Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Review: Face the Music by Greg Anton

Overview San Francisco, 1975. Woody, an artistically brilliant, socially inept street musician, is just getting by. Inspired by Stephanie, the love of his life, he writes an amazing song that could launch his musical career. Then an unexpected betrayal leaves him fighting for his relationship, his song and his future.

Hopelessly disorganized, armed only with his guitar and unique sense of humor, Woody tries to persevere against the inequities of the music business. Passion, desperation and intense idealism propel him head-on into the challenges of surviving as an uncompromising artist. 

Face the Music is a story of love, self-discovery, and the spiritual power of music.

Received for review.

I wanted to like this, I really did, but I just couldn't.  I just didn't care about Woody as a person in the least and the descriptions of the music business and its failings left me more bored than anything.  While the writing itself was adequate the dialogue felt stiff and was often outright uncomfortable to read which did not add to the experience.

Overall, unless you really, really like reading about whiny musicians then I really cannot recommend this.

★★☆☆☆ = Just Okay

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Monday, July 6, 2015

Review: What Else Is in the Teaches of Peaches by Peaches

"[Peaches] has teamed up with her longtime tour photographer Holger Talinski to look back at a brazen career that has captured the attention of outsider artists and massive pop stars alike, ranging from Michael Stipe to PJ Harvey to Iggy Pop...Along with Holger's uncompromising, often raw imagery, the book includes stories from artists who have championed Peaches's work over the years." --New York Times T Magazine 

"One flip through the glossy new monograph What Else Is In the Teaches of Peaches is all it takes to get absorbed into the post-punk wonderland of pop culture icon Peaches." --W Magazine 

"Peaches is an attitude and a sensibility....She's iconic, and her iconography is important." --The Globe and Mail 

"What Else Is in the Teaches of Peaches, a new book of photography, attempts to capture more: Peaches onstage, backstage, in her 30-boob breastplate, on the crapper, on a cross, passed out, convalescing, performing for Yoko Ono, curled up with family, recording with Iggy Pop. It's a groupie's delight." --SF Weekly 

"For Peaches fans, the collection offers glimpses into both the public and private life of the artist who put feminist electroclash on the map. Peaches led the way, not only for other underground electronic acts like Le Tigre, Ladytron, and Chicks on Speed, but also artists that went on to major mainstream success. Would M.I.A. exist without Peaches? Lady Gaga? In her current iteration, Miley Cyrus?...In the end, [What Else Is in the Teaches of Peaches] is a reminder that Peaches, the artist and the musician...forged a vibrant, genre-bending career that continues to throb with spirit, transgression, energy, and ambition." --KQED Arts 

"The outrageous and provocative new book...presents [Peaches] as more than the onstage provocateur most know her to be; instead we see her at home with family, rehearsing, sprawled out backstage, exhausted from giving her fans the musical lunacy they crave." --Frontiers Magazine

"Peaches is ferocious, relentless, sexy, confident, and gives all of herself to her audience...She is a person who inspires." --Ellen Page, actress, from the book 

"Peaches is an incredible artist...Thank you, Peaches, for adding a long and exciting life to performance art." --Yoko Ono, from the book 

"Peaches stands tall and she is fearless. That is my definition of a hero, heroine, progressive, icon--locked in, and ready to rumble." --Michael Stipe of R.E.M., from the book 

This volume presents a mesmerizing collection of Holger Talinski's evocative and sometimes erotic photos of transgressive musical icon Peaches, on and off stage, with accompanying text by Peaches, Michael Stipe (R.E.M.), Yoko Ono, and the actress Ellen Page, best known for her lead role in the film Juno, which garnered her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

Received for review.

I'll admit that I was a bit sketchy on Peaches and her music before receiving this but I was intrigued by the concept and had to give it a try.  I'm quite pleased that I did.

This was an intriguing look in to the artist's life and work and, I really liked that the pictures weren't perfect or retouched.  This is the artist at her best and worst.  It shows her as powerful, vulnerable, joyful, and exhausted.  It's a very raw and real look into her life and is really quite emotional.

This is a must have for fans and an interesting read for those recently introduced to the artist.  I certainly recommend it.

★★★☆☆ = Liked It

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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Featured Book: Unload Email Overload by Bob O'Hare

About the book:
Email steals too much of your precious time, doesn't it? Processing email takes way too much time because we never learned to manage it effectively. We are constantly interrupted, invest countless hours in it, re-read emails that languish in our inbox, store email we don't need and suffer from email overload. Don't you agree? This book provides what you need to manage email, eliminate the overload and save your precious time. It will help you minimize interruption, overcome indecision and empty your inbox. It will help you organize priorities and manage time, so you can get your work done-at work. You can give up doing email at dinner and in bed. Good idea?

About the author:
Bob, as an engineer and computer scientist, developed computer communication systems and one of the first personal computers. After that career in digital technology, Bob did postgraduate work in organization development and founded Performance Improvement Technologies, Inc. With this company, Bob facilitates corporate change, coaches executives and provides professional development services. He emphasizes the human side of leadership. Concern by professionals and management about information overload, excess email, and productivity loss encouraged Bob to seek a solution for these issues. He researched the field and developed the MasteringEmail™ methodology to help knowledge workers, professionals, leaders and managers achieve the benefits of email without the burden. Bob wrote chapter eight of the book especially for upper management, to help them explore productivity issues that cost corporations millions of dollars annually. To help companies change email culture and apply the MasteringEmail™ principles, Bob designs and facilitates workshops and coaching sessions to meet their needs. Bob and his wife, Carol, two married children and three grandchildren, live and work in the Philadelphia area.

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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Featured Book: The League of Delphi by Chris Everheart

About the book:
History's darkest secrets hide in plain sight. One of the freshest new voices in the world of young adult suspense, Chris Everheart confirms that he's here to stay with this fast-paced, ingeniously plotted, unputdownable thriller. 

A lone teen, a suspicious death, an ancient conspiracy. The first book of the gripping new Delphi series, The League of Delphi draws you in, takes you on a tense and thrilling ride, and leaves you wanting more. 

Ten years after his father's mysterious death, 17-year-old Zach secretly returns to his wealthy hometown in search of answers. Why did his mother move him away then go into hiding to die alone? Why did she change his name, forbidding him to ever reveal his true identity? Why was he never allowed to return home? 

Left with nothing and no one, Zach is desperate to reconnect with this seemingly "perfect" town. But something isn't right. When a local teen commits suicide and no one seems to care, Zach's hopes collapse into disenchantment and suspicion. Ashley, a local teenager on the fringe, piques his interest with whispers of a secret committee controlling the lives of everyone around them. Could it be true? Together, Zach and Ashley delve into the hidden life of the town and discover a dark connection to Ancient Greece and the Oracle at Delphi. Their suspicions are confirmed - but the conspiracy is more terrifying and dangerous than they ever imagined... 

The League of Delphi is "...suspenseful, engaging, imaginative." Fans of Charles Benoit (You; Fall From Grace) and Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games) will instantly connect with Chris Everheart's "visual" storytelling style and relatable characters. The League of Delphi delivers a fascinating thriller filled with nerve-wrenching suspense that confounds the reader to the very end and solidifies Everheart's status as one of the hottest newcomers to hit the shelves.

About the author:
A recovering reluctant reader turned award-winning author, I try to infuse every book - for young readers and adults alike - with a visual storytelling style that keeps the reader on the edge of their seats and turning pages. Fifty percent of my childhood was spent staring out a classroom window, wondering what was going on "out there." I daydreamed about interesting places, fascinating people and exciting adventures. As a reluctant and struggling young reader, my hunger for stories was fed mostly by TV and movies. I still haven't read all the classics (I promise I will eventually). PRIDE AND PREJUDICE wasn't on my reading list as a kid. But I distinctly remember going to the drive-in movies with my dad and little brother and seeing SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT for the first time! I wanted to LIVE in a world where a Trans Am really could jump a creek from a collapsed bridge and keep tooling down a dirt road away from the county mounties. In high school, though, I was lucky enough to be inspired by a dedicated teacher to read and connect to the arts and humanities. It opened up a world that I might otherwise never have known. I went on to study art and anthropology/archaeology in New Mexico and Minnesota and traveled throughout the lower-48, Western Canada and Alaska. My jobs have included: archaeological illustrator; art gallery manager; motion picture/TV/indy film crew, writer, director and actor; waiter; maitre d; pool boy; slime line worker (people who've worked in an Alaskan fishery know what this is). While working at an ad agency, I started writing my first book - a political thriller - because I needed to express my passion for stories but couldn't afford to go to film school. It stuck. I found that story is always lurking just below the surface of my conscious mind, so writing fiction comes very naturally to me. I got a contract to write action/adventure books for young readers and found it so easy and fun to write to my 12-year-old self (ref: "reluctant and struggling reader" above). So I write for young readers and grown ups alike - short stories, novels, chapter books, graphic novels. I still love daydreaming about interesting places, fascinating people and exciting adventures. But window gazing has gotten even better - because today I get to share my daydreams with you. Enjoy! Some of my past endeavors that prove how easily distracted I am: Award winning writer (Moonbeam, 2009); award-winning filmmaker (Shamrock Film Festival, 2008; Secret City Film Festival 2010); actor (various independent productions); former archaeological illustrator (Maxwell Museum of Anthropology), exhibits specialist and art gallery manager; continental traveler.

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Friday, July 3, 2015

Review: The Only Words That Are Worth Remembering by Jeffrey Rotter

A darkly comic, wildly original novel of a family in flight from the law, set in a near-future America -- a Clockwork Orange with a Huck Finn heart 

In a not-so-distant future, astronomy has become a fairy tale, Copernicus is forgotten, and the Earth has resumed its lonely spot in the center of the universe. But when an ancient bunker containing a preserved space vehicle is discovered beneath the ruins of Cape Canaveral, it has the power to turn this retrograde world inside out. 

Enter the Van Zandt clan, whose run-ins with the law leave them with a no-win choice: test-pilot the rocket together as a family or be sent separately to prison for life. Their decision sets off an antic and heartbreaking search for human solace in a world bent on isolation, as the Van Zandts embark on an unforgettable road trip across the ass-end of an America only slightly more dissolute than our own. 

Uniquely tying an absurdist future to gut-bucket wit, The Only Words That Are Worth Remembering hauls our dark humanity into the light and shows us the precious places where it gleams.

Received for review.

This sounded vaguely interesting but I just couldn't get into it.  Most of that was due not only to the characters, who were just not engaging, but also the horrendous folksy tone the author used for the narrator.  I found myself asking, sometimes even aloud "Seriously, are you kidding me with this?".  

The story was supposed to be fun but with characters so alternately boring and annoying I didn't care what they were doing as long as it ended as quickly as possible.  Anything to make it stop.

Overall, this was not enjoyable, light, or witty read as suggested.  It was yawn inducing and grating and I really cannot recommend it.

★★☆☆☆ = Just Okay

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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Author Interview: Zabre Nicholas author of Haven of Mercy

Zabre Nicholas, author of Haven of Mercy, stopped by for an interview.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I like to think of myself as an around a way type of girl. But today every girl feels that way, so I will just say that I live my life in contradiction and I love everyday of it.

What do you do when you're not writing?

I am currently deployed in Afghanistan serving with the US Military 12 hours a day, 7 days a week.

When did you first start writing?

When I was 13 my diary was my very best friend and I have been writing my BIO ever since. LOL.

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

The Coldest Winter Ever was very inspirational to me. I was very in sync to the main character. I had never heard of it until some girls told me that I reminded them of the girl in the book. I read it and I somewhat agreed.

What inspired you to write this particular book?

When I was younger I was in Job Corps and I went home on emergency. I talked to my roommate and she told me that someone had gotten a hold of my diary and the girls were passing it around like a book. From that point on I knew A BOOK MUST HAPPEN.

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

All of them, every experience means something special and they all play a key part in the woman I am today.

What is best writing advice you can give?

Be genuine and honest. Write freely you can always go back and edit.

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

It is from the heart so read it with your heart and an open mind. For those that can relate to the pages, you will be inspired. For those who cannot relate, you are in for one heck of a ride. Be ready!

About the book:

This book is an intriguing and adventurous timeline based on factual events and people from an everyday around the way girl.

As her life started to spiral out of control Zee realized that she had much to lose but more to gain if she could just get her life back on track.

After multiple episodes of love gone wrong, financial losses and dead end decisions, living her life without the acceptance or approval of others became her own definition of success.

Right or wrong she decided to do what it took as long as she remained true to herself. The chapters of her life are honest and detailed enough to keep you engaged but wanting more in the end.

About the author:

Zabre Nicholas is not the type of woman you can place in a single category. She is a loving mother, veteran, humanitarian and has now created a short story genre of her own. Classy, fun, beautiful and honest, this author and her journey is guaranteed to be the topic of many conversations.  A woman who found balance during moments of feeling lost and acceptance of herself with a side of enthusiasm for whatever cards her life may hold.  

Review: At the Corner of King Street by Mary Ellen Taylor

The author of The Union Street Bakery presents a new novel about a woman searching for a fresh start—while unable to forget the past… 

Adele “Addie” Morgan grew up in a house filled with pain and loss. Determined to live life on her own terms, Addie moves to the country and finds a job at a vineyard where she discovers stability, happiness, and—best of all—love with the kind owner, Scott. 

But an unexpected call abruptly pulls Addie out of her new and improved life. Her sister has just given birth and Addie’s Aunt Grace wants her to return home to help the family—even if it means confronting things she’s tried so hard to forget. 

When Addie arrives, she quickly realizes that she hasn’t truly let go of her former life, at least not completely. After making a surprising connection with her sister’s baby—and her sister’s ex-husband, Zeb—Addie must choose between her picture-perfect future with Scott and the family roots she thought she’d left behind for good…

Received for review.

I wanted to like this more than I did but it was just so beyond cliched that I couldn't.  Chick Lit about strong Southern women and romance mixed with witchcraft has been done so many times before in much better ways and this fell short.

I wish I could say that this is a great beach read but it's really not.  It's boring and tedious and filled with stereotypical, flat characters that you really don't care about in the least.  Not to mention that no one seems to have a full length name - Zeb, Shep, Addie - the names are beyond annoying.  

Overall, while I had modest hopes for this sadly it fell short of even those.  I really cannot recommend this. 

★★☆☆☆ = Just Okay

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Featured Book: Buried Threads by Kaylin McFarren

About the book:
A disturbing prophecy sends a treasure hunting duo on an urgent race to rescue a country in Kaylin McFarren's heart pounding new novel, Buried Threads. Full of erotic suspense and wild adventures, this is one trip that readers will never forget! 

Rachel Lyons and Chase Cohen work together as the successful owners of a treasure hunting company. But a seemingly simple assignment--to track down a priceless gem that is believed to be buried in a shipwreck deep within the Sea of Japan--takes a startling, and dangerous, turn. 

Faced with a monk's dark prophecy that a natural disaster will soon strike Japan, killing millions, Rachel and Chase must embark on the mission of a lifetime in order to uncover the three cursed samurai swords that can avert the catastrophe. Chaos ensues as their adventure takes them from shark infested waters and creepy caves to haunted hidden tombs and a confrontation with Yakuza gang members. Time is running out as the prophecy's day of reckoning draws near. Will Rachel and Chase succeed before disaster strikes?

About the author:
Kaylin McFarren is a rare bird indeed. Not a migratory sort, she prefers to hug the West Coast and keep family within visiting range. Although she has virtually been around the world, she was born in California, relocated with her family to Washington, and nested with her husband in Oregon. In addition to playing an active role in his business endeavors, she has been involved in all aspects of their three daughters' lives - taxi duties, cheerleading coaching, script rehearsals, and relationship counseling, to name but a few. Now she enjoys spending undisciplined time with her two young grandsons and hopes to have many more. Although Kaylin wasn't born with a pen in hand like so many of her talented fellow authors, she has been actively involved in both business and personal writing projects for many years. As the director of a fine art gallery, she assisted in furthering the careers of numerous visual artists who under her guidance gained recognition through promotional opportunities and in national publications. Eager to spread her own creative wings, she has since steered her energy toward writing novels. As a result, she has earned more than a dozen literary awards and was a 2008 finalist in the prestigious RWA® Golden Heart contest. Kaylin is a member of RWA, Rose City Romance Writers, and Willamette Writers. She received her AA in Literature at Highline Community College, which originally sparked her passion for writing. In her free time, she also enjoys giving back to the community through participation and support of various charitable and educational organizations in the Pacific Northwest, and is currently the president of the Soulful Giving Foundation - a non-profit she and her husband founded and continue to support.

FUN TIDBITS She is proud of the fact that her great aunt Bessie B. Cordell, an evangelistic missionary during WWII, was instrumental in opening an orphanage in Tientsin, China and also wrote two published novels, Precious Pearl and Blossoms of the Flowery Kingdom, documenting her dangerous, harrowing experiences. She keeps a glass of wine close by while writing love scenes, Kleenex on her desk while writing heart breakers, and has been known to empty a box of chocolates when she's completely stumped. A consummate "pantser" and perfectionist, she writes and edits as she goes, and uses photographs of models and actors from tabloid magazines to visualize her characters. She loves her husband of 40 years dearly. However, if Brad Pitt or Orlando Bloom came knockin', well... their marriage just might be put to the test.

ON A PERSONAL NOTE Kaylin sat before her computer writing FLAHERTY'S CROSSING as a source of personal therapy after losing her beloved father to colon cancer. You might say she was angry at him, at God, at the world in general. However, after writing this story, she had the opportunity to really look into her soul and consider the fact that so many other sons and daughters have had to deal with similar and even worse situations. Rather than a memoir, her novel evolved into a fictional journey which brought about the resolution she needed to find. She never expected this exercise in writing to go to press, touch lives, or win literary awards. But as a result of her good fortune, she has arranged for proceeds from the sale of this book to go directly to the Providence Medical Foundation's colon cancer research department in her father's name. She's now convinced and proudly shares her belief that good things can grow out of the worst times in our lives if you just take the time to open your heart.

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