Sunday, June 30, 2013

G156 E-Reading Book Review of #2 Trail of the Chupacabra by Stephen Randel

Name of Book: Trail of the Chupacabra: An Avery Bartholomew Pendleton Misadventure

Author: Stephen Randel

ISBN: 978-0988222519

Publisher: Knuckleball Press

Part of a Series: Chupacabra Series

Type of book: Mexico, humor, suspense, betrayal, gangs, Chupacabra, mystery, voodoo, Texas, Austin, global theories

Year it was published: 2013


Avery Bartholomew Pendleton is back, and he’s just as crazy as ever. Avery is a paranoid loner obsessed with global conspiracy theories who spends most of his time crafting absurd and threatening letters to anyone who offends him. That means pretty much everyone.

Still convinced of the existence of the mythical Mexican chupacabra*, Avery enlists the assistance of the Southwest Texas Revolutionary Armed Confederate Border Operations Militia (STRAC-BOM) and their manic leader, General X-Ray, to help him invade Mexico. Accompanied by Ziggy, a burned-out hippy, and an uncommonly large iguana named Nancy, the group follows the advice of a New Orleans voodoo priestess and heads straight into the Mexican desert.

Unfortunately for the motley gang of explorers, Mexico can be a dangerous place if you cross the wrong people -- specifically, the Padre, a vicious drug cartel boss, and El Barquero, a murderous gunrunner who has crossed Avery’s path before.

What unfolds is a laugh-out-loud dark comedy of insane humor, unforgettable characters, and chilling thrills.

*No chupacabras were injured in the writing of this book.


There are actually a lot of characters which might detract from the story because one has to know which characters are which. The characters are well rounded and unique however, each with their own quirks and wishes. I wish Miss Pearl was back in the book, but its okay. In addition to characters from the prequel, some new characters are introduced such as El Carnicerio, the Voodoo Queen, and the lawyer that takes care of Avery's lawsuits. I enjoyed reading and getting to know the unique characters, as well as learning some interesting backgrounds of certain personages and their motives.


Sometimes the most impossible can be possible


This is written in third person narrative from what seems to be everyone's point of view, or at least almost everyone's point of view. Avery speaks his mind, as well as STRAC-BOM members, Ziggy, the Voodoo Queen, El Barquero, El Padre and El Carnicerio. I have read this book first instead of the prequel, thus I was confused about some parts, especially when one of the members have worked previously with Avery, although that was resolved after reading the prequel. The author chooses the right characters to narrate the story, and the strengths of these characters are much enhanced in this book. What might have helped is sort of a layout or character sheet for the STRAC-BOM because I was confused about who was operating under whom and it would have helped me out greatly. The book does tackle serious issues in Mexico such as corruption, mafia, violence and so forth, but there is a lot of humor there to offset the impossible issues. The author also presents hope as well.

Author Information:

Stephen Randel, CFA, was born in Houston, Texas. He is a graduate of Texas Christian University. Steve now lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and their two rescue dogs.


What happens when you mix a chupacabra, a burn out hippy, a man who sees conspiracies everywhere, a crew of soldiers who believe they're defending Texas from Mexicans, cartels, Mexican gang, a male lizard named Nancy and even a voodoo queen to boot all in one book? Well you get a delightful read and this book. For those who have read the prequel titled The Chupacabra, you have already met Avery Bartholomew Pendleton who seems to suffer from a sort of mental disorder and writes hate letters in his spare time as well as going through numerous lawsuits from what seems to be everyone, including his own lawyer even! You have also met STRAC-BOM led by General X-Ray who seems to suffer from the similar disorder that Avery has. You have also met El Padre, the Mexican version of Godfather as well as El Barquero and Ziggy the burnout hippy. The book is written a whole lot better than the prequel in my opinion; there are madcap adventures such as stealing a school-bus, the mysterious link between chupacabra and the Yankees, more about El Barquero and more about El Padre as well as The Butcher (El Carnicerio?) if I'm not mistaken. The author has done a good job into writing a plausible story made out of implausible events. There is a lot of humor in the story, my favorite part being the stolen school bus and seeing Avery come up with interesting ideas, such as Mountain-Dew pork rinds.

I would like to thank Sage's Blog Tours for the opportunity in reading the book. 

Tour Schedule:

June 13th Authors & Readers Book Corner
June 13th Aspired Writer
June 14th The Book Barn
June 17th my name is: Sage
June 19th The Indiscriminate Critic
June 21st The Reading Frenzy
June 22nd Bookworm Brandee
June 23rd Time For Reading
June 25th Books Keep Me Sane
June 26th The Sisters' Tale
June 27th Book Fidelity
June 28th Devoted Mommy of 3
June 30th Book Review Blog
July 1st To The Point
July 3rd A Chick Reading
July 4th Ashutosh’s Blog

Stephen's website
Goodreads link
Amazon link

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.)

Friday, June 28, 2013

01.Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James Rant

Name of Book: Fifty Shades of Grey

Author: EL James

ISBN: 9781612130293

Publisher: Vintage

Part of a Series: Fifty Shades

Type of book: abuse, fanfiction, plagiarism, fifty shades of grey, bdsm, America Washington, British slang, insult to injury, milking the cow

Year it was published: 2011


When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.

Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.

Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.

This book is intended for mature audiences


Before getting technical and before my Medusa fury becomes unleashed at the author and the books, let me mention my definition of romance: it's someone who respects your boundaries, does not pressure you into anything you don't want to do, and is gentle and sweet. My definition of romance also includes someone who gives without asking anything in return and someone who is not afraid of commitment.

To be fair, I couldn't stomach reading Fifty Shades itself and when I tried to do it on my Sony e-reader, I couldn't get past fourth or fifth paragraph where Anastasia continues to obsess about her hair. Since I couldn't bear seeing the written word in this case, I thought of using youtube video but alas the ones I liked were taken down, and I still couldn't listen to the actual non-funny sensual Fifty Shades audio, which left me with one last option: chapter recaps. I was lucky. Here's the link to the recaps I read: Link by Jenny Trout.

Even reading the recaps by Jenny Trout proved to be an incredibly draining task, not because she's a horrible writer (on the contrary her commentary helped me survive,) but because just mere snippets of the paragraphs from the book literally made me want to choke myself.

I wondered at what comparison I could use between the book and Ana's behavior, and realized that Barbie Girl by Aqua seems more appropriate. Really listen to the lyrics and pay attention to some scenes, such as how Ken gets Barbie to get to party, or the disturbing lyrics of the fact that Barbie is asking for someone to do stuff to her. I know that its just a song, and that I'm over-analyzing and stuff, but this is the feeling I got while reading chapter recaps!

This book is even worse than all the other bad books I have read in my entire life; not even Dickens or Dumas have encouraged me to come up with a -1 stars! On second thought, because I'm listening to Smile by Lilly Allen, this is Mr. Grey's point of view, at least smiling at the pain and crying part.

Okay, enough songs, right? Please unleash your fury and tell the world how much you hated the book and what you hated about it. People who read my blog on a daily basis (thank you by the way :) ) know that for one reason or another I cannot stand to read British literature, at least what one would consider classical British literature. This book is British literature personified; too much telling and no showing, unrealistic dialogue and situations between the characters and so forth. This is one of the creepiest novels I have had a chance to read. The style is very similar to that of Twilight, but somehow E.L James makes the style a lot more worse than that of Twilight. And if the chapter recaps are correct, this is similar to Bridget Jones diary? (Will never forget reading that book either, although for horrible reasons instead of good ones... and in one instance I will say that MOVIE is better than the BOOK!)

The transition between thoughts and actions is very poorly handled and it struck me that either Ana or the author are having some kind of withdrawal symptoms, or else this was a poorly written epistolary novel or else E.L James drinks way too much caffeine than is good for her. There is rape of the thesaurus with unnecessary adjectives, although worse than Twilight's Stephenie Meyer misplaced adjectives of providential and so forth.

I find it ironic that for a culture and time period that allows women to explore their sexuality and more decisions dealing with motherhood, career and so forth, the book that puts down Ana's decisions and her right to be treated respectfully is worshiped this way, and women want for men to be either like Christian Grey or Edward Cullen. Back then when women had little choice and voice in these matters, books that remained popular treated women respectfully, and heroines were more stronger. For example, in Mysteries of Udolpho, the heroine wasn't raped or mistreated physically, I don't think. Yeah there were mysteries and threats on her life, but she ended up with someone good and decent instead of someone who wanted to spank her with a belt. In Dumas's book, Louise de la Valliere, Vicomte de Bragelone never forces or rapes or punishes Louise de la Valliere but does let her go to love the king. In Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov treats the girl prostitute with respect instead of scorn and abuse, and so forth. I wonder why its like this? What is lacking that so many women love this book and would want for men to be like Christian Grey or Edward Cullen? How and why did this become a romance novel? Its not a romance novel I'm familiar with, and the only ones I could recall are by Janelle Taylor, which bear negative ratings on my blog.

For some more of technical aspects: its written in first person narrative from Ana's point of view, its a perfect example of why show don't tell became popular for novels, and all that the characters do, well, argue about food, sex and so forth, at least if chapter recaps are to be believed. This book needs an editor very badly, because half the time I wanted to do something to ever forget why I read the book in first place.

For good and talented writers this is adding an insult to injury. I have been writing fiction and stories since I was almost twelve years old, and today I'm almost twenty-eight! Yet how did this, well, insult become so popular?

I am really regretting that I even touched or read the book, and if there is a brain bleach for books available, please email me right away...

-1 out of 5
(-1: Help! Brain bleach emergency! 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, June 27, 2013

G158 E-Reading Book Review of Rising of a Dead Moon by Paul Haston

Name of Book: Rising of a Dead Moon

Author: Paul Haston

ISBN: 9781480025370

Publisher: Createspace

Type of book: 1800s, Africa, India, widowhood, destiny vs free will, spirituality, white male/Indian female, progressiveness, prejudice

Year it was published: 2012


An Indian girl is forced into an arranged marriage then widowed. She escapes a widow's burning and flees to Africa to find the father who has abandoned her.

**WHOLE BOOK CURRENTLY FREE TO VIEW OR DOWNLOAD** Click 'Read Book' below the picture.

Set against a backdrop of 19th century Indian Indenture, the shipment of Indians to work on white-owned sugar plantations in Natal, Paul Haston's critically acclaimed novel is a story of hope and tragic drama


Usha is a beautiful sixteen year old woman who recently became a widow. She was married for four years and her husband passed away. She then bore the stigma of being a widow and after being turned away from her mother she goes to Africa to find her father. Personality wise she is spiritual, brave and unconventional as well as a survivor. She is very admirable. Rothwell was a soldier who sacrificed a friend to keep a manservant alive and then after a war he inherits the plantation where Usha works. He is progressive, idealistic, loyal, optimistic and determined. I'm not sure of Usha, but I guess that Rothwell does undergo changes throughout the novel and he is a well rounded character.


One can't outrun the destiny


Its written in third person narrative from Usha's and Rothwell's point of view. Unfortunately the readers don't get to spend a lot of time Usha and I would have liked to get to know her beyond the 'widow' and 'woman' labels, although I wonder if that was done on purpose? Most of the book is from Rothwell and he and his progressive ideas as well as the challenges he faced trying to get people to see beyond the label 'coolie' really will have the reader cheering for him. I also admit that the ending was written disappointingly and seemed to be a little too sudden. What has happened to Rothwell and the Erskine plantation?

Author Information:

London, The United Kingdom


Historical Fiction, Fiction, Romance

member since
October 2012

Originally from England, Paul Haston lives with his family on the west coast of Canada and takes inspiration from his surroundings. Writing is a passion and absorbs much of his time. Writing credits include novels 'Rising of a Dead Moon' and 'Blood and Doves', several short stories and screenplays. Paul has recently been absorbed in writing his most recent novel, 'Shadow of the Tiger', which like 'Rising of a Dead Moon' has a Indian flavour, as well as promoting his screenplay adaptation of 'Rising of a Dead Moon', which is posted on InkTip.

The plight of Indian labourers under indenture forms a harrowing backdrop to his emotive novel 'Rising of a Dead Moon'. Filled with hope and tragic drama, the book's central character Usha, a young Indian woman, struggles to escape the hardship of her widowhood and find the father who has abandoned her.

'Blood and Doves' is a masterful blend of the dark and comic as working class anti-hero Ernest tries to overcome the demons of his past. A tragic love story with a twist set amongst the constraints of the Victorian class structure.

The author can be contacted via email at or via his Facebook page.


I was asked to read and give my view of the book, which I will do so. Its a strangely haunting and vivid novel that takes place in India and Africa. I was worried it might be eye-rolling or predictable, but it wasn't. There is a strong current of predestination and fate versus free will, and also it somehow struck me that gods or higher powers were playing with both characters and the readers. Will they be together or won't they is the ultimate question. In beginning I had a strange dislike for Rothwell, worrying that there might be idealism in the book, but then he grew on me and I really rooted for him. The author is realistic that Rothwell's changes didn't go over well and not one of the colonists liked him. Usha herself is likable and I had high hopes of a happy ending between them. I would have liked more explanations of the Indian culture and why things were done the way they were did.

Quick notes: I would like to thank the author for the opportunity to read and review the book.

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.)

Coming Up...Week 26 of 2013

Book to be reviewed:

Rising of a dead Moon by Paul Haston (e-book)

An Indian girl is forced into an arranged marriage then widowed. She escapes a widow's burning and flees to Africa to find the father who has abandoned her.

**WHOLE BOOK CURRENTLY FREE TO VIEW OR DOWNLOAD** Click 'Read Book' below the picture.

Set against a backdrop of 19th century Indian Indenture, the shipment of Indians to work on white-owned sugar plantations in Natal, Paul Haston's critically acclaimed novel is a story of hope and tragic drama.

What I'm Reading right now:

A Deconstructed Heart by Shaheen Ashraf-Ahmed (e-book)

Mirza is a middle-aged Indian college professor whose wife has left him. He moves out of his house into a tent in his back garden, where he sets up an outdoor classroom and serves tea to his kind but bewildered neighbors. He is visited by the irritable spirit of his long-dead teacher, Khan Sahib, who is befuddled by the dysfunctions of modern life. In the north of England, Mirza's niece, Amal, is finishing up her last year of college before she is expected to join her parents in their new home in India. Asked by her father to talk her uncle back into his senses, she moves into Mirza's house, and they soon are connected by their shared loneliness. She meets Rehan, Mirza's student, and is intrigued by the path of certainty he has built over his own loss and loneliness--a certainty that is threatened by his growing feelings for her. When Rehan disappears, Amal's suffering forces Mirza to face the world once more. Together, Mirza and Amal must come to a new understanding of what it means to be an immigrant family when the old traditions have unraveled. A Deconstructed Heart is a novella that explores the breakdown and rebuilding in one immigrant family trying to adapt: how lines in families and cultures are forcibly redrawn, how empty space can be reframed by a tent into a new definition of home... but how, no matter how hard we may try to forget, the past refuses to be contained.

Chapters: 20

Pages: 121

Raquela: A Woman of Israel by Ruth Gruber (readdreamrelax site)

A National Jewish Book Award–winning biography: A fascinating look at the early years of Israel’s statehood experienced through the life of a pioneering nurse

During her extraordinary career, nurse Raquela Prywes was a witness to history. She delivered babies in a Holocaust refugee camp and on the Israeli frontier. She crossed minefields to aid injured soldiers in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and organized hospitals to save the lives of those fighting the 1967 Six-Day War. Along the way, her own life was a series of triumphs and tragedies mirroring those of the newly formed Jewish state.

Raquela is a moving tribute to a remarkable woman, and an unforgettable chronicle of the birth of Israel through the eyes of those who lived it.

 Chapters: 4 out of 30

 Pages: 51 out of 416

A Weak American in Russia & Ukraine: Adventures & Misadventures Living among the Natives by Walter Parchomenko

A Weak American in Russia & Ukraine is a painfully funny collection of travel nightmares; country and culture shocks experienced by an American living and working among the natives over the past 20 years. It offers practical tips on how to cope with: Sexy young women who view foreign men as potential ATM machines and transportation out of their closed countries; herds of stampeding Slavs on city streets, in metro areas and supermarkets; angry motorists who stop for pedestrians at crosswalks only because they are bumpier than potholes; packs of howling stray dogs who don’t understand English and Slavic attack pigeons.

A Weak American in Russia & Ukraine also takes readers by the hand and allows them to experience the agony of entering a collapsing post-Soviet medical system and interacting with Kafkaesque bureaucracies. And it provides foreign men, who seek Slavic brides, priceless advice that can save them from bankruptcy, jail and even confinement in a psychiatric hospital.

The result is a book that weaves comic misadventures without trivializing serious issues, including AIDS, rampant corruption and ecocide; shatters many prevailing stereotypes about Slavic men and women; and clears up numerous culturally based misunderstandings Americans typically have of Russians and Ukrainians.

Seinfeldian humor. Like the very popular TV series Seinfeld, this is fundamentally a book “about nothing”: the banal but often fascinating events that make up our human existence. Chapters titled Slavic Attack Pigeons, Fornicating Flies, Howling Stray Dogs and Mayo Heaven are just a few illustrations. A Weak American in Russia & Ukraine fully agrees with H.L. Mencken who aptly observed: “The basic fact about human existence is not that it is a tragedy, but that it is a bore. It is not so much a war as an endless standing in line.”

 Chapters: 34 out of 59 plus preface

 Pages: 157 out of 283

C-Town by Aaron Powell

There’s not much for a young person to do in Corning, a small industrial town in upstate New York. While parents are working swing shifts to make ends meet, their restless children resort to acts of depravity and self-indulgence. Set in the late 1990’s, this is a story of a twenty-year-old man who is struggling with questions of purpose and existential nihilism. Patrick Mitchell spends most of his time at the YMCA, while attending community college classes, and training at the local karate dojo. He’s distracted by frivolous relationships, fights, and drugs, but his personal moral dilemmas will all seem much less important when an unusual occurrence shakes him to the very core.

  Chapters: 17 out of 29 plus epilogue and introduction

  Pages: 84 out of 138

Modern Love: The Grownup's Guide to Relationships & Online Dating by Cija Black

Modern Love will help you consider your past relationship baggage, look through your relationship assumptions and teach you how to apply that information to a focused search for love off and online.

Modern Love takes a unique approach to the topics of relationships and online dating. There are a million and one books out there about improving your relationships OR online dating, but I have yet to find one that combines the two. MODERN LOVE asks you to review your relationship baggage, identify your relationship expectations and then produce a truthful engaging online dating profile. The lessons learned from preparing an online profile will be beneficial even if you decide online dating isn’t for you.

  Chapters: 11 out of 22

 Pages: 72 out of 173

Down This Road by Kelli Dawn

They say you can never go home, and for high-powered Chicago attorney Charlie McIntire, that is perfectly fine. She left home the day she turned 18 and never planned to return…but at 29, she finds herself running back to the ranch, the only place she can think of that will help her face an unexpected turn of events. Charlie tries to settle back into the quiet pace of country living, unsure of everything except the fact that she still hates shoveling manure. Life on the ranch is uneventful, and without the distractions of the city, Charlie is forced to deal with things she’d rather avoid: what she’s going to do with the rest of her life; the unfinished business between her and an ex-boyfriend; and most of all, the event that will change her life forever. Down This Road chronicles Charlie’s journey of self-discovery. It explores how the past shapes the present; how difficult it can be to change patterns of behavior; and how sometimes, learning your lesson might come just a little too late.

  Chapters: 7 out of 45

  Pages: 34 out of 270

The Fallen Snow by John Kelley

In the fall of 1918 infantry sniper Joshua Hunter saves an ambushed patrol in the Bois le Prêtre forest of Lorraine . . . and then vanishes. Pulled from the rubble of an enemy bunker days later, he receives an award for valor and passage home to Hadley, a remote hamlet in Virginia’s western highlands. Reeling from war and influenza, Hadley could surely use a hero. Family and friends embrace him; an engagement is announced; a job is offered.

Yet all is not what it seems. Joshua experiences panics and can’t recall the incident that crippled him. He guards a secret too, one that grips tight like the icy air above his father’s quarry. Over the course of a Virginia winter and an echoed season in war-torn France, The Fallen Snow reveals his wide-eyed journey to the front and his ragged path back. Along the way he finds companions – a youth mourning a lost brother, a widowed nurse seeking a new life and Aiden, a bold sergeant escaping a vengeful father. While all of them touch Joshua, it is the strong yet nurturing Aiden who will awaken his heart, leaving him forever changed.

Set within a besieged Appalachian forest during a time of tragedy, The Fallen Snow charts an extraordinary coming of age, exploring how damaged souls learn to heal, and dare to grow.

  Chapters: 7 out of 55 plus epilogue

  Pages: 28 out of 302

The Last Daughter of Prussia by Marina Gottlieb Sarles

Toward the end of World War II, as Germany’s hold on East Prussia grows increasingly tenuous, a childhood friendship between Manya Von Falken, the daughter of an aristrocratic family, and Joshi Karas, a Romani doctor, blossoms into unlikely love. But the young lovers are torn apart.

Captured by the Nazis and sent to a concentration camp, Joshi fights for survival, while Manya and her family flee and embark on “The Great Trek” out of East Prussia. Based on true stories passed down to author Marina Gottlieb Sarles from her grandparents, survivors of the trek, The Last Daughter of Prussia also tells the story of the brave Trakehner horses who led their owners across a dangerous frozen lagoon, the only open escape route.

Will Joshi and Manya find one another? Gottlieb Sarles creates a tapestry of characters from every corner of East Prussia, shedding light on an untold tragic moment in history.

 Chapters: 3 out of 54

 Pages: 15 out of 311

Hurry Up and Wait by Aaron Powell

This book consists of the written letters between my wife and I while I was away at recruit training, Parris Island, South Carolina. We've held nothing back - save a few names to protect the identities of the characters portrayed in our letters - and we've agreed to share our experience with anyone interested in reading about it.

This is our story.
-Aaron Powell

 Chapters: 3 out of 141 plus conclusion and introduction

 Pages: 7 out of 352

Against a Crimson Sky by James Conroyd Martin

A magnificent epic, Against a Crimson Sky is an unforgettable tale of love, valor, and the enduring strength of the human spirit, set against the backdrop of war-torn Poland at the cusp of the nineteenth century.

The year is 1794, and the beautiful and resilient Countess Anna Maria Berezowska has narrowly escaped death amidst the chaos caused by the violent dissolution of Poland.

Anna is soon reunited with her longtime love, Lord Jan Stelnicki, and the two lovers marry even as their beloved Poland is ripped apart. As the couple struggles to raise a family in the face of an uncertain future, Anna’s capricious cousin, Zofia, returns with a surprise of her own. Although Zofia’s past schemes still resonate, Anna’s doubts turn to fear as Jan’s patriotism draws him to the battlefield.

Offering new hope for a conquered Poland, Napoleon Bonaparte arrives in all of his pomp and glory. With the aid of new Polish legions—Anna’s friends and family among them—Napoleon battles his way across Europe in an effort that culminates in the doomed 1812 winter march into Russia.

Against this backdrop, Anna and Jan valiantly fight to hold on to a tenuous happiness, their country, and their very lives.

 Chapters: 3 out of 40 plus epilogue and prologue

 Pages: 37 out of 368

The Country of the Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett

Modeled in part on Flaubert's sketches of life in provincial France, this collection of stories offers a richly detailed portrait of a seaport on the Maine coast as seen through the eyes of a summer visitor. Against evocative imagery of the sky, the sea, and the earth itself, Jewett celebrates the friendships shared by the town's women, capturing the spirit of community that sustains the declining town.

 Chapters: 3 out of 21

 Pages: 382 out of 487

Future Books I will read:

Starkissed by Brynna Gabrielson (e-book)

Kissing movie star Grant West may be every teenage girl’s dream, but when it happens to Sydney Kane, it’s nothing but a nightmare. Sure he’s cute, but having her face plastered all over celebrity gossip blogs is not something she’s interested in. Now cheerleaders are trying to befriend her, reporters won’t stop calling, and her mother keeps chasing her with a curling iron so she won’t be caught by the paparazzi with flat hair ever again.

Forgetting Grant is all Sydney wants and Colin, the guy she’s had a crush on since seventh grade, seems like a pretty good way to do it. Then Grant shows up at Sydney’s door begging for a second chance and the more she gets to know him, the more she isn’t sure she wants him to go away. But with Grant in the picture, Colin is backing off and she definitely doesn’t want that. Everything is a mess and Sydney doesn’t know what to do, who to choose, or how to make those pesky cheerleaders leave her alone. She only knows one thing for sure, being STARKISSED isn’t a dream come true at all.

Chapters: 27 plus epilogue

Pages: 176

Red Shoes for Lab Blues by D.B. Sieders (e-book)

Can love and sex overcome logic and sabotage...

Dr. Stacey Jamison thinks she's close to validating PharmEx's new anti-cancer drug. Her budding independent career, her boss’s tenure, and a ton of research dollars are at stake. She just has to prove Compound Z kills cancer cells.

So far, it doesn’t.

Then along comes Dr. Henry Chan, the department’s new rising star. Henry is smart, handsome, and confident. He’s also captivated by the enigmatic Dr. Jamison, who seems oblivious to her own charms. But will Henry risk his heart when the research project is at stake?

A rival drug company, an insider with a personal grudge, and militant animal rights protestors force everyone’s plans into disarray. Can their love overcome everything being thrown at them?

Chapters: 21

Pages: 120

The Laws of Gravity by Liz Rosenberg

An exquisite tour de force, The Laws of Gravity is a testament to what it means to be a family, what it takes to save a life, and the lengths we will go to protect the ones we love. Two families, bound by blood, hear terrible news. One decision holds the key to survival--but at a devastating cost.

Nicole, auburn-haired, airy, and beautiful, discovers her body is betraying her. She turns to cousin and childhood best friend Ari for the cord blood he's been banking for his own children. Ari stands firm, bringing them before the scales of justice. Solomon Richter, a state Supreme Court judge on the brink of retirement, is touched by this legal battle like no other. His blood case, he calls it. A case that calls into question the very things we live for: the enduring bonds of family, and the love that lasts a lifetime. It's Nicole's last chance, Ari's last stand, and the judge's last case.

A novel of heartbreaking honesty, humor, and depth--an unforgettable story of finding love and finding family--The Laws of Gravity heralds Liz Rosenberg as a storytelling sensation.

Chapters: N/A

Pages: 300

A Time of Myths by Chris Blamires

New Mystery Adventure - Win Autographed ARCs!
Woodstock, 1969: the Festival that defined a decade of peace, love and freedom. The paths of five young English students cross – with devastating consequences. Consequences that eventually reach a climax in an isolated Cretan gorge.

Seventeen years later, in the ‘golden age’ of capitalism, dramatic events conspire to reunite the surviving members, necessitating a perilous return to Greece and to a tiny Greek island, as dangerous secrets and self-deceptions are at last forced into the glaring light…

Steeped in the folklore of the 20th century, A Time of Myths is not solely a historical mystery adventure: it seeks also to examine who we are, and how far we are in control of our actions – and even of our lives.

Chapters: 6 books

Pages: 338

Manzanar to Mount Whitney The Life and Times of a Lost Hiker by Hank Umemoto

In 1942, fourteen-year-old Hank Umemoto gazed out a barrack window at Manzanar Internment Camp, saw the silhouette of Mount Whitney against an indigo sky, and vowed that one day he would climb to the top. Fifty-seven years and a lifetime of stories later, at the age of seventy-one, he reached the summit. Part memoir and part hiker's diary, Manzanar to mount Whitney gives an intimate, rollicking account of Japanese American life California before and after World War II. As he wanders through the mountains of California's Inland Empire, Umemoto recalls pieces of his childhood on a grape vineyard in the Sacramento Valley, his time at Manzanar, where beauty and hope were maintained despite the odds, and his later career as proprietor of a printing firm, all with grace, honesty, and unfailing humor. And all along, the peak of Mount Whitney casts its shadow, a symbol of freedom, beauty, and resilience.

Chapters: 12 plus prologue and introduction

Pages: 192

Shanghai 1937: Stalingrad on the Yangtze by Peter Harmsen

This deeply researched book describes one of the great forgotten battles of the 20th century. At its height it involved nearly a million Chinese and Japanese soldiers, while sucking in three million civilians as unwilling spectators and, often, victims. It turned what had been a Japanese adventure in China into a general war between the two oldest and proudest civilizations of the Far East. Ultimately, it led to Pearl Harbor and to seven decades of tumultuous history in Asia. The Battle of Shanghai was a pivotal event that helped define and shape the modern world.

In its sheer scale, the struggle for China’s largest city was a sinister forewarning of what was in store for the rest of mankind only a few years hence, in theaters around the world. It demonstrated how technology had given rise to new forms of warfare, or had made old forms even more lethal. Amphibious landings, tank assaults, aerial dogfights and most importantly, urban combat, all happened in Shanghai in 1937. It was a dress rehearsal for World War II—or perhaps more correctly it was the inaugural act in the war—the first major battle in the global conflict.

Actors from a variety of nations were present in Shanghai during the three fateful autumn months when the battle raged. The rich cast included China's ascetic Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and his Japanese adversary, General Matsui Iwane, who wanted Asia to rise from disunity, but ultimately pushed the continent toward its deadliest conflict ever. Claire Chennault, later of “Flying Tiger” fame, was among the figures emerging in the course of the campaign, as was First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. In an ironic twist, Alexander von Falkenhausen, a stern German veteran of the Great War, abandoned his role as a mere advisor to the Chinese army and led it into battle against the Japanese invaders.

Written by Peter Harmsen, a foreign correspondent in East Asia for two decades, and currently bureau chief in Taiwan for the French news agency AFP, Shanghai 1937 fills a gaping chasm in our understanding of the Second World War.

Chapters: 9 plus prologue, order of battle

Pages: 303

Before the Larkspur Blooms (Prairie Hearts Series #2) by Caroline Fyffe

Caroline Fyffe returns to the windswept prairies of Wyoming with a beautiful story of rekindled love…

Thomas Donovan spent eight long years in prison, convicted of a crime he didn't commit. Finally released, he returns home to Logan Meadows, Wyoming, to discover his parents long buried and his neighbors wanting nothing to do with him. Suddenly the fresh start Thom longed for seems downright impossible until a spirited beauty from his past becomes his unlikely champion, and the walls around his injured heart begin to crumble?

Hannah Hoskins was brokenhearted when Thom Donovan was sent away. While the rest of the town was quick to brand him a no-count thief, Hannah always knew better. Now the boy she once loved has returned home a man ? a man whom Hannah's suitor, the town's deputy sheriff, is determined to destroy. When a crime spree starts anew, suspicion immediately falls on Thom, and it's up to Hannah to prove his innocence, earn him a second chance at life ? and win them both a second chance at love.

Chapters: 44

Pages: 281

Double Down by Saylor Storm

Determined to erase the painful, lonely memories of childhood, unbreakable Lola Stocking vows to make a better life for herself. She plots a path that includes an ascent up the Las Vegas casino corporate ladder. Lola follows her design tenaciously until she falls for a man who was not part of her plan. Adoring Jackson Sterling steps into her life when she least expects it, forcing her to reassess her life course. Shattered by catastrophe on her wedding day, her life's dreams come to a screeching halt. Driven by sheer will and strength, her new direction brings everything she ever dreamed of only to learn that it had been there all along...she just didn't know it.

Chapters: 55

Pages: 220

x0 by Sherrie Cronin

What if you are capable of far more than you realize? Lola, a Texan geophysicist who doesn’t believe in nonsense, finds that a near fatal accident reintroduces a disturbing phenomenon into her mind. Lola pretends it isn’t there until the changes taking place inside of her just won’t be ignored.

Across an ocean, Somadina is a young Nigerian who thinks that her telepathic abilities are perfectly normal. When her sister becomes a captive, the young Igbo woman draws upon her powers to find an ally like herself, a woman with a strong sense of justice and a desire to protect the helpless. As Somadina discovers that her sister has become a strategic pawn in a larger and more dangerous game, she vows to do anything to get the attention of this kindred, uncooperative lady.

x0 is an ancient organization with good reasons to stay hidden, but it knows that these two women have more important things in common than they realize, and that such will forge a powerful link. This forces x0 to reluctantly emerge from the shadows. Somebody needs to intervene. Both women are far stronger than they know, and to make matters worse, a fringe fanatic may be on the verge of altering a nation’s future.

Chapters: 17

Pages: 317

Teller of Tales by Ray Dacolias

This anthology of short stories explores those themes which we encounter down the long, winding road of life- of the probable and the impossible; of the finite and the infinite; of the ordinary and the extraordinary. It is an intimate portrait of those virtues which unite us all: love, and fortitude, justice and redemption.

These tales reflect intense desires people experience throughout tehir complex lives: they are about people seeking an inner peace, and understanding, and joy, and those looking for a greater purpose in their lives beyond the trivial; they are about hope, and wonder, and beauty; they are about things spiritual, and worldly, and otherworldly, too.

Life is a gorgeous tapestry upon which we weave our own unique stories. This book has narratives that will make you wonder what we are and who we are and why we are, and where we are going, and what we will do once we get there.

There are a boundless number of incredible tales to be told. Here are ten of them, filled with drama and adventure and romance. Enjoy!

Chapters: 10

Pages: 170

The Bouchard Legacy by Ted Magnuson

The Bouchard Family Legacy is about to be passed on to a fourth generation...or will it?

When Paul and Randy were in high school, their parents married new spouses. What different understandings Paul and Randy have when it comes to the future of the family business.

Paul has earned a place in the world, but Randy owns it.

The Bouchard Legacy; a story of loyalty and greed, a story of prejudice and character; it’s the story of Randy and Paul coming of age in the tumultuous 1960’s and then; their arrival as men in the close of the 1970’s. Set in Mid-America, St Louis, MO

Chapters: 29 plus epilogue
Pages: 207

Cynthia and the Blue Cat's Last Meow by Jeffrey Penn May

"Cynthia and the Blue Cat’s Last Meow" is the first person narrative of young man who enters a colorful, anthropomorphic land that appears perfect, and Cynthia is the embodiment of that land. Gradually, the narrator sees his own tormented soul hidden beneath the natural beauty. He sees, but cannot readily accept, the demons gnawing at his heart. This story is about the unleashing and dissolution of his fears and his maturing perception of Cynthia. It is also about her guidance and the resulting changes that occur within her. The offbeat natural setting is established within the first few pages and progresses into a rich ménage of unusual happenings and vivid colors, fishing and fury, moonlight and candlelight, magical red berries and howling caverns, a land where many of us would like to visit, and a few do, briefly in our youth. We should all explore such places of the soul where we dream of blue cats and hearts capable of such adventurous and idyllic sensuality. Please allow yourself to enter Cynthia’s world.

Chapters: 8

Pages: 73

Here, There, Elsewhere: Stories from the Road by William Least Heat-Moon

From the acclaimed author of Blue Highways, PrairyErth, and Roads to Quoz, a dazzling collection of travel tales from the road.

HERE, THERE, ELSEWHERE draws together for the first time William Least Heat-Moon's greatest short-form travel writing. Personally selected by the writer, these pieces take us from Japan, England, Italy, and Mexico to Long Island, Oregon, Arizona, from small towns to big cities, ocean shores and inland mysteries.

Including Heat-Moon's reflections on writing these pieces, HERE, THERE, ELSEWHERE is much more than the usual collection of amber; it is a coupled summation of craft and memory. A perfect treasury of prose and provocation for readers old and new, Heat-Moon's most recent work reveals his absolute mastery across pages many and few.

Chapters: 28

Pages: 390

Portraits of an Artist by Mary F. Burns 

From 1882 to 1884, John Singer Sargent painted his greatest masterpieces-the Daughters of Edward Darley Boit and Madame X-haunting portraits with dark psychological depths. The first unconsciously revealed a secret that would cause great anguish in his private life; the other created a social scandal that drove him from Paris forever. Portraits of an Artist brings to life the subjects of Sargent's paintings-his family, friends, enemies and lovers-to tell his story from their own perspectives. John Singer Sargent's paintings told more than he ever wanted anyone to know.

Chapters: N/A plus afterword and notes on the characters

Pages: 307

Veneer: Living Deeply in a Surface Society by Timothy D. Willard (Goodreads Author), R. Jason Locy

You aren't who you think you are.Culture tells us that in order to be liked we must masquerade as someone other than who we are. So, we lacquer ourselves with credit cards and plastic surgery and status updates hoping no one will see the person underneath. This 'veneer' allows us to silence our real selves as it gives voice to the alter ego we'd like others to see. But, is this all there is to life or have we been duped? Does material success equal significance? Is our only identity the one we steal from Hollywood? God's idea of humanity is altogether different from the world's. There is a way to live that sees beauty in our imperfection and, as Tim and Jason put it, once we realize this we can strip our veneers and live an unveneered life of freedom, honesty, and beauty.

Chapters: 10 plus postlude and prelude

Pages: 249

The Gods of Heavenly Punishment by Jennifer Cody Epstein

A lush, exquisitely rendered meditation on war, The Gods of Heavenly Punishment tells the story of several families, American and Japanese, their loves and infidelities, their dreams and losses, and how they are all connected by one of the most devastating acts of war in human history.

In this evocative and thrilling epic novel, fifteen-year-old Yoshi Kobayashi, child of Japan’s New Empire, daughter of an ardent expansionist and a mother with a haunting past, is on her way home on a March night when American bombers shower her city with napalm—an attack that leaves one hundred thousand dead within hours and half the city in ashen ruins. In the days that follow, Yoshi’s old life will blur beyond recognition, leading her to a new world marked by destruction and shaped by those considered the enemy: Cam, a downed bomber pilot taken prisoner by the Imperial Japanese Army; Anton, a gifted architect who helped modernize Tokyo’s prewar skyline but is now charged with destroying it; and Billy, an Occupation soldier who arrives in the blackened city with a dark secret of his own. Directly or indirectly, each will shape Yoshi’s journey as she seeks safety, love, and redemption.

Chapters: 9

Pages: 382

The Awakening and Selected Short Fiction by Kate Chopin

When it first appeared in 1899, Kate Chopin’s The Awakening was greeted with cries of outrage. The novel’s frank portrayal of a woman’s emotional, intellectual, and sexual awakening shocked the sensibilities of the time and destroyed the author’s reputation and career. Many years passed before this short, pioneering work was recognized as a major achievement in American literature.

Set in and around New Orleans, The Awakening tells the story of Edna Pontellier, a young wife and mother who, determined to control her own life, flouts convention by moving out of her husband’s house, having an adulterous affair, and becoming an artist.

Beautifully written, with sensuous imagery and vivid local descriptions, The Awakening has lost none of its power to provoke and inspire. Additionally, this edition includes thirteen of Kate Chopin’s magnificent short stories.
Stories Included in the Volume:
The Awakening
Emancipation: A Life Fable
A Shameful Affair
At the ‘Cadian Ball
Désirée’s Baby
A Gentleman of Bayou Têche
A Respectable Woman
The Story of an Hour
A Pair of Silk Stockings
Elizabeth Stock’s One Story
The Storm
The Godmother
A Little Country Girl

Chapters: 39 chapters plus 13 short stories

Pages: 288

O Pioneers! (Great Plains trilogy #1) by Willa Cather

This powerful early Cather novel, a landmark of American fiction, tells the story of the young Alexandra Bergson, whose dying father leaves her in charge of the family and of the Nebraska lands they have struggled to farm. In Alexandra's lifelong fight to survive and succeed, Cather relates an important chapter in the history of the American frontier.

Chapters: 30

Pages: 122

The Song of the Lark (Great Plains trilogy #2) 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: 62

Pages: 417

My Ántonia (Great Plains trilogy #3) 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

Pages: 289

Cowboys Are My Weakness: Stories by Pam Houston

Set in the West, and sometimes in Alaska, these 12 tales are about women who are smart and susceptible to love, and men who are wild and hard to pin down. Our heroines are part daredevil, part philosopher, all acute observers of the nuances of modern romance.

Chapters: 12

Pages: 171

To Each His Own by Kathleen Eagle (readdreamrelax site)

A place to belong…

That was all Lavender Holland had ever hoped for. But everyone in the small town of Glover, North Dakota, made it clear that she was someone they preferred to avoid. With her unique clothing, herbal potions and intricate weaving, she was just too different for the conservative townspeople.

Being an outsider was something wrestling coach Wyatt Archer understood. As a Native American, he had never felt welcome either. But with Lavender he finally found true acceptance…and the courage to claim a place of his own.

Chapters: 12 plus prologue

Pages: 261 (out of 474)

In a Heartbeat by Carla Cassidy (readdreamrelax site)

Caleb McMann embarked on the most emotional journey of his life, the search for the little girl who had received the ultimate gift - a new heart. His daughter's heart. Hitting pay dirt, he temporarily moved next door to Erica Clemmons and her child, Hannah, to secretly check up on the young girl. However, Caleb had never counted on bonding with Hannah - or falling for her beautiful mother, whose compassion and life-affirming kisses made him whole again. But in a heartbeat everything could change, especially since he couldn't keep his true idenity under wraps forever. Was a fresh start with this woman and child too much to hope for...?

Chapters: 14 plus prologue and epilogue

Pages: 474

Mrs. Spring Fragrance and Other Writings by Sui Sin Far

This volume reprints stories from Mrs. Spring Fragrance, along with other previously uncollected stories and journalistic essays by the first published Asian North American fiction writer. During an era of extreme Sinophobia, the Eurasian Sui Sin Far (1865-1914) courageously chose to write of the Chinese in North America as humorous, tragic, charming, and loving--in short, as human. Her stories sympathetically portray a group caught between worlds, inheritors of traditional Chinese values who find themselves thrust into boomingly mercantile and extremely race-conscious cities, such as San Francisco, Seattle, New York, and Montreal, at the turn of the last century. Offering an introduction that situates Sui Sin Far in her historical and literary contexts, Amy Ling and Annette White-Parks select from Mrs. Spring Fragrance (1914) two dozen of the finest stories, including "In the Land of the Free," "The Story of One White Woman Who Married a Chinese," "Her Chinese Husband," and "The Wisdom of the New," as well as (from the "Tales for Chinese Children" section) "The Story of a Little Chinese Seabird" and "What about the Cat?" The second portion contains previously uncollected writings, including journalism and fiction that appeared in the Montreal Daily Witness, Los Angeles Express, New York Independent, The Westerner, and New England Magazine. The final piece, "Sui Sin Far, the Half Chinese Writer, Tells of Her Career," was printed in the Boston Globe in 1912, two years before her death. Amy Ling, professor of English and director of the Asian American Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is the author of Between Worlds: Women Writers of Chinese Ancestry. Annette White-Parks, an associate professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, is the author of Sui Sin Far/Edith Maude Eaton: A Literary Biography.

Chapters: 51 plus 3 introductions

Pages: 296

The Foreign Student: A Novel by Susan Choi

Highly acclaimed by critics, The Foreign Student is the story of a young Korean man, scarred by war, and the deeply troubled daughter of a wealthy Southern American family. In 1955, a new student arrives at a small college in the Tennessee mountains. Chuck is shy, speaks English haltingly, and on the subject of his earlier life in Korea he will not speak at all. Then he meets Katherine, a beautiful and solitary young woman who, like Chuck, is haunted by some dark episode in her past. Without quite knowing why, these two outsiders are drawn together, each sensing in the other the possibility of salvation. Moving between the American South and South Korea, between an adolescent girl's sexual awakening and a young man's nightmarish memories of war, The Foreign Student is a powerful and emotionally gripping work of fiction.

Chapters: 14 plus prologue

Pages: 325

Novels and Stories: Deephaven / A Country Doctor / The Country of the Pointed Firs / Dunnet Landing Stories / Selected Stories and Sketches (Library of America #69) by Sarah Orne Jewett,

In her nuanced and sharply etched novels and short stories, Sarah Orne Jewett captured the innerlife and hidden emotional drama of outwardly quiet New England coastal towns. Set against the background of long Maine winters, hardscrabble farms, and the sea, her stories of independent, capable women struggling to find fulfillment in their lives and work have a surprisingly modern resonance. Here is the first collection to include all her best fiction, and it reveals the full stature of the writer Willa Cather ranked with Mark Twain, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Jewett struck her characteristic note in her first collection, Deephaven (1877), stories whose exploration of Maine life moved and delighted readers when they were first published in the Atlantic Monthly, and opened a new vein of regional fiction in American literature. Of the distinctly local quality of her writings Willa Cather later said: "The language her people speak to each other is a native tongue. No writer can invent it. It is made in the hard school of experience, in communities where language has been undisturbed long enough to take on color and character from the nature and experiences of the people." The novel A Country Doctor (1884), inspired by both her own life and that of her doctor father, is often read as a veiled autobiography. Her focus here is on a woman who must choose between marriage and her commitment to a medical career, a decision she defends passionately against the narrowness of those around her: "God would not give us the same talents if what were right for men were wrong for women." Jewett's masterpiece, The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896), brings to imaginative life the faded trading port of Dunnet Landing, Maine, re-creating in spare, impressionistic prose the rhythms and textures of a communal society of poor fishermen and farmers, with its traditional country rituals and its stoically endured tragedies.

Chapters: 28

 Pages: 911

G134 E-Reading Book Review of Doug and Carlie by Lisa Smartt

Name of Book: Doug and Carlie

Author: Lisa Smartt

ISBN: 9780615703589

Publisher: Smartt Speaking

Part of a Series: Doug and Carlie

Type of book: christianity, faith, finding soul-mate, south, author, big city vs small town, community, death, renewal, romance, clean

Year it was published: 2012


Carlie once ate a whole lemon meringue pie. But she regrets it. She regrets it the way a drunk regrets downing a bottle of Jack Daniels. It was soothing and horribly depressing all at the same time. Carlie, a 32-year-old employee at the Dollar General Store in Commerce, Georgia, dreams of love and literary success, in that order. But love and literary success don’t always come easy, especially for a tall woman with a big behind who stocks canned sweet potatoes for a living. She’s ten years late on college and only has $167.29 in the bank. In her estimation, she’s late on finding love too. The good news? Sometimes there are rewards for late bloomers.


The characters are well rounded and sweet. Its cool that Carlie stayed true to herself and true to where she came from, and that Doug was realistic about what he wanted and desired. The moments between them are sweet and believable. I also liked the extended family and the role it played in the book, although due to many characters I got confused pretty quickly as to who's who.


You're never too old to become what you want to be.


Its written in third person narrative from Carlie's and Doug's points of view. The author has done a good job separating who is speaking so we're not confused, although the language styles for both Carlie and Doug sounded pretty similar. The book is funny, but I guess it doesn't have my type of humor, I'm sorry to say. Its also very clean and the romance and chemistry between the characters is very believable.

Author Information:

The United States

twitter username

Romance, Fiction

member since
December 2012
About this author:
Lisa Smartt is a woman who loves to laugh! Born in a small town in West Kentucky, she now writes a weekly humor column from her home outside Dresden, Tennessee. She lives on 16 wooded acres with her husband, two sons (who sometimes fight), and three male cats who desperately need Prozac. Her first book was released in 2007 entitled, "The Smartt View: Life, Love, and Cluttered Closets."

Public speaking is Lisa's passion. She has spoken to groups around the country on subjects like "Contentment in a Discontent World" and "We're All in the Same Boat, So Grab a Lifeline." Lisa believes laughter is a gift and LOVES to share with others her personal weaknesses, struggles, and the sheer JOY of daily living!


I found it a sweet and touching novel as well as funny. I guess at the time I got it, I wasn't aware that it had christian elements to it, which is something that did bother me. I guess I did find a few things improbable, but its probably my cynicism that's speaking. For one reason or another I found myself unable to connect to Carlie nor to Doug, even though I grew up in Texas. (Probably because I'm from different faith and culture, and my family tends to be loners, I believe.) I would guess I should have been able to relate to Carlie because I'm kind of close to her age (I'll be 28 this year...) and I also desire to be a writer and I haven't done anything with my life either, and I also am overweight as well, although I haven't eaten an entire lemon meringue pie. I would guess the religion and the fact she's a virgin and believes in sex after marriage kind of alienated me from her. The story sounds a little bit similar to Cinderella and Carlie does deserve her own happy ending. I almost feel horrible for not liking the book. The book does make a big deal of faith and religion, and although the author did a good job in not cramming it down my throat, there was still incompatibility between me and the book.

Quick notes: I would like to thank the author for the opportunity to read and review the 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, June 26, 2013

ReadDreamRelax Review #5 Portraits by Cynthia Freeman

The captivating chronicle of four generations of the Sandonitsky family - immigrants from a Polish ghetto. This is the powerful drama of their struggle to achieve the American dream without losing their spiritual hreitage as success drives them westward to Oakland, California. A complelling novel about human needs, passions and conflicts which reach tempestuous heights.

JACOB whose newfound wealth could never fill the aching void inside him. .

SARA who sacrificed everything in the name of love -even her daughter.

SHLOMO who kept the family's disgrace a secret, and paid the price.

RACHEL whose forbidden love for one man drove her into the arms of another.

DORIS a Cinderella who achieved fame and happiness beyond her wildest dreams.

For my take on this book, please click on the link here: COMING UP

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.)

Book Review of A Country Doctor by Sarah Orne Jewett

Name of Book: A Country Doctor

Author: Sarah Orne Jewett

ISBN: 1-883011-34-5

Publisher: College editions

Type of book: country, city, sea, doctors, personal choice vs society, ward, orphan, feminism, career vs marriage, 1800s

Year it was published: 1884


Though not as well-known as the writers she influenced, Sarah Orne Jewett nevertheless remains one of the most important American novelists of the late nineteenth century. Published in 1884, Jewett’s first novel, A Country Doctor, is a luminous portrayal of rural Maine and a semiautobiographical look at her world. In it, Nan’s struggle to choose between marriage and a career as a doctor, between the confining life of a small town and a self-directed one as a professional, mirrors Jewett’s own conflicts as well as eloquently giving voice to the leading women’s issues of her time. Perhaps even more important, Jewett’s perfect details about wild flowers and seaside wharfs, farm women knitting by the fireside and sailors going upriver to meet the moonlight, convey a realism that has seldom been surpassed and stamp her writing with her signature style. A contemporary and friend of Willa Cather, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Julia Ward Howe, Sarah Orne Jewett is widely recognized as a pathfinder in American literary history, courageously pursuing a road less traveled that led the way for other women to follow.


I get a sense that I'm being told to admire the characters rather than being shown as to why I should like or admire them. Nan seems a bit idealized for me, and its difficult for me to understand why I should like her or try to relate to her. It seems that all the characters pretty much admire Nan, but very little comes from Nan herself, and the writing or the mood is similar to The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather, or rather My Antonia by Willa Cather where everyone admires the female characters but the readers don't really get inside their heads.


Duty is more important than personal happiness


Its written in third person narrative from a lot of people's point of views; that of Nan, Dr. Leslie, and, to some extent at the end, that of her paramour. I would have liked to know what would happen at the end after she achieved her goals of becoming a doctor. The writing is a little too wordy and I think its best to re-read it a few times in order to appreciate it, at least that's what my gut is telling me.

Author Information:

in South Berwick, Maine, The United States September 03, 1849

June 24, 1909



Literature & Fiction, Short Stories

Sarah Orne Jewett was an American novelist and short story writer, best known for her local color works set in or near South Berwick, Maine, on the border of New Hampshire, which in her day was a declining New England seaport.


Previously I have read Deephaven, which I found a slow and beautiful read. With much surprise I began to read this novel, and much to mine shock, I found it a dull read. I recognize the value this book has had in the past, but apparently Sarah Orne Jewett's talent lies in portraiture of life rather than in narrative form. I was really reminded of Willa Cather's The Song of the Lark when reading it, although I believe that Willa Cather wrote the conflict much better than Sarah Orne Jewett. This is a predecessor to Willa Cather though. Adeline returns back to her hometown with a young girl in tow and then passes away. The young girl, Nan, is raised by a bachelor whose occupation is a country doctor and she feels her calling is to become a doctor. She visits her father's family and is pressured into making a match, which she rejects and then becomes a doctor. What I have enjoyed is the story of the small town life and of the farms. In a sense I think its a feminist novel due to career vs marriage path, and back then the choice was either/or rather than career and marriage.

2 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.)

G93 Book Review of Push Not the River by James Conroyd Martin

Name of Book: Push not the river

Author: James Conroyd Martin

ISBN: 978-0-312-31153-7

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

Part of a Series: Push not the river

Type of book: Poland, Russia, Partition, 1779, 1791-1794, loyalty, secrets, betrayal, war, conflict, love triangle, feminist, destiny, fate

Year it was published: 2003


A panoramic and epic novel in the grand romantic style, Push Not the River is the rich story of Poland in the late 1700s--a time of heartache and turmoil as the country's once peaceful people are being torn apart by neighboring countries and divided loyalties. It is then, at the young and vulnerable age of seventeen, when Lady Anna Maria Berezowska loses both of her parents and must leave the only home she has ever known.

With Empress Catherine's Russian armies streaming in to take their spoils, Anna is quickly thrust into a world of love and hate, loyalty and deceit, patriotism and treason, life and death. Even kind Aunt Stella, Anna's new guardian who soon comes to personify Poland's courage and spirit, can't protect Anna from the uncertain future of the country.

Anna, a child no longer, turns to love and comfort in the form of Jan, a brave patriot and architect of democracy, unaware that her beautiful and enigmatic cousin Zofia has already set her sights on the handsome young fighter. Thus Anna walks unwittingly into Zofia's jealous wrath and darkly sinister intentions.

Forced to survive several tragic events, many of them orchestrated by the crafty Zofia, a strengthened Anna begins to learn to place herself in the way of destiny--for love and for country. Heeding the proud spirit of her late father, Anna becomes a major player in the fight against the countries who come to partion her beloved Poland.

Push Not the River is based on the true eighteenth century diary of Anna Maria Berezowska, a Polish countess who lived through the rise and fall of the historic Third of May Constitution. Vivid, romantic, and thrillingly paced, it paints the emotional and unforgettable story of the metamorphosis of a nation--and of a proud and resilient young woman.


The characters are well-rounded and complex. The women are not two-dimensional and they do make mistakes and have distinct personalities. It was hard for me to decide whether or not to like or hate Zofia or Anna for that matter. Both women make mistakes, both women try to make up to one another and its amazing how one could relate this book to modern times, or what is going on today, and the story takes place in 1700s! The men aren't as complex as women characters, but they are important as well, and its odd that a book written by a man has women that are multi-layered and complex, yet the men seem to be, well, two dimensional. To be brief, Anna is best described as a traditional young lady who yearns for love and family and she can best be described as good, sweet, loyal and patriotic. In my mind, I often link Zofia to Catherine of Russia, for Zofia is more an interesting character out of the two. She breaks traditions, manipulates men, and is best described as self-centered and somewhat selfish. Her worst fears are being married to Antoni Gronski and to lead a boring life. She is a party girl through and through. She a complex antagonist. Unfortunately the men didn't really stand out for me.


Keep your personality and convictions no matter what


Its written in third person narrative primarily from Anna's, Jan's and Zofia's points of views. I found the story to be compelling, suspenseful and well-written. If there were mistakes or faults, I didn't notice them because I was busy caught up with what would happen next, although if I might be honest, I would have liked to get to know Zofia more and be more inside her head. Half the time I couldn't believe that so much has happened to Anna from 1791-1794!

Author Information:

June 10



member since
July 2009

About this author
James Conroyd Martin is the author of Push Not the River, a novel based on the diary of Anna Berezowska, a Polish countess who lived through the rise and fall of the Third of May Constitution. After working on the project for some years without raising interest within the publishing community, Martin self-published in 2001. Just one year later, St. Martin’s Press purchased the book and released a hard cover edition in September 2003. Polish and German rights sold almost immediately.

The Polish edition, Nie ponaglaj rzeki, was released in May of 2005, became a bestseller and sold out in a matter of months. Anna's story had come full circle: Polish to English to Polish! Pod purpurowym niebem, the translation of Against a Crimson Sky,also became a bestseller when published in December of 2007.

Martin, who holds degrees from St. Ambrose and DePaul Universities, is a longtime English and creative writing teacher at Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, Illinois. He is working on his third novel, The Warsaw Conspiracy, a political thriller that will complete the trilogy.


I am flabbergasted at this book, in a good way. I found it compelling, amazing, suspenseful, thrilling and beautiful. Not to mention its written by a man completely from two woman's point of views, yet the women were written beautifully and realistically.(If you want to write from a feminine point of view please read this book as to how to do it.) I had a great deal of pleasure from sitting down and reading it. There is some history of Poland, as it related to 1700s, along with culture and Polish superstitions which I found fascinating. I might be from Russia, but I suspect that I have Jewish ancestors that lived in Poland at one time or another. There is barely any Polish history prior to 1700s, and the issue of Russia and other empires desiring Poland seems to be one-sided in my opinion. I recall a history teacher told my class at one point that Poland itself attempted to conquer Russia multiple times. Also, what has been neglected is that the partition of Poland was used for Pale of Settlements for Jews if I'm not mistaken, or at least they were established by Catherine during that time.

Quick notes: I would like to thank the author for the opportunity to read and review the book.

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.)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

G108 Book Review of The Thread of a Thousand Miles by Alan Yang

Name of Book: The Thread of a Thousand Miles

Author: Alan Yang

ISBN: 9781482748413

Publisher: Createspace

Type of book: World War 2, christianity, missionary, secrets, China, interracial Asian male/white female, romance, love, marriage, destiny, fate

Year it was published: 2013


The encounter of an Asian man and an American woman in Guangzhou sparked a love affair that would put the age-old Chinese saying, "A marriage of a thousand miles is strung by a single thread," to test. Jin and Lucia came from two different worlds. They had no clue about each other's identity or their ancestors' secret past. Their romance was couched in a family saga dating back to World War II. Their passion for each other grew and blossomed at a time when love was forbidden. How would Jin and Lucia's family mysteries be unraveled? Would they be able to tackle the odds against them? Would their love ever be consummated? Filled with twists and turns, this story puts Jin and Lucia through a gauntlet of trouble and turmoil, leading up to a final climactic realization.


The characters are more of tell variety rather than show; that is we are often told of their thoughts and motivations, but we are not really taken into the emotions they are experiencing. For example, I cannot recall reading the symptoms of love when reading about Jin or about Lucia; that is I did not see the beating of the hearts, or the sweaty palms, or perhaps quickening of the heart at the thought of the loved one. Also, here's a quick list of the characters in the book. When I was reading it, I found it confusing, which is why I recommended in reading it in a few settings as possible.

1st Generation:
Ted Williams- Jin's possible grandfather. He is Lucia's grandfather
Gertrude Williams- Ted's wife
Qing-chen Nan- Jin's adopted grandfather
Qing-xian- Jin's natural grandmother, Qing-chen's sister.
San-xiang- Qing-Chen's wife, referred to as Grandmother

2nd Generation:
Betsy Williams Bennett- Ted William's daughter, Lucia's mother
Gabe Williams- Ted William's son, Lucia's uncle
Dick Bennett- Lucia's father and Betsy's husband
Wei-de Nan- Jin's natural father, referred to as Baba
Wei-ping- Jin's adopted uncle, Japanese originally. Works as a policeman
Shu-min Cai Nan- Jin's mother who killed herself under mysterious circumstances
Liu- The antagonist of the story
General Niu and General Long- Liu's bosses
General Xu- One of Liu's victims
Aunt Song- the mailman at the university
Peach Blossom- General Liu's mistress

3rd Generation:
Lucia Bennett- daughter of Betsy and Dick, granddaughter of Ted. Goes to China to teach and falls in love with Jin.
Chuck Bennett - Lucia's brother who works for a prestigious firm
Jin-zhi Nan- a student at South China Tech who falls in love with Lucia, son of Wei-de and grandson of Qing-Chen.
Lili- Jin's first love and girlfriend
Da-kai Xu- General Xu's son, twin to Da-ming
Da-ming Xu- General Xu's son, twin to Da-kai

Hopefully if you choose to read the book, the list will be of help.


If you are meant to be with someone, then you will be with someone


Its written in third person narrative from what seems to be everyone's point of view. The primary focus is on Jin, however. I would recommend reading it either at once or in a few settings as possible because due to many characters, there will be confusion over who is who. I also would have liked to know how Lucia's brother's plot-line was resolved, and what had happened to him afterwards.

Author Information:

Alan Yang was born in the Middle Kingdom, the way the Chinese call their country, but has lived most of his adult life in the United States. He taught at Jinan University in Guangzhou and is currently a universtiy professor in New Jersey. Most of his previous publications are in the realm of social sciences. The Thread of a Thousand Miles is his first novel.


This book isn't without faults, so why the five stars then? There was a strange hypnotic and seductive power in it that drew me in and didn't let go of me. I enjoyed it far more and mistakes didn't detract from the enjoyment strangely enough. The strength of the book happens to be the language and the plot of the story, as well as a relationship that sort of reminded me a little of Doctor Zhivago. For me personally, the weaknesses happened to be too many characters, the constant switching of points of view, and that I didn't really feel that I knew Lucia or Jin. The potential chemistry and attraction were there though, but at the same time I was mystified in what they liked about one another when it came to personality. As I have mentioned, despite these mistakes, I was somehow caught up in the story and in the language of the story, finding beauty within. Reading it reminded me of Dream of the Red Chamber or The Tale of Genji, getting caught up in the language and atmosphere and not paying attention to mistakes.

Quick notes: I would like to thank the author for the opportunity to read and review the book.

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.)
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