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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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

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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