Book Review: Pole Dancer by Nikki St. John

Pole Dancer by Nikki St. John

A Contemporary Fiction Novel published by Nikki St.John (10/21/14)

Summary:

After Alex is fired as a celebrity publicist, she moves from her hometown of NYC back to her parent’s house in Atlanta. After months of looking for a job, she finally starts working for a high end purse shop in the mall. After discovering pole dancing and a possible new celebrity client, Alex is on her way to a new career and a new self.

Keywords:

Pole Dancing, Reality TV, Rap, Rappers, Rich, Publicist, Celebrity Publicist, Corporate Life, Strip Clubs, Strippers, Professional Pole Dancer, Social Media, Betrayal, Friendship, Family, Communication

My Review:

I wanted to like this story but the typos, lack of editing and at times confusingly written scenes got in the way of my full enjoyment. This fun fiction book would have pulled at least four stars, grammar notwithstanding because the story was so juicy, if not for the abrupt (more than just a cliffhanger) ending. It literally stops mid-scene between two characters.

Pole dancing was throughout the book (after the first part), but it wasn’t the defining characteristic of the main character, which I liked. It wasn’t all about pole dancing, but it was an important part of the plot.

The pole journey of the main character, though she was a cheerleader in her earlier life, was somewhat unrealistic (at least for the majority of people). In a short span of a few weeks, she is able to do intermediate pole moves as a curvier 30-year old. Pole dancing takes quite a bit of time and even if this fast level of learning is possible in real life, it would be an anomaly. The strength to do moves takes time and the main character hadn’t even hit a gym in months when she started pole dancing. By the end she’s doing doubles moves, superman, and intermediate level inversions.

This novel was published by Nikki St.John on October 21st, 2014 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 3.25

Links for more information:

Goodreads
Twitter
Instagram
Facebook
YouTube.com/PoleDanceNation
PoleDanceNation.com

Serenade by Heather McKenzie Blitz

Serenade
Heather McKenzie
(The Nightmusic Trilogy #1)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: April 17th 2017
Genres: Mystery, Romance, Suspense, Young Adult

Kidnapped and held hostage in the Rockies, a teenage heiress falls for her abductor while her corrupt father and devoted bodyguard fight to get her back. The discovery of true love and dark family secrets turns deadly in this epic coming of age adventure.

Kaya Lowen dreams of living like a normal eighteen-year old, but being heiress to a billion-dollar company has put her life in constant danger. Fiercely guarded by her powerful and corrupt father, she develops close bonds with those who protect her, especially Oliver – a bodyguard who has proven his devotion to her time and again. He wins her heart – until a chance encounter with a mysterious stranger has her questioning everything she believes in. Haunted by true love and reeling from a guilty conscience, Kaya’s world unravels when she’s kidnapped.

Held captive in a rugged wilderness fraught with raging storms, mystical caves and deadly predators, Kaya’s father scours the forest and her bodyguard fights to get her back. But, the discovery of a dark family secret makes Kaya wonder if staying in the arms of her blue-eyed abductor—a captivating stranger with dark secrets of his own – is a safer place to be. At least, that’s what her heart is telling her, her head is saying run…

An epic adventure centered on a smoldering love-triangle, Serenade sings a timeless tale of courage, self-discovery, and life-or-death love that will leave you breathless.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

EXCERPT:

This was it, now or never.

I gathered every single ounce of energy I had and steadied my mind to ignore the pain in my foot and the dizziness in my head. Then, with everything I had, I turned and bolted toward the dense forest. The darkness instantly enveloped me. I could see well enough not to run into tree trunks, but branches caught me at every turn. My head felt as if it was spinning like a top, but I forced my legs to keep going. I could hear the men’s voices yelling at each other in an organized manner.

I tripped and found myself on all fours. Get up, girl. There’s nothing wrong with you—get up…

I made it a few more steps before my head connected with a blue spruce, and then I collapsed in a pathetic heap. My arms were so wobbly I could barely wipe at the gash across my forehead. My body was completely failing me. I prayed to God that the dog would just snap my neck and get it over with quickly…

Human footsteps approached. I gulped in some air and tried to push myself up, but the world tipped on its side and I fell with it. Within moments, large hands had my wrists pinned to the ground. I struggled and fought with everything I had left, which wasn’t much.

“Stop fighting,” he said.

His voice created such confusion inside me. I kicked harder.

“Stop… please,” he begged.

His body pinned mine to the ground. I could feel tears welling up in my eyes.

“Please, Kaya, trust me. I won’t let anyone hurt you, I promise.” He leaned forward and pressed his sleeve to my bleeding forehead, dabbing and inspecting it closely while I had no choice but to gaze up him. How could this beautiful man be a kidnapper? It just didn’t fit.

“It’s just a scratch; no stitches required,” he said, voice trailing off as his eyes met mine.

We stayed like that for a while: me on the ground, him kneeling over me, and our line of sight only on each other—until an unmistakable sound broke through the tree tops.

“They’ll find me,” I said softly, wondering if Oliver was in the helicopter circling over our heads.

He positioned his arms under my body, and, in one graceful motion, he picked me up and into his arms. “Just don’t run. Promise me that, please. I’ll keep you safe. You have my word. Okay?”

He held me tightly—protectively—waiting eagerly for my reply with turmoil in his blue eyes. My whole body hurt, and admittedly, I couldn’t have walked another inch. The wolves or that beast would have got to me long before Oliver would have. I was at my kidnapper’s mercy, laying helplessly in his arms and falling harder for him by the second.

“I promise,” I said.

 

Author Bio:

Heather McKenzie is a Canadian author and Serenade is her first novel. A professional singer/songwriter with five albums to date, she has been telling stories through music for years and pulls from her extraordinary experiences as a musician to fuel her passion for creating Young Adult fiction. A rocker at heart, a mom of three, an aspiring painter, and a lover of animals, she is kept grounded by her husband at their home in Edmonton.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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Book Review: Jump When Ready by David Pandolfe

Jump When Ready by David Pandolfe

A Young Adult Speculative Fiction Novel published by Amazon Digital Services LLC (01/09/14)

Summary:

Henry didn’t mean to die. The afterlife is not how he imagined. He can still see the real world, but he can’t interact with anyone alive. Placed with a group of afterlifers, Henry must let go of life in order to move on. Henry might have been able to let go of his past life if he didn’t witness his sister getting kidnapped!

Keywords:

Death, Teenagers, Suicide, Kidnapping, Chase, Punks, Friendship, Family, Letting Go, Moving On, Rescue, Accident, Coming of Age

My Review:

This book was a bit boring in the beginning until Henry’s sister is kidnapped. The action involved in the kidnapping sparks Henry’s storyline as he was floundering in the beginning. The afterlife Henry is part of is a Between Lives state and therefore between any real action and it’s not until his goal is revealed (save his sister!) that his own story becomes exciting.

I enjoyed how Pandolfe described death. Given many names: afterlife, between, death, etc, this state of being and place was interesting and well-described. This semi-fantasy aspect of world building was intricate and with a set of rules that were fascinating to read about.

If this book had started closer to the kidnapping, it would have been a much more exciting, engaging, and higher-rated novel but as it is (if you don’t mind the slow and lengthy buildup), it was a fun and easy read.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services LLC on January 9th, 2014 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 3.50

Links for more information:

David Pandolfe’s Website

Goodreads

Twitter

Book Review: The Ashes and the Sparks by Mary Victoria Johnson

The Ashes and the Sparks by Mary Victoria Johnson

A Young Adult Fantasy Novel published by Fire and Ice for Young Adults (10/18/16)

Summary:

“You can hide things as well as you want, but they’ll never go away. Not entirely.” (Kindle Locations 1209-1210).

Jorun spends her nights prowling around underground with a group of other teenagers. They run through a series of tunnels under their isolated island village, pretending to be monsters to scare their family and friends. One day, a boy from a neighboring island makes his way into their secret tunnels with stories of real monsters – invaders in airships. At first nobody believes him, but after the sky is darkened by flying ships, they will have to believe him and do something about the invasion.

Keywords:

Steampunk, Isolation, Small Village, Friendship, Family, Adventure, Danger, War, Technology, Weapons, Fighting, Civilization, Parallel Reality, Tension

My Review:

I have never before read a book where part one and part two worked so well together even though they were very different from each other. The first part of the novel was about a new civilization that had its own customs and traditions. The main character, Jorun, felt different and didn’t quite fit into her society’s customs. This story was interesting, especially with the secret tunnels and the mythology the people told their children. I was intrigued. It was hard to like Jorun at first though, since she spent her nights scaring little kids. She wanted to impress the other tunnelers and didn’t really try to change anything about her role in the village or rebel against the tunnelers when she didn’t agree with what they were doing.

Part two really brought the story and Jorun to life. She became a stronger person and didn’t just follow the traditions of her village or the footsteps of the other teenagers. She became alive and defiant and a true strong main character.

The dynamics of the parallel universe of Europe were fascinating without feeling politically cumbersome. The plot twists totally threw me and completely made sense! Part one dragged a bit, but part two was excellently paced and the climax was very exciting.

It was nice to read a standalone fantasy/steampunk with a good and satisfying ending. I look forward to seeing what Johnson comes up with next.

This novel was published by Fire and Ice for Young Adults on October 18th, 2016 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.75

Links for more information:

Mary Victoria Johnson’s Website

Goodreads

Twitter

All About the Donuts: Local Donut Shop Review – Dough Donuts in NYC

Dough Donuts

New York, New York

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230 Park Avenue (at 45th St) New York, NY 10169
646-747-0806

doughdonuts.com

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What I tried:

passionfruit and horchata blood orange (the daily special)

~$6.50.

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What to expect:

More than just fun looking and fun flavored donuts, this is a space you can chill (which apparently in NYC is difficult to find).

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My favorite:

The view. These donuts were not worth the calories, but the glazes were worth a lick.

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Book Review: Feyland: The Twilight Kingdom (Feyland Trilogy Book 3) by Anthea Sharp

The Twilight Kingdom (Feyland Trilogy Book 3) by Anthea Sharp

A Science Fiction/Fantasy Novel published by Anthea Sharp (12/15/12)

Summary:

Feyland is ready for release, just as soon as beta testing concludes. Jennet, her dad, Tam, Roy, and several others have been chosen for the team. With an excuse to be in-game, it should be easy for Jennet to prove that Feyland is dangerous, but at first glance the game appears… normal. Still, it doesn’t take long for Jennet and Tam to get sucked back into the real Feyland. The realm of faerie still wants nothing more than to break free into the regular world.

Keywords:

Fae, Video Game, Worlds Collide, Evil, Gaming, Class Distinctions, Tech, Gamers, Friendship, Prototype, Mischievous Characters, Danger

My Review:

This book and this series will make anyone want to be a gamer! The excitement and camaraderie of playing an epic fantasy adventure seem very appealing. Though I am not a gamer, I really enjoyed the up close view of Jennet and Tam playing through Feyland.

As someone who doesn’t like to read epic fantasy, I thought this series was an excellent bridge between fantasy, contemporary and dystopian literature. It was fascinating enough to keep me interested in the gaming/fantasy sequences and the details in the world building were well-done.

I was glad that the relationship between Jennet and her father was resolved in this final book and that the relationship between Jennet and Tam was pushed and explored more. Roy also developed quite a bit between where we first see him and at the end of the series.

Overall a great and exciting book and series to read!

This novel was published by Anthea Sharp on December 15th, 2012 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

Anthea Sharp’s Website

Goodreads

Twitter

Superior Donuts Valley Center Stage, North Bend

After a visit to Georgia’s Bakery – where I snacked on the delicious cronut – I went upstairs to the Village Theatre to see the Superior Donuts production!

My last experience with community theater wasn’t that great, so I didn’t have high expectations going in, however, just seeing the set I could tell that this show was going to be good. Care and detail had been put into the set. The walls of the donut ‘shop’ were made to look old and outdated. They even had a fake view to the outside with an open sign and everything!

 

If you get a chance, I would highly recommend this play!

Full of laughs and catch you by surprise contemporary phrasing (aka adult language), Superior Donuts was highly entertaining. The play itself contained great dialogue and character interaction and while some scenes were a bit unusual, the play as a whole was very well written. The Valley Center Stage was a delightful little theater. No seat was a bad seat and the actors’ voices carried all the way to the back. The actors themselves carried the play from delightful to amazing. Their delivery and timing were impeccable. They even ate donuts and drank coffee during the scenes! My favorite parts of the play were the fast quips making fun of everything from Starbucks to donuts to the way the main character, Arthur, dresses. Grab yourself a donut from the concession stand (courtesy of Georgia’s) and settle in for a night (or afternoon) of laughs and entertainment with this comedy drama.

Description from the websiteSuperior Donuts takes place in the historic Uptown neighborhood of Chicago, one of Chicago’s most racially diverse communities. Arthur Przybyszewski, a despondent, aging 1960s radical owns a run-down, dated donut shop that has been in his family for sixty years. New employee Franco Wicks, a young, enthusiastic black man, inspires to infuse new energy into the shop while Arthur remains detached from investing in his business and life. Arthur grapples with his past while Franco, trying to find footing in his own life, has his own serious challenges.  This provocative comedy drama explores the challenges of embracing the past while celebrating the redemptive power of friendship.

 

Happy April Fools! Rachel Accomplishes Her Life Goal of 50 Push Ups

Happy April Fools!

I decided not to eat 50 donuts, but to film myself attempting to do 50 push-ups! More or less I’ve accomplished this goal! I will also be releasing Nichole’s Book of Practical Things later today as a print book and the latest accompaniment book in the For the Love of Donuts Series.

Here is Nichole’s Book! 

Book Review: Feyland: The Bright Court (Feyland Trilogy Book 2) by Anthea Sharp

Feyland: The Bright Court (Feyland Trilogy Book 2) by Anthea Sharp

A Science Fiction/Fantasy Novel published by Anthea Sharp (05/21/12)

Summary:

Jennet barely escaped the clutches of the evil Dark Queen of Feyland, with the help of Tam Linn in the Dark Court, but the game is still set to release. The land of faeries is still attempting to step through the boundary of Feyland to wreak havoc on our world. Roy, the son of the CEO of the game company provides another complication as he appears to glamor all those around him, except Jennet and Tam. Not only do they have to figure out a way to stop Feyland’s release, they now have to figure out a way to stop Roy and his illusions.

Keywords:

Fae, Video Game, Worlds Collide, Evil, Gaming, Class Distinctions, Tech, Gamers, Friendship, Prototype, Mischievous Characters, Danger

My Review:

I started reading this second book in the series as soon as I put down book one and it took very little time to get back into the magical realm of Feyland and the world and lives of Jennet and Tam.

I was excited to see more of Marnie as she gets more time and importance as a friend in this second book. Of course, the growing friendship and budding romance between Tam and Jennet is also quite exhilarating to watch. I absolutely love slow to develop romances, especially ones based on more than just attraction.

One of the greatest little details about this book (and series) is the fact that I see gender equality. The book isn’t all about the greatest female who must take upon herself the mantle of saving the world (almost every dystopian book ever). Feyland is more than just a female main character. Tam has as much action time and importance as Jennet. Then there is the fact that the CEO of the gaming company is a woman and the most famous celebrity simmer is female. Huzzah! Finally those in power and those in charge are not just male! And their genders didn’t even matter!

I loved this second book and the ending was perfect. I can’t wait to read the final book in this series.

This novel was published by Anthea Sharp on May 21st, 2012 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

Anthea Sharp’s Website

Goodreads

Twitter

Book Review: The Dark Realm (Feyland #1) by Anthea Sharp

feyland

The Dark Realm (Feyland #1) by Anthea Sharp

A Science Fiction/Fantasy Novel published by Fiddlehead Press (12/11/13)

Summary:

“Sometimes we don’t really have as much control over things as we think. We’re in this together now.” (Kindle Location 1991).

Jennet went against her father’s wishes when she played the in-development immersive sim game Feyland. When she lost the boss level, the Dark Queen boss took Jennet’s life force. To regain what she lost, Jennet must find a champion in real life who will play the game with her. She finds Tam Linn, but it takes everything she’s got just to convince him to trust her. There is more at stake than Jennet realizes and the game is becoming more and more real.

Keywords:

Fae, Video Game, Worlds Collide, Evil, Gaming, Class Distinctions, Tech, Gamers, Friendship, Prototype, Mischievous Characters, Danger

My Review:

Sharp does a fantastic job balancing the amount of prose set in Feyland and the amount of prose set in the real world. Both realms were alive in their own way. There were so many fun details about the sim tech and the differences between the classes in the real world and such great description of playing Feyland.

The premise felt a bit rushed in the beginning and the first chapter was a slog, but after that I was sucked right into the plot. I couldn’t put the book down after that.
The characters each were independent, but they had to work together to survive and succeed. There were moments of damsel-in-distress (the whole premise is she needs a knight to save her), but Jennet holds her own again and again and proves her worthiness as a strong female main character.

This novel was published by Fiddlehead Press on December 11th, 2013 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

Anthea Sharp’s Website

Goodreads

Twitter