Thursday, July 31, 2014

G371 Book Review of Anvil of God by J. Boyce Gleason

Name of Book: Anvil of God

Author: J Boyce Gleason

ISBN: 978-1-4759-9019-5

Publisher: iuniverse

Type of book: Charlemagne, France, 741, Medieval Ages, Knights, paganism, brotherhood, wars, defenses, christianity, true love vs duty, civil war, succession, mayor

Year it was published: 2013


It is 741. After subduing the pagan religions in the east, halting the march of Islam in the west, and conquering the continent for the Merovingian kings, mayor of the palace Charles the Hammer has one final ambition-the throne. Only one thing stands in his way-he is dying.

Charles cobbles together a plan to divide the kingdom among his three sons, betroth his daughter to a Lombard prince to secure his southern border, and keep the Church unified behind them through his friend Bishop Boniface. Despite his best efforts, the only thing to reign after Charles's death is chaos. His daughter has no intention of marrying anyone, let alone a Lombard prince. His two eldest sons question the rights of their younger pagan stepbrother, and the Church demands a steep price for their support. Son battles son, Christianity battles paganism, and Charles's daughter flees his court for an enemy's love.

Based on a true story, Anvil of God is a whirlwind of love, honor, sacrifice, and betrayal that follows a bereaved family's relentless quest for power and destiny.


The characters are all distinct and not once have I wondered who's who. Charles the Martel is one who is best known as Charlemagne? A bastard son who splits his kingdom for his three sons: Carloman, Pippin, and Gripho. Carloman is the fanatically religious christian son that lets others control him. Pippin is the middle son and I guess is more likable. I would best describe him as voice of reason, while Gripho is the youngest son and is extremely spoiled and for him pride is more important than consequences. The women characters include Sunni who is deft and tries to control things behind the scenes. While outwardly she is christian, inwardly she holds on to pagan rituals. Trudi is the only daughter and she is very tomboyish and isn't aware of her sexuality until Sunni helps her out. She is one of the more interesting characters. Bertrada is also a strong female character, but I feel that I see very little of her, and wish I could have seen more of her.


Everything is double sided.


The book is written in third person narrative from multiple characters' points of views such as Sunni's, Carloman's, Gripho's, Trudi's and so forth. Somehow the author carefully balances these stories, never letting them get dull or boring. I constantly ended up shocked at how many pages I read without noticing. Although I'm a history major, I have to admit that I'm mostly interested in daily life rather than politics, thus my grasp on politics is sketchy. The author has done a good job in mapping out the political scene as well making sure I understood the possible consequences of what's going on and what will happen.

Author Information:
(from the kit)

With an AB degree in history from Dartmouth College, J. Boyce Gleason brings a strong understanding of what events shaped the past and when, but writes historical-fiction to discover why. Gleason lives in Virginia with his wife Mary Margaret. They have three sons.

His latest book is the historical fiction, Anvil of God, Book One of the Carolingian Chronicles.

Visit his website at

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I guess if I did half stars, it would be 4.5 stars actually. This is a classic case of don't judge a book by its cover and don't be intimated by the size. In fact, I found the book to be, well, short. Yes, its excellently written as well as detailed, and its something I'll definitely recommend to those who are curious about historical fiction because it has a comprehensive character list of all characters, plus a map of the area. Also he mentions what's fact and fiction and why he ended up making decisions that he did. There is something in the book for both men and women; detailed defenses on the castle plus battle scenes that never got boring and memorable characters. The story also contains extremely strong female characters in terms of Sunni and Trudi. I also liked that the story was fair both to christianity and paganism and that it didn't paint paganism as evil. The story is also accessible in terms of language and for me it was easy to read. I did feel that some minor things sounded a bit modern, but they didn't take away from my enjoyment.

This is for Pump Up Your Book Tour

Purchase your copy:


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

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.)

Graham Saga Book Blast!

Join Anna Belfrage as her beloved time-slip series, The Graham Saga, is featured around the blogosphere from July 28-August 15 with HF Virtual Book Tours and enter to win your own set of Books 1-6!

About The Graham Saga

The Graham Saga Series This is the story of Alex and Matthew, two people who should never have met - not when she was born three hundred years after him. It all began the day Alex Lind got caught in a thunderstorm. Not your ordinary storm, no this was the mother of all storms, causing a most unusual rift in the fabric of time. Alex was dragged three centuries backwards in time, landing more or less at the feet of a very surprised Matthew Graham. In a series of books we follow the life and adventures of the expanding Graham family, both in Scotland and in the New World - and let me tell you it is quite an exciting life, at times excessively so in Alex' opinion. Sometimes people ask me why Alex had to be born in the twentieth century, why not make her a woman born and bred in the seventeenth century where the story is set? The answer to that is I have no idea. Alex Lind is an insistent, vibrant character that sprung into my head one morning and simply wouldn't let go. Seductively she whispered about terrible thunderstorms, about a gorgeous man with magic, hazel eyes, about loss and sorrow, about love - always this love, for her man and her children, for the people she lives with. With a throaty chuckle she shared insights into a life very far removed from mine, now and then stopping to shake her head and tell me that it probably hadn't been easy for Matthew, to have such an outspoken, strange and independent woman at his side. At this point Matthew groaned into life. Nay, he sighed, this woman of his was at times far too obstinate, with no notion of how a wife should be, meek and dutiful. But, he added with a laugh, he wouldn't want her any different, for all that she was half heathen and a right hand-full. No, he said, stretching to his full length, if truth be told not a day went by without him offering fervent thanks for his marvelous wife, a gift from God no less, how else to explain the propitious circumstances that had her landing at his feet that long gone August day? Still, dear reader, it isn't always easy. At times Alex thinks he's an overbearing bastard, at others he's sorely tempted to belt her. But the moment their fingertips graze against each other, the moment their eyes meet, the electrical current that always buzzes between them peaks and surges, it rushes through their veins, it makes their breathing hitch and ... She is his woman, he is her man. That's how it is, that's how it always will be.

Graham Saga Titles

Book One: A Rip in the Veil Book Two: Like Chaff in the Wind Book Three: The Prodigal Son Book Four: A Newfound Land Book Five: Serpents in the Garden Book Six: Revenge & Retribution Book Seven: Whither Thou Goest (November 2014) Book Eight: To Catch a Falling Star (March 2015)

About the Author

Anna was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result she's multilingual and most of her reading is Anna Belfragehistorical- both non-fiction and fiction. Possessed of a lively imagination, she has drawers full of potential stories, all of them set in the past. She was always going to be a writer - or a historian, preferably both. Ideally, Anna aspired to becoming a pioneer time traveller, but science has as yet not advanced to the point of making that possible. Instead she ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for her most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career Anna raised her four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive… For years she combined a challenging career with four children and the odd snatched moment of writing. Nowadays Anna spends most of her spare time at her writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and she slips away into her imaginary world, with her imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in her life pops his head in to ensure she's still there. For additional information regarding Anna, her characters, extra scenes, and teasers for her next books, have a look at Anna's website at: You can also find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

Book Blast Schedule

Monday, July 28 Broken Teepee Kincavel Korner bookworm2bookworm's Blog Tuesday, July 29 So Many Books, So Little Time Wednesday, July 30 A Bibliotaph's Reviews Thursday, July 31 Book Drunkard Friday, August 1 The Lit Bitch Saturday, August 2 Book Nerd Sunday, August 3 Literary Chanteuse Just One More Chapter Monday, August 4 A Bookish Girl Historical Tapestry To Read, Or Not to Read Tuesday, August 5 CelticLady's Reviews Wednesday, August 6 The True Book Addict Thursday, August 7 Impressions in Ink Friday, August 8 A Bookish Affair The Mad Reviewer Saturday, August 9 Historical Fiction Connection Monday, August 11 Gobs and Gobs of Books Tuesday, August 12 Pages of Comfort Wednesday, August 13 History Undressed Thursday, August 14 Passages to the Past Friday, August 15 Mina's Bookshelf


To win a set of Anna Belfrage's Graham Saga (Books 1-6) please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Two winners will be chosen. Giveaway is open internationally!
Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on August 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter. Winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter on August 16th and notified via email. Winners have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

G322 Book Review of The Sense of Touch by Ron Parsons

General Information:

Name of Book: The Sense of Touch

Author: Ron Parsons

ISBN: 978-0-9883837-7-7

Publisher: Aqueous Books

Year it was published: 2013

About the Author:
(From the tour kit)

RON PARSONS is a writer living in Sioux Falls. Born in Michigan and raised in South Dakota, he was inspired to begin writing fiction in Minneapolis while attending the University of Minnesota. His short stories have appeared in many literary magazines and venues, including The Gettysburg Review, Indiana Review, Storyville App, The Briar Cliff Review, Flyway, and The Onion. His debut collection of stories, THE SENSE OF TOUCH, was released by Aqueous Books in 2013.

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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.

“The quiet plains of the North Country serve as a perfect backdrop for Parsons’ moving debut, a collection of short stories whose characters often live deeply solitary, if not always lonely, lives.”

1. Hezekiah Number Three 

Year story was written/published: 2008

Observations and short summary:

Written in first person narrative, about a South Asian student named Naseem Sayem who is having family troubles as well as an interesting sense of humor, thus he decides to do so something daring and unforgettable. Narrated from a former friend of his.

2. Beginning with Minneapolis 

Year story was written/published: 2008

Observations and short summary:

Written in third person narrative from Waylon Baker's  and Evie Lund's points of view. Waylon recounts his life and mentions that Evie has decided to leave him, while Evie decides to contact him just because and the two meet and come to terms with their desires and needs, at least Evie does.

3. The Sense of Touch 

Year story was written/published: 2009

Observations and short summary:

In first person narrative, an unnamed male student arrives at a university and recounts the tale of Julie, a girl he likes as well as the lessons he got from a fiction writing class from a teacher named Vonda and the impact she had on him and others.

4. The Black Hills 

Year story was written/published: 2009

Observations and short summary:

In third person narrative, Daniel Hopewell visits a friend of his, Ed, who happens to be blind from an accident. Ed is giving sanctuary to a woman of Lakota ancestry whom he falls in love with, while she doesn't seem to reciprocate his feelings.

5. As Her Heart Navigated 

Year story was written/published: 2010

Observations and short summary:

Written in third person narrative from Haley's point of view. Haley is dating a guy named Clint, but she really doesn't like him. On a winter's day, Haley helps clean the car from the snow and meets a woman named Greta whom she saves later on and comes to an important realization about her relationship.

6. Big Blue 

Year story was written/published: 2009

Observations and short summary:

Told in first person narrative from a man's point of view about recalling his twin brother named Adam as well as a little about the family.

7. Moonlight Bowling 

Year story was written/published: N/A

Observations and short summary:

The story is told in third person narrative from Virgil's point of view. Virgil's friend asks him to be a role model for his grandson, but Virgil refuses while his girlfriend Chantel encourages him to do it. In order to do that, Virgil has to overcome his own fears.

8. Be Not Afraid of the Universe 

Year story was written/published: N/A

Observations and short summary:

In first person narrative, a man describes his own life from the time he lived in a brick house to the time he married and to the time he died as well as what happened afterwards.

Overall theme:

I think the stories I liked were Hezekiah Number Three plus A Sense of Touch. There is something poetic and beautiful about them, although I'm not sure what the overall message should have been.

Purchase your copy:


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

The Sense of Touch Tour Page:

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.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

G406 Book Review of East India by Colin Falconer

Name of Book: East India

Author: Colin Falconer

ISBN: 9781621251798

Publisher: Coolgus

Type of book: 1629, Dutch, shipwreck, survival, prisoners, opportunist, Australia, priorities, honor, taking advantage, water, food, wealth, society, lawlessness, experiment, murder, mutiny, rape

Year it was published: 2014


In any other circumstance but shipwreck, rape and murder, a man like Michiel van Texel would never have met a fine lady such as Cornelia Noorstrandt.

He was just a soldier, a sergeant in the Dutch East India company’s army, on his way from Amsterdam to the Indies to fight the Mataram. Such a woman was far above the likes of him.

But both their destinies intertwine far away from Holland, on some god-forsaken islands near the Great Southland. When their great ship, the Utrecht, founders far from home, surviving the Houtman Rocks is the least of their worries.

As they battle to survive and the bravest and the best reveal themselves for what they are, Cornelia’s only hope is a mercenary in a torn coat who shows her that a man is more than just manners and money.

He makes her one promise: ‘Even if God forsakes you, I will find you.’

But can he keep it?

Described by one critic as ‘Jack and Rose in the seventeenth century’, East India will keep you wondering until the final page.


The main characters include Cornelia, a lady of wealth that is ostracized because of it. She does what she can in the situation that's allowed to her. She is resourceful, kind-hearted and learns quickly that wealth means nothing when you're stranded at the end of the world. Ambroise is a captain who seems to have a lot going for him and does the best he can as well. He is not good when it comes to pressure. Christian is an apothecary as well as the Under-merchant and is best described as double faced and an opportunist. He's the type that will betray others to save his own neck. Michiel van Trexel is honorable and a real leader in trying to keep order. He comforts Cornelia and worries more about her then about himself.


One thing that I got out is that hell is man-made, not divinely inspired.


The book is written in third person narrative from Cornelia's, Ambroise's, Christian's, and Michiel's points of view. The author does warn when point of view changes. Very often some of the characters are referred by their nautical titles, such as Ambroise is referred to as Commadeur, and Christian as Heer Undermerchant. Some of others are also referred by names and/or titles which made it confusing for me on keeping track of who's who. Still the story becomes very addictive and I couldn't wait to see what happens next.

Author Information:
(From historical fiction virtual book tour)

Born in London, Colin first trialed as a professional football player in England, and was eventually brought to Australia. He went to Sydney and worked in TV and radio and freelanced for many of Australia’s leading newspapers and magazines. He has published over twenty novels and his work has so far been translated into 23 languages.
He travels regularly to research his novels and his quest for authenticity has led him to run with the bulls in Pamplona, pursue tornadoes across Oklahoma and black witches across Mexico, go cage shark diving in South Africa and get tear gassed in a riot in La Paz.
He currently lives in Barcelona.
For more information please visit Colin Falconer’s website. You can also find him on Facebook or follow onTwitter.


I only got introduced to Colin Falconer earlier this year through a book titled Naked in Havana, which had a Scarlet O'Hara like heroine. One thing that surprised me was the book size. Naked in Havana was probably a 100 or so pages, give or take, while East India is over 300 pages. In beginning, although I sort of got what was going on, I felt it was a bit slow, not to mention the chapters were pretty short, and I constantly checked on who should have been Cornelia's love interest. However, once the boat gets stranded, the pages really flew out of my hands. I did wish that I would have read this book when I was in high school instead of Lord of the Flies by William Golding, and yes, I'm being serious. I couldn't stand Lord of the Flies and found Lord of the flies boring. Instead this book is geared towards both genders because it does have adventure, love, mutiny, survival on the island, men of honor and dishonor and I feel that it opens up a door to conversations on the background of history as well as why certain characters behaved the way they did.

Buy the Book

This is for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour

East India Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, July 28
Review at History & Women
Tuesday, July 29
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Wednesday, July 30
Review at Just One More Chapter
Tuesday, August 5
Review at Book Nerd
Thursday, August 7
Review at Bibliotica
Monday, August 11
Review at A Library of My Own
Friday, August 15
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Monday, August 18
Review at The Book Binder’s Daughter
Thursday, August 21
Review at Beth’s Book Reviews
Monday, August 25
Review at Casual Readers
Saturday, August 30
Review at Book by Book
Wednesday, September 3
Review at Unshelfish
Tuesday, September 9
Review at The True Book Addict
Wednesday, September 10
Review at A Bookish Affair
Friday, September 19
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

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.)

Meet Me in Barcelona Book Blitz!

Title: Meet Me in Barcelona
Author: Mary Carter
Publisher: Kensington
Pages: 352
Genre: Mainstream fiction
Format: Paperback/Kindle/MP3 CD, Audiobook, MP3 Audo, Unabridged
Purchase at AMAZON

About the Book:

A surprise trip to Barcelona with her boyfriend, Jake, seems like the perfect antidote to Grace Sawyer's current woes. The city is dazzling and unpredictable, but the biggest surprise for Grace is discovering who arranged and paid for the vacation.

Carrie Ann wasn't just Grace's foster sister. Clever, pretty, and mercurial, she was her best friend—until everything went terribly wrong. Now, as she flees an abusive marriage, Carrie Ann has turned to the one person she hopes will come through for her. Despite her initial misgivings, Grace wants to help. But then Carrie Ann and Jake both go missing. Stunned and confused, Grace begins to realize how much of herself she's kept from Jake—and how much of Carrie Ann she never understood. Soon Grace is baited into following a trail of scant clues across Spain, determined to find the truth, even if she must revisit her troubled past to do it.

Mary Carter's intriguing novel delves into the complexities of childhood bonds, the corrosive weight of guilt and blame, and all the ways we try—and often fail—to truly know the ones we love.

For More Information

About the Author

Mary Carter is a freelance writer and novelist.  Meet Me in Barcelona is her eighth novel. Her other works include:  Three Months in Florence, The Things I Do For You, The Pub Across the Pond, My Sister’s Voice, Sunnyside Blues, She’ll Take It, and Accidentally Engaged.  In addition to her novels she has written six novellas: Return to Hampton Beach in the anthology, Summer Days, A Southern Christmas in the upcoming 2014 anthology Our First Christmas, A Kiss Before Midnight in the anthology, You’re Still the One, A Very Maui Christmas in the New York Times best selling anthology Holiday Magic, and The Honeymoon House in the New York Times best selling anthology Almost Home. Mary currently lives in Chicago, IL with a demanding labradoodle. She wishes she could thank her gorgeous husband, but she doesn’t have one. In addition to writing she leads writing workshops.
For More Information

Book Excerpt:
Carrie Ann. The words felt like two gunshots to the chest. Just hearing that name come out of her mother’s mouth made Grace’s heart start tripping. She almost shot out of her chair. “I’m Grace,” she said. “Gracie Ann.” Her voice cracked. “Dad?” she said.

“She’s confused, honey. The past and the present, it’s just one big, ugly glob.” Pinpricks of shame began forming at the base of Grace’s spine.

 “I’m not confused,” Jody said. “Carrie Ann came to visit me.”

“My God,” Grace said. This time she did shoot out of her chair. Carrie Ann was the only girl foster child the Sawyers had ever taken in. At first she had been like a sister to Grace.

“Who is she married to now?” Jody said. “I can’t remember.”

“Pay no attention to her, Gracie,” Jim said.

“Why can’t I remember?” Jody pressed on her temples with her index fingers, as if she could squeeze the memory out of her head.

Grace took a step toward her mother. “When did she come and visit you, Mom?”

          “Grace, I told you she didn’t,” Jim said. “Don’t egg your mother on.”

“I’m not egging her on, Dad, but if Carrie Ann was here, I want to know about it.”

Her father whacked his newspaper on the side of his chair. “I told you she wasn’t! And I should know. I’ve been sitting right here!”

“She’s still such a pretty girl,” Jody said. “She asked about you, Grace. She asked me all sorts of questions about you.”

Jim got up and threw up his arms. “She’s out of her mind!” He began to pace.

“Dad,” Grace said. “Hush.” Her mother suddenly became very still, which meant she was listening. Grace took her father by his arm and led him back to his chair.

“I’m sorry. She won’t remember me saying it.”

“That’s not the point.”

“I can’t help it. Carrie Ann this - Carrie Ann that. I thought we’d put that nuisance behind us for once and for all. Is this what it comes to? Reliving your worst nightmare?”

“I’ve never heard you speak so harshly about Carrie Ann,” Grace said. Her mom was the one who used to say the worst things about Carrie Ann. She said Carrie Ann was evil. She said Carrie Ann was a curse that would follow all of them to their graves. Once she even said there wasn’t enough Lysol in the world to get rid of that stain. And each insult cut into Grace like her mother was saying it about her. Her sister. Of sorts. Her own Dickens-like drama.  Carrie Ann was the best thing that had ever happened to Grace, and she was the worst. She’d been out of their lives for nearly fifteen years. And Grace had spent every one of them trying, and failing, to put the past behind her. She turned to her father.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Tell you what?”

“That Mom's been talking about her.”

“Because I don’t want to dredge up all that nonsense. It’s her damn medication. I keep telling the doctor it’s making her worse, and he won’t listen to me.” Her father slammed his fist on the arm of the chair. “These people think just because we’re old that we’re stupid. She wouldn’t be so forgetful if she cut down on some of those pills. How do I know that? Because she’s my wife.  Because I’ve been married to this woman for forty-four years. You know what he said to me?”


“That snot-nosed doctor, that’s who!”

“What did he say?”

“Put me in my place. In front of my wife. ‘You’re a psychotherapist, correct? Not a psychiatrist? You don’t prescribe medication?’ That’s what the snot-nosed so-called doctor actually said to me. Can you believe that? Some twenty-year-old who just started wiping his own ass. I’m telling you she’s on too many pills! Makes her soupy. He won’t listen to me!”

“It’s okay, Dad. Calm down. It’s okay.”

“I can’t bear hearing her talk about Carrie Ann.  Your mother's the one who told us never to mention Carrie Anne's name again." 

Forbid us. Forbid us to ever mention her name again. “I know, Dad. I’ll talk to the doctor. Calm down.”

“I always wanted to go to Spain,” Jody said. She turned off the television and patted the side of the bed. So she’d heard and understood the conversation. God, the brain was a mysterious thing.

Grace went over and sat down. “You never told me that.”

“I would hardly share that with a stranger.”

I’m your daughter! She wanted to shout. But her mother couldn’t help it.

“Just keep talking,” her father said. “At least she’s not dredging up ghosts, or drooling over naked stud muffins.”

And now  Grace couldn't believe her father had just said “naked stud muffins.” Maybe getting away for a bit wasn’t such a bad idea. Grace turned back to her mother. “Why did you always want to go to Spain?”

“My mother went to Spain. All by herself. When she was in her seventies.”

“I know,” Grace said. It had been just after Grace’s grandfather had died. Her grandparents were supposed to take the trip together. Everyone thought Annette Jennings would cancel the trip. Instead, she buried her husband and packed her bags. Little Annette who had never been outside of her home state. Grace had had many conversations with her grandmother about that trip. She was proud of her too.

“It was really something,” Jim said. “Because in those days seventy wasn’t the new fifty or whatever the kids say today. Seventy was seventy.”

“Tell me about it,” Grace said.

Jody Sawyer straightened up, and her eyes seemed to take in more light. “Well, it’s not like it is now. Women didn’t travel alone back then. Wasn’t that brave? My mother sent me a postcard from Madrid of a beautiful tango dancer in a red dress. The dress was made of actual material—beautiful red silk right on the postcard. I’ll never forget it. She’d only written one sentence on the back. ‘Robert would’ve loved the landing.’ My father was very picking with landings and always impressed when the pilot pulled off a smooth one. Anyway. As soon as I got that postcard I knew my mother was going to be all right. ‘Robert would have loved the landing.’ After she died I spent hours just touching that silky red dress with the tips of my fingers and imagining my mother dancing in the streets of Spain.”

Jody Sawyer looked up and swayed her upper body slightly as if watching her faraway self dance. Then she looked down at her hands, twisting the bed sheet. “Look how ugly and wrinkled I am now.”

“You’re not ugly and wrinkled, Mom. You’re beautiful.”

“I wish I had that postcard now.” Her mother looked up into space. “I lost it.”

Grace hesitated. Did she, or didn’t she?  Grace opened the bedside drawer and took out the postcard. Her mother was right. The dress was silky. Grace handed it to her mother and watched her eyes light up. Next her mother gently outlined the edge of the dancer’s dress with the trembling tip of her right index finger. Her fingernail was misshapen, the peach paint flaking. Grace would have to see if they could bring in a manicurist.
Jody looked at Grace, her eyes clear and bright. “Gracie Ann you have to go. Film everything. I’m dying to see Barcelona through you.” Grace must have looked stricken, for her mother laughed and then put her hand over her heart. “Sorry, no pun intended.” Like antennas being manipulated for a clearer signal, sometimes her mother tuned in perfectly. Jody Sawyer laughed again, and Grace couldn’t help but laugh with her.


“Make me feel like I’m there,” Jody said, closing her eyes. “Help me shut out this hospice. Let me see beautiful Barcelona.” She took Grace’s hand and held it. “Do it for me. I’ll feel like I’m with you. Bring a camera. And your guitar,” she added. “You never know.” When Grace still didn’t answer, her mother opened her eyes, and lifted Grace’s chin up with her hand like she used to do when Grace was a child. “Be brave, Gracie Ann. Just like my mother.”

“Like my mother too,” Grace whispered back.

Watch for my review on Thursday, October 30th, 2014.

Monday, July 28, 2014

G377 Book Review of The New Men by Jon Enfield

Name of Book: The New Men

Author: Jon Enfield

ISBN: 9781938757129

Publisher: Wayzgoose Press

Type of book: Detroit Michigan, Italy, immigration, 'new men', Henry Ford, 1900s-1920s, race relations, Judaism, family, support, Sociological department, Five Dollar Days, cars, WWI, "Polar Bears", Russia Archangel

Year it was published: 2014


"For us, the new man, he is one of two things. First, he is the new worker, a man we instruct and investigate until his probation is complete. But also he is an idea. In the foundry, they make parts. On the line, they make autos. But in Sociological, we make men."

Tony Grams comes to America at the start of the twentieth century, set on becoming a new man. Driven to leave poverty behind, he lands a job at the Ford Motor Company that puts him at the center of a daring social and economic experiment.

The new century and the new auto industry are bursting with promise, and everyone wants Henry Ford’s Model T. But Ford needs men to make it. Better men. New men. Men tough enough and focused enough to handle the ever-bigger, ever-faster assembly line. Ford offers to double the standard wage for men who will be thrifty, sober, and dedicated… and who will let Ford investigators into their homes to confirm it.

Tony has just become one of those investigators. America and Ford have helped him build a new life, so at first he’s eager to get to work. But world war, labor strife, and racial tension pit his increasingly powerful employer against its increasingly desperate enemies.

As Tony and his family come under threat from all sides and he faces losing everything he’s built, he must struggle with his conscience and his weaknesses to protect the people he loves.
is conscience and his weaknesses to protect the people he loves.


The main characters include Tony (Antonio) Grams who comes from an impoverished childhood in Italy and also happens to have problems. He looks up to his older brother and supports his family on his salary. He is a lapsed Catholic and works for Sociological (Educational) Department for Ford. Very little character buildup as a child is given for him. The other character includes Thia, possibly an only daughter of a lapsed Jew physician. She was widowed and lost a child plus had a miscarriage and went through hysterectomy. Considering the sensitive issues of being a woman as well as losing ability to have children and coming from a religion that encourages fertility, I think I would have appreciated if perhaps more of Thia's journey would be shown as seen through her eyes instead of Tony's eyes. What does she think as she goes through these issues? Other characters include Thia's father who is treats people equally no matter their race or origin as well as Tony's family members such as Kitty and Angela, sisters who are opposite as day and night as well as the reporter Ross. I also guess a character sheet might have helped out a bit.


To be honest, I have no idea what I should have learned from the book


The story is told in first person narrative from Tony's point of view, and the story as well as point of view is linear, although in beginning the reader does get a sense for where Tony came from and why he seems to be the way he is. Probably I enjoyed the story up until Tony meets Cynthia (Thia,) and after his affair with her, the story sort of fell for me. I also imagine that certain things will make it an awkward reading such as papers being this way;(news) 'papers, or phone this way; (tele)'phoned. There is also use of some derogatory terms, although its more for historical context, and one word I couldn't understand was bouche. The story is also more action oriented rather than character oriented and in my opinion is more told than show.

Author Information:
(from TLC)

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Enfield ebookAbout Jon Enfield

Jon Enfield has written for a range of audiences and publications. His work has appeared in ConjunctionsPoetry Ireland ReviewUnderground VoicesXavier Review, and He is a former fiction editor of Chicago Review, and he taught writing at the University of Southern California for several years. He received his Ph.D. in English from the University of Chicago for his dissertation on the relationships between American film and fiction 1910-1940. The New Men arose from his longstanding fascination with America in the early twentieth century and from his sense that the emergence and evolution of the American auto industry shed light on some fundamental realities of present-day America.
Connect with Jon on his blog, To Burn from Within.


In beginning the story and the book had potential for me: after all I don't know much about Henry Ford, besides the fact he was anti-Jewish and that he thought Protocols of the Elder of Zion were true as well as helped distribute that piece of trash in 1920s. Okay, let's get back to the story. The story stopped being interesting for me when Tony moves to "present" day in 1910s. I think that transitions were handled poorly and in some cases I had trouble understanding time period. While its pretty awesome that the author researched and went painstakingly through the book to make sure the details were accurate, I would guess that too much of a good thing can be considered distracting. The characters also weren't really fleshed out as I'd hoped, and yes, they were pretty interesting. There was so much going on, that I got a sense there was uncertainty on what to focus on or devote most attention to. By the way, really love the cover.

This is for TLC Book Tour

Jon Enfield’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, July 14th: Fiction Zeal
Wednesday, July 16th: Bibliotica
Thursday, July 17th: Life is Story
Monday, July 21st: Lavish Bookshelf
Tuesday, July 22nd: Missris
Wednesday, July 23rd: Patricia’s Wisdom
Monday, July 28th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Tuesday, July 29th:  Wensend
Thursday, July 31st: Books on the Table
Monday, August 4th:  50 Books Project
Tuesday, August 5th:  Jen’s Book Thoughts
Wednesday, August 6th:  Bibliophilliac
Thursday, August 7th:  No More Grumpy Bookseller
Monday, August 11th:  Walking with Nora
Wednesday, August 13th:  Readers’ Oasis
Thursday, August 14th:  Joyfully Retired
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.)
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