Looking for a Book Review?

books-are-magic

If you’re looking for a book review to be featured each day, this is probably not going to happen.  There are some days when I have a few to post, and others when, by sheer length of my current reads, I have none.

On these days, I like to post literary tidbits on the In This Day In Literary History page, to prevent the blog becoming stagnant and one dimensional.  Also I like to occasionally try my hand at writing what, I hope, are informative and thought provoking little articles on these non-review days.

If you are an Author I have agreed to review, and you’re wondering where it is, head over to my Goodreads page, and check out my currently reading list and see if you are there.  I am going to try and get my TR (to read) stack in some semblance of order over this weekend, to give you a better idea of when your book will be coming up.  I will also include any deadlines next to the book there, so you can see which Authors are wanting a review by a certain date.   I try to avoid this where possible, as I feel it is unfair to those Authors who don’t require a no later than date on their reviews, and to you I apologize.

So, with that said, please feel free to browse around; and you are more than welcome to send me any constructive criticism you feel may help my blog grow, by getting in touch with me through my Contact page.

Review: Jumping in the Puddles of Life ~ Loretta Livingstone

Jumping

Pages of verse. Funny, Uplifting, Spiritual, Love Poems. You’ll find something for everyone here. All printed on beautiful full colour photographs. A real delight.

3 Thumbs-Up

The purpose of poetry is to tell a story or relate someone’s feelings through rhyme or verse, and this little pocket sized book hits the mark in many places, but falls short too.  The Poet is English so the poems are written in British English and not American English.

The compilation is full of funny – ‘The Ballad of the Creme Egg’; uplifting; spiritual (the poet really lets us into her soul in these poems), and the usual love poems. But what makes this different to other pocket poetry books, is that each one is printed on stunning colour photographs taken by the Poet herself.

The one poem that really stuck out from all the others though, was ‘Past Times’, as it had all the makings of having been penned by Christina Rossetti, namely bringing to mind her ‘When I am dead, my dearest’.  It was written in a fluid and relaxed manner, which really had me feeling that, finally, the Poet had found her stride and was totally at ease with this style.  Unfortunately that was not the case.

With many of the poems I found the lack of punctuation caused me to take a deep breath, mentally, before reading them and, at times I found the rhyming scheme to become a little annoying.  Just as I was becoming totally frustrated with this, I fell over ‘The Balled of the Creme Egg’

Like ‘Past Times’, this also struck a chord with me, and made me chuckle out loud when I read it.  It caused me to remember the times that I had done exactly what she wrote about, and brought back some fond memories.

I like 2 things in the poetry I read, one is that it will make me think and reflect, as ‘Past Times’ did; and two, that it will make me smile and remember fun places and people such as the ‘Creme Egg’ delivered.

I would recommend this pocket book to anyone that enjoys poetry, and I will most likely be adding a hard copy to my collection, just for the two poems I have mentioned in this review.   It definitely wasn’t mind blowing, but there are definitely some hidden gems between its covers that are worth searching out. I would be interested to see how the Poet develops as she continues to write, and into what niche she finally finds herself feeling more comfortable in.

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Review: Clementine’s Shadow ~ Peggy Rothschild

Clementine's Shadow

After moving to the California High Desert for a new start, Deputy Casey Lang faces a hard truth: She must work through her fear of shooting another child or kiss her career goodbye. The disappearance of a six-year-old girl from a summer concert in the park puts Casey’s resolve to the test.

Set in a scorched landscaped of played out silver mines and dry riverbeds, Clementine’s Shadow tells the story of a child snatched by a predator and the desperate hunt to find her. As the temperature rises, three unlikely heroes emerge to help.

 5 Thumbs-UpThis is the Authors debut novel and, if she manages to keep up this level of penmanship, she will soon become a household name amongst the lovers of the mystery genre.  How do I know this? Because I stayed up far too late so I could finish this gripping novel.

From the very start she develops her characters with sensitivity and style, with both the main characters being women in search of very different things.  The male characters in the novel are also very well-developed and, unlike many novels with strong female leads, the Author does not belittle the men involved in the unfolding drama.  In the beginning, the cast of characters may seem disjointed and a little hard to follow, but the Author skilfully weaves their stories together as she progresses.  I just wonder what happened to a couple of the characters that appear early in the book, but then do not appear anywhere again, apart from in the thoughts of one of the males whose back story is told.  The Author has also skilfully included characters in this novel that are really not likeable, at all, by anyone who reads this.

The description of the desert and mountains are very well done, to the point where you can almost hear the coyotes barking in the night, and feel the dip in the temperatures as the day draws to its close.  And small town life is described to a ‘T’.

The subject of the book is very well handled, for such a concerning topic.  Graphic details are kept to a minimum, but not to the degree where the horror of the situation is diluted beyond belief.  There is no gratuitous sex or violence in this book, which will please those who are getting tired of Authors using it to pad out their novels.  Also there is minimum use of the F-bomb, again pleasing for those its use might offend.

I don’t usually mention the way a novel has been printed in my reviews, but felt that this one would have to be an exception.  The pages were printed in such a way that, people like myself who hate to break the spine on a book, can read this in its entirety without having to do so.  This was due to the wide margin along the spine edge of the pages, and is something that I, personally, would appreciate other publishers implementing.

Despite a few proofreading errors, this fresh and original book is full of well-rounded and compelling characters and plenty of sharp dialogue which is appropriate for the context in which it is used.  The plot is atmospheric and twisting in a way that keeps you turning the pages to the totally unexpected conclusion.

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A Conversation with Mystery Author Peggy Rothschild

I am currently reading ‘Clementine’s Shadow’ by the Author Peggy Rothschild, a review of which will be coming up shortly.  However, I’m always interested to learn more about the Authors I read; their motivation, lifestyles and the such.  Not because I’m some kind of weird stalker person, but because I feel it can help when I review their work. It helps me see if their experiences have influenced their writing style, or they have set their work in an area they are extremely comfortable and familiar with.

Clementine's Shadow

If you are reading Peggy Rothschild at the moment, you may want to head on over to Omnimystery News and read their interview with Ms. Rothschild, as they put her under the hot lamps.

From Steampunk to Steamy (and all ports in-between)

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The question of why people read literature continues to perplex. The usual assumption is that people read for pleasure and, of course, reading is pleasurable. But does this mean it’s like eating chocolate? (mmmm, chocolate)  That doesn’t seem quite the right idea, and doesn’t explain why we read the genre we do.

Is a love for a particular type of writing something we learn at an early age, or is it like a fine wine, it matures and grows as we get older?  And why are there some genres we just can’t love, no matter how many times we read them (romance in my case)

I suppose to find the answer to these questions; we first have to understand why people read.  Is it for learning, aesthetic pleasure or to confront experiences?  Defining why we read, may then lead to an understanding of how this links in with the genre we choose to read.

Literature, in all its forms, can offer us many things; from exciting narratives that can be read uncritically, simply because they allow us to escape the problems and responsibilities of our everyday lives and to participate, however briefly, in a world of experience that differs radically from our own; to works that serve as a social document, giving us insight into the laws, customs, institutions, attitudes, and values of the age in which it was written or in which it is set.

One of the most compelling characteristics of literature, in my opinion, is its relationship to human experience. When we read we have to actively engage and participate.  Simultaneously, it is also an act of clarification and discovery. Literature allows us, as no other medium can, the chance to overcome our own bias and the limitations that are imposed by sex, age, socio-economic conditions, and the times in which we live. Characters in our chosen genre, offer us immediate access to a wide range of human experiences we otherwise might never know. As readers we observe these characters’ private as well as public lives, and become privy to their innermost thoughts, feelings, and motivations. We almost become the voyeur in another’s life, and this is amplified in books such as ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’.  Many of the classics as well as ‘paperback pulps’ have survived precisely because of the freedom and escape they can offer our imagination

Character make up in a particular genre, may also be instrumental in our reading it.  To know why we identify with one character and not another may tell us about the kind of person we are or aspire to be. If we are sensitive and perceptive readers, we may have much to learn from these encounters, which may possibly enrich the quality and affect the direction of our lives, though the precise effects of these encounters are impossible to predict and will vary from one reader to another. One mark of a ‘great’ written word is its ability to have an effect on the reader. In the same way, it is this effective power of fiction, drama, and poetry that also helps to explain the survival of these works.

So, it seems from this brief journey we can surmise that the genres of book you prefer is driven by many things and, not implanted into your mind from an early age.  It is a good thing that we all don’t like the same genres, as if we did, they would be in short supply and a lot of good Authors out there would never have their dream of becoming published realized.

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Review: Crossing the River ~ Harold Titus

Crossing the River

(re-posted due to the blog gremlins eating the original post)

Crossing the River brings to life General Thomas Gage’s failed attempt, April 19, 1775, to seize and destroy military stores stockpiled at Concord by the Massachusetts Provincial Congress. Characters of high and ordinary station confront their worst fears. Illustrating the internal conflicts, hubris, stupidity, viciousness, valor, resiliency, and empathy of many of the day’s participants, Crossing the River is both a study of man experiencing intense conflict and the resultant aspects of high-risk decision-taking

 5 Thumbs-Up

This is a sweeping, epic historical novel of the time leading up to the first battles in the American Revolutionary War.

The Author obviously put a great deal of effort into researching this period, as is apparent when reading the novel. He writes as if he were writing in 1775, using the language as it was used then, in his dialogues and describing scenes as they would have been described by contemporary writers of this age.

There is a large cast of characters in this novel of both factions, and this allows us to view the complex situation and unfolding events from different perspectives including, on the British side, different class perspectives too. Each character is well rounded, and given a back story which helps the reader to relate to them, and understand their motivation for doing the things they do. However, for some, there may seem to be an overwhelming number of characters, but considering the topic, this could not have been written any other way.

For military battle buffs out there, this has something for them too, as his descriptions of the battles and the military interaction between Officers and Soldiers is first class.

This novel is a must read for all lovers of historical fiction and military fiction, and I am curious to know if the Author will write a follow up to this novel, given the wealth of resources available to him.

 

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Review: The Z Redemption ~ Daniel Wetta

The Z Redemption

A call for heroes! Is passionate love the transforming force that forges heroes? David James, ex-CIA agent and co-founder of a quasi- paramilitary group called the Zs, never expected to find passionate love in Mexico with a married business woman, Ana Valdez. Ana herself had surprises in life. She unwittingly became a living symbol, a national icon for the Mexican people sick to death of the corrupt government leaders who could not protect them from the bloody excesses of the drug cartels. While trying to hide their affair, Ana and David get sucked into the violent world that they are trying to upend.

They have friends in high places, including the President of the United States. In Mexico, their associates shockingly orchestrate a military coup. The Mexican Armed Forces sequester the Mexican President and most of the members of the Federal and State governments. With the help of the Zs, David and Ana feverishly work to manage the chaos which ensues in Mexico. Things quickly take a desperate turn when El Gato, a boss in Mexico’s most powerful drug cartel, personally targets David and Ana for his own self-serving purposes. He has shocking plans: to exploit them in his mission to build a “Narco-continent.” The bedlam of civil disturbance in Mexico and the United States as a result of the coup provides the perfect environment for him to accomplish his goals.

In addition to the Presidents of Mexico and the United States, the cast of characters includes leaders of international drug cartels; military commanders; young Zs like Enrique Santos who will fight for freedom and public safety; and Eduardo Ortiz, the crafty “king maker” behind the scenes of Mexican politics.In the center is David Wilson James, a man whose life of intrigue is book-ended by two passionate affairs with Mexican women who shape his extraordinary life. These are Annie Ortiz, Eduardo’s daughter, who is the ardent flame of David’s youth, and Ana Valdez, the younger woman of David’s older years, for whom David would give his life.

Redemption can only be achieved through blood and high purpose. Are the personal sacrifices of David and Ana sufficient to pay the ransom that will stop the advance of unconscionable evil? The Z Redemption cuts into the deep entrenchment of organized crime in the world we think we know. It shows the kind of courage ordinary people will be forced to muster in order to fight its cancerous growth.

 5 Thumbs-UpThis is a tense international thriller in the best sense of the word.  In his debut novel, the Author has made his mark and, if he continues writing the rest of the Trilogy in this manner, could well be on the way to standing up there in the ranks next  to masters such as Eric Van Lustbader and Christopher Reich.

There is a large cast of characters, but each of their back stories are so masterfully and seamlessly told, that there is no chance to lose track of who is who, and what their part is in this novel.  It is apparent from the way they are woven into the main body of the book, that a lot of time and thought went into the development of each character and, could possibly have been a result of the Author pulling from personal experiences with this particular group of people.

The plot is fast paced and intense; something we can all relate to in this day and age with the ever increasing news coverage of this type of event.  As with his character development, the Author has obviously invested a lot of time into his research and thought into how he was going to put this onto paper.  I really enjoyed this book and, have to say that this is the hardest review I’ve written so far, as to give it the full attention it deserves I would have to include spoilers, something I don’t do.  I am looking forward to reading the other two novels in this series to see where things go.

Even if political thrillers are not usually what you read, and they aren’t my go-to book, take the time to pick up a copy of this and jump right in.  Be warned though, you will need to, turn off the phone, put on comfy clothes and fasten your seat belt, as it’s a thrill packed,  unstoppable, page turning journey.

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