Monday, January 26, 2015

Book Review: Monarchs and Mendicants

Monarchs and Mendicants (Gifford Ulrich, #1)Monarchs and Mendicants by Dan Groat
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gifford has got to get out of downtown St. Louis to flee the Hacker, an assassin who for some unknown reason targets the local homeless population. After discovering his friend, Raphael, cut to pieces he takes Tobias, Raphael’s faithful dog, and heads south, toward Benoit. There he finds a community and even somewhat steady work at the local brick yard, but also danger. Has the Hacker been tracking him? Who does the Hacker work for and why is he following Gifford?

Monarchs and Mendicants is a thoughtful tale that looks at the plight of the homeless through Gifford, a Veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom and generally down on his luck guy. He is the homeless guy that no one likes to admit exists - not a druggie or a wino, or lazy, just trying to catch a break. You can’t help but be drawn to him despite his tough exterior, and root for him as he works to survive and eventually come out of his shell to do what he does best - fight for others who need a break too. As I live in the greater St. Louis area I was also drawn to the tales from home, and Groat’s description of the area is quite sound, although many of the names were changed of course. Mostly though, you are drawn to the plight of homeless in general, and if you assume that everyone is homeless because they choose to be you might find yourself questioning that assumption after reading it. I love literature that challenges assumptions, and Groat’s work certainly falls in that category. My one issue with the book was actually the cover as it screamed amateur. In this case, the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” certainly rings true!

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Please note, while there may be affiliate links or payment for reviews, all opinions are my own. You can't buy a good review from me, people. I am way too mouthy for that.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Ultimate DIY Bundle Sale on Now!

You guys may not know how creative I'm not, but it is a sad, true fact. The closest I come is the occasional digiscrap, and those are entirely template based. However, I know that many of you are the Pinterest goddesses I aspire to be, and good for you. However, for the rest of us, there is easy to follow tutorials with step by step instructions that use small words and short sentences for those of us busy, sleep-deprived Mommy types. There aren’t enough hours in the day, right? With work, helping the kids with their homework, preparing meals, cleaning up after everyone and putting yet another load of laundry on, there’s very little time for sleep – let alone DIY and crafting!

But do you look at that bare wall in the den and that tatty tablecloth on the kitchen table, and just wish you had a few hours to do something about them? Or do you browse through those wonderful crafting successes on Pinterest and think to yourself that “one day” you’ll have a few more minutes to yourself so that you too can create something incredible?
You’re not alone – there’s a huge community of people out there who are feeling just as frustrated as you are!
Thankfully though, there’s an exciting new product to help you quickly and easily get into (or back into) the creative projects you’ve been desperate to start. It’s called The Ultimate DIY Bundle, and it’s a collection of carefully curated DIY and crafting eBooks and eCourses from the world’s leading authors and bloggers in the industry.
For the crazy low price of just $34.95, you get access to a carefully curated library of over 76 eBooks and eCourses. And let me reassure you that this really is great value: the Ultimate Bundles team (who produced the resource) has spent MONTHS seeking out the most respected experts in the industry and asking them to contribute their premium-quality eBooks and eCourses. These really are the best of the best when it comes to DIY and crafting advice and information.
Topics in the bundle include:
  • Home decor
  • Furniture painting
  • Photography
  • Chalk pastels
  • Handmade gifts
  • Homemade skincare products
  • Cake decorating
  • Photography and photo-editing
  • Paint colors and interior design
  • …and a whole lot more (76 eBooks and eCourses in total) – to help you be inspired or get started with your next DIY or crafting project!
There’s no need to worry about information overload though: The Ultimate DIY Bundle comes with a complete guide to getting started, so that you can know exactly which resource to use for your specific crafting or DIY project and jump straight into it with confidence!

Hurry though! The Ultimate DIY Bundle will only be on sale for 6 days – from 8am EST on Wednesday, January 21 until 11.59pm EST on Monday, January 26.
You can buy with complete confidence because you’re covered by the Ultimate Bundles 30-day money-back guarantee. That means you have a full 30 days to enjoy all the eBooks and eCourses in the bundle, and if you don’t think they provided enough value, you’ll get a full refund.
Not only that, but The Ultimate DIY Bundle comes with 4 awesome bonuses, worth over $118. That’s 3x the price of the bundle alone! These include…
A free $15 Store Credit PLUS 8×10 Art Print from Hope Ink ($43 Value), a free online class from Craftsy (up to $60 Value), free $15 store credit to, a free sewing pattern PLUS a Premium Video Class from UpCraft Club ($19.99 Value), and free, full digital copies of Where Women Create Magazine and Greencraft Magazine ($20 value) from Stampington and Co.
So, don’t miss your chance to grab The Ultimate DIY Bundle, and get 76 incredible eBooks and eCourses for just $34.95. All you need to do is take action by midnight on Monday, January 26!
This amazing deal ends in just…

Pick up your copy right now, before it’s too late. Or, learn more here.

Disclosure: I have included affiliate links in this post. Read the fine print about this bundle and read the answers to frequently asked questions about the bundle.

Please note, while there may be affiliate links or payment for reviews, all opinions are my own. You can't buy a good review from me, people. I am way too mouthy for that.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Book Review: Solaris Seethes

Solaris Seethes (Solaris Saga Book 1)Solaris Seethes by Janet McNulty
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Rynah has barely escaped with her life, as her planet’s magnetic force spins out of alignment. Her estranged grandfather’s ship, Solaris, is her only chance to escape. As it turns out her crazy grandfather was right about the prophecies and those old stones, and she must decipher the cryptic legends about them to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands. Fortunately, Solaris is far more helpful there than she ever imagined.

Solaris Seethes is the first book in a series that follows Rynah and her band of misfits across the galaxy in a ship with a personality all her own as she seeks to right wrongs and avenge her people. Not the most original sci-fi storyline, but still a good one. The plot and the characters are interesting, and the depth of the characters is well thought out, but the writing/editing really needs some work. There are really random parenthetical phrases throughout where it should be just basic description rather than the aside indicated by the parentheses, and somewhat awkward transitions, which is in stark contrast to the relatively believable dialogue and quickly moving plot. Still I look forward to the rest of the series and hope Rynah finds her redemption.

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Please note, while there may be affiliate links or payment for reviews, all opinions are my own. You can't buy a good review from me, people. I am way too mouthy for that.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Book Review: Elements

ElementsElements by Solomon Deep
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The idea of Elements intrigued me. Although fiction revolving around a journey to find oneself is certainly nothing new, Alan’s evolving from self-absorbed juvenile to world-battered optimist combines the qualities of introspection with life experiences in a very satisfying way. From the beginning when he dumps his girlfriend and just starts driving to the end when he has to pull himself back to reality in order to clean up his mother’s mess it is abundantly clear what is going on in his head and he processes it with his writing throughout. So while Alan is not exactly your knight-in-shining-armor sort of hero, he does sum up the irritation of adolescence and the discovery that the world does not revolve around you.

While the idea intrigued me and I loved the depth and diversity of the characters there were a few things that were a constant annoyance throughout. While seemingly trivial, I could not get used to the use of the metric measurements in the book. I realize this is an alternate reality sort of scene, but given that the US has never embraced the metric system, it jolted me out of the story every time. The other was the author’s prologue, where he felt the need to explain the reason it was ok to write his own prologue and not monumentally cocky, which of course made it come off as monumentally cocky. Which is too bad, because as I am the same age as the post-9/11 millennials who so inspired Alan with the their listless angst, and I enjoyed understanding his process in bringing the character to life, except that he had to explain that it was ok for him to explain that, which of course is a bit of a turn-off. In any case, for any angsty brat who has ever had to go on a self-reflecting journey in order to embrace love and reality - as many of us have had to do - this book and its characters will resonate, probably in a relatively embarrassing way.

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Please note, while there may be affiliate links or payment for reviews, all opinions are my own. You can't buy a good review from me, people. I am way too mouthy for that.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Book Review: The Screaming

The ScreamingThe Screaming by David Graham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Teenagers are mysteriously and creatively coming up with ways to murder their parents and commit suicide, and no one can figure out the impetus. When officer Dale Franklin with the Kansas City Police Department walks in on a gruesome scene and finds himself an unwitting extra in the deceased’s YouTube video, a multinational whirlwind investigation leads to his partnering with the CDC, MI5, and a boy genius from Kenya to uncover the reason these teenagers brains are shrinking and causing them to commit vile acts.

The Screaming is a thriller that is fast paced and graphic (for those of you with weak stomachs, this might be one to preview first.) Both the murder-suicides are written in gruesome detail, but also the scenes inside the teenager’s heads depict an awful environment that leads to their own destruction, which is necessary but intensely sad. While well written, I still found myself having to willfully suspend my disbelief at some points, as it felt like a rehash of the whole cell phones will melt your brain urban legend that surfaces every so often, and the pop culture references, while amusing, made me wonder if the plot could be just a little more sonic… In short if you are pro-gay love and anti tech, this story will resonate (pardon the pun.) If not it’s still a good fast read, with insight into the British royal family that will make you wonder if they are both telepathic AND werewolves. And for those of you Americans reading this, yes the author is British. He did a good job, but as a native Missourian who knows how Kansas City operates, I pick up on these things, in addition to the British spelling and terms, so I’m afraid both Dale and Steve at best sounded like Captain Jack Harkness in my head. An apt comparison, now that I think about it!

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Please note, while there may be affiliate links or payment for reviews, all opinions are my own. You can't buy a good review from me, people. I am way too mouthy for that.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Book Review: Saving Grapes

Saving GrapesSaving Grapes by J.T. Lundy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the author of Happy Utopia Day, Joe McCarthy (which I loved - read the review here) comes an altogether different genre of novel - the romantic comedy Saving Grapes. Because I loved the dystopian sarcasm of Happy Utopia Day, I was a little skeptical of the translation to a romantic comedy. Fortunately, I kept an open mind and was not disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, it was a much fluffier story than the other, but it was still a good, fast read, and managed to connect the Midwest and French wine country, which made me happy.

Saving Grapes starts with Jason’s legal problems complicated by the death of his champion, Aunt Clara. However, she left him a solution - hard work on the family’s vineyard, which he will inherit with proper adherence to the terms in her will. Of course he had to surrender his passport to the court and promise to pay damages, but selling the vineyard will solve all his problems with none of the hard work, right? Probably his BFF and sidekick Stumpy can help him get to Europe unnoticed. Thus ensues a transnational scheme to extricate himself from all his woes, complicated by an ex-wife, ex-stepbrother, and some extra slapsticky schemes aided by the free flowing alcohol inherent in vinting. Will Alan save the winery, solve his legal problems and get the girl?

Saving Grapes brings the humor that author J.T. Lundy is known for as well as the many subplots that somehow compliment each other rather than step on each other. I was a fan of the adoption subplot myself, given my occupation. Many times I thought to myself this would make a great screenplay, although IMO it is actually easier to understand the plot and keep track of it in book form. The slapstick comic stuff would translate well though. Saving Grapes is not set for release until May 5, so ff you are a looking for a light vacation beach read this is your escape!

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Please note, while there may be affiliate links or payment for reviews, all opinions are my own. You can't buy a good review from me, people. I am way too mouthy for that.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Book Review: Chrissie's Run

Chrissie's RunChrissie's Run by S.A. Mahan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The New Republic is the epitome of civilization, and as such does not tolerate deformity. When knocked-up teen Chrissie is told her unborn son will be born without his right hand or foot, she is scheduled for an abortion and sterilization, like it or not. If she wants to save her child, she must escape the only world she has ever known. Daniel is worth all the trials and tribulations she will endure, but will she survive being hunted by those who try to keep the rest of her society clueless to the real world? Or has she doomed both her son’s life and her own?

Chrissie’s Run is a fast paced, post-modern thriller that takes certain modern cultural norms to their logical conclusion. It is very well written and keeps the reader engaged and wondering what exactly is the world that Chrissie has left and what world she gains by her run, and above all showcases a mother’s love for her child. I loved the glaringly obvious pro-life message and mild allegorical undertones, which is not surprising for anyone who knows me (I work for an adoption agency) and I think that fictionalizing that message allows you to see beyond the rhetoric and come to your own conclusions. For anyone who enjoys futuristic fantasy this is a great read, whether you dig the message or not.

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Please note, while there may be affiliate links or payment for reviews, all opinions are my own. You can't buy a good review from me, people. I am way too mouthy for that.