Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Tenth Saint Blog Tour

The Tenth Saint by D.J. Niko
Publication date: January 25, 2012 by Medallion Press
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
Synopsis:

Gold Medal Winner, Popular Fiction, 2013 Florida Book Awards.
Cambridge archaeologist Sarah Weston makes an unusual discovery in the ancient Ethiopian mountain kingdom of Aksum: a sealed tomb with inscriptions in an obscure dialect. Seeking to ascertain the translation and the identity of the entombed man, she and her colleague, American anthropologist Daniel Madigan, stumble upon a lethal conflict.
Tracking down clues in Addis Ababa and the monasteries of Lalibela, Sarah and Daniel uncover a codex in a subterranean library revealing a set of prophecies about Earth’s final hours written by a man hailed by Coptic mystics as Ethiopia’s tenth saint. Violently opposed by the corrupt director of antiquities at the Ethiopian Ministry of Culture and Tourism, they’re left for dead in the heart of the Simien Mountains. Surviving to journey to Paris, Sarah is given another piece of the ancient puzzle: a fourteenth-century letter describing catastrophic events leading to the planet’s demise.

Connecting the two discoveries, Sarah faces a deadly intercontinental conspiracy to keep the secret of the tenth saint buried. Risking her reputation and her life, Sarah embarks on a quest to stall the technological advances that will surely destroy the world.

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I am happy to participate in the virtual book tour for The Tenth Saint by posting a guest post by the author including an excerpt from the novel. 

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Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to your blog. Below is an excerpt from Chapter Seven of The Tenth Saint. It is a passage from the historical subplot which tells the story of Gabriel, a Western man who came to live with Bedouins in the Empty Quarter, in the fourth century CE, under mysterious circumstances. It is an interesting glimpse at Gabriel's inner turmoil, which is rooted in the dissonance between his own notions of man's supremacy on the planet and the Bedouins' commitment to living with the Earth's rhythms. This conflict is one of the central themes of the book, a contemplation that never quite gets resolved, as the answers are not so clear-cut. I hope you enjoy!
Gabriel was by nature an analytical man. What the nomads knew by instinct, he knew by mathematical exactitude. His mind dwelled in the realm of logic and order. On a steaming summer day, his logic told him a sandstorm might be approaching. He could tell this by the temperature of the air and ground and the direction from which the rare breezes came. When the air was bone-dry and so hot that breathing felt like a gasp for oxygen in a fire and the sand so hot it could not be traversed even by those with the most calloused feet, he knew, before the Bedouins themselves knew, what would happen: in nature’s inimitable way of attempting to achieve balance, the heat would distribute itself upward and outward by organizing convection currents. If the heat was intense enough and the currents strong enough, a fierce wind would be formed and move mass quantities of sand with no regard for anything or anyone in its way.
 Gabriel went to Hairan to relay his suspicions. He bowed his head in respect and pointed his eyes toward the ground. “Shaykh, it has not rained in months. The air is still and hotter than I have ever seen it. The camels are restless. I fear great walls of sand are coming.”
Hairan grimaced, the furrows in his forehead and around his eyes deepening till he looked ancient. He shot Gabriel a hard gaze, meant not to provoke but to challenge. “And how is it that a man who has never lived in the desert knows so much?”
Though he had been there almost a year, he was still considered a visitor. “I humble myself to your wisdom and that of your tribesmen. I do not know the desert like you do, but this I know. I am certain of it.”
“Abyan.” Hairan used the name Da’ud had given Gabriel. Everyone had adopted the epithet. “I believe you are sincere in what you say. But you have to respect the knowledge of the people who live and die by this desert.” In an apparent show of courtesy toward the visitor, he made an unusual concession. “I will call the council of elders together this evening. You may state your concerns before everyone. Then the elders will make a decision, and you must abide by that decision whether you agree with it or not.”
No sooner did Gabriel agree than he began to regret it. How could he possibly explain it to the elders? They spoke a different language, literally and figuratively. None of the ruminations of his mind would make sense to them. He couldn’t write down mathematical formulas, or explain concepts like the interaction between ground heat and the atmosphere. They looked at the weather like their ancestors always had: intuitively. They knew rain was coming when they saw the scarabs burrowing in the sand. They knew the weather would get cooler when birds started flying south in great numbers. And they knew sandstorms were coming when they saw smoke on the horizon.
***
There was no smoke this night. The sky was clear, its indigo cloak illuminated by a dazzling, perfectly round moon. The elders were gathered in the communal tent, smoking their pipes and recounting stories from the past when Gabriel entered.
The room fell silent.
He worried everyone already knew what he was about to say and, worse, had prejudged him. He shook off his momentary desire to make for the door and stood firmly before them.
Hairan addressed his tribesmen in the authoritative tone his rank demanded. “Abyan has something to say to us. Listen carefully. His is a warning. Warnings are never to be taken lightly.”
Gabriel spoke in a combination of Bedouin dialect and hand gestures. “Brothers, friends. I am but a stranger to these lands and bow to your wisdom. I claim no authority over this council, but I humbly ask you to heed what I am about to say. I have cause to suspect a great wall of sand is heading in our direction as soon as midday tomorrow. The people must prepare for this now.”
“You realize this is a grave matter. Why should we believe you?” one elder asked.
“Have you seen a vision?” asked another.
“No, no visions. Just fact. The desert is too hot. Even the animals feel it.” Gabriel struggled to disguise his frustration. “It will rise up and revolt to bring itself back to a balanced state.”
“Tomorrow we ride for the oasis,” said one of Hairan’s top lieutenants. “If we take cover as you are suggesting, we will miss our turn in the fertile lands. This would be devastating for our people and for the animals.”
“But not taking cover would be far worse. You could lose lives and property. It would be a major setback for the tribe.”
The elders whispered among themselves, clearly weighing both sides of the equation.
As the deliberations became more heated, Hairan clapped to call for quiet. He turned to Gabriel. “You must take your leave now. We will discuss this matter in private, and we will inform you of our decision. Please . . . go.”
With a sense of foreboding, Gabriel exited the tent. He had hoped that the elders would be more reasonable, that when faced with the prospect of death and destruction, they would choose the safe route even if doing so wasn’t convenient. Now he wasn’t so sure.
They seemed to be divided, clearly unconvinced a random white man could have any knowledge of things they had learned through the wisdom of their ancestors. His kind had no jurisdiction here.
When Hairan finally walked out of the tent, his old eyes screwed up, Gabriel could tell what the verdict was.
“I will lead the caravan to the oasis tomorrow. We have no supplies, no water. If we do not go, we will surely suffer the consequences.”
Gabriel clutched his unruly blond hair, now so long it dusted his shoulders. “This is madness. I can see what’s happening here. I am not one of you, so you summarily dismiss me. You would rather risk lives than believe a white man. Is that it?”
“This isn’t about you, Abyan. What I believe is that these people’s livelihood is at stake. Their very survival. I will not put them in the way of peril.”
“And yet peril is exactly what you will face.”
“We have been through countless sandstorms and survived. We are not afraid.”
He pointed at the chief, fully aware it was a sign of disrespect. “You are being foolish. You will regret this.”
“When I asked you to present your case to the council, I also said you had to accept their decision. It shows bad character to go back on your word.”
Gabriel looked away, insulted. Hairan might as well have slapped him.
Aware of the checkmate, the chief softened his tone. “All will be well. You will see.”
Gabriel did not reward him with a reply or even a look in the eye.
Hairan turned and walked to his tent.
Da’ud signaled to Gabriel to come sit with him and his cronies by the fire. Handing him a pipe of tobacco, the young man said, “You look pale, Abyan. What has happened to you?”
“I don’t belong here, my friend,” Gabriel said. “No matter how much I know or how I try to help, I will never be accepted. We both know that.”
“You are different from us. You do things a certain way, and we do them another way. That is not a bad thing.”
“Says who?”
“Our covenant. We believe no man is greater than another. Your knowledge and beliefs have a place in your society. We respect that. And you must respect our way of looking at the world.”
“You are too young to be talking like this.”
Da’ud laughed. “I’m not so young. I’m getting married before the next full moon. You will dance at my wedding, no?”
“You? Married?” Gabriel feigned shock. “Of course. I wouldn’t miss it. Besides, who else will pick you up when you drink too much of that camel-piss wine?”
Da’ud pointed to the pipe in Gabriel’s hand. “Or smoke too much of this camel dung.”
“Camel dung? That’s what I’ve been smoking all this time?” He took another puff. “Rather good.”

The two men laughed and shared a smoke. But even that lighthearted moment couldn’t lift Gabriel’s sense of dread. 

***************

About the Author

DD.J. Niko is the nom de plume of Daphne Nikolopoulos, an award-winning author and journalist. Her first novel, titled The Tenth Saint, was released in March 2012 to rave reviews by both readers and the trade. In March 2013, it was awarded the Gold Medal for popular fiction in the prestigious, juried Florida Book Awards. An archaeological thriller embroidered with historical motifs, The Tenth Saint takes readers on an adventure across the globe: Ethiopia, the Syro-Arabian Desert and Abyssinian Empire circa fourth century, London, Paris, Brussels, and Texas. The Tenth Saint is the first book in The Sarah Weston Chronicles series. The second, titled The Riddle of Solomon, releases July 1, 2013.
Daphne is now at work on a historical novel set in tenth century B.C.E. Israel. The epic story details the collapse of the United Monarchy and the glory and fall of the empire built by King Solomon. It will be released in early 2015.
As a former travel journalist, Daphne has traveled across the globe on assignment, or for personal discovery. She has been to some places most of us don’t realize are on the map, and she has brought them to life through her writing for various magazines, newspapers and websites on an international scale. Her travel background and rich experiences now bring authentic detail, color, and realism to her fiction.
She also is the editor in chief of Palm Beach Illustrated magazine, a 62-year-old luxury-lifestyle glossy. She also is the editorial director of Palm Beach Media Group, and in that capacity oversees 11 magazines and 3 websites.
She is the mother of twin toddlers and, in her spare time, volunteers for causes she believes in—literacy, education, child advocacy, and the advancement of traditional and tribal arts from around the world. Born in Athens, Greece, she now lives with her family in West Palm Beach, Florida.
For more information, please visit D.J. Niko’s website. You can also follow on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.


Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Wednesday, November 20
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Thursday, November 21
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Friday, November 22
Guest Post at A Bookish Libraria
Monday, November 25
Review at Just One More Chapter
Wednesday, November 27
Review at The Lit Bitch
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Thursday, November 28
Guest Post at A Book Geek
Monday, December 2
Review at Library of Alexandra
Tuesday, December 3
Review at For Winter Nights
Wednesday, December 4
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday, December 5
Interview at For Winter Nights
Friday, December 6
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Monday, December 10
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading




Monday, November 25, 2013

Checkmate blog tour: Excerpt Post


Checkmate by Jonathan Patrick
Publication date: July 22, 2013 by 3R Publishing
Source: Publisher/author via Closed the Cover (CTC) 
Synopsis:
It’s a difficult time in America. Several years of attempted economic and social fixes have failed. Its major cities have reached a tipping point whereby any disaster, manmade or natural, would have devastating consequences. America is no longer seen by its friends or enemies as the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” Washington bureaucrats are involved in every decision and political correctness rules the day. The country that used to, only a few short years ago, project its military might outward to the world, has had its own military forces striped to the bone. No service has felt this impact more than the United States Navy. With only a fraction of combat vessels left to patrol the world’s oceans and keep peace in the world, decisions are no longer based on safety and national security but by financial necessity.

With most of its once mighty navy staying in port, and the remainder stretched thinly across the globe, America’s enemies now have different words to describe America: weak…and very vulnerable.

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I am happy to participate in the book tour by posting an excerpt from Checkmate
Below is an excerpt from chapter four:

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The government background check took almost six weeks to get them cleared into the building. During that time they spent their days scrubbing the software of the specific requirements for the previous user and leaving a clean slate for them to build whatever it was the CIA wanted. It took another four weeks for them to get their initial agency specific Top Secret clearances and find out what they would be doing.
     As it was explained to them by Ramón Rodriquez, the BOATSS system was a new and emerging system global acoustic array that had been designed to identify ships over twenty five tons by their unique sound characteristics or “acoustic” signature. This information would be cross referenced against any other information gathered on the vessel such as photographs of the vessels in port, at sea or by satellite imagery. With this information, a profile could then be created for the particular vessel.
     The emerging concept was that by documenting and tracking the ships, you could identify which ports they visited and potentially predict not only where they were traveling to, but potentially what they were transporting. This was the system the United Nations had wanted and partially funded. The system’s hardware technology was a significant upgrade from the Navy's current Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS) array that had begun to show signs of wear and tear due in some part to age but funding issues as well.
     Although upgraded and combined with other systems and now called the Integrated Undersea Surveillance System (IUSS) the system had not been designed for the overwhelming amount of data now being demanded from it. The new “BOATSS” system was marketed as a standalone system whose information would be released to the UN for treaty and embargo enforcement.
     Like many other programs in D.C., the reality and scope of the program was somewhat different than what was publicly announced or revealed. The reality of the project was that the CIA pushed some much needed funding over to the Navy's side of the ledger for some projects for which the Navy had been unable to acquire funding. They did this in exchange for the Navy's complete acoustical libraries on all foreign ships, and some trained personnel. The CIA's plan was to piggy back the information gathered with old SOSUS sensors onto the new more robust system and be able to track whatever it wanted, where ever and whenever it saw fit.
     Jewels, Gina, and several other new program staff members listened intently to the new employee presentation. The man giving them their briefing said he realized that all this information was a lot to digest on their first day. He addressed his next comments in the direction of Jewels and Gina. He let them know he understood the magnitude of the task at hand and that he would understand if it took some time to get the new software figured out. Ramón Rodriquez explained, in what both Jewels and Gina later described as a most condescending manner, that this was very complex software unlike any he had ever seen.
     It had been quite obvious during the presentation that Ramón Rodriquez was a pig of a man. He gave Jewels the once over, twice, and appeared to be smitten the moment Jewels walked in. He was so obvious that even the other people in the room were uncomfortable.
     At the conclusion of his presentation, Ramón asked them if they had any questions. Jewels found him very annoying and noticed his rather poor attempts at hiding his desire for her. With as dry a wit as she could muster and in an obvious attempt to embarrass him she looked him in the eye and said “I've seen this type of program before and it's actually very simple to use, are you sure this is all they need us to do?”
     Several people snickered.
     Ramón Rodriquez, his face red as a beet, replied yes.
     Jewels was very pleased with herself. As they walked out the door, she nonchalantly asked Ramón, “What is it you do around here?”
     He looked at her with what could best be described as pure detestation and said, “I'm your boss."
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***Edited to include: Don't forget, you can  enter a giveaway to win an eBook of Checkmate over on the tour page on Closed the Cover (http://www.closedthecover.com/checkmate-virtual-tour.html.
(Thanks for the reminder, Ashley!)
 
 
Follow the rest of the tour here

Tour Schedule



Tour Hashtag: #CheckmateTour

November 14, 2013
Closed the Cover  - Kick-off Post and Giveaway

November 16, 2013
Rants Rhymes Reviews - Book Excerpt & Giveaway

November 17, 2013
Closed the Cover - Guest Post

November 19, 2013
My Nook, Books & More - Book Excerpt and Giveaway

November 21, 2013
Book 2 Buzz - Book Spotlight, Book Excerpt and Giveaway

November 23, 2013
Beth's Book Reviews - Book Excerpt and Giveaway
Book Talk with Alana - Book Review & Author Q&A

November 25, 2013
A Book Geek - Book Excerpt

November 27, 2013
Wi Love Books - Book Excerpt & Author Q&A
Entirely Books - Guest Post

November 29, 2013
Rants - Rhymes Reviews - Book Review

December 2, 2013
Everything Marie - Book Review

December 5, 2013
Feed My Reads USA - Promo and Book Excerpt

December 6, 2013
Closed the Cover - Book Review





Book Details

Picture
Author: Jonathan Patrick
Edition: First Edition
Format: eBook
Publication Date: July 22, 2013
Publisher: 3R Publishing

View it on Amazon
Tour Hashtag: #CheckmateTour

About the Author


Jonathan Patrick is a retired U.S. Air Force veteran who lives with his wife and two children in the Carolinas. His military career took him to many countries around the world and exposed him to the inner workings of several key intelligence agencies and programs. He has recently begun work on his second novel.







Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Anvil of God Blog Tour and Review

Anvil of God by J. Boyce Gleason
Publication date: July 26, 2013 by iUniverse
Source: Publisher/author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for an honest review
Synopsis:
It is 741. After subduing the pagan religions in the east, halting the march of Islam in the west, and conquering the continent for the Merovingian kings, mayor of the palace Charles the Hammer has one final ambition-the throne. Only one thing stands in his way-he is dying.
Charles cobbles together a plan to divide the kingdom among his three sons, betroth his daughter to a Lombard prince to secure his southern border, and keep the Church unified behind them through his friend Bishop Boniface. Despite his best efforts, the only thing to reign after Charles’s death is chaos. His daughter has no intention of marrying anyone, let alone a Lombard prince. His two eldest sons question the rights of their younger pagan stepbrother, and the Church demands a steep price for their support. Son battles son, Christianity battles paganism, and Charles’s daughter flees his court for an enemy’s love.

Based on a true story, Anvil of God is a whirlwind of love, honor, sacrifice, and betrayal that follows a bereaved family’s relentless quest for power and destiny.


My Take:

I found Anvil of God by J. Boyce Gleason to be much more interesting and exciting than I had initially expected. Charles Martel, the mayor of the palace, is only in the book briefly because he is dying. He tries to arrange things so that his sons won't fight each other and hopes that war won't break out. Of course, his fears come to pass due to all the likely reasons. The two older sons, Carloman and Pippin don't think their half-brother, Gripho, should get part of their inheritance and feel that they each will be put at a disadvantage.

Carloman is also heavily involved with and influenced by the Church and he has a large army made up of his Knights in Christ. Pippin, while a great fighter, is not as highly regarded by his brother, his father and the other influential people. These two brothers argue and compete against one another for their father's regard and then for his land and power.

Sunni is Charles' second wife and she is a very likable character due to her intelligence, independence and her personality. She was raised a pagan and still practices the rites in secret. Despite her token acceptance of Christianity, most people around her are suspicious of her and of her son, Gripho.

Charles had one daughter, Hiltrude, called Trudi in the book. Trudi doesn't act like a typical lady of her station. She wanted to wear armor and learn to fight like a man and Charles allowed her to do so. This was not met with much approval, but Charles doesn't seem to have cared much for what other people thought. Trudi was another of my favorite characters because she is strong, independent and smart. She has a tough time because, of course her father has chosen a husband for her and she isn't happy about the chosen candidate at all. She decides to follow her own path and has a long, difficult and exciting journey/adventure/trial to get through.

Anvil of God is full of intrigue, betrayal, battles, corruption, as well as love and loyalty. I don't know very much about this time period or the people involved, but I enjoyed reading Gleason's novel detailing some extremely exciting and violent events.  I appreciated that the author explained what was known about the period and what he changed or made up to tell his story.

I think that anyone interested in military history, the early Church, medieval history and historical fiction in general would enjoy this book.  As with basically any book about this time period, there is a lot of violence of all kinds, so you have been warned.  I found the set up for the series about the Carolingians to be very intriguing and I do look forward to reading more about this violent and dynamic time period and family.


About the Author

J. Boyce GleasonAfter a 25-year career in crisis management and public affairs, J. Boyce Gleason began writing historical fiction and is publishing his first novel ANVIL OF GOD, Book One of the Carolingian Chronicles. With an AB in history from Dartmouth College, Gleason brings a strong understanding of the past to his historical fiction. He is married, has three sons and lives in Virginia.
For more information please visit www.jboycegleason.com.

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, October 28
Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, October 29
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading
Monday, November 4
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Tuesday, November 5
Review at Reading the Ages
Wednesday, November 6
Guest Post at HF Connection
Thursday, November 7
Interview & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court
Friday, November 8
Review at Library of Alexandra
Monday, November 11
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Tuesday, November 12
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Wednesday, November 13
Review at From LA to L.A.
Review at The Most Happy Reader
Thursday, November 14
Review at Bibliophilic Book Blog
Monday, November 18
Review & Giveaway at The Bookworm
Tuesday, November 19
Review at A Book Geek
Wednesday, November 20
Review at Let Them Read Books
Thursday, November 21
Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Friday, November 22
Review at The Musings of a Book Junkie
Monday, November 25
Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Interview & Giveaway at The Most Happy Reader
Wednesday, November 27
Review at The Calico Critic
Thursday, November 28
Review & Giveaway at WTF Are You Reading?

Friday, November 29
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee


http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/anvilofgodtour/


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Absence of Mercy

The Absence of Mercy by John Burley
Publication date: November 19, 2013 by William Morrow Paperbacks
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss for an honest review
Description from Goodreads:

A doctor and father in small town Ohio weighs the need to catch a killer against his fears for his family's safety in this debut psychological suspense novel

Just west of the Ohio River, lies the peaceful town of Wintersville. Safe from the crime and congestion of city life, it is the perfect place to raise a family . . . or so they thought.

Life as the town medical examiner is relatively unhurried for Dr. Ben Stevenson. With only a smattering of cases here and there-car accident victims, death by natural causes-he has plenty of time to spend with his loving wife and two sons. That is until a teenager's body is discovered in the woods and Ben, as the only coroner in the area, is assigned to the case. But as the increasingly animalistic attacks continue, the case challenges Ben in ways he never suspects.

With its eerie portrait of suburban life and nerve-fraying plot twists, this is psychological suspense at its best-an extraordinary debut that challenges as much as it thrills.


My Take:

When I first started reading The Absence of Mercy, I didn't know if I was going to like it, despite the fact that I really liked the premise of the book. It took me a few chapters to get drawn into the story, but once I did, I had a hard time putting the book down.

This book is the stuff of a parent's nightmares. Really. We follow Ben, the medical examiner, working in a small town as he tries to help the authorities solve a brutal murder. The murder itself is horrific and the fact that the victim is a teenager just makes the whole thing worse.

I was pulled into the search for the killer and was intrigued by the way information is given to the reader if one pays attention. The growing horror of gradually figuring out who was behind the murder(s) was pretty gut-wrenching.

I liked how characters are very slowly examined, but at first, it is difficult to determine if a character is just quirky or if it is something more sinister. I was kept guessing for awhile. However, there are clues for the reader about several of the characters.

I think this book will stay with me for awhile. I find myself thinking about certain events or aspects of a character at odd moments. This was a disturbing read, but I couldn't put it down. For a first novel, I think it was pretty impressive and I look forward to reading more by John Burley.






Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Gracious Living Without Servants Blog Tour

Gracious Living Without Servants by Brenda Cronin
Publication Date: October 7, 2013 by Stoneslide Media LLC
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours for an honest review
Synopsis:
Juliet has done the right thing all her life, and where’s it gotten her? She’s a thirty-year-old widow who’s had to move in with her parents.
Things start to look up when her glamorous—but married and much older—neighbor Seth seems to be flirting with her and his wife helps her land a job at a local paper.
Then she’s assigned to investigate Seth’s wife. Juliet is quickly immersed in lies, manipulation, and a deepening sex scandal. But she feels alive for the first time in a long time.

Maybe she needs to do the wrong thing for once. Or maybe she’s headed for disaster.

My Take:

Gracious Living Without Servants was quite an unusual book. It isn't often that I love a book but disagree with the main character so very much. I found the premise quite promising and interesting, I loved the location and the way the characters are written and the tone sounds right. However, I just could not understand many of Juliet's actions or her motivations for them.

Juliet is a young widow whose husband dies very suddenly and unexpectedly. This is understandably, a very stressful time for her and she is quite fragile at the beginning of the book. For reasons that I cannot fully comprehend, she begins an affair with a much older neighbor - a friend of her parents and old enough to be her father. This alone had me pretty baffled. I have nothing against age differences, but thirty years is a big difference and Juliet knows his wife. In fact, the wife helps get her a job at the local paper.

Perhaps her affair was a gradual way for her to ease back into her life without really committing to it. I don't really know. But once she is assigned - actually, she asks for the assignment - to investigate Naomi, the wealthy wife of Seth, the man she is having an affair with, she certainly should have broken it off. She doesn't break it off and proceeds with the investigation and even asks Seth for information. I found that quite amusing.

Needless to say, there is quite a scandal to be discovered and Juliet finds more than she bargained for. I enjoyed the process and the story line was quite interesting and entertaining. Naomi isn't quite what she pretends to be, and neither is her husband. I had a feeling about parts of what was discovered just due to the descriptions of how Naomi worked, but the rest, well, I will just leave that alone for now. Despite the obvious conflict of interest, Juliet manages to write a good piece and pulls her life together, probably. Maybe. Naturally, there are consequences to her actions. It is difficult to believe that a thirty year old woman wouldn't be able to see the implications of her actions and how the affair would ultimately end.  I was pleased that everything wasn't tied up in a neat little bow. Life is seldom that neat and this story wouldn't have been as good if that had happened.

I really enjoyed the book even though I couldn't understand or condone Juliet's actions. The book was well written and I enjoyed it very much.


About Brenda Cronin

Brenda Cronin writes for The Wall Street Journal, where she has worked since 2001. Her short fiction has been published on both sides of the Atlantic. This is her first novel. Born in Washington, she was raised in Connecticut and lives in New York City.

Brenda’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, October 15th: bookchickdi
Wednesday, October 23rd: Bibliotica
Monday, October 28th: Book-alicious Mama
Wednesday, October 30th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Thursday, October 31st: A Simple Life, Really?
Tuesday, November 5th: Anita Loves Books
Thursday, November 7th: Brooklyn Berry Designs
Monday, November 11th: Amy’s Book-et List
Tuesday, November 12th: A Book Geek
Thursday, November 14th: Obsessed Italian Brat

TBD: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom





Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Game: A Thriller

Game: A Thriller by Anders De La Motte
Publication date: December 3, 2013 by Atria Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley for an honest review
Description from Goodreads:

From a former police officer, the first novel in a groundbreaking Scandinavian trilogy about a deadly game that blurs the line between reality and fiction in a world obsessed with social media.After a long night of partying, Henrik “HP” Pettersson, a slacker with a big ego and no impulse control, heads home on the train. Finding a mobile phone from an unknown company, HP begins receiving messages—addressed to him—inviting him to play a game by a secret and insistent master. HP doesn't hesitate before agreeing to play.

HP is the perfect contender: he is alienated from society, devoid of morals, and wants to be a star. The assignments, ranging from childish pranks to criminal acts, are all filmed and uploaded onto a protected server where viewers rate the players’ performances. Everything is coordinated by a mysterious Game Master, unknown to the players or the viewers. But before long, the game spills out into the real world and threatens innocent people.

HP’s sister, Rebecca, is a bodyguard with the Swedish Security Police. The opposite of her brother, she is haunted by traumatic memories and dark secrets from her past. As the game continues, Rebecca begins to realize that her past may not be so secret after all. HP’s assignments become increasingly risky, and he pushes beyond acceptable limits, determined to become a superstar. In the hunt for bigger risks, HP loses touch with reality and puts his own sister in danger. Will HP’s loyalty to the game win out over his love for his family? Or will he come back to reality and save his sister?

With an intriguing blend of break-neck suspense, humor, and informed commentary on social media, Game takes Scandinavian crime fiction to the next level.




My Take:

When I read the description for Game, I was intrigued and hoped that the book would be a fun, fast-paced read. And I was not disappointed. Once I figured out kind of what was going on, I was hooked. The narrative switches back and forth from HP's to Becca's point of view throughout the book. The reader gets to experience their lives parallel to one another and this makes the differences between the siblings really stand out. I was intrigued by their back story and how it still plays into their choices and their loyalty to each other.

The reader follows along as HP gets drawn further and further into the Game and experiences the things he is willing to do in order to gain points, money and notoriety. Or the notoriety he thinks he is gaining. This book has some very interesting things to say about our society and our focus on "likes" and online fame. I found it quite interesting and so much fun.

I loved the conspiracy story line so much. Everyone loves a conspiracy, right? The Game has so much to revel in. I loved how HP slowly gets the bigger picture of what is going on - or what he thinks is going on. There is also lots of questioning what is real and what is fantasy.

There are also some pretty interesting supporting characters in the book who get to make big contributions to HP and his quest. I really liked HP's friend, Mange - or Farook, as he prefers to be called. He seems to be a true friend to HP and one of the people he can count on in a pinch. But there is also something else at play here, but exactly what that is hasn't been revealed yet. Farook has a lot of connections and I suspect he will continue to play a role in the books. At least I hope so.

I'd say the book definitely works, since when I got a couple of chapters into it I had to get the second book because I just knew I would want to read it as well. If it hadn't been so late when I finished reading Game, I would have started reading Buzz, the second book, immediately.







Tuesday, November 5, 2013

House of Earth Blog Tour

House of Earth by Woody Guthrie
Publication date: February 5, 2013 by Harper Collins
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours for an honest review
Synopsis:
Finished in 1947, House of Earth is Woody Guthrie’s only fully realized novel—a powerful portrait of Dust Bowl America, filled with the homespun lyricism and authenticity that have made his songs a part of our national consciousness.

Tike and Ella May Hamlin struggle to plant roots in the arid land of the Texas Panhandle. The husband and wife live in a precarious wooden farm shack, but Tike yearns for a sturdy house that will protect them from the treacherous elements. Thanks to a five-cent government pamphlet, Tike has the know-how to build a simple adobe dwelling, a structure made from the land itself—fireproof, windproof, Dust Bowl–proof. A house of earth.

Though they are one with the farm and with each other, the land on which Tike and Ella May live and work is not theirs. Due to larger forces beyond their control—including ranching conglomerates and banks—their adobe house remains painfully out of reach.


A story of rural realism, and in many ways a companion piece to Guthrie’s folk anthem “This Land Is Your Land,” House of Earth is a searing portrait of hardship and hope set against a ravaged landscape.

My Take:

I have mixed feelings about House of Earth by Woody Guthrie. There are places in the book where I could really appreciate his poetic and musical writing. Some of his descriptions are quite good and do relay what I think was the desired effect and invoke the desired response from the reader. But, unfortunately, most of the time I was annoyed. First, I have a real problem with most of the dialogue between Tike and Ella. I grew up in Oklahoma and my family has lived there since before it was a state and I don't know anyone who speaks like this. Despite the numerous times that Guthrie says that these people are noble and intelligent and whatever, the dialogue does not support this and just makes them seem stupid and closed off from the rest of the world. There are some authentic phrases used and those were fun to read because I haven't heard them since my grandparents were alive, but for the most part, the dialogue didn't seem real to me. The relationship between Tike and Ella seemed contrived and while it did convey that their physical relationship was a big part of what made them happy together, I really would have preferred to read much much less about that aspect of their lives. (The sex scenes go on for pages.)  It does seem to convey, at least in part, how there isn't much else that is enjoyable in their lives and their struggle to keep ahead of the dust and keep the house standing and their general insecurity about having a place to live.

This book frustrates me because I like Woody Guthrie as a musician and I sympathize with his political ideas.  But I found his writing of dialogue to be annoying and I don't think he should have written sex scenes - ever. That part of the book was just not a pleasant reading experience.

At the same time, some of the descriptions of the landscape and the general descriptions of life for the people living such a hard existence in this barren area were really quite beautiful and poignant. So, I am torn in my feelings about House of Earth. I truly wish that I had enjoyed the book more, but that is just my response to the book. I think there is definitely an audience for the book; sadly, I am just not the audience.  I don't know that it would appeal to everyone, but if you are a fan of Woody Guthrie and want to sample his writing outside of his music, this would be the opportunity. This book might also appeal to those who are interested in a general sense of the hardship of life during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl in Texas and/or Oklahoma.

About Woody Guthrie

Woodrow Wilson “Woody” Guthrie (1912-1967) was an American folk balladeer whose best-known song is “This Land Is Your Land.” His musical legacy includes more than three thousand songs, covering an exhaustive repertoire of historical, political, cultural, topical, spiritual, narrative, and children’s themes.


Woody’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, October 22nd: Lavish Bookshelf
Wednesday, October 23rd: The Blog of Lit Wits
Thursday, October 24th: Lit and Life
Monday, October 28th: Mom in Love With Fiction
Tuesday, October 29th: M. Denise C.
Wednesday, October 30th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Thursday, October 31st: Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Monday, November 4th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Tuesday, November 5th: A Book Geek
Wednesday, November 6th: Man of La Book

Thursday, November 7th: Broken Teepee