West Virginia Book Festival Update

The excitement builds…It has been announced that Dave Pelzer, author of A Child Called It, will be speaking at the West Virginia Book Festival on Sunday, October 23 at 1:00 PM in the Charleston Civic Center Little Theater. This year’s author line-up is going to make for another interesting and memorable festival. 



Book 126: ENTANGLED IN DARKNESS Review

Lindsey Webster has provided a dark and gritty portrayal of bipolar disorder in Entangled in Darkness. Annalyn is initially a happy teenager heading off to college and her first apartment. Her family is dysfunctional at best and she is glad to leave the drama behind but hesitant to leave her youngest sister Janey. Annalyn has moved in with her best friend Lexie and is fully prepared to being “an adult” or is she?


The first days of college can be overwhelming but Annalyn seems to be drowning in thoughts of not fitting in and meeting expectations. She rapidly spirals down into a depression that is as painful as it is puzzling. She stops going to classes, becomes paranoid about others’ behavior and speech, and finally stays in bed neglecting her physical hygiene. At first I wondered why neither Lexie nor Annalyn’s mother sought mental health support for someone so obviously depressed and paranoid. The reason’s why became slightly more apparent the more I read. This deep depression is followed by a suicide attempt, which again is not treated, only to be followed by a manic episode. It is the mania that results in an arrest and mental health intervention in the form of a hospitalization and medical treatment. Annalyn’s mother insists that she is in the right place and refuses to allow her to leave while the father loudly proclaims that he’ll have his lawyers get her out in no time. 


The sad truth is that mental illness impacts the entire family not just the individual. Annalyn’s illness adversely affects her younger sister Janey, who might be showing early signs of the disease as well. The father has a history of mental illness and also attempted suicide as a young adult, but is in serious denial about being “labeled” and feels he has the problem under control. The mother simply feels that the father has “moods” and everyone should be accommodating and is truly unaware of his past mental health history. This denial of the reality of mental illness ultimately results in tragedy. Entangled in Darkness is not for the faint of heart but it does provide an interesting and realistic glimpse into the horror of untreated, and poorly treated, mental illness. (NOTE: There are a few minor editing issues in the ebook version that need to be addressed but these did not detract from the overall reading experience.)


Disclaimer: I received this book free from the author through LibraryThing. 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 125: DEATH BY HONEYMOON Review

Death by Honeymoon by Jaden Skye packs a punch. This novel is short in length but contains good writing, a great story line, and interesting characters. The premise is that Cindy’s husband Clint dies under tragic yet mysterious circumstances during their honeymoon on Barbados. Cindy is bereft over Clint’s death and eventually comes to believe that his accidental death was anything but accidental. Of course no one believes her, including her sister Ann. Until Ann drives Cindy’s car to run errands and finds that the brakes don’t work. If things aren’t bad enough Cindy has to contend with in-laws that are blaming her for husband’s death.


Cindy isn’t willing to back down from her theories and launches her own investigation into Clint’s death and returns to Barbados. Was Clint’s murder related to his job? What could possibly have been so important to kill for? Will Cindy find the answers before she becomes the next victim? Cindy may have spent the first three weeks after Clint’s death moping and grieving but she makes up for lost time. Death by Honeymoon makes a perfect weekend read for anyone interested in a quick-read suspense 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.”

Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop

All good things must come to an end and the Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop has ended. I want to thank everyone that stopped by and entered. I also want to thank everyone that posted a comment. Last, a special thanks to I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and Page Turners blogs for organizing this hop.


The winner of the $20 Amazon.com gift card is Beckie Burnham. Congratulations! Ms. Burnham has been notified via email of her win.


The winner of this giveaway was chosen by random.org. For additional information on this giveaway, please visit: http://www.random.org/draws/details/?draw=6327 Please note that this link will only verify your entry and winning status.  

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.”