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?

July 5, 2013

Winter's End

Title:  Winter's End
Author:  Clarissa Cartharn
Publisher:  Amazon Digital Services
Medium:  Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:
When young widow, Emma Winston leaves her life in London with her two children for the quieter Breakish in the Isle of Skye, all she wants is a simple life. And for a while, she thinks she has it. 
That is until she meets the mysterious Mrs Kinnaird who suddenly feels that Emma might make the ideal bride for her wealthy playboy grandson, Chris Cameron- a man who holds his own dark secrets. 
Further still, when Emma's brother-in-law, Richard Winston follows her to Skye to tell her he loves her, Mrs Kinnaird manipulates all her power to keep Richard away from Emma. 

Will Emma finally let go of her past and learn to follow her heart?

Sometimes a girl just needs a good old-fashioned love story. Boy meets girl, girl falls in love, boy is mean to girl, boy really likes girl, girl stomps her feet and harrumphs out of the room, boy apologizes in some big over the top way that only happens in romance novels, and they live happily ever after. And the setting is somewhere way over the top and they all fly helicopters to meetings and for the occasional long weekend on an island. 

Winter's End isn't exactly like I described above although there is a helicopter and there was a bit of harrumphing. It is a very well-written love story that while a bit predictable at times, I really enjoyed. It was a nice change of pace especially coming right out of reading about serial killers and a monster of a thinker for my book club (more on that soon). 

Winter's End is set in the Isle of Skye which is fascinating! There's a potential love triangle, which is always fun! There's the wealthy old woman that we all would love to be taken under her wing and doted on. There are some eccentric folks, because what's a love story without the quirky BFF?  There is some conflict and tense moments.  There's a really good back story and there's an evil villain. But as a reader, you have to pick out who the evil villain is. Is it Richard? Is is Chris?  I think you will be pleased and surprised.  Emma will surprise you also, and I can't believe I didn't see that from a mile away!  Good going Clarissa!!

I think that's what I like most about books and reading in general.  I love the escapism that reading allows me, but then when I sit down after the last chapter and put my thoughts in order, I realize that I am getting a glimpse into someone else's mind and how they think.  Which if you think about that, is utterly fascinating.  I believe that we all have a novel inside of our minds, but it really takes a special something to be creative enough to get it out of the brain, through the fingers and into a medium that can be shared. 

It's summer and it's hot out, but here in sunny Florida it's been rainy and gloomy. I think Winter's End makes a perfect companion for a day by the pool, a day at the beach or, like for me, a day hiding from the lightning bolts outside your front door. I think you will enjoy it as much as I did!

Winter's End

June 15, 2013

Son of a Serial Killer

Title:  Son of a Serial Killer
Author: Jams N. Roses
Publisher:  Amazon Digital Services
Medium:  Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:
Detective Inspector Summers hates dealing with drug addicts, thieves, violent men and women, rapists, child molesters and murderers. She wants to be a doctor in a surgery, saving the lives of the sick. Instead, she deals with the sick and twisted.Finally, she gets handed the case she wants, the reason she joined the force…
A serial killer, nicknamed ‘The Phantom’ by the media, has been randomly killing for years, never leaving evidence and not close to being caught. Then one day, the frequency of murders in the city takes a turn for the worse.
Her investigations lead Summers closer to Ben Green, a troubled young man losing his mind and hearing voices, and his involvement to the case slowly becomes clear…

I've mentioned in another book review that I have a special place in my reading loves for books about serial killers. This is totally my mother-in-law's fault for getting me hooked on true crime books many years ago. While the subject matter isn't something that I read a lot of, it's a nice change from what I normally delve into.

When I was asked to read and review Son of a Serial Killer I jumped at the chance. The concept and ideas behind the story really appealed to me. I found that while the above synopsis starts out discussing Detective Summers, the main character of the book really is Ben Green. It was his story that was told and the character in the book that I found I cared for the most. I could never figure out how a medical doctor could become a top detective and really wanted more background on Detective Summers. 

While I liked Son of a Serial Killer, the lack of editing was distracting and took away from my enjoyment of reading - I know I could have really liked this book.  I had to go back several pages a few times to get things straight. It took away from the reading rhythm I had going and for psychological thrillers, pace and rhythm are tantamount.

The book is extremely graphic (duh, it's about serial killers), which for me was not offensive at all, but it takes a lot to make me cringe. For those of you who are not into this kind of thing, it might be a good one to skip. For those of you who don't mind graphic writing, this might be a good little story to check out sometime in the future -- especially with the hopes that the author will do another edit sometime really soon.

June 9, 2013

Dangerous Ally

Title:  Dangerous Ally
Author:  Michelle Grey
Publisher:  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Medium:  Kindle

Amazon Synopsis:

Lacey Jordan is expecting dinner, and hopefully, an engagement announcement. Not her own, of course. After two serious screw-ups, she’s all but sworn off relationships. When she arrives at her father’s house to celebrate his future happiness though, he’s nowhere to be found. As the hours pass, the worst scenarios Lacey’s mind can conjure send her rushing into action. However, reality proves even more frightening as she discovers that her father’s recent scientific breakthrough is one that people would kill for. To make matters worse, the source of the information is the one person she’d hoped to never see again. Caleb Mansfield, her father’s former protégé and her former lover, needs Lacey’s cooperation, and the very trust he’d stolen years before. But Lacey can’t be certain if Caleb’s working with her or against her. Running out of time, she has nowhere else to turn. As the trail leading to her father narrows, Lacey becomes a target, risking her life to save him. Too late, she understands that with Caleb back in her life, she’s risking her heart as well.

Everyone loves a good mystery now and then.  Sprinkle in a hot romance with a gnarly history, and you have the makings of a fast-paced book that will keep you up way past your bedtime because you promise to read just one more chapter, but end up reading 5 more.

I loved the character development.  I loved the way the book flowed.  I loved how Lacey wanted to go one way, but her heart took her a completely different way.  I loved that (again) I was sure I had everything figured out and yet another author sucked me down a zig zag of an Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole, and I made a promise to myself that I won't be so cocky next time (we'll see about that).  I loved how Lacey put the love for her father out in front to risk even her own life in order to save him.

Romantic thrillers are always a fun read for me.  Dangerous Ally was no exception.  Ms. Grey wrote in such a way that it was easy to make an investment in the characters and actually get a pay off.  The pay off was good, but you'll have to read it and see for yourself.

Thank you Michelle Grey - I hope that you have something just as exciting on the tip of your pen very soon!  

Michelle Grey

June 6, 2013

Mea Culpa

Lo Siento.  Es Tut Mir Leid.  Mi Dispiace.  

Really, that's all I have.  I don't really have a good excuse. 

No one was sick this time.  
No one visited. 
I caught up on a lot of Netflix. 
My garden is beautiful.  
My bees are making honey. 
I've been on vacation to Key West.  
I've even finished two books for my book club (and those books are not blog material).  
I've been to book club.
I've been reading books for the blog.

I've thought of you all.
I've missed my blog.
I've missed writing.

I've missed you.

Enjoy the photos while I write and get caught up.



Coral Castle


Mallory Square

Southernmost Point, USA

Key West Rooster

Hemingway Hosue


Key West Sunset

Key West Butterfly

Our Beach

March 17, 2013

Nobody's Damsel (Someone Else's Fairytale #2)

Title:  Nobody's Damsel (Someone Else's Fairytale #2)
Author:  E.M. Tippetts
Publisher:  Amazon Digital Services
Medium:  Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:
Chloe has finished her masters degree and taken a job as a forensic scientist back in her home town of Albuquerque, New Mexico, only the press will not leave her alone. They follow her to crime scenes and report on her every move, eager to show that her marriage to Hollywood A-lister, Jason Vanderholt, is on the brink of collapse. Millions of fans who dream of their own celebrity romance with him want this more than anything. This scrutiny comes at a particularly bad time as Chloe's first case is a crime against a child roughly the same age that Chloe was when she survived a homicide attempt.

Now that she sees the case from an adult's perspective, she realizes it's much harder than she ever dreamed. It's even worse for Jason, who is two steps removed from the crime. He must watch and try to support his wife as she battles with past demons and tries to keep up with a nameless suspect who evades identification and capture. Never has Jason been more frustrated with his job, its frivolities, and its lack of connection to the real world. When he storms off the set of his latest movie, the press goes wild with conjecture. Perhaps he never was anything more than a pretty face after all.

Together, Chloe and Jason must find their way past all the popping flashbulbs and through the dark maze of the criminal investigation to discover whether they can balance their professional goals with the demands of a celebrity marriage. The odds are entirely against them.

At the end of this month it will be Ravenous Reader -Book Reviews first anniversary. I've learned a few things this year about blogging, about myself, and about authors. Especially about Indie authors. I chose to focus my book reviews on the Indie author for a couple reasons. Mainly because if you go into any main stream NY Times best-selling book, you are going to find a gazillion reviews. I'm sure the authors love the reviews, but probably could give a hoot about what some red headed chick from the West Coast of Florida thinks. I imagine that reviewing popular books might give my blog a larger following, because everyone loves what's popular, right?

Well, that's not me. I've never been one to follow the crowd, and just kind of like to do my own thing. My thoughts are that maybe Indie author's are the same way. Just because a book doesn't make it to some top 10 list somewhere, doesn't mean that it's a bad book. On the contrary, there are a TON of wonderful author's out there - you just have to stay on the end of that pier when everyone else is walking off to be able to find them.

I do read mainstream, popular books - I just choose not to blog about them. I'd rather spend my time giving those writers that veer away from the crowd the blog time, and hopefully it will spark one or two people to check them out and tell their friends - a build it and they will come kind of mentality. The biggest thing I've learned about Indie authors is that they are very generous. E.M Tippetts is one such author. Her first book in this series, Someone Else's Fairytale, was actually the first book that an author gifted to me to read and review. You can see my review here. I was just starting out my blog and wondering if I would ever see a review request in my inbox.

Even much more to my surprise, I received an email from Ms. Tippetts to review the sequel, Nobody's Damsel! I actually liked this book better than the first one. Maybe because I had an already established relationship with the characters, plus I was anxious to see what the next step in their relationship would be, and how Chloe would adjust to being married to someone so famous. Would she become one of those Hollywood wives? Would their relationship even survive the first few months? How would she cope? Was this even going to work? How?

Nobody's Damsel is a well-written sequel that reads quickly, but only because there are bits and pieces of suspense sprinkled heavily within that makes you want to keep turning page after page and not put it down until the very end. Like I said in my first review, this series of books may be on the younger end of the age spectrum for me, but they definitely bring me back to my younger self. While I still have dreams and fairy tales, I did marry my Prince Charming, but I do remember way back when of dreaming if that hunky movie star would just see me in passing one day, he'd be hooked - hey! a girl can dream, can't she?

Ms. Tippetts allows the reader to be taken back, to dream, to suspend belief, if just for a few hours and believe in fairy tales once again. I think we get caught up in our every day grown up lives and need to remember to take a step back once in awhile to dream.

Thank you E.M. Tippetts!

E.M. Tippetts

March 7, 2013

Mental Pause

Title:  Mental Pause
Author:  Anne O'Connell
Publisher:  Amazon Digital Services
Medium:  Kindle

Amazon Synopsis:

Abbie is riding the hormonal roller coaster and hanging on for dear life. She finds herself in a body she no longer recognizes, a marriage that feels overwhelming, and she questions her very sanity. Her existence has become one big hot flash inflamed by killer moods. A chance meeting seems to give her the escape she's desperate for but at what cost? Accused of murder she finds herself in a jail cell accompanied by her regrets and the gnawing fear that her life may be changed forever. It’s a kind of mental pause that Abbie has never imagined, in a story that offers no letup from start to satisfying finish. Change of life, anyone? Mental Pause promises to take you way beyond.

Change is good, right?  I have to say that a lot of changes are good, and even some of the ones that may seem difficult and scary end up have life lessons in them.  Most of the time I don't really mind change.  I just kind of roll with the punches.  There is one change that's going to happen to me, and I think I might be a ticking time bomb.  Hopefully it's quick and painless.

I'm still relatively young, compared to the folks I golfed with yesterday (every single one over 65, and the couple my Dad and I were partnered with were in their 80's), I'm really young!  Starting on Monday, I will be the youngest person in my office.  My husband and I are the youngest people on our street - okay, the guy across the street fought in WWII, so that makes me really, really, really young!  Age really is only a number.  My husband is 6 months younger than I am, we are both in our 40's and he still gets carded.  I'd give my right leg to be carded, just once more!

Anne O'Connell wrote a witty, funny, suspenseful and meaningful book that focuses on change.  Ladies, I'm talking to you!  Gentlemen, ya'll should listen up too, because this will affect you also.  Get ready for it!  I know several women who have gone through or who are going through menopause (yeah, I said it!) and they are doing pretty well, considering.  None of them have snapped...yet.

Mental Pause is the story about Abbie and how she handles going through menopause.  She does things a little more, shall I say, unconventional than any of the women I know although I know one or two who might rival her shenanigans!  The life lessons in her book touch on the bonds of family and friendship, and what even the most desperate of people do sometimes.  Ms. O'Connell paints a picture for women who are dealing with the frustrations of menopause that it is okay to be moody and sweaty and a little crazy at times.  

I really enjoyed Mental Pause.  It was a quick little read that would be perfect for a book club or group of friends to read together - especially if any of the group is 'changing'.  

March 8 is International Women's Day, and is Mental Pause's official publish date, how fitting!  And in the spirit of women all over the world, Ms. O'Connell is donating part of the proceeds from the sales of her book that day to Rooms to Read.  Pretty cool charity, pretty cool author!

Mental Pause

February 24, 2013

Coming of Age...AGAIN

Title:  Coming of Age...AGAIN
Author:  Carol Mizrahi
Publisher:  Amazon Digital Services
Medium:  Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:
“Coming of Age...AGAIN" is the story of four friends of a "certain age" who prove that with a mix of moxie, wisdom, humor, and a weekly mahjongg game, coming of age can happen more than once.

As long as BARBARA's husband had his affairs with women who bought their perfume at Walgreen's, she was content to look the other way, but when she sniffs $400 an ounce Coco Chanel on his jacket, she hires a private detective who uncovers more than she bargained for.

IRENE, an incurable romantic, has been looking for the perfect man ever since her husband died. She thought Mel was "the one," but that was before he moved in and before the "up" toilet seats, the snoring, and the scatological breakfast talk. "He's not who he used to be," she complains. "Neither are you," she is warned.

ROCHELLE, recently divorced, wants to return to an aborted art career, but her two daughters have turned her and her home into a virtual day care for their children. Despite professional counseling and the wise advice of good friends, Rochelle is incapable of taking her life back... until the death of a Butterfly.

SYLVIA believes she will choke to death if she lives alone. Her daughter, Mary, has agreed to live with her until she marries, but all potential husbands flee the scene after Sylvia invites them home for dinner. When Simon also dumps her, Mary goes over the top, taking Sylvia with her.

Sheesh, who would have thought getting older would get harder? I've had a birthday recently, and this one actually went pretty smooth with no meltdowns or major issues since the number was quite boring. As always, I drew it out for about a week of celebration. Thank goodness for rain, in-laws, a parent who lives close, but not that close, and the fact that I think everyone should have an entire week to celebrate! As I gained another number, I am starting to realize a lot of things that never really mattered in years past. I can tell that I am changing, inside and out. Not all changes are for the good, but for the ones that are bad, I know and understand that I am the only one who has the power to change those.

Making a change is hard. Whether you are a 20-something just getting started in life or older and possibly looking at the closing chapters in your life. There really does come a time, when quality trumps quantity. I think younger people should look at quality first - might give them a different perspective.

Coming of Age...AGAIN is just such a book that delves into the changes that many women face as they start to grow older. Ms. Mizrahi gave a wonderful account of four childhood friends who grew older together. Over cake and Mah Johngg they share and hide their deepest secrets. They are quick to tell each other just how things should be, but never want to listen to their own advice. They love each other unconditionally the way long-time friends are supposed to, and they catch each other when they fall.

The four friends live, laugh, love and cry. They throw temper tantrums and they celebrate victories. Ms. Mizrahi really put into words the true meaning of friends - not just your work buddies and bar friends, but you know the ones. I know I don't have very many of those kinds of friends. Just a few - each special in their own way, each willing to give and willing to take. True friends through thick and thin, through happy times and tears. I shared my cradle with one and met the others a couple of decades ago. I'll probably never find another one like them, but that's okay.

Coming of Age...Again is definitely a book that steers away from the young and the perfect. It's a breath of fresh air in a world of plastic and pretend. I recommended this to a few women I know, and I hope they liked it and laughed out loud as much as I did.

A must read for any "older" women out there who are looking to laugh and reflect a bit inward. A must read for "younger" women out there, because you are gonna get older too one day!! I'll let you all decide if you are "older" or "younger".
Carol Mizrahi