Title: The Manuscript 1. The Secret Author: Blanca Miosi ASIN: B0141S2FOA Published: New version 16th August 2015 Pages: 255 Genre: Suspense, thriller
As a writer, a book titled ‘The Manuscript’ will always be intriguing to me, and Blanca Miosi’s book did not disappoint me. From the very beginning you are thrown in at the deep end and have many questions that make you keep reading.
The writer protagonist of the book, Nicholas, is having trouble writing. And right in cue, a strange man gives him a magical manuscript of sorts. It is unclear what the magic is, but Nicholas becomes fascinated by the content of the manuscript to the point that he has to go and pursue the story, no matter at what cost.
The novel flows well, and the changes in point of view narration add layers of complexity to the book, and make us feel closer to the characters, a complex array of people, from all walks of life and different corners of the world. Business corporations, Mafia, Colombia cartels, Nazi concentration camps’ experiments, writers block, love triangles, genetics…all have a part to play in this novel that’s deceptively simple. Fictional situations mix with well-known historical characters and create a compelling narrative that will leave you wanting more.
I’ve read many books and one can’t help but guess what will come next. Believe me, I tried, but the book kept going in unexpected directions.
Well-paced, with a great story, likeable main characters and some fantastic minor ones, a great dose of intrigue (and some magic) it is not surprising it was a best-seller in its Spanish version. I’d be surprised if the English version doesn’t do even better.
Ratings: Realistic Characterization: 3/5 Made Me Think: 4/5 Overall enjoyment: 5/5 Readability: 5/5 Recommended: 5/5 Overall Rating: 5/5
Buy it at: Amazon Format & Pricing: Paperback: Kindle: Free at time of writing the review
Thanks all for reading, thanks to Blanca for her book and you know, if you’ve enjoyed it, like, comment, share and CLICK
Title: If Love Is a Crime: A Christmas Story Author: Mark W. Sasse ASIN: B00QP03GYQ http://mwsasse.com/ Pages: 26 pages Genre: Historical Fiction, Christmas Fiction
Christmas Eve, 1852 promises to be a night that Beatrice will never forget when a winter storm blows a young, runaway slave to her tiny cabin in the woods. What results is a story that is a touching, heartfelt reminder of what Christmas is really all about.
Sasse gives a depth of character to Beatrice that makes you feel like you have known her for a long time. This short story wrapped me in an embrace of comfort and love in just a few pages, while I was cuddled in a cozy quilt on a chilly winter night. I was filled with compassion for the young child, “Emmy,” and so thankful that she was guided to the loving arms of Beatrice, who provided a shelter if ever one was needed. The miracle of Christmas was truly evident that night.
Are you looking for a quick holiday read to put you in the spirit of Christmas? This story will reaffirm your belief that as long as there is love anything can be overcome.
Ratings: Realistic Characterization: 4/5 Made Me Think: 3/5 Overall enjoyment: 3/5 Readability: 4/5 Recommended: 4/5 Overall Rating: 4.0 Buy it at: Amazon Format & Pricing: Kindle: $.99
For Reviews of more Mark Sasse books and his interview here on LWI, click here.
Title: Game On: A Love’s Landscape Story Author: Olley Whitehttp://olleywhite.blogspot.co.uk Format: Kindle Edition Price: £0.00 Free File Size: 468 KB Print Length: 124 pages Genre: Gay, Romance, Fantasy Simultaneous Device usage: Unlimited Publisher: L.Powell Published: 8 Sept 2014 Language: English ASIN: B00NFUONFU Text-to-Speech: Enabled X-Ray: Enabled Word Wise: Not Enabled Sold by:Amazon UKAmazon US
Max thinks he is about to meet Stephanie on a blind date. The two have only ever communicated via an online gaming site. Stephanie turns out to be Stefan, but they enjoy their day out at the Zoo anyway and, as the day goes on, they become the best of friends. As time goes on, both start to get feelings more than of just friendship for each other and, gradually, they fall in love. ‘Game On’ is a book about two men falling in love with each other, but it’s not as easy as just falling in love. No, there are feelings to consider and Max, after all, is straight, having had several girlfriends in the past.
I found this book to be a roller-coaster of a ride. It was rather difficult to get into, but I stuck with it and was somewhat glad I did. Then, it began to sink again and I seriously thought about putting the book down for good, but I persevered and finished it. Being a gay man, I found it hard to relate to the characters. To me, they did not seem real and did not seem to be living the life of a gay person as I know it. Yes, we all live different lives, but having been gay all my life and having many gay friends, I found it hard to relate to most of what was happening to Max and Stefan.
White certainly wrote this love story well but, in the real world as I know it, the time it took for the relationship to develop into something physical, was way too long. There were times when Max and Stefan both knew they wanted to take their relationship further, but White always put obstacles in their way. OK, I suppose that is part of the story, and for Max I can understand this with him coming to terms with the fact that he may be bisexual or gay, but for Stefan, I found the obstacles to be rather silly and raised my eyebrows wondering if such obstacles would really ever exist. Even after meeting each other many times and becoming the best of friends, and Max giving Stefan signs that he wanted to take their relationship further, White choose for Stefan to ignore all the signs which I am sure a gay man would not do.
‘Game On’ is a very easy read but it did not generate any emotions for me. Usually when I read a book I will feel some kind of an emotion such as happiness, sadness, anger, feeling frightened, etc, but ‘Game On’ failed to raise any emotions in me what so ever. Stefan would very much play the clown in the book, but the humour failed to come through the pages and make me laugh or smile. There were parts of the book which reminded me of times when a new boyfriend would introduce me to his straight friends, but it was never as easy as White made it out to be.
If you are looking for a simple straight forward love story with a slight difference, then ‘Game On’ could be the very book to read, but don’t expect to come out of it with the feeling that you must read it again. For me it was not a book that I would talk to friends about because I would not really have an awful lot of interesting things to say about it.
Although the book was not the best of reads, I did like the author’s style of writing. It was simple to follow and the story flowed along nicely. Some of the descriptions were very well written and never, at any stage, did I have to really think about what was really going on in the story. I’m not a huge fan of books where I’m not really certain what is going on, ending up having to reread whole chapters and maybe putting the book down for good, so well done to White for keeping me reading. I’ll certainly read other books written by Olley White, but I won’t be thinking about ‘Game On’ while I am reading them.
Ratings Realistic Characterisation: 2/5 Made Me Think: 2/5 Overall Enjoyment: 2.5/5 Readability: 4/5 Recommended: 2.5/5 Overall Rating: 2.5/5
Title: Louisiana Ghost Story Author: M. A. Harper ISBN-10: 0151011168 ISBN-13: 9780151011162 ASIN: B00CHQBDMO http://www.maharperauthor.com/index.htm Pages: 368 Published: January 10, 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal-ghosts, Contemporary Romance, Mystery, Thriller, Paranormal Romance
Phil, the owner of an upscale restaurant in New Orleans, and his new wife Michelle have recently married blending their kids, her home, and their work together as a brand new family. Only a few months into their marriage, strange appearances by Michelle’s late husband, A. P. Savoie, who was a famous Cajun musician, begin to occur. Phil is haunted by visions of Savoie, which begins to take a toll on his health and their marriage. As the haunting images increase, Phil and Michelle are forced to consult psychics and even a Priest looking for answers to the horrifying occurrences. I could not wait to find out why Savoie was coming to them from beyond the grave.
I found myself immersed into the life of this family in New Orleans, with just the right amount of Cajun spice and ghostly images thrown in. I was drawn to Michelle, as she was still dealing with the loss of her husband, and how it affected her and her children; even though she was newly married to Phil. The dynamics between Phil, Michelle, and the dead Savoie were especially enlightening to the story. It really made me think about the reach and depth of love between two people.
This family had realistic challenges just learning how to become their own family, let alone the paranormal activity that encircled them. The fact that the children all got along together made me want them to find success as a family. I found the step children endearing and loved how Michelle’s son wanted to follow in Phil’s footsteps at the restaurant when his own children did not have an interest.
Unfortunately,this book has several titles. I downloaded the Kindle version called, “Louisiana Ghost Story.” I understand the original title to be, “The Year of Past Things/Ghost in the Bedroom.” Now the book is listed as, “Cajun Spirit (The Jolie Blonde Series: A Louisiana Trilogy Book 3).” Get past the confusion with the title and you will find a great old fashioned Southern ghost story that will keep you guessing from start to finish.
I felt this was a story about the deepness of love shared between a family, and at the same time, about learning how to let go of things that are out of our control. I deeply cared about this family and what was happening to them. It was a joy watching them learn about forgiveness while they moved from the past into the future as a family unit.
I absolutely loved the end of this book. I never saw it coming! On that note, I was also sad to let go of the characters. By the end, I felt like I had lived through this event with them, I was so emotionally involved in the plot.
I totally enjoyed the realistic haunting experience that Phil had. It was not portrayed as a Hollywood version of a horror movie. I was comfortable with that characterization because the story seemed so down to earth and not really fiction at all. As the events unraveled in this ghost tale, I was instantly hooked and drawn in to the intrigue.
If you are a fan of old fashioned ghost stories, this book will enthrall you from beginning to end. Watching a family handle their grief, while learning how to love again was especially poignant and sweet, as they form their own special family unit.
Ratings: Realistic Characterization:4/5 Made Me Think:3/5 Overall enjoyment:5/5 Readability:4/5 Recommended:4/5 Overall Rating:4.5 Buy it at: Amazon Format & Pricing Paperback:“The Year of Past Things,” “Ghost in the Bedroom.” Kindle:$2.99 “Cajun Spirit (The Jolie Blonde Series: A Louisiana Trilogy Book 3)” Find the book ongoodreads
Well, here’s a little secret – I love books 🙂 – all sorts of books and I don’t just mean genres. I revel in their different sizes, the textures of the cover and the paper, the fonts used… such a sensual experience.
So here are five of my illustrated books selected from my bookcase. Enjoy!
Thompson, C (1998) ‘How to live forever’
Colinis the illustrator and writer of this thought provoking book about immortality and ethics. Don’t be misled by its attractive cover – it is not just a ‘children’s book’. Colin has the ability to create mystery within these pages of his book.
Look at the intricacies of the illustrations!
Tan, S (2007) ‘The Arrival’
This is agraphic novelwith no words about the experience of an immigrant. The reader is invited to immerse herself in the richness ofShaun’s illustration, with ‘vintage’ colours, and to make meaning of a man’s search for a new home for his family in a new land.
His illustrations illuminate – so compelling.
Phaidon Press (1994) ‘The Art Book‘
Winner of the Illustrated Book of the Year award in 1994, this book is a collection of renowned paintings over centuries with explanatory notes about the works of art and their creators, such as Basquait, Giacometti, Van Gogh, Da Vinci, Mondrian, Monet, Turner and Warhol.
To quote the editor at Phaidon Press, “[G]reat art can exciting, inspiring and thought provoking, but it can also be confusing…The key to ‘The Art Book’s’ success is its simplicity. It’s an easy way into that world that is exciting and inspiring, and it’s a door that’s open to everyone.” For those interested, have a wander onPhaidon’s site.
Sendak, M (1963) “Where the Wild Things Are“
This classic children’s book is illustrated by the authorMaurice Sendak, and captures of the creativity of being a child. An oldie but a goodie 🙂
Whimsical and adventurous illustration, the book draws our attention to a boy’s mischief and his dealing with the consequences of his actions in a creative way – through his fantasy.
Dahl, R (1978) “The Enormous Crocodile“
This book was first published in 1978. The illustration is byQuentin Blake, who formed a long collaboration with Roald Dahl. Theillustrationis quirky, light, whimsical and most suitable for the story.
I had fun reading this with my children when they were little.
Zahed, R (2014) “The Art of Dreamworks Animation“
A most recent hardcover book celebrating the Dreamworks team and their artistry inanimation. This book is not classified as an illustrated book, but hey, I’m a rebel 🙂 It contains many samples of Dreamworks’ animation from movies such as Shrek, How to Train Your Dragon, Madagascar and Puss in Boots.
A book worth having just to browse the magnificent images.
Well, I hope you explored the links I put in for each of the books.
I am interested to know what your favourite illustrated book is, or one which has a special place in your heart for some special reason… I am always looking to add to my collection 🙂
*A copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review, which follows.
I was instantly transported back into time to August 1945, French Indochina, where Charles Regal Carson, an American soldier with the OSS Deer Team, was tasked to assist Ho Chi Minh and General Vo Nguyen to fight against the Imperialist Japanese in World War II. What ensues is a hauntingly lovely contemporary romance filled with suspense and intrigue that brought me to tears, as I lived through the lives of Charles (Cha Le), Mai, Long, Thuy, and Charles III.
From there, Charles’ (Cha Le’s) story unfolds through the chaotic life of his grandson, Charles Regal Carson III, (Chip) who in the year 2000 left the family oil business to pursue his own ventures in Vietnam. Surrounded by the natural beauty of Vietnam, Chip falls in love with a young woman named Thuy. Their love leads them on a journey of discovery though cultural differences, language barriers, and age old traditions that lead them to face some ultimate truths in their own lives.
This romance spans fifty years through three generations of American men whose lives are interwoven through the women they love, their courage to face reality, and the lifetime friendships they forged. I loved the richness of the characters and the rites of passage into adult-hood that each endured.
The banyan tree plays an integral part in this story. To me the banyan tree represented the hearts of the people of Vietnam. The tree celebrates life by leading you through the lives of Chip, his father, and his grandfather representing the reach of family ties through the generations. I also gained a new insight into the ancient culture of Vietnam where family loyalty at all costs is still represented in modern society.
Sasse’s descriptions of the Vietnamese countryside placed me within the story. I could see the emerald green rice paddies, and I could feel the heat and humidity that is Vietnam. At times, I felt like I could even taste the food and wine, so detailed were the descriptions.
The cultural and societal differences between Vietnam and America were an uncomfortable truth I had to reconcile with myself. Women in many Asian cultures are not valued as much as males are. I was struck by how the death of the only male child in the family was viewed as a total sense of failure for the family. The loss was such a deep scar that it consumed them and left them unable to move forward. I was awed that these feelings and beliefs were so deeply ingrained within the culture of Vietnam and still exist today.
What struck me the most was that even though these cultural differences plagued the characters, their love and honor to each other overcame all obstacles placed before them. I was taught that love and family truly live on through the reach of our ancestors.
Sasse is an expert story teller. He weaves colorful characters that possess great compassion and an emotional complexity that I seldom see in romance novels. I was deeply drawn to these characters.
This book has something to offer everyone. A splash of true historical facts, passionate love, action, and intrigue will take you on a journey you will not easily forget. This story will remain in a soft place within your heart.
Mark Sasse’s Author Interview here on LitWorldInterviews appears Friday, Dec. 5.
If there is such a thing as your “standard novel” and I’m not sure there is, Atonement, Tennessee is definitely not it. Although some aspects of the story might seem familiar to readers (we have a newcomer to a small and seemingly fairly quirky town, a catalogue of slightly odd characters, hidden and dark stories behind perfect surfaces…), others definitely will not. Although we spend most of the time in Ralda’s head (her given name is Esmeralda and that plays quite an important part in the book), we also see things from the point of view of Lilith, her cat, and that allows us to gain more knowledge than Ralda has, but from a peculiar viewpoint that means we are observes and what we see is unfiltered by either reason or prejudice.
Other novel and original aspects are its mixing of the everyday and the magical/paranormal. There are dogs barking, cats sneaking out, moving companies that keep getting delayed, but also strange and eerie mirrors, a cemetery that is part of the property and hides many secrets, attractive but strangely bizarre men, unknown magical birds, and fairly unusual dreams.
Ralda is self-reflective and we not only see things from her point of view (for the most part) but her internal dialogue works as a narrator who accompanies us. But how reliable a narrator is she? The many everyday worries that surround her (will the cat get out of the house? Will she finally get her possessions back? How much will it cost to repair the house?) keep pulling her attention away from the many strange and fantastic things that are also happening. She doubts herself, but she’s shown as dealing well with other people’s problems and being highly effective. When it comes to herself, though, things are more complicated and she does not want to accept that she can be at the centre of unknown powers and events. It is not so much that she’s trying to misguide us; it is that she does not even want to allow herself to think about certain things (like what she might feel for the male characters).
Although something mysterious happens early in the book (that seems connected to one of the objects), this is by no means the main mystery. Why Ralda is there and who she is are at the heart of the book and by the end we might have our suspicions, but like the protagonist, we lack information to come to any conclusions. We have the answer to some of our questions, but can only speculate about others. But this leaves room for the sequel, on which I understand the author has begun work.
The writing style is engaging and accessible, there is enough description to fire the imagination without being overly detailed and doing all the work for the reader, and the chosen point of view offers fascinating psychological insights into the main character.
What did I love about the book? The setting, the fabulously strange house, the cemetery, Lilith, the sheriff (not as onedimensional as everybody thinks), the friendship between the four women, the locket, the bed, the dreams…It reminded me of Edgar Allan Poe but not as dark.
What didn’t I like? That there isn’t a second part to tell me more about the mysteries that are suggested but we don’t get to know enough of.
Who do I recommend it to? If you like spooky tales, old houses, mystery, cats, legends, magic and stories about women I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. Ah, let’s not forget unusual birds and cemeteries…Is there anybody not included?
I encourage the author to bring us part two very soon. We want to know more!
Here the book trailer, in case you want to get in the mood for the story.
Title: Lost Christmas Author:David Logandavidloganwriter.com ASIN: B005W0ARII Published: 27 October 2011 by Quercus Pages: 289 Genre: Young Adult/ Adult Fiction Format:Kindle Edition Price: £2.37 includes VAT & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet File Size: 1898 KB Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0857387359 Language: English Text-to-Speech: Enabled Sold by:Amazon
Welcome to the world of Richard Thornhill, better known as Goose throughout most of the book. Little does Goose know, as he wakes up one Christmas Eve morning, that his whole world is about to change. Going downstairs after hearing some unusual noises, he comes face to face with his parents and his Nan, all of whom are trying to hide something from him. It is not long before the secret is out, and Goose becomes the happiest boy on earth but, shortly afterwards, his whole world comes tumbling down and he meets up with a stranger named Anthony, who is about to take Goose on a long journey which neither of them will ever forget. ‘It’s a Wonderful Life” meets “A Christmas Carol”, Lost Christmas will take you on an incredible journey through the streets of Manchester, England, where the lives of several people are about to become connected in a way no one could have imagined.
Logan writes in such a friendly way, that I never had to turn back any pages to reread anything. I was able to follow the story very easily to the end. At the beginning I thought I was reading a children’s book but, as I got deeper into the story, I realised this was a book aimed more at young adults and families. As I read the story I felt contented and peaceful, always wanting to know what was going to happen next. There were no huge cliff hangers at the end of any of the chapters, but that did not matter because Logan’s style of writing kept me interested, wanting to know more.
The characters were very easy to follow and I admire Logan for including a character with Alzheimer’s in the story. Most of us during our life will encounter a person with Alzheimer’s and it is good to read a book, I consider to be aimed at younger adults, where living with a person with the condition is included.
I was overcome with sadness, humour, and disbelief amongst other emotions while reading the book, but what I really enjoyed about it more than anything else, is that time travel is included in the story, which makes it a part of the science fiction family. When I started reading the book I would never have imagined a book I thought was going to be about a young boy’s search for happiness and looking for answers about why certain events happened one Christmas Eve, would also have an element of time travel in it. I thought that most of the main characters in the book all seemed to be leading their own separate lives, but how very wrong I was. Logan was brilliant in the way he connected up each character in the book, all of whom have a connection with Goose. Very often I would raise my eye-brows and gasp at how another character was connected to the others, which I never saw coming. Goose is not only the centre of the whole story all the way through, but also the centre of the circle of life which connects the main characters.
There is not much I disliked about the book. Some of the minor characters did not have any impact on the story at all and could have been left out, but that did not spoil the enjoyment of the book and its story for me at all. This most certainly is a book to read on the run up to Christmas. Had I read it during the summer, I’m not entirely sure I would have got as much enjoyment out of it.
Although the book is aimed at young adults, I think anybody reading it would have a thoroughly good read. It dips in and out of being a children’s book to an adults’ book, but this means anybody can read it and get involved and follow what is happening in the story. I was so pleased after reading the book to hear that the book has been made into a movie, one I certainly will look forward to seeing.
Ratings Realistic Characterisation: 4/5 Made Me Think: 4/5 Overall Enjoyment: 4/5 Readability: 5/5 Recommended: 4.5/5 Overall Rating: 4.5/5
I am fascinated with strong female characters, real-life or fictitious. So it is no wonder this book caught my attention when it was first published in 2013. Unfortunately with time constraints, it wasn’t until the paperback was released that it found its way into my home. Title: Empress Dowager Cixi: the Concubine who Launched Modern China Author: Jung Chang Publisher: Vintage Books, London (3 July 2014) ISBN-10: 0099532395 ISBN-13: 9780099532392 Website: http://www.jungchang.net/Pages: Paperback, 528 pages Genre: Literary Non-Fiction – History What’s it about? Empress Dowager Cixi was never ‘crowned’ empress. But she was the de facto ruler of China from 1861 to 1908. At the age of 16, Cixi was ‘honoured’ for being selected to be a concubine to the Emperor Xianfeng. At the death of the Emperor, she (then 25 years old) with the official Empress Zhen, “sat behind the throne” of the successor, Cixi’s son, Tongzhi who was then 5 years of age. From that position, literally behind a yellow silk screen, Cixi ruled China. Whilst she has been credited for her efforts bringing China into the modern age, Cixi’s private life remains very much just that – private, partly contributed by the loss of her personal archives during her reign. In contrast, the public life of this formidable woman was subject to a lot conjecture and criticism for she had dared to thwart the traditions of the patriarchal system and perhaps misogynistic culture of the times. And in comparison to the likes of say, Elizabeth I or Josephine Bonarparte or Cleopatra, Cixi’s life has received relatively little attention, and largely demonised. In similar style to her previous bestseller, Wild Swans (1991), Jung Chang has presented the life of Cixi in a matter-of-fact and impassive manner. It would seem there is a concerted effort to be impartial both in language and the events of that era. In this sense, the book allows the readers to come to their own conclusions as to the morality and values of that Chinese era, and in particular, of Cixi, and the different political parties of the time. Factually, there was enough to provide a political context to Cixi’s rule while not inundating the readers with details. In saying this, the simplification of the rich and complex events belie the political and cultural obstacles Cixi must have had to navigate. Note this was a woman who was not ‘educated’ as compared to her male counterparts. Jung’s depiction of Cixi gives a hint of the chameleon – a public persona and a deeply private person, a traditional woman with modern perspectives. It would have been a treat if Jung had canvassed in greater depth the psychological and emotional landscape of this clever woman. I wonder what it was like to live in that era, being within the Imperial Court, and being responsible for China and its progress. A small detail stood out for me – Cixi collaborated/worked closely with Empress Zhen to make the changes required. While astute, decisive, incisive and at times uncompromising, she it would seem did not perceive ‘female competition’. Quite capable of ruthlessness to achieve her ends, Cixi nevertheless sought first to collaborate. Her political astuteness, in maneuvering for powers besetting China, is rather incredible. She was courageous enough to fight and/or retreat. The book highlights the ingenuity, and political and strategic savviness, of Cixi in wrestling and maintaining power for 47 years. As Charles Denby (an American minister to Beijing during her mid-reign) stated:
“At that time, she was universally esteemed by foreigners, and revered by her own people, and was regarded as being one of the greatest characters in history…Under her rule for a quarter of a century China made immense progress.”
This book is worth a read, for it gave great insight to the comings and goings of the intrigue within the Chinese Imperial Court, and the strength and vision of one woman to bring China into the modern age. Recommendation:LWI Rating: Realistic Characterization: 4/5 Made Me Think: 3/5 Overall enjoyment: 3.5/5 Readability: 4/5 Recommended: 3/5 Overall Rating: 3.5/5 Buy it at:
Note: Ms. De Sousa provided me with this book for an honest review and that’s what you will receive here following.
I immediately liked and felt a kinship with Amanda Glenson, and her five year old son, Zachary at the very start of the book. They live in London where she is a legal assistant at a prestigious law firm. Amanda has a chance encounter with the sexy Alex Edwards, a consulting attorney, at work on Monday morning that left me wanting to see more of where their relationship was headed. Without warning on that fated day, Amanda is forced to confront the past she ran away from years before.
Amanda and Zachary travel to exotic Zimbabwe, the home of her birth, all the while clinging to the hope that the ghosts of her past will finally be laid to rest. Unaware of Amanda’s history, Alex accompanies them as they are both tasked in assisting with the land sale of a prominent client for the law firm. I could see right away that Amanda and Alex were drawn to one another, while the mystery behind her previous life unraveled before my eyes.
I was impressed with the delightful descriptions of Zimbabwe that De Sousa liberally scattered throughout her writing. I was visiting a far off land through her eyes. It was as if I could smell the heady fragrance of the Jacaranda blossoms she describes in great detail. Those same details gave me a sense of being part of the story because of the empathy I felt for the characters. Amanda’s family was a nightmare, and to see her battle through to the bitter end was enlightening to me.
Just when I thought I had the story figured out, De Sousa would drag me back into the suspense by introducing more twists to the plot. The title, “Deception,” skillfully blends all of those twists and turns into a story that reveals much about learning to accept love and learning how to trust again. I was genuinely sorry when the story ended. I wanted more.
I enjoyed the portrayal of the characters, which like in many families, had numerous faults to deal with. It was the realization that the deepest deceptions are sometimes caused by family that really hit a sensitive nerve in my heart. Trust is a hard thing to regain after past transgressions and De Sousa handles this message splendidly.
I enjoyed this book and the characters greatly. I am looking forward to a sequel of “Deception” which would recreate the lives of Alex and Amanda in another setting. It would be nice to revisit their relationship under different circumstances.
“Deception” is exciting from the start to the finish. If you enjoy adult romance, mystery, and suspense this book will tug at your heart while reminding you how special true love really is.
Author: Eloise De Sousa
Ratings Realistic Characterization: 4/5 Made Me Think: 3/5 Overall enjoyment: 4/5 Readability: 5/5 Recommended: 4/5 Overall Rating: 4.0
Seumas Gallacher is a writer with a large on-line following. In this book, Mr. Gallacher shares his experiences of self-publishing. From his discovery that this was indeed a possibility, to now having thousands of books sold to his name.
This is not a detailed manual on how to format your book, or how to create you cover. There are plenty of posts, books, etc, that share that type of information. This book offers general advice on the topic, and it is concise and to the point. Moreover, it emphasises the author’s personal experience, that is, of course not fully replicable by anybody else. If you have not read Mr Gallacher’s posts in the various social media, you don’t know how personal his style is. His advice is sound and has to be adapted and transformed by every author. One of the points Mr Gallacher emphasises is the business aspect of writing. Although you might see it as an expression of your inner being or as a need to inform people of something, or as a deep felt vocation, if you plan on making a living out of writing, or trying to, you must approach it professionally as a business, the same you would any other. Of course, your reasons for writing could be others than to make money out of it. In that case you would be well advised to create your own definition of success and not worry too much about rankings or sales, although this book would still provide a useful general guide.
Personally, I found the book clear, easy to follow and a quick read. Mr Seumas’s personal style shines through. I particularly enjoyed the non-internet part of his experience that demonstrates the importance of making connections, knowing the area you work in, and not being shy. Try it. If they say no, you’re no further back that when you started, but if they say yes…the sky could be the limit.
I recommend this book to new authors and also to those who have a number of publications to their name. You might be reassured you’re doing the right things, you might wonder about a change of strategy, and you will enjoy the style of writing and discover plenty about the business. And also a few things about this great and generous author.
Ratings: Realistic Characterization: NA Made Me Think: 5/5 Overall enjoyment: 5/5 Readability: 5/5 Recommended: 5/5 Overall Rating: 5/5
When I read the description of this novel in Net Galley (I obtained a free copy there) the premise sounded interesting. I enjoy mystery, suspense and crime thrillers. For me, the best are a combination of a gripping story and unforgettable characters. With regards to the story, it could be a fascinating and well described setting, or it might take place at an interesting historical moment, or in a peculiar background… And the characters…Real human beings with quirks, conflicts, lives, and voices. A P.I. who gets a job checking a possible case of embezzlement in a huge corporation (that as you can imagine quickly become far more complicated than that) and who also teaches Philosophy sounded promising on both counts.
Apart from all that, Dead Drop (the meaning of the name is explained in the novel) has elements also of the spy thriller. Jack Salvo, the detective, is in quite a few ways, your typical P.I. The novel is written in the first person and therefore we don’t get much on the way of other people’s point of view as to how Jack comes across to others. He seems popular with the women (although in some cases it is unclear if that might not be due to the attempts of the female characters at getting inside information from him), he knows about everything, he is well conversant with L.A. (I’ve never been there but to my untrained eye, the details seemed convincing), he is self-assured…and he teaches Philosophy and seems to enjoy it. But other than that little detail about him (and a very late brief discussion about his life with one of the female characters who becomes his love interest, Lily) I didn’t get the sense that I learned very much about the character or that he was much more than a collection of all his characteristics (that were neither offensive not particularly endearing, other than his interest in his teaching).
The plot is well developed and combines research, intrigue, action and mystery. Nobody is who they seem to be, and the story takes Jack from the corporate world, through veterans of the French foreign legion (and Philosophy experts to boot), bit actresses, luxury car garages, good old fashioned surveillance, breaking and entering, Swiss bank accounts, murder and bluff and double bluff.
The style of writing is clean, direct, easy to read, and fast-paced and fits in with the story. In summary I enjoyed the book but thought it could gain by developing the main character a bit more. Some of his reactions towards the end of the novel and his love story seem a bit sudden and not completely in keeping with the persona developed throughout the rest. As this is the first of a series of novels it might well be that the background will come more into play in later novels and it might allow the character to grow and become more multidimensional.
A solid story, a good and interesting read, just a notch below the unmissable category.
Realistic Characterization: 3.5/5
Made Me Think: 4/5
Overall enjoyment: 4.5/5
Overall Rating: 4/5
Buy it at: Amazon (currently only available as e-book)
Published: 9th October 2014 (Mantle) In paper 7th October 2014 (Knopf)
Genre: Historical Fiction
There is something very attractive about settling down to read the story of a family and getting to know them for a lengthy period of time, as if they were family friends. In the case of Last Hundred Years Trilogy, of which Some Luck is the first novel, a hundred years, no less.
In an era when people don’t seem to have time for anything and everything must be shorter and faster today than it was yesterday, the promise of space and time to see characters and situations develop feels like a welcome luxury.
Jane Smiley’s new novel that starts with the kernel of a young family living in an Iowan farm, has been described as an epic and it is, not only for its large cast of characters (no big figures, no huge names, just people like you and me), but for its breadth, spread and ambition. Some Luck follows several generations of the same family (and they keep coming) through their lives and that of their country and the world. The novel is marvellously democratic, with no hierarchy of voices or experiences, and the same space is given to a toddler trying to understand the world around him and the functioning of his own body than to somebody drawing their last breath.
Readers get to know the many characters from inside, in a non-judgemental way, as you accompany them through their lives in their own heads, and you might like them and agree with them more or less, but you come to accept them as they are.
The book reminded me of a recent and wonderful movie Boyhood although the novel’s reach is greater but the feeling of peace and reflexivity you experience is similar.
The author’s ability to use brief but descriptive language, and combine it with extremely subjective, stream-of-consciousness passages, and quasi poetic everyday wisdom (and philosophy) creates a beautifully textured patchwork of a novel. If maybe the dimensions of the canvas are smaller, this could be the War and Peace of this generation.
This is a novel that moves at a sedate and calm pace, made of little moments and small steps; in summary, a novel about the things that really make life what it is. Extraordinary in its everydayness. I hope to meet the family (that has become mine as well) again very soon.
Title: Short Shorts Author:Cyril L.C. Bussiere ASIN: B00N534CCG Published: 28 August 2014 by Cyril L.C. Bussiere Pages: 28 Genre: Short Adult Stories Format: Kindle Edition Price: £0.77 includes VAT & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whisperent File Size: 1076 KB Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited Sold by:Amazon Media Language: English Text-to-Speech: Enabled
What the book is about: A collection of nine short stories covering subjects from cybernetic love, to ghosts and vampires to broken hearts and memories. ‘Short Shorts’ is thought-provoking and will make you think about what is really happening in the stories it contains.
Book Highlights: Bussiere has such a way with words that they make you feel you are actually in the story witnessing what is going on. I felt I was sat in a huge auditorium watching each story unfold in front of me as I read each one. His words carry the reader along smoothly and never once did I have to stop and re-read anything because of any uncertainly of what was going on. I’ve read the book several times and, each time, I come away with more thoughts of just what is happening in each story. Some of the stories contain a twist I was never expecting, which is a sign of a great author.
Challenges of the book: I had no challenges reading this book or relating to any of the new characters introduced in each story. I felt I knew them from the first few lines in, almost as if I had been reading about them for days, rather than the few minutes it took me to read each story. Some may feel they want to know more about each character and wish the stories had gone on longer but, for me, I was able to imagine what may have happened to each character after finishing each story. Each of the stories remained on my mind many days after reading the book.
What do you get from it: Love, pain, hurt, emotions, sadness, mystery, loneliness and, most of all, thoughts of what may have happened before and after each story. I never thought a real mixture of emotions could be found in an entire book containing so few pages.
What I would have changed if anything: I would have loved some of the stories to have gone on a little longer but, I guess, Bussiere could not have then called the book ‘Short Shorts’. I fell in love with some of the characters created by Bussiere and would dearly love to read more about them, especially the ones featured in the sadder of the stories. I came away hoping they would eventually find some happiness in life. Bussiere could certainly, and should consider, writing whole novels containing some of the characters from the stories in this book.
Who Would I recommend this book to?: Anybody who is a real lover of short stories and who likes a wide variation in the stories contained in a book. It would also appeal to anybody who likes to think more about the characters and their stories, after finishing reading a book. This is the perfect read for anybody with a busy lifestyle who has little, if any, time for sitting down to read a good book.
Title: The Recluse Storyteller Author: Mark W. Sasse ISBN: 1492241253 ISBN13: 9781492241256 ASIN: B00FOBQ464 Published: October 6, 2013 Kindle Edition Pages: 239 Genre: fiction, suspense, drama
When I first met Margaret Pritcher, the recluse storyteller, I was not sure what to think. At first I thought she was a psychic, or even mentally challenged, because she somehow spiritually channeled deeply buried secrets from some of the apartment dwellers in her building by weaving their stories into her own life. I was intrigued by her storytelling methods.
Margaret is an outsider in the world she lives in. A typical recluse, she worked at an online job to support herself. She only went outside her apartment at night, when she thought she would not run into people she knew. Her strangeness works for her benefit though, and I felt like I wanted to protect her because of the way she was portrayed.
Not far into the book, I realized that she could not control when or where these stories came from. They seemed to flow from her very soul, almost as if she was possessed. Each of the stories Margaret told seemed to intertwine within each person’s own personal story. With the reciting of each narrative, Margaret became weaker and weaker as her own life unraveled from her dedication to her story telling. Through the telling of these stories, Margaret and her friends find the wisdom to face their own demons and to accept themselves for the people they had become in this life.
From “Red Hat,” Mr. Cheevers, Mrs. Johnson and her twins Pam and Sam, to the Reverend Davies, and Janice, Margaret’s only living relative, I felt myself drawn into the intertwining threads of their lives and the moments that seemed to define each of them. The story of the Vietnam Veteran gave me a glimpse into a world torn with war, split second decision making, and remorse at the hand of fate. I was deeply moved by the journey each character took in the story telling.
Mark Sasse writes with an unusual narrative, almost akin to stream of consciousness writing, which pairs nicely with Margaret’s personality. At first, I felt like the book was hard to follow. Nevertheless, I found the characters to be intriguing, and the more I read the more I began to understand how the writing style was all about Margaret and the telling of her stories.
I felt the book emphasized how much we all share together in the realm of humanity. Just as the lives of the characters in this book intertwined, so do our lives with many other people. In addition, I felt that each character seemed to have a lesson to learn. I could see that our lives are just that, a series of events which teach us something about ourselves we did not know to begin with.
I immensely enjoyed this book and the style that it was written in. Mark Sasse’s attention to detail made Margaret and the cast of characters realistic in my eyes.I would recommend this book to anyone who is searching for the answers and meaning in everyday life.
Ratings: Realistic Characterization: 5/5 Made Me Think: 4/5 Overall enjoyment: 5/5 Readability: 4/5 Recommended: 4/5 Overall Rating: 4.5
Buy it at: Amazon Format & Pricing: Paperback:$9.89 New Kindle:Free
Title: The Scent of Lilacs (The Heart of Hollyhill #1) Author: Ann H. Gabhart ISBN: 978-0800730802 ASIN: B007TV0OMM Published: May 1st 2005 by Revell (first published January 1st 2005) Pages: 352 Genre: Christian/Historical Fiction, Women’s fiction
What the book is about: At 13 years old, Jocie Brooke learns the true meaning of faith and the love of family when her sister Tabitha, suddenly returns after fleeing their home in Hollyhill, Kentucky with their mother many years ago. It is 1964, and Jocie’s divorced father, preacher David Brooke, and his Great Aunt Love, strive to care for Jocie with kindness and affection. Aunt Love struggles to keep her senility in check, as the family struggles with a past that threatens to engulf them. All is not what it seems in this quiet small town, as deep secrets surface to lead the family on a quest that leads them to many unforeseen truths.
Book Highlights: As the secrets of the past come to light, it was a joy for me to watch the inner workings of a faith based family deal with the realities of their past choices, good and bad. All the characters were realistic and believable in the way they dealt with their emotions while their lives unraveled around them. It was easy to empathize with the trials the family endured through the years. I found myself drawn to the characters and the story. I did not want the book to end. I was ecstatic to learn that this book is part of a series by Ann Gabhart.
Challenges of the book: I had no challenges with the characters within the story. The Christian elements in the book were tasteful and authentic. Ann Gabhart channels her own knowledge of small town life centered on a strong Christian church element making the characters realistic and credible. These characters could be your neighbors.
What do you get from it: Love, family, and faith combined can conquer the troubles of the world.
What I would change if anything: Ann Gabhart is a true story teller. Her work stands alone and needs no changes.
Who would I recommend this book to? I would recommend this book to all women, young and old. There is knowledge about life, love, and forgiveness which should be passed on to all generations so that others gain an insight on how to deal with the tribulations that life sometimes holds for all of us.
Ratings: Realistic Characterization: 5/5 Made Me Think: 4/5 Overall enjoyment: 5/5 Readability: 5/5 Recommended: 5/5 Overall Rating: 4.5
Buy it at: Amazon Format & Pricing: Paperback:$12.98 New Kindle:Free
One thing to tell you about me and the rest of us here at LitWorldInterviews (LWI) is we are going to be honest, even about our own family and by family that includes the LWI Team members. Why, because if we’re not then we might as well not even be doing this at all.
I will say here and now that a Historical Adventure Romance was not exactly on my radar, even though I have actually written Romance in the past year and am working on revisions and all of that as I get feedback. But still, I’m a guy, right? Romance? And then the cover? I loved the cover but it just looked so . . . so . . . ROMANCE!
Yeah, my bad.
I’m an idiot. I admit it. Think about it. I have written Adventure novels. I have written Romance novels. I have written novels with Historical elements in them, I am a certified History teacher after all. So you would have thought this would have been something I would have read with no problem. Two Pirate Captains meet and the adventure begins and thoughts and worlds begin to be questioned.
I mean you have Pirates, Adventure and a lot more, why would I not want to read it?
Yeah, my stereotype manly man side peeked out and tried to show itself.
I started reading it and right from the start it wasn’t what I had expected. The more I read the more I liked it. Being a former History teacher I definitely enjoyed the history aspects, which were not in your face. They were there for no other reason than a backdrop to enhance the story. That is one thing I appreciated about the novel. Some people make some historical thing THE reason for the book. Not in this one. I’m not saying a historical thing cannot be the point of a book, but it can be over done.
I also appreciated that Bartlett handled the romance scenes with what I think was an eye to all readers. In my own novels, yes novels, the Romance I am doing is a Trilogy, I am concerned about what I call the ‘scenes’, if you know what I mean. Bartlett handled these with taste and oddly, as I think about it, she lets your imagination do a lot of the work.
Was the book perfect?
There were some passages between face to face scenes that I could have seen just a little shorter as I got farther into the book. As I said in my Amazon Review, I think this might be partly because toward the end of the book I was ready for more of the action and seeing what was going to happen next.
I at first wondered about the character displayed by Ivory Shepard and her cousins. Ivory “Razor” Shepard is the pirate captain of a ship that is attacked and sunk. The aftermath is where we enter the story. Her cousins are also women pirates. But the truth is they could very well be based on actual women pirates that operated in the Caribbean, one of which particularly comes to mind.
Even if there was no historical basis for a female pirate, Bartlett does handle how Ivory becomes captain well. I do wonder about the final action that makes her captaincy possible, but it is a believable and not fantastical idea. It is just something I might have wanted to see handled in a slightly different way, yet I do understand why it happened the way it did.
What did I really like?
I enjoyed the character of Maddox “Blacksnake” Carbonale a lot. He is a slightly typical Romantic Hero lead type, but with a few extra layers of development added. I’m not one for the typical. Bartlett made Carbonale believable in many ways and as the story progresses you understand more and more.
The supporting cast, which in reality is more than that, was developed well and was given enough attention for you to care about them. There were no unnecessary characters thrown in. There are a few surprises along the way that I enjoyed, and one that I caught onto just in time before a reveal. Bartlett definitely can tell a story and give you just enough to tell you all you need to know if you pay attention.
So what’s the score?
I gave The Blue Diamond: The Razor’s Edge 5 out of 5 stars at Amazon. I give it the same here. Why? I didn’t find the scenes overdone or unnecessary. The plot was excellent. The story was great. And it kept me wanting to read. I also liked the balance of the three genre elements. Historical enough to be scenery, Adventure enough to keep me wanting more, and Romance enough to make it believable and real. And one other big reason for a 5-I want to read the next book in the series. And isn’t that a sign of a successful piece of writing?
Since this is a ‘family’ member I reviewed and somewhat said there were some improvement areas, I do hope to see you again at LWI. If not, Bartlett knows where she buried the body.
Deception is a story about facing your past and learning to trust.
Amanda Glenson has a nice life working in a law firm in London while raising her 5 year old son Zachary. Unfortunately for her, a past that sent her fleeing from her home, her country on another continent, has finally caught up with her. There is no way around facing it; she must return home to Zimbabwe.
Enter Alex Edwards a lawyer brought in specifically to handle a situation in Zimbabwe for the law firm Amanda works for. Sparks fly between the two, only for Alex to discover he will be taken along for the ride into Amanda’s past, a coincidence that fate brings about. Two people with tainted pasts join together in a quest to find truth.
Highlights of the Book
236 pages of every kind of emotion keeps you reading. The suspense makes you want to read it in one sitting. Who did what? How are Amanda and Alex connected? What is the Deception? And how does little Zachary play a role in the story?
De Sousa brings a realistic feel to the story and her imagery is perfect. She writes what she knows–London and Africa. Authentic in her knowledge of her environment, she carries you along on a tour of her image memories. This in part is what makes it a good, easy flowing read.
The deception title is all through the book in so many ways you have to keep guessing what is the deception. You won’t guess but you can try.
Romance, desire, heat, and all done well with taste and great imagery that gives you just enough to let you become part of the story, but not so much to drive you away from it. Very well done, classy.
Challenges of the Book
There are several interesting characters that could have greater depths in personality and add to the story. There were some opportunities for the male protagonist, Alex, to have done more on several levels. That being said some of the emotional aspects of the character were perfect.
What do you get from it?
Trust is a hard thing to do.
What would I change if anything?
I would have used Alex a little more and turned up either a bit more of the action or perhaps liked to have seen a little more intense dialogue exchanges to increase the tension that made the insides twist wanting more.
Who would I recommend this book to?
The book is classified as a Adult Crime Romance, but to me, it could also be classified as Suspense Drama. There are Romance elements in the book but are not driving points of the story. When Romance is part of the story, it is done very well.
Ratings: Realistic Characterization: 5/5 Made Me Think: 3/5 Overall enjoyment: 3/5 Readability: 4/5 Recommended: 4/5 Ovearall Rating: 3.8
Buy it at: Amazon Format & Pricing: Paperback: 8.41 USD Kindle: .99 USD Alternate Purchsing:
Title: The Convenience of Lies Author: Kimberly Castillo ISBN-13: 978-9527114476 ISBN-10: 9527114470 Website: http://www.kacastillo.blogspot.com/ Pages: 242 Genre: Young Adult (YA) Romance/Suspense/Drama
It’s 2013 and Mackenzie begins a letter to her old friend Kira. It’s 10 years after the events that changed their lives. The book then begins with new girl in town, Mackenzie and local girl, Kira as best friends forever, and then there is Ramon, a crush and ex-boyfriend in a small California town. The three send us on a trip of real teen life and feelings mixed with some unexpected surprises along the way with a group of vandals and thieves thrown in who make their attacks personal. Who has it in for these three friends? This story is told in an authentic teenage voice as Mackenzie Fairbanks recalls that particular summer before her senior year in high school.
The book flows well taking the reader from one chapter to the next. It is an absorbing read, well written not only in story but in structure and grammar as well. The author conveys vivid emotions and dialogue throughout the book, with captivating prose for example, scenes describing a character’s intoxication and the resulting actions that are spot on. I like the fact you don’t notice the writing. You are in the story and there are no odd moments where you wonder what is that word doing there.
The emotional content within the book is realistic and appropriate as scenes transition well. The emotional jolt near the end is handled exactly right, as one would expect such a situation to be in real life. The emotional moments throughout the book are presented in an amazingly genuine teen/coming of age point of view.
The story keeps ones attention and you want to see what happens and to whom.
Was I surprised by events in the book? Not entirely as the author provided sufficient clues for the discerning reader to figure things out.
Just to let those who might purchase this as a gift without reading it first, there is some profanity used, but we are talking about teens. Some teens of certain environments grow up using certain language while others do it to be cool. I believe the author handled this well as she doesn’t have every character do it, an excellent job in my opinion. And to be honest, if there hadn’t been any profanity it would not have been an authentic book.
You are inside the main characters head a lot, but that’s to be expected in the type of story being told. This is a diary type of story. The only time I really had any problems with it was in the very beginning where things were being set up for us to know what is going on. Once past that first chapter or two of setting things up, the story takes off and you are ready to go.
Reading The Convenience of Lies shows you what is possible inside the life of teens. And I do mean what is truly possible. Having been a teacher and youth pastor I know what can happen. The reader will identify or recognize the struggles teenagers encounter in their world, how they perceive themselves, and that lessons have to be learned in their own time no matter how painful they may be or who they may hurt. Do you lose a best friend, a crush, a dream?
Read The Convenience of Lies by Kimberly Castillo and experience a slice of teenagers’ world through what happens to Mackenzie and her friends.
The elements about where McKenzie is as an adult and how she got to that point are things you need to think about as you read the book. The Convenience of Lies is more than you think if you know what to look for going in.
If I were to categorize the book it would be difficult to say. Young Adult? Yes. Marital Issues? Yes. Although not a category. Domestic Abuse? Yes. That can be defined in many different ways so don’t jump to a conclusion there.