Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Review - Networking Thoughtfully by M. Wheadon

Networking Thoughtfully: The 30 Minute Read That Could Change Your LifeNetworking Thoughtfully: The 30 Minute Read That Could Change Your Life by M Wheadon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Kindle Edition
Published January 26th 2017 by Troubador Publishing
Source: Netgalley

Synopsis:
'Networking Thoughtfully is a short guide for people who need to build relationships, but do not know where to start. Martin Wheadon takes readers through a step-by-step process to help achieve positive results. The reader is provided with over thirty thoughts and clever remedies to boost their confidence and communication skills. Although the book has been written with businesses in mind, Networking Thoughtfully can also be used to aid and abet personal development, as learning how to start conversations is beneficial when meeting new people, regardless of the circumstances. 
Networking Thoughtfully draws from Martin's own experience of developing a successful marketing facility, called the High Tea Club. Wheadon provides clearly-written advice in a conversational tone, encouraging the reader to believe that he understands their anxieties and talks from personal experience, using examples to illustrate the guidelines provided. The book also provides space for the reader to write their own thoughts or answers to various tasks suggested by the author. It is a book that can be read in parts, or as a whole in only half an hour. Networking Thoughtfully will appeal to readers of all ages particularly those that are new to networking or want to improve their skills. It will also appeal to businesses and organisations looking to improve networking skills.'

My Thoughts:
Networking Thoughtfully is a very quick read and as it states, it took me only around half an hour to get through it.

It contains some good tips, especially for anyone who is new to networking or has a bit of a fear of getting themselves and their business out there.

It contains short and sharp steps that give the reader ideas to put into practice before, during and after any networking or social event they attend.

The points are all easy to understand and implement and are nice, practical ways to improve or fine-tune you networking skills.

If you are a business owner who struggles with networking or have a fear of these types of events, this book may give you a bit more confidence and some practical advice to implement at your next event.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Review - The Four Legendary Kingdoms by Matthew Reilly

The Four Legendary Kingdoms: A Jack West Jr Novel 4The Four Legendary Kingdoms: A Jack West Jr Novel 4 by Matthew Reilly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Hardcover430 pages
Published October 18th 2016 by Macmillan Australia (first published October 8th 2016)
Source: Own Copy

Synopsis:
'There are sixteen contestants, but only one will survive.

The last thing Jack West Jr remembers is arriving for a meeting at a top-secret military base with his family in tow.

Now he awakes to find himself in a hellish scenario. Jack has been selected to take part in the Games, a series of deadly challenges designed to fulfil an ancient ritual. If he chooses not to compete, both he and his daughter will be killed.

With the fate of the Earth at stake, Jack will have to traverse diabolical mazes, fight ruthless assassins and face unimaginable horrors that will test him to the limit.

In the process, he will discover the mysterious and powerful group of individuals behind it all: the four legendary kingdoms.'

My Thoughts:
So if you've read anything by Matthew Reilly before, especially the first three books in the Jack West Jr series, you'd have an idea that you were in for another wild, action filled ride with this one. And, yes, you would be 100% correct!

This instalment in the Jack West Jr series was definitely, hands down, my favourite one so far. I literally could not put it down and spent so many nights forcing myself to stop reading because my eyes were closing and losing focus. I haven't felt so invested and excited while reading a book like I did with this one in quite a while.

This book is your typical Reilly with non-stop, totally unbelievable action from the beginning all the way to the very end.

I really liked how human Jack West Jr was in this book. He got injured and felt tired like a regular person and wasn't always the absolute best at everything. Due to his intelligence and determination though, plus a bit of Reilly's typical over-the-top, cliffhanger moments, Jack managed once again to come out on top.

I also loved the historical aspects of this book and I thought they were inter-woven into the story so well again just as they were in the first three instalments.

There is no argument that Matthew Reilly is my favourite action/adventure author and I cannot wait for the next instalment in this series to be released.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Book Spotlight - Split Second by Kelli J. Miller


Biographies and Memoirs
Date Published: April 4, 2017

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When does the American Dream turn into a trap?
What does it mean to succeed?
What really gives meaning to our lives?
 Kelli Miller never had to worry about it – she had it all: a family, a career, a sprawling home, even an executive title.  She thought she’d escaped her Midwestern roots and was sailing towards a golden future.  Then, in a pivotal moment, confronted with the shadow of death, she found herself suddenly awake to the grim reality:  the dream had consumed her life, and left her lost and alone.

In Split Second, Kelli tells the story of how she set herself free, and recommitted herself to the most important pieces of her life:  family, community, and a new openness to experience.  It is the story of one woman’s journey to find out what really matters and where her happiness ultimately lay.



About the Author


Kelli Miller is a business executive specializing in Information Technology.  Her career includes thirty years working for some of the largest, most successful companies in America.  Kelli recently returned to her roots, farming her family’s farm with her husband, while continuing her technology career with a local mid-size manufacturing firm. Kelli is the mother of three. She loves to travel, hike and spend time in the simplicity and raw beauty of nature. 

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Review - Talk of The Town by Rachael Johns

Talk Of The TownTalk Of The Town by Rachael Johns
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Kindle Edition416 pages
Published May 1st 2017 by MIRA
Source: Netgalley

Synopsis:
'Lawson Cooper-Jones has two priorities in life – his son, Ned, and the survival of the dairy farm that has been in his family for generations. Despite the best efforts of the town matchmakers and the determined pursuit of local girl Adeline Walsh, Lawson’s heart belongs still, and only, to his late wife.
But when a flat tyre strands Lawson and Ned in nearby Rose Hill, he’s surprised to find a woman living alone in the old general store of the deserted town. Ned immediately forms a bond with the beautiful stranger called Meg, and Lawson is surprised to find himself captivated by her too.
Although shy at first, Meg starts to open up to him about the haunting secrets of her new home and, with Lawson unable to get her out of his head, they agree to investigate the history of the old building together. Soon they find their friendship has bloomed into something more.
But when meddling Adeline makes it her mission to uncover the truth about the newcomer and her real identity is revealed, Lawson and Meg’s budding romance comes crashing down. Can they both learn to forgive in order to claim a future for their damaged hearts?
A moving story of secrets, love and new beginnings from bestselling author Rachael Johns.'
My Thoughts:
Talk of The Town is an Aussie romance that contains just the right amount of drama, twists & turns, sadness and of course happiness in the end.

It also contains a slight paranormal aspect that I found intriguing and I would have loved this part to have been explored a little bit more within the story.

Overall I liked the main character Meg, but every now and then I did get slightly annoyed with how she took so long to say certain things about what she was thinking or feeling. I know this was to build suspense and give the story more to stand on but I felt that with this character her secrecy became a bit much after a while and every so often I'd find myself wanting to just shake her with frustration.

The plot itself was a believable enough story and it definitely kept me engaged until the end. I really like how Rachael Johns has the ability to write a romance novel without it being too ultra-sappy with enough interesting back story in addition to the romance angle going on. In my opinion this makes her stories a lot more relatable.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Promo Blitz - Dragonhunters by Garon Whited

Fantasy
Date Published: April 2017

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You don't become a hero for the money. The money's nice, sure, but you become a hero because something inside compels you, drives you to it. Defending people from monsters simply doesn't pay well enough to make it a good career move.

As for hunting dragons... well, the money is usually good, but the job really bites.

A group of five professional heroes goes into the lair of the dragon. Who will win?

Spoiler: The dragon.

But it turns out killing a hero sometimes does nothing more than make him even more determined.

Sometimes, heroes are never more dangerous than when they're dead!



About the Author

Garon Whited was born in Wichita, Kansas in 1969 or 1970; the original birth certificate is suspiciously unavailable and other records do not agree. After following his parents around the South for several years, he finally caught up to them and settled somewhere in Texarkana. Garon attended Texarkana College, the University of Fayetteville, and Texas A&M. While he was in college, he studied physics, math, robotics, religion, philosophy, psychology, and of course, girls.  Sadly, his grades were excellent in all but one of those categories. He is presently single.

He has also written novels and various short stories and shows no signs of stopping. Having fought zombie dolphins, quasi-corporeal spirits, and brain-sucking mole rats, he is uniquely qualified to write fantastic fiction. His first book, “Nightlord: Sunset,” features a human physics teacher who is turned into a vampire against his will and proceeds to go on fantastical adventures.

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Review - The Art of Keeping Secrets by Rachael Johns

The Art of Keeping SecretsThe Art of Keeping Secrets by Rachael Johns
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Ebook, 464 pages
Published September 19th 2016 by Harlequin MIRA
Source: Netgalley

Synopsis:
'Little secrets grow up to be big lies…

They’ve been best friends since their sons started high school together, and Felicity, Emma and Neve share everything … or so they thought.

But Flick’s seemingly perfect marriage hides a shocking secret which, with one word, threatens to destroy her and her family’s happiness. Emma is in denial about a potential custody battle, her financial constraints, the exhaustion she can’t seem to shake off and the inappropriate feelings she has for her boss. And single mum Neve is harbouring a secret of her own; a secret that might forever damage her close-knit relationship with her son.

When the tight hold they have each kept on their secrets for years begins to slip, they must face the truth. Even if that truth has the power to hurt the ones they love, and each other.

Perhaps some secrets weren’t made to be kept.
'


My Thoughts:
Rachael Johns is fast becoming one of my favourite Aussie female authors.

The Art of Keeping Secrets had me totally engaged from the start and I really enjoyed how each chapter was broken up to focus on one character at a time while still managing to meld all of the story together as one.

I loved all three of the main characters, Felicity, Emma and Neve and thought they were all portrayed in such a realistic manner. I felt like I could relate to them all in some way or another.

I also really liked that although there were snippets of romance in this book here and there, it wasn't the main focus and there were so many other meaningful and engaging parts to the story line. This book literally had me going through a variety of emotions ranging from sadness one minute, to anger the next and then seriously happy.

Rachael Johns is definitely one author I get excited about reading now and I would highly recommend this book as her best one yet in my opinion.


Monday, April 17, 2017

Review - The Bride Wore Size 12 by Meg Cabot

The Bride Wore Size 12 (Heather Wells, #5)The Bride Wore Size 12 by Meg Cabot
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Ebook, 392 pages
Published September 24th 2013 by William Morrow Paperbacks
Source: Publisher for review

Synopsis:
'Heather Wells is used to having her cake and eating it too, but this time her cake just might be cooked. Her wedding cake, that is.

With her upcoming nuptials to PI Cooper Cartwright only weeks away, Heather's already stressed. And when a pretty junior turns up dead, Heather's sure things can't get worse—until every student in the dorm where she works is a possible suspect, and Heather's long-lost mother shows up.

Heather has no time for a tearful mother and bride reunion. She has a wedding to pull off and a murder to solve. Instead of wedding bells, she might be hearing wedding bullets, but she's determined to bring the bad guys to justice if it's the last thing she does . . . and this time, it just might be.'


My Thoughts:
This was my first ever Meg Cabot novel and unfortunately it just missed the mark for me. I was constantly left wanting more, and not in a good way. There just weren't enough plot twists or action to keep my full attention.

Maybe I would have enjoyed it better if I'd started reading from the first in the series and seen how the characters developed along the way because even though they were all realistic enough, none of them seemed to have much depth and Heather seemed to be a bit over the top sometimes in my opinion. Cooper was probably the most interesting character of them all so it would have been nice to see a bit more of him in the story, but everyone else seemed a little bland.

I can't help but compare Heather to one of my favourite female characters, Stephanie Plum from the Janet Evanovich novels and she doesn't even come close to being as interesting.

One bonus was that I didn't guess the ending so that is one thing that always makes me happy but unfortunately the whole story seemed a little fluffy for me and lacked enough substance to make me want to read the earlier books in the series.


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Review - Plant Craft: 30 Projects that Add Natural Style to Your Home by Caitlin Atkinson

Plant Craft: 30 Projects that Add Natural Style to Your HomePlant Craft: 30 Projects that Add Natural Style to Your Home by Caitlin Atkinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
256 pages
Published October 5th 2016 by Timber Press
Source: Netgalley for review

Synopsis:
'Not everyone has a garden—but with only a handful of materials and a little bit of time, everyone can bring the beauty of nature into their home. Plant Craft features projects inspired by the natural world and made out of live plants, cut flowers, foraged branches, and more. You’ll learn how to create a colorful floral mural, an elegant table centerpiece, a serene underwater sculpture, a whimsical mobile, and more. The step-by-step instructions are clear, easy to follow, and fully illustrated with color photographs, and the projects vary in difficulty. Given the right care, they all have the potential to grace a home for a long time.'

My Thoughts:
I found this to be such a beautiful and inspiring book. It has easy to follow instructions and really makes you want to get some more greenery around the home or to make as gifts to family and friends.

There is loads of information at the start covering things such as the best materials to use, the best types of plants, lighting, temperature, containers, general care and maintenance plus common problems.

All of the projects give extensive instructions along with their materials and tools list plus alternative suggestions. Lots of pictures accompany each step of the building and assembly process with the ideal watering, light, temperature and maintenance applicable to each project as well.

There really are some great ideas in this book ranging from those that are quite easy and don't require too many materials, to those that are a little bit more complex and time consuming depending on your preference.

Overall this would make a great coffee table book as well as a lovely gift for anyone who is a bit crafty and loves plants or do-it-yourself projects.



Thursday, March 2, 2017

Book Blast - Pistols and Petticoats by Erika Janik

Pistols and Petticoats

175 Years of Lady Detectives in Fact and Fiction

by Erika Janik

March 2nd 2017 Book Blast

Synopsis:

Pistols and Petticoats by Erika Janik

A lively exploration of the struggles faced by women in law enforcement and mystery fiction for the past 175 years

In 1910, Alice Wells took the oath to join the all-male Los Angeles Police Department. She wore no uniform, carried no weapon, and kept her badge stuffed in her pocketbook. She wasn’t the first or only policewoman, but she became the movement’s most visible voice.
Police work from its very beginning was considered a male domain, far too dangerous and rough for a respectable woman to even contemplate doing, much less take on as a profession. A policewoman worked outside the home, walking dangerous city streets late at night to confront burglars, drunks, scam artists, and prostitutes. To solve crimes, she observed, collected evidence, and used reason and logic—traits typically associated with men. And most controversially of all, she had a purpose separate from her husband, children, and home. Women who donned the badge faced harassment and discrimination. It would take more than seventy years for women to enter the force as full-fledged officers.
Yet within the covers of popular fiction, women not only wrote mysteries but also created female characters that handily solved crimes. Smart, independent, and courageous, these nineteenth- and early twentieth-century female sleuths (including a healthy number created by male writers) set the stage for Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, Sara Paretsky’s V. I. Warshawski, Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta, and Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone, as well as TV detectives such as Prime Suspect’s Jane Tennison and Law and Order’s Olivia Benson. The authors were not amateurs dabbling in detection but professional writers who helped define the genre and competed with men, often to greater success.
Pistols and Petticoats tells the story of women’s very early place in crime fiction and their public crusade to transform policing. Whether real or fictional, investigating women were nearly always at odds with society. Most women refused to let that stop them, paving the way to a modern professional life for women on the force and in popular culture.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, NonFiction, History
Published by: Beacon Press
Publication Date: February 28th 2017 (1st Published April 26th 2016)
Number of Pages: 248
ISBN: 0807039381 (ISBN13: 9780807039380)
Purchase Links: Amazon  | Barnes & Noble  | Goodreads 

Read an excerpt:

With high heels clicking across the hardwood floors, the diminutive woman from Chicago strode into the headquarters of the New York City police. It was 1922. Few respectable women would enter such a place alone, let alone one wearing a fashionable Paris gown, a feathered hat atop her brown bob, glistening pearls, and lace stockings.
But Alice Clement was no ordinary woman.
Unaware of—or simply not caring about—the commotion her presence caused, Clement walked straight into the office of Commissioner Carleton Simon and announced, “I’ve come to take Stella Myers back to Chicago.”
The commissioner gasped, “She’s desperate!”
Stella Myers was no ordinary crook. The dark-haired thief had outwitted policemen and eluded capture in several states.
Unfazed by Simon’s shocked expression, the well-dressed woman withdrew a set of handcuffs, ankle bracelets, and a “wicked looking gun” from her handbag.
“I’ve come prepared.”
Holding up her handcuffs, Clement stated calmly, “These go on her and we don’t sleep until I’ve locked her up in Chicago.” True to her word, Clement delivered Myers to her Chicago cell.
Alice Clement was hailed as Chicago’s “female Sherlock Holmes,” known for her skills in detection as well as for clearing the city of fortune-tellers, capturing shoplifters, foiling pickpockets, and rescuing girls from the clutches of prostitution. Her uncanny ability to remember faces and her flair for masquerade—“a different disguise every day”—allowed her to rack up one thousand arrests in a single year. She was bold and sassy, unafraid to take on any masher, con artist, or scalawag from the city’s underworld.
Her headline-grabbing arrests and head-turning wardrobe made Clement seem like a character straight from Central Casting. But Alice Clement was not only real; she was also a detective sergeant first grade of the Chicago Police Department.
Clement entered the police force in 1913, riding the wave of media sensation that greeted the hiring of ten policewomen in Chicago. Born in Milwaukee to German immigrant parents in 1878, Clement was unafraid to stand up for herself. She advocated for women’s rights and the repeal of Prohibition. She sued her first husband, Leonard Clement, for divorce on the grounds of desertion and intemperance at a time when women rarely initiated—or won—such dissolutions. Four years later, she married barber Albert L. Faubel in a secret ceremony performed by a female pastor.
It’s not clear why the then thirty-five-year-old, five-foot-three Clement decided to join the force, but she relished the job. She made dramatic arrests—made all the more so by her flamboyant dress— and became the darling of reporters seeking sensational tales of corruption and vice for the morning papers. Dark-haired and attractive, Clement seemed to confound reporters, who couldn’t believe she was old enough to have a daughter much less, a few years later, a granddaughter. “Grandmother Good Detective” read one headline.
She burnished her reputation in a high-profile crusade to root out fortune-tellers preying on the naive. Donning a different disguise every day, Clement had her fortune told more than five hundred times as she gathered evidence to shut down the trade. “Hats are the most important,” she explained, describing her method. “Large and small, light and dark and of vivid hue, floppy brimmed and tailored, there is nothing that alters a woman’s appearance more than a change in headgear.”
Clement also had no truck with flirts. When a man attempted to seduce her at a movie theater, she threatened to arrest him. He thought she was joking and continued his flirtations, but hers was no idle threat. Clement pulled out her blackjack and clubbed him over the head before yanking him out of the theater and dragging him down the street to the station house. When he appeared in court a few days later, the man confessed that he had been cured of flirting. Not every case went Clement’s way, though. The jury acquitted the man, winning the applause of the judge who was no great fan of Clement or her theatrics.
One person who did manage to outwit Clement was her own daughter, Ruth. Preventing hasty marriages fell under Clement’s duties, and she tracked down lovelorn young couples before they could reach the minister. The Chicago Daily Tribune called her the “Nemesis of elopers” for her success and familiarity with everyone involved in the business of matrimony in Chicago. None of this deterred twenty-year-old Ruth Clement, however, who hoped to marry Navy man Charles C. Marrow, even though her mother insisted they couldn’t be married until Marrow finished his time in service in Florida. Ruth did not want to wait, and when Marrow came to visit, the two tied the knot at a minister’s home without telling Clement. When Clement discovered a Mr. and Mrs. Charles C. Marrow registered at the Chicago hotel supposedly housing Marrow alone, she was furious and threatened to arrest her new son-in-law for flouting her wishes. Her anger cooled, however, and Clement soon welcomed the newlyweds into her home.
Between arrests and undercover operations, Clement wrote, produced, and starred in a movie called Dregs of the City, in 1920. She hoped her movie would “deliver a moral message to the world” and “warn young girls of the pitfalls of a great city.” In the film, Clement portrayed herself as a master detective charged with finding a young rural girl who, at the urging of a Chicago huckster, had fled the farm for the city lights and gotten lost in “one of the more unhallowed of the south side cabarets.” The girl’s father came to Clement anegged her to rescue his innocent daughter from the “dregs” of the film’s title. Clement wasn’t the only officer-turned-actor in the film. Chicago police chiefs James L. Mooney and John J. Garrity also had starring roles. Together, the threesome battered “down doors with axes and interrupt[ed] the cogitations of countless devotees of hashish, bhang and opium.” The Chicago Daily Tribune praised Garrity’s acting and his onscreen uniform for its “faultless cut.”
The film created a sensation, particularly after Chicago’s movie censor board, which fell under the oversight of the police department, condemned the movie as immoral. “The picture shall never be shown in Chicago. It’s not even interesting,” read the ruling. “Many of the actors are hams and it doesn’t get anywhere.” Despite several appeals, Clement was unable to convince the censors to allow Dregs of the City to be shown within city limits. She remained undeterred by the decision. “They think they’ve given me a black eye, but they haven’t. I’ll show it anyway,” she declared as she left the hearing, tossing the bouquet of roses she’d been given against the window.
When the cruise ship Eastland rolled over in the Chicago River on July 24, 1915, Clement splashed into the water to assist in the rescue of the pleasure boaters, presumably, given her record, wearing heels and a designer gown. More than eight hundred people would die that day, the greatest maritime disaster in Great Lakes history. For her services in the Eastland disaster, Clement received a gold “coroner’s star” from the Cook County coroner in a quiet ceremony in January of 1916.
Clement’s exploits and personality certainly drew attention, but any woman would: a female crime fighter made for good copy and eye-catching photos. Unaccustomed to seeing women wielding any kind of authority, the public found female officers an entertaining—and sometimes ridiculous—curiosity.
Excerpt from Pistols and Petticoats: 175 Years of Lady Detectives in Fact and Fiction by Erika Janik. Copyright © 2016 & 2017 by Beacon Press. Reproduced with permission from Beacon Press. All rights reserved.

Readers Are Loving Pistols and Petticoats!

Check out this awesome article in Time Magazine!
“Erika Janik does a fine job tracing the history of women in police work while at the same time describing the role of females in crime fiction. The outcome, with a memorable gallery of characters, is a rich look at the ways in which fact and fiction overlap, reflecting the society surrounding them. A treat for fans of the mystery—and who isn’t?” ~ Katherine Hall Page, Agatha Award–winning author of The Body in the Belfry and The Body in the Snowdrift
“A fascinating mix of the history of early policewomen and their role in crime fiction—positions that were then, and, to some extent even now, in conflict with societal expectations.” ~ Library Journal
“An entertaining history of women’s daring, defiant life choices.” ~ Kirkus Reviews

Author Bio:

authorErika Janik is an award-winning writer, historian, and the executive producer of Wisconsin Life on Wisconsin Public Radio. She’s the author of five previous books, including Marketplace of the Marvelous: The Strange Origins of Modern Medicine. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

Catch Up With Our Ms. Janik On: Website , Goodreads , Wisconsin Public Radio , & Twitter !

 

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Don't Miss Your Chance to Win Pistols and Petticoats!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Erika Janik and Beacon. There will be 5 winners of one (1) print copy of Pistols and Petticoats by Erika Janik. The giveaway begins on March 3rd and runs through March 8th, 2017. The giveaway is open to residents in the US & Canada only.
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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Review - Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, #1)Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Ebook, 332 pages
Published November 2013 by Razorbill (first published August 16th 2007)
Source: Netgalley

Synopsis:
'Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with a rare gift for harnessing the earth's magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest vampires - the ones who never die. The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa's best friend, makes her a dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making Lissa one of them.

After two years of freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir's Academy, a school for vampire royalty and their guardians-to-be, hidden in the deep forests of Montana. But inside the iron gates, life is even more fraught with danger . . . and the Strigoi are always close by.

Rose and Lissa must navigate their dangerous world, confront the temptations of forbidden love, and never once let their guard down, lest the evil undead make Lissa one of them forever . . .'

My Thoughts:
I was kind of excited to start reading this book as it was one that I was always interested in years ago when it first came out but never got around to reading at the time.

Unfortunately I now wish I'd been able to read it when I was a few years younger because I probably would have loved and appreciated it a lot more back then to how I did now.

Putting this aside, I still found this book a pretty good read even though it was full of teen drama and gossip which isn't really my cup of tea nowadays.

There was some interesting character development and it contained some refreshing twists on the usual vampire culture and traditions that made it appealing in its own way.

I liked Rose's fiery personality and found her enjoyable as a character. To me she did act and talk a little beyond the teenager she was supposed to be though and I had to keep reminding myself of the ages of the main characters a few times because of the way they were all portrayed in general.

Lissa seemed a little too submissive and weak as a character to me and I literally felt like shaking her a few times in the book as the story moved along.

I'm definitely interested in reading more of this series now though, if not purely to catch up on how Dimitri develops as a character. He's certainly the most intriguing one and leaves you wanting more by the end.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Review - Being A Dog by Alexandra Horowitz

Being a DogBeing a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Ebook, 336 pages
Published October 4th 2016 by Simon & Schuster Audio
Source: Netgalley

Synopsis:
Alexandra Horowitz, the author of the lively, highly informative New York Times bestselling blockbuster Inside of a Dog, explains how dogs perceive the world through their most spectacular organ—the nose—and how we humans can put our under-used sense of smell to work in surprising ways.

What the dog sees and knows comes mostly through his nose, and the information that every dog takes in about the world just based on smell is unthinkably rich. To a dog, there is no such thing as “fresh air.” Every gulp of air is full of information.

In Being a Dog, Alexandra Horowitz, an eminent research scientist in the field of dog cognition, explores what the nose knows by taking an imaginative leap into what it is like to be a dog. Inspired by her own family dogs, Finnegan and Upton, Horowitz sets off on a quest to make sense of scents. In addition to speaking to experts across the country, Horowitz visits the California Narcotic Canine Association Training Institute and the Stapleton Group’s “Vapor wake” explosives dog training team; she meets vets and researchers working with dogs to detect cancerous cells and anticipate epileptic seizure or diabetic shock; she travels with Finnegan to the west coast where he learns how to find truffles; Horowitz even attempts to smell-train her own nose.

Featuring more of the fetching and whimsical drawings by the author that charmed fans of Inside of a DogBeing a Dog is a scientifically rigorous book that presents cutting-edge research with literary flair. Revealing such surprising facts such as panting dogs cannot smell to explaining how dogs tell time by detecting lingering smells, Horowitz covers the topic of noses—both canine and human—from curious and always fascinating angles. As we come to understand how rich, complex, and exciting the world around us appears to a dog’s sense of smell, we can begin to better appreciate it through our own.


My Thoughts:
After reading Horowitz's first book 'Inside of a Dog', I was really excited to be able to get my hands on this one too. Being a self-confessed dog lover I am fascinated by books to do with our canine friends and just love reading everything I can about them.

Being a Dog was very highly focused on how dogs smell and how their noses work. It really got me thinking a lot more about how my own dogs smell and why they find certain scents so appealing compared to others.

I was totally amazed at some of the statistics given in this book in relation to the power of a dogs nose. I own two beagles and being that they have one of the strongest noses around I now pay so much more attention to how they react to certain smells and find myself watching them a lot more in everyday situations. It's very interesting when you start to compare how much scent rules a dog's world whereas ours is much more vision orientated. You start to realise just how little we do pay attention to the smells around us throughout the day and it starts to make you more aware of your surroundings once you do pay more attention to everyday scents.

The author tells about her experience in controlled scent tests and these just fascinated me. I couldn't imagine how interesting it would be to participate in something like that. It is obvious that the author is very passionate about her subject and willing to do practically anything to gather research material.
I admit that I was expecting this book to be a bit more dog orientated like the first one but it ended up focusing a lot more on the author's journey of trying to experience life in the way that dogs do.

Even though there were definitely some interesting parts in this book, I did feel that it dragged on in some sections as the author tried to be a bit too over-descriptive to get her point and experience across. There definitely could have been some major condensing down in some chapters and the point still would have come across just as well.

Overall I did enjoy this book and would easily read anything else this author brings out in the future.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Book Tour, Guest Post & Giveaway - Something Missing by Glenice Whitting


Something Missing
Glenice Whitting

Two women, two countries. Serendipity, life, friendship

Diane, a young Australian mother meets Maggie, a sophisticated American poet, in a chance encounter. Everything – age, class and even nationality – separates them. Yet all is not quite as it seems. Maggie is grieving for her eldest daughter and trapped in a marriage involving infidelity and rape. Diane yearns for the same opportunities given to her brother. Their lives draw them to connect. This is the story of two unfulfilled women finding each other when they needed it most. Their pen-friendship will change them forever.

Something Missing is published by Madeglobal Publishing and is available from:








About Glenice Whitting

Glenice Whitting is an Australian author and playwright and has published two novels. She was a hairdresser for many years before she became a mature age student. It was during an English Literature Fiction Writing course that her great midlife adventure began. Rummaging through an old cardboard shoebox in the family home she found a pile of postcards dating back to the 19th century, many of them written in Old High German. The translated greetings from abroad introduced the hairdresser to her long hidden German heritage and started her on a life changing journey. She fell in love with the craft of writing and decided to pursue a writing career. Her Australian/German novel, Pickle to Pie, was short -listed for the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript. It co-won the Ilura Press International Fiction Quest and was launched during The Age Melbourne Writers' Festival.
Three years as an on-line editor and columnist at suite101.com introduced her to web writing and resulted in an ebook Inspiring Women. Glenice’s play Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow was produced during the Fertile Ground New Play Festival. Her published works include biographies, reviews, numerous short stories and two novels. Her latest novel, Something Missing, published by MadeGlobal Publishing is about two countries, two women and lies that lead to truth. She completed the journey from VCE to PhD when she gained her Doctorate of Philosophy (Writing) from Swinburne University in 2013. Along the way she was awarded entry into the Golden Key International Honour Society for academic excellence. She currently enjoys teaching Memoir Writing and encouraging other women to write their stories.  Glenice’s blog Writers and Their Journey can be found at her website, www.glenicewhitting.com


Guest Post


Note from Glenice: I have chosen to write a post from the 'voice' of Diane, the younger of the two main characters in my novel, Something Missing. I hope this will give readers an insight into her psyche.

Academic Armour: Diane tells her story
After meeting Maggie, I somehow felt as if the universe, fate or something was falling into place for me. She recommended books to read, opportunities presented themselves, friends recommended courses, people and places to be. Ever since I was fourteen I had made my way in life and was now a successful wife, mother and hairdresser. But I always felt as if something was missing; my thoughts and suggestions devalued and disrespected. Was it because I was a poorly educated woman? The everyday derogative comments would pierce my heart and damage my self esteem. Big brother would say, ‘No use you entering that writing competition. I’ll beat you.’ And he did. When I asked my parents about going to High School they laughed and replied, ‘You? High School? No way. You’ll only get married and have children.’
I remember resentfully vacuuming my brother’s bedroom and taking great delight in hearing his B.B. gun pellets ping when they hit the housing of the carpet cleaner.
Maggie’s letters inspired me to become a mature aged student and go back to school where I embraced every educational opportunity that came my way. No matter how scary. I wanted to be well educated like Maggie, write like Maggie. During classes I gave 110%, loved to study and found that I could succeed. I had finally found my wings and soared to the moon.
During the academic journey that followed I soon realized that success did not depend on gender, intelligence or having a gift from God. It all boiled down to how passionate and enthusiastic you were and how much time you were prepared to devote to your course, study and research. During those years of study I discovered many past and present women and men, who investigated a topic, teased it out and came to their own conclusions. It was time for me to stand tall, enter the conversation and add my hard won knowledge to the literary and social discussions.

When I’d completed the journey from VCE to PhD I found I did not need to use the prefix Doctor and no longer would take to heart the jibes and jokes of male friends. Many times I’m told, ‘So you’re now a doctor. I wouldn’t let you operate on me.’ Or, ‘you should know that, you’re a doctor.’ Instead of walking away hurt and belittled I quietly reply, ‘I’m a doctor of creative writing. Ask me anything about that and I’ll give you an answer.’ I am finally secure. Unassailable. The cultural arrows of my generation now bounce off my academic armour.
Since graduating I’ve had to watch that my pendulum does not swing too far and I become inflated with my own importance. I am a small cog in a big wheel. However I now understand the how, when and why of my life and I’m thankful for that chance meeting with Maggie in the Australian Outback, the years of inspirational pen-friendship and the opportunities presented to me. Many women do not have the privilege. 


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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Book Showcase - The Riverman by Alex Gray

The Riverman

by Alex Gray

on Tour January 9 - February 15, 2017

Synopsis:

The Riverman by Alex Gray
Fans of atmospheric police procedurals will love watching Glasgow vividly come to life with the shocking twists and turns that have made Alex Gray an international bestseller
When a dead body is fished out of Glasgow’s River Clyde the morning after an office celebration, it looks like a case of accidental death. But an anonymous telephone call and a forensic toxicology test give Detective Chief Inspector William Lorimer reason to think otherwise. Probing deeper into the life and business of the deceased accountant, a seemingly upright member of the community, Lorimer finds only more unanswered questions.
What is the secret his widow seems to be concealing? Was the international accounting firm facing financial difficulties? What has become of the dead man’s protégé who has disappeared in New York? And when another employee is found dead in her riverside flat these questions become much more disturbing. Lorimer must cope not only with deceptions from the firm, but also with suspicions from those far closer to home . . .

Book Details:

Genre: Police Procedurals
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: January 10th 2017
Number of Pages: 368
ISBN: 0062659138 (ISBN13: 9780062659132)
Series: A DCI Lorimer Novel, #4
Purchase Links: Amazon  | Barnes & Noble  | Goodreads 

Read an excerpt:

PROLOGUE

April
THE RIVERMAN
The riverman knew all about the Clyde. Its tides and currents were part of his heritage. His father and others before him had launched countless small craft from the banks of the river in response to a cry for help. Nowadays that cry came in the form of a klaxon that could waken him from sleep, the mobile phone ringing with information about where and when. It wouldn’t be the first time that he’d pulled someone from the icy waters with only a hasty oilskin over his pajamas.
This morning, at least, he’d been up and doing when the call came. The body was over by Finnieston, past the weir, so he’d had to drive over the river towing a boat behind him on the trailer. He was always ready. That was what this job was all about: prompt and speedy response in the hope that some poor sod’s life could be saved. And he’d saved hundreds over the years, desperate people who were trying to make up their mind to jump off one of the many bridges that spanned the Clyde or those who had made that leap and been saved before the waters filled their lungs.
George Parsonage had been brought up to respect his river. Once it had been the artery of a great beating heart, traffic thronging its banks, masts thick as brush-wood. The tobacco trade with Virginia had made Glasgow flourish all right, with the preaching of commerce and the praising of a New World that was ripe for plucking. The names of some city streets still recalled those far-off days. Even in his own memory, the Clyde had been a byword for ships. As a wee boy, George had been taken to the launch of some of the finer products of Glasgow’s shipbuilding industry. But even then the river’s grandeur was fading. He’d listened to stories about the grey hulks that grew like monsters from the deep, sliding along the water, destined for battle, and about the cruise liners sporting red funnels that were cheered off their slipways, folk bursting with pride to be part of this city with its great river.
The romance and nostalgia had persisted for decades after the demise of shipbuilding and cross-river ferries. Books written about the Clyde’s heyday still found readers hankering after a time that was long past. The Glasgow Garden Festival in the eighties had prompted some to stage a revival along the river and more recently there had been a flurry of activity as the cranes returned to erect luxury flats and offices on either side of its banks. Still, there was little regular traffic upon its sluggish dark waters: a few oarsmen, a private passenger cruiser and the occasional police launch. Few saw what the river was churning up on a daily basis.
As he pushed the oars against the brown water, the riverman sent up a silent prayer for guidance. He’d seen many victims of despair and violence, and constantly reminded himself that each one was a person like himself with hopes, dreams and duties in different measure. If he could help, he would. That was what the Glasgow Humane Society existed for, after all. The sound of morning traffic roared above him as he made his way downstream. The speed of response was tempered by a need to row slowly and carefully once the body was near. Even the smallest of eddies could tip the body, filling the air pocket with water and sending it down and down to the bottom of the river. So, as George Parsonage approached the spot where the body floated, his oars dipped as lightly as seabirds’ wings, his eyes fixed on the shape that seemed no more than a dirty smudge against the embankment.
The riverman could hear voices above but his eyes never left the half-submerged body as the boat crept nearer and nearer. At last he let the boat drift, oars resting on the rowlocks as he finally drew alongside the river’s latest victim. George stood up slowly and bent over, letting the gunwales of the boat dip towards the water. Resting one foot on the edge, he hauled the body by its shoulders and in one clean movement brought it in. Huge ripples eddied away from the side as the boat rocked upright, its cargo safely aboard.
The victim was a middle-aged man. He’d clearly been in the water for some hours so there was no question of trying to revive him. The riverman turned the head this way and that, but there was no sign of a bullet hole or any wound that might indicate a sudden, violent death. George touched the sodden coat lightly. Its original camel colour was smeared and streaked with the river’s detritus, the velvet collar an oily black. Whoever he had been, his clothes showed signs of wealth. The pale face shone wet against the pearly pink light of morning. For an instant George had the impression that the man would sit up and grasp his hand, expressing his thanks for taking him out of the water, as so many had done before him. But today no words would be spoken.There would be only a silent communion between the two men, one dead and one living, before other hands came to examine the corpse.
George grasped the oars and pulled away from the embankment. Only then did he glance upwards, nodding briefly as he identified the men whose voices had sounded across the water. DCI Lorimer caught his eye and nodded back. Up above the banking a couple of uniformed officers stood looking down. Even as he began rowing away from the shore, the riverman noticed a smaller figure join the others. Dr. Rosie Fergusson had arrived.
‘Meet you at the Finnieston steps, George,’ Lorimer called out.
The riverman nodded briefly, pulling hard on the oars, taking his charge on its final journey down the Clyde.
Excerpt from The Riverman by Alex Gray. Copyright © 2017 by Alex Gray. Reproduced with permission from HarperCollins | WitnessImpulse. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Alex Gray
Alex Gray was born and educated in Glasgow. After studying English and Philosophy at the University of Strathclyde, she worked as a visiting officer for the Department of Health, a time she looks upon as postgraduate education since it proved a rich source of character studies. She then trained as a secondary school teacher of English.
Alex began writing professionally in 1993 and had immediate success with short stories, articles, and commissions for BBC radio programs. She has been awarded the Scottish Association of Writers' Constable and Pitlochry trophies for her crime writing.
A regular on the Scottish bestseller lists, she is the author of thirteen DCI Lorimer novels. She is the co-founder of the international Scottish crime writing festival, Bloody Scotland, which had its inaugural year in 2012.

Connect with Alex Gray on her Website  & on Twitter .

 

Tour Participants:

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Don't Miss Your Chance in this Giveaway!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Alex Gray and William Morrow. There will be 3 US winners of one (1) PRINT copy of The Riverman by Alex Gray. The giveaway begins on January 9th and runs through February 23rd, 2017.
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Sunday, January 8, 2017

Review - Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little LiesBig Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
E-book, 460 pages
Published July 29th 2014 by Berkley
Source: Own copy

Synopsis:
'Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.'


My Thoughts:
I read this book at such a fitting time in my life. Having a 4 year old son myself who was going through the whole kindergarten orientation thing and about to start his first school year, I really felt like I related to so many parts of this book in a special way, especially Jane and her experiences with the other school mums who all seemed to know what they were doing when I didn't.

I had major trouble putting this book down at times. It is written at a nice, fast pace and in such a real and entertaining way even though it deals with some very serious topics such as domestic violence, marriage and parenting.

One of the main characters, Madeline, seems like the kind of person who would always be fun and exciting to have as a friend. I liked the way she always seemed so put together but still had a vulnerable side as well so she didn't feel too fake as a character. This was the way for most of the characters in this book.

I really enjoyed that there were so many sub-stories within the main story and the way that Moriarty manages to tie everything together in the end. I also can't say enough how much I loved how relatable her characters are and would highly recommend this book to anyone.

I'm pretty sure this book is being made into a movie soon too which is a big exciting and something I will certainly be looking forward to.

I'm definitely going to be checking out more from this author in the future.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Review - Written in Hell by Jason Helford

Written in HellWritten in Hell by Jason Helford
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Kindle Edition250 pages
Published January 5th 2014
Source: Author for Review

Synopsis:
'Written in Hell follows writer Nathanial Blovey on his strange and perilous adventures through Hell. Nathaniel’s book, a collection of lewd tales set in the old west, failed miserably, prematurely ending his career; however, unbeknownst to him, his stories had become a huge success in Hell. The Devil decides to send him a one-way invitation to her realm, to write for her, and to keep his damned fans happy. There is only one problem: he has writer’s block. With a firm deadline imposed by the Devil herself, Nate has to find a way to keep the most terrible of bosses happy, and survive his trip through Hell. While there is no fire and brimstone, and a burgeoning civilization is growing, Hell is still a very dangerous place for a soft man like Nathaniel.

Written in Hell is a creepy, fun and thought-provoking journey through Hell, with a guide who can’t help but anger people everywhere he goes. It takes you through a new and creative re-imagining of Hell.'


My Thoughts:
When I first received this book from the author to review I was kind of excited to read it because the description sounded very intriguing and exactly like my type of book.

Unfortunately, once I started reading it I realised that I wasn't going to be a fan of this book. I really did try to like it and keep an open mind throughout but there were just so many issues I had while reading that I couldn't seem to get past.

My biggest issue was with the main character Nate. He was made out to be such a disgusting and pathetic individual and I think the way he was portrayed really gave me a bad taste from the start. I know that in a way it's probably a smart move by the author to have done this because if he was a nice character it would be a bit hard to justify why he was sent to hell, but I like to relate to or at least have some sort of positive or inquisitive feeling about a character I am reading about in a book and I just couldn't get to this point with Nate.

Also, there were many little regular occurences in the book that literally made me feel disgusted in one way or another. I won't mention them because I don't want to spoil it for someone else but every time it was noted I got more and more sick of reading about it until it really did become too much. If you have already read this book you may be able to guess what bits I am referring to, otherwise I'll just have to leave you guessing.

I do have to admit that the storyline was an interesting concept and definitely different to any I have read before so I do have to give the author credit for his originality.

I really did have to force myself to finish reading this book and found myself not in any way interested in what was actually going to happen in the end. When I did finally finish it I felt a huge sense of relief.

I really do wish I could have liked this book more but I guess not every book is for every person. If they were it would probably be a boring world.

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