Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Book: B.O.A.T.S. by David Nesten

About the book:

Misanthropes are considered unseemly, if they are considered at all. 

They are always being told to let things go. 

But sometimes, there are reasons for misery. Roland McKnule is a young college student, an angry young man, and no fan of Hollywood phoniness. 

So when one of his best friends winds up getting an audition for a major motion picture, tagging along is not his idea of fun. 

And being forced to go with his arch-nemesis, his simple-minded roommate Steve, is just the icing on the cake.

Can Roland survive a few days amongst terrible people? 

Will it shake his whole world view...or confirm it?

About the author:

David Nesten is 26 years old and has been writing for 10 years in his spare time. With a lousy part-time go-nowhere job and living with his parents, Nesten has few chances for real happiness, short of writing novels about weirdos.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Review: The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell

Suzanne Rindell’s story of a 1920s police stenographer who becomes increasingly obsessed with a glamorous new typist reminds me at points of Notes on a Scandal and Patricia Highsmith, but has creepy charms all its own.”—The Paris Review 

Confessions are Rose Baker’s job. A typist for the New York City Police Department, she sits in judgment like a high priestess. Criminals come before her to admit their transgressions, and, with a few strokes of the keys before her, she seals their fate. But while she may hear about shootings, knifings, and crimes of passion, as soon as she leaves the room, she reverts to a dignified and proper lady. Until Odalie joins the typing pool. As Rose quickly falls under the stylish, coquettish Odalie’s spell, she is lured into a sparkling underworld of speakeasies and jazz. And what starts as simple fascination turns into an obsession from which she may never recover.

Received for review.

Very rarely do I read a book that leaves me so confused yet oddly satisfied.  When I finished this I found myself thinking "I have no idea what just happened but it was awesome!".  I still have no idea what to think about it but I really enjoyed it nonetheless.

The story is very well written and completely captures your attention from the very first page.  The story is a bit confusing and difficult to follow at times but that's all intentional.  It throws you off just enough to make you wonder just why you're still reading when you have no idea what is going on, yet makes you want to read more ... and more.

Despite the incredibly small and difficult to read text I devoured this amazingly quickly.  It just has that certain something that makes it irresistible and impossible to put down.

While I did not identify with any of the characters, and I found both Rose and Odalie both annoying, the story was compelling enough to keep me reading.

If you are looking for a completely different and unclassifiable read then this is it.  It's one that you simply will not be able to put down and I definitely recommend it!

★★★★ = Really Liked It

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Featured Book: The Studio by Walter F. Todd With Stacey Todd

About the book:

When Walt’s eye and heart are captured by two beautiful but damaged stained glass panels, he couldn’t have dreamed of how they would impact the course of his life. The Studio is the story of Walt’s journey with the art of stained glass, as he and his daughter enroll in a class with the idea of repairing the panels, but soon find themselves completely immersed in this fascinating craft, with Walt, who never considered himself an artist, even showing and selling his work. But when Walt is 69, life has some unexpected surprises for him. The expected death of his loving mother is followed by the tragic death of Sandy, his beloved wife of 40 years, and shortly after that, his brother. Walt stays focused during this year of loss—and then he and his daughter Stacey embark on a year-long adventure of travel and spending, leaving a lifetime of penny-pinching behind. Their wonderful trips to Canada, Scotland, Ireland, and the Caribbean culminate in a memorable Christmas in Hawaii. The road ahead has another detour in store for Walt, as Stacey’s unexpected illness causes him to pull up his roots in Washington and move to southern California to help her. Through it all, Walt’s love of art and the joy he finds in his studio help him to keep his perspective, and find inspiration and a reason to carry on during the hardest times. This candid, warm memoir will resonate with everyone who has experienced love and loss…and everyone who has found their center in a creative pursuit.

About the authors:

Walter Todd was born in Brooklyn, New York and has written many short stories, often including family history, ski trips, family cars, his love for dogs, and many other adventures. He currently moved from University Place in Washington State to Los Angeles, California, and enjoys reading, traveling, photography, creating stained glass art and writing.

Stacey Todd is an actor, artist, photographer, dog lover, and author. She is a graduate of Marymount College and Loyola Marymount University with majors in theater and philosophy. She currently lives in the Beverly Hills area of Southern California.

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Book: Philosophical Fragments Of Your Ancient Name by Doug Bentley

About the book:

A Journey of Self-Discovery into the Sanctuary of Your Soul - and Beyond!

An eclectic compilation of thoughts, musings, rants, observations, fears and hopes, Philosophical Fragments Of Your Ancient Name takes you on a journey of self-discovery from the outer edges of our solar system to the sanctuary of your soul - and beyond!

The book is divided into three parts: on Science, Christianity and Mysticism. Like adjacent letters in a word which are distinct from each other but follow underlying patterns the fragments assembled in it are puzzle pieces which each reader’s imagination must juggle and fashion. And you need not be a scholar or an expert in any of these fields to enjoy it. For this is a book written by 'everyman' for 'everyman.'

My goal is that by the end of it the reader will have fitted together a few more fragments of our always already here changeless original face: the face we all share, the face of humanity itself. For our ancient name is none other than the name we all share. That name is 'everyman;' 'everyman'- he who speaks by the authority of being a human being, an authority in which we all participate.

About the author:

Doug Bentley lives quietly in Vancouver, Canada.

He is the author of four books currently available in digital and soft cover formats at major online retailers and ebookstores worldwide:

a journey of self-discovery into the sanctuary of your soul - and beyond!;

one of the best kept secrets in Canadian English Poetry today;

GO -21st Century Existentialism in an Absurdist Theme:
a full-length 4 Act play based on the landmark play by Samuel Beckett, Waiting For Godot;

GRAIN -Mystical Poems:
an English sonnet sequence of 28 classic love poems and one long contemplation on death and dying.

Review: The Conscious Leader by Shelley Reciniello

Why do things go wrong in companies that shouldn’t? 

The answer, according to Dr. Shelley Reciniello, often lies deep beneath the surface in the unconscious processes of leaders and their employees. 

Working as a sort of psychological detective, her job has been to consult with organizations and individuals to figure out what the real problem is when a poised for success corporate initiative fails, when a promising individual or team can’t perform, or when a well-conceived departmental project doesn’t deliver. When what has gone wrong doesn’t make sense, she looks for the unrecognized, underlying psychological issues that caused the problem. What’s going on unconsciously, out of awareness, is often more important than what is happening on the surface. 

How can you wake-up and become conscious of secret motivations, unrecognized Achilles heels, and hidden agendas in yourself and your employees? 

The Conscious Leader describes the nine most fundamental but often neglected truths about human beings and their workplace behavior in jargon-free, accessible concepts and examples. With humor and inspiration, Dr. Reciniello provides you with the principles and practices necessary for conscious leadership which you can immediately apply in your organizations.

Received for review.

If you enjoy psychological studies then this is the perfect book for you.  It delves into the reasons why people do things and will give any supervisor reading it a lovely warm, fuzzy feeling that he now understands the people under his control.  

However, this was written both by and for people who have never actually had lower positions in the workplace so they have clue what it's actually like for the people working for them.  The book presents some nice ideas and they are clearly well thought out, but they are simply not effective.  Yes, they sound wonderful but they just aren't applicable in the real world.

So, if you are a manager looking for some insight into manipulating your employees this may be a good read, but just don't expect it to actually translate into real results in your organization.

★★★☆☆ = Liked It

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Featured Book: A Christmas Embrace by Margarita Felices

About the book:

A Model Christmas. Did Ashley make a terrible mistake leaving the man she loved to pursue her career? She’s home for Christmas and about to find out. 

A Christmas Dance. Christmas is the time to be with your loved ones, but not for Jane this year. Christmas will never be the same when you’re left alone. But this year a promise will come true. 

The Christmas Gift. Maya didn’t do Christmas, but this year she’s met Nick and it feels like he’s the perfect gift. But Nick holds a very dark secret and after he leaves Maya with a special gift, she’s anxious to repay him for it.

About the author:

I live in Cardiff with my partner and three little mad dogs and I work for a well-known TV broadcasting company. I love living in Cardiff because, for all its modernisation, there are still remnants of an old Victorian city. I love writing and base my stories in Cardiff because it has such character. When I can, I go out to the coast and take photographs, mind you, we have a lovely castle in the city centre and a fairytale one just on the outskirts, so when I feel I can't write anything, I take a ramble to those locations and it clears my head.

I suppose it was inevitable that some day I would write a novel. My teachers at school used to limit me to no more than ten pages. When I left school, I wrote short stories for magazines, and it paid my way through college. I am Gothic, I love the fashion, the architecture and the music. The club in my novel is real. When I was writing book one, I got all my club material and clientele from here, I wouldn't have finished that section without it.

Review: Dead Behind the Eyes by Brock Car

Newly promoted CEO Max Riley boards the corporate jet in Denver. When it lands in Omaha he is dead - murdered by an unseen assailant. As the people closest to Max are investigated we learn relationships are rarely what they seem. While police compile the hard evidence, private investigator Claudia Sullivan seeks answers she will find only by examining the deeper psychological mysteries that are more difficult to solve. Like why Max - a good man and loving father - put his children through such mental torture. Or, what turns bad behavior for some into chronic obsessions for others? 

The stories of infidelity, sexual addiction, devoted spouses, and the privilege that comes with power are both touching and tragic. As much a whydunit as a whodunit, Dead Behind the Eyes weaves a patchwork of compelling stories and relatable characters that explore why some of us are strengthened by adversity and others fold.

Received for review.

I liked the idea of this book more than the actual reality.  The story was intriguing and very well done but it did not create any sort of emotional connection with the characters.  It felt like reading about a true crime story or watching a documentary.  It was interesting, but easy to put down.  There was nothing compelling enough to keep me reading.

I did enjoy that the story covered everything from the circumstances before the murder to the murder itself, and through to the trial and its aftermath.  It was an interesting choice and added to the story.

The resolution was quite unexpected but, frankly, rather disappointing.  By that point I just didn't care anymore.  I didn't care who murdered Max or why, I just wanted the book to end.

Overall, this was a decent read but not one that will keep you up late at night reading past your bedtime.

★★☆☆☆ = Just Okay

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Featured Book: Tame the Wild Land by Patrick Shannon

About the book:

In the year 1700, a young French Army Captain sets foot on the Gulf Coast of our continent, trudges off into the wilderness and becomes one of this country's overlooked Founding Fathers. Warrior, explorer, intimate friend of the Indian nations, imprisoned twice for smuggling, Louis Juchereau de St. Denis was the driving force in the settlement of French Louisiana and Spanish Texas. In the Novel, "Tame the Wild Land", the drama of his remarkable life is portrayed. After enduring extreme hardships and risking his life for the King of France, he becomes disillusioned and dedicates the rest of his life to his two remaining loves: Louisiana and the beautiful Manuela. But the impetus that repeatedly places him in harm's way is the dilemma his colony faces: to keep Louisiana French, he must insure that Texas remains in the hands of his Spanish adversaries. The book is a fictional treatment of a period in our history that is somewhat neglected: the role played by France and Spain in the taming of wild America.

About the author:

Patrick Shannon is a direct descendant of his book’s protagonist, Louis de St. Denis, which gave special meaning to the writing of Tame the Wild Land. His three previous books have won five literary awards. Born and raised in Southern California, he currently resides in Montana. He is 82 years old and still writing.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Featured Book: A Holiday From Time by John Mero

About the book:

Turtle is desperate for a holiday. He has been holding the world’s timepiece, a clock, on his back for so long that it is now stuck to his shell. 

His friend Frog agrees to carry the clock while Turtle is away on vacation. But Frog catches a terrible cold, and each time he sneezes, the clock jumps forward—causing utter chaos in People Land. 

Meanwhile, Professor Hare, whose job it is to keep the clock running smoothly, races to find a cure for Frog’s cold, but can he set things right before Turtle returns? 

Find out in this delightfully illustrated story, where time has gone mad!

About the author:

John Mero is a writer and storyteller who enjoys creating characters kids can identify with and a sense of excitement and action. A Holiday From Time was co-written by his wife Ros and two children, Bonnie and Cal.

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