Reviews of what you should be reading next.

Month: December 2014 (page 1 of 2)

Beauty Mark by Jan Moran


I received this book from author Jan Moran in exchange for this honest review.

We find ourselves back in Beverly Hills with a story about Scarlett Sandoval, intellectual property lawyer and friend of Verena Valent, who we met in the first book, FLAWLESS. Scarlett is preparing herself for the finalization of a huge deal between Fleur of London (who reminded me of Lady Gaga) and High Gloss cosmetics. She is expecting to be made partner in a few weeks and has devoted her entire life to the firm. First one thing goes bad, then another, and those who she thought were on her side are against her. Her only comfort is with her long term friend Johnny, who works at the Beverly Hills Hotel with Lance, Verena’s boyfriend. Scarlett  is having trouble keeping platonic thoughts in her head, and things at her job are going from bad to worse. She has to make some serious decisions–but will they be the right ones?

Once again I was thrust into the world of the rich and famous. Luxury abounds on every page, from Gulfstream 550s to Louboutins. Moran’s vivid descriptions make me feel as if I’m enjoying each amenity, alongside Scarlett. The Spanish beauty is a smart and confident woman, full of class and sass, with no time in her life for romance, much to the despair of her mother. As things with her High Gloss (great name!) deal go bad, she realizes that there is more to life than work.

Scarlett seemed to be a stronger character than Verena Valent, and I enjoyed this story better. She is very independent and hot tempered (as evidenced in the scene on the plane in the beginning of the story) and thrives in a world dominated by men. The ending was more satisfactory to me than in FLAWLESS as well. I feel that Moran’s writing is showing more strength and depth, as she introduces us to the women in the Hostile Beauty world. The plot is something that is entirely believable, and there was drama and tension along the way, with enough plot twists that kept me reading and wondering how it  would all end. Johnny and Scarlett are a very well matched couple, and Moran shows us that hard work may be rewarded, in the sub plot of Johnny and Lance trying to open their own restaurant.

BEAUTY MARK is a patent- leather- shiny winner of a story, and I found myself pulling for Scarlett the deeper I got into the book. There are many great scenes, such as Scarlett exacting a small bit of revenge on her boss using a pen, and I can tell that Moran had a lot of fun writing this book. I’m eagerly awaiting #3 in this series, for sure.


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Doctored by Sandeep Jauhar

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This was another book I picked up at the library for myself, and I was excited to see the author of [easyazon_link asin=”0374531595″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”yes” popups=”default”]Intern: A Doctor’s Initiation[/easyazon_link] had written another book. This one is of a bit darker tone, as he talks about his struggle to keep focused and happy saving lives and battling insurance companies. The main focus of this book is money and cronyism: how much it costs for medical care, how much the doctors are getting paid, ways to circumvent insurance companies’ unwillingness to pay, and quid pro quo buddy systems where referrals are the goal.

Once again, as in other books written by doctors, this was pretty depressing. On page 11 Jauhar talks about how doctors are disillusioned:

In 2001, 58% of about 2000 physicians questioned said their enthusiasm for medicine had gone down in the previous five years, and 87% said their overall morale had declined during that time. More recent surveys  have shown that 30 to 40% of practicing physicians would not choose to enter the medical profession if they were deciding on a career again, and an even higher percentage would not encourage their children to pursue a medical career.

There are many reasons for this disillusionment besides managed care. An unintended consequence of progress is that physicians increasingly say they have inadequate time to spend with patients. Medical advances have transformed once terminal diseases – cancer, AIDS, congestive heart failure – into complex chronic conditions that must be managed long term.

So.  We have people living longer, restrictions placed on doctors by HMOs, pressure to make ends meet at home,  and doctors being forced to produce referrals in order to maintain the old boy network. That could definitely make anyone disillusioned. What’s scary about this situation is that people’s lives are at stake here. All anyone wants is to be able to trust their physician, that he will do no harm.

Jauhar tells his story, warts and all: he is frustrated at not being able to practice his own medicine, without having to network. His marriage is straining due to lack of money. He seems to be suffering from depression that is untreated. Personally, I would not want to be in the hands of a doctor that was being pressured on so many fronts. But Jauhar perserveres, tries to practice good medicine, and attempts to play the game. He marvels at the circumstance of a man, admitted to the hospital because of shortness of breath. During his 30 day, $200,000 stay, he was seen by SEVENTEEN doctors and underwent TWELVE procedures. He was discharged with only “minimal improvement in his shortness of breath” and “follow ups…with SEVEN specialists“.

As the book proceeds further, Jauhar discusses taking away the financial incentive to over test patients, and make suggestions on how to fix our beleagured healthcare system. His arguments are sound, and probably could only happen in a perfect world. I urge you to read this book, only if it will help arm you against unscrupulous surgeons and the overreach of the billing department.

The only problem I have with the book is that I wasn’t sure if Jauhar wanted to make it a story about him, or a general story about our healthcare. He will start off a chapter with a patient’s story, then end up talking about how it affected him and how frustrated he was,  then insert a dialogue he had with his young son. Then the next chapter will start off with personal thoughts and stories about how he was mentally checked out of his marriage, and suddenly mention a patient. There was also a  long part about him trying to moonlight, but not billing enough, not seeing enough patients, and not playing the game–but instead of trying to fix things, he seems to go into a vapor lock (that could be the depression) and let things just swirl around him and get worse.  He seemed to be very wishy washy here, and let his brother and father galvanize him into action by calling in favors and getting him money making opportunities. Nothing he did made him happy, and that whole middle section of the book was very depressing and drawn out. Eventually things get better at home for the author…..but our healthcare system stays broken.

This was a very illuminating read, and a good follow up to INTERN– we see how Jauhar grows as a doctor and becomes more self aware.  DOCTORED is a great book for anyone who thinks all doctors are millionaires. Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link asin=”0374141398″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”yes” popups=”yes”]here.[/easyazon_link]

Before Nightfall by Rachel Amphlett (plus a book GIVEAWAY!)

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Many thanks to author Rachel Amphlett for introducing me to this book!

It’s a fast paced action/romance about an executive who must undergo a hostage survival course before she can take a new job. The course leaves her a little scared, but confident that she will survive…..and who really wants to kidnap her, anyway? As the course draws to an end she finds herself developing feelings for one  of the instructors. Finn is the quintessential man: hunky, brooding, strong, confident; but seemingly not that interested in Kate. She is whisked off to Istanbul before they can say a proper goodbye, and that ends any opportunity for a romance.

However, her boss is involved in some shady weapons dealing, and that proves to be trouble. One day she is taken in broad daylight, as an accident is staged and blood is shed. She must struggle to remember her training and stay alive, for her captors only care about one thing: obtaining parts for a massive weapon that is intended to be used in a terrorist attack.

Kate blinked rapidly, a loud noise rousing her from unconsciousness.

She raised a hand to her head, a sticky warmth giving way to a steady trickle above her eyebrow. She looked at her fingers, at the blood, and then groaned.

She’d fallen into the recess between the front and back seats, her legs twisted awkwardly under her body. The car’s engine was silent except for a ticking sound. It took Kate a few seconds to realise that the noise came from the radiator as it cooled down, its contents dripping out through the engine block. She raised her head between the seats and gasped at the devastation to the car.

The front of the vehicle had crumpled under the force of the impact – she could see now that it had careened off the narrow street, stopping abruptly when it had slammed into the far wall of a building. A laundry line had fallen onto the windshield, coloured fabrics now strewn across the glass, shading the interior of the car and obliterating her view.

She frowned. The driver’s door was wedged open on its hinges, and there was no sign of Mick. Traces of blood covered the seat and windscreen.

She sensed movement behind her before the back door was wrenched open. Broken glass rained onto her shoulders. Rough hands grabbed her, pulling her upright, before they hauled her backwards.

Kate thrashed out with her hands and feet, knowing something was desperately wrong with the situation.

Voices, in the rough patois of the city, became urgent, their meaning apparent as another set of hands joined the first and wrenched her from the vehicle.

Kate cried out as her ankle caught and twisted against the door frame. Someone behind her cursed, and then leaned forward and jerked her foot until it was freed, before she was dragged from the vehicle.

She screamed as they passed the driver’s door of the vehicle. Mick had been dragged from the car, his body lying prone on the surface of the road, a bullet wound to his head. Blood and splinters of bone stained the pavement. Kate realised now what the sound had been that had woken her from unconsciousness.

‘Someone! Help me!’ she screamed. ‘Imdat! Imdat! Help!’

A hand clamped over her mouth, and a voice hissed in her ear. She only understood the inference – to stay quiet. The surface of the man’s hand scratched her skin while the scent of motor oil and salty water penetrated her senses.

She began to struggle, kicking out and wriggling in the man’s arms, twisting her head to check the windows and balconies that overlooked the courtyard. There had to be someone, anyone, at a window, wondering what all the commotion was about.

The courtyard remained silent, save for her muffled cries, the urgent conversation between her two captors and the sound of their feet scuffing the road.

Kate’s head snapped to the left at the sound of another vehicle travelling at speed. As it came closer, she bit down on her captor’s hand. He cried out, loosened his grip on her, and she broke free.

Moving as fast as she could with a twisted ankle, she limped towards the entrance of the courtyard and the sound of the oncoming vehicle. She ignored the shouts of protest from behind her and concentrated on putting as much distance as possible between herself and the two men.

The approaching vehicle changed down a gear, then appeared at the courtyard entrance – a silver people carrier with tinted windows. It slid to a halt, the rear of the vehicle filling the small lane and blocking Kate’s escape.

‘Oh no,’ she groaned, realising her mistake.

The side door began to slide open, the inside of the vehicle dark against the bright sunlight. Kate squinted, holding her hand over her eyes, then ran towards the back of the vehicle.

She began to squeeze her body through a small gap between the van and the wall of the building, using the vehicle’s fender to climb up. She turned her head at the sound of a shout, and her heart fell as two men climbed out the other side of the people carrier, rounded the back of the vehicle and smiled at her. She turned and checked over her shoulder, but it was too late – the other two men had caught up with her.

Hands encircled her waist, lifting her backwards.

Kate kicked out and screamed.

One of her captors cursed as her elbow connected with his cheek. He spun her around in his arms and slapped her across the face before pushing her through the side door of the van.

Kate blinked, shocked, and then screamed as a hood was lifted in front of her face before it was shoved over her head.

This can’t be happening.

She began to hyperventilate as rough hands gathered her wrists together, and she felt plastic loops push over her fingers, tightening around her skin.

She felt something soft over her mouth and nose and realised too late what was happening. She struggled one final time as the chemicals consumed her senses.

Her brain registered movement before she slipped into unconsciousness and the van accelerated away.

Finn is called to help rescue Kate, and while he is secretly hoping to see her again and be her hero, he is also haunted by the memory of a previous rescue situation: one where he lost the hostage.  He must put his feelings of self doubt aside and get the job done.  There are surprises and double crosses he didn’t count on, and all the while the clock is ticking on Kate’s life.

I don’t usually read books that have to do with terrorism/kidnapping/Middle East/weaponry; so I did some thinking before I accepted this for review. I’m really glad I did! The emphasis is more on the relationships and the intrigue than heavy political drama. The atmosphere is gritty and authentic, with detail so vivid I felt as if I were chained to the wall alongside Kate. The plot twists kept me riveted and I felt invested in the whole Finn/Kate romance. Each character had sufficient backstory, and the suspense was perfectly created–I was drawn in and could not wait to see what was happening on the next page.  Reading this was well worth my time.

Rachel Amphlett_web_4322


Amphlett has written other books in the thriller genre as well; be sure to visit her website and see if any will interest you.

Want your own copy? We are offering a GIVEAWAY just in time to mitigate those post holiday blues! The author is offering TWO copies, either in e-book form, or a signed hard copy. Click below to enter.

If you are not one of the two lucky winners, click [easyazon_link asin=”B00KOAMTRS” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”yes” popups=”yes”]here[/easyazon_link] to purchase it.

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We’ve Always Got New York by Jill Knapp

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Thanks once again to author Jill Knapp for gifting me this book!

Amalia has returned from her trip to Brazil, and things are both different and the same. Cassandra is acting strangely distant, with no apparent reason why. Michael seems to be recovered from Amalia’s departure, since he has Angela hanging all over him. Olivia and Alex are on again, off again, NYC classes are as difficult as ever, and Amalia is trying to get accepted to a work study program. The one bright thing in her life is Hayden, who sweeps her off her feet and makes her feel special.

So why is she still hung up on Michael?

This book seemed a little less filling than the first one, kind of New York Lite. There is plenty of action, but it’s basic and what you would expect of 24 year olds–drinking, dating, drama. I did start disliking Cassandra for her bad attitude, and I’m very curious to see how the author explains her behavior towards Amalia. Olivia and Amalia have gotten a lot closer, and the book is told in both their perspectives; each chapter alternates with occasional overlapping of stories. New York looms large, as always, with familiar locations and hip restaurants described beautifully. Amalia seems more sure of herself, despite her confusion over the Michael/Hayden situation. You can see her maturing and thinking about her future, and not letting the drama rule her life.

We’ve Always Got New York purrs along smoothly until the ending, which is a CLIFFHANGER! Knapp knows how to generate tension, and there was definitely plenty of this throughout the book, with breakups, arguing, and even a bar fight. Readers of this series will be eagerly awaiting installment # 3, and I will too.

Want your own copy? Click [easyazon_link asin=”B00OFLDTC6″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”yes” popups=”yes”]here. [/easyazon_link]


Flesh and Blood (Scarpetta #22) by Patricia Cornwell

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Thanks to the folks at publisher HarperCollins for providing this review copy!

I was dubious about reading this 22nd Scarpetta novel, as the last few were meandering, self absorbed, and boring. Thank goodness Cornwell seems to be back to letting action tell the tale, rather than have Kay muse constantly about how people treat her and how everything is a mystery. There is some of that here; Benton and Lucy seem uncommunicative at times, Marino is still angry, and Kay obsesses over how Marino describes her as cold and impersonal:

“You and me both,” Marino says as if something else is on his mind. “People shouldn’t get away with shit, I don’t care who they are.”

“Cold and impersonal,” I consider as if I’m amused but I’m not.

“I said sort of.”

“You’ve waited all this time to tell me that?”

“I’ve said it before including behind your back. You’re different now.”

“I was that bad back then?”

“Yeah and I was an asshole,” he says. “We deserved each other.”

Benton and Kay are hours away from flying to Florida for a week of vacation to celebrate Kay’s birthday when she is called to the scene of a shooting.  As she investigates further she realizes that this may be linked to other shootings, as the victims are all somehow connected to her. There is a sleazy insurance investigator that is stalking Scarpetta, a 14 year old drowning victim that needs to be autopsied, and bizarre behavior from a congressman’s trouble son. Eventually all this comes together to implicate Lucy as the sniper–she has the ways and means, and may be going off the deep end. It’s up to her own flesh and blood, Scarpetta, to get to the bottom of everything.

The book is certainly better than the last few, but not as good as the first 8 or so. That being said, there is plenty of forensic science, autopy action, and a long and complicated section on guns, bullets, ammunition loads, and computerized scopes that can give minimally experienced shooters an edge on accuracy.

I want to say that I figured out fairly early on who they were alluding to as the killer, but I won’t spoil it here. Suffice it to say that there was plenty of things to keep me interested, as all the subplots got wrapped up and the tension built. The last few pages fly along as Benton and Scarpetta go on a dive to recover evidence.  Just as I was relaxing and enjoying the last page—-BOOM! It ends on a cliffhanger; very out of character for Cornwell.  Not my favorite type of ending, but this is a good way to ensure that people will be salivating for your next book.

Overall, I did enjoy it, as the characters seemed to be more of their normal selves. For the Greyhound lovers, Sock is still Scarpetta’s faithful companion, and I enjoyed how she and Benton seemed at ease and still in love in the beginning of the book. Let’s hope Cornwell keeps the good stuff coming.


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“There Will Be Blood, Dust, and Love.” An Interview with Jerome Brown

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 12.31.47 PMQ: Calves in the Mud Room is full of authentic detail; the smells, the sounds, the struggle of cattle farming. How did you come to be so familiar with that little slice of Wade’s life?

A: Mostly from observation.  I didn’t grow up on a farm or a ranch but I grew up around all of that.  My grandparents were farmers and ranchers.   A barn that it is a home to horses has always been one of my favorite places.  I even like the smells.   That bittersweet mixture of mud, manure, urine, horsehide, hay and leather.  As for the calving sequences, l learned  a lot on a photo assignment I did for a magazine.  I also did quite a bit of research on calving as well.  The rest is just a hard wired memory of winter in snow country.  And all the hardship, heartbreak, beauty, and bliss it brings.


Q: Almost everyone in your book is an unsympathetic character. Which one was the hardest to write? Who was the easiest? Why?

A: Gosh, I hope they weren’t all that unsympathetic. I’m not sure about how to answer this one.   They were each difficult in some respect but easy in others.   The one that took the most work was probably Wade.  I wanted him to be authentic.  To despite all the crap that surrounds him, to at least try to do the right thing.  There were times that I was unsure of his path. I  also wanted his relationship with his mom to be honest. Glory was hard in that I didn’t want her to be totally one dimensional or cartoonish, but still be a self absorbed, spoiled brat.  The easiest to write was Rochelle.  Or at least the most fun. We’ve all encountered someone who is outrageous, flamboyant, rowdy and rebellious just for the sake of being so.   You just never know what’s going to come out of her mouth.  The grandfather was also a pure joy to render.


Q: Your author bio says after college you tried writing the Great American Novel, but couldn’t get past the Great American First Sentence. What was that book about, and how far did you actually get?

A: I started so many things but I just didn’t have much of a story to tell.  Or wouldn’t work at it long enough to uncover one.  I did finish a play and a screenplay but couldn’t get them produced.  They were flawed.  But great practice nonetheless.


Q: What would you like to think happened to Wade after the story ended?

A: I like to think that Wade keeps on keepin’ on.   That he doesn’t regress.   Goes on to college and grows into wherever that takes him.


Q: What’s your next project?

A: I’ve been messing with something I started a few years ago. It’s set in the early 1990’s.  The working title is Wild Horses. It’s about Shepard Moon, a Vietnam vet and possibly a former independent contractor for the CIA who is now putting in time as a US Marshall. He’s been sent to central Wyoming, where he coincidently grew up,  to find out who’s killing the wild horses.   There will be blood, dust, lust and love.

I hope you enjoyed our interview! Be sure to support great independent authors like Jerome, and pick up or download a copy of Calves in the Mud Room here!

Calves in the Mud Room by Jerome O. Brown (plus INTERVIEW and GIVEAWAY!)

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Many thanks to author Jerry Brown for gifting me these copies in exchange for this honest review.

Calves in the Mud Room is a study in contrasts; hard working teens and irresponsible adults, the haves and the have-nots, dreams and responsibility. Cows become angels, a boy becomes a man, and all the while, the winter wind howls and snow falls relentlessly.

Wade Summers is trying to borrow his mom’s car and finish his chores so he can get cleaned up for a date with Glory Schoonover. He’s done nothing but dream about her, and when she asks him to the Valentine’s Day dance at their high school, he can’t believe his good fortune. This may be the only chance he gets with Glory, she of the  “juicy fruit lips, dark chocolate eyes, honey streaked corn silk hair with the chamomile-lavender scent“.

As Wade is finishing up the evening feeding he sees a heifer off by herself, not interested in food, restless. His joyous anticpation of the evening quickly turns to despair when he discovers his stepfather’s cows are calving early, in the middle of a ferocious blizzard:

Not tonight, no, not tonight, please.

He finishes feeding and swings the truck back around. The snow etches an opaque curtain and he loses the isolated heifer. 

A black cow pie in the headlights sprouts a pair of legs and tries to rise. Wade hits the brake hard. The engine croaks. 

Snowflakes eat at the newborn. There’s no story of birth in the snow. No fluids, no hoof prints, no imprint. The mother could be twenty feet away but all he sees are shreds of snow. 


Wade’s stepfather is mean and useless, Glory’s moneyed family is condescending, and  Wade is a teenager with raging hormones. Nothing but adversity surrounds him, and Brown’s lyrical, flowing prose shows Midwestern hardscrabble life in a terribly beautiful way. Almost every page illustrates the despair of farm life lived just on the brink of bankruptcy, made tolerable by alcohol and dreams of a way out. Brown creates unsympathetic characters with ease, giving the reader authentic dialogue and spot on introspection.  Don’t let the simple plot (boy wants girl, simple things conspire against him) fool you—it’s told in a new light. The undercurrents of the subplots are telling and poignant also, and there are some unforgettable characters I’d like to know more about.

Is Wade forced to do the right thing because of the specter of his grandfather and the desire to rise above the bleakness? Or is Wade a good person deep down, regardless of his environment and dead end life? His character is revealed slowly, carefully, with information right in front of you, and plenty to see in between the lines.

What makes this book sing is the rolling, lyrical prose. Simple things like cows in a field, or detritus in a pickup truck take on a new light as Brown paints a picture on every page. Calves in the Mud Room must be read at least twice; once to see how things happen, and the second time to savor the words slowly, like a gourmet dish with its flavors perfectly blended.

This novella is truly a hidden gem that is a quick and lovely read. I loved it.

The author has generously donated a softcover copy of his book for a giveaway! He also agreed to be interviewed by us. Click here to read the interview. Use the box below to enter the giveaway!

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Don’t want to wait for the contest to be over? You can get your own copy [easyazon_link asin=”0615967507″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”yes” popups=”yes”]here.[/easyazon_link]




Doctor, Doctor by Merry Freer

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I found this book through my Twitter feed and the blurb made it sound exellent; so I downloaded it to my Kindle. The author Merry Freer said it was a “love it or hate it” kind of book.

Well, I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. I started to grow weary about halfway through, and then I started skimming, to see if I could get to some juicy parts. When I got to the 3/4 mark I gave up, with the reasoning that I have many other novels in my bullpen to get to, and life is too short to waste on bad books.

The story is based on true events; the author is manipulated and abused by both her boyfriend and her therapist. I didn’t get to the part that explains why the police were called to Mark’s (the boyfriend) house, but I really didn’t care either. See, the book starts off with the author waiting for the police to go to Mark’s house, and she feels guilty about it. The story then starts as a flashback–how she got a divorce, how her therapist helped her through the bad times, how she meets Mark, a handsome doctor–and then it just gets strange. Mark treats her well, then dumps her; the therapist offers to start seeing Mark, they get back together; the therapist seemingly tells the author “secrets” of what happens in Mark’s therapy sessions; and so on.

The first alarm bell was when I read about the unethical behavior of the therapist. Then I wondered why Freer would stay with a man that was so distant, manipulative, untrustworthy, and deceitful. I felt truly sorry for her, that she wasted her time with Mark when it would have been better for her to be alone. It seems like she was desperate and felt unworthy of someone better. It was annoying to me to keep reading about how she felt bad because of how he treated her, yet she was so in love with him and thought that things would become better somehow. Mark was a drug addict that cheated on Freer multiple times. Who would want to stay with a man like that? Maybe if I wasn’t so frustrated in her inability to get this guy out of her mind I would have kept going, but there was just a little too much of “I loved him so, why did he treat me like this? Why isn’t he calling me? Why is my therapist asking me to do this?” I know the idea of the book was that things were so off kilter, but I have no patience with hearing about how men take advantage of women. Since I didn’t finish the book, I can only hope that Freer has exorcised her demons and has found happiness either on her own, or with a real man who knows the meaning of love.

Want to read this yourself? Click [easyazon_link asin=”B00NO0VV7E” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”yes” popups=”yes”]here[/easyazon_link] to purchase it. Let me know what YOU think.


Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 12.27.15 PMHello everyone. My name is Michael Nail (on the right). I’m the webmaster here at Gimmethatbook. I make sure the website looks nice, runs quickly, and doesn’t blow up. I also run the giveaways, which means that I have the honor and exquisite pleasure of announcing the winner of the Judy Melinek book giveaway:

Congratulations @enterprise314! Your copy of [easyazon_link asin=”1476727252″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”yes”]Working Stiff[/easyazon_link] by Judy Melinek will arrive as quickly as our beloved United States Postal Office’s fastest rickshaw can reach you. Be kind, and give the poor fellow a drink of water when he gets to you.

As for all you unfortunate souls who didn’t win, don’t fret. At Gimmethatbook, there will always be another giveaway, another book, and another chance. As for those who didn’t enter, tsk-tsk. For shame. Enter next time!

Breeder by KB Hoyle (plus GIVEAWAY!)

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I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for this honest review. Check out the bottom of this post after you have read my review and enter a giveaway for signed copies of Breeder!



I love a good dystopian story, and Breeder did not disappoint. The first part, when Seventeen/Pria was living in the Sanctuary, reminded me of Brave New World/The Giver/1984. The second part reminded me of the Matrix movies, when they were living underground.

Breeder is set in the future, where the Unified World Order has set rules for everyone to live by, rules for propagation of the human race, and specific boundaries that everyone abide by. Only the genetically perfect can Breed, and they are considered “better” than others and treated as such. Breeders live in Sanctuary, and their duty is to Carry and create life. Their routine is carefully planned out, their diet and vitamins meticulously calculated, and as Seventeen/Pria tells herself, “My life is perfect”.

One day, as she is waking up from an unknown procedure, she comes in contact with an Enforcer, who asks her what her name is. This is forbidden, and she is suspicious. However, she is unsure if she dreamed this, since the Enforcer (whose name is Pax) is a man, and there are no men allowed inside Sanctuary. As time goes by, she becomes depressed and wonders when she will be able to Carry again. (Conjecture: her unknown procedure was an abortion and she is having an emotional reaction due to abrupt hormonal changes.) The encounter with Pax stays with her, and she is naturally curious – a trait discouraged in Sanctuary. She asks questions here and there, and this comes to the attention of Mother, the leader of Sanctuary and the Breeding Program. Seventeen/Pria must fight for her life, as the world that she knows and loves turns against her.

The second part of the book take place in a desolate, hostile environment, and there is suspense and some great characters to hate. Pria (no longer Seventeen) finds herself reviled by some and viewed as a means to an end by others. As her knowledge of what the UWO has done, she becomes confused and realizes just how naive she has been. It takes a really long time for her character to develop, but Pria truly comes into her own towards the end.

There is also a twist that I didn’t see coming, that made my jaw drop. It may be a cliche, but it was well utilized to further the story. No spoilers here–you need to read it for yourself.

The story seemed to be coming to an abrupt ending, and just as I was wondering how things were going to wind up, I found out that it was a cliffhanger and this is the first book in a trilogy.  AAAUUGGHHH! I’m not a big fan of the “multiple books” thing that is prevalent now, but this is no knock against the author. I’m not hating the player, just the game. Apparently I, along with a lot of Hoyle’s fan base, will be anxiously awaiting Criminal, the second book.

There really wasn’t anything to dislike about Breeder: the characters were multi layered, the dystopian world well thought out and described to a T, and almost all of the scenes were believable. This is not an overly scientific novel, and is a smooth read.

Here is an excerpt; Pax and Pria are on the run and have found a hiding place. Night has arrived and they are working out a plan for keeping watch overnight:

Silence, heavy and thick, falls between us. Awkwardness seems to creep up at unexpected times, and I wonder if it is always this way between women and men. I never felt awkward with any of my sisters, but whatever this is between Pax and me has a different feel to it.

“Anyway,” he says. “I sat against the wall over there.” He nods to an intact wall dividing the cabin into two spaces. “It’s not the warmest spot, but it gives you a good view of the access points without making you visible from the outside. Take this.” He hands me the Enforcer helmet.

“Okay.” I pick my way around the broken-down furniture and dried leaves. “So I just . . . sit and watch?”

“Keep your weapon ready,” he says. “If anything comes along, crawl over here and wake me up. But don’t worry—dawn is only a few hours off. I never saw anything other than a band of mule deer.”

I nod and settle against the wall, putting the helmet on so I can see. Pax lies down on his back right where I slept and falls almost immediately asleep. I watch his green-tinted chest rise and fall for several minutes before I remember I’m supposed to be watching the “access points,” as Pax called them.

Jagged shards of glass poke out from around the edges of the windows. The doorway gapes at me, a dark yawning hole that looks ominous even in the green glow of the helmet visor. A set of glowing green eyes outlined by a furry form with pointed ears stops outside the cabin and looks at me. Another coyote. I train my Air-5 on it and hold my breath, but it loses interest and moves on, its nose to the ground. I let out my breath. Hopefully that will be all the wildlife I see tonight.

Pax was right, it isn’t the warmest spot, but the cold air actually helps me to stay awake. Temperature, along with food and sleep, was highly regulated in Sanctuary so we never had to feel uncomfortable. As I think longingly about my warm bed in the dormitory, my head grows heavy and nods toward my chest. I jerk upright and stand to pace. I wonder how much time has passed.

Pax doesn’t even stir once in his sleep, but his eyes move beneath his eyelids. He must be having vivid dreams, like me. I suppose if his life has been as tumultuous as he’s painted it, he must have plenty to haunt his dreams.

How did I get here, pacing in the dark and cold in a structure well over a hundred years old with a weapon in my hand and meat in my stomach?

Just thinking about my stomach makes it growl, and I look around for the cook pot. It’s sitting on the hearth next to the embers of the fire, and I hope it’s still a little warm.

I pick my way over to it, stepping over Pax’s legs to reach it. Then I squat and lift the pot to my lips, testing the heat of the metal against them before taking a drink. It’s cool enough to touch, and I take several sips. The meaty flavor is still strange, but somehow satisfying.

Pax grabs my ankle, and I jump, spilling the broth.

“I’m . . . fifteen,” he says. “Fifteen . . .”

His eyes are closed and roving around beneath his freckled lids, making his golden lashes dance. I think he’s talking in his sleep.

“I know,” I say. “You told me you’re Enforcer Fifteen.”

“Fifteen,” he mumbles again. “Is . . . my . . . number.” His grip relaxes and his hand falls to the floor.

I let out a careful breath and carry what remains of the broth back to my spot against the wall. I’m not sure what that was all about, but I’d rather be out of his reach for now.

Want your own copy?  Click [easyazon_link asin=”B00PCDTM9A” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”yes” popups=”yes”]here[/easyazon_link]! Also, enter the contest below for a chance to win any of a bunch of great Breeder-related prizes!

Release Date: December 11 , 2014
Genre: Fiction: Dystopian
ISBN e-book:   978-1-61213-292-1
Available from: Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and TWCS PH
Everything about Seventeen’s life is perfect, from her genetics, to her home in Sanctuary, to her status as a Breeder in the Unified World Order. But all that changes when she meets a rogue Enforcer named Pax, who infiltrates Sanctuary and targets her for extraction from the Controlled Repopulation Program. Pax seems to know a little too much about her, and he plants dangerous doubts in her mind that accuse Sanctuary of hiding a dark secret, and that cause Seventeen to question everything she’s ever known.
When Seventeen’s life is threatened, she has little choice but to run away from Sanctuary with Pax. But for Breeders, contact with men is forbidden by law, and even the simple act of taking Pax’s hand is treason.
Mired in confusion, Seventeen travels with Pax to the outside world and takes the name Pria, the identity of her childhood. But she is far from certain she’s made the right decision when they discover an entire community of people who should no longer exist.
Seventeen, now Pria, is thrust into a position as a key player in a dangerous bid to bring down the Unified World Order. Meanwhile, Pax’s attachment to her and her growing attraction to him contribute to the ever-growing mysteries in her life.
Pria’s journey from a sheltered, naïve Breeder to a rebel agent requires not only external transformation but self-discovery. As her world crumbles, Pria must decide who she is and what she really believes.
But the truth comes at a cost, and uncovering it will require a greater treason than she could ever have imagined.
K.B. Hoyle is a bestselling author, a public speaker, a creative writing instructor, and a classical history teacher who uses her knowledge of the ancient and medieval worlds to pen speculative and fantasy tales for people of all ages. She has been married since the age of twenty to the love of her life, with whom she has four wonderful children. Find out more about her at
Praise for Breeder
"Breeder was anything but a let down. The characters were extremely well written, making me able to empathize with Pria and Pax and the situation they find themselves in. I kept turning the pages because I just had to find out what happened to these people and, to my shock, finished the book in a day! "  - Angela  Goodreads Review
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