Category Archives: free-eBooks

In My Mailbox (13): Sunday 29 July 2012




Welcome to
In My Mailbox!!

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren and Letterbox Love is a British take on the idea. If you want to know more, there is information under the Fun Things heading above, or you can click on the pictures at the top of this post to take you to the hosts’ blogs.

These posts are to tell you about the books I have acquired recently. I know most bloggers call all such posts “In My Mailbox”, however, as I’m English, my physical post comes through my letterbox and my electronic mail arrives in my mailbox (or my inbox…). So I have decided to use the following terms:

In My Letterbox (IML) for the physical books I aquire;
In My Mailbox (IMM) for the NetGalley books or ebooks sent to me for review by authors;
In My Inbox (IMI) for the free Kindle ebooks I compulsively download!


I have got very behind on reading and reviewing NetGalley books, so I thought it about time I at least listed some of them on my blog.  Currently I’m reading some author-gifted books, then I’m going to get stuck in to some of these.  I now have a list of all downloaded books in a spreadsheet, so I can list any I’ve missed in a future IMM.


1. A Kiss Goodbye by Audrey Penn

Publisher: Tanglewood 15 April 2007


2. Resonance by A.J. Scudiere

Publisher: Griffyn Ink 10 January 2010


3. Rise by Yosef Gotlieb

Publisher: Atida Press. The Olive Group 01 October 2011


4. The White Oak by Kim White

Publisher: Story Machine Studio 09 April 2012


5. Shades of Murder by Lauren Carr

Publisher: Acorn Book Services, CreateSpace 15 May 2012


6. Till We Eat Again by Judy Gruen

Publisher: CreateSpace 21 May 2012


7. Beneath the Shadows by Sara Foster

Publisher: Minotaur Books, St. Martin’s Press 05 June 2012


8. Dog Is My Copilot by Patrick Regan

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing 19 June 2012


9. The World Without You by Joshua Henkin

Publisher: Pantheon Books, Knopf Doubleday 19 June 2012


10. One Moment by Kristina McBride

Publisher: Egmont USA 26 June 2012


11. Elza’s Kitchen by Marc Fitten

Publisher: Bloomsbury 03 July 2012


How has your collection grown recently? Leave me a comment with a link and I’ll pop over!  Happy reading and hope to see you next week.

Echos at Dawn by Kathleen Ann Gallagher: review

Echoes at DawnEchoes at Dawn by Kathleen Ann Gallagher

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

The strangely intertwined lives of a widowed woman, and a charismatic bachelor come together in order to show that in life, there are no coincidences… only destiny.

Waterfront restaurant chef Madeline Young adores her job. If only her love and family’s lives were as successful as her career. With a teenage son, who spends time in the emergency room for alcohol poisoning and a dementia-plagued mother, Madeline doesn’t know how much more she could handle. Then her mother enlists the help of her deceased twin sister, Mary, to guide Madeline to find true happiness. An early dawn visit from the spirit directs Madeline to volunteer at the local hospitals center for addiction recovery, where she comes alive for the first time in many years under the attention of Nat Griffin.

Nathaniel Griffin, a part-time counselor and contractor, fascinates his clients with his lectures. In keeping with his philosophy of professionalism, Nat prefers to keep his personal life private. When attraction tests his beliefs, Nat must confront his marred past. Is he willing to face his demons or take the easier path and remain isolated?

Can unworldly ghosts save this couple from their own self-destructive behavior?


For those of a delicate disposition, I’ll warn you now that this is not a positive review. It’s a while since I read this book, and my original review appears under my Goodreads account. I’m doing some catching up on reviews on my blog and this book has come to the top of the pile.

I downloaded the ebook from Amazon when rummaging through the free ebooks there; the blurb intrigued me – the set up isn’t a standard love story (although I suspected that there would be a love story in there). I wasn’t expecting high literature; but I was expecting an interesting, thoughtful, and entertaining read. Boy, was I disappointed.

When I got to 7% in I was seriously wondering if I could bear to read the rest. I was not impressed with the writing, feeling that there was no flow whatsoever and no character interest. Quite frankly, I didn’t like the main characters. Why is a 40+ widowed mother of three obsessed with dating? [Ed’s Note: before all the middle aged ladies get up in arms, I should point out I’m close to that age myself and not a twenty-something who thinks things like that stop when one turns 30!]. She wants to start a restaurant, but doesn’t have time…because of her dating, it seems, which only makes her miserable. I decided to persevere and see if it improved.

The next day, I’d made it as far as 12% and decided that life is way too short to spend time reading such badly written drivel. Most of the time, the author failed to make her point since she seems unable to paint pictures, even simple ones, with words. She clearly does not understand the rich layering of stories made possible by using tenses to convey things happening in the story, instead she uses a mixed of the perfect and present throughout, whatever the relative temporal location of the events. In this case, the story would be better told in the perfect and pluperfect, since the events take place in the immediate past and more distant past. Since the story has a bunch of character-told flashbacks, there really ought to be a far bit of pluperfect about…but there wasn’t (“It was time for me to leave; I saw enough for one day”), just lots of present tense. This makes things both confusing and gives a child-like quality to the prose.

The author seems unable to tell a flowing story. Sentences are rarely more than 10 words long. They jump from one subject to another in a single paragraph. This make the story very jerky. This paragraph is intentionally very jerky! Her biography at the end is similarly disjointed. It becomes impossible to follow the events of any one scene, let alone follow a plot.

When Ms Gallagher does try to write longer paragraphs using commas – I skipped to the last page to find some- they are incorrectly used and lead to a muddled sentence.

At around 10-12% in, the main character Madeline, goes to the hospital for her volunteer training. At least I think that’s what is going on; it was unclear whether Nat’s talk was a orientation session for volunteers or patients. On a ward with locked doors and buzzer entry, Madeline is not asked to sign in and allowed to wander around the ward unsupervised, yet meets no patients. I couldn’t work out why the staff ignored her or why she didn’t speak to the staff. It seemed odd that the counsellor in a rehab centre would carry and smoke cigars on ward. Whilst in the ward we are told by Madeline, “I counted the moments until my orientation at the medical center. I could not wait to learn what secret (sic) would unfold, or life changing experience waited for me inside the mysterious ward.” This after she sees a patient subdued by nursing staff; I thought this a strange and inappropriate reaction. I could not find any point of commonality with Madeline, and hence had no empathy with or sympathy for her.

I know that alcoholism is a serious disease and I do not wish to belittle the subject; this book, however, does do that in my opinion. It is sanctimonious in its tone and unrealistic in its portrayal, in my opinion. Nat, the counsellor, is “scarred for life” because his oft drunk (from the descriptions provided, I’m not convinced alcoholic is the correct description) hit him once. Many people suffer much more serious abuse from alcoholic parents, so I didn’t find this back story convincing. Prior to the start of the book, Madeline’s 16 year old son comes home from a party “with drink on his breath” so she packs him off for a six week course with a counsellor. No wonder in Chapter 1 he’s drunk himself to a vomiting stupor – typical teenager rebellion. Whilst I don’t condone under-age drinking (not unsupervised anyway), isolated incidents shouldn’t lead Madeline to assume her son is an alcoholic. Encouraging him to moderate his drinking would be sensible, but she goes off and becomes a volunteer at the local rehab centre – using up what little free time she has from her “executive chef” job and thus spending even less time with her son. Perhaps if she put the time and energy she’s prepared to spend at the rehab centre into building a proper relationship with her son, he would act more sensibly.

Oh heck! I sound as if I’m preaching! It’s just that the whole story line is so unreal, that it’s made me really angry at how out of touch the author is, and that while she (presumably) thinks she’s furthering the discussion of an important topic, instead she is trivialising it.

The reason Madeline starts to volunteer at the rehab centre is that her Aunt Mary’s ghost writes the name of the hospital on the ceiling…that was a particularly badly written and unrealistic scene…yet when Madelaine gets to the hospital, Aunt Mary appears and glares at her, then disappears,  and Madeline carries on blithely wandering around. The “visions” seem to have no connection with anything else, including the plot.

From reading the last page, it seems the point was to get Madeline and Nat together. I don’t know (or care) what happened to Jeremy, the 16 year old son. I don’t care because the author didn’t write him or any of the other characters in a way that caused me to care.

I got this book as a free kindle download from Amazon. Quite frankly, it was over-priced. The writing is of high school standard, not published book standard. For example take four sentences from 12% in:

“It was such a beautiful day. I decided to stop at the waterfront. Since it was still early, I took the scenic route. I needed time to unwind, before I went home”

Why not write this as:

“I needed time to unwind before I went home. Since it was still early, I decided to take advantage of the beautiful day and drive the scenic route to the waterfront.” ?

OK, that could still do with some work, but at 0115 hours and very little effort, it’s still better than the original.

This is the point at which I stopped reading; I really couldn’t stand any more of the drivel.

In my opinion, the whole book needs the aid of a really good, fearless editor. The author probably has, from her nursing career, a good knowledge of the problems associated with and the treatment of alcoholism. She could make a difference, but not with this book as it currently stands. It fails to address the subject in a realistic and sensible manner.

I Did Not Finish this book. That’s a rarity for me – I estimate there are fewer than 24 books in my life that have this “honour”.


View all my Goodreads reviews

Hal Spacejock by Simon Haynes: review

Hal SpacejockHal Spacejock by Simon Haynes

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the fourth edition. Slightly revised and polished in August 2011, then released on Kindle and Smashwords.
“Better than Red Dwarf” – Tom Holt
Hal Spacejock, an incompetent accident-prone pilot, is given one last chance to save his ship. An ageing robot is trusted with a midnight landing in a deserted field. And a desperate businessman is prepared to sacrifice both of them to get what he wants…
Combining relentless action with non-stop laughs, Hal Spacejock explodes onto the science fiction scene with the subtlety of a meteor strike and the hushed reverence of a used car salesman.


I think that this book is trying to be The Stainless Steel Rat, but is not written well enough. The descriptions need to be richer, but not much longer, so that the reader can see the locations and people in their mind’s-eye. These were altogether too sketchy, which was a great shame as several of the characters were worthy of more attention. When reading Hal Spacejock, all I can see are the words on the page; I don’t like reading like this, I prefer to have the images play across my imagination like a film.

The set up and plot are well thought out, it is the execution of the writing that I feel is lacking.

As the story continues, however, the individual vignettes become increasingly predictable – without an increase in humour. I felt that the characters Clyde and Albion could have been used with more effect – we started to get to know them and then they disappeared!

All in all, an enjoyable read and I will probably read more of the series if I come across them.

I downloaded Hal Spacejock for free from Amazon


View all my Goodreads reviews

I’m claiming this book as No. tbr/150 in the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge; No. 10 in the Why Buy the Cow? Reading challenge; and No. 2 in the First in Series Reading challenge.
[All links in right hand sidebar]

In My Letterbox (8): Sunday 03 June 2012




Welcome to a combined
In My Letterbox and In My Inbox

Just the three books this week, hence the combined IML and IMI.  I’m looking forward to getting to each one of these 🙂

The Book I won on Goodreads First Reads:

1. Alaskan Hearts by Teri Wilson
Alaskan HeartsAlaskan Hearts by Teri Wilson

Former Alaskan sled-dog musher Ben Grayson is still grieving the tragic loss of his dog team. So much that he put the reins—and his dreams—away.

Now a photographer, Ben’s covering the Gold Rush Trail sled-dog race. He’s surprised his heart isn’t more guarded around lovely journalist Clementine Phillips—until he learns that Clementine plans to handle a sled-dog team herself. Ben can’t bear the thought of Clementine in danger.

So he comes up with a compromise—one to keep her close…forever.


A bit of summer escapism…to the cold and snow of an Alaskan winter – just right for for a wet English summer!!


The Book gifted by Goldratt UK:

1. Critical Chain by Eliyahu Goldratt

Critical ChainCritical Chain by Eliyahu M. Goldratt

Powerful yet simple techniques to solve project management’s toughest problems. This book teaches companies to drastically cut project development times resulting in early completion within budget and without compromising quality or specifications. Project managers and your teams will benefit from Goldratt’s techniques of how to remain focused on the few critical areas and how to prevent your attention from being divided among all of the how to prevent your attention from being divided among all of the projects tasks and resources. Especially useful for dealing with one of the most difficult and pressing management challenges: developing highly innovative new products.
About the Author: One of the world s most sought after business leaders author and educator, Dr. Eli Goldratt. Eli Goldratt had been described by Fortune Magazine as a guru to industry and by Business Week as a genius. His charismatic, stimulating, yet sometimes unconventional style has captured the attention of audiences throughout the world. Eli is a true thinker who provokes others to think.
Eli Goldratt is the creator of the Theory of Constraints (TOC) and is the author of 8 books, including the business best sellers The Goal, It’s Not Luck, and Critical Chain. Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints is used by thousands of companies, and is taught in hundreds of colleges, universities, and business schools. His books have sold over 3 million copies and have been translated into 23 languages. Goldratt’s fascinating work as an author, educator and business pioneer had resulted in the promulgation of TOC into many facets of society and has transformed management thinking throughout the world.


I read The Goal about 20 years ago when my boyfriend had it as part of a course. I recently read a couple of other of Eli Goldratt’s books that I picked up at a table top sale. Goldratt UK is giving away copies of The Goal and Critical Chain to interested parties, via their website. I’m delighted to have received this and am looking forward to reading it.


The Book gifted by the author for her 30th birthday!

1. Coffee at Little Angels by Nadine Rose Larter

Coffee at Little AngelsCoffee at Little Angels by Nadine Rose Larter

Phillip, Sarah, Kaitlyn, Caleb, Maxine, Grant, Melanie and Josh grew up in a small town where they spent their high school years together as an inseparable clique. But high school has ended, and they are all living their own “grown up” lives, each under the impression that their group has basically come to an end. When Phillip dies in a hit and run accident, Kaitlyn summons the others to all come back home, forcing a reunion that no one is particularly interested in partaking in.

Coffee at Little Angels follows how each character deals with the death of a childhood friend while at the same time dealing with their own ignored demons after years of separation. Events unfold as the group tries to rekindle the friendship they once shared to honour the memory of a friend they will never see again


I found this limited free giveaway on Amazon through an event on Goodreads…I’m looking forward to discovering a new-to-me author.


That’s it for this week. I’m working on the next installment of IMI listing my Amazon downloads and I have some more Netgalley books to tell you about in a future IMM.

I hope you all have a pile of lovely books on your lists – leave a link in your comment and I’ll pop over and have a look 🙂

In My Inbox (7): Sunday 27 May 2012

Welcome to
In My Inbox!!

I have been treatening to do this for a some time now – and here it is: the list of the ebooks I have downloaded, for free, from Amazon during 2011; the 2012 books will appear in a later IMI post.  Now I can see them all, I realise that I’ve been a bit like a small child in a sweet shop, grabbing pretty much anything I can see.  In fact, I’ve downloaded more books in three months than I said I’d read in a year for the Goodreads Challenge!  I think I need to take a few deep breaths and be a little more picky…or have someone tell me to “put down the mouse and step away from the computer” 🙂

I have read quite a number of these books (more than I’ve yet registered on Goodreads…that’s next on my To Do List) and I’ve linked the ones I’ve already reviewed.  I doubt I’ll come back and retrospectively link, since the next item on my To Do List (it’s a long list) is to update my reading challenge pages with the appropriate books.

FREE eBooks downloaded in October 2011:

1. The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (with Cross-References): Old and New Testaments by Crossway Bibles

2. The Holy Bible: HCSB Digital Text Edition by B & H Publishing Group

3. The Man Who Knew Too Much by Chesterton, G. K. (Gilbert Keith)

4. Beowulf

5. How to Live on 24 Hours a Day by Arnold Bennett

6. Winning the Zero Moment of Truth – ZMOT (Enhanced Version) (Kindle Edition with Audio/Video) by Jim Lecinski

7. Prayers for Today by Kurt Bjorklund

8. Secrets Uncovered – Blogs, hints and the inside scoop from Mills & Boon editors and authors by Various Authors

9. Overcoming Redundancy: 52 Inspiring Ideas to Help You Bounce Back From Losing Your Job by Gordon Adams

10. Self-Empowerment through Self-Hypnosis: Harnessing the Enormous Potential of the Mind by Carl Llewellyn Weschcke and Joe H. Slate PhD

11. Spying in High Heels (High Heels Mysteries) by Gemma Halliday

12. The Iliad by Homer

13. The One You Love (suspense mystery) by Paul Pilkington Read

14. FREE 25 Language Phrasebook by Mobile Reference (Mobi Travel) MobileReference

FREE eBooks downloaded in November 2011:

1. First Impressions (Grace deHaviland) by David DeLee

2. Legwork (Casey Jones Mystery Series) by Katy Munger Read

3. The Samurai Strategy by Thomas Hoover Read

4. QB1 by Pete Bowen Read

5. Killing Faith (A Gabriel De Sade Thriller, book 1) by Eric Meyer Read

6. Chili Con Corpses: A Supper Club Mystery (The Supper Club Mysteries) by J.B. Stanley Read

7. Inspector Zhang Gets His Wish (a free short story) by Stephen Leather Read

8. Delver Magic Book I: Sanctum’s Breach by Jeff Inlo

9. Delver Magic Book II: Throne of Vengeance by Jeff Inlo

10. Delver Magic Book III: Balance of Fate by Jeff Inlo

11. The Thorn (The Chronicles of Gan) by Daron Fraley

12. Comic History of England by Bill Nye

13. Verse and Prose for Beginners in Reading Selected from English and American Literature

14. The Glass Wall (Book One – The Glass Wall) by Carmen Caine & Madison Adler Read

15. History of Egypt, Chaldea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria in the Light of Recent Discovery by L. W. King (Leonard William) & H. R. Hall (Harry Reginald)

16. Exposed:Misbehaving with the Magnate by Kelly Hunter Read

17. Sephardic Israeli Cuisine: A Mediterranean Mosaic by Sheilah Kaufman

18. The Personal Credibility Factor: How to Get It, Keep It, and Get It Back (If You’ve Lost It) by Sandy Allgeier

19. Make More, Worry Less: Secrets from 18 Extraordinary People Who Created a Bigger Income and a Better Life by Wes Moss

20. The Kerala Kitchen: Recipes and Recollections from the Syrian Christians of South India (Hippocrene Cookbook Library) by Lathika George & Latha George Pottenkulam

21. Cuisines of the Alps: Recipes, Drinks and Lore From France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Italy, Germany, Austria and Slovenia (Hippocrene Cookbook Library) by Kay Shaw Nelson

22. Cooking from China’s Fujian Province: One of China’s Eight Great Cuisines by Jacqueline M. Newman

23. Gypsy Feast: Recipes and Culinary Traditions of the Romany People (Hippocrene Cookbook Library) by Carol Wilson

24. Nile Style: Egyptian Cuisine and Culture: Ancient Festivals, Significant Ceremonies, and Modern Celebrations (Hippocrene Cookbook Library) by Amy Riolo

25. Aprovecho: A Mexican-American Border Cookbook (Hippocrene Cookbook Library) by Teresa Cordero-Cordell & Robert Cordell

26. The Best of Polish Cooking: A Delightful Compilation of Traditional Polish Fare in an Easy-to-use Menu Format by Karen West

27. Healthy South Indian Cooking by Alamelu Vairavan & Patricia Marquardt

28. Give Me – A Romance of Wyrd and Fae by LK Rigel

29. The God’s Wife by Lynn Voedisch

30. A Little Bit of Everything For Dummies For Dummies

31. Holy Bible, GOD’S WORD Translation (GW) (with direct verse lookup and book and chapter navigation) by Baker Publishing Group

32. Falling Star by Diana Dempsey Read

33. Write That Book Already!: The Tough Love You Need To Get Published Now by Sam Barry & Kathi Kamen Goldmark

34. Strategy Power Plays (Infinite Success Series) by Tim Phillips & Karen Mccreadie

35. Legends of Babylon and Egypt in relation to Hebrew tradition by L. W. King (Leonard William)

36. South: The Story of Shackleton’s 1914-1917 Expedition by Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton

37. The Book of Household Management by Mrs. Isabella Mary Beeton

FREE eBooks downloaded in December 2011:

1. Resting In the Bosom Of the Lamb by Augusta Trobaugh Read

2. The Bell-Ringer of Angel’s by Bret Harte

3. A Dog Named Slugger by Leigh Brill

4. A Bell’s Biography by Nathaniel Hawthorne

5. Praise Jerusalem! by Augusta Trobaugh

6. Striking Back by Mark Nykanen Read

7. The Diving Bell Or, Pearls to be Sought for by Francis C. Woodworth (Francis Channing)

8. Sophie and the Rising Sun by Augusta Trobaugh Read|Reviewed

9. Biographical Notes on the Pseudonymous Bells by Charlotte Brontë

10. Masters of Space by Morse, Thompson, Bell, Marconi, Carty Towers, Walter Kellogg

11. The Past Came Hunting by Donnell Bell Read|Reviewed

12. Records of a Family of Engineers by Robert Louis Stevenson

13. Mai Tai One On by Jill Marie Landis Read

14. Desperate Housedogs by Sparkle Abbey Read|Reviewed

15. Exposure by Donna Ball Read

16. Renegade (Devoncroix Dynasty) by Donna Boyd Read|Reviewed

17. Night Flight by Donna Ball Read

18. Sanctuary by Donna Ball Read|Reviewed

19. Sweet Tea and Jesus Shoes by Sandra Chastain, Deborah Smith, Donna Ball, Virginia Ellis aka Lyn Ellis, Debra Dixon, Nancy Knight Read

20. Dwelling in His Presence / 30 Days of Intimacy with God: A Devotional for Today’s Woman (NavPress Devotional Readers) by Cynthia Heald

21. The Cart Before The Corpse (The Merry Abbot Carriage-Driving Mystery) by Carolyn McSparren Read

22. Mossy Creek by Deborah Smith, Sandra Chastain, Debra Dixon Read

23. Blood Rock by Anthony Francis

24. Beyond The Misty Shore by Vicki Hinze

25. Carl von Clausewitz’s On War: A Modern-Day Interpretation of a Strategy Classic (Infinite Success Series) by Andrew Holmes

26. Power-up Pilates: Power and Poise For Daily Life (52 Brilliant Ideas) by Steve Shipside

27. The Wedding Gift by Kathleen McKenna Read|Reviewed

28. Winners Never Cheat: Even in Difficult Times, New and Expanded Edition: Even in Hard Times by Jon M. Huntsman

29. Five Minutes on Mondays: Finding Unexpected Purpose, Peace, and Fulfillment at Work by Alan Lurie

30. The Year She Fell by Alicia Rasley Read|Reviewed

31. 25 Days to Better Thinking and Better Living: A Guide for Improving Every Aspect of Your Life by Richard W. Paul & Linda Elder

32. The Art of Asking: Ask Better Questions, Get Better Answers by Terry J. Fadem

33. The Clinch Knot: Fly Fishing Mystery Series, Book 3 by John Galligan Read

34. Smart Women Know When to Say No by Dr. Kevin Leman

35. The Last Drop de Camp by L. Sprague & L. Ron Hubbard

36. Samuel Smiles’ Self-Help: A 52 Brilliant Ideas Interpretation by Steve Shipside

37. Master Dating: Get the Life and Love You Want (52 Brilliant Ideas) by Lisa Helmanis

38. Horror at Halloween: Part One by John Gordon

39. World’s best romance tips by Peter Cross & Dr Sabina Dosani

40. The Twilight of the Gods, and Other Tales by Richard Garnett

41. Improve Your Business Communication (Collection) by Jerry Weissman, Terry J. Fadem, Natalie Canavor & Claire Meirowitz,

42. Future Agenda: The World in 2020 by Tim Jones

43. Boost Your Child’s Confidence: 52 Brilliant Drama Techniques to Help Your Child Shine (52 Brilliant Ideas) by Lucy Morgans and Steve Hemsley

44. Haunted Love (Free short story) by Cynthia Leitich Smith

45. A Hearth in Candlewood (The Candlewood Trilogy, Book 1) by Delia Parr

46. Analysis Without Paralysis: 10 Tools to Make Better Strategic Decisions by Craig S. Fleisher and Babette E. Bensoussan

47. Healthy Children’s Lunches: 52 Brilliant Little Ideas For Junk-Free Meals Kids Will Love (52 Brilliant Ideas) by Mandy Francis

48. World’s best stress-busting tips by Elisabeth Wilson

49. Even You Can Learn Statistics: A Guide for Everyone Who Has Ever Been Afraid of Statistics (2nd Edition) by David M. Levine and David F. Stephan

50. Money, Possessions, and Eternity by Randy Alcorn

51. God’s Eye by A.J. Scudiere

52. Tinseltown by Victoria Fox Read|Reviewed

53. Bridgehead by Stephen Huff

54. The Wrong Side Of Backwards by Stephen Huff

55. Darker Matter: Stories of Strange Futures by Aaron Polson

56. The Awakened: Book One by Jason Tesar

57. Human Resources by Stephen Huff

58. That Last Door Standing Wide Open by Stephen Huff

59. A Dixie Christmas by Sandra Hill

60. Guardian Cats and the Lost Books of Alexandria by Rahma Krambo

61. Guardian of the Dawn (Short Story) (Kormak) by William King

62. Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose by Jagdish N. Sheth, Rajendra S. Sisodia & David B. Wolfe

63. A Victorian Christmas (Anthology) by Catherine Palmer Read

64. Child of the Mist (These Highland Hills, Book 1): These Highland Hills Series, Book 1 by Kathleen Morgan

65. The Culture Cycle: How to Shape the Unseen Force that Transforms Performance by James Heskett

66. Cultivate a Cool Career: 52 Brilliant Ideas for Reaching the Top by Ken Langdon

67. Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince: A 52 Brilliant Ideas Interpretation (Infinite Success Series) by Tim Phillips

68. Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich: A 52 Brilliant Ideas Interpretation (Infinite Success) by Karen

69. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self-Reliance: A Modern-day Interpretation of a Self-help Classic (Infinite Success Series) by Andrew Holmes

70. Frank Bettger’s How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success (Infinite Success Series) by Karen Mccreadie

71. C. Northcote Parkinson’s Parkinson’s Law (Infinite Success Series) by Leo Gough

72. The Disciplined Life (Ebook Short) by Calvin Miller

73. Kiss of The Christmas Wind by Janelle Taylor

74. Practically Fictive by Brian Kahin Read

75. Helpful herbs for health and beauty by Barbara Griggs

76. What’s Stopping You?: Shatter the 9 Most Common Myths Keeping You from Starting Your Own Business by R. Duane Ireland & Bruce Barringer

77. Networking: Work Your Contacts to Supercharge Your Career by Nicholas King

78. Insights from Remarkable Businesspeople (Collection) by D. Michael Abrashoff

79. Stress-proof Your Business and Your Life by Elisabeth Wilson & Steve Pipe

80. Transform Your Life by Penny Ferguson

81. Lose weight and stay slim: Secrets of Fad-free Dieting (52 Brilliant Ideas) by Eve Cameron

82. Drop a Dress Size: 52 Brilliant Little Ideas to Lose Weight and Stay Slim by Kate Cook & Eve Cameron

83. Have it Your Way by Nicholas Bate

84. The Golden Acorn: The Adventures of Jack Brenin by Catherine Cooper

85. Design on a Crime (Deadly Décor Mysteries, Book 1) by Ginny Aiken Read

86. Be your own best life coach: Take Charge and Live the Life You Always Wanted (52 Brilliant Ideas) by Jackee Holder

87. The brilliant book of calm: Down to Earth Ideas For Finding Inner Peace in a Chaotic World (52 Brilliant Ideas) by Tania Ahsan

88. Boundless Energy by Elisabeth Wilson

89. Children of Another God (The Broken World) by T C Southwell

This post has taken hours of work to format over the last month. I think it’s been worth it as I can see a number of books – particularly the business and self-help books that I’ve filed in suitably named folders on my Kindle – that I’d forgotten I’d downloaded. I really have to be more selective in my downloading!

Dancing with the Boss by Clare Gutierrez: review

Dancing with the BossDancing with the Boss by Clare Gutierrez

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
In the American Southwest, criminal organizations from all over the world conspire to control everything from human trafficking to drug running and gun smuggling. Caught in the midst of all of this is the smart and sassy Annie, the owner of a rare-art dealership in Arizona. In a chance encounter, Annie meets Tony, a veritable gangster and mafioso who finds himself at odds with the brutal nature of his work and his growing feelings for Annie.

When Annie learns that her brother Allen, a former special ops agent for the FBI, has gotten himself into some deep trouble, she finds an unexpected ally in Tony. The two of them—along with Annie’s other two siblings—set out to help Allen, maneuvering through mysterious data files and dead bodies as they travel from coast to coast—and abroad—in their search. As the tension builds, so does the number of casualties.

Explored through rich descriptions and populated with complex, likable characters, Dancing with the Boss—part thriller, part romance, part action novel—will keep even the most jaded readers hooked.


Spoiler alert: there are a few plot reveals in this review; I have tried to keep them to a minimum and they are only there to explain my points.

This was an excellent story with lots of tension and plot twists. The story moves along at a good pace; sometime a small pause in the headlong rush to make an important aspect clearer to the reader would be useful, I think. A little polishing to the writing style would turn Dancing with the Boss from a good book into a great book.

There were a couple of problems with the kindle formatting, but I put these down to this being a NetGalley ARC – time to iron out such issues before publication. For the record, I found that the chapters ran into one another and that the word was printed “chaPTer” each time. The first letter of the first paragraph of each chapter was lower case and printed on its own line.

Whilst talking about style and formatting, there were a couple of other points I wanted to mention: I found the direct speech internal monologue inserts clumsy and distracting; finding another way to include these elements would improve the book for me. There was a classic spelling mistake: at one point Mr Hernandez became Mr Fernandez, but quickly reverted. Was this a typo or a previous incarnation, I wondered!

For me the book was somewhat spoiled by a couple of, to me, daft plot happenings. These made the main character, Annie, appear, in my eyes at least, rather stupid, something which most of the rest of the book made clear she wasn’t.

In the first place, having done some quite clever sleuthing and discovered not one but two vital pieces of information into the crime, she heads off, for an indeterminate time, and leaves both pieces of evidence behind! I’m not sure how she planned to investigate (her intention) without at least copies.

Secondly, towards the end of the book, when Annie and her sister are ensconced as investigators, she suddenly produces a huge amount of information from her friend, Rhino, who died some months earlier. No previous mention of this data was made…and given the desperate nature of their need to solve the crime and find those responsible, why would Annie sit on this information?? Non sequiturs like these really annoy me in books.

Rhino’s demise I found unnecessary. The baddies hadn’t found his lair and had his precautions and preparations been as previously described, he could have used his house instead to defeat the intruders.

Throughout the book, the passage of time, particularly when there is significant time between the end of one chapter and the start of the next, is badly described or indicated.

I got a little tired of Tony’s overbearing, nineteenth century attitude, possibly because its description and manifestation varied so little.

Despite all these areas which I believe can be improved, I enjoyed reading Dancing with the Boss. I found the characters for the most part reasonably well drawn; the polishing I mentioned earlier would include refining their description and behaviours a little, removing a touch of the stereotype that tends to creep in. I mostly cared about what happens to the characters; in some cases, the minor characters were in better focus that the major ones!

I recommend this book to ladies who love thrillers and mysteries. I suspect most of the men who read this genre would not enjoy the romance aspect. Personally, I feel this adds to the book, but thought it could be a little less front and centre, but rather a little more subtle. In some ways, I thought Dancing with the Boss couldn’t make its mind up if it were a thriller or a romance: I guess I was looking for it to be a thriller first and foremost! Dancing with the Boss is an enjoyable, entertaining read and I would pick up other books by Clare Gutierrez without hesitation.

I thank Clare Gutierrez and her publishers for making this ebook available for me to review through NetGalley.  Parts of this review also appear there.

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I’m claiming this book as No. TBC/150 in the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge. [Link in right hand sidebar]

In My Mailbox (5): Monday 14 May 2012

Hello and welcome to the latest installment on In My Mailbox, which is a weekly meme originated by The Story Siren.  It gives an opportunity to showcase the books we’ve acquired, by whatever means!

This week all mine are ebooks – including my first two ebook purchases!!


1. Shattered by Donna Ball

A missing teenage girl… a desperate mother… a frantic call in the night… is this a cruel hoax, or the work of a maniacal serial killer?

The peaceful resort town of St. Teresa-by-the-Sea on Florida’s Forgotten Coast is known for its low crime rate, pristine beaches, and great fishing. But tragedy can come even to Paradise, as Carol Dennison found out two and a half years ago when her fourteen-year-old daughter, Kelly, disappeared on her way to a Tallahassee concert. Now, just as Carol as beginning to rebuild the pieces of her shattered life, she receives a midnight call from someone who calls her “mama” and begs for help. Is this a cruel prank designed to terrorize and punish Kelly’s father for the role he played in bringing a recently paroled criminal to justice? Or is it possible that Kelly is still alive?

A grim investigation uncovers a connection between Kelly and other girls who have gone missing along the Gulf Coast in the past few years. When the body of one of those missing girls washes up on the shores of St. Teresa-by-the-Sea, the police are forced to admit they may have a serial killer in their midst. And with over three thousand college students poised to descend on the tiny community for spring break, their only hope for stopping him before he strikes again is the frightened voice of a teenage girl on the telephone… and the desperate determination of the parents who love her.

Shattered is Donna Ball at her best: spine-tingling terror, chilling realism and unforgettable characters. No parent will ever watch her child leave the house in the same way again.

Donna Ball was looking for people to review her latest book and kindly let me have a copy, which I have already read – review to follow.  My RA has been playing up, so life’s been a bit painful lately and I’ve not been abe to do as much as I’ve had planned.  Briefly: I recommend this book – click on the (lifted from Amazon!) image to take you to the Amazon page for the Kindle edition.

2. Unforgettable Embrace by Joanne Clancy

Unforgettable EmbraceUnforgettable Embrace by Joanne Clancy

Unforgettable Embrace, by Joanne Clancy, is a story of a woman’s journey in self-discovery with many unexpected and often hilarious encounters along the way.

Rachel’s life has become a boring and monotonous routine. Life is just not what she expected it to be, so she decides to make some drastic but exciting changes.

A significant event occurs during a friend’s hen weekend, the seriousness of which wouldn’t be unveiled until later.

Tense moments arise that are suddenly and brutally made to look miniscule compared to the serious events, that unknown to Rachel, have already taken place, in which she is unwittingly but dangerously involved

Joanne had a weekend giveaway for Unforgettable Embrace, and I jumped at the opportunity to read this book having just finished Unfaithfully Yours.

3. Growing Up Wired by David Wallace Fleming

Growing up WiredGrowing up Wired by David Wallace Fleming

How will romantic relationships withstand technology’s offer of instant gratification? While on his computer, Victor Hastings admires the provocative pictures of the girl he’s dating.  Meanwhile, she’s posting more and more on Facebook and all the social sites. Now everyone in his cramped fraternity is competing for her.  What kind of love is this?  The wired kind.

I follow David’s blog and have been looking at his books for a while. Recently David offered Growing Up Wired foc on Smashwords for a weekend…well…I’m sure you’ve noticed what a sucker I am for a free book! I’m looking forward to reading and reviewing this book.

ebooks i have bought

1. Twined by A. L. Collins

TwinedTwined by A.L. Collins

Avalin Marsh is used to disappointment. When her mother murdered a woman in the kitchen of her home on her eleventh birthday, Avalin decided that the people in your life were only there to let you down. She built up walls over the years making a mental fortress impervious to disappointment, heartache and sadness. However it also isolated her from others, making her bitter… and lonely.

When her mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia after the murder, Avalin began to see and experience things that she couldn’t explain. She thought she could handle these episodes by pushing them back into her mind. Until the day she sees one of her classmates morph into a monster right in front of her eyes. Pushed to the brink of paranoia, Avalin truly believes she’s insane. Then a mysterious man named Albert comes into her life. She’s wary of his motives yet for some reason finds herself drawn to him even though they’ve never met. What’s even more inexplicable is that Albert knows who Avalin is. She’s the daughter of the famous Abigail Marsh. Her mother.

Now the two of them will need to put their differences aside and trust one another. If Avalin can’t let her guard down long enough to let Albert in, then there might be dire and far reaching consequences in store for them.

It turns out Avalin Marsh isn’t as crazy as she thought.

I bought this, my first paid for ebook (!!) because I didn’t win it on First Reads and really wanted to read it. My good blogging friend, Daisy Chain did win a copy…I’m sure she’ll be reviewing it soon too! I have actually finished reading this, and the review joins my list of “Reviews to Written…Soon!”

2. Scarlett’s by A. L. Collins

Scarlett'sScarlett’s by A.L. Collins

Just when everything around Jaime Williams starts to cave in and, when it looks like the economy has claimed another victim. She takes a job as a last resort at the local diner. Scarlett’s will have you cheering for all that is good in this world. She builds some amazing relationships along the way and Jaime’s solace comes in the help and encouragement that she gives to those closest to her. When a friend stumbles upon some writings in an old binder under her bed while helping her move, the world that Jaime once knew is about to change… Karma is a wonderful thing!

I bought this because the reviews on Amazon were gushing. I’m about three-quarters of the way through and I’m not impressed.


Five more books added to my TBR, of which I have already read two and a half! I think a “No Reading” rule will be in force for a couple of weeks while I catch up with my reviewing!
Have a great week’s reading – be sure to leave a link to your IMM in your comment 🙂

Letters In Cardboard Boxes: review

Letters In Cardboard BoxesLetters In Cardboard Boxes by Abby Slovin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Letters In Cardboard Boxes tells the story of an eccentric grandmother and her granddaughter alongside a series of fantastical letters they once exchanged. Their letters once traversed the East River to help Parker escape the loneliness of a childhood without her globe-trekking parents and communicate during her turbulent teenage years. Now, nearly a decade later, Parker begins to rediscover the evidence of this letter writing tradition, as well as the family’s untold stories and, unexpectedly, letters from her grandmother’s own youth that paint a very different portrait of the woman who raised her.

Letters carries us through the universally-shared experience of loss and the process of coping with life’s unexpected twists and turns. Through unusual and bold characters, the story moves through some of its heavier themes with honesty and humor.

Chapters of the novel have been released weekly, chapter by chapter, since September 2011. Through the weekly release of each chapter, the author hopes readers will be given an opportunity to discuss the novel itself and the experience of reading a novel online, reading weekly, and reading within a larger community. In this way, Letters is meant to be both a personal, as well as a shared, experience.


Even before I read it, I liked the idea of this book: the “jacket” blurb made me think of how we never wholly know anyone in our lives, since there are always portions for which we are not present. I liked the idea of Parker getting to know the young girl/woman her Grandmother had been and seeing how that knowledge changed Parker’s view of her Grandmother and herself. I was delighted, then, when Abby Slovin offered me a eBook copy to review.

With my usual focus (some might call it addiction), I read the book within 24 hours. There are few books that take me longer…or is it that I just refuse to leave the alternative universe until I must? One day I may learn to ration my reading. As usual, I shall do my best to avoid plot spoilers – I do so dislike reviews that remove the necessity of reading the book!

The book is split into five parts, the five stages of Parker and her Grandmother’s experiences in this period. I’m not all that bothered by chapters and sections – in a print book, I often don’t notice chapters passing – however I find on a Kindle, they are more obvious and in this case, the Parts worked well.

I had expected a book with the eponymous letters forming the majority of the text, but this was not the case. Abby Slovin uses the letters of Parker’s youth to salt the present day story, drawing the reader’s eye to the parallels between past and present behaviour and thoughts. As in a well seasoned dish the right amount of salt brings out the flavours of the other ingredients, so Abby’s use of the letters gives us timely insight into the characters’ relationships.

The story starts quite slowly and I found Parker a touch annoying, but as I got to know her and understand her personal demons, I found myself with more sympathy for her – even when I wanted her to take a different course of action. The story weaves in a small cast of supporting characters, who touch Parker’s life in the ways other people often touch ours – sometimes fleetingly, sometimes profoundly and sometimes in a timely manner.

On a practical note, the Kindle formatting wasn’t good. There were lots of spurious carriage returns and half sentence paragraphs. I might not notice chapters, but paragraphing is important to my way of reading; sometimes I had to go back over a section and read it “without” the paragraph breaks to get the meaning. It was particularly irritating and confusing during direct speech. One of my pet peeves is extended direct speech where the speakers are not clearly defined throughout; the Kindle formatting again made rereading and decoding necessary in places.

Having said that, it is an issue that is fixable and doesn’t detract from the well written and thought-provoking book. There were several points in the book when I shed tears – for the characters? Yes. For myself? Not telling! There are also points of humour and things to make the reader think. There were a couple of plot developments that had me wanting to shake Parker and a couple where I think the author understood the reality of the situation differently from my experience. I can’t say more as it would be a plot spoiler!

As with many modern books, Abby Slovin includes a set of suggested discussion topics for a book club. I’m not sure yet what I think of this habit. I know people might say I don’t have to read them, but I find it difficult to “close” the book at that point, especially when, as in this case, the formatting ran the last line straight into them. Maybe inserting a “Chapter page” for that section would enable me to leave before the questions. I can see that the questions would be useful for a book club – and these were well thought out and provoking – but I still have the feeling that pulling a book apart destroys its magic, something I have believed since I first had to write literary decompositions in high school.

All in all, this was an enjoyable work and I regard the time reading it and writing this review well spent. It will join the select list of books that I reread. I recommend Letters in Cardboard Boxes to anyone who has relatives.

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Readers can download the ebook or obtain paperback copies of the novel through the novel’s website:



I’m claiming this book as No. 30/150 in the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge [Link in right hand sidebar].

Renegade: review

Renegade (Devoncroix Dynasty)Renegade by Donna Boyd

Emory Hilliford, an unassuming anthropology professor, is drugged, held captive and interrogated by a mysterious stranger who wants only one thing: the truth about an ancient race of beings known as the lupinotuum, half man/half wolf, who have walked among humans for centuries. Once they ruled the tundra, now they rule Wall Street. Once they fought with teeth and claws, now they fight with wealth and power. And Emory Hilliford, an orphan who was raised by a family of sophisticated, influential lupinotuum in twentieth century Venice, is uniquely positioned to chronicle their culture, their history, and their secrets.

Unknown to all but a select few, Emory has also been carefully groomed to play a crucial role in history, one that could have deadly consequences for his own race, and theirs. Now forced to tell his story, Emory must decide how much of the truth he can afford to reveal, and what secrets he will take to his grave… because his own time is running out.

******            ******            ******            ******            ******            ******              

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have not read any of the other Devoncroix books, but didn’t feel that was a disadvantage in reading this book. In some ways, I suspect it might be a summary of the rest of the series, filling in some of the blanks between the books.

I found the story compelling, the switches between time-slots, genres and pace made for a rollercoaster ride. Moving from an action-packed flashback story to the current day in the kidnap location, where everything was gentile and calm was an effective technique.

The writing was eloquent and visual. This is obviously a well-developed universe and I didn’t spot any internal inconsistencies.

The werewolves in this book/ series are different from those in many other stories. I liked the premise behind these better; it owes a lot to the sange real hypothesis, which then gives an explanation of how humans and werewolves might co-exist.

An excellent book I would recommend to readers of suspense and mystery books as well as lupus-lovers!

I’m claiming this book as No. 3/150 in the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge and No. 9 in the Why Buy the Cow? Reading challenge.
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The Year She Fell: review

The Year She FellThe Year She Fell by Alicia Rasley

The tragic mystery at the heart of their family has finally surfaced . . . When Ellen Wakefield O’Connor is confronted by a young man armed with a birth certificate that mistakenly names her as his mother, she quickly sorts out the truth: his birth mother listed Ellen on the certificate to cover up her own identity, but also because Ellen is, in a way, related to the child. The birth father is Ellen’s troubled husband, Tom. The secrets of the past soon engulf Ellen, Tom, and everyone they love.

*****          *****         *****         *****         *****         *****         *****         *****

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed reading this book. The main thread, the search of a birth mother, a cause of death and the truth, was revealed in surprising twists and turns, and with some amusing diversions. I worked out the cause of death quite early on, and was surprised when no-one picked up on the massive death scene clue (not even the author, apparently). I took longer in working out the birth mother, but that was due to information availablility.

To contrast with the main story threads, there were lighter moments. I have to say I found the relationship between Laura and Jackson to be more Mills and Boon than anything else, but that was ok. It was all surface and little substance. They were pleasant characters. Mother was something of a cipher, who never had the chance to speak to us herself in this book.

Alicia Rasley’s use of changing narrator and technique of overlapping their telling of parts of the story whilst moving the plot on was enjoyable. Alicia’s use of classical family dynamics theory underpins many of the interactions and character traits in the story.

There were a few inconsistencies and, as I read it on a kindle, flicking back to check details like dates I found inconvenient (hhmmmm…guess I should look at the search facility!) and there were a couple of baggy bits in the plot. I forgave the baggy bits as Alicia’s exploration of the effects of uncovering old lies on the various members of the family was interesting.

A little more on how those effects manifested themselves in how the characters saw themselves after the revelations would have been interesting.

All in all a very enjoyable read and a book I would recommend.

I’m claiming this book as No. 1/150 in the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge and No. 8 in the Why Buy the Cow? Reading challenge.
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