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Book Review: Cankered Roots November 24, 2011

Posted by Jaidis in 4 Tree Reviews, Book Reviews, Book Tours, Books, Jaidis Shaw Reviews, Nurture Your Books.
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Get your copy of Cankered Roots on Kindle!

Synopsis:

Alexandra Campbell, a spunky young widow, partnered with Brighamina Poulson, an even spunkier, rifle-toting grandmother thinks that as they have begun a genealogy business (RootSearch, Inc.), it is high time she finds out her family secret. Something went wrong in her family during her adolescence, changing her mother from a Chicago North Shore matron into an alcoholic and a doting father into a workaholic. The moment she graduated from High School, she was sent to the Sorbonne in Paris with a generous bank account and instructions not to return.

It is now fifteen years since she has seen her parents, and she intends to lay the ghost that has separated her family for good. However, as usual in Alex’s unpredictable life, things do not go as planned. After an acrimonious fight with her once beloved father, she leaves with only a wallet-sized photograph of a woman she knows nothing about.

That night, Alex’s father is killed. Bewildered and grieved that her family can never be whole again, she soon finds out that she is the chief suspect in the murder. With the unflappable Briggie at her side, she uses all her new genealogical skills, and (with the help of Briggie’s deer rifle) discovers a secret so bizarre that she finally understands why her parents wanted her far away and safe.

Join Alex and Briggie in the first of their hair-raising adventures!

My Review:

Cankered Roots by GG Vandagriff is an emotional tale of love, loss and finding out who you are. Alex, a genealogist, takes a break from helping others learn about their family trees and concentrates on her own. Desperately wanting to have a family after her husband’s death, she sets out to uncover the grandfather she barely knew and whom her parents are determined to forget ever existed. What she begins to uncover reminds Alex that sometimes it is better to leave things buried in the past.

Originally written in 1993, this new edition of Cankered Roots was a pleasure to read. Taking a step back from modern technology, Alex and her friends have to uncover her family history by traditional means – searching libraries, microfilms, court documents, etc. It was so nice to read a story that isn’t built around technology and how easy it is to find information online. Throw in nice doses of mystery, blackmail, unknown identities…even a dash of romance…and Cankered Roots is a great book to get lost in. I am eagerly looking forward to reading more adventures from Alex and her friends.

My Rating:

Happy Reading,

Jaidis

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Book Review: Of Good and Evil November 18, 2011

Posted by Jaidis in 4 Tree Reviews, Book Reviews, Books, Jaidis Shaw Reviews, Nurture Your Books.
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Get your copy of Gerald G. Griffin’s Of Good and Evil on Kindle!

Synopsis:

Ron Sheffield, a gifted but tormented Green Beret, plagued by suicidal guilt because of his “special” abilities, is discharged from the army for going “crazy.” Immediately, he is brutally beaten and shot by the Mafia, and is hospitalized near death. His life is dramatically saved by Amber Ash, who also possesses “special” abilities; and from there the two are propelled against mobsters, terrorists, and a government cell out to kill them over Iraqi documents Ron possesses from his army service. Ron becomes a Mafia hit man, targeting fallen mobsters. This brings Ron and Amber into contact with the powerful and humane gifted secret society, Eros; this contact eventually actualizing Ron’s mental gifts to a point beyond his imagination. Ron is confronted with the imminent nuclear obliteration of a major American city by a suicidal terrorist cell that only he can stop. But will he be able to do it in time? Of Good and Evil is a spiritual fight against tyranny.

My Review:

Of Good and Evil by Gerald G. Griffin is an action-packed ride from start to finish! We are introduced to the main character, Ron Sheffield, in the heat of battle and quickly realize there is more to Ron than meets the eye. After returning home from war, Ron is discharged for having a nervous breakdown but he knows that other forces are working against him. Taking matters into his own hands, Ron makes it his new mission to search for clues and honor his fallen comrades, while trying to preserve his sanity by focusing on the present.

Amber Ash has always felt alone. Knowing that her special abilities make her different, she is focused on keeping her distance from everyone and using her body as a means of escape. That is until the night she met Ron Sheffield on his way to a poker game. Instantly feeling the pull of his gifts, she knows that she must learn more about the stranger that is similar in abilities.

Of Good and Evil has a little bit of everything which I believe makes for a good read for just about everyone. Action, romance, paranormal aspects, honor, politics, hit men, terrorists, secret societies, organized crime, treason…the list continues. It has so much going on that at times it was a little overwhelming for me. The main reason for me was the political aspects because I personally do not have an avid interest in such matters. But even with the politics and everything rushing by, I kept turning the pages wanting to know what happened next. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I do hope to see more of the paranormal aspect explained in the sequel, A Time of Reckoning.

My Rating:

Happy Reading,

Jaidis

Book Review: Under The Neon Sky: A Las Vegas Doorman’s Story November 15, 2011

Posted by Jaidis in 4 Tree Reviews, Book Reviews, Books, Jaidis Shaw Reviews, Nurture Your Books.
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Description:

Under The Neon Sky is a gripping, true story about a Las Vegas doorman who works the graveyard shift at one of the major hotels on the Strip. The sights, smells, and page popping characters are unforgettable as we take a journey that will transform how we used to envision the city that never sleeps. We watch as this doorman begins to emotionally break and wonder if he will become broken seeing his friends, his wife, hotel guests, and himself cross too many boundaries in this riveting, page turning story.

My Review:

Under The Neon Sky: A Las Vegas Doorman’s Story by Jay Rankin gives us a candid look into working in one of the largest hotels in Las Vegas – the MGM. What goes on behind the scenes? People work very hard to make Las Vegas a tourist attraction, focusing on the fun that one can have in Vegas. The bright and shining neon lights. The shows and performances. Not to mention that fun to be had at Casinos. But in today’s society so many people are focused on their own paths, not paying attention to their surroundings, that it is easy to miss the things that are happening right in front of you.

Mr. Rankin shares his experiences with the reader and allows us to feel what being that environment is like. So many events and emotions are told, not all positive, and it really opened my eyes to Las Vegas. It amazes me about the behavior some people exhibit in public places. Getting a job that tons of  people strive to get isn’t always the best way to go. The pay received per night may be worth it, but Jay’s story reminds us that sometimes your personal life and emotional state may suffer the consequences.

If you are interested in visiting Las Vegas, I would suggest you read Under The Neon Sky: A Las Vegas Doorman’s Story as a way to prepare yourself for the adventure you will be embarking on.

My Rating:

Happy Reading,

Jaidis

Book Review: The Niteclif Evolutions: Legacy October 20, 2011

Posted by Jaidis in 4 Tree Reviews, Book Reviews, Books, Jaidis Shaw Reviews.
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Get your copy of Legacy: The Niteclif Evolutions, Book 1 on Kindle!

Synopsis:

Looking back on the wish she made on Midsummer’s Eve, Maddy Niteclif should have been more specific. She only wanted to escape the shadowy nightmares that plagued her nights, not to be thrust into a completely altered reality.

If a strangely familiar, sexy dragon-shifter named Bahlin, who causes a never-to-be-mentioned-again fainting spell, isn’t enough to make her question her sanity, his insistence she’s the Niteclif ought to do the job. Prophesied super-sleuth of the supernatural world—a world that desperately needs her help—isn’t a job she’s remotely qualified for no matter what her family tree says.

Catapulted into a very different London ruled by dark mythology, mystery and murder, Maddy makes a few startling discoveries. Paranormal creatures exist. Getting shot really sucks. And her body responds remarkably well to dragon magic—in more ways than simple wound healing.

But in this kill-or-be-killed world, reality bites. And Maddy must choose to go back to what she knows…or stay and fight for the man she knows she can’t live without.

Warning: This book contains a shape-shifting dragon with a Scottish accent, modern and archaic weapons, global inter-species politics that make democracy seem mild, some very steamy sex underground, a severed head, murder, and…oh yeah…a woman caught in the middle of it all.

My Review:

The Niteclif Evolutions: Legacy by Denise Tompkins is an action-packed book that kept me turning the pages. After the loss of her parents, Maddy needs to make a new start. She decides to head off to London with no real plan in place other than to see the stone circles that she keeps visiting in her dreams. After her arrival and an innocent wish, Maddy is thrust into a strange new world that leaves her little choice as to her future. Not only is she unsure about how she will follow in her family’s footsteps as the Niteclif, but she is the first female Niteclif and that in itself raises some questions as there has never been a female Niteclif before.

Bahlin is a dragon shape shifter who has waited for a very long time to meet the Niteclif. Left with a prophecy and a promise to watch over the Niteclif, Bahlin must decide if it is worth risking everything just to receive the one thing that he has ever longed for.

Maddy must learn that not everything that glitters is gold. With a power struggle surging, Maddy must master her new skills before her time, and life, are extinguished. Will she be able to walk away from the one thing her heart yearns for or follow the path that has been placed in front of her?

I am excited to see the path that Maddy, Bahlin and the other characters take in book two of this promising series.

My Rating:

Happy Reading,

Jaidis

Book Review: This Bird Flew Away September 26, 2011

Posted by Jaidis in 4 Tree Reviews, Book Reviews, Jaidis Shaw Reviews.
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Get your copy of This Bird Flew Away on Kindle!!

Description:

What is real love? The whole world wants to know. They should ask Bria Jean, because she has it all figured out. Opinionated, stubborn and full of woe, Bria would tell you real love is having one person you can always count on through thick and thin. For her, that’s Jack. And it doesn’t matter to her that she’s nine and he’s twenty-three-not one bit. When, at the age of twelve, Bria disappears, he and his Aunt Mary search for her, and when she surfaces, injured, abused and traumatized, Jack fights to become her guardian with no idea of the trials ahead of him. By then, Bria is thirteen going on thirty, full of her own ideas on how her life should run and with some very fixed notions about who is in charge.

My Review:

This Bird Flew Away by Lynda M. Martin is a book that describes the cold, harsh realities that takes place in the world today. Of course we would all like the world to be bright and sunny, ignoring the darkness that looms right around the corner, but there is always bad mingled with the good. Nine-Year-Old Bria Jean has not had the easiest life, nor the childhood that she deserved. Bria’s childhood is slowly stripped away each time that she endures abuse from her step-father. After the stepfather’s passing, Bria is shipped off to various relatives house where she once again finds herself under the hands of abuse.

At the age of twelve, Bria has to make the painful decision of how she can get away from an abusive aunt. Deciding to run away and find Jack for help, Bria flees into the unknown world ahead of her. The dark realities appear and Bria finds herself being sold to two strange men who do the unthinkable to her. Broken and confused, Bria escapes and is found by police. The road ahead of Bria is long and confusing and Bria has a darker outlook about life than normal teenagers should have.

After Bria’s terrible experience, Jack comes to her rescue and takes Bria under his wing and fights to become her guardian. Stuck between being a teenager and a young woman, Bria faces a mixed bag of emotions as she has always had a special connection with Jack. Jack has always been the man in her life, to protect her and

Ms. Martin has done a well job in creating a story that explains the harsh realities of life yet allows the hope of the future shine through. Bria is strong and courageous and serves to help other young girls who read her story know that bad things happen but that they can be overcome.

Some may find some of the descriptions a little hard to read, especially if you are a parent such as myself to a young daughter or if you have a personal reason to read such a story. Personally though I think this story is just a reminder that in the darkest of times, there is a lighted path that will lead you to a brighter future.

My Rating:

Happy Reading,

Jaidis

Book Review: inSyte by Greg Kiser September 22, 2011

Posted by Jaidis in 4 Tree Reviews, Book Reviews, Jaidis Shaw Reviews.
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Description:

inSyte is a paranormal thriller that will appeal to readers of Michael Crichton and Stephen King.

It’s Tampa Bay and the year is 2020. Ex-Navy SEAL Mitch “Double” Downing discovers how to tap into the internet with his mind. His new inSyte provides transparent access to the sum of all human knowledge recorded since hieroglyphics. More than mere information – Mitch can see into men’s hearts and be all places at all times (easy in an ‘always on’ surveillance society with fourth generation tweets). Sort of like God.

But inSyte has ideas of its own as the software exposes a politician’s “divine” plan that will unwittingly slaughter millions of people. Is killing the man the only way to prevent Armageddon? The politician’s daughter would probably disagree. And she happens to be the love of Mitch’s life. Losing Kate would be too damn much collateral damage.

At the center of the conflict is a wolf-like killer who will stop at nothing to murder the ex-Navy SEAL.

And Mitch must come to grips with inSyte’s dark side – a dominating addiction that soon controls his thoughts and places him on a steep slide to self destruction.

My Review:

inSyte is a futuristic tale that you do not want to miss. The reader starts out in July 2014 by being introduced to Mitch and Woody, two Navy Seals who have found themselves in the middle of heavy gun fire. After taking a hit, Mitch learns that fate, destiny and/or the higher powers that be have a plan for him..and it doesn’t involve him dying in Iran. The book then shifts to its first part, jumping to Florida in the year 2020.

Cheslov Kirill is dark, mysterious and the antagonist of the story. Even though he is ultimately the bad guy, he is written in such a way that I found myself drawn to him. Each of his mannerisms and  nervous ticks make him more believable and ultimately, a really good bad guy that I enjoyed getting to know. Especially as certain chapters clue us into why he is the way he is.

Add in all of the futuristic technology and inSyte becomes a great thriller. Mr. Kiser describes technology in a way that is believable and may even be possible in the future instead of describing something off-the-wall. With a world that is already filled with social media and high-tech gadgets…it is only a slight transition to the technology that is described in inSyte.

But all of the facts and tidbits that are spread through cyberspace can have a negative effect. Especially when Mitch discovers a plot with his new ‘inSyte’ that would not only harm millions of people but would cost him his girlfriend, Kate, because the man behind the plot happens to be Mayor Delaney and Kate’s father.

One of the things I liked most about Mr. Kiser’s writing is that he added tidbits of random thoughts during the story. That is something that I often think about while reading books. Someone is going on and on about some topic that the other person may find boring. Are they listening to the dialogue as suggested by the writing? Realistically…probably not. Mr. Kiser knows this and so he made his characters believable by sharing their thoughts at different moments. Is the quirky guy really listening to his professor rant about the effects of technology? Of course not! He is thinking about his date last night. I loved that about this novel and it made inSyte appeal to me that much more.

My Rating:

Happy Reading,

Jaidis

Book Review: Rhapsody for Lessons Learned or Remembered August 19, 2011

Posted by Jaidis in 4 Tree Reviews, Book Reviews, Jaidis Shaw Reviews.
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Get your copy of Rhapsody For Lessons Learned Or Remembered today!!

Description:

Georgia Banks-Martin walks us through an art gallery. We view art, which she has processed and questioned, through her lens: Lawrence, Monet, Van Gogh, Beardon, Sargent, Degas, to name a few of the artists. She challenges the reader to face slavery, grief, and joy, to feel the weight the South bears, to examine art across centuries for lessons. These poems revive what has been omitted in our history books-individual life stories. She uses sound, music and voice to make imagery pulse in these ekphrastic poems. In her poem “Railroad Station,” after a Jacob Lawrence: “Those leaving the towns where father and mother/labored in fields without being offered a yard of thread spun/from the cotton they pulled, have assembled./Packed: Hopes of work, three bedroom homes/water heated in water tanks, classrooms.” As memories populate her poems, so does the theme of hope permeate her book; in Death Dancing, after a Max Slevogt: “I wish memories could be buried as easily as bodies.” . . . a book to remember as you stand face to face with art.

~ Julene Tripp Weaver, author of No Father Can Save Her

My Review:

Rhapsody for Lessons Learned or Remembered by Georgia Ann Banks-Martin takes the reader on a journey of words with the goal of bringing pieces of artwork to life. Georgia does just that in this collection of poetry. As a reader, I seldom seek out poetry to read because I have a hard time trying to envision the poem. But I love art and can relate more closely to telling a story based on imagery. Rhapsody for Lessons Learned or Remembered feature several poems that jumped off the page and allowed me to visualize the artwork they are based on, without having seen the art before.

Below is one of my favorite poems in this collection:

Breach of Contract by Georgia Ann Banks-Martin

Our contract says all life ends,

though the living don’t plan to honor

the agreement.

Antelope outrun cheetahs,

weeds become immune to herbicides,

roaches flee when overhead lights switch on.

Humans allow machines to breathe for them

’till tired lungs are rested,

holding to the world like

a blooming vine

coiled around its own urn-

This poem is based on a piece of artwork by artist Dale Chihuly entitled Blue Venetian with Green Calla Lily. A picture of this artwork is located in a book by Mr. Chihuly entitled Fire. One day I would love to be able to look through this book to see the artwork that inspired this poem. Until then, I strongly recommend you get your own copy of Rhapsody for Lessons Learned or Remembered by Georgia Ann Banks-Martin and see which poem speaks to you.

My Rating:

 

Rhapsody for Lessons Learned or Remembered is currently on tour with Nurture Your Books! Be sure to check out the complete list of tour stops HERE but here is the next one:

Places you can find and follow Georgia:

Author Website
Poets & Writers Forum
Facebook Page
Facebook Profile

Happy Reading,

Jaidis

Book Review: Thaloc Has a Body July 30, 2011

Posted by Jaidis in 4 Tree Reviews, Book Reviews, Jaidis Shaw Reviews.
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Get your copy of Thaloc Has a Body (Book Two of the Brodie Wade Series) on Kindle!!

Description:

Paranormal Investigator, Brodie Wade, returns from a very basic case in Oklahoma, where The Truth tells him of his own demise within the week. Brodie returns to his apartment, determined to solve the riddle of his death when Homicide Detective Phil Dawson calls to ask for his help in solving three strange murders at the Granspire Museum.

When they meet with one of the accused, The Truth tells Brodie of the existence of a creature named Thaloc, and warns that Phil’s life is at risk.

Can Brodie solve the riddle and save his friend before his own clock runs out?

My Review:

Thaloc Has a Body by Jerry Hanel is the sequel to Mr. Hanel’s first book, Death Has a Name. In book one, we were introduced to Brodie Wade and learned about his ability to see The Truth. Since childhood, The Truth has always been presenting itself to Brodie, giving him clues to help solve cases that aren’t easily explained by evidence and science. In Thaloc Has a Body, Brodie is investigating another case that has police officers stumped at the evidence.

In the most recent of murder cases, the killer is clearly caught on camera killing the victim. What should be an open and shut case, quickly turns upside-down when the killer’s identity leads police to a man who died six weeks prior of heart failure. So now Brodie is given the daunting task of explaining how a man who died several weeks ago can be walking around killing people.

Thaloc is a supernatural being that walks the line between good and bad. Both sides view him as a bad omen and having contact with him means almost certain death. Through a small altercation, Thaloc is freed to walk the earth as anyone he chooses. Brodie must learn to trust The Truth and have confidence in himself, to help stop Thaloc.

Mr. Hanel weaves an intriguing tale that will keep you flipping until the last page. I strongly recommend that you pick up book one, Death Has a Name, and journey with Brodie through the end of book two, Thaloc Has a Body.

Happy Reading,

Jaidis

Book Review: Bread from the Sky July 29, 2011

Posted by Jaidis in 4 Tree Reviews, Book Reviews, Hazel O'Shea Reviews.
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Get your copy of Bread From the Sky on Kindle!!

Description:

How many cat heads do you have to eat before you acquire the characteristics of a cat? Why do you hang a snail shell in a tree? How do you get a curse removed? And who buried a gri-gri in the yard? These and other questions are answered in Bread From the Sky.

Wanting a career change and armed with a graduate degree in international studies, a woman in her mid-40s leaves her divorce and ordinary life behind for a two-year stint as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Togo, West Africa.

She learns survival skills in order to live without electricity or plumbing like the rest of the people in her adopted village. She also gains language skills as, in addition to French, which is still the official language, there are over half a dozen local languages in common use at her village. Adjusting to a new culture, several different languages and some very old attitudes is sometimes difficult, frustrating and funny.

There are friends to be made, foods to get used to, bureaucrats and insects to contend with, health issues to recover from and red tape to choke on. Dealing with people who want to rip her off, who harass her (sexually and otherwise) and who always want something from her isn’t easy. The challenges are offset by the warmth and friendship that was found along the way as well as some amazing adventures. As a wise man said to her, “Africa will change you, whether you want it to or not.”

This is a true story of the author’s two years in Togo as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

My Review:

Bread from the Sky by Marie McCarthy is a touching and truthful story, recounting the author’s two years spent in Togo, West Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Ms. McCarthy dove right into her new lifestyle with undeterred optimism and an authentic thirst for learning everything and anything about the Togolese ways. Despite the lack of electricity, running water and sterile, hygienic living conditions we are accustomed to here in the U.S., Marie couldn’t help but feel delighted to be there! The landscape was beautifully untouched and the people were extremely welcoming. Strangers were greeted and befriended immediately, making one a stranger no more. The Togolese had very little, sometimes going without food and basic necessities, yet their cheerful attitudes never wavered. This was refreshing to Marie and she fit in perfectly.

The trip wasn’t without its hardships and frustrations. Marie had gone there to work, but many of the villagers lacked motivation and organization. They had expected the white woman to bring with her gifts and money to dispense throughout the village, and were constantly asking for things without wanting to work for them. This aggravated Marie and more often than not, kept her from accomplishing what she had gone there to do. She was determined to make a difference, and though it wasn’t always in the ways she had planned, she did just that.

Bread from the Sky reads like a diary or journal, guiding the reader through these experiences with Marie. I found it very informative and eye-opening! If you are a fan of documentaries, I certainly recommend reading this book!

My Rating:

Happy Reading,

Hazel O’Shea

Book Review – The MPire: Death Cometh June 15, 2011

Posted by Jaidis in 4 Tree Reviews, Book Reviews, Book Tours, Jaidis Shaw Reviews, Nurture Your Books.
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Get your copy of The MPire: Death Cometh on Kindle!

Description:

Mallory Towneson Haulm, financial wizard and consummate ladies man, brings the four horsemen to completion as he reluctantly embraces his destined charge as Death. While struggling to maintain his lavish façade, Mallory witnesses bits of his glamorous world slipping through his hands. How can he balance his earthly paradise with his diabolical calling of the earth’s fate?

And then there was one…

Death Cometh divulges life shattering secrets that move Heaven and Earth as Mallory’s true destined charge transforms him, requiring him to take his rightful place. However, his father, Malcolm is not quite ready to relinquish control.

The battle lines have been drawn and the most consecrated ritual will allow only one to be Death. Who will survive?

My Review:

The controversy returns in The MPire: Death Cometh by T.L. James. In book one, The MPire: In Search of the Lost, we were first introduced to Mallory Towneson Haulm. Just as everything was looking up, Mallory was forced back into the family business where he was expected to take on his role as the Fourth Horseman, Death. In book two, The MPire: Death Cometh, Mallory is struggling as he tries to learn about his new future.

Malcolm is not only Mallory’s father but holds the current position of Death. There is a severe lack of communication and a never-ending power struggle between Malcolm and Mallory. Mallory just wants his father to teach him what he is suppose to do. Malcolm has a fear that Mallory will take over and eliminate him. This makes Malcolm more stubborn than ever as he refuses to pass the position over to Mallory.

As with all secrets, they always have a way of coming out. The Haulms family must decide as a unit whether they are able to accept these secrets or if it will ruin everything. I must admit that even I was shocked with some of the twists and turns throughout The MPire: Death Cometh. With the tense cliffhanger at the end, I’m left wondering what is in store for Mallory in book three, The MPire: Trinity.

This book contains very strong sexual themes in both M/F and M/M scenarios, strong language and violence and should only be read by mature adult audiences with open minds.

My Rating:

Happy Reading,

Jaidis