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:

GOODREADS

iTUNES

YOUTUBE

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.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

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TWITTER

PINTEREST

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:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE     

GOODREADS    

FACEBOOK    

AMAZON     

CHAPTERS      

BARNES AND NOBLE    

 

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:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE      

TWITTER    

FACEBOOK       

INSTAGRAM   

5 Stars for THE GOLD EATERS by Ronald Wright – BOOK REVIEW

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THE GOLD EATERS

Author: Ronald Wright

Type of Book: Softcover Advanced Uncorrected and Unpublished Proof

Length: 384 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Canadian Release Date: September 22, 2015

U.S. Release Date: November 3, 2015

Hardcover Price: $28.95

Publisher: A Hamish Hamilton hardcover from Penguin Canada Books Inc.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

* I was the lucky winner of an advance uncorrected and unpublished proof from the Goodreads Giveaway program. This program is a wonderful way to discover new authors and soon to be released books. Winning books is a great way to expand your library and to read titles that intrigue you, but that you may have overlooked if not for the giveaway.

The word “epic” is consistently overused in the world of fiction. Many books which claim to be “epic tales” are not worthy of that claim. THE GOLD EATERS by Ronald Wright is truly an epic historical novel. It outlines true events from sixteenth century Peru and weaves them together with fictitious characters. This achieves the effect of bringing personalization to the long ago timeline and draws the reader into the tale.

The story begins with a Peruvian boy named Waman who is on the cusp of manhood. He lives what seems to me, an idyllic existence in a tiny fishing village in Northern Peru.

Waman is like every other teenager throughout history. He seeks independence and adventure, as well as the ability to prove that he is old enough to make his own life choices.

When he decides to leave home to seek his future upon the sea, he visualizes a life filled with adventure, much like the life in the stories he has heard all his life from his grandfather. Little does Waman know that the adventure he seeks will be found and will be much more difficult to endure than he ever could have imagined. In fact, it quite possibly might be than he can handle.

On his very first sea voyage, Waman ends up captured by a Spanish sea captain who is seeking the fabled land of Peru. He plans to use Waman as a forced interpreter.

Chained and kept in the bowels of the Spanish ship, Waman immediately regrets following his rash impulse to run away from his boring, but safe life in Little River village.

The story may begin with a simple Peruvian villager, but that young man soon finds his fate tied not only to the Spaniards, but also to the Inca (King) of Peru as well as his descendants.

Ronald Wright’s descriptions of the sixteen century Peruvian landscape and their amazing social structure are simply stunning. It is impossible to read this book and not have vivid pictures appear in the reader’s mind.

I was utterly fascinated by the details of how the Peruvians were able to rule over such a vast geographic area and yet ensure that everyone had enough to eat and poverty simply did not exist. One has to wonder what this amazing civilization might have accomplished had the Spanish never invaded and brought with them the plague of smallpox.

This book is a MUST READ and is destined to be a bestseller.

I am ashamed to admit that before reading THE GOLD EATERS, I had not read any of Ronald Wright’s previous books. After discovering his amazing ability to weave fact and fiction into a compelling and fascinating tale, I plan to read any and all of his books as soon as possible.

I rate THE GOLD EATERS as 5 out of 5 stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Historian, novelist, and essayist Ronald Wright is the award-winning author of ten books of fiction and nonfiction published in 16 languages and more than 40 countries.

Much of his work explores the relationships between past and present, peoples and power, other cultures and our own.

A Short History of Progress, in which he examines humankind’s increasingly precarious “experiment” with civilization, was the best-selling book in the 50-year history of the prestigious CBC Massey Lecture Series, winning the Libris Award for Nonfiction Book of the Year. Martin Scorsese’s Surviving Progress, a documentary film based on the book and produced by Cinémaginaire, Mark Achbar, and other members of The Corporation team, premiered in fall 2011 (see News).
Wright’s first novel, A Scientific Romance, a nightmare future of our making, won Britain’s David Higham Prize for Fiction and was chosen a book of the year by the New York Times, the Sunday Times, the Mail on Sunday, and the Globe & Mail. His other bestsellers include Time Among the Maya and Stolen Continents, a history of the Americas since Columbus which won the Gordon Montador Award and was chosen a book of the year by the Independent and the Sunday Times.
Wright contributes criticism to the Times Literary Supplement, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other publications. He has also written and presented documentaries for radio and television on both sides of the Atlantic. His 2008 history, What Is America?, was a No.1 bestseller and finalist for the B.C. Book Prize.
Born in England to Canadian and British parents, Wright read archaeology and anthropology at Cambridge University and has been awarded two honorary doctorates. He spent many years in Mexico and South America, Africa, and the South Seas, travelling for his books, taking part in anthropological research, and recording indigenous music. While in Peru he also wrote Lonely Planet’s first Quechua (Inca) phrasebook.
Wright lives on Canada’s West Coast. His latest novel, The Gold Eaters, is published by Hamish Hamilton/Penguin Canada and Riverhead/Penguin USA in fall 2015. Three of his earlier works are also newly available in Penguin Modern Classics.

To learn more about this author visit http://www.ronaldwright.com

Purchase Links:

http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/318824/the-gold-eaters-by-ronald-wright/

http://www.amazon.ca/The-Gold-Eaters-Ronald-Wright-ebook/dp/B00TY3ZSFG

5 Stars for THE PRISON BOOK CLUB by Ann Walmsley

Cover image obtained from www.annwalmsley.com

Cover image obtained from http://www.annwalmsley.com

THE PRISON BOOK CLUB

Author: Ann Walmsley

Type of Book: Hardcover

Genre: Non-Fiction

Length: 279 pages

Release Date: September 22, 2015

Publisher: Viking – A Division of Penguin/Random House Publishing

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

* I received a free ARC (Advance Review Copy) in hardcover of this book through the Goodreads Giveaway program. A review is not a requirement of receiving the book, but it is appreciated.

There are several factors that drew me to this book. Firstly, the author, Ann Walmsley, is Canadian and I love to read books written by my fellow Canadians. Secondly, this book is non-fiction and the subject matter intrigued me.

There is something about prison life that fascinates people. In the past few years a number of new prison-based television series (both fictitious and factual) have been created. Netflix has created a series called “Orange is the New Black” which takes place in a fictional U.S. woman’s prison. New Zealand’s “Wentworth” is similar to “OITNB.” There are also several new documentary/reality shows aired on channels such as A&E including “Behind Bars – Rookie Year” which chronicles the challenges new prison guards face when first beginning their jobs.

Before reading “The Prison Book Club” I was guilty of thinking of book clubs as the milieu of the middle or upper classes. I had never given a thought to the fact that people in prison would want to take part in such a club. Of course I am aware that reading takes place in prison since it is a way for inmates to pass the time. However, I had a hard time picturing inmates of different religions and different races putting aside their prejudices to get together to discuss literature. To me, this idea seemed to be fraught with pitfalls that would ultimately lead to it’s failure.

As I read this book I was surprised to read the responses of the inmates to the various books they read. Some of the reactions were insightful and intelligent.

I understand the goal of the prison book clubs is to foster empathy in the inmates through the reading of literary fiction. I was surprised to find that many of the books that were chosen were books that I had also read and enjoyed. Before reading “The Prison Book Club” I had a hard time picturing hardened criminals sitting together to discuss books in an intelligent and meaningful way. Now that I have finished reading the book, I am able to admit that it was my preconceptions that had skewed my view of what a prison book club would be like. This book has shattered those preconceptions and opened my eyes to the possibility that something as simple as reading and discussing a book can have a profound effect on those who are incarcerated.

I admit that throughout the book I was waiting for something violent to happen to the author, either during the book club meetings or during her one-on-one interviews with the participants. I was pleasantly surprised that this was not the case.

I think anyone who loves a good read will enjoy and be able to relate to this book. It is also interesting to compare my own experiences while reading with those of the prisoners.

This book will open your eyes to the fact that while there are some people in jail who are probably irredeemable, that is not the case for every inmate. No matter what crime a person has committed or why they did so, these men are still people with valid opinions and who deserve a chance to enrich their lives through reading.

There is one other thing that readers will take from this gripping book: the desire to either join or start a book club of their own.

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

To find out more about this book or to preorder it before it’s release on September 22, 2015 go to:
http://penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/417551/prison-book-club#9780143194170

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Author photo obtained from www.annwalmsley.com

Author photo obtained from http://www.annwalmsley.com

Ann Walmsley is a magazine journalist whose work has appeared in The Globe and Mail and Maclean’s.

She is the recipient of four National Magazine Awards, a Canadian Business Journalism Award and two International Regional Magazine Awards.

Ann founded her first book club at age nine. She lives in Toronto with her family.

“The Prison Book Club” is her first book.

To learn more about her visit http://www.annwalmsley.com or follow her on Twitter @annpwalmsley

THE LAST SUMMER AT CHELSEA BEACH by Pam Jenoff – BOOK REVIEW

Cover image obtained from www.pamjenoff.com

Cover image obtained from http://www.pamjenoff.com


THE LAST SUMMER AT CHELSEA BEACH

Author: Pam Jenoff

Type of Book: Softcover

Length: 373 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance

ISBN: 978-0-7783-1754-8

Price: $14.95 US / $17.95 CAN

Release Date: August 2015

Publisher: Mira Books

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

* I received a free softcover copy of this book through the Goodreads Giveaway program. A review was not a requirement of receiving the book, but I love receiving free books and I think reviews are important to both writers and to potential readers.

This book is set in America, both before, and during the Second World War.

It begins in 1941 when seventeen year old Adelia Monteforte is taken from her home in fascist Italy by her mother and placed aboard a ship headed to the USA. Adelia had no idea she was going and had no possessions with her. Also, despite her pleading, her parents do not accompany her on the journey.

She was met at the port in Philadelphia by an Aunt and Uncle she had never met before. They took her into their home despite the fact that they had no children of their own.

Her Aunt and Uncle spent summers at the shore and Adelia had no choice but to go with them.

It is at this ‘summer home’ that she meets the Connally family. She didn’t know it at their first meeting, but knowing the Connally family changes her life forever.

Adelia falls in love at first sight with Charlie Connally. Charlie was the oldest of the four Irish-Catholic boys. Adelia is an immigrant Italian whose family is Jewish. Obviously, Addie and Charlie would make a unique couple, but their religious differences don’t seem to matter at all.

Just when Charlie and Addie seem to have their futures together all figured out, tragedy strikes and everything changes.

Addie is grief-stricken and does the only thing she can think of; she flees. She heads to Washington and works as a typist for the newspaper. But, when her past shows up in Washington she runs away again – this time she ends up in war-torn London, England where she lands an amazing job at a highly regarded newspaper.

It is in London that Addie begins to realize that running away did not solve anything. She finds herself torn between the love of two terrific men.

Eventually, she realizes that, in order to find herself, she needs to return home.

I had expected this book to be like dozens of other war-time romance novels and I thought I knew the plot before I even started reading. However, this book is not like other books of the same genre – in a very good way!

I found myself drawn into the lives of Addie and the Connally boys immediately. The author has a gift for making the characters come alive for the readers.

This book is set in the early 1940s and it is the perfect setting for this story.

THE LAST SUMMER AT CHELSEA BEACH is a book that readers will literally be unable to put down. This book is so well written that I was completely engrossed in the story. In fact, when tragedy strikes I actually got teary-eyed and that does not happen to me normally.

A writer that can make a reader cry, laugh and hope throughout the course of the story is a very talented author. Kudos go to author Pam Jenoff for achieving this rare feat.

I also like the fact that included at the back of the book are two pages of “Questions for Discussion.” This will give Book Clubs a starting point for their discussions.

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
(Information and photo obtained from http://www.pamjenoff.com)

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Pam Jenoff was born in Maryland and raised outside Philadelphia. She attended George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and Cambridge University in England. She received her master’s in history from Cambridge, and afterwards accepted an appointment as Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Army. The position provided a unique opportunity to witness and participate in operations at the most senior levels of government, including helping the families of the Pan Am Flight 103 victims secure their memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, observing recovery efforts at the site of the Oklahoma City bombing and attending ceremonies to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of World War II.

Following her work at the Pentagon, Pam began work at the State Department. In 1996 she was assigned to the U.S. Consulate in Krakow, Poland. It was during this period that Pam developed her expertise in Polish-Jewish relations and the Holocaust. Working on matters such as preservation of Auschwitz and the restitution of Jewish property in Poland, Pam developed close relations with the surviving Jewish community.

Pam left the Foreign Service in 1998 to attend law school and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. She worked for several years as a labor and employment attorney in Philadelphia and now teaches law school at Rutgers.

Pam is the author of The Kommandant’s Girl, which was an international bestseller and nominated for a Quill award, as well as The Winter Guest, The Diplomat’s Wife, The Ambassador’s Daughter, Almost Home, A Hidden Affair and The Things We Cherished. She also authored a short story in the anthology Grand Central: Original Postwar Stories of Love and Reunion. She lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and three children.

To find out more visit http://www.pamjenoff.com

DEVIL IN SNAKESKINS by Andy Henion – BOOK REVIEW

All photos obtained from http://andywritesstuff.blogspot.ca

All photos obtained from http://andywritesstuff.blogspot.ca


THE DEVIL IN SNAKESKINS: A Surreal Post-Apocalyptic Western

Author: Andy Henion

Type of Book: Softcover

Length: 103 pages

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Western

Release Date: May 20, 2015

Publisher: Beat to A Pulp Press

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Cover image obtained from http://andywritesstuff.blogspot.ca

Cover image obtained from http://andywritesstuff.blogspot.ca

This book is in a word: UNIQUE.

I won a softcover copy of this book through Goodreads and I am thrilled that I did.

I love the look of the cover of this book. At first glance all you see is the shadow of a man with a cowboy hat and a gun, but once you look again you realize there is much more to it.

“The Devil in Snakeskins” is set in the Western part of what was once California, USA. It is set many, many years into the future. Civilization as we know it has ceased to exist. “The Nuke Era” has passed into memory and a plague has wiped out much of the remaining population. In fact, the plague still seems to show up randomly and often.

People live in a way that is very similar to what we think of as the ‘Wild West.’ The Professor lives surrounded by books on a ranch way out in the middle of nowhere. He is an oddity. Most people of the post-nuke era can’t read, and books are used mostly for target practice. (This is horrifying to someone like me who is an avid reader.)

You would think that someone named “The Professor” would be meek and unassuming, maybe even a bit of a wimp. Not this professor. He is a renowned quick-draw gunslinger who has killed more men than he can remember.

One day while writing in his journals, he sees a man on a horse approaching and this seemingly small event sets off a chain reaction that has far-reaching consequences, not only for The Professor, but for many others as well.

I must warn potential readers that if you are squeamish, this might not be the book for you. The Professor is a curious man and he enjoys autopsying those he kills. He is fascinated by the wonders of the human body and mind, and in particular, he is fascinated by the many ways in which people die. He has many journals full of his observations about death. He is fascinated by the subject and is not just interested in the deaths caused by his gun. Death by poison, death by hanging and more, it all attracts his interest.

This book is not for those who are looking for a sanitized version of what life would be like after the apocalypse. This book is so interesting because it is down-and-dirty. There are sex scenes that can and will offend some people, but I feel that the author did a great job even with those scenes. The Wild West of the past was not a time of women’s rights, or a time known for law and order. Crimes that are wholly unacceptable today were commonplace and justice often did not exist. The guy with the gun had all the power and victims had no way of seeking justice except with a gun of their own.

I think Andy Henion has done a truly phenomenal job of creating his post-apocalyptic world.

In 1924, George Santayana, the author of “The Life of Reason or The Phases of Human Progress: Reason in Common Sense” wrote that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The fact that very few people read in Andy Henion’s post-apocalyptic world can be seen as an example of the truth of this statement.

The character building in this book is terrific. Readers start out seeing “The Professor” as nothing more than a cold-blooded killer, but as the story goes on, readers learn more about him and his past.

This could be considered a novella due to it’s length, but the story is so full of detail that it is just as satisfying as a full length novel.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I would love to read more stories set in this world. I am hopeful that the author will be writing more books soon. I can easily see this becoming a series of books and once people start to find out about “The Devil in Snakeskins” I believe that Andy Henion’s fan base will grow exponentially.

I enthusiastically rate this book as 5 out of 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Andy Henion is a writer of stories. He is a Lover of noir, humor, lyrical gold, literary fiction with punch.

He was raised in northern Michigan and is a former newspaper reporter and editor turned media relations manager. He is both a husband and a father and was born the day before Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon.

His fiction has been shortlisted for Best American Mystery Stories 2014 and the Derringer Award, and nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Read his Tweets at @Henionwrites

To learn more visit http://andywritesstuff.blogspot.ca

LETTERS FROM THE APOCALYPSE by Blake Pitcher – BOOK REVIEW

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LETTERS FROM THE APOCALYPSE

Author: Blake Pitcher

Type of Book: Softcover

Length: 157 pages

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Fiction

Release Date: December 12, 2014

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I literally read this book in one day. Once I started reading I was immediately engaged in the story.

Roger is a technical writer on a work trip to Texas when the First Apocalypse hits.

His wife, Esther, is back at their home in a small town located in northern New York state.

With no phones, no internet access and absolutely no way to communicate, Roger isn’t even sure that Esther is still alive.

So, judging by what I just wrote, you would expect the story to be about Roger’s determination and his harrowing journey against the odds that eventually leads to the couple being reunited. Right?

Wrong!

This story does not follow the path of typical post-apocalyptic books. It is completely different which is one of the things I enjoyed most about it.

In fact, this story spans quite a few years which should not be possible in such a short book, but somehow Blake Pitcher pulls it off seamlessly.

I found the fact that no one really knew for sure what had caused the sun to change to be much more realistic than other books where the characters know the cause immediately. If all communication is down how could anyone obtain concrete details? Not knowing and having many theories pop up is a much more realistic scenario.

I also really liked the ending. It could be left like that and remain a stand-alone book, or it can be expanded upon and turn into a second and even potentially a third novel. It will be interesting to see where the author decides to go with it. I, for one, am hoping that he continues the story with at least a second book.

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

FAVORITE QUOTES:

“My handwriting is atrocious. I blame computers.”

“I don’t think paranoia exists anymore…Or if it does, it goes by the name ‘reason’.”

* I won an autographed softcover copy of this book from Goodreads.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Blake Pitcher is also the author of “Cigarette Angel & Other Stories” as well as, “Six Deep at The Sink.”

To connect with Blake Pitcher visit http://www.writing.blakepitcher.com
On Facebook: Blake Pitcher Writes
On Twitter: @blake_p