Thursday, January 30, 2014

"Knox's Stand" By: Jamie Begley Review

18605047

Knox’s Stand

By: Jamie Begley
Synopsis
Knox, a former Navy Seal, has been in several dangerous situations, but nothing compares to dealing with Diamond Richards. Framed for murder, he needs the passionless lawyer to prove his innocence. But when he no longer needs her help, he’s going to show her the passion she’s capable of and walk away a free man. Diamond plans on earning her huge fee to prove Knox is innocent, but she had no idea the muscled biker could bring out the passion she kept hidden behind her designer clothes. Trying to find a murderer is easier than dealing with The Last Riders and Knox’s sexcapades. He’s going to find out there is one woman worth standing and fighting for, despite his desire for freedom.
My Thoughts
      This series is like a chocolate cake covered in caramel candies and chocolate icing. It has its faults, and you know its gonna leave you hung over in the morning, but boy do you crave it. An addicting storyline with compelling characters, I have literally devoured the Last Riders Series over a long weekend and now I’m jonesing for my next slice of cake. 
      Knox has always been the super bad boy of the Last Riders Motorcycle Club. After spending the night with the terrible Sam, he finds himself on the wrong side of the law when she is found dead the next morning. Being the only suspect in a town that hated Sam, Knox needs a defense attorney and he needs one fast.
       Enter Diamond, a lawyer in the small town who left the motorcycle life far behind. Her father and mother had lived the life, and now with her own sister part of a club, Di wants to stay as far away as she can from that lifestyle. When the Last Riders Motorcycle club ask her to defend Knox, Di is hesitant at first but eventually sees more to the hardened criminal than he wants anyone else to see.
       I enjoyed Di and Knox’s story and loved the constant conflict between the two. These two are complete polar opposites and as they get to know one another, they find there is something in eachother that they truly connect with. My absolute favorite scene is when Diamond takes suspected motorcycle killer Knox home to meet her parents, who are the former leaders of their own motorcycle club. It was fun to see the worlds collide and have Diamond in the middle.
      So far this is my favorite of the series. You can see Begley is coming into her own as an author and the grammar errors have been cut down significantly. There are still some which temporarily take you out of the story, but not as many as in the previous stories. Begley also pays more attention to the characters and their motivations, and I just found myself understanding this romance much more than I have previously.
        With great characterization of main and secondary characters, far few plot holes and far less grammar errors, it feels like Begley is becoming an author to watch out for. She’s built a rich biker world and I can only seeing it get better!




Book Details
Publisher: Young Ink Press, LLC
# of Pages: 220
Date of Publication: November 2, 2013
ASIN: B00GG16OOG
Source: Personal Purchase

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

"Viper's Run" By: Jamie Begley Review

18192699
Viper’s Run
By: Jamie Begley
Synopsis
Winter Simmons received the surprise of her life when she discovered the man she had been dating for the last two years was actually Viper, president of the Last Riders. A high school principal, Winter has no intention of ruining her reputation in the community to be with a man who betrayed her trust. Unforgiving, she turns her back on him, only to find that Viper is not the gentleman he portrayed.
Determined to find his brother’s killer, Loker James kept his identity as President of The Last Riders a secret from Winter. When the truth comes out, he is determined to make her see the real man who can control not only a group of dangerous bikers, but a woman whose life is a rulebook. Unable to prevent herself from being drawn into the very club she despises, Winter is about to lose everything important to her, unless Viper can prove she’s more than a moonlight run.
My Thoughts
      Winter Simmons is the local High School’s Principal and paragon of her comunity. She has been dating local business Loker James for almost two years. Never going beyond the casual date or watching movies, Winter is surprised when it is revealed that Loker is none other than the President of the local Motorcycle gang and is called Viper.
       Viper dated Winter for almost two years in an effort to get closer to her cousin, Vincent. Vincent had killed his brother years before and Viper needed a way to get closer, so he used Winter. When Winter finds out what he has done, she is devastated...but shocked when Viper ultimately decides that he wants Winter in his life regardless of anything that has happened before.
       When I originally read this book, I read this book first in the series. HUGE mistake, let me tell you. If you try to read this book first, it is completely confusing. I didn’t understand the characters, and as you start the book, its almost expected for you to have read the first book. Characters aren’t explained at all and I was pretty well lost for the first third of the book, still not realizing I was reading the series in the wrong order. There are numerous grammar issues and multiple problems with pronouns throughout which can easily take you out of the story when you try to figure out what the author was actually meaning.
       While Viper’s Run does have the good girl bad boy romance thing going on, it goes beyond that. Winter is beaten very badly and requires extensive physical therapy. At the beginning of the novel, you absolutely hate Viper. He seems self-centered, egotistical, and only out for what he wants. Yet when she’s horribly hurt, he comes through for her more than he ever had to and much more than I ever thought.
       So all in all a fairly decent story. I had problems because of not reading the series in the right order but the grammar issues also kept me from loving the story like I wanted. Great dynamics though after you get into the story and lets be honest, I liked them enough to read all three within a weekend. Ultimately it was the character that had me coming back for more, which is a true testament to the author’s work. Just please oh please, get a new editor! 

Last Riders Series

Book Details
Publisher: Young Ink Press, LLC
Date of Publication: August 19, 2013
ISBN: 978-1301345120
# of Pages: 282
Source: Personal Purchase

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"Razer's Ride" By: Jamie Begley Review

18054056
Razer’s Ride
By: Jamie Begley


Synopsis
Beth Cornett is the town good girl, so staying out of the way of the motorcycle club’s dangerous members was a no brainer. Unfortunately, she manages to catch the eye of Razer, who has every intention of tempting her to take him on despite her misgivings. When her worst fears are realized, she is left heartbroken, determined to forget her walk on the wild side.
Razer was not going to change for any woman, not even Beth. Their lifestyles were too different; betrayed she ran. Realizing his mistake too late; she was not about to forgive and forget. It takes a killer intent on targeting Beth to bring her back to him and The Last Riders for protection. Razer may have learned his lesson, but this time, as long as she is at the club, she has to play by their rules.
My Thoughts
      Going through a list of new motorcycle romance books, I came across the Last Riders Series by Jamie Begley. Always open to a new series and I love to come across a new author, so I decided to pick up the first few in the series.
    Beth is the stereotypical good girl in a backwater town. Her father was a preacher who preached hell fire and damnation to the town. Growing up in that environment, Beth was sheltered from the harsher aspects of life and frankly had never let her hair loose for a single moment. Protecting her sister comes naturally to her and though conflict and pain were never strangers for Beth, she’s determined to have more to her life.
    Razer has never claimed to be an angel. Attracted to the good girl next door, it seems as if Razer can’t wait to see how bad she can be. Even when Beth tries to initiate a relationship with the local pastor, she is drawn back in by Razer who she almost becomes addicted to. With her background, her emotionally unstable sister, and a man who can’t commit to only her, Beth has to decide exactly how much she can handle.
    So a few disclosures before I talk about what I thought - I read this book out of order. I bought the first three but accidentally read Viper’s Run first. With that said, I liked Razer and Beth enough in the second book to come back and read the first book. However, Razer’s Ride is probably my least favorite book of the three.
    Beth and Razer never seem to go together. Beth is the virginal daughter of a preacher, always taught to be almost exactly the opposite of everything Razer is. Razer is as bad as bad can be, he’s a motorcycle madman. He’s free with his body, with alcohol, and has a fairly laissez-faire attitude. So in all honestly, I found it awfully hard that each character could change as much as they did. Pretty far leap to be quite honest.
    Razer’s Ride is the first book in the Last Riders Series and tells the story of badboy Razer and the sweet preacher’s daughter, Beth. Overall the romance was enjoyable but it had some pretty major problems. Grammar and word usage weren't always correct, which is the fastest way to take me out of the story. The story was a bit far reaching in aspects, but kept me coming back to read the subsequent stories. Fair overall but having finished the rest of the series, it is worth coming back for more.      



Book Details
Publisher: Young Ink Press
Date of Publication: September 10, 2013
# of Pages: 179
ASIN: B00DAMVJMS
Source: Personal Purchase

Friday, January 24, 2014

King and Maxwell by David Baldacci

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (November 19, 2013)

It seems at first like a simple, tragic story. Tyler Wingo, a teenage boy, learns the awful news that his father, a soldier, was killed in action in Afghanistan. Then the extraordinary happens: Tyler receives a communication from his father . . . after his supposed death.

Tyler hires Sean and Michelle to solve the mystery surrounding his father. But their investigation quickly leads to deeper, more troubling questions. Could Tyler's father really still be alive? What was his true mission? Could Tyler be the next target?

Sean and Michelle soon realize that they've stumbled on to something bigger and more treacherous than anyone could have imagined. And as their hunt for the truth leads them relentlessly to the highest levels of power and to uncovering the most clandestine of secrets, Sean and Michelle are determined to help and protect Tyler--though they may pay for it with their lives. (Amazom.com)

My Thoughts:  I always like to read David Baldacci, he never seems to disappoint.  The book, while somewhat convoluted and sometimes a bit far fetched, was a good thriller.  I like King and Maxwell - they are two very strong characters and they create a real partnership with equally essentials parts to play in the thriller. I am guessing that we will see more of Maxwell and King series and I am sure that I will read the subsequent titles.

I actually listened to the audio version with Ron McLarty reading and I enjoyed his reading of the story.  Mr. McLarty has read many of Baldacci's novels.

ZORRO GETS AN OUTFIT by Carter Goodrich

Hardcover, 48 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers 


What an adorable book!  My son and I thoroughly enjoyed this!

Zorro and his friend, Mister Bud, are excited to go for a walk to play in the park, that is, until Zorro is forced to wear his new outfit.  He is clearly unhappy about this, and completely embarrassed to be seen in public, especially when the other dogs, and even a cat, make fun of him.  Nothing Mister Bud does will cheer his little friend up, until they meet another dog.  A fast dog who can do amazing tricks, and who was wearing an outfit of his own!  The new dog turns Zorro's day around with the words, "Hey, cool outfit!  Let's race!"

Not only is this a cute story, but I also think it subtly teaches children that it's okay to be different, and that being nice to others can make their day.  I also loved how the illustrations really portray the range of the dog's emotions.  I especially love the picture of the 3 dogs racing and having fun.  It cracks me up every time I see it!


 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Imperial Cruise by James Bradley



  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (November 24, 2009)

Bradley’s first books, Flags of Our Fathers (2000) and Flyboys (2003), were sensationally popular World War II combat stories. His new one, about U.S.-Japanese diplomacy in 1905, represents a departure. Asserting a causal connection between diplomatic understandings reached then and war 36 years later, Bradley dramatizes his case with a delegation Theodore Roosevelt dispatched to Japan in the summer of 1905. Led by Secretary of War William Taft and ornamented by the president’s quotable daughter Alice, it sailed while TR hosted the peace conference between victorious Japan and defeated Russia. As he recounts the itinerary of Taft’s cruise, Bradley discusses attitudes of social Darwinism and white superiority that were then prevalent and expressed by TR and Taft. They modified their instincts, Bradley argues, in dealing with nonwhite Japan, and secretly conceded it possession of Korea. This is what Bradley asserts was a prerequisite to Pearl Harbor in 1941, a dubious thesis when the tensions of the 1930s stemmed from general Japanese aggressiveness, not its control of Korea per se. Bradley does fine on 1905 but falters when predicting the future. --Gilbert Taylor (Booklist)

Theodore Roosevelt steers America onto the shoals of imperialism in this stridently disapproving study of early 20th-century U.S. policy in Asia. Bestselling author of Flags of Our Fathers, Bradley traces a 1905 voyage to Asia by Roosevelt's emissary William Howard Taft, who negotiated a secret agreement in which America and Japan recognized each other's conquests of the Philippines and Korea. (Roosevelt's flamboyant, pistol-packing daughter Alice went along to generate publicity, and Bradley highlights her antics.) Each port of call prompts a case study of American misdeeds: the brutal counterinsurgency in the Philippines; the takeover of Hawaii by American sugar barons; Roosevelt's betrayal of promises to protect Korea, which greenlighted Japanese expansionism and thus makes him responsible for Pearl Harbor. Bradley explores the racist underpinnings of Roosevelt's policies and paradoxical embrace of the Japanese as Honorary Aryans. Bradley's critique of Rooseveltian imperialism is compelling but unbalanced. He doesn't explain how Roosevelt could have evicted the Japanese from Korea, and insinuates that the Japanese imperial project was the brainstorm of American advisers. Ironically, his view of Asian history, like Roosevelt's, denies agency to the Asians themselves. Photos, maps. One-day laydown.(Nov. 24)  (Publisher's Weekly)

My Thoughts:  This was a time and story in American history that was not to familiar to me.  Mr. Bradley has a very interesting take on America of this time and of Teddy Roosevelt.  The Roosevelt in this book is not the image of  a cuddly "Teddy Bear" that most individuals have of him.  According to Mr. Bradley, President Roosevelt and his policies of the early 1900's were reason that Japan became imperialistic and eventually bombed Pearl Harbor.  Mr. Bradley does not paint a very pretty picture of our leaders at that time - the story shows that there was truly a lack of transparency in the United States government at that time.  Even if you do not buy into all of Mr. Bradley's postulations. the reader should realize that we should question. study, and read about our history, both sides of the issues.   

I would recommend this book. At times it was hard to follow but I would suggest reading it with other histories of Teddy Roosevelt and America in the early 1900's.  

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton




  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press; Reprint edition (February 16, 2010)

The Forgotten Garden takes root in your imagination and grows into something enchanting--from a little girl with no memories left alone on a ship to Australia, to a fog-soaked London river bend where orphans comfort themselves with stories of Jack the Ripper, to a Cornish sea heaving against wind-whipped cliffs, crowned by an airless manor house where an overgrown hedge maze ends in the walled garden of a cottage left to rot. This hidden bit of earth revives barren hearts, while the mysterious Authoress's fairy tales (every bit as magical and sinister as Grimm's) whisper truths and ignite the imaginary lives of children. As Morton draws you through a thicket of secrets that spans generations, her story could cross into fairy tale territory if her characters weren't clothed in such complex flesh, their judgment blurred by the heady stench of emotions (envy, lust, pride, love) that furtively flourished in the glasshouse of Edwardian society. While most ache for a spotless mind's eternal sunshine, the Authoress meets the past as "a cruel mistress with whom we must all learn to dance," and her stories gift children with this vital muscle memory. --Mari Malcolm (www.amazon.com)

In 1913, a little girl arrives in Brisbane, Australia, and is taken in by a dockmaster and his wife. She doesn’t know her name, and the only clue to her identity is a book of fairy tales tucked inside a white suitcase.  When the girl, called Nell, grows up, she starts to piece together bits of her story, but just as she’s on the verge of going to England to trace the mystery to its source, her grandaughter, Cassandra, is left in her care. When Nell dies, Cassandra finds herself the owner of a cottage in Cornwall, and makes the journey to England to finally solve the puzzle of Nell’s origins. Shifting back and forth over a span of nearly 100 years, this is a sprawling, old-fashioned novel, as well-cushioned as a Victorian country house, replete with family secrets, stories-within-stories, even a maze and a Dickensian rag-and-bone shop. All the pieces don’t quite mesh, but it’s a satisfying read overall, just the thing for readers who like multigenerational sagas with a touch of mystery. --Mary Ellen Quinn (Booklist)

My Thoughts:  I enjoyed The Forgotten Garden,  The story begins in 1913 and we travel forward to 1975 and the 2000's following Nell and her granddaughter as they try to solve the mystery surrounding "who is Nell?".  The main characters, Nell and Cassandra are very likable and you truly want them to solve the mystery of Nell's family even if the the rest of the family are not so.  There are so many secrets - but an adventure figuring out the twists and turns of Nell's life.  

"Say Hello to Zorro!" By: Carter Goodrich Review

9771739

Say Hello to Zorro!

By: Carter Goodrich
Synopsis
Mister Bud is a dog of routine. He has wake up time, nap time, rest time, dinner time, etc. And everyone knows to follow his schedule.
Then disaster strikes.  A stranger comes home at "make a fuss time" and throws everything off! Zorro is little bit bossy and Mister Bud wants nothing to do with him. But when the dogs discover they like the same things (like chasing the cat and napping), everything becomes more fun. As long as everyone follows the schedule.
My Thoughts
     It’s always hard when your parents bring home a new sibling...or when your entire existence is upset with an addition that you clearly weren't’t expecting. That’s exactly the situation that poor Bud is in when his family brings home a new dog named Zorro!
       Used to his schedule, Bud is a very particular pup. He knows when he sleeps, he has specific times for his outside excursions, and he greets his humans in a certain way. One day his family brings home a new dog who upsets everything he ever has done. Zorro is a bit onery too, and likes his way too. Yet as the two dogs get to know one another, they both realize that sometimes two are better than one, even at dinnertime!
      A creative and cute story perfect for children who are getting new sibling or even for families who may be combining children, I found myself laughing out loud at poor Bud. He was completely over having a new dog in the house. Great illustrations and a perfect story for read alouds, I can easily see this being a favorite with kids. Short simple sentences make it a great choice for early readers and lets face it, its just plain funny. Heck, I’m almost 30 and I loved it! I’m gonna go beg for more books by Carter Goodrich now!
Book Details

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
# of Pages: 48
ISBN: 978-1416938934
Date of Publication: March 22, 2011
Source: Library Checkout

This review was originally published at The Brunette Librarian's Blog

Thursday, January 16, 2014

"Truce" By: R.L. Mathewson Review

17352874
Truce
By: R.L. Mathewson
Synopsis
Elizabeth knows what’s expected of her, perfection. She’s the daughter of an Earl and expected to marry well, say and do the right things with a smile on her face when inside she’s dying for a chance to escape. Thanks to an inheritance her godmother left her years ago, her chance will come with her next birthday. Her hopes of escape abruptly end when Robert, her childhood nemesis that she hasn’t seen in over fourteen years, comes back into her life and does everything he can to drive her out of her mind even as he steals her heart.
He hated her. At least, he tried to hate her, but it was so damn difficult to hate someone that he couldn’t live without. He tried to ignore her, tried to focus on anything but her, but nothing worked. Somehow she made her way into his heart and started to make him want things that he never though possible, made him smile and laugh even while she drove him out of his mind and started a legacy by turning him into…..
My Thoughts
    Having really enjoyed the first two in the Neighbor From Hell series, I had to know what R.L. Mathewson would do with a historical novel in the same universe. Sarcastic and full of wit, if I hadn’t known Mathewson was the author, once I started I would have immediately recognized her voice.
    Taking characters from the first two books and incorporating them in this historical was a smart move and I loved the small update of the characters I so loved. Going back in time to the beginning of the family line, we meet Elizabeth and  her arch nemesis Robert Bradford. Their families were friends but both Elizabeth and Robert hated one another since childhood. Pranks and name calling permeated their younger years and more than a decade goes by with neither seeing one another.
   When Robert and Elizabeth do see one another again, it is at a ball. Neither recognize the other and for an instant, they are friends. An insane attraction develops between the two but before it can grow into something more, their real identities are revealed. Temporarily caught in their pasts, Robert and Elizabeth find it hard to overcome their shared histories. When they finally can express their real feelings, they must battle their families who have a hard time believing this new reality.
    While I did enjoy the book overall, I felt it dragged a bit in the middle and was just plain uninteresting in different areas. Filled with funny moments, I found myself drawn in to just lose interest a few pages later. Truce is definitely for fans of Mathewson and I recommend reading at least Playing for Keeps before this one.


Neighbor From Hell Series
1. Playing for Keeps
2. Perfection
3. Checkmate
4. Truce

Book Details
Publisher: Smashwords
Date of Publication: November 1, 2013
# of Pages: 291
ISBN: 978-0988573222
Source: Personal Purchase