Saturday, August 16, 2014

Ballroom by Alice Simpson

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review:'Ballroom' by Alice Simpson.

From the beginning, dance has been a part of life, a universal language of joy, communication, celebration and even war across all cultures. The beauty of form and movement is mesmerizing. The intricacy of thought involved is second to none. It is no surprise that there are so many forms available.
Ballroom by Alice Simpson takes us into the hearts and mind of those who find this particular brand of dancing near and dear to their own hearts. The differing forms of Ballroom dancing give a broad perspective of movement that is both energetic and symmetric. The skill involved is laid out in detail as we follow the lives of a cross sampling of characters that are addicted to the dance.
Simpson has created a work of drudgery and beauty. The characters are an array of backgrounds and ages and yet the dance creates a way to close the gap of differences. Ballroom dancing is also about the clothing as well as the shoes and we are treated to a passion of brilliance as we strive to understand the draw. With center players such as Maria Rodriguez a young woman, smitten since a very young age, and Harry Korn and elderly man involved in dance also from a young age, you follow a glittering and eclectic group of characters from venue to venue as they try to perfect their steps.
There are layers of stories created for each character that tie them together. Ribbons of romance and despair thread their ways through the book and lives of those who escape the daily grind to find the beauty of symmetry and discipline involved in becoming the very best. Many find themselves looking for partners among the players, not just for dance but for life. In some cases the desperation seems so sad, and tragic, but with the slow decline of the dance venues available, they return time and again just to be around the music.
IF you enjoy music and dance, and are intrigued by people and their behaviors you will find this work to be immensely satisfying. If you enjoy romance and energy twisted with human nature and tragedy this will be a great book for your library.
Rating 3\5
This work was received free from the publishing company. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Entwined by Heather Dixon

Posted First to Blog Critics as Book Review:'Entwined' by Heather Dixon.

The bonds of love are sometimes strained by outside forces. Misunderstandings and even death can destroy the bod as though it never existed.
In Entwined by Heather Dixon you embark on a journey of magic, danger, evil and romance. When Princess Azalea loses much of what she holds most dear, she and her younger sisters turn to the one thing that makes the happy–dancing.  Yet this holds heartache as well for they are forbidden by their father the King, for they are in mourning.
Always young rascals, they find a place of magic and beauty hidden deep within the palace where they can dance away their nights, with no danger of being caught and punished. Little do they understand the danger they have invited into their lives. When evil comes to call they are unprepared for the destruction or danger, not only for themselves but to all that they now hold dear.
Dixon has given us a fairy tale with fun and exciting characters. Each of the young men who are looking to wed the princess is amusing and in some cases just silly. Even with such faults there is also strength and humor involved.
The Princess Azalea and her younger sisters are fun and just a little too bold, for their daring takes them into the darkness in a dangerous way. Yet that boldness is also their salvation.
This is a wonderful Young Adult fairy tale with romance, adventure, danger and family. Your will find yourself entranced the beauty, saddened by the circumstances and appalled by the danger.  What also creates a soft rumble throughout the tale is a ribbon of love and romance that grows and evolves.  You will want to keep reading to the very end to see how the young women extricate themselves from the dilemma.
This would be wonderful book for your young adult or teen if they enjoy books. Adults will find this a satisfying read as well for there are numerous qualities that cast interest for readers of all ages. 

Rating 4/5

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Fault in our Stars by John Green

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review:'The Fault in our Stars' by John Green.

Cancer is such a dreadful disease, indiscriminate in its choice of victim, choosing with aplomb regardless of age, gender or status.  There are a myriad of stories behind the tragedy and many of them remain untold.
In The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, he builds a story out of darkness and despair.  He takes the tragedy of cancer and immerses us in the lives of characters that could very well be real. Many know of the heartaches in dealing with those who fight the fight, and many of those scars last a lifetime.  He brings his story in the form of a teen girl, Hazel Lancaster.  Stricken with cancer from a young age, she believes she has come to terms with what her life has become. Then she meets a young man, Augustus Waters, a survivor of cancer. He is drawn to her in a way that is initially uncomfortable, and as she tries to push him away in her sarcastic vein, he finds her to be exactly the type of girl he has been looking for.  Throughout the story there is a beauty and humor, a ‘candle in the wind’ for each of those whose lives have been touched by such an uncaring disease. For cancer touches not just the victim but all those who love and are in anyway touched by them.
Be prepared for a story of romance and anger, excitement and humor, and friendship and bravery for that is the direction we are led as Green develops the personality of a group of teens that have the courage to bring both laughter and tears.  The story’s that encircle each individual gives you a glimpse of the character and daring as well as the abiding hope.  Hidden within that strength they also hide the depression and hopelessness as they try hard to protect their family and friends by showing only the smiles and strength whenever possible.
Written so beautifully your heart and emotions melt, you come to be a part of this group as well as their families, their triumphs and their losses. The friendships as well as the depths the families go through preparing for the worst while holding out hope is like a beacon of light.
The courage and humor, the energy and despair all keep you on a roller coaster of emotion.  Green takes you on a journey both terrible and beautiful.
While a difficult book to categorize I found it to be one of the most important finds of the last few years. Green shines a light on cancer in a way that sends a tremor of intent awareness, an incandescent monument to those that have both won and lost the fight, as well as the damage done to those closest.  The story blasts away the veil of secrecy and hooks you from the very beginning.    
Rating 5/5

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Hidden Child by Camilla Lackberg

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review:'The Hidden Child' by Camilla Lackberg.

As time moves forward the past is just that. The Past! Yet at times the events of the past create a pattern of behavior moving forward that can create chaos in otherwise ordinary lives. The adage of ‘the sins of the fathers’ seems very adroit.
In the Hidden Child by Camilla Lackberg we are introduced to crime writer Erica Falck. Returning to her field of work after the birth of her child she finds a strange Nazi medal among her mother’s personal effects. As a child she always found her mother to be elusive, unable to give love. The medal draws hers curiosity like no other, and she decides to investigate the meaning.
Meanwhile her husband Patric, a police investigator is on paternity leave from his own job taking care of their young daughter in an effort to help Erica get back to her tasks. Patic finds himself embroiled in a murder investigation even as he continues his leave, uncomfortable at missing out on an egregious murder that has happened.  Knowing the Erica will take issue with him taking the baby to the station he initially does not let her know that he has been doing some consulting on the side.
Their paths collide when she finds that the man she took the medal too, one of her mother’s oldest friends has been murdered, and that her husband is involved in the investigation. Suddenly a quest to answer a personal question becomes dark and dangerous.  Can digging for the truth of her past put the life of her own family into peril?
Lackberg has taken us into history in a way that is both haunting and persuasive. Her characters are interesting and hold a fascination that keeps pulling you forward.  The entry of their daughter Maja to the story gives you another layer of both charm and concern. In a strange way the connection of the past circles back creating a feeling of understanding.
Her history takes you to a time when Nazi Germany was in full swing, and gives you a possible insight to how the events of such magnitude could shape the lives of those born way past. Even the joys of the past can bring about a hardship when tragedy occurs.  Yet the vault of secrets from the past must often be opened to bring about healing, and it is here that Lackberg has set the stage.  Just when you think you understand, think again, the direction ricochets.
If you enjoy history, romance, suspense and danger then you will find this work an incredible book to add to your library. The amount of backstory would be great for both a reading group as well as discussion group. As theories abound, the discussion would unfold in many directions.  
Rating 4\5
This book was received free from the authors publicist. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Under A Silent Moon by Elizabeth Haynes

Posted first to Blog Critics As Book Review:'Under A Silent Moon' by Elizabeth Haynes.

Things are not always what they seem. Even the most obvious of answers can be the wrong one. Digging a little deeper will bring the truth to light, often a truth more complicated than expected.
In under a Silent Moon by Elizabeth Haynes, we are introduced to DCI Louisa Smith and her team of officers. Called in to investigate two deaths on neighboring farms, she is immediately intrigued. The death of the young woman in her cottage is obviously murder. That is where she determines most of her skills will play. The other death appears to be a suicide. A car with a woman’s body is found at the bottom of a quarry. As Smith and her team dive into the investigation a thin line appears, seeming to link the two deaths. Suddenly the answer is no longer the one imagined.
Haynes has given us an investigator full of intelligence and spice. She is gritty and witty as well as well versed in the art of investigation. As she and her team begin to unravel the clues you will be drawn to many of the characters, yet appalled at the others. There is an amazing amount of realism making the story seem real.
Haynes uses her experience as a police analyst to give us fiction at its best. The evidentiary elements as well as the dip into the darker side of life are a part of the parcel of interesting sidelines that engender a realistic and brutal scene with red herrings at every turn.
 Smith must use her smarts to get to the very depth of depravity and at the same time weather the challenges of being a woman in her field.  Can she find the real killer and hold them responsible for the horrific deed?
If you enjoy mystery and investigation as well as the secret lives of those around you, you will find this to be a great summer read. The story is fantastic and the mystery keeps you guessing to the very end. This would be a great book for a reading group as well as just a great read for those lazy days of summer.
Rating 3\5
This book was received free from the publishing company. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the information.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Free To Fall by Lauren Miller

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review:'Free To Fall' by Lauren Miller.

Every year new discoveries continue to improve the electronics we are beginning to rely on. In particular, cell phones are one of those items that are becoming more difficult to do without. From keeping in touch, entertainment, business, emergencies and directions, many are looking for apps to help enhance their full enjoyment and further enhance the capabilities of this phenom.
Lauren Miller has taken us one step further to reliance in her novel Free To Fall. She has taken liberty and introduced an app that helps to make sure you never need to make decisions on your own, and never make a wrong choice. This is a world where technology does the unthinkable. Everyone is using the app called LUX.  They no longer need to be worried about decisions and the aftermath. They only have to find entertainment and go out and enjoy their lives, no more problems. LUX does it all, and life is for enjoyment.
Yet Rory Vaughn does not feel so comfortable. She is smart but very introverted. She feels out of place but cannot figure out why. When Rory (who loves using LUX) is accepted into Theden, her dream school, she is shocked to find out that her mother who died at her birth had also been selected as a student there in the past. But for some reason she dropped out just before graduation.
This school only selects the best and brightest stars among students. The students are strong willed and highly gifted. Rory begins to settle in, but still struggles a bit with her differences. When she meets a kindred soul at the local coffee shop her life begins to careen out of control. Suddenly things become strangely mysterious and deadly. She is falling for a guy that may be part of the problem or part of the secret of the school. Something is happening, and she is beginning to find out more about her mother as she tries to lock into the issues. Someone seems determined to help her find the answers anonymously, and yet the answers seem to drum up danger and madness. She must find the secret to her mother’s past before it is too late.
Miller has given us a technological marvel. The app is a wonderful idea and has taken the world by storm. Everyone’s life seems just a bit better. But is it really? There is something just a bit creepy about the users, an almost Stepford wives sort of reaction. Everything and everyone is so much the same, and yet there is still that depth of will that makes them who they are, either nice or evil.
The characters are amazing and Miller takes the time to develop them fully. But be prepared because just when you begin to understand what is going on, you are taken in a different direction. Not everything or everyone is as they seem, and as the plot develops you are taken on a journey.
If you enjoy technology, nerds, and adventure with a dose of mystery and danger you will find this to be just the work. It would make a great addition to your young adult’s library.   
Rating 4/5

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Heiresses by Sara Shepard

Posted first on Blog Critics as Book Review:'The Heiresses' by Sara Shepard.
When money is no object one has to wonder about the lives beneath the wealth. Are those with money anything like the rest of us, or is all golden.

In The Heiresses by Sara Shepard, you may find a few of those thoughts and questions answered. Problems plague all classes of individuals, and at times the money just makes it worse.  The Saybrooks are well known on their scene, in the papers, with the gossip columnists and throughout the diamond industry. To own a Saybrook Diamond is a dream for many. Yet there is also a curse that comes with the name. Many seem to die in mysterious fashion, creating a strange aura of tragedy that seems to hover with them.

The rumor only gains more credibility when Poppy, one of the most popular and understanding of them seems to throw herself from her window.  Her family members wonder what could be so terrible to cause such a wonderful woman to make such a decision. That is until her cousins receive an incredulous threat: ‘One Heiress down, four to go.’

The remaining heiresses, Corinne, Rowan, Aster and Natasha are all suddenly plagued with sadness and loss tempered with fear.  Who is ready to destroy this illustrious family?  Each of these women is not sure who to trust in their circle of friends, including each other. What has created this threat and how can they counter in an effort to save their lives. Is money and diamonds at the root, or are there hidden jealousies within the family itself.

Shepard has given us a stark look at the lives of a group of woman of means. Yet their money cannot protect them, and may actually be their undoing. Each character has traits that you find yourself relating too, yet each is also a bit shallow. Even with danger and mystery, there is humor and fun, but the danger threads throughout the backstory bringing that burning question. What is causing the deaths of so many, and how can they fight an imaginary foe. Is the curse truly the answer, or is there a deeper and darker mystery at work. Shepard takes us there while giving us characters that revel in the controversy and gossip surrounding them.

If you enjoyed Pretty Little Liars and The Lying Game you will find this to be another book of worth. This is a wonderful mystery with and the ups and downs of being in the center of attention. This will find a place on the shelves next to the other works by this author, and if you are new to her writing you will find yourself looking for more.
Rating 4/5