Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy











13576713From Goodreads: “Be careful what you wish for.” That’s a warning Dylan Johnson should have listened to. When his mobile tech company is bought out by Mantric Technology, a red-hot firm about to go public, it seems like a dream come true for the young entrepreneur and his partners. But the closer they get to payout, the more uncertain Dylan becomes. Something doesn’t feel right. When his colleague is found dead on what should have been their night of triumph, Dylan is determined to find out what happened. But asking questions plunges him into a digital web of deceit and betrayal that will shake everything he thought he knew…

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If you’re into corporate espionage, murder mysteries, and mayhem, then this novel is for you. What was supposed to be the merger of a lifetime for Dylan Johnson, complete with a huge payout, ends in murder, deceit, and lie after lie, leaving Mantric Technology in the hot-seat and losing money faster than it ever gained.  Filled with many intricate characters, Waite rolls out his story focusing on the upside of mergers and buyouts, eventually turning the coin and showing the downside, as we’ve all seen in recent years as large robust companies crumble from the inside out.  Though I’m not really a technology guru, I was able to mostly follow the high tech world in which our characters reside, and I enjoyed much of the story, however, certain points were a bit unbelievable for me, such as the lack of police presence and investigation into the murder of Dylan’s friend and colleague.  I also have to wonder exactly how much one duo would be able to uncover on their own in a huge company like Mantric, but then again, I’m not in a huge corporate business and, having never worked with a corporation like Mantric, I’m also not worthy of making a call concerning validity.  In my personal world, it seemed a bit strange, but certainly not too farfetched, and I enjoyed the story overall, but think those with more knowledge of the inner workings of corporations, buyouts, and technology would enjoy this more than I.  Three stars.

3 stars

Marlborough Press has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read this novel, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

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From Goodreads: What if genetic science presented a way to end the worldwide cocaine trade with the snap of your fingers? Jake MacQuilkin, the top DEA agent in Latin America, resigns after a cocaine bust leaves his fiancé dead. Jake is called back to the DEA where it’s disclosed that renegades in his agency have hatched a plot to deploy this science and end cocaine trafficking forever. If he allows to plot continue to its end he could avenge the loss of his love. But politics overrides his instincts. Instead he is instructed by his superiors to do just the opposite. Stop those who would stop cocaine and the global criminal enterprises that profit from the trade. The Eradication Dilemma is the story of a man faced with the difficult choice of seeking revenge and finding redemption or following his orders and allowing the cocaine trade to flourish..

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This was a very interesting look at the cocaine trade, a topic that I honestly don’t think about very often.  What was perhaps the most interesting was the revelation that some economies in the world actually thrive and stabilize based on this trade, presenting Jake MacQuilkin with an extreme moral dilemma as he has the opportunity to take down cocaine forever, but also doom entire populations that thrive off cocaine farming.  While this novel certainly doesn’t condone cocain trade by any means, it does present its growth in a way that I’m sure many have never thought of before—aside from being an addictive deadly drug, it is also the livelihood of many, many people in a completely legal way.

When I began this novel, I was certainly all for the destruction of cocaine plants as I only had one side of the story: preconceived notions of what my personal economy and cultural stereotypes say about the plant.  But, this novel presents the philosophical question of killing one for many, or killing many so even more may thrive, and it is a very interesting moral dilemma that our main character, Jake, is faced with; I do not envy him at all.

This is a novel that makes you think, a mixture of science, mystery, and intrigue as it all unfolds, and I enjoyed this aspect of it very much.  I would have liked to connect a little bit more with the many characters within the novel, though.  Jake and Rhonda were extremely interesting and great together, but I never truly felt like I knew them—possibly because they’re so very different from anyone I know!

This story takes place over the course of 60 days, and I really enjoyed knowing the date, time, and place each time there was a transition, however, the execution of the story was also a little difficult to follow here and there because the reader is whisked away to so many places within the text.  Luckily for me, most of the time I has no issues keeping up with Wilkerson.  It also helped immensely that he bolded the text when a change in time and location took place, though I think these transitions might have been a little more fluid and easier to understand had they been chapter breaks and not just paragraph breaks.  However, that’d make for a ton of chapters, so I do understand why Wilkerson chose this format.  Overall, this is a well-written, thought provoking book.  Three stars.

3 stars

I received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.



17859733From Goodreads: My lips are white. Sixteen-year-old Sep stares into the bathroom mirror. It’s not some weird lipstick (she never wears lipstick). Her lips are just ? white. In a panic, she digs up an old lipstick and smears it on her colorless lips. But soon, more and more white spots begin to bloom, spreading their chalky tendrils across her olive brown skin. Does she have a disease? Is she turning into some kind of freak? Sep is usually the one who knows all the answers. With a quicksilver mind and a supple body, she’s happiest when she’s delving into the mysteries of animal biology or giving herself over to sweet, hot moves in Jazz Dance Club. Unlike her best friend, Devin, she’s never been in a rush to get a boyfriend. But as the white blotches spread, her dating days ? like the endangered species she studies ? seem numbered. So when Joshua, a boy she’s always liked, makes a flirty advance, she wonders: why not grab pleasure while she can? Frank, funny, and full of passion, this is the empowering story of a strong gifted teen who, as her life spins out of control, desperately tries to prove to the world ? and herself ? that she is deeper than skin.

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This novel’s social commentary on the world’s current perception of beauty is one I think many need to read about, but especially teens. In our day and age, the toned “model body” is sought after and idolized, and anyone who doesn’t measure up, be it in weight, height, or even facial symmetry is left feeling less attractive by default, whether people tell them so or not. I see this a lot with the students I teach, and I think with all the technology and social media available today, the issue of beauty takes over tenfold because the “model body” is plastered everywhere, and one bad make-up day or hair day can be snapped by any phone and tweeted to the whole world–how mortifying. It wasn’t like this when I was growing-up, and truthfully, it never bothered me because I wasn’t exposed to the perceived conception of beauty as much as our teens are now, and for me, different was always better, which is probably one of the reason’s that I don’t fully connect with Sep’s issue with her skin.

Sep has vitaligo, a condition that depigmentizes the skin. On the first day of school, she wakes up with white lips, only to lose color quite quickly in splotches all across her body as the novel progresses. Of course, I’ve never been on the receiving end of vitaligo, so I can’t say I wouldn’t feel as mortified as Sep does, but in my old age, I do have to say that I find it quite beautiful on those I’ve met with this type of skin condition, be it from vitaligo or some other condition. But that’s me. I’m not a teenager in my prime who has to deal with how others perceive her, and I imagine it’d feel quite differently had I been in Sep’s shoes.

While I can appreciate Sep’s feelings, I feel like she sort of went off the deep end, though. Afraid she’ll never experience true love based on her looks, she goes from never been kissed to full on sex (everywhere) with her new boyfriend (who also is her first boyfriend). And I get that our teens jump into sex very quickly in today’s society, because really, that sacred act isn’t viewed as sacred anymore, but the one aspect of the story that threw me was the undertone that sex sets teens free. Sep is also a dancer, and on a few occasions she states that, since sex, she’s been more in-tuned with her body. But I disagree. I believe that she’s more in-tune with her body because she inspects is multiple times daily to see if she’s lost any more pigment, and she now knows every inch of her body. While it is true that she’s been awakened to sexual feelings, I don’t necessarily agree that it will make someone a better dancer. And, while Sep says something along the lines of not wanting to say that sex was the cause for her great dancing, it’s still pretty much what she says near the end, and for me, well, that’s not the underlying message I want teens to take away from this novel. What I want them to get is that beauty is only skin deep and, as Sep learns, there is much more to life and love than our appearance. Three stars.

3 starsAmazon Children’s Publishing has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on August 6, 2013.



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