Five Stars

Review: Palace of Spies by Sarah Zettel – Comedic, Sassy, YA book with a twist! :) Coming November 2013! @HMHbooks @sarah_zettel

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Author – Sarah Zettel

Title – Palace of Spies

Publisher – HMH Books for Young Readers

Genre – Historical Fiction, Mystery
Received from Harcourt Children’s Books on Netgalley

Releases November 5, 2013


Synopsis:

A warning to all young ladies of delicate breeding who wish to embark upon lives of adventure: Don’t.
Sixteen-year-old Peggy is a well-bred orphan who is coerced into posing as a lady in waiting at the palace of King George I. Life is grand, until Peggy starts to suspect that the girl she’s impersonating might have been murdered. Unless Peggy can discover the truth, she might be doomed to the same terrible fate. But in a court of shadows and intrigue, anyone could be a spy—perhaps even the handsome young artist with whom Peggy is falling in love . . .

History and mystery spark in this effervescent series debut.

Review:

Grade: A

This ARC was such a pleasure to read! It was the perfect mix of historical fiction and mystery and a perfect YA book! Peggy is such a fun character to get to know and explore this world with. She’s cunning, smart and quite funny, and she needs all her wits to solve the mystery. She has been turned out of her uncle’s home upon refusing her betrothal, and a mysterious stranger sets her up in King George’s Court..She’s got to become a spy!

I loved this book, and the idea. She’s a great heroine, she doesn’t mope, and complain, and wallow, she gets up and gets going. She’s smart, and her dialogue is as well. Snappy and witty, and it works so well. The character definitely has a knack for fitting is, and she finds herself in the middle of things, and she just uses her wits to get her out. Such a great example for the YA genre, no moping ladies here who need saved!  She even gets a little bit of romance in the story, which is nice, considering how the beginning went.

Overall, this book is well written, organized well, and flows so easily, you don’t realize how much you’ve read! I was flipping pages so fast I couldn’t believe it. The murder mystery, along with the palace life, and the romantic entanglement, it was all just so compelling, I had to know more. The author does a great job keeping history consistant, and present throughout the books as well, lending a bit of education material to a wonderful spy story! I’d highly recommend this one! This author has such a wonderful writing style, I’m definitely going to check out the other books she’s written! I’d love to read more but this one was such a fun read! 🙂

**I received an ARC from the publisher, via NetGalley for my review.

 

About the Author

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Sarah Zettel is the critically acclaimed author of more than twenty novels, spanning the full range of genre fiction. Her debut novel, Reclamation, won the Locus Award for Best First Novel. Her second release, Fool’s War, was a 1997 New York Times Notable Book, and the American Library Association named Playing God one of the Best Books for Young Adults of 1999. Her novel Bitter Angels won the Philip K. Dick Award for best science fiction paperback in 2009. Her latest novel, Dust Girl, was named as one of the best young adult books of the year by both Kirkus Reviews and the American Library Association. Zettel lives in Michigan with her husband, her rapidly growing son, and her cat, Buffy the Vermin Slayer.

Website | Goodreads | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook

Review: The Trees by Stan Weisleder

** This review is done in conjunction with SayWhatSavannahMae. Check out her website for promotional packages, tours and other amazing publicity **

TheTrees

The Trees

Stan Weisleder

General Fiction

Blurb:

The Trees is an epic novel told in Godfather fashion about a handful of childhood friends who make it out of the slums of Brooklyn and reunite as young adults during the years of mob-controlled Las Vegas. Lawrence “Mongoose” Cohen starts running numbers for local bosses while in high school, and eventually manages the gambling activities at the Desert Winds Hotel and Casino in Vegas. There he reunites with EuniceÑa teenage heartthrobÑwho’s now a showgirl known as “Venus.” She initially ignores him but softens after he’s almost killed in a car bombing. Haunted by Venus’s former involvement with underboss Tommy Di Meglio, Mongoose deals with Tommy, “makes his bones” against his would-be assassin, and becomes a “made man” as Las Vegas transforms into a legitimate entertainment mecca ready to do business with Macao in the new millennium.

Review:

Grade: A

The Trees is one of those books you just need to read to experience. Try as I might, I just can’t do it justice is a review. But I highly recommend it.

Each character is detailed and realistic, and it makes you wonder how much of this novel is based in fact (luckily you don’t have to wonder too hard, he gives us some info in the back). The characters are so likeable, that despite what happens in the scenes you really come to love these characters. The late 40s when the characters were growing up was such an interesting time. The mafia, the dialogue, the character of people was so different and so alive. The book is described to be told in “Godfather” style and they are so right. You can feel that same tone here, but even more so. The book allows us so much more than a movie or a TV show ever could.

The language in the book was shocking, but not in a bad way, but in a way reminding us how different the world was, how many things were tolerated and commonplace. This book chronicles a changing society through the eyes of a changing group of Friends. Mo, Mongoose, Scumbag, Potcheese, Ringo and Eunice are such vibrant character, all searching, growing, and taking a stand. The brash impatience of youth to their later life, their careers, and all the while we watch these friendships grow and progress and strain to remain together despite the choices they make as individuals. This book is perfectly crafted, giving us the perfect sense of New York in the late 40s, and the development of the society as well as this group of friends.

The choices they make are so strong, and reflect so strongly in the the way the writer crafted each character. His build up to the dramatic points makes each one hurt a little bit more. We care for these friends, we care about the choices they make, and when they are all caught up in the mafia in one way or another we worry for them. The author takes us on an emotion, dramatic journey in this book, not without the humor and wit, and we love it. It’s an amazing read and the only thing better then the read?  The “To Be Continued” at the end of the book! We are going to be able to see more of this story. Thank goodness!

** I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own **

Review: The Vampires of Soldiers Cove by Jessica MacIntyre

The Vampires of Soldiers Cove by Jessica MacIntyre

New Book Cover eBook

Review by Shelley for Sunshine & Mountains

 

Blurb:

When 24 year old Rachel Landry, who suffers from a debilitating mental illness, receives a knock at her door one night from a stranger she gets an offer she can’t refuse. The chance to live as a vampire, gaining eternal life and relative sanity seems like a great plan. Soon she comes to realize she has been turned for a specific purpose and her vampire existence may be short lived. Also, the handsome stranger may not be as much of a stranger as she thought. Facing her demons along with new enemies she must come to rely on her own strength to save her life and the life of her new clan.

Review:

Grade A+

The vampire clan of Soldiers Cove is only one clan out of several in Nova Scotia. Friendly with each other the clans don’t believe in airing their own dirty laundry even if it may cost everyone their lives and that of all the humans they live with. They are counting on Rachel and her special gifts to save them but not everyone in the clan wants to see her succeed. Her mentor Gavin must teach her not only how to use her gifts but also how to survive in her new world.

The story takes off right away, pulling you in and never letting up. You ride the roller coaster of emotions with this great ensemble of characters. In Rachel Landry, Jessica MacIntyre created an emotionally strong female lead. She didn’t go simply from being mentally ill to a super vampire. Her character is strong to begin with and with her transformation to vampire she is finally able to realize her full potential.  This same commitment to the development of all her characters makes Jessica stand out in her writing.

Twists, turns and betrayals you never see coming will keep you up reading til the early morning hours.

You can see the spotlight we did on this book here.

**Sunshine & Mountains was given a copy of this book by the author. This review is honest and is entirely the reviewers opinions. **

 

Links:

 

Jessica’s website

Vampires of Soldiers Cove’s FB page

Jessica’s Twitter

Jessica’s Amazon author page

Jessica’s Goodreads page

Vampires of Soldiers Cove on Amazon

Vampires of Soldiers Cove on Goodreads

 

 

About the Author:

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Jessica MacIntyre was born in Sydney, Nova Scotia and raised in the tiny rural community of Soldiers Cove. A habitual daydreamer, MacIntyre was sent to the principal’s office many times during her school years for not paying attention in class. In 1998 she moved to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia with her husband and began writing seriously a few years later. Her first novel, “The Vampires of Soldiers Cove” is available now on Amazon and is the first in the “Vampire Island” series. MacIntyre has also published a work of Paranormal Erotica titled, “The Slave Queen”, also for sale on Amazon.

She lives in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia with her husband and two children.

Review: Eye Spy by Tahir Shah, “A bit of medical drama mixed with Silence of the Lambs”

***Review has been done in conjunction with Nerd Girl Official. For more information regarding our reviews please visit our Fansite: www.facebook.com/NerdGirl.ng ***

EyeSpy

Eye Spy

Author: Tahir Shah

Genre: Dark Comedy

ASIN: B00CGAUNJU

Publisher: Secretum Mundi

 

Blurb:

The greatest eye surgeon of his age, Dr. Amadeus Kaine is fêted by royalty, dictators, Hollywood, and the international jetset. An epicurean of sophistication and dark obsessions, he’s devoted his life to locating the perfect food.

While treating one of Central Asia’s most depraved despots, Kaine is given a little pie to eat – a delicacy reserved for guests of the president. It’s the most delicious thing that’s ever passed the surgeon’s lips, and one that has seemingly miraculous effects.

All of a sudden, Kaine finds that his bald patch is growing over with thick black hair, and that his body is healing itself from the inside out. But, best of all, he realizes that his mental faculties are stimulated in ways he never believed possible. He can write books in a few hours, learn languages in a matter of days, and effortlessly solve problems from world hunger to global warming.

The drawback is that the dictator’s little pies are prepared with human eyes, taken from convicts working in the opal mines. Horrified that he’s unwittingly become a cannibal, Amadeus Kaine can’t think of anything but getting his hands on some more of the illicit specialty.

Obsessed in particular by green eyes, he begins hunting for victims to satisfy his wayward craving. While perfecting his method, he learns to appreciate the subtleties in taste. As he does so, a terrible affliction strikes – Occulosis.

An eye disease that has jumped the species gap from industrialized poultry farming, the virus rips through society, robbing the masses of their sight. The only man who can save the world is the inimitable Dr. Kaine, who is himself on the run.

One of the strangest tales of obsession, mania and intrigue ever told, EYE SPY will quite literally change the way you see the world.

Review:

Wizard A+

Tahir Shah’s Eye Spy delighted more beyond what I expected. This book’s synopsis caught my eye, and I decided to grab this book from Nerd Girl’s review list.  I always keep an eye out for the unexpected, because I feel like those unexpected titles often yield great things. Eye Spy is an unexpected, humorous horror. Tahir weaves a tale so dark that you wouldn’t think you’d enjoy it, but the bursts of humor make this a quirky mix that goes down quite well. The don’t lie when they say you’ll see the world a whole different way after reading this book! I sure am, and I’m loving it!

I’m going to break down my review a little more detailed:

The Cover: This cover is extremely eye catching, not to be punny. It’s got eyes everywhere. It’s visual, and attractive, and makes you wonder what’s going on in the book.

The Plot: The plot of this book develops naturally, it leads you to unexpected places, and gets you there with logic. Tahir’s puts a disclaimer that this book was inspired by a photograph, and he has no real knowledge of eyes, surgery or anything this book basically deals with. He asks that we suspend belief and read the book. This book is so well written, I’d never know that he didn’t research these procedures, diseases and other things we come across in the book. He builds a plot, step after step, and you don’t always see it coming. He weaves a tale, so dark, so far fetched, that it’s so hard to believe it’s true, but the way it’s written, you can’t be quite sure.

The Characters: Dr. Amadeus Kaine, leading eye surgeon and main character of this book, is such a detailed character, well rounded, and intricately built that through the trials of the novel, you can see the character devolve so wonderfully, and turn into a whole other person. The doctor Jekyll/Mr.Hyde complex that we deal with it written so wonderfully that you don’t even realize it’s happening until it’s already happened.

The Writing: Tahir’s writing style is so fluid, you don’t realize how much time you’ve lost in the book. You turn pages, wanting to know more, and never realizing that he has spun you into his web of details. Each detail interlocks to other details, and slowly brings you to the complex conflicts that are littered through the book. You don’t see each plot turn coming, until it hits you in the face. Don’t fret though, you’ll love it. His writing doesn’t leave you wanting more, or less. It gives you the perfect amount of humor, action, horror and suspense. It’s all wrapped up together perfectly.

Overall this novel gave me everything I could’ve wanted.  I loved it, I flew through it and didn’t want it to end. The numbering of the chapters to the cover art, everything worked together so perfectly. This isn’t a novel for the squeamish. If you’re a person who faints at blood, or can’t watch a medical drama, this book may not be for you, but for the rest of us, this book was wonderful. I’ve read Silence of the Lambs, as well as Thomas Harris’s books, and this could’ve been among them if not for the wonderful weaving of humor. The action, the suspense and the horror are all reflected that classic style of book! This is definitely a book to check out! I loved reading it and will be super glad to have it on my shelf!

 

**I was given a copy of this book, by the author, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and not influenced by this gesture**

 

Links:

Goodreads

Amazon

Author’s Website

Author’s FB page

Author’s Twitter

Author’s Pinterest

Author’s YouTube

Publisher’s website

About the Author:

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Tahir Shah is the author of fifteen books, many of which chronicle a wide range of outlandish journeys through Africa, Asia and the Americas. For him, there’s nothing so important as deciphering the hidden underbelly of the lands through which he travels. Shunning well-trodden tourist paths, he avoids celebrated landmarks, preferring instead to position himself on a busy street corner or in a dusty café and observe life go by. Insisting that we can all be explorers, he says there’s wonderment to be found wherever we are – it’s just a matter of seeing the world with fresh eyes.

In the tradition of A Thousand and One Nights, Shah’s first 2013 release, SCORPION SOUP, is a treasury of nested tales. One linking effortlessly into the next, the stories form a cornucopia of lore and values, the kind that has for centuries shaped the cultural landscape of the East. Amusing, poignant, and thoroughly entertaining, the collection stays with you, conjuring a magic all of its own.

Shah’s 2012 novel, TIMBUCTOO, is inspired by a true life tale from two centuries ago. The story of the first Christian to venture to Timbuctoo and back – a young illiterate American sailor – it has been an obsession since Shah discovered it in the bowels of the London Library twenty years ago.

His 2011 collection entitled TRAVELS WITH MYSELF is a body of work as varied and as any, with reportage pieces as diverse as the women on America’s Death Row, to the trials and tribulations of his encounter in a Pakistani torture jail.

Another recent work, IN ARABIAN NIGHTS, looks at how stories are used in cultures such as Morocco, as a matrix by which information, values and ideas are passed on from one generation to the next. That book follows on the heels of the celebrated CALIPH’S HOUSE: A Year in Casablanca, lauded as one of Time Magazine’s Top 10 Books of the year.

His other works include an epic quest through Peru’s cloud forest for the greatest lost city of the Incas (HOUSE OF THE TIGER KING), as well as a journey through Ethiopia in search of the source of King Solomon’s gold (IN SEARCH OF KING SOLOMON’S MINES). Previous to that, Shah published an account of a journey through the Amazon on the trail of the Birdmen of the Amazon (TRAIL OF FEATHERS), as well as a book of his experiences in India, as a godman’s pupil (SORCERER’S APPRENTICE).

Tahir Shah’s books have appeared in thirty languages and in more than seventy editions. They are celebrated for their original viewpoint, and for combining hardship with vivid description.

He also makes documentary films, which are shown worldwide on National Geographical Television, and The History Channel. The latest, LOST TREASURE OF AFGHANISTAN, has been screened on British TV and shown worldwide. While researching the programme Shah was arrested along with his film crew and incarcerated in a Pakistani torture jail, where they spent sixteen terrifying days and nights.

His other documentaries include: HOUSE OF THE TIGER KING, SEARCH FOR THE LOST CITY OF GOLD, and THE SEARCH FOR KING SOLOMON’S MINES. And, in addition to documentaries, Shah writes for the big screen. His best known work in this genre is the award-winning Imax feature JOURNEY TO MECCA, telling the tale of the fourteenth century Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta’s first pilgrimage to Mecca.

Tahir Shah lives at Dar Khalifa, a sprawling mansion set squarely in the middle of a Casablanca shantytown. He’s married to the graphic designer, Rachana Shah, and has two children, Ariane and Timur. His father was the Sufi writer, Idries Shah.