Monday, December 31, 2012

Book Review - A Place Called Armageddon - C.C. Humphreys

A Place Called Armageddon
Title: A Place Called Armageddon

Review: I do not often read historical fiction, typically opting for narrative nonfiction (think Erik Larson), but since I had actually lived in the country this book was discussing I decided to make an exception.  This book focuses on the siege of Constantinople, a Greek city, by the Turks.  It is told through the eyes of several characters on each side of the battle.

The history was very good, and it became abundantly clear that a lot of research went into getting the basic facts of the battle correct.  From the treatment of the citizenry, the methods of long term sieges, the nature of battles, and the overall climate of the city.  As a history guy, I felt I got a good macro perspective of the battle that was both interesting and accurate.  For me, a good measure of historical fiction is whether you come away from the story wanting to know more of the details.  Humphries does an excellent job of just giving you enough information to keep you interested, and at the same time stoke a fire of curiosity that makes you hit the internet to learn even more.  

Along with the history several plot lines involving a large cast of characters is presented.  For the most part they were entertaining, but the sheer volume of characters detracted from getting to know any one of them to well.  It is why a good mystery has the investigating officer only looking into one crime, otherwise it gets confusing, and you never really get into the case(s).  So while Humphries is a fine writer, it is tremendously difficult to present a cohesive story on this scale.  I enjoyed the book but wanted a little more balance on character development.

Overall this was an excellent book and a extremely interesting topic.  If you are fan of the genre you will not be disappointed, and if like me you are new to it, you couldn't ask for a better introduction; especially with such a great writer like Humphries.

Publisher: Source Books/Orion
ISBN: 978-1-4022-7249-3
Copyright: 2011
Pages: 442
Quick Review: 4 stars out of 5
Why I Read It: I enjoy history (typically non-fiction) and this fictionalized account of the siege of Constantinople (Istanbul) appealed to me since I spent four years in Turkey as a kid.
Where I Obtained the Book: Sent to me by the publisher for review.

Synopsis: To the Greeks who love it, it is Constantinople. To the Turks who covet it, the Red Apple. Safe behind its magnificent walls, the city was once the heart of the vast Byzantine empire.

1453. The empire has shrunk to what lies within those now-crumbling walls. A relic. Yet for one man, Constantinople is the stepping stone to destiny. Mehmet is twenty when he is annointed Sultan. Now, seeking Allah’s will and Man’s glory, he brings an army of one hundred thousand, outnumbering the defenders ten to one. He has also brings something new – the most frightening weapon the world has ever seen...

But a city is more than stone, its fate inseparable from that of its people. Men like Gregoras, a mercenary and exile, returning to the hated place he once loved. Like his twin and betrayer, the subtle diplomat, Theon. Like Sofia, loved by two brothers but forced to make a desperate choice between them. And Leilah, a powerful mystic and assassin, seeking her own destiny in the flames.

This is the tale of one of history’s greatest battles for one of the world’s most extraordinary places. This is the story of people, from peasant to emperor - with the city’s fate, and theirs, undecided... until the moment the Red Apple falls.
 C.C. Humphreys
Author Biography:  C.C. Humphreys was born in Toronto, Canada, and grew up in Los Angeles and London. A third generation actor and writer on both sides of his family, he returned to Canada in the nineties and there his writing career began. He won the inaugural playwriting competition of the New Play Centre, Vancouver with his first play, 'A Cage Without Bars' which was produced in Vancouver and London. He was a schoolboy fencing champion, became a fight choreographer and thus turned his love of swashbuckling towards historical fiction. He is married and lives in Finchley, North London.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Book Feature Friday - What Came First - Luke Goldstein

What Came First?
Title: What Came First

Author: LukeGoldstein

Publisher:  Published October 10th 2012 by Createspace (first published September 9th 2012)
ISBN:  9781479397396
Copyright: 2012
Pages: 301

Synopsis: "What Came First?" follows four complete strangers as their lives become intertwined in the biggest traffic jam in Seattle's history. Caught up in the maze of metal and mortal are a twenty-something slacker with no clue about where his life is going, a conspiracy-addled recluse who thinks this is another piece to the puzzle, the tween daughter of a traveling evangelical preacher hell bent on breaking the rules, and finally a young woman who wakes up in the morning not planning to see the end of the day.

Their lives and stories weave into each other to create a safety net for some and an unwanted cage for others.
Luke Goldstein
Author Biography: Luke Goldstein has lived in three of the four corners of the country, but currently resides in Simi Valley, CA. While "What Came First?" is his debut novel, he has been telling stories for years in various ways including short stories, screenplays, spoken word and paintings. Some might think of him as unfocused, but he prefers eclectic.

He also is the writer/creator of two blogs: The End ofthe Page (movies, books, pop culture and more) and Reality Dig (politics). Some might think of him as unfocused, but he prefers eclectic. You can find out more about him or just keep of the randomness at his official site.

Praise:   Praise: "A Uniquely Entertaining Read" from BookAddict

Random tidbits: This was an amazing journey to undertake as my debut novel and while I am working hard on promoting it and getting it into the hands of as many people as possible, I am also underway on my next novel. It will be a switch of genre as this story is much more of a thriller about an adopted young man who uncovers some terrible truths about his lineage. It's a battle between nature and nurture to determine which road he will take.

Thanks again!
- Luke

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Book Review - The Longest Way Home: One Man's Quest for the Courage to Settle Down - Andrew McCarthy

The Longest Way Home: One Man's Quest for the Courage to Settle Down

Author: Andrew McCarthy

Review: I began this book expecting an autobiography told through travel.  Instead you get 9 parts travel to 1 part life story; and the life story you get focuses on his fear of commitment to those who are significant in his life.  If he cannot be definitive about his family, just how committed do you think he is to his vicarious travel companions?

The beauty of great travel writing is the excitement the writer brings to the parts of the world they are visiting.  Ian Wright is my idea of the perfect travel host.  The reader becomes a travel companion, forging a relationship with the writer to see what they see, to experience what they experience. McCarthy makes it abundantly clear he is a loner when it comes to travel, directly avoiding interaction with those who are present, and indirectly shunning you the reader. It is really hard to be a companion to a travel writer who does not want you there interrupting his experience.

The thread of the book is McCarthy’s journey as a commitment-phobe as he rapidly travels around the globe seeking answers prior to getting married for the second time.  Mostly you just want to shout at him to get over himself, but that would be an ungenerous reading of his struggles.  His life is very different from mine and through his travels he is able to process his thoughts, cumulating in his marriage, both physically and mentally.  The loner becomes two.

Most interesting to me is this exploration of McCarthy’s second act.  A movie actor since he was a teenager, he managed to find something in life he was passionate about and through dogged determination he has managed to create a small career in travel writing.  Much more than a vanity project, McCarthy has found a new life in which to express himself.  The artist within will always find its way out.  As they say, do what you love and you will never work a day in your life.

Publisher: Free Press
ISBN:   9781451667486
Copyright: 2012
Pages: 269
Quick Review: 3.5 stars out of 5
Why I Read It: I enjoy a well written piece of nonfiction, especially history or biography
Where I Obtained the Book: Sent to me by the publisher for review

Synopsis: Award-winning travel writer and actor Andrew McCarthy delivers a revealing and insightful memoir about how travel helped him become the man he wanted to be, helping him overcome life-long fears and confront his resistance to commitment.From time immemorial, travel has been a pursuit of passion—from adventurers of old seeking gold or new lands, to today’s spiritual and pleasure seekers who follow in the footsteps of Elizabeth Gilbert. Some see travel as a form of light-hearted escapism while others believe it has the power to open your mind, forcing you to confront your demons, and discover your true self.     Andrew McCarthy belongs to this second category of traveler. The Longest Way Home follows his excursions to Patagonia, the Amazon, Costa Rica, Baltimore, Vienna, Kilimanjaro, Dublin, and beyond. He uses his wanderlust to examine his motives and desires, and explore his ambivalence about commitment. He ponders his personal life, his acting career, and his impulse to leave home, all building toward one of the most significant moments of his life: his wedding day.      Genuine and spirited, McCarthy’s message about the transformative power of travel is universal, and his exploration of the nature and passion of relationships, both fleeting and enduring, will strike a chord with every man and woman who has ever wondered at the vicissitudes of the human heart.

Other Reviews:

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Book Review - Royal Rebel - Dana Taylpr

Royal Rebel
Title:  Royal Rebel

Author: Dana Taylor

Review:   Royal Rebel is a new take on the old story of Robin Hood.  Princess Robin is the secret child of King Richard and she is known throughout the land as Princess Robin whom steals from the Rich and Gives to the Poor with her band of merry boys. 

Princess Robin is raised as a wild child and has no desires to fulfill her duties as a woman of her time.  Sir Simon takes every opportunity to teaser her, bate her and make her as angry as possible. Sir Simon is a Knight of King Richard and is trying to save King Richards true love from marring the fat Prince John. Robin and Simon are thrown together into a light and fun adventures that takes them from the Sherwood forest, though swampy mash lands, mountains so high and back down to Nottingham, looking for an artifact that will keep Lady Marion from marrying Prince John.  Robin falls in love with Simon over the course of their adventures because she realizes that he isn't what he seems.  Their romance blossoms and the author gives the reader a reminder of their first love, however there are several sex scenes in the book while not graphic I wouldn't want my young teen or teen reading the book.   I wish the author had created more of an adventure and less romance throughout the book, but that is only my opinion because I enjoy a good adventure and less romance.  I will however admit I did giggle like a school girl while reading the book several times.

I also wish the author made Robin more physically strong and able to take care of herself and less I fallen and I can't get up.  Several times Robin talks about being able to take care of herself or knowing where she was going but instead she is lost or falling into quicksand or off the side of a mountain.  I feel it would have made Robin a bit more believable as a thief, the leader of robbers, if she was able to take care of herself.  I read this book remembering it is a self -published young adult novel and while it isn't going to win Pulitzer prize I think the author gave a fun take on a very old story.  It is a love story for the young adult who might not be ready for a strong adult romance but do not want to be stuck reading Disney romance story either.

The author took lot of liberty in her choices of history, landscape and language used but at the same time it was an enjoyable teen\twenty something novel.  If you are looking for a quick summer romance with an adventure this book Royal Rebel is for you.

Thanks Heidi for this review.

Publisher: Published August 4th 2011 by SupernalFriends Publishing (first published 2009)
  ISBN: 2940013648593
  Copyright: 2009
  Pages: ebook -272 pages
  Quick Review: 4 stars (out of 5)-
  Why I Read It:  Purchased on my Kindle.

Synopsis:   Prepare ye for a lark as the Robin Hood legend is turned upside down in the award winning romance,
Dana Taylor

The King’s Secret Daughter

The secret daughter of King Richard the Lion-Hearted, Princess Robin leads her Merry Men against the tyrannical reign of Prince John. Feisty and fearless, Robin fights injustice as she awaits the return of her crusading father. Will he acknowledge his rustic, bandit daughter?

The King’s Spy

Arrogant knight extraordinaire, Sir Simon of Loxley returns to England as King Richard’s spy. Posing as a court jester, he encounters the formidable Princess Robin. Can such dominating personalities form an alliance? Will love overcome stubborn pride?

Filled with humor, adventure, color and romance, Princess Robin presents delightful twists to the beloved Sherwood tale. (Any historical accuracy is strictly coincidental.)

Note: Sexual content may be inappropriate for younger readers.
Image of Dana Taylor
Author Biography:  Dana Taylor writes stories to uplift the spirit. Her work as an energy healer influences her tales of flawed humans seeking spiritual and emotional healing. Believing laughter is the best medicine, her books include a good dose of humor. Born and raised in California, she graduated from the University of Redlands. She has been published in various magazines, including the Ladies Home Journal. She hosted the Internet radio program Definitely Dana! at and won various contests with the Romance Writers of America, including Best First Book from the Desert Quill Awards. Her published works include JAGUAR JACK, AIN'T LOVE GRAND?, DEVIL MOON: A MYSTIC ROMANCE, HOPE FOR THE HOLIDAYS and ROYAL REBEL. She's also published a non-fiction book entitled EVER-FLOWING STREAMS. a Finalist in the 2012 eFestival of Words Awards for Religion & Spirituality. She manages two blogs-- and Find her on twitter @bookluvinbabes @supernaldana

Other Reviews:

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Monday Musing Christmas Eve

We are missing our oldest son this Christmas Season...He is serving a mission in Antofagasta Chile.
We sent him with his gifts knowing how much it was to send packages to Chile.
He will be there for the next 22 months, serving and working with the people there.
This Christmas Eve all of our prays and good wishes go to him and the people he is serving.

Merry Christmas Eve to you all!!!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Saturday Evening Post - Contest

SEP new logo.jpgFOR RELEASE: December 17, 2012
Contact: Shawna Seldon
917 971 7852

The Saturday Evening Post Announces
Winner of First-Ever Great American Fiction Contest
Aspiring Author Joins Ranks of F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, and Kurt Vonnegut

Indianapolis (December 17, 2012)—Today The Saturday Evening Post proudly named Lucy Jane Bledsoe from Berkeley, Calif., as winner of its first Great American Fiction Contest for her story “Wolf”—one couple’s story about identifying with a community of wolf trackers and an awakening that changes their lives forever. Bledsoe’s winning submission will be published in the January/February 2013 issue of The Saturday Evening Post and on the magazine’s website.

Short_stories_book_cover.jpg“I am so honored to be included in the stream of awesome American fiction writers who have been published in The Saturday Evening Post,” said Lucy Jane Bledsoe, the 2013 Great American Fiction Contest winner. “The timing is wonderful for me as I’m finishing up some new projects. I’m really looking forward to the celebration events and to reading other stories in the magazine.”

Bledsoe’s idea for “Wolf” came from her own personal trip to Yellowstone Park, where she had the opportunity to observe the various wolf packs and the community of people who followed them. Bledsoe is simultaneously working on two novels. One takes place in the Bay Area during a devastating earthquake, and the other is a Cold War story about the first scientists to discover climate change. She is also planning to publish a collection of her short stories.
“The Post has always been dedicated to quality writing and this contest carries on the tradition of promoting an interest in fiction,” said Steven Slon, editorial director and associate publisher,The Saturday Evening Post. “We salute all the writers who entered this year with a special applause to Lucy and the finalists.”

Sponsored by the nonprofit Saturday Evening Post Society, the Great American Fiction Contest is designed to promote fiction and creative writing, while seeking America’s next great voices. The contest offers budding novelists the opportunity to join the ranks of other renowned Post contributors including F. Scott Fitzgerald; Dorothy Parker; William Faulkner; Agatha Christie; Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.; Ray Bradbury; Louis L’Amour; Sinclair Lewis; Jack London; Anne Tyler; and Edgar Allan Poe.

The winning story was chosen by The Saturday Evening Post editorial staff and the magazine’s fiction advisory board, which includes Michael Knight, Elizabeth McKenzie, Sally Shivnan and Gary Svee.

In addition to Bledsoe, six runners-up were selected [alphabetical order]:
·         P.J. Devlin, Fairfax, Va.—“The Decline and Fall”
·         Stephen G. Eoannou, Buffalo, N.Y.—“The Wolf Boy of Forest Lawn”
·         Andrew Hamilton, Lookout Mtn, Tenn.—“Surface Tension”
·         Cynthia J. McGean, Portland, Ore.—“The Battle of the Pewhasset Pie Palace”
·         Marvin Pletzke, Malden on Hudson, N.Y.—“Corner Room at the Y”
·         Caroline Zarlengo Sposto, Memphis, Tenn.—“The Conch Shell”

All of the recognized stories will be compiled in a collector’s edition paperback, Best Short Stories from The Saturday Evening Post Great American Fiction Contest 2013, offered for a limited time at $12.95 plus S&H. Order from or call 800-558-2376.

Bledsoe and the runners-up will be honored at a cocktail reception co-hosted by The Saturday Evening Post and Publishing Executiveat Michael’s New York on Tuesday, Jan. 8. For media credentials please contact Shawna Seldon at or 917 971 7852.

Entries for the 2014 Great American Fiction Contest are now being accepted. For more information please visit,


About The Saturday Evening Post: For nearly 300 years, The Saturday Evening Post has chronicled American history in the making—reflecting the distinctive characteristics and values that define the American way. Today’s Post continues the grand tradition of providing art, entertainment and information in a stimulating mix of idea-driven features, cutting-edge health and medical trends—plus fiction, humor, and laugh-out-loud cartoons. A key feature is the Post Perspective, which brings historical context to current issues and hot topics such as health care, religious freedom, education, and more.

Tracing its roots to Benjamin Franklin, The Saturday Evening Post mirrors cherished American ideals and values, most memorably illustrated by its iconic cover artist Norman Rockwell. The Post is also known for publishing such literary greats as Ray Bradbury, Agatha Christie, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edgar Allan Poe, J.D. Salinger, and Kurt Vonnegut, and continues to seek out and discover emerging writers of the 21st century. 

Headquartered in Indianapolis, the Post is a publication of the nonprofit Saturday Evening Post Society, which also publishes the award-winning youth magazines Turtle, Humpty Dumpty, and Jack and Jill.
As the nation changed, the Post changed, but it looks to its past as a fertile ground
for its future”
—Starkey Flythe, Jr, Former Post Executive Editor

Friday, December 21, 2012

Book Feature Friday - With Apologies to Mick Jagge, Other Gods, and All Women - Jane Rosenberg LaForge

Title:    With Apologies to Mick Jagger, Other Gods, and All Women
Author:  Jane Rosenberg LaForge  

Publisher:  Aldrich Press (August 27, 2012)
Copyright: 2012
Pages:  72
ISBN:    978-0615677002

Synopsis:   Like, as LaForge writes "the calculated wreckage through mirrors and poetry," there is a beauty and gruesomeness here that speaks boldly to all that listen. These poems are tightly woven, evocative portraits. And you will take notice, because there is a certain religious quality at work. A worship of words and schemas, a concise arc of time and evolution, each poem the body and the blood, a feeling of knowing that LaForge has a plan in mind for you. ~ Lisa Marie Basile
Jane Rosenberg LaForge's poems read like a catalogue of the curious. She creates not one but many worlds with deft language , stark images and a wide, gaping eye. Nothing is off limits as these poems tackle Putin, ankles, youth, teeth, Jagger, old age, sisterhood and other delights and vagaries of the living and the dead. Part mythology and fable, part prayer and dirge , part telescopic and up close and personal, these magnificent poems resonate, throb, and fairly hum with the the fascinating details of the way lives are lived. ~ Michelle Reale, author of four chapbook collections, and two-time Pushcart Prize nominee.
Synopsis Continued:
"With Apologies to Mick Jagger, Other Gods, and All Women'' is a
contemplation of hero worship, a phase of life, if not a life-long practice, that everyone experiences. Hero worship can take the form of the unreasonable yet inevitable yearnings of a teenage girl for her untouchable rock 'n' roll deities, or the respect she feels for the more important and
accessible goddesses--her relatives and other acquaintances--as she
matures. That first form of hero worship is "limbic, if not
automatic/the adrenalin of the instant/in front of rapt attention/
in front of girls,in front/of the opportunity to be/remembered
forever, as/if the ancestors have all/been jettisoned and worship/is
all about the present,'' as the opening poem, "Rock Star Watching,''

The other form is learned, if not more thoughtful; it is borne out of
the disappointment that aging and memory propagate: "the sum of the
universes in their/bloating and motion, the friction that
substitutes;/some day even my memory will deteriorate,'' as described
in the poem "To An Accomplished Ceramicist.'' The content of this kind
of hard-won admiration is an "improbable origami of time
and/proportions, where cats and thought/experiments confirm our
basic/ignorance....,'' as the poem, "My Sister's Face,'' states. By
recounting the different men she has longed for, and women she has
known, the poet sorts through the characteristics and qualities that
encompass what we consider godly in a time after myths and legends.
The small and the small writ improbably large are what constitutes
fame today, for such are the contents of "Facebook Status," a poem and
a report about the day's musings. The book concludes with "What
Remains:''  “Where there is not a broken heart / but a muscle rendered
blunt / into a numb instrument / there is a daughter.”
Author Biography:   

Contact Information:

151 West 17th Street #5H
New York, NY 10011

                                                                   AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY

       Jane Rosenberg LaForge was born and raised in Los Angeles. She earned her bachelor’s degree at UCLA and worked as a newspaper reporter in California, Maryland, and upstate New York before attending graduate school.
      She earned her Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she was a Delaney Fellow. She also worked as a research assistant to writer-in-residence Jay Neugeboren on two of his books on the health care system, Transforming Madness and Open Heart.
       In addition to publishing poetry, short stories, and personal essays, she is the author of three critical studies of African American literature: "Colson Whitehead: The Final Frontier,'' which appeared in Paradoxa; “Slavery’s Forgotten Legacy: James Baldwin and the Search for White Identity” on New York University’s Virtual Commons web site; and “The Civil Death of Mrs. Hedges and the Dilemma of Double Consciousness” in The Western Journal of Black Studies.
      Her two chapbooks of poetry are After Voices (2009) from Burning River of Cleveland; and Half-Life (2010) from Big Table Publishing Co. of Boston. She has been nominated for a Story South Million Writers Award; and twice for a Pushcart Prize, once for fiction and once for poetry. Her next work will be The Navigation of Loss, one of three winners in Red Ochre Press’ 2012 chapbook competition.
       She lives in New York with her husband, Patrick, an editor at The New York Times; their daughter, Eva; and Eva’s cat, Zeka.

Reviews:   The review which appeared in Boston Literary Magazine reads as follows:
With Apologies to Mick Jagger,  Other Gods and All Women
    by Jane Rosenberg LaForge
      Aldrich Press
We remember not with our anatomy,
but with our impulses; A precious
curtsy, the last cigarette, the grind
of ashes into wine and sand.

~ “Metaphor/Moth”

With a title like that, you expect sexy, steamy sass. At least I
did—I’ve been a fan of Jane Rosenberg LaForge for a few years, and
know her to be a mistress of imagery, insight and beautiful
mindfulness. But I wasn’t prepared for this melancholy LaForge, this
voice of sorrow, of bittersweet looking back. From poignant memories
of her parents, to watching her sister die, LaForge paints a
breathtaking picture of life’s Entirety with scenes that swing from a
hygiene-challenged lover to a slumber party to her own profile on
Facebook. Uh huh, it’s all here, and no, it’s not all pretty. But for
me, the final powerful line says it all: “Where there is not a broken
heart / but a muscle rendered blunt / into a numb instrument / there
is a daughter.” With Apologies is an explosion of emotions, both
grisly and exquisite.

The review which appeared in, known for its unusual
reviews, reads as follows:

With Apologies to Mick Jagger, Other Gods, and All Women
Jane Rosenberg LaForge
Aldrich Press
I cannot lock my front door in the morning without testing it at least
three times, because of my OCD, each time with a different hand
position, incantation or dance. Otherwise, because of my senility, all
the mornings of the last twenty plus years I have lived in this house
merge together, and after walking a block and a half, arguing with
myself, over whether I remember, I lose, and walk back to try again.
Nor can I leave without a 226 Press or Philadelphia Union cap, because
of my light sensitivity. And even with the hat, after all the handle
rattlings, mumbled obscenities and shuffling jigs, I have to wait on
the sidewalk, visually parsing the street because of my schizophrenia,
until all the colored lines and polygons assert themselves as
rowhouses, stores, trees, badly parked cars, and commuters waiting for
the buses in various stages of age and distress. Reading this
excellent book of poems constructed from grammatical sentences was
like walking straight out of the house to the corner, my head bare,
the front door probably open behind me. The structure is English, the
route across and down the page simple and expected, but the words, the
nouns especially, are twice removed from normal, the people are
intemporal, I am uneasily convinced there is something between the
words I have forgotten that needs checking, and I am squinting as I
read. "It is youth that keeps you pale and concerned about the smaller
buzzing parts, the soil and the pinecones there, and the grace between
fists and teacups."

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Book Review - Into the Darkest Corner - Elizabeth Haynes

Into the Darkest Corner

Title: Title: Into the Darkest Corner

Review:  Here is what the book did well.  It was a nice portrayal of how Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) works, especially as a coping mechanism for trauma.  Plus its separation of OCD and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was nicely explained and demonstrated by the lead character Cathy.  Essentially it clearly showed how an individual with OCD tendencies could lose control of their life when subjected to a vicious long term attack.  

Too often we would look at those exhibiting OCD symptoms and wonder why they just don’t knock it off (They door is locked already).   Mrs. Haynes wonderfully opens up this world of compulsion and the need for safety that is beyond their control.  How they are always seeking comfort and security, and how they wish they could just leave it more than you do.

The other thing I really liked was the reliance of friendship and support.  When Lee (the villain) was able to infiltrate Cathy’s closest friends and sow the seeds of doubts, she became more and more isolated.  This allowed Lee to gain more power over her life, cutting off all avenues of escape.  It wasn’t till many years later through the friendship of her neighbor was she able to start her recovery.  When times get tough it is our relationships that will get us through.  We need others for support and love when life doesn’t work out.  That is why it is important to just be there for our friends when they are suffering, not necessarily to provide solutions, but just to listen.

As a point of personal preference the author told two different timelines in alternating chapters.  We see Cathy as she gets involved with Lee paired with Cathy 4 years later in recovery.  This style worked but I would rather have had a part one and two, but as I said that is not a knock on the book; it is just what I like.  I supposed the advantage is we got to see the parallel of Cathy going from a free spirit to a mentally destroyed individual with a traumatized victim gaining her inner-strength back.  Clever, but a little to much in your face for me.

Finally I thing a PTSD/OCD challenged girl just happens to have a trained psychologist move into her upstairs apartment just when she is ready for recovery was a little to convenient for the plot.  It detracted from the tension the author was presented with the rest of the book.  Anotherwords it was hard to get into the serious darkness of the plot when a metaphorical flashlight was right there.

Overall an excellent first novel that kept me entertained.  I very much look forward to Mrs. Haynes sophomore effort.

ISBN: 978-0-06-219725-2
Copyright: 2011
Pages: 403
Quick Review: 3.75 stars out of 5
Why I Read It: I will always read an English crime book, and this was in large print too (it makes me feel like a speed reader)
Where I Obtained the Book: At my local library.

Synopsis: Catherine Bailey has been enjoying the single life long enough to know a catch when she sees one. Gorgeous, charismatic and spontaneous, Lee seems almost too perfect to be true. And her friends clearly agree, as each in turn falls under his spell.

But what begins as flattering attentiveness and passionate sex turns into raging jealousy, and Catherine soon learns there is a darker side to Lee. His increasingly erratic, controlling behaviour becomes frightening, but no one believes her when she shares her fears. Increasingly isolated and driven into the darkest corner of her world, a desperate Catherine plans a meticulous escape.

Four years later, Lee is behind bars and Catherine--now Cathy--compulsively checks the locks and doors in her apartment, trusting no one. But when an attractive upstairs neighbour, Stuart, comes into her life, Cathy dares to hope that happiness and love may still be possible . . . until she receives a phone call informing her of Lee's impending release. Soon after, Cathy thinks she catches a glimpse of the former best friend who testified against her in the trial; she begins to return home to find objects subtly rearranged in her apartment, one of Lee's old tricks. Convinced she is back in her former lover's sights, Cathy prepares to wrestle with the demons of her past for the last time.

Utterly convincing in its portrayal of obsession, Into the Darkest corner is an ingeniously structured and plotted tour de force of suspense that marks the arrival of a major new talent.
Picture of me  
Author Biography: Elizabeth Haynes grew up in Seaford, Sussex and studied English, German and Art History at Leicester University.

She currently works as a police intelligence analyst and lives in Kent with her husband and son.

Other Reviews:

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Book Review - Something Red - Douglas Nicholas

Something Red
Title: Something Red

Author: Douglas Nicholas

Review: The author spent a lot of energy developing the characters and describing the world which they inhabited.  By the end of the book you really cared about these fully threshed out 3 dimensional people.  Unfortunately that would have been fine in a massive multi-book epic saga, but in a relatively short 300 page book it came with a cost, and that was action.  It took quite a while to even figure out what was going on, let alone to get into the story.  We start with a group of travelers just going down a road in winter, meeting other travelers.  That is it for the longest time.

Finally when the action does arrive it is very good, and when I figured out what exactly what was going on (as the synopsis states – they are being stalked by something terrible) I was fully into it.  The writer is obviously very talented, but he created the the Lord of the Rings with the page count of the Hobbit.  This book could have been cut down tremendously, or (and my vote) it should have been a 3 book, 1000 page tome to be enjoyed over time.

In the end this was a nice story, but I was disappointed at such phenomenal character development to be over so abruptly, especially after we got to see them do so little.  I look forward to future efforts by this author to see if he strikes a better balance.

ISBN: 978-1-4516-6007-4
Copyright: 2010
Pages: 315
Quick Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Why I Read It: I really respect the publisher as this style book typically isn’t in my wheelhouse.
Where I Obtained the Book: Sent to me by the publisher for review

Synopsis: From debut author Douglas Nicholas comes a haunting story of love, murder, and sorcery. During the thirteenth century in northwest England, in one of the coldest winters in living memory, a formidable yet charming Irish healer, Molly, and the troupe she leads are driving their three wagons, hoping to cross the Pennine Mountains before the heavy snows set in. Molly, her lover Jack, granddaughter Nemain, and young apprentice Hob become aware that they are being stalked by something terrible. The refuge they seek in a monastery, then an inn, and finally a Norman castle proves to be an illusion. As danger continues to rise, it becomes clear that the creature must be faced and defeated—or else they will all surely die. It is then that Hob discovers how much more there is to his adopted family than he had realized.

An intoxicating blend of fantasy and mythology, Something Red presents an enchanting world full of mysterious and fascinating characters— shapeshifters, sorceresses, warrior monks, and knights—where no one is safe from the terrible being that lurks in the darkness. In this extraordinary, fantastical world, nothing is as it seems, and the journey for survival is as magical as it is perilous.

 Douglas Nicholas
Author Biography:  Douglas Nicholas is an award-winning poet whose work has appeared in numerous publications, among them Atlanta Review, Southern Poetry Review, Sonora Review, Circumference, A Different Drummer, and Cumberland Review, as well as the South Coast Poetry Journal, where he won a prize in that publication's Fifth Annual Poetry Contest.

Other awards include Honorable Mention in the Robinson Jeffers Tor House Foundation 2003 Prize For Poetry Awards, second place in the 2002 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards from PCCC, International Merit Award in Atlanta Review's Poetry 2002 competition, finalist in the 1996 Emily Dickinson Award in Poetry competition, honorable mention in the 1992 Scottish International Open Poetry Competition, first prize in the journal Lake Effect's Sixth Annual Poetry Contest, first prize in poetry in the 1990 Roberts Writing Awards, and finalist in the Roberts short fiction division.

He was also recipient of an award in the 1990 International Poetry Contest sponsored by the Arvon Foundation in Lancashire, England, and a Cecil B. Hackney Literary Award for poetry from Birmingham-Southern College. He lives in New York City and the Hudson Valley with his wife, Theresa, and Yorkshire terrier, Tristan.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Book Review - Driving the Saudis - Jayne Amelia Larson

Driving the Saudis: A Chauffeur's Tale of the World's Richest Princesses (plus their servants, nannies, and one royal hairdresser)

Title:    Driving the Saudis

Review: On the cover of this book is the note “a Chauffeur’s Tale of the World’s Richest Princesses” and that explains the whole book, it was a total waste of time.

I started the book thinking it might just be interesting seeing how the other half lives.  It was not interesting for a lot of reasons but one is the writing was so poor, the language was not necessary to get the point across, but used for shock value, and the story wandered all over the map.  If you have lots of time on your hands with nothing, and I mean nothing to do, pick up this book, it is better than solitaire, but not by much!  I give this book 0 out of 5.

Thanks Eileen for this review.

Publisher:  Published October 16th 2012 by FreePress
Copyright: 2012
Pages:  224
ISBN:    9781451640014
Quick Review:  0 stars out of 5
Why did I read this title:  Sent from the publisher for review.

Synopsis:   Actress, producer, and occasional chauffeur Jayne Amelia Larson offers a funny and insightful memoir about the time she spent as a driver for members of the Saudi royal family visiting Beverly Hills, detailing her invitation inside one of the world’s most closely guarded monarchies.
When the Saudi royal family vacationed in Los Angeles, they hired Jayne Amelia Larson, an actress struggling to make ends meet, to be their personal chauffeur. She’d heard stories of the Saudis’ outrageously generous gratuities and figured that several weeks at their beck and call might be worth her time. But when the family arrived via their private jet with an entourage of forty and millions of dollars in cash, Jayne Amelia realized she might be getting into more than she bargained for.
For weeks, Larson observed the family’s opulent lifestyle: they occupied four luxury hotels, enjoyed day in and day out shopping binges, and servants catered 24/7 to Princess Zaahira and her entourage. From the thirteen-year-old princess who slapped down $100 dollar bills at a supermarket and didn’t bother to wait for her change to the nanny who ran away in the airport the moment she was handed her passport, the stories Larson shares are bizarre, poignant, and illustrative of the profound contradictions and complications that only such massive wealth can create.
Driving the Saudis, based on the author’s successful one-woman stage show, is a vivid portrait of the Saudi royals as few ever get to see them. As funny as it is insightful, this is a true-to-life fable for our times. But at its heart, it’s a story about the corruption that infinite wealth creates, and about what we all do for money.
Author Biography:  Jayne Amelia Larson is an actress and independent film producer based in Los Angeles, and has also been an occasional chauffeur between gigs. She has degrees from Cornell University and from Harvard University’s American Repertory Theatre Institute. Her one-woman show, Driving the Saudis, has been performed in Memphis, Ithaca, Boston, Roanoke, and Vienna (Austria), and won Best Solo Show at the 2010 New York Fringe Festival.  She is one of ten children and is an excellent driver. 

Disclaimer for all reviews sent by the publisher, publicist or author for review.