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review 2017-10-18 18:22
Good Me Bad Me - Ali Land

Wow!! A book about a serial killer's daughter? And, the daughter turns in her mother to the police? Yes, please!

This book definitely held my interest as I sped through it. While reading it, there was no way that I could tell it was debut novel. It was well written and certainly worth my time.

The subject matter was definitely uncomfortable, but thankfully there wasn't a lot of explaining or detail about what the mother was doing to the children.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me an ARC with the hopes that I would and review this book.

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review 2017-10-16 01:41
ARC Review: Off The Beaten Path by Cari Z.
Off the Beaten Path - Cari Z.

Ever since I read my first shifter book, I've been hooked. For some reason, Off The Beaten Path escaped my notice at first, but when it kept popping up in friend reviews on Goodreads, I requested a review copy from the publisher.

I was not disappointed.

This is not some fluffy wolf shifter meets human and they live happily ever after shifter book. No, as the title indicates, this shifter universe is off the beaten path, set in an alternate reality where shifters exists, after a government experiment gone terribly wrong, but are controlled by the human government, living in remote areas away from human cities, within confined compounds, with the pack Alphas required to serve as ultimate soldiers whenever the military requires them to utilize their extra strength and abilities to carry out the military's dirty work. 

Additionally, some children are born as shifters to human parents, and when their true nature is revealed, they are removed from their human parents, severing the relationship, and relocated to a shifter compound, where they either can shift back to human or, if they can't, are destroyed. 

Thus, we meet Ward Johannsen whose young daughter Ava shifted into a wolf during a stressful situation and was immediately taken by the feds to the nearest shifter camp. Unwilling to give up his daughter, Ward does everything he can to obtain her location, which just happens to be in the Colorado mountains. And it's winter. 

Ward is rescued, nearly frozen to death, at the perimeter of the pack compound. Once inside, he's faced with the pack's Alpah, Henry Dormer, who only recently returned from his last mission and hopes to have a bit of time to recuperate before he's sent out again.

Both men are really strong-willed and not inclined to give up. Ward is unwilling to let go of Ava, even if the law says he has to, and he does everything in his power to get back to her, even if that means willingly walking into a werewolf compound and standing his ground. Henry too fights every day to ensure the security and well-being of his pack, even if that means that he himself suffers abuse and faces possible death.

See, the government doesn't really care about the werewolves it created, considering them dangerous and thus in need of being kept separated and hidden, but is perfectly willing to use the wolves' Alphas for its Black Ops missions. Henry's CO especially is a sack of shit, vengeful and vile, but Henry knows he has to follow the rules so his pack can get what it needs to survive. 

Relationships between wolves and humans are strongly discouraged, though not forbidden. 

Obviously, Ward's presence in the camp, and his having found the compound, breaks all kinds of security rules, and Henry has to take the blame. Still, Henry realizes that Ward's presence will likely help Ava shift back to human, so he is willing to give it a try. 

The attraction they both feel to each other is neither expected nor necessarily wanted, but Ward's persistence and courage seems to calm Henry in the face of the multiple pressures he's facing not only from his CO but also his pack. 

This isn't some fluffy shifter tale. It's gritty, it's dark, and there are oh so many obstacles Henry and Ward face before they can find even a modicum of happiness. Though, I think the point here is that the happiness you have to fight for so hard is worth more in the end - simply because you have to fight for it. 

At the end of this book, there's hope. Not only for Ward and Henry to have a happy ending, but for the shifters in the compound, and all shifters under the thumb of the feds. In fact, there are forces at work to better the lives of the werewolves and give them a chance to actually live

I do hope that the author has more books planned, and that this will turn into a full-blown series. Because Tennyson and David surely need their own book.

This book is full of tension, passion, and courage in the face of nearly insurmountable odds. A true "edge-of-your-seat" read, this comes highly recommended. 



** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. **

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review 2017-10-16 01:23
And this...this is how you do dragons!
Burn the Sky - Jaye McKenna

Now if it's not already clear let me start by saying..."I LOVE DRAGONS!!! Unashamedly, unapologetically love them." to me they are the most fierce, majestic, powerful and yes scary because...hey, big fire breathing creatures here, in all of mythology. 

 

I've had this series on my wishlist for ages and was fortunate enough to have been gifted with the first three books in this series as part of a gift exchange last Christmas and while it's taken me until now to find the time to start reading this series...all I can say to that is good things come to he, or she as the case may be, who waits.

 

Gerrick is the heir presumptive to the throne of Altan (next in line for the throne)...except there's one teensy little problem in order to become the Wytch King he needs to come into his wytch power...he's 20 it should have happened by now and Altan has never had a king who didn't possess a wytch power...ask his Uncle. He's only to happy to explain this  to anyone who will listen...bitter much? Oh yeah. 

 

For Gerrick this isn't about being king though it's about keeping a promise. A promise to protect his younger brother, Jaire from the pressures of ruling a kingdom. Something that even Jaire willing admits he has absolutely no desire or ability to do. Regardless of everything else Jaire, Gerrick and their father are all of a like mind on this issue...neither the kingdom nor Jaire would survive should he be made king as the Wytch Council would have happen.

 

It's in a last ditch effort to have Gerrick declared his rightful heir by the council that the king demands that Gerrick's wytch powers be forced to awaken defying the councils decree that forcing wytch powers or even attempting to do so is a punishable offense. Desperate to protect his brother Gerrick agrees to allow this. 

 

Some wytch powers are not meant to be awakened and when Gerrick's awakened powers end in disaster. Kian, Gerrick's friend, lover and an apprentice healer flees to the Wytch's College in search of the Wytch Master Ilya in a last ditch effort to save not just Gerrick, but his brother Jaire and ultimately the kingdom of Altan. 

 

Ilya's tasked with teaching Gerrick to control his powers but things get complicated when Ilya and Gerrick are drawn to each other and time starts to run out when the machinations of others put both the king and Jaire at risk. 

 

'Burn the Sky' is definitely one of the most enjoyable dragon stories I've read in a very long time. I loved the characters of Gerrick and Ilya. Their relationship started out with definite touch of antagonism as both men came into the relationship with some pre-conceived ideas about the other, but with Gerrick needing Ilya's help to learn how to control his powers and Ilya determined to avoid being the one to deliver the deathblow that will be Gerrick's fate should he fail they find themselves forced to find a way to work together for their own good and the good of a kingdom. 

 

Along with Gerrick and Ilya we are given some secondary characters who beg for their own story and fortunately the author has seen this. In 'Blackfrost' the second book in this series we are given the story of Kian and what becomes of him after he leave the college, in the third book 'Shadowspire' we find out more about Jaire, the sweet and sensitive brother of Garrick whom we met in this story and who proved that while he may not have what it takes to rule a kingdom he had the courage he needed to help save it.  Dragonwatch is the fourth book currently released in this series and while we haven't met either of the MCs in it I'm so looking forward to what comes next in this series. 

 

For me the 'Wytch King' series is everything that I want in a fantasy series...there are dragons, magic, adventure, romance, characters that are both intriguing and compelling and a story that while it feels complete leaves me both wanting and knowing that there is yet more to come.

 

 

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review 2017-10-12 22:01
The Last Veterans of World War II: Portraits and Memories
The Last Veterans of World War II: Portraits and Memories - Richard Bell
This is an amazing book honoring a few of our heroes from World War ll. The diversity inside these pages speaks volumes as we hear from men and women who fought for America in a variety of positions such as officers, nurses, pilots, engineers, technicians, shipfitters and serviceman (just to name a few). I enjoyed how the novel was laid out. Beginning each veteran’s story is a head-shot photograph which is then followed by a short story about that individual and his experience in the war. On the second page is another photograph, a simple and important photo of the veteran’s hand holding his service photograph from the war. I loved looking at these photographs, what a beautiful way to display the element of time and history. As I examined these photographs, their eyes glaring back at me, I thought about the stories those eyes held inside them. For what these individuals experienced and lived, their eyes knew it all.
 
I could tell you about many of the stories that I read but I will just highlight a few that caught my attention. I read about Harlan whose secret mission was to deliver atomic bomb components. After their successful delivery, his unit was hit by torpedo’s and their ship was going down. For four days, Harlan and over three hundred of his men floated in the water, waiting for assistance. Fighting off sharks and staying together to stay alive, they waited. Not everyone made it back safely. Then, there was the story of George who faced his fears in 2000 when he revisited Germany. Battling PTSD, George revisited the places where he had once stood, fighting in the war. George was looking for closure. The story of Ben hit home with me. Ben had been captured and had been forced to march with other prisoners, abuse and death occurring on their way. The Japanese fighters told their prisoners that they were not Prisoners of War but that they were captives. Treated worse than an animal, Ben was a sole survivor when he returned home. Ben also told the story of “The Hell Ships” which was something I hadn’t read about before. There are a few individuals in the novel who didn’t have much to say about their experience. I appreciate their privacy as this war was an emotional and troubling experience to live through.
 
My father-in-law was a POW during WWll and I have listened to many of his stories about this time in his life. He was there in the Battle of the Bulge, he walked many miles to some undetermined destination only to have to turn around and walk back, he ate out of many frozen gardens and the many incidents of what he saw, smelled and heard, I cannot fathom. He was a survivor just like the individuals in this fantastic novel and I thank each one of them for their service. This novel tells the stories of individuals that should be heard and their stories appreciated. I highly recommend this novel and I can’t wait to obtain my own copy.
 
I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. in exchange for an honest review. Thank you both for sharing this novel with me and thank you to Richard Bell for bringing these veterans stories to others.
 
https://www.facebook.com/richardbellphoto/?hc_ref=ARTDbk6_WzbMIfNFxq5tV38Vqc0In9-f4iTI2EGMnYvNpSXs4xQ7uWiM0KoU0EcqzX4 https://www.facebook.com/schifferpublishing/

 

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review 2017-10-12 17:34
You Don't Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie
You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir - Sherman Alexie

This is an unusual book and not what I expected, so my rating may not predict yours (as readers so far have loved it wildly, it probably doesn’t). I hadn’t read anything by Alexie before and chose this over Part-Time Indian because I enjoy memoirs but not YA. But this is far from a typical memoir, which tells the story of the author’s life – usually focusing on a particular aspect or theme – in chronological chapters. The first chapter, which has 19 pages and focuses – despite various digressions – on a crucial event from the author’s childhood, fits into that pattern and had me enthralled. But this is in no way representative of the book as a whole. It consists of 156 chapters, ranging from short to extremely short (though the page count may appear long for a memoir, I’d guess the word count is in line with that of your typical 250- to 300-page book). Half of the chapters are poems. The prose chapters are sometimes only a paragraph long, more commonly 2-4 pages.

These brief essays and poems don’t exactly tell the story of Alexie’s life. He wrote the book while grieving for his mother, and much of it revolves around her, but much of it (especially the poetry) is about grief itself. Another big topic is a brain surgery he had a few months after his mother’s death. So much of the book comes across as the author reflecting on his life as it is now rather than telling the story of where he’s been. To the extent it’s about where he’s been, information about his childhood is scattered throughout the book, while everything after that is even more partial and fragmented. Or maybe it’s just that the information about his adult life didn’t answer the questions I had: he mentions only in passing that he struggled with alcoholism as a young adult, causing him to change colleges, but writes an entire chapter about how the laundry room in his current home was extremely cold until he finally bought some curtains for the basement.

Meanwhile, I have little appreciation for poetry, particularly free verse, which much of Alexie’s poetry is. If there’s something to be said for free verse, it’s that it is a recognized format in which to briefly encapsulate a moment, a thought or a feeling. But this is a large book; I didn’t want brief. And I didn’t want fragments. This book is made up of fragments, which is a deliberate and valid artistic choice: Alexie writes about how much of his history – personal, familial, and cultural – has been lost, and leaving holes is his way of representing that. For me though, the effect was to leave me disconnected from the work, which lessened the impact of the artistic choices.

All that said, this is in no way a bad book. It is well-written and engaging. It is raw and personal and feels emotionally honest. I zoomed through it in a few sittings, not only because bite-sized chapters are addictive but because it is so personal and emotionally intense. It certainly provides some cultural education for the non-native reader: the author grew up on the Spokane Indian reservation, where much of his family still lives, and writes about his Native American identity. Although it left me somewhat dissatisfied, I am glad I read this book and wouldn’t discourage others from reading it, particularly those who enjoy poetry.

(As an aside, a brief mention in this book alerted me to the danger of indoor radon, so who knows, Sherman Alexie may have saved my life.)

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