Friday, May 4, 2012

Rogue Powers by Phil Stern book review

Book Review of Rogue Powers by Phil Stern

Book Synopsis:

Rogue Powers -In a faraway world, two young lovers must hide their deepest abilities from everyone around them, while fighting to remain together in a society determined to pull them apart.

Within the Kingdom, the royal family can legally display any paranormal talents they choose. However, commoners revealing even the slightest of powers face arrest and execution.

Anson is one of the few surviving telepaths living in secrecy among the population. However, an unusually powerful, rebellious young princess finds herself irresistibly drawn to the commoner youth. Defying all convention, Anson and Lydia quickly form a close, illicit bond.

Managing to remain one step ahead of the King’s empowered operatives, Anson and Lydia make plans to escape the Kingdom entirely. But once the monarch announces Lydia is to marry another royal telepath against her will, Anson and Lydia must immediately battle for their own future, reshaping their entire society in the process.

Author Information:

Phil Stern is the author of both Contemporary and Science Fiction.
His debut novel, The Bull Years, was published in 2011. A hard-hitting commentary on both the frustrations and ultimate validation of modern-day life, The Bull Years follows the lives of four people throughout the late 80′s, 90′s, and into the 21st century, directly addressing the gradual alienation and disconnection often experienced during young adulthood.
I wanted to write about characters everyone could relate to,” Stern says. “We’ve all had our ups and downs. I think people sometimes feel everyone else has experienced more success than they have, or are more firmly grounded in our world than they could ever be. My hope is that everyone will recognize a little part of themselves in Steve, Sophia, Dave, and Brooke.”
Born in 1970 in Ossining, New York, Stern grew up with a love of all types of science fiction, including the works of Robert Heinlein, Anne McCaffrey, John Wyndham, Piers Anthony, and more.
Speculative fiction is so different today than it was back then,” Stern says. “I wanted to write stuff a bit more recognizable to fans of my generation. Science fiction should be about ideas and alternate worlds, strong characters and good stories.
Going into talk radio after attending SUNY Albany, Stern hosted regular shows in the New York City area, Albany, Utica, NY, and Greenville, NC. He later went into the advertising and sales industries.
Stern now lives in Florida, and is working on his next novel.

Contact Information:  Email –
Website –

Book Review:

Rogue Powers was an interesting read.  It was not quite what I expected, yet it was an intriguing read.  I was fascinated with the idea of only some people having the abilities.  I think this would lead to a situation of “power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely” kind of idea.   Indeed this does seem to be the case, except that the main characters are of strong moral fiber.

This is a science fiction, fantasy, romance novel.  Phil Stern found a way to make the world he writes about come alive in my mind.  I was able to see the people and places he talks about.  I enjoyed this book, not as much as Witches, but still enjoyed it.  It reminded me somewhat of the Eragon book series in setting and tone.  I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the Eragon series.
I give this book 4 out of 5 clouds.

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.

Night Walker ~ Book one of The Night Series

Book Review of Night Walker by Lisa Kessler

Book Synopsis:

     Book One by Lisa Kessler

Title: Night Walker
Author: Lisa Kessler
Genre: Paranormal Romance

Book Description:
He gave up his soul for a second chance to love her…

Two and a half centuries ago, Calisto Terana lost everything when a zealous priest murdered the woman he loved. Now, desperate for another chance to love her, he wants redemption for the mistake that cost her life.

She’s haunted by dreams of her own death…

After catching her fiance with another woman, Kate Bradley returns to San Diego to clear her head. The last thing she needs is romance, but after meeting Calisto she’s drawn to him in ways she doesn’t understand.

They’ve waited in the shadows for centuries…

Calisto has no doubt Kate is the reincarnation of his lost love, but the Fraternidad Del Fuego Santo has a new watcher with dark ambitions of his own. As old enemies reemerge and a new threat arises, the betrayal that enslaved Calisto to the night might destroy the only woman he’s ever loved again.

Author Information:
Lisa Kessler is an avid reader and writer of dark fiction. Her short stories have been published in print anthologies and magazines, and her vampire story, Immortal Beloved, was a finalist for a Bram Stoker award.
Lisa recently signed a 4 book deal with Entangled Publishing to release her Night Series.  The first book, Night Walker, is scheduled to be released August 5th.
When she's not writing, Lisa is a professional vocalist, performing with the San Diego Opera as well as other musical theater companies in San Diego. You can learn more at
 Lisa lives in southern California with her incredibly fun husband and two amazing kids.

Book Review:

I was a bit worried about reading “another vampire” book, but I am so glad I read this one.  Not only does Lisa Kessler have a bright fresh voice, she has a unique take on the origin and value of vampires or night walkers.  I was impressed with the fresh take on how ‘night walkers’ were created and for what purpose.

The view of a “monster” with a conscience was unique and not one that you hear of often.  I loved the chemistry between Calisto and Kate.  I loved that Kate didn’t fall at Calisto’s feet immediately but expressed a normal, rational distrust of her feelings based on her current life experiences.  The sexual tension was fabulous and the resolution unexpected and tender.

Some scenes were definitely inappropriate for younger readers.  There is physical violence, sexual violence, and sexual situations in the book that would inappropriate for readers not mature and old enough to handle it.  However, the violence is part of what drives the main characters and what created the situation leading to the Night Walker in the first place.  It is not dwelled on, nor is it handled immaturely.  However, use good judgment in the appropriate age and maturity level of readers.

I give this book 4 out of 5 clouds.  My only real complaint is that the next book isn’t out yet and I’m dying to know what happens next.

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Wings of Hope review and giveaway

Book Review of Wings of Hope by Hillary Peak
Be sure to enter the giveaway below!!
Title: Wings of Hope
Genre – Literary Fiction
Publisher – Create Space
Release Date – December 2011
Purchase Link:
Link to Tour on Main Site -
Book Synopsis:

The letter said he was dying, that’s all Jules Weinstein knows when she leaves her life in San Francisco and moves to New York City to be with her father. She goes for the remarkable opportunity to really know her father. She never dreamed he had liberated a concentration camp, dealt cards to Bugsy Siegel or saved the life of a Black Panther. Wings of Hope is a road trip through the memories of a man making peace with his life. Little does she know that by getting to know her father, she will find herself. While her father struggles with whether his life was meaningful, Jules discovers that her father’s last gift to her is the ability to reach for her dreams. Her journey teacher her that “the goodbye” is sometimes the most heartbreakingly beautiful part of life.

Author Information:

Hillary Peak is a recovering idealist. She became a lawyer to change the world and is still somewhat shocked that didn't occur. Now, her goal is to retire from practicing law and write novels that people love. She is currently a practicing attorney in the District of Columbia. She lives with her family in Alexandria, VA.
Book Excerpt:

Excerpts :
Excerpt 1: As we sat at the table sipping coffee, I ventured my first question, “Dad, what were your parents like? You haven’t told me much about them, except that your mother had more brains in her pinkie than you’ve ever had.” I worried I wouldn’t have time to find out all I wanted to know.
He looked up, surprised. “Haven’t I told you about them?”

I shook my head. “But I’d really like to know more about them--especially what they were like.”

A smile spread across his face, “Really? I can’t believe that. My mother would have loved you--eaten you with a spoon. Remember when I took you to Fiddler on the Roof?”
I nodded, not wanting to break the spell by speaking.

I nodded again. That had horrified me, I couldn’t imagine not falling in love, courting, all that comes with the fun of meeting someone special, dressing up to go out, etc. The coffee mug warmed my hands, as I listened enraptured.

“Well, my parents were married like that.”

Rather than actually seeing it, I felt my jaw hit the floor. “You’re kidding!” I exclaimed without thinking.

“Nope.” He shook his head, watching me with amusement.“They’d never even seen one another. Married in a little village in Poland called Tarnapole. It is gone now--burned to the ground by the Nazis, I think.” His eyes misted over, but continued anyway. “My mother got pregnant with your Aunt Rebecca almost immediately. My dad was a barrel maker--and a fine woodworker. He made furniture for people as well. Six months after Rebecca was born, my mother got pregnant again--with Aunt Rachel. The pogroms went on at that time, and getting worse every day from what I gathered from my parents. Money and food were running out. It was quite desperate. My father decided to come to America, make some money with my mother’s brother who already lived here in New York, then send for my mother and the two girls. He left taking nearly two months to get to New York. It was barely three weeks after he stepped onto Ellis Island when World War One started. My mother and your aunts were trapped for the next three years. For a while, my dad could get in touch with them. He sent money, but after about a year, the lines were totally cut off. He didn’t know where they were, if they were even alive. As far as I know, he kept working, saving money. My mother on the other hand, was starving. The pogroms were continuing. The Cossacks were riding through villages, raping women and running everything that moved through with a sword.” He licked his lips, concentrating, clearly thinking about what it must have been like for his mother. My hair stood on end.

“One day, my mother was in the town rather than at their farm when the Cossacks came riding in. One grabbed my mother around the waist and lifted her onto the horse while he was moving. He intended to rape her in the saddle and kill her. She grabbed his pistol from out of the holster around his waist. She shot him dead as they rode.”

My mouth was open and my eyes were far bigger than saucers. My dad laughed at my expression. “I know. Totally amazing--she was an amazing woman. She never told me that story. Her brother told me after she died. I remember saying to him, ‘My Mother?’ I couldn’t believe it.”

“What happened?” I asked mesmerized. “How did she get away with it?”.

He nodded solemnly. “I asked the same question. She rode back to the farm. Her brothers buried the body. They slaughtered the horse and ate the meat—they couldn’t keep it, even though it would have been great for the farm, because it would have aroused suspicion and questions--but it was no longer safe for her or your aunts. People had seen it happen. They knew it wasn’t long before someone turned her in for a loaf of bread.” He bit the inside of his cheek, just a bit; frightened for them even though he knew it turned out alright.
“So she took what she could carry, along with my sisters and started walking to America.”

“Walking? Are you serious?” I literally could not imagine walking thousands of miles.

“Yep. She and my sisters hid in the woods during the day and walked at night for months. Eventually, she joined a refugee line.”

“How long did it take?” I couldn’t imagine. The fear I felt hearing about it was palpable--what must it have been like to go through something like that?

“Two years.”

Book Review:

This story really resonated with me.  I connected with Jules from page one and laughed and cried along with her during the story.  I am coming to the age where the roles between parent and child are beginning to reverse.  I have already seen a little bit of it with helping my parents with their computers and cell phones, but I know the day is coming when it will be me taking care of them rather than them taking care of me.  It is hard for me to imagine my fiercely independent parents as needing to be taken care of, but they are getting older and that day will come sooner than I want.

The only thing that seemed out of place to me was her immediate physical and intense emotional connection with Jacques.  It just seemed out of character.  Otherwise a great read.

My favorite part was the quotes that started each chapter.  My favorite is below

the day when God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words, Wait and hope. ~Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo (1845), Chapter 117
I am glad to give this book 4 out of 5 clouds.
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50 Ways to Live Life Consciously ~ Not my cup of tea

Book Review of 50 Ways to Live Life Consciously by Christine Agro

Publisher: Haldi Press
Release Date: Mar 3, 2012 (Kindle), Paperback March 30, 2012
Genre Non-Fiction Spiritual / Self Help  
Book Synopsis:

Does life seem complicated? Are you always trying to get to the next ‘something’? Are your relationships confusing and overwhelming? Christine Agro, Clairvoyant and Metaphysical Expert, shares her unique insight that will help you create a graceful, ease and flowing life. Christine’s information is so simple yet so powerful that you may actually feel yourself shifting as you read. With insight into the how, why and what-for of life, Christine helps you get off the mental and emotional wheels and helps you get your ego in check creating a natural balance with the one aspect of yourself that really does have all the answers, your Spirit. 50 Ways to Live Life Consciously is a treasure box that answers the question “why are we here” and offers 8 tools and 42 concepts to help you make the shift into conscious living.

In 50 Ways To Live Life Consciously, Metaphysical Expert Christine Agro offers the simplest, yet most life-changing answer to the question “Why Are We Here?”

Book Excerpt:

When we live unconsciously our life drives us. We find ourselves in places and experiencing things without knowing how or why we got to where we are. Instead of consciously choosing the how, the why and in what we experience life, it is our life that pulls us along. With conscious living we recognize that our life experiences hold the keys to what our life lessons are all about. With that we can make conscious choices about how our own life unfolds and each choice leads us further down our path of Spiritual evolution.

Our Spiritual evolution is why we are here in the first place: to learn, heal and grow as Spiritual beings. We have been taught that we are merely our physical bodies, that we are merely human beings and that our lives are all about what we do. But there is so much more to who we are and who we can be and so much more to living our lives.

Author Information:

Christine Agro is an internationally recognized Clairvoyant, Inspirational Teacher, Metaphysical Expert and author of 50 Ways To Live Life Consciously. (Haldi Press March 2012)

Using her unique approach that combines her clairvoyance and her degree in Naturopathy, Christine offers a truly holistic overview of health, wellness, well-being and our Spiritual journey. Praised by grateful women, parents, and celebrity clients across the globe for her intuitive and extraordinary gifts as a healer, she has been hailed as “magical”, “transformational” and “inspiring.”

Christine has been featured in The New York Times, and dubbed 'a gift to moms' by Real Savvy Moms an award winning website for the former PBS syndicated TV show. She has been interviewed on radio shows around the world, quoted in health and consumer magazines and e-zines nationwide. She has written for Gaiam Life, and contributed to Messages From Spirit by Colette Baron-Reid (Hay House 2008). 

Christine is the author of 50 Ways to Live Life Consciously, creator of the Conscious Living Wisdom Cards and the founder and leader of the membership site The Conscious Living Guide ( Through The Conscious Living Guide Christine provides a place for like-minded people to connect and offers on-going support to those wishing to live life consciously. Members can participate in weekly meditations, mini-audio courses and a monthly on-line Q&A session. 

Book Review:

Let me start by saying that this is not my typical type of book to review, however I do have some background which enables me to provide some specific insights into this book.  First:  I have a Master’s Degree in Social Work and have spent most of my adult like working in the social services field.  Before I went into social services I was the person that people told their problems to… even total strangers told me their problems.  Second:  I have been in counseling myself and currently suffer from fibromyalgia and Rheumatoid Arthritis brought on by depression from work stress.   And lastly, I have been an English teacher and hold a credential to teach English (for evaluating the strength of the writing itself).

I will also share two caveats that may color my review, and did color my view of the book.  I am a born again Christian and hold to the ideals found in the Bible and I was a pre-medical student during my undergraduate studies.

Now you are asking why in the world I would tell you these thing?  Well, I found this a difficult book to review for the reasons listed above.  I like the concept of conscious living, making a choice to live in a certain way, to not blame the past or circumstances for your life and to make the decision to make your life better.  But on the other hand, I totally disagree with the basic tenets that the author bases the book on, including magic, clairvoyance, and reincarnation.

I have tried meditation, which is where much of the self-help in this book stems, and not found it beneficial.  However, on the other hand, I’m sure that many people do greatly benefit from meditation.

I think that there are good ideas that can be pulled from this book by anyone, of any background that can be used to improve your mental view of yourself.  On the other hand, it requires wading through a dry, almost clinically toned book for these few gems.

I feel like Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof, torn between two choices, and like Tevye I have to conclude that “no, No!  There is no other hand.”  While this book had a few gems, the overall tone was dry and impersonal.  My belief system was denied, and I felt I was told that all my problems would go away if I would just “think they were going away.”  This is not a book I would choose in a bookstore for help in living a more “conscious life.”   I felt like I had to buy more of her products and pay for one on one service to gain any insight or improvement.

Again, keep in mind what I mentioned in the first two paragraphs, but I truly did try to give this book the benefit of the doubt.  There was just too much stacked against it in my mind.  I gave this book 2 out of 5 clouds for the few gems I gleaned.

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Dancing Naked in Dixie review and excerpt

 Book Review of Dancing Naked in Dixie by Lauren Clark

Book Synopsis:

Travel writer Julia Sullivan lives life in fast-forward. She jet sets to Europe and the Caribbean with barely a moment to blink or sleep. But too many mishaps and missed deadlines have Julia on the verge of being fired.

With a stern warning, and unemployment looming, she's offered one last chance to rescue her career. Julia embarks on an unlikely journey to the ‘Heart of Dixie’—Eufaula, Alabama—home to magnificent mansions, sweet tea, and the annual Pilgrimage.

Julia arrives, soon charmed by the lovely city and her handsome host, but her stay is marred by a shocking discovery. Can Julia's story save her career, Eufaula, and the annual Pilgrimage? 

Author Information:
Lauren Clark writes contemporary novels set in the Deep South; stories sprinkled with sunshine, suspense, and secrets.

A former TV news anchor, Lauren adores flavored coffee, local book stores, and anywhere she can stick her toes in the sand. Her big loves are her family, paying it forward, and true-blue friends.
Check out her website at

Book Excerpt:

“But, I have plans. Every night next week. Tickets to the Met, a fundraiser, a gallery opening, and I have book club on Monday.” I don’t mention the Filene’s trip I’d planned. Or the romantic date I’ve been promising Andrew, my neglected boyfriend of four years.
David waves a hand to dismiss it all. “Marietta can handle the magazine-related responsibilities.” From the top drawer of his desk he produces an airline ticket and a manila folder with my name on it. He sets them on the edge of his desk. Something I can’t decipher plays on his lips.
I keep my voice even. “What about Bali?” I had planned to leave for the South Pacific a week from Friday. “It’s on my calendar. It’s been on there…”    
David shakes his head. “Not anymore.”
The words wound me like a thousand bee stings.
“Alabama,” David repeats.
My face grows hot. He’s plucked me off a plum assignment without a thought to my ability and my schedule. My new boss is sending me to God knows where and he looks perfectly content.
“If that’s my next assignment,” I sputter, “I’d rather…I’d rather dance naked!”
The announcement comes out much louder than I intend and reverberates through the room. Dolores probably has her ear pressed to the door, but the phrase bounces off my boss like a cotton ball.
David smothers a chuckle. “Suit yourself.”

Book Review:

When I first saw the title “Dancing Naked in Dixie,” I knew I had to have a copy of this book for my library.  After all, who doesn’t want a great book like that in their library, if for no other reason than the great conversation you can start by saying, “So I was reading this book called “Dancing Naked in Dixie…”  At that time I just knew I loved the title, now I know that Lauren Clark has written a charming book that is as welcoming as the people in Eufaula, Alabama.

The story is charming.   It is about small town America where values still matter and people still leave their doors unlocked because it is safe enough to do so.  The story conveys that we all need to slow down, smell the flowers, enjoy one another, and occasionally get off our roller-coaster rush of life.

I took a little to get into the story, a chapter or so, but then the story had my total attention.  Romance, scheming, quirky characters, betrayal, this story has all that and a few twists besides.

I give this book 4 out of 5 clouds and whole-heartedly recommend it for your reading pleasure.

Books, Books, and More Books: Jaded... a ghostly good read

Books, Books, and More Books: Jaded... a ghostly good read: Book Review of Jaded by Kenya Carlton   Jaded By Kenya Carlton Genre: Mystery/Romance with paranormal elements Book Synops...

Jaded... a ghostly good read

Book Review of Jaded by Kenya Carlton
By Kenya Carlton
Genre: Mystery/Romance with paranormal elements

Book Synopsis:

War correspondent Mia James is back on US soil and ready to tackle a juicy political story that could make national headlines.  A politician’s aid goes missing, and the son of the wealthiest family is the only suspect.  

Determined to take down the mayor of the small seaside town, Mia comes up against an angry ghost with her own agenda. 

Afraid she may be suffering from post-traumatic stress Mia figures that she’s way over her head and enlists the help of resident black sheep Gabe Montgomery. Now, she must solve the mystery of her not so friendly ghost; stop herself from falling in love with the mysterious winery owner, all while making it out alive.

Book Excerpt: 

Martin Conway didn’t know what to expect. He idled in his police cruiser on the curb in anticipation of a few ominous clouds or some menacing lightening to strike down on the house. He wasn’t quite sure since he avoided this place as much as possible.

The manor that sat above Vine was a picture of Victorian splendor. Or at least that’s what the welcome brochure to all new tourists had professed.

No one had occupied the oldest standing mansion in town permanently for years and the historical society made sure no one probably ever would. Restrictions had been placed on the home that most modern families weren’t willing to contend with and older homeowners would be too overwhelmed to be bothered. The most that could be hoped for was the occasional renter. So the mansion that encompassed every viable asset that a haunted house possibly ever could, sat empty.

It didn’t matter that the lawn was cut and the bushes were trimmed. Nor did it matter whether fresh paint was applied every other year or so. Right now all that mattered was that he, Martin Conway, had to get his butt in gear to welcome the new residence of Holloway Manor to Vine.

As Sheriff he took his job seriously. Crime was virtually nonexistent. A few run-ins with the local teenagers now and again were the worse offenses he imagined but that was expected in any small town.

Martin turned the ignition off and grabbed his hat. Vibes of intense displeasure seemed to waft his way from the house, with a deep breath he pushed his apprehension to the side and sorted through his thoughts of what to say to the new neighbors of Vine.

"Good Afternoon, Ma'am." Martin tipped his head to the cute little number at the door. Pleasantly surprised he greeted the woman with all smiles.

"Good afternoon, Officer-"

"Conway, Sheriff Conway," he introduced himself.

The look on her adorable face made him forget the regular spiel he had prepared for all the newbie’s that entered town. She was this tiny little thing with big boobs and a nice ass which was a win-win combination in his estimation. Her smooth cocoa skin made his mouth water not to mention her face was kewpie doll cute but her expression told him she was all about being bad. The pool of her brown eyes seemed to suck him into her.

"Where are my manners? Please come in Sheriff. My name is Tracy and this tired piece of trash over here is my cousin, Mia." He followed the woman into the Holloway home to find it was exactly as he had imagined.

Big and creepy!
The structure was the only house that could be seen from the Carlisle hilltop that looked down on Vine. From the door the stained glass windows cast a colorful dance of colors around the front room. A bright and cheery effect that should have appeared fun and joyful, but came across eerie and haunting instead.

White dust cloths covered what he could only imagine was antique furniture. The unlived look probably lent a helping hand to the spooky factor of the estate.
Entranced with the infamous inside interior of the Holloway mansion, he almost stumbled over this woman. Simply stunned into stupidity by her perfect face he missed the hand that she held out to him.

"Mia James, what can I do for you?" His tongue twisted around his mouth. Ordinarily he would be considered a man of authority but this woman made him babble like a fool.

"I uh, I wanted to welcome you to Vine. I saw your truck and thought I would be first to welcome you to our fine city."

"I appreciate that," she replied.

"We have a little picnic scheduled this evening at The Grove and we would be delighted if you could join us." He flashed his pearly smile in hopes it would be enough to persuade them to come.

"Who is we, Sheriff?"

"The Mayor is sponsoring this little shindig to extend his hand of thanks to the people of Vine."

"Special thanks for what?" Mia asked.

"Uh.” Both women stared at him with something crossed between humor and confusion.

"He wants to thank everyone for their support in Vine and continued support when he runs for Congress."

"Well Conway,” Mia began, “that's a mighty fine invitation but I think I'll pass." she touched his elbow, with the sweetest smile. He was so enchanted with the Egyptian shape of her brown eyes that he found himself outside of the front door without the faintest idea how he got there. "Thank you for keeping us in mind."

"But there's barbecue and fireworks," he stupidly stammered.

"Sounds like a true hootenanny of a good time. We will definitely give it some thought." He understood a polite brush off when he saw one. Mia was so gracious he almost didn't mind how she had just kicked him out of the house.

“Oh well.” He stepped off the wraparound porch. Most likely he would see her again around town. Of course, the lack of information about these women would leave room for the Mayor to be unhappy with his fact finding duties.

Martin headed to his cruiser and figured he would go check across town for those vandals that kept spray painting something as silly as ‘Water’ in the quarry. It was the perfect excuse that he was too busy to be nosey if the Mayor asked.

Author Information:

Kenya has a B.A. in Mass communication, Television and Radio. She has fifteen years in production of television and film and five in television engineering. In 2009 Kenya Produced Dawn a short film and Executive Produced Destination Everywhere the pilot for a travel series through her production company Black R.O.K Productions established in 2008.

Book Review:

Jaded is a cross between a romance, mystery, and horror story, but it is definitely an adult only book.  The basic story could be read by any age, but the book goes into detail in several areas that make it unsuitable for the young.

I enjoyed reading Jaded.  While I was totally wrong on the who-done-it, it was a total twist for me that connected the second story line; I enjoyed the main characters Mia and Gabe.  Their relationship was not story-book perfect and contained the right amounts of tenderness and sarcasm, love and distrust and dislike, to keep it from becoming overly sappy and saccharine.

I did get lost a few times as there are several storylines going on.  They all end up being somewhat related, but a couple time I had to look back to verify who a couple people were.  This was a minor issue compared to the overall excellent storytelling.  I enjoyed the foibles of the characters and was satisfied with the outcome… what more could you ask of a story.

I give this 4 out of 5 clouds.