Saturday, May 31, 2014

Review: The Whispering by: L. Filloon

Title: The Whispering
Author: L. Filloon
Publisher: Kindle Edition
Series: The Velesi Trilogy #3
Pages: 330
Format: ebook
Source: Author Request

Description:

Tharin and Lily find themselves back in Pathen in search of Julia and the key to Eirrell, but old foes and new ones are in close pursuit. Adding to their plight, all doorways to Velesi have been closed.

Forced to discover a way back to their realm, the group finds help from new friends and those who once stood against them are now allies. To make matters worse, a betrayal causes the door to the UnderRealm to open, allowing demons and monsters once imprisoned to roam the realm freely.

Time is of the essence as there are only two Ancients left while Ka grows weaker, struggling to hold the realm together. It is up to Tharin and Lily to find the doorway to Eirrell, call the Unnamed Sidhe and save Velesi.

Journey back to Velesi and join Tharin, Lily, Tolan, Julia, Alorn, Mellis, Ziri and Cessa to save the realm and maybe have a wedding...or two, but then again, it is Velesi, so...maybe not.

My Thoughts:

Going back to this series for me I took too long I'm sure to get back to Velesi mainly because I know this is the last in this trilogy and I loved the characters so much that I wanted to stay with them longer.  When we left our friends, cause let's face it by this point they remind me of friends in a weird magical way Lily had left to find Julia after having her heart broken by Tharin finding him in a compromising position.  Tolan and Tharin went chasing after Lily to find out what happened and explain his situation to her.

Out in the world Lily is faced with some severe issues like the Ange after her.  Threating to hurt anyone she cares about it.  Lily gets to Julia just in time before "the bad guys" get her.  Not long after that the group is reunited and they set out to get back to Velesi with some minor complications to work through.

Julia has her issues with things she has been told about Tolan which takes some working out between the two of them.  Lily has more issues with Tharian's situation and has trouble with his reasoning.  Meanwhile something is trying to keep the gang out of Velesi which makes them more determined to get into Velesi to see how bad it is there.

There is also the big battle to save Velesi in the end, good versus evil and of course who will come on top I was pleased with and I loved how it wrapped things up I just wish there was more to read about with this trilogy so it's bittersweet and I will miss all the characters from these books.  Such a great story definitely worth reading again and again!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Review: Murder is Academic by: Lesley A. Diehl



Title: Murder is Academic
Author: Lesley A. Diehl
Publisher:  Lesley A. Diehl
Pages: 223
Series: Laura Murphy Mysteries #1
Format: ebook
Source: Cozy Book Tour

Description:

Laura Murphy, psychology professor, thinks there’s nothing she likes better than coffee and donuts on a summer morning until she says yes to dinner with a Canadian biker and finds herself and her date suspects in the murder of her college’s president. Laura’s friend, the detective assigned the case, asks her to help him find out who on the small upstate New York college campus may be a killer.  The murder appears to be wrapped up in some unsavory happenings on the lake where Laura lives.  A fish kill and raw sewage seeping into the water along with the apparent drowning suicide of a faculty member complicate the hunt for the killer.  And then things become personal.  The killer makes a threatening phone call to Laura. With a tornado bearing down on the area and the killer intent upon silencing her, Laura’s sleuthing work may come too late to save her and her biker from a watery grave.

My Thoughts: 

Laura and her friend Annie are out in the canoe when they encounter a dead body.  It doesn't take long to figure out with the help of Laura's friends and the police that the dead man was the College president Talbot.  Who seemed to be hiding something.  This book was a who had the most to hide by the death in the president and from there it also leads to a apparent suicide not to mention that Talbot's house being burned down in hopes to hide something that someone doesn't want out.

In this book we meet Laura and Annie, their friend at the police station Der, Guy who is doing construction in the summer who lives in Canada.  I really loved this story there was so much going on and so many possibilities I really was wondering all the way to the end who did it and the surprise ending was great!  I can't wait to read more about Laura Murphy and her friends!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Review: The Whole Enchilada by: Diane Mott Davidson

Title: The Whole Enchilada
Author: Diane Mott Davidson
Publisher: Avon
Series: A Goldy Bear Culinary Mystery #17
Pages: 436
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher Request
Purchase: Harper | Amazon | Tattered Cover Bookstore

Description:

Goldy Schulz knows her food is to die for, but she never expects one of her best friends to actually keel over when she's leaving a birthday party Goldy has catered. At first, everyone assumes that all the fun and excitement of the party, not to mention the rich fare, did her in.

But what looks like a coronary turns out to be a generous serving of cold-blooded murder. And the clever culprit is just getting cooking.

When a colleague—a woman who resembles Goldy—is stabbed, and Goldy is attacked outside her house, it becomes clear that the popular caterer is the main course on a killer menu. With time running out, Goldy must roll up her sleeves, sharpen her knives, and make a meal out of a devious murderer, before that killer can serve her up cold.

My Thoughts:

In this book which I received from HarperCollins for a honest and fair review Thank you to Kaitlyn Kennedy for this great book.  This is the first book I've read by Diane Mott Davidson and she definitely writes different then typical 'cozy mysteries' in this book we meet Goldy who is getting ready for a birthday party for her son Arch and his friend Drew who have grown up around each other since they were born.  We also meet a slew of colorful characters like Julian the live in cook who helps with Goldy's catering business.

At the party we catch up with Holly and Drew and see that something is going on with Holly when some uninvited guests show up Holly's ex-husband George and his new wife, which creates some tension as Holly didn't invite them.  We also meet a mystery man who wants something from Holly but what it is we don't at this point.  Towards the end of the party as Holly and Drew were leaving something happened leaving Holly dead on the ground, and Goldy and Marla are shaken by the realization their friend is dead and has left more questions about what is up with Holly than they thought they knew, like what happened to her money?, why she left Denver to move back in a short time?.

Goldy doesn't seem to have better luck when she takes Drew to pack up somethings at his house as she has an accident on their porch that lands her in the lake, a very cold lake and scrapes her leg, who is out to kill Holly or Drew and why?  Was it a fight between Holly and Drew?  Was it one of Holly's ex-boyfriends?  What oh what is going on with Holly and will anyone ever figure it out?

There really are no shortage of possible murderers, there are countless theories thrown around in this book but when the pressure is on it's up to Marla, Tom and Goldy to figured it out before Goldy becomes the next victim and the one holding all the answers was in a coma in the hospital.

I really enjoyed this story with all the complexity of trying to figure out who was out to harm Goldy and who killed Holly and the countless secrets Holly carried with her.  I also enjoyed what happened with Neil and Ophelia.  It was such a great and fulfilling story I will definitely have to check out her others books as this one I couldn't put it down.  Great job Ms. Davidson!



Review: A Photographic Death by: Judi Culbertson

Title: A Photographic Death
Author: Judi Culbertson
Publisher: Harper
Series: A Delhi Laine Mystery
Format: paperback ARC
Source: Publisher Request

Description:

Nineteen years ago, Delhi Laine's two-year-old daughter disappeared. After a frantic but inconclusive search, authorities determined that she must have drowned, her body washed away from the picturesque English park in which she had been playing.

Delhi's heart has never healed, yet her family has since soldiered on. But when a mysterious letter arrives containing the ominous words Your daughter did not drown, their lives are once again thrown into turmoil. With her family torn between fighting for the past and protecting the future, Delhi is caught in the middle. For a mother, the choice to find her daughter seems easy. But for a family left fractured by the mistakes of the past, the consequences, and the reality, may be infinitely more costly.

My Thoughts:

This book starts out with Delhi Laine and her daughter Jane to a hypnotist who helps Jane retrieve memories from her childhood in England when her younger sister Caitlin was "drowned in a river".  What they find is so much more.  It brings bother Delhi and Jane to England to search for the answers they are owed about young Caitlin's life and what happened to her.  

From England they find out more about why Caitlin was kidnapped and then they are back home in the states and find out what happened to Caitlin was happening by those nearest to them.  What was the point of Caitlin's death?  Was it to keep a mother on a short leash?  Or was it to take something that belonged to someone else that they didn't deserve?

Whatever the reason it was a great ride to go on with the ups and downs of the adventure and seeing how Caitlin's twin sister Hannah handled everything.  Also watching to see if this would rip the family apart permanently or repair the damage they had gone through!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Book Spotlight The Whole Enchilada by: Diane Mott Davidson

Title: The Whole Enchilada
Author: Diane Mott Davidson
Publisher: Avon
Series: A Goldy Bear Culinary Mystery #17
Pages: 436
Purchase: Harper | Amazon | Tattered Cover Bookstore

Brief Synopsis:

Goldy Schulz knows her food is to die for, but she never expects one of her best friends to actually keel over when she's leaving a birthday party Goldy has catered. At first, everyone assumes that all the fun and excitement of the party, not to mention the rich fare, did her in.

But what looks like a coronary turns out to be a generous serving of cold-blooded murder. And the clever culprit is just getting cooking.

When a colleague—a woman who resembles Goldy—is stabbed, and Goldy is attacked outside her house, it becomes clear that the popular caterer is the main course on a killer menu. With time running out, Goldy must roll up her sleeves, sharpen her knives, and make a meal out of a devious murderer, before that killer can serve her up cold.


Book Series In Order: 

Catering To Nobody
Dying for Chocolate 
The Cereal Murders 
The Last Suppers 
Killer Pancake 
The Main Corpse 
The Grilling Season 
Prime Cut 
Tough Cookie 
Sticks and Scones 
Chopping Spree 
Double Shot 
Dark Tort 
Sweet Revenge
Fatally Flaky 
Crunch Time 
The Whole Enchilada

Review: Fifty Shades of Greyhound by: Sparkle Abbey


Title: Fifty Shades of Greyhound
Author: Sparkle Abbey
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books
Pages: 195
Series: Pampered Pets Mystery #5
Format: Kindle ebook 
Source: Cozy Book Tours

Description:

It was a killer party. 

Caro Lamont, Laguna Beach's favorite pet therapist, is thrilled to support the elite fundraising gala for Greys Matter, a SoCal greyhound rescue group. All the guests in the couture-attired crowd are clad in varying shades of grey, the champagne and donations are flowing, and there are fifty gorgeous greyhounds in attendance. But before the evening ends, a stranger in their midst is dead. 

Caro sets out to help the rescue group find the identity of the mystery guest but soon finds herself in the doghouse with homicide detective, Judd Malone--oh, and federal agent, John Milner. When there's a second death, Caro is convinced she's on the track of someone who wants a secret to stay buried, but it's a race to see whether Caro can uncover the truth before the killer decides she's next.

My Thoughts:

At a local gala all about Greyhounds someone ends up meeting a demise,  falling into Caro Lamont who wants to know when she can get her broach back and she ends trying to figure out who killed the stranger to the gala.  Also after being approached by Blanche the women she worked with at the gala she is sent to check on the other greyhounds that witnessed the murder to see how the animals present at the gala are dealing with the trauma.

The bigger question is who released a bunny into a gala?  And who is the mysterious man who winds up dead?  This book was full of mystery and adventure and had me wanting to read the previous books in the series.  I loved the theme with a pet therapist gave you ideas of what can ail some dogs.  And how dog parents can sometimes push their anxieties on to their animals!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Review: Saved By The Belles by: Beth Albright

Title: Saved By The Belles
Author: Beth Albright
Publisher: Magnolia Press
Series: The Sassy Belles
Pages: 136
Format: Nook e-book
Source: Purchase

Description:

Life is finally wonderful for Tuscaloosa’s Blake O’Hara Heart: a rekindled love affair with her high school sweetheart and a precious new baby on the way. But when she gets an unexpected call from Harry Heart, her soon to be ex-husband, Blake’s new sweet world is turned upside down. Harry vows his love – but soon Blake discovers he is running from a sex scandal—one that could ruin Harry, the freshman senator from Alabama, and bring down Blake right along with him. 

Blake is in a fix so she does what any southern woman would do: she rounds up her Sassy Belle sisters to try to prove Harry’s innocence. Blake, Vivi and Dallas band together to fix this scandal and get that man back to Washington if it’s the last thing they do. But Blake is running out of time. Her new baby is waiting for no one as Harry’s new political career is hanging in the balance. 

From a trailer-park brothel to the high-society neighborhoods of Tuscaloosa, y’all grab your best girlfriends and some sweet tea and join Blake and her girls on this twisted tale of intrigue and hilarity, southern-style.

My Thoughts:

In this book we find a very pregnant Blake O'Hara Heart getting ready to have her baby with her boyfriend Sonny but when Blake gets a call from her soon to be ex-husband Harry she finds her world about to be turned upside down.  Harry is in trouble and is coming home to see Blake.  Which causes all sorts of problems for the The Sassy Belles to figure out.  Harry's being tangled in a scandal with his intern named Jessica, funny thing is Blake believes him when he says he's being set up now it's up to Dallas, Vivi and Blake to figure out what is going on?

This was a great novella with all the fun and sassiness we have come to expect from Beth Albright.  She has an incredible knack to write about southern Belles which reminds me of Steel Magnolias I loved the relationship these women have.  Definitely a series I could read time and time again!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Review: Death Runs Adrift by: Karen MacInerney




Title: Death Runs Adrift
Author: Karen MacInerney
Publisher: Midnight Ink 
Pages: 268
Series: The Gray Whale Inn Mysteries #6
Format: ebook ARC
Source: NetGalley Cozy Book Tour

Description:

With her wedding plans in place and her future mother-in-law settling in at the Gray Whale Inn, it’s a rare patch of smooth sailing for innkeeper Natalie Barnes. Even Natalie’s guests—a mystery writer and a woman researching her grandfather’s decades-old disappearance from Cranberry Island—are interesting and enjoyable, adding a lively element to the dinner conversations.

But while picking berries for her Lemon Blueberry Pudding Cake, Natalie makes a ghastly discovery — a dead man in a skiff adrift on the waves. With people she cares about on the hook for murder, Natalie must act quickly to bail out her friends and catch the killer.

My Thoughts:

Natalie is up to her eyes in murder when Derek ends up dead in the water and it's up to Natalie to find out what is happening on her little island and who is doing things they shouldn't be. Along with helping her guests solve an old disappearance to find out what happened to one of her guest's grandfather.

This book had so much going on between drug smuggling, murder, and a whole lot of mystery with her guests at the Inn at times it felt like Natalie wasn't making any progress.  I really enjoyed this series it's a great adventure to go on and one you feel like going back to when there is a new book to read.

Guest Post: Lily of The Valley by: Jim and Joyce Lavene



Lily of the Valley

The lily of the valley plant is tiny, delicate, and lovely, yet we chose to use it as a poison plant in our new novel, Lethal Lily. Despite its beauty, lily of the valley can be deadly.
May claims the right to be the home of this little flower. The plant signifies happiness, purity, and renewal. It is frequently used in bridal bouquets. The meaning in the language of flowers is “you complete me’. The plant has always been prized as a medicinal for heart problems. As in the case of most poisonous plants, what can make you healthy can also be lethal in the wrong doses.
Various parts of the world claim this pretty flower. It was first cultivated in 1420, and is the national flower for Finland. It is also seen in the Norwegian coat of arms. In France, it is traditional to give small bouquets of lily of the valley on May Day to wish loved ones good luck.
An ancient myth from England claims the lilies came from an epic battle between a saint and a dragon. Where the saint’s blood was spilled, lilies of the valley sprang up from the earth.
How toxic is the pretty lily of the valley?
It is extremely poisonous. The poison works on the heart and nervous system causing alterations in cardiac rhythm, and possible death. Blurry vision, diarrhea, vomiting, and disorientation can accompany lesser doses. 
The plant is widespread in the wild across much of the world, and is a popular garden plant – easy to grow and so sweet to the senses.  

You might have the plant growing in your yard right now! Definitely not something you want to eat!


Monday, May 19, 2014

Review - Days of Blood and Starlight by: Laini Taylor

Title: Days of Blood and Starlight
Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 406
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2
Format: E-book
Source: Personal purchase


Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.


This is not that world.

Art student and monster's apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

My thoughts:

I'd read the first book, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, in 2012 upon a friend's recommendation, and I was blown away by it. I was mesmerized by Laini Taylor's imagination, and her poetic writing made the book very hard to put down. Normally in trilogies second books are a bit "mehhhh" for me, mostly because they're building up to the third book. But Days of Blood and Starlight managed to stand on its own, and I can even say that I liked it even more than the first one.
Days of Blood and Starlight picks up right where Daughter of Smoke and Bone leaves off. Since Brimstone is gone, Karou can't stop at collecting teeth, she also takes on the hard task of resurrecting new bodies. Going back and forth between her current life and her life as Madrigal, she sets out to protect those she loves, including Akiva. 

This second book was quite darker than the first one. While we saw the signs of war in the first book, we find ourselves right inside it in Days of Blood and Starlight. I never liked books that solely focus on a love story; I don't like it when secondary characters are there just to be there. This is one of the many reasons why I like Taylor so much I believe-- yes, Akiva and Madrigal (aka Karou) have a love story that goes way back. There are various obstacles ahead of them because they're from two different worlds. Taylor uses the feelings between them to show power, hatred, love and several others. Akiva and Karou don't have the luxuty of rebelling and saying "we're in love, and whomever doesn't like it can just look away." They have to think about more than themselves and see the big picture.

I quite liked the fact that Taylor explored heavier subjects like genocide and gave strong messages. I feel she was successful in exploring how people separate from one another due to their differences, those who don't get excluded, how strong and powerful hate is, and how was affects everyone very deeply.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Review: Murder in Merino by: Sally Goldenbaum and Giveaway



Title: Murder in Merino
Author: Sally Goldenbaum
Publisher: Penguin
Series: Seaside Knitters #8
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback ARC
Source: Cozy Book Tour

Description:

It’s autumn in Sea Harbor, and as the tourists leave, a mysterious guest arrives. When she’s implicated in a crime, the Seaside Knitters must quickly table their knitting project and search out a motif for murder.

Fall is usually a relaxing time in Sea Harbor, but it’s turning out to be a busy season for Izzy Chambers Perry. Not only is she helping the Seaside Knitters make a magnificent throw to celebrate the fortieth wedding anniversary of her aunt and uncle, but she and her husband are finally selling the cottage she lived in before she got married and had a darling baby girl. To Izzy’s surprise, newcomer Julia Ainsley seems determined to buy the home—although she’s never set foot inside.

But on the day of the open house, things take a dark turn. A body is uncovered in the cottage’s backyard. When the police find Julia’s name and phone number in the victim’s pocket, this slender thread of evidence makes her a person of interest. Soon the spotlight of suspicion widens to include old friends and town leaders as a tragic happening, long buried in the sleepy seaside town, is slowly brought to the surface.

Before the joyful anniversary celebration can be realized, the Seaside Knitters must work to unravel the real reason Julia Ainsley has come to their town—and the tangled and troubled ties from the past that bind friends and townsfolk together.

My Thoughts:

This book was sent to me as part of a book tour, all opinions are my own.  With that said this book starts out with Nell and her husband working on planning a low key anniversary but people in Sea Harbor seem to have big plans for the happy couple.  As much as Nell would like to protest she knows that isn't possible.  How out of control will this anniversary be?

Jules Ainsley is new in town and everyone seems determined to find out what she is all about?  She spends her days running through Sea Harbor, is she really just a running junkie or is she up to something, especially when she keeps getting spotted with Danny the boyfriend of Cass?  To make it even more bizarre Jules wants Izzy's old house prior to her marriage with Sam, she stakes an interest in the house, but how can you buy a house sight unseen?

Before Julia Ainsley can buy the house local bartender Jeffreey Maera winds up dead in Izzy's old house by the shed with only Julia's phone number in his pocket did the new visitor have something to do with his death?  Who hated Jeffrey so much they decided to kill him?  Was it old waitstaff that Jeffrey fired?  Or his business partner that he argued with a few days before?  Or was it someone from Jeffrey's past?  And what is Julia's connection to Jeffrey's past?

What an incredible story it was just so addicting I couldn't stop until I knew what laid in the past with Julia's parents and who her father was so incredible.  I recommend getting this book you won't be disappointed at all!  Can't wait to see what Ms. Goldenbaum sews up for us next!

Reply in comments to win a copy of this great book contest open to USA residents.  Include your email in your comments

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Review: Mrs. Peregrines Home For Peculiar Children by: Ransom Riggs

Title: Mrs. Peregrines Home For Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Publisher: Quirk Books
Series: Miss Peregrine Peculiar Children #1
Pages: 232
Format: ebook
Source: Purchase

Description:


A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

My Thoughts: 

Everything about this book was Peculiar from the story Jacob's grandfather tries to help to the vintage style pictures.  

When Jacob finds his father dead and faces a monster who killed him something inside Jacob is awakened unfortunately no one believes him and thinks he suffered damage seeing his grandfather die.  On the recommendation of his therapist Jacob convinces his father that visiting the orphanage that his grandfather grew up on might help Jacob deal with the death.

When Jacob gets there he finds the orphanage which is falling apart.   Jacob has a hard time picturing what this place looked like in it's prime.  What I found amazing was the pictures they are so weird and eerie.  I loved following Jacob on the search for his grandfather Abe's story of the people he spent time with and how Jacob was able to time travel back to 1940 to visit the people he knew and worked with.  

Living in the time loop of 1940 was like being in a different world and one that comes crashing down on Jacob and his new found friends.  He will have to work with them to protect their world before it comes crashing to a halt!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Guest Post: Pressed Pennies by: Steven Manchester

Brief Synopsis:

Rick and Abby grew up together, became best friends, and ultimately fell in love. Circumstance tore them apart in their early teens, though, and they went on to lives less idyllic than they dreamed about in those early days. Rick has had a very successful career, but his marriage flat-lined. Abby has a magical daughter, Paige, but Paige's father nearly destroyed Abby's spirit.

Now fate has thrown Rick and Abby together again. In their early thirties, they are more world-weary than they were as kids. But their relationship still shimmers, and they're hungry to make up for lost time. However, Paige, now nine, is not nearly as enthusiastic. She's very protective of the life she's made with her mother and not open to the duo becoming a trio. Meanwhile, Rick has very little experience dealing with kids and doesn't know how to handle Paige. This leaves Abby caught between the two people who matter the most to her. What happens when the life you've dreamed of remains just inches from your grasp?

Pressed Pennies is a nuanced, intensely romantic, deeply heartfelt story of love it its many incarnations, relationships in their many guises, and family in its many meanings. It is the most accomplished and moving novel yet from a truly great storyteller of the heart.

Author Bio:  Steven Manchester is the author of The Rockin' Chair, as well as the #1 best seller, Twelve Months (2013 San Francisco, DIY & New England Book Festivals award winner). He is also the author of A Christmas Wish (Kindle exclusive), Goodnight, Brian (2013 Southern California Book Festival award winner), and Pressed Pennies (due out May 2014). His work has appeared on NBC's Today Show, CBS's The Early Show, CNN's American Morning and BET's Nightly News. Three of Steven's short stories were selected "101 Best" for Chicken Soup for the Soul series. When not spending time with his beautiful wife, Paula, or his four children, this Massachusetts author is promoting his works or writing.

Visit: www.StevenManchester.com
http://www.StevenManchester.com  
http://www.facebook.com/#!/AuthorStevenManchester

Book Availability:
Paperback & Kindle: Purchase LINKS
Nook & Paperback: Purchase LINKS

Monday, May 12, 2014

Book Spotlight: The Blonde by: Anna Godbersen

Book Spotlight:

The Blonde
A Novel
By Anna Godbersen
Published by Weinstein Books
Hardcover: 400 pages
May 13, 2014; $26.00 US/$29.00 CAN; 9781602862227
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Description

At the height of the cold war, Marilyn Monroe was the most famous woman in the world, but what if she was also a secret soviet spy? 

In 1948, a young, unknown Norma Jeane Baker meets a mysterious man in Los Angeles who transforms her into Marilyn Monroe the star. Twelve years later, he comes back for his repayment, and Marilyn is given her first assignment from the KGB: Uncover something about JFK that no one else knows.

But a simple job turns complicated when Marilyn falls in love with the bright young president, and learns of plans to assassinate Kennedy. More than anything, Marilyn wants to escape       her Soviet handlers and save her love -- and herself. Desperate, ruthless, and brilliant, what she does next will leave readers reeling.

From New York Times bestselling author Anna Godbersen comes a whip-smart reimagining of the life of Marilyn Monroe, set in a world of silver screen glamour and political intrigue. At once a crackling portrayal of Old Hollywood, an intimate portrait of the larger-than-life star, and a cat-and-mouse thriller, The Blonde is history rewritten as it could have -- and might have -- been.

Author Bio 
Anna Godbersen, author of The Blonde, is the New York Times bestselling author of The Luxe and Bright Young Things. Anna grew up in Berkeley, California, graduated from Barnard College, and lives and writes in Brooklyn, New York.

Reviews
"Some like it hot, but The Blonde by Anna Godbersen is platinum-hot. From the wicked first chapter to the final outrageous twist, this extraordinarily vivid and totally unforgettable novel is on fire. Or . . . is it a novel? I was spellbound."
-- Douglas Preston, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Monster of Florence
"Daringly inventive and sumptuously sexy and thrilling, The Blonde gets readers inside Marilyn Monroe's head -- a fascinating, dark, inviting, and complex place. Only Anna Godbersen is this wildly imaginative and richly descriptive; her natural knack for capturing the mood of a historical moment is nothing less than uncanny."
-- Emily Gould, author of Friendship

"Anna Godbersen has dared to reinvent the history of Marilyn Monroe, breaking all literary rules. The tale she spins is astonishingly seductive. I could not stop turning the pages and contemplating, 'Could any of this be true? Was the Norma Jean-to-Marilyn my father knew so well a fictitious character leading a double life?'"
-- Susan Bernard, author of Marilyn: Intimate Exposures



Sunday, May 11, 2014

Review - By Nightfall by: Michael Cunningham

Title: By Nightfall
Author: Michael Cunningham
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 238
Format: Paperback
Source: Turkish translation received from publisher

Description:

Peter and Rebecca Harris: mid-forties denizens of Manhattan’s SoHo, nearing the apogee of committed careers in the arts—he a dealer, she an editor. With a spacious loft, a college-age daughter in Boston, and lively friends, they are admirable, enviable contemporary urbanites with every reason, it seems, to be happy. Then Rebecca’s much younger look-alike brother, Ethan (known in thefamily as Mizzy, “the mistake”), shows up for a visit. A beautiful, beguiling twenty-three-year-old with a history of drug problems, Mizzy is wayward, at loose ends, looking for direction. And in his presence, Peter finds himself questioning his artists, their work, his career—the entire world he has so carefully constructed.

Like his legendary, Pulitzer Prize–winning novel, The Hours, Michael Cunningham’s masterly new novel is a heartbreaking look at the way we live now. Full of shocks and aftershocks, it makes us think and feel deeply about the uses and meaning of beauty and the place of love in our lives.

My thoughts:

My first meeting with Michael Cunningham was with The Hours; I loved both the book and the movie. I've been wanting to read the rest of his books ever since, and when I found out they were translated into Turkish by a publisher I'm cooperating with, I couldn't miss the chance. By Nightfall's main characters are a middle-aged couple: Peter and Rebecca Harris. When viewed from the outside, they have a lifestyle that everyone would want. Within themselves, they're not too bad either; just going through things that I'm guessing middle-aged couple all go through. They don't really have any "real" problems. Except for Rebecca's 23-year-old brother "Mizzy," of course...

When Mizzy, aka Ethan, comes to stay with the couple, things start going down. Mizzy is handsome, attractive, not to be trusted, a previous drug addict and a college dropout. Upon his arrival, Peter starts to question his life and the meaning of life itself. 

Michael Cunningham's story-telling is a bit similar to Alice Munro's. He throws things in our face: the details of routine things we don't even think about, things we think about but wouldn't say out loud even if someone held a gun to our heads. These alone make him worth reading, really.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Review - Zac & Mia by: A.J. Betts

Title: Zac & Mia
Author: A.J. Betts
Publisher: HarperCollins Canada
Pages: 272
Format: E-book
Source: Personal purchase

Description:

Mia's not your typical hospital patient. Her next door neighbor Zac can hear her fighting with her mom and the nurses through their shared wall and he wishes she'd get over herself. But soon they are trading messages that evolve into a bond neither sees coming.
Apart from illness, they have little in common: she's a gorgeous girl with an entourage of perfect friends and he's a soccer-playing farm boy. In the real world, these two seventeen year-olds would have little to say to each other, but in the hospital the usual rules no longer apply.

By the time Zac is discharged, Mia is gone too, and he wonders about her. Is she okay? Is she better? He can't find out. She's left Facebook and won't answer his texts. Until the night he hears a tap at his window.

Told in alternating perspectives, Zac and Mia tracks the relationship of two ordinary teenagers in exceptional circumstances. They're both in remission, but cancer has changed everything, and normal isn't normal anymore. This is a funny and tender novel about hope, love, and courage.

My thoughts:

Zac & Mia was the April pick of the 50bookpledge, so I thought I'd give it a shot. It was suggested for readers who liked The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor and Park. Now, I haven't read Eleanor and Park, but I did read the same author's Fangirl and wasn't crazy about it. I did however read The Fault in Our Stars and loved it immensely; it didn't only take its place among my favorites instantly, but it also made me a John Green fan. And I can say that Zac & Mia is very similar to The Fault in Our Stars, but sadly it's not as good. 


Zac is a very young leukemia patient. After they perform a bone marrow transfer on him, he's staying at a tiny room at the hospital with her mother. People as well as the objects that enter the room must be sterilized first, which I'm guessing wouldn't make anyone feel good. Zac is not allowed to leave his room at all, which is even worse. So, he plays various games with his mother, watches movies and TV shows. And he chats with people online on Facebook on his iPad.

One day, a girl is set up in the room next to Zac's, and her arrival is very loud with people screaming and such. She is a cancer patient. Zac goes crazy when, on her first day, she plays Lady GaGa's "LoveGame" over and over again, very loudly. Then, he also kind of feels sorry for the girl. When he bangs against the wall, signaling at her to turn the music down, his interaction with Mia next door starts.

Some chapters are via Zac's point-of-view, which others are through Mia's. This makes it easier for the readers to see how opposite they in fact are, and how still they somehow relate to one another. They get together through their sickness, hate each other a little bit in the beginning, but then come together again. There's no denying that it's a heart-felt, cute story, but after reading John Green's work, I must admit I wasn't too impressed.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Review: Feathers: Not Just For Flying by: Melissa Stewart

Title: Feathers: Not Just For Flying
Author: Melissa Stewart
Publisher: Charlesbridge
Pages: 32
Format: Paperback
Source: School Donated to Child

Description:

Young naturalists meet sixteen birds in this elegant introduction to the many uses of feathers. A concise main text highlights how feathers are not just for flying. More curious readers are invited to explore informative sidebars, which underscore specific ways each bird uses its feathers for a variety of practical purposes. A scrapbook design showcases life-size feather illustrations.

Alexis's Thoughts: 

I liked when the ducks have feathers to swim.  I also liked the illustrations.  I wasn't too happy with the beginning but overall liked the book.


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Review - The Red Tent by: Anita Diamant

Title: The Red Tent
Author: Anita Diamant
Publisher: Pan Books
Pages:386
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal purchase

Description:

Her name is Dinah. In the Bible her fate is merely hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the verses of the Book of Genesis that recount the life of Jacob and his infamous dozen sons. "The Red Tent" is an extraordinary and engrossing tale of ancient womanhood and family honour. Told in Dinah's voice, it opens with the story of her mothers - the four wives of Jacob - each of whom embodies unique feminine traits, and concludes with Dinah's own startling and unforgettable story of betrayal, grief and love. Deeply affecting and intimate, "The Red Tent" combines outstandingly rich storytelling with an original insight into women's society in a fascinating period of early history and such is its warmth and candour, it is guaranteed to win the hearts and minds of women across the world.

'If you don't read it you'll be missing out' "Eve"

'I genuinely fell into this rich and colourful world and Dinah and Leah have stayed with me as ancestors and sisters brought to life by Anita Diamant's imaginative novel' Maureen Lipman.

My thoughts:

This book was recommended to me by a friend, whom I share very similar taste with in books. When I read the description and saw that Dinah was a character from the Bible, I asked her if my not knowing anything about the Bible would interfere with my understanding what was going on in the story. She said it wouldn't matter.

The Red Tent is mostly the story of one of Jacob's daughters, Dinah, who doesn't have a big place in the Bible. The story is told by her, and it's of the women she was surrounded by growing up and how she herself ends up finding love. On the other hand, it's the story of women in general, how they had to suffer for centuries, their place between life and death, how strong they are and the power of mother nature.

The women Dinah refers to as "my mothers"--LEah, Rachel, Zilpah and Bilhah-- are in the first chapter, and their stories are the kind of stories that will give me nightmares as well as making me even more proud to be a woman. Even though they're seen to be worthless to the point where it's okay for a man to take four wives, it's them who handle everything-- they're the ones who give birth to oh-so-valuable boys, the ones who work the lands, take care of the sick and the animals. Even though we're living in the 21st century and women do have more rights when compared to those times in the book, it's sad to see that the way they're treated still hasn't changed all that much.

I think you will like this book if the subject matter spikes your interest. Don't go thinking it's a fluffy love story just because there is indeed love in it and a lot of women. Especially the parts where Diaman describes children being born, reading about the the pain the women had to go through were very intense and rather sad. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Review: Once In A Lifetime by: Jill Shalvis

Title: Once in a Lifetime
Author: Jill Shalvis
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Series: Lucky Harbor # 9
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchase

Description:

SOMETIMES WRONG IS OH-SO-RIGHT

After a wrenching loss, Ben McDaniels tried to escape his grief by working in dangerous, war-torn places like Africa and the Middle East. Now he’s back in his hometown and face-to-face with Aubrey Wellington, the hot-as-hell woman who is trouble with a capital T. Family and friends insist she’s not the one to ease his pain, but Aubrey sparks an intense desire that gives Ben hope for the future.
Determined to right the wrongs of her past, Aubrey is working hard to make amends. But by far, the toughest challenge to her plan is sexy, brooding Ben …even though he has absolutely no idea what she’s done…

Can this unlikely couple defy the odds and win over the little town of Lucky Harbor?

My Thoughts: 

In this book we follow Ben McDaniels who has recently returned to Lucky Harbor to find his way after the loss of his wife Hannah.  What he didn't count on was falling for Aubrey Wellington.  Aubrey is everything Ben isn't.  She's fierce and determined when it matters.

Aubrey has done a lot wrong in her life and now is trying to make amends to those she has hurt, including Ben.  Some of the people she has hurt have trouble buying that she has changed her wild ways but Aubrey tries.  Aubrey has had a hard upbringing when her parents divorced and her and her sister were divided up like furniture.

I loved reading about these two and where their romance was headed.  Jill Shalvis is a phenomenal story teller.  I also loved how Lucille had the same thing happen to her that Ms. Shalvis has had happened with the grounding of Facebook!  It brought a chuckle to my face.  And I love how Lucille plays matchmaker and when need be she reminds one of the couples what they need to see the whole picture and not a particle picture!