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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Book Review: The Road Ahead

One more book review to post before I depart for Iceland today! This one is called The Road Ahead by Hali Broncucia and I finished it last night after packing.

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Synopsis: A viral epidemic has wiped out 99% of the world’s population leaving scientist Heather Morgan to fight off thieves and scrounge for food and shelter near Denver, Colorado. When Heather befriends the young, naïve Jodi, she learns that a biotech company in San Francisco is rumored to have created a vaccine. Together, the women trek by foot to find the lab.

After suffering a near-fatal attack, Heather and Jodi find a safe haven on a farm with two young men, Cam and Elliot. Their security is short-lived, however, when irrevocable consequences threaten Heather’s mission. Will Heather be able to overcome loss and tragedy to find the vaccine or will she let sorrow overtake her and turn back? How many lives are worth the risk for a hope that rests in only a rumor?

I liked this book. I have been enjoying the books I have been reading quite a lot lately. This one followed Heather’s travels as she journeys from Colorado to California to find a cure for this horrible disease that has wiped out most of the population. She meets a young adult woman named Jodi who ends up joining her on her journey and they become good friends. They have some intense encounters and meet others along the way which keeps the book interesting.

There is one thing I would have added if I had the choice though. Can anybody guess what that would be? 😛 Yup its zombies. I love a good virus/infection that spreads and turns people into zombies because it adds in the extra factor of suspense where you are no longer just trying to survive a disease but also a horde of zombies.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes an intense YA survival story. It has the adventure for those explorers and a little bit of romance for you love junkies out there.

The finale of this book is very open-ended and leaves you with an impression that there will be a sequel. Some characters are no more and some are coming together in a way you wouldn’t expect. I look forward to continuing the series when it is out 🙂

Book Rating: 4/5

Go follow the author on her Instagram to keep up to date on the book.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author for an honest review.


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Book Review: Looking For Dei

New book review for you bookworms! This one was called Looking For Dei by David A. Wilson. It was fantastic! I loved this book and did not want to put it down when I picked it up for quick reading sessions.

Looking for Dei and a coffee

Synopsis: Fifteen-year-old Nara Dall has never liked secrets. Yet it seems that her life has been filled with them, from the ugly scar on her back to the strange powers she possesses. Her mysterious father refuses to say anything about her origins, and soon, she and her best friend must attend the announcement ceremony, in which youths are tested for a magical gift.

A gifted youth has not been announced in the poor village of Dimmitt for decades. When Nara uncovers the reason, she uses her own powers to make things right. The decision sets her on a path of danger, discovery, and a search for the divine. In the process, she learns the truth about herself and uncovers the biggest secret of all: the power of broken people.

This book was really good. I had been in a little slump of reading books that couldn’t hold my interest or were just not doing it for me but I am glad to say that this book refreshed me.

I really like how it portrayed magic and how to use magic objects as if they had an inner sight to them. And the play on using runes to funnel magic through was awesome. Who would have thought to get a rune tattoo and be able to use this magic whenever you desired. It played right into my inner nerd and back to my good old model building and battling days.

The main character Nara was a likable character. You could tell that all she ever wants is for the people around her to be happy. You can feel the mystery behind her past grow more intense as the storyline progresses. She has such strong power and you get to join her on her discovery of the immense power she has within.

I actually really like Kayna. She is one of the villains in this story but I just loved how emotionless she was. She had one purpose and it was to become very skilled with her magic to further her position in the political society.

I found Bylo a little boring but every character can’t steal my love so I guess that is ok 😛

There were some very obvious religious aspects to this book but it wasn’t so bad and thrown right in your face that you would just get upset with it. It was finetuned and incorporated into the story as part of the characters upbringing/understanding of their past.

I won’t say anything about the ending because I don’t want to spoil it but I will say that it was intense and everything I hoped for the ending to be. There is definitely hints at a sequel and I really hope it happens! Hear that David! When you write the next book, let me know so I can get it 🙂

Book Rating: 4.5/5

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me in physical paperback format by the author for 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: Depths of Night

I was asked to partake in a book tour! Woohoo, this is the second one I have participated in and the book looks amazing. I am here to give you a highlight of the book and an author interview so here we go!

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Synopsis: 

After a harrowing end to a long sea journey, the famed northern warrior Ragnar Stormbringer and a force of warriors step ashore in the lands of the Petranni, a tribal people known for their workings in silver and gold. The search for plunder takes a sharp turn when homesteads, villages, and temple sites show signs of being recently abandoned.

When it is discovered that the Petranni have all taken refuge within a massive stronghold, Ragnar and the others soon fall under the shadow of an ancient, deadly adversary. Wielding his legendary war axe  Raven Caller, Ragnar finds his strength tested like never before.

Sounds great eh? I interviewed the author and here is what he had to say!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

The author of the book is Stephen Zimmer and you can find him on Twitter as @sgzimmer !

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

I am a mix between those two approaches.  In writing my various series, I came to appreciate the importance of having a sense of direction and destination.  I never want to write myself into a corner, and I do want to know where I am headed in a story.  This requires a core structure in advance, in terms of a basic outline.

At the same time, I do not want to constrict myself in the instance that a great new idea pops up in regard to new subplots, twists and turns of the core plot, or new characters.  I like to be able to give my stories room to breathe during the creation process, so I do not plot or outline to the point where I don’t have any room to maneuver if new elements strike me in the process.

I have found that this balance works very well for me, both in writing series and also in the creation of stand-alone tales such as Depths of Night.

 

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

The hardest thing about writing in today’s world is handling the many hats that need to be worn on a regular basis.  A writer has to dedicate a lot of time to marketing, publicity, the business end, appearances, and many other things beyond the actual creative process.

These areas can be very time consuming and sometimes exhausting, and the writer must find ways to make sure that the creative path continues forward and is not too inhibited by all of the other things involved in a writer’s world.

 

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

I love to read!  I am currently reading Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.  Heinlein is a favorite author of mine, but other favorites include J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Clive Barker, R.A. Salvatore, Paulo Coelho, Guy Gavriel Kay, David Gemmell, Robert E. Howard, and many others.  Reading engages the imagination like nothing else and I think that it is very important for writers to set aside some time for reading on a regular basis. You always learn something about writing from reading!

 

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

In today’s flooded market, a good cover and title are extremely important.  Every week there is an enormous number of new releases, so you do not have long at all to catch a reader’s attention.  A good, catchy title, coupled with a strong cover, can help to gain the interest of a reader to consider buying your book.

I should also mention that a good cover requires more than just eye-catching artwork. A good cover involves skillful design and layout, including the section of title fonts and their placement.  A cover designer that is adept with both art and layout is worth every penny to a publisher or indie author who self-publishes.

 

Which book inspired you to begin writing?

My mother read the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien when I was just seven years old, and she followed that with buying me a boxed set of the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis in paperback.  I credit all of these incredible books for being the foundation of my inspiration to start down the path of storytelling and speculative fiction.  These powerful novels opened my eyes to the incredible possibilities of fantasy literature and I never turned back. 😊

Thank you for having me as a guest today at Breakeven books!

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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: Confessions of a Prodigal Daughter

A new book review has found its way tot he interwebs! This one was Confessions of a Prodigal Daughter by Sarabeth Caplin. Oh and guess what guys! I was at Comicon last weekend and purchased some goodies for future giveaways 🙂 ok now back to the review.

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Synopsis: In a bittersweet twist of fate, I started out “too Jewish” for my Catholic friends in elementary school, but not Jewish enough for the kids I met at summer camp, with their youth group logos and wristbands. In Israel, I didn’t feel I had the right to call myself Jewish at all. Now I was too Christian for Jews everywhere, but still too Jewish to completely fit in with my new bible study friends.

In my most pessimistic moments, I wonder if I’ll never fit in anywhere, with anyone. It’s interesting because Christians are called to be pariahs, to go against the ways of this world. But I am a special kind of pariah.

Honestly, I wasn’t a big fan of this one. It was basically a 140 some page testimony. Nothing against a religion of any sort, this book just could not hold my attention. The author had an interesting time discovering her thirst for more when it came to Jesus and being a  Jewish Christian and it was hard for her because she was raised as a Jew. The whole time she is talking about her journey, she is so worried about what her family will think when they find out that she is converting to Christian.

Her writing style was funny at parts because it would read as if she is making a sarcastic joke to you but it wasn’t enough to save the whole story for me.

There was one line that I did really like.

It would hurt, but isn’t it always better to be disliked for who you are than loved for who you are not?

This is a wonderful message to give people. You should never hide who you are to feel loved. This was one of her hard-hitting truths that she stuck by when she told her parents about her conversion.

I think I would recommend this book to someone who is interested in hearing more about other people’s religious testimonies. It wasn’t my style of book but I took a shot and read it anyway because I like to include all genres of books on the blog.

You can find the book on Amazon.

Book Rating: 2/5

Disclaimer: The author sent us a physical copy of the book to read and give an honest review.

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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).

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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: Burying Leo by Helga Gruendler-Schierloh

Woohoo! Another review is done and another book added to the shelf. This one was called Burying Leo by Helga Gruendler-Schierloh.

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Synopsis: Ingrid always loved to sing. Auditioning for a summer job after high school shattered her dreams. She fled Germany for Detroit where she married with the hopes of starting a family. When hope crumbled, she attempts to sing again. Will singing bring the life Ingrid always desired, or will her mutilated soul lose her everything?

This book was somewhat interesting. I feel like it was definitely too long for the storyline it had because once the characters were introduced and you got to know them, there was little left to build on their personalities.

Ingrid was struggling with her inner turmoils and it was frustrating because it takes her so long to do anything about it. Granted she did have some events in the past that were deeply unsettling and would be hard to cope with. The introduction of another character named Mick to help her work on and push past her barriers was a good way for the author to add some depth to the novel.

Her husband Joe was just annoying. I know that the book is set in the 90’s so they weren’t exactly up to date on equality (2018 millennial mind here) but he did not treat her well and any woman in her right mind would have left him rather than put up with his bullshit. This is also a good thing that the author created his character this way because it helps you feel for Ingrid and want her to succeed in the end by escaping her clutches and attaining her dreams.

One thing I found kind of hard to follow was the dialogue at points. This novel is very obviously written by a multilingual author and there are many parts where people make statements in German and you don’t really find out what they said.

There were lots of little twists that kept me going to the end of the book so that was good (I like when a book is unpredictable).

Book Rating: 3/5

Click on the image of the book below to see it on Amazon!

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

Also if you guys are feeling generous or compassionate, my cousin just received a diagnosis from their vet that his dog has bone cancer and they are doing surgery to amputate one of its legs. They don’t have a lot of money and the surgery is quite expensive but this dog means the world to him. They have set up a GoFundMe page to help with the costs. You can check it out at the link below and even if you don’t donate, just sharing it and spreading the word would mean a great deal to my cousin who is just doing anything he can to save his dog.

https://www.gofundme.com/help-save-spryte

Charles Tyrwhitt