Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend is an A+!

Reading this book made me feel like a child again. I loved Budo. I wished that I had such a vivid imagination as Max did with Budo when I was growing up. I never really had an imaginary friend growing up but this probably had to do with I had a younger sister to play with. She and I would make things up ourselves. However, if I was an only child, I would have wanted a friend like Budo. It was very creative of Max to give Budo the ability to walk through walls.

I do admit that at first I was a little leery as I was not sure where the story was going to lead and wondered how Mr. Dicks was going to put together a whole book about an imaginary person. I should not have worried. This book was an instant hit with me. I was hooked. Max and Budo stole the show. I have to agree with another reader that I did flash forward some in the book but not because I was bored but because I wanted to see what was going to happen next. I wanted to make that leap sooner. The ending was both good and sad. I won’t get into too much detail as I don’t want to give anything away. Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend is an A+!

The Midwife of Hope River

Review by Nancy

Patience Murphy didn’t start out to be a midwife. In fact, Patience Murphy began life as Elizabeth Snyder whose mother was a teacher and whose father was lost in Lake Michigan. Pregnant at 16 by her boyfriend, she lost the child, she married laser, killed that husband in error and moved with friends to the Appalachian mountains of Hope River, West Virginia to hide among the miners and hard working farmers.

There she became a midwife by lot, not by choice and was quite good at it. In the sad, joyful and revealing book, Patricia Harman tells of the women, mostly unlearned, their husbands - both black and white - and the KKK whose presence was, in the early 1930’s, returning to the area.

Patience lived hand to mouth, she delivered children that died, more children that lived and succeeded the 2 midwives before here. She became attached to the people, the land and the animals of the area. She bartered for food, flour, sugar and wood for her fire in the winter. She helped birth many a child, wasn’t always paid but carried on.

The author, herself a midwife, did an amazing amount of research before writing this story. Elizabeth helped with organizing Unions, hung out with Mother Jones and Samuel Gompers, she tried to do good but it didn’t always pan out. This is an excellent source of history along with herbalogy and animal care. This is a winning novel if I’ve ever read one!

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Monday, August 27, 2012

The Book of Tomorrow...Oh my! I fell in love with this book and did not want to put it down

Review by Nancy

When Tamara’s father commits suicide it renders her mother incapable of much. He also rendered their accounts in the red and the bank took the house in debt payment. They must break down their treasures and move from Dublin to the miniscule house owned by Arthur and Rosaleen, Jennifer’s relations in the country.

Things are odd and become odder as the novel reveals that there is much to be learned in the hills of Ireland. Tamara, a spoiled brat who is NOT happy with her current situation sets out to try to find things to do and to especially annoy Rosaleen who couldn’t be nice if she was given a million dollars. Arthur seems well meaning but basically has not clue as to the depths of Rosaleen’s thoughts.

Then comes a traveling library and Tamara notices a huge book, locked in fact and she must check it out. After getting it open she is amazed to see blank pages! But she doesn’t really want to write her thoughts down as it’s too depressing. She needn’t worry – in the morning when she opens the book the day’s activities are already accounted for. Before they happen.

I didn’t like this story at first, I wanted to pop Tamara and tell her to get a grip but, after putting it aside for a couple of days - Oh my! I fell in love with this book and did not want to put it down (alas, work intervened!). Excellent writing, above excellent plot and a cast of characters to love, hate and like. What could be better?

So if you want to make your dreams a reality, then you should check this book out.

I had to check this book out. I read Someday My Prince Will Come by Mrs. Fine and I had an enjoyable time reading that book. Also, As Mrs. Fine was a former Coloradoan, I had to support her. I so agree that Jerramy had to have been switched at birth. Her enthusiasm for the UK and Prince Charming is contagious. It is like Jerramy was raised in the UK and not Colorado all her life.

Ok, so Jerramy might not have been born in the UK but she did meet and marry someone from there. This helped to add to her knowledge of the place. So glad that Jerramy decided to share her wealth of knowledge in The Regal Rules for Girls. Don’t be fooled by the title as the book can also be read and enjoyed by grown women. Although, we just may not voice our dreams as loudly as the little girls that we have dreamed or still wish to meet and marry a prince and be swept away to his castle.

In this book, Jerramy helps provide you with the tools to snag yourself a prince. Hey Catherine did it! Even if you do not meet your royal prince, you still can meet a nice Englishmen and get married. If I was traveling to the UK, I would pack a travel guide book and this book. In this book you will learn how to act like you belong and are not just a tourist. Jerramy also inserts some humor into this book as well. So if you want to make your dreams a reality, then you should check this book out.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Sweet Life

In The Sweet Life: Too Many Doubts book three, Bruce Patman is losing it. Elizabeth has left him. Liz was suppose to have Bruce's back. Bruce can not just sit around and do nothing. He hires a private investigator to find the intern. The private investigator tracks down Robin. Bruce decides to confront Robin himself. This can only be bad news for Bruce.

Meanwhile, Sarah may have been fired from the Tribune due to Jessica but Sarah is finding confort in the arms of Todd. Jessica and Todd may have split but that does not mean that Jessica can not have some fun of her own. She and Liam are getting cozy. Liam is every woman's dream, so why can't Jessica stop thinking about Todd.

In this book, Lila is winning my over. Although, she is still spoiled, her estranged husband, Ken is showing Lila that he will not take any bull from Lila. Classic line by Lila "Are you kidding? All of life is high-school " This line when Jessica and Lila are talking about Lila's fake pregnancy.

While I did like seeing Steven Wakefield and his partner, Aaron and their daughter, Emma. I felt like their story did not fit with the rest of the story line and was just more of a side note. I am getting more invested in the characters story lines. I hope that Bruce finds the truth. I believe that Bruce is innocent and saddened that Elizabeth can not see this. Jessica may be up to her old tricks but she and Liam do not belong together. Lila will be found out about her fake pregnancy.

Jessica wants Todd back. Only now Sarah has her arms around Todd. Elizabeth believes that Bruce's competitor Rick Wagner, owner of Wagner Gas is behind Bruce's demise. She just needs to prove it. Then there is Lila. Her secret of her fake pregnacy is revealed. Now she has no chance of winning back her husband and she looks like the fool.

I don't like Sarah. I find her annoying and don't know what Todd sees in her. Elizabeth needs to wake up and realize that Robin is not who she says she is. Elizabeth is a big push over. I can not believe that she would have Robin's back over Bruce's. I wish she and Bruce would work things out. Jessica she needs to drop Liam. He is also annoying and needy. I am glad though to see Jessica trying to grow up and be a single mother. If Todd thinks that he is being nice helping Sarah out by letting her stay with hjim, he is dumber then I thought he was. Part of the realize that Todd is letting Sarah stay is because she is hot. That and Todd knows that Jessica hates Sarah. Him and Jessica need to work things out for their son's sake. Lila is finally learning what happens when you call wolf one too many times. I am addicted to this series

Jessica has decided to play the field now that she and Todd are officially spilt. Jessica decides to go out with her boss, Michael.

Elizabeth has finally discovered that Robin has been playing her for a fool. Elizabeth knows what she must do in order to when Bruce back. She must find out the truth once and for all. Even if it means losing her job as a repoter at the Tribune. Elizabeth learns that Robin grew up in Kentucky. Elizabeth heads to Kentucky as she knows this is where she needs to start at the beginning. Will Elizabeth help Bruce in time or will it be too late?

As this mini series is winding down, it is getting more interesting and picking up speed. Elizabeth's skill as a reporter shows some in this book. I actually felt bad for Jessica. She kept getting knocked down. However in Jessica fashion, she does not stay down for too long. No so much feeling the budding romance between Bruce and his attorney. If Bruce really cared for Elizabeth, he would hold out for a while longer. I can not wait to finally get the big reveal with the truth.

In this final book in this six book mini series, Lila reveals her real pregnancy. It is sweet justice that Lila was trying to win her husband back with a fake pregnacy but in the end she actually ends out to be really pregnant. Be careful what you wish for or I should say scheme for.

Elizabeth finds the missing link she was searching for in regards to the truth about Bruce. Jessica and Todd are back together and they are willing to try to work things out. Besides, makeup sex is so much more fun!

My suspicions were confirmed true. Although, I was disappointed that Elizabeth was not too bright to figure this out sooner. Although, she did try to redeem herself in the end. When the ending came, I was awaiting the happy news and to my shock, it did not come. Instead, I was left with my mouth hanging open in shock and yelling "No!" I blame this on Elizabeth and hoping that the ending is not truely the end and just a cliff hanger. While the writing for this whole series was not the greatest, it was still a fun mini series to read. Also, a nice revisit with the Wakefield twins and their friends.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The King's Damsel

Tamsin was just thirteen years old when she lost her father and brother. This was not a good time. To make matters worse, because Tamsin was not betrothed the matter was let with Sir Lionel Daggett. Sir Daggett is greedy. He wants it all. He insures that Tamsin is part of Princess Mary’s entourage. Mary soon becomes a favorite for her knack of being a story teller. Mary catches several men’s eyes. One being a merchant named Rafe Pinckney and the other King Henry.

The King’s Damsel is book five of the Secrets of the Tudor Court series. I have read every book in this series. However, I have to say that I was some what disappointed in this book. This was probably my least favorite book in this series. This was sad for me. I just was not feeling the characters. This in turn made the book read really slowly.

While, I liked Tamsin, I just did not believe the attraction between her and the king. Not to say that there was not some mystery woman that I am sure the king was wooing at the time that Anne and he was on the rocks prior to Jane but I did not see that woman being Tamsin. To be fair however Ms. Emerson does state in the back of the book that the king’s damsel’s identity is unknown and for this book Kate decided to make Tamsin that damsel. I knew that Tamsin’s heart belonged to Rafe and this is who I was cheering for to win Tamsin’s heart for good. I hope the next book is a winner.

Maddy’s Floor

Review by Nancy

In the Haven, a high-rate nursing facility people don’t usually go home. They are there to die. Except for those on Madeline Wagner’s floor – aka Maddy’s Floor. People go home from Maddy’s Floor; people heal on Maddy’s Floor. Then, suddenly, people start dying on Maddy’s Floor.

Maddy is a medical intuitive. She uses energy to heal her patient’s, to see where their problem areas are and to work on them until they release. Her patient’s love her, everyone wants to be on Maddy’s Floor – some more than others. Some will do whatever it takes to get there, blackmail, bribery, lie, cheat – kill? Maybe!

This book was a great story by itself but by adding in the energy plots it made it a winner! What an excellent tale! Romance, great sex, black snake-thingys and……Maddy using her energy the only way she knows how – to it’s fullest.

This is Book 3 in the Psychic Vision series. Books 1 and 2 are: Tuesday’s Child and Hide’n Go Seek. If they are anywhere near as good as this one you’d be in for a treat to read all three!

Purchase a copy here

Friday, August 24, 2012

Murder Takes Time: Friendship & Honor Series, Book One (Volume 1)

Review by Nancy

In this tale of “Friendship and Honor”, Frankie, Nicky, Tony, Pauley and others grow up in the streets of Wilmington, Delaware. They smoke at age 6, stealing cigs from Johnny’s Food Market (and, sometimes getting caught). Learning who’s who in the Families keeps them safe if not sound and working card games for them gives them more income than they would have ever imagined. It also gives them nicknames: Frankie “Bugs”, Nicky “The Rat”, Pauley “Suit” and Tony was – just Tony.

Times passes, some lives change and some never will. Bugs is now a detective investigating murders that have to be connected, even if he doesn’t want them to be. Guys from the street are dying in extremely nasty ways and he knows there are links but he doesn’t know to whom. And it’s getting clearer that he may be one of the intended victims.

This book is spell-binding. If you are worrying about the kids growing up on the streets you’re worrying about the streets after the kids have grown up. A study in good vs. evil vs. what could have been, Giammatteo writes as I feel he must have lived (or at least observed) and each boy’s family life is explained to show what makes them the men they become., Friendship and Honor. That’s what it all comes down to. It should last forever.

Purchase a copy here

Restricted Waters

Review by Nancy

When you became a certified diver at age 12 and your dad is the head of a prestigious university, you don’t think much about marching into a professor’s office and offering yourself up as a “slave” on her oceanic expedition. The future holds dire things for us – and it is now the time of the Fouling. A nasty, black substance which is taking over the ocean and has been for the past 50 years catches in ship part, blows engines and makes it impossible to ship necessary supplies around the world.

Into this comes Alannis Summers, the diver and the youngest of the crew. She is there to work, not to play and makes it clear to all aboard she has an independent mind. Which, of course, ends up getting her into trouble or we wouldn’t have a book!

Dr Warren and her underlings are desperate to find the cause of the Fouling, it is bringing down the entire world. She feels it has something to do with a group called The Commission who gathered together when the Fouling began to try to control it. They are secretive, scary and VERY territorial. They make all the rules and expect everyone to comply. There is an unsaid “or else” in everything they do. Then, Alannis meets Ra’Ook and things begin to get really interesting.

This YA book was well written and I can remember my girls acting just like Alannis at times. She depicts the headstrong heroine as soft inside and having a clear conscience about her actions. The rest of the adults on the boat are well done, too. I think it was a little too “stiff” here and there but when things become tense, they become tense! Not a great book for under maybe 14 but it is good reading and you can learn a lot and think a lot.

Purchase a copy here

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thursday at Noon

Review by Nancy

A worn-out, alcoholic CIA agent, the ruler of Egypt, Abdel Gamal Nasser, two of his best friends, and English bartender, a Germn scientist and his daughter make up the main folk in this thriller about rockets, loyalty and the next Cold War. A total study in contrasts in the early 1960’s of Egypt as the Moslems want it, as the Us Ambassador thinks he wants it and as Thomson, the agent knows it really is.

Something is in the works and several men have died for it. Thomson was nearly on of them but his body recalls maneuvers his mind has forgotten and, while he does manage to take his share of hits and kicks; he manages to survive. A Metro Police Detective thinks he has the answers but doesn’t, the idiot Ambassador knows he does, but doesn’t. In fact, the only person with the real answers is no of Nasser’s boyhood friends, the Colonel Ali Rashid, whom Nasser trusts completely and Thomson, whom no one believes.

What a ride this book was! Reading about this time in our past was worth the reading but the plot – what a plot! It could have happened, it may have happened. We don’t really know but it is one heckuva good tale and it all becomes scarily clear - Thursday at Noon.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Dying to Read

Review by Nancy

Clair’s career has not been who one would call successful. She’s been a gardener (a few days), an elf at the Mall (a few weeks) worked as a teacher (hated giving lessons!) and she’s nearly thirty! So, when her Uncle Joe takes pity on her and hires her as an assistant PI she’s a little nervous. That nervousness turns into full terror when she tries to find the young lady involved in her first (and only!) case.

Clair knows Willow Bishop is living with an elderly lady as cook and companion. She has the address and off she goes, hopes high. They fall a bit when she finds the entire Whodunit Book Club clustering at the front door of Amelia Peabody’s home. Amelia isn’t answering the door and, when they do get in it’s obvious why – she’s dead at the bottom of the back stairs. The cook, Willow is nowhere to be found and suspicions rest on her. Although a total “witch” at times, Amelia is rich – and Willow’s reputation is a bit tarnished, shall we say?

Clair dives into who killed Amelia. Each and every lady in the Book Club has motive, Willow doesn’t seem to, there’s a “sorta” fiancé who’s not a nice guy…who to follow? On top of this, Clair goes looking for Willow at her old places of employment and meets Beverly, a wheelchair bound matron who seems to be missing her wedding ring. Beverly’s handyman Mitch is luscious and ‘way too interested in Clair to pay much attention to crimes.

This book was so enjoyable! Funny, a bit romantic, good guys, bad guys, badder guys and Octavia – the totally white, deaf cat of Amelia’s who knows nothing but contributes everything to Clair’s peace of mind. There are great characters- good plots, no cursing and no real bloodshed – if you don’t count the body at the end of the stairs. A good read for summer or any other time.

“Available August 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Other Woman. It was fast paced, had lots of drama, and a strong female lead.

Jane Ryland was a top reporter. That is until she would not reveal one of her sources, which caused her news station to be sued for a million dollars. Now Jane finds herself starting at the bottom of the food chain. Although, Jane is not satisfied by writing fluff stories. Jane decides to do some investigation into the rumor about Senator Lassiter and his secret mistress.

Meanwhile, Detective Jake Brogan has two bodies. Both women who have been found near bridges. He does not want to admit there is a serial killer, even when the media has already dubbed the killer the “Bridge Killer”
Jake does not want to admit that his and Jane’s stories might be connected in the beginning. Especially when Jane’s mystery source ends up as one of the murder victims. Soon though, Jake does have to admit that Jane is right, when all his clues point to the same person.

I did read Mrs. Ryan’s Charlotte McNally series and enjoyed it. This is why I was excited when I saw Mrs. Ryan’s latest book, The Other Woman. This book did meet my expectations. It was fast paced, had lots of drama, and a strong female lead.

I liked Jane. She is what I picture Hank as being in her role as an investigative reporter. Someone who is dependable, hard working, has a nose for the truth and how to get it and deliver it.

Jane and Jake’s relationship is very professional. While I do respect this, I do hope that at some point as the series progresses that Jake and Jane’s relationship does get more romantic. One other minor issue I had with this book was the different characters. There were two intertwined storylines happening at the same time with Jake’s investigation and Jane’s. Which I had no problems with until all the different characters got introduced as there were a lot of people out for revenge and betrayal. Once, I figured who all the major players were then I was fine. I could sit back and enjoy this book. A good start to a new series.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


In Robuck’s new novel, HEMINGWAY’S GIRL (New American Library; September 2012; $16; ISBN: 978-0-451-23788-0; Trade Paperback Original), she tells the story of protagonist Mariella Bennet in Depression-era Key West. A tough yet beautiful half-Cuban, half-American young woman, Mariella works hard to support her mother and two sisters after the sudden death of her father. One evening, she meets two men who will shape her life forever—the infamous writer Ernest Hemingway, and Gavin Murray, one of the WWI veterans stationed nearby while building the Overseas Highway. Soon Mariella is surrounded by extravagance and the jealousies of an often unstable Hemingway and her priorities are tested as she struggles to care for her family, overcome temptation, try to forge a life of her own and ultimately survive one of the largest disasters in history—the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane.

Purchase a copy here

I have 1 copy to give away to a lucky reader. US or Canada. Just leave me a comment with your email address and winner will be chosen September 1st.

Beauty to Die for

Juliette and her business partner, Didi are heading to Palm Grotto Resort to talk about their beauty product line JT Lady. It looks like it is going to be a good weekend. That is until Juliette bumps into her rival, Raven. It seems that Raven is also heading to Palm Grotto Resort for some rest and relaxation. How much is the cost of beauty worth…murder? It seems that it is as Raven is murdered.

This book sounded like a fun, chick-lit, cozy mystery. This book for me was just ok. The reasons for this is because Juliette seemed so wishy-washy. One moment Juliette would feel bad for Raven and the next moment Juliette would be upset with Raven. This bugged me with Juliette as she jumped off the handle too quickly without getting all the details. I know this had to do with her and Raven’s past. In addition, I would think that Juliette is a smart woman being a business woman and all but she didn’t really show it all the time in this book. It was amazing that other Didi would have to explain things to Juliette in such great length before she got it.

Also, I felt that this book could have been shorten about a hundred pages. It felt like it took a long time for the story to pick up speed and then it was a steady pace all the way to the end. A nice combined effect by Kim Alexis and Mindy Starns Clark.

The Other Woman's House

Connie Bowskill can not sleep. She decides to get up and check out check out houses for sale. Connie already knows before the website has finished loading which house she is going to look at. It is 11 Bentley Grove. Connie is obsessed with this house. Although, Connie already knows every detail about this house, she decides to take the virtual tour. The first slide is of the kitchen and then the next slide is of the lounge. This is where Connie spots her. The woman lying in a pool of blood. At first Connie can not believe her eyes. Then Connie wakes up her husband. Only when he comes to check out the computer screen, the woman’s body and the blood are both gone. Is Connie going crazy? What does this all mean?

I have seen Sophie Hannah’s books all over but I just have not had the chance to read one until now. When I read the book summary about this one, I thought it sounded intriguing and one that I had to check out. This book was intriguing and had a psychological feel to it as well that was creepy (in a good way). However after a while, I started to go tried of the slow pace the story had and flashed forward until about the last several chapters of the book. Which I did not feel like I missed anything by doing so. The last several chapters are where the whole plot was revealed. It just took a long while to get to the ending.

While, this book can be read as a stand alone novel, there was a lot of hinting to back story and history that the main characters had with each other that I felt was some what important to the story. For this reason, I do wish that I had read all the other novels in this series. What I did read from this book, I did like. I will check out more of Mrs. Hannah’s prior novels.

Buried on Avenue B is a gritty murder mystery that will have you along for the ride!

Darlene O’Hara is a homicide detective with the Homicide South. This division does not see much action, however when there is a crime or murder then it is a big deal and the media is all over it.

A woman comes to the police station. She says she wants to report a possible homicide. The woman is a home health aide. She works for a man named Gus Henderson. Gus tells the aide that he buried a guy under a tree on the corner of Sixth Street and Avenue B. There is a park there with a big tree. Dar does not believe the story but decides to check it out anyways. She and Augustus Jandorek get more then they bargained for. There is a body but it is of a small child. Now, Dar and Jandorek have a real murder case on their hands. They are joined by Connie Wawrinka.

I have never read any of Mr. De Jonge’s work before. I am not too much of a fan of Mr. Patterson’s so this is the first time for me to see what Mr. De Jonge brings to the table with his writing style.

While, I was not fully invested in all the secondary characters, I did enjoy Dar, Jandorek, and Wawrinka who are the main characters which is important. The pace of the story moved at a quick pace. Also the chapters were only a few pages long so that made a difference as well. There were a bunch of characters thrown in the mix. Dar would investigate one and then bounce to the next and the next.

Some readers had a problem with the racism in this book but it did not affect me or take away from the story. Not to say that I am in favor of racism but just that I knew where all the rage was coming form. It was part of the story to show the reason for the murder. Buried on Avenue B is a gritty murder mystery that will have you along for the ride!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Wurst is Yet to Come is a fun, quirky, cozy mystery!

Judith and her cousin, Renie are traveling to Little Bavaria for Oktoberfest. They are going there to help their bed and breakfast business and get a mini vacation. Of course, where Judith goes, trouble ensues. For example a murder. Even when Judith and Renie try to avoid trouble, they find themselves in the middle of the investigation.

The Wurst is Yet to Come is a fun, quirky, cozy mystery! Judith and her cousin, Renie made a comical duo. I thought it was funny that Judith was known as “Fasto” the acronym of the website for all of Judith’s fans. The website is called Female Amateur Sleuth Tracking Offenders.

Judith and Renie are such polar opposites but this is what made them work so well together. Judith has the sharp eye and brains whereas, Renie is more of the loud mouth and is great for causing distractions. While, I thought this book was charming, I also wished that I could have gotten into it more. The rest of the characters, I did not find interesting and after a while, they started to get on my nerves. If it was not for Judith and Renie then the murder would never be solved. The police it seemed never did much of anything and the only time that they followed up was if Judith and Renie gave them a lead. Overall, not a fun read.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Kingmaker’s Daughter deserves a royal spot on your bookshelf!

Isabel and Anne Neville are the daughters of Richard Neville. Their father is known as the “kingmaker”. He is the guy that helped groom and turn Edward into King Edward. Edward and Richard were good friends until Edward married. His queen did not like the Neville’s and instead turned to the Rivers as her friends. Richard and Edward eventually could not agree on their political reviews and Richard decided to restore Henry Tudor VI to the throne. A way that Richard tried to do so was by marrying his eldest daughter, Isabel to George, Duke of Clarence.

One thing that I got to say about Ms. Gregory is that she sure does know how to make history come alive. It was nice to actually read about someone other then Anne Boleyn. Not that I don’t like Anne but I have heard her tale told so many times now that I want to get myself more familiar with other famous people in history.

After reading about Isabel and Anne Neville and what they had to endure with their father and mother, all I have to say is “Be careful what you reap and sow” Mr. Neville learned this the hard way. He lost his live for his desires and gains. To be used as pawns for your father in a deadly game of “Risk”. Of course after getting to know Isabel and Anne better, my feelings towards them did shift a bit. Isabel grew to be hateful and Anne she was clever.

I could tell that Ms. Gregory really likes writing about time period books as she did not gloss over anything in this book. In fact, as much as I did enjoy reading this book and this was a good thing at over four hundred pages, enjoying this book helped to make the time pass along quicker. However I did skim some in the middle as I wanted to get to the meat of the story. The Kingmaker’s Daughter deserves a royal spot on your bookshelf!

Live Video Chat with Philippa Gregory on August 29th.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

House of Mercy

Beth Borzoi is a vet. She loves animals and healing them. A friend of Beth’s calls for help. There is a problem with his horse. Beth comes out to check on the horse. As payment, Beth’s friend gives Beth a nice gesture unfortunately the gesture has serious consequences. The outcome brings a lawsuit, the death of a horse, and a family divided. As if all this was not enough, Beth is visited by a wolf, who she names Mercy.

This is the second book I have read by author Erin Healy. The first one was Kiss, co-authored with Ted Dekker. So getting to actually really experience Erin’s writing style was a pleasant one.

This book surprised me in a good way. I was not expecting the whole mythical “wolf” aspect in this book. This intrigued me to see where Erin was going with Mercy and the messages that he had for Beth. It seemed that Mercy was the only friend that Beth had. I found her family to be way too critical for my taste. Especially Beth’s older brother. He was really mean to Beth as if the accident was something that Beth purposing planned to have happen. Then what I found funny was when Beth’s mother told Beth that they all needed to stick together as a family yet after the accident happened, Beth’s family turned against her.

Another thing that did drive me a little nuts was at the beginning of the book, Beth stole a saddle yet from Jacob but yet, I never really knew why. This would not have bugged me much yet there was tension when Beth and Jacob did interact briefly and at the end of the story, Jacob forgave Beth but why?

Do check out the inspiration for Mercy.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Going to the Bad is a nice cozy, mystery

Lilly Hawkins is at the news station when she hears about a shooting. The shooting is at Lilly’s place. Lilly fears the worst at first. Rod, Lilly’s boyfriend has returned home. Lilly thinks it is Rod but then discovers it is still bad as it is Lilly’s Uncle Bud.

Lilly can not just stand by and wait for the police to figure out what happened to her Uncle Bud. Lilly takes matters into her own hands and discovers some family secrets that someone wants hidden. How high is the price…murder?

Going to the Bad is the second Lilly Hawkins novel that I have read. This is a nice cozy, mystery series. Love Lilly. She is the back bone of this series and the superstar. She seems to always find herself in the middle of a story or murder. Although, she always finds her way out of the sticky situation. Lilly may want to think about switching from “shooter” to news reporter.

I felt bad some for Rod. He was just trying to help and protect Lilly. He is a good guy. Although, the romance between them is lacking somewhat as Lilly is too busy getting out of jams. Not too many surprises in this story but still a fun and quick read.

Who is the Siren of Paris by David Leroy

The Siren of Paris by David LeRoy.

It is possible that someplace out there a book exists that deals with the point of view of a native French Nazi Collaborator; however I was not able to find one. I don’t think that is a mistake. The French have practiced a form of collective denial about their role in the occupation. At times they have been accused of focusing upon the resistance they gave the Nazis and marginalizing their collaboration.

My problem was that in the middle of The Siren of Paris, I expose the reader to the secret world of collaboration and betrayal, but I had no model for what that really looked and felt like. What does a collaborator want? How does a collaborator view the French Resistance? Ultimately, how does it feel to have been a collaborator once France had been liberated? Answering these questions became the most difficult part of my research, and ultimately, as with all tragic figures, the answers did not always help me understand the choices of such individuals.

One overarching common characteristic among the hard-core collaborators was that they harbored a personal vendetta against the previous government, known as The Third Republic. Many French found the Third Republic to be an embarrassment due to its notorious bureaucratic ineffectiveness and ineptitude. Once I started to look for this attitude, I saw it over and over again in the tone of various newspaper articles. This is how I discovered the story of the horse stampede of Orleans. A newspaper reported the disgust and anger of the local population of Orleans that the government had called for the gathering of horses for the army, yet never collected them, and they became a target for the German Luftwaffe on June 13th, 1940. Notice that the slant of the story is not how evil the German Luftwaffe was, but how tragic it was that the French government could not even organize and use the horses provided by their own population.

A second common element of French collaborators was a hatred for the English. From their point of view, the British had pressed France to rush into this war with Germany, and when the tide turned, the British did not stand by the French, but evacuated to their island kingdom. The flip side of Dunkirk was the nagging sense of abandonment by the British in the hearts of the French. The Germans were well aware of this attitude and used it continuously in radio announcements, billboards, and newspaper headlines, portraying themselves as actually rescuing France from the British.

The third element was the most important of all, and that is they were true believers. These people honestly did believe that Hitler was at war against communism. Many people believed in the conspiracy theories that the Jews were responsible for the fall of France and the corruption of European society. While based on misinformation and bigotry, this belief was widespread among ordinary people and exacerbated by Nazi propaganda. This true belief was the engine of motivation that drove these people to carry out the betrayal of their own country. They believed in a higher cause against an imaginary enemy, however misguided that cause might have been, more than they believed in their countrymen.

To call such people cowards or traitors does nothing but demonize and separate them from the rest of us, providing the reader with the illusion that they are superior to these evil people. I decided to take another path in The Siren of Paris. Instead of portraying the main collaborator as a sociopathic lunatic, or a mean spirited authoritarian personality, I expose the reader to the life of this person before the fall of France, demonstrating that at one time they were just like everyone else, trying to survive and win the war. The character has a family, job, hopes and dreams for the future. The character arc then goes into the world of collaboration, which is motivated, at the core, by fear and victimhood. The end is tragic, as it was for most of the collaborators.

Many were rounded up and sent to Drancy Prison, which had been a sub-station concentration camp used by the Germans. Over the course of four or five years, it is estimated that perhaps as many as 10,000 French were murdered or executed for collaboration, during the period known at the purge. One account I read was of a woman who went mad when her head was shaved in public, then disappeared and was found as a recluse 40 years later. Many of the women actually did not live very long, but instead were found floating in the Seine River due to unexplained murders.

A few readers have objected to my portrayal of a collaborator as being a little too incredible to be true. How could a woman betray her own lover and take such an active role in the entrapment? The character is actually based upon a historical figure that I discovered through my research. In the book, I do not reveal her ultimate fate, however in life, she died in 1947. After the war, she took up the practice of sunning herself in the open window every single morning, until one day she was simply shot to death. I believe she completely knew the risk of such behavior, and perhaps even welcomed the bullet as the end of her abject shame, guilt and remorse for her role during the war. It was a tragic end to a life that likely had a lot of promise before June 14, 1940 when the Germans rolled into Paris. Be warned, my dear reader, lest you judge this Siren harshly, for we abhor that which often lurks within our own soul's shadow. I choose to base my character on this person not to continue her humiliation in death, but to serve as guide and teacher on the dark side of human nature, which dwells within us all.

David LeRoy

Author of The Siren of Paris.

David Leroy did extensive research on the German occupation of France for his debut novel The Siren of Paris. This historical novel follows the journey of one American from medical student, to artist, to political prisoner at Buchenwald Concentration Camp during World War Two.

Marc, a French born American student, never suspected that he would become trapped in German occupied France when he came to Paris in the summer of 1939 to study art. While smuggling a downed airman out of the American Hospital, through the Paris resistance underground, his life is plunged into total darkness when someone he trusts becomes a collaborator agent for the Gestapo. Marc then must fight to save his soul when he is banished to the “Fog and the Night” of Buchenwald, where he struggles with guilt over the consequences of having his trust betrayed.

You can purchase The Siren of Paris in Kindle e-book format from Amazon -- http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0088CA098  and learn more about this author and novel at http://www.thesirenofparis.com

For more information about this virtual book tour, please visit -- http://bookpromotionservices.com/2012/05/22/siren-of-paris-tour

The Sweet Life: Lies and Omissions

The Sweet Life: Lies and Omissions book two continues with Jessica, Todd, Elizabeth, Bruce, Lila and Ken. In this book, readers find that Jessica and Todd's relationship is on the rocks still. Jessica has made a big mistake. She slept with Liam O'Connor. Jessica figures though that it was a one time thing and as long as Todd does not find out, she can make things right and get her family back together.

Elizabeth has found Robin Platt. She is the intern that is accusing Bruce of sleeping with her. Once Elizabeth hears Robin's story, Elizabeth starts having doubts about Bruce's innocences. Especially, when Bruce's story has some holes in his story. With Elizabeth wanting to protect Robin, her and her relationship with Bruce becomes strained.

Lila is determined to win back her husband, Ken Matthews. She will not let some other housewife have her husband. Steven Wakefield and his partner, Aaron are adjusting to their life together with their baby girl, Emma.

Caroline Pearce is Sweet Valley's resident bitch. This is why when she learns that Jessica and Liam slept together. She can not wait to spill the beans on this juicy gossip.

First off, I like the concept of this mini series of books. It is like reading about a soap opera. With the old Sweet Valley books, the twins did find themselves in trouble but nothing that they could not deal with and usually by the end of the book, everything was back to normal. Not this time. Grown up Elizabeth and Jessica have to deal with the real world.

Jessica is her usual self. She gives into temptation too easy and falls into bed with Liam. Still not too sure about her and Todd together. While, I know Elozabeth and Todd probably would not have lasted, I still can not picture Jessica and Todd as a couple who have a son. Todd has trust issues with Jessica. I can not blame him.

There is no change with Elizabeth either. She falls for Robin's story too easily. Not to say that maybe it is true but if she really loves Bruce like she says she does, then she would have his side until she learns the truth. Also, Lila is acting like a spoiled brat. She has a great husband in Ken but she of course can not see it until it is too late.

Steven and Aaron make a nice couple with their daughter Emma. However, their story did not really help add anything to the main story line.

I am getting into this series more and more. I am hooked. This series is a guilty pleasure without all the calories. Can't wait to see what craziness happens in book three.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Siren of Paris...Secrets

Book Description

Publication Date: June 1, 2012

In German occupied Paris, a group of unlikely people join in collaboration to smuggle Allied airman south to Spain. One of those intrepid heroes happens to be American. The Siren of Paris, the debut work of historical fiction by David LeRoy, tells a searing story of love, betrayal, forgiveness, and war that brings to vivid life the shimmering City of Lights during its darkest hours during World War II.

The story starts in 1939, when Marc Tolbert, the French-born son of a prominent American family, takes off for Paris to follow his dream of becoming an artist. Marc’s life soon sparkles in the ex-pat scene in Paris. His new friend Dora introduces him to a circle that includes the famous Sylvia Beach, owner of the bookstore Shakespeare & Company; and he accepts a job with William Bullitt, US ambassador to France. At art school, he finds himself further enchanted by the alluring model Marie.

Marc’s Parisian reverie, however, is soon clouded over by the increasing threat from Germany. As Americans scramble to escape Paris, he finds himself trapped by the war, and nearly meets his fate on the disastrous day of June 17, 1940, aboard the RMS Lancastria. Upon returning to Paris, his fate grows more troubled still, as he smuggles Allied airman through the American Hospital to the Paris Resistance underground, until a profound betrayal leads him into the hands of the Gestapo and onto Buchenwald.

Rigorously researched and vibrant in historical detail, The Siren of Paris reimagines one of history’s most turbulent times through the prism of an American abroad in Europe’s most harrowing days. Poignant, gripping, and thought-provoking, The Siren of Paris mines the human dilemma of revenge versus forgiveness, and vividly captures the conflicted state of survival.

Author: In writing his first novel, The Siren of Paris, David LeRoy drew upon his longtime interest in philosophy, the visual arts, myth, storytelling, psychology, and Ocean Liner travel. During a visit to France to study art in the fall of 2012, LeRoy was increasingly intrigued by the French Resistance, particularly when his research revealed the role of Americans in the Resistance, as well as the limited means of escape from Europe as the war escalated. LeRoy holds a bachelor of arts in philosophy and religion.

Book excerpt

Just then, the screen went bright white and the sound cut off. “Film, film,” called out several voices in the crowded theater as the lights flashed on.

“The film must have broken,” Marc said, as he looked back at the projector room. He could hear the film reel slapping against the projector. The lamp then went dark as an usher came to the front of the theater.

“It will be just a minute,” he said in both English and French.

The crowd stopped their chorus of complaints and the usher walked to the back of the theater. The screen came alive again. A cannon fired. “S.” A second fired, “C.” Then a third fired, “A.” “Service Cinémathèque Agencier” flashed over the screen. The newsreel was French.

“Eleventh of May, morning in France: Our civilian population count is already 150 deaths and almost 400 wounded from that dumping of bombs from planes as systematic as blind in its rage on a number of our cities and villages having no military value,” the voice spoke with a frantic speed.

A car rushed down a street. Men held a hose of water on the rubble of a burning building. A baby carriage rested on the edge of a second-floor flat where the wall had fallen away. A total silence fell over the theater. The film had sound but there was no narration. The sound of distant rifle shots rang out through the speakers.

A single woman with a cart walked past a burned-out storefront. An old man stared aimlessly at an overturned truck crashed into a building. A cabinet full of dishes was open to the street and the wallpaper blew in the wind where the edge gave way. The filmed spanned house after house where walls had been blown apart, revealing the personal items of the people who once called them homes. People shifted from side to side as they studied the screen in a trance. The wind was the only sound on the film, then the noise of a plane passing overhead. Marie let go of Marc’s hand and put it in her lap. Marc looked straight ahead and did not turn to her. A young child began to cry a few rows in front of them, complaining that she wanted to see the cartoon.

On the screen, young school boys in uniform searched through the broken walls of their school. A man grabbed bicycles out of the wreckage of his business. An old woman and her daughter loaded a cart outside of a two-story building with pock holes all across the front. The screen flashed scenes of young and old men, women, and children picking through their houses, loading what they could carry.

Two minutes passed before there was a single voice on the film. The room felt like it was holding its breath. Marie’s hand covered her mouth. Marc grew uncomfortable with the silence. A mother got up with her son and made for the rear of the theater. By now, a few of the children in the theater had become upset.

A man sat outside his house with a bandaged foot. Another man pulled on the jacket of someone dead in the street. A woman with a head bandage wandered through the wreckage. Policemen pulled at bricks, trying to free a trapped person. Others carried a man down the street on a stretcher. It was too much for another woman and her two children sitting near the front. They got up and walked down the aisle. A second person followed her as she cried, pulling the children who complained bitterly of not staying to see the film.

Marc studied the screen as a church appeared with part of the roof gone. In the pews was a briefcase and purse left in a haste. The wall collapsed into the pews until it reached the lectern, like an ocean wave rising upon a beach. Marie could not look away from the screen. Another man near them got up and left the theater, pushing through the crowed back rows of standing people. The newsreel continued without a single voice. Marc wondered if the projectionist would check the film to make sure it had fed correctly. He was puzzled by the lack of voiceover. Rapid gunfire barked out in the distance. The wind whispered through the speakers.

A sign outside a building said “no school today.” People swept the floor of a building clearing debris. “May 10, eating too much will make you ill,” flashed as it was left scrolled in French on a school chalkboard, followed by “5689 divided by 23…” A woman got up from the center aisle with a crying young girl. Marie whispered, “My God,” under her hand as the shock of the scene overtook her. A child’s bag hung on a peg. Another student’s bag rested on the top of a desk dusted with shattered glass.

A child with an eye bandage cried on a hospital bed. A young boy with a head and nose bandage smiled to the camera. Nurses cared for another bandaged woman covered in a bed. She was wearing smart clothes, as if she had been at the bombed-out church.

Five eternal minutes passed before a single voice was heard over the speakers. The march of raw footage across the screen had become too much for many of the parents and children in the theater. A few tried to calm down their children, but even some of the adults struggled to hold back their emotions. Marie got up
and started for the aisle. Marc followed her out through the people standing three deep at the rear doors.

"They lied to us,” Marie said to Marc in the lobby. “They lied in the papers. They tell us what we want to hear.” She started to cry.

LeRoy, David. The Siren Of Paris

You can purchase The Siren of Paris in Kindle e-book format from Amazon -- http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0088CA098  and learn more about this author and novel at http://www.thesirenofparis.com

For more information about this virtual book tour, please visit -- http://bookpromotionservices.com/2012/05/22/siren-of-paris-tour

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Devil in Silver

Pepper has just been arrested for assalting several police officers. Instead of being booked in the jail, Pepper is admitted to New Hyde Hospital, mental hospital. The police officers say that Pepper needs to be evaluated for several days. That and the jail has no more room. Pepper does not like the idea of staying in a hospital but what choice does he have. Pepper soon meets a wide variety of people at the hospital.

The first night, Pepper's roommate is waking Pepper up demanding a quarter to make a phone call. Soon Pepper realizes that it is not the other patients that Pepper has to worry about but the "devil". A strange creature that comes during the night leaving his mark and screams can be heard when he visits. Who is he and what does he want?

I am a new reader to author, Victor Lavalle. This book was odd in a good way. It was more character driven and psycological. I am really impressed reading about where Mr. Lavalle wrote this book. Mr. Lavalle wrote it sitting at a Dunkin Donuts.

Pepper and Dorry were my favorites. They were polar opposites but as they say "opposites attract". Dorry was crazy but at times, I wondered to what degree of crazy? Yes, Dorry may have been a patient at New Hyde Hospital for a long time but when she spoke, she actually made sense that you wanted to listen to her. She was like the crazy person that kept you entertained but at the same time you wanted to stray away from getting to close to her.

Pepper was the newbie. He started out as just a normal person but by the end of the story, I believe that he was turning just as crazy as the rest of them. Of course, I can not imagine being in a place like New Hyde Hospital and hope I never have to experience a place like it. I can imagine that the longer you stay in a place like New Hyde Hospital, where the staff don't care about you and are just trying out experiments on you, then you could become crazy like Pepper.

To be honest, the "devil" did not come as a surprise to me. I knew right away who the devil was. I just wanted to know what his intentions were. This is one book that will keep your attention throughout the whole thing from beginning to end. The Devil in Silver is worth a second and third look.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Age of Desire

My Review

I have never heard of author, Edith Wharton until now. I can not rightfully say what drew me to this book to want to check it out but glad I did. While, I didn't really fall in love with this book or Edith, I did think that Mrs. Fields did a wonderful job of telling Edith's story. I could tell that Mrs. Fields had a respect for Edith and Paris. She told Edith's story as honestly and truthfully as she could by incorporating letters and diary entries from Edith. I liked the world that Mrs. Fields and Edith both painted of Paris. It seems like a nice place to visit and not as just a touristy area. It was not wonder that Edith could not stay away from there for long. However, I found that in ways, Edith was childish and mean. Childish in the way that Edith wanted everything her way and if things did not go to her expectations then she threw a fit. Also, childish in her love affair with Morton. She baited him. Although not to say that he was not innocent as he did know what he was getting into with Edith. I think at first Morton was memorized by Edith and who she was. Although for me I could not see why Edith fell in love with Morton other than maybe because he was American and two because Edith wanted to feel loved again.

I felt sorry for Edith's husband. He was trying to be a good husband but Edith was turned off by him and in turn she rallied aganist him. She was mean to him to the point that when he was sick with gout that he hoped he died. One from the pain and two because he knew Edith did not care for him.

Anna was kind and had the patience of a saint. It was amazing how she dealt with Edith for as long she she did until her death. I think that part of the reason that Anna and Edith did get along so well was because of Anna's quiet demeanor. She did not react to Edith and then in turn Edith was kind to Anna and loved her as her dear friend. Overall, I was more fascinated by Paris and Mrs. Fields story telling then I was by Edith's story. This does say a lot about Mrs. Field and the talent she has.

Q&A with Jennie Fields, author of THE AGE OF DESIRE

The relationship between Edith and Anna is very complex. Did you always plan on making their troubled friendship central to the book, or did it grow out of your research?

It wasn’t until three months into the writing of the book that I decided to add a secondary protagonist, someone who could view Edith objectively. Anna Bahlmann seemed the perfect character as she was with Edith on and off since her days as Edith’s governess until the year Anna died in 1916. To have kept Anna with her so long, I assumed they must be very close, but biographers had hardly mentioned her.

Then after I’d already written many chapters of the book, a miracle occurred. Over 100 letters from Edith to Anna which had been moldering in an attic came up for auction at Christies! Everything I supposed about their relationship was true. They were loving and close since Edith’s childhood, and she trusted Anna with a great deal. I grew more and more intrigued with this shadowy figure.

Questions began to arise. Why, for instance, during the summer after the onset of Edith’s affair with Morton Fullerton, was Anna suddenly sent to Europe on a trip that was considered a gift from Edith? Earlier, in letters to other people, it was clear Edith was upset and even annoyed when Anna wasn’t around to help her, so why was it arranged for them to be suddenly so much apart? Though I have no hard evidence that Anna was disturbed by Edith’s relationship with Fullerton, many events suggested she’d been sent away. I wanted Anna to be the book’s conscience. If Edith was unhappy, disturbed by her splintering relationship to Morton, it made sense she’d send Anna off on a trip.

Another intriguing coincidence is that I had created a warm alliance between Anna and Teddy. After I’d written most of the book, I found letters from Edith to others that said that Anna was a calming influence over Teddy on his worst days, the only one patient enough to sit with him, that he was asking for her—exactly as I had written it.

Anna supports Edith’s writing as a typist, early reader, and—in a way—editor. Did Edith ever include Anna in her Acknowledgements? How did Anna’s involvement in Edith’s work complicate their relationship?

Though she never acknowledged Anna publicly as far as I know, in letters directly to Anna, she thanked her. In fact, in one letter early in Edith’s writing career, she sent Anna the check she received for a story saying, “The story is so associated in my mind with the hours that we spent in writing it out together, & I owe its opportune presentment & speedy acceptance largely to the fact that you were here to get it written out at a time when I could not have done so, that I have a peculiar feeling about your having just this special cheque & no other as a souvenir of our work together.”

In her published biography, A Backward Glance, she spoke warmly about her relationship to Anna when she was a child “my beloved German teacher, who saw which way my fancy turned, and fed it with all the wealth of German literature, from the Minnesingers to Heine.”

But in a later autobiographical fragment that was never published she said, “My good little governess was cultivated & conscientious, but she never struck a spark from me, she never threw a new light on any subject, or made me see the relation of things to each other. My childhood & youth were an intellectual desert.”

If she is referring to Anna in this sentence, (I hope she is not) it saddens me a great deal. In any case, I believe Edith saw Anna as something of a servant. She certainly did straddle Edith’s world and the world of the household staff, as beloved and essential as she seemed to be. At the same time, Edith generously took Anna on foreign trips, out to dinner and to the theatre with her. Without Edith, her life might well have been merely that of a teacher.

As I have written Anna, she sees her place in life as a helpmate and accepts that Edith is the chosen one. She is proud of her association with Edith and content with her place in life.

Edith Wharton is one of your favorite writers. How did that influence your writing?

Well, I must say, I felt very conscious of the language I used. I wanted it to be appropriate to the era, hard-working and beautiful all at once. I could never dream of writing as exquisitely as Edith. I often get chills when I read her writing. If angels could write, they’d write as she did. The music of her language is instructive and breathtaking. But I tried to write in a way that I felt might please her. Also, I often started my writing sessions by reading a few pages of one of her books. I never get tired of her books, no matter how often I read them.

The book follows Edith’s sexual awakening. What was it like writing sex scenes for such a well-known writer?

Not many people know this, but when Edith died, among her effects, her literary executor found some pornography that she’d penned. There was nothing shy about this work. It was bold, shocking, and also, of course, exquisitely written. While I did not use any of the language of this piece (named Beatrice Palmato, for those who are curious—and yes, it’s on the internet) it did instruct me as to how she viewed sex and passion, and gave me insight into what excited her.

Paris figures heavily into the book. What did the city mean to Edith? What’s your relationship to Paris and did it figure into the writing of the book?

Edith adored Paris. It was everything that New York wasn’t: culturally oriented, worldly, beautiful. She found New York society closed and stifling. She blossomed when she finally moved to France full-time, and her devotion to France is clear in how she helped the women of France during World War I with her workrooms and charities. (France awarded her the Cross of the Legion of Honor for her work during the war.) She had loved Paris as a child, and even more as an adult. And of course, she fell in love with Morton while in Paris. That would forever insure a place for Paris in her heart.

There was a period where I did not like Paris. I found it jostling and sad. But about the time I began the book, I also began a new relationship to Paris, and fell in love with it all over again.

By the end of the book, Edith’s husband Teddy is not a very sympathetic character. Did you know much about Teddy when you began this project? Did you find yourself taking sides?

I knew nothing of Teddy when I took on the project, but it wasn’t long before I discovered that he suffered in later life from Manic Depression at a time when people didn’t know what to make of that or how to treat it. Truthfully, I see Teddy as a very sympathetic character who married a woman unsuited to him, and then, distraught, fell victim to mental illness (which seemed to run in his family.) If Teddy could have spent his later years at the Mount with his pigs and horses, he might have been a much happier man. Edith was an intellectual. Teddy was anything but. Yet, he adored Edith. And for a long time, he was a kind and patient husband to her. Thinking of Teddy’s life saddens me.

You were an advertising creative director before becoming a novelist. Both are creative, but in different ways. How did your past career help in your current one?

My advertising career has affected my fiction writing in myriad ways. For one thing, I am always conscious of trying to tell a story in the least words possible. After years of cramming twenty thoughts into thirty seconds, one gets pretty good at writing minimally! Advertising also taught me to be disciplined, to work well under strict deadlines, and to work every day. What I loved in advertising also interests me in my fiction: to solve puzzles. The tighter the strictures of the assignment, the more intrigued I am. I love being creative in a small box. This came into play with this book. I had to tell a story that already existed but I had to shape it into a book. It was a Rubik’s Cube. The elements were all there, but they needed to be twisted into the right order to create a satisfying pattern. Also, I was forced to read between the lines. Edith kept such clear diaries; her life was mapped out almost daily. But what really happened at the theatre that night? Why did Anna leave at that time for New York? Why did Morton act the way he did? It was a delicious puzzle and I very much enjoyed solving it to my satisfaction. I hope I’ve done Edith’s life justice.

What’s your writing regimen?

Generally, I walk in the mornings and do errands. I write in the afternoons. Usually I read starting at 1 or 2 pm. (While I was working on THE AGE OF DESIRE I always read something by Edith). Then, with a strong cup of tea I get down to work by three. I write in my writing room, a large old sleeping porch with windows on three sides overlooking my backyard. I sit in a comfortable chair with an ottoman, my MacBook Pro on my lap. I rarely write more than three hours at a time, usually less. But it’s extraordinary what three dedicated hours can generate as far as pages. If I get five good pages a day, I’m thrilled. But not every day can be a successful day. I always take weekends off—perhaps a holdover from my years in advertising. My brain needs time to recharge!

What’s next for you?

I am writing a book about a woman caught up in the radical anti-war movement of the 1960s. She is a woman in her late thirties who married young and had no youth. She goes back to college, and gets drawn into the Weather Underground. I’ve always been intrigued with how people who were advocates of anti-violence could justify their increasingly violent activities.

Broken Harbor will make you wondering how much can a person take before they snap!

It has been two years since Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy has scored himself a prime case. He has been stuck dealing with little crime cases like drug dealers. Although Scorcher does work hard to make sure the bad guy does not escape. He is number 2 in the rankings as far as cases that have stuck.

Scorcher's boss gives Scorcher the golden opportunity that he has been waiting for. A murder case involving a family. The father and two children have been murdered and the wife is barely hanging on in the hospital. For Scorcher this was suppose to be a easy open and close case. Scorcher is joined by his rookie parter, Richie. The more involved that Scorcher and Richie get with the case, the more bizarre that it gets. Like what is with the big holes in the wall? As if the pressure of solving a big murder case was not enough, Scorcher has to deal with his mentally unstable sister.

I liked Scorcher. He was a by the book kind of guy, which is not a bad thing but you could also tell that Scorcher had the experience. In addition, determination that each case is not just a case but a personal one where the bad guy does not end up on top. This was no different. Although, this case was more psychological then it was just a straight up murder case. Mrs. French really takes her time to build up the story and to reveal the events that led up to the murder. While, I did appreciate this at the same time, I felt that the lead up to the murder could have been shortened. Also, I was lacking the interaction with the victim. Don't know if this was intentional to keep me from figuring out all the pieces of the puzzle sooner rather then later. When I did get to know the Spain family, it felt a little rushed. I honestly did not know the motive to the murder until the reveal at the end. Although, I had a pretty good idea of who the person was responsible for the murders. Getting to know more about Scorcher and his family was nice. It made him human and gave me a better connection to him. The way he cared for his sister was sweet. Broken Harbor will make you wondering how much can a person take before they snap!


Tana French is the author of three bestselling novels, including the award-winning In the Woods. She has won the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, and Barry awards for Best First Novel and the IVCA Clarion Award for Best Fiction, and has twice been a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Best Mystery/Thriller. She lives in Dublin with her husband and daughter.

A Conversation with Tana French


We first met detective Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy in Faithful Place and he was regimented and unlikable. What made you turn this character around in Broken Harbor? One of the things I like about writing ‘chain-linked’ books, where a secondary character from one turns into the narrator of the next, is that it gives me the chance to explore how complex and subjective identity can be. One person’s view of another is likely to be skewed, and almost certain not to be the whole truth. In Faithful Place, Frank Mackey sees Scorcher Kennedy as a pompous, rule-bound, boring git – but that’s because of who Frank is and what he needs to see. From Scorcher’s own viewpoint, he’s much more complicated than that, much more intense and much more deeply broken.Broken Harbor opens with a triple homicide of the Spain family, including the murder of two young children and their subsequent autopsies.

How were you able to write about such a horrific crime in graphic detail?

Well, the autopsies are skimmed over to a very large extent, precisely because I didn’t want the book to become about gory graphic detail. To me, the most crucial and devastating thing about any murder isn’t the physical act; it’s the immense emotional and psychological implications – both the psychological process that leads to the killing, and the enormous fallout after the crime. When you’re writing about something really terrible, the physical detail is actually relatively easy to write, because you’re focusing on making sure that it’s technically accurate and you don’t give someone a subdural hematoma in the elbow, or whatever. Writing the psychological autopsy – the scene where you find out why these murders happened – was a lot tougher than writing the physical ones.

Maybe this sounds strange, but what keeps me writing through the tough bits is a sense of responsibility. If I’m going to write about devastating crimes, I’ve got a responsibility to do it right. I don’t want to make the killers into two-dimensional shorthand versions of evil; I don’t want to minimise the victims into simply props who have to exist in order for the story to get underway. I’ve got a responsibility to try and show the full impact that these crimes have.

The Spains lived in Brianstown, a half-built and abandoned housing development that represents the boom-and-bust times in Ireland . Why was it important to you that Broken Harbor evoke the current financial crisis?

Rant alert.

I didn’t go in with the intention of evoking the financial crisis. But in Ireland today you can’t walk down the street, open a newspaper, go to the pub, without some reminder of it. It permeates the air.

And the people who’ve taken the brunt of it are my generation, the thirty-somethings. During the boom, the government and the banks – for reasons that are a tangle of deep corruption and deep stupidity – were constantly telling us that we had to buy on these middle-of-nowhere estates, it was the only smart thing to do, it was our only chance of ever having a home . . . My husband and I were probably lucky that we were so broke we couldn’t have bought a shed, never mind a house. But thousands and thousands of people our age – like the Spains – didn’t have that luck. They did what everyone was telling them was the right thing. And now they’ve been left stranded in houses they can’t afford, on half-built estates that will never be finished, trying to understand how doing the right thing could possibly have taken them down such a horribly wrong path. That haunts me. When I was writing Broken Harbor , it’s not the financial crisis I was trying to wrap my head around; it’s the immense psychological crisis that it’s created.

ow did you become so expert on police procedures?

I’m lucky: I know a retired detective who’s been kind enough to help me out with a huge range of questions, as well as telling me the stories that give me some feeling for what that life is like. When it comes down to it, though, I often ditch the reality in favour of what works for the story. To take the most obvious example, there’s no Murder squad in Ireland – but In the Woods needed to have that tight-knit, elite, hothouse atmosphere, so I invented one. I still need to know the reality, though. If there are inaccuracies in these books, I want them to be because they benefit the story, not because I goofed.

Both In The Woods and The Likeness are being adapted into feature films by Paramount . If you were the casting director, who would you cast as the lead characters and why?

I honestly don’t have a clue. Partly this is because I still find it totally impossible to believe that they’ll ever be actual films (!!), but mainly it’s because I picture the characters as themselves; the idea of someone else playing them is very weird to me. But I’m a big believer in acting, in the way a truly great actor can vanish completely in order to give a character the space to come to life. So a big part of me doesn’t mind who gets cast – whether they look or sound anything like the way I imagined the characters – as long as they’re good.

How has your background in theater shaped the way you write/reach out to your audience?
I definitely write like an actor, and I think acting was great training for writing. Deep down, it’s basically the same skill: your job is to create a real, complex, three-dimensional character and draw your audience into his or her world, deeply enough that they go away feeling like they know this person intimately. Every now and then I get an e-mail from someone who feels like the characters have become close friends. It’s probably the best compliment I can get.

There are also practical advantages to the acting background. If I write a line of dialogue and then realise that, as an actor, I couldn’t say that, or if I have a character do something and then realise that I couldn’t play that, then I need to do some rewriting.

Your characters are multidimensional, are they based on real people? Anyone you know?

No, I don’t base characters on real people. I think that would be limiting: if you’re writing about a real person, you’re stuck with what that person would actually do and say and feel, and that might not be what your story needs. I like letting the characters grow in tandem with the story, so that the themes and the plot and the characters are all inextricably intertwined – the story couldn’t have happened to anyone else.

I do steal phrases that I overhear, though. In Faithful Place, one kid calls another ‘you golf ball’. I stole that. It was way too good to go to waste.

As Janet Maslin of The New York Times wrote, “Ms. French keeps chain-linking her novels together, so that a supporting character in one becomes the protagonist of the next.” What is your process for deciding which character will go on to be your next protagonist in the next novel?

I get interested in secondary characters, as well as in the narrator. Somewhere along the way (so far, at least – touch wood), that leads me into thinking about a secondary character’s story – what might be the crucial case that shapes his or her life.

It doesn’t always work out the way I plan it, though. When I was finishing Faithful Place , my plan was to have my next narrator be Stephen Moran – the young detective who becomes Frank’s sidekick/minion. But the more I thought about the vague idea I had for Broken Harbor, the more it became clear that this was a book about following the rules; about what happens when you follow all the rules, you do everything you’re supposed to do, and then the rules let you down utterly. That’s not something that would be particularly important to Stephen, but it’s at the heart of who Scorcher is. So gradually it became obvious that this was Scorcher’s story.

What are you working on next and do you care to tip your hand as to who from Broken Harbor will be the protagonist in your next mystery?

Stephen Moran is finally getting his turn this time! And Holly Mackey, Frank’s daughter from Faithful Place, is back. She’s sixteen now, and she’s shown up at Stephen’s work with a postcard she found on her school’s ‘secrets board’. The photo shows a boy who was murdered on the school grounds, a year ago. The caption says, ‘I know who killed him.’ And, since I figure out the plot as I go, that’s basically all I know…

Chating Provocateur with Charles Martin

Book Summary

Provocateur explores that aspect of the human experience that surrounds the age-old contest between men and women. It is the story of Nadia, a young Russian woman who comes to America through a mail-order-bride program. She becomes employed in an enterprise operated by an ex-CIA agent named Olga, whose agency, through clever missions, extracts large amounts of money from wealthy men.

 her “assignments” Nadia must get the best of powerful men that are at the top of the male order.

Nadia, born an orphan, rises out of a life of poverty and despair, where she had no experience with affection, to face her struggles and take on the challenges of her “profession.” She is a complex, enigmatic woman of superior intelligence who must “win” through her finesse and feminine prowess.

Guest post

To me the contest between male and female members of the species is very interesting. The literature is rich with novels that look at the interaction between men and women through romance. I have chosen to look at their engagement from another viewpoint; that of the struggle of each to manage/control the other. This is a contest of skills, but an uneven matchup where the strengths that each gender brings to the playing field are very different.

This offers a literary venue to celebrate the powers that women have over men in an amusing way. Many have been surprised to see this written by a man, especially an admitted alpha male. One reviewer cited me as being a male women’s libber. That is really not true.

I don’t even like women’s libbers. They have too heavy of an agenda, one that assumes that women are subjugated to men.

 a way, I believe that I am a connoisseur of women… a man that appreciates them in a very refined way. I study their attributes and examine them in great granularity. I am particularly fascinated by intelligent, independent-thinking women. I find them very interesting and sexy…regardless of their physical appearance. However, my male instincts show through in my appreciation for beauty. When I examine it closely, I see it in many dimensions. There are a wide range of ways that beauty is expressed in nature and in the female homo sapien creature. It’s not just Hollywood’s iconic version. It’s not just in the young either. As a woman ages, as she experiences the rich texture of life, she can take on a special beauty that is very different from a young woman.

That’s what interests me!

All of us men secretly know where the power lies. Perhaps it has never been said better than in a Harry Belefonte song from the 1950s.

From a song in the 1950s by

Harry Belafonte

Lyrics by Jack Segal

I say let us put man and a woman together

To find out which one is smarter

Some say man but I say no

The woman got the man de day should know

And not me but the people they say

That de man are leading the women astray

But I say, that the women of today

Smarter than the man in every way

That’s right de woman is uh smarter

That’s right de woman is uh smarter

That’s right de woman is uh smarter, that’s right, that’s right

Garden of Eden was very nice

Adam never work in Paradise

Eve meet snake, Paradise gone

She make Adam work from that day on

Methuselah spent all his life in tears

Lived without a woman for 900 years

One day he decided to have some fun

The poor man never lived to see 900 and one

Author Bio
Charles D. Martin grew up in a small Ohio town. His parents were poor, but by working two jobs, he was able to put himself through college – he studied 5 majors (physics, mathematics, chemistry, electrical engineering and business) at Ohio State University.

Martin has been fortunate to enjoy much success in life. He had a distinguished career in venture capital and private equity, ounding two highly successful investment firms that he managed during the decades of the 1980s and 1990s. Currently he runs a hedge fund, Mont Pelerin Capital, LLC, and serves on the investment committees of prominent universities.

Martin has extensive background in finance and technology, and has travelled to the exotic locations featured in his debut novel Provocateur (August 2012). However, the novel itself is more about the intrigue in the story and the alpha female that takes on dominant males and conquers them.

Martin lives with his wife Twyla in a coastal town south of Los Angeles, California.

AUTHOR WEBSITE: www.ProvocateurBook.com

FACEBOOK: Provocateur-Book

TWITTER: @ProvocateurBook

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