Monday, August 31, 2015

Review: The End of Alice by: A.M. Homes

Title: The End of Alice
Author: A.M. Homes
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 270
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal purchase

Description:

The End of Alice treads the wafer-thin line between the evil and the everyday and caused a major controversy when it was first released in the US. The story centres on the correspondence of two paedophiles: one, the narrator, is a middle-aged child-killer serving his twenty-third year in prison; the other, his bland-speaking, sweet-seeming admirer, is a nineteen-year-old woman intent on seducing a young neighbourhood boy. Slowly, through these letters, the narrator's monstrous character emerges.

My thoughts:

A.M. Homes is one of my favorite authors. She usually writes about the dark side of life, and does it in a way that puts everything in front of you naked, unashamed, without thinking about the right or the wrong. She's not for everyone, but that doesn't change that fact that she's an amazing writer.

The End of Alice's subjectmatter is a pedophile called Chappy, who's in prison, and a girl who writes him letters. Chappy got in trouble because of a 12-year-old girl called Alice. The girl who writes to Chappy, on the other hand, is feeling similar things for boys younger than she and wants to make them her own. It seems like she's found the perfect penpal who'll understand what she's going through...

A stopped clock is right twice a day.

If you ask me how I ended up liking such a dark, disturbing book, the answer is "it's written by A.M. Homes." She writes so realistically that you can't help but think maybe she herself is a psycho. Also considering the fact that the narrator is a man, you might think the writer is one as well-- but she's not.

Chappy keeps having flashbacks while he's reading the girl's letters, which gives us quite a glimpseof what he's been through, the disturbing urges he has, how he can't resist them and why he's in prison. On the other hand, there is the girl who is in many ways similar to him, but she's running free out in the world. You can't help but think how unfair and relentless life is. Those who are caught are punished; and they deserve it, too. But how about those that aren't caught? Or those who are but then let go?

As you might imagine, The End of Alice has caused quite a stir both in the US and in England when it was first published. Because it's told through the eyes of a pedophile, because it's about prison sex and child rape, the book was not applauded for sure. I'm not defending any of these things, of course, but I also think it's good for people to read books like this to know what evil is and how they can fight it.

Interview with Stephen Kamiinski


Community Bookstop Interview with Stephen Kaminski

What genre do you write?

I write cozy mysteries.  Character development is strong, dialogue is heavy, and the plots are complex, but violence, amour, and bad language are inferred rather than graphic.

What type of characters do you like to write about?

The most interesting ones, of course! Most of my characters have personality flaws to make them more real.  My protagonist is a fairly down-to-earth, amateur sleuth who seems like he’s in over his head until he pieces things together.  The majority of my other characters have over-the-top personalities. 

Can you tell us what brought you to choosing that genre?

I chose that genre because dialogue-heavy writing allows the pace of the story to race along and character development to flow from characters’ words and interactions with one another, rather than from strong doses of description.  In addition, cozy mysteries are a perfect genre for the development of complicated murders in terms of motives, methods, means, red herrings, suspects, you name it—I love nothing more than twisting and turning a reader silly, but wrapping up the package so neatly at the end that everything makes complete sense.

Who influences your writing?

My writing is largely influenced by people around me.  People in my life, both now and in the past, shape my character development when it comes to personalities—both their positive and negative attributes.  I also love to people-watch and allow physical idiosyncrasies to shape the external features of my characters.

What types of books do you like?

My favorite books are mysteries by British authors.  Yes, that includes Agatha Christie, but it also extends to the likes of P.D. James, Ruth Rendell, and M.C. Beaton.  I also enjoy fiction delving into complex family structures—for example, many of such books by Ken Follett and Jeffrey Archer.  

What do you do when you’re not writing?

When I’m not writing, I’m typically shepherding around—or playing with—my daughter, working out or playing soccer, and cooking.

If you could bring three things to a deserted island, what would they be?

Assuming a magical candy-producing machine is not an option, I’d go with (1) bug repellant sunscreen, (2) seedlings for coffee bean plants, and (3) a car door so I can roll down the window when it gets hot!  

Thanks for having me!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Review: Win Me Over by: Nicole Michaels

Title: Win Me Over
Author: Nicole Michaels
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Series: Hearts and Crafts #2
Pages: 336
Format: e-book ARC
Source: St. Martin's Press Tour

Description:

WINNING ISN'T EVERYTHING

Callie Daniels is a singular sensation. She owns and operates her own bakery, contributes to a popular lifestyle blog, and is the dance team coach at a local high school. She lives by her own design and is much too busy to consider dating. Mr. Right will have to fit into her life when the time is right...

UNLESS YOU'RE PLAYING FOR KEEPS

Football coach Bennett Clark always plays by the rules. He knows that his new colleague Callie is off limits but she's so beautiful-and irritating!-that Bennett can't get her off his mind. She wants him to participate in a charity dance contest, and won't take no for an answer. Soon, what begins as a festive athletic endeavor turns into a heated flirtation on and off the dance floor. Could it be that the free-spirited Callie has finally found a way through Coach Clark's line of defense? 

My Thoughts:

In this story Callie Daniels is joining up with the local highschool for the dance team what she didn't count on was being paired up with the football coach for a local dance contest to win money towards scholarships for the seniors.  Coach Bennett Clark has been playing football coach after his career with NFL ended too soon.  The last thing he counted on was the cute new dance coach and feeling an attraction to her.  

it doesn't take long for the sparks to heat up between Callie and Bennett but is Bennetts past going to mess up his futre with Callie?  When the sparks heat up and Bennett's past coming back to haunt him he wonders if everyone bailed on him or if he pushed them away.  Can't Callie and Bennett survive, or will their heat fizzle?

I loved reading this book and meeting the characters in this story. This definitely is a great contemporary romance that leaves you wanting more.  I was hooked on it and couldn't put it down.  Such a great story and amazing friends and family.  Can't wait to see what is next from Nicole Michaels.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Review - Selected Poems by: E.E. Cummings

Title: Selected Poems
Author: E.E. Cummings
Publisher: Liveright
Pages: 208
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal purchase

Description:

The one hundred and fifty-six poems here, arranged in twelve sections and introduced by E. E. Cummings's biographer, include his most popular poems, spanning his earliest creations, his vivacious linguistic acrobatics, up to his last valedictory sonnets. Also featured are thirteen drawings, oils, and watercolors by Cummings, most of them never before published.

The selection includes most of the favorites plus many fresh and surprising examples of Cummings's several poetic styles. The corrected texts established by George J. Firmage have been used throughout.

My thoughts:

E.E. Cummings is a poet who is inspired by Picasso's abstract paintings and has tried to carry this technique to poetry. Here's what he had to say about that: "The Symbol of all Art is the Prism," he declared. "The goal is unrealism. The method is destructive. To break up the white light of objective realism into the secret glories which it contains."

Applying Cubism to poetry, Edward Estlin Cummings is also praised as a poet who taught readers how to read his poems. Selected Poems contains 156 of his poems, including the ones that have never been published before. In order for his fans to remember why they love them and for those new to him to better understand what he tries to do with his poems, the book is divided into parts including A Child's World, The Dimensions of Being Human and Love and Its Mysteries.

E.E. Cummings's poems touch the readers' brain as well as their hearts, evoking feelings you may not even know you're capable of. I was rather upset that the book didn't include my favorite, It May Not Always Be So; And I Say, but I forgave them for including I Like My Body When It's With Your

Here's a fun little trivia as well: Bj√∂rk has sung and included It May Not Always Be So; And I Say in her 2004 album Medulla:



Monday, August 24, 2015

Review - The Silver Dark Sea by: Susan Fletcher

Title: The Silver Dark Sea
Author: Susan Fletcher
Publisher: Fourth Estate
Pages: 469
Format: Paperback
Source: Received Turkish copy from Turkish publisher for review

Description:

The powerful new novel from Susan Fletcher, award-winning author of the bestselling Eve Green and Oystercatchers. A profound tale of love, loss and the lore of the sea. The islanders of Parla are still mourning the loss of one of their own. Four years since that loss, and a man - un-named, unclothed - is washed onto their shores. Some say he is a mythical man from the sea - potent, kind and beautiful; others suspect him. For the bereft Maggie, this stranger brings love back to the isle. But as the days pass he changes every one of them - and the time comes for his story to be told...Tender, lyrical and redemptive, The Silver Dark Sea is the dazzling new novel from the author of Eve Green (winner of Whitbred First Novel award) and Witch Light. It is a story about what life can give and take from us, when we least expect it - and how love, in all its forms, is the greatest gift of all.


My thoughts:

I haven't so far read a book with the sea in its center and went "ew!" Even though The Silver Dark Sea gave me a hard time at times, Fletcher has described Scotland's Parla Island in such a lively way that when I felt the water hitting my face and touching my feet, I went into a state of refreshment. I'm already obsessed with living on an island, and I found myself thinking the entire time "take me to Parla; NOW!"

If you ask, "is there nothing else but sea in the book?" well, of course there is. There's a woman whose husband got lost when he jumped into the water to save someone, a mother who doesn't comprehend how his son got lost and a stranger that appears on the island out of the blue. And this stranger reveals to the reader, not the characters in the book, all the secrets of the islanders. There is love, family, unrequited love and adventures. When you remember that the population isn't that large on an island, you can imagine the kind of shenanigans that await!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Review - Ghost Town by: Patrick McGrath

Title: Ghost Town: Tales of Manhattan Then and Now
Author: Patrick McGrath
Publisher: Bloomsbury UK
Pages: 256
Format: Paperback
Source: Received Turkish copy from Turkish publisher for review

Description:

A man is haunted by the memory of his mother standing under a gibbet with a rope round her neck. It is the American War of Independence, and having defied the British forces occupying New York she must pay for her revolutionary activities. But fifty years on her son harbours a festering guilt for his inadvertent part in her downfall. Then, in a nineteenth-century New York of thrusting commercial enterprise, a ruthless merchant's sensitive son is denied the love of his life through his father's prejudice against the immigrants then flooding into the city - and madness and violence ensue. Finally, a Manhattan psychiatrist tries to treat a favoured patient reeling from the destruction of the World Trade Centre. But she fails to detect the damage she herself has sustained, and suffers the consequences of her blindness.
My thoughts:

"Actually, no city is the city you see today."*

I'm sure this is true for every city. However, when it comes to a city like New York, a city that's colorful all the time as well as weird and alive, a city that never sleeps, a city that has people running all over all the time I'm sure has been through a lot. This is the kind of journey Patrick McGrath takes readers on-- we start off in the 1700's New York, move onto 19th century New York and come to an end with a 9/11 story.

Even if you've never been to New York, you know the city McGrath describes very well from movies and TV shows. However, we've never sneaked a peak at his characters since we were busy following up on others. Even though the three stores in the book take place in three different times, you understand when you read Ghost Town why New York is in the heart of many movies, books, stories and poems. Those who've been to the city will know that people, smells, colors, the old and the new, the low and the high, the clean and the dirty are all intertwined. While you smell daisies, the smell of fried chicken might poke at your nostrils. When you get a $10 doughnut and walk down in So-Ho, a toothless, dirty-handed homeless person might pull at your arm. Just 'cos you wear $1000 shoes doesn't save you from the possibility of someone puking on them on the subway.

McGrath craftfully shows the vibration of the city, how it breathes in and out, how people make their own way within all of this movement.

*Translated to English by myself from the Turkish translation; might not be 100% accurate.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Review: All The Stars by: Alexandra Psaropoulou

Title: All The Stars
Author: Alexandra Psaropoulou
Publisher:  Austin Macauley
Pages: 77
Format: e-book
Source: Author Request

Description:

"And the power bursts forth

And the vision is above

And you want to live it

To live it all."

My Review:

This book of a poem  which was great the pages are very colorful and artistically drawn I loved it I also loved the poem really get you thinking about things different things I'm sure based on whose reading it and what they are thinking about it.  I really enjoyed taking the time to read this book.  Can't wait to see what the author comes up with next!  She definitely is on to something with this impressive book of poetry.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Editorial: What does Paula have to say now??




As everyone on this site nows at a time or two I will share my thoughts on various topics.  This one is on why indie authors who write terrorist theme books try to have me review them.  Why oh why does this happen?

I like most people are fully aware of the terrorist actions happening in the world all the time.  This is why I find it wrong or weird that people write about terrorists then send it to me to review.  My guidelines are pretty specific I won't read books about terrorism or situations similar to Sandy Hook or the various movie theater shootings.

The answer should be pretty specific this stuff happens in the real world, you can't escape it.  I can't read about these topics as to my core I feel dirty or evil for reading them.  I think what is going on in the world is a travisty.  I just can't bring myself to read about these topics.

I don't condone what is going on in the world and as such I can't engage in these types of books I think it is wrong what they are doing and why and can't give a unbiased review.  For the authors who write these books I think you will find other sites are more accepting of these types of books but I just can't do it.  It goes against my beliefs and I have to have something to believe in and that is that terrorists are wrong and go about it wrong so why would I want to read books that just glorify it.

If your books are mystery as long as a child isn't murdered I can usually give a review as in CT we have Sandy Hook and then there was the Boston Bomber and the Colorado Movie Shooting.  I know I may loose some fans do to this but being the mother of five kids of various ages from 18 down to 6 they just hit too close to home.

I hope others will understand my views on this post.  If you feel I am wrong or want to share an opinion on it please feel free to comment below.  Comments attacking me based on my views will be dealt with getting their comments deleted as I want this to be a positive thing and not negative.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Review: Killer Wedding Cake by: Gayle Trent


Title: Killer Wedding Cake
Author: Gayle Trent
Publisher: Kindle Edition
Series: Daphne Martin Cake Mystery #5
Pages: 162
Format: e-book ARC
Source: Great Escapes Book Tours

Description:

Daphne Martin’s wedding to Ben Jacobs is only a couple of weeks away. An award-winning cake decorator, Daphne is busy designing their wedding cake. Her twin nephew and niece, Lucas and Leslie, are excited about being in the wedding party. And Daphne’s brother-in-law Jason is planning a bachelor party for Ben. Everything is going beautifully until Daphne’s ex-husband Todd shows up. Just released from prison after serving a sentence based on his shooting a gun at Daphne, Todd comes to Brea Ridge to profess his undying love for her. 

Despite Daphne’s attempts to make Todd leave town, he insists on hanging around to reconnect with people he used to know. When he’s found murdered, Daphne finds herself at the center of the investigation. Now she must track down Todd’s killer before she becomes the next victim. Can she still make it to the church on time?

My Thoughts:

This book follows Daphne Martin as she is getting ready to get married to Ben Jacob's right now her biggest decision is the type of cake she wants at her wedding.  As Daphne set's about making brownies and cookies she realizes her oven has died and has to borrow her neighbor's when she goes home she realizes her ex is at her house and is trying to win her back, even though she put him in jail for trying to kill her.

It doesn't take long for her ex to wind up dead and she is connected to his death but the how and why is she being dragged into this is enough to make you wonder what is up?  Did Daphne kill him?  And if she didn't who did?  What motive did they have to kill Todd?

This book was fast moving and definitely kept you on your feet trying to figure who killed the evil ex known as Todd?  And why he came back for Daphne?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Editorial: More Complaining Oh Please No More!


Why do authors want to send you books when they have read your guidelines and their material isn't listed?  And what happens when we email you what do we expect?

I'm going to try to sum this up best I can.  When someone sends me a book to review or proposes a book for review if it doesn't fit in my category and something I probably won't read I usually don't respond to the email as I get a lot of them.  Under the  contact area it tells you what to send me for me to consider a review it also states what books I will or won't review.  Why authors ignore that and try to appeal to me isn't always going to work.  I could spend days sending rejection letters but I don't want to get into that nasty fight.  There are other book bloggers who will fit into your genre just cause I don't doesn't mean others won't.  I prefer mild mysteries or books similar to Alex Cross or Spencer for Hire.  I have enough to read and deal with that dealing with books out of my genre just don't fly even when I ask have you read my contact us page.  They always claim they do but there are times I really wonder if they have?  

Yes there are times a book will fit into my read category when normally I would pass.  Those books usually appeal to me in some way.  With the amount of time I spend blogging I really have to weigh the options with these books.  I may read one here or there but not all the time.  

My advice for authors please, please, please read the contact us page I can't stress that enough.  If you have questions about it inquire I would be more than happy to consider the book, I can't guarantee that your book will fall into the category but you never know.  

If your going to pitch your book to me please include:

The Title
Description
Picture (img) 
Date for Review (I try to work hard at getting books reviewed in a timely manner.)
and any other information you think we need to know.

I can't guarantee I will review it but without that information I won't review it.  Also authors please don't pitch a book to me for me to purchase.  Most book bloggers get the book in exchange for a review and not just hey check out my book here's a link which then drags to me to an Amazon page where your book costs.

Feel free to share your comments below I love to hear what others think about this ongoing issue.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Review: Give 'em Pumpkin To Talk About by: Jim and Joyce Lavene



Title: Give 'em Pumpkin to Talk About
Author: Jim and Joyce Lavene
Publisher: J. Lavene
Series:  A Pumpkin Patch Mystery #1
Pages: 199
Format: e-book ARC
Source: Great Escapes Book Tours

Description:


First in a New Series 


Richmond attorney Sarah Tucker returns to sell her family’s abandoned farm in Misty River, Virginia despite unanswered questions about her grandparents’ disappearance sixteen years earlier. Sarah was only twelve when she went to visit and found her grandparents had vanished. No amount of searching has brought answers. 



Now Sarah is faced with other issues when a man is killed who claimed to have information about what happened to her grandparents. She learns of a Confederate chest of gold that is said to be buried on the property, and treasure hunters who are willing to do anything to get their hands on it. 



Were her grandparents murdered for the gold? Sarah can’t sell the land and go back to her life until she has answers. But the cost of the answers may be her life. 


Includes farm-fresh recipes!

My Thoughts: 

This book follows Sarah Tucker whose returning to her Grandparent's abandon farm in Misty River to find out what happened to them long ago and to sell the property.  Jack Collins a local boy who has been residing on the property for 16 years wants to keep Sarah from selling the land and does everything he can to get her to realize it, but someone wants Sarah to leave and not look into the family history,.  Is it worth killing for and what happened to Sarah's grandparents?

This book was great it connected some characters from Joyce and Jim Lavene's previous books to incorporate them into this story to find out the big mystery.  I loved how you read about Sarah and her experiences in Misty River and her family's connection to the land.  This book had tons of action and adventure and kept on going until the end and even then I wasn't sure who the murderer was.  Can't wait to see what is next in this Pumpkin Series.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

BOTM Guest Post: Ellen Mansoor Collier author of Vamps, Villains, and Vaudeville

      JUST THE FACTS, MA’AM:
TIPS FOR RESEARCHING HISTORICAL NOVELS

                                               By Ellen Mansoor Collier
(Author of  the Jazz Age Mystery Series: FLAPPERS, FLASKS And FOUL PLAY,  BATHING BEAUTIES, BOOZE And BULLETS, GOLD DIGGERS, GAMBLERS And GUNS, and VAMPS, VILLAINS And VAUDEVILLE)


         I’ll admit, I was never much of a history buff in high school or college. What did Ancient Egypt or the Civil War have to do with my daily life of classes, Student Council, football games, parties or dances? Although my mother was a World History teacher, I wasn’t at all interested until I managed an antiques shop after college between journalism jobs.

           My bosses were two antiques dealers and decorators who took me on buying trips and taught me about different styles and period design. Antiques gave me a visual peek into the past: I could see the way people lived, touch their clothing, furniture, understand their habits and trends. Suddenly, for me, history came alive.


          That glimpse led to a fascination with the Roaring Twenties. I loved almost everything about the 1920s:  the style, the carefree spirit, interior design, the flowing flapper clothes and jewelry, the lingo, the music. Not only did the right to vote in 1920 allow women’s emancipation, the “Dry Decade” became an era of invention and innovation, the “flaming youth’s” rebellion against the stuffy old Victorian mores, leading to the giddy excitement of the Jazz Age.

            I tried to convey that sense of freedom and “anything goes” attitude in my soft-boiled Jazz Age mystery series, through the POV of my main character Jasmine (“Jazz”) Cross, a society reporter who longs to cover hard news in a male-dominated world. Her ambition is thwarted by her old-fashioned editors, yet she’s determined to find ways around the newspaper’s rules and restrictions. I created Jazz as a flapper version of real-life Victorian journalist Nellie Bly, and set the novels during Prohibition in 1920s Galveston, Texas, interweaving actual gangsters, events and local landmarks into the plots. 

While researching FLAPPERS, I became intrigued when I found out that Al Capone tried to muscle in on Galveston’s rival gangs, the Beach and Downtown gangs. I included this fun fact in the preface to show the powerful reach and reputation of Galveston’s gangsters, little known outside of Texas.


As a journalist, I prefer reality-based stories because I feel like I’m learning something new while I’m reading and researching. I enjoyed watching old silent movies, period dramas and documentaries, especially noir films featuring gangsters and mobsters, noting the settings (furniture, lamps, clothing, music, etc.) and jotted down expressions and bits of conversation.  (True, I’m guilty of overusing Jazz Age sayings so I included a glossary of slang in the back of my novels.)


Since I wrote about real people, politicians (and gangsters), I had to be careful not to include anything too offensive or incriminating since much of the information was based on legend and largely undocumented.

         What’s interesting is that the gangsters and bootleggers of yesteryear mirror today’s drug dealers, gangs and cartels. Still, I learned a lot about organized crime, politics and Prohibition, and how often their worlds intermingled.

History may repeat itself, but fiction makes it fresh and new. Enjoy!