2014

Escape From Camp 14

Escape from Camp 14

Summary:

North Korea is isolated and hungry, bankrupt and belligerent. It is also armed with nuclear weapons. Between 150,000 and 200,000 people are being held in its political prison camps, which have existed twice as long as Stalin's Soviet gulags and twelve times as long as the Nazi concentration camps. Very few born and raised in these camps have escaped. But Shin Donghyuk did.

In “Escape from Camp 14”, acclaimed journalist Blaine Harden tells the story of Shin Dong-hyuk and through the lens of Shin's life unlocks the secrets of the world's most repressive totalitarian state. Shin knew nothing of civilized existence-he saw his mother as a competitor for food, guards raised him to be a snitch, and he witnessed the execution of his own family. Through Harden's harrowing narrative of Shin's life and remarkable escape, he offers an unequaled inside account of one of the world's darkest nations and a riveting tale of endurance, courage, and survival. (Summary and book cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

This was a very educational as well as interesting book.  While I had heard about North Korean camps, I was not familiar with the magnitude of the suppression.  There are many gruesome events in the book that show the full extent that people are willing to go in North Korea to survive.  Unfortunately, it seems that things have only become stricter since Shin’s escape.  I really appreciated the author’s effort to explain the fact checking and where stories could be corroborated.  If not for this, it would be easy to dismiss the story as sensationalized or exaggerated.

Shin is not an infallible character; he has many flaws that he slowly comes to realize as he is integrated into Western culture.  It was interesting how Harden was able to explain Shin’s perspective and why it wasn’t until Shin made it to Seoul and the USA that he saw issues with his actions.  I would highly recommend this book for anyone looking to learn more about North Korea and to get insight to a very different culture than the USA.

Warning: Contains violence

Rating: 5 stars!

Who should read it?  People interested in an insight to North Korea and the “why” behind some of the things we do know about the country.

The Vampire’s Pet (The Vampyr #1)

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Summary:

Eric Logan is twenty-one, a physics major at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, and a geek. All he wants is to make it through college in one piece. If he can find a woman to share his life with, well, all the better, but he doesn't hold out much hope of that happening. He's learned the hard way that women find shy, safe men too boring to keep around for long.

While attending a party with his friend Devin, Eric meets the vampire Elizabet, who offers him a spot in her stable of blood slaves. Not long after, the lovely Gianna Brady walks into his life. With her in his heart and a job as a vampire's pet, Eric finally has the life and love he's always wanted and is eager to begin his journey through the hidden society he's now a part of, a society where blood and sex are used to cement alliances and control the violent nature of the beast within.

The world of the Vampyr isn't as easy to navigate as it appears, however, and Eric is soon lost in a whirlwind of obstacles and complications. Devin isn't content with the friendship Eric craves; Marco, Elizabet's favorite, has plans for his mistress' newest pet that Eric isn't keen on fulfilling; and the vampire queen needs a strong ally. As he struggles to find his place in this new world, Eric is pushed to the limits of his humanity and wonders if he'll ever find his way back to it again, or if the monster he's becoming will consume him and everyone he loves in its thirst for power and blood.

Author's note: Contains all six of the previously released episodes, compiled into one novel.  (Summary and book cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

This is a book/series that makes “50 Shades of Grey” look quite tame in many ways so if that isn’t up your alley, stop reading now!

 In this book, Cummings manages to create a unique twist on vampires involving copious amounts of sex and blood.  And readers be warned: the sex covers the gamut of hetero, man-on-man, threesomes and light BDSM.  I was not quite sure what I was getting into even with a warning from the author!  Might not have been the best choice of books to read on the airplane…

Warnings aside, this was a fun book to read particularly because it was non-traditional and different for me.  The characters were intriguing and the non-sexual plot was interesting in its own right.  This wasn’t a book with two dimensional characters thrown in steamy situations, but rather sexual characters who are trying to juggle the changes thrown their way.  I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to people who don’t like reading erotica as that is a significant aspect of the story, but I think it was very well-done.   Undecided on whether I’ll read “The New Vampire” series next, but I’ll probably read them an episode at a time.  That’ll keep it from being an overload!

Warning: Contains excessive explicit sexual content and non-traditional pairings.

Please note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange of an honest review courtesy of the author.

Rating: 4 stars!

Who should read it? Folks looking for “50 Shades of Grey” meets “The Vampire Academy” and then some

Want to read the whole series?  This is the whole series! At least for “The Vampire’s Pet” series (contains episodes 1-6).  

Wishful Thinking

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Summary:

Seventeen year old James Castle Jr. has rugby to deal with the pressures of high school. Fights with his girlfriend, his dad’s constant blame game and graduation anxieties all work out on the field. Every pass, tackle and scrum works out a kink. 
 
That is until rugby gets suspended.  
 
Without rugby as an outlet he has no idea how to deal with stress or the feelings of fear plaguing him since the break-in at home. James walked in on a burglar who knocked him out and left him with a concussion.  Now, James keeps seeing a little girl with pigtails everywhere. Great, he can add delusional to the list of shit he can’t deal with.  
 
What makes the situation weirder, if that’s possible, is this little girl looks a lot like the new girl at his school, Claudia.  He can’t explain the connection he feels to Claudia, it’s not lust or friendship even, but it’s there.   Everything ties to one event; a hit and run accident he was the victim of fourteen years ago. An accident he doesn’t remember.  An accident his father never told him about. An accident that wasn't in fact an accident. It seems someone from his father’s past is hellbent on revenge and this time they plan to make sure James is dead. James will have to remember the past or else be caught in a killer's crosshairs.  (Summary and book cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

This was a very fun and quick read for me.  I really liked reading this story from James’ perspective and immediately felt a connection with him despite not having a lot in common.  James is just trying to get through his last year of high school and it seems like the world is dead set on making it as difficult as possible.  He feels like he’s consistently screwing up and snaps at his friends like any normal person under stress.

The general senior year angst quickly escalates to legitimate concerns as James’ dad starts acting oddly and then a robber breaks into the house.  I’ll skip saying more to avoid spoilers, but things get more confusing and there are some great twists at the end with the resolution.  I had a hunch where things were going before the end of the book, but I still enjoyed it.  There were one or two things that I was slightly confused on at the end, but I’m not sure if that is leaving the book open for a sequel or just a few red herrings.

Warning: Contains underage drinking, minor sexual content and minor drug use.

Please note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange of an honest review courtesy of Xpresso Book Tours.

Rating: 4 stars!

Who should read it? Readers looking for a quick fun read with a bit of a twist at the end.

 

Alexander Death (The Paranormals #3)

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Summary:

While Seth searches for Jenny, Dr. Heather Reynard of the CDC unravels Seth and Jenny's secrets.

Alexander opens Jenny's mind to her deep past, and to the full horrific extent of her powers.

Torn between her feelings for Alexander and Seth, and between her past lives and her present, Jenny must prepare to face her enemies, as well as the darkness within her...(Summary and book cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

 Review:

This books marks significant changes in all of the characters.  In this one, Jenny finds herself quickly taken under the wing of Alexander and his questionable influences.  Despite myself, I was rooting for Alexander and Jenny though something seems off.  He helps Jenny see into her past and the true source of her powers.  That being said, be prepared for some major twists and turns!  I won’t say much more because it’d be too easy to reveal too much.  Originally, this was planned to be the final book in the series so I will say that most major questions are answered by the completion of the book.

Warning: If you didn’t enjoy the level of horror/violence in the previous books, I would not continue with the series.  It only gets more intense going forward.  Contains horror and violence.

Rating: 4 stars!

Who Should Read it?  Fans of fantasy in a contemporary setting or horror.

Want to read the whole series?