Category Archives: Book Reviews

#BookReview Spies of the Midnight Sun: A True Story of WWII Heroes by @Sammarquisbooks

Spies of the midnight sun book cover image.

five gold stars imageSPIES OF THE MIDNIGHT SUN: A TRUE STORY OF WWII HEROES

SAMUEL MARQUIS

 

You might ask me why I have read just about every one of Sam Marquis’ books, but don’t bother. I’m going to give you reasons why as I go along. As a former history teacher and continued historian and lover of history, perhaps those last two are one and the same, and having been known as a World, read European, History specialist, you would think I would know the finer details of something with such significance to the world as WWII. But, unfortunately all the nice money I paid for a top of the line college education failed me yet again. And I know this only because of that evil man writer known as Samuel Marquis.

Of all the books Marquis has written, his WWII trilogy is by far my favorite, only because of my love of history. I am biased that way. I love his other books too but again, I am biased. What sets his books apart from other historical fiction efforts is his deep research and attention to detail. He doesn’t just use information that is easy to find, he uses information that has been declassified by governments. That means he dredges through file after file and reads obscure books with information in it that would bore a bookaholic, all in the effort to find three characters little known by anyone outside of their families and immediate hierarchy during WWII.

Eddie Chapman Agent Zigzag
Eddie Chapman-Agent Zigzag

Spies of the Midnight Sun: A True Story of WWII Heroes is about real people. We have the colorful British safecracker, Eddie Chapman, who is the double agent known as Agent Zigzag. Then there are two amazing female Norwegian Resistance fighters, the 20-year-old model Dagmar Lahlum, who is Chapman’s lover, and Annemarie Breien. Of course, if there are heroes and good guys then there are the evil bad guy and of course Nazis cover that role well, and in this case, it is the Gestapo’s investigator Siegfried Fehmer.

Dagmar Lahlum
Dagmar Lahlum

Several reviewers have commented that this book should be a film and I agree. You have it all. Spies, the Resistance, Nazis, surprises, twists and turns, and moments of complete shock. And you can’t forget the must of great characters.

So why do I like Marquis’ books and recommend them to everyone? He isn’t just writing fluff about a favorite subject, which he could and get away with it because his writing is that good, he loves his subject deeply and it shows in the quality you get with each chapter. With Spies of the Midnight Sun, the final in his WWII trilogy, he chooses to spotlight the women who made victory possible. I don’t believe that fact has been shouted enough. He is bringing to light how important women were, the chances they took, the willingness to die, or perhaps experience worse, for their country’s freedom.

Annemarie Breien
Annemarie Breien

I only hope Sam Marquis has more historical fiction left in him. How he has put out this much in-depth content so rapidly and not slackened in his quality or even quantity of words for that matter, is beyond me. I’ve written historical fiction and afterwards I was so burnt out that I needed a serious break, but Marquis seems to have an IV of Red Bull permanently inserted in his veins.

Get this book! You don’t need to have read the other books in the trilogy. They are standalones. Once you read this one, you will WANT those others, especially Altar of Resistance, which includes declassified information about the Vatican and Pope’s roles during WWII. You will be surprised. Go to Amazon NOW before you forget to later!

Click any words in blue or any image to go to Amazon to order the book.

@FTThum #BookReview ‘everybody lies: What the internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are’ by Seth Stephen-Davidowitz

I am intrigued by the impact of internet on human lives. This book is about an aspect of it.

Title:      everybody lies: What the internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are
Author:  Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
Publishers: Bloomsbury Publishing, UK (2018)
Format: Paperback
Pages:   338
Genre: Non-fiction, Science, Technology, Psychology, Sociology

 

 

What’s it about?

As Steven Pinker(cognitive psychologist, linguist, and popular science author) states in the foreword, “this is a book about a whole new way of studying the mind” and, I would add, human behaviour.

This book is less about big data science than about the new innovative ways of thinking, of designing, and of approaching the questions we ask of our life.

Stephens-Davidowitz makes his points by regaling the reader with early Big Data collected through Google searches and clicks, predominantly. Facebook also features as with other Silicon Valley data companies.  “everybody lies” gives new and interesting insights into matters such as the effect of assassination of leader on a country’s economy, or going to a great university equates to a better career or larger paycheck.

Stephens-Davidowitz provides a definition of “data” which is no longer limited to numbers or words. For a data scientist such as he, Big Data has four virtues. First, Big Data as “digital truth serum” as people are most honest without an apparent audience leading to honest data on say, sexual preferences or racial discrimination. It provide honest data.  Second, it offers a way to run large-scale randomized controlled experiment through the click of the mouse. Third, Big Data allows us, through the large scale sample, to zoom in on subsets of people and with greater accuracy. Fourth, Big Data provides new types of data.

What’s logical and rational before is no longer enough nor are the experiment results accurate enough. The scope of our sample size has significantly increased withe the internet, so why think small?

That is not to say, as Stephens-Davidowitz points out, that Big Data is the answer but it is a valuable resource which we are ill-advised to ignore. Information is king or queen, and this is truer than before. Social science is becoming real science, Stephens-Davidowitz says. Why? Read the book.

Stephens-Davidowitz encourages us to approach this field with curiosity and creativity when contemplating how we use and manage data. Data however is neither good or evil; it is powerful.  In “everybody lies”, he cautions against what Big Data cannot do and what we shouldn’t do with Big Data.

Would I recommend it?

Reading this book is a pleasurable journey. Highly recommended.

My rating:                 4/5

~ FlorenceT

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2018 LitWorldInterviews

#Book #Review of The Typist by Caroline Taylor.

The Typist book coverThe Typist by Caroline Taylor available on AMAZON by clicking HERE.

The Typist by Caroline Taylor? Let me start out by saying that at 250 pages you’ll be able to read this one in one sitting if you choose to but actually because you can’t help it.

Set in 1960s Washington, D.C. the atmosphere is perfect. If you lived there during that time you would swear you were right back there again as you turn the pages. Taylor nailed it.

Judah Lundquist moves to DC to make a better life for herself after growing up having been used in schemes by her father and conflicting being bible thumped by her mother. That had to be confusing, but she finds the courage to move on and she ends up right in the middle of the deep end of secrets at an insurance company. Yes, an insurance company. Think about the 1960s and how easy it would be to do things less than the straight and narrow.

But the intelligent young woman doesn’t back down as the stories moves on although she is a bit naïve about certain things, it still doesn’t stop her.

You get twists and surprises by the end. The only thing I can say against the book is that it that is a bit slow to begin with, which I have found to be common in books lately. I think we as a society are just used to things being crammed into an hour or two hour filmed piece that we forget that books just like this one are behind what we see on screen, just cut up and pieced together. So keep reading and you’ll get in to a groove and finish before you know it.

Who is Caroline Taylor?

Formerly from Washington, D.C., Caroline Taylor is an award-winning writer and editor living in North Carolina. She has written two mysteries—What Are Friends For? (Five Star-Cengage, 2011) and Jewelry from a Grave (Five Star-Cengage, 2013)—and is the author of Publishing the Nonprofit Annual Report: Tips, Traps, and Tricks of the Trade (Jossey-Bass, 2001). Her short stories and essays have appeared in several online and print magazines. She is a member of the North Carolina Writers’ Network, Sisters in Crime, and Mystery Writers of America. Visit her at http://www.carolinestories.com

The Typist book cover

Guest Post by Samuel Marquis: British Spymaster Tar Robertson and Double Cross were Instrumental in Winning D-Day

British Spymaster Tar Robertson and Double Cross were Instrumental in Winning D-Day

By Samuel Marquis

In Spies of the Midnight Sun: A True Story of WWII Heroes, Book 3 of his WWII Series, Historical Fiction Author Samuel Marquis brings to life legendary British MI5 Spymaster Tar Robertson and the Double Cross Spy System, which played a pivotal role in the Allied deception at Normandy on D-Day and other operations in Hitler’s Festung Europa.

It has become an annual ritual for Americans and British to celebrate the hoodwinking of Hitler and the triumph of democracy over tyranny represented by D-Day. We all know how important it was, the tremendous stakes involved, and the glamorous Allied players in the daring assault upon Hitler’s Festung Europa recreated in countless books and movies. We all know that June 6-9, 1944, comprised the most epic battle of WWII. The only problem is it’s not true. The D-Day deception operation and subsequent acquisition of the beaches of Normandy was, in the words of Ben Macintyre in his book Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies, “an undisputed, unalloyed, world-changing triumph”—but it was not the greatest battle of WWII. That distinction belongs to Stalingrad or Kursk. But the bloodbath of the Eastern Front—with war crimes committed by Hitler’s Germans and Stalin’s Russians in equal measure—doesn’t resonate with the historical poignancy of D-Day. And D-Day is still the greatest amphibious operation in the history of warfare.

With that in mind, the key to the success of that longest day was the Double Cross Spy System and Operation Fortitude, the latter of which was designed to persuade the Germans that the invasion of France would not take place in Normandy but in Pas de Calais. The Double Cross Spy System, or XX System, was a counterespionage and deception operation of the British Security Service, a civilian organization usually referred to by its cover title MI5. The system is described in detail in Books 1 and 3 of my World War Two Series, my countdown-to-D-Day thriller Bodyguard of Deception and the newly released Spies of the Midnight Sun: A True Story of WWII Heroes that takes place mostly in Occupied Norway. Under Double Cross, German agents in Britain – real and false – were captured, turned themselves in or simply announced themselves, and were then used by the British to broadcast mainly disinformation to their Nazi controllers. The deception operations were overseen by the Twenty Committee under the leadership of Thomas Argyll “Tar” Robertson and John Cecil Masterman; the name of the committee comes from the number 20 in Roman numerals: “XX” (i.e. a double cross).

Tar Robertson was the brains behind Double Cross. He wore a Glengarry cap and McKenzie tartan trews of the Seaforth Highlanders, and was universally well-liked by those who knew and worked with him. He played a pivotal role not only in the main Normandy deception, Operation Fortitude, but in Operation Mincemeat, a deception intended to cover the 1943 Allied invasion of Sicily by fooling the Germans into thinking that an invasion of Greece was imminent. His deft handling of a widely disparate collection of Double Cross agents—among them socialites, sex-addicts, criminals, and drunks—brought several spectacular military advantages to the Allied cause between 1942 and 1945.

Robertson—working with his multifaceted team of double agents and his MI5 colleague Masterman, the somewhat priggish, cricket-obsessed Oxford don— was the driving force in the various Double Cross deception operations that played an important role in the ultimate Allied victory (though not as much as the Big Red Army pounding away along the Eastern Front, remember). The most important by far was Operation Fortitude, which had the overall effect of immobilizing the Wehrmacht tank reserves and limiting the effectiveness of German counter attacks all along the Normandy coastline.

While the incessant rivalries among and within the Wehrmacht, Abwehr, SS, the Führer’s headquarters, and the various other bureaucracies clogging German decision-making played a huge role in the German failure and Allied triumph, the Fortitude deception drove the Reich to an even higher state of confusion at a critical time—with disastrous results for a vacillating Hitler and Nazi Germany. And it was all brought about by a thirty-one-year-old Scotsman named Thomas Argyll Robertson, who early on in the war decided to enlist captured Nazi operatives as double agents rather than hanging them from the gallows.

It was a brilliant and uplifting idea for a country under siege in the air by Nazi Germany during the Battle for Britain, and there is no doubt that Robertson was the right man for the job. By all accounts, he was affable, determined, discreet, and doggedly loyal—but he could also be ruthless in his handling of those who threatened Double Cross. With a fondness and appreciation for a good practical joke, he also liked to pick the names of his turned double agents and tended to give them colorful monikers that he and his staff would not fail to remember. Two of his favorite and most successful doubles were the convicted safecracker Eddie Chapman (code-named Agent Zigzag by Robertson because of his unpredictability) and the Yugoslavian playboy Dusko Popov (code-named Tricycle Robertson because he enjoyed ménage à trois sex).

Tar Robertson was widely recognized by many of his contemporaries as one of MI5’s greatest assets, but is little known today. So, this June 6—during the 74rd anniversary of D-Day—is a good time to pay homage to a legendary British spymaster who helped the Allies win the war. He was truly a great one—and he had a sense of humor to boot.

Get Spies of the Midnight Sun: A True Story of WWII Heroes at Amazon.com by clicking HERE.

Spies of the midnight sun book cover image.

Biography

The ninth great-grandson of legendary privateer Captain William Kidd, Samuel Marquis is the bestselling, award-winning author of a World War Two Series, the Nick Lassiter-Skyler International Espionage Series, and historical pirate fiction. His novels have been #1 Denver Post bestsellers, received multiple national book awards (Foreword Reviews Book of the Year, American Book Fest Best Book, USA Best Book, Beverly Hills, Next Generation Indie, Colorado Book Awards), and garnered glowing reviews from #1 bestseller James Patterson, Kirkus, and Foreword Reviews (5 Stars). Book reviewers have compared Marquis’s WWII thrillers Bodyguard of Deception and Altar of Resistance to the epic historical novels of Tom Clancy, John le Carré, Ken Follett, Herman Wouk, Daniel Silva, and Alan Furst. Mr. Marquis’s newest historical novel, Spies of the Midnight Sun, is the true story of legendary British safecracker and spy Eddie Chapman, the British Double Cross Spy System, and courageous Norwegian female Resistance operatives Dagmar Lahlum and Annemarie Breien. His website is samuelmarquisbooks.com and for publicity inquiries, please contact JKSCommunications at info@jkscommunications.com.

Mourning Dove by Claire Fullerton. #Book #Review

Mourning Dove Cover Image

five gold stars image

Mourning Dove by Claire Fullerton, author of the wonderful Dancing to an Irish Reel.

The book has been compared has reminded readers of the works of Pat Conroy, and if you know anything about Southern novels then you know that is the highest praise. You won’t be disappointed.

Mourning Dove isn’t just a book about family in the South. It’s about the reality of a family in the South. There are many dramatizations of what people believe life is like here in the Southern part of the US, but unless you lived it, you don’t know it. Claire Fullerton lived it. The author and I have had exchanges in the past about commonalities in our lives to the point that I know she is the real deal. She grew up a Memphis girl while I lived just 2 hours away in Tupelo, MS.

One thing about Southern life is there are layers. Depending on who you are socializing with will determine which layer you allow to show. That’s for your own protection. You learn this quickly to survive, not only in Southern society but in your own family. If you aren’t like your blood then you in more trouble than you would be at any other point in time. This is just an observation I’m throwing in here.

Mourning Dove finds Posey, moving back to Memphis, the city of her birth with her two children. The story is told through the voice of Millie, the youngest child. She’s the quiet one who looks up to her charismatic brother, Finley. The children are thrown into a world totally alien to their Minnesota home when they set foot in Memphis, a city where old society still looks to generational lines to help determine societal prestige.

Posey, sets out to find a new husband and ends up catching the Colonel, a totally inappropriate match for a husband only because of his place in society in the hopes it will continue to help her and assure her children will not fall from grace. The problem is, this leaves her children without true parents. Posey mothers occasionally but it doesn’t really help her children.

The star of the show is Finley, the big brother that has been given almost god like qualities by Millie in his perfection. His talent, his intellect, his abilities to move people. The things she cannot do. But just as a god, he is just out of reach in his kinetic life of always pushing higher and higher to next level of his creativity. His time in Charlottesville to attend university and expanding his music lies perfectly with the music scene of the day for a certain element that continued in university towns on into the 80s.

But without Finley, Millie has to fend for herself in the aristocratic society of her mother’s upbringing. He was her navigator of Memphis, her protector of sorts.

If you want to know the real South of the 1970s, read Mourning Dove. Much like Claire Fullerton’s masterpiece, Dancing to an Irish Reel, you get atmosphere, emotions, characters, not only the main but a wonderful supporting cast, which very much matches what you find in the South. You also find yourself pulled in to the landscape and forget you exist in a present. You are present in the past.

Preorder Mourning Dove on Amazon by clicking HERE before June 29,

@FTThum #BookReview ‘First Person’ by Richard Flanagan

Because I liked the premise of this book by the 2014 Man Booker Price winner, I thought I’ll give it a try.

Title:      First Person
Author:  Richard Flanagan
Publishers: Penguin Random House Australia
Format: Hardback
Pages:   392
Genre: Fiction, Thriller

 

 

What’s it about?

“First Person” is a quiet yet violent  thriller which begins with the protagonist Kif Kehlmann being offered a commission to ghost-write the memoir of Siegfried Heidl.

Heidl is a notorious con-man and corporate criminal awaiting trial. And Kif is a writer desperate for a well-paying job. How hard could it be anyway?

Little does Kif realise he would put his integrity on the line, even his morality and at times, sanity it seems.

The reader is taken on the journey of a man facing a moral crisis, culminating in an act which even Kif could not have foreseen.

Despite the interesting premise of this book, it was difficulty for me to move forth with it. The narrative seems “stuck” and so is the plot. Heidl feels one-dimensional, as I looked for depth and change in the character. Interestingly, Heidl is based on a real-life con artist John Freidrich whom the author interviewed early in his career as a journalist. Perhaps this explains the more intimate and relaxed feel of the book in parts where Kif is present.

The interactions between Kif and Heidl, and between Kif and Ray,  Kif’s friend and Heidl’s gopher, are worthy reading even if they feel surreal at times. Kif ultimately becomes a witness to Heidl’s destruction.

Would I recommend it?

Yes, if you are prepared to see beyond the structural difficulties.

My rating:                 3.5 /5

~ FlorenceT

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2018 LitWorldInterviews

@FTThum #BookReview ‘The Amorous Heart’ by Marilyn Yalom

The title was enticing… so I picked up the book.

Title:      The Amorous Heart: An Unconventional History of Love
Author:  Marilyn Yalom
Publishers: Basic Books, Hachette
Format: Hardback
Pages:   277
Genre: Non-fiction, History

 

 

What’s it about?

As the title suggests, this is a book about the history of love, and so much more.

Ever wonder how the heart icon ❤ came to symbolize love? And why is the heart organ linked to love? It wasn’t always so. Of course, this begs the question – what is the meaning of love across the ages?

The earliest depiction of the heart icon is found in 6th century BCE in what is now Libya. Then it was not associated with love but rather a representation of a seed, a sign for contraception. By 6th century AD Persia, it was symbolic of grapes, vines and wine – abundance. It was in the 13th and 14th century that the heart icon came to signify love. How?

This book traces this evolution in Western culture from ancient times – Plato’s metaphysical idealism of “love” to “Ovidian love…embedded in the flesh, with the “heart” a lofty euphemism for the genitals“.

It traces the narratives of love associated with Eros and Cupid. Does carnality and passion undermine love? Is love pure?

Is heart the locus of love?

Yalom’s research took her from medieval times through Catholic and Protestant traditions (where literature, royalty and religion enmeshed) to literary figures in the likes of Shakespeare and Austen to scientific writings as she laid out the trajectory of love and heart.

“The Amorous Heart” tracks amor (sensual love) and caritas (noble love) across the centuries and tells the story of the origin of the word “romance” to the tales of “true love” where “everything is permitted for those who love” taking it beyond the questions of morals and religion.

It gives an interesting account of the age-old discourse between the religious heart versus the amorous heart when Christianity separated sex and sensual love thus delineating the act for procreation and the passion which gave rise to it.

What does history say of the heart’s ability to love one or more persons? Can it? Ought it? How are heart and love tied to marriage and the place of woman? For it wasn’t always that love is  a desired prerequisite to marriage.

It is interesting for me to discover for example, present narratives of “one’s true love as one who brings out the best in us” and the notion of “unconditional love” are not modern concepts. They can be traced to the songs of the troubadours of 12th and 13th century France, Spain and Germany who professed the same.

This impressive book provides a story of the social evolution of the iconography of the heart, of the sexes in relation to our capacity to love; it serves to demonstrate our natural instinct for love and erotic expression.

Would I recommend it?

A fascinating read of a phenomenon we take for granted and for which we believe we are entitled – love.

Highly recommended for curious minds.

My rating:                 4/5

~ FlorenceT

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2018 LitWorldInterviews

#BookReview of Three Strikes, You’re Dead by @Elena_Hartwell

Three Strikes, You're Dead Cover ImageGet Three Strikes, You’re Dead by author Elena Hartwell at Amazon by clicking HERE.

Three Strikes, You’re Dead by Elena Hartwell is the third book in the Eddie Shoes Mystery series. Each book is stand alone. First, the story was good with an ending you probably won’t see coming unless you really pick up on the clues.

Secondly, I had a challenging time getting past the first couple or three chapters, the reason being this isn’t my usual type of book. The Eddie (Edwina) Shoes series is on the border of Cozy Mystery and Mystery. I normally read things with lots of danger and political or secret spy type intrigue, but I received this book free for an honest review. Thus, I pushed on. And I’m happy I did.

Eddie is a private investigator that is accustomed to being on her own and doing her own thing, until recent events brought her parents into her life. Chava, her mother, is a character all her own, a bit crazy at times, but a nice touch of comedy when needed. Then there is Eduardo, the mob connected father that is very protective of his daughter and always seems to be in the right place at the right time. He’s my favorite character in the book.

The story begins as Chava is driving herself, Eddie, and Eddie’s dog Polar to the Cascade mountains for a short vacation at a spa. A free trip Eddie can’t pass up. But with Eddie it doesn’t take long for trouble to find her. I guess this time she finds it. She goes for a short hike her first day and ends up making a promise to a dying man in the forest that she will find his missing daughter. Then she’s running for her life from a forest fire.

And so, begins the mystery. Who was the man? Where is his daughter? With only a silver crucifix and photo of the daughter shoved in her hand by the dying man to go on how will Eddie solve the case? With the help of her parents, of course.

Don’t get tricked into thinking you know how the story ends by the obvious, that’s why I say this is a border line Cozy Mystery and Mystery book. It’s a comfortable read and a nice growth for characters in a series like this but it adds a bit more challenge than the usual fare.

With this third book it seems you get a better sense of what made up Eddie’s DNA, her ingrained character. She has as touch of the light of her mother with the seriousness of the father, even though only Chava was present in her life as a 16-year-old mother who didn’t know how to raise a daughter.

I give Three Strikes, You’re Dead 4 STARS because of what I saw as a slow intro. I didn’t take away from the rating based on this not being my normal reading genre, I read it for the genre it is. I’ve read all the Cat Who series by Lilian Jackson Braun. That’s the only Cozy I’ve ever been into. but I still get how the genre reads.

Remember to click HERE to visit Amazon and get the book.

And why is Elena such a great writer? Because she received her Ph.D. from the University of Georgia, my Alma Mater, so she was destined to be great.

Visit ElenaHartwell.com to discover more about her, her other books, and all THOSE ANIMALS!

#BookReview of Blackbeard: The Birth of America by @Sammarquisbooks

Blackbeard cover imagefive gold stars imageGet Blackbeard: The Birth of America by best selling author Samuel Marquis at Amazon by clicking here.

You ever watch a historical movie and wonder about those conversations between historical figures? We’ve heard of the events but there really isn’t much about what people say to each other, but without those creative licenses the screenwriters take it would be a lot like being back in high school history class. Blackbeard: The Birth of America by Samuel Marquis is one of those historical adventures that teaches us by linking events with realistic dialogue and everyday events in between.

Ever since Blackbeard became a “pirate” there have been stories about him and most of them quite gruesome but in Marquis’ latest novel we get the truth. Being the direct descendent of a pirate, Marquis has the interest in the history and research savvy to get to the core of the real story.

I’ve done my own research into Blackbeard, having used him as a minor character in a pirate novel myself and Marquis goes way beyond anything I ever ventured into. Each chapter tells you when and where events are taking place all the way up to the murder of Edward Thache, or Blackbeard as we know him. Thache was an American hero in comparison to the men who went after his head at the end. Thache cared about America and the future of the Western Hemisphere while his adversary only cared about himself and England.

Engrossing, eye opening, and engaging, Blackbeard: The Birth of America is a must for adventure lovers, history lovers, and um lovers of tall dark haired men?

5 STARS, but from the award winning author Samuel Marquis what else do you expect?

Visit SamuelMarquisBooks.com for book availability through other vendors. And MAKE SURE to read the very ENTERTAINING About Samuel page. Here I thought I knew everything but “The Spider”? Who knew?

Daughters of Bad Men by @LauraOles. A strong female PI without the love story.

Daughters of Bad Men cover image.What do you get when you combine an ex con-artist, a big man in Hawaiian shirts and a fried food loving bulldog? A dang good story.

Daughters of Bad Men is what I am hoping is the first in an ongoing series with a strong female lead Private Investigator, and get this, there is no man having to bail her out of situations or being all lovey dovey to her. Jamie Rush is legit PI with some great supporting characters, a comic relief but protective best friend (Cookie) and the best possible breed of dog you could ever have, the English Bulldog named Deuce. (My alma mater is the Bulldogs.)

In this novel Jamie is asked by her estranged con-artist half brother to find his daughter, who has gone missing. Jamie hesitates because there is a huge trust issue but since it involves the niece she once loved like her own she caves and starts the search. Her investigation leads her to shady side of Port Arlene, TX, a nice little Gulf Coast winter haven for the snowbirds of the north based on Port Aransas, TX, which is across the Corpus Christi Bay from the city of Corpus Christi.

We meet Erin, the high class but young bookie who likes to treat her silver and blue haired snow bird clients well and like family and Marissa the daughter of the local crime boss. I hope to see a lot of both in books to come. Erin has something to prove by going her own way and making her business venture work and Marissa is already a force to be reckoned with. I seriously want to see Cookie and Marissa together, which would be an interesting development considering the history between the families. Read the book to find out what I mean.

This book succeeds in what I believe it intended to, a great story AND giving a comprehensive background of all the major players in the Port Arlene universe. You close the back cover knowing exactly who Jamie is, the role Cookie plays and who the various elements to watch out for in town. Deuce, the bulldog, is as great and needed addition to the family by giving comic relief and showing another side of Jamie instead of the tougher PI side.

I give this a 4.5 out of 5 only because it took me a couple of chapters or so to get into the story. So you guys keep reading and you will really enjoy the world building Laura creates.

I definitely want to review future Jamie Rush stories.

Get DAUGHTERS OF BAD MEN at Amazon by clicking the “BUY ON AMAZON” link in the Amazon Book Cover Image below.

 

Make sure to connect with Laura Oles through her website https://lauraoles.com/ and on Twitter at @lauraoles

Laura Oles PhotoABOUT​ ​THE​ ​AUTHOR​ ​–​ Laura Oles is a photo industry journalist who spent twenty years covering tech and trends before turning to crime fiction.
She has published over 200 articles in retail and consumer magazines and
has served as a columnist for Digital Camera Magazine, Memory Makers Magazine, Picture Business, PhotoInduced, Cafe Mom) and others. Her book, “Digital Photography for Busy Women,” was named a photography category finalist in USA Book News.com’s ‘Best Books’ awards.
Laura’s short stories have appeared in several anthologies, including
Murder​ ​on​ ​Wheels,​ which won the Silver Falchion Award in 2016. Her debut mystery, Daughters​ ​of​ ​Bad​ ​Men​, was a Claymore Award Finalist. She is also a Writers’ League of Texas Award Finalist. Laura is a member of Austin Mystery Writers, Sisters in Crime and Writers’ League of Texas.
Laura lives on the edge of the Texas Hill Country with her husband, daughter and twin sons. When she isn’t writing or working, you’ll find her serving as the family Uber driver or at her kids’ sporting events.
After several years of watching soccer, she still can’t tell when a player is off sides. She spends too much money in bookstores. Visit her online at https://lauraoles.com.

@FTThum #BookReview ‘The Soul’s Expression’ by Amy Alston

Historical romance is a guilty pleasure of mine… so when I was offered this book for an honest review, how could I refuse…? And in time for Valentine’s Day 🙂

Title:      The Soul’s Expression
Author:  Amy Alston
Publishers: Kindle Unlimited
Format: ebook
Pages:   NA
Genre: Fiction, Historical Romance

 

What’s it about?

The Soul’s Expression is set in the late Victorian era.

Katherine Forrester was coerced into a marriage by her parents, and due to her fears, her marriage has not been consummated.

Her patient husband, after nearly a year of marriage is not so patient anymore.  Her mother-in-law pressures her into seeing a psychiatrist for her “troubles” and Katherine suspects she will be diagnosed with hysteria and locked up.

In a bid to protect herself, she  decides to cooperate fully with her psychiatrist, and unwittingly embarks on a journey of self-discovery and sexual awakening.

Then she encounters a situation that she has not ever anticipated. With her life in danger, who will she turn to?

How will this end for a woman with no financial means, nor power or legal status to defend herself?

Will love indeed conquer all?

Would I recommend it?

Yes, for historical romance readers and those sufficiently curios to venture to this genre. It is a quick and pleasant read.

My rating:                 3 /5

~ FlorenceT

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2018 LitWorldInterviews

@FTThum #BookReview ‘Insight: The Power of Self-Awareness in a Self-Deluded World’ by Tasha Eurich

I have a particular interest in self-awareness, so reading this book is for pleasure and professional purpose.

Title:      Insight: The Power of Self-Awareness in a Self-Deluded World
Author: Tasha Eurich
Publishers: Macmillan
Format: Paperback
Pages:   357
Genre: Non-fiction, Psychology, Self-help

 

What’s it about?

Author, Tasha Eurich, begins with a lament on  the self-delusion of today’s people, identifying blindspots to how well we know ourselves.

An organizational psychologist by profession, Eurich claims self-awareness is THE meta-skill of the 21st century for success. In a world of operating in the shallows and privileging opinions of the external world, self-awareness separates the achievers and mediocrity.  She referred to studies which showed self-awareness to be lacking despite claims by many leaders to the contrary. The “cult of self”, Eurich states, prevents us from approaching with humility and self-acceptance to truly seeing ourselves.

Insight expounds what insight is, referring to internal self-awareness and external self-awareness, and strategies to survive in a unaware world. Eurich differentiates insight from introspection, stating that introspection does not a self-aware person make. “Thinking isn’t knowing” as a heading to one chapter says.

Being self-aware, or having insight of ourselves, helps us make better decisions in aspects of our lives.

Insight puts forth that no one will ever be entirely self-aware. It is an ongoing process and one which  requires us to let go of the search for absolute truths.

This book feels like a self-help book and yet at times, disguising itself as a theoretical text, or vice-versa. On occasions, the flow is interrupted by anecdotes from Eurich’s professional life.

Would I recommend it?

Yes. It is an interesting read on how we delude ourselves, in our personal and professional lives.

For those who want to better engage and relate with others say, within their organizations, this is a worthwhile read.

 

My rating:                 3.5 /5

~ FlorenceT

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2018 LitWorldInterviews

Review of ‘Wise Before Their Time’ by Ann Richardson & Dietmar Bolle

‘Wise Before Their Time’ by Ann Richardson and Dietmar Bolle was first published in 1992 and focuses on the everyday lives of people suffering with HIV/AIDS.  Victims talk about how they found out about their disease, their thoughts and feelings at the time of diagnosis, and the effect the HIV diagnosis had on their immediate families.   You can check it out by clicking the worldwide link here:  http://bookShow.me/B0762QGY83  

Reading it over 25 years later it’s plain to see how ignorant the public were at that time regarding not only HIV/AIDS, but also how victims of the disease were treated.  There are heartbreaking stories of people losing their livelihoods once they admit they are HIV positive.  However, the book is not all doom and gloom – there are many inspirational stories here from sufferers who feel very well and enjoy living life to the full.

Of course these days, treatment options have increased the lifespan for the majority of HIV sufferers, and being HIV positive is not necessarily the death sentence it once was.  AIDS victims were always in the news back in 1992, but a quarter of a century later it’s hardly mentioned at all. 

Recommended for those who would like to delve a little bit into the early days of HIV/AIDS. 

Ann Richardson writes about different subjects that interest her.  You can check out the rest of Ann’s books by clicking the link below to her Amazon author page:

 https://www.amazon.com/Ann-Richardson/e/B001KCPSC2/

Contemporary poetry I commend to you

I have been reading poetry lately, not the Whitman, Cummings or Oliver but of contemporary poets, many of whom shared their creations first on social media before making it to traditional publication.

Who hasn’t heard of New York Times bestselling author, Rupi Kaur with Milk and Honey (2014),  her debut collection of poetry and prose collection of poems, and the recent The Sun and Her Flowers (2017).  Both books address the ebb and flow of life – triumph and loss, joy and hurt, trauma and healing – in essence tracing the universality of the human condition.

Rupi Kaur, Milk and Honey

Then there is the works of Lang Laev, born to Cambodian parents in a refugee camp in Thailand and raised in Sydney. She is the author of 5 collections of poems and prose, the most successful being Lullabies (2014) and Love and Misadventure (2013).  Her other collections include Memories (2015), The Universe of Us (2016) with Sea of Strangers due 9 Jan 2018.  As you may guessed from the titles of her books, Lang Laev‘s poems traced her journey in family, love and loving again. I thoroughly enjoyed her writing – her quirky sense and approach to everyday happenings.

Lang Laev, Memories

Incidentally, Lang Laev now lives in New Zealand with her partner, Michael Faudet, also a poet. I discovered Michael’s work Bitter Sweet Love (2016) separate from Lang and it was a fascinating realisation that they are partners-in-crime 🙂  Michael Faudet‘s poems and prose are confronting and verge on the sensual and erotic.  After all he does have a curated erotic Tumblr. On the personal front, Michael Faudet is a mystery in that while he is everywhere on social media, little is known of this Kiwi poet and artist. His other works include Dirty Pretty Things (2014) and Smoke and Mirrors (2017) which is on my wishlist.

Michael Faudet, Bitter Sweet Love

Michel Faber is another poet which I stumbled across in a Sydney book store, his book Undying: A Love Story (2016) that is. Award winning author of 9 other books, this is Michel Faber’s first poem collection written while accompanying his wife through her journey from diagnosis to her passing from cancer. Heart wrenching and entirely beautiful, they chronicle love and despair, anger and sorrow.

Michel Faber, Undying: A Love Story

Finally, an insightful gift Neon Soul (2017) by Alexandra Elle.  The author writes with a rebel spirit, her poems speaking of healing  and positive affirmations, instead of pain which fueled much of contemporary poems.

Alexandra Elle, Neon Soul

There you are, five poets worth checking out. especially  if you are looking for something different and/or accessible.

Enjoy!

~ FlorenceT

© 2018 LitWorldInterviews

@FTThum #BookReview ‘Awaken A New Myth’ by Karen La Puma

I was provided a complimentary copy of this soon-to-be published book in exchange for an honest review.

Title:          Awaken A New Myth: Goddess Warrior on the Hero’s Journey
Author:        Karen La Puma
To be published:     Soul Source (10 Jan 2018)
Format:          Paperback
Pages:             204
Genre:           Non-Fiction – Spiritual

 

 

What’s it about?

“Awaken a New Myth” is the first of 10 spiritual books (A Toolkit of Awakening Series) Karen La Puma has written after nearly 3 decades as an astrologer, hypnotherapist, reiki master and spiritual counsellor.

Weaving the work of Carl Jung, particularly of the Collective Unconscious and archetypes, and Joseph Campbell, in his mythological exploration of the hero’s journey, Karen La Puma proposes a new way of being.

“Awaken a New Myth” entreats readers to discover our light, to have courage to take this journey of discovery. It is premised on our belonging together as a greater Whole. The book is divided into 4 parts (Overviewing the Journey, Answering the Call, Appreciating the Positive and Discovering Purposeful Living) which mirrors the 12 stages of Joseph Campbell’s mythic structure of the Hero’s journey, the journey though taken embodied as the Warrior Goddess.

The abstract language La Puma used can be inaccessible to readers new to the spiritual path, predominantly undefined terms except for the Glossary towards the end.

The use of italicized words and capitalized abstract nouns (eg. Archetypes, Source, Essence, True Nature, Love, Divine, Being) are distracting and confusing, as I attempted to fully grasp their meaning as La Puma intended them. Perhaps it is La Puma’s intention to leave her message abstract and open to her readers’ subjective interpretation?

Awaken a New Myth is a book of ideas, rather than a theoretical exposition. It is a book with heart, and to engage the mind, greater depth is required. Nevertheless, La Puma puts forth her model of the “Goddess Warrior Magnetically Creating the Hero’s Journey” as the “answer for these quickening times, because we now have the ability, the map, and the keys to awaken and co-create a better world”.

Despite the language perhaps more suited to those already on spiritual and mythical paths, the message is a call to live authentically with a willingness to step up to our best self.

As a self-help book, Awaken a New Myth poses many reflective questions to guide readers on the Warrior Goddess’ Hero Journey which readers dedicated to the practice will find insightful answers, and for whom this resonates, a new way of being.

 

My rating:                  2.5/5

~ FlorenceT

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2018 LitWorldInterviews

Happy New Year!

All of us here at LWI wish you a prosperous and productive year ahead filled with lots of happy writing and reading of new and wonderful things.

 

HNYLWI

@FTTHUM #BOOKREVIEW ‘HOMO DEUS’ BY YUVAL NOAH HARARI

The sub-title “A Brief History of Tomorrow” caught my attention, and as my daughter said, “of course! You are a nerd”.  🙂

Title:          Homo Deus:  Brief History of Tomorrow
Author:        Yuval Noah Harari
Publishers:     Vintage Arrow (3 April 2017)
Format:          Paperback
Pages:             400 pages
Genre:           Non-Fiction – Literary

What’s it about?

What is the meaning of life?

What is the purpose of life?

What compels human evolution?

What motivates human society?

What is the future of humankind?

Yuval Noah Harari attempts to answer these questions and provides, as indicated in the sub-title, a possible future based on human history. It is a book about an apocalyptic future in which technology plays a major role.

Harari is a history professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, whose widely-acclaimed 2014 book “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” plotted the history of human activity. “Homo Deus” (literal translation to Latin, man-god) is thus a sequel, if you like, to “Sapiens” in charting what the future will hold.

Harari is quick to qualify his hypotheses, that should this book enlightens and thus changes the future away from the trajectory which he predicts then he has done his job. Ominous, doesn’t it?

It is Harari’s proposition that for this century, humans’ search for meaning will be directed at playing God – to create new life forms and as intelligent designers of our own Utopia – that is to achieve bliss, immortality and divinity. This is contrasted with historical human activity geared towards merely meeting our basic needs of overcoming sickness, hunger and war.

“The entire contract [between humans and modernity] can be summarised in a single phrase: humans agree to give up meaning in exchange for power.” And for this, there will be a price to pay.

Against the backdrop of rapid technological advancement, Harari suggests we will live in the age of data-ism, in which our faith in data and algorithms will be sacrosanct, as our faith in God was. And with the accelerating rise of technology and machines, long-term future is not imaginable nor predictable. Thus, his initial qualification.

The book does not envisage the end of humanity, rather humanity as we know it.  It perhaps serves as a warning against mindless and unconscious reliance on technology and data, and it begs the question: which would you choose – consciousness or intelligence?

And let me end with this – quoting Harari:

The rise of AI and technology will certainly transform the world, but it does not mandate a single deterministic outcome. All the scenarios outlined in this book should be understood as possibilities rather than prophecies. If you don’t like some of these possibilities you are welcome to think and behave in new ways that will prevent these particular possibilities from materialising.

Would I recommend it?

Yes, especially to readers interested in alternate or different perspectives,  and willing to explore diverse conceptions of human civilisation.

My rating:                  4/5

~ FlorenceT

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2017 LitWorldInterviews

@FTTHUM #BOOKREVIEW ‘BRAVING THE WILDERNESS’ BY BRENE BROWN

I wasn’t sure what I would find – a good reason to read any book 🙂 . And then I cried. Not to worry, you may not as the propensity to break into tears is subjective.

Title:          Braving the Wilderness: The quest for true belonging and the courage to stand alone.
Author:        Brene Brown
Publishers:     Penguin Random House UK (Sept 12, 2017)
Format:          Paperback
Pages:             194
Genre:           Non-Fiction – Spiritual

What’s it about?

You would be certified as having lived under a rock if you have not heard the name “Brene Brown” – a research professor at the University of Houston, Texas and author of numerous bestselling books. Her TED talk “The power of vulnerability” is a must-watch.

“Braving the Wilderness” is Brene Brown’s latest book investigating the landscape of connection and belonging in our human experience. To what or whom do we belong? What is true belonging? Why is connection necessary? The sub-title “The quest for true belonging and the courage to stand alone” gives away the premise of the book – that it is takes courage and we must stand alone to belong.

As with the saying, you cannot truly love others until you truly love yourself, the same applies to true belonging. Brene Brown calls this “belonging so fully to yourself that you’re willing to stand alone”, “a wilderness – an untamed, unpredictable place of solitude and searching”. Supported by immense research data, anecdotal ad personal stories, “Braving the Wilderness” posits that until we brave this wilderness, we cannot arrive at true connection with and belonging to the world.

This is a deceptively simple book to read, using inclusive language that connects and in her own voice, Brene Brown provides a blueprint, practice she calls it, contained in the acronym B.R.A.V.I.N.G. to traverse this wilderness.

This book open doors to greater insights, and a lover of alternate perspectives in particular will love this book.

Speaking her truth and giving readers the space to find theirs, this book is not a self-help book. Rather it is a book encouraging us to think for ourselves, to be ourselves, to embrace the humanity within us, in these times of polarised opinions and dysfunctional connections. It urges its readers to find their own wilderness, though “the price may be high, the reward is great”.

Would I recommend it?

YES.

Though as I said you may not cry, this book is sure to spark a recognition within you, a truth which will cause you to explore the life you live. Approach with curiosity.

My rating:                  4.5/5

~ FlorenceT

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2017 LitWorldInterviews

Weeia on My Mind #bookreview @elleboca

  • Title: Weeia on My Mind
  • Author: Elle Boca
  • Print Length: 307
  • Publisher: Poyeen Publishing
  • Publication Date: July 31, 2016
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Formats:  Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Science Fiction, Fantasy

When we first met Danni in Gypsies, Tramps and Weeia, she was in training at the Marshall Academy. Now she’s graduated and has been spending the last seven months in Paris on her first assignment. Her boss doesn’t like that she’s been assigned to work under him. She’s been living in a rodent-infested apartment until she’s given the opportunity to upgrade. And her first encounter with a new recruit, Sebastien, leaves much to be desired if you ask her.

While training Sebastien, they come across a case where an affluent couple’s necklace and painting were stolen. During their interview with the couple, Danni and Sebastien find that they have a detached attitude toward the theft. Once the items are mysteriously returned, the couple still seems to not care about the whys or whos their possessions were taken.

Aside from all that, Danni reconnects with a former interest and falls head first. He’s what most every girl wants to bring home to Mom and Dad: a bad boy.

I have to say I enjoy the first book in the Weeia Marshals series, Gypsies, Tramps and Weeia, the most. But that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy this one. I did. Weeia on My Mind kept me turning the pages even when I needed to put it aside. I loved the action, the mystery, and romance was a big part of the story as well.

Danni is a character to adore. She’s snarky, witty and fun. She knows her stuff and despite what others think of her, she’s out to prove any haters in her life that she knows her job and that she can do it well. Of course, she has a lot of trouble doing so, but luckily, after an awkward first meet with her new trainee, she found a fellow Weeia who actually doesn’t treat her like she’s weed to destroy.

Weeia on My Mind has just about everything you’d want in a story. Romance, action, intrigue, betrayal…you name it, and it’s there. It has a much darker tone than in the previous book but any fan of urban fantasy is bound to enjoy.

In my opinion, there is no need to read the books in order. But I say if you want to pick up a copy of Elle Boca’s novel, start with Gypsies, Tramps and Weeia, the first in the series. You’ll get to know Danni a little and by the time you read Weeia on My Mind, it’ll be like having a cup of coffee with a friend.

Overall Rate: 4 out of 5 stars

*For more book reviews, click here.*

Biography

Elle Boca

Elle is the author of the Weeia urban fantasy series about superhumans. The Unelmoija series is set in Miami. In the Garden of Weeia, a novella, is set in Portland, Maine, and her newest Marshals Series is set in Paris, France. Growing up the only child of a monkey mother and a rabbit father she learned to keep herself entertained and spend time reading.

Mercer Street #bookreview @johnheldt

  • Title: Mercer Street
  • Author: John A. Heldt
  • Print Length: 431
  • Publication Date: October 21, 2015
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Formats:  Kindle, audiobook
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance

Mercer Street is the second book of John A, Heldt’s American Journey five-part series. Like the rest of the books, it’s not required to be read in order. I started off with the third novel, Class of ’69. I quickly became a fan of Heldt’s writing and couldn’t wait for more. I was glad this one didn’t disappoint.

Now that I’ve read all five, in this second book, I’ve noticed a lot of similarities with the other novels, such as repetition in the dialogue between characters, which made me begin skimming. Although it’s the second book in the series, it’s the fifth one I’ve read, and reading some of the dialogue became tedious. That said, I don’t plan on subtracting any points from the book because I truly enjoyed the story that was weaved together.

Professor Geoffrey Bell and his wife, Jeanette are the only characters that remain in each of the books. I like them, particularly Geoffrey. They aren’t present much, which is a shame but understandable. They are the keepers of a time traveling tunnel built by Bell’s distant relative, Percival Bell. Every so often, they choose people as a guinea pig of sorts to travel to certain parts of the past using this tunnel. The way the return is by use of a magnificent crystal.

In Mercer Street, Susan Peterson travels with her mother, Elizabeth, and daughter, Amanda, to the year 1938, to Princeton, New Jersey. There, the trio gets swept up in love, honor, and heartbreak as they embark on a journey of a lifetime.

As usual, the story line is intriguing and fun to read. Heldt does an amazing job with his research to make this story believable. Of course, with any story messing with events of the past, anything can happen. I’m sure if you had the opportunity to walk into yesteryear, you’d be tempted to make the most of it. You’d want to make new friends with amazing people, even fall in love….after all, the heart wants what the heart wants. And just like any story messing with events of the past, even the smallest change may have major consequences that could impact the current times.

I won’t say whether it did or didn’t in this book. That’s the fun part of turning the pages until you’ve reached the end. Mercer Street is a light, clean read, one that you can’t put down.

Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars

*For more book reviews, click here.*

Biography

John A. Heldt

John A. Heldt is the author of the critically acclaimed Northwest Passage and American Journey series. The former reference librarian and award-winning sportswriter has loved getting subjects and verbs to agree since writing book reports on baseball heroes in grade school. A graduate of the University of Oregon and the University of Iowa, Heldt is an avid fisherman, sports fan, home brewer, and reader of thrillers and historical fiction. When not sending contemporary characters to the not-so-distant past, he weighs in on literature and life at johnheldt.blogspot.com.