Monday, April 30, 2012

Helen Keller in Love

Review by Nancy

I learned about Helen Keller in school just like all kids my age. Did I see “The Miracle Worker” you bet I did! I was as awestruck by Anne Sullivan’s teaching methods and Helen’s “AHA” moment as you all were. Did a bit of research on dogs and Helen Keller because we were raising Akitas at the time and she brought the first one to America.

What I had no clue about were the restrictions placed on Helen Keller the person. She was never allowed to go anywhere alone (probably a good idea considering….) she couldn’t really have friends outside of her circle which always included Anne and, unfortunately occasionally her mother and she certainly couldn’t go out with a man. I also didn’t know that Anne had married a man who took most of Helen’s money and left Anne for another woman. I was astonished that no one ever mentioned Peter Fagan - Helen’s love and lover.

Anne has been stricken with tuberculosis and cannot carry on Helen’s tours which are bringing in less and less due to her Socialistic speeches. Something must be done and quickly as she is worsening every day. Nothing to do but hire a personal secretary to take care of Helen, correspondence, lectures, etc. She appeals to her ex-husband for help and he sends them Peter. Immediately Helen is aware that the atmosphere has changed. Anne isn’t fond of her replacement but Helen is becoming more so by the hour.

The tale of Helen’s secret life with Peter and also of her opinions on Socialism were a true surprise to me and this book is so well-written that sometimes I thought Helen herself had done it and the author, Rosie Sultan, does an exceptional job of educating us and enticing us to learn more! A book well worth reading and reading again just in case you missed something the first time.


Rosie Sultan earned her MFA at Goddard College and won a PEN Discovery Award for fiction, on the nomination of historian Howard Zinn. A former fellow at The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, she has taught writing at Boston University, the University of Massachusetts, and Suffolk University in Boston. Her short story “Blue is Your Color, Dear” appeared in Other Voices. She lives with her husband and son in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sale Day at C Mart

Don McKeever just wants to go fishing. Instead, he has to check in on his employees at C Mart. Today the big corporate boss is paying the store a visit. The last time the boss came, Don got his ass chewed and it was not pretty.

As if things could not be bad enough, Don has to put up with incompetent employees and complete with T Mart, another discount store that opened across the street.

Sale Day at C Mart is like a bad comedy show and I mean it in a good way. This book will have you wanting to tear your hair out, pop a couple Tylenol and a couple of antacids. Ok, so you may not feel this way but this is how I felt reading this book. I wanted to scream at how dysfunction the characters were but at the same time, they were entertaining and I could not get enough of them.

My only favorite character in this book was Billy. He seemed to be the normal one and he was kind hearted. Everyone else, I would avoid if I was shopping at C Mart and leave the store angry as many of the customer did. At the same time, I could understand why the C Mart employees had such bad attitudes. I would too if the big corporate boss always kept reminding my boss that it is good for employees to constantly be overworked, under paid and don’t forget to fire employees before their ten year anniversary. If you are looking for some fun at a good price than you should check out Sale Day at C Mart!

Midnight in Peking

I have read several nonfiction books recently and they really intrigued me into checking this genre out more. That is why I wanted to check out Midnight in Peking. I thought the unsolved murder of a young Pamela Werner sounded intriguing. I was not the only one as Mr. French was also intrigued by Pamela’s story and felt that he wanted to research her story himself and see if he could once again give Pamela a voice.

Pamela was the daughter of E.T.C. Werner, a former British consul at Foochow. Back in 1937, Pamela’s body was found lying on the ground near the Fox Tower outside the Legation Quarter. Pamela was almost unrecognizable due to all the stab wounds. In addition, her abdomen was spilt open with her heart and other organs removed and her clothing ripped to shreds. British Chief Detective Dennis and Chinese Detective Han work to try and solve the murder of Pamela. Unfortunately, Pamela’s body is laid to rest and her case is closed.

While, I did find Pamela’s murder interesting, especially how another country handles their protocol for solving murders. I must admit that I did struggle to get through this book. I started it and than had to put it down and read something else before going back to it. This book kind of felt like a non/fiction book versus just a non fiction book. What with the fox spirits and such that this culture believes in. Also, it felt like it was really important to inform the reader about China and the detectives and their lives. Not a lot was shared about Pamela. Her story was intertwined in bits and pieces through out this book.


Q: When and where did you first discover Pamela, and what was it that piqued your interest in her story?

A. I was reading a rather dry and academic biography of the famous American journalist Edgar Snow who became well known in China in the 1930s. A small footnote stated that his neighbour had been Pamela Werner, a young English woman murdered in 1937 and whose killing was never solved. The footnote mentioned that Edgar’s wife Helen thought she might have been the real target of the killer and that Pamela’s father was a suspect as well as a notorious ‘sex cult’ run by a rather ragtag group dubious foreigners in Peking. That all rather grabbed my attention!! I went to sleep and in the morning Pamela was front and centre in my mind and I decided she was worth looking into – she’s stayed lodged in my brain ever since.

Pamela’s murder was brutal, it led to waves of panic spreading through both foreign and Chinese Peking at the time. The whole city, and actually the whole of China, followed the investigation in the newspapers while armchair detectives all offered their own theories. Yet within six months of Pamela’s murder China was plunged into a horrific war for its very survival – Beijing and Tianjin were under Japanese occupation, Shanghai was being bombed by Japanese planes and the horrific Rape of Nanjing occurred.

Q: Why is the story of Pamela’s murder significant?

A: Pamela was one murder that seemed to presage even greater horrors for everyone in China. In 1937 her killing, when everyone really knew things were about to get a lot worse for them all, really coalesced the terror that Chinese civilisation was about to be overrun by the forces of barbarism. Stalin (who would have known!!) said “one death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic”…I felt that even back then, on the eve of World War Two, and now, Pamela felt to people like that one tragedy.

Q: Did you know who the murderer was when you started to write? How sure are you that you have got the right person?
A: When I started I had no idea who the murderer was, I only had suspects. They were all intriguing – her elderly and curmudgeonly father, her headmaster, one of any number of white ‘driftwood’ that lived nearby Pamela’s Peking home and hung out in the Badlands area among the brothels, dive-bars and opium dens…a fairly intriguing cast.

However, once I found Werner’s private investigation and began cross-referencing what he had discovered with what the official police investigation of Colonel Han and DCI Dennis had found out I became convinced that ETC Werner had got to the dark heart of the matter.

I was convinced Werner was right and so I wanted to tell his story – I hope people read the book and ask questions for themselves. I hope the arguments in the book are persuasive enough and backed up with evidence and facts. We’ve also created a great website with more background documents, evidence, contemporary newspaper articles and pictures of all the major characters and locations to add to what is in the book.

Q: What were the social and cultural divisions in Peking in the 1930s? The British had their own safe haven in the Legation Quarter, were there other sets of rules for the White Russians, and the Chinese themselves?

A: I think when most people think of China in the 1930s they think of Shanghai – jazz, gangsters, beautiful White Russian dancers, Chinese ladies in Cheongsam, art-deco nightclubs etc. But Peking was different – Peking was not a treaty port under foreign control like Shanghai; it was all Chinese territory and it was an ancient city, a dark city. It was also a city that had fallen behind – Shanghai was the most modern city in Asia, Nanjing was the Chinese capital; Peking had become a bit of a backwater. Peking was also very nervous – it bordered onto Manchuria and northern China where the Japanese had been in occupation since 1932 – they knew they were next! Many of the Chinese were, at the higher level, scholars or former imperial bureaucrats who had served the old Qing Dynasty – again, an older, more traditional China than Shanghai. At the lower end, the Chinese population was swollen by penniless and desperate migrants from Japanese-occupied Manchuria. It was a combustible situation with a weak local government.

The foreigners were also very divided. At the top were the former diplomats and the old China Hands with money, privilege and their ‘gilded cage’ of the Legation Quarter that looked and felt like Europe but was surrounded by China. Outside the quarter lay the “Badlands” and the Tartar City where another class of Europeans lived made up of, largely poor and destitute, White Russian exiles, a more recent group of Jewish refugees from Hitler’s Germany and quite a few white ‘driftwood’, foreigners who had reached the end of the line and fell into opium addiction, drug dealing, prostitution, begging, gun running or acting as mercenaries.

This latter group of foreign ‘driftwood’ has been little talked about by historians traditionally as they leave fewer traces or memoirs. Their stories are much harder to uncover. However, Pamela’s murder represented a point when the smart and privileged world of the Legation Quarter met the dark underworld of the Badlands and shed a rather revealing light on the equally scandalous goings on in both communities.

Q: Having lived in Shanghai for a number of years, how would you describe your relationship with China and how did you negotiate writing a book that is so entwined with the city of Beijing (over Shanghai)?

A: Shanghai is a fascinating city for many, many reasons. I’ve written about the city in the past and intend to do so again in the future. However, Beijing has its own attractions. In the historical period that interests me – the interwar period - Shanghai was a foreign administered treaty port and both the International Settlement and Frenchtown were wide open places where refugees didn’t need papers, gangsters ran amok, China’s fractious politics collided in bloodshed and a hell of a lot of partying went on right up to the end. But Peking was different – Peking was a city concerned with appearances, a city that tried to smother scandal rather than reveling in it as Shanghai did. Shanghai lifted its skirt and flashed the goods to passersby; Peking was all fur coat and no knickers!! Peking was a city that always protected tradition, be it the foreign Legations or Chinese customs and manners from a previous era, while Shanghai embraced the modern with gusto…cinema, cars, radio, jazz, machine guns, heroin, fashion. Shanghai was all show, Peking all surface and so getting under that veneer of proprietary to the scandals that lay beneath and the resentments and crimes that festered was challenging. It’s also the case that Shanghai history in the 1920s and 1930s is quite well known. I think people have a picture in their head when you mention Shanghai 1937 – women in cheongsams and men in dinner jackets dancing to jazz on a balcony overlooking the Bund! Peking 1937 is much less well worn territory and therefore a challenge.

Q: What is the most surprising thing about Pamela’s story?

A: For me the most surprising aspect of the story was how my attitude to some of the characters changed over time. This was particularly true of Pamela’s father, ETC Werner. By all accounts most people who knew him agreed that he was aloof, somewhat snobbish, did not suffer fools gladly and had a quick temper. He was a man many admired but few appear to have liked. I felt that way about him too at first. But when I began to read his own notes of his private investigation into Pamela’s murder closely I suddenly heard the voice of a loving father in intense personal pain over the sudden and horrible loss of his daughter. He was a man of his times – outwardly cold and detached, very stiff upper lip and all that…but inside he clearly loved Pamela very deeply and went to extraordinary lengths at great personal risk as well as spending his life’s savings and ruining his health to try and find her killers.

There’s also no point in denying that over the years it took to research this book I developed a rather deep obsession with Pamela herself. I wanted desperately to know her better, to sense what the last days of her life were like, to understand her. At times I felt extremely sad that she had not lived to become a happy, yet anonymous, grandmother somewhere with a stack of tall tales of life in Peking to tell her grandchildren. I was surprised at myself for how deeply that affected me emotionally and how determined that made me to finish the book and do the best job I possibly could, for Pamela, so that her life was not lived in vain and so that people would remember her. That seemed, and still does seem, very important to me somehow.

Q: What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

For me crime stories – real or fictional – are ultimately all about character, period and location. When I read crime fiction I almost immediately forget what the motive for the murder was, or which clue it was that led the detective to the killer. What I do remember are the characters, the places, the historical ambience. Crime writing does that better than any other sort of literature I think. So I hope that I’ve done a good enough job of writing to allow readers to immerse themselves in a time and place that did exist - 1937 Peking. I hope that the locations – the Legation Quarter, the hutongs, the Badlands – will come alive and that with them so too the characters may start to feel three dimensional and real. If I’ve achieved that then my ultimate aim – to remember Pamela, might just be realized. In January 1937 a horrific crime was committed and nobody was ever brought to justice for it. That throws our sense of right and wrong off balance, forces our world out of harmony. I think it’s important, even 75 years later, that we remember. In the remembering, in the not forgetting someone whose life was stolen, is a form of justice, a rebalancing, a return to some sort of harmony. In a sense, through my book, perhaps Pamela lives again in our collective memory. I hope so, she deserves to.

Q: Tell us a bit about your research for MIDNIGHT IN PEKING; what documents did you find, who did you speak to and where did you travel to during the process?

A: I started out by going to the archives in Shanghai and Hong Kong and reading all the newspaper reports from the time about Pamela’s murder. The story was front-page news for what used to be known as the China Coast press, English language newspapers in Shanghai, Tientsin (Tianjin) and Peking. Very early I saw a picture of Pamela taken just before she died when she clearly believed she had her whole life before her. One glance at that picture in the archives and I knew I was going to write a book about her murder. From there I looked up all the available records I could find and delved into the background of the characters involved.

I was most intrigued by Pamela’s father, a former British Consul in China and a noted but somewhat tetchy Sinologist as well as the investigative partnership between Colonel Han, the top detective on the Peking Police Force and DCI Dick Dennis, an ex-Scotland Yard policeman who happened to be stationed in the nearby British Concession at Tientsin. That part of the story was too good to make up!

But my real breakthrough, my ‘eureka moment’, came in the UK’s National Archives at Kew in London. I was looking through a box of jumbled up and unnumbered documents from the British Embassy in China in the 1940s when I found a 150 page or so long document sent to the Foreign Office by ETC Werner, Pamela’s father. These documents were the detailed notes of a private investigation he had conducted after the Japanese occupation of Peking until he was himself interned by the Japanese along with all other Allied foreigners after Pearl Harbor. It was a fascinating document with a lot of new evidence as well as an impassioned plea by a distraught father for his daughter’s murder case to be reopened. However, his investigation fell on deaf ears – the British establishment in China had decided that Werner and his daughter’s killing were an embarrassing loss of face for Britain in the Far East while in London the Blitz was at its height and the war in Europe consumed everyone’s attention. Pamela, and her father’s investigation, were forgotten…until the day I turned up and asked for the files to be retrieved from Kew’s voluminous stacks.

Q: The characters in Midnight in Peking all existed in real life, do you feel as though you have portrayed them accurately? How did you go about bringing them to life without allowing them to become fictional?

A: If you want to know how easy it is to write literary fiction then try writing literary non-fiction!! Fiction writers are absolute dictators who are able to order their characters to do whatever they like. I was faced with characters who had messy lives, whose motives were not always obvious and who made mistakes and didn’t leave nice detailed diaries. Just as in real life, my characters lived messy unfinished lives while fictional characters can be tidied up, their every act explained, their reasonings divined – because it’s all just make believe. And you can’t tidy up after them the way fiction writers get to. You’re stuck with your characters, warts and all, loose ends included.

On the other hand at times the truth can certainly be stranger than fiction and actions and motivations that would appear too staged or contrived can sometimes be what actually happened.

In MIDNIGHT IN PEKING no characters actions or words are invented, no locations are made up, the timeline is real and only what is known for sure is included- there are no suppositions, perhaps or maybes. That’s why I insisted on footnoting the book so that if readers felt I had strayed from the actual events into fiction they could refer to the notes and see the original source of the characters words, actions or motivations.
Of course when dealing with real people, people who are long dead, it is frustrating. I talked to as many people as possible, I found as many pictures of them as possible, letters they wrote, interviews they gave, postcards they sent, diaries and notes they kept. However, it is hard to get people in their former living and breathing entirety – what they smelt like, their accents, their particular mannerisms and twitches that made them unique individuals. That is something I find frustrating. For instance a couple of people told me, and several others wrote, that Pamela’s rare grey eyes were quite entrancing, they were hard to look away from and were something very unique and special about her. But sadly none of the black and white photos of her are quite capable of capturing this feature that anyone who knew her saw and instantly recalled.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Kosher Grapevine

My Review

I wanted to read this book because I enjoy a good glass of win every once in a while. Also, I have been fascinated by wine making and wanting to be a wine conissiour and host a wine party. Wow, I got more than I bargained for with this book. I now know more about wine making, grapes, and Jewish lifestyle than I ever thought I would.

There is the process of Crushing the grapes, than Separation, Fermentating in eich grapes have sugar in them that makes them have a chemical reaction during this stage that the sugar from the grapes than turn into alcohol and carbon dioxide, Racking, Clarifying and Filtering, Aging and than finally the Bottling of the wine. This is when you finalyl can open the bottle, pour a glass and sit back and relax.

Mr. Langer discusses the differences between six main wines...Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. I like the white wines but usually I perfer the red like Merlot, which has more of a full body taste than a fruity, dry taste like the white wines.

Here are the Ten Steps to Enjoying Wine:

1) Choose the Wine -This can be very important as you don't want to choose the wrong wine and not enjoy it.

2) Set the scene and just sit - Location, location, location!

3) Hear the wine -Listen to the sound of the wine as it is hitting your glass

4) See the wine -Look at the different colors in your wine glass

5) Smell the wine - What scents do you smell. Do you smell the oak or other scent that the wine was sitting in while it was going through the wine process?

6) Recite the blessing - Thank God for the fruit of the wine

7) Drink the wine and sense its subtleties - Enjoy the wine. Swirl it around on your tongue, don't just slug it down.

8) Feel the wine inside you- This does not mean be a sloppy drunk

9) Describe the experience - What did the wine taste like, smell, feel?

10) Recite the final blessing - The final prayer can be found in any prayer book.

Mr. Langer shares more helpful tips in this book like wine parings for food, how to read a wine menu, and other things. Mr. Langer shows you that you do not have to be afraid to try out different wines and become an expert on them. This book is worth your time. After reading this book, you will really appreciate your next glass of wine! Also, the graphics in this book are breathtaking and they pop off the pages with color.

Exploring The World of Fine Wine

Kosher wines have been winning medals at prestigious international competitions and creating a buzz among wine connoisseurs, yet most kosher consumers still opt for the "traditional" sweet stuff. Author Irving Langer, a real estate developer by profession used to be one of those people.

A man with a zest for living life to the fullest, Irving embarked on an exploration of the subtleties of fine wine from Beaujolais to Zinfandel - and now he's ready to share his hard-won knowledge with you. With wit as dry as his favorite Merlot, Irving guides the reader on a fascinating, often whimsical journey, teaching us all we need to know about Kosher wine with information such as:

•What are the differences between red, white, and sparkling wines?

•The ten steps of wine tasting.

•How to navigate a restaurant wine menu.

"How to identify the wines that give the most satisfaction? The best way is to taste wines. After you read this book, you will know how to do this, and you will discover the wonderful new adventure of wine tasting.... I'm sure you will find Irving Langer's book informative and enjoyable."

- Daniel Rogov, wine critic; author of Rogov's Guide to Kosher Wines and Rogov's Guide to Israeli Wines

About the Author:

Irving Langer is the CEO of E & M Associates, a real estate company he founded in 1970. He and his wife Miriam have three children and several, but "not enough," grandchildren. Irving is active in numerous not-for-profit organizations and enjoys travel, writing poetry, fine dining, spending time with his family - and, of course, wine tasting.

Title: The Kosher Grapevine
Author: Irving Langer
Publisher: Gefen Publishing House
Pub Date: April 2012
ISBN: 978965229573-6 Price: $34.95 Hardcover, 158 pages

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fitness giveaway

We’re celebrating the release of Cami Checketts’ novel Dead Running with a huge fitness giveaway.

Prizes Include:

Experienced and beginner yoga packages from Hugger Mugger

Two MIO Global Active Watches

Three months online personal training from Fitcore Fitness

Three Lebert Stretch Straps

Fitness Apparel from Running Chics

One pair of running shoes from Altra Zero Drop

iFrogz Earbuds and Armbands

Six month adult membership: Smithfield Recreation Center

One month membership: Crossfit UAC

Autographed copy of Dead Running by Cami Checketts

Win one of these amazing prizes simply by following this blog or liking my Facebook page and leaving a comment below. Please visit each of our sponsors’ websites to learn more about their products and decide which one you’d like to win. While you’re at their site, like their page or follow their blog to show our gratitude for their donation to this fun blogfest. You can enter on as many different blogs as you like, a list of the participating blogs is featured at the end of this post.

Hugger Mugger Yoga Experienced

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Lebert Fitness Website Like Lebert Fitness on Facebook

Flexibility and mobility are two vital components of fitness.

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Six month adult membership - Value: $157

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True Love Way

Review by Nancy

Marlo Spencer has gone whole-hog into Retro. Clothes, decorations, TV movies/sit-coms were everywhere but nothing was more Retro than Marlo herself. Spending twelve years wondering “what if” is a total waste of time but that’s where the Laverne & Shirley lover was. She was still in love/like/lust for her high school sweetheart who left her to go to Chef school in Paris. What’s girl to do?

When she finds that Josh has come home again nothing will do but she and her best guy-friend Nik go home as well. Her BFF Savannah has opened a hit bakery, Sav’s daughter is twelve and misses her aunt nearly as much as Marlo misses her. The trip north from LA is fun, long and relaxing for Nik. Marlo is on pins and needles the entire way. It’s her last chance and she means to make the best of it.

However. Life never plays fair and the things Marlo learns back home stun her completely. She doesn’t know who to trust or where to turn. So many things, so little vacation time!

This book is great! I love the story, I really loved Aunt Madge (you’ll see!!) and Marlo is perfectly written. This is kind of a chick book but a darn good one so go out and splurge on something for yourself!

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Truth of All Things

A woman has been murdered. Her body has been laid in the form of a pentagram. She is pinned to the ground with a pitchfork in her neck.

At first the murder seems to be the work of some sick and twisted person but the deeper Archie gets involved in the case, the more it seems the woman’s death could be the work of evil magic and witches.

Deputy Marshall Archie Lean is on the case. He is joined by former Pinkerton agent and Native American, Perceval Grey, and historian, Helen Prescott.

While, this book had elements of my genre…mystery, I still had my reservations about it. At first, it seemed like it was going to take a while to develop the story and progress but I was surprised in a good way by how much I did enjoy this book. Yes, it is a slow progression of a story but if you stick with it, than I guarantee that you will like it as much as I did. The last half of the book is where the story really picks up.

For me, I picked up instantly on the fact that this book made me think of Sherlock Holmes. Perceval. He had brain smarts but in a way like Mr. Holmes. He picked up on things before other people did. I thought that he and Archie worked well together. They were kind of like the misfits, who banded together. Also, I did enjoy the setting of this story. It had this old time feel to it like the 1800’s mixed with elements of a western movie. The ending of this book ended on a high note. Mr. Shields shows that he is a voice to stand up and take notice of! I can not wait to see what he comes out with next.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Immortality Plot

Review by Nancy

Mike Delaney was a hard, take no prisoners type of guy – until his wife was murdered and their baby died with her. He had been nearly murdered in China while working as a cop; worked before that for a group that didn’t have a name and survived but Maria’s murder? That did him in. He left their house for a monastery high in the California hills, where he meditated, practiced Tai Chi and other arts until time came he had to do something else. Find the murderer of his wife.

She had been a journalist with a home office he didn’t intrude on but, after the fire he had sense enough to move what was left of her computer and files somewhere else until the investigation was done. Until the public’s mind was distracted by the next big thing – The Priest. He took lovely young women, made them confess on tape to a myriad of sins and then put the tape in their mouths and killed them. His newest offerings had a cross cut into their backs.

All clues and other disappearances somehow lead to a charity funder called LifeForce International but how? Mike risks everything to find out and, at the end, the surprise is his. You have to read this thriller! It never stops surprising and making you think you’ve got the answer when, in fact, you’ve got no clue at all!

Friday, April 20, 2012


Review by Nancy

To say that Jane Jameson had a hard time adjusting to being a vampire is an understatement. Aunt Jettie haunts her home (used to be hers), her older sister hates her (always has), her best friend forever’s mom will NOT give up on Zeb and Jane marrying (he’s in love with a werewolf) and then there’s Gabriel…hunk, 150 yr-old vampire who turned Jane as she lay dying (and that’s a great tale in itself!). His frenemy Dick – they were childhood friends – puts anyone thief you can name to shame and her co-worker Andrea was a blood-surrogate.

The fourth installment of the Half-Moon Hollow folk is just a great as the first three. The “Nice Girls Don’t…” series by Molly Harper is a must-read for anyone who likes humor, vampires with a bit of lust thrown in and a great story line. Jane and Gabriel are engaged to marry and are trying to keep control of their event. In a great idea that might should have been thought out first, Jane has turned a high-school jock she used to babysit for who was creamed by a truck and is now responsible for him. For a year. He’s young, horny, doesn’t listen, plays loud music, eats in the middle of the day – a typical teenager that she and Gabriel aren’t exactly prepared for. To top things off, Jane’s Grandma Ruthie has passed away and has decided to haunt the home she “should have always had”. Ruthie and Jettie are about as close as God and Gomorrah and things get hot is a “deadly” way quickly. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!)

Since it’s always more fun to laugh longer do yourself a favor and get all four books. Yes, you can read only this one and have a good time but – splurge – share with friends and have a great time!

The Quaker State Affair

Review by Nancy

Imagine a world where the Internet, banks, cell phones, TVs, etc. are down. Permanently. The world would have gone to the gold standard (you might want to start stocking up on that, by the way). This is the pretty scary part of The Quaker State Affair.

Physics is an interesting subject and it takes a bit of brain power to go through some parts of this story but it is well worth it. The premise: a nuclear physicist who retired a few years back is needed to solve an issue – someone has created energy which can be sighted and fired into other countries – like China. The Chinese government is understandably not happy when one of their nuclear plants is blown to bits and naturally blames the US. Problem? We didn’t do it.

A too cautious President, an election year issue, and Mac the “mad scientist” all pool their resources to solve this problem – until the President over reaches his powers and involves Mac in a “show and tell” event which puts a bulls-eye on his back. The end issue is something I personally have dreams about.

Mac, his buddy Ben, a DOD agent named Barlow and her boss and a beautiful black Lab named Lady all make this book come alive with human touches, government games and scientific know-how. A great read! I really enjoyed it and hope you will as well.

The Quaker State Affair website

Dan Romain's business website

Dan Romain Bio:
Dan Romain is a nationally recognized business consultant who built one of the most successful insurance firms in the country. A graduate of the University of Washington with a bachelor’s degree in economics and a member of the Omicron Delta Epsilon International Economics Society, he currently resides in Seattle, Washington, with his wife, Lori, their two children, Danielle and Brian, and their black Labrador, Kona. He has been widely credited as one of the few who accurately predicted the economic melt down.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Barefoot in the Sand

Lacey Armstrong and her daughter, Ashley are lucky to be alive. They have just survived Hurricane Damien. Now, Lacey and Ashley have to rebuld their lives. This means a brand new start for Lacey. She can finally build the bed and breakfast that she wanted.

Clay Walker is trying to make a name for himself and break away from his father's shadow. This is why, when Clay hears that Lacey needs a contractor, he knows he is the right man for the job. This will be his opportunity to show what he can do both in and outside the bedroom.
It has been a while since I have read anything by this author. Barefoot in the Sand is a fun, flirty, summer, beach read! It has your, sexy male love interest, drama, and a happy ending. No surprises but sometimes not being suprised is a good thing. I know I am not complaining about Clay. He could have appeared in the nude or semi nude state though out this whole book. Some one that did not do it for me was David. I did not really see the point in him returning. Yes, I applaud him for wanting to have a daughter-father relationship but I was not buying into the romance aspect or David's effort of trying to start one with Lacey.

Lacey had to grow on me. I did not like all her negative attitude in the beginning. She was mean to Clay and I thought she was the one that was acting like a child and needed to grow up. Another thing is that I wanted to see more romance between Lacey and Clay. This was the whole reason for this book. While, I did appreciate that was not just a fluffy romance novel, I am just saying for me that I wanted more romance. Again, not a bad book and a nice start to a new series from this author. I will probably check out the next book in the Barefoot Bay series, Barefoot in the Rain.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Teeny Bit of Trouble

Teeny Templeton suspects that her boyfriend, Coop may be hooking up with his ex. A few weeks ago out of the blue a young girl stops by and tells Coop that he is her father. Teeny decides to go on a spy mission. She puts on her black, wet suit. It is the only black outfit that Teeny owns and she does not want to stick out like a sore thumb.

Teeny gets more than she bargains for, when she witnesses Coop’s ex being murdered. The murderer knows that Teeny saw him or her. Now it is just a matter of time before Teeny is next. Unless, she can solve the murder.

A Teeny Bit of Trouble is the first book I have read by author, Michael Lee West. I understand that it is the second Teeny Templeton book. The first being Gone with a Handsomer Man.

Teeny, while she might not be the brightest light in the bunch, she is sweet and one heck of a cook. I love that she always has a recipe for each situation she encounters. For example: Anything-You-Say-Can-Be-Used-Against-You Quiche, You-Have-the-Right-to-Remain-Silent Salsa, You-Have-the-Right-to-an-Attorney Pita Dippers, Orange-You-Sorry-You-Lied Marinade, and Teeny’s Red Velvet Cake.

What I meant before about Teeny nit being the brightest is that she seems to find herself in the middle of trouble and than it takes some help from friends to figure out how to put the fire out. I was not feeling the love interest with Teeny’s boyfriend, Coop. This might have to do with the fact that I had not read the first book, as I did not really get to witness their relationship in true form. There were moments when Teeny had me laughing at her comments. This book is more of a classic who-dun-it read. I do plan to go back and read the first book.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Double Jeopardy

It has been a long time since Jas and Nick have seen each other. When a chance meeting at church brings these two reunited, it is love at first sight. Soon Jas and Nick are spending all of their time together. Things are going well until one night, when an argument ends up with someone dead.

I thought this book was a good first effort by new author, Judith Blevins. One thing that I was expecting more from this book was the court scene to have more drama and play out longer due to her background having worked in the criminal justice system. This scene felt kind of glossed over and it was like the reader was supposed to assume that they should have some knowledge of her the whole double jeopardy works.

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Double jeopardy is a procedural defence that forbids a defendant from being tried again on the same (or similar) charges following a legitimate acquittal or conviction. In common law countries, a defendant may enter a peremptory plea of autrefois acquit or autrefois convict (autrefois means "previously" in French), meaning the defendant has been acquitted or convicted of the same offence.

If this issue is raised, evidence will be placed before the court, which will normally rule as a preliminary matter whether the plea is substantiated, and if it so finds, the projected trial will be prevented from proceeding. In many countries, the guarantee against being "twice put in jeopardy" is a constitutional right; these include Mexico and the United States. In other countries, the protection is afforded by statute law.

There were two other factors that I did not care for in this book. One being the relationship between Jas and Nick. First Jas meets Nick again for the first time in a long time and than the next moment, they are head over heels in love with each other and Nick is ready to pop the question. I wanted the build up first, I did not believe that Jas and Nick were really in love in the beginning. Than, when the murder did happen, it was over so quickly that if you blinked you would miss it. The ending was alright. Again, a nice first effort but Mrs. Blevins. Hopefully her next book will be better.

The Day the World Ends

I am not typically a fan of poems but I do appreciate someone who writes poetry. I mean true poetry without having to make sure that every line rhymes.

The poems in this book range from the really short to the long like:


In his heart a young fighter expects no defeats,

Every ham can play Hamlet, all poets are Keats

And all women are Garbo and men Cary Grant,

Being each of us all his own best sycophant.

The Day the World Ends

The day the worlds ends

There will be the sound of a long, whining fart

And everyone on the street will stop

And look at each other as if to say What

The hell is that

---Til the sound is cut short by

A thunderclap

So loud that,

Ears ringing,

People will stagger about as if drunk,

Hands clapped to heads,

Eyes slit, mouths O-shaped.

And then the vibrating will start—but not last long,


POOM! An outward blast will splinter the concrete

And shoot everyone into the air like champagne corks.

And the g’s that suck at their bodies

Will tick down as they reach the apex

Where for one moment they will float,

Looking gravely at each other,

Before starting back towards earth==


Sad to say,

Shall no longer be there.

And they will fall and fall and fall

With nothing to stop them,


Faster and faster,

Until they burst into shrieking flame,

And then finally,

And forever,

Their ashes will dither and swirl

In the dusk of eternal nothingness.

When this happens

--And it will—

Don’t be saying, “Oh! Oh, wait—can I have a second?

Nobody warned me!”

Try it.

They’ll shake this poem in your face and say,

“Remember this? Remember this jackoff?”


Of course, the rest of the poems in this book focus on present day topics but most have a theme of sex, love/lust and sarcasm. Some people might find some of the poems offending but not me. My second language after English is Sarcasm.

Two of my favorite poems in this collection book are:

Getting Old (My comment- This is what I have to look forward to when I get old…in this case, I will be young forever!)

Getting old

It really sucks

First goes figure

Then go fucks

Than your wits

Decide they’re done

Yeah getting old

She ain’t no fun

What Do I Want? (My comment-The truth hurts but someone has to say it out loud)

What do I want? What everyone wants:

Love and a fuck.

What do I need? What everyone needs:

Love and a fuck.

What do I get? What everyone gets:

Love so-called and okay a fuck but then a lot of goddamn


This would be something that someone might like if they like light, chick lit type books mixed with some magic.

Paula Wittmore left Haven Woods when she was a teenager. She did not look back. She has now returned. If it was not for the failing health of her mother, she probably would not set foot in Haven Woods. Paula is bringing her daughter, Rowan with her.

The book cover is menacing and draws you in. This is what I noticed first about this book, than I read the summary for this book and I thought it sounded intriguing. Sadly, I was not feeling this book. It did not put a spell over me. I did give this book the good, ole, college try but I only got about a third of the way into this book and than gave up. I did flash forward to the last few chapters of the ending of this book and I have to say that I did not miss much.

I was just not feeling the characters and found the story moved to slowly for me. I was expecting the meat for the story regarding the deep, dark, secrets to be revealed right away and this did not happen. I wanted it to be more on the paranormal side. This would be something that someone might like if they like light, chick lit type books mixed with some magic.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Grace to Carry...Family, Friends, and God's Grace!

Back of Book

In this heartfelt true story, an unexpected encounter leads to an inseparable alliance between two women who come to believe their chance meeting was not happenstance, but destiny. This friendship is sure to last the ages, until a devastating turn of events shatters their dream and alters the course of their lives. Through one another, they grow in ways neither expected nor dreamed. What each believed to be weakness becomes strength. Fear becomes courage. How their relationship deepens as they face the ultimate challenge resonates long after the last page is read. In the end, one simple, yet profound lesson is learned . . . Love best what matters most: Family, Friends, and God's Grace To Carry

Author Marcia explains:
Grace To Carry is the real life story of me and my best friend, Joan, who died of colon cancer. We met by chance . . . she was bigger than life--outgoing, strong, but reluctant to trust. I was timid but trusted all who crossed my path. The journey through her cancer reversed our roles. She became trusting, and I gained strength beyond what I thought possible. What developed was the beautiful spirit of friendship; personal growth, and the strength to persevere through life's most challenging adversity . . . a lesson that's carried me long after her death.

Purchase a copy here

Asgard Park

Review by Nancy

A truly dark tale about a Nordic god named Heimðallr. “Heimðallr, the god who was born of nine mothers (the waves of the sea), is said to have been the father of all the castes of humankind.” (thank you Wiki!!). It wouldn’t hurt to read a bit about him before you start this book. It makes things a little clearer.

Birger Wallenberg is taking over the Asgard Park Institute. – an institution for the mentally ill. Originally from Copenhagen; he has been selected from many applicants to head the Research Department. He already has great plans to use his position to prove some of his own theories. One thing they forgot to mention: the retiring Director, Dr. Karl Leamas, lives there. He built it so why not? Why not is an easy answer. The man is everywhere, into everything and possibly (probably) a tad deluded. He keeps speaking of Heimdallr and encourages Birger to open his senses to him. He says Birger is the chosen one to carry on Heimdallr’s work in the world.

Meanwhile, across the ocean in Albania, two young girls of opposite dispositions are arguing about sex. One is experienced, a whore even and the other is pure, chaste and relies on her brother to keep her safe. The Kid (aka Rakipe) is world-wise, loud, brash and lonely. Shequere Avhiu a widow whose husband hung himself from a sewer pipe. Her brother, Spiro, deals in any and everything dealable and does pretty well for himself.

The back and forth in this book between a world of poverty and an institution of insanity keeps you hopping. I have to admit that it wasn’t something I was thrilled with but overall it was a good tale. Not what I thought it would be about at all and that’s all I’m gonna say about it. I’m sure it will be perfect for most folks.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Justice Department Sues; Three Publishers Settle

Justice Department Sues; Three Publishers Settle

In a clash of concepts about what best serves the reader--the lowest possible prices or a healthy, diverse book industry--the federal government yesterday came down on the side of the book as a commodity.

As expected, the Department of Justice officially filed a civil suit in district court in New York against Apple and five of the six major publishers, charging they "conspired to raise retail prices of e-books" by adopting agency pricing for e-books and applying it to all customers. As a result, Attorney General Eric Holder said at a news conference, the Department believed "consumers paid millions of dollars more for some of the most popular titles." While indicating they don't agree with the charges, three of the publishers--Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster--are settling with the Department and accepting a range of limitations on how they can sell e-books. By contrast, Apple, Macmillan and Penguin are not settling.

At the same time, attorneys general from 16 states, led by Texas and Connecticut, also filed a suit paralleling the federal suit, seeking monetary damages on behalf of consumers in their states who bought e-books. The states' suit was filed in federal court in Austin, Tex. Texas attorney general Greg Abbott said the suit estimated "overcharges" of more than $100 million. HarperCollins and Hachette are settling with the states.

And in Europe, Apple and all the publishers except for Penguin are ready to settle in the investigation brought by the European Commission that touches on some of the same issues as the U.S. case, the Bookseller reported. A representative of the EC indicated that the negotiations are continuing and that the Commission has benefited from a "very close and productive co-operation" with the Department of Justice.

The Justice Department's Argument

The gist of the Justice Department's case: "Beginning no later than September 2008, the Publisher Defendants' senior executives engaged in a series of meetings, telephone conversations and other communications in which they jointly acknowledged to each other the threat posed by Amazon's pricing strategy and the need to work collectively to end that strategy. By the end of the summer of 2009, the Publisher Defendants had agreed to act collectively to force up Amazon's retail prices and thereafter considered and implemented various means to accomplish that goal." It charged, too, that publishers "took steps to conceal their communications with one another, including instructions to 'double delete' e-mail and taking other measures to avoid leaving a paper trail."

The Department cited a series of meetings and dinners that took place about once every three months "in private dining rooms of upscale Manhattan restaurants and were used to discuss confidential business and competitive matters, including Amazon's e-book retailing practices."

One example: "In September 2008, Penguin Group CEO John Makinson was joined by Macmillan CEO John Sargent and the CEOs of the other four large publishers at a dinner meeting in The Chefs Wine Cellar, a private room at Picholene [sic]. One of the CEOs reported that business matters were discussed." (The Justice Department mentioned Penguin and Macmillan executives at length and by name in the complaint while using anonymous reference for executives at companies that have settled with it.)

The Justice Department quoted extensively from e-mails in which publishing executives spoke of the situation in a general way: "We've always known that unless other publishers follow us, there's no chance of success in getting Amazon to change its pricing practices," one executive wrote. "Without a critical mass behind us Amazon won't 'negotiate,' so we need to be more confident of how our fellow publishers will react."

The conspiracy began with proposals for joint ventures involving the sale of e-books to consumers, the Justice Department said. "These ostensible joint ventures were not meant to enhance competition by bringing to market products or services that the publishers could not offer unilaterally, but rather were designed as anticompetitive measures to raise prices."

The talk then moved to using the agency model to bolster prices, and "Apple's entry into the e-book business provided a perfect opportunity for collective action to implement the agency model and use it to raise retail e-book prices."

In December 2009, an Apple executive in charge of e-book business met with the six major publishers individually. "Hachette and HarperCollins took the lead in working with Apple" and allegedly communicated with each other about the meetings, the Justice Department said. In further meetings, Apple proposed that all e-book retailers be required to sell via the agency model, sought a 30% "commission" under the agency plan and demanded an end to delayed publication of e-book versions of new books. During these negotiations, "Apple kept each Publisher Defendant informed of the status of its negotiations with the other Publisher Defendants" and publishers were repeatedly assured that other publishers were going along with the proposal.

Telephone calls between publishers increased at this time, and the Justice Department noted sequences of calls and their lengths. For example: "On January 21, 2010, the CEO of one Publisher Defendant's parent company instructed his U.S. subordinate via e-mail to find out Apple's progress in agency negotiations with other publishers. Four minutes after that e-mail was sent, the U.S. executive called another Publisher Defendant's CEO, and the two spoke for over eleven minutes."

In late January, over three days, the five publishers adopted the agency model, intended to go into effect with the April 3 launch of the iPad. Recounting the battle between Amazon and Macmillan over e-book pricing--when Amazon delisted all Macmillan titles--the Justice Department disapprovingly noted other publishers' support for Macmillan.

In a section that apparently refers to Random House, which initially did not adopt an agency model and was not sued by the Justice Department, the complaint alleged that the five publishers and Apple pressured it to adopt the agency model, too, and even wanted a major retailer--presumably Barnes & Noble or Borders--to "punish" it.

Terms of the Settlement

Under the federal settlement, which makes for mind-numbing reading, publishers will have no control for two years over how e-book retailers sell the e-books or offer discounts or other promotions on them, and for five years, publishers cannot offer "most favored nation" pricing, i.e., requiring that no other retailer will sell below that level. The Justice Department has some limits on below-cost pricing for retailers.

Despite the furor over supposed collusion involving the adoption of the agency model, the Justice Department has said it does not oppose the agency model itself. In fact, it will allow publishers to use the agency plan, but retailers can discount only up to the 30% that is their "commission" under the standard agency e-book model.

Already, Amazon has "plans to push down prices on e-books," the New York Times said. "The price of some major titles could fall to $9.99 or less from $14.99, saving voracious readers a bundle."

So, in the name of antitrust, the level playing field of the past two years--agency model e-books were priced the same whether sold by Amazon, Barnes & Noble or independent bookstores--will likely revert to a situation where a near-monopoly power determines pricing and most other retailers see their already-smaller market share shrink. Although Apple and the publishers may have cooperated in ways that violated the nation's sometimes contradictory antitrust laws, for the Justice Department to single this matter out and not address other issues in the book industry or in business in general seems misguided.

The Fine Print

The federal settlement has many very specific requirements, some of which appear exceedingly petty, punitive and a sizable waste of money, energy and time:

•The publishers must end their current agency plan agreements with Apple in seven days and effectively with other retailers in 30 days.

•Within 30 days, publishers must designate an "antitrust compliance officer" whose duties will include, among other things, giving a copy of the settlement to all company officers and directors and all employees engaged in the sale and distribution of e-books and ensuring that those people receive at least four hours of training annually "on the meaning and requirements of this final judgment and the antitrust laws" from an antitrust attorney; conducting an annual antitrust compliance audit covering all company officers and directors and all employees engaged in the sale and distribution of e-books; providing to the Justice Department quarterly a log of "all oral and written communications, excluding privileged or public communications," between the publisher and anyone at another settling publisher relating to "the distribution or sale in the United States of books sold in any format," including descriptions of the communications, "the date, time, and duration of the communications, the medium of the communication," ad nauseum; and an annual written statement addressing the publisher's compliance with the settlement agreement.

•Within 60 days, all company officers and directors and all employees engaged in the sale and distribution of e-books must certify that they have read, understood and will abide by the settlement and are not aware of any antitrust violations--with certifications repeated annually thereafter.

•Publishers must notify the Justice Department in writing at least 60 days in advance of "the formation or material modification of any joint venture or other business arrangement relating to the sale, development, or promotion of e-books in the United States" with other e-book publishers--and the Department specifies a series of questions to be answered. Within 30 days after that, the Department may ask for more information, in which case the publisher cannot proceed with the project for at least another. In a nice Orwellian touch, the Department said that if it doesn't ask for more information or challenge the project, that should not be considered approval.

•With "reasonable notice," the Justice Department or its representatives may "access" publishers' offices to inspect and copy or make publishers copy "all books, ledgers, accounts, records, data and documents" concerning the "any matters" relating to the settlement. They may also interview informally or on the record any publishers' employees.

•The Justice Department can force publishers to submit reports or respond to written interrogatories. In regard to the written reports, publishers might be required to conduct at their cost "an independent audit or analysis relating to any of the matters" in the settlement.

•Within a week of settlement, publishers have to give the Justice Department copies of all agreements made or renewed this year with any e-book retailer--and update the Department quarterly on other new or renewed agreements.

•Publishers can't "retaliate" against e-book retailers.

•Publishers can't conspire with any other e-book publishers to set e-book prices and can't share "any competitively sensitive information" about business plans or strategies, pricing, terms regarding book sales "in any format" or any author terms. (This even includes using e-retailers to convey information to other publishers.)

•The Justice Department exempted publishers' distributed lines from the restrictions as well as what appears to be publishers' participation in industry organizations and efforts. (The Department describes them this murky way: "output-enhancing industry standard-setting activities relating to e-book security or technology.")

•Unless granted an extension by the court, the settlement is in effect for five years.

Why HarperCollins and Hachette Are Settling

In statements, both HarperCollins and Hachette rejected the Justice Department's charges and indicated they are settling to avoid expensive legal battles against, as Hachette put it, "government plaintiffs with virtually unlimited resources."

Hachette said it settled "reluctantly" and "was not involved in a conspiracy to illegally fix the price of eBooks, and we have made no admission of liability." The company defended its adoption of the agency plan, which was "designed to facilitate entry by a new retail competitor and to increase the diversity and health of retail booksellers, and we took these actions knowing that Hachette itself would make less money than before the adoption of agency."

Hachette argued that the landscape for e-book sales had changed positively since the adoption of the agency model in 2010, writing, "Two years ago, Amazon effectively had a monopoly on the sale of eBooks and eReaders, and was selling products below cost in an effort to exclude competitors. Today consumers have multiple sources to choose from, and the price of dedicated e-readers has fallen dramatically. And the fact that 82% of Hachette's eBooks are currently priced at $9.99 or less--including many books by our bestselling authors--belies any notion that we increased prices on all eBooks."

Hachette called on the Justice Department and state attorneys general "to ensure that the market for eBooks remains diverse and competitive, and that we don't return to the days of monopoly, with one company controlling what and how people read eBooks."

For its part, HarperCollins said that it "did not violate any antitrust laws" and maintained that its "business terms and policies have been, and continue to be, designed to give readers the greatest choice of formats, features, value, platforms and partners--for both print and digital." Noting that it "faced legal challenges on five separate fronts," it said it "made a business decision to settle the DOJ investigation in order to end a potentially protracted legal battle."

HarperCollins argued that since it adopted the agency model in 2010, "the e-book market exploded, giving consumers more choices of devices, formats and prices that would never have existed but for the agency model." The company cited the launch of Apple's iBookstore and B&N's Nook Book Store; the reduction in e-reader prices; the introduction of "dynamic pricing of HarperCollins' e-books, including some titles priced under $2"; the introduction of color tablets and enhanced e-books.

John Sargent Speaks Out

In a statement, Macmillan CEO John Sargent said that the company adopted the agency model for e-books "knowing we would make less money on our e book business. We made the change to support an open and competitive market for the future, and it worked. We still believe in that future and we still believe the agency model is the only way to get there."

Macmillan had been in discussions with the Justice Department for months but decided not to settle because, Sargent said, "Macmillan did not act illegally. Macmillan did not collude." He called the Department's terms "too onerous," and said the terms "could have allowed Amazon to recover the monopoly position it had been building before our switch to the agency model. We also felt the settlement the DOJ wanted to impose would have a very negative and long term impact on those who sell books for a living, from the largest chain stores to the smallest independents."

He noted, too, that "the government's charge is that Macmillan's CEO colluded with other CEO's in changing to the agency model. I am Macmillan's CEO and I made the decision to move Macmillan to the agency model. After days of thought and worry, I made the decision on January 22, 2010 a little after 4 a.m., on an exercise bike in my basement. It remains the loneliest decision I have ever made, and I see no reason to go back on it now."

Sargent also quoted Scott Turow, president of the Author's Guild, who recently stated, "The irony of this bites hard: our government may be on the verge of killing real competition in order to save the appearance of competition. This would be tragic for all of us who value books and the culture they support."

Penguin Principles

For his part, John Makinson, chairman and CEO of Penguin Group, issued a statement saying that Penguin has weighed its options carefully and has been so against settling that alone of all five publishers, it held no settlement discussions with the Justice Department. It decided not to settle for two reasons, he continued. For one, Penguin did "nothing wrong. The decisions that we took, many them of them costly and difficult, were taken by Penguin alone." Furthermore, the Justice Department suit "contains a number of material misstatements and omissions, which we look forward to having the opportunity to correct in court."

The second reason, Makinson said, was "we believed then, as we do now, that the agency model is the one that offers consumers the prospect of an open and competitive market for e-books. We understood that the shift to agency would be very costly to Penguin and its shareholders in the short-term, but we reasoned that the prevention of a monopoly in the supply of e-books had to be in the best interests, not just of Penguin, but of consumers, authors and booksellers as well.

"We are of course in the business of making money for our shareholders, but our purpose as a company is to make entertaining and intelligent books for readers of all ages and tastes. We shall not achieve either of those objectives in the absence of competition or choice. The decision we took in January 2010 to move Penguin's e-book business to agency pricing has been vindicated by the very rapid subsequent growth in the volume of e-books sold by agency publishers, and by the benefit to consumers of the steep decline in the price of e-book readers that that has resulted from this open competition."


Of course, was happy with the settlement. In a statement, the company said, "This is a big win for Kindle owners, and we look forward to being allowed to lower prices on more Kindle books."

Incidentally, in a striking aside in the lawsuit, the Justice Department wrote, "From the time of its launch, Amazon's e-book distribution business has been consistently profitable, even when substantially discounting some newly released and bestselling titles."

American Booksellers Association CEO Oren Teicher said, "Today's DOJ filing is baffling. Following the implementation of the agency model at the end of 2010, the e-book market has become more competitive. There is more--not less--competition among retailers, and more--not fewer--examples of marketing and promotional efforts among publishers that have reduced prices. For the Department of Justice to challenge a business model that played an essential role in fostering a more competitive, diverse retail environment seems to turn logic on its head and is not in the best interest of consumers. While it's not yet clear what the full implications are of the legal action announced today by the DOJ with regard to publishers' pricing models for e-books, we believe one fact is very clear: There is nothing inherently illegal about the agency model, and--as ABA has strongly said in the past--we believe that fostering a more competitive environment is in the long term best interests of readers and book buyers." --John Mutter

Justice Department Sues; Three Publishers Settle

The Taker

Book Summary

On the midnight shift at a hospital in rural Maine, Dr. Luke Findley is expecting another quiet evening of frostbite and the occasional domestic dispute. But the minute Lanore McIlvrae—Lanny—walks into his ER, she changes his life forever. A mysterious woman with a past and plenty of dark secrets, Lanny is unlike anyone Luke has ever met. He is inexplicably drawn to her, despite the fact that she is a murder suspect with a police escort. And as she begins to tell her story, a story of enduring love and consummate betrayal that transcends time and mortality, Luke finds himself utterly captivated.

Her impassioned account begins at the turn of the nineteenth century in the same small town of St. Andrew, Maine, back when it was a Puritan settlement. Consumed as a child by her love for the son of the town’s founder, Lanny will do anything to be with him forever. But the price she pays is steep—an immortal bond that chains her to a terrible fate for all eternity. And now, two centuries later, the key to her healing and her salvation lies with Dr. Luke Findley.

Part historical novel, part supernatural page-turner, The Taker is an unforgettable tale about the power of unrequited love not only to elevate and sustain, but also to blind and ultimately destroy, and how each of us is responsible for finding our own path to redemption
To read an excerpt, go here
To read my review go here.

Hot Under Pressure does heat up in the kitchen and you better watch out of someone will get burned!

Beck is competing in the Rising Star Chef competition. Beck is the newest member to join the East Coast Team There are four teams competing in the competition. One of the other teams involves Beck's estranged wife, Skye.

This is the first time that Beck and Skye have been in the same room in a long time. Skye tells Beck that she wants a divorce. Beck is not ready to let Skye go without a fight. Beck makes a challenge with Skye. If Beck's team wins, then he will give Skye, the divorce she wants but not before spending one last night in the bedroom together. If Skye's team wins, then Beck will sign the papers. 

Hot Under Pressure is the last book in the Rising Star Chef series. If you have not read the prior two novels, than don't worry as this book can be read as a standalone novel. This book had some cooking in it but I would have liked to see a little more. As the concept for this book was about a cooking challenge like Top Chef. Which I love this show by the way. It is one og my guilty pleasures. It felt like the romance was the main focus. Although, the romance between Beck and Skye was not bad. They had chemistry. Hot Under Pressure does heat up in the kitchen and you better watch out of someone will get burned!

M.J. Rose and Fragrances


A sweeping and suspenseful tale of secrets, intrigue, and lovers separated by time, all connected through the mystical qualities of a perfume created in the days of Cleopatra--and lost for 2,000 years.

Jac L'Etoile has always been haunted by the past, her memories infused with the exotic scents that she grew up surrounded by as the heir to a storied French perfume company. In order to flee the pain of those remembrances--and of her mother's suicide--she moved to America. Now, fourteen years later she and her brother have inherited the company along with it's financial problems. But when Robbie hints at an earth-shattering discovery in the family archives and then suddenly goes missing--leaving a dead body in his wake--Jac is plunged into a world she thought she'd left behind.

Back in Paris to investigate her brother's disappearance, Jac becomes haunted by the legend the House of L'Etoile has been espousing since 1799. Is there a scent that can unlock the mystery of reincarnation - or is it just another dream infused perfume?

The Book of Lost Fragrances fuses history, passion, and suspense, moving from Cleopatra's Egypt and the terrors of revolutionary France to Tibet's battle with China and the glamour of modern-day Paris. Jac's quest for the ancient perfume someone is willing to kill for becomes the key to understanding her own troubled past.

M.J. Rose: I've been fascinated with lost fragrances since long before I started writing The Book of Lost Fragrances... since I found a bottle of perfume on my great grandmother's dresser that had belonged to her mother in Russia. Here is one of those lost fragrances that stirs the senses and the imagination... (researched and described with the help of the perfume writer Dimitrios Dimitriadis)

WEIL - CASSANDRACassandra was amongst a series of fragrances created to perfume furs released by Parfums Weil in 1936. A brief topnote of citrus ushers in a good measure of galbanum which cartwheels across a thick, arresting base of resinous benzoin, styrax, oakmoss and musk. There is a huff of sweetness present furnished by vanilla, and a resolute measure of ambergris which serves to intensify the composition. This perfume demonstrated opulence and refinement on a grand scale, and leaves many perfumistas yearning for its return.

About the Author:

M.J. Rose is the international bestselling author of eleven novels: Lip Service, In Fidelity, Flesh Tones, Sheet Music, Lying In Bed, The Halo Effect, The Delilah Complex, The Venus Fix, The Reincarnationist, The Memorist, and The Hypnotist. The Book of Lost Fragrances will be published in March 2012. Rose is also the co-author with Angela Adair Hoy of How To Publish And Promote Online, and with Doug Clegg on Buzz Your Book.

Rose is a founding member and board member of International Thriller Writers and the founder of the first marketing company for authors: As well as the co-founder of and the popular website

Rose has been profiled in Time magazine, Forbes, The New York Times, Business 2.0, Working Woman, Newsweek and New York Magazine. Rose has appeared on "The Today Show," Fox News, "The Jim Lehrer News Hour" and features on her have appeared in dozens of magazines and newspapers in the U.S. and abroad, including USA Today, Stern, L'Official, Poets and Writers and Publishers Weekly.

M.J. Rose lives in Connecticut with Doug Scofield, a composer, and their very spoiled dog, Winka. To learn more about M.J. Rose and her work, visit her website at:

Link to tour schedule:

Twitter Hashtag: #LostFragrancesVirtualBookTour

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Catherine Winslow is retired. She used to work for a major newspaper as a reporter. Catherine lives on a quiet street on Cloudland. Nothing is supposed to happen there. Well nothing like a dead body of a woman.

Catherine recognizes the woman, once she gets a good look at her. Her name is Angela Parker. She is the latest murder victim. Poor Angela, her body was dumped and not found until the snow started thawing.

Catherine didn’t plan on getting involved in the murder case but she can’t help it. It is her reporter instincts kicking in. She calls on help from her friend, Anthony, a forensic psychiatrist.

I thought that Mr. Olshan did a good job with this book. While, I was expecting more drama in the form of edge of my seat, nail-biting moments, I didn’t get this but I did get more character involvement and development.

I agree with another reader that I did find it took a long time for the story to progress and the killer’s identity to be revealed. It seemed like Mr. Olshan really wanted the reader to connect with the characters as I am sure they will appear again in a future book or series. I would classify this book as more of a classic who-dun-it novel than a gruesome murder mystery thriller. Cloudland is a poetic, mystery read that is filled with intriguing characters!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

7 Tips to Spice up your Sex Life and become a winner (Free book giveaway)

About the book:
• Have flannel pj’s replaced your silky negligees?
 • Are you more likely to nod off cuddling the remote—instead of your partner?
• Are you too tired for sex? • Is foreplay becoming “boreplay”?

Sure, being comfortable in your relationship is great. You can finish each other’s sentences, love your partner’s extra ten pounds, and know just the right buttons to push in bed (or at least think you do).

But too much comfort can strip your sex life of its XXX rating and render your love life . . . lifeless.

Overflowing with candid advice, tips, techniques, personal revelations, sexercises, and even a ten-step plan guaranteed to rejuvenate your relationship and keep you and your partner coming back for more, THE BIG, FUN, SEXY SEX BOOK proves that knowledge isn’t just power—it’s also pleasure!

To check out *ahem* informative excerpt, click here.

About the authors:

From playing Billie Reed on Days of our Lives to heating up Melrose Place as Taylor McBride to earning two Emmy nominations for Best Talk Show host for her show Soap Talk on SOAPnet to being featured on Oprah for her boutique belle gray (one of Oprah's "Celebrity Favorite Places"), Lisa Rinna has made a name for herself as an actress, a TV personality, and a businesswoman. In addition, she recently showed the world that she can not only dance but also look great in anything on Dancing with the Stars, and she launched a line of dance-themed workout DVDs called Lisa Rinna Dance Body Beautiful. She is also the author of the New York Times bestseller Rinnavation. A gorgeous celebrity with a killer sense of style, Lisa lives in Los Angeles with her husband (actor Harry Hamlin) and her two daughters.

Ian Kerner is a nationally-recognized sex therapist and New York Times bestselling author of books including She Comes First, He Comes Next, and Be Honest, You’re Not that into Him Either, amongst others, which have been translated into more than a dozen languages. Known for combining clinical insight with humor and personal warmth, Ian is a regular contributor to NBC’s Today Show and the CBS Early Show, a contributing editor to Cosmopolitan magazine, and CNN’s sex expert (for which his weekly web articles are often the most popular of the day). He is also the founder of, a new web destination for sex/relationship advice that brings together some of the world’s most renowned sex experts. Educated at Brandeis University and New York University, he was born and raised in New York City, where he lives with his wife, two sons, and toddler pit bull.

To win a copy of this book, US only. Leave a comment with your email address. Winner chosen April 20th


My Review

Present Day

Jac L’Etoile is a celebrity. She has a book out titled Mythfinders and a television show by the same name. What started out as a way to prove that myths are not real, has turned out to be something more. In the process of Jac’s show, she can not help but admit a little to herself that myths are built around some truth. Instead of following in her family’s foot steps and becoming a perfumer, Jac became an explorer of ancient myths.

One that is a myth…a perfume that is known as the fragrance of memory that Cleopatra supposedly manufactured. This is just a rumor that Jac’s family started in order to make their perfumes seem more exotic.

Jac will have to face her greatest myth when her brother, Robbie disappears. Prior to him disappearing, he had hinted to Jac that he found a great discovery related to the fragrance of memory and Cleopatra.

The Book of Lost Fragrances is the latest book in Ms. Rose’s Reincarnationist series. This book can be read as a stand alone novel. I have fallen in love with this author since her first book, The Reincarnationist. This series brings the best of both worlds…present and past in a good time travel type series.

Ms. Rose did a great job of describing in detail the scents. It was like I could smell every detail down to the last drop. If this book came in smell-o-vision, than it would be one sweet scent of intrigue, mythology, good characters, and a great story line!

I must admit that my favorite parts of this book where the past. While, I did like Jac and found her to be an interesting person, I felt that the strongest points of this book lay in the past. This book is probably one of my favorites in this series. What a fun time Ms. Rose must have had researching this book and trying out different perfumes. I can not wait to see what she has up her sleeve next

About the Author:

M.J. Rose is the international bestselling author of eleven novels: Lip Service, In Fidelity, Flesh Tones, Sheet Music, Lying In Bed, The Halo Effect, The Delilah Complex, The Venus Fix, The Reincarnationist, The Memorist, and The Hypnotist. The Book of Lost Fragrances will be published in March 2012. Rose is also the co-author with Angela Adair Hoy of How To Publish And Promote Online, and with Doug Clegg on Buzz Your Book.

Rose is a founding member and board member of International Thriller Writers and the founder of the first marketing company for authors: As well as the co-founder of and the popular website

Rose has been profiled in Time magazine, Forbes, The New York Times, Business 2.0, Working Woman, Newsweek and New York Magazine. Rose has appeared on "The Today Show," Fox News, "The Jim Lehrer News Hour" and features on her have appeared in dozens of magazines and newspapers in the U.S. and abroad, including USA Today, Stern, L'Official, Poets and Writers and Publishers Weekly.

M.J. Rose lives in Connecticut with Doug Scofield, a composer, and their very spoiled dog, Winka. To learn more about M.J. Rose and her work, visit her website at:

Link to tour schedule:

Twitter Hashtag: #LostFragrancesVirtualBookTour