Monday, December 31, 2012


Villalobos Rescue Center
About a month ago, my buddy and fellow blogger, Deanna Fisher with Dee's Book Blog, posted that in 2013, she would be donating dollars for each post she does. She was seeking out ideas for what organizations to donate dollars and she would then verify through Charity Navigator.  As I thought about what she was planning to do, I was in awe at her generosity and I knew I wanted to do the same thing for both my book blog and my food blog, The Pub and Grub Forum.

Unlike The Pub and Grub Forum, this year, I have selected one charity to donate my funds. That charity is Villalobos Rescue Center (a 501c3 Organization).  If any of you are unfamiliar with Villalobos Rescue Center, they are the Pit Bull rescue behind the television show, Pit Bull and Parolees on Animal Planet. VRC, based out of New Orleans, is owned and managed by Tia Torres with a sanctuary in Roswell, New Mexico for dogs who can’t be placed in forever homes, yet live out their lives free and happy. Although it is a Pit Bull Rescue, it seems that there are just as many non-Pit Bull puppies looking for forever homes on their Villalobos Rescue Center website.

I have numerous reasons why I have chosen Villalobos Rescue Center:

First, I am a pit bull lover. This is a beautiful and misunderstood breed that those with malice in their heart justify cruelty and abuse of an animal that wants nothing more than to give them love.  I don’t know how to say it any other way.

Second, I whole-heartedly believe in the rescue’s mission statement of SAVING MAN AND MAN’S BEST FRIEND.  The general feeling that I receive whenever I read or watch anything on this organization is that it is a "hands up" not a hand out feeling which fits into my life belief system. As I have heard Tia voice on the show many a time regarding the support she gives to the parolees she hires “I give enough rope either for them to hang themselves or to pull themselves out.” That is the ultimate to me in free will and being responsible for one’s life choices.

Third, I believe in Tia’s philosophy of hiring parolees as support staff to the rescue.  In an age of prison overcrowding, we as a society need to address the recidivism rate, particularly that of non-violent offenders, coming out of our prison system to prevent reoffending. Unlike the better chunk of society that speaks on this topic as a dinner party discussion or educational lecture, Tia has repeatedly put her money where her mouth is.  We as a society need to step up and take her lead.

So, this year, for each book review I post on A BOOK AND A REVIEW, I will donate $1 (remember, I am doing 2 blogs) to Villalobos Rescue Center.  I hope you stop by and make comments….then check out Villalobos Rescue Center and give Tia some more or maybe even look for a forever friend!
Thinking of other ways to help VRC in 2013?

Here is a link to VRC’s Wish list:


Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Confidant by Helene Gremillon

Book: The Confidant: A Novel

Author: Helene Gremillon

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Camilla receives a letter in installments while grieving the death of her mother. At first, she thinks that someone is sending her a manuscript in the most unusual manner to catch her attention. Soon, that intrigue turns to horror as she realizes she might not be who she thinks she is.

My rating: 3 Stars

My opinion: While for the most part I found the story to be fascinating; it was painfully predictable. I knew what was going to happen. Why it was going to happen. The outcome of what was going to happen.  I just didn't see really anything stand out about this novel.

Source:  Library      

Would I recommend? : I would have in the beginning. After I finished reading the novel....alas, no.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone


Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman

Book: Cover of Snow

Author: Jenny Milchman

Release date (if applicable): January 15, 2013

Synopsis: Nora Hamilton thinks that she is living the idyllic life in upstate New York until she wakes up one morning to find her husband, a police officer with the local police department has committed suicide. Not believing it, Nora sets out to investigate exactly what and why she has lost her husband. Was her life quite as idyllic as she thought it was? What exactly does the snowy winters and Adirondack mountains hide? Is it better for Nora to leave it buried in the snow?

My rating: 3 Stars

My opinion: Although the storyline to this debut was very good, I did have the feeling that it was a debut. One of my pet peeves is when a publisher sets an author up for a crash by comparing their works to other successful authors in the same genre and that is what happened with this book when the author was compared to the works of Chris Bohjalian, Gillian Flynn and Nancy Pickard.

Furthermore, I felt there were definitely sections where the author dragged the story a bit...not to the point where I found myself distracted, but to the point where my overall feeling was that it could have been tightened up a bit.

Source: Publisher for Review       

Would I recommend? : Yes

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

The Freedom Answer Book: How the Government is Taking Away Your Constitutional Freedoms by Judge Andrew Napolitano

Book: The Freedom Answer Book: How the Government is Taking Away Your Constitutional Freedoms

Author: Judge Andrew Napolitano

Release date (if applicable): January 15, 2013

Synopsis: Judge Andrew Napolitano, a constitutional scholar and former NJ Superior Court Justice, discusses ways that the government is infringing on the freedoms given to us by our Founding Fathers through the Constitution of the United States.

My rating: I wish I could give it more than 5 stars!

My opinion: OK..I am a bit biased, but I love Judge Andrew Napolitano. Otherwise I try to keep this blog out of the political zone. But, Judge Andrew Napolitano has a way of coming in with a "no nonsense", take no prisoners, say it outright, no sugar coating manner about him. Furthermore, he doesn't hold back political punches at either party who are both guilty and feel justification at using the Constitution to further their own political ambitions versus the protection that it was developed as a way to protect Americans from their government.

On that note, I believe I have read every book of Judge Napolitano's. His typical writing style is very dry and academic in its' approach which makes for very long, but necessary reading. This was not the case with this book. He was much lighter in his writing style. Almost as though he did a 180 degree turn in his writing style!  It was to the point that I thought it might be written for high school or early collegiate reading. As I delved in deeper to the book, it was evident that this was not the case. In my opinion, this is a must read for every American. Furthermore, as Judge Napolitano is a staunch Libertarian, I think that this is a book that individuals from every political party known to the United States will be able to take something from.

On a final note, this was not a huge book. I think it was less than 150 pages. The book flowed like water due to the Judge's concise style of writing though.

Source: Netgalley       

Would I recommend? : I think I covered that in my opinion of the book.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Broken Pieces: Essays Inspired by Life by Rachel Thompson

Book: Broken Pieces: Essays Inspired by Life

Author: Rachel Thompson

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: As I am having difficulties describing this book, I decided to let the author's description do it for me.
Welcome to bestselling author Rachel Thompson's newest work! Vastly different in tone from her previous essay collections A Walk In The Snark and The Mancode: Exposed, BROKEN PIECES is a collection of pieces inspired by life: love, loss, abuse, trust, grief, and ultimately, love again. This is NOT a humor book! It IS a book about relationships, a study of women, a book with heart.

My rating: 4 Stars

My opinion: As someone who has known Rachel for almost a year in a professional setting, I have been amazed by her aura. A funny, sarcastic, bright and dynamic individual, Rachel is one that never ceases to dazzle.

I was shocked going into this novel because it showed a totally different side to this author. One that left me asking questions. I found it to be thought provoking in the sense that the essays were palpable with emotions that ranged the gamut. I really don't think there isn't a woman who can read some of these essays and not identify with occurrences in her own life.

On a final note, I will say that I found myself reflecting (even after finishing)  on this one novel than her other two novels due to its' grittiness and just simple raw emotion.

Source: Beta read for author        

Would I recommend? : Yes

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone


Garment of Shadows (Mary Russell Book 12) by Laurie R. King

Book: Garment of Shadows (Mary Russell Book 12)

Author: Laurie R. King

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Mary Russell Holmes and Sherlock Holmes are back in the 12th installment of LRK's best selling series. This time they are found in Morocco with Mary waking up with amnesia and blood on her hands. Sherlock is unable to locate her while dealing with pressing issues of his own, namely a war about to occur. Can Sherlock find Mary and help her unlock the key as to what happened prior to her waking up "with blood on her hands?"

My rating: 2.5 Stars (3 stars on Amazon and Goodreads)

My opinion: While I am a HUGE fan of the Mary Russell series, I simply wasn't a fan of this book. For lovers of historical fiction/mystery, the Mary Russell Holmes series is a must read.

On that note, I found myself very bored not only with the setting of this novel, but with the flow of the novel. The storyline was incredibly slow moving compared to others in the series and I didn't find the characters, minus Holmes and Mary, really approachable or devloped. The friend who actually recommended this series to me, I think,  summed it up beautifully when she stated "there was too much politics in this book and not enough action."

On that note and the reason it was bumped up to 3 stars versus down to 2 stars was of Ms. King's impeccable research into her books. This book was no exception. I always come out learning more about a period of time when Ms. King writes about it. In my opinion, it makes a book much more authentic and Ms. King always takes her readers on that journey. Also, Ms. King has mastered the art of writing in the language of the time, which brings a sense of authenticity to the novel, as well.

Source:  Library     

Would I recommend? : I would recommend the series. I would only recommend this book to continue to understand the relationship between Holmes and Mary for later books to occur in the series.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Part of Series


Farewell to Freedom: A Novel by Sara Blaedel

Book: Farewell To Freedom: A Novel (Louise Rick #4)

Author: Sara Blaedel

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Louise Rick is called in to investigate the brutal death of a woman found with her throat slit. At the same time, Camilla Lind's son witnesses a new born being abandoned in a church. Do the two incidents have anything in common? When more deaths occur, Louise must determine if they have any connection to a sex trafficking sex ring occurring underground in Denmark?

My rating: 4 Stars

My opinion: Although this isn't my favorite book by Ms. Blaedel, this one is right up there. She manages to weave to very intricate storylines and bring them together at the end brilliantly. We are also allowed to continue to study the complex relationship between Rick and Lind.  One final thing that I love about the writing of Ms. Blaedel, unlike her contemporaries,  is that her storylines tend to focus on issues relating to the societal victimization of women, but handles them in a fashion that helps to bring light, such as sex trafficking, instead of glorifying it.  

Source:   Library and Netgalley     

Would I recommend? : Yes, with each publication, this is quickly becoming among one of my favorite Nordic Noir series.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Part of Series-In my opinion, books should be read in order to understand the relationships in the book.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Rendezvous To Die For by Bette McMahon

Book: A Rendezvous To Die For

Author: Betty McMahon

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Cassandra Cassidy, a wedding and news photographer, leaves the Big Apple for a quieter lifestyle. When her main competitor is found with a hatchet in his head, Cassandra becomes the main suspect. Desperate to clear her name, she uncovers things that were not meant to be uncovered. When bodies start stacking up, will Cassandra be one of them or just end up in jail for a murder she didn't commit.

My rating: 4 Stars

My opinion: I enjoyed this (light) cozy mystery. Although, I am, in general, not a fan of the cozy genre and think that they come off as much too sticky sweet; I love when an author can build a more substantial mystery or deeper characters. That is exactly what Ms. McMahon accomplished in A Rendezvous to Die For. This book was really inviting in her approach and writing. To boot, the characters were really down to earth and approachable. Finally, I loved the setting.

This is easily a character/setting that I could see develop into a series similar to something like MURDER SHE WROTE.

Source:   Author for Review     

Would I recommend? : Yes, to fans of the cozy mysteries and/or lighter mysteries. If you are a fan of heavier mysteries with more intense writing, you might find this book a bit too light.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone


The Demonologist by Andrew Pyper

Book: The Demonologist

Author: Andrew Pyper

Release date (if applicable): March 5, 2013

Synopsis: Columbia Lit professor, David Ullman, has a specialty in Milton's Paradise Lost, but doesn't believe in what he teaches. When a beautiful woman approaches him with an offer he can't refuse, he takes his knowledge to Venice to offer his expertise. With his 12 year old daughter in tow, Professor Ullman lands in Italy and is eager to look at a new life. All does not go well though and EVERYTHING the professor had thought to be true within his mind.

My rating: 4 Stars

My opinion: This book started off incredibly creepy in my opinion. I was almost reminded of the movie THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE in the scenery and tension that the author masterfully built up. One could feel the fear or incomprehension of the changing of perception within the character written in the pages, which I absolutely loved. I must say that I was really disappointed with the ending though. There was almost a silliness to the ending or that it was simply being wrapped up to get the book finished. It was really baffling given the effort that the author did to build up the story.

Source: Edelweiss for publisher        

Would I recommend? : Yeah, I love books like this. I would also love to see others feelings about the ending or if I am alone in that. Overall, I thought it was a fantastic book. I wouldn't be surprised to see it made into a movie.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone


Friday, December 21, 2012

Looking for last minute Christmas gifts???


I am proud to be taking part of a blog tour today. I have read several of the authors who are participating in this blog tour and love their work. I think that they are the epitome of what I love about "down to grassroots" writing. The books are tops in their story lines, as well as their quality, without the big sticker price of their traditionally published counterparts. At this time, when you are looking for perfect little stocking stuffers, grab a handful of these and let your gift recipients think and thank you all year long!

Just remember, just because you buy the books today, doesn't mean you can't schedule them for Christmas delivery! How much better can it get? It can! Once you are done doing your shopping, you can enter for $990 worth of cool prizes, including Kindles and Amazon gift cards. There is a WHOPPING $500 Amazon gift card!!

All of your favorite genres are represented. Here are some examples, including some reviewed by your humble reviewer! :

Young Adult:


                                                                  4 stars from this reviewer!


                                                                    5 stars from this reviewer!

                                                                 In the process of reviewing this
                                                                             & LOVING IT!



Be sure to head over to and grab some books at discounted prices for all those readers on your gift list.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My Favorite Christmas Memory

I am so excited to participate in author Terri G. Long’s “Meet the Family Blog Hop” today. The Christmas season is one of my favorite times of the year and I have so many fond memories going back to my childhood that I was excited to reflect on them for this bog.
One of my first memories and happiest memories was when I was about 8 years old; I was fanatic about outer space, particularly, Mars. I have ALWAYS had an adventurous spirit and our solar system just fed into that. My mother would take me to the Adler Planetarium and I couldn’t get enough of it, particularly their show that looked at the stars through the night. I could just sit there and get lost in the show.

 Anyhow, I woke up early (as usual) on Christmas day, incredibly excited (as usual) and snuck into our family room where our Christmas tree was. It was dark in the room and as my eyes adjusted to the dark, I made out the shadow of a telescope. My 8 year old mind went crazy. I was so excited that I couldn’t contain it no matter how hard I tried. I flew into my parent’s bedroom and jumped on their bed. Waking both of them, I yelled about how Santa had brought me a telescope. Well, needless to say, that woke up the rest of the house and we continued open up our gifts, I found that the telescope came with a book about Mars and a certificate to a class that the Adler Planetarium was teaching on, yep, Mars!

As I got older, I learned that my poor father had been playing Santa’s helper that night. He had just been able to get to sleep about an hour and a half before I sprung on him while he was sleeping.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Era by Jessica Fellowes and Matthew Sturgis

Book: The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Era

Author: Jessica Fellowes and Matthew Sturgis

Release date (if applicable): Released

Synopsis: Fellowes is back with a primer focused on the storyline of THE much loved Downton Abbey and its' upcoming season as it relates to British aristocracy history. This book focuses on famous aristocracy of the 1920's.

My rating: Nutin' but 5 stars for this bad boy! I wish my ratings went higher!

My opinion: Fellowes has definitely inherited her Uncle's perfection gene. when it comes to the arts! Although this book was much more written word, she continues to do a rockin' job at explaining the history of England's upper crust homes, as well as giving examples of those from that period of time which Downton is focusing on. This release focuses on the 1920's.

** Thanks to Evangeline  on Goodreads and fellow DA addict for correcting me on the Fellowes family tree!!**

Source: Library       

Would I recommend? : Why yes I sure would...and for fans of Downton Abbey (particularly during its' hiatus), IT IS A MUST!! This has helped to curb my withdrawl symptoms for a bit.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Blessed Are Those Who Thirst: A Hanne Wilhemsen Novel #2 by Anne Holt

Book: Blessed Are Those Who Thirst: A Hanne Wilhelmsen Novel (#2)

Author: Anne Holt

Release date (if applicable): December 18, 2012

Synopsis: Hanne is back when a rash of bloody crimes, including the brutal rape of a 24 year old, sends the police force scurring to solve the crimes. Can Hanne solve the rape before the rape victim and her guilt ridden father do their own detective work to get justice?

My rating: 3 Stars

My opinion: Although I felt this novel was better than the first in the series, BLIND GODDESS, I am still unable to "connect" to the characters or the storylines. I just can't get as passionate and am not as "sucked in" as I have been with other Nordic Noir authors. On that note, Holt's storylines are good, in this reviewer's humble opinion, but are just written a tad more superficial than other authors in her same genre.

Source:   Publisher for review     

Would I recommend? : I would still recommend Holt's work, but maybe not as emphatically as other Nordic Noir authors.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Part of Series

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Dragontamer's Daughters Part 2: Stormcaller

Book: Dragontamer's Daughters Part 2: Stormcaller

Author: Kenton Kilgore

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: The series continues with the healing of the dragon Pearl. With her healing, it is difficult for the sisters, Isabella and Alijandra to keep her a secret and people want Pearl for their own purposes. Can the sisters keep Pearl and their family safe?

My rating: 5 Stars

My opinion: This series just really made my heart happy and my mouth smile! I must say that I continue to love this little series targeted towards a pre-teen to early teen audience. What a wonderful, CLEAN and engrossing introduction this series is to the genre of dystopian literature. This author has done such a light, inviting and fun storyline with wonderful characters and supporting scenery which is done so vividly to encourage children to use their imaginations. That is one of the things that I have been loving about dystopian literature. In my humble opinion, this has been so lacking in contemporary literature targeted towards our youth and it was just what made my heart sing in reading this series.

I must admit to the reader of this review that this was a series I nearly passed on when I was asked to review it due to the genre it fit into and not knowing if there were specifics to reviewing this genre, I reviewed it as a parent looking at a book for a child.

Source: Author for review        

Would I recommend? : Most fact, I will be purchasing it as a gift for a preteen family member.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Part of series.

Monday, December 3, 2012

One Blood by Qwantu Amaru

Book: One Blood

Author: Qwantu Amaru

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: What happens when you use a pre-Civil War family curse to get what you want? Louisiana governor Randy Lafitte finds out. His son is killed in a gun accident and his daughter has just been kidnapped by someone with an agenda other than money. Can Randy save her in time or will she become another victim of the curse? 

My rating: 2 Stars

My opinion: Although I felt the underlying storyline to this book was interesting, this is a relatively new author and I found that the writing threw me off. He tended to jump around in his writing which made it difficult to follow at times. I even had several moments in the reading of this novel that I had to go back and reread sections to ensure I was following the storyline correctly. Second, there were scenes in the book that I just found implausible (don't be asking me for any spoilers though!) that weren't attritubuted to "the curse" so that kind of turned me off to the book. Overall, though, minus the points I just focused on, I found the overall story to be pretty creepy. I just couldn't get past the current style of writing.

Source: Author for Review       

Would I recommend? : Yes, I still would to the right reader. This book has won numerous awards.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

The Prophet by Ethan Cross

Book: The Prophet

Author: Ethan Cross

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: There is a new serial killer on the loose known as the Anarchist for how he kills his victims. The Anarchist isn't alone in his kills though...he is controlled by the mastermind...The Prophet.

It is up to Marcus Williams, an agent of The Shepherd Organization, an covert group of the DOJ, who don't necessarily follow the rules in catching violent criminals, to unwind the puzzle and catch both the Anarchist and the Prophet. He is also haunted by the demons from his first case involving serial killer, Frances Ackerman, Jr. who seems to have achieved a celebrity status.

My rating: 4 Stars

My opinion: I was kind of shocked by this novel. Most serial killer novels are more graphic than this novel was and I felt this novel had more of a psychological component to it. Although I missed the graphic aspects the crimes, I must admit that this novel was refreshing. It was much more of a "thinker" and "solver" book than what I was prepared for. I was also impressed by the writing, as well, as the author laid out the mystery superbly. I will definitely seek out more from this author.  

I must admit that I had the same enthusiasm as I had for the early James Patterson ALEX CROSS novels. It has been a very long time since I have had that type of excitement for a novel or that I would even compare two novelists.

Note: This is a second book in the series. I didn't read the first book prior to reading this one, but I would recommend that readers read the first book, The Shepherd, prior to reading this one. My belief is that it probably gives an introduction as to The Shepherd Organization and the relationship between the two main characters, Frances Ackerman, Jr and Marcus Williams,  in the first novel, which I believe would have bumped this up to 5 stars for me.

Source:   Netgalley for publisher     

Would I recommend? : Yes

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Part of Series


Trust Your Eyes by Linwood Barclay

Book: Trust Your Eyes

Author: Linwood Barclay

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Schizophrenic and agoraphobic Thomas Kilbride is obsessed with an online mapping program and emailing President Clinton. When Thomas sends one to many emails to the CIA and President Clinton, the FBI get involved. Thomas' brother, Ray, must step in and provide the daily care for Thomas and becomes close to one of the FBI. Then, Thomas witnesses a murder while surfing around on Whirl360 (similar to Google Earth). As the hit person is trying to clean up her mistake, she becomes aware that Thomas is out there and needs to silence him as well. Can Ray get Thomas to leave his room or are they sitting ducks to a hit woman who doesn't like witnesses?

My rating: 4.5 Stars

My opinion: I think one of the reviewers nailed it when he compared it to a modern version of Hitchcock's famous film REAR WINDOW. As usual, I loved Barclay's build-up and the unique storyline that this book had compared to other books of his..

I must admit that I am a huge Linwood Barclay fan...have been since I read the first book I had picked up by him. Although it did take me a little bit more time to get into this one, once I did, I couldn't put it down. This book has the typical characteristics of dynamic, engrossing storyline and multidimensional characters.

Source: Library        

Would I recommend? : Yes

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand alone