Saturday, November 29, 2014

Death Comes to London Book Spotlight

02_Death Comes to LondonPublication Date: November 25, 2014
Kensington Books
Formats: eBook, Trade Paperback
Pages: 272

Series: Kurland St. Mary Mystery, Book Two
Genre: Historical Mystery

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A season in London promises a welcome change of pace for two friends from the village of Kurland St. Mary—until murder makes a debut…

With the reluctant blessings of their father, the rector of Kurland St. Mary, Lucy Harrington and her sister Anna leave home for a social season in London. At the same time, Lucy’s special friend Major Robert Kurland is summoned to the city to accept a baronetcy for his wartime heroism.

Amidst the dizzying whirl of balls and formal dinners, the focus shifts from mixing and matchmaking to murder when the dowager Countess of Broughton, the mother of an old army friend of Robert, drops dead. When it’s revealed she’s been poisoned, Robert’s former betrothed, Miss Chingford, is accused, and she in turn points a finger at Anna. To protect her sister, Lucy enlists Robert’s aid in drawing out the true culprit.

But with suspects ranging from resentful rivals and embittered family members to the toast of the ton, it will take all their sleuthing skills to unmask the poisoner before more trouble is stirred up…

Praise for the Kurland St. Mary Mystery Series

“Lloyd’s delightful debut…Readers will hope that death returns soon to Kurland St. Mary.” – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

“A skillfully crafted mystery that combines a wounded war hero, an inquisitive rector’s daughter and a quaint peaceful village with some sinister secrets…a compelling picture of a young woman trying to find the courage to stand up for herself." – RT Book Reviews, 4.5 Stars, TOP PICK!

“A Regency Rear Window whose chair-bound hero and the woman who civilizes him generate sparks worthy of Darcy and Elizabeth. – Kirkus Reviews

Buy the Book

Amazon (Kindle)
Amazon (Paperback)
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository

About the Author03_Catherine Llyod Author

Catherine Lloyd grew up in London, England in the middle of a large family of girls. She quickly decided her imagination was a wonderful thing and was often in trouble for making stuff up. She finally worked out she could make a career out of this when she moved to the USA with her husband and four children and began writing fiction. With a background in historical research and a love of old-fashioned mysteries, she couldn't resist the opportunity to wonder what a young Regency Miss Marple might be like, and how she would deal with a far from pleasant hero of the Napoleonic wars.

For more information please visit Catherine Lloyd's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Death Comes to London Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, November 24
Review & Giveaway at Girl Lost in a Book

Tuesday, November 25
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Wednesday, November 26
Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Thursday, November 27
Guest Post at Jorie Loves a Story
Guest Post at Boom Baby Reviews

Friday, November 28
Spotlight & Excerpt at Austenprose

Saturday, November 29
Spotlight at Svetlana's Reads and Views

Monday, December 1
Review at Book Nerd
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Guest Post at Madame Gilflurt

Tuesday, December 2
Review & Giveaway at Mina's Bookshelf

Wednesday, December 3
Review at Editing Pen
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Spotlight & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection

Thursday, December 4
Review & Guest Post at Latte' Da!

Friday, December 5
Review at Becky on Books

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Late Review of Us by David Nicholls

Hey everyone,
Very sorry, but review for Us by David Nicholls might be posted late :( Very recently I have to attend to some very important matters which means less reading time for me. Thanks for understanding!

Friday, November 21, 2014

G484 Book Review of Christmas at Tiffany's by Karen Swan

Name of Book: christmas at Tiffany's

Author: Karen Snow

ISBN: 978-0-06-236410-4

Publisher: William Morrow

Type of book: travel, self discovery, New York, London, Paris, friendships between women, modeling, cooking, elegance, cultures, dating, trauma, 2000s, language of flowers

Year it was published: 2011


What do you do when the man you pledged your life to breaks your heart and shatters your dreams? You pack your bags and travel the big, wide world to find your destiny--and your true love . . .

Ten years ago, a young and naive Cassie married her first serious boyfriend, believing he would be with her forever. Now her marriage is in tatters and Cassie has no career or home of her own. Though she feels betrayed and confused, Cassie isn't giving up. She's going to take control of her life. But first she has to find out where she belongs . . . and who she wants to be.

Over the course of one year, Cassie leaves her sheltered life in rural Scotland to stay with her best friends living in the most glamorous cities in the world: New York, Paris, and London. Exchanging comfort food and mousy hair for a low-carb diet and a gorgeous new look, Cassie tries each city on for size as she searches for the life she's meant to have . . . and the man she's meant to love.


Unfortunately the story is not character driven, as odd as it seems, and its more compare and contrast between the three cities rather than what and why drives the characters to do what they did.The main characters are Cassie who is best described as blank slate throughout the process. She has been married to a manipulative man and discovered some very ugly truths about his secrets. She is forgiving, loyal and kind to her friends. One of her longings has always been to have a child. Kelly is a New York girl who is obsessed with working out, running out, dieting and partying. She also has her own fashion company of sorts? Anouk is an elegant Parisian woman who has very unconventional viewpoints as well as terrible secrets of her own. I have to admit that she is the most intriguing character and I would have liked to see more of her transformation in the book rather than that of Cassie's. Anouk has her own jewelry business. Suzy is closest to Cassie and she lives in London and has a younger brother named Henry. She is very kind and giving and loves to create happily ever afters for people. To modern day standards, Suzy is the most realistic. While the men did play roles, aside from Henry, none had any memorable scenes and they were designed to be caricatures, at least for me, instead of full fledged characters.


People are adaptable


The story is in third person narrative from Cassie's point of view, although once in a while other characters do speak, but its not very often. The story is also divided into three parts, and it wasn't a boring or an exhausting read at all. The two hefty sections focus on life in New York and Paris, while London barely gets any mention, much to mine disappointment. The story is both safe and predictable, although I do promise that its a cut above an average women's literature book. More focus is on friendships between the women rather than relationships as well as different beauty rituals and thoughts that were used in New York and Paris which I've found pretty fascinating.

Author Information:
(From TLC)

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 Purchase Links

Karen SwanAbout Karen Swan

Karen Swan began her career in fashion journalism before giving it all up to raise her three children and an ADHD puppy, and to pursue her ambition of becoming a writer. She lives in the forest in Sussex, writing her books in a treehouse overlooking the Downs. Her first novel, Players, was published in 2010, followed by Prima Donna andChristmas at Tiffany’s in 2011.


I have to say that the summary and the story seem to disguise the fact that the story is far more deeper than one expects: I enjoyed reading the book a great deal, especially learning the difference in cultures between that of New York and Paris and how Cassie seems to be attempting to take best from both of them away. The book also focuses a lot on women's friendships and for me was an easy and engaging read, even at more than 500 pages! I did have some minor problems with the book, the first that certain things weren't explained, and that chemistry wasn't really built up between the couples, at least secondary couples as I hoped, and towards the end I was disappointed that I didn't get to know London as well as I got to know Paris and New York.

This is for TLC Book Tour

Karen’s Tour Stops

Wednesday, October 29th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Friday, October 31st: Seaside Book Nook
Monday, November 3rd: Words by Webb
Wednesday, November 5th: Becca Rowan
Tuesday, November 11th: Tina Says …
Thursday, November 13th: A Chick Who Reads
Monday, November 17th: A Bookish Way of Life
Wednesday, November 19th: My Bookshelf
Thursday, November 20th: Books in the Burbs
Thursday, November 20th: For the Love of Words
Friday, November 21st: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Wednesday, November 26th: Spices Latte Reads

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.)

Late Review for Christmas at Tiffany's

My review for Christmas at Tiffany's will be a little late today. Thanks for understanding!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

G496 Book Review of The Vineyard by Michael Hurley

Name of Book: The Vineyard

Author: Michael C Hurley

ISBN: 978-0-9761275-6-7

Publisher: Ragbagger Press

Type of book: Vineyard, Martha's Vineyard, north, old money, family, duty, wealth, culture, friendship, betrayal, 2000s, choices, freedom, mild religion

Year it was published: 2014


From Michael Hurley, winner of the Chanticleer Reviews Grand Prize for his debut novel, THE PRODIGAL, comes a complex and ambitious tale of old money, young passion, and ancient mystery in a classic New England seaside town.

Dory Delano, Charlotte Harris, and Turner Graham have been drifting through life since their days as roommates at Smith College, ten years ago. Dory is resisting taking the reins of her family’s legacy and fortune even as she relishes the fabulous lifestyle it affords her in the fashionable seaside resort of Martha’s Vineyard. She invites her old friends to join her for a summer on the Vineyard in hopes of rediscovering the innocence of old days and healing new wounds. But hidden in their midst and unknown to all but a few, a reclusive—some say dangerous—fisherman wanders alone, fueling wild speculation about his purpose and his past. None of these women can imagine the events their encounter with the fisherman will set in motion, the shadow he will cast over their destinies, or the transformation that awaits the world they know.


The main characters include Charlotte, Dory and Turner. Personality wise, I don't know much about Charlotte and Dory, except that Charlotte's daughter has passed away recently and she blames herself that her daughter wasn't given a Catholic funeral. Dory desires to run away from the life forced upon her and to be more of a free woman, while Turner is more sexually liberated as well as very mouthy. In some cases the characters seemed more masculine than feminine. While there are some male characters such as the mysterious fisherman as well as Tripp and Smoke, besides Fisherman, none really let me get to know their innards.


Have no fear


The story is in third person narrative primarily from Turner, Charlotte and Dory's points of views. I have to admit that a number of things were suspension of belief for me: for example if they were close friends, how come Dory's mother had no idea who they were? Also, the characters's thoughts seemed to overlap a lot which made it hard to understand whom speaking to whom. (One minute Dory would be thinking something then the story moved on to Turner.) I also feel that the culture the author tried to bring to life wasn't very successful for me because it was difficult for me to get it and to understand it. And yes, I love long books where I get to learn about thoughts and actions of characters from different backgrounds. (I've read Gone with the Wind numerous times, Tale of Genji twice!)

Author Information:
(From TLC)

Purchase Links

Michael HurleyAbout Michael Hurley

Michael Hurley and his wife Susan live near Charleston, South Carolina. Born and raised in Baltimore, Michael holds a degree in English from the University of Maryland and law from St. Louis University.
The Prodigal, Michael’s debut novel from Ragbagger Press, received the Somerset Prize for mainstream fiction and numerous accolades in the trade press, including Publishers Weekly, Kirkus ReviewsForeWord ReviewsBookTribChanticleer Reviews, andIndieReader. It is currently in development for a feature film by producer Diane Sillan Isaacs. Michael’s second novel, The Vineyard, is due to be released by Ragbagger Press in December 2014.
Michael’s first book, Letters from the Woods, is a collection of wilderness-themed essays published by Ragbagger Press in 2005. It was shortlisted for Book of the Year byForeWord magazine. In 2009, Michael embarked on a two-year, 2,200 mile solo sailing voyage that ended with the loss of his 32-foot sloop, the Gypsy Moon, in the Windward Passage between Cuba and Haiti in 2012. That voyage and the experiences that inspired him to set sail became the subject of his memoir, Once Upon A Gypsy Moon, published in 2013 by Hachette Book Group.
When he is not writing, Michael enjoys reading and relaxing with Susan on the porch of their rambling, one-hundred-year-old house. His fondest pastimes are ocean sailing, playing piano and classical guitar, cooking, and keeping up with an energetic Irish terrier, Frodo Baggins.
Find out more about Michael at his website and connect with him on Facebook.


I'm not sure if I can articulate why I wasn't fond of the book: while it was somewhat religious in tone, it definitely didn't shove it down my throat, and it seemed realistic in handling different responses to faith, which I liked. I think my main problems with the story is that the characters seemed a bit hard to relate, at least for me, and few times I didn't think their actions were like women's actions. I like that they were strong women characters, but I felt discomfort that for someone who comes from old money, their behavior didn't match that of old money. I read quite a few books about characters from wealthy background and for them, image and presentation was everything. My friend Jennifer who also experienced the elite and wealthy life provided the background for the books I read, mentioning how little has changed. I think I expected that from the characters, but it didn't happen. ( If they were more reserved but had modern tendencies I would have been okay with that.) I also liked that some of the things about Catholic faith  were explained for those who aren't Catholics, and its odd that the book seems to be a bit of a reversal for Angel of Losses by Stephanie Feldman.

This is for TLC Book Tour

Michael’s Tour Stops

Monday, November 3rd: Back Porchervations
Tuesday, November 4th: missris
Wednesday, November 5th: The Book Wheel
Thursday, November 6th: The many thoughts of a reader
Friday, November 7th: Book Journey
Monday, November 10th: Kritters Ramblings
Wednesday, November 12th: Book Loving Hippo
Wednesday, November 12th: Jorie Loves a Story
Thursday, November 13th: Lisa’s Yarns
Friday, November 14th: Open Book Society
Monday, November 17th: Another Clean Slate
Tuesday, November 18th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Wednesday, November 19th: Read a Latte
Friday, November 21st: Read-Love-Blog
Monday, November 24th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Monday, November 24th: Book, Books Everywhere!
Tuesday, November 25th: Priscilla and Her Books
Wednesday, November 26th: A Chick Who Reads
Friday, November 28th: Fuelled by Fiction
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, November 14, 2014

Late Review for Seldom Come By

My apologies but the review for Seldom Come By will be a little late, hopefully by tomorrow evening, but if not, I'll try to make it on Saturday or Sunday. Thank you for your patience and understanding! 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

G474 One Woman's extraordinary journey from the depths of despair to The Temple of All Knowing; A near death experience chronicles by Lee Papa

Title: One Woman's extraordinary journey from the depths of despair to The Temple of All Knowing; A near death experience chronicles

Author: Lee Papa

First copyright date: 2014

Type of book: Spiritual, near death experience, growing, Reiki, 2000s, happiness

General subject matter: The writer of the book had a near death experience which helped her realize what might be important and what might not be important as well as help her follow her intuition instead of spurning it like she used to.

Special features: N/A

Price: $14.95

ISBN/ASIN: 9781622171255


Temple of All Knowing is a memoir of one woman’s passage from personal and professional turmoil to spiritual awakening. A compelling straight forward and sometimes humorous account of the most personal of journeys as this 40-something woman finds herself in Sin City with promise of a new life, new husband and elderly mother living with her. She instead is uncovered as a central character in the deepest of possible challenges only to break through to discover her authentic spiritual self through a near death experience and a personal mission in Soul City – Las Vegas.

Personal Opinion:

I'm not a stranger to reading spiritual books or novels: previously before reading this one, I've read Glimpsing Heaven which will be featured in December as a book tour, and few years ago I read Gospel of Kamasutra which had many similarities to this one, at last in terms of Las Vegas being the heaven "mecca". I'm really not putting the book down, but I feel that the book is more of a skeleton instead of a body. The story is more told than show, and I can't really capture the essence of the people's personality. Also as well, for someone who doesn't believe that certain beings exist, I didn't feel appreciated that the author thinks they exist. However, some good things include addictive writing, and it can be an advantage that the story is short for those who are busy or always on the go. But yes, it's not my style, sorry to say.

About the Author
Lee Papa’s start in the corporate world was in sales for the Hyatt Regency Hotel chain, which led to being head hunted by a NY based real estate developer. Lee spent the next 11 years as a key employee working in commercial real estate leasing and management in Baltimore, Maryland. Although, commercial real estate was now in her blood and she loved the art of the deal, a different road in the industry was presenting itself and that brought her to heading up the benchmarking division for a Los Angeles based real estate consulting firm. Her job had her traveling nationally and setting up programs to benchmark customer satisfaction. Understanding there was not a one shoe fits all approach to customer surveying, she embarked on her entrepreneurial journey and started with consulting to serve the customized needs of her clients.
Lee’s first book, The Temple of All Knowing, is a memoir of her several years journey prior to her near death experience, through the completion of the 6,000 square foot Ganesha Center in Las Vegas. The book details the roadmap from personal darkness through spiritual, emotional and physical transformation.
Since the completion of the manuscript the Las Vegas Sanctuary for the Spirit evolved by moving to a downtown Las Vegas location and now offers targeted classes and workshops while focusing on a Virtual Ganesha Center supporting individuals and corporations with programs and a Referral Network with expansive reach for optimal awareness.
For More Information

For More Information

  • The Temple of All Knowing is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
This is for Pump Up Your Books

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Q.What genre do you write and why?
A. I write historical romances and romantic historicals. What’s the difference? Simply the amount of time the story focuses on the romance theme vs other themes in the story. Why do I write historicals and medievals in particular? That’s hard to say. I’ve always been interested in history, from ancient through the 1800s (pre-Industrial), but when I got to college I just seemed to get more and more caught up in the Middle Ages and have been happily focused there ever since.

Q. Your book is set in medieval Poitou and Venice. Have you ever been there?
A. No, but a few years ago my sister and I briefly visited Torino and Torricella Peligna in the Abruzzo area of Italy where my grandmother’s family came from. That trip wasn’t nearly long enough. We both hope to go back some day and spend more time getting to know Italy, including hopefully on our next trip, Venice!

Q. Do you ever get writer’s block? What helps you overcome it?
A. Usually writer’s block hits me when I’m feeling too much pressure to produce. So I’ve learned a little ritual. I set a timer for an hour and tell myself that I don’t have to write anything, but I do have to stay at the computer with my story called up until the timer goes off, and during that time I can’t do anything else but write or stare at the screen. No email, no internet, no computer games, I can’t leave the computer to do something else. I just have to stay there with my story for one hour, until the timer rings. But I tell myself it’s okay if I just stare at the screen for that time, I don’t have to actually write. (But I can’t do anything else.) Somehow knowing that I don’t have to write takes the self-imposed pressure off of me, and once that pressure is removed I feel myself relax and I can usually start thinking of something to write after all. If I don’t, I’ve still put in the time, and that alone is an achievement. But it’s very, very rare that I actually come away without writing something once I tell myself I don’t have to write if I don’t want to. (But remember the rule: you can’t go do something easier or “more fun” during that hour!)

Q. In today’s tech savvy world, most writers use a computer or laptop. Have you ever written parts of your book on paper?
A. I wrote my first three novels entirely in longhand. Only one of those is currently published, Loyalty’s Web, although a second original “longhand” novel (deeply revised on the computer), The Lady and the Minstrel, is due to be published next year. Sometimes I’ll still jot plot ideas for my books down by hand.

Q. What is your next project?
A. I have a romantic historical novel I’m hoping to have ready to publish early next year. It’s called The Lady and the Minstrel. The title sounds like a romance, I know, but while it has a strong romance element in it, it deals in some depth with the manorial class system in medieval England. The story is currently going through a second round of beta readers, then I hope to polish it up and send it off for editing.

Q. Do you snack while writing? Favorite snack?
A. I don’t usually snack while I’m writing, but on those rare occasions when I do, I snack on Hershey Kisses with almonds or Jelly Bellies. (Favorite flavors: bubble gum, cotton candy, toasted marshmallow, caramel corn)

G481 E-Reading Book Review of Loving Lucianna by Joyce DiPastena

Name of Book: Loving Lucianna

Author: Joyce DiPastena


Publisher: Sable Tyger Books

Type of book: Venice, England, Medieval Love, 1100s, siblings, never-do-well, secrets, friendships, godmother, clean romance

Year it was published: 2014


Sir Balduin de Soler gave up long ago on love. He never had the means to support a wife until an unexpected advancement in his fifties allows him to reassess his future just as the lovely Lucianna enters his life.

Lucianna Fabio harbors a secret, painful memory from her past that has kept her unwed, as well. Now in her forties, she thought herself too old to marry until she meets Sir Balduin. Now suddenly their lonely autumn lives feel very much like spring again . . . until Lucianna’s brother appears without warning and threatens to revive the secret that will destroy Lucianna’s second chance at love.


The main characters are Lucianna, who is titled a Lady but comes from a more modest background. She is tempermental, fiery and does whatever she can to protect those she loves. Sir Balduin is in love with Lucianna and is determined to win her over, even while doing things that he has no aptitude for. Other secondary characters include Lucianna's friend's daughter and her husband as well as the son, and then Lucianna's brother who cost Lucianna so much happiness.


Love comes unexpectedly


The story is written in third person narrative from both Lucianna's and Sir Balduin's points of view, and despite the cover and description its actually a happy and somewhat comical tale. Despite the brief interludes that explain more about Lucianna, I do wish there would be more stories about her early life and how this life influenced her to be what she could be. If possible, I would like to read a sequel to find out what happens to Lucianna and Sir Balduin as well as Lucianna's brother.

Author Information:
(From Italy Book Tours)

Meet the author: 

Joyce DiPastena dreamed of green medieval forests while growing up in the dusty copper mining town of Kearny, Arizona. She filled her medieval hunger by reading the books of Thomas B. Costain (where she fell in love with King Henry II of England), and later by attending the University of Arizona where she graduated with a degree in history, specializing in the Middle Ages. The university was also where she completed her first full-length novel…set, of course, in medieval England. Later, her fascination with Henry II led her to expand her research horizons to the far reaches of his “Angevin Empire” in France, which became the setting of her first published novel, Loyalty’s Web (a 2007 Whitney Award Finalist).

Joyce is a multi-published, multi-award winning author who specializes in sweet medieval romances heavily spiced with mystery and adventure. She lives with her two cats, Clio and Glinka Rimsky-Korsokov, in Mesa, Arizona.

Connect with Joyce:  Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter


When I read the description of the book, I thought it would be bittersweet or else sad (blame the cover.) Much to mine surprise there is humor laced in the book and its written as a clean romance novel proving that love could be found at any age at any time. I do hope that in the future books more will be explored with Lucianna's background and life, which I will like.  The story also contains delightful surprises, and its a first in a new series.

This is for Italy Book Tours

Tour Schedule

This tour is fully booked

Nov 10 - Library of Clean Reads - spotlight / giveaway
Nov 10 - Nighttime Reading Center - review / author interview / giveaway
Nov 11 - Svetlana's Reads and Views - review / author interview
Nov 12 - Back Porchervations - review / author interview
Nov 13 - A Bit Bookish - review / giveaway
Nov 13 - Walking with Nora - review / giveaway
Nov 14 - 2 Kids and Tired Books - review / giveaway
Nov 14 - 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! - review / giveaway
Nov 17 - The Book Review - review / giveaway
Nov 17 - FLY HIGH! - review / author interview / giveaway
Nov 18 - Girl with Camera - review / author interview
Nov 19 - Katie's Clean Book Collection - review / giveaway
Nov 20 - Readers' Muse - review / giveaway
Nov 21 - Unshelfish - review / giveaway

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, November 10, 2014

G477 Memory Card Full a Memoir

Title: Memory Card Full

Author: Liz Weber

First copyright date: 2014

Type of book: dogs, growing pains, singlehood, playing the field, discovering how to satisfy self, parent/daughter relationships, sisterhood, friendships

General subject matter: Recently, Rufus, a thirty-seven year old woman's dog has passed away and she has to learn how to let go of him and how to make the life work for her instead of life making her work

Special features: N/A

Price: $20.00

ISBN/ASIN: 978-0-9886968-7-7


A book for anyone who has loved and lost and found the space in that loss to become the person they were meant to be.

When Rufus, Liz Weber’s oddly proportioned but adorable dog dies of old age, her life begins to unravel. She is forced to let go of the one constant in her life and move forward. Memory Card Full is a memoir of her life as a bartender, model and aspiring writer in Manhattan before and after Rufus. Without him, she is alone and broken-hearted and her life spirals downward while her friends and family struggle to understand what she is going through.

Prior to Rufus’s death, Liz Weber’s life was far from dull. Whether serving drinks to a gaggle of quirky regulars at a bar or walking around in her skivvies for extra cash as a lingerie model, she fought hard to remain a self-proclaimed “professional free spirit” and aspiring writer, even it meant enduring a lush for a manager or a cranky, Israeli-folk-music-loving boss. None of it really mattered as long as she had Rufus, who taught her about unconditional love in an untraditional way.

Memory Card Full is the story of Liz’s journey through grief, which leads to an  unexpected encounter with the long unheard voice of the woman inside of her. On water skis at an adult sleepaway camp, Liz realizes that there are important things in life that Rufus’ love had caused her to avoid. Embracing her power and strength, she is finally able to accept that letting go of him is the best way to go on and find love for herself and others.

Frank, funny, and deeply moving, Memory Card Full is a memoir for anyone who has loved and lost and found the space in that loss to become the person they were meant to be.

Background of Author:
(From TLC)

About Liz Weber

Liz Weber is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared online at Narratively, and Apartment Therapy. When she is not contributing to lifestyle websites, including Citypath and Bored and Thirsty or doling out dating advice to the urban female set on the popular website The Fat White Guy, she’s blogging about her past as a children’s party performer (she makes a mean balloon sword) and the time she drove her moped through a souvenir stand in Mexico. Her short story about working in a male strip club for women was featured in the 2009 Staten Island Arts Festival.
Visit Liz at her website.

Author's Purpose:

"It was less about time and more about choice. When you lose something close to you, you have two choices: the first is to stay immersed in the pain and emptiness of the deep crater left behind by the absence. The second choice is more fluid and requires you to find the space in the loss. In that space, many other things can be gained or cultivated-love, creativity, a new dog, whatever you want. And for the fist time in a year, I could feel the possibility in my life." (231)

a. Why did the author write on this subject rather than on some other subject?

"Maybe I should celebrate. I was finally moving on and ready to create the space for something new. I knew Rufus would dig that-in fact, I'm pretty sure that was the reason why he finally let go in the end." (Prologue)

b. From what point of view is the work written?

The story is written in first person narrative from Liz's point of view.

c. Was the author trying to give information, to explain something technical, to convince the reader of a belief’s validity by dramatizing it in action?

For me personally its kind of difficult to say what she was trying to accomplish in the book. While I sensed that she did change and opened up spiritually, I often felt frustrated that some elements, such as her phobia of commitment wasn't really addressed in the book, or that she also wasn't a likable character for me.

d. What is the general field or genre, and how does the book fit into it? (Use outside sources to familiarize yourself with the field, if necessary.) Knowledge of the genre means understanding the art form. and how it functions.

The general field would be memoirs and how she is trying to learn to accept herself as well as trying to heal from Rufus's death.

e. Who is the intended audience?

I often think the intended audience would be dog lovers and those who are trying to get their lives together and expect a realistic ending instead of something supernatural.

f. What is the author's style? Is it formal or informal? Evaluate the quality of the writing style by using some of the following standards: coherence, clarity, originality, forcefulness, correct use of technical words, conciseness, fullness of development, fluidity. Does it suit the intended audience?

The author's style strikes me more as informal and is easy-going, which means that anyone can read it without a struggle. Although I didn't really find the book funny, I imagine that other people might find some humor in it.

g. Scan the Table of Contents, it can help understand how the book is organized and will aid in determining the author's main ideas and how they are developed - chronologically, topically, etc.

Basically the book is divided into 39 chapters plus epilogue and prologue as well as two parts. No table of contents are given. The chapters and the book are both short if you're pressed for time, and its arranged chronologically.

g. How did the book affect you? Were any previous ideas you had on the subject changed, abandoned, or reinforced due to this book? How is the book related to your own course or personal agenda? What personal experiences you've had relate to the subject?

Last year a sweet dachshund entered into my heart and refuses to leave. Since her entrance, I found myself changing in unexpected ways. She is six or seven years of age, born in 2008, I imagine that what the author writes about might be something I will struggle with when the time comes, and yes I dread thinking about it. In someways too I can relate to the author as well, since I'm also a creative and overly sensitive soul where you're being taught to reign in your emotions.

h. How well has the book achieved its goal?

I'm not really sure what the goal of the book was, and I expected for the book to be linked back to the prologue, and I felt that it didn't happen. If her goal is to show her moving on and healing, then yes the story has achieved its goal, but I'm still unsure of how Rufus's passing helped her grow, unless spirituality is counted?

i. Would you recommend this book or article to others? Why?

I am honestly not sure if I would or not, but I guess its because I feel that I didn't really get anything out of it.

a. Theme: The theme is the subject or topic. It is not necessarily the title, and it is usually not expressed in a complete sentence. It expresses a specific phase of the general subject matter.

Death can be a metamorphosis in life.

b. Thesis: The thesis is an author’s generalization about the theme, the author’s beliefs about something important, the book’s philosophical conclusion, or the proposition the author means to prove. Express it without metaphor or other figurative language, in one declarative sentence.

No matter the age, its possible to discover happiness and self.

Personal Opinion:

While there are parts that I liked about the story such as the addictive writing style, and that in some points I could relate to Liz, especially when it comes to having a successful sibling and being creative and misunderstood, there are parts of the book where I tended to dislike her character, or where I felt frustrated that some issues weren't explored, such as why Liz is frightened of commitment? And the story could have benefited a lot more from Liz's background insertion. Last year I read a wonderful doggie memoir titled Short Leash where another author learns through dog walking to let go of her fears and so forth, and I had hoped that this book might be something along the line, but it wasn't.

This is for TLC Book Tour

Liz’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, October 21st: bookchickdi
Monday, October 27th: A Chick Who Reads
Monday, October 27th: Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Monday, November 3rd: Peeking Between the Pages
Wednesday, November 5th: Ms. Nose in a Book
Thursday, November 6th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Monday, November 10th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Tuesday, November 11th: My Bookshelf
Thursday, November 13th: Priscilla and Her Books
4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Friday, November 7, 2014

G449 Book Review of Vicissitudes of Life by Wang Xiaoying

Name of Book: Vicissitudes of Life

Author: Wang Xiaoying

ISBN: 978-1-60220-221-4

Publisher: Tuttle

Type of book: China, Shanghai, 1980s, economy, old China vs modern China vs new China, decisions, keeping face, international student

Year it was published: 2010


Vicissitudes of Life tells the story of Xiaoyi, a post-graduate studying in America during the early years of China's opening up. Xiaoyi has opportunities in AMerica, but pining for his wife and determined to contribute to the building of the "new China" he decides to return home. Before he leaves a former lover reads his fortune using a traditional book of divination. She warns him that a dire fate awaits him in China. Xiaoyi ignores the warning and returns home.

Back in Shanghai, he is reunited with his wife Fanfan, a singer in a local chorus, and is offered a job at his former university. However, it quickly becomes apparent that not everyone is happy about Xiaoyi's appointment, particularly the zealous Party Secretarty You Dexiang. Xiaoyi soon finds himself in a Kafkaesque bureaucratic nightmare. As his career and marriage gradually break down, Xiaoyi's faith in the new age of opportunity he came back for is severely tested.


I have to admit that I had a lot of fun trying to figure out the importance of characters and what they represented: while the story centers on Yu Xiaoyi, it also talks about three important relationships to him, that of him and his wife Fanfan, his best friend Mo Ke and Mi Na, whom he used to know but lost touch with. I feel that Fanfan represents the old China, Mo Ke represents the modern China and Mi Na represents the future China, and Yu Xiaoyi has to decide which path he must travel on. Character-wise, Fanfan is a talented folklore singer who has high ambitions on making it, Mo Ke is an economics teacher that secretly likes Yu Xiaoyi while Mi Na is an ambitious young lady who wants to expand her business world-wide.


People are more the same than different


The story is in third person narrative mainly from Yu Xiaoyi's point of view although we also get to see other characters' points of views, often without a warning. Some of the things that occurred in the story are shocking, even for me, but they are thought provoking and in a right way a discussion will occur of how we are more the same than different. What is important in the story are the small details and how these small details ultimately create a big picture.

Author Information:
(From Tuttlepublishing page)

Wang Xiaoying worked as a fiction editor at Meng Ya, a literary magazine. Transferring to the Shanghai Writers Association as a professional writer in 1985, she is now a member of the China Writers Association and a council member of the Shanghai Writers Association. Her main works include novels, novellas and collected works of prose, including Who Do You Defend, I'll Defend You, We Were in Love, and Vicissitudes of Life, which was awarded the National Outstanding Novella Prize in 1986 and is available in English. The novel Superb Artistry in Painting won her the Shanghai Culture and Arts Award in 1989, the National Outstanding Novel and Novella Award in 1998, and the People's Literature Magazine Award in 2001.


I have to admit that this is one of the complex books that I've read, yet I really enjoyed seeing the symbolism and trying to make sense of what the author was trying to say, which I think has to do with China's place in the world as it relates to Yu Xioayi and the relationships that surround him. Ultimately, I feel, the question is this: what is the role of China and what path should it take? If it takes one path then it loses culture so to speak, and if it takes another path, it loses the much needed help. Also, despite the rules and desires, and even if it comes to be a democracy, it seems as little to no change will occur. A very thought provoking and highly recommended book if you're a fan of Asia or Chinese culture.

I would like to thank Tuttle Publishing for the chance to read and review this wonderful 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.)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

G460 Village of Secrets; Defying the Nazis in Vichy France

Title of the book: Village of Secrets; Defying the Nazis in Vichy France

Author: Caroline Moorehead

Publisher: Harper

Publishing Date: 2014

ISBN:  978-0-06-220247-5


From the author of the runaway bestseller A Train in Winter comes the extraordinary story of a French village that helped save thousands, including many Jewish children, who were pursued by the Gestapo during World War II.

Le Chambon-sur-Lignon is a small village of scattered houses high in the mountains of the Ard├Ęche. Surrounded by pastures and thick forests of oak and pine, the plateau Vivarais lies in one of the most remote and inaccessible parts of Eastern France, cut off for long stretches of the winter by snow. 

During the Second World War, the inhabitants of the area saved thousands wanted by the Gestapo: resisters, freemasons, communists, downed Allied airmen and above all Jews. Many of these were children and babies, whose parents had been deported to the death camps in Poland. After the war, Le Chambon became the only village to be listed in its entirety in Yad Vashem's Dictionary of the Just.

Just why and how Le Chambon and its outlying parishes came to save so many people has never been fully told. Acclaimed biographer and historian Caroline Moorehead brings to life a story of outstanding courage and determination, and of what could be done when even a small group of people came together to oppose German rule. It is an extraordinary tale of silence and complicity. In a country infamous throughout the four years of occupation for the number of denunciations to the Gestapo of Jews, resisters and escaping prisoners of war, not one single inhabitant of Le Chambon ever broke silence. The story of Le Chambon is one of a village, bound together by a code of honour, born of centuries of religious oppression. And, though it took a conspiracy of silence by the entire population, it happened because of a small number of heroic individuals, many of them women, for whom saving those hunted by the Nazis became more important than their own lives.

The Scholarly Approach:

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

The particular subject or period the book deals with is that of World War II in France as well as people trying to hide Jewish children and what caused them to do such a brave thing.

2.How thorough is the treatment?

While I feel that the narrative seems to be all over the place, the treatment is thorough and the author did research into French history during World War II

3.What were the sources used?

The sources were both primary and secondary, that of interviews and books and so forth.

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

I think the author couldn't really decide on what to focus thus she tries to give the account in both a broad outline as well as minute detail in some cases.

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

I honestly am not sure, probably most of it is reportorial writing although there are claims that she attempted to try interpretive writing.

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

"What actually took place on the plateau of the Vivarais-Lignon during the grey and terrifying years of German occupation and Vichy rule is indeed about courage, faith and morality. But it is also about the fallibility of memory." (11)

7.Is the treatment superficial or profound?

For me personally, the treatment seemed more superficial than profound. While there is great detail when it comes to government and its actions as well as the sects of christianity and what might have compelled them to do what they did, the people themselves didn't stand out at all and weren't given as good treatment as I hoped.

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

I am not sure, although from the writing she has attempted to try to appeal to more popular crowd as well as scholarly one.

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

While there is focus on the children and the helpers during the area, I feel that she doesn't really explain her motivation on why she chose to write the story, or how she became fascinated by the story.

10.Is social history or political history emphasized?

I think political history is more emphasized than social history because a lot of focus is on dates and things that could have been important issues were mentioned once and not anymore.

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

The dates are used extensively and intelligently, but again I have to admit that its one of the more confusing non-fictions I've read so far.

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

The book is not a revision

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

I have an uncorrected proof copy which means that a lot of photographs weren't inserted yet, and for the photographs that were, there wasn't print in identifying who's who. Perhaps it changed in the final edition?

Personal Opinion:

First of all, I am grateful that people chose to protect whatever Jews they could during that time, and many times Caroline Moorehead did hit on a lot of things that I've been taught when I took Holocaust and Media Representation class. The rating itself doesn't come from the actions or anything, but rather I am judging the book as a casual reader. It is enjoyable in someways, but like a review on goodreads mentions, its difficult to read not only in subject matter, but also because I was confused by characters because there are too many of them, and the brief character sheet doesn't really help. Also, I'm not French nor do I understand French, so I'm confused why French words were used what seems to be almost all the time and why for example a map of neither France nor Europe was provided? The names that were used meant very little to me. I also feel its necessary to add this article that isn't very happy with the book and see both sides of the story:


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This is for TLC Book Tour

Caroline’s Tour Stops

Wednesday, October 15th: The Year in Books
Thursday, October 16th: nightlyreading
Friday, October 17th: Back Porchervations
Monday, October 20th: Man of La Book
Tuesday, October 21st: Love at First Book
Wednesday, October 22nd: Ace and Hoser Blook
Thursday, October 23rd: JulzReads
Monday, October 27th: Based on a True Story
Tuesday, October 28th: A Book Geek
Wednesday, October 29th: Dwell in Possibility
Tuesday, November 4th: Books on the Table
Thursday, November 6th: Svetlana’s Reads and Books
Monday, November 10th: Diary of an Eccentric
Wednesday, November 12th: My Bookshelf
3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)
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