Book 124: THE DIRECTIONLESS SON OF BRAIN Review

The Directionless Son of Brain by Saurabh Sharma is a symbolic tale of Mind, the son of Brain and Cousciousness. At age seventeen Mind has dropped out of school and has no thoughts on what he wants to do or where he wants to go in life. His parents are concerned and visit the father’s brother Wisdom for insight and guidance. Uncle ‘Wisdom’ visits with his family – his wife, Soul, and son, Heart. Wisdom tells Mind that he should go on a journey for two years and rediscover himself. He is also advised to write his experiences in journal at the end and then to give the journal to his uncle upon his return. 


What follows are a series of visits to villages and towns, where Mind encounters Misfortune, Poverty, Greed, Crime, Religion, Logic, Practicality, Pervert, Lust, Compassion, Empathy, Grief, Insane, Profit, Creativity and more. These people all help to teach Mind necessary life lessons. Although this is a short story, I found it a very difficult read because of the poor grammar and strange sentence structure as well as incorrect word usage, e.g. “You are a looser…You are right I am a looser but who is the winner here?” If these types of problems don’t bother you then this may be considered a decent quick read but I found myself wanting to correct every error rather than follow the story.


DISCLOSURE: I received this book free from the author. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book 123: SET IN STONE: THE LIFE & DEATH OF MEDUSA Review

Set In Stone: The Life & Death of Medusa by R. C. Berry provides a highly creative backstory to the life of Medusa before she becomes a monster. We meet Medusa as a young, highly impressionable and naive teen. She is beautiful inside and out  and adored by her “cousins” the Charities. She is invited by the Charities to a celebratory festival on Mount Olympus for the goddess Athena. While there she becomes enamored with not only Athena but Aphrodite. This sparks a tug-of-war between the two goddesses to see which one can win the love of Medusa. 


Over the course of the following year Medusa begins to worship both goddesses and leave small tokens of her love and devotion, but it is only Athena that appears to her as a reward for her prayers. Upon her return to Mount Olympus, this time for a celebratory festival for Aphrodite, she is sad and angry over the treatment of Aphrodite and lets her know why. Things get rather complicated and interesting at this point because Athena feels she has won the love and devotion of Medusa yet Aphrodite seduces her. The “war” truly heats up between the two goddesses with Medusa caught in the middle as nothing more than a plaything. It appears that Aphrodite may care for Medusa and she does go out of her way to protect her after she is attacked by Poseidon and cursed by Athena. But the result is that Medusa has become hard and cold on the inside as a result of the gods and goddesses machinations. 


I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Set in Stone but I was pleasantly surprised. This highly creative backstory is believable although it does stretch the imagination at times. Ms. Berry has provided a twist to the mythology behind the legend. The only drawback is that this is the first in a trilogy and one presumes no resolution to the story will be had until the end of the third book. This doesn’t detract from the pleasure obtained in reading this story but it does mean more reading ahead.


DISCLOSURE: I received this book free from the author/publisher. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book 122: ENCHANTED ISLAND Review

Enchanted Island by May Torres is described as a supernatural coming of age story with a historical twist. The story begins with Gabriella (Gabby), Gilberto and Molly as eleven year olds in middle school. Molly is the daughter of absent and privileged parents. She knows Gabby as the daughter of her family’s maid, Rosa. The two girls don’t have a lot in common but forge a friendship that is repeatedly tried by petty jealousies, envy and peer-pressure. Gabby and Gilberto hit it off immediately and become inseparable throughout middle school and begin dating when they enter high school. Gabby, Gilberto and Molly travel to Puerto Rico the summer they are all twelve and meet Juan, a slightly older teen. Molly has a crush on Juan and is jealous of his attention to Gabby. This jealousy motivates her to try and trick Gabby resulting in a serious fall and injury.


The first half of this story is devoted to the routine trials and tribulations associated with being a tween and teen. The second half focuses more on the pitfalls associated with growing older and high school. It also superficially deals with some serious issues such as rape, gang-rape and teen pregnancy. Nothing gets reported and when the victim, Molly winds up pregnant she simply chooses to ignore the pregnancy as if it will go away if she doesn’t think about it. This seems to be taking naivete to an extreme. The story hints at the paranormal in the first half with Gabby seeing an ancient Indian chief and swearing that he saved her from a life-threatening fall on Mona Island. However, no one else sees him and they assume Gabby must have been dreaming. During the second half of the book the paranormal, supernatural aspects are front and center. All four of the teens are forced to relive their pasts in order to save the future. The historical aspects are quite interesting, however, the supernatural/paranormal seemed forced and overshadowed everything else. I think it was because of the rather forced nature of the supernatural and paranormal that I wasn’t able to enjoy this story and had to force myself to plod through to the end.


DISCLOSURE: I received this book free from the author/publisher. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop – Last Few Days

The Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop will be over in just a few more days. Please visit my giveaways page for your chance to win a $20 Amazon.com gift card (open to all)

Only one entry per name/email address – no following required (although appreciated)! 

This giveaway ends on May 31st at 11:59 PM ET. Winner will be posted on June 1st and contacted via email (winner will be chosen by random.org).

Book 121: THE GUARDIAN OF EDEN Reviewed

To say that The Guardian of Eden deals with complicated issues is an understatement. This book portrays child neglect and abandonment, dysfunctional family drama, child abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, incest, molestation, and murder. When we first meet Garrett he is a happy 5 year old child living with his paternal grandmother. He has never met his parents and only knows that his father is in prison. It is not until his grandmother dies that he meets his mother, his very pregnant mother – Holly. He is stunned to find out that she is white, and her boyfriend at the time is stunned to find out that her son is black. His mother shortly gives birth to Garrett’s half-sister, Eden and his life begins to dramatically change. 


Over the years Garrett has assumed the role of protector of his younger sister, often missing school to take care of her, as well as tend to his mother. Not to sound trite, but to say that Holly has issues is again an understatement. She is needy in so many ways and often attempts to drown her sadness and sorrows in alcohol or drugs, which means neglecting not only herself but her children. Things seem to change for the better when she meets and then marries a successful photographer, Corbin. Corbin decides he wants to make them all a real family and tries to adopt Eden and Garrett. This decision results in Garrett meeting his birth father for the very first time, in prison. Even though there is apparently a stable adult in the picture, Garrett still insists on protecting his mother and Eden. It doesn’t help that at only 11 Eden is 5’8″ tall and beautiful. None of these people are perfect, although they may appear to be superficially. They are all tall, beautiful, smart and flawed. Garrett evidently scored a perfect SAT score when he was in the 9th grade and had a 4th grade reading ability when he was only 5 years old. Both he and Eden show an aptitude for the linguistic arts and are quite fond of poetry. 


Enter Madison McPhee, the daughter of a US Senator and presidential candidate. She and Garrett hit it off immediately and begin a tumultuous relationship. Madison is somewhat afraid to tell her father about Garrett but only because her father is extremely over-protective. Eden is jealous of all of the time that Garrett is spending with Madison. Garrett is feeling that he’s letting Eden down and is considered inferior by Madison. Just when you think things couldn’t possibly get worse, Eden is hospitalized and it comes out that she was raped. 


I enjoyed this story up to the end. I found it hard to believe that Garrett could receive “psychological treatment” for a number of years for his “anger management” issues and nothing ever be resolved. Why doesn’t the psychologist suggest a referral to another counselor if he isn’t able to help? Why doesn’t the social worker step in and try a different counselor if this is an ongoing issue? I know, children fall through the cracks of our social services system daily, but this didn’t seem to make much sense. The story is often gritty and ugly but then so are the indignities these children are forced to suffer. This is not a light-hearted read but it does pack a punch. 


DISCLOSURE: I received this book free from the author. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book 120: 3 LIES Reviewed

Clint Masters is moving on with his life. He has taken a leave of absence from his high-tech company, CatSat, and in just a few more months his divorce will be final. He’s happy and part of this happiness is due to his relationship with Beth Sutton. Things are going well until he returns to Beth’s home one morning to find that she has disappeared. He knows things are not what they seem when he finds that her dialysis machine is still in her home and that her uncle, the Supreme Court Chief Justice, has come up with an unbelievable story to cover her absence. Just when it doesn’t appear as if things could get any worse, his soon-to-be-ex appears and tells him she’s pregnant and it’s his child. 

3 Lies is filled with action (not the bang-bang shoot’em-up kind although there is a little of that as well), suspense and deceit. While Clint attempts to find out the truth behind Beth’s absence, he discovers that she’s actually been kidnapped. He then discovers that there is a family member or friend missing that has ties to each of the Supreme Court justices. The justices are told not to inform the authorities but they are never asked to change their votes or positions on any upcoming cases. To make matters worse, Beth has not had dialysis in several days and her life is truly endangered by this fact alone. He also has to contend with his ex, who has decided she wants a reconciliation. Is it too little too late even if there’s a child involved? Things really get interesting when the CIA launches their own internal investigation into an old code that shows up one day, a possible computer worm, and 10 missing agents with loose ties to the Middle East. 

Not everything in this story made sense to me, such as why the Supreme Court Justice is residing in Boston while supposedly being active on the court in Washington DC? Does he commute daily or is he a telecommuter? I wondered about this but it doesn’t really distract from the overall story. Ms. Hanson filled this story with numerous twists and turns that kept me wondering how does this tie in? I also hoped and prayed that Beth, and the other hostages, would get rescued in time. 3 Lies raises the question of who can we really trust? Can we trust the government or her agents? Can we trust family and friends? How far will a person go to protect themselves and their vested interests no matter how perverted? If you’re into suspense thrillers, then I suggest you add this to your to-be-read list.


DISCLOSURE: I received this book free from the author. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book 119: THE ORDEAL OF FIRE

The Ordeal of Fire is Steven Smith’s second book in the “Tree of Life” trilogy. Elowen and her companions continue with a variety of quests. Elowen and Diggory had found respite with the Illuminati, and both were being taught and trained by masters. Elowen is chosen to by one of the Illuminati leaders to join with several other students for a special task: to obtain the four elements or mysteries. However the love of power causes one Illuminati leader to betray all others and puts Elowen in a tenuous situation. She realizes her mistake in being guiled by soft words too late and watches as the Illuminati are literally destroyed from within and finally by the Redeemers. 


Elowen, Diggory and Larwita are forced to flee and suffer imprisonment, beatings, and more. Elowen is branded a witch by a church leader after failing “the ordeal of fire” and is to be executed. But she escapes. She befriends many along the way, including an Orok that was with the Illuminati, Arigh Nasan. She learns more of her mother’s history and ultimately realizes that she doesn’t have to follow the same path. While Elowen searches for the first mystery and deals with Lord Lucien, Prince Asbjorn is dealing with his own set of trials. Black Francis and the others aboard the Husker Du have been betrayed and imprisoned by the Sea Beggars and only Prince Asbjorn and Valbrand escape. During their travels they encounter Prince Jeimuzu of the Kojin and embark on their own quest to save the lives of the Jeimuzu’s sister and ultimately the lives of Black Francis and the sailors of the Husker Du.


The Ordeal of Fire is filled with intrigue, treachery, and fantasy. These elements along with the interesting characters and kingdoms make this a good read. We’re introduced to a variety of different creatures and kingdoms. The kingdom of the Orok and the previous khan, Arigh Nasan’s father, seems to resemble the khan’s of ancient Asia. The Kojin are fierce warriors with skills similar to the samurai of ancient Japan. During all of their trials and tribulations, Elowen and Asbjorn must face their inner demons as well as their external foes. Will they succeed? Will the Illuminati in Omphalos be warned of Prester John and the Mother Church’s treachery? Will Lord Lucien succeed in obtaining all four elements and be able to use these to push forward the agenda of the Mother Church? We’ll have to wait for the final book in the trilogy, The Last Days, to find out. I have to say that although I would not have chosen this series to read on my own, I’m anxiously awaiting the final book to see how things end.

DISCLOSURE:  I received this book free from the author. I was not paid, required nor otherwise obligated to provide a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

West Virginia Book Festival Update

For all readers in West Virginia and surrounding areas, the West Virginia Book Festival has announced another speaker for the 2011 festival: Lee Child, author of the Jack Reacher novels. This year’s festival is scheduled for October 22 – 23 and will be held in Charleston WV. 


Last year’s festival featured several best-selling authors and I had the pleasure of meeting Diana Gabaldon – author of the Outlander and Lord John series, and Heidi Durrow – author of The Girl Who Fell From the Sky. Both  gave wonderful talks and, for me, were the highlight of the festival; for others I know it was the Nicholas Sparks session. I can’t wait to find out the other authors scheduled to attend this year.




OMG! I just realized the WV Book Festival and the Books by the Bank festival in Cincinnati, Ohio are the same weekend. The 2010 Cincinnati festival featured sessions with Katherine Howe – author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, Beth Hoffman – author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, Leah Stewart – author of Husband and Wife, J.T. Ellison – author of The Immortals, and Augusten Burroughs – author of Running with Scissors


Decisions, decisions, decisions…at this point it appears as if I’ll be driving to and from Cincinnati on Saturday and possibly attend the WV Book Festival on Sunday.














Books 116-117 Reviewed

I had to escort my parental units to see their gerontologist yesterday and decided to read for pleasure while awaiting the appointments. Since my to-be-read-for-pleasure list is so long, the choices seem to be never ending, but I finally chose to read Jane Bites Back by Michael Thomas Ford and I’m very glad I made this choice.


What can I say that hasn’t already been said? Jane Bites Back is a very well-written and well-developed story about Jane Austen as a vampire bookstore owner residing in upstate New York in the 21st century. That alone gets us off to a really good start and then we learn that this Jane has received 116 rejection letters for her latest manuscript (well it was written when she was still alive but still . . . ). Just when she begins to despair that she’ll never be able to write again, she receives an email that her manuscript has been accepted and will be published within months. To make things slightly more interesting, she is enamored with a local contractor and is almost ready to move that relationship to the next level when an unfortunate ex appears. This “ex” just happens to be the vampire that turned her and he is Lord Byron. Now lets throw in a slightly deranged Charlotte Bronte (yes another vampire) into the mix, along with devoted Austenites versus Bronteites. I could tell you more but I’ll simply say that this book is extremely funny, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny and a delight from beginning to end. After completing Jane Bites Back I wasn’t ready to put this Jane Austen away, so I promptly began reading Jane Goes Batty


Jane Goes Batty takes up just where Jane Bites Back left off. Jane is now being followed by a film crew and is in the midst of having her book filmed. She’s slightly ticked off because the screenwriter and director have taken liberal creative license and changed her work to the point of being unrecognizable. If that’s not bad enough, there’s a vampire hunter on the loose and it turns out to be her boyfriend’s mother. Oh, and the deranged Charlotte Bronte is still out there somewhere. This book involves a bit more romance in an on-again/off-again nature between Jane and Walter, as well as her store manager Lucy and the rabbi Ben. Byron is still up to his old tricks and is chasing after Jane and trying to make amends, while chasing after and obsessing about men and women. Did I forget to mention that there’s also a slightly demented romance blogger in town during the filming and a new book editor on the scene? You wouldn’t think these elements could work but they do, and quite well. The humor is still there but this book provides slightly more intrigue along with the paranormal slant. This was just as good as the first book and I’m a little sad to have to put this Jane Austen away for a while and wait for the next in this series, Jane Vows Vengeance