gimmethatbook

Reviews of what you should be reading next.

Month: February 2017

Call Me Daddy by Kelly Stone Gamble

call-me

Cass Adams comes from a long line of crazy, and she fears passing that on to her unborn child. Also, she’s run over Roland and Clay’s surprise half brother Britt, landing him in the hospital. With her inner demons coming out to haunt her, she doesn’t know if she should keep the baby.
Clay Adams has his own decisions to make. His half brother shows up to tell him their father, Freddy, is still alive but needs a liver transplant. When Freddy blew out of town thirty-five years ago, secrets were buried. But it’s time for them to be dug up, because only then can Clay hope to lay the past to rest.

Call Me Daddy is a story of family, the secrets they keep, and to what lengths someone would go to protect them.
This sequel to They Call Me Crazy can be read as a standalone novel.

Thanks to the author for gifting me this book for review!

Cass Adams has run over a man in the street while driving home one night.  Little does she know that the accident will set things into motion that could destroy her family and everything she knows to be true about them.

Cass is still crazy, but a bit more grounded. Clay still turns to his worms for comfort, and Cass’ sister Lola is surprisingly big-hearted. Lots of great character exposition here; this is one of my favorite aspects of the book. We read about Roland’s family, learn about new additions to it (both welcome and unwelcome), and find out Cass is pregnant. Her ruminations on whether she would be a good mom or not are very touching and down to earth. She wants to do the right thing but she’s not sure if she has it in her. As a matter of fact, most of the characters want to do the same – there’s a theme here in CALL ME DADDY.

Each person has something that they need to do, and they all struggle with the decision. Events from the past are explained, and we get to learn more about evil dead husband Roland. Clay’s father, Freddie, is evil also – I hated him from the beginning. Fantastic work on the author’s part to create such a heinous and dislikable man! I was truly on the edge of my seat towards the end of the book to see what Lola and Clay were going to do about his “need”. Plus, I was prepared to start yelling at these fictional characters if they made the “wrong” decision.

Kelly Stone Gamble is an accomplished writer, blending dark humor, family drama, and oddball situations together in a way that is smooth and fascinating. It’s quite easy to become invested in the plot from the first few pages, and you will remain hooked until the end. It’s always a pleasure to spend time with Cass Adams, and I hope to see more of her soon.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up here.

 

MoonDust: Falling From Grace by Ton Inktail

moon-dust

Imogene never planned to become a lunar commando. Not before her ex broke her heart and left her jobless. Now she’d better learn fast.

Descended from animal-human hybrids built for war, combat should be in the young caribou’s genes. While Imogene is determined to master the moon’s harsh battlefield, war clouds are brewing on the planet below, and once the storm breaks no training can ever be enough.

A soldier’s first duty is to her country, but when black and white fade to dusty gray, the lines between friend and foe blur. As everything Imogene ever believed in crumbles, she must decide if some orders should never be obeyed.

 

Thanks to the author for gifting me this book in exchange for a review!

Part of the fun of being a reviewer is that I get exposure to books I never would have thought existed. MOONDUST is one of those books. The genre is called “Fuzzy Science Fiction” and deals with sentient, English speaking animals as main characters.

The main character is a transgenic caribou named Imogene, who finishes one stint in the military and re-enlists because she feels out of place at home. Imogene is extremely well developed and easy to become invested in. If it were not for the author’s noting of an ear flick, or a tapping hoof, I would have considered these characters fully human. I do wonder, however, if that is all you need to do for fuzzy fiction: switch one appendage for another and make mention of the species when the character first appears. In any case, I did enjoy reading about caribou and pandas, leopards and Labradors all playing together nicely. Well, almost. There is some rivalry between Imogene and another female due to the fact they are both crushing on the same guy, and there are some ethnic slurs pointed at the panda because his race is part of the creatures waging the war that is being fought.

The plot is extreme scifi/military fiction, which made things drag a bit for me. There is a lot of action and we see the characters being put in scary situations on the Moon, where they are fighting their battles. Animals get hurt, they die, the wonder at the futility of war just like humans do.

For anyone who loves military action, they will get a lot of enjoyment from MOONDUST. The science fiction is well written – I especially liked the scenes on the rocket as they were getting sent up to the Moon. Imogene’s thoughts and fears are those of Everyman and I could easily identify with them. As she was strapped in, preparing for takeoff, making nervous chatter with the soldier next to her – it all made sense to me, regardless of the fact that she was a fuzzy warrior.

The writing is smooth, with no awkwardness or loose ends. There are many plot twists and at times I wished the pace would have been quicker; but then again the author captures military life accurately with the alternating boredom and panic.

This was a fun departure for me, with the best part reading how these animals express themselves, with a wrinkle of a muzzle or a flick of a whisker. Excellent details that brought my senses back to the anthropomorphic characters!

Do the bad guys win? How many of Imogene’s crew perishes in battle? Is this a series? As usual, no spoilers here. Read it yourself – you can pick up your copy here.

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

happiness

Conventional wisdom holds that if we work hard we will be more successful, and if we are more successful, then we’ll be happy. If we can just find that great job, win that next promotion, lose those five pounds, happiness will follow. But recent discoveries in the field of positive psychology have shown that this formula is actually backward: Happiness fuels success, not the other way around. When we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive at work. This isn’t just an empty mantra. This discovery has been repeatedly borne out by rigorous research in psychology and neuroscience, management studies, and the bottom lines of organizations around the globe.
In The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor, who spent over a decade living, researching, and lecturing at Harvard University, draws on his own research—including one of the largest studies of happiness and potential at Harvard and others at companies like UBS and KPMG—to fix this broken formula. Using stories and case studies from his work with thousands of Fortune 500 executives in 42 countries, Achor explains how we can reprogram our brains to become more positive in order to gain a competitive edge at work.
Isolating seven practical, actionable principles that have been tried and tested everywhere from classrooms to boardrooms, stretching from Argentina to Zimbabwe, he shows us how we can capitalize on the Happiness Advantage to improve our performance and maximize our potential.

 

I was told about this book at a management seminar; almost immediately I ordered it from Amazon.

The author’s writing is clear and often self deprecatingly funny. He uses relevant stories to illustrate his points, and offers reasons that explain the “why” of why being happy makes things better.

Before I read this book, I was personally aware of a phenomenon in my own life: since changing jobs I was a lot happier, and things always seemed to go my way in that new job. This book seemed to be about my own life changes! We all have that mindset that “once I get this job, I’ll be happy”, and for me, it was the reverse. My job made me happy, and I had that spill over in the rest of my life. There were promotions, responsibilities, knowledge, and success for me. Was this all due to my happiness? Or was it my hard work that did it?

In any case; THE HAPPINESS ADVANTAGE should be required reading for anyone wondering how they can make their life better. Imagine a world where everyone was smiling at each other – Achor tells a story of how people became more engaged with each other as they took a moment to smile at and acknowledge their co-workers. This is similar to the management adage that the boss sets the tone of the office; if the boss comes in and is happy, the office is happy and more productive. This makes perfect sense and I’m quite sure this would work almost everywhere.

One of the great things about this book is that each chapter is a separate point. It’s easy to reach a chapter and then go out in the world to practice the tenets he puts forth. As  you get further into the book you will want to search your own life for signs of happiness, and then create more of it in your personal circle. It’s not a sappy self help book; it’s an encouraging way to look inward and understand the workings of your mind in such a way to truly make a change for the better.

Don’t have time to read? (Horrors!) You can also catch some TED talks with Shawn Achor – he is super personable and makes relevant points in an entertaining and thoughtful way.

You can pick up your copy here.

Dearly Ransomed Soul by April Taylor

dearly

Georgia Pattison, an early-music soprano with a nose for a mystery made her first appearance in the introductory novella Whistles After Dark. Now she is in action again in the first full-length mystery, Dearly Ransomed Soul.
Georgia finds herself in Worcester as a last-minute substitute soloist in the prestigious Three Choirs Festival. She also finds the body of Ariana Staithes, murdered in the cathedral immediately after her superlative performance as the Angel in Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius.
The method of murder speaks of deep hatred, but who would want this fantastic emerging talent dead? A lot of people as it turns out. And not just the musical ones. Her estranged husband? Her rival? A jealous wife? One of her blackmail victims? Is there anyone this woman has not alienated?
Superintendent Hamilton knows nothing of the musical world, but she does know this murder was planned and, Georgia, being a latecomer, is innocent. Hamilton is also desperate. The festival is world-renowned and she is in the spotlight and under pressure.

Against every regulation, she persuades Georgia to help her. For Georgia, the investigation starts as something of a crossword puzzle game, but soon she finds herself floundering in a mesh of confusion with suspects at every turn as the mystery deepens and her position becomes fraught with danger. Can she find the killer before the killer finds her?

 

Many thanks to Publishing Push for this review copy!

The world of murder mysteries can get a bit weary as the same-old continues. Not so in this unique story! The backdrop of choir singers makes it a fun and educational read.

The plot seems simple enough – a drama loving diva is murdered immediately after giving the best performance of her life. Almost everyone surrounding her has a motive, making the case rather difficult for the local police. Our heroine, Georgia Pattison, is willing to help out any way she can, like an operatic Nancy Drew. That is where the fun begins! Many characters provide red herrings galore, while the author gets to show off her considerable knowledge of choir singers and music. Georgia is no shrinking violet, and takes to her role like a duck to water (soprano to a solo?).

The descriptions of Worcester cathedral and musical terms force you to slow down and truly enjoy the writing. The author is keen to display the surroundings, along with Georgia’s inner monologues in a thoroughly enjoyable way. Definitely not the same-old here!

Best of all, Georgia is not one to hold back, either in word or deed. She plunges into the fray wholeheartedly, disregarding any danger she may encounter along the way. Other gifts for the reader are the many composers and songs noted as the book progresses. There are links provided in the e-book (quite thoughtful) so the reader can listen and learn to the songs mentioned. I thought this was an impressive way to make the experience multi-dimensional; as you listen to the music the story comes alive.

Brava! to the author for giving us a great start to this brand new series. You can pick up your copy here.

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