Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ The Purveli by Dianne Duvall

The Purveli by Dianne Duvall (Author), Kirsten Potter (Narrator),
Aldebarian Alliance, Book 3
Publisher: Self-published, Tantor Audio (Audio Publisher)
Genre: Sci-fi/Fantasy, Romance, Action/Adventure
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Ava has always been different. Born with strong telepathic abilities, she lives a very isolated life until she is offered a job with an obscure network that aids powerful Immortal Guardians in their quest to protect humanity from the psychotic vampires who prey upon them. Suddenly, she doesn’t feel so different. For the first time in her life, Ava has found a place where she belongs. She’s happy. Life is good. And when her employers invite her to join a group of other gifted ones and a handful of Immortal Guardians on a journey to another planet, it becomes absolutely fantastic.

In no time at all, she is speeding across the galaxy aboard a Lasaran warship manned by two amazing alien races. It’s the dream of a lifetime… until a vicious attack by a mutual enemy of Lasara and Earth lands her alone in an escape pod with no habitable planet in sight and only one ship within range: one that carries the enemy who wants to know why the bioengineered virus they released on Earth long ago didn’t exterminate humanity and leave the planet ripe for their claiming.

Jak’ri doesn’t know how long he has been a prisoner aboard the Cebaun, but he fears the enemy’s twisted experiments will soon lead them to a virus that will eradicate the Purveli people. Despair grips him until a female from Earth is taken captive and reaches out to him telepathically. The gift that Ava said caused her such misery in the past soon becomes his salvation as the two of them form a fast friendship. Determined to distract each other from the horrors of their existence, they immerse themselves in telepathic communion during the day, then seek solace and adventure together in shared dreams. As their friendship deepens into love, the two hatch a daring plot to escape their captors. But the enemy will not let them go without a fight.

Can Ava and Jak’ri stand against so many and emerge victorious?


Happiness Is Listening to Your Dog Snore – Humorous and Inspirational Dog Quotes to Celebrate Our Canine Friends by Sandra Murphy

Happiness Is Listening to Your Dog Snore – Humorous and Inspirational Dog Quotes to Celebrate Our Canine Friends by Sandra Murphy
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Non-Fiction, Inspirational, Contemporary, Historical
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

From Afghans and Akitas to Yakutians and Yorkies, and everything in between, there’s a very special connection between dogs and their owners. Our four-legged friends put smiles on our faces, comfort us when we’re down and make us laugh with their antics. They aren’t just “man’s best friend” but a terrific companion to women, children and anyone in need of the perfect companion.

Bestselling author and editor Sandra Murphy (Peace, Love, and Crime: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of the 60s, From Hay to Eternity) has compiled a collection of quotes celebrating canines; our furry friends who bring so much joy to our lives. Some quotes will be familiar, many will be new, but all remind us how wonderful it is to have dogs in our lives.

Dogs make the world a better place.

One of the things I liked the most about this collection was the way the author separated all of the quotes out in various sections. The first portion was dedicated to humorous quotes, while later ones included themes that ranged from inspirational to what the author’s peers at Untreed Reads thought about dogs. It was nice to know what to expect from each section before I read it, and it also made it easy to flip ahead or back to a specific theme if needed.

As much as I enjoyed reading these quotes, there were times when I found them repetitive. The same themes and ideas were repeated over and over again in the various sections. It would have been nice to have a wider range of thoughts on the topic as dogs are creatures almost everyone loves. Had this been the case, I would have happily gone with a much higher rating as the concept itself was well worth checking out.

Some of my favorite sections were the ones that pondered what the world might look like through canine eyes. For example, one quote discussed whether the writer’s dog might have given them a name and, if so, what that name might be. That was exactly the sort of content I was hoping to read about! It’s fascinating to gaze into the eyes of a dog and try to figure out what they’re thinking about.

I smiled as I read Happiness Is Listening to Your Dog Snore.

Coloring the Zodiac by Christina Haberkern

Coloring the Zodiac by Christina Haberkern
Publisher: Plume
Genre: Non-Fiction, Young Adult (14 – 18 y.o.)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

There are twelve signs in the zodiac and twelve ways to celebrate the radiance of the stars, as well as the incredible history and symbolism behind each sign. Illustrator Christina Haberkern shares beautiful, intricate, fun-to-color pages influenced by the latest trends in fonts, design, and pop culture, with more than forty pages to color. The symbol, character, and constellation of each sign will be featured, along with pages of pure celestial, decorative, and pattern designs.

Are you a fan of astrology? Do you sit down and check your horoscope daily? If so, then this is a great coloring book for you. Even if you’re only a casual student of astrology or simply randomly curious, you can still enjoy this fabulous book celebrating all twelve sun signs. There’s something for everyone inside these pages, no matter your artistic abilities.

Coloring the Zodiac gives you a lot of options when deciding what to choose first. For each sign you get several pages with different aspects of the signs. Symbols, images, affirmations, and even quotes from some famous reps for your sign abound in this book. The illustrations are easy enough to color but detailed enough to make your artwork really stand out when it’s complete. The artist does an excellent job of capturing what is truly representative of each sign with her drawings.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I picked up this book. Adult coloring books can be very hit or miss at times. However, I was very pleasantly surprised by what I found in this one. All the drawings called to me, not just those for my sign. I could relate to the pages dedicated to my sign and see my family and friends in the others. Another bonus is that it’d be suitable for younger audiences as well, teens and tweens would have fun coloring in the designs as well as adults. The next time you’re feeling a bit stressed or restless, grab your colored pencils and this book and have fun. I know that’s how I plan to spend some time in the very near future – it’s written in the stars.

Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ Honour’s Rest by Judith Crow

Honour’s Rest by Judith Crow
Publisher: Crowvus Choughs, Stempster House
Genre: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Young Adult (13 – 18 y.o.)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

“So, it’s – what – like magic?”

No, according to Pen’s uncle, the Rite is not magic at all. But, if it’s not magic, then how could Pen push the school bully into a pond while he was really studying alone in the library?
When Pen’s family realise he has the Rite, he is sent to live with his Uncle Napier, who can help him control his ability.

But Napier has other duties. He is the Rendelf, in charge of the Rite in the UK, and he has gathered many enemies over the years…
…enemies who would be delighted to use Pen against him.


Rock Me on the Water: 1974-The Year Los Angeles Transformed Movies, Music, Television, and Politics by Ronald Brownstein

Rock Me on the Water: 1974-The Year Los Angeles Transformed Movies, Music, Television, and Politics by Ronald Brownstein
Publisher: Harper
Genre: Historical, Non-Fiction
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Los Angeles in 1974 exerted more influence over popular culture than any other city in America. Los Angeles that year, in fact, dominated popular culture more than it ever had before, or would again. Working in film, recording, and television studios around Sunset Boulevard, living in Brentwood and Beverly Hills or amid the flickering lights of the Hollywood Hills, a cluster of transformative talents produced an explosion in popular culture which reflected the demographic, social, and cultural realities of a changing America. At a time when Richard Nixon won two presidential elections with a message of backlash against the social changes unleashed by the sixties, popular culture was ahead of politics in predicting what America would become. The early 1970s in Los Angeles was the time and the place where conservatives definitively lost the battle to control popular culture.

Rock Me on the Water traces the confluence of movies, music, television, and politics in Los Angeles month by month through that transformative, magical year. Ronald Brownstein reveals how 1974 represented a confrontation between a massive younger generation intent on change, and a political order rooted in the status quo. Today, we are again witnessing a generational cultural divide. Brownstein shows how the voices resistant to change may win the political battle for a time, but they cannot hold back the future.

Looking for a feast for the eyes that revolves around the year 1974? Then look no further.

This book is a bit of a mishmash concerning the things that happened in 1974. It’s heavy on pop culture and politics. The writing is easy and this is a quick read. Check it out if you’re interested in music, film and television from that year.

I have to admit there are times when the author gets a bit heavy on politics. There is a certain flair revolving around the election of Jerry Brown. That said, it’s not bad. Just a lot of information. The book is made up of chapters labeled as each month of 1974. There are touches on music – namely the west coast sound, Jackson Brown, Linda Ronstadt and the Eagles – television – All in the Family and MASH – plus films, including the work of Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, and the emergence of women writers and producers. It’s a lot more balanced than I initially thought it might be and was an interesting read.

Conservativism shows up as well as the change in the world from more of a young person mentality to a ‘family hour’ one where pop culture was encouraged to consider the family hour when creating content. I do like how the author contrasted the movements and showed both the minuses and the pluses to both.

If you’re looking for a long-form overview of the year, how the year and happenings within influenced the future and want to read about the music, films, politics and television of that time, then this is the one for you.

Book of the Month Poll ~ Alice’s Adventures Under Water by Lenny de Rooy

Alice’s Adventures Under Water by Lenny de Rooy
Publisher: Millennyum Publications
Genre: Middle Grade (8 – 12 y.o.), Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Historical
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe
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Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

If you enjoyed Lewis Carroll’s books “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There”, this is the book for you! Finally, there is a third story in the ‘Alice’ series – written in Carroll’s familiar style, but packed with a great number of completely new puns, parodies, and poetry. This time, Alice explores an under-water world, in which she meets new characters who again make her wonder about their strange logic and behaviour. The story can be enjoyed by everyone, even those who have never read Carroll’s books. However, the more familiar you are with them, the more references you will recognise in this exceptionally clever tale…


Masters of Appearance by Montgomery Raye

Masters of Appearance by Montgomery Raye
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: 2 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Kingpin of Kansas City’s underworld, Eddie, has just gotten two bullets to the back of his head. As his estranged daughter begins to unravel what kind of man her father was, she finds more than just his empire was on the verge of crumbling.

Beneath the steel armor of a cocksure crime lord of passion and power that made women quiver and men quake in his stormy path, a kingpin’s myth dissolves in “Masters of Appearance”.

He’s got a history and he’s a pistol, but now that he’s dead, someone has to unravel his past.

I wanted a short story and this one fit the bill. It’s nice and short, so good for a lunch time read. The story clipped along all right and I read it in one sitting. The characters are different and have promise.

This book would be even better with one more once-over with an editor. There were words missing and I never really got a sense of the POV of the character. It felt more like stitched together bits of a story, rather than a gripping tale. I wanted to feel like I was in Eddie’s point of view, but it was more like watching from the outside. There is resolution of sorts in this story, but it’s not what I expected. That doesn’t make it bad, just different.

If you’re interested in a story that teeters between erotic and erotica and will singe the ereader during your lunch break, then this might be the book for you.

Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ Cliff’s Descent by Dianne Duvall (Author), Kirsten Potter (Narrator)

Cliff’s Descent by Dianne Duvall (Author), Kirsten Potter (Narrator)
Immortal Guardians Series, Book 11
Publisher: Self-published, Audio publisher: Tantor Audio
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Romance
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Every mortal who works at network headquarters knows that vampires reside below them. They were the first to surrender to the powerful Immortal Guardians who hunt them. And they did so, hoping they can be saved, that the doctors and scientists the Immortal Guardians employ can halt the progressive brain damage that robs all vampires of their sanity. Though curious, Emma never thought she would meet any of the vampires who remain under heavy guard several stories beneath her office. Then mercenaries strike, bombarding the building with heavy artillery. The vampires are freed to join the fray… and Cliff saves her life.

From that moment on, she can’t stop thinking about him regardless of the restrictions placed on interactions with vampires. When Emma discovers a way to speak to Cliff at network headquarters, she becomes even more fascinated by him. He’s smart, charming, and honorable to his core despite the darkness that lies ahead. And he seems to crave her company as much as she does his. Aware of the eyes that watch them, they keep their encounters innocent, limiting them to those of mere acquaintances. Nevertheless, their attraction grows and she soon falls in love with him even as the madness begins to claim him.

Cliff realizes his future is dark. As one vampire friend after another succumbs to insanity, hope that network doctors will be able to find a cure in time to keep him from meeting the same fate begins to dwindle, leaving him little to look forward to… until he meets Emma. Just speaking to her brings him a happiness and contentment he hasn’t experienced since before his transformation. And when they finally find a way to be alone together, everything changes. Emma burrows her way right into his heart and quiets the voices. She sparks dreams of a future with her that strengthen his determination to beat back the madness. But as time passes, the voices grow louder and insanity begins to chip away at him until he fears it will eradicate every part of him she fell in love with.

Will the two of them find a way to defy the odds and find their happily-ever-after? Or will Cliff’s descent consume him?


Skye Falling by Mia McKenzie

Skye Falling by Mia McKenzie
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQ, Romance
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

When she was twenty-six and broke, Skye didn’t think twice before selling her eggs and happily pocketing the cash. Now approaching forty, Skye still moves through life entirely—and unrepentantly—on her own terms, living out of a suitcase and avoiding all manner of serious relationships. Maybe her junior high classmates weren’t wrong when they voted her “Most Likely to Be Single” instead of “Most Ride-or-Die Homie,” but at least she’s always been free to do as she pleases.

Then a twelve-year-old girl tracks Skye down during one of her brief visits to her hometown of Philadelphia and informs Skye that she’s “her egg.” Skye’s life is thrown into sharp relief and she decides that it might be time to actually try to have a meaningful relationship with another human being. Spoiler alert: It’s not easy.

Things get even more complicated when Skye realizes that the woman she tried and failed to pick up the other day is the girl’s aunt, and now it’s awkward. All the while, her brother is trying to get in touch, her mother is being bewilderingly kind, and the West Philly pool halls and hoagie shops of her youth have been replaced by hipster cafés.

With its endearingly prickly narrator and a cast of characters willing to both challenge her and catch her when she falls, this novel is a clever, moving portrait of a woman and the relationships she thought she could live without.

Skye Ellison lives live on her own terms and is just fine with that. She tells it like it is and rarely holds back. Which is both good and bad. Good in the sense that she doesn’t let anyone walk over her. When she sets boundaries, they stay until she wants them to come down. They way she handled certain toxic relationships was refreshing. Honestly, I wish I had half her nerve. Her attitude also had downsides, mainly in the way she kept people at arm’s length most of the time.

In a lot of ways, Skye is unlikable and unpleasant. However, the deeper you get into the story, the more time she spends around Vicky, the more you start to understand Skye and her reasons for making herself so inaccessible. As a character, she feels very authentic in a real way, not just a fictional one. She’s smart, she’s clever, and she’s also a hot as heck mess most of the time. I found it highly admirable that she admitted to it quite often.

Vicky did her level best to turn Skye’s life upside down, but in a good way. She pushed Skye, and in turn, pushed herself, to change, be different, to be better. I love the relationship that she forms with her biological mom, but the real gem is the relationship she has with her Aunt Faye. It’s not always easy, but there’s always love and respect between them. Their relationship is another realistic look into blended and alternative family units in today’s world. For me, it was refreshing to see something other than a horrible family or a perfect family.

Skye Falling is both an emotional rollercoaster as well as a laugh riot of a book. Every time Skye started getting too much into her feelings, she’d jerk us right out of it with some pithy comment or sarcastic retort. Even in the moments when I didn’t like her all that much, she never failed to make me laugh out loud. As a mother, I related so much to this story but, as a person, I found it engaging and highly enjoyable.