Book Review : Heart of Ice by Lis Wiehl

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Heart of Ice
by
Paperback, 336 pages
Published January 3rd 2012 by Thomas Nelson
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The Triple Threat Club novels follow three fiercely intelligent women-a TV reporter, a Federal prosecutor and an FBI agent-as they investigate crimes as current as today's headlines.

The Triple Threat women have faced intense situations before…but never such a cunningly cold-blooded murderer.

Elizabeth Avery is a stunningly beautiful woman. But her perfectly managed exterior hides the ice cold heart of a killer. She ingeniously manipulates everyone who crosses her path to do exactly as she wishes--from crime reporter Cassidy Shaw, who thinks Elizabeth is her new best friend, to a shy young man Elizabeth persuades to kill for her.

As Elizabeth leaves a trail of bodies in her wake, Federal prosecutor Allison Pierce and FBI agent Nicole Hedges must piece together clues from seemingly unrelated crimes. Can they stop her before she reaches her unthinkable, ultimate end-game?

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Heart of Ice features a cold-blooded killer who could be your next-house neighbour, best friend, gym teacher, and swimming instructor anytime. Elizabeth Avery has good looks and the prefect body. She is the envy of all women. However, beneath her mask of perfection hides a scary monster - one that will do anything to get what she wants - including eliminating those who stand in her way. And once again, the Triple Threat Club members are in action to find out the mastermind behind a series of plotted evil.

Similar to Lis' previous books, this story is filled with twists and turns, and you'll find yourself entangled in the web of lies and deception. The author displays a brilliant understanding towards jurisdiction processes and the inner workings of the media by her choice of certain words and special settings.

Nicole, one of the heroines, is plagued by a serious problem and this causes her to distance herself from her friends. She is afraid that she might not live to see her daughter grow up into a fine lady. Forever an atheist, she is shocked and somewhat surprised to find out that she may have been blessed by an angel after an operation.

I'm not satisfied with the ending of Heart of Ice as the author does not reveal the fate of the psychopathic killers, but rather leave readers to imagine it by themselves. It's a thoroughly enjoyable novel, nonetheless. If you're looking for a good crime novel with elements of life-like action and human psychology, then don't hesitate to pick it up.

Rating: 4.000

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Lis Wiehl, Fox News Legal Analyst and Author
Lis Wiehl is one of the nation’s most prominent trial lawyers and highly regarded commentators. Currently, she is the legal analyst and reporter on the Fox News Channel and Bill O’Reilly’s sparring partner in the weekly “Is It Legal?” segment on The O’Reilly Factor. Prior to that she was O’Reilly’s co-host on the nationally syndicated show The Radio Factor. She is also a Professor of Law at New York Law School. Her column “Lis on Law” appears weekly on FoxNews.com.

Book Review : How to Ruin Your Boyfriend's Reputation (How to Ruin, #3) by Simone Elkeles

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How to Ruin Your Boyfriend's Reputation (How to Ruin, #3)
by
Paperback
, 257 pages
Published November 1st 2009 by Flux

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Guess who's jetting to the Holy Land this summer!

Remember me, Amy Barak-Nelson—a.k.a the queen of disaster? In case you forgot, my boyfriend Avi is in the Israeli army. A visit is definitely in order.

Somehow my grandmother convinced me to sign up for two weeks of pure hell in a military training base. Getting up before dawn, peeing in a hole, and playing war games in the desert isn't my idea of fun. But what's worse? Our team leader turns out to be Avi!

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Amy plans to give Avi a surprise by signing up for the military boot camp in Israel. However, when she realizes that they are not going to have a happy reunion consisting of kisses and endless two-person time together, she is devastated. Worse, she finds out that boot camp isn't a relaxing trip, but rather a place which consists of unsanitary wash rooms, hot bedrooms and many grueling activities aimed to push one's physical limits.

In How to Ruin Your Boyfriend's Reputation, Simone Elkeles gives readers the satisfaction of seeing Amy going all the way to Israel to seek her beloved Avi. Even though Amy seems immature and bitchy most of the time, she is actually a good person. She tries her best to help her friend Miranda to get over her crush with Nate by encouraging her to try befriend a fellow soldier at the camp, who is an American-Jew.

After the intensive trainings in boot camp, Amy eventually becomes more matured and her fighting spirit is stimulated until it reaches a peak. She gradually understands Avi's commitment and passion towards protecting his country and develops a new-found respect towards her boyfriend.

Rating: 4.000

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Simone was raised in the suburbs of Chicago. She attended the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign where she earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology and then Loyola University-Chicago where she earned a Master’s of Science in Industrial Relations while working for a manufacturing company creating diversity programs for their employees. In her spare time she’s a hockey mom and an active Girl Scout leader specially trained in outdoor education. She also spends time mentoring other teen and adult authors.

Book Review : How to Ruin My Teenage Life (How to Ruin, #2) by Simone Elkeles

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How to Ruin My Teenage Life (How to Ruin, #2)
by
Paperback, 281 pages
Published June 1st 2007 by Flux

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In this sequel to How to Ruin a Summer Vacation, EVERYTHING in sixteen-year-old Amy Nelson Barak's life is going wrong! Her mom got married and moved to the suburbs, and now they are going to have a baby. Amy moves in with her dad in Chicago and signs him up for an online dating service. His first four dates are that night . . .

What else? Her dog Mutt impregnated her grumpy neighbor's prized poodle, so Amy will actually have to get a part-time job to pay for half the veterinary bill. And there's this totally annoying boy, Nathan Rubin, who just moved into her apartment building. Luckily, Amy has a cute boyfriend named Avi. Only he's more like a non-boyfriend considering Avi is in the Israeli army for the next three years.

What's a girl to do when everyone is conspiring to ruin her life?


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How to Ruin My Teenage Life is the second book about Amy Nelson-Barak, who comes back to America after the summer vacation ends. Amy misses her Israeli non-boyfriend, Avi Gefen, but she seldom gets to call him on the phone and writes him letters, much less meet him in person.

Her new neighbour, Nathan turns up, miraculously, to be the new transfer student in her school. Too bad they don't get along with each other too well. Meanwhile, Amy's mother is officially married to her stepdad, Marc with a 'c', and is now expecting a new baby.

I don't deny that sometimes Amy acts like a snob, but she's actually a nice person inside. She really cares about her best friend Jessica, and tries her best to help Jessica when she's down and blue. The new boy, Nathan, looks like a geek with his outdated outfit and also his slippery nerd-like glasses. Although he seems uncaring, he actually has a big secret which he never tells anyone.

In How to Ruin My Teenage Life, Amy Nelson-Barak learns the real value of friendship - how friends should help and support each other through hard times. She also strengthens her love relationship with her non-boyfriend Avi Gefen, the hot Israeli hunk who is now her official boyfriend. Though not as amazing as the first book, it's still a likeable novel with its themes of family, love and friendship. And as always, Simone Elkeles humours me with her clever words.

Rating:
4.000

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Simone was raised in the suburbs of Chicago. She attended the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign where she earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology and then Loyola University-Chicago where she earned a Master’s of Science in Industrial Relations while working for a manufacturing company creating diversity programs for their employees. In her spare time she’s a hockey mom and an active Girl Scout leader specially trained in outdoor education. She also spends time mentoring other teen and adult authors.


Book Review : The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by William Kamkwamba

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The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by
Hardcover, 270 pages
Published October 1st 2009 by William Morrow

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William Kamkwamba, the youthful author of this book, was born in Malawi, an African nation best known for its harrowing poverty, its AIDS epidemic, and its long-term food crisis. In 2001, William was just 14 years old when the country was struck by the greatest famine within memory. With his family now too poor to pay his $80-a-year tuition, this eager learner was forced to leave school. Against those staggering odds, he continued to read, learn, and experiment. Inspired by a few old school textbooks, he devised a primitive working windmill, cobbled together from bicycle parts, blue-gum trees, and other makeshift scraps. With his homemade invention, he gave his family and himself electricity and a new start. Inspiring and refreshing as the wind.

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I started reading this book last year, but had to stop it halfway through because of my upcoming SPM exam. After the exam, I forgot about it until an online chat with a fellow friend on Facebook. I instantly picked up this book and continued to read where I last stopped. Good thing I put a bookmark inside.

The first half of the novel focuses on the situation in Malawi: poor farmers shedding their sweat and tears in their crops, politicians giving empty promises, famine striking the country once in a while and killing thousands, children couldn't continue their studies due to the expensive fees, uneducated people preferring to consult a magician instead of a doctor when they fall sick... the list goes on and on.

William is a normal boy who suffers the fate of most of the Malawians - he comes from a poor family whose parents are unable to send him to school for a long time. The cost is just too high for them to burden. However, instead of giving up, William chooses to go to the library to learn by himself. At first, he struggles to grasp English, but he chooses to reread the pages again and again until he is finally able to understand the meanings. He is very interested in Physics, and the book he found in the library proves to change his life in a way that he can never imagine. He learns about windmills - how they are used to generate electricity. With his understanding of the Physics concepts and his willingness to pick through junk to find the hidden gems, along with the support from his helpful friend, he manages to build a mini windmill which actually works - his first taste of success.

Following more success and a few failures, he eventually receives recognition internationally. He has the chance to continue his studies and visit other countries to learn about their technology. Going back to his country, he vows to make Malawi a better place in the future with his skills and knowledge. I loved how inspiring this book is, and a sentence that William mentioned in this book grips me entirely: If you want to do something, all you have to do is try.

Every teenager should read this amazing book and learn how knowledge, hard-work, perseverance and determination can make a difference.

Rating: 5


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William Kamkwamba
William Kamkwamba was born August 5, 1987 in Malawi, and grew up on his family farm in Wimbe, two and half hours northeast of Malawi’s capital city. William was educated at Wimbe Primary School, completing 8th grade and was then accepted to secondary school. Due to severe famine in 2001-2002, his family lacked funds to pay $80 in school fees and William was forced to drop out in his freshman year. For five years he was unable to go to school. Rather than accept his fate, William borrowed books from a small community lending library, including an American textbook Using Energy, which depicted a wind turbine. He decided to build a windmill to power his family’s home. First he built a prototype, then his initial 5-meter windmill out of a broken bicycle, tractor fan blade, old shock absorber, and blue gum trees. He was able to power four light bulbs and two radios, and charge neighbors’ mobile phones. He then added a car battery for storage, as well as homemade light switches and circuit breakers. Subsequent projects have included clean water, malaria prevention, solar power and lighting for his family compound, a deep water well with a solar powered pump, a drip irrigation system, and the outfitting of the village team Wimbe United with uniforms and shoes. In September, 2008, William started as one of 97 inaugural students at the African Leadership Academy, a new pan-African prep school based outside of Johannesburg, South Africa whose mission is to educate the next generation with rigorous academics, ethical leadership training, entrepreneurship and design (africanleadershipacademy.org).


Book Review : Storm Glass (Glass, #1) by Maria V. Snyder

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Storm Glass (Glass, #1)
Storm Glass (Glass, #1) by
Paperback, 504 pages
Published July 17th 2009 by Mira Books
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Untrained. Untested. Unleashed. With her unique magical abilities, Opal has always felt unsure of her place at Sitia's magic academy. But when the Stormdancer clan needs help, Opal's knowledge makes her the perfect choice - until the mission goes awry. Pulling her powers in unfamiliar directions, Opal finds herself tapping into a new kind of magic as stunningly potent as it is frightening. Now Opal must deal with plotters out to destroy the Stormdancer clan, as well as a traitor in their midst. With danger and deception rising around her, will Opal's untested abilities destroy her - or save them all?

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Storm Glass circles around Opal Cowan, a glass maker who did not realize her potential for magic at the beginning of the novel. If you can recall, Opal is a minor character in the Study series, the one who lost her sister to a murderous blood magician who tortures and kills his victims before injecting their blood in his skin to increase his own power. She might not be as clever and multifaceted as Yelena, but she has her own talents, which is making glass animals that enables magicians to communicate with each other with the spark of magic trapped within.

In Storm Glass, Opal and her mentor Master Magician Zitora were sent on a mission to investigate the truth behind the failing glass orbs created by the Stormdancer clan as these things, unable to contain the power of the storm, have been bursting and killing a few Stormdancers. She finds herself getting interested with one of the Stormdancers - Kade, but her very presence seems unbearable to him.

The starting is a little too slow according to my standards, but it is still tolerable as facts are thrown in time to time to reveal pieces of puzzle that will finally make up the whole story. The romance between Opal and Kade is not really clear and obvious. It is true that there is some attraction between those two, but Kade always shuts himself off to the world since the death of her sister. Ulrick, the son of a famous glass maker, on the other hand, is a protective bear - he clearly has some interest in Opal, but her mind is solely on Kade.

Storm Glass has all the usual elements present in Maria V. Snyder's books - suspense, intrigue, romance, betrayal, and the ingenious plot twists. Following the adventures of Opal Cowan, this book is a good start to the Glass series. Even though our heroine here is not as clever or multifaceted as our beloved Yelena from the Study series, I still admire her courage and strength. Opal has low self-esteem, she is a little slow (meaning not so clever) and she is indecisive in matters of love. (Not that we can blame her, given Kade's trademark I'm-not-interested-in-you-but actually-I-do actions. Sometimes even I feel like slapping some sense into him.) Opal is definitely a flawed person, but that is what makes her special.

Rating: 4.500

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Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Maria V. Snyder attended 12 years of catholic school before going to Penn State University to study Meteorology. Earning a Bachelors of Science degree in Meteorology, Maria discovered, much to her chagrin, that forecasting the weather wasn't one of her skills. She found employment in the environmental field as an air quality scientist, and it was during those years that she began writing. After writing many science fiction short stories, Maria started Poison Study, her first novel about a food taster.

The Great Rafflecopter Giveaway!

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Study .5 Books

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I'm sure you know how much I loved Maria V. Snyder's Study series. I found some .5 books from the Study series a few days ago which are free for readers to read and browse. (These books are also available for free at Goodreads and Maria's website). I wanted to share this good news with Study lovers who haven't discovered these wonderful gems, so here you go:


Assassin Study (Study #1.5)
Download for iPad/iPhone (1.58 MB)
Download for NOOKcolor (993 KB)
Download for Literati/Kobo (610 KB)
Download as pdf. file (331 KB)

Power Study (Study, #3.5)
Download for all devices (41 KB)
Download as pdf. file (138 KB)

Ice Study (Study #3.6)
Download for iPad/iPhone (3.41 MB)
Download for NOOKcolor (1.96 MB)
Download for Literati/Kobo (1.18 MB)
Download as pdf. file (242 KB)

Book Review : The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner

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Book Review : Angelfire (ARC) by Courtney Allison Moulton

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Angelfire (Angelfire, #1)
by
Hardcover, 453 pages
Published February 15th 2011 by HarperCollins / Katherine Tegen Books
Available on Amazon / Barnes & Noble / The Book Depository
Synopsis
First there are nightmares.
Every night Ellie is haunted by terrifying dreams of monstrous creatures that are hunting her, killing her.

Then come the memories.
When Ellie meets Will, she feels on the verge of remembering something just beyond her grasp. His attention is intense and romantic, and Ellie feels like her soul has known him for centuries. On her seventeenth birthday, on a dark street at midnight, Will awakens Ellie's power, and she knows that she can fight the creatures that stalk her in the grim darkness. Only Will holds the key to Ellie's memories, whole lifetimes of them, and when she looks at him, she can no longer pretend anything was just a dream.

Now she must hunt.
Ellie has power that no one can match, and her role is to hunt and kill the reapers that prey on human souls. But in order to survive the dangerous and ancient battle of the angels and the Fallen, she must also hunt for the secrets of her past lives and truths that may be too frightening to remember.

Review
Ellie is a typical seventeen-year-old teenage girl. Well, that part is true until she meets Will, a handsome stranger whose face looks strangely familiar to her. Turns out, Will is her Guardian, and Ellie is the Preliator, a being destined to fight evil to prevent the Apocalypse and save humanity.

The concept of Angelfire isn't new to me, as angel-themed books, both fallen angels and vice versa, have been flooding the YA market since the birth of Hush, Hush (which I loved) and Fallen (which I despised). The novel, which spans a thickness of 453 pages, is actually a bit too long for me. I think some of the parts can be omitted as they are not really needed in the novel.

Something I want to comment is the romance between Ellie and Will. I don't really feel the chemistry between them. Sure, they have been partners for many times in the last 500 years, and Will has sworn to protect Ellie with his life, but I just don't feel their immense love for each other.

Angelfire has lots of kick-ass fighting scenes, in which Ellie and Will battle the evil reapers - monsters which consume human's flesh and soul. Ellie and Will, along with fellow angelic reaper Nathaniel, plan to throw the locked-up-in-a-sarcophagus Enshi, or the giver and taker of life, overboard into the depths of the deep blue sea so that Bastian and his thugs cannot get their hands on the ancient evil that is sealed within and trigger the Apocalypse.

Angelfire is action-packed, and I'm sure those who love a butt-kicking heroine would greatly appreciate this novel. The ending, though a little anti-climatic, will leave you in awe with The Preliator. That is, if she is in a movie with cool music playing in the background.

Notable Quotes
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“I guess it's true that love makes you blind."
"No," my mom said. "It doesn't make you blind. You're very, very aware of everything about the one you truly love, whether you know it from what your eyes tell you or your heart. So no, love doesn't make you blind. It paralyzes you until you can't breathe or run away from it.”
Rating: 3

About The Author
Angelfire (Angelfire, #1)
Courtney Allison Moulton lives in Michigan, where she is a photographer and spends all her free time riding and showing horses. She has always loved reading about ancient mythologies, dead languages, and telling scary, romantic stories. ANGELFIRE is her debut novel. For more information about Courtney, visit her online at www.courtneyallisonmoulton.com.

Our Heroes:
Angelfire (Angelfire,  #1)Angelfire (Angelfire,  #1)