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December 31, 2012

Goal of 60 Met and Happy New Year!

Old East (may not be the final name) Soon to be the next book of author Joel Tuggle

I had the unique opportunity to read the manuscript from Joel Tuggle (author of Church Retreat that I reviewed back in July). I do not know if the name of the book is going to be Old East or not but since it was the file name and I need to call it something, I will call it Old East for the sake of this review. I will post when the book does come out and what the title is so you can get your copy and believe me, you will want to get a copy. 

It starts off in 1983 one month before graduation when Mark Johnson goes to one of the campus libraries and finds the book of essays from Benjamin Franklin from the 1787 Constitutional Delegation in Philadelphia that was believed lost over a hundred years ago. A piece of paper falls out of the book that Mark keeps for himself and on it is written “Gold is buried in Maplewood Cemetery, Kinston. Grave marked Stinson. J. LeFors CSA April 1863.” Mark tells no one of this and takes off to Maplewood Cemetery with full intentions of digging up the grave to see if the gold is really there. Between all the excitement of the thought of gold and the exhaustion of no sleep and the trip combined with low blood sugar from not eating, after a few feet of digging Mark needs to rest and ends up falling asleep. While Mark is asleep he dreams about what happened and how that paper had come to be in that book. This is a jump into history back to the Civil War and how the gold was to fund the war efforts only it never made it there and how it was buried and the note written and placed in that book. 

I do not want to write too much about this manuscript as they can/do change before final publication and I don't want to give anything away here since I don't know what or how much the author will reveal once he publishes the book. 

The plot is excellent, the characters are well developed and the flow of the story is consistently good, always moving forward. It doesn't matter if you are a history buff or not, you will enjoy this book so keep your eyes out for more about this author and book.

Book 59 of My 2012 Goal

Cat CallsCat Calls by Cynthia Leitich Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cat Calls by Cynthia Leitich Smith is a short story about Tiff, a young girl who sits for her grandmother in the physic tent of the circus. She expects to fake the readings as she thought they all do including her grandmother but she instead finds out differently in a most unusual way.

Because the story is so short the characters really aren't developed well where you get to connect with any of them. They are developed enough to understand the story all right. The plot and flow of the story were good. There was some unexpected twists and the outcomes of the story was really unexpected. I just wish it were a bit longer as just as I was really getting drawn right into it, it ended. It was a good quick read.

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Book 58 of My 2012 Goal

Girls to the Rescue: The Royal JoustGirls to the Rescue: The Royal Joust by Bruce Lansky
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this to my granddaughter and didn't realize it was for girls 7 1/2 to 13 when I got it. She is only 4 but luckily my older granddaughter (14) was here too and she listened to the story as well as explain what a joust is and a few other things. So I will say a young child will not know what some of the things in the book are but even so it is a good book to read and explain what these things are to a younger child. The book is easy so a child of the recommended ages can certainly read it for themselves. You really don't get much character development in this type of a story except a name and how they are related to one another. In this case it is a brother and sister relationship and the mother is at the beginning and end. It has good values for the most part....a sister caring and helping her brother, wanting him to win, etc. I can say I enjoyed the story and so did the kids. The comment from my older Granddaughter is...."Finally a girl is the hero."

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Book 57 of My 2012 Goal

Haunted LoveHaunted Love by Cynthia Leitich Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Haunted Love by Cynthia Leitich Smith is a very short story that takes place in Spirit, Texas for the most part at the theater that is haunted. There are some supernatural creatures in it as you may have guessed. I don't want to say too much because I don't want to write a spoiler plus you can read the description of it for yourself but what I did want you to know is that although it is short, the characters are well developed for such a short story. As far as the flow of the story, it seemed rushed in some parts whereas in others it lagged. I think it should have been expanded on a little in these rushed parts so it could have flowed more fluently and at a steadier pace. The story line was great and I enjoyed all these twist and turns as well as finding out why Cody was not what he seemed. Then again the new girl in town isn't what she seemed either. About the only thing I got right was that there was a ghost somewhere and since the title is "Haunted" Love, I figured that was a safe bet. So if you enjoy quick reads and supernatural creatures then I recommend it. As an extra bonus there is even a sneak preview of her latest novel, Diabolical.

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Book 56 of My 2012 Goal

Kindle Buffet: Find and download the best free books, magazines and newspapers for your Kindle, iPhone, iPad or AndroidKindle Buffet: Find and download the best free books, magazines and newspapers for your Kindle, iPhone, iPad or Android by Steve Weber
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kindle Buffet: Find and download the best free books, magazines and newspapers for your Kindle, iPhone, iPad or Android by Steve Weber is really packed with some good information for new Kindle users (and the other devices mentioned) of how to get the free books and other apps plus there are links right to many of them.

This just isn't limited to books either. I didn't know there was something called Personal Document Service that will convert the most common document formats to the Kindle format so you can use many of the Kindle functions on it such as; change font size and make annotations, etc. Another great thing is that when the author is explaining something he often adds pictures or screenshots as well as step by step instructions.

You can get a Wi-Fi Analyzer Free. It allows you to see the strength of your Wi-Fi signal so you know if there are dead spots in your building/area, how many networks are in the area and whether yours is on a channel that is too crowded.

Use instant messaging? Not a problem with the imo app which is compatible with many common services such as AIM, Facebook Chat, Skype, and more. You won't have a voice but you can still text. You may also need Quickoffice, Office Calculator, or maybe you want Calibre. It is all in there and so much more with explanations of what it is and what it does.

I added this to my favorite list so I can easily refer to it time and time again. I highly recommend it.

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Review of the Top Ten 2012 Books/Authors

I really cut my 2012 challenge of 60 books close by just finishing my 60th book New Years Eve morning. Hopefully this year I will leave myself a little more wiggle room. I thought I would re-cap 10 of my favorites in 2012 (in no special order).

(Click on the name of the book and it will take you to my original post.)


1. Joel Tuggle wrote:

The Church Retreat which I only gave 3 stars to. Not because I didn't like it but because the author had so much going on that I thought it 'took away' from the original plot. I thought he could have followed through on some to make this even a bigger mystery or paranormal thriller than it was however, it is a good read just the way it is, hence 3 stars...I liked it.

Old East
I had an unique privilege from this author to read his manuscript for his next book. (I am not sure what his final name for it will be but so far it is "Old East".) It was fantastic! This is not to be confused with the one on the Goodreads site now. This one is not published yet but if it were, I'd give it 5 stars.

All you Civil War buffs pay attention because this one should be on your 'must read' shelf. If you're like me and not a history buff, no worries. This should still go on your 'must read' self because you don't have to know a lot of history to 'get it'. If you know there was a Civil War that it was fought by the Union (North) and Confederacy (South) and the Confederacy was defeated then you know enough to understand what is going on without any problems.

More about this author in my opinion and observations:

Joel Tuggle is very detailed oriented. His writings are thorough and at times to a fault as in The Church Retreat. However, I did enjoy this trait in Old East because it enhanced the story instead of taking away from it. I love how both his books have that added supernatural element into it. I also love how there is a story within a story in Old East. I thought that was very cleaver instead of just writing a history story. I should also add that because he is so thorough that his books are no quick reads. They are between  three and four hundred pages. Remember though, that is 300 - 400 pages of pleasure. I am his fan and can't wait until his next book.

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2. Suzanne Collins wrote:

The Hungar Games Trilogy

The Hungar Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay which are three of the most unforgettable books I have read in a long time. I am not even sure what to classify them as, thrillers? Adventures? Science Fiction? Maybe all of these and one more, excellent! 

The story was well done, the writing and scenes complete, the whole thing came together as a masterpiece. I still wear my Mockingjay pin. (Whether I wear it as support for author or as a message to the White House I am not saying.) This is a series that will not soon be forgotten. I loved the movie too (I had too see it when it came out) although they cut a lot out. The books were so much better. 

More about this author in my opinion and observations:

Suzanne Collins is from CT (So why don't I have autographed copies?) and wrote some children's shows before she was talked into giving books a try. Thank goodness! She does have the Underland Cronicles Series out also which is more of a child's book vs young adult. There is no mention of what she is writing next so I will have to keep an eye out.

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3. C.A.S Novel (AKA: Christopher Albert Summerfield) wrote:

Meltdown which once you pick it up, you won't want to put it down. This thriller really had me at the edge of my seat more than once. I gave this book a solid 5 stars. 

More about this author in my opinion and observations:

Now the bad news. This is the only book I found from this author. I don't even see a profile from him so I don't know if there are any more books in the works. If there are, you bet they are going on my "to read" list.

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4. Annette Brownlee wrote:

Deadly Chaos is book #1 in the Spirit Savers Series. I gave 5 stars without a bit of hesitation. I would call it a paranormal adventure and another one of those books I found hard to put down. I am so looking forward to book #2, Deadly Intent. 

More about this author in my opinion and observations:

Annette Brownlee wrote many books and I expect she will continue writing them if not in her own name then maybe another since she already is a ghost writer. I love the way she writes and will be reading more by her. 

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5.  Andrew Butcher wrote:

A Death Displaced: Lansin Island Series which is a must read for all mystery, paranormal, romance buffs. I gave it 5 stars because there is no 6th. 

More about this author in my opinion and observations:

Andrew Butcher has a way with words. He can describe a place and make you 'see it' in your mind's eye. What he lacks in age he makes up with in his 'golden pen'. The second book, A Body Displaced is due out in 2013 and it will be on my reading list. 

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6.  Scot Bartz wrote:

TYMURS: The 1982 Tylenol Murders which is a non-fiction, crime really had me thinking about the incident. Well, I called it an incident, it really is murders. It was a real eye-opener about what happened, could have happened and got covered up. The research that went into this book is staggering. A solid 5 stars. 

More about this author in my opinion and observations:

Scot Bartz not only put a lot of research into this book he worked for Johnson & Johnson. 

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7. David Grace wrote:

The Concrete Kiss was page after page of exciting action, suspense, and mystery. It was two stories/plots that came together as one and done in a way that it just flowed naturally. I gave it a solid 5 stars. 

More about this author in my opinion and observations:

David Grace is author of many books that appear to be in the mystery, thriller, suspense genre. 

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8. Aija & Thornne wrote:

A Soldier's Promise is a military love story that I found delightfully different. It gets to a point where the reader is invited into the characters' most intimate feelings by reading their love letters. It is unlike any story I had read and I gave it 5 stars. 

More about this author in my opinion and observations:

Aija M. Butler has many books already although this is the first of hers I read. This is Thornne Xaiviannt's first book from the best as I can tell. Together they really wrote something different and I hope they continue in their writings. 

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9. Stuart Oldfield wrote:

White Rabbit (Omnibus Edition) is a fictional fantasy like no other I have read. This reminded me of an Alice in Wonderland of the 60's while on some psychedelic drugs with visions that would make Sigmund Freud blush. To be perfectly honest with you, I almost put the book down because it was really out there...way out there but I stuck with it and I am so glad I did. IT is no short story as it is 4 stories in one; Book 1: The One Who Is Two, Book 2: Friends and Enemies, Book 3: Red Tape, Book 4: Woman Who Looks Both Ways. I gave them 5 stars. 

More about this author in my opinion and observations:

Stuart Oldfield really has a way with fantasy and words. Once I got over the shock of the weirdness of it all I realized this is one author that has the gift of words. Some of his descriptive scenes had me reading it over and over because of the beauty and power of the words. I don't see any new books in the making by him but I can hope.

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10. K.P. Kollenborn wrote:

Eyes Behind Belligerence  is a fictional and lengthy novel of what life was like being Japanese in America just prior to and after the Bombing of Pearl Harbor during WWII. Although the author makes it clear this is a work of fiction many of the facts and events are historically accurate. This powerful book got 5 stars. 

More about this author in my opinion and observations:

This is the only book I found from this author. It is a shame because if more people would read books like this than the better off our planet would be. The time is set at WWII but it can be adapted to any time. Just insert 2001 as the year, Twin Towers as the event, and people from the Middle East for the Japanese. I still think that is such a powerful line: "Exiled, shamed and damned like bastards, we stare through these barbed wire fences, our eyes. our eyes betrayed by this world; our eyes behind belligerence." 

I did say 10 so I will stop here but there are really a few more I gave 5 star ratings to so don't be shy and look back to my older posts and see which ones they are. You' ll be glad you did.

December 22, 2012

Book 55 of My 2012 Goal

MeltdownMeltdown by C.A.S Novel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Meltdown by Christopher Albert Summerfield (C.A.S) Novel is one of the most gripping and terrifying stories I have read yet. It is a story following eight survivors of a chemical attack which in a way sounded a little dull to me but I assure you there is nothing dull about this story at all. It kept me glued to the pages from the beginning to the end.

I loved how the book started with a scene and not a character. It is set in London near the downtown area on the streets where there was some sort of explosions and then this green smoke filled the air and then the people started going mad. Sure there was the normal looting and all that seem to go on during any emergency but this was something more. Some of the people were killing others with their bare hands or whatever weapon they had for no reason. They had a crazed look about them and they just slaughtered other people. The author really knows how to describe a scene so the reader can visualize it. One of the scenes that sticks with me is when the bus crashes and the horror that followed. The bus crashed and the driver's head "exploded" on the windshield. It goes on about the thick, red blood running down the shattered glass. The part that gets me most is when the crazed mob charges the bus and attacks the passengers. No one does it better than the author so here is what he wrote: "And as the mob boarded. the passengers began screaming, unsure what to do but expecting the worst. Continuing to hold onto their loved ones and belongings, crouching and hoping they would be shown mercy, the mob showed no mercy as they entered the bus, biting, gauging, stabbing and squeezing the life out of men, women and children, just hell-bent on slaughter, no one to be left alive."

That is when Mary is introduced as she finds herself standing on one of the streets clutching onto her son witnessing this insanity that is all around her as she tries to get to the place of her husband's work where she thinks they will be safe. She ends up going down the tube station (which I assume is a what I know as a subway station) but naturally the trains are not working. In fact, nothing works, no trains, no cell phones, no wired phones, no electricity, nothing. It is down in this station where she and her son, Mathew are 'rescued' by a tube worker, Ron. I use that word 'rescued' lightly as they are not truly rescued but they are simply rescued from the dangerous situation they found themselves in at that moment down in the tube station. Ron leads them into one of the staff rooms that he had locked himself up in when all this insanity started. They would be safe there for now but naturally they couldn't stay there forever and eventually Ron leaves to scout out the tube when he comes across others.

There are eight in all and the story follows them through not only what they say and do survive but what they think. The reader is not only getting to know what is on the outside but the deepest, darkest thoughts. It really lets the reader get to know each person more intimately which was a huge benefit in being able to connect or at least understand where they were coming from. You remember that old saying, don't judge a book by its cover? And, I may add that this doesn't stop the story in any way. The story is forever moving forward and taking the twist and turns of what to do next and where to go as well as who can be trusted and who can't all the way to the end. What a ending too! I didn't see that coming. All I could say is, "Wow". "Excellent!"

The other thing I thought of is how believable the whole story is. Not only were the characters believable for the most part as we all handle stress and emergencies differently but the whole story was believable. There are the capabilities of this or something like it happening right in our own back yards. Maybe we all shouldn't judge our safety by who we think our enemies are.

Because of the scenes and nature of the story I would recommend it to young adults and adults.

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December 15, 2012

Book 54 of My 2012 Goal

Deadly Chaos (Spirit Saver Series, #1)Deadly Chaos by Annette Brownlee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Deadly Chaos by Annette Brownlee is book one in the Spirit Savers Series. If I were to gauged the series on this book I would have to say it will quench the thirst of those into paranormal, romance and mystery. Deadly Chaos has all three and was an interesting and entertaining read that had me turning page after page.

Annie was given the nickname Chaos by her father and the name fit her well. Where ever Chaos went you could be sure there was going to be trouble. Everyone she gets close to ends up dead starting with her birth where her mother died. Chaos was convinced she was cursed and lived her life not getting close to anyone else again. She started a landscaping business and things seemed to go fine until one of her clients neighbors (Bill) forced his way into her home to rape her. Chaos fought off the attacker with the only weapon she could reach and as fate would have it, she killed the attacker. (Was it fate or maybe it was her curse?) To you or I this wouldn't be a problem since it was self-defense but since Chaos has a habit of leaving a trial of bodies where she goes this is a real problem and the last thing she wants is more problems with the police. Her workers understood her problem of not wanting to get the police involved and they take care of the body for her.

Chaos continues to see "Dead Bill" and figures either she has gone crazy or her guilt is getting to her and she is having hallucinations. Either way she wants to rid herself of Dead Bill and goes on a vacation only to find that he still shows up. Determined to get to the bottom of it she sets out to learn what she can about ghosts. She doesn't believe in ghosts but she knows something is going on, something more than her imagination. (Or, was she just in need of a padded room?) She ends up at the 'Spirit Savers' which is a paranormal group who tries to help people with ghost/spirit problems. It is with the help of this group where she finds that she herself has 'superpowers' as she called them. She also has an attraction to one of the members, Dakota. Only problem is Dakota thinks she is trouble and he wants no part of her however other forces are in play here. With the help of this group Chaos learns the truth and so much more, things she never even dreamed of.

The story had me hooked from the beginning. The characters were developed nicely throughout the story and I felt a connection with Annie (Chaos) who is the main character. The story flowed pretty steady forward and there were no real 'dead spots' in it. There were some twists and surprises and the ending really was a shocker. (I look forward to the next book in the series, Deadly Intent.) I recommend this book to adults that enjoy the paranormal/ghost type stories.

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December 1, 2012

Book 53 of my 2012 Goal

MalevolentMalevolent by David Searls
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Malevolent by David Sears is a psychological thriller that takes place in Cleveland, Ohio. This multi-character tale starts off with the main character of Tim Brentwood's chance encounter with a local area business owner, Griffin Solloway, at the scene of a rape. Griffin is later accused of the rape and this just starts the cascading events that take place in Cleveland. Something is feeding on the fears and spreading suspicion among the residents but is it real? The author takes us into the deepest, darkest places of fear including rape, murder, and other evils that effect the residents of Cleveland.

In this fast paced story of supernatural and evil Tim and Griffin realize that something unnatural is happening to people in town. No one is spared, not even the minister of the Utica Lane Church of Redemption. In fact, they discover that the only thing in common of those who are experiencing these 'evil happenings' are those that have been to this church. They set out to solve the mystery of this evil demon's grasp on Cleveland once and for all.

The quick pace of the story starts at the beginning and continues throughout the story. Even though there are multi-characters (after all we are dealing with a city) and the story switches among them, it does so in the way that is not confusing. Each of these characters are developed nicely with Tim Brentwood and even Griffin Solloway being the lead characters and most developed. The story surprisingly even comes off being believable in that the characters are realistic as well as the town, rape and murders do happen. The jury is still out on ghosts and demons but even today many claim to have seen them so that can be believable in the sense that they claim they are real. The story doesn't drag on and has a steady pace with the events being varied and plentiful throughout. It kept me glued to the book to see what will happen next.

Because of the sexual subjects and cursing I would recommend Malevolent to adults who enjoy thrillers/horror stories.

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Book 52 of my 2012 Goal

A Death Displaced (Lansin Island Series, #1)A Death Displaced by Andrew Butcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Have you ever picked up a book wanting to read a few pages before you started your day just to find that the day is now night and you finished the book? Be warned, "A Death Displaced: Lansin Island Series" by Andrew Butcher is one of those stories. Not only was the plot interesting, the mysteries crying out to be solved, the mystical and magical waiting to be discovered and the 'dark past' history behind it wanting attention. The author's ability to take you places and make you a part of the surroundings is undeniable.

Nicolas Jack Crystan (Nick) works at Creaky Crystals, a tourist shop that specializes in witchcraft items in Amiton which is on Lansin Island. The Island has a 'dark past' of 143 people being burnt at the stake for being witches but today it is a tourist destination for Witches, Wiccans, Pagans, and wannabes. One day Nick has a 'daydream' of a crash which resulted in a women being thrown to her death only to find that his 'daydream' was really a premonition that came true the following day. He recognized the signs and acted quickly to save Juliet Maystone's life. Juliet runs off without even saying 'Thank You' to Nick but the two of them meet up later on.

Juliet 'felt' herself get hit by the car, fly through the air, crash onto the street below and die only when she opened her eyes Nick was there and the car never touched her. She couldn't explain it but ever since that day she felt different. She was disconnected with her body but apart of everything around her. She sees and hears things that aren't there. She makes an appointment with Tamara Trewin, the last living descendant of Lansin Island Witches where she learns that she was meant to die and although she was physically saved, she spiritually died and her soul was in the Otherworld while her body was here.

Nick and Juliet are the two main characters of the story and each of them have their own family problems and 'supernatural abilities' to sort through. The author not only has them grow and mature as individuals but even some soul searching and moral issues are examined as they uncover the mysteries about their own abilities and of their families. They also uncover the mystery about the missing children and the haunted manor as well as the islands 'dark past'. There are so many layers to this story it is hard to think of them all but they are done in such a way that it was always interesting and surprising. Although I am learning about the characters as people there is still this 'supernatural/mystery/suspense story' going on at the same time. And by learning about the characters it didn't bog down the story but instead added to the depth of the characters. I wasn't reading about them, I knew them! The author makes me feel as if these are real people dealing with real family/personal issues and they live in a place I have been to (since I can picture it so well). Ok, these two might have some psychic abilities but none the less, the author makes them so real.

The paranormal elements in the story are plentiful and varied. I don't want to say too much on this and give the story away but I will tell you that the author's ability to describe these sightings and events are just as descriptive as the characters are. You don't just see them, you experience them right along with the characters. Some really caught me off guard as I wasn't expecting it. It seems that not only is everyone on Lansin Island not what they say they are but not everything on Lansin Island is what it seems to be which kept me glued to the book turning page after page.

I really can't say enough about how much I enjoyed reading this book and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys the paranormal/mystery type books. (A Body Displaced is the next book to come out in the Lansin Series in 2013 and you can bet it is on my 'to read' list.)

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November 19, 2012

Book 51 of My 2012 Goal

Powerful Pinterest How to Sell Your Stuff and Make MoneyPowerful Pinterest How to Sell Your Stuff and Make Money by Penny C. Sansevieri
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Powerful Pinterest by Penny C. Sansevieri is like a "Pinterest for Dummies" type book starting with what is Pinterest, how it differs from say Facebook and Twitter, and what makes Pinterest so different. The basic is covered from creating an account to pinning your first picture complete with screenshots. Then the author tells why you would want to pin pictures and how to make them work for you. Also, something I didn't know about following people vs. following boards and what that means as well as how to get the most out of it without cluttering up your Pinterest stream. Other things like board ideas, names, and content are also covered as well as pinning etiquette. In short, this book tells how to make this powerful board work for you and your blog.

There are useful tips such as using hashtags, leaving comments, and going to the popular boards and how by doing these things can/will work to your advantage. Another useful tool is videos and how and why to post them as well as tutorials. Even the captions of your photos and the name of your photos are important as well as how to name them and why. Everything matters and it is important to understand these things so you can make the best use of them and this book not only tells you how, it tells you why.

Although the book is short, it is packed with useful information whether you have a book your trying to sell, crafts, or even if you are not selling anything and just want more traffic to your blog. I also found the "Fun Pin-Links" that are listed at the end useful. I was hoping to tell you that I followed the directions and tried some of these with positive results however I have been swamped and haven't even been on Pinterest this month so I haven't even tried one of the suggestions yet. Even with that being said, the research and the logic behind doing these things stand on their own and I have no doubt it will work.

I recommend this book to everyone who has or is thinking of joining Pinterest, is selling something on their site, or just wants to increase traffic to their blog.

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Book 50 of My 2012 Goal

TYMURS: The 1982 Tylenol MurdersTYMURS: The 1982 Tylenol Murders by Scott Bartz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

TYMURS: The 1982 Tylenol Murders by Scot Bartz is an extensive investigation into the 1982 Tylenol Murders. In 1982 people were dying after taking Extra Strength Tylenol Capsules. Naturally the product was recalled but it was too late for some. The stories spread by the media were everything from a madman was running around poisoning random bottles on store shelves possibly to blackmail the company Johnson & Johnson to one of the victims family member did it and poisoned others so it looked like she was a random victim of some nut who gets his kicks out of killing people. It was only by chance that a doctor in the emergency room put two and two together when he treated a 'victim' who died although he didn't know what was wrong with him at the time.Then he learned that two family members of this victim were on their way in with similar symptoms. The doctor made a phone call to the Poison Center and learned the symptoms he explained seemed to fit cyanide poisoning which later blood tests confirmed.

The author brings to light how the situation was mishandled starting with when the Tylenol boxes that were found opened up with capsules taken apart and a 'white powder' found on the floor through how the investigation was handled. Johnson & Johnson was highly praised for their handling of the situation and a relationship developed between them and the agencies who were involved in the investigation of the incident. So in other words, Johnson & Johnson takes over heading the investigation and therefore able to release to the media what information it saw fit.

The author revealed a lot of information I never heard before and the amount of research done before writing this book is staggering. His research went from news reports to court documents and even talking to the people involved. Keep in mind though that is just what this book is, a research and report of the findings. If you are looking for a story where you get close to the main characters and have an adventure, this is not the book for you. There is no bonding with anyone in this book, the main character is a pill called Extra Strength Tylenol, and the plot or purpose is where and who done it. The author seems to slant toward some conclusions with the documentation of why he comes to this conclusion.

I recommend this book to everyone who interested in the Tylenol Murders.

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October 31, 2012

Book 49 of My 2012 Goal

The Concrete KissThe Concrete Kiss by David Grace
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Concrete Kiss by David Grace is one of those books that once I picked it up, I didn't want to put it down. I found it extremely interesting and the suspense was great. It sort of reminded me of a bad cop/good cop type of situation but it was so much more than that. It in a way was two stories in one, Ned Danes trying to find the real killer and then there is the story of FBI Agent Phillip Abbott who is trying to find who killed his adopted daughter Jessica's parents. I don't want to write any spoilers and you can read the Author's Overview yourself so there is no need for me to repeat it but what I can tell you is that these stories are related and it all comes together. It may sound confusing but believe me it isn't, it does have a lot going on which of course has me turning page after page to see what happens next but it wasn't confusing at all.

The characters were developed well. I felt a connection with the main character, Ned Danes, rather quickly. This homicide detective stood up for what he knew was right and it cost him a 'promotion' right into the basement as head of the 'cold cases.' Then his determination plus standing for his principles really made me cheer him on. Not only was Ned's character totally developed but all the characters were developed nicely. Then there is Walter Plackman who is developed toward the end of the story in such a way that made a very large impact. I like the way the author lead me up to that point with the suspense building then finally the climax. I thought that was done effectively.

This is one story filled page after page of exciting action, suspense, and mystery that is sure to keep you up and reading long past your bedtime.

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October 29, 2012

Book 48 of My 2012 Goal

A Soldier's PromiseA Soldier's Promise by Aija M. Butler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Soldier's Promise by Aija & Thornne is a military love story that I found delightfully different. Even before I read the story I read the 'Book Dedication' which was heartwarming and sincere (I thank you!) and it had me thinking by this alone that this was going to be a real tear-jerker of a story. I wasn't wrong! I was amazed by just how accurate the feelings and thoughts are in the story. It portrayed military life of those left behind amazingly accurate right down to the change in feelings as time goes by. What I really found amazing is the way this love story is told. It gets to a point where the reader is invited into the characters' most intimate feelings by reading their love letters.

John Dixon was just promoted to Force Captain in the Navy Seals. He is sent on a mission to Puerto Rico where he actually violates his mission's objective by rescuing an obviously severely hurt young woman named Nicole (Nikki) Travorrez. Eventually they marry and have a son but by the time of birth John went on his next mission to Afghanistan. It is through this absence of John that the letters begin back and forth between Nikki and John. The reader learns of their family, fears, milestones young Jonathan makes and their deep love and passion for each other. I really found this a bit different than other love stories in that I am finding out 'the story' through letters. It was extremely effective in having the reader 'feel' the longing, loneliness, fears and all the other emotions that result when two people are apart for so long, one being in dangerous conditions with no 'time' set for returning home. I imagine this was the objective of the authors and I think they have achieved it very well.

I have to admit that I come from a long line of military persons so I have worn many 'hats' so to speak of being the daughter of a military dad, being the sister to military brothers, being a wife of a military husband, being the mother of a military son, and being in the military myself so I can tell you first hand from my real life experience that a lot of the 'feelings' in this book are accurate including the frustration Nikki feels when trying to get information on her husband when her letters went unanswered. People she talked to and even asked John how is Nikki and "the little man" now won't answer her and act as if they don't even know who she is and want proof she is married to John. She knew providing a copy of her marriage license would do no good and she is probably right so I found these situations totally believable.

The main characters, John and Nikki, are developed as the story goes on although the timing of it was interesting. The reader learns about John starting with the beginning of the story. He develops with the story and we learn more and more as time (the story) goes on but I am satisfied I 'know' him. Nikki on the other hand is revealed in bits and pieces, enough at the time to make sense of the story but much more slowly than John. She is like a bit of mystery and I still feel the reader needs to know more about her and her past. Of course this is just the first book and if the authors didn't create some curiosity for the reader then why would they read the second one? I think this is the authors intentions and they certainly did it well.

The ending was a major cliffhanger. I couldn't believe it stopped there because it has me screaming, "What Happens Next?" Now you know I have to read the second book and naturally the authors plan worked. I have to find out what happens. I should also tell you that there is a minor editing error but it doesn't take away from the story (my brain inserted the missing word automatically) also that there are some intense love making so I wouldn't recommend this for children however I would recommend it for everyone else. This is a love story, military style that I think is worth reading.

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October 27, 2012

Book 47 of My 2012 Goal

First Time HardFirst Time Hard by Colin Holcombe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First Time Hard by Colin Holcombe is a suspense fiction that I wouldn't really call a quick read. It is a story about how doing such an innocent thing like buying a bronze statue that you like from a pawn shop can turn your whole world upside-down. Richard Drake, an antique dealer and valuer, found this out first hand when he bought what he called 'Tex', a bronze statue of a cowboy on a horse from a pawn shop. Richard liked the statue and wanted it for his home where he proudly displayed it. Little did Richard know that this statue would have him regretting that he ever laid eyes on it.

I do not write spoilers and you can read the author's overview for yourself so there is no need for me to re-write it here instead I rather focus on my personal thoughts of the book. With that said I felt the story was choppy and seemed to jump around a bit in the beginning which at the time I thought it was annoying but later realized that it was because the boys playing with air rifle was an event that took place many years prior to the time of when the rest of the story takes place. The 'choppiness' is the author's style of writing where he opened the chapter with an event, Mrs Harper falling down the staircase, then wrote about what lead up to this event afterwards in the chapter instead of opening the chapter with what lead up to the event and ending it with her falling down the stairs. To me this went against a smooth flowing story since the natural timeline is thrown off and it took a bit of getting use to but it all this came together in the end.

There are many characters in this story and many of them were major and I felt they were well developed for the most part and I found them believable. The author did not have everyone as a hero who saved the day instead he used what I thought could be a normal reaction you would expect from any person put in that situation. Some would be brave, some would totally break down to tears and beg for their lives, and some would lose their bladder control when facing certain death. About the only ones I had a hard time believing were the twins, Craig and Kevin. I found it hard to believe that anyone could be that evil. I also found it hard to believe that others would let them get away with murder and turn a blind eye toward it but as much as I hate to admit it, things like this do/did take place and I only have to turn on the news or look back in history to find it.

The story has a little bit of everything in it from murder to mistaken identity and I found the tortures and amputation a bit gruesome. The twins are the kind of people you not only would fear but you learned to hate them quickly. It did seem to drag in parts and have more detail than necessary for 'uneventful' moments in the story which further added to the dragging. There were some formatting and minor spelling errors, 's' instead of 'z' and the word 'cottoned' instead of 'caught' but nothing that really took away from the story. In fact, I am not even sure if the 'cottoned' is an error or some slang term used where the author comes from. Despite this, I found it to be an enjoyable read and I would recommend it to those who enjoy suspense.

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October 20, 2012

Book 46 of My 2012 Goal

White Rabbit (Omnibus Edition)White Rabbit by Stuart Oldfield
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

White Rabbit by Stuart Oldfield starts off as most books do introducing the main character which is Simon Cadwallader and setting the location. The story starts off innocent enough and we learn it is Simon's birthday and he is visiting his young daughter at his ex-wife's house. His daughter has a white rabbit that she named Loofah which is kept in the yard although Simon did see it in the house or at least he thought he did. Simon leaves the house feeling really down and pulls over at the side of the road and this is where the story becomes strange.

It reminds me of the story of Alice in Wonderland when she fell into the rabbit hole only this altered reality would make Sigmund Freud blush. When I first came to this part, I was ready to put the book down never to pick it up again. All the while I was wondering what kind of drugs the author was on because this 'world' had to be the side effects of some really powerful stuff. I figured I would read just a little more to see if it gets any better and to my surprise I found myself really drawn into this strange world where Simon can't remember where he was going or even his name. The only name he can remember is Loofah and he thinks that this is his name. I wasn't turned off by the strangeness any longer instead I rather enjoyed the author's imagination and his beautiful use of words. He describes these places in great detail although it was never boring nor was it an overkill of details. In other words it didn't stall the story yet it was enough so I can actually 'see' the place and the happenings as I read. His knowledge and use of words grabbed my attention and I envy his ability to write with such passion.

In this world the road signs have letters swimming about them but not spelling anything and have to be coaxed to do their job and tell him which town is which way, dogs that talk and dress in uniforms, plants that want sex and molest you if you stand in one place too long and so much more. I found myself laughing out loud at some of the situations that Loofah finds himself in because among all this weirdness where nothing is what it seems the author had the ability to include a lot of humor. My favorites are the scene at the cinema when he wanted to see a movie and the sign said Aliens 1 and Aliens 2 now playing (I swear that ticket girl is my mother) and also the computer that talked to him, egged him on, badgered him the whole time then tried to bite him with the keyboard. (I told you this place was weird). These were just in the beginning of the book. There are pages and pages of humorous situations as well as sexual ones. It amazes me the way the author can make going to the gas station for gas such a hot and sensual experience.

The whole time Loofah was in this strange place he was looking for the way out to go back to the life he had forgotten. He learns that he is like a chess piece in a game that is being played only he cannot tell right away who is friend and who is foe. He has a task to do although it is not clear at the beginning and he is told he must complete the task in order to go home. On this quest he encounters others but can't tell who is telling the truth and trying to help him and who is trying to do him in. Everyone poses as being helpful, but it seems he never gets a straight answer just 'riddles' (for lack of a better term) that he needs to figure out who or what they are, such as; 'Two Sides of the Same Coin' and 'The Woman who looks both ways'. As the story progresses more and more becomes clear although Loofah encounters other strange creatures and the danger intensifies despite his determination to go home.

Once I got use to the 'weirdness' of this universe which was shortly after Loofah 'arrived' in this place, I really loved the book. I admit it is really long since it is four books in one (Book 1: The One Who Is Two, Book 2: Friends and Enemies, Book 3: Red Tape, Book 4: Woman Who Looks Both Ways) so it is far from a quick read. I would recommend this to adults only due to the sexual content and the language. Hats off to the author for such a great story.

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October 16, 2012

Book 45 of my 2012 Goal

Key West Bounce: A Jack Marsh Action ThrillerKey West Bounce: A Jack Marsh Action Thriller by Mike Pettit
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Key West Bounce is one of a series of books in the Jack Marsh Action Thriller. I think it is the second book, "Smackdown" being the first and I don't know if any more are planned in the future but my guess would be "yes" since two books make for a very limited series plus the ending of this book hints at another thrilling adventure of the main character, Jack Marsh. The reason I am making you aware of this is because I did not read the first book so my review is on "Key West Bounce" as a stand alone book.

Jack Marsh is the owner of the Sand Bar in Key West. Jack being an honest man is offered a side job that will either be the death of him or make him very rich. Maybe it was due to his past Marine experience in Kuwait and Baghdad that keeps him wanting some sort of adrenaline rush from danger or maybe it is as simple as pure greed but Jack chooses to take the side job of finding and bringing out some sunken gold from the Florida Straits. He knew it would not be an easy job because of the Cuban DGI and others would claim the gold as theirs and have no problem killing him for it.

The author, Mike Pettit, gives a gradual introduction to the main character and the major plus minor characters. I thought the characters were well developed and this was not done all at once which would have boggled down the story with all these details. Instead, the background of the characters were worked into the story at the appropriate time giving just enough information to make sense of what was going on at the time. Although there were a lot of characters throughout the story those that played minor roles were not developed to such detail that it filled pages of unnecessary information about their backgrounds. Again, the author provided just enough information on them to make sense of their roles in the story without bogging it down.

Usually the beginning of a story where the introductions to the characters and the setting is described is a slow spot in the book and at times boring but that is not the case here. I was never bored or really found any stalling of the story. It always progressed forward and that usually meant someone was about to kill or be killed (or at least try). There was enough kidnapping, killing, stranding, beating, and betrayal to satisfy my action craving. The story itself was a fast-moving, action packed adventure. (Can we hope for a movie or TV miniseries?)

The settings were described in such detail that it felt like I was there and watching the action taking place. I am not talking about just one major event lost among the pages, I mean that with just about every turn of the page something was going on. Some of it was serious in that it was a matter of life and death and many did die, but at times it was amusing with some of these characters and their actions. I really had to laugh at the way the cook fished and the feast he prepared. It was believable at most points as there really could have been sunken treasure (still can be) and adding to that believability was the fact that the author mixed real history with it. I did notice a few editing errors however, they were not that distracting.

At no time did I feel I was at a disadvantage by not reading the other book in the series. Key West Bounce does stand on its own and I highly recommend it.

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October 3, 2012

Book 44 of my 2012 Goal

One Rode inOne Rode in by Albert Zayat
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

One Rode In was one of the most difficult books I have read yet. I don't even know how to review it since I really didn't understand it. There was so much psychological and mystical stuff going on that one thing I can say is it is not boring but that seems to be my problem, for me there was too much going on. Don't get me wrong, I understand the story as a whole, it is about Cal, a writer who goes to a town called Fate to write about a bar shooting that took place about 14 years ago that somehow missed the headlines back then. Cal was lucky enough to unearth it and he really needed to do a great story to save his job as a writer. In fact, I really enjoyed the part where he is at the bar and discovering the life of Malcolm but I don't get all the 'weirdness' of the story. By this I mean the mystical things and brother thunder and sister lightning, the three brothers, the watch going backwards, Master and Mother, Bobbles, the Dr. on the radio, and all this was in the beginning including more, never mind the pages after pages of the rest of it. I sat reading for hours and put the book down just to ask myself "what did I just read?" Now this does not mean the author, Albert Zayat, was a bad writer, on the contrary, he is excellent but what it means is I am not into this deep of a psychological thriller. I am more of the kind of person that enjoys reading before bed and I do it to relax not to lose sleep trying to figure out what just happened or what it was that I just read for the past few hours.

The author has a style all his own and his descriptions and use of words were excellent but at times that was the 'fault' in the story. After reading page after page of description of something which really was a great description but it had nothing to do with the progression of the story and just seemed to add to my confusion and frustration. But then again, maybe this is the psychological part that I obviously and freely admit that I didn't understand and by not understanding this book I can't honestly give a good review. My review is suppose to be my personal experience with the story and as I said I got the plot but missed the whole jest of it so I am just giving a neutral rating. Understand though this doesn't mean the book is no good or the author should stick to writing directions on milk cartons, it means it was not the kind of book I enjoy reading or understand. I think the imagination of the author is outstanding and I would even go as far as to bet someone who really is into this psychological and mystical stuff would enjoy this book immensely and the author's unique style of writing.

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September 20, 2012

Book 43 of My 2012 Goal

Blood Amalgam (Crimson Chronicles, #1)Blood Amalgam by Corey Sondrup
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really wasn't sure what to make of 'Blood Amalgam' when I was trying to decide if I wanted to read it. I knew it was a fictional, paranormal romance that sounded fascinating and I love stories that include "supernatural" elements in them so I figured I would try this one. Once I started reading it I was hooked into reading the whole thing because the action started on page one and continued throughout the book. There was something going on with each turn of the page that made me want to continue reading it to find out what happened.

I do not want to write a spoiler but in all fairness I should tell you that I do not like Vampires and Werewolves. I normally don't read such books and the mere mention of them usually turns me off. They are mentioned and other 'supernatural' beings such as Drones, Pixies, Skinwalkers, and Amalgams to name a few but they are done in such a way that they are not the main focus of the plot. In other words, this is not a Vampire story or a Werewolf story, it is a story about the main character, Wyatt, who's normal life of a twenty-one year old seems to take a turn to a life of decisions and confusion overnight. Wyatt learns who and what he really is (despite the fact that he don't even believe in such things) and must decide which path to take. I especially liked that the author used real historical events such as "The Long Walk" of the Navajo Nation in the 1860's. It was cleaver of her to alter who helped the Army to round these people up to make the 'reason' for the curse in her story.

This, to me, is a fast moving story but some of the characters are not well developed so I had a problem connecting with them. In fact, I had a problem remember who is who and had to go back and find how this person fit in. I wish that these characters were either developed more fully or just left as a nickname that popped in and then out of the story and not reappearing later on where you have to remember who this person is. I also didn't really care for Gretchen's nickname for Wyatt which is, "Lover". I can't really say why I disliked it, it could be that they weren't together that long and it cheapens "love" or maybe because she said it so much, maybe both but whatever the reason I do know it was annoying me. Also, I don't think a man of twenty-one would like his girlfriend to call him that in public. It is one thing to call him it in private as a pet-name behind closed doors but not in public around strangers. He didn't want to be called "Tigger" in public and "Lover" is even worse. Any ways, that is just my personal thoughts and opinion about it but thought it was worth mentioning since I found it so annoying.

I have read other reviews and they spoke about the grammar/spelling errors. I don't know if I was just into the story but I really didn't notice them. If they were still there then it didn't take away anything from the story to me. On the whole I thought the story was good and the author cleaver in his use of history. Because of the language used I would recommend this book to adults who like paranormal romance with a lot of action.

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September 14, 2012

Book 42 of My 2012 Goal

The Nose Knows: A Spunky MysteryThe Nose Knows: A Spunky Mystery by Holly L. Lewitas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Nose Knows by Holly L. Lewitas is an extremely amusing tale about a psychotherapist who is overcoming an incident that took place years prior when one of her patients became violent and took her hostage. She finally now is continuing to 'see' her patients via computer when something very strange and terrifying takes place. This is the main plot, I won't recap what the whole book was about since you can already read that but what I will tell you is that there are things going on with every turn of the page (I don't write 'spoiler' reviews so I won't go into them) and the story is told by Spunky, her female terrier.

At first I was confused since I couldn't figure out how this would work because I thought this would be more of a child's story since the dog is telling it yet the plot is certainly not a child's story. From page one to the end I was delighted with the author's ability to make this work. The story had just the right amount of humor, suspense, mystery, and something I am not sure just what you would call it but most people who have animals experience it at one point or another. It is sort of an ESP that is connected with the animal where you 'understand' what the animal is thinking and/or feeling. Any ways, there is some of that and also the use of animals for therapeutic reasons. The story never was boring and throughout I figured I knew what was going to happen or who did it just to find another twist taking me in a different direction. I found it extremely hard to put down the book since I wanted to know what the next page held and was sad to see it end. Speaking of ends, what a twist that ending was!

The animals in the story only add to the amusement at times with their antics and now I know the real reason why my dog runs and sort of whines in his sleep. The animals play spy, match maker, companion and protector among other things. The dog's view of death, grieving, relationships, and depression for both humans and animals is explained. As I said this is not a child's story although I am sure some young adults would understand and enjoy it. Even if your not an animal lover this mystery story still stands on its own and is still a must read.

I totally enjoyed this story and I am amazed with the author's ability to put so much foresight and her ability to write from an animal's point of view. The explanations of animal behavior such as a cat that swishes her tail or closing her eyes twice is amazing. Most people wouldn't have even noticed such things so I imagine a lot of watching and studying animal behavior took place before she wrote this book. Hats off to the author, your observations certainly paid off!

I recommend this mystery to anyone from young adult on up whether your an animal lover or not. This is one book going on my "Must Read" list.

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September 8, 2012

Book 41 of My 2012 Goal

Ryan's mother (Mooney's Detective Agency)Ryan's mother by Grainne Maher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ryan's Mother by Grainne Maher is what I would call a quick read with a simple plot. As the name suggests, the story is about finding Ryan's mother. Ryan Murray was adopted from an orphanage in Ballyhasset, Ireland and now he is searching for his birth mother. All he knows is his birth mother was Irish and he was abandoned in a phone booth in the center of Ballyhasset. To help him locate his birth mother Ryan is recommended a private detective named Libby Hargrove who he hires. As the story goes on Libby narrows it down to three possibilities since each of these three were pregnant at the right time but none admitting right out she is his birth mother. In the nineteen forties unwed girls who were pregnant were not acceptable by society which leads to the 'secret' stories each of these women had to tell including Libby herself.

I found that the story at times drags on but just when I was loosing interest in it something new happened which made me wanting to read more. I realize the author needs to set the characters and plot in the beginning of the story so many times the beginning seems to drag when the rest of the book glides along at a steady pace and this book is no different. I found the beginning a bit boring but the rest of the book held my interest more or less. The characters and scenes were described well but I feel that something is missing. I really can't put my finger on it but you know how you can read a book and it is like you are there in the room watching it play out? The book just draws you in so much that you loose time and nothing exists around you but that book. Well, this didn't happen. I was never 'drawn into' the story. I had no problem putting the book down and picking it up at a later time even though, as I said, the story itself wasn't all that bad.

The main characters, both Ryan and Libby, I found annoying at times. Libby jumps to conclusions and has a big mouth. She talked way to much for being a private detective and Ryan is now thirty and still using the titles of momma and daddy. I would think he would at least use "mother" and "father".

I would recommend this book for those who like a sort of detective story/mystery that is a simple and quick read. I think it is the perfect book to read right before bedtime since once you get tired you won't have a problem putting it down til tomorrow night when your curiosity makes you pick it up again to see what happens next.

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September 1, 2012

Book 40 of my 2012 Goal

Fibles: 10-Minute Children's Bedtime Stories for Modern-Day Kids!Fibles: 10-Minute Children's Bedtime Stories for Modern-Day Kids! by M. R. Everette
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

M.R. Everette's, "Fibles: 10-Minute Children's Bedtime Stories for Modern-Day Kids" is the perfect name for this book. It has a dozen stories that are all short in length (you can read one in 10 minutes easy) but they are not short on entertainment. With cute names like Wisee the wise owl, McKoo the cuckoo bird, and Ty the firefly the characters are easy for the kids to remember and each story teaches a lesson and gives the perfect opportunity for you to discuss how doing things like doing your chores, don't play hooky, don't judge a person by their size is important.

My personal favorite is "The Guppible One" which is about Gillmore the guppy who skips swimming school to nibble at the free lunch that the fishermen dangle from their lines for excitement. Turns out poor Gillmore got more excitement than he could stand, in fact, says it was the worse day of his life. When he went to school the following day he finds out that he missed a fantastic field trip to the aquarium sea show where they all got a free lunch from all the people at the aquarium and turns out to have been the best day of their lives.

I (and my grandchildren, ages 4 and 6) really enjoyed the book. I especially liked the opportunity it gives me to teach them valuable lessons that will make them responsible, friendly and trustworthy among other things and have faith others will too.

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August 4, 2012

Book 39 of My 2012 Goal

Bear CatBear Cat by Raland J. Patterson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have read several stories about the Vietnam War and Bear Cat by Raland J. Patterson is surprisingly different than the others. Instead of focusing on the action of the war itself, its focus is on Captain Johnny McKay's experiences in Nam as a maintenance officer giving very little detail on the 'action' of the war. This story is about the people during the war and not about the 'blood and guts' of the war itself.

I think Captain McKay character was well developed and I really connected with him throughout the story. The other characters were introduced and developed in accordance with their 'importance' (and I use this term loosely as everyone is important) in the telling of the story. By this I mean that if McKay only sees a person once in passing and says something to him, the author does not give a lot of detail about this person however if the person is one of McKay's men that appears throughout the story, much more detail is revealed about this person. In other words, the story is not bogged down with a lot of unnecessary details about people. In fact, it isn't bogged down with a lot of detail about places or events either. I found it flowed smoothly, was interesting and always had me wanting to turn the page to see what happened next.

The story begins with McKay's experience on the plane transporting him from Ft. Dix, New Jersey to Saigon where the significance of the exchange of words between him and the soldier seated next to him doesn't become evident until the end of the story. Once at his unit McKay tries to win his men's acceptance and learn the lingo and area. I found that because the author only gives a brief description but really does not go into a lot of detail about either of these (although the pictures helped) that having some prior knowledge about the Vietnam War helped me visualize the places as well as understanding that Charlie did not refer to an individual and what Tet was and why a repeat action was so feared. The story evoked a variety of emotions, I panicked, I laughed and I cried right alongside McKay. I never thought I would use the word "laugh" and associate it in any way with the Vietnam War however, the author taught me differently because laugh I did. I also learned some things about maintenance on helicopters as if I were one of McKay's men. Not only did McKay learned from those around him, he taught more than helicopter maintenance, he taught pride, compassion and giving credit where credit was due. He often remembered or quoted statements his flight instructor, grandmother, or father said which got him out of some really tight spots. I found the "Vietnam War Facts" and "Common Myths Dispelled" at the end of the book interesting. In fact, I found the whole book interesting.

Bear Cat is a unique story that I really enjoyed reading and totally recommend it.

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July 16, 2012

Book 38 of My 2012 Goal

The Church RetreatThe Church Retreat by Joel Tuggle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Church Retreat by Joel Tuggle is about a church group that goes on a retreat in South Carolina where two girls end up missing and not about religion or a church so don't let the name of it turn you off if you happen to be atheist. The book sounded like it would be a really good suspense, even scary but it didn't seem to live up to that description. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a bad book, I still liked it but I think it just could have been so much more mysterious/scary than what it was. The major problem I had with it was the under development of the character plus there were so many of them that we bounce around to as well as the story having too many subplots.

The story opens on September of 1971 when there were a few boys playing around with an air rifle, drinking from the beer bottle one of the boy swiped from his home and doing what boys do. Eventually they get into a bit of trouble so they run to a barn to hide and two of them end up missing. Now we come into present time, October 2001, a church group went to a camp not far from this barn. The children left the camp when Carrie, a thirteen year old girl, realized she forgot her book back at camp so Allison who was following the bus in her car took Carrie back to camp to retrieve it while the camp bus went into the next town since one of the children on it was not feeling well. The girls never showed up at town and eventually Carrie's father comes to look for her. There is a bad tropical storm coming so the local authorities are busy with preparing for that but eventually with the father's persistence someone is assigned to help him look for the missing girls. They eventually find their car and with the storm approaching time is of the essence to find them.

This part of the story is what I would say was the main plot (and a good one) but now we throw in some sub-plots of a drug cartel, escape, blackmail, a dirty sheriff, kidnapping, an affair, and a secret pot farm and this is only naming a few of them and it gets a bit confusing as to what is going on and who is who. I found the only one I could 'connect' with was the father looking for his missing daughter and I am not even sure if that is because of the author's development of the character or because I am a parent and remember how I felt when my eleven year old went missing (and that was for one only one day with no storm approaching) but for sake of argument I will say the author's development of this character is the cause since he was the best developed one in the book.

As I said before, despite my pointing this out, I did like the story. I especially thought the opening of the story was fantastic. Not only the whole 1971 chapter but the father when he was hunting. I thought that scene was just too funny when his phone rang and he saw who it was calling. I just wish there was less complications and more association between the missing boys and the missing girls other than this being the same general area. For example, the 'legend' of what prowls the woods (If you want to know what prowls the woods, you'll have to read it for yourself.) if introduced earlier could have been worked to lend to a real scary mystery of the disappearance of both sets of kids but it isn't really realized until the end. Speaking of the end, it really did tie up all the loose ends and also had a few surprising twists that I didn't see coming.

All and all, I thought it was a good book, a little complicated but good and I would recommend it.

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July 11, 2012

Book 37 of My 2012 Goal

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Deathloop by G. Bratley sparked my interest since I enjoy reading reincarnation and and other fictional subjects. In this story the main character Zack Fortune lets his best friend's wife, Clarissa, hypnotize him to bring him back to a past life. She warned him not to come out of it by himself and wait for her to bring him out of it. Zach experienced horrific visions and panicked and so he brought himself out of it despite Clarissa's warning . The next day someone standing on the edge of a roof calls out to Zack by name just before she steps off and lands at his feet with a deadly thud. That was just the beginning of his life spiraling out of control.

Weird things happened to him throughout the book such as people calling out his name and asking for help right before they died yet he never met him before, legal investigations and charges brought against him, and relationship problems. None of these were clear-cut cases of reading about the incident and moving along, they were very complex going off into different directions and involving so many other people that half the time I didn't know what was going on and found myself rereading pages. To me it seemed like the author wanted the reader to get to know too many people and the interactions among too many people which made reading very difficult. Not every person in the story has to be a major character nor do I need to know what they are thinking and doing all the time.

I thought the story would redeem itself when Zack and Veronica (Zack's girlfriend) went to Renfield and Veronica wend to the old church for to see the "Renowned Spiritualist Russell Garrity". When Veronica walks in she is welcomed and even expected but when Zack walks in not only is he told to get out, he is physically thrown out. It is shortly after this that Zack gets his phone number and calls Russell Garrity. He agrees to meet him so Zack (and I) can finally get some answers. Russell Garrity insists on meeting Zack on a old, small foot bridge since the meeting has to be over water which only adds to the climax of this meeting. However, the meeting turned out to be 'weird' and not all the answers were given due to the somewhat predicable outcome for Russell Garrity.

The reactions of the characters were unbelievable. The things that Susan said and did to Zack, Veronica, and everyone else for that matter were just unreal but what was more unreal is the reaction of these people to her. Zack with his bad temper I figured would have done something to Susan to keep her from showing up at the door and confronting his friends but he did nothing to her. In fact, even though she accused him of sexual assault he goes and talks to her. The 'mind games' she and Zack played throughout were annoying. The relationships between Zach and Jason, Zach and Veronica, and Zach and Sam really stretches one's imagination. I felt these were totally unbelievable so I am not sure exactly what the goal of the author was other than to write a fictional story.

I would not call this an enjoyable book because of the complex relationships between these people (physical, sexual, and physiological) or maybe I should rephrase it to say I would not call this an 'easy read' book. If you just want to relax with a book without having to concentrate on who is who and the chain of events then I would not recommend this book however if you're into soap operas and complex relationships with some strange and at times unexpected twists then this book is for you.

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