Every week here at LWI we have a variety. One way to assure variety is to have a variety of people on a team. This week you found or will find Book Reviews about a man on Mars, a real world family of brothers attempting to put their lives back together and a story about a dystopian world where a man has enough of it all and well, he kills the senators. There is a review for you authors out there about a great self-editing book. You also have an article that broke our records here in every way in only 24 hours about Safe Reviewing. Also you have this weeks Author Interview with short story author, at least for now, Sourabh Mukherjee.
Enjoy checking out anything you missed or read your favorite again.
I know I have at least one incredible interview with a lady that just blows my mind with all the talent she has. I was seriously just amazed she wanted an interview. If you want a hint, we connected through an interview I did with author Becky Due.
I also see a Book Review waiting from Olga and you just know Jo will have something great for us. At least one of our other resident authors has but a word in my ear to possibly expect something. So keep an eye.
I’ll start off by saying, Mike Phelps is a friend of mine since I interviewed him. You can’t help it. But that doesn’t mean this review will be anything but honest. If I couldn’t give an honest review on the site I created then I would not do the review.
David Janssen wasn’t just a Star. He was human like the rest of us. He had the same problems but at times magnified with different circumstances but the Exact. Same. Problems. It’s just that his problems were free game for the world to see. Just think, you frown in a picture next to your wife or girlfriend and the next thing you know the world hears there is trouble in paradise. You and your girl find out there is a problem in your life months before there is one. Self fulling perhaps? Who knows?
In David Janssen-Our Conversations Volume One-The Early Years: 1965-1972 we discover just how human David Janssen was. The original Fugitive before Harrison Ford knew what a Wookie was and the reason the movie Ford was in was ever even made. But we also discover how super human he was. His long time non-Hollywood friend Michael Phelps gives us an inside look at just how David Janssen handled some of the toughest moments of his life, including his divorce from his first wife, Ellie Janssen. If you don’t know about that particular part of Janssen’s life, you’ll find out why I call Janssen super human.
David Janssen’s success with The Fugitive series and his problems following its success and its ending while still at the top of the ratings are discussed along with relationship problems with Ellie Janssen, Rosemary Forsyth and the woman he missed out on, as well as his love for the children the women brought into his life.
I like that we see David’s side of things, even these many years after Ellie Janssen’s biography David Janssen-My Fugitive told a decidedly different story about her time with David. A biography in which Michael Phelps was involved with but has clearly stated was Ellie’s story, not his. He typed as she dictated with his filling in blanks one moment while dodging flying glass objects another.
Michael Phelps’ back ground as a police officer prior to meeting David Janssen and then in security and as an investigator comes through in his approach to sharing his memories. As a historian I enjoyed the straightforward way the conversations were presented with small snippets of Michael Phelps’ own life interlaced to give a good passage of time and some parallels of the two friends’ lives that I’m not even sure Phelps realizes. This wasn’t just about a man sitting around waiting for his famous friend to call. Mike had his own life and David was interested in that life. Mike cared about David Janssen just as you care about your best friend. The long distance friendship Janssen and Phelps shared proved to me what kind of man Janssen was more than the words spoken revealed. And Mike’s concern for David throughout is obvious. That’s Mike. That’s Mike then, and that’s Mike now.
I enjoyed discovering David Janssen’s opinions about John Wayne, which I could see as being true. The discussions between Phelps and Janssen about Jack Webb of Dragnet fame who was the creator and executive producer of O’Hara: U.S. Treasury, a one season Janssen series. The people David found to be true friends were at times surprising to me. As you read through the conversations David also reveals more about himself than I think Michael Phelps realizes. In a way I think Mike was living a life that David Janssen wanted, but never realized it was what he wanted. David never actually recognized that was part of the thing that made his friendship with Michael Phelps work.
You move through the book at a good pace waiting for that next communication with David Janssen to find out what was going on in all facets of his life. Parts of conversations at times were just like any other friendship in the world in that things were repeated just like you would to your own friend; Greetings, inside jokes and endearments. You find yourself saying the same things with the nuggets of information mixed in. That was part of the editing agreement Michael Phelps had, don’t touch the conversations. Just think, “Hi, Dave.” “How did you know it was me,” Mike said with a laugh through the phone. “I would kill anyone else calling me at 3 AM.” (my paraphrasing of dialogue) That’s Michael Phelps.
As for the writing itself? Chapters are short so you commit to very small amounts of time reading and you know if you start another chapter it won’t be much to jump into as you are about to head out the door or go to bed. David Janssen did have a use of language at times that one might would expect from someone in the middle of situations he found himself in, but that adds to the authenticity of the book. I recommend reading this over the course of days as opposed to in one or two sittings. The reasons being there is a lot of information and the repetitive nature of parts of conversations between friends might lead ones eyes to skip forward. If you do, you might miss little moments that are very telling.
Michael Phelps gives the warts and all. Sure, Janssen was his friend but he gives it all to us. We get to make our own opinions.
If you are wanting a book to learn about the behind the scenes world of Hollywood, how actors had to play the game, how they had to worry about things we never need to and learn about a TV Icon Legend, about how a TV series really is made, then this is the book for you. Gift it if you want to.
Overall, this is a recommendation for any fan of old school real acting TV and Movie legends. This isn’t a name dropping sensationalist book, though names are mentioned. What you get is David Janssen, period.
Title: Jasper Penzey International Boy Detective: The Ruby Brooch of Atlantis Author: Monica LaSarre monicalasarre.com Format: Hardcover Price: $13.01 File Size: 5430 KB Print Length: 144 pages Genre: Detective, Adventure, Middle Grades, Fantasy Simultaneous Device usage: Unlimited Publisher: Chalfant Eckert Publishing Published: 21 Oct 2014 Language: English ASIN: B00OR2NFXG ISBN-10: 1633081206 ISBN-13: 978-1633081208 Text-to-Speech: Enabled X-Ray: Not Enabled Word Wise: Not Enabled Sold by:AmazonBarnes&Noble
Nine year old Jasper’s life changes unexpectedly when his father announces the two of them are moving to Greece because of his work. With a mysterious gift and message left for him on his windowsill Jasper begins an adventure in a new country that takes him in search of the secret to finding the Lost City of Atlantis. Does Atlantis exist? How can he find it? And who is trying to stop him?
With a 10 year old, intelligent and inquisitive son of my own I was looking forward to reading this book. The book is aimed at Middle Grade readers and I can see that through some of the word usage and the thinking processes used by Jasper. Very well done. Very much Recommended on that front. Some of he words will push a young reader just enough to make it a challenge but not take away from the enjoyment.
Being a debut novel I was surprised by the great imagery the book provided. LaSarre really does an amazing job of making you feel like you are in the various environments of the book ranging from Louisiana to Greece. Very good descriptions but not at all over done. Just the right touch.
The characters in the book are mostly believable with only a couple of actions that caused me to pause as to how and why but nothing to take away from the book. The story itself is very easy to follow and the flow is good until right near the end where a few things became slightly confusing because of the action taking place but ultimately it all came together.
For a young reader this would be a great book. It gives just enough to make for an interesting read without being loaded down with a lot of unneeded mythological or archaeological details you would find in an older reader book. My son is the next one to read it. He’s been waiting for it.
Ratings Realistic Characterization: 3.5/5 Made Me Think: 3/5 Overall Enjoyment: 4/5 Readability: 4/5 Recommended: 4/5 Overall Rating: 3.7/5
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
*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.
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
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
I had read this book when it was first published in 2013. The second print was released in January 2014. It is a book to share, a book that will change your perspectives which is why I have chosen to review it for my first post in LitWorldInterviews.
Though trained in therapy, this review is written not from the perspective of a therapist but rather that of a reader who happens to be a therapist.
Title: The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves Author: Stephen Grosz Publisher: Chatto & Windus (3 Jan 2013) ISBN-10: 070118535X ISBN-13: 978-0701185350 Website: http://www.stephengrosz.com/usa// Pages: Hardback, 240 pages Genre: Literary Non-Fiction – Psychology
What’s it about?
The Examined Life is a collection of essays based on Stephen Grosz’ case histories of his work as a psychoanalyst. In Grosz’ words, it is a book about ‘change and loss’.
Grosz’ art in story-telling is apparent. The human-ness of each client, and the interaction between he and his clients cannot help but make the reader realise all of us share common experiences such as pain and suffering in our living, and we are creative and versatile of ways to protect ourselves by whichever means possible.
In telling these stories, Grosz manages to enlighten the reader to the hidden meanings of his clients’ lives. There are the ‘facts’ obvious to all, and then his narratives which distil the motivations leading to a depth of understanding of the human psyche.
The reader is also acutely aware the therapy process occurs within the confines of a therapist’s room, and the accounts told by the clients are rarely verified or corroborated. As a therapist, I am aware therapeutic ‘conversations’ are about honouring the client’s perspectives, not seeking ‘universal truths’. So the reader is left with stories of people as seen through the eyes of a highly experienced psychoanalyst and poignant narratives which prompt the reader to reflect on humanity. Take for example, the young man diagnosed as HIV positive who had spent some 3 years of his therapy sessions with Grosz mostly sleeping because it is there that he felt safe and thus could rest. That was a place of healing. Now reconsider the judgment we have of the benefits or the necessity or the efficacy of those sessions.
This book is inspirational, thought provoking and highly entertaining. Most importantly, by the absence of technical jargon, it is accessible to all and not just those interested in or within the field of psychology.
The essays illuminate and clarify the process of psychoanalysis – the conversations in therapy and the skills of listening, talking and being present with clients – without advocating for this specific technique or method.
I recommend this most certainly to readers curious about the complexities of human mind and behaviour.
Perhaps Grosz said it best:
“The philosopher Simone Weil describes how two prisoners in adjoining cells learn, over a very long period of time, to talk to each other by tapping on the wall. ‘The wall is the thing which separates them, but it is also their mean o communication,’ she writes. ‘Every separation is a link.’
This book is about that wall. It’s about our desire to talk, to understand and be understood. It’s also about listening to each other, not just the words but the gaps in between. … It’s something that is a part of our everyday lives – we tap, we listen.”
Enjoy! LWI Rating:
Realistic Characterization: N/A Made Me Think: 3/5 Overall enjoyment: 4/5 Readability: 5/5 Recommended: 4/5 Overall Rating: 4/5
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: