Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy

17863025From Goodreads: Not much could drag Jim Booker out of a peaceful, if lonely, retirement and back to late nights, crime scenes, and chases. Jim Booker is done with detective work and would just like to enjoy a cup of coffee on a sunny day. But when an old friend shows up with a case about an old flame, Booker can’t say no.

What starts as a missing persons case soon delivers more than he bargained for, and when Booker’s own past offers clues, it’s clear that no one else can solve this mystery. But there’s a catch: Booker was given six months to live eight months ago.

Author J.R. Rain shows us that when it seems there’s nothing left to live for, there’s also nothing left to lose. His characters will take a chance on danger, doubt, even an unlikely romance—as long as they get a cup of coffee first.


I think this novel had a lot of potential, but I was highly annoyed by the main character, which made reading it rather anticlimactic for me.  Jim Booker is dying, and I do understand that, but it seemed that every other page found him talking about his impending death, and not in a way that readers are able to sympathize with him, either. Truth be told, he was a jerk to everyone around him, so he never really endeared himself to me, and in the end, I couldn’t have cared less what happened to him, which is unfortunate.

The mystery itself was well done, and it took me a while to figure out who the murderer was, though looking back I think I should have picked up on it a lot sooner than I did.  In this respect, I think Rain did a good job presenting his murder mystery, and having a main character willing to take any and all chances due to their own impending death was a great idea.  Overall, I was highly interested in the mystery aspect of the novel, but I really would have liked to have been able to care about the main character a little in order for this to be truly enjoyable. Two stars.

2 stars

Kindle First was extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel for free, prior to its release December 1, in exchange for an honest review.

1808884322568155From Goodreads: Haunted by silence, a mute teenage girl is mysteriously given back her voice … and it is divine.

Rendered mute at birth, Portia Griffin has been silent for 16 years. Music is her constant companion, along with Felix, her deaf best friend who couldn’t care less whether or not she can speak. If only he were as nonchalant about her newfound interest in the musically gifted Max Hunter.

But Portia’s silence is about to be broken with the abrupt discovery of her voice, unparalleled in its purity and the power it affords to control those around her. Able to persuade, seduce and destroy using only her voice, Portia embarks on a search for answers about who she really is, and what she is destined to become.

Inspired by Homer’s Odyssey, SILENT ECHO: A Siren’s Tale is an epic story filled with fantasy, romance and original music.


I really liked the mythology piece of this novel and I think it’d be great for teens to read, especially if they’re studying the topic in school, or if they’re extremely interested in mythology, as many are since Percy Jackson hit the scene a few years back. From my own studies of mythology in school way back when, I knew what Sirens were, and of course, I’ve read The Odyssey AND all the Percy Jackson books, so my definition of them is a lot more refined than someone who hasn’t studied or read mythology, but even so, I learned so much more about Sirens in this novel than I ever have before, and I thought that was extremely interesting.

I think it’s safe to say that most people know Sirens have a beautiful mesmerizing voice that lures men to their deaths, but most probably don’t know why they turned evil, and I really enjoyed Freilich’s rendition of what happened after Odysseus, bringing the story into the present, captivating the reader with this tale of good versus evil.

Now, potential readers already know from the synopsis that Portia is a Siren, unbeknownst to her, and therefore she’s going to struggle immensely with the power she has. She’s going to make bad decisions, she’s going to have trouble controlling her voice and reactions, and, if her distant relatives have anything to do with it, she’ll lose her way and wreak havoc on the world. Thus, readers realize that Portia, while initially very likable, is going to do things, say things, feel things that are going to make the reader dislike her. It’s part of being a Siren. Knowing that going in helped me as I read because I knew what she was, and while I really hated some of the things she does, and she tainted my feelings about her as a character, I knew that it wasn’t her true nature, but the Siren taking over. There is an outside force at work here, and while it’s easy to judge Portia and dismiss her as evil and dislike the story, in the end, this is a novel about Sirens and their power to ruin people, so I highly stress that readers remember this, otherwise it will be extremely easy to write off the novel and dislike it due to the heroine.

Now, I’m not making excuses for Portia, and her behavior definitely put me on edge as I read. Yes, I lost some respect for her, and at points I wanted her to die off in order to stop the hurt she was causing, but… I understood where this angst was coming from, which is why I still liked the novel in the end, whereas I usually end up disliking books where I lose respect for the main character. Also, Portia isn’t always evil, and the end of the novel does bring things full circle, in a way, so I can’t actually say I dislike her.

The one aspect of the novel I did not enjoy was the verse interspersed throughout. Portia loves music, as does her beau, Hunter, and they sing to each other, a lot. As someone who doesn’t listen to music or thoroughly enjoy poetry, I struggled with this. The versus themselves seemed quite juvenile to me, and the lack of a melody I could literally hear turned these verses into rhyming poems that, to be quite honest, I would expect from an elementary/middle school child. Now, the main characters are teenagers, and I think teens probably won’t mind these verses as much, but as an adult who teaches high school, including poetry, it was difficult because not all poetry rhymes, nor should it, and, well, this aspect just wasn’t for me.

Overall, I think this was a very interesting story that many MG and YA readers will enjoy, especially with it’s mythological aspects. Three stars.

3 stars

Diversion books has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read on ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on September 10, 2013.

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