Tuesday, January 28, 2014

G257 E-Reading Book Review of Changes by Gillian Felix

Name of Book: Changes

Author: Gillian Felix

ISBN/ASIN: B00EADYMCA

Publisher:  Createspace

Part of a Series: Family Portrait

Type of book: Soap Opera, wealth, fame, being naive, siblings, family, Young adult, New Adult, 2000s, California, mystery

Year it was published: 2013

Summary:

Adriana Banovic’s 15th birthday sucked! She got fired after eight years of playing Shayanne Montgomery on the #1 soap in the country, found out that her family was on the verge of bankruptcy and worst of all, forced to return to Westwood Academy. Her only saving grace was a chance glance at dreamy mystery boy Haze Lyndon. Armed with only his picture and a determination to find him—even if it means turning Los Angeles over on its ass.

In this young adult novel, you’ll meet Robin Banovic, Adriana’s father; financially challenged, dealing with the death of a family member and his brother’s disappearance. You’ll meet Savannah DaCosta aka Savi, mother/manager; Savi enjoys the life her rock star daughter Leighann has provided. When Leighann makes a choice to end her career, Savi sees it as a personal attack. You’ll meet college boy Haze Lyndon; New to Los Angeles, Haze soon realizes how quickly money changes hands in the City of Angels. Will he return to questionable ways to survive or go back to the safety of his family in Wisconsin?

Characters:

The book doesn't really focus a lot on the characters, and they are sort of more told than show variety. Adriana is best described as mercurial as well as defiant and determined; then there are her parents who sound ideal, mother wanting to have a good relationship with her, and her father who is determined to go his own way but then is called back to his roots. There is Leighann who is naive and often dreams of being normal as well as Adriana's brother, Kevin and Zax. Kevin's life is sort of like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, while Zax is a good boy.

Theme:

I think its purely written for entertainment rather than to teach lessons.

Plot:

On my e-reader, which is a Sony, it was about 84 pages which is pretty short and not enough to go into details on the promised soap opera feel; yet it is essential to read it if you want to read The Banovic Siblings. Just like The Banovic Siblings, the book changes points of views without a warning as well as it lacks character depth. Yet the writing is on the addictive side which makes it a bit of a guilty pleasure novel, and I hated that it was so short. Its also written in third person narrative from what seems to be everyone's point of view, although the domineering characters would include Adriana as well as her parents.

Author Information:

(from goodreads.com)

url https://www.goodreads.com/GillianFx
born in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
gender female
website http://www.plaintalkbm.com
twitter username Gillianfx
genre Contemporary, Ebooks, Young Adult
member since December 2012

Gillian Felix has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. She enjoys creating characters that could be your next-door neighbor, but would you want them as your neighbor is another story.

Originally from the island republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Miss Felix moved to the United States in 1998. Since then she has been involved in the entertainment industry for over ten years. Her experience ranges from script supervisor to production manager on many independent features. She is trained in the Meisner and Stanislavski technique of acting, which she credits as an asset to her character development and writing.

Miss Felix is also an entrepreneur and advocate for children's and women's rights.

Opinion:

I've read this after reading the sequel which is titled The Banovic Siblings, and the story is more of a first chapter or a prologue which explains a lot of what happened prior to The Banovic Siblings, as well as give tantalizing details of the events prior to the book. Its an interesting read as well as short, sort of a prelude and a promise to what should be a roller coaster tale of betrayal, drama, love triangles, secrets and so forth. I have to admit that I liked The Banovic Siblings better than this book, but still it did answer a lot of questions as well as give background information to the characters.

Quick Notes: I would like to thank the author for allowing me the opportunity 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.)

G245 My Mother's Funeral; A Memoir

Title: My Mother's Funeral

Author: Adriana Paramo

First copyright date: 2013

Type of book: Mother/Daughter relationship, poverty, Columbia, creativity, history, memoir, escape, South America, abandonment, bitterness, 1950s?-1990s?

General subject matter: Mother and daughter relationship, memories, growing up

Special features: N/A

Price: $21.00

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1-933880-39-6

Author's Purpose: 

"My real mother will be dead in less than two years, and her death will teach me a new definition of grief: one that is more than just a hurt heart because the pain is deep and widespread. I will feel her void in my cells, in the follicles of my hair, in the cuticle of my nails, in unsuspected places and at unexpected times." (xviii)

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

I can think of several reasons as to why My Mother's Funeral was written: one of the reasons as sort of a eulogy to her mother, as well as trying to remember the way she was, and perhaps its to make sense of her childhood. There are at least three story threads that are going on simultaneously: one is about when her mother met her father and she gave her family up, another are establishing connections between her sisters and brother while the funeral is going on and the last thread is that of the author's childhood with her mother and sisters.

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

The book is primarily written from Adriana's point of view, although her mother's point of view also enters into the story once in a while.

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?

I think the book serves multiple purposes: one is giving information because she does include history of Columbia as well as how her family ended up the way they did, while another purpose is to come to grips with her mother's death. I sort of sense that the author really sought her mother's approval and out of all the sisters, she probably needed her mother a lot.

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 its fit into would include South America, Columbia, memoir, eulogy, mother/daughter relationship and perhaps 1950s-1990s time line? as well as death and mourning and connections between mothers and daughters

e. Who is the intended audience?

The intended audience would be her family members and anyone else who has a mother, which would be everyone. For some odd reason, whenever I reflect on the relationship between the author and her mother, I often recall a quote from Queen Bees and Wanna-bees about how mother/daughter relationships are very turbulent.

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 is best described as informal and its very sensual as well as understandable. The writing teases the senses with sights, smells and sounds as well as giving a picture of the author's mother and her strong and indomitable personality. (My favorite part is the beginning of the book about the mango.)

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.

*Introduction
*Prologue
Part I
*Opal and Topaz #1
*Rigor Mortis
*Skeletons
Part II
*Opal and Topaz #2
*The Wake
*Mariquita
*Radios
Part III
*Opal and Topaz #3
* Requiem Mass
*La Petite Mort at Thirteen
*A Commie a la Colombiana
Part IV
*Opal and Topaz #4
*The Crematorium
*Napoleon's White Horse
Part V
*Home One last Time
*Leech
*Epilogue (Ossuary)

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?

I'm not really sure how the book has affected me. I think if anything I came to admire the author's mother and the sacrifices she made for her son and daughters as well as the difficulty of life in Columbia. The book has proved that women are tough and unique creatures. When a specific event happened to Adriana and her sisters, I also felt angry along with Adriana and had a difficult time understanding their reactions.

h. How well has the book achieved its goal?

She definitely created something eternal and lasting when it came to this book, as well as something that can be thought of as universal because at one point or another a lot of the mothers struggled with what Adriana's mother struggled with, even if its continents or generations or even worlds apart.

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

I really would recommend the book to people I know because for one it introduces a culture that not many know or are familiar with, and for another there is something timeless and easy to relate to in Adriana's mother Carmen as well as growing up in a household where there are more women than men.

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.

"Without her, there was no me." (page 254)

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.

There is more to people than just labels or stereotypes. Don't underestimate women.

This is for TLC Book Tour

Adriana Páramo’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, January 6th:  Read. Write. Repeat.
Wednesday, January 8th:  Patricia’s Wisdom
Sunday, January 12th:  Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Monday, January 13th:  Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, January 14th:  BookNAround
Thursday, January 16th:  Sarah’s Bookshelves
Monday, January 20th:  Book Dilettante
Wednesday, January 22nd:  Book Lust
Friday, January 24th:  Bibliotica
Tuesday, January 28th:  Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Monday, February 3rd:  Seaside Book Nook
Thursday, February 6th:  What She Read
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.)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Multicultural Children's Book Day

I'm not sure if I'm late or not, but happy Multicultural Children's Day! I don't review children's books, although I do review YA novels, which I will present on this blog, along with the links. Considering how the entire world is populated by different cultures as well as mindsets that are different, its important to acknowledge and celebrate this diversity; after all we have more in common than we think. Here are some YA books I've reviewed: I focus a lot on Asian-American/Asian culture and a few are of Jewish origins: I will give links to other websites that focus on those who are African-American, Native American and so forth. Most of the books are for Grades 9 and up. (I do hope all are okay. Let me know if some don't' meet criteria thus I'll remove them)


When I was in high school, it was common for students read The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. I personally didn't like the book due to the negative portrayal of Asian men, but I'm including it anyways.

The Joy Luck Club-Amy Tan

In college for a Jewish-American history class we had to read The Chosen by Chaim Potok which I liked a great deal and which I feel is relevant to the Jews of 21st century. There is a sequel titled The Promise, but I'm not sure if it should be part of YA literature or not. 

The Chosen-Chaim Potok 

I went to a local bookstore with a friend one time and discovered a book titled Chenxi and the Foreigner. Although the protagonist is a white female and its mainly her story, the book mentions and talks about attitudes in China in 1980s. 

Chenxi and the Foreigner-Sally Rippin

On the same day in the same bookstore I came across a little well known treasure titled When My Name is Keoko by Linda Sue Park which is about what life was like in Korea during Japanese occupation, something people in America aren't familiar with. 

When My name was Keoko-Linda Sue Park

When I was a kid I was a big fan of Judy Blume's books, in fact almost every day when I was in elementary school I'd read her books over and over again. Although not my favorite, I do think it should fit in with Multicultural Children's Book Day because the character is half Jewish and half Christian, which is very common with a lot of kids these days. 

Are you there God? Its Me, Margaret-Judy Blume

Few years back I discovered an Asian-American author by the name of Lisa Yee who wrote the infamous Milly Trilly Trilogy about the same summer from three different points of view. The first I read and reviewed would be So Totally Emily Ebers. As much as I want to include her in the list, her struggles are pretty different than those of her two friends, Millicent Min and Stanford Wong. 

Millicent Min, Girl Genius-Lisa Yee

Stanford Wong Flunks Big Time-Lisa Yee

I think one of the more famous books would be Number the Stars by Lois Lowry that takes place in Denmark about a young Danish girl's family doing their best for their Jewish friends. 

Number the Stars-Lois Lowry 

One of the other books I've read that was Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene which deals with being Jewish in America in the South in particular during WWII, and about her befriending a German prisoner as well as learning valuable lessons. 

Summer of my German Soldier-Bette Greene

I've heard a lot of good things about the Chemistry Trilogy by Simone Elkeles and decided to try them out. I really liked the first book, and felt that the second and third one was a bit repetitious. The book has Mexican male leads and the last one is Mexican male lead as well as Mexican-American female lead. 

Perfect Chemistry-Simone Elkeles

Rules of Attraction-Simone Elkeles

Chain Reaction-Simone Elkeles

Years and years ago in the same bookstore as I got few other books, I came across Yoshiko Uchida's book titled Journey Home which is a sequel to Journey to Topaz. The first book deals with the Japanese-American family traveling to an internment camp and trying to make a living there, while the second one talks about life for them after WWII. 

Journey to Topaz- Yoshiko Uchida

Journey Home-Yoshiko Uchida

I won Eleanor and Park sometime in November of 2012 as one of the Goodreads first reads. Funny story is that at first I could care less about it, but when I started to do research and read more and more, I fell in love with it. Unfortunately I had to wait until December 24th, 2012 for the book to arrive, and boy those were some frustrating weeks! Well it was worth the wait. The male character is half Korean half American and it takes place in 1986, so a lot of nostalgia for those who remember the '80s. 

Eleanor and Park-Rainbow Rowell 

My first encounter with David Yoo was in a library, where I got intrigued by his book Stop Me If You Heard This One Before, which I got and read. Along with that there is also Girls for Breakfast. I liked Stop Me If You Heard This One Before a lot more than Girls for Breakfast. Both books are about Korean guys; Girls for Breakfast traces a guy's roots from 3rd grade until graduation from high school (not recommended for children,) and it focuses a lot on him trying to find a place between his Korean/American roots. The second one is about a friendless guy who falls in love with a popular girl in high school. Girls for Breakfast hit a lot of nerves for me personally which explains why I gave it low rating on my blog. 

Girls for Breakfast-David Yoo

Stop Me If You Heard This One Before-David Yoo

If you are looking for a graphic novel that depicts Holocaust in a way children can understand, then look no further than Keeping My Hope by Christian Huh (The author was 13 years old at the time he wrote it). The character there is Jewish and he is very accurate with Holocaust depiction, as well as giving a lot of unpleasant history one doesn't learn in school. I took Holocaust in Media Representation in college, and he is very accurate with the facts.



Some of the books I reviewed on another blog but ones I think will fit in with the topic: 

Princess of Princesses; Jahanara, India, 1627-Kathryn Lasky



Dreams in the Golden Country; Diary of Zipporah Feldman, a Jewish Immigrant Girl, New York 1903-Kathryn Lasky


Other Blogs:

Pragmaticmom

Jumpintoabook

Link to Jewish books




G249 Book Review of Netherwood by Jane Sanderson

Name of Book: Netherwood

Author: Jane Sanderson

ISBN: 978-0-06-230039-3

Publisher: William Morrow

Part of a Series: Eve Williams

Type of book: 1902 or 1903?-1904, period drama, expanding, upstairs/downstairs, wealth, nobility, cooking, recipes, mining accidents, Yorkshire, Great Britain

Year it was published: 2011

Summary:

Two remarkably different worlds—one of wealth and privilege, the other of poverty and desperation—are about to collide in one shattering moment in this mesmerizing tale of high drama, forbidden love, and families fighting to hold on to what they have

Upstairs: Lord Netherwood, a coal baron, earns his considerable wealth from the three mines he owns. Supplying a bustling industrial empire with the highest-quality coal keeps his coffers filled—money he needs to run his splendid estate, Netherwood Hall, and to dress his wife and daughters in the latest fashions. And keeping his heir, the charming but feckless Tobias, out of trouble, doesn’t come cheap.

Downstairs: Eve Williams, the wife of one of Lord Netherwood’s most stalwart employees, cleverly manages her family’s well-being on the low wages her hardworking husband earns in the mines. But when her ordered life amid the terraced rows of miners’ houses is brought crashing down by the twin arrivals of tragedy and charity, Eve must look to her own self-sufficiency and talent to provide for her three young children.

And soon the divide between “upstairs” and “downstairs” is about to close . . . and neither world will ever be the same.

Characters:

The main character would be Eve Williams who was recently widowed. She was married to Arthur and together they had three children. Eve is best described as resourceful, talented, open-hearted and isn't afraid of trying to get things done. There is also Anna, a daughter of a merchant who is also widowed and who has a younger daughter Maya. She was married to a Jew (which explains her last name,) and she's not afraid of dreaming big as well as inspiring others to follow dreams. She is helpful and supportive of Eve. Of course there are also many other interesting characters such as the Earl and his eldest daughter Henrietta, and of course the Earl's wife as well as Tobias, their son and some of Eve's and Arthur's friends such as Amos Sykes. It would take me way too long to describe all the characters that populate this likable novel.

Theme:

There are strong women even 100+ years ago.

Plot:

Its written in third person narrative from what seems to be everyone's point of view. I have to admit that the first chapters were boring and kind of hard for me to get through because they were introductory. But once I got past them, the book became interesting, although I have to admit that it lacked conflict and in some ways Eve Williams' success wasn't very believable for me. But its a good book to relax to or learn more about coal mining or about upstairs/downstairs lives and so forth.

Author Information:
(from TLC)

A former BBC radio producer, married to author and journalist Brian Viner, Jane Sanderson has used some of her own family history as background for her first novel.
Find out more about Jane at her website and follow her on Twitter.

Opinion:

This is a story of an ordinary life, at least for me. There is some drama, but mostly there is minutiae details, and its a feel-good type novel. It's historical fiction and takes place in England from 1902 or 1903 up until 1904. I did enjoy reading and the historical detail and attention in it, as well as learning something new (Perhaps soon I'll start reading Forsyte Saga,) but if you are looking for something scandalous then this isn't a book for you. However, if you are seeking a book with a British setting about 100+ years ago with strong heroines who succeed as well as details and attention to the Edwardian period where romance isn't at the forefront of the action, then you've found the right novel.

This is for TLC Book Tour

Jane’s Tour Stops

Netherwood

Tuesday, January 14th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, January 15th: BookNAround
Thursday, January 16th: Drey’s Library
Monday, January 20th: She’s Good Books on Her Mind
Tuesday, January 21st: Ageless Pages Reviews
Wednesday, January 22nd: Bibliophilia, Please
Thursday, January 23rd: Mom in Love With Fiction
Monday, January 27th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Monday, January 27th: Mel’s Shelves
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, January 24, 2014

G253 E-Reading Book Review of The Banovic Siblings By Gillian Felix

Name of Book: The Banovic Siblings Friends & Liars

Author: Gillian Felix

ISBN: 9781493744503

Publisher: Createspace

Part of a Series: Family Portraits

Type of book: Soap Opera, New Adult? Adult, wealth, family, plots, love triangles, secrets

Year it was published: 2013

Summary:

College boy Kevin Banovic’s casual affair with Savi DaCosta suited him perfectly. Things change when he finds out that Savi is his mom’s high school bestie. When Kevin tries to end their affair, Savi blackmails him. After Kevin rescues Savi’s stepdaughter, L’Wren, from her abusive boyfriend, he can’t stop thinking about her. He must find a way to handle Savi, protect L’Wren, and keep his sanity.

Bad girl Adriana Banovic is pleased with herself for getting her nemesis expelled from Westwood Academy. As feelings between her and her latest victim Haze Lyndon escalate, an unexpected rival discovers her secret and threatens to expose her. With emotions on the line, will her new rival beat her at her own game or end up another casualty of Adriana’s wrath?

Zax Banovic has it all. Tall and handsome, he’s an academic genius, with a killer smile and a heart of gold. When his best friend gets into trouble, he feels responsible and covers for him. But his best friend is not as honorable and has other plans for Zax.

The Banovic Siblings learn that blackmail is a gift that keeps on giving. This is the second book in the Family Portrait novel series.

If you like shows like the original Melrose Place, Beverly Hills 90210 and Nashville, where the guys and girls are hot and the schemes are hotter, you will like The Banovic Siblings.

Characters:

The main characters would be the Banovic children by names of Adriana, Kevin and Zax. Adriana used to be an actress and is considered a bad girl of the family as well as very independent. Kevin is the eldest brother, I believe and he has a lot of interesting secrets and also deals in drug business, while Zax seems to be the good boy and has a major crush on a girl. I'm beginning to sense some interesting love triangles between certain characters. The characters that I found interesting would be L'Wren and Savi, mother and daughter if I'm not mistaken. Savi has an interesting past and seems to be an unusual woman in many ways, while the same goes for L'Wren, or perhaps L'Wren doesn't get enough limelight and I'm curious about her.

Theme:

I'm not sure there is a lesson, I think its written for entertainment value

Plot:

This is written in third person narrative from what seems to be everyone's point of view. The chapters are short and the author doesn't go into the deep motivations of her characters and only gives what I would call the surface. The writing is very addictive, although I was confused in the beginning because of the lack of background information on the characters. But still I was able to catch up quickly and enjoy the short book a great deal.

Author Information:
(from goodreads.com)

url https://www.goodreads.com/GillianFx
born in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
gender female
website http://www.plaintalkbm.com
twitter username Gillianfx
genre Contemporary, Ebooks, Young Adult
member since December 2012

Gillian Felix has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. She enjoys creating characters that could be your next-door neighbor, but would you want them as your neighbor is another story.

Originally from the island republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Miss Felix moved to the United States in 1998. Since then she has been involved in the entertainment industry for over ten years. Her experience ranges from script supervisor to production manager on many independent features. She is trained in the Meisner and Stanislavski technique of acting, which she credits as an asset to her character development and writing.

Miss Felix is also an entrepreneur and advocate for children's and women's rights.

Opinion:

This was reminiscent of reading The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club, a soap opera tale that's there for a light read without anything deep involved. I would guess "guilty pleasure" would be an apt description for the short and addictive tale that takes you on dizzying heights from bottom to top without involving deep issues but instead acts as a junk food for the mind, which is a good thing in my case. While I enjoyed the read a great deal, I really feel that the author needs some more background information in beginning of this book just so those who are newcomers can understand what's going on as well as who's who. Overall, a short and addictive read.

This is for Reading Addiction Virtual Book Tour


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, January 23, 2014

G229 E-Reading Book Review of The Reckless Engineer by Jac Wright

Name of Book: The Reckless Engineer

Author: Jac Wright

ISBN: 9781619353213

Publisher: Soul Mate publishing

Part of a Series: The Reckless Engineer

Type of book: Engineering, England, murder mystery, who did it? suspects, figuring it out, wealth, manipulation, adultery, marriage of convenience

Year it was published: 2013

Summary:

Love is a battlefield.
The aftershocks of an affair reverberate out to those in the lives of the lovers, who will NOT take it lying down.

Jack Connor's lives an idyllic life by the Portsmouth seaside married to Caitlin McAllen, a stunning billionaire heiress, and working at his two jobs as the Head of Radar Engineering of Marine Electronics and as the Director of Engineering of McAllen BlackGold, his powerful father-in-law Douglas McAllen's extreme engineering company in Oil & Gas. He loves his two sons from his first marriage and is amicably divorced from his beautiful first wife Marianne Connor. Their delicately balanced lives are shattered when sexy Michelle Williams, with whom Jack is having a secret affair and who is pregnant with his child, is found dead and Jack is arrested on suspicion for the murder.

Jeremy Stone brings London's top defence attorney, John Stavers, to handle his best friend's defence.

Who is the bald man with the tattoo of a skull seen entering the victim's house? Who is "KC" who Caitlin makes secret calls to from a untraceable mobile? Has powerful Douglas McAllen already killed his daughter's first partner and is he capable of killing again? Is Caitlin's brother Ronnie McAllen's power struggle with Jack for the control of McAllen Industries so intense that he is prepared to kill and frame his brother-in-law? Is the divorce from Jack's first wife as amicable on her part as they believe it to be? Are his sons prepared to kill for their vast inheritance? Who are the ghosts from Caitlin's past in Aberdeen, Scotland haunting the marriage? What is the involvement of Jack's manager at Marine Electronics?

The cast of characters is made even more colorful by the supporting entourage: the big Scott and his gang, Hosé and Heineken, who carry out Douglas McAllen’s “troubleshooting;” McAllens' bumbling solicitors McKinley and Magnus Laird; Caitlin McAllen’s handymen, Cossack and Levent; and Jeremy’s sidekick, the gay black actor working in the London West End.

While Jack is charged and his murder trial proceeds in the Crown Court under barrister John Stavers’ expert care, Jeremy runs a race against time to find the real killer and save his friend's life, if he is in fact innocent, in a tense saga of love, desire, power, and ambition.

Characters:

It often seems that the book is overflowing with different characters, which can be a good thing because the reader doesn't get bored, but on the other hand it can be a little overwhelming in remembering who's who, especially when most of them potentially played a huge role in killing Michelle and her child. The main character is Jeremy Stone who happens to be an engineer and is friends with Jack Connor who is facing a murder charge. Jeremy is described as loyal, steadfast and as the title of the book hints, reckless in doing whatever he can for those he cares about. Jack Connor strikes me as sort of resigned to life, or else extremely unhappy despite the much agreed things that should make him happy such as wealth, a wonderful job and connections to power. There are women players as well, although I think they played minor roles in the story, although they are well written and atypical. There is Caitlin, Jack's wife who also seems to have settled down in life and tries her best to be happy with the trappings of society when in fact her heart desires someone else. There is also Sally, a very dedicated engineer who also had a brief affair with Jack, and Michelle who bullied and manipulated everyone around her. With a cast of characters such as the ones I described, be prepared for a roller-coaster ride.

Theme:

I feel like the theme should be something like "be careful how you treat others," and you don't know the human being's limits.

Plot:

The book is written in third person narrative from multiple characters' points of views, although the main character is Jeremy, an engineer that is helping out in trying to prove his friend's innocence. I think the pacing and the story are the strongest points of the book, because it is interesting in seeing who did it and why. Even if its a story about engineers, strangely enough there is little technical language, and I was a bit surprised that the mystery ended in first book when a trilogy was promised. I kind of thought it would stretch out towards the other two books.

Author Information:
(From goodreads.com)

born
April 19, 1973

gender
male

website

twitter username

genre

influences


About this author

Jac Wright is a published poet, a published author, and an electronics engineer educated at Stanford, University College London, and Cambridge who lives and works in England. Jac studied English literature from an early age of three, developing an intense love for poetry, drama, and writing in Speech & Drama classes taken every Saturday for fourteen years, and in subsequent creative writing classes taken during the university years. A published poet, Jac's first passion was for literary fiction and poetry writing as well as for the dramatic arts. You will find these influences in the poetic imagery and prose, as well as the in the dramatic scene setting and deep character creation.

These passions - for poetry, drama, literary fiction, and electronic engineering - have been combined to create the first book in the literary suspense series, The Reckless Engineer. There are millions of professionals in high tech corporate environments who work in thousands of cities in the US, the UK, and the world such as engineers, technicians, technical managers, investment bankers, and corporate lawyers. High drama, power struggles, and human interest stories play out in the arena every day. Yet there are hardly any books that tell their stories; there are not many books that they can identify with. Jac feels compelled to tell their stories in The Reckless Engineer series.

Jac also writes the literary short fiction series, Summerset Tales, in which Wright explores characters struggling against their passions and social circumstances in the semi-fictional region of contemporary England called Summerset, partly the region that Thomas Hardy called Wessex. Some of the tales have an added element of suspense similar to Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected. The collection is published as individual tales in the tradition of Geoffrey Chaucer's Caterbury Tales, Charles Dickens' The Pickwick Papers and Thomas Hardy's Wessex Tales. The first tale, The Closet, accompanies the first title in the author's full-length series, The Reckless Engineer.

Author Q&A Forum: Read With Jac Wright

Opinion:

This is a pretty impressive case of who did it, which is where the mystery lies. The story includes an interesting cast of characters, each having a motive for committing the horrible deed towards Michelle Williams and her unborn child. There is Jack's wife by the name of Caitlin, then Caitlin's ex and real love of her life, Jack's children, Caitlin's family members, and Jack's rejected lover that was bullied by him and Michelle by the name of Sally from Australia. Not until late in the book it is revealed as to who had done it and why. What I also liked was the lack of culture shock. While the book took place in England, it can be read and understood by anyone who knows the English language. I did have some confusion with the book, one is that I didn't understand what it meant when the case related to a crown? I also found it a bit comical when the suspected killers hired so many people to follow Michelle and Jack before the murder. I did have some trouble keeping in mind who's who in the book and their importance, such as Jeremy's friend the lawyer, although I understood why Jeremy got involved in the first place with the investigation. I also think its best to read this book in a few settings as possible so one won't get lost in the countless characters.

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

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

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

G240 Book Review of The House on the Cliff by Charlotte Williams

Name of Book: The House on the Cliff

Author: Charlotte Williams

ISBN: 978-0-06-228457-0

Publisher: Bourbon Street Books

Type of book: Mystery, Wales, England, modern times, relationships, cheating, double standard, death, murder

Year it was published: 2014

Summary:

One woman's quest to discover the dark secret at the heart of a family

Actor Gwydion Morgan's dramatic appearance at Jessica Mayhew's psychotherapy practice coincides with a turbulent time in her own life - her husband has just revealed that he's spent the night with a much younger woman. Gwydion, son of the famous Evan Morgan, is good looking and talented but mentally fragile, tormented by an intriguing phobia. Jessica is determined to trace the cause of his distress. So when his mother phones to say he is suicidal, Jessica decides to make a house call. The Morgans live in a grand cliff-top mansion overlooking a rocky bay with its own private jetty. It's a remote and somewhat sinister place. On her visit, Jessica finds out that an au pair who looked after Gwydion as a child drowned in the bay in mysterious circumstances. Could it be that Gwydion witnessed her death? In her quest to help her client, Jessica finds herself becoming embroiled in the Morgans' poisonous family dynamic. At the same time, she has to deal with the demands of her own domestic life: her struggle to keep her marriage intact, as well as her older daughter's increasingly defiant behaviour. And then, of course, there is the growing attraction she feels towards her new client . . .

Characters:

Jessica Mayhew, the main character of the novel as well as the protagonist has potential to be an interesting character, but unfortunately she tends to fail for me. She is best described as headstrong, resourceful and intelligent which should have made her a compelling character,but I guess the problems overshadowed me liking her. For one thing there is really lack of chemistry between her and another guy, and I also think that she and other characters hardly seemed well rounded.

Theme:

All fears have origins

Plot:

Its written in first person narrative from Jessica Mayhew's point of view. The book does introduce other subplots beside the fear of buttons such as the troubles between Jessica and her husband as well as one of her daughters growing up and making decisions that Jessica doesn't want her to make. I guess I hoped it would be a Gothic novel of sort, at least the cover promises that much, but it wasn't. I'm sorry that the book was a miss for me instead of a hit.

Author Information:
(from TLC)

After studying philosophy in college, Charlotte Williams went on to work as an arts journalist, writing for newspapers and magazines, and making documentaries for the BBC. She now works in radio drama, writing original plays and adaptations.
Visit Charlotte at her website.

Opinion:

In the recent past I've had positive experiences with reading mysteries and thrillers, at least when it came to The Alligator Man tour I've done back in November, or Night Game back in June, thus I hoped it would be the same experience with The House on the Cliff, but it wasn't. I really can't quite put my finger on why I didn't enjoy it as much as I hoped I would. I liked psychology parts of the book as well as interesting background and the fact its set in Wales and not in England. Perhaps some parts of the book were confusing for me, and I guess I found some of the romances a bit disturbing. I still am confused how buttons played into the role, and there seems to be lack of tension in the book. I also felt a bit removed from the characters and couldn't really connect or like anyone.

This is for TLC Book Tour

Charlotte’s Tour Stops

Wednesday, January 8th: Why Girls Are Weird
Thursday, January 9th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Monday, January 13th: The Infinite Shelf
Tuesday, January 14th: Dwell in Possibility
Wednesday, January 15th: Must Read Faster
Thursday, January 16th: A Bookworm’s World
Tuesday, January 21st: Giraffe Days
Wednesday, January 22nd: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Monday, January 27th: Kritters Ramblings
Tuesday, January 28th: BoundbyWords


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, January 21, 2014

Interview with Lynn Sholes

I'm sorry that this is late in coming, but I would like to thank the wonderful Lynn Sholes for taking time and answering these questions. Enjoy! You may find my review of her book here:

The Woman of the Mists

1. What inspired you to pen down Woman of the Mists?
 I always loved writing and then in high school we had an assembly and the guest speaker was James Mitchner. I was in awe and knew at that moment I wanted to be a writer. I kept putting it off for a very long time, always finding a reason that would keep me from devoting the time. When I finally did decide to take writing seriously (I went out and bought a computer, printer, and software) I was paralyzed because I realized I had no story to tell. Luckily I was working with the Broward County Archaeological Society, participating in digs and learning more and more about the ancient people who once lived in my backyard. One day I found an artifact that intrigued me and that became the seed idea for WOMAN OF THE MISTS.

2. What kind of research did you do to immerse yourself in the Native American world?
I spent a lot of time with the Broward County Archaeological Society working on Tequesta Indian sites. My mentor was a wonderful lady and knowledgeable archaeologist. As we worked she constantly taught me things about the culture. Once back at the museum I spent a lot of time sorting and identifying our finds. The society also had a wonderful reference library in which I often buried myself. The public library was also my friend along with archaeological publications such as The Florida Anthropologist. I read Jonathan Dickinson’s Journal, translations of Fontaneda’s memoir, and so many books and papers. I loved every minute of the research. Not only did I have to research the people, but also the indigenous plants and their properties. It was a wonderful adventure that still holds my passion.

3. What are your favorite books/authors?
I have so many and across many genres. Of course I would have to mention Jean Auel for prehistoric fiction. I also co-write thrillers with Joe Moore, so I have a lot of thriller writers that I enjoy, especially Doug Preston and Lincoln Child, and James Rollins.

4. What do you hope that the readers will take away from your Edge of the World Series?

I am a native Floridian and all through my education I never realized what a rich archaeological history Florida has. The only Native Americans of Florida that I knew about were the Seminoles and Miccosukee. When I realized that the indigenous people of Florida had been pretty much ignored during my education, I was shocked. When the opportunity to work with archaeologists came around, I plunged in. As I worked at gravesites, I saw the remains of adults and infants. They were interred with ceremony—by people who grieved wept at those graves, not savages. I came to understand their culture and their way of life, more and more. Every day in Florida, Indian sites were being bulldozed and nobody made a ruckus. I wondered what would happen if bulldozers suddenly showed up at a contemporary cemetery and started destroying Grandma’s resting place and scattering her remains. For sure there would be an outcry. So, when I wrote the series, my intent was to help readers understand that these early Floridians were just the same as us. They carved out an elaborate way of life in the Everglades, had a rich and spiritual culture, and experienced the same emotions as we do. I hoped to achieve this by bringing them to life on the page. I’ve been charged with romanticizing the Indians. I accept that because it is true. It was my intent. I wanted to entertain readers but also on my agenda was the idea that perhaps by creating awareness would aid in preserving the remaining sites so we might still learn more about them. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

G238 Book Review of Last Train to Paris by Michele Zackheim

Name of Book: Last Train to Paris

Author: Michelle Zackheim

ISBN: 978-1-60945-179-0

Publisher: Europa

Type of book: 1930s, Germany, America, reporting, escaping, Nazis, France, anti-Judaism, reminiscing, love, choices, fate, destiny

Year it was published: 2013

Summary:

Inspired by the story of a distant cousin who was murdered in Paris in 1937, award-winning author Michele Zackheim’s Last Train to Paris is a gripping epic about a half-Jewish female reporter from Nevada who writes for the Paris Courier in the 1930’s. The sole woman in the newsroom, she lives with both sexism and anti-Semitism. Then she meets Leo, a German radical and anti-Nazi and realizes that while Paris is interesting, the truly vital historical story is taking place across the border. Rose undertakes an assignment in the Berlin press office, where she is initially happy and in love until Kristallnacht and the growing threat of Nazism. When World War II is declared, Americans are forced to leave the country and Rose must make an agonizing choice: Who will go with her on the last train to Paris?

Zackheim, acclaimed author of Einstein’s Daughter, tells her story from vantage point of Rose as an elderly woman, Last Train to Paris is at once a historical epic, a love story, and a psychological portrait of one woman’s gradual discovery of who she really is after years of being invisible to herself.

Last Train to Paris will enthrall the same large audience that made In The Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson and Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky bestsellers.

Characters:

The main character would be Rose as well as her mother. Rose's mother is Jewish, while her father is Catholic, and she is best described as brave and willing to do whatever she can for those less fortunate than she. She is also ambitious and is determined to do whatever she can at all costs. There is a lot going on in the book which means that I didn't really get to know Rose or people surrounding her and I don't have a positive sense of her. Also, up until she is eight, she never knew she was Jewish. Rose's mother, Miriam, is best described as an enigma. She never liked being Jewish and did her best to distance herself from those roots. Miriam is selfish, self-hating Jew, and is willing to destroy her daughter's happiness at any cost. I honestly can't think of anything positive about her. There are a few other characters but they didn't play a huge role in the book like Rose and her mother have.

Theme:

Events are bigger than human struggles.

Plot:

Its written in first person narrative from Rose's point of view and takes place in Europe and in America, the particular years would be 1930s prior to Kristallnacht in Europe, how and why she became a reporter as well as trying to cope with being Jewish in this type of atmosphere and trying to deal with family she knows little about and so forth. Despite the first person narrative, I really do feel that I don't get to know Rose a lot, and I have to wonder whether or not she became more accepting of being Jewish or did she remain the same?

Author Information:
(from TLC)

Michele Zackheim is the author of four books.  Born in Reno, Nevada she grew up in Compton, California. For many years she worked in the visual arts as a fresco muralist, an installation artist, print-maker, and a painter. Her work has been widely exhibited and is included in the permanent collections of The National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.; The Albuquerque Museum; The Grey Art Gallery of New York University; The New York Public Library; The Hebrew Union College Skirball Museum, and The Carlsbad Museum of Art. She has been the recipient of two NEA awards, and teaches Creative Writing from a Visual Perspective at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Her first book, Violette’s Embrace, was published by Riverhead Books. That book is a fictional biography of the French writer Violette Leduc. Her second book, the acclaimed Einstein’s Daughter: The Search for Lieserl (Penguin Putnam, 1999), is a non-fiction account of the mystery of the lost illegitimate daughter of Mileva and Albert EinsteinBroken Colors (Europa Editions, 2007) is the story of an artist, whose life takes her to a place where life and art intersect. Her fourth novel, Last Train to Paris, will be published in January 2014. Zackheim lives in New York City.
Find out more about Michele at her website and connect with her on Facebook.
Opinion:

Historically speaking its an important fiction book because its not often that one sees or reads about an author that dares to tackle events prior to World War II, or else mentions the little known tidbits that the public doesn't know about such as forced sterilizations for children of mixed marriages, or how it all seemed to be an endless mess, and how some people did their best to hide their origins from others, which I understand why they did, but I still found it somewhat offensive. Unfortunately for me, the book was a bit messy because all too frequently the narrative was interrupted by older Rose who adds some commentary, then there seemed to be multiple plots that went on that I was confused about their significance to the story and I couldn't really decide what year she was in. I think the book needs to be read in a few settings as possible, or else needs to be read more than once to be understood in what's going on.

This is for TLC Book Tour

Michele’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, January 7th: Book-alicious Mama
Thursday, January 9th: Man of La Book
Friday, January 10th: Ageless Pages Reviews
Friday, January 10th: Diary of an Eccentric
Monday, January 13th: It’s All About Books
Thursday, January 16th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Monday, January 20th: Bibliotica
Tuesday, January 21st: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, January 22nd: Reflections of a Bookaholic
Thursday, January 23rd: Unabridged Chick
Monday, January 27th: A Bookish Way of Life
Tuesday, January 28th: Book Dilettante
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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