Ashley's Booktopia

This site is basically targeting all of you book lovers out there who may be in the process of looking for a great book to read! I have a lot of things to say, so sit back and enjoy a quick peek inside some amazing works of art. This site is also for authors. if you would like to have your book considered for review, please email me at ashley.denis@maine.edu <3 Ashley

Friday, March 19, 2010

I'M BAAAAACK!!!!

Hello all!!!

After receiving numerous emails for review requests I decided to snap back to reality and get this blog back up and running! Being a full time graduate student in the Clinical Counseling field is a lot of work!!! On top of that..I have been going through a divorce for the last few months..a very unexpected one at that..not the most fun I've ever had, let me tell you! Things are looking up though! I have a new place, am dating again, and loving life! I feel it's a perfect time to dive back into those wonderful books you are all writing! :)

I am afraid I am a bit behind on some reviews, for that I greatly apologize. I am on vacation this week and hope to catch up! I would love for you to email me if you would like your book reviewed! For those of you new to my site..how it works is I read your book, review it, post it on here, as well as email you a copy and hopefully get some good discussion going with folks! This is a great way to advertise your book for free! I am such a huge book dork and so this hobby is by far my favorite :)

That's all for now! keep the comments and emails coming! :)

<3 Ashley

Saturday, June 20, 2009

THE WINNERS

Well, no one entered to win the contest for the book Treasure Hunt: A Book of Clues for Parties by Nancy Kruse, so that book will stay on my shelf.

The winner for the book Astro Socks by Leigh M LeCreux is Nicole! Congratulations Nicole! I will be emailing you shortly!

Thanks to everyone to entered into my contest!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

LAST CALL FOR ENTERING THE BOOK CONTESTS

hello all! Just a reminder that tomorrow is the last day to enter the 2 book contests that I am having! You can find descriptions and pictures of both of the books a few entries down!!! Good luck!!!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

REMINDER

A few of you have replied to my book giveaways and did not give any contact information. In order to be eligible to win I need an email address where I can contact you!!

Hope you all have a great day!
-Ashley

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

BOOK GIVEAWAY #2-TREASURE HUNT-A BOOK OF CLUES FOR PARTIES-NANCY KRUSE


This is another book that I am giving away. I read and reviewed this book within the last few months. As someone who does not throw many parties, I did not find it personally helpful, but for those of you with young kids or who love to throw a party and like treasure hunts, this is a PERFECT book.

My review of the book is a few posts back if you are interested in reading more about the pro's and con's of this book.

ELIGIBILITY:

In order to be eligible to win this contest I need your name and email address. All of this can be posted as a comment to this post.

The deadline to enter this contest is Friday June 19th. I will draw the winner Saturday June 20th!I will email the winner for mailing information On Saturday the 20th. I must have an answer back by Saturday the 27th 9am EST or a new winner will be drawn.

BOOK GIVEAWAY #1-ASTRO SOCKS


A while back I did a book giveaway and it was a big hit!! I've decided to do it again to see if I get the same results!



The first book I am giving away is called "Astro Socks" by Leigh Le Creux. I read and reviewed it a while back. It was a cute story! I don't have any children so have no reason for it to collect dust on my shelf. It came with a cool bookmark too. It is a 75 page chapter book and has a few black and white illustrations in it.

ELIGIBILITY:
In order to be eligible to win this contest I need your name and email address. All of this can be posted as a comment to this post.I'd also love to know what you are currently reading because I am nosey and love books! :-)

The deadline to enter this contest is Friday June 19th. I will draw the winner Saturday June 20th!

I will email the winner for mailing information On Saturday the 20th. I must have an answer back by Saturday the 27th 9am EST or a new winner will be drawn.

Good luck!! :-)

THE MOSQUITO TAPES-CHRIS HOLMES

As a big mystery fan, this story definitely helped to feed my addiction. I thoroughly enjoyed not only the story, but the originality of it.
Dr. Jack Youngblood works with the dead. Preferring to work with the dead rather than the living, he considers himself a loner. He lives alone with his dog, Lilly. When Jack does an autopsy on one man and realizes he was murdered, he starts to investigate. Not long after, another person winds up dead. This one looks like a hit and run. Both deaths look suspicious and Jack soon realizes that they are connected.
Jack and his colleague, Jill, work side by side to uncover the mystery. They find a mosquito in the pocket of one of the dead bodies and invite a bug specialist to take a closer look at it. Their investigation leads them to a government building which is the Biologistics site. Jack and Jill try to ask them questions and to see if any of their employees have gone missing recently. The personnel that talk with them refuse to say anything and walk away. Discouraged, Jack obsesses about the case and continues with the investigation even when warned not to.
While all of this is going on, Jack and Jill notice a spark between the two of them. They decide to give it a try and start to see each other outside of work. Things appear to go well for awhile until Jack makes a relationship ending mistake and finds that Jill no longer trusts him.
The story continues, and Jack finds that Biologistics is more a part of these two deaths than they are willing to admit. When it is discovered that all of these events have to do with mosquitoes, things heat up and become very dangerous, even potentially deadly.
Having read many mystery/suspense books with similar story plots, I found this particular plot very refreshing. What I also loved was the make-up of the main characters. I felt that Chris Holmes allowed his readers the opportunity to really get to know his characters and fall in love with them. I felt as though I was right there with Jack as he performed his autopsies and with Jill as she faced some very dangerous men.
I would recommend this story to any mystery/suspense lovers. This story also has a lot of information about forensic pathology, which is Jack’s career, so if this is of interest to anyone, then this book is for you as well!

THE DEAD MAN-JOEL GOLDMAN

about a year ago I reviewed another book by this author called "Shakedown". Both books were awesome! I highly recommend his books if you are into mystery/murder type of books!


Jack has the shakes. This rare condition is here to stay, which is why the FBI put him into early retirement. Just because he no longer works for them does not mean he stays away from the drama.
When people keep winding up dead, Jack and his new found friend Lucy investigate. They find that all of these victims are connected to a dream study that is being conducted at the Harper Institute. Milo Harper is a billionaire who is funding the study. Jack soon learns that these people are dying in ways that are their own worst nightmares; literally. Due to being part of the dream study, documentation is done on the subjects’ worst, re-occurring nightmares.
Jack is not only fighting the clock to try and find the murderer before they strike again, but is also up against the entire FBI. They think Jack has knowledge that he isn’t sharing and think he is somehow involved in things. When his daughter died not long ago of a drug overdose, the FBI were pretty certain she stole 500k, and when she died they suspected Jack of pocketing the money for his own personal use. Jack now has to help find the killer before the FBI gets in his way, or even worse, arrests him.
Having read and reviewed Shakedown, I found I was just as impressed with this story. Joel Goldman has an uncanny knack for creating twists to the story that makes it almost impossible for the reader to predict who the killer is. Not many mystery/suspense writers can do that.
I love Joel Goldman’s characters. I feel as though he gives them just enough spunk and personality to allow the reader to make a solid connection with them. He does not go overboard with his descriptions, and for that, I am grateful.
As with Shakedown, I found that I loved his style of writing. It is clear, concise, and to the point. Joel Goldman leaves his readers hungry for more and left me turning page after page without wanting to take a break to get back to the real world around me. This is an exceptional talent to have.
Lastly, I loved the ending. I won’t give any of it away, but it truly put the icing on the cake. Just when I thought I couldn’t sing enough praise for this story, the ending made me want to sing an octave higher. It was unexpected and exhilarating! I would recommend this book to any and all mystery/suspense lovers. This is one that will not disappoint!

CODE OF SILENCE-SALLY WRIGHT

Always glad to read a good mystery, I was excited for this book. Unfortunately, I found myself a bit disappointed with the writing. The actual plot, the mystery of the book, was excellent. The way it was set up and how it read to the readers was where the problem came, in my opinion.
Grieving the recent loss of his wife, Ben Reese is not doing much of anything. When a good friend gently prods him into helping with a potentially dangerous mystery, Ben reluctantly jumps on the band wagon.
Set in the 1950’s, Ben and his friend Richard become entangled in something very big and very dangerous. Carl Walker has gone missing. He is an acquaintance of Bens. Ben and Carl’s neighbor, Beth search Carl’s house for clues and find that his house has been broken into and searched. They soon find that their houses as well have been broken into.
Carl is found dead and the cops want to rule it a suicide. Receiving a package from Carl before he died, Ben starts to uncover the truth. Before Carl was killed he sent clues to where he was hiding evidence on a man who, ten years earlier, killed a woman and made it look like a suicide. She found this man, Bill Weisberg, an American Army Officer and linguist, was giving information to the enemies of America. She took pictures of his exchange of information for money. Now, ten years later he is resurfacing again to try and get his hands on the pictures he was unable to get back then. These pictures are now in Ben’s possession. Weisberg will stop at nothing to get them. He is even willing to go as far as to kidnap, torture, and kill.
What I didn’t like was the beginning pages. They were full of characters the reader doesn’t know yet and I found myself confused with how much information they threw at you, without allowing us to get to know the characters. Sally Wright starts the story out with action, which is the murder part of the story, but due to not getting any explanation of the characters, or the significance of the murder, it was a bit disappointing.
My next criticism would be that I had to keep reminding myself that the time line was set in the 1950’s. I found that without the chapters actually giving me the dates, I would assume it was modern times by the way the characters were created. I know the mystery itself makes it obvious that it was set in the 40’s and 50’s, but in other stories I have read, I get the feel from the writing that I am in that time frame, and for some reason with this story I kept thinking it was modern day.
That all being said, I really think that the story was good. I enjoyed the plot line, and liked the characters once I got to know them. I felt the story was well planned and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good mystery.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

BEFORE SEPTEMBER FALLS-JESSE LEE

Below is a review I did just recently. The story was amaaaazzzzzing. This is definitely a name to look out for in the up coming years!!!



It is not that often that a first time author amazes me with his book and blows me away with it. This is one of those times. Jesse Lee has written a remarkable account of one young man’s summer before college. The simplicity of the story line and the incredible character creations held my eyes captive to the story and would not let go until the very last page.
Jason is a typical nineteen year old boy. Graduating from high school, he realizes that he only has this one summer left to party and hang with the friends he grew up with before people move away and college life begins. Jason goes full speed ahead and doesn’t waste a moment. He decides it is high time he loses his virginity and does so in a rather awkward way and pays the price for that decision shortly after.
Spending as much time as possible with his best friend Tawny, the two of them party it up, hook up with people, experience break up, and have the time of their lives. They amount of alcohol they consume is worrisome, but the memories they create are unforgettable.
At first glance this story appears to be simply about a guy drinking too much and making it his business to get laid as much as possible, but I think there is more to it than that. What I got out of this story was a young man coming into his own. Jason finds himself. He discovers more about himself in this one summer than I think he even realizes. He does this by making bad decision, going out on a limb several times, being accepted and rejected, and taking chances. All of this gives him a sense of self.
I give so much credit to Jesse Lee for writing about this. This is a fantastic story that would be beneficial for high school and college aged kids to read, although I am not so sure their parents would agree with me on this.
A big part of what made this story so incredible was the characters. Jesse Lee allows his readers to make an emotional connection; allows us to share in their emotions; to laugh when they laugh, and cry when they cry. I think that their situations are relate-able and allow the readers to feel a certain kinship with these characters. A bond is formed and between reader and character, which is exactly why I can say with such confidence that Jesse Lee has an incredible talent for writing and is completely inspiring.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

BRENDA HILL INTERVIEW!!!

I have had the pleasure of reviewing two of Brenda Hill's books. Both were amazing, must reads. They proudly sit on my shelf. What gave me further pleasure was the fact that her publisher found my reviews to be what they were looking for and published a portion of each on 'Ten Times Guilty' and 'Beyond the Quiet'. As a reviewer I find no greater compliment than this!

Below you will find an interview I had with Brenda Hill. I was lucky enough to have this inspirational woman agree to answer some questions. Her answers are great, and very informative. I hope you all enjoy; I know I did!

Also below you will find my reviews for both of her books. Check out www.frontstreetreviews.com if you are looking for more great book reviews!

INTERVIEW:
What inspired you to become a writer?
My grandfather read to me and told stories about knights of olde and castles in his native France. Since then, I’ve always had a book open and several waiting in a must-read stack.However, I never thought I could become a writer - someone literary who writes lyrical prose that almost sings as you read – until I owned a bookstore in the 1980s and met published and aspiring authors. Some asked me to edit their manuscripts and I realized most were ordinary people, working men and women who were housewives, store clerks, business owners, doctors, and attorneys. But the aspiring writers believed that with work and dedication to the craft of writing, they could become published authors. Some did while others kept working at the craft. That taught me a valuable lesson: keep learning and never give up. While I’m still not a literary writer and never will be, I do hope to entertain with my stories.

What inspires you to write about women and their struggles?
Probably because of the struggles in my own life. In my first novel, Ten Times Guilty, my female lead, Tracy, is a struggling single mother trying to do the best for her son. At one time I had the entire responsibility of raising and providing for my own son, so I knew of Tracy’s desperation and her struggle to do better on limited funds. While I didn’t experience her sexual assault, I’ve survived other traumas, so I could write about panic, hopelessness, and finally, the determination to take control and survive. Beyond the Quiet tells about a grieving widow who discovers her happy marriage was a sham. I wasn’t a widow, but I did lose my husband of thirty years to divorce, so I knew all the emotions: loss, shock, grief, betrayal, and rage. Some of my character’s other experiences, such as meeting a man who made her toes curl, hasn’t actually happened yet, but I have an active imagination. I’d love to meet a Terry O’Neal in my own life. My Amazon Short, Am I Wife or Daughter? is based on my own experience with my mother’s care. Again, what happened in the story wasn’t my actual experience, but all the dilemmas and emotions - the indecision, the resentment, and guilt – were all there.

Who inspires you?
Anyone - man, woman, or child - who has a dream and works at achieving that dream. They may fall at times, as I have done, but I admire and learn from those who pick themselves back up and continue on the path to their goals.

Do you have a favorite character from one of your books? Who do you relate the most to?
Lisa, in Beyond the Quiet. She experiences all the emotions that accompanies loss and betrayal, yet she grits her teeth and goes back to work, determined to learn why she was betrayed. In her quest, she learns about herself and emerges as a stronger, loving woman.

What books would we find on your bookshelf?
Quite a variety ranging from Memoirs of an Invisible Man to The Da Vinci Code. From fantasies to biographies. I also read some paranormals, love stories, and thrillers.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
The lesson I learned years ago: Keep learning all you can about the craft of writing, and never give up.

REVIEWS: 'Beyond the Quiet'

Not only does Brenda Hill create an amazing story, with characters that will stay in your heart long past the stories ending, but she also teaches many life lessons to her readers as well. I not only enjoyed this story, but I felt as though I came out of it feeling better about myself; I was reminded of how precious life is and how wonderful it can be.
Lisa, a woman in her mid forties has never experienced life. She went through the motions of her marriage and raised a daughter. It takes losing her husband and finding out some terrible truths about what he did while they were married to really open up her eyes. She realizes that she has been living in a near loveless marriage and has never taken the time to get to know herself. Coming to the harsh realization that she is short on money, Lisa picks herself up and out of her depression and pity party and gets back to work as a real estate agent. This is where she meets Terry. Terry is the other piece in the puzzle to Lisa finally opening up enough to learn about herself.
Brenda Hill takes her readers through a story all about Lisa and herself discovery. She finds out what it is like to truly love someone, to truly hate someone, and all that is in between. At forty-four years old Lisa is just starting to live her life. Her self-discovery and attempt to open up to the world is jarred when she learns more about her husband’s betrayal, her friend’s betrayal, and encounters a man who is stalking her. This story is definitely not lacking in excitement!
What I truly love about this story is the fact that although it has many components to it, they are all vital to the story line and the reader is never once confused about what is going on. Brenda Hill does an absolutely fantastic job of writing in a clear, concise fashion that allows for her readers to keep up and enjoy everything they are given. To me this is one of the big hurdles of being a truly talented, amazing writer; and Brenda Hill has nailed it!
If any of her readers never experienced what real love is like, Brenda Hill gives it to them in big doses in regards to Lisa and Terry’s relationship. Each and every time that they are together, Brenda Hill does a perfect job at not only describing the way that they are totally and wholly in love with each other, but she allows her readers to feel the love deep in their souls. I got those warm and fuzzy feelings each time I read about their experiences together. To be able to love like that even once in your life, if only for a few months, is truly a gift.
I think the ending of this book was surprising, but appropriate. I would recommend this to anyone who is ready to take on not only the joy of a good, solid read, but also for those ready to go along with Lisa on her journey through life and self discovery to what it means to truly live.


'Ten Times Guilty'

As amazing as her most current book, Beyond the Quiet, Brenda Hill continues to awe and inspire her readers. Her heroic female characters are impossible not to fall head over heels in love with.
Tracy, a single mother with a baby boy, is trying her best at the game of life. She is providing just barely for her son by working as many hours at work as she can so they can hopefully someday eat better than spaghetti, rice and beans that seem to always be on their plates. Trying to find the time to attend college classes so she can better herself, Tracy speaks to her boss at the museum where she works about getting more hours. This is where she meets Karr. He is the new security guard. Seeing red flags when it comes to this man, Tracy decides to avoid him at all costs. Karr realizes she is doing this and starts to put the pressure on. He asks her on dates and doesn’t seem to like taking no for an answer. He even starts to make inappropriate sexual comments and advances.
Karr takes his advances to a whole new level when he follows her out of the museum one night, ignoring her requests for him to leave her alone. As Tracy continues to tell Karr to get lost, he becomes more and more angry, finally reaching his boiling point. He grabs her and brutally rapes and beats her, leaving her for almost dead, but not before threatening the life of her child if she ever tells.
Tracy is scared into silence. Thinking only of keeping her son safe, Tracy lies to the authorities about who did it and acts as though she did not see her attacker. She is put into the hospital for a few days to recover from her attack and decide what her next step is. Thinking that the worst is finally over couldn’t be further from the truth for Tracy. She finds she needs to pull all of her strength together, most of which she never even knew she possessed, to get through this trauma. With the help of some professionals in the field Tracy finds herself on a whirlwind of emotional ups and downs that prove to be the hardest test she will ever have to endure; one that will test not only her sense of security but also her own self worth.
Brenda Hill has a knack for creating vivid characters that touch her readers to their very souls. As much as I loved reading this courageous story, a part of me couldn’t help but wish it would end just so that Tracy’s pain would end. I don’t think I have ever hoped for a happy ending as much as I did with this book.
Not only could the characters be portrayed in real life, but Brenda Hill creates real life situations that can or have happened to women. As a survivor of sexual assault, I found this story refreshingly honest regarding the actual emotions that women go through when they are violated. This tells me that Brenda did her research. This book reiterated the fact that women can find strength from places they never knew existed both within themselves and from the outside world. This is a great reading tool for women to help keep their spirits alive when they feel like giving up the fight and letting their perpetrators win.
I would recommend this book to any woman who isn’t afraid to laugh, cry, and share in the joys and sorrows of Brenda Hill's’ characters as they fight to regain their lives and seek justice.

Friday, May 1, 2009

THE HOUSE ON THE SHORE-VICTORIA HOWARD

My review below says everything about this book. It was a really enjoyable read. visit www.frontstreetreviews.com for more great reviews!



Victoria Howard has painted her readers a beautiful picture of Scotland with her words and descriptions. Set in modern times, she tells a wonderful love story that is riddled with suspense.
Anna MacDonald moves to the Scottish Highlands to make a fresh start. After ending a bad relationship and leaving her job, Anna moves into a croft that was left to her by her grandmother. She is tired of the city and wants some peace and quiet so she can spend her summer writing a book and also reconnect with her childhood friends.
The last thing on Anna’s mind is meeting a man. Not only does she meet a very good looking American man whose boat breaks down near her croft, but she instantly feels an emotional and physical connection with him. Trying her best to ignore these feelings, Anna finds herself in a heap of trouble. She gets a letter offering a hefty sum of money to sell her croft, which she quickly declines. Soon after, she appears to become a target to someone. This someone is pretty adamant that he wants her dead. She gets shot at, her home gets broken into, and her car is tampered with, among other things. Fearing for her safety, Anna’s friend convinces her to allow Luke, the dreamy American with a heart melting smile, to stay with her until she can find out who wants to hurt her.
As the days go on, Anna and Luke form a special bond and cling to each other. At the same time, Anna’s stalker is upping the ante and Luke will stop at nothing to find the man so that Anna will be safe.
Victoria Howard does a wonderful job with her character creations. In fact, I found myself falling for Luke! She allows you to see inside their world and form a bond with them. I also liked the description of the landscape. Victoria Howard gives just enough description without going overboard.
The suspense of the story was what really captured my interest. I adore a good love story, so with the added suspense Victoria Howard has created an amazing story that will captivate her readers until the very end. I would recommend this story to any romance and suspense lovers. The romance is not too over the stop, so it will not spoil the story for all of the suspense lovers out there!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

TREASURE HUNT:A BOOK OF CLUES FOR PARTIES-NANCY KRUSE

Happy Easter everyone!!! I am sitting here at work and have some down time so I figured I would put up another post! This is not a typical type of book I review, but it was interesting none the less. Basically a very short how-to book on treasure hunts you can put together for basically any party. For those of you into those types of things, this book would be a big help! visit www.frontstreetreviews.com for more reviews!

This cute little book is perfect for any party. Whether it is a birthday, shower, or even a holiday like Christmas, this book has some great ideas!
Nancy Kruse has created a how-to book on treasure hunts for different occasions. She takes you through, step by step, telling you how it should be set up and how many clues one should typically use. She then shows all different examples of clues to specifically use first and last and then all of the in between clues to use. She even breaks the book up into different rooms where you could hide the clues in your home, including places outside of the house as well!
All one needs to make a successful party is this book, pen, paper, and the gifts that the guests will eventually find at the end of all of the clues. Teens and adults alike would like this book and the party it helps to create. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking to put a little added twist into the party they are hosting!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

SAY GOODBYE-EJ RAND

Below is my reivew of this book...I am very curious to know if other's felt differently than I did about it. Both my raves and criticisms are below. Enjoy.


This book is a tough one for me to review. My opinions of the story seem to be all over the place. The first half of the story left me bored and tempted to let it go unread, but the latter half was well written and evoked the proper emotions I think the author was hoping his readers would experience.
Gary lost his wife to cancer about a year ago. Not really doing much of anything with his life, he winds up right in the middle of a murder case. His neighbor dies in a car accident and the cops determine that it is accidental. Gary is asked by the victims’ wife to investigate because she is certain her husband was murdered due to information he stumbled upon while at work.
Gary meets Becca, the only witness to the crash. They instantly form a strong bond. The two of them, plus some friends in the police department, and a few others will stop at nothing to figure out what really happened. Things really start to heat up when more and more people wind up dead. Gary is certain these ‘bad’ guys are sending him a warning message when they go after Becca. This makes him all the more determined.
The plot of the story is exciting and is what made me want to read the book in the first place, but I found that during the first part of the book I had to read the words very slowly. If I didn’t, I realized I was lost and needed to start the page or chapter over. I found I did not need to do this for the second half of the book. E J Rand appears to have worked out his writing kinks after the first eighty or so pages. I felt the first eighty-ish pages jumped from topic to topic and conversation to conversation a bit too quickly, which is why I think I kept getting lost.
My only other criticism would have to be how the chapters were broken up. They are set up to tell you the exact time, down to the minute, when things in the chapter are happening. Sometimes it would even go backwards. I found this distracting to the story.
I give a lot of credit to E J Rand for his creativity. I think the storyline was well thought out and very creative. I really thought Becca and Gary’s characters were well formed and very likeable. I would recommend this story to anyone who enjoys mystery. There are definitely parts of this story that you would not be able to predict!


check out more reviews at www.frontstreetreviews.com

Sunday, March 29, 2009

THE GRACE NOTE-BRIAN L. DOE

I try really hard to not judge a book by its cover because more often than not I find that it doesn't give me the correct opinion of the book, but for some reason I did not care for the cover of this book, so I couldn't help but think that I may not like this story. Boyyyyy was I wrong. I loved it, couldn't put it down, and read it virtually straight through til' the end.
Brian L. Doe did an amazing job with this one and I was proud to read it. visit www.frontstreetreviews for a copy of the review below as well as more great reviews!


Captivated from the very first page, Brian L. Doe has created a story of tragedy, redemption, and love. This book came full circle; starting with my tears upon the pages at the beginning, then spilling again at the last pages.
Alexander Brogan is a violinist and a Julliard instructor. His life appears to be going perfect; his job is going extremely well and he is with a woman whose passion is stronger than anything he has ever known. Simply put, he is captivated by her. When a terrible tragedy takes her away from him, Alex finds himself spiraling down into a black abyss. He no longer knows who he is or what he wants. He feels his life is basically over and passionless.
Moving to a small town to get out of the city and away from the memories, Alex finds himself spending a lot of time doing a whole lot of nothing. One day he hears a girl playing the violin; his neighbor of all people. Thinking that fate is playing a cruel trick on him he tries to ignore it. As much as he tries, Alex can’t stop thinking of the violin and the beautiful music it creates. These memories are bitter sweet because with the good feelings comes the sad memories of what he once had before it was ripped away from him.
Giving in, Alex decides to instruct the girl, finding out that she is a prodigy. Alex soon finds himself caught up in his new life, feeling as though he is being given a second chance, but at the same time feeling as though he is betraying his beloved.
This beautifully crafted story takes its readers on a journey. This journey teaches us that when unexpected tragedy strikes, you can still continue living your life. It teaches you about fate and human emotions; allowing us to experience Alex’s most vulnerable side as we fight with him to get out of his grief and continue his life with new vigor, but never forgetting those he loved and lost. We are right beside Alex every step of the way as he learns how to love again and re-create himself into a man so filled with love and passion that you can’t help but fall in love with him.
Brian L. Doe is very talented with his words and painting his readers a very clear and vivid picture. I would recommend this book to anyone who has experienced a loss in their life. This uplifting and heartfelt story will give you hope that tomorrow will be a better day.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

THE HERMIT- RAY HOLLAND

I honestly did not think I would like this story very much, but it was unlike any other I have read and really was quite entertaining. I think this is a good read for anyone, and can lighten any mood. check out www.frontstreetreviews.com for more reviews like the one below.



Ray Holland breaks his story up into two parts; The Mayor’s Daughter and The Hermit. Part one focuses mostly on the Mayor’s daughter. The reader soon learns that she is a nice enough girl, with a nice enough life. Her focus in this hilariously light story is finding men to play ‘bouncy-bouncy’ with, (and no, I did not make up that word. It came from the book, I swear!). When she sets her sight on a man, she goes home with him. As they are doing their thing, the earth shakes, strange animals make appearances, and vortexes appear. This is Ray Holland’s way of telling the reader that amazing things happened in the bedroom.
Part two of the story focuses more on the hermit. This hermit went to hermit school, did an apprenticeship with another hermit and now for the past fifty years has made his career out of being a hermit. His spiritual life goal is to reach the High Plane of Astral Everythingness. There are approximately 143 steps that need to be taken to get there. Well on his way to reaching this goal, he starts to get distracted by visions and dreams of the Mayor, his daughter, and a few others, all of whom he has never met before.
The story continues on its light and hilarious path and the two characters end up meeting. The best way to describe this story is to first say that all seriousness goes out the window as soon as you open the front cover. This oddly fascinating and refreshingly original story is unlike any other! I wouldn’t even know what category to put it in. It isn’t a children’s book because it has adult humor in it, but at the same time it is non offensive. This story can be enjoyed by all. It’s like thinking of some of the silliest things and words you can possibly think up in your head and mixing it in with a simple story line. It is really quite genius!
Ray Holland has an amazing talent for writing, but also an uncanny knack for breaking the unspoken rules of traditional storytelling and creating something truly inspirational- an amazing read that will keep you grinning ear to ear until the very end!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

AUTHORS

I have had quite a few authors contact me recently who have seen my blog. They have requested a review of their book. Originally this site was intended just for readers who were looking for a good book, as I already review for frontstreet.com, but I am finding that I do have a little bit of time in my busy schedule to do some reviewing on the side.
That being said, if any authors are interested in having their book considered for review, please email me at ashley.denis@maine.edu. Your review will be posted not only on this site, but on http://www.frontstreetreviews.com/ as well. Two places for your book to be seen! Can't beat that! :-)

Please visit the above site, or sift through some of my reviews here if you would like to get a feel for the way I write.

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ETHICS

Okay, I just responded to an email from an author, a pretty amazing one at that, about the topic of ethics when it comes to reviewing. I have never seen any actually written down, but are there a core set of them in a book somewhere that reviewers are supposed to know about and follow? If so, someone please email me or write on here to share it with everyone.
I always have used common sense when I write my reviews. As you can see on some of them, I write less than favorable reviews, but in my opinion I am always being honest. the big 'BUT' in my book is that there is a difference between being honest and open about a book and being a total jerk-face. Yes, I said jerk-face. :-)
I hope in my not-so-positive reviews I have at least shown authors the respect they deserve. I may not agree with the topic they write about, the message they are sending, or the way they write their books, but for the record, they deserve TONS of credit and respect. They are pouring their heart and souls out to the public and sharing their creation. I look up to each and every author so much and hope to someday be able to say I did more than have a few of my reviews published. Although I did just recently have one published on the front page of a book, ahmm, but that's getting off topic.
So yea, if anyone out there has any knowledge of a set of ethics around reviewing, please let me know! and to those reviewers out there who aren't aware. Our words can cause a lot of damage. There is a difference between disliking a piece of work and saying it needs some more editing, than just writing down hurtful things just because you can. Think about that next time you go and write a nasty review.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

THE COURTIER'S SECRET-DONNA RUSSO MORIN

This book was awesome! It gave great some great history, allowed you to see what life was like back then, and really showed you the courage of one girl and her fight to live a life worth living. I couldn't put this book down! Below is my review, which you can also view at http://www.frontstreetreviews.com/


This story was absolutely enchanting. Set in the 1600’s, with King Louis XIV as ruler, Donna Russo Morin gives her readers an inside look at what life was like inside the walls of Versailles. She allows us to experience just how ridiculous people acted to get in the good graces of the King and Queen and to witness their everyday lives in general.
Jeanne Yvette Mas du Bois is a beautiful young woman stuck in a life she has no desire to live. Unlike all of her acquaintances, who are ecstatic to be fortunate enough to live within the same walls as the king and live a life of privilege, Jeanne is frustrated with it and views it as a mundane life. Jeanne has the spirit and desires of a woman living in our time; she wishes to be allowed to do what men do, to be respected, and to be heard. She feels all women are reduced to are frilly dresses and endless gossip.
Her true passion is wielding a sword. Having been taking secret lessons from her uncle for quite some time, she finds that she is very skilled. Having to hide this part of herself frustrates her to no end. When Jeanne and her uncle find themselves enmeshed in a real battle with men trying to kill the Queen, she meets Henri Boucher D’Aubigne. Henri is a musketeer. Yearning for purpose in life, and wanting to be closer to Henri, Jeanne does the unthinkable; she dresses like a man and becomes one of them, under the alias ‘Jean-Luc’.
As time goes on, Henri meets Jeanne and falls in love with her, not knowing the connection between her and ‘Jean-Luc’. Together they fight for their love in a time when it is not common for men and women to marry for love, but rather money and status. Jeanne must fight not only to keep her secret, but also to decide what to do with the fate her father has chosen for her; which is for her to marry a wimp of a man who she does not even know or love.
I found this story to be refreshing and utterly exciting. Obviously a very talented writer, Donna Russo Morin has created magnificent characters that you cannot help but fall in love with; they are so vibrant and full of life. She creates Jeanne to be this character that is uncomfortable in her own fancy shoes and wishes to be something else, which I think most people find themselves going through at one point or another in their lives. This causes her to be very relate able, which I feel only makes her that much more loveable. She is a strong woman who stands up for what she feels is right, which I think is something we all wish we sometimes had the courage to do.
Donna Russo Morin has added a perfect amount of detail; no more and no less would have made this story any better. This is truly one of those stories that will stay in your heart long past reading the last page. I would recommend this book to everyone. I think men and women alike would get a great deal out of this story. Women would find that their hearts are set aflutter with the romance and the courage of this young woman fighting for what will make her happy, and men would smile with satisfaction at the action scenes and the honorable way some of the men were brought up to be.

THE OLIVE HORSESHOE-BEN F. SMALL

if you like detail, this book is great. if you like blood and gore in detail, the first few pages of this book will shock and awe you. It's a good read. Not one I would read again, but it's definitely worth picking up and indulging yourself in. below is my review. visit www.frontstreetreviews.com for for more great reviews!


I felt as though this book could have been condensed down by about 100 pages and still been able to follow the same general story line. I do not mean this as a criticism but rather a compliment. Ben F. Small has turned this great suspense novel into a very descriptive, fleshed out adventure. I wouldn’t trade in those extra 100 pages for anything!
Denton Wright is a billionaire. When he learns that his father has been brutally tortured and murdered it becomes his mission to find out why. The authorities are chalking it up to be nothing major, but Denton knows there is something big behind all of this. He relies on his good friend and sometimes bed partner Mandy to help him uncover clues. Jenna Rogers’ father was killed alongside Denton’s father. They were on a trip together in Cadiz when the murder took place. Denton flies to California to meet Jenna and her right hand man Carlos to figure out their next move.
Carlos and Mandy hook up. Jenna and Denton hook up. Relationships are formed. The four of them go on a very dangerous mission to uncover the truth. They learn that the two men were killed due to possible knowledge of something called the Olive Horseshoe. Flying to the Spanish Coast, Mandy and Carlos go undercover as tourists and sign up to go on the same tour the two men were on when they were killed. Denton and Jenna are close by, doing a bit of digging on their own with the help of Denton’s FBI friend Fred.
They think the tour buses used on the tour are also used to pick up and drop off large amounts of drugs along the way. Things get heated when more and more people get killed in connection with all of this, some of them being people Denton holds near and dear to his heart.
The only criticism I have is the romance bit of this story. Denton is with Mandy, they decide they don’t love each other and just have something casual. The rest of the story is of Mandy falling head over heels for Carlos and Denton doing the same for Jenna. Then the last few pages of the books it switches again; Mandy and Denton start to feel as though maybe they do love each other. Ben F. Small leaves it at that. I felt as though that part of the story was unnecessary. It took focus away from the important and relevant part of the story.
The rest of the story was filled with fantastic description, suspense, and action. I really enjoyed the beginning where you get to be there witnessing the two men’s death. I was so horrified by it that it is part of what fueled me to read the book; I wanted to find their killers right along with Denton and Jenna.
Ben F. Small has a great story he has created and should be very proud of himself. His writing is clear and his creativity is grand! I would recommend this story to anyone who enjoys suspense!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

THE SERPENT AND THE SCORPION-CLARE LANGLEY-HAWTHORNE

I don't have time to really say much, but my review that I did sums it up nicely. It was an interesting book. I really liked it, and think it is definitely worth reading!


Taking place in the early 1900’s, I found this mystery to be different than the last few that I have read. First of all, it took place in the past; that in itself made it a very unique and refreshing read. Second, not only was there a fantastic mystery that needed to be solved, but the romance between the main characters was very stirring. Usually I am one for a sizzling, red hot romance, but this, due to the time in which the story takes place, was very prim and proper, but at the same time extremely satisfying.
Ursula Marlow is a very talked about woman. She is the center of most gossip in fact. Whether it be because she refuses to marry Lord Wrotham until she is able to stand on her own two feet and successfully manage the business that was left to her when her father died, or because she is a suffragette who believes that women should be treated equally in a relationship, in business, and should be able to vote, there is definitely a lot to gossip about.
Ursula befriends a woman named Katya Vilensky while at a function. They meet up by chance a few weeks later in Egypt and spend some time together. While out doing some shopping, something goes horribly wrong and Katya winds up dead. Chalking it up to almost nothing, the officials appear to be doing nothing to try and find her killer. Ursula vows to find out who is behind this. She starts to uncover little clues along the way that help convince her that there is a bigger picture to this murder.
Word is sent from England that someone is found dead inside Ursula’s Oldham factory. This factory was a special project that she created; a place where single women could work and get back on their feet and learn skills. Fearing the worst, Ursula rushes back to London and finds that one of her young women who worked in the factory is found dead, and the factory burned down. Ursula is now more determined than ever to find the link between these two deceased women and to try and understand how she plays a part in all of this.
While all of this is going on, Ursula is trying to map out her feelings for Lord Wrotham. She knows she loves him and wants to be with him, but in order for his reputation to stay untarnished she needs to agree to marry him sooner rather than later. She has a stubborn streak that tells her she needs to wait it out and learn to be successful and self-sufficient so that people will respect her. Each time she sees Lord Wrotham she struggles with these feelings.
Clare Langley-Hawthorne has created a very well balanced, like able story. It is filled with the mystery her readers are seeking, romance, and an ending that will leave you puzzled and anxious to find out what happens next. Her writing is clear and concise and she paints a beautiful picture of what it was like in the early 1900’s in Egypt and England. I thoroughly enjoyed this read.

check out www.frontstreetreviews.com for more reviews!

Monday, March 2, 2009

UNSEEN-NANCY BUSH

okay, words can't describe this story. Okay they can, which is what I did below, but seriously this book is so freaking amazing. I'm going to wait a year, then read it again, and probably do this every year after that. It's one of the good ones peeps! trust me!
www.frontstreetreviews.com for more great reviews!



Knowing that Nancy Bush is going a bit out of her element with this thriller story had me a bit skeptical at first. Within the first chapter, hell, the first page even, I knew this book was going to be a hit. I can say with complete confidence that Nancy Bush has found her niche. She has created such an amazing, thrilling story filled with horror, mystery, intrigue, and romance. My eyes were glued to this book. Not once did this story go dry or even slow down with the excitement.
Lucky, as she likes to call herself, has a knack for sensing when someone is bad. She spends her time following after and killing men who hurt people, or who have intentions on hurting people. Her main targets appear to be rapists, pedophiles and women beaters. Lucky is sly and quick and able to cover her tracks well, always using a different vehicle to follow these bad people.
Gemma LaPorte doesn’t remember what happened. She wakes up in a hospital bed with a nasty injury on the side of her face. Determining she’s been in an accident of some sort, Gemma realizes that the last memory she has if of three days ago. At around the same time of her accident, a man was mowed down with a vehicle in the parking lot of a soccer field where children were playing. After the accident it was discovered that this man was a pedophile that had tried to grab a little girl in his van. Gemma is considered a suspect, but she cannot remember anything that has happened.
At the same time these events are taking place, a man who calls himself Wolf is going around killing women who he considers to be witches. The cops have no idea who is committing these crimes and burning their bodies. While Wolf stalks and kills these women he obsesses over the thought that he is after one particular ‘witch’. All signs point to Gemma LaPorte, but the stories don’t connect until further into the book.
Nancy Bush has proven that she has an extraordinary talent for writing. All of these events are connected and the ending will blow her readers right out of the water! As you read this book you will think you have pegged what is going on, just to be shocked into realization that it is something else entirely. I would recommend and highly suggest readers who enjoy thrillers that are fast paced and unrelenting seek out this book. It will be worth every penny spent! Nancy Bush has found her true calling in writing about dark and scary things!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

APHRODISIAC-ALLYSON ROY

This was definitly one of those book that I could not put down. I have no complaints of this book, only that it ended. I was drawn in from page one and never lost interest. This shows that Allyson Roy has a gift! I look forward to hopefully reading more books in the future.

Below is my review. check out www.frontstreetreviews.com for more great reviews

Saylor and Benita’s friend, Gwen Applebee, has committed suicide; or so the police think. Saylor, otherwise known as Dr. Oz, Sex Therapist, thinks Gwen was murdered. Reading Gwen’s supposed ‘suicide note’ leaves Saylor convinced that the letter is really a secret message intended for her and Benita to figure out and hopefully lead them to uncover her secret; a secret worth being murdered over.
Gwen was an extremely intelligent woman. She was working on deciphering an ancient tablet to get the exact ingredients to create a perfume that acts as an aphrodisiac to men. Realizing the power of this, Gwen kept the ingredients of her findings a secret. The same people who are claiming to have killed Gwen are now coming after Saylor, giving her seven days to find the ancient tablet. The pressure is on for her to give them what they want or she and her family will be in grave danger.
Saylor and Benita go on a wild goose chase to try and understand what it is that Gwen was trying to tell them in her note. When they find themselves threatened by her killers to not go to the cops they realize just how alone in all of this they really are. They both find themselves leaning on family and current crushes for help and support. They soon realize just how dangerous this perfume really is if given to the wrong
This story was amazingly entertaining. On top of this hair raising search for the truth, Allyson Roy also throws in a sizzling romance between Saylor and a boxer that she meets. Instead of focusing on just the murder/mystery plot, she allows her readers to enter into Saylor and Benita’s everyday lives. We experience the seminars and therapy sessions Saylor and her aunt hold, Benita’s ex-husband fighting to win her back, their flirtatious attitudes, and some romantic scenes with her newest romantic crush that will leave you breathless.
What I particularly liked about the way Allyson Roy wrote this story was the way she was able to gauge her detail. I felt that she gave just enough to keep us following along and visualizing all of the events, but did not go over board to cause the reader any boredom. I think this is a vital piece in a book that can make or break the story. Allyson Roy has really perfected this!
Allyson Roy has done a wonderful job at allowing her readers to connect to her characters. She makes them extremely likeable and relatable. I would recommend this to any hip, modern adult who likes thrilling rides, hot men, and women who know how to hold their own!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

WITCH'S PAWN-TONI LOTEMPIO

I read this book and another book by Toni LoTempio and loved both of them. The other one I read was a romance called "Nom de Plume". I think that she does a consistently wonderful job and is a very talented woman.



Charity Jordan is a woman with quite the past. She is the head writer for a soap opera and going about her life in a normal fashion. When her soap opera takes a gothic twist, she finds herself back in her home town of Bender’s Crook to film. Trying hard to forget her past, Charity is forced to remember the day that her sister died, falling off of a cliff, while Charity lay unconscious.
Using the old Manor House as the place to film their soap opera, Charity and her cast explore the house only to find a big portrait of a woman named Estelle dela Bordeaux, a witch who was burned at the stake 300 years ago. Freaked out that she looks exactly like her, Charity starts to have odd flash backs and to hear voices. She starts to have visions of the night that Estelle was burned alive and the promise for vengeance on all who helped kill her.
As the days wear on, strange things start to happen to Charity and her cast. She feels as though Estelle is trying to take over her soul to complete her vengeance on the descendants of those involved in her death 300 years ago. Slowly but steadily cast members start to disappear and some even show up dead. Who is it that is killing them? Has Estelle really come back after all this time to seek her revenge?
I found this story to be both wonderful and frustrating. I really liked the plot line. I enjoyed the depth of the story and the twists and turns that were involved. I think that Toni LoTempio did a marvelous job at using her creativity to create a wonderful story unlike no other.
What I found a bit frustrating was the fact that I felt unable to get close to any of the characters. At first I would get close to one, thinking they were intended to be one of the main characters, and then they would die. So I would then proceed to get close to another character, thinking maybe they were the underdog and would last throughout the story; then they would die. I kept doing this until I realized there was almost no one left. I think that the story would have had greater impact on its readers if one of the characters could have stuck around so that we could really get to know them; instead new characters kept being introduced. The only character I can think of that stayed the same throughout was the police chief, but he was not a likable character because he doubted everything going on the entire time, so I felt he was not very important.
Other than that one small glitch I got caught up on, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the story and really liking the ending. I think that Toni LoTempio has set it up so that she can continue with this plot line and create at least one other book with it. I would recommend this to any reader who enjoys a good super natural thriller. I would not recommend this to horror story lovers who like the blood and gore because although characters died in very creepy, creative ways, the details of the blood and gore were amiss.


check out more reviews at www.frontstreetreviews.com

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

THE ODYSSEY AND THE IDIOT-KEITH J. PRICE

Hmmm how to describe this book. Well, I will say that the content of this book snuck up on me. I was totally expecting one thing, and got quite another. I honestly thought I wouldn't get much out of this book, but I was wrong. This book was deep man. Really freakin' deep. It totally made me re-think my life, and what I'm living for. It helped open my eyes to the positive things around me. It made me laugh. It made me want to be a better person. All of that in such a short story about a dad and a random road trip with his two kids. I am impressed. Keith J. Price, if you are reading this...you rock man. Mad props to you! :-)

Below is my review. Check out more great reviews at www.frontstreetreviews.com

Before deciding if I wanted to even read this story, I thought to myself a bit skeptically ‘okay, this guy wrote about a road trip with his two kids…cute…but honestly, who cares?! ‘ This story wasn’t going to be a wild fictional tale that kept me on the edge of my seat, but rather a road trip about a family I don’t even know. Hmm….
I decided to take the plunge, (after all, the story is only 120 pages, so it won’t take much time out of my life if I end up not liking it), and boy am I glad I did! This story was not meant for you to become close to his kids or follow along where they went specifically. This was something bigger! Keith J. Price shares with his readers his life; his flaws, his experiences, his reason for living. He teaches us that there is so much good in life and that you can get all that good without even leaving your home. He allows us to experience a road trip that he takes with his two young children while he sorts out parts of his life. This trip helps him to process a bad incident at work, and to remind himself how much he is loved by his family and how lucky he is. He also allows us to take a trip down memory lane and experience certain events taking place in his life that were landmarks for him.
What really kept me turning the pages was Keith J. Prices’ humor and utter honesty. He tells it like it is. He talks about his kids bugging the crap out of him, snobby waiters, his views on god, his hatred of Nazis; all of which was done in a way that kept the reader grinning and letting out an occasional snort of laughter.
I came out of reading this book not feeling like this guy was better than me, or that he is luckier than me. I came out feeling reminded of just how lucky I am and how wonderful my life really is. Keith J. Price has written a terrific book that I would recommend to everyone. There are so many different things to take away with you that you will find in these 120+ pages. This is a book I will refer to again and again!