Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

When is a Hoax More Than Just a Hoax?

"Cardinal Hoax"
Karl Bozicevic

ISBN: 978-0-615-51767-4
Flow Focusing Press
San Francisco, CA
Available at Amazon

“Cardinal Hoax” is a book that draws on many of the key traditions of the science fiction genre. We're all familiar with the “find a new invention, use it as a vehicle for stories,” element of sci-fi. Star Trek has its transporters, and warp drives: Stargate has the Gate and wormhole technology: Welles has his time machine, and Isaac Asimov has the science of “psychohistory” by which human behavior might be predicted. In the end, the story is the thing. The new gizmo is always the new element, but it's what the author does with the gizmo, and the stories he tells around it, that really bring books long lasting recognition.

Some of the most interesting science fiction since the early days of the genre, came from thinking deeply about humanity, putting the reader in a different frame of reference, and looking back to see what we would look like from the perspective of an alien, or folks in a far future or a distant past. It demands that the author look closely at who we are, what we believe, and how we behave. Horses were transportation until carts came along, which were transportation until autos were invented, and on to buses, trains, airplanes, and space shuttles. With each new mode, some of the distances both between cities, and between peoples were changed along with them. Stories of riding on the first trains or planes now no longer hold our interest. We want to be on the rocket ships to the stars.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

From Maverick to the Notebook

First, I must admit I have loved James Garner, or at least the parts I’ve seen him play since I was about four years old. While I have never gotten into the fan thing, there are a handful of actors and actresses who have brightened my life. (They don’t use the term actress anymore; my niece is an actor.) But the brightest among them has always been James Garner. If Lorne Greene as Ben Cartwright was my father, James Garner as Maverick, was my husband. Of course I had to get the book.

The Garner Files
By James Garner and Jon Winokur
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Abuse and Strength

Thank you to a reader who noticed that the teaser sent to your email box Monday had several run together words. If you visited the site, you know that those errors were not on the site. I am not sure how to correct this error in the email renditions of the blog but please know I am working on it.

Today we have a simple excerpt of a promising new book by Monique Domovitch. Drop by and read about a poor, abused child forced out into the world.

Announcing the Scorpio Rising Social Media Whirlwind Tour! As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Scorpio Rising eBook edition has dropped to just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes, including 2 Kindle Fires, Amazon gift cards up to $100 in amount, 5 autographed copies of the book, and 5 autographed copies of its recently released sequel, The Sting of The Scorpio. Be sure to enter before the end of the day on Friday, December 23rd, so you don’t miss out.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Joke's on Him!

It is a nice warm Sunday evening due to be followed by a wickedly cold Monday, meaning I should have been out doing Christmas shopping instead of watching the home teams get beat. Then again, tomorrow will feel more like Christmas. It also means that our Sensual Sunday book will be a little something to warm you right up. Today’s choice is a little, light read from Rebecca J. Clark. Sometimes a little light read is just what is needed to bring the spark of joy back into your life.

Author: Rebecca J. Clark
Publisher: Siren-Bookstrand
Length: 45,000 Words, eBook Format
Sub-Genres: Comedy, Contemporary
Her One-Night Prince is a Cinderella story about a woman's dream to be something she's not for just one night at her class reunion.
As all fairy tales go, however, happy endings don't come easily.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

12 Days of Fun and Giveaways!

Michele Poague's  book Fall of Eden, the second in her Healing Crystal Trilogy, is part of our Christmas Blog Hop giveaway along with a homemade afghan.   We wouldn't be giving Fall of Eden away unless we liked it but we thought our readers might like another reviewer's opinion as well.

Today we bring you a guest blog from across 'the pond'. Sandra "Jeanz" has graciously agreed to share her review of the second book in the Healing Crystal Trilogy. 


BLURB from Goodreads

Myths are but shadows of a greater truth. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

In Leah's Wake:Tour Notes

Announcing the In Leah’s Wake Social Media Whirlwind Tour! As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the In Leah’s Wake eBook edition has dropped to just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes, including Amazon gift cards of up to $500 in amount and 5 autographed copies of the book. Be sure to enter before the end of the day on Friday, December 16th, so you don’t miss out.  

To Win the Prizes

  1. Purchase your copy of In Leah’s Wake for just 99 cents on Amazon or Barnes & Noble
  2. Fill-out the form on Novel Publicity to enter for the prizes
  3. Visit today’s featured event; you may win an autographed copy of the book or a $50 gift card!
  4. BONUS:  If you leave a comment on this blog post, you have another chance at $100!

That Feeling of Falling: In Leah's Wake

In Leah's Wake
by Terri Giuliano Long
Paperback: Laughing Moon Publishing, Oct 1, 2010
Kindle: Amazon Digital Editions

Available at Amazon

In the arts, it's important to know which branches can lead us where we want to go. Music tells us what it sounds like, using instrumentation choices, rhythms and composition to evoke emotions. Painting shows us what it looks like, with color and shape bringing a certain amount of ambiance, using juxtapositions and composition inside the picture give us a sense of relationships. Sculpture can add that 3-D element to the visual arts, but none of them can answer the questions that fall into the category of “why” or give us historical perspective and clarify the background issues that led to the present reality. Writing can.

Which is why telling every bit of the story matters. “In Leah's Wake” is, in many ways, closer to a sculpture or a bas-relief, in which you can see all of the characters clearly, and see some of the relationships between them, but you get only a small sense of how they got that way. Leah is the one we can see and understand the most clearly, even though she is the one disturbing the family peace. We see the effect her parents have on her. We see the effect that she has on her parents. We see the younger sibling Justine trying desperately to sort out what's going on (in some ways she's more of a main character than Leah is). What we don't see is why things unfold as they do.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Blog Hop Has Started!

Intoxicated by Books
Visit as many as 75 different blogs right from here. Enter giveaways and contests from this very spot. For the next 12 days you will be able to find all these blogs right on our Giveaway page. Have fun! Visit often. 

Win Fall of Eden by Michele Poague and a hand crocheted  afghan from this blog site. Enter the contests at the other blog sites throughout the tour. Details on how to enter are on our Giveaways page or you can click on HOLIDAY FUN.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Today I bring you two loosely connected books, one is non-fiction book about metaphors and sayings, and the other is a book whose title became a saying in my lifetime.
Loose Cannons and Red Herrings: A Book of Lost Metaphors (not to be confused with its newer version of a similar title) contains the phrase Catch-22 which is the name of our second choice.

Product DetailsHow do I tell if a book is good, not just a good read, not just fun, not just interesting but really, truly good? If, after the test of time, say decades, I still see or feel or am haunted by scenes from the book, I know, know, know that book is good. Does that mean it is a good read? Maybe not but like great poetry, if the piece speaks to me, moves me, causes me to think about it and its implications, it is a good piece. Today I am going to introduce you to a book that many have found impossible to read. Indeed, if it hadn’t been assigned in high school, I don’t think I would have gotten through the first three chapters (though there were many assigned books I never read…). Once I had gotten to the third chapter, I was completely hooked.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Interview with writer of The Gaia Wars

We are always fortunate when an author takes the time to give an interview. Writing is hard but it is private work. Not all writers are comfortable talking about themselves or their work in public. Not that writing a book isn't baring your soul to the entire world, and not that writers don't hold their breath hoping it won't be torn to bits. But interviews can be so much more revealing and therefore scary.  On our website, we have added a page for author interviews. Please do check it out when you get a moment. In the meantime, I am posting our most recent interview Kenneth G. Bennett covering his recent release.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Camera Guy knows how to shoot.

An interesting horror book has come my way. I believe it would be a great Throw-away Thursday book. A light read, with a decent plot, interesting characters but a bit predictable.   If you like the hero versus demon plot, you may find this a quick, enjoyable read. I caution that there is some foul language but it is pretty tame considering the book is about cops! What would you do if you had to investigate murders and you could see to the spirits of those who were killed? The Camera Guy (By Richard Goodship) knows!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Two books: Undercover War and Child Philosophy

I have two good books for you today. One is an oldie, first published in the United States in 1975. The second is a SciFi Romance (Yes, I know, I don't read Romances but...) newly published. Both are good reads though meant for totally different audiences. I hope one will be just right for you.

SciFi Saturday and Sensual Sunday all rolled into one with a new book from  K. S. Augustin.  War Games is a SciFi same sex Romance (with a capital R), that has a decent plot and graphic 
sexual encounters.

The other is a simple, charming book about a small child's love of life, her philosophy of all things around her including sex, God, church, relationships, and math.  This nonfiction is endearing.

Friday, December 2, 2011

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Stay Tuned eBook edition has dropped to just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes, including lots of Amazon gift cards (up to $100 in amount) and 5 autographed copies of the book. Be sure to enter before the end of the day on Friday, December 2nd, so you don’t miss out.  

To Win the Prizes:

1. Purchase your copy of Stay Tuned for just 99 cents on Amazon or Barnes & Noble (You’ll need it for the big contest on Friday) 2. Fill-out the form on Novel Publicity to enter for the prizes 3. Visit today’s featured event; you may win an autographed copy of the book or a $50 gift card!  

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Supporting Authors One Read At A Time Magazine

Here is a new magazine devoted to spotlighting two authors every month. We would like to know what you think of it. Once a month we will feature a link to this magazine for your enjoyment. Check it out and make sure you leave us feedback on it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wimps Unite!

Well, friends, I am back. I did the novel in thirty days ( ) thing and what fun! It was a lot of work but so much fun, especially watching the meter on your word count climb daily. I am so glad I didn't wimp out. But now I want to get back to writing words for you, our reader. We have several books in the queue for you, which I plan to get out to you over the next several days.

First up is a lean book called Weight Loss for Wimps: How to Lose Belly Fat, Look Years Younger and Get Healthy, Sexy and Thin by Kevin C. Myers. When I say this is a lean book, I mean lean. There are no extra words. Just get down to the bone, how to do it talk.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

SF Goes East: 2010's Best Science Fiction Stories

The Year's Best Science Fiction 2010
Twenty Seventh Annual Collection
Ed. Gardner Dozois
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 27th edition (July 6, 2010)
ISBN-13: 978-0312608989
Available at Amazon

From the book jacket:

"For more than a quarter century, Gardner Dozois's The Year's Best Science Fiction has defined the field.  It is the most important anthology, not only annually, but overall."    -Charles N. Brown, Publisher of LOCUS magazine.

Stories are often the beginnings of sci-fi books.  Authors say that the characters, once created, dictate the direction a book will follow, so they can continue to live their lives after the first story ends.  But the first key to unlock the book is, for many authors, the story.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Intelligent Intelligence Thriller

The Breath of Allah
Steven W. Ritcheson
Copyright 2001
Publisher: CreateSpace
ISBN: 1466246774
Available at Amazon

"Thomas Jefferson only had it partly right -- eternal vigilance was not only the price of liberty, it was the price of survival  ...  even a paranoid has enemies.  I would regret later that I had not paid more attention to this warning."  Charles Rayson, TAG

If you are inspired by finding a nice calming historical read for an evening just to get away from those mundane daily activities, this book is not for you. On the other hand, if you prefer something a bit more adventurous, with pulse-pounding action that will keep you turning pages to see what happens next, something that will keep you from getting your chores done until you finish the book, you'll like it a lot.

In this era of high-tech espionage, the folks in "The Breath of Allah" are constantly trying to keep one step ahead of a complex and ever-changing landscape of bad guys trying to kill them, while developing new ways of using technology to keep ahead.  Some of the tools they use are just a hair's breadth away from today's technology, and others will take awhile to be more than fiction, but all are plausible in this new world of black hat and white hat hackers:  a spy-vs-spy-vs-techie-vs-techie chess game.  The TAG is a team of experts with clandestine operations skills, techie know-how, inventive engineering capabilities, and battle-tested survival skills.  Their task is to know more first, to prevent the unthinkable before it happens.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Seeing the Unseeable

Have you ever heard sounds that you were sure didn’t exist? Maybe you smelled something you knew wasn’t in the area. Perhaps you experienced both, maybe even both together. I have and it is scary, so scary that you might think you are losing your mind. Never fear for me. I finally discovered I was having “awake dreaming” from lack of good, sound sleep. But the hero of our next book has not found himself so lucky.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Top 5 Ways to Kill your Love of Reading

Here on Sensual Sunday we like to post things that concern the senses, most often touch as in I touch him, he touches me, and my heart just pops. Today, though, we will be delving into the world of love - the love of reading. The author of Farsighted has graciously stopped by to talk about reading. Her new book, Farsighted also deals with sight - the lack of it and with second sight. Look for my review of her

Friday, November 11, 2011

Misleads and Twists

Welcome to the world of twists and turns, mind bending fun and suspense. Are you up to letting your brain relax in order to see new sights and working it hard to follow the maze of clues and misleads? If you are up for a challenge, you will like our two new choices !

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Before the Demonstrations: A Call to Civic Responsibility

For Common Things:  Irony, Trust, and Commitment in America Today
Jedediah Purdy
Vintage Books, Copyright 1999

Myself, I'm a cynic, not anywhere near as hopeful as an ironist, but still I found this book fascinating.  Purdy is idealistic in the truest sense without, amazingly, becoming either dogmatic or partisan, and while I may not agree with all of his politics,  the landscape he paints depicting the way contemporary Americans think is flawless.  Granted, the Millenium was still on the horizon when this book was printed, and the insane economic environment we now find ourselves in was just a glint in the eye of some mortgage packager at a Wall Street firm, but the way we think about the world around us, as he describes it, still rings true.

"We live in the disappointed aftermath of a politics that aspired to change the human predicament in elemental ways, but whose hopes have resolved into heavy disillusionment.  We have difficulty trusting the speech and thought that we might use to try to make sense of our situation.   We have left behind an unreal hope to fall into a hopelessness that is inattentive to and mistrustful of reality."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Fate of the World

Today we have an interview with award winning author, Michele Poague. Her new trilogy, the Healing Crystal, now has Heir to Power book one and Fall of Eden book two currently on sale. Ransom book three will be available in early 2012.

How did the story come about?  I have always loved reading. When I read the Dragonriders of Pern, Anne McCaffrey made writing look easy. It wasn't. One morning in the early 80's, I pictured this young woman with long white hair and I knew where she lived. She carried a palm-sized crystal and I knew what it was, and what the story was going to be about, but in the 80's and 90's I didn't have time to write the story.    

Just for You

One of our readers asked about fairy tales. Since I had a simple one on hand that I had written, I sent it to her. It occurred to me that I could post it as well. This is a tale for a very young audience, maybe 8 years old. I wrote it for my nieces and nephews, so I included their names. If you want to read it, here it is.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Fairy tales can be so much fun. A tale might have a big bad wolf, a curious little girl, a boy who wouldn't grow up, or a frog. It might be about a dropped shoe, a wicked spell, and ogre, or a king. The vast setting, personalities, and plots probably set this next to science fiction as the genre with the widest range of stories to tell. I've said before that fairy tales was my very first genre. Today, at the request of one of our dearest followers, I bring you another fairytale.

By Andrew Lang
Published by Public Domain Books

How do they do it?

Have you noticed how many books are now available? How does one chose? More than that, ever wonder if you can do it yourself? I've written some things but every time I discover the end, I lose interest. Ah, well, I only write long enough to find out what happens, not to sell. But maybe you are different. Do you have that novel you want to get out to the masses but don't know how? Then today's selection might be right for you.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Truthful Tuesday: Writing Requires a Lot!

Blog tours can be so much fun. Not only do you learn about a new book, you can also learn about an author and about other bloggers. Currently we are part of the Farsighted book tour. This tour will be around for a little while, so look for other insights and book excerpts in the coming weeks, along with contests and free stuff! Don't forget to stop by on November 15 to see my review of Farsighted by Emlyn Chad.

Other free stuff: The winner of Heir to Power by Michele Poague will be contacted today and will be announced as soon as they respond. For more free stuff, don't forget the Christmas Blog Hop coming up on December 13th where not only will you get a book but a free afghan from me. Other blog sites will have even more stuff. Make it a fun filled December and see how many places you can visit.

Now for Truthful Tuesday, we have invited Emlyn Chad to share some of what she learned from being a writer.

This is a guest post by Emlyn Chand, author of Farsighted

When did you have enough confidence in your abilities to officially call yourself a writer? For me, it was when I first received money for my work as a freelance columnist. For you, it may have been when you finished the first chapter of your first novel or won a prize for a short story. Maybe you never had any qualms about saddling yourself with this label. Maybe you still don’t consider yourself a “real writer.” Me? Now I know enough to see that I was a writer long before someone handed me that first paycheck. It’s kind of something you’re born with—like it or not. But being an author, that’s different.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Panting versus Plotting

The day's worth of 'American' football is almost done and now it is time to turn our attention to more interesting endeavors. Maybe something sweet, warm, and sensual, something perfect for Sensual Sunday? You all know what I mean. There is nothing like a cup of hot chocolate and a great book! And today's choice is most sensual. How can it not be when we are talking about an incubus, a male sex demon!

Save My Soul (Preternaturals Book 2)
By Zoe Winters
Publisher: Incubooks
Pages: 300

Great Plot
From Amazon:
     All he's asking for is her soul. After buying the antebellum home she's fantasized about since childhood, Anna Worthington discovers Luc, a dangerously seductive incubus who has been trapped in the house by a fifty-year-old curse.

Observation may Lead to Participation!

This is science fiction Saturday and my time travel kick is still going. I think I might secretly wish I could travel back in time so I can relive this all again. Naaa. It was fun the first time through. To do it again would just be boring. Still it is great to read a good time travel story and fantasize about all the possibilities. Unless of course you get in the same pickle as those kids in today's book.

      By Connie Willis
      Published by Spectra
      Pages 491

                                             From Amazon:
Time Travel During War
Oxford in 2060 is a chaotic place, with scores of time-traveling historians being sent into the past. Michael Davies is prepping to go to Pearl Harbor. Merope Ward is coping with a bunch of bratty 1940 evacuees and trying to talk her thesis adviser into letting her go to VE-Day. Polly Churchill’s next assignment will be as a shopgirl in the middle of London’s Blitz. But now the time-travel lab is suddenly canceling assignments and switching around everyone’s schedules. And when Michael, Merope, and Polly finally get to World War II, things just get worse. For there they face air raids, blackouts, and dive-bombing Stukas—to say nothing of a growing feeling that not only their assignments but the war and history itself are spiraling out of control. Because suddenly the once-reliable mechanisms of time travel are showing significant glitches, and our heroes are beginning to question their most firmly held belief: that no historian can possibly change the past.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Voices from the Liberty Movement

Why Liberty: Personal Journeys Toward Peace & Freedom
Marc Guttman, editor
Cobden Press, 20258 Highway 18, Suite 430-500, Apple Valley, CA 92307
from Amazon

It's hard to imagine what the common ground would be, when the people in the discussion include medical doctors, lawyers, a manufacturing CFO, an activist jailed during South Africa's apartheid era, a Norweigan electrical engineer, a computer scientist from Zimbabwe, a home-schooling mom, a Mexican investment banker, a paramedic whose property fight went all the way to the Supreme Court, and a wholesaler dealing in native American crafts and arts.  To further complicate the picture, they all started out in very different places.  Some were Democrats, some Republicans, some Communists, others totally unpolitical, and yet here they are, all in one  compendium telling their stories of why they now feel that Libertarianism is the path to freedom.

Myth-ing Time

    Can you believe it is already Throw-away Thursday? And what happened to Wildcard Wednesday, you might ask. Myth-ing in Action, it was. To tell the truth, I was traveling by car for over 650 miles and since I've been packing and cleaning for several days, I failed you by not having something in the queue ready to go.
    Never fear! I will make it up to you by introducing the Sweet Myth-tery of Life, or at least the Myth Adventure series by Robert Asprin (1946 - 2008). Now you will get dozens of books instead of just two.. well, almost dozens.

About the series:
     Poor Skeeve! He only was learning to become a magician so he could be a better thief. Then, just as his master, Grimble, is showing him how to conjure up a demon, the man falls over dead, leaving Skeeve, a lowly apprentice with a extremely angry demon in the middle of a pentagram. And he has no idea how to get rid of him. Didn't I say he was an apprentice? A very wet behind the ears, green as they come, fresh from the field apprentice. And there is the demon Aahz, complete with green scales and sharp, sharp teeth staring at him.
   From this humble beginning, there develops a dependency, partnership, and finally friendship between the demon (short for dimension traveler) from Prev Aahz, and the learning a lot about life Klahd (pronounced clod) named Skeeve. Along the way, they pick up such interesting people and creatures as Gleep, the one worded dragon and a bodyguard named Pookie, who tries to be inconspicuous but she is Aahz's cousin. The series follows this partnership as it becomes a business, giving the whole of several dimensions a fun, er, run for their money.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Creative Paradigm for Environmentalism

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things
William McDonough & Michael Braungart
2002, North Point Press

Where to get it: 
From Amazon

Why this book?:

I picked up this book at a second-hand store, intrigued by the back cover blurb that said:

"McDonough and Braungart explain how products can be designed from the outset so that, after their useful life, they will provide nourishment for something new.  They can be conceived as 'biological nutrients' that will easily reenter the water or soil without depositing synthetic materials and toxins.  Or they can be 'technical nutrients' that will continually circulate as pure and valuable materials within closed-loop industrial cycles."

Back in 1991,  I had attended an environmental conference of manufacturers beginning the discussion on just this topic, yet less extensive.  They were trying to save money by re-using water in industrial plants, recycling,  instead of throwing out, side-materials created during production (metal and wood shavings, e.g.), finding better ways to recycle metals, etc.  So this book was right up my alley.

The book had an interesting feel - and I don't mean the style or the tone - the first chapter  "This Book is Not a Tree" explained it.   The book itself was designed for complete recycling, and is made out of recyclable plastic, as is its ink.   All of a sudden I felt very hopeful -- that maybe at last the environmental movement was on a new track, not discussing constantly what was wrong, but coming up with new solutions in real-time.

Monday, October 24, 2011

This is a guest post by Emlyn Chand, author of Farsighted

For years, I focused on reading classic literature with the occasional YA novel thrown in as a fun change. But you know what? I'm done moving back and forth between what I think I need to be reading and what I know I want to read. I'm making YA my official genre du jour. And what's not to love? Let's take a quick journey back to the beginning of it all... The 1930s were the decade when Juvenile Literature first asserted itself as a genre with books such as Boylston’s Sue Barton series and Rose Wilder Lane’s Let the Hurricane Roar. In the 1950s, JD Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye further defined the protagonists of this genre —those who are not quite grown-ups, but aren’t kids either, those who are in the process of discovering who they are and how they fit into the world around them. It’s clear that the success of a certain boy wizard (does he even need to be named?) brought readers to YA in droves. And from there, literature for a young adult audience is absolutely everywhere.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sensual Fairy Tale

When I was a youngster, we started ‘library’ as a class in fourth grade.  I was so excited! The first thing I did was read every fairy tale book in the library except for the Spanish tales. I never quite understood those. Then I moved to mythology and finally onto science fiction. The next review is a return to fairyland and my youth via Amanda Hocking.

Virtue – A Fairy Tale
Amazon Digital Services

From Amazon:
In a world filled with magic, love might be the final answer in the eternal battle between good and evil. When Lux is tasked with retrieving the virtuous Lily for his master, his entire world is put in jeopardy. Lux must battle goblins, demon dogs, and sea dragons to rescue the one he loves, and that's only the beginning of what he must face...

Virtue is a fairy tale for young adults with action, suspense, and romance. It contains mild language and some suggestive dialogue. Recommended ages 14 and up.

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Little Something for the Soul

Lately I have been reading books containing time travel as part of their theme. One of my favorites was Replay by Ken Grimwood. I also enjoyed Door into Summer by Robert Heinlein when I read it but don’t remember it now, making it a decent read but not outstanding. There was a time when I couldn’t get enough of Heinlein and in fact got my fist ‘A’ from Mr. Allen, a devil of an high school English teacher who sent our papers out to professional graders. (Until he showed up, I could write ‘A’ papers during the five minutes before the bell rang!) I used a line out of Revolt 2100, something to do with censorship being the keystone to tyranny, which seemed to appeal to my 16-year-old mind and libertarian streak. But I have digressed. As  I was saying, I seem to be on a time travel streak and while this new book has some time travel in it, it is not central. 

Time’s Edge
By J. M. Dattilo
ISBN-13: 978-1453853542

From Amazon:
Imagine being a Commander in the Galactic Armed Forces and on a mission so secret that you can’t be told what it is. Imagine being thrown into another time and place with no explanation. Imagine being stuck with a smart-mouthed computer, an ultra-correct android, and a seven-foot tall monster who knows both Santa Claus and Shakespeare. Imagine being lost in time with a woman who may either be falling in love with you or trying to kill you. Imagine being in a place that sits between worlds, dimensions, and times. Imagine Time’s Edge. Time's Edge is the first place winner of the Tassy Walden Award, a literary prize given by the Shoreline Arts Alliance of Connecticut. A fast-paced, lighter tale, the story blends adventure, humor, and romance in a fun-to-read mix of sci-fi and fantasy.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thrift: The Skill of Choice for a Difficult Economy

by Samuel Smiles
various editions in hardcover, paperback, and kindle (free version) from Amazon

Imagine yourself in the time of Dickens.  Factories are belching smoke and toxins into the air.  Folks are working for peanuts in the sweatshops.  There are workhouses for the poor, and children working as pickpockets just to survive.   These are the years that Samuel Smiles lived through.   If you've ever seen "A Christmas Carol" you might remember the scene where those working to help the poor ask Scrooge for a donation (which, of course, he refuses).  One of them might have been Samuel Smiles, because he was in the business of helping the poor.  He is credited with creating some of the world's first self-help books, of which Thrift (first printed in 1875, or 78 depending on who you ask), in my opinion, is one of the best.

As you would expect, the language seems really archaic to us now, but I found this book fascinating because human beings have changed a whole lot less that we might think from the days of the Industrial Revolution.  Much of what he writes about could just as well have appeared in the news this morning:

(location 3958 Kindle edition)
"True benevolence does not consist in giving money.  Nor can charitable donations, given indiscriminately to the poor, have any other effect than to sap the foundations of self-respect and break down the very outworks of virtue itself.  There are many forms of benevolence which create the very evils they are intended to cure, and encourage the poorer classes in the habit of dependence upon the charity of others to the neglect of those far healthier means of social well-being which lie within their own reach."

Smiles' work with the poor seems somehow contemporary.  Programs to help folks who are struggling to manage their money, handle their debts, and find ways to cope in a nasty economy, parallel in many ways the tools (many of them, tools developed between the ears) Smiles suggested for people way back then.

He has a number of things to say about what money is for (and it's not just the obvious) what it does to the person who has too much of it, how it can run (or ruin) your life. 

Human motivations and responses were clearly the same then as they are now, and somehow I find this link to the past reassuring.  We've been down this road before, and we've learned (and then unlearned, apparently) difficult lessons the hard way.  This book teaches us that the old adage that those who do not study history are condemned to repeat it.  We can learn from this book, and the others in his series ("Self Help," and "Character" in particular)  in spite of the fact that there are some glaring surprises (the view of women in the 19th century was hardly hopeful to those of us who value careers and independence, but might feel very heartening to many stay-at-home moms). 

The best part (for those who are really thrifty) is that the Kindle version is available for free.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wild Card Ghosts

"Take my hand." said the ghost
Oh, it is that time of year; ghosts and goblins; trick or treat; life and death; and apples to eat! So here is your trick. How would a toddler survive a knife welding assassin? Well, by trooping off to the local graveyard of course. And who would take care of him? The ghosts who live there, who else? And how long could he stay there?

This is Wild Card Wednesday and I really do have something new for you. While cruising through my Twitter feed, I found a wonderful tweet.  Many of you, if you follow me on Twitter, may have seen it as a re-tweet from me. And here is your treat! Listen, my readers, and you shall hear Neil Gaiman read from his work "The Graveyard Book" with clear, cool charm.  Neil Gaiman’s | The Graveyard Book Video Tour Readings

To me, this is quite a unique tale. I'd like to tell you all how good this story is but the fact it has won the Newbery Medal, the Carnegie Medal, and the Hugo Award (my favorite BTW), says it so much better than I ever could. So let's leave it at that. My suggestion is you take a look at the link and listen to at least chapter one. Then tell me you aren't hooked on The Graveyard Book. I certainly was.

They say authors shouldn't read their own work since writers are rarely actors, but those people have never heard Gaiman. It's truly excellent, even if it is not 'acted'.  At first, having heard many a book on tape, I was distracted by watching him read...well, have you seen him? Who could blame me? Within three or so minutes, his rugged good looks gave way to the beauty of the smooth snugness of the words which then gave way to a captivating tale. One I plan to buy. Just so I can read it. And perhaps review it in the future. (But mostly I want to see how he weaves words together in such a poetic way.) As to a review, for now, the awards speak for the book. Besides, I got to read it first!

Don't for get our giveaway book this month - Heir to Power by Michele Poague.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Time and Time Again

Just finished two time travel novels and I surely wish I had more time! I always look forward to seeing time travel movies and reading time travel novels because the possibilities are endless (and timeless) just as any sub-genre in science fiction can be. I believe it is harder to write a good and internally consistence time travel novel. It is so easy to forget which timeline the guy shaved his head or when did he speak to that woman named Susan or When did Elaine become Polly. As confusing as it is for the author and the editor, think of the poor reader who is doing their best to unravel a world full of crossing paths especially when there are consistence errors. The Polly thing threw me for such a loop and it wasn't until the second reading of Willis' book that I realized it was a typo!

First up is:

Faces in Time
By Lewis Aleman
Publisher: Megalodon Entertainment LLC

From Amazon:
A 20-Year Race Through Time...
     In the near future, one man holds the key to our past. Chester Fuze lived a solitary life until he flung himself twenty years back in time. For years, he had loved movie star Rhonda 
Romero through television screens, movie theaters, and magazine covers. It wasn't until she had fallen so far as to sell her face for a cosmetic transplant that he knew he had to travel back and save her before her life headed down such a tragic and destructive path. Lunging backward through two decades in a flash, Chester races across country and enters the world of seedy gambling and the bizarre jungle of behind-the-scenes Hollywood, while being hunted down by a deranged bookie, an escaped convict, and even his past self, all of whom are determined to kill him. He had put aside the secret to time travel, daring not risk the world to test his theory. It had placed him in a straight jacket for several years of his life. It had estranged his own mother from him. He had let it go for his own sanity. Now, he'll pick it back up to save Rhonda. God help us all.

About the Book:
     The story opens with Chester watching all the news coverage of Rhonda Romero's face transplant for money operation and recovery through the various news outlets. This is the woman he has passionately loved from afar for more than 20 years! We follow Chester as he makes the jump to 20 years earlier; his whole being bent on saving Romero from this fate worse than death - selling her face for billions (face prostitution). But some things don't make sense. Why is his car there when he goes back? Where did the purple shirt come from? Can he actually change events or will he have to suffer through everything again? And why, when everything he had with him came through unchanged, is he looking 20 years younger?
   As the story proceeds Chester is faced with problems trying to save Romero, problems with his present day self, problems with a bookie out to kill him, and problems trying to save another young woman's life

My take:
    The basic plot is interesting. The first few pages piqued my interest enough to pay 99 cents. Yes, there was some torturous descriptions and similes but the plot felt like it would go somewhere new and different. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Have you ever watched one of those crime shows where the first five minutes is spent looking at the evil psychopath or through the eyes of the killer?  Remember how eerie that is? The first 30% of this book feels just like that. To top it off almost half of the book is like this:

      "Sometimes that which one wants to see least is the hardest from which to look away. It was a meek moment thrust into audacious light when Rhonda Romero, the fallen star and facial donor, exited the hospital two days later. The clicking, the flashing, the calamity of it all; it was both a sad intrusion and a powerfully obscure perversity."
      Or this:
     One discriminates one's company shrewdly in youth, lightly in adulthood, and with broad abandon in age. In youth, one expects the most interesting and perfectly uniform friends. By old age, one brightens just at the sight of another born within the same decade who might remember the same sone, movie, or event - one who might hold some knowledge on how to defeat their ticking nemesis or, in the least, help one better enjoy life's slow, automated ride."

     Such passages wouldn't be terrible if the first half of the book wasn't ALL written this way. If any of you have read the original Frankenstein by Shelley and thoroughly enjoy the slow pace of the plot due to language such as this, you might well enjoy Faces in Time. For me, both were hard to read, but yes, I read them to the very end. For the last 25% of the book, Aleman finally lets the reader enjoy the plot, though the plot is quite thin in the end.
   I didn't find the characters enticing nor fully filled out. Even our protagonist is a little hard to take because the first 20% or more of the book is spent wondering if he is a psychopath or not.  It is hard to change horses in the middle of a race, even if it is a slow one.
   I don't fully recommend this book to anyone but caution the reader to be wary. Much of the book reads like a treatise and I never did find it actually telling a good story.


Next on base:

Do Over
By Jeff Kirvin

From Amazon:
Richie Preston is 27 years old and still lives in his parents' house, still works at a dead end job, lost his great love, still hasn't really begun his life.

One day the fates smile on him and give him the opportunity to start over, to go back to being 17 and about to start his senior year of high school, only this time with all the memories of what he did wrong the first time. All he has to do is not interfere with anyone else's life. It sounds like a great deal, but living up to his end of the bargain turns out to be harder than Richie ever imagined.

If you had the chance, would you make the choice?

About the book:
    Richie flips hamburgers for a living and even though he is a great worker, one of the best, he can't get an assistant manager position. His boss doesn't find him management material. To top it off he lives with his parents and doesn't have a girlfriend. In short, he feels like a loser.
    Then into his life comes Jack Fates who gives him a 'do over' because life has been unkind to Richie. Going back 10 years, he gets to try to win his sweetheart, try to beat out the bully in school, and try for college once again. The only thing he must not do is tell anyone, make a profit on his future knowledge or interfere with anyone else's life. If he does, he will find himself right back in the future with no changes.
    As Richie drifts through school, he starts making small changes that end up to be big ones.  He changes his name from Richie to Rich, his eyewear from glasses to contacts, his study habit from okay to good. He asks his female friend out on a date because he wants to learn how to do it. Everything goes along well until he has to make a life or death decision, one that may forever trap him in his previous future life.

My take:
   The plot in Do Over was well constructed though it began to feel a bit like the movie Family Man. The rules Richie had to live under for what would be ten years seemed too strict for success. He does tell one person about his step back in time and gets a warning from Jack Fates that he is flirting with being returned to his old life. But the story never makes much about this break in the rules until much later in the book. What Richie must deal with is handling others' misfortunes. He is not to do anything that drastically changes the life of another but how to you stand by knowing...
    While the story itself was well executed, I didn't find the writing engaging or nor did I feel in touch with the characters. First, I think it is incredibly hard to write good stories, so I always marvel when someone does it perfectly and try not to be too hard when someone misses. It is too easy to say things like," I went to the movies with Jim. Mary came in at the last minute. She ate some of my popcorn." instead of drawing a picture of the scene. Too much of this book is told in this fashion. Seldom does the reader get to live inside the story. For me, I would have found it more fun to be part of the action.
     This is a short read and I believe young people will enjoy the plot, twists and all. The dilemma is one I think anyone could enjoy. For the mere price of 99 cents, less than a bottle of pop, you might want to take a chance on it. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Work it Off!

Pretty Woman
Add caption
   Pretty Woman
   By Fern Michaels
   Audio book
   Read by Laural Merlington

   About this book:
   Rosie Garderner and her best friend Vickie Winters were extremely close but when Vickie, who only wanted the best for her friend, tries to tell Rosie the man she is about to marry is a loser, things go very bad, so bad they quit speaking. Rosie finally realizes, after three years, that Vickie was right. She throws her husband, Kent, out. Unfortunately the next day she finds she had purchased a winning lottery ticket, one worth $302 million! How can she keep Kent's hands off the money? How does she rebuild her self-esteem? How does she move on?
   Rosie reconnects with Vicki and starts on a new life by hiring a trainer to help her lose weight and shape up!.

   My take:
   While listening to the book, the first thing I noticed is the author had no clue as to what size and weight woman wears what dress size. I realized this when Rosie admitted being 25 pounds heavier than Vicki but Rosie wore a size 14 while Vickie wore a size 6. Really? I would think any woman would know that, for smaller sizes, each size translate to about 15 pounds difference. It made me wonder if Fern is a woman or not. And a size 14 to 16 has nine rolls of fat? Really?
   Beyond this, the plot is okay. Rosie gets in shape, maybe a little too fast, and competes in a triathlon against her husband. Every divorced woman's dream is to best the creep who made her life miserable. (Same for a divorced husband, I suspect.)
   I liked this book and found it entertaining. I especially enjoyed Vickie and wished that she had more of a role in this book. Anyone who likes light romance, may well enjoy this.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Who IS Abby?

Let's call this Suspense Saturday for now because the book I am bringing to you today is full of suspense. It may seem odd but even though we know who the bad guys are, there is so much more to this little book.

Who IS Abigail Mitchell Available
   Eye of the God
   By Ariel Allison
   Publisher: Abingdon Press Fiction; Original edition
   ISBN: 1426700687

   From GoodReads:
    When jewel thieves attempt to steal the Hope Diamond, Dr Abigail Mitchell stands in their way. Abby's  faith is put to the test as she confronts the father who abandoned her, the betrayal of the only man she has  ever loved, and the possibility that she may lose her live because of the legendary gem.

  About this book:
     The book prolog tells of the purchase of a blue diamond in the 1653. Here we learn the tale of the diamond's beginnings. The book opens in the present day during Carnival in Brazil. Here we meet the girl from the Smithsonian, Abby Mitchell, as she tries to warn an art museum director of an impending theft - a theft that happens in the next few minutes!
   Thieves, Alex and Isaac Weld, steal from the museum and take Abby's beautiful ring at gun point before slipping off into the crowd of Carnival. The brothers work for a person they only know as the Broker and he takes orders from the Collectors, people who pay high prices for masters' artwork, even if that work must be stolen. In fact, it is the work that cannot be bought they seem to want most.  And now they have set their eyes on the Hope Diamond, the very thing Abby is creating a fund raiser around at the Smithsonian.
  Between the story of Abby, Alex, and Isaac, the author weaves the myths concerning the Hope Diamond itself. Those tales cover, in detail, three of the owners of the diamond and how the curse of the Hope Diamond was true for them
   When Abby returns to Washington D. C., Alex Weld poses as a freelance article writer who wishes to interview Abby. With charm and grace, he manages to worm his way into not only her heart but into the event where the Hope Diamond will be the center piece.
   Add to this the shadowy characters, Abby's father and Abby's two best friends and you have some real intrigue.

My take:
    This is a suspense story with a dash of romance, just a perfect amount to feel real without overdoing it. I did enjoy the 'back story' of the Hope Diamond but I warn the reader even this is a tale, not history. 
   The characters felt fully fleshed out to me, at least the main two characters of Abby and Alex. The reader is allowed to follow the process of the bad guys and the good guys throughout the story. The real question is not who is the bad guy; the real question is who is Abby and what is she doing? For me this was more intriguing than if the author had hidden the thieves from our view. 
    There are several questionable actions taken by Abby and others, and the reader starts to wonder what is going on here. The truth is, until you get to the end, you don't really know why some things are done. What is Abby hiding? What is her father hiding? And who are DeDe and Dow and how do they figure into the story? These are the questions that make the book suspenseful.

   I recommend this book to all readers since the romance is basically chaste and the violence minimal. After seeing other reviews, I find that women tend to like the book better than men. I suspect it is because women are less likely to demand as much realism as men.  I, for one, found it disturbing, having done major events in my time, that Abby had so much free time the week of the event. There were other things that demanded a suspension of belief but this only slightly distracted me from enjoying the story.