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December 26, 2013

Book Forty - One of my 2013 Goal

Bird Brains: Inside the Strange Minds of Our Fine Feathered FriendsBird Brains: Inside the Strange Minds of Our Fine Feathered Friends by Budd Titlow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love photography and birds so when I came across the book, Bird Brains: 'Inside the Strange Minds of Our Fine Feathered Friends' by Budd Titlow, I was really interested in reading it, the only thing holding me back was the price. Believe me, it was money well spent! Mr. Titlow not only tells his personal experiences (as both a wildlife biologist but photographer as well) the photographs of the birds are amazing.

The book is broken up into areas of where the birds were found and pretty much covers the US as well as touching on those on the Galapagos Islands. (I found that amazing since the Galapagos Islands is the only foreign land on my 'bucket list'.) The photos are approximately a quarter of a page so don't think this is a picture book (although it does contain these photos, it is not page after page of photos with just a sentence or two about the bird) because it is not and then he starts his description of the bird, its behavior, some personal experiences, what it eats, sometimes a little history and if it is a native species or endangered along with other related information that I found both educational and interesting.

Some of his stories are down right funny. I can't imagine looking through my camera to take a picture of a bird on the ground who keeps walking toward me getting bigger and bigger in my camera so I had to change my lens. Then it still kept coming until I finally had to move my camera and tripod because the bird wanted to walk right where I had it. I am not sure if I'd be shocked and sitting there with my mouth open at my fantastic fortune of being in the right place at the right time or on the ground laughing at this crazy bird who hasn't the sense to walk the other way.

I also learned quite a few things throughout the book about different birds. I know I will never look at a turkey or a bald eagle the same way again. Nor did I ever know there are birds that fly far enough in their lifetime to do a couple of trips to the moon and back. Even some of the more common birds that I have seen here in New England that are covered in the book have some interesting facts told about them that I didn't know and these are birds I see all the time.

The photos are outstanding! Although I will admit I wish there were more pages in the book so the photographs could have been bigger. Not that this is a short book (over 200 pages), it isn't what I consider short and every page is packed with information but those were some amazing shots. Speaking of the shots, the very last one at the end of the book is "haunting" as I can't get it out of my head.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes and are interested in birds.

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December 24, 2013

Book Forty of my 2013 Goal

Collection of Poetry and Prose: From Young MysticCollection of Poetry and Prose: From Young Mystic by Evan Shaw
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Collection of Poetry and Prose: from Young Mystic by Evan Shaw is a little different than any poetry book I have read in the past. I am not a poetry major and don't claim to be so I can't tell you about the structure of it nor the patterns, all I can tell you is that I do enjoy poetry which is why I read it and I can tell you what I see and feel about this book.

Evan's insight adds to these works of poetry in such a way that it goes hand in hand with the works, it doesn't take away or overpower any of it. His insight and knowledge is quite impressive. The collection of poetry and prose are varied with subject, time, and rhythm (some do rhyme, some not so much) as well as the overall 'feel' and I enjoyed it all even though some I thought should have gone just a bit further as they seemed unfinished in thought, such as "The New Atlantis." Then again, it is possible I am just not 'getting it' and their is nothing missing. It is hard to say because different people can all read the same poem or prose and it can mean different things. It is possible that is what is happening here. (I did enjoy it just the same.)

As far as the overall book is concerned, I found it oddly formatted. The whole thing was centered and at times I wasn't sure what I was reading, a poem, prose, or what. As I got into it though, I did get use to it and was able to tell (for the most part) which is which. I also wish the title of the poem was at the top of the page and I know this is just a formatting issue but it does take a little away from it because a couple of times I had to turn back to catch the title that was sitting on the very bottom of the previous page although the prior poem ended at the top of that same page.

I think anyone who enjoys poetry and prose will enjoy this even with (to me) the odd format of the book so I do recommend it.

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December 21, 2013

Book Thirty-Nine of my 2013 Goal

Of Man, Sun and StarsOf Man, Sun and Stars by Vasileios Kalampakas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Stories) Of Man, Sun, and Stars by Vasileios Kalampakas is composed of five different stories of science fiction and fantasy. Each one is a good story and a short read without fillers and a lot of unnecessary writing. The stories get straight to the point and although none really go into any great length of character development, the author provides enough so you understand who and what is going on without any difficulties.

As I said, all the stories are good but my favorite is Eden. It is something I would expect to see on an episode of The Twilight Zone. (Actually they all are! Maybe this author is missing his calling and should be writing for TV.) It was extremely entertaining due to the humor, the mystery of where the teens went, and the edge of your seat thrill to see if they get back in time. Although I admit, I didn't like the ending. (Not that it was a lousy ending, I just didn't like the outcome at the end of the story.)

I recommend this to anyone who enjoys Science Fiction and quick reads.

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Book Thirty-Eight of my 2013 Goal

Corey the Christmas Calf (Corey the Calf)Corey the Christmas Calf by Patty Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Corey the Christmas Calf by Patty Johnson is a children's book. I don't write reviews for every children's book I read, I write them only when I come across an exceptional one and this one really deserves that title. The children loved it!

I bought it to read to my grandchildren ages 4 & 6 while their mother went to the store being it was only 24 pages long I figured it would take their mind off the fact that they weren't with her for a few minutes and we could move on to something else to do. That never happened, we were still talking about the book even after she got back from the store!

The book has pictures, one every page of Corey doing something related to what was written on that page. They are fun and colorful so naturally each child wanted to see it before I turned the page. The text on each page was only about three sentences long so it wasn't like they sat there having to listen to a long speech. It was long enough to tell the story without any fillers or unnecessary information so it kept their attention. (Don't forget they want to see the picture on that page too!)

What I really loved is that there was a lesson to be learned by Corey. In this particular book it was about 'giving' and that Christmas is not all about receiving but giving as well. Naturally, Corey had no present to give so how can Corey give anything? The author answers that at the end as well as gives parents tips on how to teach your children about the virtue of giving to others and she don't mean just monetary donations. Great suggestions and some even a 4 year old can do. We spent a long time thinking of ways to give and discussing some of the suggestions.

I haven't read the series of Corey the Calf, only this one book that I picked out simply because it is Christmas time and this is a Christmas story so I can't say anything about any of the others but I definitely recommend this book for young children.

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December 20, 2013

Book Thirty Seven of my 2013 Goal

Seven Point Eight : The Second Chronicle  (7.8 , #2)Seven Point Eight : The Second Chronicle by Marie Harbon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

'Seven Point Eight: The Second Chronicle' by Marie Harbon is a very long story that fits into so many different genres/sub-genres I am not even sure where to put it. It is a fiction for sure but it also fits into: romance, mystery, sci-fiction, action, fantasy, horror, thriller, and I am sure many more. It sounds overwhelming but believe me, this author really worked it all in to create a glued-to-your-kindle type of story. With each turn of the page she had me wanting to know what was going to happen next because there are so many twists and turns and "where did that come from?" moments that I wasn't able to predict many of the outcomes at all.

This story dives deep into the characters and their development. I really don't recall reading a book in the past that was this deep. I know so much about the main characters that I sometimes even know their thoughts and that's all done as part of the story; it is worked in, in such a way where this development serves to heighten the story and my understanding of it. Even with this superior level of depth to the characters, I couldn't really describe the main characters as pure good or evil, it was more of a struggle between the two: where fairies come into the light, where inner demons hide in the shadows. It is what I call intense!

As far as the story itself goes, some of the descriptive scenes of other dimensions made me want to sleep with my light on. The author makes it so real that I could swear I smell the rotting flesh right along with the main character. Not only are these scenes described with such intensity but so are feelings. Although I don't really call the actual sexual acts in the book very descriptive (it isn't a hard core sex book) it does take place several times and while this is happening, it is the psychological (not the physical) descriptions that are amazing.

The main plot deals with the OOBE project and there are many layers and sub-plots to this story. I didn't realize it when I started the book but as I read on they developed right there between the pages which kept it a fast paced, action packed read. Now that I read the whole book I can say they are all handled in way that is not confusing and you are not left hanging on wondering what that was all about. I am not saying it didn't end with a twisted cliff-hanger because it did but all the loose ends are tied up and once again you are left with the question that needs to be answered in the next book.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fictions with love, tragedy, experiments of time/dimensional travel. (As I said, there is a lot more to this book but you really need to like at least those to enjoy this book.)

*I received a free copy of this book for my honest review.

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December 6, 2013

Book Thirty-Six of my 2013 Goal

Tales From Little Lump - Alien SeasonTales From Little Lump - Alien Season by Jeff Folschinsky
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Tales from Little Lump - Alien Season by Jeff Folschinsky is a short book, I guess you would call it a novella but what it lacks in length, it makes up for in humor. It is something I am glad I read in private because I just couldn't contain my laughter.

The setting is Little Lump, Texas and the main character is a older woman who is cranky (to say the least) but she sure don't take any 'funny business' from others, not even the aliens! I really do love her and she totally makes me laugh. The other characters are also great, the story couldn't happen or be this funny without them but I can't help but love Gertie!

I really can't say too much about the story as I don't want to spoil anything but put this town, a doomsday prepper, a conspiracy theorist, a bunch of scared town folks, and an alien together and you have what make this a fast moving, totally funny, quick read. I think anyone who would like a good laugh would love this story.

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December 2, 2013

Book Thirty-Five of my 2013 Goal

Paper, Scissors, Death (Kiki Lowenstein Scrap-n-Craft Mystery, #1)Paper, Scissors, Death by Joanna Campbell Slan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paper, Scissors, Death (Kiki Lowenstein Scrap-n-Craft Mystery #1) by Joanna Campbell Slan is the first full length book I read by this author and it won't be the last! This is one of those books that have you turning page after page wondering what is going to happen next and you just don't want to put it down. What even makes it more interesting is that I am a Scrapbooker so I can relate to it all the more than someone who isn't. This doesn't mean it is for Scrapbookers only because it is not. Everything is explained in such a way that even someone who never visited a scrapbook isle would understand it. What I mean by this is like being a photographer and the book mentions things like shutter speeds and going on a 'shoot'. We all, or at least most of us, know what these things are but someone who is a photographer can relate all the more than say I can (someone who never was on a 'shoot' and uses the automatic setting on a camera). This book is part of a mystery series and everyone who likes mysteries might enjoy this.

I shouldn't say mystery as far as the story goes, I should say 'mysteries' because it not only has the main mystery but in search of solving that, the main character, Kiki ends up with several mysteries but never lost sight of wanting to solve who killed her husband and why. (Since the author has this information in her book details, I don't consider it a spoiler.) Some of these mysteries are the kind when you read about them you think you already know who done it and where the story is going. Forget it! The most logical is not always the answer. There are many twists and turns that I didn't see coming.

Speaking of the main character, Kiki is a very well developed as a person. She has a life, memories, and hopes and dreams for the future. She has a daughter and someone she is 'attracted to'. Then of course she has a mother-in-law that basically blames her for her son's death and doesn't get along with her. There are also the friends she has, some very good ones as well as not so good. In other words, her 'life' in this book is very full and real as is she (as well as all the characters). Not everything happens to her is good nor bad. She is living a life full of family problems, real problems, and of course her mystery and all that goes with that.

Keeping with this author's style, there are instructions, suggestions, and information on scrapbooking scattered throughout the story. Not random stuff either! If one of the chapters is about Kiki making a scrapbook, at the end there might be suggestion on what basic supplies you need to make a scrapbook. It all relates to that chapter in some way but it is not at the end of every chapter so don't think you have to read a bunch of stuff you will never use or already know. It is only a select few chapters and clearly marked so you can skip over it if you already know or are not planning to ever make a scrapbook. It in no way interferes with the story nor is there so much of it that a quarter of the book is this information. It is not! As I said, it is just a few times throughout the story and I just think of it as a bonus. Also, I know I said this is the author's first full length book I read but the key words are 'full length" here as I did read the short stories which is how I got hooked. The problem is I read them in a row so now I don't remember if any are in this book or if they were only in the short stories but if someone is cooking something in the chapter, you might find a recipe at the end instead. (Another favorite hobby of mine!)

Speaking of ends....that was some cliffhanger!

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November 24, 2013

Book Thirty-Four of my 2013 Goal

A Kiki Lowenstein Short Stories Anthology Volume 1A Kiki Lowenstein Short Stories Anthology Volume 1 by Joanna Campbell Slan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kiki Lowenstein Short Story Anthology Volume 1 by Joanna Campbell Slan contains Kiki Lowenstein and the Soldier's Gift, Kiki Lowenstein and the Shark Bait, and Kiki Lowenstein and the TP Caper with excerpt from Wave Good-Bye. All of these were great short stories and I enjoyed the excerpt as well. I only read one other short story before these but what I can say about what I read so far is the author keeps her writing very easy to read so these even make great reading before bed since there is no need to take notes on who did what and when. These are all very easy to follow, great pace, not only believable characters but for the most part believable stories, and totally enjoyable.

Kiki Lowenstein and the Soldier's Gift was a little bit on the emotional side and hit a little too close to home for my comfort but just goes to show you how the story is mimicking reality in the sense that just because your at a crop doesn't mean everything and everyone will be just grand. Life as well as reality does come around and in some odd ways that you have no way to prepare for and you just have to deal with it.

Kiki Lowenstein and the Shark Bait really got to me most of the story. I wanted to grab hold of Kiki and shake some sense into her and tell her to stand up for herself. In this story she is still in college so in her defense, she is young. I was so relieved when she actually felt comfortable not fitting in with where she was and around the people she was with and picked herself up and got on with her life.

I was afraid this story was going to be one of those 'dumb woman' stories. You know the kind you see on TV in horror films where the woman is acting like she can't think for herself when the ax murder is in the house and instead of running the other way she just stand there and screams right before she gets chopped up. Well, it isn't like that I am happy to say. This story is more of her innocence and having to learn a hard lesson about love and wealth. Another believable story for the most part.

Kiki Lowenstein and the TP Caper was really a twist I wasn't expecting. Kiki has convinced me that I need to spend much more time at my local scrapbook store, I am just missing too much! Again Kiki finds herself in a situation where there was no way for her to know or prepare for it but has to deal with it.

I also am glad to have the recipes and information on some of the different techniques mentioned in the book (complete with website addresses so I can look it up.) Mostly, I am so thankful when I read that a portion of this anthology will go to the Wounded Warrior Project (again, website address given).

Seriously, how can a reader go wrong? Three great stories (warning: Kiki Lowenstein is addicting), recipes, instructions and/or information on different scrapbooking/cardmaking techniques, and helping our wounded military! This is a win/win/win situation in my book and I'm not even an author!

I did want to also mention the excerpt from Wave Good-Bye. I can so see this happening! In fact, I know it has and that is exactly how they do it. I know you don't understand what I am saying because I am not writing spoilers but let me just say from the excerpt that is in the book I totally believe the story so far including that so called customer's actions.

I recommend this book to every paper crafter and everyone who likes mysteries and young adult stories.

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November 20, 2013

Book Thirty-Three of my 2013 Goal

The Halloween Close Call (Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series, #8.5)The Halloween Close Call by Joanna Campbell Slan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Halloween Close Call (a Kiki Lowenstein Novella) (Kiki Lowenstein Series) by Joanna Campbell Slan is the first book I have read in this series. I really didn't know what to expect and I was so pleasantly surprised by the wit of the author to use such imagination to be able to turn a paper craft store owner who was so wrapped up in planning a crop around Halloween that her friends finally talk her into going to the farm for some fun into such a mystery.

The story is not that long but is priced fairly and it is easy to read plus if you are into any of the paper crafts you would understand it more and appreciate the events that take place all the more since you will be able to relate to it. Once more, any book that tells you that they ate this or made that and at the end of the story you're given some of the recipes and directions on how to make what they were making is definitely one step above average.

I also like how one book leads right into the next. This book leads right into Killer Paper Cut which picks right up where this leaves off. Speaking of leaving off, that was one great mystery ending!

The only thing I can say that remotely can be taken as a negative is that I am unclear which book is first in the series. I wish they were numbered clearly. It may have said inside and I missed it but even so, I read this book and it is a complete stand alone book and I didn't feel I was missing anything. Now there is good writing for you! The only reason it bothers me now is because I know I missed books and this one was so good I want to read them all.

I recommend this book to all paper crafters who enjoy a relaxing, easy read with a great mystery.

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November 15, 2013

Book Thirty - Two of my 2013 Goal

The Secret BurdenThe Secret Burden by Michelle Bybel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I started reading 'The Secret Burden: Letting Go of the Shame, Anger, and Guilt of Emotional Eating' by Michelle Bybel and in the back of my mind I was thinking, here we go again! This is going to be another one of those diet books with all the contradicting advise from one of these so called 'authorities' on how to loose weight and why you eat the way you do. I knew it was coming just by looking at the cover of the book, anyone with all those letters (LCSW, CHHC) is going to be saying what we all heard before, "you're eating because you were traumatized as a kid", "because your parents divorced when you were young", "because your mother did it", etc. Well, you know that old saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover" and I should have listened because it was nothing like that. I didn't even know I was an emotional eater!

The author entered this field because of her own experience struggling with her weight and tells what she learned, tried, what worked and didn't. If she knew what is wrong with doing this or that (which some do go against some of these so called experts advise) then she states it. She doesn't go with the flow just because others before her said this is how it is done. This is a real account of what she learned and she is coaching the reader on how to follow through with the variety of exercises (and I don't mean physical exercises, I mean writing, thinking, exploring, things like that but don't get me wrong, she does eventually get to the physical exercise) to change your own mindset.

The majority of the book is all about mindset, what it is and how to change it which is not something you can do overnight. In fact, it takes many weeks and months to do some of these exercises. The author also includes sheets, websites, and excellent instructions on how, when, and why. The directions are easy to follow and in some cases a matter of going to website and printing out a page to fill in the blanks. The stress is all on your mindset and for you to understand it, as well as understanding your own body both physically and mentally. Once you understand yourself and change your mindset, then you can work on really loosing weight otherwise you are going to be on that roller coaster of loosing weight just to put it right back on a few months later and make yourself miserable (and deprived of your favorite foods) in the process.

Then the exercises are put together and you create a personalized plan for you to follow. Don't worry, she tells you how and remember, this is a plan you put together using your answers on your exercises. This is not someone who barely knows you and hasn't a clue what your likes and dislikes are and you going crazy trying to follow a plan that you can't do or hate. You put together your own plan.

For once I have finally found a book that makes sense! I didn't know about "triggers" and totally enjoyed the practical and realistic advise as well as the totally doable sample recipes at the end. I also love that this book is about the total person and not just the waistline. If you don't do things for yourself and feel good about yourself then chances are not only will you suffer at meal time, you will suffer in the many other ways which are explained in the book. It totally makes sense!

I would recommend this book to everyone even if you don't think you have an eating issue.

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November 7, 2013

Book Thirty One of my 2013 Goal

The Cancer CodeThe Cancer Code by Andrew Findlay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found 'The Cancer Code' by Andrew Findley is a fast paced story but drawn out in parts. I was delighted to find it is not full of scientific details and bogged down with formula talk instead it is an easy to understand thriller about a scientist who finds the cure for cancer (and other diseases as well).

It starts off with a very interesting opening of Jim, the main character and a brilliant scientist who found the cure for a variety of cancers. He receives a letter under his door warning him he is in danger from men hired to do him harm. The letter tells him to leave now because they are on their way.

Although Jim found this 'cure' on his own he works at a drug company and signed a policy stating that any discoveries he makes while employed by the drug company are the property of the drug company. So naturally this drug company wants the 'cure' so they can sell it for thousands of dollars a bottle. Jim doesn't want to give it to them because he wants everyone to be able to afford it and wants to sell it for something like fifty dollars a bottle. So with the constant stalling by Jim to hand over the 'key' sequence the drug company takes matters into their own hands.

Jim was sort of an odd person, brilliant in science but not in relationships or 'life'. He sort of reminded me of the characters in The Big Bang Theory on TV. He was developed as a person but he is so...odd. The other characters were developed as well as they needed to be to make the story believable.

It was a good story and the whole concept of it is believable. I would recommend it to anyone who likes scientific thrillers, dramas.

*I received a free copy of this book for my honest review.

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October 15, 2013

Book Thirty of my 2013 goal

Death Never SleepsDeath Never Sleeps by David Grace
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Death Never Sleeps by David Grace is an excellent detective story that is captivating right from the beginning of the story with a wood chipper murder and stays just as interesting right until the end.
The author has the right amount of events so the reader isn't overwhelmed and the story even though there are more mysteries than who put the person in the wood chipper. There are plots and sub-plots in this story.

I am not saying there is nothing but this crime solving subject in it either;  it does have personal/career relationships that are developed. In other words, not only are the main characters developed as detectives, their working/social relationships are developed as well. Not everything is a good groundbreaking events either, disaster does strike which only adds to the believability of the characters, story and life as a whole.

The pace of the book was consistent from beginning to end. I liked that the author was able to bring these character's lives to life without slowing the pace down to a crawl. It kept me turning page after page and I do recommend this book.

*I received a free copy of this book for my honest review. This did not affect my review at all.

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August 3, 2013

Book Twenty- Nine of my 2013 Goal

Seven Point Eight: The First Chronicle (Volume 1)Seven Point Eight: The First Chronicle by Marie Harbon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Seven Point Eight: The First Chronicle by Marie Harbon is unlike any other science fiction, paranormal, fantasy I have ever read. It mixes actual historical events which not only help establish the timeline, it it is used to help validate the paranormal/science-fiction activities in the book. It also uses actual events to question what we perceive as reality all the while questioning and trying to answer fundamental questions, such as "does my life have a purpose?" Many of the questions asked throughout the story are ones that have been asked throughout time and scientists still try to prove today. Although this part clearly is not unique to only this book only, the way it is presented is. Including extensive talk of physics or should I say quantum physics, which was easy to follow. Clearly the author did extensive research before writing this book.

The main characters were believable and developed in varying degrees. I personally think the author did this on purpose trying to keep a bit of mystery around Tahra and not wanting the reader to know/connect with Max (at least until a later book). Despite this, I really like Tahra and the way she grew as a person throughout the story. Max is the type of guy I love to hate and I have a love-hate relationship with Paul.

Not only is there physics, there is mystery, romance, fantasy, and science fiction which seems like a lot in one story however the way the author mixed it, it resulted in a very interesting read at a nice pace. The balance between everything seems so natural and it never strayed from the plot although there were many twist and turns. I found it very difficult to put the book down.

I recommend it to all who enjoy science fiction, fantasy, mystery, and love stories/triangles.

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August 2, 2013

Book Twenty-Eight of my 2013 Goal

A Body Displaced (Lansin Island, #2)A Body Displaced by Andrew Butcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Body Displaced (Lansin Island #2) by Andrew Butcher is a great read that I just couldn't put down. It starts where book one 'A Death Displaced' left off. Although you could possibly read this book without reading book one since there are references to what happened in book one (which is great because it refreshed my memory), I still suggest you read book one first otherwise you would be missing so much.

A Body Displaced starts with Nick awaking from a bad dream. No! Not a dream, a nightmare. One that seems so real it brings back memories of when he had this type of nightmare before, only that one turned out to be a premonition. Was this a premonition? What did it mean? Nick tries to push it out of his head and is looking forward to his weekend getaway with his girlfriend, Kerra. True to the author's style that weekend getaway doesn't go as planned and once again, Nick finds himself with a mystery that needs solving. Not only does it needs solving, it is personal and needs to solve it fast since his freedom and quite possibly his life depends on it.

Juliet, who now has her grandmother living with her is busy with her own life. She still goes to sessions at the witch's house where she is being taught how to block out the ghosts. This allows her the power to control her 'gift' and try to lead a somewhat normal life. At least now she can go outdoors and not be terrified by all the ghosts that are around her. She finally has enough control that she even manages to go on a date with Austin. Not all goes as planned with her either and she finds out that even Austin is not who he seems.

The author did not take the personal lives away from the main characters in this book either. Both Nick and Juliet are also struggling with their family life. Nick now has Tom, his brother living with him. Tommy, his other brother (Tom and Tommy are twins) lives with his dad and hasn't spoken to them in months. Juliet has her mom and dad problems, still not getting over they lied to her. Juliet's mom doesn't know the grandmother is living with her and will have a fit when she finds out since they don't even speak to each other. Although this layer of family drama did slow the story down in places, I felt it really developed the characters and made them all so real.

The pace of the book was good. As I said, it did slow in parts but it was to build character or introduce/reintroduce other characters, it also contained what I consider vital information to make sense of the rest of the book. This multi-layered and multi-plot story always went forward and I didn't feel as if I was ever lost and didn't understand what was going on or what I just read. Although the switching between characters or plots may have seemed a bit choppy, I don't see any other way of smoothly doing it since for the most part because they were separate, coming together here and there until it all comes together toward the end. There was plenty of action between the murders, missing children, someone trying to kill Nick, someone almost killing Juliet, Nick being watched and followed, fights, torture, and sex, it was far from boring (and that isn't even all of it). As if that isn't enough, there was also the paranormal events of the Otherworld, magic, portals, ghosts, a dead person walking around, and trapped souls, just to name a few. And, this are all just in the main plot, the other personal layers are the soul searching, moral issues, family issues, work, lies, and grief that are going on at the same time.

Many of the questions I was left with at the end of book one were answered, such as what happened to Aldrich and Grendel Manor and if Nick and Juliet will get back together. (I have more but can't say for fear of writing a spoiler.) However, it had left me with a whole new set of questions and ended on a cliffhanger. I know the author did this on purpose since now I have to read the next book "A Spirit Displaced" to see what happens. Hats off to Andrew for another book well done!

I recommend this to adults who enjoy paranormal/mystery genre.

*I received an advance copy for the purpose of proofreading. (I hope I helped!) In no way did the author influence my review of the book.

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July 22, 2013

Book Twenty-Seven of my 2013 Goal

Chop Suey: A Darby Stansfield ThrillerChop Suey: A Darby Stansfield Thriller by Ty Hutchinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I started to read Chop Suey: A Darby Stansfield Thriller by Ty Hutchinson and put it down because I just couldn't get into it. Months went by and I picked it up again and I am so glad I did. I don't know if it was the mood I was in the first time I tried to read it or what but this imaginative and well written story had me turning page after page.

I admit that I did not find Darby, the main character such a likeable person. To me he appeared lazy and one of those people that don't want to 'work' for a living but wanted things handed to him simply because he was there. I understand he was a bit down because when he did work to get an account another person in the office ended up signing it right from under his nose and then rubs it in his face. Instead of getting over it and plugging away at it, he comes up with this scheme to make a fake company to hide the fact that he is working with organized crime overseas to help make them successful. Not only is he putting himself in risk but others as well. With all that being said, I do know people like this, not people that work with organized crime but I mean people that always looking for some easy way to do something no matter how legal or what it cost them or anyone else. Sorry to say Darby's do exist and although he isn't my favorite character, he certainly is believable and gets himself into some deep water.

The secondary characters were much more likeable. His co-worker/friend really adds the humor and then there is his girlfriend and I use that term loosely. Even the owner of the restaurant was developed nicely but for sake of writing any spoilers I won't say any more about these characters.

The plot is a great one. Not necessarily believable but then again the author never claimed this is a true story. I found some parts very surprising as it twists and turns along the pages while other parts were quite expected. So many elements were included in the story that it never was boring. I found humor, suspense, and of course there were murders. These murders were not only being done by the organized crime overseas (no surprise there but who is doing it and why was) but by a serial killer in CA. I guess you can say this is really a three part plot because there is the Darby trying to save his job and dealing with the organized crime, Darby with his 'girlfriend', and of course this serial killer in Chinatown, San Francisco. All these came together to keep the pace moving forward.

I totally enjoyed the book and look forward to reading the next one in the series to see what Darby comes up with next.

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July 14, 2013

Book Twenty - Six of my 2013 Goal

Demi Chat And The Kent Street MysteryDemi Chat And The Kent Street Mystery by Toni Brisland
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

DemiChat and the Kent Street Mystery by Toni Brisland is a very cute story. The main characters are Flannery and DemiChat. Flannery is a beagle who worked with the police department in Scotland Yard. He retires and is sent to live on Kent Street in London. When Lord Flannery arrives in his new home he is greeted by the beautiful DemiChat who is a French cat (loved Sherlock Holmes) and use to work modeling expensive jewelry for a jewelry store until the store was taken over by new owners and one of them was allergic to cats. As DemiChat was showing Flannery around they noticed a mystery right outside their window and off they go to solve it.

This fast paced story is sure to keep the attention of the young readers. The characters were all developed so complete that you can even see in your mind's eye how DemiChat stretches and hear her french accent as well as see Flannery with his big floppy ears. There are illustrations throughout the book to give visual reinforcements of the characters. You can also feel the sadness, excitement and other moods that the characters feel through the writing.

Since DemiChat is French and they come across Italian crooks, there are some French and Italian words used in the story. These words are few and very simple ones. They are either translated at the time of the writing such as DemiChat saying, "Oui, yes" or you can look up what someone saying "Manna mia" means in the list of translations at the beginning of the story.

I recommend this for young readers (my 10 year old granddaughter loved it) who like animals and mysteries.

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June 30, 2013

Book Twenty-Five of my 2013 Goal

Bobby on a stickBobby on a stick by Vasileios Kalampakas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bobby on a Stick by Vasileios Kalampakas starts off innocent enough but be prepared for a jam packed story of demons, shaman, ghosts/spirits, secret places, a gateway, crooks and a case of amnesia. Now throw some mystery and humor in there and you have the blend of this story.

The story opens up with Bobby driving down the road wondering what he was going to do. He has a job to pull off and his 'partner' went and blew himself up with an oxygen tank and blowtorch. He knew he would be killed if he didn't complete the job and as he was driving down the road he hit a rider and horse. The rider is a shaman and then things began to get really 'weird' from this moment on. I mean 'weird' in a good way though. I am a big fan of the supernatural plus mysteries so this fit right up my alley.

The characters were well developed and the story was ever moving. I must admit I did have some confusion while reading it but I am not sure why since I re-read the part I was having problems with and it flowed nicely and complete. I think it was because I had in my mind that the story was going to go one way and it didn't, it went another. That is another thing I can say about this story, don't think you know where it is going and what is going to happen next because chances are, it isn't going to go there. At least it didn't for me. There seemed to be surprises with every turn of the page.

I recommend this fast paced story to those who like supernatural, mystery, end-of-the-world, humor, and just plain 'a fun read'.

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June 11, 2013

Book Twenty - Four of my 2013 Goal

Rowan Blaize (Enchanted Heritage Chronicles, #1)Rowan Blaize by Jonathan Kieran
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Rowan Blaize: Book One of the Enchanted Heritage Chronicles by Jonathan Kieran is enchanting indeed. This is the first book I read that is written in epic verse and I loved it. I like poetry but just so much of it and I was afraid at first that I wouldn't like this book because all I can picture is the hard time I had with Shakespeare in school. Because of this I passed by the book a few times but it did sound interesting since I do like the 'magical and mystical' so figured I would give it a try. Once I read the first page, I never put the book down until I was finished. It went from intriguing to captivating that quick.

It is a story with humans, warlocks, witches, faeries, dryads and many other mystical/folklore creatures as characters. These creatures are all struggling to survive in a world where humans are taking over. To be honest with you I couldn't help but think how sad it is in parts....mainly because it is true. No, I don't mean that there are all these mystical creatures living among the trees (Or are there?) but there are deer and other wildlife that live in the woods long before humans came and cut them all down. If they could talk, I bet their story would be much the same as what King Narzell told to Rowan Blaize..

"Where once these forests teemed with faery life and jubilation, we find ourselves the members of a worn and shrunken nation.
Some say we should be grateful for what woodland still remains, for those within the mortal world who've always taken pains see that little forests, here and there, are well-preserved,
that tiny parks and trails for their amusement are reserved.
These 'habitats' of which they speak are stripped of inner-glory.
No longer lives the Magic Wood of ancient song and story!"

There is greed, lies and struggles as well as friendship, kindness and loyalty throughout the story. Speaking of what is throughout the story, much to my delight there are awesome illustrations that only add to the pleasure of this story. The poetry was not hard to understand as you can tell from the partial quote above. The flow and rhythm are excellent and the ending made me smile. I have nothing negative to say about this book at all. I am giving it five stars (because that is as high as they go) and I recommend it everyone.

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May 7, 2013

Book Twenty-Three of my 2013 Goal

Redwood VioletRedwood Violet by Robin Mahle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Redwood Violet by Robin Mahle is one of those books you should not open unless you have time to read it because you won't want to put this book down. From page one I was hooked on this fascinating mystery/crime solving read. The relationships and characters are all well developed and believable. (Although how can anyone really know if they are believable unless they were put in that circumstance but I imagine it is possible for them to act the way they do in the story.) The plot was complete and uncomplicated and the story never strayed away from it. I found the pace very comfortable and always moving toward the climax at the end.

I did notice some reviewers said they hated the ending and feel they wasted their time reading this or it was not a stand alone book but I disagree with both totally. First off, the author does state this is the first of a two part series so there will be another book. The ending as it stands right now leads the imagination to a conclusion without reading the second book. Is it a great ending? No! How can it be when the story hasn't ended? (There is still another book yet.) Does it give the reader some sense of what happens if they read the words, especially the very last sentence? Yes! So that is why I say it is a stand alone book and I can be satisfied with just reading this one story but I enjoyed it so much now I want to know which children were abducted by the same person and see justice served among other things. But isn't the whole purpose of the author writing a series is to get you so hooked on book one that you will want to read book two? I say this author did a fantastic job of that despite that I am a bit disappointed book two isn't out.

Katie Reid is the main character and she is living with her boyfriend (turned fiance) Spencer. She is living the perfect life in CA, the one she always imagined until she started having these nightmares. They weren't like normal dreams, these seemed so real that they started interfering with her life on many levels. When she uncovers the reason for the nightmares it changes her life in many unexpected ways. Her perfect life shatters and she at times even questions her own sanity. The path she chose (although it seems to be more of an obsession) takes her places she isn't sure she wants to be. Now there is a whole lot more to this story but if I tell you, there isn't much sense of you reading it. Lets just say relationships are made and broken, children are disappearing without a trace, and you really need to watch what you wish for.

Although the story involves police work on kidnapped, murdered and abused children and the questioning of sex offenders (adult subjects) there is really no swearing to speak of and no sex/nudity which I found so refreshing. However, as I said it is an adult subject matter so I would only recommend it to adults.

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May 6, 2013

Book Twenty-Two of my 2013 Goal

Above (Above, #1)Above by Mackie Burt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Above by Mackie Burt is a truly enjoyable fictional read that I wish was on every high school 'to read' list. The plot it is about life after death in a different sort of way. Certain people are so special that they become Guardians and have to go to school only this school is not like high school, the first book here is your life's story or to be more accurate, all the mistakes you made during your life. It is called The Book of Mistakes. Callie, the main character is one such person. She first needed to accept she was dead and then she as well as others in school tell about their lives. Much of the learning here is intense and experience can bring the reader to tears so have a tissue handy. It is extremely interesting about the lives they lived and the mistakes they made as well as the 'looking in' on those they left behind.

The writing style is good, I found it an easy read and even though it is YA read it captivated my attention and I totally enjoyed it. I also find it amazing the author is so young. (I will have to be watching for her on the bestseller list.) It is easy to follow and even though there are multiple people involved, they are all developed nicely. Many of them I couldn't help but feel their pain or sorrow as well as the happiness. It is one of those stories I got emotionally involved in which hadn't happened to this degree since Hunger Games.

This should be on everyone's must read list and I recommend this to everyone although I think females would enjoy it more than males.

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April 23, 2013

Book Twenty-One of my 2013 Goal

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Magick in the City by Zakariyya Ishaq starts off with one heck of an opening. It is the formation of a magical ring in London and a ritual murder in New York. Then the story starts three weeks earlier with Locke & Keys Investigations located in Manhattan, NY and tells a bit of history of the company as well as who the employees and partners are. One night when John Locke was in the office finishing up a letter he had a visitor named Walter Lewis who wanted Locke to investigate his father's disappearance twenty- five years earlier. Walter explains that his father went on this hunting trip with four friends and never came back and his friends said he just disappeared. When Walter asked his family, police, other people he got no where. Then Walter told Locke a strange tale about "Magick, Freemasonry, witchcraft, conjuring the devil, the occult, secret wars, old grudges against elite organizations, and other dark secrets".

I like reading before bed to relax but this is a story that I needed to pay close attention to because of the multiple story lines and there are a lot of characters and organizations throughout. In fact, I found I had a difficult time remembering all of them. Although I enjoyed the story I can't help feel I was missing something because of this.

I am not a professional reviewer, I just like reading books so please bear with me at my attempt to explain this. This story was written in a way that I ( as the reader ) was not drawn into the story, I was not part of it in any way but more like on the outside "looking in". I am not sure if that 'disconnection' was purposely done by the author or if it is just me and perhaps this is the part 'I was missing' as I mentioned above. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed the story as I said but this was just so odd to me to feel this way since I usually am drawn to characters and really 'get into' a story. Then again, this may have been done purposely by the author because if I had a close connection with a character or into the story I would possibly find this a nightmare and disturbing especially with the praying to and the conjuring of the devil.

The story is not a quick read by any means and there was something going on all of the time however I didn't feel the transition into these places or events were as seamless as they could have been so it was a bit choppy although it did come all together in the end.. The plot is good and stayed on course with the characters being believable for the most part. What I expected to happen and what did happen were usually two different things, the surprise factor was great. There was plenty of suspense, horror, and twists to keep me turning page after page.

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April 16, 2013

Book Twenty of my 2013 Goal

Nataliee's Alien Nightmare (The War Eagle Abductions)Nataliee's Alien Nightmare by Markus S Fredericks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nataliee's Alien Nightmare: The War Eagle Abductions by Marcus S. Fredericks and Bob De Long is interesting before I even began reading the actual story. In the beginning of the book it has a section about each author. According to this section Markus S. Fredericks has seen an UFO in 1967 in Washington. Through a chat room for fellow UFO believers Fredericks (now a believer) started e-mails with a fellow poster, Bob De Long. Apparently he (Bob) was abducted by aliens as a young man while he was in Cuba. Together they wrote this book which they call 'fact-based fiction' with Bob De Long's "ominous sounding message to the world".

The story starts off with a sheriff and his deputy driving down the road and seeing a girl walking barefoot in a fancy dress. He wondered if this could be the Nataliee Cunningham who was missing for three months, ever since her high school prom. She had gone to the prom and left it with her date, Anthony but was never seen or heard from since. Anthony was questioned and he told of some wild story about aliens and how they levitated Nataliee in a beam of blue light and took her in their spacecraft. Naturally no one believed his story and he was committed to an institution while everyone feared he killed Nataliee and buried her body somewhere.

Turns out this girl was indeed Nataliee, the main character of the story. Nataliee is well developed and even made more interesting by her sixth sense or better known as ESP. Nataliee recovers her lost memory and also confirms Anthony's story of her being levitated into a spacecraft. She said she was able to escape with help from other girls who were held captive there. They created a diversion for her to escape with the promise she would come back and rescue them. The spacecraft is in a cave on the side of a nearby mountain and she also tells of one very important person that she needs to rescue, her newborn son. Nataliee also shares what she knows about the aliens which include the way they 'take nourishment' and that there are different kinds of aliens with some sort of chain of command among them. She also tells how they use their weapons and how our modern weapons are useless against them and why.

The other characters in the story are developed enough for each of their roles. The sheriff and deputy seem like they are at each other's throats with the sheriff being very racist. They do really like each other in a weird sort of humorous way and remind me of Laural and Hardy hillbilly style. Anthony has deep feelings for Nataliee and his son that he hasn't even seen yet. The ones I would say are the least developed would be the other girls being held in the spaceship however their roles are not that huge of a factor in the story and enough is told about each of them so you get the understanding of who they are as well as how long they have been there and what they are going through.

The storyline which includes alien abductions and unfriendly aliens is nothing new. There are countless stories about that but what is new is the way this story is written with humor yet the storyline is not funny. It is also written with real alien encounters in mind and by that I mean that if you ever hear of real UFO sightings (we all heard about Area 51 and what they claim happened there) or the little 'greys' as so many describe them over the years, this story has those descriptions in it complete with the medical examinations and much more. It is a fast paced, humorous, chilling, and parts are downright sickening story all the way to the ending which I may add has me left with some unanswered questions. Then again, this would have been one of the authors goals since this is only the first book in the series. They would have wanted to give their readers enough to hook them yet leaving them with enough questions or curiosity to buy the next book and it sure worked on me.

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April 12, 2013

Book Nineteen of my 2013 Goal

Summary: Little Prisoners by Casey WatsonSummary: Little Prisoners by Casey Watson by Save Time Summaries
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Summary: Little Prisoners by Casey Watson is by Save Time Summaries. This is a summary of the book and not the full version book itself. This goes through each chapter in the book and summarizes the chapter and then notes the "Key Take-Away" point in that chapter. I really like the way this is structured and the summary of the chapter is enough to know what went on without the page after page of reading the full version of the book. The "Key Take-Away" is usually a sentence or two that condenses the summary down to a main point. For example; Chapter Five is three paragraphs long and about what Casey hears and observes from the two children that makes her think they were sexually abused. The "Key Take-Away" is one sentence long that states Casey believes the children have been sexually abused based on their comments and actions.

The Summary of...(insert any of their book titles here) by Save Time Summaries are great especially if it is a long novel that you were assigned to do a report on or have a test in. The summary would make studying a lot easier since it is the main points of the chapter and the key points. This also would be especially useful when you have a lot of dates or places to remember such as something in history like a war however on the book of "Little Prisoners" I think it isn't necessarily a good thing because it is like reading a review of a book that tells you what went on including the ending but the drama, the connection with the characters, the heartache and shock of it all is lost. In the book "Little Prisoners" all of that is part of the story, it is what gets the reader involved emotionally. Because it is non-existent in the summary I do not think it works for a book like this. I feel cheated because so much of the emotional part is lost.

So in short, I think the summary is great if you want to know what the book is all about and what happens without all the connections and emotions. The structure and content is good however if you are thinking this is a great way to read the book "Little Prisoners" in a short amount of time I am afraid you will be disappointed. So depending on what you are looking for, this may or may not be the way to go.

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April 11, 2013

Book Eighteen my 2013 Goal

Summary of Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity & Disease by Robert LustigSummary of Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity & Disease by Robert Lustig by Save Time Summaries
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Summary of Fat Chance: Betting the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Foods, Obesity & Disease by Robert Lustig is by Save Time Summaries and it is just that, the summary of the full version book. It takes key points of the chapters leaving most of the discussion and not so 'key' points. To me they are much like the Cliff's Notes I used to study for the test we were having on the novel we just read in school. Note that I said, "leaving most of the discussion" because it does contain enough so the reader understands the points it is trying to make. In other words, this is not pages after page of a list of key points from the book, there are paragraphs not lists and this reads and explains key points much like any other book would only this doesn't go into great detail. For example under "Learned Behavior or a Choice?" one of the paragraphs following talk about, "A recent alarming study reveals that even six-month-old babies are showing increasing signs of obesity." It makes the point that at that age the baby obviously didn't choose to be obese or have a choice of their food intake. What it doesn't tell me is who did this study, where, when, how was it done or any other details about it. I am not sure if the full version of the book has this information in it or not. So if you are interested in just the 'meat' of the full version book without the potatoes, then this is great. A real time saver! However, if you want to get deeper into it then you are better off with the full version book.

As far as the information, some parts made me say, "Big Deal!" Is it really a big deal that five of the government's major public health agencies agree that the cause of obesity is from eating too much while exercising too little? These are the same agencies that either did nothing or waited until many years later (and in some cases they waited until many more people died) before they did or said anything. Or better yet, they would say something only to pull a flip-flop years later. For example, The US Surgeon General in 1964 claimed smoking wasn't addicting. (Need I say more?) Besides, I know as a fact that not all obesity is caused by overeating and under exercise so I really don't care what they agree on. Besides, I am sure if we wait long enough one of them (if not more) will do a flip-flop.

Don't get me wrong, there was a lot interesting too. The one that stands out the most is the biochemistry and hormones in chapter four. I found the Leptin deficiency testing quite interesting but can't help wonder why it hasn't continued. This is such an important subject, as the book explains it is a worldwide issue that not only is a personal problem, it is a social one, one that is life-threatening to so many and the chapter ends with, "Further research is needed, but this developement definitely has many health professionals feeling optimistic". This is the sort of thing that make me think, huh? Shouldn't that read, "further testing is being done"?

So to sum it up, this summary is a good way to get the key points of the book without having to read the three hundred and whatever pages of the full version book. It is a great way to get the general subject of any one point so I know what to search for, for more details. (Example, I know the 6 month old babies are showing signs of obesity so I know that I can look up this study for more detailed information). It is a great time saver and well worth the cost.

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April 10, 2013

Book Seventeen of my 2013 Goal

From the Cauldron to the Cross: My Journey from Wiccan to ChristianFrom the Cauldron to the Cross: My Journey from Wiccan to Christian by Shari Hadley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the Cauldron to the Cross by Shari Hadley is one of those books I just can't put down. I started it in the morning and finished it that night and it isn't what I would call a short book. It is just so interesting and I got so caught up in this true story of a journey to be saved that I just couldn't leave it alone. I was interested to see the journey Shari took since I know many Christians and I know many Wiccans but I only know stories of going from Cross to Cauldron (Christians turning Wiccan) and not the other way around. I also would like to add, I do consider Wicca a religion and refer to it as such in this review.

Shari's childhood life was anything but normal living in a house where she was abused by her mentally ill mother and sexually abused by her father. Eventually Shari met Randy when she was eighteen and soon after went to college and Randy followed her. Two years later they got married and eventually had a son named Glenn.

Many things turned her off about being a Christian including the way they treat women in the Bible. Shari's journey into paganism began when she was attending her local state university. One day her class had speakers who practised modern-day witchcraft and she was hooked. She studied and practiced and was able to call on the deities for guidance and knowledge. In a dream an ancient celtic god, Cernunous came to her. She thought he came to her to show her that she belonged to him and he was her god. Later she found this not to be true. She was a solitary practitioner of 'The Craft' which means she did not join a coven. She was a loner who did it all; she cast spells; read tarot cards; carved runes; cast the sacred circle; summoned spirits; worshiped the sun, moon, and stars; celebrated the pagan holidays, and more. She was a good witch true to her religion and her deities.

She started to hear 'Them' The voices in her head that were like being in a crowded room where everyone is talking but you can't make out any one conversation. She shared this with her husband who was concerned. They were getting more frequent and she was afraid, afraid of being labeled schizophrenic or put on medication so she declined talking to a psychologist. Then the dreams or I should say nightmares started. Weird things and so graphic, depicting every form of violence known to man. She would feel an evil presence in the room and sometimes see a dark shadowy figure at the foot of her bed. She kept telling herself there were no such things as demons. She knew all supernatural powers were good, evil only lurked in the heart of humans. She knew this because she was enlightened, her beliefs told her so.

A few days before Glenn's sixth birthday Shari was expecting Randy to come home and heard a car coming in the driveway only to find that there was a state trooper and a chaplain in it to inform her that there was a car accident and her husband did not survive. It was shortly after this Shari questioned her beliefs. She asked where her goddess was that she so faithfully served for nine years. As the doubt entered her mind and she realized she had no one to turn to since her goddess obviously isn't there for her (Or does she even exist at all?) the door to Christianity slowly opened for her.

I found what follows some of the most interesting parts of the book. The subjects about the spirits and manifestations, the voices and what they turned out to be, and the answers to the many questions that Shari had about Christianity. One of the question she asks is one I had myself. If Christians aren't polytheistic (belief in or worship of more than one god) then how can the Holy Trinity not be considered polytheistic? It consists of "the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; that is three, not one." The answer was very clever so anyone could understand it. I learned quite a few things about both religions in this book.

I found this story bittersweet in parts, scary in others, and heartwarming in others. Grab some tissues just in case because it pulls at your heartstrings. I found this journey to salvation extremely interesting. She wrote with honesty and as I said I learned things from this story I didn't know. It is the close inspection of her beliefs that really speaks volumes (both as Christian and Wicca) it is just so tragic it had to happen this way. I recommend this enlightening story to both Christians and Wiccans. In fact, no matter what your religion is, I think you can learn something from this book even if it is nothing more than ways to examine your own faith.

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April 9, 2013

Book Sixteen of my 2013 Goal

Kaylee's GhostKaylee's Ghost by Rochelle Jewel Shapiro
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you like reading about ghosts, psychic abilities, family bonds and everyday life that is not so much an everyday day, then Kaylee's Ghost by Rochelle Jewel Shapiro is the book for you. This delightful story will keep you turning page after page. It is far from a typical boring 'soap opera' story. The plot is great and has so many twists and turns it kept me guessing who was going to do what next. I didn't read "Miriam the Medium" and was not at a loss as this book stands on its own.

Both Miriam and her granddaughter, Violet have psychic abilities but it must have skipped a generation because Cara, Miriam's daughter and mother to Violet does not. Not only can they 'see' things that will take place in the future but they can in the past as well. Top it off, they can talk to and see ghosts or spirits as some call them. This becomes a real problem when Miriam encourages Violet's gift despite Violet's mother's wishes to have her lead a normal life. As it is Violet already has no more friends. She isn't invited to parties or to play dates because she doesn't understand you are not suppose to tell everyone's business in public. She would blurt out things about the other child's parent and when the parents found out that she was telling their secrets (Your mother is having a tummy tuck today!) they wouldn't allow their child to play with her and would even go so far as to switch their classrooms so they didn't have to be near her. This 'gift' was more like a 'curse' in Cara's eyes.

Miriam does readings and has her normal clients. One of these clients is Kaylee who contacts her often for a reading. Kaylee had just lost her mother not long ago and she was thinking of going somewhere to 'relax' and her mother told Miriam to tell her not to go. Miriam knew how much Kaylee needed this 'vacation' and told her to go but it ended with disastrous results and now Miriam blames herself for lying to Kaylee. She knew if she had told her the truth, Kaylee wouldn't have gone and none of this would have happened. This really turned Miriam off about being psychic and gives up her clients and learns to ignore her abilities.

In the meantime, Cara is having a crisis in her marriage and they don't see eye to eye about how to bring Violet up or how to deal with her abilities. There is a lot of tension in the family and things come to a head when Violet disappears one night from her bed. The whole family, in laws included must come together for Violet's sake and their own. Not an easy task when ghosts are involved and there is so much guilt, resentment, even snootiness but this is either a bonding time for them all or a time that will rip them apart forever.

I realize I am not making it sound interesting but believe me it is. I just can't write more because I don't want to put any spoilers in it. It was a great story and the characters were all fully developed. I couldn't help feel a connection with them and when little Violet was in a crisis I even could feel my own heart sink. You may need a tissue box not far offhand but be prepared for some laughs too. I recommend this book!

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April 5, 2013

Book Fifteen of my 2013 Goal

A Spiritual Journey Into Quantum Reality (Volume 1, A 21st Century Owner's Manual for Humans)A Spiritual Journey Into Quantum Reality by Bonnie Jean LC
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don't even know where to start with A Spiritual Journey Into Quantum Reality: Volume 1, A 21st Century Owner's Manual for Humans by Bonnie Jean LC and Michael Green MD. I guess I should make it clear that this is not a story, it is more of a 'how to' book. The authors explain what, where, why and how from the very basic such as happiness to the more "weird" of Quantum Physics. In short, it is about the quantum science of spirituality.

The goal of the authors is to show how we all live our lives in a world that is not real and explain how to change it. According to the book we live in a reality that we each create and live our lives against the constant ticking of a clock. Time is the key because there really is no time, there is only the here and now. This is the quantum reality as it really exists. Until we accept this and change our way of thinking, feeling, and experiencing life we are all living in a made-up reality where pain, darkness, and suffering exist. A world with limits and where spiritual growth is difficult if not next to impossible.

The way the book is structured is very easy to read although to be honest with you, it would help if you have some knowledge of quantum physics. I don't so I am having a bit of a time with it but I am not totally lost thanks to the authors explanations which are put in everyday terms complete with diagrams when needed. Many times they are actual personal events that are picked apart piece by piece so the reader can understand what is being said as well as the references to experiments and studies that were done. So why am I having a hard time with this book? I just can't grasp some of the concepts. I understand what is being said, for example: "The holographic principle states that each point on a 2D (flat) holographic picture will contain all the information needed to form the complete 3D image". I know what a 2D and 3D picture is so there is no problem there, it is when we cut a 2D holographic photo into many fragments and every piece of it will project a 3D image which is complete in every detail that I get lost on. I also can't get over that time does not exist, it is an allusion as well as death. If that is the case then I have to think in the here and now because there is no such thing as yesterday or for that matter tomorrow.

On the other hand, there is a lot that I do understand although I never really think of it on a conscious level. Subjects like attitude, meditation, mind over matter, and thinking vs. consciousness which I found very interesting. Another area covered is right brain and left brain thinking and the differences. I also found the whole topic on thought/mind/ego interesting plus the way that quotes either from the bible or just different people are used. The quote itself may make a bit of sense when reading it but after the explanation is given then the quote, it really makes sense. For example as I said earlier, time doesn't exist and then quote from Wheeler, "The past is only theory and it does not exist until invented by one's mind (Thought/Mind/Ego) to explain its observations of apparent beginnings and endings." Now I understand the quote even if I don't really understand time being an illusion.

This is the type of book that I can't read and understand all in a few days or even weeks. This needs some reflection and investigation as well as time to 'just let it sink in'. It is one which I will have to read certain chapters over and over to understand it and of course there is a possibility that I never will 'get it'. After all, all things are possible and miracles happen everyday.

With the authors recapping and restating what is learned in each chapter and the recalls from one chapter to another (what was learned) as well as all the reference studies, I think any reader with an average IQ can understand this book if they are willing to put the time into it. As I said, I don't understand the whole thing but even I have gotten some useful information I can use to create harmony in my life. For this reason, I do recommend it.

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April 4, 2013

Book Fourteen of my 2013 Goal

Mayan InterfaceMayan Interface by Wim Coleman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mayan Interface by Wim Coleman and Pat Perrin is a great read. I know very little about Mayan history and computer programing so I can't tell you how realistic any of this is but it still engaged me in its magical grasp. Once I started it, I hated when I had to put it down. It is not packed with action scenes nor is it a boring history book but it has both action and history in it and so much more. It is a mystery that has me looking at history a little differently and makes me wonder, what if? It is also about the spiritual with the Uay and mystical with the Zaztum and so much more.

The main character is Lydia Rosenstrom who is an archaeologist and shaman exploring Mayan ruins and translating Mayan glyphs in Yucatan but she leaves Yucatan to go to Portland. Her niece works at a museum there and is making an exhibit that has a virtual reality (VR) stroll through Mayan temples so visitors can see how the village looked. There are these plastic bubbles and the visitor stands in and puts on this type of headgear that allows them into this virtual world of long ago. When Lydia learns her niece died of fright in one of these bubbles she stayed in Portland to try and find out what had happened to her. How did she die in the virtual world as there is nothing in there that would cause a death unless someone tampered with the program, but who? She suspected the one person who has his own private access to this world, but why would he do such a thing?

This is not the only thing going on in the story although to me it is like the main plot, the one that starts the rest (aside from the fact that Lydia is trying to translate the glyphs). I have said enough about the plot since I don't want to give any spoilers but what I will say is that there are many layers to this story each holding its own magic, mysteries and warnings. There is another member of Lydia's archaeological team back in Yucatan and the storyteller is telling stories to him.These stories are things passed down generation to generation and a lot is learned about the Mayan through these stories. Also, a lot is learned by Lydia's experiences in the VR world. Not only about Mayan history but about herself and reality. All of these are braided together in this cleverly written story. Just as three strands in a braid are separate but are twisted in a way that they come together time and time again to make one braid so does this story. At no time did I feel I couldn't grasp what was going on nor did I feel like I was bounced from one thing to another. Instead, this was written with such fluidity that it was seamless and flowed naturally.

The authors described the scenes so spectacular that it was like I was in that VR bubble since I could see it laid out before me. It was extremely easy to visualize and if you are cooking dinner and you also smell that incense, put the book down and turn your stove off. You just burned dinner so you are having pizza tonight! (I did that, that is how engrossed I was in it.) Even the characters were described beyond the usual and they were all well developed.

While reading the book, I was on the edge of my seat a few times wondering what will happen next. Then I would put the book down to make dinner (more like burn dinner) or sleep and I would find myself wondering what if certain things were that way? Is reality something we only perceive on one level although there are many that make it up? Are we who we think we are? Is she who she thinks she is? It had me guessing all the way to the spectacular ending.

I highly recommend this book.

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March 30, 2013

Book Thirteen of my 2013 Goal

The Bones of OthersThe Bones of Others by Vickie McKeehan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Bones of Others by Vickie McKeehan is another one of those books I just couldn't put down. It is a fictional story about pedophiles and human slave trafficking of young girls which sounds like something I wouldn't want to read since it is so negative but it also deals with survival and even a little bit of revenge. What I found so memorable is the way that the young girls are abducted. It is so real, so scary and as a parent I don't think I would ever look at a picnic in the park the same way again. As I said it is fictional but it is very realistic and believable as far as that goes.

Skye Cree who is part Indian is the main character. She was abducted as a child, raped but managed to get away. Now as a woman she learned fighting techniques and is excellent with a knife. She walks the streets to look for the pedophiles to put a stop to their actions and most importantly to find the girls that she knows were abducted by these monsters. She knows that they have their way with them until the ship comes in and they are smuggled on board to go to some foreign land to the highest bidder. So time is important and she must find them before they are shipped off.

Skye who was in pursuit of a pedophile happens to see a man in need in the alley way. He is being robbed and there are four thugs beating him. Skye comes to the rescue and no one is left standing however she now lost the trail of pedophole. The guy she 'saved' turns out to be Josh Ander who is owner of a gaming company. Eventually they join forces but they are not alone. There is a bit of 'legend' and the 'spiritual' or maybe a better term is ' Indian Folklore' that comes into play and we learn about Kiya. I thought this was a fantastic twist on the story. The most memorable part is the first time I read about Kiya and she tells Skye, "Remember, Skye Cree, the hunt isn't always successful. There will be another night, another hunt, you must never give up. Your path in life was set long before you were ever born. Find those that need you. They cry out in fear and pain. They are bound, kept hidden, locked away. Seek them. Set them free, Skye Cree". (Partial quote from Chapter two.) It made it interesting and answered a lot of questions. Not only was Skye trying to seek out these girls to set them free and find the monsters who abducted them, it was her fate to do so.

Another interesting twist is the former 'friend' (and I use this term loosely) of Josh's named Michelle. She was playing with a half a deck, if you know what I mean. She was the reason Josh was in the alley way to begin with. I can definitely relate to this situation and found it very believable and in a way a bit amusing.

Skye Cree and Josh discover many things together not only about themselves and each other but about the disappearance of young girls and the human slave market. Unfortunately, I found this also all too real. One only needs to turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper to see this is not a fictional crime. It even makes me wonder about all those children I have seen on the back of milk cartoons that went missing. Many to this day were never found. Could they have fallen victim to this fate?

The flow of the story was great and the characters were believable. The ending of the story at least gave closure to some. It is a story that will haunt me long after I read it. I recommend this story to all adults especially those with children.

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March 20, 2013

Book Twelve of my 2013 Goal

Tickle MeTickle Me by Monica Bouvier
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Tickle Me by Monica Bouvier is a romance novel that in parts have you at the edge of your seat. The story was interesting in most parts and I say it is interesting in "most parts" because the story is very long and it seemed to drag in some parts but the "interesting parts" make up for it. I just want you to be aware the pace is not even flowing and this is a long story but hang with it, you won't be sorry.

Alice is a twenty nine year old who loves Greek Mythology and lives in Alaska with her cat. She has never felt the passions of love and seemed to resign herself to that her fate is to live life without love. She had a low self-esteem and seemed like she was on the side-line of life just dreaming about becoming a participant. Then she started to get emails from a mysterious guy named Erik. As time goes by the emails become much more personal and romantic and all the while Alice not only falls in love with Erik, she changes from being on the side-line to a participant full force. The change in Alice's whole being from this depressed, low self-esteemed person throughout the story was amazing and refreshing to me.

Although I really didn't find the emails and some of the actions that romantic or erotic (to me it's more of a torture) I understand where Alice is and her views most of the times. I can tell you that her taste and mine are two different things but even so I was able to really get into the story and connect with her. I didn't find Erik so romantic nor such a prize even in the beginning. However, the important thing is Alice did and with a stretch of my imagination, it was believable. After all, I did find my husband on the computer so that part wasn't hard to believe at all and how many times has someone made a decision that made you wonder, "what was she thinking"?

The story was not all fun and games and had its share of 'problems' of not only everyday life but also with people which also added to the believability of the story. The other characters in the story are all developed enough for their roles. Throughout the story some things didn't make sense but toward the end of the book it all comes together and the ending itself was really something I didn't expect.

To sum it up, it was a good story even though it was dragged out and I would recommend it to those who like the erotic (or maybe I should say "exotic") romance.

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March 14, 2013

Book Eleven of my 2013 Goal

You and Me, Against the WorldYou and Me, Against the World by Raymond Esposito
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You and Me, Against the World: The Creepers Saga Book 1 by Raymond Esposito is one of those books that you just can't put down. If you are a fan of "The Walking Dead" on TV then you will love this story. In fact, I think it's even better. The action starts at the beginning and it doesn't end and the story line is direct and stays on the mark. There is no long 'side stories' or 'down time' because this character loves that one and we hear about their problems that had nothing to do with the story that happened long ago. This author stays right on the story and when we do hear about some history of one of the characters, it is because we need to know that piece of information to understand where the character is coming from. Speaking of characters, some are more developed than others but all are well developed for their roles in the story. It is easy to connect with at least one of the characters if not more.

This fictional horror story is about a virus that goes rampant but this isn't any virus, this virus turns the victims into zombies that have the need for human flesh. These zombies are called "creepers" by the survivors and they are savage and mindless, at least that is what the survivors thought. They observed a change in them, they seem to be learning, making some intelligent decisions or was it just some ancient instinct taken over? The creepers are everywhere and as the virus spreads either people become creepers or are eaten by them. The only chance of survival is to find a place that isn't totally populated. The less people means the less creepers.

A small group of young adults that are either related to one another or are friends try and make their way to such a place. They have a small group of children with them and on the way they rescue Dr. Thorn, who I want to say is the main character with certain members of the group of young adults as secondary characters. As they make their way across the state they happen to spot an old fort which was turned into a tourist spot but none the less it is still a fort with walls around it and would be a safe place to rest. They were not aware the fort was already occupied by people, some of which were mad and who had other plans for the children which were even more chilling than death itself. The group must now sneak the children out and get away but how can they when there is such a small number of them verses the fort full of people. If they ever got out with the children, will they ever make it to a safe place or will it all be for nothing and they fall victim to the zombies themselves? I am afraid you will have to read the story yourself to find out.

I totally recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of the horror genre. I know there are a lot of zombie stories out there just as there are a ton of werewolf stories but I assure you there are none like this. This author is in a class very few achieve, right up there on top. Hats off to the author, great story!

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