Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Last Woman Standing, A Novel of Mrs. Wyatt Earp by Thelma Adams

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'The Last Woman Standing,' A Novel of Mrs. Wyatt Earp by Thelma Adams.

As America settled and people made their way to the west for the lure of gold and land available to begin new lives, some of those people began to make names for themselves.  In Last Woman Standing by Thelma Adams, we meet the woman behind one of the most famous of men.  Josephine Marcus is an amazing woman, one that others either disliked intensely or wanted to emulate.

She did not come about marrying in the normal way; she is the cosseted daughter of Jewish immigrants but with a mind of her own. Running away with a friend, she met a lawman, one who has decided she is what he needs in his life. After returning home, she is enticed by the offer of marriage to this famous lawman, Johnny Behan.  Yet his schemes are nefarious as is his way with women, and as she leaves the shelter of her family, and moves to Arizona to get married, she finds she is just another of his women.

Angry and hurt she is much to humiliated to let her family know that they were right all along. Trying everything in her power, she attempts to solidify the relationship and move the marriage forward. Yet at the same time while waiting for this long awaited marriage, she finds herself drawn to another man.  Wyatt Earp is another strong young man and a colleague of Johnny’s. There is something about this man that draws her. Is it his intensity, or the way he looks at her? She tries to put him out of her mind and focus on what she is after and that is marriage to the man of her dreams.  Soon though she begins the see the real many behind her dream, he is not what she thought.  However, by now it no longer concerns her heart, as while her lawman played his games, her heart drew her to the only man for her.

This is the story of how Josephine Marcus became Mrs. Wyatt Earp and her own story of the life of Wyatt Earp and his brothers as she too helped to shape the history of the west.  She is amazing and her reminisces are strong and exciting, leaving you with that longing of having missed something very important.

Adams takes us into history with the unlikely vessel of a woman’s memories. She brings you a woman with flawed thinking, but brave and strong convictions. She wraps the history throughout the work and captures your imagination with the strength and bravado required of the time.  She gives us both the good and the bad, leaving you hurt and angry at the situations at times, but also helps you to understand the making of the legend of the Earp’s.

If you enjoy history and romance, danger and deceit, you will find this is a terrific book for your library. Learning more of the past through such a venue keeps you reading and searching to the very end. She has given us a strong and passionate story filled with historical facts, and you will find it hard to put this book down.

This would be a great book for a reading or discussion group, with a great deal of interest to them both.

Rating 5/5

Monday, June 13, 2016

Pearl by Deirdre Riordan Hall

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Pearl' A Novel by Deirdre Riordan Hall. 

In Pearl by Deirdre Riordan Hall, we follow the life and exploits of Pearl Jaeger, a young woman who is on her own and homeless at a time most are dreaming of their first prom. Pearl has grown up with the privilege of having a rock star as a mother, but JJ has become the product of her life. Drugs and poverty are more her mainstream and Pearl is not interested in following her path.  Angry and hurt Pearl has learned a lesson in trust. For her she has learned she has to look out for herself, and any happiness is only fleeting, for danger and drugs are always just around the corner.

When her Mother passes, her Uncle who has never had a good thing to say about her mom, becomes her guardian, he sends her to an elite boarding school. She is ready to shift her life and uses this challenge as a way to move forward.

Her sanity seems to come in the form of an art teacher who seems as messed up as she is, and when she has to face her own demons, she finds that what she thought was important isn’t  as simple as she imagined.

Through friendships at the school, especially one with a boy named Grant, she finds she has the tools to trust, but can she just rely on these new skills or will her future be forged by her mother’s past. Will Pearl be courageous, as she dreams of, or will the past catch up and take her back into the morass of drugs and failure?

Hall has given us a glimpse into the life that we sometimes hear of, and she gives us characters that are both flawed and human. JJ wants nothing more than to be famous again, yet she continues on a path that drags her further and further into pain. Pearl tries hard to hold her life together, but she too is being pulled into the spiral that draws her mother.  You find yourself rooting for Pearl as she searches for her own courage to beat the demons that destroyed her mother.

If you enjoy literary fiction with a depth of emotion and the creation of hope and courage you will find Pearl to be just the work.  This would be a great find for your library and a great summer read.

Book clubs or reading groups would find this a great find for their discussion groups as it will add a great deal of dialogue for their inspection.

Rating 3/5

Golden: Heart of Dread, Book 3 by Melissa De La Cruz and Michael Johnston

Posted first to blog Critics as Book Review: 'Golden: Heart of Dread, Book 3', The Exciting Conclusion by Melissa De La Cruz and Michael Johnston.

In Golden: Heart of Dread Book 3 by Melissa De La Cruz and Michael Johnston, we find ourselves back in the darkened world of Nat and Wes.  In the conclusion of the Heart of Dread trilogy, we find a bleakness that seems more insurmountable then all that has come before.

The bond Nat has with her dragon is draining daily, and the destruction of New Kandy leaves Wes close to death. In his attempt to find and save his sister from the cruelty he imagines her life, he actually sees just how strong her power of darkness has become and how it has molded her into a stranger, one who will use that power to destroy whoever gets in her way.

Seeking help from any direction, Wes accepts help from the mysterious voice calling out to him from the hidden Blue. Yet he and his crew find this help is not what they expected and that they are in a more perilous situation than they had been before.  Their only hope now lies in Nat, and her quest to find a new world to replace the broken one they are now living in.  

Will Nat survive the loss of her connection to her beloved dragon and can the love she has for Wes hold her to the task of seeing their world reborn.

The conclusion to the Heart of Dread Series is as exciting as the previous works that have led to the making of this new world.  The danger and excitement, as well as the quest to find the answers keep you enthralled, helping to push the characters forward. Yet De La Cruz manages to twist red herrings into the work at various times to keep you from thinking that you know how it will all end.

While this book will stand on its own, it will only bring you a few questions that will make you wonder. If you want the full thrill and detail of this great work, you will want to start where it all began, the making of an epic battle of the ages, and the distinction of varying shades of right and wrong.   

Frozen, and Stolen, Books 1 and 2 will bring you the story in its entirety and you will find the set would be a great fit your library.  This would be a great trilogy for your youngster, but make no mistake; it is also a powerful work for any fantasy fan.

Melissa De La Cruz and Michael Johnston continue to create the stories of courage and friendships, ones that both you and your young adults will enjoy.

Rating 5/5

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Thing Is by Kathleen Gerard

Animals have a reputation for helping with depression and anxiety. In The Thing Is by Kathleen Gerard, we meet an animal that is more than the norm, much more.
Meredith Macuso is very depressed. She has hidden away from the world since the death of her fiancĂ©. Her darkness leaves her unable to work. She is a successful writer, but even that is empty. Her sister Monica is annoying and constantly trying to mother her, and she struggles to keep her from intruding. Yet she knows she’s only acting out of love.
So when she ends up being left in charge of an orphaned Yorkshire terrier named Prozac, one who belonged to a client of her sister, she is frustrated. She has never wanted a dog and this dog apparently requires certain activities. He is a therapy dog, hence the name Prozac, and Meredith is not sure how to handle his high energy.
Gerard keeps you entertained with her fun and uplifting work involving a dog that is more than what he seems. Her characters are both sad and determined, but irascible in their own right. You could probably go into any independent living facilities and find many of the same characters out there. Prozac though steals the show with his divine grace and his stubborn decision to make things right.What she does not know though is that Prozac has an amazingly high IQ and a spiritual wisdom that guides him. He is now fixated on working his magic and bringing her back to life, and she has no say in his decision to move forward.
Nevertheless, even Prozac finds her a tough sell. He is determined though and uses his weekly visits to the Evergreen Gardens, an independent living facility to bring her out of her darkness. The residents, suffering from losses of their own, help propel Meredith back into the land of the living. Is that possibly the outcome that Prozac had in mind all along?
If you enjoy stories of hope and fun, you will find this a enjoyable read. The Thing Is is a work for your library and one that will strike the fancy of dog lovers everywhere. There is charm and friendship throughout, just the thing to begin your summer.
Kathleen Gerard writes across genres. Her work has been awarded many literary prizes and has been published in magazines, journals, widely anthologized and broadcast on National Public Radio (NPR). Kathleen writes and reviews books for Shelf Awareness. Kathleen's woman-in-jeopardy novel, IN TRANSIT, won "Best Romantic Fiction" at the New York Book Festival.

The Thing Is Book Summary:
Can a woman mired deep in the throes of grief have her heart and soul rallied by a therapy dog named Prozac who possesses supernatural wisdom and a canine Mensa IQ?

Meredith Mancuso is depressed. Ever since the death of her fiancĂ©, she has shrunk from the world. Even with her successful writing career, she's not motivated to work. When her sister, Monica, begs for a favor, Meredith wants nothing more than to say no. But she’s ultimately roped into pet-sitting an orphaned Yorkshire terrier named Prozac.

Blessed with spiritual wisdom and a high IQ, Prozac is an active pet therapy dog. To heal broken-hearted Meredith, he rallies his fan club at Evergreen Gardens, an independent living facility, where he visits each week.

Prozac and the community of resilient older folks challenged by losses of their own propel Meredith, often against her will, back into the land of the living. Meredith learns that most people carry some sort of burden, but it's still possible to find meaning, purpose, and joy—and even love—along the way.

THE THING IS—a perfect read for fans of General Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Romantic Comedy, and Dog and Pet Lovers!

Prices/Formats: $5.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback
Romantic Comedy
February 9, 2016
Red Adept

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Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Matchmaker's Playbook by Rachel Van Dyken

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'The Matchmaker's Playbook,' A Wingmen Inc. Novel by Rachel Van Dyken. 
When injuries occur to potential professional athletes, their career choices must change. In The Matchmaker’s Playbook, A Wingmen Inc. Novel by Rachel Van Dyken, we meet Ian Hunter, a former NFL prospect and one-half of the team in Wingmen Inc. His new company is a secretive, word of mouth dating service where he and his partner use their skills with women to help them become noticeable to their crush, and possibly even get them to hook up.
They have garnered a reputation for success and when Ian gets a new client named Blake Olson, he is sure he is ready for his next triumph. Blake is everything he dislikes in a woman, from her choice of clothing to her footwear as well as her irritating attitude. He finds her to be very annoying and even he is not sure he is up to the task of helping her realize her crush.
As he pushes forward and his recommended transformation occurs he realizes that he is beginning to like her, her spunk and humor are engaging. However, he knows he must stay clear, as his job is to help her succeed in reaching her own goal of romance. He is beginning to wonder if he can make it, for his final ploy is in making the target jealous and that will require some closeness with which he is no longer comfortable.
What will he do when he succeeds; his heart is already feeling the terror of loss. Can he move forward and get past his hurt as he helps Blake realize her dream?
Dyken creates strong male characters with charisma and charm, and puts them in the business of helping women find mates. This also makes her characters just a bit bold but also a little vain. Good looking and charismatic, their own thoughts and quirks make sure they have just enough flaws to make them likable.
Her interaction between characters is initially subtle, but the heat begins to build as Ian begins to loose just a bit of his armor. This keeps your interest as each chink he develops makes him more likable. With Blake being so entertaining and feisty, you will love the way Van Dyken gradually develops their relationship.
If you enjoy romance and fun, you will enjoy The Matchmakers Playbook. It will make a great summer read, sure to keep you enthralled. This would also be a great gift for any of your book-reading friends, sure to keep them entertained.
Rating 4/5

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Restaurant Critic's Wife by Elizabeth La Ban

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'The Restaurant Critic's Wife,' A Novel by Elizabeth La Ban.
The Restaurant Critic’s Wife by Elizabeth La Ban is a great take on how each individual reacts to what each believe is living the dream. Lila Soto has a master’s degree, but she has chosen to be a stay at home mom. This has worked pretty well but when they move to Philadelphia, her husband, Sam is suddenly taking his job just a bit more seriously. He is a restaurant critic, and while always just a bit eccentric, Lila believes he may be taking it too far. Striving to protect his credibility and with his entry into a new market, he is determined to remain anonymous.
His new direction hinders the lives of both Lila and the children. She wants to meet new friends, but Sam is sure that they will find out his identity and it will ruin his career. Lila loves him but she is beginning to feel as though he has gone over the edge. Trying to follow his wishes about his anonymity and still make friends, she begins walking a tightrope of decisions.
When she finds out she is pregnant again, she finally loses her patience, leaving her questioning all of her decisions. These include taking a break from her career, her marriage, and even breaking up with her ex-boyfriend after meeting Sam. As Sam grows more fixated, Lila wonders if her own identity has begun to disappear. She is determined to discover herself and do whatever it takes to get back on track to a life of substance.
La Bar has given us an interesting look at life that seems both bizarre and funny on the outside, but creates pain and hurt on the inside. Her characters are both amazing. With Lila, a woman feeling lost and losing her identity but clinging to her remembrance of love, and her husband Sam who feels threatened by the overall populace and is concerned about his own secret job getting out. For him he feels it makes him a target for those looking for good reviews plus those unhappy with his assessment
If you enjoy romance and family with just a bit of zany action and incredible food, you will find this to be a fun and surprising read. La Bar takes you on an unexpected and crazy ride, one you will not soon forget.Though it all she keeps a thread of humor that keeps you chuckling at times. However, you can also understand the disbelief his wife and children feel at some of his antics. It is charming and warm with bits of the way we as humans must find to come together in spite of our differences.
This would be a great book for a reading or book club with a great deal of discussion for debate.
Rating 4/5

Monday, May 23, 2016

Saving Abby by Steena Holmes

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Saving Abby', A Novel by Steena Holmes.

In Saving Abby by Steena Homes, we meet a couple, Claire Turner and her husband, Josh. He is a celebrated author of children’s books and she is the illustrator. While they seem to have it all, there is that one thing that they have always dreamed of, a child of their own. After trying for years, Claire has finally accepted the fact that fulfillment of their dream will never be realized.

Yet it is finally when all hope is gone, she finds that miracles do exist.  She has become pregnant. The first few months are like a cloud, happiness and excitement abound.

When debilitating headaches begin disrupting her life and sleep, her roller-coaster begins. Her doctor finds a tumor, and Claire must make a decision. Any treatment could put her pregnancy at risk. After trying for so long, she is firm in her decision that she must hold off on treatment until the baby is far enough along to be born. Yet if Claire’s treatment isn’t started in time, she risks certain death.

Can this span of tightrope work in both directions, with a miracle on both sides.

Holmes gives us characters that are strong yet vulnerable. Love and strength is essential to the story, and both happiness and grief vie for the win. She takes you to the highs and lows of life with the flick of a pen, and yet she holds that hope as an enchanting chain, daring cancer to break it. She holds you in thrall to the very end.  She brings into play a life for a life, with the hope for a double win. The tension keeps you reading far into the night.

If you enjoy romance and family, woman’s literature, and contemporary drama, you will find this to be the perfect work for your library. Holmes takes you through the list of emotions without ever giving it away.

This would be a great book for both a reading group and book club with a myriad of discussions generated off the questions and decisions generated within the pages.

Rating 4/5