Thursday, April 24, 2014

G303 Book Review of The Towers of Tuscany by Carol M Cram

Name of Book: The Towers of Tuscany

Author: Carol M. Cram

ISBN: 9780981024110

Publisher: New Arcadia Publishing

Type of book: Italy, Tuscany, art, painting, passion vs society, women's role, black plague, disguising self, escaping, 1338-1340s or 1350s?

Year it was published: 2014

Summary:

Set amid the twisting streets and sunlit piazzas of medieval Italy, the Towers of Tuscany tells the story of a woman who dares to follow her own path in the all-male domain of the painter's workshop. Sofia Barducci is born into a world where a woman is only as good as the man who cares for her, but she still claims the right to make her own mistakes. Her first mistake is convincing her father to let her marry Giorgio Carelli, a wealthy saffron merchant in San Gimignano, the Tuscan city of towers. Trained in secret by her father to create the beautifully-crafted panels and altarpieces acclaimed today as masterpieces of late medieval art, Sofia's desire for freedom from her father's workshop leads her to betray her passion and sink into a life of loveless drudgery with a husband who comes to despise her when she does not produce a son.

In an attack motivated by vendetta, Sofia's father is crushed by his own fresco, compelling Sofia to act or risk the death of her soul. The choice she makes takes her on a journey from misery to the heights of passion-both as a painter and as a woman. Sofia escapes to Siena where, disguised as a boy, she paints again. When her work attracts the notice of a nobleman who discovers the woman under the dirty smock, Sofia is faced with a choice that nearly destroys her.

The Towers of Tuscany unites a strong heroine with meticulously researched settings and compelling characters drawn from the rich tapestry of medieval Italy during one of Europe's most turbulent centuries. The stylishly written plot is packed with enough twists and turns to keep readers up long past their bedtimes.

Characters:

The main character would be Sofia who is best described as stubborn, caught up in a male and female world, and she is determined to follow her passions. She does make mistakes and choices that aren't good for her, but one can easily relate to her. There is of course Sofia's father who longed for a son, but instead teacher Sofia lessons of life through art and who wanted for her to be happy and understood. Sofia's husband used to love her and was passionate for her, but then the relationship soured and he doesn't really understand her. Salvini the son becomes Sofia's crush and both enjoy banter and comedy who enjoys Sofia for who she is. Francesco is Sofia's protector and loves her a great deal. My favorite character happened to be Francesco and I would have liked for him to be more prominent in the book.

Theme:

Sacrifices and choices are a double-edged sword

Plot:

Its written in third person narrative from Sofia's point of view. I have to say that I really enjoyed reading it due to writing style which makes it easy to forget how many pages you have read. I seriously jumped in and floated along for the ride. The chapters are on a long side, but I didn't pay attention to that. There are also sections where Sofia remembers her father's lessons and how they apply to her current life. Just to let you know, they are there throughout the whole book.

Author Information:
Carol M. Cram has enjoyed a great career as an educator, teaching at Capilano University in North Vancouver for over twenty years and authoring forty-plus bestselling textbooks on business communications and software applications. She holds an MA in Drama from the University of Toronto and an MBA from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. Carol is currently focusing as much of her attention as she can spare between walks in the woods on writing historical novels with an arts twist.
She and her husband, painter Gregg Simpson, share a life on beautiful Bowen Island near Vancouver, Canada.

Author Links



Opinion:

This book is a prime example of not judging it by its cover or summary. When I looked at the cover and read the summary, I seriously thought it would be a romantic comedy. So its a big risk to pull off. However, the book is much more than that. First of all, it's not a romantic comedy, but its a tale of Sofia who desires to follow her passions and express herself through painting in a time and place where women weren't given any choices. Despite being misled, I sympathized and understood Sofia and her actions, and I also felt really bad for her. Imagine being forbidden from doing a hobby or something you love simply because its more of a man's world rather than a woman's. That person will wither and die. I also enjoyed learning how the colors were mixed and painting techniques that Sofia uses to paint various pictures as well as life in 14th century in Italy.

Buy the Book

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, April 14
Review at Historical Novel Reviews
Tuesday, April 15
Review & Giveaway at Kinx’s Book Nook
Wednesday, April 16
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Thursday, April 17
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Friday, April 18
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Guest Post & Giveaway at Just One More Chapter
Monday, April 21
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Excerpt & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Tuesday, April 22
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Guest Post at Kincavel Korner
Wednesday, April 23
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Thursday, April 24
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Friday, April 25
Review & Giveaway at Words and Peace

This is for Historical Fiction Virtual Book

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

G308 Book Review of White Girl in La Casa by Christa Jeanne

Name of Book: White Girl in La Casa

Author: Christa Jeanne

ISBN: 9781495349997

Publisher: Createspace

Type of book: Mexican male/American female relationship, culture clash, vegan vs carnivore, comedy, interracial pairing, working hard, hiding, failures

Year it was published: 2014

Summary:

After being dumped by the last bad boy she’s ever going to date, Calliope meets her Hispanic prince charming. Peter Delgadillo is the perfect gentleman, sure, but he’s also extremely easy to look at with a flirtatious grin, naturally tanned skin that just radiates over gorgeous muscle, and the potential to be Calliope’s passionate Latin lover who whispers sweet Spanish nothings into her ear. Hmmm. If only she could convince him that she is his Caucasian love goddess. However, Peter wants to remain in the ‘just amigos’ category. Well, that is until a pipe bursts and they are forced to stay with Peter’s mother. He confesses that in order to ease his mother’s ailing heart, they need to act like a couple in love. Pretend to adore one another? Play the part of the adorable girlfriend while getting to touch, fondle, cuddle and cozy up to the man that she’s been madly in love with for years? No problemo!

However, nothing is getting past Peter’s mother, Margarita, who is not fond of the new white girl who doesn’t speak the language, doesn’t know the culture and doesn’t eat meat! With quite the language barrier and culture shock, Calliope struggles to keep her end of the bogus relationship bargain especially when she begins to realize that their friendship may break her heart. Oh, and then there’s Peter’s brother, Eddie, who threatens to blow the secret wide open because he knows it’s all an act. With a love triangle right out of a Spanish novella, Calliope tries to figure out what’s real and what isn’t so her heart won’t take another blow.

One white girl, one fake boyfriend who should be The One, one ice cold Margarita who’s determined to drive her out and the one guy who knows it’s all a sham. It’ll be a wonder if this white girl will survive in la casa…

Characters:

The main character is Calliope, a beautiful blond haired blue eyed woman who is in love with Peter, but the trouble is that Peter isn't returning the emotions back to her. Calliope is very outspoken, and stands up for what she believes in, no matter the costs. She also is best described as brave, especially when going against Margarita. Margarita is Peter's and Eddie's mother who seems to be a complete opposite when it comes to Calliope, at least in the meat part. (Calliope is a vegan, while Margarita eats meat and does her best to make Calliope run away.) Margarita is also not easily shocked by life. Peter is Calliope's best friend, and she has a major crush on him as well. When it's just he and Calliope, he's a gentleman, while when he's at home, he becomes mother's boy. Then there's Eddie, Peter's elder brother who works hard and does his best not to let Margarita mess with him. Eddie and Calliope also clash from time to time, and I have to admit that's it almost as fun as watching her and Margarita clash.

Theme:

Life is unexpected

Plot:

The book itself is written is written in first person narrative from Calliope's point of view. I think the story is more focused on the plot rather than how the characters have changed, and I feel that there wasn't enough time to get them to change and to admit certain things about themselves.

Author Information:
Christa Jeanne lives and writes in the Los Angeles area, which means at any given moment she is likely to be stuck in traffic somewhere.  When she isn’t writing her next romantic comedy, she is either busy getting clobbered at Candyland by her daughter, educating anyone who will listen about how her son with autism is going to change the world one day, or lovingly doting on her handsome, charming, intelligent and perfect husband (who totally fed her that line).  Christa is the ringleader of her circus at home and as soon as the kids go to bed, she can be found at her computer rocking out to a playlist that matches the mood of the current book she’s hammering out.  She loves writing about the funnier side of love since falling in love can be pretty hilarious sometimes.
Her latest book is the romantic comedy, White Girl in La Casa.
Christa loves visitors, so please visit her at www.christajeannebooks.com.

Connect & Socialize!


FACEBOOK | GOODREADS

Opinion:

I really didn't expect this book to be so hilarious and so unexpectedly funny! The author is really good at hitting your funny bone over and over in the most unexpected ways. The whole time I was reading, I always ended up laughing when Calliope and Margarita clashed. And some situations, wow. (Imagine eating something meaty and listening to a vegan woman telling you about how it was killed and so forth. Or imagine being caught doing something and instead of the mother reacting with horror, she has a "been there seen that" attitude.) I was very close to rating it five stars just for how hilarious it is, but I feel that the resolution was a little too sudden for me, and I guess I had difficulty understanding a few things, one being how a character is extremely manipulative, and whether or not an important event happened. Oh, love the cover by the way.

Purchase your copy:

AMAZON


Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE

White Girl in La Casa Tour Page:



This is for Pump Up Your Book Tour

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

G285 Book Review of Casebook by Mona Simpson

Name of Book: Casebook

Author: Mona Simpson

ISBN: 9780385351416

Publisher: Knopf

Type of book: Spying, divorces, secrets, mystery, friendship, growing up, undecided, wealth, money, figuring out the truth, hidden things

Year it was published: 2014

Summary:

From the acclaimed and award-winning author: a beguiling new novel about an eavesdropping boy working to discover the obscure mysteries of his unraveling family. He uncovers instead what he least wants to know: the workings of his parents' private lives. And even then he can't stop snooping.

Miles Adler-Rich, helped by his friend Hector, spies and listens in on his separating parents. Both boys are in thrall to Miles's unsuspecting mother, Irene, who is "pretty for a mathematician." They rifle through her dresser drawers and strip-mine her computer diary, finding that all leads pull them straight into her bedroom, and into questions about a stranger from Washington, D.C., who weaves in and out of their lives. Their amateur detective work starts innocently but soon takes them to the far reaches of adult privacy as they acquire knowledge that will affect the family's well-being, prosperity, and sanity. Once burdened with this powerful information, the boys struggle to deal with the existence of evil, and proceed to concoct hilarious modes of revenge on their villains and eventually, haltingly, learn to offer animal comfort to those harmed and to create an imaginative path to their own salvation.

Characters:

Okay, let's see if I can do the characters. First there's the main character named Miles whom I didn't like. He's fond of nicknaming almost everyone, and he's uncertain of his sexual identity. He also spies with his friend Hector and apparently his hunches and ideas are correct. There is Miles's mom Irene, whom he'll call Mims for the rest of the book. She's a mathematician who is also uncertain of herself and allows for men to take advantage of her. For me she's a cold person as well as very strict. Eli is Irene's boyfriend who has an interesting past when it comes to his previous marriage and so forth. He is also nerdy, makes promises he can't keep and is also a mathematician. The other characters are there just to be there.

Theme:

When one spies, one learns more than they need to.

Plot:

Its written in first person narrative from Miles's point of view. I enjoyed the writing style, but I didn't enjoy the characters or anything else about it. The subplots and so forth are too many, and it was hard for me to keep up with what's going on. I think the author also expected the reader to read the book in one sitting instead of multiple ones, and while I do sense talent within the book, there was too much going on. Also, despite the cover, its a pretty depressing book in my opinion.

Author Information:
(From TLC)

Mona Simpson is the author of Anywhere But HereThe Lost FatherA Regular GuyOff Keck Road, and My HollywoodOff Keck Road was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and won the Heartland Prize of the Chicago Tribune. She has received a Whiting Writer’s Award, a Guggenheim grant, a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award, and, recently an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Connect with Mona on Facebook.




Opinion:

This is a strong case of don't judge the book by its cover or summary. From all the hype, I seriously had an idea that I would be reading an entertaining book about mishaps that Miles experiences when he begins to spy on his mom. Instead, despite the cover and summary, I found it to be a frustrating read where it became a chore. Also from the book, I imagine that many people will think this is something kids will enjoy, but I will warn that due to some strong language as well as sexual situations, this isn't a book for kids. The writing was enjoyable and Miles was memorable, but what frustrated me the most are the real names and nicknames. First of all, what's the point of calling their mother "mims"? Or why call the twin sisters Boops One and Two instead of their real names? And perhaps hints of time passing before beginning chapters would have been nice. I had trouble figuring out how many years have passed or how old the twins and Miles were when their mother becomes divorced and when the truth about Eli is revealed. Also, the entire time I laughed when I read the book is when Miles and Hector create their revenge against Eli.

This is for TLC Book Tour

Mona Simpson’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, April 14th:  Mockingbird Hill Cottage
Tuesday, April 15th:  Book Chatter
Tuesday, April 15th:  Guiltless Reading
Wednesday, April 16th:  From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, April 16th:  5 Minutes for Books
Thursday, April 17th:  Bookchickdi
Friday, April 18th:  She Treads Softly
Monday, April 21st:  Entomology of a Bookworm
Monday, April 21st:  Simply Stacie
Monday, April 21st:  A Bookish Way of Life
Tuesday, April 22nd:  Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Wednesday, April 23rd:  Anita Loves Books
Thursday, April 24th:  Lit and Life
Friday, April 25th:  Chaotic Compendiums
Monday, April 28th:  Book-alicious Mama
Monday, April 28th:  Daily Mayo
Tuesday, April 29th:  Love at First Book
Tuesday, April 29th:  Fiction Addict
Wednesday, April 30th:  Bookish Ardour
Wednesday, April 30th:  Booksie’s Blog
Thursday, May 1st:  Musings of a Bookish Kitty
Friday, May 2nd:  Missris
Monday, May 5th:  Bibliophiliac
Tuesday, May 6th:  Bound by Words
Wednesday, May 7th:  No More Grumpy Bookseller
Thursday, May 8th:  BookNAround
Friday, May 9th:  In Bed With Books
3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Progress Sheet...Week 16 of 2014

Book Tours to look forward to:

The Girl Who Came Home: A Novel of the Titanic by Hazel Gaynor (April 21st, 2014)

A voyage across the ocean becomes the odyssey of a lifetime for a young Irish woman. . . .

Ireland, 1912 . . .

Fourteen members of a small village set sail on RMS Titanic, hoping to find a better life in America. For seventeen-year-old Maggie Murphy, the journey is bittersweet. Though her future lies in an unknown new place, her heart remains in Ireland with Séamus, the sweetheart she left behind. When disaster strikes, Maggie is one of the few passengers in steerage to survive. Waking up alone in a New York hospital, she vows never to speak of the terror and panic of that fateful night again.

Chicago, 1982 . . .

Adrift after the death of her father, Grace Butler struggles to decide what comes next. When her great-grandmother Maggie shares the painful secret about Titanic that she's harbored for almost a lifetime, the revelation gives Grace new direction—and leads both her and Maggie to unexpected reunions with those they thought lost long ago.

Inspired by true events, The Girl Who Came Home poignantly blends fact and fiction to explore the Titanic tragedy's impact and its lasting repercussions on survivors and their descendants.

Casebook by Mona Simpson (April 22nd, 2014)


From the acclaimed and award-winning author: a beguiling new novel about an eavesdropping boy working to discover the obscure mysteries of his unraveling family. He uncovers instead what he least wants to know: the workings of his parents' private lives. And even then he can't stop snooping.

Miles Adler-Rich, helped by his friend Hector, spies and listens in on his separating parents. Both boys are in thrall to Miles's unsuspecting mother, Irene, who is "pretty for a mathematician." They rifle through her dresser drawers and strip-mine her computer diary, finding that all leads pull them straight into her bedroom, and into questions about a stranger from Washington, D.C., who weaves in and out of their lives. Their amateur detective work starts innocently but soon takes them to the far reaches of adult privacy as they acquire knowledge that will affect the family's well-being, prosperity, and sanity. Once burdened with this powerful information, the boys struggle to deal with the existence of evil, and proceed to concoct hilarious modes of revenge on their villains and eventually, haltingly, learn to offer animal comfort to those harmed and to create an imaginative path to their own salvation.

White Girl in La Casa by Christa Jeanne (April 23rd, 2014)

After being dumped by the last bad boy she’s ever going to date, Calliope meets her Hispanic prince charming. Peter Delgadillo is the perfect gentleman, sure, but he’s also extremely easy to look at with a flirtatious grin, naturally tanned skin that just radiates over gorgeous muscle, and the potential to be Calliope’s passionate Latin lover who whispers sweet Spanish nothings into her ear. Hmmm. If only she could convince him that she is his Caucasian love goddess. However, Peter wants to remain in the ‘just amigos’ category. Well, that is until a pipe bursts and they are forced to stay with Peter’s mother. He confesses that in order to ease his mother’s ailing heart, they need to act like a couple in love. Pretend to adore one another? Play the part of the adorable girlfriend while getting to touch, fondle, cuddle and cozy up to the man that she’s been madly in love with for years? No problemo!

However, nothing is getting past Peter’s mother, Margarita, who is not fond of the new white girl who doesn’t speak the language, doesn’t know the culture and doesn’t eat meat! With quite the language barrier and culture shock, Calliope struggles to keep her end of the bogus relationship bargain especially when she begins to realize that their friendship may break her heart. Oh, and then there’s Peter’s brother, Eddie, who threatens to blow the secret wide open because he knows it’s all an act. With a love triangle right out of a Spanish novella, Calliope tries to figure out what’s real and what isn’t so her heart won’t take another blow.

One white girl, one fake boyfriend who should be The One, one ice cold Margarita who’s determined to drive her out and the one guy who knows it’s all a sham. It’ll be a wonder if this white girl will survive in la casa…

The Towers of Tuscany by Carol M. Cram (April 24th, 2014)


Set amid the twisting streets and sunlit piazzas of medieval Italy, the Towers of Tuscany tells the story of a woman who dares to follow her own path in the all-male domain of the painter's workshop. Sofia Barducci is born into a world where a woman is only as good as the man who cares for her, but she still claims the right to make her own mistakes. Her first mistake is convincing her father to let her marry Giorgio Carelli, a wealthy saffron merchant in San Gimignano, the Tuscan city of towers. Trained in secret by her father to create the beautifully-crafted panels and altarpieces acclaimed today as masterpieces of late medieval art, Sofia's desire for freedom from her father's workshop leads her to betray her passion and sink into a life of loveless drudgery with a husband who comes to despise her when she does not produce a son.

In an attack motivated by vendetta, Sofia's father is crushed by his own fresco, compelling Sofia to act or risk the death of her soul. The choice she makes takes her on a journey from misery to the heights of passion-both as a painter and as a woman. Sofia escapes to Siena where, disguised as a boy, she paints again. When her work attracts the notice of a nobleman who discovers the woman under the dirty smock, Sofia is faced with a choice that nearly destroys her.

The Towers of Tuscany unites a strong heroine with meticulously researched settings and compelling characters drawn from the rich tapestry of medieval Italy during one of Europe's most turbulent centuries. The stylishly written plot is packed with enough twists and turns to keep readers up long past their bedtimes.

Books to be Reviewed:

Lord Esterleigh's Daughter by Kathy Fischer-Brown (June 4th, 2014 e-book Historical Fiction Virtual Book TOur)

As a child, Anne Fairfield dreams of the father she never knew, the hero who died fighting the French and their Indian allies in a land across the sea. Her mother’s stories, and fantasies of her own devising, sustain and nurture her through a poor and lonely existence. Until one winter night, a strange man comes to call, and the life she has known comes crashing down like shattered glass.

Forced to confront sordid truths, secrets and lies, the headstrong young woman begins to learn that, like generations of Darvey women ruled by their hearts, she is destined to follow in their footsteps.

Set against the backdrop of 18th century England, Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter is the first book in “The Serpent’s Tooth” trilogy, which follows Anne from the rural countryside, to London society and into the center of the American Revolution.

A Comedy of Erinn by Celia Bonaduce (April 29th, 2014, Pump Up Your Books Virtual Book Tour)


Erinn Wolf needs to reinvent herself. A once celebrated playwright turned photographer, she's almost broke, a little lonely, and tired of her sister's constant worry. When a job on a reality TV show falls into her lap, she's thrilled to be making a paycheck--and when a hot Italian actor named Massimo rents her guesthouse, she's certain her life is getting a romantic subplot. But with the director, brash, gorgeous young Jude, dogging her every step, she can't help but look at herself through his lens--and wonder if she's been reading the wrong script all along. . .








To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis by Andra Watkins (April 30th, 2014 Pump Up your Books)

Explorer Meriwether Lewis has been stuck in Nowhere since his mysterious death nearly two centuries ago. His last hope for redemption is helping nine-year-old Emmaline Cagney flee her madame mother in New Orleans and find her father in Nashville. To get there, Merry must cross his own grave along the Natchez Trace, where he duels the corrupt Judge, an old foe who has his own despicable plans for Em.

Semi-Coma: Evolution of My Intermittent Consciousness by Gulten Dye (May 5th, 2014)

This book is about self-discovery and the journey that awakened me to the many facets of life. The road hasn’t always been easy with its tolls and junctions. It’s about my struggle to discover who I really am, what I believe in and how I’ve arrived at a place where I am able to appreciate myself and my surroundings.
Most of my life I lived in a state of arrested consciousness without being aware of it. Then one day out of nowhere my eyes opened just enough for me to question my way of living and my state of mind. That was the day questions started to arrive. They were nothing like the questions I had before. As if they weren’t even questions they were an unraveling string of realizations followed by overwhelming sorrow. How could I have lived my life as if I was in a semi coma and in turn induce my own suffering?
Of course in the beginning of seeing I didn’t realize that my eyes would open slightly from time to time to give me an illusion of happiness, but because I had no idea what true happiness was I would drift back to my state of familiarity. I lived my life mostly on an automatic life-sustaining machine by my body without my mind interfering with it.
It is my hope that the stories I share with you will somehow touch your heart, perhaps crack open a door and shine a light for you to embark on your own quest of self-discovery. I don’t presume to have all the answers; I don’t even know all the questions. At the very least, I am seeking to understand and allow life to happen; learning to take responsibility and ownership of myself and my actions, and appreciating all that is.
Read the chapters, each on its own. As you move through them, you will uncover my intermittent consciousness as I explore my thoughts or beliefs and might be able to even get a glimpse of my evolution along the way.
I am blessed to have had so many people touch my life and, knowingly or unknowingly, helped me on my journey. I have come to realize that because we are all one, that anything I come to know and am willing to share with others affects all of us in a positive way. With great humility, I open up my imperfect, yet perfect, life for you to walk beside me. I am forever grateful and honored.

The Publicist by Christina George (May 6th, 2014iRead Book Tours)


Welcome to the world of publishing. The ego has landed.

Can one woman change an age-old institution like publishing? Probably not, but Kate Mitchell sure wants to try. As a publicist with a large, respected New York publishing house, Kate finds herself at the mercy of a broken publishing system, books that don’t sell, and author egos that are often, well, as big as the island of Manhattan.

Enter the star Editor, MacDermott Ellis: Tall, handsome, charismatic, married, and ready to save the day. Then there’s Allan Lavigne, once a revered author--now as forgotten as last year's bestsellers and his nephew Nick: Tall, gorgeous, sweet, single and ready to sweep Kate off her feet. Kate wants to do the right thing but her hormones seem to be driving her decisions.

As Kate tries to navigate the landmine of publicity, over-the-top author expectations, and the careful dance of “I’m sorry, your book isn’t on the bestseller list this week,” she also finds authors who are painfully overlooked by a publisher wanting more sex, more celebrities, and more scandal.

The story only an insider could tell.

Shelf Life by Christina George (May 6th, 2014 iread Book Tours)


It’s an industry of out-of-control egos, unrealistic expectations, and unfulfilled promises.

This is publishing and it’s Kate’s world, but maybe not for long.

When one of Kate Mitchell’s star authors is carted away in handcuffs, it’s only the beginning of her troubles. As her world crumbles around her, Kate desperately looks for anyone to hold onto but finds that happy endings are truly works of fiction. With the shelf life of her career and her love affair quickly expiring, Kate sets off on a new adventure…

Starting over in California is easy but Kate soon learns that leaving her old life behind isn’t. Nick Lavigne is eager to help her forget but two things still own her heart, the dream of discovering the next great American novel, and MacDermott Ellis.

As Kate tries to rebuild her life she finds a surprising gift that reboots her career in a new and unexpected direction. Suddenly her name becomes synonymous with one of the biggest bestsellers publishing has seen in ages and she's welcomed back with open arms.

But at the height of her success the ghosts of her past come back to remind her of the world she'd been trying to forget and the man who never let go of her heart.

Behind the book, there’s always more to the story. Welcome to Publishing, the ego has landed.

Fallout by Sadie Jones (May 7th, 2014 TLC)

Sadie Jones, the award winning, bestselling author of The Uninvited Guests and The Outcast, explores the theater of love, the politics of theater, and the love of writing in Fallout-a deeply romantic story about a young playwright in 1970s London

Leaving behind an emotionally disastrous childhood in a provincial northern town, budding playwright Luke Kanowski begins a new life in London that includes Paul Driscoll, an aspiring producer who will become his best friend, and Leigh Radley, Paul's girlfriend. Talented and ambitious, the trio found a small theater company that enjoys unexpected early success. Then, one fateful evening, Luke meets Nina Jacobs, a dynamic and emotionally damaged actress he cannot forget, even after she drifts into a marriage with a manipulative theater producer.

As Luke becomes a highly sought after playwright, he stumbles in love, caught in two triangles where love requited and unrequited, friendship, and art will clash with terrible consequences for all involved.

Fallout is an elegantly crafted novel whose characters struggle to escape the various cataclysms of their respective pasts. Falling in love convinces us we are the pawns of the gods; Fallout brings us firmly into the psyche of romantic love-its sickness and its ecstasy.

Dialogues of a Crime by John K. Manos (May 8th, 2014)


NAMED TO KIRKUS REVIEWS' BEST BOOKS OF 2013

1972. The Chicago Mob stands unchallenged, and college students with drugs provide fodder for political point-making. Michael Pollitz, a nineteen-year-old with connections to the Outfit, becomes one of those political pawns.

1994. Job-weary CPD Detective Larry Klinger becomes obsessed with a cold case from that pivotal moment twenty-two years ago. In the course of his investigation, he encounters questions of ethics, guilt, and justice that make him doubt certainties that have sustained him for decades.

Dialogues of a Crime examines guilt, innocence and the long-term ramifications of crime and punishment in a gray area where the personal lives of perpetrators, victims and law officers overlap.

Books I'm Reading:

Mozart's Wife by Juliet Waldron (June 5th, 2014 Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour)

Jon Baxley, Editor of Amazing Authors Showcase says it all in his review. "This author's fictionalized account of Constanze Webber--an extraordinary woman who just happened to marry an even more extraordinary man named Mozart--brings 18th Century Vienna and its people vividly alive. Constanze would have been a remarkable woman for any era, struggling with her own perspective on life while trying to cope and understand the icon composer with whom she chose to share her life. But as an 18th Century woman, she is all the more remarkable. This book is well written and thoroughly researched, that's obvious from the details in dialogue and events. I suspect little of this work is pure fiction, though, given the vast availability of historical information on Mozart and his contemporaries. However, the author melds background information with fictional material so seamlessly, it all seems real. Despite knowing a lot about the man already, I'm even more convinced now that Mozart was one of a kind in history and so was his wife Constanze. To me, great writing is all about imagery, characterization and dialogue. MOZART'S WIFE has all of that and more. Plus, it's a real eye opener to Mozart himself as seen by his closest companion. If you like historical fiction with a wealth of factual detail, this book should be on your reading list."

Chapters: 2 out of 39

Pages: 11 out of 393

The Tale of Genji-Murasaki Shikibu, Edward G. Seidensticker




The Tale of Genji was written in the eleventh century by Murasaki Shikibu, a lady of the Heian court. It is universally recognized as the greatest masterpiece of Japanese prose narrative, perhaps the earliest true novel in the history of the world. Until now there has been no translation that is both complete and scrupulously faithful to the original text. Edward G. Seidensticker's masterly rendering was first published in two volumes in 1976 and immediately hailed as a classic of the translator's art. It is here presented in one unabridged volume, illustrated throughout by woodcuts taken from a 1650 Japanese edition of The Tale of Genji.

Chapters: 50 out of 54

Pages: 936 out of 1090

The Education of George Washington; How a Forgotten book shaped the character of a hero-Austin Washington (May 9th, 2014 Pump Up Your Book)

George Washington—a man of honor, bravery and leadership. He is known as America’s first President, a great general, and a humble gentleman, but how did he become this man of stature?


Washington’s Code answers this question with a new discovery about his past and the surprising book that shaped him. Who better to unearth them than George Washington’s great-nephew, Austin Washington?


Most Washington fans have heard of �The Rules of Civility” and learned that this guided our first President. But that’s not the book that truly made George Washington who he was. In Washington’s Code, Austin Washington reveals the secret that he discovered about Washington’s past that explains his true model for conduct, honor, and leadership—an example that we could all use.

Chapters: 10 out of 14 plus prologue

Pages: 209 out of 289

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi (May 12th, 2014 TLC)


Afghan-American Nadia Hashimi's literary debut novel, The Pearl that Broke Its Shell, is a searing tale of powerlessness, fate, and the freedom to control one's own fate that combines the cultural flavor and emotional resonance of the works of Khaled Hosseini, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Lisa See

In Kabul, 2007, with a drug-addicted father and no brothers, Rahima and her sisters can only sporadically attend school, and can rarely leave the house. Their only hope lies in the ancient custom of bacha posh, which allows young Rahima to dress and be treated as a boy until she is of marriageable age. As a son, she can attend school, go to the market, and chaperone her older sisters.

But Rahima is not the first in her family to adopt this unusual custom. A century earlier, her great-aunt, Shekiba, left orphaned by an epidemic, saved herself and built a new life the same way.

Crisscrossing in time, The Pearl the Broke Its Shell interweaves the tales of these two women separated by a century who share similar destinies. But what will happen once Rahima is of marriageable age? Will Shekiba always live as a man? And if Rahima cannot adapt to life as a bride, how will she survive?

Chapters: 5 out of 69

Pages: 34 out of 450

Delicious!: A Novel by Ruth Reichl (May 15th, 2014)

In her bestselling memoirs Ruth Reichl has long illuminated the theme of how food defines us, and never more so than in her dazzling fiction debut about sisters, family ties, and a young woman who must finally let go of guilt and grief to embrace her own true gifts.

Billie Breslin has traveled far from her California home to take a job at Delicious, the most iconic food magazine in New York and, thus, the world. When the publication is summarily shut down, the colorful staff, who have become an extended family for Billie, must pick up their lives and move on. Not Billie, though. She is offered a new job: staying behind in the magazine's deserted downtown mansion offices to uphold the "Delicious Guarantee"-a public relations hotline for complaints and recipe inquiries-until further notice. What she doesn't know is that this boring, lonely job will be the portal to a life-changing discovery.

Delicious! carries the reader to the colorful world of downtown New York restaurateurs and artisanal purveyors, and from the lively food shop in Little Italy where Billie works on weekends to a hidden room in the magazine's library where she discovers the letters of Lulu Swan, a plucky twelve-year-old, who wrote to the legendary chef James Beard during World War II. Lulu's letters lead Billie to a deeper understanding of history (and the history of food), but most important, Lulu's courage in the face of loss inspires Billie to come to terms with her own issues-the panic attacks that occur every time she even thinks about cooking, the truth about the big sister she adored, and her ability to open her heart to love.

Chapters: 4 out of N/A

Pages: 43 out of 372

The Gondola Maker by Laura Morelli (May 19th, 2014, Iread book tours)


In 16th-century Venice, the heir to a family boatyard rejects his destiny but is drawn to restore an old gondola with the dream of taking a girl for a ride.

Venice, 1581
Luca Vianello is the heir to the city’s most esteemed gondola-making family. But when an accidental tragedy strikes the boatyard, Luca believes his true calling lies elsewhere. Readers will appreciate the authentic details of gondola craftsmanship along with a captivating tale of artisanal tradition and family bonds set in one of the world’s most magnificent settings: Renaissance Venice.

Chapters: 4 out of 45

Pages: 31 out of 291

The Collector of Dying Breaths by M.J. Rose (May 16th, 2014 Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour)



A lush and imaginative novel that crisscrosses time as a perfumer and a mythologist search for the fine line between potion and poison, poison and passion…and past and present.

Florence, Italy—1533: An orphan named René le Florentin is plucked from poverty to become Catherine de Medici’s perfumer. Traveling with the young duchessina from Italy to France, René brings with him a cache of secret documents from the monastery where he was trained: recipes for exotic fragrances and potent medicines—and a formula for an alchemic process said to have the potential to reanimate the dead. In France, René becomes not only the greatest perfumer in the country but the most dangerous, creating deadly poisons for his Queen to use against her rivals. But while mixing herbs and essences under the light of flickering candles, Rene doesn’t begin to imagine the tragic and personal consequences for which his lethal potions will be responsible.

Paris, France—The Present: A renowned mythologist, Jac L’Etoile, is trying to recover from personal heartache by throwing herself into her work, learns of the 16th century perfumer who may have been working on an elixir that would unlock the secret to immortality. She becomes obsessed with René le Florentin’s work—particularly when she discovers the dying breathes he had collected during his lifetime. Jac’s efforts put her in the path of her estranged lover, Griffin North, a linguist who has already begun translating René le Florentin’s mysterious formula. Together they confront an eccentric heiress in possession of a world-class art collection. A woman who has her own dark purpose for the elixir… a purpose for which she believes the ends will justify her deadly means. This mesmerizing gothic tale of passion and obsession crisscrosses time, zigzagging from the violent days of Catherine de Medici’s court to twenty-first century France. Fiery and lush, set against deep, wild forests and dimly lit chateaus, The Collector of Dying Breaths illuminates the true path to immortality: the legacies we leave behind.

Chapters: 4 out of 49

Pages: 22 out of 365

The Conditions of Love by Dale M. Kushner (May 13th, 2014, TLC)


Dale M. Kushner's novel The Conditions of Love traces the journey of a girl from childhood to adulthood as she reckons with her parents' abandonment, her need to break from society's limitations, and her overwhelming desire for spiritual and erotic love. In 1953, ten-year-old Eunice lives in the backwaters of Wisconsin with her outrageously narcissistic mother, a manicureeste and movie star worshipper. Abandoned by her father as an infant, Eunice worries that she will become a misfit like her mother. When her mother's lover, the devoted Sam, moves in, Eunice imagines her life will finally become normal. But her hope dissolves when Sam gets kicked out, and she is again alone with her mother. A freak storm sends Eunice away from all things familiar. Rescued by the shaman-like Rose, Eunice's odyssey continues with a stay in a hermit's shack and ends with a passionate love affair with an older man. Through her capacity to redefine herself, reject bitterness and keep her heart open, she survives and flourishes. In this, she is both ordinary and heroic. At once fable and realistic story, The Conditions of Love is a book about emotional and physical survival. Through sheer force of will, Eunice saves herself from a doomed life.

This engaging examination of a mother and daughter's relationship will appeal to the same audience that embraced Mona Simpson's acclaimed classic Anywhere But Here and Elizabeth Strout's bestselling Amy and Isabelle.

Chapters: 4 out of 32

Pages: 34 out of 367

Puritan Witch: The Redemption of Rebecca Eames by Peni Jo Renner (May 23rd, 2014 Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour)

On a cold night in 1692, two young girls are caught up in the divining games of a slave woman—and then begin to act very strangely when the game goes wrong. Suddenly, Salem Village is turned upside down as everyone fears that witches may be involved.

Six months later, as news of the girls’ strange behavior becomes known, fear and suspicion overwhelm a nearby farming community, pitting neighbors against neighbors and turning friends into enemies. When Rebecca Eames makes one careless utterance during a verbal attack on her family, she is falsely accused of witchcraft.

After her fate is decided by three magistrates, Rebecca must endure a prison sentence during which she and her fellow captives have no choice but to valiantly struggle to find humanity and camaraderie among dire conditions.

In this novel based on a true story, a woman wrongly imprisoned during the seventeenth-century witchcraft trials comes full circle where she must determine if she can somehow resume her life, despite all she has endured.

Chapters: 2 out of20 plus prologue

Pages: 20 out of 220

Ritual Tea: How The 9 Secrets Of Tea Can Transform Your Life by Mario Zeleny (May 28th, 2014, Pump Up Your Book)


Media headlines abound these days saying, “Tea is trendy...” and we believe it until we read the first chapter of Ritual Tea: How the 9 Secrets of Tea Can Transform Your Life. Entitled, Tea’s Sordid and Holy Exploits, chapter one is a worldwide, whirlwind tour of tea history that leaves the reader knowing once and for all that tea has always been trendy for very good reasons. Next to water, tea is the world’s most popular drink.

Author Mario Zeleny, lifelong tea lover and personal coach, extracts the magic of tea from its history, uses, and benefits but also from its power to change the world. He brings the secrets of tea into modern light, and makes them accessible for contemporary lifestyles.

“We do not have to be a Buddhist monk, or study The Way of Tea for decades to be your own Tea Master,” says Zeleny, “but you must understand its secrets to reap tea’s transformative qualities in your life.”

Ritual Tea boasts over 30 links to free tea products, ten personal rituals to help with everything from anxiety to sleep, and 10 charts that make crafting our own ritual a breeze. The author has also included a coupon for tea at the end of the book!

Discover the transformative power of tea hidden in its history, versatility, and essence through simple, timeless and individualized rituals. To help us on the tea path, the author has made a free Ritual Tea ecourse available through ArtSpellz.com.

Tea has made a 5000 year trek to inhabit the world and in its wake it has altered not only individual lives but cultures and countries. Ritual Tea asks, “Who will we be in tea’s history?” Will we just make tea, or will we allow tea make us?

Chapters: 2 out of 9 plus introduction

Pages: 18 out of 176

Immortality by Kevin Bohacz (May 21st, 2014 Pump Up your books)

Publisher’s Weekly STARRED review - Bohacz's vision of a humanity that faces the need to evolve profoundly or face certain destruction is as timely as today's news and as chilling a doomsday scenario as any ecological catastrophe can suggest.

Kirkus - There is enough power in the premise to leave readers reeling. A novel that will surprise fans of science-fiction and doomsday scenarios.

"Speaking as an evolved Transhuman, I applaud this very entertaining, intelligent, and thought provoking journey to the edges of humanity." - Danny Rubin, author and screenwriter of Groundhog Day.

"Immortality is a fine, tense, scientific mystery adventure that puts mankind in a challenge of survival with a short time limit. This is the way the world could end." - Piers Anthony, author of 21 New York Times best-selling novels.

Sci-Fi Reader - 4Stars - "This book manages to do what all the best sci-fi does - provide a thought-provoking, alternative viewpoint on the business of existence. I recommend you give it a go." - sfreader.com.

Immortality has been a best-selling techno-thriller on the Amazon Kindle since January 2008!....

Publisher’s Weekly FULL STARRED review - When human extinctions occur in South America and spread worldwide, paleobiologist and genetic researcher Mark Freedman senses a connection to the Chromatium Omri bacteria, the oldest known life form on Earth linked to previous extinctions. The growing virulence in the "kill zones" spurs Freedman to join forces with Kathy Morrison, expert on viral and bacterial pathogens with the Centers for Disease Control. Despite personal losses, Freedman and Morrison find romance and make discoveries about the devastation and what lies behind it. Other colorful characters include dedicated policewoman Sarah Mayfair, whose horrific dreams and improbable survival enable contact with the forces behind the outbreaks; cynical Gen. James McKafferty, committed to preserving the U.S. at whatever cost; and Artie Hartman, goaded by his wife's death to wage war on gangs and government forces indiscriminately. The seemingly random attacks and emergence of chaos allow Bohacz to explore such themes as whether humanity deserves to survive, the meaning of being human, and the cost of perfect health and immortality. The originality of Bohacz's ideas is nearly equaled by detailed descriptions of a decontamination lab, the frenzied search for answers, and the aftermath of destruction. His vision of a humanity that faces the need to evolve profoundly or face certain destruction is as timely as today's news and as chilling a doomsday scenario as any ecological catastrophe can suggest.

Dust cover: Without warning, something has gone terribly awry. In the remote and unnoticed places of the world, small pockets of death begin occurring. As the initially isolated extinctions spread, the world's eyes focus on this unimaginable horror and chaos. Out of the ecological imbalance, something new and extraordinary is evolving and surviving to fill the voids left by these extinctions. Evolution is operating in ways no one could have expected and environmental damage may be the catalyst. Once discovered, this knowledge changes everything.

The story begun in Immortality is not over. A sequel, Ghost of the Gods is coming soon.

Chapters: 3 out of 9 parts

Pages: 49 out of 516

The Distraction Addiction: Getting the Information You Need and the Communication You Want, Without Enraging Your Family, Annoying Your Colleagues, and Destroying Your Soul by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang



The question of our time: can we reclaim our lives in an age that feels busier and more distracting by the day?
We've all found ourselves checking email at the dinner table, holding our breath while waiting for Outlook to load, or sitting hunched in front of a screen for an hour longer than we intended.

Mobile devices and the web have invaded our lives, and this is a big idea book that addresses one of the biggest questions of our age: can we stay connected without diminishing our intelligence, attention spans, and ability to really live? Can we have it all?


Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, a renowned Stanford technology guru, says yes. THE DISTRACTION ADDICTION is packed with fascinating studies, compelling research, and crucial takeaways. Whether it's breathing while Facebook refreshes, or finding creative ways to take a few hours away from the digital crush, this book is about the ways to tune in without tuning out.

Chapters: 3 out of 8 plus introduction and appendices

Pages: 83 out of 239

Future Readings:

Nightingale by Juliet Waldron (June 10th, 2014 Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour)

Count Maximilian discovers Klara in a Nightingale Cage, an orphanage for the abandoned children of musicians. He educates her, fosters her remarkable vocal talent and initiates her into the art of love, creating the perfect mistress. The Count controls every aspect of Klara's life, until fate, in the form of handsome Akos Almassy, takes a hand. The tall, dark Magyar violinist can make beautiful music and healing potions, too, but can he rescue Klara from the Count--and live?

Chapters: 24

Pages: 265


The Obsession by T.V. LoCicero (e-book)


At a conference in Italy’s lake district, American graduate student Stanford Lyle is enchanted with Lina Lentini, a lovely Italian professor of comparative lit. And when she lectures for a term at his mid-Michigan university, she considers a fling with Stan—until she meets John Martens, a professor, author and Stan’s mentor. In her passionate affair with John, Lina becomes Stan’s obsession, a hated nemesis for John’s troubled wife, and the object of a vicious series of attacks aimed at destroying her reputation.

Lina loves the line from Keats, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” even as her life fills with duplicity. John is pledged to do the right thing with his wife but often does not. And Stan surprises himself with the depth of his own perversity.

Forced back to her home in Bologna, Lina begins to reset her life. Then Stan appears on her doorstep. When John joins them, Stan schemes, threatens and stalks the lovers, first under the city’s ancient porticoes and finally to the legendary Sicilian mountain town of Taormina with a shocking confrontation on the slopes of volcanic Mt. Etna.

Chapters: 49

Pages: 385

The Disappearance by T.V. LoCicero (e-book)

On leave from the University of Bologna, lovely Italian scholar Lina Lentini is staying with a friend in Geneva and soon finds herself caught up in the shadowy world of Swiss banking, sorting through mysteries that will link to cold-blooded betrayal, corruption and murder.

At the villa of her octogenarian pal Cecile Eaton, an American philanthropist, Lina befriends Clara Marche, who works on Cecile’s account at the Banque Privee Morneau. Both Cecile and Lina are fascinated by Clara’s unlikely transatlantic romance with Marc White, her African-American lover—neither speaks the other’s language.

The revelation of devious schemes begins one night when Clara discovers her manager at the bank has been looting Cecile’s charitable contributions. When Clara is further shaken by what she learns from the bank’s security chief, she flees to Italy, only to find herself accused of fraud by the bank and hunted by police.

Back in Geneva Lina and Clara’s lover Marc embark on a desperate search for Clara. When a mysterious email claims she is being held in the Bahamas, they fly to the quiet island of Eleuthera. There they are shocked to find false-named lovers living a secret life and meet a man with a plan to rescue Clara. What happens next will stun everyone and change their lives forever.

Chapters: 45

Pages: 315

Living Reed: A Novel of Korea-Pearl S. Buck


The Living Reed follows four generations of one family, the Kims, beginning with Il-han and his father, both advisors to the royal family in Korea. When Japan invades and the queen is killed, Il-han takes his family into hiding. In the ensuing years, he and his family take part in the secret war against the Japanese occupation.
Pearl S. Buck's epic tells the history of Korea through the lives of one family. She paints an amazing portrait of the country, and makes us empathize with their struggle for sovereignty through her beautifully drawn characters.

Chapters: 3 plus epilogue and historical note

Pages: 478




Sons- Pearl S. Buck



Second in the trilogy that began with The Good Earth, Buck's classic and starkly real tale of sons rising against their honored fathers tells of the bitter struggle to the death between the old and the new in China. Revolutions sweep the vast nation, leaving destruction and death in their wake, yet also promising emancipation to China's oppressed millions who are groping for a way to survive in a modern age.

Chapters: 29

Pages: 313



A House Divided-Pearl S. Buck


"A House Divided," the third volume of the trilogy that began with "The Good Earth" and "Sons," is a powerful portrayal of China in the midst of revolution. Wang Yuan is caught between the opposing ideas of different generations. After 6 years abroad, Yuan returns to China in the middle of a peasant uprising. His cousin is a captain in the revolutionary army, his sister has scandalized the family by her premarital pregnancy, and his warlord father continues to cling to his traditional ideals. It is through Yuan's efforts that a kind of peace is restored to the family

Chapters: 4

Pages: 343




Coming Home by Mariah Stewart

In the wake of his wife’s murder, agent Grady Shields turned his back on the FBI—and everything else—to retreat into the vast solitude of Montana, grieve for his lost love, and forget the world. But after years in seclusion, his sister’s wedding draws him to St. Dennis, a peaceful town on the Chesapeake Bay. Though he swears he isn’t interested in finding love again, Grady can’t ignore the mutual sparks that fly when he meets Vanessa Keaton.

Although her past was marked by bad choices, Vanessa has found that coming to St. Dennis is the best decision she’s ever made. Bling, her trendy boutique, is a success with tourists as well as with the townspeople. She’s made friends, has a home she loves, and has established a life for herself far from the nightmare she left behind. The last thing she’s looking for is romance, but the hot new man in town is hard to resist. And when Vanessa’s past catches up with her, Grady finds that he’s unwilling to let her become a victim again. As together they fight her demons, Grady and Vanessa discover that life still holds some surprises and that love doesn’t always have to hurt.

Chapters: 21

Pages: 366

Beyond the Storm by Joseph Pittman


They chose their own roads, but they couldn't change their destination. . .

Twenty years ago, Vanessa Massey couldn't wait to graduate from high school and make her small hometown of Danton Hill a distant memory--despite an indelible friendship she'd recently forged. But life has largely ignored her plans, and time has summoned her back to the shores of Lake Ontario for a school reunion that could change everything.

After four years as Danton Hill High's resident outcast, Adam Blackburn went on to a successful career in New York City. Yet now he's drawn homeward for a reunion he's surprisingly curious to attend--if he and his car survive the fierce summer storm that's hit. Adam always hated storms and their destruction. And sure enough, he soon collides with another vehicle in the blinding rain. But it turns out the driver is the one person he'd hoped to see: Vanessa.

Reunited by Mother Nature, the two take shelter in an abandoned farmhouse where they are forced to decipher their unresolved history. Together, they'll unravel the twists of fate that have brought them to the present--and discover the remarkable truth that may carry them through the future. . .

Chapters: 18 plus prologue

Pages: 317

The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather



Perhaps Willa Cather's most autobiographical work, The Song of the Lark charts the story of a young woman's awakening as an artist against the backdrop of the western landscape. Thea Kronborg, an aspiring singer, struggles to escape from the confines her small Colorado town to the world of possibility in the Metropolitan Opera House. In classic Cather style, The Song of the Lark is the beautiful, unforgettable story of American determination and its inextricable connection to the land.

Chapters: 61 plus Preface and epilogue

Pages: 417


Chasing Hepburn: A Memoir of Shanghai, Hollywood, and a Chinese Family's Fight for Freedom by Gus Lee


“Lee . . . has created a gripping and beautiful portrait of his family. . . . Chasing Hepburn is nonfiction, but it reads just as richly as any novel.”—Boston Globe

“Gus Lee brings to his first work of nonfiction the consummate storytelling skills that have always delighted us in his critically acclaimed novels. I promise you that you will be captivated by this epic story of two families who epitomize all that is rich and varied in Chinese culture.”
—Ron Bass, screenwriter of The Joy Luck Club and Rain Man

Gus Lee takes us straight into the heart of twentieth-century Chinese society, offering a clear-eyed yet compassionate view of the forces that repeatedly tore apart and reconfigured the lives of his parents and their contemporaries. He moves deftly from recounting intimate household conversations to discussing major historical events, and the resulting story is by turns comic, harrowing, tragic, and heroic.

Chasing Hepburn is a saga that spans four generations, two continents, and half of Chinese history. In the masterful hands of acclaimed author Gus Lee, his ancestors’ stories spring vividly to life in a memoir with all the richness of great fiction.

Chapters: 72 plus preface

Pages: 532

Tainted Angel- Anne Cleeland 

A deadly game of deception
A notorious beauty with a shadowy past

In the time of Napoleon, Vidia Swanson appears to live a gilded life of ease and luxury. Beneath this façade, however, she works for the Home Office as an ‘angel,’ coaxing secrets from powerful men who may or may not be traitors to the Crown. In the course of her latest assignment, matters take an alarming turn when she realizes that her spymaster suspects that she is the one who is tainted--a double agent working for the enemy.

Lucien Carstairs is a fellow agent with his own dark secrets--unless he is setting an elaborate trap to reveal her own supposed treason. Backed into a corner, she can only hope to stay one step ahead of the hangman in a race to stop the next war before it destroys them--and destroys England.

Tainted Angel offers up a compelling game of cat and mouse in which no one can be trusted--and anyone can be tainted.

Chapters:47

Pages: 350

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay


Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is taken with her parents by the French police as they go door-to-door arresting French families in the middle of the night. Desperate to protect her younger brother, Sarah locks him in a bedroom cupboard-their secret hiding place-and promises to come back for him as soon as they are released.

Sixty Years Later: Sarah's story intertwines with that of Julia Jarmond, an American journalist investigating the roundup. In her research, Julia stumbles onto a trail of secrets that link her to Sarah, and to questions about her own romantic future.

Chapters: N/A

Pages: 293


My Ántonia by Willa Cather 

The story of Antonia Shimerda is told by one of her friends from childhood, Jim Burden, an orphaned boy from Virginia. Though he leaves the prairie, Jim never forgets the Bohemian girl who so profoundly influenced his life. An immigrant child of immigrant parents, Antonia's girlhood is spent working to help her parents wrest a living from the untamed land. Though in later years she suffers betrayal and desertion, through all the hardships of her life she preserves a valor of spirit that no hardship can daunt or break. When Jim Burden sees her again after many years, he finds her "a rich mine of life", a figure who has turned adversity into a particular kind of triumph in the true spirit of the pioneer.

Chapters: 45 plus Introduction

Pages: 289

I Am Livia by Phyllis T. Smith (June 3rd, 2014 TLC)


Her life would be marked by scandal and suspicion, worship and adoration…

At the tender age of fourteen, Livia Drusilla overhears her father and fellow aristocrats plotting the assassination of Julius Caesar. Proving herself an astute confidante, she becomes her father’s chief political asset—and reluctantly enters into an advantageous marriage to a prominent military officer. Her mother tells her, “It is possible for a woman to influence public affairs,” reminding Livia that—while she possesses a keen sense for the machinations of the Roman senate—she must also remain patient and practical.

But patience and practicality disappear from Livia’s mind when she meets Caesar’s heir, Octavianus. At only eighteen, he displays both power and modesty. A young wife by that point, Livia finds herself drawn to the golden-haired boy. In time, his fortunes will rise as Livia’s family faces terrible danger. But her sharp intellect—and her heart—will lead Livia to make an unbelievable choice: one that will give her greater sway over Rome than she could have ever foreseen.

Chapters: 17 plus author's note

Pages: 394

Chasing the Sun: A Novel by Natalia Sylvester (June 11th, 2014 TLC)

Andres suspects his wife has left him—again. Then he learns the unthinkable has happened: she’s been kidnapped. Set in Lima, Peru in a time of civil and political unrest, this evocative page-turner is a perfect marriage of domestic drama and suspense. Too much time and too many secrets have come between Andres and Marabela, but now that she’s gone, he’d do anything to get her back. Or will he? As Marabela slips further away, Andres must decide whether they still have something worth fighting for, and exactly what he’ll give up to bring her home. And unfortunately, the decision isn’t entirely up to him, or to the private mediator who moves into the family home to negotiate with the terrorists who are holding Marabela. Andres struggles to maintain the illusion of control, while simultaneously scrambling to collect his wife’s ransom, tending to the needs of his two young children, and reconnecting with an old friend who may hold the key to his past and his wife’s future.

Chapters: 15

Pages: 287

The Sense of Touch by Ron Parsons (July 30th, 2014, Pump up your book)


Sprung from the variously lush, rugged, and frozen emotional landscapes of the north country, this luminous collection of stories captures the progress of a diverse ensemble of souls as they struggle to uncover themselves and negotiate a meaningful communion, of any kind, with the world around them. A brilliant but troubled Bangladeshi physics student searches for balance, acceptance, and his own extraordinary destiny after his father disappears. When a Halloween blizzard immobilizes Minneapolis, a young woman is forced to confront the snow-bound nature of her own relationships and emotions. During an excursion to an idyllic swimming hole hidden in the Black Hills, two old friends unexpectedly compete for the affections of an irresistible, though married, Lakota woman. Like a mythical expedition to reach the horizon or the quest to distill truth from the beauty around us, the revelation confirmed by these imaginative stories - elegant, sometimes jarring, always wonderfully absurd - is that the very act of reaching is itself a form of touch.

Chapters: N/A

Pages: 250

The Liberty Flower by Katie Hanrahan

Since the fall of Charles Town, Sarah Mahon has found success as a spy for the partisan militia, until Jack Ashford comes ashore. She soon learns that she cannot judge the enemy by the color of his uniform, because a willing man can be made to change his colors by the right woman. It is a discovery that her rebel father does not share. As she is courted by Lt. Jack Ashford of the Royal Navy, those she thinks are allies actively sabotage the relationship that would take Sarah away from the Low Country she longs to escape. A rash act of rebellion meant to cement an engagement will destroy her plans, but Jack is not so easily discouraged. Even after Sarah marries another to save face, the naval officer will not rest until he has claimed Sarah as his own...at any cost.

Chapters: 22

Pages: 262

Nine Inches: Stories by Tom Perrotta


Nine Inches, Tom Perrotta’s first true collection, features ten stories—some sharp and funny, some mordant and surprising, and a few intense and disturbing.   Whether he’s dropping into the lives of two teachers—and their love lost and found—in “Nine Inches”, documenting  the unraveling of a dad at a Little League game in “The Smile on Happy Chang’s Face”, or gently marking the points of connection between an old woman and a benched high school football player in “Senior Season”, Perrotta writes with a sure sense of his characters and their secret longings.

Nine Inches contains an elegant collection of short fiction: stories that are as assured in their depictions of characters young and old, established and unsure, as any written today.

Chapters: N/A

Pages: 246

Vienna's Last Jihad by C. Wayne Dawson (June 6th, 2014 Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour)

Brash and brilliant, twenty year old Mathis Zieglar, Professor of Languages, faces an agonizing choice: should he fight the Turks who take his family hostage and move to destroy Vienna? Or should he betray his army to save his kin? Vienna’s Last Jihad is an historical novel set against the 1683 siege of Vienna.

Europe is balanced on a knife’s edge while Mathis, the man who holds its fate in his hands, struggles against powerful enemies: Father Sistini, a Jesuit who brands him a heretic and drags Mathis’ fiancée off to the Inquisition; a xenophobic city mob, who wants him dead for protecting a Hungarian soldier; but most dangerous of all, Captain Tyrek, a Muslim chieftain who will kill Mathis’ family unless he spies against his own army. One by one, Tyrek’s agents murder Mathis’ closest associates in an attempt to isolate him. As 138,000 Turks grind down Vienna’s 15,000 defenders with no relief in sight, Mathis’ only chance to save family and country is to use his ability to speak Tartar and the knack he learned as a child to leap, whirl like an unwinding mainspring, and strike.

The 1683 siege of Vienna was an historic turning point in the struggle between East and West. Had the defenders failed, the invaders would have gutted Central Europe in a rampage of mass slaughter and enslavement.
Vienna’s Last Jihad is a novel of 99, 600 words and will appeal to those who enjoy the military action of Bernard Cornwell’s Richard Sharpe series and the mystery suspense of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose.

Chapters: 26 plus Foreword and epilogue

Pages: 314

The Living Memories Project: Legacies That Last by Meryl Ain, Arthur M. Fischman, and Stewart Ain (June 26th, 2014 Pump up your book)


A collection of stories from Nick Clooney, Lynda Johnson Robb, Jack Klugman, and others who lost someone dear to them and how they keep their memories alive through memory quilts, the arts, scholarships, poetry, recipes, and many other ways to remember their loved ones.

Chapters: 32 plus introduction and foreword

Pages: 185