Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Blood Ties by Gina Whitney

Genre: Fiction

Pages: Paper

Publisher: Arbor Books

Reviewer: Virginia Armstrong


The Valois’ and the Bolingbroke’s, at war for eons, have been in a watchful lull the past twenty-one years, waiting for the awakening to occur.

Unaware of her family history, Grace Valois is going through a time of change and it’s beginning to worry her.  Never one to fit into any crowd, she has never felt normal.  At least, not the normal she perceived in others.  But this?  This was too much.  First, it was the nightmares.  Then, the hallucinations started.  Now, her body seemed to be changing in very strange ways.

After a vicious attack on campus, one that she just happened to dream about, her life goes into a tailspin as secrets from her family’s past begin to unfold.  Not only is her best friend, Julie, a shape shifter, Grace herself is a witch. And not just any witch, mind you.  She is the witch that must save the world from the Bolingbrokes and the evil plan they have hatched.

Gathering with her clan to prepare for the long awaited battle, Grace meets James, who has sworn upon her birth to protect her with his life.  Upon meeting him, her feelings are swift and immediate and she just knows she has found her soul mate. There’s just one problem. James is a Bolingbroke. Now, as she prepares to engage in the battle of her life, she must decide if she can trust him with not only with her heart, but with her life and the lives of everyone else.

Blood Ties was by far the best book I’ve read this summer.  Gina Whitney grabs her readers attention with her on-target descriptions of characters and locations, putting you right there on the scene.  The writing style, character portrayal and interesting dialogue kept me coming back for more.  I say pick up a copy today!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

America Libre by Raul Ramos Y Sanchez

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing  

Pages:  Paperback

Reviewer:  Virginia Armstrong


During a drug bust, a young Latina bystander is fatally shot, spawning nightly raids by the Hispanic community in San Antonio.  The Governor of Texas vows looters will be shot on sight to deter the violence that is escalating.  Retaliating, Octavio Perez a radical community leader, calls to arms the Mexican-American people to react to this injustice.

National Guard Lieutenant Cole and his detachment are dispatched to control the rioting and looting.  The swarming mob fires first, leaving the National Guardsmen to go on the defensive, striking down twenty-three Latinos involved in the rebellion. In Los Angeles, Manolo Suarez wakes us to rioting that has crept into his own neighborhood.  Taking a job as a Security Director for the La Defensa del Pueblo, he decides to take on the United States Military with the help of local Latino gang members. The clash between Latino Americans and the US Government begins.

In AmericaLibre, the author tells the story of the growing immigration crisis and what could possibly take place if it isn’t dealt with.  His portrayal of characters is unbalanced and bias, and as for the writing itself, it was done well enough if you separate all the stereotyping that takes place.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett/Stephen Baxter

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: Paper



Can you imagine a world where all it takes to end hunger and poverty are just a step away-a step to an infinite number of Earths just like our own. Mankind is forever changed when the plans for a simple prototype are leaked online and the results are anything but ordinary. It is evolutionary.

While the world eagerly explores the infinite number of possibilities with this new technology, Joshua Valiente, a natural stepper, embarks on journey to find out if there is a beginning or an end to The Long Earth.

The Long Earth is a brilliantly written collaborative effort by author Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter that explores a different take on the human condition to dominate and the myths surrounding trolls, elves and the collective consciousness.The Long Earth is a must read for all you science fiction and fantasy fans around the world. Who knows, reading this book might convince you that a different tomorrow just takes that first step. The Jag Review is looking forward to future books to this series.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Someone Always Loved You by Brooke Williams

Genre: Fiction
Pages: Paper
Reviewer: Virginia Armstrong
For Jordan James, it all began with the phone call.  It was from the hospital.  She needed to get there A.S.A.P.  Her husband, whom she loved dearly, had suffered a heart attack.   It was imperative that she get there before it was too late.  She had to tell him…
For Jay, it began on his first day on the job as an EMT.  He had been driving the ambulance.  Saving lives, he’d thought proudly as he glanced over his shoulder at the patient.  Just a mere few seconds had passed in that glance.  And in that brief frame of time, a tragedy occurred, impacting his life far greater than he ever could have imagined.
By the time he turned back, it was already too late.  Ambulance collided with pedestrian and Jay could do nothing to prevent it.  From that point on, Jay and Jordan would never be the same again.  As Jordan lay in a coma, Jay stays at her side, agonizing over his guilt and unable to carry on with his life.   Both reflect on their past lives, the good and the bad.  What was and what should have been. It isn’t until Jordan finally wakes from her coma that all the pieces of their lives come together and they find where they truly belong.
Someone Always Loved You is a poignant story of a mother and son separated by adoption only to be reunited after a life-threatening tragedy. The story speaks of sadness, joy, hope and forgiveness as they each search for that missing piece within each of them. The story was well written.  A few times, the author switched points of view which I found frustrating. As for the characters, I found them to be a little too perfect, but likable. All in all, I thought the storyline was touching and worth the read.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Joyland by Stephen King

Genre: Fiction

Pages: Paper Back

Publisher:  Titan Books

Reviewer: Virginia Armstrong

Rating: 7 JAG

To keep his mind off his broken heart and his first lost love, Devin Jones takes a job at Joyland, an amusement park in North Carolina.  There, he meets Madame Fortuna, who eerily predicts his future.  Uncertain if she is for real or not, he ponders her words until, one by one, her predictions prove true.

Looking out for the one with the “sight”, he becomes obsessed with the ghost of Linda Gray, who was said to haunt the Horror House at Joyland.  With the help of friends, Erin and Tom, he begins piecing together the woman’s murder.   Exploring the Horror House, Tom witnesses something that he refuses to speak about.  Something that leaves him forever changed.
As summer rolls to an end, Devin decides to stay on at Joyland.  Its then that he meets ten-year old Mike Ross and his mom, Annie.  As a friendship begins to forge between the three, Devin starts piecing together the murder of Linda Gray.  As he gets closer to solving the puzzle, danger lurks nearby, forcing him to make a frightful decision.  Does he surrender his life?   Or does he sacrifice another’s?
Joyland is a coming-of-age murder mystery filled with youthful notions and innocence.  Not your typical Stephen King novel, yet the characters are engaging just the same.  As the story jumps from a twenty-one year old to the same person forty years later, it’s easy to visualize Devin Jones at both stages of his life.   The story is of friendships made and lost, of life, death and the beyond.  As usual, King’s characters have a way of becoming real, the emotions now shared between the writer and the reader.