Saturday, February 28, 2015

{Review} THE ORBITAL PERSPECTIVE: LESSIONS IN SEEING THE BIG PICTURE FROM A JOURNEY OF 71 MILLION MILES by Astronaut Ron Garan

ISBN #: 978-1626562462
Page Count: 208
Copyright: February 2, 2015
Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers; 1st Edition


Book Summary:
(Taken from the inside flap)

For astronaut Ron Garan, living on the International Space Station was a powerful, transformative experience--one that he believes holds the key to solving our problems here on Earth.

On space walks and through windows, Garan was struck by the stunning beauty of the Earth from space but sobered by knowing how much needed to be done to help this troubled planet. And yet on the International Space Station, Garan, a former fighter pilot, was working side by side with Russians, who only a few years before we're "the enemy". If fifteen nationalities could collaborate on one of the most ambitious, technologically complicated undertaking in history, surely we can apply that kind of cooperation and innovation toward creating a better world. That spirit is what Garan calls the "orbital perspective".

Garan vividly conveys what is was like learning to work with a diverse group of people in an environment only a handful of human beings have ever known. But more importantly,  he describes how he and others are working to apply the orbital perspective here at home, embracing partnerships and processes to promote peace and combat hunger, thirst, poverty, and environmental destruction.  This book is a call to action  for each of us to care for the most important space station of all: planet Earth.  You don't need to be an astronaut to have the orbital perspective. Garan's message of elevated empathy is an inspiration to all who seek a better world.


Lupe's Review:

Astronaut Ron Garan takes us up in space and back down to earth again in his book about changing your perspective and being more globally aware.

I really wanted to like this book, and many times I did. Mr. Garan is an incredible story teller - when it comes to the actual stories he is telling. Unfortunately, to me, this read more like a college term paper than a call to action. He ends his chapters by SAYING he is ending the chapter and what we can expect from the next chapter. Now some people might say ," Well its not fiction of COURSE he is going to do that." But I've read books by Stephen Hawking, who writes his books so people without any basic grasp of science can read them, and NEVER USES THAT APPROACH. It literally made me crazy. Also, he uses his own title so much in the book that I took to just circling how many times I saw it than reading what the book was even saying.

I was pretty disappointed,  which sucks, because I really wanted to like it. I was really excited to read it. The message Mr. Garan is trying to get across is an important one - too bad his writing didn't reflect that.


*a physical copy was received in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, February 27, 2015

{2015 Amazing Book Race Challenge Review} AS YOU WISH: INCONCEIVABLE TALES FROM THE MAKING OF THE PRINCESS BRIDE by Cary Elwes

ISBN #: 978-1476764023
Page Count: 272
Copyright: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Touchstone; First Edition


Book Summary:
(Taken from Goodreads)

From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.

The Princess Bride has been a family favorite for close to three decades. Ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories and by the Writers Guild of America as one of the top 100 screenplays of all time, The Princess Bride will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come.

Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to never-before seen photos and interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets, backstage stories, and answers to lingering questions about off-screen romances that have plagued fans for years!

With a foreword by Rob Reiner and a limited edition original poster by acclaimed artist Shepard Fairey, As You Wish is a must-have for all fans of this beloved film.


Lupe's Review:

"Hello. I am Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

The movie, the book, and now this beautiful memoir are all you need to complete your collection of William Goldman's masterpiece The Princess Bride. Such an iconic book that was translated beautifully to screen, even though many didn't realize it at the time, has turned into a sensational cult classic that has lasted generations.

Cary Elwes, the beloved Westley, narrates this tale of meeting director Rob Reiner, being cast, meeting cast and all the highs and lows of being on set. But this isn't just any movie set. This is the set of The Princess Bride, where magic, mayhem, romance, swashbuckling, swordfights and humor combine into the most perfect of all perfect movies. Cary takes us on an inside look at how hard it could be to film scenes with Andre the Giant-not because he was a giant, but because of his health issues. Or how he found out Mandy had already began training on how to swordfight and had a leg up on him (no fair!). Robin was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Billy made Mandy injure himself because he was trying NOT to laugh! I mean, as I was reading this story, all I could see were these actors, who are so HUGE now (in stardom) becoming this family who ate together, hung out together, acted together, practiced together and even after 25 years, were still as close as ever.

I was laughing, crying, laughing through tears, crying through laughter. This whole book really makes you take on a fresh perspective of the work that went into making this incredible film, and how hard everyone worked to make sure that the film stayed true to the book that William Goldman had written. So much of this book makes me want to go back and re-watch the movie just so I can say "Oh THAT'S what Cary was talking about! OMG SO FUNNY!" There are tales in here that seem to be as tall as Andre was, but are oh so very true.

If you are a fan of The Princess Bride, be it movie or book, plese make sure you read this. It would be inconcievable if you didn't.

"And, if they'd like to know a little bit more about how their favorite film was made, as seen through the eyes of a young actor who got much more than he bargained for, then all I can say is...As you wish." - Cary Elwes, Intro

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

{Blog Tour: Excerpt, Review, & Giveaway} THE GIRL WITH A CLOCK FOR A HEART by Peter Swanson

The Girl with a Clock for a Heart

by Peter Swanson

on Tour January 6 - February 28, 2015




Book Details:


Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Literary
Published by: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: January 6, 2015
Number of Pages: 304
ISBN: 9780062267504
Purchase Links:


Synopsis:

Already optioned for film, The Girl with a Clock for a Heart is Peter Swanson’s electrifying tale of romantic noir, with shades of Hitchcock and reminiscent of the classic movie Body Heat. It is the story of a man swept into a vortex of irresistible passion and murder when an old love mysteriously reappears.
On an ordinary Friday evening at his favorite Boston tavern, George Foss’s comfortable, predictable life is shattered when a beautiful woman sits down at the bar, a woman who vanished without a trace twenty years ago.
Liana Dector isn’t just an ex-girlfriend, the first love George couldn’t quite forget. She’s also a dangerous enigma and quite possibly a cold-blooded killer wanted by the police. Suddenly, she’s back—and she needs George’s help. Ruthless men believe she stole some money . . . and they will do whatever it takes to get it back.
George knows Liana is trouble. But he can’t say no—he never could—so he makes a choice that will plunge him into a terrifying whirlpool of lies, secrets, betrayal, and murder from which there is no sure escape.
Bold and masterful, full of malicious foreboding and subtle surprises, The Girl with a Clock for a Heart is an addictive, nonstop thriller—an ever-tightening coil of suspense that grips you right up to its electrifying end.


Read an excerpt:

Prologue

It was dusk, but as he turned onto the rutted driveway he could make out the perimeter of yellow tape that still circled the property.

George parked his Saab, but left the engine running. He tried not to think about the last time he’d been to this almost-hidden house on a dead-end road in New Essex.

The police tape was strung in a wide circle, from pine tree to pine tree, and the front door was plastered with red and white tape in an X pattern. He turned off the engine. The air conditioner stopped blowing, and George almost immediately felt the smothering heat of the day. The sun was low in the sky, and the heavy canopy of pine trees made it seem even darker.

He stepped out of the car. The humid air smelled of the sea, and he could hear gulls in the distance. The dark brown deckhouse blended into the woods that surrounded it. Its tall windows were as dark as its stained siding.

He ducked under the yellow tape that declared police line do not cross and made his way toward the back of the house.

He was hoping to get in through the sliding-glass doors that opened into the house from the rotted back deck. If they were locked, he would throw a rock through the glass. His plan was to get inside the house and search it as quickly as possible, looking for evidence the police might have missed.

The sliding doors were plastered over with police stickers but were unlocked. He entered the cool house, expecting to be consumed with fear once he was inside. Instead, he felt a surreal sense of calm, as though he were in a waking dream.

I’ll know what I’m looking for when I find it.

It was clear that the police had thoroughly searched the property. On several surfaces there were the streaky remains of fingerprint dust. The drug paraphernalia that had been on the coffee table was gone. He turned toward the master bedroom on the east side of the house. It was a room he had never been in, and he opened the door expecting a mess. Instead, he found a fairly neat space, a large, low-ceilinged bedroom with a king-size bed that had been made up with floral sheets. There were two low bureaus opposite the bed, each topped with a plate of glass.

Faded Polaroids were pinned under the grimy glass. Birthday parties. Graduations.

He opened the drawers, found nothing. There were some old items of clothing, hairbrushes, perfume bottles still in boxes, all with the dusty, floral smell of mothballs.

A carpeted stairwell led to the lower level. As he passed the landing by the front door he tried hard to keep the images out of his mind. But he looked extra long at the place where the body had fallen, where the skin had turned the color of not skin.

At the bottom of the stairs, he turned left into a large finished basement, musty-smelling and windowless. He tried the wall switches, but the electricity had been turned off. He pulled the small flashlight he’d brought out of his back pocket and cast its thin, dim light around the basement. In the center of the room was a beautiful vintage billiards table with red felt instead of green, balls scattered randomly across its surface. In the far corner was a high bar area with several stools and a large mirror engraved with the logo of George Dickel Tennessee Whiskey.

In front of the mirror was a stretch of empty shelf that he imagined had once held an array of liquor bottles, long since emptied and thrown away.

I’ll know what I’m looking for when I find it.

He returned upstairs and looked through the smaller bedrooms, both of them, searching for any sign of their most recent occupants, but found nothing. The police would have done the same, would have bagged as evidence anything that struck them as significant, but he had had to come and look for himself. He knew he’d find something. He knew she would have left something.

He found it in the bookshelf of the living room at eye level in a wall of books. It was a white hardcover book, slipcovered in plastic as though it had once belonged to a library, standing out among the other books, most of which were technical. Boating manuals. Travel guides. An ancient set of a child’s encyclopedia.

There was some fiction on the shelf as well, but it was all mass-market paperbacks. High-tech
thrillers. Michael Crichton. Tom Clancy.

He touched the book’s spine. The title and the author’s name were in a thin, elegant red font. Rebecca. By Daphne du Maurier.

It was her favorite book, her one and only favorite book. She had given him a copy the year they had met. Their freshman year of college. She had read parts of it out loud to him in her dormitory on cold winter nights. He knew passages by heart.

He pulled the book out, ran his finger along the deckled edges of its pages. It fell open at page 6. Two sentences were boxed by carefully drawn lines. He remembered that it was the way she marked books. No highlighter. No underlined passages. Just exact outlines around words and sentences and paragraphs.
George didn’t immediately read the marked words; the book had fallen open not by chance but because a postcard had been tucked between its pages. The back of the postcard was slightly yellowed with age. There was nothing written on it. He turned it over and looked at the color image of a Mayan ruin, standing untoppled on a scrubby bluff, the ocean in the background. It was an old postcard, the color of the ocean too blue and the color of the grass too green. He turned it back over. “The Mayan Ruins of Tulum,” the description read. “Quintana Roo. Mexico.”

Chapter 1


At five minutes past five on a Friday night, George Foss walked directly from his office to Jack Crow’s Tavern through the gluey air of a Boston heat wave. He’d spent the final three hours of work meticulously proofreading a rewrite on an illustrator’s contract, then staring numbly through his window at the hazy blue of the city sky. He disliked late summer the way other Bostonians disliked the long New England winters. The weary trees, the yellowing parks, and the long humid nights all made him long for the crisp weather of autumn, for breathable air that didn’t make his skin stick to his clothes and his bones feel tired.

He walked the half-dozen blocks to Jack Crow’s as slowly as he could, hoping to keep his shirt relatively sweat-free.

Cars jockeyed along the narrow Back Bay streets attempting to escape the funk of the city. Most residents of this particular neighborhood would be planning their first drinks of the evening at bars in Wellfleet or Edgartown or Kennebunkport, or any of the seaside towns within reasonable driving distance. George was happy enough to be going to Jack Crow’s, where the drinks were average but where the air conditioning, monitored by an ex-pat French Canadian, was routinely kept at meat-locker temperatures.

And he was happy enough to be going to see Irene. It had been over two weeks since he’d seen her last, at a cocktail party thrown by a mutual friend. They had barely spoken, and when George left first she had thrown him a look of mock anger. It made him wonder if their on-again off-again relationship had reached one of its periodic crisis points. George had known Irene for fifteen years, having met her at the magazine where he still worked. She had been an assistant editor while he was in accounts receivable. Being an accountant at a well-known literary magazine had seemed the perfect job for a man with a literary bent but no literary talent. Now George was business manager of that particular sinking ship, while Irene had worked her way up the ranks of the Globe’s ever-expanding website division.

They had been a perfect couple for two years. But those two years had been followed by thirteen years of diminishing returns, of recriminations, occasional infidelities, and a constantly lowering set of expectations. And while they’d long since given up the notion that they were an ordinary couple with an ordinary destiny, they still came to their favorite bar, they still told each other everything, they still occasionally slept together, and, against all odds, they’d become best friends. Despite this, there was the periodic need to clarify their status, to have a conversation.

George didn’t feel he had it in him this particular night. It had nothing to do with Irene; in some ways his feelings toward her hadn’t changed in about a decade. It had more to do with how he felt about life in general. Approaching forty, George felt as though his world had been slowly drained of all its colors. He’d passed that age when he could reasonably expect to fall madly in love with someone and raise a family, or to take the world by storm, or to have anything surprising lift him out of his day-to-day existence. He would never have voiced these sentiments to anyone—after all, he was securely employed, living in the fair city of Boston, still possessed of all his hair—but he spent most days in a haze of disinterest. And while he was not yet pausing in front of funeral homes, he did feel as though he hadn’t looked forward to anything in years. He had no interest in new friends or new relationships. At work, the paychecks had grown but his enthusiasm for his job had wavered. In years past he had felt a sense of pride and accomplishment with the publication of each monthly issue. These days he rarely read an article.

Approaching the tavern, George wondered what kind of mood Irene would be in tonight. He was sure to hear about the divorced editor at her office who had asked her out several times that summer. What if she agreed, and what if they became serious and George was finally thrown all the way to the curb? He tried to summon an emotion but instead found himself wondering what he would do with all the spare time. How would he fill it? And whom would he fill it with?

George pushed through the frosted-glass doors of Jack Crow’s and walked directly to his usual booth. Later he realized he must have walked right by Liana Decter sitting at the corner of the bar.

On other evenings, cooler ones, or ones when George was less dispirited about his lot in life, he might have surveyed the few patrons at his local tavern on a Friday night. There might even have been a time when George, catching sight of a lone curvy woman with pale skin, would have been jolted with the possibility that it was Liana. He’d spent twenty years both dreaming of and dreading the idea of seeing her again. He’d spotted variations of her across the world: her hair on a flight stewardess, the crushing lushness of her body on a Cape beach, her voice on a late-night jazz program. He’d even spent six months convinced that Liana had become a porn actress named Jean Harlot. He’d gone so far as to track down the actress’s true identity. She was a minister’s daughter from North Dakota named Carli Swenson.

George settled in his booth, ordered an old-fashioned from Trudy, the waitress, and removed that day’s Globe from his well-worn messenger bag. He’d saved the crossword puzzle for this very occasion. Irene was meeting him, but not till six o’clock. He sipped at his drink and solved the puzzle, then reluctantly moved on to sudoku and even the jumble before he heard Irene’s familiar steps behind him.

“Please, let’s switch,” she said by way of greeting, meaning their seats. Jack Crow’s had only one television, a rarity in a Boston bar, and Irene, outranking George in her Red Sox loyalty and fandom, wanted the better view.

George slid out from the booth, kissed Irene on the side of her mouth (she smelled of Clinique and Altoids), and resettled on the other side, with its view of the oak bar and floor-to- ceiling windows. It was still light outside, a pink slice of sun just cresting over the brownstones across the street. The spread of light across the glass caused George to suddenly notice the lone woman at the corner of the bar. She was drinking a glass of red wine and reading a paperback, and a flutter in George’s stomach told him that she looked like Liana. Just like Liana. But this was a flutter he’d experienced many times before.

He turned to Irene, who had swiveled toward the blackboard behind the bar that listed the day’s specials and the rotating beers. As always, she was unfazed by the heat, her short blond hair pushed off her forehead and curling back behind her ears.

Her cat’s-eye glasses had pink frames. Had they always? After ordering an Allagash White, Irene updated George on the continuing saga of the divorced editor. George was relieved that Irene’s initial tone was chatty and non-confrontational. Stories of the editor tended toward the humorous anecdote, even though George was apt to detect a critical undertone. This editor might be chubby and ponytailed and a dedicated microbrewer, but at least with him there was a palpable future consisting of something more than cocktails and laughs and the very occasional sex that George offered these days.

He listened and sipped his drink but kept his eye on the woman at the bar. He was waiting for a gesture or a detail to disabuse him of the notion that he was actually looking at Liana Decter and not a ghost version or some doppelganger. If it was Liana, she’d changed. Not in any obvious way, like putting on a hundred pounds or cutting all her hair off, but she looked altered somehow, in a good way, as though she’d finally grown into the rare beauty that her features had always promised. She’d lost the baby fat she had in college, the bones of her face were more prominent, and her hair was a darker blond than George remembered.
The more George stared, the more he became convinced it was her.

“You know I’m not the jealous type,” Irene said, “but who do you keep looking at?” She craned her neck to look back toward the rapidly filling bar area.

“Someone I went to college with, I think. I can’t be sure.”

“Go ask her. I won’t mind.”

“No, that’s okay. I barely knew her,” George lied, and something about the lie caused a spidery ripple of agitation to race across the back of his neck.

They ordered more drinks. “He sounds like a little prick,” George said.

“Huh?”

“Your divorcé.”

“Ah, you still care.” She slid out of the booth to go to the restroom, and this gave George a moment to really stare across the room at Liana. She’d become partially blocked by a pair of young businessmen removing their jackets and loosening their ties, but in between their maneuverings he studied her. She was wearing a white collared shirt, and her hair, a little shorter than it had been in college, hung down on one side of her face and was tucked behind an ear on the other. She wore no jewelry, something George remembered about her. There was an indecent creaminess to her neck and a mottled flash of crimson at her breastbone. She’d put away her paperback and now seemed, as she occasionally surveyed the bar, to be looking for someone.
George was waiting for her to get up and move; he felt that until he saw her walk he could not be sure.

As though his thinking it had made it happen, she slid off the padded stool, her skirt briefly bunching at midthigh. As soon as her feet touched the floor and she began to walk in George’s direction, there was no doubt. It had to be Liana, the first time he’d seen her since his freshman year at Mather College, nearly twenty years ago. Her walk was unmistakable, a slow tilting roll of the hips, her head held high and back as though she were trying to see over someone’s head. George lifted a menu to cover his face and stared at its meaningless words. His heart thudded in his chest. Despite the air conditioning, George could feel his palms start to dampen.

Liana passed just as Irene slid back into the booth. “There’s your friend. You didn’t want to say hello?”

“I’m still not sure if it’s her,” George said, wondering if Irene could hear the dry panic in his voice.

“Got time for another drink?” Irene asked. She had reapplied her lipstick in the bathroom.

“Sure,” George said. “But let’s go somewhere else. We could walk a little bit while it’s still light.”
Irene signaled the waiter, and George reached for his wallet.

“My turn, remember,” Irene said and removed a credit card from her bottomless purse. While she paid the check, Liana walked past again. This time George could stare at her retreating figure, that familiar walk. She’d grown into her body too. George thought she’d been his ideal in college, but if anything she looked better now: long tapering legs and exaggerated curves, the kind of body that only genetics, not exercise, will ever get you. The backs of her arms were pale as milk.

George had imagined this moment many times but had somehow never imagined the outcome. Liana was not simply an ex-girlfriend who had once upon a time broken George’s heart; she was also, as far as George still knew, a wanted criminal, a woman whose transgressions were more in line with those of Greek tragedy than youthful indiscretion. She had, without doubt, murdered one person and most likely murdered another.

George felt the equal weights of moral responsibility and indecision weigh down upon him.

“Coming?” Irene stood, and George did as well, following her brisk heel-first pace along the painted wooden floors of the bar.

Nina Simone’s “Sinnerman” rat-a-tatted on the speakers. They swung through the front doors, the still-humid evening greeting them with its wall of stale, steamy air.

“Where to next?” Irene asked.

George froze. “I don’t know. Maybe I just feel like going home.”

“Okay,” Irene said, then added, when George still hadn’t moved, “or we could just stand out here in the rain forest.”

“I’m sorry, but I suddenly don’t feel so great. Maybe I’ll just go home.”

“Is it that woman at the bar?” Irene arched her neck to peer back through the frosted glass of the front door. “That’s not what’s-her-name, is it? That crazy girl from Mather.”

“God, no,” George lied. “I think I’ll just call it a night.”

George walked home. A breeze had picked up and was whistling through the narrow streets of Beacon Hill. The breeze wasn’t cool, but George held out his arms anyway and could feel the sweat evaporating off his skin.

When George got to his apartment, he sat down on the first step of the exterior stairway. It was only a couple of blocks back to the bar. He could have one drink with her, find out what brought her to Boston. He had waited so long to see her, imagining the moment, that now, with her actually here, he felt like an actor in a horror flick with his hand on the barn door about to get an ax in his head. He was scared, and for the first time in about a decade he longed for a cigarette. Had she come to Jack Crow’s to look for him? And if so, why?

On almost any other night, George could have entered his apartment, fed Nora, and crawled into his bed. But something about the weight of that particular August night, combined with Liana’s presence at his favorite bar, made it seem as though something was about to happen, and that was all he needed.
Good or bad, something was happening.

George sat long enough to begin to believe that she must have left the bar. How long would she really sit there by herself with her glass of red wine? He decided to walk back. If she was gone, then he wasn’t meant to see her again. If she was still there, then he’d say hello.

As he walked back to the bar the breeze pressing against his back felt both warmer and stronger. At Jack Crow’s, he didn’t hesitate—he swung back through the door and, as he did, Liana, from her spot at the bar, turned her head and looked at him. He watched her eyes brighten a little in recognition. She had never been one for outsize gestures.

“It is you,” he said.

“It is. Hi, George.” She said it with the flat intonation he remembered, as casually as though she’d seen him earlier that day.

“I saw you from over there.” George tilted his head toward the back of the bar. “I wasn’t sure it was you at first. You’ve changed a little, but then, walking past you, I was pretty sure. I got halfway down the street and turned back.”

“I’m glad you did,” she said. Her words, carefully spaced, had a little click at the end. “I actually came here . . . to this bar . . . to look for you. I know that you live near here.”

“Oh.”

“I’m glad you spotted me first. I don’t know if I would have had the courage to go up to you. I know how you must feel about me.”

“Then you know more than I do. I don’t exactly know how I feel about you.”

“I mean about what happened.” She hadn’t changed position since he’d come back into the bar, but one of her fingers gently tapped on the wooden bar to the percussive music.

“Right, that,” George said, as though he were searching in his memory banks for what she could be talking about.

“Right, that,” she repeated back, and they both laughed.

Liana shifted her body around to face George more squarely.

“Should I be worried?”

“Worried?”

“Citizen’s arrest? Drink thrown in my face?” She had developed tiny laugh lines at the edge of her pale blue eyes. Something new.

“The police are on their way right now. I’m just stalling you.”

George kept smiling, but it felt unnatural. “I’m kidding,” he said when Liana didn’t immediately speak.

“No, I know. Would you like to sit? You have time for a drink?”

“Actually . . . I’m meeting someone, in just a little bit.” The lie slid out of George easily. His head was suddenly muddled by her close presence, by the smell of her skin, and he had an almost animal urge to escape.

“Oh. That’s fine,” Liana quickly said. “But I do have something I need to ask you. It’s a favor.”

“Okay.”

“Can we meet somewhere? Maybe tomorrow.”

“Do you live here?”

“No, I’m just in town for . . . I’m visiting a friend, really. . . .It’s complicated. I would like to talk with you. I’d understand if you didn’t, of course. This was a long shot, and I understand.”

“Okay,” George said, telling himself he could change his mind later.

“Okay, yes, you’d like to talk?”

“Sure, let’s meet while you’re in town. I promise I won’t call the feds. I just want to know how you’re doing.”

“Thank you so much. I appreciate it.” She took a large breath through her nostrils, her chest expanding. George somehow heard the rustle of her crisp white shirt across her skin above the sounds of the jukebox.

“How did you know I lived here?”

“I looked you up. Online. It wasn’t that hard.”

“I don’t suppose you’re still called Liana?”

“Some people. Not many. Most people know me as Jane now.”

“Do you have a cell phone? Should I call you later?”

“I don’t have a cell phone. I never have. Could we meet here again? Tomorrow. At noon.” George noticed how her eyes subtly moved, searching his face, trying to read him. Or else she was looking for what was familiar and what had changed. George’s hair had turned gray at the sides, his forehead had wrinkled, and the lines around his mouth had deepened. But he was still in relatively good shape, still handsome in a slightly hangdog way.

“Sure,” George said. “We could meet here. They’re open for lunch.”

“You don’t sound sure.”

“I’m not sure, but I’m not unsure.”

“I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t important.”

“Okay,” George said, again thinking that he could change his mind, that by agreeing he was only postponing a decision. Later George thought that there would have been times in his life when he simply would have told Liana that he didn’t think they should see each other. He had no need for justice, not even any real need for closure, and for that reason George didn’t believe he would have alerted the authorities. The mess that she’d gotten involved in was many years in the past. But it was bad enough that she must have been running ever since, and she would have to continue running the rest of her life. Of course she didn’t have a cell phone. And of course she wanted to meet somewhere public, a bar at an intersection in a busy part of Boston, somewhere she could take off from right away.

“Okay. I can come,” George said.

She smiled. “I’ll be here. Noon.”

“I’ll be here as well.

Author Bio:

Peter Swanson is the author of The Kind Worth Killing, and has degrees from Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Emerson College. He lives with his wife in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he is at work on his next novel.

Catch Up:






Mandy's Review:


As I was thinking about my review, I began contemplating clocks. What are the characteristics of a clock that pertain to the girl or, better yet, the girl's heart mentioned in the novel's title? Are there similarities that are easily noticeable?

George is a middle-aged man unhappy with his life. He thought that he'd be married with children by the time he reached his late 30s, early 40s. That hasn't happened. As I was reading, part of me wondered if George's situation is due to the fact that he's utterly boring. He goes to work at the same job day in and day out. He has an on-again off-again relationship with one of his co-workers. He takes no risks, has no social life. He's stuck in the past and doesn't seem to give any one woman a chance to get close enough because he's constantly comparing them to his remembrance of Liana.

Liana will do anything to get out of Florida. Anything. This chic is all about numero uno. She uses whomever she wants to get her way. I don't care for her and I could see her false personality from a mile away. How in the world George allowed himself to be suckered in time after time is beyond me. 

To answer the above questions, I've yet to figure out how Liana's heart is like a clock ... unless it's implying that she has no heart, in which case that would be true. I hate to say this since this review is part of a blog tour, but I don't like this novel. It left me frustrated. I know there are guys out there who want to believe the best in a girl they have a thing for, but eventually most dudes are like "F*** this. I'm out." They don't keep doing nonsensical, stupid favors that any normal person would be like, "You know what? You asking me to do this is throwing up a bunch of red flags. You can do it yourself. You made your bed, now lie in it." while throwing up a duece on their way out the door.

By all means, give this book a chance if you'd like to. Don't let my sole opinion determine whether or not you read this novel. You never know. You may like it.


*A physical copy was provided by the tour host for the purposes of this tour and in exchange for an honest review.

Tour Participants:



Giveaway: 


 

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

{Review} THE WATERKEEPER'S DAUGHTER by Joan Mauch

ASIN #: B00PCWY5V6
File Size: 4704 KB
Page Count: 322
Copyright: November 25, 2014
Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press LLC


Book Summary:
(Taken from Goodreads)

Twenty-one year old Annie Whitaker is over the moon: She and Nate, her college sweetheart, have just gotten engaged and she's driving home to give her parents the news. Not only that, but she's spending the summer as an intern with her dad, Lake Okeechobee's waterkeeper. Life just doesn't get any better than that. However, when she arrives home, Annie's greeted with news that will change her life in ways she couldn't begin to fathom when she left Gainesville a few hours earlier.

Meanwhile, her grandfather - a man she's never met and doesn't even know exists - has made a powerful enemy, one who's bent on revenge and knows exactly how to get it. Unfortunately for Annie, his efforts to get even may cost her her life.


Kathy's Review:

*sigh*

There’s a good story in here somewhere. I think.

However, I could not get over the utter IDIOCY of all these characters. Stuff happens that would make a normal person freak out, and these dimwits are all like … what evs. For instance, Annie finds a box with $10k in her room, asks her mom about it, neither of them know where it came from … and then she just puts it back and forgets about it. Um, what? I don’t know about you, but if 10 grand showed up in my closet, I’d be unable to think about anything else BUT that money until I figured out where it came from. I might not even be able to sleep. Nope, these two just go on with their lives.

Then, Phillip the horrible liar tells Annie some ridiculous lie to get out of something that culminated in her mom being questioned by the police, and SHE BELIEVES HIM. She doesn’t have any red flags about it at all, whatsoever. Really? We as the readers could see that Phillip was a bad guy from the moment he entered the story. Not to mention his “sidekick” Becky. Annie, however, is apparently so blinded by her attraction to him that she just accepts his word, which was a lie even my five-year-old could have called B.S. on.

It goes on from here. I don’t want to tear this to shreds, but I found the characters and plot action to be extremely unbelievable. Even the motivation for the “bad guy” seemed pretty ridiculous. If you’re going to plot revenge, you do research and realize you have the completely wrong targets. This guy didn’t do that. And didn’t do a wonderful job of covering his tracks.

The underlying thing happening between the environment lovers, the Native Americans and the pesticide people, I don’t know, it just fell flat to me.

OK, so clearly the book has issues. Because I don’t like to just be nasty, I will say that the writing is pretty solid, it’s just the execution that needs major help. I suggest the author go back and think these things through. Put yourself in the situation of … you just found a crapload of money in your house. Or think more about the mother daughter scenes that are so over the top - Annie is 21 and storms out of lame arguments with her mom and then thinks she’s forever ruined their relationship … give me a break.

There I go again. I’m not trying to be like this. Maybe I have cabin fever and I need to chill out for a bit. I think you get the idea on how I felt with this novel.


*An ecopy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, February 20, 2015

{Review} ADMIT TO MAYHEM by D.J. Adamson

ISBN #: 978-0990307808
Page Count: 294
Copyright: March 10, 2014
Publisher: Horatio Press; First Printing Edition


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Lillian Dove isn't just caught having spent the night with her boss, Police Chief Charles Kaefring, when she calls a house fire into dispatch, but she is compelled to rescue someone inside; only to find the person vanished and herself trapped. Then her condo is burglarized, a green car nearly misses her and she loses her job. Edgar Pike comes under her radar as a suspect. Is he stalking her? Why is he threatening her convalescent mother?

Death threats, stalked and unemployment are not what Lillian Dove expected out of her new, sober life in Frytown. The real challenges, however, are not her sobriety and exposing an arsonist, but learning how to manage  events life hands out while caring for her contrary mother, Dahlia Dove, who isn't at all happy Lillian is in control.


Shelley's Review:

D. J. Adamson gives an extremely realistic picture of small town life. Although Lillian Dove admits to being far from perfect, you see glimpses of a caring individual with a good heart.  Her relationship with Dahlia is complicated at best, and you sometimes forget she is talking about her mother. Her quest to find the truth is both admirable and frightening at times.  The twists and turns keep the reader on edge as the story comes to fruition, with Lillian being one of the most unlikely heroines.


*A physical copy of the book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

{Review} THE GIRL WITH A CLOCK FOR A HEART by Peter Swanson

ISBN #: 978-0062267504
Page Count: 304
Copyright: January 6, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint Edition


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

On an ordinary Friday evening at his favorite Boston tavern, George Foss’s comfortable, predictable life is shattered when a beautiful woman sits down at the bar, a woman who vanished without a trace twenty years ago.

Liana Dector isn’t just an ex-girlfriend, the first love George couldn’t quite forget. She’s also a dangerous enigma and quite possibly a cold-blooded killer wanted by the police. Suddenly, she’s back and she needs George’s help. Ruthless men believe she stole some money . . . and they will do whatever it takes to get it back.

George knows Liana is trouble. But he can’t say no, he never could, so he makes a choice that will plunge him into a terrifying whirlpool of lies, secrets, betrayal, and murder from which there is no sure escape.

Bold and masterful, full of malicious foreboding and subtle surprises, The Girl with a Clock for a Heart is an addictive, nonstop thriller, an ever-tightening coil of suspense that grips you right up to its electrifying end.


Lupe's Review:

What can you say about George Foss? Nothing, really. His life is pretty uneventful and he had stayed pretty much the same since college. Except in college, something crazy happened that changed to be the man he is today. When his past and present collide, can George continue to be the man he was before?

Ok so this was....meh. I mean, it was quick paced and thrilling, which I liked, but lacked character development with the Main character, which I didn't like. I also hated the ending. I really can't stand books that give you a "reader gets to imagine what really happened" ending. Just tell me. I hate that crap. But the actual story of George's college sweetheart, who he thought had died, but didn't and is instead wanted for murder and goes on the run, was pretty captivating. I actually really liked Liana, but I do wish George wasn't such a dope. Like, there are so many times where I just wanted to slap him and be like "WAKE UP MAN!!!!" But alas, it was fruitless. And I think that was another reason I hated the ending. It was just...Ugh. Really frustrating.

I gave it a decent rating on Goodreads though because the story and its twists and turns were done well enough that I was motivated to keep turning the pages so I could find out what happened next.

*a physical copy of the book was given by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

{Review} A GROOVY KIND OF LOVE by Karen Wojcik Berner

ISBN #: 978-1503113077
Page Count: 316
Copyright: December 10, 2014
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Platform; 1st Edition


Description:
(Taken from back cover)

Uptight British lit lover meets a free spirit at a book club and his world is turned upside down!

After placating to his father’s demands that he play Little League baseball and major in computer programming in college rather than his beloved English literature, Thaddeus assumed that several years into his career, he would finally get some peace and quiet.

Then he met Spring Pearson, the younger, free-spirited daughter of Hippie parents, at a book club meeting. Instantly smitten, Thaddeus finally worked up the courage to ask Spring out. But will an old college pinkie-swear promise Spring made fifteen years ago get in the way of this bibliophilic romance?

"A Groovy Kind of Love" is the third and final installment of Karen Wojcik Berner’s Bibliophiles series. Written as stand-alone novels, each book focuses on one or two members of a fictional suburban classics book club, revealing their personal stories while the group explores tales spun by the masters.


Charlene's Review:

In A Groovy Kind Of Love, we are introduced to two members of a book club. In Part One, we learn their back stories. Thaddeus Mumblegarden, who from the day he received his library card at 5 years old, has escaped from his rather plain existence into the magical world of literature; particularly British literature. He effects a British accent and dreams of the day he can visit the Great Realm. Spring Pearson was raised by parents that lived a Hippie lifestyle. Growing up, she often hid her family away to discourage the misunderstanding of her unconventional life.

In part Two, Thaddeus and Spring meet in the Bibliophiles Book Club, where they share a love for the written word, and soon, for each other. The rest of the book focuses on their relationship, as well as the relationships formed within the book club.

Being a bibliophile, I enjoyed reading about others that share my love of reading. This is my first of the Bibliophile series, but feel it wasn’t necessary to read the preceding works to appreciate the story. The eccentricity of the book club members was delightfully portrayed, as well as the relationships merging and growing as Thaddeus and Spring join together and face adversity.

There is a heavy focus on England and when the story takes Thaddeus to his beloved country for a literary vacation, the descriptions were detailed and vibrant. Most all of the story was written in this same way, with much attention to detail. This was an enjoyable read.


*A physical copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

{Blog Tour: Review} LETTERS TO MY FUTURE HUSBAND by Lisa McKendrick

ASIN #: B00T6JXEZ4
File Size: 910 KB
Page Count: 237
Copyright: February 10, 2015
Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc.


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

der fUTuR Husbun, GO away!
SoPHIE

At her father’s urging, Sophie started writing letters to her future husband when she was a little girl—though at first they were more like hate mail than love letters. But as she grew older and the boys at school started looking cuter, her letters became something more.

By the time Sophie’s in college and traveling through Italy, she’s sure she’s found the perfect man to give all her letters to. But life and love don’t always end up going as planned.

This endearing LDS romance will remind you that sometimes the man of your dreams isn’t the person you thought he’d be—sometimes he’s even better.


Mandy's Review:

What I wouldn't have given to have my future self (since I don't have any children of my own) to come to me in a dream and tell me who to marry. Don't get me wrong, I love my husband but there are days when I wonder if I made the right decision ... and I don't think I'm alone in that feeling. Am I?

Sophia has had a long-time crush on Hanno, her brother's friend. After a disastrous, embarrassing meeting overseas Sophia realizes Hanno may not be the best choice for her. Ten years later, she's living in good ole NYC and dating a guy named Griffin who, from the very start, got on my nerves. He is childish, ridiculously self-absorbed, and completely wrong for Sophia. Does she realize that, though?

Peter was Hanno's flatmate overseas. Through Hanno, Peter met Sophia's brother George. They become friends and remain so throughout the years. Peter is kind, generous, and willing to help anyone in need. Main drawback: the guy literally works in the South Pole. Don't hear that much, do ya?

It's apparent Peter and Sophia have chemistry together, but Sophia fights it every time she turns around. She has a super serious boyfriend. She hasn't known Peter that long. Peter's not as financially-driven as Griffin. How would they (Peter and Sophia) be able to support themselves in the future? Basically any and every excuse Sophia can think of to put off breaking up with Griffin (who's a hedge fund manager) and giving it a go with Peter (who's a physician's assistant). Enter Sarah, Sophia's future daughter ... if Sophia picks the right guy to marry, that is.

Sarah's very adamant about who her mother should marry, which she would be or she, Sarah, wouldn't be born. Does Sarah tell Sophia that she's wasting her time pining over Peter or is Peter the future father of Sarah? Well, I'm not going to tell you. You're just going to have to pick up a copy of this book yourself to find out.


*An ecopy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

{2015 TBR Pile Challenge} Check-In Post #2


Wow! It's already time to post our second check-in for the TBR Pile Challenge. We haven't been moving along as steadily as we'd like, but we did get a review in since January 15th (see cover below). How are you doing on this challenge? Are you on target?

Lupe's Review Posted 1/19

Saturday, February 14, 2015

{Review} ISLANDS - THE EPIDEMIC by Patricia Smith

ISBN #: 978-1500404147
Page Count: 170
Copyright: June 29, 2014
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


Book Description:
(Taken from back cover)

Six months into an experiment to prove self-sufficiency is possible at the bottom of the sea, a war breaks out, and soon after, the five hundred specialists lose contact with the surface.

Islands-The Epidemic is the first in the Islands Trilogy.


Charlene's Review:

As select individuals prepare to spend the next two years underwater in the "Sea Dome Project", those left behind on the mainland face food shortages and impending war. As things intensify, an airborne Ebola virus is released and is spreading quickly. When the Dome can no longer contact anyone from the surface, a handful of residents decide they must return to find out the fate of their loved ones, despite the threat of imminent death.

This is another cliff hanger from Ms. Smith. Similar in many ways to her previous novel, Distant Suns, there is the element of sci-fi and taming unknown lands, as well as a threat to life as we know it. Epidemic takes the suspense a bit further by introducing a topic that has recently been newsworthy. There is also a lot more detail amid the suffering, some downright cringe-worthy.

Once again, Ms. Smith has a tremendous talent for getting the reader to identify with the characters individual personalities. As she presents the fates of the characters loved ones, and inevitably, the characters themselves, I could truly feel the emotions present. She packs a powerful story in a compact edition. Being from England, her writing style is a bit different, and I had to look up "strewth" after seeing it in her work, repeatedly. I enjoy her stories tremendously, and felt it ended all too soon, and wait in anticipation for the next installment.


*A physical copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, February 13, 2015

{Review} DISTANT SUNS by Patricia Smith

ISBN #: 978-1491220092
Page Count: 262
Copyright: August 30, 2013
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


Description:
(Taken from back cover)

Two elderly astronomers and their young apprentice, Lauren, are appointed the top secret task of monitoring a massive cloud of hydrogen heading straight for Earth. When the path of the cloud is altered and captured by the planet Jupiter, they think they have avoided disaster - but you can be looking the wrong way when the end of the world sneaks up on you.

Distant Suns is an apocalyptic thriller about love, self-sacrifice and the human ability to adapt and survive.


Charlene's Review:

Distant Suns is a fairly typical end of the world story. Beginning with the Prologue, the reader is faced with the Earth’s possible demise. That quick pace is set for the remainder of the story. As the Earth is affected by the cloud, plans are made to save a select group of people for future population on another planet. What sets this story of apocalypse apart, however, is the flawless way in which Ms. Smith has balanced all the details with an emotional, character-driven story. As the trio of Jack, Edward, and Lauren track the cloud of hydrogen that threatens to engulf the Earth in fire, it is their personalities and families that became the true focus for me.

The story does shift a lot between locations, and it can be a bit confusing at first, but it sorts itself out. Not a big fan of sci-fi, I read it, quickly and effortlessly, and was actually very disappointed in the ending, as I wasn’t ready to let the characters go. I will be looking into the sequel, as I just HAVE to know what happens next.


*A physical copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

{Review} COOKIE'S CASE: A TUG WYLER MYSTERY by Andy Siegel

ISBN #: 978-1497662766
Page Count: 281
Copyright: February 10, 2015
Publisher: MysteriousPress.com/Open Road


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Tug Wyler is embroiled in the mysterious medical malady of a sexy stripper who slipped on a banana peel during her signature act

Cookie, an angel in stiletto heels, is by far the most popular performer at Jingles Dance Bonanza. To her devoted audience, she’s a friend, therapist, and shoulder to cry on, all rolled into one. While meeting an old pal at the club, Tug doesn’t expect to pick up a new client but quickly realizes the gallant Cookie, dancing in a neck brace, each leg kick potentially her last, is in need of a committed champion.

Righting wrongs is never a simple task for Tug, a sharp-witted and unorthodox trial lawyer who repeatedly finds himself in the middle of unusual cases and causes. But that doesn’t stop him from trying. Believing that Cookie is the victim of a spine surgeon with a sloppy touch, Tug takes her case. But as he seeks both medical remedy and a fair shake for Cookie, he realizes a tad too late that sinister sights are now trained on him. In Cookie’s Case, this offbeat attorney will go farther for justice than he ever has before.


Mandy's Review:

Having enjoyed the first Tug Wyler medical mystery (Suzy's Case), I agreed to read the second. Andy Siegel doesn't disappoint.

Tug is not your average attorney. He's honest and fights for those who haven't been given a fair shake. He actually believes in getting justice for those who need it. Yes, he's been a lawyer to the shady characters all lawyers eventually come into contact with, but he still does the best job he can. What I don't like about Tug is his wife, Tyler. She's a bitch, plain and simple. I don't know why he stays with her. She always seems angry towards him for one thing or another ... and it's sometimes the simplest of things. Oh well ...

Cookie loves to dance. Dancing gives her a purpose and an opportunity to help the guys in the club with their problems. No, not THOSE kinds of problems, actual family/life-related issues. She considers the guys who come and watch her family. She's even gone over to one of the guys' house to have dinner with him and his wife. She's that nice. So what's she doing with a boyfriend old enough to be her father ... possibly, her grandfather?

Major, Cookie's boyfriend, used to be a doctor in a clinic. He now stays near Cookie 95% of the time because of her condition. Since having her first surgery, Major's had to perform spinal taps on Cookie weekly. Her condition is believed to be caused by a nick the surgeon made and Cookie has been trying to get monetarily compensated since.

Almost as soon as Tug takes over Cookie's case, he realizes it may not be as cut-and-dried as he first thought. There seems to be something else going on that nobody's talking about. With the help of some interesting characters, Tug's able to get to the bottom of Cookie's case ... but will it cost him his very life?

Most medical mysteries tend to bog you down with technicalities. No, the Tug Wyler series isn't officially classified as a medical mystery. That's a classification I gave it because, so far, both of the novels in the series have dealt with medical issues. What I love about them is that they don't bog you down with technicalities. There's enough medical jargon in the novels to help you understand what's going on and that's it. I appreciate that. The mystery aspect of this series has a hint of sinister, but are mostly fun, quick reads. I enjoy trying to figure out what Tug's going to say or do next to solve the case.

I would definitely recommend the Tug Wyler series to all you mystery lovers out there.


*A physical copy of this novel was provided by the publicist in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

{Blog Tour: Excerpt, Giveaway & Review} WHAT THE FLY SAW by Frankie Y. Bailey

ISBN #: 978-1250048301
Page Count: 352
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Series: Detective Hannah McCabe (Book 2)
Genre: Mystery (Near-Future Police Procedural)


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Albany, New York, January 2020

The morning after a blizzard that shut down the city, funeral director Kevin Novak is found dead in the basement of his funeral home. The arrow sticking out of his chest came from his own hunting bow.

A loving husband and father and an active member of a local megachurch, Novak has no known enemies. His family and friends say he was depressed because his best friend died suddenly of a heart attack and Novak blamed himself. But what does his guilt have to do with his death? Maybe nothing, maybe a lot. The minister of the megachurch and the psychiatrist who provides counseling to church members—do either of them know more than they are saying?

Detective Hannah McCabe and her partner, Mike Baxter, sort through lies and evasions to solve the riddle of Novak’s death, while unanswered questions from another high-profile case, and McCabe’s own suspicions make for a dynamite crime novel.


About the Author:


Frankie Y. Bailey is a mystery writer and a professor in the School of Criminal Justice, University at Albany (SUNY). Her academic research focuses on crime history, popular culture/mass media, and material culture. She has done research and written about topics ranging from local history and women who kill to African American characters in crime and detective fiction. She is currently at work on a book about dress, appearance, and criminal justice. She is the author of two mystery series, featuring crime historian Lizzie Stuart, and Albany police detective Hannah McCabe. Frankie is a past executive vice president of Mystery Writers of America and a past president of Sisters in Crime. A dog lover, she now shares her home with a Maine Coon cat/mix named Harry.

Catch Up: 


Read an Excerpt:

Chapter 1

Saturday, January 18, 2020
5:47 AM

After the storm had passed, in the chilly hour before dawn, the last of the “space zombies” found their way back to their nest in the derelict house.

From his command post, the squad leader gave the signal. “Go!”

A black van pulled up in front of the house. Albany PD vice cops wearing protective gear jumped out and stormed up the walk. They used a battering ram to smash open the wooden door.

“Police! Albany PD!”

“Police!”

Their high-powered torches illuminated the grotesque horror movie creatures in the 3-D posters on the walls.
One of the cops ripped down a dangling black plastic replica of the 2012 UFO. He tossed the boomerang-shaped object to the floor.

Hippiefreaks, he thought. Ought to make them all go live out in the Mojave Desert and wait for the mother ship to arrive.

He kicked at the nearest mattress on the floor. “Police!” he shouted down at the long-haired occupant. “On your feet!”

Blank eyes in an eerie white-painted face stared up at him.

“Hands up! Hands up!” the cop yelled as the kid stumbled to his feet. He shoved him against the wall and patted him down.

Upstairs, in a bathroom, another cop had found a girl sprawled out, unconscious, on the dirty tile floor beside the toilet. She had vomited in the toilet bowl. Her jeans were stained with urine and feces.

Reaching down, he shook her, and then rolled her onto her side to see her face beneath the mop of dark hair. A nasty bruise on her cheekbone stood out against the streaked white paint. He moved her red scarf aside to feel for a pulse in her throat. The scarf was damp, like her tee shirt and soiled blue jeans.

“Whaddya have?” another cop asked from the doorway.

“Looks like an OD,” the cop inside the bathroom said. “Still breathing, but the wagon had better get here fast.”

“Got it,” the other cop said, touching thecomm button on his helmet.

The cop in the bathroom spotted a smear of blood on the corner of the sink. That explained the bruise. She’d banged her face on the sink when she passed out.

Downstairs in the kitchen, cops surveyed the debris of dirty dishes and rotting garbage – and an impressive array of drugs and paraphernalia. One of them lowered her weapon and observed, “With a stash like this, they could have stayed zonked out until the next UFO came to visit.”

Chapter 2

Saturday afternoon
3:17 PM

Funeral director Kevin Novak stared at the Cupid and Psyche bronze clock on his host, Olive Cooper’s mantel. He had allowed himself to become marooned on a conversational island with Paige, Olive’s great niece.

As Paige complained about the conversation and laughter filling the long room -- the “rabble babble,” as sheput it -- Kevin found a name for what he had been feeling for the past forty-eight plus hours. Grief.
He was experiencing first-hand what he had often observed when relatives came into the funeral home after the unexpected death of a loved one. That first stage of grieving the experts described as denial, but he often thought of as amazement and disbelief. The stage of bereavement when family members spoke of their dead loved one in the present tense because they couldn’t yet believe their lives had been ripped apart.

It seemed in this state of mind, one went through the usual motions, saying what was expected. But the shell was thin. His was developing cracks. He could tell because he felt no inclination at all to warn Paige Cooper that he had glanced over her shoulder and seen her Great Aunt Olive headed their way and Paige had better shut up. So he must be moving into the next stage: anger.

“Where in the galaxy did Aunt Olive find these people?” Paige said. “Look at them.”

“Some of them are from the church’s community outreach,” Kevin said.

True, Olive’s guest list for this celebration of her life reflected her eccentricities. An odd assortment of guests: old friends, relatives, church members and business associates, and other people who tickled Olive’s fancy or touched her big heart. But they had all cleaned up and put on their best in Olive’s honor.

“It’s freezing in here,” Paige said. She pulled the belt of her hand-knit cardigan tighter and held her hands out toward the fireplace.

“Feels fine to me,” Kevin said.

“It really is annoying we have to come out for this farce when there’s a blizzard on the way. The least Aunt Olive could do is heat this mausoleum. Everyone here except her will come down with pneumonia, and we’ll still have to do this all over again when she finally does kick off.”

“When I finally do ‘kick off’, Paige,” her great aunt said, right behind her. “You may feel free not to attend my funeral. In fact, if you die first – maybe of the pneumonia you expect to catch – you’ll spare us both that annoyance. And for your information, it was your father who insisted on including you in this shindig.”

Paige flushed an unbecoming shade of scarlet. “Aunt Olive, I didn’t mean --”

“I know what you meant. Get yourself a glass of champagne, now you’re actually old enough to drink, and make the best of the situation.” Olive’s sharp gaze fastened on Kevin. “And since you already know you’re going to get to bury me when I’m dead, you can relax and enjoy the party.”

“I always enjoy your parties, Olive,” Kevin said.

“Come with me,” she said. “There’s someone I want you to meet.”

Aware of Paige’s suspicious glare, Kevin smiled in her direction. That would teach the little brat to say funeral directors reminded her of vultures without first checking for one of the species within hearing distance.
Vultures sometimes exacted their petty revenge.

“At your service, Olive,” he said, offering his arm to the woman, who was eighty-five years old and counting and might well live to be a hundred.

“How have you been?” she asked him.

“Fine,” Kevin said. “Never better.”

“Don’t give me that. Anyone who knows you can tell you’re still taking Bob’s death hard.”

“Having your best friend collapse with a heart attack while you’re beating him at tennis and then die on the operating table can have that effect.”

“It’s been over four months since it happened. You should be coping with it by now.”

“I am coping with it.”

“You’re still off-kilter. Not your usual self. That’s why I want you to meet Luanne Woodward.”

“Luanne? That medium or spiritualist or whatever she calls herself that you found somewhere?”

“I didn’t find her ‘somewhere’. She was the featured lecturer at a fundraiser.”

“Lecturer? Don’t you mean ‘performer’?”

“She talked about being a medium and answered questions. She’s an interesting woman. I think you could benefit from talking to her.”

“I don’t believe in that hocus-pocus, Olive.”

“I don’t believe in most of it, either. I’m almost ancient enough to remember the Fox Sisters and their flimflam. But, as I said, Luanne’s interesting. I invited her today so you could meet her.”

Kevin noticed one of Olive’s guests filling his plate high with the urgency of a man who expected the bounty in front of him to disappear. “And do what?” he said in belated response to Olive. “Sign up for her next séance?”

“That might not be a bad idea. Spiritual therapy, so to speak.”

“I get my spiritual therapy at church on Sunday from our minister. You might consider doing the same.”

“At my age, I take what I need from wherever I happen to find it. And the fact you’re going all righteous on me instead of laughing about my eccentricities, as you like to call them, proves you’re off-kilter. We need to get you putto right.”

“Olive, I don’t think a medium and a séance will do the trick.”

“You need an opportunity to confront your feelings.”

“I have confronted my feelings. I confronted them after Bob died. I sought counseling from both Reverend Wyatt and Jonathan Burdett.”

Olive stopped walking and glared at him. “Now, if you want to talk about hocus-pocus, psychiatrists are right up there. You lie on their couch spilling your guts. And they mumble an occasional Freudian pearl of wisdom while they’re thinking about how they intend to spend what they’re charging you.”

“Burdett offers the option of sitting in a comfortable armchair, and, as you well know, his services are free to church members.”

“The church pays his salary, so he’s not free. He’s full of his diplomas and his jargon, that’s what he is.”

“And what about your medium? Is she one-hundred percent jargon free?”

“Not a chance. They all have their language intended to impress, but she’s a hell of a lot more fun then Burdett. So come along and meet her.”

“I suppose it would be a waste of time to say no?”

“Yes, it would. You said you were at my service.”

“Yes, I did say that.”

Not much sleep last night or the night before. His moment of irritation with Paige had given way to weariness. No doubt he would feel the anger later. No chance he’d be able to skip over that stage. Not with the piper to pay.

“Luanne,” Olive said to the plump, blonde woman sipping from a champagne glass as she observed the people around her. “I’d like you to meet Kevin Novak, the friend of mine I was telling you about.”

“I’m so happy to meet you, Mr. Novak,” she said in a Southern drawl that suited her pleasant, round face. Her blue gaze met and held his.

If he believed in such things, Kevin would have sworn she’d looked past his tailored suit and crisp white shirt, straight into his tarnished soul.

He took a step back, and reached out to steady Olive, whose hand rested on his arm.

“Sorry,Olive” he said. “I just remembered something I need to do.”

Luanne Woodward said, “It’s all right, Kevin, honey. You don’t have to run away from me.”

But he did, Kevin thought. He had to run as fast as he could.



Mandy's Review:

I enjoy mysteries, I do, and the premise of this one being set in a familiar, yet alternate, world was intriguing to me. I do wish the author would've explained a few things (like what an ORB was), but I was able to get an idea of the new technology the more I read.

Personally, I didn't find anything special about Hannah McCabe. She is a bi-racial detective trying to solve a case of murder, but she had no charisma. I wasn't drawn into her life or wanted to know more of her story. Some of the other characters' personalities outshined Hannah and gave this story more life than she did.

As far as mysteries go, I like it when the murder seems unsolvable yet clues are interspersed throughout the novel giving me a chance to try and solve it. In this novel, there was a lot of investigating and interviewing done but there didn't seem to be a whole lot of clues given. The ending felt a little lackluster as well. Instead of being glad to have read this novel, I was more glad to have been finished reading it.


*A physical copy was provided by the tour host for the purposes of this tour and in exchange for an honest review.

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Saturday, February 7, 2015

{Review} ELIZA BLUEBELL by A.J. York

ASIN #: B00QFZ6XLO
File Size: 1216 KB
Page Count: 58
Copyright: December 1, 2014


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

In the picture postcard village of Blossom Brook, Eliza Bluebell arrives changing the lives of the locals forever. With the help of her playful shadow, Eliza transforms an empty shop on the High Street into the heart and soul of the village. Find out how and read this fantastical story about friendship, butterflies and fairy cakes.


Mandy's Review:

Eliza's best friend is her shadow, which reminds me of Peter Pan. The difference between the two stories is that I remember Peter Pan's shadow being a little mischievous and Eliza's shadow is more helpful. Eliza herself is like a benevolent little angel. Wherever she goes, good things happen and she's always right on time. Eliza knows what people's needs are without having to be told and she always has what they need. When everyone's been helped as much as they can be, Eliza picks up her blue suitcase and leaves town.

What I like about A.J. York's stories are that they're whimsical enough to read during story time with your children. Each story is kid-friendly and teaches important lessons about friendship and how to treat others with kindness. I would recommend all of A.J. York's stories to those of you looking for something new to read to your kiddos.


*An ecopy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, February 6, 2015

{Review} ORDINARILY PERFECT by K.C. Leigh

ISBN #: 978-1499223699
Page Count: 328
Copyright: May 17, 2014
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

No one ever sees it coming.

One ‘ordinary’ evening 34 year-old Alistair Tunbridge is injured in a freak accident that leaves him in a coma, snatched from a life of competence and comfortable success. He awakens to the horror of not being able to control his own body, and the cheerful company of fellow patient Damien, who seems to really understand. His wife Lauren, when he remembers her, is cool and detached and sides with 'them' - the doctor, nurses and therapists who insist they know how he must do things now. Everything. Beginning to resent Lauren’s detachment, he repeatedly pushes her away – not realizing she is one of the people who can help him the most. Not until he's confronted with the knowledge that Damien and Lauren have shared confidences - and learned their life-changing secrets - that he reclaims responsibility and begins to make a difference in all their lives.

This work of fiction is written by a Physiotherapist, based on hundreds of true stories of how ordinary people cope when their lives are touched by disaster.


Lupe's Review:

On a regular evening, driving home from work, Alistair Tunbridge is critically injured in a freak car accident that puts him into a coma. When he wakes up, he finds that he is unable to control his body and is prone to headaches that can make him sleep for hours. His roommate, Damien, however, seems to completely understand and they become fast friends.

Alistair's wife, Lauren, in the meantime, is struggling. As a Physio herself, she is having a hard time figuring just when to be a wife and when to be a physio. Added to that, she is holding secrets that she thinks could hurt Ally's progress - Damien knows them too. When Ally discovers them, however,  he becomes more determined than ever to get better and reclaim his life.

I'll be honest, for most of this book, I was bored. Not because the story was bad but because it was so technical. I mean, there is CLEARLY a disclaimer that says that the book is written by a Physiotherapist and based on true lives and stories, but I didn't anticipate just how much medical terminology and processes were going to be used. That being said, the stories of Ally and Lauren, Damien, and Garry (Ally and Damien's doctor) were brilliantly told and executed. Watching Ally struggle with something so normal to you or I like walking or just getting your hand to move - I was in awe of his resilience and strength, even when he felt totally hopeless. And Lauren. She could have taken the easy way out and left Ally but she stayed true to her vows and stuck with Ally even when he was being a jerk.

Damien. Oh Damien. The amount of love I felt for this character is crazy. He was funny when he needed to be, and sensitive when he knew better. His and Ally's fast friendship was steadfast and strong. Never has a book that made me so bored with all the crazy technical stuff, reduce me to tears within the last 20 pages.

I do wish there were more story and less medical hoopla, but I do have to admit that some of it could be interesting if you were into that sort of thing. But the overall story? Absolutely beautiful.


*A physical copy of the book was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

{Review} CRASH & BURN by Lisa Gardner

ISBN #: 978-0525954569
Page Count: 400
Copyright: February 3, 2015
Publisher: Dutton Adult


Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

For Sergeant Wyatt Foster, a routine inspection of a car accident quickly escalates into a full-blown manhunt: the driver, Nicole Frank, has miraculously survived, but her little girl Vero is missing in the remote New Hampshire woods. Wyatt mobilizes every resource in the state, until Nicky's husband drops a bombshell: there is no Vero. Nicky, suffering from a brain injury, made her up.

Or did she? The more Wyatt investigates, the more the questions mount. One thing is certain: Vero wasn't in the car. Is the little girl a delusion haunting an injured mind? Or is she all too real, whereabouts unknown, and in grave danger?


Mandy's Review:

Even though I enjoy reading novels from authors I'm not familiar with, there's always a bit of hesitancy in my decision to read one of their books. Will they really be as good as the reviews say? Is the plot really as engaging and thought-provoking as the summary makes it out to be? Before I tell you whether or not Lisa Gardner measured up to the hype, let's discuss a bit about the plot of Crash & Burn.

For 22 years, Nicky and Thomas, her husband, have been moving from city to city. They design and paint props for movie sets so staying in one place isn't a requirement for them. Their job allows them the freedom to move when and where they want. Together, the couple has a strange dynamic. Nicky fears and trusts her husband. She loves and hates Thomas. Their relationship is somewhat volatile and it's hard to imagine them lasting as long as they have.

Nicky has had three concussions in the past six months. Three concussions so close together has caused Nicky's memories to become muddled. She's imagining a six-year-old girl. She frequently smells smoke and feels the heat from a fire that doesn't exist. She keeps hearing the word "run" in her head, but to where?

Wyatt, understandably, is leery of believing a person could have as many memory issues as Nicky seems to be having. He's not sure if she's toying with him and the investigation or is telling the truth. Nothing's adding up and is frustrating the heck out of Wyatt. Normally, by the second or third day of an investigation, he'd be able to piece together at least one or two clues. With Nicky's situation, he can't get anything to fit in a way that makes any kind of sense.

Now, you want to know if Lisa Gardner has measured up to the hype, don't you? Well, I can tell you unequivocally that, yes, she does. Even though this is the third Tessa Leoni novel (and, yes, Tessa plays a role in Nicky's story), Crash & Burn can be read as a stand alone. You do not have to read the first two in order to understand this one. I, however, will be going back to read the first two because if they're in any way, shape, or form as much of a mind ... fornication ... as this one, then I know I will love them.

Crash & Burn kept me guessing almost all the way through. Just when I thought I might have figured out a piece of the puzzle, something would happen to make me doubt myself. I absolutely love when an author can mess with my mind like that. I loved that not everything was revealed at once, but over several chapters keeping a reader engaged and on the edge of their proverbial seats. I have found another must-read author for me and I would HIGHLY recommend Lisa Gardner (especially Crash & Burn) to all of you mystery/thriller lovers out there. You will not be disappointed.


*A physical copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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