Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Book Review - Where the Willows Grow in Transylvania - Rosa Alexander with Shelah

Where the Willow Grows in Transylvania
Title:  Where the Willow Grows in Transylvania

Review:   This was an interesting book to read.  My husband and I spent 18 months in Romania where this book takes place so we loved hearing of all the places and about the people even though the names were different.

If I understand this correctly, this is a novel taken from real life experiences.  Having lived in Romania we were able to hear firsthand some of the horrible things that happened to the people during the Ceausescu era, he nearly starved a whole country to death to build a “People’s Palace” larger than the Pentagon, razing whole sections of town and throwing the people out into the street with no recompense for their homes that were lost to build “their palace”.  He was called a “Friend of the People” and a “friend of America” and the world thought he was a great leader.  A lot of the people we met were young when he took over as “President for life” (which turned out to be true,) and all they remembered were the starving times they went through.

This book is interesting the way it presents “Rosa’s” story but the language used is too stilted for me, I felt that I was sitting at an old B rated movie when the conservation would go back and forth between two bad guys.  Example: out of the book, 

“Be good, my Rosa”, Mother said hugging me tightly before I boarded the train.

“I will.  You be careful, Mother.  Watch out that you do not let Father hurt you.”

Everything will be fine, my dear Rosa.  You do not worry.  Just go and have a good time….”

That may not be the best example but it gives the idea.  If this book is a translation from Romanian to English I understand the language seeming stilted, although I wish the names had been left in their Romanian form.

The story deals with a young girl whose name is Rosa, who lives with her mother and father in a small village.  They are quite poor because her father drinks all of his paycheck at the local bar.  He’s also very violent and beats both Rosa and her mother causing Rosa to have to learn to overcome her hatred and fear of him.  Even when he quits drinking it is many years before she can allow herself to trust him.  This story could have been quite beautiful if more of it could have centered on her working through these feelings but it seems to jump over them and leaves the reader feeling that Rosa never really recovered from it and took those feelings with her into her life after her childhood.

She seem to have had a happy marriage , but at the same time always seems to be unhappy and wanting something better.  It is sad that her family was split up for such a long time but after a while I got tired of the “poor little Rosa” and would have like to have seen a conclusion to the problems a bit faster.  I believe that the reason for this type of attitude was the oppressive life she lived as a child. All of her hopes and dreams were squelched first by an abusive father and then by oppressive government, so to her the America her great Aunt describes, looks like the place to answer all her girlhood dreams.   But as she finds out, all countries have their problems and happiness is not about the place we live but the happiness we allow ourselves to have and the joys that come from within, if we only allow it. 

The story was interesting but goes on way too long, a bit more editing would be helpful.  Several of our reviewers have mentioned this seems to be a problem with the Tate Publishing  Company.

  Thanks go to Eileen for this review.

Publisher: Published November 1st 2011 by TatePublishing & Enterprises

ISBN: 9781617776137

Copyright: 2011

Pages:  354

Quick Review: 3 stars (out of 5)-

Why I Read It:  Sent by the author  for review.

Synopsis: “I do not want to hear another word about your crazy American Dream!”

Words such as these from Rosa Alexander’s father during his frequent drunken rants often drove young Rosa to seek solace beneath her weeping willow tree. One day, however, her aunt Klara visits from America, giving Rosa hope for a brighter future. Rosa held on to her dream for years, waiting for the chance to leave her beloved homeland and find a home across the ocean. The time never comes, however, and eventually Rosa marries Alan and starts a family; believing that perhaps America is not part of her plan anymore.

As life becomes increasingly harder, in 1985, Rosa and Alan finally make plans to escape the cruel eye of the Romanian government and find freedom in America. They are forced, however, to leave their children—Julia, 8; and Peter, 4—behind. When Peter and Julia are not able to join her and Alan as hoped, Rosa struggles through enormous sorrow as she begins an almost four-year battle to reunite her family.

Where the Willow Grows in Transylvania, based on the emotional true story of Rosa Alexander’s American Dream, relates how Rosa’s dream eventually becomes a grown-up search for peace and a yearning for her family to be together. As Rosa begins to trust God, she not only hears His voice but also finds her own. Rosa’s story reminds readers that with faith, dreams can come true.

Where the Willow Grows in Transylvania differs from many books on the market as it takes the reader to a different world yet encourages him/her in his own world to remember the value of love for one's family; friends; country. This book also encourages readers to hold onto . . . to never give up on their dream. As she tells her story, Rosa
reminds readers that a dream can come true - even if it takes 50 years.
Author Biography:  Author interview here.

Other Review:
Wryte Stuff

Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday Musing - New Release - Shunning Sarah - Julie Kramer

Shunning Sarah
This book comes out Tuesday August 7th.....published by Atria/Emily Bestler Books.  Julie will be visiting bookstores and signing books, here is a link to the schedule.  I love her books and have to say that being 'Minnesotan' is a good thing.

  Here is a photo of our recent trip to Southeastern Minnesota-the setting for this book.  
Here is a quote from the book I thought was funny since we had just taken a trip to Southeastern Minnesota and taken a photo with this unique sign.

"A large brown sign in the small town of Fountain caught my eye.  It read: Sinkhole Capital of the USA.  I pulled over on the side of the road and shook Malik awake, then pointed the unusual slogan out to him.
"Weird," he said.  "Are they bragging or warning?"

Behind the sign is a huge sinkhole that you can climb down in, at your own risk.  We had attended a class on the ecology of the area and I enjoyed yelling, "Sinkhole"  every time we saw a clump of trees sunk in an otherwise perfectly groomed farmers field.  This section of SE Minnesota is the largest area of Karst Topography in the state.  
This information was taken from Official City Sites .org.
This area is also home to many Amish communities.
Check out Shunning Sarah in bookstores on August 7th 2012.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Book Review - A Man Learns: Mostly True Memories and Musings - Donald M. Hall

A Man Learns: Mostly True Memories and Musings
Title: A Man Learns

Author: Donald Hall

Review:   This is a sweet story written by a man who lives in my home city of Minneapolis, Minnesota. I wanted to read this memoir because I truly enjoy learning about other people's lives and the way they view the world as well as what they've experienced to lead them to that particular view. This one was especially close to my heart because I not only share the same city with the author, but I also went to college near his hometown of St. Cloud, Minnesota.
Donald Hall, congenial in every way, recounts the sixty odd years of his life with charm, warmth and humor, so much so that by the end of the book he becomes someone you'd like to befriend. He and I both grew up in small towns, yet his experience was far different from mine, in part because we are separated by a full generation, Donald being roughly 25 years older than myself. His was a kind and gentle existence, his youth shepherded by two attentive parents, his father a hardworking and wise lumberyard owner and his mother a devoted woman who nurtured her children but didn't smother them, allowing Donald the freedom to learn about the world through his own eyes. I enjoyed reading about his small town existence which was enrobed in simplicity, one which I dearly remember from my own experience, as well as his rendering of dipping a toe into the pool of adulthood via the highway of rowdiness, drink and sometimes futile, sometimes successful sparring with the opposite sex; tales that can't help but bring a smile to one's face.
The forces at play in Don's young life breathe success into his later years where he meets and marries a loving, compatible partner and follows his father's footsteps to become a prosperous business man in his own right, all with grace and eye out for the common man within his community. Donald Hall is the type of person you want to root for and applaud when he climbs to the top of the heap because he's definitely one of the good guys.
Thanks for this review goes to Tera.
Publisher: Published June 1st 2005 by Syren Book Company
ISBN: 9780929636429
Copyright: 2005 
Pages: 224
Quick Review: 3  stars out of 5 

Where I Obtained the Book: I acquired A Man Learns from a friend.

Why I Read the Book:  I read this book because I enjoy learning about other people's lives.

Synopsis: A Central Minnesota boy of the 1940's and 1950's interprets his life for meaning and truth and in the process describes what happens to a person's heart. Don Hall mourns the lost freedom of youth, recounts the drunken groping of adolescence, relives the search for meaningful work, the disillusionment with early beliefs, and the quest for comfort and love, and then finally addresses death wtih understanding and hope. Written with tenderness and humor, you will recognize parts of yourself here as well.

Author Biography: Donald M. Hall grew up in St. Cloud, Minnesota. He attended St. John's Preparatory School and St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota, and went on to a career in finance. Now retired, he lives with his wife, Marion, in Minneapolis.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Book Review - Publish like a Pro: A Brief Guide to Quality Self-Publishing - Michele DeFilippo

Title:  Publish Like the Pros:  A Brief Guide to Quality Self-Publishing

Review:  There is a lot of information in this little short book.  I never knew so much went into the publishing of a book.  I can tell you that with reading and reviewing books I have come across so many that just are not anywhere ready to be read by anyone outside of the author and their best best friends.  So many books are written and yet not adequately edited and proofed.  Mistakes an every page and problems with the word flow, not to mention the mixing up of future and past tenses.  I have slogged through more of these disasters then I really want to admit too.  Maybe if the authors had read this book then my experience would have been much more enjoyable.

It costs money to have your book edited, but it is worth it.  If I pick up a book, sent for review, and I notice mistakes right at the beginning- I know things are not promising.  There are rare books that make up for all the mistakes with a fabulous story(Switched by Amanda Hocking for one…lots and lots of mistakes but a great story), but most do not.  Looking past spelling errors or spelling check errors that change the word to another word but spell it correctly….I hate those…it just tells me you let the spell check run without so much as a glance…is uncomfortable for the reader and lets face it work.  If I have to work to read a book I’m not going to read that book…work is for textbooks, The Bible and the like…not for enjoyment- which I hope to find in the pages of a good book.

Self-publishing is going to cost you, but why bother putting out a book hardly anyone will read because of the quality of the book, print, editing, proofreading, printset and the like.  You worked hard writing the book, now work hard getting the best look for your book so that readers will give it a chance.  I find most of my favorite books come from friends that suggest them to me…word of mouth…or browsing the bookstore looking at covers and reading the back for an idea of what I’m getting into.  Reading takes time, time is money  and I hate to waste such a precious resource on something not worthy of it.

The bottom line with this book is; that if you are going to do something,…..do it right!  This is written by the owner of a self-publishing house so remember she has great ideas, but so do others out there.  Make sure to research who you want to help publish your work and make it worthwhile.  Whatever you decide I have to say that it is going to cost…lots…be prepared to spend in the thousands plus to get your book out there.  Maybe a few vanity copies for you and your friends is all your book is worth...think about it...is it that good?  Maybe it is and if so then do it right!

Publisher: Published June 10th 2012 by 1106 Design (June 10, 2012)

ISBN: 9780985489908

Copyright: 2012

Pages:  88

Quick Review: 4 stars (out of 5)-a good book for those looking to self-publish, but it is also a bit self-serving to the author and the company she owns.

Why I Read It:  Sent by The Cadence Group for review.

Synopsis: "Publish Like the Pros: A Brief Guide to Quality Self-Publishing" is a must-read for new authors who want to get it right when self-publishing their books. Self-publishing is a perplexing and ever-shifting landscape; it's easy for authors to get taken in by self-publishing companies that promise the moon but don't deliver. In just 88 pages, "Publish Like the Pros" takes the confusion out of self-publishing and gives authors the six steps to publishing quality professional books that don't scream "I'm self-published!!" The self-publishing author will find everything he or she needs to get started, including cover design, book titles, typesetting, editing, and proofreading, and a special chapter on book distribution, pricing and marketing.

Written by a book designer with years of experience working with both first-time authors and seasoned publishers, "Publish Like the Pros" speaks directly to new authors who want to publish a book that they can feel proud of and that sells!

Industry leaders praise "Publish Like the Pros":
DeFilippo has written a complete overview of the book industry and the publishing process that will allow both authors and self-publishers to make their way through the self-publishing process quickly and successfully. I was amazed at the up-to-date insights and money-saving advice in this book! Want to do it right? Want to avoid a lot of the mistakes that plague first time self-publishers? Read "Publish Like the Pros" and call 1106 Design.
Author Biography:  
Michele DeFilippo owns 1106 Design, a one-stop shop for authors who need editing, book design and self-publishing advice with hand-holding. Follow her on Twitter. @1106Design

Other Reviews:
Another Site with interesting items for aspiring self-published writers.  The more ideas the better.  Also a contest on this site for free services from Melissa Fields.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

TLC Book Tours/Giveaway - Review - 15 Seconds - Andrew Gross

Giveaway at the bottom with Rafflecopter---------Scroll Down-----------
15 Seconds
Title: 15 Seconds 

Author: Andrew Gross 

Review: What separates a thriller from regular fiction is pacing.  The book has to give you the feel of sitting on a roller coaster, short breaks in the action followed by extended breathless moments.  Andrew Gross has accomplished this expertly with 15 seconds. 

The plot suggests that your life can change almost immediately.  Too often all of us take our lives, or rather our lifestyles, for granted.  We become so smugly convinced of our own invincibility we lose sight of the hazards in our way.  Most of the time that hazard is our own arrogance.  The belief we are the king of the world, never expecting the lurking iceberg of pride.

15 seconds is the story of a man blinded by his own success, not seeing the seeds of destruction he was laying.  In the blink of an eye his life changes and all that he holds dear is put at risk.  It comes down to belief in himself and who he can trust. I believe that reliance on others is the secret of defeating this hazard.  The humility to realize you cannot do this on your own.   

Andrew Gross has written a fast paced book that captures the fear in all of us, that our little castles are really built on sand.  Just one Katrina can wash it all away. 

Publisher: William Morrow 
ISBN: 978-0-061-65597-5 
Copyright: 2012 
Pages: 336 
Quick Review: 4.5 stars out of 5 
Where I Obtained the Book: Sent to me for review from TLC Tours. 

Synopsis: Henry Steadman is a successful Florida plastic surgeon on his way to deliver a keynote address at a conference when his world falls apart. Stopped by the police for a minor traffic violation, the situation escalates and he is pulled from his vehicle, handcuffed, and told he is under arrest. Several other police cars arrive and the questioning turns scary, but after it subsides, and Henry is about to move on, the officer is suddenly killed in his car and there is only one suspect: the very person he was about to arrest not ten minutes before. Henry! When a second friend turns up dead, Henry realizes he's being elaborately framed. But in a chilling twist, the stakes grow even darker, and he is unable to go to the police to clear his name.

15 Seconds is a story of how even the best of lives can be destroyed in just an instant-- and of an innocoent man, framed for murder, who has to save the person he loves the most, and who cannot go the police to clear his name.
Andrew Gross
Author Biography: hubby, cook, dad, thriller writer (The Blue Zone, The Dark Tide, Don't Look Twice, and Reckless). Love to hear from and meet my fans!

A reading group guide for 15 Seconds:  http://files.harpercollins.com/Mktg/WilliamMorrow/PDF/15secondsrgg.pdf 

Other Reviews: 
One Book At a Time
Book Reporter
Hopelessly Devoted

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Book Feature - Dead End Deal - Allen Wyler

Dead End Deal
New Medical Thriller Highlights
Plausible Cure for Alzheimer’s Disease
“Digital First” Publisher’s Inaugural Title a Procedural Page-Turner

"A wild Journey…cutting edge science, greed, corruption and political intrigue, you won't be able to put it down."’
--D.P. Lyle, award-winning author of, Hot Lights, Cold Steel.

Dead End Deal is a medical thriller of the highest order, reviving the genre with a splendid mixture of innovation and cutting edge timeliness.  Neurosurgeon Allen Wyler knows of what he speaks, and writes, and the result is a thriller that equals and updates the best of Robin Cook and Michael Crichton.  His latest is terrifyingly on mark, riveting in all ways and a masterpiece of science and suspense.”
--Jon Land, bestselling author of Strong at the Break

“The suspense builds and builds in this riveting page-turner.  It’s a skillful merging of the medical thriller and political thriller…Tom Clancy meets Tess Gerritsen!”
--Kevin O’Brien, NYTimes Bestselling Author of The Last Victim and Killing Spree


In the wild world of Thriller publishing, Medical Thrillers have been rapidly gaining in popularity, led primarily by specialized “procedurals,” often written by actual medical and forensics professionals whose expertise can do for the genre what Patricia Cornwell’s did for detective novels.  In this burgeoning space, new “Digital First” Publisher, Astor + Blue Editions is proud to present Dead End Deal, written by master neurosurgeon, Allen Wyler. (ISBN: 978-1-938231-03-2; Digital E-book, Custom Print; Thriller; May, 2012).

True to its Digital First platform, Astor + Blue releases the thriller in E-book format through all major online retailers—notably Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBook), Kobo, Sony, Overdrive—before the release of print version, slated for next month.
Dead End Deal

World-renowned neurosurgeon Jon Ritter is on the verge of a medical breakthrough that will change the world.  His groundbreaking surgical treatment, using transplanted non-human stem cells, is set to eradicate the scourge of Alzheimer’s disease and give hope to millions.  But when the procedure is slated for testing, it all comes to an abrupt and terrifying halt.  Ritter’s colleague is gunned down and Ritter himself is threatened by a radical anti-abortion group that not only claims responsibility, but promises more of the same.

 Faced with a dangerous reality but determined to succeed, Ritter and his allies conduct clandestine clinical trials in Seoul, Korea.  But there, Ritter and his allies are thrown into a horrifying nightmare scenario:  The trial patients are murdered and Ritter is the number one suspect. Now, aided by his beautiful lab assistant, Yeonhee, Ritter flees the country, as he becomes the target of an international manhunt involving Interpol, the FBI, zealous fanatics and a coldly efficient assassin named Fiest.

Dead End Deal is a fast paced, heart-pounding, and sophisticated thriller. Penned by master neurosurgeon, Allen Wyler—who draws significantly from experience, actual events and hot-button issues when writing—Dead End Deal is unmatched as a technical procedural. Its medical and scientific details can impress even the most seasoned medical practitioners. And yet, the technical expertise is seamlessly woven into a riveting plot with enough action and surprises to engross even the most well-read thriller enthusiast.  A smart, unique, page-turner, Dead End Deal delivers.

Allen Wyler is a renowned neurosurgeon who earned an international reputation for pioneering surgical techniques to record brain activity.  He has served on the faculties of both the University of Washington and the University of Tennessee, and in 1992 was recruited by the prestigious Swedish Medical Center to develop a neuroscience institute.

In 2002, he left active practice to become Medical Director for a startup med-tech company (that went public in 2006) and he now chairs the Institutional Review Board of a major medical center in the Pacific Northwest.

Leveraging a love for thrillers since the early 70’s, Wyler devoted himself to fiction writing in earnest, eventually serving as Vice President of the International Thriller Writers organization for several years. After publishing his first two medical thrillers Deadly Errors (2005) and Dead Head (2007), he officially retired from medicine to devote himself to writing full time.

He and his wife, Lily, divide their time between Seattle and the San Juan Islands.

Advance Praise for Dead End Deal

“With its lightning-paced excitement and fascinating science, [Wyler’s novels] have everything you could hope for in a medical thriller!”
--Tess Gerritsen, Author of The Mephisto Club

“You’ll be asking the nurse to swab your forehead when you’re admitted into this tense medical thriller… Wyler does for hospitals what Benchley did for the ocean.”
--Joe Moore, Co-author of the International Bestseller, The Grail Conspiracy

“Wyler writes a fast-paced thriller which reawakens your scariest misgivings about the Medical-Industrial Complex and the profit motive corrupting the art of healing.”
--Darryl Ponicsan, Author of The Last Detail

“…a fascinating and frightening premise that gives it the potential to be a best-seller in the Robin Cook mold.”
--William Deitrich, Author of Hadrian’s Wall

“This is an ‘up all night’ pass into troubled places that only hard-working doctors know about, a turbulent world of trusting patients and imperfect humans struggling with the required image of perfection.  Only a gifted surgeon like Allen Wyler could craft such a wild and wonderful best-of-breed medical thriller!”
--John J. Nance, Author of Pandora’s Clock and Fire Flight

“…An engrossing thriller and a cautionary tale of the all-too-frequent intersection of high-technology and higher greed.  It’s a message all of us better pay attention to, or face the consequences.”
--Mark Olshaker, Author of Einstein’s BrainUnnatural Causes, and The Edge; Co-author of Mindhunter, Journey into Darknessand The Cases that Haunt Us.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday in our Mailbox - Some interesting books on this list I do have to say.

Books we have gotten recently....What my poor mailman must think?  
15 SecondsHenry Steadman is a successful Florida plastic surgeon on his way to deliver a keynote address at a conference when his world falls apart. Stopped by the police for a minor traffic violation, the situation escalates and he is pulled from his vehicle, handcuffed, and told he is under arrest. Several other police cars arrive and the questioning turns scary, but after it subsides, and Henry is about to move on, the officer is suddenly killed in his car and there is only one suspect: the very person he was about to arrest not ten minutes before. Henry! When a second friend turns up dead, Henry realizes he's being elaborately framed. But in a chilling twist, the stakes grow even darker, and he is unable to go to the police to clear his name.

15 Seconds is a story of how even the best of lives can be destroyed in just an instant-- and of an innocoent man, framed for murder, who has to save the person he loves the most, and who cannot go the police to clear his name.
Fatal Intentions: Sins of a Siren 2A fast-paced thriller from the author of Sins of a Siren finds a young woman fighting for her life as she struggles to avoid her criminal past. After running away from home as a teen, seeking to escape her overprotective and heavily religious family, Trenda Fuqua is seduced by street life. Drug running, theft, and murder are part of the world she lands in. However, the religious teachings she grew up with are hard to shake off.      Although she ended up in jail, Trenda manages to find peace within herself and rediscovers the Bible. She gets paroled, but temptation, bad luck, and threats to her family send her spinning down her former path of destruction. Can Trenda navigate the male-dominated criminal underworld?      Following Sins of a SirenFatal Intentions grabs readers with a combination of action, thrills, and erotic excitement.
Miss Lacey's Last Fling Having sacrificed her youthful opportunities to family obligations, mousy Miss Rosalind Lacey is finally ready to make the most of her long-postponed London Season-starting with Max Devanant, rake extraordinaire....
Ms. Hern is Regency at its best. (Bell, Book, and Candle)-on Kindle.
FreakoutThe ordinary life of the Scott family tips off balance when a big, black bird flies into the garden and repeats that it is 'Abe.
The too-curious family cat, Joshua, will be its first victim. From this moment on, Abe will be an elusive, overshadowing presence in their life; but who, or what, is really Abe?
This is an engaging story that rapidly builds up to reveal a twisted character and an ‘unguessable’ finale.
Unscrupulous Desires: Sisters Torn Apart (Dangerous Family Secrets)When Linda Carter is arrested at her sister’s bedside, she has no idea what to do or say. Although she is a lawyer by profession the entire situation takes her by surprise. Linda and her sister Molly had always had a tremulous relationship and with Molly’s recent accident all fingers seem to point at Linda. No one really knows why she would intentionally try to harm her sister. In a surprising twist of events Linda shows a lighter, more compassionate side in the court room, stating that she would never hurt her only sister. But does the jury believe her story. The prosecutor is a court shark and will do whatever it takes to prove that Linda’s actions are based solely on her unscrupulous desires. The court room is heated as the two lawyers battle it out. The entire situation escalates after the hearing. Molly James is back with a vengeance and will stop at nothing to destroy her sister’s life. In a story of lust, envy, betrayal, hidden secrets and unscrupulous desires two sisters are completely torn apart.
Ad Nomad: The Case Histories of Dane BacchusDRUGS, SEX, AND ADVERTISING...not necessarily in that order. In Ad Nomad, the Case Histories of Dane Bacchus, we enter the world of pharmaceutical advertising, where corrupt and ingenious creative minds market medicines and devices with more flair and guile than is used in promoting corn flakes, cars, and mouthwash. In these pages, you will find driven account people, maniacal creative directors, art directors and copywriters pushed to the brink of mental mayhem. Ad Nomad—conspiracy, criminal acts, sexual deviancy, drug abuse, fraud, strange heroism, deception, psychological torture, political oppression, violations of trust and the only question you should be asking is, “Am I in it?”
Mad Mannequins from Hell (The Uncanny Valley Trilogy (Book 1))Days from Christmas in Portland, Oregon: It's white, it's wet, and it's weird. From its Rampaging Santa rumbles to its voodoo and vintage clothing, it is a liberal center for beards, fixed-gear bikes, and microbrews. Now, a dark ritual gone wrong threatens to turn this tranquil wonderland into a living hell when the mad mannequins roam free. And caught in the nightmare are four holy figures bound by longing, loss, and blood...

Burton Vilmos, an unemployed special effects makeup artist, is called upon to right a great wrong before he loses his best friend, his new wife, and his seven-year-old son, Max. Aided only by the Trinity Sisters, three machete wielding battle nuns, Burton may just have a prayer. That is if he can manage to survive an encounter with a midget in a Mexican wrestler's mask, the haute couture hell hound, kung fu (baby) Christ, and unholy demon spawn of the evil retail underworld--the mannequins.
The Secret of RavelstonAs a young and well-to-do British lady of 1805, Jane Freemont's fate was solely decided by others. But her spirit was that of of a fearless sleuth, determined to discover the fate of a poor young woman who had vanished. 

If you enjoy the genres of the English novels of manners (Pride and Prejudice) and English mysteries (Miss Marple), you will enjoy the Secret of Ravelston. It attempts to put together both. It also has much satire of aristocratic, well-to-do, individuals, who spend most of their idle lives attempting to amuse themselves, and being served by countless human beings they don't see as real people.
The Unruly Princess is one of six stories in this collection which is aimed at children aged 4 to 12. All these charming tales have been written by a qualified and experienced Montessori teacher and they have a strong bias towards the natural world.
The intention is that older children can read the stories unaided while younger ones will enjoy having them read aloud – especially at bedtime. Not only are the tales entertaining, they are also designed to provoke discussions, fact-finding missions and general interest in the environment and creatures around us.

White LiesWhile driving to a charming village tucked away deep in the Cascade Mountains of eastern Washington, where she is to begin a new job teaching high school English, Katrina Burton picks up a young hitchhiker who turns out to be drunk and predatory. Fearful for her safety, she lies about her destination in order to get him out of the car. But when she later discovers that he is a teacher at the same school, she finds herself feeding that initial lie with more lies. Then Katrina meets a mysterious man . Handsome, charismatic and strong, he is exactly what she needs to extricate her from the expanding network of lies, now spinning out of control. She falls fast and hard for him. But her perfect solution soon becomes a nightmare that lands her in the middle of a grisly murder. And Katrina's problems don't stop there. She must decide whether to betray her new love or to cover up the murder and hope for the best.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Some Girls - Jillian Lauren - Book Review

Title:  Some Girls: My Life in a Harem
Author: Jillian Lauren

Review: I enjoy reading memoirs about aspects of life I have no knowledge, part of the great autodidactic journey we all should be on.  For instance, I have never been to a strip club (and I never plan to), but if I did I know via Diablo Cody you should always get a lap dance because that really is the only way the girls are making money (legitimately).  I first heard of Jillian Lauren through Marc Maron’s excellent WTF podcast wherein he interviews mainly comedians, but it turns out Lauren is a neighbor and friend.
Lauren progresses from adopted daughter to a college student, from dancer to a B-movie actress, and eventually an escort. She comes across as very honest stating she was mainly in it for the money.  Ultimately as a young, beautiful, unrepressed girl she caught the attention of a “talent” scout for the Sultan of Brunei’s brother.  Now if you are like me you have probably heard about the harem’s these extremely wealthy men maintain but know nothing about them.  Lauren opens this world for you.
While she did have sex with the Prince, this book is not about sex.  It is about the relationships between the major players, the Prince and the women, and the pecking order of the women themselves.  She details the life from the lavish spending and shopping sprees to the petty political jealousies among the girls.
It focuses on the inertia it takes to move beyond your comfort zones.  Lauren was young and wanted for nothing temporal.  The inner strength required to move on in life when things are generally okay is tremendous.  How many of us are stuck in a life we are not truly satisfied with only because it is easier just to continue on rather than put forth the effort (and risk) to strive for something more.
Most of the criticisms of this book miss the point.  Typically they name call Lauren as a common prostitute and proceed to dismiss all that she has to offer.  We all have pasts, we all have secrets, and we all want to grow from our experiences (and remember John 8:7 you self-righteous types).  We can learn from Lauren’s life, just because she didn’t learn the lessons you may have wanted her to is not a reason to condemn her.  Her journey is what it is, and at the end of the day she is an interesting person with a tale to tell.

Publisher: Plume
Copyright: 2010
Pages: 339
ISBN: 978-0-452-29631-2
Quick Review: 3.5 Stars out of 5.
Why I Read it: I heard her interview on the great Marc Maron WTF podcast and both her and the subject matter were interesting
Where I Obtained the Book: My local library

Synopsis: A jaw-dropping story of how a girl from the suburbs ends up in a prince's harem, and emerges from the secret Xanadu both richer and wiser

At eighteen, Jillian Lauren was an NYU theater school dropout with a tip about an upcoming audition. The "casting director" told her that a rich businessman in Singapore would pay pretty American girls $20,000 if they stayed for two weeks to spice up his parties. Soon, Jillian was on a plane to Borneo, where she would spend the next eighteen months in the harem of Prince Jefri Bolkiah, youngest brother of the Sultan of Brunei, leaving behind her gritty East Village apartment for a palace with rugs laced with gold and trading her band of artist friends for a coterie of backstabbing beauties.

More than just a sexy read set in an exotic land, Some Girls is also the story of how a rebellious teen found herself-and the courage to meet her birth mother and eventually adopt a baby boy.

Author Biography: Author and performer Jillian Lauren grew up in suburban New Jersey and fled across the water to New York City. She attended New York University for three minutes before dropping out to work in downtown theater, where she performed with Richard Foreman’s Ontological Hysteric Theater, among others.
Her New York Times bestselling memoir, SOME GIRLS: My Life in a Harem, was published by Plume in April 2010. It has since been translated into fourteen different languages.
Her novel, PRETTY, will be released on August 30, 2011.
Jillian has an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University. Her writing has appeared in The Paris Review, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Flaunt Magazine, Opium Magazine, Society, Pale House: A Collective and in the anthology My First Time: A Collection of First Punk Show Stories.
She has read at spoken word events across the country and has been interviewed on such television programs as The View, Good Morning America and Howard Stern. She was a featured dancer with the infamous Velvet Hammer Burlesque. As a performer, she has recently worked with directors as diverse as Steve Balderson, Lynne Breedlove, Austin Young, Michelle Carr and Margaret Cho.
Jillian regularly blogs at TODAY Moms, The Nest and Jillianlauren.com.
She is married to musician Scott Shriner. They live in Los Angeles with their son. 

Other Reviews:
Reading Through Life
On Prosper Pond


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Book Review - Bread is the Devil: Win the Weight Loss Battle by Taking Control of Your Diet Demons - Heather Bauer and Kathy Matthews

Bread Is the Devil: Take Control of Your Diet Demons and Blast the Fat Forever
Title:    Bread Is the Devil: Take Control of Your Diet Demons and Blast the Fat Forever

Review:  I’ve decided to cut bread and gluten out of my diet due to arthritis, but I picked up this book because of the title.  I do feel that Bread is the Devil and it is a hard item to ignore.  Everyone eats bread and loves to eat it warm fresh from the oven.  Yummy with butter dripping off the sides, hungry already.  I digress, and now I need to think about a healthy serving of fruits or vegetable instead.

Bread is the Devil is an interesting book that helps you cut the white bread, fried breads, and other empty calorie items from your diet.  You can eat bread, but make sure it is whole grain, me I just cut it all out and after 3 months I feel great(my back/spine arthritis is better and my hip feels almost normal again.)  But I think that cutting bread out would help many lose those unwanted pounds and help you become healthier overall.  Cut those empty fat/calorie/carb filled items from your diet and feel good again. By the way, fat is your friend….sugar and white carbs are the enemy.

Cutting carbs is a great way to lose weight and it is really not that difficult.  Have a goal in mind will make it easier to say NO to the Devil carbs out there.  Losing weight or just cutting back on empty calories makes this book a good read for you.  Keep in mind that not every book can help everyone, so read a few different books on healthy eating and pick what works well for you.

Publisher:  Published January 3rd 2012 by St.Martin's Press

Copyright: 2012

Pages:  320

ISBN:    9781250000224

Quick Review: 4 Stars out of 5. 

Where Did I Get the Book:  The public library.

Synopsis:   Stop mindlessly inhaling the breadbasket and stop shoveling in the M&M'S–Bread is the Devil is the solution to all of our diet saboteurs.
Nutritionist Heather Bauer can count on the fingers of one hand the number of her clients who don't already know what they should eat to lose weight. So why can’t they (and their best friend and their neighbor) lose weight? Because Bread is the Devil! Yes, that's Bauer’s shorthand for the inevitable, demonic pull that certain bad habits exert on people who try to change their eating routines to drop the pounds. Many of us have been there: You had a sensible, healthy breakfast, high in protein with complex carbs. Ditto for lunch—soup and a salad with a warm rush of accomplishment and self control for dessert. But now it's dinnertime and you're out with friends: enter a large basket of warm, sliced, crusty sourdough bread with a little tub of chive butter. Suddenly you're in the seventh circle of hell—the one reserved for gluttons. Bread’s not your devil? How about ice cream or chips or that big slab of buttercream-frosted birthday cake?
Bread Is the Devil will help you fight those hellish cravings that stop you from losing the weight you want. By identifying how certain factors promote overeating, Heather will:
 * Identify the top-ten Diet Devils that challenge healthy eating
 * Provide specific, proven strategies that free you from these devils once and for all
 * Offer up a simple, flexible guide that will help you reach your goal in twenty-one days and make eating fun again
* Suggest an easy, affordable, and doable shopping list for eating at home as well as great meal choices when eating out
 Bread is the Devil will help you say good-bye to your devils, for good.
Image of Heather Bauer
Author Biography: Heather Bauer, RD, CDN is a nationally recognized nutrition expert, author, and founder of Nu-Train, a New York City-based diet and nutrition counseling center. Over the last decade Heather has taught thousands of people how to safely lose weight and keep it off for good. Her success stories range from those working long hours on Wall Street, to doctors, lawyers, mothers, athletes and celebrities.

In 2008 Heather released her first book, The Wall Street Diet, a program designed especially for busy people that don't have time to diet. In Heather's second book, Bread Is the Devil, she provides time-tested strategies and a 21-day plan to help readers overcome common diet pitfalls, what Bauer refers to as "Diet Devils". Some of these Devils include "The Late Night Shuffle (for those midnight marauders that just can't stay out of the kitchen), "Road Hogging" (for travels who decide to put their healthy habits on hold when on the road) and "The Plunge" (for anyone that wonders where that whole sleeve of cookies went).

Heather sits on Cooking Light Magazine's Nutrition Advisory Board and has appeared on popular TV and Radio shows such as The CBS Early Show, CNN, The Tyra Banks Show, FOX Morning News and Martha Stuart Radio on SiriusXM. She has also been a featured nutritionist in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Self Magazine, In Touch, InStyle, Shape, Gotham Magazine and Ladies Home Journal.

Heather received her BS and RD from the University of Wisconsin and is a member of the American Dietetic Association (ADA) and the New York State Dietetic Association (NYSDA). She lives in Connecticut with her husband, daughter and twin boys. When she's not chasing after her children, she's usually out running.

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