Sunday, July 15, 2012

Review: On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer

Synopsis: Joel dares his best friend, Tony, to a swimming race in a dangerous river. Both boys jump in, but when Joel reaches the sandbar, he finds Tony has vanished. How can he face their parents and the terrible truth? (from the back of the book)

Review: This is a sad, hard story. However, it's a good book, one that would be excellent to help someone through the death of a loved one, particularly a death one might feel guilty over. It's a quite read, but leaves a mark.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: 1987 Newbery Honor Award

Date Finished: 7-11-2012
Pages: 90

Review: Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

Synopsis: Ten-year-old Caitlin's word had always been black and white. Anything else was confusing; but her brother, Devon, helped her understand. Then tragedy struck, and now nothing makes sense. As a girl with Asperger's syndrome, Caitlin turns to what she does know - textbooks and dictionaries. And after reading the definition of close, she realizes that this is what everyone needs. In her search for closure, she discovers that black and white are surrounded by shades of gray, and that those are beautiful and necessary for healing. (from the back of the book)

Review: This is a marvelous book. I laughed out loud several times, and cried at the end. Yes, cried. Written from the viewpoint of a child dealing with Asperger's, it gives an excellent perspective, one many of us might learn from. I highly recommend this book - in particular if you know someone with Asperger's, and wish to learn more about how they see the world.

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Awards: 2010 U.S. Nationa Book Award for Young People's Literature

Date Finished: 7-10-2012 
Pages: 235

Review: Ravyn's Flight by Patti O'Shea

Synopsis: Communications specialist Ravyn Verdier is on a mission to test the habitability of Jarved Nine when her team is mysteriously killed. Sent to rescue her, commander Damon Brody becomes stranded on the planet with her. Trapped on a world harboring an unimaginable evil, Ravyn and Damon must depend on one another--and they discover love is the only force strong enough to battle their unseen enemy. (from the back of the book)

Review: This is a well-done sci-fi romance. I enjoyed the world-building (and the subtle references to things from our time that carried over), the romance was a little hokey, but not enough to ruin the story, and I enjoyed the romance between the secondary characters. The story is fact-paced and well-written, although I could have done without the mystical stuff. In the end, if you are looking for good sci-fi romance (which is hard to find) this is a good choice. I will be reading more of her work.

Prude Note: There are several sex scenes, all of which can be avoided if you wish. One, however, is important to understand the romance between the secondary characters, but not so important that skipping will ruin the story.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 7-8-2012
Pages: 312

Review: Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair

Synopsis: The universe isn’t what it used to be. With the new Alliance between the Triad and the United Coalition, Captain Tasha “Sass” Sebastian finds herself serving under her former nemesis, biocybe Admiral Branden Kel-Paten–and doing her best to hide a deadly past. But when an injured mercenary winds up in their ship’s sick bay–and in the hands of her best friend, Dr. Eden Fynn–Sass’s efforts may be wasted.

Wanted rebel Jace Serafino has information that could expose all of Sass’s secrets, tear the fragile Alliance apart–and end Sass’s career if Kel-Paten discovers them. But the biocybe has something to hide as well, something once thought impossible for his kind to possess: feelings . . . for Sass. Soon it’s clear that their prisoner could bring down everything they once believed was worth dying for–and everything they now have to live for. (from the back of the book)

Review: This was a delightful book. The relationship between Kel-Paten and Sass, the humor, the tension, the romance - it's perfect. Sinclair is a master. Her stories are intricate, fast-paced, with distinct, complete characters in a believable story with a twist to the end. Unlike so many romance books, this one has meat on it's bones. It's more then just love-tale; There is mystery, suspense, action, humor and yes - love. I highly recommend, not just this story, but most of Sinclair's work.

Prude Note: There are 2 major sex scenes. They are not graphic and are important to the characters. You can skip over them if you wish, and it won't ruin the story.

Bookmarks: 9 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 7-5-2012
Pages: 525

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Review: To Close to the Sun by Robin T. Popp

Synopsis: Galactic smuggler Angel Torrence resented Colonel Nicoli Romanof from the first order he barked at her. His disembodied voice – arrogant and bossy – blared out of the Icarus’s control panel, not to thank her for rescuing him and his ship from the terrorist attack, but to instruct her to set a course for the most perilous planet in the solar system.
On the riskiest mission of his career, Nicoli had allowed his life essence and his physical form to be separated. And the Harvestors had taken the bait – his body. Now he needed the cocky pilot who’d stolen his vessel to help him retrieve his person and destroy the deadly race of aliens. Then he discovered the young man was a woman, and he kissed his chances of success goodbye.
When Nicoli refused her assistance because of her gender, Angel would have moved heaven and earth to prove she was up to the task. But she never expected the colonel’s physique to be so magnificent – or his heart to be so courageous. And when a passion she couldn’t deny flared between them, she wondered if they’d found love or flown…Too Close To The Sun. (from the back of the book)

Review: I picked this up on a whim, as I was looking for science fiction romance novels. Unlike several others I picked up, this one proved interesting and well-written. I enjoyed the characters, the story and the romance. Some of it was a bit contrived - the whoops-we-are-naked parts - but the world-building was interesting enough that I just rolled my eyes and keep reading. This is a pleasing summer read. Oh, and just ignore the cheesy cover.

Prude Note: There are three major sex scenes, all of which can be skipped with no loss to the story. They aren't graphic, mostly the normal romance novel stuff, if a bit contrived.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 7-3-2012 
Pages: 305

Review: Special Forces Unarmed Combat Guide by Martin J. Dougherty

Synopsis: A How-to manual on unarmed combat.

Review: No book is substitute for hands-on training, but this book does a good job of giving a the basic idea. It has step-by-step instructions, pictures and general advice. I purchased it as reference for writing and it's proven useful.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 7-1-2012
Pages: 320

Review: Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch

Synopsis: It was just another day in Arizona and then the monster showed up. Marketing manager Katherine "Kitty" Katt had just finished a day on jury duty. When she stepped out of the Pueblo Caliente courthouse, all she was thinking about was the work she had to get caught up on. Then her attention was caught by a fight between a couple - a domestic dispute that looked like it was about to turn ugly.  But ugly didn't even begin to cover it when the "man" suddenly transformed into a huge, winged monster right out of grade Z science fiction movie and went on a deadly killing spree. In hindsight, Kitty realized she probably should have panicked and run screaming the way everyone around her was doing. Instead she got mad, searched her purse for a weapon, and, armed with a Mont Blanc pen, sprinted into action to take down the alien. In the middle of all the screeching and the ensuing chaos, tall handsome hunk of a guy in an Armani suit suddenly appeared beside her, examined the body, introduced himself as Jeff Martini with "the agency." called out an Armani-clad colleague to perform crowd control, and then insisted on leading her to a nearby limo to talk to his "boss". And that was how Kitty's new life among the aliens began....

Review: I picked this up on a whim several months ago. It was clever and amusing, not the best read ever, but pleasing. I laughed out loud several times and I didn't know what would happen until the end. I enjoyed the campy qualities and the concept. I felt the "climatic" confrontation between good and evil was a bit contrived, and the romance a bit rushed. In the end, it's a pleasant summer read.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 6-15-2012
Pages: 389

Review: Instructions for American Servicemen in Britain 1942 by the United States War Department

Synopsis: This is a small instruction manual give to all American G.I.s when they travel to England during WWII. It's full of instructions for etiquette, social rules, and general knowledge such at the metric system and British money.

Review: This was a delightful book! I loved the comparison between American and English customs - (They make crap coffee, We make crap tea) - I would highly recommend this book for any Anglophile or fan of WWII history. It's a quick, easy read and quite fun!

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 6-10-2012
Pages: 31

Review: The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes by Jennifer Crusie, Eileen Dreyer and Anne Stuart

Synopsis: When she was sixteen, Dee fortune kidnapped her two younger sisters and ran from danger. Now twenty-nine, sh'es still trying to control her shape-shifting  power - no easy task when Danny James shows up one Friday morning with his deadly smile and dangerous questions about the past. Lizzie is determined to save her family from financial ruin by turning straw into gold; now, if she could only stop turning forks into bunnies. Then Elric, a sorcerer, appears on Friday - annoyed with the chaos Lizzie is creating in the universe and in his heart. The youngest, Mare, towers above her sisters but her telekinetic power is dwarfed by their gifts. She spends her days at Value Video!! and her nights contemplating the futility of her existence. But the a gorgeous Value Video!! VP and Mar'es long-lost-love turn up...and they all turn up heat on a weekend no Fortune will soon forget. (from the back of the book)

Review: I picked this up at two of the three authors are the same as Dogs and Goddesses, which I rather enjoyed.  This wasn't as good at Dogs and Goddesses but it was amusing and a good read. I enjoyed the three sisters (Mare was my favorite) and the intertwinning stories. If you're looking for a pleasent beach read, this is a good choice.

Prude Note: There are several sex scenes but each is important to the development of the characters, and the story. None are gratuitus as often occurs in these sort of novels. They are easy to skip, if you wish, but there is nothing disgustingly graphic about them, just your usual romance novel heaving and swelling.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 6-8-2012
Pages: 410

Review: The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson

Synopsis: The Primal Blueprint is a simple, flexible plan to help you look and feel your best without struggling or suffering, by adapting the simple lifestyle practices of our hunter-gatherer ancestors into modern life. Sisson presents the compelling premise that you can reprogram your genes in the direction of weight loss, health, and longevity by following 10 immutable Primal Blueprint lifestyle laws validated by two million years of human evolution. Weight loss is largely about insulin; moderate your production by eliminating sugar and grains, and you will lose the excess body fat you desire even while eating delicious, satisfying foods. Plus you will improve your energy level, reduce inflammation, and eliminate disease risk. Eating meat, eggs, and a generally high-fat diet not only is healthy but is the key to effortless weight loss, a healthy immune system, and boundless energy.Slowing down your typical cardiovascular workouts, and incorporating brief, intense strength sessions and occasional all-out sprints can produce fitness benefits far superior to workouts that are longer and more grueling-and can eliminate the risk of burnout. (from the back of the book)

Review: Mark Sisson is, for lack of a better word, an Elder in the Primal / Paleo nutrition movement. His blog, Mark's Daily Apple, is a pillar of knowledge for us new cavemen. This book is his basic ideology and how-tos. It's well-organized, humorous, easy to understand but not dumbed-down. I enjoy his realistic approach and his philosophy - namely, that most diets function on guilt instead of true health. I highly recommend if you are looking to get healthy and have failed with most other methods.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 6-3-2012
Pages: 325