Feb 28, 2014

Half World by Scott O'Connor

Friday 56 Rules: *Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader  *Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grabs you. *Post it. *Add your (url) post in Linky at Freda's Voice.

Also Book Beginnings by Rose City Reader.

Title: Half World: A Novel by Scott O'Connor
Published February 18, 2014; Simon and Schuster
Genre: literary thriller

page 56:
Henry couldn't fathom what it would take to walk down into the party. Everyone there assumed he was guilty in some way. This was the organizing principle that he had instilled in the company, that Weir had instilled. Proximity to guilt is still guilt." 
Book beginning:
San Francisco, Spring 1956
The landlady opened the door and led him into the apartment he'd telephoned about, the rooms above the mechanics' garage on Telegraph Hill. She stood to the side while Henry walked to the far end of the living room and looked out the windows through the last of the morning fog. Alcatraz to the north, the bridge and the bay and the black hills to the east. A beautiful corner view. He would need to cover it. 
Book description: "In the 1950s, the CIA began a clandestine operation known as Project MKULTRA, in which American citizens were subjected to drug and mind-control experiments. In the two decades the program ran, a nation’s trust was betrayed and countless lives—and families—were destroyed.

Scott O’Connor has crafted a literary thriller that imagines the devastating emotional legacy of such a program through the eyes of one of its more unexpected victims, CIA analyst Henry March.... Torn between duty and conscience, Henry’s own identity begins to fray, until he... disappears without a trace, taking with him the evidence and becoming the deepest ULTRA mystery of all.

 Twenty years later, another troubled young agent will risk everything to find Henry, protect Hannah, and piece together the staggering aftermath of the crimes before it’s too late."  (publisher)

Would you keep reading based on the excerpts and the book description? 

Feb 27, 2014

Book Feature: Happily Ever After by Elizabeth Maxwell

Title: Happily Ever After by Elizabeth Maxwell
To be published March 18, 2014; Touchstone
Genre: women's fiction, romance

Book description: At forty-six, Sadie Fuller’s life isn’t exactly romantic. A divorced, overweight, somewhat sexually frustrated mother of an eleven-year-old, she lives in the suburbs, shops the big box stores, makes small talk with her small-minded neighbors, and generally leads a quiet life. But while her daughter is at school, or when Sadie is up late at night, she writes erotic fiction under the name KT Briggs.

Then, Sadie runs into someone familiar…too familiar, in fact. She encounters an incredibly handsome man exactly like the one in her imagination—and her latest novel. Is Aidan Hathaway really one of her characters? And if so, what is he doing in Target? As Sadie tries to negotiate this strange new world, her eyes begin to open to romantic possibilities in places she never dreamed of looking... places where Happily Ever After might not be so far-fetched after all. (publisher)

Can't wait to read this one. A writer meets one of the characters in her book, a handsome one at that. 

Thanks to the publisher for a review copy. 

Feb 26, 2014

GIVEAWAY WINNER of Fallen Beauty

Title: Fallen Beauty: A Novel by Erika Robuck
To be published March 4, 2014; NAL Trade
Genre: historical fiction

Congrats to NAIDA, the giveaway winner, chosen by Randomizer. Thanks to everyone for entering.

Feb 25, 2014

Book Review: The Korean Word for Butterfly by James Zerndt

First Chapter, First Paragraph is a weekly meme hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea.

Title: The Korean Word for Butterfly by James Zerndt
Published April 8, 2013
Genre: fiction
First chapter: Joe and I were met outside the airport by a man in a black suit. He was holding a sign with our names on it just like you see in the movies. He told us he worked for the English school and his name was, get this, Moon. He spoke to us in this quiet, gentle voice that immediately put me at ease. To say I was on edge would been an understatement. Joe and I were frauds. There was no other word for it.
Book description: Set against the backdrop of the 2002 World Cup and rising anti-American sentiment due to a deadly accident involving two young Korean girls and a U.S. tank, the novel is told from three alternating points-of-view. This is a story about the choices we make and why we make them. It is a story, ultimately, about the power of love and redemption. (from goodreads)

My comments: I found this novel an interesting and enlightening look at the Korea of ten years ago, written by a former English teacher in Seoul. There is resentment and suspicion of the U.S. forces there, especially after two schoolgirls are run over by a U.S. military tank. The Koreans avoided mixing with foreigners and the cultural differences often made for uneasy relations between the two groups.

The novel makes the local people come alive in the persons of Moon and Yun-Ji, whose personal lives and problems we see and can sympathize with, to some degree. Moon's compassion for Billie and Joe, the two American teachers who pretend to be what they are not, and Yun-ji's friendship with an American soldier Shaun, eventually show hope in the edgy situation of American and Korean interaction in those times.  

The cover of the book, showing a blue butterfly with its wings torn off, suggest to me the fragile nature of the U.S. presence in Korea then and perhaps even now, and the damage that could so easily be done. I recommend the novel for an insight into the multiple perspectives.

James Zerndt lives in Portland, Oregon, with his family. His poetry has appeared in The Oregonian Newspaper, and his short stories/fiction have won awards. He taught English in South Korea in 2002 and still loves the spicy Korean condiment, kimchi.  Visit the author on
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JamesZerndt
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ZerndtJ
Google+: https://plus.google.com/107437037060168201663/posts?partnerid=gplp0

See the tour list for other reviews of the book. 
Thanks to Virtual Author Book Tours and the author for a review copy of this book. 

Feb 23, 2014

Sunday Salon: Being Honest About the Books You Read

The Sunday Salon.com Welcome to the Sunday Salon! Also visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer, and It's Monday: What Are You Reading? at Book Journey. Also, Mailbox Monday at its permanent home, and Stacking the Shelves at Tyngas' Reviews.

I have noticed a few bloggers are being more outspoken about the books they don't like and I think I will join the ranks. My first two-star rating on goodreads went to The Girl with a Clock for a Heart, which I found more than wanting. The characters seemed pre-programmed, like a clock, that is, and were unsympathetic and totally without redemptive value. I must say though that the suspense in the thriller -  for that's what it is, a thriller - was good, but somewhat disturbing, the violence being committed by another clockwork-like character. I wanted real characters that I could understand, if not the girl or the villain, then at least the main character. This is Peter Swanson's first book, however, so there is hope....And would you believe it - I find it hard to fathom - he's a poet!

New books that I hope will be good reads:

From the library, I borrowed
White Ginger by Thatcher Robinson, a mystery set in San Francisco and
The Harlot's Tale by Sam Thomas, a midwife mystery set in 1645 in England.

What are you reading this week; what new books do you have?

Feb 21, 2014

Book Review: FALLEN BEAUTY by Erika Robuck

Title: Fallen Beauty: A Novel by Erika Robuck
To be published March 4, 2014; NAL Trade
Genre: historical fiction

My comments: I admit I was slightly shocked by the free and easy ways of the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, who, historically, had both male and female lovers and a wealthy husband who enabled and supported her in all her artistic pursuits. A well known poet who became famous and relatively rich from her writings, Millay went by the name "Vincent" as she chased after new experiences for the sake of her poetry.

In this book, the fictional Laura Kelly, a young woman whose future is changed when she has a child out of wedlock, becomes a seamstress for the poet, making dresses, gowns, and cloaks for the poet's traveling tours. Laura's personality and struggles in life are a stark contrast to Millay's fame, wealth, and excesses, and we are left to decide which has the better life, in the end. The novel is narrated by both Laura and Millay.

I enjoyed the historical details the book gives of the poet, whom I knew little about. Engrossing and revealing, the novel pulls us into Millay's life of contradictions. The novel makes us question whether Millay's fame and art should outweigh the humility and the traditional sense of behavior of a person such as Laura. The author seems to prefer Laura. Who would you choose as the more worthy "fallen beauty"?
When ... Marie had shown up at my back door in tears, telling me that...Everette had slept with the poet, my shock had given way to anger. (ch. 11, uncorrected proof; final copy may differ)
About the novel: In 1928 in upstate New York, Laura Kelly, an unwed seamstress with a young daughter, and Edna St. Vincent Millay, the wealthy and famous Bohemian poet, work together to create costumes for Millay’s next grand tour. Each woman confronts what it means to be a fallen woman…and to decide for herself the price she is willing to pay to live a full life. (publisher)

GIVEAWAY: The publisher is offering a copy of the book to a reader. Please leave a comment to enter by February 25 to win a paperback. U.S. residents only; no P.O. box addresses, please. Winner will be notified by email by Feb. 26 and will have 24 hours to reply before another winner is chosen. The publisher will mail the book to the winner. Good luck!

I am including a sample of the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay:
First Fig
  by Edna St. Vincent Millay 
My candle burns at both ends; 
It will not last the night; 
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends— 
It gives a lovely light!  
See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/20233#sthash.IWis1ZtK.dpuf

I received a galley proof of this book from the publisher. 


Feb 19, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: OLEANDER GIRL by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted weekly by Jill @ Breaking the Spine. Let us know what new releases you are eagerly awaiting. Link your post to Breaking the Spine.

Title: Oleander Girl by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Paperback edition due March 4, 2014; Simon & Schuster
Genre: women's fiction

From the publisher's description:
"A coming-of-age tale about a young woman who leaves India for America on a search that will transform her life.

Orphaned at birth and raised by her grandparents in Kolkota, India, Korobi Roy is troubled by the silence around the circumstances of her parents’ death and clings to her only inheritance from them: the love note she found, years ago, hidden in a book of poetry that had belonged to her mother. Korobi dreams of one day finding a love as powerful as her parents’, and it seems her wish has come true when she meets Rajat, the only son of a high-profile business family.

 Shortly after their engagement, however, a heart attack kills Korobi’s grandfather, revealing serious financial problems and a devastating secret about Korobi’s past. Shattered by this discovery, Korobi decides to search across post-9/11 America to find her true identity. Her dramatic journey will thrust her into the most difficult decision of her life."

Looking forward to the paperback edition of this novel, first printed as a hardcover on March 19, 2013 by Simon and Schuster. What new release are you waiting for?

Feb 18, 2014

Teacup Turbulence by Linda O. Johnston

First Chapter, First Paragraph is a weekly meme hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea.

First paragraph:
"But I was here first!" The senior lady with frizzy yellow hair stood in front of me on the crowded sidewalk. She placed her hands on her hips and looked up with her lower lip jutting belligerently.
I tried to smile, in case this woman was a better potential dog adopter than she initially seemed. "That never matters in pet adoptions. What's important is finding the right home for each of our wards."
Title: Teacup Turbulence: A Pet Rescue Mystery by Linda O. Johnston 
Published January 7, 2014; Berkley
Genre: cozy mystery

Book description: "Los Angeles animal shelter manager Lauren Vancouver has a soft spot for animals in need—and a keen eye for crime. . .

Thanks to a savvy ad campaign for HotPets Bling—a new line of faux jewelry dog collars—small dog adoptions have skyrocketed across the city. So when Lauren discovers a shelter in the Midwest with more toy dogs than it can handle, she arranges a private plane to fly the pups back to LA.

But Lauren didn’t count on rescue worker Teresa Kantrim coming along for the ride. Her biting comments haven’t earned Teresa any new friends, but when she turns up murdered, Lauren digs into Teresa’s past to find out who wanted her put down." (publisher)

Based on the opening paragraph of the book and the book description, would you keep on reading? 

Feb 16, 2014

It's Monday: What Are You Reading? Women's Fiction and Historical Fiction

Visit It's Monday: What Are You Reading? at Book Journey. Also, Mailbox Monday at its permanent home, and Stacking the Shelves at Tyngas' Reviews.

Review books, thanks to the publishers:
The Dead Wife's Handbook by Hannah Beckerman; Penguin; February 13, 2014.
"Rachel, Max and their daughter Ellie had the perfect life - until the night Rachel's heart stopped beating. Now Max and Ellie are doing their best to adapt to life without Rachel, and just as her family can't forget her, Rachel can't quite let go of them either."
The Moon Sisters by Therese Walsh; Crown; March 4, 2014
A coming-of-age novel about two sisters on a journey to forgive their troubled mother, with a sheen of almost-magical realism that overlays a story about the love of a family, and especially between sisters.

Lovers at the Chameleon Club: Paris 1932 by Francine Prose; Harper; April 22, 2014. 
"Love, art, and betrayal, set in Paris from the late 1920s into the years of World War II.  Paris in the 1920s, where jazz venues like the Chameleon Club draw expats, artists, libertines, and parvenus. A time of terror, bravery, and difficult moral choices." (from the publisher description)

Updike by Adam Begley; Harper; April 8, 2014.
Biography of Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Updike--a candid, intimate, and detailed look at his life and work. An illuminating portrait of the acclaimed novelist, poet, short-story writer, and critic who saw himself as a literary spy in small-town and suburban America, who dedicated himself to the task of transcribing "middleness with all its grits, bumps and anonymities."( from publisher's description)

What are you reading this week? 

Feb 15, 2014

Book review: Savage Girl by Jean Zimmerman

Title: Savage Girl by Jean Zimmerman
To be published March 6, 2014; Viking Adult
Objective rating: 4.5/5
Genre: historical romance; mystery

My comments: A combination of Pygmalion/My Fair Lady but with much darker overtones. Nature vs nurture, one of the theories being debated in mid 19th century,  is the main theme of this novel. Suspenseful till the very end.

Publisher description: From the author of The Orphanmaster, a novel about a wild girl from Nevada who lands in Manhattan’s Gilded Age society. An alluring, smart eighteen-year-old girl named Bronwyn, reputedly raised by wolves in the wilds of Nevada, is adopted in 1875 by the Delegates, a wealthy Manhattan couple, and taken back East to be civilized and introduced into high society.

 A series of suitors, both young and old, find her irresistible, but the willful girl’s illicit lovers begin to turn up murdered. Zimmerman’s tale is narrated by the Delegate’s son, a Harvard anatomy student. The tormented, Hugo Delegate speaks from a prison cell where he is prepared to take the fall for his beloved Savage Girl. This narrative—a love story and a mystery with a powerful sense of fable—is his confession.

From the Author's Note:
"Though this book may its head in the clouds of fantasy it has its feet planted firmly in fact. Stories of feral children, private transcontinental train travel and a tigon in the Central Park Zoo all are grounded in historical research, as are details of confectionary Fifth Avenue mansions and outlandish French ballgowns..." 
Thanks to the publisher for a review copy of this book. 

Feb 14, 2014


Another J.A. Jance thriller: 
Title: Moving Target by J.A. Jance
Publication: February 18, 2014; Touchstone
Genre: mystery, thriller

page 56:
"Maybe you weren't wrong," Ali said. "Back in that era and even now, I have a feeling, there have been more than a few gay people who married and stayed married for camouflage reasons." 
Leland shook his head. "Maybe so," he said.
Book beginning:
Lance Tucker had always hated ladders, but between climbing up and down a ladder in the recreation hall and sitting through another one of Mrs. Stone's endless GED classes, there was no contest. Climbing the rickety ladder to decorate the nine-foot Christmas tree was definitely the lesser of two evils.  
Book description:
 Lance Tucker, a juvenile offender and talented hacker, is set on fire one night and severely burned while hanging Christmas decorations in a lockup rec room. B. Simpson, Ali Reynolds's fiancé and the man who helped put Lance in jail, feels obliged to find out what happened. With Ali off in England helping Leland Brooks at a family reunion, B. turns to Taser-carrying nun, Sister Anselm, for help.

Meanwhile, in England, Ali investigates the decades-old murder of Leland's father, which Leland himself was once suspected of committing. With unsolved murders here and in England, Ali, B., and Sister Anselm are united by their search for answers and the jeopardy they get into as a result. (publisher)

Would you keep reading Moving Target, based on the excerpts and book description?

Feb 12, 2014

Book Review: The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh

THE FEVER TREE by Jennifer McVeigh
Berkley Trade Paperback Reprint; February 4, 2014
Genre: historical fiction, romance
A huge acacia spread its shade over one side of the house.
"The fever tree," Edwin said, following her gaze. "The farm is famous for it."
 (ch. 20)
My comments: The author notes that thousands of native people and workers died from smallpox in the diamond fields of South Africa in the nineteenth century. The disease was ignored, people not given vaccinations or quarantined, the situation covered up even by famous British statesman, Cecil Rhodes, to protect investment in the mines. These historical facts alone make the book worth reading.

Written linearly, chronologically, the book is both history and romance, depicting the plight of Francis Irvine traveling to a far and strange country to be married. She is an example of one of the redundant or surplus unmarried women in 19th century England who sought husbands and a new life in the colonies.

Book description: "A sweeping novel of romance and South African history.
Frances Irvine is forced by hopeless circumstance to emigrate from England to the Cape in pursuit of a reluctant marriage. There she discovers a strange new world where greed and colonial exploitation are bringing vast wealth to some and misery to countless others.

Frances must choose between two very different men: one serious and idealistic, the other charming and ambitious. When a smallpox epidemic threatens the financial dynasty of the most powerful Englishman in South Africa, Frances will be cast into a vortex of dangerous consequences—and find an unexpected, purposeful path." (publisher)

About the Author: Jennifer McVeigh has traveled to Southern and East Africa, and also drew on firsthand accounts of life in colonial South Africa, as well as nineteenth century guidebooks and women’s magazines, in order to make Frances Irvine’s experiences true to life. Visit her at www.jennifermcveigh.com

Thanks to the publisher for a review copy of this book.

Feb 11, 2014

Book Review: The Poodle Tales, Book Nine: The Modeling Poo

First Chapter, First Paragraph is a weekly meme hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea.
Teaser Tuesday is hosted by Miz B; choose two teaser sentences from a random page of your current read

Title: The Poodle Tales: The Modeling Poo by Toni Tuso Faber
Published September 12, 2012; MindStir Media
Genre: children's picture book for ages 4-9, written in rhyme

Opening paragraph/teaser:
The twelve poodle puppies growing older every week,
Had now received their first poo cuts, each looking very chic.
Each and every poodle just loved their Talent Show,
Eager for the next act, the girl who next would go.
The Poodle Pups is a series of illustrated rhymed stories for children, featuring twelve poodle puppies, from birth through their various growing-up adventures. The stories are meant to entertain and teach life lessons to children. Book Nine shows one of the poodles as a new model, wearing different outfits as she shares her accessories with the other poodles.

A cute picture storybook for young girls who are interested in dress-up using different outfits, high heels and other accessories. The rhyming is clever although some of the words may be too advanced for girls ages 4-9, but the pictures of the dogs in costume and the general story might make up for that. Adults who read the book to the children may enjoy it also.

Based on the first verse, would you read this book to your girls? 

Thanks to Kelly and Hall publicity for a review copy of this book.

Feb 9, 2014

Sunday Salon: Let It Snow

The Sunday Salon.com Welcome to the Sunday Salon! Also visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer, and It's Monday: What Are You Reading? at Book Journey. Also, Mailbox Monday at its permanent home, and Stacking the Shelves at Tyngas' Reviews.

The snow doesn't bother me anymore. More snow coming today? Okay. So, I'm getting blase about this unusually white winter. I know that the Northeast is getting unused-to ice storms, which is something they're not used to, as yet! How about you?

The cover makes the book. Do you agree? How about these covers?

But I am also intrigued by clever and eye catching titles! Such as the ones below:

Which one would you choose to read first? Click on their covers, which will take you to the goodreads book descriptions. They are new review books, thanks to the publishers.

Right now, I'm reading Savage Girl by Jean Zimmerman, about a girl raised by wolves in Nevada in the 19th century. Quite interesting.

What did you get in your mailbox and which are you planning to read this week? 

Feb 7, 2014

Book Review: I Am Abraham by Jerome Charyn

Title: I Am Abraham: A Novel of Lincoln and the Civil War by Jerome Charyn
Published February 3, 2014; Liveright
Rating: 5/5

About the book: Lincoln left home to escape an abusive father who nevertheless had taught him carpentry, which was to help Lincoln find jobs in his new home, New Salem, Ill., as he worked his way up. Lincoln worked odd jobs, clerked in a general store, fought during the Black Hawk Indian rebellion, and worked as a postmaster and assistant land surveyor. He eventually won a seat in the Legislature for Sangamon County. From there as state senator, he went to Vandalia, the state capital.

Known as Lawyer Lincoln, a tall tale teller, and as a persuasive speaker, Lincoln spoke out openly against slavery. His talk at the Cooper Institute propelled him into the Presidential race. In the White House, he had to deal with Rebels and secessionists until declaring outright war - the Civil War. Plagued by melancholy all his life, Lincoln nevertheless carried the war through to victory.

My comments: Historical facts are woven with the personal life of Lincoln and his family life with wife Mary Todd and their four children. We see Lincoln "not having faith in his own eloquence," worrying about the length of the Civil War, about his oldest son Bob going to the front and possibly being lost. We follow Lincoln as he wages war with the help of his generals, and in spite of one or two of his ineffective generals, and as he deals with Mary's driving ambition, her tempestuous dark moods, and her paralyzing grief over the deaths of two of their sons.

An eye-opening look at history as well as a convincing portrait of a backwoods young man who becomes the sixteenth president and changes the course of American history. Fluid writing, excellent portrayal of  Lincoln, his wife, and his generals and ministers of war. Convincing fictional characters. I highly recommend the novel to American history buffs as well as to the general reader.

Book Summary:
An unforgettable portrait of Lincoln and the Civil War. Narrated in the first person, it mixes humor with tragedy, creating an achingly human portrait of our sixteenth President.

Tracing Lincoln's life as a young lawyer in Sangamon County, Illinois, through his marriage to Kentucky belle Mary Todd, to his 1865 visit to war-shattered Richmond only days before his assassination, I Am Abraham hews closely to the familiar Lincoln saga. Charyn braids historical figures such as Mrs. Keckley—the former slave, who became the First Lady's dressmaker and confidante—and the almost treasonous General McClellan with fictional extras: knaves, hangers-on, speculators, scheming Senators, and even patriotic whores.

We encounter renegade Rebel soldiers, Northern deserters, and Black recruits who play a pivotal role in winning the Civil War. At the center is Lincoln, pacing the White House halls in the darkest hours of America’s bloodiest war.

Using Lincoln’s own letters and speeches, Charyn concocts a troubled commander in chief, whose relationship with his wife and sons—Robert, Willie, and Tad—is explored with psychological insight and compassion. Seized by melancholy and imbued with a sense of human worth, Charyn’s President Lincoln comes to life in a portrait rarely seen in historical fiction." (publisher)

Thanks to Tribute Books and the author for a review ARC of this novel. Visit the tour schedule for more reviews.

Jerome Charyn, an American author with nearly 50 published works, has been called "one of the most important writers in American literature," and "a contemporary American Balzac." Twice a winner of the New York Times Book of the Year, he also has received the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and named Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture.

Charyn was Distinguished Professor of Film Studies at the American University of Paris and lives in Paris and New York City.

Also submitted to Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2014. 

Feb 4, 2014

A BURNABLE BOOK by Bruce Holsinger

First Chapter, First Paragraph is a weekly meme hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea.
Teaser Tuesday is hosted by Miz B; choose two teaser sentences from a random page of your current read.

 Title: A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger
To be published February 18, 2014; William Morrow
Genre: historical thriller
Teaser: She spoke of the book. His face remained impassive as she described the volume and its poetry, the dark histories inscribed in its strange verses; the cloth and its heraldry, the incriminating livery woven in its strands. She recited the four bits of prophecy she had gotten by rote, including the one that mattered most, on the death of King Richard. (chapter xix)
First chapter:Prologue: Under a clouded moon Agnes huddles in a sliver of utter darkness and watches him, this dark-cloaked man, as he questions the girl by the dying fire. At first he is kind seeming, almost gentle with her. They speak something like French: not the flavor of Stratford-at-Bowe nor of Paris, but a deep and throated tongue, tinged with the south. Olives and figs in his voice, the embrace of a warmer sea. 
Book description: In Chaucer’s London, betrayal, murder and intrigue swirl around the existence of a prophetic book that foretells the deaths of England’s kings. A Burnable Book is a thriller, reminiscent of classics like An Instance of the Fingerpost, The Name of the Rose and The Crimson Petal and the White.

London, 1385. Surrounded by ruthless courtiers—including his powerful uncle, John of Gaunt, and Gaunt’s flamboyant mistress, Katherine Swynford—England’s young, still untested king, Richard II, is in mortal peril, and the danger is only beginning. Songs are heard across London—catchy verses said to originate from an ancient book that prophesies the end of England’s kings—and among the book’s predictions is Richard’s assassination. Only a few powerful men know that the cryptic lines derive from a “burnable book,” a seditious work that threatens the stability of the realm. To find the manuscript, wily bureaucrat Geoffrey Chaucer turns to fellow poet John Gower, a professional trader in information with connections high and low. 

Gower discovers that the book and incriminating evidence about its author have fallen into the unwitting hands of innocents, who will be drawn into a labyrinthine conspiracy that reaches from the king’s court to London’s slums and stews--and potentially implicates his own son. As the intrigue deepens, it becomes clear that Gower, a man with secrets of his own, may be the last hope to save a king from a terrible fate. (publisher)

Based on the teaser, the opening paragraph, and the book description, is this a novel you would continue reading? 

Feb 3, 2014

Book Review: OMG...Am I A Witch? by Talia Aikens-Nunez

Title: OMG...Am I a Witch? by Talia Aikens-Nunez
Published October 31, 1013; Pinwheel Books
Genre: children's literature
Objective rating: 4/5

About the book: April is in the fifth grade and has used the internet to find a magic spell to change her irritating older brother Austin into a dog. Scared of what her parents will think or do, April gets her friend Grace to help her find another spell on the internet to undo the damage and return Austin to his human state. She wonders at her powers and if it means she is a witch. This is a very cute little story of 143 pages, illustrated at the beginning of each chapter

My comments: . There is suspense when April and Grace are almost found out by their parents that there is a dog in April's bedroom. The suspense continues when they have to find excuses for Austin's non-appearance at home, and for keeping Grace at April's house while they plan. How they manage to outwit their parents is all in the fun. And of course, there is a happy ending.

I think fifth graders and children in that age group will enjoy this book, for the suspense as well as for the characters of the two girls, April and Grace, not to mention, Austin the little dog. Well written, with an unusual story line, I think the book will appeal to middle school children and younger.

About the author: Talia Aikens-Nuñez wanted to be a meteorologist, a politician and a lawyer. She never thought she would be a writer. It was the birth of her daughter and raising a bilingual child that inspired Talia to write multicultural children’s books. She, her husband and daughter live on a river in Connecticut with their daughter Isabella.
Find out more about Talia at her website and connect with her on Facebook.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the author for a review copy of this book. For more reviews of OMG...visit this link.

Feb 1, 2014

Sunday Salon: This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash

The Sunday Salon.com Welcome to the Sunday Salon! Also visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer, and It's Monday: What Are You Reading? at Book Journey. Also, Mailbox Monday at its permanent home, and Stacking the Shelves at Tyngas' Reviews.

My good friend this year has been goodreads, which allows me to keep track of books I have read and rated, even commented on, so I don't always feel the need to post a full page review on my blog. Goodreads can announce your books read on facebook too.

 I have just read the two excellent books by Wiley Cash, sent courtesy of William Morrow -
This Dark Road to Mercy and A Land More Kind Than Home, both of which I rated a 5/5 on goodreads.  I learned more about the rural North Carolina setting from these literary novels which also read a little like thrillers.
Next on my reading list is Laura Lippman's After I'm Gone and a new cozy by Daryl Wood Gerber, Inherit the Word, a Cookbook Nook mystery.

New books in the mail?

What are you reading these days?

Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month: Four Novels

For  Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month   (May),  I'm posting my book reviews by several Asian American novelists. The f...