Sunday, April 9, 2017

All Things New by Lauren Miller

Posted First to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'All Things New', A Young Adult Novel by Lauren Miller. 

Often there are those who wish that the pain on the inside can be seen on the outside. To be able to diminish the hold it has, others must see and acknowledge what you have gone through, and are going though. But while the thought sometimes lingers, is the reality as likely as it seems?

In All Things New by Lauren Miller she takes us into the life of seventeen-year-old Jessa Gray. Jessa was always a great student, but then life changed in unexpected ways. Her parents split up, her mom moved on, getting remarried and having another family. Her family decided that Jessa should stay with her mom, never consulting her about her own feelings. Suddenly life has darkened, her grades have dropped, and she begins having severe anxiety, barely able to leave her home. She finds it hard to be around others, as she no longer really understands who she is.

As her days drag on, she finally meets a young man who has no real expectations of her. He never delves into her problems and makes her feel almost whole. She begins to think life will be okay. Yet when finding that all he really was interested in was not something she was willing to give, she soon finds him with another girl while at party they had attended together. In her panic, she drives herself home, only to be hit at tremendous speed by another vehicle. Her injuries are so severe, her doctors are relieved that she survives the ordeal, but her anxiety comes to the fore. The excessive scarring on her face feels like it matches the pain within. Her father shows up to see her, and she is finally able to find a way to go and live with him, away from all that she has lost.

It is here in her new beginning that she finds another calling, one that teams her with others much like her, and her own pain and re-birth give her the advantage of seeing what they are feeling inside. As she focuses on freeing them, she finds a strength she has not known since she was a child. Can she hold on to this new her, or will it all come crumbling down at the first sign of pressure.

Miller gives us a novel that is hard to put down. You can feel the pain of her characters as they face the challenges of life and school as well as peer pressure and bullying. This is a work of fiction and yet you can feel the rawness of the characters, the pressure, often from themselves, and how destructive it can be. The insights are amazing and the story is wound with a bit of faith, one that makes you think about what truth is.

If you enjoy works that draw you in and make you think, this would be a great novel. Written for teen adults, this is a great read for those who just love an interesting story. Miller is making a name for herself in YA fiction.




This would be a fascinating book for a reading or discussion group, with a great deal of debate and questions to be answered.

Rating 5/5

The Mutual Admiration Society by Lesley Kagen

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'The Mutual Admiration Society', A Young Adult novel by Lesley Kagen.

In The Mutual Admiration Society by Lesley Kagen we are taken into the lives of two young sisters, Tessie, and Birdie. Tessie is convinced that she can solve crimes and keeps her younger sister involved as well. She doesn’t feel that Birdie can do as well without her own involvement as she is very sweet, and just a tad weird.

Tessie is sure, however, of her own abilities and it is fun having a younger sister believe in her and all her adventures. After all, Tessie is known for her crime solving abilities. When they hear a scream one night and mysterious happenings, she knows that she is the only one that can find a murderer. For she is sure that is what she has witnessed.

Another friend, Charlie, finds himself intrigued as well and determines to help in the investigation. What Tessie finds as she tries to solve the case, that no one else shows an interest in, is that often what we see and hear can have many varied reasons. She also finds with encouragement, that her sister Birdie is much more than she seems, that she has thoughts and ideas that might more than take over her own. But her sweetness and attention to Tessie’s plots, keep them going, and creating a strong admiration for each other’s abilities and input.

This is a sweet and funny story of the kids in the neighborhood that are just a bit different, those who look behind the everyday, and develop stories and intrigues that make life in their home and neighborhood interesting…At least for themselves.

Kagen takes us into the past and into the life of a family that struggles just as many others of the time do. But she also shows us the hijinks of children as they find ways to enjoy their time away from school, and other troubles. Her characters are very like those we each grew up with, I am sure you can relate as you find the fun and danger in this work.

If you are looking for a good work for your youngster, or are trying to get your child to read, this is a fun and fast paced work of fiction, that will keep you looking for more. Kagen does an excellent job of taking us into the recent past and showing us a life many will remember. She also gives us insight into the endearing traits of how children grow in the process of finding their niche in life.

Rating 4/5


Thursday, February 9, 2017

Twisted, The Girl Who Uncovered Rumpelstiltskin's Name by Bonnie M. Hennessy

Posted First to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Twisted, The Girl Who Uncovered Rumpelstiltskin's Name by Bonnie M. Hennessy.

In a tale from childhood, Twisted by Bonnie M Hennessy, takes you on an alternate journey to a dark and bleak tale of love and courage, filled with revenge and regret as well as a strength of spirit.

Looking at the story of Rumpelstiltskin's rage and sadness, you follow The life of Aoife and a different path of how the lives of two such differing characters really came to being.

Aoife, the beloved daughter, is the strength of her family as she takes on the family farm to keep their finances afloat, while at the same time trying to keep her father out of trouble. He is deep in drink and gambling, but Aoife's goodness and strength of heart endears her to all those that see her dilemma.

When a young man of money happens to see her, he decides that she should be his, for unbeknownst to the town he is the Duke of the realm and will have what he fancies. Yet she rebuffs him, and while she has no idea of his identity, she has no time for a man with such airs.  As the Duke determines to have her, he finds a way through the weakness of her father, with both his drink and gambling. Joining the game and urging the poor man gamble his daughter away on a sure hand, all is lost when the hand does not come through. Her father through his muddled thoughts brags of her ability to make gold out of straw, his attempt to brag about her farming, but the Duke understands it to mean something far different.

Aoife, who has always found solace in the woods hides her pain and anger, as nature responds, her spark of spirit draws her magic, that of her kindness and regrets, but it is another, a strange interloper that finds his own home in the forest that takes notice of her pain and anguish as well as her affinity for magic and her beauty. So begins the strange friendship that begins with fondness and love and turns to hate and anger, that takes a tortured soul into the very depths of despair.

As Aoife finds herself in trouble trying to live up the talents her father has bragged of, the stranger from the woods uses his own twisted magic to help. Aoife, soon finds herself in love with the Duke, and with child. The temper of her rescuer from the woods sparks her urgent need to find his name, and takes her into further danger as she tries to save the child of her love.

The twisted tale of love and darkness builds in a direction both like and unlike that of the fairy tale of youth. Hennessy does a great job of holding true to the outline of the work but adds more depth of character, making you feel both appalled and sad, yet as the same time, the tension keeps you intrigues as to how it will all come together.

If you enjoy magic romance and danger, you will love this take on a fairy tale of old. It is darker and more thought provoking, but yet carries that same feel of the fear you felt as a child. Hennessy brings the tale to stark life and into the twentieth century.

This would be a great book for a reading group or book club.

 Bonnie M. Hennessy's Web Site:
http://www.bonniemhennessy.com/Bonnie M. Hennessy's Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/twistedthebook/
Bonnie M. Hennessy's Twitter:
https://www.twitter.com/bonniemhennessy
Bonnie M. Hennessy's Goodreads:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16075736.Bonnie_M_HennessyBonnie M. Hennessy's YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC23yBSLSEcbE2Bw98_4k-WQTwisted Goodreads:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32962973-twisted?from_search=true
Tribute Books Blog Tours Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tribute-Books-Blog-Tours/242431245775186

Twisted blog tour site:
http://twistedblogtour.blogspot.com




Bonnie M. Hennessy's Bio: Bonnie grew up a shy, quiet girl who the teachers always seated next to the noisy boys because they knew she was too afraid to talk to anyone. She always had a lot she wanted to say but was too afraid to share it for fear she might die of embarrassment if people actually noticed her. Somewhere along the line, perhaps after she surprised her eighth grade class by standing up to a teacher who was belittling a fellow student, she realized that she had a voice and she didn’t burst into flames when her classmates stared at her in surprise.

Not long after that, she began spinning tales, some of which got her into trouble with her mom. Whether persuading her father to take her to the candy store as a little girl or convincing her parents to let her move from Los Angeles to Manhattan to pursue a career at eighteen as a ballet dancer with only $200 in her pocket, Bonnie has proven that she knows how to tell a compelling story.


 
Twisted Book Summary:
Now she spends her time reading and making up stories for her two children at night. By day she is an English teacher who never puts the quiet girls next to the noisy boys and works hard to persuade her students that stories, whether they are the ones she teaches in class or the ones she tells to keep them from daydreaming, are better escapes than computers, phones, and social media.
An old tale tells the story of how a little man named Rumpelstiltskin spun straw into gold and tricked a desperate girl into trading away her baby. But that’s not exactly how it happened.

The real story began with a drunken father who kept throwing money away on alcohol and women, while his daughter, Aoife, ran the family farm on her own. When he gambled away everything they owned to the Duke, it was up to her to spin straw into gold to win it all back.

With her wits and the help of a magical guardian, she outsmarted the Duke and saved the day.

Well almost… Her guardian suddenly turned on Aoife and sent her on a quest to find his name, the clues to which were hidden deep in the woods, a moldy dungeon, and a dead woman’s chamber.

This is not the tale of a damsel in distress, but a tenacious, young woman who solved a mystery so great that not even the enchanted man who spun straw into gold could figure it out.

Not until Aoife came along.
Prices/Formats: $2.99 ebook, $12.99 paperback
Genre:
Fantasy, Mythological, Fairy Tale
Pages:
306
Release:
November 11, 2016
Publisher:
self-published
ISBN:
9781539753421

Amazon buy link:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N3MC1K4?&tag=tributebooks-20

Friday, January 20, 2017

Fractured by Catherine McKenzie

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Fractured', A Novel of Suspense by Catherine McKenzie. 

In the novel Fractured by Catherine McKenzie, Julie Prentice and her family find themselves moving across country to escape a stalker who has terrorized her since her novel, The Murder Game, was published. Moving to Cincinnati she and her family hope that all the danger and drama is behind them.

Yet Julie can’t seem to shake loose from the past. Everything creates fear; looks that seem askance, reactions from people that seem out of place, and even the neighbors. She finds it difficult to fit in to a neighborhood that is tight knit and has expectations about how people’s behavior. The only one she feels comfortable with is their closest neighbor, Josh Dunbar. Yet even this connection creates a frisson that sets her life and chance at happiness into another unknown direction.

Can she come to terms with her past, and set a strong, safe path for her family? Will the connection she has formed with a new stranger be the very thing that unbinds her family for good? Are the actions of their neighbors really full of good intent or has her stalker found her again?

McKenzie gives us a story of possibilities, creating a crescendo of alarm as her character begins to believe her family is in danger. She takes you into jittery concern as well as that of feelings and personalities to bring you an edge of your seat thriller.

Her characters are very real and the back biting and jealousy are true to form. The feeling of being out of control makes you uncomfortable as you you try to piece together the clues to find what is happening.

If you enjoy mysteries and family situations, this is a good book for your library. The danger is secretive and roils below the surface, making you wonder if it is real at all or just in the mind of our protagonist.


This would be a great book for a reading group or book club, one to give them a great deal of dialogue.

Rating 4/5

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Assassin's Creed: Heresy by Christie Golden

Posted First to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Assassin's Creed: Heresy', A Historical Fiction by Christie Golden.

The history of Joan of Arc has been of interest to those who pursue knowledge in the order of Templar’s as well as the actuality of a woman noted by others to be chosen as God’s warrior. In Assassin’s Creed: Heresy by Christie Golden we are taken into the past in the most interesting of ways. A machine known as the Animus has been developed and tested to help pursue historical facts. Somewhat in the technology of virtual reality, the Animus is able to simulate the past and involve its user as one of the past figures of that history as it unrolls.

Members of the Templars, as well as the Assassins, are both interested in the outcome, but Simon Hathaway, being a member of the Templar Inner Sanctum, he is also the new Head of The Historical Research Division. He is ready to use the Animus and enter the body of his own relative, Gabriel Laxart, who fought with Joan of Arc.

Little does he know just how twisted and deep the intents and interests of both the Templars and the Assassins are in the life and death of this strange and dutiful woman. He finds himself just as fascinated with Joan the woman as he is Joan the warrior as he takes on the persona of Gabriel.

What Simon does not realize is just how deep the feelings go, and how strongly he finds himself looking at the truth. There is such a small space between truth and lies, can he reconcile his own beliefs about the who is really the heretic and who is truly the believer? And can he maintain his life as part of the inner sanctum when others may not want the truth to come out? Has his research put his own life in danger as well as that of the young woman helping him in his search for truth?


Golden gives us characters from history, and she uses both fact and fiction to bring us an in-depth and dangerous look into a world that shapes consequences in the future for those whose lineage is just is mired in heresy and truth as those from the past. In a form of history repeating itself, she adds just a touch of both glory and hatred, that makes its way though in a way that connects you, holding you spellbound.


If you enjoy mystery, historical facts and figures, technology, romance, and danger, you will find this work has it all. Mesmerizing and bold, Christie Golden leaves her mark in a twisted and dark tale of courage and truth.

Rating 5/5
Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Leaving Blythe River', A Coming of Age Novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde.


Divorce is usually just as difficult on the child or children of a union as it is on the adults. In Leaving Blythe River by Catherine Ryan Hyde, we meet Ethan Underwood, a 17-year-old who has been unable to come to terms with his parents divorce. He is small for his age and afraid of almost everything. After his parents divorce he found himself in a situation of danger that left him fearful and very quiet, feeling unable to trust most situations.

He is spending time with his father in his remote cabin in the Wilderness of Blythe River, and while unable to forgive his father for the divorce, he has tried to release his fear and anger but to no avail. When his father disappears and does not return to the cabin, Ethan notifies the rangers, who begin a search.

After some research though they are convinced that his father has left on purpose, to move on to other things, after all, that was why his parents were divorced in the first place. There was always something better, just out of reach.

Once more feeling betrayed, Ethan packs up to return home. Yet something keeps nagging at him. What if he is his fathers last chance at life? What if his father is out in the wilderness hoping and waiting for rescue and no one comes? Ethan knows that he should go home, but now he is unable to move forward.

With the help of some locals, an elderly widow, a pack guide, and a limited outdoors-man, he heads into the woods. Punishing cold and weather meet them on their journey but with the help of his new friends, he finds he learns to trust his instincts. With the punishing weather, Ethan wonders if he has set himself and his new friends up for failure and untimely death.


The decision is his, and when he finely realizes that it is his search, he turns his thoughts to what matters most. And as he continues the final phase of his search, he realizes that his discovery is about more then just finding his father, but in coming to terms with his anger and forgiving his father if he can only find him.

Hyde has given us the pain encountered in the break up of families, and the coming of age of a young man who has to find a way out of his own feeling of betrayal. The characters are an eclectic mix, and each has a strength of character that is lacking in Ethan. As they move further into danger, Ethan grows, and evolves, finding a pride he never knew existed. The dangerous and heartwarming story holds you captivated as the search winds down to the conclusion.

If you enjoy tales of courage and strength, as well as romance and friendships, you will find this is where you need to be. Hyde takes you on a steamroller ride of emotion as she fleshes out a story of redemption.


This would be a great book for a reading or discussion group. It hold a great deal of debatable material.

Rating 4/5

Monday, December 12, 2016

Mercury by Margot Livesey

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Mercury,' A Novel by Margot Livesey.

Obsession, betrayal, and jealousy set the stage for Mercury by Margot Livesey. Donald and Vivian have found a life many dream of. Donald is busy in his practice of Ophthalmology but after the children are born Don gives up his surgery, focusing instead on exams and vision correction.

He moves to the countryside with his family. One of Vivian’s passions is riding yet when her children are born, she gives up the idea of a career in riding. After moving, her friend Claudia set her up to train new riders, moving her back into the field she loves. While most of her family including Donald are not big fans of horses, she needs an outlet, and riding is her love.

Mercury, belongs to the mother of one of her worst students. Mercury is a 5-year old Thoroughbred and the owner wants to board him at Wendy Hill, Viv’s place of work. The animal had belonged to the new owner’s brother and she had no where to keep him. She agreed for Vivian to ride and keep Mercury exercised, but even from the beginning, she seemed jealous of the animal, relating some of the stories her brother told her, as he declined in health.

He worried constantly about the horse, and often felt someone was following him, and even riding the animal without permission. He began to act in secretive ways, and he changed, leaving his family to worry endlessly. For Hilary, his new owner, Mercury spelled trouble, but was also a connection to the past and the brother she loved.
Vivian could see the merits of Mercury and didn’t really believe that anyone else could make him as successful as she herself could. What began as a love of a gorgeous and talented horse, became more. She found herself constantly checking up on him, she was ignoring her other chores and the other animals she cared for began to suffer. When it was brought to her attention, she realized that she had allowed herself to become obsessed, and backed herself and her emotions down, spending more time to take care of the other horses, and work harder on training her students.

Yet somehow Mercury had gotten into her soul, and she can’t stop obsessing. Hilary and Claudia are both concerned as Vivian continues to worry. Much like Hilary’s brother she began to feel that someone was trying to harm Mercury. In her concern she decides that she must act on her own. No one else understands the danger.

As Vivian’s obsession explodes, she researches and finds a gun, for protection. Lying to her family and her friends she set traps for an intruder hoping she can she find the answers before it is too late? Why can no one understand her fears? Will she go too far in her search for truth?

Livesey takes you deep into the darkness of obsession, and gives us a glimpse of what can occur. Her characters are an eclectic mix, and as they are drawn together into a tangled group, creating friendships and relationships, not one of them sees the undercurrent of danger that will pull them in.
They each are very likable, and you find yourself wondering why there seems to be such an energy around this mysterious horse. Yet you too begin to wonder, is there truly something amiss? Will anyone’s life ever be the same?

If you enjoy mystery you will find this work remarkable. If you are interested in horses, and the interaction of people, this is a find that will satisfy your craving. But be prepared to be surprised, for Livesey takes you on a journey of twisting and winding happenings, where you begin question your own thoughts.

This would be a great book for a reading group or book club.

Rating 3/5