Tuesday, September 30, 2014

E-Reading Book Review of Nest by Esther Ehrlich

Name of Book: Nest

Author: Esther Ehrlich

ISBN: 9780385386074

Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books

Type of book: Cape Cod, Massachusetts, New Jersey, holding on, death, tragedy, multiple sclerosis, psychology, family, nest, birds, friendship, destruction, Judaism, mental institution, 1970s, school, teens, lessons, suicide

Year it was published: 2014


For fans of Jennifer Holm (Penny from Heaven, Turtle in Paradise), a heartfelt and unforgettable middle-grade novel about an irresistible girl and her family, tragic change, and the healing power of love and friendship. In 1972 home is a cozy nest on Cape Cod for eleven-year-old Naomi “Chirp” Orenstein, her older sister, Rachel; her psychiatrist father; and her dancer mother. But then Chirp’s mom develops symptoms of a serious disease, and everything changes.

Chirp finds comfort in watching her beloved wild birds. She also finds a true friend in Joey, the mysterious boy who lives across the street. Together they create their own private world and come up with the perfect plan: Escape. Adventure. Discovery.

Nest is Esther Ehrlich’s stunning debut novel. Her lyrical writing is honest, humorous, and deeply affecting. Chirp and Joey will steal your heart. Long after you finish Nest, the spirit of Chirp and her loving family will stay with you.


The main character is Naomi "Chirp" Orenstein, an eleven year old Jewish girl who is fascinated by birds and often learns fascinating facts about them. She is best described as dreamy, a little bit narrow-viewed, and obsessive to holding on and also is a talented dancer. Her mother is bubbly, also a dancer, and seems to enjoy life a lot as well as dedicating a lot of time to Chirp and Rachel. She also loves nature, loves lemon meringue pie, and is seen as a pillar by her family. Chirp's father is a psychologist and very often exhibits that persona even at home with both Chirp and Rachel which kind of makes for some awkward moments, at least for me. He also treats both girls as adults. Rachel is Chirp's older  teenage sister who is a bit selfish, demanding and is best described as normal. But still in some cases, she tries her best to be there for Chirp whenever she can. She and the father also fight a lot. Joey is Chirp's friend and a possible love interest. He seems to understand what Chirp needs and perhaps secretly wants for her to reciprocate what he does. He also seems to come from a negative household and worries way too much about some issues.


Its possible to weather the storms


The story is written in first person narrative from Chirp's point of view and takes place in 1970s in Cape Cod Massachusetts. In beginning of the story, Chirp and her family are close and happy, with Chirp loving her mother and the activities they do together. I like how we get to know the characters before the tragedies arrive which makes the story much more meaningful. However, tragedies also open up unexpected and different pathways, such as Chirp forging friendship with Joey, or trying to understand her father and older sister, Rachel.

Author Information:
(from goodreads.com)



member since
March 2013

Esther Ehrlich's debut novel, Nest, is forthcoming from Wendy Lamb Books/Random House in September 2014. Ehrlich was born and raised in Boston, graduated from Vassar College, and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.


Despite the fact I had to read it on PC, which I don't really like doing, I enjoyed the story and how beautiful it seemed and sounded. This is a book and a story that really stands out from others I've read. The story itself was also addictive for me and I really felt for Chirp and her family as well as what they were going through due to life. I personally would have liked more scenes of Chirp and Joey as well as how they became and plus what was going on in Joey's life. I also enjoyed learning all sorts of fascinating bird facts and enjoyed how the bird and their nests were used in a story and how they compare to real life.

This copy was provided by NetGalley in exchange for review

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.)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

G455 Brunette Ambition

Title of the book:  Brunette Ambition

Author:  Lea Michele

Publisher: Crown books

Publishing Date: 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8041-3907-6


The star of the hit show Glee shares her experiences and insider tips on beauty, fashion, inner strength, and more in an illustrated book that’s part memoir, part how-to, and part style guide.

Lea Michele is one of the hardest working performers in show business. Whether she’s starring as Rachel Berry on Glee, rocking a glamorous look on the red carpet, recording her solo album, or acting as the spokesperson for L’Oreal, Lea is the ultimate multi-tasker. She knows better than anyone that it is difficult to be your best self and keep things in perspective when your to-do list is overflowing and you are faced with challenges, so she’s developed a foolproof system for remaining healthy and centered. In Brunette Ambition, she reveals the lessons and advice that have worked for her--from beauty and fashion secrets to fitness tips, and career insights. Supplemented with never-before-seen photos and revealing anecdotes, it’s the book Lea wishes she’d had in her teens and early twenties: A practical and inspirational guide to harnessing tenacity and passion and living the fullest life, no matter what obstacles life puts in your way.

Personal Opinion:

What rating should I give to a book that's 200 pages, mostly pictures, but you're still feeling desperate to finish and even count pages? I couldn't last through this, I'm sorry. First of all, I'm not a Glee fan, although I know of the show, and the title appealed to me, although I vaguely knew who Lea Michele is. When I got it, I hoped that the book would be, well, accessible to someone average and that she would realistically detail her stresses and frustrations in life. Instead, somehow, she tries to sound "helpful' but ends up sounding condescending towards non-wealthy folks and the way its built is that its as if she's meant to be famous. Yeah, big lack of conflict. Just because she mentions that she knows some people who had eating disorders, but doesn't really elaborate on their problems or on her feelings, it doesn't really count as being empathetic or sympathetic. Let's continue on what my other problems were with the book.

Mostly I read fiction, although non-fiction does creep in, yet she can't really decide what the book should be: should it be about how awesome her life is? Should it be a bit on her tribulations? The book really suffered from her indecision though. If she was going for memoir, then she really failed to bring out or to make me care about the people in the pages, and besides simple sentences about her hanging out with friends and family, she doesn't go into detail about how she hangs out with them. For example, she could have mentioned that she and her family meet up at a restaurant they like and what they order, or perhaps give more examples of her family members doing things together.

Also, seriously, for someone who claims to be well rounded, she really isn't aware that people have different situations in life: Whole Foods a standard grocery store? *rolls eyes* Some people can't afford to shop at Whole Foods, and instead they shop at Wal-Mart or maybe small ethnic grocery stores, and unfortunately organic foods are expensive and we are not blessed with your salary to splurge. Yeah, the ideas are nice, but use different examples: not everyone is an actor or works at an office: different careers exist such as waitress, cashier, bagger, etc... Its impossible to please everyone, I know that, but why alienate those who are not blessed with the rich and famous lifestyle that you seem to enjoy?

She also sounds very unrealistic and too good to be true, and she's really not Ned Flanders from The Simpsons. If she is also like this as a TV character, I'm really glad I never got into watching Glee, because I'm pretty sure I would have been angry that a Jewish girl character is behaving the way she is.

I would go on about the problems that prevented me from reading a book that I thought would be a quick read, but I'd rather move on to another good book instead of spending on something like this. Ooh, just a got a good idea for it.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

0 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, September 26, 2014

G392 Book Review of Spy Island by Sophie Schiller

Name of Book: Spy Island

Author: Sophie Schiller

ISBN: 9781481181716

Publisher: Createspace

Type of book: WWI, espionage, folktales, genteel poverty, orphan, spying, secrets, Germans, West Indies, 1916-1918? Transfer, hurricane, nature, friendship, U-Boat, submarine, faith, Queen Coziah

Year it was published: 2014


A forbidden friendship that blossoms into love between an island girl and a German U-boat deserter is at the heart of this colorful historical novel.

In 1916, Abigail Maduro arrives in the Danish West Indies to live with her Aunt Esther, a bad tempered spinster, and her houseful of eccentric servants. Despite the island's veneer of tranquility, St. Thomas is a hotbed of German spies who use their Hamburg-America steamers to aid the Kaiser's war effort.

When a mysterious stranger suddenly appears in town, Abigail is drawn into the conflict. In the scholarly Erich Seibold, she finds the friendship and love she has been craving, even after she learns that Erich is really a deserter from a German U-boat. Their idyllic interlude comes to a crashing halt when the island's German consul also discovers Erich's identity, and blackmails him into committing sabotage. After a melee involving the Danish governor, Erich is thrown into prison, forcing Abigail to risk everything to save him. Action and adventure abound in this colorful historical novel that brings to life a fading West Indian sugar colony in the last days of Danish rule


Characters are definitely a strong point for me, and its quite a testament to say that I can still remember and differentiate them. First of all there's Abigail Maduro, a descendant of Sephardic Jews who comes back to West Indies against her will. She is sixteen, and her imagination rivals that of heroine in Northanger Abbey. She is brave, kindhearted, impulsive and loyal. Aunt Esther is the spinster aunt that lives in denial and seems to have a lot of enemies. She is abusive towards Abigail. Erich Seibold has got to be my favorite character in the book. I loved his sense of humor and how he flirts with Abigail. He is well read and has his own secrets that he eventually reveals to Abigail. Nana Jane and Cooky Betty are two native women who serve Abigail as well as Aunt Esther. With one another they have a love/hate relationship, both are loyal, and are always there for Abigail, trying to do whatever they can for her. I would have wanted more scenes of Nana Jane, Cooky Betty as well as the judge that Abigail meets.


Everything happens for a reason


The story is written in first person narrative from Abigail's point of view. I did find the atmosphere interesting, at least how in beginning the story struck me as sort of light hearted despite the seriousness, but then it tried to stay serious amidst interesting and memorable characters such as Nana Jane, Cooky Betty, Aunt Esther, Queen Coziah, Erich Seibold and the judge. To be honest I would have wanted to spend more time with the characters, or to see more scenes with their personalities, because I enjoyed them a great deal. So, yes, characters and the setting are the strong points.

Author Information:
(from historical fiction virtual book tour)

About the Author03_Sophie Schiller

Sophie Schiller was born in Paterson, NJ and grew up in the West Indies amid aging pirates and retired German spies. She was educated at American University, Washington, DC and now lives in Brooklyn, NY.
You can find more information on Sophie Schiller and her novels at website. You can also connect with her on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Goodreads.


I love to read historical fiction, but more often than not, historical fiction is always serious, which isn't a bad thing, but sometimes I'd want to read something fun and lighthearted. Spy Island definitely fits that criteria. The heroine really reminded me of the heroine from Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen as well as Sally Freedman from Starring Sally J Freedman as herself by Judy Blume, at least in beginning I got that impression. There were parts that were long for me, and one tiny thing is that Disney created Alice cartoon in 1950s maybe? Definitely not 1916 (Just realized that a book was written in 1800s titled Alice in Wonderland, but I think that should have been mentioned because I think many readers will automatically think of Disney cartoon instead of the book.) What I did enjoy was the chemistry between the characters, and I do wish for more scenes with Erich and Abigail. Oh yeah, I loved Erich's character.

This is for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour

Buy the Book

Spy Island Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 15
Review & Giveaway at Queen of All She Reads
Tuesday, September 16
Review at The Librarian Fatale
Spotlight & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Wednesday, September 17
Interview at The Maiden’s Court
Thursday, September 18
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Friday, September 19
Interview & Giveaway at Reading Lark
Monday, September 22
Review at Brooke Blogs
Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Tuesday, September 23
Review at Just One More Chapter
Spotlight at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, September 24
Review at Luxury Reading
Thursday, September 25
Spotlight & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Friday, September 26
Review at Princess of Eboli
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

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.)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

G399 Book Review of A Better World by Marcus Sakey

Name of Book: A Better World

Author: Marcus Sakey

ISBN: 978-1-4778-2394-1

Publisher: Thomas and Mercer

Part of a Series: Brilliance is the prequel

Type of book: Speculation, 2000s, brilliants, political thriller, trying to make a world a better place, Wyoming, chaos, missing person, secret invention

Year it was published: 2014


The brilliants changed everything.

Since 1980, 1% of the world has been born with gifts we’d only dreamed of. The ability to sense a person’s most intimate secrets, or predict the stock market, or move virtually unseen. For thirty years the world has struggled with a growing divide between the exceptional...and the rest of us.

Now a terrorist network led by brilliants has crippled three cities. Supermarket shelves stand empty. 911 calls go unanswered. Fanatics are burning people alive.

Nick Cooper has always fought to make the world better for his children. As both a brilliant and an advisor to the president of the United States, he’s against everything the terrorists represent. But as America slides toward a devastating civil war, Cooper is forced to play a game he dares not lose—because his opponents have their own vision of a better world.

And to reach it, they’re willing to burn this one down.

From Marcus Sakey, “the master of the mindful page turner” (Gillian Flynn) and “one of our best storytellers” (Michael Connelly), Book Two of the Brilliance Saga is a relentless thrill ride that will change the way you look at your world—and the people around you.


The author did attempt to go into more details about the characters as well as switching points of view, but I did feel that perhaps I didn't spend enough time in their thoughts. The main character is Nick Cooper, a former DARS agent who becomes an advisor to President of United States and begins to discover some very ugly facts about someone he helped previously; other characters from the first book such as Nick's ex-wife and children also show up along with Shannon, John Smith, Nick's best friend Quinn and the Epstein brothers. But its also not just old characters, new characters that end up being fascinating also appear, such as Ethan and Amy Park along with their daughter and Soren, John Smith's best friend.


Things aren't what they seem


The story is written from multiple point of views in third person narrative, and unfortunately there aren't chapter subheadings to when point of view switches, but strangely enough I didn't feel lost and enjoyed seeing things from different characters. The strengths of the book lie in the action and dialogue. Just like the previous book, I couldn't sense depth of the characters, but perhaps felt as if I am looking at their surfaces instead. I can definitely imagine this as a movie, and yeah, I do hope it will be a movie, and just like in previous book, there are advertisements and whatnots to help us get deeper into the world.

Author Information:
(From the email)

Marcus Sakey's thrillers have been nominated for more than fifteen awards, named New York Times Editor's Picks, and selected among Esquire's Top 5 Books of The Year. His novels Good People and Brilliance are both in development as feature films. Marcus is also the host of the acclaimed television show "Hidden City" on Travel Channel, for which he is routinely pepper-sprayed and attacked by dogs. Prior to writing, he worked as a landscaper, a theatrical carpenter, a 3D animator, a woefully unprepared movie reviewer, a tutor, and a graphic designer who couldn't draw. Marcus lives in Chicago with his wife and daughter.


Umm first of all, when is the third book coming and why did the author have to leave me at the cliffhanger?! Yeah, I loved reading it and did find it exciting. The action is nonstop, the people are not who they seem and I really enjoy this type of speculation/science fiction. (Makes me wonder why I wasn't exposed to something like this when I was taking a science fiction and literature class?) It also reminded me very strongly of Immortality by Kevin Bohacz, and the author does a good job at continuing to keep the tension from the previous book and rise it up even more. I do feel its necessary to read the prequel to understand what is going on and to feel that one hasn't missed anything.

Thanks to Wunderkind-pr.com! 

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.)

Spotlight for Ash to Steele by Karen-Anne Stewart

Title: Ash to Steele
Author: Karen-Anne Stewart
Publisher: Karen-Anne Stewart
Pages: 342
Genre: New Adult Romance
Format: Paperback/Kindle
Purchase at AMAZON


Who I am and all I believe is marred with just one glance into angry, steel blue eyes. He seems to control my air, my ability to breathe. He makes me crave everything I know is a sin. Pure becomes tainted and lines are blurred. It's my fault; I'm the one who isn't strong enough. I've been damaged...broken. Breck's words haunt me...'There's a consequence for every choice you make.'


I've had so many women I can't even remember over half of their names, but none of them are mine; I make damn sure of that. I take what I desire and never look back. I don't need or want anyone, ever...not until I met Emma. Those eyes bore into what's left of my soul and her touch sears me, weakens me. I want to hate her for that. She is my ruin...my sweetest hell.

Book Excerpt: 

   His confession knocks the air out of me, just as ruthlessly as if he punched me in the stomach.  I gasp, desperately try to fill my lungs with air, “I am yours. You’ve always had me; even when I hated you, you had me.” 
   All coherent thoughts disintegrate when Breck grabs my shoulders, pulling me against him.  The heat of his body radiates through my skin as his hand runs behind my head, sliding up my neck until his fingers are tangled in my hair, pulling it until my mouth is almost touching his.  The intensity of his gaze weakens me.  Steel blue phases into a stormy gray as his mouth collides with mine. 
   My head spins. My knees go weak as I collapse against him, my body not able to handle the intensity of the sensations exploding inside of me.  Breck’s lips claim mine with such power, for one second, I am afraid.  I know the danger of losing myself in him, but then the fear is gone; there is no one else I would rather lose myself to. 

   His hand fists my hair as his kiss deepens, his tongue pushing, probing, demanding access.  Opening my mouth, I kiss him back.  The feel of his lips conquering me, the taste of his tongue as it slides over mine, colliding, taming, plundering, sends the sweetest shivers down my spine.  His teeth graze my bottom lip, nipping and lavishing as his tongue tastes my lips, then plunges inside again, breaking me to his will.  I need him with such desperation, I cringe at my weakness but allow him to tame me.

About the Author:

Karen-Anne Stewart has always adored reading and has now fallen in love with writing. Her written works are The Rain Trilogy: Saving Rain, Healing Rain, and After the Rain, and the newly released stand alone novel, Ash to Steele. Her debut novel, Saving Rain: The First Novel in The Rain Trilogy, was a nominee for the Book Junkie’s Choice Awards, and Saving Rain and After the Rain were nominees for the 2014 RONE Awards. 

When Karen-Anne isn’t writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, hiking, and visiting new places. She fuels her addiction of creating new stories by her only other addiction, caffeine, and listening to a myriad of musical genres. Tucked away near the Blue Ridge Mountains, Karen-Anne lives with her husband, daughter, two dogs, and their cat. She plans on writing new adult romance as long as her fingers maintain dexterity.
For More Information

Check out my reviews for Rain Trilogy

For More Information

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Link to giveaway for Inglorious Marraiges


G408 Book Review of Behind You by Carly M Duncan

Name of Book: Behind You

Author: Carly M Duncan

ISBN: 9781494387938

Publisher: Createspace

Type of book: Mystery, thriller, sins, adultery, who did it? motive, secret, 2000s

Year it was published: 2014


When a mysterious attack lands Heather in the hospital on the brink of death, her family rushes to her side. Through an inconvenient maze of shadowed memory and family secrets, Heather can trust only herself to discover if her husband, parents, sister or aunt tried to kill her. During the course of their own narratives, each character confesses to their various crimes of passion, envy and ignorance, weaving Heather's mystery into an untraditional tale about seizing the opportunity to start over.​


For me personally, the characters are more of told than show, and I barely got to know any of them. I'll do my best to make the characters as spoiler free as I can. Heather is the main character, and on the surface she appears to have an ideal life until that attack. There is also Elizabeth, Heather's older sister who has secrets of her own and she seems to be commitment phobic and is resentful of Heather. Steven is the husband who also has his own secrets and is caught in a limbo between decisions he has to make. Katherine is the aunt that Elizabeth worships and just like Elizabeth Katherine has her own reasons for not having a family. Susan and Richard are the parents who have their own pasts to deal with.


History/sins repeat itself


The story was written in first person narrative from multiple point of views, that of Heather, Steven who happens to be Heather's husband, Elizabeth who is Heather's older sister, Katherine who is Heather's aunt, Susan who is Heather's mother and Richard, Heather's father. There is warning to when point of view switches, but I didn't really sense that a lot of character development went into the story, and the dark secrets as well as characters sounded alike.

Author Information:
(from the kit)

Carly M. Duncan is a television producer by day and a writer whenever there is time. Her first short story was published when she was in high school after a writing group prompted her to begin blogging before it was cool. Carly’s debut novel, Marcie, was released in 2013. Though she’ll forever be a California girl at heart, she now lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband, two children and beloved Westie.

Her latest book is Behind You.
For More Information


Its true enough that this is an untraditional mystery of who attacked Heather and why, but I have to admit that I wished the characters would have different motives instead of what seemed to be the same motives as well as the same secret. I really do like the idea, but the execution of the story wasn't very well done. I also had some trouble with character voices which didn't sound very distinguishable for me.

For More Information

This is for Pump Up Your Book

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.)

Friday, September 19, 2014

G438 Round the Bend: From Luton to Peru, to Ningallo, a Search for Life after Redudancy

Title of the book:  Round the Bend: From Luton to Peru, to Ningallo, a Search for Life after Redudancy

Author:  Alistair McGuinness

Publisher: Matador Books

Publishing Date: 2014

ISBN: 978-1-78088-390-8


From the Amazon to the Andes and Kilimanjaro to Cape TownThis adventure story captures the reality and exhilaration of leaving home to undertake Gap Year travel in South AmericaAfricaFiji and Australia.

Three things happened simultaneously. The lioness charged, Alistair fled across the parched savannah and his wife screamed for him to run faster. Stuffed deep inside his tattered rucksack was a guidebook containing advice on what to do in wildlife emergencies, which he planned to read if he survived the next thirty seconds. Future plans to climb Kilimanjaro, teach English in the Amazon and live in Australia were temporarily forgotten as he turned to face the pouncing lioness, thinking back to the words of advice from his mother-in-law. "Don't do anything silly, and look after Francine." From deep underground in a remote Bolivian mine to the scorched Australian outback, Round the Bend is an adventure travel story. It explores the turbulence of redundancy, the excitement of travel, the anguish of leaving home and the challenges of starting a new life in Australia.

For More Information

  • Round the Bend: From Luton to Peru to Ningaloo, a Search for Life After Redundancy is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Author Information:
(from the kit)

Alistair McGuiness grew up in the UK in a town called Luton, which lies 30 miles north of London. Family holidays were spent in County Donegal, Ireland, staying with his Grandmother in their large family home where she had once raised fifteen children.
It was these annual trips that made Alistair realise his Great Uncles were Seanachaís (Irish story tellers). After a few pints of Guinness in the family bar, brothers Barney and Francis would entertain the evening crowds with their recitations of life in rural Ireland. As their rustic voices carried across the crowded room, Alistair would watch and listen as the animated tales mesmorised the overseas visitors.
44 countries and four decades later, Alistair now calls Australia home and in the tradition of Great Uncles Barney and Francis, loves to recite stories. He lives between the beach and the forest with his wife, two young boys and a fun puppy called Peppi. After decades of adventurous escapades Alistair is calming down and has decided to write more and bungee jump less!
He works as a Business Improvement Specialist and has just spent three years as a fly in fly out employee at a remote iron ore mine site in Western Australia. As a trainer and facilitator, he has worked in Europe and Australia and is passionate about helping people and organisations to become successful.
A fun family day for Alistair would be fishing from the local jetty with his boys, taking the puppy for a walk along the beach at sunset and cooking a scrumptious curry in the evening with his wife.
An ideal adventurous day for Alistair would be a days walking and scrambling in the Lake District with friends, followed by a visit to a village pub nestled deep in the English countryside.
For More Information

1.With what particular subject or period does the book deal?

The particular subject that the book deals with is travel to remote parts of the world and trying to adapt and survive when you can't speak a foreign tongue and where modern conveniences are non-existent.

2.How thorough is the treatment?

The book was descriptive but I didn't really feel as if I got into the story or into their characters. The style was very British and is I felt as I should have known the author and his wife instead of getting to know them throughout the story.

3.What were the sources used?

The sources were personal anecdotes

4.Is the account given in broad outline or in detail?

The account is given in broad outline instead of detail. I think I personally would have appreciated a bit more history in the traveled places and perhaps if more personality could be shown.

5.Is the style that of reportorial writing, or is there an effort at interpretive writing?

I think its more of reportorial writing instead of interpretive writing. Even if fictionalized, I might have appreciated getting to know the author's feelings towards what he saw and experienced as well as hints of history or details about some references for those that aren't familiar with them.

6.What is the point of view or thesis of the author?

Its told in first person narrative from Alistair's point of view.

7.Is the treatment superficial or profound?

Personally for me the treatment is a bit superficial. Currently I'm reading another travel memoir and I find it a memorable and an exciting read because the author talks about the places and people that inhabit the places she visited as well as the history behind the places which I like and which makes me feel as if I'm with the author, experiencing what she experiences. Unfortunately, I haven't really found that style in Round the Bend, although I know its an exciting book.

8.For what group is the book intended (textbook, popular, scholarly, etc.)?

Probably for popular and close friends and family members

9.What part does biographical writing play in the book?

Its from his personal experiences and memoirs which is as biographical as it gets

10.Is social history or political history emphasized?

I think neither of the history is emphasized.

11.Are dates used extensively, and if so, are they used intelligently?

Dates aren't really used extensively, although it does take place in 2002 I believe

12.Is the book a revision? How does it compare with earlier editions?

Its not a revision

13.Are maps, illustrations, charts, etc. used and how are these to be evaluated?

There are maps in the book and I liked that they were there for those who aren't familiar where places are at and they are easy to read.

This is for Pump Up Your Book Tours

2 out of 5 stars
(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 itand never let it go.)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

G398 Book Review of Brilliance by Marcus Sakey

Name of Book: Brilliance

Author: Marcus Sakey

ISBN: 9781611099690

Publisher: Thomas and Mercer

Part of a Series: A Better World is the sequel

Type of book: Speculative fiction, gifted vs average, hiding out, government, 2000s, alternative reality, academies, protection, friendship, action, thievery, motives, game of chess

Year it was published: 2013


In Wyoming, a little girl reads people’s darkest secrets by the way they fold their arms. In New York, a man sensing patterns in the stock market racks up $300 billion. In Chicago, a woman can go invisible by being where no one is looking. They’re called "brilliants," and since 1980, one percent of people have been born this way. Nick Cooper is among them; a federal agent, Cooper has gifts rendering him exceptional at hunting terrorists. His latest target may be the most dangerous man alive, a brilliant drenched in blood and intent on provoking civil war. But to catch him, Cooper will have to violate everything he believes in - and betray his own kind.

From Marcus Sakey, "a modern master of suspense" (Chicago Sun-Times) and "one of our best storytellers" (Michael Connelly), comes an adventure that’s at once breakneck thriller and shrewd social commentary; a gripping tale of a world fundamentally different and yet horrifyingly similar to our own, where being born gifted can be a terrible curse.


The main character is Nick Cooper, an agent that hunts out his own kind and often exterminates them. He is fair, obeys the rules and orders and is very dedicated to family and career. Despite the background, I didn't really feel as if I got into his thoughts and what he thought. The story is more of a movie in my view. There is also Shannon, a talented and gifted woman who has some questionable motives towards Cooper and also willing to do whatever she can. The antagonist, John Smith is also fascinating in his own way and I do wish that I'd see more of Cooper and John Smith matching wits. The part about Epstein, I couldn't help but wonder if he is based on facebook creator? At this point I wonder who is based on those who have Asperger's in real world?


Things are not what they seem


The story is written in third person narrative from Nick Cooper's point of view and its a very action oriented point of view. The story also seems believable, and I like that the gifts the people have don't border on the super-hero mode but instead they are more extended than those of normals. (For example, Nick has an amazing ability to read body language in tiniest muscles, and Shannon has an amazing ability to blend in with shadows.) Also dialogue and action are very strong strengths in the story and kept my attention on what should happen next.

Author Information:
(From the email)

Marcus Sakey's thrillers have been nominated for more than fifteen awards, named New York Times Editor's Picks, and selected among Esquire's Top 5 Books of The Year. His novels Good People and Brilliance are both in development as feature films. Marcus is also the host of the acclaimed television show "Hidden City" on Travel Channel, for which he is routinely pepper-sprayed and attacked by dogs. Prior to writing, he worked as a landscaper, a theatrical carpenter, a 3D animator, a woefully unprepared movie reviewer, a tutor, and a graphic designer who couldn't draw. Marcus lives in Chicago with his wife and daughter.


What an amazing and addictive read. The pages literally flew out of my hands as I wanted to know what happens next and yeah, I barely noticed how many chapters I've passed through as I kept on reading and reading it. I kind of thought that the characters would be autistic like, and that they would come with the weaknesses, but they had the strengths and no weaknesses, or so it seemed. Something else that is a bit unique about the book is introduction to some ideas, technology and people that are in the world, which means the reader isn't in the dark. I do admit that towards the end it becomes a bit predictable, but prior to that, non-stop roller coaster ride. I also think that there is some depth in the story, but its not as much as I would have liked.

Thanks to Wunderkind-pr.com! 

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.)

G387 Book Review of The Angel of Losses by Stephanie Feldman

Name of Book: The Angel of Losses

Author: Stephanie Feldman

ISBN: 978-0-06-222891-8

Publisher: Ecco

Type of book: Jewish mythology, Jewish folktales, hidden Jews, 2000s, marriage, conversion, sisterhood, Europe, hiding, brotherhood, siblings, angels, Wandering Jew, White Rebbe, New York, thesis paper, notebooks of stories

Year it was published: 2014


The Tiger's Wife meets A History of Love in this inventive, lushly imagined debut novel that explores the intersections of family secrets, Jewish myths, the legacy of war and history, and the bonds between sisters

When Eli Burke dies, he leaves behind a mysterious notebook full of stories about a magical figure named The White Rebbe, a miracle worker in league with the enigmatic Angel of Losses, protector of things gone astray, and guardian of the lost letter of the alphabet, which completes the secret name of God.

When his granddaughter, Marjorie, discovers Eli's notebook, everything she thought she knew about her grandfather--and her family--comes undone. To find the truth about Eli's origins and unlock the secrets he kept, she embarks on an odyssey that takes her deep into the past, from 18th century Europe to Nazi-occupied Lithuania, and back to the present, to New York City and her estranged sister Holly, whom she must save from the consequences of Eli's past.

Interweaving history, theology, and both real and imagined Jewish folktales, The Angel of Losses is a family story of what lasts, and of what we can-and cannot-escape.


Marjorie is a main character who struck me as an obsessive compulsive young woman whose life became Topsy turvy due to grandfather's death and her sister's conversion as well as marriage to a Jewish man. (The family had no idea they were hidden Jews...) I also think as a way of trying to hold on to her grandfather, she becomes obsessed with the White Rebbe, a mythical character that played in her grandfather's stories. For me personally she is not a likable character and she is kind of like Alice in Wonderland. Marjorie's sister, Holly/Chava, is married to a Jewish man and has decided to convert to Judaism. She acts as a mediator between her sister and her husband, often put in a hard place to choose whom she'll support. Eli is the girls' grandfather who hides a dark secret about himself and how he is related to Angel of Losses and who has passed away. There is also Simon, a secular Jewish man who seems to act as Marjorie's love interest.


I honestly have no idea what I should have learned from it, aside from the fact that knowledge has its consequences.


Most of the story is told in first person narrative from Marjorie's point of view, although the tales are told in third person narrative from a mysterious point of view. The reader really needs to be familiar with Jewish mythology/folktales in order to enjoy and understand the book, and they also need to understand certain myths as well, such as a myth about Joseph de la Raina being reincarnated as a black dog. I did appreciate the short stories much more than the main story, and the short stories did have the air of a Jewish folktale.

Author Information:
(From TLC)
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Stephanie FeldmanAbout Stephanie Feldman

Stephanie Feldman is a graduate of Barnard College. She lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and her daughter.


This was seriously the oddest book I've read. I think if more information about Jewish folktales were presented, then I doubt I'd have trouble with it. I sort of understand what the author was trying to do, but, well, I think more details are needed in certain areas: first of all, I didn't realize that the main characters had no idea they were Jewish because their behaviors can be seen as extremely secular. Considering that I had no idea they were hidden Jews, that added a frustration for me in trying to understand Marjorie. Also, I didn't really like Marjorie yet like it or not, you're stuck with her for almost the whole book and that might not be a pleasant ride. Also, Simon and Marjorie really lacked chemistry with one another and certain pages are blank on purpose, thus the book isn't defective. (In my copy, pages 244 and 258) I did enjoy Grandfather's stories and liked the atmosphere, but for those unfamiliar with Jewish mythology, more information is really needed.

This is for TLC Book Tour

Stephanie’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, July 29th: The Relentless Reader
Wednesday, July 30th: Sammy the Bookworm
Thursday, July 31st: I’d Rather Be At The Beach
Monday, August 4th: A Night’s Dream of Books
Wednesday, August 6th: Book-alicious Mama
Thursday, August 7th: guiltless reading
Tuesday, August 12th: Back Porchervations
Thursday, August 14th: Spiced Latte Reads
Monday, August 18th: Broken Teepee
Saturday, August 23rd: Another Clean Slate
Monday, August 25th: Fiction Zeal
Tuesday, August 26th: A Bookish Way of Life
Wednesday, August 27th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Thursday, August 28th: A Bookish life
Monday, September 1st: Based on a True Story
Tuesday, September 2nd: The Avid Reader
Wednesday, September 3rd: Ryann Dannelly
Friday, September 5th: Not in Jersey
Monday, September 8th: Read Lately
Tuesday, September 9th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, September 10th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Monday, September 15th: Sun Mountain Reviews
Tuesday, September 16th: Must Read Faster
Wednesday, September 17th: nightlyreading
Friday, September 19th: A Chick Who Reads
Monday, September 22nd: Kahakai Kitchen
Tuesday, September 23rd: Jorie Loves a Story
Friday, September 26th: Cici’s Theories
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.)

G380 E-Reading Book Review of Letters from Wishing Rock by Pam Stucky

Name of Book: Letters from Wishing Rock

Author: Pam Stucky

ISBN/ASIN: 9781460960127

Publisher: Self published

Part of a Series: Wishing Rock

Type of book: community, starting over, Wishing Rock, Dogwinkle Island, Washington, epistolary, 2000s, contemporary women's fiction, spirit, friendship, neighbors, sisterhood, grandmother/granddaughters relationships, kindness

Year it was published: 2011


Pam Stucky's charming debut novel is already garnering rave reviews and demands for book two in the Wishing Rock series. This engaging, fun read is written in the format of letters/e-mails amongst characters. It combines the easy readability of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and the sassy, irreverent tone of Bridget Jones' Diary, with the slice-of-life sensibilities of Alexander McCall Smith's 44 Scotland Street or Ladies' Detective Agency series.

What would happen if everyone in town lived in the same building? Ruby Parker is about to find out. Her fiancé has left her and she needs a fresh start, so she moves to Wishing Rock, Washington, a small town on Dogwinkle Island in the waters near Seattle, where she meets a quirky cast of characters who quickly become family. Letters between the neighbors and their friends chronicle the twists and turns of the characters’ daily lives. There’s Jake, a handsome and charming first-year medical student who catches Ruby’s eye from the start, despite his being over a decade younger. Millie, a Wishing Rock resident for forty years, runs the town’s library, post office, newsletter and grocery store, knows everyone and everything, and shares the history of the area with her playful wit. World traveler and psychic Alexandra bestows insight and wisdom with humor and compassion, and Ruby’s Gran heads to the United Kingdom, heeding her own advice to seize the day. And then there’s Ed; if something fun is going on, the grandson of the town’s founding father is likely at the center of it. Amidst all this action, Ruby manages to find passion and companionship, but will she be able to open her heart to love?

Online dating, a group trip to Scotland, a discussion about dogwinkles, a fateful hoedown, and friendships old and new, all interspersed with recipes from some of the town’s best cooks, make Wishing Rock come alive in this delightful and insightful look at life, love, relationships, and community.


Its interesting to note that 99 percent of the book is written from the women's points of view, and it shows multifaceted women. (Yes, its more than just a focus on men...) The characters are memorable and very well drawn: Ruby is a contemporary woman that struggles with finding The One after the love of her life broke up with her. She is resilient, takes chances whenever she can and is a bit of an optimist.  Her younger sister seems to look up to Ruby and both enjoy a close relationship to one another as well as to their grandmother. Their grandmother, despite the age, is a strong role model and upholds as well as encourages her granddaughters and she's very creative with ideas. Other characters include Alexandra, a wise psychic as well as being close to Ed; then there's Millie who shares the town history and is content with her life but who hides a tragic past.


Starting over can be the best thing to happen to someone


The story is written in an email/texting format in first person narrative and is both hilarious as well as wise. For me as well the story became addictive and I couldn't wait to see what will happen next to the characters. The points of view are from different characters, including those outside the Wishing Rock such as Ruby's sister and grandmother.

Author Information:
(From goodreads.com)



I'll be honest: I loved reading this book. Its philosophical, hilarious, has intriguing as well as memorable characters, its also written in an epistolary format and the author has done a very good in creating the unique voices per character, which is a difficult task as I imagine. I hadn't tried the recipes, but I loved being part of the Wishing Rock community as well as getting to know Ruby, her grandmother, her sister and her friends and family. It is a very modern read and people do act like contemporary human beings, which I don't mind, but I imagine that some others will. I think I did have some trouble in remembering Alexandra, although she's an older psychic woman and I can't wait to learn more about the community.

This was given to me by the author. Thank you!

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.)
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