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Review – The Riddle of the Labyrinth – Margalit Fox

The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code
Author: Margalit Fox
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
When famed archaeologist Arthur Evans unearthed the ruins of a sophisticated Bronze Age civilization that flowered on Crete 1,000 years before Greece’s Classical Age, he discovered a cache of ancient tablets, Europe’s earliest written records. For half a century, the meaning of the inscriptions, and even the language in which they were written, would remain a mystery. Award-winning New York Times journalist Margalit Fox’s riveting real-life intellectual detective story travels from the Bronze Age Aegean–the era of Odysseus, Agamemnon, and Helen–to the turn of the 20th century and the work of charismatic English archeologist Arthur Evans, to the colorful personal stories of the decipherers. These include Michael Ventris, the brilliant amateur who deciphered the script but met with a sudden, mysterious death that may have been a direct consequence of the decipherment; and Alice Kober, the unsung heroine of the story whose painstaking work allowed Ventris to crack the code.

Review:
Over the last few years, I’ve been turning more and more to non-fiction books by choice when I find myself looking for new stuff to read. Its hard to describe why because growing up, I always avoided it like a bad smell (for lack of a better term), but I’ve discovered that non-fiction isn’t all that bad – especially, if its about a topic that catches my eye. This is probably a book I never would have discovered on my own, if it hadn’t been picked as a group read for a reading challenge that I frequently participate in – the Seasonal Reading Challenge on Goodreads (the specific reading category was “The Unexplained”).

For me, part of the reason I chose this over the 2 fiction options, was the idea of seeing how a mystery that existed for over half a century was solved. I remember going to see Stargate (the original with Richard Dean Anderson) when I was in high school – and seeing the process by which Daniel Jackson (the scientist) broke the code of the Stargate was probably one of the few parts of the movie that I enjoyed (not normally a huge sci-fi fan) – and since Riddle of the Labyrinth had a similar basis – I figured it was going to be an enjoyable read but I wasn’t prepared for how engaged I was going to be. I found myself attempting to sneak away and actually take a lunch break at work, so that I could read “just a little bit more.”

Riddle of the Labyrinth wasn’t a hard read – Fox has an engaging style of writing that was very personable for me – I felt like I was sitting with Alice Kobar in her small home as she worked on breaking the code. Although I will admit, reading about how she was treated by colleagues and others associated with breaking the code kind of irked me. I know that it was likely being that she was a product of the times – where women weren’t taken as seriously – but so many times, I just wanted to yell at the men to listen to her and treat her like the academic that she was (instead of like a secretary like she so often was treated as). Ultimately, the secret of the tablets wasn’t that profound – at the beginning of the book there was a hypothesis of what the tablets might potentially contain – seeing how that in part formed a basis for the research – made the anticipation of the mystery resolution all the more apparent.

I’m pretty sure that I will seek out Fox’s other book -her Goodreads page lists a book about a small town in Israel where the primary language is a form of sign language.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2017 in Book Review, Review

 

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Review – Hot on Ice Anthology

Hot on Ice
Authors: Avery Flynn, Robin Covington, Kimberly Kincaid, Nana Malone, Virginia Nelson, Xio Axelrod, Christi Barth, Andie J. Christopher, Kim Golden, Lena Hart, Desiree Holt, Robin Kaye, Katie Kenyhercz, Heather Long, Kate Meader, Angi Morgan, Susan Scott Shelley, Misty D. Waters

20% of royalties from sales of Hot on Ice will go to Homes for our Troops, a charity that builds specially modified homes for injured veterans.

Description:
Wow! Some of the hottest romance authors have banded together to write a hockey romance anthology for charity about a whole team of hockey players who win The Cup and fall in love in some hot, sexy stories.

Review:
Ok – now that I’ve finished fanning my face – because wowsers, i’m pretty sure Hot on Ice, may have melting the ice that the Cajun Rage played on when they won the cup. Pardon me in advance because I may go slightly fan girl during the course of this review (I mean, because with all these awesome authors – who wouldn’t!!). I will prefer this review with admitting that I always find it hard to write reviews for anthologies (especially ones with 18 different contributions) – because who wants to read a review that could run to multiple pages long…so I’m just going to hit a few highlights – but all I can say – is go and buy this book now! you won’t regret it (and if you do…well…ummm, yeah I got nada).

I love seeking out anthologies with multiple authors like this because its rare that a) I either know all the authors or b) all the authors are new to me – so I frequently get exposure both to new stories by old favorites (yes, I’m looking at you Kimberly Kincaid, Avery Flynn and Robin Covington) and well as new authors to check out (everyone that isn’t the afore mentioned 3 favorites!). For me the success of this anthology was the basis of how all the stories were partly inter-related – focusing around a championship winning hockey team and then each author taking their unique storytelling abilities from there.

Please don’t ask me to pick my favorite story in the anthology because I CAN’T! I mean, all things being equal – I can see myself going back and re-reading all the books in the anthology again in the future. So do yourself a favor, run, don’t walk to your nearest favorite ebook retailer and buy Hot on Ice!

Buy Links:
Amazon – http://amzn.to/2jFsJg8
iBooks: http://apple.co/2fOCS8g
B&N: http://bit.ly/2gC6ceJ
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2ggBnyg

Giveaway Link – click here to enter into a rafflecopter giveaway (chance to win a $25 Amazon Giftcard!)

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2017 in Blog Tour, Book Review, Review

 

Review – The Valiant – Lesley Livingston

The Valiant
Author: Lesley Livingston
Series: #1 in the Valiant series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
Princess. Captive. Gladiator.
Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king, the sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha, and the sworn enemy of Julius Caesar.
When Fallon was a child, Caesar’s armies invaded her homeland, and her beloved sister was killed in battle.
Now, on the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is eager to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her place in the fearsome Cantii war band. She never gets the chance.
Fallon is captured and sold to an elite training school for female gladiators—owned by none other than Julius Caesar. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon’s family might be her only hope of survival.
Now Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries and deadly fights—in and out of the arena. And perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her forbidden yet irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier.

Review:
A couple of months I received an email from Netgalley (as I do quite often) about a new young adult historical fiction book that was due to be released in February. Normally, I take a quick scroll through these emails but don’t pay a lot of mind – but this time something caught my eye – maybe it was a rather unique time period (ancient rome) or the cover that just showed a single young woman standing in a stadium – but I knew that if I didn’t request it, then I was going to ask my library to purchase it (which they so kindly did). Anyways, I had had a long week and so I curled up in bed with the pups one Saturday and pretty much read the Valiant in one sitting – which is something that I rarely do.

Ancient Rome is definitely not a popular time period in historical fiction, and a book featuring a female gladiator (gladiatrix) is even rarer (honestly – I can’t even think of a recent book featuring male gladiators). Fallon has to be one of the most kick-ass heroines I’ve read about in a long time – especially considering the time period that the book was set – where women were often seen as little more than chattle. From the get go, I knew that Fallon was a character that I was going to be drawn to – like many other well-known females in history, she bucked the traditions of her time, and pushed the boundaries of proper behavior.

While there were the undertones of a potential romance between Fallon and one of the Roman soldiers (or male of significant rank, I can’t remember exactly what his position was) – it wasn’t overwhelming (and thankfully there was no love triangle!). It was more of an adventure/coming of age than a romance – but I believe that is a second book in the works, so that could change. I know that I will be looking forward to reading it when it does come out. I wish in general there were more books set in time periods like Ancient Rome (or similar civilizations). The Valiant got 4 stars from me with a heavy recommendation for anyone who likes historical fiction with kickass female characters!

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2017 in Book Review, Review

 

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Review – Living Death – Graham Masterton

living-deathLiving Death
Author: Graham Masterton
Series: #7 in the Katie Maguire series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
DS Katie Maguire is at a loss. Last year, she and her team destroyed the biggest drug trafficker in Cork. So how is the city’s drug trade at an all-time high? Meanwhile, a spate of violent attacks which leave victims severely disabled has brought confidence in the Garda to an all-time low.

As Katie investigates, she realises that the two cases might be connected. Someone is using brain-damaged victims to smuggle drugs into the country. And the only way to find out more is to go in undercover…

Review:
Sometimes I want to curse my local library because of their awesome selection of new books – even when I just dart on it to grab something that I had reserved – I can’t resist doing a quick browse through the new book shelf and typically I end up adding one or two books to the epic Mt TBR. Living Death was one of those books that just caught my eye when I did a quick browse one day. I’m not exactly sure what it was that caught my eye because there isn’t anything unique about the cover that really makes it stand out – but it was a chunkier book and I was kind of in the mood for something longer – so maybe that was it…

Admittedly I didn’t check ahead of time to see if it was part of a series and I think I could have enjoyed it slightly more having read at least a couple of the previous books (since this was the 7th book in the series) – but honestly, the storyline was well-developed enough (with the exception of the background behind Katie’s Significant Others health issues) that I didn’t feel like I was missing anything significant. In fact, I thought Masterson did a solid job of getting into the dark underbelly of the drug smuggling world and the length that some people will go to get drugs into a country. Because, damn, there was some seriously sick/depraved characters in this book – it actually made me cringe a few times.

I’ll admit that i’m curious enough about both how Katie ended up in the position that she was in in Living Death and also where she might go in the future – that I am definitely going to check out my library for the rest of the books in the series. I know that Graham Masterson could easily end up as an auto-read author for me if his other books are as dark and depraved in places as Living Death. A solid 4 stars from me.

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2017 in Book Review

 

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Review – Scythe – Neal Schusterman

scytheScythe
Author: Neal Schusterman
Series: #1 in the Arc of a Scythe series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery: humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now Scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

Review:
There is no doubt in my mine that Neal Schusterman writes some of the most through-provoking YA dystopia that I’ve read in recent years. It might not be as viscerally blood and gore like the Hunger Games; but he manages to impact the reader in ways that will make you cringe just from the power of the writing. There is one scene from his first book that I read (Unwind) that to this day makes me shiver when I think of it. When an advertisement for his newest book, Scythe, popped up in my Goodreads feed – it was a done deal that I was going to be getting my grubby little paws on it (and huge thanks to my local library for having such great librarians who buy awesome books like that).

What would you do in a world where there was no death? no cancer, no car accidents? where you could opt to reset your life and start over? where if you did “die” (or go splat) that your body would heal itself? that is the world that Schusterman has written about in Scythe. Yet, in any kind of world, there must be some form of population control and that is where the Scythe’s come in. Scythe’s are those special people who have been trained in the art of taking lives – do they do it by poison, or by beheading, by stabbing or some other form of death. There are even Scythe’s who specialize in mass death…The first book in the Scythe series is the story of 2 teenagers who are apprentices to become a Scythe and their journey through the process.

In typical fashion, Schusterman raises many questions – the main ones for me focused around the idea of causing purposeful death? when you don’t call it murder in the societal sense. How would you pick who to kill? and in what method? how would you ensure that you aren’t focusing too much on any specific gender/race/religion when choosing your victims? In between the training that the apprentice Scythe’s undergoing, is the hint of a revolution in the core of the Scythedom – there is a reason behind the quote – ultimately power corrupts ultimately (John Dalberg-Acton) – what is more powerful than holding the life and death of an entire world in your hands?

I will admit that I was left with many questions after finishing Scythe – but that just means, I’ll have to wait impatiently for the next installment. If you are looking for a thought-provoking dystopia with death being forefront, then Scythe might be the book for you.

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2017 in Book Review, Review

 

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Review – Crossing Hearts – Kimberly Kincaid

crossing-heartsCrossing Hearts
Author: Kimberly Kincaid
Series: #1 in the Cross Creek series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Book Won in a Giveaway Held by Author

Description:
Hunter Cross has no regrets. Having left his football prospects behind the day he graduated high school, he’s happy to carry out his legacy on his family’s farm in the foothills of the Shenandoah. But when a shoulder injury puts him face-to-face with the high school sweetheart who abandoned town—and him—twelve years ago, Hunter’s simple life gets a lot more complicated.

Emerson Montgomery has secrets. Refusing to divulge why she left her job as a hotshot physical therapist for a pro football team, she struggles to readjust to life in the hometown she left behind. The more time she spends with Hunter, the more Emerson finds herself wanting to trust him with the diagnosis of MS that has turned her world upside down.

But revealing secrets comes with a price. Can Hunter and Emerson rekindle their past love? Or will the realities of the present—and the trust that goes with them—burn that bridge for good?

Review:
So I actually read Crossing Hearts close to a month ago – it was officially the first book that I read in 2017 but since it had a release date of today (which means, Happy Book Birthday dance), I decided to wait to post my review. But as in typical Kimberly Kincaid fashion – I just end up gushing over her books! I swear – I haven’t read a bad one by her yet and Crossing Hearts just made my heart go all squishy inside.

I’ve never hidden the fact that reunited love/second chance love is a favorite romance trope of mine – combine that with small town romance and rancher romance (with a women in a kick ass career) and yes – there was little that I didn’t love about how Crossing Hearts came to be. I will say that sometimes family drama in small town romances kind of bugs me and Emerson’s family kind of ticked me off a bit – but at the same time, since she wasn’t all the forthcoming with her medical issues – I don’t blame them entirely either. It is proof positive that bad news only gets worse over time – especially when it is being withheld from people who love you.

One of the things I have always appreciated about Kimberly’s writing is the level of research and detail that she incorporates into her stories. I’m not sure who she worked with to get all the details on being a physical therapist, or how MS affects the body – but you could tell from the writing that she was able to meld the information that she gained from different sources into such a well-developed, well-rounded character. And as for Hunter…well, what wasn’t there to love – former high school athlete, willing to sacrifice his dreams to stay at home to help his family out – yeah, i’m gushing. I can’t wait for the next two books in the series and to see his brother’s HEA’s!

4.5 stars for Crossing Hearts and unfortunately not, I have to start the tedious wait time for a new book by Kimberly (which just sucks!)

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2017 in Book Review, Review

 

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Review – Dirty Like Us – Jaine Diamond

dirty-like-usDirty Like Us
Author: Jaine Diamond
Series: #.5 in the Dirty series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Author

Description:
Maggie Omura has never been a gambling woman. As assistant manager of Dirty, the hottest rock band on the planet, she brings order to the lives of four crazy-ass rock stars.
But when the band lands in Vegas, a streak of bad luck lands Maggie in a bind–and in the penthouse suite, with the last man she’d ever want for a roommate.
Zane Traynor, lead singer of Dirty. Rock god. Sex god. Total nightmare for women.
And the only man who’d make Maggie a proposal so insane it just might work.

Review
A couple of months ago, I was given to opportunity to review the first book in Jaine Diamond’s Dirty series and enjoyed it so much, that when she offered me the chance to review the prequel for the series I agreed. While a short read (it only took me an hour or so to read), I was sucked in (while is probably why it was such as quick read). This is technically the prequel of the series, however, the author recommends that you actually read books 1 first to get more of the vibe of the band and the characters in it.

I’ll readily admit that I honestly don’t entirely remember Zane from Dirty Like Me, aside from the fact that he was the lead singer. Probably because I was so obsessed with Jesse and Katie…anyways – Dirty Like Us is Zane and Maggie’s story and like true rock star fashion…what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. One of the things I’ve discovered that I like about Ms Diamond’s writing is her ability to make the reader feel like they are in the setting of the book – I felt like I was in the hotel room with Zane partying and with him and Maggie hooking up in Vegas.

While a short read, it was a complete story with a happy ending. Overall, I gave Dirty Like Us 3.5 stars and can’t wait to see where Ms Diamond goes with the series next. Dirty Like Us is currently available as a free read through the authors website (click on the title link)

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2017 in Book Review, Review