Tuesday, 30 June 2015

The ABC's of Sexual Assault - Michelle Ditton & Laurie A. Gray


Michelle Ditton, RN and Laurie A. Gray, JD's The ABC's of Sexual Assault is a guide to the medical protocol and legalities following a sexual assault. The book covers everything from basic human anatomy and definitions of sexual assault, to the response, reporting, and courtroom proceedings that occur in its aftermath. Detailed and comprehensive, despite its disclosure that it isn't all-encompassing, the scope of Michelle Ditton, RN and Laurie A. Gray, JD's The ABC's of Sexual Assault seems to leave no stone unturned. It further aids professionals in law enforcement, the medical field, and in the legal practice in weeding out their own misconceptions and myths about what is and isn't possible, with a chapter of "Bunks"—inducing the acknowledgement and re-education of several incorrect, but all too common, beliefs.

I found Michelle Ditton, RN and Laurie A. Gray, JD's The ABC's of Sexual Assault to be immensely informative and extremely well assembled. Intelligently written, the guide presents a sensitive subject matter in a professional and easy to read and understand manner. As a layperson, this book opened up my eyes to a topic I knew virtually nothing about, but did so in a way that invited every possibility to be explored. The use of real-life situations and stories—from both the perspective of the victim and the many professionals involved in a case—compel a reader to see not just the relevance of what is presented, but the necessity of knowing it. I would absolutely recommend Michelle Ditton, RN and Laurie A. Gray, JD's The ABC's of Sexual Assault as a foundational guide, not just to professionals who deal with the subject matter, but to parents, school teachers, and anyone else who may have cause to have an understanding of everything associated with sexual assault.

Reviewed from a free ARC for Readers' Favorite.


Amazon Link: The ABC's of Sexual Assault: Anatomy, "Bunk" and the Courtroom

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Everyone in L.A. (New York Series) - Terence Clarke


Leaving work in the earliest hours of the morning and catching the 1 train home, Pat Cronin is forced—as everyone else on the train is also—to listen to a female passenger talk loudly into her cell phone on the same car. Terence Clarke's Everyone in L.A. follows Pat and the female passenger, Tiffany, who is presumably talking about an ex boyfriend and his new girlfriend, all the way to New York's 72nd Street Station. While Pat has no choice but to eavesdrop on Tiffany's conversation, his imagination wanders to its subjects, Mitch and Lila, and a hilarious compilation of possible scenarios about this unknown love-triangle ensues. The writer in Pat tugs us into visions fuelled by both classic literature and New Hollywood creativity.

Terence Clarke's Everyone in L.A. is a clever, witty, and wonderful short story about chance encounters, and how even the most negligible moments can have a resonating impact on our daily lives. Despite its short length, Clarke's character's are fleshed out and well developed. His descriptions and depictions are fantastic, and his satire is as infectious as it is entertaining. Grammar and formatting is the only drawback to the short story as a whole, but is easily forgiven by the brilliant content, which is too good to be pulled out of by a rogue run-on sentence. I would recommend Terence Clarke's Everyone in L.A. to anyone looking for a quick and captivating read, and whole heartedly give it five stars for its ingenuity and humor.

Reviewed with a free ARC from Readers' Favorite.


Amazon Link:Everyone in L.A. (New York Stories)

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Monday, 29 June 2015

Sold - Zana Muhsen


This book absolutely ticks every box for me when it comes to a captivating story: innocence, conflict, determination, hope, and survival. It is all packaged in a book that delivers a well written, easy to read flow that I could not put down.

The synopsis is well enough described throughout the reviews and book description. What isn't described is the journey of emotion the author takes you on. There is no glossing over the life of this woman, a child sold into marriage in a foreign country, and even when she makes the choice to leave behind her own child—I was able to empathize. I could validate that choice, and the opposite choice made by her sister. That is a miraculous feat, bringing a reader to understand and accept a decision no parent could ever begin to comprehend having to make.

I recommend this book to anyone who has the stomach for a heartbreaking story that ends not happily, but with a real sense of redemption.


Amazon Link:Sold: One Woman's True Account of Modern Slavery

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Regency Buck - Georgette Heyer


Book Blurb: A novel set in Regency London and Brighton. It is in regrettable circumstances that beautiful Judith Taverner and her brother Peregrine first encounter Julian St. John Audley. The man, they both agree, is an insufferably arrogant dandy. But unfortunately for the orphans, he is also the Fifth Earl of Worth, a friend of the Regent and, quite by chance, their legal guardian...

Review: I have an affinity for Georgette Heyer books that might make me impartial for the purposes of a review. I enjoy her stories so much that in the last 18 months I have gobbled almost completely through them and am now at the bottom of the G.H. Regency bucket. If you've ever plucked book after book off her list until all that's left are the ones you passed on in the beginning, you know what I am talking about.

I have only one, very small, very insignificant complaint here that I have to voice in my effort to be as non-partisan as possible. I skimmed through the drawn out boxing and cock-fight scenes because I found them to be boring. They had no real added value and, well, I'm not reading a romance for a chapter long side story on a prize fighter unrelated to anything else in the storyline.

I enjoyed the plot, the writing, the dialogue, and the characters. Recommended!


Amazon Link: Regency Buck (Regency Romances)

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Sunday, 28 June 2015

Pursued by a Dragon - Linda K. Hopkins


The book is short and as a voracious reader I finished it on a rainy day (the life of a housewife...not too shabby).

I haven't read the first book but found the story worked as an easy to follow stand alone.

While the book is generally well written, I do think the use of a (better) editor would help it out immensely. There were several mistakes--things like "Bruges" (the city) was spelled "Bruge", never ending sentences, and a paragraph where the word "concern" was used three times. Those things hamper the flow, but weren't as disruptive to my nerves as the overly descriptive word plays. The truth is: someone needs to take the author's thesaurus away. You can really tell when a story comes naturally to an author but the words just don't--and the overuse of the "synonym" key comes into play. That's what this felt like. Strained.

The concept is good and the story moves at a quick pace, although it does end rather abruptly. It's fresh and the medieval setting is wonderful. I actually found myself connecting with the heroine but, as other reviewers have stated, I felt Cathryn was portrayed as a bit of a simpleton against her business persona. The line between who is good and who is bad isn't layered enough to allow a reader to peel through and discover for themselves. Some readers really like being told outright who to like and who to hate. I just happen to not be one of those readers.

I would recommend this book as a fun, light read to anyone facing hours at the DMV, on an airplane, or anywhere else where you need a distraction. A solid three stars.

I was given this book for free in exchange for an honest review.


Amazon Link: Pursued by a Dragon (The Dragon Archives) (Volume 2)

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Blade's Edge - Virginia McClain


Mishi and Taka--childhood friends from a Japanese orphanage--each hold a secret power. They are torn apart before they hit double digit "cycles" and are trained in their respective strengths. Ultimately, they are reunited to fight an evil regime/force using their honed powers.

I enjoyed the book and the concept. I also liked a theme that empowered young women in a male-dominated society (hello, whole wide world).

What I didn't particularly enjoy was the repetitive nature of certain descriptions/measurements/etc--intended to be lyrical--but after reading them the first couple of times, they became *slightly* annoying each time afterwards. I also must agree with another reviewer (different site) who mentioned the simplicity of the climax and things coming a tad too easily once folks discovered the truth.

All in all, an enjoyable read. Highly likeable characters that you root for throughout, in magnificent settings captured by the author's detailed narrative. Well written and very well done for a debut, full length novel!

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.


Amazon Link: Blade's Edge

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Saturday, 27 June 2015

A Love That Never Tires - Allyson Jeleyne (FREE!)


Book blurb: Linley Talbot-Martin is a girl who likes to get her hands dirty. As the daughter of a famous archaeologist, she’s been everywhere and seen everything—except London. When the Talbot-Martin team travels to Morocco for her father’s investiture, Linley finally gets her wish. But when the time comes to trade her jodhpurs and work boots for silk gowns and kid gloves, she may be in over her head.

Review: The descriptions are magnificent, the characters are likeable (mostly), and the story itself is wonderfully written. I absolutely loved how the scenes and settings are so well integrated between dialogue--a miraculous feat for a debut indie novel--instead of lumped into long winded narratives. You get behind the eyes of the characters and see what they see, as they see it. Just wonderful.

I agree with another reviewer that in the follow up (which I hope comes fast!) that we see less of Linley's father and his friends. There is also some pretty graphic love scenes about 2/3 of the way through (Heat rating of 4 out of 5).

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to all lovers of historical fiction, romance, and Edwardian love stories.

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


Amazon Link: A Love That Never Tires (Linley & Patrick Book 1)

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Bathory's Secret - Romina Nicolaides


The story itself is a good one. It jumps between the protagonist Kati and her service to Erzsebet Bathory, and Theodora's journal entries. I think the introduction as a virus is a fresh spin on an old Vampire tale, and the author does a great job moving the story along. I was whisked away to Hungary, Venice, and Vienna—and thoroughly enjoyed the ride.

This book would be five stars without its glaring issues with sentence structure, wording, and some confusing jumps between journal entries and the actual book chapters. I also had a problem believing Theodora would start a relationship with Vyktor after/during a series of violent rapes that occur. Had there been a smoother, longer progression to their relationship it might have been believable after some time—but not right out of the gate. I just cannot buy into a virginal rape victim getting into a romantic, sexual relationship while violent assaults are still occurring.

The flow of the story is hampered by overused words, oftentimes in the same sentences (which are never ending). For example: “Initially a grasping chill sets in, only it gets worse and worse until it permanently settles the body's core temperature to about thirty five degrees centigrade and leaves it permanently cold to the touch and extremely pale.” There we have permanently twice in a sentence that reads like a paragraph--and there are many, many more. Also, the body is normally 37.2C--so 35C isn't terribly convincing as a dramatic change in temperature, at least not to a lay reader.

There are a lot of these issues throughout, but I found it (mostly) forgivable in the context of a good story. I enjoyed reading well outside my usual genre and comfort zone, and thank the author for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.


Amazon Link: Bathory's Secret: When All The Time In The World Is Not Enough (Affliction Vampires Book 1)

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Friday, 26 June 2015

Portraits - Tom Hendricks


Portraits by Tom Hendricks is the story of a co-op art group, forged out of their mutual distaste for the corporatization of the Dallas art scene. It follows three main characters, Jack Labas, Francesca (aka: Mary Wollencroft) , and Missy U. The co-op itself involves artists comprised of its nine artists: Jim Dias, its leader, Harvey Carter, a landscape artist, Linda Jenson, Jim's girlfriend, Raymond Kirk, a Rothco disciple, Wendy Phillips, a still art painter, Sarah williams, another landscaper artist, Karen Griffin, a painter of large-scale portraits, Jack, a figure painter and the main protaganist, and Francesca, a clothing designer who replaced Marty Kao, a street scene painter who leaves the co-op. Missy U is a fan of Jack's work and his ever-present pen pal, who turns out to be far more committed to his art and ultimately a saving-grace to the group as a whole. The group grows and their popularity among the public expands beyond their greatest hopes, while Jack finds love with Francesca and encouragement from the shadowy Missy U.

While Portraits by Tom Hendricks does a great job of following the plight of an artist and its extension into every aspect of an artists life, namely in love within this story, where it really shines is in its portrayal of the community as a whole. A reader gets a strong sense of the impact of art and its influence across other media and genres of life that unfurl before you, displaying its far reaching promise and the potential to impact even the most remote corners of a community. Yes, at the heart of Portraits is a love story, a love triangle, but its soul delves deeper into a layered plot that draws out a more widespread implication: that art is the axis of all things beautiful, significant, and real. With some polish and a round of good editing, the bones of Portraits by Tom Hendricks has five star potential. As of the time of this review, the spelling and grammatical mistakes let it down, although do not detract from its manifesto as a whole. Recommended.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review written for Readers' Favorite.


Amazon Link:Portraits: A Novel About Art, Artists, and the Art Revolution

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To Die For - G.L. Sheridan


To Die For by G.L. Sheridan starts with the introduction of a ragtag crew of intergalactic diplomats, headed by their self proclaimed and sole human leader, Ralf. The groups mission is to make contact with the Nadd-Lini, a species of fish extraterrestrials who live on a planet made desirable by its habitability. The goal is to get the Nadd-Lini to move off of their home planet so humans could move onto it, taking advantage of its oxygen, water, and vegetation. In order to achieve this, the Nadd-Lini must be convinced to move into the “Denner Domes,” which Ralf cleverly code names the “Celestial Palaces” in the hopes of securing the Nadd-Lini's compliance. Ralf—renamed Hok-hok to sound more godlike—and her comrades Kurran, Goat, and Am find themselves in for an awkward negotiation when it all goes wrong with The Chosen One, leader of the Nadd-Lini.

G.L. Sheridan has written a terrifically witty and intelligent short story. To Die For is laden with smart sarcasm and artful characters, their form and personalities as much a part of the adventure as their mission and interaction with the Nadd-Lini. The story opens up a new world—and new universe—full of imagination in an inventive and funny manner. The dialogue is entertaining and the overall story is very easy to read. I would strongly encourage To Die For not only to lovers of fantasy and science fiction, but anyone looking for a good laugh and a wild ride. It may be short in length, but it is astronomic in terms of fun.

I was given a free copy of this short story in exchange for an honest Readers' Favorite review.


Amazon Link: TO DIE FOR: G.L.Sheridan

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The Valley of Amazement - Amy Tan


I am at a loss as to why there are so many negative reviews on this magnificent piece of work. I have long been a Tan fan, and this novel in no way diminished my regard. It took me only two and a half days to gobble up 613 pages because I could not [despite my husband begging] put it down.

For those who don't closely follow her work, "The Valley of Amazement" is the follow up to Tan's short story "Rules for Virgins". I read the latter in 2011 and a soft spot for Magic Gourd was secured in my heart two full years before reading this novel.

I won't go into a long synopsis since you can read that in the book description yourself. What I will say is that both Violet and Lucia become likeable characters, although they hardly are at first. They grow on you very quickly in the read when you begin to empathize with their horrible situations and all that led them there. It ends brilliantly, with hope and reflection, from a journey only a writer as penetrative as Amy Tan can produce.

Very, very, very well done.


Amazon link:The Valley of Amazement

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Thursday, 25 June 2015

Warrior Born - Kathrine Leannan


In Kathrine Leannan's Warrior Born we are first introduced to Yokami Sukani, Imperial Leader of the celestial Samurai Warriors. Yokami is in the Scottish Highlands to hide the destructive Sword of War safely in the past. While there he is met by Epona, the Scottish goddess of horses, dogs, healing springs, and crops. Their paths are crossed by Marie MacDonald, and Yokami is forced to relay a prophesy to Epona. A deal is struck at the revelation that is mutually beneficial to both Gods: Marie MacDonald and her families lives are spared. In exchange, Epona will keep the Blade hidden. Additionally, the daughter of Marie and Angus will be both a child of the Friesian Horsemen and the next Daughter of the Sword. Transported to modern day Australia, Connor MacDonald is born and gifted with the Sight.

Years later after a violent crime is committed against Connor, she is trained by Yokami in the skill of the Katana—the sword—and earns her place among both the Samurai and Highland masters. She lives a life as a normal girl, getting tattooed, becoming a skilled equestrian, and marrying the love of her life, Craig. Through all this, lurking in the shadows and plaguing her life with heartache is Bishamon, who is relentless in his search for the Sword.

Kathrine Leannan's Warrior Born is an adventure that spans through the past and present, bringing together the worlds of earth and the heavens. The characters are well developed, diverse, and skillfully depicted. Scotland, the Imperial Kingdom, and modern day Australia are so well rendered, it is easy for a reader to find themselves there, engrossed in the story. The story itself is unique and interesting, wonderfully inventive in the combining of two cultures completely alien to each other.

There were two things that severely hampered the flow of the story. The first is dialogue and the second is words not used in context. Heavy accents throughout the dialogue often forced the rereading of sentences while trying to decipher them. It did more to distract me from an otherwise consuming story than any value they may have added to it. There were also multiple instances where words were used where they simply did not belong. It strained the flow and felt like a thesaurus had been overly and incorrectly used. Both these aside, Kathrine Leannan's Warrior Born is a spectacular story, full of adventure and fully encompassing the human experience—even through a daughter born of the Gods.

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


Amazon Link: Warrior Born (The Katana Series Book 1)

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