Friday, October 31, 2014

G452 The Gossamer Years: The Diary of a Noblewoman of Heian Japan

Title of the book:The Gossamer Years; The Diary of a Noblewoman of Heian Japan

Author: Michitsuna no haha

Publisher: Tuttle

Publishing Date: 1964/ written from around 954 up to 975

ISBN: 978-0-8048-1123-1


Kagero Nikki, translated here as The Gossamer Years, belongs to the same period as the celebrated Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikuibu.

This remarkably frank autobiographical diary and personal confession attempts to describe a difficult relationship as it reveals two tempestuous decades of the author's unhappy marriage and her growing indignation at rival wives and mistresses. Too impetuous to be satisfied as a subsidiary wife, this beautiful (and unnamed) noblewoman of the Heian dynasty protests the marriage system of her time in one of Japanese literature's earliest attempts to portray difficult elements of the predominant social hierarchy. A classic work of early Japanese prose, The Gossamer Years is an important example of the development of Heian literature, which, at its best, represents an extraordinary flowering of realistic expression, an attempt, unique for its age, to treat the human condition with frankness and honesty. A timeless and intimate glimpse into the culture of ancient Japan, this translation by Edward Seidensticker paints a revealing picture of married life in the Heian period.

What is it?

Just like The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, this is a diary from Heian Era of Japan, although unlike Sei Shonagon and Murasaki, this diary takes place prior to when they got to shine, and I can't help but get the feeling that it influenced Murasaki Shikibu a lot.

Who wrote or made it?

A noblewoman by the name of Michitsuna no haha (Mother of Michitsuna) has written this diary of her marriage to the Prince by name of Kaneie.

When was it written or made?

The diary was written from 954 and stops at 975. The diary does provide small education to the Heian Era culture, but I think a lot of it still needs to be learned.

Where was it written or made?

It was written in Japan during the Heian Era, prior to Sei Shonagon and Murasaki Shikibu.

How was it written or made?

The diary is divided into three "books," the first one taking place from 954 up until 968, the second from 969 up until 971 and the last 972 up until 974. The first book is the shortest, while the last two are longer.

Personal Opinion:

There are parts of the diary that I enjoyed such as poetry and nature descriptions, but I have to admit that her writing pales when comparing her to Sei Shonagon and Murasaki Shikibu. I do think that she did influence Tale of Genji, in particular the locust episode, or when the Prince wrote a long response to the author along with her adopting a girl. What I found a bit annoying is the endnotes. I am sorry, but I'm not a fan of endnotes and often prefer footnotes to endnotes. I also got an impression that I would learn a lot about Heian Era marriage from her diary, but unfortunately I barely learned anything about the era straight from the diary, although the supplemental information added by the translator is very helpful. PS, love the cover.

I would like to thank Tuttle Publishing for providing me the copy of The Gossamer Years; The Diary of a Noblewoman of Heian Japan of Michitsuna no haha translated by Edward Seidensticker 

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.)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

G446 Book Review of Bad Taste in Men by Lana Cooper

Name of Book: Bad Taste in Men

Author: Lana Cooper

ISBN: 9780615899602

Publisher: self published

Type of book: 1980s-1990s, teenage crushes, relationships, close siblings, failures, desires, middle school to college, humor, small town

Year it was published: 2013


Have you ever felt like even Mother Theresa has got more game than you?
If you have, you'd be in the same boat as geeky, awkward metalhead Nova Porter.

Bad Taste In Men follows Nova from her prepubescent years through young adulthood and her attempts at getting dudes to dig her.

Juggling self-esteem issues, small town outsider status, and questionable taste in guys, Nova is looking for love in all the wrong places - like the food court at the mall. Nova's circle of friends and her strange(ly) endearing family more than make up for what her love life lacks.

Along the way, Nova alternately plays the roles of hero and villain, mastermind and stooge; picking up far more valuable life lessons than numbers for her little black book.

One part chick lit for tomboys and one part Freaks and Geeks for kids who came of age in the mid-'90s, Bad Taste In Men is loaded (like a freight train) with pop cultural references and crude humor.

From getting laughed at by your crush to being stood up (twice!) by a guy with one eye, Bad Taste In Men showcases the humor and humiliation that accompanies the search for love (or at least "like") as a small-town teenage outcast, managing to wring heart-warming sweetness from angsty adolescent memories - and jokes about barf and poop.


The main character includes Nova who begins to crush on guys but the catch is that the guys she seems to like only want the dreaded "friends zone," and nothing beyond that. She is into heavy metal music, has a close relationship with her brother and wants nothing more than to experience a first kiss and a crush, only to be devastated. There are other characters presented such as Nova's young brother Orion, numerous crushes as well as Nova's girlfriends. Most of the guy crushes that Nova likes have similar hobbies and music tastes to her, but I often felt that I wasn't very privy to their inner workings, which is what I would have wanted. I did like Orion's character and liked that they were close to one another.


Basically, you have to go through way too many frogs before finding a happily ever after


The story is in first person narrative from Nova's point of view and its seen as chronological from the time she is eight up until she is nineteen, although there are two extra chapters which serve as an epilogue of sorts. The last few pages should be tinted with gold because I agree with a lot what Nova has learned, but its not focused on Nova growing as a woman or a character though. It read very similarly to Lisa Loomis's Boy in a Band for me because I don't know much of the workings beyond the exterior that Nova chooses to present to others.

Author Information:
(From the kit)

About the Author
Lana Cooper was born and raised in Scranton, PA and currently resides in Philadelphia. A graduate of Temple University, she doesn't usually talk about herself in the first person, but makes an exception when writing an author bio. Cooper has written extensively on a variety of pop culture topics and has been a critic for such sites as PopMatters and Ghouls On Film. She's also written news stories for EDGE Media, a leading nationwide network devoted to LGBT news and issues. Cooper enjoys spending time with her family, reading comic books, books with lots of words and no pictures, and avoiding eye-contact with strangers on public transportation. "Bad Taste In Men" is her first full-length novel.
Her latest book is the humorous nonfiction, Bad Taste in Men.
For More Information


Aside from being a lone wolf and being lied to almost the time back in school, believe it or not I could relate to the story that Nova was telling. I have to wonder if the story is more autobiographical than fictional? Like Nova, I suffered far more heartbreak than I care to admit, and in some cases I was pretty nuts about guys. As a teenager as well, I never thought that I'd be kissed or that I'd be with someone who's going to like the old fashioned me. At one point, just like Nova asked one of her crushes to help her lose the virginity, I desperately asked a guy to be my first kiss, which he refused. (I was seventeen and a half when I made that desperate plea, month later I got my first kiss from a guy I crushed on for a very long time.) I'm not sure if anyone even likes reading these embarrassing moments about me, but yeah, why not a five star rating? As mentioned, I very strongly related to Nova's lack of love life, but I did feel that the story was a tad too long and I also think that fiction or not, there should have been some successes and failures so to speak, instead of only failures. The whole story is similar to banging your head against the wall and not making a dent in it. Also one small thing, I didn't find the foreign Asian references funny, although I think that's what the author was going for. I applaud that the main character actually thinks of expanding her horizons to Asian persuasion, but why does she mix Chinese references and then mentions he spoke Japanese? (Sorry, unable to resist, here's a skit Mad TV's Bobby Lee being "adopted", and no representation of anything Korean by the way.)

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.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

G416 Book Review of Palmetto Moon by Kim Boykin

Name of Book: Palmetto Moon

Author: Kim Boykin

ISBN: 978-0-425-27210-7

Publisher: Berkley

Type of book: Lowcountry, 1947, clean romance, South Carolina, Charleston, courtship, friendship, happy endings

Year it was published: 2014


June, 1947. Charleston is poised to celebrate the biggest wedding in high-society history, the joining of two of the oldest families in the city. Except the bride is nowhere to be found…Unlike the rest of the debs she grew up with, Vada Hadley doesn’t see marrying Justin McLeod as a blessing—she sees it as a life sentence. So when she finds herself one day away from a wedding she doesn’t want, she’s left with no choice but to run away from the future her parents have so carefully planned for her.

In Round O, South Carolina, Vada finds independence in the unexpected friendships she forms at the boarding house where she stays, and a quiet yet fulfilling courtship with the local diner owner, Frank Darling. For the first time in her life, she finally feels like she’s where she’s meant to be. But when her dear friend Darby hunts her down, needing help, Vada will have to confront the life she gave up—and decide where her heart truly belongs.


The characters of Frank Darling and Vada Hadley feel more modern than 1940s; for someone that comes from a wealthy family that's constantly judged by appearances, Vada doesn't really care for her reputation, oddly enough. I'm not saying the character has to be completely neurotic, but more discretion and fear would be nice. Also as well, I wanted to see more of her struggle with living in a small town far from what she knew instead of seeming to fit in the way she did. I also would have wished to get to know more about Reggie and Claire because the relationship is a little too sudden for me.


Life is a journey


The story is written in both first and third person narrative: first person from Vada and third person from other characters including Frank, Claire and towards the end, Reggie. The story itself is definitely quirky and Southern, somewhat similar to Joshilyn Jackson's book, but far more well done and written. Also as well, although the author did attempt to build up conflict, I didn't really sense it which made it a bit difficult to relate to the characters, and I personally would have wanted more character exploration with Reggie and Frank in particular,  I also would have wanted a bit more struggle that Vada experiences when she moves to a small town away from her privileged life. But still, if you're looking for a light hearted and clean romantic read that takes place in 1947, then this is a book not to missed.

Author Information:
(From author kit)

About the Author

Kim Boykin was raised in her South Carolina home with two girly sisters and great parents. She had a happy, boring childhood, which sucks if you’re a writer because you have to create your own crazy. PLUS after you’re published and you’re being interviewed, it’s very appealing when the author actually lived in Crazy Town or somewhere in the general vicinity.

Almost everything she learned about writing, she learned from her grandpa, an oral storyteller, who was a master teacher of pacing and sensory detail. He held court under an old mimosa tree on the family farm, and people used to come from all around to hear him tell stories about growing up in rural Georgia and share his unique take on the world.

As a stay-at-home mom, Kim started writing, grabbing snip-its of time in the car rider line or on the bleachers at swim practice. After her kids left the nest, she started submitting her work, sold her first novel at 53, and has been writing like crazy ever since.

Thanks to the lessons she learned under that mimosa tree, her books are well reviewed and, according to RT Book Reviews, feel like they’re being told across a kitchen table. She is the author of The Wisdom of Hair from Berkley, Steal Me, Cowboy and Sweet Home Carolina from Tule, and Palmetto Moon, also from Berkley 8/5/14. While her heart is always in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, she lives in Charlotte and has a heart for hairstylist, librarians, and book junkies like herself.
For More Information


There are elements of the book that I liked such as the rich southern historical details, the memorable and quirky secondary characters and how the story itself feels very 1940s. I also liked the wealthy girl poor male dynamic as well and found the romance between Vada and Frank to be sweet. What I didn't like, however, is that the characters feel more modern than 1940s, the handling of Claire's subplot, although I do understand why and so forth, but still, there was something about the conclusion that didn't make me feel comfortable with the pairing. Also, I think I would have wanted more clear incidents where Vada and Frank really fell for one another because I feel I didn't get that in the story.

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.)

Palmetto Moon by Kim Boykin to come later

The book tour for Palmetto Moon by Kim Boykin will be posted later on today. Thanks for your understanding!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Cover Reveal for Book 3 of Publicist

It's finally here, the long-awaited sequel to The Publicist! CLIMAX by Christina George is the final installment in the series. It comes in two parts:

The Covers

Here is the Bundled set version:

About the Book

Release date: December 15, 2014. You can pre-order now!

Kate Mitchell has never forgiven herself for breaking Nick Lavigne’s heart. Now he’s back and he’s moved on, and it’s affecting Kate’s life more than she’s willing to admit.

Kate Mitchell has everything. She's the head of a crazy successful publishing house, engaged to the traffic-stopping sexy Mac Ellis and she's about to sign one of the biggest authors of her career.

And that's when everything falls apart.

Everything is perfect…until it’s not.

In a city of 8 million people Kate manages to run into someone she never expected to see again.

Nick is handsome, impossibly kind, every girl’s dream, and Kate’s former fiancé. He’s also the brother of the rising star author she’s trying to sign. Now that Nick’s back in town and has moved on he insists he’s over Kate, but part of him still can’t get past how amazing they were, and his sister won’t let anyone forget how brutally it ended.

When Mac is dealt a life-changing blow, it forces Kate to question every single choice she’s made.

Follow Kate as she embarks on a journey of life and love, navigating through the decisions that will change it all forever.

About the Author

Website  ~  Twitter  ~   Facebook  ~  Goodreads

Christina George has worked in publishing for twenty years (give or take). Here’s what this book isn't. It’s not a slam against publishing (though it is broken) and it’s not a slam against authors (though some of them are crazy). This book is not autobiographical though many of the stories are true. No you won’t know which ones, cause it’s more fun to guess, right? George continues to work in publicity and helps authors because at the end of the day she does love books, she loves publishing, and she loves authors. She hopes you’ll enjoy this romp through Kate’s world as much as she enjoyed creating it.

Let's Revisit the Characters...

Some Fun Stuff!

Head on over to Kate's site and listen to a sample of the audio book version of The Publicist and enter her Amazon gift card giveaway. She also has a playlist of songs for the book!

So which team are you on? Want to know who Kate ends up with?

Want to win a signed copy of all three books? How about a $20 Amazon Gift Card?

And now for the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

G429 Book Review of Rav Hisda's Daughter Enchantress by Maggie Anton

Name of Book: Rav Hisda's Daughter Enchantress

Author: Maggie Anton

ISBN: 978-0-452-29822-4

Publisher: Plume

Part of a Series: Rav Hisda's Daughter Apprentice is the prequel

Type of book: Babylonia, Judaism, 299-359, magic, building of laws, communities, demons, spells, enchanting, family life, secrets, marriage, Jewish holidays, slave owners, Jewish life, Arabian life, christians gaining power, Rome

Year it was published: 2014


Fantastic tales of demons and the Evil Eye, magical incantations, and powerful attractions abound in Enchantress, a novel that weaves together Talmudic lore, ancient Jewish magic, and a timeless love story set in fourth-century Babylonia.  

One of the most powerful practitioners of these mysterious arts is Rav Hisda’s daughter, whose innate awareness allows her to possess the skills men lack. With her husband, Rava--whose arcane knowledge of the secret Torah enables him to create a "man” out of earth and to resurrect another rabbi from death--the two brave an evil sorceress, Ashmedai the Demon King, and even the Angel of Death in their quest to safeguard their people, even while putting their romance at risk.

The author of the acclaimed Rashi’s Daughters series and the award-winning Rav Hisda’s Daughter: Apprentice has conjured literary magic in the land where "abracadabra” originated.  Based on five years of research and populated with characters from the Talmud, Enchantress brings a pivotal era of Jewish and Christian history to life from the perspective of a courageous and passionate woman.


There are a lot of characters, but they are very memorable and individual: Hisdadukh is the main character, a sorceress in training with a lot of power and willingness to learn whatever she can to help her husband succeed: Rava used to be Hisdadukh's husband's rival for many things, and is best described as arrogant in the first book, although he did change in the book and is very encouraging towards Hisdadukh and helping her keep independence. He also has his own studies and secrets throughout the book. He also enjoys debating with Hisdadukh on different laws. Other characters include Abaye, Rava's friend and study partner who suffers from a curse as well as Em the woman who teaches Hisdadukh healing herbs, then her mother who has her own secrets and so forth.


Greatness can be achieved late in life


The story is in first person narrative from Hisdadukh's point of view and picks up immediately from the ending of the first book. In the previous book, I have to admit that I detested Abba because of his arrogance and the fact he is not able to let Hisdadukh live in peace with her first husband, Rami. But as I spent more time with Abba/Rava in this story, I began to actually root for him and Hisdadukh to be together. I also enjoyed learning about Judaism and the issues that were important during the time, whether or not Rabbis were qualified to be experts on Jewish lives. I do wish that the romance angle for Hisdadukh and Rava could be worked on a little more, as well as the family relationships between Rava and his sons, but besides that, really loved the story.

Author Information:
in Los Angeles, CA, The United States



Historical Fiction, Religion & Spirituality, Women & Gender Studies

Talmud study

member since
June 2008

About this author:

Maggie Anton was born Margaret Antonofsky in Los Angeles, California. Raised in a secular, socialist household, she reached adulthood with little knowledge of her Jewish religion. All that changed when David Parkhurst, who was to become her husband, entered her life, and they both discovered Judaism as adults. That was the start of a lifetime of Jewish education, synagogue involvement, and ritual observance. In 2006, Anton retired from being a clinical chemist in Kaiser Permanente's Biochemical Genetics Laboratory to become a fulltime writer.

In the early 1990's, Anton learned about a women's Talmud class taught by Rachel Adler, now a professor at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles. Nearly every Wednesday for five years, she and about six other women met around Rachel's dining room table to study Tractate Berachot.

In 1997, as her children Emily and Ari left the house and her mother was declining with Alzheimer's Disease, Anton sought new interests. She became intrigued with the idea that Rashi, one of the greatest Jewish scholars ever, had no sons, only three daughters. Slowly but surely, she began to research the family and the time in which they lived. Much was written about Rashi, but almost nothing of the daughters, except their names and the names of their husbands. Legend has it that Rashi's daughters were learned in a time when women were traditionally forbidden to study the sacred texts. These forgotten women seemed ripe for rediscovery, and the idea of a book about them was born.


Personally for me, finishing this book is a very bittersweet moment: I didn't want to say goodbye, didn't want for the world where Jews could be where they can be without persecution to disappear into the shadows of history, yet upon finishing the last page, that is what happened. The story was finished in 4th century, shortly before christians gained power and took full advantage of it, and after the story has ended, the Jewish world was broken and crumbled, forced persecutions and proselytism began occurring, moving up to today. In the book itself, I had trouble understanding the Talmudic arguments and ideas, but other than that, the story is very engaging and addictive. And yes, it is necessary to read the previous book before this one. I don't think the book can be considered as a stand-alone.  Also, just like the prequel, the story does come with a glossary, a map and character list of various characters.

I would like to thank the publisher for the chance to read and review this 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.)

G443 Book Review of Certainty by Victor Bevine

Name of Book: Certainty

Author: Victor Bevine

ISBN: 9781477825457

Publisher: Lake Union

Type of book: 1918-1919, sailors, sailing life, sodomy, fairies, homosexuality, charges, priest, Newport Rhode Island, religion and reality, friendships, questionable motives, tricks

Year it was published: 2014


As the First World War draws to a close, the population of Newport, Rhode Island, seems to double overnight when twenty-five thousand rowdy seamen descend on the Naval Training Station. Drinking, prostitution, and other depravities follow the sailors, transforming the upscale town into what many residents ---including young lawyer William Bartlett, whose genteel family has lived in Newport for generations --- consider to be a moral cesspool.

When sailors accuse a beloved local clergyman of sexual impropriety, William feels compelled to fight back. He agrees to defend the minister against the shocking allegations, despite facing dire personal and professional consequences. But when the trial grows increasingly sensational, and when outrageous revelations echo all the way from Newport to the federal government, William must confront more than just the truth: he must confront the very nature of good and evil.

Based on real-life events, Certainty recalls a war-torn era when the line between right and wrong became dangerously blurred.


I've had some difficulty in recalling who's who with the characters, or at least their roles in the story. William is a lawyer who's willing to risk whatever he can for truth and justice and also has a young family. Kent is a beloved priest as well as pillar of the community, some of the sailors I recall are Charley McKinney who is together with Dottie and he wants to protect her, if I'm not mistaken, as well as Barker, Charley's friend, and a naive farm boy who learns a fascinating truth about himself.


Truth comes out eventually


The story is written in third person narrative from a lot of characters' points of view, that of William the attorney, then Charles one of the sailors and so forth. The story does tend to be linear, but I think I would have liked a little more back and forth movement through time. From what I know of 1900s, the research is spot on and well done. I'm also a bit uncertain how the story eventually ties up to the beginning?

Author Information:
(From TLC)

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Purchase Links

Victor Bevine _(c) Amy Thompson Avishai_300dpiAbout Victor Bevine

For over thirty years, Victor Bevine has worked as an actor, screenwriter, audio book narrator, director, and more. A graduate of Yale University, his acting credits include many prestigious roles onstage as well as roles in the film version of A Separate Peace and countless television shows. He has read over one hundred and eighty titles as an audiobook narrator; in 2010, he received an Audiophone Award for his narration of the Pulitzer Prize–winning book The Beak of the Finch. He has written several screenplays, including Certainty, which was chosen for two prestigious writers’ conferences and which served as the basis for his first novel. His thirty-minute short film Desert Cross, which he wrote and directed, won accolades at the Athens International Film Festival. Currently, he serves as CEO of the World Freerunning Parkour Federation (WFPF), of which he is co-founder. He resides in New York City.

Connect with Victor


Its kind of hard for me to pinpoint why I felt neutral about this story. It has the markings of a good novel such as dialogue, an interesting historical event, fleshed out characters, and what might be important in this day and age is homosexuality and how far humanity is trying to move away from the views it has towards it. I liked the second half of the story, but not the first half, and its still a bit difficult in recalling on why the sailors did what they did. Despite the fact its written very well, I would guess that a few things did bother me throughout the story: I liked the background stories but my personal preference would have been sort of a scavenger hunt for them instead of completely devoting entire chapters to them. Also, I don't think I sensed much tension throughout the story. What else I liked is the setting and learning more of history after the Great War.

This is for TLC Book Tour

Victor Bevine’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, October 20th: Time 2 Read
Tuesday, October 21st: Patricia’s Wisdom
Wednesday, October 22nd:  Booksie’s Blog
Thursday, October 23rd: Jorie Loves a Story
Friday, October 24th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Monday, October 27th: Sarah’s Book Shelves
Tuesday, October 28th: Kritter’s Ramblings
Tuesday, October 28th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Wednesday, October 29th: Bell, Book & Candle
Thursday, October 30th:  Joyfully Retired
Monday, November 3rd: Books a la Mode - guest post
Tuesday, November 4th: The Book Binder’s Daughter
Wednesday, November 5th: Readers’ Oasis
Thursday, November 6th: Back Porchervations
Monday, November 10th: ebookclassics
Tuesday, November 11th: Nightly Reading
Wednesday, November 12th: BookNAround
Thursday, November 13th: Books on the Table
Monday, November 17th: Life is Story
Friday, November 21st:: FictionZeal
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.)

Monday, October 27, 2014

G458 Book Review of Married One Night by Amber Leigh Williams

Name of Book: Married One Night

Author: Amber Leigh Williams

ISBN: 978-0-373-60878-2

Publisher: Harlequin

Type of book: one night marriages, romance, building relationship, fear of commitment, adult, love story, Alabama, friendships, changing minds, bets

Year it was published: 2014


What happened in Vegas…followed her home!

Olivia Lewis is not the marrying type. So when a wild weekend in Vegas leaves her with a surprise husband, she's happy to sign anything to erase her mistake—even if that mistake is handsome, charming and comes with an English accent. Fortunately, her groom has other plans.

Bestselling author Gerald Leighton knows he can make his new bride fall in love with him—he just needs time. In exchange for a quickie divorce, Olivia grudgingly gives him a few weeks to attempt to woo her. And whether Olivia likes it or not, Gerald plans on using every second to win her heart!

For More Information

Purchase at AMAZON


The main characters include Olivia Lewis who is looking after her family's bar and is scared of commitment. (I would guess she's a bit similar to Samantha from Sex and the City?) She reminds me of a cactus and has little to no desire for a permanent relationship. Gerald Leighton is a British man who is seeking commitment and will do whatever he can to try to break into Olivia's shell. He's romantic, cares for animals, and a talented writer. (I really liked the British slang in the story.) Olivia's friends such as Adrien and Briar also played in the story, Adrien a close friend with a small child and is also as sour as Olivia when it comes to relationships; Briar is happily married and was probably a heroine of the previous novel.


Sometimes things that are wrong can be right


The story is in third person narrative from both Gerald and Olivia, although once in a while Olivia's friends also play a role in the story. I also liked the fact that a dog is included in the story. What does make the story memorable for me is exploration of Gerald's personality, and I liked how consistent he stayed along with the dog and Olivia's friends. I also enjoyed when Olivia's parents showed up and wished that more space would have been devoted to them. What didn't make the story memorable is there seemed to be lack of tension for me and for some odd reason I had a very difficult time understanding or sympathizing with Olivia. Also as well, I don't feel that Gerald really broke through her wall, and I wish that more pages would have been devoted to her change of heart.

Author Information:
(From author's kit)

About the Author

Amber Leigh Williams lives on the Gulf Coast. A southern girl at heart, she loves beach days, the smell of real books, relaxing at her family’s lakehouse, and spending time with her husband, Jacob, and their sweet, blue-eyed boy. When she’s not running after her young son and three, large dogs, she can usually be found reading a good romance or cooking up a new dish in her kitchen. She is represented by Joyce Holland of the D4EO Literary Agency.

Her latest book is the contemporary romance, Married One Night.
For More Information


To be honest, my rating for the book is 3.5, but since I tend to round up the numbers, I will be giving it four stars. I think I understand what the author was trying to go for when I read it, and I did appreciate the fact that its a woman that is having commitment issues while a man just wants to commit, and there is a big exploration of Olivia's thoughts and feelings during the time Gerald tries to woo her, which I liked. Very often throughout the book, I often felt like Gerald, trying to knock over the wall in Olivia's heart and to just help her see the treasure in front of her. Yes, I couldn't really relate to Olivia. I understand that the story is super romance category, which means more focus is on building a relationship rather than "bam bam thank you ma'am" but I have to admit that there seemed to be some sort of lack of tension in the story, and the issues seemed to repeat over and over, at least from Olivia's point of view. If Gerald had problems, they were paid little attention and only merited the barest mention.

This is for Pump Up Your 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.)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Book Spotlight for Highland Hunger by Eliza Knight

03_Highland Hunger Complete Set Cover
Publication Date: September 18, 2014
Knight Media, LLC.
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Pages: 278

Genre: Historical Romance

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An unclaimed land in the Scottish isles is ruled by the male and female victors in a series of war games every five years. Named Chief and Lady of the land, they rule the vast holding, and protect the people by divine right, until the next game begins.

After her brother's death Ceana is named laird. The only way for her clan to survive the ravages of the Highlands is to join in the war games. Bastard son of a powerful earl, Macrath is placed in the games by his vengeful stepmother. He must survive for the ultimate retribution.

Ceana can't afford to like the formidable, captivating, Highlander who seems to be following her, and yet she can't seem to walk away. Macrath wants nothing more than to protect the enchanting warrior lass, but doing so may get in the way of his need for revenge. What starts out as a race to survive turns into passion to endure together.

May the gods be forever in their favor...

Buy the Book

Amazon US
Amazon UK

About the AuthorEliza Knight

E. Knight is a member of the Historical Novel Society, Romance Writers of America and several RWA affiliate writing chapters: Hearts Through History, Celtic Hearts, Maryland Romance Writers and Washington Romance Writers. Growing up playing in castle ruins and traipsing the halls of Versailles when visiting her grandparents during the summer, instilled in a love of history and royals at an early age. Feeding her love of history, she created the popular historical blog, History Undressed ( Under the pseudonym Eliza Knight, she is a bestselling, award-winning, multi-published author of historical and erotic romance.

For more information please visit E. Knight’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Highland Hunger Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 20
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, October 21
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, October 22
Interview at Romance Book Junkies

Thursday, October 23
Guest Post at Back Porchervations

Monday, October 27
Interview at Room with Books

Tuesday, October 28
Spotlight at Svetlana's Reads and Views

Wednesday, October 29
Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair

Friday, October 31
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Saturday, November 1
Review at Book Nerd

Monday, November 3
Review at Historical Romance Lover

Tuesday, November 4
Review at Book Marks the Spot

Wednesday, November 5
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book!
Guest Post at Boom Baby Reviews

Thursday, November 6
Guest Post at SOS Aloha

Friday, November 7
Review at Journey with Books
Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Book Spotlight for Secrets of Casanova

Please join author Greg Michaels as he tours with HF Virtual Book Tours for The Secrets of Casanova, from October 13-24.

02_The Secrets of Casanova 

Publication Date: October 21, 2013 | Booktrope Editions | Formats: eBook Paperback; 334p

Genre: Historical Fiction

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2014 Nancy Pearl Award Winner for Fiction.

Loosely based on the life of Jacques Casanova, The Secrets of Casanova is a rich, lush novel of love, sex, family, ambition, intrigue, and adventure. Set in Paris of 1755, Casanova's luck is fading and his past is shoving up against his present with potentially disastrous consequences. What price must he pay to uncover a treasure of inestimable value? What hearts must he break along the way? Casanova's will and destiny collide again and again in this riveting historical fiction that brings to light a man of great passion and not a few secrets.

Praise for The Secrets of Casanova

“A Shakespearean actor with a flair for the dramatic and a superb ear for dialogue, Michaels's debut novel puts a brilliantly original spin on an historical figure whose very name is a cliché. This Casanova must wrestle not only with falling hopelessly and passionately in love, but embarking on a mysterious quest that is as much a spiritual awakening as a swashbuckling adventure. The Secrets of Casanova is so erotic and so sensitively written, I found it difficult to believe its author was a man.” -Robin Maxwell, national best-selling author of The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn

Buy the Book

Barnes & Noble

About the Author

03_Greg MichaelsAfter receiving his B.A. in anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin, a chance experience thrust Greg into a career as a professional actor and fight director. To date he's acted in over fifty theater productions, more than forty television shows, and choreographed dozens of swordfights for stage and screen. In THE SECRETS OF CASANOVA, Greg again proves his skill at telling a theatrical story. He lives with his wife, two sons, and Andy the hamster.

For more information please visit Greg Michaels's website. Like The Secrets of Casanova Facebook Page. Follow Greg Michaels on Twitter.

The Secrets of Casanova Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 13
Review at Bookish

Tuesday, October 14
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Review at With Her Nose Stick in a Book
Spotlight & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Wednesday, October 15
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Obsession

Thursday, October 16
Review & Interview at Carpe Librum
Spotlight at Historical Tapestry

Friday, October 17
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Monday, October 20
Review at A Book Geek
Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, October 21
Review at A Bibliotaph's Reviews
Spotlight & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, October 22
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Review at Good Friends, Good Books and a Sleepy Conscience
Guest Post at Mina's Bookshelf

Thursday, October 23
Review at Beth's Book Reviews
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Friday, October 24
Review at Book Nerd
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

G464 Book Review of Man v. Nature by Diane Cook

General Information:

Name of Book: Man V Nature

ISBN: 978-0-06-233310-0

Publisher: Harper Collins

Year it was published: 2014


A refreshingly imaginative, daring debut collection of stories which illuminates with audacious wit the complexity of human behavior, as seen through the lens of the natural world

Told with perfect rhythm and unyielding brutality, these stories expose unsuspecting men and women to the realities of nature, the primal instincts of man, and the dark humor and heartbreak of our struggle to not only thrive, but survive. In “Girl on Girl,” a high school freshman goes to disturbing lengths to help an old friend. An insatiable temptress pursues the one man she can’t have in “Meteorologist Dave Santana.” And in the title story, a long fraught friendship comes undone when three buddies get impossibly lost on a lake it is impossible to get lost on. In Diane Cook’s perilous worlds, the quotidian surface conceals an unexpected surreality that illuminates different facets of our curious, troubling, and bewildering behavior.

Other stories explore situations pulled directly from the wild, imposing on human lives the danger, tension, and precariousness of the natural world: a pack of not-needed boys take refuge in a murky forest and compete against each other for their next meal; an alpha male is pursued through city streets by murderous rivals and desirous women; helpless newborns are snatched by a man who stalks them from their suburban yards. Through these characters Cook asks: What is at the root of our most heartless, selfish impulses? Why are people drawn together in such messy, complicated, needful ways? When the unexpected intrudes upon the routine, what do we discover about ourselves?

As entertaining as it is dangerous, this accomplished collection explores the boundary between the wild and the civilized, where nature acts as a catalyst for human drama and lays bare our vulnerabilities, fears, and desires.
Overall theme:

I'm not sure what the overall connection was, except that relationships between people are messy and can be creepy and uncertain. For me personally it seemed like a female version of science fiction. In someways too, there is comparison between humans and the animal world.

Author: Diane Cook

About the Author:
(From TLC)

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 Purchase Links

Diane CookAbout Diane Cook

Diane Cook’s fiction has been published in Harper’s MagazineGrantaTin House,ZoetropeOne StoryGuernica, and elsewhere. Her nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times Magazine and on This American Life, where she worked as a radio producer for six years. She earned an MFA from Columbia University, where she was a Teaching Fellow. She lives in Oakland, California.
Follow Diane on Twitter.

1. Moving On

Short Summary:

In first person narrative, a woman gets widowed and has to move inside a special house where she has to improve herself before someone can choose her. While she does that, she makes friends with other widows and even crushes a little on a man on a different side.

2. The Way the End of Days Should Be

Short Summary:

In first person narrative, a wealthy man attempts to survive on his own, eventually taking on someone who becomes a close friend as well as guard, never realizing the betrayal that might be lurking within the chosen man's soul.

3. Somebody's Baby

Short Summary:

A young woman, Linda gives birth to a daughter that gets kidnapped. She later on learns that hte man has stolen children from other women and decides to do something about it.

4. Girl on Girl

Short Summary:

In first person narrative, a young teenager recalls the story of how she spots her former friend Marni trying to get thin by using violence. Marni turns on her and then blackmails her to continue the treatment.

5. Man V. Nature

Short Summary:

Three best friends by names of Phil, Dan and Ross get trapped either on the sea or on the lake with little to no hope of rescue where things about Phil become revealed.

6. Marrying Up

Short Summary:

In first person narrative, a woman begins to describe her two marriages in apocalyptic times, eventually settling down on the third marriage with a man whose baby she carries and gives birth to, learning valuable lessons along the way.

7. It's Coming

Short Summary:

This is told in second person narrative, often using "we", about a group of executives trying to escape something that's trying to kill them, and learning about love along the way.

8. Meteorologist Dave Santana

Short Summary:

Janet has a huge obsession with a man named Dave Santana who happens to be a meteorologist, and who also happens to be her neighbor. Throughout their "relationship", Janet learns some unpleasant things about him and must make a decision as to what to do.

9. Flotsam

Short Summary:

A young woman named Lydia begins to discover mysterious baby clothes while doing laundry and must then decide what to do with the clothes.

10. A Wanted Man

Short Summary:

"Our Man" is a man who seeks soul-mate only to be thwarted by both women and his reputation for producing great children.

11. The Mast Year

Short Summary:

Jane has recently went through good luck in terms of promotion and an engagement with a man when mysterious people began to show up and try to take advantage of her; she begins to learn some very difficult lessons.

12. The Not-Needed Forest

Short Summary:

A group of boys are destined to die through the chute when a miracle occurs and they find a forest where they stay happy and content until winter time, then they need to make some very difficult decisions about what to do. Told in first person narrative.

Personal Opinion:

I enjoyed reading these stories a great deal: they're a pleasant mixture of science fiction/fantasy but at the same time they felt modern and very accessible. Personally I loved all the stories, although the ones that really stood out are Moving On, A Wanted Man, The Mast Year and The Not-Needed Forest. What is also unique for this particular collection is that the stories feel complete instead of something that should be continued, or the reader can continue the storyline in their minds.

This is for TLC Book Tour

Diane’s Tour Stops

Wednesday, October 15th: Book Hooked Blog
Thursday, October 16th: The Book Binder’s Daughter
Monday, October 20th: The Well-Read Redhead
Tuesday, October 21st: BoundbyWords
Wednesday, October 22nd: A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall
Thursday, October 23rd: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Tuesday, October 28th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, October 29th: Shelf Notes
Thursday, October 30th: Luxury Reading
Monday, November 3rd: Patricia’s Wisdom
Tuesday, November 4th: Bibliosue
Wednesday, November 5th: Buried in Print
Thursday, November 6th: Inner Workings of the Female Mind
Friday, November 7th: guiltless reading
Monday, November 10th: A Bookish Way of Life
Tuesday, November 11th: missris
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.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

G456 Mastering Negative Impulsive Thoughts Secrets for a longer, happier life! A powerful new philosophy that eradicates negative thinking to achieve ultimate health, wealth and happiness

Title of the book:  Mastering Negative Impulsive Thoughts Secrets for a longer, happier life! A powerful new philosophy that eradicates negative thinking to achieve ultimate health, wealth and happiness

Author:  Dr John and Elizabeth McIntosh

Publisher: GP Mx Solutions

Publishing Date: 2014

ISBN: 978-0-9924290-0-3


Negative Thoughts occur impulsively in every single one of us. They just pop up in our heads as part of our internal dialogue or mind chatter. How you deal with your Negative Impulsive Thoughts (NITs) will have huge effects on your physical health, success in life and emotional happiness – so your health, wealth and happiness are at stake!

Everyone has experienced thoughts of self-doubt, self-criticism and lack of self-confidence. These NITs can also keep you awake at night, create unnecessary guilt, regret or just make you feel bad in general. Other people also generate negative thoughts and comments that can dramatically impact your emotional state. Therefore, controlling NITs in yourself and from others is critical to create your future happiness and maximize your full potential.

This revolutionary new philosophy will transform every area of your life – personal, family, children, relationships, work, business and sport. You will be empowered and uplifted and be in the driver’s seat on your journey to your ultimate successful life. Everyone around you will benefit as you will be an inspiration and they will learn from you these simple yet powerful techniques.

The principles of positive thinking have been well recognised for many years. However, this is the first time that negative thoughts have been simply defined and encapsulated. Mastering Negative Impulsive Thoughts also provides a unique three-question process to recognise negative thoughts, plus an easy to follow three-step strategy for replacing NITS with positive alternatives.

Just like the head lice (“nits”) that their name evokes, NITs need to be repeatedly treated and controlled. This book contains effective tools and techniques to filter out negative thoughts, stop them in their tracks, change them into positive alternatives and prevent the spread of NITs to other people. This book lifts the veil of ignorance about negative thoughts, and once aware of them, you will be amazed at their plague-like nature.

The techniques are excellent for personal development and inner contentment. It is also highly effective in managing children through their difficult times, as the challenging situations are addressed positively while maintaining a “class act”. Intimate relationships will blossom as each person gives and receives freely and with abundance, resulting in the ultimate relationship. In business, these NIT-free techniques provide solutions for interpersonal conflict and workplace crises, resulting in dramatic improvement in workplace atmosphere and productivity overall.

This concept was born out of our many years of our professional experience as a medical doctor and health consultant. It became clear to us that negative thoughts are like an unrecognised epidemic that is entrenched in most people’s thinking and they are often unaware of it. Unfortunately, this often has crippling results in their physical, psychological and financial achievements in their lives.

Research shows that up to 70% of visits to your family doctor arise out of negative thoughts and attitudes. Plus, studies prove that you will live nine years longer if you have a positive outlook on life. It has also been shown that this optimistic approach to life results in less heart attacks, strokes, cancers and common colds! Therefore, this is not a nebulous and fluffy subject; it is critically important for the health and wellbeing of every single one of us.

As you read this book, you will have many “Ah-hah!” moments when you are hit with new realisations and moments of enlightenment. The implications are endless, the possibilities are incredible, and happily there are solutions to solve the NITs epidemic and achieve a happier and healthier world. It all starts with YOU.

Prepare to be amazed – you have been warned!

Other Works:

I don't think the authors wrote any other books besides this one, yet.

Authors' Backgrounds:
(From the author kit)
About the Authors

Doctor H. John McIntosh is known as the “Medical Guru” through his columns and media presence.  He was educated as a medical doctor in Scotland. He received a general medical degree from Dundee University Medical School in 1984 and moved to Australia in 1993. He received his Specialist Physician qualification in 1988 from the Royal College of Physicians (UK) and specialist Family Physician qualifications in 1990 from the Royal College of General Practitioners. Other certifications include: Approved Trainer of medical students, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners; James Cook University Medical School, Central Queensland University; Trainer of Cognitive Institute programs, Cognitive Institute of Australia; Approved Trainer of sports medicine first aid courses, Sports Medicine, Australia; and Approved Allergan Cosmetic Injector training and trainer of injectors (doctors and nurses). Dr. McIntosh was the driving force in the building of the Mackay GP Superclinic. In 2013, his medical clinics were awarded the national AGPAL Community Engagement Award for outstanding level of commitment and involvement of the community and won a finalist award in the 2014 Telstra Australian Business Awards.

Rev. Elizabeth McIntosh is known as the “Positivity Expert” from her life’s work and
research in the field. She trained as a life and wellness coach; certified personal fitness trainer under Ken Ware, Mr. Universe of 1994; counselor, hypnotherapist, meditation and yoga teacher; and spa trainer. She is a Reiki master Levels 1, 2 and 3, and a Reiki Master Trainer. She holds a BMSc in Metaphysics from the University of Sedona and the University of Metaphysics, and is an ordained minister through the University of Metaphysics. She runs retreats at her resort in Bali and has produced a series of CDs on health, relaxation, and success, and a TV documentary series, as well as being a magazine columnist and radio talkback presenter.

Their latest book is the nonfiction/self-help, Mastering Negative Impulsive Thoughts.

Visit the authors’ website at  


"Negative Thoughts occure impulsively in every single one of us. They just pop up in our heads as part of our internal dialogue or mind chatter. How you deal with your Negative Impulsive Thoughts (NITs) will have huge effects on your physical health, success in life and emotional happiness-so your health, wealth and happiness are at stake!" (9)

Problems addressed:

While everyone seems to suffer from Negative Impulsive Thoughts (NITs), they are far more bigger and more pervasive than people think they are. How do people either deal or get rid of them? The book will give these solutions to the problems.

Summary of Content:

Basically, if you get rid of all the negative thoughts and opinions then good things will start happening, although its easier said than done.


"This revolutionary new philosophy will transform every area of your life-personal, family, children, relationships, work, business and sport. You will be empowered and uplifted and be in the driver's seat on your journey to your ultimate successful life. Everyone around you will benefit as you will be an inspiration and they will learn from you these simple yet powerful techniques." (9)

Main Points:

*What are Negative Impulsive Thoughts?
*How do you create great life habits?
*Negative Impulsive Thoughts in intimate relationships and love
*Negative Impulsive Thoughts in religion
*What is the NITs-free road to success and happiness?

Why Its Interesting and informative:

In this day and age of thinking positive and so forth, its interesting to see how NITs affect everyone from adult to child to baby and so forth. I am a skeptic by nature though, thus its a little hard for me to buy into the book.

Supports thesis:

Although I hadn't tried out tips, from reading the book, the authors do cover a lot of imaginable topics and so forth.

Issues book raises:

"Deep down, it is peace and happiness that everyone wants, and it all starts with you! You are the key- the "man in the mirror," It all starts with you and spreads with the incomprehensible ripple effect outwards around the world and beyond! So what happens next? We all live happily ever after!" (273)

Ideas in book vs larger ideas:

What I feel that the authors are saying is that not many people realize on how far and wide negative has spread, affecting everyone, and in this book they try to point that out as well as give tips and advice on how to battle it out.


While I agree with some things, I do find a number of things a little uncomfortable. One of the things I find uncomfortable is that there is mention of law of attraction and that many people are healing themselves through wish and desire...umm why not mention specific studies of people who healed themselves with positive thoughts without any medical interference? I also disagreed with the fact that whatever happened to people, they asked for it.


For certain things sources were used, but most of the book didn't use sources which became a bit problematic for me because what I was taught is to always back up your claims and sources, and they didn't seem to do it.


I have to admit that I find it an interesting read, but as mentioned before, I'm not comfortable with some elements of the book and I'm really uncomfortable with the book cover which put me in mind of infomercial on TV.

For More Information

  • Mastering Negative Impulse Thoughts is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

This is for Pump Up Your 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.)
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