Reviews of what you should be reading next.

Month: October 2014 (page 1 of 2)

Descent (Forgotten Origins #3) by Tara Ellis

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Many thanks once again to Tara Ellis for gifting me this book! I was looking forward to finding out if Alex, Chris, Seth, and the rest of the gang were able to save civilization. Book #3 of the Forgotten Origins trilogy is a dark, intense, detailed and emotional story, quite different from the first two books. Alex undergoes some heavy soul searching throughout, as she debates with herself about being strong enough to fight RA and his henchmen. The changes that the Holocene Virus has caused are beginning to upset her, and she is wondering if her friends still see her the same way. As the group of young adults prepare for war, they must ALL come to terms with the fact that things have changed, and may never be the same.

The story picks up after the Nephilim ship arrived on Earth. Alex and Seth are heading back to Senator Zane’s ranch on a motorcycle when a blinding flash of light illuminates the sky above them, and the motorcycle’s engine immediately stalls. The aliens have sent an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) to disable all the electronics, rendering everyone back to the 1800’s… electric, no cellphones, no cars.  The group finds out the Senator has been moved to an Air Force base in Great Falls, Montana, and must make an arduous trek there.

Chris is butting heads with Seth along the way, with the tension intensified by the fact that Alex can get into Chris’ head, just as she can “sense” the Shiners. The relationship between all three of them ebbs and flows, with lasting results. However, they must put their differences aside and unite against the Mudameere. There is violence and bloodshed, all of which wreak havoc with Alex’s psyche. As the story progresses, she is reunited with her relatives in the biodome under the sea, is transported aboard the Nephilim ship, and tries to reason with RA and the Elders. Can she do it? Will they be able to overcome an army of Shiners and discover a cure for the Nephi2 virus? As the group fights for freedom, many answers to the questions posed in the first two novels become evident.

I especially enjoyed  the development of Alex, coming into her own as a leader and a strong girl. The description of their journeys on foot and on horseback capture very well the tension and fatigue the characters were feeling, and there were plenty of “oh, NO!” moments as injuries were sustained and emotions were bared. Descent is not a sweet YA novel, but a dystopian tale, gritty and full of tension. Author Tara Ellis also raises some moral questions about stem cells and their potential, as the plot thickens. Perhaps the events in the book are not possible,in real life,  but you will certainly be forced to think about an America fighting against a virus, without modern conveniences, against an enemy that you never knew existed. Pride of heritage runs deep in this book, and so there is a moral to the story: keep family and friends close, learn to rely on yourself, and never compromise your beliefs.

Want to join Alex and her friends? [easyazon_link asin=”1502757214″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”yes” popups=”yes”] Complete your trilogy here.[/easyazon_link]

Also, if you haven’t already, download the Kindle reading app here.


The Cost of Cutting by Paul Ruggieri, MD

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The Cost of Cutting was a book I picked up for a pleasure read from the library. Ruggieri also wrote Confessions of a Surgeon, which I enjoyed very much. The difference between the two books is that Cost is mostly about the money, and directly blames healthcare/insurance/government for the woes of doctors, and Confessions is mostly about activity in the hospital; more medicine oriented.

Cost will preface each chapter with a medical case and then peel away layers, explaining what the patient needs, how he is supposed to pay for it, how much profit the hospital will make (or not), and then Ruggieri ultimately rails against the system. I found this style of writing to be both good and bad.

I’ll admit, I picked this book up to gain some insight into hospitals and learn more about medical billing. There were a lot more facts and figures about healthcare than surgery, and this made for a rather flat book at times. That being said, I did learn a lot of interesting and scary things, such as: medical equipment sales reps may be INSIDE the surgery suite, guiding the surgeon as he uses robotic arms or the DaVinci system for the first time! Also: Medicare and Medicaid pays such small amounts for hospital stays that doctors can “cherry pick” which cases they will take…or not. The needs of the patient fall by the wayside if that person has no insurance at all, and with the passing of the Obamacare /Affordable Health Act, hospitals are forced to give up profits to handle cases, thereby forcing doctors in turn to take cases regardless of patient needs or wants.

For example: A woman needs surgery, and her doctor sends her to a specialist. The specialist has operating privileges at 2 hospitals. The hospital accountants/powers that be are pushing more surgeries towards Hospital One for profit. thus the surgeon tells the patient she will be going to Hospital One. This woman is upset because she heard bad things about the place, a friend of hers got awful care, and refuses to go there. The surgeon is caught in the middle between his patient’s wish and his boss. In the book, the patient wants to go to her preferred place, Hospital Two, and the surgeon gets upbraided for it. He strongly advises the woman to choose Hospital One, and she does, reluctantly. I’ll let you read how things work out yourself…no spoilers!

This is not how I’d like my surgery/medical care to be handled–would you? And let’s not even get started on hospital billing–how obscure codes control how things are handled by the insurance. Medical billing is a lucrative practice, a long cry from the “old days” when a doctor would give you a handwritten bill. We have all heard about the $300 aspirin or $1000 bandage billed to someone who has been in the hospital.

Ruggieri offers up solutions on how to make things better, and explains why hospitals are all about profits instead of medicine. Even if you have no interest in medical stories, I urge you to read this, simply to gain more awareness of how to protect yourself should you need surgery. Leave everything in the doctor’s hands? The implications are truly frightening.

[easyazon_link asin=”0425272311″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”yes” popups=”yes”]Want your own copy? Pick it up here.[/easyazon_link]

Also, if you haven’t already, download the Kindle reading app here.

Interview with Ellie DeFarr (author of the Hera Hunter mystery series)



Ellie DeFarr is the author of two books in the Hera Hunter Mystery series:  [easyazon_link asin=”1491009195″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”yes” popups=”yes”]Haunting Memories from a Troubled Past[/easyazon_link] and [easyazon_link asin=”1500835463″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”yes” popups=”yes”]Melancholy Manor[/easyazon_link], which was just released September 6th. She is currently at work on her third novel, which you can read more about in this exclusive interview. Please visit her website at


Your author bio states you have a Master’s in a scientific field. Tell me more about how you started writing.

From the time I learned to read, there has always been a book waiting for me on the bedside table. Like so many avid readers, I dreamed of writing a book that would bring enjoyment to others, as so many books have done for me. That dream began to unfold with the embrace of the internet.

Instead of calling long-distance friends, I emailed them. Soon, I started each letter with a short story, usually an anecdote about some wild animal that had crossed my path. Eventually a good friend encouraged me to write a book, repeatedly. I tended to ignore his advice. Occasionally I sat down to write an outline of a tale that piqued my imagination, but I soon bored with the outline and abandoned it.

Still, the encouragement continued. Then one day I began typing on my computer without any previous thought for the story that was instantly unfolding. I realized then that this unfettered approach was more natural and rewarding for me. From that moment on I never stopped writing. And I never wrote another outline.


Describe your writing routine. What is a typical day in your life?

I write in the afternoon, when most of the day’s demands are met and my home and neighborhood are at their quietest. I am content when I write. But putting together a story does not come easy for me. I have to work at it. I turn on soothing music, so low that it cannot be heard outside the room. And I like a cup of coffee, sometimes a glass of wine, at my fingertips. I suppose these familiar comforts calm me and ready my mind to enter the story.

I write six days a week, allowing a day off for my mind to rest and engender new story ideas. Each day I write a scene, which will end up as six to eight single-spaced pages in the final book. Once the scene is written, I start at the beginning and carefully edit it. Each sentence must consist of the fewest words necessary to express its idea. And all words must be the most commonly used. I check for sufficient detail throughout the scene to plant pictures in the mind of the reader. I’m not talking here about page after page of description, but a couple sentences or a short paragraph to make the reader see what my character is seeing, and in that way make the reader feel they’re in the midst of the action.

I am finished for the day when the scene is clear, fast paced, and moves forward smoothly, while adding to the story. If there’s still time left in the afternoon, I grab a good book and let someone else entertain me, even if it’s for just fifteen minutes.


Did you intend the Hera Hunter character to be a continuing story, like the Nancy Drew mysteries you used to read as a child?

I love a good whodunit. I grew up reading them. And a mystery series featuring the same interesting characters is even better. Also, book series seem to be popular with readers. So yes, from the very start I wanted to write a continuing story.

However, I intend that each book can be read as a standalone story. The murder mystery is unique in each book. But each book will also continue one or two subplots that were seeded in the previous book. I think that the experience will be richer if the series is read in proper sequence, since it will provide a fuller background for each story. But reading the books in order isn’t necessary.


The inclusion of Lucky is so unusual. Not many authors give a dog a supporting role in a novel. Is there a real dog that you draw inspiration from? How did you choose his character?

I can’t imagine life without a dog. They need attention and affection, so I’ve always spent considerable time with my pets. It seemed only natural that my leading character, Hera Hunter, should have a pet and pamper it, too. I’ve witnessed with my own dogs most of the situations that involve Lucky. So, I’m drawing inspiration from all of my past and present pets. Also, dogs are so entertaining that they’re a useful means for adding humor to a tale.

My characters tend to come from the fringes of society. They are flawed. Lucky should be, too. He has to be small, so as not to be physically cumbersome to Hera, since he’s always with her. She can’t carry an eighty-pound dog while she climbs to a second-story balcony. And since he prefers to hide when danger is at hand, there must be plenty of places in his surroundings for him to squeeze into, not so easy for a larger dog.

But although he is timid, he is not a coward. In the first book, Hera is strangled from behind by a hired assassin who’s dragging her backward, denying her any purchase to fight back. Lucky attacks the man’s ankles, distracting him and giving Hera just enough opening to change the outcome of the assault.

This little dog will always come through for Hera whenever she needs him to.


What is next for Hera & Co? I can’t wait to read the next installment!

The third book of the series should be available around August of next year. In it a young runaway named Paperback Rose falls to her death. The police deem it a suicide.  But Calamity Jane, another street child, claims she saw someone with Rose when she fell.  Hera isn’t sure she should believe Jane, since Jane’s a known thief, pickpocket, liar, and peeping Tom. But when Rose’s mother hires Hera to find out what happened to her daughter, it falls to Hera to discover what evil is brewing in her town that would give reason for throwing a child off the top of a three-story building.

Cover Reveal and Sneak Preview! Jill Knapp’s new book – publishing 11/20/14

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Today we have the first glimpse at the cover art of HarperImpulse author, Jill Knapp’s next book, “We’ve Always Got New York”, coming out November 20th! This novel is book #2 in the “What Happens To Men..?” series, which is now available in paperback in Great Britain. The first book has gotten rave reviews, and has divided its readers into two groups. Are you on Team Michael? Or are you on Team Hayden?

[easyazon_link asin=”B00KKC43BA” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”yes” popups=”yes”]You can get a copy of book #1 here[/easyazon_link] – [easyazon_link asin=”0008122830″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”yes” popups=”yes”]and you can pre-order a copy of book #2 here![/easyazon_link]

 “We’ve Always Got New York” picks up after Amalia Hastings returns to Manhattan from her trip to Brazil to find that life has in fact gone on without her. Fresh off the plane, she is left feeling anxious and unresolved, left alone to pick up the pieces, and deal with the repercussions of choosing her own path over Michael. Amalia finds herself without an apartment, without a job, and starting to wonder if she’s even without a best friend!

Jill can be reached on Twitter at @JL_Knapp and on Facebook.

author Jill Mann

author Jill Knapp

Now here’s a sneak peek at the first chapter of “We’ve Always Got New York”!!


­­Chapter 1- Amalia


I could tell by the look on her face that she was expecting something from me. She was expecting something to be different. For me to be, in some way, changed.

I’m Amalia Hastings, and on August 20th at 9:17 pm, I was home.

Home. The word seemed funny to me because I didn’t have a home to go back to. I moved out of my apartment right before leaving for Brazil and after my friend-with-benefits, Michael, showed up at my apartment, asking me to stay. I hadn’t thought it through properly; I just knew I didn’t want to live in that apartment anymore. Before my trip to Brazil I packed up what little stuff I owned and put it in storage for when I returned, assuming I would deal with it then. Well, “then” has become “now”. So for tonight I was staying with my best friend Cassandra. Who was currently waving at me.

I knew what she wanted. She wanted stories. Juicy ones that involved hot hookups on the sand. She wanted to see pictures. Pictures of the places I went, the food I ate, and the hot guys I met. She wanted me to run up to her in a sun dress, hair braided and skin tanned, and explain, no, to pontificate, to her how life-changing my trip was. She wanted me to playfully link her arm around mine and gush about how amazing it all was. How I was changed forever. That I had a new appreciation for life, food, and music. She wanted me to tell her that I would never be the same.

But this isn’t the movies and I’m not Julia Roberts.

The florescent lights above me flickered, making the airport look dark and ominous. I looked down at my hand as I pulled my rolling suitcase across the sticky, tiled floor. Not even my hand had acquired a tan. Three months in the Brazilian sun and my skin remained as pale as ever.

Cassandra was looking right at me with wide, unblinking eyes. I walked a little slower.

For some reason I couldn’t pinpoint, coming off the plane felt like a surreal experience to me. Although I was relieved to have landed, and I wouldn’t have wanted to stay in Brazil any longer, I still wasn’t utterly happy with being back. I wondered if it merely had to do with the fact that I had no apartment to go back to and was feeling pretty untethered from not having a proper home.

There’s an old saying. I’m not really sure where it’s from or who said it first. Kind of the proverb equivalent of The House of the Rising Sun. It proffers, “Wherever you go, there you are”, and up until about one month ago I had no idea what it meant. But now it means everything. It rings in my ears like a scolding mother, repeating itself over and over again until I submit.

I finally stood face to face with Cassandra, who was grinning like a fool at this point. She was dressed down for the night, wearing a purple racer-back tank top that showed off her summer glow, jeans, and gold flip-flops. Her blonde hair was pulled into a loose, messy bun and her make-up was minimal, apart from the extra-shiny, coral lip-gloss she was wearing. She reeked of summer.

“Hey,” I offered, looking down at my sneakers. I wished I had more energy for her, but after ten hours on a plane it was all I could muster up.

Cassandra cocked her head to the side and smiled. Her hair swung back and forth and she popped her hip out like a model in training. She looked as fierce as ever, even dressed-down in comfortable summer clothes.

“That’s all I get? Get over here!” she said, pulling me in for a hug.

I hugged her back for a moment and then pulled away, overcome with exhaustion and jet-lag. I smiled at Cassandra. She smelled like a salty coconut and I realized she had probably come straight from Fire Island, a beach not too far from Long Island and just outside of the city. That explained the dressed-down attire, but not the lip-gloss. Unless, of course, we were going straight back there from JFK airport.

I looked back at the gate. Most people I knew hated airports, but I liked them. They offered a chance to escape. Get on a plane and in six hours from now you could be across the country. You could be in a different town, in a different house, with a different group of people. I think we all took that for granted.

I could go back to Brazil right now. Or I could go somewhere else. I’ve never been to Cincinnati; I wonder what it’s like there. Or maybe Savannah. I could definitely live in Savannah! I took a step backwards, away from Cassie. Back toward the inside of the airport. She just smiled.

“Very funny, Amalia!” she said through perfectly white teeth. “Don’t sneak away from me now. I’m so glad you’re back, I really missed you.”

Cassie threw her arm over me and smushed our faces together. She whipped out her iPhone and flipped the camera application around so the front lens could be used and snapped a picture of the two of us. Before I knew it, she uploaded the picture to Facebook with the caption “So excited, Amalia is officially home!”

Without glancing back, she walked a few feet in front of me and remained glued to her phone. The back of her Havaianas smacking onto her heels echoed throughout the now nearly empty hallway. I let out a long sigh that Cassandra didn’t hear and pulled my suitcase toward the exit. Yep, it was official. I was home.


Melancholy Manor by Ellie DeFarr (Hera Hunter mystery #2)

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Many thanks to author Ellie DeFarr for gifting me this review copy! This is book #2 in the Hera Hunter series.

Hera Hunter is a private investigator with secrets. She comes from a troubled past, which drives her to create more justice in the world.  I’ll admit, in the first few pages where the author introduces Hera’s friend, Gwen Oates, as a “cat burglar” in a completely not-tongue-in-cheek way, I was intrigued. Other colorful characters are Toby, who is her Man Friday and expert computer hacker; Billy, Hera’s sister, who owns a brothel; and Lucky, Hera’s faithful canine sidekick.

Lucky is an unusual addition to this book. I can’t recall ever reading any novel where a little dog was a part of a mystery–at least, not a book where it wasn’t dog-centric. Hera and Lucky travel around together, and he chimes in with a bark here and there to brighten up even the most tense of scenes. Kudos to the author for writing him in! As I read along I could easily picture him in my mind, and it was a pleasant image.

Back to the plot; two women are found dead in Hera’s home town of Centreville. A man named Kyle Dunham is accused–by his own sister Zoey– of being the murderer, and their mother hires Hera to discover who the real killer is (declaring Kyle innocent in the process). Kyle’s sister Zoey is a choleric woman, and her mood swings are legend.

There are a few subplots going, as well. A homeless man is seen in the park and looks uncomfortably familiar to Hera. Gwens’s mysterious new boyfriend is asking a lot of questions. And why are there ghostly voices emanating from the basement in the Dunham mansion?

The characters are written well and the dialogue flows. I was eager to see how everything was tied together, as sometimes I can figure out a mystery’s ending well before the book is finished. The author does a great job of bringing things together, while giving us Hera’s backstory and building up the characters without being intrusive.

As a reviewer, I am always reading 3 or 4 books at a time, and the ones I reach for first are the ones I’m personally enjoying. Melancholy Manor was one of those books. I was truly curious to see what would happen next. Each subplot had a purpose; too many books have things going on in the first third  and then you never hear from the characters again. Ms DeFarr’s minor characters are sprinkled throughout the entire story–some with a purpose, nefarious or otherwise; some are there just for color and depth.

The only issue I had was that there was a little too much written about people pouring coffee, choosing what to wear, or driving. Many times Hera was in her vehicle and each and every street name and turn was documented. That really doesn’t take a lot away from the story, but I’m just suggesting that the book could’ve been made tighter by cutting some of that out, as it seemed like filler to me. Otherwise, I have no other complaints about the writing style. All in all, I’m definitely recommending this book. You don’t need to read book #1: Haunting Memories From a Troubled Past, to jump right into Hera’s world, as there were no cliffhangers in that story–but why not? In a series it’s always best to start at the beginning.

Book Three of the Hera Hunter mysteries will be out in 2015, and I’m eager to see what Hera & Co will be up to. I’ll also be posting an EXCLUSIVE interview with author Ellie DeFarr soon–watch this space! In the meantime, why not [easyazon_link asin=”1500835463″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”yes” popups=”yes”]pick up a copy of Melancholy Manor[/easyazon_link]? You will really enjoy it.

The Last Encore by Julia Butler

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I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book is apparently based on a true story, regarding an obscure psychological phenomenon. I had not thoroughly read the synopsis and so I kept expecting the book to take a different path. On the surface it is about two people finding each other after a life of disappointment and struggle. The bizarre twist, however, is something that made me cringe.

Katherine Konovka is born with a special talent for music, and she is a gorgeous creature as well. She is married, unhappily, with two children that are her entire life. One day she encounters Daniel, a man a good deal younger than she is. Immediately they have a connection that is ethereal and intense.

Daniel has been searching all his life for a fantasy woman, one that appeared to him (or did she?) as he walked through a forest. He is unable to bond with a woman completely, and goes through life bereft and longing…until he meets Katherine. At that point, their worlds collide and they fall into an erotic and sensual whirlwind, each learning from the other.

Then, tragedy strikes, and events unfold which will affect both of them deeper than they could ever have imagined. I didn’t see the twist coming, and it was, as I mentioned above, cringe-worthy. I can’t tell more without spoilers. For those of you who will get to that point and want to stop reading–keep going. Trust me. It’s worth it to continue on.

This book held my interest and was fairly well written. There were a few instances of awkward/stilted conversation, and scenes that seemed to be written in haste. Other parts of the story seemed to go back and forth in perspective from the present time to the past, and I had to go back and reread a few paragraphs to figure it out. The characters seemed real, and very likeable.

The descriptions make it easy to see in your mind the character’s surroundings, whether it is opulence or poverty. The author shines in showing the reader, rather than telling. Whether it is emotion, room decor, or an outdoor scene, Butler’s choice of words is clear and appropriate.

There are bedroom scenes which are fairly explicit, but not annoyingly so. I’ve seen this book compared to 50 Shades, and it’s NOTHING like it. No BDSM, and the sex does not go on and on. It’s pretty tastefully done and complements the story line.

The Last Encore was a wonderful, quick, enjoyable read. I’m recommending it. Want your own copy? [easyazon_link asin=”B00L4ROTXC” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”yes” popups=”yes”]You can get it here![/easyazon_link] If you haven’t already, download the Kindle reading app here.

 Win Me That Book!

Is It You, Me, or Adult ADD? by Gina Pera

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Gina Pera, the author of the above seminal work on ADD and the causes of common problems in ADD relationships, was kind enough to give us five signed copies of her book to give away. We could just horde ’em! We want to. Instead, however, we’re actually going to be giving away one signed copy of Is It You, Me, or Adult ADD? by Gina Pera to each of 5 lucky entrants. All you have to do is enter your name and email! Contest ends November 12th, but don’t wait… enter now!

All you need to do is fill this out:

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Gina Pera is a leading authority on ADD and ADD relationships. Coming soon is an interview with the author herself, so keep your eyes plastered to this blog until then

Is It You, Me, or Adult ADD? by Gina Pera

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After I read The ADHD Effect on Marriage, I searched for similar books. This one kept popping up and seemed to be highly regarded, so I gave it the highest compliment I could: I purchased a copy.

This book is put together very well, and operates under the premise that ADD is not “so much of a disorder of attention as it is a disorder of self-regulation”, according to psychologist Russell Barkley, who wrote the foreword.  The theme of the book is the ‘roller coaster’ that both ADD’ers and non experience on a daily basis, and so the chapter headings are related to our favorite amusement park rides.  There are three parts; first, what is ADHD and how it affects you/your partner, second, what happens when you hit rock bottom and either decide to get treatment (or not), and three, how to succeed in building your relationship back with different strategies.

As you read, you get the sense that you are part of a support group, as you read other’s stories and get to know what lessons they have learned along the way. The difference between this book and the one I mentioned above, is that this goes into much more detail, with explanations as to WHY these things happen, and HOW to fix them. I found myself highlighting sections, seeing how there are common threads among ADD’ers and their significant others, and even learning more about brain function.  Each chapter contains a few ADHD Partner Snapshot graphs, which show the results of surveys taken from 162 responders.

There are chapters devoted to denial, medications, finances, therapy, co-existing disorders, sex, coping skills, and more. Understanding the spectrum of ADHD takes patience, time, and teamwork, and that is the author’s intent. Where The ADD Effect On Marriage told me about the emotions that ADD’ers experience, this book goes deeper. I learned in real people’s words how they dealt with frustration and despair, and how most (but not all) took steps to regain the love and trust they once felt.

I highly recommend this book, as it gives you strategies and sources for help, without being preachy or too glib. The book concentrates on getting help for both the ADD and non ADD partner, without being too touchy feely. Solutions for issues are discussed from all sides, and are eminently able to accomplish.

Interested? [easyazon_link asin=”0981548709″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”yes” popups=”yes”]You can pick up a copy here.[/easyazon_link]

Even In Death by Kristy Feltenberger Gillespie

Review - Even in Death by Kristy Gillespie


Many thanks to the author for gifting me this review copy!

Even In Death is a collection of 10 short stories, eminently readable. Her prose is achingly beautiful, as evidenced in this line from “A Fine Winter Day”: “Mark began to pluck the feathers off my innocence six years ago, when I was thirteen and he was twenty-one”.

Or this snippet from “What’s Really There”: “We live in the country, 300 miles from the closest beach, and yet their sadness crashes precisely like waves against the shore. My husband David and I felt their presence early on, within a few weeks of buying their home. At first it was tolerable, although a bit cramped: two people and three ghosts sharing 1000 square feet. But we got used to them; footsteps in the attic, windows creaking open in the dead of night, occasional sighs and sniffles, but that was before they started touching us.”

There is a bit of the surreal, of anger and love, of things that are just-not-quite-right in each of these little gems. It’s hard to tell a good short story without making the reader feel like they have missed something, or fumbling the ending and leaving the reader unsatisfied. Not here.  There is the right amout of detail, of character exposition, with nuances of language and color and emotion that grab you right away. Each story has its quirk, to make you think and to make you feel.

Which story didn’t I like? “What Caught My Senses”, a tale about a writerly couple in search of money, so they concoct a scheme to invite a group of authors to their villa under the guise of offering a writing retreat. Towards the end, there is a lot of activity and people just got jumbled up in my mind as I tried to keep track of who was doing what to whom. It was written as well as any of the other stories, I just didn’t enjoy the plot and how it unfolded. The fact that I didn’t like Katie and Mick, the unscrupulous writers, didn’t help either.

My favorite was “The Collector”, about a girl whose mother is a hoarder. Sammie describes her mom’s stuff as ‘collectibles’ to her first grade friends, until the kids discover for themselves that it’s just all garbage. Every time Sammie or her grandmother try to clean, Mom always distracts them with food or a trip into town. What happens to Sammie at the end is both sad and uplifting at the same time, while the essence of a hoarder mentality is captured perfectly.

I hope that Ms Gillespie has another book of stories in her. Want your own copy? You should! [easyazon_link asin=”0692228055″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”no” cloaking=”default” localization=”yes” popups=”yes”]Pick it up here![/easyazon_link]

Heritage by Tara Ellis


Heritage is book #2 of the Forgotten Origins trilogy, and it’s much deeper and more detailed than Bloodlines, book #1.  The story picks up about a month after the pyramids have been activated, and the state is under martial law. Alex and Chris must reach out to the authorities and try to combat the forces of evil. The journey is difficult, as they are being stalked at every turn. Is Alex truly safe? Will she become a Shiner? And what of the mysterious Seth, of the Mudameere? His path keeps crossing Alex’s, and she can’t help but notice how handsome he is. Are they really on opposite sides…..or is their fate predetermined according to ancient Egyptian history?

Author Tara Ellis has done well with the plot exposition in Heritage. There is a great deal of action, the character development is more thorough, and the reader will learn about history and ancient beliefs, along with a bit of conspiracy theory. From the Pacific Northwest to a biodome built under the ocean, Alex and her crew will race against time to save the planet and try to convince the Nephilim that the human race should not be annihalated.

Some questions are answered, and new questions are posed. Hopefully, the answers to ALL questions will be revealed in the third and final book, Descent, published September 30th.

Click here to get your copy of Heritage, and here for Descent.

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