will further decrease their ability to focus.

Thank you, moving my son to a more suitable environment made ALL the difference in the world, even if I did it without reading this book first. Liam was labeled as a trouble child with no discipline because he had issues sitting in a chair with little to no activity for the majority of his day, at the age of 2-3 years old. 

He is now a leader, and a good example, and was always at the top of his class in what he actually knew in terms of his education, so now he is excelling even more. 

I was even advised by his daycare to talk to his pediatrician about medication for ADD. He is a CHILD, he is MEANT TO BE A CHILD. Stop trying to force medicate because you don't want to allow children to thrive and grow if it causes you to exert any extra effort. If you can't handle it, then PLEASE, for the LOVE OF OUR FUTURE, STAY OUT OF THE ROLE of being any part of shaping child's life. 

Rant over. For further reading check out her book "The Highly Sensitive Child"

Friday, March 20, 2015

Easter 2015 Portraits

Liam got the most adorable Easter portraits done this month and I just got them back the other day.  I wanted to share their cuteness with the world!  Enjoy!