MY PUDDLES – A Memoir by Thai Peck – MY REVIEW of this fascinating new Memoir.

Title: MY PUDDLES

Subtitle: A NON-FICTION SHORT STORY

Author: THAI PECK

Genre: NON-FICTION, MEMOIR, HISTORY, AUTOBIOGRAPHY, BIOGRAPHY

Length: 97 PAGES

Publisher: BALBOA PRESS

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER

Received From: GOODREADS

Release Date: MAY 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5043-0899-1

ASIN: B072M4Q161

Rating: 3.5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐+0.5

DESCRIPTION:

My Puddles is a true story. It’s a short anecdote recalling a tale of growing up from childhood to the age of seventy and a woman’s journey through time, places, and self-discovery.

MY REVIEW:

Neither the title, nor the description really give any information about this book.

MY PUDDLES is a memoir written by Thai Peck about her life. She only briefly remarks upon her unhappy childhood in Vietnam.

At the tender age of seventeen, she met and eventually married an Australian War Correspondant named Brian Peck. Thai had two children, a boy and a girl and despite life’s ups and downs, they remained married until the sad day in 2015 when Brian passed away.

Thai eloquently expresses just how much they loved each other in the book’s first chapter:

“In September 1968 … At Singapore airport about to board an Air Vietnam flight, among the crowd, a couple of Americans…through them I met this Australian reporter. While each man offered to carry one of my bags, only one remained faithfully carrying them through our many journeys for the rest of his life. Until one morning in April 2015 when he took his last breath in my arms. His name was Brian Peck. He was my best friend, my confidante, and my all. He brought happiness into my everyday life for 45 years.”

Besides her relationship with her husband, Thai also writes about her travels to many countries and her life as a diplomat’s wife. She candidly describes the hippocritical nature of those events – glitz and glamour on the surface, but lonliness on the inside.

I enjoyed reading about Thai Beck’s life and as a self-published book, she has done a good job. What she does need, however, is a good proofreader and editor. It is readily apparent that the memoir is written by someone whose first language is not English. There are quite a few places in this book that need to be edited.

The need for proofing and editing are significant, but by filling this autobiography with numerous photographs and copies of Thai’s paintings, the joy of reading this book increases immensely. I rate MY PUDDLES as 3.5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐ +0.5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

To learn about this author, visit the following links:

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GOOGLE BOOKS

AMAZON

CHAPTERS / INDIGO

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

BALBOA PRESS is a Division of HAY HOUSE. It is a book publishing company that helps aspiring self-help and transformational authors self-publish books and achieve their dreams. Offering professional cover design, editing, marketing and more, authors can publish a self-help book ready for print on demand. Specializing in the mind, body and spirit genre, Balboa Press is your gateway into the world of publishing.

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In the soon to be released ORPHAN BAND OF SPRINGDALE, Anne Nesbet has beautifully mixed music with history, family and a morality tale of doing what is right, no matter how difficult that may be. 5 STARS

Title: THE ORPHAN BAND OF SPRINGDALE

Author: ANNE NESBET

Genre: MIDDLE GRADE FICTION, HISTORICAL FICTION

Length: 448 PAGES

Publisher: CANDLEWICK PRESS

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER ARC

Received From: THE PUBLISHER

Release Date: APRIL 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8804-2

Price: $17.99 USD / $23.99 CDN

** Also Available as an e-book and in audiobook from Candlewick on Brilliance Audio **

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

When eleven-year-old Augusta Neubronner arrives at her grandmother’s orphanage in Maine with little more than her French horn and all that’s left of a broken wish, she steps right into what her German-born papa (now a fugitive from the law) likes to call “the clear light of trouble.”

With World War II on the horizon, Gusta has to confront classmates’ suspicions and the local mill owner’s greed. And when she blunders into family secrets, Gusta must try her best to put things right. Sometimes it takes a whole Orphan Band to help a girl find her place and her voice.

Acclaimed author Anne Nesbet deftly combines music, family, history, and a hint of magic in this unforgettable read.

MY REVIEW:

THE ORPHAN BAND OF SPRINGDALE by Anne Nesbet is a work of Historical fiction written with middle-grade as the intended readership. It is “… nightingale sweet and honey-smooth.”

Anne Nesbet has beautifully mixed music with history, family and a morality tale of doing what is right, no matter how difficult that may be.

Eleven year old Augusta Neubronner Hoopes is sent from her home in New York City to stay at her grandmother’s house deep in central Maine.

From the very first chapter we learn that Augusta (who prefers to be called “Gusta”) has a very heavy load on her shoulders.

Halfway through the trip from New York to Maine, her father disappears. It turns out that he escaped just before authorities searched the bus looking for him. Gusta’s father was born in Germany and has been involved with the labor movement ever since arriving in the United States. Now, he is a fugitive from the law.

When Gusta arrives at her grandmother’s house, all she has to her name is a small bag of clothes and her most prized possession – a French horn. That horn is not just decorative. Gusta can play it, and play it well.

Hearing a family legend that somewhere there is a magic wish “…in a box on a shelf…” Gusta would dearly love to find that wish and sets out to ferret out its location.

The longer she lives in the small town, the more problems she sees that need to be set right. Her father always told her that people needed to help each other whenever they could, and Gusta intends to honor his teaching – no matter how much it will hurt her to do so.

I love this. It is so refreshing to read a story in which solidarity is celebrated and where selfishness is discouraged. In today’s world, it is all about “ME”. Too many people worry only about themselves and ignore the consequences to others of their actions. In this regard, going back in time would be wonderful.

Sometimes it is necessary to look at the world through the eyes of a child who has not yet been beaten down by life. It is through Gusta’s wonderfully flawed eyes that adult readers of this novel discover that everything can be boiled down to one of two choices … Right or Wrong. This lesson may be a simple one, but it is one that is often forgotten. I am happy to say that “The Orphan Band of Springdale” has reminded me of that oh-so-true reality.

Anne Nesbet has touched on so many issues worthy of discussion in this book that it is easy to see this book in a middle grade classroom and a lively discussion taking place. I highly recommend this book to teachers of those grades (as well as to everyone else.)

Here is a partial list of some of the discussion worthy topics include:

* Work ethic in the past vs. work ethic in present day
* Hardscrabble lives
* Unions
* Injured Workers
* Patriotism
* Prejudice
* Government & health
* Music
* Money and lack of it
* Airplanes
* Bullying
* Glasses
* German in the USA
* Dairy Wars
* Purity – of milk and of birth
* Orphans
* Family loyalty
* The value of historic writings – such as the sketchbook and journal from the sea captain found in the attic by Gusta
* Selflessness
* Changes in technology from 1941 to present day

* Unplanned Pregnancies
* And much more…

I sped through the reading of this book because I did not want to put it down. In fact, I spent two very sleepless nights devouring the pages and fully immersing myself in Gusta’s world. Author Anne Nesbet has crafted Gusta’s world with beautifully detailed descriptions and characters with such depth that they seem 100% real. It is patently obvious that the author has a distinct love of small-town Maine, and that love has seeped through onto every page of this delectable book.

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and am planning to check out previous novels written by Anne Nesbet.

I predict that THE ORPHAN BAND OF SPRINGDALE will find its way onto the Bestseller list shortly after its official release date.

* I would like to thank GOODREADS as well as CANDLEWICK PRESS for providing me with an ARC (Advance Reading Copy) of this book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Anne Nesbet is the author of the novels The Cabinet of Earths, A Box of Gargoyles, and The Wrinkled Crown.

Her books have received starred reviews and have been selected for the Kids’ Indie Next List, Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best list, and the Bank Street College Best Children’s Books of the Year list.

An associate professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Anne Nesbet lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

BERKELEY UNIVERSITY PROFILE

YA BOOKS CENTRAL

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

Other Books by Anne Nesbet:

This book is one of my contributions to the #2018AtoZChallenge being hosted by GINGERMOMREADS

.

The idea of the challenge is to read at least one book whose title starts with each letter of the alphabet, so that by the end of 2018 (at the latest) I will have read at least one book for every letter of the alphabet.

#orphanband #theorphanbandofspringdale #annenesbet #arc #readandreview #middlegrade #middlegradebooks #Maine #frenchhorn #music #historicalfiction #candlewickpress #tbr #booknerd #booknerdigans #WWII #unions #labor #labormovement #labourmovement #music #bibliophile #Amiesbookreviews #book #bookblog #bookblogger #bookreview #bookreviewer #2018AtoZChallenge #2018books #newrelease #comingsoon #April2018 #Goodreads

WALK IT OFF by RUTH MARSHALL

Title: WALK IT OFF

Subtitle: The true (and oddly hilarious) story of how I learned to stand, walk, pee, run, and even have sex again, after a nightmarish diagnosis turned my perfectly awesome life upside down

Author: RUTH MARSHALL

Genre: NON-FICTION, MEMOIR, AUTO-BIOGRAPHY

Length: 257 PAGES

Publisher: SIMON & SCHUSTER

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER ARC

Received From: GOODREADS GIVEAWAY

Release Date: JANUARY 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7362-2

Price: $26.00 CDN / $21.99 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

MY REVIEW:

First off, let me say that I ADORE the title of this book. I generally am averse to book covers with long subtitles, however this book would not have caught my eye without it.

I was lucky enough to win an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) from GOODREADS and I am very glad I did.

This memoir chronicles one woman’s journey to find out what was causing the bizarre symptoms she was experiencing, through diagnosis, surgery, rehab and beyond.

I suppose I should tell potential readers right away that this is NOT a self-help book. Instead, it is the unflinchingly honest memoir of a woman who goes from leading something closely akin to a charmed life, to discovering that no life is perfect.

I have never met Ruth Marshall, but after reading her story, I feel confident in stating that she is an amazing woman. This is not due to the fact that she is famous (or as famous as any Canadian television actress can be), nor is it because of her health issues. My opinion of Ruth as an amazing woman is based on her honesty.

It could not have been easy to chronicle her medical condition and her efforts at recovery, and yet she has done so while managing to be surprisingly honest. She does not shy away from the “icky” stuff. She talks about everything from poop to sex to shoes.

It’s human nature to want to ‘put your best foot forward’ (yes, pun intended) and to present yourself to the world as close to perfect as possible. However, if this memoir had been written that way, it would not have been authentic, nor would it have been such a compelling read.

Ruth has been able to tell her story in such a way that instead of pitying her, you find yourself following her journey with rabid interest.

You will want to cry at times, yet at others, you will be laughing along with her – and a few times you just might find yourself laughing at her antics.

It may not have been her intention, but this memoir also has lessons to teach us all. Firstly, even though Ruth looked perfectly healthy and happy, she was struggling with a wide variety of symptoms. Not yet diagnosed, and working at a voice acting gig, Ruth says: “I was able to stand for the entire voice session, ignoring the temptation to rest on the stool behind me. Neither the producer nor my voice partner seemed to notice the effort it took for me to remain perfectly upright, making me wonder for the thousandth time: If no one else was noticing, was anything wrong with me.”

This is something that many people struggle with. But, as Ruth proved, it is important to listen to your body and to be your own healthcare advocate. Do NOT ignore your symptoms.

By all accounts, Ruth Marshall is a terrific actress, but I believe she was always meant to be an author.

Judging by the readability of WALK IT OFF, I am sure others will agree. This memoir is destined to become a Bestseller and I would bet money that Ruth Marshall’s name will be on literary lips everywhere in 2018.

I rate WALK IT OFF: THE TRUE (AND ODDLY HILARIOUS) STORY OF HOW I LEARNED TO STAND, WALK, PEE, RUN, AND EVEN HAVE SEX AGAIN, AFTER A NIGHTMARISH DIAGNOSIS TURNED MY PERFECTLY AWESOME LIFE UPSIDE DOWN as 5 out of 5 Stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Excerpt from Chapter One:

“I wanted to be an actress from the time I was six years old and have been one since I was twenty-five. My career has been notable for three reasons: I got naked in my first film role; I was in a television series with Billy Ray Cyrus; and for eight seasons I played a Mom on the Canadian teen drama DEGRASSI. The biggest chunk of my career, however, has been made up of commercial voice work. My voice has sold everything from Ikea kitchens to condoms.”

Ruth Marshall was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She is known for her work on Casino Jack (2010), Doc (2001) and Dolores Claiborne (1995).

She graduated with a degree in English from McGill University in Montreal and then returned to her hometown of Toronto to pursue a career in acting.

Ruth Marshall made her feature film debut in the lead role of Candy in Love and Human Remains.

Marshall is also a stage actor and was critically acclaimed for her one-woman performance in 4 Letters, 5 Years, which she wrote, produced and starred in.

In 1994, Marshall took on the role of Celeste in Transit of Venus at the Globe Theater in Canada. In addition to her career as an actor, Marshall is also a very accomplished voice actor as well.

Features & TV Movies:
Love & Human Remains (1993)
TekWar: TekJustice (TV-1994)
Dolores Claiborne (1995)
Waiting for Michelangelo (1996)
Too Close to Home (TV-1997)
Half a Dozen Babies (TV-1999)
Dogmatic (1999)
Apparent Woes (2006)
Baby Blues (2007)
Daniel`s Daughter (TV-2008)
Degrassi Spring Break Movie (TV-2008)
Casino Jack (2010)

TV Series – Cast:

Wild C.A.T.S. (voice, 1994)
Doc (2001-2004)
The Path to 9/11 (mini-series, 2006)
Degrassi: The Next Generation (2007-)
Flashpoint (2008-2009)
TV Series – Guest appearances:
F/X: The Series (1997)
Power Play (1998)
This is Wonderland (2004)
Zoe Busiek: Wild Card (2005)
Puppets Who Kill (2006)
Love You to Death (2007)
Friends and Heroes (voice, 2007)
The Dating Guy (2009)
She’s the Mayor (2011)
The Listener (2011)
The Firm (2012)
Rookie Blue (2012)

To learn more about Ruth Marshall and her new career as an author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

INSTAGRAM

NORTHERN STARS – CANADA’S CELEBRITY DATABASE

INTERNET MOVIE DATABASE

AUMA’S LONG RUN by Debut Author EUCABETH ODHIAMBO is a fascinating look at the African AIDS epidemic from the point of view of a pre-teen girl. 

Title: AUMA’S LONG RUN     

Author: EUCABETH ODHIAMBO 

Genre: FICTION, MIDDLE-GRADE FICTION

Length: 293 PAGES

Publisher: CAROLRHODA BOOKS – A DIVISION OF LERNER PUBLISHING GROUP      
Type of Book: HARDCOVER    

Received From: GOODREADS GIVEAWAY     

Release Date: SEPTEMBER 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5124-2784-4   

Price: $17.99 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS                          🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟    

DESCRIPTION:   

Auma loves to run. In her small Kenyan village, she’s a track star with big dreams. A track scholarship could allow her to attend high school and maybe even become a doctor. But a strange new sickness called AIDS is ravaging the village, and when her father becomes ill, Auma’s family needs her help at home.

Soon more people are getting sick—even dying—and no one knows why.

Now Auma faces a difficult choice. Should she stay to support her struggling family or leave to pursue her own future? Auma knows her family is depending on her, but leaving might be the only way to find the answers to questions about this new disease.  

 

MY REVIEW:

This novel is targeted at young adults and middle-grade readers, however it will also appeal to adults.

It is author Eucabeth Odhiambo’s debut novel and was released less than two months ago.

It tells the tale of 12 year old Auma who lives with her family in a small village in Kenya. It is set in the 1980s when AIDS was first rearing its ugly head in Africa and when very little information was known about the disease.

People are dying every week in Auma’s small village and noone really knows why. They nicknamed the disease “Slim,” probably because patients wasted away before they died.

People didn’t understand why only adults were dying. The young and the elderly seemed to be spared. However, the young were often left as orphans and had to struggle to earn enough money so they wouldn’t starve. Unfortunately, many of these “AIDS Orphans” did end up starving to death.

Auma wants to get educated. She wants to become a doctor But, to do that she must first attend high school. How can she attend school even if she does receive a scholarship when her family needs her to either marry or work to keep her siblings alive?

This tale is not the story of any specific individual or family. Instead, it is the story of what many in Kenya endured before proper information was learned about this heinous disease.

AUMA’S LONG RUN contains wonderfully evocative writing that brings the setting to life for readers. This is demonstrated even in the simplest of sentences, such as: “The rays of the setting sun felt like tongues of fire upon my back.”

The characters are heart-breakingly believable and it is impossible for readers not to feel empathy for Auma and her family. The fact that author Eucabeth Odhiambo grew up in Kenya explains why the setting feels so authentic.

Part of why I like this book so much is that the author does not shy away from the horror of the AIDS victims that Auma encounters. The author wrote this book with the education of readers in mind, and educate she does. Auma sees the lesions and sores appear on her mother’s skin and takes care of her as she wastes away.
This is important. Readers need to know that AIDS is a horrific disease. As Auma learns more about the disease ravaging her village, the reader also learns. Eucabeth Odhiambo has written a story that both entertains and educates her readers and for that, she should be applauded.

I highly recommend this book and rate it as 5 out of 5 Stars for Middle-grade readers. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 

To hear the author read an excerpt from Auma’s Long Run click HERE.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  

Eucabeth Odhiambo is a professor of teacher education at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania.

As a classroom teacher she has taught all grades between kindergarten and middle school.

Eucabeth grew up in Kenya in the 80’s and 90’s and saw her friends and relatives directly impacted by the disease. “There were so many deaths,  [Eucabeth], like Auma, had many unanswered questions – partly because information simply wasn’t available, and partly because [her] society did not encourage open conversation about the disease.”

After moving to the United States in the early 2000s, Eucabeth obtained her doctoral degree and while studying AIDS education in Kenyan schools,      she returned to Kenya to interview both children and teachers. She spoke to many AIDS orphans and “…was amazed at how strong these children were. Of course they struggled under the weight of depression and desperation – not to mention threat of starvation – but life had to go on.”

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

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ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:  

Committed to Education Since 1959

Lerner Publishing Group is one of the nation’s largest independently owned children’s publishers with more than 5,000 books in print. For more than 50 years, they’ve created nonfiction and fiction books for pre-school to young adult readers and for libraries, classrooms, and homes across the country.

They bring together authors, illustrators, photographers, and educators to ensure that each book is age-appropriate and meets curriculum standards. Lerner books are thoroughly researched and exceptionally written with amazing illustrations and captivating photography that hold readers’ attention. And because each year brings a new class of students, we use our proprietary Muscle Bound®hardcover library binding so our books last a lifetime in the classroom and library. We guarantee it.

Learn more about this Publisher by clicking on the links below:

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A New MUST READ Young Adult novel that will have adult readers fondly thinking about growing up in the 80s. THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS is available now!


 
Title: THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS

Author: JASON REKULAK     

Genre: YOUNG ADULT FICTION, HISTORICAL FICTION  (THE 1980s)

Length: 285 PAGES

Publisher: SIMON AND SCHUSTER 

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER

Received From: SIMON AND SCHUSTER through the Goodreads Giveaway program

Cover Design: WILL STAHLE

Release Date: FEBRUARY 7, 2017

ISBN: 9781501166839

Rating:   5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟     

  

I LOVED THIS BOOK. Although THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS is targeted at young adult readers, anyone who, like me, grew up in the 1980s will find this book a trip down memory lane.

Jason Rekulak may be a debut author, but it is obvious that his years working as an editor for Quark Books embued him with an excellent sense of the proper balance between the plot and character development.

Will Marvin and his two best friends are the ultimate underdogs. It’s 1986 and Vanna White is the ultimate girl next door. When the boys learn that she is featured in Playboy magazine, they are determined to get copies.

Will is a nerd. I can relate. I remember taking classes in Basic Code and doing anything on a computer took hours and hours of entering programming code. But, Will loves it. Hos ultimate life goal is to design video games for a living.

Then he meets Mary Zelinsky. She is a computer nerd too. Will is stunned. He had no idea that there were girls who liked computers. Remember – this was the 80s and women were still battling the secretary stereotype.

Can Will get the girl, perfect his video game called The Impossible Fortress, and get his hands on the dirty pictures of Vanna White?

This novel will have adult readers waxing nostalgic for the less complicated days of their youth and both adults and young adults alike will be able to relate to the terror and elation of discovering the opposite sex for the first time.

THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS is liberally sprinkled with pop culture references and readers will find themselves digging out their old mixed-tapes.

I absolutely loved this book and I will be recommending it to all my friends. I doubt this is the last we have heard from debut author Jason Rekulak and I, for one, can’t wait to read whatever he comes up with next.

I rate this book with an enthusiastic 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Now, I’m off to my basement to try to find my old Atari system. I can’t wait to play Space Invaders – old school style.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

 

JASON REKULAK was born and raised in New Jersey. He has worked for many years at Quirk Books, where he edits a variety of fiction and non-fiction.

He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and two children. THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS is his first novel.

To learn more and to play a version of The Impossible Fortress game, visit his website.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE 

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KILLING KATIE by BA Spangler will have you looking at your neighbors with suspicion. A great start to a new thriller series. 

Title: KILLING KATIE    

Series: AN AFFAIR WITH MURDER – BOOK ONE    

Author: B.A. SPANGLER     

Length: 386 PAGES

Type of Book: PAPERBACK

Genre: CRIME FICTION, THRILLER

ISBN: 978-1514663158

PUBLISHER: BRIAN SPANGLER       

RELEASE DATE: 2015

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟

 
Friendship, murder, betrayal, this book has it all. A fast-paced read that will shock and surprise readers with its many twists and turns.

Housewives, mothers, ladies, women of a certain age, (women of any age actually) – we all have fantasies. Some women fantasize about shopping. Others fantasize about looking like a model. Some even fantasize about having an affair. Fantasies are harmless. It is when fantasy crosses the line into reality that problems arise.

But what happens when your fantasies are a little less mundane and a lot more serious. What happens when your obsession is a secret desire to kill someone? I guess that even that fantasy is harmless, as long as it remains in the realm of imagination. This book blurs the line between thought and action and many unintended consequences arise.

The lead character in B.A. Spangler’s novel is a housewife named Amy. 

Amy fantasizes about murder and has fantasized about killing someone ever since her adolescence. In fact, she even fantasized about killing Katie – her best friend. (Hence the title of this book.)

Now she wants to take that fantasy to the next level. The fact that Amy is married to a cop complicates matters, but Amy is determined to live out her fantasy.

When Amy’s exploits end up as cases assigned to her husband, she has to lie to him. One lie becomes two, and two become four; until she is so deep in the lies that she has no idea how to dig her way back out.


“I dared a little taste. At once my life was filled with seductive thrills, embracing my desires, drawing me in until I’d lost sight of who I was.” 

I enjoyed this very unusual read. It is different which I really like. I enjoy not knowing what to expect. 

If you too want to read a book that will keep you turning the pages and maintain your interest from start to finish, then this is the book for you.

KILLING KATIE is the first book in the AN AFFAIR WITH MURDER series. Book Two – A PAINFUL TRUTH is available now.

I rate KILLING KATIE as 4 out of 5 Stars.🌟🌟🌟🌟 

 

* I received a free copy of this book through the Goodreads Giveaway program.    


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
(IN HIS OWN WORDS)

Who am I?

I’m a resident of Virginia, living with my wife and children, along with three cats (sometimes more), a mouse, parrot, lizard and the funniest chinchilla on the east coast.

Although I live in Virginia, my heart is still in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where I grew up. And I hope that one day, I’ll be able to call Philadelphia home again.

Growing up, I liked to read short stories, but struggled with the words. You see, I had a secret: a sad little secret. Ashamed and embarrassed, I was the little kid in the back row of the schoolroom, quietly moving my lips along with the class while everyone read aloud. I couldn’t read. I couldn’t write. I hoped nobody would notice, but they did. They always did.

By the time I’d reached the fourth grade, my secret wasn’t a secret anymore. The teachers knew something was wrong. Dyslexia. Maybe that is why I liked science fiction so much? All those crazy looking glyphs on the screen, glowing, flashing.

The fix? Back to the third grade for me, and then special classes three days a week. It worked. Once I started reading, I never stopped. Stephen King, Piers Anthony, Dean Koontz, and even the Judy Blume books my sisters discarded.

I’m still one of the slowest readers I know, but school was never a problem again. I finally graduated the third grade, and then kept on going until I finished my Masters.

These days, I work as an engineer and spend my nights writing, editing and thinking up the next great story.

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THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK IN THE WORLD by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt is a collection of eight novellas that focus on the darkness within us all & the ability for redemption.

Title: THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK IN THE WORLD: Eight Novellas


Translated from the French by: ALISON ANDERSON   

Author: ERIC-EMMANUEL SCHMITT 

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER  

Genre: NOVELLAS, SHORT STORIES

Length: 181 PAGES   

Publisher: EUROPA EDITIONS   

Release Date: 2009

ISBN: 978-1-9933372-74-7 

Price: $15.00 USD / $18.00 CAN

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟


MY REVIEW:


STORY # 1 – WINNIPEG WANDA

“Wanda had already figured out that she would make it on her own … Wanda concluded that it was through men that she would make her way in life.”

Seemingly cold and calculated, Wanda Winnipeg is a thrice-divorced multimillionaire. She both demands and commands attention and respect wherever she goes. Disdain is her go-to emotion.


STORY # 2 – FINE RAINY DAY

“Hėlène could not remember having ever experienced a perfect moment.”

No one and nothing was ever good enough for her. That is, until she met Antoine, whose love for her  changes everything. Or does it?


STORY 3 – THE INTRUDER  

Odile Versini is sure that she has just seen a woman in her apartment and not only that, but that the intruder stared right at her. Odile calls the police and stays on the phone until they arrive. However, by the time they get there the woman has somehow slipped out of the apartment.

This happens several times and Odile cannot fathom what this woman wants, why she keeps returning and exactly how she is able to get away each time. But she is determined to put a stop to it once and for all.

 STORY #4 – THE FORGERY

This story, although it might not seem so at first, is all about perceptions.

 

STORY # 5 – EVERY REASON TO BE HAPPY


Just because all your friends and acquaintances say that you every reason to be happy, does not guarantee that you are.


STORY # 6 – THE BAREFOOT PRINCESS

Appearances can be deceiving.


STORY # 7 – ODETTE TOULEMOND

Perhaps happiness and fulfillment can come from unexpected places.


STORY # 8 – THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK IN THE WORLD

This story is the best one out of the eight and is set in a Russian gulag housing female political dissidents in the 1950s.


OVERALL

This collection of novellas is full of stories that prove that author Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt is a supremely talented writer who is able to connect with readers all over the world. He has his finger firmly placed on the pulse of the human condition which enables his stories to mean different things to different people.

I have read many short story anthologies but this one is the most unique. I recommend this collection to anyone who enjoys literary fiction.

The novellas were originally written in French and have been translated into English by the gifted translator Alison Anderson. She has used her impressive talents to allow the reader to still experience the richness of a foreign culture while being able to stay true to the author’s vision.

I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars and I encourage everyone to pick up a copy of this book. In fact, it would make a unique Christmas gift for the book lover in your life. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

 

ERIC-EMMANUEL SCHMITT –  playwright, novelist, and author of short stories, was awarded the French Academy’s Grand Prix du Théâtre in 2001.

He is one of Europe’s most popular authors. His many novels and story collections include The Most Beautiful Book in the World (Europa Editions 2009) and The Woman with the Bouquet (Europa Editions 2010). 


Visit the author’s official web site

    


ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR:

ALISON ANDERSON  is the author of the forthcoming novel The Summer Guest.

She spent many years in California; she now lives in a Swiss village and works as a literary translator.

Her translations include The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, and works by Nobel laureate J. M. G. Le Clézio. She has also written two previous novels and is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literary Translation Fellowship.

She has lived in Greece and Croatia, and speaks several European languages, including Russian.

Visit her official website HERE.  

GEMINKNOT by Alexander Francis is a strange yet compelling tale that will pull you in.

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Title: GEMINKNOT

Author: ALEXANDER FRANCIS

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER – LARGE PRINT – AUTOGRAPHED

Genre: DRAMA

Length: 353 PAGES

Publisher: ARCUS VERBA PUBLISHING  

Release Date: SEPTEMBER 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-942420-18-7 

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟 

The story begins when a young, ambitious reporter, employed by a small town newspaper, is ordered to visit the local nursing home to report on a couple who has been married for many years. Jill is annoyed because she is sick of reporting on things like the local garden club and she figures that this assignment will be more of the same.

When Jill first meets Mike she is touched by the depth of the love he obviously still feels for his wife, Mary. But, Jill still believes that her story will be little more than a fluff piece.

When Mike begins by telling her that he was switched at birth for one of a pair of twins, Jill’s interest is piqued.

As Mike continues to talk, they are joined by Mary who is dying and the story gets more & more interesting as details emerge. 

This story includes an unlikely and unique love story, mob affiliations, murder, a young man off to fight in World War II, and much more. 

As Jill is drawn into the story, so is the reader. It is impossible to not want to know more about this elderly pair of lovebirds. Readers will want to know what the secret is to holding onto that love for a lifetime.

As beautiful and touching as the story of Mike and Mary seems to be, they also seem to have been magnets for trouble and they are both touched by evil at different times in their lives.

The author does a great job of showing both the best of mankind and the worst. Every chapter in GEMINKNOT throbs with emotion. 

It is definitely worth reading and I loved the large print edition and how easy it was on my eyes. 


I rate GEMINKNOT as 4 out of 5 Stars. 🌟🌟🌟🌟 


I received an autographed, large print version of GEMINKNOT from the author through the Goodreads Giveaway program.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Alexander Francis grew up in Charleston, South Carolina and went to college there.

His first attempt at writing was to re-create some favorite episodes from his childhood and, to poke a bit of fun at his brother.

In college, Alexander discovered an ability to write poetry, thanks to a rather demanding English professor.

Life intervened, and there was a large hiatus before he found time to write again. His first attempt came almost by accident, because one day he simply wrote down what had happened to him the previous evening.

That story eventually became the book ARE WE A BAND YET and at the time, the few who read it were full of praise. Because the story was personal, and some of the characters real, he declined to publish it for a long time. But his language skills and storytelling were re-awakened by that first attempt, and since then, he has gone on to write eight full-length novels, all the while working on his style and literary abilities.

He says that what most interests him is the interrelationship between men and women. It’s a subject which has tested writers and storytellers for eons and is truly inexhaustible. Each situation is both unique and timeless, as well as compelling.

During Alexander’s rather short career, his emotions have been awakened, and he attempts to give his readers the intensity of his feelings through words. Two of his novels (Beware The Exit and Memory Gap) were inspired by dreams, and after recalling the fragments that remained the next morning, he put the essence down on paper and began the laborious task of creating an exciting book.

He says that his writing is just getting started, because everywhere he looks, he can see the outline of yet another book which needs telling, another exciting tale or tender moment which can be created in ink and paper.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE  

GOODREADS  
TO BUY A COPY OF GEMININOT PLEASE CLICK ON THE INDIE LOGO BELOW: 

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5 Stars for a unique work of Historical Fiction by Indie Author Delaney Green – JEM: A FUGITIVE FROM LONDON 

Click here to purchase JEM: FUGITIVE FROM LONDON now!

Print of London 1750 by Martin Engelbrecht


Title: JEM: A FUGITIVE FROM LONDON

Series: JEM – BOOK TWO

Author: DELANEY GREEN  

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER

Genre: HISTORICAL FICTION

Length: 363 PAGES

Publisher: SELF-PUBLISHED – INDIE AUTHOR through CREATE SPACE   

Release Date: AUGUST 4, 2016

ISBN: 9781533030528 

Price: $14.95 USD / 19.95 CDN

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟   


* I received a free autographed softcover copy of this book from the 
Goodreads Giveaway program.  



FROM THE BACK COVER:


LONDON, 1758

Orphan Jem Connolly, disguised as a boy, works for physician John Abernathy and makes medicine on the side with herbalist Margery Jamison. Life is good, except for Jem’s inborn magic, which forces her to listen to what animals are thinking and to know, by touch, which illnesses hide deep inside Abernathy’s patients.

Lately, Jem’s Second Sight has flung her spirit into birds, leaving her body behind and helpless.

Jem wants to try to control her magic on her own, but Abernathy thinks Jem should study in Cornwall with Margery’s Sighted grandmother.

When Jem’s old enemy, Patch, turns up looking for Jem, she is forced to flee to windswept Bodmin Moor and stay with Granny Kestrel, who lives near an ancient stone circle saturated with Old Magic.

Can Granny teach Jem how to control her Second Sight, or will it continue to control her?


MY REVIEW:

This is the second book in the “JEM” series which I was unaware of when I began reading. Fortunately for me, it did not matter. Author Delaney Green has beautifully woven the pertinent details from the first book into the storyline of Book Two. She does this so seemlessly that readers will be unaware that this information was not new to readers of Book One. By the time I reached the one-third mark, I felt that I had a solid grasp on Jem’s backstory as well as an insight into her psychology.

This book contains details about the way of life in England in the years before the US (or The Colonies as they were known at the time) went to war with England for Independence.

I was fascinated with not only the core story, but also with the way the author wove historical figures such as Benjamin Franklin into the tale in such a way that it seemed not only possible, but also plausible.

Benjamin Franklin

Aside from the incredibly interesting and detailed historical elements of this story are also the powers that Jem has which are also intriguing.

Photo obtained from the Georgian Gentleman Blog


When she flees London and goes to live on the Moor with Granny, she learns how to harness and use her powers.

Then, there is also the mystery of Jem’s genealogy which will draw readers further into Jem’s world.

It is impossible not to be sucked in to this book and it is incredibly hard to put it down once you begin reading.

I rate this historical fiction book as 5 out of 5 stars. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 

 I also plan to go back and read the first book in this series and I am very much looking forward to reading more about Jem’s adventures. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Delaney Green lives in the American Midwest with a black cat and a Golden Retriever.

When she’s not writing, you’ll likely find her working in the garden, tinkering in the garage, or tooling around on her bike.

She is the author of “Jem, a Girl of London,” which won a North Street Book Prize in 2015 and of “Tsunami Surprise,” featured in “Murder at the Beach,” a story anthology published for Bouchercon 2014, an annual convention of creators and devotees of mystery and detective fiction.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE  

GOODREADS  

TWITTER  

FACEBOOK   

AMAZON  

Jeffrey Archer – SINS OF THE FATHER – Review of Book Two of the Bestselling Series THE CLIFTON CHRONICLES – A 5 Star Read 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 

Title: THE SINS OF THE FATHER



Series: BOOK TWO OF THE CLIFTON CHRONICLES

Author: JEFFREY ARCHER       

Type of Book: PAPERBACK

Genre: HISTORICAL FICTION

Length: 339 PAGES

Publisher: ST. MARTIN’S GRIFFIN – A division of MACMILLAN PUBLISHERS LTD

Release Date: 2012

ISBN: 978-1-250-03903-3

Price: $16.99 USD / $19.50 CAN

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟  

First off I have to admit that I have not read book one in the Clifton Chronicles series. I received a free copy of this book through the Goodreads Giveaway program. Fortunately for me, it was not necessary to have read the first book to understand and to enjoy THE SINS OF THE FATHER. 

Historical fiction is exceptionally difficult to write, especially if it includes specific years when significant events have taken place as is the case with this book. However, Jeffrey Archer is a professional and he is able to convincingly write about the time period in question.

This series has been referred to as: “Archer’s most ambitious work in four decades as an international bestselling author.” And it is easy to understand why.

The book begins in 1939 on the docks of New York City. Harry Clifton has decided to take on a new identity in order to cut all ties to his past. He chooses to call himself Tom Bradshaw (the name of a fellow shipmate who died at sea) but little did he know that he chose the wrong person to impersonate.

Upon arrival on the docks, he is immediately arrested and charged with first-degree murder.

 When Sefton Jelks, a famous (and usually expensive) lawyer, offers his services for free, Harry has little choice but to accept his advice since he has no money. After Harry is tried, found guilty and sentenced, Jelks disappears, and the only way for Harry to prove his innocence would be to reveal his true identity which  he has sworn not to do. He knows that in order to set free the woman he loves, he must let everyone back in England believe that he died at sea. 

Harry begins serving out his prison sentence unaware that Emma (the woman he loves more than anything else) has given birth to a son – his son.

Emma refuses to believe that Harry is dead and travels to New York to try to prove her theory.

This novel revolves around secrets – both personal and familial and gives reader a glimpse into the lives of those on both sides of the ocean both before and during World War II.

“The Sins of the Father bears all the characteristic twists of a classic Archer novel, and leaves readers wanting more.”

The author does an amazing job of explaining the backstory so that it did not matter that I had not read the first book. Jeffrey Archer has a gift for drawing readers into the story and making them care about what happens to them. This is especially true of the character Emma Barrington. It is impossible not to admire her dedication and fortitude during a time in history when women were often not taken seriously.

Because of the astonishing amount of detail and the obvious amount of research that must have gone into writing this book and the amazing character development, I rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars.🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Watch a video in which Author Jeffrey Archer talks about THE CLIFTON CHRONICLES:

  https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=Y7nK1_6Tp00   


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

It has often been said that Jeffrey Archer’s own story would make an international bestseller. He was born in London, brought up in Somerset, the son of a printer, and educated at Wellington School, and Brasenose College, Oxford.

After leaving Oxford he was elected to the Greater London Council, and three years later at the age of 29, he became Member of Parliament for Louth. After five years in the Commons and a promising political career ahead of him, he invested heavily in a Canadian company called Aquablast, on the advice of the Bank of Boston. The company went into liquidation, and three directors were later sent to jail for fraud. Left on the brink of bankruptcy, he resigned from the House of Commons.

Aged 34, determined to repay his creditors in full, he sat down to write his first novel Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less. Written at the home of his former Oxford Principal, it was taken up by the Literary Agent, Debbie Owen, and sold to 17 countries within a year. It was also made into a successful serial for BBC Radio 4, and was later televised in 1990 by the BBC.

Since then, Jeffrey Archer has produced over 25 published titles and sold over 270 million copies around the world, in 97 countries and more than 37 languages. He is the only author ever to have been a number one bestseller in fiction (eighteen times), short stories (four times) and non-fiction (The Prison Diaries).

Jeffrey’s latest project is a seven-book saga called the Clifton Chronicles. Book One, Only Time Will Tell, published in 2011, topped the charts around the world, spending 12 weeks at No.1 in India. Books two, The Sins of the Father published in March 2012, and three, Best Kept Secret published in March 2013, also went straight to No.1 in the UK, India, Australia and South Africa. The fourth book in the series, Be Careful What You Wish For, came out in hardback in March 2014, and spent twelve weeks in the top 10—four of them at #1—on the Sunday Times Best Seller list, and also went to #1 in Australia, India, and South Africa.

Jeffrey Archer was Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party from September 1985 until November 1986. In 1991, he was co-ordinator for the Campaign for Kurdish Relief, and he is also an amateur charity auctioneer. Jeffrey Archer was made a Life Peer in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List of 1992.

Jeffrey has been married for 48 years to Dame Mary Archer DBE, who is Chairman of the Science Museum. They have two sons, William and James, and two grandsons, and divide their time between homes in London, Cambridge and Mallorca.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE 


OFFICIAL US WEBSITE  

MACMILLAN PUBLISHERS AUTHOR PAGE         

TWITTER     

GOODREADS  

FACEBOOK 

YOUTUBE 

4 Stars well deserved for Jonathan Olivier’s debut novel about finding a place where you truly belong. BETWEEN THE LEVEES is a wonderful and emotional read.

 

Title: BETWEEN THE LEVEES

Author: JONATHAN OLIVIER

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER

Genre: FICTION 

Length: 215 PAGES

Publisher: SELF-PUBLISHED

Release Date: JULY 4, 2016 

ISBN: 9780997731804 

Price: $12.99 USD at AMAZON.COM
Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟

* I won a free autographed copy of this book through the Goodreads Giveaway program.
What does home mean to you?

What is the definition of family?

How important is it to find a place where you truly feel that you belong? And, what would you be willing to do to find it?

Sam’s parents died when he was only an infant. The courts were able to find a distant relative who was willing to take him in, but his early life was anything but idyllic. Because of this, he left “home” at the young age of seventeen and never looked back.

“It took eight years before his lonely, stagnant life became too much for him. After a night of coming too close to hitting the bottle – something he vowed he’d never again do – he knew he needed to find out who his family was. He knew that he needed to uncover who he was, too.”

Based on a name that appeared in court documents, Sam left Boston for the swamps of Louisiana – looking for a man named Vincent in a place called “Bayou Pigeon.”

What he finds there changes his view of himself and of his place in the world.

The author’s obvious love for the swamps and back lanes of Louisiana c?shines through in this book. With emotive prose and detailed descriptions, readers will find themselves falling in love with Louisiana as well and itching for the opportunity to visit the swamps of the Atchafalaya.

Jonathan Olivier has a definite talent, not only for describing the swamps and their unique landscapes, but also for character building and for bringing his characters to life on the written page.

My only complaint regarding this book is the editing/ proof-reading.

There are multiple instances of editing errors inckuding awkward phrasing. For example:

“Sam had looked forward to getting to again eat the fresh fish Vincent cooked up. As he took his first bite, the freshness of the meat was again apparent, accentuated with a hint of Cajun spices.”

I found these two sentences to be both awkward and overly wordy. I realize that this is just my humble opinion, but I believe that many other readers will agree with me. However, even though the book is not perfect, the phrasing issues should have been caught and addressed by the editor, so it is not the author’s fault. 

There are other small editing errors as well, such as missing commas. These small errors can be distracting to the reader.

For example; “I told you before you left this place gets in your blood.”

Without a comma the above sentence can be read many different ways. To change this and to make it less confusing, I would suggest that it be  written like this:

“I told you before you left, this place gets in your blood.”

The third type of editing errors found in this book were missing or extra words in sentences.

For example: “Two men stood near an outside freezer door talking; they nodded at Sam as he set down the tub of fish, and he Vincent walked by.”

It should say: “Two men were talking as they stood near the door of an outside freezer; they nodded at Sam as he set down the tub of fish just as Vincent walked by.”

I loved the story and the underlying themes of both family and hope. In a world where people often equate happiness with the accumulation of possessions, it is refreshing to find a book that shuns this ideal and reminds us that we really need very little to be happy. According to Sam’s mother there were only two things that a person needs to achieve true happiness, and those consist of: “Famille. Amour. Une vie.” I agree.

I rate this debut novel as 4 out of 5 stars. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

 

Jonathan started his writing career as a journalist five years ago for a small outdoor publication in Louisiana. After his first published piece, he was hooked.

Since then, his reporting on outdoor recreation and environmental issues has spanned local newspapers and magazines, and national publications such as Outside and Backpacker.

The inspiration for his debut novel “Between the Levees” came from spending most of his life hunting, fishing and camping in the Atchafalaya Basin not far from his home, as well as his deep appreciation of his Cajun roots.

If there’s one thing Jonathan Olivier loves more than the swamps of Louisiana, it’s being in the mountains. These days, whenever he gets a chance, he can be found backpacking  in the mountains.

The newspaper in his hometown interviewed Jonathan, and through the reading of that article, a fuller picture of the author becomes available. If you are interested in reading the West Side Journal article click HERE.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

 

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

LINKEDIN

ALL THE THINGS WE LEAVE BEHIND by Riel Nason has only been available for sale for 1 day but is already destined to be a Bestseller. 


Title: ALL THE THINGS WE LEAVE BEHIND    

Author: RIEL NASON  

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER  

Genre: FICTION

Length: 236 PAGES

Publisher: GOOSE LANE EDITIONS 
Release Date: SEPTEMBER 13, 2016 

ISBN: 9780864920416 

Price: $19.95 CDN

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 

* I received a free copy of this book through the Goodreads Giveaway program.

An absolutely mesmerizing read. ALL THE THINGS WE LEAVE BEHIND is quite simply brilliant.

Set in the late 1970s in a tiny town in New Brunswick, the story begins with seventeen-year-old Violet reminisces about the childhood adventures she experienced with her brother; Bliss.

The ironically named Bliss has left home and Violet’s parents have left to try and track him down. They have left Violet in charge of The Purple Barn which is the family’s antique store.

During her childhood, Violet remembers all the times that Bliss would become incredibly sad for no apparent reason. In those days things such as mental illness or depression were not taken as seriously as they are today. (Even though current society still has a long way to go as well.) This book highlights his depression symptoms, without recognizing them for what they were.

With characters such as “Quinny” who is the silver haired old lady hired to work the store’s counter and Violet’s almost too nice boyfriend: Dean, working alongside her, what could possibly go wrong for Vi?

Violet visits the hermit who lives at the edge of her family’s property, and hears about the deer he spotted recently, then she begins seeing an all-white deer which seems to glow in the moonlight. Violet is not sure if she wants the deer sightings to be real or imaginary.

When Violet is tasked with the responsibility for obtaining the items from a legendary local estate, things come to a head.

This book contains so many compelling storylines within the main narrative that you just do not want to put it down.

As a seventies child myself, I couldn’t help but feel nostalgia for that time period. With the backdrop being an antiques store, feelings of nostalgia are inevitable, but somehow the author makes it seem as if it is the readers idea which probably will not make sense until you read the book.

This is easily one of the best general fiction books that I have read in a very long time and deserves to be rated much higher than just 5 out of 5 stars. Ten stars seem more fitting, but since that is not an option, I rate this book as 5 out of 5 stars  🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

I believe that this book will become a bestseller and that it is destined to win multiple literary awards. Add this to your MUST READ list. You will not be disappointed.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Riel Nason is a Canadian novelist and textile artist (quilter).

Her acclaimed debut novel The Town That Drowned won the 2012 Commonwealth Book Prize for Canada and Europe, and the 2012 Margaret and John Savage First Book Award.  It was also shortlisted for several other literary awards as well as longlisted for the 2013 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.  Her second novel All The Things We Leave Behind was published September 13, 2016. 

Riel’s original quilts have been exhibited across Canada including being shown twice at Quilt Canada (the National Juried Show). She is best known for her whimsical selvage quilts and bold use of colour.  Modern Selvage Quilting was published in March, 2016.  It features 17 of her original designs.

She grew up in Hawkshaw, New Brunswick and now lives in Quispamsis, NB with her husband, son, daughter and cats.

An Amazing New Talent in Children’s Fiction – 5 Stars for MARCEL by Ada Akaltun – RELEASE DATE September 20th, 2016 

Title: MARCEL 

Author: ADA AKALTUN 

Illustrator: ADA AKALTUN

Type of Book: HARDCOVER

Genre: CHILDREN’S BOOKS, AGES 3-7 

Length: 40 PAGES

Publisher: FLYING EYE BOOKS
Release Date: SEPTEMBER 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-909263-75-8

Price: $16.95 USD / £11.99 GBP / $24.50 CDN

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟   

I received a free hardcover copy of this book and a super-cute matching tote bag through the Goodreads Giveaway program.

Oh my goodness, this book is Adorable – with a capital “A”
Marcel is a French Bulldog pup who lives in New York City with his human. This book is an interesting look at family and change through the eyes of of a beloved pet. It is also a love letter to the city of New York.

This is clearly a children’s book, but there are amazing touches and details that will appeal to adult readers as well. For example, Marcel’s favorite bagel shop is called “Ruff and Sons” and his human sometimes takes him for pampering at “Mani’s Doggy Day Spa.”


The illustrations are simply perfect. They are both visually stunning and at the same time, they are full of whimsy.

The book is hardcover with a lovely blue and white striped cloth binding. The illustrations, both on the cover and on the interior pages are done with a matte finish which goes perfectly with this book’s style.

There is absolutely nothing that I disliked about this wonderful children’s book and for that reason I rate MARCEL by Ada Akaltun as 5 out of 5 stars. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Judging by the picture at the end of the book, there is another “Marcel” book in the works and I will be waiting. I can’t wait to see what Marcel thinks of Paris.


CHECK OUT MARCEL ON INSTAGRAM  
Pre-Order Online at AMAZON.CA
Buy online at FLYING EYE BOOKS 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR: 


Eda is a New York based illustrator and printmaker from Istanbul.

Studying illustration at Central Saint Martins in London, Ada developed a love for traditional printmaking and collage, and began collecting paper ephemera, 50s fashion catalogues and old family photos to populate her increasingly detailed compositions.

 After obtaining an MA in Communication Design from Central Saint Martins in 2010, she joined Heart Agency who began to represent her in both the UK and the US. Since then she has worked for a wide range of clients including Herman Miller, Bafta, Krug Champagne and Pentagram NY among others – as well as taking part in a variety of exhibitions internationally. Ada is also a founding contributor to Nobrow.

Ada’s Clients include:

Herman Miller – BAFTA – Krug Champagne – Pentagram NY – BFI Publishing – TIME – Smithsonian Magazine – The New York Times – Financial Times – Bloomberg Businessweek – Education First – Huffington Post – Nautilus – Therapy Today – The Guardian – New Scientist – Condé Nast Traveller – The Telegraph – American Way – Johns Hopkins Magazine – Faber & Faber – New York Magazine – Nobrow – V&A Museum – Time Out – GreenSource Magazine – Elle Canada – Bulletin – Brunswick Review – New Statesman – Harvard Business Review – Eye Magazine – Reader’s Digest – Wired – Der Freitag (Germany) – Nature Magazine – Washington Post – Stanford Social Innovation Review – Brummell

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE  
HEART AGENCY ARTIST PAGE  
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE    

TWITTER  
INSTAGRAM   

   
ABOUT THE PUBLISHER: 


To learn more about Flying Eye Books visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE  
TWITTER
FACEBOOK   

INSTAGRAM    

Continue reading

BORN OF THE PHOENIX: THE CRIMSON SAPPHIRES by David Murray Forrester IS A GORGEOUSLY ILLUSTRATED AND EXCEPTIONALLY WELL WRITTEN NOVELLA Fully Deserving of a 5 Star Rating 

Title: THE CRIMSON SAPPHIRES

Series: BORN OF THE PHOENIX: BOOK ONE

Author: DAVID MURRAY FORRESTER  

Illustrator: MATOELGRANDE 

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER

Genre: FANTASY, NOVELLA

Length: 62 PAGES

Publisher: DELENAIR PRODUCTIONS

Release Date: MAY 28, 2016

ISBN: 9781533504999

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


* I received a free softcover copy of this novella from the author through the 
Goodreads Giveaway program. 


 

GOODREADS DESCRIPTION

 The champions of old have passed. The end of heroes has befallen the continent of Sapphiron and with no mighty warriors of valour and chivalry the moral conscious of the people is falling into decline. Born a Larrosan descendant, Ravage faces not only the dangers of living on a continent fraught with monsters and sorcery but also constant prejudice yet her strong soul does not wither under adversity, the challenges only temper her unyielding constitution forging a soul that burns with indomitable fortitude. With a hideous shorku devouring the flesh of hapless travellers on the outskirts of her home town of Delepode, Ravage finds herself interwoven with the violent events that are taking place all around her.

MY REVIEW:

This may only be a 62 page novella, but it is full-length quality.

The world building was outstanding and the character development was excellent.

I did not expect this novella to be so wonderfully written and illustrated, but I absolutely LOVED it. In fact, I am very much looking forward to reading more books and/or novellas in this series.

Yes, it is a fantasy story, but it is so much more than that. The characters face not only terrifying monsters that rip unwary travellers to pieces, but they also have to face prejudice based on their heritage and/or on their chosen occupation.

There is also a gripping storyline with twists that the reader will not see coming and which setup the storyline for the next episode.

My only complaint? That I don’t yet own the other book in the series, but I plan to rectify that soon and I will be keeping an eye out for more books in the series.


I rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 

You can purchase this book online at: 

ETSY  

AMAZON     

CREATE SPACE  


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 

 

DAVID MURRAY FORRESTER (1981) Growing up in the Blue Mountains in Australia David quickly developed a love of forests and adventure (much like the elves of Lothlorien hehe) He spent the 80’s watching cartoons such as Voltron, He-man and Astro boy and building Lego castles. As he continued aging his interest in cartoons evolved into an anime fascination with The Twelve Kingdoms and Claymore being at the top of his list. He muchly enjoys Playstation, fast cars, Pepsi, cats and tomato sauce. His book writing began at an early age with short stories and over the years his passion for words grew and blossomed into his first novel Born of the Phoenix. David plans to continue his career in writing until he is old and grey.


FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS BOOK AND IT’S AUTHOR AT THE FOLLOWING LINKS:

FACEBOOK   

OFFICIAL BLOG   

GOODREADS  

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE  

BOY ROBOT – Simon Curtis’ debut novel will be released on October 25th – A terrific Young Adult character driven Sci-Fi. 4 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟 

Title: BOY ROBOT  

Series: BOOK ONE OF A PLANNED TRILOGY 

Author: SIMON CURTIS

Type of Book: HARDCOVER

Genre: YOUNG ADULT, SCIENCE FICTION

Length: 432 PAGES

Publisher: SIMON AND SCHUSTER TEEN 

Release Date: OCTOBER 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7564-8 

Price: $17.99 USD / $23.99 CAN

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Imagine losing your mother before you even had a chance to meet her because  she died giving birth to you.

Historically, women used to die in childbirth all the time, but with the advent of modern medicine, this has become a rare event. The fact that it doesn’t happen very often is no consolation to Isaak who ends up being raised by “parents” who show him not a single ounce of love.

He thought his life already sucked. Little did he know – it was about to get worse – much worse.

On the night of his eighteenth birthday, his life is changed forever.

Lying in bed trying to fight off the mother of all migraine headaches, a mysterious and incredibly strong girl tells him to come with her if he wants to live. (Yes, it sounds kind of like a knock off from a scene from the Terminator – but it is my opinion that she was trying to add a bit of levity to a terrifying situation.) Turns out she showed up just in time and the pair end up running for their lives.

Isaak has no idea what is happening. He has no enemies and can’t think of anyone who would want to hurt him – nevermind someone wanting him dead.

His savior is a girl named Azure and it is her that explains to him that they are both robots and that a highly trained, highly deadly, secret branch of the US government is hunting down and destroying any and all robots.

His only hope for survival is to reach the hidden, secret base of the Underground, which is a group of robots (and some humans) that are fighting back.

The way my description makes it sound, it seems like this book is a science fiction novel, which I guess it is, but really it is a story about the characters themselves.

The character development is excellent but the world building leaves much to be desired. I would have liked to have had more information about the resistance and it’s leaders. I am hoping that this information will be included in the next book in the trilogy. 

This book includes so many personal, moral and ethical issues that readers could literally discuss this book for hours before exhausting the different topics. This makes it especially perfect for book clubs.

Here is a list of just a few of the topics and issues that are included in this book:

* Death of a parent
* Child abuse – physical
* Child abuse – mental and emotional
* Puberty
* Teenage Angst
* Bullying
* The desire for acceptance
* The desire for love & connection
* Transgender youth
* Sexuality
* Confusion over sexual identity
* What is the definition of life?
* What makes you human? Is it biology or psychology?
* Moral dilemmas such as:
– Would you leave a friend behind to face certain death in order to save yourself?
– Would you be willing to kill to save yourself?

I could go on and on with the list, but I think you get the idea.

Overall I enjoyed this book and I think that Simon Curtis has done a terrific job on his debut novel. I give BOY ROBOT 4 out of 5 stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟 

  • Pre-Order online at AMAZON 


* I received a free copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  


SIMON CURTIS was born in Michigan and raisef in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was diagnosed with leukemia at age 10 and began performing in musical theater and opera that same year. He was the happiest bald, chemo-therapy-addled cancer patient ever seen on stage. At eighteen, he moved to L.A. After various roles on Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel, Simon left acting to pursue music, releasing his first album, 8bit Heart, as a free download, followed by his second album, RA, which landed at number 20 on Billboard’s Dance & Electronic Albums chart.

Simon continues to write and release music as an independent recording artist, and looks forward to his new chapter as an author. Above all else, he strives to inspire hope in young people.


BOY ROBOT is his first novel.

To learn more about this inspiring young man, visit the following links:

PUBLISHER OFFICIAL WEBSITE   

GOODREADS       

TWITTER  

INSTAGRAM   

SIMON’S MUSIC WEBSITE   

FIFTEEN LANES by S.J. Laidlaw will capture and hold your attention from the first page to the last. 5 Stars!

Title: FIFTEEN LANES 

Author: S.J. LAIDLAW

Genre: FICTION, YOUNG ADULT FICTION

Length: 304 pages

Type of Book: HARDCOVER

Price: $21.99 CDN / $17.99 USD

Publisher: TUNDRA BOOKS

ISBN: 978-1101917800

Release Date: April 5, 2016

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


* I received a free hardcover copy of this book through the 
Goodreads Giveaway program. 

Heart-wrenching, illuminating, beautiful and horrific in equal measure. This book is simply brilliant.

Set in the city of Mumbai, this is the story of two young women who live within a few miles of each other, but whose lives are worlds apart.

Noor has spent the entirety of her young life living with her mother in a brothel in the heart of the FIFTEEN LANES that comprise Mumbai’s red light district. She is fated to soon follow her mother into the business of prostitution. If she is to have any hope of escaping that fate, she will need to act soon. But, she is devadasi which means that, as the eldest daughter, she is fated to follow in her mother’s footsteps. As far as Indian culture is concerned, she has no say and absolutely no choice in the matter.

Photo obtained from tr4f.wordpress.com

Meanwhile, on the other side of the same city lives fifteen year old Grace. As the daughter of the CEO of one of India’s largest banks, Grace has been brought up with every privilege money can buy. She has never visited the slums that are located so close to her luxury apartment complex. In fact, in her blissful teenage ignorance, she is not even aware that places such as Noor’s home exist.
Author S.J. Laidlaw has crafted an engrossing tale in which a series of events occur that lead Noor and Grace to cross paths and in doing so their lives become inextricably entwined.

I am loathe to give away too much of the plot while writing this review, so I will refrain from writing any more details. However, this is a book that lends itself to discussion. In fact, I would highly recommend this to any and all book clubs.

Some people might wonder if an Canadian-American author could possibly write authentically about life in the red light district of Mumbai and I admit that I wondered the same thing myself. However, upon reading the Author’s Note at the end of the book as well as reading S.J. Laidlaw’s biography, I no longer doubt her credentials. She is, in fact, uniquely qualified to author a book on this subject.

S.J. Laidlaw is not your typical author. She does not sit at home in her comfortable North American home and imagine what life in foreign locales might be like. She is as far from that typical stereotype as it is possible to be.

In fact, she “… first started volunteering with sex workers’ daughters in Kamathipura, the largest red-light district in Asia, in March of 2013.” In the “Author’s Note” at the end of the book, she says that even though she had previously received training in working with sexual violence victims, she “… wasn’t entirely prepared for the level of violence and degradation [that the girls were] routinely exposed to.”

The quote that I agreed with and that affected me the most was when the author stated: “More disheartening still is the extent to which a large portion of society has turned its back on them. Time and again [the author has] heard stories of girls being shunned, even asked to leave school, when it was found out their mothers were sex workers – no matter that the vast majority of their mothers had been trafficked into the life and were victims themselves.”

To me (and to most North Americans) this kind of apathy and acceptance of horrific acts is almost inconceivable. This book, although fiction, opened my eyes. I hope that it does the same for everyone who reads it.

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 stars. Once you start reading, you will be unable to put it down. Even though the subject matter is bleak at times, it is ultimately a story of strength and hope and it deserves to be read.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Born in Philadelphia, S.J. Laidlaw spent most of her childhood in Toronto. After completing an undergraduate degree in English, she ventured to Africa as a volunteer teacher. There she discovered that her students needed as much guidance and support outside the classroom as in it, so after three years, she returned to Canada to complete a graduate degree in clinical social work. 

Since then, she has worked as a counselor in many countries and led workshops for parents and educators on raising and working with third-culture children. Her first book, An Infidel in Paradise, won the IODE Violet Downey Book Award, and her second book, The Voice inside My Head, was chosen as a 2015 CLA Young Adult Book Honour Book and has been shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Award (winner to be announced). When she is not writing, S.J. Laidlaw currently volunteers at a night shelter for the children of sex workers in Mumbai. Visit her website at www.sjlaidlaw.com 

The author currently lives in Mumbai, India.