Thursday, February 21, 2019

Book Spotlight for The Chef's Secret by Crystal King

Book Details:

Book Title: The Chef's Secret by Crystal King

Category: Adult fiction, 352 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Atria/Simon & Schuster

Release date: Feb 12, 2019

Tour dates: Feb 11 to 28, 2019

Content Rating: R (for a couple of explicit, but loving, sex scenes (no abuse or rape) and minor curse words)

Book Description:

A captivating novel of Renaissance Italy detailing the mysterious life of Bartolomeo Scappi, the legendary chef to several popes and author of one of the bestselling cookbooks of all time, and the nephew who sets out to discover his late uncle’s secrets—including the identity of the noblewoman Bartolomeo loved until he died.

When Bartolomeo Scappi dies in 1577, he leaves his vast estate—properties, money, and his position—to his nephew and apprentice Giovanni. He also gives Giovanni the keys to two strongboxes and strict instructions to burn their contents. Despite Scappi’s dire warning that the information concealed in those boxes could put Giovanni’s life and others at risk, Giovanni is compelled to learn his uncle’s secrets. He undertakes the arduous task of decoding Scappi’s journals and uncovers a history of deception, betrayal, and murder—all to protect an illicit love affair.

As Giovanni pieces together the details of Scappi’s past, he must contend with two rivals who have joined forces—his brother Cesare and Scappi’s former protégé, Domenico Romoli, who will do anything to get his hands on the late chef’s recipes.

With luscious prose that captures the full scale of the sumptuous feasts for which Scappi was known, The Chef’s Secret serves up power, intrigue, and passion, bringing Renaissance Italy to life in a delectable fashion.

To follow the tour, please visit Crystal King's page on Italy Book Tours.

Buy the Book:

Meet the Author:

Crystal King is an author, culinary enthusiast, and marketing expert. Her writing is fueled by a love of history and a passion for the food, language, and culture of Italy. She has taught classes in writing, creativity, and social media at several universities including Harvard Extension School and Boston University, as well as at GrubStreet, one of the leading creative writing centers in the US.

A Pushcart Prize–nominated poet and former co-editor of the online literary arts journal Plum Ruby Review, Crystal received her MA in critical and creative thinking from UMass Boston, where she developed a series of exercises and writing prompts to help fiction writers in medias res. She resides in Boston but considers Italy her next great love after her husband, Joe, and their two cats, Nero and Merlin. She is the author of Feast of Sorrow.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram

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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

G1050 Book Review of The last woman standing by Thelma Adams

Name of Book: The Last Woman Standing

Author: Thelma Adams

ISBN: 978-1503935181

Publisher: Lake Union

Type of book: 1880-1882, Arizona Tombstone, Josephine Marcus, Wyatt Earp, the lawless West, relationships, family, loyalty, gun fights

Year it was published: 2016


Two decades after the Civil War, Josephine Marcus, the teenage daughter of Jewish immigrants, is lured west with the promise of marriage to Johnny Behan, one of Arizona’s famous lawmen. She leaves her San Francisco home to join Behan in Tombstone, Arizona, a magnet for miners (and outlaws) attracted by the silver boom. Though united by the glint of metal, Tombstone is plagued by divided loyalties: between Confederates and Unionists, Lincoln Republicans and Democrats.

But when the silver-tongued Behan proves unreliable, it is legendary frontiersman Wyatt Earp who emerges as Josephine’s match. As the couple’s romance sparks, Behan’s jealousy ignites a rivalry destined for the history books…

At once an epic account of an improbable romance and a retelling of an iconic American tale, The Last Woman Standing recalls the famed gunfight at the O.K. Corral through the eyes of a spunky heroine who sought her happy ending in a lawless outpost—with a fierce will and an unflagging spirit.


Main characters include Josephine Sarah "Sadie" Marcus, Wyatt Earp and his brothers as well as Johnny Behan and his son Albert. There are some female characters, namely the Mustached Lady as well as Mollie the photographer, but I feel as if they are not as well drawn as Josephine, Wyatt and Johnny. Josephine is a fiery secular Jewish woman who seems to be constrained by her gender and propriety and often wants to make more of herself. She definitely stands out in multiple ways and is easy to remember. She used to want to be an actress and is rebellious. Johnny Behan is Josephine's first lover and he is as slick as a snake and takes advantage of people in multiple ways, be it financially or making promises he doesn't keep. (Please tell me that eventually he will get in trouble over what he said or done...) Wyatt Earp is someone I admired in the story because he is loyal to his brothers, friends and to Josephine. He is a man of few words but the words he says do count a lot. He is also brave and will do what is right even if its difficult. Mollie is a photographer who used Josephine as a model and she is confident and aware of herself.


Family is strength


The story is in first person narrative from Josephine's point of view, and I feel its more character-driven,  as in the audience is seeing the growth of Josephine from a young naive teenager to a mature woman who has seen a lot in her two years at Tombstone Arizona. I often think that this is more than what it appears because its a tale of family bonds and strength as well as tale of coming-of-age and mothers and daughters. I don't recall explicit scenes. Also, what is rare for a story, is that although I thought it would be longer than it was, it has a perfect ending in my opinion, whether or not there will be sequel.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Thelma Adams is an established figure in the entertainment industry. For two decades, she has penned celebrity features and criticism for high-profile publications. Her portfolio of actor interviews includes Julianne Moore, George Clooney, Jessica Chastain, and Matthew McConaughey among many others. While covering film for the NEW YORK POST, US WEEKLY, and Yahoo movies, Thelma became a regular at film festivals from Berlin to Dubai, Toronto to Tribeca. She sits on the Hamptons International Film Festival Advisory Board and twice chaired the prestigious New YOrk Film Critics Circle. Her debut novel, PLAYDATE, published by Thomas Dunne Books, won high critical acclaim. Adams is often recognized, as she has been invited to share her expertise on many broadcast outlets, including appearances on NBC's TODAY, CBS's EARLY SHOW, and CNN. SHe graduated Phi Beta Kappa witha  history degree from UC Berkeley and earned an MFA from Columbia University. She lives in Hyde Park, New York, with her family.


I can't believe I waited as long as I did to read and review this book. Its definitely cinematic, memorable and gripping. I don't know much about Josephine nor about Wyatt, but I enjoyed learning about the Wild West, Arizona and what life must have been like for the people living in Tombstone. I also expected for the story to be longer and to cover Josephine's entire life and marriage to Wyatt Earp (any chance there might be a sequel in the works?)

This was given by an author for review

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

Book Review of Guy by Jowita Bydlowska

Name of Book: Guy

Author: Jowita Bydlowska

ISBN: 978-1-928088-23-3

Publisher: Wolsak and Wynn Publishers

Type of book: relationships, chauvinist, attention to detail, judgment, attraction, modern times, lack of commitment, ruin, wealth

Year it was published: 2016


Guy is a successful talent agent who dates models, pop stars and women he meets on the beach. He's a narcissistic, judgmental snob who rates women's looks from one to ten; a racist, homophobic megalomaniac who makes fun of people's weight; a cheating, lying, manipulative jerk who sees his older girlfriend as nothing more than an adornment. His only real friend, besides his dog, is a loser who belongs to a pick-up artist group. Guy is completely oblivious to his own lack of empathy, and his greatest talent is hiding it all...until he meets someone who challenges him in a way he's never been challenged before. Darkly funny and utterly offensive, "Guy" is a brilliant and insightful character study that exposes the twisted thoughts of the misogynist bro next door.


Main character is Guy, who is best described as handsome, narcissitic, and obsessed with perfection. He loves challenges, be they women, food or clothes, and often strikes me as a male model. A lot of life is roses for Guy, because he is unapologetic and often doesn't reveal his real self at all. He also wants to be with unattractive women as a way of feeling that he is the best thing to happen to her since sliced bread. (Am really not kidding.) Basically the tale explores relationships between Guy, Dolores an unattractive woman, his more attractive and older girlfriend Gloria and, ultimately, Bride. It becomes an interesting question of whether or not Guy can reform. 


What goes around comes around


The story is told in first person narrative from Guy's point of view. and the most fascinating part of the story is Guy. There is a story there of Guy's relationships with women as well as getting his comeuppance, but Guy is a character I will remember for a long time. I also should warn of explicit sexual scenes in the tale as well, and despite Guy's personality, I really liked the novel.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Jowita Bydlowska was born in Warsaw, Poland, and moved to Canada as a teen. She is the author of the bestselling memoir DRUNK MOM. A journalist and fiction writer, she lives in Toronto, Canada


To be honest, I was pretty surprised that I won this, but I think the summary definitely caught my attention and when given a chance, I couldn't help but read it and fall in love with the anti-hero Guy (yes, that's really his name) who feels he is above the rest of us mortals. Basically, Guy is a man you'd love to hate, who often sees himself as god's gift to women and often treats women badly (although he will argue that he doesn't,). The whole tale is driven by Guy, although there is a semblance of a plot. But strangely enough, its a book I enjoyed and something I wanted to review for Valentines Day. I have to say that the ending didn't make much sense for me, and its something I'm still trying to figure out, especially when Guy had such a personality change.

I won this at a blog giveaway

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.)

G1092 Book Review of The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen Volume II by Collins Hemingway

Name of Book: The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen Volume II

Author: Collins Hemingway

ISBN: 9781535444958

Publisher: Self published

Part of a Series: The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen Trilogy

Type of book: Jane Austen, marriage, relationship, Napoleonic wars, slavery, pregnancy, motherhood, 1805-1807, scientific discoveries, steam engines, travel

Year it was published: 2016


Jane Austen Lived a Quiet, Single Life-Or Did She?

Tradition holds that Jane Austen lived a proper, contemplative, unmarried life. But what if she wed a man as passionate and intelligent as she-and the marriage remained secret for 200 years?

The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen resolves the biggest mystery of Austen's life-the "lost years" of her twenties-of which historians know virtually nothing.

- Why the enduring rumors of a lost love or tragic affair?

- Why, afterward, did the vivacious Austen prematurely put on "the cap of middle age" and close off any thoughts of finding love?

- Why, after her death, did her beloved sister destroy her letters and journals?

The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen trilogy answers these questions through a riveting love affair based on the history of the times and the details of Austen's own life.


I think the two main characters would be Jane Austen Dennis and Ashton Dennis. Jane Austen is a woman who comes alive in marriage and impending motherhood. She is also a woman trying to reconcile the two roles of being a writer as well as a wife/mother. She takes full charge of running Ashton's estate and is supportive of her husband's dreams and ventures, although it seems as if she doesn't seem to get the same support from Ashton. Ashton Dennis is best described as a dreamer who wants to make the world a better place and at times tends to put himself first. There are some other characters, namely the Lovelace family (umm any coincidence that the name is a villain from Clarissa by Samuel Richardson? Hadn't read the book but want to.) the husband and wife from a colony that approve slavery and that at first are best friends, but then become distant as time goes on and their opinions diverge.


There is beauty in relationships


The story is in third person narrative from Jane's point of view, and just like her novels, this is a tale of psychology, of wonderment and a great deal of talent went behind the tale and the research, for the author dares to leave no stone un-turned. I also loved the letters between Ashton and Jane. This is seriously a novel that I wish would be more well known and better read. What also impressed me is the reality of the times and of vivid details that the author used to bring out Regency Era beyond the ball gowns and fashions. He gave a lot of substance of love to Jane Austen and one does wonder how her novels will be read after finishing this trilogy.

Author Information:
(From HFVBT)

About the Author

Whether his subject is literature, history, or science, Collins Hemingway has a passion for the art of creative investigation. For him, the most compelling fiction deeply explores the heart and soul of its characters, while also engaging them in the complex and often dangerous world in which they have a stake. He wants to explore all that goes into people’s lives and everything that makes tThe hem complete though fallible human beings. His fiction is shaped by the language of the heart and an abiding regard for courage in the face of adversity.

As a nonfiction book author, Hemingway has worked alongside some of the world’s thought leaders on topics as diverse as corporate culture and ethics; the Internet and mobile technology; the ins and outs of the retail trade; and the cognitive potential of the brain. Best known for the #1 best-selling book on business and technology, Business @ the Speed of Thought, which he coauthored with Bill Gates, he has earned a reputation for tackling challenging subjects with clarity and insight, writing for the nontechnical but intelligent reader.

Hemingway has published shorter nonfiction on topics including computer technology, medicine, and aviation, and he has written award-winning journalism.

Published books include The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen trilogy, Business @ the Speed of Thought, with Bill Gates, Built for Growth, with Arthur Rubinfeld, What Happy Companies Know, with Dan Baker and Cathy Greenberg, Maximum Brainpower, with Shlomo Breznitz, and The Fifth Wave, with Robert Marcus.

Hemingway lives in Bend, Oregon, with his wife, Wendy. Together they have three adult sons and three granddaughters. He supports the Oregon Community Foundation and other civic organizations engaged in conservation and social services in Central Oregon.

For more information please visit Collins Hemingway’s website and blog. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Goodreads.


I've read the author's previous Jane Austen novel, The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen Volume I, which I've found well-written and unforgettable. However, the second volume really blows the first one out of the water, and I was amazed at how it felt as if I was reading Jane Austen's later novels. (Yes, I have read all of her published novels and wrote reviews,) but the author literally brings the Regency Era to life as the reader becomes exposed to social issues of the day, along with progress. I loved watching Jane Austen's marriage flourish and loved watching her with her husband. So far the two novels are like a long lost love letter to Jane Austen who dared to shape women's thoughts and emotions and to tell women that they have power over themselves. At the same time, I look forward yet dread the third volume because I doubt that happiness will last long...but the curious side of me will read to find out what happens next, if given the opportunity.

This is for HFVBT

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, January 14
Review at Coffee and Ink

Wednesday, January 16
Review & Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads

Thursday, January 17
Feature at What Is That Book About

Friday, January 18
Review at Rainy Day Reviews

Monday, January 21
Feature at Donna’s Book Blog

Tuesday, January 22
Excerpt at T’s Stuff
Interview at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, January 23
Review & Guest Post at To Read, Or Not to Read

Friday, January 25
Review at View from the Birdhouse
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Monday, January 28
Review at For the Sake of Good Taste

Tuesday, January 29
Guest Post at Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Wednesday, January 30
Review at Library of Clean Reads

Friday, February 1
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Saturday, February 2
Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Sunday, February 3
Review at Bri’s Book Nook

Monday, February 4
Review at Amy’s Booket List

Tuesday, February 5
Review at Maiden of the Pages

Wednesday, February 6
Feature at The Lit Bitch
Interview at Bookish Rantings

Thursday, February 7
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews

Friday, February 8
Review at Book Reviews from Canada

Saturday, February 9
Interview at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

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.)

Book Fairs around the World

Hey guys, traveling overseas this year and worried about missing a book fair? Or want to experience a book fair in a different part of the world?

As someone who loves reading translated  literature from different parts of the world, and who does their best to bring attention to diverse novels, I'm really excited to present this amazing compilation of book fairs that will take place around the world throughout the year of 2019. The book fairs do take place in diverse nations from Western and Eastern Europe as well as different parts of Asia, Australia, Africa, South America and even Mexico and Canada.

Check out this awesome link that was brought to my attention and happy travels!

Click here

(I want to thank for this mind-blowing post of different book fairs around the world) 

Sunday, February 17, 2019

G998 Book Review of The Pisces by Melissa Broder

Name of Book: The Pisces

Author: Melissa Broder

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6155-4

Publisher: Hogarth

Type of book: Merman, love, obsession, coldness, depression, anxiety, care, unconditional vs conditional, death vs life, California, magical realism, Los Angeles,

Year it was published: 2018


An original, imaginative, and hilarious debut novel about love, anxiety, and sea creatures, from the author of So Sad Today.

Lucy has been writing her dissertation about Sappho for thirteen years when she and Jamie break up. After she hits rock bottom in Phoenix, her Los Angeles-based sister insists Lucy housesit for the summer—her only tasks caring for a beloved diabetic dog and trying to learn to care for herself. Annika’s home is a gorgeous glass cube atop Venice Beach, but Lucy can find no peace from her misery and anxiety—not in her love addiction group therapy meetings, not in frequent Tinder meetups, not in Dominic the foxhound’s easy affection, not in ruminating on the ancient Greeks. Yet everything changes when Lucy becomes entranced by an eerily attractive swimmer one night while sitting alone on the beach rocks.

Whip-smart, neurotically funny, sexy, and above all, fearless, The Pisces is built on a premise both sirenic and incredibly real—what happens when you think love will save you but are afraid it might also kill you.


Main characters include Lucy, a thirty-eight year old woman who is reeling from a recent break up of her long term relationship, as well as understanding that her ex-fiance desires another woman and not her. On top of that, she is also struggling with writing her dissertation about Sappho, feeling as if she no longer cares. There is also Lucy's older sister Annika who is into yoga, married and has a foxhound dog named Dominic. Annika worries and cares for her sister deeply and asks her to fly out to Los Angeles to live in the house while Lucy tries to get her life back on track. Theo is a mysterious night swimmer who has a secret of his own that is deeply attracted to Lucy and will do whatever he can to be with her. Dominic is a foxhound who dislikes Theo for some odd reason and is loyal to people who care about him.


I read the tale from cover to cover, and I had difficulty in understanding what I should have learned.


The story is in first person narrative from Lucy's point of view, and Lucy is easy to hate but difficult to love, especially because I believe that she represents the self that is all impulse and little to no logic. In other words, a self none want to acknowledge or believe that exists. What I also difficulty in this story is finguring what, if anything, did Lucy learn from her experience, or how did she grow up? ultimately, I believe, she didn't grow up and still remained herself, and if she learned anything from her experiences, she will not implement it in her life.

Author Information:
(From back of the book)

Melissa Broder is the authro of the essay collection SO SAD TODAY and four poetry collections, including LAST SEXT. Her poetry has appeared in POETRY, THE IOWA REVIEW, TIN HOUSE, and GUERNICA, and she is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize. She writes the "SO SAD TODAY" column at VICE, the astrology column for LENNY LETTER, and the "BEAUTY AND DEATH" column on She lives in Los Angeles


The Pisces definitely reflects what I will call the modern art scenario: either you love it or hate it but I doubt that there is much in-between emotions in the pages, and because I couldn't really like it, neither did I fully want to tear it into pieces, I gave it three stars. What I enjoyed in the story is exploration of love, and of how humans tend to be more attracted to fools gold rather than real gold. But what didn't make a lot of sense to me is the whole merman erotica angle, and I also detested and felt disgusted by Lucy's care towards her older sister's dog, Dominic. Lucy is a character that you either hate or love, understand or condemn. What I also found confusing is the whole angle of Sappho and her purpose in the tale. I also will mention gross negligence of a dog. I also couldn't help but think of Charmed TV show (the old one with Prue, Piper and Phoebe) one where mermaids are described as cold, lacking empathy and lacking love, which seems to be the characteristics that the merman carries within him.

This was given for a 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.)

G137 Book Review of The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu

Name of Book: The Tale of Genji

Author: Murasaki Shikibu (Translated by Edward G Seidensticker)

ISBN: 0-394-73530-7

Publisher: Borzoi Book Alfred A Knopf

Type of book: Japan, Heian Court Era, wealth, generations, women, men, 800s-900s?, cloistered, marriage, love, courting

Year it was published: 900s?- 1000s? (Version I have 1976)


The Tale of Genji was written in the eleventh century by Murasaki Shikibu, a lady of the Heian court. It is universally recognized as the greatest masterpiece of Japanese prose narrative, perhaps the earliest true novel in the history of the world. Until now there has been no translation that is both complete and scrupulously faithful to the original text. Edward G Seidensticker's masterly rendering was first published in two volumes in 1976 and immediately hailed as a classic of the translator's art. It is here presented in one unabrdiged volume, illustrated through-out by woodcuts taken from a 1650 Japanese edition of The Tale of Genji


I think the characters in someways are three dimensional, although Genji in many ways tends to read like a Gary Stu character. (Sad childhood, gets everything he wants, etc.) but still he does make mistakes and does suffer pain from his consequences. The reader watches Genji through his life, from the time he is a young to a time he has his own children, and we also get the privilege of watching his "son" and "grandson". In all honesty my favorite characters were Genji, Kashiwagi and Kaoru. There is honestly a lot to talk about when it comes to both male and female characters, and a lot I didn't understand. I think I liked Genji perhaps because there is something gentle about him, and something ethereal, something that causes him to stand out from a typical man. Kashiwagi I liked because he is a tragic character, and Kaoru, I think its because he is like Kashiwagi. (Heian Japanese male or not, I had to admire, despite my annoyance, his devotion toward Oigimi.) I found Niou very annoying and half the time wondered that he's a spoiled character and jealous of Kaoru for no reason. I do wish that the book would have continued on to at least tell us if Kaoru managed to get together with Ukifune. (I really dont' understand why Ukifune likes Niou. Perhaps someone can explain it to?)


The world is changeable and undependable. Nothing stays the same.


This is in third person. At first its from Genji's point of view, then later it moves to Yugiri and Kashiwagi and way later Oigimi, Nakanokimi and Ukifune. In all honesty I liked the first half with Genji; the second or third part with Kaoru and Niou really frustrated me because it seemed that neither were getting what they desired and nothing was working out with the sisters. The story ends in mid-thought and right on what was supposed to be a climax, of Kaoru trying to "rescue" Ukifine from being a nun. I don't think I also appreciated how everyone rushed to become a nun/monk. Was the world so terrible that they had to sacrifice their lives? Also, I couldn't help but think of what would happen if everyone in Japan became a monk or nun. What would happen to people who will support them?

Author Information:

Kyoto, Japan



About this author

Murasaki Shikibu, or Lady Murasaki as she is sometimes known in English, was a Japanese novelist, poet, and a maid of honor of the imperial court during the Heian period. She is best known as the author of The Tale of Genji, written in Japanese between about 1000 and 1008, one of the earliest and most famous novels in human history. "Murasaki Shikibu" was not her real name; her actual name is unknown, though some scholars have postulated that her given name might have been Takako (for Fujiwara Takako). Her diary states that she was nicknamed "Murasaki" ("purple wisteria blossom") at court, after a character in The Tale of Genji. "Shikibu" refers to her father's position in the Bureau of Ceremony (shikibu-shō).


This is a story of life basically, and that the love affairs are not the same but are different; the only thing that's the same is the women's reluctance and what seems like rape. I actually loved the first part, the Genji and Kashiwagi part much better than Kaoru and Niou part. The book isn't easy to read and its incredibly long as well as complicated and poetic, so its not a casual one time read. (I read the unabridged translation by Seidensticker). We also see Genji making choices with consequences that last a long time, such as sleeping with his stepmother and begetting a son by her, or not treating the Rokujo lady in a right way and dealing with extremely painful consequences of that. I also enjoyed reading the poetry and how it was used to convey various emotions of sadness. Probably most people would find poetry off putting. (I don't read poetry to be honest.) But this poetry becomes a challenge to figure out what they are saying and what they are feeling as well. In a lot of ways, this is a very fascinating story and also a fascinating peek into the world that is long gone. I think many readers will dislike the fact that Genji is a playboy, or else they will try to put modern sensibilities on this historical novel. There are numerous things I felt uncomfortable with such as Genji marrying a woman he raised, or well, sleeping with certain women. There is also a strong Oedipus theme going on; such as Genji trying to substitute for his mother in forms of his stepmother and his stepmother's niece? I also think that Niou and Kaoru were meant for a separate book instead of being linked to Genji's stories. (Hints of Kaoru trying to find a woman that resembles the dead Oigimi.)

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

Thursday, February 7, 2019

G1061 Book Review of The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib

Name of Book: The Girls at 17 Swann Street

Author: Yara Zgheib

ISBN: 978-1250-20244-4

Publisher: St Martin's Press

Type of book: Anorexia, USA, France, modern times, bulimia, specialized group home, Missouri, friendship, love, family, Spring/summer of 2016

Year it was published: 2019


The chocolate went first, then the cheese, the fries, the ice cream. The bread was more difficult, but if she could just lose a little more weight, perhaps she would make the soloists’ list. Perhaps if she were lighter, danced better, tried harder, she would be good enough. Perhaps if she just ran for one more mile, lost just one more pound.

Anna Roux was a professional dancer who followed the man of her dreams from Paris to Missouri. There, alone with her biggest fears – imperfection, failure, loneliness – she spirals down anorexia and depression till she weighs a mere eighty-eight pounds. Forced to seek treatment, she is admitted as a patient at 17 Swann Street, a peach pink house where pale, fragile women with life-threatening eating disorders live. Women like Emm, the veteran; quiet Valerie; Julia, always hungry. Together, they must fight their diseases and face six meals a day.

Yara Zgheib's poetic and poignant debut novel is a haunting, intimate journey of a young woman's struggle to reclaim her life. Every bite causes anxiety. Every flavor induces guilt. And every step Anna takes toward recovery will require strength, endurance, and the support of the girls at 17 Swann Street.


Main characters include Anna, her husband Matthias and numerous friends she makes while at 17 Swann Street. Anna Roux is a twenty-six year old former ballet dancer who deeply loves her husband. "My name is Anna. I am a dancer, a constant daydreamer...I believe in love. I am madly in love. I am madly loved. Matthias. I have books to read, places to see, babies to make, birthday cakes to taste. I even have unused birthday wishes to spare. So what am I doing here?" (pages 2-3) she is suffering from anorexia. Matthias is Anna's extremely devoted husband who loves her deeply as well and desires to do whatever he can to help her. There are other women in 17 Swann Street such as Emm who seems to function only at 17 Swann Street and is the leader, then Valerie who makes friends with Anna as well as Chloe and Julie. One of the women suffers from bulimia, while others suffer from anorexia.


Life isn't black and white


Going back and forth between pre-17 Swann Street versus the months that Anna has spent there, THE GIRLS AT 17 SWANN Street by Yara Zgheib is a lyrical tale of one young woman's anorexia and the impact it had had on her family. As if knowing and sensing what the readers want, Yara Zgheib teases out various theories as to why Anna developed anorexia, and let me just mention that it can be anything. From the outside, Anna appears to be happily married, a former ballet dancer who has moved to USA with her husband, but appearances are deceptive and Anna is suffering from anorexia,  a mental illness (that's the conclusion I have drawn from the tale) that has taken roots way way before her journey to USA. As Anna goes to the 17 Swann Street, the reader becomes intimately familiar with the grip anorexia has on women living there and how difficult it is to shake off that grip and resist the patterns and impulse control. Yara Zgheib's sentences are incredibly beautiful and go straight to the heart, making this a difficult novel to put down.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Yara Zgheib is a Fullbriht scholar with degrees from Georgetown University and Centre D'etudes Diplomatiques et Strategiques in Paris. She is a writer for several U.S. and European magazines, including The Huffington Post and Holiday Magazine. THE GIRLS AT 17 SWANN STREET is her first novel.


The first time I have heard of Anorexia Nervousa and Bulimia is through a Lurlene McDaniel novel about a young girl who wants to be thin and becomes bulimic. From then on, I formed my own thoughts and conclusions about those two eating disorders, and it doesn't help that media pushed certain stereotypes about them as well; girls (very often women, although I understand men also suffer from it,) who suffer from Anorexia and Bulimia are most likely teens who are in competitive sports, and for me its very difficult to understand about how hard it is not to eat. This novel humanized that issue and I feel as if I can get a better grasp of Anorexia as well as Bulimia, despite me not suffering from it. What I think was most shocking for me in terms of THE GIRLS AT 17 SWANN STREET is the fact that eating disorders are not limited to teens, but in fact they can impact women in 20s, 30s and so forth; whether or not those women are married (which means that love can't conquer all) and whether or not they are mothers. I also was shocked to learn numerous facts about anorexia and bulimia as well: most which I'll leave to the reader to find out. In conclusion, its a beautiful and engrossing tale of psychology of anorexia and impact it has on everyone, be they the sufferer, family and/or friends. I honestly think the book should be read in as few settings as possible.

This was given 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.)

Friday, February 1, 2019

G1074 Book Review of Melding Spirits by Michael E. BURGE

Name of Book: Melding Spirits

Author: Michael E. Burge

ISBN: 9780996309837

Publisher: Self published

Type of book: 1958, summer, Wabash River, first love, crush, friendships, relationships, murder, evil, Illinois, coming of age

Year it was published: 2017


Twelve-year-old Evan Mason’s life has been turned upside down by the sudden death of his father. His mother isn’t home much, the insurance office during the day, waiting tables at night. Evan is spending a great deal of time alone.

Now he finds himself on a Greyhound bus headed for a small town on the Wabash River where he’ll spend the summer of 1958 with his loving grandmother.

Evan soon meets his new neighbor, Katie Dobbins. She’s a feisty blue-eyed girl with a ponytail, the type of girl Buddy Holly might sing about on American Bandstand. Evan is instantly enamored with her.

It seems the perfect summer is underway—but strange things are happening in the woods surrounding the Ghost Hill Indian Mound.

There’s a dark cloud lingering over the Wabash Valley—It won’t be long before it erupts into a raging storm.


Main characters for the tale include Evan, Katie Dobbins, Riley Wilson, and the detectives in charge of solving the case. Evan is a talented musician who has given up playing piano on account of his father's death; Katie is an outgoing young lady, and Riley Wilson has an intriguing history in that he had a chance to be a talented baseball player but who couldn't make it. There is also Evan's grandmother Bea, but I am getting the feeling that I haven't really caught the sense of the characters, unfortunately.


I am not sure what the theme should have been; that nothing is at it seems?


The story is in third person narrative from what seems to be everyone's point of view, and there are a lot of characters to keep track of: the setting and the time is well done in my opinion, although MY MOTHER'S SON by David Hirshberg is a lot better at nostalgia factor. and in my opinion, I think its a good tale for New adults or young adults to read because its a clean tale. The author also seems to shy away from more darker aspects, such as Evan trying to heal from his father's grief, or even more about the mysterious killer, and I still am not sure how the killer was discovered in the first place.

Author Information:
(From iRead Book Tour)

Buy the Book:
Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble
KOBO ~ iBooks ~ Indigo ~ IndieBound,
Add to Goodreads

Read the first few chapters...
Meet the Author:

Michael E. Burge grew up in the Chicago suburbs and a small town on the Wabash River in Southern Illinois.

In the late sixties, he left college to serve on a U.S. Navy destroyer out of Norfolk, Virginia. Upon leaving the service, he transitioned to a career in the burgeoning computer industry, positions in product management and marketing.

He is now pursuing his lifelong interest in writing, publishing his debut novel, Bryant’s Gap, in 2015 and his second, Melding Spirits, in 2017.

Michael also plays piano, paints, and is an avid golfer. He and his family currently live in Illinois.

Connect with the Author: Twitter ~ Facebook

What I think I was expecting from the tale is that it will be far more darker than it really is; I expected for the tale to really juxtapose the innocence and the evil as is claimed (I think I was expecting a lot of ROANOKE GIRLS by Amy Engel, or else MY MOTHER'S SON by David Hirshberg (which I received on Fresh fiction website) but while MELDING SPIRITS does have that, it doesn't mix the two well, and very often I wondered how the mystery part connects to the innocence? and unfortunately I could predict the connection almost halfway through the book. What is good about the book are the vivid descriptions of the place along with the innocence aspect, that is what the character does or doesn't do. The darkness aspect needs to be worked on a bit more in my opinion.

This is for iRead Book Tours


Jan 14 - Working Mommy Journal - review / giveaway
Jan 14 - Viviana MacKade - book spotlight / guest post /giveaway
Jan 15 - Rockin' Book Reviews - review / guest post / giveaway
Jan 17 - Paulette's Papers - book spotlight / giveaway
Jan 18 - Books Direct - book spotlight / excerpt / giveaway
Jan 18 - Syllables of Swathi - review / author interview / giveaway
Jan 18 - Books Direct - book spotlight / giveaway
Jan 21 - A Mama's Corner of the World - review / giveaway
Jan 22 - Locks, Hooks and Books - review / giveaway
Jan 22 - Reviews in the City - book spotlight
Jan 22 - Library of Clean Reads - review / giveaway
Jan 23 - Mystery Suspense Reviews - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Jan 24 - Truly Trendy - review / giveaway
Jan 25 - T's Stuff - review / author interview / giveaway
Jan 25 - Celticlady's Reviews - book spotlight / giveaway
Jan 29 - Books for Books - review
Jan 30 - Literary Flits - book spotlight / guest post
Jan 31 - Adventurous Jessy - review / giveaway
Jan 31 - The Avid Inspri - review / author interview
Jan 31 - Life as Leels - review
TBD - Svetlana's Reads and Views - review
4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

G1075 Book Review of Finders Keepers by Russ Colchamero

Name of Book: Finders Keepers

Author: Russ Colchamiro

ISBN: 9780998364124

Publisher: Crazy 8 Publishing

Part of a Series: Finders Keepers Trilogy

Type of book: Science fiction, coming of age, travel, Europe, Eternity, stars, fame, living on earth, adjusting, jar of Earth's DNA

Year it was published: 2018


In the spirit of The Good Place, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, author Russ Colchamiro has gone back to the future to deliver his wildest, funniest novel yet--the new and updated Sci-Fi/Fantasy tale Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition.

When a jar containing the Universe's DNA falls from Eternity, bumbling backpackers Jason and Theo find their loyalties--and sanity!--put to the test. Unaware that a motley crew from another realm is chasing them across the globe to retrieve that radioactive vessel, these intrepid new friends are forced to contend with passion, responsibility, and their own mortality--and the fate of the Solar System, which hangs in the balance.

Traversing Europe, New Zealand, and the backbone of Eternity, Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition ultimately asks one simple question: Is the life you're living the life you actually want . . . or does the Universe have more to offer than you can possibly imagine?

IMPORTANT NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The Definitive Edition of Finders Keepers has undergone significant changes from the original version. Consider the original as the Raw & Uncensored version (rated 'R')--which is no longer available-- while this new updated and revised Definitive Edition is 'PG-13'.


Some of the characters definitely stand out in the book, such as Emma, an ambitious woman from Eternity who got sent to Earth as punishment and her sidekick/personal assistant who was turned into a dog and refuses to abandon Emma. There are also the "heroes" of Jason and Theodore, a neurotic fearful Jew as well as an adventurous man from New Zealand, and of course George? Who seems to enjoy cross-dressing and becoming a woman named Andrea. Other characters in the story, unfortunately weren't as memorable as the ones I mentioned.


Honestly, I've read the tale from cover to cover and I have no idea what the theme should have been; something with friendship is my best guess.


The story is in third person narrative from everyone's point of view, and although I read the tale from cover to cover, I am still not sure of the roles the characters have played. Some of the characters I understand and could identify if asked who they are, but others, no clue. The tale seemed to be all over in my opinion and often moves back and forth between Earth as well as Eternity, and I enjoyed the world of Eternity a lot which is good world building skills. I think the author should either cut down on a lot of characters to make the story more manageable.

Author Information:
(From IRead Book Tours)

Buy the Book:
Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble
Playster ~ Kobo ~ 24symbols
Add to Goodreads
Meet the Author:

​Russ Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space opera, Crossline, the zany SF/F backpacking comedy series Finders Keepers, Genius de Milo, and Astropalooza, and is editor of the SF anthology Love, Murder & Mayhem, all with Crazy 8 Press.

Russ lives in New Jersey with his wife, two children, and crazy dog, Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself.

Russ has also contributed to several other anthologies, including Tales of the Crimson Keep, Pangaea, Altered States of the Union, Camelot 13, TV Gods 2, They Keep Killing Glenn, and Brave New Girls. Russ is repped by The Zack Company.

Connect with Russ: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram

I have some fond memories of watching Ted and Bill's Excellent Adventure and I was really expecting for FINDERS KEEPERS by Russ Colchamero to match up to the movie. Unfortunately, aside from two bumbling-ahem- incompetent men who seem to display their less favorable traits and some science fiction elements, I could barely see any resemblance between FINDERS KEEPERS and Ted and Bill's Excellent Adventure. I enjoyed the science fiction elements, in particular learning about the world of Eternity as well as people who inhabit that particular world. I think my main issue is that there are way too many characters to understand and keep track of. Also, what is the purpose of the heroes? They honestly didn't seem to do anything in the story and the only reason they existed was the mysterious jar. I think the story could have benefited from a character list.

This is for iRead Book Tours


Jan 7 - Library of Clean Reads - tour kick-off / guest post / giveaway
Jan 8 - Locks, Hooks and Books - review / guest post / giveaway
Jan 14 - Library of Clean Reads - review / giveaway
Jan 14 - A Mama's Corner of the World - review / giveaway
Jan 15 - The Irresponsible Reader - review / author interview
​Jan 15 - Bookriot - review / author interview
Jan 16 - The Autistic Gamer - review / giveaway
Jan 17 - JBronder Book Reviews - review / guest post / giveaway
Jan 21 - OIio by Marilyn - review / author interview / giveaway
Jan 23 - Jayne’s Books - review
TBD - Svetlana's Reads and Views - 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.)

Coming Attractions for February of 2019

So bad and good news: Bad news is that I'm beginning to doubt that I'm part of a certain book tour company :( because I haven't received any invites from them for February, so yes, very little book tours unfortunately. Good news is that more time to read what I want to read, or books that are awaiting me to read. I can probably schedule my own reviews starting with February. Also, to any readers from Asia, Happy Year of the Pig!

Without further ado, here are my plans for February!

Book Tours/Spotlights
Book Spotlight:  The Chef's Secret by Crystal King February 20th, 2019

Scheduled Reviews:
The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib (February 7th, 2019)

The Pisces by Melissa Broeder (February 10th, 2019)

Guy by Jowita Bydlowska (February 14th, 2019)

The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen Volume II by Collins Hemingway (February 15th, 2019)

Planned Reads:
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Dinosaurs Without Bones; Dinosaur Lives Revealed By Their Trace Fossils by Anthony J. Martin

A Different Mirror; A History of Multicultural America by Ronald Takaki

The Power of Context; How to Manage Our Bias and Improve Our Understanding of Others by Daniel R. Stalder

The Game of Hope by Sandra Gulland

The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

For Fresh Fiction:

That Churchill Woman by Stephanie Barron

The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin

The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

Little Faith by Nickolas Butler

Crimson Lake by Candice Fox

February 2019

The Last Woman Standing by Thelma Adams
SR: January 29th, 2019
FR: February 11th, 2019
Master of Verona by David Blixt
SR: January 8th, 2019
FR: February 10th, 2019
A House Divided-Pearl S Buck
SR: March 11th, 2016
From An-other land-Tanushree Ghosh
SR: February 27th, 2019
Trials and Trails by Jim Halverson
SR: February 15th, 2019
FR: February 20th, 2019
The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen-Collins Hemingway
SR: January 7th, 2019
FR: February 13th, 2019
Woman 99-Green Macallister
SR: January 30th, 2019
FR: February 20th, 2019
The Queen of Hearts-Kimmery Martin
SR: February 22nd, 2019
FR: February 28th, 2019
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo- Tamara Jenkins Reid
SR: February 16th, 2019
FR: February 27th, 2019
Brandon Tudor Knight-Tony Riches
SR: February 24th, 2019
The Island of Sea Women-Lisa See
SR: February 28th, 2019
Goodbye Cafe- Mariah Stewart
SR: February 16th, 2019
The last pier- Roma TEARNE
SR: January 20th, 2019
FR: February 15th, 2019

Tree of Souls-Howard Schwartz
SR: February 10th, 2014
THE power of context how to manage our bias and improve our understanding of others- Daniel R. Stadler
SR: February 10th, 2019
FR: February 20th, 2019
Claiming my place; Coming of Age in the Shadow of Holocaust-Planaria Price and Helen Reichmann West
SR: February 22nd, 2019
FR: February 27th, 2019
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