Archives for February 2014

Review: Thimble Down by Pete Prown (excerpt, giveaway)

thimble downThimble Down
written by Pete Prown
published by Pete Prown

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Why did I pick this book: I was asked by the publicist to review this book. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)

Did I enjoy this book: 
It wasn’t terrible.  There was nothing exceptional about it; I’d liken it to the B-movie version of The Hobbit, but I fear that’s doing it a disservice.  It wasn’t BAD.  Despite the fact that Prown’s world is seriously similar to Middle Earth (halflings, elves and all), I didn’t mind as much as I thought I would (or should).  Instead of being annoyed that Prown borrows Tolkein’s world, I sort of wondered if this was, perhaps, a Hobbity town across the ocean that Gandalf hadn’t quite discovered yet.  …A middling Middle Earth, perhaps?

Mostly I think Thimble Down is delightful and funny, and you’ll likely enjoy it if you know why it is the dwarves agree to bring Bilbo along on their journey.  Even if you don’t know about Bilbo, I’d wager a pint you’d be interested to hear his tale after reading Thimble Down.

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Would I recommend it: Yeah, why not?  If you’re a LOTR fan (and you can get past the ‘ZOMG this is like, exactly the same’ business), you’ll get a good chuckle out of it.

Will I read it again: Meh.

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About the book: 
Thimble Down, by Pete Prown, is a fantasy adventure novel, written to challenge and engage young adults ages 10 to 18.  The book is recommended for readers who enjoy The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, The Wind in the Willows, Redwall, Artemis Fowl, and other timeless tales set in landscapes and cultures that bring to mind England, Ireland, Scotland, and the British Isles.

Thimble Down is a country village where death and malice lurk the quiet lanes. When the vile, drunken Bing Rumple acquires a gem-laden treasure, violence begins to follow him everywhere. Where did Bing find such a precious jewel, and worse, is someone willing to kill to possess it? In this fast-paced adventure, the village bookmaster, Mr. Dorro, and his young companions Wyll Underfoot and Cheeryup Tunbridge are in a desperate race to find the answer—before death comes to Thimble Down.

Thimble Down is the first book in the “Chronicles of Dorro” young adult mystery series, which follows Dorro, Wyll, and Cheeryup, on their exciting, but dangerous, mystery adventures.

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The next morning, Bing Rumple was in full stride. He’d been walking in and out of shops, a chop house, pony stables, and many of the other burrows and houses that composed the center of Thimble Down, bragging about his exploits in the east. With his brother Farroot and Bill Thistle following him like a pair of leering weasels, Bing was enjoying his moment in the sun.

“How do you kill a ferocious goblin?” A youngling had just asked him this very question, and now he was preparing a grandly entertaining response. “Why, you can do it many ways, my boyo,” he said in a tough voice, but trying to stifle a grin. “You can stick him in the throat with an arrow at fifty paces, or sneak up from behind and garrote the bugger with a sturdy piece of rope. Me, I generally just cut ‘em to pieces with this elvish saber. Look!” he said, drawing the glimmering blade out of his scabbard, “you can even see bits of dried, black goblin blood, and burnt flesh in the crevices.” At this, the Halfling children screamed with a mix of fright and glee and ran off to tell their horrified mothers. Bing and his pals roared with laughter.

As he expected, most people in Thimble Down had never even seen a goblin or troll up close. “What do they look like? Do they have bloody fangs?” asked young Tom Talbo, quivering with delight. Bing seemed to think for a moment before replying, “Oh course they do, young sir. And they have large bulbous eyes, thick grey-green or black skin covered with festering sores, long muscled arms, and meaty hands with claws on the end. They are fearsome to be sure, and if you get too close, they can shred yer intestines in a mere flash.” Bing embellished his tale each time someone asked. He’d never been a celebrity before, and he rather liked it.

“The worst of it was when me ‘n’ the lads were trapped with an elfin hunting party, pinned down by about a hundred and fifty goblins that outnumbered us mightily,” he rambled on. “We were on the top of a small bluff with goblins and trolls all around us. The elves fought valiantly, but we saved the day. Let me tell you the whole story.”

“Ya see, goblins hate fire, and by a stroke of fortune, the top of the bluff was covered with dry, dead brambles and bushes. So I braved a rain of goblin arrows and ran over to the elf chieftain. I said, ‘Toldir’—that was his name—‘go ask yer men to gather all the brush and big rocks possible, and arrange them on rim,’ I says. Of course, Toldir got pretty steamed at me for calling his warriors Men, because of course, elves ain’t Men and Men ain’t elves, if you reckon my meaning. But in the heat o’ battle, these things happen. Anyway, the elves did as I asked, and soon the entire edge of our bluff was ringed with brush and big boulders. I’ll hand it to them elves—they are strong and can move quick-like, especially in a pinch.”

“As a further stroke of luck, the elfin hunters had leatherskin bags filled with deer and musk oil from their recent kills, which we used to drench the brush. At Toldir’s command, the oil was lit afire, creating a massive inferno around the perimeter. I gave a shout of ‘Heave-ho!’ and we used sticks and logs to push the big rocks and flaming brush over the lip and down onto the enemy, who were stricken with terror. Those goblins that weren’t killed outright by the boulders and stones were hit with the flaming brambles and verily burst into flames. And any demons that escaped this hell were soundly stuck with deadly elvish arrows or, might I modestly say, by the edge of my sword as we charged down the hill to destroy the enemy. With the goblins either dead or in complete disarray, our troop was able to escape and rejoin the larger elf forces to fight another day.”

Huzzah! Hurrah for Bing!” applauded his audience. Bing, Farroot, and Bill tossed handfuls of pennies into the crowd to curry their favor even more, driving the children mad with joy. Still, some of the older Halflings at the edge of the crowd couldn’t put the image of the sniveling Bing Rumple of yester-year out of their minds. “How could that miserable excuse for a Halfling be such a hero?” they thought. But in general, the village folk were greatly entertained, and this was a great boon to local merchants who hadn’t seen crowds this big since the harvest festival of the previous year. Up and down the hard-packed dirt lanes in Thimble Down, sellers were bringing their wares into the open air, especially pies, cakes, and any variety of dried, candied meats on a stick, which only cost a penny or two and were gobbled down rapturously.

Many in the crowd were also ogling the gem-encrusted brooch pinned on Bing’s left breast. Indeed, more than a few secretly began to covet it. Among them was one Halfling who decided—at that very moment—to steal it.

Even if it meant someone had to die.

pete prownAbout the author: Pete Prown is a noted American writer of Young Adult fantasy books, as well as a magazine and book editor, and journalist. He’s written both fiction and non-fiction books, including Thimble Down and a series of instructional titles about guitars. Also a talented musician and recording artist, his Guitar Garden music is available on CDBaby.com and iTunes.

Find Mr. Prown here: Goodreads, web

 

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DNF: Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard by Lars Guignard

Ghost Leopard - CoverZoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard (Zoe & Zak Adventures #1)
written by Lars Guignard
published by Fantastic Press

find it here: (affiliate links) Amazon, Book Depository, Goodreads

Why did I pick this book: I participated in the blog tour hosted by Mother Daughter & Son Book Reviews. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)

Where I stopped reading: page 64 on my Nook

Why I stopped reading: I just could not get into this book. It is a middle grade fantasy book that sounded like a fantastic read. I was really looking forward to it. It took me three days to read 64 pages. I just didn’t want to read it. The characters turned me off as did the circumstances. Case in point, these kids are 11 years old. They go with their single parents to India for a government conference where the parents, who are there for an economic summit or something, are suddenly called away on some emergency (economics related?) in a remote location with no cell or other communication capabilities. (Really?) So what do they do? They leave the children on their own in a foreign country with a rent-a-nanny who would pretty much leave them alone. Yeah, right. That’s not going to happen. I get that it’s a fantasy book and the kids had to get on their own but this is just downright ridiculous.You have to make the unbelievable believable for it to be an interesting fantasy read.

Further, the fact that they just go off on this adventure without really thinking about it was crazy. They weren’t worried about their own safety or well-being in a foreign country. Ridiculous. I also did not like the fact that they were using a trampoline to dive into the hotel swimming pool. Way too dangerous!!! (I’m a former lifeguard.) That sends the way wrong message to kids.chrissysig
What others have rated this book: According to Goodreads, the average rating for Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard is 4.3 stars. It looks like a majority of readers gave this book 5 stars. There were 46 5-star reviews on Amazon. Just because I didn’t finish this book doesn’t mean you may not.

About the book – from Amazon: Zoe and Zak are lost in exotic India, where gods and magic still exist. Before they can find their way home, they just have to do one little thing… …Save a mythical creature from an ancient evil that wants to rule the world. When Zoe Guire goes along on her mom’s business trip to India, things get very weird, very quickly. An elephant god speaks to her from the bottom of a swimming pool… She and her classmate Zak get locked in a trunk and shipped off to a strange city near the foothills of the Himalayas… and a crazy snake charmer tells them they’ve been chosen to protect a mythical creature called the Ghost Leopard from an ancient evil that wants to take over the world. As they travel deeper into the majestic mountains known as the Realm of the Gods, things get even weirder. If she and Zak want to make it back to their parents, they’re going to have to tap into powers they never knew existed. Because if they don’t, things will never be the same for any of us ever again.

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Review: Deep Into Dusk by Laurie Stevens

deep into duskDeep Into Dusk (Gabriel McRay #2)
written by Laurie Stevens
published by Follow Your Dreams Publishing

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Book Depository, Goodreads

Why did I pick this book: I enjoyed her first novel, The Dark Before Dawn, so I wanted to read the next book in the series. Read my review of The Dark Before Dawn here.

Did I enjoy this book: 
It was mediocre.

Strike one: character development. In a review for The Dark Before Dawn, I described Gabriel McRay as “an LA cop on the edge.” In Deep Into Dusk, he flies way over the edge; to the point that he’s no longer a good guy. He does things that make it impossible to cheer for him. And his once razor sharp girlfriend, Ming, becomes so desperate and sappy that I ended up not liking her anymore either.

Strike two: predictability. I guessed whodunit within the first 50 pages. I even got the accomplice right. I hate that.

But I can’t say she strikes out completely. She’s still a great writer. She tells an interesting story. And I have to admit, I pretty much enjoyed the story even if it was a little disappointing.

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Would I recommend it: It’s still an interesting story.  If you’re looking for something easy to read while waiting in a carpool line, doctor’s office, hair salon etc.; sure. Why not?

Will I read it again: No.

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About the book – from Goodreads: In this the second installment of the pulse-pounding series, Detective Gabriel McRay is once again forced to face his inner demons. From the enclaves of the super rich to the kinky underbelly of Los Angeles, women are turning up dead and Gabriel is determined to hunt down the killer. His one and only witness is the beautiful Tara Samuels. Blinded by his own sympathy and desire, Gabriel soon realizes Tara is not the fragile victim he thinks she is. Trapped in the web of her dark world, Gabriel realizes that only way out is to find the sadistic killer before he loses not only his career, but his sanity and his life.

 

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Blog Tour: A Reign Supreme by Richard Crystal (spotlight, excerpt, giveaway)

Reign Tour

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Reign SupremeA Reign Supreme
written by Richard Crystal
published by Premier Digital Publishing

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book: When a copper deposit is discovered on the land of the Makenda tribe in eastern Kenya, a young king, Ule Samanga, is told to relocate his people to a refugee camp in Nairobi or risk imprisonment. When all appears lost, the young king discovers the existence of Curtis Jackson, a mysterious half-brother presently living in New York. Believing this unexpected news is an omen from the spirit of his ancestors, he eagerly seeks his help to save their sacred tribal homeland. A struggling mortgage broker and former jazz prodigy, Curtis initially has no interest in developing a relationship with his newly found African family. But when he’s presented with an intriguing business offer, he embarks on a journey to Africa that becomes a spiritual odyssey, changing him in ways he never imagined.

In this assured debut, Richard Crystal weaves a complex story of contemporary moral imperatives conceived during Obama’s victorious election as America’s first black President. Themes of corporate malfeasance and exploitation will resonate with readers of The Constant Gardener and Blood Diamond. But beyond the various political machinations, readers will find a heartwarming story infused with the strains of Coltrane, the history of jazz and the enduring power of family.

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Curtis put his arms behind his head and stared into space – still exploring his fate. For some unexplained reason, unique forces had converged in this far away place, enabling him to come into the world.

The Makenda believed there was a simple explanation. The spirits of their tribal ancestors were looking down from above and protecting them.

Curtis just wasn’t buyin’ into it. To him, it was primitive mumbo jumbo not to be taken too seriously.

But what if it wasn’t? What if the Makenda were right and the spirit of his mother was doing exactly that? You know, looking down from above and protecting her only son.

And, if indeed she was, how in the hell was she going to do it? What, in God’s name, was her freakin’ plan?

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“Mr. Crystal has fashioned a tale of virtue and vice in the modern world. It deals with corporate greed, the politics of today’s African economic scene and how they test the people who have to make their living in that environment. And it’s all backed by the mellow sounds of modern jazz. I’m sure it will intrigue all.”
– Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, legendary basketball star, author and jazz aficionado


“From the streets of New York to a remote tribal village in Kenya, A Reign Supreme is a moody, intriguing and emotional story. Our hero’s journey from teenage jazz prodigy, to a man haunted by his past, to accepting his surprising fate of heritage, is a terrific read.
I’m not just Richard Crystal’s brother, I’m his fan.”
– Billy Crystal, actor, comedian, and writer


“As you read ‘A Reign Supreme’ you will wonder if the author is a jazz musician from the streets of New York or was raised in a village in Kenya. The language of the characters is perfect and real. The descriptions of locations are both factual and extremely visual. Richard Crystal takes you on an adventure involving family loyalty, greed, life changing decisions and much, much more. Something for everyone.”
– Lou Adler, award winning music and film producer, recently inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame


“John Coltrane constructed his four-part magnum opus A Love Supreme as a harmonic journey meant to convey an ascendancy to spiritual enlightenment—the musical statement of one man meant to inspire and uplift all. With deep appreciation for that inspirational source, Richard Crystal has been inspired to create a story in four sections that follows that same path to a personal awakening, a return to one’s roots, and realization of one’s purpose. A Reign Supreme is a rare example of a powerful literary work drawing its spirit from a timeless musical classic, with a deft, reverential touch that avoids cliche or overstatement.”
– Ashley Kahn, jazz historian and author of A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane’s Signature Album and Kind of Blue – The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece.


“In “A Reign Supreme”, Richard Crystal creates a multi-dimensional experience for the reader such as I’ve rarely experienced. Besides creating a fascinating and suspenseful plot that keeps the reader turning pages and transports him or her to Kenya with details you can taste, hear and feel so well you would swear you were there, he has, through his own musical experience, created descriptions of jazz that enables the reader to actually hear the music. It’s extraordinary.”
– Andrew Neiderman, Author of The Devil’s Advocate and the worldwide V.C. Andrews literary franchise


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RichardAbout the author: Richard Crystal has produced and written countless television shows and penned numerous screenplays for theatrical feature films in Hollywood. He has sung and produced four pop/jazz albums performing the classic standards he first heard as a young boy growing up in a house filled with music. A Reign Supreme is his first novel, inspired by a trip to South Africa and Botswana on his twenty-fifth wedding anniversary with his wife Fran.

Find Mr. Crystal here: WebsiteTwitterFacebookPinterest, Goodreads

 

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(Ends  March 14, 2014)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or PayPal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Blog Tour: Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes (review)

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queen of hearts coverQueen of Hearts (Volume One: The Crown)
written by Colleen Oakes
published by SparkPress (an BookSparks imprint)

find it here: (affiliate links) Amazon (Kindle), Amazon (paperback), Goodreads

Why did I pick this book: I am a fan of the Wicked series by Gregory Maguire. This seemed right up my alley. So, I signed up to participate in the blog tour hosted by BookSparksPR(I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)

Did I enjoy this book:
I really did. The first 20 pages had me unsure, then Cheshire and the tunnels happened. From that point on I read every free chance I had. I did not want to put this book down.

Dinah is the heir to the Hearts throne. Her mother is dead and her father, the King of Hearts, rules Wonderland with fear and dominance. But the King is power hungry and doesn’t want to share his throne. We meet Dinah when she is 15 years old. At this time, she also meets her half-sister, Vittiore, for the first time. Then the story jumps to when she is 17, mere months from her coronation.

Dinah is young, immature, and cold. She is also naive as to some things. I liked her from the beginning. Her father doesn’t care about her. In fact, he openly hates her. Her brother is nicknamed The Mad Hatter. He clearly has mental issues but makes beautiful hats. Vittiore is the illegitimate daughter of the King. He brings her to the kingdom and treats her as a real princess. She is dainty and innocent. I have my theories about Vittiore and I’m anxious to see how those theories play out as the series continues.

Cheshire is the King’s most trusted adviser. I like him. He seems evil but knows how to play the game. Harris, Dinah’s tutor and pseudo-father, is a sweet man who truly cares for Dinah. The maids and butlers remind of Downton Abbey. (I think I’ve been obsessed with that show! I love it!) But these characters remind me of those “downstairs.” Wardley is Dinah’s crush, best friend, and the brother she should have had. I want to see if he does find her. All of these characters are familiar, but so different from what you think you know. It was interesting to “meet” each of them and figuring out how they are similar to their Carroll counterparts.

This was a wonderful read. Dark, fascinating, intriguing. At 200 pages, Queen of Hearts is a quick read that sucks you down the rabbit hole.

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Would I recommend it: If you like these background books to popular stories,  you will enjoy Queen of Hearts.

Will I read it again: I may when the next book comes out. I can’t wait for that one. I also want to read Ms. Oakes’s next series, Wendy Darling.

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About the book: 
Blossoming Love. A Father’s Betrayal. A Kingdom with a Black Secret.

As Princess of Wonderland Palace and the future Queen of Hearts, Dinah’s days are an endless monotony of tea, tarts, and a stream of vicious humiliations at the hands of her father, the King of Hearts. The only highlight of her days is visiting Wardley, her childhood best friend, the future Knave of Hearts — and the love of her life.

When an enchanting stranger arrives at the Palace, Dinah watches as everything she’s ever wanted threatens to crumble. As her coronation date approaches, a series of suspicious and bloody events suggests that something sinister stirs in the whimsical halls of Wonderland. It’s up to Dinah to unravel the mysteries that lurk both inside and under the Palace before she loses her own head to a clever and faceless foe.

Part epic fantasy, part twisted fairy tale, this dazzling saga will have readers shivering as Dinah’s furious nature sweeps Wonderland up in the maelstrom of her wrath. Familiar characters such as Cheshire, the White Rabbit, and the Mad Hatter make their appearance, enchanting readers with this new, dark take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

But be warned…not every fairytale has a happy ending.

This is the story of a princess who became a villain.

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colleen oakesAbout the author: Colleen Oakes is the author of the Elly in Bloom series and the upcoming YA fantasy Queen of Hearts Saga, both published via SparkPress, a BookSparks imprint. She lives in North Denver with her husband and son. When not writing, Colleen enjoys swimming, traveling, and immersing herself in nerdy pop culture. She is currently at work on the last Elly novel and her second YA fantasy series, Wendy Darling.

Find Ms. Oakes here: web, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest

 

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Review: Vintage Attraction by Charles Blackstone

vintage attractionVintage Attraction
written by Charles Blackstone
published by Pegasus

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Why did I pick this book: I was asked to review this book by the publicist. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)

Did I enjoy this book: 
No, not really, but I mostly blame myself.  I ventured outside my favorite genres because, well, I like to drink wine, so I figured I’d give it a go.  In the same way that deep fried tofu is a gateway drug into full-blown vegetarianism, I figured a book about wine might be just the thing to interest me in the world of… err… literary professionals who write thinly veiled novels about their home lives.

That probably isn’t fair.  It’s not like Blackstone is a writer married to a… oh wait, yes he is.

My husband says I’m being too rough, and for once, I totally agree.  This wasn’t a book I would have picked for myself, but rather something new I was trying, and I failed.  It’s really not Blackstone’s fault.  He’s got impeccable grammar, a great vocabulary and, per his dust jacket photo, he’s a good looking guy.  It just seems to me that though we have much in common, if we met in person we’d probably spend most of our time arguing the semantics of “films” versus “movies.”  Add to that a plot resolution that left a vinegary taste in my mouth, and there you have it.  I should not be reviewing novels like this; they make me unnecessarily cranky.

Because I DID, in the end, learn a thing or two about wine.

Because I DID, in the end, learn a thing or two about wine.

Would I recommend it: Though there are many people who enjoy spending their leisure time reading novels that could be true, I’m not one of them.  There may be a novel out there that’ll draw me over to the more realistic side of the spectrum, but despite my love of wine, Vintage Attraction isn’t it.

Will I read it again: Decidedly not.

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About the book – from Goodreads: 
Before Peter Hapworth meets Izzy, he knows the difference between Pinot Noir and peanut butter, but that’s about it. Lonely and frustrated with his academic career–as well as with dating–his life takes a sudden turn one night when he turns on the television. He’s transfixed by the woman staring back at him, a glass of wine swirling delicately in her hand–Isabelle Conway, one of the preeminent sommeliers in the world. There’s something about her. Somehow, he feels like he already knows her.

On a whim, he pitches himself as a guest on her popular TV show, and the two embark on a whirlwind courtship. But relationships require a delicate balance of nurturing and belief, much like winemaking. Hapworth and Izzy must navigate the complex mysteries of wine–and the heart–from glamorous social events and domestic travails in Chicago to the vineyards and rocky bluffs of Santorini in Greece. Vintage Attraction is a rich and insightful novel by an exciting, young literary talent.

 

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Blog Tour: Just Like a Musical by Milena Veen (spotlight, excerpt, giveaway)

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just like a musicalJust Like a Musical
written by Milena Veen
published by Milena Veen

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book – from Goodreads: Seventeen-year-old Ruby Fields has always lived by the rules set up by her foolishly overprotective mother. As a result, she doesn’t go to school, she’s never been kissed, and almost everything she knows about life is what she has learned from old movies.

But now…now there’s this Joshua guy. He’s quirky, and he’s tall, and he uses “romantic” and “old-fashioned” in the same sentence.

And there’s Mrs. Wheeler, an eccentric retired Hollywood costume designer and Ruby’s new best friend.

When Mrs. Wheeler ends up in hospital, just after telling Ruby her long-kept secret, Ruby decides to break her mother’s rules and embark on a journey that will change her life forever. 

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Sometimes my life turns into a musical. The outside world just fades away, and the song starts playing in my head, sad and beautiful at the same time, and I sing along, and I dance inwardly until my inner feet start burning with pain. Oh, how I dance with those gentlemen in dark suits and girls in pink dresses with ponytails and bright eyes! The beginning of this secret musical usually follows the sound of my life cracking down. And it always happens while I’m walking down the dark street.

Someone grabbed my shoulder and the music stopped.

“I’m so sorry,” Joshua said, pressing my head against his chest.

“It’s okay, really. It’s my fault; I shouldn’t have mentioned your sister.”

“Of course it’s not your fault,” he said, still holding me tightly. “I would like to talk to you about her, but I just don’t think I’m ready yet.”

I leaned my head against his shoulder. He kissed my hair. The night was green, the town looked like a post-apocalyptic movie scene, and his skin smelled of oranges. The lamp post turned off, trembled for a second or two like a child when he tries to shake off a bad dream, and then turned on again. A white cat ran across the street, her tail bristled.

“I want to do all the wrong things,” I said, raising my head from Joshua’s shoulder.

“Like what?”

I spread my arms out to the sky.

“I want to smoke, and drink, and scream, and eat ice cream until I throw up, and rob a bank, and run away to Canada…”

“How long can you go like this?” he laughed.

“Forever.”

“I’m not sure about the bank, but I think I can help you with other things,” he said. “Wait here, I’ll be back in ten minutes.”

milena veenAbout the author: Milena Veen was born in Belgrade, Serbia. Her first piece of writing, a poem about a walking cherry, saw the light of the day when she was seven. She’s been writing ever since.

Milena graduated from University of Belgrade with a degree in psychology. She lives in a little European town with her husband and a mute cat. When she’s not writing, she spends her time reading, riding her bicycle, and listening to music. She prefers clouds to sunshine and coffee to tea.

Find Ms. Veen here: blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest

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Review: Weaver by John Abramowitz

weaverWeaver (The Weaver Saga #1)
written by John Abramowitz
published by John Abramowitz

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, SmashwordsGoodreads

Why did I pick this book: The author asked if I would review his book. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)

Did I enjoy this book: 
Meh.

There were vampires, but they sucked souls instead of blood, and we weren’t allowed to call them vampires.  There were teenagers with super powers, but instead of saving the world they killed people and blamed it all on genetics.  There were love affairs, but they were obviously sour from the start (as evidenced by the backhanded allusions to Twilight).

And the teaser for book 2?  Yeah.  Zombies.  …I bet we’re not allowed to call them zombies, either…

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Would I recommend it: No.

Will I read it again: No.

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About the book – from Goodreads: 
Fifteen-year old Alex Cronlord just met the boy of her dreams. Literally. Unfortunately, the dream involved him killing her. When she encounters him at her school the next morning, Alex understandably freaks out – and her mother’s bizarre behavior only makes it worse. What Alex doesn’t realize is that she can see the future – which will get her into a whole lot of trouble.

Across town, FBI Agent Moira McBain and her partner Andy Hall investigate a series of house burnings in Dallas, Texas. When a clue leads them to the Cronlords, Moira discovers a disturbing link between Alex’s family and her own – which opens an old wound Moira has spent years trying to ignore.

Something is rotten in Dallas, Texas – something involving a secret society, children with extraordinary powers, and human-looking creatures who might literally be out of this world ….

Welcome to a different kind of world-wide web.

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Blog Tour: Hidden in Plain Sight by Jane Allen Petrick (spotlight, interview, giveaway)

Hidden In Plain SightHidden in Plain Sight: The Other People in Norman Rockwell’s America
written by Jane Allen Petrick
published by Informed Decisions Publishing

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Check out Belinda’s review here.

About the book: Norman Rockwell’s America was not all white. As early as 1936, Rockwell was portraying people of color with empathy and a dignity often denied them at the time. And he created these portraits from live models.

Hidden in Plain Sight: The Other People in Norman Rockwell’s America unfolds, for the first time, the stories of the Asian, African, and Native Americans who modeled for Norman Rockwell. These people of color, though often hidden in plain sight, are present throughout Rockwell’s more than 4000 illustrations. People like the John Lane family, Navajos poignantly depicted in the virtually unknown Norman Rockwell painting, “Glen Canyon Dam.” People like Isaac Crawford, a ten year old African-American Boy Scout who helped Norman Rockwell finally integrate the Boy Scout calendar.

In this engrossing and often humorous narrative, Jane Allen Petrick explores what motivated Norman Rockwell to slip people of color “into the picture” in the first place. And in so doing, she persuasively documents the famous illustrator’s deep commitment to and pointed portrayals of ethnic tolerance, portrayals that up to now have been, as Norman Rockwell biographer Laura Claridge so clearly put it, “bizarrely neglected”.

Hidden in Plain Sight: The Other People in Norman Rockwell’s America is an eye opener for everyone who loves Norman Rockwell, everyone who hates Norman Rockwell and for all those people in between who never thought much about Norman Rockwell because they believed Norman Rockwell never thought much about them. This book will expand the way you think about Norman Rockwell. And it will deepen the way you think about Norman Rockwell’s America.

efcinterview

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. Discover a Norman Rockwell, and a Norman Rockwell’s America, that has been hidden since 1936.

Why did you did you decide to write Hidden in Plain Sight? The “decision” emerged over time. I said, “OK, nobody has written about Anita and Lynda Gunn” (the little girls who modeled for Rockwell’s famous painting, The Problem We All Live With). “I’ll do some research and write an article about them.” But then I found out that neither had the stories been told about the Adams, Olff, Kip and other families of color who had modeled for The Golden Rule. Then I stumbled upon a photo of Norman Rockwell with a Navajo family and “discovered” Glen Canyon Dam. At this point I was nearly a year deep into the saga and the article had morphed into a book.

Did you have a specific audience in mind? Was the book meant as a textbook, educational supplement, an inspiration guide, or something else completely? It is my hope that Hidden in Plain Sight will serve as an inspiration and an eye-opener for all the people who love Norman Rockwell, all the people who hate him (think he’s trivial, or a racist, for example) and for all the people in between who never thought much about Rockwell at all, because they didn’t think Rockwell’s America had much to say about them. I think all will be surprised, and pleasantly so.

I loved how you included so many different ethnic groups in the discussion. How has the topic of equality evolved in art during your lifetime? I think the subject of racial/ethnic harmony/disharmony has been a running theme in Judeo/Christian and Western art since way back. Explicit, “civil rights” art was a thing in the ’60’s and ’70’s. Today there are schools of ethnic art.

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects? A biography of Otis Redding, focusing on his childhood and teenage years in Macon, GA.: Otis Redding: Singing His Dream. And the third edition of my book on avoiding stealthy time management pitfalls: Beyond Time Management – Why To Do Lists Don’t Work. Ah, and in the spirit of full disclosure: I’m a little behind on my writing schedule! Look for Beyond Time Management no later than April Fool’s Day, 2014 (I mean it!) My Otis Redding book should be out by the fall.

What is your favorite genre to read? Nonfiction, historical narrative.

Who is your favorite author? Sorry, no one answer for this one. Those I re-read, (my personal classics’ authors) run from Thomas Merton, C.S. Lewis, and Zora Neale Hurston to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, John Steinbeck and St. Paul.

In your opinion, what is one book that everyone should read? The Bible, specifically the gospel according to Mark.

Tell us three things about yourself that cannot be found on the internet … at least not found easily.

  1. I am a kettle-cooked, sea salt & vinegar potato chip addict. I allocate myself one large bag per month, usually devoured while …
  2. Watching pre-code and 1940’s films whose social themes (including the portrayal of ethnic and racial minorities) I follow with keen interest eg “Our Man Godfrey”. Any film with William Powell, Myrna Loy or The Marx Brothers gets a retrospective at least every 18 months!
  3. I am the fourth in a line of five “Jane’s”, named after my great-grandmother Jane who lived to the age of 103. My niece and namesake is the fifth in our line.

Thank you, Chrissy, for this opportunity to talk with you and your readers.

Jane PR Elegant Black and WhiteAbout the author: Jane Allen Petrick is the author of several books on topics ranging from biography to workplace issues. She was a bi-weekly columnist for the Knight Ridder Newswire, and her articles have appeared in numerous publications including theNew York Times, the Denver Post and the Washington Post.  Kirkus Review describes her book, Hidden in Plain Sight: The Other People in Norman Rockwell’s America as “smart, nuanced” and written with “clarity and insight.”

Born and raised in Connecticut, Jane earned a BA in economics from Barnard College and received her Ph.D. in organizational psychology from Saybrook University. Retired as a vice-president of ATT Wireless, she is now an adjunct professor at Capella and American Sentinel Universities, and has provided consultation in organizational behavior and diversity competence to numerous corporate clients including IBM, Nextel and Xerox.

Jane Allen Petrick was chosen as one of the “100 Best and Brightest Business Women in America” by Ebony Magazine.

Long a passionate supporter of cultural and historic preservation, Jane has contributed to local preservation efforts in both Florida and New York State. A licensed tour director, Jane conducts cultural heritage tours on the East Coast, from the Everglades to the Maritimes.

Jane and her husband, Kalle, divide their time between New York’s Hudson Valley and Miami, Florida.

Find Ms. Petrick here: web, Facebook, Goodreads

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Blog Tour: Hidden in Plain Sight by Jane Allen Petrick (review, giveaway)

Hidden In Plain SightHidden in Plain Sight: The Other People in Norman Rockwell’s America
written by Jane Allen Petrick
published by Informed Decisions Publishing

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Why did I pick this book: I participated in the blog tour hosted by Premier Virtual Author Book Tours. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)

Did I enjoy this book: 
I did.

The descriptions of this novel will tell you that Petrick is telling the previously obscured story of “people of color” in Norman Rockwell’s artwork. But honestly, this book is about so much more. There’s American history, personal stories, and discussions of multi-culturalism (or lack thereof) interwoven throughout the novel.

I learned so much from this story. It’s hard to grasp how important seeing someone who “looks like me” in literature, pop culture, and art is to those of us who have always been represented daily in media representations.

Hidden in Plain Sight is both entertaining and educational. This turns out to be both good and bad as it feels academic – almost textbook-like – at times. And (as is so often the case with non-fiction) the book goes on a little longer than is necessary to make a point.

everyfree4.5

Would I recommend it: I would; especially to people interested in: art, history, African-American studies, and Norman Rockwell.

Will I read it again: No.

belindasig
About the book: 
Norman Rockwell’s America was not all white. As early as 1936, Rockwell was portraying people of color with empathy and a dignity often denied them at the time. And he created these portraits from live models.

Hidden in Plain Sight: The Other People in Norman Rockwell’s America unfolds, for the first time, the stories of the Asian, African, and Native Americans who modeled for Norman Rockwell. These people of color, though often hidden in plain sight, are present throughout Rockwell’s more than 4000 illustrations. People like the John Lane family, Navajos poignantly depicted in the virtually unknown Norman Rockwell painting, “Glen Canyon Dam.” People like Isaac Crawford, a ten year old African-American Boy Scout who helped Norman Rockwell finally integrate the Boy Scout calendar.

In this engrossing and often humorous narrative, Jane Allen Petrick explores what motivated Norman Rockwell to slip people of color “into the picture” in the first place. And in so doing, she persuasively documents the famous illustrator’s deep commitment to and pointed portrayals of ethnic tolerance, portrayals that up to now have been, as Norman Rockwell biographer Laura Claridge so clearly put it, “bizarrely neglected”.

Hidden in Plain Sight: The Other People in Norman Rockwell’s America is an eye opener for everyone who loves Norman Rockwell, everyone who hates Norman Rockwell and for all those people in between who never thought much about Norman Rockwell because they believed Norman Rockwell never thought much about them. This book will expand the way you think about Norman Rockwell. And it will deepen the way you think about Norman Rockwell’s America. 

Jane PR Elegant Black and WhiteAbout the author: Jane Allen Petrick is the author of several books on topics ranging from biography to workplace issues. She was a bi-weekly columnist for the Knight Ridder Newswire, and her articles have appeared in numerous publications including theNew York Times, the Denver Post and the Washington Post.  Kirkus Review describes her book, Hidden in Plain Sight: The Other People in Norman Rockwell’s America as “smart, nuanced” and written with “clarity and insight.”

Born and raised in Connecticut, Jane earned a BA in economics from Barnard College and received her Ph.D. in organizational psychology from Saybrook University. Retired as a vice-president of ATT Wireless, she is now an adjunct professor at Capella and American Sentinel Universities, and has provided consultation in organizational behavior and diversity competence to numerous corporate clients including IBM, Nextel and Xerox.

Jane Allen Petrick was chosen as one of the “100 Best and Brightest Business Women in America” by Ebony Magazine.

Long a passionate supporter of cultural and historic preservation, Jane has contributed to local preservation efforts in both Florida and New York State. A licensed tour director, Jane conducts cultural heritage tours on the East Coast, from the Everglades to the Maritimes.

Jane and her husband, Kalle, divide their time between New York’s Hudson Valley and Miami, Florida.

Find Ms. Petrick here: web, Facebook, Goodreads

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

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