December 18, 2012

Godspeed: a love story

Title:  Godspeed: a love story
Author:  Dan Chabot
Publisher:  Babop/Dan Chabot; 1 edition (September 28, 2012)   
Medium:  Kindle

Amazon Synopsis:

How far will a man go to atone for guilt?

When Derry and Amedee meet during her first day on the job at the Milwaukee Ledger, it is a collision of destinies. Their love affair is so intense and perfect and pure that they are certain it will be eternal. But when it ends in heartbreak, compounded by the ignominy of a disastrously mismanaged funeral service, Derry descends into an abyss of devastation and remorse and despair.

In his overpowering grief this tormented newspaperman embarks on an obsessive crusade for redemption, an astonishing twist that will leave readers tearful yet smiling in sympathetic admiration. His improbable, tender quest eventually will lead him to peace of mind, and to someone who will help him build a new life from the ashes of the past.

"Godspeed" is a bittersweet story of laughter and tears, irrepressible humor, reckless devotion, the value of true friendship, and unimaginable longing for the "forever" that can no longer be. And as the story and its astonishing twists unfold, a poignant question lingers: How can a lie be wrong if it makes so many people feel so good?

I've been out of reading sorts for the last few weeks.  Not sure why.  I've started and put down more books than I can count.  A few were just not readable.  Some were not what I expected. Others were just not capable of keeping my already shortened attention span.  My reading mind was restless.

Then I picked up Mr. Chabot's Godspeed:  a love story.  

This book couldn't have come at a better time for me.  I started reading this a day or so before the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.  While so far away, I think this senseless act has touched everyone in some way.  I'm still grappling with it, and can't bring myself to discuss it out loud because just the thought of mentioning it makes me choke up and words fail to form.  I think Godspeed:  a love story is just the kind of book that is needed at a time like this - at least for me, because it calmed my restless mind.  Reading kept me away from the news and from the sadness for a little while.  

Godspeed:  a love story, yes, first and foremost is a love story.  Love can come in multiple forms such as friendship, family, co-workers, a lover, and it can be found on the pages of this wonderful book.   My readers mind was full again.  This book is also about friendship.  It goes to great lengths to show the meaning of true friends, and how they are there for you when you need them most, even if you don't realize it.  Cherish them.

Godspeed:  a love story is poignant, touching, heartbreaking, uplifting, laugh out loud funny, cleansing, has a cast of characters you wished were your friends, and is one of those books that you want to share with everyone you know and don't know and tell them that they HAVE to read it.  It has twists and turns that bring you to an scenic view of beauty and colors you can only find in nature and see with your soul. If you've had a bad day, week or month, it will bring you back to a place that you thought you had lost.  It will restore you faith in whatever you believe in most, if only for a few hours.  

I cherished my hours with Derry and Amedee.  

Thank you Mr. Chabot for those hours.  

We are mourning together as a country.  We need Derry more than ever, today.

Dan Chabot

December 8, 2012

Love of Shadows

Title:  Love of Shadows
Author:  Zoe Brooks
Publisher:  White Fox Books (October 10, 2012)
Medium:  Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:
"I had always felt most alive, when I was healing. Without healing I was a tin top spinning out of kilter soon to catch the ground. It took all my energy to hold myself from skidding into chaos."But in the city of Pharsis traditional women healers are banned from practising and the penalty for breaking the law is death by hanging. After being arrested and interrogated twice Judith is careful to avoid suspicion, but then scarlet fever breaks over the city like a poisonous wave, leaving in its wake the small corpses of children. What will the young healer do?
Love of Shadows is the second novel in The Healer's Shadow trilogy, which began with Girl in the Glass, and follows the lives of Judith and her Shadow, Sarah. It is a study in grief, love and defiance.

In this season of being thankful and giving, I am most thankful for authors.  I am thankful for the authors that fill my inbox daily asking me to read and review their book.  I am thankful that author's are patient, because sometimes life gets in the way of doing what you love.  I am thankful that very soon, this blog - only 8 months old - will have 2600 page views.  I am thankful that people who read my reviews and take my recommendations find that they too love the books and authors that I have shared.  I am thankful for the Indy author, who struggles on a daily basis to weave words into sentences that become a beautiful tapestry known as a book.  

I'm very thankful for Zoe Brooks.  She asked me several months ago to review her book Girl in the Glass which I fell in love with immediately.  It is a book that touches on your senses and begs you to slow down and savor every word as the ending draws near.  As I mentioned in that review, I was to happy to find out that the book is a first in Ms. Brooks' Shadows Trilogy.  Whew!  And I am even more thankful to Ms. Brooks because she asked me to review the second book in that series.

Sometimes a series can let you down.  You invest so much time into the characters only to find the next book in the series disappoints you.  Well, let me tell you, Love of Shadows does not disappoint.  It picks right up where Girl in the Glass leaves off.  Ms. Brooks doesn't miss a beat getting right back into the lives of Judith and Sarah.  There is adventure, there is tragedy, there is love, there is pain and there is healing. 

As a reader I was never bored and I was never left unfulfilled.  I was so pleased with this second book of Ms. Brooks, in the fact that she gives such beautiful descriptions and answers all of the questions that rise when one is reading a book.  I really think you should get both of these books, snuggle up and spend your weekend in the city of Pharsis getting to know Judith and Sarah.  You will be so happy to know them.

Zoe Brooks

October 2, 2012

The Grey Cat

Title:  The Grey Cat
Author:  Toryn Chapman
Publisher:  Cubefarm (May 6, 2012)
Medium:  Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:
When Jillian Barrett’s aged but lively mother, Elizabeth, grows short-tempered and suspicious, Alzheimer’s disease is the furthest cause from Jillian’s mind. But once the truth is dramatically revealed, Jillian fights to care for her mother, risking her closest relationships while she copes with Elizabeth’s ever more unpredictable behaviour. What she can never know are the experiences that, seventy years ago, shaped her mother’s life and to which she is increasingly drawn back. Left in a Depression-era orphanage following a family tragedy, Elizabeth had to care for her young sister and brother, and endure a heartless institution. 
The separate stories of past and present touch in ways neither Jillian nor Elizabeth understand, until they meet at last in a stunning climax that will make your heart ring.

I remember as a child that people grew old, but I never really knew where they went.  I never truly dealt with death until I was a teenager, and never lost anyone very close to me until I was in my 20's. I don't believe that I ever knew anyone growing up that had Alzheimer's disease.  Once I started working as a family practice nurse I came to see the face of this horrific disease.  My heart ached for the caregivers, my mind struggled to wrap itself around how the patient felt.  

Then the disease crept its way into my family.  Several years ago my husband and I started noticing some changes in his Mom.  They were subtle, and because they were making some major changes in their life, we just kind of kept watch.  The signs were still there, unmistakable, and could no longer be ignored.  The last few years it has progressed, but not to that critical point yet - and it may never get there.  We maintain our sense of humor, we cry when we need to, and we never show our true feelings when we answer the same question for the 10th time in less than 30 minutes.  

What's worse is to watch my father-in-law, the sole caregiver, struggle with this current life he is living.  They are both aging, they are both proud and stubborn, and they are doing pretty damn good on their own.  Our family is a little spread out, but luckily, someone can be there in 10 minutes, another in a couple of hours, and another in less than a day.  We have learned through the last few years that it's important to lean on each other when we need to and to be strong.  

Yes, Alzheimer's disease is something that I wish no one would have to face, but for those of us that do face it, then we must learn from it.  We must learn to remember the good, not to pity, and not to be angry at the person suffering.  We cannot be selfish in our feelings of sadness, because the person suffering really wouldn't want us to feel that way, and may not be able to understand.

When Toryn Chapman contacted me to review The Grey Cat, I couldn't say no.  This is a topic that is too close to my heart, and the more I can read about it, the better for me, especially when you read the story behind the story.  I loved how Mr. Chapman took a mixture of the past and the present to bring to life a story that needed to be told.  My heart ached for Elizabeth.  My heart ached for Jillian.  My heart soared for the strength that each showed while facing adversities - adversities that neither should have had to endure; Jillian's journey as a loving caregiver for her mother and Elizabeth's journey through a hell that no child should ever have to endure.

Mr. Chapman writes a beautiful story, that is both happy and sad.  I had so many mixed feelings throughout this book, and it took me longer to read than normal because I wanted to savor every moment past and present.  And the rush of feeling relief at the conclusion of The Grey Cat still bothers me, and probably will for time to come.  But that's not an entirely bad thing, and I think part of the mastery behind Mr. Chapman's writing.

It makes one stand back in awe of what our minds are capable of.  Even in the darkest of days, we can find peace in distant memories and we can find strength from a simple animal.  Funny isn't it?

The journey of Alzheimer's disease is a struggle for everyone that it touches.  It's a life changer.  It can tear families apart, it can bring them together.  It can make you laugh at times, it can make you scream in anger, and it can make you cry.  One thing I have learned through Alzheimer's touching my life, is that you cannot let it beat you.  You cannot let it eat at you.  You cannot allow it to rule you.  

The Grey Cat is a wonderful book that touched my heart and made me think, and if you or anyone you know is struggling as a caregiver, family member or friend of an Alzheimer's patient, take the time to read The Grey Cat.  I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

The Grey Cat

September 12, 2012

Reader Radar #9

Title:  Underground Nest
Author:  Kathleen Maher
Publisher:  Beekman Press (August 1, 2012)
Medium:  Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:
Never marry a Boy Scout.
When Zachary Severins, dedicated Scoutmaster and community leader, is caught cheating on his wife, she divorces him, his children lose respect for him, and his mistress spurns him. As Zach's personal life crumbles, his professional career begins to follow. Only after Zach loses everything does he start to learn the true meaning of friendship, love, and responsibility.
Underground Nest, a short novel, is contemporary fiction with a sharp sense of humor but a soft heart for its characters.

It's been so long since I've done a Reader Radar segment. Part of it was my fault for not digging deeper for the short stories and novellas, so I did what any great procrastinator does and wait for stuff to drop in my lap. Then, there in my inbox, was an opportunity that I am so glad that I did not pass up, along with proving to myself that good things do come to those who wait.

Underground Nest may be a mere 82 pages long, but it has more jam packed into those few pages than many full length novels I've read. The one thing that stood out most for me is that Maher (whether intentionally or not) crafted her story to touch, ever so lightly in some cases, on each of the seven deadly sins. I found this to be very interesting, because it was so subtle for me, and honestly it didn't really hit me until I started to write this review, and I actually questioned myself, and probably will continue to do so. But, I'm going to leave it out there.

I finished Underground Nest during my lunch break this afternoon with mixed feelings. Part of me was filled with glee, while another part was heartbroken, while another part was disgusted because of how much Zach wasted and thew away. Without giving anything away, this little novella will fill your senses, tease your brain, and give the Boy Scout motto of "be prepared" an entire new meaning.

If you are short on time, Underground Nest is the perfect read for you. You will not be disappointed. I take that back, you might be a little disappointed, but not in the novella one bit. A must read. Kathleen Maher is most definitely on my Reader Radar - I'm very interested to see what else she has to offer.

Underground Nest

September 9, 2012

Misfortune Cookie

Title:  Misfortune Cookie
Author:  Michele Gorman
Publisher:  Amazon Digital Services
Medium:  Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:
Would you move 6,000 miles to be with the love of your life?
Hannah did. Unfortunately her plan isn't going terribly well. What was supposed to be a move to Hong Kong to start a wonderful new life with Sam is turning into a move to Hong Kong to spend occasional weekends with Sam, when he can get away from an unanticipated work assignment on the opposite side of the South China Sea. Still, she's optimistic, if woefully unprepared for the intricacies of Hong Kong. Stumbling through the alien city, which she loves, she starts to build a life for herself. Things definitely look up when she finds a great boss to work for, and her best friend Stacy moves to the city too. But alarm bells ring as Sam seems to be getting a bit too cozy with his boss. And when things start going wrong at work, Hannah can't help but wonder if she's made the biggest mistake of her life.

I think there are times in our adult, grown up lives where we don't want to remember that we had ever been desperately in love like with someone who didn't like love us back as much.  I really think like hurts a little more than love sometimes, because once you get over the fact that he never really liked you as much as you loved him, that you realize it never was love at all.  Then when you do find true, real love, you realize how dumb you were and kick yourself in the rump for wasting time on such a loser in the first place.  But was it really a waste of time?  Maybe not.  Life starts out being a series of lessons, some more painful than others, some harder to learn than other, but lessons that end up benefiting us whether we want it to at the time or not.  Reflection certainly has given me lessons that I learned a long time ago that I use today.

Misfortune Cookie was a book about life's lessons.  Hannah, being the perfect poster child for me to get back into dart throwing, was the young lady who really needed to learn some life lessons.  I will admit that while I could totally relate to many of her feelings and irrationalities, I didn't like her until toward the end of the book, and I fell in love with her, because she finally grew up!!!

I love that Misfortune Cookie was set in Hong Kong.  Gorman painted me the perfect picture of what life was like for Hannah after moving from London to Hong Kong to follow a boy.  I had a feel for what a city I honestly know nothing about was like to live in, and there was even a little bit of history set into her book.  

Hannah was real.  She could be any young woman who falls hard for a guy.  She had the same feelings, the same worries, the same fears, and made the same silly decisions.  Gorman did an excellent job of bringing a character to life, someone that most of us can relate to in some way, and she tied her up nicely and neatly with a bow into an enjoyable book that kept me entertained this past week.

When I start any book to review, I stay away from Amazon, Goodreads, and usually the author's blog or website, because I don't want to know anything about what anyone else thinks of the books I'm reading until after I read them.  I think this is fair to myself and very fair to the author, because even though I'm not easily influenced by what other people think, I want to give each book the most fair review that I can.  This may not be the best idea, especially when it comes to the author's website or blog.  In preparing for this blog post, I found out that Misfortune Cookie is a sequel.

Misfortune Cookie is a sequel to a book called Single in the City.  So, for those of ya'll who are going to get this book today, why don't you go ahead and pick up both books?  You won't be disappointed by Gorman's writing style, and you'll get to enjoy some more of Hanna's crazy and exciting life!

Michele Gorman

September 2, 2012

In Need of Therapy

Title:  In Need of Therapy
Author:  Tracie Banister
Publisher:  Amazon Digital Services
Medium:  Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:
Lending a sympathetic ear and dispensing sage words of advice is all part of the job for psychologist Pilar Alvarez, and she’s everything a good therapist should be: warm, compassionate, supportive. She listens, she cares, and she has all the answers, but how’s the woman everyone turns to in their hour of need supposed to cope when her own life starts to fall apart? 

While working hard to make a success of her recently-opened practice in trendy South Beach, Pilar must also find time to cater to the demands of her boisterous Cuban family, which includes younger sister Izzy, an unemployed, navel-pierced wild child who can't stay out of trouble, and their mother, a beauty queen turned drama queen who’s equally obsessed with her fading looks and getting Pilar married before it’s “too late.” Although she’d like to oblige her mother and make a permanent love connection, Pilar’s romantic prospects look grim. Her cheating ex, who swears that he’s reformed, is stalking her. A hunky, but strictly off-limits, patient with bad-boy appeal and intimacy issues is making passes. And the sexy shrink in the suite across the hall has a gold band on his left ring finger. 

When a series of personal and professional disasters lead Pilar into the arms of one of her unsuitable suitors, she's left shaken, confused, and full of self-doubt. With time running out, she must make sense of her feelings and learn to trust herself again so that she can save her business, her family, and most importantly, her heart.

Any book that is set in Florida should be a great read, right? I mean, Florida is now my home, and I think palm trees and sunsets are what makes the world go round these days. Yesterday was one of those lazy Florida days for me. I didn't have a lot to do, and having just come off a very popular psychological thriller of a book for my book club, a week full of psychologically challenged people, and yet another full moon, I needed something to lighten the burden a bit lot.

I'm so glad that I picked In Need of Therapy, because it fit into my theme of reading lately, it fit into everything I have been dealing with at work, and it helped pass an ordinary Saturday with a lot of out loud laughs!  While I have never been further South in Florida than the Englewood area, I got a great feel for what Miami might be like.  

Pilar Alvarez at first sounded like a very intelligent, very spoiled child of wealthy parents, with a father who would indulge her every whim, but the further and deeper you delve into the book, you realize that Pilar has the same fears and desires and makes many of the same mistakes us "normal" gals do - although she has a bigger budget and lives in Miami.  Ms. Banister really gives the reader a great insight into the dynamics of a Latin family, which if you have ever met one, is spot on! 

It's been a while since I read a chick lit book, and In Need of Therapy reminded me why I love this genre so much.  It's easy to read, it has a few moments when you just need to walk away from the main character, and it always makes you smile.

In Need of Therapy is fast-paced, and once you start reading, you don't want to put the book down.  Little things like your Kindle running out of battery and eating dinner, certainly put a cramp in your ebb and flow of reading, especially when you are down to 25%, so plan accordingly!  As summer ends and we start to turn to a new season, what better way to celebrate than reading a fun book that will keep you guessing, keep you laughing, and has skywriting!  Skywriting alone, should have you all picking this book up, right now! 

Traci Banister

August 10, 2012


Title:  pig
Author: SBR Martin
Publisher:  The Artists Orchard
Medium:  Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:
Enough is enough! What does it take for a troubled woman to finally let go? SBR Martin's second novel, "pig," answers this question by bringing dark topics to light in an unnerving, yet inspiring, story of domestic abuse, sexuality, reflection, and loss.
Her name is Lily, but she’s gone by different names over the years—Lilith, Mom, Flower, and Pig, to name but a few. 
She’s sitting alone on a couch in the corner of a crowded funeral home, desperately clinging to a scrap of paper in her right hand. She’s avoiding contact with those around her, keeping to herself, because she holds more than that scrap of paper—she holds a lot of secrets, includin...g one she’s keeping from herself.
In the other room, which she dare not enter, a man lies in a closed casket. That man is her husband. Only she knows how he got there, and only the telling of her story can tell his.
As Lily guards her secrets on the couch in the corner, the familiar faces of funeral home patrons stir a lifetime of memories, a collection of past events brought to pass before her eyes.
How did her husband get in that box? And what is she holding in her hand? Step into Lily’s past to answer the present questions. But don’t expect to be pleased with everything you learn. Some stories just aren’t meant to have happy endings.

Sometime last year my husband and I were talking about purchasing books in a bookstore, and he asked me if I had ever walked by a shelf with books on it and picked one out just because of its cover alone.  Nope.  I said that it's what is in between the front and back cover that matters most.  
So, when pig by SBR Martin landed in my inbox, the first thing that caught my eye was the cover art.  I knew I would read it no matter what.  They (they??) say to never judge a book by it's cover, but in this case you can.
For the first time in a very long time, a book has come along for me where the cover art is completely reflective of an entire book - not a chapter, not a character, not an underlying secret meaning the reader never can find, but one that encompasses the entire book.  Cover to cover.

pig is not a new story.  It's a story that has been told countless times, over countless years, in countless ways, but Ms. Martin was able to take this story and bring it into a new light and give the victim a new voice.  To say that I stayed riveted to each word on each page is an understatement.  To say that I felt such sadness throughout the entire book is an underestimate of my feelings  Lilly is forever etched into my soul, she got under my skin, and she made me crazy at times.

When you have a loss in your life, there always comes a time that you have to let go.  What determines when that time is a matter that only the person who has experienced the loss.  Lilly's life was a series of losses, from the very moment she was conceived the losses started stacking up around her.  Her freedom would depend on if she would ever be able to let go.

If stories of despair, desperation, and dread don't scare you, pig is a must read.  If you are not afraid of a little depravity with an inkling of hope then pig is a must read.  If you are ready to let go then pig is a must read.

And I need to give a shout out to Jenn Wertz, your art is captivating!!!  Thanks to you, I may very well judge another book by it's cover!!

SBR Martin

July 23, 2012

Girl in the Glass

Title:   Girl in the Glass
Author:  Zoe Brooks
Publisher:  White Fox Books, 1 edition (March 8, 2012)
Medium:  Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:
“I will have to say it: 'I am Anya and I am nothing'. I will look down at the floor as I say it, so that I don't see the smile on my aunt's face, so she won't see the defiance in my eyes. She will get her victory. She always wins these battles. I know it, she knows it. But one day, one day she will not.”
In this Cinderella story for adults there is no fairy godmother and no handsome prince, just a girl of spirit and her strange companion.
Orphaned at the age of 10 in circumstances that she refuses to explain, Anya grows up trapped in the house of her abusive aunt where she and Eva, her Shadow, are treated as slaves. As her aunt tries to break her and the punishments become increasingly life-threatening, Anya struggles to find affection and self-esteem. When the inevitable showdown arrives, where will Anya find the strength to survive and escape? And if she does escape, what then? An arduous walk across an unforgiving desert to a city where an even worse danger lies

It doesn't happen very often, but every now and then a book comes along and I don't ever want to get to the last page.  I start getting upset when I realize that the end is near, because I don't want my time that I've spent with new people who have entered into my heart to end. Luckily for me (!!!) Girl in the Glass is the first book in the Shadows Trilogy.  Whew!  I was afraid that I'd have to head East to Czech Republic, knocking on old farmhouse doors to find Ms. Brooks and tell her that Anya and Eva's story was amazing, but I needed to know more!

Amazing really isn't the right word for Girl in the Glass.  It's heart wrenching, it's sad, it makes you angry, and it lifts your spirits and makes you cheer out loud.  It makes you cry and it makes you wonder.  It takes you on a journey with Anya and Eva through their unhappy childhood to them becoming women.  

It's a journey of epic proportions that many of us who are sitting in our comfortable air conditioned homes can't even begin to imagine.  We turn a blind eye to things like this happening as we sit in our comfy cocoons of fancy furnishings, never wondering where our next meal will come from.  We don't have to worry about keeping warm enough at night, and we certainly don't have to sell our souls attempting to make a better life for ourselves.

Ms. Brooks put so much description in Girl in the Glass that at times I could feel the sand and smell the salty air.  I could feel the snow and see the stars and smell the beautiful smells of luxurious perfume and taste the wine and feel the physical and emotional pain that Anya and Eva felt.

If you are looking for something different than what you normally read, something that will make you cry tears of sorrow and tears of joy then pick up Girl in the Glass by Zoe Brooks.  You won't be disappointed, and you'll be ready to hunt down the next book in the trilogy!

Zoe Brooks

July 17, 2012

Run to Me

Title:  Run to Me
Author:  Erin Golding
Publisher:  Erin Golding (April 2, 2012)
Medium:  Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:
What does it take to set you free?
For Abby Fox and Paul Beckett, life in the lakeside Australian town of Jungilla is far from idyllic. Running is the only thing that brings them peace.
Abby is a teacher tortured by her unfulfilled dreams. When she takes on the role of running coach at Whateley School, she never imagines it will unravel her whole life.
Paul is sick of watching his back. His father seems to hate him and he’s got a bully after him as well. All he needs is something worth fighting for.
Told in the alternating voices of Abby and Paul, this story explores what can happen when life takes us somewhere unexpected.

There is a part of all of us that beckons to watch the car accident, the train wreck, or our co-workers marriage going down the tubes.  We are quiet observers of major life events going on around us, and we sit in judgement of everyone around us, never stopping for a minute to look at the reflection in the mirror.  "That could never happen to me", we exclaim to ourselves as we look down our proverbial noses, never judging aloud, but always judging.

Truth be told, there are probably parts of each of our lives that we don't want the world, or at the very least, our friends and co-workers finding out.  We want to paint that picture of perfection, while we sit in silent shame of our wrong doings and bad habits.  We don't want our friends to see us cry over something so meaningful and meaningless at the same time, like breakfast.  We want the world observing us through rose-colored glasses, right? We never want to show shame, because shame is ugly, right?

Run to Me by Erin Golding is an interesting story, and not one that is uncommon.  I mean, as I was reading local headlines this morning, something eerily similar is going on right now, in my state, again...  I like to think that when I was in high school that shenanigans like this didn't happen, but thumbing through my yearbook years later, it makes one wonder and sends your mind into twisted tales and fits of giggles when you picture things like that.  You just never know.

Run to Me is a love story, although it's not one that you are cheering on the heroine or really keeping your fingers crossed that the guy wins his prize.  It's a heartbreaking story, and one that made me feel sadness and pity throughout.  It's not beautiful, but it is poetic.  And you will keep asking yourself, does anyone win, does everyone lose, or is there a silver lining there, somewhere?

Run to Me is a book that makes you think.  It makes you shake your head and it makes you wonder and ask the questions of how and why, over and over.  You will keep reading because it's human nature and it's okay to watch.  You aren't Abby and your child will never be Paul.

Run to Me is told from two perspectives, and that was really what clinched it for me.  I loved how both sides were similar, but the different.  I loved how Paul was always right there, in my face, but I had to dig deeper to find out what made Abby tick.  My whys were answered, though I kept up with the head shaking, because I seriously would have had to question my morals if I was cheering by the end of the book.

Ms. Golding wrote a really great book, and it was one that I wasn't sure, due to subject matter, if I would enjoy, but I really liked it.  She approached a subject that is sadly common in the headlines these days, and no longer shocking when we see them.  She gave a very interesting perspective and touched on answering those whys and hows we often ask ourselves when we see this over and over in the news.  

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this to friends and family, and to you all here, reading this blog.  Seriously, check it out!!

Erin Golding

July 7, 2012

The Happy Housewife

Author:  Kate Cooch
Publisher:  Amazon Digital Services
Medium:  Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:
Dateline: March 3, 2011, Woodinville, Washington. “Built green? Nope black! ELF.” The mocking sign was left at the sight of an Eco-terrorist attack on ‘green’ multi-million dollar homes which were burnt to the ground. While the incident drew headlines from local papers, it barely made the national news. No arrests have been made.
Dateline: Same day, Fairfax, Virginia. Samantha Sherman, a former Coast Guard helicopter pilot turned stay at home Mom, tries to decide between Tide 2X Ultra with Dawn Stain Scrubbers and her old standby, Tide with Bleach Alternative. She finally determines that it truly makes no difference and sighs. Little does she know that in a few short weeks her happy, but not wildly exciting life will be turned upside down by the threat of Eco-terrorism, the Weather Underground, and murder.
“The Happy Housewife” is a 200 page suburban murder mystery which involves one ordinary woman, Samantha, who finds herself drawn into a criminal investigation. In the process of solving two murders, she also struggles to overcome a mistake from her past career which resulted in her current inability to make decisions and assert herself.

I needed a good caper and a quick page turner (okay, button masher since I read this on Vinny, the Kindle) recently, and Kate Cooch's, The Happy Housewife did just the trick for me.  

I spent a couple of years doing duty as a housewife, and it was a lot of fun, though not as much fun as Sam had in the book.  No, my time as a happy housewife paled in comparison, though the neighborhood we lived in at the time had some potential for some Scooby-Doo hijinks's and action.  Now the Love of My Life works from home, takes care of my laundry, greets me with a smile when I come home every day, and allows me the opportunity to be a successful woman in today's world of hospice administration (it's not THAT glamorous, but it is rewarding).    I wonder...

When Kate asked me to review her book, The Happy Housewife, I just knew from the description that it would be one of those little mysteries that I would  probably figure out right from the beginning.  I mean, we all are the best at solving mysteries, right?  I mean, you know the crazy guy or the normal guy or the cute kid has to be the culprit, right?  

Well, was I wrong!  

One of the best things I really liked about Kate's book was that she took some examples from her real life experiences and placed them into her book.  She was a Coast Guard pilot, which is way cool!  I think it's important for writers to draw on what they are knowledgeable about in order to provide accurate information to share with readers.  That's not to say that good research can't bring about a good book, but if you have the real experience to help you sit and bang out thousands of words, no one can take those claims away from you, and you can also learn and grow from sharing experiences with readers and others like you.

If you are looking for a quick, fun, fast-paced read, get thee to Amazon today and pick up Kate's book.  It's perfect for tropical storm reading, beach bag stuffing, or something to pass along an otherwise boring Wednesday evening.  You'll be glad you did!!!

Kate Cooch

June 20, 2012

Reader Radar #8

Publisher:     Danielle Peterson (March 7, 2012)
Medium:       Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:
The Duck And The Doe is the tale of two immortal beings whose eternal love has soured a bit in the last two centuries. Written as memoir by the "hero," this novella is a musing on both what love is and how much America has changed since the early 19th century. The first volume deals with both the supernatural and the racism of the old American south. Told with humor and passion (and the occasional rant) the story of these strong characters, including a wealthy young lawyer and a clever courtsean, will change your idea of what "love forever'' really means.

Oh how I loved Our Blissful Bayou Beginnings!
First of all, how can you turn something away that has alliteration in the title?  I mean, that right there should put this toward the top of your reading list.  I love anything set in the South, because, well, even though I was born in Northern New York, I have lived in the South for close to 30 years now, and consider myself a Southerner.  This 70 page novella took me a mere 45 minutes to get through, so what better way to spend your lunch hour or wait for your orthopedic surgeon?  That is another great reason to put this on a to-read list, like toward the top. Just do it!
I actually put off reading this for a few weeks, as I got caught up in some other books and I’ve been forgetting to bring my Kindle to work with me.  I’m not going to let this happen to me again.

Danielle Peterson really brought Remi to life right from the first paragraph, which is a poor choice of words considering his issues.  I loved his bitter and condescending tone.  I loved how he was totally over being undead and quite frankly sick of today’s youth and how easy they have it.  I love how she brought the time period to life and as a reader I really felt like I was in another era.

Our Blissful Bayou Beginnings was full of description, full of wonder, and a full on love story. It tells of truly how much Remi truly loved his Ma Bichette, and what lengths he would go to in order to keep that love “alive”.  Ms. Peterson really put me, the reader, into a position to cheer on what might be considered a not so wholesome of a character.

Danielle Peterson is definitely on my Reader Radar this week!  I can’t wait to find out what happens next to the duck and the doe.  As for Remi, well, he complained about never being invited to dinner parties…I’d totally invite him and Ma Bichette!

Danielle Peterson

June 16, 2012

Pegasus Falling

Author:            William E. Thomas
Publisher:       Acute Angle Books (March 26, 2012)   
Medium:         Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:
‘Who was she, Sammy?’ 
‘Naomi. Her name was Naomi.’ 
Sammy’s nightmare was over, but his agony was about to begin. 
Arnhem, 1944. Captain Stanley Adam Malcolm Parker - Sammy to his friends - and his platoon have fought bravely, but it was always a losing battle - the bridge was unwinnable. When his men are taken away to spend the rest of the war as POWs, Sammy finds himself incarcerated somewhere all the more terrifying - a concentration camp. Spared an immediate death, he discovers firsthand the full horror of the final solution. 
In a place of utmost fear and desperation, beyond all hope and salvation, Sammy makes another entirely unforeseen discovery - the beautiful and mysterious Naomi. 
Sammy’s battle is now to stay alive, sane and keep hold of the woman he loves.
Following the successful publication of The Cypress Branches in hardback, the epic novel has now been adapted into a series of paperback books for general release, with each book concentrating on a set of characters featured in the original. 
Pegasus Falling is the first part of the Cypress Branches Trilogy to be released in paperback. A truly heartbreaking and courageous work, it follows the emotional story of paratrooper Sammy and his struggle to survive the terrors of World War II and its aftermath. 
With a sharp eye for detail and keen ear for conversation and dialect, William E. Thomas has painted an evocative historical backdrop to the intensely moving and often funny story of an unforgettable group of characters whose lives and loves are challenged by a constantly changing and volatile world.

I think there is a book inside all of us, a story that begs to be told, an idea that needs to be put onto paper, and a dream that needs to be shared.  Sometimes the story playing out in my head is more like a comic strip some days, but there is something begging me to let it out.  Mostly I ignore it.  I don’t think I have the courage.

Some people choose to listen to their inner selves, and William E. Thomas, author of Pegasus Falling was one of those people.  Like many people, Mr. Thomas waited until he retired to put his dream onto paper.  Then the daunting and difficult task of trying to find a publisher who will at least glance at the query letter before tossing the labor of love into the compost pile.  I come from a family of various artists – from painting to the written word – and they can all tell you that rejection of their medium is like being stabbed in the soul.

Through the revolution of technology the availability of being able to self-publish a book has become pretty simple and straightforward.  Unfortunately for Mr. Thomas, time got away from him, and his once sharp mind was thrust into the depths of the unknown as he struggled with Alzheimer’s.  Fortunately for Mr. Thomas, his grandson, Mike, made his dream come true.  Who wouldn’t do that for a beloved grandparent?

I have to be honest, Pegasus Falling was a difficult book for me to read, and it took me much longer than normal to get through it.  I found it very hard to fall in love with any of the main characters, and at times found myself very angry with a couple of them.  Maybe that was the point that Mr. Thomas was striving for, and I missed it.

The setting of the book is at the very end and in the time following World War II in Germany and in Palestine.  It was a bleak time for all of the characters in the book, some more than others, and that may be what lead me as a reader down the path that I took while reading it. Part of the reason for me getting bogged down was all the political turmoil, which is very important to the story, but at times distracting. There were times that I wanted to scream at the main characters, but ended up shaking my head as I normally do when people are clueless and allow themselves to be led down paths that only lead to heartache. 

One thing I really did like in Pegasus Falling was to see the "other side of the story". I saw through an author's eyes what the British really felt about the Americans in the aftermath of World War II. Most of the time it was unfavorable, which could be upsetting to some, but the raw honesty of the opinions, really made me sit back and think. As a general rule, you always carry your country in your heart and love her, but not everyone feels the same way. I actually really liked that.

The best part of Pegasus Falling for me was the last chapter.  I won’t give anything away, but this chapter was the best in the entire book!  While at times throughout the book the actions that took place were subtly hinted at, it was unexpected and made the ending of the book worthwhile, and it makes me wonder what else is going to happen in the rest of the series. Quite precisely the very smart marketing of Mike.

The real story of Pegasus Falling is the true story of the love of a family brought together by making a dream come true for their patriarch. If it wasn't for Mr. Thomas's grandson, Pegasus Falling may have ended up in the same dreadful place that one's mind goes when it is battling Alzheimer's.

While Pegasus Falling was not one of my favorite books that I have read, I am glad that I had the opportunity to spend some time with Naomi, Sammy, and Carrie, because that meant I got to spend some time with Mr. Thomas. Thank you for letting me be a part of his dream.

June 4, 2012

Reader Radar #7

Author:          Ellie Keaton
Medium:        Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:  
Meg knew exactly what she wanted: to be the Investment Director of Solomon Bank by the time she turned 30. And nothing would stop her. Not the fact that she’d be the youngest one in the history of the company. Or the fact that she’d be the first female Director. And especially not a man.

Then she met Tyler, and everything changed. It was like they were destined to be together. The attraction was immediate, and the follow-through was more passionate and amazing than she could have ever hoped for.
But Tyler was gone now. She could barely bring herself to think about their brief time together. As she stared at her wedding dress, she reflected on the fact that almost everything would be in place: a perfect gown, a perfect venue, a perfect ceremony. But not her perfect groom. 

There are moments in your life that are simply branded forever into your memory.  Memories that you take with you always, and that you revisit with others with the sentence, “I remember exactly what I was doing when…”  My most recent memory like that is of Tuesday, September 11, 2001.  The sky was a perfect blue and there was a teeny tiny hint of autumn in the Arkansas wind that was gently blowing that morning.  Mark Haines and Joe Kernen were sampling purple ketchup on CNBC’s Squawk Box, and my husband was watching while standing in the middle of the living room dressed in a suit getting ready to leave town for the day, when the segment was interrupted with Haines saying that there were reports of a single engine plane hitting the World Trade Center in NYC.

I had to leave for work and I couldn’t wait to find out what was wrong.  Mark promised to call me and keep me updated.  At the time I was working as a family practice nurse, and my days were always busy from the time I walked in the door.  This day I would prove to myself how strong I could be for others.  The television in our area was in the repair shop.  I relied on telephone updates from my husband while simultaneously taking care of patients and their families.  I held hands with some, I cried with others, all the while, not being fully able to grasp what was truly happening to my country.
When we had time in between patients we would scramble to another area to catch a glimpse of what was happening.  We’d hug each other, while making eye contact that said “remain strong”.  We put our patients first.  I remember one particular phone call from the spouse of a patient who was being seen.  I was asked to give instructions to the spouse to go by the bank on the way home and take out all of the money.  Then another patient was hysterical with grief because she lost loved ones in the Oklahoma City bombing and she was fearful that the whole country was in peril.
I also had a college world history course that night.  I called my professor to see if she was going to cancel class and her answer was something like, “No the terrorists would want the whole country to stop, we’ll be having class and showing them.”  I never really liked her or her class much, but I went.  She let us talk for a little while then got right into her lecture about ancient China or something.
By the time I made it home, I was emotionally and physically exhausted.  My husband postponed his trip, but was still in his shirt and tie when I got home.  I don’t remember eating dinner; I only remember watching the news.
Tuesday, September 11, 2001 is a day that I will never forget, so when I received an email from Ellie Keaton asking me to review The Wedding Dress, the first book in her Survivors Club Series, I was honored to do so.
The Wedding Dress is a novella that touches the heart and the mind.  It made me think and made me wonder.  I wondered how a family member can go on after a tragedy of such magnitude.  I wondered how one can get out of bed every day knowing what kind of death their loved one had.  I wondered why these tragedies happen to some people and not others.
The Wedding Dress also reminded me that it’s okay to grieve and be sad, but it’s also okay to move forward, never forgetting. I was reminded also the true meaning of friendship.  Ms. Keaton writes few words, but those few words hold so much meaning.  The story may not be a true account, but I bet that there is a shred of reality in there. It was beautifully written and very touching.
Ms. Keaton is definitely on my Reader Radar!  You should check her out.  She is also generously donating 15% of her proceeds to Tuesday's Children I think you should check them out too!