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26 June 2010

Book Review: Dangerous Desires by Dee Davis

Title: Dangerous Desires
Author: Dee Davis
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: June 29, 2010
Paperback: 384 pages
ISBN: 978-0446542043
Genre: Fiction, Romance, Suspense

From the Publisher:

As the extractions expert for A-Tac, an elite CIA black ops unit masquerading as faculty at an Ivy League college, Drake Flynn knows how to survive behind enemy lines. But he's about to meet one adversary he can't subdue . . . or resist. A RACE FOR SURVIVAL Stranded in the Colombian jungle after a mission goes bad, Drake has only one objective: evade the mercenaries hot on his trail and deliver "the package" to U.S. officials. But "the package" has a mind of her own, and she has no intention of trading one set of captors for another. Madeline Reynard is beautiful, headstrong, and hell-bent on escape after years as a crime lord's pawn. She'll risk everything for freedom, even if it means deceiving the dark, handsome operative who now holds her life in his hands. Drake has been burned too many times to let a woman manipulate him, especially a secretive one like Madeline. Even so, they cannot deny the attraction between them. Now as enemy forces close in, Drake and Madeline must trust each other with their lives-or face certain death.

My Review:

About the Author:

Dee Davis has a BA in Political Science and History, and a Masters Degree in Public Administration. During a ten-year career in public relations, she spent three years on the public speaking circuit, did television and radio commercials, and lobbied both the Texas State Legislature and the US Congress. She has won the Booksellers Best, Golden Leaf, Texas Gold and Prism awards, and been nominated for the National Readers Choice Award, the Holt and two RT Reviewers Choice Awards. To date, she has sold eighteen books and three novellas.

Dee has lived in Austria and traveled in Europe extensively. And although she now lives in Manhattan, she still calls Texas home.

I received a complimentary copy of Dangerous Desires by Dee Davis from Hachette. Receiving a free copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned novel.


25 June 2010

Book Review: The Evolution of Shadows by Jason Quinn Malott

Title: The Evolution of Shadows
Author: Jason Quinn Malott
Publisher: Unbridled Books
Publication Date: October 30, 2009
Paperback: 272 pages
ISBN: 978-1932961843
Genre: Fiction


From the Publisher:

In July of 1995, the news photographer Gray Banick disappeared into the Bosnian war zone and doing so took away pieces of the hearts of three people who loved him: Emil Todorović, his interpreter and friend; Jack MacKenzie, his mentor who taught Gray to hold his camera steady between himself and the worst that war presents; and Lian Zhao, who didn’t have the strength to love him as he wanted her to. Now, almost five years later, they have gathered in Sarajevo to find out what happened to Gray, the man who had taught them all what love is.

Each driven character in this novel believes fully that there is a love strong enough to sustain them, even in the extreme circumstances of war. But each time they have uncovered a glimpse of such a thing, they have failed tragically love itself.

Or, to see it another way, this is a novel about how love fails us every time—or almost every time.

My Review:

The Evolution of Shadows
by Jason Quinn Malott takes the reader on an emotional ride as three of Gray Banick's friends, a veteran photojournalist, a translator, and an ex-lover return to Gray Banick's last known whereabouts in hopes of finding some evidence of what became of him. In 2000, Jack Mackenzie and Lian Zhao travel to war-torn Bosnia to meet up with Emil Todorović to search for their mutual friend, photojournalist Gray Banick who was last seen in July 1995 in the woods near Potocari, north of Srebrenica. As the three travel, the reader learns how each met Gray and about their respective relationships with him.
The Evolution of Shadows is told through various different voices, both past and present, clearly evoking vivid images and emotions that allow the reader to become close to each of the characters. Emil, Jack, and Lian are scarred in their own ways and have their own personal issues to face: Emil's family was murdered and his fiancée was taken; Jack a veteran war journalist has turned to alcohol to help ease his pains, both physical and emotional; and Lian, now married to Daniel, cannot forget her love for Gray and the emotions that haunt her to this day. The Evolution of Shadows is a brilliantly orchestrated debut novel that once begun, cannot be set down.
Malott's writing is close to brilliant as he describes both the past and present and the hope of the future. His description of the Bosnian War and the atrocities that occurred are clear, articulate and detailed in a manner that would suggest the author had been present, which to my knowledge he had not. Yet his writings took me back to years before the setting of his book, to a country of untold beauty and the stark reminder of what happened over a decade after I was there.
This novel is so well written and emotionally intense that one must remind oneself it is a work of fiction as The Evolution of Shadows reads a lot like a memoir. This hauntingly beautiful tribute to love, friendship and humanity will keep the reader engaged and mesmerised. Without reservation, I would recommend The Evolution of Shadows to any reader looking for an exceptional literary novel that will linger in memory long after the story has ended.

About the Author:

Jason Quinn Malott has been the publisher of the online literary journal The Project for a New Mythology. The Evolution of Shadows is his first novel.

For more information please visit the author's website.

I received a complimentary copy of The Evolution of Shadows by Jason Quinn Malott from Unbridled Books. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned novel.


Book Review: The Island by Elin Hilderbrand

Title: The Island
Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books
Publication Date: July 6, 2010
Hardcover: 416 pages
ISBN: 978-0316043878
Genre: Fiction

Photobucket and 1/2

From the Publisher:

Birdie Cousins has planned a getaway with her daughter Chess on rustic, charming Tuckernuck Island off the coast of Nantucket, a chance to bond before Chess's upcoming marriage. Birdie's been through a difficult divorce herself, so she knows the big commitment that marriage entails. She's only recently dared to tiptoe back into the waters of romance.

When Chess abruptly breaks off the wedding and her fiancé shockingly dies in a rock climbing accident, it leaves Chess feeling guilty and deeply depressed. Birdie circles the wagons, convincing her younger daughter Tate, and her own sister India to join them on Tuckernuck for the month of July. Secrets and intrigue soon make their way to the surface, as Elin Hilderbrand once again weaves a masterful story of summer suspense.

My Review:

The Island by Elin Hildebrand is a month-long soap opera in written form, about four women, their secrets, desires, insecurities and hidden passions. Birdie is divorced and concentrating on her daughter's upcoming wedding when she begins to date Hank, who happens to be married yet they both feel it is fine since his wife has Alzheimer's and is in a special facility. Birdie's sister India enjoys imbibing as well as a good joint, has a high opinion of herself and her three brilliant sons and believes her success is not a result of her famous husband's suicide 15 years ago. As of late India has been posing for Lulu, an art student and a relationship is forming. Tate, Birdie's youngest daughter is successful and while she acts quite arrogant, she is insecure and jealous of her older sister Chess. Chess, Birdies oldest daughter unexpectedly cancels her wedding because she is in love with her fiancé's brother, she quit her job, moved home then learns Michael fell to his death while rock climbing in the Moab. Chess goes into a depression and the women decide it is time for a month-long vacation at their ancestral summer home, Tuckernuck off the island of Nantucket to give Chess some time to heal. Little do the other women realize just how badly they all need this vacation.
If it sounds as though I gave the entire story away, fret not, I merely skimmed the very tip of the novel and have saved all the best parts for the reader to discover. Hilderbrand alternates the narrative in the four voices of the women, opening a window into each woman's point of view, in a manner that is easy to read and allows the reader to get to know each woman as individual. The women reveal to each other their secrets, dreams, and desires. The relationship the women have is one I cannot fathom and while the characters are richly and vividly described I truly did not relate to any of them. While I do not personally care for the term "chick-lit", this is exactly the type of book that comes to mind when I hear the term. The Island is a quick paced novel that is never dull. If one is looking for a novel filled with drama, romance and female bonding, The Island may indeed be the perfect summer read.

About the Author:

Elin Hilderbrand lives on Nantucket with her husband and their three young children. She grew up in Collegeville, PA, and traveled extensively before settling on Nantucket, which has been the setting for her eight previous novels. Hilderbrand is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and the graduate fiction workshop at the University of Iowa.

I received a complimentary copy of The Island by Elin Hilderbrand from Reagan Arthur. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned book.


24 June 2010

Are You Getting Excited For The Move?

I know I am getting excited for my big move! As with all moves there have been some glitches and delays, but my wonderful designer is on the case and I may be transferred over this weekend. I will keep updating all my fabulous, faithful readers. I am so excited for the new home of Rundpinne. I hope all of you will be as pleased with it as I am. There are also some absolutely brilliant books on deck for me to review, it is great summer for reading.

Book Review and Book Tour: Short Circus by Stephen V. Masse

Title: Short Circus
Author: Stephen V. Masse
Publisher: Good Harbor Press
Publication Date: March 15, 2010
Hardcover: 184 pages
ISBN: 978-0615320571
Genre: Fiction, Ages 9-14


About the Book:

Twelve-year-old Jem Lockwood has been fatherless for four years and finally gets a Big Brother, but just as the best summer of his life is about to begin, he discovers that Jesse Standish’s rented house is about to be sold. Jem does all in his daring imagination to make Jesse’s house unmarketable, and the neighborhood unfit for prospective buyers. This three-ring circus romps with with Jem’s boyhood friends and older brother Chris, all recognizable kids who share in the rough-and-tumble delight of living in a northern Massachusetts city whose newspaper is delivered by kids on bikes, where kids play in the streets, and the local convenience store is owned by the family of Jesse’s girlfriend, Andrea. Sadly the city’s swimming pond has been sabotaged, and the city has to close it to all recreation after two boys are injured. Jem is sure he knows who did it, and helps carry out a plan to punish the evildoer.

My Review:

I first learned of Stephen V. Masse by reading his novel A Jolly Good Fellow, which was absolutely wonderful. I did not realise he wrote children's books until Short Circus arrived. Short Circus by Stephen V. Masse is his second children's novel and the jacket recommends the book for children ages 9-14. I quite honestly cannot say one way or the other how accurate the age range is, as I am not a children's book reviewer, except for today. What I do know is that Short Circus is a delightful story told by Jem Lockwood, a spirited twelve year old who got into trouble with friends one too many times for his mother's comfort, which prompts her to call Big Brothers to find an adult male figure to be a positive influence in Jem's life. Jem is assigned to Jesse Standish and the bond of friendship is rather strong as they build their relationship, have outings and ponder the mystery of the pond. Life lessons are interspersed throughout the book in the adventures Jem, his friends, Jesse and Andrea have, making this an excellent book to read aloud to boys or for a child to read to himself. Short Circus is well written, with lessons placed throughout the novel, a tale of one unforgettable summer divided into short chapters and how Jesse changes Jem's life and how Jem changes Jesse's. I would recommend parents take a look at Short Circus if their child is interested in action and adventure as this book is wonderful.

About the Author:

Stephen V. Masse was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He wrote his first novelat age 13, handwritten into a school composition book.

Educated at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, he studied creative writing, and was author of a weekly newspaper column, “Out of Control.” His first novel for children, Shadow Stealer, was published by Dillon Press in 1988. Short Circus is his second novel for children.

In addition to children’s books, Masse has written A Jolly Good Fellow, winner of the Silver Medal in the 2008 Independent Publisher Book Awards, as well as honorable mention in the 2008 New England Book Festival for best books of the holiday season.

Stephen V. Masse’s SHORT CIRCUS VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR JUNE ‘10 officially began on June 1st and will end on June 25th. You can visit Stephen’s blog stops at during the month of June to find out more about this great book and talented author!

I received a complimentary copy of Short Circus by Stephen V. Masse from Pump Up Your Book Promotion as part of the tour. Receiving a copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned novel.