July 12, 2014

Life Has Changed

Life has changed immensely for me in the last 6 months.  It has been all good, but it has cut into my reading (and reviewing) time more than I thought it would.  A girl can only do so much.

I am so grateful that I took the time and opportunity to start and write this blog.  Indie authors will always have a special place on my bookshelf and in my heart.  I think this blog made me a better reader and definitely a better writer.  Those pursuits will still live on, but in an entirely new fashion.

My husband and I just closed a real estate transaction on 10 acres of raw, untamed land.  We will be devoting our time and energy into building our dream farm along with our growing honeybee business.  Then, I couple that with a full-time job and life is gonna get a little crazy around here.

I will keep this space for a few more weeks, but this will be my last post.  

If you are so inclined, I have started a new blog that will outline our adventure:  Both Feet In  I would LOVE to see and chat with you all there!

Your Friend,

December 16, 2013

Something Different

I wanted to try something different.  Something that peels a layer of the onion back to give ya'll a little idea of who is reviewing these books I hope you all are reading.  And I promised you something warm and fuzzy - well, this has warmth and fuzzy aspects.  I've realized lately that I haven't revealed a lot about myself to you.  I wasn't entirely sure if that's even appropriate, but I'm in the middle of a couple of books right now and don't have anything to review.

I'd like to introduce you to a blog that I really love.  The owner of this blog is a lady named Leigh. I don't know Leigh, but her dream is my dream - although hers is actually happening and mine has yet to happen.  
Dreams are important.  I believe they shape who we are and what we can become.  I like to believe that dreaming is healthy, and when you have that opportunity to make your dreams come true, well, that's even better!!

Leigh has a blog called 5 Acres & A Dream.  By checking out her blog, you can get an idea of the daydreams that float through my head almost daily.  I've mentioned on her blog that my husband and I are on the precipice of buying our little chunk of land.  We both hope to start making our dream come true very soon. 

Leigh has written a book that is on my Christmas list.  It's an unusual and different book - I would use it for a reference and guide.   If getting closer to the land and back to a more natural way of life, it might be something you would want to check out also.  

In the meantime, check out 5 Acres & A Dream - The Blog.  

5 Acres & A Dream

December 2, 2013

Lucky Girl: How I Survived the Sex Industry

Title:  Lucky Girl: How I Survived the Sex Industry
Author:  Violet Ivy
Publisher:  Booklocker
Medium:  Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:
The intimate autobiography of an international callgirl. Scary, funny and bizarre stories recorded for your amusement, edification or simply interesting dinner conversation. The sex industry is clouded in mystery. It has to be to some extent or it wouldn't survive. But in this age of Internet porn, buying used panties online and wife swapping, it's about time the mist cleared.

I don't normally read or review memoirs, but Lucky Girl:  How I Survived the Sex Industry arrived in my in-box at a time when I had just given my blog review policy a make-over.  The many authors that were vying for my review time were still calling me Sir in emails and in general not giving my blog the attention to detail that I'm certain they expect out of lowly book review bloggers.  While not in the same vein, I could relate to Violet Ivy in a twisted, squint your eyes kind of way - someone giving me a book for a review in return.  It doesn't matter if I don't like fairy's,  you have to review my book because my Grandmother had 3 legs and lived in mansion by the sea.  The difference is, I'm not compensated for my reviews in any way, so I can easily hit the delete button.  Unlike Ivy, which you'll learn more about in a minute.

First of all, dear reader, if you are in any way, shape or form, even in the slightest way freaked out about explicit sexual content in a book, then I have to say that Lucky Girl is not for you.  This is far from your Mom's bodice ripper that you used to sneak a peek at.  I promise that my next review will be something sweet and sparkly.

Lucky Girl is actually a resume of sorts, curriculum vitae, if you will of Violet Ivy's work history, and it's the most detailed resume I've ever seen!  If I were ever in need to hire someone with her skill set, she would definitely be one of my top choices to interview.  It tells about her working her way up in the sex industry and how she literally comes out on top.  It's the ups and downs and ins and out (yeah, yeah, I get the puns) of what it takes to become a high end call girl.  It wasn't easy, and while from a first read kind of perspective, it seems almost surreal and contrived.

Who am I to judge?  Who are you?

If I were ever to imagine what it would be like to have that type of profession, well, I guess I would want it to be like Violet's.  Everything seemed to fall into place for her.  Sure there were bad parts, but come on, let's be real.  I know I work a boring job in an office where the most exciting part of my day is watching my co-worker eat 5 bagels in one sitting and still stay skinny (probably from running to the bathroom).  I digress.  My bad days pale in comparison to Violet's.  They are often dangerous, and some downright weird.  Her career, while not one most people choose, has probably put her at the top of the game if Forbes had a list for such professional women such as herself.

Lucky Girl had a great writing style, the book flowed well, and for my Kindle, the formatting was excellent.  It was a quick read, but not one that I skimmed.  I think that if I had to pick one negative for the book, it would be that I would have like to see a little more of the bad side.  I know, I know, author's need to make it look happy most of the time, but is it really that happy?  I guess that's the I want all the details about the details part of me.

I'm glad I moved (way) out of my comfort zone and gave Lucky Girl a try.  Although I would never give Lucky Girl a try...

October 28, 2013

Christmas Carol

Title:  Christmas Carol
Author:  Michele Gorman
Publisher:  Notting Hill Press
Medium:  Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:
Carol hates Christmas. Being recently dumped, she’s not crazy about weddings either. So her sister Marley’s nuptials, over the Christmas weekend, are making her positively Scrooge-like. When she arrives at the stately home in rural Scotland to find her three ex-boyfriends in attendance, Carol has no choice but to face her ghosts to discover what really happened in those relationships, learning a lot about herself in the process. As the snow falls outside and the fire crackles in the hearth, might one of the wedding guests become the harbinger of Christmases to come?

It seems like every time I bring up my (personal) Facebook page there is some smarty pants with a giggle and snort who posts how many days until Christmas it is.  This usually starts about, say, July.  I get it.  It's cute and funny.  For about a week.  I'm one of those people who like to enjoy their holidays one at a time, and am okay with that.  I start thinking about holiday gifts in the Spring, but almost always forget by the following week.  I'm okay with that too.  I'm breaking with tradition and letting you all know now that Christmas is coming, and this novella is the perfect way to ease into the holiday season.

Last year I had the opportunity to review one of Michele Gorman's books.  I didn't realize until about 5 minutes ago how popular she is in the UK.  I'm totally flattered and humbled that her publisher reached out to me (me!!!) to read and review her newest novella Christmas Carol.  

I read the book over two evenings, but could have easily gotten through it if I had a couple of hours to lounge by the pool without any disturbances.  Reading time is in short supply these days, and a novella was exactly what I needed to get back into that groove.

I love Gorman's humor and wit.  As a reader, I appreciate how she can pack so much detail into a mere novella.  There was never a dull moment, there were many unique characters, there was a bit of snark, there was the up and the down and the up, and there was a a waterfowl that served up vodka.  Add in a healthy dose of Dickensesque and you have a very smart chick lit novella!  And yes, I said waterfowl and vodka in the same sentence.

All decked out in a beautifully wrapped package with a bow!

If you are short on time, need something to read, and love a heartwarming holiday read any time of year, then I think you will love Christmas Carol as much as I did.  

September 22, 2013

One Big Beautiful Thing

Title:  One Big Beautiful Thing
Author:  Marie Flanigan
Publisher:  Amazon Digital Services
Medium:  Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:
Artist Kate Abernethy is trying to put her life back together after the death of her boyfriend. At first, moving back in with her mother seems like a good way to sort out her finances and re-evaluate her life-instead it proves to be a minefield of doubt and recrimination. Floundering, she pushes herself to take new opportunities so she can rebuild her life and have a second chance at happiness.

"...and they lived happily ever after."  I think that's the line from my childhood reading that made me aware that most of the time in order for me to walk away fulfilled from certain books that it must be included.  That line is where I discovered that I love to read books that end well.  Its the, I'm going to forget about all the real crap that's happening in my life line that whisks me away to a a make-believe place.

Chick-lit is one of those genres that never changes.  Girl with some issues meets boy, girl's issues become the main focus of the book, girl gets mad a boy because of issues, girl and boy work through issues and "they live happily ever after."  I almost never walk away from any chick-lit book feeling unfulfilled.

One Big Beautiful Thing was one of those chick-lit books that totally fit my needs for this past week.  I need an escape with a "...happily ever after." I needed a quick read.  I needed chick-lit.  Having just read Catcher in the Rye for my books and beer club, I needed that change of pace and something to take the edge off of adolescent male angst.  

There were girl issues and boy issues and mom issues swarming throughout this book.  There was a solid BFF and perfect opportunities that us normal folks can only conjure up in a fictitious world.  There were sad moments and happy moments.  "...and they lived happily ever after" with some bumps and lacerations along the way.

Unfortunately I walked away from One Big Beautiful Thing with more questions than answers.  The author left opportunities on the proverbial typewriter with this book.  As a reader, I was fulfilled with my "happily ever after, but there were issues screaming at the top of their lungs that I felt were not resolved, therefore Kate, the heroine of the story, can probably never have her fairy tale ending in her fictitious world.

The one thing that Kate never did was look behind her.  I think she should have taken the time to actually see and understand what that was - I get the metaphor that was intended, but if Kate were to see what was behind her, I could see it through her eyes if she would accept it and move on or at the very least, understand how she feels about it.  It was touched on, every so slightly, but I feel like there was a broken promise by Ms. Flanigan.  There were very big issues to me with this part of the book because there was no impression to me, as the reader, that this conflict was ever resolved with the heroine of the story.  She couldn't complete her arc.

One Big Beautiful Thing was well-written and edited, and in this day and age of Indie publishing that can make or break an author.  I enjoyed the love story, I enjoyed the art, and I am happy to have had the opportunity to read and review this book.

One Big Beautiful Thing

September 12, 2013

Thursday Morning Breakfast (and Murder) Club

Title: Thursday Morning Breakfast (and Murder) Club
Author: Liz Stauffer
Publisher: Sartoris Literary Group
Medium: Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:
When Clare Ballard sports a new bruise on her right cheek the day after a contentious town meeting, the ladies of the Thursday Morning Breakfast Club suspect her husband Roger of abusing her. That same day Hester Franklin, another breakfast club lady, is called to rescue her grandson Patrick after he is arrested for transporting drugs. Proclaiming his innocence, Patrick threatens that those who set him up will pay. Roger Ballard is high on his list. But it's when Lillie Mae Harris, the club's leader, discovers the body of the local drug dealer on the nearby hiking trail, that the community is upended. Roger Ballard, the primary suspect, goes missing, and when his body turns up in his own back yard, Clare Ballard confesses to his murder. No one believes she did it, but Clare insists she's guilty and mysteriously refuses to talk to her lawyer, the police, or her family and friends. The Thursday Morning Breakfast Club ladies believe she's protecting someone, and they vow to find out who it is. Charlie Warren, the town's homegrown policeman, using unconventional means, collaborates with the breakfast club ladies to draw out the real criminal. But danger lurks. Alice Portman, the matriarch of the breakfast club, is struck down in her own yard and is sent to the hospital. Then others in the small community start to disappear-one after the other. As the ladies get closer to the truth, they get closer to the danger. With no time to cry over spilled coffee, they form a plan to capture the true culprits before someone else is murdered.

Sometimes you just need to read a cozy mystery. The multitude of characters, each unique in their own way spinning you around like a top that never seems to topple keeps me coming back for these wonderful little books. I love the plots and the development and the whodunit style of writing. I love wondering if every character was the culprit and can hardly wait until that final moment when the story is wrapped up in a pretty bow just waiting for me to turn the page to open the gift of resolution. I love the quaint settings and can just picture those cute little neighborhoods where everyone is friends, but always suspicious of one another. I love the endless pots of coffee the characters drink and have always wondered how many coffee cakes are consumed during one of these books.

Thursday Morning Breakfast (and Murder) Club had all the qualities of a cozy mystery that I enjoy and love. I was intrigued by the cast of characters, the picket fences, the dead bodies and the coffee (and cake)! I was impressed that the author added fine subtleties that made me second and third guess that who I thought the murderer was, really wasn't or was it. I think by climax of the book I had everyone listed as a suspect, some twice, and when that present Ms. Stauffer wrapped up in a bow for me was finally revealed I was giddy with happiness!

Thursday Morning Breakfast (and Murder) Club was a fun, quick little book that made a fine companion for a few days. The ending brought me back to a childhood Saturday morning memory of television long, long ago!

I did find the excessive use of the word "dear" to be a bit annoying (52 times annoying by my handy Kindle search feature). I spend a lot of time with senior citizens and retired folks and am never called dear by any of them. I like to believe the author was trying to convey quaint and respect and "old school" with her use of it, but the book honestly did not need that to get that point across to me as a reader.

I really enjoyed Thursday Morning Breakfast (and Murder) Club. I will definitely watch for future cozy mysteries from Ms. Stauffer as the weather cools off and I need that comfortable soothing feel of a mini tornado of plot and character in my mind to make me warm and fuzzy.

Liz Stauffer

August 22, 2013

Someone She Always Has Known

Title: Someone She Always Has Known
Author: Georgia Blue
Publisher: Create Space
Medium: Kindle

Amazon Synopsis:
Eleanor is a beautiful, brilliant feminist who rarely doubts herself but frequently doubts others. Callie is a passive free spirit who strives to make everyone happy. Jodie is shy, obsessive compulsive who longs to remain in her sheltered world. Together, the three childhood friends help one another navigate that exciting yet overwhelming time – college. Set in the early 1990s, during a time when VCRs, cassette tapes, and floppy drives seemed like technological marvels, the girls attend BYOB parties, engage in pranks, contend with weird roommates and demanding professors, fall in love, and suffer heartaches. By graduation, each friend has left behind the girl who started college and become someone she always has known.

The love of my life knows just a little bit about everything to be dangerous. He studies and reads and philosophizes about every subject under the sun. Lately he has been listening to authors and linguist interviews in the morning on You Tube. I’m in the other room getting ready for work and sometimes part of it sinks in (must be the hum of the blow dryer or the heat of the curling iron or the crap they put in make-up). This morning I was listening to him listen to an interview with Noam Chomsky, and thinking about my review for Someone She Always Has Known.

We started to discuss a book by a guy (David Foster Wallace) who gave this really awesome commencement address at Kenyon College Class of 2005 (something I listened to him listen to the other morning while getting ready for work), called Infinite Jest. It’s a long book – 1100 pages. I pulled my philosophy out of my ear and said something that I felt was witty about the title of the book being about in line with the length of the book and maybe the author planned it that way. Without Google, I cannot recall what the book was about, but then the love of my life reminded me that Infinite Jest is also part of a scene in Hamlet. 

Ah, yes, high school is coming back to me slightly. I do recall reading Hamlet. I could not recall the infinite jest part – thank goodness for Google! I did what every good employee does, arrived at work and immediately found and read the scene. 
I need to stop talking about listening to people listen and get to how this ties in with Someone She Always Has Known before you totally glaze over and click over to the People of Wal-Mart website. During our conversation this morning about Noam Chomsky and the commencement speech guy (it’s called This is Water in case you are interested), I started thinking about one of the characters in the book that I never really related to until just that moment. I don’t think she was supposed to be the main one you rooted for or were supposed to love as a reader. She’s in every college, she’s in every workplace, and you probably know about three people who totally make up this one character.

She’s the main one! She’s the Hamlet, the Infinite Jest, the Noam Chomsky, DFW, the read between the lines, if you will, character that this book totally revolves around and dammit, she’s the one I should have started pulling for at the beginning of Someone She Always Has Known, but she annoyed the crap out of me. Shame on me! She is the one I loved the most at the end, because her character arched more than the others. She could totally walk away from the pages in the book and stand on her own.

Someone She Always Has Known is a coming of age story revolving around three friends and their time at college. Its set in the early 1990’s a time when I was playing Navy Sailor and missed out on that part of college, but I had barracks, which is the same thing, only a little different. The early 90’s were pretty revolutionary in and of themselves even without all of the college stuff. Someone She Always Has Known discusses the ups and downs of being out on your own for the first time, while still having constraints and rules - a trial run, if you will, for being a real grown up. It delves into deep issues and problems that probably plague young folks heading off to college (or the military or a job or simply out on their own) every year. It’s about friendship and learning to find yourself – something that in many ways is equally as important as getting good grades – in order to succeed in college and subsequently, in life.

Someone She Always Has Known was well written, well edited and while it’s not Shakespeare it’s a great book for the young lady struggling through those first painful months at college or the middle aged woman who wants to go back in time to reminisce and wonder what she could have done different and did she arc in life.

And really, what’s not to love about an author name Georgia Blue!!

Georgia Blue

August 18, 2013

Dear Indie Author,

I think it's so amazing that you are out there writing and publishing books!  You are doing what so many people only wish they could do.  You are taking a huge step and a huge chance at putting that labor of love out there for all the world to see.  The world needs more brave people like yourselves.

I started this blog almost a year and a half ago because of you.  I have read some really great books over the last year or so, and there are so many that I want to get to.  My inbox had over 260 queries when I hired bribed begged the love of my life to organize it into something that I could mange.  You see, I work a full time job and reading is not my only hobby.  I was overwhelmed and really did not know where to start.

After my inbox was organized I found a lot of interesting things out about many author's who send review requests.  I have been called sir. I have been asked to read books that are clearly not even close to the genre's I love to read. In many cases, I have been told more about the author's life than the life of the book. Part of this leads me to believe that no forethought was put into many of these review requests. Requesting a book review and adding my email to some big blanket campaign to elicit reviews while hoping that X hits the spot and I say yes isn't the way to go about things. Let me ask you a question.  Would you care that I base my review of your book based on simply on its cover? Let me answer that for you.  No. 

This has prompted me to rethink my review policy. I hope these changes will not only bring further credibility to my blog, but also increase your work's legitimacy. Review policy changes:

  • Please take the time before sending a review request to actually read my Review Policy.
  • Spend a couple of minutes clicking around my blog and find out who I am and if I am an appropriate reviewer for your work.
  • Tell me ABOUT THE BOOK.
  • Please send a .mobi (or other Kindle compatible) file of the book.
I still cannot promise that I will review your book, but this will give me an easier time of sorting through the submissions and finding that hidden gem. If you want to follow my blog or me on Twitter and perhaps friend me on Facebook, please do so. Keeping in touch through these channels will help you discover exactly when your review is completed. I also post the reviews to these places along with Goodreads.  

Again, thank you for continuing to tear down the walls of literary convention through your writing and self-publishing. You are the reason why I started writing book reviews, and will be the reason I continue to do so.  

With Warmest Regards,
Ravenous Reader

August 11, 2013

Leaving Standing Still

Title: Leaving Standing Still
Author: D.E. Hancox
Publisher: Create Space
Medium: Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:
Lucas Jameson just relocated to the Alabama Gulf Coast. He thought work would consume most of his time, until he met Beth Asher. Now he must balance his career with his embrace of true love. Follow his journey as he flashes back to the events leading to a life changing moment.

I never really give much thought while reading a book about the author. Let me rephrase that. A well-written book should not be decided by just seeing who the author is alone. Obviously, that's come into light in the news recently with JK Rowling. From what I understand (please correct me if I am wrong), she wrote a book under a pen name and it flopped wasn't a number one on the NY Times Bestseller list instantly. Then, her real name was 'leaked' and the book sold bunches of copies. So, are we, the sheeple, that shallow to believe that just because an author who wrote some very amazing books (of which I read every single one) is always going to write very amazing books? 

Leaving Standing Still is a romance, written from the male perspective -- happens all the time out there in book land. What I likes best about this book was that it was actually written by a dude! And he got it right! AND he put real feelings into print which shows what sometimes women don't know or forget that men have hearts and feelings. Unlike us wimmins who wear their emotions like the flashing neon of Piccadilly Circus, men are a bit more subtle about it. 

It was refreshing to read a different perspective on a coming of age love story. It was a unique read seeing that guys have BFF's and they are insecure and want alone time. Lucas and Beth are many young couples out there. They have real jobs, real issues, real emotions and feelings. There is conflict in their lives and not everything is peachy

D.E. Hancox should be commended for well-written first novel! I hope his wife makes him write more!

D.E. Hancox

July 29, 2013

Freedom to Read

I have always taken for granted the fact that I could read anything I have wanted. My reading has never been censored in any way.  I have always had the luxury of finding the books I wanted to read.  I can thank my mother for fostering my love of reading and encouraging me to appreciate a wide variety of books and genres from a very young age. 
Much to my chagrin I discovered that certain books are banned books. Can you believe that? Here in 21st century America there really is a banned book list. Yes, you can be told by a bookstore, library or a school that a book is banned and you can’t read it. I’m an only child. I always get what I want. I’ll find it somewhere, somehow -- STUFF IT PRUDISH LIBRARIAN!!

I have mentioned before that I belong to a book club called Books & Beer. It’s the perfect combination. I love to read and I love beer! The heaven’s opened up and the angels sang the day I found this book club (um, er, the day the love of my life found it and told me about it). Since attending for about a year and a half now, we have never really had a theme of any kind. Folks discuss the book they want to read for the next month, a list is made and it’s put to a vote. Easy peasy! Until the cool book you found and thought everyone would like was called garbage! Yes, garbage! No offense to anyone who has read it, but the garbage caller even compared it to Twilight! Sob!

Calm down Ravenous Reader authors – it was not any of your books. I tend to keep my book-loving, ravenous reading split personalities separate. Plus, my Books & Beer persona gives me an opportunity to read some of the more mainstream stuff that’s out there without any real obligation. This persona, my ravenous one, is more what I’m really about, but people want popular, they want the new shiny, they want what everyone else is reading -- they want the NY Times Bestseller List. I really prefer the beer - honestly!!

So, the club came up with the idea of having the “Summer of Banned Books” theme.. We picked 4 books from the official banned books list and will culminate the final book with the official Banned Books Week in September. The four banned books are as follows: Slaughterhouse 5, Catch 22, Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Catcher in the Rye. Before this summer I had never read any of these books, much less knew they were banned. After this summer I will have read all of them but Catch 22. I just can’t get through that one for some reason. This is the second time I have tried and I can’t! I will go ahead and inflict self-punishment and skip book club drinking beer this month.

Did any of you even know there was an official banned books list let alone a banned books week? Have any of you ever read any of the books on the banned books list? What is your favorite banned book?