Thursday, May 25, 2017

G871 Book Review of Long Black Veil by Jennifer Finney Boylan

Name of Book: Long Black Veil

Author: Jennifer Finney Boylan

ISBN: 978-0-451-49632-4

Publisher: Crown

Type of book: Transgender characters, pretentious, Maine, Pennsylvania, religion, forgiveness, 1980, staying the same, never growing, reunion, death, secrets, friendship

Year it was published: 2017

Summary:

From the New York Times bestselling author of She’s Not There, a new novel about a woman whose family and identity are threatened by the secrets of her past.

Long Black Veil is the story of Judith Carrigan, whose past is dredged up when the body of her college friend Wailer is discovered 20 years after her disappearance in Philadelphia’s notorious and abandoned Eastern State Penitentiary. Judith is the only witness who can testify to the innocence of her friend Casey, who had married Wailer only days before her death.

The only problem is that on that fateful night at the prison, Judith was a very different person from the woman she is today. In order to defend her old friend and uncover the truth of Wailer’s death, Judith must confront long-held and hard-won secrets that could cause her to lose the idyllic life she’s built for herself and her family.

Characters:

Ooh boy, where do I start with the characters? Pretty much all of them seemed like pretentious snobs to me, as well as selfish and broken. Judith carries a dark secret that she fears revealing to people she knows. She strikes me as selfish, cruel and thoughtless, especially how the secret affects those closest to her. Quentin, as frequently pointed out, is not himself at all and the biggest giveaway is that he refuses to have sex with another character and often loves imitating famous characters. Other characters, unfortunately are only given very thin veneer from which we can try to understand them: Rachel is a former painter but is now an art professor who couldn't get over Quentin nor Backflip Bob (Seriously?) Maisie is a wealthy woman who tutors special needs kids in piano and who regrets her history, Casey is a 300 lb man who seems to desire to give other people heart attack through cooking, then there is Tripper a wealthy lawyer, Ben, an autistic teenager who is painted as creepy, and Judith's family of her firefighter husband as well as her adopted son Falcon.

Theme:

I read the book from cover to cover and have no idea what lesson I should have learned; to be compassionate to others? Don't question their pasts?

Plot:

The story is told in third person as well as first person point of view. I understand that when it comes to first person point of view the author wants the reader to be close and to understand Judith, but it's done extremely awkwardly. What are supposed to be secrets that Judith keeps lose momentum and are disappointing to say the least, especially the fact that she doesn't seem to have sympathy towards anyone but herself. The last half of the book completely fell apart for me and the writing began sounding very amateurish in my point of view. (It's really not a good sign when I'm beginning to think of how I can improve the writing as well as the story.) Once in a while the book does have great quote and messages, but they are lost in the clunky plot and writing.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Professor Jennifer Finney Boylan, author of fourteen books, is the inaugural Anna Quindlen Writer-in-Residence at Barnard College of COlumbia University. She also serves as the national cochair of the board of directors GLAAD. She ahs been a contributing writer for the Op-Ed page of hte New York Times since 2013. Jenny also served on the board of trustees of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction and is a special advisor to the president of Colby College in Maine.

She lives in New York City and in Belgrade Lakes, Maine, with her wife Deedie, and their two sons, Zach and Sean.

Opinion:

From the description of the book, I expected it to be a well-written psychological thriller that examines the secrets the characters keep from one another, but instead I had no idea what in nine hells I've read. When I learned what the twist was, I thought, interesting, I hadn't read books about transgender characters before (closest was Nadia Hashimi's The Pearl that broke its shell as well as the Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin, both 5 star reads on my blog.) When I noticed that the praise was coming from Jodi Picoult, I should have listened to my intuition closely; Jodi Picoult's and mine tastes don't match. Anything she praises, I am destined to dislike. I began to read the book; at first I found the story to be well put and captivating, especially when the author attempts to build community that Judith integrates herself. When I learned about the twist, I had hoped to learn more about transgender characters and their thought processes; what is it like? how is it being different than just being unhappy with your body? I think I hoped and expected way too much from the book, and the author failed to deliver on my expectations. From about the middle towards the end, the story became incredibly awkward and clunky as well as cringe-worthy. Seriously, the characters are in their 50s but they didn't move on with their lives? They just stayed frozen from 1980s up until modern times? The climax of the book is cut away unfortunately and it's tied up way too neatly. All in all, a disappointing read.

This is for Blogging for Books

1 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, May 23, 2017

G856 Book Review of Under the approaching dark by Anna Belfrage

Name of Book: Under the Approaching Dark

Author: Anna Belfrage

ISBN: 978-1-78803-509-5

Publisher: Matador Books

Type of book: England, Edward III, 1327-1328, medieval life, marriage, relationships, family, loyalty, revenge, secrets, Queen Isabella, Roger Mortimer, power,

Year it was published: 2017

Summary:

Adam de Guirande has cause to believe the turbulent times are behind him: Hugh Despenser is dead and Edward II is forced to abdicate in favour of his young son. It is time to look forward, to a bright new world in which the young king, guided by his council, heals his kingdom and restores its greatness. But the turmoil is far from over.

After years of strife, England in the early months of 1327 is a country in need of stability, and many turn with hope towards the new young king, Edward III. But Edward is too young to rule, so instead it is his mother, Queen Isabella, and her lover, Roger Mortimer, who do the actual governing, much to the dislike of barons such as Henry of Lancaster.

In the north, the Scots take advantage of the weakened state of the realm and raid with impunity. Closer to court, it is Mortimer’s increasing powers that cause concerns – both among his enemies, but also for men like Adam, who loves Mortimer dearly, but loves the young king just as much.

When it is announced that Edward II has died in September of 1327, what has so far been a grumble grows into voluble protests against Mortimer. Yet again, the spectre of rebellion haunts the land, and things are further complicated by the reappearance of one of Adam’s personal enemies. Soon enough, he and his beloved wife Kit are fighting for their survival – even more so when Adam is given a task that puts them both in the gravest of dangers.

Characters:

Main characters include Kit and Adam, a married couple. Adam is a minor knight who has confidence of Lord Roger Mortimer, while Kit is an illegitimate daughter of Thomas de Montmouth. Both are brave, resourceful and worship the ground one another walks on. I have to say that I admire their marriage and love them as a couple. Other characters include Lord Roger Mortimer and Queen Isabella who are dangerously drawn to one another, then Edward III Queen Isabella's son who is chafing at the control his mother exhibits over him, Geofrey de Boseley, Hugh Despenser's former man who wants revenge, Kit's half sister Alicia and so forth. I understand its 14th century and that the names are common, but I had trouble with some of the characters and remembering their personalities because they had similar names to one another. The characters are all drawn well and somehow the story is more believable than unbelievable.

Theme:

Life goes on

Plot:

The story is in third person narrative from Adam's and Kit's point of view. In my opinion, historical details are nicely done because they aren't overwhelming to a reader but when she does use them, they add more dimension to the story and it's as if the reader lives in 14th century with Adam and Kit. I do think that there are a bit too much sexual scenes, and sometimes I wished that the years would have been marked a bit clearly because I wasn't sure how much time has passed between last winter and next winter so to speak.

Author Information:
(From the book)

When Anna is not stuck in the 14th century, chances are she'll be visiting int he 17th century, more specificially with Alex and Matthew Graham, the protagonists of the best-selling, multiple award winning series The Graham Saga. This series is the story of two people who should never have met- not when she was born three centuries after him. A fast-paced blend of love, drama and adventure, The Graham Saga will carry you from Scotland tot he New World and back again.

For more information about Anna and her books, please visit www.annabelfrage.com or pop by her blog https://annabelfrage.wordpress.com

Opinion:

Prior to reading three of her The King's Greatest Enemies series, I've only read one book by her in the Graham Saga which I've found to be sweet and well-written, but it wasn't able to capture my attention as I hoped. (Guess I'm not big on time travel, unfortunately.)  These series, however, are a completely different breed than to Graham Saga. They captured me, kept me reading and wondering what is going in the story. The series is perfect for those who are only starting out in historical fiction because a lot of focus is on the couple, Kit and Adam and historical detail isn't overwhelming. What is also neat is the showing of daily life through seasons and passage of time which means the reader will not overwhelmed and can relax as the author makes 14th century history to be clear for any reader. Yes, I do feel that previous two books are necessary to be read, but they add more to enjoyment of the story rather than detract it. Also, a quick note, but I feel that I can at last understand the cause and reason for 100 Years War.

This is for HFVBT

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, May 19, 2017

G864 Book Review of seeing double by Nancy j Alexander

Name of Book: Seeing Double

Author: Nancy J. Alexander

ISBN: 9781512160291

Publisher: NJA Productions

Type of book: Jewish main characters, Israel, modern times, secrecy, missions, spying, terrorist cult, charisma, family, siblings, relationships, Lebanon

Year it was published: 2015

Summary:

"A chill ran up her spine, triggering an alarm that spread through her system. Her eyes studied him as his eyes studied her. In the recesses of her mind, a fragment of a memory tingled...a tiny blip from long ago. An image spiraled, then vanished. There was something about this young man, this Ari Ben Aviv. There was something about him she couldn't pinpoint."

On the heels of her last mystery, Elisabeth's new patient is more than meets the eye, and unraveling his secrets will throw her team into a desert storm of double agents and religious extremists. All that stands between love and ware are two families, two brothers, and two conflicting versions of the truth.

Characters:

The characters will be a bit difficult for me: one of the characters is Elisabeth, a woman who is a psychologist, but at the same has dealings with some covert groups. There is also Ari who has secrets of his own, a young man Rafi who is trying to connect to a local terrorist cult leader to bring him down, Hadara, Ari's and Samira's mother who also has her own mission, then her Lebanese husband and in-laws who have their own issues with a girl being kidnapped, let's also not forget the other side as well. The characters are given only small backgrounds which are not complex nor drawn out, thus it made it difficult for me to connect with the characters.

Theme:

I've read the book from cover to cover and am not certain what I should have learned from the story; that too many things happen all at once?

Plot:

The story is written in third person narrative from what seems to be everyone's point of view. Besides the idea of having Jewish main characters who are in control of their destinies and the intrigue and how high stakes the job is, I'm honestly uncertain what the strengths of the book are: when it comes to characters, they are given only perfunctory backgrounds and I wasn't able to connect with any of them. With the plot, way too much is going on all at once, and its not one or two story-line strands, but way too many in fact. There is the story of Ari's mission, Hadara's mission, a kidnapped child, a young man trying to ingratiate himself into the cult, attempt to trace nuclear weapons and find the informant, dealing with kidnapping, and so forth., Previously I've read quite a few books where authors can pull off multiple story strands with no issues, but this is one where I feel that the author cannot do it.

Author Information:
(From iRead Book Tours)

Nancy J Alexander
Meet the author:

​Love of the mystery/thriller genre combines with psychotherapy training and experience to produce an emotionally supercharged dramatic novel. Nancy Alexander has devoted much of her professional life to helping survivors of childhood trauma; their distress has been ingrained and works to create characters who give voice to their plight. To analyze the evil minds that prey on others and the intricacies of law enforcers who pursue them seemed a natural interlacing of professional, literary and creative interests.

Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook
Opinion:

I feel horrible for giving the book 2 stars, but then I didn't enjoy the story and found it confusing as well as frustrating. There are things I liked about the story, namely that this is a book that has Jewish main characters that are drawn not as victims but as men and women who are in control of their destinies, which is a very rare find in literature of any kind. I also liked the mystery and intrigue that were built into the narrative as well as the fact that the story does not take place in WWII nor does it focus on Holocaust. (Holocaust is important and I'm not disparaging it, but I want for Judaism to be seen in all the sides, not just be tied with WWII and Holocaust) Unfortunately what I did not enjoy about the story is that I couldn't connect to the characters in any sort of way, not even a cursory one. I understand that not all good novels are character-driven, and sometimes novels that are plot-driven are also written well, but usually the plot has to be written well in order for me to overlook the lack of characters. In this case, I'm afraid, the plot of the story isn't written well in my view, and neither are the characters.

This is for iRead Book Tours

BOOK TOUR SCHEDULE:

May 8 -   Working Mommy Journal - review / giveaway
May 8 -   Over the hills and far away - book spotlight / giveaway
May 9 -   Library of Clean Reads - book spotlight / giveaway
May 9 -   Leels Loves Books - review
May 10 - Rockin' Book Reviews - review / guest post / giveaway
May 11 - A Mama's Corner of the World - review / giveaway
May 12 - NorthernMSW - review 
May 16 - Olio by Marilyn - review / author interview
May 17 - Celticlady's Reviews - book spotlight / giveaway
May 17 - The World As I See It - review / giveaway
May 18 - Rainy Day Reviews - review / author interview
May 19 - Svetlana's Reads and Views - review
May 23 - Bound 4 Escape - review / giveaway
May 24 - Bookaholic Banter - review / author interview / giveaway
May 24 - JBronder Book Reviews - review / guest post / giveaway
May 25 - Books for Books - review
May 26 - Jessica Cassidy - review / author interview / giveaway

2 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, May 16, 2017

G869 Book Review of It happens in the Hamptons by Holly Peterson

Name of Book: It Happens in the Hamptons

Author: Holly Peterson

ISBN: 978-0-06-239150-6

Publisher: 2017

Type of book: 2017, summer, New York, Hamptons, new money, old money, secrets, wealth, satire, local residents, legal dealings, single motherhood, flirting, romance, teenagers, children, scandals

Year it was published: 2017

Summary:

In the Hamptons, the everyday people are as complicated and fascinating as the millionaires...

When Katie Doyle moves across the country to the Hamptons, she is hoping for summer employment, new friends for her young son, and a chance to explore a new love affair with a dazzling investor. What she finds is a strange cocktail of classes, where society’s one-percenters vacation alongside local, hard-working people who’ve lived in the Hamptons for generations. Though she’s looking forward to their move, Katie is wary about mingling with her boyfriends’ East Coast elite circles. She soon discovers Southampton isn’t all that it seems to be on the surface—and neither are the people who live there.

As George takes Katie on a whirlwind tour of country clubs, haute couture, and lavish events, she is amazed to witness sudden whims become dire needs, extra-marital affairs blossoming right and left, and people purchase friends and loyalties like a pair of shoes. Even the middle-class townspeople maintain a determined façade while maneuvering like sharks among the wealthy summer invaders.

The more Katie becomes immersed, the more she learns the secrets of both the upstairs and downstairs, the upper crust and middle of the road. The combustion between the classes becomes explosive as the summer tears on. Betrayals, a sexual predator, and a missing person lost in murky waves drive the reader on a racing Learjet ride through impossible twists and turns until landing at the shocking conclusion. When she meets Luke, a local surfer and middle school teacher, he makes her question what it is she really wants as she understands the life she’s begun for herself is built on shifting Hamptons’ dunes.

Characters:

There are quite a lot of characters, thus I will go over a few main ones: one is Katie Doyle, a single mother of 29 who has recently lost her mother and who also has a son named Huck. She is asked by her "boyfriend" George to move to Hamptons for a little bit. George Porter, in beginning, is best seem as sort of a dream come true for Katie, but there is something off that prevents Katie from liking him. He also treats Katie by being hot and cold with little to no explanation. Luke Forester is a surfing instructor who also happens to be a year round resident of the Hamptons. He is knowledgeable, good with children, and extremely likable. Jake Chase is the new money who loves flaunting the wealth he has earned. He is generous, big hearted, extremely busy and has a short attention span. His wife Julie likes to play with fire and is obsessed with decorating and working out. Alexa is the only daughter, a sixteen year old girl who thinks she has everything figured out. Kona is Luke's friend, half Hawaiian half Norweigian who loves women and who is not afraid of playing with fire.

Theme:

It's possible to find things that can unite everyone

Plot:

The story is written in third person narrative from an omniscient point of view. There is very little warning to when the point of view changes, but its a minor issue because the characters and their personalities are bound to leave a mark as one finishes reading. I do think that some minor plotlines are not solved, such as at one point, one of the married women sleeps with a mysterious stranger yet I am not sure how that relates to the larger story arc. The novel's strong points include the characters, the lifestyle and clashing between the three classes, and I also enjoyed the satire of how women from wealth were painted.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Holly Peterson is the authro of The Idea of Him and the New York TImes and international bestseller THe Manny. She was a contributing editor for Newsweek and editor-at-large for Talk Magazine. Prior to those positions, she was an Emmy Award-winning producer for ABC news where, for more than a decade, she covered everything from foreign coups to domestic trials of the century. her writing has been published in the New York Times, Newsweek, Town and Country, Vogue, Departures, and other publications.

Opinion:

The novel is a compulsively readable narrative of mystery, light summer fun, and the lifestyles of new money, old money and the year round residents of the Hamptons, and it kept me guessing at where it will take a turn. Some of the characters are both quirky and screwed up. For me it was difficult to make up my mind on whether or not I should like them because at one point they are likable and are trying hard, yet on the other hand they seem to lack understanding on how the other half lives, and I speak to both the haves and the have-nots. I also am curious if the picture of how the wealthy kids live is an accurate one. I also sense that the author tried to make it a satire, especially of the established elite and the newly elite because some of  the characters from these classes are drawn in an exaggerated fashion. I do think that a few minor plot points aren't resolved as well, and I do think that Katie's struggles as a single mother aren't drawn as accurately as I had hoped, but its something I'm willing to overlook. For a modern day Edith Wharton, don't miss out this read!

This was given to me for an 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.)

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

G393 Book Review of Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Name of Book: Landline

Author: Rainbow Rowell

ISBN: 978-1-250-04937-7

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Type of book: 2013, christmas, juvenile, marriage, "adult" family, LGBT supporting character, relationships, career, love

Year it was published: 2014

Summary:

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble; it has been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems beside the point now.

Maybe that was always beside the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn't expect him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts...

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

Characters:

Rainbow Rowell attempted to make the characters well rounded, but if one compares them to Eleanor and Park, she truly fails in this book. The characters are flat, annoying, and boring in my opinion. Georgie is a woman who is driven by her work at the expense of her family. Her husband Neal is aimless, directionless who also happens to be a stay-at-home husband and is raising their two daughters, Alice and Naomi "Noomi". He is from Nebraska and is not a likable character at all. There is also Seth, a red-haired writing partner to Georgie with whom he shares a chemistry of sorts and is also a playboy. Alice and Noomi are Georgie's daughters, Alice older and sensible while Noomi thinks of herself as a cat. Georgie's family, in particular her mother, stepfather who is only three years older and her sister Heather also play a role in the book, but again, not memorable or likable.

Theme:

No idea what it should have been

Plot:

The story is in third person narrative from Georgie's point of view, and it reads a bit like an annoying cheesy christmas special that I never watched. Most of the sentences are either fragmented or begin with "and" the story seems to be more suited for YA instead of adult, and also its very predictable and somehow unbelievable. At the end, I wonder, what is the point of this story? What should I have learned from it? To reconnect to the past to get on with the future? Ironically, that may not work in a lot of cases. (Do check out my review for The Half Wives by Stacia Pelletier)

Author Information:
(From goodreads)

Rainbow Rowell writes books. Sometimes she writes about adults (ATTACHMENTS and LANDLINE). Sometimes she writes about teenagers (ELEANOR & PARK and FANGIRL). But she always writes about people who talk a lot. And people who feel like they're screwing up. And people who fall in love.

Opinion:

I never thought I'd see a day when I will award 0 stars to a Rainbow Rowell novel! I've only read her Eleanor and Park, yet I've fallen in love with both the characters, the writing, and everything else. This, well, this is not Eleanor and Park. Her writing does not translate to adult novels at all, and I can't believe I'll say this, but this is a very boring and predictable novel. I am not sure where to start even, except that I cannot find a single redeeming feature of this book; the characters are unlikable and annoying, the writing style is very juvenile, the plot is a whole lot of pointless and it's not a good sign when I'm rooting more for the heroine to get with someone other than her husband, is it? There is also lack of tension in the story, and at the end, I wonder, what is the point of it all?

I won this from Goodreads Giveaway

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

G847 Book Review of The half wives by Stacia Pelletier

Name of Book: The Half Wives

Author: Stacia Pelletier

ISBN: 978-0-547-49116-5

Publisher: HMH Books

Type of book: San Francisco California, 1897, death, life, cemetery, grief, second person narrative, mistress, marriage, wife, families, secrets

Year it was published: 2017

Summary:

Over the course of one momentous day, two women who have built their lives around the same man find themselves moving toward an inevitable reckoning.

Former Lutheran minister Henry Plageman is a master secret keeper and a man wracked by grief. He and his wife, Marilyn, tragically lost their young son, Jack, many years ago. But he now has another child—a daughter, eight-year-old Blue—with Lucy, the woman he fell in love with after his marriage collapsed.

The Half Wives follows these interconnected characters on May 22, 1897, the anniversary of Jack’s birth. Marilyn distracts herself with charity work at an orphanage. Henry needs to wrangle his way out of the police station, where he has spent the night for disorderly conduct. Lucy must rescue and rein in the intrepid Blue, who has fallen in a saltwater well. But before long, these four  will all be drawn on this day to the same destination: to the city cemetery on the outskirts of San Francisco, to the grave that means so much to all of them. The collision of lives and secrets that follows will leave no one unaltered.

Characters:

There are four main characters; that of Henry, Marilyn, Lucy and Blue. Henry is married to Marilyn and is wanting to keep the cemetery where it is in place rather than have it moved due to the fact his son is buried there. He is also, surprisingly, loyal to both women, to Marilyn and Lucy and wants to keep things status quo for fear of upsetting Marilyn. He previously used to be a preacher but then gave up that job and now runs a local store. Marilyn is Henry's wife who is frightened by change, especially to her son's anniversary. Things have to be done a certain way on that particular day. She also seems to be lost to herself and its difficult to say if she depends on Henry, or if he depends on her. Lucy is an adventurous young woman who is Henry's mistress and mother to his daughter Blue. Lucy is best described as more independent and someone who desires to make something of herself rather than keeping the long status quo. Blue is Lucy's extremely adventurous daughter who knows next to nothing about her father's other life and who rarely questions the status quo.

Theme:

Lives can change in one day

Plot:

The story is told in four voices, and three voices are in second person narrative voice. The voices are of Henry, the man that ties both women together, then there is Blue, his secret daughter who has first person narrative voice as well as Marilyn, Henry's wife and Lucy, who is Henry's long-time mistress. The story stretches throughout that one day, and its through one day does the reader examine the four lives and how this tragic event affects all of them. It's not a book to rush through, but instead it's something to slow down to and to enjoy.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Stacia Pelletier is the author of Accidents of Providence, short-listed for the Townsend Prize in fiction. She earned graduate degrees in religion and historical theology from Emory University in Atlanta.

Opinion:

The best way to describe this novel is slowly carving a masterpiece out of wood, and contemplating the next move. In the story, no stone or thought is left un-turned and no thought escapes the author's deft stroke of a pen. She slowly examines each character like a psychologist and discovers their truths, lies and motivations, especially on this day, Saturday, May 22nd, 1897. Through her examinations, the reader watches as grief destroys families in myriad ways, and how choices can make lives veer to a different path than originally planned, The whole story takes place over a whole day, and 96 percent of it, if not more is told in second person narrative which made it for an interesting read because the only time I've read second person narrative in a novel is Human Acts by Han Kang.

This is for HFVBT

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, May 7, 2017

Book Spotlight for Middle South by Maya Nessouli Abboushi

Book Title: Middle South

Author: Maya Nessouli Abboushi

Publisher: Lanier Press

ISBN/ASIN: 9781610058636

Summary:

Layla has recently moved out of her parents’ home in the Atlanta suburbs and into an apartment in the city to assert her independence. Between her job as a feature writer for a small newspaper and her social life, Layla has little time to think about marriage and children, much to the dismay of her Lebanese parents.

On a hilarious journey that takes Layla from the Southeast to the Middle East and back, she finds out a little more about herself and what she is looking for in life and in love.

Buy the Book:  Amazon  ~  Barnes & Noble ~ BookLogix 
Add on Goodreads

About the Author:


Meet the Author:

Maya Nessouli Abboushi is a Lebanese American born and raised in the United States. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and three children. This is her first novel.

Connect with the author:  Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Instagram




Giveaway

BOOK SPOTLIGHT TOUR SCHEDULE:

April 17 - Working Mommy Journal - book spotlight / giveaway
April 17 - Kristin's Novel Cafe - book spotlight / guest post
April 17 - Corinne Rodrigues - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
April 18 - Library of Clean Reads - book spotlight / giveaway
April 18 - T's Stuff - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
April 18 - Discovering/Writing Life - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
April 19 - 411 on Books, Authors and Publishing News - book spotlight / guest post / gw
April 19 - The World As I See It - book spotlight / giveaway
April 19 - Books, Dreams, Life - book spotlight / guest post
April 20 - Puddletown Reviews - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
April 20 - Cheryl's Book Nook - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
April 21 - 100 Pages A Day - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
April 21 - Bound 2 Escape - book spotlight / giveaway
April 24 - Celticlady's Reviews - book spotlight / giveaway
April 24 - #redhead.with.book - book spotlight / giveaway
April 25 - Elsie's Audiobook Digest - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
April 25 - The Autistic Gamer - book spotlight
April 26 - Jaquo Lifestyle Magazine - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
April 26 - Lukten av Trykksverte - book spotlight / giveaway
April 27 - Zerina Blossom's Books - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
April 28 - Rockin' Book Reviews - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
May 1 - Spines in a Line - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
May 2 - Books for Books - book spotlight
May 3 - Savvy Verse & Wit - book spotlight / giveaway
May 4 - The All Night Library - book spotlight 
May 5 - Sharing Stories - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
May 5 - Svetlana's Reads and Views - book spotlight / giveaway


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

G852 in a different key the story of autism

Title of the book: In a different Key; the story of autism

Author:  John Donovan, Caren Zucker

Publisher: Broadway Books

Publishing Date: 2016

ISBN: 978-0-307-98570-5

Summary:

Finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction

An extraordinary narrative history of autism: the riveting story of parents fighting for their children 's civil rights; of doctors struggling to define autism; of ingenuity, self-advocacy, and profound social change

Near seventy-five years ago, Donald Triplett of Forest, Mississippi, became the first child diagnosed with autism. Beginning with his family's odyssey, In a Different Key tells the extraordinary story of this often misunderstood condition, and of the civil rights battles waged by the families of those who have it. Unfolding over decades, it is a beautifully rendered history of ordinary people determined to secure a place in the world for those with autism--by liberating children from dank institutions, campaigning for their right to go to school, challenging expert opinion on what it means to have autism, and persuading society to accept those who are different.

It is the story of women like Ruth Sullivan, who rebelled against a medical establishment that blamed cold and rejecting "refrigerator mothers" for causing autism; and of fathers who pushed scientists to dig harder for treatments. Many others played starring roles too: doctors like Leo Kanner, who pioneered our understanding of autism; lawyers like Tom Gilhool, who took the families' battle for education to the courtroom; scientists who sparred over how to treat autism; and those with autism, like Temple Grandin, Alex Plank, and Ari Ne'eman, who explained their inner worlds and championed the philosophy of neurodiversity.

This is also a story of fierce controversies--from the question of whether there is truly an autism "epidemic," and whether vaccines played a part in it; to scandals involving "facilitated communication," one of many treatments that have proved to be blind alleys; to stark disagreements about whether scientists should pursue a cure for autism. There are dark turns too: we learn about experimenters feeding LSD to children with autism, or shocking them with electricity to change their behavior; and the authors reveal compelling evidence that Hans Asperger, discoverer of the syndrome named after him, participated in the Nazi program that consigned disabled children to death.
By turns intimate and panoramic, In a Different Key takes us on a journey from an era when families were shamed and children were condemned to institutions to one in which a cadre of people with autism push not simply for inclusion, but for a new understanding of autism: as difference rather than disability.

Author Info:
(From the book)

John Donvan is a multiple Emmy Award-winning correspondent for ABC and the moderator of the Intelligence Squared US debate series. Caren Zucker is a Peabody Award-winning television news journalist, a twenty-five year veteran of ABCV News, nad a producer and co-writer of hte six part PBS series Autism Now.

Personal Opinion:

For people who desire to know about autism but who are looking more for a "lay" read rather than something technical and mechanical filled with jargon, then this is the right book, despite 600+ pages the book and the story are compelling, inspiring, and eye opening as well as advocating for people with autism to be treated with dignity and respect. The history of autism is fascinating, from its humble beginnings in 1930s to today when it seems that everyone knows of autism and aspergers. What is also inspiring are the parents who advocated for their children, be it insistence on attending schools, to keeping them away from institutions to convincing scientists and others to focus a lot more on organic causes of autism. There is also a lot of empathy shown for people in the book for dealing with the diagnosis of autism and including a lot of memorable and personal anecdotes behind the diagnosis of autism. For a wonderful and enlightening medical read, choose this book and gain a perspectie and what seems to be an insider's view towards autism such as view between autism and Asperger's, and different stories and movements that sprang up in autism's name.

This is for Blogging for Books

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.)

G787 a dark journey into the light

Title of the book: A Dark journey into the Light

Author: Josef

Publisher: Indie

Publishing Date: 2016

ISBN: 9780646963822

Summary:
Josef is lost in a secret world of sexual gratification, a true-life Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, unable to halt the “roller coaster of conflicting emotional extremes that never stopped long enough for me to get off.”

He traces the beginnings of his obsession to his childhood, where his natural innocent curiosity and need for exploration were at odds with his Catholic upbringing and the view of his extremely repressed mother, both of whom regarded the human body as ‘dirty’ and ‘shameful’.

For sixty years, Josef lived a secret double life. The only people who knew about this other life were the mistresses, transgender women, and sex workers with whom he indulged every conceivable fantasy. No one in his ‘other’ life had any idea of who he really was or the things he did.

Yet his secret life claimed a terrible toll. The failure of his first marriage. The loss of his son. The loss of his beloved second wife.

In his journey, Josef explores an astonishing variety of topics. In addition to sexual addiction and the hidden world of BDSM, he delves into the burden of guilt of the Catholic Church, fear, political correctness, non-judgment, love and loss, philosophy, the soul, spiritual awakening, and healing.
This is the journey of an ordinary man lost in an extraordinary secret, dark world, who ultimately finds his way out of the tangled mess through the union of heart and mind, thereby opening a path to self-forgiveness.

Author Info:
(From the book)\

If you're looking at this page there is not a lot left to tell you about Josef. You already know more about him than his neighbour of 25 years!

But the book covers a broad range of issues and could evoke any number of feelings and responses. You can go to FB with any questions, or just to share your thoughts and observations http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1000009374350287 or follow Josef on Twitter @lifeofjosef

Personal Opinion:
*WARNING* 18 OR OLDER YEARS OF AGE, STRONG MATURE CONTENT

First of all, I feel that the author should consider a career as an erotic writer because seriously, he has a way with words and with images. I'm not a stranger to reading books that have dark subject matter be it revenge, murder, or even incest (Thanks Roanoke Girls!) but I think its the first time that I read a book that contains BDSM, sex with men who see themselves as women (Transwomen). What is also an interesting reflection on further thought is that outside of sex, we know very little of the author in terms of hobbies, interests, or even his family such as two ex wives and a son. It almost feels as if something that should be intimate is instead used as a wall between him and everything else. The story seems to be both a memoir and at the same time the author plants essays here and there divulging some of his thoughts towards how the world is. The read requires an open mind towards the author and his experiences. One of the things that I strongly disagreed with the author is his assumption towards fat people, "If fat people don't like being stereotyped as lazy people who sit around eating too much, they should eat less, do some exercise, and lose some weight, but that's too hard. It's easier to sit around complaining about being called fat." (304 in my book) Being fat has a lot of complications than just sitting around and eating food; in some cases, first of all, there might be medical reasons that a person is overweight like removal of gallbladder where food with good fats turns into extra weight, there might also be issues with finances and what is convenient to eat; depression can also play a huge role in being overweight,

This was given to me for a 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.)

May 2017

Seeing double- Nancy j alexander
SR: April 30th 2017
FR: May 18th, 2017
Under the Approaching dark- Anna Belfrage
SR: April 26th 2017
FR: May 22nd 2017
Long black veil- Jennifer finney Boylan
SR: May 16th 2017
FR: May 24th, 2017
A House Divided-Pearl S Buck
SR: March 11th, 2016
FR: N/A
Marion Hatley- Beth Castrodale
SR: May 23rd 2017
FR:
Eye of the storm- frank Cavallo
SR: May 13th, 2017
FR:
Sarah's key- Tatiana de Rosnay
SR: May 11th 2017
FR: May 18th, 2017
The Republic of uzupis- halJi
SR: January 4th 2017
FR:
Waiting for Aegina-Effie Kamenou
SR: May 24th, 2017
FR:
Pachinko- Min Jin Lee
SR: May 18th, 2017
FR:
The Woman behind the waterfall-Leonora Muriel
SR: May 9th, 2017
FR: May 16th 2017
It happens in the hamptons- holly peterson
SR: May 6th 2017
FR: May 13th, 2017
Fatal Rivalry- Mercedes Rochelle
SR: January 30th 2017
FR:
Landline-Rainbow Rowell
SR : May 3rd 2017
FR: May 6th 2017
The Comet Seekers Helen Sedgwick
SR: January 17th 2017
FR:

Nonfiction:
Tree of Souls-Howard Schwartz
SR: February 10th, 2014
FR: N/A
In a different key; the story of autism- John donvan, Caren Zucker
SR: April 22nd 2017
FR:  May 3rd 2017
Back pocket coach- Diane Brennan and Alexandra Ross
SR: May 17th, 2017
FR: May 17th, 2017
More than a soldier- D.M. Annechino
SR: May 17th, 2017
FR:

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Advice for Choosing Historical Fiction

I've actually gotten the idea from talking to my brother-in-law, who mentioned he wanted to visit my blog and see which historical fiction I might recommend. Dedicated to Logan W. for idea

If someone is to ask me what kind of historical fiction I would recommend, first of all I might freeze because historical fiction is very broad, and not just in different time periods. I've had a chance to read historical fiction novels that take place about 10,000 years ago to ones that take place in 1980s (ugh why is 1980s historical fiction? Am I that old?) And it's not just time periods, it's also what type of historical fiction one might enjoy. Do you want to read stories that focus more on psychology, drama and intrigue, ones that are detailed, or do you want to read stories that are focused more on fighting and battles? There are no wrong answers in deciding what to read or enjoy. So, what type of period are you interested in? What continent will the time period be set in?

In how to get started, first of all figure out what type of period you might want to learn more about, maybe you want to know more about WWII, or more about American Revolution, or even more about China. Some time periods, like WWII are extremely broad in terms of historical fiction because the whole world joined in WWII,  and if one is to narrow that down, maybe to Europe, then let's think what country and from who's point of view you would like to read. (Maybe more about German Jews, maybe about countries that were forcibly taken over by Germans, maybe about American soldiers during WWII, maybe even a fantasy or a mystery set during WWII)

About Me:

I love historical fiction and read and review very frequently on my blog. Thanks to some wonderful book tours in past and present, I've gotten to know a lot of wonderful authors and literature which I'll be happy to recommend. I love psychology, drama and intrigue when it comes to historical fiction. I love getting to know the people behind the events and seeing their growth in different ways. This is a short list, and by no means exhaustive.

Here are my favorite historical fiction reads in no particular order

1. Gone with the wind by Margaret Mitchell

Summary: Gone with the wind explores the depths of human passions with an intensity as bold as its setting in the bluff red hills of Georgia. A superb piece of storytelling, it brings the drama of the Civil War and Reconstruction vividly to life.

This is the tale of Scarlett O’Hara, the spoiled, ruthless daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, who arrives at young womanhood just in time to see the Civil War sweep away the life for which her upbringing has prepared her. After the fall of Atlanta she returns to the plantation and by stubborn shrewdness saves her home from both Sherman and the carpetbaggers. But in the process she hardens. She has neared starvation and she vows never to be hungry again.
In these vivid pages live the unforgettable people who have captured the attention of millions of readers-of every age, in every walk of life. Here are Rhett Butler, Scarlett’s counterpart, a professional scoundrel as courageous as Scarlett herself; Melanie Wilkes, a loyal friend and true gentlewoman; and Ashley Wilkes, for whom the world ended at Appomattox. Here are all the characters and memorable episodes that make Gone with the Wind a book to read and re-read and remember forever.

Why I Love it: Aside from unfortunate racism of the time, what's not to love about this wonderful book? It's extremely detailed when it comes Scarlet O'Hara and her life a bit prior, during and after Civil War. There is a lot of psychology when it comes to figuring out Scarlet and watching her grow from a spoiled southern belle to a resourceful woman who refuses to be dependent on anyone. Scarlet is someone you love to hate. Also, it's a type of book that you just want to keep going on and on. (Seriously, 1000+ pages is too short.)

2. The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George

Summary: This is the story of England's most famous, and notorious, king.

Henry was a charismatic, ardent - and brash - young lover who married six times; a scholar with a deep love of poetry and music; an energetic hunter who loved the outdoors; a monarch whose lack of a male heir haunted him incessantly; and a ruthless leader who would stop at nothing to achieve his desires. His monumental decision to split from Rome and the Catholic Church was one that would forever shape the religious and political landscape of Britain.

Combining magnificent storytelling with an extraordinary grasp of the pleasures and perils of power, Margaret George delivers a vivid portrait of Henry VIII and Tudor England and the powerhouse of players on its stage: Thomas Cromwell, Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas More and Anne Boleyn. It is also a narrative told from an original perspective: Margaret George writes from the King's point of view, injecting irreverent comments from Will Somers - Henry's jester and confidant.

Why I Love it: When I say that the author has talent and ability to get into Henry VIII's head, I am not joking. I honestly felt transported back in time, sitting next to Henry VIII and listening to him describe his life in great amount of detail. I love the details, feeling as if I am living in late 1490s to 1500s and being part of Henry VIII's life. PS: The author has recently released her first book about Nero, (have to wait until October of 2018 for part 2 to come out...) which is also a wonderful read, so be sure to check it out.

3. The Golem and the Djini by Helene Wecker

Summary: Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master, the husband who commissioned her, dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York in 1899.

Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop. Though he is no longer imprisoned, Ahmad is not entirely free – an unbreakable band of iron binds him to the physical world.

The Golem and the Jinni is their magical, unforgettable story; unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures – until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful threat will soon bring Chava and Ahmad together again, challenging their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.

Why I Love it: It's a fantasy, philosophical, unique and very beautifully written. The author truly brings to life the New York of early 20th century through Chava's and Djini's eyes. I may have read it years ago, but I still recall the wonder and amazement of the sentences.

4. The Color of Light by Helen Maryles Shankman

Summary:NEW YORK CITY, 1992. At the American Academy of Classical Art, popular opinion has it that the school’s handsome and mysterious founder, Raphael Sinclair, is a vampire. It is a rumor Rafe does nothing to dispel.

Scholarship student Tessa Moss has long dreamed of the chance to study at Rafe’s Academy. But she is floundering amidst the ups and downs of a relationship with egotistical art star Lucian Swain.
Then, one of Tessa’s sketches catches Rafe’s attention: a drawing of a young woman in 1930s clothing who is covering the eyes of a child. The suitcase at her feet says Wizotsky. Sofia Wizotsky, the love of Rafe’s life, was lost during the Holocaust.

Or was she? Rafe suspects Tessa may be the key to discovering what really happened.

As Rafe finds excuses to interact with Tessa, they cannot deny their growing attraction to one another. It is an attraction forbidden by the Academy Board and disapproved of by anyone familiar with Rafe’s playboy reputation and Tessa’s softhearted innocence.

But Tessa senses the truth: despite his wealth, his women, and his townhouse filled with rare and beautiful treasures, Rafe is a haunted man…for reasons that have nothing to do with the rumors they whisper about him at school.

Intensely romantic and deeply moving, The Color of Light blends fact and fantasy in an unforgettable tale of art and passion, love and war, guilt and forgiveness, spanning the New York art scene, high-fashion magazine publishing, the glittering café society of pre-World War II Paris, and the evil stalking the back roads of Nazi-occupied Europe.

Why I Love it: Umm, two words that I doubt I'll ever use to describe a book: vampires plus Holocaust. Like The Golem and the Djini, it's also a heartbreaking and wonderful read about a man whose dreams were shattered and who is trying to survive.

5. The Prince's Doom by David Blixt

Summary: The explosive fourth novel in the Star-Cross'd series! Verona has won its war with Padua, lost its war with the stars. The young prodigy Cesco now turns his troubled brilliance to darker purposes, embracing a riotous life and challenging not only the lord of Verona, but the stars themselves.

For once Pietro Alaghieri welcomes the many plots and intrigues of the Veronese court, hoping they will shake Cesco out of his torpor. But when the first body falls, it becomes clear that this new game is deadly, and will only to doom them all.

Why I Love it: I cannot believe that I read Prince's Doom few years back because it's yet another book that stayed with me even if I read it once. Although it's part of the series, it's a good stand-alone, and will encourage the reader to get the previous three books. Francesco 'Cesco' is perhaps one of my favorite male characters crush because of his wittiness, charm and ability to poke at himself. I found myself laughing and chuckling at a lot of numerous lines. Aside from Cesco, Italy of 1300s is vividly brought to life and despite the lenght it's an exciting and page-turning read. Okay, now I really must read the first three books...

Stay tuned for more of my historical fiction recommendations...

Book Spotlight for More Than A Soldier: One Army Ranger's Daring Escape From the Nazis by D.M. Annechino

In either May or June, stay tuned for a review for this book!

Book Description:

Feeling a patriotic duty to defend his country after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, seventeen year old, Angelo J. DiMarco, enlists in the U.S. Army. Severely short of frontline fighters, the Army rushes Angelo through Ranger training and sends him to Italy as part of the 1st Ranger Battalion. Their objective: stop the German invasion.

Fighting on the front lines in Italy, the German’s teach Angelo a sobering lesson on life when they capture him during the bloody battle of Cisterna. Against insurmountable odds, Angelo miraculously escapes in a way that stretches the imagination. He survives behind enemy lines for over five months, hiding from the Germans and trying to outmaneuver them. He begs for food, sleeps in barns and suffers from many ailments, including dehydration, malnutrition, malaria and exposure to the elements.

More Than a Soldier is Angelo DiMarco’s powerful story of survival, resilience and courage.

Praise for More Than a Soldier:

Annechino colorfully draws the actions scenes, and richly brings the supporting cast of characters to life. A moving tale of survival in war-torn Europe.
- Kirkus Reviews

Nuanced and eloquently written, More Than a Soldier adds to the body of WWII literature an extraordinary story of survival and a deeply affecting portrait of a soldier’s coming-of-age.
- The iRead Review

Buy the Book:
Amazon

Add to Goodreads

Meet the Author:

Daniel M. Annechino, a former book editor, wrote his first book, How to Buy the Most Car for the Least Money, while working as a General Manager in the automobile business. But his passion had always been fiction, particularly thrillers. He spent two years researching serial killers before finally penning his gripping and memorable debut novel They Never Die Quietly. He has written and published five novels—all thrillers. But his latest work, More Than a Soldier, is a Historical Biography set in Italy during WWII.

A native of New York, Annechino now lives in San Diego with his wife, Jennifer. He loves to cook, enjoys a glass of vintage wine, and spends lots of leisure time on the warm beaches of Southern California.

Connect with the Author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

BOOK SPOTLIGHT TOUR:

April 24 - Library of Clean Reads - book spotlight / giveaway
April 24 - Puddletown Reviews - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
April 25 - Working Mommy Journal - book spotlight / giveaway
April 26 - A Mama's Corner of the World - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
April 27 - Books, Dreams, Life - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
April 28 - 100 Pages A Day - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
April 28 - Svetlana's Reads and Views - book spotlight
May 1 -    My Reading Journeys - book spotlight / giveaway
May 2 -    Il Mio Tesoro - book spotlight / guest post
May 2 -    Leels Loves Books - book spotlight
May 3 -    fundinmental - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
May 4 -    A Soccer Mom's Book Blog - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway 
May 4 -    T's Stuff - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
May 4 -    Writers and Authors - guest post
May 5 -    Jaquo Lifestyle Magazine - book spotlight / guest post
May 7 -    Writers and Authors - book spotlight / giveaway
May 8 -    Cheryl's Book Nook - book spotlight / giveaway
May 8 -    Deal Sharing Aunt - book spotlight / giveaway
May 9 -    Kristin's Novel Cafe - book spotlight / author interview
May 10 -  Nighttime Reading Center - book spotlight / giveaway
May 11 -  Books for Books - book spotlight
May 12 -  Celticlady's Reviews - book spotlight / giveaway
May 12 -  Rockin' Book Reviews - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
May 15 -  The Autistic Gamer - book spotlight
May 16 -  Bound 2 Escape - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
May 17 -  Blooming with Books - book spotlight / giveaway
May 18 -  Lukten av Trykksverte - book spotlight / giveaway
May 19 -  Essentially Italian - book spotlight / giveaway


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