Friday, November 24, 2017

G911 Book Review of The Woman in the Camphor Trunk by Jennifer Kincheloe

Name of Book: The Woman in the Camphor Trunk

Author: Jennifer Kincheloe

ISBN: 978-1-63388-363-5

Publisher: Seventh Street Books

Part of a Series: Anna Blanc Mysteries

Type of book: 1908, Chinatown, tong, hop sing girls, Cracker jacks riddles, mystery, humor, hints of Chinese/white women relationships, jealousy, murder, engagement, detective, Los Angeles, Bing Kong tong, Hop Sing tong

Year it was published: 2017


Los Angeles, 1908. In Chinatown, the most dangerous beat in Los Angeles, police matron Anna Blanc and her former sweetheart, Detective Joe Singer, discover the body of a white missionary woman, stuffed in a trunk in the apartment of her Chinese lover. Her lover has fled. If news gets out that a white woman was murdered in Chinatown, there will be a violent backlash against the Chinese. Joe and Anna plan to solve the crime quietly and keep the death a secret. So does good-looking Mr. Jones, a prominent Chinese leader who has mixed feelings about helping the LAPD and about Anna.

Meanwhile, the Hop Sing tong has kidnapped two slave girls from the Bing Kong tong, fuelling existing tensions. They are poised on the verge of a bloody tong war that would put all Chinatown residents in danger.

Joe orders Anna out of Chinatown to keep her safe, but to atone for her own family's sins, Anna must stay to solve the crime before news of the murder is leaked and Chinatown explodes.


Just like in previous book, there are Anna and Joe. Anna is incredibly observant, knowledgeable and really knows how to ask the right questions and get the job done. In some areas she is still naive, but that outbalances with her keen observations and resourcefulness. She still has love/hate relationship with Joe. Joe is probably the saner version of Anna and isn't as naive. Joe is conflicted between his heart and head and like Anna he is resourceful, generous and often worries too much about Anna but is doing his best not to stop Anna. There is also Mr. Jones who is a Chinese herbalist and who adopted English name for his use. He has secrets he is not willing to part with and often resents Anna's intrusion into Chinatown affairs. There are also women missionaries, the opium addicted old woman, and Miss Robbins who does what she can for the Chinese girl slaves.


There is more to appearance


Seriously, the first sentence hooked me " Anna Blanc was the most beautiful woman ever to barrel down Long Beach Strand with the severed head of a Chinese man." (page 7) Just like in the first mystery, the characters remain wonderfully themselves and there is a whole lot of humor in the book as well and sizzling chemistry and moments where Anna misunderstood the references that I'm sure many of us will get. The residents of Chinatown were painted as more than just villains and were given interesting personalities and are even love interests in some cases.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Jennifer Kincheloe is the author of The Secret Life of Anna Blanc, which won the Colorado GOld Award for mystery and the Mystery and Mayhem Award for historical mystery and was a finalist for the Macavity Sue Feder Historical Mystery award, Left Coast Crime "Lefty" Award, and Colorado Authors' League Award for genre fiction. Formerly the principal of a health consulting firm and a member of the research faculty for the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, Kincheloe currently does research on the jails in Denver, Colorado when not researching history and writing novels.


I can imagine that when writing the book, the author might have had a difficult time because how does one write a mystery and set it in Chinatown yet make the characters seem more human rather than just mere caricatures, especially on so little information? I was a bit apprehensive in reading the book because I wasn't sure how I would feel when reading it, but I needn't have worried, for both the Caucasian and Asian characters are varied and are simply more than bad and good, which I am happy to report, and aside from the fact that I think Cantonese was far more common than Mandarin (Le ho is Cantonese for hello) at the time, I don't have complaints about their portrayal. Anna is still her efficient yet bumbling self who cares more for mystery,  and Joe is still himself who has tug-of-war with his heart and his head. I also am happy to report that women do find Asian men attractive in the book.

This was given to me for an honest review

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

G910 Book Review of The Secret Life of Anna Blanc by Jennifer Kincheloe

Name of Book: The Secret Life of Anna Blanc

Author: Jennifer Kincheloe

ISBN: 978-1-63388-080-1

Publisher: Seventh Street Books

Part of a Series: Anna Blanc Mysteries

Type of book: Los Angeles, murder, brides, groom, 1907, mystery, murder, woman detective, humor, bickering chemistry, corruption, greed

Year it was published: 2015


It's 1907 Los Angeles. Mischievous socialite Anna Blanc could match wits with Sherlock Holmes, but in her world women are not allowed to hunt criminals. Determined to break free of the era's rigid social roles, she buys off the chaperone assigned by her domineering father and, using an alias, takes a job as a police matron with the Los Angeles Police Department. There she discovers a string of brothel murders, which the cops are covering up. Seizing her one chance to solve a crime, she takes on the investigation herself.

If the police find out, she'll get fired; if her father finds out, he'll disown her; and if her fiancé finds out, he'll cancel the wedding.

Anna must choose--either hunt the villain and risk losing her father, fiancé, and wealth, or abandon her dream and leave the killer on the loose.


Main characters include Anna Blanc, an only daughter of a wealthy banker. She dislikes books like A Little Princess or Little Lord Fauntleroy that her father forces her to read (she could have given those books away to a library or something instead of destroying them...) but she loves mysteries and wants to work as a detective and to be away from her father. She is resourceful, naive, clever, intelligent and isn't afraid to sacrifice for a cause. Joe Singer is Anna's sort of on-and-off boyfriend who is police chief's son and loves music (piano) and he also likes Anna much to his consternation. The bickering is the fun part in the book. There is also Edgar Wright, Anna's fiancee who loves her way too much and of course numerous prostitutes who ask her for help.


Struggle for equality is not a new notion


The story is in third person narrative from Anna's, Joe's, and at times other characters also make their views known. Because the cover looked serious, I was expecting a serious read; I wasn't expecting to find the story hilarious nor did I expect to love the chemistry between Anna and Joe, especially how Anna "sacrifices" herself for police work. I would have liked there to be a bit more explanation as to how the killer achieved what he had achieved.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Jennifer Kincheloe is a research scientist turned writer of historical mysteries. She si the winner of the Colorado Gold contest for emerging writers.


Mystery and comedy are not the words I ever thought I'd use to describe a book because just the word itself , mystery, has seriousness about it with taciturn detectives who seem more than human. It often seems that being less than perfect is not acceptable. It's really a surprise and delight to come upon an all too human heroine who is both efficient yet bumbling and knows how to get the job and is passionate about her work. (Sort of a detective version of Don Quixote for a better comparison.) I also found it shocking about the treatment Anna received by her colleagues at the station, and that detectives seem to care so little for human life. I do wonder how much of the treatment was true for women back then, although its not difficult to imagine that all of it is true.

Given for an honest review

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Monday, November 13, 2017

G906 Book Review of to be a queen by Annie Whitehead

Name of Book: To be a Queen

Author: Annie Whitehead

ISBN: 978-1-78407-165-3


Type of book: 874-918, Mercia, Wessex, King and Queen, battles, vikings, daily life, royalty, ruling, gardening, bee-keeping, marriage, partnership, peacekeeper, family

Year it was published: 2015


This is the true story of Aethelflaed, the 'Lady of the Mercians', daughter of Alfred the Great. She was the only female leader of an Anglo-Saxon kingdom. It is the tale of one family, two kingdoms and a common enemy. Born into the royal house of Wessex at the height of the Viking wars, she is sent to her aunt in Mercia as a foster-child, only to return home when the Vikings overrun Mercia. In Wessex, she witnesses another Viking attack and this compounds her fear of the enemy. She falls in love with a Mercian lord but is heartbroken to be given as bride to the ruler of Mercia to seal the alliance between the two Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. She must learn to subjugate her feelings for her first love, overcome her indifference to her husband and win the hearts of the Mercians who despise her as a foreigner, twice making an attempt on her life. When her husband falls ill and is incapacitated, she has to learn to rule and lead an army in his stead and when he subsequently dies, she must fight to save her adopted Mercia from the Vikings and, ultimately, her own brother.


Main characters include AEthelflaed "Teasel" one of the oldest daughters of Alfred the Great who fears vikings greatly and who seems to be more tomboyish and fearless despite her fear of vikings. Teasel is all too human and has to make a lot of tough decisions. She does end up overcoming some of her fears as well as learning a lot of valuable lessons along the way. Ethelred is Teasel's husband who is sort of an informal king of Mercia and who is fighter and is passionate about the nation and people he guards. Edward is AEthelflaed's younger brother who becomes king of Wessex and who also has to make a lot of tough decisions in order to achieve his dreams. There are other characters there as well as such as the cousin who desires Edward's crown and vikings who dare to raid England and Teasel's and Edward's family members and those who are loyal to them.


Growth and overcoming fears can happen


The story is in third person narrative from AEthelflaed "Teasel"'s point of view, although from time to time Ethelred's and Edward's points of view are also mentioned in the story. Despite the constant warfare that surrounds Teasel's life, we see the physical battles very little. But psychological and emotional battles as well as the scars they impart on the characters are much more difficult to ignore. The story focuses more on the daily life of Teasel's family as well as Teasel trying to overcome her fears and becoming an amazing queen. Teasel is also shown as a human being who errs and makes mistakes just like anyone else. I found the story to be amazing and extremely detailed as well as vivid.

Author Information:


I often imagine the glamour and glitz that royal titles have had on people, little knowing that in the past the life of royal is far more than just scheming and politics and gaining power. Previously I've read a lot of books that dealt with royalty, although to be fair those took place in 1600s to almost 1800s, and its a big difference between the two. Royalty in 1600s to 1700s focused on wealth, glamour, trendsetting, trickery and being on top. In this book, however, being a royal means doing what is right even if your heart is against it, always being there for the people you are in charge of through good and bad times and always being a helpmate to your love. If you're looking for a non-stop action novel, then this is not the right story, but if you are seeking a story that faithfully recreates the daily life of late 9th to early 10th centuries in England and where one watches the growth of a young girl to a mature woman who will do whatever she can for her adopted people and country at the cost of her own family and happiness and who truly grows and shines as a star in the sky, then you've found the right book.

This was given to me for an honest review

5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

G934 Book Review of Death comes by Sue Hallgarth

Name of Book: Death Comes

Author:Sue Hallgarth

ISBN: 978-0-9855200-4-5

Publisher: Arbor Farm Press

Type of book: 1926, writing, Willa Cather and Edith Lewis, Mabel Dodge Luhan, New Mexico, scandals, relationships, mystery, deaths, racism, prostitution

Year it was published: 2017


Following On the Rocks, Sue Hallgarth's first Willa Cather and Edith Lewis mystery, ''Death Comes'' gives us another glimpse into the life and work of the Pulitzer-Prize winning novelist Willa Cather and her talented life partner. The year is 1926. Willa and Edith return to Mabel Dodge Luhans pink adobe in Taos, New Mexico. Willa is writing ''Death Comes for the Archbishop.'' Edith is sketching Taos pueblo and hoping for a visit to the nearby D.H. Lawrence ranch. The previous summer they had stumbled on a woman's body. Now the headless bodies of two women add to the mystery. Sue Hallgarth presents an intimate portrait of Cather, Lewis, the spectacular New Mexico landscape, and the famous artists and writers Mabel Dodge Luhan gathered in Taos.


I admit that the book had quite a lot of characters, and unfortunately I can't recall all of them, although I will try to mention what I believe are the main characters. Edith Lewis and Willa Cather are the main characters, one an illustrator I believe while the other is the famous author. They have an easy companionship with one another and both understand one another. There is also Mabel Dodge Luhan who is best known for her scandalous life and history as well as her marriage to Tony Luhan, a Pueblo Native American. There is also Spud who is sort of an editor? for Mabel and who has his own magazine and Adam who goes out to check out what's going on with D.H Lawrence raunch and comes upon across Maria who has gone through her own horrors.


One never knows how things will tie up together


The story is in third person narrative from Edith's as well as some male characters' points of view. While I enjoyed the scenery and learning more about the American artist scene as opposed to the famous Parisian one of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, I found the many names and characters to be a bit overwhelming.

Author Information:

Sue Hallgarth is a former English professor. She has written scholarly articles on Willa Cather and Edith Lewis, and this is her second book of fiction featuring the two of them. Her first book in the series is On the Rocks, set in 1929 on the island of Grand Manan in New Brunwick, Canada. She lives in Corrales, NM.

Follow Sue on Facebook at suehallgarthauthor, on Twitter @suehallgarth, and on And follow Sue's blog, reviews and other news about her books and writing at


A lot of mysteries I've read previously seem to be a bit straightforward in their purpose. This story, however, calls for a reader to be involved in more than just figuring out who done it. The author really focuses on the details and lives of the characters as well as setting up New Mexico of the 1920s. This is not a mystery to rush through but instead its something to sit down and go through slowly because the story engages the five senses and provides a lot of knowledge and research of Taos, New Mexico. In fact, mystery is more secondary than the main plot.

This is for Poetic Book Tours

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Friday, November 10, 2017

G927 Book Review of Lucky boy by Shanthi Sekaran

Name of Book: Lucky Boy

Author: Shanthi Sekaran

ISBN: 978-1-101-98226-6

Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons

Type of book: infertility, illegal immigration, love, culture, privilege, Mexico, California, undocumented workers, surviving, foster parents, detention centers, border, immigration, marriage, budgeting, career, friendships, motherhood

Year it was published: 2016


A heart-wrenching novel about the transformative power of motherhood and the redemptive beauty of love, perfect for readers of Jacquelyn Mitchard, Jenny Offill, and Cristina Henriquez.

"A fiercely compassionate story about the bonds and the bounds of motherhood and, ultimately, of love." --Cristina Henriquez, author of The Book of Unknown Americans

In this astonishing novel, Shanthi Sekaran gives voice to the devotion and anguish of motherhood through two women bound together by their love for one boy. Soli, a young undocumented Mexican woman in Berkeley, CA, finds that motherhood offers her an identity in a world where she's otherwise invisible. When she is placed in immigrant detention, her son comes under the care of Kavya, an Indian-American wife overwhelmed by her own impossible desire to have a child. As Soli fights for her son, Kavya builds her love on a fault line, her heart wrapped around someone else's child. Exploring the ways in which dreams and determination can reshape a family, Sekaran transforms real life into a thing of beauty. From rural Oaxaca to Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto to the dreamscapes of Silicon Valley, Lucky Boy offers a moving and revelatory look at the evolving landscape of the American dream and the ever-changing borders of love.


Main characters include Solimar Castro Valdez, Kavya Reddy and Rishi Reddy as well as the little boy, Ignacio. Solimar Castro Valdez in beginning of the story is a young eighteen year old girl who comes undocumented from a poor village in Oaxaca Mexico. She is best described as resourceful, a survivor and someone who does her very best to follow the rules to the letter. Solimar is also lucky in some ways and isn't afraid of hardship. Kavya Reddy is an Indian-American woman who got married to her college sweetheart Rishi. Kavya, it often seems, knows only wealth and privilege of life although she has a very big heart and is ready to open her house to a baby that is not hers. She is a talented chef and doesn't easily give up on her desires, determined to get what she wants one way or another. As she fosters Ignacio, one watches Kavya become far more mature and more sacrificing towards the young boy. Rishi is a bit ambivalent about becoming a father either biologically or through adoption, although he loves Kavya a great deal and will do anything for her. Ignacio is Solimar's biological son and Kavya's foster son. Ignacio, it seems is a big boy who most likely will be talented with words instead of physical aspect. He also inspires love and devotion in whoever he gets to meet.


Motherhood speaks the universal tongue


The story is in third person narrative from Solimar's, Kavya's and to some extent, Rishi's points of views and it takes place over the course of a few years. For me the world that Solimar knows versus the world that Kavya experiences is very stark and is very black and white with little to no gray shades. A lot of things about the detention center where Solimar was forced to stay was shocking to say the least and left me speechless. For me as well, it often feels as if I was asked to choose which "mother" I shall root for. In other words, which will triumph more, nature or nurture? The un-talked
about subjects of infertility, money, career, immigration and privilege are well done.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Shanthi Sekaran teaches creative writing and is a member of the San Francisco Writers' Grotto. She is the author of The Prayer Room and her work has appeared in the New York Times, Best New American Voices and Canteen, as well as online at ZYZZYVA and Mutha Magazine. A California native, she lives in Berkeley with her husband and two children. Lucky Boy is her second novel.


Is it possible to take on "taboo" issues and create a wonderful story from them? I am happy to say that in this story, the answer is a definite yes. The author takes on such a startling world of contrasts between the legal  and illegal immigration as well as treatment that women experience. In this story there are no right answers and its difficult to make up one's mind whose side is right and wrong. Although I believe that I went through legal "privileged" immigration, its odd that I related far more to illegal immigrant's side in terms of being a single mother to a little boy and having my parents help. As the reader sees more and more of two women's sides, it becomes difficult in choosing who is right; should the boy stay with his undocumented mother or should the boy stay with his well-off foster parents who want to adopt him? For a book that's guaranteed to change minds and lives, I highly recommend this story where main characters are as complex as the laws in this nation.

This was given to me by publisher for an honest review

5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

G926 one sip at a time; Learning to live in Provence

Title of the book: one sip at a time; Learning to live in Provence

Author: Keith van Sickle

Publisher: Self published

Publishing Date: 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9983120-0-2


Keith and Val had a dream – to live in Provence, the land of brilliant sunlight, charming hilltop villages and the deep blue waters of the Mediterranean.

But there were two problems: they weren’t French speakers and they had full-time jobs. So they came up with a plan…

Follow their adventures (and misadventures) as they quit their jobs, become consultants and split their time between two countries. Laugh along as they build a life in Provence, slowly mastering a new language and making friends with the locals over long meals and just a bit too much wine.

This light and breezy memoir is full of wry observations on France, like the power of cheese to sway elections, the right and wrong ways for men to kiss each other, and the law requiring that blood donors must speak French.

If you’ve ever dreamed of changing gears and learning what joie de vivre is really all about, you won’t want to miss this delightful book.

Author Info:
(From the book)

Keith Van Sickle is a technology industry veteran and lifelong traveler who got his first taste of overseas life while studying in England during college. But it was the expat assignment to Switzerland that made him really fall in love with Europe. With his wife Val and their trusty dog, he now splits his time between Silicon Valley and Provence, delving ever deeper into what makes France so endlessly fascinating.


Find the author on Facebook and Twitter
Visit his website

Subscribe to his mailing list and get information about new releases.
Buy The Book On Amazon.Com

Personal Opinion:

Looking for a short and sweet guide on what its like to live in France that is informative yet hilarious? Look no further than this book. I thought I read quite a lot on how Americans experienced France as tourists or as attempting to settle into a complex yet  rewarding world where pace of life is slow and where people are more welcoming. This book is part comedy and part information where the author dedicates short viginettes of French life for his audience. Some of the subjects that he tackles include French driving, kissing greetings and how holidays are celebrated where he stayed.

This is for France Book Tours


Monday, November 6
Review + Giveaway at Books, Dreams, Life

Tuesday, November 7
Review + Giveaway at An Accidental Blog

Wednesday, November 8
Review + Excerpt + Giveaway at Locks, Hooks and Books

Thursday, November 9
Review by Grass Monster

Friday, November 10
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Monday, November 13
Review + + Excerpt + Giveaway at Musings of a Writer & Unabashed Francophile

Tuesday, November 14
Review + Guest-Post + Giveaway at Books Are Cool

Wednesday, November 15
Review by Shree

Thursday, November 16
Review at Shelf Rider

Friday, November 17
Review + Giveaway at Words And Peace

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

G948 Purple Turtle Graded Level 01

Title of the book: Purple Turtle Graded Level 01

Author: N/A

Publisher: Aadarsh Pvt. Ltd

Publishing Date: 2017



A1 Edutainment takes you to the world on an amazing new reading programme with Purple Turtle. The first level of Purple Turtle Graded Readers includes a set of 12 books with interesting stories and activities and 150 word count. This level is exclusively for learners who have just started reading. It is based on ATOS and Lexile reading level system. Comes with A Day with Purple; The Lost Bag; What Is That Smell?; A Family Visit; A Surprise for Roxy; The Runaway Wagon; Counting Insects; Purple Makes Soup; The Animal Parade; Music for Melody; Biggy's Bad Manners; Purple's New Shoes.

Author Info:
(From the iRead Website)

Purple Turtle is India’s 1st International brand with its educational content in several languages sold in more than 30 countries including Russia, China, US and UK. The character of Purple Turtle has delighted children across the globe through beautifully created Purple Turtle books, rhymes and videos available on YouTube.

Purple Turtle was created with the idea to spread education through a wide range of innovative books for children. To give them the experience of convenient online learning, Purple Turtle also brings both learning and entertainment on a common platform to give a wholesome learning experience to young minds.

​Connect with the publisher: Website ~ Twitter ~Facebook
Personal Opinion:

Although my son is not quite a reader yet, (about 19 months,) he does enjoy listening to Purple Turtle stories, namely A Day with Purple, Purple Makes Soup, The Animal Parade, and Purple's New Shoes. Each book is short, very colorful and it does teach children more than words; the little books cover colors, shapes, family, counting, etc. I also like the colorful illustrations that accompany each book and that show off Purple Turtle's world. I do think that focus on illustrations can be reworked because in one for example there is mention of strawberries and melon (Purple Makes Soup,) but I didn't see the illustration of strawberries and melon that should be there.

This is for iRead Book Tours


Oct 30 - Working Mommy Journal - review Level 2 / giveaway
Oct 31 - Library of Clean Reads - review of Level 2 / giveaway
Nov 1 - A Mama's Corner of the World - review Level 1 / giveaway
Nov 2 - Bound 4 Escape - review Level 3 / giveaway
Nov 6 - Sara's Organized Chaos - review Level 1 / giveaway
Nov 7 - T's Stuff - review Level 1 / giveaway
Nov 7 - One Frugal Girl - review Level 2 / giveaway
Nov 8 - Reading is My Passion - review Level 1 / giveaway
Nov 8 - Seasons of Opportunities - review of Level 3 / giveaway
Nov 9 - Divas With A Purpose - review Level 1 / giveaway
Nov 10 - Svetlana's Reads and Views - review of Level 1
Nov 13 - Did you Hear About the Morgans? - review of Level 1
Nov 13 - Blooming with Books - review of Level 2 / giveaway
Nov 14 - Brooke Blogs - review of Level 1 / giveaway
Nov 14 - 100 Pages A Day - review of Level 1 / giveaway
Nov 15 - FUONLYKNEW - review of Level 3 / giveaway
Nov 16 - Kristin’s Novel Café - review of Level 3 / giveaway
Nov 16 - Singing Librarian Books - review of Level 1 / giveaway
Nov 17 - Bookworm for Kids - review of Level 3 / giveaway
Nov 20 - ebook addicts - review of Level 1 / giveaway
Nov 20 - Writer with Wanderlust - review of Level 3 / giveaway
Nov 21 - Adventures Thru Wonderland - review of Level 1 / giveaway
Nov 22 - Fantastic Feathers - review of Level 1 / giveaway
Nov 23 - Life as Leels - review of Level 1
Nov 24 - Ginger Mom & the Kindle Quest - review of Level 1 / giveaway
Nov 24 - This Mom's Delight - review of Level 1 / giveaway
TBD - Just One More - review Level 3
TBD - Rockin' Book Reviews - review Level 3 / giveaway
4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Coming Attractions of November 2017

Last month I was unable to achieve my goals when it came to finishing and reading some books outside of book tours, I'm sad to report. Perhaps this month will be different? I don't have as many book tours on my blog, therefore I will be able to read and finish some books that are awaiting me for a while. I also am planning on reviewing some backup books, namely Traitor's Knot by Cryssa Bazos and To Be A Queen by Annie Whitehead. Cross fingers that I can review them!

For this month, I'm excited to report that a new book by Elizabeth St. John will be appearing on my blog, and I also will make sure that two of Jennifer Kincheloe's books will also be reviewed. Some other authors appearing on my blog include Death Comes by Sue Hallgarth which is a bit out of my depth because I know very little about the American literary scene in America. Also the first level of Purple Turtle books will appear along with a book spotlight for Twofer Murder by Lauren Carr (Book will be reviewed in January of next year!) Also I am planning on reading and reviewing Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaram. Without further ado, here is my November schedule:

Expect Reviews for... (Can Change)

Death Comes by Sue Hallgarth (November 4th, 2017 might get changed to a later date...) 

Purple Turtle Graded Readers Level 01 (November 10th, 2017)

One Sip at a time by Ketih Van Sickle (November 10th, 2017)

By Love Divided by Elizabeth St. John (November 17th, 2017)

Beyond Love by D.D. Marx (November 27th, 2017)

Book Spotlight for Twofer Murder by Lauren Carr (November 28th, 2017. Review to come in January)

Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaram (I hope to be able to read and review it in November)

The Secret Life of Anna Blanc by Jennifer Kincheloe (I hope to be able to read and review it in November)

The Woman in the Camphor Trunk by Jennifer Kincheloe  (I hope to be able to read and review it in November)

Hopeful Reads... (Can change)

Bright from the Start; The Simle Science-Backed Way to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind from Birth to Age 3 (Mine boy is almost 2...better get started)

The Heirs by Susan Rieger

The Master of Verona by David Blixt (To this day I still recall the Prince of Doom by the author. Really better get to this book as well...)

Washington's Spies; The story of America's First Spy Ring by Alexander Rose

Dinosaurs without bones; Dinosaur lives revealed by their trace fossils by Anthony J. Martin

Slightly South of Simple by Kristy Woodson Harvey

House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick

November 2017

A House Divided-Pearl S Buck
SR: March 11th, 2016
Madness treads lightly- Polina Dashkova
SR: November 18th, 2017
Death comes- Sue Hallgarth
SR: October 29th, 2017
FR: November 11th, 2017
The Republic of uzupis- halJi
SR: January 4th 2017
The samurai of seville- John J Healey
SR: October 25th, 2017
FR: November 18th, 2017
The secret life of Anna Blanc- Jennifer Kincheloe
SR: October 27th, 2017
FR: November 9th, 2017
The woman in the camphor trunk- Jennifer Kincheloe
SR: November 9th, 2017
FR: November 20th, 2017
Beyond love-action d.d Marx
SR: November 11th, 2017
FR: November 22nd, 2017
The Comet Seekers Helen Sedgwick
SR: January 17th 2017
Lucky boy- Shanthi Sekaram
SR: October 31st, 2017
FR: November 7th, 2017
By love divided- Elizabeth st John
SR: November 3rd, 2017
A gentleman in Moscow- amor Towles
SR: June 8th, 2017
What is forgiven-C.F Yetmen
SR: October 12th, 2017
FR: November 3rd 2017

Tree of Souls-Howard Schwartz
SR: February 10th, 2014
Bright from the start- Jill Stamm
SR: November 20th, 2017
Life and death behind the brick and razor code red diamond- Isaac Alexis
SR: November 22nd, 2017

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

G930 Book Review of Beyond Believing by D.D. Marx

Name of Book: Beyond Believing

Author: D.D. Marx

ISBN: 978-0-9972481-0-4

Publisher: Self published

Part of a Series: The Beyond Series

Type of book: coincidences, romance, meetings, friendships, death, cancer, chef, travel, falling in love, spirit guide, following dreams

Year it was published: 2017


When Olivia gets news of her best friend Dan’s fatal car accident, her life is shattered. Consumed with grief and struggling to find any meaning or purpose to life, she trudges along with a gaping void in her heart. Finally, when her frustration reaches its peak, Olivia decides to put her trust in the depth of friendship the two of them shared. That trust finally allows him to breakthrough to her, and Dan begins to guide Olivia through the twists and turns of her life, leading to something new and entirely unexpected.

When Olivia exposes a gigantic internal scandal at work, her career implodes. With no job and nowhere to turn, she escapes to Palm Springs for the sympathy and care of her beloved cousin, Garrett. However, with only weeks left before the opening of his newest store, “Gin and Tonic,” Garrett isn’t quite the comfort Olivia had expected. She yet again tries to find her way, and in the process meets someone who begins to fill that void in her heart. She’s never before experienced a love like this; it heals her soul and rekindles her spirit – and just may have been the design of her dearly departed friend all along.

Beyond Believing is a sweet, funny, and romantic story that touches the heart, serves up delicious twists and turns, and shows the reader that there’s no such thing as “coincidence.” Author D.D. Marx regards this book as her “love letter to friendship,” written in memory of her best friend, Dan.


Main characters include Olivia and Finn. Olivia is a planner who seems to have strayed from her dreams of being a writer but at the same when the death of her friend occurs, she is beginning to believe in beyond and is trying to trust in a higher power. Finn is a talented chef and a widower who has lost his wife to cancer and who is also trying to make something of his life upon her death. Friendships do play a strong role in terms of Olivia's and Finn's friends and how much they care and worry about the protagonists. I do feel that the friends need to be more developed, but I do love what I am seeing so far in the series.


There are no such things as coincidences in the book


The story is in first person narrative from Finn's and Olivia's points of view and its set up in an intriguing way because the events that shape the characters' lives do intersect with one another but at the same time the characters grow as people. Friendship is also very strong in the book and I honestly couldn't wait until the two characters met and how they would connect to each other.

Author Information:
(From iRead Book Tours)

Buy Book #1:
Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble
Add to Goodreads

Meet the Author:

D.D. marx came barreling into this world with the “gift of gab”. Her parents quickly identified a pattern forming when each teacher conference contained the words “she’s a little too social”. d.d.’s biggest life concern was identifying which boy she’d be chasing at recess rather than mastering math problems. She parlayed this gift into creating play dates on the playground. If friendship were a business, she would be a millionaire. She prides her life on maintaining friends from every walk of life in every corner of the country. This is the fuel that fills her tank.

Graduating with a Communication degree from the University of Dayton, she attempted to break into the world of Public Relations but was instead side-tracked with a J.O.B. At the strong encouragement of her friends and family, who dubbed her a “funny story teller”, she stretched her comfort zone by entering the Second City program in Chicago where her itch for entertainment was finally scratched. Determined to share her story and create a legacy, she decided to combine these talents and become a writer. She returned to her alma-mater to immerse herself in a 3-day writing course where this dream finally came to life. Asked to imagine if she was a super-hero, her task was to dig-deep to describe her special powers. Based on the real-life tragedy of one of her best friends, that answer came without hesitation. All she’s ever wanted was the power to visit with him one last time. This is the inspiration that catapulted her into her debut project titled, the Beyond Series. She dove into a world imagining that he never left.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Pinterest

There are no such things as coincidences in the book. As I imagine, if my friend Jennifer Wakefield was alive today, most likely I'd be calling her right now and talking about this book, knowing that she would enjoy the message and the story. However she is not here on this earth, yet her words and legacy live on. (Another odd coincidence is that the author has striking resemblance to my friend, and just like Olivia's friend that passed away, my friend passed away way too suddenly as well.) The writing style is a bit simplistic, but at the same time the message in the book is profound and the story is well done.

This is for iRead Book Tours


Oct 16 - Library of Clean Reads - trilogy spotlight / giveaway
Oct 16 - Working Mommy Journal - review of Beyond Believing / giveaway
Oct 17 - Cheryl's Book Nook -  review of Beyond Believing / giveaway
Oct 18 - Cindy's Love of Books - review of Beyond Believing / giveaway
Oct 19 - A Holland Reads - review of Beyond Believing / guest post / giveaway
Oct 23 - Nighttime Reading Center -  review of Beyond Believing / giveaway
Oct 24 - My Reading Journeys - review of Beyond Believing / giveaway
Oct 26 - Book Lover in Florida - review of Beyond Believing / guest post / giveaway
Oct 27 - Kristin's Novel Café - review of Beyond Believing / giveaway
Oct 30 - Ginger Mom & the Kindle Quest - review of Beyond Believing 
Oct 31 - Svetlana's Reads and Views - review of Beyond Believing
Nov 1 - Bound 4 Escape - review of Beyond Love / giveaway
​Nov 2 - 
Amy's Bookish Life - review of Beyond Believing 
Nov 3 - Cindy's Love of Books - review of Beyond Love / giveaway
Nov 6 - Jessica Cassidy - review of Beyond Love / author interview / giveaway
Nov 7 - Cheryl's Book Nook -  review of Beyond Love / giveaway
Nov 10 - Nighttime Reading Center -  review of Beyond Love / giveaway
Nov 14 - Rockin' Book Reviews - review of Beyond Believing / guest post / giveaway
Nov 15 - Working Mommy Journal - review of Beyond Love / giveaway
Nov 15 - 
Ginger Mom & the Kindle Quest - review of Beyond Love
Nov 16 - My Reading Journeys - review of Beyond Love / giveaway
Nov 17 - Amy's Bookish Life - review of Beyond Love
Nov 17 - 
Haddie's Haven - review of Beyond Believing / giveaway
Nov 21 - Rockin' Book Reviews - review of Beyond Love / giveaway
Nov 22 - Kristin's Novel Café - review of Beyond Love / giveaway
Nov 23 - A Holland Reads - review of Beyond Love / giveaway
Nov 27 - Svetlana's Reads and Views - review of Beyond Love
Nov 28 - Nighttime Reading Center -  review of Beyond Forever / giveaway
Nov 30 - Book Lover in Florida - review of Beyond Love / giveaway
Dec 1 - Bound 4 Escape - review of Beyond Forever / giveaway
Dec 4 - Cindy's Love of Books - review of Beyond Forever / giveaway
Dec 5 - Working Mommy Journal - review of Beyond Forever / giveaway
Dec 6 - Cheryl's Book Nook -  review of Beyond Forever / giveaway
Dec 7 - Haddie's Haven - review of Beyond Love / giveaway
Dec 8 - Ginger Mom & the Kindle Quest - review of Beyond Forever
Dec 12 - My Reading Journeys - review of Beyond Forever / giveaway
Dec 14 - Rockin' Book Reviews - review of Beyond Forever / giveaway
Dec 15 - Amy's Bookish Life - review of Beyond Forever
Dec 18 - Jessica Cassidy - review of Beyond Forever / giveaway
Dec 19 - Kristin's Novel Café - review of Beyond Forever / giveaway
Dec 20 - Haddie's Haven - review of Beyond Forever / giveaway
Dec 21 - Book Lover in Florida - review of Beyond Forever / giveaway
Dec 21 - 
Svetlana's Reads and Views - review of Beyond Forever
​Dec 22 - A Holland Reads - review of Beyond Forever/ giveaway
4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Monday, October 30, 2017

G932 Book Review of First crush Last love by Elizabeth McKenna

Name of Book: First Crush Last Love

Author: Elizabeth McKenna

ISBN: 9781548371739

Publisher: 2017

Type of book: First crushes, second chances, domestic abuse, 1980s, 1990s, homosexuality, high school, friendship, high school reunion, marriage, stalking, child abuse

Year it was published: 2017


Remember your first crush? How your heart raced and your cheeks flushed whenever you saw him? Jessie Baxter does, and it’s happening again. Ten years ago, despite her best efforts, Lee Archer wanted to be just friends. Now, he wants more, but Jessie's still recovering from a psycho ex-husband. Can she learn to trust again and make her first crush into her last love?

Elizabeth McKenna’s latest novel will have you remembering the angst of high school, the grief of a failed relationship, and the happiness of true love.


Main characters include Jessie, Lee Archer and Billy. Other characters such as Jessie's and Lee's best friends are there, but they are more as background noise rather than as people. At first Jessie is a young woman that has a crush on Lee Archer and also has goals when it comes to journalism. She seems to also suffer from low self-esteem and hates to see herself in a friend-zone. Lee Archer seems to have his own issues when it comes to romance and commitment and he often can't see the good thing in front of him. However when he does get past his hangups, he becomes a sweet and romantic guy. Billy eventually becomes Jessie's husband and for me he seems to be in the vein of a cardboard stereotypical villain rather than someone sophisticated. No one deserves to go through what Jessie went through, but I guess I expected there to be more sophistication from Billy.


Don't give up on love


The story is written in third person narrative from Jessie's and Lee Archer's points of view, each chapter spanning a month, or a day of the week as in the case of the third part. Personally for me, the first two parts are best described as disjointed, and its unfortunate that some of the events that happened in previous month weren't mentioned in next month. For example, in one month, Jessie's fiancee forces her to buy and wear a dress that she doesn't like in order to meet his family: however, in the next chapter, that particular event is not mentioned. What I am trying to say is that I felt more as if I didn't see the characters grow up and change, and only got information second-hand rather than first-hand. One other thing I wasn't comfortable with is the handling of homosexuality. I love reading and reviewing books that represent diversity thus I have nothing against homosexuality, but I just feel as if Jessie's brother wasn't handled well and I don't really get to know him beyond that label, I'm sad to say.

Author Information:
(From iRead Book Tours)

Buy the Book:
Amazon  ~  Barnes & Noble
Add to Goodreads

Meet the Author:

Elizabeth McKenna works as a full-time technical writer/editor for a large software company. Though her love of books reaches back to her childhood, she had never read romance novels until one Christmas when her sister gave her the latest bestseller by Nora Roberts. She was hooked from page one (actually, she admits it was the first love scene).

She had always wanted to write fiction, so she combined her love of history, romance and a happy ending to write Cera's Place and Venice in the Moonlight. Her short story, The Gypsy Casts a Spell, is available for free on her site She hopes you will enjoy her first contemporary romance novel, First Crush Last Love, as much as others have enjoyed her historical romances.

​Elizabeth lives in Wisconsin with her understanding husband, two beautiful daughters, and a sassy Labrador. When she isn't writing, working, or being a mom, she's sleeping.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram

I expected a bit more from the story than what I got, and I'm sorry to admit that I ended up being disappointed by it. The story did have relevance and it does present  hope to people who have been in the main character's situation, but quite a number of things bothered me, one being that what I felt would have been relevant events are left out of the story, and the secondary characters need to be worked on more, in particular the villains of the story. The story can be read in just a few settings and the last part, when it takes place in 1994 is sweet and its where the author does shine.

This is for iRead Book Tours


Oct 16 - The World As I See It - review / giveaway
Oct 17 - Working Mommy Journal - review / giveaway
Oct 18 - Books, Dreams, Life - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Oct 20 - Amie's Book Reviews - review / giveaway
​Oct 21 - Library of Clean Reads - review / giveaway
Oct 23 - Cheryl's Book Nook - review / giveaway
Oct 24 - Books for Books - review
Oct 25 - My Reading Journeys - review
​Oct 26 - Haddie's Haven - review / giveaway
Oct 27 - 3 Partners in Shopping - book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 27 - Tragically Dull Adventures of an Almost Librarian - review
Oct 30 - Svetlana's Reads and Views - review
Oct 30 - Divas With A Purpose - review
Oct 31 - The Autistic Gamer - book spotlight
Oct 31 - Olio by Marilyn - review / author interview / giveaway
Nov 2 - Jessica Cassidy - review / author interview / giveaway
Nov 2 - The Pen and Muse - book spotlight / giveaway
Nov 3 - A Soccer Mom's Book Blog - review om giveaway
Nov 3 - bookmyopia - review
Nov 3 - Celticlady's Reviews - book spotlight
Nov 3 - Kristin’s Novel Café - review / giveaway
TBD - Rockin' Book Reviews - review / giveaway3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)
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