Bargain book Shopping: Dollar Tree Style!

IMG_1124So you may not know this but I am a huge bargain shopper. I could probably count on 2 hands the amount of times I’ve paid full price for a book. One of my favorite places to find brand new books is The Dollar Tree. Years ago, I wouldn’t even bother to look at the Dollar Tree books because I assumed that they only had books that nobody would want to read…but I was wrong. I have been amazed at some of the books I’ve found there and even if it does turn out to be a bad book, I’m only out a dollar. The books pictured above are my most recent finds at The Dollar Tree…

So Damn Lucky by Deborah Coonts: Lucky O’Toole—Head of Customer Relations at The Babylon, premier mega-resort on the Vegas Strip—thinks it’s just another night in Las Vegas. But then a magician pulls a disappearing act, right under Lucky’s nose. Is it a stunt? Or something worse?

I bought this one because it sounds like a funny, light story that would be perfect to read in between the scary or depressing books that I often read. I also love that it’s set in Las Vegas.

Stay Awake by Dan Chaon: In these haunting, suspenseful stories, lost, fragile, searching characters wander between ordinary life and a psychological shadowland. They have experienced intense love or loss, grief or loneliness, displacement or disconnection—and find themselves in unexpected, dire, and sometimes unfathomable situations.

From what I gather, this is a book of short stories that are disturbing and creepy. The main reason I bought it was because there is a story about a father with a son who experiences night terrors. Unfortunately, I can relate because my son also has horrible night terrors. I’m very intrigued but also very nervous to read this one.

The Colour of Milk by Nell Leyshon: Mary is a sharp-tongued farm girl, and she will do anything to learn to read and write. But as she does so through four seasons of one extraordinary year, she discovers that nothing comes for free. Told by a narrator whose urgent, unforgettable voice will break your heart, The Colour of Milk is an astonishing novel.

This is a book that I almost purchased from Book Outlet in the past so I was very excited to find it at the Dollar Tree.

Midnight City by J. Barton Mitchell: Lord of the Flies meets War of the Worlds in J. Barton Mitchell’s alien-invaded post-apocalyptic world where two teens and a young girl with amazing powers must stop the aliens’ mysterious plan.

This was the one I was the most excited about as I almost purchased it several times from several different places. I love the cover and the story sounds great!

The Perfect Marriage by Kimberla Lawson Roby: Denise and Derrek Shaw are the perfect American couple. Happily married for fifteen years, they have a wonderful daughter, Mackenzie, successful careers, and a beautiful home in a posh Chicago suburb. They are attractive, respected . . . and hiding a shocking secret: a dangerous addiction to drugs.

This one sounded very good and it’s a fairly short book (which I like at times).

If you are a bookworm, I implore you to pop into The Dollar Tree the next time you drive by one and check out the book section. You might be surprised at what you find. I love the feeling of finding a $27 hardcover book and only paying $1 for it!

Here are some of the other books I’ve scored at The Dollar Tree:

new abe betty burned earl mud next revolver winter ghosts

Good luck in your quest (if you choose to take it)!

Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee Review

forbiddenGenre: Dystopian, Fantasy, Christian Fiction

Judging the Cover: The cover is very relevant to the story and had a lot to do with my decision to purchase the book.

Plot according to Goodreads: Many years have passed since civilization’s brush with apocalypse. The world’s greatest threats have all been silenced. There is no anger, no hatred, no war. There is only perfect peace… and fear. But a terrible secret has been closely guarded for centuries: Every single soul walking the earth, though in appearance totally normal, is actually dead, long ago genetically stripped of true humanity.
Fleeing pursuit, with only moments to live, a young man named Rom stumbles into possession of a vial of blood and a piece of cryptic writing. When consumed, the blood will bring him back to life. When decoded, the message will lead him on a perilous journey that will require him to abandon everything he has ever known and awaken humanity to the transforming power of true life and love.
But the blood will also resurrect hatred, ambition, and greed.

This is book 1 in a trilogy called The Books of Mortals.

My Thoughts: This story was a bit out of my comfort zone as it had a fantasy feel to it (and I’m not generally drawn to fantasy) but I found it to be very interesting and enjoyable. I decided to read this book because I owned this one (found at Goodwill) and book 2 (from Ollie’s) and stumbled across book 3 while shopping at my local grocery store. It was in the bargain box, priced at $3.50 for hardcover but I didn’t want to buy it until I started book 1 to see if I would like the story. I bought book 3 after reading about 50 pages and I’m glad I did.

The Good: The plot is a very interesting one…set in Rome in the future, all humans have been stripped of every emotion except 1…fear. I was impressed by the way the authors were able to stick to this concept throughout the book as I imagine writing emotionless (except for fear) characters can’t be an easy task. As mentioned above, it had a fantasy feel to it which I was wary of when I began reading it, but I actually loved the dungeon scenes and the unusual names. There is a lot of Christian symbolism in the story but I didn’t feel it was something that would deter a non-Christian from enjoying it (especially if they aren’t familiar with the Bible). I loved the symbolism. The ending was a great cliff hanger and left me wanting much more so I can’t wait to dive into books 2 and 3.

What I didn’t Like: This is the 5th book I’ve read by Ted Dekker and although I love the stories that he tells, I don’t like the way he tells them. I always find it difficult to “get into” his books. It usually takes me 50-100 pages to get comfortable with his writing style and I don’t think I enjoy the stories as much as I could because of it. The atmosphere of the story was great but I wanted more…there were times when I felt that the places could have been described in better detail. There was a bit of insta-love in this story that was kind of ridiculous.

My rating: 4/5 stars and recommended for lovers of dystopian and fantasy stories

The Real Doctor will See you Shortly by Matt McCarthy Review

drGenre: Non-Fiction

Judging the Cover: What were they thinking??? This cover is so bland that I fear many people who would enjoy this book will pass over it solely based on the cover.

Plot according to Goodreads: In medical school, Matt McCarthy dreamed of being a different kind of doctor—the sort of mythical, unflappable physician who could reach unreachable patients. But when a new admission to the critical care unit almost died his first night on call, he found himself scrambling. Visions of mastery quickly gave way to hopes of simply surviving hospital life, where confidence was hard to come by and no amount of med school training could dispel the terror of facing actual patients.The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly offers a window on to hospital life that dispenses with sanctimony and self-seriousness while emphasizing the black-comic paradox of becoming a doctor: How do you learn to save lives in a job where there is no practice?

My Thoughts: I found a lot of comfort by reading this book. I work in the medical field and I was required to complete 2 twelve week internships in different settings. I went into them confident and excited but quickly learned that reading something in a book and actually doing it are 2 entirely different things. I made mistakes, I cried, I felt like a failure at times and felt more stress in those 24 weeks than ever in my life. This book was such a source of solace as I realized that I was not alone in my experience. The author had some serious blunders but, like me, made it through alive with a lot more knowledge and competence.

The Good: I find the process of becoming a doctor fascinating and, after reading this book, a bit scary. The reader gets a peek into the lives of these people who hold our lives in their hands. Dr. McCarthy presents this story in a fresh, fun way, with a lot of humor…so much so that there were times that I forgot I was reading a non-fiction story. I loved that the author was honest about his experience, showing his mistakes as well as his accomplishments.

What I didn’t Like: The pacing was a bit slow at times and it wasn’t “unputdownable” but I always enjoyed it when I picked it up to read.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review.

Within These Walls by Ania Ahlborn Review

witwPlot: Horror, Mystery, Psychological Thriller

Judging the Cover: This cover jut screams “creepy ghost story” to me and I love it!

Plot according to Goodreads: With his marriage on the rocks and his life in shambles, washed up crime writer Lucas Graham is desperate for a comeback. So when he’s promised exclusive access to notorious cult leader and death row inmate Jeffrey Halcomb, the opportunity is too good to pass up. Lucas leaves New York for the scene of the crime—a split-level farmhouse on the gray-sanded beach of Washington State—a house whose foundation is steeped in the blood of Halcomb’s diviners; runaways who, thirty years prior, were drawn to his message of family, unity, and unconditional love. Lucas wants to tell the real story of Halcomb’s faithful departed, but when Halcomb goes back on his promise of granting Lucas exclusive information on the case, he’s left to put the story together on his own. Except he is not alone. For Jeffrey Halcomb promised his devout eternal life…and within these walls, they’re far from dead.

My thoughts: This story pulled me in from the beginning and didn’t disappoint in any way. There was a point when the scariness of the book caused me to resolve only to read it during the day.

The Good: The story revolves around a cult leader named Jeffrey Halcomb who is in prison for murder of a follower. Jeffrey’s family of followers was very similar to the Manson family (who the author references a few times in the book). I’ve always been fascinated by cults and the way people are able to persuade others to do outrageous things…it’s a very scary thought and the fact that this happens in real life is terrifying.

The author is a gifted storyteller. The imagery in the book is very clear and the premise, although it reminded me of the Manson family, was very original compared to the other books I’ve read.

There were a few twists and that I didn’t see coming and the ending was a surprise (which I loved).

What I didn’t Like: There were a few moments that could have been edited out due to relevance but it didn’t really bother me.

My rating: 4 1/2 stars (out of 5)

I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

House of Echoes by Brendan Duffy Review

imageGenre: Horror, Adult Fiction

Judging the Cover: I was drawn to the cover and it persuaded me to request the book from NetGalley. I’ve always thought that there was something creepy about the woods so I found this cover intriguing.

Plot according to Goodreads: A young New York City couple with a boy and a baby in tow, Ben and Caroline Tierney had it all…until Ben’s second novel missed the mark, Caroline lost her lucrative banking job, and something went wrong with 8-year-old Charlie. When Ben inherits land way upstate from his grandmother, the two of them began to believe in second chances. But upon arriving in Swannhaven, a town that seems to have been forgotten by time, they’re beset by strange sights and disconcerting developments…and they begin to realize they might have made their worst mistake yet. But what dark secret is buried in this odd place? And will Ben and Caroline figure it out soon enough to save their young family?

My Thoughts: I want to preface this review by saying that I read this as I was getting into a reading slump so I don’t think I had as much patience for reading as I normally do. This story felt like something I’ve seen many times before…family needs to escape the city and moves into a huge house in the country but strange things begin to happen when they get there. I found the story to be extremely slow moving and couldn’t connect with any of the characters (I didn’t even feel like the characters were connecting with each other). I decided to put it down permanently at the 46% mark. I really tried to commit to it but I had no interest in the plot whatsoever. This wasn’t the book for me.

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld Review

enchantedGenre: Adult Fiction, Literary Fiction

Judging the Cover: This is a truly beautiful cover that represents the story well.

Plot according to Goodreads: The enchanted place is an ancient stone prison, viewed through the eyes of a death row inmate who finds escape in his books and in re-imagining life around him, weaving a fantastical story of the people he observes and the world he inhabits. Fearful and reclusive, he senses what others cannot. Though bars confine him every minute of every day, he marries magical visions of golden horses running beneath the prison, heat flowing like molten metal from their backs, with the devastating violence of prison life.

Two outsiders venture here: a fallen priest, and the Lady, an investigator who searches for buried information from prisoners’ pasts that can save those soon-to-be-executed. Digging into the background of a killer named York, she uncovers wrenching truths that challenge familiar notions of victim and criminal, innocence and guilt, honor and corruption-ultimately revealing shocking secrets of her own.

Publication Date: March 4, 2014

Number of Pages: 237

My thoughts: I love books that cause me to reconsider some of my thoughts on hard hitting and moral issues. This was one such book. There are a lot of things going on in this short book: focus on a death penalty investigator and priest, the life of a prisoner on death row, the life of a new prisoner, some magical realism aspects, and several other issues. I am truly amazed at how the author was able to fit so many storylines into this small book without making it feel rushed or condensed.

The Good: I have always gone back and forth about my personal beliefs on the death penalty. This book caused me to spend a lot of time considering this option and seeing other facets to the issue that I had never fully considered. One thing I really appreciated was that I never felt as though the author was pushing her personal beliefs on the subject into the book. She presented both pros and cons to the issue and allowed the reader to make their own judgements. The death penalty is a very difficult issue and the author handled it brilliantly. I also found the sub plots of the story (what was happening within the prison apart from death row) to be fascinating and extremely disturbing at times. The imagery was perfect and I could easily picture this old stone prison and the people housed in it. The ending was perfect but also left me feeling even more confused with what I believe in regards to the death penalty (which is a good thing).

What I didn’t Like: I wasn’t a fan of the magical realism included in this book. I understand what the author was trying to convey with it but I found myself skimming over those sections. I also found it difficult to connect to the characters, which could have been intentional on the part of the author…in a way it seemed like you could find these characters in any prison.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood Review

imageGenre: Non-Fiction, Religious

Synopsis According to Goodreads: Being a mom usually means being busy. Really busy. Whether you’re zipping from your children’s piano lessons to their next ballgame or nursing a baby while comforting a toddler, life is brimming with activities. Yet one encounter can help shape every moment: time in the Word with Jesus. In Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood, you’ll learn how to nourish your own heart, mind, and soul with the wisdom you need to become the mother you long to be.

Publication Date: March 17, 2015

My thoughts: As a busy mom, it can often be extremely difficult to find time alone with God. This book really helped me do that. This devotional is comprised of 11 weeks of studies with 5 days of lessons per week. The lessons are interactive in that there are questions that have blank spaces below for the reader to answer. One of my favorite things about the setup of this book is that all of the Bible verses are written out in each lesson. This is a nice time saver. The back of the book has some nice features including 12 important verses or moms to memorize and 12 topical verses for children (some of the topics include joyfulness, obedience, and faith). There is also a study guide at the end to use in small groups or for more personal reflection.

As far as the lessons go, I found them to be very beneficial and helpful to spiritual growth. The writing style is very easy to follow and the author seems very relatable. I have had many moments in my life as a mother when I felt like I was alone in this journey. This book helped me to remember that I’m not alone and that being a mother is one of the most important roles in life.

My Rating: 5/5 stars. I would definitely recommend this book to any weary mom out there who longs to grow closer to God.

I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review.