Thursday, December 24, 2015

Book Review: The Red Ribbon by Rachel B. Ledge

The Red RibbonThe Red Ribbon by Rachel B. Ledge
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review.

This book is amazing!! England pretty much any time in history is a favorite. Add in romance, intrigue, and a dash of ghosts and I'm in. I assumed I would like it. I didn't expect to fall passionately in love with this book. From early on, I HAD to know what was going to happen to these people. They just had to be okay because they were too amazing to be anything else. Julia, Roland, Clementine, and a few others whose names I won't mention for fear of giving something away are now dear friends. Charles King is a horrid awful person.

I sped through this book because I had to know that my new friends were okay. Now I'm ready to back an read through it slowly to catch all that I missed the first time. I will be ordering a physical copy of this book in the very near future. I have to have these people near me.


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Right now on Amazon Kindle, it is only $0.99! It is worth way more than that! I will say there were a few typos that might bother some. And there were some areas were the characterization was a bit thin and the plot may have been rushed in a few places. It does jump right into the middle of the whole thing and it dances around some other issues. So it isn't perfect, but I loved it too much to let those (in this book) minor issues detract from my deep and passionate love. However, for some of you and even for myself at the right time, these minor issues could be major ones. So you have been forewarned!

Personally, the fact that I want to read it again says a lot. I almost NEVER reread a book. The only one I have reread on purpose is Wuthering Heights. So that's pretty high praise from me. Amazing book!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Book Review: Chronicles of a Clocksmith by M. Doerner-Miller

Chronicles of a ClocksmithChronicles of a Clocksmith by M. Doerner-Miller
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I got this book in exchange for an honest review from Story Cartel.

The distance between the narrator and characters turned me off. I assume it was an effort to make it seem more like an ancient tale. Therefore I think it could be good for young elementary kids. Lots of fantasy, unique characters, and very tiny amounts of violence.
However for me, it just made it hard to connect with the characters. And without that connection to character it really made it hard to slog through the book. However if you like the feel of an ancient tale, this is a great option.


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I hate to give bad reviews for a clever book. It really is a good story. The gnomes and other fantasy characters are neat. The author does a good job of bringing it back to the real world and what the parents are thinking and feeling. Violence is only mentioned in passing and in a distant way. The final "battle" isn't even a battle. It would make a great novel for you to read to your elementary aged child or for them to read for themselves. It doesn't translate well for adults, but kids would enjoy it immensely. 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Action Packed or Human Driven: Two Good Books

A few months ago I wrote about two sci-fi novellas, Relics and The Lucid. They each have a part 2 now. I have read both of them and both of them have improved in totally different ways. The Lucid is an action packed thriller. Relics is a moving portrayal of humanity. They are both great in so many different ways. They are definitely worth your time and money.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
First things first, I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review. I like episode 2 better than episode 1. Of course you have to read episode 1 to understand what is going on and Episode 1 has merit of its own.

Episode 2 moves quickly. There is lots of action and you see the process of character development. Some sad things happen, but they are not drawn out to the point of tragedy. I really appreciate this. We see the major players revealing who they are and their part in the plot.

This is the part of the story where you really find out who they are and what is going on. I can't wait for the next one!


I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Honestly, I wanted to not like it. I wanted to be over the Sci-fi AI genre. But I just couldn't do that! That darn Nick Thacker has done it once again. He has drawn me into this futuristic world where humanity is pitted against Artificial Intelligence. The System is a background character, which lets you focus so much more on the people in the story. Rand, Diane, Ravi, Meyers, Solomon, and now the town of Relics and the camp of Unders! There are so many people connected in so many ways that we are just beginning to discover. This is not just a sci-fi AI story. This is a story about people, people who have made mistakes, people who are trying to make things better, people who are trying to recover who they are. These people are trying to connect and create relationships in spite of the System that is deconstructing and isolating the people. There is so much here to love.

Book Review: I'd Rather Wear Pajamas by Chelsea Walker Flagg

I'd Rather Wear PajamasI'd Rather Wear Pajamas by Chelsea Walker Flagg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review.

I laughed until I cried. This is honest, hilarious, and real. I can't say that I agree with every observation, but the story is not told as if I should agree with it. She does talk about motherhood, but it is not the focus of the story. The focus is her going from young girl to confident adult woman. There are so many stories that all women can relate to. I am so glad I read this book! You will be glad to read it as well.


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I literally sat in bed last night laughing until I was crying. Both my husband and my son came to check on me to see what was happening. Her story is so very relatable.
My only complaint and it is a relatively minor one is her dependence on her horoscope sign to determine how to categorize herself. It was a little off putting. So I didn't rate it a 5 stars. However, that is a minor point that doesn't detract from the story anyway. If you are a woman and want to laugh, get this book. You will not regret it! 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Jewish Grandma and a Coffeehouse

You think this the beginning of a joke. It is really the beginning of two book reviews.

Death Before Decaf (A Java Jive Mystery, #1)Death Before Decaf by Caroline Fardig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First things first, I received this in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley.

I really wanted to give this book a 4.5! In good "snobby reader" conscious I can't give a cozy mystery 5 stars. But it probably is one of the best modern mystery novels I have read. I could guess part of the solution, but I certainly did not have it all together. So I loved the surprise at the end. I loved the characters and that surprises me. I'm not one that normally falls in love with mystery novel characters. I enjoyed the humor. I didn't laugh out loud, but as I said earlier I'm a book snob. I was also surprised that I liked the love triangle as much as I did. I am definitely Team Ryder! But I fear that we are supposed to be Team Pete. I never pick the winning guy. I can't wait for the next installment. I want to know what happens next with Juliet and Java Jive.
Well written, interesting characters, a mystery that keeps you guessing, a bit of humor, and some romance to top it all off. I really loved this one.


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A Pain in the Tuchis (A Mrs. Kaplan Mystery #2)A Pain in the Tuchis by Mark Reutlinger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First things first. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley.

Having read and enjoyed Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death, I thought I would pick this one up. I am SOOO glad I did. I enjoyed this one more than the first one. Reading about Mrs. Kaplan and Ida again was so much fun. It feels like I get to visit with my very own Jewish grandmother. I get to learn a new language and hear about their adventures. Mr. Reutlinger does a great job of making the language a natural part of the story and keep us in the loop. The solution to this mystery was not a complete surprise. I had suspicions about who was the culprit, but I can't say that I had it all figured out. I did enjoy the solution of the previous book more than this one. However, I enjoyed Mrs. K and Ida more in this one than in the previous one. So just go buy both of them and enjoy some time at the Julius and Rebecca Cohen Home for Jewish Seniors!


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I really loved both of these and I look forward to reading the next installments of them. If you like mysteries without too much blood and guts and heartache, read these. They fit nicely into their genre, cozy mysteries.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Book Review: Things a Mother Discovers by Filipa Fonseca Silva

Things a Mother Discovers: (and no one talks about)Things a Mother Discovers: by Filipa Fonseca Silva
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First things first, I received a free copy of this book from Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review.

I think my favorite parts were the illustrations. Those were so gorgeous and I would buy this book for those alone. As to the actual writing, her honesty was refreshing. As a mother, I really enjoy hearing that I'm not alone in these things. The warning against those without a sense of humor is a good one. She doesn't hold back and I LOVED it. If you don't want that much brutal honesty, then I would pass on this one.

I didn't agree with all of her ideas and didn't connect with everything. There were some very European elements, which was enjoyable to read, but didn't connect with my mothering experience. There were some places where I disagreed with her thoughts, but that is bound to happen.

Overall, a fun read that let me know I'm not alone in this mothering job.


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Most of  my disagreements with her were based on several of my spiritual beliefs. Not so strongly as to anger me or even frustrate me. It did dampen my enjoyment of the book as a whole, but dislike two chapters isn't really a big deal in my book. And seriously the illustrations at the end of the chapters were beautiful and calming and just a really great addition. In this crazy sprint that is motherhood of young children, it is nice to have something to make you pause and take a deep breath.

If you are looking for a quick read to make you laugh and enjoy your kids a little more, this one is definitely worth $4.79.

If you are looking for good books and you are willing to review them, check out Story Cartel.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Two Sci-Fi Novellas

Relics: The Dawn: Relics Singularity Series Book 1Relics: The Dawn: Relics Singularity Series Book 1 by Nick Thacker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There is a lot of tech speak in this novel. I understood most of it, but there were moments that didn't make any sense. But since it is Science Fiction, I assumed it was made up. Most of those things were specific details. The general idea of those conversations was clear.

I don't particularly like series of books because I have a hard time caring for the long periods of time in between novels. And I was prepared to not like this one as I couldn't see how there could be a satisfying ending. I was wrong. There was a satisfying ending. So much so that I am even willing to wait on the next book in the series.

After all that negative, you might be wondering why I gave it 3 stars. Thacker creates great characters and a compelling plot. I genuinely like the main characters and I'm desperately hoping for the best for them. The plot seems simple, but really has many layers. Just when I start to understand one part another part comes up with questions.

So the plot and characters are worth 3 stars even if the details are sketchy and it is a series. Fascinating read that will make you think. It is worth the money.


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The Lucid - Season One: The BeginningThe Lucid - Season One: The Beginning by Nick Thacker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm so glad they didn't use the word zombies. They used the word suppressed. I like that idea much better. It seems more realistic and less gruesome. It fits this novel very well.
I also like Adam's heart. His love for his family is developed throughout the novel. It isn't just a throw away thought to show his humanity. It is his driving force. This makes him the obvious good guy. And the obvious bad guy has no family and seems to have no feelings for anyone else. He doesn't have much humanity left in him.
I like the clear cut good guy and bad guy. I like that the problem of humanity is brought down to a personal and familial level. These things set this novella apart from other "end of humanity, machines are taking over" novels I have read. I look forward to others in this series.


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I preferred The Lucid to Relics. However for just a few bucks a piece, they are both a good investment. If don't like science fiction, you may not like these. Relics is very computer tech heavy. The Lucid is more about chemicals in the tech department, but not too much in the first novella anyway. They are both great to get you thinking about what if. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Day The Angels Fell by Shawn Smucker: Book Review

The Day The Angels FellThe Day The Angels Fell by Shawn Smucker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought this would be an easy review to write, but I am wrong. I normally don't think twice about the number of stars to give. I have changed my mind several times so far. This book seems to be evading my summation.

Sam and Abra are rather adorable. Shawn's writing is fabulous as usual. There is a note of magical realism about the book. The religious references are sufficient without being heavy handed.

The story is straightforward and yet I kept expecting it to go somewhere else.
Often when I see the main character going through a significant amount of pain and suffering, I have to take a break from the book. I was worried that this one would be that way, so I wasn't in a hurry to finish it. However that didn't happen. Maybe that is why I kept expecting it to go somewhere else.

I will say the very end was a bit of a surprise and I'm glad it went in that direction.

I have heard someone refer to it as a coming of age story. I can see that and they aren't my favorite type to read. However, the magic within it kept me reading.

Overall, I enjoyed the book even though it wasn't what I was expecting. I'm looking forward to the sequel.


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This one was so hard to write a review for. A few weeks after finishing it and I still can't really put my thoughts into sufficient words. There were a few things that I was hoping to have more explaination for, but they might be answered in the sequel or I might have missed something or it wasn't that big of a deal to begin with. The story is memorable. The characters are lovely. The pain isn't overwhelming.  And the magic is superb.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Gray Picture of Dorian by Nick Thacker: Book Review

The Gray Picture of Dorian: An Artificial Intelligence Techno Thriller Sci-Fi Short Story by Nick Thacker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This short piece of fiction is disturbing in all the ways that science fiction should be.  I could see what was coming before Dorian could and I wanted to warn him. Then there was another part of me that thought he deserves it.

The title immediately reminded me of Oscar Wilde's classic and as I read this modern Dorian reminded me of the classic as well. He is vain and concieted and totally fine with using the people around him. I don't want to give away the ending, but this modern Dorian find himself shut out of his own life. As much as I didn't like him, I didn't want that ending for him either. However he made his bed, so now he must lie in it.

This is definitely worth the $2.99 because of its entertainment value and its re-readability. I only take away half a star because it is a smidge depressing.

I recieved an advance copy for an honest review. The above is my honest review of the work of a fabulous author.


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I would really give it 4.5 stars.

I am normally skeptical of a modern take on a classic novel. This one is well done and there is no need for my hesitation. This one left me wondering about humanity and technology. It left me with a sadness for Dorian as well as a feeling that I just read a very well put together story.

You can get it here, which is an affiliate link.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Precious Jewels Trilogy by Kerstin Geir: A Book Review

It has been many years since I have fallen so in love with characters, since I felt their loss so keenly when the book was done. The one that comes to mind is Rilla of Ingleside by L. M. Montgomery. I remember being heartbroken for days after I finished that book. This one didn't cause me so much heartache, but I did miss Gwenyth and Gideon for days after I finished the books. I considered starting them again!

For all of my love, I am not without compliant. I am not happy with the resolution. It was clever, but somehow unfulfilling. I could go on, but I don't want to give away the ending. I think one reason I was so unhappy with the ending is that it seemed unrealistic. Yes even in the setting of time traveling genes, it was unrealistic. One of the things I loved so much about this series was how realistic the characters actions are. The way they act, react, and think definitely seem characteristic of teens that have some anomoly about them and need to plan ahead. The ending seems less planned and had a longer lasting impact. I worry that they will regret their decision later. And I think that tells you just how obsessed I became with them.

Ruby Red (Precious Stone Trilogy, #1)Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh my goodness! I loved this book. There are several classic themes, girl who doesn't know how great she is discovering hidden powers and falling in love with someone she feels is far above her, secret societies keeping secrets. But there are some new ones, time travel and family members from the past trying to influence the future. Gwen is fabulous. Lesley is amazing. Gideon is wonderful. They are all as you would expect them to be based on their roles in the story, but their voices are so authentic and believable. I will be going to the library tomororw to get book #2; Can't wait!!


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Sapphire Blue (Precious Stone Trilogy, #2)Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this book in 6 hours! I literally couldn't put it down. I normally don't like series books. I think generally there is too much introduction and not enough of the bad guy to want to keep reading.

This is not that book!

Ruby Red gives us an introduction to the characters and the problem with some meat on it. It isn't all introduction. Sapphire Blue gives us a few answers and a few more questions. There were multiple parts that made me react out loud to what was going on. There are funny parts. There are inspiring parts. And there are heart breaking parts. The count seems even more dangerous at the end of book 2 than he did at the end of book 1. I can't wait to see how this ends.


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Emerald Green (Precious Stone Trilogy, #3)Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A few points at the end were too convenient. I love that she didn't spell out each piece piece of the ending for us. She left us thinking at the end and putting some things together ourselves. The point of view, 1st person, stayed true throughout the whole series. I love that! It really adds another dimension to the story.
Fabulous series. I read the whole thing in less than a week. Books 2 and 3 I read in one sitting. Loved it!!


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The box set is available for less than $30 through Amazon, when they come back in stock. But I read the whole series through the library. I love it so much that I do plan on buying the trilogy.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Book Review: Journal 97 The Case Notes of E.R. Satz :The Right Side by Ben Kotyuk

Journal 97 The Case Notes Of E.R.Satz: The Right SideJournal 97 The Case Notes Of E.R.Satz: The Right Side by Ben Kotyuk
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I got a free copy of this book from Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review.

The book reads like a myth or fairy tale. Third person point of view. Straight forward action. No hints of deeper motivations. The characters, Vladoff and Yuri, are likable and simple. There are hints dropped throughout the story of the ending, but somehow I still found it to be a surprise.

The narrator is E.R. Satz, a theoretical historian. And the book are notes from one of his journals. It is a clever frame story to present the heart of the story, how Vladoff and Yuri found a place to settle down.

There is much humor in the book. The town that runs on brussel sprouts, the smell they leave, and the knee water that plagues them. You laugh, but even as you laugh you are caring for the characters.

The only negative I have to mention was resolved by the end of the book. It seemed to be getting long and going nowhere in particular. When I got to the end and reread that it was a book of theoretical history, it all fell into place and I laughed at myself for not remembering that as I read.

It is not a deep novel, but it is humorous. It is an easy read and rather enjoyable. Not something I would normally gravitate toward, but I'm glad I did.


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Seeing the price of $2.99 on Amazon makes me like the book even more!!


Journal 97 The Case Notes Of E.R.Satz: The Right Side Kindle Edition

  • File Size: 3870 KB
  • Print Length: 101 pages
  • Publisher: Kelley Lee McDonald; 1 edition (January 29, 2015)
  • Publication Date: January 29, 2015
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Tie That Bound Us: The Women of John Brown's Family and the Legacy of Radical Abolitionism

The Tie That Bound Us: The Women of John Brown's Family and the Legacy of Radical AbolitionismThe Tie That Bound Us: The Women of John Brown's Family and the Legacy of Radical Abolitionism by Bonnie Laughlin-Schultz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A sweeping and widely encompassing account of how John Brown's actions and beliefs affected the women closest to him. There is so much information about ore Civil War and post Civil War abolitionism. I feel like I have a handle on societal issues surrounding abolitionism. I also feel like I have seen into the daily lives and struggles of these some that influenced them into becoming complicated people with the heavy weight of their collective past.

I must say that this was a hefty book to get through. I'm glad I kept at it and finished, but it took me awhile.


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And a thank you to NetGalley for the free copy. I really am reviewing it!

One thing I want to make very clear is that this is an intellectual book. It is written by a professor and reads like a book for students. That is one reason it took me over a year to read it. I am not that great at academic reading. However, this one is so full of great details and insights that I couldn't give up on it either. I really did enjoy it. If you decide to pick it up, there is so much you will learn! Just be prepared to take your time.

I just found out that the author is a professor at EIU, my alma mater! Go Panthers! By the writing in this book, I can tell she is a great academic and probably an awesome professor.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press; 1 edition (August 6, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801451612

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Shadow Ritual by Eric Giacometti

Shadow RitualShadow Ritual by Eric Giacometti
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley for the free review copy.

The good guys are right and the bad guys are evil personified. They are chasing an ancient secret that had been lost to humanity. We all know the good guys win. In typical good guy fashion saved at the last minute by a minor character that proves to be a valued friend. The bad guys were brutal and the good guys were philosophical. I didn't really buy their philosophy, but that didn't detract from the overall book. The overt effort to make Freemasons into knowledge gathering heroes was a bit odd. However if you look at it like a superhero story, then it fits the pattern. Not a favorite, but not a regret in reading it either.


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My first impression as you can see was 3 stars. However this is another book that I wish I could give half stars too. This is really a 3 1/2 star book. I enjoyed reading it. I enjoyed the characters passion for history. It was brutal at times and I didn't really like that. It didn't make me stop reading as some have though.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading a well crafted book in which I knew the good guy was going to win. Sometimes you want to be assure that the ending is worth the reading. This one definitely was.


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 $13.56

Product Details

  • Paperback: 270 pages
  • Publisher: Le French Book (March 25, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1939474302

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Medium Dead by Paula Paul: A Book Review

Medium Dead: An Alexandra Gladstone MysteryMedium Dead: An Alexandra Gladstone Mystery by Paula Paul
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The good-

I loved the way she wrote a tension between science and spiritual beliefs. The idea of modern medicine and knowledge of body functions is new to many in this small English town. It really put this novel in the right time period.

The race at the end to catch the killer and keep everyone safe was great. It is not often that you can get that effect in a novel as you do on TV. Ms. Paul did and I am impressed.

The bad -

The characters were so focused on how it couldn't be one character that they weren't really looking for the murder. They were looking for ways to exonerate the one. It seemed like half the novel was obsessed with this. It was overdone and very annoying.

The main characters of Alexandra, Nancy, and Nicholas were not terribly memorable. I didn't dislike them, but I didn't really like theme either. I just didn't have a strong sense of who they were. That by itself wouldn't have bothered me too much, but that and the obsession with exoneration almost made me rate it at 2 stars.


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Product Details

  • Print Length: 177 pages
  • Publisher: Alibi (April 14, 2015)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English

Book Description

 April 14, 2015
Sure to delight readers of Jacqueline Winspear, Emma Jameson, and Laura Childs, Medium Dead features Queen Victoria herself—and she’s rumored to have slain a local psychic in Newton-upon-Sea. Now the task of clearing her name and catching the real killer falls to Dr. Alexandra Gladstone.Under Victoria’s reign, women are barred from calling themselves physicians, but that hasn’t stopped Alexandra Gladstone. As the first female doctor in Newton-upon-Sea, she spends her days tending sick villagers in the practice she inherited from her father, with her loyal and sometimes overprotective dog, Zack, by her side.

After the corpse of village spiritualist Alvina Elwold is discovered aboveground at a church boneyard, wild rumors circulate through the charming seaside village, including one implicating a certain regal guest lodging nearby. Tales of the dead Alvina hobnobbing with spirits and hexing her enemies are even more outlandish—but as a woman of science and reason, Alexandra has no doubt that a murderer made of flesh and blood is on the loose.

Finding out the truth means sorting through a deluge of ghostly visitors, royal sightings, and shifty suspects. At least her attentive and handsome friend Nicholas Forsyth, Lord Dunsford, has come to her aid. Alexandra will need all the help she can get, because she’s stumbled upon dangerous secrets—while provoking a deadly adversary who wants to keep them buried.


Kindle Price:$2.99

Night by Elie Wiesel: A Book Review


Night (The Night Trilogy, #1)Night by Elie Wiesel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An intimate portrait of what one man experienced in the Holocaust. He didn't add in other bits of history that he didn't experience, so if you are looking for a sweeping summary of all parts of the Holocaust, look elsewhere. I LOVED his extremely small focus. We hear one man's story of horror. We find out the true depths of horror that humanity will put itself through. I felt sick at my stomach in a several places. There are no easy answers and no tidy endings. This is simply what he went through.

In the face of the worst horrors of humanity, what is our response? Too often it is cowardice. We are not alone. Elie discovered the coward within himself. It was honest and gut wrenching. I found myself discovering my own cowardice as well. This is a life changing novel.


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Book Description

 February 7, 2012
A New Translation From The French By Marion Wiesel

Night is Elie Wiesel's masterpiece, a candid, horrific, and deeply poignant autobiographical account of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps. This new translation by Marion Wiesel, Elie's wife and frequent translator, presents this seminal memoir in the language and spirit truest to the author's original intent. And in a substantive new preface, Elie reflects on the enduring importance of Night and his lifelong, passionate dedication to ensuring that the world never forgets man's capacity for inhumanity to man.

Night offers much more than a litany of the daily terrors, everyday perversions, and rampant sadism at Auschwitz and Buchenwald; it also eloquently addresses many of the philosophical as well as personal questions implicit in any serious consideration of what the Holocaust was, what it meant, and what its legacy is and will be.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Hill and Wang; Revised edition (January 16, 2006)
  • Language: English

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 $6.00

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Asylum by Madeline Roux: A Book Review

Asylum (Asylum, #1)Asylum by Madeleine Roux
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

There was potential for lots of greatness in the book. The back story that the characters were discovering was great. However, the characters themselves were unimpressive. Their personal "secrets" were overblown and took away from the story. The pictures were cool but added very little to the novel. There were too many questions left unanswered and the ones that were answered were too quickly answered. The characters didn't discover the answers. The answers just fell in their laps. And some of the answers didn't make sense.

There are two more books and two novellas in this series. Maybe more answers will be given in those. However, I doubt it considering the reviews I have read. And the fact that there are two novellas needed to further explain what is going on makes me very skeptical of the "main" novels.

This is a YA novel, so maybe I shouldn't be so hard on it. Some YA novels hold adult appeal and some don't. This doesn't. In my opinion, Miss Peregrine's is a better YA novel. And Carol Goodman's books are much better for creepy locations full of dark history that is being resolved in the present.

If I was a teen, I think I would have enjoyed this book a whole lot more.


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Amazon information:

Book Description

 August 20, 2013
Madeleine Roux's New York Times bestselling Asylum is a thrilling and creepy photo-illustrated novel that Publishers Weekly called "a strong YA debut that reveals the enduring impact of buried trauma on a place." Featuring found photographs from real asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Asylum is a horror story that treads the line between genius and insanity, perfect for fans of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.
For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, the New Hampshire College Prep program is the chance of a lifetime. Except that when Dan arrives, he finds that the usual summer housing has been closed, forcing students to stay in the crumbling Brookline Dorm—formerly a psychiatric hospital. As Dan and his new friends Abby and Jordan start exploring Brookline's twisty halls and hidden basement, they uncover disturbing secrets about what really went on here . . . secrets that link Dan and his friends to the asylum's dark past. Because Brookline was no ordinary mental hospital, and there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.


Product Details

  • Print Length: 321 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Reprint edition (August 20, 2013)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English

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DISCLAIMER:
I read this book for my own enjoyment. I did not receive any perks from reviewing this novel. I linked to Amazon simply because that was the easiest place to find the information.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Stranger Bridge Strikes Again

I was challenged to write a 1500 word story based on this photo. (I went over that a little.) Enjoy!



He pulled the collar of his coat up. Not to keep out the cold, but to keep out the dark. As a ‘big city kid’, which was his nickname here in Chambliss, ‘suburbanite kid’ would have been better, but they didn't know the difference, he wasn't used to the pervasive unlit darkness. He continued putting one foot in front of another and moving forward until he saw a warm light ahead. He knew it to be the Stranger Bridge. It was one of his favorite thinking spots. The wild stories he had heard could provide an endless amount of inspiration for the play he was writing.

He found it odd that the bridge should be both celebrated and feared. The end of September would bring the Covered Bridge Festival or so he was told. He would eventually arrive at the end of September when his skills as artistic director of the Arrgus County Playhouse would be put to the test on that cold autumn day. He didn't know that yet. He couldn't know that yet. So in the meantime, he would go to the Stranger Bridge with regularity and dream up stories for the names he saw carved into its wooden beams. Some of those stories would end up in his writing. Others would end up crumpled and tossed into the mental wastebin of bad ideas.

Richard Flitner had accepted the position as artistic director of the Arrgus County Playhouse a few months earlier. The phone interview had gone well, the website, and Facebook page looked good, and he was desperate leave teaching. The life of an actor was too unpredictable, so he had gone into teaching for stability. The life of a teacher was overwhelming and exhausting. So he started looking for another job. He waited tables and sold shoes to pay the bills until his job came along. He still couldn’t believe his good luck at landing this position. He wasn’t excited about moving 12 hours away from home to a town that was smaller than the high school he attended, but the chance to have a stable position in a theater was too good to pass up. He would make the sacrifices necessary to make it work. And sacrifice he would.

Winter turned into spring which turned into summer. Late nights of rehearsals and early mornings with the books became his normal routine. A successful season had endeared him to several theater patrons and ensured his continued career at the playhouse. As summer was drawing to a close and the leaves were beginning their autumnal fashion show, the county began to gear up for the Covered Bridge Festival. The Stranger Bridge was always the star but several other bridges around would be featured. He was asked to procure period era costumes foe the tour guides to wear. He also volunteered to help with their voice and diction. There had been many rehearsals and a few meltdowns, but as the last Thursday of September approaches, Chambliss was ready to welcome the tourists. Richard’s welcome would run out and he would sacrifice his beloved career to save the town he would grow to hate.

The first Saturday of the Covered Bridge Festival began clear and sunny. The weather had a hint of chill creating the perfect day for touring the bridges, buying souvenirs, and eating lots of Chambliss delicacies. The crowds were large and the atmosphere festive. Richard was beginning to understand how people could so love this town. He greeted his neighbors as he left his rental house and walked toward the town square. He passed a horse drawn wagon full of tourists. He heard his favorite tour guide, Minny Franklin, explaining the history and architecture of the bridges. The hour long tour had just started and they would soon be coming to the White Creek Bridge. The tour always ended with the star attraction, the Stranger Bridge.

He meandered into town and shopped for various souvenirs to send home to his nieces and nephews. He bought an apple strudel from the Anderson sisters. He bought a fall spice cappuccino from The Coffee House. He chuckled remembering Sandy’s diatribe against pumpkin spice. He found an open bench and began eating. The food was cozy and warm. He enjoyed watching the crowd until he spotted the mayor in the crowd glaring at him. A second later the mayor was gone and Richard assumed he had been seeing things. He attempted to forget the look and finish his breakfast peacefully. He tried to imagine what he could have done to incur that look and couldn’t. He sat there thinking and pondering much longer than he had intended. He realized this when Minny sat down next to him.

“Hey Richie. Why so serious? Today is beautiful. The tourists are plenty and the cash is flowing.”

“I didn’t see you get back from your tour.” He said managing a smile. “I got lost in thought.”

“Well save such serious thoughts for later. We need our fearless director to be happy.”

“I’ll do my best.” He responded patting her on the knee.

“Why Richie, look at you getting fresh with me.” She said falling back into character. “Whatever am I going to do with such an unrepentant cad?”

He laughed and shook his head.

She winked at him. “If you keep this up, I will expect nothing less than an offer of marriage.”

“Well that’s a fine idea Miss Minny.” Richard said joining her character. “I would be proud if your father would allow me to have your hand in marriage.”

She leaned over, broke character, and whispered, “Then I could finally get you in the sack you sexy beast.”

An eruption of laughter from deep in his gut followed. “You always keep me guessing.”

“Yep. I have a tour starting in an hour will you be on it?”

“No other place I would rather be.”
*********************************
“The Stranger Bridge gained its moniker many years ago. In the time of our great-great-great grandparents a stranger came in to town and was welcomed with open arms. This stranger lived among them for many months. He even came to love the prominent daughter in town. On the wedding day, the stranger was caught stealing from the family. He ran from the house and toward the barn. To the surprise of everyone present, the bride was with him on the horse! The happy criminal couple rode towards escape with many townspeople on their heels. As they crossed over the old Arrgus River Bridge, the bag of loot fell from the horse and into Arrgus River. The money and jewels were recovered, the couple was never heard from again, and the town was saved. A new bridge was built to remind them to not trust romancing strangers.” Minny finished the story with a wary glance around to the tourists followed by a laugh. The rest of the tourists chuckled along with her, but Richard couldn’t get her father’s look out of his mind from earlier.

As the tour ended, he made sure to get off the wagon last. He helped Minny down as well. He continued holding her hand as he led her through the crowd and into the back door of the playhouse. “Well Richie, did you take my suggestion from earlier seriously?”

He turned to her with a serious look on his face.

She dropped the flirtatious tone and words. “What’s the matter?”

“The bridge. It’s about a stranger who falls in love with an important girl from town and then gets run out of town.”

“And it’s just a story. Daddy loves you and he loves you with me. We are to be the future of the playhouse and the town. You and I are the perfect couple to ensure his legacy will be intact for future generations.” She repeated leading him towards the office.

“Maybe you’re right.” He said opening the door. They both turned their heads to look to the interior of the room. In that moment they knew that she wasn’t right and that they weren’t okay. They wouldn’t be okay for a very long time.

Her father was taking piles of money from the wall safe. He turned to see them standing in the doorway. “Shut the door and leave.”

“Daddy, what’s going on?”

“This is where the money has been going. Mayor Franklin I’ve been asking you for months about the discrepancies in the books. You’ve told me my math was wrong, but I wasn’t wrong. Was I?”

With a scowl the mayor and theatre owner replied, “No Richard you weren’t wrong. There has been money missing and yes that money has been going in my pocket. My lifestyle isn’t easy to maintain. And neither are you my dear.” He said turning his anger on his daughter. “If you didn’t require quite so many things, then this wouldn’t be happening.”

“What? I ...” Minny voice faltered. She gave him a pained look. “I would have been happy with less.”

“Good. We’ll be one person less. Say goodbye to Richard. His thieving has been discovered and we aren’t going to stand for it.” He said crossing the room to pull his daughter into the room.

She evaded his reach. “I’ll do no such thing. You need to make restitution. Richard has done nothing wrong.”

“It’s just my word against his. Who is everyone going to believe? The man who saved this town from ruin or the stranger who is romancing us out of our money”

Minny looked harshly at her father. She gathered her courage. “And if I speak out against you? What will people think then?”

His eyes narrowed. “That you are a stupid little girl that fell under the spell of a man. You wouldn’t be the first and you won’t be the last.”

A silence fell between them. Richard stepped into the fray. He looked into the eyes of his new enemy. “I take Minny and the rap. You keep your reputation and the town.”

Mayor Franklin’s face morphed into a sneer. “You think she’s worth all that? You keep her.” He turned away from the couple and dismissed them with a wave of his hand.


Minny nearly collapsed. Richard put an arm around her waist and led her away from the scene. He spoke to her in whispers of comfort and promises. Those whispers gave them strength to pack and leave. Those whispers gave them strength to find new careers and a new home. Those whispers carried them through the tough years. And now 10 years 2 children and a new life later, they are happy. Chambliss is unchanged. They still believe the Stranger Bridge is there to remind them to be wary of strangers and keep their loved ones close. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Charisma and Influence

He appeared from between the brick columns startling me. I let out a small squeak. “Oh. I didn’t see you there.”

“I’m sorry to have scared you.” He said in a voice that was trying too hard to pacify me. “I didn’t want to be in the way of the door while I was waiting for you.”

His tone of voice did nothing to pacify me. It was too calm, too assured. I didn’t want him to know that I wasn’t comfortable. I attempted to sound taken in by him. I’m not sure how successful I was because his face remained with its pacifying look. “Oh that makes sense.” I paused and looked in his eyes. The calm look from his face was not in his eyes. His eyes looked hungry. For what I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t sure I wanted to find out either. He remained silently looking at me. Waiting for me to speak again. I didn’t want to speak. I didn’t want to continue our conversation. I looked around me. I saw no one in the parking lot. The street was too far away. The trees surrounding the parking lot ensured that no one in the other buildings could see us. I desperately prayed for someone, anyone to come out the front doors. No one came and the silence stretched on. I had to say something. He was waiting on me to say something. I gave in. I asked the question he had been wanting me to ask. “Why were you waiting on me?”

He smiled. Not a comforting smile of a person enjoying the conversation. This was a smile because he enjoyed the control he had over me. He had always enjoyed controlling people, especially me. “I thought you would never ask.” His tone was light, but there was angry edge to his words. It was waiting just at the tips of his fingers. I had to be careful now. One wrong move and I would be in serious danger. “I just wanted to chat with you. I haven’t seen you in a while. I thought it was time for us to catch up.”

He paused again. He was waiting for me to excuse my silence. Again, I didn’t want to speak. But I could see the anger building in his fingers. He flexed them. He wanted to grab my arm, but he knew now was not the time. I had to give in again. “I’ve been very busy with classes. Lots of research and papers.” I knew the excuse sounded too easy, too convenient. It wasn’t a lie though. He had to know I wasn’t lying. I risked looking into his eyes again. The excuse didn’t work. It wasn’t what he wanted to hear. I had to say something again and quickly. “One of my papers is for psychology. I am trying to discover how persuasion works. Why is one person so good at persuading while others are so bad at it? Why is one person so easily persuaded while others are so difficult?” His fingers stopped flexing. Interest flared in his eyes. He relaxed his shoulders. I had done it. I had turned aside the raging beast at least for the moment.

His steely grip on the conversation melted away. He spoke out of curiosity. He couldn’t predict what I would do next or what I would say next. I could see another emotion creeping into his countenance. It was something I wasn’t used to seeing. I didn’t recognize it at first. It was more than just curiosity. I had seen that before. It was contentment. He was wanted an answer from me because he was curious. He wasn’t demanding an answer to control me. He was waiting for my answer and prepared to converse with me. And he liked it! I was stunned and damn if my heart didn’t do a flip upon seeing this new emotion in him. Sometimes I hate having a heart. It seems to betray me at all the wrong times. I couldn’t deal with that now. I had to capitalize on this curiosity. “I’ve been finding lots of information about the types of persuasion that are given by the charismatic and accepted by the masses. There have been many theories written about the charismatic leaders from various periods of history. I have found as much about Hitler as I have Martin Luther King Jr. That surprised me. I didn’t expect people to see the positives of persuasion. I didn’t really expect it myself.”

“So you have found that a charismatic and persuasive leader can be used for good and for bad?” He asked with a genuine interest in my research. His posture relaxed further as he uncrossed his arms and dropped his hands to his sides.

“Exactly. Now I’m searching for how they decide to use their influence for good or for bad. Looking at the charismatic leaders throughout history, I have found that most have had serious struggles in their lives. Some took those struggles and became good leaders. Some took those struggles and became bad leaders. I don’t understand how some became good and some became bad.” I paused. I was out of words at least words that I knew he would be happy with.


The curiosity and contentment within the conversation was still on his face. I had done well so far. He spoke, “I don’t think the struggle ends when they become leaders. I think the struggle continues. It just looks different. It’s a struggle of personal power and influence or of societal power and influence. Are you looking out for yourself or for the whole of society?” The look on his face was one of deep introspection. He began answering my question, but ended up answering his own question, a question which had been deep inside him for a long time.