Sunday, April 26, 2015

Featured Book: Here Comes Another Lesson by Stephen O'Connor


About the book:
STEPHEN O’CONNOR IS ONE OF TODAY’S MOST GIFTED AND ORIGINAL WRITERS. In Here Comes Another Lesson, O’Connor, whose stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Conjunctions, and many other places, fearlessly depicts a world that no longer quite makes sense. Ranging from the wildly inventive to the vividly realistic, these brilliant stories offer tender portraits of idealists who cannot live according to their own ideals and of lovers baffled by the realities of love. 

The story lines are unforgettable: A son is followed home from work by his dead father. God instructs a professor of atheism to disseminate updated Commandments. The Minotaur is awakened to his own humanity by the computer-game-playing "new girl" who has been brought to him for supper. A recently returned veteran longs for the utterly ordinary life he led as a husband and father before being sent to Iraq. An ornithologist, forewarned by a cormorant of the exact minute of his death, struggles to remain alert to beauty and joy. 

As playful as it is lyrical, Here Comes Another Lesson celebrates human hopefulness and laments a sane and gentle world that cannot exist.

About the author:
STEPHEN O'CONNOR is the author of two collections of short fiction, Rescue and Here Comes Another Lesson, and of two works of nonfiction, Will My Name Be Shouted Out?, a memoir, and Orphan Trains: The Story of Charles Loring Brace and the Children He Saved and Failed, narrative history. His fiction and poetry have appeared in The New Yorker, Conjunctions, TriQuarterly, Threepenny Review, Poetry Magazine, The Missouri Review, The Quarterly, Partisan Review, The Massachusetts Review, Fiction International, and many other places. His essays and journalism have been published in The New York Times, DoubleTake, The Nation, Agni, The Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, The New Labor Forum, and elsewhere. He is a recipient of the Cornell Woolrich Fellowship in Creative Writing from Columbia University; the Visiting Fellowship for Historical Research by Artists and Writers from the American Antiquarian Society; and the DeWitt Wallace/Reader's Digest Fellowship from the MacDowell Colony. He lives in New York City and teaches fiction and nonfiction writing in the MFA programs of Columbia and Sarah Lawrence. For additional information, please visit:www.stephenoconnor.net

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Featured Book: A Load of Old Bones by Suzette A. Hill


About the book:
A delightfully whimsical debut mystery that provokes nearly as much hilarity as whodunit.
















About the author:

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Guest Post: Paddy Fievet author of The Making of a Mystic

Paddy Fievet, Ph.D., author of The Making of a Mystic, stopped by to share with us an article she wrote.






About the book:

A “modern mystic,” public speaker and teacher, author Paddy Fievet reveals her dramatic spiritual transformation in her new book, The Making of a Mystic: Writing as a Form of Spiritual Emergence.

Delving into Fievet’s riveting memoir, readers discover the modern mystic within themselves as they learn how to use writing to connect with Spirit and realize their own sacred life stories.

A gifted intuitive with a Ph.D. in Metaphysics, and a member of Spiritual Directors International, the author illuminates a path to divinity and self-empowerment in The Making of a Mystic.





About the author:

Born so deep in the South that the Okefenokee Swamp was in her backyard and swatting mosquitoes was a local pastime, Paddy Fievet is a happily married, free-spirited, modern mystic who understands intuition as the language of the soul. The author of five books (three of which were previously published, WHEN LIFE CRIED OUT is currently released, and MAKING OF A MYSTIC is to be published later this year), her writing has an interesting introspective twist along with a strong mystical aspect, appealing to adventurous spirituality seekers. Like Thomas Edison, she successfully discovered 10,000 things that would not work in her life before she finally had a profound "light bulb" moment: Life is a Sacred Story.

During an intense spiritual awakening, she traveled extensively, experiencing profound mysticism in Ireland, a soul's journey in Auschwitz, the feminine spirit in Malta, and Unity while sitting in the Great Pyramid. During these and more insightful spiritual experiences, she gradually understood joy, authenticity, and love are truly experienced from the inside out. Paddy's studies include a PhD in Metaphysics with a focus on the integration of mind, body and spirit.

For more about Paddy Fievet as well as her blog of assorted spiritual meanderings, her writing groups, and speaking engagements, visit her website at www.paddyfievet.com.



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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Review: Wishful Thinking by Kamy Wicoff

Jennifer Sharpe is a divorced mother of two with a problem just about any working parent can relate to: her boss expects her to work as though she doesn’t have children, and her children want her to care for them as though she doesn’t have a boss. But when, through a fateful coincidence, a brilliant physicist comes into possession of Jennifer’s phone and decides to play fairy godmother, installing a miraculous time-travel app called Wishful Thinking, Jennifer suddenly finds herself in possession of what seems like the answer to the impossible dream of having it all: an app that lets her be in more than one place at the same time. 

With the app, Jennifer goes quickly from zero to hero in every part of her life: she is super-worker, the last to leave her office every night; she is super-mom, the first to arrive at pickup every afternoon; and she even becomes super-girlfriend, dating a musician who thinks she has unlimited childcare and a flexible job. But Jennifer soon finds herself facing questions that adding more hours to her day can’t answer. Why does she feel busier and more harried than ever? Is she aging faster than everyone around her? How can she be a good worker, mother, and partner when she can’t be honest with anybody in her life? And most important, when choosing to be with your children, at work, or with your partner doesn’t involve sacrifice, do those choices lose their meaning? Wishful Thinking is a modern-day fairy tale in which one woman learns to overcome the challenges—and appreciate the joys—of living life in real time.

Received for review.

This was an amusing read even for those of us who are not mothers.  Everyone always has too much to do and not enough time to do it in and this offers some amusing insight into the problem.  

While the time travel aspects were not entirely accurate it's a fun element and very different and made the story less traditional whiny WASP Chick Lit and (oddly) more realistic.  

I didn't particularly like Jennifer as a person and wouldn't like to know her in real life but the story was well written enough to keep my interest throughout.

Overall this is a light, entertaining read that is perfect for the beach and I certainly recommend it.

★★★☆☆ = Liked It




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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Author Interview: Rev Jerry Kofi Tutu author of Spiritual Photosynthesis

Rev Jerry Kofi Tutu, author of Spiritual Photosynthesis, stopped by for an interview.



Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My Name is Jerry Kofi Tutu. I am a TV Evangelist and host of the TV program "Amazing Grace". I have been in the ministry for almost two decades. I am married with four kids.


What do you do when you're not writing?

I work as a Surgical Technologist and host my weekly TV program.


When did your first start writing?

I have always wanted to write but I started putting action to my intent in 2011 when I started transcribing some of my TV shows. My first book was published in 2013 and I have two more books to be published this year.


Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?

Yes, the Bible and then Napoleon Hill's "Think and Grow Rich" It is my all time best besides the Bible.


What inspired you to write this particular book?

To share the revelation that I received from the Lord with others. The principles discussed in my book are principles that I have applied and seen massive results in my own life. I sincerely believe that anybody can apply these principles with great results.


What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

My favorite chapter is chapter 9. It is my favorite because it is the turning point where the book shifts gear from discussing the teachings of Jesus Christ in 3 parables to focusing on the seven principles derived from the 3 parables. These principles are so practical that I really enjoyed sharing it with everyone.


What is best writing advice you can give?

Take your time and pour out what is within you. You have to be in the right frame of mind.


Is there anything else you'd like your readers to know about the book?

This is a book that teaches you how to prosper in every area of your life. Many people think about money when they hear prosperity but it is more than money. It involves a lot more than money. In my book, I teach you to become prosperous in all areas of life - family, professional. marital, financial, health and peace of mind. Basically, how to enjoy all the nine riches in life.



About the book:

We live in a universe of laws, which comprises spiritual and natural laws governed by a system of order. Spiritual law represents the fundamental patterns of nature that God has set in motion to govern the universe. To every spiritual law, there is a natural expression; and to every natural law, there is a spiritual counterpart. They are parallel to each other, and as human beings, we live in the parallel worlds of both. Our Lord Jesus Christ spoke many parables to illustrate spiritual laws by employing physical attributes and elements. In one of those parables, He likened the Word of God to a seed, and the hearts of men to the ground or soil where the seed is planted. Jesus used this parable to explain spiritual photosynthesis, which has a natural expression, whereby planted seeds use water and energy from sunlight to manufacture their food. Photosynthesis is very important to the survival of all living organisms. Without it, there would be no life on planet earth. So, if the Word of God is the seed, and the human heart is the soil, what make up the water and the light, which the seed needs in order for spiritual photosynthesis to take place?



About the author:

Rev. Jerry Kofi Tutu is a TV Evangelist and the host of the Christian television program, "Amazing Grace" that broadcasts in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut in the U.S.A. He is an anointed bible teacher with deep revelation insight, whose ministry has blessed thousands of people throughout the world. He is an associate Pastor in one of the fastest growing churches in the New York metropolis. As a Surgical Technologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery - NY, the number one orthopedic hospital in America, Rev Jerry Kofi Tutu combines biblical and scientific understanding to present powerful teachings that cut across a wide variety of issues. He is married to Becky Ama Tutu, and they are blessed with four children: Shardey, A.G, Nana, and Nshera Tutu.




Featured Book: One for the Books by Joe Queenan


About the book:
An absolute must-read for anyone who loves books In Closing Time, Joe Queenan shared how he became a voracious reader to escape a joyless childhood. Now, like many bibliophiles, he fears for the books that once saved him. In One for the Books, Queenan examines the entire culture of reading and what books really mean in people’s lives today. What does it suggest if a person has no books displayed in his living room? Can an obsession with reading prove detrimental to one’s well being? How useful are covers in selling books? Queenan’s many fans—as well as anyone who loves books and reading—will want to join him on his unforgettably funny and moving journey.







About the author:

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Review: The Pacesetter by Jerry M. Fisher

Who was responsible for the these Great American Landmarks: The Indy 500, The Dixie Highway, The Lincoln Highway, Miami Beach and Montauk New York?

Received for review.

While dryly written and quite long this was actually a rather enjoyable read.  

Frankly I had never heard of Carl Fisher before reading this but I had, of course, heard of his accomplishments - if not tying them to the man himself.  It was very interesting to read about the man behind the curtain.

Fisher was not a particularly lovely person and had quite unsavory business dealings, but he did accomplish a great deal in his lifetime and for that one can forgive rather a lot.  I really liked that the author did not try to portray a kinder, gentler version of the man and instead told his story will all his various virtues and flaws on full display.

Overall, this is a dense and dry read but if you can make it through it's a wealth of information on a virtually unremembered man.  I really appreciated the numerous photographs reproduced throughout the text which really helped to put faces to the people in the stories.  While I wouldn't rush out to get this if you are interested in the subject it is sure to be an informative read.


★★★☆☆ = Liked It




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Monday, April 20, 2015

Review: Novel Interiors by Lisa Borgnes Giramonti

For those who have ever lost themselves in the stylish worlds of novels like Sense and Sensibility, The Age of Innocence, Wuthering Heights, The Picture of Dorian Gray and countless others, this design book embraces the fantasy of time and place, showing you how to bring some of those elements into your own home.

Lisa Giramonti inspires a new approach to decorating: by teaching us through the lens of worlds we may already know and love. With gorgeous photographs by World of Interiors photographer Ivan Terestchenko, aspirational quotes, and tailored reading lists, Novel Interiors reveals the essence and details of interiors mentioned in great literary works. This is a stunning, photo-driven book that shares enchanting and timeless ways to live more elegantly.



Received for review.

There was no way that I could pass this up when I saw it and I'm so glad I snapped it up.  This was such a fun read and while I may not implement many of the designs it was a joy to see how others interpreted great novels as interior design options.

My favorites, of course, were the Bohemian rooms, closely followed by the ones based on The Picture of Dorian Gray.  All were beautifully done and actually looked like they could be lived in by actual humans (and animals - I loved the sprinkling of cats in the pictures).

Overall this was a quite fun read and one that would make a lovely gift for any book loving friend.

★★★★★ = Loved It



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Author Interview: Shirley Krayden author of Throwaway Wife

Shirley Krayden, author of Throwaway Wife, stopped by for an interview.



Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Like Sarah in my book Throwaway Wife, I am a single mother and I used my experiences to flesh out her story. I have two wonderful children who are creative and supportive of my writing. They are always happy to proofread and offer suggestions and encouragement. They both love to write too.

I am an identical twin, and my twin also loves to write and be creative. When we were little some people found it hard to tell us apart. I was confused by that because I could ALWAYS tell us apart. We are very similar and yet very different people. Having a twin is a lot of fun, and I am planning on writing a future book that follows the adventures of a pair of identical twins.

I started Throwaway Wife years ago and had written about a third of the book when my computer unexpectedly crashed. I had not made a back-up copy of the story and the computer techs could not retrieve my story. I was devastated and shelved the book for a number of years, too discouraged to even try again; but the story would not die. Finally I could not keep the story inside any longer and I tried again. To my surprise, the new version was a huge improvement over the original as I changed the story and the characters.


What do you do when you're not writing?

I work as an occasional teacher teaching grades Kindergarten to eight, but for fun I paint landscapes, listen to music, read and walk in the woods. I also spend a lot of time restoring my house, and learning how to do all kinds of home repairs. As a single parent, my children also keep me busy and bring a lot of joy to my life. My sister and I have a lawn sign business where we rent out tacky signs for Birthdays and other occasions, so I have a fondness for pink flamingos. I also lead tours at a marsh and teach groups of children about all the wonderful creatures that live in marshes. I don’t mind getting dirty and I love creepy crawly critters like snakes and toads.


When did you first start writing?

I recall being a toddler, and making marks on a piece of paper, then running to my mom to see if I had made any words. When she said one mark looked like an i and another looked like an l, I was thrilled and filled the page with them. When I started school I came home after the first day and announced that I wasn’t going back there because I was furious that they hadn’t taught me to read or write! So, it is pretty hard for me to pin-point exactly when the writing began. I started very young.

I have always loved stories and story-telling and was eager to learn to read and write. I think I got my story telling abilities from my dad, because he told the most amazing bed time stories ever! Even my mother would stop what she was doing and come and listen. I wrote for a school creative writing paper in elementary school and was an eager member of the Writing Club in high school. I even wrote a perfectly awful book full of teenaged angst, drama and cliches while in high school (that I wisely burned). I took creative writing courses in college and university as well, but then got very busy and had to stop for a time…but the ideas just wouldn’t go away.


Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?

As a child every Saturday was the day my sister and I would make the trek to the library. The librarian knew us well, and granted us the privilege of being allowed to take out as many books as we desired. We would carry our books home and spend the afternoon exploring our treasures. Favorite writers in those days were Richard Scarry with his charming illustrations and stories, Eve Titus with her Anatole series, and Marguerite Henry with her Misty of Chincoteague series. As I grew older I treasured reading books by Janette Oke, Grace Livingstone Hill and Debbie McComber for their heartwarming stories of love and faith.


What inspired you to write this particular book?

The main character in Throwaway Wife was abandoned by her husband. I drew on my own feelings of abandonment and despair that I experienced when my own marriage failed, to give realism and depth to Sarah. Like Sarah, I leaned on my faith and friendships to get me through the hard times, but unlike Sarah, I haven’t got my ‘happy ever after’…yet. When my marriage failed I needed to believe in true love and writing this book helped me heal and believe in love again. I want this book to bring hope and faith to other women who have faced similar heartache.


What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

My favorite part of the book is when Sarah and Daniel must set aside their differences and work together to try to save Emma. I like how the tension builds and you end up holding your breath, waiting to see what will happen next. The characters experience raw emotions and their own fear and distress cause them to lash out at one another, but in the end they realize they are stronger when they lean on each other and on their faith. I’d tell you more, but that would only ruin the story for you. While I was writing that particular portion of the book I got so immersed that I had to get up several times and walk around and work the knots out of my shoulders and neck so I would stop clenching my teeth and tensing my muscles.


What is best writing advice you can give?

Write about situations you can relate to and draw on things that have happened to you and to people you know to make your stories believable. Don’t be afraid to throw away whole chapters and try again. I learned the hard way that revision can be your best friend.


Is there anything else you'd like your readers to know about the book?

I think that Nate’s story needs to be told. He is a very interesting character and I fell in love with him as I wrote about him. I think there is a sequel in the works.



About the book:

Throwaway Wife is a contemporary Christian romance filled with suspense, love, joy and faith, that will keep you reading until the end!

Betrayed and rejected by the man who vowed to love her forever, Sarah pregnant and alone flees to find comfort and a safe haven in the small town of Smyth’s Falls. It is a friendly little town where everyone knows each other, but Sarah is a stranger. What can she do? It is not like a lot of people are going to give a job to a pregnant stranger and how can she find a place to live with almost no money?

But then a miracle happens and Sarah finds Nate, a kind restaurant owner, who not only gives her a job, but hope for the future as well. After giving birth to a wonderful daughter Emma, Sarah starts to feel that with God’s help she can finally put her past behind her and create a good life for she and her daughter and maybe Nate as well, but then her worst fear happens…

Josh, her estranged husband shows up looking for her and he knows nothing about Emma. She had never told him she was pregnant! She knows that if Josh finds out about Emma, he will try to take away the one thing she loves most and that can’t happen.

What can she do? She is torn between two men, her daughter and what God is telling her to do. Can she trust God to help her find her way and heal her heart?



About the author:

Shirley Krayden is an author, illustrator and fine artist who lives in Ontario, Canada. She is an elementary school teacher, with a degree in fine art and a love of nature and animals. A dedicated Christian, she uses her writing to reflect the hope and joy she has found in faith.



Review: The Whites by Richard Price

The electrifying tale of a New York City police detective under siege-by an unsolved murder, by his own dark past, and by a violent stalker seeking revenge. 

Back in the run-and-gun days of the mid-1990s, when a young Billy Graves worked in the South Bronx as part of an aggressive anti-crime unit known as the Wild Geese, he made headlines by accidentally shooting a ten-year-old boy while struggling with an angel-dusted berserker on a crowded street. Branded as a loose cannon by his higher-ups, Billy spent years enduring one dead-end posting after another. Now in his early forties, he has somehow survived and become a sergeant in Manhattan Night Watch, a small team of detectives charged with responding to all post-midnight felonies from Wall Street to Harlem. Mostly, his unit acts as little more than a set-up crew for the incoming shift, but after years in police purgatory, Billy is content simply to do his job. 

Then comes a call that changes everything: Night Watch is summoned to the four a.m. fatal slashing of a man in Penn Station, and this time Billy's investigation moves beyond the usual handoff to the day tour. And when he discovers that the victim was once a suspect in the unsolved murder of a twelve-year-old boy-a savage case with connections to the former members of the Wild Geese-the bad old days are back in Billy's life with a vengeance, tearing apart enduring friendships forged in the urban trenches and even threatening the safety of his family. 

Razor-sharp and propulsively written, The Whites introduces Harry Brandt-a new master of American crime fiction.

Received for review.

You know I'm a huge fan of mysteries and crime fiction so I knew I would love this from the moment I read the description, and I did.  

The story was truly engrossing and had so many moments that had me saying "What?  But.. what?" that it had me hardly blinking as I flipped the pages as fast as I could read them.

I know it's incredibly overused but this really does have a dark, gritty, real feel to it.  You can almost taste the exhaust and feel the grime as you read.  There's an almost overpowering feeling of depression which adds such a wonderful dimension to the story.  It sounds odd, but the very darkness and weight make it just that much more enjoyable.  You can actually feel the weight lift when you put the book down and it's like you walked out of a coal mine into a perfect Spring day.

Overall, with a thoroughly engrossing mystery to solve and brilliantly written characters this is a must read for all crime fiction fans.  I definitely recommend it and look forward to reading the author's future releases.

★★★★ = Really Liked It




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