Reviews

A Review of Model Agent by Sean Sweeney

I mentioned in a recent post that I did a lot of reading while the power was out thanks to Hurricane Irene’s wrath. One of the stories I read was Model Agent, a thriller by Massachusetts resident and one of my fellow BNFFs Sean Sweeney. 

I ended up purchasing a copy of Model Agent the Friday night before the storm hit, I believe it was, knowing the hurricane was coming and would inevitably leave us without power for a few days.

Before reading Model Agent, I had read excerpts Mr. Sweeney posted from the third installment in the Jaclyn Johnson series and was greatly impressed. I had very high expectations, to say the least.

There have been very few books in recent years that have been able to capture my attention so thoroughly that I don’t want to put them down. This past year I’ve come across some really talented authors that I’ve reviewed/interviewed on this blog that have been able to enthrall me when so many others haven’t been able to.

Unfortunately, for some of those amazing authors that drew me in, life got in the way, and I could only read a little bit of their stories each day. (I know, it’s sad.) Not this time, though. I was able to read Model Agent in record time. In fact, I visited my parents during the power outage and told my mother I had to go home because I needed to finish the book.

If you’re a fan of thrillers, this story is definitely one to read. It grabs you from the very first page and doesn’t let you go until the very end, and even then you’re left wanting more, which, to me, is a sign of a great author.

Also, if you’re a fan of the Boston area, that’s another good reason to read this novel. Mr. Sweeney included many well-known landmarks and he described them with such detail that it took me back to my trips into the city over the years.

As far as characters go, my favorite was the lead, Jaclyn. While I don’t want to give away too much about her, I will say that she resonated with me. I love that the author included such a strong, vibrant female who can kick ass like no other female character I’ve seen. She definitely stood out and I can’t wait to see where her journey takes her over the next two novels. I’m rooting for her.

In conclusion, I wholeheartedly give Model Agent 5 stars.

(And Sean, sorry for the delay in posting my review.)

Amazon Description:

The human body consists of two-thirds water.

As concertgoers on a steamy day in Boston find out, water can kill as much as it gives life.

A terrorist attack at City Hall Plaza has the authorities perplexed. The government, in response, sends in a capable but young agent – an agent born from the ashes of terrorism itself – to handle it.

But as her partner dies and the terrorist strikes again, Jaclyn Johnson – code named Snapshot – finds herself in a situation she has trained a decade to face: She’s up against a man with enough money to finance a war against his competition. With a deadline in place to stop him – and with a car holding enough hidden tricks to evade capture – Snapshot infiltrates his hidden installation and finds out her target’s true end game, a secret that could have the world fighting over water.

MODEL AGENT is the start to a brand new thriller series. The sequel, ROGUE AGENT, is also available.

A Review of The Prodigal Hour by Will Entrekin

A couple of months ago I read Meets Girl by Will Entrekin and became an instant fan of his work. I jokingly said in my review that if he needed someone to review The Prodigal Hour, his forthcoming novel, to holler. Well, he took me seriously. (YAY!)

A few weeks ago Will sent me an email with his new baby attached. I was very eager to begin reading it. I had grandiose plans to read it all in one sitting but life has a way of catching up with you, as we all know. Things have been extremely hectic for me with work, kids and the family, so there were times that I could only read for 10-15 minutes before duty called. But during each of those sessions, I was pulled into the world that Will created — a world where time travel exists.

Last night I sat down and finished the last third of The Prodigal Hour. After I was done I sat back and stared off into space for a few minutes with my mouth hanging open a little bit as I absorbed what I’d just read. (I’m sure I was quite the sight.) In my mind I kept saying “WOW” because it was that great of a story. By the end, I had completely fallen in love with the characters and was rooting for all of them to have a happy ending.

Yes, The Prodigal Hour is COMPLETELY different than Meets Girl, but that difference is not a bad thing. I can honestly say this is Will’s best work. One cannot read it and not see the amount of time and effort that was put into it. It’s obvious how important this story was to him. I, for one, know that I could never write something like this. That’s not me searching for compliments. Anyone that says I can is just kissing my butt. I know what I’m capable of, and I cannot hold a candle to the talent that Will Entrekin possesses.

So, in conclusion, I gave Will a solid five stars. (And would give him more if I could.)

If you would like to The Prodigal Hour, it’s now available at Amazon for $2.99. So head on over and purchase a copy. You won’t be disappointed. It’s worth every penny. (I think Will could charge even more, and it would still be worth it.)

*

Amazon Description:

“Chance Sowin hoped only for a new beginning.”

On October 31st, 2001, six weeks after escaping the World Trade Center attacks, Chance Sowin moves back home, hoping for familiarity and security. Instead, he interrupts a burglary during which his father, Dennis, is shot and killed.

What begins as a homicide investigation escalates when the Joint Terrorism Task Force arrives. Where he hoped for solutions, Chance finds only more questions: who killed his father, and why? Was his father–a physicist at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study–working on dangerous research? Why did Dennis build a secret laboratory in his basement?

Chance might not know the answers, but Cassie Lackesis, Dennis’ research assistant, thinks she does. She isn’t certain Dennis discovered a way to time travel, but she knows who told her: Chance.

Together with Cassie, Chance will go on a journey across time and space that will challenge his every notion of ideas like “right” and “good.” One young man’s desire to make a difference will become, instead, a race against time as he tries to prevent forces he could never understand from not just destroying the universe but rendering it nonexistent.

When every action has a reaction, every force its counter, Chance will find that the truest measure of his character is not what he wants but what he will do when the prodigal hour returns.

A Review of For Nothing by Nicholas Denmon

It’s review time again. I know it’s been a little while since I posted one, but I only have so much time to read these days. I wish had more, but since I still haven’t figured out how to clone myself, I have to settle with what little time I have. Oh well! Maybe one day I’ll figure it out.

On with the review.

I’ve read more than a few Mafia crime novels over the past ten years. Some of have been real duds that have fallen short of capturing the right tone for that sort of book. However, that’s not the case with Nicholas Denmon‘s For Nothing. It’s one of the best I’ve read in that genre, hands down! This story is gritty and definitely captures the tone of the Mafia world, as seen in shows like The Sopranos.

From the very first page of this novel, I was hooked! The opening scene made my jaw drop because of how descriptive it was. If future authors are looking for a shining example of how to hook a reader from the very beginning, For Nothing is a novel to look at. I’m beyond impressed with the skill this author possesses.

I must admit that while I wanted to hate the character of Rafael Rontego for being who he was, I couldn’t bring myself to. I was completely intrigued by him, and found Mr. Denmon’s depiction of him authentic and vivid. I was easily able to visualize him in my mind. In fact, I was able to visualize the entire story without much effort because of the detail included within the pages. It’s obvious Mr. Denmon did his research.

So I give For Nothing a solid five stars. I honestly cannot wait to read the next installment.

If you have not taken the time to stop by Nicholas Denmon‘s blog, I suggest you do. He’s hilarious and always has something interesting and entertaining to share.

For Nothing is currently available on Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and Amazon. If you haven’t purchased a copy yet, what are you waiting for?

A Review of Hull’s Landing by James Melzer

I’ve said before in previous reviews that I enjoy stories that make me feel something, whether it be anger, sadness, happiness, etc. James Melzer‘s novella Hull’s Landing is yet another book that’s produced very strong feelings in me, as well as an urge to protect my kids from the monsters in this world that would do them harm if given the opportunity.

To begin with, I was first introduced to Hull’s Landing back when James began podcasting it via his official website. My initial reaction to the opening scene was “This is frakked.” And I didn’t mean it in a “this author can’t write” way because he can. (I truly feel that James is a very talented author.) What I was referring to was the opening of Hull’s, which is definitely one of the disturbing I’ve ever read, to say the least.

The opening scene was one that grabbed my attention and pulled me in, making me want to castrate every single male in the opening scene. (And I’m sure it’s affected other women in the same way.)

Sure, Hull’s Landing is dark, scary and more than a bit depressing and gory at times, but that’s the way a book of this nature is supposed to be. It’s supposed to make you disgusted. It’s supposed to make your stomach roll and your skin crawl. It’s supposed to make you hate someone. The fact that James was able to accomplish all that and so much more speaks volumes about this story.

While Hull’s starts out very dark, the ending is filled with hope and the belief that darkness and evil can be overcome by goodness and light. And I don’t know about you, but I enjoy stories that end that way.

In closing, if author James Melzer can’t understand why he’s doing so well in the sales department, he needs to pack up his wife and come visit me in Maine so I can smack him. I’ve read several of his stories now, and I can clearly see why he’s selling as much as he is. HE CAN WRITE ONE HELL OF A STORY! (Keep up the good work, James. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you.)

TOTAL STARS: Five

Amazon Description:

Nestled deep in the heart of Pennsylvania is the small borough of Hull’s Landing. While it may seem like just an ordinary place, The Landing holds a secret so dark, that there are those who will do anything to protect it.

For decades, young girls have been disappearing like clockwork. While some have their suspicions, the entire town lives in fear – and for good reason. When Rita Clemens, a former member of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, decides to make her new home in Hull’s, she begins to uncover what the locals have tried to keep hidden for so long.

As the race against time begins, Rita will have to do everything she can to protect herself, and to save a child’s life, before one of the world’s oldest evils can be unleashed.

Amazon Author Bio:

James Melzer is the award-winning author of ESCAPE (Simon & Schuster/Permuted Press – December 2011), the upcoming young adult zombie novel, TEENAGE WASTELAND (Permuted Press – 2012), and his short fiction has appeared in publications from Library of the Living Dead Press. Melzer currently lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, daughter, and husky.

A Review of Meets Girl by Will Entrekin

Every so often a book comes along that makes me sit back, once finished, and ask myself “Where do I begin?” Meets Girl by Will Entrekin made me do just that.

I don’t want to give away any of the story, but at the same time, I want to provide enough insight into the book so that it encourages you to purchase a copy because it’s definitely worth a read.

Now let’s get to it. *rolls up sleeves*

To begin, I could certainly focus on a few errors that I noticed while reading the book, but I’m not going to because I don’t think they detract from the story in any way, at least not for me. I’m not going to dock Meets Girl any stars for spelling and punctuation issues when you see books on the bestseller list from the likes of Clive Cussler, Jodi Picoult, etc. that have contained minor errors, as well. It happens. No one’s perfect. I’m certainly not, and neither are the stories that I write.

Now, as for my likes/loves, there were many, so it’s hard to know where to start.

The beginning of Meets Girl transported me back to my own childhood and early teen years and the many hours I spent pining over a certain boy. (Unrequited love, you ask? Perhaps. I did like said boy for a long time, from second grade on, in fact. But he never liked me in return. Ah, such is life.)

I also loved how it felt like I was being directly spoken to in the story. Because of that, I was able to close my eyes and picture the entire story unfolding in front of me. I felt the excitement and sadness, the rejection. The author’s style of writing brought the book to life and made me feel connected to it, like I was a part of it. Although, I did feel like a bit of a voyeur during the sex scenes. (Mr. Entrekin is very adept at writing a love scene that can still make your heart race without getting too explicit. Nicely done!)

I also loved the writer’s internal struggle over what he wants in life when faced with the ultimatum of having to choose between the girl of his dreams or a successful writing career. It’s definitely a struggle I can relate to. I think it’s one we all face in some way at some point. That moment of having to choose one over the other. Which do you choose? And will you regret it for the rest of your life?

Since I’m a mom, it’s especially prevalent. For a long time I thought I’d never be able to follow my dreams. I honestly thought I’d forfeited all my hopes and dreams once I became responsible for another human being. But I realized over time that I can do both. I can became mommy, and I can be a writer. I don’t need to choose between the two, which is great because if push came to shove, I’d have to choose my children.

And while others may have expressed some disappointment in the way the book ended, I’m not one of them. I loved it! I didn’t see that ending coming, but I love that Will chose to end it that way. For me, it added a whole new layer to the story. What was real? What wasn’t? I believe it’s left up to the reader to decide, to interpret the way he or she wants to. I love when books do that. And I tried to do the same thing with A Second Chance. On the surface it seems very obvious what happened, but there are unanswered questions that I wanted my readers to answer themselves. Meets Girl allowed me that same liberty.

I also loved how Meets Girl made me ask questions of myself aside from “Where do I begin?”

  1. Why do I write? Do I do it solely to make my parents and brother proud? The answer is no. While their opinions are extremely important to me, I write because it’s as vital to me as eating, breathing and sleeping. I’m not me without it. And when I don’t write, I feel lost, like part of me is missing.
  2. What do I want from life? I want what everyone wants. I want to be happy and healthy. I want to know that someone loves me for me. I want to see my kids grow up and accomplish all of their hopes and dreams. I want to inspire others with my writing. I want to make a difference. I want to know that I have no regrets when it’s all said and done. I don’t want to look back on my life and ask myself “What if…?”
  3. Where do my ideas come from? I’ve addressed that very question in the past. There are times that my stories seem to come from somewhere else, from an outside source, like I’m the vessel hired to carry someone else’s story to the distant shore. Other times, they come from personal experience, both the good and the bad.
  4. Is life truly what you make it? Yes, it is. I firmly believe that we all can make our lives what we want them to be. Sure, it’s not an easy undertaking, but we all have that power within us. We just to have to be willing to work hard and not give up. And honestly, if you knew my entire story, you’d see it’s true. I’ve worked damn hard to get where I am today. Why? Because I knew that I had control over my life. I could let it pass me by. Or I could take the reins and lead it where I wanted it to go. And I’m glad I did.

So in conclusion, Meets Girl was beautifully written and has left a lasting impression on me. As for Will Entrekin, he has a brilliant, creative mind, and there’s no doubt he’s got a very bright future ahead of him. I can’t wait to read his next work of art. (Will, if you need a review, let me know.)

Total Stars: 5

*

Amazon Description:

“Once upon a time, I fell in love with a girl who didn’t love me in return.”

New York City, circa 2006. A young man lucking into any temp job he can while following his dream to be a writer. A dream girl and a bad case of unrequited love (is there any other kind?).

If the story ended there, it wouldn’t be extraordinary. It would be just another tale from the big, bad, glorious city; just another romance that never was; just another friendship that never got the chance to be anything more.

But the story doesn’t end there.

Angus Silver won’t let it.

Angus Silver knows what people love and whom, and he offers that young writer who fell in love with that girl who didn’t love him in return a simple choice.

The choice is easy. Making it is not.

Making it will break someone’s heart.”

A Review of Kings of the Dead by Tony Faville

Before I delve into my review of Tony Faville‘s Kings of the Dead, I must admit I haven’t read many zombie stories, so my knowledge of them is fairly limited, but I am an avid reader, so I still know what makes a great read, at least to me.

I like a story that draws me in and holds my attention to the very end. I like characters that I can relate to and who resonate with me. I also love stories that make me feel something — that touch my heart. And if they make me ask questions…even better.

Kings of the Dead accomplished all of that and more.

I started reading the book Saturday night around 7pm, and I read through until 11:30 or so before turning in for the night. By that time I was already 53% done with the book. I finished reading it yesterday afternoon.

Once I started reading it, I couldn’t stop. The story sucked me in from the very first page, and it didn’t let me go until the end.

What I Loved About Kings of the Dead:

I loved the journal format.

I loved all the details on weaponry used to deal with the zombies and other problems the Kings faced.

I loved the way all the characters interacted with each other.

I also loved reading about all the stockpiling of food and equipment.

For those who don’t know, I’m a huge advocate of stockpiling and preparing for the worst. I also am a huge advocate of learning how to be self-sufficient and live off the land, so Kings of the Dead definitely has a leg up on the competition, at least in my book. (I’d like to think that if faced with the same scenario, I would be a part of a group like the Kings.)

Now, I must ask, who actually cries when reading a zombie novel? Well, this chick, that’s who. Go ahead and laugh if you want, but it’s true. There were parts of the book that made me cry. I don’t want to give away too much, so I’ll leave it at that.

I highly recommend Kings of the Dead to all zombie fans. It’s a quick, fast-paced, entertaining story that will leave you wishing there was more to read.

Total stars: FIVE!

I, for one, cannot wait to read Tony’s second book Slow Burn. If Kings of the Dead is any indication of what this author is capable of, I think it’s going to be fantastic.

Amazon Description:

When the H1N1 “Swine Flu” virus mutates it begins to not only kill those who have received the vaccination, but also bring on the unthinkable: the dead reanimate. Cole Helman and his friends are not only survival experts, they’ve spent hours discussing and preparing for just this event and quickly head to the hills before the cities become clogged with looting and riots. But the group knows all too well that the living dead are just the beginning of their problems, and they’ll eventually have to deal with the worst qualities of the living-desperation, greed, selfishness, and cruelty-in this new post-apocalyptic world. And a chance encounter at a secret military installation may reveal a conspiracy bigger than any of them had imagined… Straight out of the apocalypse comes the chronicle of one small group and their experiences with life and death, survival and loss. In a world of the living dead, is one man capable of maintaining not only his community, but his own sanity?

A Review of The Promises She Keeps by Erin Healy

The Promises She Keeps by Erin HealyThe Promises She Keeps

Erin Healy

Summary:

The Promises She Keeps revolves around three central characters: Promise, Porta and Chase.

Promise Dayton is an aspiring young singer afflicted with Cystic Fibrosis who wants to leave her mark on this world before she dies. Promises gains some notoriety for her singing abilities, but draws more attention to herself after she survives a series of accidents that would have killed most people.

Porta is an older woman and sorceress who is obsessed with finding the key to eternal life. And she believes Promise is that key following the unexplained accidents that surrounded the young woman and left her with only minor injuries.

And then there’s Chase, an autistic artist in his early 30s who deals with strange visions of trees, which leads to some interesting drawings, one of which has to do with Promise, whom he eventually falls in love with.

My Reaction:

When I first read the synopsis on this book, I was instantly intrigued. The storyline sounded very interesting and right up my alley.

There were a few minor issues I had with the book, but I can’t really say too much about them since it would give away too much of the storyline. And I don’t want to ruin it for anyone. So I’ll talk about the things I can: the characters.

Each of the characters in this book, save one or two, were extremely likeable, but not overly complex.

Though Porta was the villian, I found myself drawn to her character. She was mean, conniving, manipulative, you name it, but I found her interesting nonetheless.

The character of Promise was strong and determined. She didn’t let her illness hold her back. She wasn’t afraid to work hard to see her dream realized, and that I can respect since I’m no stranger to hardwork.

The character of Zach was the one I felt really bad for. He didn’t have an disease or genetic issue to contend with like Promise or Chase, but he had his own share of problems to deal, most of which revolved around his mother Porta. You can feel her disdain for Zach throughout the book and as a mom, that pulled at my heartstrings.

As for the character of Chase, he was beautifully written. He didn’t have an evil bone in his body. He was filled with nothing but light and love and he was the perfect contrast to Porta’s darkness.

One other thing I can say about this book is that the ending left me a bit disappointed. There were a part of me that would have liked to see it end a bit differently.

In conclusion, I give this book 3 stars out of 5.

*

If you have an Amazon Kindle or don’t mind reading on your computer, you can download the first chapter of The Promises She Keeps at Amazon.com. Happy reading!

*

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com 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.”

Suddenly Frugal Review

Over the past six months or so I’ve taken many steps towards living a more frugal life. During that time, I’ve learned a lot of valuable information from many people — information that I will carry with me forever.

Though I’ve learned a lot over the past six months, I know there’s still a lot more to learn, so when an opportunity arises to read a book on living frugally, I take it.

Shortly before Christmas, I was in Ocean State with my mom when I came across Suddenly Frugal by Leah Ingram for $2.99. For that price, there was NO WAY I was passing it up since I knew at Amazon, B&N, etc. it would be way more. And what better way to practice frugality than by not buying books at full -price, which I admit, I’ve always done. Bad, bad me!

When I first started reading Suddenly Frugal, I was excited but a bit skeptical. The front of the book clearly states that you could potentially save your family up to $25,000 a year! Yes, that’s right, $25,000 a year. That’s a substantial amount. Is it really possible?

While I was skeptical, I knew there were many areas in my life that could use significant cutbacks, so I was willing to give her book a chance.

Throughout Suddenly Frugal, Ms. Ingram offers up a bevy of helpful frugal living tips on home repairs, car repairs, family entertainment, grocery shopping and more. She left no stone unturned, which I loved. I’m a stickler for details, so the more information given to me, the better. And this book was most definitely filled with it.

Another aspect of Ms. Ingram’s book that I loved was the Total Savings section at the end of each chapter. It was astounding to see how much we could save every year by following her advice. By the end of the book, it totaled $25,000 in savings. So to answer my earlier question, yes, it’s possible to save that amount. And I for one know it would help my family if we could save even half of that.

When I finally finished Suddenly Frugal, I was upset because I wanted to keep reading what Ms. Ingram had to say.  Her writing style is easy to follow and not condescending in any way. I detest reading books that make you feel stupid. If anything, Ms. Ingram’s book builds you up and shows you that no matter what lifestyle you’re accustomed to, you can live a more frugal life with a little time and effort.

So if you’re looking for a great read on living frugally, Suddenly Frugal is a wonderful choice.

If you’re interested in learning more about Leah Ingram and her frugal living tips, make sure to stop by her Suddenly Frugal Blog. And don’t forget to bookmark it.

*If you are interested in having me review your book, please feel free to email me at nicole@nicoleireland.com. Thank you!

A Review of Alexandra Bullen’s Wish

Ever since I got my Novel for Christmas, I’ve been devouring books like they’re a plate of fried calamari from Ronaldo’s in Hampton, New Hampshire.

One of the things that I love about my Novel is that I can sample books before purchasing them because, let’s face it, there are some really bad books out there that aren’t worth my money. However, I’ve been lucky and have come across a few gems over the past two weeks.

The other night I downloaded the teen book Wish by Alexandra Bullen. Yes, I do read books geared towards teenagers because I feel a good portion of them are far more interesting and well-written than their adult counterparts.

Anyway, Wish revolves around teenager Olivia Larsen who is struggling with life and her identity following the untimely and tragic death of her twin sister, Violet.

Olivia, along with her parents, move to San Francisco from Massachusetts to to start life anew in Olivia’s mother’s childhood home. But the move does not solve the family’s problems. Anger, resentment and sadness still permeate the air around them as they adjust to their new life — a life without Violet.

As if Olivia’s family life wasn’t hard enough, she also feels like she doesn’t fit in at school and that no one notices her. But everything changes for Olivia when she  is granted three wishes by a local seamstress.

I don’t want to give the entire book away or what Olivia’s three wishes were, but I will say this. Wish captured my attention from the very first chapter and by the end of it, I was in tears. Olivia’s struggles with fitting in at school were easy for me to identify with because of my own experiences during my teenage years. I still remember how I felt back then, so it was very easy for me to slip into Olivia’s shoes and picture myself as her.

While some may feel letdown by Olivia’s last wish, I’m not one of them. (Although, it seems the general consensus is that this book is a definite winner based on customer reviews at Barnes & Noble.) I think Ms. Bullen ended the book exactly as she should have. It was beautiful and sad, all at the same time. And it’s a story that I will remember for a long time to come.

I can honestly say that I cannot wait to read the sequel Wishful Thinking. It’s sure to be great!

Before I close, I would like to encourage you to post what you would wish for if you had three wishes. There is one rule, you can’t wish for more wishes. So think about it. I can’t wait to see what you all would wish for.

*

*If you would like me to review your book, please feel free to email me at nicole@nicoleireland.com.