Dustoff 7-3 by Erik SabistonTitle: Dustoff 7-3

Author: Erik Sabiston

Genre: Military Biography

Copyright: 2015

Publisher: Warriors Publishing Group

Pages: 234

ISBN: 978-0989798365

I received a copy of Dustoff 7-3 in exchange for an honest review.

A wounded soldier in Afghanistan had a 92 percent chance of survival – and that was due to us. – Erik Sabiston

When I was twenty-seven, I audited a military history course. At the time, I was convinced I wanted to study, then teach, military history. The course disenchanted me, not with history, but with man’s unquenchable thirst for violence. Continue reading “Book Review: Dustoff 7-3: Saving Lives under Fire in Afghanistan by Erik Sabiston”

The Sweetness by Sande Boritz BergerTitle:  The Sweetness 

Author:  Sande Boritz Berger 

Genre: Literary Fiction

Copyright: 2014

Publisher: She Writes Press

Pages: 301

ISBN: 978-1631529078

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

In the debut novel, The Sweetness, author Sande Boritz Berger illustrates how the world can go to shambles yet hope remain strong. Two parallel story lines evolve in the novel. Roshe Kaninsky stars in one and Mira Kane, Roshe’s American cousin, owns the other. The time period is World War II. And while Roshe hides from the Nazis in the basement of a courageous family for the duration of the war, across the Atlantic, her cousin Mira, who lives in wealthy comfort, carps about having to quit design school and work for her family’s company. Berger contrasts the two lives forcing an examination of the influence of luck and hope in life. Continue reading “How to Find Sweetness in Lemons: Book Review of The Sweetness by Sande Boritz Berger”

Whisky Tango Foxtrot David Shafer

Title:  Whisky Tango Foxtrot 

Author:  David Shafer 

Genre: Genre Fiction, Smashups/Satire

Copyright: 2014

Publisher: Muholland Books

Pages: 432

ISBN-13: 978-0316252638

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

I’d like to pull up a chair in David Shafer’s brain and sift through his thoughts that led to the creation of Whisky Tango Foxtrot. The tale rattles the brain out of apathy, prying the eyes open to stare at the on-coming headlights of future societal organization. It’s the type of story that will have you agreeing that signing up for a Prepper’s Camp is a good idea. If coupled with Alena Graedon’s Word Exchange, there’s a chance you’ll go off the grid entirely.

Whisky Tango Foxtrot deals out modern day issues like a poker player on a winning streak: Is the nation-state dead? Will corporations reorganize societies into fiefdoms? Will giving away our personal data on Facebook be the ruin of our economic futures? Are we being monitored by governments and corporations to support dictatorial schemes? Continue reading “Book Review: Whisky Tango Foxtrot by David Shafer”

Sullivan_HideawayCove_MM

Title: Hideaway Cove

Author: Anna Sullivan

Genre: Fiction, Romance

Copyright: 2014

Publisher: Forever

Pages: 416

ISBN-13: 978-1455525409

 

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

Some say love makes the world go round, but I put my money on trust. With trust, love is guaranteed; in its absence, though, are wars, loneliness, and heartbreak. Countless novels pivot their pages around trust as does the novel Hideaway Cove by Anna Sullivan.

Hideaway Cove regales the reader with the story about a mystery being researched on Windfall Island. Private investigator Dexter Keegan and genealogy expert Holden Abbot have been hired by the Stanhope family to discover the missing heir to the Stanhope fortune, an heir who is thought to reside on the island. Not all of the Stanhopes are thrilled about splitting their considerable inheritance and at least one is willing to eliminate the competition. After a failed murder attempt, few folks can be trusted with the investigation’s discoveries. Maggie Solomon and Jessi Randal, owners of the island’s charter airline, are two of those trusted. Maggie’s trusted because she’s engaged to Dexter and Jessi because she’s Maggie’s best friend and business partner. Continue reading “Book Review: Hideaway Cove by Anna Sullivan”

Take One With You Book CoverTitle:  Take One With You 

Author:  Oak Anderson 

Genre: Fiction
Copyright: 2014
Publisher: Oak Anderson
Page Length: 217
ASIN: B00I63XX9I

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

Suicide and emotional pain feature prominently in the debut novel Take One With You by Oak Anderson. In Take One With You, the main character Charlie partners with Sarah, a friend he meets online, to create a website geared toward eliminating degenerates from society. The towy.la site urges the terminally ill and suicidal to kill one of the miscreants posted on the site before the ill or suicidal person dies.

Continue reading “Book Review: Take One With You by Oak Anderson”

Debut novelist Angela Stevens‘ debut novel Lemon Drops and Love is a love story for hockey fans. The story takes place in the author’s home town where she discovered her passion for ice hockey. Stevens is now a rabid Washington Capitals fan and can often be found ‘rocking the red’ at the Verizon center supporting her beloved team. She shares with us how jumping over oceans led to finding her writing voice.

Author Angela Stevens

Author Angela Stevens

I grew up and lived in the UK until I was nearly forty. In all that time, I never put pen to paper. In fact, the only things I ever wrote, were report cards. The concept that I might ever write a story was a very distant dream. I always hoped I would but at the time, I didn’t even have the courage to play around privately with story ideas.

When I left the UK and went first to live in Singapore and then — a year later — to the USA, I gave up work and took up reading with a vengeance. This turned into an obsession that eventually led to me writing my first book.

Living in the States, is the reason I started writing in the first place. It’s where I found the courage to try my hand at it. The ethos in America is very different to that in Britain. Here people are more likely to chase a dream and I think some of that rubbed off on me.

Back in the UK, I was a full time teacher with two small children. I didn’t have five minutes to rub together. But here I found myself unable to teach and the kids grew up. This left me with rather a lot of time on my hands. Time that I soon filled with writing.

When I wrote my first book, I knew I had to make a conscious decision about what language I was going to write in. America and the UK might theoretically speak the same one but there is a lot of difference in the grammar rules, spelling, vocabulary, and phrasing. I decided to stick to the American conventions initially. I’m ashamed to say, because my word processor was already set up to check American grammar and spelling and I didn’t know how to change it.

In my naivety, I actually thought it was just that simple, I’d spell color without the u and no one would notice I wasn’t really American. But it turned out to be far more complicated than I ever imagined. It wasn’t until I began to share my work on a writing site called wattpad, that it became obvious I was not fooling anybody. It seemed although my characters and settings were based in the USA, I wrote with a strong British accent.

I have managed to control the rampant Britishisms to a large degree, but I still depend a lot on the advice of my mentor, editor, and American online friends that I share my stories with. They are great at pointing out when my Union Jack is showing. It is something I have to be very conscious of and I find I have to make use of the search, find and replace features of my word processor for some of my more ingrained bad habits. Writing Grey instead of gray, calling people mate, and having my characters ‘fancy’ each other are some things that persistently sneak in when I am not looking.

In Lemon Drops And Love the story is one that could have been told anywhere. Domestic abuse is prevalent the world over. But when I started it I was determined to thread some of the hockey world through the story. This becomes a more important theme in the other books in the series. In the UK, we don’t really have ice hockey. My passion for this sport started when I moved here. My son played and I became very involved at our local rink and as a family we enjoy watching the Washington Capitals play as often as we can.

The ice rink and town setting in the book, are based on the town where I now live and the ice rink my son used to play at. I found it so much easier to visualize the real places and could pull snippets from things I observed at the rink.

My YA Urban Fantasy book The Wolf You Feed, also draws from my travels around the states. Most of the settings within the book I have been to. This proved useful when I came to make my promotion video, as I found my holiday snaps came in very handy!

The Wolf You Feed is book 1 of The Vargr Trilogy and will be released in late Autumn, you can view the video on my website.

Although I have set all my stories in America and adhered to the American version of English, I wouldn’t say that I specifically write with an American audience in mind. Like myself, my stories are hybrids. I try to make the settings accurate and the accents realistic but that said, the themes are not geared to one side of the Atlantic or the other.

About Lemon Drops and Love: 

Lemon Drops and Love Book CoverFor years, Jude loved Maya from afar. When she falls into his arms at his sister’s wedding, Jude decides he’s waited long enough. But it’s complicated. Maya’s no longer the carefree, self-assured woman he once knew. Frightened, vulnerable, her confidence crushed, Maya is unable to see a way out of an abusive relationship. But Jude Holland is not going to stand back and watch this happen. After rescuing her from Carl’s clutches, he plans to stay and pick up the pieces.

But getting rid of Carl is harder than anyone imagined. Carl’s sociopathic tendencies know no boundaries. Determined to take back what is his, hatred consumes him. With all rationality gone, Carl is prepared to go to monstrous lengths to destroy what he once loved. Driven by envy and hate, he sets out to destroy Maya. If he can’t have her, then he is damn sure no one else will have her either.

Listen to the audio of the first chapter here.

Learn more about Lemon Drops and Love at Amazon.com

You're Not Use to Anyone by David Shapiro

 

Title: You’re Not Much Use to Anyone
Author: David Shapiro
Genre: Fiction
Copyright: 2014
Publisher: New Harvest
Pages: 224
ISBN-13: 978-0544262300

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

I’m torn between describing David Shapiro’s debut novel, You’re Not Much Use to Anyone, as the oft told tale of directionless affluent kids living off their parent’s money while trying to orient themselves or the confessions of a self-aware awkward new adult.

David, the protagonist, comes off as the less manic version of Hannah from Lena Dunham’s Girls. His tone borders on detached when discussing his girlfriends or the direction he wants his life to go (law school), but about the time I wonder if he’s on a spectrum, he’ll drop a poignant and redemptive morsel such as

“I remind myself that coolness is just a characteristic people ascribe to people who they only observe from afar, and that nobody is actually cool once you get to know them, and especially not people who are really concerned about how they’re dressed, but knowing that something is true and acting on it are different obviously.”

His detached nature changes when discussing a music review site called Pitchfork Reviews. A site David loathes, his disgust the closest to passion and excitement he’ll have the entire story. In response to another diatribe about the site, his girlfriend suggests he start a blog discussing the reviews on Pitchfork Reviews. He does, called Pitchfork Reviews Reviews.

The blog is part of the semi-autobiographical piece of You’re Not Much Use to Anyone. The author Shapiro began Pitchfork Reviews Reviews in 2010, a blog dedicated to giving a counter-voice to the reviews of indie music on Pitchfork. How much of the rest of the story is true versus fiction is known to David and his friends. In several interviews I’ve read, the author says he’s honest whereas David in the book has no qualms about mythologizing his career to people he meets.

The book reads more like a well-written diary versus a work of fiction, absent are character transformations or plot, in their place are David washing his face and being disappointed with his life. The most interesting details followed the progress of David’s blog from a few hundred followers to thousands and the writer’s block that finishes off his posts. David’s journey with his blog emphasized that success isn’t luck, it’s hard work, and David worked hard, posting multiple times a day, that’s a lot of writing and all executed on a mobile phone.

I recommend the book for freshly minted college grads, those idealized souls deposited from their campus quads into the difficult world of finding a job, hoping it’s a passion, but confronting the reality that rent is due and food costs more than one ever imagined, and folding shirts at the Gap might just have to do for now.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Title: A Man Called Ove
Author: Fredrik Backman
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 352
ISBN-13: 978-1476738017

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

I recently heard that a high school friend grew up with a mom who criticized practically everything she did and still does. We hung out often, shared the same BFF, and snuck into the same concerts at the Mad Monk. My impression of her was that her confidence overflowed and her home life was very Leave it to Beaver. Despite the abundance of disclosures teen women share, this one confession about my friend’s mom evaded our circle of friends.

 

People rarely show their whole selves. What the viewing public gets are pieces of a person and like the puzzle you bought at the thrift store, several pieces are never seen. Unfairly and naturally, assumptions are made about a person based on the bits shown because, let’s be honest, assuming is often easier than learning the truth. Continue reading “Book Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman”

The Awakening of Miss Prim book cover
Fiction Reviews

Title: The Awakening of Miss Prim
Author: Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera
Genre: Literary Fiction
Copyright: 2014
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 272
ISBN-13: 978-1476734248

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

“Love that moves the sun and the other stars.” ― Dante AlighieriParadiso

A timeless love story mimics nature – aspiring flowers, winding rivers, composting pasts.  Debut novelist Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera captures the essence of plein air in The Awakening of Miss Prim. In the story, enlightenment and love are a vine that slowly curls around Miss Prim’s life. Miss Prudencia Prim possesses many academic degrees, but has yet to use any of them when she applies for the position of librarian for an eccentric gentleman in San Ireneo de Arnois.

San Ireneo offers the backstory and amplifies the philosophies of Miss Prim’s employer. The village is rural and tucked away from the clamor of modernity. Her employer, who she names “the Man in the Wingchair” for where she first met him, established San Ireneo in admiration of the “splendor of an ancient culture” and the “purity of old customs” minus any antediluvian inequalities between the sexes. The like-minded villagers hold fast to their principles of devotion to reading and study, participation in the education of the citizen’s children, and respect for each other’s contribution to the community. Life in San Ireneo is harmonious and a touch magical. Mystifying the paradise is a monk with an oracle’s touch who is the Man in the Wingchair’s spiritual guide.

Miss Prim arrives in the principled town with well-examined opinions about human interactions and development. Her naming of her employer exemplifies her desire to have everything named, organized, and most importantly proved. Yet, she came to San Ireneo to escape an unrest she attributes to modern life. The unrest becomes a central discussion between Miss Prim and the Man in the Wingchair. Branching from the unrest debate are deliberations of their distinct views on education, beauty, religion, marriage, and friendship. As often as the conversations tend toward flirtatious banter, they also lead to the characters frustration with each other. Miss Prim clutches her beliefs tightly. She refuses to allow her budding attraction to the Man in the Wingchair to influence her beliefs. Instead she begins a quest on her own to further validate her  dogma and in her independence she defines her own sense of beauty and spirit, her awakening.

Educational philosophy ripples through the tale. Miss Prim’s education, formed by modern instructional principles, confronts the unconventional education of San Ireneo’s children. For instance, the town’s primary school teacher was selected for her mediocrity not her intellect because “many families in San Ireneo invested all their time and expertise – in some cases, very finely specialized – in personally seeing to their children’s education and giving classes to the children of others as well, an activity that provided great social prestige.” The Man in the Wingchair and the other villagers believe modern education fails to teach children to think and has “discarded the beauty of art and literature.”  Author Fenollera touches on issues many parents battle today in regards to the lowest-common-denominator education being offered. Yet, as San Ireneo tilts toward a utopia, is the education proffered in The Awakening of Miss Prim realistic in today’s society?

The question of education is one of many raised in the story making The Awakening of Miss Prim an ideal book club read. Logos versus divinity, Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice compared to the Man in the Wingchair, homeschooling matched against public school are a few of the debates pulsing through the text. Not to mention two I’m still asking, is Miss Prim’s wakening spiritual or secular and are any houses for sale in San Ireneo?

 

The Revealed by Jessica HickmanTitle: The Revealed
Author: Jessica Hickman
Genre: Young Adult
Copyright: 2014
Publisher: SparkPress
Pages: 314
ISBN-13: 978-1940716008

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

Lily Atwood is rich, beautiful, and 18. She’s also confined to her parent’s home on the outskirts of post-apocalyptic Washington, DC for 365 days. A voluntary house arrest that her parents hope will keep her from becoming one of the Taken 18, a group that represents the hundreds of 18-year-olds who have been kidnapped by the Revealed and who have never been seen again. When the story opens, Lily’s endured her imprisonment over a hundred days. She’s itching to live, to explore, to shake off her security detail.

Lily should consider herself lucky. Unlike her, most 18-year-olds must risk being snatched while going to work. The nuclear war that left vast parts of the country uninhabitable also destroyed people’s homes, wealth, and families. If you’re an able-bodied 18-year-old, you’re working. The Atwoods are the anomaly. Lily’s dad, Mark Atwood, is running for president of the newly formed government. They have money, a security staff, and confidence that these measures will keep Lily from being abducted by the Revealed.

But the Revealed are not Lily’s only threat.  As other dangers emerge, the theme of Jessica Hickman’s debut novel The Revealed arises – question assumptions. The disillusionment of Lily’s trusted beliefs begins a flood of introspection of the conventions she’s been spoon fed. Numerous pages dedicate space to Lily’s exploration of her emotions about everything that has happened to her. The imbalance between thoughts and actions slows the pace and at times creates a sense of being trapped in a dank locker room listening to an angsty teenager for hours. Mercifully, Hickman intersperses fast-paced action scenes between Lily’s navel-gazing, allowing the story to surge forward with one surprising twist and several character-revealing passages.

The near-future world in The Revealed harbors a few distracting inconsistencies. The concentration of the remaining population in the Eastern United States, where the land was unscarred by bombs, and the continuing need to rebuild and reseed, as similarly seen after World War II, are convincing. Yet, the idea that society has been set back a hundred years doesn’t fit with the use of computer and mobile phones. If factories have only anachronistic methods, then how are computers and mobile phones readily available to the rich. Someone has to be able to produce these goods and to provide the communication networks for the devices to function. Another incongruous glitch is the improbability of Lily’s romantic relationship.  The amount of time Lily spends with her amour seems too limited to allow for the depth of emotions she expresses.  Perhaps in a sequel Hickman will solve these mysteries…