Friday, August 26, 2016

G557 Book Review of The Barefoot Queen by Ildefonso Falcones

Name of Book:The Barefoot Queen

Author: Ildefonso Falcones

ISBN: 978-0-8041-3948-9

Publisher: Crown

Type of book: Gypsies, revenge, slavery, freedom, 1748-1755, roundup, Spain, Barcelona, singing, opera, daily struggles, jail, loyalty, friendships, interracial relationship, May/December romance, fighting, smuggling

Year it was published: 2014


A historical epic full of bravery and romance that follows two women as they make a life for themselves in 18th-century Spain.

It's January of 1748. Caridad is a recently freed Cuban slave wondering the streets of Seville. Her master is dead and she has nowhere to go. When her path crosses with Milagros Carmona's-a young, rebellious gypsy-the two women are instantly inseparable. Milagros introduces Caridad to the gypsy community, an exotic fringe society that will soon change her life forever. Over time they each fall in love with men who are fiercely loyal and ready to fight to the death for their rights as a free people. When all gypsies are declared outlaws by royal mandate, life in their community becomes perilous. They soon find themselves in Madrid-a city of passion and dancing, but also a treacherous one full of smugglers and thieves. Caridad and Milagros must help in the gypsy's struggle against society and its laws in order to stay together; it's a dangerous battle that cannot, and will not, be easily won. From the tumultuous bustle of Seville to the theatres of Madrid, The Barefoot Queen is a historical fresco filled with charaters that live, love, suffer, and fight for what they believe.


There are a lot of characters, but the most important ones are Caridad, Milagros and Melchor. Caridad is a slave from Cuba who is also African. In beginning of the story she tends to be frightened and uncertain of her role and sees her destiny as extremely bitter. She has been abused and raped multiple times. She is also extremely talented with tobacco leaves and is loyal to those who care for her. She is also numb to all sorts of emotions. Milagros is Melchor's granddaughter, a beautiful and talented gypsy young girl who is sensual, headstrong and wants to do the best she can for others. She also has desires towards a forbidden man. Melchor is probably one of the most interesting and likable characters that I've encountered. He definitely defies the stereotype of being old and is known as El Galeote. He is a smuggler, tends to have nine lives and can survive just about anything. He is also very proud and never forgives wrongs.


There is beauty in ugliness


The story is in third person narrative, told primarily from Caridad's, Milagros's, and Melchor's points of view. Some other characters such as Pedro Garcia or Celeste also come in, but they only have brief point of views before disappearing. I am being honest in saying that it took me awhile to get into the story because I know next to nothing about Spain in 1700s, and the author gives a great detail of attention to the scenery and panorama of that time. I also enjoyed learning about the gypsies and was pleasantly surprised to be rooting for a romance that I never thought I'd root for. Almost towards the end the pacing of the plot speeds up and then slows down once more. It's a bittersweet book and it doesn't shy away from the ugliness of those living on the fringes of society. I also loved the slow developing romance between the two characters.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Ildefonso Falcones is a lawyer and internationally bestselling and award-winning author of Cathedral of the Sea, and The Hand of Fatima. With more than seven million copies sold, his previous work has been translated into more than forty languages worldwide. He lives in Barceloa with his family.


I regret that I didn't start reading the book sooner. While the size does look a bit overwhelming, and it did take me a bit to get into the story, but once the reader gets into the story, this is a experience that I don't think many will regret. Previously I've read some reviews about this book and there were complaints about the suffering of women in the novel, and that it's a bit dark. I do admit that these complaints do have value and they are true. At the same time, this novel is historical fiction, and the author just happened to be a little more true to the history by portraying the women the way he did. The women are far from being weak characters, but they are at the mercy of men and of society as well as various mores, which makes their destinies and lives sadder than they have to be.

This is for Blogging for 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.)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

G717 the real doctor will see you shortly a physician's first year

Title of the book: The real doctor will see you shortly a physician's first year

Author: Matt McCarthy

Publisher: Broadway Books

Publishing Date: 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8041-3867-3


In medical school, Matt McCarthy dreamed of being a different kind of doctor—the sort of mythical, unflappable physician who could reach unreachable patients. But when a new admission to the critical care unit almost died his first night on call, he found himself scrambling. Visions of mastery quickly gave way to hopes of simply surviving hospital life, where confidence was hard to come by and no amount of med school training could dispel the terror of facing actual patients.

This funny, candid memoir of McCarthy’s intern year at a New York hospital provides a scorchingly frank look at how doctors are made, taking readers into patients’ rooms and doctors’ conferences to witness a physician's journey from ineptitude to competence. McCarthy's one stroke of luck paired him with a brilliant second-year adviser he called “Baio” (owing to his resemblance to the Charles in Charge star), who proved to be a remarkable teacher with a wicked sense of humor. McCarthy would learn even more from the people he cared for, including a man named Benny, who was living in the hospital for months at a time awaiting a heart transplant. But no teacher could help McCarthy when an accident put his own health at risk, and showed him all too painfully the thin line between doctor and patient.

The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly offers a window on to hospital life that dispenses with sanctimony and self-seriousness while emphasizing the black-comic paradox of becoming a doctor: How do you learn to save lives in a job where there is no practice?

Author Info:
(From back of the book)

Matt McCarthy is an assistant professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical COllege and an assistant attending physician at new York-Presbyterian Hospital. He is the author of the New York Times bestselling Odd Man Out, and his work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Slate, The New England Journal of Medicine, and Deadspin.

Personal Opinion:

I'm neither a doctor nor a nurse, but I have been exposed to the world as a patient and I have been lucky to get the glimpse of this world through a class and some literature I read previously. All I can say its not an easy life that people choose when they decide to enter into the world, and it's a bit frigtening to see doctors as...well, humans who make mistakes but who do their best not to make mistakes. Its quite a pity that my boyfriend is not a reading type, else I'd recommend this book to him. This is both scary and consistent with what I learned about the world of medicine and I doubt that anyone will look at medicine the same way again once they dare to read this book.

I won this from librarything and gave my honest review. 

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

G752 Book Review of What might have been by Lynn Steward

Name of Book: What Might have been

Author: Lynn Steward

ISBN: 978-0-9915007-1-0

Publisher: self-published

Type of book: fashion, 1975, boutique, New York, upscale life, romance, recent divorce, forbidden love, travel, dreams, struggles, starting anew

Year it was published: 2014


It may be the dawn of the women’s movement, but, in the 1970s world of women’s fashion, there’s no sisterly-love. Newly single, Dana McGarry, determined to make her mark at New York’s most glamorous department store, is stymied by an unyielding boss and few opportunities. Tired of putting her life on hold, she moves out of her comfort zone and into the arms of a dynamic businessman, betting it all. Not unlike Coco Chanel, Dana’s wealthy suitor opens doors and opportunities, suggesting a bold fashion move to further her career, and, like Chanel, Dana “never wants to weigh more heavily on a man than a bird.” Their personal and professional relationship is put to the test, when a life is threatened, a secret is revealed, and her heart is broken

Intermingling fashion legends, iconic business women, real events, and untold stories of that time, The Dana McGarry Series is rich with historic content. In Dana’s world are spirited multi-generational women who are determined to succeed, and conflicted men who are keeping up appearances with secrets, lies, deception, and manipulation.

Would you like to see Dana McGarry novels turned into a TV series? Share your thoughts in a review! Thank you.


Main characters include Dana, an ambitious divorcee who is trying to move on with her life by focusing on making her dreams come true when it comes to work. She is very dedicated to work as well as to friends and family. Brett is Dana's ex-husband of eight years who cheated on her with Janice and who is also a lawyer. He is very ambitious when it comes to his job and isn't afraid of blackmail. Mark is Dana's new paramour whom she has known for a few years. He is older than she and is in his early 40s (Dana is about 30?) who has a teenage daughter and has quite a few secrets that he decided to omit when he began to date her. There is also Andrew Ricci, Dana's friend and co-worker who loves a married man; Dana's boss who shoots down her dreams and wants to live in the past and Johnny Cirone who has a very tantalizing offer for Dana.


Stop and smell the roses, don't despair


The story is told in third person narrative from everyone's point of view, and the events tend to move in a slow pace. The story-lines were definitely interesting and the reader keeps up a lot with the characters, be they protagonists or antagonists. However, I did feel that the conflicts tended to lack tension, although the pacing does make up for lack of tension. Also as well, the main protagonist, Dana, seems a little too perfect. That is, if one is to ask me what are some negative personality traits she has, aside from the fact she tends to be meek, I cannot think of any. The characters, I feel, were not explored well.

Author Information:

Lynn Steward, a veteran of the New York fashion industry and a buyer on the team that started the women’s department at Brooks Brothers, created the Dana McGarry series, set at a transformational time in the 1970s world of fashion and in the lives of multigenerational women. What Might Have Been is the second volume in the series. A Very Good Life, Steward’s debut novel, was published in March 2014. @LynnStewardNY


The story is definitely a slow read and I don't mean it in a negative way. Most of the time, my reads require deep thought, and it's pretty rare that I get a chance to read, relax and just not give a lot of thought to what I'm reading. However, in the book there are times that do require some deep thinking, but it's done very subtly that one hardly notices it's there. While I liked the pacing of the story as well as becoming involved in Dana's dream and learning more about high class world that she inhabits, what I didn't like is that the novel seemed a little too well done and perfect. There are conflicts, but there isn't urgency and those conflicts didn't have tension. Also as well, this book strongly reminded me of Evanthia's Gift by Effie Kamenou.

This review is for Author Assistant

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, August 22, 2016

Guest Post from Lynn Steward: Five Women that had strong impact on fashion industry

Strong women of fashion industry, past and present. Pick five women that made very significant contributions to fashion world. Thanks

Coco Chanel

Diana Vreeland

Diane von Furstenberg

Grace Mirabella

Anna Wintour


As a fashion buyer at one of New York’s most glamorous department stores, Dana McGarry is a tastemaker, her keen instinct for fashion trends and innovative ideas coupled with a razor sharp business sense. But like the elegant and conservative store that employs her, Dana is caught between two eras—between being liked and standing her ground, between playing by the rules and being a maverick. Dana is sensitive and beautiful, but what you see is not what you get. Behind the cool and attractive facade, Dana is both driven by her need to control yet impeded by her expectation of perfectionism. As she competes to replace women at the top of their game, she is challenged by jealous colleagues. And when a wealthy love interest wants to open doors and support her ambition, she embraces Coco Chanel’s mantra of “never wanting to weigh more heavily on a man than a bird.” As the women’s movement paves the way, Dana finds a path to the career she wants at the expense of happiness that was not meant to be.

Steward captures the nuances of 70s life in New York City and provides the perfect backdrop for an independent woman determined to make her mark. What Might Have Been is a story that transcends any period.

Title: What Might Have Been
Genre: Literary fiction/women’s fiction
Author: Lynn Steward


Lynn Steward, a veteran of the New York fashion industry and a buyer on the team that started the women’s department at Brooks Brothers, created the Dana McGarry series, set at a transformational time in the 1970s world of fashion and in the lives of multigenerational women. What Might Have Been is the second volume in the series. A Very Good Life, Steward’s debut novel, was published in March 2014. @LynnStewardNY

Monday, August 15, 2016

G731 Book Review of The ninja's daughter by Susan Spann

Name of Book: The Ninja's Daughter

Author: Susan Spann

ISBN: 978-1-63388-181-5

Publisher: Seventh Street Books

Part of a Series: Shinobi Mysteries

Type of book:Japan, 1565, Kyoto, samurai, mystery, murder, detective, priest, secrets, rivalry, siblings, clues, women's lives

Year it was published: 2016


Autumn, 1565: When an actor's daughter is murdered on the banks of Kyoto's Kamo River, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo are the victim's only hope for justice.

As political tensions rise in the wake of the shogun's recent death, and rival warlords threaten war, the Kyoto police forbid an investigation of the killing, to keep the peace--but Hiro has a personal connection to the girl, and must avenge her. The secret investigation leads Hiro and Father Mateo deep into the exclusive world of Kyoto's theater guilds, where they quickly learn that nothing, and no one, is as it seems. With only a mysterious golden coin to guide them, the investigators uncover a forbidden love affair, a missing mask, and a dangerous link to corruption within the Kyoto police department that leaves Hiro and Father Mateo running for their lives.


The main characters include Father Mateo who finally shares a secret with Hiro Hattori and who becomes determined to find Emi's killer. There is also Hiro Hattori, a shinobi in service to Father Mateo and has vowed to protect the priest with his life. He is determined and has a lot of scars from his past. There are also Chou, the older sister to the victim who only wants the life assigned for her, and Emi, the younger sister who wants a different life. Satsu is Hiro's uncle and has made a choice of hiding himself from the family.


Things are not what they seem


This is told in third person narrative from Hiro's point of view. The mystery, as always, is addictive and just like previous mysteries, the author chooses to dole out little bits about the character, but she doesn't focus a lot on the characters. This time the secondary characters, in particularly Satsu's family, are far more compelling for me than Hiro and Father Mateo, although I liked finding out Mateo's secret one can say.

Author Information:
(From HFVBT)


About the Author03_Susan Spann

Susan Spann is the author of three previous novels in the Shinobi Mystery series: Claws of the Cat, Blade of the Samurai, and Flask of the Drunken Master. She has a degree in Asian Studies and a lifelong love of Japanese history and culture. . When not writing, she works as a transactional attorney focusing on publishing and business law, and raises seahorses and rare corals in her marine aquarium.
For more information please visit Susan Spann’s website. You can also follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.


Previously I read and reviewed Blade of the Samurai and Flask of the Drunken Master, which are books 2 and 3 in the Shinobi Mysteries, and I still feel that with each successive novel, the author becomes more and more confident in writing and telling the mysteries and doling out small pieces of our heroes, the shinobi (ninja) Hiro Hattori, and the Jesuit priest Father Mateo. Along with mysteries, the reader is also told a bit about Japanese culture, and this story deals with the Japanese Kabuki plays. Its a quick and fast read, and although previously I felt that the books are good as stand-alone series, this time I will say that I recommend the previous books be read because some characters from previous books do show up, and there is something important uncovered that wasn't mentioned how in this book.

This is for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, July 25
Review at The Readers Hollow
Review & Giveaway at Lampshade Reader
Tuesday, July 26
Review at Reading the Past
Wednesday, July 27
Review at Nerd in New York
Thursday, July 28
Spotlight at Cafinated Reads
Spotlight at Susan Heim on Writing
Friday, July 29
Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Monday, August 1
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Tuesday, August 2
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Review at Booklover Book Reviews
Wednesday, August 3
Guest Post at Diana’s Book Reviews
Friday, August 5
Spotlight at The Bookaholic Swede
Sunday, August 7
Review at Carole’s Ramblings
Monday, August 8
Spotlight at What Is That Book About
Tuesday, August 9
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Wednesday, August 10
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Friday, August 12
Spotlight at Laura’s Interests
Spotlight at Life of a Female Bibliophile
Monday, August 15
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, August 16
Review at Writing the Renaissance
Guest Post at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Wednesday, August 17
Review at Book Nerd
Interview at Writing the Renaissance
Thursday, August 18
Review at Layered Pages
Friday, August 19
Spotlight at Christy’s Cozy Corners
Monday, August 22
Review at Queen of All She Reads
Guest Post & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More
Tuesday, August 23
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Wednesday, August 24
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog
Thursday, August 25
Spotlight at The Recipe Fairy
Friday, August 26
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

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.)

G742 Book Review of The lady of the tower by Elizabeth St. John

Name of Book: The Lady of the Tower

Author: Elizabeth St. John

ISBN: 9781523417889

Publisher: self published

Type of book: history, England, Frances Howard, George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, war, El Dorado, 1603-1630, slaves, Walter Raleigh, destruction, greed, corruption, tranquility, family, relationships, rivalry

Year it was published: 2015


Orphaned Lucy St.John, described as "the most beautiful of all," defies English society by carving her own path through the decadent Stuart court. In 1609, the early days of the rule of James I are a time of glittering pageantry and cutthroat ambition, when the most dangerous thing one can do is fall in love . . . or make an enemy of Frances Howard, the reigning court beauty. Lucy catches the eye of the Earl of Suffolk, but her envious sister Barbara is determined to ruin her happiness. Exiling herself from the court, Lucy has to find her own path through life, becoming mistress of the Tower of London. Riding the coattails of the king's favorite, the Duke of Buckingham, the fortunes of the St.Johns rise to dizzying heights. But with great wealth comes betrayal, leaving Lucy to fight for her survival-and her honor-in a world of deceit and debauchery. Elizabeth St.John tells this dramatic story of love, betrayal, family bonds and loyalty through the eyes of her ancestor Lucy and her family's surviving diaries, letters and court papers.


Main characters include Lucy St. John, the youngest child in her family who desires a life of peace and tranquility. She is without malice and refuses to play court games or courtly love. She is considered the most beautiful of her sisters and is a Calvinist. There is also Barbara, Lucy's older sister who is extremely manipulative, two-faced and isn't above using family to get what she desires or to get ahead even. Earl of Suffolk is Lucy's paramour and despite his words cannot break away from the court. Frances Howard becomes a favorite but at the same time doesn't realize that once a star rises it has to fall. George Villiers becomes Duke of Buckhingham and is best described as manipulative, possibly homosexual, and often thinks more of himself than anyone else. Anne is Lucy's best friend and is her brother's wife. She serves as a mediator between Lucy and her brother John and often backs Lucy up in her endeavors.


Corruption and greed ultimately lead to one result


The story is in first person narrative from Lucy's point of view. I honestly loved reading the story because she starts out in beginning of King James I reign, of when Queen Elizabeth passed away, and from then on we watch through Lucy's eyes as England begins to head for destruction through greed and corruption. Yet also, through Lucy, the reader learns what is going on in the court and how that is leading to the ultimate result.

Author Information:
(From HFVBT)



“Elizabeth St.John has brought the early Stuart Court in the years before the English Civil War vividly to life.” – Historical Novel Society Review
“Elizabeth St.John offers great drama and intrigue in her compelling debut novel The Lady of the Tower.” – M.K. Tod, author of Lies Told in Silence
“The Lady of the Tower is a good combination of a historical romance that is well researched, with the added spice of the author being directly related to the heroine.” – Tobsha Learner, best-selling author of The Witch of Cologne

About the Author03_Elizabeth St. John

Elizabeth St.John was brought up in England and lives in California. To inform her writing, she has tracked down family papers and sites from Nottingham Castle, Lydiard Park, and the British Library to Castle Fonmon and The Tower of London. Although the family sold a few castles and country homes along the way (it’s hard to keep a good castle going these days), Elizabeth’s family still occupy them – in the form of portraits, memoirs, and gardens that carry their imprint. And the occasional ghost. But that’s a different story…
Elizabeth is currently writing a sequel to The Lady of the Tower, following the fortunes of the St.John family during the English Civil War. The working title is “By Love Divided”, and it is due to publish in early 2017.
For more information, please visit Elizabeth St. John’s website. You can connect with Elizabeth on Facebookand Goodreads.


While I was reading this story, I couldn't help but think about my favorite historical fiction; the sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie which is about a family of sisters becoming involved with King Louis XV as well as the intrigues and destruction of relationships that they entailed. There is one sister in Sisters of Versailles that did not become involved with the court or the intrigues, Hortense, and I couldn't help but compare Lucy St. John with Hortense, especially how different her life is from that of her sisters. I also was surprised by the fact that corruption, no matter what century it happened, is the same. This book has helped me understand what happened in England during 17th century and why British Civil War has occurred. I really hope the author writes more stories about her ancestors in England because I'm really looking forward to reading them.

This is for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, August 8
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Review at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf
Tuesday, August 9
Review, Excerpt & Giveaway at The Silver Dagger Scriptorium
Wednesday, August 10
Review at A Holland Reads
Thursday, August 11
Review at Book Nerd
Friday, August 12
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Interview & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More
Saturday, August 13
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Sunday, August 14
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Monday, August 15
Review at A Book Drunkard
Interview at The Maiden’s Court

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.)

G704 Pregnancy Childbirth and the Newborn The Complete Guide

Title of the book: Pregnancy Childbirth and the Newborn The Complete Guide

Author:Penny Simkin

Publisher: Meadowbrook Press

Publishing Date: 2016

ISBN: 978-1-501-11270-6


If you only buy one pregnancy book, this should be the one! It’s the most complete. It covers all aspects of childbearing, from conception through early infancy, and tells you what to expect. It offers detailed information, suggestions on decisions to make, and advice on steps to take to have a safe and satisfying experience.

The Award-Winning Resource Recommended by Experts & Loved by Parents

Parents love this book because it puts them in control by explaining a wide range of options, information, and questions to ask, so parents can find what works best for their health situation, personal goals, and priorities.

Experts love this book because it’s based on the latest medical research and recommendations from leading health organizations. It’s practical—rooted in the real-life experiences of new families. The five authors bring a combined total of 150 years of experience working with expectant and new families as educators, nurses, counselors, doulas, physical therapists, and lactation consultants. They have attended hundreds of births, heard thousands of birth stories, and assisted innumerable new parents in adapting to their new lives. Not only that, the authors have a combined total of 12 children and 12 grandchildren. All of this experience allows them to write with compassion, understanding, and wisdom based on what really works in the real-world of parenting.

The companion website offers even more details on select subjects, including lists of all the best resources on each topic and worksheets to guide parents’ decision-making process. The website also includes a bonus chapter on pre-conception, which provides ways to improve your health and fertility before pregnancy begins.

Author Info:

Penny Simkin, a physical therapist, has been a childbirth educator and doula since 1968. She trains childbirth educators, doulas, and doula trainers and frequently conducts workshops for doctors, nurses,  and other medical professionals

Personal Opinion:

I got this book on March 9th, 2016, a few weeks short of finishing up my first pregnancy. Having literally read this book cover to cover, I honest to gods wish I had known of it from the start of my pregnancy. Its very helpful, and something I found myself referring to even after my own son was born for various tips. I do regret that I didn't stick to some of the guns I should have, and that after the child's birth, I didn't read this fully for post-partum information which would have been very helpful, especially almost two months later when I had to go back to the hospital again. What I didn't like when it comes to this book is that its an ARC which means no page numbers throughout the copy I have and no index at the end which will make things easier to look up. Also, if you're looking for a book that focuses heavily on baby's growth, I would still focus on either what to expect when you're expecting or pregnancy weekly guide or the the pregnancy journal because the information about baby development is very scant in the book.

This is for Librarything Early Reviewer program

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.)

Sunday, August 7, 2016

G726 Book Review of Loreena's gift by Colleen m. Story

Name of Book: Loreena's Gift

Author: Colleen M Story

ISBN: 978-1-938103-47-6

Publisher:  Dzanc Books

Type of book: Idaho, 1967, angel of mercy, kill, secrets, blindness, church, family, siblings, gangs, selling out, kidnapped

Year it was published: 2016



Loreena Picket thinks she knows herself. A blind young woman who lives with her uncle, a reverend at a small-town church, she's a dutiful niece and talented pianist for the congregation.

But they're both hiding a terrible secret. Loreena can kill people with the touch of her hand.

While her uncle sees her as an angel of mercy, helping usher the terminally ill members of his flock into the afterlife, Loreena has her doubts.

Torn between doing her uncle's bidding and the allure of the fleeting moments when her eyesight returns on the journey to the other side, Loreena cooperates with her uncle until her troubled older brother returns to town. When she reveals her power by saving him from a local drug dealer, she is drawn into a sinister and dangerous world that will test the true nature of her talent and force her to consider how far she is willing to go to survive.

An exciting debut that crosses fantasy and literary fiction, Loreena's Gift is a thought-provoking meditation on life and death and what ultimately lies beyond this world.


Main characters include Loreena, a young blind woman who only knows church, her uncle and her terrible gift. Loreena is an orphan and she is also close to her uncle and desires to have a good relationship with her older brother. She is best described as naive, resourceful and determined to do what she can, even if she doesn't want to do it. Loreena's older brother is best described as rebellious and someone who gets into trouble. He is not close to the uncle and does things he might regret. Dominic is Loreena's love interest and has a good sense of humor as well as an easy-going personality and he cares for Loreena very deeply. He also has his own secret that he hides from Loreena. There are other characters such as the gang members, or the man that is helpful to Loreena as well as the woman Mrs. Markos who is best described as resigned to her life.


Afterlife is a personal choice


The story is in third person narrative from Loreena's point of view. I have to admire that the author chose for the character to be blind, thus eliminating the descriptions of colors and whatever else sight provides. There are a few times that the author goofs up though, or where I have to wonder on how much Loreena can see and how much she can sense which is not clear for me in the story.

Author Information:
(From iRead Book Tours)

Meet the Author:

​Colleen M. Story writes imaginative fiction and is also a freelance writer, instructor, and motivational speaker specializing in creativity, productivity, and personal wellness. Her latest novel, "Loreena’s Gift," was released with Dzanc Books April 12 2016. Her fantasy novel, "Rise of the Sidenah," is a North American Book Awards winner, and New Apple Book Awards Official Selection (Young Adult). She is the founder of Writing and Wellness ( a motivational site for writers and other creatives. 

Connect with the author:  Website  ~ Twitter  


To be honest, I am rating the book as 3.5 stars, which I am rounding up to 4 stars. In quite a few cases, I enjoyed reading magical realism/ supernatural novels, and while there are parts that strongly appealed to me such as the scenes between Loreena and her love interest as well as the scenes where she is with her family, the main parts about her gift or her life with a local gang seems to lose that sparkle. What I also found a bit frustrating was the beginning of the summary because it caused me to think that with each soul Loreena ferries, she regains her eyesight permanently, but in fact she regains her eyesight temporarily on the other side which caused me to be disappointed. In an odd way as well the story reminded me of Remember Me by Christopher Pike because both deal with afterlife and how it appears to themselves as well as others.

This is for iRead Book Tours


July 18 - Cheryl's Book Nook - review / author interview / giveaway
July 18 - Bound 4 Escape - review
July 19 - Writing Pearls - review
July 19 - Jayne's Books - review
July 20 - Young In Rome - review
July 20 - And the Buck Starts Here - review
July 21 - Writers and Authors - book spotlight / guest post
July 22 - Corinne Rodrigues - review
July 22 - 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! - review / giveaway
July 25 - A Bookaholic Blog - review
July 25 - Nighttime Reading Center - review / author interview / giveaway
July 26 - JBronder Book Reviews - review / guest post
July 27 - T's Stuff - review / guest post / giveaway
July 27 - Book reviews nature photos and everything in between - review
July 28 - Sahar's Blog - review
​July 29 - Life as Leels - review
July 29 - The Autistic Gamer - review
Aug 1 -    Bookishly Devoted - review
Aug 1 -    Olio By Marilyn - review / author interview
Aug 2 -    Heidi's Wanderings - review / giveaway
Aug 2 -    Bookaholic Banter  - review / author interview / giveaway
Aug 3 -    Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers - review
Aug 4 -    The Travelogue of a Book Addict - The Book Drealms - review / giveaway
Aug 4 -    bookmyopia - review / giveaway
Aug 5 -    Svetlana's Reads and Views - review
Aug 5 -    Jessica Cassidy - review / author interview / 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.)
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