Friday, October 18, 2013

Review - Under The Dome by Stephen King

Under the DomeUnder the Dome by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
ebook, 1120 pages
Published December 24th 2009 by Scribner (first published 2009) 
Source: Own copy

'On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day in Chester's Mill, Maine, the town is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. Planes crash into it and fall from the sky in flaming wreckage, a gardener's hand is severed as "the dome" comes down on it, people running errands in the neighboring town are divided from their families, and cars explode on impact. No one can fathom what this barrier is, where it came from, and when -- or if -- it will go away.

Dale Barbara, Iraq vet and now a short-order cook, finds himself teamed with a few intrepid citizens -- town newspaper owner Julia Shumway, a physician's assistant at the hospital, a select-woman, and three brave kids. Against them stands Big Jim Rennie, a politician who will stop at nothing -- even murder -- to hold the reins of power, and his son, who is keeping a horrible secret in a dark pantry. But their main adversary is the Dome itself. Because time isn't just short. It's running out.'

My Thoughts:
Oh boy! I don't even know where to start with this book except that I now feel a little bit lost that I have finally finished it.
In true King style this book contains a massive list of characters but they all weave together in such intricate ways and play their parts so well that I don't feel it was a struggle at all to remember who was who.
I love the concept of this book. It's a bit like Lord of the Flies where you get a glimpse at seeing how normal people react and adapt to an abnormal situation. It shows us how human nature can change and that everyone is capable of a bit of evil if pushed far enough.
Also, this is not a book where you should get too attached to any particular character as there is a great possibility that they may not be around by the end. King certainly doesn't pull any punches with what fate awaits the poor citizens of Chester's Mill.
Under The Dome is definitely one of my favourite King books to date. It has taken me a good couple of months to get through this mammoth read using a mix of audio and regular reading and I haven't felt so consumed or invested in a book in a very long time. I literally felt like I knew the people personally and could visualise the town and the events that were happening with almost perfect clarity. I guess a lot of this has to do with the great narrator of the audio book portion I listened to.
The ending was a bit of a surprise to me. I'm not sure what I was expecting but it wasn't what finally eventuated.
I wouldn't class this as a regular King horror, instead I would say it is a bit of a mix of Sci Fi and Thriller. Whatever you think it should be classified as, it just works.

Important Links:
Amazon: Under the Dome
The Book Depository

Friday, October 11, 2013

Book Spotlight - Word by Harry Hallman

a short story

"When a word game turns deadly, how do you fight it?" Who do you go to for help? Martin must answer these questions before he becomes the next victim of an insidious plot. In a single day Martin's simple life as a business executive is turned upside down, because of his fascination with word games. And he is not the only one in danger.

Available in ebook format on Amazon -

 Author’s Biography

Hallman a resident of Atlanta and was born and raised in the Kensington section of North Philadelphia. He served in the U.S. Air Force, including two tours in South Vietnam as a photographer. He is married to Duoc Hallman, and has two children, Bill and Nancy, and one grandchild, Ava.
Hallman is a serial entrepreneur who has created several marketing services companies and continues to work as a marketing consultant. In 1995, when the Internet was an infant, he formed a web development company and has been a practicing online media consultant ever since. In 1990 he assisted his son Bill Hallman, a then budding fashion designer, start his business. Bill Hallman operates several stores in Atlanta and designs fashions for both men and women.

Writing Influences
Hallman's father was Harry Hallman, Sr., a champion billiards player who also owned a poolroom called Circle Billiards, located at Allegheny Avenue and Lee Street in Philadelphia. The younger Hallman spent many hours after school at his father’s pool hall. These youthful experiences laid the groundwork for his novel Mercy Row, including the colorful language in the text.
"The combination of my digital marketing experience, my work with my son's business and my own mania about playing word games on my iPad, allowed the idea for Word to pop into my head one day. Although I was working on my sequel to my Mercy Row novel, Mercy Row- Clann, the idea would not leave me alone until I fished this short story: WORD"

Works by Harry Hallman:
Mercy Row 
Available in ebook and paperback at

Mercy Row- Clann- Coming Late 2013

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Review & Giveaway - The Preservationist by Justin Kramon

The Preservationist

by Justin Kramon

on Tour October 1 - November 30, 2013

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller / Psychological Thriller / Women's Fiction Published by: Pegasus/Norton
Publication Date: 10/15/13

Number of Pages: 288

ISBN: 978-1-60598-480-3
 Purchase Links:



'To Sam Blount, meeting Julia is the best thing that has ever happened to him. Working at the local college and unsuccessful in his previous relationships, he’d been feeling troubled about his approaching fortieth birthday, “a great beast of a birthday,” as he sees it, but being with Julia makes him feel young and hopeful. Julia Stilwell, a freshman trying to come to terms with a recent tragedy that has stripped her of her greatest talent, is flattered by Sam’s attention. But their relationship is tested by a shy young man with a secret, Marcus Broley, who is also infatuated with Julia. Told in alternating points of view, The Preservationist is the riveting tale of Julia and Sam’s relationship, which begins to unravel as the threat of violence approaches—and Julia becomes less and less sure whom to trust.'

My Thoughts:

To me, The Preservationist is one of those books that seems to stick in your head after reading it. I have to admit that I really wasn't into this book at all for the first half and I was actually a little confused as to what was going on and who the good guy and bad guy actually was. But, after the halfway mark this story really seemed to pick up and I became totally invested in seeing what was going to happen at the end and the twist that seemed to take place was totally unexpected.
What I liked about the story was that it was told from the perspective of each different character which gave you a well rounded view of what was going on. Each of the three main characters, Julia, Sam and Marcus, all have their own problems and past issues and even though I think they could have been developed a bit more as characters, they were all easy to relate to and imagine as real people.
The writing style in this book is very slow and steady which frustrated me a little bit in the beginning but in hindsight it did actually work really well in building up the suspense and building the atmosphere around the story.
The Preservationist ended up being a definite page turner and it even made me feel a little bit sad with what happens at the end. If you're a fan of psychological thrillers then you're sure to like this one. 

I give it 3.5 stars.


Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1 Julia Of all the places Julia Stilwell thought she might be on a September afternoon, less than a year after the accident, this was the last she would have imagined. College. A freshman headed out on a first date. It was too normal. She felt like she’d snuck into the wrong movie, like any minute a guy in a little hat would come running up the aisle, shine a flashlight in her eyes, and ask to see her ticket. But here she was, ten minutes to two, fixing her hair, getting her shoes on, smiling at her reflection so she could paint blush on her cheeks, going back and forth in her mind about whether to bring a backpack or a purse. It was all the usual stuff girls do before dates, but to Julia it felt like a test, a set of pictures she had to line up in the right order. Wrong answer sends you back to go. It was a blessing her roommate Leanette was in class and not around to witness the chaos of these final preparations. Leanette had dates every weekend and went to all the parties, and Julia was sure this fussing would have seemed amateur to her, like a kid playing with an adult’s makeup kit. In the end, she decided on a messenger bag. She slung it over her shoulder, flipped the lights off, and left the room. Outside, it was gorgeous. Cloudless and warm, the air felt like a shirt just out of the dryer. Julia lived in an off-campus dorm, and though the building was musty, with cinder block walls and a dull gray carpet that gave off a smell like boiled milk, there was a pretty courtyard out here, a cement bench, a trellis wrapped with vines and bright flowers. She took a long breath, enjoying the weather and her anticipation, perched for a moment on the fragile edge of happiness. Julia was headed to campus, and she decided to take the path through the woods. She could have gone through town, but didn’t know whom she’d run into, and whether they’d ask what she was up to. The date with Marcus didn’t have to be a secret, but for some reason she wanted to keep it to herself, like a note in her pocket. Before the accident, it would have been different. Julia would have had to tell Danny and Shana about how Marcus had asked her out, making little jokes to play it down. They wouldn’t have let her get away with the secrecy. In high school, when she wasn’t practicing the trumpet, Julia had spent most of her free time with these friends. She knew everything about them, from what they’d gotten on their last history tests to what their boyfriends had whispered in their ears the first times they’d had sex. Julia had always been a bit of an oddball, with her quirky sense of humor, the flat way she delivered jokes that caught people off guard and sometimes made them smile, sometimes give her confused looks. She was never a star in the classroom, and didn’t go in for all the primping and social striving most of the girls did. She didn’t need it; her music and her plans for the future had been enough. They’d given her distance, kept her insulated from the storms of teenage social life. When her friends were worked up over a boy or a conflict with parents, Julia was always the first to jump in with a silly line to relieve the tension. She wore thrift store T-shirts and frayed corduroys and didn’t try to be the prettiest or the smartest or the most popular, just didn’t care that much about it. But all of that was gone, that old life. She didn’t talk to any of those people anymore. She’d gotten rid of her cell phone, tossed it into a lake, actually. Burial at sea. Marcus had suggested they meet at two-thirty, since the snack bar would be less crowded then, between lunch and dinner. As usual, Julia was early. She couldn’t help it. She’d always been the type to arrive ten minutes before a meeting, and none of the tricks she pulled to delay herself ever seemed to work. If she were ever sentenced to execution, she’d probably arrive ten minutes early for that, just to get a good seat. She tried to slow down, scraping her shoe soles on the dirt and rocks in the woods. As a way to distract herself, she started thinking about how the date had come about. “You have this way about you,” Marcus had said that night in the library, when they were working on the counterpoint project. “It’s like you live in your own self-contained world. I’ve been wanting to know what’s going on in there since the first time I saw you.” After he said it, he smiled in a teasing way, and she wasn’t sure if he was being genuine. She almost made a quick joke back, her habit. Nothing going on in here. My world’s in a budget crisis. But then she noticed he was blushing, all the way from his ears down to the base of his neck. There was something reassuring about his discomfort. Seeing it, she’d felt a protective tenderness for him, the way you might watching a child pedal a bike up a steep hill. “You want to get lunch on Thursday in the snack bar?” he’d said after that, so casually anyone listening would have thought he’d just tossed out the offer, not even caring what her answer would be. But he’d given a specific day. He’d mentioned the snack bar, as if an off-campus date would have been too much to ask. “I’d love to,” Julia had said. “But are you going to be there?” And Marcus had smiled. When she got near the top of the hill, where the woods let out, Julia heard a train clacking away from the station at the base of campus. She checked her watch: ten minutes early. Of course. She walked onto the train platform, into the warm bright sunshine. That was when it happened, suddenly, in the midst of all that sparkling weather. It was as if someone had pulled the plug on the day, and all the excitement just drained out, like water from a tub. She knew what it was, this feeling. She’d told El Doctor about it, these aftershocks, as she thought of them, reminders of events she couldn’t change, events she would have preferred to snip out of the cloth of her memory. She closed her eyes, and there it was again, her brother’s face, pale with shock at what he was witnessing, his lips opening and closing, making no sound, until finally he’d asked, “Is that mine?” But she couldn’t do this now, couldn’t let herself get dragged under. If you want to move forward, you have to stop looking back. Positive thinking, positive results. She stood straight, pushed her shoulders back, breathed, fixed the strap of the messenger bag like a seatbelt across her chest, and continued across the tracks, up the tree-lined path to campus. Inside the snack bar, Julia couldn’t spot Marcus. She looked around at all the tables and booths. Most were empty. At one table, two women in suits were smiling over something one of them had said, then they got up to leave, carrying stacks of paper. Inside a booth, three muscular-looking boys sat talking over empty plates and balled napkins. They made Julia nervous, these people. The way they moved and talked and smiled seemed foreign, like they were all doing a dance she’d never learned. The thought surfaced again that maybe she wasn’t fit to be here, at a college, so soon, no matter what El Doctor said. But it’s best not to overthink things. That’s how you get yourself into trouble. When you stop and think about how vulnerable you are, or how strange the world is, it’s easy to end up feeling confused and lonely. In the corner, next to the doors where people walked in to order their sandwiches, a man in a red shirt and white apron was standing beside a trashcan. Julia recognized him as the guy who usually made her sandwiches. She remembered thinking more than once that he was cute. He had shaggy brown hair, and could have passed for a student if he were a couple years younger. He always smiled when he saw Julia, and offered her an extra handful of chips or a second spear of pickle with her order. She didn’t know if he did that for other girls, but it was such a simple and plainly sweet gesture that it charmed her. A pickle for your thoughts, my dear. When she looked at him, though, smiling, ready to wave, he looked down, like he was embarrassed. She wasn’t sure if maybe he didn't recognize her, or was surprised at meeting her without the lunch counter between them, or if he was just socially awkward, but whatever it was, she felt disappointed. She wanted to give him a signal that it was okay to be friendly, wave to her when she came in. I won’t bite. She didn’t have a chance to do anything, though, because just as she was considering it, Marcus walked in.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Author Bio:

Justin Kramon is the author of the novels Finny (Random House, 2010) and The Preservationist (Pegasus, 2013). A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he has received honors from the Michener-Copernicus Society of America, Best American Short Stories, the Hawthornden International Writers' Fellowship, and the Bogliasco Foundation. He lives in Philadelphia.

Catch Up With the Author:

Tour Participants:

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Review - Love Gone to the Dogs by Margaret Daley

Love Gone to the DogsLove Gone to the Dogs by Margaret Daley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
ebook, 132 pages
Published July 2012 
Source: Own Copy
'Single mom, Leah Taylor, has her hands full with a grandfather, an inventor, who lives a bit risky when it comes to his job and two sons, one a rambunctious genius. But it is her free spirited beagle who gets her into trouble with her new neighbor, Dr. Shane O'Grady, when her dog makes a move on his champion bichon that he wants to breed.

Leah and Shane clash over their dogs that clearly like each other. Leah is determined to ignore her neighbor, but when her youngest son who tries to defy gravity and fly ends up hurt, it is her neighbor, the doctor, who takes care of her son. Can Leah and Shane find love or has love gone to the dogs?
My Thoughts:
I mainly started reading this book because I needed a bit of a break from the heavier books I've been reading lately and I must say it was a refreshing change.
Truthfully, the reason I downloaded this book to my kindle in the first place was because it featured a beagle as part of the storyline. I have a beagle who is like my first born and have a bit of a problem where I cannot resist anything that is beagle related and as I'm not usually a huge romance fan I was banking on the beagle fan factor to ensure I would enjoy this book (I guess this is obvious by the name of my blog!)
Luckily it worked. Although the main focus of the story was the blooming romance between the two main characters, Leah and Shane, it wasn't your typical full-on sappy kind of romance, plus there was enough humour and interesting side stories to keep me reading until the end.
I liked that the characters were quite realistic and easy to relate to and you really felt for Leah and the hurdles she'd had the endure in her life.
Overall I found this a very enjoyable, quick read.

Important Links:
Amazon:  Love Gone to the Dogs (Second Chances)
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