Friday, July 6, 2018

Review: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don't think you can really go wrong with King. This is one of his low key horror where everything is understated and the big reveal isn't alien life forms. For that, I am grateful. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is much more The Long Walk or Stand By Me than The Langoliers. I have a 14 year old boy who "hates to read" who will soon be a Stephen King fan just like his mama!

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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Review: The Last Thing She Ever Did

The Last Thing She Ever Did The Last Thing She Ever Did by Gregg Olsen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another Kindle Unlimited book that I would have paid separately for. Despite truly hating nearly every character except the three year old, I did love the book. Like they say, love or hate a character, it simply means they are well written. The Last Thing She Ever Did is a prime example of that.

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Saturday, May 5, 2018

Review: I Am Watching You

I Am Watching You I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Finally, the description "a psychological thriller with unexpected twists" lives up to the hype. So many fall short but I Am Watching You actually delivers. Often the changing perspective/narrator style can be tiresome and Driscoll did it just right. My only gripe is that I wanted more from the 'unsub'. The tiny teases she did give could have been a much larger part and served to wrench up the tension all the way through although I see where she had to be careful not to give the twist away.

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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Review: The Victims' Club

The Victims' Club The Victims' Club by Jeffery Deaver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Short story which in my opinion has just an excuse to give a good back-story - except here. Here, it was just enough for this specific story. My only irritation here is that I missed the point where the twist was alluded do. I knew to pay attention to the list that was given but I missed it. That's not the author's fault, I mean it was RIGHT THERE and I missed it. So. okay, kudos to you, Deaver. Nicely done.

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Review: Stillhouse Lake

Stillhouse Lake Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

OMG, y'all! This is a freaking amazing book! If you're looking for a badass female with some straight-up focus on being who you want to be when you grow up, "Gwen" is your girl. I feel like I'm a bit harsh as a book critic, I am picky about my characters and the plot line but I have no complaints beyond "why is this over?!?!"

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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Review: Interference

Interference Interference by Amélie Antoine
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It got an extra star because it was good until it became maddening. The big reveal? So completely unrealistic! Even fiction needs some quantity of reality. One thing I'll give the author, her characters are written well, assuming they are written to be hated.

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Saturday, April 14, 2018

Review: The Marriage Lie

The Marriage Lie The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this! Watching Iris unravel her husband was as infatuating as it was infuriating. What I didn't like is the ending. But just because I didn't like it doesn't mean it wasn't a good ending, I mean here I am, the day after, still thinking about it. That's a sign of a well written novel.

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Friday, April 6, 2018

Review: Dahmer Detective: The Interrogation and Investigation That Shocked The World

Dahmer Detective: The Interrogation and Investigation That Shocked The World Dahmer Detective: The Interrogation and Investigation That Shocked The World by Patrick Kennedy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this up after watching Kennedy on a Dahmer interview. I became as fascinated with the detective as I have been with Dahmer. His book did not disappoint. Granted this guy was a cop and not a writer so things like every sentence of dialogue starting out with "Hey, Pat..." or "Hey, Jeff..." began to wear raw but even so, the book was so interesting. There are definitely things I found out here that years and years of documentaries didn't tell me. If you're Dahmer Darling, this is worth it.



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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Review: Idi & the Talisman of Talia

Idi & the Talisman of Talia Idi & the Talisman of Talia by T.N. Traynor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

T. N. Traynor is the author of Idi and the Talisman of Talia, the second book in her Born to Be trilogy. The summary states that this leaves off exactly where Book 1, Idi and the Oracle's Quest left off. I went in at a disadvantage having not read the previous book and I felt clouded throughout the read because of that. The cover illustration and characterizations like "Goblin Fart Platoon" in the summary place this firmly in a children's story and obviously in the fantasy genre as well.

Had I read book one and already been immersed in this magical world and been introduced to these characters, I would have really enjoyed this. It is fast paced and fun with a surprising amount of depth to characters and the storyline that I didn't expect. Traynor is a talented writer and I can see this series easily becoming a favorite for kids and adults alike.

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Monday, March 26, 2018

Review: The Waste-Wise Kitchen Companion: Hundreds of Practical Tips for Repairing, Reusing, and Repurposing Food: How to Eat Better, Save Money, and Utilize Leftovers Creatively

The Waste-Wise Kitchen Companion: Hundreds of Practical Tips for Repairing, Reusing, and Repurposing Food: How to Eat Better, Save Money, and Utilize Leftovers Creatively The Waste-Wise Kitchen Companion: Hundreds of Practical Tips for Repairing, Reusing, and Repurposing Food: How to Eat Better, Save Money, and Utilize Leftovers Creatively by Jean B. MacLeod
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Waste-Wise Kitchen Companion: Hundreds of Practical Tips for Repairing, Reusing, and Repurposing Food: How to Eat Better, Save Money, and Utilize Leftovers Creatively. Whew, that was a mouthful! Two colons, that's a serious title that I feel could have ended with The Waste-Wise Kitchen but that's just me.

In a nutshell, this is part cookbook, part self-help, part gardening meets sustainability friendly living. Compiled into an easy to navigate, alphabetically ordered list, The Waste-Wise Kitchen will be handy for everyone from professional chefs to those who have trouble boiling water. A lot of it is common sense but clearly there is a need for reminders when you consider how wasteful our society has become. Here MacLeod gives many tips and kitchen hacks for running your kitchen more efficiently and wisely. It's not hard to come to the conclusion that if you can manage your kitchen in this manner then surely you can make the same strides in other areas of your life. Nice job!

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Review: The Zero Commandment

The Zero Commandment The Zero Commandment by Lawrence J. Epstein
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Zero Commandment is book three in the Charlie Singer and Katie Walker series by author Lawrence J. Epstein. I have not read books one and two but the write ups sound as promising as I found this to be. I love a good detective mystery and I love the 1940s era so this mash-up of the two had me excited from the get go. Solving crimes without the help of super computers and high tech gadgets is a nice change of pace in this genre.

The characters Charlie and Katie were a pleasant surprise to me. I enjoyed the rawness in each of them. I thought Epstein created personalities realistically and in a way that felt sincere. There were times that I loved each character and times when each made me want to scream in frustration. To this reader, that is a sign of well written characters and characters make or break a story. The Zero Commandment gets the #worthit hashtag for certain.

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Review: Afterlife Code

Afterlife Code Afterlife Code by J.M. Erickson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Afterlife Code is a short novella (69 pages) written by J. M. Erickson.The premise is that a brilliant scientist who struggles with autism has created a computer code for a brain implant that helps her lead a more normal life. What can't be portrayed with that simple write up is that this is roughly seventy pages of science fiction, time travel, horror that demands at least one re-read to truly get everything that happens in this story. In fact, I did read it twice and I know without a doubt that I've missed some things and I will be going back to figure it all out. That's the magic of this novella, you want (maybe even need) this to be a full length book and possibly even the beginning of a series. There are so many ways this can go and I find myself yearning for more.

Another aspect of Afterlife Code that I enjoyed was the autism avenue. I have almost no experience with autism except the general stereotypical knowledge, which is to say I know nothing, Jon Snow. It was interesting to have a character so accomplished to put forth the truth that autism isn't a handicap. I hope this kind of thinking is the trend in regards to autism.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Review: Samsara

Samsara Samsara by Lorraine Margaret
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Samsara by Lorraine Margaret is billed as a romance... I don't know what to think about this. I think the word would be brutal. This is too brutal a book to be a romance. Gang rape, revenge killing, and hatred are major themes throughout and it is difficult to build a romance around that. Margaret tried though, and she didn't fully fail. I think if a reader manages to not be triggered by severe sexual abuse descriptions or even simply grossed out by the summary, which includes a reference to the main character developing an obsession with the beauty of Ryan's penis and a reverence for his bodily fluids, the core of the relationship could work. It's not something I would ever try to pull off but kudos to her for attempting it.

Personally, I did not like Ailith. Ryan felt barren to me. I can see though where other readers could love both. I guess I just couldn't get around being put off by the summary, hard as I tried to do. The book is well written, almost no errors, and this author is clearly a talented one.

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Review: The Hanged Man: A Digby Rolf Mystery

The Hanged Man: A Digby Rolf Mystery The Hanged Man: A Digby Rolf Mystery by Raymond M Hall
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Raymond M. Hall is the author of The Hanged Man: A Digby Rolf Mystery, a title which leads me to believe this is one of a series. I am not sure if this is the first or tenth in the series because I can't find the others at all. It doesn't really matter but the search for that information took from my precious reading time.

I assumed the time period was early 1900's simply because of the method of execution being hanging and executions in Great Britain stopped in 1965 but I'm still not certain when this takes place. It bothers me. Also, I assumed Digby would be a police officer or private investigator but alas, he's a chaplain and I find Joe Schmo ameature sleuths unrealistic. Despite those details weighing down my opinion, The Hanged Man is rather good. I bought John's ghost appearing throughout more eagerly than I did the investigative skills of a prison chaplain.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Review: Startoucher

Startoucher Startoucher by C.J. Odle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Startoucher is a novel on science fiction as well as fantasy lists and finds itself on one called... cyberpunk. Is that a designated genre now? I'm going to have to look that one up...

So Jake is a slick L.A. attorney who has no business in the Mojave Desert but that's exactly where he finds himself, drawn by his repressed psychic abilities. From there we find out that Earth and humanity as we know it is a big alien experiment and Judgment Day is coming. Now imagine that scenario as real life. Yeah, we're in trouble, yo! So we're all going to be cosmically adjudicated and that is one heck of a set up for a science fiction book, right? Abso-friggin-lutely!

Startoucher is unique in everything from alien technology to metaphysical origins. Characters are perfect right down to the alien beings. The only thing I found myself disappointed in was the ending. I know every author wants a lead in to another book which leads to a best selling series but perhaps not every story should go there. There is something to be said for stand alones.

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Review: The General Theory of Haunting

The General Theory of Haunting The General Theory of Haunting by Richard Easter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Richard Easter is the author of a book titled The General Theory of Haunting. This is one of three books Easter has written in his Snow Trilogy. Each book is independent of one another and the other two sound just as interesting as this one does. They are all on my To Read list now which, according to my calculations, I should get to in about 55 years.

Haunting is a ghost story for ghost fanatics. It has a great back story setting up the scene for the present day spine tingling. There is also a romantic feel to the story, something I found makes the whole thing more tragic and made for much more intense scares throughout. The creep factor is almost under the radar and I am impressed at how the author built that up. I was a bit surprised at how much I enjoyed this. It is perfect for a stormy evening, if you can handle it.

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Review: Plagued: Book One: The Girl Who Chased The Shadows

Plagued: Book One: The Girl Who Chased The Shadows Plagued: Book One: The Girl Who Chased The Shadows by Garrison Scott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Plagued: Book One: The Girl Who Chased the Shadows is a post-apocalyptic, fantasy novel with a dash of romance, science fiction, adventure, survival, zombies, and wicked humor written by Garrison Scott. It is difficult to really describe the book in too much detail because doing so would almost ruin the surprise as to what the reader actually gets as each aspect is revealed. Trust me, it's worth the suspense to find out on your own as you read.

Characters are always the make it or break it factor for me. In Plagued the characters kind of vary from fully fleshed out entities to thin charactacatures/stereotypical drones. Thankfully, the main as well as important supporting characters are more often the former of the two. The best plot can't override badly written characters. And speaking of plot, as I mentioned before, the variety of different aspects of life that come to play here really makes this book what it is. Were it simply a post-apocalyptic novel, there wouldn't be such a full story as we get with everything else that life has to throw here. Well done!

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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Review: Closer to Paradise

Closer to Paradise Closer to Paradise by H Stinington
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Closer to Paradise is book one in the 3 volume (at present time) Dancing Romance series written by H. Stinington. Daniel and Isabella are twenty and eighteen year old professional dancers who have won many dance competitions together as a couple. Except they're not a couple, though they desperately want to be. After a fateful night stranded in the same hotel room, those feelings become impossible to ignore and they begin to try to find the way they hope exists to both continue pursuing the top tiers of the dancing world and be a couple in love. In a move far wiser than their ages normally permit, they make a decision to keep their feelings inside for the best of their careers but that's not the end of the story, is it?

This romance is definitely for the younger romance reader. Though their decisions, and to some extent even their dialogue, is more often what you might expect of a more mature character. The scenarios weren't over the top or too conveniently circumstantial, supporting characters were well written and the setting in the world of professional dance competitions was interesting.

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Review: Four Beauties and the Judge

Four Beauties and the Judge Four Beauties and the Judge by Haran Choi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Four Beauties and the Judge is billed as a children's story, a label I remain unsure about. Haran Choi has penned a story of four beautiful (and rather narcissistic) young women who find themselves in the Underworld after falling for a trick scripted by Death. Their lives on Earth as servants to various Emperors in China are judged by a monkey judge named Hu to decide who among them would ascend to the Sky Lounge. What follows is a bizarre beauty pageant with a 'tribal council' feel to the outcome.

The moral of the story is inner beauty is more important than outer but the path to that is a troubled one. There was so much that went unexplained and I felt like if things shouldn't be named if not explained to some extent. There were many places in the book where quotation marks were backwards and oddly placed, missing spaces between words and large spaces between others. Perhaps that was due to formatting rather than author mistake but it irritated me either way.

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Review: On the lighter side of forever

On the lighter side of forever On the lighter side of forever by Everett Lavell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

On the Lighter Side of Forever is a conversational/monologue style self help book with both feet planted firmly in the humor genre. At only twenty-eight pages, it is a short read which I appreciate in books like this. Brevity helps grip a precise focus and here, I found it seemed to keep the tone light even when the topic could have easily gone darker. Speaking of topics, the range here is wide. From parenting to death, happiness to religion, free will to lying, it's all in there somewhere. And it's arranged in just about that order, which is to say no order. One idea leads into another and another and sometimes it felt like some topics were forgotten and left unfinished as the author took on a new brawl with an aspect of life. This is funny but not happy, in my opinion. The language is sarcastic and I usually love that but here it was such biting sarcasm, it came off as angry and jaded.

Best thing about this book? The dedication: “Dedicated to the most magnificent and entertaining person I have ever gotten the pleasure to know. This person, through all life’s trials and tribulations and all its rises and falls, has proven to be nothing less than God’s best work. So it gives me great pleasure to dedicate this book to myself.”

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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Review: Miguel Traveler #1: The Man from Texas

Miguel Traveler #1: The Man from Texas Miguel Traveler #1: The Man from Texas by Daniel McFatter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Miguel Traveler #1, Man from Texas is a post-apocalyptic novel that feels like an old western. Daniel McFatter writes in a unique style that I didn't expect in a book of this genre, though I enjoyed it a lot. In this case, for me, it truly was the way the author wrote his characters and they way he made them speak. Their cadence and mannerisms contrasted so greatly with what I have come to expect from this type of book and it worked like a charm. I found myself quickly engrossed in each character and heavily invested in their futures. Though the circumstances surrounding the events of the plot were interesting and important, none of it would have mattered with lesser characters. McFatter is a "writer" over an "author" in that sense.

Miguel Traveler, Man from Texas is Longmire meets The Walking Dead meets Lonesome Dove meets It. There is no one word description to be delivered here.

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Review: Taerak's Void

Taerak's Void Taerak's Void by M.R. Mathias
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Taerak's Void is the first in a four (possibly up to five) book series called Fantastica written by M.R. Mathias. I started out with book 2, Sapphire of Souls, so going back was warmly welcomed. The world in this fantasy series is rich in mythology, characters, and creatures. I am in awe at what elaborate and unique things have come out of the mind of Mathias.

Fans of fantasy and science fiction, dragons and trolls, and everything in between will be captivated by Taerak's Void. This is full of adventure as the reader follows Braxton through the unbelievable things he must experience here. The word I keep coming back to is sweeping. Everything about the plot, setting, and characters is broad yet defined perfectly. All of the information you need to feel fully immersed is given without the bad aftertaste of info-dump. Mathias is a very talented fantasy author and Taerak's Void is just the right set-up for Sapphire of Souls, which is book two.

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Review: The Last Train

The Last Train The Last Train by Michael Pronko
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Author Michael Pronko brings us The Last Train, a murder mystery where the mystery is not who the murderer is. Set in Tokyo, there is an exotic aura to the story that I thought enhanced everything from plot to characters. I can admit to being completely ignorant of Japanese culture and day to day, it doesn't hold any interest to me. Which is why I was surprised that I enjoyed that aspect of this book as much as I did.

The cliches in The Last Train are plenty but none more-so than brooding, lonely detective, Hiroshi Shimizu. I must say, cliche or not, you gotta love the guy. I did, anyway. All of the characters were fascinating in one way or another, including minor ones. The plot is fast paced but not rushed which is a difficult balance to achieve. I would have no problem recommending this novel to my mystery loving bookies, especially those who gravitate toward police procedurals.

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Review: Unfrozen

Unfrozen Unfrozen by Regine Abel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Coming into a series at book nine usually creates some serious confusion but in Unfrozen, that is not a problem for the reader. In this series, Valos of Sonhadra, each book has a different author so the variance in each one must be wide. I think that's an interesting way to do a series.

The opening scene in Unfrozen is a great hook. My worst fear is physical torture and the depiction of the fear Lydia experiences while she waits for her turn is gut wrenching. It's not easy to write that kind of thing but Regine Abel has a knack for it. Beyond creating that atmosphere of fear, the author also manages to give you some good background without you realizing that you're being told the information.

I'll be honest and say I was disappointed when the setting was changed from the prison. That place was a horrible but fascinating place that I would like to read more about. Aside from personal preferences like that, the book was a great addition to the fantasy genre.

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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Review: A Secret Muse

A Secret Muse A Secret Muse by Mandy Jackson-Beverly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Mandy Jackson-Beverly is the author of A Secret Muse. It is 300 pages of urban fantasy including vampires and ancient societies and how the woman at the center of it all navigates her reality.

We can be honest and say that vampire stories are a dime a dozen and there are rarely any surprises anymore. In A Secret Muse though, the surprise comes from the bad guys! Finally a plot where those who are evil have an actual reason for being that way and not simply thrust into the role by necessity. If you're going to go paranormal, this is the way to go. I enjoyed the action and the back-story helped to solidify everything nicely. The cliff-hanger, though, I could do without. It is possible to create a series without those kind of cliche pseudo-endings.

Something that really irked me was the many errors here that were so evident. Proofreaders are to authors what diamonds are to girls, if you get my drift.

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Review: Bible Giants of Faith: Bible Study Guides

Bible Giants of Faith: Bible Study Guides Bible Giants of Faith: Bible Study Guides by James Taiwo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Bible Giants of Faith: Bible Study Guides (My Bible Stories Book 1) by James Taiwo is probably a great book for outwardly religious people or those interested in the Christian faith and the teachings of the bible. I do not happen to fall into one of those categories so I had to look at this book from a different angle. I, of course, know many of the stories in the Bible and I know the basics of Christianity
so I didn't go in totally blind. Bible Giants of Faith really just retells the stories of 10 ordinary people God used to spread his teachings, so to speak; Abraham, Moses, Joseph, Ruth, Samuel, David, Elijah, Daniel, Esther, and Peter. I think all examples of people living the best they can and doing the best they can are inspirational and those told in the Bible are no different. This was well written with few errors and for being a clearly religious book, the author managed to avoid that condescending preachiness that is so often found in the genre.

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Review: Rebecca Steele: Chasing a Dream: A Look Behind the Scenes at the United States Silver Eagles

Rebecca Steele: Chasing a Dream: A Look Behind the Scenes at the United States Silver Eagles Rebecca Steele: Chasing a Dream: A Look Behind the Scenes at the United States Silver Eagles by Joanne Patterson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Rebecca Steele: Chasing a Dream: A Look Behind the Scenes at the United States Silver Eagles. What is up with the length of this title? Doesn't matter, because the book is pretty good, I just have to wonder if someone ever thought to suggested an alternate title here.

A novel is made by the characters for me so I shall start there. Becky, our heroine, was just the tiniest bit prudish for my taste. She had some interesting quirks and seemed to possess a brain so the level to which she fell into blind, naive love was a contradiction I didn't completely buy. The Silver Eagle love triangle is rounded out by Johnny and Mike. Now I don't want to spoil anything for anyone but they are the ultimate examples of textbook good guy and bad boy. I found it clear from the start who should have gotten the girl and being that this a 'wholesome' romance, of course it would work out this way. Fringe characters here were just background scenery and lacked any real depth. Even so, they were a part of a decent romance novel.

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Review: The MECE Muse: 100+ Selected Practices, Unwritten Rules, and Habits of Great Consultants

The MECE Muse: 100+ Selected Practices, Unwritten Rules, and Habits of Great Consultants The MECE Muse: 100+ Selected Practices, Unwritten Rules, and Habits of Great Consultants by Christie Lindor
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Christie Lindor has written MECE Muse: 100+Selected Practices, Unwritten Rules, and Habits of Great Consultants. This is clearly for 'consultants' but after reading through it, this book lays out some great rules for just getting along with people, connecting, and being present in relationships. I will admit to going in with a sense that this was just another book detailing how to fool people into thinking you care in order to get as much money as possible from them; brown nosing, sucking up... whatever you want to label it as. And it is, kind of. I mean the very first thing you read is about how a client gets irate and throws things at a consultant and the author paints it like the tantrum throwing executive was a victim of shoddy preparations by the consultant. That crap doesn't fly with kids in my house and it has no place in the professional world, period. However, if you keep reading, this also has a real genuinity to it. The advice is precise and logical. Everyone from PTA moms to CEOs can get something from MECE Muse.

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Review: As Long As There Is Chocolate

As Long As There Is Chocolate As Long As There Is Chocolate by Tana Lovett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When the opening chapter is titled Falling For Fabio, you're reading a rom-com. As Long As There Is Chocolate, by author Tana Lovett, is the story of bakery owner, Kate, and her cute crush on the deli owner across the street, Giovanni. As Long As There Is Chocolate is exactly what you think it is and does it perfectly. When you're in the mood for a light hearted but smart, snowy afternoon read, Tana Lovett is the gal to look to.

The plot is party romance, a good bit of comedy, some supernatural elements, with a historical feel to it. Set in the small, inviting Colorado town of Castle Springs, this story is full of lovable characters the reader can't help but to feel a connection to. Gio was by far my favorite character. His family, close second. Kate's great but Gio... Whew!

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Review: Chasing Mercury

Chasing Mercury Chasing Mercury by September Williams
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

September Williams brings us Chasing Mercury, the first in The Chasing Mercury Toxic Trilogy. The write up speaks of Swiss bank accounts, the Cold War, and love in the time of mercury poisoning. I was intrigued from the start.

The main characters, Sicily and Forest are young, idealistic dancers from radically different backgrounds. Their developing romance intertwined with world events, cultural differences, and all of the things that could possibly complicate even the most solid relationship makes Chasing Mercury the novel that it is. Beyond romance, readers will be catapulted head long into this world of suspense through international settings and a fast paced plot that really never lets up.

I think that the underlying themes in this book should be highlighted because that is what would really push me to suggest this book to a friend. Romance is all good but environmental issues, social injustice, corruption, and activism are the real pull and the star of Chasing Mercury, in my opinion.

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