Review “Matt Jackson, Catcher” Jean Joachim

Matt Jackson, clutch hitter, fielder extraordinaire, and team captain, is dynamite on the baseball field, but a loser with women. Or is he? He makes a show of coming on to chicks in bars, but always strikes out. Convinced being dateless is safer, Matt keeps his distance from women. Is he simply an insensitive chauvinist, or a crafty man hiding a secret?
Everything he believes in is challenged the day he walks in on a beautiful woman in the locker room. Dusty, the sharp-tongued spitfire, cuts the all-star pro down to size. Unwilling to accept second-class status, she challenges everything he knows about women.
Does a solo life make living with emotional pain easier? Drawn to the stunning, talented woman, Matt has a long way to go to win her trust. Getting close to Dusty is dangerous. Can he risk his well-protected heart? Matt faces a difficult choice — will he make the right decision?

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“Matt Jackson, Catcher” is the second in the “Bottom of the Ninth” series. I recently reviewed “Dan Alexander, Pitcher” and was elated to continue the series. I actually included the first book in my list of favorite romances so I guess you could say I went into reading this one with some pretty high expectations. Fortunately, I was not disappointed. If anything, I was blown off my feet.

This book delves deeper into who the characters are than I felt the first book in the series did. The romance, while present, is more a component of the story than the whole story. Matt Jackson is a man whose life has been fraught with disaster and heartache. He’s well guarded and for good reason. I found myself increasingly intrigued the more I read. The mystery of Matt Jackson is it’s own seduction. He’s so real in my mind I have to continually remind myself he’s just a character from a really good book.

Normally, as a reader I have a bit of a disconnect from the story. With Matt, cracking open each new layer of his life broke that disconnect further and further until emotionally, I was fully vested in this story. 

While Dusty is an interesting character, it’s Matt who really steals the show. The summary leads one to think the story is more about Dusty than I felt it really was. After reading, I don’t feel like I know her as well as I should. I feel like this story is more a focus on Matt than her and would like to see her character fleshed out a bit more. I also felt like their relationship could use to be fleshed out a bit more too. I love that she was there for him but there were a few moments that I felt should of been more emotionally charged and didn’t come across that way. If there is anywhere in this story I would advise needs work, that would be it. I felt it for Matt but not so much for Dusty. It left a bad taste in my mouth for her.

I loved seeing this side of Joachim’s writing. I truly feel like Matt’s character is one I will not soon forget. There is a scene in the book where his worst fear is almost completely realized. I was there with him as the rain pelted his skin and the lights from the emergency vehicles painted his skin with red and blue. I felt his fear. I felt his dread.  I could feel the fear ball up in my chest as each word flew past my eyes and painted pictures in my mind. My heart raced with anticipation of what he would find. It was captivating. 

This is really two love stories in one. It’s Matt and Dusty, but it’s also Matt’s story of redemption and forgiveness. I would love to see more of Matt and Dusty. This series has caught me in it’s web and I will definitely be continuing with the next book!

What a ride!

5 stars!

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: Matt Jackson, Catcher | Series: Bottom of the Ninth  |  Author(s): Jean C. Joachim  |Publisher: Moonlight Books  / Publication Date: 12-22-2016 |Pages: 232 (Print) | ISBN:  B01NBL34Q5 |Genre(s): Romance / Sports |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 2-28-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

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Book Spotlight “The Lord of Salamander” T. H. Alexander

After living his entire life in a world short on magic at the hands of his two misanthropic aunts in a tedious and forever dusty town called Buckwood, thirteen-year-old Elijah Pendleton’s life begins to unravel when he rescues a sleek black cat from a tree that just so happens to mysteriously appear and then disappear in his yard one day. After convincing himself that he must have imagined it, the black cat inexplicably returns, and eventually, Elijah decides to investigate the address printed on the cat’s collar. 

      The cat’s owner is a kind, self-proclaimed psychic named Aura Dearborn, who seems to know far more about Elijah than Elijah does about himself. Over lunch, she quickly spins a tale for him about his lost parents, a legendary prophecy of the Enchanters, and a land called Salamander: a land, she says, “for people like us”. This information leads Elijah to embark on a journey to the Mythic Realms: a place of wonder and fear, good and evil, magic and mystery. But the revelation that he is both the heir to extraordinary powers and the hope of a generation is his greatest surprise–one Elijah may not be prepared to face. As he crosses dangerous lands, encounters ferocious beasts, and entangles himself in mythical hazards along the way, Elijah will accumulate allies, hone his skills, and race against the clock to end the land’s decade-long reign of darkness and fulfill his destiny: to inherit his throne and become the succeeding ruler of Salamander–the Lord of Salamander.
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Keep an eye out for our review of “The Lord of Salamander”!

 

 

Book Spotlight “The Junkyard Capital” Jak Locke

Senator Aphid only wanted to improve his country, though after four years in the District of Laws he really should have known better. He’s removed from office and soon grudgingly finds himself paired with Frog Dell, the reckless and self-indulgent hermit of the junkyard. As the two evade the wrath of a government run amok with corruption, dissension spreads through the public, and conspiracy reigns. What role does psychiatrist and part-time inventor Weasel McKenzie play in the upcoming Archministry election? How does front-runner candidate and acclaimed playwright J. Thomas Capra plan to fix the broken nation? Who’s being stalked by merciless bounty hunter Jack Dingo? Why is Dead Fish wandering an empty version of the world? The pressure escalates quickly in this twisting, zany, fast-paced and subversive satire that, like real politics, requires (and prefers) absolutely no prior political knowledge. NOTE: This book is the heavily revised second edition of the now out-of-print book Frog Dell’s Junkyard.

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About The Author

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Jak Locke is an entertainer, filmmaker, and programmer obsessed with exploring every form of expression. The Junkyard Capital is his first book and gives his degree in political science some relevance to his life for once. He is a lifelong New Orleans area resident.

 

Indie Author Spotlight- Jean C. Joachim

Do you love hot romance stories that keep you on your toes? Jean C. Joachim is a prolific author whose characters you would be hard pressed not to fall in love with! Want to know more about her books? Check out our review of “Dan Alexander, Pitcher”! We’re set to review the next book in the “Bottom of the Ninth” series, “Matt Jackson, Catcher” in the next week so keep an eye out!

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Jean Joachim is a best-selling romance fiction author, with books hitting the Amazon Top 100 list since 2012. She writes mostly contemporary romance, which includes sports romance and romantic suspense.
Dangerous Love Lost & Found, First Place winner in the 2015 Oklahoma Romance Writers of America, International Digital Award contest. The Renovated Heart won Best Novel of the Year from Love Romances Café. Lovers & Liars was a RomCon finalist in 2013. And The Marriage List tied for third place as Best Contemporary Romance from the Gulf Coast RWA. To Love or Not to Love tied for second place in the 2014 New England Chapter of Romance Writers of America Reader’s Choice contest. She was chosen Author of the Year in 2012 by the New York City chapter of RWA.
Married and the mother of two sons, Jean lives in New York City. Early in the morning, you’ll find her at her computer, writing, with a cup of tea, her rescued pug, Homer, by her side and a secret stash of black licorice.
Jean has 30+ books, novellas and short stories published. Find them here: http://www.jeanjoachimbooks.com. Sign up for her newsletter, on her website, and be eligible for her private paperback sales.

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WARNING! This interview has what could be interpreted as spoilers!

Q: What gave you the idea to begin writing “Dan Alexander, Pitcher”?

I’ve loved baseball since I was sixteen. After writing my football series, “First & Ten”, baseball seemed the next best place to go. And who wouldn’t want to start with the pitcher. I wondered what would happen if the pitcher saw a pretty girl in the stands. Then the girl became a hot dog vendor, then she couldn’t be just any vendor. And thus Holly’s story was born.

As I wrote Dan’s story, he struck me as a nice guy from a small town, unpretentious, and unchanged by his new found wealth. In some ways, he and Holly were opposite, which is, perhaps, what attracted Dan to Holly.

Q: Dan Alexander strikes me as a small town guy-next-door type. However, he’s also no stranger to the finer things in life and expects his mate to be classy and sophisticated. Was it difficult to find that balance for his character?

Not at all. I think he was completely taken with Holly’s sophistication. She was an unusual mix of a woman who could take care of herself, knew what to order in a French restaurant, but also needed protection and understanding. That unusual mix of qualities is what attracted Dan.

He’d never met a girl like her, who wasn’t falling all over herself or him for attention. And a girl who wasn’t impressed by a lot of money, but who was easy with living well relieved his mind about her ever being a gold-digger. She tumbled into his life and opened his eyes to the fact that a girl from a rich family might actually be deprived in some ways – for example, never going to an amusement park. She made him feel like a big man, her protector and yet she had things she could teach him, too. It was a perfect match.

Q: The man on the cover is exactly as I felt you described Dan. Did you see the model first and base Dan’s description on him or was it a happy surprise?

I had Dan pictured in my mind. I looked at models with a photographer until I happened on Chandler. The moment I saw him, I knew he was the perfect Dan Alexander. And, besides, he was hotter than hot. He’s exactly what I wanted for the cover. I’m glad he fits the description.

I designed the jersey he’s wearing. If you’ll notice it says “Nighthawks” on it. The cover shots have all been taken with photographers. None are stock photos and no fancy graphics were used. Those are real uniforms.

Allie- I LOVE that these are real uniforms! You should sign these and sell them! I’d buy one!

Q: In the book, we learn that Holly is paying for her wild streak and bad decisions. I felt there was an emphasis on her predicament being her fault, but with the distance from her parents growing up….isn’t it a bit their fault too?

Absolutely! I totally agree. I had to show how they treated her so the reader would understand why Holly made the mistakes she did. No, it was not totally her fault. Her parents needed to take some of the blame. Perhaps the humiliation they suffered was their pay-back for the cold way they treated her growing up.

Even though she had neglectful parents, the world is not a forgiving place. If you make a mistake, you pay for it.  That was made clear in the story. No matter how her parents treated her, Holly had to make good choices in her life and take responsibility for them. She learned that lesson the hard way. But in the end, I think she grew stronger from the ordeal. And the love of Dan was her reward for facing her predicament squarely and being honest.

Dan was very healing for Holly. Her time with him let her know that she was worthy of love and that there was someone who would protect her and care for her, even though she’d made some mistakes. His loyalty went straight to my heart – and her’s, too.

Q: When you write, is the story already present in your mind or does it slowly materialize as your writing progresses?

When I start to write, the story and the characters are  in my mind, but not fully formed. I know how it’s going to end, but often it takes a different twist and turn along the way. I love when that happens. I have thrown out scenes and even changed plots after beginning a novel. The story takes me where it needs to go. Sometimes I have to be patient, but it always appears and makes the story better.

Q: In the story, Holly’s identity was initially discovered and caused her to “disappear” on her own. Later in the story, she makes the decision to trust in the system again and everything seems to work out. The story doesn’t explain how she was initially found out. Could you elaborate on this?

Someone leaked Holly’s whereabouts for money. I didn’t want to pursue that because I felt it would sidetrack the plot, hijacking the story from Holly and Dan and injecting Flash Kincade into it with a bigger role.

Yes, he paid someone to give him the information. It took him a while to find the right person and persuade them, but that was it. I did wonder if that would leave some readers hanging. I guess it did! I will clear that up with a sentence or two in a later book. Thanks for this question.

Q: Do you have any writing quirks?

I’m sure I must, but I don’t think so. Every writer thinks they are normal, but “normal” people would probably think we’re nuts. Maybe my biggest quirk is that I talk to my pug, Homer, about my stories when we’re out walking. I ask him questions and work out plot points. That seems perfectly normal to me, but the people of NYC probably think I’m crazy.

Allie – I’ve never been to NYC but I’m sure a nice looking lady with an adorable pug is the least of their worries. I mean…have you seen that documentary about the rat problem in NYC? Everyone is probably too busy dodging rats! J/K (ish)

Q: What kind of music do you listen to when looking for inspiration?

Sometimes I listen to music to inspire me. When I wrote Love Lost & Found that takes place partly in St. Thomas, I played the song “Kokomo” by the Beach Boys over and over again. Most of the time I prefer to write in quiet. When I do put on music, it’s classical. Mozart, Bach, Beethoven are all soothing and allow me to focus on my inner thoughts.

Q: Other than writing, what other hobbies do you enjoy?

I enjoy crocheting, taking long walks, and going to the movies. Photography is my most consuming hobby. I love to take pictures of nature and interesting things around me.

Just For Fun Questions

Q: If you could time travel, where would you go and what would you do?

I’d go back to the time when Louisa May Alcott was writing or Jane Austen. Regency England, with it’s elegance and intrigue, would be fascinating.

I’d be a fly on the wall in drawing rooms of wealthy, titled people watching and listening to them live their intriguing lives.  I’d love it. Yes, I’m a huge Jane Austen fan.

The Roaring ‘20’’s in the U.S.A. interest me, too. Life was fast, every changing and the clothing styles were awesome! I’d be a speakeasy singer by night and a demure secretary by day.

Allie- I’m also a huge fan of Jane Austen. 

Q: Imagine you are stranded on an island. What three things would you most want with you? (other than people, food, shelter and necessities for life)

Music! Art materials. I love to design and do occasionally design a cover and I do all my own marketing designing, including creating my logo. A camera. Chocolate and books! Of course, books.

Q: If you could have any superpower, what would you pick?

I’d love to be able to fly. I adore birds and envy their ability to pick up and soar. To see the world from different vantage points and to be able to sit, high up, in a tree and contemplate life would be heaven.

Q: If you could live in any world in any book or movie, what movie/book would you pick?

I’d jump right into the pages of “Pride and Prejudice”, or any other Jane Austen book. I think being around during the tumultuous times in “Gone With the Wind” would be fascinating!

I recently watched the movie, “The Big Chill” again. Being back in those times with those folks would also be fun.

 

JCJ- Thank you for inviting me to this interview, Allie. It’s been a lot of fun answering your questions.

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Fed up with cheating women, Dan Alexander, star pitcher for the New York Nighthawks, grew restless. Searching for something more than a bar babe, he zeroed in on a girl in the stands. He never expected to see a beautiful chick pushing frankfurters. But the hot dog girl looked as smokin’ as the food she was selling.
Holly Merrill found a place to hide in plain sight, as a vendor at Nighthawks’ stadium. Keeping her secret safe and simply happy to stay alive, she never considered finding love an option. After all, a bad girl doesn’t deserve a decent guy, does she?
Coming off his best season ever, Dan went into the playoffs, hell bent on winning the pennant and playing in the World Series. But could he maintain his focus on the field, where everything was going right, when off the field everything was falling apart?

Dan Alexander, Pitcher – Bottom of the Ninth Series

Fed up with cheating women, Dan Alexander, star pitcher for the New York Nighthawks, grew restless. Searching for something more than a bar babe, he zeroed in on a girl in the stands. He never expected to see a beautiful chick pushing frankfurters. But the hot dog girl looked as smokin’ as the food she was selling. Holly Merrill found a place to hide in plain sight, as a vendor at Nighthawks’ stadium. Keeping her secret safe and simply happy to stay alive, she never considered finding love an option. After all, a bad girl doesn’t deserve a decent guy, does she? Coming off his best season ever, Dan went into the playoffs, hell bent on winning the pennant and playing in the World Series. But could he maintain his focus on the field, where everything was going right, when off the field everything was falling apart?

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This book has been personally reviewed by AlliesOpinions! 

To see the review, click the title below.

Dan Alexander, Pitcher

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Review Stats

Amazon: 4.8 Stars!

Goodreads: 4.6 stars!

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About The Author

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I’ve been making up stories for as long as I can remember. When other kids wanted to be doctors, teachers or firemen, I wanted to be a writer.
As soon as I could read, I began devouring books. I’d read anything I could get my hands on, but Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women and Nancy Drew mysteries were early favorites.
In school, term papers were my favorite homework. While others bemoaned the amount of work involved, I jumped in, burying myself in research and writing the document with care.
Still fiction was my first love. After college and a degree in English, I fell into the world of advertising. After many years in corporate America, I went my own way. Working and raising two kids took all my energy and creativity. But when the youngest went off to school, all the story ideas in my head came to life. Mac Caldwell and Callie Richards landed in my head and refused to leave. So I told their story. What started as one book has become six. Now I greet my characters every morning at six and jump back into their story, enjoying every minute. I’m blessed to be able to work at something I love and share my space with my husband as well as my beloved pug, Homer. More than 26 books later, I’m still up at the crack of dawn, crafting the tales of the people who live in my head.

Want to know more? Check out her website! 

https://jeanjoachimbooks.com/

This book has the AlliesOpinions official stamp of approval. We recommend this book!

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Book Review “Dan Alexander, Pitcher – Bottom of the Ninth” Jean C. Joachim

Fed up with cheating women, Dan Alexander, star pitcher for the New York Nighthawks, grew restless. Searching for something more than a bar babe, he zeroed in on a girl in the stands. He never expected to see a beautiful chick pushing frankfurters. But the hot dog girl looked as smokin’ as the food she was selling. Holly Merrill found a place to hide in plain sight, as a vendor at Nighthawks’ stadium. Keeping her secret safe and simply happy to stay alive, she never considered finding love an option. After all, a bad girl doesn’t deserve a decent guy, does she? Coming off his best season ever, Dan went into the playoffs, hell bent on winning the pennant and playing in the World Series. But could he maintain his focus on the field, where everything was going right, when off the field everything was falling apart?

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The first thing I want to say to anyone thinking about not reading this book due to its Baseball theme is….DON’T PASS THIS BOOK UP! It is fantastic! You don’t need to be into Baseball to enjoy the story. I am far from a Baseball fan and I couldn’t put this book down. Both Holly and Dan are compelling characters that will drive a spike into you with their authenticity. 

One of my most favorite aspects of this story is how different Dan and Holly became who they are. Two completely different upbringings and yet Joachim expertly brings them together in such a believable way that I won’t be surprised if ballparks across America find themselves over-run with “hot dog girl” applications. There is even a review on Amazon from someone who is a hot dog vendor! 

The story isn’t all romance. Joachim weaves a thrilling thread with Holly and her ties to a sketchy ex-boyfriend. Right from the first page, the hazardous and perilous life of Holly draws you in to her desperation and regret. While reading, I was constantly concerned for her safety. This book kept me on my toes in more than one way. 

Beginning with the introduction of Dan, I felt an immediate kinship with him. Coming from a small town myself, his charm and authenticity  really made me want better for him. While successful and incredibly talented, I loved how Joachim made him imperfectly real. He’s not the best there ever was. He’s not a Baseball prodigy. He’s a guy who is improving in many areas of his life. He’s like a regular guy who is growing and learning with each new experience life throws at him. He’s a guy you would be hard pressed not to like.

Since a good part of the secondary characters are single….I’m looking forward to future books exploring their lives and future (possible) loves!

I loved everything about this story. It’s sweet but tense. Thrilling and comforting. The best of both worlds. I highly recommend it.

5 stars!

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: Dan Alexander, Pitcher | Series: Bottom of the Ninth  |  Author(s): Jean C. Joachim  |Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform  / Publication Date: 9-21-2016 |Pages: 240 (Print) | ISBN: 978-1539025665  |Genre(s): Romance / Sports |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 2-17-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

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“The Bloodless – Awakening” Book Review

The year is 2100-something, Daniel Justice is just another geneticist working for GoD Laboratories, a big box, publicly traded biotechnology company. Then one day he proved that resurrecting the dead was not only possible, but economically viable. Back in the old days, this would have been a massive ethics debate, but in a world where religion is all but extinct, the conversation is a whole lot different.

Once someone is resurrected they are welcomed back into society with open arms, right? Wrong. They are shunned and treated like third class citizens. Abuse will only be tolerated for so long and when their patience is up, the resurrected population rises up and rebels against the very people who created them.

His coworkers are either dead or have vanished without a trace, but by a combination of luck and his own determination to live, Daniel escapes a similar fate. With the military already embroiled in an all-out war with Russia, it’s up to him and a small group of mercenaries to fight back against what is turning into a quiet genocide. Their survival depends on fending off overwhelming numbers of enemies that only desire death and destruction. Or does it?

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“The Bloodless” begins by dropping you right into the action. Right from the start your blood is pumping and your heart racing. Within the first few pages the characters quickly start to flesh out and the group dynamic forms quickly. It’s rare when I feel an immediate connection with any character, let alone an entire group of them. For someone who is fairly new to the novel game, Gibson does a good job building that bridge between reader and novel. That certainly isn’t easy but it appears that Gibson has a natural talent for it. If only he would of continued with that skill throughout the entire book. Instead, he does well in the beginning and misses lots of further opportunities to build later on.

“The Bloodless” initially comes across as another zombie story and that’s really too bad because while having zombie like attributes, the creatures that Gibson has created aren’t exactly zombies. For those of you who are heartily sick of the same zombie story being told over and over, let me quell your worries. “The Bloodless” is very unique and not at all a retelling.

The one area that I would like to see Gibson put some work into is transitions. When a new task is set before the team the writing is abrupt and I think Gibson is losing out on opportunities to world build and deepen his story line. This applies to the loss of characters too. There is a sense of sadness and loss but those feeling are only portrayed at face value. I would like to see Gibson take these events and use them to round out his characters. He is doing well on most all other avenues to build his characters but this one. Unfortunately, this is doing its fair share of damage and in doing so is keeping this book from being great. Without these corrections the book is still entertaining and I would label it “good”. However, without revision this book isn’t one that would stick with me for long. It lacks the depth.

The ending could also use a bit more work. This is another opportunity that Gibson should of used to deepen the readers knowledge of the world as well as give a bit more perspective into the whys of the worlds current standing. It appears that the main character is deep in the dark on most of the whys and his lack of perspective in some circumstances is a bit of a stretch. 

On the bright side, Gibson sneaks in a clever bit of foreshadowing. Those of us who picked up on it are looking forward to seeing it pan out.

4 star

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The Technical Data:

Title: The Bloodless – Awakening | Series: The Bloodless  |  Author(s): Andrew Gibson  |Publisher: Amazon Digital Services  / Publication Date: 9-2-2015 |Pages: 230 (Print) | ISBN: B014VDN1PC |Genre(s): Science Fiction|Language: English |Rating: 4 out of 5 |  Date Read: 1-20-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

To Be Read List!

How goes it my book besties? Here’s a sneak peak into what I’ll be reading this week! I’ve received some e-mails from a few antsy authors wanting to know what’s next in my queue so I’m going to bring back the weekly TBR post. Just a reminder, I review books for free and am also the mother of two very small children…. so it may take a while to get a review out. However, as you may already know…when I do review a book I take care to explain any issues I have with the book as well as heap on praise when a book blows me off my feet! I love reviewing books and I hope that by doing so I am connecting readers with awesome stories! Click on the covers to get more information about each book! If you have read any of the books on my list hit me up in the comments and let me know what you thought of it! No spoilers though! Ain’t nobody got time for that.

To Be Read

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Currently Reading

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Upcoming Reviews

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To Be Read

 

Book Review “Brain Rules for Baby” John Medina

What’s the single most important thing you can do during pregnancy? What does watching TV do to a child’s brain? What’s the best way to handle temper tantrums? Scientists know.

In his New York Times bestseller Brain Rules, Dr. John Medina showed us how our brains really work—and why we ought to redesign our workplaces and schools. Now, in Brain Rules for Baby, he shares what the latest science says about how to raise smart and happy children from zero to five. This book is destined to revolutionize parenting. Just one of the surprises: The best way to get your children into the college of their choice? Teach them impulse control.

Brain Rules for Baby bridges the gap between what scientists know and what parents practice. Through fascinating and funny stories, Medina, a developmental molecular biologist and dad, unravels how a child’s brain develops – and what you can do to optimize it.

You will view your children—and how to raise them—in a whole new light. You’ll learn:

Where nature ends and nurture begins
Why men should do more household chores
What you do when emotions run hot affects how
your baby turns out, because babies need to feel safe
above all
TV is harmful for children under 2
Your child’s ability to relate to others predicts her
future math performance
Smart and happy are inseparable. Pursuing your child’s
intellectual success at the expense of his happiness
achieves neither
Praising effort is better than praising intelligence
The best predictor of academic performance is not
IQ. It’s self-control
What you do right now—before pregnancy, during pregnancy, and through the first five years—will affect your children for the rest of their lives. Brain Rules for Baby is an indispensable guide.

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When I was pregnant with my first child I worried about everything. Me and every pregnant woman ever. I wish I would of have this book! Almost every question I had as a soon to be mom is answered! Best part about this book is that if, like me, you don’t find it while pregnant, the information has a wide age range. I learned a lot and will be implementing new approaches to my parenting.  My husband learned a ton too! This is a must have for both Mom & Dad!

The book is split into chapters and answers some of the most pressing issues parents face. Medina cites his methods with solid research and when the science is a bit lacking he is upfront and explains why he included that bit of information. So much of this book is backed up by research that your reading list will grow longer as you work your way through the book.

I found a lot of other good reading from this book and I, for one, am thankful that Medina so meticulously cited everything. With the absolutely insane amount of parenting books on the market, Medina’s book stands as a shining example to other authors. If you’re going to give advice….have the proof to back it up. Don’t contribute to the noise.

My favorite section of the book is “Smart Baby: Seeds”. Medina breaks down each point in an easy to understand format but goes into great detail. This book really is the holy grail.  

Medina includes interesting anecdotes throughout the story that are sometimes funny but always thought provoking. I really loved how Medina gave us the history of the IQ test! I had no idea!

In conclusion, I strongly recommend this book to parents. Medina has written a solid “manual” for not messing up your kid.

Thanks friend!

5 stars!

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: Brain Rules for Baby | Series: N/A  |  Author(s): John Medina  |Publisher: Pear Press  / Publication Date: 4-22-2014 |Pages: 336 (Print) | ISBN: 978-0983263388 |Genre(s): Parenting / Non Fiction|Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 1-08-2017 |Source: Copy from library.

Book Review “The Shade of the Moon” Susan Beth Pfeffer

The eagerly awaited addition to the series begun with the New York Times best-seller Life As We Knew It, in which a meteor knocks the moon off its orbit and the world changes forever.

It’s been more than two years since Jon Evans and his family left Pennsylvania, hoping to find a safe place to live, yet Jon remains haunted by the deaths of those he loved. His prowess on a soccer field has guaranteed him a home in a well-protected enclave. But Jon is painfully aware that a missed goal, a careless word, even falling in love, can put his life and the lives of his mother, his sister Miranda, and her husband, Alex, in jeopardy. Can Jon risk doing what is right in a world gone so terribly wrong?

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This is the fourth book in the “Life As We Knew It” series. It remains one of my all time favorite apocalyptic stories. Pfeffer has crafted these characters so expertly that I often find myself missing them and rereading the series. From the beginning, this story has rang so terribly real that I often open my curtains to check on the moon. You know, just in case.

One of my favorite things about this addition to the series is Jon’s narration. Before reading this book, he was the character I felt I knew the least about. In the other books he has mainly been in the background. It was interesting to see this world from his perspective. Interesting to see him deal with the two worlds he finds himself part of. That constant uncertainty would be unnerving. 

The class system that Pfeffer created is fascinating. The dehumanization of the “grubs” is a lot like what we do to the poor. Towards the end of the book, the “clavers” no longer acknowledge that the “grubbs” are human. Powerful people were spreading stories to further that ideology. Watching Jon struggle with the entitlement of living in the enclave while also being constantly reminded that he didn’t actually “belong” there was conflicting. Part of me wanted to kick his butt for being such a little jerk and not appreciating everything that everyone was doing for him. That part of me was assuaged when Jon rallies and helps his sister.

This series is a good look into a possible future and a cautionary tale to remind us all how fragile our society really is.

5 stars.

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: The Shade of the Moon | Series: Life As We Knew It  |  Author(s): Susan Beth Pfeffer  |Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers  / Publication Date: 9-16-2014 |Pages: 304 (Print) | ISBN:  978-0544336155 |Genre(s): Science Fiction / Young Adult / Apocalyptic |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 1-04-2017 |Source: Copy from personal collection.

Children’s Book Review “REX” Simon James

From the inimitable Simon James, a heartwarming story about a surprising dinosaur adoptive dad.

Once upon about 65 million years ago, a terrifying tyrannosaurus roams the earth. He spends his days raging through the jungle, scaring every other dinosaur in sight with his fierce roar. Then, one night while he is sleeping, an abandoned egg cracks open and out pops a tiny dinosaur who decides right then and there that this scary tyrannosaurus is his father. And so begins the touching story of a little dino and his search for a dad—a tale sure to resonate with families of all stripes.

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When it comes to Children, there is undoubtedly a huge demand for anything Dino. Both of my kids love dinosaurs and we have thoroughly exhausted two libraries worth of anything and everything Dinosaur. The same themes are often seen but when I picked up REX, I found a story that was not only fun for the kids but also dealt with a weighty issue.

See, there are a lot of kids out there who either have no family or live in a single parent household. Speaking as a child who was abandoned by both of my biological parents, there is a truck load of emotions that accompany these situations. As a kid who loved to read, it seemed that every book I picked up was about families or the main character had a family member who was trying desperately to find them.  

There really isn’t much children’s literature that deals with adoption or abandonment. This book handles it well. 

When we first meet little Rex, we know he is abandoned and that emotion is merely mentioned but not explored on. I was dissapointed until I read further and discovered that it is handled. This book doesn’t deeply examine this situation but in my mind, it’s perfect for its age range. It hits on the beginning of what children like me are looking for… association. Just to know that someone (even a make believe Dinosaur) knows about my life would of let me know as a child that I was not as alone as I felt.

Fantastic job. 5 stars.

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: REX | Series: N/A  |  Author(s): Simon James  |Publisher: Candlewick  / Publication Date: 7-12-2016 |Pages: 40 (Print) | ISBN:  978-0763672942 |Genre(s): Preschool / Adoption / Foster / Orphan |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 1-02-2017 |Source: Copy from Library.

Best Dinosaur Books For Kids!

Do you have a kiddo who is absolutely obsessed with Dinosaurs? My three year old son and even my one year old daughter are entranced by everything Dino! They live and breathe Dinos! They sleep in Dino pajamas. They eat off Dino plates. Heck, they even have Dino silverware. Having this level of obsession in my home has given me an insight into some pretty great Dinosaur books for kids. Let me tell you, there’s a whole lot of them. Here is a list of ten that we have read (not yet reviewed) and loved!

Treat the Dino lover in your life!

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What Dino books have your kids attention? We would love to see your list!

Best 50 Books of 2016

How goes it my fellow bibliophiles? 2016 has been one hell of a year. This year we have seen the death of many a beloved celebrity, a sketchy election and monumental social action. As for books, well, this year I have read some truly amazing stories. From fiction to non-fiction, my world has been rocked by the talent and bravery of so many authors. AlliesOpinions reviews a wide range of genres and I know there is something for every one this list! I am proud to present my picks for your viewing pleasure.

Note: Not all of the following books were released in 2016. This list is made up of books that I read, reviewed and loved this year. Click on the covers to learn more!

Enjoy!

delilah-dusticle-trans-adventure-new-cover         Fairest Book Cover            Life after the undead cover           Stick and Stone Cover     the-cabin-angela-shori-new-cover             The Dean Machine Cover sol of the coliseum cover        The Free Bronotosaurus      inequality book cover visionsight cover           The Split Book           walk in the flesh cover Britain at War Cover      The Insect Hotel Cover     Where Death Is A Hunter Cover

A Frog In the bog cover    Clean Cover       Smashing Book Cover                         The island on the edge of forever revised cover         Simply the wildside cover    Kyle evans cover Silverwood Cover               reaperlands-updated-cover     Eboracum Cover The Unknown Soldier cover               Titanborn Cover        Into The Dark Cover      Delivering Virtue New Cover      Solomon Crocodile Cover     The Keeper and the rulership cover       The Poverty Industry Cover            Private Lucky Cover          trauma shame and the power of love Cover        A Howl for Mayflower Cover           Fling Cover          sirens-song-cover

a-place-to-call-home-cover           the-virgin-queens-daughter-cover         all-her-secrets-cover

there-was-an-old-sailor-cover       hands-across-the-sky-cover              i-become-you-cover

moonstone-beach-cover             burned-cover       missing-mona-cover

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2016 delivered some awesome books! I’m looking forward to what 2017 will bring!

 

Book Review “The Collector” Nora Roberts

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From #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts comes a novel about a woman who needs nothing, a man who sees everything, and the web of deceit, greed and danger that brings them together—and could tear them apart…
 
When professional house-sitter Lila Emerson witnesses a murder/suicide from her current apartment-sitting job, life as she knows it takes a dramatic turn. Suddenly, the woman with no permanent ties finds herself almost wishing for one…
 
Artist Ashton Archer knows his brother isn’t capable of violence—against himself or others. He recruits Lila, the only eyewitness, to help him uncover what happened. Chalking up their intense attraction to the heat of the moment, Lila agrees to help Ash try to find out who murdered his brother and why. From the penthouses of Manhattan to grand Italian villas, their investigation draws them into a rarefied circle where priceless antiques are bought, sold, gambled away and stolen; where what you possess is who you are; and where what you desire becomes a deadly obsession…

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I want to kick this off by admitting that this book has been sitting on my shelf damn near all year long. My husband bought it for me earlier in the year when I was buried in my review pile. I’ve run my fingers over it’s cover at least 20 times wishing I had time to read it. Nora Roberts writes some pretty amazing books and I’ve been looking forward to (finally) reading “The Collector” for far too long. Considering I built up some serious anticipation for this book, I had to take a couple of days after reading it to decompress and make dang sure my review would be on the actual book and not my preconceived ideas of how it was going to go down. After decompression, this is what I’ve got.

The only character that I felt was close to fully fleshed out in “The Collector” was Lila. That’s not to say that she didn’t need some work. I thought I had a pretty good eye on who she was until Ash came into the picture. All the sudden, it was like Lila’s independent nature was squashed. She didn’t put up the fight I was expecting of her and it blurred who she was in my head.

I feel like Roberts should back almost all the way up with Ash. The “brooding artist” stereotype ruined him for me. I love his art and his steady side but found the few things I loved about him stomped on by his downright shitty behavior and inconsiderate nature. I could see that Roberts was trying to convince the readers that while brash, Ash cares about those around him but I’m not buying it. For the most part Ash acts like a douche and I don’t like him. I don’t think he is a good fit for anyone and feel that his behavior is abusive.

One of the main themes in this book is Obsession. The reader is hit with two forms. One slightly veiled in its intensity and the other’s is blatant and frightening. The veiled obsession still unsettles me. I felt the character exhibited some pretty frightening narcissistic traits that were passed off as bluntness. There is a big difference and I don’t like how this was passed off as a healthy relationship. 

The nefarious obsessor is blatant with his disregard for any life other than his own. I can see the distance Roberts tried to put between the “Obsessor’s” but felt that by only vilifying one she glossed over abuse in less obvious forms. Obsession is dangerous.

I love Lila’s profession and found it interesting to get a glimpse into that world. Roberts found a way to make house sitting seem exciting and I felt the job added nicely to who Lila was as a person. While having Gypsy tendencies, I felt Lila is also a very steady person. Someone to be trusted and cherished. Her kindness and thoughtfulness is so at odds with Ash’s domineering personality!

The book is well researched and the premise intriguing. I came away from the book with a mixed bag of emotion but ultimately enjoyed reading it. After serious consideration, I still feel like the book could stand to be reevaluated by the author. There is too much conflict for the romance to come across as anything other than abusive and I feel Roberts should consider this a bit further and consider who she really wants Ash to be.

3 stars.

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The Technical Data:

Title: The Collector | Series: N/A  |  Author(s): Nora Roberts  |Publisher:  Berkley / Publication Date: 4-15-2014 |Pages: 485 (Print) | ISBN:  B00FX7REI6 |Genre(s): Romance & Suspense |Language: English |Rating: 3 out of 5 |  Date Read: 11-27-2016 |Source: Copy from personal collection.

Delivering Virtue – Odyssey of the West!

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Hilariously inappropriate, squirmingly irreverent, and oddly charming, DELIVERING VIRTUE will deliver you on an epic journey out of your comfort zone and into a mystical transcendence you didn’t see coming.

Didier Rain, bumbling ne’er-do-well and dissolute poet, is hired by The Church of the Restructured Truth to deliver a child-bride across the American frontier of 1854 to their prophet Nehi in his stronghold at the City of Rocks. The landscape is rife with hooligans, carnal temptations, and acts of God or Mother Nature that threaten to avert Rain from fulfilling the righteous prophecy.
 “A tragicomic story, Delivering Virtue employs biting social commentary and stinging critiques of a variety of religious faiths with Chaucerian ribaldry. Threads of satire are skillfully woven into a tapestry of humor and pathos, magical realism and historical fact, along with swashbuckling adventure, depraved violence, and moments of heartrending tenderness.” – Clarion Foreword Reviews
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This book has been personally reviewed by AlliesOpinions! We found it to be entertaining and would explain it as the Odyssey of the west! Check out our review!

Delivering Virtue Review

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Review Stats

Amazon: 4.5 stars!

Goodreads: 5 stars!

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About The Author

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As a young man, Brian Kindall was undone by love. Oh, was she ever divine! Dark hair. Blue eyes. The smile of an angel. But then it all fell to ruin. For years afterward, the broken-hearted sap spent his time wandering about and scribbling self-absorbed tragedies that no one really cared about. His prose was impeccable, but useless to the world. Then one day, as if by magic, he matured. He peered into the abyss, became a father, got some perspective, and has been writing nothing but brilliant, entertaining novels ever since. These books – some for kids, some for grown-ups – are brimming with the absurdity, beauty, and mystery of life. Mister Kindall has become a master at playing humor against pathos, fairytales against reality, all for the sake of a good read that will surely enhance the life of any reader lucky enough to delve into the author’s adventure-laden pages.

He is the author of adult fiction novel DELIVERING VIRTUE, a Foreword Reviews 2015 IndieFab Book of the Year Finalist, and middle grade novels BLUE SKY, and PEARL. Moving, memorable fiction all. He resides on the shores of a pristine mountain lake with his wife and three kids somewhere in the middle of Idaho.

Want to know more?

Check out Brian Kindall’s Website! 

or

Check out our Interview with Mr. Kindall!


 

This book has the AlliesOpinions official stamp of approval. We recommend this book!

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Trauma, Shame & The Power Of Love

synopsis

Bronze Medal Winner of the 2016 Global Ebook Awards.

Awarded the Readers’ Favorite® 5-Star Seal (2015).

There is a reason books that recount the regrets and advice of the dying strike so deep a chord: people who have nothing left to lose can tell their stories with a sincerity and unpretentiousness we crave but that is all too rare. In “Trauma, Shame, and the Power of Love,” Christopher Pelloski relates his own downfall from a prominent physician-scientist in the field of radiation oncology in a similarly candid way.

Without fear of losing society’s good opinion—having lost it already—Pelloski has the freedom to be sharply honest in his observations of himself and the world around him. To the question “Why would someone with so much going for him risk, and then lose, everything, by sinking so low?” he offers a gut-wrenching, soul-baring answer that dissects his decades-long downward spiral and examines it from perspectives that range from the historical to the molecular.

Pelloski chronicles the evolution of his devastating legal battle alongside his concurrent journey of recovery from childhood sexual abuse. He shares with us the lessons he learned from these experiences in the hope they can serve as both a warning and an invitation: a warning to abuse survivors not to follow his dark path of silence, and an invitation to society to deal more openly with the multitude of painful issues that have shaped not only his life but also, tragically, the lives of so many others.

Those brave enough to set aside their prejudices and preconceptions will be richly rewarded and challenged by this work.

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This book has been personally reviewed by AlliesOpinions! We felt it brings much needed awareness to the “War on sex crimes”! To see the review, click the title below.

Trauma, Shame and the Power of Love

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Review Stats

Amazon: 4.4 Stars!

Goodreads: 3.8 stars!

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About The Author

Chris Pelloski Author Pic

CHRISTOPHER E. PELLOSKI earned his medical degree from the Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago in 2001. He was accepted into the Radiation Oncology Residency Training Program and eventually joined the faculty at the University of Texas – MD Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston, one of the top cancer centers in the world. After his recruitment to the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center in 2010, he ran a full clinical practice, supervised his own basic-science research laboratory, and served as his department’s Residency Program Director and as the Director of Pediatric Radiation Oncology.

Pelloski is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and subsequently suffered throughout most of his life with undiagnosed and untreated Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, with Dissociative Features.

In the summer of 2013, his personal, public, and professional life came to a painful reckoning.

Find out more!

Author’s Website

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Pelloski is currently working on a second book!


This book has the AlliesOpinions official stamp of approval. We recommend this book!

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Private Lucky! The Flying Dutchman’s Memoir.

synopsis

This true story of survival, determination, and incredible luck will lift your spirits and inspire you to never give up on your dreams! Some people are born lucky. Others make their own luck. As a boy, Hank wanted nothing more than to fly like the fighter pilots he admires in the skies over Amsterdam. When the lives of Dutch citizens are turned upside down with the Nazi occupation of Holland, his dreams will have to wait as he witnesses the tragic unfolding of events affecting those around him before finding himself in a fight for his own life. He must go into hiding before his sixteenth birthday despite the fact that he is not Jewish. After the war, his life takes another unexpected turn when he is enlisted by his father in the American Army in Germany where his inability to speak English results in hilarious missteps at every turn. He can roll with the punches if the Army will teach him to fly, but when he learns that pilot training stopped with the end of the war, it seems he’ll never reach his goal. Undaunted, Private Hank evolves into a suave and popular soldier. He learns what it means to be American, arriving in America broke but determined to pursue his lofty goals in a manner only this quirky and very lucky Dutch-American would even think of trying, flying by the seat of his pants to some of the highest levels of aviation.

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This book has been personally reviewed by AlliesOpinions! We LOVED it! To see the review, click the title below.

Private Lucky

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Review Stats

Amazon: 5 stars!

Goodreads: 4.8 stars!

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About the author button

MelissaGuzzetta

Melissa Guzzetta has owned The Computer Tutor Training company since 1998 and has always been an accomplished writer in the technical field, though recently, she has expanded into writing memoirs. She also founded Good Luck Publishing in 2014.

Find out more on the webpage Private Lucky !

This book has the AlliesOpinions official stamp of approval. We recommend this book!

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It’s Rome vs Celts in this Historical Novel “Eboracum” by Graham Clews!

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The time is A.D. 71, the place is Northern Britain. Set against the founding of York, and the real life characters who founded the ancient city, this award-winning novel follows the fate of Roman and Celt alike. Cethen Lamh-fada and his wife Elena are forced from their home by the Roman engineer Gaius Sabinius, as the Ninth legion moves in. From the first skirmish at Cethen’s village, to the inevitable battle as Stannick, The Village is a riveting tale laced with dark humour, hard romance and the reality of life in dangerous times. With no dashing heroes or outrageous villains, the story is about the people of the time.

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This book has been personally reviewed by AlliesOpinions! We LOVED it! To see the review, click the title below.

“Eboracum: The Village Review”


Review Stats

Goodreads: 4.7 average!

Amazon: 5.0 average!

Barnes & Noble: 5.0 average!

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Graham Clews Author Pic

Graham wrote his first novel, a World War II adventure story with a humorous slant, titled Don’t Budge, in 1980. The manuscript was submitted to the Alberta Search for a Novelist contest, and tied for first place against approximately fifty submissions. Doubleday Canada displayed interest and Graham met with two editors, who asked for a partial revision of the manuscript. After holding the novel for approximately a year and a half, Doubleday returned the manuscript with a letter explaining that it had been “bumped” by an author called Donald Jack. The episode was a ‘learning experience’, the principal one being a comment by one of the editors, a charming lady named Susan Dunlop. When offering words of encouragement, Susan said, “Graham, we would publish this tomorrow if you were someone!”

Somewhat discouraged, Graham hardly wrote at all over the next twenty years, and got on with his mid-life crisis: this involved politics, tough business investments and rejoining the Canadian Army Reserve at age forty five. To be blunt, he gave up on the publishing industry. However, he did submit a story to CBC radio that was selected for broadcast, won a humour award from the Edmonton Journal, and a prize for poetry.

At fifty five, Graham retired from the Army Reserve and with more time on his hands, decided to get serious about writing. In 2006 he published a middle grade fantasy novel titled Jessica Jones and the Gates of Penseron, which was evaluated, professionally edited, and kid-tested on a grade seven class in the Greater Vancouver area of British Columbia, where it was very well received. The book revolves around the changing world of Penseron, where mind matters more than matter, and time is merely a destination. The central character is a little person, Jessica Jones, who is lured to Penseron with her unwilling brother Jake, in order to solve—among other problems—the sudden disappearance of her ancient, first century look-alike. The book won the Edmonton BookAdz best novel of 2006 award.

In early 2007 Graham published Eboracum, The Village, a novel based on the founding of the English City of York (Eboracum) by the Romans in AD 71. This novel won the Premier Book Awards best historic novel of 2007/8. A second edition was updated on completion of the final book in the Eboracum Trilogy in 2010, and it was re-copyrighted at that time.

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There are two more books in this series that AlliesOpinions is set to review! Check them out for yourself!

Eboracum – The Fortress

Eboracum – Carved In Stone

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This book has the AlliesOpinions official stamp of approval. We recommend this book!

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A Dystopian Society Like No Other! “The Keeper and the Rulership”

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In a world where both magic and mathematics are forbidden, Raneh is growing magic and she can’t seem to stop. She’ll face the death penalty if anybody catches her, so she hides it in the weeds of her family’s land, pretending to be a typical eighteen-year-old heir. And it works.

Until the Ruler comes to visit.

Now, with the purpose of the Ruler’s visit a mystery and not only her safety but her family’s reputation in danger, she has to find a way to do the impossible:

Stop growing magic.

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This book has been personally reviewed by AlliesOpinions! We LOVED it! To see the review, click the title below.

“The Keeper and the Rulership Review”


Review Stats

Goodreads: 4.1 average!

Amazon: 4.5 average!

Barnes & Noble: 5.0 average!

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Emily Sorensen Author Pic

Emily Martha Sorensen is the author of The Keeper and the Rulership, Black Magic Academy, and the Fairy Senses series.  She also writes and draws a webcomic that updates every Friday: To Prevent World Peace.

She has four adorable little monsters (*ahem* children), and her husband is magnificent, wonderful, and even a great writer in the bargain: he wrote the fantasy book Prophecy, and he has a second book forthcoming soon.

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There is a sequel to this book! It’s set to release mid to late summer!

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This book has the AlliesOpinions official stamp of approval. We recommend this book!

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5 Star Children’s Book “The Insect Hotel”

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Click Here To Buy!

A 2013 ‘Wishing Shelf’ Gold Award Winner!!

Read the fun times and adventures Harry and his Dad share together during the day while working in their garden, then enjoy the fictional bed time stories Dad created for Harry about all the new insect friends they met that day.

The book also contains a lovely foreword from Nature expert and TV personality Bill Oddie who shares his high regard for both book and author with quotes like “if you think you can write better, I bet you can’t!”.

A book you and your young one’s will love and share together.



This book has been personally reviewed by AlliesOpinions! We LOVED it! To see the review, click the title below.

“The Insect Hotel”


Review Stats

Goodreads: 4.7 average!

Amazon : 5 average!

Purchase Links

Amazon : 6.00 (Paperback) 


 

About The Author

David Stringer Author Pic

David has recently written his first book, The Insect Hotel, which is about and includes three of his passions: His Family, His love of Nature and humor.

He is also embarking on a new career in the National Health Service, working in operating theaters.

His book, The Insect Hotel, is about him and his youngest son’s real life adventures in the garden as they attempt to occupy themselves as well as get some much needed gardening work done. Each chapter then moves onto bedtime (or should that be battle time) as David attempts to get his youngest off to sleep with some invented bedtime stories from their days adventures.

David is also very proud that Bill Oddie OBE, one of his childhood hero’s, agreed to write a lovely foreword for his book. If nothing else develops from this fun activity of attempting to write a book, he’ll always treasure some of Bill’s kind words.


This book has the AlliesOpinions official stamp of approval. We recommend this book!

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5 Star “The Three Graces” by Michele Wolfe

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Summary

College juniors Jessie, Isabel and Sara are linked in an unlikely friendship by visits to hidden places only they can see. Together on a trip to Hearst Castle in California an earth-shaking encounter with a stunning statue in the gardens binds them to the spirits of the Three Graces; Brilliance, Joy and Bloom.

Under the weight of school and family problems, Sara, Jessie and Isabel grow to be fast friends as they struggle with who they are and what will become of them. Until the fateful trip where they are gifted three magical pendants. Through these gifts the girls must find a way to unlock a centuries old curse and free the graces from their stone grave.

Will Brilliance, Joy and Bloom find freedom through the girls or will they forever be entombed in the statue of The Three Graces?

The Three Graces is a deep and beautiful story of discovery, of admitting to truths that have been buried, and of letting go of a past that hinders the present.

Buy it HERE!


This book has been personally reviewed by AlliesOpinions! We LOVED it! To see the review, click the title below.

The Three Graces


 

Review Stats

Amazon: 4.8 star average!

Barnes and Noble: 5 star average!

Goodreads: 4.5 star average! 

Purchase Links

AMAZON – 3.99 (Kindle) 12.99 (Paperback)

Barnes and Noble – 3.99 (Nook)


About The Author

Michele Wolfe Author Pic

Growing up between the Rocky Mountains and the city of Denver in Colorado, gave me a life-long love of both the scenic and the cosmopolitan. Soon after finishing college and becoming a teacher, I decided I wanted to explore the world. I took long road trips, spent time at Martha’s Vineyard, and fell in love with the ocean and California, which eventually became my home.

My marriage of twenty-three years and my two amazing sons have been an inspiration and my greatest support. To read an article published in the LA Times about us, go to: http://www.latimes.com/home/la-hm-affairs-20160102-story.html

Because being a busy teacher, mother and wife made finding time to write a challenge, I had to write whenever and wherever I could, even at the kitchen table. The first draft was conceived there next to my kids doing homework. Eventually I reworked it with a writing mentor and in writers’ groups.

I do a lot of research about historical times, places and people. Then I let the story and characters come to me in their own time, in their own way. I am inspired by music and art, which often influence a scene or a conversation. I hope my writing inspires others and makes people think and feel. And of course be entertained.

Sneak Peeks!

Michele is working on her next novel, Atoms of Memory, also about a work of art, this time a painting at the Museum of Modern Art in Rome.


This book has the AlliesOpinions official stamp of approval. We recommend this book!

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Book Review “Juliet’s Journey” Kathy Gates

 

synopsis

Juliet Carlsen is grieving the loss of her mother. Six weeks after the funeral she is about to arrive in a tiny village in northern Italy. The village, Baiardo, is home to an art school where she is to spend a month as a volunteer. Her best friend had convinced her that a change of scene would do her good but, as she nears her destination, she is not so sure: was it really necessary to travel so far out of her comfort zone?

Baiardo turns out to be her haven. The warm welcome and serene beauty work their healing magic. The attentions of a handsome local named Luca don’t hurt either. Then someone from Juliet’s past shows up and turns everything on its head.

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 As someone who has never been out of the US, I greatly enjoy traveling through books. Travel books continue to build my ever increasing desire to see all this great planet has to offer. Travel novels, like this one, are responsible for their fair share of wanderlust. Appeasing the desire to see the world by experiencing it through the eyes of a character in a book works for a little while but, a book like this one will come along and instead of quelling my gypsy nature…. it feeds it. Juliet was a great character for me to do my traveling through. Her appreciation for this small town in Italy is wondrous. I could feel the warmth on my skin. I could imagine the cream and sand colored buildings covered with creeping vines. The imagery in this story is well done.

Lets talk about Luca! What a sophisticated sounding man! Talk about googly eye worthy. He sounds so handsome! Just the right amount of gruff. A mans gotta have some gruff. 

Don’t all budding romances have a bit of blunder thrown in? Haven’t we all done something that we later want to bang our head against a desk repeatedly for?

I also love how they save the school! Housing addition hell is a particular peeve of mine. I am definitely one to appreciate the charm and character of a well built and well aged building. It irks the crap out of me when some joe-blow big shot comes in and tears these wonders down to build some cheap vacation nonsense. So, yay for the author having the same thoughts as me on that one.

I really enjoyed this story. It gets the full 5. ( I’ve been on a roll lately with good books!)

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: Juliet’s Journey | Author(s): Kathy Gates |

Publisher: Katherine Gates / Publication Date: 7-24-2015 |Pages: 57 (kindle edition) |
ISBN: B012IADIPI | Genre(s): Clean Reads Adult Romance | Language: English |
Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 9-30-2015 | Source: Copy From Author

Book Review for “The Fault In Our Stars” by John Green

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning-author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

the-fault-in-our-stars

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At first, I was apprehensive to read this book. My mother in law died of cancer a few years ago and it has been tough on the whole family. 

The authenticity of the feelings that Hazel experiences blew me away. The struggle she has here is so real. Dealing with these issues as a child and a teen is something I couldn’t imagine. How outcast it must make you feel. Which lets be honest…as a teen we all already feel like outcasts. 

I completely understand her worry about people getting attached to her. My mother in law often joked that she was a ticking time bomb. I can’t imagine how lonely that feeling really is. Especially for someone who hasn’t had all those years without being sick. 

Gus is such a cool guy! So much personality! He’s a whirlwind. Gus is that perfect person to help you remember that as long as your alive….you may as well live. I loved him from the moment he explained his cigarette metaphor. Clever fella.

Their love story is so special. It brings tears to my eyes to think of that grasping feeling they both must of had. That feeling the rest of us take for granted. Whereas, we have this “that’ll never happen to me” attitude…they don’t. It’s already happened.   

I learned myself years ago that funerals are for the living. The person everyone is talking about isn’t what those left behind need to heal. It’s keeping the rest of us off the cliff to oblivion. It’s reminding each of us that we are still here. So, make the best of it. Do something with it. Never take it for granted.

This book spoke to me on so many levels. 

I give it the full 5.

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: The Fault In Our stars | Series: N/A  |  Author(s): John Green  |Publisher: Penguin Books / Publication Date: 4-08-2014 |Pages: 336 (Print) | ISBN: 978-0142424179 |Genre(s): Fiction / Young Adult / Cancer / Social & Family Issues|Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 2015 |Source: Copy from personal collection.

 

Can Reading Make You More Empathetic?

According to Neuroscience….yes it can. I recently came across an article on “Psychology Today” that explored this very subject. I’ve often said that reading has incredible benefits to society and science backs me up on that assessment.

When I read, I’m transported to the mind of the character. I’m in the story. I’m wielding a battle axe or sipping from a chalice while surveying my kingdom. I’m running from a hit-man or twirling in my ballgown at the coronation. I am the character and the character is me. My brain learns from these characters trials and triumphs. I gain from their experiences and each life I live adds to the mix that is me.

From the article:

“Neuroscientists mapping the brain have discovered that reading fiction taps into the same brain networks as real life experience. When you are engaged in reading a fictional story your brain is literally living vicariously through the characters at a neurobiological level.”

The article also touches on the “Theory of Mind” and how even fiction improves it. If you’re not familiar with this term it’s “the ability to attribute mental states — beliefs, intents, desires, pretending,knowledge, etc. — to oneself and others and to understand that others have beliefs, desires, and intentions that are different from one’s own.”

In my own experiences, I have found that those who have came into my life as readers were typically more understanding and had a global view of the world and it’s problems while those who were not readers were more isolationist. 

In my own life, I read often to my children and will continue to do so. I hope that you will consider reading more too.

Quote credit goes to “Psychology Today”. The article I’ve referenced is below.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201412/can-reading-fictional-story-make-you-more-empathetic

Book Quote 1

 

Spotlight On Romance!

Sparking Heart

Hello fellow book junkies! Today I would like to spotlight one of my favorite genres. Romance is a popular genre all around but I think people seek it out for different reasons. Some are a sucker for a good love story. Some, like me, probably love it for its reliably good endings and some of us….well, some of us are probably in it for the steamy sections. 

Romance, for me, is another way that I can live vicariously through another. That’s why I read anything. Even non-fic. I want to open my eyes as another. See worlds and people in a different light. Literature, in all its forms, helps people build a world view of events or cultures. 

The following list is a small selection of stories that I find myself re-reading for different reasons that I will highlight under each selection. Some of these books are not straight romance and that’s okay because life doesn’t fit neatly into one genre. 

The shadow Of The Lynx Cover

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 I found this book for 5 cents at a garage sale when I was only 18. The complexity of the characters is what has me going back again and again. I love how well researched this book is and the quality of the writing is amazing. Holt explores love and it’s intricacies while drawing the reader into multiple different viewpoints of the same events. When I want to get lost in another time, this is one of my favorite worlds to live in.

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This is a new addition to my repertoire. I love how the characters come together and the story is multi-faceted. Dan is one of my all time favorite good ol’ boys and I found that Holly complemented him very well. 

 The Host Cover

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“The Host” is a perfect blend of sci-fi, survival and romance. I find myself going back to this story again and again due to it’s ability to squirm right into my imagination and transport me almost immediately to another life…or lives I should say. It’s authenticity is striking and it’s characters unforgettable. 

Emma Cover

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Jane Austen’s stories will now and forever hold a place in my heart but Emma, Emma will forever and always be my all time most favorite book. I first read this book when I was a younger teen and the transformation of Austen’s characters was the catalyst that changed my perception of people in all walks of life.

The Mine Cover

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This book is a bit of everything but it’s love story is special to my heart. Who doesn’t love a story where the bond between lovers transcends through time and nothing will stop the power of their love. 

I hope that you enjoyed my selections. If you’ve read any of the books I’ve listed I would love to hear your thoughts! 

Book Review “Ribbonworld” Richard Dee

Miles Goram has a problem. All the down-on-his-luck journalist planned on doing was writing a hotel review and now there’s a body in his bathroom. Far from home on a strange planet, Miles must deal with the fact that somebody wants him dead.
Welcome to Reevis, a planet without days or nights where life is only possible under a vast pressure dome. It is on this airless wasteland that Miles finds himself caught up in a mystery involving a huge interplanetary corporation, a powerful man and his ambitious PA, and a beautiful young heiress who has been missing for years.

Crossing the galaxy in search of answers, Miles begins to uncover a web of deceit that stretches further than anyone could have imagined. With his life becoming at greater and greater risk, he realizes that there is no one he can trust. Will he discover the truth and finally come to terms with his past? And, if he does, will it be enough to save his future…?

ribbonworld-cover

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“Ribbonworld” is one of those books that is easy to relate to. You wouldn’t initially think so since it’s based on a fictional settlement but it’s themes are comparable to current day.

The pace is fast and Miles finds himself right in the middle of a conflict that goes far deeper than a hotel review. At first, Reevis’ dome and people feel claustrophobic and Miles is ping ponged between different factions without having a clear view of who has motives, what they are and what his role is in them. What a convoluted mess! 

After some time the picture is less blurry and the allure of this planet of extremes starts to wiggle its way into Miles’ psyche.  The planet descriptions are one of my most favorite aspects of this book. I was transfixed with the beauty of it all. Mr Dee enraptures the reader with his poetic descriptions and the pictures he painted swirled in my mind deepening the stories impact as I read. 

This is a story of intrigue and the relationship between a powerful company with little oversight and the people who built it. This is a look into what can happen when money is more important than people and integrity is an afterthought for the greedy. This is a story that transcends these pages and is eerily similar to the past, present and probably the future. 

Solid 5 stars.

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: Ribbonworld | Series: N/A  |  Author(s): Richard Dee  |Publisher: SilverWood Books  / Publication Date: 11-2-2015 |Pages: 201 (Print) | ISBN:B016N4YAI4 |Genre(s): Science Fiction / Mystery / Thriller / Suspense  |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 2-8-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

Book Review “The Junkyard Capital”Jak Locke

Senator Aphid only wanted to improve his country, though after four years in the District of Laws he really should have known better. He’s removed from office and soon grudgingly finds himself paired with Frog Dell, the reckless and self-indulgent hermit of the junkyard. As the two evade the wrath of a government run amok with corruption, dissension spreads through the public, and conspiracy reigns. What role does psychiatrist and part-time inventor Weasel McKenzie play in the upcoming Archministry election? How does front-runner candidate and acclaimed playwright J. Thomas Capra plan to fix the broken nation? Who’s being stalked by merciless bounty hunter Jack Dingo? Why is Dead Fish wandering an empty version of the world? The pressure escalates quickly in this twisting, zany, fast-paced and subversive satire that, like real politics, requires (and prefers) absolutely no prior political knowledge. NOTE: This book is the heavily revised second edition of the now out-of-print book Frog Dell’s Junkyard.

the-junkyard-capital-cover

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I’d like to start this review with sharing some of my favorite passages of this book. “The Junkyard Capital” is one of those books that you could basically highlight from cover to cover. It’s probably the most quotable fiction novel I’ve read in awhile. I hope you enjoy the few I’ve selected for you.

“Well that’s a bit rude, but then again, genius is never understood by the layman, so why the lawman?” 

“I’d be interested in your package that includes just leaving me be, that was nice. How much is that? Is that a thing we can do?”

“Ahh Good, more like Ahh Stop. Have you considered working in corrections?”

“What kind of person thinks to run to be Archminister? The idealistic fool, the strict careerist, and the sinister. In short, the only sorts the job description’s not revolted, are unqualified to do it or the type that shouldn’t hold it.”

“All must awaken eventually; for even the sweetest dream is just that”

“The Junkyard Capital” begins by dropping the reader right into the mind of a few characters that really appear to be way off their rocker. Have you ever heard the saying “He/she has the attention span of a nat”? There’s a couple characters in here that definitely fit the bill. 

Just as I was about 40% into the book, a lot of things started to come together in really unexpected and very clever ways. Once you get passed the  assumed madness of their minds and the full picture comes into view, I promise it will all make sense and will blow your mind. I especially enjoyed the “News Debate” sections. There’s a lot going on and the updates help to keep events in order without boring the reader by rehashing the whole ordeal. Very clever strategy from Locke.

While “The Junkyard Capital” is definitely a fictional story, it was also eerily similar to current events. I’ll admit there was more than once that I looked up from the pages and pondered the similarity.

The ending completely blew my mind. Like, total head explosion. I did a double take and yelled WHHHAAATT???? at my Kindle. My whole family whipped their heads around and eyed me like I had lost my mind. Which I did because it’s rare I don’t catch onto the climax before it happens. Well done Locke, well done.

I even reread a good portion of the book to see if I could catch it and even knowing whats to come, I still couldn’t see it. It amazes me that this is Locke’s first novel. It’s incredibly well staged and boy has he set the bar high! 

One thing Locke has excelled at with this story is his complex character building. Locke also impressed me with his writing ability to “show” the reader instead of “tell” the reader. This isn’t as easy as it sounds and I was duly impressed with Locke’s skill. This book is cleverly crafted and masterfully written. I am absolutely blown away! For lovers of politics and all it’s intricacies, this is definitely the book for you.

Solid 5 stars!

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: The Junkyard Capital | Series: N/A  |  Author(s): Jak Locke  |Publisher: Amazon Digital Services  / Publication Date: 2-1-2017 |Pages: 200 (Print) | ISBN: 978-1542836135  |Genre(s): Political Satire / Fiction  |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 2-25-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

jak-locke-author-pic

Jak Locke is an entertainer, filmmaker, and programmer obsessed with exploring every form of expression. The Junkyard Capital is his first book and gives his degree in political science some relevance to his life for once. He is a lifelong New Orleans area resident.

Book Review “The Scale” Mika Jolie

Twenty-seven year old, African-American, Minka Greene has to endure watching her twin sister marry the man she loves. Her weight is up, and her confidence is down. Not exactly the ideal time to meet the real man of her dreams. The Scale opens in Martha’s Vineyard with Minka attending Keely and Blake’s engagement party at Martha’s Way, the beautiful inn owned and operated by the tall, blond, tattooed man with the piercing blue eyes. It just so happens Jason Montgomery is also Blake’s childhood friend and the best man. Dealing with a whirl of emotions, Minka faints in Jason’s arms. When she wakes up naked in Jason’s bed after a night of passion, the Vineyard confirmed bachelor struggling with his own demons and the woman filled with self-doubt and pining for another man are joined in an experience that will change their lives.

the-scale-cover

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Sexy Alert! This book is so hot it’ll smolder and burn down your bookshelf! This couples chemistry is lava. It’s straight gasoline and matches! Jolie really knows how to kick romance novel butt!

Alongside being one hot romance novel, this book also addresses some pretty serious issues. Especially body insecurity and eating disorders. Kudos to Jolie for masterfully navigating these grave issues. 

Body insecurity plagues almost everyone at some point in life or another and Minka’s struggle came across so authentically that my heart ached every time she stepped on that scale or chastised herself. I love Minkas character. I loved being part of her journey. Jolie has real skill with connecting her readers to her characters on a deep emotional level. I found myself almost immediately emotionally invested in Minka and that only deepened the further I read.

Jason is also masterfully crafted. Jolie really dove into his character and his complexities were fascinating. Jason’s struggle with his past deepened his character and helped to fully flesh out who he was. He was a bit boorish at times but also very perceptive and achingly kind in others. I loved his approach with Minka’s body issues. 

The only setback I have with this book is the stereotypical gender roles. While most of Jolie’s character building is amazing, each time she threw in a stereotype the hold the story had on me loosened. People are individual and throwing in these “masculinity” stereotypes just tarnished the authenticity of the story. My main point of contention is that Jason had an abundance of sexual partners while Minka had considerably less. With her body image issues this narrative helps deepen her character but I found myself disillusioned with Jason’s promiscuity. I can understand he went off the deep end for a bit but that wasn’t the only time he had this issue.

This is otherwise a solid book and I enjoyed reading it.

4 star

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The Technical Data:

Title: The Scale | Series: Martha’s Way  |  Author(s): Mika Jolie  |Publisher: My Happy Chaos Publishing  / Publication Date: 9-9-2015 |Pages: 300 (Print) | ISBN: B0156VKSK4  |Genre(s): Romance  |Language: English |Rating: 4 out of 5 |  Date Read: 2-18-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

WWW Wednesday

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This prompt comes from Sam over at Taking On A World Of Words. Leave a comment with your list or a link to your blog! Click on the covers for more information about each book.

www wednesday

What are the three W’s?

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What are you reading next?

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Currently Reading

the-junkyard-capital-cover

 Senator Aphid only wanted to improve his country, though after four years in the District of Laws he really should have known better. He’s removed from office and soon grudgingly finds himself paired with Frog Dell, the reckless and self-indulgent hermit of the junkyard.

As the two evade the wrath of a government run amok with corruption, dissension spreads through the public, and conspiracy reigns. What role does psychiatrist and part-time inventor Weasel McKenzie play in the upcoming Archministry election? How does front-runner candidate and acclaimed playwright J. Thomas Capra plan to fix the broken nation? Who’s being stalked by merciless bounty hunter Jack Dingo? Why is Dead Fish wandering an empty version of the world?

The pressure escalates quickly in this twisting, zany, fast-paced and subversive satire that, like real politics, requires (and prefers) absolutely no prior political knowledge.

NOTE: This book is the heavily revised second edition of the now out-of-print book Frog Dell’s Junkyard.   

Completed

dan-alexander-pitcher-cover

Fed up with cheating women, Dan Alexander, star pitcher for the New York Nighthawks, grew restless. Searching for something more than a bar babe, he zeroed in on a girl in the stands. He never expected to see a beautiful chick pushing frankfurters. But the hot dog girl looked as smokin’ as the food she was selling. Holly Merrill found a place to hide in plain sight, as a vendor at Nighthawks’ stadium. Keeping her secret safe and simply happy to stay alive, she never considered finding love an option. After all, a bad girl doesn’t deserve a decent guy, does she? Coming off his best season ever, Dan went into the playoffs, hell bent on winning the pennant and playing in the World Series. But could he maintain his focus on the field, where everything was going right, when off the field everything was falling apart?

Up Next

the-incredible-adventures-of-scruffer-and-co-part-1-cover

A self-centered teddy bear becomes real and has to learn how to live in this new reality. He is soon joined by other teddy bears with differing personalities. Together, they embark on a series of comical adventures as only fun loving teddy bears can.

Come join them as they
•Discover all the intricacies and rituals of living in a Queendom
•Cope with a chocolate chip cookie shortage
•Survive the prospect of being on Santa’s Naughty Kids List
•Put all their education from comic books to good use
•And much, much more

If you enjoy the characters and humor of Calvin and Hobbs, The Far Side, and Peanuts, you will definitely fall in love with this comical company of teddy Bears as they experience the world from their unique perspective.

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