Saturday, February 28, 2015

Featured Book: The Quest For The Jasper Oracle - Rift in Time by Christopher Craft

About the book:

For Honor and The King - The Obsidian Knights Adventures!

An action packed fantasy with the Obsidian Knights! This Adventure will have your heart pounding and keep you guessing as Cor Vos' goes on an exciting and dangerous quest.

It will take you into an alternate reality and let your imagination run wild with Dragons,Sorcery,and intense battle scenes.

The Obsidian Knights are marching in the Wildhoof Mountains on a simple training exercise when they witness a strange event. A green light has filled the sky near the small village of Bor’Un. From above on the ridge the Knights are unable to help as they see the village overrun by a strange band of unknown raiders entering through the portal that has just opened..

The Commander calls the men to action and they charge the village in hopes of stopping the raiders. Cor’Vos steps up to lead the men in this trying situation as a chain of events is set in motion that will lead the Obsidian Knights in quest of an ancient Jasper oracle and reveal important truths about Cor’Vos’ past.

Lose yourself in a wonderful world of Fantasy and Excitement!

You don't want to Miss Out! Travel With Cor Vos' and Allaire and the other Obsidian Knights as they battle evil!

You will soon be a fan of the ALL The Obsidian Knight Adventures!

So What Are You Waiting For? Download This Exciting Adventure Story Today!

About the author:

Christopher Craft began playing Minecraft, League, Clash of Clans and Yes.. many bouts of Angry Birds with his kids. Then Minecraft turned into an obsession. Clash of Clans took over his free time. And League, let's not go there....  

His books are inspired by the countless times he couldn't find a book that would catch and keep his children's attention while reading to them before bed. So he started making up adventures that kept his kids up to late. Well at least mom says he did. 

SO BE-HOLD! Adventure books with PAZAZZZ! Craft's adventure books take readers on daring raids, dangerous expeditions, and thrilling chases in worlds that span a gamer's imagination. 

If you want to be in the adventure, check out some of Craft's adventure books today.

Review: My Family and Other Hazards by June Melby

A funny, heartwarming memoir about saying goodbye to your childhood home, in this case a quirky, one-of-a-kind, family-run miniature golf course in the woods of Wisconsin

When June Melby was ten years old, her parents decided on a whim to buy the miniature golf course in the small Wisconsin town where they vacationed every summer. Without any business experience or outside employees, the family sets out to open Tom Thumb Miniature Golf to the public. Naturally, there are bumps along the way. In My Family and Other Hazards, Melby recreates all the squabbling, confusion, and ultimately triumph, of one family’s quest to build something together, and brings to life the joys of one of America’s favorite pastimes. In sharp, funny prose, we get the hazards that taunted players at each hole, and the dedication and hard work that went into each one’s creation. All the familiar delights of summer are here—snowcones and popcorn and long days spent with people you love. 

Melby’s relationship with the course is love-hate from the beginning, given the summer’s freedom it robs her of, but when her parents decide to sell the course years later, her panicked reaction surprises even her. Now an adult living in Hollywood, having flown the Midwest long ago, she flies back to the course to help run it before the sale goes through, wondering if she should try to stop it. As the clock ticks, she reflects on what the course meant to her both as a child and an adult, the simpler era that it represents, and the particular pains of losing your childhood home, even years after you’ve left it.

Received for review.

I wasn't sure what to expect at first but this sounded like an amusing read and it was, but that was about it.

This wasn't really a memoir either.  It was more of a collection of stories about her family running their miniature golf course.  The family seemed like nice people but there was nothing special or particularly interesting about them besides their business.  

The stories were amusing but they were presented in such a way that they didn't fulfill their potential.  At one point the author's sister is covered in paint and there's a bland explanation of how it happened, how it was removed, and the aftermath (the sister got extra dinner and cake that night).  There was no real feeling to any of it.

Overall, this is a light, fast read that is perfect for those who want something fluffy and fun.

★★★☆☆ = Liked It

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Author Interview: Kase Johnstun author of Beyond the Grip of Craniosynostosis

Kase Johnstun, author of Beyond the Grip of Craniosynostosis, stopped by for an interview.

What made you want too write this book?

When I first found out we were going to have a son, I was overjoyed, but, as the days got closer to his birth, I began to worry that he would be afflicted with Craniosynostosis — the birth defect I was born with in 1975 and had skull surgery to correct at eight weeks old — so I started to do research about the plausibility of passing it on to him and of putting my wife through the same emotional pain my mother had to tackle. What I found was that there was no book available that spanned the spectrum between memoir and medical research. After three years of research, traveling across the country, interviewing other families and the best craniofacial surgeons in the country, and finally pulling my mother’s story from her purposefully shelved memory, I wrote the book I wished was available when I looked into the birth defect initially. Now other families will have it.

How common are cranial defects in children?

While I can’t speak for other cranial defects, as there are many that are syndromic in nature, meaning that the defect may be tied to another syndrome, but for non-syndromic craniosynostosis, which is most common, I have found that the numbers range from 1-1,650 to 1-2,000. What frustrates me, a little, is that none of the most popular baby books even mention it. They all mention plagiocephaly (flat-head syndrome), and I believe it wouldn’t be difficult to say something like, “Ask your pediatrician to check to make sure the fontanelles and cranial sutures are wide open.” Because, unfortunately, some pediatricians still miss the diagnosis.

What treatment options are available?

From my research, I believe, and this is backed by most of the medical community, that surgery to release the fused suture is really the only option for treatment for all the sutures except the metopic suture, which is the only suture that has a grey area because it naturally closes within two years after birth — that said, many metopic sutures do need to be opened up if they close to early; this decision should be addressed by a craniofacial team made up of a neurosurgeon and plastic surgeon before a decision is made. Currently, there are two main options for surgery, and these vary in technique based on the surgeon. The first is Cranial Reconstructive Surgery (CVR): the craniofacial team, typically, removes the skull from just above the ear, breaks the skull into multiple pieces, and then reconstructs the skull with all the sutures in place, giving the brain enough room to grow outward over the next 20 years of the child’s life — there are many different techniques to do this, and much discussion about what technique is the best, but there are more than 250 surgeons in the country that are very qualified to perform surgery for craniosynostosis.

The second option is the endoscopic release of the fused suture: this is much less invasive, as the doctors make two tiny slits in the skull and then remove the fused bone, creating a suture, through those slits. Following this procedure, most babies will have to wear a shaping, protective helmet for up to a year. There is no need for a helmet with the CVR because the doctors already shaped the skull. Both of these techniques have their benefits, and which technique is used depends on the child: when he/she is diagnosed, what suture needs to be released, etc. The craniofacial team will give parents the best possible option.

How can families support parents of “cranio kids?"

They can listen and learn. The more families that know about this birth defect, the better the parents will feel less alone.

About the book:

Part memoir and part medical study, the book touches on the modern medical history of cranial sutures, as well as ancient treatments dating to the time of Hippocrates as well as surgical techniques used today to allow the brain to grow naturally. It is with great care that Johnstun chronicles the experiences of American families affected by Craniosynostosis. Each entry demonstrates the uniqueness of that case, the chosen treatment, and its result. A true testament to a second coming of age, Johnstun, now in his thirties, encapsulates a rite of passage that everyone will be able to relate to. Beyond the Grip of Craniosynostosis highlight’s one man’s quest for information, the internal conflict that arises, and the desire to break down the enormity of a situation into smaller manageable pieces to regain a sense of control.

About the author:

Kase Johnstun is an award-winning essayist. He is the co-editor/co-author of Utah Reflections: Stories from the Wasatch Front (History Press). His work has appeared nationally and internationally in journals and magazines such as Creative Nonfiction Magazine, The Chronicle Review, Label Me Latina/o, Prime Number, and as a regular contribution to The Good Men Project. He has an MA and an MFA in Creative Writing, and his set of essays Tortillas for Honkies and “Other” Essays was recently named a finalist for the Autumn House Press 2013 Award in Creative Nonfiction. He is a full-time lecturer in English at Utah State University. Learn more about Kase on his blog or on Facebook.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Review: Flight of the Sparrow by Amy Belding Brown

A historical novel based on the life of Mary Rowlandson “An authentic drama of Indian captivity…A compelling, emotionally gripping tale.”—Eliot Pattison, author of the Mystery of Colonial America series.

She suspects that she has changed too much to ever fit easily into English society again. The wilderness has now become her home. She can interpret the cries of birds. She has seen vistas that have stolen away her breath. She has learned to live in a new, free way.... 

Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1676. Even before Mary Rowlandson was captured by Indians on a winter day of violence and terror, she sometimes found herself in conflict with her rigid Puritan community. Now, her home destroyed, her children lost to her, she has been sold into the service of a powerful woman tribal leader, made a pawn in the ongoing bloody struggle between English settlers and native people. Battling cold, hunger, and exhaustion, Mary witnesses harrowing brutality but also unexpected kindness. To her confused surprise, she is drawn to her captors’ open and straightforward way of life, a feeling further complicated by her attraction to a generous, protective English-speaking native known as James Printer. All her life, Mary has been taught to fear God, submit to her husband, and abhor Indians. Now, having lived on the other side of the forest, she begins to question the edicts that have guided her, torn between the life she knew and the wisdom the natives have shown her. 

Based on the compelling true narrative of Mary Rowlandson, Flight of the Sparrow is an evocative tale that transports the reader to a little-known time in early America and explores the real meanings of freedom, faith, and acceptance.

Received for review.

I wanted to dislike this from the start since Mary was such a miserable human being but I just couldn't which is a testament to the quality of the author's writing.  She made even such a disgusting person as Mary not quite sympathetic, but at least tolerable enough to finish the book.  I did have many times when I wished I could smack the woman though.  I realize this is set in the 1600s but she's just such a horrible person even for the wacko Puritans that I was truly shocked.  Her behavior was simply unacceptable in many instances and I actually found myself hoping that she'd get sick and die.  I, of course, didn't want the Native Americans to kill her because I didn't want them to be punished but I held out hope that she would be shunned by her Puritan community upon her return and starve or freeze to death.  No, really, she was that despicable of a human being.  She had simply no redeeming qualities whatsoever.  What is possibly even more disturbing is that this was a kinder, gentler representation of her and in real life she was actually, if possible, even worse.

If you can manage to get past your disgust for Mary the story is actually quite informative and interesting.  The interactions between the natives and the invading Puritans were well illustrated and clearly had a strong level of historical accuracy.  I've never been a big fan of the Puritans and this book made my dislike for them even more intense.  

Overall this is a solid read and I certainly recommend it but be prepared for some intense emotions as you accompany Mary on her journey.

★★★☆☆ = Liked It

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Review: Love and Friendship and Other Youthful Writings by Jane Austen

Austen’s hilarious early stories and sketches—complete with her delightfully quirky spelling habits—now collected in one gorgeous clothbound volume 

Jane Austen’s earliest writing dates from when she was just eleven-years-old, and already shows the hallmarks of her mature work. But it is also a product of the times in which she grew up—dark, grotesque, often surprisingly bawdy, and a far cry from the polished, sparkling novels of manners for which she became famous. Drunken heroines, babies who bite off their mothers’ fingers, and a letter-writer who has murdered her whole family all feature in these highly spirited pieces. This edition includes all of Austen’s juvenilia, including her “History of England” and the novella Lady Susan, in which the anti-heroine schemes and cheats her way through high society. With a title that captures a young Austen’s original idiosyncratic spelling habits and an introduction by Christine Alexander that shows how Austen was self-consciously fashioning herself as a writer from an early age, this is a must-have for any Austen lover.

Received for review.

Admittedly, I'm not a huge Jane Austen fan to begin with so this clearly did not carry the same joy for me that true fans would enjoy but it was entertaining if a bit difficult to make my way through.  I did enjoy the letters as they seemed to flow a bit better than the rest and made for convenient pausing points in the rather dense text which covers over three hundred pages (thankfully, the final hundred or so pages are full of footnotes).

What really drew me to this though was the beautiful binding.  I just could not pass up the lovely ivory fabric with shoes printed on it and the burgundy endpapers.  Dedicated Jane Austen fans will find this a gorgeous addition to their collections.

★★★☆☆ = Liked It

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Review: The Accident by Chris Pavone

From the author of the New York Times-bestselling and Edgar Award-winning The Expats.

As dawn approaches in New York, literary agent Isabel Reed is turning the final pages of a mysterious, anonymous manuscript, racing through the explosive revelations about powerful people, as well as long-hidden secrets about her own past. In Copenhagen, veteran CIA operative Hayden Gray, determined that this sweeping story be buried, is suddenly staring down the barrel of an unexpected gun. And in Zurich, the author himself is hiding in a shadowy expat life, trying to atone for a lifetime’s worth of lies and betrayals with publication of The Accident, while always looking over his shoulder. 

Over the course of one long, desperate, increasingly perilous day, these lives collide as the book begins its dangerous march toward publication, toward saving or ruining careers and companies, placing everything at risk—and everyone in mortal peril. The rich cast of characters—in publishing and film, politics and espionage—are all forced to confront the consequences of their ambitions, the schisms between their ideal selves and the people they actually became. 

The action rockets around Europe and across America, with an intricate web of duplicities stretching back a quarter-century to a dark winding road in upstate New York, where the shocking truth about the accident itself is buried. 

Gripping, sophisticated, layered, and impossible to put down, The Accident proves once again that Chris Pavone is a true master of suspense.

Received for review.

I thoroughly enjoyed the author's first book The Expats so I knew this would be equally good and it was everything I'd hoped for and more.

The story was immediately engaging and left me wondering until the ultimate reveal about the identity of the mysterious author.  The revelation was brilliant, absolutely brilliant and left me actually saying "Wow!" out loud. It was that good.

It was interesting to follow the story from the various character perspectives and see how things developed for each of them.  While I never really liked Isabel as a person she was a brilliant character and very well written.  

The level of suspense was consistent and had me hardly blinking as I read.  I felt every bit of the mysterious author's anxiety as events unfolded and it made the story that much more intense.  The manuscript tidbits sprinkled throughout were delicious little bread crumbs to follow as the story progressed and I couldn't wait until the next one appeared so I could learn more of the story.

Overall, this was a brilliant and a must read for those who enjoy suspense.  Fans of Steve Berry will thoroughly enjoy this.  I highly, highly recommend it.

★★★★ = Really Liked It

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Review: New Uses for Old Boyfriends by Beth Kendrick

After growing up in privilege and marrying into money, Lila Alders has gotten used to the good life. But when her happily-ever-after implodes, Lila must return to Black Dog Bay, the tiny seaside town where she grew up. She’s desperate for a safe haven, but everything has changed over the past ten years. Her family’s fortune is gone—and her mother is in total denial. It’s up to Lila to take care of everything...but she can barely take care of herself. 

The former golden girl of Black Dog Bay struggles to reinvent herself by opening a vintage clothing boutique. But even as Lila finds new purpose for outdated dresses and tries to reunite with her ex, she realizes that sometimes it’s too late for old dreams. She’s lost everything she thought she needed but found something—someone—she desperately wants. A boy she hardly noticed has grown up into a man she can’t forget...and a second chance has never felt so much like first love. 

Received for review.

This look interesting but sadly I found it to be more than a bit disappointing.  It's perfectly fine Chick Lit but it's just so predictable that I didn't really enjoy it.

First, Lila was both annoying and boring.  I gather we were supposed to feel bad for the "poor little rich girl" but I didn't.  I just wanted to smack her.  Over and over and over again.  She was just such a bitch.  I just could not stand her constant moaning about losing her rich husband and her family money.  Yeah, it's so tough to be her.  Boo freaking hoo.  She's seriously the most self-absorbed character since Scarlett O'Hara.

If you want to read about a whiny WASP this is a great book for you.  If, however, you don't really sympathize with shallow, selfish people, then this is not for you.  While it is well written I simply cannot recommend it.

★★☆☆☆ = Just Okay

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Review: You Have to F*ing Eat by Adam Mansbach

From the author of the international best seller Go the F*** to Sleep comes a long-awaited sequel about the other great parental frustration: getting your little angel to eat something that even vaguely resembles a normal meal. Profane, loving, and deeply cathartic, You Have to F***ing Eat breaks the code of child-rearing silence, giving moms and dads new, old, grand- and expectant, a much-needed chance to laugh about a universal problem. 

A perfect gift book like the smash hit Go the F*** to Sleep (over 1.5 million copies sold worldwide!), You Have to F***ing Eat perfectly captures Mansbach's trademark humor, which is simultaneously affectionate and radically honest. You probably shouldn't read it to your kids.

Received for review.

While the author's first book was genuinely hilarious this was good but just not quite up to the level of the original.  It felt like a slightly disappointing second season of a beloved television show.

In any case, if you've read the author's first book you'll enjoy the same sense of humor here.  This is for everyone who has ever begged "Just a little bit.  Please?".   It's funny, and really rather sweet.

Obviously, this is not for children unless you're giving it to your children who already have children of their own.

I definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoyed Go the F*** to Sleep who are sure to thoroughly enjoy it.

★★★★ = Really Liked It

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Featured Book: Handwriting Analysis by David J. DeWitt

About the book:

In this book, Handwriting Analysis - Discover Your Own Vocational/Career Potential offers a new perspective not found in conventional books on Graphology. Mr. DeWitt links handwriting analysis with professional satisfaction and instructs you in the analysis of your own handwriting. It is not uncommon for individuals to labor a lifetime in an occupation that they truly dislike or to which they are, at best, indifferent. Or they might move from job to job multiple times, desperately seeking a 'career' that is edifying. Moreover, young people just entering a sparse job market might find that they have little idea of occupations that could be personally and professionally rewarding to them. The ancient Chinese philosopher, Confucius, once stated "Find a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life" ... Through this book, David DeWitt seeks to affirm this timeless advice. This book will help direct you to determine your own career potential in order that you may make the best career choice fit your personality.

About the author:

David J. DeWitt is a successfully retired Nationwide Insurance Agent, who holds the coveted professional designations: President Conference Qualifier (Nationwide's Highest Award) Past President of the Connecticut State Association of Life Underwriters Charter Life Underwriter (CLU) Charter Property & Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow (LUTCF) Mr. DeWitt is also a professional Graphologist and a certified Graphoanalyst, who shows how you can get a grasp of the fundamental rules of handwriting analysis and find out about yourself and others. Since his early years in the US Army, he has been lecturing publicly on handwriting analysis to organizations, clubs, schools and colleges. The book you are now reading represents more than eight years of research on the part of the author, including talks on "discovering your vocational potential" by applying handwriting analysis to high school and college students across New England.

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Review: It Comes in Waves by Erika Marks

For competitive surfer Claire "Pepper" Patton, the waves of South Carolina’s Folly Beach once held the promise of a loving future and a bright career—until her fiance, Foster, broke the news that he and Claire's best friend, Jill, were in love. 

Eighteen years later, now forty-two and a struggling single parent to a rebellious teenage daughter, Claire has put miles between that betrayal and that coast. But when ESPN invites her back to Folly Beach for a documentary on women in surfing, Claire decides it might be the chance she needs to regain control of her life and reacquaint herself with the unsinkable young woman she once was. 

But not everything in Folly Beach is as Claire remembers it, most especially her ex-best friend, Jill, who is now widowed and raising her and Foster’s teenage son. An unexpected reunion with Claire will uncover a guilt that Jill has worked hard to bury—and bring to the surface years of unspoken blame. 

When Claire crosses paths with a sexy pro-surfer who is as determined to get Claire back on a board as he is to get her in his bed, a chance for healing might not be far behind—or is it too late for two estranged friends to find forgiveness in the place that was once their coastal paradise, where life was spent barefoot and love was as dizzying as the perfect wave...

Received for review.

This was fairly standard Chick Lit, light and fluffy and incredibly predictable, but still a decent read.

Claire did nothing for me as a person.  I didn't care for her at all.  Who in their right mind thinks that it's a good idea to get back into contact with the bitch who stole your fiance (who then married and had a kid by him)?  Why would you possibly think that that would be an intelligent thing to do?  Claire just refuses to move on from her past.  She just wallows in it and tries to repair her relationship with her ex-best friend.  Why is she even having any contact with her?  And Jill's attitude about the whole thing is simply obnoxious.  It's just unrealistic and, frankly, stupid.

The Claire's present day romance was entertaining if, again, ridiculously predictable.  It was well written enough to make even the most far fetched bits seem fairly reasonable in the context of the story.

Overall, if you're looking for a fast, fluffy read and can suspend your disbelief over the two women's behavior this is a decent read and should be enjoyable for those who enjoy Chick Lit.

★★★☆☆ = Liked It

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

FYI: Facebook Fail

To all my friends and fellow bloggers who follow me on Facebook I just wanted to let you know that I will no longer be using Facebook.  Facebook converted my personal profile into a page so I can no longer post personal information to it such as personal pictures and posts.  I've asked for a reversal but the Facebook gods have not deigned to respond.

At this time you can still access the Facebook page for my blog but my personal Facebook is no longer available.

This is NOT because of any choice that I made, but one that Facebook decided on their own and I find it sad and extremely disappointing to have suddenly lost all the connections that I built over the past six years of blogging.

If you need to contact me you can DM me on Twitter or e-mail me.

Review: The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

A glorious, sweeping novel of desire, ambition, and the thirst for knowledge, from the # 1 New York Times bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love and Committed.

In The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert returns to fiction, inserting her inimitable voice into an enthralling story of love, adventure and discovery. Spanning much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the novel follows the fortunes of the extraordinary Whittaker family as led by the enterprising Henry Whittaker—a poor-born Englishman who makes a great fortune in the South American quinine trade, eventually becoming the richest man in Philadelphia. Born in 1800, Henry’s brilliant daughter, Alma (who inherits both her father’s money and his mind), ultimately becomes a botanist of considerable gifts herself. As Alma’s research takes her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, she falls in love with a man named Ambrose Pike who makes incomparable paintings of orchids and who draws her in the exact opposite direction—into the realm of the spiritual, the divine, and the magical. Alma is a clear-minded scientist; Ambrose a utopian artist—but what unites this unlikely couple is a desperate need to understand the workings of this world and the mechanisms behind all life. 

Exquisitely researched and told at a galloping pace, The Signature of All Things soars across the globe—from London to Peru to Philadelphia to Tahiti to Amsterdam, and beyond. Along the way, the story is peopled with unforgettable characters: missionaries, abolitionists, adventurers, astronomers, sea captains, geniuses, and the quite mad. But most memorable of all, it is the story of Alma Whittaker, who—born in the Age of Enlightenment, but living well into the Industrial Revolution—bears witness to that extraordinary moment in human history when all the old assumptions about science, religion, commerce, and class were exploding into dangerous new ideas. Written in the bold, questing spirit of that singular time, Gilbert’s wise, deep, and spellbinding tale is certain to capture the hearts and minds of readers.

Received for review.

I was unable to limp through Eat, Pray, Love and had zero desire to see the movie so I was unsure how enjoyable of a read this would be but turned out to be reasonably good.

The main problem was that I just did not care for the characters.  Alma was supposed to be interesting but she just seemed rather bland and just like the other five zillion other female characters set in the 1800s.  There was nothing compelling about her story and she wasn't particularly likable as a person either.  I just felt no emotional connection with her at all.  I frankly spent the entire book not caring one way or the other what happened to her. And her relationship with her husband was just too predictable that it was laughable, if I'd been able to laugh at that point.

The writing was good but some sections went on and on and on.  There were just large chunks of the book that simply would not end.  Then, inexplicably, the story made a sudden time jump.  Sometimes it was months, sometimes it was years.  It was incredibly frustrating.

Overall this was a decent read if not particularly wonderful.  If you've enjoyed the author's previous works I'm sure you will enjoy this as well however this is perhaps not the best book to introduce you to the author's work if you haven't read her before.

★★☆☆☆ = Just Okay

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Interview: Mehdi Toozhy author of Keys to Success at School and Beyond

Mehdi Toozhy, author of Keys to Success at School and Beyond, stopped by for an interview.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

When I was 13 I decided to explore the world and seek science. I took a train alone by myself from Germany heading north where i Ended up in Denmark. In that early age i had to deal with life challenges all my myself with no family or friends. I had to take care of myself and face life challenges. In those experience, there are lessons and wisdom that can help anybody who seek success in life.

What do you do when you're not writing?

I do swimming, walking in the nature and watch scientific documentary.

When did your first start writing?

I started writing about my journey in EUROPE after graduating from University.

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

Isaac Asimov is one of favourite author who I carried his book in my backpack when I started my journey at the age of 13 alone in europe. I also was inspired by the book: Edison, The Man Who Made the Future by Ronald Clarke

What inspired you to write this particular book?

Since my early days at University, I have been looking for a book that could make student's life easier. I realized life could be much easier if someone gave me tips to deal with school and life challenges. So I decided to write the book.

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

Chapter 4 or Fourth Key. Because it enables anybody to develop the persistent skill. Even if you don't have it, you can develop it from scratch and that will help people to be successful.

What is best writing advice you can give?

Write about something that you love. Because if you are not passionate about it then your creativity does not appear in your work.

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

It took me 15 years to reach a point to be able to write this book and 1 year to finish it. It is a book that will benefit anybody who seeks success at school and life. Enjoy it!

About the book:

Low grades, difficulty making friends & solving problems?

A book that will show you how to reach your goals faster while making your life easier.

Having helped many of his students reach top universities in the world, Mehdi Toozhy decided to write a book dedicated to helping many more to reach their goals and desired universities.

Toozhy's years of experience from different universities and unique insight into study techniques have perfected the system that have been proven in practice by some of the greatest minds in history.

About the author:

Mehdi Toozhy is a graduate from Oxford University and the renowned co-author of a scientific research paper published in the Journal of Sound and Vibration.

He placed in the top 5% of students while studying at the Danish Technical University and achieved 100% in many of his challenging technical subjects. His proven study techniques have helped many students worldwide to achieve success.

Mehdi Toozhy decided to write a book dedicated to helping many more to reach their goals and desired universities.

Toozhy's years of experience from different universities and unique insight into study techniques have perfected the system that have been proven in practice by some of the greatest minds in history.

Visit the author at

Featured Book: The Prince and the Scorpion by Dick Nelson

About the book:

Dick Nelson spins a tale of political intrigue, assassinations, and heroism. The Prince and the Scorpion is a gripping, action-packed sequel to The Trojan Horse Conspiracy by Dick Nelson. The charismatic Brad Tilsdale, former Navy SEAL, FBI agent, CIA operative and now National Security Advisor to the President, expands his influence over the U.S. government's clandestine operations, while a weak President looks the other way. While Tilsdale weaves his way through the Washington bureaucracy to head off a massive Al-Qaeda attack, his sharply etched character begins to evolve in sinister ways to show the reader the dark and ruthless side of his personality. Caught up in a passionate romantic triangle with treacherous implications, Tilsdale plots and schemes to protect the United States, often from itself. His unorthodox alliance with the two most powerful women in Washington becomes embroiled in a struggle for control of the nation's Special Operations and clandestine services, exposing layer-upon-layer of personal agendas and an insatiable pursuit of power. Tilsdale is soon forced to deal with the Iranians, as they attempt to obtain nuclear weapons, and then attack the U.S. fleet in the Arabian Sea. The mysterious disappearance of Malaysian Flight 370 is finally explained, as the Iranians attempt to strike Israel with their remaining nuclear weapons. The real story of Osama Bin Laden's fate is told with chilling detail, resulting in the creation of a shadowy organization known to its members only as the Condor Group, and operated by Tilsdale, NSA Director Melissa Clayton, and CIA Director Karen Littleton. In a final cataclysm of heartless violence and duplicity, Tilsdale's character emerges as a flawed hero who will kill without remorse in order to achieve his secretive goals, aided by a beautiful, powerful woman who is drawn irresistibly to his strength.

About the author:

Dick Nelson is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a former Navy fighter pilot. During the Vietnam War, Nelson flew the supersonic F-8E Crusader and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, 13 Air Medals, the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat V, the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with star, and other decorations. After the Navy, Nelson flew with Continental Airlines as a commercial airline pilot, and then attended the UCLA School of Law. He moved to Florida in 2005, where he worked as an attorney for the Department of Homeland Security and the FDIC. Now retired, Nelson is also the author of The Contrail Chronicles and The Trojan Horse Conspiracy.

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Review: The Italians by John Hooper

A vivid and surprising portrait of the Italian people from an admired foreign correspondent 

How can a nation that spawned the Renaissance have produced the Mafia? How could people concerned with bella figura (keeping up appearances) have elected Silvio Berlusconi as their leader—not once, but three times? Sublime and maddening, fascinating yet baffling, Italy is a country of seemingly unsolvable riddles. 

John Hooper’s entertaining and perceptive new book is the ideal companion for anyone seeking to understand contemporary Italy and the unique character of the Italians. Digging deep into their history, culture, and religion, Hooper offers keys to understanding everything from their bewildering politics to their love of life and beauty. Looking at the facts that lie behind the stereotypes, he sheds new light on many aspects of Italian life: football and Freemasonry, sex, symbolism, and the reason why Italian has twelve words for a coat hanger, yet none for a hangover. 

Even readers who think they know Italy well will be surprised, challenged, and delighted by The Italians.

Received for review.

It's very rare to find a nonfiction book that is not only interesting and educational but truly a joy to read and the author has accomplished that with this gem.

This covers everything from sex, image, and food to religion and politics and does it beautifully.  The author clearly loves the country and its people and writes about them in such a tenderhearted way that this is a joy to read.  

There are so many wonderful parts that I simply cannot list them all, but I particularly loved that section that discussed how Italians were mortified by a political candidate's wearing short sleeves under a suit coat.  Or detailing the fashion choices of various candidates's wives.  I was a bit amused until I realized that it really is bizarre to see a man's naked wrist sticking out from a dark suit coat, and that even Americans like me are fascinated by what the Duchess of Cambridge (aka Kate Middleton) is wearing.  There was also a discussion about presenting gifts and how no matter the cost it should be wrapped beautifully.  It's all part of the experience.

The section on the role of the Catholic Church in Italy was also quite fascinating.  The Church permeates the entire culture and influences so many daily choices that it can be quite startling for those outside the environment.

Overall this was a fascinating book for those who want to learn more about the Italian people and what motivates them.  It's a wonderful, beautifully written read and I highly, highly recommend it.

★★★★★ = Loved It

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Review: The Archeron Deception by Patrick F. Rooney

A Wall Street securities trader teams up with a female CIA agent to track down terrorists manipulating the stock market in this modern day espionage thriller. It begins in 1987, when the prevailing winds of Glasnost have caught the Russian leadership by surprise... catapulting the confusion caused by the impending breakup of the Soviet Union to new levels. For KGB agent Mikhail Volkov and his brother, Vladimir, the chaos provides something else altogether: An opportunity to steal four nuclear weapons from a Russian test facility. 

Sean McGowan, a software designer/trader in the securities industry, has come a long way from the trailer park where he grew up in New Mexico. He leads an exciting life now, with wealth, influence, and the company of beautiful women, until the Volkov brothers come after him to expropriate his ultra-fast derivatives trading program. CIA Agent Beate Nicholson recruits Sean to help her track down financiers manipulating the stock markets prior to terrorist strikes. But first, they must use their computer skills to thwart a massive cyber-attack against the world's banking system perpetrated through the Internet using a massive multi-player on-line role-playing gaming platform. Sean and Beate's collaboration leads them to the doorstep of a rogue's gallery of sinister figures, including white-collar jihadist Rahim Delacroix-who wreaks revenge against the infidels that killed his family; former KGB agent Mikhail Volkov and his brother Vladimir-Russian immigrants building massive fortunes in America through organized crime; and the mysterious John Napoleon-leader of the Protectorate, an environmental syndicate committed to saving the planet by seizing control of the world's resources. 

Sean and Beate watch in helpless disbelief as terrorists strike Europe. Can they connect all the dots in time to collar the villains before they inflict even more destruction?

Received for review.

As a fan of thrillers I really expected to like this one more than I did.  While well written it left a bit to be desired.  

The characters are rather stereotypical with the female government agent being ultra hot and the Middle Eastern guys wearing silk shirts and having greased back hair.  They were all sort of blah.  I just didn't care one way or another about any of them.

The story itself was interesting, and quite plausible, but it too felt a little forced.  There was lots of adventure and intrigue but since I didn't care about the characters it wasn't as powerful as it could have been.  I was mostly just bored.

Overall, this was a good first book and I'd like to see future releases from the author.

★★★☆☆ = Liked It

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Featured Book: Red Rover by Michael Springer

About the book:

A Nazi soldier is rumored missing from a Minnesota prisoner of war camp in RED ROVER, Michael Springer's long-awaited sequel to KAISER BRIGHTMAN 082314. RED ROVER is the fourth in a series of World War II adventure novels starting with THE BOOTLEGGER'S SECRET and MARK PENN GOES TO WAR. It's the summer of l945 in New Bonn, Minnesota. Thirteen-year-olds Frank Warner, Jack Steiner, and Skeeter Stark are hanging out along the river across from an abandoned German prisoner of war camp on Muskrat Island. One PW was reported missing at final muster. The boys spot something red moving on the island, think it's the escaped PW, and raft over. While they search, their raft is set adrift, and they find a warning note signed, "Red Rover." A series of harassments follow, but Red Rover eludes them. Frank's and Jack's dads have fought the enemy through Italy, France, and Germany, and now after V-E Day are stationed with the Seventh Army in Austria. They expect to participate in the upcoming invasion of Japan. Skeeter receives a posthumous letter from his war-hero brother, Buck, which directs him to a treasure map he found before going overseas. The letter was passed on to Skeeter by Buck's Ranger buddy, Wayne Hill, who helps the boys unscramble the bizarre map. After several near-misses, the boys confront Red Rover, whose identity and background are more bizarre than the map. Risking their lives, they solve the secret of the map, and discover that the word treasure has more meanings than they imagined. World War II ends as Japan surrenders. Frank's and Jack's dads come home for discharge from the Army. Life in New Bonn returns to normal. Or does it?

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Review: Emissary by Thomas Locke

Hyam is a likeable lad who will make a fine farmer someday. But he carries a burden few can fathom. As his mother slips toward death, she implores him to return to Long Hall, where he spent five years as an apprentice. It was there that Hyam's extraordinary capacity for mastering languages came to light--and soon cast him into the shadows of suspicion. How could any human learn the forbidden tongues with such ease? When Hyam dares to seek out the Mistress of the Sorceries, her revelation tears his world asunder.

He has no choice but to set out on the foreboding path--which beckons him to either his destiny or his doom. An encounter with an enchanting stranger reminds him that he is part hero and part captive. As Hyam struggles to interpret the omens and symbols, he is swept up by a great current of possibilities--and dangers.

With lyrical prose that unveils a richly imaginative world, Thomas Locke takes readers on a journey into the Realm. There he invites them to awaken their sense of wonder. This cracking adventure moves like a contemporary thriller but harkens back to the enduring genre of classic fantasy.

Received for review.

I enjoy fantasy novels but they do seem to suffer from their authors needing to show off just how intelligent they are by using virtually impenetrable language that is just not enjoyable to read and makes for slow and rather boring progress.  Unfortunately, this was one of those.  While the story itself was good the writing was just so incredibly dense I may as well have been reading Tolkien - without all the incomprehensible names or any of the deep emotion.  I seriously found myself nodding off every time I opened this.  As a soporific it worked wonderfully but that was presumably not the author's intent.

In any case, once I did force myself awake long enough to read this it really was a solid and genuinely interesting story.  While a bit predictable (elves, a coming storm, magic, etc.) it was still woven together nicely with reasonably likable characters.  Hyam, Gimmit, and Joelle were are all well designed characters but I didn't really feel much emotional connection to them so I never really became invested in their stories which was a bit disappointing.

If you enjoy fantasy then this will be a quality read for you.  I certainly recommend it and I look forward to future books in the series.

★★★☆☆ = Liked It

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Review: The Emissary by Patricia Cori

In her debut novel, Patricia Cori weaves her visionary message into a page-turning fantasy adventure that speaks to the very soul of the planet. 

Within minutes of one another, three bone-chilling events take place around the globe. In Los Angeles, hundreds of blackbirds drop out of the sky, zapped to their death, mid-flight; in Maine, miles of beach are covered in tens of thousands of dead fish; in New Zealand, 150 whales and dolphins lie dead or dying on the beach. 

Jamie Hastings, a renowned psychic researcher and telepath, forges a deep soul connection with the dying whales that leads to her troubled journey at sea as a consultant for USOIL, a Texas based oil company that's drilling in the most pristine waters of the Pacific Northwest, looking for oil—or so it seems. A bizarre unfolding of events aboard ship sparks the unraveling of a truly evil plan of a secret government that is intent upon silencing the music of the oceans and destroying all life on the planet. 

As impossible as it is to imagine anything as sinister as the shadow Jamie faces in her mission to save the earth from the doomsday weapon bearing down on the world, the fact is that it is actually happening, at this very moment, while most of the world is asleep—or simply unaware. 

One woman has been chosen to be the voice, against the forces of evil, of the cherished creatures of the sea. She is the emissary. The question is: Is there still time for her to stop it?

ARC received for review.

I wasn't sure about this at first and it turned out to be just as unfortunate as I'd expected.  Although it was a light, fast paced read it had a decided crunchy granola feel to it.  The book was clearly written with the intent of promoting the author's beliefs about saving the Earth's oceans and their inhabitants at any cost and the story felt somewhat forced at times as she tried to make the characters and their actions fit around this agenda.

Jamie wasn't even particularly likeable either.  There were constant descriptions of her beauty, talents, and wealth.  Nothing really ever went wrong for her.  I just didn't care.  There was no emotional connection there at all.  

So, while this sounded interesting it turned out to be a rather mediocre blend of psychic/spiritual experiences and environmental activism which did not make for very pleasant reading.  I really cannot recommend it.

★★☆☆☆ = Just Okay

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Review: The Housekeeper's Tale by Tessa Boase

Working as a housekeeper was one of the most prestigious jobs a nineteenth and early twentieth century woman could want—and also one of the toughest. A far cry from the Downton Abbey fiction, the real life Mrs Hughes was up against capricious mistresses, low pay, no job security and gruelling physical labour. Until now, her story has never been told. The Housekeeper's Tale reveals the personal sacrifices, bitter disputes and driving ambition that shaped these women's careers. Delving into secret diaries, unpublished letters and the neglected service archives of our stately homes, Tessa Boase tells the extraordinary stories of five working women who ran some of Britain's most prominent households. 

There is Dorothy Doar, Regency housekeeper for the obscenely wealthy 1st Duke and Duchess of Sutherland at Trentham Hall, Staffordshire. There is Sarah Wells, a deaf and elderly Victorian in charge of Uppark, West Sussex. Ellen Penketh is Edwardian cook-housekeeper at the sociable but impecunious Erddig Hall in the Welsh borders. Hannah Mackenzie runs Wrest Park in Bedfordshire—Britain's first country-house war hospital, bankrolled by playwright J. M. Barrie. And there is Grace Higgens, cook-housekeeper to the Bloomsbury set at Charleston farmhouse in East Sussex for half a century—an era defined by the Second World War. 

Revelatory, gripping and unexpectedly poignant, The Housekeeper's Tale champions the invisible women who ran the English country house.

Received for review.

Despite the author's almost overbearing feminist interpretation of the various stories this was actually a surprisingly good read.

The author seems to forget for 99% of the book that these were different women in a different time and place and that their lives and choices cannot be compared to life in the present day.  I was particularly appalled by the author's shock and horror that one housekeeper was dismissed after she requested six weeks of maternity leave.  Well, considering it was part of her job not to get knocked up when she did she should have prepared to leave her post.  She knew the consequences of her actions and deliberately decided to disregard the rules because she was clearly too good for them so she shouldn't have been surprised when she was dismissed.

The stories of the five women are certainly interesting, but the feminist slant the author lends to them is not attractive and makes for rather frustrating reading.  These stories were clearly chosen to present a view of repressed, unappreciated women to further the author's own agenda.

So, while this well written book does make for an informative read it must be taken with a very large, perhaps boulder sized, grain of salt.  I can't say that it was an entirely enjoyable read, but it was certainly educational on various levels.  While I can't particularly recommend it it is worth a look.

★★★★ = Really Liked It

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Review: The Boxed Angel by Robert DiGiacomo

On July 3, 1776, in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin's home is ransacked. A secret, ancient relic is stolen. One that Franklin does not admit to owning. 

Flash forward to modern times. Al Campo, a union worker by day, goes dumpster diving for old, discarded furniture at night. His aim is to refinish the pieces and make and display them in his home. One day he comes across an old couch and inside he finds the stolen artifact. 

As the story unfolds, sinister Jason Gull is developing a dangerous weapon that can kill its victims without any detection or apparent cause of death. He plans to auction it off to the highest bidder-and there are many foreigners willing to pay, including a religious zealot. Will Campo and the ancient artifact be able to save the world in time? 

The Boxed Angel is a suspenseful thriller in which an unsuspecting, seemingly unremarkable individual becomes involved in a life and death struggle, first by fate, then by choice. It's packed with humor, religion, intrigue, history, a love triangle, and faith in one cleverly crafted story. 

Readers who loved National Treasure and other stories that weave history into modern day life will delight in all the plot twists in The Boxed Angel. Clues are cleverly interwoven into a storyline that will keep readers guessing until the very last page.

Received for review.

While perhaps a bit slow moving at first and rather formulaic at times I couldn't help but like the story and its main character, Al.  Al's just an ordinary guy who is thrown into extraordinary circumstances and you really find yourself rooting for him.  The story is pretty standard but well written enough that you want to continue reading even though you know how it will all end anyway.

Overall, the author did a good job of weaving historical scenes with modern ones and adding a sprinkle of the supernatural to create a quite enjoyable thriller.  I certainly recommend this.

★★★☆☆ = Liked It

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Review: The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes

From the New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You and One Plus One, in an earlier work available in the U.S. for the first time, a post-WWII story of the war brides who crossed the seas by the thousands to face their unknown futures.

1946. World War II has ended and all over the world, young women are beginning to fulfill the promises made to the men they wed in wartime. 

In Sydney, Australia, four women join 650 other war brides on an extraordinary voyage to England—aboard HMS Victoria, which still carries not just arms and aircraft but a thousand naval officers. Rules are strictly enforced, from the aircraft carrier’s captain down to the lowliest young deckhand. But the men and the brides will find their lives intertwined despite the Navy’s ironclad sanctions. And for Frances Mackenzie, the complicated young woman whose past comes back to haunt her far from home, the journey will change her life in ways she never could have predicted—forever.

Received for review.

I'll admit that I love anything that Jojo Moyes writes and she has become one of my favorite new authors.  This was another excellent read that simply does not disappoint.  Just reading the description I knew it was going to be good.

The entire premise was interesting - hundreds of women traveling from Australia to England to meet their virtually unknown husbands after the war.  I found it even more interesting that the author's own grandmother was one of the women who traveled on that ship in real life.

The whole book had a decided Titanic type feel to it.  All those women with all those different stories journeying so far to start a new life.  The stories from a variety of women was so fascinating and emotional.  I really cared about these women and felt their pain and joy.  It's a testament to the author's writing ability that these women just come to life so beautifully for the reader.

This was a lovely read, as I knew it would be, but also incredibly, and unexpectedly emotional.  I highly, highly recommend it to anyone looking for an excellent read.

★★★★ = Really Liked It

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Giveaway: At the Crossroad by Olfet Agrama

AT THE CROSSROAD The decisions we take at every crossroad in our lives shape our destiny. Egypt, after the Second World War, was torn between the East and West. Occupied by the British and ruled by a corrupt King, it was inevitable that by 1952 the country would be convulsed by a military revolution. We follow four young people born during the occupation and learn how their lives and loves intertwine with the political events of their country. Nadia lives a western lifestyle, but suffers the intellectual and physical repressions imposed upon her by a conservative Moslem father. Melanie, whose mother is British, enjoys the semblance of a free and emancipated life in a world that never completely accepts her. Sammy, brought up in England, is still a product of the Middle East. He succeeds in escaping from the political restrictions of the military regime, but cannot escape his macho culture. Hassan is the victim of his ideals. His belief in the revolution is shattered when he perceives the corruption of the new government and when the Egyptian Army is defeated in the Suez Canal War. Through the adventure, romance, joy, and tragedy of our four protagonists, we get a glimpse of life in the Middle East in the fifties and sixties.

Thanks to the publicist I have one copy to give away!

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Review: At the Crossroad by Olfet Agrama

Product Details ISBN-13: 9781499035445 Publisher: Xlibris Corporation Publication date: 8/21/2014 Pages: 230 Sales rank: 1,450,080 Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.52 (d)

Received for review.

I'm a huge fan of anything relating to ancient Egypt but my knowledge of more recent political and social events is a little spottier so I was intrigued by this when I started reading.

This was an interesting, very personal look at the situations of several young people during the revolution of 1952.  It's amazing both how few and how many things have changed since then.  The author does a brilliant of creating characters that you genuinely care about and want to know what happen to.  They're beautifully complex and real and their stories are really meaningful for the reader.

This is a wonderful look into a culture which many people are unaware of and gave me a whole new, more intimate understanding of the struggles of the period.  I definitely highly recommend this and look forward to future releases from this clearly talented author.

★★★★ = Really Liked It

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Review: Silver Bay by Jojo Moyes

From the New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You and One Plus One, in an earlier work available in the U.S. for the first time, a surprising and moving romance set in an old-fashioned seaside town on the verge of unwelcome change.

Liza McCullen will never fully escape her past. But the unspoiled beaches and tight-knit community of Silver Bay offer the freedom and safety she craves—if not for herself, then for her young daughter, Hannah. That is, until Mike Dormer arrives as a guest in her aunt’s hotel. 

The mild-mannered Englishman with his too-smart clothes and distracting eyes could destroy everything Liza has worked so hard to protect: not only the family business and the bay that harbors her beloved whales, but also her conviction that she will never love—never deserve to love—again. 

For his part, Mike Dormer is expecting just another business deal—an easy job kick-starting a resort in a small seaside town ripe for development. But he finds that he doesn’t quite know what to make of the eccentric inhabitants of the ramshackle Silver Bay Hotel, especially not enigmatic Liza McCullen, and their claim to the surrounding waters. As the development begins to take on a momentum of its own, Mike’s and Liza’s worlds collide in this hugely affecting and irresistible tale full of Jojo Moyes’s signature humor and generosity.

Received for review.

Frankly, I will read anything by Jojo Moyes since she's become one of my favorite new authors so I was thrilled to discover this earlier novel release in the U.S. for the very first time.

While not quite as amazing as her later novels this was certainly a solid read.  It lacked a bit of the polish I'd normal expect from her but even with its slightly rough edges it was very well written.  There is one particularly moving scene with a beached baby whale that had me crying outright.  I felt like I was on that beach with that whale and it was heartbreaking, simply heartbreaking.

This was a delightful read full of genuinely interesting characters who you would enjoy knowing and spending time with in real life.  It's touching, smart, and wonderfully written.  I highly, highly recommend this.  It's guaranteed to make you a fan of the author if you aren't already!

★★★★ = Really Liked It

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Review: What Is Found, What Is Lost by Anne Leigh Parrish

Freddie was raised on faith. It’s in her blood. Yet rather than seeking solace from the Almighty when she loses her husband of many years, she enters a state of quiet contemplation—until her daughter, and then her sister, each come home with a host of problems of their own, and her solitude is brought to an end. As Freddie helps her daughter and sister deal with their troubles, her own painful past—a wretched childhood at the hands of an unbalanced, pious mother—begins to occupy her thoughts more than ever, as does Anna, the grandmother she’s always wished she’d known better. Freddie feels that she and Anna are connected, not just through blood but through the raising of difficult daughters, and it’s a kinship that makes her wonder what unseen forces have shaped her life. With all that to hand, a new family crisis rears its head—and it forces Freddie to confront the questions she’s asked so many times: What does it mean to believe in God? And does God even care?

Received for review.

This sounded interesting and had potential but between the incredibly boring characters and the use of the word God in nearly every single paragraph this did nothing for me.

The characters claim to be somehow better than anyone else because of their faith.  This faith allows them to abandon their families, their children, or whatever, in the name of their god and they seem genuinely shocked to realize that their actions have consequences regardless of whether they were performed in the service of a god or not.

The writing is extremely choppy and has lots of dialogue consisting of one sentence back and forths between characters which seriously affects the flow of reading and took away what little enjoyment I had remaining while reading this.

Overall, with a combination of obnoxious, holier-than-thou characters, small print, and poor writing, this is really not something I can recommend.

★★☆☆☆ = Just Okay

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Review: Blinded by Progress by Lee Van Ham

Blinded by Progress is a work of keen observation, a great deal of scholarship and an abiding care for living beings. There were many paths that we might have taken in the past that would have led to a better world than the one we inhabit. Lee Van Ham’s writing delineates a path going forward that does not repeat the illusions of progress. I hope it opens many eyes. — Paul Hawken, entrepreneur, environmentalist, and author of Blessed Unrest and Natural Capitalism 

Lee has written a book that is a hair-on-fire call to action to free ourselves from our folly of only looking at Me and moving us to We... Pronto. — Will MarrĂ©, Founder, The American Dream Project 

Turning the pages of Lee Van Ham’s new narrative nonfiction book, Blinded by Progress, releases that “ah-hah” feeling we have when truth breaks out of illusion. 

Blinded by Progress shows why MultiEarth living—living as if we have more than one Earth—grips us so tightly despite the inevitable apocalyptic consequences of living beyond our planet’s capacities. It addresses the seemingly simple, yet elusive question, “Why do we continue to pursue economic growth as if it is economic health when continued growth is ecologically impossible?” Are proponents of continued growth sinister or unconscious? Do we prefer blind faith to the obvious eyes-open truth?  

The author discloses how he unwittingly came under the spell of MultiEarth living and then, as his consciousness shifted, how he began reshaping his life to OneEarth living—a project in process. Readers will follow along with the personal quest of the author, and come to new, life-giving decisions about their own MultiEarth vs. OneEarth choices. 

Blinded by Progress makes special contributions to the global conversation now underway about sustainable living. The author clearly delineates the contrasts between MultiEarth and OneEarth worldviews. The chapter on the religious devotion given to MultiEarth economics and practices contains perspectives and content often left out of conversations on the themes treated in this book. The power that myth has to keep us practicing the illusionary MultiEarth worldview is revealed using John Steinbeck’s magnum opus, East of Eden. That novel’s use of the Cain and Abel myth provides bold guidance for our own MultiEarth-OneEarth choices. The concluding distinction between MultiEarth and OneEarth progress shows us how we got into our illusionary bubble and leaves no doubt that we have the power to choose differently. The personal journey of the author weaves in and out of the chapters, serving to illustrate the book’s themes, the subtleties by which MultiEarth progress blinds us, and the power to choose OneEarth’s satisfying ways. 

Lee Van Ham has been working on ecological economics since 2000. This work follows three decades of experience in leading congregations where his writing and teaching gifts developed. In 2009, he met Michael Johnson; the two came together around their common interest in ecology and economics. Out of their relationship the OneEarth Project was born to partner their interests in writing and filmmaking. Johnson is an Emmy-award winning filmmaker who has begun work on a documentary related to themes in Blinded by Progress.

Received for review.

I normally enjoy reading about how we can make changes in our own lives to help the environment and the world as a whole so I was intrigued by this book.  Sadly, it fell short of expectations.  

This is not really about empowering yourself to make small changes, but instead ripping down the entire business and economic system of the world to create some sort of utopia.  While does have some interesting ideas the majority are unreasonable.

The author also unfortunately chose to compare the current economic system to a religion and the religious language he uses to illustrate his arguments seriously detracts from their potential impact.  It just sounds like one giant religious rant which does not make for enjoyable or educational reading.

Overall, if you're seriously into crunchy granola politics then this is for you, otherwise, give it a pass.

★★☆☆☆ = Just Okay

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Monday, February 9, 2015

Author Interview: Vivian Rhimes author of Wounds In The Way

Vivian Rhimes, author of Wounds In The Way, stopped by for an interview.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am a writer out of the Midwest.

What do you do when you're not writing?

When I am not writing I am working as a full service consultant.

When did your first start writing?

I first started writing at an early age and decided to give fiction writing a try.

What inspired you to write this particular book?

This book was inspired by true accounts of a young woman. I feel that it is important to shed light on domestic violence.

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

My favorite chapter is the last chapter which has not yet been released the book is being released by chapters.

What is best writing advice you can give?

The best writing advice I can give is to self publish.

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

The book needs the support of readers. It is the only way the other chapters will be released.

About the book:

Kyra is forced to address unresolved feelings about her ex-husband Manny after suffering years of his abuse. With nearly 10 years passed since they've seen each other, she confronts her past and realize that they both brought wounds into their relationship causing it to be tumultuous and almost deadly.

About the author:

Vivian Rhimes a fiction writer whose topics are about the many layers that come with being a woman.