Favorite Quotes on Books and Reading

"A book is a gift you can open again and again." Garrison Keillor

Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood.” Jane Yolen

"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." Oscar Wilde

"Books have furnished, burnished, and enabled my life." Julia Keller

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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Book 24: A COLD AND LONELY PLACE Review


A Cold and Lonely Place by Sara J. Henry
ISBN: 9780307718419 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780307718433 (ebook)
ASIN: B009MYAVOK (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Crown 
Publication date: February 5, 2013



Freelance writer Troy Chance is snapping photos of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival ice palace when the ice-cutting machine falls silent. Encased in the ice is the shadowy outline of a body--a man she knows. One of her roommates falls under suspicion, and the media descends. Troy's assigned to write an in-depth feature on the dead man, who, it turns out, was the privileged son of a wealthy Connecticut family who had been playing at a blue collar life in this Adirondack village. And the deeper Troy digs into his life and mysterious death, the murkier things become. After the victim's sister comes to town and a string of disturbing incidents unfold, it's clear someone doesn't want the investigation to continue. Troy doesn't know who to trust, and what she ultimately finds out threatens to shatter the serenity of these mountain towns. She must decide which family secrets should be exposed, what truths should remain hidden, and how far her own loyalty can reach.


A Cold and Lonely Place, the sequel to Learning to Swim, follows Troy on a powerful emotional journey as she discovers the damage left by long-hidden secrets, and catches a glimpse of what might have been.

I had the pleasure of reading Learning to Swim early last year shortly after its release (a read from my personal stash). Regrettably I was unable to post a review at that time as this was during my severe migraine period (sitting at the computer, looking at the screen and simply typing was a trial). This year I was fortunate enough to be allowed the opportunity to read A Cold and Lonely Place for review purposes. Although I enjoyed reading Learning to Swim last year I decided to reread it a few days ago prior to reading A Cold and Lonely Place. I'm glad I did because it was just as good the second time around.

Troy Chance is a highly independent woman. She left her home and family in Tennessee and moved to Oregon to attend college at the age of seventeen. After completing college she eventually relocates to the Adirondack region of upstate New York, the Lake Placid/Saranac area. She worked for a few years as the sports editor for the local paper before becoming a freelance journalist. She's renting a house and sublets several of the bedrooms to various athletes and townsfolk. Her constant companion is her dog, Tiger. A Cold and Lonely Place begins with Troy watching the Winter Festival ice palace preparations when suddenly a body is discovered under the ice . . . the body of one of her roommate's missing boyfriend. Troy is immediately pulled into the investigation when she is asked to take pictures of the scene for the local police. She then breaks the news of Tobin's death to her roommate, Jessamyn. What follows is a discovery of the secrets and hidden past in both Tobin and Jessamyn's lives.

Once again Troy is pulled into an investigation, but this time she is functioning more as an investigative journalist as she's been asked to write a series of articles about Tobin for the local paper. As Troy seeks answers to who Tobin was and how he wound up in their small town, she learns that appearances can be deceiving and that Tobin was much nicer than she ever knew. Tobin was running from a past but not from any mistakes he made but from his family and disappointment. Her search for the truth also unveils secrets of Jessamyn's past of abuse, neglect and disappointment. The only roommate that is fully developed and explored is Jessamyn, but she winds up becoming a good friend to Troy and vice versa. Troy is also befriended by Tobin's surviving sibling, his sister Jessica known as Win. Win plays a pivotal role in helping Troy uncover the truth about Tobin's past and life after he left his family. 

A Cold and Lonely Place seems to focus more on relationships and Ms. Henry does an admirable job in creating characters that you can relate to and be empathetic toward. The drama in this story comes more from Troy's reactions to the information she uncovers as well as how that information impacts others through her articles. Characters from Learning to Swim make reappearances, such as Canadian police detective Jameson, Paul and Philippe Dumond and their nanny/housekeeper Elise, as well as Troy's brother Simon, a police detective in Florida, and her longtime friend Baker. Jameson, Simon and Baker all function as sounding boards for Troy as well as advisers.  It was fascinating to see the changes in relationships evolve as Win and Jessamyn go from being casual acquaintances to friends. At its heart A Cold and Lonely Place is a mystery but also a great read about family and relationships and their continued impact on our lives. I found A Cold and Lonely Place to be an amazing read and one that I enjoyed from beginning to end. If you enjoy mysteries and drama, then I strongly recommend you read A Cold and Lonely Place (if you haven't read Learning to Swim then add that to your TBR list as well . . . you won't be disappointed).

Read a few sample pages from A Cold and Lonely Place here

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Book Excerpt: THE BROKEN PATH


The Broken Path by Cami Checketts
ISBN: 9781481810791 (paperback)
ASIN: B00AS47TYS (Kindle ebook)
Publication Date: January 5, 2013 (paperback)
Publisher: CreateSpace (paperback)
Publisher: Birch River Publishing (Kindle ebook)

Injured in a debilitating accident at age six, Ethan Searle believes women eye him with a mixture of pity and disdain. He's tried love before. He won't again. He meets his match in a precocious two-year old who loves him despite his disability, even while her mother seems bothered by everything about Ethan. 
Autumn Reader escaped her abusive marriage with her beautiful daughter and a stack of fear. She can't make the mistake of trusting a man again. Autumn's daughter becomes enraptured by Ethan. Despite Autumn's best intentions, she finds herself following her daughter's example. When her ex-husband reappears, threatening everyone she loves if she won't submit to his demands, Autumn has to learn to trust or lose her chance at real love.




Blurbs about the book:

"Characters to fall in love with, action to keep you turning pages, and the most adorable little girl ever, The Broken Path is a compelling tale of strength and trust, courage and heart. I truly enjoyed this book." – Maria Hoagland, author of Family Size 
"The Broken Path is sweet romance with heart, suspense, and plenty of story twists that kept me turning pages. Add in a romantic hero with a cane, a struggling single mom, and an adorable little girl and this book has it all!" - Heather Justesen, author of The Switch


Excerpt:

The door swung open. Her heart's palpitations ceased. Ethan's attire was simple, Levis and a white V-necked shirt. He'd never looked better.
"Autumn," his deep voice warmed her more than the summer sun. "You look beautiful."
She tugged at the hem of her shorts, glad her long legs were tan from playing outside with Brittan.
"You...you..." Autumn stuttered, trying to find the right words to express how he looked "...look beautiful, too," she said. She barely caught her hand from smacking her head. What kind of an idiot tells a man he looks beautiful?
He chuckled.
Heat crept up her face. "I mean, thank you, um, you look nice, too."
He opened the door wider, a grin splitting his face. "Thanks. Why don't you come through this way to the garage?"
"Sure."
They made their way through the large great room toward the garage entry, his braces rhythmically slapping the wood floor.
"I thought we'd drive to Pocatello," Ethan said. "Is that all right with you?"
"It's great." Anything's all right, as long as you keep smiling like that.
"I told Nancy I'd come pick you up," Ethan said, "but she insisted you’d come here."
"It wasn't a problem to come here." Autumn looked up at his profile. It wasn't a problem at all. She’d go anywhere just to look at him.
"Your mom acted really odd about the whole thing."
"Odd is a nice way of putting it." Autumn shook her head, grinning. "She was outright rude to me."
Ethan laughed again. "I thought she'd be happy you asked me out."
"Happy? I asked you?" Autumn stopped and stared at him. "What are you talking about? You asked me out."
"What?" He stopped as well, making a quarter turn with his braces to face her. "Nancy called me and said you were too busy with work so you couldn't call. She said you wanted to take me to dinner for watching Brit."
Autumn’s jaw dropped. "Why, that conniving, little..."
Ethan elevated one eyebrow. "I guess you didn't ask me out?"
"No. I sure didn't  I can't believe my mother would..." Autumn's voice faltered. Ethan's shoulders drooped; his eyes filled with pain. "Not that I wouldn't have asked you out, and I do owe you for watching Brit, it's just I didn't think you would want—"
"You don't owe me anything," Ethan interrupted her, his voice soft. "I'm sorry for the misunderstanding. Let me walk you to the door."


About the author:

Cami is a part-time author, part-time exercise consultant, part-time housekeeper, full-time wife, and overtime mother of four adorable boys. Sleep and relaxation are fond memories. She's never been happier.

A portion of the proceeds from Cami's books will be donated to The Child & Family Support Center. For more information on this worthy cause, please go to www.cachecfsc.org

Connect with Cami:   Blog       |     Twitter      |     Facebook 




Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Introducing: Best Selling Reads


The best authors in New Fiction are celebrating the grand opening of BestSellingReads.com with a February promotion:


Best Selling Read’s February Deal

Prize for winning reader entry: iPad Mini with Wi-Fi 16GB plus 1 eBook from each BSR author
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$300 Amazon gift card plus 1 eBook from each author (if winner received eReader holiday gift)

2nd & 3rd place winners: $25 Amazon gift card



Winners will be chosen February 28th by Rafflecopter. No purchase necessary.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Book 21: THE SEVENTH VICTIM Review


The Seventh Victim by Mary Burton
ISBN: 9781420125054 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781420130966 (ebook)
ASIN: B009AY43IW (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Kensington Books
Publication date: January 29, 2013

IF AT FIRST YOU DON’T SUCCEED
It’s been seven years since the Seattle Strangler terrorized the city. His victims were all young, pretty, their lifeless bodies found wrapped in a home-sewn white dress. But there was one who miraculously escaped death, just before the Strangler disappeared…
KILL
Lara Church has only hazy memories of her long-ago attack. What she does have is a home in Austin, a job, and a chance at a normal life at last. Then Texas Ranger James Beck arrives on her doorstep with shattering news: The Strangler is back. And this time, he’s in Austin…
AND KILL AGAIN…
He’s always craved her, even as he killed the others. For so long he’s been waiting to unleash the beast within. And this time, he’ll prove he holds her life in his hands—right before he ends it forever…

Lara Church has been on the run for seven years. Unfortunately she doesn't remember who she's running from since she can't remember her attacker. She has spent the past seven years crisscrossing the country, never spending more than six months in any one location. The only thing that ties her brief stays anywhere is murder. Lara was the seventh victim of the Seattle Strangler and the only one to survive. Now the strangler seems to be making a reappearance in Austin. Will Lara run again? How do you run when you don't know who you're running from?

Fortunately for Lara, she has the Texas Rangers on her side in the form of James Beck and Rick Santos. These Rangers are driven and simply will not stop until they've solved the case. Just to shake things up a bit, a former Seattle detective shows up and wants to help solve the case. Add in an art show featuring Lara's photographs of death scenes, her willing exposure as the last surviving victim of the Seattle Strangler, mutual attraction between Lara and Ranger Beck, and the anniversary of Lara's survival in Seattle and you've got the makings of one volatile romantic-suspense story . . . which is exactly what Ms. Burton has provided.

I found all of the characters in The Seventh Victim to be very well developed and likeable. The settings and action are realistic and well described. James Beck is somewhat stubborn and single-minded when it comes to his cases. Lara Church is stubborn when it comes to her art. Former Seattle police detective Mike Raines is, by all appearances, just as stubborn when it comes to solving the case of the Seattle Strangler. But all is not what it appears and the little twists and turns in the story are what made for an engrossing read. The Seventh Victim wasn't a quick or easy read, primarily because of the subject matter (rape, murder and even child abuse), but I was simply unable to put the book down once I started reading. If you enjoy suspense stories with a mix of romance, then you may want to add The Seventh Victim to your reading list. 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Book 18: THE LONG WAY HOME Review


The Long Way Home (Chesapeake Diaries #6) by Mariah Stewart
ISBN: 9780345538413 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780345540270 (ebook)
ASIN: B008TSC5ZS (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication date: January 29, 2013


As the only child of a wealthy investment manager, Ellie Chapman has never known anything besides a life of perfect privilege. But her years of good fortune come to an abrupt end when her father is exposed for swindling billions of dollars from innocent investors in a massive Ponzi scheme. And just like that, Ellie loses everything: money, job, home--even her fiance, who's jailed as her father's partner in crime. With no job prospects on the horizon, no cash, and her family name in tatters, Ellie has only one place to go. 
Sleepy St. Dennis, Maryland, is hardly where Ellie intends to stay, however. Keeping her identity a secret, she plans to sell the house her late mother left her in the small town and use the proceeds to move on with her life. Unfortunately, her ticket to a new beginning is in dire need of a laundry list of pricey improvements, many of which she'll have to do herself. And until the house on Bay View Road is fit to be sold, the sole place Ellie will be traveling is the hardware store. But as the many charms of St. Dennis--not to mention Cameron O'Connor, the handsome local contractor who has secrets of his own--begin to work their magic, what begins as a lesson in do-it-yourself renovations might just end up as Ellie's very own rejuvenation..

Ellis (Ellie) Ryder Chapman has had an incredibly bad year, filled with shocks and disappointments caused by her father and former fiancĂ©’s criminal behaviors. Although Ellie was cleared by the government of any wrong doing, it isn't possible to be the child of the next Bernie Madoff and come off unscathed. Ellie has lost her job, her home, most of her possessions as well as most of her friends. The one true friend Ellie has had throughout the problems over the past has been her longtime friend, Carly Sutton. Carly gave her a place to live after the government evicted her from her home. She even lent Ellie a car so she could have transportation while she was in Maryland. Because she worked in her father's firm, no one is willing to hire her and the only thing she has left is a house in a small town in Maryland that she's inherited from her mother. Of course that comes with some strings . . . she has to keep the property for six months before she can sell. At this point in her life, Ellie can't argue or find fault with this stipulation as it gives her some place to live and call home. To protect what little bit of dignity she has left, she decides to live in St. Dennis as Ellie Ryder rather than Ellis Chapman even though she has been advised to allow the people of the town to embrace her and her family ties to the town.

Upon arriving in St. Dennis and the house, Ellie has vague memories of the house but she doesn't ever remember traveling to Maryland. Fortunately this house gives her a chance to start over again and the first thing she has to do is fix the house up if she plans to sell it after six months. What Ellie had not planned on was making friends, feeling a connection with St. Dennis or the house, or being attracted to a contractor, but all of these happen in a very short period of time. Cameron is not just a contractor but becomes a friend and offers all sorts of friendly advice on the repairs and upgrades to the house. As Ellie settles in, she learns more about her mother, great-aunt and other ancestors that were tied to the house and St. Dennis. Before she knows it is the end of November and Thanksgiving and she's begun to feel like she fits in with the town and she's more than comfortable with her burgeoning relationship with Cameron. And then the other shoe drops. She receives a phone call that she needs to take custody of her half-sister.

The Long Way Home is the sixth book in the Chesapeake Diaries series by Mariah Stewart. Each couple featured in this series has something to overcome or prove, at least to themselves, and this book was no different. Both Cameron and Ellie have to overcome their pasts and realize that it is possible to move on and not be judged by the mistakes made by their parents. Ellie is at a point in her life where she has to discover who she truly is since so much of her past was wrapped up with her father, his business, and wealth. She also discovers that in addition to being greedy and stealing millions, if not billions, from unsuspecting investors, he also cheated on her mother and has another child. Ellie knows what it is like to be branded because of her father's criminal activities and how it feels to have nowhere to go so she accepts custody of her thirteen-year-old half-sister, Gabrielle. This family addition actually helps to further steady Ellie and she becomes to realize that St. Dennis doesn't just feel like home, it is home. Ms. Stewart has provided another happy-ever-after romance with The Long Way Home. I found The Long Way Home to be a quick read that pulled me in from the first few pages. If you enjoy happy-ever-after romance then you don't want to miss The Long Way Home.

Click here to read an excerpt from The Long Way Home.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, January 25, 2013

Introducing THE GHOSTS OF NAGASAKI


The Ghosts of Nagasaki by Daniel Clausen
ISBN:  9781478314479 (paperback)
ASIN:  B00941Z1T6 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: GhostsOfNagasaki.com
Publication Date: December 8, 2012




New Novel Explores Pain, Memory, and Spirituality in the Backdrop of Nagasaki, Japan 

First of all, I want to thank Vivian for allowing me to introduce my new novel on her blog. Thank you, Vivian. 

The Ghosts of Nagasaki is my third book and second novel. It is the product of four years of hard work. The novel is loosely based on my experiences in Nagasaki Japan. 


The Book in Short

The numerous workdays have taken a toll on Tokyo investment banker, Pierce Williams. Each day he wakes up, and each day the weight where his heart should be grows heavier. One morning, without knowing why, he sits down at his desk and begins typing something. Soon he realizes that without meaning to he has begun typing the story of his first days in Nagasaki four years ago. As he types he begins to realize that the words on his screen are more than he could have imagined. Instead of simply remembering the past he is reliving it in ways that fundamentally alter his present. In his manic writing are the ghosts of his past, a chilling vision of his future, and the possible key to his salvation. Somehow he must solve the mystery of four years ago. A mystery that involves a young Japanese girl, the ghost of a native writer, and an oppressive bureaucrat/samurai bent on crushing his spirit. 

Excerpt from Chapter 6



On the surface, I am an unremarkable thing: a businessman going on a business trip. Without ceremony, I take a plane bound from Tokyo to Nagasaki. I line up to get my ticket; I wait patiently to board the plane, my copy of the Nikkei Shimbun in hand; I sit on the plane in my tight coal-black suit, no tie, one button down, with my laptop; my face is the silent, serious face of a man working on yet another project of some importance for his company. 
If anyone were to ask me what I was doing, I would dutifully respond that I was being sent to Nagasaki to take one of many steps necessary to earn revenues for company stockholders. If I was to line up the sequence of events in a row, nobody would give them a second look. As for myself, I find that this rationale soon evaporates under the microscope of my superconscious self. 
On the plane, my fingers tap-tap-tapping on my laptop keyboard, I see myself as I really am: still in the deep blue ocean just off the shore of the magical island, swimming away from my only chance at salvation. She’s there, with her deep, black hair, watching tearfully as I swim away. I try my hardest to keep my eyes forward, not to look back. I try my hardest not to let her tears turn into rain drops falling on the ocean. When I look to my right, Kichijiro is no longer there to console me. My weary legs kick, my arms churn, but the will to go forward soon stops—everything stops for a moment. All the pain, all the suffering; the ghosts are quiet. For a moment there’s only the sweet, bitter relief of the fall. I will fall to the ocean floor, drown and suffocate before I even hit bottom. Weighed down by the emptiness where my heart should be, my lifeless body will descend to the bottom. I will rest there where no one will find me. 
Except I don’t. Instead, I find the weight pulls me down into a plane, puts me in a suit, and gives me a thin veneer as a replacement for a reason to go on. I find my business class seat and the comforts of my place in the world even lonelier than the bottom of the ocean. And I begin to panic.  
How long do I have? I look for someone to ask, but the silence of the deep blue ocean turns into the silence of a plane full of strangers, and all I have is my laptop computer to ask the question to. The hard, sharp pains where my heart should be, those pains that had been so common just a moment ago, are now gone. In their place is silence. 
The plane soon lifts off, and I’m descending upward. 

Book Giveaway! 

If you've read the book excerpt and you’re interested in acquiring a copy, then I have good news. 

For the first three people who email me at lexicalfunk [at] gmail [dot] com, I will be happy to provide you with a free copy of the book. You can also buy a signed copy directly from me for fifteen dollars. 

Thank you so much for your interest. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Book 16: SPEAKING FROM AMONG THE BONES Review


Speaking From Among the Bones by Alan Bradley
ISBN: 9780385344036 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780345538680 (ebook)
ASIN: B008ZPG8XK (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication date: January 29, 2013



Eleven-year-old amateur detective and ardent chemist Flavia de Luce is used to digging up clues, whether they’re found among the potions in her laboratory or between the pages of her insufferable sisters’ diaries. What she is not accustomed to is digging up bodies. Upon the five-hundredth anniversary of St. Tancred’s death, the English hamlet of Bishop’s Lacey is busily preparing to open its patron saint’s tomb. Nobody is more excited to peek inside the crypt than Flavia, yet what she finds will halt the proceedings dead in their tracks: the body of Mr. Collicutt, the church organist, his face grotesquely and inexplicably masked. Who held a vendetta against Mr. Collicutt, and why would they hide him in such a sacred resting place? The irrepressible Flavia decides to find out. And what she unearths will prove there’s never such thing as an open-and-shut case.




Flavia de Luce has been described as a pint-sized genius detective with a penchant for poison and trouble. She resides in Bishop's Lacey, England with her father and two older sisters. It is the early 1950s and England is still recovering from World War II. Their mother, Harriet de Luce, has been missing and presumed dead for ten years, so Flavia has no memory of her whatsoever. Their father, Colonel Haviland de Luce, is an absent-minded parent and totally engrossed with philately (stamp collecting). Ophelia (Feely), the eldest sister, is an accomplished musician and soon to be engaged. Daphne (Daffy), the middle sister, is a devoted reader. Flavia is often left alone and has become enamored with chemistry and investigating crime, specifically murder. Speaking From Among the Bones begins with Flavia sitting with Feely in St. Tancred's Church while Feely practices the organ. As Flavia awaits her sister, she wonders if she'll ever get to investigate a fifth murder. Ask and ye shall receive . . . 

Shortly after the evening's rehearsal during the exhumation of St. Tancred on his quincentennial, Flavia volunteers to peer into the crypt and discovers the body of the former church organist, Crispin Collicutt. The discovery of the body in the crypt – the wrong body in the crypt, the mystery of who put it there and why, the upcoming engagement of Feely to Dieter, the appearance of a man of mystery - Adam T. Sowerby (a floral archeologist and detective), and the idea that Buckshaw is about to be sold all add up to another wonderful Flavia adventure. 

Speaking From Among the Bones reveals a maturing Flavia and for the first time she actually empathizes with her father and sisters. She has also learned to control herself and isn't as prone to outbursts as we've seen in the past. Although Flavia is maturing, she is still a child in many ways and provides some decidedly non-adult thinking for a few of her adventures, such as exploring a tunnel found in the cemetery and frightening the vicar's wife, as well as her 'relationship' with her trusty steed Gladys, a bicycle. Yet her maturity shines through with her empathy toward her sisters, the burgeoning working relationship with Adam Sowerby and continuing relationship with Inspector Hewitt. Mr. Bradley has provided another raucous and delightful Flavia mystery thriller. I must warn you that the ending is somewhat of a shock (to find out what it is you'll simply have to read the book). I can't wait to read the next Flavia installment to see what will happen. If you haven't read any books in the Flavia series, then I strongly recommend you start. 


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


Previous books in this series (in order of publication) are: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag, A Red Herring Without Mustard, and I Am Half-Sick of Shadows. Next up in this series is The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches and is scheduled for release in early 2014. To learn more about this series, please visit: www.flaviadeluce.com.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Book 14: THE HIDDEN ONES Review


The Hidden Ones by Nancy Madore
ISBN: 9781479321209 (paperback)
ASIN: B009R4CJB8 (Kindle ebook)
Publication date: November 12, 2012 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: January 10, 2013 (paperback)



LEGACY OF THE WATCHERS (the series)


A historical, speculative, science fiction adventure

Thousands of years ago something came out of the sky that changed the course of human history. Testimonies abound of these 'angels' and their hybrid offspring, the 'Nephilim' giants. These mighty 'gods' quickly rose to power, and the ancient world came alive with industry and culture. People who lived for hundreds of thousands of years as hunters and gatherers suddenly began settling in one place, cultivating the land and even governing themselves. They invented irrigation, the wheel and algebra. Yet amidst all this progress, an undercurrent of terror was spreading like wildfire, carrying whispers of 'djinn,' 'daeva' and 'demons.' 

The Watchers were supposed to do just that: watch. But humankind proved far too tempting and they 'fell' to earth, taking wives and even producing children. But their children grew into unruly giants whose souls didn't ascend like human souls when they die, but remained here on earth. These errant souls haunt the earth to this day. They are the 'djinn,' the 'hidden ones,' also known as 'daeva' and 'demon.' They have one purpose—to live. But to live they need bodies. 

This chain of events has now reached the point where the djinn need more than just our bodies to survive. They must take back control of the earth, just as in the days when they ruled as gods. 

The Hidden Ones (book one) 

As CEO of her own thriving company, Nadia Adeire is flush with success, but a secret society dating back to the Essenes believes her to be one of the ancient djinn—the notorious demoness of Hebrew legend, Lilith. What’s more, they have reason to believe that she’s plotting a catastrophic attack on the world. 

Nadia is snatched from her 'perfect' life and caught in a maze between a present day disaster and the ancient legends of the djinn. The only way out is to retrace the steps of her deceased grandmother, Helene. The deeper Nadia delves into the past, the harder it will be for her to emerge unscathed. But it’s the only way to stop this impending disaster that was set in motion five thousand years ago!

Helene Trevelyan, a British citizen, traveled with her father, Robert Trevelyan - an archeologist, to the Middle East in 1948. Her father and three other archeologists were searching for a Sumerian Book of the Dead and thought it might have been found in Qumran. Helene was only seventeen years old in 1948 and what she witnessed will forever impact not only her life but her offspring for generations. Helene bore witness to the resurrection of a Nephilim or djinn, the infamous Lilith. 

Helene was unknowingly forced into marriage with an Arab and lived as a second-wife to Aabid in Saudi Arabia until her death. Helene and Aabid's daughter, Gisele, is allowed to leave as the wife to Helene's childhood friend, Edward Adeire. Edward and Gisele eventually wind up as residents of the United States and parents to a daughter, Nadia. Fast forward a few decades and Nadia is kidnapped and taken to Saudi Arabia. Why? Because her kidnappers believe that she is the key to capturing Lilith and averting a worldwide disaster. Nadia insists she knows nothing about this impending disaster and that she never even met her grandmother. The only thing she does know are the stories told to her by her mother, as they were told by her grandmother. Little does she know that these stories hold the key to the myths and reality of the Nephilim and Lilith. But will she realize the truth in time to save the world from the machinations of the Nephilim?

First, let me say that although I enjoy watching the occasional science fiction television show or movie, I'm not real big on speculative science fiction reads. However, Ms. Madore has deftly woven ancient myths, folklore and religious views into an intriguing read. The stories of Lilith, Asmodeous and the other Nephilim from ancient times was quite interesting. I found it a little farfetched that Nadia would be able to recite their stories and incorporate dialogue verbatim, but that's a relatively minor issue. Ms. Madore goes to great lengths to even try and explain how the notion of these Nephilim became distorted over time and might be the root of the vampire myths. There's a lot of historical information woven into The Hidden Ones but it does become difficult to separate history from myth if one isn't familiar with either. At times it was hard to decide who the bad guys were in this story. The kidnappers are out to save the world from outside influences and are willing to do whatever it takes to do so. But isn't this the same rationale used by extremists around the world? 

As a Muslim, I had difficulty with some of the behaviors exhibited by the so-called Muslims in the story, specifically with Aabid and his family in the late 1940s and mid 1960s. (I found their behavior to be based more on cultural traditions that have been subsumed into regional religious practices rather than religious dictates.) Yet I must say that their behavior is probably not too far removed from the regional, cultural traditions at that time. 

Nadia and Helene are presented as strong women that endure quite a bit at the hands of men, but both emerge victorious. The physical attraction between Nadia and one of the kidnappers is initially explained away as Stockholm Syndrome but is later built upon as a relationship. It took me awhile to get into this story, primarily because of the subject matter and secondarily because of numerous migraine headaches, but once I got halfway through I was hooked and had to know how it would end. Unfortunately, this is just the first in a series so I may never know how it really ends. This wasn't an easy or quick read for me due to the genre but it was an interesting and different read that I rather enjoyed. If you enjoy speculative science fiction mixed with history and touches of romance and adventure, then The Hidden Ones may be just the read for you.


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the author. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Author Anne Elisabeth Stengl's Favorite Authors




The Book Diva's Reads recently asked author Anne Elisabeth Stengl to name ten authors she admires and why. Here's the result:


  1. C.S. Lewis -- because he blends fantasy and faith so beautifully it takes my breath away.
  2. Sir Terry Pratchett -- because he can make me laugh out loud and cry within a few pages.
  3. Diana Wynne Jones -- because if I'm having a bad day, one her books can always cheer me up.
  4. George MacDonald -- because for sheer beauty and charm, you can't beat one of his fairy tales.
  5. Megan Whalen Turner -- because . . . I have no words. Her work is just amazing, and her characters are unforgettable! But I can't quite explain her, so you'd better read her for yourself.
  6. Robin McKinley -- because no one retells fairy tales with such grace and adventure.
  7. Jasper Fforde -- because no one writes like this man. Ever.  Period. TRULY unique!
  8. Susanna Clarke -- because she discovered England's true mythology . . . and made me believe it.
  9. Peter S. Beagle -- because he finds the profound in the absurd and the absurd in the profound.
  10. Tolkien -- because he gave us hobbits, noble elves, and Middle Earth.




About the author:

Anne Elisabeth Stengl makes her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Rohan, a passel of cats, and one long-suffering dog. When she's not writing, she enjoys Shakespeare, opera, and tea, and studies piano, painting, and pastry baking. She studied illustration at Grace College and English literature at Campbell University. She is the author of Heartless, Veiled Rose, Moonblood, and Starflower. Heartless and Veiled Rose have each been honored with a Christy Award. 



About the book:

Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl
ISBN: 9780764210266 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781441260475 (ebook)
ASIN:  B008B9HQ6I (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Publication Date:  November 1, 2012

The Black Dogs Are on the Hunt, But Who Is Their Prey?
When a cursed dragon-witch kidnaps fairest Lady Gleamdren, the Bard Eanrin sets boldly forth on a rescue mission... and a race against his rival for Gleamdren's favor. Intent upon his quest, the last thing the immortal Faerie needs is to become mixed up with the troubles of an insignificant mortal.
But when he stumbles upon a maiden trapped in an enchanted sleep, he cannot leave her alone in the dangerous Wood Between. One waking kiss later, Eanrin suddenly finds his story entangled with that of young Starflower. A strange link exists between this mortal girl and the dragon-witch. Will Starflower prove the key to Lady Gleamdren's rescue? Or will the dark power from which she flees destroy both her and her rescuer?



Monday, January 21, 2013

Book Excerpt: HEART OF THE OCEAN



Heart of the Ocean by Heather B. Moore
ASIN: B00AVMIK8Q (Kindle ebook)
Publication date: January 2, 2013
Publisher: Mirror Press, LLC

A dark secret . . . a grieving ghost . . . a handsome stranger . . . What more could Eliza Robinson want?
Except for maybe her life.
In Heather B. Moore’s enthralling 1840's historical romance, Heart of the Ocean, Eliza Robinson has turned down the very pretentious Mr. Thomas Beesley's marriage proposal. As a business partner of Eliza's father, Thomas quickly discredits the family and brings disgrace to the Robinson name.
While her father scrambles to restore his good name in New York City, Eliza flees to the remote Puritan town of Maybrook to stay with her Aunt Maeve. Although relieved to be away from all-things-male and unforgiving gossip columns, odd things start to happen to Eliza, and she is plagued by a ghostly voice. Her aunt's explanation? That Eliza is being haunted by a woman who died of a broken heart twenty years ago.
After Aunt Maeve is tragically killed, Eliza's life is put in danger as she tries to uncover the mystery of her aunt's death. She encounters Jonathan Porter in Maybrook, whose presence in the town seems suspicious, yet she finds herself drawn to him. When she discovers that Jonathan's dark secrets may be the link between the dead woman who haunts her and her aunt’s murderer, Eliza realizes that Jonathan is the one man she should never trust.




Excerpt:

Eliza and Jon are thrown into jail after the death of Maeve

Eliza stared through the dark iron bars. The cold cellar was damp, with water dripping from the ceiling in a rhythmic fashion. This crude jail is no place for a woman, she imagined her father saying. She pulled the cloak given to her by Ruth around her shoulders. Shivering, she thought of how last night she was snuggled in her warm bed; tonight she was surrounded by concrete walls.
A low curse from the next cell reached her ears. It had to be Jonny. When she arrived at the jail, she'd been led past his barred cell, feeling his eyes watching her. The constable already arrested Jonny before going to Ruth’s place.
Eliza let out a breath, gathering her courage. "Are you all right?" she called.
Silence greeted her.
She tried again. Maybe he hadn't heard. "Are you ill?"
"I'm in jail," he said with a scoff. His deep voice seemed to fill the small space with an echo.
Eliza bit her lip. It was her fault he was here. "I'm sorry."
He spoke again. "Did you kill her?"
She drew a breath in sharply. "No." How could he accuse her? Because she lived with her aunt? How did he arrive so fast at the cottage—how had he known to come? Suspicion knotted inside her. "Why were you riding by the cottage in such a storm?"


Book 12: HEART OF THE OCEAN Review




Heart of the Ocean by Heather B. Moore
ASIN: B00AVMIK8Q (Kindle ebook)
Publication date: January 2, 2013
Publisher: Mirror Press, LLC


A dark secret . . . a grieving ghost . . . a handsome stranger . . . What more could Eliza Robinson want?
Except for maybe her life.
In Heather B. Moore’s enthralling 1840’s historical romance, Heart of the Ocean, Eliza Robinson has turned down the very pretentious Mr. Thomas Beesley’s marriage proposal. As a business partner of Eliza’s father, Thomas quickly discredits the family and brings disgrace to the Robinson name.
While her father scrambles to restore his good name in New York City, Eliza flees to the remote Puritan town of Maybrook to stay with her Aunt Maeve. Although relieved to be away from all- things-male and unforgiving gossip columns, odd things start to happen to Eliza, and she is plagued by a ghostly voice. Her aunt’s explanation? That Eliza is being haunted by a woman who died of a broken heart twenty years ago.
After Aunt Maeve is tragically killed, Eliza's life is put in danger as she tries to uncover the mystery of her aunt's death. She encounters Jonathan Porter in Maybrook, whose presence in the town seems suspicious, yet she finds herself drawn to him. When she discovers that Jonathan’s dark secrets may be the link between the dead woman who haunts her and her aunt’s murderer, Eliza realizes that Jonathan is the one man she should never trust.

Eliza Robinson is pleased to spend time with her Aunt Maeve, but she is hurt that her parents have all-but exiled her to Maybrook, Massachusetts. As she struggles with her feelings about her "exile," she also struggles with the idea she may be losing her faculties since she began hearing voices; especially since the voice initially urged her to jump off of a cliff. Later that night during a storm, the voice leads her to discover her aunt's murdered body. When she seeks helps in the midst of the storm she finds it in a stranger, Jonathan Porter. Following her arrest and release, Eliza continues to hear the voice and begins to realize it may be the voice of Jonathan's deceased mother, Helena.

Eliza quickly realizes that she is just as constrained by the Puritan society her aunt lived in as she was by the elite societal values faced in the city. Eliza commits to trying to find information for Jonathan and this leads to Helena's diary and a host of problems. Eliza must contend with the repercussions of her refusal of the proposal by Thomas Beesley, her father’s business partner and that of Puritan and Maybrook resident Nathaniel Prann. She must also fight against her feelings toward Jonathan. Eliza continues to hear Helena’s voice even as she travels back to New York, and even France and England. She knows that Helena is trying to provide her with guidance, but will she be able to discover the truth behind Helena's disappearance and death without putting her own life in jeopardy again?

I rather enjoyed Heart of the Ocean but found it initially to be somewhat of a slow read, especially when reading about Eliza and her early days in Maybrook (before and after her aunt's death). The pace picked up quite a bit after Eliza is presumed innocent and she returns to her aunt's home for a while. Her return to New York provided a nice twist as she struggled against societal and familial constraints. I enjoyed reading about the relationship, or lack thereof, between Jonathan and his fiancée, Apryl Maughan. One of Eliza's enemies is Thomas Beesley, a spoiled, petty and vengeful man. Just when you think you know where the story is going Ms. Moore provides a neat little plot twist to take you in an entirely different direction. If you enjoy historical fiction with a hint of a gothic romance and pinch of suspense, then I recommend Heart of the Ocean.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from I Am A Reader Not A Writer Book Blasts and Tours. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Book Blast: FREAK OF NATURE





Freak of Nature

Donate Body to Science. Check.
When seventeen-year-old Kaitlyn checked the box, she never suspected she’d have her life–and her body–stolen from her. She awakens one day in a secret laboratory to discover that her body is now half-robot and is forced to hide her own secret: that she still has human emotions and a human mind. If the scientists who made her find out, they’ll erase what remains of who she was.

Kaitlyn finds an unlikely ally in Lucas, a handsome, brilliant scientist who can’t get over the guilt he feels knowing she was once a vibrant, beautiful young woman. He never expected a science project to affect him the way she does. As he tries to help her rediscover her past, he finds himself falling for the brave girl struggling to find her place and acceptance between the human and computer worlds.



Purchase

Amazon






Author Julia Crane


Julia Crane is the author of the YA paranormal fiction novels: Keegan's Chronicles, Mesmerized, Dark Promise and Eternal Youth. Julia was encouraged by her mother to read and use her imagination, and she's believed in magical creatures since the day her grandmother first told her an Irish tale. Julia has traveled far and wide to all the places her grandmother told her about, gaining inspiration from her journeys to places like Nepal, Cyprus, Sri Lanka, Italy, France and many more. And who knows? Maybe the magical creatures she writes about are people she met along the way.

Julia Crane has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. Although she's spent most of her life on the US east coast, she currently lives in Dubai with her husband and three children.




Links



Website * Twitter * Facebook * Goodreads





Book Blast Giveaway Details

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 1/27/13


Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.


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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

THE TUTOR'S DAUGHTER Extras



Earlier this month I reviewed The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen (a great historical romance read). Now I'd like to share the book trailer and provide you with an opportunity read the first chapter of this wonderful book.

Watch the trailer:



Read the first chapter here.


I hope you'll enjoy these extras.  Happy reading!