Book Review: Vanished by Mark Bierman

I’m back bookworms and I have a new review for you! I will be posting about the Iceland trip a little later when I have gone through my photos. I read this book while traveling in Iceland. It is called Vanished by Mark Bierman and it was pretty good. The book cover was cool too. This is a huge thing in my eyes. I believe that every book deserves an eye-catching book cover.

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Synopsis: Tragedy . . . heartache . . . how much more can Tyler Montgomery and John Webster take? This missions trip, the “healing” one, has only added fresh layers of pain. Construction of an orphanage in Haiti’s northwest . . . yes. But a doomed rescue operation, human traffickers, human anomalies, extreme personal danger . . . risk of death? They hadn’t signed up for those. Turning their backs on the crisis, however, is unthinkable, it’s just not who they are.

This book was very interesting. Every scene moved quickly but it kept the plot moving along and it made it so that the storyline never really had a dull pause. It’s funny because one of the main characters is named John Webster and I actually know a John Webster 😛

The book brings light to a huge issue. Human Trafficking. It is such a big problem in 3rd world countries and it’s brutal because a lot of the human trafficking is children that are stolen or kidnapped off the street and thrown into slavery. In this book, the main characters are trying to save a young girl who has been kidnapped and put into slavery. So many people would turn a blind eye to it and say that there is no hope and she is gone but not John and Tyler. They go through a lot to find this girl and see unimaginable things that are genuinely upsetting but very real. There are a lot of cool characters introduced along the way and the story is told from all different perspectives that intertwine by the end.

The only thing I didn’t really like about the book was that there are some characters that are introduced and it seems like there will be more to them but then they are just dropped and out of the story, never to be heard of again. It only happened with one or two characters but I would have liked to hear more about their part in the whole thing.

Overall, it was an action-packed adventure that will have you on your toes from start to finish.

Book rating: 4/5

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author to read and give an honest review.


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Indigo Affiliates Unite!

Hey bookworms!

So I am pretty excited because I am now an Indigo Affiliate! Chapters is my favorite store and I could get lost in their store for hours. Honestly, the dream is to be a Chapters employee and just talk to people about different books all day.

If I could help just one person find a book or recommend a book to someone to read, my day would be made. I would also look like that hipster employee because my hair is so long right now and I wear a beanie in the summer to keep it all together. The end is near for this hair and I can’t wait to chop it all off. I hope that the person who gets my hair in their wig doesn’t get the ginger curse.

OH YEAH, I am donating my hair. This is a first time doing this for me. It is on my bucket list to do it at least once so I am finally decided to do it. Before and After shots will be shown 😛

Back to the point. This was a short and sweet post but I needed to get the excitement out that I am now part of such a great brand. I will be sharing Indigo links in my posts now so that you can see all their sweet deals and get discounts on some great products (don’t worry, I am still reviewing books and talking about all things books; this is just an added bonus). I love that I am able to represent a company that brings great new titles to readers all over the world 🙂

Anywho, I have some reviews coming up this week so stay posted. Talk to you soon bookworms!


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Book Highlight and Author Interview: No Turning Back

Here is another book highlight for a fantastic book called No Turning Back by Sam Blake! This is the third installment in the series.

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Synopsis: Orla and Conor Quinn are the perfect power couple: smart, successful and glamorous. But then the unthinkable happens. Their only son, Tom, is the victim of a deliberate hit-and-run. 

Detective Garda Cathy Connolly has just left Tom’s parents when she is called to the discovery of another body, this time in Dillon’s Park, not far from where Tom Quinn was found. What led shy student Lauren O’Reilly to apparently take her own life? She was a friend of Tom’s and they both died on the same night – are their deaths connected and if so, how?

As Cathy delves deeper, she uncovers links to the Dark Web and a catalogue of cold cases, realising that those involved each have their own reasons for hiding things from the police. But events are about to get a lot more frightening . . .

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?

I’ve always need a basic framework to work to – I need to know where a book is going or I find it very hard to start. With No Turning Back I had lots of bits of plot but I wasn’t sure how they quite connected, so I took the advice of a writer friend of mine Alex Marwood and ‘wrote the stuff’. She sometimes writes forty thousand words of a story to find her way into it. I had a deadline looming so I literally wrote my way into the first draft – LOADS changed in subsequent drafts but I had the words on the page. With crime some level of plotting is essential – for me at least- so I leave the right markers in the story as I write.

What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?

For me it’s getting the first draft done, getting off the blank page. Sometimes you have a very clear idea of what the story I about and it’s just a matter of finding the time to get the story written (a whole challenge in itself), but sometimes you’ve not got a clear path. With the first book you really do have the luxury of time to get it right, once you are under contract, the pressure mounts and you have to get it done – but equally your book is going to hit a book self and you need it to be the best work that it can be.

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?

I wish I read more (I spend a lot of time, professionally, reading new writers books and that takes a lot of time) I love Karin Slaughter, Lee Child and Michael Connolly; of Irish writers I love Liz Nugent’s and Catherine Ryan Howard’s books. I look forward to every one of Jane Casey and Alex Barclay’s. I recently read CL Taylor’s The Fear and that was excellent. I love a book that packs a punch at the end and leaves you thinking.

What is your take on the importance of a good cover and title?

Title and cover are VITAL to sell a book. I run an event where I read about 300 submissions and after that many, a good title really stands out. It’s the same for the reader, there are so many books to choose from and a good title and a cover can tell you so much about the promise of a good book. I’ve loved my covers and I adore the title of the first in the Cat Connolly series, Little Bones. It was called The Dressmaker for many many years and we had to change it for publication but it took several inflential people hours and hours to try and come up with something. Nothing was working and then out of the blue one of the directors at Bonnier (my publisher) came up with Little Bones. I’ll be forever indebted to her – it’s the perfect title, and so obvious when you have it!

Which book inspired you to begin writing?

I’ve always written, I loved creative writing in school, but the book I love most is Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Rebecca is one of the most sophisticated psychological thrillers ever written, and I’ve discovered, on the shelf of every female writer I know. Before domestic noir was a thing, du Maurier took us, and the new Mrs de Winter, to Manderley, to a house steeped in its ever present, but deceased mistress Rebecca. Multi layered, this is my favourite book of all time, it’s a thriller and a romance and has twists that make it utterly unforgettable. I collect first editions, and I holiday every year yards from Frenchman’s Creek. I just love it!

 

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Book Review: Pray for the Innocent

Another book review to add to our library of posts! Chris Connors is back with another of his magnificent reviews for Pray for the Innocent by Alan Orloff.

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Synopsis: Can former best-selling novelist Mathias King—now a rumpled, grizzled English professor—save America from a terrorist of his own making? In the shadow of the Pentagon, a secret DoD brain research experiment goes terribly wrong, and an ex-Special Ops soldier escapes, believing he is Viktor Dragunov, the Russian operative from the 80’s thriller novel, Attack on America. To capture him, the Feds turn to the person uniquely qualified to predict his next moves, the man who created the fictional character, best-selling author Mathias King. Now a reclusive English professor, King is reluctant to get involved, having sworn off the culture of violence after a deranged fan murdered his wife. But when innocent people start dying, King is thrust back into that dark world. With help from his enthusiastic graduate assistant Emily Phan, King must outsmart his own creation—while outmaneuvering the cover-up-loving Feds—before Dragunov succeeds in his hell-bent mission. To destroy America.

It is often easy to tell if a book is written by an author working with a publishing house, or if the book is a self-published indie book. Alan Orloff’s book, Pray For The Innocent, is one of those indie novels that feels like it was run through a publishing house. The writing is clean, elegant, not clunky and tortured, and has a polished edge that you often obtain after professional editors have commented on it.

Orloff knows how to write characters that feel real. He uses little details that bring his characters to life. He does it so well I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d taken a class on how to write good characters. I was even concerned about one of his minor characters when the person she loved was killed. He had managed to make her “real” in just a few scant pages even though most of our knowledge of her came from her brother’s thoughts rather than her own scenes.

As I read the book, which had me up way too late, I was also thought, “Why hasn’t a publishing house grabbed this guy? He is better than some established prolific *coughLustbadercough* authors”. The premise was intriguing; some spy stuff, cutting-edge neuroscience research, an old professor with a tortured soul, an experiment that goes wrong. While the Amazon synopsis sounds a bit over-the-top with an ex-Special Ops soldier thinking he is a 1980s fictional Russian spy on a “hell-bent mission” to destroy America the author doesn’t let the novel turn into a jingoistic pile of patriotic propaganda. Instead he makes a rather implausible premise come across as more realistic without devolving to simplistic black-and-white ‘rah-rah USA!’ style writing.

I will nit-pick a few small things, and I mean really small, nothing that affects the book or writing. Nit-pick the first: A character watching birds, among other things, has a copy of the Kaufman Field Guide to Advanced Birding to help him identify birds. That is not the book he’d use, it isn’t conducive to quick identification of tricky species—the bird seen is not tricky at all either—as there are pages of information about just one bird, often involving the bird in its drab fall plumage (the book is set in mid-summer so birds would still be in their brighter breeding plumage). One of the quick identification guides like Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America, or the ones by Peterson, or Sibley, or Stokes, or National Geographic are better.

Nit-pick 2: A scientist in the book says we shouldn’t try playing God. It is hard to imagine any scientist saying that. We recognize that we’ve been “playing God” for thousands of years when we treat and cure diseases, alter ecosystems on a vast scale, breed plants and animals to produce things that don’t look much like the original species, and now manipulate the genetic code.

Nit-pick 3: There is a serious misconception here. A character thinks his brother-in-law’s suicide is cowardly and selfish. This is a misconception that mental health professionals, among others, have been trying to correct for decades now. While the character might think this I was hoping somewhere in the novel this misconception would be addressed, but it was not.

Prior to this book, I had read two other excellent books—by publishing house authors—in two days so my standards for a good book were now pretty high. I was reluctant to start Pray For The Innocent in case it killed my reader’s high from the previous two books: I needn’t have worried. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. That it was written as an indie book makes it all the more remarkable. Definitely 5 stars out of 5.

Book Rating: 5/5

Click on the image below to see it’s Amazon Page!

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in digital format by the author to be read and honestly reviewed.

Charles Tyrwhitt

Book Review: The Hermit of Blue Ridge by Cary Marc Grossman

Another review by our marvelous @saramact !! This time she reviewed The Hermit of Blue Ridge by Cary Marc Grossman. She has been such a great help and I appreciate all of her time spent helping us out at Breakeven books as being part of the review team. Without further ado, here is her review (Hey that ryhmes :P).

COVER 2 The Hermit of Blue Ridge

This book is about a writer who has secluded himself from the world, up in the Blue Ridge Mountains, living in a cabin with only his dog for company. Soon, a young woman bursts into his cabin in the middle of a snow storm, and hurls his life into chaos. As he tends to her in her recovery, they begin to learn more about each other and themselves. After noticing some strange tendencies, he soon realizes that she wasn’t entirely transparent with her intentions when she first arrived, and the strangeness of her purpose there is only exacerbated by what becomes a passionate relationship.

(Spoilers Ahead)

As Jeremy and Sarah begin to develop a passionate relationship, we are given insight into the uncomfortable feelings Jeremy experiences; being forced out of his seclusion, and being forced to consider love again, after being burned so badly several times in the past. We soon discover that Sarah has been having violent dreams about Jeremy’s first love, Pricilla, since she was young. This only adds to the tension in their relationship, as he still mourns Pricilla, and Sarah’s young age already reminds him of Pricilla too often.

It was interesting to read about these two artists, as Sarah soon takes up painting, as they create a cozy little life for themselves. There is a lot of turmoil in their relationship, most of which is told from Jeremy’s perspective as he adjusts to Sarah’s presence, age, and relationship to Pricilla. Though it becomes obvious they both feel deeply for each other, there are a lot of issues in the relationship.

It was a very well written telling of the two people trying to balance their lives together, and the characters were developed fully, and were very relatable. I really enjoyed the flow and skill of the writing, as well as the unique plot. I could have done without the casual domestic violence that was peppered into the book – I think there is a way to have passion and even anger written into a relationship without it becoming violent. There were also a few “typos” and one plot error where a character was where they weren’t supposed to be, though some of this could have been due to its e-book conversion.

Book Rating: 4/5

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us by the author in a digital version for an honest review.

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Book Highlight: Rats, Mice, ​and Other Things​ You Can’t Take To The Bank

Hey guys, so I have received 2 copies of this book Rats, Mice and Other Things You Can’t Take To The Bank by Leslie Handler. I will be hosting a giveaway with the other copy starting next week! For now, I will be giving you a highlight of the book.

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About the Book: From an award-winning syndicated columnist comes a collection of essays – sometimes nourishing, sometimes passionate, sometimes humorous, and always relatable. Read this book if you are feeling sad. Read this book if you need a good chuckle. Read this book so that you never ever feel like you’re alone.

In one of the essays, the author summarizes her embarrassment for not being supportive of her husband. She writes “When your sad, you get the kind [of tears] that roll down your cheek flowing freely.They drip down your collar and snot up your nose. No. These were different. These were tears of shame and embarrassment…These were tears that didn’t want to puddle or roll. These were the tears that didn’t want to come out at all but couldn’t help themselves as they reluctantly dripped sideways into the hairline instead of following gravity down the face. These were my tears.”

These essays shine light into the soul and leave it wide open for all to see. This gifted storyteller is a keen observer of her own human nature and is not shy about sharing it. Part memoir, part essay collection, Rats, Mice and Other Things You Can’t Take to the Bank is written with both wit and charm. It will take you on a ride from finding a mouse in the house to a mortgage crisis. It’s so engaging that you may just find yourself wondering how your own personal stories ended up in it!

About the Author: Leslie is a 2015 Society of Newspaper Columnists award winner. She’s an international syndicated columnist with Senior Wire News Service and a frequent contributor to WHYY and CityWide Stories. She freelances for The Philadelphia Inquirer, ZestNow, and BoomerCafe, as well as blogs for HuffPost. Leslie currently lives smack dab between Philadelphia and New York City with husband Marty, dogs Maggies, Hazel, and Ginger, a collection of fish, said husband’s cockatoo who she’s been trying to roast for dinner for the last 33 years, and a few occasional uninvited guests. You may follow her blog and read published essays at LeslieGoesBoom.com.

She also donates a portion of her book sales to the National Alliance on Mental Illness so buy her book and support a great cause!

Click on the image below to check out her book on Amazon!

Best seller findings, jewelry beads, gemstone beads, pearls, glass beads, tools and much more.

 

Book Review: Break by Clare Littlemore

Our reviewer @saramact was really excited when Clare Littlemore read her review and loved it. She even sent @saramact the second book of her series called Break so that she could read it too. So now, here is Sara’s review 🙂 !

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Synopsis: It’s been three months since Quin transferred to Patrol and discovered the terrifying truth about the community she lives in. Citizens of The Beck are disposable and those in charge are capable of terrible cruelty. Vowing to protect those around her, Quin has joined the Resistance. But she knows she is risking everything.

A rebellion of any kind must be secretive and clever. Gathering enough people to fight seems like an impossible task. When those closest to her are directly threatened, Quin knows she has to act. But time is running out. Governance will stop at nothing to protect the world it has worked to build. In the end, Quin must decide how far she is prepared to go to rescue the ones she loves.

Picking up soon after the previous book, Quin, our main character, is still adjusting to her new position in Beck society as a Patrol officer. In this dystopian society run by strict rules, Patrol officers are given more knowledge than the average citizen, which introduces them to some of the hidden horrors “required” to maintain this society and defend against outsiders. Quin and a group of rebels are quietly plotting action against the Beck society in this novel. They must stay under the radar while helping as many as they can and preparing to fight back. In this book, we learn more about the upper levels of the Beck society, while Quin and her group of friends struggle to retain appearances of good citizens while the horrible actions taken by the upper levels only get worse in their desperation to maintain control.

Just like the first novel, this book keeps you on your toes, waiting to see what happens next. This book, though, has even more action throughout than the first one, as we learn more about what it takes to keep such a strict society running – and how the citizens affected react. The characters are well developed, and the plot is entertaining without being predictable. The organization of the society is well thought out, with interesting aspects to be learned throughout the book that keep you searching for more. Overall this is very well written and entertaining and deserves to be one of the top books in the genre. I am eager to read what happens next in the series, as we were left on another cliffhanger at the end of the book!

My only complaints would be about some of the minor dramas between the characters, which are so common in young adult novels – confusion over feelings that would be solved with communication. This does give some depth to some of the characters, but I always prefer when these clichés can be avoided or written in a new way so that it feels less familiar. I also wish there was more of it! I can’t wait for the next book, and I wish this one had been longer.

Book Rating: 5/5

You can click on the book below to check it out on Amazon!

Disclaimer: This book was provided to us by the author in digital format for an honest review.

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Book Review: Supercharge Your Book Sales with Unbiased Reviews by T. Buburuz

This is a short and sweet review for you guys on a helpful book for authors trying to get attention to their books. Supercharge Your Book Sales with Unbiased Reviews by T. Buburuz is a very quick read (25 pages) and has resources to help authors with approaching book bloggers and reviewing sources to get insight and critical reviews on their books.

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Synopsis:

Discover the simple secrets to getting free reviews by the truckload so you can skyrocket your book sales!

This results-driven guide includes:

* how to get your books reviewed for FREE by legitimate unbiased reviewers
* mistakes you want to avoid when contacting prospective reviewers
* how to effectively track your submissions
* why you should never pay for reviews

PLUS

* best practices to use when contacting perspective reviewers
* 55+ reputable book bloggers who review self-published books for free
* additional resources for even more legitimate unbiased book reviewers

You will be delighted to discover how easy it is to get unbiased legitimate book reviews for free when you go about it the right way, and you’ll also be inspired to write even more books when your reviews start flooding in!

I will admit that there is not much content to this book but it gets to the point and one thing that I really like about it is that it highlights different verified book bloggers to approach for a review. Anything that will help bring good attention to our little niche of book bloggers is awesome in my books 🙂

The author also invites book bloggers to contact him if they would like their book blog listed in his reviewer list. I believe his contact info is in the book to do this. The best part is that it is FREE. You can access the book below!

Book Rating: 4/5

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Book Review: To Keep A Secret by Melina Wedin

Another book review for the shelves. This one was called To Keep A Secret by Melina Wedin. It was more of a novella as it was only about 43 pages but I have found a certain love for these types of books. They are not too short but also not too long and they always end with one last line that sticks with you for days afterward.

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Synopsis: A well needed week away from the mainland sounded like a great idea. But this innocent trip to a private island won’t end as well as it began. Tracy finds herself in a situation she could never have imagined as she gets to know the secrets of her love – Ryan Bailey.

The question is: when love turns to fear, how will you survive?

I was drawn in rather quickly to this novella. The main character Tracy was likable and the type of person that has had to earn everything she has. She deserves a break and decides to go on this trip with her friends. The trips starts out great but quickly turns into a nightmare.

I won’t spoil it because it is a pretty short book but I will say that I would not want to be in the circumstances she was in. She has to endure some pretty brutal stuff just to survive another day. You can guess where the plot is going if you have this genre of book but I would still suggest checking this one out.

Another thing that I loved about the book is that it was based in Australia. It has been my dream to go to Australia since grade 4 I think and I will make it there one day.

If you wish to get the book, you can click the link :

You can connect with the author on her website www.melinasvoice.com or catch up with her on her Facebook Page.

Book Rating: 4/5

Disclaimer: I was sent the book by the author so that I could read it and give an honest review. I have not been compensated in any way.

 

Book Review: You Should Come With We Now

I recently finished a book sent to me by STORGY for review called You Should Come With Me Now by John Harrison.

‘You Should Come With Me Now’ an anthology by M. John Harrison from the wonderful Independent publisher Comma Press boasted a collection of short stories that were quite different and a joy to read, this due in part to the range Harrison possesses; the storylines ranged from people with schizophrenia (are they schizophrenic or were there ghosts living among them), different worlds that only some could see and tales of stalking etc.

What I really enjoyed most about these short stories is that Harrison leaves each one open to the interpretation of the reader. In so much as to say I could think that it means one thing and someone else could have a completely different interpretation and reaction to the same story.

Some of the stories were slow burners at first; hard to get into the story, but by the time the ending drops it leaves you with one line that at first you wouldn’t think is a good ending but plays on the mind long after reading, giving you an understanding of why Harrison concluded the story in this way. These short stories really make you think out of the box in the way Harrison uses descriptions of characters and settings.

Reflecting about which was my favourite, the one that stands out in my mind was about a man and his close friend; whom you can tell he loves but she is married and her husband is a hermit that lives in their attic. He is always up there working on some project but no one knows what it is and the story trundles along to show how his absence from their lives is affecting everyone else. When it gets to the ending, the house gets almost torn apart! My interpretation of it is that he has been working on defending himself from another dimension, which is revealed masterfully at the end for
the rest of the characters to see. Someone else might interpret this story in a different way which is so cool because then it would spark a discussion about why and how they see it their way.

Overall, this collection of short stories was pretty interesting and they didn’t ramble on as many short stories do, being reminiscent of Novellas instead of the delicate craft of the short story. Each time I returned it felt like reading a new book each time, once again highlighting Harrison’s range of writing and the intricate craft of the short story form.

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M John Harrison – M. John Harrison is the author of eleven novels (including In Viriconium, The Course of the Heart and Light), as well as four previous short story collections, two graphic novels, and collaborations with Jane Johnson, writing as Gabriel King. He won the Boardman Tasker Award for Climbers (1989), the James Tiptree Jr Award for Light (2002) and the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Nova Swing (2007). He reviews fiction for The Guardian and the Times Literary Supplement, and lives
in Shropshire.

Book Rating: 4/5

Disclaimer: I was sent this book to review by STORGY. I am in no way being compensated for this review.

Here is the link to the STORGY article.