Saturday, May 31, 2014

Review: Under the Jeweled Sky by Alison McQueen

A breathtaking story of forbidden love and devastating consequences...

The moment Sophie steps onto India's burning soil, she realizes her return was inevitable. But this is not the India she fell in love with ten years before in a maharaja's palace. This is not the India that ripped her heart out as Partition tore the country in two. That India, a place of tigers, scorpions, and shimmering beauty, is long gone.

Drawing on her own family's heritage, acclaimed novelist Alison McQueen beautifully portrays the heart of a woman who must confront her past in order to fight for her future.

Under the Jeweled Sky deftly explores the loss of innocence, the urgent connection in our stars, and how we'll go to find our hearts.

Received for review.

I've always found the subject of the British in India fascinating so I was particularly interested to read this.

While this was a bit on the longer side at just about 400 pages it zipped right past because you're completely drawn into the characters's world from the very first page.  It was a beautifully written period piece about love and loss and everything was so gorgeously described in detail that I can absolutely imagine a movie adaptation in the future.

I highly recommend this to historical fiction fans, especially those who enjoy the Indian setting.

★★★★ = Really Liked It

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Friday, May 30, 2014

Featured Book: Our Stress is Killing Us by Gary R. Bickford

About the book:

While we all go about our daily lives, we're under more stress than ever before – and that stress is killing us! Our Stress is Killing Us: Money-Back Guaranteed Solutions offers simple, common-sense ways to identify stress and mitigate the damage it can do.

Low-levels of controlled stress can actually be good for us: It helps drive us to achieve. However, low-level stress can quickly move from minor stress that encourages productivity to damaging, high-level stress that can threaten health and well-being. Many people are not aware of when they've crossed that dangerous threshold. And many, despite an abundance of research into the dangers of stress, are unaware that there are easy, money-saving solutions available to them to keep stress and its damaging effects at bay.

During his 40 years in health care, author Gary Bickford has observed first-hand the devastating toll stress can take on the body, and had developed ways to combat it. His stress-bursting techniques help improve overall health, increase energy and deal with almost every aspect of life negatively affected by stress. He's so confident his methods will work; he's backed his book with a money-back guarantee.

About the author:

Gary Bickford has decades of experience presenting seminars to healthcare professionals about the health damage of undue stress. As a family nurse practitioner, he has witnessed the emotional and physical damage stress causes his own patients in emergency rooms, retail clinics, and his own clinic, and his suggestions have worked for hundreds of people to increase their overall health.

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Featured Book: Mentor Me: Ga=t+e-A Formula to Fulfill Your Greatest Achievement by Ken Poirot

About the book:

Happiness. Success. Motivation. Influence. Inspiration.

We all want to have success and happiness in every area of our lives, as well as be a positive infl uence and inspiration to other people. But too often, we get lost in our resolutions to do just that, having no idea where to start or how to get there. Successful life coach Ken Poirot provides answers in this groundbreaking book, Mentor Me: GA=T+E-A Formula to Fulfill Your Greatest Achievement!

In Mentor Me, you will discover:

  • How to formulate a plan to achieve your dreams
  • Your personality style and how it relates to the personality styles of other people
  • How to most effectively learn new information, motivate yourself, and others
  • The two most powerful words in the English language and how to put them to work for you
  • The best-and most effective-way to handle any conflict in life
Mentor Me delivers what other books only promise: real world strategies, techniques, and information that produces proven results! Easy-to-implement directives and personal life illustrations combine to provide readers with the pathway to success they have only previously dreamed about. Begin reading and following the plan found in Mentor Me today and step-by-step, you will transform your life!

About the author:

Ken Poirot is a financial professional with over eighteen years’ experience as both a successful financial advisor and sales manager. As the senior vice president and sales manager for Frost Investment Services, the brokerage department of Frost Bank (NYSE:CFR), he led his department to four consecutive years of double-digit revenue growth, increasing revenue by over 83 percent while substantially increasing the profit margin. During these same four years, the financial advisors he coached increased their individual production from an average of less than $25,000 in revenue per month to over $41,000. Additionally, he has consistently increased sales by double digits as a regional manager at various other firms, including Guaranty Bank and JPMorgan Chase.

After graduating from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, with a degree in microbiology, Ken Poirot moved to Houston, Texas, to pursue his Ph.D. studies in cancer research at MD Anderson Cancer Center through UT Health Science Center. Following his development of a new drug delivery system for an existing drug, Camptothecin, for which he is credited with a US Patent.

Review: Twisted Sisters by Jen Lancaster

Reagan Bishop is a pusher. A licensed psychologist who stars on the Wendy Winsberg cable breakout show I Need a Push, Reagan helps participants become their best selves by urging them to overcome obstacles and change behaviors. An overachiever, Reagan is used to delivering results.

Despite her overwhelming professional success, Reagan never seems to earn her family’s respect. Her younger sister, Geri, is and always will be the Bishop family favorite. When a national network buys Reagan’s show, the pressures for unreasonably quick results and higher ratings mount. But Reagan’s a clinician, not a magician, and fears witnessing her own personal failings in prime time. (And seriously? Her family will never let her hear the end of it.) Desperate to make the show work and keep her family at bay, Reagan actually listens when the show’s New Age healer offers an unconventional solution…

Record Nielsen ratings follow. But when Reagan decides to use her newfound power to teach everyone a lesson about sibling rivalry, she’s the one who will be schooled.

Received for review.

I just love Jen Lancaster and when I saw she had a new book I simply had to read it!  I don't know how she does it, but she just keeps getting better and better with every book!

This is not your usual Chick Lit.  It's warm, funny, and incredibly touching.  The author is obviously brilliant at writing the humorous bits but the book really makes you think as well.  At its heart it's a witty commentary on modern life.  Think Gilmore Girls in book form.  You simply cannot go wrong with it.

I highly recommend this well written, incredibly funny book.  Fans of Erma Bombeck and Helen Fielding will find it thoroughly enjoyable!

★★★★ = Really Liked It

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Featured Book: How the Octopus Got Eight Arms by Yvonne Arroyo

About the book:

When Oscar Octopus meets—and is smitten by—the lovely Sharkey McGhee, they begin to date: strolling the ocean floor arm in arm, dining out, and going to the movies.

Shortly after their fairy tale wedding, they are blessed by eight offspring.

The trouble is that Oscar doesn’t have enough arms to hold them all!

In this delightfully illustrated book, you’ll discover how Oscar adjusts to the demands of family life…and how the octopus got eight arms!

About the author:

Yvonne Arroyo spent 32 years as a bilingual Spanish teacher for the Chicago and Trenton school systems. She has written several poems and chants for children and currently lives in Vacaville, CA.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Featured Book: The Surgeon's Apprentice by Richard Longfellow

About the book:

Alex is a ditzy but adorable final-year medical student, whose sex life seems doomed to fantasies about Hollywood hunks and abuse and misuse of the mirror in his bedroom. Then along comes blond and blue-eyed Will, all sinewy muscles, a gorgeous face and a top orthopaedic surgeon to boot, but equally hopeless when it comes to love. Their first encounter in his clinic is almost ruined by an embarrassing incident with a pair of disposable briefs, but mutual attraction prevails and brings them together.

When ghosts from Will's past threaten their future together and all looks lost, Alex devises a plan to save Will’s reputation.

But will love be enough to save the day and win Alex the man of his dreams? Or will he be doomed to eating his favorite apple crumble all alone-–with lashings of crème anglaise, of course.

About the author:

Richard Longfellow lives and works in London, Great Britain where he works as a doctor. When he's not tending to his patients, he enjoys stroking his two cats, movies with happy endings and opening the very best champagne, although not necessarily in that order. His favorite male movie stars include Brad Pitt and Hugh Jackman.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Featured Book: Success Against All Odds by Regina Ozoemela

About the book:

Don’t let the obstacles in your life discourage you from accomplishing your goals!  In Success Against All Odds, you’ll discover the secrets behind finding inspiration and success in your life and career.  This simple, easy-to-implement guide will teach you how to: 
  • Set positive intentions that inspire you every day so your past does not determine your future;
  • Create alternatives, because the power to change our lives lies within each of us, as does the power to realize our dreams; and
  • Find and secure your ideal career using five proven steps.
Plus useful tips and practical advice at the end of every chapter to put these practices into motion.

This is a great time to begin a more successful life. Why not start now?

About the author:

Regina Ozoemela is a lifestyle and career coach, author, and contributing author of two international bestsellers. After struggling for years as a poverty-stricken and divorced teen mother of three in Nigeria, Regina is passionate about helping men and women who feel stuck in their career and life to break through the perceptions, environment, and mind-set that hold them back from true happiness. By transforming hardship into opportunity, and persistence into achievement, she naturally inspires others to do the same. Regina and her husband live in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Featured Book: Blood Line: Secrets by The Tale Monger

About the book:

Fifteen-year-old Aaron Hawke stands astride two medieval worlds—that of mortal man, and that which mortal man condemns. He fears both who he is and what he is becoming. Cursed from his birth to mysterious parents and forced to conceal a sorcerer’s nascent power, Hawke does not believe his fragmented life can get any worse. But he is not the only one with secrets. An enemy, powerful beyond the young man’s imagination, planted the seeds of his death long before he was born. And the harvest is near.

As the reaper attempts to claim his prize, Hawke is catapulted into the treacherous darkness of the world he fears, not knowing if he will ever again see the light. Surrounded by lies, betrayal, and death, and at the risk of his very soul, Hawke faces his foe, ready to do battle. But neither he nor his enemy counted on the dragon…

Rich in adventure, intrigue, conflict, and fantastic beasts, this epic novel takes place at the end of the 14th century in the remote Whele Fell of Northumbria, England, near Hadrian’s wall. Long abandoned by royal decree, the Fell was feared as the hideout of cutthroats and the spawning ground of ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy creatures—where only the very brave or the very foolhardy dared to venture.

About the author:

The Tale Monger tutors history, literature, and college entrance exams, as well as learning kids to write real good. Over the years he has written plays, sketches, and short stories, but Blood Line —Secrets is his first novel.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Featured Book: Copycat Love by David Carlyle

About the book:

Everett Weston is a no-good troublemaker. A worthless has-been at the age of eighteen. He is continually in trouble at school and provokes his mother and father often.

When he runs away from home and hitches a ride with a man named Slim, he finds himself in Jupiter—a small town with a big heart. Eventually he lands a job and marries a lovely woman.

But Everett is not able to fully appreciate his life and is not always a pleasant man to be around—and when his son is born, it appears that Dan will follow in his father’s selfish footsteps.

Either fate or coincidence leads Dan to Maggie, a wonderful woman who is determined to steer her husband away from his father’s patterns and turn him into a true blessing to the people of Jupiter.

About the author:

David Carlyle was born in rural Johnson County, Missouri, graduated from MU in Columbia with a BS in chemical engineering, then from ISU in Ames with a PhD in chemistry. He later taught at Odessa High School in Missouri and operated the family farm in Johnson County.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Review: The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood

A gritty, psychological thriller that asks the question: How well can you know anyone?

On a fateful summer morning in 1986, two eleven-year-old girls meet for the first time. By the end of the day, they will both be charged with murder. Twenty-five years later, journalist Kirsty Lindsay is reporting on a series of sickening attacks on young female tourists in a seaside vacation town when her investigation leads her to interview carnival cleaner Amber Gordon. For Kirsty and Amber, it’s the first time they’ve seen each other since that dark day so many years ago. Now with new, vastly different lives—and unknowing families to protect—will they really be able to keep their wicked secret hidden?

Gripping and fast-paced, with an ending that will stay with you long after you’ve read it, The Wicked Girls will appeal to fans of the Academy Award–nominated film Heavenly Creatures and the novels of Rosamund Lupton and Chevy Stevens.

Received for review.

Despite being the most screwed up story filled with utterly disagreeable characters that I have read lately I have to admit that I was glued to this book from the very first to the very last page.

The story was interesting and the mystery surrounding the women's earlier doings combined with their present day reunion kept me flipping the pages as fast as I could read them.  I wasn't overly fond of Amber, and Kirsty frankly nauseated me.  I felt absolutely no sympathy for either woman, and after reading the final page I was just flabbergasted by their behavior and just how incredibly, well, crazy they were.

Despite my deep dislike for the characters I quite enjoyed this emotional rollercoaster of a novel.  The author did a masterful job of keeping the tension level incredibly high throughout.  I don't think I blinked for large portions of the book!

This incredibly well written thriller is guaranteed to leave you speechless.  I definitely highly recommend it.

★★★★ = Really Liked It

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Featured Book: The Great Cloud Migration by Michael C. Daconta

About the book:

The next computing revolution is under way! Cloud Computing, Big Data, and Linked Open Data are creating the platform for the next generation of computing. These technologies are drastically increasing the capabilities of every organization that implements them. This guide will give you the in-depth understanding, insight, and practical details to enable you to craft an implementation strategy for migrating to these new technologies. It deftly explains detailed technical concepts in a manner that every manager can understand and, more importantly, leverage. At the same time, it delivers the technical details and comprehensive coverage to educate your entire IT organization—including your hardcore developers—on the fundamentals of these cutting-edge technologies. Written by a proven expert in the field, this book is a detailed roadmap for managers, architects, and developers—a must-read for every Information Technology professional. With The Great Cloud Migration, you’ll be able to master this new landscape, lead your organization into the next computing era, and reap the rewards of the Cloud!

About the author:

About the Author: Michael Daconta is the Vice President of Advanced Technology for InCadence Strategic Solutions, Inc. He is also an author, lecturer, and columnist, having authored or co-authored 11 other technical books, numerous magazine articles, and online columns. He’s also the former Metadata Program Manager for the Department of Homeland Security. Mr. Daconta has more than 25 years of development experience and has developed large-scale IT systems for an array of industries. He invented two patented technologies and is currently developing the Axon Cloud Channel, Technical Cloud Broker with a team of developers at InCadence Strategic Solutions, Inc. He holds a master’s degree in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University and a bachelor's degree in Computer Science from New York University. Mr. Daconta is also the author of Information As Product: How to Deliver the Right Information, To the Right Person, At the Right Time.

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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Review: I Always Loved You by Robin Oliveira

A novel of Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas’s great romance from the New York Times bestselling author of My Name Is Mary Sutter

The young Mary Cassatt never thought moving to Paris after the Civil War to be an artist was going to be easy, but when, after a decade of work, her submission to the Paris Salon is rejected, Mary’s fierce determination wavers. Her father is begging her to return to Philadelphia to find a husband before it is too late, her sister Lydia is falling mysteriously ill, and worse, Mary is beginning to doubt herself. Then one evening a friend introduces her to Edgar Degas and her life changes forever. Years later she will learn that he had begged for the introduction, but in that moment their meeting seems a miracle. So begins the defining period of her life and the most tempestuous of relationships.

In I Always Loved You, Robin Oliveira brilliantly re-creates the irresistible world of Belle Époque Paris, writing with grace and uncommon insight into the passion and foibles of the human heart.

Received for review.

I am the first to admit that my knowledge of art history is not extensive but the novel's cover description drew me in and I simply had to read it.

The setting of Paris in the late 1800s was just lovely and became an extra character in the novel.  The author brilliantly brought the city to life for the reader through her impeccable writing.

I knew virtually nothing about the relationship between Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas before I started reading, which was probably a good thing since I had no preconceived ideas of how it should be portrayed in the novel.  As it was I was drawn into their world and relationship and was left feeling like I truly knew them as people and would have enjoyed knowing them.

This beautiful and heartbreaking story is ideal if you are a fan of historical fiction.  If you're an art fan as well you may enjoy this even more.  I definitely recommend it.

★★★★ = Really Liked It

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Friday, May 16, 2014

Featured Book: Unearthly Tales from Space by John Sparks

About the book:

To: Authorized Personnel Only; 
Location: National Aeronautics Research Consortium (N.A.R.C.)Labs. 
From: Doctor Robert J. Guttenberg, N.A.R.C. Director. 

Attention, all personnel: Your help is desperately needed in relaying this message to anyone who will listen. One week ago, N.A.R.C. labs received an unearthly signal, emanating from the far side of the moon. The renowned Harvard graduate Dr. Sing Ann Howell can barely hold our computer together. Effective immediately, by Presidential order, a 24-hour work rotation is in effect. Project Blue Star, America's nuclear rocket, is being pulled from its ashes. Pilot training will be provided by Captain Tom Dangerfield in an effort to beat the Soviet response. Time is of the essence. We cannot allow ourselves to lose the race for this unearthly mystery...

Addendum: Over eleven hours ago, Tom Dangerfield and I encountered a woman of distinction who claims to be Anna Urisa, captain of the Guild scout ship from the planet Arseina, broadcasting the distress signal that we are now receiving. The validity of her story is unknown...our traditional beliefs and ideas may be the defining elements, limiting our ability to see the truth. I encourage everyone to see past our earthly limitations, as they may be our undoing...

About the author:

John Sparks embarked on a lifelong quest to find the origins of French radio signals in northern New York, only to discover that he lived just minutes from Quebec. Undeterred, John launched a new quest, 1950s technology to receive iPod videos. As a philosopher and freelance writer, John has traveled the United States teaching the value of passion writing, which he identifies as writing expressed as the voice of life flowing with ideas, visions, and dreams drawn into words representing the flow of the internal, touching the mind of the reader. John is an Unexploded Ordnance Technician certified by the Department of Defense.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Review: The Smart Way to Deal with Stupid People by David E. Silvey

The Smart Way to Deal with Stupid People describes an easy, 5-step process to help you "get what you want--when you want--from people who are in the way."

Please don't be offended by the title. I don't believe in calling anyone "stupid," and I want you to know that I deal with this "name calling" in the first two chapters of the book.

If you're honest, you've probably been in some extremely frustrating situations (for me, it was a cancelled flight at the airport) where you've thought, "Who put this stupid person in charge?" You've thought this (or said it under your breath) because the person in charge (i.e. airline attendant) was standing in your way and keeping you from getting what you wanted and needed (or, for me, keeping me from going where I wanted to go!) So I'm just trying to connect with the frustration that many of you feel. And that's how and why I chose my title.

In a very fun and practical way, I describe the Smart Way to deal with these frustrating situations and people. And not only do I teach you how to get what you want and need when you want and need it, but also how to help the "other" person standing in your way (yes, the one you may be thinking is "stupid") get what he wants and needs.

Experts agree that people feel anxiety stemming from fear--fear that they will not get what they want and need, and, as a result, more and more people are experiencing conflict and confrontation in their personal interactions with others.

This book addresses and meets this need by helping people capture the emotions connected to their anxiety so that they can productively get what they want and need. In a sense, its a natural alternative to anti-anxiety medication--an alternative that produces both physical and emotional health!

Received for review.

I was initially excited to read this but my excitement quickly wore off as soon as I realized that this was really just a book for rich WASPS to learn how to deal with the "help".

Granted, this does have some beneficial ideas, such as actually being clear about what you want and being kind to people, but it also has several obnoxious suggestions as well, not the least of which is to ask for a Native English Speaker when dealing with customer support people over the phone.  No, really.  He also suggested that you request an American so there won't be any cultural differences.  I'm serious.  That just ruined the book for me.  The arrogance is just breathtaking.

This may be worth a read if you have zero common sense and have never actually worked in a position where you have to deal with jerks but if you have even a hint of common sense and kindness towards other human beings you really have no need for this.

☆☆☆ = Just Okay

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Featured Book: The Nobels by Lars W. Ehrlander

About the book:

The Nobels is a romantic, historical, adventure novel that focuses on Annika Bengtson, her flamboyant, womanizing husband, Kurt Nobel and their twin sons Alex and Axel.

Billy Jones was a British sailor when he first set his eyes on Annika at the Swedish folk park, Liseberg. Billy could never forget Annika even as he grew his industrial empire; nor could he leave her destiny to chance.

The journey brings the readers to Sweden and other European countries. We will visit North America, including Fairbanks, Alaska.

The story also follows the adventures of King Alibassi from the fictional emirate of Jodassy, and readers discover how Alex and Axel inherit an empire and fourteen wives.

About the author:

Born in Sweden in 1944, Lars Ehrlander moved to the U.S. in 1965 and to Alaska in 1969. He designed and built custom homes in Fairbanks for many years. he and his wife have 3 sons, 6 grandchildren and Lars also has a daughter who lives in Sweden.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Guest Post: Joanne Brocas author of The Power of Angels

Joanne Brocas, author of the book The Power of Angels, stopped by to share with us a piece she wrote.

About the book:

The Power of Angels will take you on a journey of self-discovery and healing as you feel the love and support of the angelic kingdom all around you. Its simple step-by-step guidance, intuitive exercises, and energetic techniques will help you easily and effortlessly:
  • Discover an array of signs that angels leave to alert us to their presence.
  • Prepare your optimal energetic frequency for angelic communication.
  • Discover how to spiritually see, hear, and sense angels.
  • Activate healing power with help from the archangels.

About the author:

Joanne Brocas is a professionally trained medium, angel expert, intuitive healer, Reiki Master/teacher, and best-selling author with more than two decades of experience in afterlife communication and healing. During her childhood, Joanne communicated with her guardian angel and has maintained a very strong, clear connection with the spirit world and angelic realm throughout her life. Joanne is the founder of Chakra Medicine School of Energy Healing and Intuitive Development, helping to teach others how to develop their intuitive awareness, connect with the angels, and ignite their own healing power. Born in South Wales, Joanne now lives in Orlando, Florida, with her husband and teaches board approved healing programs and workshops nationally. Her website is

Monday, May 12, 2014

Featured Book: Another Land by David Carlyle

About the book:

In 1876, Arthur McCarty insists his daughter, Edna, leave their mansion in the Scottish Highlands and board a ship to Rochester, New York, to further her education. Edna is headstrong and unwilling to leave her father, but she obeys his wishes and makes the journey to New York, where she eventually meets and marries John Paterson. They have a son, Erroll, but a tragedy leaves John to raise Erroll alone. He also finds himself raising a little girl, Kenzie Cox, abandoned by her mother. When the children are five years old, John takes them to Inverness, Scotland, in search of a better life. John's new boss is abusive, and their new life is one of poverty, intrigue, and physical danger. After John’s death, Erroll takes over his father’s job. Kenzie and Erroll fall in love and marry, and when Erroll is fired, he and Kenzie walk more than 120 miles to Glasgow Port—hunted and hungry. They are helped by friends along the way and are finally able to board a steamer back to New York after 25 years away. Another Land is the first of a two-book, four-generational saga about one family whose strength, love, and Christian faith carry them forward despite the obstacles in their path.

About the author:

David Carlyle was born in rural Johnson County, Missouri. He graduated from MU in Columbia with a BS in chemical engineering, then from ISU in Ames with a PhD in chemistry. He later taught at Odessa High School in Missouri and operated the family farm in Johnson County.

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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Review: Obama Confidential by Marc Berlin

In this outrageous collection of "letters" to the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, we're offered a startling inside look at what's on the minds of Americans today. From celebrities as diverse as Warren Buffett, Bill Clinton, and Steven Spielberg, to anonymous everyday citizens like the minimum-wage waitress in Oklahoma and a dry cleaner named Al Kayda in Wisconsin, Obama hears it, and gets it, from everyone. And when you're the president, absolutely no subject is off-limits. An ex-student in Illinois is drowning in an ocean of debt; a harried housewife in Wyoming has dubious ideas about how to save hard-earned pennies; while a gun owner in Tennessee vigorously defends his right to bear arms. Even a Harvard classmate re-appears, with a not-so-subtle demand for money. Obama, who's obviously a very busy man, sometimes answers with a brief innocuous letter of his own. Echoing another classic of U.S. history, Alexis de Tocqueville's 'Democracy In America', 'Obama Confidential' offers a vivid, consistently amusing snapshot of America in the second decade of the 21st century, with hilarious results.

Received for review.

At first glance this appears to be a real collection of letters from citizens to President Obama but it's not.  The letters are all made up by the author.  Which is amusing, but sort of takes away from what you would think the book would be.

As fake letters they are reasonably amusing and the President's "replies" are a nice touch.  The captioned photos throughout don't add a whole lot to the letters but do provide a break from the letters.  Thankfully this is a fast read, otherwise it would quickly become annoying.

Overall, this was mildly amusing at best, but probably not what one would expect from reading the cover description.

★★☆☆ = Liked It

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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Review: Why Are You So Sad? by Jason Porter

Have we all sunken into a species-wide bout of clinical depression?

Porter’s uproarious, intelligent debut centers on Raymond Champs, an illustrator of assembly manuals for a home furnishings corporation, who is charged with a huge task: To determine whether or not the world needs saving. It comes to him in the midst of a losing battle with insomnia — everybody he knows, and maybe everybody on the planet, is suffering from severe clinical depression. He’s nearly certain something has gone wrong. A virus perhaps. It’s in the water, or it’s in the mosquitoes, or maybe in the ranch flavored snack foods. And what if we are all too sad and dispirited to do anything about it? Obsessed as he becomes, Raymond composes an anonymous survey to submit to his unsuspecting coworkers — “Are you who you want to be?”, “Do you believe in life after death?”, “Is today better than yesterday?” — because what Raymond needs is data. He needs to know if it can be proven. It’s a big responsibility. People might not believe him. People, like his wife and his boss, might think he is losing his mind. But only because they are also losing their minds. Or are they?

Reminiscent of Gary Shteyngart, George Saunders, Douglas Coupland and Jennifer Egan, Porter’s debut is an acutely perceptive and sharply funny meditation on what makes people tick.

Received for review.

This was surprisingly entertaining and a very fast read.  It favorably reminded me of the beginning of Office Space with its dark humor.

The idea of Ray's anonymous survey of his coworkers was brilliant!  It made for an especially entertaining read as you got to go inside everyone's heads and see what they were thinking.

This funny, yet thought provoking novel is an excellent debut and I look forward to future releases from the author.

★★★★ = Really Liked It

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Friday, May 9, 2014

Featured Book: Blueberry Bubble Gum by Mahamad Ali Elfakir

About the book:

Get ready for adventure!

School's out, and Max is gearing up for a summer of baseball with his friends.

He's expecting fun in the sun and long, lazy days.

But to his surprise, he finds himself transported to a strange and wonderful world after chewing magical blueberry bubble gum-bubble gum his parents warned him not to chew!

Join Max in his adventures through Blueberry Bubble Gum World and meet the fascinating creatures who live there-the Blueberry Boy, King Erudition, and the lumpy, moldy green evil Waywards. 

Will Max learn his lesson and find his way home? Find out in this thrilling journey!

About the author:

Mahmad Ali ElFakir was born in Detroit, Michigan in January of 1975. He is an entrepreneur who works hard for his family. He is blessed with his wonderful wife and amazing children. Blueberry Bubble Gum was inspired by his children and is his first of many books to come. He says, "A child's imagination can inspire anyone."

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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Review: The Juice Lady's Remedies for Stress and Adrenal Fatigue by Cherie Calbom

Don’t let stress ruin your health.

Fight back with these all-natural juice remedies.

You don’t have to suffer with the effects of stress and exhaustion. By simply adding more raw food to your diet, you increase your intake of essential nutrients and decrease the harmful effects of stress and adrenal fatigue on your body.

With recipes and recommendations for healing teas, juices, and smoothies, this quick-reference guide helps you naturally repair, rejuvenate, and reclaim your health. You also get valuable tips on stopping stress and adrenal fatigue at the source, including:

  • The connection between chronic stress and adrenal fatigue
  • Practical ways to lower your stress levels
  • Nine common symptoms of adrenal fatigue
  • Seven steps you can take to combat stress eating, and more!

Received for review.

Juicing is not normally my thing but I was drawn to this book because the author does not take the extreme vegan food views that many juicing advocates seem to embrace.  The author suggests that you choose healthy, whole, organic foods whenever possible, including grass fed beef and cage free eggs.

I really liked how she explained her ideas about how foods interact with our bodies and can help restore our bodies to optimum condition.  Her diet suggestions are intelligent and well researched, and with the exception of eliminating ALL sugar from the diet (no artificial sweeteners either) I found them to be quite reasonable.

The juicing recipes included in the book look easy to make and yummy, especially the Summer Corn Chowder.

Overall, this was an interesting book and every reader should be able to take away some useful ideas to implement in his or her own life.

★★★★ = Really Liked It

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Featured Book: Kid Ninja and the Notorious Nine by ML Hollaway

About the book:

Meet Kevin Kulbreath, a fifth-grade student who is humiliated, beaten up, and threatened by bullies every day at school. He imagines defending himself, but in reality, he never manages to do so. One day after school, Kevin finds a Green Hornet videotape, and becomes fascinated by the character of Kato, as played by Bruce Lee. Kevin’s admiration of Kato causes Kato to come to Kevin in a midnight dream, in which Kevin is crowned Kid Ninja. This special event causes Kevin’s confidence to flourish, and he takes on the school bullies, defending himself and others. Now that the school is free of bullies, Kid Ninja discovers another problem…a theft from the school. Kid Ninja knows he can’t take this on alone, so he holds auditions for nine other kids with karate skills to assist him in his quest. As the children come together, they realize that bullying is for losers. They take an oath to stop bullying in its tracks at home…and maybe even all over the world! Kid Ninja and the Notorious Nine provides a strong anti-bullying message, and will inspire you and your kids to take a look at the massive, growing bullying epidemic. What action can you take to prevent bullying? Join Kid Ninja in his pledge to make the world safe for kids!

About the author:

Kid Ninja and the Notorious Nine author ML Hollaway is a fan and reader of all children’s books. The author of two books, with a master’s degree in legal studies, Hollaway’s main goal is working with Congress to implement a children’s bill of rights. Currently, she is writing her third book, Kid Ninja and the Notorious Nine Go to China.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Review: How to Build an Android by David Dufty

The stranger-than-fiction story of the ingenious creation and loss of an artificially intelligent android of science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick

In late January 2006, a young robotocist on the way to Google headquarters lost an overnight bag on a flight somewhere between Dallas and Las Vegas. In it was a fully functional head of the android replica of Philip K. Dick, cult science-fiction writer and counterculture guru. It has never been recovered.

In a story that echoes some of the most paranoid fantasies of a Dick novel, readers get a fascinating inside look at the scientists and technology that made this amazing android possible. The author, who was a fellow researcher at the University of Memphis Institute of Intelligent Systems while the android was being built, introduces readers to the cutting-edge technology in robotics, artificial intelligence, and sculpture that came together in this remarkable machine and captured the imagination of scientists, artists, and science-fiction fans alike. And there are great stories about Dick himself—his inspired yet deeply pessimistic worldview, his bizarre lifestyle, and his enduring creative legacy. In the tradition of popular science classics like Packing for Mars and The Disappearing Spoon, How to Build an Android is entertaining and informative—popular science at its best.

Received for review.

Having read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? I found the idea of an android based on the author especially intriguing so I was excited to read this.  Unfortunately, this tale behind the real-life android fell a bit short of my expectations.

The author does a lovely job of comprehensively covering the android building process from the initial development stages to its actual building and use.  This comprehensiveness is educational but not entertaining.  The story is very, very dry, despite sprinklings of photographs throughout.  It really reads more like a textbook.

If you can stay awake long enough this is actually a very interesting true story, especially for Phillip K. Dick fans, and I do recommend it.  Just have a shot of espresso (or three) before you begin reading.

★★☆☆ = Liked It

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Monday, May 5, 2014

Featured Book: Tales From the Dry Side by Christine Molloy

About the book:

Approximately four million people in the United States have Sjögren's syndrome, a chronic illness which is extremely difficult to diagnose, and even more difficult to treat. Sjögren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease characterized by an overactive immune system that targets moisture-producing glands in the body. It manifests itself in multi-system dryness potentially affecting every system in the body including, but not limited to, the eyes, mouth, joints, lungs, nervous system, liver, kidneys, and bladder. People with Sjögren's often go undiagnosed for years, their symptoms dismissed by doctors or classified as psychosomatic. All the while, the patient is increasingly unable to participate in daily life.

Written by Sjögren's sufferers from various regions of the United States and Canada and including a foreword by Steven Taylor, CEO of the Sjögren's Syndrome Foundation, Tales From the Dry Side offers up the stories of thirteen courageous men and women who share their journey with diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment of Sjögren's, as well as candid portraits of how this illness has affected their families, their personal lives, and their careers. Each first-hand account brings the reader through the medical maze that each contributor has had to navigate in their quest for wellness.

This book brings hope and comfort to the millions suffering from Sjögren's syndrome and to those who suffer from any of the eighty other identified autoimmune diseases, as well as to anyone faced with overwhelming obstacles.

"Books like this are a wonderful opportunity to have the Sjögren's story come to life. I am humbled by those patients that are willing to tell their story. Women and men who are willing to stand up, share their struggles and their triumphs as they manage this confusing and common, yet unknown disease." - Steven Taylor, Chief Executive Officer, Sjögren's Syndrome Foundation

About the author:

Christine Molloy, a writer, registered nurse,and Sjögren's patient, is a native of western Massachusetts, where she currently resides with her husband Chuck,and their basset hound mix, Molly. She has two stepchildren, Stephanie and Dan. Christine graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She is the author of the blog Thoughts and Ramblings on Life, Love, and Health (

Her greatest hope is that this collection of essays will help ease the suffering of those who are on the challenging journey of living with Sjögren’s syndrome.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Review: Pigsticks and Harold and the Incredible Journey by Alex Millway

In a wry new early reader, the world’s most optimistic pig and his nervous hamster sidekick set out on an exploration to find the Ends of the Earth.

Pigsticks is the last in a noble line of explorers, and he’s decided it’s time for him to follow in his forepigs’ footsteps — with an assistant to do the heavy lifting, of course. When his help-wanted ad draws a motley crew of candidates, he chooses a hapless delivery hamster named Harold. As the unlikely duo set off from Tuptown with plenty of tea cakes in tow, Pigsticks is breathless with excitement (and Harold is struggling for breath under all the gear). But after a long trek through jungles, over deserts, and up a giant ice-topped mountain, the last crumb of cake is stolen by a herd of thieving goats, and their goal is nowhere in sight. Will they ever discover the Ends of the Earth? Could it be in the last place they’d ever think to look?

E-galley received for review.

When I saw a book about a pig and a hamster going on a "incredibly journey" it was just too good to pass up and I'm so glad I read it!

The author brilliantly captures the friendship between Pigsticks and Harold and you can feel the almost Holmes and Watson relationship between them.  They were also reminiscent of another set of famous animal friends - Rat and Mole from The Wind in the Willows, although Pigsticks does have more than a hint of Mr. Toad in him.

The story of their incredibly journey was a lovely blend of adventure and friendship and when combined with the adorable illustrations was just perfect.  I thoroughly enjoyed each and every page.  I found myself smiling many times while reading.

I definitely highly recommend this and can only hope that it is the first in a long series of Pigsticks and Harold books!

★★★★ = Really Liked It

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Saturday, May 3, 2014

Review: The Big Kitty by Claire Donally

Let sleeping cats lie…

Kittery Harbor, Maine, may not be a hotbed of criminal activity, but Sunny Coolidge and her feline companion, Shadow, have a knack for nosing out trouble. While Shadow copes with a sore paw and an irritating puppy invading his turf, Sunny gets mixed up in a financial dispute between rival vets and ex-spouses Jane and Martin Rigsdale. Sunny agrees to help Jane confront Martin about his moneygrubbing ways, only to find herself caught at the scene of a crime: Martin has been murdered.

Though Jane is pegged as the lead suspect in the investigation, Martin, with his greedy ways and his catting around, did not have a shortage of enemies. Did a scorned lover or cheated creditor put Martin down for good? It’s time for Sunny and Shadow to team up again, sniff out a killer, and clear Jane’s name before someone decides to put them to sleep, too.

From my personal collection.

I never actually thought this would happen, but this is my first ever Zero Star review.  I hated this book so much that even one star was too much for it.  Yes, it was that bad.

I am an avid cozy fan and usually love most cat themed mysteries but this turned my stomach. Not only was it offensive to cat lovers by having the one woman in the entire town who was kind to animals and rescued them be a ditzy, hoarder type, "cat lady" but it promoted animal abuse! I was frankly shocked when the main character's father started not only to make obnoxious comments towards his daughter about Shadow the cat but towards the cat as well. When the verbal abuse progressed towards actual physical abuse towards the cat and the daughter (and Shadow's supposed caretaker) not only allowed but condoned it I almost threw up.

I have no idea why an author who clearly hates animals enough to not only make derogatory comments about animal rescuers but condones animal abuse and actually promotes it in her books would write about cats.

I cannot recommend this at all and my copy is going into the recycling bin rather than passing this filth on to the library like I usually do. I certainly will never purchase another of this author's books.  I don't even want to touch one on the shelf for fear it might get its evil energy on me.

☆☆ = Hated It

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Friday, May 2, 2014

Featured Book: Inside the Real Area 51 by Thomas J. Carey and Donald R. Schmitt

About the book:

The true nature of what actually crashed in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947 remains classified. Only a select few have ever had access to the truth about what became known as Area 51. But what happened to the remnants of that crash is shrouded in even greater mystery. 

What began in the high desert of New Mexico ended at Wright-Patterson, an ultra top secret Air Force base in Dayton, Ohio. The physical evidence of extraterrestrial visitation was buried deep within this nuclear stronghold.

In spite of its rich history of military service to our nation, Wright-Patterson also stands as the secret tomb of one of the greatest occurrences in recorded history. 

But be prepared: the real Area 51-Wright-Patterson's vault-is about to be opened.

About the authors:

Thomas J. Carey has spent more than twenty years investigating the Roswell incident. The holder of a master's degree in anthropology, he is an Air Force veteran who held a top secret security clearance. He has appeared as a guest on many radio and TV shows and contributed to a number of Roswell related–documentaries. He is also coauthor, with Donald R. Schmitt, of the bestseller Witness to Roswell. Carey lives with his wife in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania

Donald R. Schmitt is coauthor, with Thomas J. Carey, of the bestseller Witness to Roswell. He is the former codirector of the J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies, where he served as director of special investigations for ten years. An internationally known investigative journalist and lecturer, Donald resides in Hubertus, Wisconsin. Paul Boehmer appeared for two seasons at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, California, where he played Oberon/Theseus in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Lucius in Titus Andronicus. He also appeared in The Constant Wife, played Banquo in Macbeth, and was Antipholus of Syracuse in The Comedy of Errors in the 2005 Summer Rep Season at the Globe. He has appeared in Sir Peter Halls's acclaimed Broadway production of Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband, Off-Broadway in the New York premiere of Miss Evers' Boys, and Off-Off-Broadway in New Yorrick, New Yorrick and End of the Day. He has appeared regionally at the Pioneer Theatre Company, Arena Stage, Seattle Rep, Huntington Theatre Company, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Cleveland Playhouse, Missouri Repertory Theatre, Walnut Street Theatre, Syracuse Stage, Berkshire Theatre Festival, and Theatre Works Palo Alto. His film and television appearances include The Good German, The Thomas Crown Affair, Star Trek: Enterprise, Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Frasier, Judging Amy, Guiding Light, and All My Children. Paul is most proud of his award-winning unabridged recording of Moby Dick. He holds a BFA in acting from Southern Methodist University and an MFA in acting from the Professional Theatre Training Program at the University of Delaware.

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