Archive for June, 2014

Review: The Patron Saint of Ugly – Maria Manilla

Thursday, June 12th, 2014
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Mariner Books (June 17, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: ISBN-10: 0544146247
ISBN-13: 978-ISBN-13: 978-0544146242
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Synopsis:

A young woman, “cursed” with a port-wine stain of the world covering her body, through recordings, details her life, her family history, and miracles attribute to her in her small town of Sweetwater, WV.

Characters:

Garnet Ferrari – A young woman struggling to fit in and be loved.
Nonna Diamante – Garnet’s Sicilian Born Grandmother.

Review

This was one of the most beautifully drawn tales I’ve had the experience to read. The characters are brought vividly to life, in often poignant, and at times humorous situations. The character of Nonna was one of my favorites, reminding me of the little small grandmother/mother we all tenderly remember. The character of Garnet is one of sadness, but also joy. You just feel for the poor girl, when she is constantly rejected by those whose love she desires most, because they consider her unattractive. She also watches sadly, as this love is often given to others much more freely.

A lot of the story style, reminds me of the movie, The Big Fish. You never know whether some of the events described were true, or were “stretches”. Through flashbacks, we get to see the original Garnet, Nonna’s life in Sicily and events that brought her to America, and many other events. The narrative though flows flawlessly, and in the end, one can’t help but love Garnet.

I’d rate this on a PG-13 scale due to some language, and events. But for a great reading experience, I don’t think you could go wrong with this novel. If you like rich characters, then this is definitely one for you. I heartily recommend it. It hits shelves on June 15-17, 2014.

About the Author

West Virginia native Marie Manilla is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her fiction has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Mississippi Review, Prairie Schooner, Calyx, Portland Review, NewSouth, South Writ Large, and other journals. Her novel SHRAPNEL (River City Publishing, 2012) was selected by author Daniel Wallace as winner of the Fred Bonnie Award for Best First Novel. Her collection of stories, STILL LIFE WITH PLUMS (West Virginia University Press, 2010), was a finalist for the Weatherford Award and ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year. Her novel THE PATRON SAINT OF UGLY will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in spring 2014. Learn more at www.mariemanilla.com.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out Marie for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

Review: Drone Strike – Dale Brown

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014
Mass Market Paperback: 528 pages
Publisher: Harper (May 27, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062122827
ISBN-13: 978-0062122827
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Characters:

Captain Turk Mako – U.S. Air Force Pilot.
Christine Todd – U.S. President.
Captain Parsa Vahid – Iranian Pilot.

Synopsis:

The U.S. has discovered that Iran may be secretly working on nuclear missile technology. A special department of the Department of Defense pulls in Captain Turk Mako to go behind Iranian lines and destroy the production facility. However, things are not as simple as they seem. While trying to destroy the factory, Turk must also avoid and fight off his Iranian counterpart Parsa Vahid.

Review

This was a fairly exciting novel with a lot of action sequences. For those who like Air Force type thrillers, air battles, and scientific weaponry, this is a thriller made for you. The writing style was very detailed and presented a visual image of Turk’s surroundings as he battled his way in and out of Iran.

The characters were well developed, and I found myself like Turk. While war novels typically aren’t a genre I read a lot of, I found myself enjoying this, and would definitely read of Turks adventures. If I had to put it into a category, I’d say fans of Clive Cussler and Tom Clancy will probably find a lot to love in this book.

I’d rate it PG-13 for teens and older due to the content. But for a fun, fast ride into and out of Iran, and some great air battles, pick up Drone Strike, and be sure to drop back by and let us know what you thought.

About the Author

Former U.S. Air Force captain Dale Brown is the superstar author of 21 action-adventure “techno-thriller” novels: FLIGHT OF THE OLD DOG (1987), SILVER TOWER (1988), DAY OF THE CHEETAH (1989), HAMMERHEADS (1990), SKY MASTERS (1991), NIGHT OF THE HAWK (1992), CHAINS OF COMMAND (1993), STORMING HEAVEN (1994), SHADOWS OF STEEL (1996), FATAL TERRAIN (1997), THE TIN MAN (1998), BATTLE BORN, (1999), WARRIOR CLASS (2001), WINGS OF FIRE (2002), AIR BATTLE FORCE (2003), PLAN OF ATTACK (2004), ACT OF WAR (2005), EDGE OF BATTLE (2006), STRIKE FORCE (May 2007), SHADOW COMMAND (2008) ROGUE FORCES (2009), EXECUTIVE INTENT (2010) and A TIME FOR PATRIOTS (May 2011). Fourteen of his novels have been New York Times best-sellers. He is also the co-author of the best-selling DREAMLAND techno-thriller series and writer and technical consultant of the Act of War PC real-time strategy game published by Atari Interactive and the Megafortress PC flight simulator by Three-Sixty Pacific. Dale’s novels are published in 11 languages and distributed to over 70 countries. Worldwide sales of his novels, audiobooks and computer games exceed 12 million copies.

Dale was born in Buffalo, New York on November 2, 1956. He graduated from Penn State University with a degree in Western European History and received an Air Force commission in 1978. He was a navigator-bombardier in the B-52G Stratofortress heavy bomber and the FB-111A supersonic medium bomber, and is the recipient of several military decorations and awards including the Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Combat Crew Award, and the Marksmanship ribbon. Dale was also one of the nation’s first Air Force ROTC cadets to qualify for and complete the grueling three-week U.S. Army Airborne Infantry paratrooper training course. He was also an Air Force instructor on aircrew life support and combat survival, evasion, resistance, and escape.

Dale supports a number of organizations to promote law enforcement, education, and literacy. He is a Life Member of the Air Force Association, U.S. Naval Institute, and National Rifle Association. He is a command pilot for Angel Flight West (www.angelflightwest.org), a group that donate their time, skills, and aircraft to fly medical patients free of charge. He is also a mission pilot with the Civil Air Patrol, flying a variety of missions in support of the U.S. Air Force and other federal agencies. He is a multi-engine and instrument-rated private pilot and can often be found in the skies all across the United States, piloting his Piper Aztec-E airplane. On the ground, Dale enjoys tennis, scuba diving, and soccer. Dale, his wife Diane, and son Hunter live near Lake Tahoe, Nevada.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Megan at Harper Collins for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

Review: A Clash of Kings – George R. R. Martin

Thursday, June 5th, 2014
Mass Market Paperback: 1040 pages
Publisher: Bantam; Reissue edition (March 6, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0345535421
ISBN-13: 978-0345535429
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Synopsis:

The battle for the Iron Throne and Westeros continues as 7 people vye for the role of King. War, Destruction, and the loss of life is in store for the people of Westeros, as many fall victim to the power struggle.

Characters:

Robb Stark – Lord of Winterfell and King of the North.
Joffrey Baratheon – King of the Seven Kingdoms
Stannis Baratheon – Claimant to the Throne and Joffrey’s Uncle.
Daenerys Targaryen – The Mother of Dragons and daughter of a former King.

Review

This is the second book in the Song of Fire and Ice Series. The title comes from the fact that with the death of Robert of Baratheon, and the questionable rise of his heir Joffrey, there are struggles all over Westeros for King. Not only has Joffrey taken the throne, but Robert’s brothers Renly and Stannis also claim the throne. Robb Stark is named King of the North, while Theon Greyjoy has anointed himself King of the Iron Islands. With all these Kings running around, there can only be one result, War.

Tyrion Lannister tries to forge his own path to power through his being named as the acting Hand of the King.

Arya Stark is on the run after her father’s death, and posing as a boy joins a group headed to join the Night’s Watch.

Jon Snow and a group of the Night’s Watch are sent after the Wildlings and the King Beyond the Wall, Mance Rayder.

Daenerys meanwhile in the East is still trying to amass her own loyal followers and make her own power base.

Like the previous installment, none of the characters are completely safe. Favorite characters will die, and some will be altered in major ways as the events, the war, and the power struggles play out and impact their lives.

The characters just keep getting more interesting in these books. Like the previous book, each chapter is seen through the POV of one of 9 characters. For some this format may be a bit hard to follow, because you tend to jump all around the world of Westeros from character to character. However, if you can manage to follow it all, the result is well worth it.

Like before, there is a lot of violence, sex, and strong language, so for older audiences only. If you’re a fan of the TV show, you should really read the books as they fill in a lot more of the details than the show manages to. But beware, because there are major spoilers to the TV show.

For a great fantasy, though a rather large book to read, be sure and pick up a Clash of Kings, and drop back by and let us know what you thought.

About the Author

George R.R. Martin sold his first story in 1971 and has been writing professionally since then. He spent ten years in Hollywood as a writer-producer, working on The Twilight Zone, Beauty and the Beast, and various feature films and television pilots that were never made.

In the mid ’90s he returned to prose, his first love, and began work on his epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire.

He has been in the Seven Kingdoms ever since. Whenever he’s allowed to leave, he returns to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he lives with the lovely Parris, and two cats named Augustus and Caligula, who think they run the place.

You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

Review: The Kill Switch – James Rollins

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (May 13, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062135252
ISBN-13: 978-0062135254
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Characters:

Tucker Wayne – Former U.S. Army Ranger
Kane – Military trained canine.

Synopsis:

Tucker Wayne and his dog Kane are brought in by Sigma Force to rescue a Russian Scientist . However, his rescue won’t be as simple as it seems, and they’ll have to deal with some who wish to kill him to keep his discoveries to themselves.

Review

I’ve not read Bloodlines which is the Sigma Force novel in which these characters debuted, so I don’t know how they were written. However, in the style of this novel, I liked it. Kane wasn’t just an addition, but a POV character, and you’d actually get the opportunity at various times to see the world from his perspective. Out of the two, I think he was probably more my favorite, than was Tucker.

The plot is interesting, seemed to be well laid out, and all fit together logically. The writing was fast paced, and loaded with tons of cliffhangers, and edge of your seat excitement. The descriptions of the various locales was very vivid, and brought those parts of the world to life.

Overall, a great adventure novel and a great debut of a new series. I’d rate in for older teens and adults due to the content and the violence. But overall, for a thrilling read, check out The Kill Switch and be sure to drop back by and let us know what you thought.

About the Author

James Rollins is the New York Times bestselling author of thrillers translated into forty languages. His Sigma series has been lauded as one of the “top crowd pleasers” (New York Times) and one of the “hottest summer reads” (People magazine).

Acclaimed for his originality, Rollins unveils unseen worlds, scientific breakthroughs, and historical secrets—and he does it all at breakneck speed. Find James Rollins on Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter, and at www.jamesrollins.com.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Danielle at Harper Collins for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.