Monday, April 24, 2017

Assata Shakur; a 20th century Escaped Slave

Title of the book:Assata Shakur; a 20th century Escaped Slave

Author: Barbara Casey

Publisher: Strategic media Books

Publishing Date: 2017

ISBN: 978-1939521606

Summary:

In May 1973, Assata Olugbala Shakur was involved in a shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike in which she was accused of killing New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster and assaulting Trooper James Harper. This resulted in her indictment of first-degree murder of Foerster and seven other felonies related to the shootout. A member of the Black Panther Party, she became a prime target of the Federal Bureau of Investigations Counterintelligence Program. When she joined the Black Liberation Army and went into hiding, between 1973 and 1977, she was placed on the FBIs Most Wanted List for three bank robberies, the kidnapping and murder of two drug dealers, and the attempted murder of two New Jersey police officers. In March 1977 Assata Shakur was convicted of murdering state trooper Werner Forrester and was imprisoned. Two years later she broke out of the maximum-security wing of Clinton Correctional Facility in New Jersey, pistol in hand, as she and three cohorts sped out of the prison grounds. In 1984 she was granted political asylum in Cuba where she has lived ever since. On May 2, 2013, the FBI added her to the Most Wanted Terrorist List, the first woman to be listed. "Assata Shakur: A 20th Century Escaped Slave" is the story of Assata Shakur, before she became a fugitive and since.

Author Info:
(From the book)

Barbara Casey's numerous award-winning novels include THe Gospel Accordign to Prissy, the House of Kane, The Coach's Wife, The Cadence of Gypsies, and The Wish Rider. She also has another work of nonfiction, Kathryn Kely: The Moll behind Machine Gun Kelly, which has been optioned for a movie. and television series. In addition to her own writing, she is an editorial consultant for independent publishers and writers, and president of the Barbara Casey Agency, established in 1995, representing authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. Barbara lives on a mountain in Georgia with her husband and three dogs who adopted her: Benton, a hound-mix; Fitz, a miniature dachshund; and Gert, a Jack Russel terrier of sorts.

Connect with the author:  Website

Personal Opinion:

Prior to this book, I have never heard of Assata Shakur who, apparently has some relation to the infamous rapper, Tupac Shakur. I didn't know who she was, nor what role she has played in various governments. It's actually a first time I'm trying out a true crime read. The book may look slim but its filled with a lot of interesting information, especially how it seems history tends to repeat itself because even back then, people of African-American descent fought over police brutality as well as equality, or lack of equality. What worked for me is that the subject matter as well as the research are very well done in presenting the '60s and tactics used by African-American groups and the government agencies. I also was intrigued by the symbol that Assata Shakur became as well as the tough decision that government of Cuba as well as government of US have to overcome. Should the bygones be bygones or should Assata still be judged by her previous deeds? While the story worked as a big picture, for me it didn't work as a small picture because I feel that I didn't really get to know Assata Shakur as a person, and it feel as if the insider perspective is lacking because a lot of her formative years prior to her extradition to Cuba the story is all tell and very little show.

This is for iRead Book Tours

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

Monday, April 17, 2017

G837 Book Review of The last chance matinee by Mariah Stewart

Name of Book: The Last Chance Matinee

Author: Mariah Stewart

ISBN: 978-15015991-6

Publisher: Gallery Books

Part of a Series: The Hudson Sisters Trilogy

Type of book: Yoga, healthy eating, life changes, secrets, sisterhood, relationships, women's fiction, Pennsylvania, contemporary times, renovating, details, slow build, building relationships

Year it was published: 2017

Summary:

From New York Times bestselling author Mariah Stewart comes the first novel in her all-new series, The Hudson Sisters, following a trio of reluctant sisters as they set out to fulfill their father’s dying wish. In the process, they find not only themselves, but the father they only thought they knew.

When celebrated and respected agent Fritz Hudson passes away, he leaves a trail of Hollywood glory in his wake—and two separate families who never knew the other existed. Allie and Des Hudson are products of Fritz’s first marriage to Honora, a beautiful but troubled starlet whose life ended in a tragic overdose. Meanwhile, Fritz was falling in love on the Delaware Bay with New Age hippie Susa Pratt—they had a daughter together, Cara, and while Fritz loved Susa with everything he had, he never quite managed to tell her or Cara about his West Coast family.

Now Fritz is gone, and the three sisters are brought together under strange circumstances: there’s a large inheritance to be had that could save Allie from her ever-deepening debt following a disastrous divorce, allow Des to open a rescue shelter for abused and wounded animals, and give Cara a fresh start after her husband left her for her best friend—but only if the sisters upend their lives and work together to restore an old, decrepit theater that was Fritz’s obsession growing up in his small hometown in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. Guided by Fritz’s closest friend and longtime attorney, Pete Wheeler, the sisters come together—whether they like it or not—to turn their father’s dream into a reality, and might just come away with far more than they bargained for.

Characters:

The characters are very fleshed out and each have complex and different personalities, from the sisters to residents of Hidden Falls. Main characters are the three sisters; Cara is the youngest sister I believe, a thoughtful and sweet redhead who became recently divorced and is into yoga, eating healthily and she has had a wholesome upbringing thanks to her mom and her dad. She was close to both of them. She also loves the small town and is considering making a major change in her life. Des is Allie's younger sister who has talent for acting but wishes she didn't and who is very good with finances and money. She also has a soft spot for dogs and devotes her life to taking care of them. She is a bit more willing to try to work things out with her sisters and has never been married. Allie is the oldest sister who has a secret of drinking alcohol and who also has a daughter named Nikki. Throughout the story she is best described as a porcupine and someone who wants to do the job and then leave. She is prickly and doesn't try to be close to anyone. Nikki is Allie's daughter who seems to be complete opposite of her mother and whom others dote on. Aunt Barney is their aunt, their father's older sister who is best described as practical minded yet has a big heart and wants to do the right thing.

Theme:

People all have hidden sides to them

Plot:

The story is in third person narrative from Cara's point of view. At times Cara's two sisters, Allie and Des also narrate things from their points of view, but the main focus is on Cara. The pacing of the book is very slow, but that's part of the charm; to kick back, relax and enjoy the read without worries. The pacing also allows for the reader to see the relationships between the sisters and their aunt and niece and of them learning and trying to discover the father they thought they knew. For me personally, I can't find anything I disliked or will want to criticize, except that I have to wait until 2018 until the second book comes out?

Author Information:
(From the book)

Mariah Stewart is the award-winning New York TImes and USA TODAY bestselling author of numerous novels and several novellas and short stories. A native Highstown, New Jersey, she lives with her husband and two rambuctious rescue dogs amid the rolling hills of CHester County, Pennsylvania, where she savors country life and tens to her gardens while she works on ehr next novel. Visit her website at MariahSteawrt.com, like her on Facebook at Facebook.com/AuthorMariahStewart, and follow her on Instagram @mariah_sewart_books

Opinion:

While I enjoy reading the Chesapeake Diaries a great deal, I often feel that there is a limit of sorts when it comes to the length of the story; In this book, the author took a chance and has wowed and astounded me with the story, especially how addictive it is from start to finish, and  there is the classic Mariah Stewart touch in descriptions from yoga to the small town of Hidden Falls to how the sisters attempt to get to know one another. I also am hoping that the author will answer some questions about the girls' father in her future books about the sisters and how he managed to get away with a number of things. Just like in Chesapeake Diaries, the fictional town is brought to life through the memorable residents, beautiful scenery and relationships between the people living there. If Chesapeake Diaries are your favorite reads, don't miss this book and give it a chance.

This was given to me for a review

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.)

G861 Book Review of Mama's Knight; a cancer story of love by Aurora Whittet

Title of the book: Mama's Knight; a cancer story of love

Author: Aurora Whittet

Publisher: Wise Ink Publishing

Publishing Date: 2016

ISBN: 978-1-945769-08-5

Summary:

Once upon a time . . . It’s how all heroes begin their story, and you’re a hero, too! Your mama has cancer, and it’s a scary journey, but you can help your mama just by being you—special, wonderful, YOU. Your mama loves you just the way you are. You are your mama’s knight.

Mama’s Knight: A Cancer Story of Love is an emotional toolbox that can help kids and parents communicate about what it means for Mama to have cancer. The book is filled with tools and activities designed to make coping with illness easier on both parent and child, and can be personalized for each child.

Author Info:
(From iRead Book Tours)

Meet the Author:

Aurora Whittet started out as a wild red-haired girl in Minnesota dreaming up stories for her friends to read. Today, she has completed Bloodmark, Bloodrealms, and Bloodmoon of the Bloodmark Saga trilogy and started her journey into children’s books with Mama’s Knight in honor of her own mother who lost her battle with cancer. She’s a national award-winning graphic designer and birth doula in her day jobs. Aurora lives with her family in Minnesota.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

Buy the Book: Amazon ~ Author's Website

Personal Opinion:

I really don't know how to begin my review. While I loved the book, especially the diverse illustrations of children and women, I hope it's not a book that I will be using it soon. The book is designed to be personalized for the child, and I can imagine that all sorts of people, from those with cancer to some mental illnesses can use the format to explain to the child what is going on, and to show the child how much they care for them. All in all, a beautiful story designed to show the child how much they mean to you through this difficult time

This is for iRead Book Tours

BOOK TOUR SCHEDULE:

April 3 - Library of Clean Reads - book spotlight / giveaway
April 4 - Working Mommy Journal - review / giveaway
April 5 - Cheryl's Book Nook - review / author interview / giveaway
April 6 - Books, Dreams, Life - review / author interview / giveaway
April 7 - 100 pages a day - review / guest post / giveaway
April 10 - A Mama's Corner of the World - review / giveaway
April 11 - Heidi's Wanderings - review / giveaway
April 12 - Fantastic Feathers - review
April 13 - ReadingBifrost - review / giveaway
April 14 - T's Stuff - review / guest post / giveaway
April 17 - Svetlana's Reads and Views - review
April 18 - Deal Sharing Aunt - review / giveaway
April 19 - FUONLYKNEW - review / author interview / giveaway
April 20 - Book Room Reviews - review / guest post
April 21 - Kristin's Novel Cafe - review
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.)

Saturday, April 15, 2017

G821 Book Review of the confessions of young nero by Margaret George

Name of Book: The Confessions of Young nero

Author: Margaret George

ISBN: 978-0-451-47338-7

Publisher: Berkley Books

Type of book: Rome, Emperor Nero, 40 ME-64? ME, Acte, creativity, torn, secrets, poisonings, marriages, tradition vs innovation, changes, life, love, mentoring, passion

Year it was published: 2017

Summary:

The New York Times bestselling and legendary author of Helen of Troy and Elizabeth I now turns her gaze on Emperor Nero, one of the most notorious and misunderstood figures in history.

Built on the backs of those who fell before it, Julius Caesar's imperial dynasty is only as strong as the next person who seeks to control it. In the Roman Empire no one is safe from the sting of betrayal: man, woman or child.

As a boy, Nero's royal heritage becomes a threat to his very life, first when the mad emperor Caligula tries to drown him, then when his great aunt attempts to secure her own son's inheritance. Faced with shocking acts of treachery, young Nero is dealt a harsh lesson: it is better to be cruel than dead.

While Nero idealizes the artistic and athletic principles of Greece, his very survival rests on his ability to navigate the sea of vipers that is Rome. The most lethal of all is his own mother, a cold-blooded woman whose singular goal is to control the empire. With cunning and poison, the obstacles fall one by one. But as Agrippina's machinations earn her son a title he is both tempted and terrified to assume, Nero's determination to escape her thrall will shape him into the man he was fated to become, an Emperor who became legendary.

With impeccable research and captivating prose, The Confessions of Young Nero is the story of a boy's ruthless ascension to the throne. Detailing his journey from innocent youth to infamous ruler, it is an epic tale of the lengths to which man will go in the ultimate quest for power and survival.

Characters:

I have to say that the author is a master when it comes to working with and creating various characters because they all feel lifelike, ready to jump off of the pages into one's life. First is Nero, a young imaginative and impressionable boy who has been dealt a heavy fate of being born into the family of Caesars where poison and threats against life are common., The reader literally watches Nero grow up from an imaginative young boy to a young man who is torn between tradition and innovation as well as being torn between his good self and his bad self. Nero is extremely creative, generous, imaginative, and unafraid of spending money on bettering his image. There is also Nero's mother, an extremely ambitious woman who doesn't understand nor appreciates her son but who is is single-minded in getting Nero to be emperor by any means necessary be it murder, poisoning, etc. She is also extremely controlling and is not someone one would want to get on her bad side. Other characters include Nero's stepfather, Nero's numerous friends, mentors and teachers as well as his lovers and yes, each one is memorable and stands out in the book.

Theme:

Unlimited power does not equal happiness

Plot:

The story is in first person narrative from Nero's point of view, although a few times the story does get interrupted by Acte or Locusta. In terms of plot and characters as well as details and bringing the ancient Rome to life, the author has done an excellent job in re-creating how Nero might have been like thousands of years ago. While reading it, I did feel that the story was incomplete and that the book seems to suffer without a second part. I am also a bit grateful that the Romans are portrayed more sympathetically when it comes to different faiths. (One of the things they are well known for is tolerance, believe it or not.) I didn't feel comfortable with the way the Jewish religion was portrayed as being for snobs though.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Margaret George, who lives in Madison Wisconsin, comes from a Southern basckground and has traveled extensively. After reading numerous novels that viewed Henry VIII through the eyes of his enemies and victims, she became determined to let Henry speak for himself, and it took fifteen years, about three hundred books of background reading, three visits to England to see every extant building associated with Henry, and five handwritten drafts for her to answer the question: what was Henry really like?

She is also the author of two other highly acclaimed novels, Mary Queen of Soctland and the Isle and The Memoirs of Cleopatra

Opinion:

Previously I read and reviewed the author's The Autobiography of Henry VIII, which I've really loved. I'm really unsure on how to begin the review; but I will begin with what I loved about The Confessions of Young Nero; first of all I loved Nero's character which will make anyone who is a competitor or an artist understand the pain he is going through. I loved how torn he felt between what he called the good and the bad Nero, and I also loved how I felt as if I could relate to him. The psychology of Nero in the book is very fascinating and if the author's goal was to rehabilitate Nero, she has done an excellent job. Nero's life as well as the characters and the little details about that she placed in the book has really made the author a master of the craft. I also liked that she included Petronius in the book, and am curious if she was trying to send a message by the type of flowers that Nero's bride wears to her wedding (I know the narcissus and hyacinth myths, but what is the myth of roses?) Nero is not a saint in the book, but its obvious, or so it seems, that a lot of things he had supposedly done are exaggerated. There are two things I didn't like in the book, which I will mention: I did not appreciate that in the book Judaism is seen very negatively, or that its seen as religion for the snobs, and I also feel that Nero being split in two parts is not exactly good because the story feels very incomplete and without the second half, it lacks the tautness and excitement that Henry VIII had.

I won this at first reads goodreads 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.)

G844 Book Review of the varangian by Bruce Macbain

Name of Book: The Varangian

Author: Bruce McBain

ISBN: 978-1-943075-24-9

Publisher: Blank Slate Press

Part of a Series: Odd Tangle-Hair's Saga

Type of book: Greece, 1037-1042, guard, castration, control, Constantinople, Sicily, war, ruling, siblings, power, peasantry, emperors, empresses, Varangians, eunuchs, secret religions

Year it was published: 2016

Summary:

The Varangianis the final entry in Bruce Macbain's Odd Tangle-Hair Saga and brings Odd's challenging adventures to a climactic and satisfying finish. On a secret diplomatic mission to the Emperor's court in Miklagard, the Viking's name for Constantinople, Odd meets the members of the fearsome Varangian Guard whose elite Viking members served as the Emperor's personal bodyguards. Harald, his former master and the man he's been sent to murder, now serves among the guards. Court intrigue and imperial dynastic disputes provide the backdrop for the conflict between Odd and Harald. LikeOdin's ChildandThe Ice Queenbefore it, The Varangianis dictated by Odd to a young scribe whose own life is changed by the telling of the tale."

Characters:

There are quite a few main characters; Odd Tangle-hair is the protagonist who is in late 20s and comes from Iceland to pursue his enemies. He is best described as very resourceful, talented in languages and very well liked. Harald seems to be Odd's frenemy, that is they are friends but then happen to be enemies. Harald is ruthless but at the same time has a little bit of decency and once he gives a vow, he doesn't break it. He is not talented in languages and is forced to rely either on Odd or another man to be his ears. He also is loyal to Yelisaveta and is determined to provide as much comfort as he can. Psellus is a Greek man whom Odd meets and the two become extremely good friends. Psellus is an intellectual and helps teach Odd about the Greek government and so forth. Zoe is an empress that has face of perpetual youth and who is interested in creating lotions as well as perfumes. For her whole life she has been mistreated and been denied a choice in just about everything. Selene will become Odd's wife and she is daring, not afraid of cross dressing. There are plenty of other characters, but it will take a long time to discuss them.

Theme:

Homeland has strong ties

Plot:

The story is written in first person narrative, although from time to time, other characters are written in third person point of view. I imagine that if the reader read the previous two books then it offers great continuity because it seems to pick up from where it left off, with Odd landing in Constantinople and trying to pass himself off as a Rus diplomat. Characters from what I think are the previous books are introduced right away, and I feel that the reader is tasked with knowing who they are while very little background information about them is given. The author does write the details about the lands and battles very well and for me the details are not easily forgotten. I also appreciated seeing a little bit of history of my former homeland in the book. I also liked how the story ended with Odd and do wish that some plot points would have been tied up.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Bruce McBain grew up reading histroy and historical fiction and eventually acquired a master's degree in Classical Studies and a doctorate in Ancient History. As an assistant professor of Classics, he taught courses in Late Antiquity and Roman religion and published  a few impenetrable scholaryl monographs, which almost no one read. He eventually left academe and turned to teaching English as a second language, a field he was trained in while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Borneo in the 1960s.

Macbain is also the authro of historical mysteries set in ancient Rome, (Roman Games, 2010, and The Bull Slayer, 2013) feautring Pliny the Younger as his protagonist. Following Odin's Child and The Ice Queen The Varangian is the thrid in his Viking series, Odd Tangle-Hair's Saga.

Opinion:

I previously haven't read the first two books in a series, thus I am new to the protagonist as well as the author. I do strongly feel that the book should be read in continuity with the other two, although I can see instances where it can be a stand-alone. But despite not reading the first two books, I enjoyed the last one and really liked seeing the Greek empire prior to the Crusades, especially learning history of the Byzantium way after 6th century. The history is very unique and memorable, which makes it a positive in my book. What I also enjoyed are the various characters that populate the book from the protagonist himself to Empress Zoe and to Odd's friends and enemies, although in order to fully appreciate the friends and enemies, there is definite need to read the first two books. What I feel I didn't like is that the women weren't drawn in a three dimensional way, and perhaps the author has done it in previous books, but I feel not much is explained about the Viking ways and customs. Towards the end the story speeds up quite a lot and the author leaves us with a cliffhanger about Odd's future.

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.)

Monday, April 10, 2017

G828 Book Review of A fine year for murder by Lauren Carr

Name of Book: A Fine Year for Murder

Author: Lauren Carr

ISBN: 9781537376905

Publisher: Acorn services

Part of a Series: A Thorny Rose Mystery

Type of book: Mystery, repressed memories, trauma, crime, family, dysfunction, friendship, psychology, West Virginia, twists

Year it was published: 2017

Summary:

After months of marital bliss, Jessica Faraday and Murphy Thornton are still discovering and adjusting to their life together. Settled in their new home, everything appears to be perfect … except in the middle of the night when, in darkest shadows of her subconscious, a deep secret from Jessica’s past creeps to the surface to make her strike out at Murphy.

When investigative journalist Dallas Walker tells the couple about her latest case, known as the Pine Bridge Massacre, they realize Jessica may have witnessed the murder of a family living near a winery owned by distant relatives she was visiting and suppressed the memory.

Determined to uncover the truth and find justice for the murder victims, Jessica and Murphy return to the scene of the crime with Dallas Walker, a spunky bull-headed Texan. Can this family reunion bring closure for a community touched by tragedy or will this prickly get-together bring an end to the Thorny Rose couple?

Characters:

Main characters include Jessica and Murphy. In Kill and Run, it's mentioned that Jessica tends to fight and choke Murphy when they sleep together, but in this book the author provides a background story as to how and why its happened. While previous book focused heavily on family, namely Murphy's side as well as Jessica's brother, here the focus is more on Jessica's adopted family and on Pine Ridge residents. From what I can see, Murphy and Jessica retain their previous personalities in that Murphy is a health freak and Jessica is a psychologist who analyzes people and comes up to conclusions that help solve the case. Bridget Riva is Jessica's adopted cousin who is extremely manipulative, shallow, organized and is very powerful. Dallas Walker will soon be Jessica's aunt by marriage and is a journalist that enjoys messing with people's perceptions but also loves pointing out details that will get characters in trouble. Ava is a murder victim who seems to have helped in creating the evil Bridget. Simone Riva is another cousin but who happens to be the nice one. There are multiple other characters, but the fun thing is to let the reader discover them for themselves.

Theme:

Things are not what they seem

Plot:

The story is in third person narrative from Jessica's and Murphy's points of view. Just like the previous book, the time seems to be slowed down which allows the reader to enjoy the scenery so to speak, and get to know the two detectives. I do think that some of the ties aren't tied up neatly, namely the deaths, but other than that I hope that supporting characters will make another appearance in the future. I also appreciated the twists within the story and how the author manages to surprise the reader just when they think they got everything figured out,

Author Information:
(From iRead Book Tours)

Meet the Author:

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV. 

Connect with LaurenWebsite  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook
Buy the Book:  Amazon  ~ Add on Goodreads

Opinion:

From Kill and Run, I expected the story to also be dealing with military, but that's not it at all; it deals with Jessica's "lovely' (I use that word in a sarcastic sense) adopted family which has a very scheming and manipulative cousin, a cousin that has the hots for her and doesn't understand the word no, and an uncle and aunt who care more for appearances than anything else. Beyond doubt the author is talented in creating mysteries in different places be they military or more casual, thus I look forward to reading more of her work. Just like in Kill and Run, there are a lot of details and background stories as well as memorable characters and taking time to get to know them.

This is for iRead Book Tours

BOOK REVIEW TOUR SCHEDULE:

March 1 - Working Mommy Journal  - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
March 1 - 
Within The Pages Of A Book - review of Kill and Run / giveaway
March 1 - 
Katherine Scott Jones - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
March 2 - Working Mommy Journal  - review of Kill and Run / giveaway
March 2 - 
My Journey Back - review of  Kill and Run / giveaway
March 2 - 
Within The Pages Of A Book - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
March 3 - 
Books, Dreams, Life - review of Kill and Run
March 3 - The World As I See It - review of Kill and Run / giveaway
March 3 - 
Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf - review of Kill and Run / giveaway
March 3 - 
Books, Dreams, Life - review of A Fine Year for Murder
March 6 - Christa Reads and Writes - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
March 7 - A Mama's Corner of the World - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
March 7 - 
Library of Clean Reads - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
March 8 -  For Life After - review of Kill and Run
March 9 - 
 Rockin' Book Reviews -  review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
March 9 -  T's Stuff - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
March 9 -  
My Journey Back - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
March 9 - 
fundinmental - review of A Fine Year for Murder 
March 10 - Jaquo Lifestyle Magazine - review of A Fine Year for Murder
March 13 - Olio by Marilyn - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
March 15 - For Life After - review of A Fine Year for Murder
March 16 - fuonlyknew - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
March 16 - 
Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
March 17 - Carol's Notebook - review of Kill and Run / giveaway
March 20 - Nighttime Reading Center - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
March 20  - 
Rainy Day Reviews - review of Kill and Run / giveaway
March 23 - The World As I See It - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
March 23 - Rainy Day Reviews - review of A Fine Year for Murder/ giveaway
March 24 - Books for Books - review of Kill and Run
March 27 - Svetlana's Reads and Views - review of Kill and Run / guest post
March 28 - Laura's Interests - review of Kill and Run / giveaway
March 29 - Pause for Tales - review of A Fine Year for Murder / author interview
March 30 - Laura's Interests - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
March 31 - Books for Books - review of A Fine Year for Murder
April 3 - Bound 4 Escape -  ​review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
April 4 - JBronder Book Reviews -  review of Kill and Run 
April 5 - Carol's Notebook - ​review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
April 6 - Dab of Darkness - review of Kill and Run / giveaway
April 6 - 
JBronder Book Reviews -  review of A Fine Year for Murder
April 7 - Mrs Mommy BOOKNERD'S Book Reviews - review of A Fine Year for Murder /                      guest post / giveaway
April 10 - Svetlana's Reads and Views - review of A Fine Year for Murder
April 10 - 
Elsie's Audiobook Digest - review of Kill and Run
April 11 - Turning the Pages - review of Kill and Run / giveaway
April 11 - Readers Muse - review of A Fine Year for Murder
April 12 - Turning the Pages - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
April 13 - Dab of Darkness - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
April 14 - Jessica Cassidy - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
April 14 - 
Elsie's Audiobook Digest - review of A Fine Year for Murder
TBD       - 
Thoughts on Books - review of Kill and Run / giveaway
TBD       - 
Thoughts on Books - review of A Fine Year for Murder / 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.)

Friday, April 7, 2017

Addressing Diversity Issues: Lack of Romantic PoC Male Heroes

Diversity has done a lot for people's self esteem, especially groups that have been stigmatized or made to feel insignificant because they lack a certain pedigree. But I often think that diversity in literature has benefited girls/women a lot more than boys/men. 

One prime example I have is of women-both white and colored- having white male love interests and very rarely did I encounter books that have a non-white male as romantic interest. I imagine years down the road that my son might discover girls in his teens, and perhaps he might have a crush on a girl. He will try to approach the girl, only to get shot down, or else hear the dreaded words: "I don't date Asian or half-Asian men. I date only white guys." Following that, I imagine I will be in a quandary between trying to boost my son's self-esteem versus what society is telling him; that he is less than because his father happened to be of Chinese ancestry. And if he becomes interested in reading, I honestly will have a lot of difficulty in coming up with age appropriate books where the Asian/ half-Asian hero ultimately gets the girl of his dreams. 

If I feel this way and my son is only a year old, I can only imagine how other parents with teen boys who aren't white feel; how can a mother help her son build his self esteem, tell him he is worth it and deserves the best when in books and movies and in majority of TV shows the son rarely sees himself as the hero but only as a sidekick? 

In my experience, the emotion is not pleasant and it's very alienating; it becomes a box that keeps you from trying to relate to others and to be human; it also does not address any elephants in the room and doesn't help break down barriers between people.

I also believe that lack of PoC male heroes prevents many boys from reading fiction unless it becomes absolutely necessary. If a person doesn't see themselves represented on television or in reading literature, then that medium is most likely to be abandoned. (One main reason I don't care for American TV) and because people in America care more for TV than for reading, it's much easier to drop reading than TV. 

Believe it or not, but lack of non-white men in books and literature also affects how women feel about men and of how women feel about themselves. What do I mean by that? Allow me to explain: when I was growing up, I was embarrassed about myself simply because my love interests were Asian men. Society tells women that non-white men are not and should not be desirable; that they are either over-sexed or sexless, and they are not full human beings. When society tells someone one thing, but the person feels differently, a war inside of them will begin and there will be one of the two outcomes: either woman will reject her own emotions and fall in line, or else the woman will accept herself but will alienate society's rules and will not feel connected to others. 

Lack of non-white men as heroes or as romantic leads also leads to status quo of white men being seen as better than non-white men, and it closes a lot of fascinating stories that could result from pursuit of the heroine and of how the non-white hero managed to conquer various obstacles and be happy. 

Ultimately, I would love to see more books where the male love interest is non-white so I can tell my son that yes, society does see him as an extraordinary human being instead of something less than, and that he can get the girl of his dreams. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Diverse Reads on my blog #8

It's interesting to note that although 2016 is perhaps one of the most divisive years in terms of politics, events and so forth, I often feel as if the cause and division has inspired people to be more conscientious of others and to demand more diversity in literature. 

Blast from the Past: 


In the Musketeers' final adventure, D'Artagnan remains in the service of the corrupt King Louis XIV after the Three Musketeers have retired and gone their separate ways. Meanwhile, a mysterious prisoner in an iron mask wastes away deep inside the Bastille. When the destinies of king and prisoner converge, the Three Musketeers and D'Artagnan find themselves caught between conflicting loyalties. (from Goodreads Man in Iron Mask)

Why It's Diverse: Because I had incorrect editions at the time, some of the chapters were left out from the Man in the Iron Mask therefore I had to find them online and print them out.The author has Haitian and French ancestry through his father, and if the paintings are to be believed, he appears to have more Haitian ancestry than French. 



Mark has just graduated from high school and has just fallen in love for the first time. THe girl's name is Becky. Unfortunately for Mark, Becky has a boyfriend. Mark tries his best, but he is unable to win Becky for himself. THen Mark meets a young couple: Vincent and Kara. Both look extremely familiar to him, although he could swear he's never seen them before. They quickly become good friends. Kara does not want Mark to give up on Becky. In fact, Kara is obsessed that Mark and Becky get together, and she comes up with an elaborate scheme to break up Becky and her boyfriend. Mark thinks the scheme is cruel. He tries to stop kara. He doesn't succeed. Suddenly Becky is a free woman, and Mark can't help but ask her out on a date. THen things start to get very strange. AN evil man appears out of nowhere. Somebody is kidnapped. Somebdoy is tortured. Kara knows what is happening, but she refuses to talk. SHe has good reason not to talk...no one would believe the story she has to tell. But in the end, Mark does believe her, when all he loves appears to be lost, and the world stands on the verge of destruction.

Why It's Diverse: If I recall correctly, the main character, Mark, has a defect of the heart, but it does show him as the main character in the story. 


Korean American Henry Park is "surreptitious, B+ student of life, illegal alien, emotional alien, Yellow peril: neo-American, stranger, follower, traitor spy..." or so says hiw fie, in the list she writes upon leaving him. Henry is forever uncertain of his place, a perpetual outsider looking at American culture from a distance. And now, a man of two worlds, he is beginning to fear that he has betrayed both-and belongs to neither.

Why It's Diverse: The story is written by a Korean-American male on immigration, spying, and fitting in. I am only sorry that I'm not a big fan of the book






Blast from the Past: Allies of Diversity


A sweeping epic and stunning debut, this novel brings to life the war-torn CHina of the 1920s. On opposite sides of a political and social divide, an exiled Russian girl and a Chinese Communist boy find love; a mother must face what she would rather forget; and an idealist realizes his greatest enemies might be his own kind... Junchow, China, 1928. Perhaps it's her red hair, or her hard life. Whatever the reason, Lydia Ivanova has a fierce spirit. Nothing can dim it, not even the foul waters of the Peiho River. Into the river's grime bodies are tossed, those of thieves and Communists alike. So every time she steals some marketplace treasure, the sixteen-year-old takes her life in her hands. Her mother, Valentina, numbered among the Russian elite until Bolsheviks rounded them up. They took her husband, but Valentina managed to buy back her child and bring her to China. Now, though mother and daughter live in the whites-only International Settlement, no walls can keep Lydia in. She escapes to meet Chang An Lo, a handsome youth with fire in his eyes. He returns her love, but other dangers threaten him. Chiang Kai-Shek's troops are headed toward Junchow to kill Reds like him-and in his possession are the priceless jewels of a dead tsarina, meant as a gift for the despot's wife. Their all-consuming love can only bring shame and peril upon the pair, from both sides. Those in power will do anything to quell it. But Lydia and Chang are powerless to end it...

How it promotes diversity: It takes place in China, and the love interest happens to be a Chinese male. The book also has incredibly strong women characters in terms of Lydia and her mother Valentia, and perhaps its one of the first books that I came across that has a Russian character I could identify with. 


The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior - to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

How it promotes diversity: This is perhaps one of the famous novels about racism and white privilege and importance of fighting even at the cost of losing. Although it is popular with the caucasian crowd, I read that a lot of African-Americans feel uncomfortable and uncertain when it comes to this book. 


Stuck. That’s how 33-year-old aspiring singer Celeste Duncan feels, with her deadbeat boyfriend and static career. But then Celeste receives a puzzling phone call and a box full of mysterious family heirlooms which just might be the first real clue to the identity of the father she never knew. Impulsively, Celeste flies to Japan to search for a long-lost relative who could be able to explain. She stumbles head first into a weird, wonderful world where nothing is quite as it seems—a land with an inexplicable fascination with foreigners, karaoke boxes, and unbearably perky TV stars. 

With little knowledge of Japanese, Celeste finds a friend in her English-speaking homestay brother, Takuya, and comes to depend on him for all variety of translation, travel and investigatory needs. As they cross the country following a trail after Celeste's family, she discovers she's developing "more-than-sisterly" feelings for him. But with a nosy homestay mom scheming to reunite Takuya with his old girlfriend, and her search growing dimmer, Celeste begins to wonder whether she's made a terrible mistake by coming to Japan. Can Celeste find her true self in this strange land, and discover that love can transcend culture?

How it promotes diversity: For one thing it promotes Asian men as love interests to white women, and for another it talks about the everyday modern Japan from a tourist's point of view. I'm sorry I didn't like this book either. 

What I am Reading Now:

Day (The Accident) by Elie Wiesel

"Not since Albert Camus has there been such an eloquent spokesman for man." --The New York Times Book Review

The publication of Day restores Elie Wiesel's original title to the novel initially published in English as The Accident and clearly establishes it as the powerful conclusion to the author's classic trilogy of Holocaust literature, which includes his memoir Night and novel Dawn. "In Night it is the ‘I' who speaks," writes Wiesel. "In the other two, it is the ‘I' who listens and questions."

In its opening paragraphs, a successful journalist and Holocaust survivor steps off a New York City curb and into the path of an oncoming taxi. Consequently, most of Wiesel's masterful portrayal of one man's exploration of the historical tragedy that befell him, his family, and his people transpires in the thoughts, daydreams, and memories of the novel's narrator. Torn between choosing life or death, Day again and again returns to the guiding questions that inform Wiesel's trilogy: the meaning and worth of surviving the annihilation of a race, the effects of the Holocaust upon the modern character of the Jewish people, and the loss of one's religious faith in the face of mass murder and human extermination.

Pages: 232 out of 318

Future Reviews:

Night by Elie Wiesel

Night is Elie Wiesel's masterpiece, a candid, horrific, and deeply poignant autobiographical account of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps. This new translation by Marion Wiesel, Elie's wife and frequent translator, presents this seminal memoir in the language and spirit truest to the author's original intent. And in a substantive new preface, Elie reflects on the enduring importance of Night and his lifelong, passionate dedication to ensuring that the world never forgets man's capacity for inhumanity to man.

Night offers much more than a litany of the daily terrors, everyday perversions, and rampant sadism at Auschwitz and Buchenwald; it also eloquently addresses many of the philosophical as well as personal questions implicit in any serious consideration of what the Holocaust was, what it meant, and what its legacy is and will be.

Dawn by Elie Wiesel

Elisha is a young Jewish man, a Holocaust survivor, and an Israeli freedom fighter in British-controlled Palestine; John Dawson is the captured English officer he will murder at dawn in retribution for the British execution of a fellow freedom fighter. The night-long wait for morning and death provides Dawn, Elie Wiesel's ever more timely novel, with its harrowingly taut, hour-by-hour narrative. Caught between the manifold horrors of the past and the troubling dilemmas of the present, Elisha wrestles with guilt, ghosts, and ultimately God as he waits for the appointed hour and his act of assassination. Dawn is an eloquent meditation on the compromises, justifications, and sacrifices that human beings make when they murder other human beings.





One Half from the East by Nadia Hashimi

Internationally bestselling author Nadia Hashimi’s first novel for young readers is an emotional, beautiful, and riveting coming-of-age journey to modern-day Afghanistan that explores life as a bacha posh—a preteen girl dressed as a boy.

Obayda’s family is in need of some good fortune.

Her father lost one of his legs in a bomb explosion, forcing the family to move from their home city of Kabul to a small village, where life is very different and Obayda’s father almost never leaves his room.

One day, Obayda’s aunt has an idea to bring the family luck—dress Obayda, the youngest of her sisters, as a boy, a bacha posh.

Now Obayda is Obayd.

Life in this in-between place is confusing, but once Obayda meets another bacha posh, everything changes. The two of them can explore the village on their own, climbing trees, playing sports, and more.

But their transformation won’t last forever—unless the two best friends can figure out a way to make it stick and make their newfound freedoms endure.

5 Books I am Planning on Tackling This Year: 

Things We Lost in the Fire: Stories by Mariana Enríquez, Megan McDowell

An arresting collection of short stories, reminiscent of Shirley Jackson and Julio Cortazar, by an exciting new international talent.

Macabre, disturbing and exhilarating, Things We Lost in the Fire is a collection of twelve short stories that use fear and horror to explore multiple dimensions of life in contemporary Argentina. From women who set themselves on fire in protest of domestic violence to angst-ridden teenage girls, friends until death do they part, to street kids and social workers, young women bored of their husbands or boyfriends, to a nine-year-old serial killer of babies and a girl who pulls out her nails and eyelids in the classroom, to hikikomori, abandoned houses, black magic, northern Argentinean superstition, disappearances, crushes, heartbreak, regret and compassion. This is a strange, surreal and unforgettable collection by an astonishing new talent asking vital questions of the world as we know it.

Pages: 200 in my copy

The Republic of Užupis by Haïlji,  Bruce Fulton (Translator), Ju-Chan Fulton (Translator)

Uzupis (on the other side of the river) is, in reality, a neighborhood in Lithuania's capital city of Vilnius, which took the peculiar step of declaring itself an independent republic in 1997. In this novel, however, it is the lost homeland of a middle-aged man named Hal, who lands in Lithuania hoping to travel back to the town of his birth in order to bury his father's ashes there -- in a place that might not really exist. In a literary tradition dominated by social realism, The Republic of Uzupis is a unique work of melancholy, Murakami-esque whimsy.

Pages: 149





Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

A new tour de force from the bestselling author of Free Food for Millionaires, for readers of The Kite Runner and Cutting for Stone.

Pachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan.

So begins a sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, its members are bound together by deep roots as they face enduring questions of faith, family, and identity.

Pages: 481

Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee

Casey Han's four years at Princeton gave her many things, "But no job and a number of bad habits." Casey's parents, who live in Queens, are Korean immigrants working in a dry cleaner, desperately trying to hold on to their culture and their identity. Their daughter, on the other hand, has entered into rarified American society via scholarships. But after graduation, Casey sees the reality of having expensive habits without the means to sustain them. As she navigates Manhattan, we see her life and the lives around her, culminating in a portrait of New York City and its world of haves and have-nots. FREE FOOD FOR MILLIONAIRES offers up a fresh exploration of the complex layers we inhabit both in society and within ourselves. Inspired by 19th century novels such as Vanity Fair and Middlemarch, Min Jin Lee examines maintaining one's identity within changing communities in what is her remarkably assured debut.

Pages: 560

The Patriots by Sana Krasikov

When the Great Depression hits, Florence Fein leaves Brooklyn College for what appears to be a plum job in Moscow—and the promise of love and independence. But once in Russia, she quickly becomes entangled in a country she can’t escape. Many years later, Florence’s son, Julian, will make the opposite journey, immigrating back to the United States. His work in the oil industry takes him on frequent visits to Moscow, and when he learns that Florence’s KGB file has been opened, he arranges a business trip to uncover the truth about his mother, and to convince his son, Lenny, who is trying to make his fortune in the new Russia, to return home. What he discovers is both chilling and heartbreaking: an untold story of what happened to a generation of Americans abandoned by their country.

The Patriots is a riveting evocation of the Cold War years, told with brilliant insight and extraordinary skill. Alternating between Florence’s and Julian’s perspectives, it is at once a mother-son story and a tale of two countries bound in a dialectic dance; a love story and a spy story; both a grand, old-fashioned epic and a contemporary novel of ideas. Through the history of one family moving back and forth between continents over three generations, The Patriots is a poignant tale of the power of love, the rewards and risks of friendship, and the secrets parents and children keep from one another.

Pages: 542
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