Thursday, December 17, 2015

Book Review: DARK ILLUSION by Dana V Moison

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review

NYPD Detective Sharon Davis works to solve a string of grisly murders targeting young, beautiful wannabe models before the killer strikes again.  Interwoven with the mystery in DARK ILLUSION are the stories of ambitious, unhinged business woman Kelly and supermodel Gloria.  Being beautiful on the outside doesn't make you beautiful on the inside.



I wanted to like DARK ILLUSION.  Really, I did.  The serial killer aspect was interesting and a woman detective is a nice touch when the book bills itself as having strong female leads.  The problem, for me, was in the execution.   I spent a lot of time confused thanks to near constant "head hoping" between characters in a single scene and far too many characters to begin with.  I would have liked some sort of prologue setting up Sharon Davis as the lead (or at least the one in charge of  investigating the crimes).  Instead, we get an opening chapter with love-struck photographer Andy and aging supermodel Gloria.  I spent the entire first chapter thinking it was going to be a romance between Andy/Gloria.   It's not.   The Andy/Gloria chapters are where the worst of the head hoping occurs too.

It would have been nice if Sharon was set up as the lead point of view character and the others (Kelly and Gloria) were secondary characters instead of leads.  At least it would have tied everything together in a more cohesive manner.  Nothing particularly pulled me into the story and characters though the idea itself has merit.  A serial killer targeting models while a female cop desperately tries to stop them before they kill again could have been amazing.  Instead, it was just "meh".   I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it either.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

What Are You Reading?

Amazon and Barnes and Noble are hitting me where it hurts this holiday season -- with tons of sales on ebooks!   In the last two days,  I've spent more than I usually spend in 6 months to a year on ebooks.    Some of my purchases include:



The Luxe Collection is one of my favorite book series.  I own them all in hardback but it's definitely worth having a set in ebook as well!   It's technically classified as YA but is like a historical soap opera set in 1899 New York.  There's forbidden love, jealousy,  back stabbing BFFs, social climbing maids, and a socialite faking her own death. The covers are absolutely gorgeous as well.   The Luxe series cemented Anna Godbersen's place in my insta-buy category.  It's currently on sale for $9.99.



The Dark Swan series by Richelle Mead is one I decided to take a chance on.  I enjoy Mead's  Vampire Academy series.  It's fun and fresh with great narrative voice.  Dark Swan seems to be an adult version instead of YA urban fantasy.   The series has been on my radar for awhile since I like Mead as an author.  The $8.99 price tag was too good to pass up.



Sweet Valley High books 1-12.   If you grew up in the 80s or 90s,  chances are you have fond memories of  Sweet Valley High.  I remember cutting my teeth on Sweet Valley Twins before moving up to Sweet Valley High.  Those Wakefield twins lived a crazy, soap opera drama-rama life, but it was so addicting.  I'm anxious to see if the books hold up to the test of time or if they will come across as not as cool as I remember them being.  Currently, the first 12 books are on sale for $7.99



My Lady Viper.  This was a definitely impulse buy for me.  It showed up on my daily BookBub newsletter,  I saw it was about one of my absolute favorite time periods for historical fiction -- Tudor England -- and clicked the link.  The $2 definitely helped as well.  The sample hooked me instantly...So much so that I also bought the 2nd book in the series Prisoner Of The Queen which is also currently on sale for $2.

I posted the Amazon links but Barnes & Noble started the sale and Amazon price matched.  I'm going to be busy reading for a long, long time!   *cue happy dance*

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Book Review: TOMBS OF LUST by Dorit Silverman

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review

First written in 1985 but only recently translated into English, TOMBS OF LUST tells the forbidden love story between a Bedouin man and Israeli woman.   It was made into an award winning movie in 2002 called "Tahara: God's Sandbox."  If you're curious,  the full movie is available on YouTube.


I'm not quite sure what I was expecting going into reading TOMBS OF LUST.  With the word "lust" in the title, I shouldn't have been surprised by the erotic nature of the story.  The main characters spend most of the novel naked, nearly naked,  having sex, or thinking about having sex.  I understand that it's an awakening and celebration of sorts for the main character Leah.  It's a chance to be in control of herself and her own life instead of having other people control her.  I admire the sentiment.  I'm just used to less graphic romance.   That's not any fault of the author at all, just my own personal preference.

One aspect I really enjoyed was how Silverman alternated the chapter view point from male and female leads.   The word choice, sentence structure, etc were so uniquely Najim and Leah that it really gave a richer, deeper understanding of their relationship -- especially the language and cultural barriers.   It takes a very skilled writer to successfully pull off that technique.

TOMBS OF LUST is also a very quick read.  There's only 8 chapters total so it's easy to read in an afternoon.  It held my attention.  I plan to watch the movie to see how it compares to the book.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Book Review: THE STRANGE WAYS OF PROVIDENCE IN MY LIFE by Krystyna Carmi

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review

Krystyna Carmi was born in Poland into a loving, happy,  Jewish family.  Many lives were lost and even more lives were changed forever during World War II.  Krystyna's story is one of courage, resilience, and never forgetting the people and places that shape our lives.  In addition to the moving narrative,  the book contains over 100 family pictures.


THE STRANGE WAYS OF PROVIDENCE IN MY LIFE is a must read if you're interested in memoirs,  World War II, and/or holocaust survivor stories.  On top of the rich, immersive experience of reading Carmi's memoir, the pictures she includes really bring her world to life.  Even after I finished reading,  I paged through the book to view the pictures again.  They tell a story all by themselves.   It's a story I'm happy she shared.  I'm even more happy that I got the chance to experience it by reading this book.


Book Review: THE WATCHERS: KNIGHT OF LIGHT by Deirdra Eden

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review

In 1270 England,  orphan peasant girl Auriella flees her village fearing people will call her a witch after she saves a family from a cottage fire without getting a single burn on her.  It's the start of her adventure to learn the truth about herself and her innate fire magic.  Her journey is filled with pixies, witches, elves, dwarfs, and all sorts of magical creatures.


The Watchers: Knight Of Light is the first book in a series.  It's marketed as young adult but I can see it appealing you a younger crowd because of the fantasy element and young, thirteen year old heroine.  There are some scenes of violence that don't scrimp on the description so it's not really for sensitive children (or even adults).  One whipping scene in particular even upset me and I'm well past the target age range.

Auriella herself just seemed to be there and doesn't really propel the story forward on her own strengths as a character.  Sure she jumps into a burning building and gets the plan in motion to escape a witch's cottage but nearly everything seems to be a way to showcase magical creatures and mythology instead of having well rounded characters.  Auriella fades into the background when faced with stronger secondary characters and just becomes the voice narrating the tale instead of someone I can really root for.  I was also a little confused on why the story needed to be set in England.  With all the mythical/magical elements highlighted, it would have been stronger to just create a fantasy world instead of setting it in England.

The writing moves along at a fast pace which is great for the genre.  The chapters are short and usually end on enough of a cliffhanger that you want to read the next one which is, again, good.  It kept me turning pages though I never felt completely invested in the story and characters.

Overall,  I didn't dislike the book but I didn't love it either.  I think it would be perfect for 10 -14 age range who enjoy fantasy and main characters around their own age.

Product Review + Discount Coupon Code: NESTL SHEETS


Since I signed up for Tomoson, a site where you get free and reduced price products in exchange for an honest review,  I'm mostly been doing book reviews.  I enjoy reading.  It's a perfect way to discover new authors I may not have been aware of pre-Tomoson.   Sometimes I branch out into baby products or weight loss and supplements.  I like practical things and  NESTL SHEETS 100% soft brushed microfiber sheet set is definitely practical...and comfortable and a host of other adjectives.  After looking through the 16 color choice options,  I decided on purple eggplant   It's a beautiful dark purple that goes well with any decor.

The sheet set contains a fitted sheet,  flat sheet, and 2 pillow cases.  I put them on our queen size Tempur-pedic bed in the master bedroom as soon as the package arrived in the mail.   We have trouble finding sheets that actually stay on the Tempur-pedic since the mattress is so tall.  The deep pockets on the Nestl Sheet worked great.   They haven't slipped off or needed any adjusting since we put them on.  The sheets themselves are very soft, silky, and luxurious.   My kids keep trying to steal the pillow cases and burrow down into the sheets.  They all have sensory processing issues so that's an added bonus to the Nestl Sheets that I didn't anticipate -- a material my kids can stand to sleep on.  I'm very happy with the product and plan to order at least three more sets.

As an added bonus,  the Nestl Sheet company said I could share the discount code I received.  Now you can get this amazing sheet set in the color and size of your choice for just $20.  Enter Code Z1501OFF at check out.






Saturday, December 5, 2015

Book Review: WRIT IN WATER by Nina Selbst

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Being a massive fan of the poet John Keats,  when I read the title of WRIT IN WATER by Nina Selbst,  I instantly knew it was an homage to his self-penned epitaph  "Here lies one whose name is writ in water."  Selbst introduction confirmed this.  While it has nothing to do with Keats' last days and final resting place, it does have everything to do with the importance of water throughout human history.  It's not some throw away resource to be forgotten like Keats felt he would be forgotten after his death.   WRIT IN WATER takes the reader on a journey to show time and again just how important water is.


I enjoyed how this book was organized -- stretching back to the creation stories from the beginning of recorded history.   Like most people,  I was familiar to with Judeo-Christian creation story.  What struck me was how water played such a primary role in all creation stories from Mesopotamia, to Egypt, Greece, and beyond.  Selbst did a great job focusing on the water aspect to really bring home her point of how water and humankind are intertwined.   While Selbst claims WRIT IN WATER is not an academic work but more an essay,  I think she did a fabulous job of researching the topic and pulling it all together in a cohesive, readable work.  It is fairly dense with a strong scholarly tone.  It's not the sort of book most people will kick back with on a rainy day.  Never-the-less, it is very worth your time and effort.   I recommend this fascinating, eye-opening read.

Book Review: FREE YOURSELF FROM THE DIET LANGUAGE by Ayelet Kalter

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review

FREE YOURSELF FROM THE DIET LANGUAGE by Ayelet Kalter starts with a very interesting premise:  Is obesity the problem in a society trying to be healthy or is the way we approach losing weight the problem?  According to most schools of thought, obesity is a disease and health is the lack of disease.  Can you be obese and healthy at the same time?  Why do 95% of diets fail?


As someone who has struggled with weight loss since hitting my 30s and having 3 kids,  I'm always on the look out for diet options.  I've tried just about everything that I thought I could stick to (Atkins, calorie counting) and even those that I knew I couldn't (apple diet).    I'm not unhealthy.  I get plenty of exercise.  I don't make superb food choices but I'm not only eating junk food either.   Why was I having trouble losing weight?  I was hoping FREE YOURSELF FOR THE DIET LANGUAGE could offer some insight into the process instead of just another 'do this -- trust me it works' routine sales pitch.  What I found was a very scholarly, informative book about how diet language affects our way of thinking and, even, our way of life with the obsession to be healthy, which usually equates to being thin.  Thin isn't necessarily healthy just like obese isn't necessarily unhealthy.   Once we switch from the old way of thinking to mindful eating,  true change can take place.

If you're looking for an inspirational,  easy to read self help book, this isn't really the book for that.  It's very scholarly with footnotes and citations.  It reads like an academic book more than self help.  The information inside if very valuable but, personally, I think you need to be in the right mindset before you open it up. If you're not ready to focus and really take in what Kalter is saying,  you won't benefit from the valuable information.

I recommend the book if you're looking for a scholarly approach to diet and weight loss.