Thursday, October 30, 2014

Jaguar Hunt (Heart of the Jaguar #3) by Terry Spear

An agent and a jaguar-shifter chase trouble, and each other, through the jungles of Belize...

Agent Tammy Anderson has a reputation: she prefers to work alone. So when she’s paired up on a mission with jaguar-shifter David Patterson—who’s only recently been released from jail—to say she’s less than thrilled is a understatement. Until she realizes that this sexy agent has what it takes…

Soon, what started as an “easy” mission to locate a missing jaguar takes the pair to Belize, where they’re chasing down two renegade teen shifters who know more than they’re telling. As the action heats up, can they keep their minds on the job and off of each other?

David is tracking two teenage shifters to recruit them to his agency. Tammy is looking for a jaguar missing from the zoo. When their missions combine they are teamed up on an adventure that leads them to Belize, and things really heat up!
David is one sexy jaguar shifter and the chemistry between him and feisty feline shifter Tammy was definitely HOT. I've never read about jaguar shifters before but now I see the error of my ways. I think it's hilarious that Tammy usually ditches her male counterparts who assume she will be a liability and solves the case without them. That's my kinda girl! It also made me really like David when he saw how much of an asset she was and how capable a strong independent female can be. I also liked that although Tammy is very capable of doing things on her own that she was not as witchy as women who like their Independence are sometimes portrayed and not opposed to David's help once he earned her respect and trust.
Jaguar Hunt is book # 3 of the Heart of the Jaguar series. Although it references characters from the other books I think it works really well as a standalone too, considering I never read the others and loved the story and never felt lost. In fact I'd really like to read the first couple books now just to delve even further into this tantalizing world of jaguar shifters.
Jaguar Hunt is intoxicating and sensual with a great storyline. I highly recommend it to fans of shifter romances with some action and suspense.
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. April

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Night Blindness: A Novel by Susan Strecker

One October night, when Jensen Reilly is sixteen, she and her high school sweetheart are involved in a horrible accident. Ever since then Jensen has been running from her past. But when Jensen's beloved father is diagnosed with a brain tumor, she returns to her childhood home and the memories of her old life came flooding back- as do the people she's tried to escape.

Set against the steamy background of a New England summer, filled with the intensity of first love, and framed by an unforgettable father-daughter relationship, Night Blindness is about risk and redemption, and the ways we are hunted down by what we try to escape.

     When I saw the title of this novel; I thought it was going to be a mystery/thriller type of story. Once I received the book and read the summary on the back cover I realized that I was wrong and I became excited; I couldn’t wait to read this book and get to know the characters. I started the book later that evening the same day I had gotten it in the mail. I read four chapters before I knew it! I immediately liked “Jensen” (main female character) I found that I had a lot in common with her and that if she was an actual person that we would’ve been friends.

    I found her to be brave and strong; she didn’t want people to feel sorry for her about anything, but at the same time she seemed fearful and kept things to herself instead of talking about things to someone else. I had mixed feelings about the main male character “Ryder” I didn’t know whether to be mad at him or to like him. I liked his character because he seemed like he still loved “Jensen”, but at the same time I felt mad at him for “Jensen’s” sake because of the way things had ended after their accident. By the end of the book I felt like I personally knew Jensen and her father and I felt like I had been the one to lose someone I loved instead of the character.

     I loved the way Ms. Strecker wrote this book; she did an amazing job from beginning to end on the way the story was laid out. I thought she did wonderfully by getting the reader hooked in the beginning on the “mystery” part of the book and keeping the reader interested throughout the entire book by alternating the narrators and past and present until the very end when the secrets were finally told. I loved that the chapters weren’t really long, I felt they were a great length. I didn’t have to dread having to read 10-20 pages just to finish the chapter. Usually when chapters are that long I tend to get tired of reading after about 5 minutes or I start counting how many pages are left of that chapter, but with Night Blindness I didn’t have to do any of that.

     I think Ms. Strecker wrote a wonderful book and that many people would enjoy the story. I think this book would be more interesting to women however than to men just because of the way it’s set up. Out of a score of 10; I give Night Blindness a “9” and Susan Strecker a “10.”

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an  honest review.  Tiffany

Monday, October 27, 2014

Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler - Audibook Review

In a small town, relationships often last a lifetime.  In the town of Little Wing, Wisconsin, four friends maintain their bonds during the changes of life in Nickolas Butler’s Shotgun Lovesongs
         Kip, who has left the town of Little Wing to become a wealthy broker, returns to town to purchase the old mill.  The former center of the town, the mill has become a symbol of the forgotten heart of the town.  Kip has a vision to restore it to its former glory and to make it into an entertainment destination for the town. 
         Henry has never left the town of Little Wing—choosing to marry his high school love, Beth, and to farm on his land.  His life is stable and predictable. 
         Ronny, the daredevil of the group, has ridden the rodeo circuit for years.  His body, battered and bruised from his career, is unable to withstand injuries from an alcohol-fueled binge.  He is trying to find his new niche, without booze and the rodeo.
         Finally, Lee—the one who made it big—has become an international music star.  His first record, Shotgun Lovesongs, was recorded in a chicken coop that he made into a studio.  But has Lee’s wealth and success made it so that he cannot fit back into life in Little Wing?
         The setting of Little Wing, Wisconsin is nearly another character in the novel, and being a Midwesterner, I can relate to the slow pace of small town life celebrated in this novel.  People really are different in these towns.  The dependence on the land, the tight bonds between people, and the social interactions between each generation of people make Little Wing a special place to visit.
         Nothing really happens in this novel, short of rearrangements of relationships and a blip at the end, but plot is not really the selling point of Shotgun Lovesongs.  It is more about the characters and their relationship to place than it is about the arc of a typical narrative.
         Overall, I enjoyed this novel and the exploration of friendship and small town life.  It felt like home to me.  Its themes are universal—the changes that friendships have to make, family, and home.  A comforting read in many ways.  Recommended!

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Regina

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Forks Over Knives Plan: How to Transition to the Life-Saving, Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet by Alona Pulde

From the creators of the groundbreaking documentary (and bestselling book) Forks Over Knives comes a four-week plan, showing anyone how to transition to a delicious whole-food, plant-based diet.

The trailblazing film Forks Over Knives exposed an entirely new generation to the whole-food, plant-based nutrition revolution and inspired thousands to want to transform their diets, and their lives. With so many people looking for change, the outstanding question became, “How can we put these dietary ideas into practice?” That’s what authors Alona Pulde and Matthew Lederman reveal inThe Forks Over Knives Plan: The 4-Week Guide to Whole-Food, Plant-Based Health—a clear, easy-to-follow plan that outlines the steps to take each week to transform your diet by cutting out animal-based and processed foods.

Forks Over Knives is a leading authority in the “food as medicine” movement, showing how simple dietary changes are proven to prevent, and even reverse, chronic disease such as type-2 diabetes and heart disease and improve your overall health. This is no fad diet; the Forks Over Knives program is backed by original research and has received rave reviews from physicians like Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Mehmet Oz, to athletes like pro football star Arian Foster and pro basketball player Steve Nash, to healthy lifestyle pioneers like Alicia Silverstone, to name a few. Whether you’re already a convert and just want a dietary reboot, or you are trying a plant-based diet for the first time, The Forks Over Knives Plan makes it easier than ever to transition into this new way of eating.

This book is great for anyone who is ready to or even thinking about changing to a whole-food, plant-based diet.  This is a life-changing process with superb results, as evidenced by the many testimonials placed throughout the pages. 

 As a believer in this lifestyle already, I was excited to read this and learn even more about it.  This informative book is well-written and easy to understand.  It explains everything from the basics (what a whole-food, plant-based diet is) to what to eat, what not to eat, the health benefits, and the consequences of following what the authors refer to as the Standard American Diet.  One of the best things about this book, in my opinion, is that they take the time to give you useful tips to make this transition easier. 

 The tips include how to dine out and make smart, healthy choices; how to stock your freezer, fridge, and pantry; how to eat while traveling away from home; and how to handle social situations.  The recipes that are included are easy to follow and gives the reader healthy options to add some variety to their new menu.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants finally make that life-altering decision to get healthy. 

No More Eating for Single Nutrients . . . Focus on the "Package" and the Foods You Enjoy
By Alona Pulde, MD, and Matthew Lederman, MD,
Author of The Forks Over Knives Plan: How to Transition to the Life-Saving, Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet
The idea of eating a particular food for one nutrient is pervasive in our culture. We have been led to believe we should eat meat for protein, dairy for calcium, fish for omega-3 fatty acids, and even tomatoes for lycopene, among many others. This sort of thinking is misguided and has caused grave harm to human health. The quest for protein, for example, has steered us toward meat consumption. In this quest, we not only consume protein in excess of our needs, but also many harmful substances like dietary cholesterol that are only present in animal foods.
No food is a single nutrient, and we should never think of foods in that way. Any given food has countless nutrients. What matters most is the overall nutrient profile, i.e., the whole package. Whole, plant-based foods contain all the essential nutrients (with the exception of vitamin B12*), and in proportions that are more consistent with human needs than animal-based or processed foods. So our question is really this: Why waste any of what we eat on inferior packages? As long as -- over time -- we choose a variety of whole, plant-based foods, we will easily meet all of our nutritional needs.
Whole, Plant-Based Food Will Provide the Best "Package" of nutrients
When eating fruits, vegetables, tubers, whole grains, and legumes to comfortable satiation, you will get superior nutrition without also getting all the unhealthy elements present in animal-based and highly processed foods. Among other things, you will effortlessly consume:
  • A nutrient profile consistent with human needs. All whole foods contain carbohydrates, protein, and fat. These are the macronutrients, which are the source of virtually all calories, or energy. Different foods, how- ever, contain each of these in different proportions. The foods you eat on a whole-food, plant-based diet will most easily get you to a healthy carbohydrate, protein, and fat ratio, which lies somewhere in the range of 80/10/10. We discuss each macronutrient in the chapters that follow.
  • Lower-calorie-density foods that will leave you neither underweight nor overweight. Whole, plant-based foods in general are significantly lower in calories per pound (calorie density) than animal products and processed food. Higher-calorie-density foods lead to excessive calorie consumption and overweight bodies. Many chronic diseases are caused by the same foods that result in being overweight or obese. (We explain calorie density and how it affects body weight on page 30.)
  • A sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals. Every vitamin or mineral you need to thrive is present in a whole-food, plant-based diet in amounts and proportions consistent with our needs. The only exceptions are vitamin B12 and vitamin D, which we discuss on page 37.
  • Dietary fiber. Fiber plays a key role in signaling to our brain that we have eaten enough and is also an essential part of digestion, normal colon function, and binding and removing toxins that would otherwise be re-absorbed into the body. Animal foods do not contain any dietary fiber, so we must get it from whole plant foods.
  • No cholesterol. We do not need to consume cholesterol in our diets because our bodies can make all that we need. Avoiding dietary cholesterol is a great way to decrease our risk of developing heart disease. Excess cholesterol is involved in the thickening and hardening of arteries, or atherosclerosis, which leads to serious problems, such as heart attacks and strokes. Animal foods, even the low-fat varieties, contain cholesterol.
The above is an excerpt from the book The Forks Over Knives Plan: How to Transition to the Life-Saving, Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet by Alona Pulde, MD, and Matthew Lederman, MD. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy and references. 
Copyright © 2014 Alona Pulde, MD, and Matthew Lederman, MD, authors of The Forks Over Knives Plan: How to Transition to the Life-Saving, Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet 

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Sunshine

Thursday, October 23, 2014

I Am Livia by Phyllis T. Smith

Her life would be marked by scandal and suspicion, worship and adoration…
At the tender age of fourteen, Livia Drusilla overhears her father and fellow aristocrats plotting the assassination of Julius Caesar. Proving herself an astute confidante, she becomes her father’s chief political asset—and reluctantly enters into an advantageous marriage to a prominent military officer. Her mother tells her, “It is possible for a woman to influence public affairs,” reminding Livia that—while she possesses a keen sense for the machinations of the Roman senate—she must also remain patient and practical.
But patience and practicality disappear from Livia’s mind when she meets Caesar’s heir, Octavianus. At only eighteen, he displays both power and modesty. A young wife by that point, Livia finds herself drawn to the golden-haired boy. In time, his fortunes will rise as Livia’s family faces terrible danger. But her sharp intellect—and her heart—will lead Livia to make an unbelievable choice: one that will give her greater sway over Rome than she could have ever foreseen.

I am Livia is a new look on a woman that time has made into a villainous.  Livia tells her story from the time of Julius Caesar’s murder to when Mark Anthony and Cleopatra committed suicide.

As a girl Livia was a pawn in a man’s world.  But from that she grew into a woman who wanted to make a difference for others.  History has painted her as a domineering wife and mother; but I think that was done by men who feared her power and all the good she did for the Roman people.

Her father gives her to Tiberius Nero as a gift for fighting on the side of Brutus against Caesar.  When Mark Anthony starts fighting against Octavian for Rome she faces many hardships and almost loses her life.  Once a truce is made, Octavian falls in love with her and even though she is pregnant by her husband, he marries her.

 Together they have a very passionate and supportive relationship.  History talks mostly about Cleopatra and Anthony as the main romantic couple of that era, but I think this story shows that through everything Octavian and Livia are the stronger couple.
The pace of this book is great.  I couldn’t put it down.  I took this book on vacation and whenever I could I would pick it up.  It was one of those books that you want to continue reading but are sad when it ends. At a time when women were subservient and were not allowed into politics Octavian listened to his wife and allowed her to be his equal. 

I love how Phyllis T. Smith shows historical figures as real people.  You get a sense of how they really lived and it opens a window on a time you have probably read in history class and were totally bored by.  I got a new perspective on a story I thought I knew and am now interested in finding out more about.

Phyllis T. Smith’s writing brings Rome back to life.  I felt like I was part of the story while I was reading and I wanted to go to the Forum, The Senate and to all of Rome in its heyday!

I got this book on Amazon for free when I saw the cover.  It intrigued me.  It didn’t disappoint.  I loved it!!! I would definitely recommend this book!  I say go and pick it up you will love it!!!!

Phyllis T. Smith was born and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. After obtaining a bachelor's degree from Brooklyn College and a master's degree from New York University, Phyllis pursued a practical career in computer applications training, yet found herself drawn to literature and art of the ancient world. I Am Livia is her first novel. She has another novel set in ancient Rome in the works.

*I purchased a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Stephanie

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Remake by Ilima Todd & Giveaway!

Nine is the ninth female born in her batch of ten females and ten males. By design, her life in Freedom Province is without complications or consequences. However, such freedom comes with a price. The Prime Maker is determined to keep that price a secret from the new batches of citizens that are born, nurtured, and raised androgynously.

But Nine isn't like every other batcher. She harbors indecision 
and worries about her upcoming Remake Day -- her seventeenth birthday, the age when batchers fly to the Remake facility and have the freedom to choose who and what they'll be.

When Nine discovers the truth about life outside of Freedom 
Province, including the secret plan of the Prime Maker, she is 
pulled between two worlds and two lives. Her decisions will test 
her courage, her heart, and her beliefs. Who can she trust? Who does she love? And most importantly, who will she decide to be?

I loved Remake! I am a big fan of dystopian fiction, and this reminded me a bit of that splashed generously with science fiction.  In a society where procreation is heavily moderated, and if you disobey, you could be killed.  The babies are born monthly, ten males and ten females.  They have no names until they pick their own on their seventeenth birthday.  They choose their name, their gender, how they want to look and what trade they would like.  Until that date, they are raised together with shaven heads and neutrality.  

Nine still hasn't decided on her name or gender, but she knows she wants to be a maker.  Curses with red hair and freckles, she has been an outsider all of her life.  She wants to ensure that it won't happen to anyone else if she is the maker, making the decisions on genes for new batches.  However, once she makes her wishes known, the Prime Maker lets Nine know that she will never be a Maker and it leaves Nine confused more than ever.

On the eve of their remake, Nine and her fellow batchers are in a plane to their destination when it crashes into the ocean.  Nine wakes up on an island, with people who talk differently, have families and are basically the opposit of everything she has ever known.  It will be months before she can get back to Freedom so she tries to make the best of the situation.  But overtime, she finds herself with a choice.  Which life does she really want to live? And what is she willing to sacrifice to get it?

Like I said, I loved Remake! The world building, the characters, the plot twists, everything.  The only thing I disliked was that the book ended.  I wanted to know more about Nine and her world, what her choices meant for her.  If you enjoy dystopian science fiction, pick up Remake! I'll definitely be looking for more work from this gifted author!

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Wendy

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Children of the Revolution (Inspector Banks #21) by Peter Robinson

A disgraced college lecturer is found murdered with £5,000 in his pocket on a disused railway line near his home. Since being dismissed from his job for sexual misconduct four years previously, he has been living a poverty-stricken and hermit-like existence in this isolated spot.

The suspects range from several individuals at the college where he used to teach to a woman who knew the victim back in the early '70s at Essex University, then a hotbed of political activism. When Banks receives a warning to step away from the case, he realises there is much more to the mystery than meets the eye - for there are plenty more skeletons to come out of the closet . . 

Children of the Revolution is book 21 in the Inspector Banks Series of Mystery Novels.  Unfortunately it is a very boring and predictable book.  As someone who has not read this series I found myself confused over the personal lives of the main characters.  Peter Robinson is a good writer who weaves what could be a great story, but to those who are new to the series it is just confusing. 

I found the murder mystery to be very predictable.  The main detective goes to investigate a murder.  Has his team talk to all the victims’ family, friends and colleagues.  Comes to the wrong conclusion at first and then finally figures out the truth.   To me this book was very slow.  I actually found myself not wanting to continue, but I slowly plodded along and was actually relieved when I finished. 

To me this is not the best book.  But if you are a fan of the Inspector Banks Series go ahead and read.  But if you have never read this series you may want to go back to the beginning. 

Peter Robinson's award-winning novels have been named a Best-Book-of-the-Year by Publishers Weekly, a Notable Book by the New York Times, and a Page-Turner-of-the-Week by People magazine. Robinson was born and raised in Yorkshire but has lived in North America for over twenty-five years. He now divides his time between North America and the U.K. 

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Stephanie