Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Ohio 2029

Ohio 2029: Utopia Has Never Been So Wrong is written by D.A. Winstead and is about the state of affairs of the country after a huge stock market crash that has caused America to split apart amongst its political parties, and this is the fallout.

In a sense it can definitely be classified as a dystopian novel, but it is scarier than most. While reading this book I could feel this as being a VERY real possibility for our country. I would like to think that things would never go this far, but it is hard to define a VERY real divide in America between the two major political parties.

Starting with an intro from 2015 that features an economic implosion that makes the last major crash look tame in comparison. The timeline then moves on with short snippets and news headlines, the reader is caught up to the future. The public has completely rejected the Democratic Party with the crash happening during Obama’s time in office. The Republican Party has now been lifted up as saviors, disbanding big government and sectioning it out to different states. However, there is still a lot of anger and rebuilding that must take place.

Rioting occurring in many states leads to those locations being partitioned off as zones, and as things get worse, marshal law is brought into the zones for order. To teach the country a lesson and to move forward, any openly affiliated Democrat is then moved to within reach or even put inside of the zones for punishment. The theory is that if they want to live in a state of being supported by the government and in a state of sharing all that they have, then they can do so within those zone. In the meantime the rest of the country will move on with life and rebuild in a stronger and smarter way, albeit more carefully and strictly with many freedoms American’s have known unable to be given back at this time.

In the middle of all of the chaos the story follows the lives of two families. One is a red state senator’s daughter named Mary Catherine Marshall and the other the boy who used to live next door Maddie Garner. Maddie’s family was relocated to the dirtiest and most violent reform zone in Cincinnati, Ohio. In a way this is a modern political party Romeo and Juliet, but it is so much deeper than that.

Winstead has created a world that is scary to think about and one I hope we never come close to. With so much hate and fear in this world today, it is easy to see how a novel of this caliber could take hold within our hearts. The scenes came alive before my eyes in a desperate manner of living for many. The people were real and easy to connect, root for, and abhor.

I give this book 5/5 stars. Definitely something I probably wouldn’t have picked up on my own, but I would have missed out on some wondrous storytelling, strewn from the heart of our country’s security fears. Winstead translated these fears and bleak outcomes in brilliance. If you are into futuristic novels, sci-fi, political thrillers, romance, dystopian, fiction, suspense, etc., you should definitely pick this one up.

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

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Flip

The Flip is written by Michael Phillip Cash and is about a married couple that flips houses.

Julie is the wife and works full time, devoting her additional time to flipping houses in hopes of gaining enough capital to one day quit her job.  Brad is the husband who is very handy at fixing things around the house, which led him to meet Julie.  He does most of the dirty work with the house flipping.

When discovering a house with a price that is just “too good to be true”, Julie can’t pass up the opportunity to fix up an old house on Bedlam street in Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island.  There are so many quirky and antique features that she can’t help but fall in love with, even dreaming on fixing it up enough to turn it into a Bed & Breakfast.  Brad does not feel the love for the house the Julie does and views the project as more than it is worth.  He finds himself hating the house more with each moment he spends gutting it out and fixing it up.  Not long before the project is begun, there are a series of strange occurrences that seem to only be logical if explained by paranormal behavior. 

Cash has written a book that delivers believable humans, and also paints a picture of paranormal duo with a rich history between them.  It is very interesting to read this book from the living and the paranormal aspects equally.

The Flip is a fast paced read and easy to get into, it is easy to picture many of the features and events that take place.  Unfortunately I was also left with a lot of unanswered questions in relation to things such as the sentinels.  I couldn’t find the rapid pace of the romance between certain characters as being plausible to suddenly speed up and show acceptance with such a small event.  It made no sense that this power would not have been exerted over the annoying paranormal duo before now. 

Overall, I give this book 4/5 stars.  The beginning and the middle of the book were spectacular, but the end and the wrap up were enough to bring a lesser book down to a mere 3 stars.  The quality of Cash’s overall writing and the way that a reader can get into the book make it hard to award less than the 4 stars.  I wish the ending was completely scrapped and rewritten, or perhaps the books had more events to lead up the final outcome.  I would definitely read another of his books, and hopefully there will be better closure.  I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys reading fiction, historical fiction, romance, paranormal, ghost, military, civil war era, etc.

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

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Creation Theory and Parenting

I am currently taking a Mythological English class, and last week we explored our beliefs and the beliefs around the world in creationism.  As a response I had to talk about how I was raised and how I would raise my son.   I spent a lot of time with this, and realized that although I have had many thoughts about it in the past, that I have never actually written down any of those thoughts.  I wanted to share them now in the this public forum:

I have always been fascinated with much in this story of creationism due to all that surrounds it in numerology given the number seven as well as the many similarities that can be traced back to religions of many different eras.  The contradictory beliefs that I have personally experienced within the rigid followers of Christianity have both confused and intrigued me.  I do claim Christianity as a base belief with an open mind to other beliefs and science.

To speak openly and truthfully, my son is now four and I approach small issues as they arrive.  Living in the state of Texas is an extremely religious state, at times to the point of zealotry.  I have no issues with my son learning positive values from any religion such as how to treat people and be a kind and compassionate individual.  As far as it pertains to creation, I have always treaded a line between religion and science.  I do believe that evolution exists as it happens every day, but I also do not think that Darwin was entirely correct in our origin.  I believe that in Science one can also deduce an evolution from a much more man-like species, which is still created at some point.  Given the newness of Christianity within our history as mankind, I have a hard time trusting that it is the “end all, be all” theory in regards to life. 

I choose to let me son explore what feels right and true within his own soul and heart and not force-feed him beliefs in the way that they were thrust upon me.  I feel that my role as a parent is instead to guide him to sources of knowledge and be there to answer his questions as best I can; free from judgment and bias if he comes to a different conclusion that is right for him, than that which is right for me.  I think that this is an issue that will continue to be a debatable enigma for as long as mankind exists.  For me I do not need to know the answers to everything, as I am constantly in search of information to quench my thirst for knowledge and I am open to concepts that are knew and feel more correct than what I know at this point and time.  I know that is not a complete or popular answer on this question, but that is best I can provide at this time.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Battle of the Grandmas

Battle of the Grandmas is written by Anthonette Klinkerman and is in appearance a children’s book. Klinkerman writes from a school teacher and mother’s perspective.

Klinkerman’s Grandmas are easily relatable for many adult readers of the story. It revolves around 3 grandparents and a young girl named Madelyn. In order to win her affections each of them tried to earn the title of “best grandma” by giving the greatest and most extravagant gifts to their granddaughter.

Through the telling of this story one can assume that the little girl must be the only grandchild based on the gifts that she receives. This story holds a definite moral for all of us. Physical presence and attention is more important that any gift that we can give to our child.

The younger the child, the happier they are with anything to share with you, whether it is a box, a craft you have made, a store bought toy, etc. Many times in a younger child’s life they will be just as happy, if not more so with the box the toy came in.

This story shows that all that the girls wanted was to be able to spend time with her grandmas, not the plethora of gifts she was receiving. She reached the point of gift reception that she began to dread getting a package in the mail. Their love seemed to be more for a fa├žade than actual love to her because instead of being there with her, they were sending store bought “love”. Upon accidentally all sending their granddaughter the same book, this started an all-out gift giving trench warfare. The grandmothers started worrying more about competing with one another to send the best gift rather than what it was that their granddaughter really wanted/needed from them.

Battle of the Grandmas consists of 34 pages of full-length color cartoon-like illustrations. The story is told in a rhyming format. The lettering is easy to read and perfect for children with a slightly longer attention span in the age range of about 3-8 years old.

Overall I give this book 4/5 stars. I love that the moral is one of quantity over quality of relationships. It was a quick read, but it did seem more directed at an adult, and my 4 year old rated it low on re-readability. It is a great book to read if you are into teaching lasting values with your children, children’s book, illustrated books, sharing, grandmothers, gift-giving, etc.

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

Monday, April 27, 2015

Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me

Lies that Chelsea Handler told me is a collection of short anecdotes about Chelsea written by members of her family and friends with a short response at the end of each by Chelsea.

Chelsea Handler is known as a hilarious entertainer and I expected nothing short of intense hilarity from this book. What I got, however was more than I had bargained for. This book has many funny and messed up stories within these pages. However, in addition to the stories of Chelsea’s antics, I was given an intimate look into Chelsea as a person.

There are memories within these pages which show the seriousness of life and as always the way that Chelsea finds humor in every situation. I had no idea the level of entertainment that Chelsea received from each and every situation that she finds advantageous for the most genius of jokes. I found myself questioning on many occasions if I would have the steadfastness to put up with some of the horrendous things Chelsea has done in the past, or if I would be able to love Chelsea as fiercely and see through to the heart of the matter that results from being the butt of one of her many schemes.

I walked away with a better understanding of who Chelsea Handler is behind the laughs and jokes. Chelsea loves fiercely, and with that love comes practical jokes and picking on people that can only be seen in an intense middle school crush situation of “boy likes girl.”

I give this book 5/5 stars. It was entertaining, it was funny, and it was intimate. NOTHING is off limits with Chelsea Handler, and there is no level of appropriateness. Chelsea is exactly where she needs to be in life for her greatest good and happiness and offer of laughs to the public. I can appreciate and love Chelsea even more for her inappropriate sense of humor and her desire to take care of everyone she cares about, even if it comes at their own expense from time to time. If you are a Chelsea Handler fan you MUST read this book, also if you are into biography, humor, non-fiction, etc, you would enjoy this book.

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