Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Diverse Reads on my Blog #14

Diverse Reads on my Blog #14

I really don't have an excuse for being late, aside from life getting in the way. February has mostly been filled with more downs than ups, but I want to be hopeful about the future, although my cynicism is skeptical, but miracles can happen when you least expect them.

The Bible project is something I have been going over in my head for ages, and something I've been questioning for a long long while; should I or should I not? I pride myself on the fact that my blog tends to focus on secular literature with little to no trace of religion permeating the many reviews. But at the same time, I wonder, if many bloggers express their faith and beliefs by reviewing christian fiction and non-fiction, why should that stop me from doing the Bible project to my liking?

Contrary to how it sounds, I still will not be reading and reviewing christian fiction/non-fiction, but I will be giving what I call reviews of both Hebrew and christian testaments, namely how they sound as literature, as well as point out anti-Jewish sentiments within the christian testament.

I also will remind readers that they are not obligated to read reviews that offends their senses, and that I will try to be as respectful as possible because I know many people visit my blog and its not my intention to step on any toes.

Blast from the Past

Burning Tigress by Jade Lee

The Tigress: the Chinese symbol for female sexuality; the counterpart of the male "dragon"; a priestess of a Taoist sect.

Charlotte Wicks wanted more. Running her parents' Shanghai household and caring for her sick brother was necessary drudgery, but a true 19th century woman deserved something deeper-her body cried out for it! Through a Taoist method, her friend Joanna Crane had reached Heaven on Earth, became a Tigress, found true bliss. Why should Charlotte be denied the same? She'd seen the scrolls. All she needed was guidance.

Her mother would call her wanton. Wicked. She would label Charlotte's curiosity evil, and invoke divine judgment. Certainly the teacher Charlotte desired was fearsome. Glimpses of his body inspired awe: flutters in the stomach and tingling in her core. And with the dark command she saw in his eyes, this door that they opened might never be closed. The man had a reputation among the females of the city as a ruthless seducer...but also as a bringer of great pleasure. There was only one choice to make.

Why its diverse: 

author is of Chinese/Caucasian ancenstry

Autumn Bridge by Takashi Matsuoka

In the year 1311, in the highest tower of Cloud of Sparrows Castle, a beautiful woman sits by the window, watching as enemies gather below and fires spread through the night. As she calmly awaits her fate, she begins to write, carefully setting down on a scroll the secret history of the Okumichi clan…of the gift of prophecy they share and the extraordinary destiny that awaits them. 

For six centuries, these remarkable writings lay hidden—until they are uncovered by an American woman, a missionary named Emily Gibson, who arrived in Edo harbor in 1861, in flight from a tragic past. Soon an extraordinary man would enter her life: Lord Genji of the Okumichi clan, a nobleman with a gift of prophecy who must defend his embattled family—and confront forbidden feelings for an outsider in his midst. Emily, too, soon finds herself at a turning point; courted by two westerners, she knows her heart belongs to the one man she cannot have. But Emily has found a mission of her own: translating Genji’s ancestral history, losing herself in an epic tale of heroism and forbidden love. 

For here is the story of Lady Shizuka, the beautiful witch-princess who has enchanted Okumichi men for generations…of Genji’s ancestors, Lord Hironobu and Lord Kiyori, and of the terrible betrayals that befell them…and of Genji’s parents: a wastrel father and his child bride whose tragic love has shaped Genji as a leader and as a man. As Emily sifts through the fragile scrolls, she begins to see threads of her own life woven into the ancient writings. And as past and present collide, a hidden history comes to life, and with it a secret prophecy that has been shrouded for centuries, and may now finally be revealed. Takashi Matsuoka’s spellbinding novel is infused with spectacle, intricately woven, magically told. Autumn Bridge is a feast for the senses, a work of truly dazzling storytelling.

Why its diverse: 

author is of Japanese ancenstry

Stanford Wong Flunks Big Time by Lisa Yee

"We interrupt your lives to announce Stanford Wong has flunked sixth grade!!!"

All right, so maybe there hasn't been an announcement like that. But that's the way it feels to Stanford. He's used to being a hero on hte basketball court, where he's the first sixth-grader ever to make the A-team, and just getting by in class.

But when he flunks English-Flunks it big time-and learns he'll have to trade basketball camp for summer school, Stanford freaks out. His friends can't know or they'll dump him. His had has to know and it's awful. The beautiful Emily Ebers will never like him if he's stupid. And when his mom hires a tutor for him-Millicent Min, genius, jerk, and poster girl from Chinese geekdom- Stanford knows it's happened: His life is officially over.

Why its diverse: 

author is of Chinese ancestry

Blast from the Past: Allies of Diversity

Brother Wind by Sue Harrison

In a time before time at the top of the world-in a harsh and unforgiving age of ice-courage will sustain three remarkable souls through trials as bitter as the chill winds of the eternal winter.

Claimed by a brutal, despised enemy, Kiin must sacrifice her love for the sake of her tribe and hte safety of her children. Left widowed and helpless among the Whale Hunters, Kukutux now faces the impossible challenge of surviving alone. While Samiq, wounded and a hunter no more, must take up the mantle of leadership and guide a devastated people abandoned by their gods.

At the dawn of humanity, their extraordinary destinies intertwine. And through hardship and adventure, they endure-confronting the cruelty of man, fate and nature with the indomitable strength of heart and spirit.

What diversity it has: 

author portrays Inuits as extremely complex human beings instead of something "other" or mystical.

What I am Reading Now:


Future Reviews:

My Sister's Bones by Nuala Ellwood (main characters suffers from PTSD, while another is alcoholic, for Fresh Fiction)

In the vein of Fiona Barton's The Widow and RenĂ©e Knight's Disclaimer, a psychological thriller about a war reporter who returns to her childhood home after her mother's death but becomes convinced that all is not well in the house next door—but is what she’s seeing real or a symptom of the trauma she suffered in Syria?

The One Person You Should Trust Is Lying to You…

Kate has spent fifteen years bringing global injustice home: as a decorated war reporter, she’s always in a place of conflict, writing about ordinary people in unimaginable situations. When her mother dies, Kate returns home from Syria for the funeral. But an incident with a young Syrian boy haunts her dreams, and when Kate sees a boy in the garden of the house next door—a house inhabited by an Iraqi refugee who claims her husband is away and she has no children—Kate becomes convinced that something is very wrong.

As she struggles to separate her memories of Syria from the quiet town in which she grew up—and also to reconcile her memories of a traumatic childhood with her sister’s insistence that all was not as Kate remembers—she begins to wonder what is actually true…and what is just in her mind.

In this gripping, timely debut, Nuala Ellwood brings us an unforgettable damaged character, a haunting , humanizing look at the Syrian conflict, and a deeply harrowing psychological thriller that readers won’t be able to put down.

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.

The Girls by Emma Cline

Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures by Anne Fadiman

The Spirit Catches you and you fall down explores the clash between a small county hospital in California and a refugee family from laos over the care of Lia Lee, a Hmong child diagnosed with severe epilepsy. Lia's parents and her doctors both wanted what was best for Lia, but the lack of understanding between them led to tragedy. Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Non-fiction, Anne Fadiman's compassionate account of this cultural impasse is literary journalism at its finest.

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 Wisel

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.

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.

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.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Henrietta Lacks, as HeLa, is known to present-day scientists for her cells from cervical cancer. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells were taken without her knowledge and still live decades after her death. Cells descended from her may weigh more than 50M metric tons.

HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks was buried in an unmarked grave.

The journey starts in the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s, her small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia — wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo. Today are stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells, East Baltimore children and grandchildren live in obscurity, see no profits, and feel violated. The dark history of experimentation on African Americans helped lead to the birth of bioethics, and legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.

Hotel on the corner of bitter and sweet by Jamie Ford

Set during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history - the internment of American-Japanese families during World War II - Jamie Ford has created an unforgettable duo whose story teaches us about forgiveness and the power of the human heart.

In the opening pages of Jamie Ford’s stunning debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle’s Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.

This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war, when young Henry’s world is a jumble of confusion and excitement, and to his father, who is obsessed with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While “scholarshipping” at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship–and innocent love–that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. And after Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment camps, she and Henry are left only with the hope that the war will end, and that their promise to each other will be kept.

Forty years later, Henry Lee is certain that the parasol belonged to Keiko. In the hotel’s dark dusty basement he begins looking for signs of the Okabe family’s belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot begin to measure. Now a widower, Henry is still trying to find his voice–words that might explain the actions of his nationalistic father; words that might bridge the gap between him and his modern, Chinese American son; words that might help him confront the choices he made many years ago.

Set during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope. In Henry and Keiko, Jamie Ford has created an unforgettable duo whose story teaches us of the power of forgiveness and the human heart.

The Carrion Birds by Urban Waite

Set in a small town in the Southwest, a soulful work of literary noir rife with violence, vengeance, and contrition from a fresh voice in fiction-the author of the highly acclaimed The Terror of Living

Life hasn't worked out the way Ray Lamar planned. A widower and father who has made some tragic mistakes, he's got one good thing going for him: he's calm, cool, and efficient under pressure, usually with a gun in his hand. A useful skill to have when you're paid to hurt people who stand in your boss's way.

But Ray isn't sure he wants to be that man anymore. He wants to go home to Coronado, New Mexico, to see the twelve-year-old son he hopes will recognize him. He wants to make a new life far from the violence of the last ten years. One last job will take him there. All he has to do is steal a rival's stash. Simple, easy, clean.

Ray knows there's no such thing as easy, and sure enough, the first day ends in a catastrophic mess. Now, the runners who have always moved quietly through this idyllic desert town on the Mexican border want answers. And revenge. Short on time, with no one to trust but himself, Ray must come up with a clever plan or Coronado's newly appointed lady sheriff will have a vicious bloodbath on her hands.

Relentlessly paced and beautifully orchestrated, with refreshingly real, vulnerable, and very human characters and a vivid sense of place, The Carrion Birds is an unsettling and indelible work of literary noir in the tradition of Cormac McCarthy, Elmore Leonard, and Dennis Lehane.

5 Books I am planning on tackling this year:

Eternal Life by Dara Horn

Rachel is a woman with a problem: she can’t die. Her recent troubles—widowhood, a failing business, an unemployed middle-aged son—are only the latest in a litany spanning dozens of countries, scores of marriages, and hundreds of children. In the 2,000 years since she made a spiritual bargain to save the life of her first son back in Roman-occupied Jerusalem, she’s tried everything to free herself, and only one other person in the world understands: a man she once loved passionately, who has been stalking her through the centuries, convinced they belong together forever.

But as the twenty-first century begins and her children and grandchildren—consumed with immortality in their own ways, from the frontiers of digital currency to genetic engineering—develop new technologies that could change her fate and theirs, Rachel knows she must find a way out.

Gripping, hilarious, and profoundly moving, Eternal Life celebrates the bonds between generations, the power of faith, the purpose of death, and the reasons for being alive.

Pages: 233

Love, and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford

A powerful novel about an orphan boy who is raffled off at Seattle’s 1909 World Fair, and the friends who teach him what it really means to have a family, from the author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.

Inspired by a true story, this is the unforgettable story of a young boy named Ernest, set during the 1909 Seattle world’s fair called the Alaska Yukon Pacific Expo. It is a time when the magical wonders of technology on display at the expo future seems limitless. But for Ernest, a half-Chinese orphan who found his way to America through a last desperate act of his beloved mother, every door is closed. A charity student at a boarding school, he has never really had a place to call home. Then one day, his wealthy sponsor announces that if a home is what he wants, then that is what he will have: Ernest will be offered as a prize in the daily raffle at the fair, advertised as “Healthy boy to a good home for the winning ticket holder.” The woman who “wins” him is the madam of a notorious brothel who was famous for educating her girls. He becomes a houseboy in her brothel and is befriended by the daughter of the madam, as well as a Japanese girl who works in the kitchen. The friendship and love between these three form the first real family Ernest has ever known.

Pages: 304

Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao

A searing, electrifying debut novel set in India and America, about a once-in-a-lifetime friendship between two girls who are driven apart but never stop trying to find one another again.

When Poornima first meets Savitha, she feels something she thought she lost for good when her mother died: hope. Poornima's father hires Savitha to work one of their sari looms, and the two girls are quickly drawn to one another. Savitha is even more impoverished than Poornima, but she is full of passion and energy. She shows Poornima how to find beauty in a bolt of indigo cloth, a bowl of yogurt rice and bananas, the warmth of friendship. Suddenly their Indian village doesn't feel quite so claustrophobic, and Poornima begins to imagine a life beyond the arranged marriage her father is desperate to lock down for her. But when a devastating act of cruelty drives Savitha away, Poornima leaves behind everything she has ever known to find her friend again. Her journey takes her into the darkest corners of India's underworld, on a harrowing cross-continental journey, and eventually to an apartment complex in Seattle. Alternating between the girls’ perspectives as they face relentless obstacles, Girls Burn Brighter introduces two heroines who never lose the hope that burns within them.

In breathtaking prose, Shobha Rao tackles the most urgent issues facing women today: domestic abuse, human trafficking, immigration, and feminism. At once a propulsive page-turner and a heart-wrenching meditation on friendship, Rao's debut novel is a literary tour de force.

Pages: 307

Israela by Batya Casper

In my heart, I call to their mothers, 'Take your sons to your houses. Bind them to your chairs; gag them, blindfold them if necessary until they grow calm. Then teach them, for they have forgotten, about peace, about the blessed life, about a future-a present-without pain.' Beneath their prayers, in their morning cups of coffee, beneath their love-making and their child-rearing, and in their sorrow, especially in their sorrow when burying their dead, I hear the simmering of heating souls; I smell the charge of armies, of lives exploding uselessly into smithereens. I sit in mourning over a disaster still to come. In Israel, the lives of three women interweave with the story of their country. Ratiba, an Israeli journalist, turns her back on her heritage to marry an Israeli Arab. Her sister Orit, an actor, lives alone and longs for her lost sister. Elisheva is a nurse who dedicates her life to the wounded and the dying. As their lives unfold, the three women find themselves facing choices they would never have envisioned. This is a story of secrets and alienation, yet also of hope and heroism. It is about Arabs who save Jews from disaster and Jews who heal Arabs. It is the story of everyday people torn and desperately searching for the right path. Here, the ancient pulsates in present time and the biblical holds prominence with the secular. Beneath this modern-day drama unfolds the story of a land and its people, revealing the historical trajectory of two peoples, victims and perpetrators of a biblical curse 'This perceptive, poignant novel offers a fresh and essential outlook on Israel. With memorable characters and an abundance of drama, Israela is gripping reading.' - Lou Aronica, New York Times bestselling author

Pages: 365

Forgotten Reflections by Young-Im Lee

In the current international climate where North Korea takes center stage, “Forgotten Reflections” weaves an inspirational tale of family, lost memories, folklore and an unforgotten history, spanning three generations as South Korea rises from the ashes.


1945. Rice fields seem endless in a quaint farming village of South Korea, yet Iseul the villagers have been starving for as long as they can remember. Their Japanese colonizers have taken every last grain with them as they are finally forced out of the Peninsula. In the newly independent Korea, Iseul and Jung-Soo dream of what their future might bring. Yet, war is on the horizon, and Iseul has fallen for an alleged North Korean communist spy.

Men are conscripted and rice is taken to feed the growing army as the Peninsula is thrust into an international war that would determine if the strategic region will become communist or democratic. With nothing but the news of death and hunger awaiting the village of women, children and the aged, Iseul musters up whatever hope she has left to bring the village together to make paper. Soon, the village once known for its rice, becomes famous for its paper, becoming a beacon of hope for their battle-worn soldiers awaiting letters from their loved ones.

Yet spies and communists continue to roam South Korea, turning neighbors and families against one another. For years, Jung-Soo has been suspicious of his father’s allegiances. With a series of mysterious revelations about his father, Jung-Soo is forced to choose between his tainted communist past, and the future he hopes to have with Iseul after the war.

Pages: 476

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

G967 Book Review of The company files the good man by Gabriel Valjan

Name of Book:The Company Files: 1. The Good Man

Author: Gabriel Valjan

ISBN: 9781941058732

Publisher: Winter Goose Publishing

Part of a Series: The Company Files

Type of book: Spying, 1948-1950, Vienna Austria, British, German, Russians, reprisals, former Nazis, secrets, Americans, allies, wild cards, mysterious coins

Year it was published: 2017


Jack Marshall had served with Walker during the war, and now they work for The Company in postwar Vienna. With the help of Leslie, an analyst who worked undercover gathering intelligence from Hitler’s inner circle, they are tasked to do the inconceivable: recruit former Nazis with knowledge that can help the U.S. in the atomic race. But someone else is looking for these men. And when he finds them, he does not leave them alive. In this tale of historical noir, of corruption and deceit, no one is who they say they are. Who is The Good Man in a world where an enemy may be a friend, an ally the enemy, and governments deny everything?


Main characters include Jack Marshall who is best described as the brains behind trying to figure out what happened to his friend Whittaker. He is resourceful, intelligent and cunning as well as loyal to his friends, be they new or old. Walker is intelligent but seems to lack creativity that Jack has. He has been trying to get over a girl and is also loyal. There is also Sheldon, a mysterious Jewish tailor who also was a Kommando in Auschwitz and who helps out Jack and and Walker. There are villains such as Mr. Meeks, a Southerner who loves to believe he is British and another mysterious villain is exposed towards the end. Leslie and Whittaker are best described as wild-cards because one doesn't know where their loyalties lie. 


Everyone has secrets they don't want exposed, enemy of my enemy is my friend


The story is written in third person narrative primarily from Walker's, Jack's and Sheldon's points of view. I have to say that I really enjoyed the double entendres Sheldon gives to Jack and Walker when they confront him about his activities. Power play and shifting allegiances between the players also add to a lot of fun as well as figuring what each player wants and how they will get it.

Author Information:
(From iRead Book Tours)

Buy the Book:
Add to Goodreads

Meet the Author:

Gabriel Valjan is the author of The Roma Seriesfrom Winter Goose Publishing. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts, where he enjoys the local restaurants, and his two cats, Squeak and Squawk, keep him honest to the story on the screen.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook


I know that I liked and enjoyed the book a lot, but trying to understand what is going on takes up a lot of mental fortitude to sift through the plot and the characters and put the pieces together and hope that you are understanding the tale correctly. Its really unlike anything else I've read. The author parcels out information about the main characters but at the same time he gives enough to be satisfied. The characters tend to cross, double cross as well as triple cross the nations they work for and its dizzying to watch how they switch allegiances. For a mental puzzle don't miss this one out.

This is for iRead Book Tours


Feb 12 - Working Mommy Journal - review / giveaway
Feb 13 - The All Night Library - review / author interview
Feb 14 - The World As I See It - review / giveaway
Feb 15 - Olio by Marilyn - review / giveaway
Feb 16 - T's Stuff - book spotlight / guest post ./ giveaway
Feb 19 - Rocksprings Crafts - review / giveaway
Feb 20 - A Mama's Corner of the World - review / giveaway
Feb 21 - Library of Clean Reads - review / giveaway
Feb 22 - Writers and Authors - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Feb 23 - The Book Drealms - book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 23 - 411 on Books, Authors, and Publishing News - bk spotlight / interview /gw
Feb 26 - Bound 4 Escape - review / giveaway
Feb 26 - Hall Ways Blog - review / giveaway
Feb 27 - Svetlana's Reads and Views - review 
Feb 28 - Rockin' Book Reviews - review / guest post / giveaway
March 1 - Jayne’s Books - review 
March 1 - JBronder Book Reviews - review / guest post
March 2 - Laurie's Thoughts and Reviews - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway

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

Monday, February 26, 2018

G974 Book Review of That woman by Wayne Clark

Name of Book: That Woman

Author: Wayne Clark

ISBN: 9780992120269

Publisher: Createspace

Type of book: 1748-1755, New York, kidnapping, France, surviving, resourcefulness, revenge, payback, trading, indentured servitude, land schemes, business, merchants

Year it was published: 2017


Beating the Odds in Colonial New York

• 2017 Book Excellence Awards Finalist for Fiction
• 2017 Winner 50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading

Kidnapped in France and brought to America as an indentured servant, a young woman takes on the brutal merchant king of New York’s East River waterfront…

Illness suddenly deprives 17-year-old Sarah Da Silva and her older brother Jacob of a mother. Before Sarah has come to terms with that loss, her merchant father grows frail and increasingly desperate in the face of impending bankruptcy. On the rainy night their father scours the docks of Bordeaux, France, to make his final bid to save his family, his children are kidnapped and forced onto a ship bound for New York City where they’ll be separated and sold to the highest bidder as indentured labor.

Purchased by a grotesque merchant whose wealth, backed by a team of henchmen, allows him to dominate the chaotic East River docks, Sarah strikes back the only way she can. Vowing to never allow him to put his hands on her again, she presses a knife to his fat neck. She demands her freedom, a roof over her head and the means to start a business. Her leverage? Knowledge obtained on the voyage that would bring the big man to his knees forever. He yields to her demands but privately swears to become her worst nightmare.


Main characters include Sarah and Jacob as well as their associated such as Noah, and Michel. Sarah is Jacob's younger sister who is very business oriented and who desires to become a merchant. She is extremely resourceful and often seems to be the boss rather than her brother. She has little to no ties to her Jewish faith and it seems that in almost everything but human emotions she is gifted. Jacob is gifted as an engraver and he seems to be second best when compared with Sarah, however he seems to be content in that role. He is extremely loyal and dedicated to Sarah and will do whatever he can for her. Noah is their friend who is a free African and who has his own reasons  and secrets in doing what he does. Michel is a French merchant as well as someone who loves Sarah and will do what he can in helping her out.


Be careful whom you upset


The story is in third person narrative from what seems to be everyone's point of view, although the primary character is Sarah. I appreciated that Sarah is drawn as a strong character who has strong business acumen and is determined to become a merchant. The pacing of the story doesn't really match what I was promised, and for some odd reason I had trouble believing Noah's friendship with da Silva siblings. I also had trouble getting emotionally invested with the characters. I did love some
of the details that the author provided about how indentured servitude worked and the perils that indentured servants faced.

Author Information:

(From HFVBT)

About the Author

Award-winning author Wayne Clark was born in 1946 in Ottawa, Ont., but has called Montreal home since 1968. Woven through that time frame in no particular order have been interludes in Halifax, Toronto, Vancouver, Germany, Holland and Mexico.

By far the biggest slice in a pie chart of his career would be labelled journalism, including newspapers and magazines, as a reporter, editor and freelance writer. The other, smaller slices of the pie would also represent words in one form or another, in advertising as a copywriter and as a freelance translator. However, unquantifiable in a pie chart would be the slivers and shreds of time stolen over the years to write fiction.

For more information, please visit Wayne Clark’s website and blog. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


I hate being in minority when it comes to disliking books, but it seems that is the case for this book. On the surface the book promised perfect ingredients of intrigue, colonial history, and a strong female character, which is what we get. What I didn't count on are the lack of secondary ingredients such as pacing not matching the blurb nor the cover, lack of details when it comes to physical world which removed me a lot from the story nor the proper suspense. The blurb and the cover caused me to think that this is a fast paced story of maneuvering as well as cat and mouse between the figurative David and Goliath. What it seemed to be, rather, is slow paced which is not a bad thing, but it also lacked in description of the world that Sarah and her allies inhabit. What also bugged me a lot is that there is mention that Sarah and her brother Jacob are Sephardic Jews, but they are Sephardic Jews who have no knowledge of Ladino, a dialect that Sephardic Jews speak. Also as well, there is mention of guillotine at one time, but I believe that guillotine came into prominence during French Revolution which was twenty years after the story was set. I understand that the author was careful in trying to recreate the physical world that the characters inhabited, but I feel that when it comes to small details, the author wasn't as careful as I wished.

This is for HFVBT

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, January 29
Interview at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, January 30
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Wednesday, January 31
Feature at Let Them Read Books
Saturday, February 3
Review at Bookworms Anonymous
Thursday, February 8
Review at Donna’s Book Blog
Friday, February 9
Feature at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots
Monday, February 12
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Tuesday, February 13
Review at Historical Fiction Reviews

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.)

G955 Book Review of necessities by Boyd Taylor

Name of Book: Necessities

Author: Boyd Taylor

ISBN: 978-0-9894707-3-5

Publisher: Katherine Brown Press

Part of a Series: Donnie Ray Cuinn Series

Type of book: PTSD, war hero, double amputee, determination, newspaper business, quirky characters, wealth, secrets, Akron Ohio, Austin, Texas

Year it was published: 2017


Donnie Ray Cuinn returns to Austin to defend a war hero accused of murder. David Lewis lost both legs in Iraq, but he has overcome his nightmares and his disabilities by sheer willpower. He has learned to run and to box and is a successful newspaperman with a beautiful wife and son. Now the nightmares have returned and he must stand trial for murder. With twists that never seem to end, this gripping legal thriller is filled with suspense and indelibly drawn characters dealing with love and betrayal.


Main characters include David Lewis, a war hero of Iraq who is a double amputee and has married into the wealthy Lehrer family. David is an admirable yet a flawed human being who seems to be a bit naive when it comes to real life but in business he is competitive and admirable as well as ambitious. Other characters include the Lehrer family such as David's wife Cordelia and her personal assistant Francois and Donnie Ray Cuinn and Anna Kay Nordstrom whom the readers will remember from first and third books. Donnie Ray is best described as sincere and determined to do what he can for his client. Anna Kay Nordstrom is charismatic and isn't afraid of the world. Cordelia is very business oriented and will do things by the book.


You never know what will happen


The story is told in first and third person narrative. First person is from David Lewis's point of view when he was detailing his life in the file he gave to Donnie Ray to read, and third in Donnie Ray's point of view from the trial and things he had done. The story is good as a stand-alone, as well as gripping and catching in what the jury will decide, whether or not David has killed accidentally or on purpose.

Author Information:
(From the website)

Buy the Books:
Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble
Add to Goodreads

Meet the Author:

BOYD TAYLOR lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and their Havanese dog Toby. Necessities is the fourth novel in the Donnie Ray Cuinn series. In a former life, Boyd was a lawyer and a corporate officer. A native of Temple, Texas, he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in government and an LL.B. from the law school.

​Boyd's first novel "Hero" was prescient in its story about fake news. His second novel, "The Antelope Play," dealt with drug trafficking in the Texas Panhandle, an unfortunately accurate forecast. The third, "The Monkey House", involved commercial development of a large green space in the center of Austin, all too familiar to Austin residents. Whether his upcoming novel "Necessities" predicts future events with the accuracy of the earlier books remains to be seen.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Facebook

I have read the previous three books in Donnie Ray Cuinn series, and aside from the first one, Hero, I had trouble liking the second and third books of the series. The fourth book, however, is pure brilliance because the story draws the reader in and the reader isn't confused about what is going on or why its going on. The book can be read as a standalone because most of the focus is on the quirky yet lovable characters and Donnie Ray's past life isn't brought up as often. If there will be future installments, I'm really hoping the author will create them in similar format to what he used in Necessities.

This is for iRead Book Tours


Jan 3 - Library of Clean Reads - tour kickoff / spotlight all 4 books / giveaway
Jan 4 - Library of Clean Reads - review of Hero / giveaway
Jan 5 - Literary Flits - review of Hero / giveaway
Jan 8 - Svetlana's Reads and Views - review of Hero
Jan 9 - Olio by Marilyn - review of Hero / author interview / giveaway
Jan 10 - Library of Clean Reads - review of The Antelope Play / giveaway
Jan 15 - Library of Clean Reads - review of The Monkey House / giveaway
Jan 17 - Olio by Marilyn - review of The Antelope Play / giveaway
Jan 18 - Books for Books - review of Hero
Jan 19 - Literary Flits - spotlight of The Antelope Play / giveaway
Jan 22 - Svetlana's Reads and Views - review of The Antelope Play
Jan 23 - A Mama's Corner of the World - spotlight of Books 1, 2 and 3
Jan 24 - Hall Ways Blog - spotlight of Books 1, 2 and 3
Jan 25 - Books for Books - review of The Antelope Play
Jan 26 - Olio by Marilyn - review of The Monkey House / giveaway
Jan 30 - A Mama's Corner of the World - review of Necessities / giveaway
Jan 30 - Rockin' Book Reviews - review of Hero / guest post / giveaway
Jan 31 - Hall Ways Blog - review of Necessities / giveaway
Feb 5 - Literary Flits - spotlight of The Monkey House / giveaway
Feb 6 - Books for Books - review of The Monkey House
Feb 7 - Bound 4 Escape - review of Hero / giveaway
Feb 7 - Rockin' Book Reviews - review of The Antelope Play / giveaway
Feb 8 - Olio by Marilyn - review of Necessities / giveaway
Feb 9 - A Page Before Bedtime - review of Necessities / giveaway
Feb 13 - Rockin' Book Reviews - review of The Monkey House / giveaway
Feb 14 - Bound 4 Escape - review of The Antelope Play / giveaway
Feb 14 - Library of Clean Reads - review of Necessities / giveaway
Feb 14 - Svetlana's Reads and Views - review of The Monkey House
Feb 14 - Books and Tea - review of Hero
Feb 15 - Books for Books - review of Necessities
Feb 15 - Booklove - review of Hero
Feb 16 - Fantastic Feathers - review of Necessities
Feb 19 - FUONLYKNEW - review of Hero / giveaway
Feb 19 - Literary Flits - review of Necessities / giveaway
Feb 20 - Booklove - review of The Antelope Play
Feb 20 - FUONLYKNEW - review of The Antelope Play / giveaway
Feb 21 - FUONLYKNEW - review of The Monkey House / giveaway
Feb 21 - Bound 4 Escape - review of The Monkey House / giveaway
Feb 21 - Rockin' Book Reviews - review of Necessities / giveaway
Feb 22 - JBronder Book Reviews - review of Necessities / guest post / giveaway
Feb 22 - FUONLYKNEW - review of Necessities / giveaway
Feb 22 - Books and Tea - review of The Antelope Play
Feb 23 - JBronder Book Reviews - review of Hero / giveaway
Feb 23 - Books are Love - review of Hero / guest post / giveaway
​Feb 23 - Booklove - review of The Monkey House
Feb 26 - Svetlana's Reads and Views - review of Necessities
Feb 26 - JBronder Book Reviews - review of The Monkey House/ giveaway
Feb 26 - Books are Love - review of he Antelope Play / giveaway
Feb 26 - Books and Tea - review of The Monkey House
Feb 27 - JBronder Book Reviews - review of Necessities / guest post / giveaway
Feb 27 - Books are Love - review of The Monkey House / giveaway
Feb 28 - Bound 4 Escape - review of Necessities / giveaway
Feb 28 - Books are Love - review of Necessities / giveaway
​Feb 28 - Booklove - review of Necessities
Feb 28 - Books and Tea - review of Necessities
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.)

Saturday, February 24, 2018

G966 golden gremlin; a vigorous push from misanthropes and geezers

Title of the book: golden gremlin; a vigorous push from misanthropes and geezers

Author: Rod a. Walters

Publisher: Omega Man

Publishing Date: 2016

ISBN: 978-09841792-0-6


From GOLDEN GREMLIN, you will learn all kinds of useful tidbits (and bigbits) from experienced misanthropes and geezers about how the world really runs, or at least how so much of it got messed up. E.g.: - NATURE: boys, dog poop, and carbon footprints. - WORDS: the real meaning of -Caucasian.- - BUSINESS: stakeholders, esp. through the heart. - KITCHENS: cooking up tasty Dollar Store kale. - HISTORY: how Hell froze, and how Earth Day got born. - Golden boy gets to be GOLDEN GREMLIN. - Seasonally warm gremlin songs. Sort of. Follow golden gremlin Poppy through this vigorous and funny adventure.

Author Info:

Buy the Book:
​​Add to Goodreads

Meet the Author:

Rod Walters lives and writes in upstate New York to prove he can be an all-season writer. Since he wants everybody to be all-season persons no matter her or his circumstance, his writing aims sharply toward the practical—without turning into one of those godawful do it ma’ way authors. Life, after all, is practical hour by hour. Self-described as “old enough to know better, and he probably is,” his former life as Army officer, engineer, and administrative assistant could not have better prepared him to write both light and more serious short pieces pointing to creating a balanced life. Chuckling at yourself usually makes a good takeoff, he says. Giving up having to be certain makes for a good landing, especially for one’s friends! Then again, who the heck wants to live a balanced life? Mostly everybody does. That’s why he now writes. Although many friends nudge and badger him to be a Facebook and Twitter butterfly, he tries not to spend many numbing hours a day with circular keyboard tapping. Writing works better.

Connect with the Author: Website

Personal Opinion:

I honestly don't think I was the right audience for the book. Some of the stories did have humor and were funny, in particular the mention of how to be smarter than everyone else, but every other story has really gone over my head. Usually when it comes to books I attempt to find something unifying in the stories, but here it seems the author was all over the place and I couldn't understand if he was going for Abe Simpson from The Simpsons or for Peter Griffin's What Really Grinds his gears from Family Guy. Also I believe the jokes are geared towards male audience, not women.

This is for iRead Book Tours


​Feb 12 - Library of Clean Reads - review / giveaway
Feb 14 - Simple Wyrdings - review / guest post / giveaway
Feb 14 - Amie's Book Reviews - review / giveaway
Feb 14 - The World As I See It - review / giveaway
Feb 15 - The All Night Library - review / author interview
Feb 16 - Bound 4 Escape - review / giveaway
Feb 19 - A Mama's Corner of the World - review / giveaway
Feb 20 - The Irresponsible Reader - review / guest post / giveaway
Feb 21 - - review / giveaway
Feb 22 - Rockin' Book Reviews - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Feb 23 - Svetlana's Reads and Views - review
Feb 23 - Books for Books - review
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, February 19, 2018

G972 the once and future queen; Guinevere in Arthurian Legend

Title of the book: The Once and Future Queen

Author: Nicole Evelina

Publisher: Lawson Gartner Press

Publishing Date: 2017

ISBN: 9780996763240


Guinevere’s journey from literary sinner to feminist icon took over one thousand years…and it’s not over yet.

Literature tells us painfully little about Guinevere, mostly focusing on her sin and betrayal of Arthur and Camelot. As a result, she is often seen as a one-dimensional character. But there is more to her story. By examining popular works of more than 20 authors over the last one thousand years, The Once and Future Queen shows how Guinevere reflects attitudes toward women during the time in which her story was written, changing to suit the expectations of her audience. Beginning in Celtic times and continuing through the present day, this book synthesizes academic criticism and popular opinion into a highly readable, approachable work that fills a gap in Arthurian material available to the general public.

Nicole Evelina has spent more than 15 years studying Arthurian legend. She is also a feminist known for her fictional portrayals of strong historical and legendary women, including Guinevere. Now, she combines these two passions to examine the effect of changing times and attitudes on the character of Guinevere in a must-read book for Arthurian enthusiasts of every knowledge level.

Author Info:
(From HFVBT)

About the Author

Nicole Evelina is a multi-award-winning historical fiction, romantic comedy and non-fiction writer, whose four novels have collectively won over 20 awards, including two Book of the Year designations (Daughter of Destiny by Chanticleer Reviews and Camelot’s Queen by Author’s Circle). Her most recent book, THE ONCE AND FUTURE QUEEN, traces the evolution of the character of Guinevere in Arthurian legend from her Celtic roots to the present day, showing how the character changed along with the period’s views of women. Nicole is currently working on MISTRESS OF LEGEND (2018), the final book in her Guinevere’s Tale trilogy.

As an armchair historian, Nicole researches her books extensively, consulting with biographers, historical societies and traveling to locations when possible. For example, she traveled to England twice to research the Guinevere’s Tale trilogy, where she consulted with internationally acclaimed author and historian Geoffrey Ashe, as well as Arthurian/Glastonbury expert Jaime George, the man who helped Marion Zimmer Bradley research The Mists of Avalon.

Nicole is a member of and book reviewer for The Historical Novel Society, as well as a member of the Historical Fiction Writers of America, International Arthurian Society – North American Branch, Romantic Novelists Association, Novelists, Inc., the St. Louis Writer’s Guild, Alliance of Independent Authors, the Independent Book Publishers Association and the Midwest Publisher’s Association.

For more information, please visit Nicole Evelina’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Goodreads. Sign up for Nicole’s newsletter to receive news and updates.

Personal Opinion:

I came across King Arthur myths when in middle school I began to read Bulfinch's Mythology, in particular the Greek/Roman myths. As a naive and inexperienced teen, I honestly had trouble and difficulty reconciling the idea of infidelity in marriage or that sex could play such a huge role in people's lives. To my teenage eyes, Queen Guinevere became the villain in my eyes due to her deed with Sir Lancelot. Trying to figure out Queen Guinevere and her motivations had stayed with me for a long time, and its only when I began growing up and gaining experience in my own life did I finally stop seeing her as a villain and finally saw her as a flawed woman. Unfortunately Bulfinch's mythology wasn't covered in the book, but the fascinating evolution of how Queen Guinevere became whom she was is covered in a lot of detail, and as she is covered, the reader is taken through time from the earliest fragments of 5th century Britain to more modern times. For those who are also seeking fictional works on King Arthur and how they differ from one another should also take a look.

This is for HFVBT

Blog Tour Schedule

Wednesday, January 31
Interview at Passages to the Past

Thursday, February 1
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Friday, February 2
Feature at A Bookaholic Swede
Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, February 6
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Wednesday, February 7
Excerpt at What Cathy Read Next

Thursday, February 8
Feature at Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Friday, February 9
Interview at Donna’s Book Blog

Monday, February 12
Review at Bookworms Anonymous
Feature at View from the Birdhouse

Tuesday, February 13
Feature at A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, February 14
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Thursday, February 15
Feature at Just One More Chapter

Friday, February 16
Guest Post at The Writing Desk

Monday, February 19
Review at Clarissa Reads it All

Thursday, February 22
Feature at A Holland Reads

Monday, February 26
Review at Cup of Sensibility
Feature at The Lit Bitch

Tuesday, February 27
Review at Curling Up by the Fire

Wednesday, February 28
Feature at Historical Fiction with Spirit

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