Friday, April 18, 2014

G316 Book Review of The Winter Siege by DW Bradbridge

Name of Book: The Winter Siege

Author: D.W. Bradbridge

ISBN: 9781492795711

Publisher: Valebridge publications

Type of book: England, 1643-1644, war, Nantwitch, salt business, cheese business, Parliamentary cause vs Royalist cause, town siege, survival, chaos, mystery

Year it was published: 2013

Summary:

1643. The armies of King Charles I and Parliament clash in the streets and fields of England, threatening to tear the country apart, as winter closes in around the parliamentary stronghold of Nantwich. The royalists have pillaged the town before, and now, they are returning. But even with weeks to prepare before the Civil War is once more at its gates, that doesn’t mean the people of Nantwich are safe.

While the garrison of soldiers commanded by Colonel George Booth stand guard, the town’s residents wait, eyeing the outside world with unease, unaware that they face a deadly threat from within. Townspeople are being murdered – the red sashes of the royalists left on the bodies marking them as traitors to the parliamentary cause.

When the first dead man is found, his skull caved in with a rock, fingers start being pointed, and old hatreds rise to the surface. It falls to Constable Daniel Cheswis to contain the bloodshed, deputising his friend, Alexander Clowes, to help him in his investigations, carried out with the eyes of both armies on his back. And they are not the only ones watching him.

He is surrounded by enemies, and between preparing for the imminent battle, watching over his family, being reunited with his long-lost sweetheart, and trying, somehow, to stay in business, he barely has time to solve a murder.

With few clues and the constant distraction of war, can Cheswis protect the people of Nantwich? And which among them need protecting? Whether they are old friends or troubled family, in these treacherous times, everyone’s a traitor, in war, law, or love.

When the Winter Siege is through, who will be among the bodies?

Characters:

The main character is Daniel Cheswis who happens to be a bachelor and in the given circumstances is trying his best to discover the murderer, keep order and figure out what's going on in the town and why things are degenerating from within, (minus the war.) Daniel is best described as heroic, brave, determined and loyal to friends and family and even an old love. There is also his younger brother Simon who has something odd going on, Colonel Booth who does the best he can to protect the town, and he relies greatly on Daniel and so forth. Great deal of focus was on Daniel Cheswis, while other characters seemed to flit throughout the novel.

Theme:

Nothing is what it seems

Plot:

Most of the book is written in first person narrative from Daniel's point of view, and maybe 5 percent is from a third person omniscient narrator, when the author feels its necessary to focus on the bigger picture. (Although when its bigger picture, the chapter is italicized.) The story is gripping and the language style is perfect: that is its an easy read and unpredictable. I barely even noticed the length of the book.

Author Information:
D.W. Bradbridge was born in 1960 and grew up in Bolton. He has lived in Crewe, Cheshire since 2000, where he and his wife run a small magazine publishing business for the automotive industry.
“The inspiration for The Winter Siege came from a long-standing interest in genealogy and local history. My research led me to the realisation that the experience endured by the people of Nantwich during December and January 1643-44 was a story worth telling. I also realised that the closed, tension-filled environment of the month-long siege provided the ideal setting for a crime novel.
“History is a fascinating tool for the novelist. It consists only of what is remembered and written down, and contemporary accounts are often written by those who have their own stories to tell. But what about those stories which were forgotten and became lost in the mists of time?
“In writing The Winter Siege, my aim was to take the framework of real history and fill in the gaps with a story of what could, or might have happened. Is it history or fiction? It’s for the reader to decide.”
For more information please visit D.W. Bradbridge’s website. You can also find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

Buy the Book


Opinion:

First of all, love the cover! This book is quite different than what one would expect. While it does involve some nobility, most of the focus is on the common man, a cheese merchant as well as what goes on in the town. The nobility play a background part so to speak. The author is pretty good at making you feel back in time while at the same time not alienating the average reader. He explains the situation well as well as being extremely meticulous with research. I think because I wanted to know how a specific event tied to the bigger picture and how they got from point A to point B, I was confused by the history aspect, although I enjoyed learning about the salt trade and daily life in 1600s. I really can't find a single thing to complain about, which is a rarity for me.

This is for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, April 7Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, April 8Review at Must Read Faster
Wednesday, April 9Review at Staircase Wit
Friday, April 11Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Monday, April 14Review at Princess of Eboli
Wednesday, April 16Review at Caroline Wilson Writes
Interview at Layered Pages
Thursday, April 17Interview at MK McClintock Blog
Review & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick
Friday, April 18Review at bookramblings
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

5 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.)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

G299 Book Review of Incendiary Girls by Kodi Scheer

General Information:


Name of Book: Incendiary Girls

ISBN: 978-0-544-30046-0

Publisher: Houghton

Year it was published: 2014

Author: Kodi Scheer








About the Author:
(From TLC)
Kodi Scheer teaches writing at the University of Michigan.  For her work as a writer-in-residence at the Comprehensive Cancer Center, she was awarded the Dzanc Prize for Excellence in Literary Fiction and Community Service.  Her stories have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Iowa review, and other publications.









Overall theme:

One can never tame or get rid of nature

1. Fundamental Laws of Nature 

Short Summary

Ellen, a gynecologist, is convinced that her mother became reincarnated as her daughter's lesson horse. While that story is going, Ellen begins to reflect on how reincarnation works.

2. Transplant

Short Summary:

Angela, who is suffering from a bad heart gets a heart transplant and begins to change into a way she doesn't recognize herself.

3. Miss Universe

Short Summary:

During the competition for Miss Universe, some contestants discover that Miss Afghan is faking certain aspects of herself, thus they decide to pay her back.

4. Gross Anatomy

Short Summary:

Kate, a woman who's in an anatomy class, has a mother that's also suffering and desires to go to Brazil. While that is going on, she converses with Gabe who happens to be a cadaver and both are taken apart one by one.

5. When a camel breaks your heart

Short summary:

A woman falls in love with a Muslim man named Mahir and wants it to be long-term while Mahir doesn't have these desires. When they discuss what pet to get, Mahir wants a camel named Zamboni, and consequences follow.

6. No Monsters Here

Short Summary:

Mysteriously Hannah, who suffers from a severe OCD begins to find remains of her husband around the house, uncertain of what it could mean or why its happening to her.

7. Salt of the Earth

Short Summary:

A mysterious love disease (literally disease with germs,) causes small town residents to act on their impulses against their wills, causing much mischief and tears.

8. Modern Medicine

Short Summary:

Rita, a nurse that works in the burn unit, goes out to Mexico with a friend Ashley, and while there, she reminisces about Cal Bishop who has passed away.

9. Primal Son

Short Summary:

Olivia and David are a couple that were unable to conceive a child for a very long time until Olivia gives birth to a son that happens to be a monkey. They struggle to get along, and eventually figure out a way to do so by an interesting choice.

10. Ex-Utero

Short Summary:

Zoe, a student doctor, goes through an interesting evening dealing with different people and reflecting on the sacrifices she had to make in order to continue to do what she is doing.

11. Incendiary Girls

Short Summary:

An angel and her colleagues make a bet on how long Vartouhi, an Armenian girl, can live before she dies, and Vartouhi ends up surprising the angels.

Personal Opinion

The stories that I enjoyed were Transplant, Miss Universe, and Incendiary Girls. For the last story alone, I would have given five stars due to the creepy and sickening factors that I experienced while reading it. I found some stories to be puzzling on the first read and they didn't have the depth of the stories I mentioned, or at least not as much as the ones I mentioned. Overall an interesting short collection of stories that really makes one think.

This is for TLC Book Tour

Kodi Scher’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Tuesday, April 8th:  Bibliophiliac
Wednesday, April 9th:  Bound by Words
Thursday, April 10th:  Book Snob
Friday, April 11th:  50 Books Project
Monday, April 14th:  The Things You Can Read
Tuesday, April 15th:  Patricia’s Wisdom
Wednesday, April 16th:  Booksie’s Blog
Thursday, April 17th:  Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Friday, April 18th:  Books are the New Black
Monday, April 21st:  What She Read
Tuesday, April 22nd:  Bookish Ardour
Wednesday, April 23rd:  No More Grumpy Bookseller
Thursday, April 24th:  Jorie Loves a Story
Monday, April 28th:  Guiltless Reading
Wednesday, April 30th:  The Written World
Thursday, May 1st:  The Scarlet Letter
Tuesday, May 6th:  Savvy Verse and Wit
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 16, 2014

G295 Book Review of 1066: What Fates Impose by G.K Holloway

Name of Book: 1066 What Fates Impose

Author: G.K Holloway

ISBN: 978-1-78306-220-1

Publisher:  Troubador Publishing Ltd

Type of book: England, William Duke of Normandy, relationships, family, kingdom, ruling, 1045-1066, uniting, France, medieval, politics, history, treaties, King Harold, King Edward the Confessor, political struggle, battles

Year it was published: 2014

Summary:

King William then utters the following words to the room: ‘I appoint no one as my heir to the Crown of England, but leave it to the disposal of the Eternal Creator, whose I am and who orders all things. For I did not attain that high honour by hereditary right, but wrested it from the perjured King Harold in a desperate bloody battle.’

England is in crisis. King Edward has no heir and promises never to produce one. There are no obvious successors available to replace him, but quite a few claimants are eager to take the crown. While power struggles break out between the various factions at court, enemies abroad plot to make England their own. There are raids across the borders with Wales and Scotland.

Harold Godwinson, Earl of Wessex, is seen by many as the one man who can bring stability to the kingdom. He has powerful friends and two women who love him, but he has enemies will stop at nothing to gain power. As 1066 begins, England heads for an uncertain future. It seems even the heavens are against Harold.

Intelligent and courageous, can Harold forge his own destiny – or does he have to bow to what fates impose?

Characters:

The main character or characters would be Harold who is the second son of Goodwin. He is painted favorably in the book and does his best to do whatever he can for his family, even at the risk of alienating some certain family members. By other characters he is described as popular and well-liked. There is also Edward, the King of England who seems to be either homosexual or asexual as well as other countless characters. Although I'm not familiar with this particular event and time period, I really can't tell with which things did the author take creative liberties? The story seems very well fleshed out.

Theme:

Be careful in life

Plot:

The book is written in third person narrative from what seems to be everyone's point of view, or almost everyone's, although the point of view switch wasn't confusing for me. While I liked the characters, Harold in particularly, I would have liked there to be more of Edward and his wife. (Have to admit that Edward is an interesting character, especially when it comes to his wife.) Women characters do tend to be strong, but they aren't given large parts, and they seem to be active in the beginning before fading out until the end, unfortunately. But still, its probably the first non-romance focused historical fiction that really entertained me and where I wanted to learn more about Great Britain.

Author Information:
I have been interested in history since I was a boy, which I suppose explains why, when I came across a degree course in History and Politics at Coventry University that looked tailor made for me, I applied right away.
In my first year at Coventry I lived in the halls of residence within a stone’s throw of the Leofric Hotel. In the opposite direction, just a short walk from my halls, is the bell tower that houses a clock, which when its bell chimes the hour, produces a half size model of naked Lady Godiva riding a horse for the titillation of tourists. Above her, Peeping Tom leans out of a window for a better view. In all of the three years I was there, it never once occurred to me that I would one day write a book featuring Earl Leofric and his famous wife, as key players.
After graduating I spent a year in Canada before I returned to England to train as a Careers Officer in Bristol. Later, I lived and worked in Gloucestershire as a Careers Officer and then in Adult Education as an Education Guidance worker.
After I met my wife, I moved back to Bristol to live and I worked at Bath Spa University as a Student Welfare Officer for a number of years. It was about this time I read a biography about King Harold II which fascinated me so much I read more and more about the man and the times. I found the whole pre-conquest period of England so interesting I couldn’t understand why no one had written a novel about it. So, I decided to write one myself. Now, after many years of study and time spent over a hot keyboard, I have finally produced thatnovel.
1066: What Fates Impose is the result of all that study and hard work and is the first book I’ve written. I am now working on a sequel.

Buy the Book


Opinion:

I have to be honest that although I'm a history major, I know next to nothing about British history. My knowledge goes something like this: Roman Empire up until 6th century Byzantium then Crusades which began in 1097 and this is up until 15th century. In other words, I read this book knowing absolutely little to nothing about the time-line as well as the setting. I really liked this book, really enjoyed learning about England of 1060s. (A map would have been helpful though.) Reading this, I felt that I finally understood why Britain and France hate each other, as well as why England treated its future colonies so abominably. The seeds of hatred and of why are right in this book. I was also impressed with the research, enjoyed the conversations, and yes, the author has inspired me to read more information about Great Britain and what happened before. (Don't worry, he does go over the previous events in a great deal.) I do feel that the book is biased more towards English than the French, and some parts I didn't understand, such as the reason why Harold treated one of his brothers the way he did. By the way, loved the first four pages.

Virtual Tour and Book Blast Schedule

Monday, April 14
Book Blast at Kincavel Korner
Book Blast at Historical Fiction Connection
Tuesday, April 15
Book Blast at Passages to the Past
Book Blast at Let Them Read Books
Wednesday, April 16
Review at Svetlana’s Reviews and Views
Book Blast at To Read or Not to Read
Thursday, April 17
Book Blast at Closed the Cover
Book Blast at Historical Tapestry
Friday, April 18
Book Blast at Time 2 Read
Book Blast at The Bookworm
Monday, April 21
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Book Blast at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Tuesday, April 22
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, April 23
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Interview at The Maiden’s Court
Thursday, April 24
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Book Blast at Reading the Ages
Friday, April 25
Review at Impressions in Ink
Book Blast at Ink Sugar Blog
Book Blast at The Mad Reviewer
Monday, April 28
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
Book Blast at Just One More Chapter
Tuesday, April 29
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Book Blast at Historical Readings and Reviews
Wednesday, April 30
Review at Historical Tapestry
Book Blast at Book Nerd
Thursday, May 1
Book Blast at Caroline Wilson Writes
Friday, May 2
Review at Curling Up By the Fire
Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Book Blast at A Book Geek
Book Blast at Layered Pages
This is for Historical Fiction Virtual 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 15, 2014

G272 Book Review of Black Chalk by Christopher J Yates

Name of Book: Black Chalk

Author: Christopher J Yates

ISBN: 978-1-84655-728-6

Publisher: Random House UK

Type of book: Game, suspense, friendship, college, tests, dares, isolation, drugs, revenge, 1990s, group, secret society

Year it was published: 2013

Summary:

A game of consequences, of silly forfeits, childish dares. A game to be played by six best friends in their first year at Oxford University. But then the game changed: the stakes grew higher and the dares more personal, more humiliating, finally evolving into a vicious struggle with unpredictable and tragic results.

Now, fourteen years later, the remaining players must meet again for the final round.

Characters:

For some odd reason I had trouble differentiating characters, or at least recalling the function and major of Mark. (Was he the sleepy guy Physics guy?) But anyway, here goes: Jolyon is best described as sort of a golden boy who is well liked, popular, handsome and knowledgeable, while Chad seems to have self-esteem problems and has a complex. There is also Jack who is supposed to be the a history major and a comedian and often gets on Dee's nerves. There's Emilia who is blond and is there just to be there I think. (I recall she has problems with the way miners are treated,) and Dee whose real name is Cassandra but they call her that because she is determined to write 500 poems (Roman numeral D) and then kill herself. I honestly liked Dee out of all the characters.

Theme:

Be careful who you share your secrets with

Plot:

The book has two points of view: when it takes place in present time, its written in first person narrative from a mysterious male that was part of the game, but it had a negative impact on him, while the other is in third person narrative from either Jolyon's or Chad's points of views. I get the feeling that this is one of the books that should be read twice instead of only once. Lack of details towards certain matters really distracted me from enjoying the story, and its only in the last part of the book do I finally learn how creepy the story becomes.

Author Information:
(From TLC)

Christopher J. Yates studied law at Wadham College, Oxford from 1990-93 and initially pursued a career in law before he began working in puzzles, representing the UK at the World Puzzle Championships. Since then he has worked as a freelance journalist, sub-editor and puzzles editor/compiler. In 2007 he moved to New York City with his wife, and currently lives in the East Village.
For more information on Christopher, please visit his website, christopherjyates.com.
Opinion:

When I accepted the book, from the summary I seriously thought it would be similar to a favorite Japanese drama of mine titled Liar Game. But while Liar Game keeps me on my toes and throws unexpected sucker punches, this book doesn't do that, although the story is interesting, I feel that it needs more work: the idea itself is interesting, but I often felt that we literally went from point A to point B without dealing with the why it happened the way it did. I was more concerned with small details: for example, there is a hermit who seems to suffer from agoraphobia and while the reader does learn who he is and why he suffers from it, I often wondered how he came into possession of money and how he can afford to feed himself as well as liquor and other items? Also, how does the game work? I mean the basic rules instead of it just being very vague as well as a bigger role of the mysterious Game Soc (And why they chose to share their information with a specific character when the winner wasn't clear yet.)

This is for TLC Book Tour

TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS for BLACK CHALK:

Monday, March 31st:  A Bookworm’s World
Tuesday, April 1st:  My Shelf Confessions
Tuesday, April 1st:  Books and Movies
Wednesday, April 2nd:  Chaotic Compendiums
Thursday, April 3rd:  Joyfully Retired
Thursday, April 3rd:  Bibliotica
Friday, April 4th:  Not in Jersey
Monday, April 7th:  Jenn’s Bookshelves
Monday, April 7th:  Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Tuesday, April 8th:  Booksie’s Blog
Wednesday, April 9th:  Reading Reality
Thursday, April 10th:  Read. Write. Repeat.
Friday, April 11th:  Book Journey
Monday, April 14th:  Book Dilettante
Monday, April 14th:  Daily Mayo
Tuesday, April 15th:  Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Wednesday, April 16th:  No More Grumpy Bookseller
Thursday, April 17th:  October Country
Friday, April 18th:  Daily Mayo – author interview
Monday, April 21st:  Kritter’s Ramblings
Tuesday, April 22nd:  Redheaded Book Child
Wednesday, April 23rd:  Sarah’s Book Shelves
Thursday, April 24th:  My Bookshelf
Friday, April 25th:  Between the Covers
Thursday, May 1st:  Books a la Mode
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 14, 2014

Progress Sheet...Week 15 of 2014

Book Tours to look forward to:

City of Promises by D. Grant Fitter (April 14th, 2014 Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour)

Rip-Roaring Historical Novel Thrusts Readers into Unpredictable 1940s Mexico City.

When one credulous young country boy with lofty plans leaves his Mexican rural life for the promise and riches of the ‘big city’, will it live up to its reputation? In a unique fusion of fact and fiction, author D. Grant Fitter's social commentary gives a rare insight into life south of the border, recapturing the golden era of one of the world’s most eclectic cities.

"They call this the city of promise, Arturo, but it is a city of promises and very few of those promises are true."

Mexico City has always held a charm and allure that millions are unable to resist. Taking a trip back in time, CITY OF PROMISES revisits 1940s Mexico City, where one young man is coming of age with capricious gusto.

Arturo Fuentes' rise, his loves, and his relations with shady characters tell the compelling story of a place that both touched the hearts and shattered the dreams of millions.

Black Chalk-Christopher J Yates (April 15th, 2014, TLC)


One game. Six students. Five survivors.

It was only ever meant to be a game.

A game of consequences, of silly forfeits, childish dares. A game to be played by six best friends in their first year at Oxford University. But then the game changed: the stakes grew higher and the dares more personal, more humiliating, finally evolving into a vicious struggle with unpredictable and tragic results.

Now, fourteen years later, the remaining players must meet again for the final round.




1066: What Fates Impose-G.K. Holloway (April 16th, 2014 Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour)

King William then utters the following words to the room: ‘I appoint no one as my heir to the Crown of England, but leave it to the disposal of the Eternal Creator, whose I am and who orders all things. For I did not attain that high honour by hereditary right, but wrested it from the perjured King Harold in a desperate bloody battle.’

England is in crisis. King Edward has no heir and promises never to produce one. There are no obvious successors available to replace him, but quite a few claimants are eager to take the crown. While power struggles break out between the various factions at court, enemies abroad plot to make England their own. There are raids across the borders with Wales and Scotland.

Harold Godwinson, Earl of Wessex, is seen by many as the one man who can bring stability to the kingdom. He has powerful friends and two women who love him, but he has enemies will stop at nothing to gain power. As 1066 begins, England heads for an uncertain future. It seems even the heavens are against Harold.

Intelligent and courageous, can Harold forge his own destiny – or does he have to bow to what fates impose?

Incendiary Girls-Kodi Scheer (April 17th, 2014, TLC)


Incendiary Girls explores our baser instincts with vivid imagination and humor. In these stories, our bodies become strange and unfamiliar terrain, a medium for transformation. In “Fundamental Laws of Nature,” a doctor considers her legacy, both good and bad, when she discovers that her mother has been reincarnated as a thoroughbred mare. In the title story, a mischievous angel chronicles the remarkable life of a girl just beyond death’s reach.In Scheer’s hands, empathy and attachment are illuminated by the absurdity of life. When our bodies betray us, when we begin to feel our minds slip, how much can we embrace without going insane? How much can we detach ourselves before losing our humanity? Scheer’s stories grapple with these questions in each throbbing, choking, heartbreaking moment.




The Winter Siege by D.W. Bradbridge (April 18th, 2014 Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour)

1643. The armies of King Charles I and Parliament clash in the streets and fields of England, threatening to tear the country apart, as winter closes in around the parliamentary stronghold of Nantwich. The royalists have pillaged the town before, and now, they are returning. But even with weeks to prepare before the Civil War is once more at its gates, that doesn’t mean the people of Nantwich are safe.

While the garrison of soldiers commanded by Colonel George Booth stand guard, the town’s residents wait, eyeing the outside world with unease, unaware that they face a deadly threat from within. Townspeople are being murdered – the red sashes of the royalists left on the bodies marking them as traitors to the parliamentary cause.

When the first dead man is found, his skull caved in with a rock, fingers start being pointed, and old hatreds rise to the surface. It falls to Constable Daniel Cheswis to contain the bloodshed, deputising his friend, Alexander Clowes, to help him in his investigations, carried out with the eyes of both armies on his back. And they are not the only ones watching him.

He is surrounded by enemies, and between preparing for the imminent battle, watching over his family, being reunited with his long-lost sweetheart, and trying, somehow, to stay in business, he barely has time to solve a murder.

With few clues and the constant distraction of war, can Cheswis protect the people of Nantwich? And which among them need protecting? Whether they are old friends or troubled family, in these treacherous times, everyone’s a traitor, in war, law, or love.

When the Winter Siege is through, who will be among the bodies?

Books to be Reviewed:

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.

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. . .






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.

The Winter Siege by D.W. Bradbridge (April 18th, 2014 Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour)


1643. The armies of King Charles I and Parliament clash in the streets and fields of England, threatening to tear the country apart, as winter closes in around the parliamentary stronghold of Nantwich. The royalists have pillaged the town before, and now, they are returning. But even with weeks to prepare before the Civil War is once more at its gates, that doesn’t mean the people of Nantwich are safe.

While the garrison of soldiers commanded by Colonel George Booth stand guard, the town’s residents wait, eyeing the outside world with unease, unaware that they face a deadly threat from within. Townspeople are being murdered – the red sashes of the royalists left on the bodies marking them as traitors to the parliamentary cause.

When the first dead man is found, his skull caved in with a rock, fingers start being pointed, and old hatreds rise to the surface. It falls to Constable Daniel Cheswis to contain the bloodshed, deputising his friend, Alexander Clowes, to help him in his investigations, carried out with the eyes of both armies on his back. And they are not the only ones watching him.

He is surrounded by enemies, and between preparing for the imminent battle, watching over his family, being reunited with his long-lost sweetheart, and trying, somehow, to stay in business, he barely has time to solve a murder.

With few clues and the constant distraction of war, can Cheswis protect the people of Nantwich? And which among them need protecting? Whether they are old friends or troubled family, in these treacherous times, everyone’s a traitor, in war, law, or love.

When the Winter Siege is through, who will be among the bodies?

Books I'm Reading:

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.

Chapters: 3 out of 16

Pages: 30 out of 215

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: 49 out of 54

Pages: 885 out of 1090

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.

Chapters: 21 out of 80? plus prologue

Pages: 57 out of 289

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.

Chapters: 13 out of 57

Pages: 67 out of 300




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.

Chapters: N/A

Pages: 252 out of 408

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


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: 4 out of 14 plus prologue

Pages: 73 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: 4 out of 69

Pages: 29 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: 3 out of N/A

Pages: 33 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: 3 out of 45

Pages: 21 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: 3 out of 49

Pages: 12 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: 3 out of 32

Pages: 27 out of 367

Future Readings:

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: 39

Pages: 393

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 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: 8 plus introduction and appendices

Pages: 239

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: 9 parts

Pages: 516

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