Friday, October 30, 2015

Pills And Starships Book Review

I have a rather unusual futuristic book to share with all of you that I found quite fascinating that our society would be so accepting in the future. It's called Pills and Starships written by Lydia Millet.

In this richly imagined dystopic future brought by global warming, seventeen-year-old Nat and her hacker brother Sam have come by ship to the Big Island of Hawaii for their parents’ Final Week. The few Americans who still live well also live long—so long that older adults bow out not by natural means but by buying death contracts from the corporates who now run the disintegrating society by keeping the people happy through a constant diet of “pharma.” Nat’s family is spending their pharma-guided last week at a luxury resort complex called the Twilight Island Acropolis. 
Deeply conflicted about her parents’ decision, Nat spends her time keeping a record of everything her family does in the company-supplied diary that came in the hotel’s care package. While Nat attempts to come to terms with her impending parentless future, Sam begins to discover cracks in the corporates’ agenda and eventually rebels against the company his parents have hired to handle their last days. Nat has to choose a side. Does she let her parents go gently into that good night, or does she turn against the system and try to break them out? 
But the deck is stacked against Nat and Sam: in this oppressive environment, water and food are scarce, mass human migrations are constant, and new babies are illegal. As the week nears its end, Nat rushes to protect herself and her younger brother from the corporates while also forging a path toward a future that offers the hope of redemption for humanity. 
My Thoughts:
Wow! This book is really so crazy about senior citizens that I couldn't really believe what I was reading! You only get to live to a certain age, even if you are perfectly healthy and then you gotta go but it's also the way that they have it set up that really freaked me out!
I won't go into any details because you just have to read this book for yourself. This writer must have had some really wild imagination to come up with this whole scenario. I can't believe that parents are required to turn themselves in at a certain age, no matter if they still have children at home or not. Then those kids are left without any parents and I guess they get lost in the shuffle if there is no one to take care and of them!
But, there is hope on the horizon! As always, there is a rebellion going on and people are starting to protest this mandatory rule of turning yourself in to be done away with and Nat meets some of these people and she begins to see that she really isn't okay with losing her parents and decides to see if she can stop it.
Not sure if there will be another book coming as the ending could have been just that or it was left in such a way that there could be another installment coming. If one is coming, I can't wait to read it so I can see what happens next!

Happy Reading!

About the Author:

Lydia Millet is a novelist and short-story writer known for her dark humor, idiosyncratic characters and language, and strong interest in the relationship between humans and other animals. Born in Boston, she grew up in Toronto and now lives outside Tucson, Arizona with her two children, where she writes and works in wildlife conservation.

Sometimes called a "novelist of ideas," Millet won the PEN-USA award for fiction for her early novel My Happy Life (2002); in 2010, her story collection Love in Infant Monkeys was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. In 2008, 2011, and 2012 she published three novels in a critically acclaimed series about extinction and personal loss: How the Dead Dream, Ghost Lights, and Magnificence. June 2014 will see the publication of her first book for young-adult readers, Pills and Starships -- an apocalyptic tale of death contracts and climate change set in the ruins of Hawaii.

Disclaimer: Mary Bearden personally reviewed these products. I did not receive any monetary compensation for my review, just a sample product. All opinions are mine and belong to me solely. My thoughts and opinions may differ from you.

Paper Doll Book Review & Giveaway**Closed**

I have a new mystery/drama book to share with all of you called Paper Doll written by Joe Cosentino. This is actually part of Jana Lane Mysteries, so if you really like reading this mystery, you will get to read other books as they come out!
Jana Lane was America's most famous child star until she was attacked on the studio lot at eighteen years old. Now a thirty-eight-year-old beauty and mother of two living in a mansion in picturesque Hudson Valley, New York, Jana's flashbacks from her past turn into murder attempts in her present. The local suspects include Jana's down-on-his-luck husband with a dislike for living off the fruits of his wife's young labor, Jana's sister and male friend (who both have eyes for Jana's husband), Jana's show business father, her deranged loyal fan, and Jana's young Guy Friday who covets her fame and shares an uncanny resemblance to Jana.  
Forced to summon up the lost courage she had as a child, Jana visits the California movie studio she once called home. This sends her on a whirlwind of visits with former and current movie studio personnel. It also leads to a romance with the son of her old producer--Rocco Cavoto--the devilishly handsome filmmaker who is planning Jana's comeback both professionally and personally. With Rocco's help, Jana uncovers a web of secrets about everyone she loves, including the person who destroyed her past and threatens to snuff out her future. 
My Thoughts:,
Next to YA Fantasy/Supernatural books, Mystery books are my second choice and before I found the YA Fantasy genre, that was all I read, so I have a really long history reading Mystery/Drama books.
I love the care that this writer gave his readers a really juicy story filled with disturbing twists and turns and people who weren't quite right around children growing up in the movie industry in Hollywood. I am so glad that I am not a part of all that madness! I really don't see how those people are able to live any kind of "real" life the way they are hounded by the press. How can you have a night out or a day and just be comfortable?
Anyway, Jana Lane has quite a few enemies that want her dead or want her life, so she's not living real good right now. She left show business back around 18, but nobody seems to really grasp that concept, so when asked if she would like to re-launch her career, her old producer wants her to come back and make a movie, she agrees.
And with that things get in motion again that she had tried to forget all those years ago. It's going to be a bumpy ride, so hold on and keep reading!
Happy Reading!
About the Author:
Amazon Bestselling author Joe Cosentino wrote DRAMA QUEEN the first Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), AN INFATUATION & A SHOOTING STAR (Dreamspinner Press), PAPER DOLL the first Jana Lane mystery (Whiskey Creek Press), and THE NUTCRACKER AND THE MOUSE KING (Eldridge Plays and Musicals).
He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O'Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. His one-act plays, "Infatuation" and "Neighbor," were performed in New York City. He wrote THE PERILS OF PAULINE educational film (Prentice Hall Publishers).
Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. His upcoming novels are A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS (Dreamspinner Press holiday novella),THE NAKED PRINCE AND OTHER TALES FROM FAIRYLAND (Dreamspinner Press fairytale novella), DRAMA MUSCLE the second Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), and PORCELAIN DOLL the second Jana Lane mystery (Wild Rose Press). 
I will be giving my copy of Paper Doll to one of you. It's a very good book and I wanted to share it with someone else who might enjoy it. The giveaway will be open to the Continental U.S. only. Good Luck Everyone!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: Mary Bearden personally reviewed these products. I did not receive any monetary compensation for my review, just a sample product. All opinions are mine and belong to me solely. My thoughts and opinions may differ from you.

Mark of the Beast Book Review

I have a book I wanted to share with you today called The Mark of The Beast written by Adolphus Anekwe that is pretty darn scary!
Mark of the Beast: A searing medical thriller by Adolphus A. Anekwe, a renowned doctor, about the ramifications of isolating a gene that causes violent behavior
Dr. Regina Dickerson is a Catholic physician in San Diego who has discovered that there is a certain genetic marker that indicates the carrier is prone to psychotic violence.  
Working on blood from prison inmates, her theory begins to prove itself time and again with violent offenders. The variety of crimes is diverse: one couple murders their children for organ money, another man kidnaps young girls to seduce and kill them, yet another has a penchant for cyanide.  
As Dickerson's work begins to show results and catches the attention of the media, people begin to fear that witch hunts and Spanish Inquisition–style mayhem will result if forcible testing is carried out. Meanwhile, a race begins to find a cure. With science and religion at odds, Dickerson must find her own answers while trying to escape those who want to put an end to her inflammatory research.
My Thoughts:
This is a really far out , I hope in the future scenario, because it is really disturbing to think that they can come up with tests that would predict if you had certain tendencies to do things. In this particular test, this doctor is able to predict or she think she can, if people will commit violent crimes.
What she sets out to do is to try and predict who will basically do the more awful crimes, like murder, child rape, anything that involves very bad violence. She comes up with a code, which is the HLA B66 but for some odd reason, she really goes out on a limb and decides that her test is actually something Biblical.
According to some ancient works that she uncovers, the letter B in the old language was actually a 6, so that changed her test from a B66 to 666. So, this is where the story gets a little off balance and they try to determine if they can predict if people are indeed the Mark of the Beast because they have this B66 genetic code.
I am not good with science stuff, so I can't really explain it like the book does, but it makes for a very interesting story but in the end, this doctor will learn a valuable lesson!
Happy Reading!

Disclaimer: Mary Bearden personally reviewed these products. I did not receive any monetary compensation for my review, just a sample product.  All opinions are mine and belong to me solely. My thoughts and opinions may differ from you.  

Red Carpets & White Lies Book Review

I have a different kind of book than I normally read to share with you called Red Carpets & White Lies written by Lea Black who was a Real Housewife in The Real Housewives of Miami.

In a city known for its never-ending parties, Miami socialite Leigh Anatole White hosts the most extravagant party of them all. Her annual Charity Ball, a star-studded benefit for troubled teens, is the most highly anticipated event of the season, and Leigh pulls out all the stops to ensure it doesn’t disappoint.

This year—the tenth anniversary of the Ball—Leigh has decided to give Miami one last blowout before relinquishing her title as hostess. Suffice it to say, the pressure is on: this year’s Charity Ball simply must be the best yet. With help from her committee, a few close friends, a masterful personal assistant and her supportive husband, Leigh is poised to deliver. Even the dirty secrets and entanglements of her friends and pseudo-friends—the good-hearted, hard-drinking gossip queen Dixie Johnson; drag queen extraordinaire Diva Elaine Manchester; and bronzed, botoxed and backstabbing Katie Parker, to name a few—can’t slow her down.

When an influential art dealer shows up, offering to provide high-end artwork for the Charity Ball’s auction, Leigh is thrilled. This is just what the gala needs to set it apart from previous years’, and after all of Leigh’s hard work, it looks as though the last Charity Ball may just live up to the hype. But as always in the world of Miami’s rich and shameless, a scandal is never far off…and this one hits everyone close to home.  
My Thoughts:
I have to be honest and say I have never watched any Real Housewives and actually about the only reality TV that I do watch is Dancing with the Stars, so this was a big departure from my normal reading material.
But, it really did turn out to be a pretty good book because it wasn't all about that stuff that they do on TV. This was something of a crime/mystery type of book this Real Housewives star decided to write about and the story is about someone who was able to penetrate Leigh's inner circle and basically mess with her charity that she always did each year for her charity that helped troubled teens.
I have to admit that I think anyone that would mess with a charity event, no matter where the money raised is going, really needs to get the book thrown at them because it's just wrong to steal money from a good cause. Unfortunately, at first, the cops thought Leigh was the one who stole the money until her husband and friends were able to figure it all out and help clear her name.
This book has just the right amount of suspense and drama that it kept me glued to the book and when I get that involved in a story, it's a good book to tell others about!
Happy Reading!
About the Author:
Lea Black, resonates far beyond her prominent role on The Real Housewives of Miami.  Multi-talented Black also blogs regularly for outlets such as The Huffington Post and E! Online, has founded and co-founded several health and beauty lines, and hosts an annual gala that wrangles in Miami’s considerable wealth and talent to raise money for charity.

Lea is also president and CEO of a multi-brand company she created and founded. She is married to criminal defense attorney Roy Black, with whom she has a thirteen-year-old son, RJ.

Disclaimer: Mary Bearden personally reviewed these products. I did not receive any monetary compensation for my review, just a sample product.  All opinions are mine and belong to me solely. My thoughts and opinions may differ from you. 

Krampus The Yule Lord Book Review

Title: Krampus: The Yule Lord
Author: Brom
Release Date: October 30, 2012
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Genre: Paranormal/Mythology
Format: Ebook/Paperback/Hardcover/Audible

Santa Claus, my dear old friend, you are a thief, a traitor, a slanderer, a murder, a liar, but worst of all you are a mockery of everything for which I stood. 
You have sung your last ho, ho, ho, for I am coming to take your head. I am coming to take back what is mine, to take back Yuletide… 
The author and artist of The Child Thief returns with a modern fabulist tale of Krampus, the Lord of Yule and mortal enemy of Santa Claus. 
One Christmas Eve in a small hollow in Boone County, West Virginia, struggling songwriter Jesse Walker witnesses a strange spectacle: seven devilish figures chasing a man in a red suit toward a sleigh and eight reindeer. When the reindeer leap skyward taking the sleigh, devil men, and Santa into the clouds, screams follow. Moments later, a large sack plummets earthward, a magical sack that will thrust the down-on-his luck singer into the clutches of the terrifying Yule Lord, Krampus. But the lines between good and evil become blurred as Jesse’s new master reveals many dark secrets about the cherry-cheeked Santa Claus, and how half a millennium ago, the jolly old saint imprisoned Krampus and usurped his magic. 
Now Santa’s time is running short, for the Yule Lord is determined to have his retribution and reclaim Yuletide. If Jesse can survive this ancient feud, he might have the chance to redeem himself to his family, to save his own broken dreams…and help bring the magic of Yule to the impoverished folk of Boone County. 
My Thoughts:
This book is really misleading with the pictures on the front and back of the book! I thought it was going to be a really scary, horror type of book, but instead it's more like a supernatural or  Fantasy type book. Which is a good thing because I actually was a little wary that if I read it I might have nightmares, so for me, it was quiet a relief!
Krampus, who is Yule Lord, was actually a type of God who fell out of Grace and Santa Claus had to send him into exile. Of course, he really does look like the picture on the book cover, but he really does mean well, he just goes about it in a sometimes horrible way.
I actually smiled and a few times even laughed at some of his antics! I do have to warn you though, there is quiet a bit of cussing, although not from Krampus, but from his followers. Just wanted you to know that in case you have an aversion to foul language.
I really enjoyed the book once I realized it wasn't going to give me goosebumps or nightmares and Krampus, the Yule Lord actually has a pretty good morale to the book about what he believes and what he thinks Mother Earth wants for our planet.
I hope that you will give this book a chance because it actually is a pretty good book to read for the upcoming Christmas season and because in some ways, Krampus the Yule Lord fixes some things that are broken, but the most important things he does is that he makes people see the error of their ways and all his followers and some of the people in Boone County end up being in a much better place than before they met him.
Happy Reading!
About the Author: 
Born in the deep dark south in the mid-sixties. Brom, an army brat, spent his entire youth on the move and unabashedly blames living in such places as Japan, Hawaii, Germany, and Alabama for all his afflictions. From his earliest memories Brom has been obsessed with the creation of the weird, the monstrous, and the beautiful.
At age twenty, Brom began working full-time as a commercial illustrator in Atlanta, Georgia. Three years later he entered the field of fantastic art he’d loved his whole life, making his mark developing and illustrating for TSR’s best selling role-playing worlds.
He has since gone on to lend his distinctive vision to all facets of the creative industries, from novels and games, to comics and film. Most recently he’s created a series of award winning horror novels that he both writes and illustrates: “The Plucker”, an adult children’s book, “The Devil’s Rose”, a modern western set in Hell, “The Child Thief”, a gritty, nightmarish retelling of the Peter Pan myth, and his latest concoction, “Krampus, the Yule Lord”, a tale of revenge between Krampus and Santa set in rural West Virginia.
Brom is currently kept in a dank cellar somewhere in the drizzly Northwest. There he subsists on poison spiders, centipedes, and bad kung-fu flicks. When not eating bugs, he is ever writing, painting, and trying to reach a happy sing-a-long with the many demons dancing about in his head.
For more information check out his website.
Disclaimer: Mary Bearden personally reviewed these products. I did not receive any monetary compensation for my review, just a sample product.  All opinions are mine and belong to me solely. My thoughts and opinions may differ from you. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

His Rebel Heart Book Review

Title: His Rebel Heart
Author: Amber Leigh Williams
Publisher: Harlequin (Superromance)
Pages: 380
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Being a single mother and successful florist is tough, especially when your new next-door neighbor is the man who shattered your heart. Eight years ago, bad boy James Bracken walked away from Adrian Carlton…and their unborn child. Now he’s back. And Adrian’s desire to protect her son from the truth of his biological father isn’t enough to hide the wild blue eyes of father and son, or to keep Adrian from surrendering to the raw passion between her and James.  
But is he truly the changed man he claims to be? Maybe this time his rebel heart really is home to stay. 
My Thoughts:

This book has it all! There is definitely a lot of romance involved, but also some rough and tumble guys on both sides of the law, along with some good people trying to keep the balance in their lives.

All of this comes to a full head on head slam when Adrian's ex boyfriend comes back into town and moves right next door to where she lives with her 8 year old son. She thought she had put him behind her, but taking one look at James and she knew she was in trouble.

Can someone really change who they fundamentally are? I think so to some degree but I also think they will battle those demons for a very long time and will have to re-commit to being a different person each day. Hopefully, one day it won't matter because the change has fully taken over that person's life and they no longer have to make an effort to control their impulses anymore.

What Adrian and James had in the beginning 8 years ago will finally be answered and addressed in the manner it should have been all those years ago. James will also learn some secrets that will rock his world but at least the secret he finds out isn't the bad kind like he did to Adrian years ago.

If you are a romance buff, then you will definitely enjoy this unique love story with all it's twists and turns. It's another Harlequin Super Romance hit!

Happy Reading!
About the Author: 
Amber Leigh Williams lives on the Gulf Coast. A southern girl at heart, she lives for beach days, the smell of real books, relaxing at her family’s lakehouse, and spending time with her husband and two children. When she’s not keeping up with rambunctious little ones and two large dogs she can usually be found reading a good romance or cooking up a new dish in her kitchen. She is represented by D4EO Literary Agency.

Disclaimer: Mary Bearden personally reviewed these products. I did not receive any monetary compensation for my review, just a sample product.  All opinions are mine and belong to me solely. My thoughts and opinions may differ from you. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Do You Suffer From Depression?

Abilify and efficient treatment of depression
There are various diseases that are sign of our time. Interesting enough, number of mental patients has increased dramatically in last couple of decades. Most of the medical professionals believe that this is caused by changes to environment, more people living in big cities as well as misuse of drugs, narcotics and alcohol. All of these factors increase chances of person suffering from depression.                

Biggest issue with depression is our perspective of it. If a person is feeling down, we often tend to say that he is depressed. We take it lightly and because of that, we created a bad picture of this disease in our heads. Anyway, it is a mental condition that shouldn’t be taken lightly. It can have an enormous impact on person’s quality of life and some severe forms can even result in suicide. Today, we are able to control this issue with use of therapy and medication. Buy Abilifyonline so that you can efficiently counter symptoms of the disease.                

Depression is a type of illness that can easily be diagnosed. According to specialists from You! Drugstore, it is characterized by low mood. Patient has different social and personal issues including: inability to interact with other people, to enjoy company of other individuals or to exchange ideas, patient has low confidence and self-esteem; he is unable to concentrate on his job or daily duties, things that were previously interesting are no longer so. As the times goes by, person will lose interest for fulfilling his basic needs such as having sex or eating. Slowly, this will lead to suicidal tendencies. In 10 to 15 % of cases, depression will end in suicide. This is precisely why patient needs to treat it on time so that it doesn’t become severe.                

There are numerous genetic and social problems that will lead to this situation. First and foremost, similarly to other mental issues, depression can be hereditary. Even if patient’s parents suffered from some other sort of mental illness, there is still a high chance of developing depression. Sometimes, childhood events can lead to this problem. Children that were mistreated, abused, beaten or took some other type of punishment which was inappropriate, are more likely to suffer from it. Disease can also appear at later stage in life as a result of bad work performance, loss of a loved one, loss of housing or due to some other traumatic experience. Sometimes, it can even be caused by use of drugs or alcohol.                

Nowadays, we are able to control symptoms of the illness by using various drugs. One of them is Abilify. This is an antipsychotic that works by affecting neurons within the brain. It comes in a form of tablet; it can be used with or without food. However, patient shouldn’t use it for more than 6 weeks. Patients who have history of breast cancer, seizures or epilepsy, heart, kidney or liver condition, diabetes, trouble swallowing, high cholesterol or triglycerides, should consult with a doctor before using Abilify.

Disclaimer:  All opinions are mine and belong to me solely. My thoughts and opinions may differ from you.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Strong Light of Day Book Review

Strong Light of Day by Jon Land

on Tour October 12 - November 13, 2015

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Forge
Publication Date: Oct 13, 2015
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN: 978-0765335128
Series: Caitlin Strong, #7 


Strong Light of Day by Jon Land
Caitlin Strong is a fifth generation Texas Ranger as quick with her wits as her gun. Over the years she’s taken on all manner of criminals and miscreants, thwarting the plans of villains to do vast damage to the country and state she loves. But none of that has prepared Caitlin for an investigation that pits her against ruthless billionaire oilman Calum Dane whose genetically engineered pesticide may have poisoned a large swath of the state.

How that poisoning is connected to the disappearance of thirty high school students from a Houston prep school, including the son of her outlaw lover Cort Wesley Masters, presents Caitlin with the greatest and most desperate challenge of her career.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, she also has to deal with a crazed rancher whose entire herd of cattle has been picked clean to the bone by something science can’t explain.

The common denominator between these apparently disparate events is a new and deadly enemy capable of destroying the US economy and killing millions in the process. An enemy different than any Caitlin has faced before, and a foe it will take far more than bullets to bring down. But there’s another player in the deadly game Caitlin finds herself playing in the form of Russian extremists prepared to seize upon an opportunity to win a war they never stopped fighting.

Caitlin’s race to save the country weaves through the present and the past, confronting her and Cort Wesley with the most powerful and dangerous foes they’ve ever faced, both human and otherwise. The Cold War hasn’t just heated up; it’s boiling over under the spill of a strong light only Caitlin can extinguish before it’s too late.

My Thoughts:

I have always loved reading this series starring the woman Texas Ranger because she comes off so bad and yet on the right side of the law! These stories are filled with adventure and just enough of constant action to make you think it's about a male counterpart, but in fact, she is a woman.

She comes from a long line of Texas Rangers and never really thought about doing any other kind of work. The fact that her boyfriend was a criminal makes the story line really great and there is always enough action for him to get into trouble, but the right kind of trouble. He has 2 teen age boys that also bring a lot of things to the story and this particular story features the younger brother who is still in high school and gets involved in a kidnapping that lucky for him, he missed by mere inches!

Of course, in this particular story, she also learns some more stories about her father and her boyfriend's father and how for once, they teamed up together to get the bad guys, which also might be some of those same Russians that her father fought years ago.

If you haven't read any of the Caitlin Strong Texas Ranger stories, you just might want to!

Happy Reading!


Land's exciting seventh Caitlin Strong novel (after 2014's Strong Darkness) finds the fifth-generation Texas Ranger pursuing two cases: one involving a herd of cattle that has been picked clean to the bone and another revolving around the disappearance of a busload of students from a Houston prep school spending the night at a nature center. Caitlin realizes that the key to solving both may be found in an ingenious Cold War conspiracy involving "agroterrorism" that her own father investigated decades earlier, along with outlaw Boone Masters, the father of her boyfriend, Cort Wesley Masters. A convoluted narrative -- with Russian mobsters, rate Texas militiamen, alien invasion theories, cattle rustling, and a corrupt oil baron -- slows the momentum early on, but Land pulls out all the stops in the latter chapters. More than a few bombshell revelations and jaw-dropping plot twists will satisfy longtime series fans. ~ Publisher's Weekly

Caitlin Strong is a kick-ass Texas Ranger and one of the toughest female protagonists in crime fiction. In her seventh outing, she's called to investigate the disappearance of 30 children, who all seem to have vanished while on a camping trip. One of the missing children is the son of her boyfriend, Cort Wesley Masters. On top of all that, she's asked to negotiate with a crazed rancher who is holding his family hostage, claiming that aliens have taken his cattle and that he will kill his family before he lets the aliens take them. Other subplots include a billionaire businessman who has created a genetically engineered pesticide that is causing cancer, Navy SEALS in Afghanistan back in 2003, and some really Russians. This is a complex, multifaceted take, but it moves at lightening speed, even allowing time to provide some background on Strong's family - she is a fifth-generation Texas Ranger. Fans of the series and readers who like their women fearless and smart will love this story. ~ Stacy Alesi, Booklist Online

Top Pick! Land's seventh novel featuring Texas Ranger and action heroine extraordinaire Caitlin Strong demonstrates why he is one of the best action thriller writers in the business. The mix of history, character development and baffling storylines will enthrall readers.

Summary: A group of prep school students vanishes on a field trip, including the son of Caitlin Strong's boyfriend, Cort Wesley Masters. Folks with secret agendas are involved, and they don't care who they hurt or destroy to get what they desire. Strong has her hands full, but, thankfully, she is more than capable of saving the day.  ~ RT Book Reviews

Read an excerpt:

Zavala County, Texas
Caitlin Strong stopped her SUV at the checkpoint on Route 83 heading toward Crystal City. The sheriff’s deputy approaching her vehicle seemed to recognize her as soon as she slid down her window, well before he could see her Texas Ranger badge. He was an older man, long and lean with legs crimped inward from too much side-to-side stress on his knees riding horses.
“You got no call to be here, Ranger,” the deputy said, having clearly been warned to expect her, his light complexion turned a rosy pink shade by the sun and heat.
“You mean driving on a public highway, Deputy?”
“I mean heading into the shit storm that’s unfolding a few miles down it.” He had brownish-purplish blotches on the exposed flesh of his right forearm, the kind of marks that cry out for a dermatologist’s attention. Then she noticed the bandages swathed in patches on his other arm and realized they were probably already getting it. “We got enough problems without you sticking your nose in,” the deputy continued. “Wherever you go, bullets seem to follow and the last thing we need is a shooting war.”
“You think that’s what I came here for?”
The deputy folded his arms in front of his chest so the untreated one stuck out, the dark blotches seeming to widen as his forearm muscles tightened. “I think you’ve got no idea how Christoph Russell Ilg will react when a Texas Ranger shows up. You don’t know these parts, Caitlin Strong, and no stranger known for her gun is gonna solve this problem the sheriff’s department has already got under control.”
“Under control,” Caitlin repeated. “Is that what you call an armed standoff between sheriff’s deputies, the highway patrol and that militia backing Ilg? I heard they’ve been pouring in from as far away as Idaho. Might as well post a sign off the highway that reads, ‘Whack jobs, next exit.’”
“If the highway patrol had just left this to the sheriff’s department,” the deputy groused, face wrinkling as if he’d swallowed something sour, “those militia men never would’ve had call to show up. We had the situation contained.”
“Was that before or after a rancher started defying the entire federal government?” Caitlin asked him, unable to help herself. “The goddamn federal government can kiss my ass. This here’s Texas and this here’s a local problem. A Zavala County problem that’s got no need for the Texas Rangers.”
The deputy tilted his stare toward the ground, as if ready to spit some tobacco he wasn’t currently chewing. Then he hitched up his gaze along with his shoulders and planted his hands on his hips, just standing there as if this was an extension of the standoff down the road.
“You should wear long sleeves,” Caitlin told him.
“Not in this heat.”
She let him see her focus trained on the dark blotches dotting his arm. The breeze picked up and blew her wavy black hair over her face. Caitlin brushed it aside, feeling the light sheen of the sunscreen she’d slathered on before setting out from San Antonio. She’d taken to using more of it lately, even though the dark tones that came courtesy of a Mexican grandmother she’d never met made her tan instead of burn.
“Better hot than dead, Deputy,” she told the man at her window. “You need me to tell you the rate of skin cancer in these parts?” He let his arms dangle stiff by his sides. “You really do have a nasty habit of messing in other’s people business.”
“You mean, trying to keep them alive, sometimes from falling victim to their own stubbornness.”
“Who we talking about here, Ranger?”
“Christoph Russell Ilg. Who else would we be talking about?”

Zavala County, Texas
Caitlin reflected on what she’d learned about Christoph Russell Ilg for the next two miles down the road. His second wife had just given him his ninth child, and sixth son, even though he was somewhere close to either side of seventy. His parents were German immigrants who came to Texas as migrant farm workers. He’d been born on one of numerous farms they worked in the immediate years after World War II when birth certificates were optional. Ilg himself swore he didn’t even know his own birthday and, as a result, celebrated his and all his children’s on the same day in June exactly six months after Christmas.
For more than a century, ranchers and feedlot operators had been grazing their cattle on South Texas grasslands. Then the Environmental Protection Agency, working in concert with the Army Corps of Engineers, interpreted the Clean Water Act as giving them the right to redefine cattle ponds and even ponds formed over flooded land into what they called “waterways of the United States.” The Bureau of Land Management then crafted a law requiring ranchers to get permits for land on which they once free grazed. Short of that they could be fined for polluting or contaminating those newly proclaimed federal properties.
The fact that EPA’s efforts were as well intentioned as the ranchers’ protests were strident probably hadn’t registered with Ilg, who’d paid none of the two dozen citations he’d been issued amounting to nearly fifty thousand dollars in fines. In fact, he’d been purposely setting his cattle to graze near those waterways on a regular basis, including the day the sheriff’s department came to serve him with an arrest warrant for the unpaid levies. The first of the militiamen who’d come in expectation of exactly that moment sprang from positions of cover, training their guns on the four deputies who had the sense not to draw theirs in response.
By the time those the reinforcements they summoned arrived, more militiamen had spilled in and more continued to show up seemingly by the hour. They formed a perimeter around the area Ilg had staked out and returned with his cattle every day to graze, further inciting the potential of violence the militiamen seemed to thirst for while pawing the triggers of their AR-15s and hunting rifles. One had been arrested during a routine traffic stop after a highway patrolman had spotted a Gatling gun in the back of his pick-up.
The standoff had been going on for three days now with neither side showing any signs of giving in or up. For his part, Ilg had no reason to acquiesce either to the demands of the EPA to stop grazing his cattle amid federally protected waters or to the attempts of the Bureau of Land Management rangers to collect the bulk of the fines levied against him. For their part, the militiamen who’d gathered at Ilg’s ranch not far from Uvalde likely saw his faux crusade as another last stand to preserve the so-called real and free America. They wore the fatigues and gear of real soldiers, imagining themselves to be as brave and skilled as true servicemen fighting real wars instead of imaginary ones. Annointing themselves as the only just moral arbiters, when all they really wanted was an opportunity to parade around with their weapons in the hope of someday getting an actual chance to use them.
Caitlin saw the second roadblock at the head of a side road off the highway leading straight to Christoph Russell Ilg’s ranch. From this distance the scene had the look of a child’s play scene with toy soldiers staged to confront each other on a paper machĂ© battlefield. Drawing closer, Caitlin was able to see the true scope of the danger with heavily armed highway patrolmen poised in flak jackets behind their vehicles while even more heavily armed militiamen peeked out from behind various boulders, trees and thick fence posts. A television truck bearing the markings of a national cable news channel, meanwhile, was parked between the rival fronts, a technician unloading equipment while a reporter Caitlin thought she recognized looked on casually.
She pulled her SUV over and was met by a highway patrol captain she’d worked with before as soon as she climbed out.
“Morning, Frank,” she said to Captain Francis Denbow.
“You got no call to be here, Caitlin,” he said, mopping the sweat from his brow with a sleeve.
“That’s what they told me at the checkpoint back up eighty-three.”
“Well, you should have listened to them.”
“Thanks, anyway.”
“For what?”
“Not telling me you have the situation under control.”
“Because we damn well don’t. A car backfiring could set off a whole shooting war here over waters not fit to drink. Last thing we need is you stirring the pot. Hope you don’t mind I called Austin to get them to call you off.”
“Too bad my cell phone’s not working,” Caitlin told him, reaching back inside the SUV to grab a set of tri-folded pages from the visor.

Zavala County, Texas
Caitlin continued into the open space of road and land between the two armed camps, ignoring the threats shouted her way by the militiamen. She walked on without slowing, heading straight into more guns than she could count while making sure her SIG-Sauer P226 remained in plain view in its holster. She held the pages before her as well, feeling them rustle in the breeze lifting off the prairie. It picked up briefly, hard enough to whisk the hat off a militiamen lying prone over the rim of an arroyo holding a rifle with telescopic sight fixed on her. She caught the heavy whomp-whomp-whomp of a helicopter circling overhead, this network or that sure to be getting shots of the standoff.
That’s when she spotted the man in the light colored suit and graying ginger-shaded hair striding her way from the side of the road where most of the media had gathered, hands tucked into his pants pockets.
“Well, well, well,” grinned Congressman Asa Fraley who represented Texas’ 32nd District, voice droning as if he were still giving an interview, “look who it is. Just what we need right now, some gasoline sprayed on the fire.”
“I’m just here doing my job, Congressman,” Caitlin said, standing stiff before him.
Fraley stopped close enough to Caitlin for her to be able to smell the spearmint lacing his breath. “The problem, Ranger, is I’m here doing my job too. In this case that means putting out a fire, not fanning the flames.”
Caitlin nodded. “I couldn’t help but notice which side you’re standing with, sir.”
“I’m just trying to defuse the situation. That man’s a patriot, Ranger,” Fraley said, looking back toward Christoph Ilg holding court with any media type who’d listen. “I would’ve thought you of all people would see that.”
“Really? Why?”
“Because the Texas Rangers were birthed to lend justice to a frontier not all that much different than this one.”
“Oh, it was plenty different, Congressman,” Caitlin said, blowing out her own breath to chase the spearmint back. He’d stopped close enough to leave them contending for the same space, Fraley treating her more like another reporter with whom he needed to establish an instant familiarity. “Back then, my ancestors had their hands full with Mexican bandits and marauding Indian tribes. They never had to deal with the likes of anti-government militias and politicians looking for any soapbox to shoot off their mouths.” She spotted a man glaring at her, having drawn closer to Ilg’s right flank and packing a cannon-sized pistol. “Do you have a brother, sir?”
“That’s none of your business.”
“Because I just noticed a man who looks an awful lot like you. That twin of yours maybe, the one who can’t keep himself out of trouble? As I recall, even in Texas a felon carrying a gun is a probation violation. Maybe I should run him in.”
Fraley took a step back, aware suddenly the space wasn’t his to command as he was normally accustomed. His gaze grew flat and harsh, his eyes narrowing to mere slits barely revealing his grayish pupils. Caitlin had never seen a man with gray eyes before, nor one with a dye job gone so wrong, Fraley’s strands of coarse hair evenly mixed between shades of orange and corn yellow.
“How many men have you killed exactly, Ranger?”
“One less than maybe I should have, Congressman.”
“Is that a threat?”
“No more than that subpoena you keep promising to slap me with to drag me before that committee of yours in Washington.”
“It’s called the Government Oversight Committee and you’re going to find that we take our work very seriously.”
“So do I, sir,” Caitlin said, peering past him. “Speaking of which, please step aside so I can do my job.”

Author Bio:

Jon LandJon Land is the USA Today bestselling author of the 38 novels, including seven titles in the critically acclaimed Caitlin Strong series: Strong Enough to Die, Strong Justice, Strong at the Break, Strong Vengeance, Strong Rain Falling (winner of the 2014 International Book Award and 2013 USA Best Book Award for Mystery-Suspense) and Strong Darkness (winner of the 2014 USA Books Best Book Award and the 2015 International Book Award for Thriller).

Caitlin Strong returns this October in Strong Light of Day, to be followed by Darkness Rising, his sci-fi collaboration with Heather Graham coming from Forge in June of 2016.

Jon is a 1979 graduate of Brown University, lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

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Disclaimer: Mary Bearden personally reviewed these products. I did not receive any monetary compensation for my review, just a sample product. All opinions are mine and belong to me solely. My thoughts and opinions may differ from you.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

An Amish Christmas Gift Book Review

This book is about 3 different Amish Christmas stories put into one book for those who love reading how the Amish celebrate their holiday. The book is called An Amish Christmas Gift written by Amy Clipston, Ruth Reid and Kelly Irvin.
Naomi’s Gift by Amy Clipston

Naomi has begun to believe that she isn’t meant to find love, but she might receive more than she has ever hoped for this Christmas.

Twenty-four-year-old Naomi King has all but given up on marriage and children. As Christmas approaches, Naomi is certain that her life will be spent as an old maid, helping with the family’s quilting business and taking care of her eight siblings. Then she meets Caleb, a young widower with a 7-year-old daughter, and her world is once again turned upside-down.

An Unexpected Joy by Ruth Reid

Abigail has driven other suitors away, but can Micah find a way to show her he cares?

Being a caregiver for Micah Zook’s grandmother is the answer to Abigail’s prayers. In fact, the elderly lady keeps finding ways to set Abigail up with her grandson. Despite Abigail’s constant chatter, Micah realizes he’s beginning to care for her—until he makes a decision that leaves her feeling betrayed. With Christmas in their midst, can Micah find a way to reconcile with Abigail and to reveal the true feelings of his heart?

A Christmas Visitor by Kelly Irvin

Frannie Mast returns to Bee County for Christmas, but her heart stays back in Missouri with an Englisch farm boy.

Frannie knows her parents have the best of intentions when they send her back to Bee County, Texas, to live with her aunt and her aunt’s new husband Mordecai. After all, Frannie knows nothing can come of a relationship with Rocky, the handsome Englisch farm boy back in Missouri. But all bets are off when Rocky follows Frannie to Texas to plead his case. Could he be the Christmas gift to end all gifts? 
My Thoughts:
If you love reading about how the Amish live, then this book is going to thrill you, especially since it's all about Christmas stories!
This book has 3 separate stories about 3 different Amish women and how their holiday is shaping up. What makes these stories so great is that these Amish women think that love has all but forgotten about them and then something happens that give them all hope.
I think this is really a universal fear that most women face at one time or another in their lives, so that is why we can sympathize with these 3 great Amish women who think all is lost until fate steps in and gives them a great gift for Christmas.
How each of these woman are able to accept their gifts is the best parts of their stories. Each one has a great morale and story behind them and they are definitely worth the time to read.
If you love Christmas and reading Amish stories, this book will become one of your favorites!
Happy Reading!
About the Authors:
Amy Clipston is the award-winning and best-selling author of the Kauffman Amish Bakery series. Her novels have hit multiple best-seller lists including CBD, CBA, and ECPA. Amy holds a degree in communication from Virginia Wesleyan College and works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, and four spoiled rotten cats. Visit her online at Facebook: AmyClipstonBooks Twitter: @AmyClipston
Ruth Reid is a CBA and ECPA bestselling author of the Heaven on Earth series. She's a full-time pharmacist who lives in Florida with her husband and three children. When attending Ferris State University School of Pharmacy in Big Rapids, Michigan, she lived on the outskirts of an Amish community and had several occasions to visit the Amish farms. Her interest grew into love as she saw the beauty in living a simple life. Visit Ruth online at, Facebook: Author-Ruth-Reid, Twitter: @authorruthreid.
Kelly Irvin is the author of The Beekeeper’s Son, the critically acclaimed first novel of the Amish of Bee County series. Kelly is also the author of several Amish series including the Bliss Creek Amish series, the New Hope Amish series, and the Amish of Bee County series. She has also penned two romantic suspense novels, A Deadly Wilderness and No Child of Mine. The Kansas native is a graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism. She has been writing nonfiction professionally for thirty years, including ten years as a newspaper reporter, mostly in Texas-Mexico border towns.

She has worked in public relations for the City of San Antonio for twenty years. Kelly has been married to photographer Tim Irvin for twenty-seven years. They have two young adult children, two cats, and a tank full of fish. In her spare time, she likes to write short stories and read books by her favorite authors. Website:, Twitter: @Kelly_S_Irvin, Facebook: Kelly.Irvin.Author.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Wildalone Book Review

I have a really good YA Fantasy/Thriller for you that I know you are going to love! It's so twisted yet so compelling, I really don't know which category to put it in. There is a supernatural feel to it that I know a lot of you will appreciate. The book is Wildalone written by Krassi Zourkova.
In this darkly imaginative debut novel full of myth, magic, romance, and mystery, a Princeton freshman is drawn into a love triangle with two enigmatic brothers, and discovers terrifying secrets about her family and herself—a bewitching blend of Twilight, The Secret History, Jane Eyre, and A Discovery of Witches.

Arriving at Princeton for her freshman year, Thea Slavin finds herself alone, a stranger in a strange land. Away from her family and her Eastern European homeland for the first time, she struggles to adapt to unfamiliar American ways and the challenges of college life—including an enigmatic young man whose brooding good looks and murky past intrigue her. Drawn to the elusive Rhys and his equally handsome and mysterious brother, Jake, she ventures into a sensual mythic underworld as irresistible as it is dangerous.

In this shadow world that seems to mimic Greek mythology and the Bulgarian legends of the samodivi or “wildalones”—forest witches who beguile and entrap men—Thea will discover a family secret bound to transform her forever . . . if she can accept that dead doesn't always mean gone, and love doesn't always distinguish between the two.
Purchase your copy on Amazon or check it out on Goodreads 
My Thoughts:
Wow, I was literally blown away by this book! It has everything you could ask for in a supernatural/spooky kind of book and it's perfect for the Halloween season! You could actually put this genre in several different types of books depending on how you view those selections.
This is a dark story about a girl who desperately wants to fit in and she finds her match in a set of brothers that are as secretive and dark as they come. And the really bad part is that they both want Thea, who doesn't understand what she is or what they are. Which is why she ultimately gets dragged into a love triangle with the two of them.
I must warn you that this book can be disturbing in some of it's portrayal of Thea and Rhys, but it didn't really bother me other than I wish Thea had stood up for herself a little more aggressively. Otherwise, it's a fantasy type book and you have to read it and judge it as such. I don't want my fantasy books to be seeped into reality because I have enough reality in my life. I want something so bizarre that when I read it, I know that no way can this happen in real life.
If you like your Fantasy/Supernatural books the same way, then you will enjoy reading this book. If you like more reality, then maybe not. The way it ended I am betting there will be a sequel!
Happy Reading!

Disclaimer: Mary Bearden personally reviewed these products. I did not receive any monetary compensation for my review, just a sample product.  All opinions are mine and belong to me solely. My thoughts and opinions may differ from you. 

Worthy Book Review

I have another book to share with you called Worthy written by Catherine Ryan Hyde that is a romance/drama book that I think you will really enjoy reading.
They might’ve been a family. 
Virginia finally had the chance to explore a relationship with Aaron when he asked her on a date. She had been waiting, hoping that the widower and his young son, Buddy, would welcome her into their lives. But a terrible tragedy strikes on the night of their first kiss, crushing their hopes for a future together. 
Nineteen years later, Virginia is engaged, though she has not forgotten Aaron or Buddy. When her dog goes missing and it comes to light that her fiancĂ© set him loose, a distraught Virginia breaks off the engagement and is alone once again. A shy young man has found the missing pet, and although he’s bonded with the animal, he answers his conscience and returns the dog.  
Before long, Virginia and the young man discover a connection from their pasts that will help them let go of painful memories and change their lives forever. 
My Thoughts:
This book is definitely filled with it's share of tragedy and there will be plenty of events that will break your heart, but it also has some really great moments that will have you smiling. This is a really good story about how life works sometimes and although it's not fair, it's the way things work out sometimes.
If you just continue to be who you really are, I believe good things will come in time. As the old saying goes, "God's time is different than our time" and that is just about true. We hardly ever get things the exact moment that we want them, but they eventually work their way around and once we have what we truly need, it's like the time factor melts away and we really don't remember waiting all that long.
Buddy and Virginia were meant to be together but life interrupted the perfect moment for them to be a family, but in some ways, I guess it was really meant for them to find each other later in life when their need was much greater than all those years ago.
This book is a heartwarming story of how people can find their way back to a happier time if we just allow it to happen. I bet some of you might even cry a tear or two while reading this book, I know I did!
Happy Reading!
About the Author:

An avid hiker, traveler, equestrian, and amateur photographer, she has just released her first book of photos, 365 DAYS OF GRATITUDE: PHOTOS FROM A BEAUTIFUL WORLD.

She is co-author, with publishing industry blogger Anne R. Allen, of HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE: A SELF-HELP GUIDE.

Her best-known novel, PAY IT FORWARD, was adapted into a major motion picture, chosen by the American Library Association for its Best Books for Young Adults list, and translated into more than 23 languages for distribution in over 30 countries. The paperback was released in October 2000 by Pocket Books and quickly became a national bestseller. Simon & Schuster released PAY IT FORWARD: YOUNG READERS' EDITION in August of '14. It is suitable for kids as young as eight. A special Fifteenth Anniversary Edition of the original PAY IT FORWARD was released in December of '14

LOVE IN THE PRESENT TENSE enjoyed bestseller status in the UK, where it broke the top ten, spent five weeks on the bestseller lists, was reviewed on a major TV book club, and shortlisted for a Best Read of the Year award at the British Book Awards. Both BECOMING CHLOE and JUMPSTART THE WORLD were included on the ALA's Rainbow List, and JUMPSTART THE WORLD was a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards. WHERE WE BELONG won two Rainbow Awards in 2013.

Disclaimer: Mary Bearden personally reviewed these products. I did not receive any monetary compensation for my review, just a sample product. All opinions are mine and belong to me solely. My thoughts and opinions may differ from you.

Pandemic Book Review

Wow, if you love reading about viruses or other kinds of things that might wipe us all out, then you definitely don't want to miss out on reading Pandemic written by Yvonne Ventresca.
Even under the most normal circumstances, high school can be a painful and confusing time. Unfortunately, Lilianna’s circumstances are anything but normal. Only a few people know what caused her sudden change from model student to the withdrawn pessimist she has become, but her situation isn’t about to get any better. When people begin coming down with a quick-spreading illness that doctors are unable to treat, Lil’s worst fears are realized.  
With her parents called away on business before the contagious outbreak—her father in Delaware covering the early stages of the disease and her mother in Hong Kong and unable to get a flight back to New Jersey—Lil’s town is hit by what soon becomes a widespread illness and fatal disaster. Now, she’s more alone than she’s been since the “incident” at her school months ago.

With friends and neighbors dying all around her, Lil does everything she can just to survive. But as the disease rages on, so does an unexpected tension as Lil is torn between an old ex and a new romantic interest. Just when it all seems too much, the cause of her original trauma shows up at her door. In this thrilling debut from author Yvonne Ventresca, Lil must find a way to survive not only the outbreak and its real-life consequences, but also her own personal demons. 
My Thoughts:
Wow, this was really a hard book to read! It is filled with a lot of drama and what makes it so dramatic is that this girl is still in school and her parents are off in other parts of the world doing their jobs and when this epic virus hits, she is all alone at home.
It has several story lines going on and one of them has to do with a former teacher whom she is scared to death of and because there are no parents around, she is even more terrified of him. I don't know from the way the book describes the incident if she just thought something happened or it really did and the teacher is totally clueless that he passed a boundary that is forbidden.
And of course, this is when the virus strikes and Lil is left to fend for herself until she meets another student from school who doesn't live far from her. He is also on his own because his mother is stuck at work, so he has to take care of his brothers and sisters. He seems to be the only one that Lil can talk to and confide her deepest secrets. Because of him, she manages to rise above all her doubts of whether she will be able to survive or not.
This is one doomsday book you should read because it's about much more than the virus and how we react to a crisis. It's got a moral to the story and it will give you some idea's on how to reconcile some differences with your peers.
Happy Reading!
About the Author:
Before becoming a children's writer, Yvonne Ventresca wrote computer programs and taught others how to use technology. Now she happily spends her days writing stories instead of code.

Ventresca is the author of the young adult novel Pandemic, published by Sky Pony Press. In Pandemic, a teen struggles to survive not only a deadly outbreak and its real-life consequences, but also her own personal demons. Ventresca's other writing credits include a short story in the YA dystopian anthology Prep for Doom, two nonfiction books for kids, Avril Lavigne (a biography of the singer) and Publishing (about careers in the field), along with various articles for teens and adults.

Besides writing, she enjoys learning Isshinryu karate, which she has studied for the last ten years.
Disclaimer: Mary Bearden personally reviewed these products. I did not receive any monetary compensation for my review, just a sample product.  All opinions are mine and belong to me solely. My thoughts and opinions may differ from you. 

The Memory Box Book Review

I have another thriller/drama book to share with you today that I think you would enjoy reading. It's called The Memory Box written by Eva Lesko Natiello.
In this gripping psychological thriller, Caroline Thompson, Googles herself and discovers a past she doesn't remember. HOUSTON WRITERS GUILD 2014 MANUSCRIPT AWARD WINNER .
What would you do if you Googled yourself and uncovered something shocking? In this page turner suspense, a group of privileged suburban moms amuse themselves by Googling everyone in town, digging up dirt to fuel thorny gossip. Caroline Thompson, devoted mother of two, sticks to the moral high ground and attempts to avoid these women. She’s relieved to hear her name appears only three times, citing her philanthropy.  
Despite being grateful that she has nothing to hide, a delayed pang of insecurity prods Caroline to Google her maiden name—which none of the others know. The hits cascade like a tsunami. Caroline’s terrified by what she reads. An obituary for her sister, JD? That’s absurd. With every click, the revelations grow more alarming. They can’t be right. She’d know. Caroline is hurled into a state of paranoia—upending her blissful family life—desperate to prove these allegations false before someone discovers they’re true. 
The disturbing underpinnings of The Memory Box expose a story of deceit, misconceptions, and an obsession for control. With its twists, taut pacing, and psychological tenor, Natiello's page turning suspense cautions: Be careful what you search for. 
My Thoughts:
I don't know about you guys, but I have never Googled myself because I really don't want to know what the heck a bunch of people off the internet think about me! How could anyone really know someone just from looking at them that way?
Needless to say, Caroline does do that unthinkable thing and is stunned with what she uncovers. She finds out things that are disturbing to say the least because she is convinced that none of those things really happened. Thank goodness it's all in her maiden name and none of her friends know that last name or else she would be mortified!
I bet people get away with all kinds of things, which makes me wonder, is there not like a Super Internet Cop who polices all these kinds of things to make sure people aren't getting ripped off or slandered?
But, seriously, this is a very disturbing tale of one woman who has to make sense out of what is going on and try to put a stop to this very upsetting development, but more importantly, she needs to know if these things have really happened to herself and her family.
Happy Reading!
About the Author:
EVA LESKO NATIELLO award winning author of The Memory Box A HOUSTON WRITERS GUILD 2014 MANUSCRIPT AWARD WINNER and THE WRITER MAGAZINE 2012 FINALIST BEST SHORT STORY WINNER. She is a graduate of The State University of NY at Albany with a degree in psychology (which helps her to understand the "nuance" of her characters...). Eva is a native of Yonkers, NY and currently lives in suburban New Jersey with her husband and two children.
THE MEMORY BOX, a debut novel, frequents the Kindle Top 100 Paid List. When Eva's not writing suspense novels, she writes humorous musings about life's ironies on her blog. She loves the creative process: painting, gardening, singing or re-purposing (though many D.I.Y. projects have been fraught with disaster, it doesn't seem to stop her).

Eva is incredibly grateful to her readers for their enthusiasm--when they take time to write reviews, get in touch or spread the word. She is currently at work on her next novel.
Disclaimer: Mary Bearden personally reviewed these products. I did not receive any monetary compensation for my review, just a sample product.  All opinions are mine and belong to me solely. My thoughts and opinions may differ from you.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

LaCour's Destiny Book Review

LaCour's Destiny by Robert Downs

on Tour October 2015


Sam LaCour hasn’t given up on men, even if they’ve given up on her, and she doesn’t give up on her colleagues either, even when a dead body turns up, and she faints in front of the cameras, her family, and a television audience.

Book Details:
Genre: Mystery
Published by: Oak Tree Press
Publication Date: August 31, 2015
Number of Pages: 238
ISBN: 9781610091893
Series: Sam LaCour

Read an excerpt:

I dress for success, in conservative suits—gray, charcoal, black, violet, navy blue, hunter green, and maroon—either skirts or slacks, with my long hair in a chignon, out of the way of my intense blue eyes. By nature, I look younger than I really am; however, the suits add age to my youthful face, cherubic grin, and dimples. My blouse and pants were pressed, and I’d spent a half-hour on my hair, while my date probably spent significantly less time in the bathroom. Men can get away with that sort of lackadaisical attitude; women often can’t.

Aaron Nevers, my date, wore a three piece, navy blue suit with a red and blue striped tie, an Oxford shirt, white, and black shoes polished to a fine shine. With his dark hair slicked back from his face, he could have passed for a B-list actor in a low budget movie. He had a single dimple on his left cheek, and his eyes twinkled every time he smiled. Even though I’m not particularly impressed by cars, he drove a 2009 Nissan 370Z, or so he told me, and he picked me up at my door, waiting with a single yellow rose in his left hand, as he grasped my right hand in his, kissing the top of my knuckles. As far as first dates went, we had reached a level I had previously considered unattainable. But I had no idea where we would go from here, since we were in uncharted waters, and all I saw was blue.

The date started off pleasant enough with some mild conversation, a few questions, a few stares, and a few shots from my water glass. Aaron assumed the appropriate amount of interest, nodding at most of the appropriate places. He was different than my other dates, more attentive, less into himself, more focused on my face than my chest, a lack of challenge in his eyes, and so far he had kept his elbows off the table. He had his shoulders leaned forward enough to let me know he was interested, but not so far forward that he crowded my space. My personal space bubble extends further than most, and I gave him an extra point for sitting across from me. Right now, he was in the win column, and he didn’t even know it. But I’d known dates that had started off promising: The one who tried to grab my breasts as he slid to the floor after having stumbled into the wait staff, after having downed one too many Bloody Marys, was at the top of my list of disasters. But I was supposed to focus on the positive, however hard that might turn out to be.

My challenge was to make it through the night without emptying my water glass, food flying, or obscene remarks uttered by the opposite party—the most recent of which happened to resort to obscenities. We were seated in a nice restaurant with a muted ambiance, waiters in pressed white shirts, candles, and live music coming from two guys and one guitar, the vocals a somewhat soothing melody of which I wasn’t familiar. The restaurant, however, wasn’t the problem: It was my date. Instead of sitting across from me, he was now seated to my right. After having made some lame excuse about needing to use the restroom, he commandeered the chair that was most likely to invade my personal space—and on two occasions, he moved his chair closer to mine, inches away from my left knee, while I inched away in the opposite direction; he stuck his arm around my shoulder, before I gently removed it and leaned in the other direction; he held a Sam Adams in his right hand when he wasn’t navigating the circumference of the carpet; I didn’t touch alcohol; and his smile had a hint of evilness that he attempted to disguise with playfulness. But I remained open to the possibility that this might still turn out well even if my instincts had heightened to the occasion.

With my personal space bubble shrinking, I wasn’t too keen on the end result. The end result could very well lead to disaster: The worst offense involved a police officer and a previous date being dragged away in handcuffs. I took a deep breath and pictured my living room and me in it with no one else around. This seemed to help, although it wasn’t quite enough. I preferred to be the one in control of the touching, not the other way around, and certainly not on a first date.

I ordered a small filet mignon, while he ordered a larger version; both came with garlic mashed potatoes and green beans mixed with almonds and cashews. The conversation drifted from jobs to amusing antidotes to previous vacation experiences, and when we reached a pregnant pause, I didn’t rush to fill in the gap. My date liked to rock back and forth in his chair when emphasizing a point. I waited for him to break the force field of gravity and end up sprawled on the floor: It didn’t happen. The music men took a break—maybe even a siesta, or that might have been my own wishful thinking—and I stared at this rather amusing gentleman out of the corner of my eye, who had a rather annoying habit of smoothing out his tie every four minutes. Not that I was counting.
“Do you play?” he asked. He nodded his head in the direction of where the band had been.

“I’ve always enjoyed live music, but I could never hold a tune.” I told myself I had an awesome voice when I sang in the shower. I resembled both Beyonce and Christina Aguilera.
“I played in a band once. We were known more for playing loud than being any good. Our best gig was our spring formal, and the only reason we even managed that was the first four bands canceled in a matter of days. The school was desperate, and we were probably even more desperate than they were.”

I sipped from my water glass, nodded, and excused myself. As far as he was concerned, I planned to powder my nose. I checked my hair, slowed my breathing—the whole touching and personal space issue—and stared at myself in the mirror for a moment longer than I should have. I’d once had an anxiety attack in the middle of a restaurant, while my date had a piece of lobster between his jaws. After that horrific experience, most of which had to do with the lobster poking out of his teeth, I was determined not to let it happen again.

When I returned to my seat, I found my food waiting for me. Aaron had his hands in his lap. Before I could sit down, he stood up, waited for me to sit down, and then resumed his seat at the table.
When I picked up my fork, he picked up his and held it poised over his plate, as he waited for me to make the first move. I did, and he followed my lead. The size of our bites differed, and the amount of water I consumed to his beer differed, although not much else did.

He said, “I’m told you enjoy sports.”
My sister never ceased to fill in a few extraneous details. “I’ve been known to follow them on occasion.”

The air filled with modesty, as my date’s nose filled with curiosity. He dropped his fork: It made a soft clatter. Hushed conversations ensued around us, although I tried not to pick up on the actual words. When I wasn’t careful, my curiosity got the better of me. Listening was an art form; talking was a skill I still hadn’t quite perfected.

“Who do you like?”
“The Steelers.”

He almost choked on his piece of steak. He hacked twice, and then he swallowed three sips of beer, each one larger than the one before it. He blinked, his eyes flitting away from my face, the pupils slightly larger than normal.

“Your favorite player?”
“Troy Polamalu,” I said. My voice filled with more than a hint of emotion, as I pictured the Samoan darting through tacklers, his long dark hair whipping in the wind.
“Pittsburgh doesn’t have cheerleaders,” he said.

His concern for trivial matters that had no reflection on the game itself surprised me. I chewed in silence, savoring each bit of steak, before washing it down with additional sips of water. Once, I probably even closed my eyes in delight. Charboiled, the best steakhouse in Hampton, VA, on Settlers Landing Road, has a reservation system reserved for those with careful planning in mind. Often two weeks’ notice is required, so Aaron had already reached a level of optimism most of my other dates had not. And he exuded a certain amount of confidence that I found both intriguing and disconcerting at the same time. The whole touching thing notwithstanding.

“You aren’t a Redskins’ fan, are you?”
“I’ve always been partial to the Eagles,” he said.
Unsure exactly how to respond, I chose to refrain from it altogether. I stabbed a piece of steak that had captured my attention and pretended to look amused.

He quizzed me on my football knowledge, and I accepted the challenge. Most of the questions were answered without hesitation, although he did manage to stump me on a couple of occasions. Growing up, my dad had wanted boys. Fate had laughed at his request, and he ended up with two girls, only one of whom even came close to sharing his passion for football. I’d been to one game at Three Rivers Stadium when the Steelers played the Raiders. I couldn’t remember the outcome, but I did recall that it was one of the best days of my life—my dad and I cheering on our beloved Steelers, the roar of the stadium, the promise of a successful outcome hinged on every play—despite the cold weather and the promise of snow in the air. After that experience, I had never been the same, and my fate was forever entwined with Pittsburgh. Although we had more good seasons than bad, we lost a disheartening Super Bowl to the Cowboys when Neil O’Donnell showed a certain lack of judgment on more than one occasion. The loss stuck with me much longer than it should have.

“You were never a cheerleader, were you?”
I shook my head. “What gave me away?”
“Your reaction to my cheerleading comment.”

“I don’t have anything against the activity,” I said. “But I’m not the type of person to paint my face with false enthusiasm and have men leering at me rather than watching the game.” Big breasts were a foreign concept to me, and I’d had more than one date comment on my lack of enthusiasm. Besides, I wouldn’t take my eyes off the field long enough to do even one cheer-worthy act. I finished my steak several minutes after him; I decided to forego dessert; he didn’t; he placed his hands on the edge of the table; I placed mine in my lap; he leaned forward in his chair; I leaned back in mine; my shoulders remained in that perfect posture position.

When dessert came, he offered me a spoon. I politely declined. While he finished up and paid the check, I excused myself once more.
He asked, “Are you sure your nose needs the additional powder?”
“Probably not. But it doesn’t hurt to check.”

Everything was in the same place as it was before. I checked my hair in the mirror, dabbed pale lipstick on my bottom lip, and readjusted my blouse and one errant bra strap.

Aaron helped me into my jacket, right before we met the cool night air head on. I shivered as the wind gusted around me. As I feared, he’d saved his most interesting comment for last, and it happened less than five minutes into our walk with his hand lightly brushing my own. The date had gone well enough, or so I had thought.

“Since you’re an accountant,” he said, “would you like for me to perform an internal audit?”

I opened my mouth, but no sound came out. I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, as Aaron took a couple more steps before he realized the procession had ceased. I stood in the middle of oncoming traffic, my loose lips opened in protest, the wind whistling through my ears, the ticking time bomb ready to explode upon impact, and a look in Aaron’s eyes that I rather wish I hadn’t seen. A minute later—and what felt more like ten—I found my voice.

“You know I’m not that type of accountant, right?”

“Does that mean you’re not interested?”

My Thoughts:

When I started this book, I didn't think I was going to like it. It's a little on the weird side, even for a murder/mystery. But, once I got past the first chapter, it settled down somewhat and started getting interesting.

Of course, I don't know what most people's idea of normal, but Sam LaCour is definitely out there on a tree limb! I never did get the whole story as to why an office accountant would be traipsing all over the place, including other people's businesses to investigate why one of her co-workers was killed.

She definitely has spunk and attitude and doesn't like people telling her what to do. Unfortunately, she does faint at the sight of blood, which if you are going to investigate murders, that would be something you might want to work on so it doesn't happen again.

And the best part of it all, is she manages to keep up with her accounting job, although she is short on sleep!

Happy Reading!

Author Bio:

 authorRobert aspired to be a writer before he realized how difficult the writing process was. Fortunately, he'd already fallen in love with the craft, otherwise Sam and Casey might never have seen print. Originally from West Virginia, he has lived in Virginia, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and now resides in California.

To find out more about Sam or Casey, visit the author’s website:

When he’s not writing, Robert can be found reviewing, blogging, or smiling. Falling Immortality and Graceful Immortality helped him discover his true love: hard-boiled mysteries. This is his third novel.

Disclaimer: Mary Bearden personally reviewed these products. I did not receive any monetary compensation for my review, just a sample product.  All opinions are mine and belong to me solely. My thoughts and opinions may differ from you.