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Friday, May 11, 2012

Ugly to Start With - John Michael Cummings

Paperback168 pages
Published October 1st 2011 by West Virginia University Press

Jason Stevens is growing up in picturesque, historic Harpers Ferry, West Virginia in the 1970s. Back when the roads are smaller, the cars slower, the people more colorful, and Washington, D.C. is way across the mountains—a winding sixty-five miles away.

Jason dreams of going to art school in the city, but he must first survive his teenage years. He witnesses a street artist from Italy charm his mother from the backseat of the family car. He stands up to an abusive husband—and then feels sorry for the jerk. He puts up with his father’s hard-skulled backwoods ways, his grandfather’s showy younger wife, and the fist-throwing schoolmates and eccentric mountain characters that make up Harpers Ferry—all topped off by a basement art project with a girl from the poor side of town.

Ugly to Start With punctuates the exuberant highs, bewildering midpoints, and painful lows of growing up, and affirms that adolescent dreams and desires are often fulfilled in surprising ways.
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4 out of 5 (via goodreads)

Warning: others may find the book way too disturbing.

I had a hard time finishing this novel. Maybe because this is not the genre of book I always read but also I had a hard time because it was kind of disturbing in some parts. My first impression of the novel was a bit awkward and a bit innocent. But as I progressed with my reading, it was more of that. It wasn't that awkward and defintely not innocent.

The novel has thirteen different stories from thirteen different people. One link is about Jason and his experiences while he was growing up. His childhood might be the same with the other kids in some parts but majority is about how society is cruel to others in so many ways. His family is definitely not perfect down to their house, which I consider a bad one, and their place. I was kind of disturbed with how Jason described his family. He said that there were many things not to ask in his family and his Dad acting like an ape so he could win an argument. 

There are some disturbing experiences Jason had while he was growing up. He was being picked for being a softy and also because he is the son of his father. His father also questioned him about his art and his love of it. One thing that played a major part while Jason is growing up was when he was being introduced to homosexuality and burden and comfort. 

There are some lines in the book that I really find worth remembering and reflecting and these are:

*"It was my only comfort, my only recourse, too, for once I started crying, I found my place in the family again.Crying reminded me that I was the youngest and would always be the youngest."

*"Love, you see, was a word we didn’t say in our family."

*"In the moments after that, we stared so long at each other that I wasn’t sure whether his eyes were mine or mine his."

*"If you put two men together in bed, in the dark, neither, he said, would know the difference."

*"Life, I thought, was like finger-painting with a hopeless mess of gruesome colors. You kept smudging it around until you got it right.

*"She may have been poor and black and from Bolivar, but she knew how to put her arms around someone when it mattered."

And also one person that really left a mark to me was Rusty Clackford. He taught me that sometimes being silent will bring answers to all your questions.

As a whole, it was like Jason left me hanging. I want to know about what his life would be as time goes by.

What I like:
*The different people in every chapter
*how the chapters were being named
*Jason and how he lived his life while growing up.

"Whatever it was, if it was ugly to start with, or turned ugly, 
we were ashamed of it and wanted it to go away."

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Unwritten Rules - M.A. Stacie

PaperbackFirst Edition 256 pages
Published January 27th 2011 by TWCS Publishing House

Elle is an energetic, independent woman with a successful business and new start in the big city. The bustling streets of New York are not what she expected, yet she finds the freedom exhilarating. One interaction at the mailboxes with her shy, strikingly handsome neighbor is all it takes to turn the strong- willed young woman into a bumbling mess.

Jonah Quinn is withdrawn for good reason; he harbors a dark secret. He lives his life in the shadows, playing his music in late night bars and hiding himself from everyone but Elle's cat. His tattoos bear his pain while his music is his outlet, but it is his silence that keeps his shame at bay.

Can one night of passion between the two of them lead to more than casual glances exchanged at their mailboxes? Will Elle be strong enough to help Jonah with his personal demons. And will Jonah break his silence regarding a past that haunts him?

The Rules for this relationship are Unwritten. A story of longing, love, and forgiveness.
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4 out 5 (via goodreads)

Warning: Not for young adults. (lots of erotic parts so why is it in the young adult shelves, people?!)

I was left in awe. I didn't expect that it the novel would turn out to be one of the most heartbreaking story I have ever read so far this year. I may have some issues with how it was started with all the sensual part but I am glad that I still continued with it and I will never regret it.

Elle is a funny and independent woman living in an apartment in New York. Above her apartment is where Jonah lives all by himself, his music and his art. After a a very brief exchange while fetching their mails in the mailbox, everything changed with the both of them. It is where everything started.

Jonah has some issues with himself and his family and also he has trust issues. He considers himself as a hard case but Elle saw through it and helped him to open up. Not until Elle saw some bottles of pills in his medicine cabinet where everything changed. 

I never thought that this would really make my heart break. I was teary eyed in one of the most important part of the novel. It is so beautiful that it hurts especially Jonah and his struggle to free himself from the past. I can't say something really bad about this novel aside from, probably, the erotic parts where it became so descriptive for my comfort but hey, that's the way it goes in reality.

As a whole, I love it. I love the title and it really made sense! 

What I like:
* Jonah's music
* Jonah and Elle's awkward moments
* Jonah and his reunion with his family
* the MAILBOX.

"I know I’m not perfect. 
I know I still have a way to go, but I need you in my life."

Monday, May 7, 2012

Anna's Journey - Nancy Toback

Paperback176 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by Barbour Publishing

Anna McCort always wanted to serve the Lord in a third-world orphanage, but she ignored His leadings to focus on romance. When her ex-boyfriend threatens violence, the emotionally devastated Anna knows she made the right decision to break up with him. This time around, she won't let anything or anyone deter her from God-given mission. Then, a vary handsome stranger from church takes notice of Anne. Can she trust herself to do what's right? Daniel Boccini never had to work hard for a woman's attention-until he met Anna. No matter how hard he tries, he finds he has to manipulate the situation just to be with her. At least he doesn't have to worry that she will ever want him just for his money. If only he could figure out why she keeps him at arms' length... Will Daniel ever be able to give lower priority to is worldly possessions? Can Anna catch a glimpse of just how much the Lord loves her and wants her to be happy?
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4 out of 5 (via goodreads)

Lovely and heartfelt love story. I like the whole progress of their relationship. They became acquantied through a business transaction, through church and friends..and all ends well! This is full of heart and nothing can go wrong once you put God as the center of your life. This is a book that has full of hope and love in so many ways.

Anna McCort wants to serve the Lord in any way she can. She decided to go to a thrid world country but it didn't take place because of love. But on the second time around, after what happened to her relationship, she is determined to continue her plans. But a certain Daniel Boccini entered her life, willing to help and protect her, willing to give what she wants and willing to love her no matter what.

I like the progress of their relationship. It is like chivalry once again. The hero protecting the heroine in all he can, willingness to wait and giving her the time and space once she needed it. It is the kind of love everybody wants to witness. 

What I like:
* asking God for signs to make better decisions
* progress of their love story
* Daniel Boccini  :)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Guest Post: Unspent Time - Graham Parke

Unspent Time Launch Party

Get free books and win a Kindle Fire or a Kindle Touch

Warning: reading this novel may make you more attractive to the opposite sex and elevate your random luck by about 9.332%*
(* These statements have not been evaluated by any person of consequence!)

From the award winning author of ‘No Hope for Gomez!’ comes a collection of impossible tales. Permeating the cracks between the past and the present is the realm of Unspent Time; time that was allotted but never spent. This is where we find the stories that could have been true.

Such as the story of Kiala, whose caretaker disappears one day, leaving her as the sole Huntress to battle the giant octopi to feed her village. Or the revealing tale of Goki Feng Ho, the ancient Chinese art of decoding the meaning of car license plates. And the heartbreaking story of the man responsible for choosing the colors of the insides of your shoes. And let’s not forget the story behind Unspent Time itself, the metaphysical ramifications of which will leave the scientific community feeling mostly indifferent about it for decades to come…

For the launch of the new novel I decided to discount it to $0.99 for today (PC and eBook), give away some exclusive content, and raffle off two Kindles. All entrants will get:

  • An exclusive spin-off novelette (not available for purchase anywhere!)
  • Making of Gomez: behind the scenes eBook
  • Signature for their paperback or kindle edition
  • Chance to win a Kindle Fire or a Kindle Touch

(Prizes can be traded for Amazon gift certificates if you already own them.)
Just email your receipt to to enter.
Each purchase counts, so stock up on birthday presents (for people you don't like that much, for instance) The discount ends today, but be sure to send the receipts no later than June 1st.

(Or order the books from any bookstore.)
Coupon code for today: ZB77D

And then get by tweeting about your purchase:

Sound bites from Unspent Time:

“I'm looking into my past lives. I'm convinced some of them still owe me money.”

“I'm very polite by nature, even the voices in my head let each other finish their sentences.”

“I didn’t actually want to do it,” Kiala told the boy. “The universe just kind of conspired to force me to make a fool of myself. It does that quite a lot, actually.”

“Sadly, my socks are like snowflakes, no two are exactly alike.”

Here's what reviewers had to say:

"A veritable page turner of nonstop laughs!" -- Reader Views
"An unputdownable read. a Coens Brothers' film in book form." --
“Extremely witty and clever writing.” -- California Chronicle
"A Party for your Brain!" -- Warren Baxter

Graham Parke is responsible for a number of technical publications and has recently patented a self-folding map. He has been described as both a humanitarian and a pathological liar. Convincing evidence to support either allegation has yet to be produced.

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Letter for Annie - Laura Abbot

(Going Back #20)
PaperbackHarlequin SuperRomance #1555249 pages
Published April 2009 by Harlequin

The last time Annie Greer saw Eden Bay was in her rearview mirror. And she'd keep it that way if not for the SOS from the only family she has. While she may have come home, she has no intention of reconnecting with the town that thinks the worst of her.
Too bad fate has different plans--namely Kyle Becker. Despite her attempts to avoid him, the attraction between them grows. But can they overcome their shared history? The obstacle seems too great. Then Kyle gives her a letter--a voice from the past--that could hold the key to their future.
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5 out of 5 (via goodreads)

I am so surprised with this novel. I never knew that I would be teary eyed the whole time I was reading half of this novel. It just turned on some memories of mine. It seems that I can relate in such a way. All I can say is that is WOWed me in so many ways. Stirring up emotions from the past can be really painful yet relieving in so many ways.

Annie left Eden Bay, her friends, family and most especially Pete, her boyfriend because of some unsaid and heavy reasons. After so many years, she came back after her dying aunt, Auntie G., summoned her and join her in Eden Bay. Coming back to Eden Bay was hard for her and also for the friends and family that she left years ago. It stirred a lot of emotions since Pete died while she was away and was suffering from hurt ever since she left.

Kyle Becker. Pete's best friend. The man who saw Pete died in the war. The man who saw how hurt Pete was after Annie left. The man who holds Pete's letter to Annie if ever something happens. The man who loves Annie ever since he was a kid. 

I just loved the emotions and all the pain that was pouring out. Loving, letting go, pain, guilt, fear, and forgiveness.. All of the above was all in one novel. You better pick up some tissues to be used while reading this one.

What I like:
* Annie and Pete's love with each other
* Auntie G. and the way she lived her life

More than anything, that’s what I want for you—dreams. A good man to love and who will love you. Someone who will make you laugh, who will hold you close each night, who will give you children and grow old with you. I envy him at the same time that I pray for him to come to you. 
Live, Annie, live!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Taming Mad Max - Theresa Ragan

Kindle Edition
Published (first published April 24th 2011)
Max Dutton, a starting NFL linebacker for the Los Angeles Condors, is certain he’s going to die young since his father and grandfather both passed away at an early age. Believing his life will be cut short, Max tries to live every moment to its fullest. For this reason, Max shies away from forming close relationships. What would be the point of falling in love and starting a family only to leave them as his father left him and his sisters? When Max discovers he has a thirteen-year old daughter though, it throws all his years of planning and preparation for an early death into a tailspin.

Nutrition expert, Kari Murphy, used to think Max Dutton, aka Mad Max, was to die for, but she’s older and wiser now. The last time Kari reacted with her heart instead of her brain, she conceived the thing she loves most in life…her daughter, Molly. As much as she dislikes Max Dutton for taking her declaration of love and throwing it in her face fourteen years earlier, she knows that if it wasn’t for him her life would be meaningless. And that really ticks her off, especially when she’s hired by the NFL franchise to follow Max around for a couple of weeks and give him healthy-eating advice, foolproof facts about carbohydrates and tasteful tips on cooking and shopping smart. 

Kari doesn’t want to be anywhere near the man, but what choice does she have? Her career is on the line.

** Taming Mad Max finaled in RWA’s 2008 Golden Heart competition under the title, Better Late Than Never.
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4 out of 5 (via goodreads)

I am glad that I got hold of this really lovely ebook. The story's nice and cute in so many ways. There were lots of surprises. The characters are so unexpected. The emotions in this story might not be all okay and might frustrate you in many ways but I don't think it ruined everything. It just made it right and realistic.

Max Dutton is convinced he is going to die young because of family history so he just lived his life and became irresponsible with this health. This is why he ended up with Kari Murphy as her nutritionist to help him. The thing is, Max and Kari had history fourteen years before - a night to remember for both of them. The thing is Max didn't even remember Kari at all. The girl that night was simply Dream Girl. Oops.. And what is quite shocking is that they have a daughter Molly. Twists and turns and everything else came as Max discovered the secrets between him and his family and most especially with Kari.

I enjoyed reading this novel a lot because I am always fond with estranged couples with a child involved. It seems to me that second chances are sometimes worth the risk. 

I also liked the secondary characters. There's Lindsay and Cole, best friends of Lindsay and Max respectively. And also the kids in the daycare in which Lindsay runs. And of course, Molly and her little speech of introduction to Max. That was really cool of her to pull something like that. Here is a sneak of Molly's speech..

“As you already know, I was born in June. I’m kind of a tomboy and I’m not the most popular girl in school. But I can curl my tongue and I’m a leftie. My favorite ice cream is mint chip. Most of my friends have started their menstrual cycle, but not me.”

“I think I’m a late bloomer like my mom and you might be glad to know I made the basketball team."

"I like a boy named Grant, who you've met. I took ballet once, but I wasn’t very good at it. I like to play video games and e-mail my friends. I like pizza, but who doesn't? Well, that’s about it. If you ever want to call me and talk, you have my number.”

One thing I really want to say here is that Kari and her friend Lindsay may be quite annoying sometimes especially with their opinions with men. They can be really cruel in some ways that I really don't understand.

As a whole, I like it. The twists are so unexpected and that was pretty good. But I felt, there is something missing and it could have been better in many ways.

What I like:
* Max and Cole
* the kids in the day care
* Molly's speech

“And I suggest we all leave here today without regrets. 
Forgive those who need your forgiveness and praise those who left their mark. Pick one good memory and carry it forth from this day on."

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