Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Book Review - 1Q84 - Haruki Murakami

Title:  1IQ84

Review: This doorstop of a book could actually be used as a weapon; at 925 densely written pages it is that big.  I will say from the start it is the reason I gave it a four instead of a five because it is an intimidating book to wade through if you do not have a relationship with the author’s work already. You have to have the commitment coming into it.

1Q84 is a parallel universe that is extremely close to ours: just tweaked.  Our two protagonists, Tengo and Aomame, have a chance encounter when they are ten years old, which forges a love that cannot be fulfilled elsewhere.  They spend the next twenty years travelling through life just getting by emotionally, taking the path of least resistance and never fully engaging with the world.  Their life purpose was introduced to them and everything else pales when compared to it.

In the end, this book was a love story for me. Two lost souls looking for that which would complete them, and when they would not go to the mountain – Aomame chooses to wait until life happens to her (that she would just run into Tengo), and Tengo settles for good enough and pretends he is happy – the universe decides to bring the mountain to them.  Their paths are set up to cross once again. This is hampered by Ushikawa, the third POV character and for me, the personal demon of the heroes. For Tengo he offers money, and then conversely loss just to keep the status quo.  For Aomame he brings sorry and threats into her life; to be exposed insomuch she resorts to hiding herself away from life altogether. 

All the supporting cast seem to be offering distractions, stumbling blocks, or just plain outs to keep them from their destinies, from happiness.  The ghost of Tengo’s father keeps is an exception. He keeps showing up on their respective doorsteps to accuse them of ultimately being disingenuous, to let them know he is not fooled by their carefully crafted lies of fulfillment.

So what does that mean for us the reader?  Are you living a happy life? Are you fulfilled, striving to find your purpose?  Destiny is what we make it and more often than not the one thing that holds us back is our own fears.  You do not need anyone’s permission to be awesome.  Somewhere out there is our own 2Q12, a universe in which we face our fears and be little more honest, a little braver.  A universe where we overcome ourselves and find the happiness that is within all of us, just waiting to enjoyed.

As I said in the beginning, a 5 star review reflects the quality of the story, the beauty of the writing, and the accessibility of the work to an average reader.  Murakami hits the first two out of the park, but he is one of those writers you really do have to work up to, and 1Q84 is a Master’s level course.  If you have never read him before I would recommend one of his earlier works like Norwegian Wood or Sputnik Sweetheart.  But definitely put this book on your read before I die list, because ultimately it is not to be missed.  It is Murakami at his best.

Thank you T Stevens for this review.

Publisher: AlfredA. Knopf

ISBN: 978-0-307-59331-3

Copyright: 2011

Pages: 925

Quick Review: 4 stars (out of 5)

Why I Read It: I started with Murakami several years ago looking for Japanese literature.  He is really good and I have stuck with him ever since.

Where I got the book:  I requested my local library order it and they did – Yeah for libraries!

Synopsis: Murakami is like a magician who explains what he's doing as he performs the trick and still makes you believe he has supernatural powers . . . But while anyone can tell a story that resembles a dream, it's the rare artist, like this one, who can make us feel that we are dreaming it ourselves. - The New York Times Book Review The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo. A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver's enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 -Q is for question mark. A world that bears a question. Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled. As Aomame's and Tengo's narratives converge over the course of this single year, we learn of the profound and tangled connections that bind them ever closer: a beautiful, dyslexic teenage girl with a unique vision; a mysterious religious cult that instigated a shoot-out with the metropolitan police; a reclusive, wealthy dowager who runs a shelter for abused women; a hideously ugly private investigator; a mild-mannered yet ruthlessly efficient bodyguard; and a peculiarly insistent television-fee collector. A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell's- 1Q84 is Haruki Murakamirs's most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers.
Haruki Murakami
Author Biography: Author Haruki Murakami was born on January 12, 1949 in Kyoto, Japan, and most of his youth was spent in Kobe. Murakami's parents both taught Japanese literature. Murakami studied at Tokyo's Waseda University. He opened a coffeehouse/jazz bar in the capital called Peter Cat with his wife, Yoko. He later turned to writing full time following the publication of his first novel in 1979, Hear the Wind Sing. Murakami received national recognition for Norwegian Wood and is considered by many to be an important figure in postmodern literature. His fiction is described as humorous and surreal, and the themes of alienation and loneliness are often present in his works. Several of his stories have been adapted for the stage and as films. Murakami has also written nonfiction, including works dealing with the Aum Shinrikyo subway gas attack, as well as a collection of essays about his marathon and triathlon experiences, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. He has translated into Japanese literature written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Raymond Carver, Truman Capote, John Irving, and Paul Theroux. Murakami has received numerous literary awards, including the Franz Kafka Prize for his novel Kafka on the Shore and the Yomiuri Prize for The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. In January 2009 Murakami received the Jerusalem Prize. His title 1Q84 made Publisher's Weekly best seller list for 2011. (Bowker Author Biography)

Other Reviews:

Amazon permanent review link.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday in my Mailbox

Monday in my mailbox....what's in yours?
A Sound Among the TreesA house shrouded in time. 
A line of women with a heritage of loss.
As a young bride, Susannah Page was rumored to be a Civil War spy for the North, a traitor to her Virginian roots. Her great-granddaughter Adelaide, the current matriarch of Holly Oak, doesn’t believe that Susannah’s ghost haunts the antebellum mansion looking for a pardon, but rather the house itself bears a grudge toward its tragic past.
When Marielle Bishop marries into the family and is transplanted from the arid west to her husband’s home, it isn’t long before she is led to believe that the house she just settled into brings misfortune to the women who live there.
With Adelaide’s richly peppered superstitions and deep family roots at stake, Marielle must sort out the truth about Susannah Page and Holly Oak— and make peace with the sacrifices she has made for love.    Sent for review.
Beyond Molasses CreekThree lives are bound by a single book . . . and the cleansing waters of Molasses Creek. 

Having traveled to the ends of the earth as a flight attendant, Ally Green has finally returned to the Lowcountry to bury her father as well as the past. But Vesey Washington is still living across the creek, and theirs is a complicated relationship--he was once her best friend . . . and also part of the reason she's stayed away so long. When Ally discovers a message her father left behind asking her to quit running, it seems her past isn't through with her yet. 

As Ally's wandering spirit wrestles with a deep longing to flee again, a young woman on the other side of the world escapes her life of slavery in the rock quarries of Nepal. A mysterious sketchbook leads Sunila Kunari to believe there's more to her story than she's ever been told, and she's determined to follow the truth wherever it leads her. 

A deep current intertwines the lives of these three souls, and a destiny of freedom, faith, and friendship awaits them all on the banks of Molasses Creek.   Sent for review.
ScammerJeff Mendelson's world is turned upside down when his Ponzi scheme is discovered by his investors and they seek revenge. He is in a race against time as he and his friend Mark venture off to secure the money he's been hiding in order to secure his future before he is finally caught. Along the way he runs into other shady people who know what he is hiding and want a piece of the action. All types of villains come out of the woodwork as Jeff battles to save himself from his own mistakes and greed. Scammer is a fast paced, suspenseful story, packed with twists and turns in every chapter.  Sent for review.
3 books at the local library....Eve....Quinn and .....Bonnie all by Iris Johansen...I had to know what happened to Bonnie....now I do!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

We are no longer posting on Sunday's until further notice.

We all have lots going on and for the next few months we will be leaving Sunday without a post.
Go read or go have some fun.
Happy Sunday to all of you out there.
We will post on Sunday every so often if needed.  Thanks

I wanted to add that during the last week when I work-out I have been watching an old
Mini-series of Pride and Prejudice.  I love that book.  It has to be one of my all time favorites.
I was thinking of reading it again, but that would be number 11 or so...
Instead I think I will read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
Any others I should read?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Have a Great Weekend

Hopefully when the room is finished it will be wonderful
because right now it is anything but.
Happy Reading!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Blog Hop Young Adult Giveaway January 27th - 31st - Win The End of Dominion - Kathleen Bullock

Win a copy of End of Dominion, my review here, by Kathleen Bullock.  To enter just follow the blog someway, Networked Blogs, GFC or Twitter, then comment with how you follow.  2 extra entries if you go visit the authors web page here and add to the comment one thing you learned about her or her writing.  Also 1 extra entry for watching the trailer and commenting about something there.  Easy and so worth it.

Entries begin on the 27th of and end at midnight on the 31st.  Good Luck to you all.  This is a good YA book.  If you can't wait to see if you're a winner go purchase the book here.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Book Review - The Redemption of Holly Dobson - C. Lynn Barton

The Redemption of Holly Dobson
Title:    The Redemption of Holly Dobson

Author:  C. Lynn Barton

Review:    I really do not know what to think about this book, it was way beyond strange and I only finished reading it because it was in the car and it was the only book I had to read while waiting for the kids after school. I would never have finished it otherwise, but I get bored waiting and one of the kids likes to play on the playground for a good 1/2 hour after school is out...lots of time to read then.

Strange story with strange people and strange experiences also lots of strange killings and strange deaths. I wondered if maybe Holly was just mentally ill and dreamed all of this up and the author would tell the reader that at the end, but no. It is a weird story with very little transition between years, places and themes. Holly is evil and good and yet evil and yet good all at the same time. The dialog is stilted and jumpy but the story is the same. There is little to no flow and I felt at times my brain was being sucked out of my skull while reading this. But then again I did keep reading it.

I really cannot say a good thing about this book, it didn't make much sense and even at the end I really am not sure what was going on or went on for that matter. Murder, living forever, angels, gypsies, cave dwellers, wealth, poverty, gambling, farming, lots of sex, evil, devil, God, vampires, werewolves, pedophiles, priests, popes, foster parents, cell phone that tell people what to do and they do it, this book is so strange and I really didn't care for it and like I said I really don't understand what I just read...not any of it besides the part about her willingness to do anything for her family. But even with that she went way over the top...believe me...she did.

Maybe if this was a story you went and listened to in person, maybe it would have made more sense... storytellers really need to be heard and enjoyed live. All I can really say is that this book was strange...and not in a good way.

Publisher:  Published September 30th 2010 by Dark Willow Books

Copyright: 2010

Pages:  252…a long 252

ISBN: 9780615349411

Quick Review:  1 Stars out of 5. 

Why I Read it:  The author was looking for reviewers to read this book.

Where I Obtained the Book:  Sent by the author.

Synopsis:  Holly Dobson possesses an understated benevolent evilness. She is relentlessly driven by her unbreakable sense of family values. Holly acts with remorseless conviction to protect her own regardless of the consequences. Her only son is a demonic, charismatic, and curiously engaging being. The quintessential evil which George Dobson personifies sets Holly on a path that spans continents, decades, and the landscape of her very soul. Along the way, Holly discovers her purpose and finds redemption as a mother, a woman, lover, and ultimately something more than a mere human being.
C. Lynn Barton
Author Biography: 
C. Lynn Barton (Storyteller) was born in Houston, Texas and adopted by her parents. Growing up was not without its challenges. She was on a constant search for identity and purpose. It was this pursuit of self which drove her to become a special education teacher of students with behavioral disabilities. While working as a teacher, her passion for storytelling evolved into something she wanted to do professionally. Writers like Shirley Jackson inspired her to use short stories to comment on the ills of society and demonstrate the complexities of human behavior. However, it is her resounding belief that all of humanity has enough goodness to always triumph over adversity and hardship.

Horror is her favorite genre to read and it became the best outlet for the characters which haunted her to listen to their stories. She has the rare ability to conceptualize her stories from beginning to end before writing the first word. C. Lynn says the characters tell the tales and she is blessed to write down what they need to say. Horror has also allowed her the opportunity to use fear as a catalyst for fostering what she hopes will assist someone in the betterment of their personal humanity. She believes her tales are entertaining and cautionary musings about living. Writing is an art form by which she can explore and relate to others the real life horror that impacts us all.

C. Lynn does not identify herself as an author or writer. She prefers to describe herself as a storytelling artist. The most important aspect of her tales is how someone feels after a story is read. She seeks emotionality from the characters and says she will write as long as they continue to talk. Her writing has been described as positively unique.

Many of C. Lynn's family members and friends will claim that she is the most interesting person they've ever met. With an uncanny intuitive ability, they've said she always knows what to say in the right time and in the best place. Once you've read one of her tales, it is easy to become hooked on the writings of this masterful storyteller. It is C. Lynn’s goal that every reader of her tales knows a little more about themselves after reading her writings.

C. Lynn Barton is a storyteller of true to life horror or things that can go terribly bad. She writes these cautionary tales to suggest that anything is possible in the life of a human being. It is her opinion that the horror genre can be used to solicit fear and entertain. C.Lynn utilizes it to show that anything can go wrong at anytime and in anyone's life. After all, most human beings are doing their best to live a good life. Her tales often include aspects of recovery from difficulty, emancipation, womanhood, and empowerment. She wouldn't claim to be all knowing. However, it brings her immense joy to show every person just how strong, nurturing, intelligent, and proud we all can be. It is her opinion that humanity is made of strength and endurance just because we are the only one's who can usher another living human soul unto the plant we call Earth.

As an intuitive guide and life coach, she occasionally writes poetic reflections on life and daily living, but she wouldn't describe herself as a poet. Her musings are rhythmic reflections on any given topic. At least, that is how she sees it. Although writing is something she enjoys, it is her gift and ability to understand humanity and human nature which drives the writing.

I realized my intuitive ability as a young child. It was very easy for me to determine situations and circumstances before they occurred. I didn’t look for the information as it was something I simply knew to be true.

My knowledge is particularly accurate in regards to the personal lives of individuals. I am drawn to their personal struggles for which I simply know how to help someone manage it. I don’t know why I was given this ability. However, I’ve given advice to family, friends, and strangers on just about every topic that could come to mind. In the past, I was reluctant to share my gift with anyone who needed it, but I had to eventually accept my path which is always intertwined with my existence.

For a very long time, I have thought everyone had my ability even if it was somehow untapped. I continue to believe it is true for most human beings who’ve remained close to the voice of our universe.

C. Lynn Barton is a wife and mother of two young children. She resides in Chicago.

Other Reviews:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Book Review - Amongst My Enemies - William F Brown

Happy Birthday Heidi!!!!
Amongst My Enemies
Title:  Amongst My Enemies

Review:   This is a great story about after WW II and human condition.  We are introduced to Mike Randall, the unlikely hero of the story, and we are taken on his journey to right the wrongs created by the war.  The author has created a very broken man who you feel for and only want him to find peace.  You also meet other amazing characters from the SS Officer Heinz Kruger to the old Viking Einar Person. When the story starts we see Mike and his best friend Eddie working in the bitter cold forced labor camps in Konigsber, slowly dying.  After  Eddie's death,  Mike vows revenge for his best friend.  We read how Mike escapes and ends up on a U-Boat where the adventure begins.  After years of Mike struggling with survivor's guilt, he finally goes back to the United States to Eddie's home and there we meet two very lovable characters. Eddie's good Old Southern Dad and his very outspoken sister Leslie. Mike helps the family out and slowly falls in love with Leslie, but than a turn of events take him away from Leslie and off to NYC.  At this point in the book I was worried it would turn into a romance, but thankfully the author stays true to the characters and Mike is still trying to deal with his survival guilt.

When Mike arrives in New York City, the action picks up and the author makes sure you don't want to put the book down.  We are again introduced to several characters but this is when the book start to feel really modern with the chase and escape scenes.  After doing my own research I learned everything the author wrote was true to the time. I had no idea in WWII silencers were used on pistols.  Amazing what you can learn when reading a book of fiction.

The adventures continue to Sweden and the search for the U-Boat.  Everyone is after the boat and its treasure it might hold. I personally feel this is where it is easy to get a little bored as the author jumped back and forth between several different characters.  Even good books have their slow parts and the jumping back and forth between Mike, his story, and than to the Russians slowed the pace of the book down a little.  Again the author brings us one the most evil characters in this book, the SS Officer Heinz Kruger, who even scared me and I wasn't sure who would live and who would die.   At some points in the book I wanted to yell at Mike and say "How can you not tell he's evil?!"

The book ends with Mike taking his revenge and the reader can only hope he finally found his peace and can become a new man.

This book was a fast paced thriller and kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. I couldn't put it down so if you are someone who loves intrigue, fast paced adventures this novel is perfect for you.  I completely enjoyed this read from beginning to end and I'm grateful I had the chance to read it.  I can't wait to read more from this author.

Thanks for this wonderful review Heidi.

Publisher: Published December 12th 2011


Copyright: 2011

Pages: Kindle Edition

Quick Review: 5 stars (out of 5)

Why I Read It:  Sent by the author for review to our reviewer Heidi.

Synopsis: Inside an old German U-Boat rusting on the bottom of the Baltic are millions in gold bars, stolen art, and a secret that could tear NATO apart. The only one who knows the truth is Mike Randall, a battle-scarred American who survived four months in the frozen Hell of northern Germany at the end of the war. When he does speak up, he puts a target on his own forehead, one which the Russians, the West Germans, the U-boat's former owners, the Israeli Mossad, and even his own government quickly take aim at. Some want the gold, some want him dead, and some want proof about a high-ranking spy inside NATO itself. Randall's wants are much simpler. Caught between the Kremlin and a new, deadly, 4th Reich, he wants revenge and to satisfy some old debts with a steel-jacketed bullet.

Author Biography: I'm the author of 6 mystery and suspense novels, and 4 award-winning screenplays. Amongst My Enemies is my second e-book. It is a fast-paced Cold War adventure filled with international intrigue, espionage, revenge, and an old German U-boat filled with a fortune in gold bars, treasure, and a secret that will tear NATO apart.

The Undertaker, my first e-book, is a snarky, fun, fast-paced domestic thriller with a slug of humor, romance, and stark terror! Someone with a sharp scalpel and an embalming table is planting bodies und other people's names. If Pete Talbott doesn't stop them, he'll be next on the list. Published in February 2011, it has already garnered 16 Five-Star and 13 Four-Star book reviews.

Thursday at Noon is a Joan Kahn Book published by St. Martin's Press in hardback, in paperback by Harlequin's Gold Eagle, and in various foreign editions. It is set in Egypt in 1962 and deals with murder, espionage, an Army coup, and new rockets aimed at the heart of Israel. Reviewed favorably in the "New Yorker" and other major publications, it will be released as an e-book in early 2012. Beaufort Books published my first novel, The Allah Conspiracy in hardback. It deals with international terrorism and an attempt to kill the President, and will also be released as an e-book in 201, as will Winner Lose All, a new international suspense novel set in the closing months of WWII, as one war winds down and all eyes are on the next one. As alliances begin to shift, old enemies become tomorrow's friends, and everyone wants their piece of the revolutionary new German weapons technologies.

In addition to the novels, I've written four award-winning screenplays. They have won First Place in the suspense category of the Final Draft contest, Finalist in Fade In, First Place in the Screenwriter's Utopia -Screenwriter's Showcase Awards, Second Place in the American Screenwriter's Association, Second Place at Breckenridge, and others. One was optioned.

A native of Chicago, I live in Columbus Ohio and occasionally escapes the keyboard with landscape painting and golf. My wife and travel widely in Russia, Italy, Germany, the Caribbean, England, Ireland, Scotland, eastern Europe, Egypt, and Israel.

Other Reviews:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Book Review - Why Cafe - John P Strelecky

The Why Cafe Book
Title:  TheWhy Cafe

Review:   I loved this book, I have to say that it really made me want to know why I’m here and what I can do with the time I have left.  This is not a religious book, it is a philosophical book.  Why?   Why?  Why are we here?  Where are we going and what can we do with the time we have every day?  Ever asked yourself any of these questions?  I sure have and wow I really enjoyed what the author had to say in these few pages.

If you have an hour to spare read this book, you will be better for it after the hour is over.  It is something to find a book that makes you feel like doing something better when you get finished reading it.  This book has the power to change everyone who reads it.  Give up an hour and WOW you will be shocked what you will learn about yourself and the world around you.

Publisher:  Published January 3rd 2011 by Aspen Light Publishing (first published March 21st 2006)

ISBN: 9780974362069

Copyright: 2006

Pages: 144

Quick Review: 5  stars (out of 5)

Why I Read It:  I won this on Goodreads First-reads.

Synopsis: The inspirational #1 Bestseller by John P. Strelecky. Now translated into twenty-one languages and read by more than a million readers worldwide. In a small cafe at a location so remote it sits in the middle of the middle of nowhere, John--a man in a hurry--is at a crossroads. Intent only on refueling before moving along on his road trip, he finds sustenance of an entirely different kind. In addition to the specials of the day, the cafe menu lists three questions all diners are encourage to consider.
Why are you here?

Do you fear death?
Are you fulfilled.

With this food for thought and the guidance of three people he meets at the cafe, John embarks on a journey of self-discovery that takes him from the executive suites of the advertising world to the surf of Hawaii's coastline. Along the way he discovers a new way to look at life, himself, and just how much you can learn from a green sea turtle.

The Alchemist for the 21st Century...- RBA Libros, Spain

 About John
Author Biography: John was recently honored alongside Oprah Winfrey, Lance Armstrong, Deepak Chopra, and Tom Peters as one of the 100 Most Influential Thought Leaders in the field of leadership and personal development.

In the field of inspiration, John has had the pleasure of speaking alongside Nobel Peace Prize nominees and award winning philanthropists, and share his learnings.

In the business arena he has provided guidance to leaders around the world regarding what great leadership is and how it drives profitability.

Other Reviews: 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday in my Mailbox

What was in your mailbox?  I hope it was something good.

The Why CafeThe inspirational #1 Bestseller by John P. Strelecky. Now translated into twenty-one languages and read by more than a million readers worldwide. In a small cafe at a location so remote it sits in the middle of the middle of nowhere, John--a man in a hurry--is at a crossroads. Intent only on refueling before moving along on his road trip, he finds sustenance of an entirely different kind. In addition to the specials of the day, the cafe menu lists three questions all diners are encourage to consider.
Why are you here?
Do you fear death?
Are you fulfilled.
With this food for thought and the guidance of three people he meets at the cafe, John embarks on a journey of self-discovery that takes him from the executive suites of the advertising world to the surf of Hawaii's coastline. Along the way he discovers a new way to look at life, himself, and just how much you can learn from a green sea turtle.  Sent for review.
The Lost Memoirs of Jane AustenBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
You don't have to be a Jane Austen expert to enjoy this book. You just need
to be in the mood for a page-turning, romantic story filled with warm
characters, great passions, enjoyable language, and a terrific plot. And
it's to James's credit that her novel reads a lot like -- what else? -- a classic
Austen novel.  Sent for Christmas from my sister Heidi.
Killing Time: An Eliza Gordon Mystery (The Eliza Gordon Mysteries)Welcome to Goodship, New York. The sleepy suburban hamlet harbors a terrible secret. A secret that may be at the heart of two murders.Twenty-five years after the “big game” and the requisite homecoming party, Goodship's secret begins to haunt its otherwise comfortable residents. When the first murder is reported, the townsfolk are warned, but take no action. When town landmarks are vandalized, residents are aghast. And, when an attempt is made on a local hero's life, the town mobilizes, especially former soap star(and now proprietor of the favorite lunch spot) Eliza Gordon and her pal and local radio personality Midge Sumner. When the prime suspect turns up dead, Eliza and Midge mobilize to solve the murders and catch the real perpetrator.The clues are all there. Fans of "Murder She Wrote," Leslie Meier's Lucy Stone mysteries and Laura Lippman's Tess Monaghan series will enjoy following the clues and taking their best shot at helping Eliza Gordon figure out: “Who is doing more in Goodship than just Killing Time?”  Sent for review.
Amongst My EnemiesInside an old German U-Boat rusting on the bottom of the Baltic are millions in gold bars, stolen art, and a secret that could tear NATO apart. The only one who knows the truth is Mike Randall, a battle-scarred American who survived four months in the frozen Hell of northern Germany at the end of the war. When he does speak up, he puts a target on his own forehead, one which the Russians, the West Germans, the U-boat’s former owners, the Israeli Mossad, and even his own government quickly take aim at. Some want the gold, some want him dead, and some want proof about a high-ranking spy inside NATO itself. Randall’s wants are much simpler. Caught between the Kremlin and a new, deadly, 4th Reich, he wants revenge and to satisfy some old debts with a steel-jacketed bullet.  Sent for review.
Honor & EntropyTelly Brensen longs for his father, missing since WWII, and despises his mother’s suitors; and when her priceless ring disappears, this ignites his long smoldering rage. He hunts down the ring, maiming the thug who has it; and even though this frees a man wrongfully imprisoned for taking it, he is prosecuted into choosing between the Marines or jail. His choice lands him in Vietnam, where he carries out an act of extraordinary valor. This time, though, a gunfight with a jealous NCO turns a Medal of Honor nomination into a dishonorable discharge. Four years later, with reasons to live fading fast, Telly gets a tip concerning his father. He tracks down old friend Arthur Spevak, solicits him for backup, and sets off alone…for Borneo.

Unknown to Telly, Spevak is a tormented soul in his own right. Once orphaned, a sense of worthlessness sabotages his every attempt at romance, and in desperation, he, too, joins the Marines. When sent to Vietnam, though, anger at the world for driving him to such measures will not abate, and he becomes a notorious rogue – until the death of a brave friend sends him home with new self-loathing. By the time Telly finds him, he is living on a Chinese mountainside, alone, aimless, and broke. Now since they never crossed paths in the war, each is ignorant of the other’s disgrace, and they make an awkward pact. Then Telly vanishes, and Spevak reluctantly picks up the trail, unaware of how far the journey will one day take him.  Sent for review.
Everblossom: A Short Story and Poetry AnthologyAn anthology that will quench your thirst for more than the ordinary. 

Everblossom is a journey through poems and short stories that may seem ordinary on the surface but dig a little deeper and the world not only shifts. It changes. 

From the author who brought you Iwishacana/Acanawishi, she now brings you a dash of everything from dark fantasy to the paranormal to even romance. So prepare yourself to delve into the three stages of the flower from bud to blossom then back to seed, you'll go through them all with a whole new perspective on what it all truly means.   Sent for review.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Book Review - Every Dead Thing - John Connolly

Every Dead Thing (Charlie Parker, #1)
Title:      Every Dead Thing (Charlie Parker #1)

Author:  John Connolly

Review:  A good writer will improve with each successive book, and that is the case with John Connolly’s debut novel.  I am glad I read book 11 first, otherwise I might have passed on what became a fantastic series.  While the writing was good, a lot of the plot points and general structure screamed first novel.

It was as if the author had three distinctive stories he wanted to tell, but couldn’t get any one of them to last over 200 pages.  So instead of reworking it he just told all three over the course of almost 500 pages; just loosely tying them together with stretched plot segues.  We start off with a missing girl with loose mob ties which morph into a serial killer of children story.  So far I was still okay with this, but then suddenly it resolves at page 200.  This would have been okay except we still had 300 pages to go. Then we suddenly end up across the country in New Orleans with a drug gangland war story overlaid with yet another serial killer.  Then we end up with revenge, bring the justice, go team go story.  

Of course the killers were super intelligent and extra super duper violent and depraved killers.  Why kill someone when you can drug them, skin them alive, and then pose them in obscure 16th century medical anatomy text poses.  Cause that stuff happens all the time.  Then the big climax involved a resolution as clich├ęd as saying the butler did it.

I would hazard a guess if the author could go back and rewrite this he would definitely break it up into two solid books. In the end the book is still worth reading for the character back story and development.  I learned a lot about the main characters which are assumed you just know by book 11, so definitely read it, but keep in mind that it does get better; much, much better.  

Thanks T Stevens for this review.

Publisher:  Published July 1st 2000 by Pocket(first published 1999)

Copyright: 1999

Pages:  467

ISBN:    9780671027315

Quick Review:  2 ½  Stars out of 5. 

Where I got the book:  The publisher graciously sent me the entire backlist for this author; and I am going to work my through them all.

Why Did I read this Book:  Sent by the publisher for review.

Synopsis:   These days, it seems as if any book featuring a serial killer is inevitably compared to Thomas Harris's Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs. Indeed, this is exactly what has happened to John Connolly's Every Dead Thing. Kirkus Reviews says, "Irish journalist Connolly's first novel is an ambitious, grisly, monstrously overextended foray...deep into Hannibal Lecter territory." Publishing News ran an article called "In the Steps of Hannibal..." subtitled, "Lecter, that is." Although meant as compliments, I think comments like these unjustly pigeonhole this riveting novel. While Connolly certainly owes something to Harris, he also owes a considerable debt to other genre authors. Connolly adopts tropes and techniques from these authors, successfully blending these elements to create a unique, satisfying tale of his own.
Several months prior to the main action of Every Dead Thing, NYPD Detective Charlie "Bird" Parker makes a decision that will haunt him for the rest of his life. Fresh from an argument with his wife, Susan, he storms out of the house and heads for a local bar, determined to tie one on. Returning home several hours later, Parker makes a grisly discovery — Susan and his three-year-old daughter Jennifer have been murdered, their faces removed, their mutilated bodies arranged in a position that Parker later discovers is meant to mimic Estienne's Pieta. Grief stricken, Parker vows vengeance on their killer.
Parker leaves the force to investigate the murders full time. Months later, however, he is no closer to solving the crime. In fact,the only clue he has to the killer's identity is one provided by Tante Marie Aguillard, a New Orleans mystic who tells him the killer, whom she calls the Traveling Man, has struck before, and has buried a previous victim in the bayou near her home. Parker isn't quite sure why he believes her, but is certain she's telling the truth.
The frustrated Parker is thus almost grateful for the distraction provided by a missing person's case fed to him by old police friend Walter Cole. Parker's search for Catherine Demeter, the missing girlfriend of a wealthy Manhattan socialite, leads him to the ironically named small town of Haven, Virginia, where his outsider status and insistent questions open wounds long thought closed. Parker solves the case, but only at the cost of great damage to his person and his psyche. Unknown to him at the time, however, he indirectly moves closer to his ultimate goal — although the connections between the two cases are tenuous, this seemingly unrelated investigation is only the beginning of a tortuous chain of events that will eventually lead him to the Traveling Man. Their final, brutal confrontation is surprising and terrifying — Connolly keeps readers guessing until the very end, stretching nerves to their breaking point.
The first half of the novel evokes both Ross MacDonald and Andrew Vachss, as Parker uncovers secrets that lead to the discovery of a child killer thought dead for over three decades. The second half strays into territory mined successfully by James Lee Burke, as Parker travels to New Orleans for his final confrontation with the Traveling Man. Connolly pays homage to the genre in other ways as well. In the hard-boiled tradition, Parker is sullen, often depressed, but, even so, is always ready with a witty comeback. In a nod to Robert B. Parker, and maybe to Joe Lansdale, Parker's current flame is a criminal psychologist, his closest allies two tough, black gay men.
Connolly even goes so far as to name certain characters after genre authors. Of course, there's Charlie Parker, perhaps named for Robert B. Parker or Richard Stark's famous thief. There's also police officer Gerald Kersh, FBI agents Woolrich and Ross, and supporting characters Emo Ellison, Evan Baines, and Gunther Bloch.  Found at Goodreads.
John Connolly
Author Biography: John Connolly was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1968 and has, at various points in his life, worked as a journalist, a barman, a local government official, a waiter and a dogsbody at Harrods department store in London. He studied English in Trinity College, Dublin and journalism at Dublin City University, subsequently spending five years working as a freelance journalist for The Irish Times newspaper, to which he continues to contribute.
He is based in Dublin but divides his time between his native city and the United States.

Other Reviews:  

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Have a Great Weekend - Update on The Great Fat Fraud and Pedometer

We are going to be at this one for awhile.
What are you doing this weekend?
Happy reading!

I have been wearing a pedometer for the last few months and getting my 10,000 steps each day.  It is not easy it takes lots of time.  I average about 2500 a day without extra work.  I try to walk on the treadmill or outside at least 3-4 miles each day to get to the 10,000 and make sure I park far from work, school, and the stores each day.  I take the steps in my house more often not waiting for things to take up with me.  It is difficult to get the 10,000 steps each day, but I feel like I have accomplished something every night when I take it off until the next day.  My weight has gone down about 2 pounds and is now stable at 123.  This is worth it, but if you think you walk that much in a day think again.  My husband wore it to work the other day and only logged 3507 steps for the whole day.

We move a lot less than we think.  Read this book The Great Fat Fraud, Get a pedometer and start really seeing how little you move.  I cannot believe how little I moved.  No wonder our weight goes up every year along with our clothing size.  Here is the link to my Amazon review.   I've put all my reviews, and recaps together in one review.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Book Review - Stay Awake Stories - Dan Chaon

We have a winner for the blog hop and they have been contacted.  Thanks for entering come back soon.
Stay Awake: Stories

Author: Dan Chaon

Review:   At first I thought that this was going to be a bunch of horror stories, not my favorite.  Well I was pleasantly surprised because I love psychological thinky stories.  The book progresses through each giving you something to contemplate.  Did it really happen the way the character viewed it or are they just crazy?

Short stories are fun in the fact that you can read them all in one setting and not have to remember what was going on when you pick up the book again.  I enjoyed these stories and really thought lots about them, especially the ones that confused me.

This is not horror, but they do have the power to keep you awake thinking.

Publisher: Expected publication: February 7th 2012 by Ballantine Books

ISBN: 9780345530370

Copyright: 2012

Pages: 224

Quick Review: 3  stars (out of 5)

Why I Read It:  I won this on Goodreads First-reads.

Synopsis: Before the critically acclaimed novels Await Your Reply and You Remind Me of Me, Dan Chaon made a name for himself as a renowned writer of dazzling short stories. Now, in Stay Awake, Chaon returns to that form for the first time since his masterly Among the Missing, a finalist for the National Book Award.

In these haunting, suspenseful stories, lost, fragile, searching characters wander between ordinary life and a psychological shadowland. They have experienced intense love or loss, grief or loneliness, displacement or disconnection—and find themselves in unexpected, dire, and sometimes unfathomable situations.

A father’s life is upended by his son’s night terrors—and disturbing memories of the first wife and child he abandoned; a foster child receives a call from the past and begins to remember his birth mother, whose actions were unthinkable; a divorced woman experiences her own dark version of “empty-nest syndrome”; a young widower is unnerved by the sudden, inexplicable appearances of messages and notes—on dollar bills, inside a magazine, stapled to the side of a tree; and a college dropout begins to suspect that there’s something off, something sinister, in his late parents’ house.

Dan Chaon’s stories feature scattered families, unfulfilled dreamers, anxious souls. They exist in a twilight realm—in a place by the window late at night when the streets are empty and the world appears to be quiet. But you are up, unable to sleep. So you stay awake.
Dan Chaon
Author Biography: Dan Chaon is the author of Among the Missing, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and You Remind Me of Me, which was named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, The Christian Science Monitor, and Entertainment Weekly, among other publications. Chaon’s fiction has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize, and The O. Henry Prize Stories. He has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award in Fiction, and he was the recipient of the 2006 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Chaon lives in Cleveland, Ohio, and teaches at Oberlin College, where he is the Pauline M. Delaney Professor of Creative Writing. His new novel, Await Your Reply, will be published in late August 2009.

Other Reviews:

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Book Review - Ender in Exile - Orson Scott Card

Ender in Exile (Ender's Saga, #6)
Title:      Ender in Exile

Author:  Orson Scott Card

Review:  I first read Orson Scott Card’s most recognized novel, Ender’s Game, in my freshman year of high school, and immediately fell in love with it. It’s one novel that withstood the test of time when I read it again as an adult, as it was after all meant for an adult audience, despite the young characters. I eagerly read the rest of the series, but only Ender’s Shadow came close to recapturing characters I loved so much. I picked this up from my library with the hopes that a younger version of Ender would once again capture my imagination.

With Ender in Exile, we find Andrew (Ender) Wiggin, the boy whose brilliant military strategies saved the world from the alien Buggers, coming to terms with how he has caused the deaths of millions while thinking he was only playing a war game. The entire novel is neither a prequel nor a sequel, but another side by side companion that takes place between chapters 14 and 15 of the original Ender’s Game, and throughout the Shadow series. Card even wrote a new version of chapter 15, to be printed in subsequent editions to match this latest novel, which is an amazing addition to the Enderverse.

I loved seeing the evolution of Ender’s character before he became the sober Speaker for the Dead in the like-named second novel. In Exile, he’s still a teenager, but a brilliant one, full of guilt over all that he’s done and a need to understand the enemy he thought he exterminated. But the emotions in the book aren’t overdone; rather, they’re coupled with a hint of the spirit of the boy he used to be as he innocently conspires to keep his position as governor over an Admiral who would use him as a pawn. I couldn’t help but rub my hands with glee at that part, though there are also a few touching moments that remind the reader that despite his maturity, he’s still a teenage boy. A more final ending to the Shadow series also plays out here, and though it feels more like a short story added on to the ending instead of part of a full novel. But you won’t hear me complaining.

Card has once again mastered the character of young Ender, and this fully fleshed out version of his early travels will definitely be satisfying reading for anyone who was a fan of the original.

Thanks go to M. J. Corley for this amazing review and I hope to be reading more from this reviewer soon.  Thanks

Publisher:  Published November 11th 2008 by Tor Books (first published January 10th 2005)

Copyright: 2005

Pages:  380

ISBN:    9780765304964

Quick Review:  4 Stars out of 5. 

Where I got the book:  At my local library.

Why Did I read this Book:  I’ve loved this series since I read the first.

Synopsis:   After twenty-three years, Orson Scott Card returns to his acclaimed best-selling series with the first true, direct sequel to the classic Ender's Game.
In Ender’s Game, the world’s most gifted children were taken from their families and sent to an elite training school. At Battle School, they learned combat, strategy, and secret intelligence to fight a dangerous war on behalf of those left on Earth. But they also learned some important and less definable lessons about life.
After the life-changing events of those years, these children—now teenagers—must leave the school and readapt to life in the outside world.
Having not seen their families or interacted with other people for years—where do they go now? What can they do?
Ender fought for humanity, but he is now reviled as a ruthless assassin. No longer allowed to live on Earth, he enters into exile. With his sister Valentine, he chooses to leave the only home he’s ever known to begin a relativistic—and revelatory—journey beyond the stars.
What happened during the years between Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead? What did Ender go through from the ages of 12 through 35? The story of those years has never been told. Taking place 3000 years before Ender finally receives his chance at redemption in Speaker for the Dead, this is the long-lost story of Ender.
For twenty-three years, millions of readers have wondered and now they will receive the answers. Ender in Exile is Orson Scott Card’s moving return to all the action and the adventure, the profound exploration of war and society, and the characters one never forgot.
On one of these ships, there is a baby that just may share the same special gifts as Ender’s old friend Bean…
Orson Scott Card
Author Biography:  Orson Scott Card is the author of the novels Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow, and Speaker for the Dead, which are widely read by adults and younger readers, and are increasingly used in schools.
Besides these and other science fiction novels, Card writes contemporary fantasy (Magic Street, Enchantment, Lost Boys), biblical novels (Stone Tables, Rachel and Leah), the American frontier fantasy series The Tales of Alvin Maker (beginning with Seventh Son), poetry (An Open Book), and many plays and scripts.
Card was born in Washington and grew up in California, Arizona, and Utah. He served a mission for the LDS Church in Brazil in the early 1970s. Besides his writing, he teaches occasional classes and workshops and directs plays. He recently began a longterm position as a professor of writing and literature at Southern Virginia University.
Card currently lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Kristine Allen Card, and their youngest child, Zina Margaret.

FYI: The Movie Trailer for Ender's Game. 

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