Friday, April 28, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: VOICES FROM CHERNOBYL by Svetlana Alexievich

*  Book Review:  Killing Jesus by Bill O'Reilly
*  Book Review:  Micro by Michael Crichton
*  99 Cent E-books! - Limited Time!
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VOICES FROM CHERNOBYL: THE ORAL HISTORY OF A NUCLEAR DISASTER
Svetlana Alexievich
Picador/St. Martin's Press
Translated from Russian by Keith Gessen

Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award

On April 26, 1986, the worst nuclear reactor accident in history occurred in Chernobyl and contaminated as much as three quarters of Europe. Voices from Chernobyl is the first book to present personal accounts of the tragedy. Journalist Svetlana Alexievich interviewed hundreds of people affected by the meltdown---from innocent citizens to firefighters to those called in to clean up the disaster---and their stories reveal the fear, anger, and uncertainty with which they still live. Comprised of interviews in monologue form, Voices from Chernobyl is a crucially important work, unforgettable in its emotional power and honesty.

MY REVIEW:

I selected Voices from Chernobyl for my book club, which is reading award-winning books. The author, Svetlana Alexievich, was awarded the Nobel Prize last year for her body of work. This particular volume is a collection of first hand accounts by survivors of the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, when a nuclear reactor in Belarus, Russia blew up and spread radioactive particles throughout the region and the world.

Perhaps in my American over-exposed-to-media-violence brain, I was expecting more specific details about the physical affects of the event: gruesome deaths of those sent to clean up the site, deformed babies, etc. There is a little of that, very little, but most of the stories of these people describe their impressions of the event itself: the odd color of the fire, the chaos of evacuation, the fear and lies that surrounded the "Chernobylites". More importantly, these narratives reveal the inner-workings of the Soviet mindset, the trust of the people in their government, the distrust in the scientific community, the "we" versus the "I" mentality--concepts that are so alien to the American way of thinking. This book also exposes how this absolute loyalty to the communist party began to dissolve, greatly in part to the truth behind Chernobyl. It's a history among histories, the story of the beginning of an end.

While Voices from Chernobyl is not the easiest book to get through (many of the narratives are repetitive of each other), it is an important contemporary historical document, and reading it left me with a pit in my stomach and so many questions. I wanted to know more, so much more. And isn't that what good historical literature should do, compel us to seek out answers to the questions that are left unanswered?



CONTENT RATING:

Profanity: High
Violence: Mild
Sexuality: Mild







Friday, April 21, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: BONE GAP by Laura Ruby

*  Book Review:  Killing Jesus by Bill O'Reilly
*  Book Review:  Micro by Michael Crichton
*  99 Cent E-books! - Limited Time!

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BONE GAP
Laura Ruby
HarperCollins
Ages 14 - 17

“With rich characters, captivating world building, and a stunning secret at its heart, BONE GAP is utterly bewitching.” - ALA Booklist (starred review)

Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps.

So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. But Finn knows what really happened to Roza. He knows she was kidnapped by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember.

As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap, acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a tale of the ways in which the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.

MY REVIEW:

Bewitching is a good word to describe Laura Ruby's Bone Gap. From the opening page, I couldn't put it down. The characters are mesmerizing and so real, they could honestly be living right next door. It wasn't until half way through the novel that I realized this is actually a fantasy novel, though that word doesn't quite do it justice. Magical. Mystical. Bone Gap is a nod to the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, borrowing it's the underpinnings of its story from Orpheus's attempt to rescue his beloved from the Underworld. Of course, while Bone Gap cleverly weaves in elements from Virgil's myth, it also succeeds in creating a world and dual love story that is both unique and memorable.

If I have to complain about anything, it would be these two things. First, I disapprove of ANY sex between minors in books, especially books written for teens. I believe it is irresponsible of authors to mislead teenagers into thinking sex has no emotional or physical consequences, that it's all about love. This book has teen sex painted as an expression of heartfelt, sincere love with no consideration to the fact that in real life, pregnancy, disease, shame, and heartbreak are often the result.

Second, without giving anything away, the final conflict between the hero and the villain happened too fast, the rescue too easy. Not bad, but there could have been more. Much more.

Other than that, Bone Gap is a great read.



CONTENT RATING:

Profanity: Mild
Sexuality: High (not graphic, but sex between minors does occur)
Violence: Moderate





Thursday, April 20, 2017

WINNER OF THE $25 AMAZON GIFT CARD ANNOUNCED!

Congratulations to RACHEL for winning my PETALS LAUNCH $25 AMAZON GIFT CARD GIVEAWAY!

The contest officially ended on April 18th, my dad's birthday. Here he is:



My dad, Ray White, just turned 72. He has honestly been the best father a girl could ever ask for. While I was growing up, my dad never raised his voice at me or my mother. He was kind and patient, forgiving, affectionate, and attentive. I always knew I could talk to my dad about anything. In the 1970s he and my mother built a 2400 sq. ft. log home with their own hands.

Dad spent 40 years as a computer programmer and worked for Bank of America, Global Marine, and finally Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he helped program deep space probes like the Galileo.

Dad has always been a devout Christian. Jesus Christ is the most important person in Dad's life. The next most important person is my mom. Mom became a Type I Diabetic in 1975 and her health has been precarious ever since. But because of my Dad's constant vigilance and love for her, she's had a wonderful life and has been as healthy as a diabetic can be. He takes such good care of her, and has been supportive of everything she's done throughout her life, all her business ventures and traveling and hobbies.

Dad is a storyteller. His stories inspired me to become a writer. He also loves his sixteen grandchildren with fierce devotion. He has tutored all my children in math and will drive them anywhere they need to go at the drop of a hat, even when my little boy, Jarett, asks him to take him across town to the coin store.

I've known many men in my life, but Dad is the greatest of them all. I always tell my sons, "Follow Grandpa's example. Be like Grandpa," because he is the epitome of a what a good Christian, husband, and father should be.

I love you, Dad.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

COVER REVEAL: KEEPER OF SOULS by Casey L. Bond

Title: Keeper of Souls
Author: Casey Bond
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Horror
Cover Designer: Regina Wamba at Mae I Design & Photography
Editor: Stacy Sanford, The Girl with the Red Pen
Expected Release Date: May 19th, 2017
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

Carmen Kennedy finally feels normal. Enrolled in college, she’s making a few friends and taking life one day at a time. Her days are filled with classes, studying, and attempting to be more social, while her nights are filled with terrifying dreams. All of her nightmares have one thing in common: him. She can’t see his face, but a flash of dark feathers is all it takes to remind her of The Keeper of Crows. He isn’t supposed to be real.

There is a world that exists beneath the fabric of our own, a torturous place filled with despair. The Keeper is there; Carmen just has to find out why and if there is a way to help him leave that place. Her sanity and life will be threatened, but she can’t ignore his screams any longer.

When love exists, it doesn’t matter the distance. It finds a way to remind you.
Will love be enough to save Michael and Carmen when The Keeper of Souls stands in their way?
Award-winning author Casey L. Bond resides in Milton, West Virginia with her husband and their two beautiful daughters. When she’s not busy being a domestic goddess and chasing her baby girls, she loves to write young adult and new adult fiction. You can find more information about Bond’s books via the following links: 
Buy Link: Keeper of Crows: http://amzn.to/2n1dkFH

Monday, April 17, 2017

COVER REVEAL: THE BATTLE FOR EARTH by AJ & CS Sparber

Title: The Battle for Earth  
Author: AJ & CS Sparber
Genre: YA/NA Paranormal Fantasy
Cover Designer: Regina Wamba at Mae I Design & Photography
Publisher: Mind’s Eye Press
Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR

The Jacuzzi tub is not quite up to Olympian standards, but the hot, churning water feels amazing. In a way, the turbulence reminds me of what my life has become. In little more than a year, I’ve gone from being a high school senior to an angel—a member of the angelic royal family, to be precise.

My transformation has brought with it a fair share of adventures—I killed a fallen angel. I healed my best friend from what would have been a fatal knife wound, turning her into an angel in the process. I fell in love with a Warrior angel, blissfully committing myself to him in a traditional angelic binding, only to see him nearly killed the very next day. Then I healed him—triggering a genetic change that made us the most powerful angels in existence. We are like two halves of a raging star. We are the most lethal creatures ever to walk the mortal worlds. We can fly like eagles, bend light to our will, and fill the sky with terrifying bolts of lightning. We hold the power of Thor’s hammer in our hands. We are the wrath of God. And it’s a good thing we are because fallen angels have declared war.

When it comes to being a husband and wife (or wife and husband) writing team, there are advantages, or benefits. Chief among them is that you get to practice the love scenes. He writes, she steers, and…well, it’s fun. He is a software designer and she is a doctor of education. AJ and CS Sparber live in the lovely town of Hudson, Ohio, with their son Ryan, their daughter Melanie, and the spirit of an Aussie shepherd named Hunter.

Author Links:

Buy Links: Ariel Rising: http://amzn.to/1VWMKut
Chapter 12
Ari is Captured for the second time.

“There is nothing the Irish love more than a good story. But this…this tops them all,” Fiona says, as she pours me a second cup of coffee. Freshly showered and dressed comfortably in a halter top over spandex running pants, I scan my surroundings. The kitchen is small, but comfortable, and we’re still invisible behind a staged loop of security footage. I can’t help smiling at her enthusiasm, but its’s a bittersweet smile, because it’s nearly two in the morning, which means I get to play with Angela in about seven hours. “I’m not sure if I’ll be able to fight through the pain.”

Fiona leans forward, resting her elbows on the table. “I wish I could get you out of here tonight, but we need to take care of the implant. For our escape to succeed, you need to be at full strength.”

My patience is wearing thin. What if Fiona can’t get a remote? What if she can’t sneak a surgeon into my chambers? “How long before the security system comes back on?”
Fiona gives me a puzzled look. “I’m not sure. Any time between now and five o’clock. We’ll get a ten-minute heads up. Why do you ask?”

“I’m going to try to access my abilities.”

Fiona shakes her head vigorously. “That’s not a good idea, Ari.”

She’s probably right. I stand, crossing my arms over my chest. “So, are you going to help me or do I do this alone?”

“Ari, please…”

“I have to try.”

“You are one very headstrong angel,” she says with a smirk.

Sitting on the toilet lid, I stare at a small plastic wastebasket across the room. My objective is to knock it over without touching it, and in order to do that, I’ll need to use the Essence—which is going to trigger the implant, causing me a world of pain.

“You'll never plow a field by turning it over in your mind,” Fiona says, with a smirk.

“Ha. You have no idea how much pain Angela’s little gizmo puts out. Now, quiet…I need to concentrate.”

Redoubling my efforts, I hyper focus on the basket. Breathe. I feel the familiar rush as the Essence collects in my cells, filling me with a pulsing energy—a force that begs to be released. But there is resistance. Something is impeding the outward flow, I think, as a wave of pain builds inside me. Thrusting a washcloth into my mouth, I bite down hard. A muffled roar rumbles from deep inside me as the pain intensifies. Fiona moves into my line of sight, her face twisted in panic. “Let it go, Ari! Release it…”

“Too much energy…MOVE” I shout, because I know it’s going to be bad. Really bad.

I release the beast inside me, because it can no longer be contained. Time slows down and I’m nothing more than a helpless observer, watching as the basket I’d been so intently focused on begins to vibrate. No, it’s not the basket…it’s the entire room. I scan my surroundings, trying to find Fiona, but a roiling cloud of debris obscures my vision. I made a hurriquake, I think, which causes me to giggle…and then an overwhelming sense of relief washes over me, because the pain is gone...and so is Fiona.

“Run, Ari!”

Fiona? I didn’t kill her!

I slowly rise to my feet, hanging onto the sink for support. Fiona is sitting, propped up against the far wall of the main room, pointing furiously behind me. I turn. People are jogging up the hall, past still bodies, toward me. I can see them because the wall is gone. What the…

A strong hand grips my arm and I pivot to break the vice-like grip, but I have no strength left. 
“Stay still or this will really hurt,” a chillingly familiar voice says.

“No!” I hear Fiona shout, but she’s being restrained by two huge angels. “Don’t hurt her!”

Before I can react or respond, a sharp prick causes me to flinch, as a needle enters the tender skin at the base of my neck.

“Goodnight, princess,” Eloy says with an evil chuckle.

5 STAR REVIEWS OF PETALS!

Reviews for PETALS are starting to come in. I want to thank the blog Just Olga and Her Books for her amazing 5 star review! Here's a quote from the review:

"In summary, this is an excellent YA book, well written, with beautiful description of places, people and emotions, exploring issues of identity, survivor’s guilt, grief and death, mixed marriages and families, the role of tradition and culture, with an engaging and sympathetic main character and a good cast of secondary ones. This is a clean book with some Christian religious content and questions although that is not the emphasis of the book. It will appeal not only to readers of YA books but to anybody who enjoys well-written first-person narratives, exploring mixed family relationships, identity and grief, set in a wonderful location."

Read Olga's full review HERE.

Another 5 star review was posted by The Ordinary Housewife:

"If your looking for a young adult book with love and suspense that is written so well that you can feel the emotion bouncing out of the book. I loved reading about Guatemala and the culture and I think that really helped make the book even more wonderful than it already was. The chemistry between Miguel and Carly was amazing and it kept me reading late into the night."

Read full review HERE

And finally, a couple of 5 star Amazon reviews:

"I loved petals! It put me on the edge of my seat nearly the entire time. I loved the mystery and the romance. Definitely one of my favorites!"
 
"I enjoyed this book and finished it in one reading."
 
These reviews made my day!

Buy Petals HERE.

Friday, April 14, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: KILLING JESUS by Bill O'Reilly

KILLING JESUS
Bill O'Reilly & Martin Dugard
Holt, Henry & Co.
Audio Book



Millions of readers have thrilled to bestselling authors Bill O'Reilly and historian Martin Dugard's Killing Kennedy and Killing Lincoln, page-turning works of nonfiction that have changed the way we read history.

Now the anchor of The O'Reilly Factor details the events leading up to the murder of the most influential man in history: Jesus of Nazareth. Nearly two thousand years after this beloved and controversial young revolutionary was brutally killed by Roman soldiers, more than 2.2 billion human beings attempt to follow his teachings and believe he is God. Killing Jesus will take readers inside Jesus's life, recounting the seismic political and historical events that made his death inevitable - and changed the world forever.

MY REVIEW:

O'Reilly has written a series of books like this, Killing Lincoln, Killing Kennedy, Killing Reagan. I haven't read the others yet, so I was expecting some unique insights into the death of Jesus, something I didn't know already. While Killing Jesus is an evocative narrative of the life and death of the most famous man in history, it was little more than that--his story. O'Reilly does delve into historical details of the Roman and Jewish leaders who were involved, including Herod, Ciaphas, and Pontias Pilate, as well as some who were only barely connected, like Ceasar and Tiberius. I am certain O'Reilly and Dugard did their homework, but there was nothing here I didn't already know from reading the Bible and from my basic knowledge of Ancient Roman history. Also, some of their details (such as claiming Mary Magdelene was a prostitute) are clearly taken from common assumption than from expert Biblical resources.

If you're looking for a contemporary re-telling of Jesus' life, then O'Reilly's is an excellent choice. The narrative is modern and provides plenty of description to pique a reader's interest. For someone not already familiar with the New Testament, this would be a good introduction to it. However, for those who are devout in the faith, as I am, this book may leave you feeling disappointed. I was honestly expecting more, especially about why and how the death of Jesus affected the world the way it has.

O'Reilly does add some information at the end about Jesus's twelve apostles and their eventual fates, which was interesting, but again, while not mentioned in the Bible, most Christians are already familiar with these stories. So I have to say that the book would be more valuable for someone unfamiliar or at least not well-versed with the history of Christ. Otherwise, for me, it was just another Jesus story.