Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Revival by Stephen King... A Review

I cringed... I was hesitant, I was apprehensive, I was frightened when I cracked the spine of Revival... Not because I was scared of the book, but scared that I would be, yet again, disappointed in another "recent" Stephen King novel... BUT I wasn't! I kept reading and kept waiting for the story to fall off the edge and disappear down some secret hidden doorway in the book, but instead I was just on the edge of my seat experiencing the thrill of Stephen King.. the old Stephen King I loved as a young teenager while reading The Shining.

Revival is just that - classic Stephen King horror that innocently starts off on a warm summer day and transforms into nail biting blizzard of terror!

In a small rural town in Maine, the new preacher comes to town. He's young, charismatic, handsome with a beautiful perfect wife and a small cute son. All the boys are in love with the beautiful wife, and all the girls in love with the Reverend Charles Jacobs, a man with an obsessive interest in the power of electricity. Jamie Morton was 6 years old at the time and begins a life long relationship with the Reverend Frankenstein... I mean Jacobs. In the Church youth group, Jacobs teaches the children about God through the power of electricity, where God is infinite, so is the power of electricity. Find the secret to electricity and also find the power of God. Now, the Reverend's theories and interest in electricity seem innocent enough, but when a horrible accident takes his beautiful wife and son from him, the Reverend goes off the deep end and interest turns to obsession.

The story revolves around the reincarnations of the Reverend Jacobs, from a small town preacher to a carnival sideshow huckster, to a faith healer, to mad scientist, with Jamie innocently witnessing these transformations as he navigates his own life over the years. And like a bad penny, Reverend Jacobs keeps popping up in Jamies' life, sometimes in a good way, sometimes bad, but always as though there is this invisible thread that binds the two together. And the ending?! OMG! It's unsettling to say the least, but pure horror at its best.

King's writing is great! The story has great characters that are so well developed. You understand these characters, heck they don't even feel like characters, they feel more like people that you know! And then you start to feel vested in what is happening. Then there is the plot, which is just spot on, especially the way it develops over the course of the book. There are so many great elements in this book (great storytelling, the supernatural, the questioning of man's faith and even a bit of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein) that will capture and keep the reader's attention.

I really enjoyed this book! I felt a whole range of emotions as I got lost in the pages - nostalgia, remorse, butterflies, and ultimately horror. Best King I've read in a long, long time. AND best horror story I've read in a long time too. Definitely put this on your TBR list and for any horror fans out there, this would make a great Christmas gift!

This was part of my library loot this month, but I may have to pick up a copy to put on the shelves, so I can reread this sometime!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Mailbox Monday

Welcome to Mailbox Monday! It's a weekly event for bloggers to share what books arrived in their mailboxes. Mailbox Monday was originally created by Marcia of To Be Continued and is now hosted by Vicki, Serena and Leslie at Mailbox Monday's own blog.

It's been a wonderful week in my mailbox! An unemployed art historian arrived, along with a hero reporter, a police procedural with international danger, a woman who was wondering if you can find love twice in a lifetime and to top it all off there was a Predator Drone was circling inside my mailbox too! Here's a little more about what came in...

And The Dark Sacred Night by Julia Glass... Kit Noonan is an unemployed art historian with twins to help support and a mortgage to pay—and a wife frustrated by his inertia. Raised by a strong-willed, secretive single mother, Kit has never known the identity of his father—a mystery that his wife insists he must solve to move forward with his life. Out of desperation, Kit goes to the mountain retreat of his mother’s former husband, Jasper, a take-no-prisoners outdoorsman. There, in the midst of a fierce blizzard, Kit and Jasper confront memories of the bittersweet decade when their families were joined. Reluctantly breaking a long-ago promise, Jasper connects Kit with Lucinda and Zeke Burns, who know the answer he’s looking for. Readers of Glass’s first novel, Three Junes, will recognize Lucinda as the mother of Malachy, the music critic who died of AIDS. In fact, to fully understand the secrets surrounding his paternity, Kit will travel farther still, meeting Fenno McLeod, now in his late fifties, and Fenno’s longtime companion, the gregarious Walter Kinderman. 

I'm very excited to receive this book! From the author of Three Junes, which I had enjoyed, comes this new story that welcomes back some familiar faces. Published by Anchor Books, a division of Penguin Random House, and was published earlier this year in April.

Last Words by Rich Zahradnik... In March of 1975, as New York City hurtles toward bankruptcy and the Bronx burns, newsman Coleridge Taylor roams police precincts and ERs. He is looking for the story that will deliver him from obits, his place of exile at the Messenger-Telegram. Ever since he was demoted from the police beat for inventing sources, the 34-year-old has been a lost soul. A break comes at Bellevue, where Taylor views the body of a homeless teen picked up in the Meatpacking District. Taylor smells a rat: the dead boy looks too clean, and he’s wearing a distinctive Army field jacket. A little digging reveals that the jacket belonged to a hobo named Mark Voichek and that the teen was a spoiled society kid up to no good, the son of a city official. Taylor’s efforts to protect Voichek put him on the hit list of three goons who are willing to kill any number of street people to cover tracks that just might lead to City Hall. Taylor has only one ally in the newsroom, young and lovely reporter Laura Wheeler. Time is not on his side. If he doesn't wrap this story up soon, he’ll be back on the obits page—as a headline, not a byline. Last Words is the first book in the Coleridge Taylor mystery series. 

Just paging through this book and picking out bits and pieces to read, gave me the feeling that this was going to be a good read. I liked the writing and the setting. AND, I look forward to reading a police procedural, which I haven't done in a long time. Published by Camel Press, Last Words is 237 pages, which means it can make for a pleasant evenings read, and it's a Kindle bargain price right now too at $4.95.

Perfect Sins by Jo Bannister... Four years ago, Gabriel Ash was working with the British government investigating hijackings in Somalia. But when his wife and sons disappeared, presumably taken—and probably killed—by pirates, his life fell apart. He has sudden reason to hope when a senior policeman suggests that his sons might still be alive—until that policeman is murdered. Still, there seems to be some link to a local operation, and Ash, no longer a government agent, is determined to find it.

Meanwhile, his friend Hazel Best has been having a tough time of her own. A police constable whose last case ended with her shooting someone dead, she is just beginning to regain her balance. Hazel and Ash are both beginning to take more of an interest in the outside world, when a neighboring archaeologist decides to dig up a curious mound of earth near the ice house on his land. It might be a burial mound, he thinks. It is, but not the ancient one he expects; it holds the bones of a little boy from perhaps thirty years ago, carefully laid to rest with twentieth-century toys. As Hazel is slowly drawn back into police work, Ash finds himself under threat from someone who must think his investigation into his family's disappearance is finally getting somewhere...

Jo Bannister is well known for her suspense novels, mysteries and police procedurals. I'm really looking forward to cracking the spine on this one! Under 300 pages, and recently released by Minotaur Books, this should be a good one.
The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel... In this richly told story where Sliding Doors meets P.S. I Love You, Kristin Harmel weaves a heart-wrenching tale that asks: what does it take to move forward in life without forgetting the past?

After her husband’s sudden death over ten years ago, Kate Waithman never expected to be lucky enough to find another love of her life. But now she’s planning her second walk down the aisle to a perfectly nice man. So why isn’t she more excited?

At first, Kate blames her lack of sleep on stress. But when she starts seeing Patrick, her late husband, in her dreams, she begins to wonder if she’s really ready to move on. Is Patrick trying to tell her something? Attempting to navigate between dreams and reality, Kate must uncover her husband’s hidden message. Her quest leads her to a sign language class and into the New York City foster system, where she finds rewards greater than she could have imagined.

I had never heard of Kristin Harmel, but the description above piqued my interest, because I loved the movie Sliding Doors. (I'm such a romantic!) Then I opened the book to read the first few pages and fell in love! I loved the way Kristin wrote and I was beginning to love the story too! This is going to be a wonderful read, I am sure!  Published by Gallery Books and Simon & Schuster, stay tuned for my review AND for the release date, which is December 30th!

Global Predator by Jack Maclean... High above the mountains of the North West Frontier, a Global Predator circles waiting to unleash its Hellfire missiles. The trail of Osama Bin Laden’s deputy, the elusive Egyptian terror master, Ayman al-Zawahiri has gone cold until a chance recording identified by a translator at the National Security Agency offers new clues. A special intelligence team assembles and plots to catch at him at a meeting with other high ranking al Qaeda leaders. In Pakistan’s beautiful Swat Valley, the local Taliban have been stepping up their attacks on anyone educating girls. English aid worker Sally is taken hostage while visiting one of her schools. When Wilkins, escaping his reckless trading mistakes at his London bank, is forced to rescue her, he finds himself trapped in a world of blind fear and terror. Only one person can now make sense of what is happening and stop a massacre of innocent schoolgirls.

A bit different from my normal reading, but taking a peek through the book, the writing is good and I will definitely be cracking the spine to see how Jack Maclean can entice me to keep reading this politically charged thriller. This is published by Amazon and is at a Kindle bargain price of $3.03!

I am so excited to have these books come in the mail! Thank you to the generous publishers! I look forward to reading each of these and look for my reviews coming soon!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

K-9 Cop by Erna Mueller... A Review

K-9 Cop by Erna Mueller... 
What if reincarnation had a sense of humor? Or better yet, a sense of justice?... 

Justin Andrews is a smart, "smart-ass" kid, who is going to turn 14 soon, has a sister with a nose ring and pink hair, and a father who is trying to manage life and the kids without their mother. It's not working very well and to top it all off, the family was just in a serious car accident that has left Justin severly injured and depressed...

Now meet Lieutenant Spencer Watley, who, along with his canine companion Pepper, is hunting down the "Cyber Killers", until fate would intervene with mortal consequences... Spencer is killed. As Spencer ascends into what he thinks is heaven, he learns that being a good cop isn't enough to get him through the pearly gates... he needs an attitude adjustment. He needs to redeem himself. He needs to go through the Jerk Redemption Program! And to do this, not only is he sent back to earth, he's sent back as a dog... he reincarnates into his K9 companion,  Pepper. And his job assignment is Justin...

Fun, well written and a good adventure, K-9 Cop by Erna Mueller is an enjoyable read. Erna Mueller does a great job of melding the story of Justin and Spencer together and the twist of Spencer coming back as a dog is very creative. I'd almost say K-9 Cop leans towards being a "cozy", since the story really doesn't have any blood and guts, but it's really more substantial than that. Written with Young Adults in mind, this is Adult friendly too! Definitely put this one on your reading list if you like dogs, cops & robbers, or a great murder mystery!

About the Author... I was born in Austria and my family immigrated to the U.S. I loved living here as a child and considered the U.S. my home. My family returned to Austria and of course I had to tag along. I missed the friendly faces and the cultivation of the free spirit which America symbolizes. In Austria I completed my education but always wanted to return, so here I am.

I traveled the world and lived in many exciting cities such as Paris, Munich and London. I currently work as an accountant for a large pizza company in Seattle by day and passionately pursue a career as a writer in my spare time.

My new book, K-9 Cop, is adapted from my multi-national award winning screenplay.  The book has won several awards including first place in the 2009 National Good Read Competition sponsored by awomenswrite.com.

Please visit my web site at http://www.k9cop-woofwoof.com  for more reviews and other info.
For More Information
Visit Erna Mueller’s website.
Connect with Erna on Facebook and Twitter

Chick with Books is a stop on the Virtual Book Tour of K-9 Cop by Erna Mueller's hosted by Pump Up Your Book! I want to thank Pump Up Your Book who gave me a eGalley of K-9 Cop for my honest review! K-9 Cop is available right now in paperback or as a Kindle book (and the Kindle book was ONLY .99 cents when we checked it out recently!) Happy reading...

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano... a Thanksgiving Day Reading

                                         Happy Thanksgiving!

     Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano and read by Laura Irrgang of Rhinestone Armadillo:                                              http://rhinestonearmadillo.typepad.com

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Sunday Salon and Talking Turkey... Gobbler's and Good Books

Welome to the Sunday Salon!  It's that time of the week we sit back, relax and talk books! Grab a cup of joe, find a comfy chair, and let's talk... Turkey! Next week is Turkey Day, but instead of the turkey visiting us, let's talk about visiting the Turkey, or rather visiting Turkey, the country, through the pages of a good book! Here are a couple books that will whisk you away...

Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernières ... from Goodreads: Louis de Bernières creates a world, populates it with characters as real as our best friends, and launches it into the maelstrom of twentieth-century history. The setting is a small village in southwestern Anatolia in the waning years of the Ottoman Empire. Everyone there speaks Turkish, though they write it in Greek letters. It’s a place that has room for a professional blasphemer; where a brokenhearted aga finds solace in the arms of a Circassian courtesan who isn’t Circassian at all; where a beautiful Christian girl named Philothei is engaged to a Muslim boy named Ibrahim. But all of this will change when Turkey enters the modern world.

The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk... from Goodreads: “It was the happiest moment of my life, though I didn’t know it.” So begins the new novel, his first since winning the Nobel Prize, from the universally acclaimed author of Snow and My Name Is Red. It is 1975, a perfect spring in Istanbul. Kemal, scion of one of the city’s wealthiest families, is about to become engaged to Sibel, daughter of another prominent family, when he encounters Füsun, a beautiful shopgirl and a distant relation. Once the long-lost cousins violate the code of virginity, a rift begins to open between Kemal and the world of the Westernized Istanbul bourgeosie—a world, as he lovingly describes it, with opulent parties and clubs, society gossip, restaurant rituals, picnics, and mansions on the Bosphorus, infused with the melancholy of decay—until finally he breaks off his engagement to Sibel. But his resolve comes too late. For eight years Kemal will find excuses to visit another Istanbul, that of the impoverished backstreets where Füsun, her heart now hardened, lives with her parents, and where Kemal discovers the consolations of middle-class life at a dinner table in front of the television. His obsessive love will also take him to the demimonde of Istanbul film circles (where he promises to make Füsun a star), a scene of seedy bars, run-down cheap hotels, and small men with big dreams doomed to bitter failure. In his feckless pursuit, Kemal becomes a compulsive collector of objects that chronicle his lovelorn progress and his afflicted heart’s reactions: anger and impatience, remorse and humiliation, deluded hopes of recovery, and daydreams that transform Istanbul into a cityscape of signs and specters of his beloved, from whom now he can extract only meaningful glances and stolen kisses in cars, movie houses, and shadowy corners of parks. A last change to realize his dream will come to an awful end before Kemal discovers that all he finally can possess, certainly and eternally, is the museum he has created of his collection, this map of a society’s manners and mores, and of one man’s broken heart. 

This is one of those books that has been in my TBR pile for some time. This post is a nice reminder of why it's there and I should finally read it! 

AND, something for the little ones on Thanksgiving Day...

Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano... Turkey is in BIG trouble! It's almost Thanksgiving and he doesn't want to be the main course! So, what's a turkey to do?!? A disguise of course! First, he ties a brush to his head and wears a tiny saddle to look like a horse, because no one would eat a horse, right? But the barnyard animals recognize him anyway. Open the pages of this delightful picture book and follow Tom's idea's on out smarting the Farmer with these funny disguises! You're children will enjoy it and so will you! Written with 3 - 7 year olds in mind, this would be a great book to read to the little ones at Thanksgiving!

Do you enjoy reading stories set in far away countries? Have you ever read any set in Turkey? I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving!AND enjoy visiting Turkey through a good book!

Happy Reading... Suzanne

*P.S. Stop by on Thanksgiving Day and listen to a reading of Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Sunday Salon and... Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe: 3 Ways to Pick Your Next Book.

Welcome to The Sunday Salon! It's that day of the week we visit our reading friends virtually and share our thoughts on books and reading. Grab a cup of Joe and sit back and relax... Let's talk books... and mainly, how the heck do you figure out the next book you're going to read?

I'm a reader, so when I finish a book, I generally pick up another book to read. When the book I just read is totally amazing, it may take me a few days (maybe more) before I pick up another book, but eventually I'll be trying to find a book just as good. But how? Here are 4 ways to tackle that job...

Serious Reading... or Reading a Series... reading a series can be like reading a 5000 page book and if you like the writing it's a dream come true. And usually if you like the writing in the first book in the series, you'll enjoy the rest of the books.

The Dewey Decimal System is Your Friend... or being Systematic... Have a pile of books and go through them one at a time. You've bought books (how many are in your TBR shelves?) and instead of putting them aside, you read them as you buy them!(or check them out of the library). This takes discipline! But the rewards are that you won't have that HUGE TBR pile looming over you!

The More the Merrier... Reading 2 books at a time. Why do  you have to pick one book over the other?! This is like getting a sampler at the restaurant! And the good thing is, if you decide you want to stick with one over the other, you've got your next book lined up already.

Alphabet Soup... or choosing your authors or titles by their first letter. Start anywhere in the alphabet. C is for Cornwell, then choose a "D" author, etc. Or this can work with titles of books too! This is like a reading challenge all to yourself.

This week I followed "The Dewey Decimal System is Your Friend", by taking out 4 books from the library and reading them one at a time. I do like reading series, but sometimes I suffer from "series overload", depending on what I'm reading. And I have read 2 books at the same time. Alphabet Soup is something I think might be fun too!... So, what's your method of choosing your next book?

Happy reading... Suzanne

Saturday, November 15, 2014

2014 Reading Challenge Updates

Did you challenge yourself to read more this year?! It's almost the end of the year and I thought I would share some updates on the reading challenges I joined this year. How has it been going? Well, I basically started the year by picking out books to meet my challenges and then slowly forgot about books specifically for the challenge and just read books I thought I would enjoy (plus books chosen by my reading group for book club). So, as I look back at what I've read so far, 41 books as of today, here's how they all fit in…

*Done: Southern Literature Reading Challenge… I've read two book that fits into this category: Palmetto Moon by Kim Boykin, and Ruby by Cynthia Bond. Met my goal of 2 books written by an author from the South and that take place mainly in the South.

Dive Into Poetry Reading Challenge… I've read one book of poetry so far, Dog Stories by Mary Oliver, but have read plenty of poems in different books all along. I will be getting out one of my poetry books and start to enjoy a full course from one poet so I can finish this challenge. I think it will be a Billy Collins poetry book.

*Done: Graphic Novel Reading Challenge 2014… I've read 5 individual graphic novels, plus all 15 Manga books in the Battle Royale series and 7 books in the Ooku Manga series. My goal was 12 books, so I actually reached my goal.

2014 TBR Pile Reading Challenge… OMG, I haven't picked one book off that TBR pile yet! My goal was to at least read ONE book off my shelves, so I will be grabbing one of those soon!

*Done: Dystopian Reading Challenge 2014… I thought I would have read more dystopian fiction this year, but I haven't. I do consider my most recent read, Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk dystopian, so I have reached my goal with one book read.

Chunkster Reading Challenge 2014… It's all about FAT books, and I read 2 so far, Three Souls by Janie Chang (468 pages) and Under The Wide And Starry Sky by Nancy Horan (497 pages).

2014 Book Bingo Reading Challenge… 25 squares, many books, and lots of categories! The challenge is to read the books from at least one row. I have completed 2 rows! 5 Different Genre books and 15 books in a series! I am 6 new release books away from completing the New Releases column (for a total of 15 new books read). It is a lot of fun filling in the bingo squares to see what I have accomplished. Technically I'm done, but I would love to complete a few more bingo's before the end of the year.

Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge… My goal was 50 books this year, and I'm at 41! Goodreads is a great place to keep track of all the books you've read, want to read and a great place to get motivated to meet your reading challenges!

So, did you join any reading challenges or make a reading resolution? How are you doing with your reading this year?! All that really counts is that we are enjoying our time reading! Let me know how you are doing!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Boy Who Drew Monsters by Keith Donohue… A Review

OMG! What a great book! I could not put this book down! A cross between The Shining and Where The Wild Things Are…What if the monsters you imagine really do go bump in the night?!

A doomed ship wrecks off the coast of Maine over a century ago, and still the screams can be heard floating off the water… or is it just the whistling of the wind? All hands were lost at sea, some young children… do they cry for revenge? And a little boy caught in his own mind, draws the monsters in his head… or are they visions of something else?

Tim and Holly, Fred and Nell, two couples living similar lives, outsiders by long time Maine residents standards, giving birth to boys just about the same time and best of friends - the boys, Jack Peter & Nick, and the couples. J.P. and Nick grow up together, friends from the start, but then a near tragedy happens and launches J.P. into a world of his own - inside, never venturing outside, literally. A near drowning makes JP afraid to go out of the house, with only his friend Nick to pass the time with him inside. But then strange things start to happen… a bump in the night, a strange ghost like monster lurking outside, scratching at a bedroom door. And all along, Jack Peter feverishly drawing… the monsters in his head… the monsters heard in the night.

A priest, a one-eyed Japanese house servant filled with ghostly tales, and two imaginative boys whose parents think nothing of their screams in the middle of the night… until it's almost too late. What's real and what's imagined?! I was holding my breathe in spots and could feel my heart racing. This is one book filled with all that great edge of your seat tension until the very end, where a bone chilling twist  made me want to read the book all over again! If you like ghost stories or if you like horror novels, you'll love The Boy Who Drew Monsters by Keith Donohue! This is truly heart stopping in spots. The writing is solid, the story is great and the ending trumps it all! Warning… don't turn the lights out until you're finished reading this and then make sure you look under the bed first!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Happy Veterans Day, Remembrance Day and Thank You to All Who Serve and Have Served!

                                                       In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.                                   
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields. 

                                                                                                ...Written by John McCrae 

Today is Veterans Day in the United States. A day set aside to honor all those who have served our country honorably in the military - during wartime and peacetime. It is different than Memorial Day, in that it primarily is meant to honor the living and to acknowledge that they too have sacrificed for their country. Remembrance Day is what the Commonwealth of Nations celebrates and in doing so, dons the traditional red poppy on their lapel from Oct. 31 thru Nov.11th. In the United States we honor our veterans on Memorial Day with a red poppy, which had become popular due to the poem In Flanders Field by Canadian physician Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. These red poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields in Flanders. 

Thank you to all the veterans for your service, dedication and sacrifice!

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