Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Review: 'One Stiletto in the Grave' by Jason Krumbine

So, I have been reading a lot. Just finished Wally Lamb's book," The Hour I First Believed." If you haven't read this..beware--not an upper. I would review this fantastic, well written book...but I am depressed enough.

In my state of despair I came along Jason Krumbine's,"One Stiletto in the Grave." Jason is on my twitter list, which I still am completely clueless how Twitter works, but it's apparently legal to stalk Mike Rowe via Twitter....hmmm....wait...BACK TO ME!

Jason posted that this particular book was free that day...Free?? Because thanks to Xmas I need free. How in the hell can I keep my 5 book a week habit up during this hideous time??

Hallllo!! Great cover!

This book is the first in (hopefully) a long series. Avery and Brooke Graves are reapers and sisters--think of bounty hunters for the dead. They deliver the dead where they got to go and pick up their paycheck at the end. Avery is the stable, organized sister, and Brooke has a frat boy mentality who happens to be built like a supermodel. Now, some of you may say (especially you Martha Stewart & PTA wanna be's) that Brooke is trashy and needs to put some time in with Sr. Joanne for some serious repentance...whatever.

I had friends like Brooke--in fact, I still have one. She has simmered down since our college age days but whoa Nellie!  She could make a biker blush. Double standard to think that boys who behave like this are just young and silly, while girls are slutty with low self esteems.... AAAK...sounding like Jesus..aka my soapbox.

The girls get in trouble with some bad guys- CAN'T SAY ANYMORE.....howeverrrrr.. Avery has a ER Doc boyfriend who I find boring and sedate. There is another reaper that hopefully will be more of a distraction in the future. Brooke does have a ex-boyfriend who seems a little creepy...crawl out of your skin type. For those 80's kids, remember Herb Tarlic from WKRP?? That is who I think of when I think of this gentleman.  She also has a very out of control sex drive and manages to spend time with this creeper (shout out to my teens..look at Mom usin the lingo!).  This book is fun, dialogue is sharp. Both characters and storyline are original. Like J.A Konrath, I have to constantly remind myself a MAN wrote this.

So to you book snobs--you know who you are (especially that group who booted me out 10 yrs ago for asking the innocent question, " Christ...does every book we read have to describe a English garden for 100 pages? Shoot me now.") lighten up. There are fun books that are also well written, so give it a whirl.

*Reviewed by Lindsey

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Review: ‘Forget You’ by Jennifer Echols

WHY CAN’T YOU CHOOSE WHAT YOU FORGET . . .  AND WHAT YOU REMEMBER?  There’s a lot Zoey would like to forget. Like how her father has knocked up his twenty-four- year old girlfriend. Like Zoey’s fear that the whole town will find out about her mom’s nervous breakdown. Like darkly handsome bad boy Doug taunting her at school. Feeling like her life is about to become a complete mess, Zoey fights back the only way she knows how, using her famous attention to detail to make sure she’s the perfect daughter, the perfect student, and the perfect girlfriend to ultra-popular football player Brandon.  But then Zoey is in a car crash, and the next day there’s one thing she can’t remember at all—the entire night before. Did she go parking with Brandon, like she planned? And if so, why does it seem like Brandon is avoiding her? And why is Doug—of all people— suddenly acting as if something significant happened between the two of them? Zoey dimly remembers Doug pulling her from the wreck, but he keeps referring to what happened that night as if it was more, and it terrifies Zoey to admit how much is a blank to her. Controlled, meticulous Zoey is quickly losing her grip on the all-important details of her life—a life that seems strangely empty of Brandon, and strangely full of Doug.
(Amazon product description)

Forget You

I started off really liking this book.  Zoey’s head injury has caused her to forget the night before, but because her jerk of a father, she has to pretend like nothing is wrong.  When Brandon and Doug start acting strangely the next day, she sets out to piece together the truth of what happened before her accident.  Cool plot.  However, Zoey takes a little too long to catch on to the clues.  I mean, she knows from the beginning that Brandon is a total player.  Why she thinks she is his exclusive girlfriend is beyond me.  Her naivety irritated me at times.  That being said, I liked Zoey.  She was sweet, a tad innocent, and a good person.     

The love triangle between Zoey, Brandon and Doug really isn’t a triangle, because at no point does the reader think there is any kind of chance for Zoey with Brandon.  The guy is a total meat head.  Doug, on the other hand, is hotter than hell!  He’s slightly brooding and dark, but in a sexy way, not annoying.  The chemistry between him and Zoey is perfect. 

Like a lot of young adult books published by MTV, there are some sexual situations in the book.  Obviously, they are not graphic, but some parents might prefer younger teens not read this.  Older or more mature teens should have no problem with the content. 

Overall, I give Forget You...

Plot - 4 bookmarks
Character development - 4 bookmarks
Love story - 4 1/2 bookmarks
Dream cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Emily Kassie (Zoey), Evan Alex Cole (Doug), Ed Speeler (Brandon) 

Reviewer - Jesi Lea Ryan

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Review: 'Dancing in Heaven' by Christine Grote

Dancing in Heaven: a sister's memoir

Synopsis from the author:

Dancing in Heaven is an inspirational story about my sister Annie s life, death, and her significance in the lives of those of us who loved her and others who were touched by her. Born with severe brain damage, Annie never outgrew the needs of an infant. She didn’t walk or talk. Our parents fed her, changed her clothes, and lifted her from her bed to her wheelchair and back for her entire life of 51 years. This memoir provides a window into my family’ s life with a severely disabled member. But more importantly, Dancing in Heaven is a testimony to the basic intrinsic value of human life. —Christine M Grote

My thoughts:

Dancing In Heaven: a sister's memoir is touching and inspirational. Annie's story is one that everyone should read. The way she affected her famiy and those around her was astounding.

Christine tells the heartbreaking yet triumphant story of Annie's passing from this life to the next. Interspersed in the events of Annie's decline are stories from childhood and other moments with Annie and how her remarkable smile blessed each person with whom she came into contact.
One particular aspect of this book that helped me connect to Christine, Annie and her familiy was the pictures that were posted at the end of each chapter. Getting to see Annie's beautiful smile and the faces of her family made their story even more real to me.

Though there were several moments while reading where my eyes were wet with tears, I came away from this book uplifted. The love that Annie received and gave in her lifetime is truly remarkable. The picture Christine has painted of her parents and their love for Annie and sacrifice on her behalf is so very beautiful.

I'm so glad Christine has shared Annie's story with the world. Read it. It will change your perspective and enrich your life.


* I received a copy of this book for review from the author. It's available now on and

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Jesi here!  It’s been a while since I’ve read a really good mystery.  This book balanced multiple plots and some really unique characters to create a satisfying read.  As the first in the series, Larsson introduces us to Mikael Blomkvist, an investigative reporter recently convicted of slander, and Lisbeth Salander, a social misfit with a talent for computer hacking.  Through a series of incidents, they end up working together to solve the mystery of a teenager who has been missing for thirty years.

My favorite part of this book was the character of Lisbeth.  I can honestly say, Lisbeth is the most unique heroine I’ve ever encountered.  Coming from someone who reads as much as I do, that is saying a lot.  In the tradition of Holden Caulfield, she is a true anti-hero.  It’s not just that she dresses in Goth clothes or has tattoos & piercings that makes her different.  Lisbeth has severe emotional and social problems, to the point that social services thinks she is mentally unstable and unable to care for herself.

At twenty-four years old and still a ward of the state, Lisbeth is assigned an abusive guardian who has complete control over her life.  When her guardian goes too far, he finds out too late that he underestimated her capacity for revenge.  For Lisbeth, he is just another example of men who hate women.

The character of Mikael Blomkvist is a nice balance to Lisbeth.  He is calm and rational.  He doesn’t over-react to Lisbeth’s apparent rudeness or lack of respect for his privacy.  Over time, he becomes the one person she can actually trust.

While it took me a few chapters to get sucked in, this is a fast-paced thriller and easy to lose yourself in on a lazy weekend afternoon.

Overall, I give The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Plot – 4 ½ bookmarks
Character Development – 5 bookmarks
Action – 3 bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Ellen Page (Lisbeth), Liam Neeson (Mikael), Vera Farmiga (Erika), Ian McKellen (Vanger), Helen Miren (Cecilia)

**  For those of you counting down the days for the movie release, I thought I'd post the full, eight minute long trailer for you.  (Although, I don't know how the Hollywood version can possibly top the Swedish version.) Enjoy!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Review: "The Myth of Mr. Mom" edited by Jeremy Rodden

The Myth of Mr. Mom an anthology created, developed and published by the awesome Jeremy Rodden (aka @toonopolis )  

The Myth of Mr. Mom

The Myth of Mr. Mom is a collaborative non-fiction essay anthology written by stay-at-home dads that shares the personal stories of eight men from around the world.

The goal of the book is to help bring awareness to the fact that men are just as capable as women of being the primary caregiver, homemaker, and stay-at-home parent. We feel that there is a societal bias against stay-at-home dads that does not exist for stay-at-home mothers and seek to bring our stories to the public.

Filled with humorous anecdotes and eye-opening personal experiences, The Myth of Mr. Mom is simultaneously inspiring and entertaining. 

I agreed to review this because as a stay at home mom, I wanted to see how the male version did it. Yup the stay at home dad. I always thought I had a pretty good outlook on stay at home dads and actually know a few (dad's of kids who are in my kids class at school) I applaud any man who decides to take on this role, but after reading this I only wish more men would stand up and proudly shout to the world, "I am a stay at home dad and I am proud of it"

I loved this anthology, but have to say that I "connected" best with the second chapter, an essay from Christian Jensen.  From the get go he could have been describing my daily life, other than my kids get up before I do, can't imagine trying to write anything before 6:30am and don't have quite his quirky sense of humor. (though I love it!) I laughed so hard I cried reading this essay and will be happily reading it out loud to my own husband when he returns from drill this weekend, I think he will find it rather amusing as well.

I love that he...well I don't want to spoil it, but let me say his "encouraging" notes on the kids lunch sacks are priceless. Makes me think of the time I proudly walked my kids to the bus in my penguin flannel jammies, old ratty robe, and hubby's slippers because the driver has asked to speak with me about my the youngest boy's actions while he rode the bus. Utter humiliation for the child, yup. Will he act up again on the bus...probably not. LOL

Yes even though I am a stay at home mom, which seems to be more accepted in society, I understood, agreed with, and nodded along with these essays. You see it doesn't matter who's at home, mom or dad, we deal with the same issues, challenges, and we enjoy it. So the next time you meet a stay at home dad, don't think less of him, shake his hand and congratulate him for choosing what I think is the most rewarding job there is. Yes it is a job, without a paycheck, no vacation time, but none of that matters when the kidlets snuggle up, give you smooshy kisses and say you are the best mom/or dad in the world.

Whether you are a mom or a dad or an aunt, uncle or even just thinking of having kids, you need to read this anthology, it is worth it and I can't wait to read more. (hint hint Jeremy, start planning the next installment please)


My Eclectic Bookshelf

Friday, December 9, 2011

Review: The Bull Years by Phil Stern

I received this book from the author himself...Phil Stern. Summary sounded interesting...then I saw the cover. Anyone who reads my blog knows what a cover whore I am....Now once you read the book you'll understand the cover...but first impressions made me say, " What in the HELL???"...

I know....I's not what you think's not.

The book is about a group of friends who met in College...this is the 90's generation. In fact..these folks are exactly my age now, and back then.  The main character Steve wants to write a ,"Big Chill" of the 90's so to speak. He contacts all the folks via phone and email and ask them to document their stories. It's interesting as they never get together as adults but they all document their own take on how life was.

The whole story leads up to ,"That night"...through 75% of the book, I was coming up with what ,"That night" would unfold...murder? Affairs?? Suicide?? WHAT?? It is clear that whatever happened ended the groups friendships completely. 

The book was well written, and held my attention. No aliens, sparkly vampires (gross- again- gross)...furry night creatures or secret agents. The book gave each characters story and view regarding the main event that ended everything. I loved how the description from each character was perceived differently from the next. Example.  First character would say something like, " I came in and said hello". Then the next character's summary would describe the first character as walking in the house and saying, " He came in and said what the F are you doing here!???".  Shows every one's perception and you just can't figure out whose is correct.

After I finished book at 6 this morning, yep, you read that right, I was mad.

First of all, I can give you a name of folks I knew that could fit every character in this book. I saw myself  in there too- I won't tell who...but I did. I was mad at my generation. Really, what have we done?? I don't feel like we were anything grand. I feel like we were the group that was told continuously , do whatever you have to be happy, do it. Bored with your spouse? Get out Job is boring? Quit. You deserve to be happy.

Life is messy ,confusing and damn boring. We are kids of the Baby Boomer generation (again, if I have to hear one more Baby Boomer praise themselves for this I may vomit). The Baby Boomers, who took out leases on their cars, bought cloths and houses they could never afford all in the sake of screaming, "LOOK AT ME!! I can keep up with the Jones's!"...harsh? Yeah...true? Definitely. We were the initial latch key kids.

I think our gen x crowd grew up to be the ,"what now?? " generation. 

Now, getting back to why I was mad after this book. During the days when I had these friends I thought it was good. I probably have romanticized the friendships over the last 20 yrs or so. However, do I see these people? Nope. Do I miss them?? Nope. This book brought back why. I don't miss the cattiness of the girls, the stupidity of the boys and the constant drama that was created basically because at that age we all felt so entitled. It's embarrassing to think back to that point..did I have fun?? Well, yes..but not all the time.

There is a character who had the most pathetic catholic parents. I was laughing out loud!!  I went to catholic school- 10 yrs. My Dad was raised catholic, denied Catholicism but as all recovering catholics..the fear was always there. My Mom- new age, gravitated to what ever religion told her what she wanted to hear . I didn't have the catholic pressure at home...but at school..that was another thing. Now, I did have friends who had these parents...names not mentioned, but one Madonna music cassette (infants- look it up) Like a Virgin- got tossed in the trash compactor by God fearing parent in 7th grade....So I felt the character's frustration and the need to rebel against it.

None the less, this was a great book.  I am anxious to hear what other's think.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Help: A Review of the Book AND Movie

A modern classic, The Help has been a cultural touchstone for the millions of readers who have cheered on Skeeter, laughed with Minny, and hissed at Hilly. The noble and strong Aibileen has become a heroine for countless fans whose letters have poured in from all over the world.

Now that description is from Amazon and doesn’t give you much to go on, but unless you have been living in a cave the last year, you have heard about this book. Set in the 1950/1960’s this is about a young white woman (Skeeter) who takes it on herself to write a book from the help’s perspective. The black maid’s perspective. (or maybe that should say colored, or African  American, whatever is currently considered PC) This was something that at the time was dangerous, you see it wasn’t allowed for coloreds and whites to interact socially, was seen as wrong to consider the help a friend. Yet the white society thought nothing of the maids raising their children and taking care of their homes.

Being that I am young enough to not have gone through this time period, reading this book got me all worked up, rooting for Skeeter and wanting to strangle Hilly at the same time. I loved Aibileen and Minny and Mrs. Walters was a hoot. I feel so blessed to be living in a time where we don’t have segregation, we have civil rights, and it’s ok to smack someone who still believes in racism. (ok well it may not be legally ok, but morally it is) The color of our skin no longer dictates what our life will be.

The story is one many of my mother’s generation could probably sit down and tell you stories about, my mom actually did. When she was young they had a black woman who took care of her and some of the household chores because both her parents worked, so she can connect to this a bit more than I can, but I honestly don’t think anyone who reads this won’t feel a bit ashamed of how things used to be.

The book was made into a Movie and thanks to a coupon I had hubby pick it up the day it was released to DVD (as I haven’t seen the inside of a theater in many years) I have to say this is the best adaptation of book to movie I have seen in ages. I laughed, I cried, and I still wanted to ring Miss Hilly’s neck. (she really is a bitch) Very well done and sticking to the story with little embellishment, a true great addition to my DVD collection. Oh and just wait till Mrs. Walters gets back at Miss Hilly, laughed till I cried. You go girl!

So I suggest if you haven’t read the book or watched the movie, you do so. Then thank the stars that we no longer live in a society such as that.

5 stars from this reviewer!


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Review: Lust on The Rocks by Dianne Venetta

Today I am sharing a book that I received during the Blog Tour de Troops ebook tour in November, I was so excited to help support the event where over 50 authors offered books not only to each commenter but matched each book given to a commenter by sending one to a troop. Anyway needless to say I got quite a few books stockpiled on my Nook and will be reviewing them for you as I get them read.

The first one is Lust On The Rocks by Dianne Venetta.

Lust on the Rocks

She has what he needs, and he won't stop until he gets it. Trouble is, what begins as a matter of death, becomes a matter of life.

One case away from partnership, Samantha Rawlings is forced to share her high-profile case with a sexy younger man, whose eyes are on a different prize. In the best interests of her client, Sam opens the door to his strategy. Turns out, a little too far...

Victor Marin has ulterior motives. The defendant in her case holds the key to his revenge and his last chance for justice. But as he chases old demons, he uncovers a powerful woman with no inhibitions, one he wants to possess for himself. But decidedly single, Sam wants no part.

Until Vic walks away. 

This was a fresh breath away from my normal reading of paranormal romance and erotic romance.  Lust on the Rocks still got my engines going, but what I loved is the story that kept it all going. The "Lust" was a great asset to the story, but it's not what carried the story and kept me glued to my seat turning the pages. A strong confidant lead woman, an equally strong leading man made for a great set up for some hot sexual tension.

What I really liked about this book is that I was able to connect with almost all the characters in some way. The loss of a family member, a mistake I wish I could take back, anger,  the need for revenge, and more. Yup I loved this book. A roller coaster of emotions you can feel as though you are experiencing them yourself. If you like romance, drama, and a good court case, then go grab this one for yourself.

5 stars from this reviewer.

My Eclectic Bookshelf

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Next Author Spotlight with John W. Mefford

It's that time again, to switch the spotlight to another author. This spotlight goes to John W. Mefford and his debut novel Committed, make sure to check out the Author Spotlight page to get all the deets, but for now John has agreed to write a little something for today's post. I will let him take it away.

Little Victories
By John W. Mefford
I’m not the first, and I certainly won’t be the last. So, you can hardly call me an early adopter or trend setter. What stupendous feat have I accomplished that garners such an introduction? I am an author. Let me amend that a bit…I am a self-published author, better known as an “Indie.”
My new title became official on November 1…rather, 11.1.11, which is how I marketed the launch date for COMMITTED, my debut novel. That was one of many decisions I’ve made in the last several months. Some are known by many, some are only known by me.
Life as an independent anything can be dubious. Self-doubt is at least a minority partner, sometimes the lone voice echoing in my mind. Not about the big creative decisions, usually. Where to take a story, how to spice up a scene, when to toss a curveball into a plot…those are natural blood-rushers. I might have an internal debate, and I might change my mind a dozen times, but that’s what this writer lives for. It’s the 32 other decisions that need to be made, sometimes daily. It’s deciding for which of those decisions you absolutely need another voice. You have to pick your spots when you’re an Indie asking for favors.
When you initially cross the railroad tracks to the other side, away from the purebreads to the land of mutts, you have no idea what adventure is only steps away. One moment you can be gazing across the scenic valley and only see a lush tree line with jagged mountains acting as a perfect backdrop. It’s majestic, yet simple. On the very next step your foot slips like it’s lined with grease and you tumble down a 50-foot slope landing in a pool of mud (think of Michael Douglas in “Romancing the Stone.”) Once cleaned off, you see snakes slithering on vines, you hear strange noises, and the blossoming trees block out the sun. It’s a world of unknowns, where you realize you have to navigate it without any certainty of where you’re going, let alone if you’ll ever get there.
For many in this position, they flourish. They are independent-minded people who thrive when working alone. I’m only partially built that way. I have a need to not be mixed in with the herd of cattle, but my background is corporate America. I was a manager, a leader of people. I was the visionary, the one who could see the ominous clouds before most and create a path to success. I enjoyed coaching people and working as a team to accomplish any far-fetched goal.
But life as an Indie is different. On the very same day, I can be the role player, the grunt who sweeps out the garage, and the star athlete. While others provide loads of support, I am my own coach and my most fervent fan. There are no pats on the back, no raises, nor any bonuses or stock awards. In fact, my motivation has mostly changed. Sure, I hope to be able to sustain a living writing novels and maybe even slide into film. But each task I accomplish – large or small – I consider a little victory. I may be the only person who witnesses it, but I accept each little victory as a win for the home team…my team.
Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of good people out there…plenty. But early on, I couldn’t tell the difference. I was lost in a sea of misguided information. And with patience listed low on my virtue list, frustration set in on a daily basis. Yet as I took baby steps, I would receive an occasional helping hand or encouraging comment. And the first five-star review gave me the ultimate high. I re-built my professional psyche one brick at a time, personally taking ownership of every aspect of my new career. I positioned each clay block, threw some mortar on it and pressed on it until I believed it wouldn’t budge, allowing me to move on to the next brick and the next.
As a proud Indie author, I don’t holster a whip, and a little monkey isn’t snickering at my obvious puns, but I am a crusader carving out my own unique path, one little victory at a time. And I realize I’m not the last crusader…nor do I want to be.
I wanted to take a brief moment to thank all the readers who’ve provided this debut author some great early memories. I’m honored that you’ve given me the opportunity to move you…just as my first story moved me enough to craft it.
Speaking of stories, I’m more than knee-deep in Book Two of The Michael Doyle Chronicles. I still have some carving to complete, but I’m very excited about the new story, how characters will be pushed to their limits, and who won’t make it out alive. The book title is still a work in progress, but my tentative release date is March / April 2012…just around the corner in the literary world. Stay tuned. And if you haven’t had an opportunity to read COMMITTED, I invite you to take the plunge and enjoy the journey!