Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton

Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Published: October 1993
Pages: 306


Anita Blake may be small and young, but vampires call her the Executioner. Anita is a necromancer and vampire hunter in a time when vampires are protected by law—as long as they don't get too nasty. Now someone's killing innocent vampires and Anita agrees—with a bit of vampiric arm-twisting—to help figure out who and why. 

Trust is a luxury Anita can't afford when her allies aren't human. The city's most powerful vampire, Nikolaos, is 1,000 years old and looks like a 10-year-old girl. The second most powerful vampire, Jean-Claude, is interested in more than just Anita's professional talents, but the feisty necromancer isn't playing along—yet. This popular series has a wild energy and humor, and some very appealing characters—both dead and alive.


A mysterious stranger gave me a copy of this book when I was living in a van down by the river. He said it would change my life. I don't want to say he was right, but about 2 minutes after I finished reading the book, I got a call on the cell phone that I didn't even know I owned offering me a job as Channing Tatum's personal baby oil applier. And the rest is history. 

So the book itself got off to a really weird start. Like, I don't know why Anita Blake is a vampire hunter. It's not like Buffy who desperately needs to kill the vampire army that is being created in her hometown. Vampires are a protected endangered species in this story, so it's more like True Blood. I wanted to like her, but I don't like vampire hunters who don't kill vampires. If I was a vampire hunter, you better believe all those vampires would be dead, like dead dead. Stakes through the heart, garlic shoved in their mouths dead. 

I tried really hard to picture myself in Anita's shoes, and I think I succeeded...I'm not sure why she raises the dead and hunts vampires in boots with six inch stiletto heels, but I put myself in them (and then proceeded to fall flat on my face because I just can't do six inch stiletto heels anymore.) If I could actually raise the dead, I would definitely use that power to terrorize ex boyfriends for...reasons. I feel like that was a missed opportunity for Anita. 

Although the book was really just kind of meh for me, it DID change my life as promised, so it gets 3 out of 5 stars. 

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About the Author

Laurell K. Hamilton is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of two series that mix mystery, fantasy, magic, horror and romance. Her Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter novels from Berkley Books began with GUILTY PLEASURES (now a hugely successful graphic novel from Marvel - the first sexy paranormal comic ever!) and continues with the SKIN TRADE, number seventeen in the series, in which Anita's complex personal and professional relationships with a master vampire and an alpha werewolf continue to evolve. There are now more than 6 million copies of Anita in print worldwide, in 16 languages. Hamilton's Ballantine series features Fey princess and private investigator, Merry Gentry and there are now six novels exceeding one million copies in print. Divine Misdemeanors, the eighth in the series will debut October 29, 2009. She lives in St. Louis County Missouri with her husband Jonathon Green, daughter, one pug dog and one boxer/pug dog.

Alternate Reviews

If you would like to read some legitimate reviews of Guilty Pleasures, just click any of the following links.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

Author: Margaret Atwood
Genre: Dystopian
Published: September 22, 2009
Pages: 431


The times and species have been changing at a rapid rate, and the social compact is wearing as thin as environmental stability. Adam One, the kindly leader of the God's Gardeners--a religion devoted to the melding of science and religion, as well as the preservation of all plant and animal life--has long predicted a natural disaster that will alter Earth as we know it. Now it has occurred, obliterating most human life. Two women have survived: Ren, a young trapeze dancer locked inside the high-end sex club Scales and Tails, and Toby, a God's Gardener barricaded inside a luxurious spa where many of the treatments are edible. 

Have others survived? Ren's bioartist friend Amanda? Zeb, her eco-fighter stepfather? Her onetime lover, Jimmy? Or the murderous Painballers, survivors of the mutual-elimination Painball prison? Not to mention the shadowy, corrupt policing force of the ruling powers . . . 

Meanwhile, gene-spliced life forms are proliferating: the lion/lamb blends, the Mo'hair sheep with human hair, the pigs with human brain tissue. As Adam One and his intrepid hemp-clad band make their way through this strange new world, Ren and Toby will have to decide on their next move. They can't stay locked away . . . 

By turns dark, tender, violent, thoughtful, and uneasily hilarious, "The Year of the Flood" is Atwood at her most brilliant and inventive.


I stole my copy of this book from my local thrift store, because expecting someone to pay a whole twenty-five cents for a pristine copy of a used book (seriously the spine isn't even broken) is just asking way too much. I don't even care that twenty-five cents is like three percent of the purchase price, it's still too much. 

This book took me back to my youth and the year of the flood that I lived through. I remember that year, I mean, I don't remember exactly which year it was, but I remember the flood. It wasn't the '51 flood, no, I wasn't even the beginning of a twinkle in my daddy's eye in '51, this flood was much later and apparently far less severe, but I think advancements in technology between the 50's and 90's probably largely account for the difference in perception there. Anyway, back to the flood. School was cancelled during the flood. The river waters had risen so high that the bridge between Cottonwood and Strong City was impassable, cutting the school district in half-ish. The waterfall had disappeared, slight ripples in the water were the only thing that indicated where the dam was located. That week was probably the best week of the school year for most of my classmates. 

If times had been different, life back then would probably have been much like what is described in The Year of the Flood. We would have been fighting for survival against crazy cross-breeds that both want to be our best friends forever and tear us limb from limb. Survival of the fittest would have been the name of the game, and I would have been a goner. Thank goodness, times were what they were and there was just a little bit of water damage to deal with. 

I give The Year of the Flood 4 out of 5 stars. 

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About the Author

MARGARET ATWOOD, whose work has been published in over thirty-five countries, is the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. In addition to The Handmaid's Tale, her novels include Cat's Eye, shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize; and her most recent, Oryx and Crake, shortlisted for the 2003 Booker Prize. She lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.

Alternate Reviews

If you would like to read some legitimate reviews of The Year of the Flood, just click on any of the following links. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Time for Truth by Ted Cruz

Author: Ted Cruz
Genre: Political Memoir
Published: June 30, 2015
Pages: 400


The first book from controversial Senator Ted Cruz whom many consider the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016 Liberals love to hate Ted Cruz. The outspoken Texas Senator has a knack for getting under their skin. His quotable remarks - and even more, his principled stands on numerous national issues - have made him a political lightning rod and the most googled man in Washington. Indeed, his name has become a national punchline for liberals - he was even mentioned in a recent episode of True Blood. There is a simple reason Senator Cruz has dominated so much of the national conversation. Since his election to the Senate in 20 2 he has refused to go along with the established way of doing business in Washington. As a result, he has become a voice for millions of Americans frustrated with governmental corruption and gridlock. Telling the truth is a radical act in our nation's capital - a city dominated by empty promises, meaningless 'show votes,' and a self-protection racket designed to get politicians re-elected rather than heeding the demands of the American people. Cruz has told the truth - about Washington collusion, a corrupted political process, and the institutional barriers to actually fixing the enormous challenges we face. The book will tell Cruz's story as a Cuban immigrant's son who made it to the Ivy League, to the Supreme Court bar, and eventually the U.S. Senate. It's a deeply personal journey that begins with Cruz's father experiencing brutality in a Cuban prison and ends with Cruz's discovery that Washington has neither the courage nor the desire to preserve the freedom and opportunities that gave hope to his father, and millions like him. Pulling back the curtain on the backroom deals between Republicans, Democrats, and the lobbyists who keep them in office (instead of keeping them accountable to their constituents), the book will offer an inside look at what has gone wrong in our nation's capital. Cruz will argue that the need for change is urgent, and that the only way to bring about real change is to revitalize the Constitutional principles that made our country great. It's a book that will win Ted Cruz few friends in Washington. Then again, that isn't why he went there in the first place.


Ted Cruz wanted me to read this book. But I didn't want to. But I didn't want him in the presidential race. But I'm a good negotiator. A great negotiator. The best negotiator. So I negotiated. I negotiated better than Ted ever could. I negotiated that I'd read the book. AND I negotiated that Ted would stop trying to be a president. Because I'm the best at negotiatoring.

I read this book. And you know me. I love books. And this book was a book. And let me tell you. I loved it. It has words. And I love words. I know words. I'm really good at words. I am the best worder there is. No doubt about it. I am the best worder America has seen and with my wordering I will make America great. This book was great. Reading this book will make you great again. And I know a thing or two about how to be great. I mean look at how great I am. I'm really great. I am the greatest at being great. So I can tell you how to be great. Follow me and be great. Great.

10 Stars for ME!

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About the Author

Rafael Edward "Ted" Cruz (born December 22, 1970) is an American politician and the junior United States Senator from Texas.  
Bio from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Photo by United States Senate (Office of Senator Ted Cruz) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.*

*Bio from Amazon

I was unable to find any blog reviews of this book in my brief search on Goodreads, so if you really want to see some actual reviews, just go there. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Author: Lev Grossman
Published: January 1, 2009
Pages: 402


Like everyone else, precocious high school senior Quentin Coldwater assumes that magic isn't real, until he finds himself admitted to a very secretive and exclusive college of magic in upstate New York. There he indulges in joys of college-friendship, love, sex, and booze- and receives a rigorous education in modern sorcery. But magic doesn't bring the happiness and adventure Quentin thought it would. After graduation, he and his friends stumble upon a secret that sets them on a remarkable journey that may just fulfill Quentin's yearning. But their journey turns out to be darker and more dangerous than they'd imagined.


I have heard really bad things about this book from a friend whose taste I trust, so naturally when I found a copy of it at my local thrift store, I just had to buy it, almost out of spite because that's just how I roll. When I told her about it, she requested that I write a 5 star review for the book, so that's what I'm going to do (because one can only be so spiteful before they have to be a little bit accommodating.) 

In case you don't know, I'm a huge Potthead (I'm currently wearing a shirt that says "Don't be such a muggle.") I'm an even bigger fan of wizard stories than I am of chocolate cake and I AM the fat kid in that saying about the fat kid who loves cake. I was really torn about this book though. I wanted to love it because wizards...but at the same time, it always sucks when you really enjoy a book that one of your friends really didn't because it makes you question your entire relationship (and this friend and I are supposed to be getting married according to one of those tests that are always floating around Facebookland, so it's pretty serious). In the end, wizards won out. 

I was so caught up in this book that one night when I was drinking with my husband, I'm pretty sure I turned water into wine (although my husband might have just switched out my water for wine to get me drunk now that I think about it.) I'm definitely going to try some of the spells in my every day life and I really hope that leads to me finally getting into Hogwarts for real. 

Now I can finally watch the t.v. show! 5 stars. 

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About the Author

Lev Grossman is the author of the New York Times bestselling Magicians trilogy. The third book in the trilogy, The Magician's Land, was published in 2014 and was a #1 bestseller. An hour-long TV drama based on the series will begin airing on Syfy in early 2016.

Grossman has been Time magazine's book critic and lead technology writer for over a decade, and he has also written essays and criticism for the New York Times, Salon, Slate, the Wall Street Journal, Wired, the Village Voice and the Believer, among others. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and three children.

Alternate Reviews

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Martian by Andy Weir

Author: Andy Weir
Genre: Science Fiction
Published: 2011
Pages: 369


Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars' surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive — and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark's not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills — and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength – he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth.

As he overcomes one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next, Mark begins to let himself believe he might make it off the planet alive – but Mars has plenty of surprises in store for him yet.

Grounded in real, present-day science from the first page to the last, yet propelled by a brilliantly ingenious plot that surprises the reader again and again, The Martian is a truly remarkable thriller: an impossible-to-put-down suspense novel that manages to read like a real-life survival tale.

Favorite Quotes

"I'm sure Watney can stretch the food to last four extra days, malnutrition notwithstanding," Teddy said, looking to Dr. Keller.

"I'm on vacation," Rich said without looking up.

This was going to be rough and Annie knew it. 


Joood - Hooligan and Sofia the Great (both of Platypire Reviews) have been tag team nagging me to read this book for ages, and I've finally relented, but only because Joood promised to make me chocolate chip cookies. 

My favorite part about this book is Matt Damon. He's so dreamy, and who wouldn't love a man that can figure out a way to survive on Mars. This real life look into the life of the first Mars settler had me on the edge of my seat until the very end. I'm so glad the people at NASA worked so hard to bring Matt Damon back home again. Movies would have gotten way more boring if they couldn't have Matt Damon in them. 

While I was reading this book, I kept picturing myself on Mars, and it was bleak. Even though Matt Damon was there with me, we didn't have any Dr Pepper or Chipotle, and I basically wanted to give up (so that might have been a dream, but I'm not sure.) Even after reading the book, I still can't really imagine going through what Matt Damon went through on Mars. I really admired him before, but now I admire him so much more.

Overall I give The Martian 5 out of 5 stars.

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About the Author

ANDY WEIR was first hired as a programmer for a national laboratory at age fifteen and has been working as a software engineer ever since. He is also a lifelong space nerd and a devoted hobbyist of subjects like relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight. The Martian is his first novel.

Alternate Reviews

If you'd like to read some legitimate reviews of The Martian, just click on any of the links below. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

What Women Really Want From Men by June Stevens Westerfield

Author: June Stevens Westerfield
Genre: Self-Help
Published: March 15, 2016
Pages: 19


Are you a man that has ever wondered what women really want? Are you a woman who wonders if you want to much, or want something different than other women? 

Wonder no more. 

20 women give honest answers to the question "What do you want from the Man in your life?" 

How did this book come about? 
I’ve often watched TV talk shows or read self-help books where “experts” were expounding on healthy relationships and attempting to explain what men and women really want in relationships. Half the time the stuff is so ridiculous I think: “That is CRAP! No one asked ME!” That is where the idea for this book came from. It’s not a bunch of psychobabble. I asked real women to give me REAL answers about what they really want and need from men and relationships. 


I bought a copy of this book for my husband thinking that it would be like an instruction manual (which he actually reads and uses), but I was so very wrong. He read it, and now I'm thinking I'm not actually a woman (I'm not even sure if I'm a human being! On the bright side, that means I might be Superwoman.)

Since reading this book, my husband has started wanting to spend time with me and he's started talking to me more, telling me about his day and asking me about mine. And that's just really cutting into my reading time something awful. 

To make matters worse, he's started helping out around the house too, like doing dishes which is horrible because he loads the dishwasher all wrong and he puts the clean dishes away in all the wrong places. Then I basically have to tear the entire kitchen apart the next time I go to cook a meal, just to find my pots and pans. Don't get me started on how he screws up folding the laundry (for one thing, he folds the kids laundry instead of making them do it themselves, and if he keeps that up, they're going to start expecting ME to fold their laundry too, and that's just unacceptable.)

They always say you don't know what you've got until it's gone, and they are so right. I really wish I could go back to the way things were before I made my husband read this book. 

1 star. 

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About the Author

JUNE STEVENS WESTERFIELD writes romantic fiction with strong, confident heroines. Her non-fiction work includes collections of real life stories that help give other women a voice. In addition to writing, she runs two small businesses designing greeting cards and websites. When not working she can be found reading, making jewelry, or snuggling on the sofa with her husband and six furbabies binge watching Netflix.

*I was unable to find legitimate reviews for this book because it is fairly new and probably not one that really justifies spending hours upon hours querying bloggers trying to get a couple of us to actually read the book because self-help is kind of a hard genre to pitch to bloggers in the first place (but when I saw the title, it basically lit itself up in neon screaming for a satirized review.) But hey, you could always buy it (it's only 99 cents) and find out just how far off base my review is :) 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Imperfect Chemistry by Mary Frame

Author: Mary Frame
Genre: New Adult Romance
Published: April 23, 2014
Pages: 198


Lucy London puts the word genius to shame. Having obtained her PhD in microbiology by the age of twenty, she's amassed a wealth of knowledge, but one subject still eludes her-people. The pendulum of passions experienced by those around her both confuses and intrigues her, so when she's offered a grant to study emotion as a pathogen, she jumps on the opportunity. When her attempts to come up with an actual experiment quickly drop from lackluster to nonexistent, she's given a choice: figure out how to conduct a groundbreaking study on passion, or lose both the grant and her position at the university. Put on leave until she can crack the perfect proposal, she finds there's only one way she can study emotions-by experiencing them herself. Enter Jensen Walker, Lucy's neighbor and the one person on the planet she finds strangely and maddeningly appealing. Jensen's life is the stuff of campus legend, messy, emotional, complicated-in short, the perfect starting point for Lucy's study. When her tenaciousness wears him down and he consents to help her, sparks fly. To her surprise, Lucy finds herself battling with her own emotions, as foreign as they are intense. With the clock ticking on her deadline, Lucy must decide what's more important: analyzing her passions...or giving in to them?


I received a copy of this book in exchange for a tip on a horse. I swear that bastard was supposed to be a sure thing. How could I have known he'd come in 6th?

I've experience my share of imperfect chemistry in my time. My junior year of high school was the worst though. I actually got kicked out of chemistry after I almost blew up half the school (it was a small school.) Who knew you weren't supposed to mix potassium and water? Mr. Stiles stopped me before I started pouring though (thankfully), but that was my last strike. They probably should have kicked me out after Wendy ended up in the hospital from inhaling the noxious fumes I created with ammonia and bleach. It's actually surprising she's the only one that had to be hospitalized.

Imperfect chemistry can also be a metaphor for personal relationships, and I've experienced some of that too. To be perfectly honest, in my youth I behaved quite a bit like lithium, bonding with nearly everything. I don't regret it much, though, because eventually it led me to the dihydrogen for my monoxide. 

While I was not reading this book, I kept picturing Lucy as Dr. Sheldon Cooper with a wig (he's not a very attractive woman, but maybe I shouldn't have gone with Danaery's Targaryen blonde for the wig color.) 

Overall I give Imperfect Chemistry 3 out of 5 stars because metaphors are cool even though I'm not. 

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About the Author

Mary Frame is a full time mother and wife with a full time job. She has no idea how she managed to write a novel, except that it involved copious amounts of wine. She doesn't enjoy writing about herself in third person, but she does enjoy reading, writing, dancing, and damaging the ear drums of her co-workers when she randomly decides to sing to them. She lives in Reno, Nevada with her husband, two children and a border collie named Stella. To see what she's working on, you can follower her blog, Twitter, or Facebook. blog: marewolf.blogspot.com Twitter: @marewulf Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorMaryFrame

Alternate Reviews

If you would like to read some legitimate reviews of Imperfect Chemistry, click any of the links below.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Heckled by Valarie Savage Kinney

Author: Valarie Savage Kinney
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Published: January 8, 2016
Pages: 278


Drinking. Drugging. Cutting. 
Exxel Jensen has spent his life finding ways to rid himself of the Heckler, and failed miserably. 
On the surface, his future is bright: a beautiful wife, a child on the way, and a career he loves as a stand up comedian. 
Beneath the surface lurks the darkness: crippling depression, anxiety, and alcoholism. 
Helena Jensen has seen her husband spiral downward before and feels helpless to stop it as she watches him falling again. 
She would do anything to help him, anything to diminish the pain that plagues him.
Exxel knows she would, and he also knows she can’t. 
Because the person fueling his depression and addictions is someone she can’t see. 
And how can he explain the Heckler to anyone, when he doesn’t even understand it himself?


I sold my soul to the devil (Amazon) for a copy of this book. I think I got the better end of that deal because my soul was pretty tarnished by the time I handed it over in exchange for this sparkly new book. 

I wasn't sure if I would like this book because the authors name appears in a vomit green font, and I'm rather anti-vomit in my personal life. It definitely started the book off on the wrong foot for me. The good news is that my opinion of the book couldn't get much lower from there. 

I found Exxel somewhat relatable. The collection of empty wine bottles in my office is rather...extensive (but I swear that's mostly because I'm just a horrible housekeeper.) That was where our personal connection ended though. The character that I really connected with was, The Heckler. 

Yes, I too have been a heckler. I can't even count on both hands the number of stand-up comedy shows I've been kicked out of for heckling. I even sought help for my problem, but my therapist refused to see me after my second appointment because I heckled her too. I barely leave my house now because I'm afraid I won't be able to control the heckling. But I'm not sure I even want to anymore. 

Heckled gets 3 Stars. 

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About the Author

Valarie Kinney is a writer, fiber artist and Renaissance Festival junkie with a wicked caffeine addiction. She resides in Michigan with her husband, four children, and two insane little dogs. Author of Heckled, Slither, and Just Hold On, as well as the short stories Copper and Ailith in the KAPOW! anthologies from 7DS Books. Editor and narrator for Dragons of Faith.

Alternate Reviews

If you're interested in reading some legitimate reviews of Heckled, click any of the links below.