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Reviews of what you should be reading next.

Category: Novella

Rosalind by Judith Deborah

There’s everyone else in the world. And then there is you.

World-class heart surgeon Dr. Peter Sutter runs his life with the instinctive precision of a master of the universe. But when he leaves the operating room, the only living thing waiting for him is a golden retriever. Then a chance encounter with an enigmatic woman changes everything.

Exploring the depths of Rosalind’s intoxicating body and captivating spirit, Peter quickly falls under her spell. Miraculously, the feeling is mutual.  But fate is waiting just around the corner. And it might be carrying a lead pipe.

Rosalind is a sensual, witty, moving story about the joy of real love, the surprise and delight of unexpected passion, and the transcendent power of human connection.

 

Thanks to NetGalley and the author for this ARC!

ROSALIND is a short, sweet story about emotions and life. The relationship between the main characters is heady and absorbing without being overly saccharine. I enjoyed reading about Peter and Rosalind so much that the ending really shocked me and made me think what I would do if I were in that position. The way the author presented the twist made it so much more anguishing than if she had done a great deal of foreshadowing. The book is so short that there isn’t much room for a lengthy buildup, but that is one of the more endearing qualities of ROSALIND.

The only fault I found with the book, necessary though it was to keep the plot captivating, was the fact that both Peter and Rosalind were two gorgeous, rich people with no care in the world. There were never any money issues, or instances of self-doubt (save in the beginning when Peter looks at himself with a critical eye as Rosalind goes off to the gym). The perfection was almost too perfect. However, perhaps that is what the author intended, to make the ending hit harder. If the characters had other struggles in their life, I may have thought the plot twist was par for the course. However, this could be a way of saying that despite money and looks, you never know what life is going to throw at you.

ROSALIND is a quick read with likeable characters and a thought-provoking ending. You can get your copy here.

 

The Crimson Shamrock by Michael Hughes

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A scotch-swilling DUI attorney, a cynical congressional staffer, and a retired bomb- sniffing German Shepherd are just some of the characters Chuck Wesson meets after he takes a travel assignment from his new boss, mysterious Silicon Valley entrepreneur Axel DeWilde. Chuck has been sent on a flight from San Francisco to Boston in order to demonstrate the Crimson Shamrock, a breakthrough portable communication device code-named the RedClove.
However, Chuck begins to suspect that all is not as it seems after a robber tries to steal the device at the airport, and his flight later has to be diverted to the Twin Cities after a threat is made. After his meeting is relocated to the D.C. suburbs and does not go according to plan, Chuck flies back to California to discover who and what are behind his travails.

Many thanks to the author for this review copy!

THE CRIMSON SHAMROCK is a fast paced novella that contains a lot of action. Chuck Wesson gets a job offer that seems too good to be true – all he has to do is carry a protoype to a meeting. Once he decides to complete this simple task, the fun starts. There are plane trips, motels, attempted robbery and mixed messages aplenty. Chuck seems to be ok with most of the confusion, even managing to score a one night stand along the way.

As the amount left to read in the book got less and less, I started wondering how the author was going to wrap things up. I’m not sure if that is a good or a bad thing – when your mind leaves the story and is allowed to wander to the amount of pages left. I’d prefer to be enveloped in the plot and not concern myself with how much is left.

The pace of the story ramped up even more towards the end, when Chuck finally has enough deception and takes control of his destiny. At this point I was super curious to see what the heck was going on!

The novella is an easy enough read, with some freewheeling characters that represent the excess of the wealthy entrepreneur. Chuck seems like a mellow guy who lets thing happen to him, rather than be in control of his life. There were a few scenes of him hanging out with his buddies that perfectly captured the bro-speak and hijinks that take place during a weekend out. Hughes’ gift for creating dialogue is  wonderful, and is often the funniest part of his stories.

I would have liked more background on Chuck; it was hard to become invested in the things happening to him. The action kept me reading, but he was a bit too passive and one dimensional for me. It was also hard for me to picture the mysterious device at the center of the plot; but perhaps that was done on purpose, given how it all turned out. The ending was satisfying, with a resolution I didn’t see coming. All in all, not a bad way to spend a few hours reading.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”1612967116″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

Dissolution by Lee S Hawke

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What would you sell yourself for?

Madeline knows. She’s spent the last eighteen years impatiently waiting for her Auctioning so she can sell herself to MERCE Solutions Limited for a hundred thousand credits. But when the Auctioneer fails to call her and two suits show up at her doorstep, Madeline discovers there are far worse bargains to be made.

So when your loved ones are in danger, there’s a bounty on your head and your entire city might turn out to be a lie… what would you sell yourself for?

 

Thanks to the author for this review copy! I had reviewed her other novel, DIVISION, so when she contacted me about this one, I immediately said yes. Hawke is a master of the dystopian genre, and this book is a wonderful, thrilling, well written bit of pleasure.

Madeline is a great protagonist: a girl coming to terms with the world around her, and losing her faith in things she believed were to be true. She is strong and capable, with a clear idea of what she wants from her life.

I loved the idea of the Auction – it almost seemed like a kinder, gentler version of Brave New World. As the corporations and their culture became clearer to me, I could easily imagine the future Hawke created. As in every dystopian novel, there must be the “others” – ones who shun the way of life and the rules. Madeline comes in contact with these, known as the corpless,  after she makes her escape, leaving the door open for a sequel. She learns that what she was told about these others is false, and is unsure who to trust – after all, there is a large reward for her capture that would have someone set for life.

The only suggestion I would have for the author is to share more details about the corporations earlier in the book – it was a bit confusing to see the names like MERCE and PERCO and DRAYTH without grasping the concept that they were all separate entities with extremely limited job offerings.

Other than that, I’d like to give the author kudos for writing a YA/dystopian novel without including teen angst and romance. Sometimes the science just has to stand on its own without dragging a love interest in there. Madeline can convey all the social commentary she needs to on her own, without being a lovesick teen.

The chapter with the river really made an impact on me. The idea of a city poisoning the water supply with chemicals, whether intentional or accidentally (due to poor care of the natural resources) seems truly apocalyptic. The description of what Madeline sustained after her near drowning was intense and thought provoking.

Other futuristic details include food with no taste (unless your taste sensors are on) and the ubiquitous collar that all citizens wear. This collar is used for some nefarious purposes, as the reader will discover.

DISSOLUTION was one of my favorite books this year so far. It’s extremely well written, and more enjoyable than HUNGER GAMES. Madeline’s world is not as dark as the HG one, but pretty close.

I’m hoping that there will be a part two to this novella, so I can see what happens to Madeline, and learn the future of the corporations.

This book is a must read! Go get your copy [easyazon_link identifier=”B01DEGTLGK” locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

 

Dear Clementina: Letters From One Border Terrier Pup To Another by Colin Burke

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“I was starting to doubt that I’d ever enjoy canine company again, and you being a twelve-week old Border Terrier pup like me made our meeting especially good.”

A chance meeting between two twelve-week-old puppies in a Manchester park leads to a series of letters from young Stanley to his new friend Clementina. Based on true events viewed through canine eyes, this work is a collection of that correspondence, and reflects upon the quirky world of humans, dogs and the interaction between the two.
With a comic perception that is perhaps only afforded to innocent observers, each letter stands alone as a testimony to Stanley’s efforts to comprehend the mysteries of life that confront young pups in their carefree progress throughout their first year. From human vanity to intrusive vets to pesky cats, from basic bodily functions to the high-blown appreciation of modern art, Stanley keeps Clementina in the picture as he steers his way relentlessly, if not always smoothly, through the challenges that life throws at him, culminating in his first birthday party.
In this deliciously humorous work, wittily illustrated by W.H. Mather, readers will delight not only in recognising their own pets, but also themselves and their fellow dog walkers. But you don’t have to be a dog-owner to appreciate Stanley’s letters as their comedy will appeal to everybody. And anybody contemplating getting a puppy should take advantage of Stanley’s wit and insight to help them in taking that fateful step of joining the ranks of the dog-owning fraternity. Pick up Stanley’s narrative and immerse yourself in the humorous, blossoming friendship of two adorable Border Terrier puppies!

Many thanks to Publishing Push for this review copy!

As a terrier lover I was quite eager to read this, and I wasn’t disappointed. Stanley is a curious and down to earth puppy, showing why Border Terriers are so lovable!

Stanley writes on a regular basis to his friend Clementina, describing household events and other adventures. It’s quite funny to read about things from a dog’s eye view (sock chewing, a trip to the vet for neutering, barking, butt sniffing) and it’s amusing to consider the stories as an accurate representation of a canine thought process.

Burke makes the little dog come alive with his stories – Stanley is a roll-with-the-punches, always cheerful puppy with a giant personality. It was so easy to picture him talking in the park with his other canine pals about chasing rabbits and squirrels.

Each chapter is another “letter”, detailing what has happened since Clementina and Stanley last got together. The reader never hears from Clementina, a tactic that places Stanley firmly in the reader’s mind as the sole voice. To me, this was a great way to write the book; having two dogs write back and forth may have increased the cutesy factor too high and made it into a caricature. The humans in the book have their actions and foibles magnified in a smile inducing way:  beer consumption, anger at chewed up socks, and long walks are all confounding things when seen through Stanley’s eyes. Human customs that are familiar to us all will seem new and foreign, accomplishing exactly what the author intended: just because we understand what we want our dogs to do, it may not be easy for them to grasp it.

Anyone who is thinking about getting a puppy should read this, so they will be educated and amused at the same time. Many Border Terrier owners will shriek with knowing laughter as they share Stanley’s adventures.  Stanley loves to jump up – maybe a bit too much; when his owners suggest a nice long walk he notes:

In fact I jumped a little too high, to tell the truth, and knocked Colin’s mug of tea out of his hand, but it only took him one minute to stop cursing and another two to change his soggy trousers, so no real harm done.

The novella can be read in a single sitting, or enjoyed bit by bit. The writing style truly reads like a series of friendly missives, and I could sense the fondness Stanley had for his best friend Clementina. The love Burke has for his real life dogs is evidenced on each page as well.

DEAR CLEMENTINA is a sweet, funny, and smooth read. Dog lovers will see bits of their own pup in Stanley, and love them a little more after finishing this book!

Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”B0167GYFJM” locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

 

Rosetta by Simon Cornish

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Damaged, enigmatic and beautiful, Rosetta could prove to be the key to unlocking a three thousand year old mystery that would shake modern science to its roots.

With the unexpected death of his old university professor, Graham Chandlers travels to Exeter for the funeral. He is surprised to learn the professor had a daughter, Rosetta. He is even more surprised when she performs a strange ritual at the funeral service. A ritual delivered in an ancient language that only a handful of paleolinguists, Graham included, would have a hope of understanding.

Already intrigued by Rosetta, Graham is drawn in further when he is left the professor’s journals. Journals that hint at a cover up concerning the professor’s last dig and a mystery for which Rosetta holds the key. But the more he learns, the more fascinated he becomes with her.

A highly readable novella woven from the thread of both romance and mystery.

Thanks to the author for gifting me this review copy!

I thoroughly enjoyed being immersed in the archaeological atmosphere of this novella. Right away you enter the world of Graham, an Exeter university professor who has received bad news: his mentor has passed away and Graham has been tapped to give the eulogy. His interest is piqued by the deceased’s daughter, who is known as a bit of a looney amongst the community. As he learns more about her personal life, he uncovers things that could either make him a pariah or a visionary.

Delightfully British and quite intriguing, ROSETTA is easy to grasp with comfortable characters and a plausible plot. What makes it crackle with tension is the discovery Graham makes; just off kilter enough to seem possible yet crazy enough to cause doubt. Both believer and non believer opinion is portrayed equally well; Cornish has done his research and envelops the reader by the usage of small but significant details, such as the potsherds and the ancient language.  His graceful story telling packs a large amount of plot into a few words, in a truly satisfying way. There is just enough going on to keep you hooked, plus there is a sprinkle of romance to add yet another dimension to the tale.

ROSETTA was a fantastic departure from my usual fare and I loved it. Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”B00THOCEXG” locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

 

Jess Under Pressure by E. Graziani

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You didn’t know? You seem like a perceptive, aware woman. You’re a doctor of psychology and sociology. You have a book on the bestseller list about women and coping – and you didn’t know?”

Dr. Jessica Britton’s life sparkles with the sheen of success and happiness. Her bestselling book, “Give More, Do More, Be Better!”, modelled after her own life experiences, inspires readers all over the world to achieve a perfectly balanced lifestyle that includes career, family, and happiness.

This happiness is shattered when Jess’s husband is killed in a fatal car accident, leaving Jess with the shocking truth that her perfect life was nothing more than a carefully veiled wall of illusion.

Consumed by grief for more than her dead husband, Jess unexpectedly leaves Toronto after a particularly grueling interview and finds herself in the small town of Gananoque.

Broken, impaired, and in desperate need of healing, Jess is rescued by Susie, who takes her home, and helps her deal with her situation by letting her know that no one has the perfect life, but everyone can work through their issues and come out stronger on the other side with the right kind of support.

Thanks to Jennifer at Morning Rain Publishing for offering me this book for review. You can visit the author’s page here.

Sometimes women spend their time tearing each other down, rather than building each other up. This book is delightful in that it shows strong women, bonding and spending quality time together,  in a real environment. Sure, there are those that delight in the character Jess’ fall from grace, but her new found friends give her the strength to ignore them and discover who she really is.

The first part of the book shows us Jess spending her time in the spotlight, talking about her book and the success it has been. Suddenly, her life spins into a tragic abyss: her husband dies and her children are angry and distant. Jess goes from the top of the world to the bottom, battling depression and self doubt. This could happen to anyone, and the author makes Jess a sympathetic character, someone who is able to help others easily but does not have the answers when it comes to her own problems.

I was quite touched by the love Susie’s friends showed Jess. There was a bit of shock, as Susie introduced the fallen idol to the group, but after a few false starts she was welcomed in and cared for. The scene where all the women shared their personal struggle was quite poignant–I could feel the love!

Graziani has composed a sort of self help book: by reading about the goodness of others and seeing how fictional Jess was able to heal herself, I was cheered up and had more faith in the human race. I know there have been many circumstances where strangers have been kind enough to care for someone struggling through a hard time, but this is such a good feeling way to read about it. The style is a bit different from Graziani’s other book, [easyazon_link identifier=”B00NMNQNOO” locale=”US” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]ALICE OF THE ROCKS[/easyazon_link], but just as readable. The plot is not too complicated, so the message and the intent shines clearly through.

I hope others are able to feel hope and positivity after they finish JESS UNDER PRESSURE. It starts out sad and bleak, but finishes strong. The message is perfect, without being too heavy handed.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”B00WN3NEK0″ locale=”US” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

 

 

 

 

Pilgrim by Terrence Atwood

 

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An exploratory probe is launched into space on a mission to investigate the possibility of extraterrestrial life. However, a cabal of military forces have covertly converted the probe into a weapon of mass destruction – arming it with a nuclear payload.
When the launch of the craft, code named PILGRIM,  goes awry, the probe crashes back on Earth and begins carrying out its mission – eradicating all life. It’s up to Catherine Tennison, an intrepid NASA scientist, and Army Colonel Walt Macken to capture and disarm the probe before it brings about Armageddon.

 

Thanks to author Terrence Atwood for providing this review copy.

Weighing in at a quick 146 pages, this is a quick and easy read. The plot is promising, and the tension starts fairly quickly, when there is a failure during the launch.  There is back stabbing, politics, and a murderous probe named PILGRIM, that immediately starts performing its mission as planned–except it didn’t land on the new planet as expected. PILGRIM landed back on Earth, and cannot be stopped.

There are portions of awkward dialogue plus some bad punctuation (most glaring is the use of capital letters and exclamation points to force home the point that this is WILD STUFF HAPPENING HERE!!). I also had to suspend my beliefs for a bit at times, that the military would acquiese to the demands of a NASA scientist (character Catherine Tennison).  There are also a few too many narrow escapes by Tennison and her companion Colonel Walt Macken, to make things ring true.

However, I did enjoy the science and implications of the story itself, even if the writing could have been a little smoother. The images of the rogue probe rampaging across bucolic areas were done well, and the juxtaposition of nature and technology was appropriately jarring. The possibility of the military doing something like this isn’t that far fetched, and the conspiracy theorists would love this book. I’m sure.

I think the plot would make a good science fiction film. As I was reading, I could picture the action in my head. That alone means Atwood did his job: making the reader visualize and become one with the story.

The author had some good ideas–with a little more character development and better editing, PILGRIM would be a 5 star read. I’ll give it 3 and a half. Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”B00UC7NRJM” locale=”US” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

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

[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”yes” align=”left” asin=”0615967507″ cloaking=”default” height=”500″ localization=”yes” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/31tDIS3QK4L.jpg” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ width=”312″]

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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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]

 

 

 

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