Impossible: A Book Review

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Title: Impossible

Author: Nancy Werlin

Genre: fantasy

TRIGGER WARNING:

sexual assault

Synopsis

“Lucy is seventeen when she discovers that she is the latest recipient of a generations-old family curse that requires her to complete three seemingly impossible tasks or risk falling into madness and passing the curse on to the next generation. Unlike her ancestors, though, Lucy has family, friends, and other modern resources to help her out. But will it be enough to conquer this age-old evil? “

Lucy is a high school student, an athlete, looking forward to her first school dance. Her dreams are shattered when the date ends in a rape. Lucy winds up pregnant. So far, it’s a pretty straightforward story. However, Lucy is not your average teenager. She’s a victim of a curse. She finds out that she’s got just 9 months to break the curse or another generation will have to suffer the same fate. She’s determined to save herself and her daughter.

I had mixed feelings on this book. I know that some readers objected to Lucy’s reaction to finding out she was pregnant, but I felt that it was a personal matter and her choice made sense given her situation. That doesn’t mean it would be right for everyone or that I thought the author was trying to say that it was right for everyone.

 

 

 

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Book Review – Flashback

The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Dr. Laura Schlessinger –

I would never have read this book if it hadn’t been chosen for my book group. Even now, I can’t believe I read this garbage! It should make for an interesting discussion!

The reason I gave it 1.5 stars is that she did actually make two good points (along with all the baloney).

First – your husband is not a mind-reader. Tell him what’s going on. Don’t expect him to guess and then be mad when he guesses wrong.

Second – if you are having trouble, talk to your husband first, then a therapist or clergyman. Don’t talk to your girlfriends. Male bashing is NOT the way to solve your problems. It may relieve a little stress and help you vent, but it will backfire and cause even more hostility. Your husband deserves your loyalty.

Other than that, I really couldn’t believe that this kind of stuff was being advocated in this day and age! For example, don’t expect your husband to help with the housework. After all, you don’t go to work with him and help him with his job, do you? (It’s not like women have anything to do besides stay at home and clean the house, right?) And don’t get too fat – you have no right to overeat. And don’t ever tell your husband no. He has a right to expect sex whenever he wants it.

As I talked the book over with my husband (of 26 years, almost. We must be doing something right!) we agreed that the most annoying part of the book is that she sticks men and women in these stereotypical gender roles and just leaves it at that. Men are big, dumb, simple creatures who basically want a hot meal, a hot wife, and a pat on the back. Women are supposed to be content to keep the house clean and please their man.

And yet, I see that other women have rated this book much higher than I have. What can I say? This is NOT the kind of relationship I want. It’s not the kind I want for my children. I want them to see a healthy partnership, where each partner is loved and valued as an INDIVIDUAL, not as a type, and where both partners are allowed, even encouraged, to express their feelings and desires and have them validated. Where there is a firm commitment to working together to solve problems when they come up, where neither partner is responsible for all the work in any category, but where flexibility is stressed. I DO NOT recommend this book in any circumstances. I think it perpetuates an unhealthy definition of marriage and if followed will cause a lot more problems than it resolves.

 


In this updated review, I want to include some information about the author. Dr. Laura Schlessinger is indeed a doctor, but not of psychology or social work. Her degree is in physiology. She is licensed in social work from the state of California, but only got some training in the subject.

She also had a conservative talk radio show that aligned with Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and the like. She’s had a messy personal life with directly contradicts the advice she gave in her column and show. She is an anti-feminist, in case you can’t tell. She’s also made anti-gay comments and racial comments, apologizing afterward, but with an air of “sorry you’re mad” rather than “sorry I said it in the first place.”

This was one of the most popular reviews I did at the time. It still makes me ill that she was able to profit from such negative and destructive advice. If you are hearing stuff like this, turn away. Marriage is a partnership between two individuals, not between categories or stereotypes. If you’re having trouble, talk to each other first, then to a credentialed therapist.

Blog Tour: White Water, Black Death

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Title: White Water, Black Death

Author: Shaun Ebelthite

Publication Date: September 5, 2017

Genre: Thriller/ Suspense/ Mystery

Book Description:

“A cruise ship is the perfect target for a biological attack”

These are the chilling words emailed to the Seaborne Symphony in the mid-Atlantic.

Magazine editor Geneva Jones has been sent on the trans-Atlantic cruise to help secure a major advertising agreement from the CEO of the cruise line Rachel Atkinson, but her efforts to win her over are curtailed by a mysterious crew death. Geneva suspects foul play. Rachel insists its suicide. A former investigative journalist, Geneva can’t resist digging deeper, but what she finds is far more devastating. There’s an Ebola outbreak on the ship, everyone is trapped aboard and Rachel is trying to keep it secret.

Geneva knows enough about Ebola to be terrified, but she’s also onto the biggest story of her career. As panic surges through the ship, she becomes fixated on a single question. How was the virus brought aboard? The answer is worse than she could have imagined, and the greatest exposé she’ll ever get, if she can only prove it.

My Review:

Aaron Atkinson is taking a cruise because his mom insisted that he come along. He doesn’t mind, of course. At least, he’s having fun until the storm hits and a waitress dies. They also rescue a stranded boat in the storm. Then the deaths on board start. Aaron can tell something is wrong, but he doesn’t know what to do. Meanwhile, reporter Geneva Jones is under pressure to both get the story and make the cruise line look good. She has the sense that she’s on to the story of her career, but is she being manipulated? Who can she trust?

The story is told from various POV, including Aaron Atkinson, adopted son of the CEO; a young housekeeper with a child; Geneva Jones, a reporter digging for the dirt; and the captain of the cruise ship. That lets the author tell the whole story, which would be impossible if you only followed one character. It made the book more suspenseful as I waited to see what would happen next.

I enjoyed this book, but I must say it didn’t make me any more anxious to take a cruise! The behind the scenes look at what went on, even when things went right, still made me realize how much the cruise industry exploits its workers. When things go wrong, it was truly horrifying. Normal food poisoning is enough of a trouble, but a real plague, with no way to get to safety – that’s the stuff of nightmares.

I had the chance to read this one for free in exchange for an honest review, but my opinions remain entirely my own.

This book is available for free from Kindle Unlimited right now or for purchase at the links below.

On Goodreads

On Amazon

Book Club This Month

51i-h33m4kL._SY346_ I’m so excited for our book club this month! Partly because I missed last month and I hate it when I miss, partly because it’s our Christmas book exchange, and partly because I picked the book this time! I loved it too. We’re doing Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller. If you haven’t tried this one, you’ve got to give it a read. Alosa is not your average pirate. She’s fierce and in charge. She’s got serious skills and a deadly wit. She definitely meets her match in Riden, first mate on his brother’s ship. The only question is will they both survive to give romance a shot? The ending is a great cliffhanger and I can’t wait for February’s release of the sequel, Daughter of the Siren Queen.

November Wrap Up

November is over, which to me means time to gear up for the Christmas holiday, take a break from NaNoWriMo and enjoy a little more balance in my life. Oh, who am I kidding. It means time to stress about presents!

But first, let me go over what I read this month!

Top Read of the Month!

I’m so excited about this one I can’t even hide it. I was trying to find something for my Book Riot Read Harder Challenge – more about that another day – and I found this one at my library.

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The Last Days of Ptolemy Gray by Walter Mosley. It was AMAZING. It’s about an old man living alone who meets someone who changes the end of his life. This is the first book I’ve read by Mosley, who’s mostly known for his mysteries featuring sleuth Easy Rawlins. This is not a mystery, just fiction and I’m giving it 5 stars, no questions.

The Case of the Deadly Doppelganger: A Review

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Title: The Case of the Deadly Doppelganger (Dr. Ribero’s Agency of the Supernatural #2)

Author: Lucy Banks

It’s only been a couple of months since his mother died and he discovered that ghosts and spirits are real, but Kester is part of a whole new life now. One with friends, sort of, and a father, albeit an odd one, and maybe even a girlfriend. He’s got a purpose too, working at a supernatural agency that deals with ghosts. Kester can open a door into the spirit world that lets the departed pass over. At least, he did it once. Now he’ll have to do it again – before anyone else is killed.

A malicious spirit is hunting down the residents of Lyme Regis and killing them in their homes. Kester and his friends will have to move fast and overcome some personal rivalries if they want to succeed.

I really liked this series when I discovered it last year and I was so excited to win an ARC from NetGalley for the second book. If you like funny mysteries or mysteries with a little supernatural aspect thrown in, you will totally love these!

Thanks to NetGalley for the chance to read this one for free. My opinions are all my own.

Flashback Friday

This column appeared earlier, but I’m sharing it again for new readers. Enjoy!

Title: Magician: Apprentice, Riftwar saga

Author: Raymond Feist

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Themes: hero’s journey, friendship, war, magic

Setting: Midkemia

Source: TBR pile. I found this one at the USB. It sounded appealing, very LOTR, with a young hero discovering his powers and a land on the brink of war, dwarves and elves all that stuff. It was the first in a series, so there’s always that hope that I’ll really love it and there will be all those other books to look forward to.

Story: Pug is a serving boy at the castle who was taken in by the duke. Now he has grown enough that he and other village boys his age are ready to become apprenticed and learn a trade. Pug’s best friend gets chosen to become a soldier, but Pug is unpicked until the wizard chooses him. Pug is willing, but has difficulty learning traditional magic. Still he is willing and brave, and discovers a frightening new enemy poised to invade all of Midkemia. At this point, we begin the journey to summon aid from elves and dwarves, and so on. The duke’s youngest son defends the keep against a determined invasion and we’re set up for the next book.

Pros: The setting is well done, and I like the various races. Yes, it is very much what you expect, with the dwarves living in the mountains, and beautiful elves and so on, but just because something is expected doesn’t mean it’s bad.

I liked Pug. He’s brave, clever, and well written. I liked most of the characters, in fact. Princess Carline has a nice character arc, going from spoiled little brat to a determined young woman in a convincing manner. Really liked the ship’s captain Amos Trask who enters the book toward the end. I’m guessing other readers liked him too, as he gets his own book later.

The villains! They are convincingly bad and I’m looking forward to finding out more about their story.

ConsThe length! My version is the “author’s preferred edition” which apparently means longer and with deleted scenes. But you know what? Editors exist for a reason. This is too long. And it’s not the length by itself that’s the problem. It’s the fact that the title is Magician: Apprentice and yet Pug is not even in the last 100 pages. Why is that? This is his book. I really liked the ending, don’t get me wrong, but it’s out of place. That should have been incorporated in the next book.

Also, for a book named Magician: Apprentice, the POV should have been solely his. Instead it shifts quite a bit. It was usually well done, but was unexpected and occasionally jarring.

I wanted more magic! I keep harping on the title, but wouldn’t you expect a lot of magic in a book about a magician and his apprentice? Sadly, there’s not much. Yeah, Pug studies some, but he only does one major spell! There’s no explanation of how magic works in this world, only that Pug is doing it all wrong. Come on, Feist, that’s why I picked up the book!

Finally, why are there only a handful of female characters in this book? It’s certainly an improvement over LOTR, but not by much.

Verdict: This is tricky. I don’t feel this is one everyone will enjoy. It’s a solid book within its genre, but it doesn’t transcend it in any way. But I did like it enough that I’m going to read the next one. I don’t think I’ll put it at the top of my list, but I do want to know what happens next. 3.8 stars

Traitor’s Masque: A Review

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gorgeous cover!

Title: Traitor’s Masque

Author: Kenley Davidson

Free on Kindle Unlimited

So you’re wondering what would be left of Cinderella without the magic? Turns out, a really great story!

Here’s the publisher’s summary:

Trystan has only two goals — to free herself from her stepmother’s household and to live her life on her own terms. But she cannot do so alone. In her desperation, she accepts the aid of a mysterious band of conspirators in exchange for her promise to help protect the kingdom. Trystan is uncertain whether her new friends can be trusted, but then she meets Donevan, a compelling and enigmatic young man whose face haunts her dreams.

Caught between her desire for love and the needs of a kingdom in turmoil, Trystan attends the Royal Masque, where she learns that her quest for a happy ending may have betrayed the man she loves. Plunged headlong into a nightmare of duplicity, espionage and intrigue, she will have just one chance at redemption, though she may be forced to sacrifice everything she’s ever dreamed of to prevent her kingdom from falling into the hands of a ruthless adversary.

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another great cover

I just found this one when looking for new Kindle Unlimited books – I love that program, BTW, so many great books for one price – and I found this one. I’ve never read anything by this author before but I admit to being a sucker for fairy tales. You might think I’d be too old for them, but even at my age, there’s nothing quite like a Happily Ever After.

It didn’t take me long before I was hooked! Trystan is a little bit of a brat at first, but I did like her. Really she’s just awfully young and self-centered at first. By the end of the book though, she’s really learned to be aware of the people around her and not take things for granted. As for Ramsey, he won my heart from the first. I loved this serious, responsible prince who just wants a few minutes privacy. Except this girl keeps crossing his path!

I liked the secondary characters as well and I’m so glad there are more stories out there. I will definitely be reading the next in this series and I see there’s even a prequel about Lizabeth, Ramsey’s aunt. I’m looking forward to reading them. You should definitely check these out!

Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life

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Title: Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life

A somewhat funny collection of short stories about Dahl’s time living in the English country side and some friendships he made there. If you only know him from his children’s books, like Matilda and James and the Giant Peach, then you’re in for a shock. The first story is about a cow he owned that needed to be serviced by a bull. Quite funny, but definitely not for kids! The last story about pheasant poaching was the funniest.

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Goat Castle: A Review

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. My opinions, however, remain my own.
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Title: Goat Castle: A True Story of Murder, Race, and the Gothic South

Author: Karen L. Cox

Summary:

In 1932, the city of Natchez, Mississippi, reckoned with an unexpected influx of journalists and tourists as the lurid story of a local murder was splashed across headlines nationwide. Two eccentrics, Richard Dana and Octavia Dockery–known in the press as the “Wild Man” and the “Goat Woman”–enlisted an African American man named George Pearls to rob their reclusive neighbor, Jennie Merrill, at her estate. During the attempted robbery, Merrill was shot and killed. The crime drew national coverage when it came to light that Dana and Dockery, the alleged murderers, shared their huge, decaying antebellum mansion with their goats and other livestock, which prompted journalists to call the estate “Goat Castle.” Pearls was killed by an Arkansas policeman in an unrelated incident before he could face trial. 

However, as was all too typical in the Jim Crow South, the white community demanded “justice,” and an innocent black woman named Emily Burns was ultimately sent to prison for the murder of Merrill. Dana and Dockery not only avoided punishment but also lived to profit from the notoriety of the murder.

In telling this strange, fascinating story, Karen Cox highlights the larger ideas that made the tale so irresistible to the popular press and provides a unique lens through which to view the transformation of the plantation South into the fallen, Gothic South.

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19st century Psalter. Isolated over white with clipping path

My review:

This was a great book to read this month. It reminded me that no matter how much I push the boundaries of probability with writing, TRUTH IS STILL STRANGER THAN FICTION! Seriously, I could not make this stuff up.

A faded Southern belle murdered during a home invasion, planned by a couple who live in a house full of goat crap?? Who would imagine that? And then to have them get away with the crime, but a random Black woman have it pinned on her? OK, actually, that sounds completely believable. Sad, but true.

As crazy as the plot is, the writer was constrained by what actually happened. I think where she excels is in building a picture of the characters involved. I felt so angry and sad for Emily Burns, the woman chosen to be the scapegoat for the crime. The sheriff never believed she had done it, but after the local police forced a confession from her, his hands were tied. Even then, she had to go to trial, but of course she couldn’t afford a strong defense, so she was found guilty by a local jury. The sheriff figured he was lucky to avoid a lynch mob, but Burns served 8 years for a crime she didn’t commit.

I really enjoyed this one. It reminds me a lot of The Devil in the Grove, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013. I read an ARC edition of this one, and there were some formatting issues, but the story was visceral and real.