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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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