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The One Year Bible: The entire King James Version arranged in 365 daily readings –KJV

The Victor

The Victor - Marlayne Giron Many, many apologies to Marlayne Giron--I should have read and reviewed this weeks ago but have been in a bit of a reading funk lately as life has gotten in the way of my literary pursuits. I am hopeful that reading The Victor has brought me out of that funk--I greatly enjoyed this historical tale of betrayal, victory and romance.While not without its flaws, The Victor is an enjoyable read that has a happy ending--my favorite kind! The story is simple: a man named Lucius seeks revenge against the king for banishment and nearly succeeds before the king's son saves the day. And you know what, the plot line works, plain and simple. My biggest issue was getting a grasp on the passage of time. Too often "many years passed," or something happened "year after year," leaving me with an uncertain feeling as to just how much time actually did pass throughout the story--ultimately, about 6-7 years. And perhaps the usage of "thee," "thou," and "thy" seemed a bit awkward at times, but generally I did not find it to be a detraction.Overall, I thought The Victor was a nice read and never boring, which was nice. Giron minced no words, scenes, or characters to convey her exciting tale. I heartily recommend this book if you are looking for an epic historical romance that is a relatively easy read and ends with everyone getting his or her just desserts. For more information on Marlayne Giron and The Victor, please visit her website!

The Borribles Go For Broke

The Borribles Go For Broke - de Larrabeiti,  Michael First off, many thanks to Mr. Thrift for sending me a copy of his book, The Civilization Loop. As many of you may know by now, I will often read and review self-published books if they are about subject matter that interests me. When Mr. Thrift contacted me about his book, I was fascinated by the premise, not to mention the fact I always love a Sci-Fi read.Let me just say that The Civilization Loop does not disappoint. I started this book yesterday and just finished it up this morning; and although I really didn't want to stop reading it last night, in the end I had to get some sleep! I don't know about the rest of you, but I always find the theory of time travel and its consequences (time paradoxes) to be fascinating, yet mind-blowing. In my opinion, Thrift has done an incredible job of presenting it all in his book--a gripping story that will have you questioning at least the possibility of time travel for mankind. Not only do we revisit the Pyramids and ancient Egypt as noted in the synopsis, but Thrift was also ingenious in working Roswell's Area 51 and the lost city of Atlantis into the story. I won't say more than that, however, because I don't want to give away too many spoilers. Interestingly enough, Thrift has also chosen to mix a little bit of God with science, so to speak, and while this may offend some readers, I found it refreshing and very natural.This book is not without its flaws, though I will say that they are mainly typographical and could be fixed by good editing, as is the case with many self-published books. The story itself is riveting and while various typos and awkward phrases were occasionally distracting, I did not feel that they took away from the overall story. Personally, I highly recommend The Civilization Loop if you have any tendencies towards Sci-Fi and/or time travel--it was well worth the read.

Pushing Up Daisies: A Dirty Business Mystery

Pushing Up Daisies - Rosemary  Harris Have you been looking for a fun, cozy mystery to read? Then I would urge you to try out Rosemary Harris' Dirty Business mystery series! Quirky and entertaining, Pushing Up Daisies is a very worthy debut in the world of cozy mysteries.While the overall story and mystery might have benefited from a bit more fleshing out, this book remains a winner. With a wide array of characters, most of whom are quite likeable, you can't help but expect some interesting events to occur, and Harris certainly takes us for a winding ride on the way to solving the puzzle. In the end, since everyone in town seems to have a secret to hide, there's more than one mystery that needs to be solved, which adds a bit of spice to the story.Yes, there's also a bit of potential romance in the air with this book--two eligible bachelors are introduced, in fact. So now, not only do I look forward to trying out another of Harris' mysteries, I am anxious to see who Paula Holliday ends up falling for. Again, many thanks to Rosemary Harris for sending me Pushing Up Daisies for review!

Rubies in the Orchard: How to Uncover the Hidden Gems in Your Business

Rubies in the Orchard: How to Uncover the Hidden Gems in Your Business - Lynda Resnick, Francis Wilkinson I was actually contacted by an employee of POM Wonderful regarding this book and jumped at the chance to read it. I do try to keep up with marketing books (and other business titles) when I can, looking for insight not just for myself and my blog, but also for my full-time job. But ideally, I am storing all this marketing information away for the day when I can work for myself and start my own venture, whatever that may be.Here are my thoughts...For a business marketing book, I appreciated the fact that Rubies in the Orchard was interesting and easy to read. Unfortunately there are many dull, sleep-inducing books on marketing out there and happily this is not one of them. Lynda Resnick relates her experiences and insights in the marketing world using her own real-life examples, but sometimes this had a tendency to read more like an autobiography than a book on marketing. Sprinkled throughout, and often highlighted, are tips and "gems" to hold onto when marketing your own brands. Some ideas are better than others. At the same time, I also felt like Resnick was trying to sell me her brands (heavily at times) while occasionally bashing the competition (though the negativity was subtle). Another aspect that I thought was odd was that the book seems to sell a definite agenda and lays the author's politics out for all to see--does that really belong in a book about marketing? Regardless of whether or not you happen to agree with Resnick's agenda and politics? I will say this--Lynda Resnick is quite probably a marketing genius, as you learn from reading about all of her experiences. I appreciated that she included some of her failures and what she learned from them, rather than focus solely on her many successes. She shares many good insights and ideas in this book, though nothing too earth-shattering. Unfortunately, Rubies in the Orchard also has a tendency to come across as a big advertisement for all of her brands. (I will admit I'm guilty for now wanting to try POM Wonderful juice, though!)

Karma for Beginners

Karma for Beginners - Jessica Blank Firstly, thank you to Nicole with The Book Report Network for sending me a copy of this book! Simply from reading the synopsis, I thought it sounded like an interesting premise and a promising story. Upon starting the book, I realized it was set in the 80's, which I also found to be a nice change from the modern setting that is usually depicted in stories lately. While I initially found the relationship between Tessa and her mother (and their move to an ashram) intriguing, ultimately the story fell flat for me.I think the reason it didn't resonate is that I simply couldn't relate to the characters. I have never felt the way Tessa did, nor did I ever contemplate acting the way she did and making some of the decisions she chose. While this is supposed to be a young adult novel, I was really turned off by the amount of sex and drug use that was depicted. I guess it happens, but I have to admit if I had a 14-year old daughter, I would not want her reading this novel, nor do I really feel that is appropriate for anyone in that general age group. The first part of the story that focused on the move to the ashram and the effect it had on Tessa and her mother was certainly interesting, but the story started going downhill shortly thereafter.The writing is generally solid, with my only complaint being the use of first person point of view. I seem to have become more sensitive to that lately and I really thought some of the phrases felt awkward simply because they were written in first-person. So, while I can appreciate that many people would probably enjoy Karma for Beginners, it did not work for me, nor would I feel comfortable recommending it to others.

Detection Unlimited

Detection Unlimited - Georgette Heyer Detection Unlimited was the last of Heyer's mysteries. So far, it's actually the only one I've read because my mother happened to have her original copy and passed it along to me. As I learned in The Private World of Georgette Heyer by Jane Aiken Hodge, her husband (who left his career as a mining engineer to become a barrister) actually helped her with writing her mysteries, making sure that she left appropriate clues that would give the reader a fighting chance to solve the mystery.As with her Regency romances, Heyer writes colorful dialogues between the characters and develops them fully throughout the book. As you read, you really feel like you've become a part of the small village yourself, as Heyer paints the picture so vividly. And you really feel for poor Inspector Hemingway, who has to put up with unsolicited help from everyone he encounters during his investigation. It's a wonder he is able to solve the murder, yet he manages to do so quite cleverly. Oh, and not to worry, there's a bit of romance in this story, too! For me, as a mystery lover, I enjoyed seeing Georgette Heyer use her talents in this genre and look forward to reading more of her mysteries.

The Ophelia Cut: A Novel (Dismas Hardy)

The Ophelia Cut - John Lescroart While not my typical reading fare, I can see how the story in A Scattered Life would have widespread appeal. At just 255 pages it is an easy read that was a breeze to get through, although I have to admit that by the time I finished it I was a bit underwhelmed by the overall story. The potential was there for a great book (even though it would probably still not be one I would choose for myself), but I thought it fell short in several ways.Both the characters and the plot really needed to be fleshed out in a bit more detail. So many of the characters, whether the women of focus or some of the supporting cast, really felt stereotyped and not individualized the way they could have been. Audrey was the rather annoying, meddling mother-in-law, while poor Skyla was trying to find herself and be understood by her husband and his family, and then there's the crazy new neighbor, Roxanne, her husband, and their wild group of boys. As for the story itself, it was alright, but would have been better for a bit more depth and an ending that wasn't quite so rushed. Given the relative shortness of the book, I don't think it would have hurt if it was a bit longer, if that means including more detail that adds both to the plot and to the emotional depth.While tragedy eventually rears its ugly head (and we all know how I feel about stories like this--it was a disappointment when I realized where the story was heading), there is a glimmer of hope and happiness that peeks out at the end of the book. If only the means to the end hadn't been so scattered and ultimately heartbreaking, I would have enjoyed this book more. As noted at the beginning of this post, I received this book for review from Karen McQuestion, and would like to thank her for sending me a copy!

Priceless Memories

Priceless Memories - Bob Barker, Digby Diehl I don't know about all of you, but I loved to watch The Price Is Right when I was growing up. I have vivid memories of watching it during summer vacation with my mother while lunching at the kitchen table, or with my grandfather when we were visiting my grandparents. He and I would eat our lunches in the living room so we could watch the whole show and not miss any of the fun. So when I saw that I could win a copy of Bob Barker's Priceless Memories at Bookin' With Bingo, I had to enter--lo and behold, I won! This is only the second audio book I have listened to, and while I usually prefer to read an actual book, I have to say that I did enjoy listening to this one, probably because Bob Barker is the narrator.You can't help but smile when the first disc opens with the theme from The Price Is Right. Bob Barker goes on to talk about the many facets of his life, both personal and professional. I found it to be an interesting listen, and I think I probably enjoyed it more as an audio book than I would have if I had been trying to read it. Barker shows a fair amount of his personality when reading, so it engages you more than words on paper would. For me, the only negative was the amount of time he devoted to animal rights towards the end--sometimes there was more detail than I wanted to hear, though I certainly understand how important it is to him. Hearing about the awful things that are done to animals makes me sad, and it was hard to listen to that.Barker really does have some amusing anecdotes from his career as a host of "audience participation" shows and some of the people he met along the way. You really get a feel for what he accomplished in his long career as a game show host and more. Some parts, such as his brief stint as a naval aviator, are a bit dry, but overall I found his stories to be interesting. I think anyone who is a fan of The Price Is Right (and Truth of Consequences) will enjoy listening to Barker recount his favorite memories.

Almost Home: A Novel

Almost Home - Pam Jenoff Before talking about the story itself, I would like to note that Almost Home was released today in paperback for the first time, so this review is in celebration of that event. Again, many thanks to Ms. Jenoff for contacting me regarding this book and for having one sent for review. Ms. Jenoff also graciously agreed to guest post here at Melissa's Bookshelf, and you will be able to read her post about Covers and Titles later this week on Friday!But back to the story... Almost Home is a beautifully written, highly suspenseful piece of work. I will admit that when I started reading and discovered the story is told in the first person present tense, I cringed, because of how hit-or-miss that point of view can be for me. However, this book is so well-written and edited so well that I never thought about the point of view after that first page. Interestingly, while the entire book is paced pretty quickly and the story moves at a good clip, many of the twists and turns (and bombshells) occur in the last few chapters of the novel. {So you can imagine my chagrin and disappointment when I realized I'd left it at work yesterday with about a quarter of the book left to read.}My only complaint about this novel is that Jordan Weiss did not seem very believable as a diplomat. Her tendency to run away from tough situations and inability to separate her personal life from work just did not seem to make her a realistic member of the State Department, in my opinion. She just didn't seem tough enough for the line of work she was supposedly in. While there could have been more character development in some cases, for the most part I thought that Jenoff painted them very descriptively and was able to build upon some of the key characters in the occasional flashback scenes in the story. Some other key characters, however, did not get to benefit from those opportunities and fell a little flat for me.But I certainly cannot complain about the way the story unfolded--particularly towards the end. The connections that were made between storylines, while perhaps a little far-fetched, proved for a fascinating conclusion. My only wish now is that I knew what was going to happen beyond the end of the story. Overall it was a great, fast read that I think other suspense and mystery lovers would enjoy.

Revenge Served Cold

Revenge Served Cold - Jackie Fullerton Many thanks to the folks at The Cadence Group for providing me with Ms. Fullerton's latest thriller, Revenge Served Cold. My thoughts in this book ran the gamut of emotions from the moment I picked it up until I finished the last page.I will admit that as I worked through the first 40-50 pages, this book read like a soap opera and I began to wonder if I would make it through the story. Then, however, Fullerton starts putting the pieces in place and I was hooked. Yes, we know that Kathy Spence is not the murderer, but we are left guessing as to who it might be--from two possible suspects. I was pretty sure I knew who did it all along and upon reading the inevitable (though relatively minor) "twist" I learned that I was right! Paced rather quickly, Revenge Served Cold is an easy read with just enough pull to keep you turning pages. The writing and dialogues may lack color, but I finished it easily in one morning and it was nice to whip through the pages and forget the outside world for a few hours. I could have done without the ghostly encounters with Anne's father, mainly because she likely wouldn't have been able to solve this mystery without her deceased father's help, and that point bugs me just a bit.For the most part, though, I was enjoying my escape into this book until the last couple of chapters of the book when our heroine did something so ridiculously reckless and stupid, I found myself annoyed through what was meant to be the most suspenseful part of the book. I just don't see how anyone with half a brain at all would do what Anne did towards the end of the story--particularly upon learning that the case should be wrapped up fairly shortly. I will leave it at that. Sadly, the way things played out with Anne further tainted my feelings on this book, but if you are looking for a tidy little mystery that won't occupy too much of your time, Revenge Served Cold is just the book for you!

The Sapphire Flute (Book 1 - The Wolfchild Saga)

Sapphire Flute - Karen E. Hoover Because I enjoy fantasy novels I was excited when I was contacted by Valor Publishing to be a part of the blog tour for The Sapphire Flute. Having just finished reading the book, I am even more thrilled to bring you my review, because I absolutely loved this first publication by Karen E. Hoover. (Today is the big release day, as a matter of fact!) Even more exciting (to me) is that this is the first of SEVEN books in the series. I truly think this book has the makings of a classic.This is one of those books I can picture myself reading when I was much younger--I think it would be among my most-loved books of my pre-teen and teen years, along with A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, The Oval Amulet by Lucy Cullyford Babbitt, and Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles. Perhaps it may be presumptuous of me to rate The Sapphire Flute so highly (although I imagine The Oval Amulet is not so well known by many), I do so because this story resonated with me the same way those did. I can see my self re-reading this book many times down the road, as I have the titles I mentioned above.Why did I love this book so much? Firstly, I enjoyed the characters--they are colorful and presented in great detail. Oh, and another bonus? Female characters are center stage--on both sides of the story, good vs. evil. I also enjoyed Hoover's creativity and ability to depict yet another world in the fantasy realm, full of magic and fantastic creatures. Any time that a fantasy writer can make a story feel new, you have to figure you are reading a quality writer. Additionally, I just thought the book was really well-written... It's vividly descriptive without being wordy and paced so well that you just don't want to put the book down. Some of the dialogue may not quite be true to high fantasy, but as this is a YA novel, I don't feel that hurt the book. I loved moving back and forth between Ember and Kayla's stories, and while the end of The Sapphire Flute is certainly satisfying, I can't say I am looking forward to having to wait for the second book now--I'm ready to dive back into the world of Rasann!I truly think that The Sapphire Flute is a perfect book to introduce a younger reader to the fantasy genre. I know I would have loved this when I was younger and I hope to be able to hand it down to any children I may have.

Demon's Bane

Demon's Bane - David Douglas This is a promising first book from David Douglas, who was kind enough to send me a copy of Demon's Bane for review. While I can't say that I loved this book, I did enjoy the fresh look at magic, demons, and spirits. Douglas's magic (in all of its forms) has a science to it, and the level of detail with which he has developed this system is impressive as you read this story. Demon's Bane is paced nicely--I never felt like the story was dragging, nor did it rush by, leaving me feeling lost the way some fantasy stories can if not carefully thought out. Douglas has clearly found a talent for storytelling.In the end, there were a few things about Demon's Bane that didn't work for me, and ultimately caused me to feel more neutral about the book overall. The romance in the story felt like it was centered around sex and I just did not find myself wanting to read about that--it wasn't what I was looking for in this book. Honestly, I guess sex is just not something I ever look to read about in a fantasy novel. But I will say this: much is left to the imagination so it is not really as off-putting as it could be. I also found the writing to be inconsistent--more often than not it was very strong, but on occasion I found it weaker in spots and out of character with the rest of the story, if that makes sense. The cast of characters is good (a few, like Senn, shine), and with further development they could be great.Demon's Bane is certainly a very worthy debut novel. I think fantasy-lovers will enjoy it; particularly Douglas's spin on magic and his work with demons and spirits. And I also know that many readers will probably not share some of my qualms about the novel and will enjoy it more than I did. I am grateful to Mr. Douglas for giving me the opportunity to read his first work, and look forward to more from him down the road!

Thanksgiving at the Inn

Thanksgiving at the Inn - Tim Whitney First of all, I would like to thank Harrison of Bancroft Press for sending me a copy of this book!Thanksgiving at the Inn is an easy, enjoyable read that is not only perfect for the holiday season, but any time of the year. While on some levels I felt that this story could pass for middle grade reading (except for some mild profanity), it is a story that really anyone of any age can appreciate. This story reminds us the importance of being thankful for what we have--and that it's important to remember that at all times, not simply when tragedy strikes.In my opinion, the writing is generally solid, though the plot may be a tad predictable and some of the characters could stand to be fleshed out a little more--particularly Heath's father. What I did enjoy was the variety of characters we see--the synopsis sums them up nicely, and they make for an interesting premise. Some elements of the plot may not seem believable, such as Junior's transformation after his accident, but I think the real importance of this book is the message that Whitney is trying to send. While all of the serious issues are dealt with on a superficial level, that does help to keep the read a little easier for those young adults out there that Whitney is targeting.If you are looking for a book that is a quick read with a message of gratitude, then you might considering giving Thanksgiving at the Inn a try.

Why Shoot a Butler?

Why Shoot a Butler? - Georgette Heyer This is only the second Heyer mystery I have read and thought I enjoyed it, I'm not sure I liked it as much as Detection Unlimited. With Why Shoot a Butler? Heyer takes a different approach by having law enforcement officials that border on incompetent and an amateur who is much more talented in the sleuthing department. That particular device provides for many humorous exchanges between the officials and Amberley. Of course, I also liked the idea that instead of "the butler did it," the butler was the victim, or one of them, anyway.Once again, Heyer's talent for witty banter and dry humor does much to make this an enjoyable read. There is also quite a bit of action, with no less than three murders and one more attempted before the ultimate culprit is found out. My biggest issue with this story was that it was not very obvious to the reader what was actually going on, and what the real mystery truly is, beyond the initial murder of the butler. I did have an inkling as to who the "bad guy" was, but no clue as to the motive. Of course, when the case is explained at the end, Heyer does manage to tie it all up neatly. As is typical with Heyer there is a romance, but unfortunately it is thrown in so suddenly towards the end that she was not able to exercise her true talents in this area. I suppose I could see it coming but it really wasn't worked into the plot as well as it could have been.Overall, this was a quick, enjoyable read and one I think that most cozy mystery-lovers would enjoy. While I had some issues with the plot, that did not hamper my enjoyment of the story and Heyer's writing and humorous dialogues. I do wish, however, that some of the typos had been taken care of by Sourcebooks--there were two or three that were glaring and should never have made it through.

Holly's Inbox

Holly's Inbox - Holly Denham OK, I'll be the first to admit that I don't read a lot of chick lit. And actually, this book came my way due to a case of mistaken identity when the author was actually trying to contact a different blogger named Melissa. I think we both got a good laugh over that and I decided I ought to give the book a try, even though it's not my usual read.Oh my, am I glad I did. Holly's Inbox is hysterical. Seriously. My husband was laughing and shaking his head at me laughing out loud while I was reading. Don't be daunted by the book's chunkster appearance--the 665 pages fly by, as you are really just reading a series of generally short emails. If you've seen my Teaser Tuesday post, you got a nice little sample of what you can expect to read, but there's really so much more... Emails from Holly's meddling "mum," from her grandmother who signs her up for all kinds of email subscriptions, her crazy brother who wants her to front a not-so-nice establishment... I could go on and on, but really you ought to read it for yourself. If I tell you too much, it will spoil some of the funniest moments and I certainly wouldn't want to do that.The email format of this book is a great concept. On occasion, however, I did have trouble keeping up with the conversation and found myself re-reading when it turns out it would be subsequently explained. For a book written in this style, it's amazing that you see as much character development as you do, as well. Do be forewarned that there's a fair amount of talk of sex and sexual references. For that reason I'd be a bit hesitant to lend it to my mother (and I'm sure she's reading this, too) though I do think she'd get a good laugh out of a lot of it. Honestly, if you're looking for a funny read that is light and will give you a good laugh, I highly encourage you to give this book a try. And the synopsis is spot on--you will definitely be happy with the ending.

This Is Me From Now On

This Is Me From Now On - Barbara Dee Firstly, many thanks to Barbara Dee for sending me a copy of this book for review. This Is Me From Now on has a target audience that is a tad bit younger (ages 9 - 13) than most of the books I usually review, but I was interested in the premise and gladly accepted the opportunity to share this book with all of you.My first thought upon finishing this book was that I could have seen myself reading it when I was in middle school. It's generally a light-hearted read that is the perfect little escape from real-life into a world that almost could be yours. The storyline is cute, if a bit predictable--but since we have probably all been in similar situations with a new girl moving to town, I suppose that is to be expected. And who hasn't wanted to reinvent themselves the way Evie was so desperate to? I know I used to feel that way as a pre-teen and teen, and even to this day sometimes find myself thinking about a new me. In the end, Evie learn a lot about herself and her friends and we read all about it in a charming story that provides a lot of laughs.I highly recommend this book for all the tweens out there. The characters are very well-drawn and I would be surprised if others weren't as blown away by Francesca as I was. She was certainly a hoot and a bit over the top, but Evie and her friends were a tad more realistic. All-in-all an enjoyable read!