Saturday, January 24, 2015

American Gangsters: The Life and Legacy of Al Capone, by Charles River Editors

Barnes & Noble

  • Explains the legends and separates fact from fiction regarding Capone's most famous hits, including the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. 
  • Includes pictures of Capone and important people, places, and events in his life. 
  • Includes a Table of Contents

2.5 stars, upped to three because it was free on Amazon and I didn't hate it.

The authors of this book, the Charles River Editors, could have done a much better job, editing: timelines went backward and forward; punctuation was missing or in the wrong place; the word "somehow" was used every time someone survived an assassination attempt; and so on.

I also expected more "fact vs. fiction" as promised in the synopsis--at least more than a few paragraphs at the end.

Monday, June 23, 2014

(Book Excerpt and GIVEAWAY!) Honest Love, by CM Hutton

Title: Honest Love
Author: CM Hutton
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Starting over was never easy for anyone.
I’d heard the stories over and over.
But after the hell my ex-husband had put me through over the last year, over the last twenty years…well, I was ready to move on, repair what was left of my shattered heart and find someone to share my life with—someone who would put me first.
I deserved it. I’d done my time being in her shadow, being a cheap understudy, always second. For. All. Those. Years.
Never again.
Our move to San Diego provided a fresh start, a new place away from all the hurt and memories. Life as a single mom to three teenagers had its' challenges, but we were adjusting and my kids were doing well.
It was time to focus on my happiness, for once. I had a huge capacity to love and I wanted to share my love with a man that respected it, accepted it and gave it in return.
It was just a matter of time before he found me and showed me what true, honest love was all about.


Every now and then, during his session, Id notice an odd glance or two from him, but ignored it. I didnt want his negative shit adding to my own. This was my job. I was his physical therapist, not his friend or counselor, and this job was what would keep me going while I learned to wrap my head around my new life. 

Derek didnt say much. He grunted a few times when I pushed him harder, but other than that, nothing.

It wasnt until we were just about done and I was giving him our customary mini relaxation massage, that I took the opportunity to really take a good look at him. Derek removed his shirt as he laid face down on the massage table in my therapy room and an involuntary gasp escaped from me. 

Wasnt expecting that.  

Most patients didnt remove their clothing as these massages were only meant to relieve the tension built up in the body as a result of the stress from working an injury.  Hed apparently heard me because a small, stupid grin turned up on one corner of his mouth. I ignored him.

He was tall and lean, not too bulky, and his skin was tan and smoothdefined. I noticed a few tattoos on his ribs. Id never been much on body ink, but it was sexy on Derek and I couldnt stop staring at it as I slowly rubbed the tension from his neck and shoulders. 

Yeah, you could say I was attracted to him. 



Claire seemed nice. Actually she seemed like she probably wouldnt take any crap from me. And I didnt think she knew who I wasalways a good thing. 

She was good at her job. I had a feeling Id be back on the truck soon. My life as a firefighter was about all I had to keep my mind occupied. Football used to do that for me. 

Nothing but tainted memories now.

I shook my head, brushed off my thoughts and focused more on my new therapist. Id asked her a few questions, which she answered willingly. I was curious about Claire, but my pissy mood made my questions come out way too harsh and nasty.

I just hoped I could stop staring at her. She was shorter than me. Maybe 55 with beautiful blonde hair and amazing brown eyes. Not who I would typically pay attention to, but what the hell did I know? The only girl Id ever loved was Claires complete opposite with dark brown hair, blue eyes and really tall.  Shed also ripped my heart out and practically ate the damn thing right in front of me. 

Maybe Claire was just what I needed. 

But first, I had to find out more about her past and what lead her to San Diego.

CM Hutton is a wife, a mom of three, a friend, an aunt, a sister, a daughter, and a teacher. She lives near Austin, Texas with her family and loves to read and travel.
Her first novel, Paradise Taken, is a highly emotional book based on true events.  Its sequel, Saving Us, was released in February 2014.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads 

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

(Book Highlight) Full Moon, by Jordan Deen

Title: Full Moon
Author: Jordan Deen
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal

You know her story. You know her painful initiation into the werewolf world and you’ve seen her struggle to find the truth.

Now, Lacey Quinn is ready for the war to be over. Are you?

Lacey has been used, lied to and cheated out of the only thing she ever wanted: independence. Struggling with her newfound knowledge of being pack leader, Alex coming back into her life and the kidnapping of Lily’s mate—Matt—Lacey is faced with one of the biggest decisions of her life: fight or flight. While she knows running from the war will risk many lives, but staying means she would never have the life she wants and quite possibly never know a world without werewolves, witches and war.

Sometimes doing the right thing isn’t always the first or most obvious choice. Lacey Quinn is about to challenge what everyone thinks is the right thing to do. Unfortunately for her, most will not agree with her decision or the painful outcome.

Sometimes, love means death.



Just please stop…, I said one last time as the ribbons encircled my wrists and my ankles and started pulling in opposite directions. There would be no end to the suffering until there was an end to me. The only way to stop the pain was to let myself go. To let it overtake me and to be one with the pain. I released the tension in each of my muscles and loosened my balled up fists. If I was going to die now, it would be on my own terms. As soon as the realization had registered in my mind, the onyx prisoner twisted onto itself and around me to squeeze my stomach and my ribs. It was determined to kill me and to make me suffer while it was doing it. I couldn’t fight back. I wouldn’t fight back. It was futile. I remained limp and it seemed to only further anger my captor.

            The next thing I knew, I was upside down and the ground was racing quickly towards my face. The shackles around my wrist were released and I was again screaming for my freedom. My arms flailed and hopes for developing an ability to fly rushed through my mind. If only I could fly… then my head hit the ground.


Jordan Deen is an Award-Winning Young Adult and New Adult Author from East St. Louis, Illinois. Her debut novel, THE CRESCENT was a 2010 Reader's Favorite Award Winner. Her second novel, HALF MOON released in 2011. BREAKING LAUREN is her third novel and was a finalist in the Texas Literary Awards. The sequel, LOSING LAUREN was released on 12/5/2013.

She can usually be found curled up in her favorite chair with a book or her laptop. She is the proud mother of one crazy little boy and an even crazier teacup Yorkie.

Jordan is Indie published, as well as traditionally published with Black Rose Writing.
'Life is about the journey...'


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Watching and Fearing, Part I

Women are taught -- at a very young age -- to recognize the signs of interest from the opposite sex.

Before we even enter elementary school, we're told to ignore the boys who pull our hair and tease us:
"They like you, and that's just how boys show it."
(Never mind the fact that they are in our personal space and bothering us.)

When we get older, however, we're taught to fear an unknown "them" whose only intentions are to harm us: we shouldn't walk the 500-foot path through the trees separating the house from the school; we're not supposed to look at men or boys for too long because they might think it's an invitation; we need to dress to a certain standard so as not to draw unwanted attention to ourselves.  And on and on it goes.

So we learn.  We watch.  We see the lingering stares from the corners of our eyes and do our best to ignore them.  We practice walking with our shoulders back and our heads up in order to feign confidence and strength.
"Walk with a purpose and you won't get attacked; as long as you don't look vulnerable, you're safe."
(Never mind the fact that carrying our keys in between our fingers to defend ourselves probably won't make much of a difference.)

On one hand, we're learning how to protect ourselves and and to avoid being noticed.  On the other, we're learning from our peers, from celebrities and the media, and sometimes our own parents that we need to be skinny, cute, and fashionable in order to get a boyfriend.  We need to be skinny, cute, and fashionable in order to be popular.  We need to be skinny, cute, and fashionable in order to be relevant.

It's an interesting dichotomy.

We watch.  We see the boys staring at us; watch their heads turn.  We hear he wolf whistles; the cat calls.  We see the lewd gestures; the mimicking of sexual acts.  This is our success.  Skinny, cute, fashionable.  This is us being relevant.  Even if it makes us feel dirty inside.
"Boys will be boys."
(But we don't respond.  Because we're not stupid: we don't want to be attacked.)

As adults, we realize the bullshit of what we learned growing up.  But it's too late.  20-something years later, and it's all we know: if we're not skinny, if we're not cute, if we're not fashionable...what are we?


It is so ingrained into our entire beings that it defines us.

A few days ago, I realized that this is my biggest fear: becoming irrelevant.  Whether it's at work, at home, or within the community, the mere thought of not being needed or valued scares the ever-loving shit out of me.  It makes me feel weak, undesirable, and unintelligent.  It strikes at the core of who I am and fucks with my psyche.  If I am irrelevant, why am I here?

I have more to say on this subject, but an overwhelming sense of sadness is preventing me from continuing right now.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

(Blog Tour) Attempting Elizabeth, by Jessica Gray

Barnes & Noble

Kelsey Edmundson is a geek and proud of it. She makes no secret of her love for TV, movies, and--most especially--books. After a bad breakup, she retreats into her favorite novel, Pride and Prejudice, wishing she had some of the wit and spirit of Elizabeth Bennett.

One night at a party, Kelsey meets handsome Australian bartender Mark Barnes. From then on, she always seems to run into him when she least expects it. No matter how Kelsey tries, she always seems to say the wrong thing.

After a particularly gaffe-filled evening around Mark, Kelsey is in desperate need of inspiration from Jane Austen. She falls asleep reading Darcy’s letter to Lizzy and awakens to find herself in an unfamiliar place that looks and sounds suspiciously like her favorite book. Has she somehow been transported into
Pride and Prejudice, or is it just a dream?

As Kelsey tries to discover what’s happening to her, she must also discover her own heart. Is Mark Barnes destined to be her Mr. Darcy? In the end, she must decide whether attempting to become Elizabeth is worth the risk or if being Kelsey Edmundson is enough.

Welcome to my stop on the Attempting Elizabeth blog tour!

Confession #1: I have never read Pride and Prejudice.  I've started it a half-dozen times, but I've never really understood the hype. 

Confession #2: I love--LOVE--Australian accents.

Confession #3: I'm a sucker for time travel/historical fiction romance.

Jessica Gray's Attempting Elizabeth is a quick, fun read that meets two of my guilty pleasures; I didn't care that it referenced a book that I hadn't read.

Kelsey is a girl after my own heart: she is a total nerd who prefers to stay home and read a good book than to hit the bars until all hours of the night.  She's endearingly awkward around Mark, and I couldn't get enough of their accidental run-ins; I would have loved to read more of these conversations.

I've often wondered what it would be like to enter the world of one my favorite books.  I would totally be friends with Eleanor & Park.  I know I'd end up a tribute in The Hunger Games.  And be placed in Hufflepuff at Hogwarts.  

So I loved reading about Kelsey's experience within Pride and Prejudice, her own favorite book.

How cool would it be to wake up with your favorite characters?  (So cool!)  How crazy would you think yourself?  (So crazy!)  Is it surprising that Kelsey thinks that she's gone insane? (So not surprising!)

The transitions between the real world and the book world were done well; even though the audience didn't have all of the information about how it was happening, it made sense within the story itself.

If you're looking to snuggle up with a book, give this one a shot.

About the Author

Jessica Grey is an author, fairytale believer, baseball lover, and recovering Star Wars fangirl. A life-long Californian, she now lives in Montana with her husband and two children, where she spends her time writing, perfecting the fine art of preschooler-wrangling, and drinking way too much caffeine.

Website        Facebook        Goodreads        Twitter

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Just One Year (Just One Day #2), by Gayle Forman

Barnes & Noble

Equal parts romance, coming-of-age-tale, mystery and travel romp (with settings that span from England’s Stratford upon Avon to Paris to Amsterdam to India’s Bollywood) Just One Day and Just One Year show how in looking for someone else, you just might wind up finding yourself. 

After spending an amazing day and night together in Paris, Just One Year is Willem's story, picking up where Just One Day ended. His story of their year of quiet longing and near-misses is a perfect counterpoint to Allyson's own as Willem undergoes a transformative journey, questioning his path, finding love, and ultimately, redefining himself.

I have been waiting for Just One Year from the moment that I finished Just One Day.  The latter completely blew me away and I couldn't wait for Willem's POV of their time apart and their reconnection.

So imagine my surprise at the disillusionment I felt throughout the novel.  Do you see the description above?  Where it says "picking up where Just One Day ended"?  Guess what I was expecting.  FOR THIS BOOK TO PICK UP WHERE THE PREVIOUS ONE LEFT OFF.

Guess what I got?  NOT THAT.

Allyson's story in JOD was empowering and full of self-discovery.  Willem's story in JOY was all wallowing in self-pity and shacking up with other girls while he was oh-so-in-love with "Lulu."  And I just didn't buy it.

Maybe I would have felt differently if there had been more interaction between the two protagonists.  But I kept anticipating their reunion (picking up where the last one left off!!!) and felt nothing but anxiety and disappointment with each chapter.

WTF, Gayle Forman?  Your previous works have left me bleary-eyed from too much crying, but were always worth the heartfail.  This?  Bleary-eyed from near-boredom.  Had I known that I wouldn't get a whole book--or at least part of a book--with Willem and Allyson together, I'm not sure I would have read it.  And I'm really glad that I borrowed this from the library instead of purchasing it; I would have rated it lower if I had spent any money on this sequel.  As it is, three stars is being generous.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

(Blog Tour & Giveaway) Play With Me, by Piper Shelly

Barnes & Noble

Ryan Hunter's parties are legend. And tonight she's going to be there.

Liza Matthews anticipates the return of her best friend and only love since kindergarten from soccer camp. But when Tony finally shows up, his mind is more focused on another girl. And worse, she's a soccer player. Fighting for the attention Liza craves, she's just a hairbreadth away from making a very stupid decision. But when extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, she's prepared to play ball to get her man.

The tryouts are hell, the first match ends bloody, and the morning after the selection party she wakes up in the worst place possible—in the arms of the captain of the soccer team. The hottest guy in school. Ryan Hunter.

Welcome to my stop on the Play With Me blog tour, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours.  Click here to check out other participating blogs. 

Coming in at just under 200 pages, this was a quick, light read; I finished the book in just a couple of hours.  I wish it had been longer!  Piper Shelly could have added another hundred pages to really flesh out the characters and give them more background.  Everything seemed to happen at warp speed and there was lack of motivation in a few spots.  I would have given Play With Me four stars had it delved deeper into the various relationships and provided more than a glimpse into the characters' lives.

I have not read the sequel, so maybe it's addressed later on.

I am concerned about the slut-shaming and fat-shaming that occurs throughout the book.  The last thing that young women need is to read about female characters who are disparaging members of their own sex.  It's already so pervasive in the media that it reinforces negative stereotypes when it's part of a YA novel.

To women everywhere: it is unfair to label another woman a "bimbo" simply because she is attractive and likes the same guy that you do.

That being said, this was a quick, fun way to spend an evening.

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